6 Small Changes That Will Transform Your Health

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Ever feel like you’ve fallen too far off the wagon when it comes to your health? Or feel like it would take a miracle to get you back on track with your goals? Fortunately for you, wellness doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing experience. And contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to completely overhaul your lifestyle to gain more energy, balance your hormones, and heal your gut. Small changes can make a huge difference in your health and well-being. Let’s dive into six small changes that can make a real difference in how you feel every single day:

1. Establish a morning ritual.

Start the day off by completing one simple task and you’re likely to complete others later that day. This could be something like reciting a positive mantra every morning before you head out the door, completing a five-minute morning stretch routine, reading one chapter in a non-work-related novel, or simply making your bed!

Did you know that making your bed in the morning may just be the world’s easiest success habit? It starts a chain reaction of other productive habits throughout the day. In fact, Navy SEAL William H. McCraven stated, “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed. If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.”

2. Have a high-protein breakfast.

Fewer than six hours of sleep per day is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation and worsening insulin resistance, as well as increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This is a profound finding as a recent cross-sectional study demonstrated that almost one-third of U.S. adults get less than six hours of sleep. Complete proteins (think clean animal meats, eggs, tempeh, or even a quality protein shake) will increase chemicals in the brain that not only improve sleep but also improve your mood. This is all due to a little amino acid called tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. Serotonin is our “feel-good hormone” and makes us feel happy and motivated throughout the day. Serotonin then turns into melatonin, which helps us sleep at night! Without that complete protein at the start of the day, this conversion can’t take place, leaving you tired and moody.

3. Drink more water.

We are over 70 percent water, which is the basic medium of our blood, excretion, and metabolism. In fact, just two glasses of water a day reduces the chance of developing high blood pressure by 28 percent. Adequate hydration can also make or break the strength and resiliency of your active lifestyle. Getting enough fluids helps balance your muscle’s ability to contract and relax, maintains mental clarity, stops you from overheating, and keeps your joints lubricated and flexible.

The problem is that most people think they’re already drinking enough water. I encourage you to really dive into this one a little deeper to see the real scenario playing out. Use an app like Daily Water or grab your favorite 20-ounce glass or stainless-steel water bottle and find out how many times you’d have to fill it up to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water every day.

4. Choose to stand.

For the vast majority of our evolutionary history, we’ve had to exert more physical energy in a given day finding food, shelter, and avoiding danger just to survive. There really wasn’t much need to “work out” every day when daily activities provided this natural movement and exercise. Today, things are much different. Many of us are sitting at a desk or sitting in a car for the majority of the day. Yet we know that too much sitting is associated with numerous problems, ranging from weight gain to osteoporosis to cardiovascular disease. Sitting for more than two hours at a time without taking a short break drastically increases these risk factors.

So what can you do about it? Before you go out and buy a fancy standing desk—let’s remember that we’re focusing on small changes that will have a large ripple effect. So if you didn’t read No. 3 above, take another look because we’re doubling up here: When we actually drink enough water throughout the day, it provides a built-in reminder to stand up and walk every couple of hours. If you’re drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water each day, odds are you are going to have to stand up to use the bathroom every few hours. If you’re not, you’re not drinking enough water and if you’re not drinking enough water, you’re not standing enough. Boom.

5. Detox daily.

Your amazing body is continuously detoxing, and it doesn’t need a fancy juice cleanse of magic grapefruit concoction to do its job. However, the way we treat our bodies and what we put in them can either assist this process or add to the already heavy load our liver carries. Two tiny changes in your day can give your liver a much-appreciated boost in daily detoxification.

First, skip the late-night snacks. The liver’s regenerative cycle is between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. If your body is busy digesting food at this time, it disrupts the detoxification process. Aim for a 10 p.m. bedtime and about 12 hours between dinner and breakfast. Second, add lemon to your morning smoothie, daily water, or favorite dressing. Lemon has a phytonutrient called d-limonene that supports the liver detoxification enzymes.

6. Eat something fermented every day.

The bacteria found in your gut comprise approximately 2 pounds of your body weight! This is also where about 70 percent of our immune system is housed. Nutritional science is only just beginning to understand the complexity of the microbiome and just how much it has to do with overall health. But no one can deny that the role of the microbiome in overall health is critical.

