Immune Recovery Challenge

This steeply discounted bundle provides supplements that you need to follow the Immune Recovery protocol in Dr. Blum’s book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, and in her online Immune Recovery program.

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Healing Arthritis

Your 3-Step Guide to Conquering Arthritis Naturally

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The Immune System Recovery Plan

A Doctor’s 4-Step Program to Treat Autoimmune Disease

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What Are The Benefits of Acupuncture ?

Acupuncture is a part of a system of medicine called Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that has been in use for at least two thousand years in China and all over Asia. It is based on the theory that we have energy or Qi that flows through pathways called meridians which run throughout the body. There are over 2000 acupuncture points located on the meridians which are each associated with an organ system.

How Does Acupuncture Work?

According to TCM, when these meridians become blocked we have disruptions in the flow of Qi that puts the body out of balance. These blockages can be caused by injury, poor diet, emotions, stress, lack of sleep, as well as external factors such as the weather, environment and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. By restoring the smooth flow of Qi the body can be brought back into balance and harmony.

During an acupuncture session, endorphins are released, which are the body’s natural opioid hormones that relieve pain, induce sleep, and create a state of wellbeing.

Acupuncture has been shown to turn off pro-inflammatory cells known as M1 macrophages and it activates anti-inflammatory M2 macrophages at the same time. These create an immune response which in turn reduce pain and swelling.

It also works by stimulating the pituitary and hypothalamus glands which control many functions in the body and affects the neurotransmitters and neurohormones, thereby changing the chemistry of the brain.

A Sept 2017 article in The Guardian reported on a study done at Massachusetts General Hospital in conjunction with Harvard Medical school where brain scans were used during clinical trials with acupuncture and fake treatments. The patients receiving true acupuncture showed more opioid receptors activated in the brain and had lasting results three months later.

Acupuncture has been approved by the National Institute of Health for treating a wide variety of ailments including pain (joint, back, sciatic, tennis elbow, dental, neck), injuries, arthritis, asthma, digestive issues, smoking cessation, headaches,  infertility, hormonal issues, depression, anxiety, labor pains, stroke, nausea, and opioid addiction to name a few.

Acupuncture’s benefits include many other health conditions including mental health issues such as anxiety and depression in as little as 8 weeks.

How Many Treatments of Acupuncture Are Needed?

Depending on whether a condition is acute or chronic the length of treatment varies. Often if a patient comes for an acute back spasm only 3 to 6 treatments are required. For long term issues due to stress or more constitutional imbalances such as digestive or menstrual issues treatments are needed for a few weeks or even months in order to bring the body back to balance and keep it there. If the underlying stressor or cause is not removed then maintenance treatments are needed to keep things in balance.

There are no side effects of acupuncture thereby making it an excellent choice for many health issues and as part of a preventive maintenance program.  

 

About Donna Bunte: Donna Bunte has practiced Chinese medicine, acupuncture and nutrition for over twenty years. She’s held private practices in NYC and Greenwich, CT, and has joined Blum Center for Health as our in-house acupuncturist. To book an appointment with Donna contact 914-652-7800.  

 

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The 5-Day Fasting Cycling Diet

How to adopt strategies from the new science of fasting so that you can decrease your risk of disease and optimize your weight.

Studies have shown that by following a very low-calorie food plan with very specific nutritional rules — a 5-Day Fasting Cycle — repeated every month for 3 months in a row, can help you achieve lasting weight loss, a boosted metabolism and improved blood markers of disease and aging.

Fasting is defined as an absence of food for a specific period of time that stimulates a regenerative state of health in one’s body without intentionally inflicting harm.  Our program tricks your body into responding as if it were fasting, providing all the great health benefits without actually starving yourself!

Research has shown substantial  benefits to following the principles of the Fasting Mimicking Diet:

  • Extended Lifespan and reduced cellular aging
  • Loss of abdominal fat without loss to muscle mass
  • Reduced desire to overeat or eat sugar
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Drop in loss of bone mineral density
  • Improvement in cognitive state
  • Reduced risk of developing disease
  • Improved gut health
  • Enhances the body’s innate ability to function optimally to regenerate at the cellular level, detoxify environmental toxins, and metabolize nutrients.

It is well known that calorie restriction or changes in dietary composition can enhance healthy aging. The trick was for researchers to figure out HOW to help people implement calorie restriction in a way that is sustainable.  

