The Dirty Secret Behind Strawberries

Strawberry in the gardenAre you a strawberry lover?  If so, you are part of the vast number of Americans who enjoy one of the most popular, refreshing, and healthy natural treats on the planet!

All fruits shine with rich colors, signifying they are bursting with antioxidants that help fight disease and benefit your health!  Strawberries are no exception, plus they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals…which include folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and are one of the highest fruits in Vitamin C.  Is it any wonder they have won the title as one of the top 10 “super foods”!

Armed with this information, you may not be surprised that Americans consume about eight pounds of strawberries per year -nearly four times as much compared to 1980.  But what you may not know is that we are also consuming  dozens of pesticides, including chemicals that have been linked to cancer, neurological problems, and shown to disrupt our hormones and reproductive systems.  (Many of these chemicals have  been banned in Europe.)

Years ago I loved picking strawberries by the bushel each Summer…and the excitement and enjoyment that  came once a Season, and now they are available anytime.  Ever wonder what may have changed over the past decades to allow that to happen?  Sadly, an increase in chemically-aided growing methods and use of pesticides are largely to thank for making strawberries available year round.  Strawberry growers in particular, have been found to use jaw-dropping volumes of not only pesticides, but poisonous gases to sterilize their fields before planning, killing every pest, weed, and other living thing in the soil.

Here are a few Facts from the USDA’s 2014 testing of 176 batches of strawberries:

  1. Almost all samples – 98% – had detectable residues of at least one pesticide
  2. 40% had residues of 10 or more pesticides
  3. The dirtiest strawberry sample had residues of 17 different pesticides
  4. Strawberry growers used 60 different pesticides in various combinations

Want to know more and just how hazardous these chemicals are?  Read the full report from the Environmental Working Group.  

The report is short and a must-read to be informed.  EWG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.  EWG is unique in that it offers reliable factual information that is not skewed by the government or big food companies.

So How Do You Reduce YOUR Exposure to Pesticides? …Go ORGANIC!

Just last month the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the 2016 edition of the EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce.  For the first time, it elevated STRAWBERRIES to #1 on the top of the Dirty Dozen List!  (It took the lead after conventionally grown apples topped the list for the past 5 years.)

So, to help keep you up to date, and give you the facts so you can be the most informed consumer… here is your own copy of the 2016 EWG’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce!    For more information on Pesticides in Produce see my past blog post. Remember… organic produce is also free of GMO!  If you read April’s newsletter, you may have hopped on the non-GMO bandwagon.

One of my favorite ways to “carry” my shopper’s guide with me, (to remember top fruit and veggies that are on the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15 list) is by using the free app! Check it out and never leave home with out it!

Oh and by the way…

Please support our wonderful local farmers…many of which are certified organic or use less pesticides than other conventional growers.  Check it out – What’s In Season in Florida in May!

Drop me a line and let me know if you found this to be helpful. Do YOU plan to use EWG’s Shopper Guide?!

Let’s strive together for Food Safety and Optimal Wellness!

 ~Julie

 

Are you Hurting Your Health by Choosing the Wrong Oils?

My favorite oils“Oil is oil right?” Oh, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! (I cringed slightly as I heard this walking down the aisle of the grocery store.) Just like any other product we choose to consume (food, beverage, or supplement), we need to be mindful and informed shoppers to protect and optimize our health.

You may have seen the 60 Minute episode recently that showed olive oil imported from Italy really wasn’t olive oil at all. Yikes! And just the other day I picked up a jar of coconut oil and it listed palm oil on the back?  I must confess, up until several years ago, even I was deceived by the marketing! Not only that… but I realized how I was actually using them was HURTING my health. Not anymore, and why I chose to post a blog to help you!

I find that clients are finding it exceedingly challenging to navigate not only the supermarket aisle, but filter through consumer ads, friend’s recommendations, and “health expert” blogs. So I want to give you the most accurate information on how to make the best informed choice for your health. Here you will find pointers and some of my favorite brands to help you when selecting 2 popular and healthy oils – olive and coconut.

Quality is key… as well as understanding how it is Sourced and Processed.

OLIVE OIL

You can imagine how competitive selling olive oil can be due to its popularity and touted health benefits. In his book Extra Virginity, Tom Mueller takes us through the sublime, scandalous world of olive oil. He discusses how resellers add lower-priced, low-grade oils filled with artificial coloring to extra-virgin olive oil. In fact, one study demonstrated about 69% of olive oil imported and labeled “extra-virgin” failed to meet standards in an expert smell and taste test. Crazy! When it comes to olive oil (or really any oil), you have to do your research and pick the best ones. While most oils are refined, olive oil is one of the few oils we still consume mostly unprocessed.

