Posts Tagged ‘nutritional healing’

Keeping Yourself Well and Flu-free

April 28, 2009

For the past few days all we’ve been hearing about on the news is the dreaded Swine Flu. Thanks to all of the media hype, people are getting a bit panicky – running around buying facial masks and asking their doctors for prescriptions of tamiflu. Not to downplay the seriousness of the situation, but the best thing you can do to prevent the flu is to do what you should always do to prevent contagious illnesses – wash your hands frequently. Next to that the key to boosting your immune system is to take good care of yourself on a regular basis.

Fortunately, maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be time-intensive or expensive. In fact, when you take care of yourself, addressing key aspects of wellness, everything else just seems to fall in place. Conversely, it’s the chronic neglect of our health that results in health crises. What usually begins as a small problem develops into a costly and time-consuming nightmare of endless doctor’s visits and lab tests.

Many times in this blog I’ve written about the importance of consistency. Nowhere is this more crucial than in maintaining wellness. Read on to see which of the following key aspects of optimal living you address and/or neglect on a regular basis.


Working out regularly reduces stress, controls your weight, enhances your mood, boosts your immune system, and, some research suggests, even improves your ability to process information. Experts recommend incorporating a variety of activities into your fitness program. For me, cross training has become a way of life. The bonus is my aquatic workouts, yoga postures and spinning classes have also enabled me to continue running relatively problem-free. They’re also so much fun that it doesn’t feel as though I’m working out even as I’m being challenged.

Optimal Nutrition

If you eat real, whole foods you don’t need to count calories or carbs. Plus, you get the necessary nutrients and fuel your body requires to function at its best. Convenience foods may be handy, but most are lacking in nutrients and leave you feeling dissatisfied after consuming them. Instead, substitute “fake” food for fuel in its most natural state; choose whole grains instead of energy bars, real eggs instead of egg beaters, a baked sweet potato instead of French fries.

Preventative Care

I’m convinced that if we spent more time and money preventing illness and injury, we’d spend a lot less money on general health care. Whether it’s acupuncture, chiropractic, massage or even psychotherapy, addressing your physical and emotional health on a regular basis shouldn’t be a luxury. Most people spend more thought and time taking care of their cars or their pets than their own bodies and minds.


This is one of the most important components of wellness, but often the most neglected. It’s during deep sleep that your body’s cells do much of their regenerating. According to the sleep experts, one bad night’s sleep isn’t harmful, but chronic sleep loss can have negative effects on a host of physiological and cognitive processes. Making an effort to get your proverbial eight hours can have a profoundly positive effect on the rest of your life.

Don’t Wait For a Crisis

Just like you take your car in for regular maintenance to keep from needing major repairs, you need to keep your body finely “tuned”. If you wait to address your health needs until you can longer ignore them because of illness or injury, you’ll spend a lot more time and money than if you consistently take care of yourself. Bottom line: those that ignore their health today will pay for it tomorrow.

Be Well (and Stay Well),


Adult-Diagnosed Celiac Disease: Better Late Than Never

December 16, 2008

Hippocrates said “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. How right he was when it comes to Celiac Disease. I’ve  learned this personally since being diagnosed with Celiac Disease 10 years ago.

Celiac Disease is the only disease where nutrition is both the cause and the “cure”. For 1 in 133, or an estimated 1.5 million Americans, “give us our daily bread” might as well be “give us our daily arsenic”.  Not long ago, Celiac Disease, also known as “Celiac Sprue”  was considered primarily a childhood disease. Today, however, the average age of diagnosis is between 45 and 55 years, with 25% of diagnoses in people 60 years and older. In fact, Celiac Disease is now considered one of the most commonly under-diagnosed genetic disorders despite its relative prevalence.

Typically it takes longer to diagnose adults than children, with the average length of ten years from the initial doctor’s office visit to the date of the actual diagnosis.  This is largely due to the fact that symptoms in adults are more diverse and often more subtle than in children. In my case, I suffered for years with digestive difficulties which, while annoying and uncomfortable, were mostly tolerable. I had no idea my intestinal issues were part of a larger, systemic problem. It was only after my undiagnosed Celiac Disease led to more serious health issues that I sought medical attention. Even then it took more than a year of doctor visits to uncover the underlying source of my problems.

Further complicating the diagnostic process is the fact that as many as 40% of adults with Celiac Disease lack the textbook intestinal symptoms physicians are most familiar with. My sister, for example, was also diagnosed with Celiac Disease as an adult, but her symptoms were quite different than mine.

The physical and psychological health consequences of Celiac Disease in late-diagnosed adult celiacs can include: unexplained anemia, osteoporosis, intestinal lymphomas and other cancers of the digestive system, pancreatic insufficiency, malnutrition, other autoimmune diseases, depression, infertility, and dental problems, including tooth enamel erosion and periodontal disease. Quite a daunting list and another reason why a correct and timely diagnosis is so critical. 

