The Benefits of Raw Milk

People think I am bonkers for my obsession with raw milk and raw dairy products, and there is a lot of fear about drinking raw milk, and I think that is due to people not really understanding what it is and all of the benefits.  I will not lie and say that there are no risks, because there are, and some people with immunocompromised systems (due to illness, chronic disease, and/or medications) that should probably not drink raw milk, and those who are pregnant should always err on the safe side and only ingest pasteurized food.

What is Raw Milk?

Raw milk is milk that is not pasteurized. The pasteurization process that involves heating the milk to a temperature, for a length of time and then immediately cooling it; this diminished the amount of pathogens (viruses and bacteria) present, and makes it safer to consume, although there still are some present, and an expiration date.  Raw milk from cows that are fed a clean antibiotic and hormone free diet, is a completely balanced diet in itself, with proteins, probiotics, and other vitamins and minerals.  There are some true raw milk fanatics that solely live off of raw milk.  I am not that person, but it can be done!

Raw MilkWhat are the Benefits?

As I referenced before, Raw Milk has a lot of protein in it, in the form of amino acids (the building blocks of protein for our bodies.) There are 8 amino acids present in raw milk, some of which aid the body in absorbing and binding iron, others have anti-viral properties, and anti-microbial properties (some specifically to kill off bacteria that can cause cavities!) And, while it does have carbohydrates in the form of lactose present, many who are “lactose intolerant” are able to tolerate Raw Milk because it has the bacteria lactobacilli bacteria, which breaks down the lactose, so your body doesn’t have to!  It also has saturated fat in it, which I know is not usually thought of as good for you, but it helps to trigger the satiety response; you feel full faster and tend to eat less. It is also full of vitamins and minerals, including lots of calcium, to make for a healthy a vitamin packed snack. Also, because it isn’t pasteurized, it is full of probiotics (active bacteria that are beneficial to your health.) All the vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, probiotics, and cholesterol, this is a full day of good stuff in a glass!

What are the Risks?

Because Raw Milk is not pasteurized, there is a risk that some harmful bacteria like Salmonella, Listeria, or E. Coli can be present in the milk.  If they are present, then you are at risk for those infections, which can cause stomach cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and can require hospitalization for severe dehydration treatment.  This is why people who are immunocompromised from age, chronic disease, or medications AND pregnant women and young children should steer away from Raw Milk.  Really this is the biggest risk.  There have been numerous people who have gotten sick from Raw Milk in the past, and the risk is highest when the cows are not grass-fed and if they were fed foods with hormones and antibiotics. If they are not grass-fed, and free ranged, there is a risk that the cows can be infected from the food and exposure to the bacteria in feces.

Raw Milk production is very highly regulated, and it is illegal in some states, and very strict rules in others, so my personal opinion is that the risks from Raw Milk are very low, and I have been strictly drinking Raw Milk for 4 years, with no issues. It tastes fresh, delicious, and it adds a nutritional benefit to my morning smoothies, tea, etc. I am not the kind of person who used to sit down with a glass of milk normally, but I started once I began drinking Raw Milk. The pasteurization process with traditional milk found in stores, kills off  not only almost all of the probiotics, but a lot of the vitamins and minerals are lost, along with some of the amino acids. If you are interested in giving it a try, you can check out the regulations by state.  You will feel better, absorb more calcium, and look better too; the less processed foods you add to your diet the better!!

Yours in Good Health


A Teeth Whitening Diet??

We all know that there are foods we eat than can stain our teeth, like drinking coffee, red wine, tea,  and eating blackberries, beets, or blueberries.  But there are some foods that stain your teeth that may shock you AND some that you can eat that will help to promote teeth whitening.  So, no need to go to the dentist every couple of years and pay $500 for teeth whitening.  Eat your way to white teeth!

What foods can cause staining?

Other than the ones I just referred to above, there are some real shockers.  You think that you are safe from staining your teeth by drinking white wine?  Apparently the tannins and acids that are present in white wine, actually scratch your teeth and promote staining by other foods. Sodas (dark) tend to stain teeth due to the color of the beverage, but also light sodas can stain the teeth due to the acidity of the beverage, as well as sports drinks (think: Gatorade).  Isn’t that a total bummer?  You think that drinking light-colored things wouldn’t necessarily be awesome for your teeth (most of those items do have high sugar content) but you wouldn’t think that they would either stain your teeth or pave the way for staining! Apparently whatever would stain a white cotton T-shirt, would also stain your teeth.

bunny food or happy teeth food?

bunny food or happy teeth food?

