Changing How You Think About Your Autoimmunity

If you’re living with an autoimmunity, I’m sure you’ve heard from your doctor/friends/family/whomever or wherever that “It’s just your genes.” Or “You got a crappy set of genes.” Or (my personal favorite) “Your body failed you.”

I used to believe that. I still struggle with it. (Especially on days when flares sneak through the cracks.) For years I’ve been angry with my body for “failing me.” I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s at the age of 6. I have literally heard all of my life that my genetic make-up was and is just weak. (Talk about giving a kid a self-image complex.) I used to think that God did make mistakes because obviously I was damaged. It really affected my self-worth. I thought that God didn’t love me as much as others because I was less-than. Self-pity set in. Depression. Does this sound familiar?

That’s not the reality. Your body is beautifully and wonderfully made. Autoimmunity IS NOT a sign that your body failed you. It is a sign that your body experienced a crazy onslaught of stressors — and SURVIVED.

Think about it – modern science doesn’t fully understand autoimmunity and what causes the body to create antibodies. They do know that it’s a combination of environmental stressors, nutrient-devoid “food”, toxic chemicals, heavy metals, electromagnetic frequency exposure, HPA (Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal) Axis dysregulation, compromised gut health, genetic proclivity and epigenetics, emotional stressors, pharmaceutical abuse – and many other factors. There is no one smoking gun for any individual person and the combination for one is going to be different from another.

Surviving this massive onslaught of stressors is not something to feel shameful about. Don’t allow yourself to fall prey to self-pity or depression or lose hope.

Instead, let’s shift our thought to focus on how well your body has survived some pretty heavy odds. Seriously. Think about it. Your body has figured out a way to survive when every outside or inside signal said to shut down. It didn’t give up on you, it figured out a way to keep you alive. How beautiful is that?! If anything, that’s a cause for celebration and some massive amounts of self-esteem.

But, I get it. Getting over that continuous loop that is ingrained in your psyche is hard. So, how can you do it? For my life, Adoration, Confession, and the Divine Mercy Chaplet have been literally the most helpful. Confessing that I struggle with self-pity and a lack of hope and trust in God has opened up doors for healing and has helped me let go of the pain.

If you’re not Catholic, journal your heart out!!! (And if you are Catholic, still journal your heart out.) Get those words out of your head and for every thought of self-pity, write down two ways that your body is beautiful and resilient and wonderfully made.

Maybe consider meeting with a counselor, life coach, or spiritual director. There are some deep seated wounds with this one that require work. (I speak from personal experience as well as what I have learned from working with my clients.) Remember to bring tissues.

Finally, when the thought does pop into your head (and it will), send it packing. You don’t have the mental space to entertain it while you’re healing so tell it to go away and “change the channel” – start thinking about something that is good and beautiful and brings you joy and makes you feel like a whole person.

Change your own thought pattern and let’s celebrate just how incredible our bodies really are.

 

New Services Available

It’s been a busy past few months — to put it lightly. I’ve been taking some pretty amazing continuing ed classes and certifications and now I have a few new letters to put behind my name. Read on to find out what I’ve been up to!

Certified GAPS Practitioner (CGP)

So… you’re probably wondering what is GAPS and if you can get a good pair of jeans there? GAPS is short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome or Gut and Physiology Syndrome… depending on your presentation. It is an absolutely beautiful healing diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and focuses on sealing and healing the gut in order for the body to heal itself of its ailments. We’ve been successfully using it in our house for a year to help heal myself and my husband and I just fell in love with it! It’s effective for autoimmunity, fertility, autism, ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, IBS, bipolar disorder — the list goes on and on! GAPS is not for the faint of heart and really takes some doing but the final result is amazing!

Restorative Wellness Solutions (RWP)

I’m sure you’ve never heard of this one. So don’t feel bad. It’s specific to Nutritional Therapists. In this class, I learned how to use the DUTCH Adrenal test, various saliva cortisol tests, the MRT, and a stool test in order to better assess HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenal) Axis health, colon health, and food sensitivities. I also have the power to legally order these tests. The MRT tests for mediated response. Basically, when we get allergy tested, they’re looking for antibodies. The problem is that antibodies are only about 25% of an immune response. The rest of that immune response is mediated. This test checks for that and lets you know which foods and chemicals are causing hidden inflammation. It has completely changed my outlook and I am enjoying using this tests alongside GAPS for wonderfully effective healing!

