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Common Probiotic Myths Debunked

The amount of information found online about probiotics can be mind boggling. Search “should I take probiotics,” for instance, and you’ll likely close your browser none the wiser. There’s a lot of credible information, and there’s equally loads of erroneous information, including “experts” who have extrapolated data from research studies and made umbrella statements that are just plain … wrong.

For instance, many people believe that probiotics are like seeds that plant themselves in the gut and that they are supposed to grow and flourish. In fact, studies show that most probiotics pass through our digestive tract in about 6 weeks. Bloggers, experts and the media picked up this information and, suddenly, a buzz was created that probiotics were useless. This is not true!

Here’s what we know: 

Over 100 trillion microbes live in your digestive tract. Most of them are “good” bacteria, but there’s always some “bad” bacteria that live in your gut ecosystem (like weeds in your inner garden), always looking for an opportunity to overgrow and cause an imbalance. 

There are about 500 different strains of these microbes (estimates range from 300-1000) and when you take probiotics, you are ingesting just a few of the strains that have been well studied and found to be beneficial to your health.  You can eat probiotic foods, such as cultured (yogurt) food or fermented vegetables (kimchi, sauerkraut), or you can take a probiotic supplement, with many different types that vary by the dose and the number of strains that they contain. 

What’s most important is that you think about probiotics as influencers on your gut ecosystem.  While you take them, they are exerting a tremendous influence without needing them to “plant and grow”.  Here’s what we know.

How Probiotics Help You

GUT

Many studies have shown that taking probiotics can alleviate myriad gastrointestinal symptoms, including reducing bloat, gas, diarrhea, and constipation.  While the exact mechanism for how they do this has still to be completely worked out, we do know that probiotics help improve the overall balance of the good:bad bacteria, and help heal the intestinal lining.  This really matters because a damaged microbiome can give rise to many chronic health conditions, including inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, mental health issues, obesity, increased infections and lowered resistance to viruses. 

Here’s the good news:  If you have a “leaky”gut (increased permeability of the digestive tract lining), or dysbiosis (too many bad bacteria), probiotic supplements can help restore your gut barrier as they are passing through.  They can also help improve the number and function of your own good gut bacteria, and inhibit the growth of the “bad” bacteria. This ability to influence the overall health and functioning of your gut highlights why taking probiotics helps so many people, and why probiotic foods have been around for hundreds of years in many different cultures around the world.  Pretty important stuff, right?

INFLAMMATION

Probiotics also play a huge role in helping treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and immune system imbalances like autoimmune disease. Think of any condition with -itis at the end — gastritis, colitis, bursitis, diverticulitis, rhinitis, dermatitis — these are all inflammatory conditions. Many of these conditions are related to a damaged microbiome, and leaky gut, where microbes and toxins are leaking through the digestive tract lining into the bloodstream. Yeah, not good, as this triggers a system-wide immune response … inflammation. 

Susan Blum, MD, reports in her latest book, Healing Arthritis, that researchers have studied the use of probiotic supplements to treat the dysbiosis (overgrowth of “bad” bacteria) 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 own 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!  

Probiotics help reduce inflammation by helping the immune system block pro-inflammatory responses that trigger inflammation over time. In other words, probiotics are a must for any one who has an inflammatory condition, and are beneficial for anyone trying to keep inflammation at bay. 

IMMUNITY

Did you know that the majority of your immune system resides in your gut? In fact, about 80% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract. With your gut playing such an important role in your body’s ability to defend itself against infection, it’s imperative that your gut microbiome be in tip-top shape. 

Your immune system has an innate response and an adaptive response. Innate immunity is an immediate inflammatory response — a signal that your body needs to defend itself from an invader, such as an allergen. Adaptive immunity takes longer to come to fruition. It is the body’s way of developing antibodies to pathogens — for example this is the way a vaccination works. When you consume probiotics, you are directly tuning up your gut-immune system, because the probiotics “talk” to your immune cells as they are passing through.  This is like arming your gut to protect you from foreign invaders!

CHOLESTEROL

Studies show that certain probiotics, particularly Lactobacilli, can help reduce cholesterol. They do this by preventing cholesterol from being absorbed, as well by helping to break it down. Evidently, probiotics can bind with cholesterol in the intestines to block it from being absorbed, and they also influence the metabolism of bile acids, which then affects the way that your body metabolizes fat and cholesterol.

