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Health Tips

8 Ways to Eliminate Acid Reflux / Heartburn / GERD

Brittany Carlson

There are a few names-- heartburn, acid reflux, GERD. Many of the people I work come to me after suffering from this condition for years. Some of them have been put on medication or told to just live with it. Really, live with it? A burning sensation in your chest, the feeling like there is food stuck in your throat, difficulty swallowing…There are many natural remedies that you can try before turning to medication or just settling for feeling unwell (scroll to the bottom if you want to get straight to the remedies).

There are two main reasons why people feel that awful gnawing pain and discomfort associated with GERD. The first issue has to do with the lower esophageal sphincter, which is a fancy word for the muscle that opens to allow food to go from the esophagus and down into the stomach. When this muscle is too relaxed, stomach acid flows backwards and creeps up into the esophagus. The esophagus is not meant for this level of acidity. Hence, that awful gnawing pain.

The second reason that people may develop GERD can be because of too little stomach acid. Say what?! This sounds counter-intuitive so, let me explain. A common bacteria that causes GERD symptoms is H. pylori. When people do not have enough stomach acid, this creates the perfect environment for H. pylori to multiply and inflame the stomach lining. So, you need a healthy amount of stomach acid to keep the bacteria away. Many medications such as proton pump inhibitors (i.e. omeprazole, pantoprazole) are used routinely when people tell their doctors about heartburn. However, these medications lower the acid in your stomach, ameliorating the pain temporarily, but actually make it easier for H. pylori to settle in. H. pylori will not only make your reflux worse, but it can also cause ulcers and is linked to stomach cancer.

If you or someone you're close to you suffers from heartburn, acid reflux or GERD, you may want to make some lifestyle changes before adding on a daily medication. I’ve helped many people eliminate this condition with simple diet and lifestyle alterations. Try making the changes outlined below.

8 Ways to Eliminate Acid Reflux / Heartburn / GERD

1. Chew your food! Digestion starts in your mouth with the mechanical action of chewing. Chewing your food will not only stimulate your system to secrete digestive enzymes but will also give your stomach less work to do by breaking down the food you eat more thoroughly! Try to chew about 20 times before swallowing.
2. Use apple cider vinegar to build stomach acid. Take one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in water 10 minutes before meals. Apple cider vinegar contains probiotics, enzymes and acetic acid to help you digest your food. Make sure there is a cloudiness to your apple cider vinegar and that it is organic, raw and unfiltered. I like Braggs.
3. Remove foods that impair stomach acid from building. Avoid citrus fruits, tomatoes, chocolate, coffee, carbonated beverages, sugar, grain products, and hydrogenated oils.
4. Replace the removed foods with new foods that are high in enzymes and easy to digest. For example, eat cooked greens and vegetables, non-citrus fruits, organic meats, and bone broth. Raw vegetables can be hard for some people to break down so save your system some work by cooking your food.
5. Consider supplementing. Start with digestive enzymes. If you need more support, add betaine HCl (hydrochloric acid) treatment with protein rich meals.When you increase acid, you kill H.pylori bacteria.
6. Eat less at meals. Reflux can be caused by overeating or eating too fast.
7. Make sure your vitamin D levels are adequate. Optimal levels of vitamin D will optimize production of antimicrobial peptides to help your body eliminate any infections and bad bacteria.
8. Eat a 2-3 hours before bedtime. GERD symptoms can be exacerbated by lying down so try to stay upright for a few hours after a big meal.

Note! If you are on medications like proton pump inhibitors, and you would like to stop taking them, it is important to never stop cold turkey. Wean yourself off with the help of your physician.

The hidden chemicals you're exposed to on a nightly basis

Brittany Carlson

I recently learned that my bed, where I spend about 1/3 of my life is cause for concern. I never really thought about the process by which my mattress was made— bottom line is can I sleep on it? I bet many of you haven’t either so I wanted to pass on the good information. I was able to meet Beth Greer, author of Super Natural Home, where I learned all of the fun facts below. Here are the facts about your mattress--

▪ Most mattresses are made with synthetic ingredients that release chemicals into the air. I have a queen mattress which has about half a pound of toxic chemicals, so I’m breathing in chemicals whenever I’m in my bedroom.
▪ The majority of mattresses are treated with water and stain resistant chemicals as well as polybrominated biphenyl (flame retardant) which are all known carcinogens. Other toxic chemicals in mattresses are: boric acid, antimony trioxide, vinylidiene chloride, zinc borate, melamine, formaldehyde, decabromodiphenyl
▪ Beth says, “No other type of chemical exposure comes close to the intensity and duration of exposure to a mattress. Its in your face, with full body contact, every day, for years.”

 

There are a few ways that Beth recommends making a change. The cheapest and easiest option is to buy a topper that is organic and wool. The other option is to buy a new mattress, which can be expensive but there are a range of price options. Here are a couple places to look and Beth offers more options in her book.

European Sleepworks 
Mattress Works

Check out Super Natural Home if you want to learn more about how to make the healthy shift with your daily routine— in the kitchen, with cosmetics, household cleaning supplies, and more. Even better, look into getting a Healthy Home Detox!

 

My Daily Action Plan for success

Brittany Carlson

Back to school ladies and gents! For me that means a shift in my mentality— relaxed, jetsetting, carefree summer vibes -------> get sh*t done and be efficient vibes. I take a holistic view on my life when I approach kicking things into gear. This means I consider my physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Here are my daily actions that help me keep a tight ship!

Morning Notes/To-do List 
I start my day by listing out 5 things I am grateful for and bulleting the actions I want to accomplish that day. Accomplishments can include things like call my mom or create a meal plan for clients A, B and C. And if I’m ever feeling down about myself, I write down 3 things that I like about me— this helps with self-confidence and appreciation.

Sweat! 
Sweating is one of several ways to help your system push out unwanted waste (toxins, excess hormones, chemicals). I love killing two birds with one stone and combining cardio and weights. My go-to early morning class is GRIT at uforia. 50 minutes and I'm done for the day, and you move the ENTIRE class with great tunes and fun lighting. This is where I go to get my six pack back ; ) I also incorporate a vinyasa yoga class into my week to instill a mind-body connection and open up my hips and back.

Replenish my electrolytes. 
I always do this immediately after a workout. Electrolytes are ions that have the ability to conduct electricity in the body; the balance of these ions is essential for your cell and organ functions. Because your electrolyte balance can change when levels of water in the body change, I incorporate a high quality FRESH coconut water post workout. Harmless Harvest is my favorite.

Keep my blood sugar balanced. 
Fat, fiber, protein is my mantra. This is KEY for my getting sh*t done vibes I was talking about. For each snack or meal, I always make sure I get these three macronutrients to ensure that my blood sugar stays balanced throughout the day. 
You want to avoid extreme peaks and falls in insulin secretion and it is quite simple to manage this process. For example, if you have an apple, your energy will rise and so will your insulin but an hour later you’ll be hungry for something else to pick your energy back up. Next time, pair the apple with some almond butter (fat and protein), which will mitigate a steep insulin spike and fall, balance your energy and satiate you until your next meal. Here’s how my day usually looks. 
Breakfast - Chia seed pudding (the ultimate super food contacting all 3 macros— fat, fiber, protein) 
Lunch - fish (protein), squash and greens (fiber), olive oil (fat) 
Snack - coconut pumpkin seed mix
Dinner - chicken (protein), broccoli (fiber), greens (fiber) with avocado (fat)

Drink Water 
Hunger is often confused for thirst and we need water for most functions in the body. I aim for at least 8 cups a day to make sure I stay hydrated. I put challenges in place to help me stick to my plan-- I make myself drink two cups of water before eating any snack or meal.