Here are important considerations when choosing olive oil:

  • Always choose extra-virgin, which is the oil that is derived from the first pressing of the olives. This version of the oil contains many nutrients (such as polyphenols) that protect it from heat damage. One study compared the anti-inflammatory power of the oil from the first pressing of olives with that of later pressings. Researchers found extra-virgin olive oil lowered inflammation, while oil from later pressings did not.
  • Choose unfiltered. Unfiltered olive oil will appear to be cloudy because it contains naturally occurring elements like antioxidants which protect against oxidative damage.
  • Look for cold-pressed olive oil, which means manufacturers use very little heat when processing olives to get the oil.  Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil provides the strongest possible nutrient value because of low-heat processing, along with the oil’s first pressing high phytonutrient content.
  • Be aware of misleading claims by big food companies who throw around terms like “pure olive oil.” These somewhat misleading phrases often signify a mix of unrefined and refined virgin olive oils.
  • Avoid extra-light olive oil. Companies love slapping this “light” term on foods because it appeals to those consumers looking for “low fat”. These terms subtly suggest all fats are bad and make you fat, absolutely not the case! Low-fat or “light” foods are often highly refined and processed. (Oh, we have come a long way since the “fat-free” days of the ’80’s…thankfully our culture and consumers are beginning to demand more wholesome foods, free of preservatives, additives, and dyes!)

Other tips to get the best out of your olive oil…

  • Storage is important because heat and other factors can trigger oxidation and other problems. Always store olive oil in a dark, cool place. Keep it sealed tight and out of direct sunlight or away from other heat sources like near the stove. (boy did I get this one wrong years ago when I stored it smack up against my oven; and then often waited to put the cap on after I was cleaning up after my meal!)
  • Use olive oil within one to two months once you open it for optimal health benefits. (Hint: that may mean purchasing a smaller bottle!) Research shows quality and health benefits decline after two months, even among properly stored olive oils.

COCONUT OIL

Coconut oil has hit the market and boomed in sales over the past several years touting its health benefits…in particular for its medium-chain-triglycerides, a beneficial fat that may boost metabolism and convert to energy quickly in your body, and also help with overall gut health!

  • Just like olive oil, always select coconut oil that is organic, virgin, cold-pressed and unrefined.
  • Avoid products that are deodorized or bleached.
  • Coconut oil is one of the most versatile oils because it’s very stable. You can bake with it and use it when cooking meat, veggies and sauces over medium-high heat. You can put it into your smoothies, hot beverages, or stir into hot cereals.

6 Strategies for Buying Oils

The next time you purchase olive oil, coconut oil, or any other type of oil, consider these six strategies. (Oh and remember…use a wide variety of healthy oils (listed below). Each offer benefits so don’t just stick to one type of oil, explore!)

  1. Always choose organic, unrefined, cold-pressed, or expeller pressed. These terms ensure you’re purchasing a quality, highly nutritious and sustainable product. Organic production prohibits genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) and the use of toxic solvents (such as hexanes) for extraction in oils.  If possible, check out the company directly. Ensure the product is truly cold-pressed and lives up to its claims and standards, and that the manufacturer does not use toxic solvents in the refining process. Check out websites and don’t hesitate to email or call them with any concerns.
  2. Choose oils in dark, not clear bottles. The dark color helps protect the oil from direct sunlight exposure, which can cause it to go rancid.
  3. Store the oil in a cool, dark place away from heat and light exposure such as cabinets or the fridge in airtight containers.  Never store oils on sunny kitchen counters or next to the stove.
  4. Always tightly close the lid after using. Oxygen can make oil go rancid quickly.
  5. Purchase the correct size and consume in the time recommended. Remember oils tend to go bad after a span of a few months or years depending on the type of oil. Those mega-store gargantuan containers, are not such a great buy if you don’t use the oil.
  6. Choose the right oil for the job. Because different oils have different smoke points, it’s important to choose the right oil for the task at hand. Here are the temperatures at which some of the more popular oils reach their smoke points (lowest to highest):
    • Sunflower oil, unrefined: 225 F
    • Red Palm oil: 302 F
    • Walnut oil, unrefined: 320 F
    • Coconut oil unrefined: 350 F
    • Extra-virgin olive oil: 375 F
    • Macadamia oil: 413 F
    • Almond oil: 420 F
    • Grape seed oil: 420 F
    • Hazelnut oil: 430 F
    • Avocado oil: 520 F

My top picks for Olive and Coconut Oil:

Since I often have clients ask me “what do you use”…here you go:)!  I am not necessarily promoting these specific products, these are just one’s I have come to use and love.  (Be sure to check out the link above where the olive oil expert Tom Mueller provides an extensive list of his picks for the best quality and best-priced brands.) 

Olive oil: In the past I have used California Olive Ranch ; and most recently Melina International Trading Company (Jessica’s Farmers Market and Specialty markets).

Coconut oil: I like Nutiva because it’s cold-pressed, virgin, organic, never refined and ethically sourced. Nutiva also carries a red palm oil I have yet to try.

Hopefully armed with these strategies you will feel empowered and confident to make sure you are purchasing and using high quality oils good for your health!

Leave a comment and share some of your favorite picks of oils you use and love!

With you on the Journey Toward Optimal Health & Abundant Living,

Julie 

“Spring Green Cleaning” for Good Health!

Mix of green vegetables and fruits on rustic backgroundSPRING is in the air!  If you missed this month’s Newsletter,  it was packed full of tips on “Spring Cleaning” for the body, mind and spirit.  As we begin to clean our homes (inside & out), we should also do the same for our body.  It is the perfect time to transition from more “winter” foods to those that help the body detox from those indulgent moments over the Winter of festive food delights (grin). Cleansing is a gentle and effective way to bring the energy of renewal into our own lives. “Spring cleaning” is more than just detoxifying the body, it can also mean avoiding toxins our environment and thoughts as well!

