Tag: functional medicine

Defining Popular Diets and Fads- from Carnivore to Macrobiotic

There are so many popular diets that range from ‘fad’ to ‘therapeutic’. Here’s my take on defining the parameters from a nutrition perspective. The world of ‘diets’ is WILD. There are so many eating patterns available; some with too-good-to-be-true promises and many with wonderful health benefits. As a nutritionist, I find merit and therapeutic usefulness in many ‘diets’ depending on your symptoms and concerns. I’m not here to tell you ONE diet is right for everyone.  Instead, I’ll help break down some popular diets and their ‘rules’ so you can make an informed decision about the best nutrition strategy FOR YOU. There is no established optimal diet for humans; but eating choices can drive us closer or further from health. Here’s a look at some popular diets and eating patterns: Anti-inflammatory: A primarily plant-based diet used to address chronic inflammation and associated health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. An anti-inflammatory diet typically includes large amounts of phytonutrients and antioxidants. This is considered a sustainable long-term eating pattern. Gluten-free: A therapeutic diet adopted by individuals with celiac disease or gluten intolerance that excludes all gluten-containing grains such as wheat, barley, and rye. This may be a lifelong commitment for those who have a reaction to gluten. Due to cross reactivity, those who follow a gluten-free diet may also adhere to dairy-free, corn-free, and soy-free choices. Mediterranean: A traditional diet common among individuals living in the Mediterranean region that consists of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and whole grains. The Mediterranean diet has a lot of similarities to an anti-inflammatory diet. It has been greatly studied due to the long life expectancy and health of people native to the region. Ketogenic (keto): A high-fat, very low-carbohydrate diet used to promote weight loss and address neurological conditions such as pediatric epilepsy. The keto diet doesn’t necessarily restrict any categories of foods, but requires food choice based on macronutrient ratio. Some individuals thrive on a ketogenic diet, while others don’t do as well. For women, a cyclical keto approach may be a better option. Paleolithic (paleo)/ Primal: A dietary pattern inspired by the diets of hunter-gatherers of the paleolithic era that consists of lean meats, fish, healthy fats, vegetables, and certain fruits. The Paleo movement gained traction in the Crossfit community. It has since evolved, with some paleo proponents changing the ‘rules’ around things like legumes. Carnivore: An extreme version of the paleo diet that focuses on ONLY animal-based foods. This means all meats, eggs, fish and shellfish, and some dairy. The carnivore diet is more of a therapeutic diet in that in limits all potential anti-nutrients from plants. It is actually quite simple, and with proper planning, does supply adequate nutrition. PLANT-BASED: A blanket term that may or may not mean a diet built exclusively from plants. The choice to eat plant-based may come from moral and ethical reasons as much as health. Often, a plant-based diet falls within one of these subcategories: Pescatarian: A primarily plant-based diet that eliminates most animal sources of protein except for fish and shellfish Vegan: A strictly plant-based diet that restricts all animal-sourced foods and products Vegetarian: A dietary pattern that restricts meat, poultry, and fish but allows other animal products such as dairy, eggs, and honey Macrobiotic: A vegetarian diet based on the principles of Zen Buddhism. This diet is rich in whole grains, legumes, and seasonal produce thought to balance the elements of yin and yang within. In studies, this diet has been shown to be unsafe for children (and nursing mothers!) and can result in nutritional deficiencies. Breaking Down Therapeutic Diets: Most of these popular diets are used on a short-term basis (2-9 months) for healing specific conditions. After the initial restriction, new foods are added in to resume a more balanced approach to food. Elimination: While there are many iterations of an elimination diet, most will limit the top allergens (dairy, eggs, wheat, and soy) followed by a systematic reintroduction to better understand how each food group affects physiology. Whole30: An elimination diet over a 30-day period that focuses on whole, unprocessed foods and minimal additives. The Whole30 has a psychosocial component, helping participants to break unhealthy eating patterns, stop stress-related and comfort eating, and reduce emotional food attachments. Autoimmune Protocol: An advanced elimination diet that restricts all grains, seeds, nuts, nightshade vegetables, legumes, dairy, and eggs. The AIP Diet has been studied as a treatment for Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and other autoimmune conditions. It closely mimics the Wahls Protocol, developed by Dr. Terry Wahls for the treatment of MS. Low-FODMAP: An elimination diet that limits fermentable carbohydrates. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo- Di- and Mono-saccharides and polyols. This diet was developed at Monash University as a therapeutic intervention for IBS, SIBO, and other functional bowel disorders.  Low-Histamine: A diet that limits high-histamine foods. This diet is helpful for those with reactions to histamines (allergies). True histamine intolerance affects only about 1% of the population. However, this diet can be helpful for taming an overactive immune response. Specific Carbohydrate: A grain-free, sugar-free, lactose-free diet first developed by Dr. Sydney Haas for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). This diet is meant to help rebalance the gut microbiome and increase oral tolerance. Low-Glycemic: A diet that limits foods based on the glycemic index. The low-glycemic diet is a therapeutic intervention for Type II diabetes and heart disease. Anti-Candida: An elimination diet that limits simple sugars and other carbohydrates that feed the yeast species, Candida Albicans. This diet is a short-term intervention paired with anti-fungals to eradicate systemic yeast infections. Other Popular Diet Fads & Trends: Here are a few other diet trends you may have heard about… Celery Juice – The ‘Celery Juice Diet’ is really just a morning habit of drinking 16 ounces of fresh celery juice every morning. Introduced by The Medical Medium, and popularized by the likes of Goop and Well&Good, this trend claims to yield weight loss, lowered inflammation, and ‘restored health’. It’s nothing short