Here are a few key studies demonstrating how and why these programs work.  They are all published by Valter Longo, PhD, the researcher who has led the way and created a fasting program that produces these medical benefits.  

  • “Fasting-mimicking diet and markers/risk factors for aging, diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease”.  Published in 2017, this research triggered a huge buzz in the functional medicine and nutrition community because it was the first to show the results of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD)—low in calories, sugars, and protein but high in unsaturated fats—on markers/risk factors associated with aging and age-related diseases. They compared subjects who followed 3 months of an unrestricted diet to subjects who consumed the FMD for 5 consecutive days per month for 3 months. They found that three FMD cycles reduced body weight, trunk, and total body fat; lowered blood pressure; and decreased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).  (Wei et al., Sci. Transl. Med. 9, 8700 (2017))
  • “Dietary Restrictions and Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease”.  In this article, Dr Longo discusses how intermittent and periodic fasting interventions can help prevent and treat CVD. (Circ Res. 2019;124:952-965.
  • Fasting-Mimicking Diet Modulates Microbiota and Promotes Intestinal Regeneration to Reduce Inflammatory Bowel Disease Pathology. This study showed that cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) reduced intestinal inflammation, increased intestinal regeneration, and stimulated the growth of protective gut microbial populations in a mouse model displaying symptoms and pathology associated with IBD. They also show that a similar FMD is safe, feasible, and effective in reducing systemic inflammation and the consequent high levels of immune cells in humans. (Rangan et al., 2019, Cell Reports 26, 2704–2719).
  • Cancer:  FMDs can reduce cancer incidence and aging-associated immunosuppression/ immunosenescence, a process aided by hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration (Brandhorst et al., 2015; Cheng et al., 2014)
  • Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes:  FMD cycles ameliorate or reverse disease progression in mouse models of multiple sclerosis (MS), and type I, and type II diabetes (Choi et al., 2016; Cheng et al., 2017).

PUTTING THE FASTING CYCLING DIET INTO PRACTICE

Whether you want to lose weight or need to treat a health issue, it is clear that this strategy helps everyone.  The definition of health isn’t simply the absence of disease; it is optimal functioning throughout your lifespan.  Using intermittent fasting as a strategy is a proven strategy and a practice that can be built into every day lifestyle goals.  

To do this, with the help of Keri Lynn MacElhinney (our Nutritionist at Blum Center for Health), we built our NEW, signature weight loss program around this central core concept and created the Blum Alternate Fasting Diet (AFD).

For our Blum AFD, we combine the principles of anti-inflammatory plant-forward eating with intermittent fasting and low calorie 5-Day Fasting Cycles, creating  a whole-foods, sustainable program that promotes healthy weight loss, and improves  metabolism and markers for disease — all while eating delicious food that supports the gut microbiome and the removal of environmental toxins that store in your fat cells preventing weight loss.

Our Blum Alternate Fasting Diet, features a 3-month guided weight loss program that includes one 5-Day Fasting Cycle per month.  

We provide all the information you need to follow this yourself, but to make it easy and convenient, we have teamed up with Organic Pharmer to create a fixed 5-day menu that follows the nutritional guidelines and provides a delicious and satisfying whole foods, ready-to-go option for the 5-Day Fasting Cycle part of the program. (LINK)   

There is also a supplement company that created packaged foods for you to eat during the 5-Day Fasting Cycle and you can read about them HERE.  

DO IT WITH US!

We will be offering our Blum Alternate Fasting Diet as a group program for the first time at Blum Center for Health, starting June 3.  I will be teaching the first class and would love to have you join us! LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROGRAM HERE

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Don’t Make These Mistakes During a Detox

Detoxifying your body at least once a year is a must-do.

You live in a world filled with toxins: With over 8,000 chemicals in circulation in the environment, you need to protect your body by boosting the detoxification and removal of these damaging compounds. Otherwise, your liver’s detox pathways get jammed, become overburdened, and the toxins can accumulate in your  tissues and fat cells. You may not even realize that this accumulation is making you feel crappy!

Clearing toxins out of your body is critical for preventing illness and reversing chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

But, here’s the thing: You have to do it right to reap the benefits.

That’s why we run our popular online group coaching program, 14-Day Whole Life Detox, every spring! And this year I have a special surprise: Dr. Blum will be leading our first session online LIVE! That’s right, I will be co-teaching with Dr. Blum. Get more info here.

