Physical Therapy, Rehab, Fitness, Nutrition, Weight management & Wellness Coaching

Spring: The Season calls us to Renewal & Transformation

We are now about 1 week into Spring,  and with it the rites of the  season  which are: New life, Rebirth, and Renewal. The weather in certain parts of the country may still seem cold, and gloomy but the transformation is taking place nonetheless. We can sense it, and also feel its unmistakable presence. The sun is warming  the earth and bringing forth changes in the atmosphere and likewise in our spirits. We feel more alive, more energetic.

Spring is always a welcome visitor after a long, cold or dark winter. We are eager to shake off the heaviness and burdensome blanket winter has cast over us and all  the earth. It is fitting that this is also the season that we recognize the renewal and transformation that took place over 2,000 years ago when Jesus entered into his ‘winter’ and passion.

He knew the pain and challenges he would face when coming to earth. He accepted that those He had come to love, those He served, healed, and taught would betray Him and deny they even knew Him. At his darkest hour, fully knowing the kind of death he would endure, He  asked God :”Father, If you are willing, ‘take this cup from me, but not my will, but yours be done.”. Even then, at His lowest point, understanding He needed to fulfill the prophesy,  and suffer a  criminals’ death, He understood He needed to serve. He washed His disciples feet, and  offered His disciples one final teaching, a new commandment,: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Following his death, His many followers, went into hiding, fearful for their own lives. They were heart broken and grieving. They realized their  human weaknesses in denying Him, betraying Him and doubting His prophesy. Undoubtedly, they felt disappointed that the man they believed to be the Messiah, the man they witnessed heal the sick and welcome  and turn the hearts of sinners had been crucified, unable to save himself from the fate He came here to fulfill. They wanted to ‘control ‘ the outcome, yet were helpless and ineffective in doing so. Chaos and evil had seemingly changed forever what they hoped for.  They had witnessed him heal the sick and raise Lazarus from the dead and yet now He was gone. They were hopeless, afraid, disillusioned and felt abandoned. Their world was falling apart.  Or was it falling into place?

To experience true growth, renewal, restoration or in this case Resurrection, we need to be willing to ‘die’ to those things that prevent us from being our best selves becoming all we were intended to be.Such things as greed, a critical spirit, judgment, blame, resentment, bitterness and un-forgiveness. As long as we are holding on to  such feelings or attitudes we are blocking the transformative power of   love and our own healing.

We have all endured moments of darkness, fear or grief. We have all certainly witnessed the evil  that is present in our current world and find ourselves coming up short for answers. Our human minds cannot, and were never designed to, understand  the complexity of this life. Many things are a mystery and we will not understand them fully, while we are still walking this earth.This is where our faith, a gift, is refined and tested.. Will we fall into the trap of thinking we need to explain and prove all circumstances? We never will.  God’s ways are higher and better than our ways and He intends for us to depend on Him and trust the outcome.  He never disappoints. In the end, love wins.

Have a Blessed Easter and Spring!





Your Road Map from Holiday Chaos to Calm:Another year beckons…

Holistic Therapist

Many of us are fully immersed in the holiday madness and mayhem, and how we are feeling right now has much to do with how much of our ” to do list”  has  been checked off :shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, decorating and more shopping. For many, this time of the year also brings forth nostalgic feelings, sentiments  and memories of years gone by.  Buried deep in the psyche  most every other day of the year, are the stark reminders of the empty seat at the table; those we have loved so deeply that are now only with us  in spirit, children that have grown and moved away, memories that surge to our consciousness and  beg for attention despite the ‘busyness’ of the season. For anyone that deals with a chronic illness, this can be a particularly difficult time of the year.

Why is it that  around this hectic and stress filled time of the year when we  most…

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Your Road Map from Holiday Chaos to Calm:Another year beckons…

Many of us are fully immersed in the holiday madness and mayhem, and how we are feeling right now has much to do with how much of our ” to do list”  has  been checked off :shopping, wrapping, cooking, baking, decorating and more shopping. For many, this time of the year also brings forth nostalgic feelings, sentiments  and memories of years gone by.  Buried deep in the psyche  most every other day of the year, are the stark reminders of the empty seat at the table; those we have loved so deeply that are now only with us  in spirit, children that have grown and moved away, memories that surge to our consciousness and  beg for attention despite the ‘busyness’ of the season. For anyone that deals with a chronic illness, this can be a particularly difficult time of the year.

Why is it that  around this hectic and stress filled time of the year when we  most need to care for ourselves, physically, mentally and emotionally,  instead,we  are most  prone to self neglect? Neglect, that is,  of healthy eating, exercise routines,  or  tending to our own emotional needs. While, we are surrounded with seemingly limitless opportunities to indulge our appetites with cookies, pie, stuffing, mashed potatoes and other comforting foods, at the same time  we have literally no time to exercise, take a yoga class or even take a deep breath! If I can point out the obvious, this is not a good combination of events but quite frankly, a recipe for disaster!