What foods can I eat to make my teeth pearly white?

Apples! Apples, while yes they do have some acidity to them, are also really crunchy and full of fiber which can help scrub the teeth.  Actually most hard and crunchy fruits and vegetables will also help to scrub teeth clean and make them glisten: raw cauliflower, celery, green beans, carrots, pears, and jicama (to name a few) are not only low in calories, and high in fiber and yumminess, they also clean your teeth!  So next time you see  veggies out as finger food, grab them and start chomping for some last-minute whitening!

Some cheeses and other dairy products (think milk and yogurt) contain enzymes that help to strengthen teeth and prevent decay, so it helps to keep your enamel looking nice and white!

Strawberries can help to polish teeth and make them appear whiter and shinier, due to an enzyme called malic acid that is present in them.

Water helps to wash away anything that may be caught on your teeth that could cause staining if left there. And if you have no water and no toothbrush, what are you to do?  Chew on sugar-free gum! While dentists don’t normally love it, it also helps to clan your teeth by grabbing some of the stain causing items off of your teeth, plus it helps to promote  more saliva in your mouth.  Saliva can help to neutralize acids, thus prevent tooth decay and staining.

Is there anything else I can do?

Brush your teeth three times a day!  I am totally the nerd at work with a toothbrush and floss in a little pack that I keep in my desk to brush my teeth after lunch, and I’m really OK with it because I don’t have little brown nubs in my mouth (that was a little too far!) But avoid smoking, tobacco stains are some of the worst to get out of your teeth and it’s just really a bad habit anyway (think about ways to quit). And finally, when you are drinking tea or coffee or anything that might stain those beautiful chompers, drink through a straw, so at least you don’t stain your smilers (they are what everyone sees first!)

So brush those teeth, eat raw crunchy fruits and veg, and when you do need your caffeine fix?  Use a straw (just make sure that your beverage is a good drinking temperature or risk burning your mouth!) and keep those teeth happy and white!

Yours in Good Health


How to add calcium to your diet!

I know a lot of people that are lactose intolerant, or just tend to really dislike dairy, and want to add more calcium to their diet. Calcium adheres to the bones and helps to prevent osteoporosis. It can be a bit tricky to know how much you might need to eat of various foods to get the amount of calcium that you need each day. Calcium is also a bit of a tricky supplement to take because you need vitamin D to absorb the calcium, without vitamin D, you only actually absorb about 10-15% of the calcium you ingest.  Vitamin D can be taken in supplement form but the best way to get Vitamin D?  Spend 30 minutes in the sun, outside of the most intense sunlight times (10am-2pm) with only light sunscreen on (and it’s best absorbed without any on).

How much calcium do I need?

From the ages of 10 to 20 your body absorbs the most calcium to the bones, and slows significantly after the ages of 30. It is suggested that the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)  for the ages of 9 to 18 is 1300mg, ages 18 to 50 is 1000mg, and ages 51+ is 1200mg per day. If you think that an 8oz serving of yogurt has around 400mg of calcium, and an 8oz glass of milk has around 350mg, cheese has about 300mg per 1.5oz serving, eating three servings of dairy, really help you to hit that RDA for calcium.  If you can’t tolerate dairy, or just don’t like it, fear not, there are other ways to get in enough calcium, you just need to pay attention to your diet.

milk, muesli, beans, tahini..sources of calcium!

milk, muesli, beans, tahini..sources of calcium!

How do I get my calcium on?

The good news is that we live in a world full of fortified foods, and soy, almond, and coconut milks all have around 300mg of calcium in an 8oz serving, as does Orange Juice fortified with calcium.  One serving of beans (1/2 cup) gives you around 100mg, 1/4cup of almonds (in any form) adds 80mg, and green leafy vegetables are chock full of calcium (1 cup of uncooked kale/spinach/etc has about 200mg).  And, if you are really into sardines, you are really in for a surprise, 8 medium-sized canned sardines has 370mg of calcium! And for all of you tofu lovers, 1/2 cup of tofu has 270mg of calcium.  Your after dinner treat of frozen yogurt? 100mg of calcium.  So pay attention to the foods you eat, most likely you are getting a good amount of calcium, and remember that most cereals and breads are fortified with calcium, so read the labels.