You may have heard critics argue that the human body is designed with just the right physiological processes necessary to clear the body of impurities and maintain health. Yes, that was likely true 20+ years ago. Unfortunately, for many people, lifestyle habits and the environments where we live, work, eat, and play often expose us to toxins that our bodies don’t efficiently eliminate. (Let’s face it, times have changed. We are exposed to more things that can impact our body than ever before – changing times often mean shifting our approach and focus to achieve optimal wellness!)

The toxins you can be exposed to everyday include:

  • heavy metals in the food and water supply
  • environmental pollution, including pesticides
  • electronic devices
  • chemical food additives
  • smoking; overuse of alcohol or OTC drugs
  • use/overuse of Rx medication
  • prolonged high stress
  • poor quality diet, sleep, and lifestyle habits
  • frequent colds or chronic illness

Below are some gentle and safe ways to bring the energy of “spring cleaning” into your life,

from the inside out…

  1. Rest the digestive system by eliminating solid food for a short time.  This is the time to consider homemade vegetable juices, broths, or carefully planned protein shakes to provide the extra nutrients that help your body eliminate toxins.  Leafy green veggies are particularly cleansing, especially those that are bitter such as dandelion, Endive, parsley, beet, kale, Swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, and arugula.  The advantage of making “greens” juices and shakes at home is that you have control over making sure it includes the highest quality ingredients.  After cleansing re-introduce a balanced healthy eating plan. Here is one of my favorite GREEN protein shake I have been drinking lately.
    • Combine 11/2 cups filtered water with 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1/4 cup ice
    • Add the following
      • 1 scoop of pea protein powder (I like SunWarrior Plus or Designs by Health Pea Protein)
      • 1 1/2  cup local spinach, Swiss chard, or kale
      • 1/3 cup frozen blueberries or strawberries
      • 1/2 Tbsp. maca root powder
      • 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed or chia seed
      • 1 Tbsp. raw pumpkin seeds
      • 1/3 avocado
    • Blend in Nutribullet, Ninja, or Blender! 
  2. ‘Water’ your body and entice it with herbal tea. Drinking water and tea are a perfect way to cleanse and hydrate the system.  Make sure you are drinking clean, filtered water.  Try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon to your water to stimulate the liver each morning.  Different herbal teas have different cleaning properties.  Some great examples are dandelion, burdock, ginger, licorice root, mint, fennel, and cardamom. I enjoy using fresh loose organic tea (vs. tea bag), however when I do use a tea bag one of my favorite brands is Traditional Medicinals.  Ginger tea with cardamom is my “go to” for good digestion and to curb cravings for sweets in the afternoon!  
  3. Reset your sleep time routine.  Research is clear, we cannot underestimate the benefits of a good nights sleep.  Not just a couple times a week but every night!  It is important to commit to a regular bedtime and wake time to help your body’s circadian rhythm. Not to mention, that critical quality 7-8 hours we all need to function at our best and avoid the side effects of a poor sleep pattern such as cravings for sweets, weight gain, lack of focus, fatigue, brain fog…(need I go on!).  Do you really think skimping on sleep is helping you get more done? If you do nothing else for your health this Spring…DO commit to a routine sleep patter! (oh, and think you “need an app for that”? Check this out as one option)
  4. Go ‘Green and Clean’ in Your Home. Often a major area of toxic exposure is in our homes. Household cleaners, laundry products, lawn care chemicals, and bug sprays expose us to numerous chemicals and petroleum based toxins than ever before.  (Especially if you are clean-freak like me. This was an area I had to really “clean up” a year ago). Even cosmetics, perfumes, shampoos, face washes, deodorants, and toothpastes have chemicals that can disrupt our health. (For some more than others). Health food stores offer environmentally-friendly, all-natural products. Personally, I love using high-grade essential oils to make all my own cleaners, weed killer, and even bug spray (It really works and is less expensive!)
  5. Manage Your Stress & Breathe.  Think back over your day today.  Did you take any deep cleansing breaths? (If you were like me about 8 years ago…I honestly couldn’t think of a good time I actually breathed!) Just taking the time to breathe has been shown to enhance both physical, mental, and spiritual well-being; and help to overcome stress, boost energy, focus your mind, improve sleep, and foster greater peace.  Stress itself can wreak havoc on problems such as IBS, bloating, heartburn, headaches, and more.  Furthermore, it can contribute to chronic inflammation.
    • Take time to breathe deep each day.  One of my favorite breathing exercises is called “flapping your wings”! (I can’t remember where I learned this!).  Here is how it is done:
      • Sit up straight and relaxed in your chair. Close your eyes,  take a deep breath and let your shoulders relax, and hang your arms at your sides.  Close your mouth gently and bring your tongue to the roof of your mouth.  (When I do this, I visualize shutting out the world).  Through your nose, breathe in deeply for 4-6 counts as you slowly raise your arms to your sides and up to the sky.  Next very slowly lower your arms as you breathe out through your mouth for 4-6 counts.  Repeat this 3-4 times.  Do you feel refreshed?!  
    • Looking for a book to help you breathe and manage stress?  Check out The Healing Power of the Breath by Richard Brown

Following a detox program suited to your personal needs supports the body’s natural cleansing process and boosts your health in many ways:

  • Allows digestive organs to rest
  • Stimulates the liver to process toxins more efficiently
  • Promotes movement of bowels
  • Improves circulation
  • Restores vital nutrients and energy to the body
  • Provides clarity of thought and refreshment to the soul

What is YOUR Plan this Spring to have a gentle “Spring Cleaning”?  You maybe looking for a comprehensive plan or intend to focus on one of the areas listed above.  I would love to learn about your plans and support and guide you along your journey.