Fortunately, some of these health consequences are reversible when the celiac patient adheres to a strict gluten-free diet.Unfortunately, adhering to a gluten-free diet is generally more challenging for adults than it is for kids. In a future blog I’ll discuss some of those challenges. In the meantime, for more information on nutrition counseling for Celiac Disease and other conditions, please visit my website at

Be Well,


Help Your Body Heal Part II: Foods That Heal

October 28, 2008

Last time we looked at facilitating the overall healing process through exercise, nutrition and sleep.  Now I want to zero in on foods that help you heal. Certain foods can foster “healing” when you’re recovering from injury or surgery, including: nutrient-dense vegetables; foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids; and mineral-rich foods for bone re-growth.

Vegetables: Nature’s Potent Healers

Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients – all of which are powerful healing agents. In fact, vegetables are the most nutrient-dense of all foods. In addition to the ubiquitous broccoli, spinach and carrots, there are many other winning vegetables that can help your body repair itself. Asparagus, for example, contains a unique anti-inflammatory phytochemical. The juice from asparagus is also effective in reducing the acidity of the blood and helps cleanse the tissues and muscles of waste. Peas are another powerhouse of healing help. They are great source of muscle-relaxing magnesium, which is also important for protein synthesis and bone repair. Avocados, loaded with vitamins E and B6, are also high in potassium, which helps balance your body’s electrolytes, aids muscle activity, nerve function and energy metabolism.

Celery, often viewed as a second-class citizen vegetable, in fact it offers important healing nutrients. The potassium and sodium in celery helps to regulate body fluid and stimulate urine production, making it an important help to rid the body of excess fluid. It also helps to normalize body temperature and calm the nervous system. Finally, the polyacetylene in celery provides excellent relief for all forms of inflammation.  While I’ve focused on 3 green veggies, you should consume a variety of different colors – red, orange, yellow, green and purple – as each color offers different phytonutrients.

 Omega-3 Fatty Acids: A Polyunsaturated Powerhouse

Omega-3s are powerful polyunsaturated fatty acids which have a number of wonderful functions.  They can decrease inflammation and blood clotting and can also decrease muscle-protein breakdown. Omega 3s are found in abundance in cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, trout, Alaskan black cod, herring, sardines. Vegetarian forms include flax seeds and flax oil, extra-virgin olive oil, walnuts, hazelnuts and chia seeds. 

Bone-Repairing Foods:

If you’re recovering from a stress-fracture or broken bone, you’ll want to focus on bone-building foods. Dairy products are the richest source, but many fruits and vegetables and some nuts also contain calcium and other important minerals. Broccoli, kale, swiss chard, blackberries, raspberries, black currants, figs and almonds are all good non-dairy calcium sources. Research has shown that certain compounds in fermented (miso, tempeh) soy foods also help build bones. Soy protein contains isoflavones, compounds that scientists believe support bone development and maintenance. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the gastrointestinal tract. Sources include sunlight, fortified milk, salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Vitamin K binds calcium and other minerals to the bone. Sources include kale, spinach, collard, beet and mustard greens, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. Magnesium enhances the deposit of calcium into bones. Good sources include almonds, green leafy vegetables, peas, whole grains, seeds, black and white beans. Boron is a trace mineral involved in calcium metabolism. Sources include apples, pears, cherries, cabbage, legumes and nuts. Silicon is important in the growth and maintenance of bones, ligaments and tendons. Sources include asparagus, cucumbers, lettuce, olives, radishes, rice and oats.

Healing Spices

In addition to healing foods, certain spices can also aid in your recovery. Mostly known for its use in curry powder, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. In fact studies have compared it favorably with NSAIDs such as Advil. Curry powder only contains about 20% turmeric – so it’s best to by the whole, ground spice.  It’s delicious sprinkled in soups, on salads or cooked vegetables. Ginger is another effective anti-inflammatory and it helps alleviate nausea as well. 

A Honey of a Healer

Honey is a wonderful natural, topical healing agent for minor scrapes and burns. It forms a protective, anti-bacterial barrier over the wound, while encouraging skin to regrow. It also reduces swelling and helps minimize scarring. Try honey if you scrape or scald yourself and this is one case in which you might want to literally lick your wounds!

Finally, here are some general guidelines for eating to heal:

1. Aim for variety

2. Include as much fresh food as possible.

3. Minimize your consumption of processed foods and fast food.

4. Eat an abundance of fruits and ESPECIALLY vegetables. 

5. Eat plenty of protein to facilitate tissue repair.

6. Avoid excessive consumption of salt, refined sugar, alcohol, coffee and cola which can hamper the absorption and increase the excretion of certain nutrients.

As a nutritionist, I recommend that you consume as many healing nutrients as possible from natural food sources, supplementing only when you need a therapeutic dosage. As I’ve said, certain foods mentioned above can act as powerful assistance when your body is “in the shop” for repairs. Hippocrates said it best: “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Thy Medicine Be Thy Food” (Hippocrates 460-377 BC).

Be well,