What else can I do?

Remember that your body can only really absorb a maximum of 500mg of calcium at a time, so if you are taking supplements, be aware of that!  Remember to get your sun for the Vitamin D to aid in absorption of calcium into your bones. Also doing low weight-bearing exercises, lifting low amounts of weights, ankle weights, helps to strengthen your muscles around your bones and keep the calcium in your bones instead of stripping off.  Too much calcium can cause some bad things, so make sure just to get the approximately the amount that you need! So get that calcium in and strengthen those bones!!

Yours in Good Health


A Happy and Healthy New Year!

I hear a LOT of chatter about “my diet starts tomorrow!”, “I think I’m going to go gluten-free to lose some weight”, and my favorite “Just signed up for a new gym, so I know I’m going to go every day, and 2013 will be my year.” I appreciate all of the gusto, and that people decide to make a change, with a definitive date in mind (i.e. New Years day), and I REALLY want everyone to be successful, so why don’t we make a resolution we can stick to?  Perhaps, being healthier in 2013! There are so many things you can do to be healthier without making ridiculous requests of yourself that you know you won’t be able to keep.

How do I go about being healthier?

Make a commitment to exercise: Try something new, something different, and something you aren’t committing to for a whole year! So don’t spend a ton of money at a gym, maybe get a pack of passes to a yoga and/or Pilates studio? Pole dancing? Spinning? Boot camp? Pick your poison; try something new, and stick to a two to three month commitment.  There’s no need to be married to it, if you like it, stick with it, if you don’t, you are not out a ton of money and you will find something new, but you are trying something new exercising, and you’re excited about it, which means you’re more apt to do it.  Paying a ton of money and signing a years contract to a gym does not mean you will actually be going there to run on that hamster wheel…right?

Take the time for nutrition: Make a food journal, if you feel that you need to step up your diet and eat healthier, and figure out where your calories are coming from.  Don’t cheat yourself, but write down everything (including beverages) that you ingest during the day, and try to find ways to make it healthier, or cut calories.  Do you snack on candy at work? Bring trail mix (full of fiber, some sweetness from dried fruits, and protein from nuts) which will keep you satiated longer than candy and you will feel better, or just bring some protein in the form of nuts, yogurt, jerky, etc. if you bring your own snacks that you enjoy and are healthy, it will cut down on the amount of mindless snacking, that can add up in calories! Plus making your own food, you have more control over the ingredients and the amount of fats/sugars added, so your nutrition is literally in your own hands.

Try to decrease refined sugars: It is difficult and definitely a commitment, but I am not a huge fan of people quitting things cold turkey, as it were. Watch the foods you are eating, and read nutrition labels, and try to cut out anything with extra sugars added and cut down on how much you add to your morning coffee (for example), or breakfast cereal.  Try Coconut palm sugar or agave, something that is not a chemical, with a low glycemic index that still makes your sweet tooth feel satiated!

Commit to eat out LESS: Eating out or getting take out foods a lot, not only will cost a lot, but there are hidden fat and calories in take out food, that you wouldn’t add yourself.  If you don’t cook, maybe grab a friend and take a cooking class?  Or just teach yourself, as long as you make a commitment to learn to cook, you can do it…even if not burning toast is a feat for you, give yourself a pat on the back for getting it done! Some food items that seem like you have to buy them because they would be hard to make, are so easy to make and more delicious when you make them yourself, like: hummus and pita chips, salads, soups, etc..  So simple, and you can cut fat, calories, and extra sodium! I made a tomato basil bisque with 1/4 of the fat and calories that you would normally get at a restaurant- so easy, fast, and yumbos!


Easy, yummy, good for you, and cost friendly!

Easy, yummy, good for you, and cost friendly!

Try not to obsess about numbers: I am the opposite of most people and I don’t even own a scale.  I judge my weight based off of how I look and feel in clothes.  I roughly know what I weigh, but I am never certain until I go for a check up and I get weighed! But, if you are someone who weighs themselves a few tips: don’t do it daily (especially for women, hormones can really mess with that number), but weigh yourself at the same time weekly (this will give you a better average), and don’t be so obsessed with ONE number that you want to weigh.  Just be healthy, and exercise, and your weigh will come down to what it should be; if you starve yourself or workout like bonkers to hit a certain number, once you hit it, you will most likely won’t stay there: you set yourself up for failure.