While this may be a chaotic time on many levels,  and certainly  a catastrophic time for our diet and weight goals, it doesn’t have to be. I would like to share some thoughts on caring for yourself during a time when it is most  valuable and necessary!

1.Everything is Exactly as it should be: This is the first premise and the foundation of all others. In essence, acceptance of how things are, right here and right now, unloads a tremendous burden from our vigilant,  over active mind or “ego” that wants to  be in constant control.  The difficult part of acceptance is that many times, things don’t look the way we think they ‘should.’ It’s that curse of expectation, and sometimes we have to recognize that while we may not understand everything, or even like what’s happening,  that it will all be fine in the end. The solution: to fully surrender to what is. This is really an act of self love. A gift you can give yourself, moment by moment, one day at a time, starting now. This takes rehearsal and practice and  for  many of us, LOTS of rehearsal and practice!  OK, now that we have that one out of the way..

2 You are What you Eat. We have all heard some variation of this.  Most recently I read a quote from an unknown author that stated: “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake!” All kidding aside,  while we all realize that this is true on some level,  as a student of nutrition, I now have facts to back this up! It may seem pointless to bring up healthy eating at this time of the year, while we are in the midst of  numerous, taste bud  pleasing items at every turn.  In fact, the majority of people will deal with the 10-15 pounds that will accrue between Thanksgiving and Christmas with a new list of  diet and exercise resolutions for the New Year. Does this sound vaguely familiar?

I will bring up just 2 major points:  The first point:  You will eventually get good at whatever you practice the most. Practice makes perfect, and what we practice most, become our habits. Our habits determine our destiny. What habits are you practicing right now? Indulging in foods you know are unhealthy will reinforce the habit of eating unhealthy. This will certainly make for a challenge after the New Year when you, once again, swear off or otherwise deprive yourself of anything ‘fattening’. We all know that will power isn’t very powerful, after all, and in the long run doesn’t work. Willpower is a relatively new  concept, designed for the world  in which we currently live. Cavemen and women did not have will power. They hunted and gathered day and night  on foot, and then indulged in satisfying fare and robust flavors of fresh meat and produce. As you can clearly see, if you are eating natural, real, whole foods there is no need for will power. They were not tempted by the endless array of Krispy Kreme, McDonalds or Grande Mocha lattes available on  nearly every block.. Food manufacturers now know which combinations of foods will ‘hook’ our taste buds creating a cycle of cravings that never end.  Our taste buds have been sensitized and hijacked to crave food-like substances that are  sweet, salty, and chemically flavor enhanced.  These foods create a real biological demand that clamors for satisfaction. Therefore, soon after eating these types of foods you will be craving your next ‘hit’. The pleasure centers  of the brain respond in typical addictive fashion. So as you can see, will power was never meant to be an effective tool against the fabricated, factory created, highly  palatable,  pseudo foods of today. Hence, one of the many reasons why  diets that are very restrictive and that rely on will power so often fail.

So, what is the best option, when we are surrounded by endless temptation? For some it might be extra long  and intense work outs at the gym, after a day of ‘poor eating’. This is only half the solution.  Unfortunately, as Dr. Mark Hyman, MD director of the Cleveland Clinic for Functional Medicine has said: ” You can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”

Studies have confirmed that a refined carbohydrate, high sugar diet is associated with higher rates of depression and anxiety. This is due in part, to stress on our adrenal glands and other endocrine glands. In addition, sugar is considered an “anti-nutrient”, meaning it depletes other valuable nutrients from our bodies. For example, for every molecule of sugar you consume, it takes 54 molecules of  calming magnesium for your body to process it. Sugar and unhealthy fats are also inflammatory and can increase pain in the body. Sugar also damages are  brain and memory, is associated with irritability and fatigue. Clearly, not something we need this time of the year, or any time for that matter!  We already recognize that sugar is the culprit for elevated triglycerides, and higher rates of heart disease, insulin resistance and diabetes. These diseases of lifestyle and diet are on the rise.Sugar and unhealthy fats in processed foods also change your healthy gut bacteria to unhealthy. These unhealthy, pathogenic bacteria prefer and demand more sugar and processed foods,  creating sugar and junk food cravings. If this sounds like a viscous cycle, you would be correct. So the message is  clear,  practice choosing healthier options now, avoidance or complete abstinence is not  always necessary but conscious, present moment awareness is. If you make the choice to have pie,  make a decision in advance to have pumpkin OR apple, but not both.  Moderation is really the key to all things, and you are solely responsible for the choices you make and ultimately how you will feel mentally and physically.  We have eaten our way into this conundrum, so we need to eat our way out! Start practicing better habits now for a better and healthier life in 2016.

