Tag Archives: liver

First day: off to a great start

I woke up this morning feeling READY for the next 10 days. It’s funny how once I wrap my head around giving up some of the things I like to indulge in from time to time and instead focus on the great food and beverage choices I DO have, everything starts to fall into place.  Ten days is not such a long time yet it is just enough to feel the impact of making better choices, as well as learning how often I do cave in throughout the day(eat a cookie, a piece of candy on my co-worker’s desk, have that extra glass of wine, etc). So hopefully you will learn something about yourself as well as we embark on this journey together.

Here is the recipe for that yummy elixir that I spoke about yesterday. This is from a blog post that I wrote back in January, 2013 as some of us embarked on a new year’s cleansing start.

Excerpt from the original post:

“Golden Elixir” (great name): Boil up water, fill up your mug with hot water, add 1 Tblsp of fresh lemon juice, 1/8 tsp each of turmeric and ground ginger(you can always use fresh of course), a smidge of cayenne(or more if you like it spicy) and honey. I also added some truvia to make it a little sweeter. Drink a cup of this in the morning and at night. This is a powerful drink, loaded with anti-inflammatories and immune boosters, great for your liver and your adrenals. And I found it incredibly satisfying at the end of the day, when I often pour myself a glass of lovely red wine; this was a perfect substitute.

Enjoy.

Wishing you health and balance.

One of my favorite places to find and feel balance: the Oregon coast

One of my favorite places to find and feel balance: the Oregon coast

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Last minute shopping and ‘to do list’

Okay everyone, tomorrow is the big day for those of you who are joining us on our second ‘consciousness cleanse’ so here are some tips and suggestions to make it more enjoyable, beneficial and to help you measure your own progress and results.

1. Load up on fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains: bread/crackers/pasta/brown rice/quinoa and whatever else that intrigues you. Here are a few examples of the things that I tend to eat, but trust me, there are endless choices of all of these!

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my favorite produce choices

Some of my 'go-to' whole grains

Some of my ‘go-to’ whole grains

2. Stock up on a variety of healthy protein choices: beans, hummus, yogurt(high protein, no sugar), nuts, eggs, cheeses, tofu, tempeh, meats(hormone and antibiotic free whenever possible), chicken(free range organic is preferable), nut butters(without sugar, of course). These are all loaded with amino acids which are essential for brain health and mood stabilization, as well as for sustained energy and maintenance of muscles and bodily tissues.

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

Examples of easy, healthy protein sources

3. Have an assortment of beverages that you can choose from: herbal teas(see my post from yesterday), juices, kombucha, sparkling water and cider and for those of you who will be weaning slowly off of caffeine, decaf coffee and black teas.  In lieu of ‘cocktail hour’, try drinking a ‘VIrgin Mary and reap the benefits of the vegetable juices while savoring the taste of your drink or try sparkling water with a slice of lemon or orange.

4. Be sure to get in some physical exercise each day. Walking is great plus whatever else you enjoy. Drink plenty of water as well throughout the day.

5. If you are already taking a multivitamin, continue to do so. Other things to take: drink some Yogi De Tox tea, 1-2 cups /day, if it is available to you. Take Ashwaganda and Milk thistle: good for adrenal and liver support. We will make more suggestions later on.

5. Take some baseline measurements of your physical self, as well as some of the indicators that measure how well you sleep, your mood, energy level etc.

Today, weigh yourself, measure your waist at the smallest point, again around the umbilicus, your hips and thighs at their widest point: write these down in a place that you can easily locate in 11 days.

Also write down the answers to these questions: what time do you go to bed, awaken, how many times do you awaken throughout the night, are you rested upon arising, is it hard to fall asleep? What is your energy level like throughout the day: when are your peaks and valleys, how is your energy affected by eating/work/exercise/stress? What are your elimination patterns like: easy, diarrhea, constipation, bloating, gassy? What is your mood like throughout the day: anxious, depressed, irritable, happy, content, variable? Be sure to write all of this down as well!

On day 11, I will ask you to remeasure and re-answer those questions so that you can get a more objective assessment of how your body responds to cleaner, more conscious eating.

Okay, bon appetit to all.  We look forward to hearing your comments and we will keep you posted as well on our progress throughout the next 10 days.