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Healthy Hormone Lifestyle Tips

The Lifestyle Habits You Need for Healthy Hormone Balance

Lifestyle habits are a huge component of healthy hormone balance. We live in a go-go-go time where we forget to honor ourselves. When we have poor stress-management, lack of movement, and a toxic environment it’s a recipe for hormone imbalance; manifesting as skipped periods, infertility, mood dysregulation, and general malaise. The five areas I look at that fall into ‘lifestyle’ include your diet, your exercise routine, your self-care, your sleep, and your environment. Poor performance in any of these areas can contribute to hormone issues that manifest as physical symptoms. Here are 5 categories of lifestyle habits for healthy hormone balance. 1 – Diet Your diet has a major impact on hormones. Start by eliminating any suspected food sensitivities or food allergies. If you’re not sure how to do that on your own, check out my Elimination Diet Guide. Next, start to evaluate the overall nutrient density of your diet. Choose real, whole foods. Eat plenty of high-quality protein, fats, and fiber. Do your best to ‘eat the rainbow’ daily to cover an array of phytonutrients. Incorporate Hormone-Healing foods like seeds, oysters, leafy vegetables, and legumes. Even when your nutrition is on-point, it may be useful to supplement with certain vitamins that are difficult to obtain from our diet. Things like Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Folate can fall in this category. Learn more about my top recommended supplements here. Lastly, make sure you stay hydrated! Aim to consume half your body weight in ounces or more, and drink to thirst. 2 – Movement Do your best to make movement a priority in and out of the gym. A successful exercise routine is any activity that you enjoy doing! This could be yoga, HIIT training, rowing, swimming, weight-lifting, or hiking. Don’t be afraid to change things up. There’s big power in listening to your cycle and adjusting workouts depending on how you’re feeling (a concept known as Cycle Syncing). A good start is adding movement after meals. Even a short, brisk walk can support cortisol and insulin balance. These hormones are tightly regulated by the liver and adrenal glands. Cortisol and Insulin are both involved in the endocrine system and will have downstream effects on sex hormones. Use your in-the-gym time to focus on resistance training. Even if it is just bodyweight resistance, this is important to increase/maintain muscle mass and support bone health. The more muscle you can build and preserve, the ‘hotter’ your metabolism will run. 3 – Stress Management / Self-Care Re-engage with yourself. Strive for balance, but recognize the natural cyclical changes that hormones bring. Get in tune with when you are at your highest energy (typically at ovulation) and when you need a slowdown (before menstruation). By leaning into your natural rhythm, you’ll be less frustrated when you do feel emotional. Find a regular self-care routine. This could include breathing exercises, meditation, journaling, yoga, time outside, prayer, art, or anything else that brings you joy. Not sure where to start? Kristen Milliron, LCSW, shares her tips for starting a journaling practice here.  You may never have a ‘stress-free’ life… but how you manage your stress makes a difference.  Also in the self-care realm: finding a way to connect with yourself (or your partner) is essential for hormone health. Oxytocin, the hormone of connection, is released during orgasm, breastfeeding, as well as massage, holding hands, and hugs. Sexual intimacy is not just important for trying to conceive, but also helps to regulate your menstrual cycle and improve moods. 4 – Sleep Get in bed. You likely need 7-8 hours of quality sleep to feel your best. Make this a habit by setting a bedtime alarm that says, “hey, time to get IN bed” in addition to your usual morning alarm. If you can establish a regular routine, your body will adjust.  Optimize your sleep environment. Turn off screens a few hours before bed, wear blue blocking glasses, sleep in a dark room, and perfect your evening routine. The better control you take over these manageable habits- the better quality sleep you will achieve. Ask for help. If you find yourself waking at regular intervals through the night, unable to fall asleep, dealing with negative thought patterns, or having physical symptoms preventing good sleep (night sweats, restless legs).. ask for help. A Mental Health Therapist, Functional Medicine Doctor, or Nutritionist can evaluate your symptoms and offer intervention. 5 – Environment A big part of Healthy Hormones lies in making an effort to decrease your toxic burden. We live in an increasingly toxic world and it seems to be closing in on us. Our personal care products, makeup, cleaning products, and food storage likely contain harmful chemicals that CAN be avoided. Do a deep dive of your environment by considering these questions: Do you buy organic food and/or avoid the Dirty Dozen? Do you use glass/stainless steel for food storage and avoid plastics? Do you drink filtered water? Do you buy pharmaceutical grade supplements? Do you use clean makeup and skincare products? We can best support detoxification in the liver by staying hydrated, pooping daily, and consuming adequate protein & fiber. ((Learn more about detox here)) Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber Changing Lifestyle Habits for Healthy Hormone Balance takes time. These habits are things to slowly adopt to get you more in tune with yourself. One day at a time. Free Managing Stress & Anxiety Cookbook: Want 20 recipes to manage stress & anxiety? Click here to get Kate’s Stress&Anxiety Cookbook that includes recipes that supply adequate magnesium, B6, iron, and fiber!  Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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Nutritionist Kate Daugherty, MS, CNS Denver Colorado

