Monday, April 27, 2015


 (Reposted from Your Thyroid Pharmacist)
Many people have asked me if Hashimoto’s is genetic, and if so, is there anything we can do about our genes? 

We know that there is a genetic component to developing Hashimoto’s and the condition tends to run in families.

Hashimoto’s thyroiditis can occur in two varieties: 

1) an organ wasting form (atrophic) associated with HLA-DR3 gene inheritance 

2) enlarged thyroid (goiterous form) through HLA-DR5 inheritance

These genes are common in the Caucasian population. 

Relatives of those with Hashimoto’s are at risk. So, if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, there’s a chance that a loved one like your mom, sister, daughter or aunt may be at risk for Hashimoto’s as well. 

Think about women in your life that struggle with weight gain, anxiety, fatigue, depression, infertility, or hair loss. Cold intolerance is also a big giveaway… You may want to encourage them to get tested for Hashimoto's. 

While Hashimoto’s is much more common in women, 7 women are affected for every one man; men too, can be affected. Having a male relative with Hashimoto’s increases the likelihood of being diagnosed, so if you are a man with Hashimoto's, please note that your children may be at greater risk.

Symptoms are similar in men, but some men may also experience unique symptoms like low sex drive, poor facial hair growth and loss of muscle tone. 

Thyroid Testing

Thyroid ultrasounds and blood tests are used to diagnose Hashimoto’s. Laboratory tests are available to check thyroid function and autoimmune thyroid markers.  Often times, relatives of people with Hashimoto's will have thyroid symptoms, and will ask their doctors to be tested, but will be told that their thyroid function is normal. Unfortunately, this is because many times, doctors only order the screening test for thyroid disease, NOT the test for Hashimoto's. 

Screening Test

TSH is used as a screening test for thyroid function, but this test does not always catch thyroid abnormalities. TSH does not become permanently elevated until Hashimoto’s is advanced. 

Thus, people may have a normal TSH for years while experiencing unpleasant thyroid symptoms. They will present to their physicians with complaints of weight gain, fatigue, and other symptoms and will be told their thyroid tests are normal. TSH levels can fluctuate throughout the day, however, and the body often compensates by shifting energy away from metabolism and other body functions.

Untreated hypothyroidism eventually results in an abnormally elevated TSH. In contrast, untreated hyperthyroidism results in an abnormally low TSH. A person with Hashimoto’s may fluctuate between the two extremes and at time have “normal” readings.

Additionally, when scientists first set the “normal” ranges of TSH for healthy individuals, they inadvertently included elderly patients and others with compromised thyroid function in the calculations, leading to an overly lax reference range. Thus people with underactive thyroid hormones were often told their thyroid tests were “normal” based on this skewed reference range! 

In recent years, the National Academy of Clinical Biochemists indicated 95 percent of individuals without thyroid disease have TSH concentrations below 2.5 μIU/L, and a new normal reference range was defined by the American College of Clinical Endocrinologists to be between 0.3 and 3.0 μIU/ml. 

Unfortunately, most labs have not yet adjusted that range in the reports they provide to physicians, listing ranges as lax as 0.2–8.0 μIU/ml. Most physicians only look for values outside the “normal” reference range provided by the labs and may be unfamiliar with the new guidelines. Subsequently, many physicians miss identifying patients with an elevated TSH. This is one reason why patients should always ask their physicians for a copy of any lab results.

Functional medicine practitioners have further defined normal reference ranges as being between 1 and 2 μIU/ml for a healthy person not taking thyroid medications. 
It’s important to remember that reference ranges may not be applicable to everyone. What is normal for one person may be abnormal for the next. Reference ranges take into account the average values of 95 percent of the population. Not everyone falls within the “normal” reference range. If you are in the 5 percent who doesn’t, you may experience symptoms of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism even though you have TSH values considered normal. All doctors are taught the old adage, “Treat the patient and not the lab tests,” but sadly few conventional doctors seem to follow this advice. 

I was told that my thyroid was "normal" when my TSH was 5.5, and I was sleeping for 12 hours each night, sleeping under two blankets, and losing hair by the handfuls!! I was not tested for Hashimoto's. 

Even with all of the redefined normal ranges, TSH screening only catches the late stage of Hashimoto’s since the body is still able to compensate in the beginning stages of thyroid dysfunction.
The THEA score is used to help estimate the risk of developing hypothyroidism within five years in people who have TPO antibodies and relatives of those with thyroid diseases. Note: Higher antibodies are associated with a greater risk of developing hypothyroidism.

Test for Hashimoto's

The best tests for Hashimoto's are thyroid antibody tests. These are blood tests that look for an autoimmune response to the thyroid gland. The two antibody tests that are going to be elevated in Hashimoto's are

1) Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO antibodies)= present in >90% of people with Hashimoto's
2) Thyroglobulin antibodies (TG antibodies)= present in >80% of people with Hashimoto's

These tests may be elevated for decades in some people before a change in TSH is seen. While a small number of antibodies may be present in normal individuals without thyroid disease, elevated thyroid antibodies indicate that the immune system has targeted the thyroid gland for destruction. The greater the number of antibodies, the more aggressive the attack on the thyroid gland.

Scientists have developed the THEA Score (Thyroid Events Amsterdam Score) to help relatives of people with Hashimoto's to assess their risk for developing hypothyroidism in the next few years.

You can view this assessment HERE.

