Holiday Eating Survival Guide

The holiday season is the most difficult time of year for my patients to stick to the healthy diet guidelines I've recommended for them. So they're always relieved when I explain that what we eat most of the time is more important than what we eat just once in a while. There are some exceptions, like people with severe food allergies and those who struggle with food addiction, but most of the time I don't discourage an occasional indulgence as long as some basic rules are in place. Follow these ten tips to eat well and stay healthy this holiday season.

The 10 Worst Foods for Prediabetes

Prediabetes, the state of metabolic imbalance that precedes diabetes, is a growing epidemic. In the United States alone it affects 1 in 3 adults of all ages, 1 in 2 elderly adults, and almost 1 in 4 adolescents.

The condition is characterized by high levels of blood sugar and/or insulin, the hormone that helps cells in the body absorb sugar from the blood. Sugar in the blood comes from the foods we eat, so eating the right foods is one of the most powerful steps we can take to reverse prediabetes. There are other important steps – like exercising regularly, getting good sleep, managing stress, and undergoing detoxification – but making positive dietary changes is a good place to start.

DIY Lavender Salt Scrub

This easy DIY salt scrub will help smooth your rough edges this winter. It also makes a great gift. I used coconut oil to make this salt scrub, but you could substitute almond oil or olive oil.

How to Find Your Perfect Water Filter

More than 50 million people in the United States drink polluted water. In fact, US drinking water has been found to contain more than 300 contaminants and more than half of them are not subject to safety guidelines. Forty-nine chemicals that are regulated have been found to exceed safety limits.

Halloween Healthy Treats

This Halloween, choose healthier treats. Give trick-or-treaters something to encourage activity or creativity, like finger puppets, yo-yos, small games, coloring books, colored pencils, or Halloween-themed stickers, notepads, or erasers.

If you want to give out edibles, pick sturdy fresh fruit like apples or oranges, boxes of raisins, single servings of raw almonds, individually-wrapped string cheese, or 100% xylitol-sweetened candy.

Naturopathic Medicine Week

The United States Senate declared October 6th through 12th to be Naturopathic Medicine Week as a way to recognize "the value of naturopathic medicine in providing safe, effective, and affordable health care" and the role that naturopathic doctors play in "preventing chronic and debilitating illnesses and conditions."

A Smarter Way to Vaccinate

In the United States we give children more vaccines than any other country in the world. Just three decades ago kids received eight doses of three vaccines and now they receive seventy doses of sixteen different vaccines, and twenty-six are given during the first year of life. 

It’s all part of a plan to prevent deadly disease, but our infant mortality rate is still unacceptably high. The United States ranks fifty-first, behind many developing countries and every developed country except Poland (CIA 2014). Research studies confirm that increasing doses of vaccines are associated with increasing incidence of infant death (Miller and Goldman 2011) and countries with the lowest infant mortality rates are also among those who give their kids the fewest immunizations, notably Sweden, Japan, and Iceland, where kids receive only twelve doses (Miller and Goldman 2011).

As parents are becoming increasingly concerned about adverse effects and doctors are becoming increasingly concerned about kids going unvaccinated, it’s time to reevaluate immunization protocols. We can begin by weighing the risks and benefits of vaccines on a case-by-case basis, implementing alternative vaccine schedules, utilizing harm reduction strategies, treating symptoms of sickness promptly, and keeping kids healthy. Offering options other than the current one-size-fits-all approach can increase immunization rates among families who would otherwise choose to not vaccinate at all and reduce the risk of the most serious side effects when children are immunized.

The Emerging Allergy Epidemic and 3 Ways to Reduce Your Risk

Allergic reactions to foods, drugs, plants, and insects are becoming more common and more severe. Food allergies affect about 8% of kids and adults in the US. Since the 1990s, they've increased two- to three-fold among children. Three out of ten kids with food allergies have reactions to multiple foods and almost four out of ten have had severe reactions. Some say it's an epidemic.

10 Tips for a Healthy Microbiome

Our bodies contain 10 times more microbial cells than human cells and 200 times more microbial genes than human genes. The collective community of microorganisms and their genes is called our microbiome and we wouldn’t live long without it.

Are Fecal Transplants the New Probiotcs?