Cheers to an AMAZING SPRING ahead!

Julie

My 6 “Rules” to Live By in the Kitchen

 Flavor, health, memories, perceptions, desires, and traditions are all things we associate with FOOD, which influences our choices and approach to eating!  When I help people embrace food as a positive and exciting aspect to their journey toward abundant health, it is important to stay away from hard set “rules and restrictions”.  Instead, I like to take an individual and collaborative approach using structure and strategies that will work best for each person.

We are all unique and different!  That is what makes YOU so special, and why the same approach will not work for every person.  That being said…there are some basic tenets you may want to consider while planning, preparing, and eating your meals that will promote good health.  I strive to incorporate these myself, and I hope you find them helpful too!

  1. Love the Food You Choose to Eat:  It honestly hurts my heart when people tell me they have been eating bland food they don’t enjoy for years, and they feel guilty for eating pleasurable food.  Food is meant to be pleasurable, enjoyable and satisfying!  I love hearing clients say “I love the food I am eating AND I feel amazing and happy”.   One of the selling features when I bought my home was the kitchen. On the wall painted in deep red it reads, “Approach love and cooking with equal abandon”.  Spend some extra time to put “love” into preparing a meal that you can’t wait to enjoy. It will empower you to eat well (and happy) for life!
  2. Know Where Your Food Comes From:  It is more important than ever to mindfully select safe foods (uncontaminated) while also being aware of the environment, quality of the food, and nutrient density.  (Think about it… WHERE did those chicken nuggets actually come from and WHAT is in them (see #3)…? (grin)). Here in Florida, we are blessed to have so many local farmers (many organic)  to support! This helps not only our environment and carbon footprint but also offers more nutrient-dense produce vs. food shipped all the way across the country which often doesn’t land on our plate for days or weeks.  Know where your food comes from, so YOU can make an informed choice…and make a commitment purchase more local!
  3. If You Can’t Pronounce It, Don’t Eat It: Yes, this sounds pretty basic but super important.  Check out the next flavored drink or even that “healthy” protein powder or coconut milk you choose to drink. You may be surprised to see words that are not coming from Mother Nature!  Even I get surprised at some of the ingredients in food I have purchased, despite my desire to eat as close to nature as possible! So, check your labels…ingredients can change without you realizing.   (Remember these 6 to avoid)
  4. Step Back and Ask – Is This Food Harming or Helping? This was a big lesson for me based on how some foods impacted my health.  Most of us know what foods help us feel our best and ones that don’t.  I finally came to a place in my life years ago. when I decided it just wasn’t worth it anymore when I had a reaction, felt lousy, or sluggish. So you may ask yourself prior to eating, is this helping me feel my best, keeping me balanced, and moving me towards my health goal”?  Now, we must remember that this would apply about 90% of the time.  Don’t underestimate the value of sharing the occasional pint of good ice cream with your “besties”.  So just like rule #2 and 3, it is important to be mindful, but not so strict that you can’t be REAL!
  5. Make it Last – I don’t know about you, but I don’t cook every night.  I plan meals around my recipes lasting us for several days, whether it is a dish to be eaten as left overs or reused in a way to create another dish.  For many (myself included), this is the only way to be healthy and have a balanced life.  Let’s face it, when we are cooking every night (unless cooking is your true passion), it is easy to get burned out and just grab “take out”! Check out one of my favorite meals that I can eat all week long…
  6. Sit Down (and Up) to Eat – Too often we don’t stop to enjoy (or acknowledge) our meals or even those around us.  In our Western world we eat while we move, multi-task, slouch on the coach, or drive in our cars. This can impact our digestion, weight, happiness, gratitude, mindfulness, and relationships! Sitting at a table (upright) with others, allows us to better digest our food by slowing down our eating and lives!  One constant attribute to all cultures of centenarians is the importance of socializing and joy, particularly around meal times.  We cannot overlook the health value of stopping our busy lives and sitting down to enjoy a meal with others. Priceless!

Leave a comment and let me know what “rules” you follow in the kitchen to set  YOU up for success.  

I would love to hear from you.

Oh, and just a “little insider”… next month I would like to help you with your Spring cleaning.  Yes!  Spring is coming and with it a good time to clean up your kitchen and focus on your wellness dreams.  So I am feeling really grateful and have decided to offer a little “gift” to those who are part of the JBS Community.

So… if YOU have not subscribed to my Newsletter and to receive regular updates…now would be the perfect time to Sign Up!

(Only those who are on my LIST will receive the Spring treat!)

Happy cooking and meal planning!… Julie

Boost Brain Health with “B”s!