MENTAL HEALTH

You’ve likely heard of the Gut-Brain Axis — meaning that neurotransmitters not only reside in your brain, but also live in your gut, and they communicate with one another. Take care of your gut, and you take care of your brain.

In fact, researchers recently found that probiotics improved psychiatric disorder-related behaviors including anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and memory abilities, including spatial and non-spatial memory.

Probiotics help your mood and your functioning? Pardon the pun, but this is a no-brainer.

ANTIBIOTICS

Probiotics can also help offset the bacterial imbalance caused by taking antibiotics. Antibiotics kill good bacteria along with the harmful ones, often leading to gas, cramping or diarrhea. These side effects often drive patients to the pharmacy in search of an appropriate probiotic.

What’s perhaps more important, and lesser known, is that frequent or extended use of antibiotics can lead to leaky gut and is implicated as an underlying root cause of autoimmune disease. 

Research demonstrates that probiotics strains can act as adjuncts to antibiotic therapy by reducing side effects, protecting the digestive tract lining from leaky gut and they can actually improve antibiotic function.

ORAL HEALTH

Flossing and brushing aren’t the only ways to care for your mouth. Emerging research is demonstrating that the microbiome of the mouth benefits from probiotics. From preventing plaque to fighting bad breath and reducing gingivitis, and even to preventing oral cancer, probiotics are proving to be good for the mouth, too! Pucker up with confidence!

SKIN

Who doesn’t want clear skin? People predisposed to skin conditions, such as acne, eczema or rosacea, tend to flare when their gut microbiome is out of balance. It is well documented that probiotics help prevent and treat skin diseases including eczema, atopic dermatitis, acne, allergic inflammation, skin hypersensitivity, wound protection and even UV-induced skin damage.

Which Probiotic Strains to Take

Look at probiotics and you might be wondering, “How the heck do I know which one to choose?” Great question. 

General recommendations call for ingesting 1 to 25 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) daily. To put these guidelines into perspective, most store-bought probiotic yogurts only contain about 1 billion CFUs per serving. 

We are now learning that perhaps different strains are effective for different health issues, but research has a long way to go until we can choose a specific strain for a specific condition.  Case in point: Studies performed in inflammatory bowel disease suggest that high doses of combinations of different probiotic strains are more effective in decreasing inflammation and maintaining patients in remission than a single probiotic strain. This is one of the reasons that we always recommend multi strain formulas.  

For this reason at Blum Center for Health we recommend 25 billion CFUs to best support your gut microbiome. Ours is a hypoallergenic blend of 12 certified probiotic species — a complete spectrum of microorganisms. And, it’s on sale right now!  Learn More Here

Ready to improve your gut and improve your health? A probiotic is a great place to start.

 

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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10 Ways to Influence Autoimmune Recovery

Truth #1: It is possible to reverse your autoimmune condition.

Truth #2: There is no one way to get there — everyone is unique. What works for me may not work for you. And, what works for you may not work for me. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Truth #3: There a multitude of core principles at play and finding your right mix is critical to reversing your condition. 

Truth #4: There is one key to this entire process that no one mentions. Stick with me and I will share it with you.

For the past 3 years I’ve had the privilege of working side-by-side with Dr. Susan Blum, one of the foremost authorities on autoimmunity. I work with patients at Blum Center for Health and with individuals through our CoachMe online platform, to implement the four steps of Dr. Blum’s international bestselling book, The Immune System Recovery Plan.

Two years ago we created the Immune Recovery Challenge — an online program that allows people from all over the world to learn directly from Dr. Blum in a LIVE group setting. It only happens once a year, and it’s coming up soon! Learn More

From working with hundreds and hundreds of people, I can tell you this: The Four Steps Work!

You might be wondering, “What are the four steps?”  They are: 1) Food as Medicine 2) Learning to Relax 3) Healing the Gut and 4) Supporting the Liver

Within those steps there’s a lot to learn, and it’s within those steps that things get personal. Here’s where YOU come into the equation. If you’ve been struggling with an autoimmune condition and autoimmune recovery, look at little deeper — look within the steps.

