Category Archives: Nutrition

DIY Candida Cleanse

“Marinated Kale Salad-2” by Jules is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut.” 

Many people have a problem with Candida due to poor diet and lifestyle. You could argue that the majority of Americans have a problem with candida, and it’s important to understand the relevant health issues as well as how to properly address it.

Candida is yeast and bacteria that live in our gut. It is what we consider the “bad bacteria.” We also have “good bacteria” in our gut, which promotes a good immune system and healthy digestion. When we have higher amounts of candida than we have good bacteria – a candida overgrowth – it can cause serious health issues.

Some common health problems associated with candida overgrowth are:

  • Autoimmune disease
  • Asthma and allergies
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Depression and Anxiety
  • Skin rashes and acne
  • Digestive disorders (Crohn’s, IBS, etc)
  • Yeast infections
  • Hormonal imbalances

These are just to name a few…

 

How does someone develop candida overgrowth?

Candida feeds off of sugar and yeast. Eating foods high in refined sugars, high in carbs, and processed foods all contribute to candida overgrowth. Not eating enough foods that contain good bacteria also contributes to the problem. Taking antibiotics, birth control pills, and steroids all create an imbalance of bacteria in the gut.

 

How can I tell if I have a candida problem?

If you’ve eaten a conventional American diet throughout your life, you likely have a problem with candida. However, there are a couple of other clear indicators. If you have a white film on your tongue in the morning, this is often an indicator of candida overgrowth. Nail fungus can also be a sign of candida. You can conduct a “spit test.” Fill half of a glass with room temperature water. First thing in the morning, spit a dime-size amount of saliva into the glass. It should float at the top. Check it several minutes later. If the spit sinks, starts to form strings hanging from it, or you see a cloudy residue at the bottom, it indicates candida.

 

How do I get rid of candida overgrowth?

Doing a candida cleanse can help kill off the bad bacteria and help rebuild healthy bacteria in your gut.

 

There are two steps to a candida cleanse:

  1. Kill off the candida
  2. Add good bacteria

 

Killing off the candida:

  • Eliminate foods that feed the candida: 
    • Eliminate anything with sugar. No artificial sweeteners either. 
    • Avoid natural sweeteners (maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, agave). Stevia is ok.
    • Eliminate foods with yeast (bread, crackers, pasta, etc).
    • Avoid fruit (berries other than strawberries and apples are ok in small amounts).
    • Avoid starchy vegetables (potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, other root vegetables, etc).
    • No alcohol.
    • Avoid dairy.
    • No processed food.
    • Take supplements that kill bacteria, yeast, and fungus at breakfast and lunch (garlic, oregano oil, grapefruit seed extract, olive leaf extract). Candida can become immune to a supplement, so it is best to take one for 4-5 days and then switch to a different one. You can rotate with a couple different supplements.

 

Adding healthy bacteria:

  • Eat plenty of fermented, cultured foods that contain natural probiotics (kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented vegetables).
  • Drink apple cider vinegar (I drink it as a “shot” – a tablespoon of vinegar in a shot glass then diluted with water).
  • Add unrefined coconut oil to tea or smoothies (it has anti-fungal properties).
  • Gluten-free grains in small amounts may be alright (brown rice, quinoa, oats). Listen to your body.
  • Eat lots of cooked vegetables (especially dark green veggies). Cooked veggies are easier to digest.
  • Eat lots of protein (chicken, turkey, fish, grass-fed beef, eggs, etc). Make sure they are free of antibiotics and hormones.
  • Take a probiotic with your dinner (raw, refrigerated is best). 
  • Take an L-Glutamine supplement to help heal the lining of your intestines. 
  • Get plenty of fiber to help clean out your colon. Eat ground flaxseed, ground chia seeds, or make chia pudding.

