Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

The latest nutritional fad seems to be to ingest more and more protein.  We see it everywhere- this snack is “Packed with Protein”, and “make sure to get enough protein at every meal”.  I hear it all the time at the gym… “What kind of protein powder do you use in your shakes”.  I also see guys add 3 scoops of protein powder to their shaker bottle at 30 grams of protein per scoop- which equals 90 grams of protein in one “recovery shake”.

Most research studies state that the human body can only process between 25 and 35 grams of protein at one time, so ingesting more than that at any one time and your body may not be able to absorb it all.

Getting too much protein, especially long-term, can even lead to dangerous side effects and may cause health problems. The 2006 review in the “International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism” reports that excess protein can exceed your liver’s ability to properly break down and excrete the protein, which can lead to toxin buildup in your blood or even death. A study published in 2012 in the “American Journal of Kidney Disease” found that following a high-protein diet over the long term may lead to kidney disease.

The use of protein powders is a relatively new dietary staple for many people.  The real question should be:

How Much Protein Do We Really Need?

I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times that specifically addresses this question.

“The recommended intake for a healthy adult is 46 grams of protein a day for women and 56 grams for men. And while protein malnutrition is a problem for millions of people around the globe, for the average adult in developed countries, we are eating far more protein than we actually need.

Most American adults eat about 100 grams of protein per day, or roughly twice the recommended amount. Even on a vegan diet people can easily get 60 to 80 grams of protein throughout the day from foods like beans, legumes, nuts, broccoli and whole grains.

The Hartman Group, a consumer research firm that has been conducting a study of American food culture over the past 25 years and counting, has found that nearly 60 percent of Americans are now actively trying to increase their protein intake. Many are avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrates and turning to protein-rich foods, snacks and supplements. The firm calls protein “the new low-fat” or “the new low-carb,” even “the new everything when it comes to diet and energy.”

“Soccer moms feel they can’t be anywhere without protein,” says Melissa Abbott, the firm’s vice president for culinary insights. “Really it’s that we’ve been eating so many highly processed carbs for so long. Now it’s like you try nuts, or you try an egg again, or fat even” to feel full and help you “get through the day.”

In her research, Ms. Abbott said she always seems to be finding beef jerky in gym bags and purses, and protein bars in laptop bags or glove compartments. Many consumers, she notes, say they are afraid that without enough protein they will “crash,” similar to the fear of crashing, or “bonking,” among those who are elite athletes.

But most of us are getting more than enough protein. And few seem to be aware that there may be long term risks of consuming too much protein, including a potential increased risk of kidney damage.

If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading this article from the New York Times “Can you Get Too Much Protein?”

If you have any questions about this blog, or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at



Slow Rise Bread, Easier to Digest

If you are like Millions of Americans that are avoiding eating bread for one reason or another, maybe after reading this blog you might give bread a second chance.  I think most people love bread in one form or another, yet the current media perception is that most people should not include it in their diet.  I personally ate tons of bread in the form of bagels, muffins, pasta, etc… growing up with no ill effects.  As I got older I started to notice that many forms of “bread” caused me to feel really bloated.  Many people develop gluten intolerance as they get older and that could be what my problem was.

In March,2017 I wrote a blog about including fermented food in your diet:

Recently a good friend of mine suggested I try some “slow rise” bread.  He told me that it was much easier for him to digest.  I have now become a happy bread eater again. This time I’m sticking to bread that has been made the “old fashioned” way.  This “old way” actually allows the bread to ferment some, which for many people makes all the difference in the world as to how their body digests it.

This article below explains some of the health benefits of eating slow rise bread.

In the long slow fermentation that produces sourdough bread, important nutrients such as iron, zinc and magnesium, antioxidants, folic acid and other B vitamins become easier for our bodies to absorb. Diabetics should note that sourdough produces a lower surge in blood sugar than any other bread: in a 2008 study published in Acta Diabetologica, subjects with impaired glucose tolerance were fed either sourdough or ordinary bread: the sourdough bread produced a significantly lower glucose and insulin response. In the sourdough process, moreover, gluten is broken down and rendered virtually harmless. In one small Italian study, published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, in January 2011, coeliac patients fed sourdough bread for 60 days had no clinical complaints, and their biopsies showed no changes in the intestinal lining.