7 Mistakes to Avoid to Get the Most out of your Detox

Eat Enough FoodA real detox — a medically-sound, healthy, safe detox — reduces your body’s toxic load with targeted nutrients to help your liver effectively do its job. A proper detox includes real whole foods. Detoxification does not include starvation!

Skip the Juices — A low-sugar juice, made primarily of green vegetables, every day is fine, but a proper detox is not a “juice cleanse.” Too high in sugar, many juices, particularly made with fruit, create spikes in your blood sugar and often result in an energy crash that comes from too much sugar and too little fiber.

Use the Correct Supplements — A medically-sound detox is very different than a colon cleanse that you pick up at your local natural foods market. A colon cleanse does just that — makes you poop, which is necessary to eliminate toxins. But proper detox supplements do much more. They help support the detoxification process in your liver, which then helps clear the toxins from your body.  Proper detox support also provides the right kind of fiber to bind toxins in your stool — a very necessary step for elimination.

Avoid “Healthy” Packaged Foods — Skip the majority of gluten-free crackers and breads, for instance. While the marketing on the package may make it sound like a great choice — Gluten-free! Dairy-free! High protein! — most of those claims hide the bad stuff that you find on the nutrition label. Look for whole foods in the ingredients, and make sure the product is low in sugar, and high in fiber. Recently I saw a gluten-free bread with potato starch as the first ingredient. Honestly, would you eat potato starch by the spoonful?

Set Aside Some Down Time Every Day — Our lives are rush, rush, rush. Our stress hormones keep pace. Stress is toxifying, and adds to your toxic burden. While you’re detoxifying your body, it’s essential to give your body a break to do this heaving lifting. It’s a good time to add some meditation, an epsom salts bath or a walk in the woods to your day. Breathe, your body depends on it.

Be Sure to Sweat — Toxins escape your body in three ways — through your bowel movements, your urine, and your sweat. Aerobic exercise, sauna and steam rooms are all ways you can turn up the heat. Aerobic exercise, in particular, increases the blood flowing through your body, releasing toxins through your sweat, and encourages detoxification by bringing more oxygen to your tissues.

Reintroduce the Foods You Eliminated One-by-One — If you jump right back into your “pre-detox” ways, well, you will be right back at Square One. Add one food back at a time over the course of 3 days. The most successful people keep a written log of their symptoms when reintroducing foods. It might be the most overlooked part of detoxifying — nearly everyone who does a detox, comes off without making the changes their body is telegraphing it needs.

 

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. To learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at Blum Center for Health, click here.

 

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The Best Key Lime Pie Ever (Paleo and Elimination Diet Friendly)

Whether you are following a special food plan, or just love dessert, you’ve got to try this Key Lime Pie recipe. It suits all kinds of diets — Paleo! Gluten-free! Dairy-free! Egg-free! And it’s chock full of gut healthy ingredients, including my magic ingredient: avocado!

If you’ve never used avocado in baking, it’s creamy, and picks up the flavors of your ingredients. And here’s the magic: It doesn’t taste like avocado. Not even a little bit. Once you try this Key Lime Pie recipe, it will become one of your go-to desserts.

The Best Key Lime Pie Ever

One of my all time favorites!

For crust:

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

1 cup raw walnuts

¼ teaspoon sea salt

6 medjool dates, pitted

For filling:

1 ½ cups avocado (approximately 3)

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (~2 limes)

¾ cup raw honey

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

½ cup virgin coconut oil, melted

Zest of one lime

Fresh raspberries (optional)

 

Instructions:

For crust:

1)    To a food processor with an S blade, add coconut, walnuts and salt. Blend until finely ground.

2)    Add dates and mix until mixture combines but do not over process.

3)    Press mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate, set aside.

For the filling:

4)    In a food processor, add avocado, lime juice, honey and salt and blend.

5)    Add coconut oil and process until mixture is smooth.

6)    Spoon mixture into pie plate evenly and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Garnish with fresh raspberries if desired and serve cold.

 

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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6 Signs You Found the Right Detox!

Truth #1: The beauty industry and its celebrity trendsetters have corrupted “detox.”  They’ve led you to believe that you must starve yourself, advocating extreme, medically-unsound programs that promise weight loss, beautiful skin and liver detoxification. They’ve built a $5 billion industry through marketing, Instagram and bad nutrition.

