Posts Tagged ‘digestion’

  1. Why Use Supplements?

    November 13, 2016 by Heather


    Over the years, I have worked with clients who have a very wide array of attitudes, assumptions, and beliefs about dietary and therapeutic supplements. The supplements I recommend for each client are fully customized. Whether it’s a specific vitamin, mineral, herbal extract, essential fat, or hormone, every recommendation I make to my clients is driven by their unique health history, physiology, genetics (in some cases), dietary choices, current biochemical imbalances, and goals.

    There is no standard program I use with my clients.  All supplement recommendations are completely customized to the individual. I am focused on very thoroughly understanding their symptoms, their history, and in particular, their labwork in terms of understanding what their unique body needs. I see all sorts of level of comfort in my clients. Some people are happy to take 50-60 supplements a day with no problem and are very engaged with and focused on the value of them. Other clients are much more hesitant and more questioning.  A question I get very often is, “if I eat well, then why do I need a supplement?” And I’ll answer that in just a moment. But most of my clients are somewhere in between. We often talk about supplement tolerance.  Some people are are only willing to take four or five things on a given day and other people are perfectly willing to take much more than that.

    It would be great if we could get everything we need nutrient wise, to not only survive but to thrive, from food.  It was that way for man for a very long time. Unfortunately, we today, live in an environment where, I think it is virtually impossible to get everything you need to thrive just from your food.  And there are a few reasons why. First of all you’ll notice I used the word thrive vs. survive.

    I love this quote by Dr. Mark Hyman:

    “In a perfect world, no one would need supplements but given the stress of our modern life, the poor quality of our food supply and the high load of toxins in our brains and bodies, most of us need a basic daily supply of the raw materials for all our our enzymes and biochemistry to run as designed. One of the largest drivers for supplementation in today’s modern age is our exposure to toxins and the likelihood of us struggling to keep up with that and therefore the possibility that we struggle with downstream inflammatory effects, either from continued exposure and/or stored toxins.” ~Dr. Mark Hyman MD
    There is a certain bare minimum of nutrients needed in order to keep people from having deficiency type diseases. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that, for example, the U.S. Governments recommended daily allowance (RDA) of a nutrient is not even close to the optimal amount of a nutrient. It’s actually the bare minimum that you need to not get deficiency diseases for specific nutrients. So, for example, the RDA for Vitamin C is not what you need to have an optimal immune system and to not get sick and to thrive.  It’s what you need to not get scurvy. Or the amount of Vitamin D that is recommended as the RDA is not what you need in order to help your body to avoid cancer, or to again, have a good, strong balanced immune system that helps you to avoid allergies and asthma and that kind of thing. The RDA is the amount of Vitamin D you need to not get rickets. Well most of us don’t want to just barely survive and avoid scurvy and rickets. Most of us want to thrive and the amount of nutrition needed to not only avoid those diseases but to feel well much less fantastic are usually substantially more than the RDA.  On top of that, the amount of nutrients you need has to be balanced against how much nutrition is actually in your food. And unfortunately, as much as I wish it wasn’t the case, our food is getting less and less nutritious over time.  Thanks to a number of different large scale not only domestic American but even international trends, our food has much less nutrition in it than it did in the past.  And when I say in the past, I’m even meaning 75-100 years ago, much less 500 or 1000 years ago. Today, even if it’s organic food, very often it is produced in very large scale farms where there is not natural fertilizer or cover crops or animal grazing that would allow nutrients to be put back in the soil. And of course if there aren’t minerals in the soil there can’t be minerals in the food that was grown in that soil. In general, there is a global crisis with topsoil erosion which is where the real nutrient dense soil is found because of the decay of natural organic matter (bugs, insects, leaves), all sorts of organic breakdown that creates nutritional fodder for plants and animals to take that nutrition and deliver it to us via the food. Many of my clients are shocked to find out that a certain nutrient is less than half as prevalent in say an apple or stalk of broccoli than it was as recently as the 1970’s. So our food is not as nutritious as it used to be, not even close. You could pretty much count on animal foods to have good amounts of Omega 3 fats up until a hundred years ago but now because of the manner in which livestock is raised for food, it is highly unlikely, except for wild fish, that your food has substantial Omega 3’s in it. So, there’s nothing wrong with the food.  It’s what we’ve done to the food in terms of modern scale and practice in agriculture.
    The other key tenet that I think is important to understand is that today we live in an environment that has unprecedented levels of stress and toxins. I think you could easily argue that today the average Westerner adult encounters more toxicity through the air she inhales, through the water she swallows, through the food she chews and swallows, through the things that get rubbed on and absorbed in her skin; more toxicity probably in a given day than the average human adult encountered in a lifetime 100-200 years ago. We are asking our entire physiology to not only manage and process and excrete much higher levels of toxicity but when we don’t do that our bodies suffer dramatically from the inflammatory effects and the oxidative stress and damage effects of that toxicity downstream.  That whole biochemical dynamic is why a number of my clients are working with me, in order to get to the bottom of that toxicity.  Some of my clients have particular genetic variants, things you can’t really do anything about, that impair their bodies ability to conserve or use certain nutrients that impair various types of detoxification or impair various oxidative management pathways in the body. And so all of this contributes to my answer to the question of why do I need supplements. Because I want to help my clients thrive, not just to barely survive. My clients come to me in an effort to really feel fantastic, which is really what my goal is, to not just to help them get by but to help them to get truly well and stay well.