And what’s beyond doubt is that when people switch from supermarket to sourdough bread, they’re often delighted to find they can eat it without bloated belly discomfort. “We get people coming in who say ‘we can eat your bread without any problem unlike ordinary bread which just blows us up”, says Alastair Ferguson, of Brighton’s Real Patisserie, who sells his own sourdough all over the city.

You may ask why isn’t all bread made this way?  The answer is in the word “slow”, slow rise bread takes longer to make. In our fast-paced world… who has time to wait for bread to rise all night? That is where quick-acting yeast came in – oh yes, the big companies are always looking for short cuts. Mass production is more important to them than how your belly feels after eating their bread. They can make a lot more bread in the same amount of time, and sell it cheaper- since it is less labor intensive.

Personally, I think it is worth a few more pennies to eat something that I can digest more easily, and I also think it tastes better.  Where can you get some?  Well, there is a terrific bakery in West Concord Massachusetts called Nashoba Brook Bakery on the shores of the Nashoba Brook.  Don’t want to drive out there?  Well, Whole Foods in Framingham sells Nashoba Brook Bakery slow rise bread. Just look for it adjacent to the instore bakery.

Here is a link to Nashoba Brook Bakery’s web site:

Give it a try, you might be pleasantly surprised at how good it tastes, and more importantly, how good you feel after eating it.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at:


Time to get “Pickled”

I happen to have a friend that I swim with 3 times a week that is an excellent Nutritionist.  She often gives nutritional tips to me and the other guys that swim in our lane.  One thing that she recently suggested was to “eat something fermented every day”.

Personally, I have started eating “Pickled Beets”, about one serving every day, and now my digestion has been noticeably better.  I was intrigued by this and I started to read about many of the other benefits of eating fermented foods. I wanted to share a few links that highlight many of the benefits of eating fermented foods on a regular basis.

This first link is to an article written by Dr. David Williams- he is a medical researcher, biochemist, and a Chiropractor.  Dr. David Williams has developed a reputation as one of the world’s leading authorities on natural healing.

A couple of the highlights of his article are how fermented foods balance the production of stomach acid, they help produce acetylcholine- which also aids in digestion, and they improve pancreatic function- which is beneficial to people with Diabetes.

This next article explains how eating fermented foods helps balance the bacteria in our digestive systems, and how they improve bowel health and improve our immunity.  Another bonus, fermented foods will also help you absorb more nutrients from the food you eat.

One more link for you to look at here was written by Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS.  He is a certified doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic and clinical nutritionist with a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine.  He lists his 10 Healthiest Fermented Foods and Vegetables here:

Dr. David Williams says: “Modern Society is Losing Fermented Foods”.  Unfortunately, over the past century many probiotic foods have fallen from favor due to changes in the way we now preserve foods, particularly vegetables.

“When fresh vegetables weren’t as readily available throughout the year, they were often preserved through fermentation. Nowadays, thanks to improved transportation and storage, we can buy various vegetables all year around; and when it comes to preserving vegetables, freezing and canning have become the methods of choice. These techniques are convenient and help retain vitamin content, but they provide little benefit in terms of digestive health compared to fermentation.”

Dr. Williams top fermented foods: Homemade Sauerkraut; Fermented Veggies; Fermented Soy Products; and Kefir.

So, do your gut a favor and try adding some fermented foods to your diet.

If you have any questions about this blog or your health in general, please feel free to contact me at


Did You Know ALL This About Magnesium???

Magnesium seems to be a hot topic today in the supplement field, so I wanted to dig around a little and present some information to you all about what exactly Magnesium is, what is does, where you can find sources of this mineral, who is at risk to be deficient, and what some of the signs or symptoms are.

Did most of you know that magnesium is a mineral?  Magnesium is also a co-factor in relation to over 300 enzyme systems that control complex biochemical reactions throughout the body.   Muscle and nerve function, regulation of blood pressure, blood glucose control, energy production, protein synthesis, transporting calcium and potassium across cell membranes, bone structural development, and synthesis of DNA/RNA, are some of the most important reactions Magnesium helps to regulate.  I honestly didn’t realize that Magnesium contributed to ALL of these things plus more.

The balance of Magnesium in greatly controlled by the kidneys.  The kidney excretes around 120mg of magnesium into the urine each day. There is about 25g of magnesium in the adult body, and over have of it resides in the bones and the rest in the soft tissue.  There is only a very small amount of magnesium that resides in the actual blood serum.  With that being said, it can be a little more difficult to test, and usually a combination of blood tests, urinalysis, saliva tests, and a thorough consultation are performed to be sure one could be deficient.

