Is your food helping you? Take your diet to the next level with heavy hitting anti-inflammatory foods.
1. Turmeric is my favorite “ace” anti-inflammatory herb. Research shows benefit in reducing inflammatory processes in neurodegenerative disease, joint inflammation, infection induced inflammation and potentially on reducing biofilms. In medicinal herb formulas I use much larger quantities than would ever taste palatable in a curry dish. However, small amounts on a regular basis will have a useful effect when combined with other anti-inflammatory foods and herbs. Are you having a particularly inflamed day? Add 1 tsp to 4 oz water, swish and drink. Repeat 2-3 x a day.
2. Garlic is best raw for antibacterial and anti fungal properties. It is a good food to help prevent candida, improve circulation and potentially help with biofilms as well. You have to be creative to eat garlic raw… and a little brave. Add 1-2 crushed cloves to salad dressings, add to homemade or store bought pesto and guacamole, add 1-2 cloves to fresh homemade veg and fruit juice. Make garlic oxymel for a sweeter delivery.
Indian proverb – “Garlic is as good as ten mothers.”
3. Blueberries are rich in polyphenols, and in particular OPC’s a unique antioxidant that has specific affinity for capillary function, improving microcirculation, reducing oxidative damage to capillaries, improve venous return and more. All red and blue fruits are particularly rich in these compounds. Increasing intake of blueberries (and other red and blue fruits) can help with symptoms such as shortness of breath, and numbness and tingling.
4. Avocado Rich in monosaturated fat and fiber, two essential nutrients for healing, avocados are a good addition to one’s healing diet. A half cup avocado contains 5 grams fiber, and keeping fiber to at least 30 g a day will help reduce ‘herx’ response from antibiotic treatment and improve detoxification and elimination. This west-coast fruit is also very rich in monosaturated fatty acids that are key for healthy cardiovascular health and neurological function. Fats improve absorption of key nutrients like D and carotenoids. It is best when dealing with Lyme to shift the balance towards less starch and more high quality fat.
5. Kombucha For many of my clients kombucha is a favorite way to get healthy live bacteria (probiotics) in a non-gluten and non-dairy food source. It is fairly low in sugar, usually having less than 3 g per serving. I recommend 4-6 oz a day. A strange drink, certainly. It is much cheaper if you can make it at home. Daily intake of probiotic foods is a key to survival from long-term antibiotics and systemic infectious disease in general.
6. Kale is the ‘green of the moment’, but really it is one member of a wonderful group of nutrient-dense dark leafy greens. Dark leafy greens like kale, collards, mustard greens, spinach, etc provide minerals, fiber, folate and support detoxification and assist healing from Lyme. Dark leafies are a great source of magnesium, which is depleted by some antibiotics, most notably the macrolide antibiotics (Azithromycin, Zithromax, Biaxin). Dark leafy greens are calming to nervous and muscular skeletal systems.
When I had my own herb product business, Dancing Violet Botanicals, I used to make and package Salty Dog – a salt substitute. It was one of my client’s favorite recipes! Now with a busy clinical, teaching and mentoring schedule I don’t have time to develop and produce products. When I discontinued making the product, I taught people how to make the recipe. And now I am sharing with you. You can purchase all the ingredients from Mountain Rose Herbs or local health food stores.
5 part Nutritional yeast
3 part Kelp powder
2.5 part lightly roasted Sesame seed, ground
2 part lightly roasted Milk thistle seed, ground
2 part Garlic, powder
1 part Nettles, powder
A part is whatever you want it to be, i.e. 1 part = 1 Tblsp or 1 part = 1 tsp. It depends on how big of a batch you want to make.
To roast seeds, spread a thin layer on cookie tray and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Grind seeds and nettles in coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Blend all ingredients together. Store in airtight jar.
My favorite use for Salty dog is on air popped organic (nonGMO) popcorn, with olive oil. Spray olive oil on popcorn using a refillable sprayer, try Misto Stainless Steel Olive Oil Sprayer. Then sprinkle with salty dog. Enjoy!
Nutritional yeast – is derived from a single celled organism, Saccharomyces cerevisia, grown on molasses. It is deactived, dried and powdered. Nutritional Yeast is rich in B vitamins, and offers a small amount of B12 and protein from a vegetarian source.
Kelp – Mineral rich, iodine rich, excellent thyroid supportive food. Make sure to buy good quality, like Maine Coast or from Island Herbs. Kelp is a good replacement for table salt due to the nice balance of sodium and potassium.
Sesame Seed – Rich in calcium, magnesium and zinc for muscle, bone, immune health to name a few, phytosterols to help lower cholesterol. Adds a nice nutty flavor to the mix
Milk thistle – An excellent herbal medicine for supporting optimal liver function, bile output, supporting blood sugar regulation and detoxification.
Garlic – Excellent flavor option, rich in sulfur compounds, in larger quantities supports heart health, blood pressure, detoxification and joint health.