Truly making a commitment to yourself and bettering your health is the first decision that you make, from there on, it is so easy to stick to it: buy healthy foods (buy groceries primarily from the outer aisles of the store), stock up on healthy snacks and keep them around (if you have easy access to healthy foods you are more apt to eat them), and try some new exercises, grab a buddy and go! The only person that can impeded your commitment to a healthier you IS you, so make that decision, go for it fully, and take charge over your own body.  It will feel good to be healthy, and starting off with healthy choices makes you feel good and will lead to a chain reaction of healthy choices.  So here’s to 2013 and a healthier version of you!!!

Yours in Good Health


Another Reason to Know the Source of Your Food.

There have been many cases of food coming from other countries, being contaminated, causing significant health issues, and then we never really hear about it again. I have been asked recently a lot about the contaminated powdered milk and baby formula from a few years ago, if other foods had melamine in them, and what the big deal is?  I think this Melanine issue in foods from China merely highlighted the fact that we need to really take a good look at where our food comes from and the standards that we have in the US, UK, and EU are not shared worldwide.

What was the big controversy?

In 2007 and 2008, a factory in China that was producing formula, tried to undercut the competition, by cutting their milk production costs by using raw milk (non-pasteurized) and then cutting it with water to increase the volume. In order to make the milk products have that have the appropriate amount of protein, they needed to add something. Protein levels are usually checked through the levels of nitrogens present. What they decided to add is Melanine.  Melanine is and organic powdered chemical that is very high in nitrogens, and it is frequently found in adhesives, plastics, countertops, etc. It is NOT a form of food, and it has no nutritional value. Melanine was found in wheat gluten, rice proteins, frozen yogurt, some coffee drinks (with Milk products), and various pet foods that came from China. It is actually detrimental to our health, and this is not an approved additional supplement/practice by any of the organizations worldwide that regulate food.

What are the side effects of Melanine?

Most of all the information that we have regarding the effects of Melanine are from animal studies, as it is nowhere deemed safe for human consumption, so it has never been studied. When the pet food contaminated with Melanine were hitting the shelves in the US, large numbers of animals died, shortly after ingesting the foods. Melanine can cause irritability, blood in the urine, high blood pressure, and renal (kidney) failure.  It is assumed, based upon animals, that the Melanine crystallizes with other byproducts in the body, and can clog up the kidney tubules causing kidney stones and lead to total blockage of urine passing, leading to renal failure.

 What does this mean?

Well, since the issue in 2007 and 2008, the use of Melanine has become much more scrutinized, and foods from China are now being tested for it, so we are pretty certain foods do not have it.  But the whole issue made me really question foods processed outside the US.  I clearly try to live a clean lifestyle, I eat organically and minimally processed (as much as possible), and I like to think it works for me, and I realize it is not possible for everyone. But I really want you all to think about where your food comes from, where it is processed. I loved that when I lived in the UK, the food source was well labelled on the package; I knew exactly where my veg came from, my fruits, etc. if they were grown and packaged outside the UK. Think about buying fruits and veg at local food sources, like local farms, farm stands, farmers markets, or other stores that sell locally sourced organic foods. Join a Community Sustained Agriculture (CSA) group, and support local farmers all while ensuring you are eating fresh, organic, unprocessed foods.  It is a piece of mind for me, knowing that my food does not have anything, like Melanine, added to it that could kill me, my family, or my pets.

Food for thought!

Yours in Good Health



Should I get my pollen on?

I have heard people suggest bee pollen to treat every single ailment! Seriously, you have a rash?  Bee pollen. Asthma?  Bee pollen. Digestive issues? Bee Pollen. Alcoholism? Yup, you guessed it! Bee pollen.  I was overhearing this conversation in public the other day, and I was just thinking, how can one supplement be able to cure everything and not everyone uses it? But, then I started to think maybe I had just overlooked it, which is completely possible; if I read about things, and I don’t somehow leave myself a reminder, it’s gone…or comes back at a random time, and I thought maybe this was one of those black holes of knowledge, so I decided to research it.

What is bee pollen?