What Is A Healthy Diet? A Nutritionist’s Thoughts..

“What is a Healthy Diet?’ is a question I get asked all the time. The truth is, there is no short answer. The World Health Organization defines a healthy diet as an eating pattern which “helps to protect against malnutrition in all its forms, as well as [chronic] diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer.” To me, that leaves a lot on the table. So often, the word diet alone makes us think about restriction and discipline. I prefer the greek term, Dieta, meaning ‘way of living.’ Our daily eating pattern is shaped by much more than just avoidance of disease or malnutrition— things like personal beliefs, preferences, socioeconomic status, and importantly, lifestyle. There is no established optimal diet for humans; but eating choices can drive us closer or further from health. Here are some things I consider when defining a ‘healthy diet’: Nutrient Density. Nutrient density is the amount of micronutrients relative to calories in a food. This is different than energy density (which refers to foods with high-calorie per gram ratios). Processed foods tend to be “empty” and low in nutrient density in that they offer a lot of calories and fewer micronutrients. The first step in establishing a healthy diet is replacing processed foods with nutrient-dense whole foods. This includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and protein.  Individuality. I agree with the WHO that a truly healthy diet should be protective against chronic, preventable disease. When your food choices are negatively impacting body systems; you are limiting general wellness. This includes cognitive function, growth and development, immune health, reproductive function, healthy skeletal and muscular systems, organ function, and energy production. However, these ‘protective’ food choices can look different based on your unique biochemistry. [For example, some individuals may consume legumes to prevent diabetes while others will need to avoid beans to prevent immune overstimulation.] There is no “good” or “bad” food.  Sustainability. Beyond ecologic sustainability, a healthy diet is one that you can sustain over the long term. Restrictive diets (whether measured by calorie or food group) can lead to disordered eating patterns, weight cycling, and mood dysregulation. A healthy diet should be realistic and enjoyable, a true way of life.  Ultimately, a healthy diet is one which makes you feel GOOD over the long term. It will likely change based on health goals, activity level, age, food availability, and priorities. Lean into the seasons of life and thrive wherever you are by defining your personal eating strategy. Consider the nutrient density, individuality, and sustainability in short and long term increments and adjust as needed.  Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber If you find yourself out-of-awareness with what foods are right for you, I recommend reaching out to a dietician or nutritionist for help. A functional medicine practitioner can look at your diet in the context of your overall health and help determine an optimal eating strategy that fits the “Healthy Diet” construct.  Free Managing Stress & Anxiety Cookbook: Want 20 recipes to manage stress & anxiety? Click here to get Kate’s Stress&Anxiety Cookbook that includes recipes that supply adequate magnesium, B6, iron, and fiber!  Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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Health Risks Blue Light Exposure

