John Oliver on Marketing to Doctors

John Oliver does it again. This video is smart, hilarious and very important — it is a MUST watch. Drug companies spend $4 billion a year marketing directly to consumers, and $24 billion a year marketing to health care providers. John Oliver — and many others (including myself) — have some issues with that!  Please watch and share your comments.

Posted by on Feb 12, 2015| 2 Comments

7 Foods that Calm Inflammation and Bring Back the Glow

Onion and Garlic

Redness. Acne. Wrinkles. Premature aging. Rosacea. Psoriasis. Eczema.

What do they all have in common?


It’s a natural immune response. When you cut yourself, immune cells go to work fixing the damage. Your skin swells up (inflames) and turns red. After a few days, it heals, and everything’s fine.

But sometimes that healing doesn’t take place. The inflammation continues, steadily, chronically.

This can happen inside your body, and has been linked in studies to heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Chronic inflammation, doctors call it, and it can affect your skin, too.

Acne breakouts, dermatitis, eczema, rosacea, premature aging, and other skin conditions are all inflammatory in nature, and tend to get worse when we eat an inflammatory diet.

The solution? Eat foods that calm inflammation and you’re more likely to enjoy clear, youthful looking skin!

7 Foods that Help Calm Inflammation

  1. Walnuts: The key here is healthy essential fatty acids. They’re good for the body and the skin. A 2004 study found that a diet high in walnuts helped lower C-reactive protein (CRP), which is a standard marker of inflammation associated with heart disease. Wild-caught salmon is another good source of these healthy fats, as are flaxseed, chia seeds, and anchovies.
  2. Broccoli: This is a superfood when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2013 study found that people who ate broccoli for just 10 days cut their inflammation levels in half! A 2014 study also found that women who ate the most cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli and cauliflower) had substantially less inflammation than those who ate the fewest. Broccoli has also been found to help repair DNA damage. Broccoli sprouts have similar benefits and work great on salads.
  3. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut: The key here is probiotics. You can get them from any type of fermented food, including those listed here as well as pickles, miso, kombucha tea, fermented cheese, and more. These are stars when it comes to reducing inflammation. A 2009 study, for example, found that probiotic supplementation actually helped reduce the risk and severity of dermatitis. An earlier study also found that probiotics helped reduce inflammation in the intestine. Read the Whole Article
Posted by on Feb 10, 2015| 5 Comments

Interview With Vani Hari About Her Book
The Food Babe Way


The Food Babe Way

The Food Babe, Vani Hari, is a revolutionary food activist and the author of a new book called The Food Babe WayI sat down to interview her about her food investigations, GMO’s in processed foods, and changes to the food industry in America.

FL. Why did you begin investigating the foods Americans consume?

Vani   I began my food journey, like most people, by following the standard American diet. As a successful management consultant, I was either in the office eating whatever take-out was available, or I was on the road eating every meal out. Although this lifestyle allowed me to fit in with my peers and work crazy hours, it also took a huge toll on my body and I became very ill. Over the holiday season over ten years ago, I found myself in a hospital bed. I was sick, overweight, and I was ready to change! I made a personal promise that from that point on that I was going to make health my number one priority. was born in April 2011, from my years of learning, investigating and researching how to live a healthy lifestyle in this overly processed world. As I learned more about the habits needed for a healthy lifestyle and what dangerous ingredients to avoid, my friends and family begged me to start a blog in order to share everything I had uncovered. My first investigation was into my favorite yogurt chain. After the CEO responded to my writings by yanking some of the misleading marketing, I continued writing about the injustices and corrupt practices of the food industry. Over the past three years, has grown to have a readership of over 4 million inspired individuals who are seeking to lead heather lives and rid our food system of deadly ingredients. It is through the help of the entire Food Babe Army that the investigations and petitions on have been able to force some of the largest food corporations to change, including Kraft, Chick-fil-A, Chipotle, Subway, Anheuser-Busch, and Starbucks.

FL. Why is it important for everyone to learn how to read food labels and avoid food additives? 

