Healing Arthritis Challenge

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Healing Arthritis

Your 3-Step Guide to Conquering Arthritis Naturally

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30-Day HealMyGut Program

Your gateway to feeling well again! End digestive symptoms, repair the immune system, reduce inflammation.

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3 Strategies to Create New Habits That Stick

Do you begin something new — like losing weight, exercising or meditating — maybe even have some success — and then STOP?

Do you catch yourself saying, “I have no willpower”?

Or my personal favorite, “I know what I need to do, but just can’t seem to do it.”?

All of these scenarios are about only ONE thing: Changing the ingrained behaviors that lead you astray.

It’s not about diet, it’s not about exercise, it’s not about meditation.

3 Strategies to Create New Habits That Stick

Forget about goals, and laser focus on Just One Thing. Let’s be honest, who doesn’t have the best intentions (“I’m going to workout 3 times a week.” “I’m going to meditate every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.” “I’m going to eating cleanly all week.”) only to “fail” when life gets busy. And life always gets busy. Focus on one thing that you can do every single day, no matter what. And only one thing. You might want to lose weight, start flossing your teeth, exercise, and meditate. But, choose one thing.

Here’s an example:

I will meditate every day for 1 minute. Yes, 1 minute! The consistency of doing it every day trumps everything else. You’re teaching your brain to expect it and need it. Can you do more? Absolutely. Will you do less? Nope. Do at least one minute every day for a week, and then go up to 3 minutes. You might then go up to 5 minutes. Eventually you will get to the number that works best for you. And, in your back pocket you have your bare minimum: No matter what I will meditate 1 minute a day.

 

Pair Your New Habit With Something You Already Do — How many times have you tried to squeeze in a new habit, only to realize at the end of the day you either forgot or couldn’t make the time. The truth is time is finite and the way we use time is habit! Want to start a meditation practice? Either pair with it something you already do, or do it at the same time every day (and set a reminder). For instance, I meditate every morning with my tea. I sit in the same comfy spot, with a cup of tea, every single morning. Habit.

 

Stop Focusing On Staying On Track and Start Focusing On How Quickly You Can Get Back on Track — Everyone falls off track. Everyone! The absolute key to success long term is learning how to get back on track quickly, leaving behind the feelings of shame and guilt that often snowball when we “stop doing” the habit we are trying to create. One day turns into two, two days turn into three and before you know it a month has gone by.

 

It doesn’t have to be that way! It is 100% possible to meet your goals. You need a plan that works for you. It doesn’t have to work for your sibling, your friend or your co-worker. It has to work for you, and only you.

And I can help.

In our work together, you will create new habits that stick. And, perhaps most importantly:

You will have the exact tools you need to get back on track in record time when an obstacle gets in your way.

Game-changer. No, this is a life-changer!

 

“In working with Melissa I stepped outside my comfort zone and became motivated to move forward and accomplish things that I normally would not have.  I felt empowered, and learned strategies to stick to my diet plan and healthier lifestyle. — Christina, New York

 

Here’s How You Can Work With Me:

Private Coaching — Say good-bye to overwhelm and dread, let go of shame and guilt, and say hello to a new way, molded to fit you and you only. Your tools, your success. Ready to make a change? We meet online or in-person. Start Today
For in-person appointments contact 914-652-7800.  

Finding Your Path: A Women’s Group for Creating Change — Are you in a life transition and ask yourself “what’s next for me?” Are you wondering what the heck happened to your “swagger?” This breakthrough 3-session program is designed for women who want to put the spring back in their step. Ready to walk into a room and feel like you own it? Learn More Here

 

“Melissa is a fun, caring, knowledgeable, and insightful health coach, and I thank her from the bottom of my heart for having this group.  She has helped me to realize what is important to focus on and helped me with strategies to get me where I want to be. She has great insight and a true gift for helping you realize your hopes and dreams.  I appreciate her knowledge and wisdom, and look forward to a continued relationship.” —Annie Acuti

 

Join me and start making lasting change today.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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3 Things Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About Arthritis

The “itis” in “arthritis” means inflammation. Inflammation is the most basic problem in all arthritis, whether it is what we traditionally call “inflammatory arthritis,” like autoimmune rheumatoid arthritis, or the arthritis most associated with wear and tear on joints over time, osteoarthritis.

The traditional medical approach to these two kinds of joint inflammation is to use different medications, depending on the type or arthritis, to block the inflammation process. Although these can be successful in decreasing symptoms and can in some cases prevent further joint destruction, the medications don’t get at the root cause of why you developed the inflammation in the first place.  

Functional medicine takes a deeper look at the causes of inflammation and gives you options for reversing the process where it starts: in the gut, in the mouth, from your food, and from the stress response. Traditionally, doctors almost never evaluate  these areas when addressing joint pain, but fortunately functional medicine has the tools to do just that.

