Can We Still Blame Our Genes?

A slightly belated Happy New Year!  First, thank you to all of you that have sent me emails saying you miss my posts.  Because of my radio silence I have spent the past year learning, teaching, more learning, working with clients and more learning.  

One of the topics I have spent time researching this year is… What controls our genes? Is it all a result of DNA or do our lifestyle choices play a role? It’s not uncommon to hear people say the reason they are sick is because of their genes, and in fairness that’s what we’ve been taught and programmed to believe. However, we now know that is no longer true. Epigenetics, as a simplified definition, is the study of biological mechanisms that will switch genes on and off.  The term “epigenetic” explains the way that genes interact with the environment to produce each individual phenotype as opposed to the genetic code in the form of DNA. For example, you may be a healthy child, however, if you suffer abuse and chronic stress, you could develop anxiety and depression as an adult, so your health and life have been altered by your environment and not your genes.

According to Bruce Lipton, PhD and author of a book that everyone should read called, “The Biology of Belief,” 90% of illness and disease is lifestyle and 10% is genetics.  DNA is not your identity nor your destiny. That means that health is personal responsibility.  This is not to place blame.  It is not our fault as there are many factors that influence us, such as advertising, marketing and peer pressure.  However, knowing that we have the power and control is great news.  Its liberating, empowering, and you can start from this moment to change. 

The ancient system of Ayurveda says that our cells have wisdom and our thoughts and beliefs influence our life and health.  The problem is that It’s not that easy to control your thoughts without a practice.  Buddhists believe that the road to happiness and peace is being mindful.  A calm mind translates to better health. I highly recommend bringing mindfulness mediation to your daily life.  It is a game changer.  In addition, we must look at our diet.  We all know that eating healthy is important.  Many people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat better, however, I don’t think it is taken seriously enough.  Diabetes type 2, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, can all be controlled with lifestyle.  Even if you need to take medication you can lower the dosage through lifestyle. An anti-inflammatory diet void of processed and refined food, sugar and bad fats over time will transform health. If you can’t afford organic food, eat non-organic vegetables and fruit, nuts, seeds, grains. Both dairy and gluten are fine provided they are good qualify (all dairy should be organic) unless you are lactose intolerant or have celiac. 

Let’s not forget moving the body.  Try to make exercising fun.  It can be in the form of dancing, gardening or even cleaning the house (if unlike me you consider cleaning fun).  Walking twenty to thirty minutes per day is all it takes.  Start with that and then add some resistance training and yoga or tai chi which helps both mind and body.  You must exercise, even if it’s just walking.

The studies are clear…good nutrition, the right and adequate exercise, and daily stress reduction will put you on the road to lasting good health and happiness. 

To sum it up I leave you with three of my favorite quotes:

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food

Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.

Eat Food. Not Too much. Mostly Plants 

Michael Pollan, renowned food expert and journalist

Will is that which changes thought into energy

Paramahansa Yogananda

Yours in health & happiness,


Crohn’s Disease

Happy New Year all! May this year be your most wonderful and joyful!

There is no shortage of the deluge of advice from all kinds of “thought leaders” about keeping your New Year’s resolutions. After a while it all sounds the same.  We all know what we need to do and it’s up to each person to make those changes happen. For me the most important goals are 1) how can I continue to lead a healthy life physically, mentally and spiritually (without this goal, nothing else is possible), 2) what brings me joy? and 3) how can I help others and make a difference? Except for a few other goals thrown in such as to conquer my fear of flying, the three above never change.

To start achieving goals for 2018 my first blog is to share information on a disease which affects over 700,000 Americans. Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. Over 1.4 million Americas are affected with IBD. In the last 4 months, I have seen four clients with Crohn’s.  The symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and fatigue.  Malnutrition also occurs due to an inability to absorb nutrients.

Since Crohn’s is an autoimmune disease and one of inflammation, eliminating anything that causes inflammation or aggravates an autoimmune condition is crucial.  I advise anyone who believes they have Crohn’s or IBD to see a doctor prior to following any advice, including mine.

All medical systems agree that a digestive system which functions optimally is key to a healthy immune system and mental health.  The inability to absorb nutrients from food leads to illness and on the flip side repairing one’s digestive system will transcend health. It takes time. The guidelines below will reduce inflammation and pain and put you on the road to better health. Since this is a lengthy article I wanted to make it easy to follow, hence the bullets.  So here goes….

