Category Archives: Health

Don’t Worry – It’s Just an Allergy!

Allergies are bloomin’ and every sneeze is now not just annoying to the sneezer, but causes wide spread panic to anyone within earshot. Now we want to reduce our allergy symptoms not just for our own comfort, but everyone else’s too. We have enough to panic about these days.

We get allergies when the immmune system loses tolerance to innocuous substances. Why would that happen? Well, the Standard American Diet and Lifestyle get blamed for many things, and this is no exception. It’s nutrient devoid, inflammatory, toxic, and high in sugar. Add stress to the equation and we have the perfect immune storm. The battered immune system becomes like an in injured, cornered animal – weak, yet vicious, and attacking anything that comes near it. I get into detail about this in my recent post. I highly recommend reviewing that and starting to support your immune system better right away, so over time, you won’t need to sneeze for any reason.

But there are a few additional things you can do right away to alleviate allergy symptoms.

  • Quercetin is a flavonol found in plant foods that helps to reduce histamine, the substance that causes that maddening red itchiness. You can boost your intake by eating more apples and onions. (You’re wearing a mask anyway right now, so why not?) You can also get quercetin in supplement form. In my experience it works extremely well. As always with supplements, quality matters! Pure Encapsulations is a great choice. You may be able to ditch the allergy pills that make you dehydrated and tired, and have this wonderful substance that offers many other benefits (antioxidant, heals the gut, supports the cardiovascular system, has anticancer effects, etc). This is what I love about natural plant medicines – their side effects are also beneficial!
  • Stinging nettle leaf makes histamine receptors less sensitive, so is a great dynamic duo with quercetin. You can drink it as tea! I usually combine with with my matcha green tea. Why not double up?
  • Getting probiotics daily is calming to the immune system and has been shown to improve allergic symptoms. You can get them from a probiotic supplement or from fermented foods like Real Pickles, Kombucha, Fire Tonic (also called Fire Cider), Gut Shots, etc. So many options – pick one you like!
  • You will also benefit from eliminating dairy 100% as it causes excess mucous. Also, elminate gluten as much as possible because it contributes to systemic inflammation and immune hypervigilance. For more about this, see my post about gluten.
  • Some people find that having local raw honey desensitizes them to local pollen. Stir some into your nettles tea!

I hope this helps you to stay allergy free. Let me know how you do!

 

8 Reasons to Cleanse During the Quarantine

  1. We’re not going out partying, drinking Starbucks, or eating decadent restaurant food.
  2. You don’t have to miss out on any fun because you’re cleansing. There’s nothing to miss out on!
  3. We actually have time to exercise, meditate, and sleep.
  4. Although some things are being hoarded in the stores, inexplicably, there is still plenty of produce!
  5. Cooking breaks up the monotony.
  6. You’re bored so you might actually read the eBook.
  7. You’re already cranky, might as well make the most of it.
  8. Because you can come through this pandemic, healthier, stronger, and better lookin’ than before.

PLUS I’m offering a steep 77% Corona discount to make this comprehensive program as affordable as possible (just $35), so more people can improve their health and immune system.

REGISTER

Corona – Reducing your Exposure AND Susceptibility

All of the advice we’re hearing about social distancing, washing hands, and disinfecting, is to reduce exposure to the Corona virus. Hopefully these important measures will slow down the infection rate. But there is an equally important aspect that needs to be emphasized more…

We need to start taking better care of our immune system to reduce our susceptibility to Corona virus, as well as Lyme disease, Lyme coinfections, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, the flu, etc.

We can’t avoid every microbe, even if we sit alone in our houses for a year. So, we really need to keep our immune system healthy and balanced so we aren’t as susceptible to the ravages of these infectious diseases, as well as things like cancer and autoimmunity.

Louis Pasteur, the father of germ theory, concluded that, “The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything!” He was referring to whether our inner tissues are hospitable to microbes or not. Is our immune system nourished and balanced or suppressed and depressed?

If you were to design a diet and lifestyle that would decimate the immune system, it would be the Standard American Diet and Lifestyle! As a society, we are sleep deprived, stressed out, toxic, sedentary, and eating nutrient poor food. The fact that we’ve survived this long is a testament to our incredibly intelligent immune system and biochemistry. Your body is doing the very best it can, within the environment you’re asking it to live.