Have YOU ever misplaced your keys, lost your train of thought mid sentence, forgot why you walked into the next room, or felt like your brain was in slow motion trying to process through a problem? (Fess up! I hope you are grinning in agreement and if you are not… call me to let me know your secret.)

 Let’s face it… brain health is a concern these days! More specifically related to cognitive function involving memory, mental speed, and problem solving. Many of us worry our brains are not working as well as we think they should. It is true! Cognitive function declines as we age. Despite not being able to stop the aging process…B vitamins, particularly folate, B12, and B6, play an important role in keeping our brains sharp! (and our heart healthy as well!)

What you may not realize is that 75-90% of the risk for developing dementia related illness often lies within 4 factors: quality of diet, smoking status, physical activity, and your genes. So, what do you need to know to help maximize your brain function (and be good to your heart)?

 Don’t get distracted… now FOCUS 🙂 !

Here it is:

Start by eating food sources of your B vitamins, commit to regular activity, AND consider learning your genetic risk factors!

Why B’s are Vital?

Folic acid (B9) (the synthetic form) or folate (the food form) along with Vitamins B6 and B12 help keep levels of homocysteine, an important amino acid, in a healthy range.   Elevated levels of homocysteine in the blood have been linked to an increased risk of age related cognitive decline, as well as Alzheimer’s disease. (We also know high homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor of heart disease!) Homocyteine itself may not be the problem, but rather its link with associated low levels of B vitamins needed to protect the brain (and heart). These low levels may be due to an inadequate intake within your diet OR your body’s inability to properly utilize the vitamins you consume, based on a genetic malfunction in your DNA.

Brain shrinkage (ouch!) occurs with aging and with it a decline in the neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals, that help communicate information. Interestingly, B6 and folate are important for producing several neurotransmitters. This is why supplementation with folate, B6, and B12 (for those deficient) has been shown to reduce brain shrinkage by up to 50%. Understandably, the most significant improvement was seen in people with high homocysteine levels. So this, and a collection of research, shows us IT IS POSSIBLE to slow down brain shrinkage and declining mental performance!

Folate – Women, this is particularly important for you! A recent study found that postmenopausal women who failed to get the Recommended Dietary Allowance of 400mcg/day of folate were at increase risk of cognitive impairment. Hard to believe that more than ½ of the women in the study had intakes well below this amount. Folate has been a hot topic recently due to the new statistic that up to 50% of the population has a mutation in the MTHFR (methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase) gene that could impair the ability to effectively break down folic acid properly. (So basically, that means that due to a genetic glitch, these individuals are unable to break down and use folic acid, which also impairs other metabolic pathways and nutrient deficiencies). It’s best then to supplement with the active form called 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5MTHF).

Food sources: Leafy green veggies, citrus fruits, beans, nuts, and whole grains

Supplement with: ~400-800mcg folate for most individuals (use the active form mentioned above).

B12 – The reason why you see “senior” multivitamins with added B12 is that aging decreases our production of stomach acid.  This is required to detach B12 from food protein so the vitamin can be absorbed. (Also, if you are taking an acid suppressor, be aware that this will also compromise your levels!) Poor memory is one of many symptoms of B12 deficiency, and a reason why the Institute of Medicine suggests adults older than 50 years of age take a B12 supplement.

Food Sources: Fish, meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, some fortified foods (such as tofu) and nutritional yeast

Supplement with: ~200-1000 mcg of vitamin B12 (based on your individual needs). Look for methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin, the active forms.

B6– A 2012 study of older adults published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that daily high-dose supplements (20mg) of vitamin B6, in addition to B12 and folate, given for 2 years were associated with slowing cognitive decline and brain shrinkage compared with a placebo… especially in people who had high homocysteine levels at the start of the study. Signficant!

Food sources: Tuna, salmon, meat, potatoes, beans, seeds, nuts, bananas, and organ meats

Supplement with: 20-200mg (look for pyridoxal 5’-phosphate, the most active form).

Take Action Today!

  1. Consider getting your homocysteine levels checked. (Ask your doctor or discuss with Julie on your next visit for testing options.)
  2. Look beyond just a multivitamin and consider an activated B-Complex. (That is the methylated or active forms). Most multivitamins do not meet all your B-needs.
    • Remember, not all supplements are created equal and can cause more harm than good. Consider using lab tested professional grades…. I have developed a  handout, Considerations for Selecting Supplement Companies, to help you make an informed decision.
  3. Focus on including at least 2 cups of leafy greens most days of the week.
  4. Consume low-mercury containing wild fish (ie. salmon, cod, shrimp) at least 2x/week.
  5. Identify food sources that you enjoy for each vitamin. Write them down, post on your frig and make it a point to rotate these into your meal plan daily.

Remember, if you are deficient, just eating these food sources may not be enough to elevated your levels and supplementation may be indicated. Based on your past medical and family history, you may want to investigate your genetic profile to see if this may be a cause for low level vitamins and elevated homocysteine levels.

Need some help getting your B’s worked into your daily eating plan? Do you want to test your homocysteine levels or find out if you have a mutation in the MTHFR gene?… contact me! My goal is to provide you with the information and resources you need to make an informed decision, as we work together to personalize a nutrition and wellness plan to help you achieve optimal health!