There are a wide variety of beverages, animal and plant foods that have magnesium in them.  Tap, mineral and bottled water contain certain levels of magnesium in them.  Nuts, seeds, spinach, legumes, and whole grains contain a good level of magnesium as well.  Fortified foods and cereals may contain added amounts of magnesium, but some types of food processing actually lower the content of magnesium.  Personally, I recommend trying to find magnesium through more natural food sources, not cereal or processed foods if can be helped.  And though you may think you are taking in a fair amount of magnesium through your diet, about 30-40% of dietary magnesium is actually absorbed by the body.

Listed below from The National Institute of Health are some food sources and the levels of magnesium found in them:

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Magnesium [10]
Food Milligrams
(mg) per
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce 80 20
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup 78 20
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce 74 19
Peanuts, oil roasted, ¼ cup 63 16
Cereal, shredded wheat, 2 large biscuits 61 15
Soymilk, plain or vanilla, 1 cup 61 15
Black beans, cooked, ½ cup 60 15
Edamame, shelled, cooked, ½ cup 50 13
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 tablespoons 49 12
Bread, whole wheat, 2 slices 46 12
Avocado, cubed, 1 cup 44 11
Potato, baked with skin, 3.5 ounces 43 11
Rice, brown, cooked, ½ cup 42 11
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 8 ounces 42 11
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 10% of the DV for magnesium 40 10
Oatmeal, instant, 1 packet 36 9
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup 35 9
Banana, 1 medium 32 8
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces 26 7
Milk, 1 cup 24–27 6–7
Halibut, cooked, 3 ounces 24 6
Raisins, ½ cup 23 6
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces 22 6
Beef, ground, 90% lean, pan broiled, 3 ounces 20 5
Broccoli, chopped and cooked, ½ cup 12 3
Rice, white, cooked, ½ cup 10 3
Apple, 1 medium 9 2
Carrot, raw, 1 medium 7 2

The National Institute of Health also states that the daily recommended amount of magnesium consumed by an adult be between 310-420 mg per female and male, respectively.  Now this may vary between each individual based on their health history and daily life.  It is always recommended that if one is concerned to please consult a qualified health care professional.

Some groups that are more subject than others to have inadequate levels of magnesium are people with gastrointestinal diseases, people with migraines, people with Type II Diabetes, people with alcohol dependencies, older adults, especially those dealing with osteoporosis, and people with hypertension and/or cardiovascular disease.  These groups are more likely to consume insufficient quantities of magnesium, or have a medical condition or take medications that affect the absorption of magnesium in the gut.

Some signs that you are someone may be deficient in magnesium include, but are not subject to: reduced urinary excretion, nausea, vomiting, weakness, fatigue, loss of appetite.  If the deficiency continues to get worse, numbness, tingling, muscle contractions, cramps, personality changes, seizures, irregular heart rhythms or coronary spasms can take place.  Severe issues can involve low blood calcium and potassium levels as well.

I hope that this has been informative to all of you reading this.  Should you have any questions or concerns in regards to magnesium, please feel free to contact any of the doctor’s at PHC or your PCP for further questions or concerns.  If you are someone that takes a magnesium supplement, or is looking too, Metagenics carries very high quality magnesium supplements, some of which we carry at our office.  Metagenics brand is very well known in the medical field, and may also be something your PCP may carry in their office as well.




Need Sleep?

How did you sleep last night?  If you answered not well, you are not alone!  30% of all Americans have sleeping problems.  The National Institute of Health recommends 7-9 hours a sleep for adults (18-64 years old).  If you are not getting the minimum hours of sleep you put yourself at risk. Sleep is vital for good health and healing.

New research has shown that the brain cleans itself when you sleep. The brain actually shrinks and there is a significant increase of cerebrospinal fluid pumped into and out of the brain.  This action washes away proteins that are toxic to your brain cells. Without a good night sleep these toxins build up. Beta Amyloid, which forms sticky plaques in the brain and is associated with Alzhiemers, is one of the waste products removed from the brain when you sleep.

Web MD lists 10 serious effects of sleep loss: 1- Increased accidents (100,000 fatigue related car accidents a year); 2-Dumbs you down; 3-Increased risk of serious health problems (including- heart disease & stroke); 4- Kills sex drive; 5-Depression; 6- Ages your skin; 7- Forgetfulness; 8- Weight Gain; 9- Increased risk of death;  and 10- Impairs judgement.

