November 10, 2018

Leaky Gut Syndrome 

A Real Condition, Not a Concept

I'm sure by now you've heard of "Leaky Gut Syndrome". Medically speaking, it is called increased intestinal permeability.

So, what IS Leaky Gut?

We have 400 m² surface area of intestinal surface area, though only a layer of cells, the intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) are the mainstay of the intestinal barrier and serve as a physical barrier. When working properly, it forms a tight barrier that controls what gets into the bloodstream. In an unhealthy gut lining, this barrier, may have cracks or holes that allow partially digested food, toxins, and bacteria to penetrate the tissues beneath it (or leak through it). Current research has shown that this may trigger inflammation and changes to the gut flora (the balance of bacteria in the intestines).

What causes Leaky Gut?

Some people have a genetic predisposition and may be more sensitive to changes in the digestive system. The Standard American Diet, which is low in fiber and high in sugar and saturated & trans fats seems to initiate the process. Heavy alcohol use and stress also seem to disrupt this balance.

Illnesses linked to Leaky Gut...

It is already known that increased intestinal permeability (Leaky Gut Syndrome) plays a role in the gastrointestinal conditions celiac disease, Crohn's disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. Some studies have shown that leaky gut may be associated with autoimmune diseases (type 1 diabetes, Lupus, multiple sclerosis), chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, arthritis, allergies, asthma, acne, obesity, and even mental illness. Studies in humans have yet to be done to prove such a cause and effect.

What helps?

Although it is unusual to hear the term "increased intestinal permeability" in most physician's offices, integrative and alternative medicine practitioners have worked on gut healing as an initial step to treat chronic illnesses for decades. They advise to remove foods that cause inflammation (alcohol, processed foods, foods that cause sensitivities or allergies, and ask your doctor if any of your meds could be to blame) and eat foods that quell inflammation and bring more balance to the gut flora.



**This information is for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Before making any changes to your normal routine, always consult with your physician.



Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Frontiers in Immunology, May 2017.

The intestinal epithelial barrier: a therapeutic target? Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, November 2016.




October 31, 2018


According to the study "What We Eat in America" that was done in 2009 - 2010 (NHANES; Food Surveys Research), the average dietary potassium intake of the US population aged two years and older was 2,640 mg per day. Less than 25% of males on a given day and less than 1% of females were consuming the recommended 4,700 mg of dietary potassium per day.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recommends the Adequate Intake of potassium for adults aged 20 and over is 4,700 mg per day. Current evidence suggests that an increased intake of potassium lowers blood pressure. In addition to its effects on blood pressure, a higher intake of potassium may reduce the risk of kidney stones and might decrease bone loss. Potassium helps carry electrical signals to the cells in your body. It is critical to the functioning of nerve and muscle cells, particularly heart muscle cells.


Best Sources of Potassium:

1 cup   Beet Greens      1,300 mg

1 cup   Swiss Chard        960 mg

1 cup   Lima Beans         955 mg

1 med Sweet Potato      950 mg

1 med Potato                   925 mg

1 cup Spinach                 800 mg

1 cup Black Beans        650 mg

1 cup Broccoli                540 mg

1/2 cup Raisins              540 mg

1 cup Beets                     520 mg

1 medium Banana       425 mg

1 cup Cantaloupe        400 mg


Cooking vegetables does lead to loss of mineral content. (The amount of potassium listed for black beans is cooked) Eating vegetables raw is obviously the best option. If you minimize the duration of contact of the food with the cooking water, you can preserve the content of minerals. Lightly steaming veggies is the best option, if you prefer to eat them cooked. Roasting them is another good option.

Because of the potential danger, the FDA limits the over-the-counter potassium supplements to less than 100 mg. That is only 2% of the recommended 4,700 mg, which is why you should get potassium from your diet.

One healthy addition is a salt substitute that contains potassium chloride. Some salts are labeled "lite" or "low sodium". They contain a mix of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. (These are NOT recommended for people with kidney problems or those who take medications for heart, kidney, or liver issues. ALWAYS ask your doctor before making a dietary change!)