The second point: The most limiting and detrimental emotion when it comes to establishing and practicing better habits, is self recrimination.  You will never motivate yourself to form healthier habits from a mental state of guilt, fear, anger or any other negative emotion. If you are a stress eater, worry eater, anxiety eater or anger eater, you will understand this concept. These feelings will often lead to over eating  when the underlying issue is  not  acknowledged, accepted or expressed. If you can make an honest assessment of what you are feeling and why, bringing yourself back into the present, you will often make discoveries and be rewarded with clarification, insight and the impetus to make better choices. The only real  lasting change will come from a place of self love, self acceptance and compassion. Pledge to free yourself at last of the negative tape that replays in your own mind, and understand there are no mistakes or failures,  only learning opportunities. The battle is won or lost in your own mind. Learn to use the delete button, and use in relentlessly.

3 Distractions lead to Disappointment: We are bombarded with so many stimuli simultaneously we can not appropriately or effectively mentally or emotionally process it all  leading to feelings of being overwhelmed, derailed and disappointed.

We need to continually remind ourselves why we are here, (what is our purpose and intention) and why we are doing what we do. ( MOTIVATION). Again, some time away from the commotions of life for self connection, might be in order. This time of the year we should be reminded that our  single greatest purpose ( always) is to serve others, love unconditionally and be a blessing when we can. At the end of another year, and as a new year approaches,  we should be reflecting on personal growth. What one or two things would you desire to see positive changes in for the New year?Your desired goal may be to lose 20 pounds, learn specific exercises you can perform to manage or eliminate knee or back pain. Once you decide what you would like to change, create a “willingness to change” statement of intent with small step by step goals to guide your transformation. This will serve as your GPS. What will you need to do beginning today to see your vision come to fruition?  When you encounter obstacles or setbacks, and you  undoubtedly will, do not judge yourself harshly. Instead,  similar to your car’s GPS which states in a very pleasant sounding voice: “In 500 feet, make a  legal U -Turn”, make a course correction.  Develop a focus so sharp that will  guide your choices, not permitting anything into your force field that will move you away from your desired goal. Lastly, release your tight grip on the reins and you will enjoy the ride and journey much better!

Most importantly, we would be wise to reflect on the hope, love and peace that entered the world on a dark December day over 2,000 years ago and allow this light to sink down into our heart and spirit.

Right now, as you are reading this, make a decision to experience this season of peace however it feels right to you. Chaos, and commotion may certainly be all around you, but you have a choice whether or not you let it on the inside.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  -John 16:33



Mary Dicaro, PT, CSCS,CHN

Please visit my website: or attend an upcoming seminar. I would be happy to help you on your wellness journey!

 sedona snow










JOIN ME for an upcoming seminar!: Osteoporosis: Building Better Bones from the inside out.

      Mary DiCaro, PT, CSCS,CHN
Sun City Grand Learning
Osteoporosis: Building a Strong Foundation

 Are you at risk for a fracture, and what can you do to prevent and manage this life altering disorder?

I will Explain  Risk Factors,  & Prevention, especially the role of lifestyle, nutrition and exercise as well as current treatments for management. 

WHEN: February 27,2016 ; 9:00-11:00am

WHERE: Sun City Grand
19781 N Remington Dr., Surprise


                                        contact me:


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Healthy Detoxification: Supporting the body with the Change of Seasons.

Is it time for spring cleaning? The season of new life and new beginnings always give rise to our innate need to purge the old and welcome the new. Our physical, mental and spiritual selves may be feeling that need as well.

In our increasingly stressful and toxic world, the need to detox your life is more important than ever. Perhaps it may mean a new exercise regime? Healthier eating habits? Managing stress and screen time? Consciously reducing exposures to drugs, chemicals and environmental toxins? The best formula for success and optimal health is a combination of all of the above.

Our bodies have miraculous detoxification and restorative powers, however there has never been a time in our history that we have been inundated with such an onslaught of environmental and chemical toxins, beyond our bodies’ ability to neutralize and eradicate them.

Of the more than 82,000 chemicals registered for US commerce and ubiquitous in our, food, air and environment roughly only 7% are subjected to safety testing! These toxins accumulate in our tissues (adipose) when the body is unable to keep up with the constant exposure. Many are xeno-estrogens,( endocrine hormone disruptors) neuro toxins ( brain and nervous system toxins) and contribute to cellular death, inflammation, and DNA changes. This combined with poor nutrition, elevated chronic stress and detrimental life style habits ( smoking, over eating, lack of exercise) and you have a recipe for chronic illness and disease.