Truth #2: A real detox — a medically-sound, healthy, safe detox — reduces your body’s toxic load with targeted nutrients to help your liver effectively do its job. A proper detox includes real food. Detoxification does not include starvation.

Why You Need to Detox

Clearing toxins out of your body is critical for preventing illness and reversing chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and cancer.

We live in a world filled with toxins: With over 8,000 chemicals in circulation in the environment, we need to detox. Otherwise, your liver pathways get jammed, become overburdened, and toxins can accumulate in tissues and fat cells. You may not realize that this accumulation is making you feel crappy!

It does not matter how vigilant you are, you are exposed to chemicals in your food, your water, your home, your clothes, your furniture, your cosmetics, your personal care products, and even the gas you put in your car.

Signs You Are Carrying a Toxic Load:

  • You have difficulty losing weight.
  • You constantly feel tired.
  • You experience achiness in your joints.
  • You experience brain fog.
  • You suffer with headaches.
  • You experience mood swings.
  • You feel heavy in your body and in your mind.

A good detox program can lead to a reversal of these symptoms, and protect you against disease.

That is why we offer our 14-Day Whole Life Detox at Blum Center for Health every spring! In-person only (don’t worry we will be offering an online class in June!) I will be co-teaching with Dr. Blum! That’s right, Dr. Blum is leading our first session. Live in the neighborhood? Get more info here >>> https://clients.mindbodyonline.com/asp/main_enroll.asp?fl=true&tabID=103.

Top 6 Reasons You Need to Detox

Remove toxins from the body — Toxins are stored throughout your body — in your fat, bones, tissues, cells and even your brain. Long-term exposure can affect your immune system (autoimmune disease, anyone?), metabolism (trouble losing weight, anyone?), behavior and mood (depression and anxiety, anyone?) and can lead to disease (hello, cancer).  

Improve immune system function — When your immune system is compromised, you are vulnerable to colds and flus, and perhaps most importantly, toxins can trigger autoimmune disease. A healthy immune system helps protect you from autoimmune conditions, and fortifies you against viral and bacterial infections.

Improve your health — Depression, anxiety, joint pain, sluggishness, sleep disorders, brain fog and the inability to lose weight can bring you down. You must reduce your toxic load to help your body function at its best.

Increase energy and promote mental clarity — You will experience an increase in energy, and an uplift in mental clarity. Many people report clearer thinking and the ability to deal with stressors more easily.

Lose weight — Detoxing helps rid the body of toxins stored in fat cells, and revs your metabolism to jumpstart weight loss.

Improve skin quality — This is one of the benefits the beauty industry has hung its hat on. But, beyond reducing acne, and giving skin a natural glow, detoxing with antioxidant rich foods reduces the toxins that promote premature aging. It can also help clear psoriasis and eczema.

 

If you live near Blum Center, consider joining Dr. Blum and me for our 14-Day Whole Life Detox Group Program, a healthy, safe jumpstart to reduce your toxic load, promote weight loss and bring balance back to your body. Dr. Blum kicks us off on Monday, April 29th at 6:30pm. Space is limited. Join Now

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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In Defense of Grains

If you’re reading this, you’ve likely been tuned into the integrative/functional health community for some time. And if you’ve suffered from an autoimmune condition, perhaps you’ve tried a Paleo (aka ancestral) or AIP (autoimmune protocol) diet, both of which eschew grains (and other whole foods).

Years before the popularity of these diets peaked, we’d been hit hard with the “low carb” craze. Carbohydrates come in many forms (grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables), but grains have gotten a particularly bad rap, primarily because a diet heavy in processed grains (flour-based products like conventional bread, crackers, muffins, etc.) can be kryptonite for blood sugar and inflammation management.

Indeed, for some, grains can cause brain fog, bloating, and digestive upset. I get it. But my feeling is that for many, the preexisting digestive imbalance is the reason for the intolerance, not the other way around. Until digestive function is optimized, many foods—not just whole grains—can cause issues.

I agree that, for some people, going grain-free can be helpful for managing autoimmunity. But I don’t believe that whole, gluten-free grains are categorically bad for everyone—even those looking to reverse their autoimmune condition.

