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My goal this month was to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to nourish your body. So far we’ve discussed my thoughts on extreme dieting and weight loss and the ideal diet. I also provided the basics of yin and yang nutrition to help you maintain a balanced body and diet, and in this blog, I’m sharing 11 foods that I consume on a daily basis. Interestingly enough, they all happen to be superfoods, which means they are nutrient dense and help to prevent many of the most common diseases.
I’ve been practicing medicine for the past 15 years. In that time, I’ve seen just how much food can impact health and wellbeing, so I consume the following superfoods daily to keep myself well and vital.
I also encourage my patients to consume these superfoods regularly as a way to support their overall health.
This South American plant is a powerful adrenal modulator. It is found mostly in Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador (where I’m from). It supports the adrenal glands by boosting energy and regulating hormones so that you can better handle the stress of daily life. It also supports brain health, helps reduce anxiety, and increases libido. I purchase gelatinized maca and add a ¼ teaspoon to my smoothie each day.
2. RAW CACAO NIBS
Organic cacao nibs are nature’s chocolate chips and the rawest form of chocolate that you can consume. They are loaded with antioxidants and nutrients, like iron and magnesium, as well as fiber and healthy fats. They have a deep, dark chocolate flavor and I love to add them to smoothies, sprinkle them on top of berries, and add them to trail mix.
These seeds are loaded with fiber (soluble and insoluble) and lignans which are essential to detoxification and one of the most powerful plant foods that are available. They bind to toxins and help to clear them from the body through the bowels. They also contain omega-3’s and help to reduce blood pressure, prevent heart disease, and regulate blood sugar. I recommend consuming two tablespoons of ground flax seeds each day in a smoothie, on a fruit salad, in a vegetable salad or in your morning oatmeal.
Also, something to note: ground flaxseeds don’t last more than a few weeks (even when stored in the refrigerator), so if you plan on buying in bulk, it’s best to buy whole flax seeds and grind them yourself when you’re ready to use them.
Whether you’re consuming dandelion greens or drinking a cup of dandelion tea (my favorite), this beautiful plant is an excellent source of vitamins a, b, and c vitamins as well as potassium and magnesium. I often recommend dandelion tea to help support my patients with liver and kidney detoxification. As you know, our environment is extremely toxic, but dandelion can help the body to clear out these toxins. Dandelion is also high in antioxidants which helps to neutralize free radicals and support healthy aging.
5. MILK THISTLE
This plant has been used for more than 2000 years to help protect the liver and support detoxification. Similar to dandelion, it helps to support the removal of heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, and chlorine from the body, so I drink a cup of organic milk thistle tea each day. I often mix it with dandelion to not only support detoxification, but healthy metabolism, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
In recent years, this superfood has become fairly well-known for its high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory benefits. In addition to helping reduce inflammation, it also helps to support brain function, liver function, and gut health. I like to juice the raw root and add the juice to smoothies, but you can also use turmeric powder or take it in capsule form. If your goal is to prevent disease as you age, turmeric is an essential nutrient to consume on a daily basis.
One cup of blueberries provides 24% of a person recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. This helps to support collagen production which can help to reduce skin damage and reduce wrinkles. Blueberries also contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, and vitamin K – all minerals that contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength. Throw this delicious superfood in your smoothie or freeze them and enjoy them as a cool, refreshing treat.
I eat ½ an avocado each day because they are loaded with the healthy fats I need for hormone stabilization and brain health, the fiber I need for bowel support, and more potassium than a banana which helps support cardiovascular health and bone health. I add this superfood to salads and smoothies. They also make a great topping for soups and stews.
Garlic is a powerhouse when it comes to reducing inflammation, ridding the body of fungi and parasites, as well as treating and preventing a host of other illness. In fact, it has been linked to reducing and/or preventing four of the most common causes of death worldwide, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, and infections. They don’t call it a superfood for nothing! I enjoy it in salad dressings, chopped and sauteed to add flavor to meals, and roasted.
10. OLIVE OIL
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, but you can combat this statistic by adding olive oil to your diet. It is one of the best foods to consume to maintain the health of your heart because it contains monounsaturated fat that helps to clear your arteries and prevent premature aging of the heart. I recommend consuming this superfood raw, not cooked – use it to make salad dressings or drizzle it on top of meat, fish, and greens that have already been cooked.
11. SWEET POTATOES
In addition to all the other superfoods on this list, I also eat sweet potatoes every day! They are one of my favorite foods because they are loaded with carotenoids and vitamin A which help support eye health, heart health, the adrenals. They also contain high amounts of fiber and the sugar content is minimal which is great for gut health.