Never been in for a visit? I would love to chat with you about your nutrition and wellness goals and dreams…why wait on feeling your very best! Give me a call for a 20 minute complimentary phone chat today

With you on the journey toward optimal wellness 🙂 

~Julie

Gratitude – it’s good for you!

gratitude2“If you concentrate on finding whatever is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul.” ~Harold Kushner

Take a few seconds and think of 3 things that you are most grateful for….  how do you feel? Are you smiling?  Happy people actively exercise gratitude, choosing to live with an attitude of gratitude. The happiest people can move beyond that biological set point. (Because let’s face it, we all vary in the degree of gratitude that comes naturally.) Research clearly shows that developing habits and practices, such as mindfulness, yoga, meditation, and prayer, can transform our lives for the better. By actively practicing gratitude, we can actually raise our “happiness set-point,” regardless of the situation and no matter the circumstance.

Appreciation makes us aware and mindful of the blessings present in our life, from moment to moment. There is always something to be grateful for if you are fully engaged in what’s happening in the now!  Try to live in the moment and notice the blessings around you, instead of replaying the past or worrying about the future that you currently can’t control.  When you are ready to face or deal with those tough situations, you will be in a better place to manage or conquer the circumstance…surrounded by positive thought.

Here are 10 reasons practicing gratitude should be on your “to do” list:
  1. Improves confidence in ourselves (especially through change)
  2. Strengthens immune system (improves resiliency)
  3. Promotes forgiveness (of self and others)  
  4. Improves sleep
  5. Fosters a feeling of connection (less lonely)
  6. Increases energy
  7. Brings more happiness = deeper life satisfaction
  8. Reduces anxiety and depression
  9. Strengthens relationship (makes us feel more confident and committed)
  10. Increases clarity, memory, and creativity

BONUS: We appear more attractive to others!

To experience these benefits, we must become intentional and mindful!  For some, gratitude comes easy and for others it takes more practice to develop gratitude and raise the “happiness/glass half-full set point”.

Incorporate one or more of these practices into your daily life: 
  • Keep a “Gratitude Journal” for one week.  Create your own or purchase….here is one of my favorites but there are tons to choose from.  Find one that resonates with you!
  • Every morning, start your day with a simple gratitude exercise that involves writing down 3-10 things you are grateful for, no matter how big or small. ( I did this exercise for 1 month listing 20 things every day – wow, one of the best experiences…still wondering why I didn’t keep it up!) 
  • Set your phone timer for 3-5 minutes and sit still, quiet your mind, and breath deep. Bring to mind all you appreciate in a free-form stream of consciousness, without any editing. (Don’t worry if it makes sense or not.)
  • For a week, write one thank you note per day, to tell someone how much you appreciate them and why.
  • Practice self-appreciation. Take time for seven days in a row to write yourself a note of gratitude.
  • Pick out 3 things in your day that are beautiful. Take time to notice and appreciate them in the moment and then write them down.

You will be amazed at how effortless recognizing these moments of grace starts to become. These small blessings cultivate a beautiful abundance of love and joy, and can aid you tremendously in your journey of making healthful lifestyle change.

 When you are grateful, change is more achievable!

Love yourself and others, give yourself grace, embrace healthy change, and you will live life ABUNDANTLY!

LEAVE A COMMENT: I would love to hear about your favorite “gratitude practice” OR how adding a gratitude practice has impacted your life…

With Joy & Gratitude for YOU!     ~Julie

12 Habits for Sustainable Weight Loss & Wellness in 2016

So…did you set any goals or resolutions this New Year, expecting to completely transform your weight or health? Have you experienced (maybe even just 2 weeks in!) mounting stress, faltering motivation, and frustration that good intentions are falling prey to old habits?  Why??  Because most of us set our goals/intentions too high to realistically achieve success, OR fail to establish a reasonable plan of attack to conquer our greatest health desires.

How can you avoid this in 2016?  

Think of goals like going on vacation!  You know where you want to go, but you don’t really know the details of what will happen while you are there.  And yet at the end of the vacation… it’s all the little events of being there that add up to making the whole experience.

Life is the same way. Instead of focusing so much on your health goal,  focus on the process of getting healthy in 2016 and what you need to get there. That’s what actually leads to sustainable weight loss and improving health so you can live abundantly! So in other words, break it down!  Take small SMART (Small; Measurable; Realistic; and Timely) steps to gradually get to your end goal.  I know we all want immediate success, but if you are looking for long-term change… this is your TICKET to a successful journey!
Check out these 12 small habits that WILL transform your health if you are not already doing them.  Select 2-4 that you feel are realistic for you.  Establish HOW you will set up for success. (For example: I will plan my meals for the week on Saturday and on Sunday prep and cook some items so I am set up with lunches for the work week!)   After you set 2-4 goals for the week or month, begin to gradually implement for real results!

Committing to small realistic steps (that you can confidently achieve) will get you to 2017 healthier than the year before! (Or give me a call and we will work together to fine-tune your goals and wellness dreams to help you soar into 2017 healthier than ever!)