Speaking of gluten, I do believe that it should be avoided, especially during a healing/immune modulatory phase. Gluten-containing grains include wheat (einkorn, durum, faro, graham, kamut, semolina, spelt), barley, rye, and triticale. Gluten-free grains include quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, buckwheat, and various types of rice.

The case against grains is that they contain the anti-nutrients phytic acid and lectin, along with enzyme-inhibitors that inhibit mineral absorption. Yet these “anti-nutrients” are also found in vegetables like beets and dark leafy greens. Should we avoid these nutrient-rich foods too?

Grains are naturally high in vitamins and minerals (B vitamins, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc, to name a few) and the key is to properly prepare them to release these nutrients. See below for more information.

It’s only in the past century or so that we’ve largely stepped away from the traditional practices of leavening/fermentation, soaking, and sprouting (germinating), which “pre-digests” grains. Additionally, Vitamin A inhibits the potentially negative effects of phytic acid.

When traditionally prepared, grains are much easier to digest, we’re able to absorb their nutrition, and they help us produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that brings about a sense of comfort and calm, which in itself is enough to consider whether grains should be avoided. In my work with “low carb refugees,” once these clients begin adding some complex carbs from whole grains (and other foods, especially starchy vegetables) back into their diets, the overall feedback is that they feel so much calmer and more grounded and centered. And they start sleeping better.

Dr. Susan Blum mentions quinoa, amaranth, millet, teff, buckwheat, various types of rice, and legumes in her book, The Immune System Recovery Plan, and incorporates these foods in several of her recipes. She calls them “foods to include.”

While being grain-free may be part and parcel of some of the popular diets today, it doesn’t mean it’s helpful or warranted for everyone. Moderate grain intake simply offers too many benefits—vitamins, minerals, and fiber and…calm and comfort in the form of serotonin production. So next time you’re inclined to take a “chill pill,” maybe reach for some millet instead.

The guide below was written by Lisa Markley, MS, RDN, and co-author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

Purchasing
When purchasing whole grains, select intact gluten-free grains, such as brown rice, quinoa, certified gluten-free whole oat groats, steel cut or rolled oats, buckwheat, millet, and amaranth. When possible, opt for these grains in their sprouted form; your store may carry some sprouted whole grain options such as brown rice, oats, and quinoa in the aisle where you’d find other packaged grains. According to the Whole Grains Council, sprouting increases the grain’s antioxidant activity as well as many of the grains’ key nutrients, such as B vitamins, Vitamin C, folate, fiber, and essential amino acids, such as lysine. You can cook dried sprouted grains the same way you would regular grains, but follow the package for specific instructions, as cooking time may be less in some instances.

Rinsing
Certain grains should be rinsed before cooking to remove dust or other debris and to yield the best flavor. These include millet, quinoa, and rice. Quinoa has a bitter coating on the outside called saponin that will negatively impact flavor if not rinsed. Rinse the grains by placing in a fine mesh strainer and rinsing with warm water.

Soaking
If you’re unable to purchase sprouted grains, it’s generally recommended to pre-soak grains to enhance digestibility and break down phytic acid.  With the exception of quick-cooking grains like quinoa, millet, amaranth and teff, soak in their measured amount of water in a glass measuring cup for 12-24 hours on your kitchen counter. Add 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar or lemon juice per 1 cup of liquid, if desired. When ready to cook, note the water level of the soaked grain, drain off the soaking water, add fresh water to the measure you noted, and simmer on stove with a pinch of salt for recommended cooking time (see “Cooking” below). Note that soaking some grains reduces their overall cooking time by a few minutes, but the cooking time for pre-soaked steel cut or rolled oats is reduced by about half.

Sprouting
If you’d like to try your hand at sprouting your own grains, it’s fairly simple:

  1. Measure approximately ½ cup of an intact, unmilled whole grain such as brown rice, forbidden black rice, quinoa, millet, or certified gluten-free oat groats, place in a bowl, and cover with water. Soak the grains for 8-12 hours.
  2. Drain and rinse thoroughly, then place soaked grains in the bottom of a quart-sized mason jar. Cover jar with cheesecloth and hold in place with a rubber band or the metal ring from a screw lid. They also sell special sprouting lids/screens that are handy for this.
  3. Invert jar over a bowl and keep at room temperature, but out of direct sun.
  4. Rinse and strain grains thoroughly twice daily, then re-invert over bowl.
  5. Repeat step 6 every day for 1 to 5 days. You’ll know the grains have sprouted once a tail appears. You can continue sprouting/germination until tail is the length of the original grain.
  6. Enjoy them fresh, sprinkled on salads. Store the sprouted grains in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Discard them if they begin to smell off or become slimy.
  7. The sprouted grains can also be dried by spreading evenly on a sheet pan and placing in at oven set to 150-200 for 8-12 hours. Or use a dehydrator, if you have one. Once the grains are dried thoroughly, you can store or cook as you would normal dried grains. They can also be ground into flour and used in baking.