Consuming all of these superfoods on a regular basis will help to support your overall health and help you to move through 2019 feeling healthy and happy.
I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
This week I want to add another piece to the puzzle and talk about yin and yang foods because as you know from reading the previous blogs in this series, the ideal diet is one that nourishes you and supports the needs of your unique body. Sometimes, those needs include actively using food to combat illness and disease and this is something that can be done through understanding and incorporating yin and yang foods into your diet appropriately.
You may have heard the terms yin and yang before, but I want to take a second to explain what they mean so we’re all on the same page.
In Chinese medicine, it is believed that food has energy, as does your body. Yin foods are cool and moist, while yang foods are warm and drying. Eating too much from one category or the other can upset your internal balance, leading to illness.
You can also shift the balance of yin and yang in your body through the activities you participate in and the environment in which you live.
For example, sitting at a desk all day is a yin activity; taking CrossFit or another exercise class provides you with yang energy. Also, living in a hotter climate like Arizona is yang while cold, snowy winters in New York City are very yin.
- Tofu and soybeans
- Fruit, such as watermelon, bananas, strawberries, and citrus
- Vegetables, like watercress, cucumbers, carrots, cabbage, zucchini, and bok choy
- Cold beverages and water
- Foods that are high in fat, protein, calories, and sodium
- Animal proteins, like chicken, pork, and beef
- Warm spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and turmeric
- Eggs, nuts, avocado, raw onion, and mushrooms
- Alcohol and chocolate
If you have symptoms that are related to an excess of yin, you’ll want to begin incorporating more yang foods into your diet and vice versa.
For example, if a patient comes to my clinic with a cold, clear mucus, and feeling weak or fatigued, the dietary recommendation would be for them to incorporate more yang foods, like animal protein, nuts and seeds, avocado, and red onion.
Conversely, if they came in with green mucus and a fever, I would recommend more yin foods to help cool their body down and restore balance. I would have them incorporate foods like bananas, watermelon, zucchini, or citrus into their diet.
Similarly, if a patient came into the clinic with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms – migraines, mood swings, breast sensitivity, and cramps – I would recommend they incorporate more yin foods into their diet since PMS is an indication of excess yang energy. Eating foods like watercress, cucumber, kiwi, and mandarins could help provide relief.
You don’t have to be ill to use these principles of yin and yang foods, however.
If you are not ill, but simply looking to maintain a balanced body and optimize your health, you can use these principles to help to maintain balance in your body and support overall wellness.
To do this, you’ll want to eat yin and yang foods in a balanced manner. If I were having yin foods, like bok choy or cucumber, I might enjoy them with avocado so that within my meal, the energies of yin and yang are as balanced as possible.
Again, the ideal diet is one that supports your body’s ability to fight disease and that supports your health goals. But incorporating the information I shared in my last post along those mentioned here will help you to restore or maintain internal balance. It will also help you to recover more quickly when you do become ill.
Hippocrates was on to something when he said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” The principles of yin and yang foods are exactly this – a way to use food to prevent and treat illness.
In my next and final blog of this series on nutrition, I’ll be diving into recovery and prevention even more as I share my favorite superfoods. Once this series is complete, you’ll have a well-rounded, practical, and comprehensive understanding of how to choose the best foods for your body.
I hope you’ll come back to read the final post in this series!
Digestion + Nutrition | 0 Comments
Over the years there have been countless ways of eating have been advertised as the “ideal diet”.
They are sold to us as miracle cures to illness and inflammation, weight loss, and fountains of youth, and while these diets may work for some, they aren’t helpful for everyone.
So what is the ideal diet or nutrition plan?
The ideal diet and nutrition plan is the one that works for your body and includes the following:
1. Eat intuitively
The ideal diet is one that works for you and your body. Your needs will vary based on your level of physical activity, the environment in which you live, and the current state of your health so it’s important to listen to your body and understand your cravings.
Listening to your body can be a challenge initially – there’s a lot going on in there! It may be a little easier, however, if you utilize the spiritual practices I recommend, like meditation. These help you to slow down and become more aware of different bodily sensations and cravings, so you have a better understanding of what you need in each moment.
Your body is wise and will crave what it needs.
Sometimes those needs are based on imbalances, like adrenal fatigue, stress, and emotional comfort. Other times, those needs are based on what you need nutritionally to nourish yourself and maintain optimal health.
2. Enjoy a variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables
Our bodies are adaptive. This means that our needs fluctuate based on the climate and environment we live in. For example, here in Arizona, the air is very dry, so those of us who live here need to eat lots of hydrating fruits and vegetables. It just so happens that the foods that we need to thrive in this climate are the foods that grow locally.
