7.31.2015

The Autoimmune Solution (Book Review)

The Autoimmune Solution (Book Review)

According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), an estimated 50 million people suffer from autoimmune disease in the United States (that’s about 1 in 5 people). The National Institute of Health recognizes a much more conservative number at 23.5 million, but that number is still higher than the estimated amount of those with heart disease (22 million) or cancer (9 million). In other words, if an autoimmune disease (such as Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, endometriosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and type 1 diabetes) or an “associated” autoimmune disease (such as fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue) is not affecting you personally, chances are, it’s affecting someone you love right at this moment. Furthermore, autoimmune disease is something that anyone could likely develop in the future.

In The Autoimmune Solution, Dr. Amy Myers provides a comprehensive look at autoimmune disease and in particular, how food and other toxic elements in our environment affect our immune system and set off inflammatory responses. This inflammation can result in all sorts of symptoms, from frequent headaches and eczema to digestive issues and joint pain, and if not treated properly, can eventually accumulate into what we recognize as autoimmune disease. Meaning, even those who don’t currently carry an autoimmune diagnosis are potentially at risk.

For me, this book really hits home. I especially love the fact that Myers provides a unique point of view: she is not only a medical doctor, but also a patient. Diagnosed with her own autoimmune condition (Graves’ disease) while still in medical school, Myers experienced the frustrating web of dismissive (and sometimes, condescending) doctors, harsh medications and (sometimes, ineffective) treatments, all while being told the myth that these were the only ways to treat her condition. I felt like I was reading my own story, having been told that food and nutrition had no significant impact on autoimmune disease, and that conventional medical treatments were my only option. For me, believing this myth led to a dark, downward spiral of debilitating side effects and an illness that grew exponentially worse. Knowing that Myers had been in this position herself makes her perspective all the more powerful. I can’t tell you how many times I wished that some of my doctors had a better understanding of what I was going through — if only they could walk in my shoes, even if for a temporary time, so that they might have at least some idea of the pain and symptoms I was experiencing. Not that I would wish my condition (or any other autoimmune condition) on anyone else, but I do believe that having this experience would make them better doctors. The fact that Myers has this personal experience plus training and experience as a medical doctor, makes her perspective incredibly special.

Although medicine has it’s time and place, Myers believed that despite what the conventional doctors told her, there had to be a better way. So she began to research it. She discovered the power that diet and lifestyle have on our health, and developed a method in which patients can use food and other lifestyle changes as “medicine” to either heal, reverse or prevent illness in the first place. While she provides plenty of anecdotal success stories, her entire protocol is supported by proven science (so if you’re looking for evidence-based information, Dr. Myers provides it.)

7.14.2015

5 Things I'm Digging This Week

5 Things I’m Digging This Week, Fresh Homegrown Basil and Zucchini

This weekend was kind of a rough one for me. I dined out on Friday night, and although I enjoyed myself immensely, I got lazy and didn’t bother to ask questions to the server about how they prep their food before ordering. Chances are I got a good dose of gluten exposure (or possibly something else, who knows), because I spent the entire weekend fighting off intense abdominal pain, headaches, and nausea. Sometimes I get too comfortable when I’m feeling okay, I let my usual practices slip, and then I get sick and am immediately reminded of why I follow all these nutrition principles in the first place. Ugh! Fortunately, I’ve just finished preparing a nice pot of bone broth, so I’m going to start working on bringing down the inflammation this week and hopefully make a full recovery soon.

In the meanwhile, I wanted to share some fun stuff that I’ve been really digging this past week:

1. This Paleo Pesto-Avocado Sauce recipe is amazing! I was looking for a way to use the fresh basil my aunt gave to us from her garden (along with other goodies, like homegrown zucchini), and I couldn’t resist trying out this recipe. Using avocado instead of parmesan cheese is genius. It gives the pesto a velvety, creamy texture (plus it makes it dairy-free, Paleo and vegan). I added some extra seasoning and a little extra lemon juice, and it was absolutely delicious. Even my non-Paleo hubby hasn’t stopped raving about it since.

2. I came across this business/brand-building post by ByRegina.com and was totally inspired. Although it’s directed towards bloggers, the post (and really, her entire website) shares useful tips for anyone looking to to create and grow their business, and essentially, build their brand. So if you’re looking for some entrepreneurial motivation (or just some entertaining musings), you must check out this site.

3. I’m feeling inspired by this book list from Mindful Memory Keeping. I actually already have a couple of these books sitting on my bookshelf which I have yet to read, and I’ve been wanting to set more time aside for “leisure” reading (i.e. not just my usual health-related books). This might be just the push I need.

4. I’m loving this post from The Rising Spoon about how to identify healthy eggs. It’s a great resource for those who are curious about how to understand egg carton labels (which are often misleading) and find truly healthy eggs (from healthy, happy chickens). Side note: I hope to one day be able to raise my own chickens, but in the meanwhile, I think Vital Farms is a pretty trustworthy (and transparent) brand (yes, these eggs are expensive, but you get what you pay for when it comes to things like this).

5. These 20+ Home Organization Ideas from Lil’ Luna are so clever and creative. Seeing that there are other people out there just as excited about organization, perhaps Jeremy can now stop making fun of me and my beloved sponge caddy (pictured below). Am I the only one who keeps different sponges for different uses? (C’mon, back me up here, folks!) If you’re interested, you can get your very own storage caddy here.

