Nutrition

The Collagen Craze: Explore the Health Benefits!

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With the rise in popularity of collagen over the last few years, a lot of clients have been asking how it works, what the difference is between protein powder and collagen supplementation and what brand to buy. So let’s explore the health benefits of collagen!

What is collagen?
In the body, collagen is a protein found in our hair, nails, bones and in our connective tissues such as the skin, tendons and ligaments. Collagen essentially acts as a building block to renew bodily tissues, promote healthy aging and improve joint and bone health. Numerous studies have shown that supplementing collagen has many internal and external health benefits.
Similar to humans collagen is found in the bone, cartilage and hide of cows as well as in fish skin and bones. Vital Proteins, a reputable collagen producer, collects their collagen from the hides of grass-fed, pasture raised cows living off the land in Brazil. “The hides are first cleaned and soaked in hot water to remove the fat. They are then soaked in an alkaline or acid solution to facilitate the release of collagen.” Ok… moving right along from that fun fact ; )

What’s the difference between collagen peptides and protein powder supplementation?
Because collagen is technically a protein it makes sense why there is confusion here. When we’re talking about protein breakdown in the body it’s important to understand the difference between complete and incomplete proteins. There are twenty different amino acids that can form a protein. Our body naturally produces eleven of these amino acids on it’s own. We call these non essential amino acids. The other nine are essential amino acids because the body cannot produce them on it’s own. We must get them from a food source since our we don’t make them ourselves. A protein is considered a complete protein when it contains all nine essential amino acids. We can get these from foods such as whey, eggs, hemp or soy but collagen is not a complete protein.

Most protein powders contain all nine essential amino acids and this is what helps your body build muscle and repair tissue. Collagen on the other hand targets ligaments, tendons, hair, skin and nails. Both are good, they just serve different purposes. So if you’ve been mixing collagen into your coffee, smoothies or baked goods that’s great but it’s not going to help you build and repair muscle like protein powder will.

Also, it’s completely safe to mix your collagen powder with protein powder but of course always consult with your doctor before starting any new supplementation.

What brand do you recommend?
Vital Proteins collagen peptides is a brand I trust, support and use on a daily basis. Click here to buy! I’ve been using their collagen for about a year now and I notice a difference in my skin, specifically hydration and firmness, increased hair and nail growth and less joint pain in my knees after activities like skiing, hiking or high impact strength training. Which is so awesome because knee arthritis runs in my family generations deep so anything I can do now to help prevent a knee replacement in the future is worth the investment!

Happy collagen-ing and let me know if you have any questions!

What Everyone Should Know About Consuming Fat

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Fat is an essential part of our body and consuming enough healthy fats is vital to our cellular and hormonal health. However, decades of misinformation about the healthfulness of fats has made folks steer clear of nourishing fat-rich foods. The truth is eating fat doesn't make us fat. 

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Every cell in the human body requires cholesterol for structural integrity and healthy functioning. When we deprive the body of healthy fats it can lead to poor absorption of nutrients and feeling chronically low on energy.

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WHAT KIND OF FATS SHOULD I BE CONSUMING?
Full fat milk, cheese, butter, yogurt and ice cream is the way to go. The deal is, when we buy fat free or low fat options it’s typically replaced with sugar to compensate for flavor. No fat means no flavor so you’ll generally find more sugar in foods with the fat removed. And when it comes to dairy, buying organic whenever possible is best.

Here are some other examples of foods high in healthy fats:
- Avocados
The avocado is different from other fruits. Most fruit contains primarily carbohydrates. Avocados are loaded with “the good kind of fat.” The oleic acid, potassium and fiber make avo’s an excellent source of fat.
- Fish
This includes fish like salmon, trout, cod, tuna, mackerel and if you can stand it sardines. These are all loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, high quality proteins and all sorts of important nutrients. Research shows that people who eat fish tend to be healthier, with a lower risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and other common diseases. If you’re not into fish for whatever reason then taking a fish oil supplement can be useful.
- Cheese
Best news for cheese lovers! Cheese (in moderation) is actually incredibly nutritious. It is a great source of vitamins, minerals, quality proteins and healthy fats. I find that adding cheese into salads or in an egg scramble is a great way to boost fat intake or if we’re having friends over going big with the whole cheese board is an easy win ;)
- Nuts
Nuts are high in healthy fats and fiber, and are a good plant-based source of protein. Healthy nuts include almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts and so many more!
- Chia seeds
Chia seeds are generally not perceived as a "fatty" food. However, about 2 tablespoons of chia seeds actually contains 9 grams of fat and the majority of the fats in chia seeds consists of the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Organic virgin olive oil