Stick to anti-inflammatory foods…mostly! 
I practice the 80-20 rule when it comes to food. I like to call my nutrition plan plant-pumped-paleo. I focus on getting at least 3 cups of leafy greens onto my plate each day with high quality protein and fat. My favorite protein sources are wild salmon, sardines and turkey. I love a good piece of bavette steak every so often. I always make sure I get enough fat on my plate too since fat is your macronutrient that controls your metabolism and body temperature. My favorite fat sources are avocado, sardines (protein source too!), olive oil and coconut. I’m not allergic to gluten or dairy but I don’t make a habit of including these food groups since they are inflammatory triggers (cause unwanted swelling in the body). Oh and lastly, I stay away from anything with refined sugar. Stick to coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup ; )

Get to bed! 
My goal is to be in bed by 10pm. The liver, your biggest detox organ, does its main job between 10pm and 2am. Also, cortisol, known as your stress hormone, starts to peak around 11pm. If you don’t beat the cortisol rise, you don’t allow yourself to have as deep of a sleep and it may be harder to fall asleep to begin with. Beat your cortisol peak and let your liver do its thing by getting to bed by 10.

Castor Oil to Support Your Detox

Brittany Carlson

Is your body effectively taking out the waste? If you're not feeling your best, a castor oil pack can support your system to detox. I usually recommend this to people that are struggling with an infectious disease or chronic illness but this is beneficial for anyone looking to encourage the excretion process. Say what?

Castor oil is a fatty acid which contains a rare chemical compound called ricinoleic acid, known for it's anti-inflammatory and immune enhancing effects.

Studies have shown that using castor oil packs increases T11 cells, which are white blood cells that create antibodies to support your body's overall defense system. By rubbing castor oil onto your skin over the liver, your lymphatic system is stimulated, which is critical for detox. The lymphatic system is a network in your body that informs immune function. Lymph is a clear liquid that circulates between tissues and organs and excretes waste.

When castor oil is absorbed through the skin, lymph flow is improved, accelerating the removal of cellular related toxins. It also reduces swollen lymph nodes. There is an overall improvement in organ function and energy.

Want to try it out? Here's how:

What you'll need 
* A high quality cold pressed castor oil, I like this one 
* Piece of flannel that you don’t care about. You can cut a cloth into rectangles to cover your liver. 
* plastic wrap
* heating pad (you can use a heated water bottle if you don’t have a heating pad)

Directions 
I recommend reserving 20 minutes to an hour for this. The easiest time to do this for me is before bed when I'm lying down and reading. I put a towel under me and wear clothes I don't care about as the oil can stain clothing.

1. Rub castor oil on to your liver, located on the upper right portion of your abdomen. Use about 1/2 tablespoon of the oil and massage it into your skin.
2. Cover the coated area with a piece of cloth. Layer the cloth with the plastic wrap. The plastic wrap will trap the heat from the heating pad and also keep the castor oil in place. Note: If you plan on doing this nightly, you can re-use the flannel cloth. Just store it in a BPA-free container until your next use.
3. Place a heating pad over the layers you’ve created and rest for about 20 to 40 minutes. I recommend doing this on a nightly basis

Tip: If you have inflamed joints, you can use this same method on the area of inflammation to decrease inflammation.

Could Estrogen Dominance Be Making You Tired, Overweight and Sick? (This is for men too!)

Brittany Carlson

Hormone function is manifested in your mood, metabolic function, energy levels and overall ability to manage life's daily challenges.

Our system of hormones can be likened to an orchestra— if one key is off, everything is off.

In today’s world, we are exposed to many different chemicals and foods that affect our overall hormone balance. For today I am going to focus on Estrogen--

More than ever before, our bodies are exposed to key environmental pollutants that mimic estrogen in the body. We are constantly being bombarded by estrogens that contaminate our physiological functions.

Signs of Estrogen Dominance:

Fat isolated to the belly and chest
PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) 
Decreased energy
Infertility
PMS
Painful periods
Male breasts
Cravings
Early breast development
Irregular menstrual cycles

Each time you eat, there is a chemical reaction that takes place between your hormones and the food consumed. Hormones are an active player in the digestive system--they control cravings and appetite-- and likewise, the digestive system produces hormones. When there is an imbalance between estrogen and other hormones in the body, any of the substances listed below can tip the scale and create a toxic amount of estrogen.

Foods that mimic hormones in the body and trigger dis-regulation:

Conventional meat and dairy
Conventional produce-- the pesticides on crops are highly estrogenic
Beer
Energy bars or products that use isolate soy products
Canned foods with BPA
Unfiltered water

What can you do?

Our hormones work together. An imbalance with one hormone will disregulate the whole system. The steps below target different hormones in the body, which will in turn produce harmony throughout the system.

Filter your water.
Unfiltered water has been found to have pesticides such at Atrazine and arsenic, which negatively impact the thyroid and can cause insulin resistance and weight gain. 94% of water tested by the USDA has Atrazine in it-- be safe and filter your water.

Get to bed by 10pm.

The liver does its main job of detoxing between the hours of 10pm and 2am so you'll want to get to bed in time to support your liver during its optimal functioning. Cortisol starts to kick in at 11pm which gives you another wind to get things done, making it harder for you to calm down and get to sleep.

Be careful with soy.

Isoflavones are the most common phytoestrogens found in plant foods like grains, soybeans, veggies and legumes. Research has indicated that isoflavones negatively impact hormone balance and disease and cancer prevention. Be thoughtful about the amount of soy you consume. Consider ditching the soy latte but enjoy tamari and miso once in awhile.

Ged rid of estrogen dominant foods.

Conventional meats and dairy, non-organic fruits and vegetables, processed foods, chemically enhanced foods, packaged foods with omega-6 oils like corn, safflower, soy and canola. Start looking at the ingredient list if you don’t already. You may be surprised at how many foods contain these types of oils—even if they are organic.

Limit beer consumption.

Hops has been found to be extremely estrogenic and also binds to other estrogens coming into the system, making it harder for the body to excrete. Beer is high in sugar, which is stored in fat cells, and typically displayed around the belly or chest—these are the hardest places to lose fat from.

Watch out for canned foods.

BPA is a chemical found in the lining of foods cans. It was used at one point as a hormone replacement. It is associated with weight weight gain, obesity and insulin resistance. Look for BPA-free canned foods: Native Forest and Vital Choice, are among companies that use BPA-free cans.