5 Things I’m Digging This Week, Storage Caddy

(*Note: The last link in this post is an affiliate link from ShopSense which allows me to be compensated on a per-click basis. Please note that I only share or endorse products that I personally love or have purchased for myself.*)


7.10.2015

Home Office Makeover

Simple Home Office Makeover
Simple Home Office Makeover
Simple Home Office Makeover

Okay, technically this isn’t an actual makeover. We recently moved into a new home, so rather than making over an old space, I really started with a brand new one. But still, after years of working among scattered files and out of a workspace that lacked “inspiration” (to say the least), this feels like a makeover. (So there, let’s just go with it.)

With every move is the opportunity to make a fresh start, and that’s what this workspace is for me. Although it’s still a work in progress, I couldn’t wait to share what I’ve done so far. It’s a simple, mix-and-match balance of decor: I decided to choose some inexpensive, more affordable pieces so that I could spend more on others (a hodgepodge, if you will). I went with a desk from IKEA, for example, so that I could then splurge on this dreamy lateral file cabinet from Room & Board. The cabinet (which I purchased in the shell stain with steel hardware) not only has the capacity to house all my files in one place (I get giddy at just the thought of it), but also doubles as a workspace where my printer and scanner can be stationed, allowing my desk to remain clean and uncluttered (yeah…we’ll see how long that lasts).

Simple Home Office Makeover, Lateral File Cabinet
Simple Home Office Makeover

I decided to hang framed motivational messages (found at a local Home Goods store) on the wall to keep me on track, and remind me why I’m doing this everyday. (And as anyone who runs a business from home knows, we need all the motivation and inspiration we can get.) A bookcase and woven baskets (also from IKEA…what can I say, they worked for this space) provide further organization options.

7.02.2015

10 Paleo 4th of July Recipes

10 Paleo 4th of July Recipes

Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” — Herbert Hoover

This Independence Day, we have a whole lot to celebrate here in the U.S. Hopefully you’re planning something special with your family and friends. As for me, I’m trying to plan a 4th of July menu, and these Paleo dishes are getting me inspired (and very hungry)!

Wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!

6.26.2015

10 Irresistible Wedding Songs (Playlist)

10 Irresistible Wedding Songs

I’d been planning on putting together a little wedding playlist, and what better time than on this historic day? These are just a few of my favorite love songs — of course, there are so many more I could have chosen — but I tried to choose songs that are less likely to be found on most other wedding song lists (okay, one predictable song did make the list, but I just can’t resist that Ed Sheeran tune).

And considering that music and love are both universal languages, the two go hand in hand perfectly, don't they? Enjoy the playlist, and love one another!

6.19.2015

Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad

Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad
Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad
Full Circle: A Tribute to Dad

***As we head into Father’s Day weekend, I think it’s a good time to share this popular post originally published in September 2014. Thinking of (and missing) my dad, and wishing all the other dads out there a very Happy Father’s Day!***


As I'm finishing up reading my latest nutrition book (a really good one, by the way, which I’ll be sharing with you all soon) and learning about all these complex nutritional principles, beliefs and theories, I can’t help but think about my dad.

My dad was the ultimate health nut. He’d spent years struggling with his own health demons, so when he began to learn about the role of nutrition in achieving good health, he was extremely passionate about sharing it with everyone he knew. He could go on for hours, talking about the importance of eating natural foods, consuming raw dairy instead of pasteurized, replenishing the “friendly” bacteria in our guts (that one really threw us for a loop) and in his later years, explaining the horrific consequences of improper cattle raising (I can’t tell you how often I was lectured about Mad Cow Disease!).

6.15.2015

Natural Nail Polish: Zoya

Natural Nail Polish: Zoya
Natural Nail Polish: Zoya, Toni
Zoya Natural Nail Polish: Toni, Brigitte, Pandora, Happi, Gia

A recent article from the NY Times is both disturbing and eye-opening, as it sheds light on an important ongoing issue: the dangers that nail salon workers face on a daily basis due to exposure to harmful chemicals found in nail care products. It also reminds us that these dangers don’t just stop with those who work in nail salons; it applies to all of us who use nail polish (and other nail products) on a regular basis. While we may not be breathing in these chemicals for hours every day, many of us are still exposed to them (even if at low doses) over a prolonged period of time. Chemicals found in nail polish have been linked to health hazards including cancer, neurological disorders, impaired reproductive health, birth defects, headaches, skin conditions, and respiratory problems.

The article was very timely for me, as I have recently been in the process of exploring more natural nail polish options. While my nails used to be remarkably strong and healthy, years of medication and use of conventional nail products have left my nail and skin health to suffer. While battling a relentless case of eczema on my hands (and specifically, around my nail beds), I knew it was time for a change.

That being said, you might already be aware that there’s really no such thing as totally "natural nail polish." In this case, the term “natural” is used to describe nail polish brands that remove some of the more harsh chemicals found in conventional nail polish brands, making them less hazardous to our health and less likely to cause allergic reactions. Although these products are still made with chemicals that aren’t completely benign, they are free of some of the more offensive toxins. And if we are going to indulge in treating ourselves to a mani/pedi, we may as well use the least toxic options, right?

There are several brands that claim to offer more natural options. The problem is, some natural versions tend to not work very well, chipping far too easily and making the investment in these nail polish brands a waste of time and money.