my daily routine — the supplements + superfoods i take on the regular

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One of the eight questions on my intake form for new health coaching clients is, “Are you taking any supplements?” I’ve seen this tiny section filled out all different ways — from leaving it blank, to having every centimeter of space scrawled with names of vitamins, pills, potions, and powders.

There’s not really a right or wrong answer to the question. Taking 100 pills everyday won’t necessarily make you any healthier — in fact, you can be in absolute perfect health and take nothing at all. Ideally, we are getting satisfactory nourishment from our diet — but our nutritionally depleted food supply and stressful modern lifestyle can make that difficult. That’s where ‘supplements’ and ‘superfoods’ come in. I consider them to be herbal medicines that do exactly what their name states — ‘supplement’ our diets and fill any gaps you may have that prevent us from achieving optimal health.

I usually always make it clear that I’m not a pill pusher — in fact, if you aren’t going to stay committed to regularly taking supplements (or superfoods) for the long haul – I don’t think they’re necessarily all that beneficial. More holistic, herbal remedies can be very potent and powerful, but they work in a slow, steady fashion. Taken regularly over a long period of time, and you can see amazing results. But if you’re looking for a quick-fix, magic bullet situation – save you’re money.

If you’re like me, are one time or another you’ve stocked your pantry or medicine cabinet with tincture vials and pill bottles, taking them once or twice (and feeling very virtuous), and then have them collect dust until their expiration date. I’ve gotten much better at minimizing my wellness routine, and only purchase something if I will commit to (at least) taking it until the bottle is gone.

I wanted to share the 6 supplements/superfoods that I take (practically) everyday. By no means do I think that these foods are appropriate for you. I have specific, in some cases, personal, reasons for taking all of them – which I’ll share. I encourage you to choose your herbal ‘medicines’ with care, picking high quality products that will help you to combat some of your health challenges and boost your overall health.

And most importantly, find products that you either ENJOY taking, or that you know you can commit to consuming on a daily basis. And beyond that – after check in with yourself after before repurchasing another bottle of your supplements: Do you notice any changes? Do you feel better?

After all, that’s the whole point.

*Please consult your doctor prior to starting any new supplements or medicines

Aloe Vera Juice – Lily of the Desert

I take 2-3 ounces of Aloe Vera juice most mornings, as I discovered a few years ago I’m prone to silent acid reflux. I don’t have traditional symptoms – rather I’ll get a bad sore throat that won’t go away. I’ve tried all sorts of other holistic remedies for the reflux – without much success. I take this in the morning on an empty stomach to prevent flare ups, and will also take it if I have any symptoms.

Aloe vera has also been studied to benefit bowel regularity, digestion, skin health and blood sugar management.

Tocos (Rice Bran Solubles) – Sun Potion

I add this to my tea every evening — primarily because I really enjoy the flavor. It adds a creamy, vanilla, flavor – and I’ve become slightly addicted. It’s been noted to be be an ‘ultimate skin food’, a detoxification aid, as well as being a bio-available source of vitamins D & E. I also think it would be great in coffee or smoothies.

Liquid Chlorophyl – ChlorOxygenn

This is a supplement I mostly take in the winter. When it’s gray and there isn’t a lot of green outside, we can miss the oxygenating effects of their chlorophyl. I add a dropper full of this to my first glass of water in the morning to energize, detox, and oxygenate the blood. It can also aid in boosting immunity and preventing body odor. The chlorophyll tastes good – it comes in a mint flavor if you’d like – and it adds a nice body to the water. I find it refreshing and crave it in the morning.

Reishi – Sun Potion

Called the ‘Queen Healer’, Reishi (a rare type of mushroom) is a potent adaptogen noted for it’s balancing, calming effects. It’s also an incredible antioxidant source. I add this to my evening tea (along with the Tocos) and enjoy the calm, soothing effects before bedtime.

Collagen Peptides – Vital Proteins

Collagen is sourced from the bones of cows. Definitely seems like an odd thing to put into your morning coffee – but hear me out: This powder is flavorless and odorless, and has similar benefits of bone broth – which is the health food ‘du jour’. It’s studied to benefit joint health, hair/skin/nails, and is also a great protein source. I like having a dose of protein first thing in the morning to help boost metabolism. Vital proteins is a reputable brand that sources from pasture-raised, grass-fed cows. While it’s definitely not vegetarian, they do make a marine version that comes from fish.