**A person may be positive for one or both of these antibodies, but up to 10% of people with Hashimoto's may not test positive for antibodies. In this case, a thyroid ultrasound can be done, to determine if there are changes consistent with Hashimoto's on the thyroid gland.

Why Test for Hashimoto's? 

Traditional doctors may not always test for Hashimoto's unless there is an elevation in TSH, as there was not much information on what could be done about the autoimmune process, and consensus was that there was nothing that could be done for a person with thyroid antibodies who did not have an elevated TSH.

However researchers are now showing that thyroid antibodies, in themselves can lead to symptoms like anxiety, fatigue and a general feeling of "unwell".

Of course knowing that you are at risk for developing a condition can be helpful for planning ahead if there's nothing you can do to change our risk factors, but luckily, our genes are NOT our destiny!

Recent advances in autoimmune disease have determined that three things need to be present for autoimmunity to develop:

1) The genetic predisposition

2) Triggers that "turn-on" the genes

3) Intestinal permeability

All three of these need to be present in order to develop an autoimmune condition. Obviously we can't change our genes, but we can address our triggers and the intestinal permeability! Current research shows that environmental triggers turn on our gene expression, so genes are not our destiny! What's even more exciting is that we can "turn-off" gene expression by eliminating triggers and intestinal permeability.

Testing Early

Ideally, we would want to catch thyroid antibodies before a significant amount of thyroid tissue has damaged. This way we can look for the root cause of the autoimmune attack, and slow down, reduce and even eliminate the autoimmune attack on the thyroid!!

Identifying our triggers can help to slow down and in some cases halt the autoimmune destruction of the thyroid gland. This may prevent many years of feeling unwell, having to depend on a thyroid medications or developing additional autoimmune conditions.

While some people have been able to regenerate thyroid tissue and wean themselves off thyroid medications, the rates at which tissue regeneration happens are not always predictable, and of course it's much easier to prevent damage than it is to repair it. 

Having one autoimmune condition puts us at risk for having additional ones, so addressing the root cause of Hashimoto's can help prevent the development of other autoimmune conditions. Reducing thyroid antibody triggers can potentially prevent thyroid cancer as well... some studies have shown that Thyroglobulin antibodies may be related to an increased risk of thyroid cancer. 

You can have your physician order the tests for you, or order them on your own HERE.

Genes are not always our destiny…

Well-established environmental triggers for developing Hashimoto’s in those who are genetically predisposed include excessive iodine intake, bacterial and viral infections, hormonal imbalances, toxins, and therapy with certain types of medications. Cigarette smoking, surprisingly, has been associated with a reduced risk of Hashimoto’s and may somewhat delay or suppress the development of the condition. 

In people with Hashimoto’s, only 50 percent of their identical twins presented with thyroid antibodies, meaning genes alone are not the single defining factor and environmental triggers play a critical role.

Family Case Studies in Autoimmune Remission

In recent years, scientists have began to focus on environmental triggers for autoimmune disease. One interesting study looked at a family who was affected with Crohn's, an autoimmune condition that causes inflammation of the digestive tract. They were able to identify a bacteria, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), that was present in all of the affected family members. This bacteria has been found to cause John's disease, (with similar symptoms to Crohn's in cattle), and can be passed to us through the consumption of milk (even pasteurized milk). Multiple studies have found that treating this bacteria resulted in remission of Crohn's disease...

Bacterial agents that have beed identified in triggering Hashimoto's include: Yersinia enterocolitica, Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), and H. Pylori. All three bacteria have also been implicated in Graves’ disease, another autoimmune thyroid condition that causes hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid). Interestingly, two medications used to treat Graves’ disease—thiourea and methimazole—have shown antibacterial activity against MAP .  

Tests for Yersinia and H Pylori are readily available, and I've received multiple remission stories from individuals who tested positive for, and then were treated for the above mentioned infections. MAP tests are available for animals, tests more specific to humans are not available commercially at the moment, but should become available in coming years.

I received an email from one family that was affected with autoimmune disease. The members of the family all turned out to be gluten sensitive (both mom and dad had the genes for celiac disease). Interestingly, removing gluten helped different members of the family with different things (Hashimoto's, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus).

Yet another family began to have symptoms of autoimmune disease after moving into a house with mold.
Mold can be a powerful trigger for many autoimmune conditions, including autoimmune thyroid disease, leading to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. In this particular family, the mother developed asthma and Hashimoto's, the daughter developed Hashimoto's, the son developed allergies, while the father developed rashes.

It's important to note that not everyone in the family may be affected at the same rate, and different individuals may not respond to triggers in the same way. Gluten sensitivity may be the main trigger for some people, but for others it is a secondary manifestation of a different root cause, such as a gut infection that makes digestion more difficult. That said, I always recommend starting with food to eliminate

If you'd like to have more information on how to figure out your Hashimoto's triggers, you may find my book; Hashimoto's Thyroiditis: Lifestyle Interventions for Finding and Treating the Root Cause  to be helpful in your journey.

I hope that you found this information helpful in your (and your family's) journey!