This is exactly why Dr. Blum, our Medical Director of Blum Center for Health, the medical center where I am a Functional Nurse Practitioner, is hosting the Healing Arthritis Challenge, a LIVE online 10-week arthritis gamechanger, designed to give you the exact same arthritis protocol we use with private patients — the exact food plan, our favorite, go-to supplements, the exact gut protocol and the exact lifestyle influencers — that you need to live a vibrant, pain-free life. Take a look, it’s closing soon!  See it Now

What Your Gut and Mouth Have to Do with Arthritis

The mouth and the gut are two of the biggest reservoirs of beneficial bacteria in the body. These bacteria are vital to our health and we can’t live without them. Normally, the bacteria in the gut do many good things for us, like nourishing our gut lining to keep it healthy—but keep in mind that the health of these bacteria depends on things like eating plenty of fiber, avoiding sugar, having very little exposure to antibiotics, and having strong digestive power.

Gut bacteria can become a major source of inflammation, if the bacteria are not in balance, leading over time to a condition called leaky gut, or increased intestinal permeability.  Leaky gut allows the bacteria, food particles and inflammation to seep out of the gut and spread throughout the body, especially to the joints, causing pain and inflammation. Research has borne out this connection: many people with arthritis will experience significant reduction or reversal of their joint pain and inflammation by rebalancing their gut flora with a program of food, antibacterial herbs, probiotics, and glutamine.   

In a similar way, the abundant bacteria in the mouth can create inflammation in the body in people with gingivitis or periodontal disease. The inflamed gums allow the inflammation generated by the bacteria to enter the body and cause system-wide inflammation. One of the most important things you can do to prevent this trigger for joint pain, in addition to eating a diet low in sugar and high in vegetables, is to floss every day and have your teeth cleaned regularly. Studies have shown—and it is our experience at Blum Center—that for a certain percentage of people with inflammatory arthritis, reversing their periodontal disease also reversed or reduced their joint disease.

The Food You Eat & Arthritis

At Blum Center, we have any number of patients with both osteoarthritis and inflammatory arthritis who have done an elimination diet and found out that by eliminating foods such as gluten and dairy, their joint pain got much better.  When they reintroduce these foods, they get a flare of pain. Most of the time, their rheumatologist will tell them that eliminating foods will not help arthritis, but we see the benefits every day and medical research supports the association as well.

And, Yes, Stress is a Major Arthritis Trigger

And then there’s stress!  We so often leave it for last, I think because we find it so challenging to figure out what to do about it. When stress comes into the body, it can make a significant impact on our biochemistry by changing hormone balance, energy production, and digestive power. Many of these biochemical changes lead to some form of inflammation and patients’ experiences as well as our own show us that a flare of symptoms often follows a stressful time. Doing practices like meditation, listening to beautiful music, restorative yoga, a walk in nature can shift this inflammatory biochemistry even when you may not be able to eliminate the life events that are triggering a stress response.  Ten minutes of focused breathing or meditation can make a world of difference as well as a difference in our world!

 

Meet Elizabeth: In her dual role as our Functional Medicine Nurse Practitioner and a teacher in our Mind.Body.Spirit programs at Blum Center for Health, Elizabeth Greig, MSN, FNP, helps treat and heal patients with complex chronic health conditions. Whether she’s treating a medical condition or leading a class in meditation, Elizabeth helps people understand that when it comes to healing, it’s more about nourishing life, than it is about battling illness. Learn more about Elizabeth’s practice.

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Should You Take Probiotics?

Probiotics are living bacteria normally found in the human digestive tract that are usually ingested to improve the quality and quantity of the gut’s beneficial bacteria. One of the goals of taking a probiotic is to shift the population of gut bacteria toward one that is more healing and low inflammatory. But most people don’t know that probiotics do a lot more than just influence the population of the microbes that live in your gut.

Many studies have shown that probiotics can repair a leaky gut, reduce intestinal permeability and help increase the production of butyrate (a short chain fatty acid made by good gut flora that is very good for us).  In their role as influencers on the gut microbiome, probiotics have been found to specifically reduce proinflammatory bacteria such as Escherichia coli, Enterobacter aerogenes, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Streptococcus viridans, Bacteroides fragilis, Bacteroides uniformis, and Clostridium ramosum. When these and other potentially harmful bacteria are present in high amounts, they create a pro-inflammatory, leaky gut causing condition called dysbiosis. (1)  The term dysbiosis was introduced over a century ago by the Nobel Prize laureate Elie Metchnikoff, who used it to describe a disruption of the normal balance of the bacteria in the gut and then proposed using yogurt with active bacterial cultures to improve both the gut and human health.(2)

Probiotics have gotten bad press recently because many people believe that probiotics are like seeds that plant themselves in the gut and that they are supposed to grow there and flourish.  When studies recently showed that probiotics in fact pass through us in about 6 weeks, the buzz was that people shouldn’t bother taking them. This absolutely is not true, because probiotics exert their influence without needing to plant and grow.  They help improve the whole ecosystem of the gut and also have a huge role to play in helping treat inflammation like arthritis, and immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease.

For example, researchers have studied the use of probiotic supplements to treat the dysbiosis of inflammatory arthritis and found that probiotics improve symptoms in arthritis sufferers.  Generally speaking, when it comes to arthritis, probiotics are thought to improve all the functions of your good flora, including helping T regulator immune cells work better and live longer, turning off inflammation and repairing the gut lining and tight junctions.  Because probiotics help treat a leaky gut, and because of the gut-arthritis connection, it follows that they would also treat systemic inflammation and arthritis, and they do!  