You know who you are.  Do you lie in bed at night wired?  Are you sending out emails a 2 or 4 AM?   Do you feel like your brain is in a fog most of the day?  Chances are you are sleep deprived.  There are dozens of reputable websites which have tips for a good night’s sleep.  These tips include: exercising regularly; avoiding caffeine products after 3pm; No TV or electronic devices  in the bedroom;  keeping your bedroom dark; going to sleep the same time every night; avoiding back-lit reading devices before bed; avoid big meals in the evening; avoid alcohol before bed; get fresh air during the day; and there are more.

What if you do these things and you still can’t consistently get a good night’s sleep?   There are prescription medications and some over-the –counter products you can try. The problem is that many of them have side effects.  They can also cause you to wake up feeling “out of it” and not well rested.

There is a sleep aide that has been used for 1000s of years and has no down-side. It is not addictive and there are no side-effects.  I have been recommending this herbal supplement for years to my patients who complain of not being able to sleep.  The herb is Valerian root, and I recommend the Metagenics formula MyoCalm PM.  In addition to Valerian root it also contains magnesium and calcium which relax muscles.  There is also Passionflower, hops and lemon balm, which also have calming effects.

Two weeks ago we were having dinner with some friends, only to hear for the 1st time that the father and oldest child were having significant sleep problems.  They had tried everything and were at wits end, especially for the teenager.  I told them about Valerian root and they were more than willing to try it.  The great news is that both are sleeping much better!

So, if you do not sleep well at night and you have exhausted all the most popular tips, why not give Valerian root a try.   We always have MyoCalm PM in the office.   If you are reading this at 3 AM because you can not sleep, you can even order metagenics products on-line.  Go to  and create an account.  You get 20% off your 1st order and the shipping is always free!

3 Foods to Add to Your Diet This Fall…(with Recipes)


Pumpkin not only tastes and smells nice, it also packs a powerful nutrition punch. One cup of cooked pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which aids vision, particularly in dim light, according to the National Institutes of Health.  Pumpkins are rich in carotenoids, the compounds that give the gourd their bright orange color, which the body converts into vitamin A for eyesight protection. Pumpkin is also a good source of fiber and low on calories. Per one cup there are three grams of fiber, and only 49 calories. Another healthy part of the pumpkin is the seed! Pumpkin seeds are rich in the amino acid tryptophan.  If you look back to my past two articles you’ll be able to read about how important tryptophan is for mental health. It is necessary in the production of serotonin – your happy hormone. A handful of roasted pumpkin seeds may help boost a low mood.  Another hidden benefit of pumpkin is its potassium level. A cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana! Try pumpkin if you get cramps. Pumpkin is also a good source of Vitamin C- with all the colds floating around, you can’t get enough!

 Favorite Pumpkin Recipe this Fall

Pumpkin Chili 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 1 jalapeño, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (NOT pie filling)


In a large dutch oven heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Brown the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they start to develop color. Add in the bell pepper and jalapeño and cook until soft.

Crumble in the ground beef and brown. Once browned add in the tomatoes, broth, and spices. Simmer 5 minutes then add in the pumpkin. Continue to cook for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld together.

Divide between 6 bowls and garnish with cilantro.

wicked spatula


People typically think of blueberries or spinach when they think of a “superfood”, but cranberries actually contain more antioxidants! They are one of the top antioxidant-rich foods.  Cranberries are also known for helping to prevent UTIs. The high level of proanthocyanidins (PACs) in cranberries helps reduce the adhesion of certain bacteria to the urinary tract walls, in turn fighting off infections. Azo tabs for UTIs can be found at CVS, and work wonders if you can’t eat the full cranberry. Cranberry juice is not as effective and the sugar may aggravate a smoldering UTI. Cranberries may also be effective in reducing cardiovascular disease. The polyphenols prevent platelet build-up and reduce blood pressure. Research has also shown that cranberries are beneficial in slowing tumor progression and have shown positive effects against prostate, liver, breast, ovarian, and colon cancers.

 Favorite Cranberry Recipes this Fall

Smoothies– Toss a handful of cranberries (fresh, or frozen whole, with no sugar added) into your favorite smoothie for a boost of antioxidants.  My favorite blend: Unsweetened almond milk, and a blend of fresh or frozen blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. (Pumpkin also tastes great in a smoothie!)