Cooking
Place measured grain with water or stock and a pinch of sea salt in a pot, cover with a tight fitting lid, and bring to a boil. A 1-quart pot is best for cooking 1 cup of grain, a 2-quart pot for 2 cups of grain, and so on. Reduce heat and simmer for suggested cooking time, which will vary depending on grain. (See “Soaking” above about the reduction in cooking time for soaked grains.) Refrain from stirring the pot while the grains are cooking; this will disrupt the steam pockets that allow the top layer to cook as evenly as the bottom and cause some not to fully cook. To check if all of the water has been absorbed, simply tilt the pot to the side to see if there’s still water pooling at the bottom; if water is still present, continue to cook for a few additional minutes until it has all been absorbed.

Jill Grunewald, HNC, FMCHC, is the founder of Healthful Elements, an alopecia expert, and best selling author of The Essential Thyroid Cookbook.

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Superfood Salad with Lemon Almond Dressing

This cheerful salad makes for a perfect mid-day dish. It’s high in both protein and fiber to help keep you satisfied during the day and it offers a balance of flavors and textures that elevate a typical desk lunch into a refreshing and nutritious meal.

Superfood Salad with Lemon Almond Dressing

Serves 6-8

Base

1 cup French lentils
1 cup brown rice
1 ¾ cups vegetable broth
1 bunch curly kale
½ small red cabbage
1 bunch radishes
1 pomegranate
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 lemon

Lemony Almond Dressing

3 tablespoons almond butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅓ cup water
Juice of 1 large lemon
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 ½ teaspoon agave/maple syrup
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Procedure:

Prepare the brown rice by adding 1 cup brown rice, 1 ¾ cups vegetable broth, and ¼ teaspoon of salt to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 40-45 minutes or until cooked to a slight al dente.

In a separate saucepan, cook the lentils by adding 1 cup lentils, 2 cups water, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 30-35 minutes or until cooked to a slight al dente.

While the rice and lentils are cooking, prepare the kale by destemming and chopping into thin ribbons and adding to a large bowl. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, add a dash of salt and massage to soften the leaves. Set aside.

Remove outer layer of red cabbage and slice thinly. Add to bowl with kale and toss. Slice radishes thinly and add to the bowl and toss.

In a Vitamix, combine almond butter, olive oil, water, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, agave/maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, salt and cayenne. Blend on high until smooth. Add to the bowl of greens and toss.

To serve, squeeze juice of one lemon on top of the salad as well as a drizzle of olive oil and salt to taste. Garnish with chopped pecans and pomegranate seeds.

 

Live in our neighborhood? Registered Dietitian Shauna McQueen teaches nutritional wellness classes at Blum Center for Health focusing on creating dietary harmony and bringing nutrition science to life in the kitchen. To learn more about these classes, click here.

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Do You Feel Knotted-Up? Is Muscle Pain Holding You Back?

If you suffer from headaches or chronic pain in your neck, shoulders, muscles, or joints,  then you probably have KNOTS in your muscles that are either the cause of the pain or contributing to it.

Why Do Knots Form? Factors that may increase your risk!

  • Chronic Muscle Overuse (repetitive muscle stress, strain and injury)
  • Poor Posture
  • Lack of Exercise
  • Injury to Vertebral Discs
  • Chronic Medical Conditions
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Stress and Anxiety

Where Do These Knots Come From?  

Chronic stress, strain and injury to the myofascial tissue (the muscle fibers and the fibrous connective tissue – that cover the muscle) can form taut, bulb-like pockets. These appear as contracted myofascial knots, which cause the muscle to shorten and tighten. As a physician, I can often find the areas where there are knots just by pressing on them.  

But…NOT all Knots are the SAME!