US Department of Agriculture: ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/fsrg

Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School: health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/should-i-take-a-potassium-supplement




**This information is for educational purposes. It is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Before making any changes to your diet, always consult your physician.





October 20, 2018


Fibromyalgia is a very real and difficult illness to diagnose. Originally, the condition was thought to be a peripheral musculoskeletal disease. Today, fibromyalgia has become increasingly recognized as a neuro-biological problem causing central pain sensitization. As many as 10 million Americans have fibromyalgia and its cause remains a mystery. There are no laboratory tests available to diagnose the illness, so physicians rely on patient histories, reported symptoms, and physical examination findings.

1. Pain and stiffness - Pain is the #1 complaint of fibromyalgia patients, and is usually described as moderate to severe. Stiffness is often worse in the morning.
2. Fatigue
3. "Foggy-headedness" or Cognitive Impairment
4. Sleep disturbances
5. Headaches
6. Anxiety/Stress or Depression
7. Numbness and/or tingling in the extremities
8. Tinnitus


A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity on September 14, 2018 revealed using PET scan imaging, the presence of widespread brain inflammation in the patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. This study was conducted by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Karolinska Institute in Sweden.


There are ways that YOU can improve fibromyalgia. The key is to reduce the inflammation in the brain.

1. Dietary changes - There are foods that cause inflammation and foods that reduce inflammation.
For example:
Foods that cause inflammation: sugar, processed foods, and refined carbohydrates
Foods that reduce inflammation: certain antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, Omega 3-rich foods, and foods that optimize your vitamin D levels

2. Lifestyle changes - There are ways to reduce stress and help improve the quality of sleep.
For example:
- Meditation - You only need 15 minutes to get started with meditation. For beginners, I'd suggest guided meditations. There are many sites on the internet that have guided meditations you can listen to and several smartphone apps such as Headspace and Calm.
- Yoga - The practice of yoga involves a joining of the body, mind, and spirit. Through breathwork, meditation, movements, and relaxation, yoga can help restore a sense of personal balance.
- Breathwork - Some of these techniques are taken from Pranayama Yoga. They can be very effective for lowering cortisol levels and blood pressure.
For example: A Pranayama technique called Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, is commonly used to improve sleep. Dr. Andrew Weil has several videos on YouTube demonstrating this and the 4-7-8 breathing techniques, if you'd like to see how they are preformed correctly. (*Before adding breathwork to your routine, talk to your physician, especially if you heart or lung issues such as asthma or COPD.)
- EFT or TFT (Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy) - Both techniques involve (amongst some other things) tapping on specific acupressure or meridian points while focusing attention on a particular emotional problem. The aim is to remove the disruptions in the energy system that are causing particular negative emotions or emotional problems.

I created a detailed guide listing foods, herbs, and spices that cause and reduce inflammation that is given to new subscribers to our website called "The Ultimate Guide to Reduce Inflammation Naturally". It took 6 months of research to find the information and studies to back it all up, and it's FREE when you subscribe to our website. We send ONE newsletter per month and won't clog your inbox with promotions or unnecessary emails. You can unsubscribe at any time and keep the PDF as our gift for taking the time to check out our website. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to subscribe and receive the FREE PDF, if interested.


(**This information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure any illness. Discuss any changes to your dietary or physical routine with your physician first.)