And there’s no rest for the weary! In January, I’ll be starting a class on interpreting Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and the second class in the Restorative Wellness Solutions offerings – which will cover hormone testing for both men and women. I’m excited!

If you’re interested in learning how these tests can help you achieve your health goals or are interested in learning more about how the GAPS diet might work for you, request your free 30-minute consultation below.

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Planning for 2018

“One minute to midnight
One minute to go
One minute to say good-bye
Before we say hello”

If you can name the musical that song is from, we’re practically best friends. Forever.

I remember how excited I was when I was little to list out my goals for the new year. I wanted to camp every weekend and go to Disneyland and learn how to horseback ride and travel to Australia and… you get the drift. My goals were bigger than what could be done. Sound familiar? Even to this day, my goals are bigger than the days are long. How many of us set out in the new year with lofty ideas of grandeur? Maybe this year will be the year you go to the gym… everyday… at 5am… without fail… come rain or snow. The only caveat? You’ve never stepped foot into a gym. So this would be a HUGE life adjustment. While I’m a fan of fitness (something I slacked off this past year and is in my list of things to get back at in 2018), considering your goals can help you figure out something attainable.

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Why Use Safer Skincare?

So if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why a nutritional therapy practitioner is carrying Beautycounter in their business.

Good question.

Because the man may be the head of the household but the woman is the neck. And she controls which way the head will go. Okay. Okay. Aside from the cheesy My Big Fat Greek Wedding quote, there is some truth to that. A whole lot of truth, to be honest.

As the Chief Buyer of All Things and Spender of All the Money (a title I work hard to live up to), it’s my job to figure out what is safe for my family and what is potentially toxic. And to bring those items into my home for my loved ones to use. As someone that cares deeply about my clients’ well-being, it’s also my job to figure out and help source products that will not introduce more toxins to their bodies.

All of us, myself included, have a false sense of security when it comes to our skincare. Surely, companies wouldn’t use ingredients that are harmful to our health?

If only the answer were as innocent as the question.

Truth is, the skincare and cosmetics industry has absolutely NO oversight in the United States. What does that mean? It means that companies in the United States can use whatever toxic ingredients they want to use – ingredients that cause cancer and disrupt hormones… and they don’t have to disclose a single thing to the consumers.

As a nutritional therapy practitioner who helps women balance hormones and who has suffered from hormone dysregulation for most of my post-menarche life, this terrifies me.

So… what are the facts?

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Dealing with painful, cystic acne

How many of us (be honest) have had painful, cystic acne at some point in their life? How many of us still suffer from some kind of breakout? Even if it’s infrequently? After years of SO many medications, antibiotics, topical ointments, you name it. I finally have a handle on my acne.

I’m super super pumped to share six things that have helped clear up my acne to maybe a little blemish around my period if I was a bit lackadaisical with the sugar. How did I do it? Through diet, lifestyle, and a few choice beauty care products.

To start things off, here’s a few simple steps you can take if you’re already eating a paleo/whole foods diet yet still suffering from cystic and painful acne or other skin problems.

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Supporting A Fever

How is it already back to school season? I have absolutely loved seeing my friends kids in their first day of school outfits on Facebook – their smiles are so big with excitement for the new year. There is one downfall to the new school year that most parents loathe – the dreaded cold season.

A combination of air-conditioning (which depresses the immune system), being crammed into a classroom, and not enough fresh air, healthy food, or water, all play a role in a child coming down with a cold. That being said, a good cold – like a really, really good cold and one that develops a fever once or twice a year is a good thing to keep the immune system active, strong, and dialed in. To go years without a cold or, on the opposite end, to spend all of winter perpetually sick isn’t good, it’s a sign that the immune system does not know how to properly respond to pathogens.

What can you do if your child DOES come down with a fever? I know that when I was growing up, Children’s Tylenol was my parent’s go-to. The doctor even suggested it! Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and other name and generic brands, has been implicated in liver damage, liver failure, and death, when used incorrectly (and depending on your medical presentation, there is no determining amount it seems). Families with MTHFR genetic mutations should use caution – those with MTHFR already have impaired detoxification. Acetaminophen has also been linked to reduced testosterone in in-utero baby boys and a link between its use and autism when given after the MMR vaccine.