    Do you use supplements?  I would love for you to share your experience below!



  2. Powerful Plant Protein

    January 25, 2016 by Heather


    “I was determined to know beans.”— Henry David Thoreau, The Bean-Field

    How about you? How well do you know beans?

    Creamy cannellinis, meaty garbanzos, sweet adzuki, tender pintos, and so many more—beans are one of the most powerful, nutrient-dense plant foods around.

    Consider this: Beans are packed with tons of fiber, as well as plenty of iron and protein. They are rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. They are low in calories.

    Plus, studies have found them to lower risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

    What To Do With Beans

    Many people avoid beans because they just don’t know what to do with them. Are you one of them? Keep reading:

    • Toss beans and diced veggies (such as celery, shallots, red peppers) with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
    • Blend cooked beans with tomatoes, onions, and your favorite seasonings to create a yummy bean soup.
    • Top a green salad with 1/3 cup of your favorite bean.
    • Puree beans with a bit of olive oil, a garlic clove, salt, and your favorite seasonings. Voila! A fast dip or sandwich spread.
    • Include 1/3 cup of beans with your other favorite toppings next time you make stuffed baked potatoes or sweet potatoes.
    • Add 1/4 cup pureed beans to your favorite pancake, waffle, muffin, or cake recipe. You’ll be surprised at how moist and springy baked goods are when baked with beans.

    If you’re new to cooking with beans, try these tips for delicious and well-cooked beans.

    • Be sure to wash and clean the beans first.
    • Soak dried beans for 8-12 hours before cooking (hint: cut a bean in half; if the center is still opaque, keep soaking).
    • After soaking, rinse, fill pot with fresh water, bring to a boil, then skim off the foam.
    • To aid digestion, add kombu, bay leaf, cumin, anise, or fennel to the water
    • Cover and simmer for the suggested time.  Skim off the foam off the top.
    • Remember: Only add salt at the end of cooking (about 10 minutes before the beans are done) or it will interfere with the cooking process.
    • Quick tips: For speedier prep, boil dried beans for 5 minutes, then soak for 2-4 hours. Or use canned beans instead (some people find them even easier to digest!). Be sure to avoid canned beans with added salt or preservatives and rinse thoroughly once removed from the can.


    How do you like to eat your beans?  Have you been afraid to eat beans because of their, ahem, gas producing effects? Try the tips above and let me know how you make out!  I’d love to hear from you!!


