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The #1 Thing You Can Do For Your Immune System Starting Today

So, let’s be real … with COVID still sweeping through communities, you might be wondering what you can do to protect yourself as we move into the flu and cold season. Yes, very soon, we will be moving indoors with closed windows and that begs the question, “How will I keep myself safe?”

With over 70% of your immune system living in your digestive tract (yes, that’s true!), it makes sense that the food you eat is the first stop in empowering your immune system to fight infections and keep you healthy. 

There are foods that are particularly good at boosting immunity, but the reality is the first order of business is to use “food as medicine” to reduce inflammation. Often when I talk with people about “reducing inflammation” their eyes glass over. It’s not easy to grasp.

Inflammation. When it’s on the outside, like arthritis, we can see it.  When it’s on the inside we can’t see it. And often we can’t even feel it. (Although I’ve heard so many times, “I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to feel that way.”) But if you get sick often, if you’ve taken lots of antibiotics in your life, if you’ve had stress or trauma, or if you eat inflammatory foods (like sugar) or the Modern American Diet, you’ve likely experienced inflammation. In fact, you’re likely inflamed right now.

Inflammation is when your immune system or other cells in your body release irritating chemicals that cause irritation on the inside.  Remember this is a normal process because this is how your body fights infections or an injury, and the inflammation resolves once the infection or injury is over.  

However, if high levels of these inflammatory chemicals are released continuously (which can happen if you are eating a lot of SUGAR), the normal functioning of your cells can be interrupted, and healthy tissue gets damaged, including your immune system. This is not so good-especially since more and more studies link inflammation in the body to many serious illnesses and conditions.

To make sure your immune system is in tip top shape, which will protect you from foreign invaders like COVID-19, influenza and the common cold, it’s important to avoid processed foods and eat an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich diet, full of vegetables, fruits, cultured foods, healthy fats, planted-based proteins and minimal animal protein.  

If there’s only one diet change you choose to make it’s this: 

GET RID OF SUGAR TO REDUCE INFLAMMATION!

Sugar is inflammatory and suppresses your immune system. Sugar stimulates your immune cells to actively release inflammatory molecules that travel throughout your body causing damage and irritation. 

Avoid high glycemic foods like soda, white flour and processed sugar. When it comes to sugar, you always want to choose low-glycemic vs. high-glycemic foods. The glycemic index determines how quickly a particular food raises your blood sugar level. High blood sugar causes inflammation and damages your immune system, and puts you at risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Any food processed with white sugar or white flour is high-glycemic and should be eliminated. That means bagels, breads, breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies, crackers, candy, and soda.

Avoid an over-focus on carbohydrates as the main source of calories for the day. Make your plate for lunch and dinner half vegetables — that’s a great start. Natural, unprocessed foods, like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains provide health-promoting vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals — all good for your immune system. Use rice and other grains like condiments.

Read the labels of everything that comes in a package. Food manufacturers are sneaky. They often add sugar (and a lot of sugar) to foods that need very little sugar. Yeah, I know our panels are in grams. Definitely annoying, but here’s what you need to know: We recommend keeping your added sugars at about 24 grams. And, 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. So, if that granola bar you love has 24 grams of sugar — that’s six teaspoons (and your allotment for the day).

Here are some substitution suggestions for common high glycemic foods: 

Do you like soda, fruit juice, sweetened drinks? Drink filtered water, herbal teas, mineral water, fruit-infused water.

Do you consume products with corn syrup, cane sugar, or any other added sugar (check your condiments!)? Try paleo ketchup, mustard, fancy vinegars, and herbs and spices, such as basil, cinnamon, cumin, dill, garlic, ginger, rosemary, tarragon, thyme, turmeric.

Do you eat dried fruit, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sorbet, cookies, candy or other sweets? Try coconut milk yogurt with your own fruit, dark chocolate covered almonds and carob.

Do you typically eat pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, cookies and crackers made from white flour, muffins, waffles, pancakes, popcorn or bagels? Switch to gluten-free whole grain cookies, gluten-free almond meal crackers with hummus or guacamole, nuts, seeds, fresh fruit. 