Bee pollen is basically bunches of different pollens (considered the male sex cells of plants because it is needed to fertilize) that the worker bees go off to collect from various plants, trees, etc. and when it is brought back to the bee hive, it is mixed with various enzymes and bacteria present in the hive. It is basically packed into clumps in the hive.  The bees in the hive subside off of the bee pollen, as it has all the nutrients and vitamins they need to survive. Bee pollen is about 40% carbohydrate, 5% fat, and 5% protein, and filled with various amino acids, and nutrients (such as zinc, magnesium, etc) but the rest is all bee waste products (i.e. bee poop), fungus, bacteria, and insect parts. Yum! I know that makes you want to run out and grab some!

What can it help?

Bee pollen, as I stated before, purportedly is a fix all for all sorts of various maladies, such as:

– Colitis/ Digestive issues

– Arthritis (improves joint movements)

– Increases energy

– Decreases allergies (seasonal)

– Asthma

– Eczema

– Alcoholism

– Prevents bacterial infections

– Maintains wellness

– Weight loss

Does it actually work?

Despite some people being huge believers in Bee Pollen supplementation in your diet, and some say because of the carb/fat/protein ratio you can actually solely subside off of bee pollen alone, there are NO independent studies that show it actually heals or treats these issues.  Actually, there are numerous cases of people taking bee pollen supplements and having allergic reactions because they have a bee sensitivity OR a sensitivity to one of the plants pollens present in the bee pollen, and even going into anaphylaxis (a severe allergic reaction that leads to loss of airway, ability to exchange air, and can quickly lead to death without immediate treatment.) Also pregnant women and women that are breastfeeding should NOT take bee pollen due to risks of transference of the fungus/bacteria from the pollen to their babies.

If you take bee pollen, and it works for you, I am not going to tell you to do any differently, but I would urge people with many allergies or on medications from chronic conditions to talk to their HCP before starting to take bee pollen.  Also, there are some eco and ethical issues with bee pollen supplements, in that there is a world-wide decline of honey bees due to their sensitivity to various pesticides, and they do subside off of their pollen, so maybe us humans can find something else to use, and let the bee populations boost up before we go back dipping into their pollen pots?

Yours in Good Health


What is the difference between the Paleo and Atkins diets?

I was asked this just today and a lot of people have interest in it because it seems that people have a lot of knowledge regarding one of the diets and not the other and they don’t seem to understand the difference, of which there are some pretty significant differences. Many times the reasons that you choose one diet over another is due to either weight loss OR a choosing a healthier diet for the long-term. Fanatics of both diets claim that they can be chosen as long-term diets (and when I say diet, I am referring to the foods that you eat to live, not to specifically lose weight.) If you feel so inclined to go with either diet, and you have chronic health issues or take any medications chronically, then please speak with your HCP about your lifestyle change.

What is the Atkins diet?

The theory behind the Atkins “nutritional approach” (as Dr. Atkins liked to refer to it) is that most people are overweight because they eat too many carbohydrates (and fat); when the body needs energy, it is able to make energy from carbohydrates quicker to use immediately, thus leaving the fat that can also be used as energy to be stored for later use by the body.  If the amount of carbohydrates were decreased, the fats and proteins would be utilized as the primary source of energy and burn off, thus not being stored, so you won’t gain weight…and essentially lose weight.  There is a little more to it, in that when your body switches to a state of fat burning instead of carbohydrate burning for energy, you go into something called ketosis.  Ketosis is basically when the body goes into starvation mode, because you have no immediate use energy from carbs, and you start to break down fat stores and protein for energy: the ketones from the fat stores turn into energy. When this happens and they break down further, into acetone, and the body gets rid of it through the kidneys (peeing it out) and through your lungs (breathing it out). Your breath can have a very distinctive fruity smell and your pee can smell differently as well.  Now, this is one way to lose weight, but it does put a lot of strain on your body to work differently (on a cellular level) to burn that fat. Also, eating more fat means that you have more circulating fat and cholesterol, which is not very heart healthy. If you have any sort of problems with your kidneys, this is NOT the diet for you. And honestly, I do not think that a diet without any form of carbohydrates and so high in fat is healthy long-term. Remember that old adage: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is?

What is the Paleo Diet?