 

Follow this diet and supplement routine for at least two weeks. You may need to go longer if your candida overgrowth is particularly bad. You can slowly start to introduce starchy vegetables and fruits into your diet, and gradually cut back on the antibacterial/anti-fungal supplements. Keep sugar, high-carb, and processed foods out of your diet altogether to prevent candida regrowth. Make eating probiotic foods and drinks a part of your regular diet as well.

 

Die-off:

It is common to experience “die-off” symptoms while doing a cleanse, because of all the toxins flushing from your body. You may feel tired, have a skin breakout, headache, or need to use the bathroom more frequently. However, if you are someone who has not been eating very healthy, I recommend changing your diet to more whole foods 2-4 weeks prior to starting the cleanse. The good news is that the die-off symptom are temporary and usually last 3-5 days. You will then start to feel much better as your body regains balance.

 

The first time I did a candida cleanse was about seven years ago. It was a rough experience. Looking back, I did not approach the cleanse properly. I went from eating a high-processed, high-sugar diet to – wham! – complete candida cleanse. I think it was too much for my body to handle all at once. I broke out in acne all over my face and felt really sick. I had intense sugar cravings, and really struggled to stick to the diet. After having made some healthy lifestyle changes over the past several years, I have found the cleanse to be much more doable, and the die-off symptoms are more minor. It’s a good idea to do a cleanse once or twice per year, even if it is only for a week to keep candida at bay.

Guide to Treating Common Female Hormone Imbalance

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I have shared my personal experience with birth control pills, and my journey to finding natural alternatives. I am pleased to say I have been off synthetic birth control for over six years, using the Fertility Awareness Method to track my fertility and prevent unwanted pregnancy, as well as gaining better balance in my natural hormones.

There are some incredible supplements out there that can help support your body to better balance your hormones. If you have recently gone off birth control pills, suffer from PMS symptoms, or get cystic acne prior to your period (those large pimples under your skin that really hurt), there is likely an imbalance in your hormones.

Hormones are very complex and work together in ratios. We can simplify the most common hormonal-imbalances in women to two primary issues: Low Progesterone or High Androgens.

 

Low Progesterone

Progesterone is one of the female hormones. It has several important jobs. It produces the ovaries, normalizes blood sugar levels, and allows for a healthy pregnancy. It is also naturally prevents anxiety and depression. This is the hormone that naturally increases to induce ovulation, and can be detected by tracking your Basil Body Temperature.

Common symptoms of low progesterone:

  • PMS symptoms (moodiness, bloating, cravings)
  • Painful breasts
  • Headaches
  • Low libido
  • Cystic acne prior to menstruation
  • Mental and physical fatigue
  • Weight gain around your waist
  • Feelings of depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty sleeping

 

How to Treat Low Progesterone:

There is a strong link between chronic stress and low progesterone. When your body is under a lot of stress, it uses the resources normally used to produce progesterone to produce cortisol instead.

  • Lower your stress
    • Practice self-love,
    • Get plenty of sleep
    • Don’t workout too hard too frequently
    • Quit caffeine
    • Reduce the amount of sugar you eat
    • Make sure you are eating enough calories
  • Try taking the herb Vitex (Agnus Cactus or Chastetree Berry) to help support progesterone production
  • Magnesium, B6, and Zinc, and Vitamin C are all needed to support your body in producing progesterone.

Take Fertility Blend for Women by Daily Wellness. This supplement contains Vitex, Magnesium, Zinc, Vitamin B, and green tea. I took it for one month, and right away noticed I had no cystic acne prior to my period. I’ve been taking it ever since!

 

 

High Androgen

Androgens (such as testosterone) are male hormones that are found in both men and women. Androgens are produced in women through the adrenal glands and the ovaries. Androgens are often converted to estrogen, another female hormone. Androgens aid in the functioning of organs such as kidneys, liver, and bone-density.

Common symptoms of high androgen:

  • Acne
  • Excess hair growth on chin or upper lip
  • Hair thinning or balding on scalp
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Irregular periods
  • Blood sugar disorders (such as diabetes or insulin resistance)
  • High blood-pressure
  • High cholesterol

 

How to Treat High Androgen Levels:

Androgens are linked to sebum production in the skin. If the level of androgens are too high in our body, our skin produces too much sebum, which will clog pores and cause a breeding ground for bacteria – leading to acne. Eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates will cause an increase in levels of androgens. Having high levels of “good” estrogens will combat the negative effects of androgens. We also have “bad” estrogen (xenoestrogens) in our body from living in a toxic environment (pollution, eating and drinking from plastic containers, taking synthetic birth control pills, etc).

  • Reduce “bad” estrogen in the body
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol consumption
  • Eat a low-sugar and low-carbohydrate diet (low GI)
  • Use facial oil to unclog sebum in your pores.
  • Try taking a DIM (diindolylmethane) supplement

Estroblock is a supplement containing DIM (diindolylmethane). This is a substance found in leafy green vegetables. DIM works to reduce excess androgens as well as support your liver in removing “bad” estrogens. There has been a lot of hype on the internet over Estroblock, and it has helped many people get rid of their acne. I have used it for about two years, and have found it to be tremendously helpful in keeping my acne at bay. 

 

Balancing your hormones often times requires you to make some lifestyle changes in order to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Simply taking supplements will likely not help much if you are eating a poor diet, not getting enough sleep, and not exercising. Take care of yourself, and start by giving your body the nutrition it needs. 

 

Easy At-Home Remedies for Colds

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It’s that time of year – when it seems like everyone around you is suffering from the cold and flu…and you keep your fingers crossed that you’re not next.

Unfortunately for me, I was.

After suffering from a severe cold the past several days (head and chest congestion, body aches, and fever), I felt inspired to share some natural remedies that helped me get through it and start feeling better. I rarely get sick to this degree –  a recent increase in stress likely caused my immune system to weaken. I am reluctant to take antibiotics due to the issues they cause within the digestive system and the balance of healthy bacteria (which is the core of a strong immune system to begin with!). Therefore, whenever possible, I rely on at-home remedies – and they actually work!

Gargle Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is loaded health benefits! If you are struggling with laryngitis or a sore throat, gargling some apple cider vinegar can help kill bacteria in your throat, loosen mucus, and boosts white blood cell counts. The acid will coat your throat, preventing germs from accumulating. Dilute one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (the one with “the mother”) with a couple splashes of warm water. Gargle, spit, and repeat. You can do this every few hours if you’d like. Your throat will thank you!

Use Hydrogen Peroxide to Get Rid of Ear Infections

Hydrogen peroxide will kill bacteria within your ear and loosen congestion. Lay one side of your head down onto a pillow. Use a dropper to put 1 or 2 drops of hydrogen peroxide into the ear facing the ceiling. Wait 7-15 minutes, then switch sides and repeat.

Use Steam to Clear Sinus and Respiratory Congestion

I remember going to my pediatrician as a child, and she told me that breathing in steam was just as effective as taking an antibiotic. I always remembered that. You can purchase an at-home facial steamer or boil water in a pot. The steam will sanitize your head and chest and break up congestion. Place a towel over your head and facial steamer/ bowl of hot water and breath it in for about 15 minutes. I also added several drops of hydrogen peroxide to boost bacteria-killing power. The steam is also great for cleaning out your pores!

Use a Neti Pot to Clean Your Sinuses

A Neti Pot is a little pot that looks like a cross between a tiny teapot and a genie lamp. You fill it with a saline solution, place the spout in one nostril, and tilt your head to the side as you raise the Neti Pot, causing the solution to flow through your sinuses and out your other nostril. Then you reverse nostrils and repeat. Sounds kind of gross, but it works magic! I use a teaspoon of sea salt and fill the pot with lukewarm water (if the water is too warm, it will burn). If you’ve ever gone swimming in the ocean and had salt-water up your nose, it feels a little like that. The salt will clear away mucus and kill germs.

Drink Detox Tea

Speed up your recovery by drinking a tea with plant and herbs that support your liver to help flush out toxins. Try this detox tea with healing ingredients such as dandelion, burdock root, and ginger. Add some raw honey to help sooth a sore throat. Drinking tea will also help increase your fluid intake and warm your body.

In addition to these at-home remedies, nothing beats getting plenty of rest, eating whole foods, and drinking lots of water. Listen to your body! If your body is telling you to slow down, don’t push yourself to go to work or any other obligations if you can help it. Take care and feel better!

 

Three Must-Have Supplements for Clear Skin

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Looking to improve your complexion, eliminate acne, and feel your best? Inflammation, redness, acne, and uneven skin tone are results of deficiencies in your health and lack of nutrition. In order to improve your skin on the outside, you need to heal yourself on the inside. Topical skin products that promise relief may only temporarily alleviate some symptoms, but to truly make a long-lasting difference in your skin, you need to increase your nutrition. Even when trying to live a healthier lifestyle, it can be difficult to get all the nutrition you need on a daily basis. Adding these supplements to your routine can make a big difference:

Fermented Cod Liver Oil

Fermented cod liver oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids – the healthy fats! It is also especially high in vitamin D and A. It is packed with more nutrients compared to other types of fish oil. When the cod livers are fermented, the nutrients are extracted without being damaged like in other processing methods. The fermentation also allows the nutrients to be more easily digested. This supplement can be a little pricey – but well worth the money since you will get a lot of bang for your buck. Your hair, skin, and nails will GLOW! Green Pastures Cod Liver Oil is a reputable brand, and it comes in yummy flavors!

Probiotics

Probiotics are hugely important for keeping clear skin as well as overall health. “Good” bacteria is needed in your gut to digest food properly and maintain a strong immune system. Many health problems can be linked back to an influx of “bad” bacteria in the gut: yeast infections, acne, diarrhea, constipation – just to name a few. Having too much bad bacteria can result from taking antibiotics and eating too much sugar and breads. We get healthy bacteria naturally from eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, beet kvass, kefir milk, yogurt, and raw apple cider vinegar. However, it can be hard to eat the amount we need daily, so adding a probiotic supplement is a must! Try Garden of Life Raw Probiotics.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is one of the most well-known herbs to help support liver function. The liver is essential to flushing out toxins in the body. Having a healthy liver will heal your skin and keep acne away. Milk thistle contains silymarin, a property which supports the liver by increasing glutathione levels and cleaning toxins out of the blood. It also helps regenerate liver tissue and decrease inflammation. Show your liver some love, boost your body’s healing power, and try taking Pure Encapsulation Silymarin.

Have you tried any of these supplements? What supplements have helped to clear your skin? Please share!

Healthy “Pumpkin Spice” Latte

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With cold weather approaching, and autumn just around the corner the fall-flavor season is nearly here! I am a lover of all things pumpkin, especially a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks. However, all that sugar and caffeine will not do any favors for my complexion or immune system.

Instead, try this warm, yummy recipe originally found on No More Dirty Looks to get your pumpkin spice fix! The main ingredient is turmeric – giving it that pumpkin color.

Here are some of the health benefits of turmeric:

  • Research has shown turmeric to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. It reduces the likelihood of heart attacks, delays diabetes, and reduces heartburn.
  • Turmeric is also cancer-fighting: killing cancer cells, reducing the size of tumors, and increasing the effectiveness of chemotherapy.  
  • Studies also show that turmeric can repair stem cells in the brain, indicating it can be beneficial for those suffering from stroke or Alzheimer’s.
  • Research also indicates turmeric is just as effective for pain as ibuprofen for people suffering from osteoarthritis.

Reduce inflammation, kill cancer, improve brain function, and reduce pain? Sign me up!

Faux Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte:

  1. Heat one cup of unsweetened coconut milk (either on stovetop or in microwave)
  2. Whisk in:
    • 1/4 teaspoon if turmeric powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
    • pinch of black pepper
    • pinch of nutmeg
    • pinch of cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon of honey
  3. Blend it all up with a whisk or frother.

This recipe is free of dairy, gluten, sugar, and caffeine. Deliciousness in a cup – and so good for you!

Why You Don’t Need to Eat Salad

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 “Rabbit” by Teresa Shen is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Don’t get me wrong, you still need to eat plenty of leafy greens (sorry to disappoint if you were hoping that I would suggest never eating vegetables again).

Here is why eating a salad of greens is not as nutritious as you may have thought:

Fruits and vegetables, including leafy greens, contain cellulose. Cellulose is what makes up the plant cell walls. It gives the cell structure, and protects the nutrients and energy stored in the cell. In order to digest cellulose and access all those vitamins and minerals, cellulose must be broken down. Most herbivores have cellulase within their digestive system – an enzyme required to break down cellulose. Other animals, such as cows, also have more than one stomach to aid in breaking down cellulose. Unfortunately humans do not have cellulase or more than one stomach.

Therefore, humans cannot access the nutrients and energy stored in greens. The greens will only act as fiber, and pass through the body.

So why should we try to access the nutrients in greens? Well, they are super-foods – the vegetables that will give you “the most bang for your buck.” They contain vitamins A, C and K, magnesium, iron, and calcium. They remove free radicals in the body and decrease the risk of cancer. Leafy greens are loaded with antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and will reduce cholesterol.

There is hope! There are ways to break down cellulose. You can blend greens into a smoothie using a high-speed blender such as Vitamix or Ninja. Steaming or sautéing your greens can also help break down cellulose.

My favorite way to get more greens in my diet is by making a green smoothie. They are really really simple, and you can change the ingredients so you don’t get bored.


Green Smoothie:

2/3 Fruits (I like blueberries, blackberries, cherries, mangos, peaches, apples, bananas, avocado etc.)

1/3 Leafy Greens (kale, spinach, collards, romaine, baby greens)

I sometimes add rice protein powder such as Metagenics or a large spoonful of cashew butter for protein

Blend with water and you’re done!


The sweetness from fruit masks the taste of the greens – definitely more yummy than a salad!

Word of caution: be prepared to get strange looks from people at work, asking why you are drinking something as green as Shrek.

So if you’re like me and don’t care for eating salad – don’t! Make a green smoothie instead!

8 Tricks to Make Waking Up Easier

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 “Waking Up” by Vgiie is licensed under CC BY 3.0

I never have considered myself a “morning person.” Most of my adolescence and adulthood involved staying up late (sometimes until the wee hours of the morning), sleeping in whenever I could, and dreading early mornings. I started out in college going to night school, and most of my shifts for work began later in the afternoon. I took pride in considering myself a “night owl.”

During the past year, I started a new job that required me to start my shift at 7am. Needless to say, the transition was challenging! Here are some tricks that have helped me wake up easier, feeling energized and refreshed:

1. Go to Bed Early

This seems like a no-brainer, but there are reasons why going to sleep early can be beneficial to your health. Your body has a natural detoxification process during a 24 hour period. Here is how your body is working to cleanse during the night and early morning:

9pm and 11pm: Lymph nodes and blood vessels.

11pm and 1am: Liver

1am to 3am: Gall bladder

3am to 5am: Lungs

5am-7am: Colon (you should empty your bowel during this time – which means you will need to be awake!)

In order for your body to get the full benefits of natural detoxification, you need to be sleeping in order to spend the maximum amount of energy for cleansing. When our bodies are allowed to care for itself the way nature intended, we feel more energized and positive in the morning.

2. Turn Off Electronics

The National Sleep Foundation reports that electronics are being shown to tamper with our natural circadian rhythm. Our bodies naturally wind down and prepare for sleep when the sun goes down, and we become energized with the sun rising. When we spend a lot of time in the evening staring at lit-up electronics, our bodies confuse it with UV sunlight, and we aren’t able to easily prepare for sleep. Eliminating electronics about an hour before bed can really help us get to sleep faster.

You may wonder – what should you do with an entire hour without electronics?? I enjoy reading. There are so many incredibly-gifted writers. Getting lost in a story also helps me get my mind off whatever anxieties from the day are still floating around. You could also take a relaxing bath, listen to soothing music, talk with a loved one, or cuddle with your dog!

3. Drown Out Sound

I am a VERY light sleeper. Every little creak and noise is likely to wake me. I have found using white noise to be very effective in helping with sleep. Some people leave a fan on, purchase a white noise machine, or download a white noise app on their phones. I use an air purifier and turn it all the way up. A loud murmuring noise can resemble the sounds from being in the womb, and can be very relaxing (ever notice how a baby can sleep through the loudest noise, and tend to like the sound of vacuums, lawn mowers, dryers, etc?). For those of you sensitive to sound – give it a try!

4. Take Some Magnesium

Magnesium deficiencies are one of the most common deficiencies in the U.S. The average American diet contains little to no magnesium. Do you have muscle tightness in your back, neck, or shoulders? Cold hands and feet? Muscle twitches? I do – and if you do too – you are probably deficient in magnesium. Magnesium deficiencies include symptoms such as migraines, muscle cramps, fatigue, asthma, anxiety, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, menstrual cramps, and several others.

Magnesium plays a role in staying hydrated, energy production, and – most importantly – the deactivation of adrenaline.  This wonder-mineral helps our GABA receptors (calming neurotransmitters) to function properly. Without GABA working efficiently, we tend to feel anxious, experience racing thoughts, and have difficulty sleeping. It essentially helps our brains to shut-off.

The best part about magnesium? It practically works instantly! Take some magnesium before bed, and you will feel the difference – I promise! My favorite magnesium supplement Natural Calm by Natural Vitality drink powder. It supplies magnesium citrate – one of the most absorbable forms of magnesium. You can also take a bath with Epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). Also try to eat more foods with magnesium such as nuts, collard greens, beans, and sea kelp.

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5. Use Aromatherapy

I strongly believe that our environment plays a large role in how secure, comfortable, and grounded we feel. Colors, textures, scents, sounds, lighting, and the images we surround ourselves with can make us feel energized, calm, confident, etc. Essential oils can greatly affect our moods, including helping us to feel relaxed and at ease. I speak about the dangers of synthetic fragrance here, as well as the health benefits to essential oils. One of my favorite natural oil blends for sleep is Sleep by Essence of Vali. It truly smells incredible, and immediately puts me in a pleasant, easy mood. After using it for several nights, it’s as though I’ve been conditioned to feel sleepy when I use it!

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6. Try a Guided Meditation

Meditation is known for helping with relaxation, quieting the mind, and decrease insomnia. There are several apps you can download that provide a guided meditation. My favorite is iSleep Easy. With this app, a soothing female voice guides you through breathing, muscle relaxation, and visualization exercises while in bed to help you sleep. You can customize the volume of her voice, the background noise (ocean, rain, stream, lake, forest, birds, music), and how long you want the meditation to continue. There is also a brief guided meditation for the “wee hours” in case you wake up in the middle of the night.

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7. Wake Up Gently

The sound of a loud, obnoxious alarm clock is like nails on a chalkboard to me. Being jolted awake by a horrible noise seems to put me in a bad mood first thing in the morning. I have not used a traditional alarm clock for several years. I was thrilled to discover Zen Awake iPhone alarm clock app a couple of years ago. It works to gradually wake you up, as if you were naturally waking up on your own. It plays a series of peaceful chimes, starting about ten minutes before you intend to wake up. The chimes progressively get louder and closer together as the time for you to get up approaches. When you go to turn off the alarm, you are greeted with an inspirational quote for the day, and with one click you can share the quote to your Facebook page. How neat is that?

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8. Quit Caffeine

Ok, so the thought of quitting your morning coffee may seem nearly impossible for you. It was hard for me too – but hear me out. If you are relying on caffeine to give you energy in the morning, you are robbing your body’s natural ability to produce its own energy.

How do you know if you are relying on caffeine too much? Ask yourself: are you drinking caffeine daily (coffee, energy drinks, soda, etc)? Are you nearly late for work in an attempt to get that morning cup of coffee while on the road? Are you overspending in order to get your caffeine fix? Do others not want to be around you in the morning until you’ve had your coffee? Are you feeling tired, cranky, or experience headaches if your caffeine schedule is altered? If the answer to any of these questions are yes, then you may need to consider decreasing your caffeine intake or quitting altogether.

Caffeine, like any addictive substance, alters the brain. When we alter our brain, we are putting our bodies in a state of imbalance. Our bodies will eventually become reliant on coffee to feel awake and energized rather than naturally producing the energy we need to function. Caffeine also dehydrates us, eventually causing us to feel more tired. So swap out that cup of coffee for a glass of water!

Since I have quit caffeine, I have felt much more energized yet calm and focused, without the anxiety-jitters I typically experienced with coffee. Although I miss the taste of coffee, I love my sense of balance even more!


Since I have made these changes, my mornings are much more pleasant. I actually enjoy going to bed earlier and waking up sooner. I simply feel better. Sometimes I miss being a night-owl. However, I still get that quiet, peaceful feeling (as if I’m the only one awake when the world is sleeping) being up early in the morning. I often get to see the sunrise while driving to work. I enjoy longer days at the beach or have more energy for hiking. My days feel longer (in a good way), and I have more time to enjoy the sunshine!

Have you tried any of these strategies? What makes you feel energized in the morning? Please share!

Your Guide to Gorgeous, Clear Skin

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Having struggled with years of acne, I tried many products and prescriptions, and spent countless dollars trying to clear my skin. I finally got to the point where I needed to try a new strategy. There has been a wave of men and women on the internet discussing their success in healing their acne through the power of nutrition. Increasing my knowledge in how diet is connected with acne has empowered me to make lasting changes that brought real results.

Food is your medicine.

Acne is primarily a direct result of your digestion, balance in hormones, and level of stress. When we eat unhealthy foods, our digestive system becomes irritable, increasing inflammation and weakening the immune system. Our bodies becomes stressed, trying to function properly without the sufficient nutrients it needs. Certain foods can also affect hormonal balances. Depending on the person, our bodies may react differently when their is a lack of nutrition. Some people may gain weight, some may find themselves feeling sick frequently, and others may develop acne. There is a lot of advise out there – and it can be incredibly overwhelming! I have spent hours of research, and tried numerous approaches. The truth is that you need to heal from the inside out. There is no magical cleanser or prescription. You need to address the root of the problem: your health. Here is what has worked for me:

What foods to avoid:

  • Gluten
  • Sugar
  • Dairy
  • Soy
  • Heated oils
  • Legumes (beans, peanuts)
  • Processed foods

These foods, such as gluten and dairy, can increase inflammation – which can cause acne as well as other health problems such as fatigue, emotional stress, and immune deficiencies. Dairy also contains natural growth hormones (intended to help baby cows grow) which can disrupt our natural hormone balance.

Soy and legumes are common food sensitivities that contribute to irritating the digestive system. Soy acts like the hormone estrogen, which many people (including women) already have an overload of within their bodies due to various environmental reasons (such as drinking and eating out of plastic containers).  Therefore, soy can cause hormones to be out of balance. An imbalance of hormones can also lead to acne.

Sugar has no nutritional value, and gives the body large amounts of calories, causing blood sugar to spike and the liver to work overtime. When the liver cannot flush sugar quick enough, the body will store sugar as fat or produce mucus to protect the body. Therefore, too much sugar will cause you to gain weight or lead to illness and allergies. Sugar also feeds the bad bacteria in the gut. We all have a little bit of bad bacteria, but when we have too much of the bad bacteria, the immune system suffers and we end up with too much yeast.

Most oils such as corn oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, and even olive oil become rancid when heated. This is one of the main reasons why fried foods are so unhealthy. Rancid oils entering your body will cause your body to work hard to eliminate the toxins. I typically only cook with coconut oil since it is one of the rare oils that holds integrity when facing high temperatures.

Processed foods (from boxes, cans, and other packages) are typically stripped of natural nutrients. Many processed foods contain synthetic ingredients – you know, those ingredients you can’t even pronounce! They make your body work harder to filter out the toxins and keep your body feeling hungry since your body is not getting the nutrition it needs.

Avoiding all of these ingredients in your diet will not only help clear your acne, but will improve your overall health.

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Creative Commons Purple Cauliflowers at Hollywood Farmers Market” by Experience LA is licensed under CC BY 2.5

Foods that heal:

  • Whole foods
  • Dark, leafy greens (kale, spinach, romaine, collards)
  • Healthy fats (good quality meats, unrefined extra virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts)
  • A variety of seasonal vegetables
  • Fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt)
  • Plenty of water (filtered or spring)

Eating whole foods is the key to getting as much nutrition and healing power for your body. Our bodies are intended to eat a hunter/gatherer diet. Due to our history and evolution, our digestive system is best designed to consume animal protein and farmed fruits and vegetables. Foods that require processing (such as grains and processed food) can be taxing on our digestive system. Eating whole foods (foods in their natural state) will allow your body to best absorb nutrients. A good way to make sure you are eating a whole-food diet is to ask yourself, “Is the meat I am eating in an edible form as if it were hunted? Could I have picked these fruits and vegetables, gathered these nuts, etc?” Getting back to nature is key!

Dark, leafy greens is where you will get the most nutritional value for healing your acne. I typically eat a handful of greens blended with my morning smoothie for breakfast. Salads, stir-fries, and baked loafs (quiche, meatloaf, etc) are good methods of getting your greens as well.

Healthy sources of fat will give your body omegas, keeping your skin supple and glowing. Healthy fats keep you feeling full, and give you energy. I am a believer in eating good quality meats. This means that the quality of the animal’s diet as well as how they were treated impacts the quality of nutrition in the meat. When animals are not fed their natural diet, they become unhealthy. For example, when cows are fed corn, risk for ecoli is increased. When cows are fed grass, omegas are present in the meat. Contrary to popular beliefs, grass-fed beef can be more nutritious than poultry! Poorly treated animals produce stress hormones that stay present in the meat after they are processed. You end up ingesting all those stress hormones! I am a strong believer in buying meat from local farms that provide good quality of life for their animals. I suggest purchasing meat at a natural food market or the farmer’s market.

Vegetables that are in season, local, and organic will have the most nutrition. Produce that has traveled far before it reaches the grocery store will have depleted nutrients by the time it ends up on your dinner plate. Buy local and fresh whenever possible!

Fermented foods have natural probiotics in them. Probiotics are the key to increasing the good bacteria in your gut and strengthening your immune system. They also help reduce the effects of eating too much sugar. Super important!

Water, water, water! Keeping hydrated allows your body to cleanse itself. It keeps your skin elastic, helps decrease signs of aging, and keeps your pores naturally clean. If you are not staying hydrated, your pores are not able to easily flush toxins through your pores, thus clogging your pores. I try to drink at least 3/4 of a gallon per day. Drink natural spring water or filtered water.


For me, the trick to making changes to my diet came more easily when I focused on what I should be eating more of – versus worrying all the time about what not to eat. I tend to follow these guidelines 80% of the time, and the rest of the time I allow myself to “cheat” such as when I’m out to dinner, at the movies, or visiting friends who do not follow my choice of diet. Being too restrictive with your diet can cause stress – which will increase cortisol in your body and cause an imbalance in hormones – so don’t take yourself too seriously! Take small steps and give yourself the credit you deserve!

This is more than a change in diet – it is a change in lifestyle. Keep in mind that seeing results may take some time. Allow for at least a full month before seeing a decrease in acne. It took a long time for your skin to become the way it is, so it will take some time for it to heal. Stay strong!

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