As Hippocrates stated, “All disease begins in the gut.” Doing just one small thing to love your gut every day will have a major payoff in terms of increased energy, glowing skin, fewer digestive issues, and a trimmer waistline. Pick two or three fermented foods and incorporate just two forkfuls or a few sips of these daily. Try some sauerkraut alongside some scrambled eggs and guacamole! And remember, a true fermented food will be found in the refrigerated section of the store and will not be made with vinegar—only sea salt and the chosen vegetable and spices.


health · recipes

Immune Boosting Ginger Turmeric Lemon Wellness Shot


It’s that time of year again when the nasty bugs are going around getting us all sick. So what can we do to stay on top of illness and give our immune system a little extra boost when we need it most? Make your own wellness shot of course!

Lemon juice is high in vitamin C, helps to stimulate the gastrointestinal tract, and boosts metabolism while ginger root is an excellent anti-inflammatory that’s also anti-aging and can aid in weight loss. Turmeric is a wonderful spice that can suppress the growth of fat tissue as well as prevent DNA damage and slow down the aging process.

Make a big batch of this at once and freeze it into ice cube trays so you have it ready to go whenever bugs strike. If you don’t have time or the tools needed to juice it, you can get fresh pressed turmeric and ginger juice at your local juice or smoothie shop which makes this even easier to make.


  • 3 lemons (peeled)
  • 2 inch chunk of ginger
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • 1 glass water


1. Juice the lemon and ginger, mix in turmeric powder and water, and pour into an ice cube tray to freeze.

2. Every morning as needed, remove a cube and add hot water. Stir for 30 seconds, and it is ready to drink.


It’s that simple! You can also add some honey to sweeten it up a little plus it adds additional bacteria killing properties, win-win!


9 Signs Your Hormones Are Out Of Balance

Sometimes our bodies send undeniable signals that are too obvious to ignore. Coughing and sneezing with a fever? You’re probably sick with a cold or flu. Red, itchy eyes after playing with a friend’s dog? You might just be allergic to Fido’s fur. But in other cases, the signals our bodies send are much more subtle, and if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you just might miss the very clear message that something needs attention, stat.

Most women don’t know how to spot the signs of hormonal imbalance. After all, we’re often taught that pain and suffering are just a normal part of the female experience. Why would we think to question killer cramps or massive mood swings? Because those things are, in fact, not normal, inevitable aspects of womanhood. They’re just a few clear signs from your body alerting you to a hormonal imbalance.

The good news is, you can address many hormonal issues with the proper food and lifestyle tools and techniques. Here’s what to be on the lookout for, and how to fix it:

1. You have off-the-charts PMS.

Even though it’s called “premenstrual syndrome,” the symptoms of PMS can strike any time between ovulation and menstruation, during the second part of your monthly cycle, also known as your luteal phase. This is when many women feel everything from major bloating to uncontrollable crankiness. This cascade of unpleasant symptoms is usually caused by too much estrogen, low progesterone, and key micronutrient deficiencies.

Try: Eating leafy greens. Members of the brassica family like kale contain indole-3 carbinol, a powerful hormone balancer that promotes estrogen metabolism, which will help eliminate excess estrogen and prevent estrogen dominance.

2. You need the pill to have a “normal” period.

Birth control does not—I repeat, does not—fix your problematic period. The medication uses synthetic hormones to mimic pregnancy and prevent conception, but this blocks your body’s natural rhythms and covers up your natural hormonal imbalance.

Try: Weaning off the pill. The transition may not be easy, so it’s extra important to build a strong foundation of healthy eating and lifestyle habits and find an alternative birth control method for contraception before you quit completely.

3. You’re constantly exhausted.

Tired all the time? So are your adrenals. Those are the endocrine glands that sit above the kidneys and release the stress hormone known as cortisol. If your food and lifestyle habits throw off your adrenals’ normal production of cortisol, you might start feeling the opposite of how you should (e.g., instead of feeling a natural jolt of energy in the morning from your body’s surge of cortisol, you’ll feel sleepy and lethargic, and instead of feeling calm and relaxed and bedtime, you’ll feel wired).

Try: Adjusting your diet. Cut caffeine, which exacerbates symptoms and perpetuates the tired/wired cycle. If you can’t cut it completely, at least reduce it to one cup or less per day. Start the day with a healthy, protein-packed breakfast to balance your blood sugar and improve your odds of staying satiated and energized.

4. You have heavy bleeding with clots during your period.

If you’re changing your pad or tampon every hour, severely staining your bedsheets, or seeing dark purple clots during your cycle, something is up. Specifically, your estrogen levels. Too much estrogen is tied to this type of excessive bleeding, and it could be a symptom of something larger, especially if your periods are painful: endometriosis, fibroids, or ovarian cysts.

Try: Milk thistle. This herb has been shown to help detoxify the liver and even out estrogen.

5. Your skin is breaking out like a teenager’s.

I have spent countless hours covering up acne for the majority of my life. Whether pimples crop up every time your period approaches or you’re coping with the kind of severe acne I had, your hormones are the source of the issue.

Try: Magnesium. Your body’s C-reactive proteins are responsible for causing inflammation. Taking a calcium-magnesium supplement can help lower the amount of C-reactive proteins in your body, and calcium is also part of our tissue matrix—bones, cells, and skin—and very important for skin cell renewal.

6. Your weight is out of control and the number on the scale keeps climbing.

If you’re eating salad after salad and spending hours at the gym but you’re still not seeing results, you might be ready to throw in the towel. But the problem isn’t lack of effort or faulty scale—it’s likely your liver, which is responsible for removing toxins by turning fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble toxins so they can be excreted through your large intestine, kidneys, and skin. When you have a hormonal problem, your liver’s function is compromised and can’t work as efficiently at removing these toxins, so your body holds on to fat-soluble toxins.

Try: Adding lemons and oranges to your water. Citrus fruits contain a compound called D-limonene, which is critical for healthy liver function.

7. Your periods are very light, short, or totally missing in action.

Some women would call this a blessing, but experiencing “barely there” bleeding or no bleeding at all isn’t healthy. A short period (less than three days in length) and only light bleeding can indicate low estrogen levels. If you’ve been crash dieting or restricting your food for a long time, you may have depleted your body of important micronutrients that are necessary for estrogen production.

Try: Adding in more protein. Hormones are made from amino acids, and you can’t get your estrogen up if you can’t make enough of it from your food.

8. You have erratic cravings and crazy binges.

Everyone craves certain foods now and then, but if your cravings are out of control and you find yourself bingeing at various times of the month, your hormones are the likely culprits, and a diet heavy on sugar is the probable root cause. If you consume too much sugar, whether it’s in the form of pasta, bagels, candy, or cola—your body has to churn out a hormone called insulin to break it down. Spikes in glucose and insulin can disrupt ovulation, shutting down your production of progesterone and setting you up for the troublesome effects of estrogen dominance.

Try: Limiting your sugar intake and eating lots of fiber-rich foods that will help detoxify your liver and create more of a specific hormone called FGF21 that has been found to prevent sugar cravings.

9. Your period is brown.

If you’re seeing strange brown stuff at the start of your period, it’s actually oxidized blood that didn’t quite make it out of your uterus during your last cycle. The culprit? Low progesterone. As you already know, too little progesterone can put you at risk for an overabundance of estrogen and other conditions like PCOS.

Try: A chasteberry supplement. Research has shown it affects the production of various hormones in your body, especially progesterone.

If your period is problematic, it’s important to learn what the root cause is. Knowing this will help you get healthy now and prevent disease in the future.


Being Mindful Without Meditation


For much of my life, I battled an internal engine that churned a steady stream of negative thoughts. I looked for relief in every way imaginable and often read that meditation held a powerful key to my true happiness. But every time I sat in lotus position and tried to clear my mind of thoughts, more flooded in. I was convinced I must be doing it wrong.

After years of trying—and failing—to meditate, I finally came to understand that meditation isn’t about white, flowing clothes, a special pillow, incense, candles, or mantras. The objective of meditation isn’t necessarily to achieve nirvana or even inner peace. In fact, the word “meditation” conjured so many clichéd Zen-like images that intimidated me that I started using the word “mindfulness” instead.

The science of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is all about physiology. It’s about doing whatever it takes to bring your attention to the present moment, into your body, and out of your chattering mind. And terms aside, this practice has been shown to have multiple health and brain benefits.

Mindfulness is all about learning how our brains work and using proven techniques to increase calm, focus, optimism, and emotional intelligence. The main way to do this is through breath.

Deep breaths send soothing oxygen to your amygdala, which is like the brain’s alarm clock. When the amygdala is triggered by any stressful situation, it responds with the primal protection reactions of fight, flight, or freeze. Deep breaths also activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest and recuperation.

Sitting quietly with your eyes closed and focusing on something that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, like counting the length of your breaths, helps your brain slip into relaxing alpha wave, which brings on a cascade of health benefits ranging from reducing inflammation to reducing aging.

Um, yes, please.

Trust me, if I can practice mindfulness, anyone can do it.

Here are five simple techniques to get started if you’re meditation-averse:

1. Basic breath.

This is a basic mindfulness breathing technique that will help you keep your mind from wandering back to stressful thoughts. You can do this just about anywhere and will likely experience the calming benefits after just a few minutes. The goal is to breathe evenly and slowly and count during each exhale. Only count up to 5, and then start over. If you find yourself on number 8, 10, or 15, you’ll know your mind has wandered, and you can go back to counting during exhales only up to number 5. You can also keep your hand on your heart if the sensation of your heartbeat helps you to focus on your breath.

2. Square breathing.

Imagine you’re drawing a square in the air. While inhaling slowly to a count of 1-2-3-4, imagine the upward line of a square in the air, or you can actually draw it with your index finger. When your inhale is complete, hold your breath to an equal count of 1-2-3-4 while imaging or drawing the top line of the square in the air. Next, exhale slowly to a count of 1-2-3-4 while you imagine or draw the downward line of the square. Lastly, hold your breath for 1-2-3-4 while you complete the square by imagining or drawing the bottom line across in the air. Repeat this cycle several times, either with your eyes open or closed.

3. Squish and relax.

Lie down with your eyes closed. Squish and squeeze every muscle in your body as tightly as you can. Squish your toes and feet, tighten the muscles in your legs all the way up to your hips, suck in your belly, squeeze your hands into fists, and raise your shoulders up to your head. Hold yourself in your squished-up position for a few seconds, and then fully release and relax. Do this two or three times. It should bring extra awareness to your body and may help you feel more relaxed and present.

4. Use the five senses.

When you home in on your five senses (touch, taste, hearing, smell, and vision), you connect with your body, notice sensations happening in this very moment, and give yourself a mental break. You can have fun and get creative with this with props. Try some aromatherapy oils Like lavender or jasmine for smell, yummy treats for taste, a few beautiful photos for sight, a small, soft pillow or feather for touch, and a favorite playlist for sound. Close your eyes, slow your breathing, and focus on each of your senses, one at a time (or just pick one sense to focus on at a time). The key is to take in each sensation slowly, with nonjudgmental attention.

5. Belly breathing.

Place one or two hands on your belly while you sit or lie down comfortably. As you breathe in slowly and deeply, imagine the breath filling your belly. Gently push your belly outward while you fill it with air with each inhale, and allow your belly to fall when you empty the air with each exhale. Often we breathe in an opposite way to this: sucking our bellies in when we inhale and pushing our bellies out when we exhale. By imagining our bellies filling with air with each inhale instead, we can maximize the amount of oxygen we’re taking into our lungs.

As you start to embrace mindfulness as a daily practice, just think of it as yoga training for your mind. We have to train our minds just like we train our bodies, with regular practice and dedication.



The Best Foods To Eliminate Anxiety


Although anxiety stems from a variety of factors, one thing is certain: Diet plays a very important role. As holistic beings, our mental and physical health are inseparable. How we nourish our bodies, therefore, determines how well we achieve a calmer state of mind.

Most often we hear about the anxiety-promoting effects of too much caffeine, skipping a meal, or too many simple carbohydrates. But what we don’t often hear about are foods that actually reduce anxiety.

Here are some of my favorite foods to help you keep calm and carry on:

1. Beans:

Not only are beans good for the heart, as the saying goes, but they are also good for the nerves. Beans offer a healthy dose of fiber, which slows the digestion process and results in more stable blood sugars. Physiologically, this prevents the body from going on an undesirable roller-coaster ride—one that goes from buzzing to crashing.

Beans are also an excellent source of antioxidants. In fact, they’re right up there with popular superfoods such as berries. So what does this have to do with anxiety? Turns out an antioxidant-rich diet has been found to protect the body from harmful free radicals (which anxiety promotes).

2. Cashews:

Photo: Kim Suddeath

Cashews are a wonderfully versatile nut. They can be made into vegan ricotta, savory or sweet cream sauces, or even energy bites. They’re also a good source of zinc, which is a trace mineral essential for brain function. Zinc is like a behind-the-scenes agent when it comes to anxiety. It’s role is to convert vitamin B-6 to its active form, which goes on to help synthesize serotonin, a neurotransmitter known for maintaining mood balance. Getting enough zinc in the diet, therefore, is essential for mood balance.

3. Yogurt:

Yogurt is a probiotic-rich food. The consumption of probiotics has been shown to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety, according to a recent study. Although the exact reason is unknown, consuming probiotic-rich foods can be a great low-risk strategy to reduce anxiety. Other probiotic-rich foods to include in your regular diet are kombucha, kefir, kimchi, pickles, sour cream, sauerkraut, and tempeh.

4. Asparagus:

Photo: Kim Suddeath

Asparagus extract is used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) as a tonic, cough suppressant, and diuretic agent. More recently, though, the extract has been used in mice to study its effect on anxiety reduction. One study found that asparagus extract was very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Although it may be difficult to find asparagus extract, eating asparagus when it’s in season is a beneficial (and delicious!) alternative.

5. Lemon:

Looking to start a new health routine that can also help ease anxiety? Lemon water is your answer! Abundant in vitamin C, this lovely citrus fruit is known for its powerful antioxidant abilities. In regard to anxiety, vitamin C is quickly used up when the body is under stress. And if there is not enough vitamin C available, this can actually extend the stress response and lead to higher cortisol levels in the body over a longer period of time—so to keep chronic stress away, plenty of vitamin C is required.

6. Salmon:

Photo: Kim Suddeath

Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, an essential fat we must get from our diet. Omega-3s play an important role in brain development and function. Just like zinc, omega-3s are highly concentrated in the brain. Authors in one randomized-controlled study evaluated the effects of omega-3 fatty-acid supplementation on anxiety reduction and found that subjects reduced their anxiety symptoms by 20 percent and also had lower levels of inflammation. To keep those nerves in check, eat at least two servings per week of fatty fish like salmon.

7. Pumpkin seeds:

Delivering almost 40 percent of the daily value of magnesium in just 1 ounce (~¼ cup), pumpkin seeds are another surprising food that reduces anxiety. Most adults are deficient in magnesium, and magnesium is crucial in regulating our internal response to stress. When magnesium is deficient in our diets, our bodies are less capable of reducing the amount of stress hormones released. Next time you’re at the salad bar or preparing oatmeal or making muffins, be sure to add magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds to help fight off stress.

8. Oats:

Photo: Kim Suddeath

Oats are abundant in many vitamins and minerals helpful in reducing anxiety. They contain B-vitamins, magnesium, and fiber, all of which help control stress. Because oats are whole grains containing complex carbohydrates, eating them is a great way to increase serotonin production. And serotonin, as we know, is a major antidepressant and anti-anxiety hormone. Starting the day with oatmeal for breakfast just might be the difference between a stress-reduced or stress-filled day.

9. Dark chocolate:

Easily one of the most exciting ways to manage stress, dark chocolate is an instant mood lifter with benefits to back up its use. Not only does dark chocolate contain antioxidants and magnesium, but it also contains an interesting fatty-acid neurotransmitter called anandamide. Anandamide has mood-lifting effects in the body and has recently been found to reverse stress-induced anxiety in mice. These results suggest that reaching for dark chocolate when we are stressed is not a bad thing and can actually be helpful in managing anxiety.

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