Why does counseling belong in your doctor’s office?

Our counselor on staff, Donna Goldberg, was posed the question, “Why does counseling belong in this office?”. Her answer is as follows:

“When seeking help for anxiety, depression or other challenging problems where do most people head first?  If you said their doctor’s office you are correct! People look for trusted resources when issues arise and if they have a good relationship with their doctor this is a wonderful place to seek help.  But what happens if you want to work on the issue without medication?  What if you want to face the problem and work within your own resources to address it?  That’s where a counselor in your doctor’s office can step in and help with the process.  

If this is such a good idea then why are there not counselors in all medical practices? This is a new idea, and changing an existing system takes time.  Functional medicine is leading the way, with integrative health models taking notice.  With time the health care in this country can move from sick care to a system that supports all aspects of being a well human.  Luckily, at Oubre medical you don’t have to wait for the medical system to catch up! We offer counseling services to give you the tools and strategies to handle any bumps along the way to wellness.”

If you would like to meet Donna or any part of our team, we would love to hear from you! Donna is included in the price of a medical membership with our practice, and she also has a separate membership for just her services.

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February 7, 2020

I had surgery on my lungs this morning.  I am currently hospitalized, fighting a severe pneumonia with a large pleural effusion.  

Read below for my cautionary tale of waiting too long to take antibiotics or seek medical treatment.  If you avoid antibiotics for too long, infections can get dangerously out of control. 

Even young functional medicine doctors who regularly compete in triathlons get sick.

WARNING: Some mild graphic images of my health journey are included. Viewer discretion is advised.

— — —

This story started 34 days ago.  I have been having fevers and night sweats every night for 34 days.  Unbelievable, right?  Believe it.

January 3, 2020

The fevers and night sweats started January 3, 2020, and I have been tracking it regularly with my Oura Ring, which measures body temperature every night. 

Despite having fevers and night sweats, I had minimal symptoms other than fatigue and brain fog.  I presumed it was a virus since I had lots of sick people coming into the office.  In addition, I had just come from a plane ride after traveling to Louisiana for Christmas.  I kept telling myself that “tomorrow would be better.”  That tomorrow never came.

January 18-19, 2020

After 15 days of fevers and night sweats, I began developing some minor coughing that wasn’t productive of any mucous.  I still didn’t think much of it.  I had signed up for a half marathon months prior in Houston, and I didn’t want to miss it.  While sick, I drove to Houston to compete in the race.

The race was cold.  It was 6am.  The temperature was in the 40’s and windy.  I was bundled up for the race more so than most of the other runners, but I didn’t think much of it.  I frequently feel colder than others, so I dressed for the occasion.  I had ear warmers, thermal long sleeves, a thermal windbreaker jacket, spandex pants, shorts, and thermal socks.  I was shivering and freezing standing next to people with a shirt and shorts.  It started to dawn on me that I was sicker than I expected.

I hadn’t exercised since the fever, so I knew that I wasn’t going to have a good race.  I ran slower than I knew I could run.  I made it 7 miles at a 9 min / mile pace.

(My prior to illness goal was 8 min / mile).

At mile 7, I developed severe right rib and diaphragm pain that was restricting my running to 0.2 miles at a time.  I ended up walking the majority of the remaining 5.1 miles.  I finished the race in 2 hours and 20 minutes, which I considered quite an accomplishment, considering my state of illness.

It took me an hour to get back to my hotel due to the race traffic blocking off the roads.  I was frozen down to the core of my being.  It took me 30 minutes in the hottest shower possible before I could stop the shivering and feel my fingertips.

It was dawning on me that I was really sick.  Something was wrong.  But, I didn’t want my staff to know because they wouldn’t let me see patients.  I didn’t want my family to know because they would worry about me.  So, I minimized symptoms and told everyone that I finally started antibiotics.

January 20, 2020

I finally started an antibiotic.  A lame one.  I started azithromycin, which is not the best choice for pneumonia due to resistance patterns of bacteria.  I chose azithromycin because it’s rather gentle on the microbiome.

Over the next several days, I began feeling better.  I had more energy and was able to skip ibuprofen / Tylenol dosages.  I thought I was on the mend!

Too soon to say that.  Although I had finally started an antibiotic, it wasn’t powerful enough, and I got worse.

I began developing chest pains from the pneumonia as well as excruciating diaphragm spasms when I laid down at night.  The coughing got worse, and it became productive of thick mucous from my bronchial tissues (deep lungs).  The coughing triggered debilitating diaphragm and rib pains.  It was the worst in the middle of the night when laying down.  I would lay semi-upright on pillows to help, but it still happened.