Your Thyroid Pharmacist,

Izabella Wentz, PharmD, FASCP
Se Original Post

30 Unhealthy Foods You Mistake As Healthy and Their Surprising Swaps

(Reposted via Healthy Holistic Living)
  Let’s face it, the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) is terrible. We’re led to believe that unhealthy foods are healthy simply because of the overuse of trendy “diet fads” and clever marketing.
I want to help make things simple for you, my friend. One of our talented writers recently wrote a post, which inspired this week’s Saturday Strategy. I want to show you 30 simple swaps to help you upgrade your plate and ultimately, upgrade your health!
You may already know some of these, while others may be new. I encourage you to give them a try and find the ones you like best. Get your friends and family involved and pick a day of the week to try a new recipe using a new “healthy swap” from this list. Then comment below and let me know which one you tried and how it turned out!
It’s hard for me to pick a favorite from this list because they are all so good!

1. Pasta < Spaghetti Squash

Eating spaghetti squash will help fill up your plate without adding a ton of calories. Each cup of the cooked squash contains only 42 calories – 2 percent of the daily calorie intake on a 1,500-calorie diet, or 1.5 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet. Due to the squash’s low calorie content, substituting spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti pasta dramatically reduces the calorie content of your meal; substituting a cup of squash in place of pasta saves you 179 calories. If you normally eat spaghetti once a week, the calorie difference in switching to spaghetti squash translates to 2.5 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year.

Each cup of cooked squash contains approximately 10 grams of total carbohydrates, including 2.2 grams of fiber.
One cup of squash contains vitamin A, several B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K. In addition, spaghetti squash provides a source of the essential minerals calcium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
>>> check out this amazing recipe here

2. Skim Milk < Almond, Hemp or Coconut Milk

Skim milk is fortified with synthetic vitamins to replace those lost in fat-removal and milk solids to replace the protein and calcium lost in processing. Just one cup of skim milk contains 90 calories and 12 grams of sugar.
Opt for unsweetened almond, coconut or hemp milk. The calories will be cut in half and without any sugar. They also won’t contain the nasty additives found in dairy milk.
>>> check out this recipe to make your own at home

3. Soy Sauce < Coconut Aminos

There is a lot of misinformation out there about the health of soy. One things for sure though, unfermented soy has been shown to be a hormone disrupter, particularly an estrogen mimicker. It’s recommended that people with autoimmune disease or any sort of endocrine system imbalance (thyroid, hormones, adrenal glands) avoid soy because of it’s thought-to-be negative affects on the body.
Instead, opt for coconut aminos, which are just a tad sweeter than soy sauce, without the soy or wheat that soy sauce contains.
The most notable benefit of coconut aminos is its impressive amino acid content compared to soy-based sauces. Commonly described as the “building blocks of protein,” amino acids are vitally important to human health. They contribute to the repair and rebuilding of muscle tissue, help to enhance overall brain and nervous system function and assist in boosting the immune system and physical energy levels. Second only to water, protein is one of the most important substances in our bodies, which is why it is nutritionally beneficial to consume a diet that is rich in amino acids.

4. Agave Nectar (refined sugar) < Raw Honey

Though most health food stores carry it, the trendy sugar substitute, agave nectar, shockingly contains 70 to 80 percent fructose, which is more than what’s found in high-fructose corn syrup. Most agave is laboratory-generated super-condensed fructose syrup, without any nutrients.
Raw honey has anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health, is a powerful antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, eliminates allergies and is an excellent remedy for skin wounds and all types of infections.

5. Gatorade (or any energy or sports drinks) < Coconut Water + Organifi

It’s better than a sports drink. Dubbed “nature’s Gatorade”, coconut water is a natural isotonic drink that provides many of the same benefits as formulated sports drinks, including the electrolytes calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sodium and potassium, but in their natural form.
Organifi is loaded with antioxidants, adaptogens and phytonutrients to keep you energized, alkalized and invigorated all day long!

6. Sugar-Laden Latte > Organic Black Coffee with Butter or Coconut Oil

While the “foofy” espresso drinks are delicious, they pack a ton of empty calories, including massive amounts of sugar. Coffee is also a large GMO crop, so to avoid those nasty pesticides and chemicals, opt for organic beans.
Instead, of your daily grande, low-fat, vanilla latte with a dash of cinnamon, opt for organic black coffee with butter or coconut oil. You can even add some vanilla stevia for an extra dose of flavor.
Coffee often gets a bad rap when in fact, quality coffee consumed in moderation can have some great benefits.
It’s high in antioxidants. A study published in the journal “Plant Foods for Human Nutrition” found the antioxidants in coffee decrease oxidative stress in the body and therefore reduce risk of diseases like cancer and reduce inflammation in the body. Another study, published in the “Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism,” found coffee may help to prevent and treat diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels after meals.
Adding good quality fats helps eliminate sharp spikes in dips in energy, promotes healthy cognitive function and helps stabilize pH levels.

