10 Minute Interview on Balancing the Microbiome

I was recently asked to give a short, 10 minute answer to the following question question: “What’s the #1 thing you recommend people do right now to maximize their health and wellness?”

This was part of a very special interview series with 26 of the world’s leading health experts and doctors, each giving their perspective in 10 minutes or less called.  The interview series is call 10 Minute Wellness Tips  (which you can get for free).

The transcript to this interview is below in its entirety.  And if you enjoyed it…

Get Great Health Tips Like This From 25 MORE Experts For Free Below:

Bob Serling: This is “Ten Minute Tips For Maximum Health“, and today, I’m talking with Dr. Frank Lipman. Dr. Lipman is a board-certified doctor of internal medicine, and a pioneer and internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative and functional medicine.

He’s the founder and director of the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City, where he practices his personal brand of healing known as “good medicine”. A “good medicine” combines the best of modern contemporary medicine with the best of alternative and complementary medicines.

Using this innovative approach, Dr. Lipman has helped thousands of people reclaim their vitality, and recover their zest for life, so I’m very pleased to have him share his wisdom with us today. Welcome, Frank.

Dr. Lipman:    Thanks, thanks for having me, Bob.

Bob Serling: Well, thank you very much. So I have one question for you today, which is, what is the single best thing you’d recommend that people do for maximum health benefits right now?

Dr. Lipman:    Well, that’s a tough question to boil it down to one single thing, but if I had to choose one thing now, I would say balance your microbiome. What is a microbiome? The microbiome is this collection of bacteria that we have on our body, and in particular, our gut.

Each of us contains a whole inner ecosystem, composed of trillions of bugs, microbes in our digestive system. In fact, we have more bugs in our gut than we have cells in our body. In fact, the bacteria in our gut outnumber our cells by 10 to 1, so it’s no exaggeration to say that we’re actually more bacteria than human.

This microbial community in our bodies is absolutely critical for maintaining optimum function. It’s crucial for digesting food, supporting your immune system, protecting your gut, revving up your metabolism, and even helping you maintain a healthy weight. Balancing your microbiome is the key to healing inflammation. Healing inflammation is a secret to staying young and slim, so that would be my one tip, balance your microbiome.

Bob Serling: Great, so are there are a couple specific things people could do to work towards attaining that balance? (more…)

Posted by on May 25, 2015 | 0 Comments

Baby’s First Finger Foods

Baby Eating Finger Food
By Be Well Health Coach Kerry Bajaj

I’ve had a lot of fun starting solid foods with my little one this year. She’s responded very well to healthy whole foods like sweet potato, acorn squash, broccoli, avocado, eggs, salmon and coconut oil. But I’ve noticed that when she goes on playdates with the other kids, she’s exposed to a lot of finger food like Cheerios, Goldfish and Puffs. Though they are convenient, there are many reasons I’ve avoided feeding my baby these packaged snack foods:

  • As a rule, for myself but especially for a baby, I stay away from foods with a long list of ingredients that I can’t recognize
  • Processed foods are tough on the baby’s immature digestive system
  • These “white” foods are nutritionally empty
  • I’m concerned about starting a bad habit that I’ll regret later. Many moms with older kids told me they wish they had been more adventurous with introducing foods, stuck to whole foods, and stayed away from anything bread/sugar related.
  • My baby literally only knows what I provide (ie she doesn’t even know that bagels exist at this stage!), so I want to provide the best.
  • I want her to experience all of the tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, savory), and be careful not to favor ‘sweet’.
  • I know that one day she might be a ‘picky’ eater, but for now at 9 months old, she loves everything so I might as well give her the most nutrient-dense options!

I do, however, see the benefit of developing the hand-eye coordination to eat bite-sized snacks. And I understand that if the baby is at the playground and all of the kids are eating snacks, she will also want to eat and will grab their food. So we needed some alternatives for “on the go” snacks.

Here are some of the bite-sized snacks that are working well for us:

  • Blueberries (a little smushed so she doesn’t choke)
  • Chopped strawberries
  • Chopped canteloupe
  • Chopped apple, or big apple slices to gnaw on
  • Chopped Asian pear
  • Peas (a little smushed)
  • Seaweed snacks (messy but she loves them)
  • Chopped avocado
  • Small pieces of steamed carrot, or a giant carrot to gnaw on (great for teething!)
  • Sweet potato “fries”
  • Small bits of cheese

Puffs and O’s might be more convenient, but it’s really not so hard to chop up some apple or toss some blueberries in a small container. For now, we’re sticking to nature’s ‘fast food’! 