One night, my spasms were excruciating enough that I couldn’t sit up in the bed without triggering a spasm that threw me back down on my back with an extreme “attack” of shortness of breath and chest pain.  It took me 2 hours to get it under control enough to crawl downstairs to get more ibuprofen.  I was fine by the morning, so I went to work.  Yet this became a nightly attack for the next 10 days.

Despite this, I kept pushing forward … stubbornly taking the maximum amount of ibuprofen allowed in a day.

January 21, 2020

During this time, I was taking lots of ibuprofen to manage my fever / body aches in order to continue seeing patients and working.  Due to the stress of the race and ibuprofen, I developed a severe case of gastritis (stomach lining erosion).  This woke me up at 1am, and it lingered for hours.  I had to cancel my patients for the day at the last minute because it was too painful.  I went home to recover using Heartburn TX, DGL, and Intestinal Repair Complex, which works like magic!  My pain was completely gone within 4 hours of taking it.  I haven’t stopped taking them since I have continued using ibuprofen to function.

A few days after the gastritis resolved, I began noticing significant short of breath and hyperventilation with small tasks like walking up a flight of stairs.  I had also begun having chest pains in my right chest and diaphragm, which was causing spasms and severe pain.

January 31, 2020

After 10 days of the lame antibiotic not working, I finally went in for a Chest X-ray after my family, friends, and staff begged me to investigate further.

The Chest X-ray was not good news.  It showed that I had 2 lobes of my lungs infected with pneumonia:  Right Middle Lobe and Right Lower Lobe.  These 2 lobes consist of approximately 40% of my right lungs.  It also showed a small pleural effusion.  The pleural effusion was small and was only taking up 5% of my lung space.   

A pleural effusion is an accumulation of fluid outside of your lungs yet inside of your chest cavity.  In essence, as the fluid accumulates, it compresses your lungs like a vice grip.

At this time (28 days of fever and night sweats), I finally upgraded to the correct antibiotic (levofloxacin).  I began having severe chest pains and diaphragm spasms where the pneumonia and effusion was accumulating.

Again, I waited because I thought the antibiotic was going to work.

After 5 days of intense pain relieved only by ibuprofen, I was unable to fake the amount of breathing difficulty and pain that I was having.  My staff noticed me breathing heavily after walking the small flight of stairs to get into our office.  I was short of breath during my patient consults, and people were beginning to notice.

No one knew the severe attacks of pains that I was having in the middle of the night throughout all of this.  I continued lying to my parents telling them how I was feeling better in order to prevent my mother from worrying.  It turns out that they didn’t believe me.

February 5, 2020 @ 8am

I swung in for a repeat Chest X-ray before my first patient that morning.  Upon walking out, the staff let me see the X-ray since I’m a physician.  I was immediately alarmed at the image.  My brain immediately went into denial about how bad it was, but I was finally, utterly scared that I might die from this infection.

February 5, 2020 @ 10am

I scurried to the office with my X-ray CD and immediately started my first consult.  We finished a little early, so I called the radiologist after pulling the images up on my computer.  I was scared.  The radiologist did not help.   He answered the phone like this, “Dr. Oubre – this is your chest x-ray? … You are in big trouble.  I’m not going to sugar coat it.  You need a doctor other than yourself, and you need to get this drained … TODAY!”

My mind is now in full blown panic mode.  I don’t have a doctor, so I called my ex-wife (Kelli Oglesby, MD) who is the smartest family doctor that I know, and I knew that she would know how to navigate my stubborn personality.  She suggested a STAT CT scan and began making phone calls to pulmonologists.

February 5, 2020 @ 11am

Arlinda, my wonderful medical assistant and second mother, swooped in and helped me get a STAT CT Scan at ARA downtown.  The CT scan confirmed the Chest X-ray:   I had a severe, worsening double pneumonia with a large effusion.  The fluid outside of my lungs in my chest cavity was now occupying 50% of my right chest cavity.  In essence, it was strangulating my right lung into the size of a grapefruit.

February 5, 2020 @ 11:30pm

In a scared, emotional state, I called my parents. I couldn’t hide the bad news any further.

Me:  “Dad, I have bad news.  I am very sick, and I am going to need drainage of the fluid around my lungs.  I need you guys to come to Austin.”

Dad:  “Okay, we are 1.5 hours away.”

Me:  “What do you mean? You live 7 hours away.”

Dad:  “We didn’t believe you, so we left this morning at 5am to force you to seek treatment.”

Unbelievable.  I have the most wonderful parents, and I am extremely blessed and grateful for them.  They haven’t left my side since they got here.  They even shared a crappy couch made-for-1 in the hospital overnight.  Thank you Mom and Dad! I love you!