The bottom line? The strains researched in arthritis with the most evidence for an anti-inflammatory effect are Lactobacilli:  casei, acidophilus, reuteri, rhamnosus GG and salivarius. There is also good evidence for Bifidobacterium bifidum.  Bifidobacterium infantis, E coli nissle, and Lactobacillus plantarum were found to improve tight junctions and heal leaky gut, even if they weren’t studied for their effects specifically on arthritis. This data tells me that a multi-strain formula that includes as many of these as possible, with a priority given to those that have been studied in arthritis patients, is best when using probiotics to reduce inflammation.

If you have arthritis or any inflammatory condition, taking a probiotic is a great place to start.  But to treat dysbiosis, functional medicine offers a more complete approach that includes an herbal program to clean the “weeds” out of the garden.  The HealMyGut program can be done by itself, or as part of the Arthritis Challenge.  

And finally, I leave you with a brief suggestion for choosing a probiotic.  This can be confusing! I prefer to use a multi strain formula that has as many anti-inflammatory strains as I can find.  I love Klaire Labs, because they have been around as long as I’ve been practicing Functional Medicine (almost 2 decades!) and I know they work since I have been using them all this time.  My favorite product is Therbiotic complete, because it includes all the above strains. That’s why I use this for my private label BCH! PURCHASE HERE

Klaire Labs Therbiotic Complete: 12 strains

  •      Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  •      Bifidobacterium bifidum
  •      Lactobacillus acidophilus
  •      Lactobacillus casei
  •      Lactobacillus plantarum
  •      Lactobacillus salivarius
  •      Bifidobacterium longum
  •      Streptococcus thermophilus
  •      Lactobacillus bulgaricus
  •      Lactobacillus paracasei
  •      Bifidobacterium lactis
  •      Bifidobacterium breve

 

[1]  Parian A, Limketkai B, Shah N, Mullin G. Nutraceutical Supplements for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Nutrition in Clinical Practice. 2015. Vol 30, Number 4. 551-558.

[2] Zeng MY, Inohara N and Nunez G. Mechanism of inflammation-driven bacterial dysbiosis in the gut.  Mucosal Immunology. Online publication 24 August 2016. doi:10.1038/mi.2016.75

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3 Ways to Stop Arthritis Pain Starting Now

Did you know that arthritis is the #1 disability in the country and more than 50 million people needlessly suffer with it?

And did you know that arthritis is afflicting more and more young people every day?

Let’s buck the myth right now: Arthritis is not a old person’s disease.

In fact, arthritis is an inflammatory disease, and very often the root cause has nothing to do with age!

That’s why Dr. Susan Blum wrote her bestselling book, Healing Arthritis. Since its release last year we have helped thousands of people learn that arthritis is NOT inevitable, and that by following the 3-step Arthritis Protocol, arthritis sufferers will be on the road to living a pain-free life.

We are on a mission to help people all over the world reverse their arthritis! If you suffer from arthritis, we want to help you too. We invite you to join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge — a 10-week arthritis gamechanger. Dr. Blum with host 5 LIVE calls and I will host 10 Q&A support calls. You will learn exactly what you need to do to reverse your arthritis and we will be with you every step of the way. → Show Me The Challenge!

Here’s a common question we hear from people all over the world, “What can I do to stop my arthritis pain?” While most doctors offer prescription medications that create a whole host of new problems, we offer a 3-pronged approach to begin your journey to living pain-free.

3 Ways to Start Arthritis Pain Starting Now

Make pain-free food choices

In fact, the single most important influence on reducing your pain is the food you eat!

Here’s what you need to do:

Increase the number of healthy foods you are eating.

  • Your grocery list should include antioxidant rich dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, swiss chard; and deep, colorful berries like blackberries and blueberries.
  • Make a habit of eating clean fish once or twice weekly, it’s full of inflammation-lowering omega 3 fatty acids. Buy high-quality, grass-fed, non-GMO animal products and eat them sparingly, perhaps once each week.
  • Eat loads of healthy, high-quality oils and fats like olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.
  • Fit lots of fiber onto your plate in the form of whole grains, legumes and veggies — to feed the good bacteria of the gut. (Avoid gluten if you know you are sensitive to it, or if you have autoimmune disease).
  • Spice your foods with turmeric, the bright yellow indian spice that’s not only delicious but also combats inflammation.  

Avoid inflammatory foods — this includes highly processed foods made with white flour and white sugar, and practically everything that comes in a box.  Avoid processed flour products like baked goods and cookies, and sweetened dairy products like ice cream. Shop the perimeter of the store – buy real, whole foods in their natural state.

Even better, we highly recommend following Dr. Blum’s Leaky Gut Diet for Arthritis, which eliminates known arthritis triggers for a period of time, and then reintroduces them in a methodical way to create your personal nutrition plan. You can learn more about it in Healing Arthritis, or join us for the Healing Arthritis Challenge.

Utilize anti-arthritis supplements to decrease pain.