Why grass-fed organic beef is important for your health

Brittany Carlson

grass-fed organic meat.jpg

I’m a big fan of eating organic and grass-fed meat. Here are some of the health benefits:

1. It is high in good fat (CLA), which affects your metabolism and body temperature, and keeps blood sugar in balance. CLA can also reduce risks of heart disease (The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition May 2010).
2. It does not contain added hormones and antibiotics.
3. It is high in antioxidant rich vitamins like A, B, C and E.
4. Grass-fed beef contains important minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium— think strong bones!
5. Contains B12, which is essential for your digestion and energy levels.

"But does it really matter?” you ask me. The answer is yes— eating meat from organic grass- fed versus conventionally-raised cows does really matter! How the animals are raised: what they eat, their living conditions, the diseases and bacteria that they are exposed to; these are all of the things that impact the quality of meat on your plate.

Grass-fed cows live a nourished life compared to cows that are raised conventionally. They roam the land freely and eat when they please, feed on grass and other plants in their pasture— sometimes cabbage, kale, spinach— whatever is growing on the land. The cows life is about 24 to 28 months.

In contrast, after one year of pasture, conventionally-raised cows are moved to a feedlot where they have only approximately 20 to 25 feet of space to roam. These cows are primarily fed corn, soy and even candy which fattens them up in a short amount of time. A farmer at White Oak Pastures in Georgia said, “The high-carbohydrate corn and soy diet causes cattle to become unnaturally obese creatures that would never exist in nature.” The cows life is typically 14 to 18 months.

Conventionally-raised cows are given antibiotics as well as hormones to keep them growing fast and to prevent disease that comes of this extremely fast-paced life. Because cows have a hard time digesting high starch foods such as corn and soy, they often develop ulcers and infections in their digestive tracts, resulting in more bacteria in their manure (ie., E. Coli). This creates a perfect environment for illness.

In an effort to kill toxic bacteria, antibiotics are used. The problem, as we all know, is that all of us have overused antibiotics, and as a result many of the bacteria are now resistant to it. It is no longer a sure way to destroy bacteria.

Tests completed by Consumer Reports indicated that we are still susceptible to harmful bacteria even if meat is completely cooked! Consumer Reports tested 300 packages of ground beef from around the United States for common strains of bacteria. They found that over 40% contained staph aureus, about 20% contained c. perfingens, and a majority of the meat contained super-bug bacteria. Super-bug bacteria are resistant to three or more kinds of antibiotics. That means, if you get sick, it can be extremely difficult to get better.

Consumer Reports most significant finding was that organic and grass-fed beef is three times less likely to have super-bug bacteria.

Want more fuel for change? According to a study at California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef contains 3 times more CLA— a healthy fat that promotes weight loss and is associated with decreased risk of heart disease-- than grain-fed beef.

So there a couple different options for moving forward. You can go to your local grocery store and purchase grass-fed organic meat and enjoy your burgers at home, or you can ask your restaurant servers. If they don’t know, you can assume it’s not organic or grass-fed, since most restaurants will use this as a selling point if applicable.
 

How to Repair Adrenal Fatigue

Brittany Carlson

Think You Might Have Adrenal Fatigue? Here Are Some Common Symptoms:

  • Tired all the time
  • Blood sugar issues
  • Dizziness and light headedness upon standing
  • Allergies
  • Blood pressure problems 
  • Muscle or joint pains
  • Recurrent infections
  • Constant thirst, even when properly hydrated

First Things First—where Are Your Adrenal Glands?

They sit on top of your kidneys like small caps. Check out this video to see for yourself. 

How Do Your Adrenals Impact Your Body?

Your adrenal hormones are your body’s source of energy production. The adrenal glands stimulate the production of hormones essential to the health of your sympathetic nervous system, also known as your state of fight or fight. While many traditional doctors ignore the health of the adrenals until they are either over stimulated (Cushing disease) or completely burnt out (Addison’s disease), it is important to pay attention to the less extreme cases to prevent these pathological diseases. 

Something important to note about hormones is that they are like an orchestra: if one hormone is is off tune, the overall harmony of the entire system is negatively affected. As such, if your adrenal glands are not secreting hormones properly, a host of health issues can ensue throughout the body. Think issues with fertility, metabolism, insulin production, brain fog, irritability, skin issues, etc. So, it is important to get things in balance.

How Do Adrenals Get Burnt Out?

Burnt out adrenals are a result of chronic stress on the body. This means that you get stressed and stay stressed; your body is in a constant state of fight or flight mode and rarely gets back to a state of rest and digest. In this state, your body has one priority, which is to get you out of what it perceives as a life-threatening situation. As a result, other important body systems are neglected, such as digestion and the growth of healthy skin and nails. 

Triggers of Adrenal Stress:

  • Low fat diets
  • Skipping meals
  • Continued low blood pressure
  • Diets void of salt and potassium
  • Over exercising
  • Under sleeping
  • Traumatic events

How Can You Repair Your Adrenals?

  • Support blood sugar balance: remove refined sugars and carbohydrates.
  • Make sure you are getting high quality (organic, grass fed) protein at every meal. Protein is key for cell reparation.
  • Don’t skip meals. You want to avoid your blood sugar from crashing.
  • Include polyphenols in your diet: deeply colored plant foods
  • Adrenal massage – I'll show you how in the video below.

Note: Do not under estimate the simple changes you can make that will repair your health. 

What are some of the hormones produced by the adrenal glands?

Cortisol

Cortisol stimulates the increase of energy production and heightens your body’s ability to act quickly in stressful situations. It is also important for regulating glucose, blood pressure, and inflammation.

Aldosterone

Aldosterone regulates salt and water balance throughout the body. An imbalance here can be associated with electrolyte problems.

Epinephrine

Epinephrine is also known as adrenaline, and is the hormone that makes your heart beat faster in stressful situations.  

Sex hormones: progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, DHEA.

These particular sex hormones are produced by both the adrenal glands and the gonadal glands (reproductive system). 

Dopamine

Dopamine is associated with your brains pleasure and reward system. It is related to long-term thinking—for example, if I do this now, will it benefit me later.  It is also the hormone that elevates a cookie far beyond its worth, causing you to give in to indulgences.

 

A Resistant Starch Rich Food

Brittany Carlson

I used to go nuts for nuts until I realized they were the culprit behind some of my digestive issues. Not everyone has a sensitivity to nuts, but if you do or you'd like some variation, I recommend trying these naturally sweet and chewy tiger nuts out. They are also Paleo and gluten free : )

So what are Tiger Nuts? 
You're probably wondering why I'm replacing a nut with a nut. Well, tiger nuts are actually not nuts! They are small root vegetable tubers, which originated in the Mediterranean and Northern Africa. Tiger nuts made up about 80% of our Paleo ancestors diets around 2 million years ago.

What's more is tiger nuts are actually good for your gut microbiome. 
They are a resistant starch, meaning they resist digestion. So when you ingest a tiger nut, instead of being broken down for your cells to use as energy, it moves directly to your colon. Hello, fiber! If you need help getting things moving, this is a great snack for you.

But resistant starch does more than just that. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, which is a special kind of fiber that nourishes the existing good bacteria in your gut, specifically in your large intestines. You can think of resistant starch foods like the fairy god mother for your digestive tract-- the prebiotics come in, make things right, and voila! Everything is as it should be!