  3. Adventures in Sauerkraut…

    December 17, 2015 by Heather

    Have you ever gone on a stint where absolutely nothing tastes good to you?  I’m not sure, but I think it’s the Lyme treatment but all I want is sauerkraut.  So I was buying it two jars at a time.  Not cheap my friends!  I joined a CSA this summer and I had cabbage coming out of my ears.  I made soup with it, roasted it, sauteed it and each time I wanted to gag.  I don’t blame the cabbage, really I don’t.  So I decided to try making my own sauerkraut.  After all, how hard could it be!?  It really wasn’t hard at all but I did learn a couple things with my first batch.  I think the amount of time you ferment it to your particular tastes is important.  My first batch tasted a bit too salty for me and I’m not quite sure why.  My second batch is still fermenting but stay tuned.  I’m going to let it ferment for longer this time and I think the head of cabbage this time was bigger, so I’m hoping the ratio of salt to cabbage is better.  I also cut the cabbage thinner for this second batch.  Please note:  I used himalayan salt.  You can use sea salt but please do not use your run of the mill iodized salt.  A good quality sea salt or himalayan salt is what you want. 

    Here are the very simple directions.  FYI…the mashing is very therapeutic.  🙂  If you make your own send me a message or comment below and let me know how it went!! 

    You’ll need:

    1 medium head of cabbage, himalayan or sea salt, medium bowl, a wooden spoon, mason jar (I used quart)

    Per one medium head of cabbage, sprinkle 1.5 tbsp salt onto cut up cabbage and let sit for 10 minutes in a medium bowl.  You will want to remove the outer wilted leaves of the cabbage, remove the core and cut the cabbage very thin and as uniform as you can get it.


    After it sits, mash the cabbage with your hands until it starts to release its juices, about 15 minutes.  You want a nice amount of liquid at the bottom of your bowl.  This is a great exercise if you need to get some frustrations out! 🙂



    Once you have a good amount of juice in the bottom of the bowl, grab your mason jar and start packing the cabbage in.  You’ll want to put a few spoonfuls in and pack it down, repeat etc. so there are no air bubbles.  This also allows more liquid to be released.  Repeat this process until all the cabbage is in the jar and be sure to leave about 2 inches at the top so the cabbage can expand as it ferments.  If you don’t have enough liquid at the top to cover the cabbage you can make a brine.  It’s important that ALL the cabbage is covered so that you don’t get any mold.  Recipe for brine solution: Dissolve 1 tbsp salt (himalayan or sea salt) in 4 cups water.  You can keep this in the fridge if you don’t use it all.



    Ok so now you have all your cabbage in the jar, covered completely.  Put the jar in a dark place away from direct sunlight and cover very loosely.  I put it on a plate with a paper towel underneath because it will expand and leak out of the jar.  I kept checking it every day to make sure there was enough liquid at the top.


    As I mentioned before, I fermented the first jar for about a week.  That, for me, was not long enough.  But I don’t think I cut the cabbage thin enough.  Each individual’s tastes will vary so taste it after about a week and see how it tastes to you.  If it’s not to your liking then just allow it to ferment longer.  Once it is tangy enough for your taste, simply move it to the refrigerator.  I have read it keeps up to 6 months in the fridge.  I know it wouldn’t last that long in my house!


  4. 9 Reasons to Drink Your Water

    September 7, 2015 by Heather

    9 Reasons To Drink Your Water

    I’m pretty sure there’s a water post somewhere here on this but it is SO worth repeating!  So many times I hear people are only drinking a glass of water a day, or worse yet, nothing!  Oh my word!  If this is you, you are walking around chronically dehydrated!  If you don’t think that’s a big deal let me break it down for you!  Below are 9 reasons why you should up your water intake.  And by up I mean ATLEAST half your body weight in ounces.  And no your coffee doesn’t count!  More if you are sweating, i.e, summer, hard workouts etc.  If you think this sounds like a lot and are starting from zero, then work your way up to that.  Warning:  You will be peeing a lot.  This is NORMAL and a good thing!  All of that water you’ve been retaining??  You’re flushing it down the toilet!  Don’t you feel less puffy already??

    Here are 9 powerful reasons to drink water!!