For optimal health, seasonal mind/body detox should be an integrated part of living a healthy lifestyle. This means assisting your body and mind by eliminating chemical poisons and anything that contributes to elevated stress or negativity. Just as a toxic body affects our mental states, a distressed mind compromises our physical health. A well designed, supervised, seasonal cleanse, can support the natural detoxification pathways of the body and  be a catalyst for a healthier,happier life journey. Consider this “Spring Training” for your body and mind that will ultimately lead to greener pastures.

Take a peek at my  presentation on “Detoxification and a  Sample 3 day cleanse

A new year Toxic load and helpful cleanse – Copy

Link to slides:

Visit my website:

INFLAMMATION AND DISEASE: Friendly Fire or Silent Killer? What you must do now to take back control.

VusutWhat do you think of when you hear the word” inflammation”? If you are like most people you will recall a time when you sprained an ankle or strained a muscle. You may have experienced swelling and pain and were told by your doctor  or therapist to take an anti-inflammatory medication, and use ice and elevation. This is a relatively common,  and self-limiting reaction that eventually leads to healing.

Inflammation is the body’s natural, normal defensive response to a tissue injury. A typical inflammatory response has recognizable hallmark characteristics of redness, heat, swelling and pain. While the mechanisms are a bit complex,  It is important to understand the basic processes involved, or the  cascade of events that occur when the body is in this state we term “inflammation”.  I will simplify the explanation with just some essential facts.

The inflammatory response is the body’s elaborate response to an insult. It is stimulated by chemical factors released by injured cells and serves the function of isolating the spread of infection and to promote healing of damaged tissues. The immune system is comprised of 2 subdivisions, namely, the innate, or non specific system, and the acquired, adaptive or sometimes called the  specific system. I will only discuss the innate or non specific system briefly.

Immediately following a tissue injury the body sends out chemical mediators ( Cytokines) that cause vasodilation of the blood vessel lining along with increased permeability ( leakiness) resulting in increased blood flow to the area and engorgement of tissues. This is followed immediately by vasoconstriction. We recognize this as  the classic sign of swelling or edema. The specialized blood cells arriving on the scene, including neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes and immune proteins contained in the tissue fluids can now remain in contact with the inner  lining of the blood vessels, or endothelium. This is desired for the next step, which is the binding of the immune proteins ( (immunoglobulins) to the injured tissues or invaders ( bacteria, etc) , effectively  immobilizing them. This step also is required for the formation of fibrin, a clotting protein. Macrophages and neutrophils engulf the dead tissues, bacteria and other pathogens at the injury site, they can be thought of as the body’s “clean up crew.”

Most of the time ( in a healthy body) this complex process proceeds without a hitch and ends  reasonably well. After all,  a normally functioning immune system is designed to restore the body  and its’ tissues to near normal form and function.

So why is it that inflammation has  recently been named as the primary  culprit or contributing factor to many  common, chronic diseases? Could it be that this friendly fire is actually a  formidable foe that is attacking us from the inside out? As it is with most things, it is all about balance.

The problem arises, when this normally ,efficient process  shifts out of balance and the inflammation process continues out of control, unrecognized and  unabated, resulting in  a chronic, insidious, sneak attack from within. Chronic inflammation does not always arise from uncontrolled acute inflammation. In some cases it appears to arise on its own from various contributory factors,  and is often difficult to detect, progressing slowly and silently inflicting its damage.

Recent Research has indicted that Inflammation has been implicated  as  a causative factor in  nearly all of the of age related  chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, autoimmune diseases, Inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis,  celiac disease, Alzheimer’s disease, COPD,  dyslipidemia, Hypertension and  cancer.

While normal inflammation produces healing, Chronic inflammation is at the root of disease,  causing it’s damage without warning to the casual observer. Unfortunately, as a result of current lifestyle trends and diet , inflammations prevalence and its’ effects are on the rise.


What is at the root of this low grade fire and it’s negative consequences? To answer this we need to look at the basic underlying process.  We can look at the genesis of Cardiovascular disease as one example. The blood vessels are active, living tissues that respond to environmental, and  chemical irritants. Chronic physical damage to the endothelium, or inner lining of the blood vessels starts the ball in motion. This early inflammatory process was described earlier. Consider that  the endothelium is the ‘gate keeper’ and is in constant contact with the blood stream, and therefore  is directly impacted and influenced by any substances within the blood. When the endothelium is damaged ( by various agents we will consider shortly) the stage is set for the pathogenesis of  all known cardiovascular diseases and nearly every chronic preventable disease known to man.

And the factors to blame are:

The endothelium damage or ‘dysfunction’ as it is called, is triggered by : Circulating immune complexes (cytokines), sheer stress on the vessel walls (Hypertension), blood fats ( dietary), hypoxia, ( reduced oxygen), stress, smoking, environmental toxins, acidosis ( dietary) , food allergies and sensitivities, diabetes ( elevated blood glucose and hyperinsulinemia), bacteria and hidden infections, and trauma to name a few. Wow, that’s a lot to think about. Chronic systemic inflammation worsens endothelial damage and so begins a downward spiral.

