Are you someone who loves natural healing over pharmaceuticals? There are so many options when it comes to natural health. One effective method of healing is through spices and herbs. They have been believed to preserve health for thousands of years!
Egypt started having schools for herbalists in 300 B.C. According to The Book of Spices, around 2600 to 2100 BC “onions and garlic were fed to the one hundred thousand laborers who toiled in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, as medicinal herbs to preserve their health.”
Recent studies have supported what the Egyptians long knew. There are many health benefits of herbs and spices. But with so many options it’s hard to know which ones will work for you.
Let's explore herbs and spices to see which ones could help you on your journey to health!
Healing Properties of Specific Spices
There are a variety of herbs and spices, each with their own special healing properties. If you know which ones apply to your particular situations, they can be very effective.
- Cinnamon is a delicious spice that has many health benefits. In a study comparing 26 spices, it was found to have the highest level of antioxidants. It has many anti-inflammatory properties and is known to help with blood sugar regulation. It may help individuals with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, HIV, and cancer.
- Sage is another spice with anti-inflammatory properties. It’s been shown to decrease cholesterol and blood sugar in diabetic patients. It may improve memory in both Alzheimer's patients and younger individuals. It was found to decrease the frequency and intensity of hot flashes in menopausal women.
- Peppermint is often effective in reducing pain from headaches, nausea, colic, allergies, as well as muscle and joint pain. It’s been found to have antimicrobial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. A study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that it even increased sports performance. It has also been found to decrease IBS.
- Turmeric/Curcumin is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. It is also effective in reducing symptoms of depression, helping the body in detoxification, combating obesity, and alleviating symptoms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. It may help treat or prevent some cancers, slow or prevent blood clots, as well as assist in regulating blood sugar. The benefits of this spice are almost too many to list. It may be beneficial to combine this spice with black pepper to help the body absorb it.
- Ginger is very effective for many digestive issues. Double-blind studies have found it an effective treatment for motion sickness, as well as nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Studies have shown it is effective in reducing the pain and/or swelling in arthritis patients. It may be helpful in boosting the immune system and fighting cancer.
- Garlic is a natural antibiotic that does not interfere with the good bacteria in the gut. It has incredible immune boosting properties and is extremely effective in controlling blood pressure. It is good for your liver, eyes, and bones. It may prevent eczema, blood clots, and neuro-degenerative diseases.
- Oregano is loaded with antioxidants. It has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. It may help fight upper respiratory infections, as well as certain types of cancer.
Ways to Use Herbs & Spice
- Food - add fresh herbs and spices to soups, salads, casseroles, and other dishes. (You can even make a salad with herbs as a base rather than lettuce.)
- Tea - hot or cold, herbal tea has many health benefits. (Check out this article for information on how to make a great cup of herbal tea.)
- Tinctures - concentrated herbal tinctures can be extremely powerful but must be made and used properly.
- Capsules - dried crushed herbs are easy to take in capsule form, but it’s important to have a trusted source to assure the quality.
- Ointments - herbs can be made into a smooth cream to put on your skin topically.
- Essential Oils - these highly concentrated liquids, extracted from a variety of herbs. They can be very powerful if acquired from a trusted source and used correctly.
Tips On Using Herbs & Spices in Your Kitchen
- Fresh herbs have more nutritional value than dried ones.
- The fresher they are the better, as they lose nutrients the longer they sit.
- To keep them fresh, buy smaller quantities so that they are replaced more often.
- Consider growing some herbs in your garden or even in your kitchen. (Check out this article for fun ideas on indoor herb gardens.)
- It is important to take care of your spices. They can lose their beneficial properties as they age because they are heat, air, and light sensitive.
- Keep your spices dry. Moisture can contaminate them, increasing the risk of problems with fungus or bacteria.
- Store spices in airtight containers, out of direct sunlight.
- It is important to understand when to add herbs and spices to a recipe as this can impact the overall flavor of the dish. (For more information on when to add them to a dish, check out this article.)
Whether you are ready to start your own herb garden or just make yourself a cup of herbal tea, I hope you enjoy a variety of herbal treats this summer! And when you are in my office next, check out my tower garden/ It should be up and running soon, so you can take some greens home with you.
You might believe that you need to beat yourself up in the gym, but that doesn’t have to be true!