7. Margarine < Butter or Ghee

Margarine is nothing more than chemicals, sugar and dairy and is created in a lab. There is nothing natural about margarine. It’s made from trans fat, which is known as the artery clogging fat. It also increase LDL levels (the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL (the good cholesterol).
Butter or ghee (which is clarified butter), on the other hand, packs some great nutritional value!
Butter is a great source of vitamins A, D, E and K. Trace minerals are found in butter such as manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium, which is a powerful antioxidant. Butter contains more selenium per gram compared to herring or wheat germ. What’s more, butter is also a great source of iodine.
The fat in butter is great for your immune system and boosting metabolism. (Fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat!) It’s also great for skin health and cognition.
Butter contains Wulzen Factor – This is a hormone like substance with many functions. It can prevent stiffness in the joints, as well as arthritis. It is also responsible for ensuring that calcium is deposited in the bones rather than in the joints. Note that the Wulzen factor can only be found in raw butter and cream.
Ghee is just butter with the milk solids removed, making a it a great option for those unable to handle standard dairy.
Always opt for organic to avoid hormones!
Thank you for the great graphic

8. Sugar < Cinnamon

Sugar cause inflammation and inflammation causes disease. It’s really that simple.
Cinnamon, however, is full of amazing benefits, plus it’s so good! Ceylon cinnamon is the “true” cinnamon and the one you want to look for when shopping at the market.
It is high in a substance called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for it’s positive effects on health and metabolism. Cinnamon contains large amounts of highly potent polyphenol antioxidants. In a study that compared the antioxidant activity of 26 spices, cinnamon wound up as the clear winner, even outranking “superfoods” like garlic and oregano. It contains anti-inflammatory properties, which may help to lower the risk of illness and disease. Cinnamon has been shown to significantly increase sensitivity to the hormone insulin. Cinnamon has been shown to both reduce fasting blood sugar levels, having a potent anti-diabetic effect at 1 to 6 grams per day.
The smell of cinnamon increases cognitive function by 15%!

9. Bread < Collard Wrap

Bread is full of sugar and carbs, which don’t help if you’re trying to lose weight. Aside from that, it’s often cut with a ton of unnecessary ingredients for shelf life and things like gluten to keep it chewy. The majority of the population has some sort of intolerance to wheat/gluten simply because of the way it’s been over-processed. These factors often lead to digestive and skin issues, not to mention brain fog and potentially chronic illness and disease.
Collards are a great upgrade and are not only really tasty, but they’re loaded with nutrients. They are part of the cruciferous family and are said to have cholesterol lowering ability. They are chock-full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, K, C, manganese, fiber, calcium and B vitamins.

10. Sour Cream < Greek Yogurt

Baked potatoes, creamy dips, tacos… sour cream is great! But you know what’s better for you? Greek yogurt!
Greek yogurt contains beneficial bacteria, good for gut and immune health. Of course, if you are someone who cannot tolerate dairy, stay away from yogurt and instead, try organic kefir. While this is technically still dairy, the amount of beneficial bacteria has been shown to actually help reverse lactose intolerance, making it easier to assimilate and digest quality dairy products. Always buy organic.

11. Store Bought Salad Dressings < Olive Oil & Apple Cider Vinegar

These contain so many ingredients, like filler and added sugar. All totally unnecessary. Instead, drizzle some olive oil and ACV instead, maybe a sprinkle of celtic sea salt and you’ve got a  great – and easy – dressing!

12. Iceberg Lettuce < Spinach, Chard, Kale, Romaine

The best thing about iceberg lettuce is it’s water content. Aside from that, there is not a whole lot of value to this barely green veggie (sorry, Iceberg). Choosing greens that are dark and vibrant pack a much more nutrient-dense punch, providing your body with tons of vitamins and minerals to fuel you towards optimal health.

13. Cheese < Nutritional Yeast

Again, cheese is dairy and dairy creates inflammation in the body and is also mucus-forming. Try sprinkling nutritional yeast on items you’d typically sprinkle cheese on. Sure, it won’t give you the ooey-gooey texture of cheese, but it provides a very similar flavor with the added benefits of

Nutritional yeast contains B12, in addition to it being a “complete protein” – that just means it contains all the amino acids we must get from our food. It’s low in fat and sodium, is free of sugar and gluten and contains iron.
Thank you for the great graphic

14. Soda < Anti-Anxiety Drink

This soda – or “pop” – alternative is not only REALLY good, but it helps reduce anxiety, relaxes the body, aids in regular digestion and provides mineral support that your body craves.
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
>>> get the recipe here

15. Banana < Avocado

Bananas are great and provide a creamy texture in smoothies. But for those looking for a lower glycemic option, avocado provides the same creaminess and are a great source of vitamins K, C, B, E, folate, potassium (more than bananas!) and healthy fats, so great for metabolism, brain, heart and skin health as well as immunity.
1 avocado = 3 bowls oatmeal, fiber-wise!

16. Granola < Steel Cut Oatmeal

Granola is often full of added sugars, which increase inflammation and cause a slew of other health issues. Steel cut oats are rich in dietary fiber and are low glycemic, making them a great choice for diabetics as they help keep blood glucose levels stable. The soluble fiber in oats may also affect blood pressure levels. They also keep you full longer, decreasing the chance of overeating.

17. Egg McMuffin < Veggie Scramble

Ditch the carb-loaded muffin and cheese and load your super-nutritious eggs with veggies, which boost your overall health from a cellular level.
Eggs are a great source of vitamin A and B, folate, selenium and protein. Be sure to eat the WHOLE egg, as most of the nutrients are in the yolk, while the protein is in the white. Both parts are important, my friend!
Contrary to popular belief, while eggs are high in cholesterol, they do not adversely affect blood cholesterol. Cholesterol in the diet doesn’t raise cholesterol in the blood.

They’re also a great source of choline, an incredibly important nutrient that most people don’t get enough of, which is used to build cell membranes and plays a role in producing the signaling of molecules to the brain and other bodily

18. Alfredo Sauce < Vegan Pesto

Cream based sauces pack a ton of calories, sodium and the obvious, dairy (typically from conventional cows). Pesto is a great upgrade, using nutritional yeast in place of cheese – don’t worry if you’ve never heard of this. Once you use it, you’ll be hooked, just like me.
A friend of mine made this for me the other night on top of salmon and it was delicious! She said it was super easy too and I believe her. I can’t wait to make it myself!