Note: You can also find resistant starch in apple skins, Jerusalem artichokes and onions.

Why is the health of your gut microbiome so important? 
Over the last few years, research has shown that many of our health issues are rooted in the composition of our gut microbiome, also known as the bacteria in your intestines. Michael Pollan, well-known author of The Omnivores Dilemma and Food Rules, stated that the microbes living in our gut, "also appear to play a critical role in training and modulating our immune system, helping it to accurately distinguish between friend and foe and not go nuts on, well, nuts and all sorts of other potential allergens." 80-85% of our immune system is located in the gut or intestinal walls. You can think of the gut microbiome as the right hand to your immune system.

Recommendation: Add some resistant starch to your diet! Tiger nuts are a great source. You can buy them on Amazon or through Organic Gemini. You can also make delicious baked desserts with tiger nut flour. Check out my Zucchini Bread recipe to get your started.

How Many Ways You Can Use Coconut Oil?

Brittany Carlson

I use coconut oil on a daily basis. It is my favorite oil to use in the kitchen and is the best eye make-up remover I've ever found.  See how many ways coconut oil can be used and do let me know if I'm missing something! I use this particular brand, here.

General Health

  • Fat Burning– coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid and has thermogenic properties, incorporate a tablespoon of coconut oil into your daily regimen to boost metabolism. Try in your coffee or add to your smoothies.

  • Helps absorb fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K

  • Containts fatty acids nourish the brain and are beneficial for Alzheimer’s and epilepsy

  • Ingest coconut oil to support thyroid health, immune system and improve LDL (bad) cholesterol levels 

  • Eat as part of an anti-inflammatory diet for general health

Oral Health

  • Perfect toothpaste-- mix equal parts coconut oil with baking soda

  • Swish a little in your mouth to improve bad breath

  • Oil pulling to remove bacteria in the mouth and whiten teeth – scoop a tablespoon of coconut into your mouth and swish for 15 minutes in the morning.

Beauty

  • Use to remove makeup up 
  • Use as a massage oil

  • Use to treat dry lips

  • Make a gentle facial cleanser by mixing coconut  oil with brown sugar

Hair

  • Removes gum from hair 

  • Rub coconut oil on hair to treat split ends and stimulate hair growth

  • Use to remedy dandruff-- massage into scalp before showering, leave in for ten minutes and then rinse

Skin

  • Use as daily body moisturiser

  • Use as shaving cream

  • Rub on pregnant belly to prevent stretch marks

  • Soothes baby diaper rashes

In the kitchen

  • Spread on toast

  • Use in place of butter or olive oil to make popcorn

  • Use in regular baking as a substitute to olive oil or butter

  • Use to make dairy free chocolate. See my recipe here

  • Use as a creamer in coffee - add a tablespoon and blend 

  • Use when frying - coconut oil has a higher smoking point than vegetable oils. I love using coconut oils when I make fried or scrambled eggs.

Remedies

  • Rub on cold sores or athletes food-- coconut oil is anti-viral and anti-fungal

  • Use as deoderant

  • Soothes rashes

  • Helps relieve a sore throat--take a tablespoon of coconut and gargle for a few minutes. Coconut oil is antibacterial.

The Problem with Statins

Brittany Carlson

What are statins and why are they prescribed?

Statins are a class of prescription drugs used to lower overall serum cholesterol and prevent heart disease.

How do statins work?

Statins affect the mevalonate pathway, which is the route involved in the first step of cholesterol production. Statins block an initial enzymatic conversion that is necessary for cholesterol to synthesize.

What’s the problem with Statins?

By blocking the first step in the production of cholesterol, statins inhibit other important bodily functions. This blockage is like a physiological amputation (yes, it is extreme!). Many processes in our body are dependent on the mevalonate pathway, including membrane function, hormone and steroid synthesis. Side effects with statins typically start with muscle aches and pains, overall weakness, brain fog, nerve damage and low libido. Later and more serious side effects reported are Rhabdomlyolysis (a degenerative muscle tissue condition), kidney failure, and liver damage.

The use of statins also depletes the body of another important substance called CoQ10. Like cholesterol, CoQ10 is made in the mevalonate pathway. It is a powerful antioxidant, essential for energy, cellular function, and mental health. CoQ10 also decreases as we get older so incorporating statins into the mix adds another load. Aging is accelerated. Doctors have started to advise statin-taking patients to supplement with CoQ10. Deficiency is associated with many heart problems, aging and chronic fatigue. Hmmm...

Something seems fishy…

So remember when I told you that statins are prescribed to lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease? Well, it seems that they are only fulfilling half of their job requirements. While statins lower LDL cholesterol, the research does not indicate that they prevent heart disease.

Check out these numbers and facts. As a point of reference, ideal cholesterol levels are between 150 and 220.

▪ 35% of all heart attack patients have total cholesterol levels below 200.
▪ 50% of heart attack patients have total cholesterol levels below 220.
▪ 50% of heart attack patients have never presented with any of the conventional markers for heart disease.
▪ Statins do not correct or increase levels of HDL (the “good” cholesterol) or reduce high triglycerides (fat in your liver from excess sugar and carbohydrates). Many would argue that HDL cholesterol and triglycerides are more effective markers for heart disease than LDL levels.

Another important note, is that the median total cholesterol range for initiating statin drug treatment has gone down significantly over time. This number is determined by the the U.S. National Cholesterol Education Program.

Year: Median total cholesterol range for initiating statin drugs

1983: 340-359

1986: 300-319

1990: 240-259

later in 1990: 200-219

Debunked!

The Annals of Internal Medicine found insufficient evidence to support these numbers in 2006. It was also discovered that 8 of the 9 doctors on the panel of the Cholesterol Education Program were making money from drug companies. If you google "what is the main cause of death in the United States?", heart disease pops up. Even though we're implementing treatment at lower cholesterol levels, heart disease is on the rise.

The value of the cholesterol-lowering drug industry is currently estimated to be about $29 billion. Heart Disease has been the leading cause of death for the past 50 years though. Millions of Americans are taking statins yet still millions of Americans have heart disease and more people are developing heart disease than ever before. Something isn't working. Instead of putting a band-aid on your cholesterol, my recommendation is to address the root cause of your high LDL and start taking ownership of your own health.

Here are a few tips to take care of your heart, lower your LDL and increase your HDL, and hopefully avoid taking statins:

▪ Eliminate processed and packaged foods
▪ Eat green vegetables: zucchini, kale, parsley, dandelion, lettuce, spinach
▪ Exercise
▪ Cut out artificial sweetener
▪ Don't skip meals
▪ Meditate or do yoga to decrease stress levels
▪ Eliminate candy and sugary sweets. Find healthy sweet alternatives here.
 

If you want more health tips on lowering your LDL and/or need a refresher on cholesterol, check out Cholesterol 101.

Omega 3? Omega 6? Or Both

Brittany Carlson

What are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids?