We all know that just being at the gym doesn’t mean that you’ll see the results you want. When we don’t see the results, we tend to push harder - going to the gym more, lengthening our working out, increasing the intensity of our training, etc.
But there is another option. You can work smarter, not harder, to get you the results you want.
Let’s explore the best exercises for lasting results where you don’t have to live in the gym!
When You Go to the Gym
If you have been frustrated by not seeing results from your workouts, or even if you are an athlete, you will find the following information interesting.
A meta-analysis of 43 studies had really shocking results! The studies followed overweight and obese people for 3-12 months. People in these studies worked out for 45 minutes 3-5 times a week. This resulted in an average of about 69 hours of exercise over the course of the study. Do you know how much the exercise group lost over that period of time? Only 2.2 lbs.!!! That’s a lot of work for very little results.
So, what specific exercises will get you the results you want? There are two types of workouts that have shown to have great outcomes. These are High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT) and strength training. Besides these, walking and lower intensity exercises can also bring huge benefits.
High Interval Intensity Training (HIIT)
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) involves alternating between short bursts of hard, intense exercise and a little lighter form of exercise. This may be running hard for five minutes followed by a walk or jog. It may be working with weights in this fashion as well.
The key is to push yourself hard, followed by a gentler form of movement. This type of workout results in more calories being burned after your workout.
When we say strength training many people immediately think about lifting weights. While lifting is a great way to build strength, you can also build strength through other forms of resistance training.
Body weight training uses your own body weight and gravity. Things such as planks, pull ups, etc. would count as body weight training that takes little to no equipment. Another way to build strength is through resistance bands. This type of workout can be easily done outside the gym in the privacy of your own home.
What about Walking and Lower intensity workouts?
Simply walking can be an amazing way to get blood sugar under better control and to burn fat. If you think about our ancestors, they moved way more than we do! They did not have comfortable couches to sink into and watch TV. They did not have computers to sit at for work all day long. Spending more of your day moving at a slow pace can be an amazing thing for seeing the changes you want to see and simply feeling better!
I also want to add a quick discussion for those of you that are STRESSED! If you are feeling like you have a lot of stress in your life, intense workouts like HIIT can actually ADD MORE STRESS, which is likely not helpful for you! If this is resonating with you walking or doing something like yoga can be a great fit to actually bring stress levels down.
I have seen women who are stressed transition from intense workouts to simply walking and actually start to notice changes in their body composition for the first time, so don't underestimate the power of these basic movements.
A Special Note for Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)
If you have PCOS it is even more beneficial to choose the “right” type of exercise since certain types of exercise can help to stabilize your blood sugar. Insulin resistance is one of the main root causes of PCOS, so anything you can do to stabilize your blood sugar will be beneficial.
High Interval Intensity Training has been found to result in better blood sugar readings for up to three days after the exercise. When you exercise in this way your cells need glucose for energy, so your body pushes the glucose from the rest of your system into your cells. The only group of people that I would encourage to start slowly with this type of training are those with a strong stress component as a root cause of their PCOS.
Strength training helps stabilize blood sugar as well. One study found that a 10% increase in muscle was associated with an 11% reduction in the risk of insulin resistance. This may be because using our muscles reduces the amount of glucose in our bloodstream, making the cells more sensitive to insulin. Strength training can also decrease the amount of testosterone found in women with PCOS. In addition, it increases the metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories at rest.
If you have PCOS you might want to be a little careful with endurance training. Excess workouts of this nature can increase cortisol and suppress thyroid functioning. Since cortisol and thyroid issues are two of the root causes of PCOS, it is important to keep them under control.
Remember that movement doesn't have to be strenuous. Do yourself a favor and work smarter, not harder! And don’t forget to find joy in your movement, because honestly that is the most important type of movement!
P.S. If you are a woman with PCOS, you don't have to excessively push yourself in the gym or diet excessively to lose weight. I'm here to tell you that there is a better way. Check out my FREE class for women with PCOS who want to get to the root of their symptoms and address them naturally without just being given a pill. Often when you get your symptoms under control you end up losing the weight.
Are you afraid to incorporate fats into your diet? Do you believe that eating fat will make you fat? If so, you may eat a lot of chicken breast, steamed veggies, low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, and salads with fat-free dressing.
You may believe this due to the messages in the media. You’ve likely been taught that eating fat is bad for you, but this is simply not true! Regardless of what the media says, the research is clear.