There are several supplements that have been scientifically proven to decrease inflammation and pain. These are some of the supplements Dr. Blum outlines in her book, and that we utilize in the Healing Arthritis Challenge with specific, exact dosing:

  • Omega 3 (EPA and DHA) & Omega 6 (GLA) Fatty acids – these powerful anti-inflammatory fats have been found to reduce pain and improve physical function in Rheumatoid Arthritis.
  • Curcumin – this plant-derived antioxidant and natural anti-inflammatory  has been found to reduce pain and stiffness in Osteoarthritis.
  • Vitamin C – the link between oxidative stress and joint damage is clear. Vitamin C (and other antioxidants) have been shown to reduce pain (and oxidative stress) in inflammatory joint disease.
  • Probiotics – when we think about joint health, our attention naturally turns to the gut and the health of the microbiome (the bacteria that live in the digestive tract).  Improving the balance of the terrain in your gut with a good probiotic can help with the arthritic pain and inflammation throughout the body.

Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.

When it comes to arthritis, the impact of stress is largely overlooked. However, stress and trauma have serious consequences on your gut, your immune system, and your arthritis pain.  Improving your resilience in the face of stressors will keep your arthritis from flaring.

How to destress:

  • Simplify your schedule. If you are suffering from arthritic pain this is a cry for help from your biological system. Give yourself time and space to renew and rebuild the resilience that you are lacking. Open space in your week to just be.
  • Find time for sleep. Make sure you are getting over 8 hours of sleep a night. Work backwards from your wake-up time and get into bed 1 hour prior to that. Make a routine at bedtime that is relaxing and supportive – take a bath, sip some tea, read a pleasant book. Avoid screens 2 hours prior to bed and help the whole family get on board. Doing things with support makes them much easier!
  • Make room for movement. You don’t need to add a strenuous exercise routine right away unless you find that that helps your pain, but work towards getting there. To start, just make a plan to have a short walk outside, or put down your yoga mat and gently stretch and move your body beyond the confines of the standing and sitting of your normal day. If you’re feeling more ambitious, try a yoga or tai chi class for meditative movement.
  • Book a massage – or other bodywork – for pain relief and stress reduction.  Acupuncture, craniosacral, myofascial release are all good options to check out.
  • Explore mindfulness meditation.  This can be a simple as listening to a guided meditation on an app or with our Blum Center recordings.  It can be more regimented like finding an MBSR or TM class in your area and starting a daily practice. It can also be as simple as breathing in and out throughout your day with intention.
  • Consider therapy.  The stress and trauma from past experience sometimes holds us back from being able to let go of tension in the body.  We know that past traumatic experience leads to worse pain and function in autoimmune disease – and we’ve found that addressing it can lead to improved symptoms.  

The great thing is you don’t have to do this alone!

If you want someone with you every step of the way, if you love the power of community, please consider joining me and Dr. Blum for the Healing Arthritis Challenge. Dr. Blum will teach you LIVE the exact 3-Step Protocol that we use with patients at Blum Center for Health. You will learn the best food plan for arthritis, the precise supplements and dosage we recommend for an arthritis-free life, how to build resiliency so that life’s stressors won’t affect your health, and what your gut has to do with your arthritis symptoms. In essence, Dr. Blum gives you all the tools you need to fix your gut and heal your arthritis. Show Me More

To recap, the 3 actions you can start right now to decrease your arthritis pain is 1) eat an anti-arthritis diet 2) take the appropriate supplements and 3) learn to be resilient to stress. Do these things and you will feel better with less pain and much more energy.

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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How Stress Effects Your Heart and What You Can Do About it

For those of you who know me, either personally or professionally, you know that Mind-Body-Spirit self care strategies are at the core of what I practice and preach for preventing and treating chronic disease.  I meditate every morning and spend lots of time in nature. But more than this, I teach others about how stress affects your health and offer tools to do something about it.

For this month, I offer a guest blog on this topic from my friend and colleague, Dr Alon Gitig, a gifted cardiologist who I work with to help my patients get the best care, including prevention and treatment of various conditions.  Mind-Body Medicine for too long has been the step-sister to conventional medicine, but now you can see for yourself that it’s not any more!

Enjoy this perspective from a traditional cardiology practice!

Susan Blum, MD, MPH

 

Guest post by By Alon Gitig, MD, FACC

Health blogs talk a lot about “mindfulness” these days.  Many of us have read claims that controlling our emotions can improve our health, and are left wondering whether there’s evidence to support this.  Research into mind-body techniques is accumulating, as investigators look for ways to lower the risk of chronic diseases above and beyond the proven—yet incomplete–benefits offered by medications.  In the field of cardiology in particular, despite major gains in the past 50 years, there is still an unacceptably high burden of heart disease, even when people are well-treated with evidence-based therapy.  Let’s take a look at the evidence base behind whether stress management might help tackle this problem.

Psychological stress can have profound effects on our bodies.  

Studies suggest that up to 60-80% of all primary care visits are related to manifestations of stress.  A Mayo Clinic analysis identified stress as the most powerful predictor of cardiac events, while other studies indicate that mental stress predicts cardiac death more strongly than cigarette smoking.  Depression roughly doubles the risk of heart attack. Both anxiety and anger have been linked to a 6-fold increased risk of cardiac events, including arrhythmias and sudden death.

Stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, with potential effects on blood pressure and heart rate.  There is also evidence that elevation in cortisol levels, increased platelet clotting, and abnormal reactivity of artery walls might be triggered by psychological distress.  What’s more, the brain may also directly affect the heart via descending nerve pathways.  Amazingly, recent research reveals that subjects who intentionally generate positive emotions, such as gratitude, influence the heart’s beating into a pattern that is associated with healthy cardiovascular function and decreased risk of arrhythmic death.

These observations prompted studies attempting to improve health outcomes via stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and biofeedback.  Results have been mixed, confounded by practical, methodological limitations inherent in conducting such trials. Not surprisingly, all of these modalities have generally led to significant improvements in psychological well-being, both in healthy volunteers and specifically in cardiac patients.

Some studies have demonstrated improved control of cardiac risk factors as well.  Statistically significant reductions in blood pressure or resting heart rate have been achieved in patients with coronary disease, congestive heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.  Interestingly, the magnitude of blood pressure lowering in some studies (i.e. 10 mmHg) mimics that seen in certain trials of hypertension drugs.

The data suggest that clinical symptoms and physical functioning can benefit from relaxation techniques as well.  Patients with established coronary disease randomized to a 24-day intensive stress-management program experienced less angina episodes compared to baseline (versus no change in the control group).  These patients also exercised longer on follow-up treadmill tests, and demonstrated improvements in blinded measurements of cardiac function.

Of note, a strict vegan diet was part of the experimental regimen, hence the impact attributable directly to the relaxation intervention is uncertain.  Several studies of congestive heart failure patients treated with meditation or yoga demonstrated improvements in symptoms of breathlessness and fatigue, along with improved walking distance on standard 6-minute walk tests.  Here too, the magnitude of the increase in distance walked was comparable to benefits seen in trials of drugs for angina and pulmonary hypertension. Three months of yoga therapy in atrial fibrillation patients resulted in less symptoms and fewer detected arrhythmia episodes on wearable heart rhythm monitors.

But do these techniques prevent heart attacks or prolong life?  Believe it or not, there are two studies demonstrating reduced long-term risk of death following 3 months of meditation training.  Since the magnitude of benefit observed was far greater than would be expected from the brief exposure to meditation, these results are intriguing, but far from definitive.

So what’s the bottom line on stress?

First, it’s clear that psychological stress, anxiety, and other adverse emotional states often cause or exacerbate a variety of symptoms, and that relaxation practices can offer symptomatic relief.  Furthermore, evidence supports that emotional-regulation tools are very safe. For these reasons, two separate American Heart Association committees have endorsed their use as “reasonable to consider” in the care of cardiac patients.

For many people, the benefits of improved emotional equilibrium are motivation enough to try out these practices.  If you’re hoping that your yoga class will control your palpitations, improve your exercise tolerance, or cut your risk of heart attack, there’s no guarantee.  But if you are struggling with persistent symptoms despite your doctor treating you with the best available, evidence-based care, then there’s reason to be optimistic that mind-body practice may offer you the extra relief you’re looking for, with little to no downside to giving it a try.

By Alon Gitig, MD, FACC
Mount Sinai Riverside Medical Group
Yonkers, NY

Do you suffer with stress and arthritis? If you are interested in learning how to become resilient to life’s stressors, and what your gut has to do with arthritis symptoms, join Dr. Blum for a FREE Arthritis Masterclass on 1/22.  Save Your Spot

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How to Navigate the Elimination Diet During the Holidays

Tis the season to be jolly! A time to embrace all the fun, laughter, family, friends and warmth around you.

Along with this wonderful socialization comes FOOD! A common question I am asked is, “How can I stay on the elimination diet plan during the holidays?” Let’s navigate this together!

You started an elimination diet to help you understand what food may be contributing to your symptoms. You are into the second week and you are feeling the best you have felt in a long time! You have a holiday party to attend and want to stay as compliant as possible. Otherwise, if you reintroduce foods at the party, how will you know which one of those foods provokes those terrible symptoms again?

When you are not feeling well, an elimination diet plan can be the single most important thing you can do to bring yourself relief from the symptoms you experience. It’s common to hear my clients tell me that they can’t believe the foods they eat daily cause their body so much distress.

At the Blum Center For Health, we guide you through an elimination diet known as the Leaky Gut Diet.  We remove the most common food sensitivities such as gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, shellfish, peanuts, caffeine, and alcohol. These meal plans are further customized to meet individual nutritional needs as needed. These target foods are carefully reintroduced at a later date to test for tolerance. This is a perfect time to adapt to an anti-inflammatory eating plan by removing processed foods and sugars while determining possible food sensitivities that may be causing inflammation in the body. Once you complete the Elimination Diet, you are equipped with your own nutritional plan. Talk about power!

I did my first elimination diet years ago. I chose the month of December! It was the best decision I ever made. I suffered with daily bloating and chronic migraines. I had a great time trying new foods and recipes. While on the elimination diet, I ate without feeling bloated, my energy was optimal, and I was finally free from my headaches! I also lost a few pounds as a bonus! I encourage you to go for it and pick out your favorite holiday outfit!