Let’s improve that environment to the extent we can, so that we can better weather current and future health threats. As a bonus, because everything in the body is interconnected, an immune supportive lifestyle and diet is also a boon to our overall health.

Below are key recommendations to support your immune system. Although numerous research papers and books have been written on these topics, I will do my best to summarize action steps that you can take right away.

Prioritize Sleep

• Your immune system and general wellbeing depend on regular, excellent quality sleep.
• Aim to go to bed around 10 PM and wake up with the sun. Being a night owl (self imposed night shift work) suppresses your immune system.
• Practice good sleep hygiene by avoiding screens (TV, phones, and tablets) an hour or two before bed and remove all ambient light while sleeping. This will help to maximize melatonin, your primary sleep hormone and potent internal antioxidant.
• Create a relaxing bedtime routine. This isn’t just for kids!
• If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try the heavy blanket! It’s like swaddling a baby – except you’re the baby. The gentle, constant compression activates your parasympathetic nervous system (known as the rest and digest nervous system), which helps you to relax and sleep like a baby.
• Magnesium is known as the relaxation mineral. Low magnesium may make it harder for you to relax enough to fall asleep. Magnesium is one of the top three deficiencies in the US. Get more magnesium by eating more leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and legumes. If you opt to supplement, magnesium threonate or magnesium taurate are more relaxing options that increase the action of GABA in the brain.

Reduce stress

• When you’re stressed, your body de-prioritizes immunity because getting over a cold is way less important than escaping from a tiger. Deadlines, relationship stress, financial worries, etc might not feel like being chased by a tiger in your mind, but your body experiences it that way. There’s enough evidence about the negative impact of stress on our whole body. Now is the time to become aware of your stressors and do something about it. Yoga, meditation, exercise, breathwork, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction are all effective strategies. Choose one that resonates with you.

Optimize immune nutrients

• Yes vitamin C is good for your immune system, but it also needs vitamins A, vitamin D, zinc, and protein.
• Start your day with fresh lemon juice in water for vitamin C with all of its cofactors. Oranges, red peppers, broccoli, kiwi are also great sources of vitamin C and other nutrients.
• With sunnier days coming, get out in the sun without sunscreen for 20 minutes so your body can produce vitamin D. If that’s not possible, supplement with D3 drops.
• Eat your darkly colored veggies for beta carotene (which gets converted to A).
• Snack on pumpkin seeds for zinc (these are a great option because they’re sprouted, and therefore more digestible and nutritious).
• Most people get ample protein, but you may want to double check that you’re getting at least 45-55 grams per day from varied sources. If not, plant based protein powder in your smoothie can easily and tastily fill in the gap. (Lately I’ve been liking Orgain best.)

Other dietary considerations

• Some foods we eat are a constant challenge to the immune system, making it less able to fight actual threats.
• A high sugar meal suppresses the immune system for hours… Just in time for your next obscenely decadent latte or snack. If you think about it, most Americans are immune suppressed all day long due to regular sugar spikes.
• The chemicals in pesticides hamper the cellular metabolism of all cells, including immune cells, by multiple mechanisms. Choosing organic foods whenever possible reduces this toxic burden.
• Subclinical food allergies and sensitivities are rampant, and result in chronic activation and depletion of the immune system. The top two food sensitivities are gluten and dairy. For most people, avoiding them helps the immune system stay balanced, which not only makes it more effective in fighting microbes, but also helps reduce the inappropriate immune reactions such as allergy and autoimmunity. There are many delicious dairy alternatives out there now for milk, yogurt, cheese, butter, and even ice cream. Switching from wheat to naturally gluten free grains like rice and quinoa has many benefits.
• Dairy causes most people to produce more mucous, which then provides a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses.
• Garlic, onion, and mushrooms are fantastic for your immune system. Try to eat them every day! I’m going to be writing more about mushrooms in a future post. They are amazing!

The immune system in the gut

• Did you know that two thirds of your immune system is in your gut? The microbiome, or the good bacteria in our gut, is so vital to our health that some consider it an organ.
• Most of what we do decimates that line of defense, including many medications (NSAIDs, antibiotics, oral birth control, SSRIs), fake sugars like sucralose, glyphosate (the herbicide heavily sprayed on many grains), alcohol, sugar, and conventional animal foods which contain antibiotic residues. Minimize all of that whenever possible.
• Boost your microbiome by consuming probiotics (beneficial bacteria) daily whether through unpasteurized fermented foods like Real Pickles veggies, Fire Cider, Kombucha, and/or Gut Shots or a probiotic supplement. Those good critters live on fiber, so feed them with lots plant foods.