Understanding the Health Effects of Blue Light

Adapted from The Facility Denver, “Is Blue Light A Problem?” What is Blue Light? >> Visible light from the sun is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, and blue rays that combine to form ‘white light’. Of the colors, blue light is on the far end of the spectrum (380-500nm) and has the highest energy of the rays. Blue light scatters quite easily, which is why we see a blue sky on a cloudless day!  NOT ALL BAD: A proper amount of blue light (from the sun) is beneficial in that it improves our natural sleep cycle, helps balance our mood, and improves cognitive function. However, in our modern world, electronics and devices contribute significantly to our exposure to blue light. Screen time is a reality, as over 80% of Americans spend more than two hours a day on a device that emits blue light. This has only increased since 2019 with a shift towards working from home remotely. >>Overexposure is virtually inescapable. Mitigation is key.<< In high amounts, Blue Light negatively impacts health. Firstly, the low contrast of blue light emitted from screens can cause eye strain, dry, and irritated eyes. There is some evidence it contributes to macular degeneration. Screen usage has negative impacts on cognitive performance. However, the biggest risk of overexposure is a disruption to circadian rhythms. Blue light suppresses melatonin secretion, even as little as two minutes of exposure at nighttime is enough to drop melatonin by 50%. In a healthy population of 119 volunteers, full spectrum light exposure shortened melatonin duration by 90 minutes; suggesting impacts not only on sleep onset, but sleep duration. New studies showed that exposure to blue light after dark increases the risk of metabolic dysfunction, depression/anxiety, and cancer. Blue light exposure in the wrong amount will have a downstream effect SOMEWHERE. It may manifest as sleep disturbance, cognitive performance changes, mood changes, or metabolic dysfunction. Or all of the above. How Can you Reduce The Impact of Blue Light?   Minimize screen time, especially before bed. It’s a good practice to limit screen usage in the evening hours when the sun is down. Use Night Shift. On apple products, it’s very simple to set your screen to automatically dim with sunset. Use this for computers, phones, and tablets as an extra protection. Improve Your Routine. Make an effort to get full spectrum light in the mornings, and shut off lights in the evening with the sunset. Your circadian rhythm responds to subtle shifts and the more you settle into routine (with sleeping, eating, exercise, and mental activity), the more consistent your body will be. Wear Blue Blockers. Blue light blocking glasses specifically filter out blue wavelengths. They can be worn during daytime when working for extended time looking at screens. Darker, amber lenses are helpful at nighttime for protecting circadian rhythms and ensuring optimal sleep. Blue-Blocking Lenses For Everyone You can get blue blocking glasses whether you wear prescription lenses, readers, or non-adjusted lenses. Putting on a pair of blue light glasses is convenient at home, at work, or while traveling. This is an easy first step to optimizing your lighting environment without a complete overhaul. Our favorite blue light filtering glasses are BluBlox. They have high standards and make lenses that actually filter blue and green light (not just a coating on the lens). <<Get 15% off your order at BluBlox.Com with code Facility15>> What we want to make understood is this: Chronic blue light exposure can have lasting negative impacts on health, particularly affecting sleep quality and eye health. Negative effects can be mitigated by minimizing screen time, using blue light filters and glasses, and optimizing your routine. Step up your routine with BlueBlox and be proactive about your sleep. Sleeping is a non-negotiable in our Functional Medicine Practice, so you better believe we’ll spend time getting this in order. You May Also Like: Inflammation in Our Modern World A Functional Medicine Approach to Psoriasis Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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Eat Mindfully to Improve Digestion

Simple Habits to Improve Digestion Naturally

Do you struggle with poor digestion? That can show up as bloating, gas, or pain after meals. When things aren’t moving like they should (#poopproblems), we’re often quick to jump to medications or supplements to promote a bowel movement. However, there are simple habits you can put in place to improve digestion naturally and prevent the slowdown in the first place!  First, Let’s Take a Look at Digestion  Digestion starts before you take a bite of food. Your senses (like smell & sight) tell your brain to start to release chemicals in a downstream cascade that prepares your stomach for breaking down and absorbing food. One hormone, ghrelin is responsible for making us feel hungry. When it is activated, we also begin making more stomach acid and releasing more digestive enzymes from the pancreas.  As soon as food hits your tongue, you begin digesting it with salivary enzymes. These enzymes are primarily responsible for breaking down fats and carbohydrates in your meal. Have you ever chewed a piece of bread beyond recognition and noticed it starts to taste very sweet? .. That’s because the amylase is at work breaking polysaccharides down into di- and monosaccharides, like glucose!  When food reaches the stomach, we rely on stomach acid and enzymes to further chop it up into tiny particles that we can absorb in our small intestine. If your stomach is not acidic enough, you are prone to more food-borne illnesses and you likely won’t assimilate b-vitamins as well. If your pancreas doesn’t release enough enzymes, you may have trouble breaking down proteins. If these peptides make their way to your small intestine, you end up with gas, bloating, or other digestive distress.  Shew-wee! There’s a lot going on in our body underneath our awareness SO, What are some things we can do to ACTIVELY improve digestion naturally? 1- Take Part In Food Preparation OK, so if digestion starts happening chemically before we even eat, doesn’t it make sense this should be an active part of the meal? Take time to smell the food as it is cooking, aesthetically plate your colorful veggies, and mindfully participate in the prep. If you’re on the run, or grabbing takeout, even just a few moments of pause before digging in can be beneficial. Say a note of gratitude, take in the aroma, and appreciate the beauty of the meal before you.  2- Distraction Free Eating One of the worst things you can do for your digestive health is try to accomplish other tasks while eating. Turn the TV OFF, put the phone down, and schedule a work break to eat. As I mentioned, your BRAIN is involved in the digestive process; so don’t hinder its role! When you’re not distracted while eating, you also tend to better connect with your hunger and fullness cues.  3 – Avoid Liquids at Meal Time You know that old “weight loss hack” to guzzle a glass of water before your meal to make you feel full?: Don’t Do This! When you drink water close to meal time, you dilute your stomach contents. Therefore, you have less potent stomach acid and enzymes (remember how important those are?!). If you’re consuming liquids while you’re eating, you also tend to poorly chew your food and reach for the liquid to ‘wash it down’. Try to consume your water and other liquids at least 30 minutes before or after meals.  4 – Chew Your Food The simplest ‘hack’ for better digestion is really just to do a better job of chewing your food. Have you ever counted your chews? Most people chew less than 7 times before swallowing. Aim for closer to 30! It feels strange and a little silly at first, so practice at home (while mindfully eating). Putting your fork down between bites is another cue to help you spend more time on each bite rather than rushing through your meal.  Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber How to Improve Digestion with Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics, and Other Supplements If you’ve got the above habits in place, and still need a little help with digestion, there are certain supplements that can help. Most are tailored to a specific need (re: Enzymes for certain proteins; Probiotics for diarrhea vs constipation; etc). If you need help figuring out the best supplement plan for you, schedule a consult with me.  1- Digestive Enzymes There are a number of different types of digestive enzymes. A general enzyme contains Amylase, Lipase, and Proteases to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in your food. These are the same enzymes that your pancreas releases, they just give you an extra dose. Always take these WITH meals so they have food to act on. Some enzyme formulas also contain HCL or Betaine. These compounds make your stomach more acidic and can be very helpful for individuals who have chronically low stomach acid. There are various reasons for this including H.Pylori, Chronic PPI use, and autoimmune conditions. 2 – Specific Enzymes For those who are intolerant or sensitive to certain foods, you can take specific enzymes to breakdown those foods. The classic example is Lactase for those with Lactose Intolerance. (In fact, most “lactose free” products simply have the enzyme added). You can also take Gluten Enzymes for gluten sensitivity or Casein Enzymes for milk protein allergies.  3 – Probiotics Probiotics are strain specific. Meaning, each strain is helpful for different concerns. Taking a Lactobacillus Species can improve tolerance to dairy. Taking Sacchromyces Boulardii can be very helpful for diarrhea. L.Reuteri is a fantastic strain for improving overall gut health by changing the microbiome.  4 – Gut Soothing Supplements For acute gas, bloating, or stomach pain you can take herbal remedies to help calm and soothe the intestinal lining. Slippery Elm, Aloe Vera, and Marshmallow Root are all carminative herbs that improve gastrointestinal symptoms. If gut issues become chronic, you likely need a Gut Healing Protocol to correct underlying dysfunction. However, these supplements can also be used on