September 30, 2018

Lectins are a type of protein found in plants. Some scientists believe that lectins provide a form of defense in plants to keep insects away. However, these proteins also contain nitrogen, which is needed for plants to grow.
It is true that lectins are considered to be antinutrients that may block the absorption of nutrients. Lectins can also cause adverse health reactions such as nausea, diarrhea, and bloating, BUT ONLY IF EATEN RAW!!! Lectin-rich foods include legumes (beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts) and whole grains (whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice, whole grain barley, millet, corn, and pseudograins quinoa and buckwheat). Who eats this stuff raw? Even peanuts are roasted or boiled before you eat them.
According to Jacalyn See, clinical dietitian at The Mayo Clinic, "Cooking completely denatures lectins, in fact, boiling legumes in water eliminates almost all lectin activity and canning beans is just as effective. Moreover, whole grains and legumes are a powerhouse of nutrients, rich in B vitamins, iron, protein, and fiber which are difficult to get in restrictive diets such as a gluten-free diet."  [mayo clinic site](https://celiacblog.mayoclinic.org/2016/03/01/know-your-lectins
Just like people can be allergic or sensitive to foods containing gluten, people can be allergic or sensitive to foods containing lectins. I would discuss this issue with a physician qualified to diagnose issues with the digestive tract such as a gastroenterologist.
I hope you understand my confusion about this diet craze. It seems as though if you Google the word "lectin", you get a dozen or two websites telling you how to go on a "Lectin-free Diet". Some of these sites are from MDs and naturopathic doctors who many people go to for nutritional advice. I decided to do some digging and look to organizations who do research and have no advertisers on their websites, like The Mayo Clinic.
(Other Reference: Dr. David Katz, Yale University Prevention Research Center and founder of the True Health Initiative)


August 30, 2018


Did you know that magnesium is present in every cell in our bodies? It also plays a role is more than 300 biological functions in our bodies. It is now estimated that 8 out of 10 people in the United States do not get enough magnesium from their diet. That’s a whopping 80% of us. So, why is this happening??


  1. Prescription Medications – The FDA released a safety announcement on 03/02/2011 informing the public that prescription proton pump inhibitor drugs may cause low serum magnesium levels if taken for prolonged periods of time (more than one year). In approximately one quarter of the cases reviewed by the FDA, supplementation alone did not improve low serum magnesium levels and the PPI had to be discontinued (PPIs work by reducing the amount of stomach acid and treat conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD). In 2009, approximately 21 million patients filled PPI prescriptions at pharmacies in the US (not including the over-the-counter purchases) and the numbers have been climbing ever since.

(Ref: fda.gov/drugsafety/UCM245011.htm)

Other Prescription Drugs That Can Cause Magnesium Deficiency – The following drugs cause the body to lose magnesium via the urine: diuretics for hypertension, birth control pills, insulin, digitalis, tetracycline and other antibiotics, corticosteroids, and bronchodilators for asthma.


  1. Soil Depletion – Modern agriculture methods favor the use of NPK fertilizers (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Both phosphorus and potassium create a relative magnesium deficiency in the soil. The new hybrid plants that are continually added to the crop have been bred to survive on these mineral-depleted soils. When the soil has been depleted of magnesium, it is unavailable for the crops, therefore the produce will be depleted of magnesium as well.

Post-Harvest: Magnesium and other nutrients are diminished or lost in produce after harvest, due to handling refrigeration, transport, and storage. If those steps are done “correctly”, then storing in your refrigerator adds to nutrient loss, whether you purchased it from the grocery store or your local farmer’s market.


  1. Food Processing – When nuts and seeds are roasted, or their oils are extracted, magnesium is lost. Cooking greens causes whatever magnesium they might contain to leach into the cooking water. Food processing adds to an enormous loss of magnesium.


  1. Other Nutrients – Magnesium absorption is impeded with the use of supplemental iron. If you take calcium supplements, your need for magnesium increases as calcium will not be properly absorbed if adequate magnesium is missing and will end up dangerously deposited in soft tissues. Lactose is another inhibitor if magnesium absorption (another reason to stop drinking dairy milk). Other inhibitors include excess potassium, phosphorus, and sodium.


  1. STRESS!! – Magnesium is needed for its calming effects, including sleep. Mental and physical stress cause a continuous flow of adrenaline, which uses up magnesium rapidly. Adrenaline affects heart rate, blood pressure, vascular constriction, and muscular contraction --- ALL actions that rely on steady supplies of magnesium for smooth function.