Stay hydrated

• Dehydrated mucous membranes are more vulnerable to microbes. Drink a couple glasses of water first thing in the morning (with fresh lemon juice as a vitamin C bonus!) and then sip water throughout the day.
• Minimize things that dehydrate you like coffee and alcohol.
• Eat lots of fresh plant foods that contain lots of water.
• Consider using a humidifier when the air is dry.

Exercise!

• You know it, but here’s a journal reference if you need one. Just do it.
Outside in the woods is especially helpful. Being out in nature increases natural killer cells. Plus it’s fresh, nontoxic air, with plenty of space between germ infested people.
• But don’t over do it. Exercising too much raises your stress hormone cortisol, which suppresses your immune system.

Your immune medicine chest

• These are the things that I have found extremely effective for both cold triage and prevention. It’s a great idea to have them on hand.
• Epsom salt baths. Soaking in the hot tub functions like a fever – it heats up your body causing the viruses to die off and may boost the immune system. The steam also helps to clear your sinuses. Baths are relaxing, and when you’re relaxed, your body can prioritize immune function. I always add the Epsom salts to the bath because it’s a great way to get more magnesium and sulfur (which gently supports detoxification). If you’re congested, you might want to add a bit of eucalyptus essential oil as well.
Oregano essential oil. Put a drop of oregano oil in a shot of water and throw it back. Two or three times a day if you’re sick. This is quite potent, so don’t over do it or splash on your face. I was actually paranoid that I might be getting sick the past couple days because I was extremely tired. I had a drop of oregano oil in water a couple times each day, and I’m good as new!
• Drink tea. Lemon balm and cats claw tea are antiviral. I usually multitask with both teabags in the same mug. Throat Coat is really nice for soothing your throat, and these herbs are soothing for the rest of your digestive system! Another benefit to green tea is that it strengthens and balances the immune system. What doesn’t green tea do?! Matcha green tea (the powdered version) has the most nutrients. Be sure all tea is organic, otherwise the first time the pesticides are washed off the leaves are in your mug.
• Fruit and vegetable extracts. My kids and I have been taking Juice Plus for 10 years, and we rarely get sick. When I feel something coming on, I double it up.
Elderberry syrup and lozenges (which may have added zinc as a bonus) are also very helpful for colds.

I hope that this has inspired you to take great care of your immune system. There’s a lot here, which can be overwhelming. But even if you start with just one thing, that is a step forward. Comment below if you have any questions. I’d also love to hear what your remedies are!

Image attribution: CDC

A Tasty Technique for Better Sleep

If you’ve been having trouble sleeping, here’s a unique strategy… eat pistachios! They are a surprisingly excellent source of the hormone melatonin that helps us to sleep. Most foods have 1, 10, or even 100 ng/g of melatonin, but pistachios have a whopping 200,000 ng/g!

I purchased a huge bag of pistachios before I learned this, and have been eating a couple tablespoons of them daily for about a month. I gotta say, I’ve been sleeping like a LOG! I was actually wondering why. When I came across this study, it all made sense. The good thing about my own accidental experiment was that it ruled out the placebo effect.

And don’t worry, eating them during the day won’t make you sleepy because of all the ambient light. But when the lights go out, you’ll have more than enough melatonin to help you get and stay asleep.

If you don’t need to improve your sleep, you’re lucky! But you might want to consider adding these tasty morsels to your diet anyway. Melatonin is a potent antioxidant with far reaching benefits. Pistachios also have other notable antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and polyphenols. Antioxidants help protect you from chronic disease and slow the aging process. Pistachios are also one of the lowest calorie nuts, and eating the ones with shells helps you to slow down and eat just the right amount.

Image credit: Mae Mu

A Winter Storm Warning

For most of us, snow removal is an inconvenience that usually results in a runny nose, sore muscles, or at worst, a sore back. But some of us aren’t so lucky. Every year, approximately 100 men suffer from a heart attack during or just after shoveling, and many more head to the ER with chest pain or other cardiovascular concerns. Removing loads of heavy snow can be quite an intense workout that the heart muscle may not be ready for, especially first thing in the morning, and especially in those that don’t regularly engage in physical activity. The cold temperature compounds the problem by increasing blood clotting and blood pressure, resulting in a devastating perfect storm.

