The holidays have come and gone and if you're anything like me, you are ready to leave indulgences behind and move into the new year with renewed vitality and purpose. While rigorous or involved cleanses are particularly popular this time of year, it's important to remember that small changes can have a big impact on our health. If you don't feel you have the time, energy or desire to do a "hardcore" detox, that's ok. Incorporate the five following changes into your daily routine and reap the benefit of mental clarity, better sleep, and a positive mood to boot.
1. Drink Lemon Water (and Lots of It): Most of us walk around dehydrated on a daily basis. Increasing your intake of water and incorporating lemon, known for aiding digestion and helping with detoxification in the liver, is an easy way to reduce fatigue and improve the quality of your skin. Citric acid—contained within lemon—stimulates our body's own natural production of digestive juices and bile. Furthermore, lemon is high in antioxidants and vitamin C, an essential building block for collagen, the protein makes our skin both smooth and firm.
2. Eliminate or Reduce Coffee and Alcohol: Coffee and alcohol dehydrate us and also cause our adrenal glands—the part of our endocrine system tasked with regulating our sleep/wake cycle and coping with stress—to work harder. "Adrenal fatigue" or the overworking of the adrenal glands to keep up with the pace of modern life, is rampant. Putting further stress on these glands can lead to a myriad of health consequences. Swap out your coffee for green tea and cocktail for a mocktail and reap the benefits of increased energy without a the jitters or a caffeine crash.
3. Eat the Rainbow: The vibrant colors present in fruits and vegetables are not only there to entice us. The color of our produce is a result of the vitamins, nutrients and polyphenols (plant antioxidants) found within it. The color red indicates lycopene or anthocyanins are present while yellow and orange is a sign that beta carotene can be found within. Because each of these nutrients has its own health promoting properties, eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day ensures our body is getting the building blocks it needs for optimal health.
4. Move Your Body: Our lymphatic system is responsible for moving proteins, cellular debris, bacteria and viruses, immune cells and certain toxins around our bodies for elimination. However, unlike our circulatory system which has it's own musculature, things only move through our lymphatic system if we move. Perform some moderate cardiovascular exercise as a way to boost your immune system and eliminate toxins. Furthermore, sweating helps us to release certain toxic chemicals and excess hormones and since many environmental toxins are stored in fat, even a small decrease in weight can help to reduce your overall toxic load.
5. Clean Up Your Personal Care Products: You may be well aware that the majority of personal care products available on the market contain harmful chemicals. These chemicals have been linked to hormonal disruption, developmental delays in children, improper functioning of the nervous system, and even cancer. While it can be daunting to replace all your personal care products at once, use this opportunity to replace one or two items with chemical-free counterparts. For ideas of which shampoo, lotion, and make-up is truly safe, visit the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Database.
For more information on detoxes and cleanses or to sign-up for a medically supervised detox program, email email@example.com.
While I love traveling and the joy that I experience from spending the holidays with family and friends, traveling compromises our immune system, digestive system and adrenal glands, and also exposes us to a host of pathogens, some of which we may not be well equipped to fight off. Less-than-nutritious travel food combined with lack of sleep and increased stress can make us susceptible to disease and cause us to leave our vacation feeling more worn out than when we began. To make the most of my travel time, here five things I never leave home without:
1. Probiotics: Research has shown us that probiotics can stimulate the immune system both within and outside of our GI tract. Probiotics activate various cells of the immune system such as macrophages and natural killer cells and also increase antibodies in the intestine itself. For traveling, I like probiotics that do not need to be refrigerated such as Ortho Molecular Product’s Probiotic 225.
2. Immune Support: The broad category of immune support consists of any herbs, vitamins and nutrients that ramp up the activity of our immune cells. My favorite immune support is Priority One’s Super Bio Veg which combines vitamins, herbs and mushrooms in an highly effective combination.
3. Magnesium: Magnesium treats muscle tension, constipation and quiets the mind leading to a feeling of overall calm. Additionally, magnesium is a cofactor in thousands of processes in our body and is depleted by stress—a common occurrence when traveling. I recommend Integrative Therapeutic’s Tri Magnesium for its blend of 3 different types of magnesium allowing for optimal absorption.
4. Digestive Enzymes: When traveling it can be easy to stray from one’s typical diet and incorporate foods you may not normally eat, including those containing gluten and dairy. Because I enjoy indulging while on vacation too, I travel with an enzyme such as Priority One’s Gluten Resolve so I can have the occasional treat without suffering the side effects.
5. Cortisol Support: Any time we travel, getting out of our routine and experiencing new and increased stressors, our adrenal glands take a hit. Our adrenal glands are responsible for producing cortisol, the primary hormone that spikes under stress. When our cortisol is elevated we can feel revved up, jittery or on edge, making it hard to fall asleep or ease into relaxation. This, in turn, makes us more susceptible to illness. For this reason, I travel with Integrative Therapeutic’s Cortisol Manager. This amazingly effective product uses a combination of L-theanine, ashwaganda, phosphatidlyserine and magnolia to reduce cortisol and lead to feelings of calm.