10 Ways to Influence Autoimmune Recovery

Eating the Right Foods — You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Food is Medicine.” Indeed it is! And, it can also be your poison. The first step to relieving symptoms, and getting a grip on which foods are right for you, is to do an autoimmune elimination diet. This is not only therapeutic, but it is also diagnostic. When done properly you walk away with a personalized nutrition plan.  How does this differ from person to person? Someone with an autoimmune arthritis, for example, may need to remove nightshades. Someone who is struggling with digestive distress may need to consider high lectin foods that might be exacerbating symptoms. The great news is, that once this short-term food plan is complete many people successfully reintroduce favorite foods back into their diet.

Healing your Gut — About 70% of your immune system lives in your digestive tract!  Nearly everyone who suffers with an autoimmune condition needs to heal their gut. Think of your gut as a garden with trillions of good bacteria, and includes hundreds of different species. Pretty cool, right? But when all those beautiful good bacteria get infiltrated with bad bacteria, yeast or parasites, the good bacteria get crowded out. And that, right there, can compromise the integrity of your digestive tract lining, creating minuscule breaks in the barrier where food leaks into the bloodstream. This is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Healing your gut is a CRITICAL component to healing your autoimmune condition.  And the amount of gut damage is different from one autoimmune person to another, and thus the treatment and focus will need to be different, too. 

Supporting your Liver — We live in a world filled with toxins that can trigger autoimmune disease and harm the immune system. These include pesticides/herbicides, hormones and plastics in food and water, solvents and mold in our homes and heavy metals in the fish we eat and water we drink. Others can come from cosmetics and products we use at home. At Blum Center for Health, we also believe that some relationships, home and work environments and thoughts can be toxic and have a negative impact on the body. We highly recommend detoxing at least once a year. This is another place where things get personal – your toxin exposure is going to be different than everyone else’s, and how much detox you need will be different, too. 

Taking the Right Supplements — Targeted supplements facilitate healing, reduce inflammation, heal the gut, and remove toxins. It’s important to use medical grade supplements that do not contain fillers, preservatives, additives, gluten, dairy, soy or corn. You’ve got to check labels carefully. You could very well be putting something in your body that’s contributing to your autoimmune condition!  

Learning to Relax — Stress, even low grade stress (you know, they kind we wave away, like having to make lunch everyday for your kids to take to school) fuel the fire of autoimmunity. Even good stress, like getting ready to go on vacation, can cause a flare. Many people will get on board with the food plan, and start taking the appropriate supplements, but have a hard time implementing a stress reduction process. This may very well be the most difficult part of an autoimmune program. And this is where coaching can make all the difference in the world. In a world that’s built on distraction and endless motion it can be difficult and uncomfortable to be quiet with oneself. 

Implementing Exercise When You Don’t Feel Well — Exercise is one of those “loops”— you don’t feel well so you don’t exercise (don’t worry, I feel the same) and when you don’t exercise you don’t get its anti-inflammatory benefits. Drop all the ideals you have about exercise: the person running on a treadmill, the women pushing weights at the gym, the man doing headstands in a yoga class, the people doing hardcore spin. You don’t have to go to the gym! You don’t have to run on a treadmill! You don’t have to do weights! You just have to start with moving. Start slow. Start low. Start with something you enjoy. Just start.

Getting enough Sleep — The research is clear: Lack of sleep or poor sleep impacts just about every system in your body, and increases inflammation. It increases your risk of autoimmunity and if you already have an autoimmune condition it impedes your ability to heal it. And by the way, lack of proper sleep drives sugar cravings and carb cravings, which makes it nearly impossible to stick to a healthy, anti-inflammatory food plan!

Learning to Say No — This is not scientific, but this is my observation in working with hundreds and hundreds of women: You can heal your autoimmune condition by holding your boundaries firm. No more giving away your time, no more saying yes to things that don’t serve you. Taking care of yourself means saying no. Or in other words, when you say no, you give yourself the space you need to heal. Want to read more on this subject? Check out 8 Reasons All Women Need Non-Negotiable Self-Care

Understanding Hidden Infections: Doing everything and still symptomatic? You may need additional testing. Functional medicine will help you get to the root of the problem.

AND FINALLY:  

The KEY that I promised you – CONSISTENCY:  

Yes, consistency! Taking imperfect action daily. Notice I said “imperfect.” We’re not trying to be perfect. In fact, it’s impossible to be perfect. It’s not all or nothing. When someone starts something new, they often give up. If they can’t do it “right,” they don’t do it at all. (Think New Year’s Eve resolutions. Done by February 1st!) You can be consistent. You can even learn to be consistent if it’s eluded you in the past. It’s all about figuring out your personal plan … a combination of what you need right now and the baby steps you need to get there. 