    Weight Loss!  They had me at weight loss!!  Water replaces high-calorie drinks like soda and juice and alcohol with a drink that doesn’t have any calories. It’s also a great appetite suppressant, and often when we think we’re hungry, we’re actually just thirsty. Water has no fat, no calories, no carbs, no sugar. And if you are dehydrated your body will actually retain water!  Ouch!  Drink atleast half your weight in ounces to help your weight-loss regimen.

    Heart health! Drinking a good amount of water could lower your risks of a heart attack. A six-year study published in the May 1, 2002 American Journal of Epidemiology found that those who drink more than 5 glasses of water a day were 41% less likely to die from a heart attack during the study period than those who drank less than two glasses.

    Energy!  So many of us suffer from lack of energy.  We often blame our Fibro but this may only be part of the issue.  You could be dehydrated and being dehydrated can sap your energy and make you feel tired — even mild dehydration of as little as 1 or 2 percent of your body weight. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated — and this can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness and other symptoms.

    Relief from Headaches!  Do you suffer from daily headaches or migraines?  Another symptom of dehydration is headaches. In fact, often when we have headaches it’s simply a matter of not drinking enough water. There are lots of other causes of headaches of course, but dehydration is a common one.

    Healthy skin!  Drinking water can clear up your skin and people often report a healthy glow after drinking water. It won’t happen overnight, of course, but just a week of drinking a healthy amount of water can have good effects on your skin.  Who doesn’t want that healthy glow??

    Digestive problems! Fibro peeps typically have enough digestive issues.  Drinking more water can help!  Our digestive systems need a good amount of water to digest food properly. Often water can help cure stomach acid problems, and water along with fiber can cure constipation (often a result of dehydration).  There’s nothing worse than not being able to poop!!!

    Cleansing!  Water is used by the body to help flush out toxins and waste products from the body.  If you aren’t drinking enough you are holding onto that stuff!  Ick!  And if you didn’t know, the Fibro person absorbs more toxins than the average bear and has a harder time getting rid of them so drink up!!!

    Cancer risk!  Related to the digestive system item above, drinking a healthy amount of water has also been found to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45%. Drinking lots of water can also reduce the risk of bladder cancer by 50% and potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer.  Wow!

    Better Exercise! Being dehydrated can severely hamper your athletic activities, slowing you down and making it harder to put the most into your workout. Exercise requires additional water, so be sure to hydrate before, during and after exercise and if you’re sweating a lot up your daily intake.


    Here are a few tips to remember to drink your water! 

    Form a routine.  If you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  A glass when you get up, before you go to bed, before lunch etc.

    Carry a bottle.  I always have my water bottle with me.

    Set phone reminders so you don’t forget.

    Substitute water for something you’re already drinking.

    Track it in a log along with how you’re feeling.  Once you realize you feel better not dehydrated you’ll be more apt to keep at it. 

    I hope this helps you to see just how important drinking your water is!  Often we underestimate the small, seemingly insignificant things we can do to help us feel better.  These things, added up over time, can go a long way to helping you feel so much better!


    Peace & Love,





  5. The Hungry Monster…

    May 4, 2012 by Heather

    Day 5 of the Ultimate Reset and I’m feeling a bit hungry.
    I slept in a bit this morning, walked the dog and took a p.m. Yoga class. Digestion seems to be on track today. I could hug my herbalist for her treatment yesterday!! My headache seems to be going away but my pain levels are still high. It is still damp and rainy here, but hoping to see the sun tomorrow!!

    Onto the food!
    For breakfast I had oatmeal. I’m so going to miss oatmeal!

    I was definitely hungry by lunch and had a nice big salad!

    I had my snack before yoga, an apple with almond butter. Oh how I love almond butter!!

    Dinner was miso soup and stir fried veggies over brown rice. Thankfully I had leftover veggies from last night and I made a big batch of brown rice earlier in the week, so dinner prep was easy! I added some spinach and celery to the miso soup for some extra oomph!

    Tonite being my regular splurge night was tough mentally. I had a cup of herbal tea and I’ve been sucking down water.

    Day 6 tomorrow and week 1 is almost over!!