Evening Primrose Oil – Barlean’s

This is the only pill I take — and I do so for it’s assistance in balancing hormones. For me, this benefits severe PMS symptoms like breast cysts, tenderness, cramps, and skin conditions. I like that Barlean’s is a high quality organic oil.

what’s the deal with adaptogens? here’s why (and how) you should incorporate these super herbs into your wellness routine

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We tend to think stress is mainly a result of trauma or high-pressure situations. But our bodies are constantly reacting to physical, chemical, and environmental stressors – we just may not realize it: We deal with it all day long, and it has a damaging effect on our health. Stress results from exercising too much, sleeping too little, getting stuck in traffic, over-consuming sugar or caffeine, being on a crowded subway car, poor air quality… the list goes on and on.

Basically? Stress in an unavoidable part of modern life.

LET’S DEAL WITH IT

When we experience stress, whether in obvious or subtle ways, our body releases cortisol. An excess amount of cortisol can result in depression, anxiety, mental illness, fatigue,  increased (or decreased) appetite, weakened immunity, weight gain/loss. If you’re cool with being sick, fat, tired, anxious, and the like – you can stop reading now. If you’re curious about how to combat the ill effects of stress – you may want to get familiar with adaptogens. These magic herbs (and mushrooms) might be on trend and gaining popularity, but like most tried and true holistic remedies, they have been used for centuries – particularly in Chinese and Ayruvedic medicine. By definition, adaptogens are, “‘a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” In other words, they help to maintain a state of balanced health by regulating levels of stress hormones: think of it like installing your own personal stress thermostat to maintain the optimal, health promoting temperature. Adaptogens can both calm and energize, and unlike coffee or sugar, they do not over stimulate or result in an energy crash. Studies have found them to be safe for long term use, and have shown a possible link to improved brain function, heart health, digestion, and immunity.

THE NITTY GRITTY

Generally, adaptogens are not for treating a specific condition, but rather for promoting overall wellbeing. That being said, adaptogens can have a wide range of effects. I think it’s a good idea to think about how you react to stressful situations. If you tend to experience fatigue, mild depression, mental fog, decreased memory, or trouble concentrating you may want to try a stimulating adaptogens. Maca, ginseng, rhodiola rosea and cordyceps (mushrooms) are all touted for their invigorating properties. If you are prone to anxiety, insomnia, jittery energy, and/or a racing mind, you may want to steer towards calming adaptogens; ashwaghanda, tulsi (holy basil), astragulus, he shou wu, and reishi (mushrooms) are known for soothing the nervous system. I encourage you to read about specific adaptogens before to decide what may be the best fit. Many holistic practitioners also suggest a blend (there are plenty available for purchase) for maximum efficacy.

BOTTOMS UP!

Adaptogens are most commonly available in capsule, tincture, tea, or powder form. There’s not a right or wrong way to take them. Rather, it’s important to figure out the best way to integrate them into your routine on an everyday basis. I’m terrible at taking pills – I always forget and never stay on track. The same goes for tinctures. But I’ve been successful using adaptogens in tea or powder form – which I simply add to my teas or smoothies – something I have daily. You get the most benefits from adaptogens by taking them regularly over a long period of time. So figure out which adaptogens will best suit your unique constitution and enjoy them in whatever form works for you. Either way, you’ll be keeping calm and carrying on with the best of ‘em.

Here are links to a few of my favorite adaptogens in various forms. Like any supplement, it’s important to source from high quality, reputable brands.

*It’s also important to remember that these are healthy foods, not magic cures.  These foods are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

He Shou Wu – Sun Potion

+used to tonify blood, liver, skin, nervous system, endocrine glands
+may help increase stamina
+rumor has it that it helps prevent/reverse graying hair
+I love adding it to Dandyblend  (along with Tocos and Reishi) for my after dinner adaptogenic tonic of choice

Maca – Navitas Naturals

+used to increase strength and endurance
+tonifies endocrine system
+known for its stimulating effects
+a good addition to smoothies

Spirit Dust – Moon Juice

+a blend of adaptogens said to promote awareness, creativity, and joy
+promotes a peaceful mind
+an energy blend to benefit physical and mental harmony
+mix in any cold or hot beverage. I like adding to homemade nut milks.

Cordyceps – Four Sigmatic

+mushroom used as a ‘general rejuvenator’
+remedy for fatigue and weakness
+may increase vital energy when recovering from illness
+I like enjoying this as a tea for an afternoon energy boost. I also take these packets with me when traveling.

stay healthy travel tips

<em>sunrise balloon ride on my recent trip to Cappadocia, Turkey</em> ” title=”IMG_2240″ width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”size-full wp-image-2707″ /><p class=sunrise balloon ride on my recent trip to Cappadocia, Turkey

While the blue skies and warm breezes have yet to make their debut (in Chicago at least), spring is here. For some of you lucky folks, that means that a spring break is in order. I recently returned from a vacation (and birthday trip!) to Turkey. I was fortunate enough to enjoy delicious, fresh food and warm, sunny days.