Despite the marvels of modern medicine, nature is sometimes still the best cure. One good example is fecal microbiota transplant or FMT, which involves the transfer of stool from a healthy person to a sick person. This ancient technique, which dates back to fourth-century China, is making a comeback because it can cure an infection that is too often incurable: Clostridium difficile, also known as C. diff. 

Vacations are Good For Your Health

The United States is the only industrialized country that doesn’t require employers to give workers paid vacation time. In fact, about a quarter of employees in the US don’t receive any paid vacation at all, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

DIY Fermented Foods

"Humans did not invent or create fermentation; it would be more accurate to state that fermentation created us."

     -Sandor Ellix Katz, The Art of Fermentation, page 1

Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, pickles, and yogurt have so many health benefits. They support the healthy microorganisms in our digestive tract that we can't live without and they improve our ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.

If fermenting your own foods is daunting, take some help from these two books.

Free Fun Fitness Events in New York City

Exercise should be fun and it shouldn't cost a lot. Check out these FREE fitness events in New York City this summer to get outside and get moving.

5 Big Benefits of Sauna Therapy

For thousands of years humans have been using heated air for ceremony, relaxation, and healing. This practice is still in widespread use today in the form of saunas.
Studies show that sauna therapy has real health benefits and I recommend it regularly to my patients, sometimes for specific health conditions and other times as part of a comprehensive detox program.

Healthy Grilling Tips and Charcoal Choices

When it comes to grilling, charcoal briquettes have some advantages. They burn longer and maintain a consistent temperature. But they also take longer to light and may require the addition of lighter fluid. Because they're made with binding agents like sodium nitrate, they release chemicals into the air that permeates your food. And they produce a lot of ash.

Five Foods I Always Buy

I love shopping for food. Whether I'm at the farmer's market or the grocery store, I thoroughly enjoy perusing what's on offer and picking out what looks best to me at that moment. The items I bring home can vary with the season, my social calendar, and even my mood, but there are some staples I can't live without. Here are five foods that I always buy because they are healthy, versatile, and delicious.

#1  Leafy Green Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. I usually eat salad greens in the spring and summer and I tend to eat tougher greens like kale, chard, and broccoli rabe in the fall and winter months. Winter greens can be rolled up and thinly cut into ribbons for salads or used like any other vegetable in stir-fries, curries, and soups. I always have frozen spinach in my freezer for days when I'm short on fresh leafy greens. For a simple side dish, I thaw it, warm it up with a splash of heavy cream, and season it with salt and pepper.

#2  Organic or Pasture-Raised Eggs
Eggs can always make a meal, and they're full of good quality protein and healthy fat. I eat them scrambled with spinach for breakfast, poached atop a salad for lunch, hard-boiled for a snack, and cooked into an omelet or frittata with whatever other veggies I have on hand for dinner. I also use them to make desserts like my Dark Chocolate Mousse Cake and Pots de Crème. My favorite eggs are pasture-raised from the farmer's market but in a pinch I'll buy organic ones rich in omega-3s at the grocery store.

#3 Organic Berries
Berries are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powerhouses. They're also a good source of nutrients and fiber and they help our bodies detox. Because berries are on the Dirty Dozen list, I always buy them organic, fresh when they're in season and frozen when they're not. I eat them for dessert and snacks. I add them to salads, mix them into yogurt, or blend them into smoothies. They also make simple and delicious sweet or savory sauces. Their tart fruit flavor pairs especially well with fattier meats like duck and meats with stronger flavors like salmon, pheasant, lamb, and venison. Berry-based savory sauces can rescue lean meats that turn out dry, like turkey and pork, and they can dress up mild-tasting meats that could use more flavor, like chicken. 

#4  Organic Whole Milk Yogurt 
Fermented foods like yogurt support a healthy balance of the intestinal bacteria that aid digestion, reduce inflammation, regulate the immune system, and prevent invasion by disease-causing microorganisms. Because popular yogurt brands can contain more sugar than a Twinkie, I always buy plain whole milk yogurt and add my own fresh or frozen fruit when I want it sweeter. I also add yogurt to smoothies and use it to garnish spicy dishes like Red Bean Chili with Dark Chocolate and Blackened Wild Salmon. I use it to make desserts like clafoutis and creamsicles,  savory dishes like Chicken Tikka Malsala and Fish Cakes with Lemon Yogurt Sauce, and dressings like Marinated Cucumber Salad with Yogurt and Mint.