Out of all the healthy fats and oils in the diet, extra virgin olive oil is the king. Olive oil is packed with monounsaturated fats (the healthy fat) and has positive effects on cardiovascular health. In addition to good quality fat, it also contains vitamins E & K and is loaded with antioxidants.
- REAL grass fed organic butter or ghee
Despite having been demonized in the past, real grass-fed butter is one of the healthiest fats we can cook with on the daily. That yellow brick of fat sitting on the counter is packed with omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, vitamins A, D and K and CLA’s (conjugated linoleic acid). Studies have shown that a diet high in conjugated linoleic acids actually functions to fight against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

WHAT KIND OF FATS SHOULD I BE AVOIDING?
Trans fats. The primary dietary source for trans fats in processed food is “partially hydrogenated oils." Trans fats can be found in foods like baked goods, frozen pizza, crackers, stick margarines, fried foods and vegetable oils. The problem with trans fats is that it raises the bad (LDL) cholesterol levels and lowers the good (HDL) cholesterol levels. When possible, avoiding foods high in trans fats is best. Doing so will decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

5 Ways to Eat Your Way to a Better Immune System

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I’ve been fending off the sickness over this past holiday. Sickness got you down too? 

Here are 5 ways to eat your way to a healthier immune system:

1.) Garlic
Garlic fights viruses, bacteria and fungus to help aid in healing the immune system. To get the most from fresh garlic, chop into halves or quarters and cook in olive oil or butter and a dash of salt. If you’re in a hurry or feeling brave, eat it all by itself or you can mix it in with a pasta sauce or salad dressing.

2.) Tea
Many teas are packed with lots of good stuff for fighting colds and boosting the immune system. Green teas, echinacea tea, honey & lemon (sure, throw a shot of whiskey in there! 🍋🍯🥃) and @tradmedicinals Throat Coat are all great options.

3.) Citrus
Citrus is packed with vitamin C which is known for stimulating the production of white blood cells that helps keep your body’s natural defense system in tip top shape. I’m convinced you can put lemon on almost anything 😣 
4.) Mushrooms
I’ve been learning about mushrooms a lot these days and current studies show that mushrooms are straight up magical for our bodies. Mushrooms support our natural immunity and provide nutrients to support every body system from brain to nerves to energy to skin cells.

My favorite mushrooms right now are maitake, shiitake and king oysters. I’ve been picking up the chefs samplers pack from @ballardmarket and cooking with olive oil, creole seasoning and light butter at the very end but another option is toasted sesame oil with soy sauce! 
If you don’t like eating mushrooms there’s this awesome guy @paulstamets doing amazing research in mycology out of the Pacific Northwest. He has amazing mushrooms capsules and products. Check out his stuff! 
5.) Water. Lots of water. Nuff said. 

Eat & Celebrate Well This Holiday Season

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Thanksgiving and Christmas season bring the years greatest temptations to abandon or procrastinate on our healthy eating convictions. I can't help but think of Louis CK's standup on eating habits. He said "the meal isn't over when I'm full, it's over when I feel like crap." Ah Louis CK, he's so honest. I think we all know the feeling but can agree that overeating never actually feels good afterwards. 

Here are 5 tips to help you celebrate and eat well this holiday season:

1.) Focus on what you can eat versus what you can't
When we create that mental checklist of all the things we can't eat it's really easy to get discouraged. Wholesome, nutritious food is a gift from God. He wants us to have a healthy relationship with food. Focus on eating foods that you know leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. 

2.) Have realistic expectations
Study after study shows that simple, sustainable changes end up being the most productive. Don't overcomplicate things. It's easy to get overwhelmed and give up completely. Make one small change at a time and add other adjustments once you've maintained the first modification. 