If you can, take the time to visit your local farmer’s market and purchase foods that grow in your area. These will be fresher and sometimes more nutrient dense than fruits and vegetables that have to travel hundreds of miles to get to you.
As you are purchasing local foods, find out about the soil they are grown in. I recently noticed that many of my patients had high levels of thallium and cesium in their bodies. These are radioactive metals that they were consuming in cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. These are all healthy vegetables that I recommend often because they help to cleanse the body, prevent cancer, and recycle hormones,but they were being grown in toxic soil.
That said, it’s important to pay attention to your body and also pay attention to where your food is grown and sourced.
3. Reduce foods that cause inflammation
I don’t recommend dieting or following strict ways of eating like the paleo and ketogenic diet. I do, however, believe the ideal diet is one that limits foods that contribute to internal inflammation because internal inflammation can lead to disease. These foods are gluten, dairy, refined sugar and genetically modified (GMO) foods like corn and soy.
I also recommend eliminating trans fats and hydrogenated fats as these have been proven to be detrimental to our health.
This is the way I eat and the way I recommend my patients approach food and eating.
If you want more specific food and eating recommendations, I recommend reading Dr. Mark Hyman’s book, “Food: What the Heck Should I Eat.” It is one of the most coherent, well-informed, well-researched, and practical guides to food and eating that I’ve found. It’s a great companion to this blog post.
You can also come back here next week for the third blog post in my series on food and nutrition. I’ll be sharing how to eat a balanced diet using the principles of Chinese medicine, yin and yang.
It’s perfect for those of you who may be struggling with illness and in need of a way to bring more balance to your body through your diet.
I hope to “see” you back here soon!
At the start of every year, we’re inundated with advertising from diet companies promoting weight loss and promising to help you become a new, smaller version of yourself.
You won’t find that here, however!
What you will find here throughout the month of January are my thoughts on dieting and what constitutes an ideal diet, how to eat a well-balanced diet, and what superfoods I consume regularly to maintain and support my health.
The hope is that you’ll find a way to eat that doesn’t just focus on weight loss, but instead supports your overall health and wellness.
Let me start by saying I do not recommend extreme diets or yo-yo dieting as they can negatively affect your metabolism and your relationship with food. They can also lead to increased weight gain in the long run.
Have you ever dieted for a few months, perfectly followed the protocol for a few weeks only to “fall off the wagon” and binge eat all the foods you weren’t allowed to have on the diet?
Or lose lots of weight on a diet then gain back the weight you lost plus some as soon as you start eating normally again?
If you said yes to either scenario, you’re not alone and you’re normal.
That’s right, your body is having a normal response to restriction and deprivation – binge eating and slowed metabolism, both if which can result in weight gain.
Extreme dieting requires you to restrict caloric intake and in many cases eliminate entire food groups. When you do this for an extended period of time, (days, weeks, or months) your body prepares itself for famine by slowing down your metabolism so you have the resources you need to maintain proper functioning.
Dieting also creates stress which can increase internal inflammation, thus increasing your chances of developing disease and illness in the long run.
Extreme dieting and rapid weight loss can deplete your body quite quickly, causing a deficit in iron and b-vitamins which can result in hair loss, brain fog, fatigue, dry skin.
On an emotional level dieting can cause isolation and depression. Not being able to eat what everyone around you is eating or not wanting to be tempted by foods you “shouldn’t” be eating can reduce your desire to eat with and in front of friends and family.
Instead of dieting, I recommend
taking a holistic and medically safe approach:
- Get tested to be sure there are no underlying deficiencies, imbalances, or toxins present that may be causing weight gain.
- Eat a balanced diet that supplies you with all of the vitamins and minerals you need to function optimally while allowing yourself to enjoy foods like cookies and cheesecake in moderation (more on this later).
- Move your body regularly.
- Address your mental health since carrying emotional weight can cause you to gain weight physically.
Of course, a holistic weight loss approach can take longer than most extreme diets and is not a quick fix so it tends to be less desirable. It is the healthiest way to approach weight loss, however.
If these measures fail, I recommend dieting only under the guidance of a trained and certified health care provider. Work with someone who has a comprehensive understanding of your body and it’s nutritional needs.
It’s important to remember that you are more than your weight. It sounds cliche, but it’s true. Good health is more than weight loss, it is multifactorial.
Nutrition is important, but let’s not obsess over calories.
Instead, shift your focus to nourishment on all levels. Nourish your mind and your relationships. Develop healthy mindsets and coping mechanisms – all of this is important when it comes to your health.