Roasted cranberries– They’re a delicious addition to salads or whole grains like quinoa or brown rice: Simply toss two cups cranberries with two teaspoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of chopped fresh mint, and one tablespoon of raw sugar or natural sugar replacer. Roast at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes until they’re soft and slightly caramelized.  

Sweet Potatoes:

Many people believe that sweet potatoes are one of the world’s most perfect foods! They are so easy to roast up or microwave, they taste great, and give long term energy. They are lower than white potatoes on the glycemic index scale meaning they don’t increase your blood sugar as quickly. It’s better for avoiding sugar crashes and better for diabetes control, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Sweet potatoes are also high in potassium. One cup of sweet potatoes supplies 950 milligrams! So, along with your pumpkin, add some sweet potato!  A serving of sweet potatoes is also very high in vitamin A. It supplies 1,922 micrograms, that keeps your eyes, skin, teeth and bones healthy. This is more than the 700 to 900 micrograms you need on a daily basis. They also contain a good amount of manganese which may benefit those with PMS. One study found that boosting manganese intake from 1 mg to 5.6 mg of dietary manganese per day helped women with PMS to have fewer mood swings and cramps.

Favorite Sweet Potato Recipe this Fall

Sweet Potato Soup:


8 oz (1/2 lb or about 6 strips) bacon, diced
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large celery stock, diced
2 lbs (3 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves
4 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk (I used “original”)
2 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp parsley to garnish, optional


  1. In a large pot, or French Oven, over medium heat, cook bacon in it’s own fat until crisp (8­-10 min). Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate. Leave 3 Tbsp oil in the pot; discard excess or leave it in there for a more flavorful soup.
  2. Add chopped onion, and celery and cook 4 min or until soft, stirring occasionally, then add 2 pressed garlic cloves and saute another minute.
  3. Stir in diced sweet potatoes, ½ tsp dried thyme leaves and 2 tsp salt. Now pour in 4 cups chicken broth, partially cover and simmer 20 min or until sweet potatoes are easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Puree soup until smooth. I accomplished this in two batches in my Blender. Return soup to pot and stir in 1 cup coconut milk, or add it to reach desired consistency then season with more salt and pepper to taste if desired. Serve in warm bowls. Sprinkle the tops with bacon and garnish with chopped parsley, if using.

The Connection Between Nutrition & Mental Health Episode 2: Anxiety

Last month I wrote about the connection between nutrition and depression. This month let’s consider the connection to anxiety. According the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. 40 million adults—18% of the population—who struggle with anxiety. Depression and anxiety often go hand and hand, but the treatment, and nutritional deficiencies can vary.

One of the major factors contributing to anxiety is an imbalance in gut flora, or, too much bad bacteria and not enough good bacteria. The gut-brain connection is very important, since about 95% of serotonin receptors are found in the lining of the gut. There are many studies being done on this topic.

  • There’s evidence that healthy gut bacteria actually produces and regulates the amount of neurotransmitters in the brain (such as serotonin, dopamine, and GABA), which can affect mood, pain, and cognition.
  • Stephen Collins, a gastroenterology researcher at McMaster University, has done a lot of research in the field and discovered that unhealthygut bacteria play a key role in causing abnormal behavior, including anxiety and depression. On the other hand, certain strains of good bacteria can reduce stress hormones and anxious behavior. In one study, Collins took the gut bacteria of anxious mice and transplanted it into calm mice. After the transplant, the calm mice started acting nervously. Collins has also seen the same results with humans.
  • Studies by Dr. John Cryan, a neuropharmacologist and microbiome expert at the University College Cork, shows that gut bacteria can alter brain chemistry.  He found that after eliminating the good bacteria in mice, they act in ways that mimic human anxiety, depression, and autism. And in one of his studies, two strains of bacteria were more effective than anantidepressant at treating anxiety and depression.
  • Another study showed that probiotics can help you naturally produce more GABA, a relaxing amino acid, and neurotransmitter. Amazingly, this same study showed that probiotics not only help your body produce more GABA, but they enhance the sensitivity of the GABA receptors in your brain, making you more susceptible to calming effects of your natural GABA production.
  • There is a study that suggests that young adults experience less social anxiety if they eat fermented food, and another study shows that yogurt eaters experience positive changes in brain function that cause them to react more calmly to visual stimuli.
  • Phil Burnet, a neurobiologist at Oxford University, published a paper in 2015 showing that people who ingested probiotics have lower levels of cortisol, a key stress hormone
  • Other research by Burnet shows that prebiotics support overall brain health in humans and foster the growth of probiotics in mice, which leads to increased levels of several neurotransmitters that reduced anxiety-like behavior. Prebiotic-rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, asparagus, and squash.