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8 Small Steps to Improve Your Fertility Naturally

If you’re a woman with a goal of having babies, fertility is probably on your mind. Sometimes it isn’t until you’ve been trying; but these small steps to improve your fertility naturally are things you can put into practice now.  Infertility affects 7.4 million women in the U.S. The good news is that with lifestyle and nutrition changes, you can help tip the odds of getting pregnant in your favor.  Here are 8 small steps for improving fertility naturally while also boosting your overall well-being.  1 – Set a Consistent Bedtime Sleep is underrated as a tenet of wellness. When trying to conceive, getting good sleep is essential. When we are not sleeping well, our body tends to be in a chronic inflammatory state that can interrupt normal hormone rhythms. If the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system is in overdrive we are ill-suited for reproduction! Think about it.. if you are chronically stressed your body is NOT primed to grow and nourish a baby. To begin improving sleep habits, simply holding yourself to a consistent bedtime can be an easy first step.  2 – Move Everyday Daily movement doesn’t have to be a structured gym routine. It can be as simple as adding more steps to your day by parking farther away. Or, it can be mindful stretching while relaxing and watching TV. Regular movement increases your metabolism, decreases your stress hormones, and puts you in a better state for improving fertility naturally.  3 – Nourish Your Mind This goes back to stress relief and minimizing the impact on hormones. Trying to conceive can be a stressful process if you’re not seeing results. Take a step back and ground yourself with inspiration from books, podcasts, or journaling. Not sure where to start? Kristen Milliron, LCSW, shares her tips for starting a journaling practice here.  4 – Cook at Home The best way to ensure the quality of the food you’re eating is to prepare it yourself at home. You can choose anti-inflammatory cooking oils, organic vegetables, and grass-fed or wild-caught proteins. An excellent diet for improving fertility naturally is one filled with colorful, nutrient-dense foods high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats.  5 – Decrease To-Dos We live in a go-go-go world where everyone pulls us in different directions. Learn to say “no”. By decreasing the growing list of to-dos you give yourself time to slow down and focus on YOU. (And your partner!) If you’re over-stimulated you can enter that constant fight-or-flight state that diminishes inherent reproductive drive.  6 – Track your Cycle As a starting point, tracking your cycle is so powerful for understanding your own body. You’ll learn WHEN ovulation is actually happening, the length of your luteal and follicular phases, and when pre-menstrual or ovulation symptoms show up. More data gives you actionable steps for improving fertility naturally. Learn how to track your cycle here.  Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber 7 – Evaluate Nutrients Low-nutrient status can affect your ability to get pregnant. For an optimal environment to reproduce, it’s a good idea to check how well you’re digesting and absorbing vitamins and nutrients in your diet. Some of the key nutrients for fertility include Folate, Zinc, B-Vitamins, Omega-3s, and Magnesium. A functional lab test like the Metabolomix+ by Genova is a comprehensive look at your internal biochemistry. Schedule a consult with me to discuss functional lab testing.  8 – Hydrate More water = better digestion, better detoxification, and overall better health. Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces. If drinking plain water is challenging, add electrolytes like Ultima or LMNT. Dehydration has a major affect on most of the processes in our body, and is ‘low-hanging fruit’ for improving fertility naturally with little effort. If it’s overwhelming to commit to ALL 8 steps, choose one or two things to start to improve your fertility naturally. Over time, implement more until you get yourself into an optimal state for baby making (and growing!).  Free Managing Stress & Anxiety Cookbook: Want 20 recipes to manage stress & anxiety? Click here to get Kate’s Stress&Anxiety Cookbook that includes recipes that supply adequate magnesium, B6, iron, and fiber!  Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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Food Swaps for Clear Skin - Acne Triggers