(Ref: westonaprice.org/health-topics/abcs-of-nutrition/magnificent-magnesium/)




The first signs:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

More severe deficiency signs:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle cramps
  • Seizures
  • Personality changes
  • Abnormal heart rhythm



  • People with Celiac disease
  • People with Crohn’s disease
  • People with Type-2 diabetes
  • People with long-term alcoholism
  • Elderly people


  • High Blood Pressure – This is a major risk for heart disease and stroke. Some studies have shown that people who have higher amounts of magnesium in their diets have a lower risk of some types of heart disease and stroke.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – People with higher levels of magnesium in their diets tend to have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Magnesium helps the body break down sugar and
  • may help reduce the risk of insulin resistance.
  • Osteoporosis – People with higher levels of magnesium have a higher bone mineral density, which is important in reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
  • Migraine Headaches

(Ref: ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-Consumer/)



  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts (almonds and cashews) and seeds (flax, chia, and pumpkin)
  • Fruits and vegetables such as bananas, dried apricots, and avocados
  • Legumes (peas, beans, and peanuts)
  • Whole grains (brown rice and millet)

(Ref: medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002423.htm)






July 11, 2018

Food Combinations - Bad and Good 

Bad Combinations

1. Beans and Red Wine - Vegetarian sources of iron such as beans, dark leafy greens, and whole grains should not be consumed with red wine. The tannins in red wine prevent the iron from being absorbed into the body.

2. Spinach and Dairy Products - When the oxalates in spinach combine with calcium, neither get absorbed.

If you're mixing dairy with oxalate-dense foods such as spinach. beets, collards, leeks, and parsley, you won't absorb the calcium well. Instead, use coconut milk to make a creamed spinach, which is also a great ingredient for creamy soups filled with root veggies and leafy greens.

3. Nuts and Tofu - Don't add cashews or sesame seeds to your next tofu stir-fry. The phytates found in nuts, seeds, and whole grains can block the absorption of iron. Tofu and other soy products are protein packed and a way for Vegans and Vegetarians to get their iron.

Good Combinations

1. Nuts and Oatmeal - Oatmeal is a carb; combining it with fat and protein slows how quickly the carbs affect your blood sugar. It also keeps you satiated longer.

2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Tomatoes - Because lycopene (a powerful antioxidant) is fat soluble, the EVOO helps its absorption.

3. Avocado and Green Salad - The leafy greens are high in vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin. The avocado is a healthy fat that helps you absorb the vitamin K.

4. Kombu and Beans - Kombu, an edible kelp consumed widely in East Asia, has enzymes that break down the raffinose sugar in beans. Since our bodies can't digest raffinose sugar, it leads to intestinal gas.

  • When you're cooking beans from dry beans, you can throw in some kombu with the dry beans, which lowers cooking time and helps de-gas the beans.

5. Salmon and Broccoli - The vitamin D from the salmon helps with calcium absorption from the broccoli. You should always pair a vitamin D food with a calcium food!


June 12, 2018

Food Cravings and What They REALLY  Mean!

I chose the Top 5 cravings I hear about the most.

1) Chocolate - According to Sally Warren, PhD, a traditional naturopath based in New York, "When you crave chocolate, your body does not really need chocolate. It's more likely you're deficient in magnesium, chromium and B vitamins."

A healthier substitute that is a natural source of magnesium is a handful of almonds. This, according to Dr. Warren, can relieve the chocolate craving.

2) Sugary Foods - Cravings for sugary foods or snacks can actually indicate dehydration or low blood sugar, according to Dr. Warren. Consuming sugary foods can "wreak havoc on your hormones and metabolism."

Drink a tall glass of filtered water instead of reaching for a sugary snack. If the craving persists, eat an orange, apple, or  some berries.

3) Fatty/Fried Foods - When you crave fried foods or fatty foods, your body needs essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 fatty acids.

For a quick fix, eat an avocado, a spoonful of flax seed or coconut oil, or a handful of nuts such as walnuts or almonds. Instead of fried chicken, eat salmon or make a salad with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar (don't forget the fresh garlic).