February 5, 2020 @ 12pm

Arlinda and I drove home to meet Kelli and my parents in order to come up with a plan.  We were not having much luck finding a pulmonologist that could drain the infection in office the same day.  Kelli made the executive decision that I would require more than an outpatient drainage, and she advised me to go to the ER immediately.

February 5, 2020 @ 2pm

I arrive in the ER to find an absolutely amazing team of nurses, administrators, and an awesome ER doctor.  The wait time was minimal, and the care was STELLAR and full of compassion … and humor!

Thank you:  Barry, Collin, Dr. Ajay Yadav, and all of the other nurses that I cannot remember your names.

They quickly get IVs in both arms as well as lots of blood tests to rule out sepsis (bacteria in my bloodstream).  They pulled a lactic acid level despite me not needing one.  Tell me I’m wrong, Barry!  I’m still waiting to win that bet!

Dr. Yadav reviewed the X-rays and CT scans, and he was able to get a thoracic surgeon to evaluate me within an hour. Unbelievable speed and efficiency!

February 5, 2020 @ 3pm

Dr. Dan Fortes, a thoracic surgeon, shows up in record time.  He is kind, empathetic, funny, and straight to the point.  On top of that, his skills are exceptional.  Without hesitation, he tells me that he needs to insert a tube into my chest right now if I wanted any hope of avoiding surgery. 

A chest tube is an extremely painful procedure where a physician makes a cut between your ribs and inserts a tube into your chest (smaller than a garden hose).  Then, they connect the tube to a box that applies suction in an attempt to get all of the fluid out of your lungs.

He reassures me that he has techniques to reduce the pain of a chest tube placement, and I don’t believe him.  But, I’m hopeful!

…He was absolutely right.  He has neat techniques to reduce the pain of insertion.  It was still painful, but it was significantly lower than every other chest tube insertion that I’ve seen in my entire career.

The tube is inserted and half of a liter of fluid gushes out of my chest cavity.  

Good news:  The fluid is clear, which means it’s most likely not infected and not cancer!  The fluid is simply an inflammatory drainage secondary to the severe pneumonia.

Bad news:  It was supposed to drain 1.5 liters of fluid.  This means that I will most likely need surgery, but Dr. Fortes gave me 48 hours to drain the remainder of the fluid.

February 6, 2020 @ 1pm

My Chest X-ray is minimally improved, and I have only drained 200mL of the 1000mL that needs to be drained.  Dr. Fortes team decides to place a medication called TPA into my lung cavity.  This drug is an enzyme designed to break up fibrous tissue and disrupt the loculations (or pockets) of fluid that is trapping the fluid.

The TPA is pushed into my chest cavity through the tube, and the tube is clamped to prevent it from draining.  I now have 4 hours to rotate like a rotisserie chicken in order to work this medication all around my chest cavity.  If I can’t break it all up, I need surgery.

Despite significant amounts of pain changing positions (laying on the tube, moving side to side, sitting up, and lying down), I endure the pain in order to get the TPA worked all around my lung cavity.  I really don’t want surgery!

February 6, 2020 @ 5pm

It’s time!!!

My nurse in the PCU (progressive care unit – It’s like a lower acuity ICU) is going to unclamp the tube in order to see what comes out.  We are all excited, and Mitch is too since he hasn’t had much experience with chest tubes.  It is the moment that we’ve been waiting for.  My parents are waiting.  Kelli (my doctor and ex-wife) is with there.  We are ready, so I lay down to get in position.

The tube is unclamped, and it’s a huge success!  Approximately 400mL (half of a liter) flies out of my chest.  However, this causes a severe, excruciating diaphragm and rib spasm that I cannot control.  I cry out for them to clamp the tube in order to stop it.  They quickly clamp the tube, but it doesn’t stop the pain.  It is excruciating and unrelenting.  It is preventing me from breathing, and I’m gasping for air in agony.  I can manage to get just enough air to not require an emergency.

With the suggestion of Kelli, the nurse asks my hospitalist physician (Dr. Pothala) on the phone to get an emergent order of pain medication.  Within minutes, Mitch has IV pain medication in hand, and he quickly gets it into my body.  This is enough to drop my pain from excruciating to severe where I can breathe without hyperventilating.

We are still hopeful that more fluid will come out, so we unclamp the tube to let the remaining half a liter come out.  Hopefully it will be less painful.

Bad news:  It’s dry.  Most of it came out already.  The rest is still trapped.  At that moment, I now realize that surgery is most likely my only option.  I am saddened and scared.

Thank you Mitch for being a stellar nurse.  He was calm and collected in a wacky situation.  He was able to focus and accomplish tasks despite the chaos and unpredictable outcome.  Skills of an experienced nurse and future nurse practitioner!  Good luck, Mitch!!