These are our essential fats; essential meaning that our body cannot produce them on its own. We need to consume these fats as part of our diet to survive. Udo Erasmus, nutritionist and author of “Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill” states, “If you removed all the bad fats from your diet and did not bring in the good ones, you would still die from degenerative disease because you cannot live without the good essential fats.”  So contrary to popular belief, fats are not evil! Let’s make sure we’re getting an adequate dose of our healthy fats!

What foods contain Omega 3 and Omega 6?

High contents of Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish (salmon, sardines, halibut, oysters, trout, fresh tuna), avocado, flax seeds, chia and hemp seeds. High contents of Omega 6 fatty acids are present in most nuts and seeds as well as their oils (pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts and almonds).

So, you need both Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s, but there is a fine balance.

Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and Omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory. The immune system needs pro-inflammatory substances in order to ward off infection, however, chronic inflammation can lead to longer term diseases. So, when we consume more Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega 3’s, there is a greater inflammatory response, creating prime conditions for inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, Crohn’s, and high blood pressure.

The ideal ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is anywhere between one to one and one to two and a half. However, those of us eating a standard American diet have created a ratio that ranges between 20:1 and 40:1. We are overdosing on Omega 6 and creating inflammation! To give you a comparison, the Japanese have a healthier ratio of 3:1.

How and when did this problem begin? (a little history)

As our society moved away from small oil operations to large scale oil production, oils started to become chemically altered in order to increase shelf life. Omega 3 fatty acids as well as other critical nutrients (carotene, vitamin E, lecithin) were removed in order to keep oils from going rancid. The Omega 6 content remained. With a greater supply, the prices on these oils decreased, and are now widely used. As a result, our processed foods and oils you find in the middle of the grocery store often contain loads of Omega 6 and little to no Omega 3.  

Another reason we’re consuming more Omega 6 fatty acids is because of what our animal food sources eat. Conventional cows, chickens and goats typically consume GMO corn and grains, which are high in Omega 6 fatty acids. Animals that eat foods found in their natural environment, such as grass, weeds, bugs, and leafy greens have a much higher Omega 3 content, almost as high as fish. Grass fed organic meats and pastured eggs are where Omega 3 content is highest.

How Can You Get Back to Balance?

Boost Those Omega 3’s!

  • Eat a diet high in real food: organic + fresh fruits and vegetables

  • Eat pastured eggs

  • Eat grass fed meats

  • Add flax, hemp and chia to uncooked foods (pesto’s, smoothies, salad dressings, trail mix)

  • Eat avocado (anywhere, anytime, with anything)

  • Eat fatty fish (sardines, salmon)

  • Load up on leafy greens

  • Consume marine phytoplanktins (algae)

Guide to Cooking with Oils + Fats (Cheat-sheet included)

Brittany Carlson

There has been a lot of mixed information on how to use oils in the kitchen. We hear words like oxidize and rancid, but what do these words really mean? Oxidize means that the oil has reached its smoke point and has lost it's original chemical properties. When this happens, the oil becomes rancid, meaning it is no longer good for use. This is an issue because the oil's altered state can release free radicals into our bodies, contributing to all types of inflammation (think diabetes, heart disease, cancer...). For this reason it is crucial to be educated about how to use fats and oils so they uphold their original chemical structure, allowing us to safely consume them and fuel our bodies.

Cooking with High Heat

When cooking with high heat, saturated fats are where it's at. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature. They have a straight line chemical structure, and each carbon is saturated with hydrogen atoms, making them stable and ideal for cooking at higher temperatures.

Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter, which means that the milk solids are removed. This makes it a viable option for people sensitive to lactose and casein. Try using ghee to saute spices to release flavors and health benefits. Ghee is frequently used in French and Indian cooking because it upholds the integrity of the food it is cooked with. It helps improve digestion, increases good HDL cholesterol, builds the good bacteria in our gut and aids in the absorption of nutrients.

Refined Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a medium chain fatty acid and wonderful for cooking and baking. I specify refined coconut oil (versus unrefined) because the refining process removes nutrients that become rancid at low heats. For cooking and baking at stable to medium heat, it is ok to use unrefined coconut oil (less processed and contains all of the nutrients from the coconut). 

Like ghee, coconut oil is good for cholesterol. The lauric acid found in coconut oil increases HDL cholesterol in the blood, improving the overall good to bad cholesterol ratio. Coconut oil also lowers LDL cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone,which is the precursor to many of our hormones. Plus, coconut oil is antimicrobiral (can help fight bacteria and viruses), supports thyroid function, helps balance blood sugar and more. 

Fun Fact: Coconut oil also creates heat in the body and is not stored as fat. So if you have circulation issues or get cold hands and feet easily, get into that coconut jar. People with Raynauds (like myself) use coconut oil to increase the thermogenesis, or heat, in their body to prevent from symptoms. 

Animal Fat like Duck or Pork Lard

These fats are great for high heat and big flavor! Careful though-- if the rest of the diet is not balanced, excessive consumption of these long chain saturated fats can lead to plaque buildup in your arteries. 

Low to Medium Heat

Monounsaturated fats are ideal for light saute's. They are liquid at room temperature and solid when refrigerated. Olive oil and Canola oil are examples, however I do not recommend canola oil for health. 

Olive Oil

Be sure to buy olive oil that is cold-pressed and unrefined (the first pressing of the olives) to get all of the good nutrients from the olives. Buy olive oil that is sold in a darker glass bottle and store in a dark place to avoid rancidity. Olive oil contains a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory chemical called oleocanthal, which is like your natural ibuprofen. Olive oil has been used to benefit overall health and remedy digestive problems. It keeps the skin healthy and arteries supple. 

Canola Oil - a big NO here

This is oil is highly controversial. Some people say it can withstand high heat and others say it should be avoided all together. There hasn't been any real research done on canola oil for the past few decades. However, it is banned in baby formulas by the FDA, so I think that is reason enough to avoid it. It is made from the seed of GMO rape plants and has zero nutritional benefits when heated. 

Tip: Once an oil has reached it's smoking point and has become rancid, it should be thrown out and the pan should be wiped out. Start over with fresh fat/oil. 

No Heat: salad dressings and pesto

These are your polyunsaturated fats, which are always liquid, even when refrigerated, They are less saturated with hydrogen than monounsaturated and saturated fats, making them unstable to heat and prone to rancidity. These fats, which are your omega 3's, are also called essential fats because they are essential to the diet. The body does not make them on it's own. These oils are required for normal cell, tissue, gland and organ function.  The absence of essential fats will lead to disease. They should be refrigerated and never heated. A few examples are flax oil, hemp seed oil and walnut oil. You can also get these fats into your diet by eating chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, macadamia nuts and algae.

Reminder: We need fats in our diet to build and construct our cells and build good cholesterol. They are critical to our health. 


Why You Should Avoid Chemical Sweeteners + Introduce These Natural Sweeteners

Brittany Carlson

What's the deal with chemical sweeteners? Just because they have zero calories doesn't mean they aren't taking away from your body. I was inspired to share more about chemical sweeteners after one of my close friends innocently poured two packets of Splenda into her latte. So you are informed, below are chemical sweeteners to look out for and why you should avoid them.