And, this is where it’s important to have a coach or a coaching program so that you’re not figuring it all out alone.

Are you ready to begin reversing your autoimmune condition? Join Dr. Blum and me for the Immune Recovery Challenge — a step-by-step companion to Dr. Blum’s bestselling book, The Immune System Recovery Plan. During the course, you will follow the 4-Step Immune System Recovery Plan together with Dr. Blum, using video and live coaching to help you personalize it just for what you need. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn from Dr. Blum in a group setting. 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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Is Your Cell Phone Sabotaging your Health?

Chances are you check your cell phone for messages, alerts, or calls even when your device isn’t ringing or vibrating. You probably sleep with your phone next to your bed to be sure you don’t miss any calls, text messages, or other updates during the night. And you likely feel lost without your cell phone, reports a Pew Internet & American Life survey.

In fact, the average cell phone user checks their phone 110 times a day, with the highest users hitting the 900 mark, says Locket, an Android app that has collected data on over 150,000 users.

Yes, we are addicted to cell phones.

And the cost of this addiction to our personal well-being is substantial. The tethering to our cell phones interferes with our mental health, physical health and even our relationships.

  • The constant barrage of notifications increases our stress level, likely contributing to high blood pressure, headaches, eye strain, and anxiety.
  • The anticipation of messages keeps us constantly checking our phones and creates anxiety.
  • Cell phone use interferes with human relationships. Studies show that in face-to-face interactions a phone present made the other person think negatively about the cell phone holder. 
  • The incessant connection to one’s phone makes us less inclined to participate in conversation with those around us. We become less aware.
  • Our dependence on our phones as entertainment is a constant source of distraction, making it difficult to be with oneself in a quiet, still, disconnected space.
  • When we don’t have our phones we become bored, antsy and depressed.

Clients often tell me they want to feel less controlled by their phones. They want to take back their peace and quiet. 

The key? Baby steps and commitment.

8 Ways To Kick Your Cell Phone Addiction

Make No Cell-Phone Zones — Make a pact with other members of your household no cell phones at the table. Ever. Live alone? Put down the electronics, set the table, light a candle and enjoy your meal. You will taste your food, remember what you ate, and be more aware of how much you’re eating.

Bring On The Zen — Introduce meditation, yoga, tai chi or one of the other meditative practices into your daily routine — even if it’s for only 10 minutes it will slow you down, bring your awareness back to your body and reap a myriad of health benefits, including better concentration, lower blood pressure, reduced stress, better mood and better sleep.

Home From Work? Just Say “No” — Implement limits and boundaries in relation to work-related email and messages. Just because someone sends you an email at 10pm in the evening does not mean you have to answer it. When you answer emails you set the precedent that you are available. When does your work day end? You decide: “I will not answer any work-related emails after 7pm in the evening or on the weekends.” And then stick to it. If the mere thought of that makes you anxious create an auto-responder letting people know you will answer their email first thing in the morning.

Blackout Periods — Schedule “No Cell-Phone” Periods during your day. Start small — even 10 minutes. Put it on your calendar (or set an alarm) and disconnect for that time. After a week increase the time, or add another Black Out period to your day. Week by week increase the time until you are able to disconnect for several hours a day.

No Fly Zone — When you travel for holiday set your phone to “no data roaming” so that you only receive messages when you are connected with Wifi.  This will limit the amount of new communication that is coming your way and provide a more peaceful journey.

Your Boots Are Made For Walking — Take a walk and leave your phone at home. Look up, look down, pay attention to your surroundings. Taking a walk is a great way to boost your mood, find solutions to challenges, and increase productivity.

Engage With The World — Make a decision to not use your phone in the presence of others. Pay attention to your conversations, make eye contact and give 100% to the other person/s you are with.

Sleep It Off — Do not use your cell phone as an alarm clock. Leave it outside your room. You might consider implementing a sleep routine to help you wean — reading, or listening to music.

Put down your cell phone? The answer is clear. Just say “yes.”