February 6, 2020 @ 7pm

Dr. Fortes swings by at the end of a very long day for him.  He has already been working in the early morning, but he made the effort to come see me anyway, which I will forever be grateful.  He confidently tells me that surgery is my only option, but he appeases me by doing a Chest X-ray to see if I got it all.  Of course, he was right, and I was wrong.  My lungs were not empty, and I will definitely require surgery.

February 7, 2020 @ 7am

I am wheeled to the pre-op area, awaiting surgery.  Dr. Fortes, anesthesia, and nursing teams all swing by to get me prepped for surgery.  Anesthesia comes by with 2mg of Versed to help calm me down and prep me for surgery.  After he puts this in my IV, I don’t remember anything.  Lights out.

Surgery goes well, and they got the rest of the loculated fluid out of my chest cavity.  They examined the outside of my right lung after fully collapsing it under anesthesia.  Then, they re-inflated my lung and looked at the inside of my lungs with a bronchoscope.

Hours later, the first thing I remember is waking up, coughing with intense pain in my chest.  It quickly fades after the coughing stops.  I’m held in recovery for an hour or so.  Then, I am wheeled back to my PCU room.  I look at my chest to find a new battle scar that has been glued shut.  This is the hole they created.  Another scar for waiting too long to seek treatment.

The rest of my day goes rather smoothly.  I am able to walk and do more than I had previously, and I am feeling confident that I’ll be out soon.

Surgical wound under my right nipple from the incision used to insert a camera into my chest cavity. The chest tube from the ER is still in place.

February 8, 2020

Day 4 with a chest tube sticking out of the right side of my chest.  It hurts more today than yesterday.  I am able to do less.  I cannot walk as far.  It hurts to move more.  I cannot sleep as well.  I am beginning to get concerned as to why I’m getting worse.  Exhaustion from the frequent interruptions overnight by the nursing staff is beginning to weigh on my psyche. 

Dr. Fortes’ partner, Dr. Medbery, comes by to do a post-op check, and she informs me that during surgery, Dr. Fortes placed a long-acting nerve block that is beginning to wear off.  This is why I’m feeling worse.  She says that everything looks good, and we will take the chest tube out tomorrow.

The night goes terribly with lots of pain with any sort of movement.  I am still short of breath due to the pain associated with breathing.  Coughing and burping causes immense pain throughout my right chest cavity.

At this time, I am on a significant amount of narcotics to help limit the pain.  As you can imagine, the constipation that has set in is becoming unmanageable.  I am chugging Natural Calm (Magnesium Citrate) in order to start the engine.  As I expected, I ended up overdoing it and paying the price for it all night long.  I’ll spare you the details.

I am visited by friends and family who continue to show their love and support for me.  They are positive and uplifting.  They help me realize that this is not forever, and I will get better.  They reassure me that everything at work is going smoothly, and I don’t need to do anything.  They promise me that my patients are doing fine, and they understand that I can’t help them right now.

I continue to walk around the hospital and practice breathing exercises. I am willing to be the best patient that I can be in order to get out of the hospital!

February 9, 2020 @ 11am

Another night of terrible pain, frequent interruptions, and minimal movement.  I am anxiously awaiting the chest tube removal, yet I’m also secretly scared of how much it will hurt.  Dr. Medbery comes by to remove the tube.  A Chest X-ray is done prior to the removal to make sure that I have not worsened.  Everything looks great, and she begins to reassure me that removing the chest tube will not hurt much at all.  I’m not inclined to believe her, but Dr. Fortes made me the same promise for inserting the chest tube … and he was right.  She undresses the tube, and she quickly removes the 12 inches of tube from my chest cavity.  It did cause a searing pain at the chest wall where it came out, but it was brief.  She quickly stitched the wound shut, and she said I should start feeling relief quickly.  She was right.  My chest began to hurt much less with less spastic feelings in my ribs. My dad noticed me using my right arm above my head (unintentionally), which I hadn’t done in a week.  As it turns out, this chest tube sticking through my ribs was causing a constant stabbing pain that would not go away.

Chest tube finally removed and waterproof bandage applied.
The second chest wound from surgery is glued shut, and it does not require a bandage.

By 2pm, I am given discharge instructions and finally allowed to leave the hospital.  I slowly hobble to my dad’s car with the little dignity that I have left.  I get home to see the loving, smiling faces of my children.  I am relieved that I will get to see them grow up.  I have never been this close to death, and I don’t plan to repeat it.

After about 2 hours of being awake, I went to bed.  Finally, without any interruptions in my sleep (other than pain), I sleep 16 hours straight.

