A+ Liver Pate

A+ Liver Pate

If you look at the diets of ancestral populations, you will find one commonality – they all prize and consume organ meats or offal.  The reason is simple – this is nature’s multi-vitamin.  Liver is rich in the nutrients that most modern diets lack - vitamins A, D, E, and K, vitamin B-12, folate, iron, and copper.  If there was a true super food, this would it be it, people.  Feeling squeamish?  No worries – pate is the most appetizing and easiest way to get started with liver.  Unfortunately, most grocery stores are short on a clean option.  This recipe lays out a clean, delicious version, so that you can get that A+ rated diet.  Make sure to use a clean (organic and free-range) liver source if possible.  Enjoy!

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Get my sports nutrition article from Personal Trainer Magazine for FREE!

Get my sports nutrition article from Personal Trainer Magazine for FREE!

Whether you are a competitive athlete or you train recreationally, you can benefit from sports nutrition.  In this article, I break down the details you need:

  • The most common nutrient deficiencies among athletes
  • How needs differ between strength, endurance, and combination athletes (i.e. Crossfit)
  • How sports nutrition varies between men and women
  • Important considerations with regard to supplements, how to find a trustworthy source, and where to learn more
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Gestational Diabetes - A Diet and Meal Plan

Gestational Diabetes - A Diet and Meal Plan

Diagnosed with gestational diabetes?  Conventional wisdom is unlikely to resolve it.  Learn an evidence-based, ancestral approach that will improve your blood sugar control.   This article provides a specific, sane diet and meal plan. 

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Re-Mixed Paleo Waffles

Photo credit: Erika Liu

Photo credit: Erika Liu

It’s rare, but once in a while being disorganized really pays off.  I have a grain-free waffle recipe that I’ve used for ages, and my kids love it.  One day I promised them the waffles, then reached into my fridge to find…not enough eggs.  By half - the recipe calls for six and I had three.  Fortunately, I had an extra banana.  The old recipe also called for melted coconut oil but I only had ghee.....  

So, I tried this new version and it worked out great.  However, if you are organized enough to have six eggs in your house, feel free to revert to the old version.  Remember to only use one ripe banana in that case.  It's your choice on coconut oil versus ghee.  

I have a spice blend called Cinnamon Plus that is basically pumpkin pie spice with dried orange peel added.  It tastes great in these but feel free to substitute pumpkin pie spice blend or just cinnamon.

Overall, I love how this recipe is a 'paleo' replacement of a grain food but WITHOUT a lot of grain-free flour - just 1/3 cup total, from coconut flour.  It's full of clean protein, fiber, and ancestral, beneficial fats.  There's no inflammation-promoting fat or refined flour and they taste great.  I like to top these with a little bit of nut butter, and the kids love maple syrup.  Berries are also great on top.  Experiment and enjoy!

Oh, and a big shout-out to food photographer Erika Liu!  As you can see, her pictures are gorgeous.  Thanks for the help, Erika!


Photo credit: Erika Liu

Photo credit: Erika Liu


Re-Mixed Paleo Waffles 

Hands-on time: 15 minutes / Total time: 15 minutes 

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) Cinnamon Plus, pumpkin pie spice, or cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) whole chia seeds (optional)
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut flour
  • 1 tsp (5ml) cinnamon
  • 4 Tbsp (60ml) ghee or coconut oil (melted)

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat your waffle iron (this recipe can also work as pancakes).
  2. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl.
  3. Add the mashed bananas, baking powder, sea salt, coconut flour, cinnamon, and chia seeds and mix well.
  4. Add melted coconut oil and mix again.   
  5. Cook in waffle iron using ~1/3 cup batter per waffle.
  6. Serve with your topping of choice.  A few of our favorites are nut butter, pure fruit preserves, maple syrup, coconut whipped cream, pan-fried apples, or a little honey.

Did you give this recipe a try?  I'd love to hear how it went in the comments below!  You can also contact me or get more tips from the social links below.

The What, Why, and How of Genetic Testing

genetic testing.jpg

Genetics is a topic that can be a little confusing and intimidating for people.  My aim here is to help you understand whether genetic testing can be helpful, what it can be helpful for, and what to look for in a genetic test.

What is Genetic Testing, Anyway?

First of all, nutrition-related genetic markers can be broken into two major categories – nutrigenomics and nutrigenetics.

Nutrigenetics is what you probably think of when you imagine genetic testing.  Your DNA gets tested for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that control the way your body functions.  For example, approximately 20% of the population has a version of the gene called TNF-alpha that is closely associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation, obesity, insulin resistance, and altered blood lipids.  In short, metabolic syndrome.  In these individuals, omega-3 fatty acids such as found in olive oil and fatty fish are ESPECIALLY important and helpful. 

In another example, some people have the E4 version of a gene called APOE.  This E4 SNP greatly increases risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s Disease, and is highly sensitive to dietary changes.  While saturated fat is not something to worry about for most people, those with the E4 version of the APOE gene DO need to follow a low-saturated fat diet, and they are also highly sensitive to smoking and alcohol. 