5 Simple Food Swaps for Clear Skin

It’s so frustrating to deal with acne, especially as an adult. Trust me, I’ve been there. You think you’re doing everything right with a cleansing regimen and minimal makeup, but those pesky bumps are still popping up.  Often, skin issues aren’t solved with merely topical solutions. We have to start on the INSIDE. What are you putting in your body (intentionally or unintentionally) that could be contributing to acne?  The gold standard for addressing food sensitivities is a full-blown Elimination Diet. You’ll systematically take away common trigger foods and slowly add them back in to watch for reoccurrence of symptoms. It takes time, but it’s worth the investigation.  If you’re short on time or not quite ready to commit to an Elimination Diet, here are a few simple food swaps for clear skin.  Related: Mindful Eating: Finding a Healthy Relationship with Food 5 Simple Food Swaps for Clear Skin… 1 – Swap Dairy Milk for Oat Milk There are a number of potential triggers in dairy including lactose (a milk sugar) and whey or casein protein (the two main proteins). Cow’s milk can spike blood sugar and insulin levels, increasing inflammation in the body. Commercial dairy products potentially contain added hormones that encourage sebum production.  Instead, choose a non-dairy substitute like coconut milk or oat milk. Be careful to choose an unsweetened option with no added oils! As good as it may taste, the extra sugar is also linked to acne.  <<Kate’s Fave: Click here to learn about Willa’s Oat Milk>> 2 – Swap Soy for Legumes Soy contains a high amount of inflammatory omega-6 fats. These fats increase redness and swelling, and can cause hormone imbalance when consumed in excess. Read ingredient lists carefully, as soy is hidden in so many processed food products!  For a better plant-based protein, choose legumes or lentils. Chickpeas are one of my favorites- packed with fiber, protein, and vitamins. Plus, they are super versatile for sweet and savory dishes alike. ((Here’s my go-to hummus recipe)) 3 – Swap Coffee for Tea Most conventional coffee is contaminated with mycotoxin (a mold that grows on beans). When our liver encounters this toxin, it must work on detoxifying it first, leaving you vulnerable to recirculation of other toxins and hormones. Further, caffeine can take a toll on our adrenal glands (and increase stress hormone). More cortisol = more inflammation.  For a healthy warm drink, try matcha or green tea. The epi-gallo-catechin-gallate (EGCG) in green tea is a powerful antioxidant and phytonutrient. >>Skip The Rest and Check out The ELIMINATION DIET GUIDE<< 4 – Swap Peanut Butter for Seeds Hold your horses, I know this is a tough one. Peanuts contain a high amount of the same inflammatory omega-6 oils as soy. Further, many commercial peanut butters are made with hydrogenated oils like corn, safflower, or soybean. A better option for clear skin is a seed-based butter like Sunflower Butter.  Always look for seed butters that contain very simple ingredients: just seeds, no oils, no sugar! My favorite is from Thrive Market.  5 – Swap Sugar for Stevia, Honey, or Maple Syrup. High sugar consumption is linked to a number of diseases. If you’re dealing with acne, this is one of the first foods to completely eliminate from your diet. Refined sugar is pro-inflammatory and increases the likelihood of outward manifestations of inflammation (read: acne).  If you have a sweet tooth, enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits. In my opinion, a medjool date stuffed with sunflower butter and sprinkled with sea salt tastes better and more satisfying than a candy bar.  For drinks like coffee and tea, I use liquid stevia. Natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup are also a better-for-you choice for your skin health.  Ultimately, it’s clear (pun intended) that skin health starts from the inside out. The food we eat literally becomes us: so what are you choosing to be made of? Always, a nutrient-dense diet with plenty of fiber, colorful vegetables, and adequate protein is the foundation. From there, begin to explore what foods might be triggering symptoms using an Elimination Diet or Simple Food Swaps for clear skin.  You May Also Like : Top Three Foods to Avoid with Leaky Gut Want a diet plan for clear skin health that puts all these food swaps in place? CLICK HERE to get my skin health diet for free!  >>Download a sample recipe here: Creamy Blueberry Smoothie<< Make a few simple swaps and see how clear skin starts from the inside! You can save even more time (and money) by shopping pantry staples with Thrive Market! You May Also Like: Mindful Eating: Finding a Healthy Mindset with Food What Is the Carnivore Diet? Shop My Faves: DISCLAIMERS: The statements made on this website are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. You assume full responsibility for how you use this information. Always consult with your physician or other health professionals before making any diet or lifestyle changes. This post may contain affiliate links whereby if you purchase these products I receive a small percentage of the sale price. This allows me to keep the blog running and I thank you for allowing me to do that!