What to eat to lessen anxiety

Probiotic Rich Foods:  kefir (if not sensitive to dairy), sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, yogurt (if not sensitive to dairy). Taking a quality probiotic supplement with multiple strains is also beneficial.

Prebiotic Rich Foods (what probiotics eat): chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, onion, banana

Complex Carbohydrates: barley, beans, quinoa, sweet potato. Complex carbohydrates are metabolized more slowly and therefore help maintain a more even blood sugar level, which creates a calmer feeling.

Antibiotic- Free Meats: antibiotics and cause major disruption in the gut flora. Choosing meats without antibiotics can lessen the bacteria disruption in your gut.

Zinc Rich Foods: oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks. Enzymes containing zinc are necessary for the synthesis of serotonin.

Tryptophan Rich Foods: oat , poultry, spirulina, pistachio, chia seeds and sesame seeds. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin.

Magnesium Rich Foods: leafy greens such as spinach, avocado, figs, dark chocolate, legumes, nuts, and seeds. You can also bathe in Epsom salts. A study in France of 264 patients with generalized anxiety disorder found that a statistically significant number of men and women reported improvements on a magnesium regimen.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids:  fish, flax seed, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acids can help prevent anxiety by increasing the functionality of serotonin.



How to Eat Healthy When You’re Busy

Summer tends to bring an endless supply of beach trips, cookouts, and weekends away. Often the family schedule has shifted. Many of my clients are asking me, “How do I eat healthy when I’m so busy?”  Here are some tips to help you through the rest of the summer:

  1. Prepare lunch ahead of time-It is very difficult to find a quality meal when on the go, and being prepared can prevent a pit stop at the cafeteria or your favorite fast food restaurant. Most people find if they prepare on Sundays and Wednesdays it works out best. Backup plan– If you do forget your lunch swing by a grocery store and pick up some items to make your lunch at work.
  2. Have a good breakfast – Many people think that they don’t have time for breakfast. Just wake up 15 minutes earlier to eat this important meal. This prevents overeating at lunchtime. Backup plan– Smoothie! You can make a smoothie and be out the door in less than 5 minutes. You could even make it the evening before and keep it in the fridge.
  3. Pack snacks– Keep snacks in your car, in your purse, at work. Kind Bars, Square Bars, apples, and carrots tend to hold up best. Backup plan– Starbucks and CVS both carry Kind Bars and fruit.
  4. Meal “guiding”- Meal Planning tends to have a low success rate when you’re busy, so try creating a dinner guide. A guide is less specific so you can swap out items you don’t have without feeling pressure to stick to a strict plan. This will also help you have an idea of what you’re going to have for dinner while grocery shopping, and reduce the waste of leftovers. A meal guide might look something like: Monday- Chicken, veg, quinoa. Tuesday- leftover chicken stir fry with veg. Wednesday- sweet potato noodles and veg.
  5. Fill up on Vegetables– When on you way to a cookout, or to dine out, remember to focus on filling up on vegetables. Plan to have at least half your plate full of color. Backup plan-If you’re not feeling veggies, pick an appetizer for dinner, like mini tacos. You can fill up and satisfy your craving without going overboard.
  6. Alternate Meals/Leftovers– When you cook, make enough for 2-3 meals. Generally whatever you had for dinner, have it for lunch the next day. If you don’t enjoy having the same meal two times in a row, stick it in the freezer and you’ll have a frozen dinner to eat over the next few weeks.

Planning is key, but things don’t always go as planned. If something gets in the way of your goal, don’t beat yourself up about it, but also don’t wait until Monday to get back on track. Have that meal or snack, and then start fresh again. Don’t skip any meals because you felt you ate “bad” food, just let it go and move on. Adding mindfulness into your eating may help you do that more easily. Read about that in my April blog. If you are in need of more specific guidance please schedule a free consultation with Shauna McHugh, MS, CNS by calling 508-655-9008 or emailing .

Should Your Meat be Organic?

Last month I wrote about how to navigate the grocery store in order to choose the best fruits and vegetables for your health. This month I thought we would take a look at the meat we consume.  According to many television commercials the cows, pigs and chickens we eat are raised on green pastures, and free to roam, but is this really the case? There are major environmental, health, and animal welfare differences between conventional meat and organic meat.