Eating the right fats will make a HUGE impact on your body, but eating the RIGHT fats is the key!
Let’s explore what fats to eat and which to avoid.
We need HEALTHY fat
There are several essential fatty acids that your body cannot make on its own. If you don’t consume fat it may lead to inflammation, fatigue, poor memory function, heart issues, depression, dry skin, and other unpleasant symptoms.
Every cell in your body contains fat. One reason your body needs fat is to produce hormones. This is especially important for fertility, pregnant and postpartum patients, as well as those with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)!
Healthy fats help us feel full, maintain energy, stabilize blood sugar, and help with insulin resistance. Eating healthy fat (like olive oil) with your salad or veggies will also allow your body to absorb more of the nutrients from the vegetables.
Types of Fats
There is a BIG difference between good, natural, unprocessed, unrefined sources of fat and highly processed, refined fats.
Healthy fats should be incorporated into your diet every day. In some cases, it can be beneficial for these fats to make up well over HALF of the calories that a person consumes.
The processed and refined fats on the other hand, are considered “junk calories”. These unhealthy fats can be oxidized or rancid and are unrecognizable to our bodies. They actually contribute to inflammation which we know leads to all sorts of health problems.
These foods contain GOOD Fats. Enjoy eating these frequently without guilt!
- Butter (I especially love Kerrygold)
- Plain yogurt (Full fat)
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Fish (salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines)
- Grass fed beef
- Dark meat from free range poultry
- Fats from animals (lard, beef tallow, duck fat, etc.)
- Eggs (especially from pastured chickens)
*It is important that the meat you eat comes from animals that were healthy and got to eat their natural diets while they were alive.
Unhealthy fats often hide in processed foods such as chips, crackers, and baked goods. Some of these fats are too high in omega 6 fatty acids, and they are all highly processed. An especially unhealthy type of fat is trans fat which we will talk about later.
Some examples of unhealthy fats include:
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
- Corn oil
- Vegetable oil
- Peanut oil
- Wheatgerm oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Rice Bran oil
- Anything hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated
As mentioned above, the worst type of fat is probably trans fats. These are man-made fats that are no longer classified at GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) by the FDA. When people eat trans fatty acids, various amounts of it are deposited in the body's tissues and impact the way the body functions.
For this reason, trans fats should be completely eliminated from the diet. They are commonly found in fried foods, doughnuts, baked goods, pie crusts, biscuits, frozen pizza, cookies, crackers, margarine, and other “butter-like” spreads.
Tips to Handle Fats
If you are someone who feels guilty about eating fats, consider adding some healthy fats to your diet. Enjoy butter, avocado, olive oil, and more fats from the “healthy” list above!
If you still have some of the “unhealthy” fats listed, you may want to consider switching these out with some of the healthier fats. Little changes, done consistently, can set you on a path to better health! To do this is is great to:
- Eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods (plants, animals, etc.).
- Limit meals at restaurants, as they typically use unhealthy oils. (If you do have to eat out often, choose a salad with olive oil and vinegar dressing.)
- Read labels carefully (many healthy looking oils are mixed with “blends” of other oils).
- Make your own salad dressing. It’s easy to do! (If you need some ideas, just ask. I’ll send you some recipes that I love.)
- Buy oils in a dark glass bottle to keep them from oxidizing. (When oil is stored in clear plastic bottles it will easily oxidize and become rancid.)
Still not convinced? Check out this article which explains why healthy fats do NOT cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or other related health conditions.
Let me know if you have questions. If you are interested in learning more about nutrition, I’d be happy to send you information about “Seven Weeks of Real Food.”
Mark Hyman, MD. Eat Fat, Get Thin. Little, Brown and Company, 2016.
Mary Enig, PhD. Know Your Fats. Bethesda Press, 2013.
Did you know that every cell in your body contains protein? And that protein contains amino acids that are used to repair all the tissues in your body?
It’s true, your body needs protein to replenish itself. According to livestrong.com, protein helps “build muscles, produce new cells, regulate hormones and enzymes, heal wounds and promote immune function”.
It is considered the most important macronutrient in building muscle, which can elevate your metabolic rate. And since protein also helps you feel full longer, it is great for those wanting to lose weight.