1. Chose to eat breakfast every morning.
To keep blood sugar steady throughout the day, make it a habit to eat something nourishing in the morning. (And no, a cup of coffee doesn’t count).  If you tend not to be super hungry in the a.m., try making a green smoothie or something easy that you can bring along with you to work, like oatmeal. (Here is just one favorite Green&BlueSmoothie)

2. Drink more water.
We tend to forget how important water is for our daily well-being and overall health. (Did you see the Newsletter last month and how quickly we dehydrate!)  Make it a habit to drink pure, clean water throughout the day. To do so, start by actually planning water breaks at points during the day (since we tend to forget our intentions when they’re not scheduled in). You should also start your day with a 10-20oz glass of water upon waking up.

3. Eat something green every day.
Adding green veggies, like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, or dark, leafy greens to your daily diet helps keep your digestive system healthy and your meals more nutritionally nourishing. (ie. making an omlete?  Toss in some spinach and tomatoes!) 

4. Choose whole, real food.
To promote satiety, we need fiber, fat, and good protein from whole foods. The complexity in real and whole foods also provides higher nutritional value, which adds up to feeling full and nourished, eating less, and losing weight without feeling deprived.

5. Schedule time for every meal.(uninterrupted preferably!) 
Time is a luxury, and real, sit-down meals tend to be one of the first things we skip when we’re busy or under stress. But we need to remember that mealtimes are the perfect moments to get relief throughout the day. So block out time for each meal, every day.  You will be MORE productive as a result.  (how much can you really multitask while you eat anyway??)

6. Chew more.
One way to naturally practice more mindful eating: Treat every meal as if it’s an expensive gourmet dinner. As you chew, mentally add a dose of appreciation for those who were involved in getting your food on your plate, from farmer to cook.

7. Get eight hours of sleep.
There’s nothing that kills your good intentions faster than being tired. Good sleep helps manage stress and positively influences your food choices, so make restorative rest is an essential habit for health and weight loss in 2016.

8. Move every day.
Any movement counts. If you can’t get to do your preferred workout class or fit in your usual jog, then make an effort to take the stairs whenever possible, fit in an afternoon walk, or even just dance around.

9. Take five seconds to breathe (several times per day).
Simply pausing before acting or making a food choice helps us reflect, so we can change our otherwise automatic habits. It helps you get out of stress mode and make a rational, healthy decision.

10. Schedule time for self-care.
We tend to not give ourselves enough self-care because we don’t plan it and the opportunity never appears (women, you know what I am talking about!) . Put yourself on your own schedule, whether it’s simply time to read a book, get a massage, or take a relaxing bath, every day.

11. Notice your stress eating triggers.
The way to develop coping skills is to know when you need them the most. Take time to learn about your emotional triggers so you can support yourself in those moments. If not, you’ll continue to fall prey to stress eating.
12. Tell yourself something positive every day.
The power of positivity is tremendous (Not a true believer? Check out the book: Positivity by Barbara Fredrickson) Our automatic thoughts and behaviors are hardwired to look at the negative — and that can have a lot of power over us. Instead, make it a habit to tell yourself something positive about your progress at least once per day. (and more often is alway good too;))

Remember enjoy the JOURNEY….check in on your goals weekly and give yourself GRACE in the process of change.  You WILL get there.  Keep it SMART, keep it FUN, and be FLEXIBLE! 

I would love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and let me know what goals YOU set for this New Year!

Or what has been your secret to success!

With you on the JOURNEY ~  (I just KNOW 2016 is going to be the best year YET! can you FEEL it!)

~Julie

The TOXIC FREE Weed Killer That WORKS!

ToxicfreeweedkillerAre you busy in your yard improving that “curbside appeal”?  Did you know you may be exposing yourself to possible cancer causing chemicals?!  

Until just last year…I WAS!  Most weekends you will find me in my yard lovingly trying to help it look its BEST…and that includes killing WEEDS.  And of course my solution to all my weed woes… Roundup®!  It WORKED and delivered every time.  WOW – was I in the dark as to the potential harm.  

The World Health Organization just this year classified glyphosate, an active ingredient in “Roundup®,  as “probably carcinogenic to humans” .  The World Health Organization’s research arm, the International Agency for Cancer Research (IARC), made its updated cancer determination for glyphosate following a review of the available scientific research by 17 of the world’s top oncology experts from 11 countries.

SO, I very reluctantly said goodbye to Roundup®, and have been in search of a chemical-free solution.  My search for an alternative that actually WORKED had been in vain, until a friend of mine introduced me to a crazy “recipe” that I swore would never work.  (THANK YOU KATHY!) After a month of trying to pull weeds by hand (sheer misery) I finally gave it a whirl…  and all I can tell you IT REALLY WORKS!    Here is the Recipe for an all-natural Herbicide.

Mix the Following into a Sprayer (see picture – I got mine for $19 at Home Depot):

  • 1 gallon vinegar
  • 2 cups of Epsom salt
  • 1/4 cup Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds (found at Whole Foods, Richards, Earth Origins) 

Mix well and spray on weeds. It honestly works as well as the Roundup!

Apparently it works because the vinegar is a mild acid, and with the Epson salts and soap it forms a scum that coats the weeds.