Here in Massachusetts, we just had our first heavy snowfall. Tragically, a truly great guy from my high school graduating class lost his life after shoveling out his home. He left behind a beautiful wife and two wonderful kids. It’s a tragedy that should never happen.

Whether you’re a couch potato or in good physical condition, it’s important to warm up before shoveling or snow blowing. Do some stretches, jumping jacks, march in place, sun salutations, ride your exercise bike, or walk on your treadmill if you have one. Don’t go out there cold and half asleep – your cardiovascular system may not be ready for the Herculean effort. Make it easier on yourself! Opt for smaller, lighter loads over heavy ones that make you strain (you’ll save your back too!). And just like any other long workout, stay hydrated and take breaks. This is not an exaggeration.

Getting regular exercise throughout the year will also help you stay strong, healthy, and resilient, even when faced with a mountain of snow. If you currently have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, you might want to consider hiring your neighborhood kid to do the dirty work until you improve your health and lifestyle.

Please spread the word – it could save a life.

Dedicated to Cavie and his family.

Image credit: Todd Trapani

What’s the Best Diet for Type 2 Diabetes?

In my last couple posts, we discussed ways to reduce sugar and why that is so important for your health. Today, let’s talk about some simple yet powerful strategies to reverse direction when sugar has led you down the path to prediabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.

First, I want you to know that these metabolic challenges can be reversed, even if you’re already taking diabetes medication. There are countless stories of people reversing entrenched cases of diabetes with diet and lifestyle improvements. It’s not even a long complicated process. It can be done in months, weeks, or even days. 

There are many books written by nutrition minded physicians who have had great success in reversing diabetes. Some recommend a low fat vegan diet (like Dr Barnard and Dr Fuhrman) while some go to the opposite end of the spectrum and recommend a more Paleo type approach, and everything in between. Although we love it when there’s one clear magic bullet, the great news is that there isn’t just one way to regain optimal blood sugar control. This means that we have flexibility in making the changes that resonate with us, that we can enjoy and sustain.

Although the general sentiment is that you have to dramatically reduce carbs, it turns out you can reverse diabetes with a high carb, low fat diet as well as a high fat, low carb diet. Although these approaches seem contradictory, what they have in common is the most important: 

They are not both high carb and high fat. This appears to be the most dangerous combination, and unfortunately is typical of the Standard American Diet. French fries, anybody?

They emphasize whole foods. It’s the processed, damaged, stripped, destroyed, chemicalized, fake, sugar drenched foods that are making us sick on all fronts, not just diabetes. In theory we all understand this. But we have trouble applying it because so much of the standard American diet is processed, including everyday items like pasta, bread, pizza, muffins, cereal, cookies, and cake, which are made with processed flour that is stripped of its nutrients, protein, fat, and fiber. Grains that are dismantled in this way are rapidly digested and spike blood sugar, which then spikes insulin, and metabolic mayhem ensues. Some people choose to avoid all grains when reversing diabetes or trying to lose weight, but actual whole grains like quinoa and brown or black rice can be part of a therapeutic diet. Fiber seems to be the key. Eat foods that naturally have ample fiber.

They eliminate sweeteners, even the “healthy” ones. Just like processed grains, sweeteners (most of them also highly processed) permeate our food system. Our palates and pancreases have become unknowingly habituated to them. This became very obvious to me personally when I noticed that green tea and strawberry jam seemed sad and boring when they didn’t have added sugar! You can use stevia for a period of time as you wean off sugar, but ultimately, it’s very helpful to eliminate that too, so your palate can start appreciating then natural sweetness in foods again.

Alcohol in moderation if at all. Alcohol rapidly raises blood sugar and contributes to fatty liver, one of the hallmarks of diabetic metabolic dysfunction. If an alcoholic drink is something you really enjoy, instead of carb loaded, sugary beverages, opt for vodka or tequila with soda water with a lime or splash of cranberry. Just have one if possible.

Move your body and use your muscles. Insulin resistance starts in the large skeletal muscles when they’re not being used for long periods of time. If you’re logging a lot of sedentary time working at a desk, watching TV, or driving, try to take some movement breaks. Get up regularly and run up and down the stairs, do some squats or pushups, or sun salutations. Moving throughout the day is key, not just one workout followed by hours of sloth. Keep those muscles active and taking in glucose!