Further Info: According to a post in Harvard Mental Health Letter at health.harvard.edu/newsletter/article numerous studies have shown that emotional distress increases the intake of foods high in fat, sugar, or both. High levels of cortisol, in combination with high insulin levels, may be responsible. Other research suggests that grehlin. a "hunger hormone" may have a role.

As soon as sugary or fatty foods are ingested, they seem to send feedback to the brain that inhibits activity in the parts of the brain that produce stress and related emotions. A Finnish study of over 5,000 men and women showed that obesity was associated with stress-related eating in women, but not in men.

*If stress is the cause of your cravings for sugary or fatty/fried foods, ridding your home of these foods is the first step to helping you get past this problem.

Here are a few suggestions for lowering levels of cortisol and stress:

  • Meditation: Countless studies show that meditation reduces stress, although the focus was on high blood pressure and heart disease. However, meditation can also help you become more mindful of food choices. With practice, you may be able to pay attention to the impulse to grab sugary or fatty "comfort" foods and inhibit the impulse.
  • Exercise: University of California researchers reported that exercise - this was vigorous exercise - may blunt some of the negative effects of stress. However, activities such as yoga and tai chi have elements of exercise and meditation (both of which are stress-reducing).
  • Social Support: Research suggests that people working in stressful situations, have better mental health if they have adequate social support. Friends, family, and other sources of social support seem to have a buffering effect on the stress that people experience.(Ref: "Can Relaxation Training Reduce Emotional Eating in Women With Obesity" Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Aug 2009); Vol. 109; No. 8; pp. 1427-32. "Lifestyle Factors and Grehlin: Critical Review and Implications for Weight Loss Maintenance" Obesity Review (May 2011): Vol. 12; No. 5; ePublication.)

4) Salty Foods - When you crave salty foods, there are a few things going on, according to naturopath Megan Humer. She states, a salt craving can be caused by excessive sugar in the diet, too much potassium, or a deficiency in sodium. She recommends reducing the consumption of sugar and table salt. Opt for Pink Himalayan Salt instead, drink "celery juice to remineralize the body".

*However, if your salt craving is happening during a stressful period of your life, you may be deficient in B vitamins.

"If you crave salt after a sweaty workout, illness, or upset stomach", says Dr. Sally Warren, "Pedialyte or a similar electrolyte powder is better than plain water to replace the missing minerals."

My recipe for to replace missing electrolytes and minerals:

3 cups Coconut water

1 cup filtered water

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice (or a combo)

2 TBS Raw Honey

1/4 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt

Add ingredients to a glass bottle and shake it up. Enjoy!

5) Refined Carbs (i.e. pasta, white bread, crackers) - When you crave refined carbs, your body needs more nitrogen.

Chicken and fish are good sources. You can also snack on a handful of nuts or a helping of hummus to extinguish your craving.

*Sometimes it is more of an emotional attachment. (comfort food) meaning some people reach for carbs to feel better. When these foods are consumed, the neurotransmitter "dopamine" (aka the "pleasure chemical") is released. This is why many people have a hard time stopping the consumption of refined carbs. If this is the case, Dr. Warren says what really is needed here is an emotional commitment (journaling, talking with a friend, etc.) and positive self-talk that just might be the answer.

Essential Oils may also help when inhaled to curb appetite and alleviate stress. Best Essential Oils for this include Grapefruit, Bergamot, Peppermint, Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, and Patchouli Oils. You may want to work with an Aromatherapist to find the right oil for you.

(This information is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any illness. Always discuss any changes in your diet or physical routine with your doctor first.)

May 31, 2018

Today is the launch of my website. Check back to this page weekly. I will be blogging about how Holistic Nutrition and Holistic Wellness can help improve your health. I will also be posting some healthy, easy recipes I have created with whole foods that are packed with nutrients. Thank you for checking out my site. If you subscribed to my newsletter, thank you!!! You will receive my Ultimate Guide to Reduce Inflammation Naturally shortly.

Peace and Love,

Carol G.