  • To begin, you must cook all meals and not eat out for at least four months. Restaurant and fast food contain a lot of salt, sugar and trans fats (bad oils) which are inflammatory.
  • Start each day with a cup of hot water. Boil the water, then let it cool so it’s hot but drinkable.  This will set the digestive track for the day and clean out toxins from the night before.
  • Make organic white rice according to instructions and DO NOT discard the starchy water. Instead, drink two cups a day of the water that is leftover from making the rice. It is very healing to the stomach.
  • Avoid ALL processed food (anything that comes out of a can or box that has more than a few ingredients). If you can’t identify the ingredients, don’t eat it.  Eating food without chemicals which is not processed or refined will help the body detox.  Processed and refined foods cause inflammation.
  • Avoid anything cold…nothing with ice.
  • Avoid all dairy products.
  • Remove any products made with carrageenan from your diet. (Read labels on soy products carefully).
  • Avoid all products with gluten (wheat, barley & rye).  Many products have hidden gluten such as soy sauce.
  • Avoid all white flour products such as white pasta and white bread.
  • Avoid all sugar and products sweetened with sugar substitutes such as sorbitol, xylitol, or other sugar alcohols. Honey is ok, occasionally, but use raw unrefined.  Honey is a natural antibiotic and many people with autoimmune disease have yeast or candida and honey can help.
  • Avoid all caffeine and decaffeinated beverages.
  • Avoid nightshades (tomatoes, all peppers, white potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine), eggplant. These tend to cause inflammation and many people are allergic to them.
  • Avoid spicy foods and spices like hot pepper and cayenne.
  • Avoid raw fruits, raw vegetables, seeds and nuts because they will irritate the digestive system.
  • Avoid red meat and pork.
  • Try to buy as much organic food as you can – especially fruits and vegetables.
  • Steam or sauté vegetables, and even fruit, so it’s warm and not in a raw cold state.  Cold food and beverages upset the digestive track.
  • Eat pureed food, such as warm soups or stews. Food should be chewed thoroughly and eaten slowly so it gets broken down and the nutrients can be metabolized and absorbed,
  • Drink warm bone broth – 2 cups a day.  You can add vegetables to it to make a soup.  It is GREAT for the digestive track.  If you don’t have a farmer who sells it, many health food stores carry it.
  • Make sure chicken and turkey are antibiotic free. Again, do not eat chunks of meat. Cut it into small pieces and chew thoroughly.  Eat meat only twice a week.  A mostly plant-based diet is better for inflammation.
  • Fish such as wild (not farm-raised) salmon and sardines are beneficial and contain omega 3’s.
  • Use coconut oil or ghee (clarified butter used in Ayurveda (Indian medicine) only for cooking.  Extra virgin olive oil can be used on vegetables after cooking.  It becomes an unhealthy fat when heated.  Coconut oil and ghee are great for the digestive system and best for high-heat cooking.

Supplements (check with your doctor)

  • Take slippery elm in powder form.  Combine one teaspoon of the powder with two cups of boiling water. Stir well. You can even add a teaspoon of honey, but it must be unrefined raw organic. Drink one or two cups twice a day.
  • If cramping is a problem, take enteric-coated capsules of peppermint oil between meals to relieve the spasmodic component of inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Medical marijuana is well documented for helping Crohn’s. Check if it is legal in your state and go to a participating practitioner.
  • Omega 3 fish oils help inflammation.  If they worsen the diarrhea then cut back.
  • Make sure vitamin d level is optimal.


  • Massage and energy work
  • Yoga
  • Acupuncture
  • Essential oils of lavender, geranium and orange to help relaxation. They can be placed on the bottom of the feet and inhaled.
  • Perform a daily self-massage using warmer, heavier oils like sesame and almond to release toxins and stimulate circulation. You can use a washcloth or bath gloves in the shower then apply oil after your shower.  The oil can lubricate the joints and muscles to help with any aches and pains.
  • Stress can greatly worsen symptoms so it’s very important to do some stress relieving therapy.  They have also been known to reduce systemic inflammation:

This may all seem overwhelming, but it becomes a way of life, and as you start feeling better the choices are made for you.  It’s not what you are giving up but what you are gaining. Daily habits determine health. Since I have an autoimmune disease and counsel a lot of people with it I know that we have the power to feel better.  It just takes commitment. You will love how you feel!



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7 Amazing Health Benefits of Walking in the Woods

I am always so grateful to have guest bloggers. Its important that we share our knowledge and promote the good works of others. Harris Norman is a Writer,  Explorer and Prosurvivalist.  He gives us a wonderful article on something we all should be doing everyday that is so incredibly beneficial and can change your life.  Enjoy!