CAUTION: If you are currently on hyperglycemic medication of any kind, let your doctor know before you start making these changes. Your need for medication can reduce dramatically within days, and we don’t want to risk hypoglycemic episodes.

If you just followed these basics, you’d make wonderful progress. You’d lose weight, have better blood markers, and feel more energetic. Next time, I’ll expand on these strategies a bit, including some helpful supplements.

Image credit: Jacob Postuma

Shush the Sugar Cravings

I want to apologize if my last post about what sugar does to the body was a bummer. If you felt that way, just know that I totally agree. Most of us grew up eating lots of sugar, believing that the worst it could do is give us cavities. It was a treat we enjoyed all during our formative years and it’s deeply embedded in our psyches. It was a reward, a comfort, and is associated with wonderful memories. So the thought of breaking up with sugar is especially rough because there’s an emotional and physical component to it. Sugar and I have parted ways several times, and I know how depressing it can feel at first.

But! After you get over that, you feel SO much better! No addictions, better energy, more emotionally even, clarity of mind, weight loss, less puffy… the list goes on.

In addition to those tangible benefits, your risk for all the major chronic diseases goes down. So, even though it may feel impossible, sad, and extreme, it’s worth the effort. If you’re not willing to ghost your sugar completely, just reducing your intake is fantastic too.    

How to Reduce Sugar Cravings  

As you reduce/eliminate sugar, cravings are sure to rear their ugly head. The good news is that they go away almost completely in as little as a week. You almost can’t even believe that you were so addicted to the stuff. Until you get there, here are some of my favorite methods for avoiding and dealing with cravings:  

  • Stay hydrated – start your day with a couple big glasses of water and sip it every half hour for the rest of the day. Dehydration makes you feel depleted, and more likely to grab any quick energy fix.
  • Eat protein rich meals. This is filling and increases satiety.
  • Be sure to have regular meals – getting hangry is a recipe for disaster.
  • As you transition, enjoy some whole food,natural sweeteners in moderation – like raw honey, pure maple syrup, raisins, figs, or dates.
  • Eat sweet potatoes and other sweet vegetables. Soon these will taste really sweet!
  • Experiment with spices like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar.
  • Drink licorice or Gymnema Sylvestre herbal tea which also help regulate blood sugar.
  • Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways. Despite what we learned growing up, a treat does not = sugar! Sugar is certainly not a treat for your body.
  • Move in some way – take a walk, dance around, do some pushups, jumping jacks, or a few sun salutations. It’s energizing on its own and distracts you from the craving.
  • Brush your teeth. When your mouth feels refreshed, subconsciously you don’t want to muck it up with all that sugar.
  • Reduce strong yang foods and beverages like animal protein and coffee, because they increase cravings for yin foods like sugar and alcohol as the body tries to rebalance energetically.
  • In the midst of a full fledged craving, drink a glass of water. If it’s still there, eat a nice refreshing apple. If it’s still there, have a protein smoothie. If it’s still there, take a nap if possible. Lastly, the craving will usually go away in less than 20 minutes, so waiting it out is an option too.

I’d love to hear how these suggestions work for you and also what tips you have used successfully that aren’t on my list! 

Image by Stephanie Wu Photography

EEE, WNV, and Lyme! OH MY!

In our area, everyone is on high alert about mosquitoes carrying Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE). Add this to on-going fears about the West Nile Virus, Lyme Disease, and the upcoming flu season, and many of us are in a legitimate tizzy, dousing ourselves with chemicals and avoiding the great outdoors. Which of course makes sense on some level, but you know what makes even more sense? Keeping our immune systems robust and balanced. 

Louis Pasteur, the father of germ theory, said on his death bed, “The microbe is nothing. The terrain is everything!” By the terrain, he was referring to whether our inner tissues are hospitable to microbes or not. Is our immune system nourished and balanced or suppressed and depressed? 

Unfortunately, most of our Standard American Lifestyle is a direct assault on the immune system. With all this going on, it’s time to bring our A game. A strong immune system makes us less vulnerable to the ravaging effects of all of these pathogens, even the really scary ones. Here are some reminders that will help keep you healthy and strong no matter what microbes are lurking nearby.

