Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce & Micro-greens

posted in: blog post, Nutrition, Recipes | 0

Cauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce & MicrogreensCauliflower Steaks with Tomato Sauce & Micro-greens

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 
large heads cauliflower (25 to 30 oz each)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil + additional for drizzling
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt + additional as needed
  • 11/2-2 cups unsalted tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup microgreens, for garnish
  • 2 tbsp unsalted pine  nuts, toasted
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. Trim stems of cauliflower heads so that cauliflower sits flat upright. Cut each cauliflower vertically into two ¾-inch-thick steaks, making 4 steaks total. (Reserve remaining cauliflower for another use.) Arrange on prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, stir together oil, 1 tsp paprika, pepper and salt; brush half of mixture over cauliflower. Roast for 10 minutes. Turn and brush with remaining oil mixture; roast until tender and golden brown, about 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce, remaining 1 tsp smoked paprika and additional salt as needed; heat on low until warmed. Place 1 cauliflower steak on each plate and garnish with microgreens, pine nuts and sesame seeds. Drizzle each with additional oil.

PER SERVING (1 steak with sauce and garnishes): Calories: 220, Total Fat: 18 g, Sat. Fat: 2 g, Monounsaturated Fat: 11 g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 3 g, Carbs: 15 g, Fiber: 5.5 g, Sugars: 7 g, Protein: 5 g, Sodium: 678 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Hypothyroidism: The Real Solution

posted in: blog post, General Health | 0

imagesAccording to the American Thyroid Association, “More than 12 percent of the U.S. population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. An estimated 20 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease. Up to 60 percent of those with thyroid disease are unaware of their condition.”  This is a staggering number! The real question is why?  This is one of many diseases in the United States that seems to be growing at an astronomical rate.  What few people understand, even many of those who have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, or high TSH levels, is that 90% of all hypothyroid cases in the United States are technically autoimmune conditions and not a primary condition of the thyroid.  This is a very important thing to understand.  I have had numerous people in my functional medicine programs that have been hypothyroid for many years and have never heard the term Hashimoto’s.  Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid.  Again, if you are in the United States and have hypothyroidism, then you have a 90% chance of actually having Hashimoto’s.  This is crucial to understand because the protocols used to help with this condition are completely different than if you had true primary thyroid disease.

With primary hypothyroidism the thyroid itself is dysfunctional and medical doctors must treat the thyroid itself, many times with medications.  This means that there is an underactive thyroid despite the body telling it to produce hormone.  However, the other 90% have an autoimmune condition.  In this case, the thyroid itself is fine, it is the immune system that is dysfunctional.  Wouldn’t it make sense to then address the immune system?  This is not what is typically done.  Either the patient doesn’t know if they Hashimoto’s, or they know they have it and still the sole means of treatment is addressing the thyroid.  Many times these patients have similar comments:

  1. My thyroid labs are normal, but I still feel terrible!
  2. Since being diagnosed my doctor keeps increasing the dosage of my medication.
  3. Sometimes I have hypothyroid symptoms and sometimes I have hyperthyroid symptoms.

All three of these comments are typical and occur when the immune system is not being addressed.  As is with everything in functional medicine, you MUST address the cause of the problem and not bandage the symptoms.  Hashimoto’s disease is similar to a building on fire.  When the building is on fire there are symptoms of smoke, ash, and flames.  The building doesn’t have an issue that needs to be addressed, the source of the fire needs to be stopped.  The fire is put out temporarily (medication) and the symptoms (fire, smoke, ash) cease.  However, nobody thinks to pay attention to the person that lit the fire and so he does it again and the building once again is on fire.  Should we just continue to put the fire out each time he lights it?  Or should we figure out who is lighting the fire and then stop him from lighting it?  I think most people would agree the latter is the best solution.  Same goes with the thyroid.  Let’s stop just putting a bandaid on the thyroid and figure out what keeps lighting the fire that is irritating the thyroid.