Since the body does not store protein, it depends on your diet to provide adequate amounts. Let’s look at the healthiest ways to get this protein.
Meat can be a wonderful source of protein, but it is important to make sure you are getting quality meat! How the animal was raised, and what the animal did while it was alive, is extremely important. It is not just in the animals' best interest to be grass-fed or free-range, it has a direct impact on your health as well.
A study done by Mother Earth News compared eggs from free-range chickens with those produced commercially. It found that free range eggs had:
- 2/3x more Vitamin A
- 2x more Omega-3
- 3x more Vitamin E
- 7x more Beta Carotene
In addition, grass fed beef also has been found to contain higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids when compared to conventional beef.
What about Plant Proteins?
While plants contain many necessary nutrients, they are not considered a complete protein because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. It is possible to get the nutrients you need without eating meat, but it takes care to make sure you are getting everything you need. Plants contain compounds like oxalates and phytates which hamper your body's ability to absorb key minerals like zinc, magnesium, calcium, copper, and iron. Additionally, the vitamins in plants are often times found in less active and less bioavailable forms.
For anyone who is thinking that plant proteins are superior or equal to those from animals, consider the following example. In order to get the same amount of protein in 4 oz. of steak (181 calories) from rice and beans, you would have to eat 12 ounces of kidney beans plus a cup of rice! That would give you 638 calories, and for the carb counters out there, this would be 122 grams of carbs!
For those of you that are trying to eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, the following are some of the protein sources. Like I mentioned above, this can be done, but it does take special consideration to be sure that you are getting all of your nutrients.
- Whole, organic, non-GMO soy products such as tofu. (Please do NOT rely on products containing soy protein isolates or concentrates which are often found in soy burgers, meatless chicken, as well as protein bars.)
- Nuts & seeds
- Beans & lentils (if your body tolerates them well.)
- Quinoa, rice, and other grains
- Some plant-based protein shakes may be useful if you are struggling to get enough protein in your diet, but check the ingredient list carefully!
This Vegetarian and Vegan Guide was created by Mark Hyman, M.D. It is a great resource for vegan and vegetarians trying to eat healthy.
How to Buy Quality Protein
Companies spend a lot of money each year marketing their products. The terms used can be confusing for consumers. The following chart can help you decipher these terms, so you know what to look for when you shop.
*For more about these terms check out our Protein Guide.
Amount of Protein
Ideally people would consume one serving of protein with each meal (one serving of protein is roughly the size of the palm of your hand or a deck of cards). However, each person’s body and activity level are different, so protein needs will vary. If you are reading labels, I like to aim for at least 25-30 grams/meal.
Listen to your body! It is the best indicator of how much protein is right for you. If you don’t eat much protein, consider adding some to see how it makes you feel. If you do eat a lot of protein, does it set well with you?
The Importance of Nose to Tail Eating
As you all know by now, I like to relate everything to how our ancestors used to live. Instead of just eating chicken thighs, steak and ground meats, which are all muscle meat, our ancestors used THE WHOLE ANIMAL! There are incredible nutrient and health benefits in utilizing this practice.
Organ meat like liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods that there is! In fact, my sister gives liver credit for helping her body to heal when she was struggling with infertility. (Here is her story) We try to buy our animals by the quarter/half animal and eat organ meat too. One of my kids' favorite meals is "Beef Heart Stew"
Bone broth made from the bones of animals is great for soups, stews, or just drinking. Broth and the gelatin that is freed during the cooking process is so good for our hair, skin and nails. It has a different amino acid profile than muscle meats, and can help to balance our protein intake in an incredibly beneficial way. I love the following article on how to use gelatin and why it's so good for you!
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), Insulin Resistance, and Protein
About 85% of women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have issues with insulin resistance (As well as a huge percentage of our whole population). If you are one of these women, it is crucial to address your symptoms and get to the root cause.
If insulin resistance is one of your root causes, eating enough protein (and fat) throughout the day will allow your blood sugar to remain steady and keep you from the blood sugar spikes you would otherwise get.
Protein is good for us all, but if you have PCOS or insulin resistance, it can really be a game changer!
If you need more guidance on giving your body the nutrition it needs, feel free to reach out to me. We can discuss whether a program like “Seven Weeks of Real Foods” or “BALANCED” would be right for you. (To learn more about BALANCED you can watch by FREE webinar.)