According to, each full-grown chicken in a factory (conventional) farm has as little as six-tenths of a square foot of space. Because of the crowding, they often become aggressive and sometimes eat each other. This has led to the painful practice of de-beaking the brids. Due to genetic manipulation, 90% of broiler chickens have trouble walking. In addition, hogs become aggressive in tight spaces and often bite each other’s tails, which has caused many farmers to cut the tails off. Fortunately we do not see this occurring as we purchase our meat from the grocery store! Organic farmers practice humane treatment and slaughter of their animals. If you are interested in learning more about animal welfare there are a number of documentaries available on Netflix like Forks Over Knives, Food Matters, Fed Up, GMO OMG, Food Inc, and many more.

Even if we didn’t take the humane treatment of animals into consideration, there are many additional health and environmental reasons to buy organic. Organic Consumers states, According to the Environmental Protection Agency, hog, chicken and cattle waste has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and contaminated groundwater in 17 states.  Pfiesteria, a microscopic organism that feeds off the phosphorus and nitrogen found in manure, is a lethal toxin harmful to both humans and fish. In 1991 alone, 1,000,000,000,000 (one billion) fish were killed by pfiesteria in the Neuse River in North Carolina. In addition, the overuse of antibiotics in animals is causing more strains of drug-resistant bacteria, which is affecting the treatment of various life-threatening diseases in humans. The Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences has estimated the annual cost of treating antibiotic-resistant infections in the U.S. at $30 billion. Fifty million pounds of antibiotics are produced in the U.S. each year. Twenty million pounds are given to animals, of which 80% (16 million pounds) is used on livestock merely to promote more rapid growth. The remaining 20% is used to help control the multitude of diseases that occur under such tightly confined conditions, including anemia, influenza, intestinal diseases, mastitis, metritis, orthostasis, and pneumonia. (organic states that many people are concerned about hormones found in the conventional food supply, and for good reason. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy reports that hormones given to beef cattle end up in meat and in people who consume that meat — and there may be a link between hormones in food and increased incidences of certain types of cancer, thyroid diseases, obesity, diabetes, endometriosis, uterine fibroids, infertility, asthma and allergies. Hormones can end up in animal feed when the fats of other animals are added to non-organic feeds. Organic farmers don’t use hormones or antibiotics in their animals.

The following guidelines must be met in order to be certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA):

  1. Must be raised organically on certified organic land
  2. Must be fed certified organic feed
  3. No antibiotics or added growth hormones are allowed
  4. Must have outdoor access
  5. The animals’ organic feed cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered material
  6. In addition, a third-party certifier inspects these farms and ranches annually to ensure the organic standards are met.

However, there is a substantial fee that farmers must pay in order to be labelled organic. Because of that fee you may see many farms who raise their animals in a sustainable, organic way, but aren’t able to claim the organic label. These are perfectly fine to eat! The best way to figure out where your food is coming from is to visit your local farm and don’t be afraid to ask questions! The website gives great questions to ask your farmer!

Nutritionally speaking, there are many studies that show grass-fed, organic meats have higher levels of those healthy omega-3s, and less pesticide residue. Nutritionally, they tend to be similar in composition, but organic foods are lacking added hormones, antibiotics  and pesticides, are better for the environment, and better for the animals!


If you don’t have access to a farm, farmer’s market or CSA- Whole Foods is a great option to learn about your meat. The meats are labeled  numbers  1-5+ so you can choose what fits best for your goals.














Check  out to find local farms,  markets and other sustainable sources of food.