Traveling to new places provides an excellent opportunity to observe how people in the region live. You can learn a lot about different cultures from how they spend their time, what they eat, and their relationship to their surroundings.

What was my observation about Turks? Their pretty darned healthy!

The food was heavy on vegetables, whole grains, beans, and healthy fats – while meat, sugar, and refined flours were used more sparingly. No matter where you ate, it was common to see a basket of seeded, whole-grain fresh pita or bread placed on the table. I even noticed that desserts at very mainstream restaurants were described as being ‘free of refined sugar’. I also noticed street vendors on every corner squeezing fresh pomegranate and orange juice – something I took advantage of nearly every day. ☺

Needless to say, I was able to fully indulge in the Turkish culture without getting too far off of my usual healthy routine. Unfortunately, it is not as easy to do so everywhere we travel to! I decided to put a list of some of my favorite ‘stay healthy’ travel tips to help you stay on track no matter where you are vacationing.

TOP 4 STAY HEALTHY TRAVEL TIPS

1. Plan Ahead: This is a key tip that is important for everyday healthy living, but becomes all the more important when traveling. Whether you have a long car ride or plane travel, its key to have a few healthy snacks available. After all, you never know what options will be available when driving a long stretch of country road or are stuck at the airport for longer than anticipated.

Be sure to choose something that will hold up well. Nutrition bars, nuts, trail mix, and granola are all great options.
A few of my favorites: 22 Days makes great Superfood Bars (I love the PB + Chocolate Chip Nirvana), MARK BARS are packed with whole food nutrition, Navitas Naturals power snack mix is another favorite, and you can’t go wrong with raw almonds or cashews.

Beyond snacks, use your trip as an opportunity to clean out your refrigerator and pantry. Get rid of anything that has been lurking on a back shelf too long or any foods that have overstayed their welcome. Stock up with frozen fruits and vegetables to have on hand for when you return home and don’t have a chance to grocery shop.

2. Bring Insurance: Nope, not travel insurance, but ‘health’ insurance in the form of vitamins and supplements. You will most likely be off of your usual routine, and nutrient-dense foods may make a rare appearance. Not to mention all the germs floating around airplanes and rest stop bathrooms… With that being said, vitamins and supplements become all the more important. Consider bringing a food-based multivitamin to balance out any gaps in your diet. If vegetables and leafy greens won’t be readily available, you may also want to consider green supplements in the form of powdered greens (I like Green Vibrance) or chewable chlorella tablets.

It is also common for digestive systems to get a little mixed up when away. I always travel with a probiotic to help stay on track and give my digestive system a boost. While you usually need to keep them in the refrigerator, they will last for about two weeks at room temperature when traveling. Triphala, and aruveydic herb, is also good for cleansing the body and staying regular.

And last but not least: if you have a low or weakened immunity, or are concerned about drinking the water or eating the produce at your destination, consider bringing liquid grapefruit seed extract. You can put a few drops on the skin of fruit or vegetables or take a daily dose in water. I also like NutriBiotic’s ‘Defense Plus that has grapefruit seed extract, Echinacea, vitamin C (and a bunch of other good stuff) to keep you strong and healthy for your whole trip. After all, there is nothing worse than being sick on vacation!

3. Stay Active: Sure, it’s nice to relax, but be sure to make some time for physical activity! Walking is a great way to familiarize yourself with a new city. If you’re in a scenic location, hike or rent bikes to enjoy some fresh air and beautiful views.

One of the hotels I stayed at in Turkey offered complimentary yoga classes to guests. Check out to see if somewhere you’re staying has similar opportunities – and take advantage of them! It’s also worth checking out local fitness studios to try a class that is not available in your home town.

And if you are in a location on the water: go for a brisk swim or take a long run or walk on the beach.

4. Practice Moderation: If you’re like me, eating is a highlight of your vacation. I love choosing restaurants well before I leave on the trip and planning out what local dishes I can’t wait to try. With that being said, be sure to still keep things in moderation! It can be common to feel the need to ‘let loose’ early on in the vacation and indulge in your every sugary whim. Remember, that the sweets (or whatever else strikes your fancy) will still be there tomorrow. Sharing desserts or ‘indulgent’ menu items is a great way to get a taste without overdoing it.

Since eating can be an ‘activity’ when traveling, be sure to tune into whether you are eating because you are truly hungry – or just because its something to do. Keep this in mind before ordering, and eat just until you’re satisfied – without being stuffed. It’s also a good practice to think about what you are really hungry for. Will a salad or soup satisfy you? Or are you craving meat to nourish yourself? Listening to your body will prevent overeating and leave you feeling satiated.

What are some of the tips you swear by when heading out of town?? Please share below!