Nettles – Nettles is a great mineral rich weed, food and medicine. It does sting, but not in the dried, cooked or pureed form. Rich in Vitamin K, minerals, protein and silica, I like to call it “spinach on steroids.”
We won’t debate the existence of CLD (Chronic Lyme Disease) in this post. The fact is most people feel unwell if Lyme disease is untreated, co-infections are undiagnosed/untreated or if these infections are ineffectively treated. So what to do now? There is a lot you can do and it starts with what you put in your mouth 3-6 times a day. You guessed it. FOOD. You have to eat right? Why not make it work FOR you and not against you.
1. Eat lots of vegetables – baked, steamed, in smoothies, in salads. Fill 1/2 your plate with these amazing foods. Get diversity in color, red beets, orange carrots, yellow squash, white leeks, green kale, blue potatoes. Have fun.
2. Eat fruits too. Vegetables are more important than fruits but fruits matter. The red and blue ones are particularly supportive, reducing symptoms of numbness, shortness of breath.
3. Eliminate or reduce coffee and alcohol. 80% of the people I see with Chronic Lyme are reactive to coffee and alcohol, whether it is caused by altered liver metabolism or excess irritation of the nervous system, it seems to occur whether or not individuals are on antibiotics. You can replace with herbal teas, like gotu kola (support collagen), skullcap (relaxation), holy basil (support blood sugar), dandelion root (support liver health), etc.
4. Eliminate gluten and sugar. These inflammatory foods will slow healing. It is a challenging task. Ideally one would do a “food elimination and rechallenge” and identify all potential food sensitivities and allergies that may inhibit healing. But this is even more challenging. Best to start with these two (gluten and sugar).
5. Eat fermented foods. What are those??? Foods with live bacteria. You can take probiotics in a capsule and yet it is so enjoyable to eat fermented foods. Examples include: kombucha, real fermented pickles like Bubbies, yogurt, sauerkraut, miso. Real fermented foods can only be found in the fridge section of your grocery store. They are not easy to find and it is best to make your own. See a sample video here.
6. Eat balanced meals to stabilize blood sugar, fuel the brain, provide proper nutrition for healing. What is a balanced meal? See the sample plate to the right. If vegan, proteins can be beans, nuts, seeds, soy, nondairy milks like hemp to name a few.
This is just the beginning, but what a change you can feel if you follow these 6 tips. Next up… Best medicinal foods for Lyme
What is eating locally? It is eating food that is grown in your region. This could mean growing your own produce, joining a CSA, shopping at a producer-only farmer’s market or checking the source of your produce at the grocery store.
2. Food is healthier. For the reasons stated above, food harvested at the peak time will be more nutrient dense. Avoids the use of fruit ripening agents and coloring agents used to mask lack of vitality in the plant. Also, animals raised on small farms generally have more humane living conditions.
3. You can talk to the person who grew your food and support your local farmer. Make sure your farmer’s market is a producer-only farmer’s market so you are buying directly from the farmer.
4. Food is generally less toxic. Generally less pesticides are used at small local farms. Most local farmers can’t afford to be certified organic through the USDA, as it costs about 50,000 just to submit an application. But small farmers may use techniques to reduce the need for pesticides such as integrated pest management.
5. Save money. Buying direct from the farmer may be cheaper than going through a middle man.
6. You can support local business and local economy.
7. You can help the environment. Reduces carbon emissions. Have you wondered how much it costs to ship a garlic bulb from China?
8. Eat with the seasons. Eating food in season saves money. Also the plants that grow locally are exposed to the same environmental stressors as you are, they secrete secondary plant metabolites in response to those stressors. Those secondary plant metabolites are the medicinal components of the food we eat.
9. Try new foods and new recipes! The farmer’s market or a CSA is a great opportunity to try weird new foods. What do you do with Kohlrabi anyways!? Live on the wild side and eat purple carrots and potatoes.
10. Support plant diversity instead of mono cropping. Monocropping disturbs ecosystems. Americans are getting sick eating diets that consist of soy, citrus, peanuts, wheat, corn and dairy. Our ancestors ate diets rich in a diversity of plants.
Beans are rich in antioxidants, fiber and protein. They are rich in plant estrogen-like compounds. Useful for a variety of conditions, including heart disease, menopause, a variety of female disorders, osteoporosis, constipation, to name a few.
These are tips for sneaking beans into your diet or the diet of a picky eater.
1. Mash white beans or northern beans into tuna salad. 1/4 cup for every can of tuna. I did this the other night. No one could guess the secret ingredient in the tuna salad. Get chunk light, skipjack or tongol tuna for lower mercury content. Download the National Resources Defense Council to see lowest mercury fish.
2. Sneak into chocolate pudding. Try this tofu chocolate pudding recipe. You will never know it is made with tofu.
3. Add beans to smoothies. The extra protein helps balance blood sugar and provide a more nutrient dense snack or breakfast. (Thanks to my friend and chef, Bonnie Gray for teaching me this trick). Basic smoothie recipe – 1 cup almond or other unsweetened milk, 1/3 cup frozen organic berries, 1/2 banana, 1/4 cup white, pinto or fava beans. Add more liquid as needed.