For more information on dieting and its effects on your body, read this book.
Come back next week to learn more about the ideal diet. My thoughts on this may surprise you!
General Wellness | 0 Comments
This is the final blog post in a series of four on spirituality and its connection to our health. Since it’s the end of the year and a time when many of us are making new year resolutions and thinking about ways to begin the new year refreshed, renewed, and motivated to create change, I felt it appropriate to share the spiritual practices that help me transition from one year to the next with ease.
If you’ve been following along in the series, you know that spirituality is an important part of my personal and professional life. It’s a tool that I use to help myself stay grounded and well while running a busy medical practice, but it’s also a tool and resource that I offer to my patients as part of their treatment.
Spirituality is an important part of my everyday life, but it is especially important for me at the end of the year and something that I incorporate into all of my end of the year rituals and practices.
Among these spiritual practices are connecting with friends and family, self-reflection, creating a vision board, and “burning the year” —
Connecting with Friends and Family
As the year comes to a close, I find it necessary to slow down. The holidays are often so busy and hectic that it can be difficult to truly connect with our loved ones, so it’s essential for me to slow down and create time for connection.
I take a break from work and make time to visit family and friends. Sometimes I travel to Ecuador to be with my family, but this year, I’ll be traveling to South Africa to visit my husband’s family.
A big part of my spiritual practice is writing or journaling. I take advantage of the slower pace of life to journal and reflect on the things that have occurred throughout the year. I note my successes as well as my challenges.
I find it beneficial to assess the past; to look at what happened during the year, acknowledge the things I accomplished and the things I am proud of, as well as the challenges and the lessons learned from those challenges. I do this for all aspects of my life – career, love, family, finances, physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.
My husband also does this exercise and we come together to share our experiences as well as our goals and intentions for the coming year.
Create a Vision Board
With the visions I come up with during my self-reflection, I create a visual representation of what I want to feel, see, and do in the year to come. You can do this by writing your hopes and intentions on a piece of paper or clipping images from old magazines that represent what you want to experience in the new year and arranging them on paper or poster board.
Creating your vision in this way can be really powerful. In fact, many of the things that I add to my vision board and set my intention to do, see and feel actually come to fruition.
This is because imagination and intention are really powerful tools that can be used as part of your spiritual practice to help you create the things you want in life.
“Burning the Year”
The year wouldn’t be complete without one of my favorite spiritual practices, a ceremonial ritual called “burning the year.”
In Ecuador, where I’m from, New Year’s Eve is a big celebration. It always involves a fire and a figure of an old man sculpted from newspaper. We dress up the old man and he watches the celebration.
As the old man watches, a close friend or family member will acknowledge the good things as well as the challenges each person in attendance has experienced during the year and offer blessings and encouragement for their journey through the next year. For example, a family member may look at me and say. “ Judy, I know that you’ve accomplished so much this year and had many struggles, so in the new year I wish you abundance, peace and ease.”
At midnight, we write down the things we want to let go off or release before entering the new year and we burn the paper along with the old man made of newspaper.
The paper burns in the fire symbolizing letting go of the past and the creation of new energy so that we can welcome the new year refreshed and with a clean slate.
This celebration is one of my favorite parts of the year. It’s a celebration that we do every year in my country. I love it so much that I try to recreate it even when I’m not spending New Year’s Eve in Ecuador!
This is the way I end the year. These rituals and spiritual practices have helped me to end each year filled with gratitude, grounded in spirituality, and ready to start the new year feeling inspired and hopeful.
I hope they do the same for you!
Before I sign off, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here. Vitality Natural Health Care wouldn’t be what it is without you.
Thank you for reading my blogs week after week, engaging with us on social media, and allowing me and my team to provide you with quality health care in our Tempe, Arizona clinic.
I wish you and yours a peaceful, safe, and joyous holiday.
General Wellness | 0 Comments
I believe spirituality is an essential component of wellness, so I decided to write a four-part series on the topic. So far we’ve defined spirituality and discussed the importance of creating a spiritual practice. In this post, I’m going to take things a little further and discuss chakras – what they are and how they can help you to heal.
Chakra is a
This spinning energy is housed at seven distinct centers and is responsible for carrying energy throughout the body, regulating all its processes, – like organ and immune function. They also play an important role in emotional regulation.
There are seven chakras, each with its own vibrational frequency, color, and location.
They also have an associated phrase that can be used to create awareness and healing through self-reflective journaling.