  • Natural or all natural – This label means “minimally processed” and that the meat can’t have any artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or any other artificial ingredients in it. Animals can still be given antibiotics or growth enhancers and meat can be injected with salt, water, and other ingredients. For example, this term can be applied to all raw cuts of beef since they aren’t processed. The natural label does not reflect how the animal was raised or fed, which makes it fairly meaningless.
  • Naturally raised – This claim should be followed by a specific statement, such as “naturally raised without antibiotics or growth hormones” in order to obtain USDA approval. Read different labels carefully to understand what naturally raised really means to the piece of meat you’re buying.
  • Grass-fed – This term claims that the animals are fed solely on a diet of grass or hay and have continuous access to the outdoors. Cattle are naturally ruminants that eat grass, so they tend to be healthier and leaner when fed this way. In addition, grass fed beef has been shown to have more of the healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, if meat is labeled as grass fed but not certified organic, the animal may have been raised on pasture that was exposed to or treated with synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.
  • Free-range or free-roaming – Broadly, this term means that the animals weren’t confined to a cage and had access to the outdoors. Unfortunately, there are no requirements for the amount of time the animals spend outdoors or for the size of the outdoor space available. The terms free-range or free-roaming also don’t apply to egg-laying hens. While it’s difficult to tell exactly what free range means on meat packaging, you can contact the producer directly for clarification.
  • Cage-free – The term means that egg-laying hens are not raised in cages. However, it does not necessarily mean they have access to the outdoors. Some eggs may carry the American Humane Certified label but many cage-free claims are not certified, making it a very misleading label.
  • Pasture-raised – This claims that the animals were not raised in confinement and had year-round access to the outside. Again, there are no requirements for exactly how much time the animals spend outside or the size of the outdoor space available, so it can be misleading.
  • No hormones added or hormone-free – This term indicates that animals are raised without the use of any added growth hormones. For beef and dairy products it can be helpful, but by law in the U.S., poultry, veal calves, and pigs cannot be given hormones, so don’t pay extra for chicken, veal, or pork products that use this label.
  • Certified Humane Raised and Handled – This is a voluntary certification regulated by the Humane Farm Animal Care, a non-profit organization aimed at ensuring the humane treatment of farm animals. The label means that animals have ample space, shelter, and gentle handling to limit stress, ample fresh water, and a diet without added antibiotics or hormones. Animals must be able to roam around and root without ever being confined to cages, crates, or tie stalls.


Why Buying Organic is Important: ‘The Dirty Dozen’ and ‘The Clean Fifteen’

Did you know the US uses an average of 10lbs of pesticides per person on our non- organic crops each year? These pesticides include herbicides, fungicides, insecticides, rodenticides, and antimicrobial substances. It has been well documented that pesticide use can cause serious health and environmental issues, but they are still abundant and very difficult to avoid. They are not only found in food, but also in our air, our water, and our homes.

According to Katie Valentine, “Glyphosate, the most popular weed-killer in the United States and a key ingredient in Monsanto-developed Roundup, is still used liberally even though the World Health Organization found last year that it likely causes cancer. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plans to place restrictions on the herbicide due to worries that it’s causing weed resistance in crops, but the agency doesn’t consider it a carcinogen, citing inadequate evidence.” The EPA is the group who regulates the use of pesticides. On their website,, they state, “Potential human risks range from short-term toxicity to long-term effects such as cancer and reproductive system disorders.”

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) toxicology profiles show there are 47 different types of pesticides used on non-organic apples. 6 of which are known or probable carcinogens, 16 suspected hormone disrupters, 5 neurotoxins, and 6 are developmental or reproductive toxins. Non-organic cucumbers have 86! 10 are known or probable carcinogens, 32 suspected hormone disrupters, 17 neurotoxins, and 10 are developmental or reproductive toxins. 54 different pesticides were found on non-organic spinach, including five that are linked to cancer. Peaches and pears that aren’t organic have the most pesticides found among the baby foods sampled (22 and 26, respectively). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved waxes, shellac, paraffin, palm oil, and synthetic resins for use on our non-organic fruits and vegetables. These are the same waxes used in furniture, floor and car waxes.

Check out for more information.

Many people ask if washing non-organic fruits and veggies is helpful. Unfortunately, it really isn’t. Many of the pesticides used today are “systemic,” meaning they are taken up by roots and distributed throughout the plant — so no amount of washing will remove them. According to one analysis, systemic pesticides now account for about 60% of dietary exposure. (

Because these chemicals are regulated individually, and one at a time we are unable to see the cumulative effect they may have on our bodies. The EPA sets limits on the amount of each pesticide that can be on each food item, but amazingly enough there is absolutely no limit to the number of different pesticides that can be on your food.

The Environmental Working Group recently released an updated version of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and ‘Clean Fifteen’- a simplified list of the fruits and vegetable you should buy organic, and the ones you can get away with buying conventional.
EWG’s 2016 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Dirty Dozen- BUY ORGANIC:                                  

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers
  13. Hot Peppers +
  14. Kale / Collard greens +


  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas frozen
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

Download the app, or print out a list from the website so you can bring it with you next time you go to the grocery store! (