Aspartame

  • Chemical sweetener found in Nutrasweet

  • Directly affects the brain and has shown to be associated with epilepsy, Parkinson's and brain tumors

  • Linked with stomachaches and other digestive issues

  • Found in sugar free gum, yogurt, low fat products, diet sodas

Sucralose

  • Chemical ingredient found in Splenda

  • Made from chlorinating sugar; chlorine consumption has shown to cause immune suppression, and has negatively affected the cardiovascular and respiratory systems of lab animals

  • Interferes with functioning of the thyroid which helps regulate metabolism 

  • A recent study investigated Sucralose to measure whether or not it reduced hunger and kept blood sugars balanced. They found that it does not. See article here: Splenda: The 'Other' Sweetener That's Made from Sugar, but Is Closer to DDT

Saccharin

  • Chemical found in Sweet & Low

  • Banned in Canada after it was found to increase bladder cancer

  • The FDA used to require that foods containing saccharin be labeled but it was reversed after lobbyists lobbied for it's removal

Is There An Alternative?

So you're probably thinking, I can't eat regular cane sugar and I can't use chemical sweeteners, so what do I do about my sweet tooth? Check out these natural sweeteners below to indulge your sweet tooth in a nutritious way that will not deplete you. 

Coconut sugar

  • Low glycemic

  • High in nutrients

  • High in fiber

  • Has a delicious taste like brown sugar and can be substituted in equal parts to sugar in recipes

Brown Rice Syrup

  • Low glycemic

  • High in fiber

  • Has caramel like taste but not too sweet

  • Great for homemade energy bars and caramel popcorn

Yacon Syrup

  • Low glycemic

  • Promotes healthy prebiotic and probiotic activity

  • Yacon is a sweet tasting tuberous root grown in the Andes

Xylitol

  • Prevents dental caries

  • Comes from a corn husk or a tree birch

  • Great in gum or candy-like treats

Stevia

  • Comes from a leaf, South American herb

  • Available in leaf, liquid and powder form

  • Great in smoothies, chia pudding, baking

5 Reasons to Add Gelatin to Your Diet

Brittany Carlson

Gelatin is a building block for our bodies and has myriad health benefits. Gelatin is found in the tendons and skin of meat or fish and comes from the break down of collagen. Since most people buy a single cut of meat, say a chicken breast, or a piece of skinned fish, most of us do not consume an adequate amount of gelatin.

5 Reasons to Eat Gelatin

1. Promotes Digestive Health

Gelatin stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, which promotes the breakdown of food. Many people suffer from low stomach acid and are therefore unable to disassemble proteins completely. This can lead to many digestive and long term health problems (think leaky gut, autoimmune diseases, inflammation). Eating gelatin assists by breaking down proteins into amino acids and allowing the body to properly absorb nutrients. If you are having digestive issues, gelatin will help heal and repair the gut lining!

2. Beautiful Skin

Gelatin contains amino acids (proline and glycine) that are used to produce collagen, which gives our skin elasticity, strength, and stimulates growth of new skin cells. Collagen production decreases as we age, which is why we develop sagging skin and wrinkles.  Gelatin also protects against sun damage.  

3. Mental Health

The amino acid glycine in gelatin is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which has been shown to promote restorative sleep, promote a state of calm and decrease anxiety. Glycine is  used to treat mental illness and is effective in reducing negative symptoms.

4. Strong Joints

Our tendons and ligaments require gelatin to move with ease. When we don't have enough, the body is stiff and our joints can become inflamed. Consuming gelatin will reduce inflammation in your joints. Gelatin is effective in managing bone conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis

5. Boosts Metabolism

Glycine regulates metabolism. It has been used to treat metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.

How To Add Gelatin Into Your Diet

1. Eat the skin! I often see friends remove skin from chicken or salmon-- don't do this! The skin is full of nourishing gelatin and healthy fats.

2. Add Gelatin Powder to recipes. Check out my Blueberry Gelatin Gummy Vitamins.

3. Homemade Bone Broth

Could You Be B12 Deficient? : The Dangers of B12 Deficiency + What You Need to Know Now

Brittany Carlson

What are symptoms of B12 deficiency?

B12 deficiency causes neurologic, psychiatric, and hematologic symptoms.  A variety of neurologic symptoms present because a deficiency in B12 disrupts or destroys the fatty protective lining of our nerves and brain called myelin.  B12 deficiency causes demyelination similar to multiple sclerosis, and both are demyelinating diseases.  Common neurologic symptoms of B12 deficiency are paresthesias (numbness, tingling, burning) to legs or arms, balance or gait problems, tremor, poor memory, confusion, and dementia. 

Because B12 is a precursor for the neurotransmitters in the brain, an array of psychiatric disturbances develop when B12 deficiency develops.  Patients can get wrongly placed on psychiatric medications verses needed B12 therapy.    Patients with low B12 or deficiency can develop depression, suicidal ideations, irritability, anxiety, and psychosis.  Young children develop developmental delay or regression, and may get misdiagnosed with autism.  Older children with low B12 or a deficiency have learning difficulties and fall behind in school.  The hematologic or blood signs of B12 deficiency are anemia.  Anemia can cause fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and fainting spells.

How can B12 deficiency be treated?

B12 deficiency can be treated by simple self administrated subcutaneous injections like diabetics, or high dose B12 lozenges or other oral preparations.  We find that injections work the best and actually are cheaper, but patients will need a prescription from their doctor for the injectable form.  We recommend hydroxocobalamin verses cyanocobalamin.  People can be treated weekly, tri-monthly or bi-monthly with injections depending on the cause.  People who use oral supplementation typically take it daily, and I recommend methylcobalamin verses cyanocobalamin. 

Where can I get B12?

B12 is found in animal products, over-the-counter preparations and prescription preparations (injections, pills, nasal sprays).  Transdermal preparations are also advertised but no major studies have been done on their efficacy.  People who are carnivores can also become B12 deficient, because of malabsorption syndromes, chemotherapy, radiation, specific medications, genetic mutations, gastrointestinal surgeries, and autoimmune disorders. 
 

How can B12 deficiency be prevented?

By knowing the signs, symptoms, and risk factors, as well as getting screened annually.  People who have any signs, symptoms or risk factors need to get tested.  At risk patients need to be screened annually and take high dose over-the-counter B12 for prevention.  The tests are as follows:  serum B12, methylmalonic acid, homocysteine.  If you find you are B12 deficient, your health care provider will work with you to find the underlying cause. People who are not symptomatic can take high-dose oral B12 1,000 mcg (sublingual or lozenges) daily for prevention.

When did B12 deficiency become a major problem and why?

B12 deficiency has always been a problem.  People died from B12 deficiency before the 1930’s because the vitamin was not yet discovered.  It is becoming more prevalent in today’s society because besides malabsorption syndromes (i.e. Crohn’s disease, celiac [gluten enteropathy], atrophic gastritis), there are many other factors that can cause or contribute to B12 deficiency.  For instance certain medications proton-pump inhibitors (omeprazole), metformin (Glucophage), nitrous oxide (used for medical and dental procedures), cause or contribute to B12 deficiency. People can become B12 deficient from an autoimmune disease (pernicious anemia) or from Helicobacter pylori (H. pyloir) a stomach bacteria.  B12 deficient moms who breast feed can pass it on to their infant (maternal B12 deficiency) which can result in injury to the child’s brain and nervous system.  People who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet can become deficient because B12 is only found in animal products.  Other people can become B12 deficient because of genetic mutations or polymorphisms in the MTHFR and MTRR genes.  People who have eating disorders can also become B12 deficient as well as gastric bypass patients for weight loss will become B12 deficient overtime. 