#5  Raw Nuts
All nuts are full of protein and the raw ones are also full of healthy fat. I add them to salads, stir fry them with leafy greens, and eat them for snacks. I use them to make veggie burgers, home-made granola bars, pesto, Eggplant Walnut Paté, lettuce wraps, and all kinds of healthy treats like Raw Chocoate Truffles. Because the anti-inflammatory fatty acids in nuts are fragile and easily oxidized when exposed to high temperatures (which turns them into harmful pro-inflammatory fats) I never buy them already roasted. When I prefer a toasted flavor, I warm raw nuts over low heat in a dry skillet until they become lightly browned and fragrant.

4 Things I Learned in Japan


I have so many memories from my recent trip to Japan. Cherry trees bursting with blossoms. Traditional wooden buildings and hanging lanterns. Peaceful temples and tranquil gardens. The stillness of a bamboo forest. The striking contrast between old and new. Futuristic cities with glittering nightscapes. The blur of the countryside from the window of a bullet train. Warm seats on high-tech toilets. The brilliant design of everyday items like bicycle kickstands. And the diverse sights, textures, and flavors of the foods I ate.

7 Reasons to Go Biking

Last weekend I participated in New York City's 40-mile Five Boro Bike Tour. We started in lower Manhattan, cycled up through midtown, Central Park, and Harlem, into the Bronx, south along the East River, over the Queensboro Bridge into Queens, through Brooklyn, and over the Verrazano Bridge into Staten Island. It was a great opportunity to see my city from a new perspective and connect with other people who love biking as much as I do.

What do I love about it?

Making Matcha


Green tea is good for detoxification, and matcha is especially good.

Detox Facts and Fiction

Environmental toxins are chemicals in the environment that are harmful to our health. They begin to accumulate before we’re even born and the older we get, the more toxins our bodies contain. So far, scientists have detected 232 different chemicals in the cord blood of newborn infants and 493 different chemicals in people of all ages.

As our awareness of environmental toxins and their impact on our health continues to grow, detox products and protocols are becoming increasingly popular, from fasting and raw food diets to foot baths and body wraps. But do these things really work? And what is detox anyway? A basic understanding of detoxification can clear up the misconceptions.

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In his book, Hippocrates’ Shadow: Secrets from the House of Medicine, David H. Newman, MD discusses how our health care system has become broken and how we can begin to repair it. He discloses how doctors have failed patients and explains why the doctor-patient relationship is critical to good care. He also addresses the NNT (number of patients that need to be treated for one patient to benefit) of various medical interventions and concludes that many common and costly screening tools are of no benefit when it comes to saving lives. This is an insightful and thought-provoking book for doctors and patients alike.

5 Powerful Spring Resolutions

New Year’s Day isn't the only time for resolutions. We should always be striving to improve ourselves. If you aren’t already, start now. Spring is a season of new beginnings and it's the perfect time to tune-up your diet and lifestyle.

Whether you want to feel better, look better, or set a better example to inspire loved ones to make much-needed changes themselves, these five resolutions will help you kick-start a commitment to revitalize your physical, mental, and emotional health.

Measles Prevention

While measles is a leading cause of death among children worldwide, it's rarely fatal in communities with accessible health care and good public hygiene.

A vaccine exists but parents and doctors alike have questioned whether the risks outweigh the benefits. Fortunately, there are other steps parents can take to help prevent kids from catching the measles, whether they have been immunized or not. I'll share with you my top five tips.

Greatest American Healers

I’ll speaking about prediabetes and detoxification at the upcoming Mondo Well event, “Greatest American Healers,” on March 30th at the New York Hilton in midtown Manhattan.

This event "highlights the very best integrative physicians from around New York City and introduces them and their inspirational message to those who value their life and understand the importance of laying the foundations for extreme wellness."

6 Tips for Preventing the Deadliest Diseases Among Men

Last week, in celebration of International Women's Day, I wrote about Preventing the Deadliest Diseases Among Women. This week I'm going to focus on men.

By far, the leading causes of death among men in the United States are heart disease (24.9%) and cancer (24.4%), followed by unintentional injuries (6.2%) and chronic lower respiratory diseases (5.3%).