One can assess the level of inflammation through biomarkers of inflammation. The test which measures inflammation in the body,  CRP-hs ( C reactive protein, highly sensitive) is considered the most  clinically useful marker. Elevated CRP is related to increased markers of endothelial dysfunction and is also marker of both infection and tissue inflammation. CRP has also been found to be a strong predictor of future stroke and myocardial infarction. ( MI). Also, a protein known as Galectin-3,can trigger chronic inflammation, fibrosis ( scar tissue) and is the prime culprit in metastatic cancer and heart disease. A blood test is also available to measure levels of Galectin -3.

Let’s Summarize: Chronic systemic inflammation today is commonly perpetuated by  1.Obesity: Visceral fat, while once thought inert, is actually chemically active, churning out inflammatory cytokines, and is also a storehouse for  toxins. Quite simply,  body fat is synonymous with inflammation and toxicity. According to the CDC the percentage of overweight Americans ( 2009-2010) is 69% and  percentage of obese is roughly 35%.This rise in obesity is directly connected to the rise in inflammatory diseases. Visceral fat or the deep abdominal fat, surrounding the internal organs,  is the worst offender and is on the rise. 2. Infections: chronic, low grade,  infections in one body area can lead to widespread systemic inflammation. Examples are  tonsillitis, urinary tract infections, gall bladder infections, periodontal disease, diverticulitis, Lyme disease, and mononucleosis to name a few.

3.Environmental toxins or any foreign substance introduced into circulation may trigger an inflammatory response. These can include over the counter or prescription drugs, pollution, chemicals in tobacco products, cleaning supplies and solvents, pesticides, herbicides and food additives. There is no shortage of toxins in our environment!

4. Autoimmune diseases: These are a result of pathological responses of the immune system when it attacks it’s own healthy tissues. These conditions include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, MS, lupus, Graves disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, Celiac disease, Hashimoto’s, and others and can initiate serious inflammatory cell mediated tissue damage. These usually have a genetic component and may be ‘switched on’ ( triggered) by environmental toxins, stress, infectious agents and diet. Controlling outside triggers for inflammation may help ameliorate symptoms.


As we begin to understand the role of inflammation in the process of disease we would be wise  to look at  these causative factors and direct our efforts at prevention. Most  conventional medical treatments will direct aim at the inflammation and will not address the underlying causes. Removing or controlling the culprits just discussed will attack the root of the problem.

The greatest controllable factors lie in the realm of lifestyle and dietary choices. For the individual, These might be the factors most difficult and  resistant to  change, namely, diet, smoking, exercise, and  stress management.

Taking Back Control:

“You are what you eat“. This is true in every sense of the word. Americans are consuming a highly processed, sugar packed, salt laden, pro-inflammatory diet like never before in the history of mankind. There is a cost and your body is paying the price in the form of inflammation.

For the majority of people, breakfast, lunch and dinner are frequently eaten out of a box or a bag. We consume large quantities of processed, nutrient deficient, “food like” substances  that are chock full of chemicals, preservatives, food dyes, unhealthy fats ,sugars and sodium. We have become  a nation of large portions , and while we are overfed , we are malnourished  and barely  meeting our basic nutritional needs.

More than 50% of Americans unknowingly consume foods they are sensitive to, if not allergic to, on a regular basis, these include gluten, dairy, yeast, eggs, nuts, corn, shellfish,  nightshade vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplant) and wheat to name a few. Whereas, the acute food allergies or I g-E mediated reactions will send you to the Emergency room, the ‘sensitivities or allergies’ that may cause insidious harm are the delayed onset, Ig-G mediated responses. Over time, along with the overuse of antibiotics, and a dependence on processed foods, may  cause leaky gut syndrome  ( increased intestinal permeability) and a general state of intestinal  dysbiosis ( technical term for messed up intestinal bacteria) . An important point to keep in mind is that over 60% of the body’s immune system resides just beneath the  thin, 1 cell thick, delicate lining of  the digestive tract. Many of the foods we are eating are also genetically modified, including most corn, soy and wheat which is an additional burden and challenge to the already  taxed immune system. Long term studies of  the safety of consuming genetically engineered foods  simply have  not been established.


This is not referring to your automobile! Inflammatory oils ( vegetable)  and unhealthy fats (hydrogenated) and trans fats are  consumed in abundance, and most diets are dangerously high in inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids.  A healthy diet should have an omega 6 to omega 3 fats ratio of 4:1 and instead in the Standard American Diet it is over 20:1!  Incorporating healthy fats such as  the omega 3’s in walnuts, flaxseed, wild salmon and fish oils can offset the proliferative dietary inflammatory omega 6 fats.