It’s pretty much common knowledge that spending as much time as possible in nature is good for your health in a variety of ways, but the ironic thing is that, when you’re suffering from an actual physical condition, a doctor will seldom tell you that you need to “spend more time outside”. Instead, they’ll probably just give you a pill and give you instructions on how often you should take it and in what amount. Rarely will a medical care professional suggest exposure to more sunlight and fresh air,  at least until the disease becomes quite serious and spending time outside turns into a necessity for treatment rather than a means of prevention.

I’m not going to get into the specific details of why I think this is; rather, I just want to shed some light on why spending time outside, in nature, is one of the best things that you can do for your body as well as your mind. There are seven reasons – well, there are more than seven, honestly – but these seven reasons are more than enough for anyone to realize that exposing themselves to the great outdoors is the best way to prevent a serious disease and drastically improve your health.

1. Great for Depression

There is a reason that most mental institutions are built in rural areas completely surrounded by nature. Multiple studies have shown that being in nature is a great way to improve your mental health and just calm down and take a break from the hectic, urban way of life. If you find that you suffer from any kind of mental condition, no matter how severe or not severe it is, taking a nice, long, relaxing stroll through the woods can probably do wonders and give you some real peace of mind.

2. Fighting Cancer

A recent Japanese study has actually proven that spending time in the great outdoors can improve your body’s natural mechanism for fighting cancer, so if you have a history of cancer in your family it is a great idea to expose yourself to some fresh forest air every once in a while. The study has succeeded in showing that walking through the woods every now and then is a great way to boost the number of NK cells in your body, cells that are imperative in fighting dormant tumors.

3. Better Sleep

This one is pretty much a given, and anyone who’s spent a night in a forest lodge probably already knows this, but I think that it is worth mentioning anyway. The quality of your sleep is drastically better after a long, nice walk in the woods, and lately this has been scientifically proven as well. The reason behind this is that human beings are pretty much rigged to rise and lay as the sun goes up and down. Our sleep cycles are tied to the cycle of day and night, and spending some time away from screens and other manner of artificial illumination is a great way of reminding our bodies of  this very important fact.

4. Good for Brain Activity

If you sometimes feel like you just can’t get your head together to work on that important school paper, a project work for work or something like that, it might be time to take a stroll through the woods. In fact, a lot of kindergartens around the world (especially Germany) are being built in forested areas, as recent research suggests that it has a positive effect on the cognitive development of children’s’ brains.

5. It Regulates Blood Pressure

High or low blood pressure is a common condition that many people around the world experience and it can be quite dangerous if left unmonitored; the good news is that a walk through the forest can do wonders for your cardiovascular health and even help get your blood pressure back to normal.

6.  Helps with Obesity

Just like blood pressure issues, obesity is something that an increasingly large number of people suffer from day to day, and certain studies have shown that one of the best and healthiest ways to lose weight is just to go on a good old-fashioned, long walk through a natural environment. You’ll burn a lot of calories, and thanks to all that fresh air you won’t feel as drained or as fatigued as you might feel when you come back from a gym. Instead, it’s common to feel invigorated and full of energy, which is always a plus when it comes to exercise, so you won’t end up craving all sorts of unhealthy foods afterward.

7. Reduced Stress

Finally, spending time in the great outdoors is a great way to battle one of the most dangerous everyday phenomena that constantly threatens to compromise our health – stress. Stress can lead to a number of mental and physical conditions, and spending time outside in a pollution-free and noise-free environment is the best thing that you can do to minimize or even eliminate your stress altogether. Consider it an investment in your overall health, and there is nothing that should be more important to you than your health.

Healthy living and wellbeing have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified fitness instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of staying in shape and keeping his inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on as one of its revered writers.




Is Gluten Really Bad for You?

It’s doubtful that you haven’t heard the term “gluten-free” by now. Most often it is discussed when referring to Celiac disease. Celiac disease is a digestive autoimmune disorder associated with intolerance to gluten. Any product containing wheat, rye or barley must be avoided. People with Celiac are not optimally absorbing the nutrients from the food they eat. The symptoms range from diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, abdominal or joint pain to fatigue, brain fog, weakness, anemia, skin rashes and depression which is why it is not always easily diagnosed. In addition, if left untreated it can cause damage to the small intestine. If you have any of the above symptoms and have not been able to get any relief, ask your doctor to test you for Celiac. It is also genetic so keep that in mind if you have children who exhibit any of these symptoms. In some cases people who have Celiac may have a reaction to soy and dairy as well.

The hard part about eliminating gluten is that it can be found in everything from canned food to condiments such as ketchup and salad dressing. If you love sushi ask for the gluten-free soy sauce. You need to read labels. Even when you go to a restaurant, make sure you ask questions. There can be cross contamination in restaurants if they don’t have a gluten-free zone where they prepare food.