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Preparations for our ‘cleanse’

Many of you have decided to join Candace and me on January 7th as we embark on our second ‘Menopausibilities consciousness cleanse’ so this is very exciting! Just a reminder that we are also running a mini-contest(in partnership with Pearl Women’s Center) for those of you who have decided to participate. In order to be eligible, please sign up as a follower on our blog(top right on the page) and/or become a friend of PWC on Facebook.  For every 5 days of the cleanse that you complete and make some comments either on the blog or the Facebook page, your name will be entered into the contest and at the completion of the 10 days, several lucky folks will receive some gifts: either gift certificates or books that support the message of our blog.

I have received quite a few questions about how the ‘cleanse’ works so just a quick review(Also, please go to my blog posts dated October 14-25, 2012 for more details and recipes):

During the 10 days starting on Monday, January 7th, you will eliminate the following from your daily diet:

1. Sugar: This is going to require you to look at labels of the things that you do eat. If you are someone who makes most of your food from scratch, this is pretty easy to eliminate. If not, this will be a great education in reading labels and learning how much hidden sugar is in prepared/processed foods. This is the consciousness portion of the cleanse! You can use stevia or Truvia as a sugar stand-in but you should avoid artificial sweeteners, even Splenda, as they are exactly that: artificial and therefore not good for you. You may also use coconut sugar/nectar ( I will be writing more about this at a later time) or limited amounts of honey and agave, but the goal is to try to avoid eating added sugars. Fruits and whole juices are fine and a wonderful treat would be a 100% fruit juice frozen bar; again read your labels!

2. Alcohol: Avoid any alcoholic beverages during the 10 days. In lieu of cocktail hour(if you are so inclined), pour some sparkling water over ice and add some fresh lemon/mint/slices of citrus fruit/be creative or have some nice hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick. I also love to drink herbal teas: go to your local grocery or ‘whole foods-type’ store and peruse the tea aisle. You will be amazed at the wide variety available to you.

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

Some of my favorite herbal teas and sweetener

3. Caffeine: This seems to be the most difficult substance for most to try to eliminate. Don’t let this one be your stumbling block to success. If you are used to consuming caffeinated beverages(or foods) on a daily basis, eliminating them cold-turkey might be rough, as caffeine-withdrawal headaches are extremely painful. So be smart: cut down on your intake gradually so that by the 10th day you are caffeine-free. Instead of reaching for coffee first thing upon awakening, try one of these first to get you doing: hot water with fresh slice of lemon( a terrific treat for your liver), a cup of your new favorite herbal tea, or perhaps some black or green tea: both of these contain some caffeine but also some valuable health benefits. Try to delay drinking that first cup of coffee a little bit longer each day and if you can, try to stay away from decaf coffee as well. Tea is preferable but do what works for you. This is YOUR cleanse and we want you to feel that you have some control over what you put into your body, but we all start from different points and we all will end up feeling better just by making some small changes in our own lives.

4. ‘The Whites’: this includes white flour, pasta, rice, potatoes and sugar. I actually think this is the easiest one to eliminate and has forced me to more creative in my recipe choices and food selections. Thankfully we live in a time when we have endless choices of whole grain breads/crackers/pastas/rice/grains as well as access to yams and sweet potatoes. This is a great time of year to dust off those cookbooks or pull out those old magazines that you have saved for the recipes and try something new. If you don’t feel like delving into a new recipe every day, cook up a pot of some quinoa and another of brown rice early in the week and have it ready to go for your weekday meals.

Throughout the 10 days, Candace and I will be writing our observations about how we feel, some of the challenges that come up, offer some recipes and tips to help keep all of us on track. We would love to hear what you are doing during this time to help you make these changes. We are so happy that you have decided to join us(some of you for the second time!) and we will be in touch. Please feel free to ask us questions along the way: no question is too basic, by the way.
“Eat food(whole foods), not too much, mostly plants”. Michael Pollan

Amen!

 

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Uh oh: too much fun the night before????

Tis the season for that occasional overindulgence. You had so much fun last evening drinking, eating and chatting away at a holiday party but now it’s the morning after: your head is pounding, your stomach is doing flip flops, the light hurts your eyes and you want to crawl back under the covers. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, no matter how mature we are, we sometimes don’t do a great job of preventing the dreaded hangover and that night of merriment leads to a day of regrets. The good news is that there is so much we can do to prevent this from happening, which will make your holidays that much brighter.