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Food Sensitivities versus Food Allergies

Food Sensitivities vs Food Allergies: Understand the Difference

Is it a food sensitivity or a food allergy? (or a food intolerance??) Every time you take a bite of food, your body has a reaction.  Many of these are normal and essential— you need foods to signal the release of enzymes and other chemicals in order for the digestion process to take place.  But, there are other types of reactions that can be destructive: food allergies and food intolerances. This ties in the concept of oral tolerance.   Food Allergy If you have a ✨FOOD ALLERGY✨, your immune cells have recognized a particular portion of a food as harmful and have produced a specific antibody to combat that food. Once the body has identified a food allergen, the immune cells will produce immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies each time it’s eaten.  🛑 90% of all IgE food allergies in the U.S. can be attributed to 8 food groups: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, wheat, soy, peanuts, and tree nuts.  Food Sensitivity Your immune cells can produce other types of antibodies such as IgG, IgM, and IgA in response to specific foods. This is considered a ✨FOOD SENSITIVITY✨.  These non-IgE-related food sensitivities are far more common; and far less understood. Food sensitivity testing is not as reliable, and cross-reaction among food substances is difficult to discern. 😩 Food Intolerance A ✨FOOD INTOLERANCE✨ is a delayed and undetected food reaction. It does not directly involve the immune system secreting antibodies, but may cause the immune cells to get activated indirectly. Intolerances are usually due to the body not being able to process a component of a particular food. (For example: lactose intolerance due to lack of the enzyme lactase).  Food intolerance likely means you are lacking an enzyme, nutrient, or organism that is needed to properly digest or metabolize a substance. Common intolerances to food substances include amines in fermented foods, phenols in food additives, fructose from fruits, and glutamate in MSG.  Symptoms of food intolerance can be almost anything: brain fog, mood issues, bowel problems, weight gain, insomnia, joint and muscle pain, and more.  Determining Food Sensitivities, Food Allergies, and Food Intolerances Lab tests for food sensitivities and intolerances are largely unreliable. Particularly if you have an autoimmune disease or a leaky gut, you may find tests show a LARGE amount of frequently eaten foods as “potential sensitivities”. The gold standard for determining your own individual tolerance is an elimination diet and reintroduction period. An Elimination Diet helps you take potential allergens out of your diet, and then systematically reintroduce them to pinpoint exactly WHICH foods are contributing to symptoms. Yes, it takes a LOT more work and diligence; BUT you get significantly more personalized information for crafting a nutrition strategy that best works for you. Not sure how to start? I got you. I wrote The Elimination Diet Guide to walk you through exactly how to do an Elimination (including phases of which foods to limit, which foods to reintroduce). Get The Elimination Diet: Want a free resource for increasing PHYTONUTRIENTS in your diet and supporting Liver Detoxification? Click here to get the Phytonutrient Spectrum Guide by the IFM curated by Dr. Deanna Minich. Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. Click here to schedule a free 15 minute phone consult with Kate!       All Post Adventure Entertainment Movement Reading Recipes Research Shopping Travel Wednesday Words Wellness Food Sensitivities vs Food Allergies: Understand the Difference January 15, 2022/No Comments Is it a food sensitivity or a food allergy? (or a food intolerance??) Every time you take a bite of… Read More 5 Simple Food Swaps for Clearer Skin January 15, 2022/ It’s so frustrating to deal with acne, especially as an adult. Trust me, I’ve been there. You think you’re doing… Read More 8 Small Steps for Improving Fertility Naturally January 15, 2022/ If you’re a woman with a goal of having babies, fertility is probably on your mind. Sometimes it isn’t until… Read More A Functional Nutrition Perspective on Psoriasis January 14, 2022/ Psoriasis is a skin disorder showing up as excessive production of skin cells. The skin cells accumulate faster than they… Read More What does the Liver do? Detoxification explained. January 11, 2022/No Comments We think of our Liver as the MAIN DETOXIFICATION ORGAN. Yes, true. It actually has hundreds of functions including storage… Read More Complete Plant-Based Protein + Complementary Protein Explained January 9, 2022/ Not all proteins are physiologically equal. Some proteins are complete proteins, ie proteins that contain all nine essential amino acids.… Read More Load More End of Content.