The good news is that once you are diagnosed and start avoiding gluten and clean up your digestive track you will feel like a new person. You should also know that you may test negative for Celiac but could still be sensitive to gluten. It is recommended that anyone with an autoimmune condition avoid gluten. Gluten can cause an inflammatory response in the body making an autoimmune issue worse. Here again it is important to get to the root of the problem and look at the whole person and see what is out of balance. I have Hashimoto’s which is an autoimmune thyroid condition however gluten is not a problem for me.

So many people have told me that they gave up gluten because they heard it is bad for you and causes weight gain. As a result many have given up not only gluten but all grains.  This is where being bombarded with so much information can get confusing.  First remember that no two people are alike. One person’s medicine is another person’s poison and vice versa. Beware whenever you read about anything to an extreme …extreme diet and food regiments, weight loss or even taking large amounts of supplements.

We have been eating wheat and gluten for thousands of years. Gluten is fine as long as you are eating good quality non-processed foods containing gluten and you are able to digest it. Gluten free packaged foods are a big industry now however they are just more processed food laden with harmful chemicals.  You are better off eating good quality sourdough or whole grain bread.  With giving up all grains there is a risk of not getting enough fiber.   Fiber is necessary to maintain bowel health and keep everything “moving”, control blood sugar and cholesterol and also maintain and achieve a healthy weight. Ironically we have an epidemic of obesity, diabetes and people taking stain drugs which are three issues a high fiber diet can help.

Many times gluten is not the problem.  Consuming processed or refined foods, sugar and non-organic foods that are sprayed with toxic chemicals affect our ability to absorb nutrients and also damage the digestive tract. This can lead to problems such as leaky gut.   You are what you eat but also what you digest.  If you cannot properly digest your food then you are not benefitting from all the rich minerals and nutrients that enable the body to achieve and maintain optimal health.  So first get to the root cause of why gluten or any food is a problem for you.   Make sure you read labels and if you cannot identify an ingredient put the item back. Try to eat as close to nature as possible and organic whenever your budget allows. You will never go wrong with fresh, local, organic whole foods and your body will thank you!
For more information about Celiac and gluten, go to:

healthy wishes,


Live Long & Prosper – Guidelines for a Healthy 2017 and Beyond!

Since most people don’t like to read long dissertations on anything I wanted to offer some guidelines to live long and prosper.  So here goes:

  • Eat plenty of fruits (choose low glycemic fruits like berries) and vegetables (less starchy and more leafy greens).
  • Make sure you buy as much organic as your budget allows.  Dairy is a MUST and make it grass-fed.  There are certain fruits and vegetables you can get away with not buying organic but some you must. Chart below.
  • Buy non GMO products.
  • Stay away from packaged, boxed or canned food unless the can is BPA free. Many foods come in cartons now. Frozen is better option.
  • Eat only wild fish like salmon and sardines that are filled with omega 3 fatty acids which are good for your health.  They are also safe fish to eat without toxins.
  • Use extra virgin olive oil for salads (do not fry or cook on the stove with it) and unrefined coconut oil for frying or sautéing.
  • Eat meat as a condiment but make sure it’s grass fed and doesn’t have any antibiotics or hormones present.
  • If the product you are buying has more than a few ingredients, don’t but it.  If you can’t identify ingredients on a label, put it back on the shelf.
  • Fall in love with cooking at home.  Food in restaurants is filled with salt and sugar.
  • Use as many herbs and spices as you can. They have tremendous health benefits.
  • Take probiotics or eat plain yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut or kimchi.  Most people have digestive issues.  The gut is responsible for the health of our immune system and an unhealthy gut can lead to depression and more research is being done linking gut issues to Alzheimer’s.   Along with a healthy diet and exercise, consider taking a probiotic or supplements from sites as buymodafinilonline that improve body and mind.
  • Sugar is the culprit of many diseases…stay away from it!
  • Try meditation for at least five minutes a day and work up to ten then twenty. It’s a practice so stick with it even if your mind races.  That’s normal.  You will be so happy you did!
  • Exercise but make sure it’s fun.  Yoga and Tai Chi are great for alleviating stress along with a whole host of health benefits.
  • Take large breaks from social media. You are missing out on so much by filling your mind with other people’s lives.
  • Consume less.  Buying things does not contribute to happiness, quite the contrary. Take joy in experiences rather than things.
  • Spend more time in nature.
  • Help others less fortunate.
  • Treasure the people you love and have compassion for those you don’t.
  • Don’t obsess.
  • Love, love , love!
  • Enjoy a glass of good red wine!