In autoimmune diseases it is crucial to figure out what is causing the immune system to be up-regulated.  We all want an immune system that works effectively, but when it becomes too aggressive it can cause many problems.  If we can keep the immune system from being irritated then we can keep this response low and the thyroid will not be attacked.  The trick is to figure out exactly what things are irritating your immune system.  Some common irritants and food, bugs, and other stressors.   If you are eating foods that are causing inflammation and increasing immune system activity, then you thyroid is a likely target that will be impacted.  Uncovering your specific triggers is important to do as soon as possible so that you can restore normal function and stop damaging your thyroid.  Many of these triggers are common, but each individual can vary.  There are many lab tests that can help determine some of these triggers, but also addressing nutrition, sleep, and stress management prove to be helpful as well.  In essence, creating a completely healthy lifestyle that is customized to you is the answer.  This will not only alleviate thyroid symptoms, but will provide you will the best possible chance for a life that is long and full of vitality.

Probiotics: The New Multivitamin

probiotic-foodsProbiotics: The New Multivitamin

 

For many years people have been taking multivitamins as a way to “cover the bases” in an attempt to optimize their health.  Not a bad idea.  Multivitamins are a good way to make sure that you are receiving adequate amounts of the most common vitamins and minerals.  Dietary sources are always the best way to get these, but it usually can’t hurt to add a little extra just in case.  For those who truly assess their health with a functional medicine practitioner you can customize which variety of multi might be best for you given your specific findings, or even better just target specific micro-nutrients.

However, next generation “Multis” should now be seen as probiotics.  The amount of medical research into the microbiome is mind-blowing!  The microbiome is basically the collection of microorganisms that are present within the human body.  The importance of these organisms cannot be overstated and their exact contribution to our health and/or disease is just starting to be uncovered.  You can think of the microbiome as an opportunistic environment.  These microorganisms live together in what should be a ‘balance of power’.  When various organisms grow in number excessively they can crowd out other organisms.  This can sometimes be a good thing, or a bad thing.  If it is a bacteria that tends to lend itself towards improved health then it can help to keep the harmful bugs from growing excessively in number.  However, if the opposite occurs then these beneficial bacteria cannot help keep the balance and harmful organisms are allowed to flourish.  The ideal ‘balance of power’ is not completely understood and may even vary from person to person.  However, we do have enough research to understand many of the different strains of bacteria that actually help to support a healthy environment.  These strains are the most common ones seen in probiotic supplements today.  However, we also know that variety is important because having one strain dominate in number too excessively, even if it’s a ‘healthy’ strain, can begin to crowd out other healthy bacteria needed for optimal health.  For this reason, I typically suggest that people either cycle which probiotic they take, in order to get a wide variety of bacteria exposure, or make sure to take one that is broad spectrum and expansive.  This allows you to attempt to maintain a healthy and varied gut environment.

Another easy and sometimes more effective way to help improve gut bacteria health is to consume fermented foods.  Fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, are foods that are created by allowing bacteria to ferment the sugars in the food.  So, you are actually consuming foods that are full of bacteria.  Some studies have shown that eating fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, has more impact on actually changing the makeup of the microbiome than taking probiotics.  I say just do both.

Pretend that you gut environment is filled with millions of different soldiers, some groups of soldiers are good and others are bad.  The bad soldiers can’t do too much harm if the good soldiers are allowed to flourish and keep the peace.  However, if this balance is disturbed and the bad soldiers are allowed to grow in number, then the susceptibility for harmful situations becomes more prevalent.  This is a good way to imagine the environment in the human microbiome.  For now, the best thing we can do to attempt to keep the good soldiers healthy and strong is to support them with things like probiotics and fermented foods.

