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


I am excited to announce a new class in 2017! “Effective Techniques for Tight Muscles”, will attempt to solve the mystery of why muscles become stiff, sore and painful and often times resist our best efforts to stretch them.

Listening to many of my patients’ requests, questions and frustrations led me on a quest to uncover the mystery of the well known, tight stiff and achy muscles that seem to be epidemic in our society.

This class will provide the attendee with an understanding of the possible causes of “stiff”, or “tight” and painful muscles. This common and sometimes misunderstood condition is often the primary culprit underlying neck, back and hip pain, even sciatica. You will learn how to ‘tame’ the tightness and spasms, balance the muscles and enjoy more freedom of movement. Techniques will include types of effective stretching, foam rolling, trigger point release and the stress/relaxation response techniques.

DATE: March 1,2017
Time: 10:am-11:30am
Where: Chaparral Center – Havasupai-Maricopa Double Room, Sun City Grand
CALL: 623 546-7470 to register or register in person



From Resolutions to ‘Real’ Solutions….

4 STRATEGIES TO MOVE FROM RESOLUTIONS TO REAL SOLUTIONS. A brand new year with a fresh crop of  365 new opportunities to begin again….Instead of Resolutions,  begin the year with Real Solutio…

Source: From Resolutions to ‘Real’ Solutions….

From Resolutions to ‘Real’ Solutions….


A brand new year with a fresh crop of  365 new opportunities to begin again….Instead of Resolutions,  begin the year with Real Solutions.

Like most people you may be starting the New Year with motivations running high and a sense that a new crop of 365 days was just what you needed to propel yourself toward healthier habits. You may have set a few worthy goals such as  lose  20 pounds,  begin a certain diet, exercise more, eat healthier foods, manage stress.. and so forth.   And  if you’re similar to  most people by mid January  you will begin to feel a sense of ‘love lost’ when you think about those ‘resolutions’.  If The sparks that ignite your motivation,  begin to  fizzle out with the  holidays fireworks,.you are in good company.  When it comes to life changes, most people have the attention span and focus of a squirrel, and when it comes to will power, well, that is not as powerful as we had hoped.

In fact, most people who begin a “diet” or attempt a lifestyle change will be unsuccessful without the right tools. When it comes to having the right tools, and understanding what leads to success, there is some good news and some bad news.

I will give you the bad news first.

There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses.

Now here’s the good news:

There may be reasons why you have fallen short when trying to change a habit, but they are not excuses. Thankfully, you are still responsible, and what you acknowledge you can change. It  does require personal accountability.

It sounds simple, and it is, but simple does not mean easy.

I have outlined 4 simple strategies that will put you on solid ground and move you forward. That is where we want to go, right? Therefore, looking back or dwelling on past failures is no longer an option. That would be like trying to drive your car, looking in the rear view mirror. We recognize that nothing good will come from that!


There is no other force as powerful, creative or destructive as your thoughts and own belief system. Therefore, if you have struggled with maintaining weight loss, or a healthy eating lifestyle, the question you need to ask is: Do I believe that I deserve to lose weight and feel good? This is not a question you pose to your head, but to your heart. Your intellect will always tell you what you want to hear, but the heart knows only the truth.

“You cannot solve your problem with the same mind that created it.”

If you are not getting the right answers to chronic, recurrent, problems, this may simply mean you are asking the wrong questions.

 “You cannot solve your problems with the same mind that created them.”-Albert Einstein

In order to achieve any lasting changes in your diet, exercise or lifestyle factors, you have to dig deeper and ask some difficult questions to uncover the limiting beliefs or lies that are keeping you from rising higher. Some, or most of our limiting or destructive beliefs are subconscious, but specific tools and an honest inventory will help in Identifying, Acknowledging, Challenging, and Releasing these automatic negative thoughts and allow you to create a greater vision for yourself.   Your belief system is directly related to your thoughts. Guard your mind like Fort Knox.

The battle is won or lost in your mind, so that is where it must begin


I would encourage you to get a clear vision of what you want for yourself. This will be your mental map or GPS. You can be assured that you will have times when you will fall of the track, not if, but when. Here’s the point, Just because you get derailed, you don’t have to crash. Immediately, divorce yourself from the tendency to nurse the bad feelings, feel guilty, blame or engage in self- recrimination. Having a vivid vision of what you desire for your self will keep you from losing momentum during the challenging times. There are many ways to do this. Some people do well with meditation, picture boards, positive affirmations, visualization, journaling and writing out their goals. Daily. You must be vigilant, bad habits die hard.

The second part of this exercise is to assign a numerical value to how comfortable you are that you will follow through with the goal. For example, if your goal is to ” exercise 5 times per week for 1 hour” and you assign a 2 to your comfort level ( 0 to 10, with 0 representing not comfortable at all) this is NOT a worthy goal for you at this moment. Modify it until you are at an 8 or better on the comfort scale. Your previous goal may change to, “I will walk for 20 min a day, 4 days a week.” Then give it life by putting it on your calendar. And finally, Don’t break a date with yourself, you are important.


The nature of will power is that it is not a powerful motivator or catalyst for change in the long run. Psychologists and life coaches know this. It may get you started initially, but it is rarely a faithful friend to the end. Instead, you have to cooperate with some natural laws at work here. I will outline a few.

Our brains are wired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Pretty basic for survival, back in the day. The main motivator for any behavior is based on this principle and so self- gratification and self- protection are the two most powerful activists. Unfortunately, portions of our brains, ( namely, the Amygdala and Nucleus Accumbens) are easily hooked on various forms of pleasure, some good, some not so good.

In the ‘not so good ‘category are sugary, salty and fatty foods which trigger the same centers in the brain as some drugs. The food industry knows the sneaky secrets to turn on the reward centers in your brain and activate the release of the neurotransmitter, Dopamine. In fact, Dopamine is often referred to as the “Master Molecule of Addiction.” Studies have shown that while animals will work hard for a sugar or fat reward, they will work the hardest for a combination of sugar and fat. An example in the ‘good’ category are people that obsessively engage in rigorous exercise to achieve an endorphin release. The so called “runners high.”.

So what does this all mean for us common mortals? Why are bad habits, like not exercising, eating poorly or smoking, so hard to change despite the knowledge of their deleterious effects and contribution to disease? No, it does not mean you are “weak” lacking in willpower and doomed to failure!

Many health coaches and scientists have studied this question and countless methods to facilitate lasting behavioral change. A fairly daunting task, for sure. Lately, many theories converge on the principle of Love versus Fear. What does love have to do with it, you ask? Everything we do comes through motivation from either love or from fear. If you are not enjoying your life, or if fear is an emotion you feel more often than love, joy or peace, then you are probably operating from a primitive, lower brain function which seeks to avoid pain and seek gratification through external means.

The take home message is that all lasting change starts with self – love. The love of self, knowing and accepting your true nature and spirit of greatness, gives rise to love of others and thrusts you to a higher level of function. If love, the most powerful force there is, becomes your primary moving and motivating force, you will naturally seek and gravitate toward healthy foods, habits and the positive reinforcement they create, which is feeling good, healthy, vibrant and strong. That is our birthright. Furthermore,  “Nothing succeeds like success.” As you create positive habits, they reinforce themselves. It is true freedom to make choices that are life enhancing and that affirm self- love.

Think back to the last time you felt pure contentment, a lightness of being, joy or peace, what were you doing? DO more of that! It’s time to give yourself permission to re- discover or find ways of creating more joy. If you are feeling stuck, don’t forget to check in with your belief system, strategy #1.

“Everything we do comes from either Love or from Fear.” Arlosky 


The most common mistake when embarking on a life change for health or personal reasons is to set goals that are unreasonably difficult to stick with and therefore will have a limited degree of success.

An example is beginning a ‘diet’ that is based on the principle of deprivation and elimination. I am certain you can relate to this. You can also most certainly guess why this sort of plan is doomed to fail. If food is a source of pleasure for you and you decide to eliminate every food you are currently considering ‘bad’, you will be miserable. Remember what happens when your brain is miserable? It is pleasure seeking and pain avoiding by nature. Is it any wonder why most diets fail? A simple rule that I will share, is to consider that there are NO foods that are off limits. ( exception of course, are foods that you may have an allergy or intolerance to, and these often times are the very ones you are craving).

Does that mean you can have your fill of donuts and French fries? Of course, the answer is a resounding NO!

As a general rule eating ‘clean’ 80-90% of the time allows time for your body to chemically adjust and down regulate the dopamine and hormonal systems ( insulin, leptin) of reward, cravings etc. Have you ever noticed how when you eat sweet or fatty food, you crave more sweet and fatty food? The formula your body uses is as follows: eat junk, want junk. It’s not in your imagination. It’s a downward spiral due to changes in the chemical and hormonal systems of the body. Your body is very much like a chemistry lab and is inherently good at maintaining status quo and enhancing survival mechanisms.

Do not despair, eating clean is a way of life that will eventually be as automatic as brushing your teeth.

Concentrating on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local (SOUL) food is the foundation of healthy eating.

Concentrate on building your meals around Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, Local ( S.O.U.L) food .This is the foundation of life- long, healthy eating habits. Increase your consumption of vegetables, fruits, healthy fats and oils. Consume foods in their most natural and unaltered states. For example, a baked sweet potato, not French fries. Use the method of ‘crowding out’, that is, filling up on the most “nutrient dense” and healthy foods first and thereby reducing the consumption of the calorie dense, processed, and unhealthy fare. Remember you will always allow yourself the 10-20% ‘free choice’ for a night out or a special occasion. No guilt allowed! EVER!

Make it a practice to increase consumption of water, drinking at least ½ ounce per pound of body weight. A simple practice that has enormous, far reaching health benefits.

Beginning an exercise program gradually, and ramping up intensity slowly, is the kinder more sustainable approach. This will allow you to feel the positive changes without experiencing the negatives of forcing your usually sedentary body to complete a full session of P 90X.

If you are new to exercise, use your smart phone’s app to track the number of steps you take in a day. Set a goal to increase the number of steps weekly until you reach 6,000 steps per day, which is the average for most people, or strive for the 7,000 to 8,000, recommended by the CDC. (Centers for Disease Control). Eventually you may get to 10,000 steps or beyond which is associated with the most health benefits.

Following these simple, real solutions will provide the spring board that moves you forward and allows you to experience success. Success experienced early in the process of life change, is indicative of future and continued success.

If you desire to see yourself in a better place this time next year, you must begin to make different choices.  Quite simply, if you desire a different outcome, you have to make a different choice. One small, next right choice at a time, one day at a time.

If you keep your vision in front of you,  state your intentions,stay focused on the feelings of accomplishment and the health benefits that will inevitably follow, you are sure to end 2017 a happier, healthier you!

Who needs resolutions anyway?

I would love to help you make this transformation a reality. If you have particular health, fitness or rehab issues that you need assistance with, contact me: email:

Visit my website or contact me for New Years “Commitment to Wellness“, 2 for 1 packages!



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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