The Paleo diet is different, in that it is a diet that is based on what Paleolithic humans ate. All in all, a “caveman” diet.  The diet focuses around eating fish, grass-fed animals, fruit, vegetables, fungi, roots, and nuts all the while excluding legumes, grains, dairy, sugars, processed oils, and salts. The idea behind it is that you are eating a clean diet without added processed foods, which I totally get, and I love the idea of it.  However, some zealots of the diet insist upon truly eating the “caveman” way, in that they can only eat local fruits, veg, etc. and if you live in a place like New England, that really limits you diet in the winter months if you can only eat what grows locally, and I fear that people would be missing vital nutrients necessary for their body to optimally function.  As this diet is becoming trendier, it is slightly easier to follow as some restaurants offer paleo friendly menus. But the modern-day equivalents are not the same as what they were, with the addition of GMOs; you are really limited in your diet. Just like any other diet trend, it can cause controversy, and this is a pretty low-calorie/fat diet that people in the paleolithic era most likely did live off of, but we have to remember that they died at an extremely young age, and were killed off by diseases/viruses that we are exposed to now daily, but our robust immune systems kill off.  I agree, that the likelihood of a chunky “caveman” was probably very low, but they lived a hunter/gatherer lifestyle like animals in the wild do.  Regardless of that, my biggest fear with the lack of dairy and legumes (all beans) is that women, especially, do not get enough calcium with this diet. On the other hand, if you like it, you are able to follow it, it works for you, I am not going to tell you not to try to eat healthier.

So, yes both diets are similar in that they cut out carbs in the form of breads, but with the Paleo diet you can eat root vegetables which, many times, are carbohydrates, and in a true Atkins you cannot (should not) eat carbs even in the form of fruits and vegetables.  I think that Atkins sounds like it would be a fun diet, eat tons of fatty foods and lose weight, but I eat so many fruits and vegetables, and when I am off my normal diet for a while, I crave straight up veggies (like I will eat a bowl of brussel sprouts or broccoli for dinner and not miss the protein a smidge!) And I like the theory of Paleo, in that we are taking our diet back to a very simple place, eating real food without anything refined or processed added, a truly clean diet, BUT I think that eating with the strictness of that diet is not sustainable and people will miss vitamins and nutrients that are necessary to live.  We live in a fast paced modern world, where the average Paleolithic era people wouldn’t be able to survive one week with their immune systems and caloric intake (not to mention their poor minds would be blown away with technology, but I digress).

If you want my advice?  Yes, cut down on your carbs (in the form of breads) and be cognizant of how much sugar you are eating, eat organically and GMO-free as much as you can, keep it up with the fish and grass-fed meats (if you so choose), and get in some daily exercise.  The thing about having a healthy diet, is about making healthy life choices, and if you change your lifestyle and way of thinking about food as fuel, you are more likely to be healthier and stick to that diet and lifestyle change.  The thing about diet? It’s all up to you, you make the choices of what you want to eat; eat clean, drink lots of water, and feel your body become happy and healthy.  Kick diet trends to the curb, and just be healthy!

Yours in Good Health


Use Ginger to Improve Your Wellbeing

I am asked at least once a day about how to prevent colds, or what you can take once you feel one coming on to prevent it from becoming a full-fledged cold, leaving you feeling miserable and down for the count for a while. I don’t believe that most of the over-the-counter (OTC) remedies work for cold prevention, and my avid readers know that by now, but there is some research to support the use of ginger to prevent colds, and even help to kick the symptoms you already have!

How does Ginger help?

There are few studies that have specifically looked at ginger and exactly how it works, or really IF it even works at all.  But it has been used for hundreds of years as a staple in Eastern medicine as a treatment for colds, the flu, and any other virus, and it still continues to be because it really works.  In 2002, there was a small study done in a smaller international journal, that found ginger to have antiviral properties.  They were doing their study to specifically look at its use in respiratory tract infections, viral in nature, but many respiratory infections originally start as “head colds” so most likely the antiviral properties work on those viruses as well.  By effectively attacking the viruses and preventing them from causing a further infection, it stops your cold in its tracks, and prevents the infection from spreading or getting worse.

How do I use it?

Usually when you get a cold, your nose, throat, and mouth are all infected by the virus, which is why you get the symptoms you do: sore throat, stuffy nose, and sometimes cough.   So, there are some ways to use the ginger to make sure that you are hitting your “target” areas for its antiviral effects:

Make ginger tea: Take two tablespoons of fresh ginger (roughly an inch off of the root), peel it and squish it, place it in the bottom of a coffee/tea mug, then pour boiling hot water over it. Even better for you? Add some honey to sweeten it, and it also helps with its antibacterial properties! It is suggested that you can drink this 2 to 3 times a day while your symptoms last.

