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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In recent years, both collagen and gelatin have become increasingly popular as the health benefits of these proteins have become more widely understood. Collagen, the most abundant protein in your body, can be found in bones, ligaments, tendons, skin and more, and consuming collagen regularly has been shown to have a multitude of benefits. The benefits of collagen include:
However, eating collagen and it's derivative, gelatin, is by no means new news. Collagen and gelatin—an irreversibly hydrolyzed, or broken, form of collagen—comes from the cartilage, skin and bones of animals. Throughout history, humans have made soups from animal bones and eaten all the parts of animals, including the tougher parts containing connective tissue and therefore, collagen. These practices aren't common in this day and age.
While bone broths can be a great source of collagen, there are other ways to increase our intake of this important protein without sipping on soup all day long. Today, both hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin can be purchased from reputable sources and used in a variety of ways. While both collagen and gelatin contain the same amino acids, hydrolyzed collagen can be dissolved in cold and hot liquids alike and does not cause liquid to gel, making it perfect for mixing into smoothies; coffee or tea; or your breakfast oatmeal or yogurt. Gelatin, on the other hand, dissolves in hot liquids and causes them to gel making it great for....Jello!
Homemade jello--spiced up with anthocyanins and vitamin C—is one of my favorite ways to increase my intake of the amino acids found in collagen (namely proline and glycine) along with important cofactors for collagen production. Fruits rich in the bioflavanoid anythocyanins—such as dark berries—have been shown to link collagen fibers, increase vitamin C levels, and protect against free radical damage. Furthermore, vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen formation by increasing the activity of the enzymes that form collagen. I love making this jello as a healthy desert or for a delicious breakfast with a dollop of sheep's milk or coconut milk yogurt. I welcome your ideas for incorporating collagen and gelatin into your everyday routine!
Not Your Grandmother's Jello:
1. Cut up your fresh fruit (if necessary) and place it in a pie dish or bowls.
2. Brew 16 ounces of herbal tea.
3. Take a small amount of the brewed herbal tea and use it to dissolve 2 tablespoons of gelatin.
4. Mix the dissolved gelatin mixture, the rest of the herbal tea and 16 ounces of dark berry juice.
5. Add maple syrup, to taste, if desired.
6. Pour the liquid into the containers of your choosing over the fresh fruit.
7. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
To purchase collagen or gelatin, visit our store.
For years and years, fats have been given a bad rap. Starting around 1980, experts and the federal government advised replacing all dietary fats with healthy carbohydrates. This was a big mistake. Instead of replacing unhealthy fats with vegetables, Americans replaced healthy fats with grains and sugar, leading to the epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease that currently plagues our country. The fact is, many fats are extremely good for our health:
Fats to avoid include trans fats; whenever you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on a label, that is a food best left alone. Research indicates that for every 2% of calories of trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease increases by 23%. Instead, increase your daily intake of the following types of fats:
Polyunsaturated fats such as those found in vegetable and canola oil are still praised by much of mainstream nutrition, but have been shown to contribute to a plethora of chronic diseases, in part because of their tendency to go rancid and in part due to their high omega-6, or inflammatory, content. It is best to leave polyunsaturated fats alone.
Whether you are trying to loose weight, increase energy or improve the function of each and every cell in your body, consuming more healthy fat is the way to go. For a delicious, healthy, anti-inflammatory sweet treat, sure to satiate any craving try my recipe for homemade Mustang Bars below:
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup crunchy almond butter
1/3 chopped raw walnuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup raw macadamia nuts
¼ cup golden rasins
2 TBS vanilla
3 TBS honey
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
Salt to taste
Mix the seeds, coconut flakes and raisins together along with the honey, almond butter, vanilla and salt. Using a muffin tin, pour a small amount of coconut oil into the bottom of each tin. Top the coconut oil with the mixture containing the rest of the ingredients. Place in the freezer to solidify. Makes 6 to 8 depending on thickness.
 Almendrala, A. (2016). The Truth About Fat In Your Diet. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-truth-about-dietary-fat_us_56d4ac53e4b0bf0dab33083f.
 Fitness Magazine. (2009). The Big Fat Truth: Why Non-Fat Isn’t the Answer. Retrieved from: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/tips/why-non-fat-isnt-the-answer/.
 The Family Health Guide. (2015). Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.
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.
 Vitetta L et al. (2014). Probiotics, prebiotics and the gastrointestinal tract in health anddisease. Inflammopharmacology 22(3):135-154.
 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.