The greatest and most worrisome trend is the growing addiction to refined carbohydrates, and sugar, with Americans consuming nearly 150 pounds of sugar per person per year! While we have evolved to eat meat and healthy fats,  Our bodies are not equipped to handle this toxic sugar burden. Foods like white bread, pasta, crackers, cakes, cookies, bagels, all with a high Glycemic index, are  foods  that cause rapid elevation of blood sugar, and a rapid release of insulin. Insulin  and high sugar diets, promote  fat storage  (obesity),  increased-inflammation,  and dyslipidemia ( high LDL , low HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, unhappy trio). A high intake  of carbohydrates such as simple sugars was shown to be  associated with an elevation of inflammatory markers in a Women’s health study.  In addition,  high insulin levels cause elevation of ILGF  (insulin like growth factor) which causes cells to grow and is implicated in  cancer growth. Cancer cells are obligate sugar feeders, they prefer sugar as their main fuel source, perpetuating a  tragic epidemic that is predicted to increase by 57%  worldwide in the next 20 years, according to the World Health Organization. Additionally,  excess sugar  consumption has been associated with  immune dysfunction, yeast infections, mental and emotional changes, dementia, nutritional deficiencies, insulin resistance and  ultimately  will lead to diabetes.


Exposure to toxic chemicals is increasing and these chemicals are ubiquitous in our environment, foods, personal care and cleaning products. Pesticides, herbicides, xenoestrogens ( chemicals acting like estrogens in the body)  and pollution from the air we breathe through cigarette smoke, pollution, and genetically altered foods are at an all time high. An alarming two million tons of food chemicals are used in the food industry every year. Some 50 thousand chemicals are released into the environment by industry and 500 million gallons of pesticides and herbicides are sprayed on to food and pastures. This increases our toxic load and further burdens our immune system and detoxification organs. When it comes to the environment, watch the company you keep.

What can we do to extinguish the internal fire and put ourselves on the path to better health?

  • Start with what’s on your plate!  We can begin by examining our food sources and choices. “Let food be they medicine”, as Hippocrates wisely said. We must also consider what we are not eating and obtaining from our foods. Few Americans are eating the recommended daily amounts of fiber and servings of vegetables, especially alkalizing leafy green vegetables. The typical diet of simple, carbohydrates, meats, and excess sugar is highly acidic to the blood and body tissues, not to mention, deficient in the antioxidants, micronutrients, vitamins, and phytonutrients the body requires to have a strong immune system,  provide cellular protection,  and minimize damage from free radicals and oxidation.
  • An anti inflammatory, produce dominated (vegetables mostly)  diet, containing small amounts of  lean, grass fed or organic, meat and fish, healthy nuts and oils   and low in sugar is  an effective and proven  dietary formula for reducing inflammation. Studies have demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet has a protective effect against low grade, chronic inflammation.  By contrast, The Western diet of processed meats, feed lot ( conventionally reared) red meat, trans fats, refined grains, fried foods, sweets, as mentioned, is at the foundation of inflammation, and is associated with elevation of hs-CRP, an inflammatory biomarker.
  • Stop the assault of chemical toxins. Smoking is an established risk factor for many diseases, and results in direct blood vessel endothelial injury and increased inflammatory markers. Cessation of smoking will greatly improve these markers. Reduce exposure to toxic chemicals of all kinds by using environmentally friendly cleaning products and non toxic personal care products. Support local farmers and buy organic when possible.
  •  Move more. Physical activity or exercise is inversely associated with inflammatory markers, namely, high levels of activity are associated with reduction in chronic inflammation. Incorporating mindful exercise practices such as yoga and tai chi are also helpful  for the mind and body.
  • Renounce the Negative effects of Stress. Stress, and the fight, flight and freeze response can produce physiological  systemic changes , including rapid heart rate, rapid, shallow breathing, ( hypoxia) , release of cortisol with  resultant immune-suppression, elevation of blood glucose, elevation of blood fats, high blood pressure,  incomplete digestion,  insomnia and much more. Isolated stressful events, and the chronic, ongoing stress response that occurs more commonly in today’s society, are contributing to adrenal imbalances and heightened inflammation and its’ negative effects. As a society, we need to address the ravages of constant stress with effective strategies, including breath work, meditation, enjoyable hobbies, adequate rest and sound restorative sleep

We can reduce the deadly effects of inflammation and improve the outcome and management of many chronic and  age related preventable diseases. This is accomplished by  intentionally making  choices to  incorporate, simple lifestyle changes in the form of enjoyable exercise , stress management techniques,  and employing the healing properties of whole foods. Natural whole foods  with their protective and anti-inflammatory benefits, are a  great place to start in stacking the deck in our favor and quelling the internal fire.