Vani   Many of the food additives that the FDA deems safe, have not be studied long term and no one has studied the cumulative effect of all the food additives we are eating. The Deputy Commissioner of the FDA, Michael Taylor, recently admitted to the Washington Post, “We do not know the volume of particular chemicals that are going into the food supply so we can diagnose trends. We do not know what is going on post-market”.  These food-like substances are made from chemicals that are cheap, provide zero nutritional value and improve the bottom line of food manufacturers. Fake foods do nothing for our health and in some cases could cause harm.

FL. What do you find most shocking about processed food in America?

Vani   I was floored when I discovered that several American food companies are using harmful additives that are not used — and in some cases banned — in other countries. One of those products is an iconic staple that almost every American, me included, has had at one time or another: Kraft Mac & Cheese. I found it hypocritical that Kraft was selling Mac & Cheese overseas with natural dyes paprika and beta carotene (real food) and meanwhile, here they were selling petroleum-based food dyes (yellow #5 and yellow #6 linked to a myriad of health issues) to their fellow Americans. This double standard made me so angry, I started a petition. After receiving over 350,000 signatures and leading a strong 7 month campaign, Kraft announced that it’s starting to remove artificial food dyes from some Mac & Cheese varieties marketed to children and now has started to make those changes to additional products. It’s alarming that the FDA allowing additives that are banned or restricted in other countries and linked to health risks like azodicarbonamide, BHT, BHA, and parabens. Europe has taken a precautionary principle towards several food additives and banned or labeled them for their citizens. Why isn’t the United States doing the same?

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Feb 09, 2015| 1 Comments

5 Foods You Should Never Eat In Moderation

By Be Well Health Coach Jenny Sansouci

We’re all about healthy eating here at Be Well, but we believe in a little indulgence once in awhile, too. Unless you’re battling a condition that calls for strict adherence to a specific diet, having a bit of your grandma’s famous apple pie or a homemade treat shouldn’t be a problem on occasion. The important thing is to indulge in foods that are actually foods! It’s much healthier for your body and mind to use your “eat in moderation” tokens on things that are actually whole foods — there’s no use in indulging in processed chemicals or fake foods that are only going to weaken your health.

I asked around the office to get a sense of what some of the other Be Well Health Coaches “would never touch,” no matter how indulgent the meal. Here’s a list of 5 things we don’t believe you should ever eat — even in moderation. Avoid these culprits – your body will thank you for it.


Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is an addictive food additive, used as a flavor enhancer. About 80% of processed foods contain MSG, and it’s known under 50 different names — including “yeast extract” and “modified food starch.” MSG has been known to cause tingling, numbness, brain fog, chest pain, and is strongly related to obesity — in fact, in many lab tests, they feed mice MSG to make them fat in order to do weight loss research on them.


High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is linked to increased inflammation in the body, which leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases. Although some people will say “sugar is sugar,” high fructose corn syrup is an industrially produced product made by the corn industry, and you won’t find it in any real foods. If you’ll notice, high fructose corn syrup is only found in very low quality processed foods that are providing no nutritional value to your life anyway. Find me a high quality food that has HFCS in it!

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Feb 06, 2015| 8 Comments

5 Reasons Why You Need a Health Coach:
Build Your Health by Building Your Team

Health Coach

It’s the dawn of a new year, the time of beginnings, the clean slate, and a fresh start. After all the seasonal excesses, now’s a great time to start or re-start your wellness journey. For many people the first question is, where to begin? In my practice, we answer that question – and hundreds more – every day with the help of the Be Well health coaches, our in-house team of wellness pros who support, guide, educate and advise patients through each phase of their wellness program, from dazed and confused newbie to healthy and focused wellness warrior.

‘But, Doc,” you might say, “do I really need a health coach?” For most people, I’d say absolutely! Just like having a fitness trainer at the gym or a mentor at the office, when you’ve got a pro to help light the way, achieving your goals becomes a lot easier. Could you do this on your own? Sure, but I believe your experience will be richer, more successful and even more profound with a health coach to make the trip with you – and here’s why:

1. Your Health Coach Creates a Plan That’s Tailored to Your Exact Situation

In addition to your specific health concerns, daily real-life responsibilities, stress levels and work/family dynamics all effect how well you’re able to integrate new, healthier habits. With a health coach as your wellness co-pilot, you’ll work together to develop a customized plan that takes your individual physical, emotional and lifestyle factors into account and fits with the way you live – and ultimately leads you to permanent, positive change.