More Information on the Author: 

Sally Pacholok has 36 years of experience in the health care field. For the past 28 years, she has practiced emergency nursing in addition to conducting extensive research into B12 deficiency. She is a frequent guest on nationally syndicated talk shows, a lecturer, and the co-author of Could It Be B12? An Epidemic of Misdiagnoses (2nd edition, 2011)—the winner of the Indie Excellence Award for best health book. Could It Be B12? has been translated into Dutch and Slovenian.  Last spring, Pacholok co-authored What’s Wrong With My Child? From Neurological and Developmental Disabilities to Autism…How to Protect Your Child from B12 Deficiency (2015).  

In 2009, Sally and Dr. Jeffrey Stuart created B12 Awareness (www.B12Awareness.org).  Pacholok educates the public and health care professionals worldwide about B12 deficiency, and has appeared in two documentaries. In 2014, film producer Elissa Leonard wrote and directed the movie Sally Pacholok, which is based on Pacholok’s life-long battle to raise awareness about B12 deficiency and the consequences of its misdiagnosis. It is an Erin Brochovich type whistle-blower romance educating the audience to the sins and consequences of untreated B12 deficiency.  Presently it is in the film festival circuit.  It won best feature film at the D.C. Independent Film Festival on February 28, 2015.     

7 Reasons to Add Chia Into Your Diet + Chia Seed Porridge Recipe

Brittany Carlson

Chia seeds are an ideal breakfast or snack because they contain all of the essential macro-nutrients to keep you fueled.  If you haven't tried chia seeds or have only used them as a topping instead of the main dish, try out my Warm Coconut Chia Porridge. I eat this for breakfast or sometimes as an afternoon snack, and it tastes like a comforting dessert.  No sugar spikes or cravings to follow! 

7 Reasons to Try Get Your Chia On

1. Chia seeds are a complete protein--note to vegetarians!

2. Chia seeds help retain electrolytes. When mixed with water, these little beads absorb up to 10 times their weight. I recommend consuming chia seeds before a workout to stay hydrated.

‪3. Chia seeds aid in digestive health. One serving contains 11 grams of fiber to keep you regular. These seeds also contain valuable minerals, which are needed to produce enzymes in the body to break down the food you eat.‬

4. Chia seeds reduce inflammation. Chia contains the highest level of omega 3 fatty acids of any known plant foods, which helps to decrease inflammation throughout the body. An anti-inflammatory diet is important to prevent disease.‬

5. Chia seeds balance blood sugar. Chia is high in fiber and fat, so it is digested slowly, helping to avoid spikes in blood sugar. 

‪6.  Chia seeds promote strong bones. Chia contains calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus, helping to maintain bone mass and strength.‬

7. Chia seeds improve cholesterol levels. Chia seeds have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol (the good kind!).‬


Warm Chia Seed Porridge Recipe

What you'll need

  • 1/2 cup full fat organic coconut milk, unsweetened (I use Native Forest)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1/3 cup chia seeds

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/8 teaspoon liquid stevia (optional) 

  • pinch of flakey sea salt

Method

  • Whisk all ingredients together into a bowl

  • Refrigerate overnight (you can enjoy like this or keep going with the extra steps!)

  • Put chia/coconut mixture into a small pan on the stove and add 1 cup of water.

  • Heat on very low heat, stirring continuously until porridge is smooth and warm. Do not over heat!

  • Put porridge into a jar or bowl and enjoy!

Optional toppings: coconut milk, cacao nibs, nuts, seeds, goji berries, blueberries, hemp seeds

Coconut Milk Tip: The cream in canned coconut milk often separates from the water. To acheive more of a milky consistency, I remove everything from the can and blend the water and cream together. I use this milk in my coffee on a daily basis and it is delicious!


5 Tips to Conquer Cravings

Brittany Carlson

Cravings… One glance at that gooey brownie and you're doomed. The brownie has been elevated to a status far beyond its worth and you're comin' for it. Why is it so hard to say no to the brownie? 

Because just the smell and taste of sugar on the tongue release chemicals in our brains that make it hard to move on with the day and forget about the brownie once inhaled. Dopamine is the brain chemical that takes us from cue to urge, that causes us to eat dessert after dinner even when we don’t feel hungry.

Sugar activates a release of dopamine, which is why we turn to sweets during stressful periods, activating opiate receptors in the body just like a drug. Thus a glance at the brownie causes dopamine and opiate neurons to fire, and indulgence seems inevitable. 

What Can You Do to Cope with Cravings?

1. Eat foods that naturally support the release of dopamine

A few examples: almonds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, avocado, Lima beans, bananas, dairy, fermented cod liver oil. (yes, really!)

2. Crowd Out

Bring in healthy foods like vegetables, lean meats and low glycemic treats, which will keep you satisfied and less in need of a sugar treat. 

3. Be Prepared

Bring your own healthy treat to a party so you know you'll have something sweet to nosh on; having passed on those temptations. 

4. Lights Out

Getting a good nights sleep is a sure way to help the body heal and achieve physiological balance, especially with relation to blood sugar. Lack of sleep reduces insulin sensitivity, which results in our cells decreased ability to accept blood sugar for fuel. This causes cortisol levels to increase, stimulates the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, and simultaneously decreases the satiety hormone lectin. With less sleep, you are more hungry and it is harder to recognize when you have had your fill.

Also, the time you get to sleep is important. Between the hours of 10 pm and 1 am, the body is in it's best state of repair and the liver can do the most detoxification

5. Throw Out or Give Away

If you don't want to be tempted, get sweets out of sight!

Are Smoothies Good for Weight Loss? + Low Fructose Smoothie Recipes

Brittany Carlson

Many people view smoothies as a vehicle to weight loss. If the scale isn't budging, it is most likely because of too much fruit in your smoothie. 

Fruit naturally contains fructose, which is not directly absorbed into the blood (unlike glucose). Fructose requires more energy for our bodies to metabolize-- it needs to go through the small intestines and the liver before it can be used as fuel. When our cells have enough glucose to function, the excess is stored as glycogen in our muscles and liver to be used on a rainy day. When these glycogen reserves are full because of more sugar than your particular body needs, sugar is stored as fat. That's right, excess sugar is stored as fat. Dietary sugar increases blood triglycerides more than any other macronutrient. Essentially, sugar = Fat. 

Furthermore, when we eat fructose (or any sugar for that matter), blood sugar rises. The rise in blood sugar results in a short-lived boost in energy. You end up feeling hungry quickly and crave something sweet to feel balanced again. So not only are you fueling yourself with something ineffective that wont help you lose weight, you wind up eating more shortly after to get your body back to a balanced state. 