Do you find that you start a new habit but get derailed? Consider private coaching! I help people attain their goals by unraveling those self-sabotaging behaviors that get in the way. Let’s play! I’ll help you create new habits that lead to long-term change. Get what you want. Finally. Check out CoachMe

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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Start Your Day with a Taste of the Tropics Smoothie

Start your day with a smoothie that will make you smile! This colorful and refreshing pineapple kale smoothie is a great way to add greens into your breakfast routine with a taste of the tropics.  Kale has detoxifying benefits for the liver and pineapple is loaded with digestive enzymes that are good for the stomach. The coconut oil provides your body with healthy fats and a flavor that instantly transports you to a tropical island getaway.  A VitaMix-type blender is the best blender to achieve a smooth consistency. There’s happiness in every sip!

Wondering how to pick a ripe pineapple?

It’s pretty easy, actually. Just follow these three steps and you’ll be choosing perfectly sweet, slightly tangy pineapples: 

Check the color — The exterior of a pineapple changes from green to yellow as it ripens. The more yellow the exterior, the more ripe the fruit. Once it starts to turn an orangish color, it’s gone too far. 

Give it a gentle squeeze — A ripe pineapple will “give” a little bit when you squeeze it. If it’s hard, leave it at the grocery store!

Smell it — If it passes your color and squeeze test, sniff the base of the pineapple. If it smells sweet and fruity, you’re good to go. If it smells funky, or like vinegar, it’s past its prime.

Pineapple Kale Smoothie

Ingredients

  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ cup seeded and diced cucumber
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup loosely packed kale, washed, stemmed and chopped
  • ½ tsp lime juice

Preparation

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Serves 1-2.

Serving Size: 1 cup

ENJOY!

 

Do you find that you start eating healthy but get derailed? Consider private coaching! I help people attain their goals by unraveling those self-sabotaging behaviors that get in the way. Let’s play! I’ll help you create new habits that lead to long-term change. Get what you want. Finally. Check out CoachMe

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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Blueberry Lime Margarita Anyone? It’s our New Summer Go-To!

It’s so easy to overindulge in alcoholic drinks in the summer. Who doesn’t love cocktails with friends when it’s balmy outside and light well into the evening. This summer, why not drink to your health? It’s easy to reduce your alcohol consumption by discovering a fav mocktail. Put it in your favorite cocktail glass, add a garnish, and voila, you will have a satisfying non-alcoholic drink. 

Try our Blueberry-Lime Margarita — it’s a breeze to make!  It will give your body ample potassium to help manage fluid and energy balance and loads of health supportive antioxidants-all without the excessive calories and refined carbohydrate of traditional margaritas. The unbelievable flavor will easily satisfy any summer fruity drink craving, too. Cheers!

While we are on the topic of cocktails, here’s a common question: It’s summer and I really want a cocktail, will having one ruin all my hard work? Find out here. 

Blueberry Lime Margarita

Servings: 4

Ingredients

4 cups ice

 2 cups organic frozen blueberries

1/2 cup organic unsweetened pomegranate juice

1/2 cup seltzer

1/2 cup fresh organic lime juice

4 organic lime wedges, for garnish

sea salt, for garnish (optional)

 

Preparation:

  •  In a blender, place the ice, blueberries, juice, seltzer, and lime juice
  • Blend until smooth
  • If salting the rim of the margarita glasses, rub a lime wedge around the 
  • rims of 4 glasses.  
  • Dip rims lightly in sea salt
  • Pour Margarita into glasses and place lime wedges on the rim of 
  • the glasses
  • Serve and enjoy! 

 

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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It’s Summer! Which cocktail is best for me?

Here’s a common question: It’s summer and I really want a cocktail, will having one ruin all my hard work?

Ahh, summertime … cocktail parties, bbq’s, dinner alfresco, family gatherings, rooftop parties … add a little heat, add the celebratory nature of being outside and you’ve got the perfect recipe for cocktail time.

Whether you’ve got a hankering for gin, vodka or tequila, there are a few things you should know.

The good news: If you’re in good health, and at low risk for cancer, then alcohol in moderation is likely okay. What is moderation? A few social drinks a week. There’s no need to drink every day, afterall, plan for them — wait for the rooftop get-together or the weekend summertime bash.

What you need to know about summer cocktails: 

Any amount of alcohol consumption of any kind, increases your risk for cancer. If you are concerned about cancer because you have a strong family history, or you have had cancer yourself, you should not drink. Period. Does this mean that an occasional glass of wine or cocktail will hurt you? Probably not. But chronic daily consumption, or drinking several days every week, is not a good idea.

Alcohol stresses your liver. Alcohol is viewed as a toxin by the body and needs to be processed in the liver just like mercury, pesticides, plastics and everything else you are exposed to in the environment. If you have known issues with your liver, other toxin exposure like mold or heavy metals or pesticides that are causing issues with your health, you shouldn’t drink, or only consume alcohol on occasion. If you have multiple chemical sensitivities, such as you can’t tolerate smells like perfume or cigarette smoke, this can be a sign that your liver is stressed with too many toxins.

TIP: Pad the lining of your stomach before drinking alcohol with healthy fats like nuts and seeds, avocado, or something made with olive oil or coconut oil.  This will slow the emptying time of the stomach so that alcohol will be absorbed slowly into the body, allowing you to excrete it more easily and then resulting in less accumulation of toxins.

Alcoholic beverages are high in sugar. If you have diabetes, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, or are trying to lose weight, keep In mind that when you drink a glass of wine or a cocktail mixed with juice, you are consuming a glass of sugar. This can trigger cravings for bread and dessert and other high starch foods, and cause you to make poor food choices that undermine your healthy eating goals. 

TIP: Be sure to skip the mixers and choose low sugar options, such as a cocktail with club soda or fresh lime juice.

All alcoholic drinks are dehydrating. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning you might notice you’re running to the bathroom more often. Alcohol suppresses the hormone that regulates how much urine we produce. And, all the added trips to the bathroom strip water and electrolytes from the body. Even a small amount of alcohol can make you feel like you have a hangover.

TIP: Drink two glasses of water for every alcoholic drink you consume. Be sure to hydrate during the day as well. 

Better yet, give our delicious Blueberry Lime Margarita Mocktail a try. Put it in a beautiful glass with a spring of mint, and you won’t even miss the alcohol! Get the Recipe

 

Feeling like you’ve been having a little too much fun this summer — feeling bloated, heavy or out of control and need a quick, effective reset? Check out our HealMyGut Summer Reboot. Relief is on the way! Get Our Special Summer Reboot

 

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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Think You Can Create a New Habit in 21 Days? Bust the Myth!

Have you come across all the hype promising that habits can be created in 21 days? Who wouldn’t want to believe that we can experience a cosmic shift in only 21 days? It’s short enough to be inspiring and long enough to be believable.

Unfortunately it’s not true.

On average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.

In a study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, researchers examined the habits of 96 people over a 12-week period. Each person focused one new habit and reported each day on whether or not they did the behavior and how automatic the behavior felt.

Some people chose simple things like “drinking a bottle of water with lunch” while others chose more difficult tasks like “running for 15 minutes before dinner.” At the end of the 12 weeks, the researchers determined the length of time it took each person to go from implementing a new behavior to automatically doing it.

The researchers found that it takes anywhere from 18 to 254 days for people to form a new habit, depending on the habit they are creating, the person, and the circumstances.

This is great news! Why? Because how many times have you tried to start something new and after three weeks thought, “I’m such a failure” and fell right back into your old way of doing things?

The key to creating new habits is in the Why and the How. So let’s get to it!

How To Create Habits That Stick

Choose Only One New Habit At A Time! — It’s hard enough to create one new habit. Trying to take on several at a time is doomed to fail.

Be Specific About What You Want To Create — Saying “I want to take better care of my teeth” is too vague. But, saying “I want to floss my teeth daily” is specific.

Get Clear On Your “Why” — “Because I ‘should’” is not a compelling reason. But saying, “I want to floss my teeth to stave off bone loss and it is proven to be heart healthy” is a compelling “why.”

Create A “How” — This is important and is very personal. Make it easier to succeed by creating a plan that suits your lifestyle. For instance, saying, “I am going to floss every day” is forgettable. But saying, “I am going to floss every evening when I brush my teeth before bed” gives it framework.

Implement Strategies To Keep You On Track — Another critical, and personal, component to successful habit formation is creating strategies that will work specifically for you. Some of my clients use post-it notes or set alarms on their phones, for example.

Do It Daily — It takes consistency and diligence. The good news is a mess-up here and there is fine. Stay diligent and don’t let your old way override your new habit!

So … what new habit do you want to create?

 

Do you find that you start a new habit but get derailed? Consider private coaching! I help people attain their goals by unraveling those self-sabotaging behaviors that get in the way. Let’s play! I’ll help you create new habits that lead to long-term change. Get what you want. Finally. Check out CoachMe

 

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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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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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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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.