A ginger steam: You can chop fresh ginger and put it in a bowl of boiling hot water, put your head over the steam, with a towel over your head, and inhale the steam. You can do this twice a day. Your nose will run like crazy, but it will help to kick that cold!

Eat it: You can eat ginger in candy form and various eastern meals also include ginger. It is good to eat to stave off a cold or viral infection!

I drink ginger tea frequently and love it, but I know it isn’t for everyone. There is no right or wrong amount to eat, but truly everything in moderation, and if you greatly dislike ginger or are allergic, do not eat it! There are ginger supplements that you can try, and if you truly have an aversion to ginger, maybe you just don’t need it. And, as always, if you have any other medical conditions and take other medications, talk to your HCP before starting a new regimen. Give it a try and let me know what you think. AND don’t forget to drink lots of fluid and rest, as you would any time you are ill. Plus, if your symptoms do not go away, or get worse, definitely consult your HCP for further treatment.

Yours in Good Health


Have a guilt-free Thanksgiving Feast

So everyone who knows me, knows that I am not going to tell you that you need to cut out butter, trans fats, dairy, or anything that makes food taste decadent and delicious.  I suppose, if I was Super Nurse Bridgid, I might, but I’m a very realistic gal, I love food, and I think that there are very few times a year that you totally rock out with eating decadent food, having your family and friends at your side, so live it up! That being said, if you have severe cardiac disease, diabetes, congestive heart failure, or a few other chronic diseases, let’s not go completely bonkers and send yourself into distress requiring an emergency room visit, please? There are a few ways to keep the holiday fun, and keep/maintain you weight loss goals that you have in mind….because no matter how much you think that you will be maintaining your diet, you won’t. I am not just being negative, but friends and relatives will make dishes that you have no idea how much butter (or even straight up lard) was used to make that delicious crust, or how much extra cheese was added to dishes.  Unless you have a very health conscious family or group of friends, most likely your Thanksgiving meals will have some unexpected fat and calories added….but it’s one day a year, right?

How to I stay healthy and fit?

Remember it is just one meal: it may be a really yummy and highly commercialized meal, but it is just one meal, so don’t eat the same amount that you would in a week!  Keep your head about you, and eat normal servings. There is no need to fill your plate until the point that it is over-flowing with food. There will be leftovers, so grab some of them, and have some of that meal the next day too….that would make it better than eating to the point you feel like you will explode, right?

Fill your exercise bank: I hear all the time when people eat some decadent dessert or huge meal, that they will “run 10 miles tomorrow”.  Most likely you won’t.  I’m not being mean, but most people say that and then they don’t and then they have food guilt.  What do I do?  I know that I will be eating more, so before my body is slow and laden down from extra fat and alcohol in my diet (from a fun family meal), I have a long workout.  I also tend to keep in mind all week with my workouts that I will be having a huge “cheat day” from my normal diet.  That way, I have already done the hard work, and I can eat with pure pleasure and no guilt!

Don’t starve! One thing people do frequently is that they know they are going to eat a big meal, so they don’t eat all day.  BAD move!! Then you are starving, so when you finally see appetizers and the meal, you will for sure overindulge! Eat a breakfast high in fiber and protein (after you get in that workout, of course, right?!?!) It will keep you filled up and regulate your blood sugar so your body feels satiated, and you have a better chance of just eating normally….not until you think you will explode if you don’t unbutton your pants.

Take a walk post meal: Because of the tryptophan in turkey (along with the traveling and stress of planning/cooking for holidays) and all of our blood rushing to our stomachs to help digest that huge meal, we finish our meal, and people want to hang out and watch football, relax, nap, etc.  My suggestion? Go out and walk for 30 minutes.  Get your blood pumping, help digest faster, ramp up your metabolism, and then tackle those dishes.  Depending on the number of dishes and how vigorous you are, you can burn up to 100 calories in 1 hour of dish washing….it’s a start!

If you really are concerned: if you really are worried about eating too much, go slow.  Take small helpings, small enough that nothing on your plate touches (and if you can handle the ridicule, just use a salad plate- it gives the illusion or more food!) and eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes from the time food hits your lips and gets into your stomach for your brain to get the memo that you are satiated and don’t need to eat any more (that’s why starving yourself can really backfire on you- you eat like a glutton for 20 minutes then want to die from feeling so stuffed.) And drink lots of water, along with the fiber in all of the veggies, and the protein it will help to fill you up faster.

Alcohol can be a caloric nightmare: Not all alcohol, but wine is usually around 200 calories per glass, so if you have a few of those, you’ve just taken in all of your days calories almost, just on drinks alone! so for those of you really, looking to keep it “skinny” this year, I wouldn’t jump towards the wine, or keep it to 1 to 2 glasses.

Ditch the guilt: All this being said, don’t feel guilty about having a good time, giving thanks for all of the wonderful things we have in our lives, being with friends and family, and eating good food.  THAT is what Thanksgiving is about, not your caloric intake!  Everyone is allowed a “cheat day” and on Thanksgiving, you just really live it up!

Really?  Have a great day, enjoy yourself, and appreciate your life, your friends and family, and have an awesome day.  Don’t focus on the calories or feel guilty for having a good time, just get back right on track the next day….as long as this is a once in a while thing for you, your body will bounce back! Don’t et one day let you lose focus on being healthy and fit, but as I said, ramp up your exercise before, if you are really concerned, have that fitness bank filled, and make a withdrawal on Thanksgiving!  Enjoy your days, be safe, and have an amazing time.

For all of the healthcare, emergency service workers, military, and everyone else that is working through the holiday to help others, thank you for all that you are doing; your hard work and sacrifice is greatly appreciated!!

Yours in Good Health


Another natural alternative to sugar: Coconut Palm Sugar

Everyone is looking for ways to sweeten without using refined sugar, because of its high glycemic index and calories, and I know that some of you are big fans of artificial sweeteners like Nutrasweet™ or  Splenda™ but there are alternatives that are natural and not chemicals, and that actually taste sweet.  One of the newer (well, new to the US, it has been used in southeast asia for thousands of years as a sweetener) alternatives is Coconut Palm Sugar.  It is a little hard to find sometimes, but it is sweet, tasty, and it is actually good for you because it is filled with vitamins and minerals!

What is Coconut Palm Sugar?

First, to clarify, Coconut sugar and Palm sugar are two different things, but it is frequently referred to as coconut palm sugar.  Palm sugar is a sugar made from the sap of various palm trees such as the date palm, sago palm, or the sugar palm.  Coconut sugar is made from the sap of the buds of coconut palms (the trees that grow coconuts).  The sap is extracted, dried (using heat to remove the water content), and it if found in either liquid, crystal, or paste form and it can be used to add to various foods as a sweetener, so it truly is minimally processed.

How is it actually good for me?

Because the sweetness is from the natural sucrose found in the coconut palms, so it is a very low glycemic index food, which means that it is a safe alternative to sugar for diabetics, and it can be used the same way that you would use sugar in baking, coffee/tea, etc. It is a great source of vitamins and minerals like: potassium, iron, magnesium, and Vitamins B1, B2, B3, & B6.  It’s chock full of good stuff for you, sweet, and  it is a low glycemic index food! And it is considered a low glycemic index food, meaning that the sugars take time to get into your bloodstream, they are slowly absorbed, as opposed to refined sugar which increases your blood sugar levels rapidly; and then will quickly drop off.  With a slower absorbed sugar, you tend to feel satiated longer, and you don’t have highs and lows of blood sugars as rapidly (which is why lower glycemic index foods are better for diabetics). Plus, it has a really dynamic taste, similar to brown sugar, but it really is much more dynamic; I love it.  It does change the color of baking, for example, I made some cookies and used it; the flavor of the cookies were amazing, but they were more of a caramel color than cookies if you use regular refined sugar.  Purely an aesthetic difference, as the cookies were gobbled right up!!


The one thing to make sure of though is that the coconut palm sugar you are buying is actually coconut palm sugar and isn’t filled with refined sugar. Sweet Tree (by Big Tree Farms in Bali, Indonesia) is a brand of coconut palm sugar that is certified as organic coconut palm sugar, so you know that you are getting the real deal, and it is your best bet.  Just make sure that whatever brand you buy is certified! It is most often found in natural food stores, some asian specialty shops, and online (of course- but I always encourage people to support local stores!)

Give it a try, let me know what you think, and see fi you notice a difference.  I am a huge believer, I almost exclusively use it….when I can find it!

Yours in Good Health