To help you understand the chakra’s and amplify your own spiritual practice, here is some in-depth information on each energy center:
The root chakra is located at the base of the spine, near your tailbone, and is associated with the color red. It represents your foundation and when all is well with this chakra, you will feel secure, grounded in reality, and calm. In contrast, when this chakra is blocked or out of balance due to a threat to your basic survival needs, you will feel uncertain or anxious. You may also experience lower back pain and low energy levels.
To begin healing this chakra, I recommend journaling using the phrase “I am…”
Set aside some time to reflect on who you are. Are you smart, capable, generous, a mother, a father…write it all down and notice how each word feels as it makes it way into your journal.
The sacral chakra is orange and is located approximately two inches below your belly button. It is the center of your creative energy as well as your sexuality. When your sacral chakra is out of balance you may feel bored or uninspired, experience low sex drive, or resistance to change.
To begin finding balance in your sacral chakra make time to journal and reflect on the phrase “I feel…”
Give yourself time and permission to feel this area of your body and to tap into your creativity and passion. Write down sensations and emotions as they arise. Or even consider tapping into your creativity and painting, coloring or drawing what comes to you as you feel into your sacral chakra.
The solar plexus chakra is often referred to as the “personal power” chakra as it is the center for self-esteem, autonomy, and determination. It is located in the stomach area in your upper abdomen and is associated with the color yellow.
When this chakra is balanced you will feel confident in your abilities and sure of your life path. An imbalance in this area can manifest as digestive issues or disease in internal organs, like the pancreas, liver, and kidneys.
To increase awareness of this chakra and begin healing, reflect on the phrase “I do…”
Think about all the things you do in life and write it down. If you want to take this a step further, reflect on how all of the things you do make you feel.
As you might expect, the heart chakra is located in the center of the chest, just above your heart. It is associated with the color green and governs our capacity to love and be loved. Balance in this area affords us with the ability to be empathetic and compassionate while an imbalance can lead to unhealthy boundaries, a lack of trust in ourselves and others, relationship trouble, heart palpitations,
Reflect on the phrase “I love…” to maintain balance in this chakra.
Write down the people, places, and things that you love as well as how they make you feel.
The throat chakra regulates self-expression and communication. It is associated with the color blue, and as the name suggests it is located in the center of your neck at the level of your throat. Balance in this chakra manifests as clear and honest communication that inspires those around you. An imbalance here is associated with throat pain or infections, and difficulty communicating.
Use the phrase “I speak…” to promote healing of this chakra.
Reflect on the words that you use and the ways that you communicate with others. Are your communications honest and truthful or callous and deceitful? Or do you have a hard time speaking your mind?
Your third eye chakra influences your intuition and ability see the big picture. It is indigo and is located on your forehead, between your eyebrows. An imbalance in your third eye chakra could manifest as trouble sleeping, lack of clarity, or inability to see the big picture.
Reflecting on the phrase “I see…” can help to clear blocks here.
Write down and reflect on the way that you see yourself, the ways in which you see others, what you see around you, and in your future.
Your crown chakra is located at the top of your head and is associated with the color purple or violet. It represents your ability to connect to spirituality or higher consciousness. On a physical level, it is often associated with the brain and nervous system.
A crown chakra imbalance can manifest as depression, spiritual uncertainty, lack of joy or excitement, chronic headaches and disconnection from the body.
To maintain balance in this chakra, reflect on the phrase “I understand…”
What do you understand about yourself, the world around you and your spirituality? Reflect on ways you can enhance your connection to your inner world and the spiritual realm.
It’s important to understand each of your chakras and their significance because signs and symptoms of physical illness can be an indication of a chakra imbalance.
When you are well and healthy, your chakras are open and rotating at the speed needed to provide your body with the energy and support it needs to maintain balance physically, mentally, and emotionally. In contrast, if your chakras are too open, closed, or spinning too quickly, your health and well-being will suffer.
I have a vested interest in the physical health of my patients, but I am also interested in their spiritual and energetic well-being.
As part of their treatment, I explain what’s happening in their physical body and make recommendations to help them heal this part of themselves using food, movement, and other lifestyle and medical interventions, but I also help them to understand what’s happening to them on a spiritual and energetic level using information I’ve garnered from years of study and training with spiritual leaders, including those like Carolyn Myss, the author of “Anatomy of the Spirit.”
To help you better understand your chakras and improve your spiritual health, I’ve partnered with one of my favorite companies, Wholistic. Check out their tools and resources to help you optimize your spiritual practice.
And for the month of December 2018, get Wholistic’s Chakra Oils at 20% off!
Stay tuned for the next and final blog post in this series on spirituality where I’ll be sharing how your spiritual practice can help you move into the year ahead with ease and in good health.
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