 

Top 5 Tips to Better Sleep

posted in: blog post, General Health | 0

sleep

Top 5 Tips to Better Sleep

Sleep is really an under-appreciated art.  Many people brag about how little sleep they can get away with and still function at high levels.  Sleeping 5 hours and night is seen as a milestone and many people are jealous of those that can pull it off.  This ‘achievement’ is only seen as a benefit because our work lives get more and more demanding every year.  However, all the most recent research is starting to show the real importance of sleep and how much it plays a role in overall health and longevity.  For instance, we now know that sleep is the only time that our brains gets to detoxify.  Without proper deep sleep this process cannot occur efficiently and toxins can build up in the brain.  And we do not want any toxins lingering in our brains for long.

Sleep is also the time when our hormones work to regenerate our bodies, recover from the day’s stressors, and repair any damage.  Limiting the hours of ‘shut-eye’ reduces the time that your body can grow, heal, and restore.  So, while it may seem counter-intuitive, the more you sleep, the more productive you may become.  While sleeping excessive hours can reduce brain performance, sleeping too little can also do the same.   However, I think that we can safely say that most people are not struggling from a problem of getting too much sleep.  Those instances are few and typically because of a chronic disease process that is occurring.  For the rest of us, sleeping more should only prove to improve health.  And it is not just hours spent in bed, but the quality and quantity of time that you are actually sleeping.  So, here are a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

  1. Get Rid of the Blues

Blue light is part of the spectrum of light, but is specifically important because it can directly affect the body’s circadian rhythms, or biological clock.  This is important because if too much blue light it detected by the eye at night then the body thinks that it is the day and time to fire on all cylinders.  This obviously is a bad idea for someone trying to sleep.  Problem is that most people are exposed to blue light just before bed as it is present in our phones, laptops, computers, TVs, etc.  So, get rid of the electronics at least 1 hour prior to bed to avoid this ‘blue-light confusion’.  Or, if you just can’t you’ll need to wear blue-light blocking glasses to avoid telling your body it is daytime.

  1. Stay in Rhythm

Your body’s circadian rhythms are very important to regulating many functions within your body.  Many hormones fluctuate based on these rhythms so allowing your body to maintain a ‘normal’ is important not only for getting the right amount of sleep, but also so that you don’t set up an environment for dysfunction hormones.  We are naturally geared to use light and dark as our body’s signals.  However, given our current lifestyles we can stay in bright environments whenever we want.  For best health try and keep the same sleep/wake cycle every night.  This means having a set bedtime and a set wake time.  While this may vary slightly, trying to stay on a normal rhythm will help you get better sleep.

  1. Be Cool

Research shows that sleeping in a cool environment is more conducive to quality sleep.  Our body is wired to cool internally close to bedtime so that it is easier for us to sleep and achieve deep sleep.  Too much heat and it disturbs our ‘shut-off’ process.  This doesn’t mean that you have to feel cold, but the room should be a cool.  A temperature of 65 degrees in the room is shown to have best results, but having it as low at 60 degrees can also be beneficial is you sleep with excessive amounts of sheets.

  1. Come to the Dark Side

This means the darker the better.  Even ambient amounts of light can be enough to rouse our brains and prevent full, deep REM sleep.  While this sounds obvious most people’s bedrooms are littered with light from their clocks, TVs, DVD players, fans, phones, etc.  These lights can be sensed by our bodies and can disrupt sleep.  So try to eliminate all artificial light in the bedroom and get blackout curtains if you live an area that has lots of neighborhood light.  This ensures that your brain and body know it is bedtime and can get the appropriate rest.

  1. Keep Caffeine as a Morning Treat

Caffeine consumption does have an affect on sleep.  Whether or not you can fall asleep it can disrupt your ability to get quality, deep sleep.  Remember it’s not all about how many hours your eyes are shut, but the quality of sleep that you get.  Caffeine stays in your body longer than you’d think.  Avoiding caffeine after lunch can help your sleep quality improve and maybe just get rid of some of your fatigue that is causing you to drink so much caffeine in the first place!

 

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