5. Make burgers out of them! This is a favorite recipe from Myra Kornfeld, chef extraordinaire!
Black Bean Burgers a modified recipe, original recipe by Myra Kornfeld
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, roasted unsalted
1 ¾ cup cooked black beans (1 can)
2 tablespoons coconut oil plus more for sautéing the burgers
1 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon chile powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup bean cooking liquid or water
Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté 7 to 10 minutes until softened.
- Warm the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and ½ teaspoon salt and sauté 7 to 10 minutes until softened.
- Add the garlic, cumin, chile powder, and oregano; and sauté another minute. Add 1/3 of the beans with 1/3 cup water (or bean cooking liquid if you have cooked them fresh), mashing the beans with a potato masher or fork. When the liquid is absorbed, continue with another third of both the beans and 1/3 cup water. Continue mashing until most of the beans are broken up and the mixture is chunky. Do this 1 last time with the last 1/3 of the beans and the last 1/3 cup of the water. Cook, stirring constantly at this point until the liquid is absorbed and the beans are very thick but not completely dry.
- Transfer the beans to a medium bowl to cool until handleable, about 15 minutes. Stir in the sunflower seeds. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Spread a layer of pumpkin seed powder on a small plate. Form the bean mix into 12 small patties.
- Dredge each patty in the sunflower seed powder.
- Sauté the burgers; Warm a tablespoon oil in a medium non-stick skillet. Add the patties and sauté in batches until golden, about 2 minutes on each side. Add more oil if necessary, just enough to have a thin film. Serve hot.
Most people prefer to eat sweets in moderation. Why is this so hard to do? Let’s face it. Sugar is addictive. Some individuals I work with feel that sugar is an all or nothing conversation and that staying away completely works best. Others find this approach leads to restriction/overindulging swings. A healthy approach to sugar is not “one size fits all.”
For those that are trying to find moderation and struggling, I have invented the single serving homemade chocolate recipe. It does not live in the cupboard. It needs to be made nightly. It is gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free (hard to find in chocolate bars). And it is arguable the best tasting chocolate I have ever had.
2 tsp coconut oil
1 Tblsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp coconut palm sugar
1-2 tsp milk alternative
sprinkle of sea salt
(optional) raw pistachios or other nuts, dried fruit
Melt coconut oil if not liquid. Stir in all ingredients except pistachios and milk. Line very small bowl with plastic wrap. Place nuts, dried fruit (as desired) on plastic wrap and pour chocolate mixture over top. Place in fridge for 30 minutes then enjoy.
There are 9 tsp of sugar in one 20 oz bottle of gatorade. This amount of extra sugar is useless to most except maybe the elite athlete.
Are sports drinks needed in some cases?
When you are sweating, sweating a lot from exercise, you need to replenish both electrolytes and water. Sweat contains electrolytes as well as water (thus the salty taste of sweat). Generally, a typical person who exercise 30-60 minutes a day does not need added electrolytes from sports drinks but rather can acquire them from their food (fruit, vegetables, beans), in addition to hydrating with water. Marketing has misled some to believe that sports drinks are the only way to replenish lost electrolytes. Drinking water and eating a balanced diet is sufficient in most cases. Hydrating is important. The body will tell you when it is thirsty with symptoms such as a dry mouth. Listen and drink water during physical activity.
Are there healthier options to gatorade and sugary sports drinks?
Here are a few options to replenish electrolytes and water during a strenuous workout:
- Orange juice with a pinch of sea salt
- Coconut water
- Water, pinch of sea salt and healthy fruit snacks
- Ultimate Replenisher (contains corn)
- Emergency Electromix (contains corn)
Are you dancing around the table, trying to get your kids to eat broccoli. Join the club. Here are some tips from one parent to another.
1. Model healthy eating habits. Humans have mirror neurons that encourage us to imitate health behaviors we see in others.
2. Visit farms, pick berries, grow a garden. There is nothing like tasting a tomato from the garden.
3. Decide what, where and when. Let the kids decide whether or how much. Author Ellyn Satter of “Your Child’s Weight: Helping Without Harming” suggests that snacking and lack of structure is one major cause of obesity in our children. Timing meals allows children to become familiar with hunger and satiety signals rather than snacking all day.
4. Let them help in the kitchen. Have some messy fun making 2 ingredient banana cookies. Healthy food can be fun to make and eat!
5. Exposure. Keep serving vegetables.
6. Avoid sodas and fruit juice. It is better for children to eat their calories than drink them. High glycemic drinks shift metabolism and promote obesity.
7. Love your body. Demonstrate healthy body image for your kids. Show them you care about your body and your health.
8. Make tasty food. A little fat and spice goes a long way. Baked sweet potato fries. Mashed cauliflower.
9. Have fun with your food. Turn broccoli into trees, a clown face with your salad, see more ideas here Making Food Fun.