 Vegan Pesto

  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh basil
  • ½ cup raw, unsalted pine nuts
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt and fresh pepper, to taste
  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor and store in an airtight container up to 5 days. Enjoy on fish, chicken or as a dip for veggies.
Image Source: Choosing Raw

19. French Fries < Sweet Potato Fries

Potatoes get a bad rap. There’s nothing wrong with potatoes, in moderation. But sweet potatoes are where it’s at when you’re looking for a nutrition powerhouse in the carb community!
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin B6, which helps reduce homocysteine in the body, which has been linked to disease and heart problems.
They’re also a great source of vitamin C, contain vitamin D and iron and provide magnesium – a mineral that roughly 80% of the population are deficient in, often unknowingly.
And while they are sweet, their sugars are released slowly into the bloodstream, helping to keep blood glucose levels balanced, providing a good source of energy without spikes and dips.

20. Conventional Beef < Grass-Fed Beef

Skip the hormones and chemicals and opt for a pure, organic option. Full of protein, vitamins and minerals, grass-fed beef is an easy option to add to your families menu.

21. White Rice < Cauliflower Rice

This cruciferous veggie has been linked to cancer prevention due to it’s nutrient support to 3 body systems closely related to cancer – detox system; antioxidant system; and inflammatory/anti-inflammatory system. Imbalances in any of these systems can increase the risk for cancer, but this awesome veggie supports them all!
>>> here’s an easy recipe

22. Potato Chips < Kale Chips

Trans fats are at the core of those addicting, salty, potato chips. Ditch them! Grab for a healthy upgrade with kale chips, which contain protein, fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate and omega 3 fatty acids. The best part is, you can season them however you’d like! Use nutritional yeast for a “cheesy” flavor, or cayenne for a little punch.
>>> here are some easy kale recipes

23. Cheese and Crackers < Apple and Nut Butter

Why not ditch the typical American snack and try something with more fiber and protein that will keep you full longer, give you the sweet and salty flavor you love and be good to your waistline!
>>> click here for how to make your own almond butter

24. Snack Bar < Handful Raw Almonds

Most of the store bought bars are nothing but sugar, gluten and fillers. Instead, grab for a handful of raw almonds, which will tide you over until your next meal while keeping your mind sharp and your blood sugar balanced.

25. Conventional Dairy < Kefir

Added hormones, yuck! Conventional dairy is full of it as well sugar. Kefir though, is full of beneficial bacteria to support a healthy gut and immune system. It can even help those with lactose intolerance begin to tolerate lactose again!
Try organic goat’s milk kefir with turmeric powder! This drink is anti-inflammatory and so good!

26. Croutons < Toasted Nuts

Packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals, toasted nuts are a no brainer atop salads. Some nuts are healthier than others, some of the best options being walnuts (brain health), almonds and Brazil nuts (a great source of selenium).

27. Ice Cream < Frozen Banana

This is one of the easiest swaps! Peel and chop 1 banana (or more) and lay on parchment paper on top of a cookie sheet. Freeze. Once frozen, add to a food processor alone or with cacao powder and blend. Enjoy immediately (doesn’t freeze well).
Plus, bananas are a great source of potassium, which is said to decrease the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
They’ve been said to help with depression due to high levels of tryptophan, which is converted to serotonin – the “happy”, “feel good” neurotransmitter in the brain!
Fun fact: 95% of your serotonin is stored in your gut so keeping your gut healthy makes you happier!
They’re great for energy, may help reduce muscle cramps and PMS symptoms. They’re also great if you’ve got diarrhea, as they are soothing to the digestive tract and provide electrolytes to aid in nutrient absorption.

28. Canola Oil < Coconut Oil

Canola oil is made from the rapeseed and  is one of the highest GMO crops, making it a terrible choice when it comes to cooking your super healthy food in! Coconut oil is a superfood in its own right, as it packs a powerful punch when it comes to all the nutrients it contains. Containing beneficial MCT’s – medium chain triglycerides – coconut oil is a great choice for cooking with as it can be heated at any temperature without becoming rancid (one of the very few oils that can say that!).
Coconut oil can help you BURN MORE FAT (you read that right!) and increase energy expenditure by as much as 5%.
It’s considered an anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and can improve blood cholesterol levels as well as potentially lower the risk for heart disease.
This healthy MCT oil is great for brain health and immunity!

29. Milk Chocolate < Dark Chocolate

Milk chocolate = sugar and dairy. Whereas dark chocolate – over 70% cacao – is actually good for you! Quality, high cacao chocolate contains fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and other minerals. It’s full of antioxidants, which protect you from free radicals – one of the things that lead to disease. It’s also thought to be good for your brain!

30. Cake or Cookies < Fresh Fruit with Cacao Nibs and Coconut Milk

Gluten, sugar, dairy – you know by now if you’ve been watching and/or reading my info for a while now that these 3 components are no-no’s in my book. They lead to inflammation, disease, gut troubles, decrease immunity, increase brain fog and for many, cause skin issues and so much more
Grab some antioxidant rich berries, a handful of cacao nibs and a splash of unsweetened coconut milk and you’ve got yourself a sweet treat, without the guilt!
As you can see, there are a lot of upgrade options to your common foodie favorites. And these are only the tip of the iceberg, my friend. Commit to your health and swap some of your not-so-healthy habits for 1 – or more! – of these. You don’t have to incorporate them all. Try 1 and add more in as you’re ready. Consistency is key in cultivating healthier habits and over time, it will come naturally!