So, what can you do to support your child? As a nutritionist, I’m a fan of a well-balanced diet with lots of green leafy veggies (don’t blame the messenger), bone broth, organ meats (you can mix one pound of grass-fed ground beef in with 1/4 pound of pureed organic chicken livers), limited sugar, NO processed food, and healthy fats. I know, I know. “But my kid will flip out if I try to get them to eat that way, it’s just not reasonable.” My only advice – remember, you’re the parent, stick to your guns. Our children deserve the right to be healthy and grow up into thriving adults.

Before I list my favorite ways to monitor a fever, fevers are actually healthy! For years, I was unable to develop a fever – a sign that my body’s immune system was challenged in coming online when I needed it. I remember a few years back, I had a strong wintertime bug. And I had a fever. I probably checked my temp every 5 minutes. And cried tears of joy. Why? Because it was a sign that my body was healing. A fever means that your body can elicit a strong immune response against an invading pathogen. So, riding a fever out can actually be a good thing (again, monitoring it so it doesn’t get dangerously high). 

Here’s a little nice tip: These remedies are GREAT for adults, too!

 Note: The information in this post is not to be confused with medical information, as given to you by your doctor. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor or medical professional. You are the parent, you know if your child’s condition is not improving and if medical help is needed. If your child’s fever is not managing well and is at a dangerously high temperature, please seek immediate medical attention.

 

My Favorite Methods to Support a Fever:

  • Cold Sock Therapy
    I love this method. It’s simply miserable but it works well. Get a pair of 100% cotton socks wet and throw them in the freezer until they’re good and cold. Peel two cloves of garlic. Once the socks are good and cold (not frozen… but very, very cold), place a clove of garlic in the foot and put the socks on. Over those cold, wet cotton socks, place a pair of thick wool socks. Do this nightly, starting with the first signs of a cold, for three nights in a row.
  • Sleep
    This one is a given. Let your child rest when they need to rest. Take away the blue screens – they signal the brain to stay awake. I know. Being sick is no fun.
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Selenium
    Vitamin A is depleted in the urine during acute infections. Cod liver oil is a a wonderful balance of Vitamins A and D and is in a usable form. Most supplements out on the market for Vitamin A are synthetic. I’ll do a post on the dangers of synthetic form of Vitamin A later on but for now, take my word for it. Vitamin A and D need each other. Like Bert and Ernie. So, taking it in the form of cod liver oil (I like Nordic Naturals for children), is a good way to go. Vitamin C – it’s an antioxidant. We’ve all heard about the wonders of it. A bit of organic rose hips, steeped in hot water for about 10 minutes. Add some local raw honey to the tea prior to giving it to them and make sure it is a luke-warm temperature. Selenium is very important in fever moderation. A study from 2015 found an association between hemorrhagic fever and its occurrence in selenium-deficient populations. Sardines and Brazil Nuts are particularly high in selenium. Making a sardine salad (much like you would make a tuna fish salad) is a great way to hide those little fishes. (I prefer Wild Planet Sardines.) Supplementation can also be used. An aqueous selenium can be easily administered to a small child, who cannot swallow small pills.
  • Lots of fluids
    Yea, yea, yea. We’ve heard this one before. But, how many of us have given fluids that are actually diuretic? Giving a child hydrating fluids is very important. Filtered water, bone broth, a bit of filtered water with a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt for minerals, and 4 oz of lemon water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice (can further dilute if needed) are all going to help nourish their little body. Soda, ginger ale, Sprite, 7-Up, Gatorade, Powerade, juice, Pedialyte, etc., further deplete the body of necessary nutrients to help them bounce back.
  • Fire Cider
    Mix 1/2 tbsp (for small children) and 1 tbsp (for larger children) with a bit of local, raw honey to taste and filtered water. This stuff will literally kill anything on site… or so I am convinced. Find my recipe here. 
  • Yarrow Tincture
    If you’ve never seen yarrow, it’s the cover photo of this article. Yarrow tincture is a wonderful supplement to keep on hand at all times. You can harvest yarrow from the mountains, where you know there has been no spraying or, you may order it from a reputable herb shop.To make the tincture, put the flower heads in a mason jar. Cover with 80 (or 100) proof alcohol — I use a lower-shelf vodka. Seal with a lid. Allow to steep for 4 weeks in a cool, dark area, shaking the jar daily. Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Preserve the now yellow liquid in a dark colored glass jar in a cool, dry place, away from light.During a fever, mix warm filtered water with 1 teaspoon in 1/2 a glass of water (small children should use 1/2 teaspoon) and drink up to 3 times a day. The warm water will help to increase the flushing action of the herb.  This tricks your body into acting as if the fever has broken and speeds your immune system to finish the healing.

And, above all – make sure to smother your child with love and affection and attention. Nothing beats the nurturing a loving parent can provide.

 

 

How to Fight the Smoke from Summer Fires

August in the Pacific Northwest, while beautiful, usually means forest fires. Lots and lots of forest fires. While these are necessary to our area’s ecology, it can be most troublesome for many who have respiratory difficulties… and the rest of us who are so used to breathing the sweet, sweet mountain air. Please remember to keep our wildland firefighters and those displaced by the fires in your thoughts and prayers.

 

There are 8 easy things you can do to protect your family from the smoke exposure.

  1. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and antioxidants help combat free radical damage. Rose hips, lemon or lime water (made with fresh, organic fruit), and acerola cherries are all good sources of Vitamin C. For the rose hips, I like to steep them for 10 minutes in hot water and drink the tea. Vitamin E also helps protect the body from widespread pollution. A good quality tocopherol, NOT one found at a common pharmacy, vitamin shop, and certainly never generic, will be of great benefit. You can find an adequate quality Vitamin E at a natural foods store (ask their specialist for help) or email me for recommendations.
  2. Vitamin B rich foods, such as pasture-raised egg yolks and liver. They will help support the adrenals (along with Vitamin C) in times of increased stress to the body.
  3. Extra fatty acids. I know I talk about the necessity of fatty acids (you should really look into my Restart Program offerings). Increasing them during times of increased pollution will help keep your lungs healthy during smoke exposure. Wild caught fish, flax seeds (raw and ground in a dedicated grinder), coconut oil, extra virgin and cold pressed olive oil, evening primrose oil, chia seeds, and hemp hearts are all good sources.
  4. Cod Liver Oil. Really this one should have been first. It’s one of the first things that I recommend to my clients. A good quality cod liver oil will help supply the perfect balance of Vitamins A and D, which strengthen the immune system, and omega-3 fatty acids, a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. Make sure to take it with a meal for best digestion and absorption.
  5. Mineral Rich Foods. Mineral rich green leafy veggies have never been more important. Okay. That’s a lie. They’re important just about every day. With every meal because they provide us with so many nutrients. Just make sure they’re organic! Homemade bone broth and stocks, made from pasture-raised animals, kelp and brown seaweed, and organ meats all provide wonderful sources of minerals. And, when in doubt, a pinch of pink Himalayan salt in your water (not so much that it tastes like the salt water you would gargle with), will help increase your mineral status.
  6. The Neti Pot. I never said this list was only food based. A neti pot, used properly, will help clean the sinuses of any residue and debris from the smoke, allowing sinus passageways to not be as inflamed. Neti pots can safely be used twice a day during increased pollution to help keep things clean. A plastic neti pot system can be purchased from many local pharmacies, or you can buy a pretty sustainable ceramic pot from your local health food store or co-op.
  7. Water. This should really go without saying but, drinking filtered WATER (no additives) will help keep your body hydrated and provide a way to filter out the toxins. If you find yourself rushing to the bathroom too often, take a look at the salt suggestion in #4.
  8. Rest. As tempting as it might be (and I was tempted today to go for a nice long bike ride), now is not the time to over-exert yourself by training for your couch-to-5k or the next decathlon. Even you morning power walkers and leisure strollers should allow your body the time it needs to rest… which allows your body time to strengthen and heal and detox.

For more answers to questions you may have, please feel free to email me.

 

 

Raw Beet and Carrot Salad

Spring is here! Finally! This winter has been cold, wet, and dreary. Normally, I would consider it a delightfully wonderful winter if you’re a native Northwesterner. But, after months and months and months of hardly seeing the sun here in Seattle, I’m ready for a change in the season. This Raw Beet and Carrot Salad is a wonderful spring detox food… or just a food to support bile flow.