Over the next several days, I continue to regain my strength and stamina as well as reduce my pain.  Tramadol was causing blurry vision, so I have only been using Ibuprofen to manage the pain.

From here on out, it’s all about getting stronger without pushing too hard or fast.  Luckily, I have multiple people in my life that will stop me before I injure myself again.

I have lost 11 pounds (5 pounds of muscle) since the beginning of the fevers. My appetite is finally coming back, and I am slowly working to improve my stamina. At this time, I can walk up the stairs without stopping due to shortness of breath. Please excuse the bathroom selfie, but these 2 scars will be my lifelong reminder to never ignore my health and to never take it for granted. I hope you do the same.

After 3 days of being discharged, I was allowed to take the bandage off.

— — — — —

Thank you to everyone who showed their love, kindness, and support for me.  You made an extremely difficult situation more tolerable and pleasant.

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What Draws Us in?

Ahhh… it’s almost impossible to resist the enticing colors, graphics, and slogans on the packaged food in our grocery stores. The corporations responsible for drawing as in are dang good at it, and it’s their job to use marketing and advertising to deceive us into thinking packaged food is on a pedestal. With all the “added vitamins” and claims such as “gluten free”, “vegan,” “your daily amount of fiber in one serving,” we are given the assumption that unpackaged, unprocessed food is simply inferior. 

You Mean I Was Deceived?

To be fair, the faces behind this marketing and advertising are paid to make you feel deceived and draw you in. With the constant bombardment of lifestyle trends, “diets”, and ways of eating (keto, vegan, carnivore, etc.), we are all left confused and bewildered at trying to figure out what we actually need. When packaged food claims to supply us with all of the nutrients we need plus more, it’s almost a no-brainer for us to just blindly listen. After all, we have our family to take care of, our job to work, and our own hectic schedule to manage. Leaving these decisions in the hands of the food “professionals”, who are mostly portrayed as brilliant scientists/chemists, gives us the ability to surrender and let someone else make those decisions for us. However, we don’t realize that added vitamins and minerals, preservatives, toxic chemicals, hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, artificial and natural flavors (which are the same thing – I’ll dive into this later), and other stabilizers are being added to our food. Nutrients are depleted during the processing. The food is started to look like food, but falsely resemble it. It’s quite heartbreaking, actually.

How am I Supposed to Know What to Eat?

How are we supposed to know what’s healthy and safe to eat, or what could be contributing to our ill health? That’s what we’re here for. Misleading health claims on packaged foods are designed in order to catch your attention and convince you that the product you’re eating is healthy. It’s a bit ironic seeing advertising needing to convince you that something you’re eating is healthy. You don’t see billboards, commercials, or mass advertisements for fresh produce, do you?  Let’s take a look at the most common marketing terms for packaged foods, and decipher it a bit.

There are terms designed to confused us and mislead, mostly seen as, “light, no added sugar, low calorie, low fat, low carb, fortified/enriched,  gluten free, GMO free, high fiber, heavy metal free, natural flavors, organic, etc.” 

Sign up for my course to learn what each of these marketing terms really mean, the difference between natural and organic, and how to intelligently navigate packaged foods!

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What is Food to Us?

To our society, food is more than just… food. Aside from nourishment, we use it to celebrate, to mourn, to seek comfort, and to indulge when we’re feeling excited or sad. Our produce is a gift from nature. It provides nourishment, helps us gently detoxify, and gives us the macro and micronutrients needed to power our body. One of my favorite quotes from Dr. Alejandro Junger is, “Food becomes us.” It builds our internal architecture that is responsible for every movement, thought, and chemical reaction in our body. It’s absolutely fascinating.

What Happened to Our Produce?

Although our produce is a gift from nature, our modern civilization has somehow managed to turn it into a monetized bartering system. Produce is now used as a financial gain for large companies, who are able to produce mass quantities by spraying them with toxic chemicals, coating them in shiny waxes, and changing the genetic makeup up them, all so they’re more desirable to the consumer. It’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that we have craved nature’s candy before mass consumerism decided to unapologetically inundate produce with toxins. 

What Toxins Are in Our Produce?

What are toxins? They are something that interferes with normal physiology and interferes with/impacts normal bodily function. In the world of produce, these toxins are herbicides, pesticides, and other chemicals used for aesthetic purposes. 

Consuming large quantities of chemicals, herbicides, and pesticides, was not apart of our original human design. One of the most consistently toxic food items we consume on a daily basis is conventional/non-organic produce. Conventional produce is sprayed with toxic chemicals that can cause neurological disorders, hormone disruption, cause cancer, lead to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and even cause cellular death. Pesticides and herbicides are known neurotoxins associated with these conditions.

Download my free PDF to learn the difference between conventional and organic produce, how these toxins negatively affect our health, and how to intelligently choose specific produce for your healing journey!

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Is Our “Food” Actually Food?

Transitioning food in  your pantry and the staples in your kitchen into clean, healthful options can be a bit overwhelming. We’ve been given these “tools” from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help us decipher what’s in the package food we choose to buy. However, they’ve done a fantastic job at misleading us as customers. With multi-colored, vibrant packing, buzz words, and marketing terms to coax us into buying their products, we have fallen into thinking we are making healthful choices. We couldn’t be more wrong. Taking the bold, yet powerful, move to transition your food into more clean options can be overwhelming in itself. When you add the marketing and advertising fluff that’s inundated our foods in the grocery stores, even stores who claim to be superior in health food products like Whole Foods and Central Market, you can become more massively overwhelmed. At this point, I’m sure you thinking, “What the heck do I eat?!” There are a few tips and tricks to help make this process easier, hopefully alleviating stress throughout your health journey.

What are the Requirements for Nutritional Labels?

The Nutrition Facts labels is one of the most confusing tools the FDA has given us. It seems a bit straightforward, thinking, “Oh, okay. I see how much fat, calories, and sugar is in this. Perfect.” It seems easy enough, but the somehow brilliantly deceptive minds behind these claims have found a way to sneak in toxic ingredients, mislead our way of thinking, and deceive us by thinking we are making healthful choices. While the basic information of these labels are helpful, they still are a bit difficult to decipher. The Nutrition Facts label us required to list all ingredients in food on its label in accordance with these rules and regulations:

Ingredients must be listed in descending order, with the highest percentage of ingredients listed first.
  • They must be listed in descending order by ingoing weight. This means the first ingredient listed is the largest contributor to the food product itself. The last product makes up the lowest percentage of the food. All the ingredients which make up a compound ingredient must be declared in the ingredient list, except when the compound ingredient is used in amounts of less than 5% of the final food. This means they can not disclose ingredients that are less than 5%, which leaves room for deceptiveness. In this small percentage of food, there can be food allergies, toxic chemicals, additives, and other ingredients that can take a toll on your health, which is pretty frightening to think about.
  • Always check the first 3 ingredients, as they make up the majority percentage of the food you’re eating.
  • If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, the product is inherently unhealthy.

Certain ingredients can be listed underneath broad/vague terms such as “artificial coloring,” “artificial flavors,” “natural flavors,” “spices,” and more. 
  • We’ve discussed earlier that natural and artificial flavors are toxic to your health, but we haven’t addressed the fact that other ingredients can sneak into these umbrella terms. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be included under “spices,” and this is one of the most popular and dangerous additives. MSG has been linked to brain damage, nervous disorders, and even cellular death. 
The names of any FDA-approved color additives must be included in the label. 
  • This, yet again, does not mean an ingredient is healthy if allowed by the FDA. These colors include Blue No. 1, Yellow No. 5, Red No. 1 and No. 3, and more. They’re found in sodas, candies, packaged cereals, and more. While allowed on the U.S. Nutrition Label and in our food, they are banned in countries such as France, Finland, Norway, and other European countries. They are synthetically produced and can lead to brain tumors, chromosomal damage, bladder damage, lymphomas, hyperactivity, thyroid tumors, allergies, insomnia, aggression and violent behavior.
If a food contains one of the eight major food allergies, it must be included in the label. 
  • This includes: milk, eggs, fin fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat. If a spice, color, or flavor includes one of these ingredients, they must be labeled separately in addition to the other ingredients.

Sign up for my course to learn the top 4 toxic ingredients to look out for, the hidden names they’re listed under, how these toxins make us sicker, deciphering better options, examples of “clean” Nutrition Labels, and more!

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Learning to navigate produce?

While popularly the most neglected treasure in our American society, produce is one of the most important staples of grocery shopping. The massive array of vegetables and fruit in the grocery store is the most enticing set up. Not only is it an artistic marvel the way its arrayed in a rainbow ombré across the perimeter of the store, it’s the section that quite literally gives us the kick in our step. 

Why is color important?

Fruits, vegetables, herbs, etc.should be the staple and core bulk of our daily diet. In an ideal world, we would incorporate each different color, size, shape, and texture into our daily diet. However, sometimes that abundance is a bit unattainable for people who are constantly on the run, have a hectic work schedule, or an “on the go” life at home. Regardless, simply an effort towards implementing this wide array of nature’s nutrients is still possible. The phytonutrients of the plants are what give each one their vibrant colors and unique health properties. Each of these nutrients are essential to our health, supplying fuel and crucial building blocks for every cell in our body. 

How can I implement a rainbow of color?

By eating a “rainbow” of vegetables and fruits, you can maximize your intake of a broad range of nutrients, supporting every system in our body. This can be as simple as adding a quarter of a roasted beets with orange slices to your breakfast. Or, it can look like adding some blueberries in addition to the vibrantly pink strawberries and toasted creme-colored coconut in your morning granola. It doesn’t have to be a huge addition to make an impact. Plus, who doesn’t like to look at a colorful plate, avoiding the mundaneness and blandness that can sometimes creep into our meals? Adding in the rainbow during your meals gives us access to utilizing our creative side. It may seem a bit silly, but simple things such as making your food a more theatrical and colorful addition to your day can make you feel uplifted and, if you’re a food geek like me, slightly excited.

Download my free PDF to learn the powerful properties of each color and why it’s important to implement a “rainbow” of produce into your diet!

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Why Should You Purge?

Cleaning out your kitchen is the first step you should take while transitioning into a clean lifestyle. We’re aware of the addictive chemicals in ingredients like sugar, natural and artificial flavors, and other additives, which means we need to be continuously conscious of what we’re storing in our house. Keeping an addictive food product or food you know isn’t healthful/a benefit to you in the home will only set you up for failure. You’re working so dang hard on progressing, why hinder it with a constant tease waiting for your in your pantry? Out of sight, out of mind. It’s so much easier to avoid temptation when those stupidly delicious cookies aren’t luring you in every time you walk past the pantry door.

What is the Main Goal?

The main goal of cleaning out your pantry is to remove all major culprits that can cause inflammation, illness, weight gain, fatigue, and much more. These bulk items are breads, pastas, cereals, granolas, bulk rice, vegetable oils, refined sugars, and processed food. This can be very intimidating, but I have faith in you. Yes, even from behind this computer screen. I’ve found that spending a dedicated amount of time to the purge may seem daunting, but it’s setting you up for success in the long run. Taking everything out of your pantry, then only putting food back into there that will support your healthy journey is the most effective.

Sign up for my free PDF to learn how a nutritionist suggests for you to purge your pantry and refrigerator!

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What’s the Core of Transitioning Your Diet?

Alright, y’all, here comes to meat and potatoes of our health journey: navigating the grocery store. So, you’ve discovered to wanted to transition into a clean, whole-foods based diet, and want to propel yourself into an energetic, healthy, youthful person. You’ve been given instruction on what foods to eat, what foods to remove, how to transition your diet, and you soon. Then, you walk into a grocery store, and become completely overwhelmed with the options and what to choose. Sound familiar? This happens with most patients, and has happened with myself when I first began this journey. 

Isn’t This Intimidating?

The grocery store is intimidating. Point, blank, period. It doesn’t have to be, though. Most people find going to the grocery store a bit unnerving: it’s jam packed with people, condensed with thousands of food products, and it seems as if they’re always rearranging the aisles every week (is that just me?). Unless you’re a strange food-obsessed person like I am, you most likely avoid going to the grocery store at all costs. It seems a bit daunting to begin with, and now that you’re transitioning your diet, it seems near impossible to be successful with shopping. You’re not alone in thinking this, which is why I want to help you find a smooth way to conquer this.

So, where do we start?

Sign up for my free PDF to learn how a nutritionist navigates a grocery store, helps implement staples for your health journey, and helps you understand the difference between “buzz words” on your food and the actual nutritional value!

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How to determine your ApoE genotype from 23andMe raw data

If you are reading this article, you probably already know the reason for understanding your ApoE status. If you have any copies of the ApoE4 gene, then you are at increased risk of inflammation, heart disease, strokes, and Alzheimer’s.

This gene has gotten all the attention in the Alzheimer’s department, but I want you to know that this gene has much larger ramifications.

You can deactivate this gene by eating a diet low in refined sugars / carbohydrates, high in vegetables, and full of great fats.

If you have an ApoE4, you need to make sure that you are tracking your inflammation because you may need to get more aggressive based on your disease activity.

ApoE4 determines are you disease RISK; whereas, inflammation testing determines your actual disease ACTIVITY.

Disease Risk = Do I have the ability to have the disease?
Disease Activity = Do I have presence of the disease?

What do my genes mean?