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A Functional Nutrition Perspective on Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin disorder showing up as excessive production of skin cells. The skin cells accumulate faster than they are shed, resulting in patches of red skin, often covered with silvery scales. There is a strong immune correlation with psoriasis so things like stress, allergies, illness, infection, and inadequate nutrition with affect the immune system will also affect the onset or severity of psoriasis symptoms.  Manifestation of symptoms is an immune response targeted to a localized area; if an insult occurs (scratch, sunburn, or other irritation) the body continuously tries to repair the skin by creating new cells.  In chronic cases, own body’s own antimicrobial peptides trigger psoriasis: an autoimmune response. These peptides are meant to be protective (against harmful bacteria); but when antibodies are created they create an inflammatory mess.  Much like any autoimmune disorder, inflammation is at the root of symptom manifestation. The more inflamed you are, the more likely you will have spillover into overt symptoms. With psoriasis, if you control the inflammation, you minimize skin flare-ups.  Addressing Inflammation in Psoriasis Therapeutic foundations for treating inflammatory skin conditions are largely the same as for any inflammatory condition. We must reduce hyperactivity while allowing for normal responses. I.e. Immune BALANCE; not immune boosting or immune dampening.  A great starting point is an Anti-Inflammatory Diet that minimizes inflammatory triggers while including plenty of anti-inflammatory nutrients. This means increasing consuming of Omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients, and fiber.  We also must clean up the environment and avoid environmental triggers of inflammation.  Nutrient Needs of the Skin  For optimal healing, certain nutrients are important for repair and healing during and after a psoriasis flare-up. These include: Vitamin C, Zinc, and Vitamins A&E.  Vitamin C: Vitamin C is important for proper development of collagen and skin tissue. It promotes elasticity and subdermal cell structure.  Zinc: Zinc is antimicrobial and functions as an antioxidant. It plays a role in DNA synthesis, cell division, protein synthesis and in promoting the structure of proteins and cell membranes. Zinc is a cofactor in enzyme reactions converting essential fatty acids to anti-inflammatory prostaglandins (putting all that good Omega-3 to work!) Vitamins A&E: These fat-soluble vitamins promote skin cell differentiation and modulate dermal growth factors. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant; helping to minimize the damage from free radicals. Vitamin A and E seem to work better in tandem.  >>Click Here to Shop Kate’s FullScript Bundle of all the skin healing nutrients<< Alternative Treatments for Psoriasis Psoriasis improves when exposed to sunlight, and UV Light Therapy has long been an effective method of treatment for acute cases. This may be due to increased availability of Vitamin D. Vitamin D modulates the inflammatory expression of antimicrobial peptides (all those things at work trying to heal the skin). With any skin condition, it’s important to maintain optimal levels of Vitamin D through sun exposure or supplementation (likely a combination).  Related: Dietary Fiber: Understanding Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber The Functional Medicine Approach to Psoriasis Instead of first turning to pharmaceutical drugs (like steroids and immunosuppressants); we start with covering the basics. First, identifying potential allergens, toxins, and irritants (using dietary exclusion). Ongoing detoxification, gut support, and liver support. Repletion of nutrients integral to healthy skin expression. Targeted supplements to minimize inflammation and support a healthy immune response. And not-to-be-ignored lifestyle interventions like exercise, mindfulness, stress-reduction, and nervous system support.  Key Lifestyle Considerations for Managing Inflammatory Psoriasis Exercise Physical activity lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases endorphins, which improve immune tolerance. It activates parts of the brain which control our stress response and increases the availability of important anti-aninflammatory neurochemicals. Exercise has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve sleep quality, which can improve physical and mental stress. Find ways to participate in joyful movement to decrease muscle tension, lowering the body’s contribution to feeling anxious. Hydration Even mild dehydration can affect your skin. However, finding the right balance of fluid is important. Consuming large amounts of caffeine, either from coffee, caffeinated tea, or energy drinks can increase levels of anxiety and symptoms such as heart palpitations and jitteriness. Beverage options that include chamomile and turmeric may help reduce anxiety. Chamomile and curcumin in turmeric, both contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower inflammation associated with psoriasis. Therapy Inflammation may require a multitude of approaches to be managed effectively. Along with a balanced diet, exercise, and adequate sleep, you may greatly benefit from seeing a mental health therapist for talk therapy or cognitive behavioral therapy. Click here to book a free discovery call with Kristen.  Free Managing Stress & Anxiety Cookbook: Want 20 recipes to manage stress & anxiety? Click here to get Kate’s Stress&Anxiety Cookbook that includes recipes that supply adequate magnesium, B6, iron, and fiber!  Want to work with a functional nutritionist to personalize your diet? Struggling with hormone imbalance, IBS, weight gain, mood changes? Let’s look at FOOD FIRST. Read more about Functional Nutrition at The Facility here. CLICK HERE to schedule a FREE 15-Minute Nutrition Consult with Kate to determine your best course of action!

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