The Be Well coaches have been a great source of advice and guidance as I’ve introduced solid foods to my baby. Here’s a very helpful blog post from Katrine van Wyk, “Healthy Food Ideas for your Baby.

We also have a great article, “Puffs: A Healthful Baby Food or Just Clever Marketing?” by Maia James on the blog.

Posted by on May 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

The Desk-Dweller’s Repair Plan

Desk Dwellers
Reprinted with permission from Experience Life Magazine.
Written by Andrew Heffernan

Tired of hunched shoulders, a sore back, and tight hips? These six moves are a great cure for the common computer slouch.

There’s a monster in your home and it’s undermining your health. It’s in your car, and at the office, too. And at every restaurant or movie theater you visit.

In fact, there’s a good chance it’s with you at this very moment, sucking the life force right out of you.

What is this health-draining beast?

Your chair.

An avalanche of recent studies finds that sitting for long periods slows your metabolism, deforms your vertebral disks, and contributes to weight gain.

Sitting even lops time off your life expectancy: One 2011 study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that after the age of 25, every hour you spend sitting in front of the TV shortens your life by an average of 22 minutes — the equivalent of the damage done by smoking two cigarettes.

At home and in the office, you can reduce the impact of long periods of sitting by taking breaks from your chair every 20 minutes or so, climbing stairs instead of taking the elevator, and otherwise standing whenever possible (standing desks are a great option).

But perhaps the best way to avoid health problems caused by sitting — and keep your posture from becoming permanently chair-shaped — is to incorporate an approach known as stretch-strengthening, says Chris Frederick, coauthor of Stretch to Win.

(more…)

Posted by on May 21, 2015 | 1 Comments

Be Well Kitchen: Vegetable Frittata

Vegetable Frittata
By Be Well Health Coach Courtney Blatt

Now that spring has finally arrived, we’ve been frequenting our local farms. I love stocking up on fresh eggs and local produce directly from the farm. We often take the kids so they can learn about how and where our food is sourced.

This past weekend was so busy there wasn’t much time for cooking. One of the fastest meals to make is a healthy, vegetable frittata. When we arrived home, I whipped up a quick lunch for the entire family to enjoy using fresh eggs and greens. It was delicious and took less than 20 minutes to prepare.

Part 1: Frittata

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Large Eggs
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 3 cups of spinach
  • ¾ cup of milk
  • 1 cup tomatoes cut into small pieces

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Crack eggs into large mixing bowl. Add milk, salt and pepper. Beat until mixed.
  • Tear spinach into small pieces
  • In a 10 inch oven proof saute pan, heat oil over medium heat, add spinach, saute until wilted.
  • Remove from heat and add egg mixture
  • Add tomatoes, sprinkle with goat cheese and transfer pan to the oven
  • Cook for 30 minutes or until top begins to turn golden brown
  • Remove from oven, let it sit for 5 minutes, cut and serve

Part 2: Salad

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small lemon
  • Large bunch of mixed salad greens and tomatoes
  • Seasonal vegetables of your choice

Directions:

Toss greens, tomatoes and your choice of seasonal vegetables together with olive oil and lemon. Add to the side of the frittata and enjoy!

Posted by on May 19, 2015 | 1 Comments

Interview with Jacob Lief, author of I Am Because You Are, the untold and inspirational story of the Ubuntu Education Fund

I Am Because You Are

Jacob Lief is the Founder and CEO of Ubuntu Education Fund. His new memoir, I Am Because You Are is a powerful story about his incredible journey of founding Ubuntu Education Fund, the myriad obstacles he faced, the inspirational people he met, and the countless lives that he has changed. My wife and I have been long-time supporters for over a decade now and annually visit them in South Africa. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Jacob and ask him some questions about his new book.

In your new memoir, I Am Because You Are, you write about the years you spent living in South Africa and founding Ubuntu Education Fund. Why do you think that this story, your story, is worth sharing?

Writing I Am Because You Are has been an incredibly cathartic experience for me; it’s been three years of intensive therapy. So in that sense, sharing my story has been an incredibly selfish process. At the same time, I think that, in writing the memoir, I tried to be brutally honest. I wanted to expose myself. Too many of the young people that I meet, the ones who are interested in development and founding their own nonprofits, put me and every other social entrepreneur on a pedestal. I think that, in doing so, they elevate our endeavors into achievements that ordinary people cannot realize. Their idolization of us discourages so many of them from changing the world. But I really do want this millennial generation to feel empowered to do anything. I want them to understand that Ubuntu was successful only because I put myself out there; I took risks, I made mistakes, and I never stopped learning.

It seems like you can trace Ubuntu’s beginnings back to when you moved to London and then convinced a teacher to lead a trip to South Africa in 1994. Could you speak more to the all-consuming fascination with the country that you describe in the first few chapters of the book?

At first, I just wanted to be part of something bigger than myself. Moving from a sleepy New Jersey suburb to a metropolitan city like London, I quickly got caught up in the “Free South Africa” movement, and I definitely romanticized it. How could I not? The speeches, the music, the colors. It was all so inspiring. But it’s easy to be infatuated with something from afar—to idolize a place, a movement, or a person like Mandela. I only realized just how little I understood South Africa’s nuances, its complexities, when I stepped off the plane in Johannesburg. There was so much more to learn and see than I had expected, and I got even more caught up in it than I had thought possible.

What, in your memory, stands out to you from that first trip?

I think that what strikes most people when they visit South Africa is the poverty; it can be overwhelming, and the gravity of what it means to live in an urban slum or township sinks in. But I had seen poverty in thirty some-odd countries before and, although it certainly manifests itself differently in each community, South Africa’s poverty is not what stayed with me. It was the people.

Growing up as a Jew, I spent time with grandparents, who still lived under the shadow of the Holocaust. My wife’s mother, for instance, was born in a concentration camp, and her grandmother to this day won’t speak to a German. I’m not saying that she is right or wrong; I can’t pass judgment on her. But I found an immense capacity to forgive in South Africa. People spoke of reconciliation and a commitment to move past decades of oppression. Everywhere, everyone was celebrating. People were literally hugging and, being an incredibly emotional person, I got caught up in the emotion of it all.

Your second trip to South Africa, however, was incredibly different; you describe the time you spent living with your future Ubuntu co-founder as the immediate precursor to Ubuntu. Beyond your professional growth, how were those five months formative for you, personally? (more…)

Posted by on May 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

What to Eat to Prepare Your Skin for the Summer Sun

Blueberry Chocolate and Tea
By Be Well Health Coach Katrine van Wyk

You can actually help your skin better protect itself from sunburns by eating real, whole foods and avoiding pro-inflammatory foods like sugar and processed seed oil! I have heard stories of people who find themselves much more resilient to the sun after switching to a more nutrient dense diet full of vegetables, healthy fats and clean protein sources like eggs and wild fish. Certainly worth a shot! Especially because it is so important to catch the valuable sun rays that turn into Vitamin D in our body – and in order to do so we need to expose our skin to the sun WITHOUT wearing sunscreen for at least 15 minutes every day. Off course we still want to avoid burning which is what damages the skin and may increase the risk for skin cancer down the road.

Here’s What To Eat More Of:

Fatty Fish

Omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish like wild salmon and sardines are great nutrients for our skin. Studies show that having enough Omega 3 fatty acids are important nutrients for protecting our skin against sun damage and cancer. These healthy fats have anti-inflammatory properties too!

Coconut Oil

This is a great source of medium chain fatty acids and saturated fats that are easily absorbed and used by the body to form new skin and prevent damage from the sun. In general a diet high in saturated fats and omega 3’s and very low in processed seed oil that are high in omega 6 fatty acids have been shown to be protective against skin cancer. Coconut oil is also great for fueling you with energy and curbing cravings – helping prevent you from snacking on less-healthy foods!

Antioxidant Loaded Foods

Make sure to eat a variety of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, especially berries and dark leafy greens, to feed your body with antioxidants to help fight against skin damage and sun burns. Carotenoid found in a lot of plants is actually used by plants as sunscreen and can activate melanin in us humans. Melanin is the dark pigment that gives us a tan. Foods containing high concentrations of carotenoids include tomatoes (especially cooked!) sweet potatoes, mango, carrots and watermelon, to name a few.

Other great high-antioxidant foods include green tea and the best news of all; dark chocolate contains 4 times as much phenols and catechins ( two different kinds of antioxidants) as tea!

Vitamin D

Optimizing your vitamin D levels year around makes your skin more prepared for sun exposure by producing melanin faster to better protect itself. Vitamin D also provide an important protection against skin cancer. If you don’t live somewhere that’s sunny all year around (hello New York!) it’s important to supplement with vitamin D3.

Posted by on May 15, 2015 | 0 Comments

Turn Your Gut into a Fat-Burning Machine by Rebalancing Your Gut Flora

Bacteria

For centuries the digestive system has been regarded by Eastern medical systems such as Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine and in more modern times Naturopathy and Functional Medicine as the foundation of health and vitality. Many of the body’s ills begin as imbalances in gut homeostasis and the road to recovery is by restoring harmony and equilibrium to the digestive tract.

Despite these healing traditions rich in wisdom, the gut has been trivialized by modern Western medicine as merely a food processing plant and conduit for waste removal.

The myth of junk in equals junk out has been pervasive until only recently. For decades this misguided position misled the masses into thinking that food’s only relevance was to be a substrate for energy which when processed turns into waste. Another myth perpetuated for decades has been the role and function of the gut’s microbial flora as being vestigial—just part of the scenery as it were.

“No respect”! This hilarious opening line used by the late comedian Rodney Dangerfield epitomizes the digestive tract.

But the truth is that we are now living in the age of a gut health revolution.

But where did this all begin?

A Short History of Gut Health

Ilya Mechnikov won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for his observations about gut immunity which were in part founded on the fermented milk he drank daily. He wrote The Prolongation of Life: Optimistic Studies, and attributed the longevity of Bulgarian peasants to their consumption of fermented milk and yogurt. His observations and writings gave birth to the modern era of the gut microbiome.

We now understand that the gut plays a pivotal role in health and disease has deep roots in ancient tradition. Trailblazing functional medicine and naturopathic practitioners have lead this revolution in understanding the importance of the gut in health. We now know the gut has an influence on cardiovascular health, brain health, and chronic illnesses like type 2 diabetes.

One of the fringe benefits we are just beginning to understand is how restoring gut microbial balance resets the body’s metabolism.

Exciting research shows that the types of bacteria that dominate your gut can determine how likely you are to hold onto excess body weight or have a slim figure.

That means diversifying your gut flora give you the power to turn your gut into a fat-burning machine.

Let’s take a look at some of the most recent research in this area. (more…)

Posted by on May 14, 2015 | 1 Comments

From the Be Well Kitchen: Turmeric Tea

Turmeric Tea
By Be Well Health Coach Amanda Carney

Also known as Golden Milk, turmeric tea is a warm and nourishing drink that helps the body fight inflammation while boosting the immune system.  This bright orange herb has been used in different cultures for thousands of years to treat and prevent disease by supplying the body with many beneficial antioxidants and healing properties, making it a great way to turn your food into medicine!

There are many turmeric tea recipes, so feel free to play around with different ingredients.  I have found this one to offer the best flavor in combination with a number of health-boosting ingredients:

Turmeric Tea Recipe

  • 1 cup unsweeted nut milk (I love to use homemade cashew milk)
  • ½ cup hot water
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds (or 1 teaspoon tahini)
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey
  • A sprinkle of black pepper (facilitates absorption of turmeric)
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth.

Place liquid in a small pot and warm over low heat until hot but not boiling.

Serve and enjoy!

Posted by on May 12, 2015 | 0 Comments

4 Reasons to Kick the PPI’s
And 9 Healthier Ways to Tame the Acid Reflux

Heartburn Medication

When proton pump inhibiters (PPIs) first came out they were thought of as a miracle cure for those suffering with gastroesphogeal reflux disease (GERD), dyspepsia, and a host of conditions exacerbated by the over-production of gastric acid. And by inhibiting its secretion, PPIs certainly got the job done. Fast-forward a few years and, not surprisingly, the PPI picture isn’t all that rosy. In fact, those ‘purple pills’ may be triggering more problems than they purport to cure. Even the Food and Drug Administration has (at last) chimed in, issuing warnings about PPIs, suggesting they should be used as briefly as possible.

If you’ve been taking PPIs for a while, have unintentionally become dependent, or are even thinking about taking them for more than 4 weeks, I urge you to step away from the purple pills and try to find out what’s really going on. Instead of masking the problem, and creating new ones, I recommend treating the problem holistically, without PPIs (unless it’s an emergency). Here’s why:

PPIs Aren’t Good For Your Gut – And Increase Risk of Illness

Your gut is home to a wide variety of bacteria. When they’re in balance, happily co-existing, your gut and digestion work like a well-oiled machine and immunity stays strong. Throw the balance off and the bad bacteria gain the upper hand, slowing healthy gut function to a crawl. So what throws the bacterial balance off? Things like stress, too little sleep, too much sugar, antibiotic use and yes, you guessed it, proton pump inhibiters. According to a recent Mayo Clinic study, researchers found that regular PPI users have less microbial diversity, which puts them at higher risk for infections like pneumonia, in addition to vitamin deficiencies and bone fractures. Not great news for any regular user and even worse for elderly patients.

PPIs Create Vitamin Deficiencies That Can Hurt Hearts

While no vitamin deficiency is a good one, what’s particularly unsettling about PPIs is that virtually nobody on PPIs – and few of the doc’s prescribing them – are aware that PPIs increase the risk of vitamin B12 and magnesium deficiency, the latter of which can compromise cardiovascular health, and can even cause life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Making matters worse, PPIs can also interact with certain medications and increase heart attack risk, according to public safety advocates Public Citizen. With this in mind, one really has to ask, it is worth the risk?

PPIs – Risk of Dependence

Whether or not you needed them to begin with, you might develop dependency and find them hard to stop, because when you do, you get what’s called a rebound effect: your body creates more acid (hypersecretion)—and now you really might get reflux from excess acid. This can be seen after as little as four weeks of use and often leads to symptoms such as heartburn, acid regurgitation, or dyspepsia that makes most folks start popping their pill again. That is why you must always taper off PPIs slowly, preferably under a physician’s care. Currently, this serious adverse effect is not found on any PPI labels.

PPIs – More Punishment, Less Cure

Less gastric acid – more problems? No doubt GERD, dyspepsia, ulcers, etc. can be miserable, not to mention painful, but PPIs, by tamping down acid production, bring their own set of debilitating side-effects. Among them being cough; headache; dizziness; abdominal pain; nausea; vomiting; constipation and diarrhea, all in addition to the concerns raised by the Mayo Clinic study. Deciding if the pharmaceutical “cure” is worse than the gastric “disease” is obviously up to the individual. But if I were struggling with gastric issues? I wouldn’t go near Prevacid, Prilosec, Nexium, Aciphex and so on. I’d opt instead for a holistic solution (which sometimes can even include adding hydrochloric acid) and a real shot at actually solving the problem rather than masking it. (more…)

Posted by on May 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

6 Things You May Not Know About Weight Loss

Weight Loss
By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

Struggling to lose weight? Here are 6 things you may not be considering.

Your Hormones Could Be Out Of Balance

If you’re seemingly doing “everything right” but for some reason you just can’t seem to get any weight off, you might want to consider getting your hormones checked. All the time we see people struggling with weight loss that actually have an issue with their thyroid hormone, which has a big impact on regulating weight. If that’s the case, the thyroid can often be boosted naturally (depending on how severe the thyroid condition is). For women, the estrogen/progesterone ratio in the body can also directly affect weight loss. Higher levels of estrogen relative to progesterone could be causing you to keep weight on. Get your levels checked, and then discuss the next steps with your doctor.

It’s Sugar, Not Fat, That Keeps The Weight On

Most of us know by now that the low fat craze is over, but just in case you weren’t aware — fat isn’t something to be afraid of, if you’re choosing the right kinds of fats like avocado, coconut, and grass-fed butter (yum). The real culprit when it comes to losing weight is sugar. Sugar from any source, even natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey and fruit, can cause you to keep on extra weight if you’re eating them frequently.

Bad Digestion Hinders Weight Loss

Even if you’re eating all the “right” foods, if your digestion is off it can keep you from losing weight. If you experience bloating, constipation, gas, or other digestive discomfort, you’ll want to clear that up before you can really experience the weight loss you’re looking for. A good quality probiotic, drinking more water, and taking a magnesium supplement at night is a good place to start, or if you’re really experiencing digestive discomfort, a gut-cleaning cleanse might be in order.

You Could Be Overdoing It On Grains — Even If You’re Gluten-Free

(more…)

Posted by on May 08, 2015 | 1 Comments