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

5 Cancer Causing Foods You Should Never Eat

Eating clean means eating healthy food in it’s natural state which has been as minimally processed as possible. The following foods are not only not clean, but they can actually cause illness in the body. Here are 5 foods you should absolutely eliminate from your diet immediately:

1. Processed meats. Processed meats include lunch meat, bacon, sausage, and hot dogs. They contain the chemical preservatives sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, which have been linked to an increased risk of colon and other forms of cancer. If you eat any processed meats, choose only ones that are uncured and made without nitrates,  preferably from grass-fed sources (

2.  Microwave popcorn. Although they’re convenient, those bags of microwave popcorn are lined with chemicals that are linked to causing not only infertility but also liver, testicular, and pancreatic cancers. The U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognizes the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in microwave popcorn bag linings as “likely” carcinogenic, and several independent studies have linked the chemical to causing tumors. Similarly, the diacetyl chemical used in the popcorn itself is linked to causing both lung damage and cancer (

3.  Soda. Soda is loaded with sugar, food chemicals, and colorings. Soda also acidifies the body and literally feeds cancer cells. Common soda chemicals like caramel color and its derivative 4-methylimidazole (4-MI) have also specifically been linked to causing cancer.  (

4.  Farmed salmon. Farmed salmon is another high-risk cancer food. Farmed salmon not only lacks vitamin D, but it is often contaminated with carcinogenic chemicals, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), flame retardants, pesticides, and antibiotics

5.  Hydrogenated oils. Also known as trans fats, these oils are commonly used to preserve processed foods and keep them shelf-stable. Unfortunately, hydrogenated oils alter the structure and flexibility of cell membranes throughout the body, which can lead t
o a host of debilitating diseases such as cancer. 
See More.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Jamaican Tuna Plant and its Benefits

The Tuna Cactus, tasted /eaten raw is not extraordinary in taste, but is allegedly extraordinary in health benefits ( please watch out for miniscule stickers when you prepare it at home )! Only the Prickly Pear Nopal Cactus superfruit Opuntia Ficus Indica contains all 24 known betalains, a group of rare and potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants that heal.

The Nopal has been used since ancient times for food and many different medicinal purposes. It grows all over jamaica and is actually cultivated around the world, Nopal cactus is generally believed to be indigenous to North America, particularly Mexico. Not only for the Mexicans it is an important food source and is such an integral part of their culture that it appears on the Mexican flag. We at Harmony Gardens use the leaves and pickle them into a tasty peppersause himalayan salt brine and after aprox. 1 week soaking in there they are ready to be enjoyed ! We add then actually to all our dishes as it taste really delicious.

Nopal cactus as food
The Nopal cactus consists of fleshy oval pads, dark-colored fruit and in certain seasons, colorful flowers. The pads are called “nopalitas” and once stripped of their spines can be added to a variety of food dishes. They can be used fresh in salads, grilled, pickled, sautéed and even be used as filling in tacos and enchiladas. The Cactus leaf/ pads provide a great amount of beta carotene, iron, some B vitamins, vitamin C and calcium.

The little redish cactus fruit,of the “tuna,” averages 2 to 4 inches in length and is shaped like an avocado has a sweet and juicy flesh can be eaten fresh or cooked. Pads and Nopal cactus fruit are good sources of dietary fiber to keep your colon always in good shape .

Stay always young whith Nopal Cactus Nopal Science Researchers at the University of Palermo reported in the August, 2004, edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that consuming prickly pear had a positive and complete effect on the body’s redox (oxidant/antioxidant) balance: "Our findings of improved body redox status suggest major benefits from diets including cactus pear, which may reduce the risk of age-related and degenerative diseases in which the level of body oxidative stress may play a pathogenic role."
Potential Health Benefits of the Leaves
are made into an herbal infusion and consumed to help relieve constipation, reduce fevers and combat menstrual problems. The flesh of the cactus leaves are sometimes applied directly to minor cuts, burns and musculoskeletal injuries to stimulate healing and reduce pain, which is similar to how the aloe vera plant is used. Furthermore, the fresh sap from the cactus leaves is used as a natural cleaning shampoo and to eliminate dandruff and other scalp problems. The Prickly pear juice and tea contains a variety of nutrients and has been used as an indigenous medicinal plant for hundreds of years, and was always recommended for lowering blood glucose and cholesterol levels! You can prepare a drink from the pealed and cut up leaves and soak them in spring water for 3 hours. strain it into a glass and drink it every morning on an empty stomach for best results! Diabetes The Nopal cactus has long been used in traditional Mexican folk medicine for treating diabetes for lowering blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, and American Indians used it for treating burns and skin irritations.
Some recommendations on Identification and Dosing
According to the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, or NMCD, nopal cactus has been studied for diabetes in daily doses of 100 to 500 g of broiled stems, divided into three equal amounts and taken throughout the day. For treating benign prostatic hypertrophy, 500 mg of dried powdered flowers are taken three times daily, reports the NMCD. Nopal cactus is also used for obesity, high cholesterol, colitis, diarrhea, viral infections and benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH. Other uses include alleviating inflammation and constipation. Some use a specific nopal cactus extract five hours before drinking alcohol to prevent a hangover. Effectiveness. Nopal cactus is also possibly effective for relieving symptoms of hangover from alcohol, especially nausea, loss of appetite and dry mouth. Considerations :Nopal cactus is considered as safe when taken in medicinal amounts for a short time, reports the NMCD. However, nopal cactus should be avoided within two weeks of surgery and during pregnancy or lactation.