You get 2 copies of the ApoE gene.
Disease Risk: If you get one copy of ApoE4, then you are at increased risk.
For example: ApoE 3/4 or ApoE 2/4

Disease Risk: If you get two copies of ApoE4, then you are at an extremely high risk. Luckily, this is very rare.
For example: ApoE 4/4

Low risk: If you do not get any ApoE4, then you are at lower risk, but it does not mean that you cannot develop Alzheimer’s.
For example: ApoE 3/3, ApoE 2/2, or ApoE 2/3

Instructions how to determine your ApoE Status:

1) Login to 23andMe
2) Click the dropdown menu in the top right by your name.
3) Click “Browse Raw Data”
4) Type rs429358 and search
5) Write down what’s written under “Your Genotype”
6) Type rs7412 and search
7) Write down what’s written under “Your Genotype”
8) Look at the graphic below to determine your ApoE status.

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Urinary Tract Infections Treated By A Natural Sugar? Impossible!

Urinary Tract Infections D-Mannose

Urinary Tract Infections | If this title grabbed your attention, then you or someone you know has had a urinary tract infection and would like to know a natural way to treat or even prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). It seems impossible that a sugar could prevent such a common illness, but it is true. This natural sugar is called D-Mannose.

D-Mannose may cure up to 90% of Urinary Tract Infections. I am sure that you have heard of drinking cranberry juice to treat UTI symptoms, but it is usually ineffective because it does not contain enough D-Mannose.

D-Mannose Urinary Tract Infections

D-Mannose is a sugar that humans absorb and urinate out unchanged, so it is considered calorie-free. It is a naturally occurring sugar, and it is not related to synthetic sugars like Aspartame.

To understand how D-Mannose works, it is important to understand a few basic concepts.

d-mannose e coli

E. coli is a bacteria that is normally found in our large intestine, and it is the most common bacteria that infects human urinary tracts (UTI), including bladder infections (Cystitis) and kidney infections (Pyelonephritis). Because the anus and urinary tract are close in proximity, the same bacteria that colonize our bowels cause urinary tract infections. E. coli is the most likely pathogen because it has finger-like protrusions called lectins that allow it to stick to our urinary tract. Since they can stick to the walls, urine is unlikely to rinse these bacteria away. However, these lectins have a higher affinity for D-Mannose than our human urinary tract walls. Therefore, by ingesting D-Mannose, the D-Mannose is absorbed by our bowels and filtered by the kidneys, placed into the urine, and coats the E. coli’s lectins. A lectin bound to D-Mannose cannot bind to the urinary tract wall.

Therefore, the next time that you urinate, you will simply rinse away the E. coli bacteria.

Urinary Tract Infections D-mannose uti

It is important to note that D-Mannose does not kill the E. coli bacteria, so if your doctor performs a urine culture, your urine may still grow E. coli. You will know that the D-Mannose is working if your symptoms are improving.

D-Mannose is readily absorbed in your upper intestinal tract, so it will not affect the E. coli present in your large intestine (or colon). You want and need E. coli in your colon, but it is an unwelcome visitor in your urinary tract.

D-Mannose is safe for children to take, and it does not have any known side effects. Plus, since D-Mannose is a sugar, it tastes great! … much better than antibiotics.

How do I take D-Mannose?

For an infection in adults, it is recommended to take ½ teaspoon (1-2 grams) every 4 hours while awake or (minimum 3 times per day). It can be mixed with any liquid, including water, tea, juice. You will need to take it for at least 2 days, but you should continue it for longer if symptoms are persisting. For kids, simply substitute a ¼ teaspoon instead of ½ teaspoon.

If you would like to use D-Mannose for preventing UTIs, then there are several options. Over time, you will likely discover the dosage and timing that works best for you. If you do not know your triggers, then you should take ½ teaspoon once or twice daily. If you know a potential trigger like intercourse or hot tubs, then you should take ½ teaspoon roughly 1 hour before and 2 hours after the known trigger.

D-Mannose is much better for your system than antibiotics. Use of antibiotics can disrupt your healthy bacterial balance in your intestines. One round of antibiotics can disrupt your microflora for years. Imbalanced bacteria continue to be linked to all kinds of conditions, including asthma, Crohn’s disease, and inflammation.

Since D-Mannose does not kill bacteria, it does not contribute to the antibiotic resistance organisms that are on a rampage. D-Mannose is useful against drug-resistant E. coli since it does not use the same mechanism as antibiotics.

D-Mannose will not work if any bacteria other than E. coli is causing your urinary tract infection. However, as we discussed earlier, 90% of UTIs are caused by E. coli.

Do not use D-Mannose in place of antibiotics if you are really sick. If you are having symptoms like fever, nausea, vomiting, or low blood pressure, you need urgent antibiotics. As always, consult with your medical doctor before using D-Mannose to treat urinary tract infections. If an infection is not clearing up, you should seek out your healthcare provider. D-Mannose does not treat kidney infections (pyelonephritis) as the infection is too severe, and it is infiltrating the kidney tissue, which is not exposed to D-Mannose in the urine.

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