2. Your Health Coach Helps Make Change Safer and Better for Your Body

Virtually every day questionable diet and fitness fads hit the market, pushed along by slick marketing campaigns, promoted on TV, touted in magazines, spread from fitness trainers to their clients, or from one office co-worker to the next. Some fads are downright dangerous, and others may be less so, but they can still have negative, energy-sapping side effects that aren’t worth compromising your health over. To develop a plan that sustains your body as it gets it to a healthier place, put a trained, professional health coach on your wellness team. They’ll help you identify and integrate sensible, sustainable practices to enhance your health, and raise red flags as needed. No fainting, hair loss, hunger or light-headedness necessary.

3. Your Health Coach Knows How to Get Granular With Your Health

Most primary care physicians know that nutrition, stress reduction, weight management and exercise are important, but know little about actual, specific wellness practices or innovations. Consequently, few health care providers are able to offer patients recommendations much beyond “lose some weight,” or “eat more salads.” A health coach, however, is prepared to get granular, to drill down and identify the latest, best techniques to help get you the results you (and your doctor) are after. An at-your-service concierge.

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Feb 05, 2015| 2 Comments

Be Well Kitchen:
Parsnip and Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

Parsnip and Butternut Squash Soup

By Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian

I joined a CSA this year that has provided such a beautiful bounty – and that’s what inspired this recipe! It’s seasonal, grounding and delicious. The blend of spicy and sweet is truly satisfying.

Ingredients (4 to 6 Servings)

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 big parsnip (or a few smaller ones), peeled and chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 apple (optional), peeled, cored and chopped
  • 4 cup organic vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme


Place all ingredients in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. After it’s cooked, either transfer the ingredients to a blender and blend in batches until smooth or using an immersion blender, blend until smooth in the slow cooker.

Posted by on Feb 03, 2015| 0 Comments

How Gut Bacteria Protect The Brain

Gut Bacteria and Brain Health

The blood-brain barrier (BBB) acts as a gatekeeper, protecting the brain from various toxic elements while allowing the entrance of various life-sustaining nutrients like water, glucose, amino acids, and gases that are essential for the function of the brain. It is formed by cells that line the capillaries and are connected by what are called “tight junctions,” quite similar to the tight junctions in the cells that line the gut.

Any number of brain disorders is associated with breakdown of the BBB including infections, and even cancer. And as such, scientists have aggressively studied the BBB to determine specifically what leads to increased permeability and, perhaps most importantly, what can be done to reduce permeability in other words what can be done to reestablish the barrier, and protect the brain.

In a stunning new research report appearing in the journal, Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm studied the blood brain barrier in mice that were “germ free.” That means, that the mice used in this experiment did not have bacteria living within their intestines. Using highly sophisticated brain scanning technology, the researchers demonstrated that the blood brain barrier in these mice was significantly compromised, basically a situation of what we may call a “leaky brain,” and this leakiness of the barrier persisted into adulthood.

Even more compelling was their finding that when these mice received a fecal transfer, meaning that their intestines were inoculated with the fecal material including bacteria from a healthy mouse, the permeability of the blood brain barrier was markedly improved.

First, this research is groundbreaking. The implications of being able to manipulate the health of the blood brain barrier by making changes in the gut bacteria offers up for the first time a powerful therapeutic tool that may have incredibly wide application in brain disorders. Professor Sven Pettersson, the principal investigator involved in the study was quoted in Science Daily as stating:

Given that the microbiome composition and diversity change over time, it is tempting to speculate that the blood-brain barrier integrity also may fluctuate depending on the microbiome. This knowledge may be used to develop new ways for opening the blood-brain-barrier to increase the efficacy of the brain cancer drugs and for the design of treatment regimes that strengthens the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.

Second, this research adds further evidence to the notion that a wide array of human health issues may well depend upon the diversity and complexity of the array of bacteria that lives within the gut, known as our microbiome.

It is very humbling to consider that what seems to be emerging as our most powerful leverage point in terms of treating a variety of disease states may well rest in the hands of the hundred trillion bacteria that consider our bodies to be there home. These are the fundamentals of a new horizon in medicine that are explored in my new book, Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life.

Finally, in closing, let me state that I fully appreciate that conceptually, my blog postings are clearly becoming a bit more complex in terms of the subjects I am exploring. My mission is to do my very best to make this information understandable, and bring to your attention the health-related relevance of these new scientific discoveries.

Posted by on Feb 02, 2015| 2 Comments

Five Healthy Foods That May Be Making Your Autoimmune Disease Worse

Eggs and Nuts
By Be Well Health Coach Megan McGrane

Are you eating healthfully and watching your diet as a way to manage your autoimmune symptoms, but you just don’t know why you continue to have symptoms such as bloating, upset stomach, joint pain or rashes?  Although you are eating foods you believe to be healthy, here are five foods that may be triggering your autoimmune symptoms and keeping you inflamed, despite your best intentions.


You may already know that avoiding gluten is essential to your health if you have an autoimmune disease, but did you know that even though corn does not contain gluten, it can be almost equally as irritating to the gut lining? This is because corn can look like gluten to your body and cause what is known as a ‘cross-reaction’.  Your body actually thinks the proteins in corn are gluten and sets off your immune system.  Many believe this is because corn has been genetically modified and cross-bred for decades, altering its genetic structure. Additionally, corn is a higher glycemic index vegetable, meaning it readily converts to sugar in the body. We know that any foods rapidly converting to sugar will cause an insulin response and can contribute to inflammation.


While nuts are a convenient snack that can provide quick energy, eating too many nuts could be hindering your healing.  While nuts contain anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids, they are also high in Omega-6 fatty acids, which are pro-inflammatory. Striking the right balances is critical and over-eating nuts can actually cause increased inflammation. Nuts are also high in phytic acid which is known as an ‘anti-nutrient’. Phytic acid binds to essential minerals in digestive tract and can prevent the minerals from being absorbed. While having nuts or nut butter on occasion is great, overindulging can hinder your healing.

Goji Berries

Goji Berries are part of the nightshade family, which includes vegetables like eggplant, tomatoes, white potatoes, and peppers.  Nightshades often cause inflammation and joint pain in patients with autoimmune disease.  While goji berries are loaded with antioxidants and super food qualities, they may not be a super food for you if you suffer from inflammation and joint pain.

Read the Whole Article

Posted by on Jan 30, 2015| 6 Comments

Acrylamide in Food:
How to Reduce Your Cancer Risk

The European Food Safety Agency tends to be a few steps ahead of ours when it comes to exercising precaution and introducing preventative measures to protect the health of Europeans.

Why?  Maybe it’s because they don’t have a “for profit” health care system.  They actually have to try to keep people healthy, because if Europeans had the same rates of diseases that we do here, it would crush their economy, since taxpayers would have to foot the  health care bill.

Back in the U.S., sickness sells.  So there is little incentive economically to introduce precautionary measures like this.

But just because our government agencies don’t get the word out, it doesn’t mean that we can’t.

Here is an interesting infographic on a cancer causing agent that is found in everyday foods. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something, so maybe when you’re making those potatoes, keep an eye on the color.  A little bit of prevention can go a long way.

Follow Robyn on Twitter @foodawakenings.  She is a former financial analyst and author.

This article originally appeared on

Posted by on Jan 29, 2015| 1 Comments

3 Easy Changes for a Healthier New Year

Whether or not your New Year’s resolution was about slimming down, we can all take the opportunity for a fresh start when it comes to our approach to health.

See my interview with Dr. Manny Alvarez at Fox News, highlighting a few easy changes you can make this year, from my new book, “The New Health Rules.”

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015| 1 Comments