So what can you do differently? My recommendation is to incorporate healthy fats and proteins into your smoothie and cut the fruit. Good fats and protein are digested slowly, which will keep your blood sugar stay balanced and leave you feeling satiated for longer. Avocado, a source of fiber and fat, is a perfect base for a smoothie. A high quality protein powder is also a good alternative (I use Vega). And if you do decide to have fruit in your smoothie, limit it to half a cup and try a fruit with a low glycemic load such as a peach or a pear.  Try these recipes out to get you started!


Low Fructose Smoothie Recipes

Omega 3 Boost

Ingredients

  • ½ organic cucumber, chopped

  • ¼ cup parsley

  • ½  squeezed lemon

  • ½ avocado

  • 1 ½ cups full fat coconut milk

  • 5 ice cubes

Method

Combine ingredients and blend until smooth. 

Chocolate Madness

Ingredients

  • 1 serving Chocolate protein powder by Vega

  • 1 Tablespoon Cacao Powder 

  • 1 Tablespoon Chia Seeds

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

  • 5 ice cubes

Method

Combine ingredients and blend until smooth. 

The Sad Truth About Refined Sugar

Brittany Carlson

People are always asking me, Why is sugar so bad for you? What’s the big deal?  Anyone who knows me knows that I have a sweet tooth—carrot cake my favorite! I love occasionally finishing dinner with dessert, and, agree with my mom-- it’s bad luck not to enjoy a piece of cake at weddings or birthdays.

As you may have guessed, I haven’t always had complete control over my sugar in-take. But lately I’m tired of letting sugar dictate my mood and energy levels. So for the past month I’ve been experimenting… life without sugar. It hasn’t been a cake-walk, (pun intended) but the challenge has been well worth it—clearer skin, more energy, a couple pounds.

Sugar has negative effects on our bodies physiologically , such as immune repression, inflammation, neurological problems, deterioration of oral hygiene and yeast growth, but today I'm going to focus on vitamin and mineral depletion caused by sugar.  

The main problem with sugar lies in how it is processed and refined. How is sugar made?  (bear with me)

White sugar is made by refining the sugar cane or sugar beet, which involves multiple chemicals processes that filter and boil the liquid extracted from the original plant. This produces gasses like sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide that remove all of the plants original nutrients, enzymes, fiber, protein and minerals that are needed for proper digestion.

What happens when you eat foods devoid of nutrients?

As you may see from the refining process, all of the nutrients are removed from the original food source which means you are eating empty calories = food without nutrients. But that’s not all. Our bodies require B vitamins, calcium and other vitamins and minerals to digest sugar. This means that when you consume refined foods that are void of essential nutrients, the body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the refined sugar. We feel depleted after eating sweets because we are; our healthy cells lend their minerals and nutrients to breakdown those empty calories.  

So Can I have Any Sugar? What is Too Much?

I would love to say everything in moderation but in the case of refined sugar, I recommend avoiding it or replacing it with stevia or natural sugar, such as raw honey (raw honey contains enzymes that slow the digestion of sugar). Because after you consume refined sugar, it increases the body’s normal rate of mineral loss (through sweat and urine) by 300% for 12 hours after sugar is consumed. This means that if you eat sugar on a routine basis, there is no way to replenish your body and get back to balance.  Crazy right?

What happens When the Body is Depleted of Vitamins and Minerals?

Mineral depletion causes premature aging, such as wrinkles and gray hair, also affecting hormones. Hormone levels drop as we age and lack of essential minerals will cause them to drop even sooner, specifically affecting the adrenal hormones.  Adrenals lacking minerals can cause insomnia, digestive disorders, weight gain, brain fog, and sexual imbalances.

Calcium stores are also called on to balance the effects of sugar. There are is now a direct link between sugar consumption and osteopenia, which is the precursor to osteoporosis. 

We need calcium for strong bones, teeth, blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity and cell membrane function. In order for calcium to store in our cells, the body is dependent on ample magnesium, vitamins D, A, and K. So taking a calcium supplement isn’t the solution—you need all of those good vitamins and minerals for your body to be in balance.

Magnesium also provides strength and structure to our bones, working with calcium and phosphorous. Dr. Natasha McBride states, in order to metabolize one molecule of sugar, the body requires 56 molecules of magnesium. She suggests that sugar is the main reason for widespread magnesium deficiency which leads to high blood pressure, neurological, immune and sleep problems.

Finally, Thiamine, which is a B vitamin, is depleted as it works to neutralize the effects of sugar. Thiamine is needed to produce energy and helps us stay composed and clear headed. It is also important for liver detox. Thiamine is found in veggies, seeds and legumes.

Here is the bottom line—when you eat refined sugar, it robs your cells of essential vitamins and minerals.

Want a Detox? Focus on The Health of Your Liver

Brittany Carlson

Let's take a moment to talk about the liver: the primary gatekeeper for your body. The liver is the largest internal organ in the body and it most certainly pulls its weight. Every thing must pass through the liver before entering the blood for general circulation. The liver cleans the blood, filtering out things like environmental toxins, sugars and chemicals, and then delivers nutrients back into the blood stream to be used as fuel for our cells.

The liver has three main jobs, which are to:

  1. Filter the blood
  2. Breakdown the chemical compounds for excretion
  3. Regulate metabolism by synthesizing and secreting bile, which aids in digestion of fat. 

In particular, the liver

* Regulates fat storage
* Discharges waste
* Neutralizes and destroys poison
* Metabolizes alcohol
* Aids in digestion
* Controls production and secretion of cholesterol

You can see that if the liver isn't functioning, a whole host of health related issues will ensue; for example, elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, diabetes, leaky gut, infertility, jaundice, fatty liver disease, cirrhosis and obesity. It is the primary organ for detoxification and taking out the trash is important! So what can you do to help your liver out? 

Eat Your Beets!

Beets contain betaine which protects the bile ducts and liver from damage and clears toxins in the liver cells. Eat cooked, raw or juiced!

Dash of Tumeric

Tumeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory and promotes bile flow. Add a dash of tumeric to dressings, smoothies, curries and soups!

No More Late Night Snackin'

11pm to 3am is the liver's regenerative cycle. If your body is working to digest food at this time, you will disrupt the detoxification process and your sleep. 

B vitamins

B vitamins are crucial for liver detox of chemicals and bacterial toxins. Take a B-complex supplement on a daily basis. Get help with supplements here

Choline

Choline, an essential micronutrient, critical to the metabolism of the liver. Choline also helps transport triglycerides (fat cells) from the liver. Get your choline from eggs and avocado (check out my healthy deviled egg recipe.

Watch Out for Bad Fats

Good fats are good. Really good. But bad fats , like fried food, likely has oxidized oils which means they are overly heated. Stick to clean fats like avocado, coconut oil and salmon.

Fun Fact! Did you know that you can remove 90% of the liver and it will grow back? The liver has amazing regenerative potential.

Sometheing to consider: After reading this you can see that the state of your liver can most definitely impact weight loss. If you have stubborn weight that you can't seem to get rid of and want to get to the root cause, let's discuss. Contact me anytime.