3.) Commit to a strategy now
I will say with great confidence that it is easier to avoid holiday weight gain altogether than to try and lose pounds after the fact. Whether you want to lose weight, maintain muscle mass, get stronger or fend off a cold, flu or any other sickness make a plan and begin implementing it now, before temptation arrives. 

4.) Eat Clean
Real food is a big topic these days and for good reason.

Avoid:

  • Processed and packaged foods (boxed stuffing, cereal, chips)
  • Refined starches (white bread, white pasta, white rice)
  • Added sugar (sadly most packaged foods have added sugar)

Eat:

  •  Whole fruits and vegetables 
  • Good quality meats, eggs and dairy

    5.) Navigate your sweet tooth
    Sugar is addicting. Indulging in sweets around the holidays is widely accepted, practiced and maybe even encouraged in some homes. I'll admit that indulging a little and then stopping is hard to do especially with so many sweet (pun intended) options to pick from. My recommendation would be to consider avoiding sweets altogether and loading up on all the other nutritious foods instead but of course if you must have something sweet enjoy a carefully chosen dessert. 

    The holidays are a joy-filled and a God-given occasion to feast and celebrate. So go ahead and celebrate but without compromising your health.   

We Believe That When A Person Aligns Their Behaviors With Their Deeper Values True Lasting Change Occurs

OUR BELIEFS

A healthy mind and body are essential to living a full and purposeful life. Wellness By Little provides qualified knowledge, personalized fitness plans, and engaging training experiences that will motivate you to stay on top of your health so you don't ever lose it. There are 7 principles that guide our method for developing fitness and nutrition plans specifically for your needs. You can read about them and our beliefs in this article.

OUR APPROACH

Intentional Listening. Your health needs are unique. Whether you're recovering from injury, trying to lose weight, or planning for a triathlon, we take the time to hear your needs, ask qualifying questions, and build a comprehensive understanding of your story.

Customized Planning. We are certified and educated in numerous fitness and nutritional methods that will be catered to develop a unique plan to achieve your specific health goals, ensuring that it is timely and attainable so that you're being set up for success.

Thoughtful Implementation.  This is the part where we take action and do the hard work. Your custom plan will be consistent, thorough, and focused. Every session starts on time and in an environment where you feel safe and comfortable. We work alongside you to demonstrate techniques, ensure excellent form, and challenge you to push to your full potential.  

Devoted Coaching. During our sessions together we'll be discussing underlying motivators, methods for accountability, and working through any barriers that may be hindering progress. We want to foster a relationship built on trust, where we can go beyond the exercise and develop lifelong healthy habits together. 

Engaged Community. Your achievements are our joy! We want to celebrate your successes, as we take this journey together. While your coaching is a personal one-on-one relationship, we've developed a community that is excited to hear your story and wants to encourage one another to stay active and motivated. 

No Time to Prepare a Lunch? Where I Enjoy Eating Out in Seattle When I'm on the Go!

Although I'm fully satisfied when I bring a lunch with me to work or can stop by home for a lunch break it's not always possible especially when the day is busy with back to back appointments. The fantastic news is that we live in a wonderful city filled with healthy, nutritious and fresh foods right at our fingertips. I wanted to share a few of my favorite pit stops while on the road!

1.) Evolution Fresh (shown above)
I recommend their All greens scramble with eggs, broccoli, kale, lemon tahini and add the avocado and Siracha for an extra kick.
2.) Seattle Salads (www.seattlesalads.com)
You really can't go wrong with any Salad from here. My personal favorite is a shaker salad with quinoa, kale, spinach, gorgonzola, red cabbage, red onion, bacon bits and strawberry mint dressing. 
3.) Whole Foods
They have a fully loaded salad bar, indian style foods, a variety of delicious soups, sushi, taco bowls, freshly made noodle bowls - they have it all! 
4.) Marination Station (Alki, Capitol Hill & SLU locations) 
I love their fish or spicy pork tacos and at $2.75 per taco you can't go wrong. Two tacos and you'll be satisfied. Every taco comes with fresh cabbage slaw and corn tortillas. 

A New Approach to Fitness: Aligning Behavior Change Around Fitness to Your Personal Values

Have you ever set a New Years resolution to get in shape or trained for an event like a triathlon or wedding? Did you succeed in accomplishing your goals because you devised a plan and maintained a routine schedule?