Top 8 Actions for Robust Immunity

  1. Sleep well. Get regular, excellent quality sleep. Prioritize your sleep, aiming to go to bed around 10 PM and wake up with the sun, between 5 and 6 AM. If you have trouble falling or staying asleep, try the heavy blanket! It’s super soothing and sleep inducing.
  2. Reduce stress. Yup, this again. When you’re stressed, your body de-prioritizes immunity because getting over a cold is way less important than escaping from a tiger. Deadlines, relationship stress, financial worries, etc might not feel like being chased by a tiger in your mind, but your body experiences it that way. There’s enough evidence about the negative impact of stress on our whole body. Now is the time to become aware of your stressors and do something about it. Yoga, meditation, exercise, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction are all effective strategies. Drinking beer and eating cake is not (although admittedly fun and tasty).
  3. Optimize immune nutrients. Your immune system relies heavily on vitamins A and D and zinc. Get out in the sun for D (or supplement with D3 drops). Eat your darkly colored veggies for beta carotene (which gets converted to A). Snack on pumpkin seeds for zinc (these are a great option because they’re sprouted, and therefore more digestible and nutritious).
  4. Reduce sugar as much as possible. A high sugar meal suppresses the immune system for hours… Just in time for your next obscenely decadent latte or snack. If you think about it, most Americans are immune suppressed all day long due to regular sugar spikes.
  5. Nourish your microbiome.We do this in three ways. First, consume probiotics (beneficial bacteria) daily whether through unpasteurized fermented foods like Real Pickles veggies, or a supplement. Second, feed those critters with lots of fiber from plant foods. A highly processed, low fiber diet starves them. That’s mean! Third, avoid the stuff that kills them – antibiotics (unless absolutely necessary), excessive alcohol, glyphosate (which conventional wheat is saturated with – get organic whenever possible), artificial sweeteners like sucralose, pesticides, and conventional meat and dairy (because they contain antibiotic residues and crowd out the fiber rich foods).
  6. Stay hydrated. Dehydrated mucous membranes are more vulnerable to microbes. Drink a couple glasses of water first thing in the morning (with fresh lemon juice as a vitamin C bonus!) and then sip water throughout the day.
  7. Exercise! You know it, but here’s a journal reference if you need one. Just do it.
  8. Be happy, positive, and loving! I know, that sounds woo woo. But research shows that a positive mindset, connection with loved ones, and physical touch all improve immunity. Go hug someone today!

Image credit iStockPhoto

Did you get enough D?

After a long summer of gorgeous sunny days, our vitamin D levels should be stellar! That’s because our skin makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight. But some of us don’t have optimal levels even at the end of August. Below I discuss why that might be, as well as testing, and important considerations when supplementing.  

The Many Roles of Vitamin D   

Back when I was in nutrition school, vitamin D was mainly appreciated for its role in bone health. But after decades of research, this vitamin is now recognized for its vital role in many aspects of our health. It controls genes related to cancer, autoimmune disease, and the immune system. Low levels have been associated with increased mortality, cardiovascular events, various cancers, a weakened immune system, Multiple Sclerosis, dementia, Type 2 diabetes, depression, and systemic inflammation (which in and of itself contributes to all types of chronic disease).   As we go into the fall, having an optimal level of the sunshine vitamin is especially important because low levels can make us vulnerable to colds and the flu, as well as seasonal depression.      

Why We May not Get Enough   

Clearly, we need to have enough vitamin D to stay healthy. But many of us don’t for a variety of reasons. We generate our own vitamin D by exposing large areas of our skin to direct sunlight, ideally 10-15 minutes a day a few times a week. This is limited by:  

* Working full time indoors.
* Using sunscreen when outside (which blocks about 97% of vitamin D production).
* Living above the 37th parallel (which is basically everything north of Texas). There is only sufficient UVB to make vitamin D during the summer months in the north.
* Having darker skin.
* Aging. Older adults make about a quarter of the vitamin D a younger person does.  

Since most of us have one or more of these factors, Houston, we’ve got a problem. (Well, not technically in Houston.) Indeed, research has demonstrated that 50% of Americans and 70% of children aren’t getting enough vitamin D.      

Checking your Levels   

Because insufficiency can have such far reaching effects, I highly recommend staying abreast of your vitamin D status. It would be interesting to know whether it’s in the optimal range after months of sunshine.    