It would be pretty good to know either of those examples applies to you, right?  But here’s where it gets pretty amazing.  Remember that nutrigentics addresses how genes change the body’s function.  On the other hand, NUTRIGENOMICS addresses how the environment changes the behavior of genes.  In order to explain that, let’s talk about the Human Genome Project. 

Why the Human Genome Project was a Disappointment

You may recall that the Human Genomic Project was a massive scientific undertaking that took 13 years, thousands of researchers, and billions of dollars of funding.  The goal was to sequence the human genome and the project was completed in 2003.  The project initially made enticing claims that it would lead to breakthroughs in the areas of cancer, heart disease, genetic diseases, diabetes, and mental health disorders.  Unfortunately, none of those promises came to fruition with the completion of the project.  This is because the scientists poorly understood an extremely important detail - epigenetics

It turns out that our environment has a major impact on the way our genes behave.  Imagine your genes forming a giant switch-board.  Environmental factors such as diet, stress, sleep, and exercise are what MOVE THE SWITCHES.  This is mainly accomplished by methylation, the addition or subtraction of a methyl group to DNA.  This turns the gene ‘on’ or ‘off’ or can even act like a dimmer, increasing or decreasing that gene’s action.

So, just knowing your genetic code doesn’t tell the whole story.  Epigenetics and nutrigenomics are the sciences of how environmental cues move our genetic switches.

I don’t mean at all that the Human Genome Project was worthless.  I just mean that our understanding of genetics has evolved – we now know that behavior and environment play much more of a significant role than previously believed.  This is GOOD news for us – your genes aren’t your destiny.  With the right data and plan we can literally hack our DNA. 

With the right data and plan we can literally hack our DNA

As an example of nutrigenomics, consider a compound called sulphoraphane that comes from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower.  Sulphoraphane literally switches on (upregulates) the genes responsible for eliminating toxins from the body.  This reduces cancer risk for everyone, but especially if you have the less active versions of those genes (if you have poor detoxification).  Wouldn’t you like to know if your detoxification genes are under-performers, so that you could know how much sulphoraphane you need to eat to reduce your cancer risk?  It’s pretty cool that you have that option. 

In a sense, the food you eat isn’t simply a compilation of nutrients – it’s information. 

But Watch Out…

Unfortunately, there’s a lot of noise in the genetic testing world.  The most common problem I see is that someone will pay for their 23&Me results.  This gets them a $200 string of meaningless data that they don’t know how to interpret.  So, they pay to put it through a filter such as Genetic Genie.  Unfortunately, they still don’t have something from the filter that gives them clear, actionable data.  So, they come looking for a real person to help them, but already $300 down the road with no results. 

So, yes, genetic testing can be helpful.  But you have to be careful.  There are a few really important things to look for when it comes to genetic testing:

  • The company keeps your genetic data private and secure (note: 23&Me sells your genetic data for research!)
  • They have a reputable scientific panel who can responsibly gauge what genetic SNPs have meaning, and what the true meaning is.  You should be getting on the order of 50 SNPs, not thousands.  There is not data to support clinically relevant recommendations for thousands of different genes, so that is a red flag.
  • Beware the single SNP.  One gene never tells the whole story.  Simply knowing your MTHFR or COMT gene result does NOT tell your whole methylation or clinical story.  Again, look for something on the order of 50 SNPs, not ONE and not THOUSANDS.
  • Watch out for third party interests.  Is the place where you’re getting genetic testing selling your data, or pushing dietary supplements based on the result?  Caution.  Some dietary supplements may be beneficial for some genetic results but selling supplements shouldn’t be a primary, up-front goal of the brand/company.  For example, not everyone with an MTHFR variation needs high-dose methylated B-vitamins.  In fact, that can be dangerous in some cases.  Which leads me to…
  • You should be getting professional counseling with your result.  A trained healthcare professional can help you translate your results into meaningful and effective diet and lifestyle recommendations.  They will consider your whole clinical picture within the context of your genetics.  Otherwise, you’re left with a bunch of meaningless code, or generic guidelines.  Try to work with someone who can incorporate food into your treatment plan.  Remember that food is information for your body!

So, Who Can Benefit?

One way to tell a bad genetic test is if you see promises that it will tell you everything about you and your health.  There are specific genes and SNPs that have good scientific data behind them, and others that don’t.  A good test will only report on the genes that have been shown by research to have a strong effect, and that are actionable with diet and/or lifestyle interventions. 