Nopal cactus fruit as health aid
Traditionally, Nopal cactus fruit was used by indigenous peoples as medicine for a variety of health conditions. More recently, scientific research has show that when eaten, the Nopal cactus fruit can help protect the immune and nervous systems and protect against oxidative stress.

Nopal cactus fruit has been used for food and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Recent research on Nopal cactus fruit has shown a variety of health benefits.

Helps protect the immune system
Helps protect the nervous system
Helps protect against oxidative stress
The perfect Anti-inflammatory properties
Antioxidant properties

Research unveiled that Nopal cactus fruit has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, thanks to rare and potent nutrients called betalains. Betalains are bioflavonoids in the quercetin family. Quercetin has been shown to protect against inflammation related to free radicals (unstable molecules in the body). Nopal cactus fruit is a rich source of quercetin. There are 24 known betalains in nature; some are found in beets and Rainbow Swiss chard, but Nopal cactus fruit contains the most concentrated amount of betalains found in nature.

Try Nopalea for yourself
Now, the power of the Nopal cactus fruit is available in Nopalea. Its nutrients can help the body reduce inflammation, detoxify and promote optimal cellular health. People who have consistently taken Nopalea have reported a variety of health benefits, including reduced aches and pains.

"People have been using the fruit and pads of prickly pear cactus for medicinal purposes for thousands of years," says Patti Milligan, corporate nutritionist for Sprouts markets in the Valley. "Then the science follows, and guess what? It makes sense."

The prickly pear fruit (known as tuna in Spanish) is a rich source of the mineral magnesium and the amino acid taurine, nutrients often cited as important to brain and heart health, she says.

It's also rich in flavonoids, antioxidants credited with keeping arteries healthy.

Raul Puente, curator of the living collection at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, says researchers in Mexico City added prickly pear pads - vegetables that taste like green beans and are slimy like okra, he says - to the diet of diabetics.

"After several weeks," he says, "they discovered that the level of glucose in the diabetics' blood was much lower than it was for diabetics in the control group, who didn't get nopales."

Puente, who wrote his college undergraduate and graduate theses on the prickly pear, continues to research the cactus.

In his native Mexico, prickly pear pills and powders are widely available, but the cactus is cultivated mainly as a source of food and appears to bestow the most health benefits when consumed in that form.

The low-calorie fruit is high in vitamin C, calcium and potassium, Milligan says, and has little sodium and no cholesterol or saturated fat. Poultices made from the cactus long have been used in some cultures to fight infection and speed healing of wounds, processes aided by the high vitamin C and flavonoid content.

"Prickly pear is a good source of fiber, too," she says, "and we all need more of that. It's similar to the soluble fiber that has been shown to sop up cholesterol. Interesting is that " The American Heart Association" has done research using the prickly pear to help manage cholesterol levels."

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7-Day Menu for Spring Allergy Season

(Taken from

Spring allergies got you down? Research suggests that following the right diet may help ease allergy symptoms in some people.
For example, clear soups can help thin mucus and clear nasal passages. Some studies suggest that the probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus strain L-92, often added to yogurt or milk, may help ease Japanese cedar-pollen allergy. Vitamin C may help minimize many spring allergy symptoms.

Recommended Related to Allergies
At last, the first warm days of spring! Time to open the windows, pack away the winter coats, get out in the garden -- and head to the pharmacy to stock up on allergymedications. If you greet the arrival of spring each year with a stuffy nose and watery eyes instead of a happy heart, it's time to take a new look at your seasonal allergies. You may have been struggling with spring allergies for years, but that doesn't mean you can't learn a few new tricks about coping with them. With the help of...

WebMD turned to two nutritional experts for their advice on foods to help you fight allergy symptoms:
  • Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, mother of a child with bad seasonal allergies and spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association
  • David Leopold, MD, director of integrative medical education at the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in San Diego
The meals in this 7-day menu plan feature foods high in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients that our experts say may help ease inflammation and minimize complications of hay fever.
Even better, these healthy foods benefit your body in many other ways: boosting heart health and strengthening your immune system, too.
(picture from