5 Ways to Navigate the Holidays While on an Elimination Diet

Bring your own dish.

You have a food sensitivity and not sure what will be on the menu… play it safe and bring a dish. This will allow you a greater peace of mind so you can eat and socialize without being sorry about what food sensitivities could be lurking within the food around you. Besides, people will think you were so kind to contribute to the spread!

Don’t go to the event hungry.

Eat your regular meals so you don’t go to the feast ready to indulge.  This will help you prevent eating something you really wanted to avoid because to you were too hungry to resist. Stay hydrated. Sometimes we can mistake hunger for thirst.

Don’t be afraid to say, “No, thank you.”

I come from an Italian background and I know too well how a Grandparent could be offended if you say “no” to a food she is offering. My Grandmother used to say, “I didn’t see you eat this”, and would gracefully put a large portion on my plate. Always be polite and say it looks delicious, but no thank you. Recall how you felt before you started the elimination diet — it’s not worth setting yourself back. Know when you can practice the 90/10 rule with eating. For example, histamine sensitivity is all about threshold. You consume lemon in your seltzer and you’re fine but when coupled with a meal containing fermented vegetables and shellfish…you just ruined your evening!

You are not strange!

This is the generation of special diet modifications … gluten-free, nightshade-free, Paleo, low FODMAPs etc. People are more familiar with food sensitivities. Heck, they probably have tried a gluten-free or dairy-free meal plan themselves. Contact the cook or the person in charge of the menu. Nine times out of ten they have an alternative they can offer you.

Embrace how good you are feeling.

Live in the moment and let go of the stress. Embrace the joy the holidays can bring to you. You will be avoiding alcohol on your elimination diet. No problem, opt for a refreshing seltzer with lime.  Be creative with your food choices and make your own appetizers. Like popcorn, make your own version of a cauliflower popcorn. Use a head of cauliflower, cut into large bite size pieces and toss in avocado oil, sea salt and turmeric. Roast in a 425 degree oven until golden to your liking. Enjoy!

Above all be mindful of the food you are eating being grateful while savoring each bite!

Want to have your Best December Ever? Check out Health Coach Melissa Rapoport’s, terrific post this month about a December mindset vs. a Holiday mindset. Having a plan as you navigate through the holiday months will prove to reduce stress and the risk of unwanted guilt of feeling like your health spiraled out of control. → Show Me

Are you feeling the effects of too much holiday fun? About now many people feel heavy, bloated and blah. It’s the perfect time to do our 10-Day HealMyGut program — reboot and feel better —  it’s exactly what you need to bring your intestinal flora back into balance. Relief is on the way! — Yes, Please!

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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Create your Healthiest December Ever!

Here’s a question: Do You Have a “Holiday Mindset” or “December Mindset?”

Here’s what I mean:

  • Do you put everything “on hold” during the holidays and think, “It’s the holidays. Once January 1st hits I’ll get back on track?” That is a “Holiday Mindset.”
  • Or, do you buckle down, stick to your plans and make stuff happen?” That is a “December Mindset.”

Most people, explains Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, have a “Holiday Mindset” (which puts life on hold and feels kinda crummy).

What does that mean from a health context?

You eat poorly, stop exercising, get caught up in holiday stress, feel overwhelmed and hit January 1st needing to make resolutions and a reboot.

But you can choose to create “The Best December Ever” by staying aware, committed and consciously understanding that everything you do this month sets us you up for success going into the New Year.

Doesn’t that sound awesome? Who doesn’t want success going into the New Year? Why wait for the ball to drop? Why even wait another day?

5 Steps to Creating Your Best December Ever:

1. Create Your Goal — I recommend creating one goal (okay, for you overachievers, you can have two — just be sure it’s something you can stick with for the month of December, one of the most stressful months of the year). It could have to do with food, exercise, self-care, meditation, family, journaling, how you approach the holidays — anything you want, but it has to be something that serves you and will make you feel awesome!

So what do you want to do? Let’s turn it into a “Smart” Goal. Smart Goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound.

I’ll use myself as an example. I want to exercise regularly.

My exercise Smart Goal is: I will workout 3x a week, mostly yoga, on Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, for the entire month of December. It is specific, measurable (3x a week), attainable (it’s not out of reach — saying I want to snow ski 3x a week would be unattainable), realistic (saying 5 times a week would be unrealistic for me) and time bound (the month of December).

Your turn! What do you want to create this month?

2.  Write a “Gold Card’ and post where you will see it — basically, this is a love note to yourself. Mine says, “I honor my body and choose to nourish my body. I give myself permission to say “no” to commitments that do not serve me. I will not allow my family/friends to take me off-track. I choose to care for me. Love. Light. Replenish.” I post mine on the bathroom mirror. Yep, seriously. First thing I see in the morning. Last thing I see before I go to bed. It’s hard work to rewire our brains!

3.  Visualize yourself achieving your goal — Performance athletes use visualization to “see themselves” in action. Basically, you’re rehearsing success in your mind’s eye. This is very powerful stuff? Try it … sit quietly and envision yourself achieving your goal. Feels good, right? Add it to your mediation practice if you have one. Or, when you read your Gold Card, take a moment and use visualization.