Fortunately, there is quite a bit that you can reliably know.  Genetic testing can tell you:

  • If you have increased risk of cardiovascular disease, dyslipidemia, inflammation, and obesity – and what to do about it
  • If your body is better adapted for a diet higher or lower in carbohydrates – and how to eat based on that result
  • If you are better adapted for a high or low-fat diet, and what types of fats you should consume
  • If you are a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine and, thus, whether it is harmful for you
  • If you have robust or poor detoxification mechanisms, which contributes to cancer risk – and how to eat in response to that
  • The type of sports activity you are best suited for, and how to fuel for performance
  • The vitamins and minerals you metabolize less well and, thus, need to increase in your diet.  The most well-known example of this is your MTHFR and COMT genes and how they contribute to your methylation/utilization of the B vitamins folate and B-12. 
  • Your tolerance for dietary sodium
  • Your natural tendencies for cravings and snacks
  • If you have a genetic predisposition for intolerance to gluten and/or lactose/dairy

Where to Begin

Bottom-line, genetic testing is at a point where you can get useful information from it.  However, for good results, it is extremely important to work with a responsible lab and with the help of a trained professional.  I currently use several labs for genetic testing but in my opinion the best panel comes from Nutrigenomix.  You can get a sample test report from their website, or from me.  Some other reputable sources of genetic testing include Genova Labs, Great Plains Laboratories, and Spectracell. 

Who Should Do It

In my opinion, the best candidates for genetic testing are people who:

  • Have a family history of cancer or heart disease, or who have risk factors for them (i.e. obesity, insulin resistance, and/or dyslipidemia)
  • Have tried to improve on their health (lose weight, improve blood lipids, reverse insulin resistance, or decrease inflammation) without success
  • Have an interest in knowing their ideal diet: macronutrients (fats, carbs, and protein), and nutrients (vitamins/minerals) that require increased consumption and/or supplementation.

I hope this article helped to clarify the confusing and somewhat intimidating field of genetic testing.  This testing can fit into a functional medicine framework, but should be combined with your full, unique picture to make helpful, actionable recommendations for diet and lifestyle interventions.  If you have further questions or are interested in getting tested please feel free to contact me for details. 

Best wishes to you, and please feel free to share or comment using the below links.

An ancestral approach to infant and child nutrition

Whether you have a child, are pregnant, have grandchildren, or even if you're considering conceiving a baby, then don't miss this article!  You'll learn:

  • The most common misconceptions regarding infant and child feeding:
  1. When to introduce solids and WHAT to introduce
  2. How to set yourself up for success with breastfeeding
  3. The NEW rules for when to introduce potential allergens such as peanut butter
  4. How to get children to eat healthy foods like vegetables
  • A common contributor to colic, autism, ADHD, anemia, digestive problems and failure to thrive - and how to avoid it
  • My number one tip for mothers and moms-to-be

You can access the article here.  Enjoy!

Detox 101 And The Top 10 Cleanising Foods

Detox 101 And The Top 10 Cleanising Foods

Get the straight, evidence-based facts on detox:

  • Who needs it
  • Where toxins come from
  • What their effects are
  • What foods aid detox the most
  • What NOT to do - how to spot a 'scam detox'
  • What other dietary and lifestyle strategies you can use
  • How to get more help
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Apple Gelatin Gummies (or "pancakes")

If you're interested in improving gut and joint health, then you should be eating gelatin.  Athletes, you should be eating it for recovery, although this shouldn't be your post-workout recovery protein.  It also can help with skin, hair, and nails.  Gelatin is part of an ancestral diet - a protein derived from collagen.  I've refined (what I think) is the perfect recipe to share with you.

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The Gut-Brain Connection and Mental Health

The Gut-Brain Connection and Mental Health

The microbiome is an exciting and fascinating area of medical research.  It is now clear that gut bacteria can effect not only digestive health, but mental health as well.  Traditional treatments for cognitive conditions such as depression, anxiety, autism, ADHD, migraines, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s Disease are incredibly limited, and seldom account for the gut-brain connection.  Thus, it is critical to address gut health when treating these conditions.  In fact, gut health should be optimized for mental health in general. 

This can be accomplished through a combination of increasing probiotics and natural prebiotics, reducing sugar intake, avoiding foods that increase gut permeability and inflammation, and possibly working with a practitioner for further testing, therapeutic diet guidance, and supplement recommendations.

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FODMAPs - The Key to Improving IBS Symptoms

FODMAPs - The Key to Improving IBS Symptoms

Approximately 20% of Americans suffer from IBS, and receive little relief from conventional treatment approaches.  Fortunately, low-FODMAP diets have been shown to improve symptoms for 75% - 86% of IBS sufferers.  If you have IBS or similar symptoms (gas, bloating, pain, flatulence, diarrhea, and/or constipation), you can't afford not to try a low-FODMAP diet.  It should be implemented with the help of an experienced practitioner who can aid your success AND help investigate the underlying causes for FODMAP intolerance/IBS. 

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Announcing - Fat Loss 40!

Announcing - Fat Loss 40!

Make 2016 the year you finally lose it - for good.  Easily.

Here’s what to expect:

  • Lose 5-15 lbs in 40 days
  • Better sleep
  • Better digestion
  • Clearer head – less ‘brain fog’
  • Better skin
  • Have the tools to keep losing and feeling better on your own

And here's what you get:

  • A choice of two tracks - get better results with an approach that's best for YOU.
  • Access to members-only 'Fat Loss 40' Facebook group - I'll post tips and challenges, plus answer your burning questions!
  • Weekly email with additional tips and encouragement - implement the secrets from these emails to keep losing as long as you need to!
  • ZERO risk - get a full refund within the first 10 days, no questions asked.
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