In the world of fitness, there is more information at our fingertips then ever. There are fitness experts, Instagram Fitness Guru’s, ample Crossfit gyms, yoga studios and a variety of classes taught at athletic clubs. While all of this seems to make exercising incredibly convenient for us, we still have difficulty reaching and maintaining our goals.

Rather than sharing a list of exercises you should do to get in shape or posting a photo of some abs you someday hope to have, we believe that when you align your behaviors with your deeper values, true lasting change can occur. This requires a more personal, introspective approach to your health:

1.) List out 3 goals you’re currently working on in order of importance (These can be any health goals. For example: smoking cessation, lose 15lbs, gain 15lbs muscle mass, prepping meals, etc). After each goal, reflect on what has worked in the past and what made it harder to achieve that goal.

2.) Visioning. If you could create a vision statement centered around the ideal person you’d like to be someday, what would it be? Vision statements are intended to be long term being statements that start with “I am.” When you’re done writing your vision give yourself a % of completion for today’s date. 0%= not this person at all 100%= I am this person
Sample Vision Statement: I am a person who stewards my body well by eating in moderation and exercising regularly45% completion on 07/30/15

3.) In the next 7 days what are 3 baby steps you can take to work towards your vision/goals? These goals need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-oriented (or SMART). If I were to take the vision statement from above, a few goals might be:
- I will do in-home strength training workouts on M/W/S for 60 minutes with my trainer.
- On Sunday afternoon I will look at 4 recipes that I can make for dinner M-Th this upcoming week. 
- I will go grocery shopping on Sunday evening for M-Th dinners.  

4.) Lastly, rate your goals on % confidence and % of importance. 
- I will do in home strength training workouts on M/W/S for 60 minutes with my trainer.
            85% confidence / 100% importance 

- On Sunday afternoon I will look at 4 recipes that I can make for dinner M-Th this upcoming week. 
           90% confidence / 80% importance 
- I will go grocery shopping on Sunday evening for M-Th dinners. 
          95% confidence / 100% importance  


If you’re below a 70% confidence, how might you alter that goal to raise your confidence? These goals are designed to be SMART so that you experience small weekly successes that empower you to move closer towards your vision.

Our professional recommendation is to track your progress for 6 weeks. Every week, reflect on your previous weeks goals and reset new weekly goals. At the end of week 6, rate your overall % of completion towards your vision statement. Have you made progress? If so, how does that feel? If not, what were the barriers to change?

Creating your own pathway to success has proven to work for many of our clients. It’s often easier to look at a magazine or the internet and hear how someone else was successful but we are not all the same people, with the same circumstances, with the same goals. Embrace your uniqueness by doing what you know will lead you to personal success when you dig a little deeper!  

What is your blood telling you?

The Truth About Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, Cholesterol and Glucose. 

1. Blood pressure
RANGE: A healthy blood pressure is 120/80. 
INFORMATION: Blood pressure measures the force of blood against the arterial walls. When the heart beats faster or harder than normal and there is an increase in blood volume (mostly due to a diet high in sodium), the force of blood increases therefore raising the blood pressure. Anything above 120/80 can be related with a diet high in sodium (salt). Processed and packaged foods and fast food restaurants offer foods with a high sodium content typically because the food is designed to have a long shelf life so they preserve it with sodium. 
PREVENTION: To decrease blood pressure stay away from fast food restaurants, packaged and processed foods.

2. Heart Rate
RANGES: A healthy heart is 60-80bpm although below 60 is even better if you are a healthy individual. For example, Lance Armstrong’s heart beats 34bpm at rest. 
INFORMATION: If your heart rate is above 80bpm, it means that at rest your heart is working incredibly hard to pump blood to required areas. The long term affects of a heart chronically hard at work can be detrimental. During exercise the heart rate will increase naturally but at rest, the heart shouldn’t have to work hard to do its job of distributing blood.
PREVENTION: Drinking plenty of water can help heart rate stay in the healthy range as well as exercising. 