P.S. If you’re as concerned as I am about shoring up your immune system to protect yourself from infections like COVID-19, influenza and the common cold as we begin to move indoors, consider joining Dr. Blum and I for our new course — Immune System Strong. Four LIVE classes with Dr. Blum, 8 coaching calls with me, you’ll learn exactly what you need to do to fortify your immune system. We begin soon!

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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Coconut Quinoa & Broccoli Bowl with Ginger-Lemon Dressing

Here’s a wonderful recipe that will not only take the chill out of spring, but it also is good for your gut  … which makes it good for your immune system.

Check out all these gut-loving, immune-boosting ingredients: 

  • Broccoli and snow peas — green vegetables are the source of a chemical signal that is important to a fully functioning immune system. They do this by ensuring that immune cells in the gut and the skin known as intra-epithelial lymphocytes (IELs) function properly.
  • Coconut milk and flakes — Coconut contains lauric acid that is known for its antiseptic properties. It assists the body in fighting infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  • Quinoa is a complete protein and is critical for immune function.
  • Sesame seeds contain iron, zinc, vitamin B6, vitamin E, selenium and many more which support the functioning of the immune system.
  • Ginger has powerful anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory compounds that keep rhinoviruses from binding to cells in the mucus membranes.

Enjoy this easy-to-make crowd-pleaser!

Ingredients:

For the quinoa and broccoli bowl:

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 head broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup large coconut flakes, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds

For the dressing:

  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • one 2-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

 

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa under cold water for about 30 seconds. In a medium pot, add the rinsed quinoa, coconut milk, and sea salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until quinoa has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from heat, let sit with lid on for 5 minutes, and then fluff with fork.
  2. Lightly steam the broccoli until just tender and bright green, no more than 5 minutes once the water boils. Then, rinse broccoli under cold water to stop its cooking, and to retain its color and texture.
  3. Place the coconut quinoa in 4 bowls. Add the warm broccoli, and then top it with snow peas, spring onion, toasted coconut flakes, and sesame seeds.
  4. To make the dressing, place lemon zest, fresh ginger, honey, lime juice, and oil in a small blender and combine until smooth. A If needed, add a teaspoon or two of water to reach the right consistency.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over your  bowl.

 

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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10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Out of nowhere we’ve been blindsided. Two months ago we never could have imagined the Coronavirus pandemic that is literally bringing the world to a halt. 

We want you to be safe. We want your loved ones to be safe.  And when you stay safe, you help the greater community stay safe, too.

And besides everything you can do physically to ensure safety — washing your hands repeatedly and staying at home as much as humanly possible (yes, isolating) — you must also give your stress response a break. Seriously. Your immune system depends on it.

One of the common threads of Dr. Susan Blum’s books, The Immune System Recovery Plan and Healing Arthritis, and in all our clinical work at Blum Center for Health is this: Stress damages the immune system.

In order to keep your immune system strong, you must employ strategies to minimize the effects of stress.

10 Ways to Reduce Your Coronavirus Stress Response

Create News Blackout Periods — Constantly scrolling, listening to the radio or watching television puts your body on unrelenting periods of high alert. Put in place a news plan. When will you consume your news? I recommend once in the morning and once in the evening for no more than 60 minutes. During the rest of the day, shut off the notifications on your phone, turn off the television and stream podcasts and music that makes you feel good. 

Use Social Media Wisely — Your feed is inundated with COVID19 related news — some of it accurate, some of it false, much of it alarmist, and you likely have friends and family that are in pure panic mode. Perhaps you need to mute a few people, but more than likely you need to step away. Just as I’ve suggested News Blackout Periods, do the same with social media. No, you don’t need it to stay connected to people.  You know who your friends and family are — reach out to them the old fashioned way — call them!

Reframe Your Worries — Here’s an example: My mom is 87 and lives with me. I’m doing everything I can to minimize her exposure. And, my father-in-law is in assisted living — while the building has been closed to visitors for a week, we received notification that someone who visited a resident has since tested positive. I’m a worrier. But, every time I start to feel myself getting worked up, imagining worst case scenarios, feeling that too-familiar constriction in my chest, tingling arms,  combined with swallow breathing, or most likely, holding my breath, I ask myself: “Does my worry change anything in this moment? Is there anything that I can change that would alleviate the worry?” If the answer is yes, I do it. If the answer is no, then I shift my thinking to: “What are my blessings in this moment?” My mom is fine, I’m doing everything I can to keep her safe. My father-in-law is okay. There are no reported cases at his home, and they’ve been closed to visitors for a week. I’m grateful for the sunny day. I’m grateful for the food in my fridge. I’m grateful for an internet connection so that I can stay in touch with my family and friends.