(note: when you are done, make sure you rinse and clean the sprayer well before your next application…the Epson salts can potentially clog the sprayer) 

You may think I am “over the top”  but did you know…

  • Approximately 85,000 synthetic chemicals are registered today in the US
  • It is estimated that 1000 or more NEW chemicals are made each year.  and complete toxicological screening data is available for only 7% of these chemicals!
  • 94% of these chemicals have not even been tested for their effects on human health. (references to these stats available upon request!)

NOW more than ever, there is good reason to take “pause” as to the many chemicals and toxins we may be exposing ourselves to on a regular basis.  (For MORE on this – check out one of my earlier blogs)

So be good to YOURSELF, the Environment, Pets, & Neighbors and try this DIY Herbicide!

 I would LOVE to hear about YOUR Experience!  So Leave a Comment….

Oh, and be sure to SHARE with friends, family, and co-workers.  

Let’s take a stand for keeping ourselves and our world HEALTHY!

~ Julie

Balance Your Gut…and Lose the Weight!

Back of meditating woman relaxing in pose of lotus outdoors

As a dietitian/nutritionist I have visited with hundreds of clients over the years who just can’t seem to lose weight. They often seek me out since they are frustrated, exhausted, and confused as to why the “calories in vs. calories out” (AKA: diet approach) is not working. Weight loss is complex!  It involves many factors such as your balance of hormones, stress, environmental factors, genetics, and yes… even the GUT!

My approach when meeting with a new client is to look at the “whole person” exploring in detail areas of their health and lifestyle to determine imbalances that may be contributing…and together find a solution!

Recent research suggests there is a positive-feedback loop between the foods you crave and the composition of the microbiotoa in your gut that that depend on those nutrients for their survival.  

The Microbiota, involves the trillions of microbes that live in your gut. When the microbiome is healthy, you have a rock solid gut and therefore a better chance at regulating your weight. WHY? : 80% of your immune system is in your gut- and your gut microbes help to modulate this system’s activity.

When your microbiome is healthy, your immune system works optimally, and that means you have a lower risk of getting colds, the flu, autoimmune problems, and even cancer. (that is GOOD news!)  You also digest your food better… and you know what that means (grin); less gas and bloating and fewer problems with constipation and diarrhea. AND…it means you get the nutrients your body needs!

Scientist Identify 4 Ways Gut Health Influences Weight

  1. Metabolism – Did you ever think that the microbes that thrive on sugar, could actually lead to your sugar cravings! Gut bacteria harvest energy from the food you eat. The bacteria living in your gut provide roughly 4-10% of your daily calories.
  2. Hormonal Balance – Gut bacteria regulate the release of gut hormones. These hormones control blood sugar, encourage satiety (feeling full) and reduce inflammation.
  3. Genetics – Your genome helps your inner ecosystem. For example, genetic mutations that affect levels of the “satiety” hormone leptin are associated with bacterial balance connected with obesity.
  4. Inflammation – Unhealthy gut bacteria produces toxins that trigger a systemic inflammatory response. Research shows that the levels of bacterial toxin are higher in those who struggle with obesity or Type II DM. In animal studies, high level of bacterial toxin will cause weight gain – without any changes in diet!

An unhealthy microbiome creates inflammation which over time may eventually allow toxins and undigested food particles to escape to your blood stream (not good!). This sends your immune system into hyperdrive, causing chronic, low-grade, system-wide inflammation that makes you sluggish and sick. It’s like a forest fire that never goes out. If you heal this inflammation, research shows the weight is more likely to fall off and you will feel younger and more energetic.

For those of you wondering…your calorie intake still likely factors into the overall equation for weight loss but is often not the ONLY piece to the puzzle.   Keep in mind… if you are focusing on eating clean “whole foods” for a healthy gut, this approach will naturally help with weight loss and healthy metabolism.

(win-win!)

Next blog I will be sharing probiotic and prebiotic foods to stock up on so YOU can keep your GUT healthy!  

ps.  For those of you who received the October Newsletter I hope you are enjoying some GUT friendly recipes!  

Stay tuned….

Until Then… Be good to your GUT, with Whole Foods that Heal!

Cheers!  Julie

12 Worst Potential Cancer Causing Ingredients Lurking In Your Products

EndocrineDisruptors-Paint

Are you reading your labels?

Not just on your food label but how about your non-food product labels ?

(I can almost hear you thinking… seriously??!…Trust me, I was with you several years ago.  I promise it will be worth your while or at least health! (grin).   

Think about this…

Does the smell of your kitchen cleaner, perfume, or scented air freshener ever give you a headache?  Do you worry when your kids or grandkids handle toxic cleaning products and paints?  Do you hear about plastic water bottles being “hazardous to your health?  

 

In my blog earlier this month I reviewed the Dirty Dozen (check it out and get your own pocket guide), which breaks down fruits and veggies highest and lowest in pesticides.

Well, this year, EWG added a new list tackling the toxins that lurk outside the grocery isles.  Those that can increase our risk of cancer and chronic illness. Folks we can’t ignore this.  Now, more than ever, we need to become knowledgeably (not fearful!) of what we are putting in our bodies and exposed to…and take gradual changes to better our health.

Taking a few Simple Steps NOW to Limit exposure (for yourself and family)

will be valuable for your FUTURE wellness! 

Continue reading “12 Worst Potential Cancer Causing Ingredients Lurking In Your Products”