3. Cholesterol 
RANGES: Total cholesterol in the healthy range is less than 200. HDL healthy range is 60 or greater and LDL 100-129 is considered healthy. Triglycerides should be under 150. INFORMATION: Now most likely you’ve heard about good and bad cholesterol but what’s what and how does cholesterol have an affect on the body? Cholesterol is actually a necessity for multiple functions in the body but excessive amounts of cholesterol have been linked to cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and the risk of stroke. LDL is the bad cholesterol while HDL is the good cholesterol. These two types of cholesterol work synergistically. If HDL is high that will help lower LDL and here’s how. In layman’s terms, HDL is essentially acting a garbage truck, going around and picking up all the excess LDL or plaque within arteries. The more garbage trucks (HDL) your bloodstream carries, the less plaque buildup you will have. 
PREVENTION: The #1 way to increase your HDL count is to exercise. Cholesterol is found in animal derived foods such as meats and dairy. Trying to stay away from dairy and sticking to lean meats such as chicken or turkey will reduce your chances of having high cholesterol. 

4. Glucose
RANGES: A healthy glucose level is 70-100mg/dl in the fasting state. 70-125mg/dl if non-fasting.
WHAT: Glucose levels above 100mg/dl (fasting) means that either there’s too much sugar in the diet or your body can’t efficiently process it, which then causes blood glucose levels to rise. The result of the body not processing blood glucose properly is type II diabetes. 
PREVENTION: By consuming whole grains instead of white or enriched grain/pasta/cereals and by increasing physical activity glucose levels can become more stable.

Why You Should Drink More Water

Did you know that the second your brain realizes that you're thirsty and you think "I should have a glass of water," you are already 4-6% dehydrated? Because the human body is so amazing, it can withstand this state  of dehydration acutely but long term dehydration leads to improper brain functioning, organ failure and milder issues include headaches, muscle cramps, weakness and sluggishness. 

How Much Water Is Enough? 
The average adult needs to drink 3L/day. You probably recognize the REI Nalgene bottle in the picture above. 3L is just about 3 of those a day, 

5 Reasons To Drink More Water: 

  1. Flushes Out Toxins
  2. Improves Skin Complexion
  3. Natural Headache Remedy 
  4. Increases Energy & Improve Productivity
  5. Reduces The Risk of Cramps & Sprains 

Fuel Your Brain For A Better Day

We are all guilty of skipping a meal from time to time but hopefully skipping any meal on a regular basis has not become a common practice. Breakfast especially is the one meal you don't want to skip. There are all the excuses in the world for why people don't eat breakfast but here are a handful of reasons why breakfast should be a morning ritual instead of an irregular occurrence: 

1. Breakfast Literally Means Breaking From A Fast

Overnight the body goes into a fasting state and conserves what energy it's been provided throughout the day. When the body is at rest, it doesn't use as much energy as it would if say you were jogging but regardless these energy stores are depleted over 8 hours of sleep. In the morning the body needs to be replenished with macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and protein) for proper functioning and effectiveness that day.

2. Improve Productivity

Do you often feel a lack of concentration while working/studying? A common reason is because of poor nutrition in the morning. Research studies show that those who eat breakfast improve quality of work, productivity levels, irritableness and concentration.

3. Eat Breakfast, Lose Weight 

A common belief is to skip breakfast in an effort to lose weight but the practice is more likely to cause weight gain than weight loss. Skipping breakfast is strongly linked to the development of obesity. According to research, skipping meals and especially breakfast, can actually make weight control more difficult. Breakfast skippers tend to consume more food than usual at the next meal or snack on high-calorie foods to stave off hunger. 

Here are a few recommendations for a quick and healthy breakfast:

Eggs

Omelet/Scramble or if you're really in a hurry hard boil a couple eggs the night before and take them to go.

Oatmeal

Avoid the pre-packaged high sugar oatmeal packs and go with bulk oatmeal (way cheaper!) and add all sorts of goods including walnuts, pecans, almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut flakes, berries and honey or maple syrup for a sweetener. 

Smoothies

I can't say enough about the power of a morning smoothie. It's a perfect way to add more greens to the diet while still feeling like you're eating dessert for breakfast. For healthy smoothie ideas, click here. 

Yogurt & Granola Parfait  

This is a very quick and easy way to do breakfast and kids love it. If you have dairy intolerance's, replace it with soy or coconut yogurt.

Atherosclerosis & Disease Prevention

WHAT IS IT

Atherosclerosis is the build up of plaque within the walls of your arteries. You’ve probably heard someone say “hardening of the arteries” and that is exactly what atherosclerosis is. There are a couple reasons atherosclerosis is dangerous. The first is that when plaque begins to build up on the inside of the arterial walls there is less room for blood to flow through causing a traffic jam of red blood cells that cant get to where they need to go. Secondly when complications of atherosclerosis advance the plaque that has built up over many decades can rupture causing a thrombus (blood clot within the arterial wall) that will rapidly slow or stop the flow of blood. When blood flow is stopped tissues die and a result of that is a myocardial infarction. AKA: heart attack.

CAUSE

The primary cause of atherosclerosis relates to the diet and specifically a diet high in low density lipoproteins or LDL (the bad cholesterol) and low in high density lipoproteins or HDL (the good cholesterol). Think of LDL not as cholesterol itself but as cholesterol and triglyceride (fat) carriers/transporters. I like to think of LDL as the dump truck that drops off plaque on the arterial walls and HDL is similar to a garbage truck that goes around picking up this excess plaque and cycling it back to the liver for clearance. The more HDL circulating in the blood stream means less chances for plaque to accumulate. 

PREVENTION

What foods have the bad LDL and the good HDL? 
LDL is found in high fat foods such as fast food, red meat, dairy, processed foods and foods high in trans fats. Foods high in HDL are nuts, olive oil, seafood such as salmon, mackerel or halibut, avocados and oatmeal. HDL levels can also increase through exercise!

The Power of Antioxidants

Why are antioxidants so hyped up and what makes them that good for you?

Yes antioxidants are an important element in a daily diet. Foods that are high in antioxidants include fruits such as berries, apples, legumes including red kidney beans and pinto beans and dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and chard.

Antioxidants in these foods help eliminate free radical cells from our body. The body accumulates free radical cells from UV rays, atmospheric pollution, poor nutrition and stress. Free radical cells roam around our body and cause damage to healthy cells. How? Free radical cells are naturally very unstable and have the ability to attack our healthy cells to become more stable themselves but in the process make the cell that they stole from unstable. This process deteriorates our healthy cells UNLESS we consume a diet rich in antioxidants. Think of antioxidants as givers or tree huggers for that matter. They can give back to unstable cells without causing more damage. Essentially antioxidants can be in an unstable state and heal the free radical cells without damaging themselves. The more antioxidant foods consumed the less free radicals running around our bodies so go pick up some berries and let the tree hugger antioxidants do their job!

The facts on natural flavoring vs artificial flavoring

The Code of Federal Regulations (which is considered part of the administrative law and under Title 21 lies the FDA) considers natural flavorings to be anything containing: “the essential oil, oleoresin, essence or extractive, protein hydrolysate, distillate, or any product of roasting, heating or enzymolysis, which contains the flavoring constituents derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, vegetable or vegetable juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, eggs, dairy products, or fermentation products thereof, whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.”

Artificial flavors are chemicals made from scratch by “flavorists” using chemicals in labs. Natural flavors are also made in a lab and have the potential to be more accurate to the real taste of a specific food but messing with any of the above listed ingredients under the FDA guidelines for natural flavorings is expensive and the results are inconsistent. Creating an artificial flavor requires a chemist to control every step of the flavor’s development that in the end costs less and is more consistent. 

In the end both natural and artificial flavorings are made in a lab and you are better off staying away from them. Avoiding foods with any added flavor can be as simple as this: instead of buying club soda or sparkling water that is flavored with natural and/or artificial flavorings, buy plain club soda and add a lemon or lime or whatever fruit flavor sounds good.

How To Navigate The Grocery Store

Shop outside of your grocery stores isles. Have you ever noticed that the isles of your grocery store contain all the packaged goods, processed foods and junk food? The whole foods are located on the outskirts of the isles and this is where you want to be! Visit and become fond of your produce section. Fruits and vegetable are full of micronutrients that you can’t find in processed boxed goods. The closer you can get to the “whole food” meaning from the ground to your plate the more nutrients and quality you’re getting in every bite.

Natural vs Organic Foods

When reading labels there are some consumer marketing techniques that we are unaware of and shock us all. Anything that says “all natural” means it can contain: pesticides, herbicides, toxic heavy metals, toxic fluoride, hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG) and other non natural substances. 

Stating that a product is “all natural” is extremely misleading, so here are the facts. Even if you shop at Whole Foods, PCC, Trader Joe’s or your local grocery market with a natural section beware of these “natural” products. Natural is not organic and has no guideline to be coined the term “natural” except for that it once came out of the ground. Whatever happens between the growing process and to your table is not regulated by the USDA. 

Anything listed as “made with organic…” means that only 70% of the ingredients have to be organic and it cannot use the USDA organic label. 

Anything that has the green or black USDA organic label means that 95% of the ingredients are organic. Non-organic ingredients are allowed in the remaining 5% excluding salt and water. Anytime you see the green USDA organic stamp, you can be assured that the organic product was made without the use of pesticides, herbicides, GMOs, antibiotics or artificial growth hormones. 

If you read a label that says “100% organic” it means exactly that. USDA can certify that every last ingredient is organic.

The Power of Garlic

Garlic has many medicinal properties including being an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antimicrobial food. Garlic also is known to lower LDL, the bad cholesterol, prevent atherosclerosis, also known as plaque build up in arteries and it can mildly lower blood pressure by dilating or expanding blood vessels. The slogan “food is medicine” is very prevalent here. 

I learned a lot about the benefits of eating garlic from my biochemistry teacher Dr. Gowsala at Bastyr University. Ever since then I’ve eaten garlic right at the first sign of getting sick and have prevented the cold every time except once. That’s one cold in 3 years! To understand how permeable garlic really is my teacher Dr. Gowsala had a student from years before take garlic cloves and put them inside their socks overnight (I know, a little weird) and in the morning, the student said they could taste the garlic in their mouth. Garlic is easily absorbed by the body, which might be why it’s so effective at aiding in infection, virus’s and inflammation. 

You’re probably wondering how to prepare it? It’s very easy. If you’re a garlic lover pick up a bulb of garlic and use as many cloves as you want. I usually do about a half bulb. Take the cloves, whole or cut in half and bake it in olive oil and sea salt for 5 minutes or so. If garlic isn’t your thing, find ways to dilute it but still incorporate it into different dishes like homemade hummus, quinoa salads, pasta’s and vegetable stir fry’s. 

Always purchase the fresh bulb of garlic versus a container of garlic or garlic in the spice isle. The fresher the garlic the more nutrient dense, quality garlic you’ll consume.

3 Food Groups to Buy Organic

If you’re going the organic route, here’s 3 food groups I would spend the extra money on by buying organic. Going organic does cost more up front but the long term health benefits are invaluable. 

1. PRODUCE

Fruits and vegetables have penetrable skins which means not only are pesticides and herbicides coated on the outside but carried into the membranes of fruits andvegetables. Although washing the outside of your fruit may remove some of these pesticides and herbicides, the body still ingests many toxic chemicals that shouldn’t be consumed in the human diet. 

List of fruits and vegetables to buy organic: 
Apples
Berries
Grapes
Peaches
Celery
Spinach
Bell Pepper
Potatoes
Cucumbers
Lettuce

List of fruits and vegetables that are lower in pesticides and okay to buy non-organic: 
Grapefruit
Pineapple
Mangoes
Onion
Avocado
Asparagus
Eggplant
Squash
Corn 

2. DAIRY

Animals raised on organic farms are not allowed to be fed antibiotics, the bovine human growth hormone (rbGH), or other artificial drugs. Animals are also not allowed to eat genetically modified foods (GMO’s). USDA certified organic dairy products ensure that the animal lived in a healthy environment, was fed organic feed, and often eat a wide variety of foods rather than animals raised in factory farms.

3. MEAT

USDA certified organic meat means that the animals were fed with 100% chemical free grasses or grains, the animals were never given antibiotics, growth hormones or fed other animal byproduct and the animals were given access to an outdoor environment. Another big reason to buy organic meat is that cloned meat is currently out on the market and the only way to know that you're not eating meat that was cloned is to buy organic. Cloning is a relatively new concept in food science and scientist don't know what the true health risks are so don't take the risk in eating meat that has been cloned! Always be a smart shopper and know that meat labeled as 100% “natural” does not mean it’s organic.