Get Out in Nature — Take a walk. Research shows that walking in nature has a calming effect on your immune system. Take one long walk, or you can take several mini walks throughout the day. 

Breathe — If you’re already meditating, awesome! Now is a great time to deepen your practice. If you’ve been “too busy” to start meditating, well … opportunity knocks! This is the perfect time to get started.  Use an app like Headspace or Calm, and start with 10 minutes a day. There is clear evidence that a mindfulness practice reduces stress, promotes healthier bodies, including taking care of your immune system, and over time, teaches you how to respond to stressors rather than react to them. That comes in pretty darn handy in times like this!

Choose Movies and TV Shows Wisely — Watching disaster movies, action movies and Debbie Downer dramas and documentaries are probably not the way to go right now. Your brain and your body absorb all the negativity, elevating your stress response — not only in the moment, but it fuels your worries and plays a role in disrupted sleep. Choose uplifting, fun, funny shows to watch. I bet you have a list!

Use the Time to Nest — When was the last time you were told to stay home? I mean, were you ever told to stay home? Yes, it’s a very worrying time, but you can also look at the bright side. What projects do you have that have been on the back burner for when you have  more time? Clean out closets, organize your home office, spring clean, get out the clothes that need mending, make your space feel homey and light. You might even try some aromatherapy — use your diffuser, if you have one, or light candles (preferably soy-based, rather than paraffin).

Have Fun with Homesteading — What do I mean? Bake from scratch, include your kids in cooking meals, try some new kitchen skills, like sprouting beans or preserving lemons. Or maybe there’s an InstaPot recipe you’ve been wanting to try. Now’s the time!

Connect with Friends and Family via Video (or Telephone) — Just because you’re home doesn’t mean you have to be isolated from your friends and family. In fact, with nearly everybody at home, it couldn’t be easier to connect with those you love. Use video to make lunch dates or connect in the evening rather than watching television. Do you have older people in your life that aren’t comfortable with technology? A good ole phone call will make their day (and likely yours too.)

Eat Real Food — During times of stress many people lean on packaged foods, and sugary, empty calorie foods — these deplete your immune system! Focus on antioxidant-rich vegetables and fruits — at least half your plate at every meal — healthy fats, like avocado, wild caught salmon, nuts and seeds; and whole grains, like gluten-free oats, wild rice and quinoa. Legumes are a great source of plant-based protein.

What are some of the ways you reduce stress during trying times? Share them. We’d love to hear.

Wondering what else you can do?

Read Dr. Blum’s blog post: Tips for Boosting Your Immunity 

Check out Dr. Yee’s Fire Cider Brew to help boost your immune system. 

 

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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10 Ways to Influence Your Immune System and Autoimmune Recovery

Truth #1: Autoimmune recovery is possible.

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.

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.

Keep your eyes peeled for her new LIVE course: Immune System Strong!  Slated to start late September (it will be here before you know it!) Immune System Strong will feature 4 LIVE classes with me that feature tangible next steps that you will be able to implement immediately, as well as community, accountability, group coaching and access to the answers you need on a daily basis.  Details will be available soon! Get On The First-To-Know List (even if you’re only a little bit interested), because we’ll be rewarding with an offer that won’t be available to anyone else.) I want the special reward!

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 Immune System Strong!   Get On The First-To-Know List (even if you’re only a little bit interested), because we’ll be rewarding with an offer that won’t be available to anyone else.) I want the special reward!

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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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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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 Ways to Stop Arthritis Pain Starting Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Ways to Start Arthritis Pain Starting Now

Make pain-free food choices

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

Here’s what you need to do:

Increase the number of healthy foods you are eating.

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

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

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

Utilize anti-arthritis supplements to decrease pain.

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

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

Powerfully deal with stress: Less stress = less pain.

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

How to destress:

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

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

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

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

 

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