Wishing all of you safe and relaxing travels and the happiest of holidays!
IV nutrient therapy—the process of administering vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs and other compounds through the venous system—has become one of my favorite treatment modalities—and with good reason. IV therapy can be used to prevent and treat common illnesses such as respiratory and gastrointestinal infections; can treat a wide variety of ailments such as migraines, insomnia and musculoskeletal pain; and can be used as adjunctive treatment for more pathologic conditions such as autoimmune disease, chronic infections, and cancer. Through bypassing the intestines, maximal absorption of nutrients is ensured. Furthermore, quantities of nutrients that cannot be absorbed through digestive tract can be delivered to the cells that need them most.
Some conditions that are successfully treated with nutritional IVs include:
Many people ask me if IV therapy hurts. For almost all of us, the answer is no! When IV therapy is performed by an experienced physician, you should feel no more than a slight pinprick. People are also curious as to how long receiving an IV takes. For most, the answer is 30 minutes to 1 hour, though certain IVs may take longer. Finally, people want to know how they will feel after. Most individuals feel very relaxed after their IV and experience an increase in energy 90 minutes to 2 hours later and sleep very soundly that night.
If you have specific questions about IVs or would like to know if you could benefit from IV therapy, feel free to get in touch. Through January 30th, all nutritional IVs are $35 off making it a great opportunity to try this amazing modality!
Photo Courtesy of Fix.com
As some of you may know, I recently held a class on healing with fermented foods at RestorMedicine in San Diego. Teaching about cultured foods and beverages reminded me how beneficial these foods can be (and how easy they are to make). In light of this, I wanted to share some of the amazing benefits of fermented foods with you, and at the same time, bust some myths.
FANTASTIC FERMENTED FOODS
Recent research has revealed that we are more bacteria than we are human: bacterial cells outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. The vast array of bacteria that exists inside us and on us has come to be known as the microbiome. We are coming to understand scientifically that a balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the GI tract, supports mood and brain function, produces important vitamins and nutrients, and helps us to maintain a healthy weight .
Fermented foods are cultured by a process known as lacto-fermentation: the process by which a bacteria converts carbohydrates into lactic acid and yeast coverts sugar into alcohol. Fermentation has been used for thousands of years as method of food preservation. It is a pleasant coincidence that fermentation also enhances the nutrient content of food through the action of bacteria which make the minerals in cultured foods more available and also produce vitamins and enzymes beneficial for digestion. Because the beneficial bacteria present predigests fermented foods, individuals who are lactose-intolerant may be able to consume yogurt and kefir, and making cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi increases glucosinolate compounds believed to fight cancer.
Although fermented foods have become more commercially available, many fermented foods you buy in the supermarket have been pasteurized at high heat, killing any friendly bacteria. Fortunately, making your own fermented foods at home is easy and safe.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
MYTHS ABOUT FERMENTED FOODS
For those interested in trying their hand with fermented foods at home, I will be sharing recipes for DIY fermented vegetables, kefir and kombucha in the coming weeks. Check back often for new ideas and feel free to share your questions, favorite recipes and ideas!
 Kellman, R. (2014). Why Fermented Foods Are Good for Weight Loss, Mood & Glowing Skin. Retrieved from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14758/why-fermented-foods-are-good-for-weight-loss-mood-glowing-skin.html.
 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. (2014). Discover the Digestive Benefits of Fermented Foods. Retrieved from:http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_2/current-articles/Discover-the-Digestive-Benefits-of-Fermented-Foods_1383-1.html.
 Gremont, L. (2012). What Are Fermented Foods? Retrieved from: http://www.homemademommy.net/2012/09/what-arefermented-foods.html.
 Scheers N et al. (2015). Increased iron bioavailability from lactic-fermented vegetables is likely an effect of promoting the formation of ferric iron (Fe). European Journal of Nutrition.
 Shewell, L. (2015). Everything you always wanted to know about fermented foods. Retrieved from:https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-fermented-foods/#h.1ci93xb.
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 Kirjavainen P. et al. (2002). Aberrant composition of gut microbiota of allergic infants: a target of bifidobacterial therapy at weaning?Gut 51(1):51-55.
 Michail, S. (2009). The role of Probiotics in allergic diseases. Allergy, Asthmal & Clinical Immunology 5:5.
 Isolauri E, Arvola T, Sutas Y, Moilanen E, & Salminen S (2000). Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clinical and Experimental Allergy: Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology 30(11):1604-1610.
 Malesky, G. (2013). More Proof That Probiotics Boost Immunity. Retrieved from: http://www.prevention.com/health/healthconcerns/more-proof-probiotics-boost-immunity.
I am really excited to be teaching this class on fermented foods at RestorMedicine in San Diego on Thursday. If you are nearby, please come join us! For those who can't make it, I will be sharing some of the recipes, tricks and tips from the class in the coming weeks on the blog. Check back often for fun with fermented food!
Dr. Elizabeth Winter practices integrative and functional medicine in San Diego, CA and sees patients from a distance via Skype. For more information about her and her practice philosophy visit About Dr. Winter.