Here are some basic pointers you can do before you go out and during the evening to avoid waking up with that awful hungover feeling:

1. Before you go out, EAT FIRST. Try to have a snack of proteins and fatty foods(which will help to slow down the absorption of alcohol and decrease irritation of the stomach lining) and carbohydrates(these prevent low blood sugar and nausea). You might also include some spicy foods to stimulate your thirst, leading you to drink more water before you go out which will help you be adequately hydrated. One of the worst things you can do is go a party on an empty stomach! Here a few easy suggestions: brown rice and veggies; cheese, whole grain crackers and sliced apples or pears; hummous and whole grain pita bread; nuts and dried fruits….. and don’t forget to have some water, herbal tea or juice before you head out the door.

2. Once you get to the function, try to choose lighter color beverages: they contain less ‘congeners’, which are impurities that can exacerbate a hangover. Choose vodka, gin, white rum and white wine whenever possible.

3. Pace yourself. It takes about one hour for your body to metabolize 12 oz beer/ 5 oz wine and 1 and 1/2 oz of hard liquor. Alternate an alcoholic beverage with 8 oz of water. THIS IS ESSENTIAL!! Consuming alcohol causes dehydration, which causes your organs to steal water, thus ‘shrinking the brain'(which leads to the headache and foggy thinking). Daniel K Hall-Flavin, MD , a consultant in Addiction Psychology at the Mayo Clinic ,recommends that you drink 16-20 oz of water prior to going to sleep. Sports drinks have not been shown to be necessary to replace electrolytes, as this just doesn’t happen that quickly.  According to Samir Zakhar, PhD, Director of Metabolism and Health Effects at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse , there is no need to buy expensive ‘electrolyte drinks’: water works just as well.

4. There are several things you might consider taking to help your liver function optimally, as well as to decrease the possibility of a severe hangover. These include taking 1600 IU of prickly pear, 2 g of curcumin(turmeric: a natural anti-inflammatory ) and 175 mg of milk thistle.

5. Remember to eat throughout the evening. Food will help to absorb the alcohol.

So those are some of the best ways to prevent a hangover, but somehow you didn’t follow this advice and you have woken up feeling awful. What are some things that you can do now to make it through the day with a minimum of disruption?

1. Your head is pounding: DON’T reach for the Tylenol: acetaminophen is tough on the liver and you have already made your liver work overtime. Reach for plain old aspirin or ibuprofen(Advil for example) instead. These contain prostaglandins and will help relieve some of the inflammation and the pain. Take with copious amounts of water.

2. Exercise: it is a myth that you can ‘sweat it out’ but getting out into the fresh air and even just going to the gym and exercising will help to release some endorphins…believe me , this will help!

3. Reach for the probiotics: these will help to decrease the irritation of the stomach lining. Look for one that contains 10-20 billion CFU of lactobacillus ; these will increase the metabolism of alcohol.  Also take an antacid to help ease your discomfort.

4. Sleep in if you can. Drink water and herbal teas throughout the day. I also highly recommend drinking Kombucha: it has probiotics and is very calming to your digestive system

5. Eat when you awaken. Try to eat something with protein to replace your amino acids(which will replete your neurotransmitters) and carbs, which will help to maintain your blood glucose levels.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day)  it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

Red wine, Pinot noir in particular, is rich in resveratrol, an antioxidant protector of healthy cells against aging. When taken in moderation (no more than one glass a day) it also is known to have hormone balancing benefits.

Bottom line when it comes to hangovers: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure: try to use the strategies I have outlined above to prevent getting a hangover: you will enjoy the festivities of the holiday season that much more and your liver(and your hormones) will thank you!

Happy holidays to you. Please share any remedies that you may have for preventing and curing a hangover: we love to hear from you!

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“What if one small change could improve your WHOLE life”(tagline on cover of October issue, Whole Living)

October is here and with its  arrival comes that wonderful transition between the lazy days of summer and the arrival of cool crisp days, colorful fall leaves(depending of course on where you live!), digging through your ‘winter wardrobe’ and getting re-acquainted with life lived more indoors than out. It is also that time before the arrival of ‘the holidays’ and the onslaught of celebrations, busier schedules, over-indulgence of food and libations, often less sleep and feelings of being overwhelmed.