Day 1: Meals for the Spring Allergy Season
Breakfast: Homemade or low-sugar instant oatmeal made with skim or 1% acidophilus milk fortified with vitamin D, kiwi halves or orange wedges, and a cup of freshly brewed coffee or tea.
Lunch: Roasted turkey sandwich with light cream cheese and cranberry sauce on whole wheat bread, 3-Bean salad with light vinaigrette (made with canola or olive oil), plain or light yogurt (with active cultures) with frozen strawberries or raspberries stirred in.
Dinner: Teriyaki Salmon with a side of steamed brown rice and broccoli served with a cup of hot miso soup (or other broth-based soup).
Acidophilus milk is regular cow’s milk, but it has the probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus acidophilus, added to it. The miso soup, along with other warm broths and teas, can help loosen mucus and ease congestion.
Salmon is one of the best food sources of the potent omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA. Gerbstadt recommends fitting in fish three times a week for these anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Studies have suggested the consumption of fatty acids reduce inflammatory markers and may improve lung function. More research, however, is needed.
Day 2: Meals for the Spring Allergy Season
Breakfast: Peach smoothie made with frozen or canned unsweetened peaches, banana, and yogurt with active cultures, hot green or black tea.
Lunch: Vegetarian pizza (with garlic, onions, mozzarella cheese), fruit salad (red grapes, apples, cherries, or pears).
Dinner: Chicken (or lean beef) and vegetable stew served with a whole grain roll or crackers and a glass of skim or low-fat milk with active cultures.
All of the fruits (except bananas) and some of the vegetables in today’s menu (garlic, onions) are rich in quercetin, a flavonoid phytochemical that has reported antihistamine properties -- good for nasal congestion.
Drinking warm fluids from tea or broth or tomato-based soups can help soothe throats and relieve sinus congestion.
Day 3: Meals for the Spring Allergy Season
Breakfast: Honey-wheat raspberry pancakes (stir frozen raspberries into pancake batter), freshly brewed coffee or tea or hot chocolate.
Lunch: Salad Nicoise made with albacore or solid white tuna canned in water, potatoes and tomatoes tossed with a light vinaigrette featuring olive or canola oil, red grapes.
Dinner: Spicy lean beef (or chicken) enchiladas made from steamed corn tortillas or tortillas lightly coated with canola oil and shredded Jack cheese, steamed summer squash.
This menu gives a second fish serving for the week and several produce items that contribute antioxidants including, vitamin C (berries, potatoes, tomatoes, kale). Using vegetable oils that are higher in monounsaturated fat and/or omega-3s and lower in omega-6 fatty acids (like canola and olive oil) may benefit people with asthma.
Spicy ingredients in the enchiladas (cayenne pepper, onions, or garlic) may help thin mucus and clear nasal passages. Use Jack cheese instead of cheddar. Aged cheeses may contribute dietary histamine and possibly provoke allergic symptoms. Other foods thought to contain high concentrations of histamine include sauerkraut, wine, and processed meat, although Leopold says sulfite-free wine is probably fin
Seee More of the Menu here:

6 Remedies For Seasonal Allergies

(Taken from Search Herbal Remedy)

Itchy watery eyes, wheezing, runny nose and sneezing are some of the most common symptoms of seasonal allergies. Such allergies are usually caused by the pollen in the air, which comes from various shrubs, flowers, grass and trees. Though there are lots of prescription and over-the-counter antihistamines available out there, but most of them fail to cure the root of the problem; instead, they just suppress the symptoms - See more at:

That is the reason why herbal remedies are getting more popular to treat seasonal allergies. Following are some of the most popular herbal remedies used to strengthen your immune system and to improve your body’s ability to fight against allergies.

  Remedies for Seasonal Allergies

 Yarrow, Licorice and Astragalus
Grind one part yarrow, one part licorice root, one part elder flowers, one part Astragalus root, two parts alfalfa leaves and four parts nettle leaves together thoroughly until they turn into fine powdered form. Store it in an airtight container. Prepare a herbal tea by taking one tsp. of this mixture and by steeping it in eight ounces of boiling water. Sip the tea hot, one cup, three times a day. It improves your respiratory functions by alleviating congestion and inflammation, which are the root causes for seasonal allergies. - See more at:

Apple Cider Vinegar
Add 1 tbsp. of raw, organic apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. of local raw honey in one cup of warm water. Drink this mixture warm, 2-3 times daily. It can be particularly more beneficial when taken right before going outside, such as in the morning before you leave for work. It reduces inflammation and blocks the histamine reaction of your body.


Essential Oils
 Add three drops of rosemary essential oil, 1-2 drops of tea tree oil and four drops of eucalyptus oil in a saucepan. Fill it with water. Then, bring it to boil at high heat. Turn off the heat after fifteen minutes. Inhale its steam deeply for five to ten minutes. For faster relief from the symptoms of seasonal allergies, consider draping a large towel over your head.

Stinging Nettle
   Stinging Nettle Herbal Tea. Nettle is a natural anti-histamine agent. You can prepare a very effective herbal tea to treat seasonal allergies by steeping one teaspoon of the crushed dried nettle leaves in one cup of boiling water for twenty minutes. It is safe, healthy and very beneficial in clearing nasal passages and congestions in the respiratory tract. - See more at:


The dried flowers and leaves of goldenrod can also be used in a similar way to prepare a herbal tea. You can drink one cup of goldenrod tea, 3-4 times a day. To enhance the taste of the tea, consider adding peppermint leaves. This herbal tea contains antiseptic, anti-catarrhal and anti-inflammatory properties that can be very helpful in soothing upper respiratory tract and mucus membranes in the throat – the two main target areas that are usually affected with seasonal allergies.
Elderflower Mix one or two teaspoons of crushed elderflowers in one cup of water. Boil it at high heat for 10-20 minutes. Gargle with this herbal decoction, once or twice daily. Alternatively, you can also sip it as a tea. For optimum benefits, you must take certain precautions while using the above-mentioned herbal remedies for seasonal allergies. For example, you should follow a non-allergic diet and avoid common food allergens like excess sugar, dairy and wheat products. - See more at: