Swiss Chard

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Walnuts & Flax

Ingredients

2 Bunches organic swiss chard, stems trimmed, and leaves cut into 2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons avocado or organic coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons of coconut vinegar or fresh organic lemon juice
1 clove organic garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon organic, whole golden flax seeds
4 tablespoons of organic walnut pieces

 

Directions

In a large skillet, over medium-low heat, add oil, garlic and swiss chard. Sauté for 3 minutes. Next, add salt, pepper, vinegar or lemon juice and cover. Sauté for additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium size bowl. Add all flax seeds and walnuts and stir to incorporate all ingredients. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.


Spring

Seasonal Cleansing for Good Health

Cleansing and detoxing is critical for good health. In a perfect world, your body would be able to detoxify naturally, without any help. It has programmed ways of getting rid of chemicals and toxins, but unfortunately, those channels don't always work properly for various reasons. Those with compromised immune systems, chronic stress, autoimmune conditions and impaired detoxification pathways have a more difficult time detoxing. With a change of diet and lifestyle, you can reduce the body burden, clearing a path for toxins to be safely eliminated from the body. Toxins can come from the foods we eat, pans we cook on, skin care and makeup products we use and the water we drink. For this reason, I find seasonal cleansing to be particularly beneficial. This type of “tune up” allows for the body to clean itself up, much like emptying a garbage can.

The body gets rid of substances that present no benefit. Many of those substances can actually be harmful. The end goal is the same- to reduce inflammation and allow a clear pathway for detoxification.

Here are a few reasons to consider a cleanse or detox this season:

1.       Cleansing can eliminate many different toxins from your system. A cleanse can be done a few times a year to allow your body to function and feel better. During a cleanse, refined sugars, processed foods, commercially raised meats, and most grains are eliminated. Certain foods, such as lots of organic vegetables and plant based proteins are strongly encouraged. The purpose for this is to basically reduce inflammation and lighten the toxic load on the body, so fewer toxins have to be processed. While it is not necessarily meant for weight loss, most individuals do end up losing some weight when cleansing.

2.       Detoxing may include the use of an infrared saunas. Saunas heat your body to temperatures above the norm and induce sweating. The body has developed several mechanisms for purging toxins, though not all are as effective as needed. Sweating can be wonderful for the detox process. Use an infrared sauna to draw out toxins found deeper under the outer layer of skin. Start off slow, about 5 minutes, and adjust the time accordingly with more use. Showering immediately after is very important as it cleans the skin’s surface and prevents the toxins that were just released from being reabsorbed back into the skin.

3.       Specific supplementation can be an integral part of a healthy cleanse or detox protocol. Detox plans combine strategic food combining along with certain supplements. These supplements will build a nutritional profile that can increase antioxidants such as glutathione, your body’s most important antioxidant that contributes to detoxification.

4.       You may or may not feel better right away. Toxins are a diverse group of substances that interact with each individual differently. Some substances are not as easy to get rid of, and instead, are stored in your fat tissue. A detox plan, combined with weight loss, might include the risk of these toxins being released into the body again while other treatments draw those toxins out. The re-release of these toxins can actually increase symptoms of toxic overload as your body then tries to eliminate them again.  Sometimes you can feel worse before feeling better. Other times you can feel great right from the start. Each person is unique, so a cleanse tailored to your individual needs is best.


Healthy Fats

Why Fat is Good For You

Sugars and fats have been under scrutiny for what seems like forever. For the last 40 years, the idea that fats had a bigger impact on health compared to sugar was the consensus, until recently. We now know that fat is very healthy, and is actually necessary for optimal health.

Now that fats have gained much earned popularity, there should be more of a discussion about what is a good fat versus what is a bad fat. This is truly important because our bodies need fat, but not all fats are equal. Certain classes of fats can be unhealthy. Trans fats can contribute to a buildup of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the bloodstream, the kind that can contribute to heart disease. Also, fats like canola, corn and soybean oil have been shown to contribute to inflammation so you want to avoid these at all costs. Certain healthy saturated fats play a role in keeping healthy levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decreasing the risk of heart disease.

These beneficial fats include:

Avocado Oil / Avocados
Walnuts
Almonds
Macadamia nuts
Coconut Oil
Olive Oil
Pasture raised beef and poultry
Organic, pasture raised eggs
Wild caught salmon, sardines, and herring
Chia seeds
Hemp seeds
Pumpkin seeds
Flax seeds / Flaxseed Oil

All of these foods have a healthier fat content, naturally. Good quality nuts, seeds, and animal proteins should come from healthy sources using sustainable and organic methods. It is also important to eat organic whenever possible because these foods have higher nutrient profiles and grow without the use of harmful pesticides, antibiotics, GMOs or steroids.

Olive and avocado oil, both omega-9 fatty acids, are common cooking and dressing oils that are among the healthier fats. Their monounsaturated fat content has been shown to help with reducing inflammation and supporting heart health. These oils are great for sautéing at medium heat and for creating dressings for salads and vegetables. Avoid frying at high temperatures with these because it can destroy all the beneficial nutrients they have. Always look for extra virgin and organic.

Flaxseed oil, derived form flax seeds, is a wonderful source of plant based, omega-3 fatty acids. It boasts a plethora of benefits contributing to healthy skin and hair, and aiding in the reduction of inflammation. Flaxseed oil is rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the only omega-3 that is found in plants. Other plant sources of ALA include hemp seeds, flax and walnuts. Always choose organic and cold pressed. This oil should only be used cold, never heated.

Like olive and avocado oil, coconut oil is high in compounds that can lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. It is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCT) and high in beneficial nutrients and antioxidants. It’s one of the best for high temperature cooking because it tolerates heat well and the nutrients don't oxidize as easily, making it very stable. Coconut oil, taken in its raw form by the teaspoon, can be a quick source of energy for your body. It contains anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties, as well as anti-viral. Coconut oil can be used as a great skin and hair moisturizer, too. When purchasing coconut oil, look for organic and extra virgin.

Humanely raised meats come from animals that are raised and fed properly, on pastures, without the use of steroids or antibiotics. This creates a much healthier animal. Animals that are raised in stressful environments have altered metabolisms because of the stress hormones that their bodies consistently produce. This changes the nutrient profile of the meat, including the fat. Sustainable farming practices where animals are allowed to roam freely creates a more natural environment for the animal to grow and develop before harvesting.

Consuming good fats and vegetables as a large part of your diet is vital for good health. In addition to the benefits mentioned, fats play a very important role in hormone production and metabolism. So it turns out that eating fat doesn't make you fat after all. All the more reason to add these delicious and healthy options to your daily diet and lifestyle.


Vegetables

Why You Should Always Eat Your Veggies

Cruciferous vegetables have some amazing qualities that can contribute to your ultimate health. Cruciferous is the word used to describe vegetables that are related to the cabbage family.
They are loaded with soluble fiber, vitamin C, several minerals and phytochemicals. In addition to vitamins K, A and C, they also contain higher amounts of folic acid, when compared to many other classes of vegetables.

The cabbage family includes:
Broccoli
Cauliflower
Bok choy
Kohlrabi
Arugula
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Collard Greens
Kale
Choy sum
Turnip root
Rutabaga
Mizuna
Chinese cabbage
Napa cabbage
Komatsuna

Cruciferous vegetables are nutrient dense foods, but some are higher in certain minerals and vitamins than others. But all cruciferous vegetables share similar health benefits. As with many leafy green veggies, cruciferous vegetables have alkalizing effects on the body. These veggies make it difficult for inflammation to thrive in the body, thus, reducing the risk and symptoms associated with chronic diseases and certain types of cancer.

There are many different ways that toxins can enter the body and be stored. Because of this, the body had to evolve to develop ways to rid it of these dangerous chemicals. Cruciferous veggies play a supportive role in that they have nutrients that act as regulators of detoxification. This allows the body to get rid of toxins in a balanced manner, not overcommitting limited resources while ignoring the dangers of another toxin.

For both women and men, cruciferous veggies promote hormonal balance, especially for estrogen. The key is because of the chemical compound called indole-3-carbinol. This compound is able to alter estrogen metabolism, aiding in the balance of estrogens while hindering abnormal cell growths that lead to cancer.

The detoxification process is so very important because of our consumption of certain processed foods and also our exposure to the plastic bottles that we drink from. Plastics, especially softer plastics, have been shown to contain chemicals that mimic the body’s natural hormone process, which can lead to a dangerous overload of estrogens in the body. These overloads, without proper detoxification, have been a major concern and risk factor for both breast and prostate cancers.

Even though consuming these “super veggies” is wonderful, some research does show that overloading on cruciferous vegetables can actually hinder thyroid function for some individuals. So, of course, as with everything, balance is key and too much of one thing can be, well, too much. Including a variety of colorful vegetables in your daily diet is your best bet for better health.


Magnesium rich foods

Magnesium - Why It's So Important

Magnesium is one of the most important minerals that is used by the human body for many functions. Although it seems like a simple nutrient to obtain through food, many individuals are actually deficient. The benefits of a balanced level of magnesium are many but, unfortunately low levels of magnesium can contribute to a plethora of symptoms that can be linked to several health issues.

Even more concerning is the deficit of magnesium in people who have elevated stress levels. High stress, can activate the fight-or-flight thus depleting B vitamins and important minerals, such as magnesium. This in turn can also alter digestive and immune function, further preventing the absorption of magnesium.

Magnesium is responsible for supporting bowel regularity, aiding in the absorption of calcium, supporting the heart muscle and helping to regulate blood sugar levels. Without magnesium these functions would be severely impaired.

A few signs you may be deficient in magnesium:

  • Muscle cramps / tight muscles
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Heart rhythm abnormalities
  • PMS (premenstrual syndrome)
  • Elevated stress levels
  • Blood sugar fluctuations
  • Constipation
  • Mood swings/ Depression

The need for magnesium can increase due to extended periods of high stress, malabsorption and autoimmune disorders. Magnesium is also an essential component in many of the brain’s functions.

Magnesium rich foods include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Almonds and almond butter
  • Seaweed
  • Leafy greens
  • Chocolate (cocoa powder, unsweetened)
  • Flax seeds

In addition,  magnesium deficiency can be treated through supplementation. The body can benefit greatly from this as you can take calculated amounts without having to estimate how much you might be getting from food in order to meet your daily intake.

The benefits of a balanced diet is important. However, measuring the amounts of nutrients you're getting through your diet can be validated through further testing. Consider getting your magnesium levels checked by your healthcare practitioner. Once that has been determined, the type of magnesium that is needed can be chosen, dependent on your specific needs. Exploring this with your medical practitioner may, in fact, make a tremendous difference in your health.


Woman drinking water

Drink Water - Why It's Great for Your Body

Sean E. Heerey ND, MA, CCC/SLP

Our bodies need water! When you are really thirsty the beverage that tastes the best is water. Dehydration is a common condition that is easily overlooked as something that is contributing to disease and a lack of overall wellness.

Research has shown that proper hydration leads to increased athletic performance and overall improvements in mood. Water can be a great tool to help combat food cravings and weight gain. Frequently, we think we are hungry, when in fact we are actually thirsty. Try drinking a pint of water the next time you are hungry. Staying hydrated can suppress appetite and assist with weight loss.

Another study found that the majority of people who increased their consumption of water by 1 percent per day reduced their total daily caloric intake as well as their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol. Furthermore, those who increased their consumption of water by one, two or three cups daily decreased their total energy intake by 68 to 205 calories daily and their sodium intake by 78 to 235 milligrams. Additionally, they also consumed 5 grams to almost 18 grams less sugar daily.

If you think drinking diet-beverages is helpful, then please think again. The same researcher in a different study found that consumers of diet beverages may compensate for the absence of calories in their drinks by snacking on extra food that is laden with sugar, sodium, fat and cholesterol.
If you don’t like the taste of water then try this:

  • Squeeze fresh lime, lemon or orange juice. In addition to the fresh flavor there is a great citrus aroma.
  • Drink non-caffeinated herbal teas, hot or iced. There are many herbal tea blends on the market. Go for a blend that has teas and herbs as its main ingredients. Cold infusions are delicious too. A few tablespoons of hibiscus leaves (flor de Jamaica) in a large mason jar makes a tea that is deep red in color and tastes very refreshing.
  • Infuse your water with fruits, vegetables and herbs, e.g., mint and cucumber, thyme and lemon, basil and orange. Infuse water at room temperature for 2 hours. Refrigerate after that to prevent bacterial growth.

Remember, when you are severely dehydrated, make sure to add electrolytes to your water as water alone will not adequately rehydrate you. A pinch of salt or baking soda to water can help raise your electrolyte levels to healthy levels.


Sick Woman with a Cold

The Flu & Vitamin D

Sean E. Heerey ND, MA, CCC/SLP

There is a chill in the air. It gets darker earlier. We no longer need to run our air conditioners. Summer is gone and fall is upon us. That also means flu season is upon us. Radio and TV remind us of this constantly. If you walk by a pharmacy they broadcast “get your flu shot here”. Does the flu shot work all the time? What about for small children?

The Cochrane Collaboration, an independent network of researchers that does not accept commercial or conflicted funding, reported in 2012 that there is little evidence that the flu vaccine is effective in children less than 2 years old. Based on data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) the overall effectiveness of the 2015 -2016 seasonal influenza vaccine was 47%.

For those who choose natural methods to prevent and treat the flu there are options:

1. Vitamin D3- Flu epidemics tend to occur in the winter. Vitamin D levels in the population are much lower in the winter as well. Given that flu virus is seasonal, it is possible that vitamin D may be a factor that can affect the chances of getting the flu. According to the Vitamin D Council, if you get the flu you can safely take 50,000 IU/day for 5 days to fight off the infection. For those more interested in prevention a mid-range dose of 5000 – 8000 IU/day is a good starting point to maintain proper immune function. For children consider 35 IU per lb. of body weight as starting dose. If you are unsure of your Vitamin D levels, then have your health care provider test it. Make sure to take vitamin D with food.

2.  Sleep- Our bodies heals and repairs during sleep. Chronic sleep deprivation can raise stress hormones. This lead to a decrease in immune function.

3.  Exercise- 20 minutes, three times a week. A routine that increases circulation and generates a sweat is desirable. Exercise increases oxygen flow to our muscles and improves the function of your immune system.

4.  Probiotics- These beneficial organisms provide vital support to your immune system. These beneficial bacteria have a powerful effect on the immune system in your gut and your systemic immune system as well. Probiotics also protect against over-growth of other microorganisms that cause disease.

These simple strategies can help keep you and your family healthy during the cold and flu season and ward off other common infections.


Ingredients with Zinc

Zinc for Taste

Sean E. Heerey ND, MA, CCC/SLP

Why does food taste funny?
Many parents report that their children won’t try new foods. Or maybe the complaint is that the food has no taste. Children tend to eat the same restricted set of foods regularly, which may lead to other issues such as nutrient deficiencies.

This problem can persist into adulthood. Could it be a zinc deficiency? In patients with impaired taste function, supplementing with zinc improved taste sensation.

Zinc is a critical part of a salivary protein called gustin. Studies show that treatment with zinc leads to increased gustin levels and improvements in taste.

Many medications cause zinc levels to be depleted, such as blood pressure medications, anti-virals, cholesterol-lowering medications, corticosteroids, birth control pills and H2 blockers (Axid®, Pepcid®, Zantac®). In addition to improvements in taste, zinc plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the body's immune system.

Studies and clinical observations have shown that zinc lozenges shorten the duration of cold symptoms in adults. Zinc is required for a numerous activities related to cell reproduction and wound healing. It is involved in the body's ability to metabolize carbohydrates for energy consumption and needed for optimal thyroid hormone production.

Long-term supplementation with zinc can lead to copper or folic acid deficiency, so it is recommended to supplement with these other nutrients as well.
Supplementation of zinc and essential fatty acids at the same time may be more effective than taking these 2 nutrients by themselves. Small children may take 10 mg a day with food. Older children can start with 30 mg a day with food. Intranasal use of zinc, i.e., placing it directly on your nasal passages, is not recommended as it can cause long-lasting or permanent loss of smell.

Consult with your health care provider for optimal dosing. Foods that are rich in zinc include: beef, lamb, sesame seeds, pumpkins seeds, cashews, spinach, lentils and garbanzo beans.


Local farmer's market vegetables

Eat with the Seasons, Eat Local

Seasons are changing, and that means a change in the pattern of what you eat. Traditionally speaking, when the weather starts to change, our bodies respond to the changes. We share something in common with the rest of life on the earth with these seasonal changes.

With this comes a change in the kinds of food we eat and nutrients we get. Everything from vegetables to meats we eat, to the strength of the sunlight that breaks down cholesterol into Vitamin D, changes with the seasons. Because of this, it is important to focus on eating healthy foods that are in-season and grown locally.

In-season foods are vegetables that grow to their peak nutritional value during that specific season. A current example of an in-season vegetable would be squash. An out of season vegetable would be artichokes, as their season is in the spring.

There are a few reasons as to why picking in-season and local is better for you:

1.  In-season foods can be locally sourced. Good in-season foods can be grown locally. They are planted in consideration of their best growing environment. Perhaps the plants prefer a cooler climate to grow as a seedling before it takes root, which means that the vegetable has to be planted earlier in the Spring than later. This plant spends plenty of time gathering its needed nutrients from the soil, growing into a healthy, viable food that is ready for harvest at the right seasonal time. It takes less time to reach the store since it is grown locally, and therefore retains more of its freshness and nutritional value.

2.  Eating seasonally and locally is more cost effective and better for the planet. It actually costs less to eat locally grown food. It reduces the time food is in transit, which in turn reduces the carbon footprint since food is not transported for long distances. This also means less people are involved in the transporting and picking of food, so of course this equals less $ out of your pocket.

Let’s not forget that you are supporting small farms by doing this, as well. All of these factors add up, saving you money in the long run. In-season foods generally take less work to bring to market. They use fewer resources and have a more natural and beneficial impact on your health. They provide you with needed nutrients and do not carry the risk that out-of-season foods do that may have been treated with pesticides or preservatives.

3.  Out-of-season foods come from farther away and most are treated with harmful chemicals. Foods that are out of season need to be planted on a different latitude in order to be able to be harvested correctly. For example, watermelon is a fruit that is enjoyed by a lot of Americans during the summer. It is in-season during the summer months. Watermelon is less common in areas farther north because of the general cooling of the Northern Hemisphere.

It is more difficult to grow watermelon because of the cold climate. This means that in order to get watermelons, they have to be grown in the south and shipped north. The longer travel time from farther south means that the watermelon will lose its freshness.

In order to maintain flavor and peak ripeness, the watermelon can be treated with pesticides, preservatives or get harvested much sooner than usual in order to arrive at its peak. These chemical processes are dangerous to the human body and long-term exposure to them can lead to chronic health problems.

If you want to learn which foods are in season, Environmental Working Group (EWG.org) does a great job of outlining produce for seasonal eating and also which carry the least or most amount of pesticides and chemicals.

Eating this way can allow you to try new foods you otherwise may have never had before. All it takes is a little creativity and you can have yourself new and nourishing meals that guide you throughout the seasons.


Small child eating

Getting Your Child to Try New Foods

Sean E. Heerey ND, MA, CCC/SLP

Many parents have told me that their child only eats yogurt and mozzarella cheese, French fries and chicken fingers. They will only drink milk and only from a bottle. Its either chocolate milk, strawberry Quik flavored milk or nothing. The smell of broccoli makes them gag and vomit. Some children are scared of new foods. Mealtimes are a battle. Mom or dad make 2-3 different meals to accommodate the picky eaters.

Here are some suggestions that can help your picky eater:

1. Play with your children during mealtimes. Have a special toy that only comes out during meal times and goes away when the meal is over. Simple and inexpensive toys work just fine.

2. Prepare meals with your children. Involve them in making a grocery list. Have them pick out the produce and other ingredients in the market. Let them help you wash the lettuce. Have the children count out the number of apple slices needed for a recipe. In addition to tasting, have your children see, touch, and smell the foods you are preparing for them.

3. Keep exposing them to new foods. If they refuse avocados the first time that is OK. Some children may need to see a food 20 times before they know they like it. (Not 20 times in the same day!)

4. Introduce new foods for set periods of time. Set a timer for 20 minutes. After the time is up put the food away and try again a few hours later or the next day.

5. Consult a Speech-Language Pathologist to see if there are any chewing or swallowing issues.

6. Consult an Occupational therapist to assess for sensory issues.

7. Praise your child’s behavior. Praise them for trying.

If you’re still struggling with your picky eater after trying these steps, please consult a feeding specialist who can help you find new, creative ways to bring new foods into your child’s diet. Some insurance companies will cover the cost of a feeding/behavior therapist, so it may be worth trying to make dinner time a more pleasant experience for the whole family.