If you see yourself anywhere in the above descriptions, get informed, contact your health professional and take back control! Visit me on my website:


1. Inflammation: Causes, Prevention And Control, Annell St. Charles, PhD, R.D, L.D.N

2. Treating cancer with nutrition, Patrick Quillin, PhD, RD,CNS4.

3. WHO: Imminent global cancer ‘disaster’ reflects aging, lifestyle factors, by Tim    Hume and Jen Christensen, CNN, updated February 4, 2014,.


5.,Definition of inflammation.

6. “Stop Inflammation now!” Richard Fleming MD

7. Dr fire-inside you

8. “The immune protective effect of the Mediterranean diet against Chronic low grade inflammation”

9.  “Circulating Galectin -3 in the bloodstream, an emerging promoter of cancer metastasis.” www.

Recipes for Restoration

TUSCAN MINESTRONE SOUP (Gluten free, dairy free, if no cheese, and Vegan)

This is a simple and easy to make recipe to make during cooler weather months.  I made this recipe today since we had a day of winter here in the Arizona desert. Yes, Rain and a chilly temperature of 62 is cause for celebration and a pot of soup! You can make your own chicken broth from scratch but if you are in a hurry as I was, you can use  ready to use, low sodium Organic chicken broth or Vegetable broth  ( if Vegan). “Pacific” brand is a good one to try and it is also free of gluten and added MSG. If available, use home grown, or farmer’s market fresh herbs and vegetables.

In a large stock pot: Combine

1 small onion chopped, and

3-4 cloves of fresh garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil until limp and fragrant (low heat)

I small fennel bulb, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp Herbs de Provence

2 cartons Pacific brand or similar organic Chicken or Vegetable stock (or homemade.)

1-2 organic carrots ( washed, peeled and chopped)

1 can of soaked, rinsed and drained and organic Cannellini beans

16 ounce can of Organic diced tomatoes –OR 3/4 carton of POMI brand (no artificial additives or preservatives)

1 small bunch of Organic spinach or can use other greens such as organic green chard or kale- thoroughly cleaned, de stemmed and chopped- I like more greens so I use extra J

4-6 fresh whole basil leaves, 2 sprigs fresh Rosemary

Cook ¾ cup Gluten free “Ancient Harvest” Quinoa super grain pasta ‘shells’ OR if you are not concerned about gluten  you may use organic pasta shells, elbows or ditalini pasta. Cook according to package directions, al dente.  Add to soup.

Add sea salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese if desired. (Not if dairy free)

This is a great, VERY HEART HEALTHY, meatless, traditional minestrone. If you would like to add additional flavor you may add ½ pound of ground chicken Italian sausage (preservative free, casings removed) or simply ground chicken breast which would be lightly browned with the onion and the garlic at the start.


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Have a plan beforehand…Here’s a simple way to go from holiday eating mayhem to mindfulness.

The holiday season is a time of sharing, giving and endless occasions to overindulge! Sweet and savory snacks are ubiquitous and unless you have a plan beforehand you will be among the majority of people that will gain an average of 5 pounds during the period from Thanksgiving to the New year. Before you head out the door to your next party, Read this! This hectic time of the year tends to bring about a cycle of  less sleep, fatigue, and stress  which in turn  promotes cravings, all  while we are surrounded by  unlimited opportunities to indulge in  foods which give us comfort and quick bouts of energy. Recognize this as  the  perfect storm for weight gain! There is a way to navigate this season and arrive in January with positive energy, little to no additional pounds on the scale, and a sense of peaceful satisfaction. I have outlined 8 simple ways for you to enjoy the beauty of the  season without the  negative health effects. I find acronyms useful to help my brain remember things, so here it is: P.E.A.C.E F.U.L

P: Pay attention:  

Being attentive to the signals our bodies are giving us is the first step.Being mindful of hunger signals, thoughts and feelings are a prerequisite to healthy patterns of eating. Many people will seek food to quell what is really thirst. Feelings of emotional stress in the body, will often times be the catalyst for overeating of sweet ad savory foods, when actually more food is not what is really needed. Just be aware.

E: Enjoy the Experience: When you make a conscious decision to eat a desired food,appreciate and  savor the taste, aroma or texture of the food, fully engaging your senses. When you enjoy your food, you are less likely to over indulge or  continue to seek satisfaction or pleasure from other foods. Create an environment that is peaceful,  free of stress as much as possible,  and this  will contribute to the total experience of enjoyment!

A: Align with Spirit: This is really about knowing  and being compassionate with yourself, your true nature, and your needs. Cultivate self-love and self-respect, for there is no true and lasting change that can occur without self acceptance.  It has to start, right here and right now.