What Kind of Knot Do You Have?

  • An acutely inflamed knot feels sore when pressed.  
  • A  chronically inflamed knot will begin to calcify, and is often described as a “rock” or “pebble.”
  • A trigger point knot leads to localized shooting pain when pressed. In other words, a knot in one muscle can create pain in another area. This is an important distinction, as trigger points can result in severe muscle spasm, limit your movement, and decrease strength.

What are the Symptoms?

Trigger point pain is often misleading and misdiagnosed as something more serious.
The trigger point can cause severe unpleasant and even debilitating pain with a referral pain pattern described as a shooting pain, tingling sensation, or numbness to adjacent areas.  The referral pain mimics the symptoms of other common conditions such as a pinched spinal nerve; “sciatica” or peripheral neuropathy (peripheral nerve problem).

Here is a good example.

Acute strain or stress to trigger point(s) of the muscles of the shoulder, neck and face are a well known source of headaches and migraine symptoms. One common trigger point in this area is located at the top of your shoulder, in the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, which can refer pain to the neck and head. Trigger points can also occur in the low back and in extremities.

To complicate matters, the trigger point might develop secondary to an underlying joint, spinal disc or peripheral nerve problem. Even if the primary problem is treated, you may continue to suffer with pain, if the trigger point was not identified as an contributing problem.

This may lead to unintended consequences like prolong pain and chronic use of pain medications, with an increased risk of medication related side effects. The best-case scenario is to determine whether the trigger point is the primary or secondary cause of your pain problem with a trigger point injection.  

If you have struggled with chronic, unexplained aches and pains that seemingly have no cause, read on because there’s good news…

There is something you can do to help relieve your pain.  

Doctors like me who specialize in Pain Management and Physiatry, can “release” these knots by injecting different kinds of fluids into them, and can immediately relieve the pain and muscle tightness created by the trigger point. This simple procedure is called a “trigger point injection”.

What Exactly are Trigger Point Injections?

A trigger point injection is a routine office procedure involving an injection (usually a local anesthetic or normal saline) at the the trigger point (myofascial knot) site. The local anesthetic will numb the area, provided symptomatic pain relief, and decrease the muscle spasm.

As part of our Integrative Medicine approach, we also use Homeopathic injectables like Traumeel and Zeel for additional anti-inflammatory and healing benefits.  

Top 5 Benefits of Trigger Point Injection Therapy

1. Improved Headaches
2. Immediate Pain Relief
3. Improved Range of Motion
4. Improved Flexibility
5. Improved Posture

Are Trigger Point Injections Right for You?

  • If you have pain, reduced range of motion, or any physical issue that’s preventing you from  sleeping at night, exercising, or reaching your optimal performance, a trigger point injection might be for you.
  • It is used to both diagnose and treat the source of the issue.
  • As a diagnostic tool, it helps us know if muscle spasm, muscle cramp or muscle aches are in fact the root of your problem.
  • As a therapeutic tool, trigger point injections provide pain relief, help you move more easily with increased range of motion, and improves your tolerance of physical activity and exercise.

Other Treatment Options

In addition Trigger Point Injections, physical therapy, massage, manipulative therapy (osteopathy and chiropractic), and acupuncture are also good ways to treat trigger points, especially in the early stages of trigger point formation. However, for chronic trigger points, trigger point injection is the most effective treatment.

Advanced Trigger Point Intervention

Depending on the location of the trigger point, the injection can often be done by palpating it directly during a physical exam. At Blum Center, we also perform Musculoskeletal Ultrasound-Guided trigger point injection for hard to treat areas, especially calcified trigger points. Trigger point injections have been shown to provide significant pain relief and improvement of functional mobility.

Live in our neighborhood? Want to know if you are a good candidate for trigger point injections?   Make a Trigger Point Evaluation appointment with me! Call Blum Center for Health at 914-652-7800 to get on my schedule and relieve your pain.

 

Meet Dr. Aligene:  Dr. Kathy Aligene is Double-Board Certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation (Physiatry) and Interventional Anesthesiology Pain Management. She completed her medical residency and ACGME-accredited Fellowship training at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where she served as Chief Resident. 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.  

She is recognized as a local and national leader in her field, an innovative physician in the field of Integrative Pain and Regenerative Medicine. She recently recognized as New York 2018 and 2019 SuperDoctors.

 

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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.