The conventional range for vitamin D is usually 30 – 100 ng/mL. But it’s important to understand that conventional lab ranges are just statistical norms that encompass 95% of the population (determined by going 2 standard deviations from the mean value). So the conventional ranges represent normal values for a pretty unhealthy population, not something to strive for. Research has shown that having at least 50 ng/mL of vitamin D is better for optimal health. (Be aware that sometimes values are reported in different units.)    

What to do if it’s low? Get on that right away through more sun and/or supplementation (food isn’t a very realistic source). Work with your doctor through regular testing to ensure that your vitamin D is in the optimal range.    

Boosting your Levels   

Research has demonstrated that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D3 (the active form) is beneficial and completely safe. Even up to 10,000 IU has been shown to be safe for up to 5 months, but I don’t recommend that high dose unless there is a demonstrated need because very high doses suppress the immune system. Taking drops under the tongue helps to ensure absorption, especially if there is insufficient fat absorption in the intestines.  

Nutrients work in teams, and your body’s final conversion of vitamin D uses a significant amount of magnesium. Magnesium is one of the top three nutrient deficiencies in the US. Taking some magnesium with your vitamin D would help avoid further depletion. Symptoms of magnesium insufficiency include constipation, tight muscles, cramps, anxiety, headaches, blood sugar issues, high blood pressure, and acid reflux. Be on the lookout for that in general, and if especially you’re supplementing with vitamin D.      

Magnesium comes in different forms. A great form that won’t affect your bowels is magnesium glycinate. Magnesium citrate can cause loose stools but is a great option if you have constipation. The oxide and carbonate forms are not well absorbed, and are usually found in low quality brands. Be sure to get your magnesium in capsules, not compressed tablets, which don’t get absorbed as well. This is a great brand.    

Summary   

Stay healthy! If your levels are less than 50 ng/mL;  

* 2000 IU of vitamin D3 drops under tongue
* 100 – 200 mg magnesium glycinate
* Regular assessment of your vitamin D levels with your doctor, adjusting your supplemental dose as necessary

Image: Catching Cabo Sun by Sand Storm Trooper and Ruler of the Sea

Introducing The Summer Party Cleanse!

I used to think that everyone naturally gets healthy and fit in the summer because of all the juicy fresh produce, more outdoor activities, and the tendency to eat a little less when you’re in a bathing suit. Well, maybe that was true when we were in our twenties, but beginning in our forties, it seems that a new pattern emerges. It’s called “summer is the new holidays”. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn.

Our quintessential summer vacations, bbq’s, picnics, fried beach food, and ice cream stands are no longer fully counterbalanced by healthier summer habits. I know this is a common problem because of all the emails I predictably receive in September from previous cleansers eager to start the fall cleanse immediately!

I’m just going to come out and say it – this is wrong! I’ve long been a proponent that you can live a totally fun life and be healthy and fit. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. It’s about balance, quality, and mindset (aka not totally giving up and ditching your healthy habits just because you downed a Kimball’s-sized ice cream sundae).

So here’s what I’m doing about it… I want to support you in both having an epic summer and feeling energetic, thinner peace, and healthy going into the fall. This well rounded program includes highly effective tenets near and dear to my heart – variety, flexibility, super efficient forms of exercise, exceptionally nutritious food, and self care. It won’t be hard to work the cleanse guidelines into your schedule. Nothing is off limits. You won’t be dieting. Instead, you’ll be having a wonderful summer while staying balanced, and hopefully even feeling better than ever when fall hits.

When you join the program, you’ll get:

  • A short eBook with the full, easy to implement plan (so you’ll still have time to read all your novels this summer)
  • A weekly checklist so you can easily keep track of your Summer Party Cleanse activities
  • Lots of wonderful recipes perfect for the summer and even parties
  • A weekly email with inspiration, more ideas, and recipes of the week
  • Membership into our private Facebook group so we can all chat, share tips, and encourage each other (this is permanent, like Hotel California)

Because this is the first time I’m offering this, I’m also pricing it super low to get as much participation and feedback as possible. I may get some flack for this, but here it is… I invite you to join the Summer Party Cleanse for just $25. Not because it’s not valuable, but because I want it to be a no-brainer for you to join me. The 8-week program begins July 7th (and your eBook will arrive June 30th). Join here!

Image by DisobeyArt