The two conditions that kill the most men - heart disease and cancer - have two underlying factors in common: inflammation and environmental toxicity. Excessive inflammatory activity and exposure to harmful chemicals in the environment promote heart disease as well as cancer.

Men can reduce their risk of dying from heart disease or cancer by adopting diet and lifestyle habits that reduce inflammation and minimize exposure to environmental toxins. These six tips will get you started.

6 Tips for Preventing the Deadliest Diseases Among Women

In celebration of International Women's Day today, I'm sharing my top tips to help women prevent the leading causes of death and live longer, happier, healthier lives.

Giving Probiotics to Chickens Improves Food Safety

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year at least 2 million people in the United States become infected with bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. At least 23,000 people die annually as a direct result of these infections and many more die from related complications. 

DIY Fire Cider Winter Tonic


Fire cider* is a spicy vinegar-based tonic used to promote good health during winter months. This folk remedy has a long tradition of varied uses which include
  • Clearing congestion
  • Fighting infections
  • Improving digestion
  • Curing hangovers
  • Increasing circulation

Thriving After Cancer the authors of The Definitive Guide to Cancer comes The Definitive Guide to Thriving After Cancer. Inside Dr. Lise Alschuler and Karolyn Gazella discuss how five of the body's most important pathways influence genetic expression and determine the state of our health, and how we can support each pathway to reduce the risk of cancer recurrence and achieve optimal health.

Chocolate Toothpaste Strengthens Teeth

Tooth enamel can wears thin when we drink too many acidic beverages. This causes the underlying dentin to become exposed and teeth to become sensitive.

A new study found that using toothpaste containing theobromine, a compound found in chocolate, was more effective at repairing tooth enamel than Colgate or Sensodyne.

Chemotherapy Care Packages

Now that cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, it's not uncommon to know someone going through chemotherapy.

Chemo targets fast-growing cells like cancer cells, but it also affects normal cells that grow quickly like hair follicles, blood-forming cells in the bone marrow, and cells in the mouth, gastrointestinal tract, and reproductive system. Chemotherapeutic drugs can also affect cells in the lungs, heart, nervous system, kidneys and bladder.

When healthy cells get damaged, side effects occur. People experience chemotherapy differently and some have more side effects than others. While each drug can cause specific symptoms, many kinds of chemotherapy have some side effects in common. These include hair loss, mouth sores, changes in skin and nails, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, anemia, constipation or diarrhea, weight gain, bruising or bleeding, increased risk of infection, and problems with nerves, muscles, kidneys or the bladder.

During chemotherapy, patients need all the support that they can get. If you know someone going through cancer treatment, put together a care package for him or her. Here are some things to include:

Why Statins Aren't the Answer to Heart Disease and What Matters Most

The American Heart Association's new set of guidelines for the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs to prevent heart disease makes millions of healthy people the targets of statin medications that they don't need, for reasons that are not evident.

There have been lots of statin studies, but not a lot of good studies on statins. Many have been tainted by unreliable and ethically questionable research methods including "selective reporting of outcomes, failure to report adverse events and inclusion of people with cardiovascular disease" in studies meant to exclude such people.

If we look at randomized, placebo-controlled trials, which are the gold standard when it comes to scientific research, statins have zero effect on overall mortality.

Stopping Smoking Has Suprising Benefits on Life Expectancy

There is some very good news for smokers: it's never too late to quit. A recent study showed that quitting smoking at any age, regardless of how long you've been smoking, can have dramatic effects on life expectancy.

Researchers at the Center for Global Health Research in Toronto studied 113,752 women and 88,496 men between 25 and 79 years of age. They found that compared to people who never smoked, current smokers had a three times higher risk of dying from any cause and their life expectancy was 10 years shorter.

They also found that people who quit smoking between the ages of 25 and 34 gained back all 10 years of life expectancy they would have lost if they had

Read This Before You Get a Flu Shot

Cold and flu season is upon us and everyone older than 6 months is being encouraged to get a flu shot even though flu shots are not effective in kids under the age of two and last year the flu shot was only 56% effective overall, only 27% effective in adults 65 years and older, and only 9% effective against the worst flu virus (type A H3N2) in seniors.

Even the CDC admits that: