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.

Sciatica: What is the Source?

sciatica_legpainSciatica: What is the Source?

One of the most common things that I see in my office is Sciatica.  In fact, many patients come to their first visit and tell me straight away that they have sciatica.  Self diagnosis is common today as you can find anything you want on the internet.  However, what most people don’t understand is that sciatic symptoms can have multiple different causes.  This means that sciatica treatment can vary depending on the primary cause.  The real trick is to uncover the true source.  Is is stemming from poor soft tissue health in the low back?  Scar tissue build-up in the hips and glutes? Poor pelvis function?  Poor lumbar spine function?  A herniated disc in the lower back?  Poor postural position of the low back and pelvis?  Or more commonly, is it a combination of many of these?  Many times therapists take a cookie-cutter approach to sciatica.  Adjusting the lumbar spine and pelvis, stretches for the piriformis, and maybe some electrical stimulation to the area.  This can sometimes help overcome the pain and symptoms, but most of the times function is never addressed.  This is the real source of the problem.  Some dysfunction in postural positions or movement has taken place that led to the problem.  Unless this is addressed the problem is likely to return.

The other issue I see is that people many times have an MRI that is done because of nerve symptoms that are present.  While this is not a bad idea you always have to remember that the pain is not always caused by what is found in the MRI.  For example, if you take an MRI of someone’s low back, many times you are likely to find that is does not look perfect.  You may find some mild narrowing of spaces or even some mild disc bulging.  This does not mean that you can automatically assign these findings to the source of all the patient’s pain.  This is why many times surgery to the lumbar spine fails to resolve the patients complaints.  The surgeon did a great job at making the MRI look ‘normal’, but it may not have been the actual thing that was causing the symptoms in the first place.  In fact, in the vast majority of cases conservative care will be enough to take care of the symptoms and restore function without pain.  However, there needs to be a comprehensive approach to this care.  You must address the soft tissue health, the proper joint function, the nerve health, postural positions, strength capacity, AND movement patterns.  You cannot just pick one and roll the dice.  If you fail to correct postural and movement patterns then treatment will likely fail or the problem will shortly reoccur.  We see this many times in our office as patients come to us after numerous other practitioners have failed to resolve the problem.  This is not because they are bad at the services they provide, it is simply because they did not address all of the problems at the same time.

Understand the basic premise behind sciatica treatment is taking pressure off of the sciatic nerve, wherever the compression may be happening.  Whether this is caused by scar tissue, poor joint movement, or poor functional patterns, it doesn’t really matter.  All we have to do is uncover all the dysfunctions, restore normal function, and then let the body heal on its own.  If you are suffering from sciatica, just make sure that your sciatica treatment program is comprehensive and addressing all these areas to ensure you the best chance for success.

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.

 

Monster Shake

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green-monster-smoothie-resized-1Monster Shake

Unsweetened Almond milk – 12- 16oz

1 scoop Garden of Life: Raw Organic Meal – Vanilla Flavored

1 tbsp Chia Seeds

1 tbsp Raw, Organic Peanut, Almond, or Cashew Butter

1 large handful of Organic Spinach or Kale

3 medium sized organic Broccoli Florets

1/2 cup frozen Organic mixed berries

1 tbsp Udo’s Oil DHA – 3.6.9 Blend

 

Put all ingredients into a blender and let it rip!  Don’t get too tied down to exact measurements.  Just throw these things in and finely tune the amounts to fit your tastes!  Just don’t overdue the fruit to avoid drinking a sugar-bomb.  If you want to know the exact macronutrients in this shake, by all means look it up!  Just know that this shake is full of healthy veggies, high in extremely healthy fats, packed with healthy, dense calories, and the Garden of Life powder adds so much more! That powder tastes great and is high in vegan protein, full of probiotics, and ramped up with plenty of enzymes.  This shake is a monster because it has it all!  Make this as a meal replacement of use post-workout!

Enjoy!

The Unseen Cause of Recurring Injuries

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

foot-pain-s2-causes

The Unseen Cause of Recurring Injuries

 

For many years I have worked to help people overcome injuries and optimize their health.  For many people, these injuries need to be addressed quickly and efficiently so that training can continue and competitions can be completed.  As training intensity and duration increases the likelihood of injury also increases.  It is my job to eliminate as many of these ‘injury variables’ as possible.  This is why our assessments go way beyond just figuring out what hurts.  Uncovering the underlying causes for the injury becomes the real goal.  Some common causes for injury are poor mobility, poor movement patterns, weaknesses, and/or pure over-training.  However, sometimes I see clients who not only have areas that continue to get injured, but also have multiple areas throughout the body that are injured, swollen, and/or are chronically in pain.  When this occurs we have to start thinking outside the box.  For these clients, what undoubtedly needs to be considered is the possibility of some underlying systemic inflammation.  What this means is that there is something causing inflammation throughout the entire body that is really at the core of nagging, recurring injuries.  While recurring injuries can also be due to weakness, poor movement patterns, and/or strict overuse, it can also be due to a limited ability to fully recover.  This is where systemic inflammation plays a part.  This inflammation, even if low-level, can impede the body’s ability to recover completely.  And poor recovery equals a much higher incidence of re-injury.

 

There are really two common presentations that make me want to consider underlying systemic causes of inflammation.  The first, is when recurring injuries occur to the same area regardless of consistent treatment and proper function.  While this can simply be from continual overuse, systemic inflammation must also at least be considered as a reason for improper recovery and poor tissue health.  The area of injury is really just the ‘weak link’ that breaks down first when excessive inflammation is present.  Eliminating the cause of the inflammation can result in improved recovery, strength, and ability to handle training loads.

 

The second common presentation is when many areas throughout the body have low levels of pain.  These typically show up in joints.  So, for instance, if a client tells me that they hurt their hip and it is not getting better, but also proceed to tell me that both knees, right ankle, and many finger joints also hurt, I automatically start thinking systemic.  Having numerous areas of the body that are painful is difficult to explain away with simple mechanical issues.  Unless of course, they crashed their mountain bike or were involved in a motor vehicle accident.  However, barring any known massive trauma it is tough for numerous areas of the body, especially on opposite sides, to be explained purely from function.

 

Now the question really becomes, what areas need to be assessed if systemic inflammation is suspected?  This can be a little tricky, but with the proper questioning and a little digging it can be determined what areas may be necessary to test.  Some areas that can potentially cause systemic inflammation are poor diet, food sensitivities, poor gut health, parasites, bacterial overgrowth, yeast infections, hormone dysfunctions, and many others.  Having the ability to narrow this list down a little bit can be helpful so that proper testing can be ordered and underlying issues can be uncovered.  In my clinic, we use a wide variety of tests depending on what we are trying to assess.  The best part about many of these functional tests is that they are simple to do and most times can be done in the comfort of your own home.

 

The next level of thinking and true proactive healthcare, for either the office worker or the competitive athlete, is to always assess these underlying causes of inflammation as part of a standard assessment for overall health and prior to creating a comprehensive treatment plan.  Appropriately selected lab work can accurately assess many different systems in the body to check for inflammation itself, or for those things that we know create inflammation.  Treatment programs that miss this piece can many times prove ineffective or at the end be unable to completely resolve pain.  If this occurs, consider seeking out a professional who can assess these ‘other’ causes and get down to the root of the problem.

 

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Roasted Cauliflower + Chickpeas with Mustard + Parsley

posted in: Recipes | 0

unnamedRoasted Cauliflower + Chickpeas with Mustard + Parsley

*Recipe from “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow”

So good. Roasted cauliflower, with its gently browned florets, is a sweet and deep contrast to the fiber-rich roasted chickpea. This is an ultrahealthy and filling side, one of those healthy dishes that actually leaves you feeling satisfied.

 

Ingredients:

14 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed & drained & dried in a kitchen towel

1 head of cauliflower, outer leaves removed and discarded (or slice and sauté them with garlic- surprisingly delicious!), cut into bite sized florets

Extra virgin olive oil

Coarse sea salt

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped Italian parsley

 

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and set the rack in the middle

Toss the chickpeas & cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 tbsps. of olive oil and a big pinch of salt. Roast, stirring now and then, until everything is dark brown and the cauliflower is quite soft, about 45 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, whisk together the mustards, vinegar, and ¼ cup of olive oil with a big pinch of salt and a few healthy grinds of black pepper. While the chickpeas and cauliflower are still warm, toss them with the mustard dressing and the parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Recovery: The Missing Link

recovery_nutrition_for_runnersRecovery:  The Missing Link

When someone is training, whether it be for an event or just to get in better shape, many hours are spent not only planning each days’ activities, but also in working towards a goal.  Most athletes spend most of their time making sure that they get enough training hours into each week.  A smaller number of athletes spend adequate time ensuring that their nutrition supports their training efforts (which is as equally important as the training itself).  However, very few athletes give enough attention and respect to one of the most important parts of training: Recovery.  Recovery is the glue that holds everything together.  Without this glue, areas in the body will gradually become dysfunctional and begin to fall apart.  Physical training, in any form, pushes the body to its limits.  This causes the body to breakdown as limits are surpassed and the athlete tries to make improvements; as muscles and other soft tissues are stressed, as in training, they essentially breakdown and cause micro-tears in the muscle fibers. After training, the body responds by building that tissue up stronger than before to support such efforts the next time.  This is how muscles become larger and performance is increased.  Now, what happens if you put your body through the same physical stress before it has had time to recover?  Essentially, you will be breaking down tissue that began the day at 90% instead of 100%.  This means that by the time you are done training you will have once again broken down the muscle tissue, but this time to a greater extent since you were not 100% at the start of training.  Now, the body is a remarkable machine that can adapt to many situations and learn to cope with many stresses.  By no means does this mean that you have to be 100% rested and fresh before each day of training.  However, if this scenario is repeated numerous times you can see how eventually the tissue will not be able to withstand the same levels of training.  Soon the tissue will be starting the days’ training at 20% and little work can be done before the tissue fails and injury occurs.  Recovery is a complex puzzle that requires more than just a little time off.  Understanding the importance of recovery and how to implement it correctly into your training plan will not only boost performance, but it will keep you active and injury free.  In my many years of clinical practice I have seen numerous athletes competing in a wide variety of recreational and professional sports.   Those who pay attention to the various parts of recovery almost always do better in competition.  There is a simple reason for this: improved recovery = an increased ability to train harder = better results!  In my opinion, the success rates of training programs hinge on the things done when you are not actually training!

Avocado & Artichoke Dip

posted in: Nutrition, Recipes | 0

avocado-artichoke-dipIngredients:

2 ripe avocados

1 jar artichoke hearts

1 can sliced black olives

2 garlic cloves, grated

¼ tsp onion powder or 1 tbsp. finely chopped onion

1/8 tsp cumin

2 tsp tarragon vinegar

½ tsp fresh lime juice

Sea salt to taste

 

 

Preparation:

In a medium mixing bowl, mash the avocados. Cut the artichoke hearts into pieces. Mix together all ingredients.

 

Salmon Cakes

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salmon-cakes10Ingredients:

12 oz. baked salmon, chopped

2 eggs or egg substitute

1 small onion, finely chopped

1-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 tbsp. green onion, minced

1 tsp. spice blend of rosemary, sage, salt, garlic powder, onion powder

1-2 tsp. coconut flour

¼ cup coconut oil or butter

2 tsp. gluten-free mustard (optional)

Preparation:

Combine the salmon, eggs, garlic, green onions, spice blend, and mustard (optional) in a small mixing bowl. If the consistency is runny, sift the coconut flour over the mixture and combine well. Form the mixture into patties. Lightly fry both sides in a frying pan coated with coconut oil.

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