C: Create an intention:  What is it that you really want to achieve? Maybe its as simple as maintain your weight through the holidays and continue to feel healthy throughout the season.  Verbalize this as a goal and set this as your intention before  you start the day. Visualize   your ideal outcome, and you will be more likely to succeed.

E: Exercise: It is not really necessary to push yourself through 2 hours of a punishing workout before, or after your holiday meal. Simply walking, stretching or performing yoga can increase your energy, improve your self-awareness and motivating you to eat healthy and  nurture your body during the holidays and beyond.

F: Feel your feelings: Before you dive into 2 pieces of pie,  first ask yourself , “what will satisfy your cravings?. Attempt to figure out what is at the root of your cravings? Consider such things as what is your current emotional state?. Try to understand your feelings.  Choices made from a state of mind that is content and peaceful are more apt to be healthy in nature. A majority of emotions , such as  anger, sadness or anxiety will more than likely lead to the wrong choices.

U: Undistracted: How many times have you finished a bag of chips or eaten an entire meal all while on the computer, driving in your car or watching TV? Begin to recognize your  triggers, distractions, habits that are contributing to mindless  or excessive eating. These habits or triggers  will sabotage your best intentions every time!

L; Love yourself:  This last principle, is by far, the most powerful. The greatest gift you can give yourself on your journey of healthy change is self acceptance. You will never be motivated to lasting change with self-defeating or self recriminating thoughts. You will always move in the direction of your  thoughts and beliefs. Start today to raise  the bar. No one can do it for you.

Wishing you a Healthy, Happy  New Year!

The Doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the causes and prevention of disease.”    

                                                                                                                    Thomas Edison


Thanksgiving Reflections

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

~ John F. Kennedy

It hardly seems possible that another year is ending on planet earth and the holidays are in our midst. Around this time  in years past, almost on cue,  I would find myself thrust into the holiday chaos with endless to do lists, shopping, cooking, more shopping and perhaps an occasional pause to catch my breath.

This year is different. Reflection on the past year has  brought more than a pause as I find  that withdrawing myself from the holiday madness, seems to be what my heart  is truly seeking  at this moment in time. Reflecting on the events of the past year, most notably, the passing of my dear dad, my friend, and inspiration, has irreversibly changed how I view everything. The author CS Lewis uses the analogy to  describe  grief following a loved ones’ passing as similar to an amputation.  “Whereas, you will eventually learn to live without it, your life will never be the same.”

Grief has a way of being extraordinarily disruptive, disorienting and blinding. It blinds you to the everyday joys that are still in your midst yet, without fail, you see only darkness,  muddling your way through the fog day after day. The major holidays and birthdays pass, bringing with them a sting that reopens the wound that is now your heart.

Anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one understands how it  rocks you to the core and changes the fabric of everything in your life. I am sorry if you can relate to what I am referring to, for that means that you too, have lost someone very dear to you, and to the extent that you grieve, you have also loved.  We can take heart in the fact that ‘rock bottom’ is a solid foundation.

At this time of the year our focus turns to Gratitude. For those who have suffered a loss of any kind, or are in a challenging phase of their life, feeling thankful is  often very  difficult . Difficult but necessary.  The bible has said we are to be thankful, offering praise to God, in all circumstances, for this is the true sign of faith.

In my opinion, The foundation for  true joy is built upon 3 fundamental things: gratitude, acceptance and love.

Love, we have been told is not a feeling, or a noun, but a verb and therefore requires a decisive action on our part. Gratitude works in a similar way. We need to awaken each day with the choice of  intentionally finding and focusing on those things for which we are grateful, and then act upon those blessings. Expressing gratitude is a virtue, while living it, is an even greater striving. We should take the time to mindfully reflect on all we have been given, but also give thanks for ‘the difficulties’ and trials, for they, too have so much to  teach us.

Gratitude is the recognition of the grace and blessings that have been poured out to us in obvious and  sometimes,not so obvious ways.  Life on this planet is sure to have it’s share of ups and downs, but it seems that those who have the greatest gratitude are those that have  unwittingly been  thrust into the darkness and have finally found the light.

I am grateful for so many things , but I will mention just a few. My family and dearest friends who have been there  without fail, with a message ,a  phone call, a hug or a listening ear. I am thankful that I have emerged with a greater appreciation for each day and the brevity of life. I am thankful that I can touch others’ lives  as a therapist,  while doing work that I enjoy. Service to others is the reason we are here.

I am thankful for faith that has sustained me during this past year and provides the message of  hope and love that is the true meaning of the coming season.

I hope you find yourself filled with gratitude, acceptance and love, and therefore Joy, as you begin this holiday season!

Happy Thanksgiving!

INFLAMMATION AND DISEASE: Friendly Fire or Silent Killer? What you must do now to take back control.

INFLAMMATION AND DISEASE: Friendly Fire or Silent Killer? What you must do now to take back control..

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