4.  Get an Accountability Buddy! — ask someone to join you – check in with them by text every day (or every other day). Hint: sometimes it’s best not to choose someone who you know really well. Why? Because you both are more likely to let one another off the hook!)

I started my Best December Ever on Monday (a bit of a head start) for the month. Feels good already.

Your turn! What’s your goal?

Looking to create your best year ever? Now is the time to get started! What do you want to achieve? Lose weight, stick to a food plan or exercise program, start a meditation practice .. I can help. Set up a free consultation and I will help you create your roadmap to success. Call 914-652-7800 and let’s chat!

 

Meet Melissa: Melissa Rapoport is the Manager of Health Coaching and Lifestyle Programming at Blum Center for Health in Rye Brook, NY. She combines her graduate work in Developmental Psychology with her education in nutrition, health and coaching to create highly individualized programs that result in lifetime change. A contributing author to three international bestselling books, Melissa’s greatest joy is her relationship with her two daughters.

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Orange Ginger Mashed Butternut Squash

This comforting recipe is a great change of pace for a healthy, yet flavorful side dish. The citrus adds brightness while warming ginger helps to soothe the digestive tract.

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 butternut squash (approximately 2-2½ pounds), peeled and cut into large chunks

¼ cup pure maple syrup

2 teaspoons orange zest

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup coconut butter (manna) or coconut oil

Sea salt, to taste

 

Preparation

  1. Place butternut squash in a large pot. Cover with water and boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Combine the maple syrup, orange zest, orange juice, lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon, and coconut butter or oil in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a quick boil over high heat, being careful not to burn. Quickly lower to a simmer and cook about 2-3 minutes or until syrupy. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Place drained butternut squash in a large bowl and pour orange mixture over the top. Mash together with a potato masher and season with salt. If a creamier texture is desired, transfer mixture to a food processor and pulse until smooth.

 

Cook’s notes: Substitute peeled sweet potatoes for butternut squash, if desired.

 

BIO: Lisa Markley, MS, RDN is a dietitian, culinary nutrition expert, and co-author of the best-selling The Essential Thyroid Cookbook: Over 100 Nourishing Recipes for Thriving with Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’sAs a seasoned culinary educator and recipe developer, Lisa translates nutrition science to the plate using health-supportive ingredients prepared with peak flavor, seasonality, and nutrient density in mind. Learn more at www.thyroidcookbook.com.

 

Recipe shared with permission from The Essential Thyroid Cookbook by Lisa Markley and Jill Grunewald, published by Blue Wheel Press. Recipes ©2017 by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN. Food photography ©2016 by Kenny Johnson. www.thyroidcookbook.com.

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Oh My! Grain-Free Apple Pie for the Holidays!

A HOLIDAY TRADITION MADE NEW

The holidays are upon us. A perfect time to make new healthy family traditions.

I come from a family that is full of food traditions, especially at holiday time. Being a Dietitian, I have been known to throw my family a few curve balls in the effort to promote good food in the name of HEALTH.   This year our traditional apple pie, made from scratch by my husband has undergone a massive change. It is a grain-free version of an apple pie!

GRAIN-FREE HOMEMADE APPLE PIE

YIELD: ONE  9” PIE                                                     

INGREDIENTS:

3 cups almond flour

1 cup tapioca flour

2 tbsp coconut sugar

½ tsp sea salt

½ cup + 3 tbsp grass fed butter, softened

1 egg

FILLING:

4 medium sized apples, peeled, cored and sliced (I used Gala, Red Delicious, Rome)

2 tbsp tapioca flour

½ cup coconut sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

¼ tsp nutmeg

¼ tsp ginger

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS:

1)   Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2)   In a food processor (my husband does this old school by hand, no food processor allowed), combine first 5 ingredients and pulse until blended into a meal like consistency.

3)   In a separate small bowl, whisk egg and then add to dry mixture. Pulse until dough like consistency (or simply mix with hands!).

4)   Separate into 2 equal portions. Place each portion in between two separate pieces of parchment paper.

5)   Refrigerate dough to make more pliable when rolling (this may not be necessary, my dough rolled out perfect without refrigeration). Using a rolling pin, roll each portion flat.

6)   In a large bowl, place apples, tapioca flour, sugar, spices, and vanilla extract and mix until evenly coated.

7)   Place one layer of crust in the bottom of the pie plate. Pour apple mixture over crust evenly distributing over crust.

8)   Cover pie mixture with top layer of dough. Trim the edges and flute with a fork. May cut a small “x” in the center of pie for venting.

9)   Place pie on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees, continue to bake for 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. If edges become too brown during baking, tent with foil.

10)Remove from oven, cool on a baking rack or top of stove. Cut into equal slices.

Notes: Serve pie topped with coconut whipped cream or non-dairy ice cream.

Recipe tried and tested by my traditional family and passed with flying colors for the holidays. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Keri Lynn MacElhinney, RD, CDN is a Functional Medicine Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health.  She has over 20 years of professional experience as a Registered Dietitian and holds a nutrition license in New York and the State of Connecticut. In her early years, her field experience covered a wide array of areas including acute care hospitals, community health centers, substance abuse.  Make an appointment with Keri Lynn at 914-652-7800.

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When Does a Shoulder Ache Become A Shoulder Problem?

Did you know that shoulder injuries typically occur prior to the progressive aches and pains that follow the injury? The shoulder joint is the most complex joint of the upper body, designed for mobility and physical interaction.

For example, think about opening a jar: although the hand and wrist provides the twisting motion, the shoulder joint provides the greatest amount of strength and stability. In fact, the shoulder’s multidirectional flexibility relies on the ‘rotator cuff muscles’ – four muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus, subscapularis, teres minor) inserting around the shoulder joint that help move it, as well as providing stability. However, this architectural complexity creates an inherent risk for shoulder instability and injury, and is a common source of pain

Shoulder Aches and Pains

Most people are unaware of their shoulder problem for a long time. This is why: There are several muscles connected to the shoulder joint. When there is a deficit in one of the muscles, the other muscles have the ability to compensate. Therefore, shoulder injuries do not become apparent as problems until there are multiple deficits causing significant aches and pains.

Another important point to mention is that acute pain felt in the shoulder region may not indicate that there is a primary shoulder problem at all. There are several adjacent musculoskeletal regions (e.g. the neck) that can be painful but appear to be originating from the shoulder. In addition, there some body organs that, when inflamed, can “refer pain” to the shoulder- such as the heart, gallbladder, liver, and lungs. Therefore, a thorough clinical assessment must be made to differentiate whether it is a true shoulder problem, a problem with a nearby musculoskeletal region, or a problem with other internal organs.

The Common Presentation of Shoulder Problems:

  • Non-specific aches and pains in the shoulder area that occurs spontaneously, oftentimes unaware of source or trigger of pain.
  • Loss of range of motion usually in one or two directions (often goes unnoticed)- difficulty with regular activities (reaching for an object, pulling, lifting, holding, etc).
  • Noticeable weakness with activities, inability to lay on the shoulder, swelling, stiffness and difficulty with dressing (e.g. clasping brassiere).
  • If untreated, progresses to multi-directional loss of range of motion and muscle atrophy.
  • Shoulder discomfort with daily activities:
    • Reaching overhead – i.e. opening kitchen cabinet, grabbing an item on a shelf above your head
    • Repetitive motion- i.e.driving, combing hair, brushing teeth,
    • Sustained activities- i.e. pulling, lifting or carrying an item
    • Opening door
    • reaching for seatbelt or an item from the back seat of your car
  • Grinding or cracking sound with shoulder movement
  • Pain or discomfort when laying on the shoulder
  • Difficulty with upper body dressing (ie. clasping brazire)
  • Shoulder discomfort with daily activities, ie driving, carrying grocery, shopping

6 Common Musculoskeletal Shoulder Problems:

  1. Shoulder Arthritis (Glenohumeral Joint Disorder)
  2. Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  3. Frozen Shoulder (Adhesive Capsulitis)
  4. Shoulder Instability
  5. Shoulder Acromioclavicular (AC) Joint Pain

Treatment Options:

Conventional Treatment includes:

  • Ice
  • Anti-inflammatories (oral, topicals, steroid injections)
  • Physical Therapy
  • Surgical Interventions

How Shoulder Problems are Evaluated and Alternative Therapeutic Treatments offered at the Blum Center:

  • Comprehensive Physical Diagnostic Evaluatio
  • Musculoskeletal Ultrasound Diagnostic and Therapeutic Treatment
  • Comprehensive Physical Therapy Program based on diagnostic evaluation
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)– used to repair the damaged degenerative cartilage, tendons and ligaments
  • Bone Marrow Derived Stem Cells– recommended for more progressive and severe joint issues
  • Prolotherapy– for loose and unstable shoulder ligaments and tendons
    Prolotherapy is routinely the preferred treatment option for chronic shoulder pain/injury. Prolotherapy can be used successfully for treating most chronic injuries of the shoulder including rotator cuff injuries and tears, arthritis, sprains, and AC separation. Prolotherapy is 85-90% successful in stimulating healing of the injured shoulder. Prolotherapy, the injection of a growth promoting solution in injured ligaments and tendons of the shoulder is an effective treatment that decreases pain, increases functional capacity and promotes healing better and in less time than standard treatment with physiotherapy.Remember, shoulder injuries typically occur prior to the progressive aches and pains that follow the injury. The shoulder joint is comprised of a complex system of muscles, tendons, bones, and ligaments that act in a dynamic and flexible way to provide structural support and mobility. Therefore, if you suspect that you’re having progressive shoulder aches or pains, it is highly recommended to seek medical evaluation and treatment if necessary. If so, please call us to make an appointment!

Meet Dr. Aligene: Dr. Kathy Aligene is a Double Boarded Physiatrist and Interventional Pain Management Specialist, and an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine.  Her expertise in these complementing areas of medicine has led her to successfully treat patients with musculoskeletal, joint, spine, pelvic and nerve related problems without depending on chronic use of pain medication. Dr. Aligene treats men and women of all ages and activity levels to support their functional goals and promote an active and healthy lifestyle. Book an appointment with Dr.Aligene by calling 914-652-7800.

  • References
    1. https://www.myvmc.com/symptoms/pain-2/