So this is a perfect time to hit the pause button(for those of you new to our blog, go back to my post from December 9, 2011: “Hitting the Pause Button”) and regroup.  Although summer markets offer wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables and the daylight hours seem endless and filled with activities,  I often feel as though I need a break from my food and beverage habits of the summer before the start of the holiday season: too many late night barbecues and perhaps an over-surplus of happy hour get-togethers(Portland is famous for its selection of happy hours, in case you don’t live here).

Barbecue with great friends, Manzanita, July 2012

Last fall I went on a ‘cleanse’ of my own design for 10 days and I felt so empowered and healthy that I decided to do it again this October. This is not your usual cleanse filled with special drinks and supplements, but rather a very simple one that eliminates specific food and beverage groups. It was designed to make me more conscious of the food and beverage choices that I was making and led me to a better awareness of what I was putting into my body.  I loved how I felt afterwards and its effects lingered long afterwards. Of  course, here it is a year later and I am badly in need of a tune-up.

During some of my recent conversations about this with family, friends and patients, people have expressed an interest in joining me on this 10 day cleanse and have asked me to share this on the blog.  So here goes: starting on Sunday, October 14th , I am going to eliminate caffeine, alcohol, sugar and ‘whites’ from my diet. I plan to do this for 10 days in a row so that Tuesday, October 23rd will be my final day. I chose these dates because they work for ME and my schedule.  If you would like to join me and those dates are not optimal for YOU, play around with the starting and stopping dates but start when you can: the more the merrier!!  I have several friends in my book group who are going to ‘take the challenge’ and we are excited to have the camaraderie and support of one another.

Kyle making better food choices

Ah,  you ask: how did I pick these 4 main groups to eliminate? Essentially all of them have an effect on the adrenal glands and liver, as well as your insulin levels.  As always, it is extremely important to support your adrenals as well as giving them a break from time to time as well!! In addition,  we need to strive for a more steady insulin balance in our daily lives.  The health benefits of maintaining a steady insulin/glucose balance are far-reaching: decreased risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, dementia….the list goes on and on.

I could have included other food groups, such as dairy, gluten and animal proteins but these have so many health benefits and are not problematic for me. I choose to eat a diet that is primarily plant based in general and when I do eat animal protein, it is always raised organically. Feel free to include other groups to eliminate that will benefit you : modify and individualize this cleanse so that you get the most out of it.  Perhaps you will choose not to eliminate caffeine. I have heard many concerns about caffeine-withdrawal headaches, which are valid: you might try gradually decreasing the amount of caffeine you take in rather than going cold turkey.  You could try substituting herbal teas at times which might help you become ‘caffeine-free’ by the end of 10 days.

In terms of ‘sugar’, I plan to eliminate any item that contains simple sugar and focus on foods that contain natural sugars instead. I  like to use stevia or Truvia as a sweetener, as it comes from the stevia plant and has no impact on glucose levels. I suppose one could make an argument that honey and agave are naturally occuring sugars, which in fact they are. They do affect blood sugar levels but the rise is not as steep, so  I will leave that up to you whether you would like to eliminate them or perhaps include them in small doses.

And what do I mean when I say “the whites”? White rice, white flour, white potatoes, white pasta, white sugar…..sorry folks, although some of the foods that contain them are often comfort foods and childhood favorites, they are so devoid of nutritional value and are huge culprits in terms of raising glucose levels, they have to go for awhile. There is a great deal of evidence that an excessive level of sugar(glucose) is one of the primary causes of all types of diseases: dental disease, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases are some of the primary ones. So anything we can do to minimize the amount of sugar we consume will have a powerful impact on our health, as well as our hormone balance.

It always comes back to balance…and hormones...remember insulin is a hormone as well. And all of them work together to help you to feel your best. When one or several of your hormones are out of balance, whether this is caused by stress, diet, lifestyle, aging, genetics or environment, the rest of your hormones will strive to get back to balance but often the ‘new balance’ doesn’t feel that way at all.

A feeling of balance and beauty

So mark October 14th on your calendar and do the cleanse with me . I will include more details about what to include as well before I start so stay tuned. As always, we love to hear from you. Please be sure to comment on the blog as well as on Facebook as some of our readers may not be your ‘friend’ and don’t get to see what you are writing.

See you soon. I look forward to your company during these 10 days.

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