 

Beets provide anti-inflammatory, detox, and antioxidant support. They are also high in minerals and vitamins. Their greens are a wonderful food, too! We like to saute them in pasture-raised ghee and sprinkle truffle sea salt on top prior to serving. For clients with liver and gallbladder issues, beets are usually one of the first foods I ask them to introduce as they help promote healthy bile flow. This salad is a wonderful introductory to the world of beets! As a beginning amount, I usually recommend a forkful per meal and slowly increase from there.

Raw Beet and Carrot Salad

  • 2 Organic Raw Beets, peeled and shredded
  • 2 Organic Carrots, scrubbed and shredded
  • Juice of an Organic Lemon
  • 1/4 cup Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, toss the shredded beets and carrots. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice and olive oil together. Season with sea salt and pepper. Toss to coat the salad. Make a few hours ahead of time and let sit in the fridge in order for flavors to marinade.

Homemade Chicken Broth

 

I remember reading my mom’s recipes when I was a little girl. There was a recipe from my Great Grandma Ruth entitled “Bone Soup” and I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Why would ANYONE want to make soup out of bones? There’s no meat on them?! I used to think that my great grandma, who raised 7 children in the hills of southern Oregon was crazy. I mean… who makes soup out of bones? Well, growing up has a way of saying “I told you so” and the simple answer is: Me. I drink a quart or two a day, it is the stuff that gives me energy and has been so instrumental in my healing journey. I use it for all of my soup bases and will add it to casseroles, roasted veggies, mashed veggies. You name it and it’s probably being added to a meal. Incognito style.

Broth is ancient – think Stone Age ancient and go back to the time where organ meats were king. The first soups were made by placing hot rocks in the abdominal pouches of butchered animals in order to slowly cook up mixtures of meat, bone, fat, herbs, wild grains and vegetables. To this day, there is some record of nourishing broth, either oral or written, in almost every culture.

Until the modern invention of mass canning (think Campbell’s and Progresso), many homes had a cauldron or large pot in which they kept broth simmering on the back burner. Even Downton Abbey gave a nod in Season 5 to the importance broth had in by-gone eras with The Dowager Countess (I just love her character) quipping, “every good lady’s maid should know how to make a restorative broth.” While I have no dreams or aspirations of becoming a lady’s maid, I do think that every single person should know how to make a restorative broth. 

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Grapefruit Torte

Fresh citrus in the winter is one of my favorite things. It’s dreary here in Seattle and the cloud cover and constant drizzle, really puts a damper on the mood. It’s no wonder people around here take Vitamin D supplements, fake-and-bake and become snowbirds to beat the winter blues. I’m a fan of Vitamin D and take it daily. (Feel free to send me a message to learn what my favorite brand is.) I’m also a fan of eating happy fruit. I don’t know why, but I consider citrus happy fruit. This breakfast dessert is fantastic. And super easy to make. So easy, in fact, that most people will think you slaved over it when they eat it (which makes it fantastic for a last minute Christmas brunch dessert). When they make those comments, smile sweetly and say “Thank you” – this recipe will be our little secret. Unless you decide to share it with them. I wouldn’t blame you if you did.

If you have never segmented and cleaned a grapefruit, here’s a short little video to help you out. It’s super easy. And looks fantastic. I squeeze the remaining fruit meat and use it to for a second ferment for my kombucha or water kefir. Talk about major yummy!

Grapefruit Torte
Serves: 8            Cook Time: 30 minutes

For the Crust:

  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pasture-raised and organic egg, beaten
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons organic vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 package organic pasture-raised cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
  • 1/3 cup crème fraîche (Trader Joe’s sells it for a reasonable price. If you can’t find it, grass-fed whole fat Greek yogurt will work)
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp organic ginger
  • 1 tbsp organic grapefruit zest
  • 3 cups organic grapefruit, peeled and segmented (About 2 grapefruit)
  • Coarse sea salt

To prepare the crust:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With a fork, sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the crust’s wet ingredients.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and fold until incorporated.
  5. Using wetted (with water) fingers, press the dough evenly into a 9-inch pie or tart pan, making sure to cover the bottom and the sides of the pan. If you don’t have a torte pan, use a spring form pan.
  6. Let the crust cool and leave in the pan.

For the torte filling:

  1. Combine the cream cheese, creme fraiche, honey, ginger and grapefruit zest and mix at medium speed with a mixer until smooth.
  2. Spread mixture over crust with a spatula.
  3. Line grapefruit segments on filling to cover.
  4. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over tart, slice and serve immediately.

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