Next to iron, zinc is the most common mineral in the body and is found in every cell. It has an important role in the workings of the muscular system, reproductive systems in both men and women, and proper insulin and thyroid function. Zinc is a catalyst for the vitality of the skin and wound healing. However, zinc is probably best known for supporting the healthy functioning of the immune system.

Several studies have shown that zinc lozenges or syrup reduced the length of a cold, especially when taken within 24 hours of the first signs and symptoms. Studies also show that taking zinc regularly might reduce the number of colds each year, the number of missed school days, and the amount of antibiotics required in otherwise healthy children. New studies are also looking at how the body uses zinc and whether or not taking zinc can improve the treatment of celiac disease, diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease.

There are several forms of zinc, but not all are easily absorbed or appropriate for every person. The two best forms are zinc gluconate, and zinc citrate. According to the National Academy of Health Sciences, the need for a zinc supplement varies based on age, gender, pregnancy status, and other health factors. Zinc can interfere with the actions of some medications and can even affect the utilization of other minerals, such as copper. It's best to first consult with Dr. Bossio before taking zinc.

Image Attribution: phasinphoto/bigstockphoto.com

Pink Glow Juice

The name might tickle little girls pink, but for boys, renaming this one Red Rocket Fuel is sure to get them fired up!

10 medium-sized seedless oranges, segmented (suggest Cara Cara or tangelo, if available)
8 medium-sized carrots, roughly chopped
1 medium-sized beetroot, roughly chopped
15 strawberries (seasonal)
1 cup crushed ice for serving

Combine all the ingredients together and blend in a mixer till smooth.
Strain the juice using a strainer, add the ice, and mix well.
Place ¼ cup of ice in 4 individual glasses and pour equal quantities of the juice over it.
Serve immediately.


Green "Super Hero" Juice

green juic

If you are having trouble getting your kids to even look at a glass of green juice (never mind drinking it), what you call it can make all the difference in the world. A few examples: Ninja Turtle Power Juice, Green Lantern Super Juice, or use the name of any green-colored character that happens to be your child's favorite. You can also freeze juice as ice pops.

5 cups spinach
1 bunch kale (~8 stalks)
6 medium carrots
2 Golden Delicious apples
1 lemon (peeled)
3 slices of golden honeydew (could substitute cantaloupe or pineapple chunks)

Rinse all produce, even if using organic items. Use a juicer (or Vitamix-type blender) and mix to desired consistency. Smoother tends to be more palatable for younger children and easier for digestion. Yields 42 oz.

Image Attribution: Jeni Foto/bigstockphoto.com

Power of Juicing


While fresh, whole forms of produce are often best for our bodies, there are times when you might not be able to chow down on mixed veggies. For example, during times of illness or stress, appetite and digestive patterns can change, rendering our bodies less efficient at digesting and absorbing nutrients. That makes juicing an ideal way to nourish your body with the important nutrients found in nature's bounty.

Juicing extracts the juice from fresh fruits or vegetables. The resulting liquid contains most of the vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals (phytonutrients) found in the whole fruit. However, whole fruits and vegetables also have healthy fiber, which can be lost in the process of liquefying, especially if you remove the skins from fruits and vegetables.

Juicing can provide a healthy quick fix for busy mornings or eating on the run. When it comes to kids, juicing can be a fun and tasty way to get them to eat foods they tend to push off the plate. For all ages, juicing is an alternative to taking a multivitamin, provided there is variety in your selection of fruits and vegetables. As always, try to use organic products.

Juicing Tips

You can find many juicing recipes online and in books. Or, experiment with mixing up your own combinations of fruits and vegetables to suit your taste.

When juicing, keep some of the pulp. It contains healthy fiber and can help fill you up.
Many juicing recipes use only fruits and/or recommend adding additional forms of sugar - be it honey or agave. It may be best to first taste your juice for sweetness and blend in sweetener, if needed.

Many prepared juices and juice smoothies may contain more sugar and calories than you realize; these extra calories can contribute to weight gain. Read labels.


Nutraceuticals for Healthy Hair, Skin, and Nails

healthy hair

The condition of your skin, nails, and hair are a reflection of your overall state of health. A variety of factors can affect their condition, including genetics, exposure to tobacco smoke, sun damage, medication and drug use, and nutritional deficiencies. Eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to keep the integumentary system--that's your hair, nails, and skin--healthy. Additionally, vitamin supplementation can support the biological processes that maintain the health of the integumentary system. Supplementation can be especially important for helping to tame the symptoms of hypothyroidism, which is known to adversely affect the condition of hair, skin, and nails.

Vitamin formulas for healthy hair, skin, and nails contain many of the same nutrients that your entire body needs for growth and maintenance of cells. Hair, skin, and nails also respond well to vitamins that support keratin production. Keratin is a protein that is an essential building block for the integumentary system. Talk to Dr. Bossio about the following key supplements that can give strength and shine to your hair, skin, and nails.

Biotin & the mighty B vitamins. The B-complex (B12, B3, and B6) is vital for hair and skin growth. Biotin, also a B vitamin, is sometimes used to help reduce or prevent hair loss. Some people do not get enough biotin in their diet, resulting in a deficiency. In such cases, research has shown taking biotin supplements may help alleviate hair thinning. Biotin-rich foods include peanut butter, eggs, avocados, legumes, and bananas.

Vitamin D is important for hair follicle cycling, especially for individuals who live in northern parts of the United States where sunlight is limited. Salmon, mushrooms, beef liver, and grains are great sources of vitamin D.

Zinc is a key mineral for hair growth, wound healing, healthy skin, and immune function. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, oysters, lamb, turkey, pumpkin seeds, and chocolate.

Horsetail, a herb, acts as an antibacterial and has a remineralizing effect. It is rich in flavonoids, potassium, and silicon, which are vital to the functioning of rapidly growing tissues such as skin and nails. It also has a key role in the synthesis of collagen.

Vitamins C & E both have many important functions, including protecting cells from damage and boosting immunity. Good sources are seeds, dark green veggies, safflower oil, and citrus fruits.

Essential fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 fats have been shown to reduce inflammation and support skin and scalp health. You can obtain essential fatty acids from eating cold-water fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies, tuna, pollock, or shrimp. However, these fish can contain high levels of heavy metals--that's not a good thing. Limit your intake of these fish to just two or three times a month. If you are averse to eating fish, or are vegan, a flaxseed oil supplement is a good alternative.


Image Attribution: Subbotina Anna/bigstockphoto.com

Brazil Nuts (Bertholletia Excelsa)

brazil nuts

Reaching 160 feet tall and living up to 700 years, Brazil nut trees produce fruit in pristine forests, native to regions such as the Guianas, Brazil, Peru, and Venezuela. Native Amazonians cherished these behemoths for their delicious nuts, which provided them much-needed protein, fats, and other essential nutrients.  Indeed, Brazil nuts are calorie and nutrient dense. High in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-6 fatty acids, a one-ounce (6-7 nuts) serving provides about 185 calories, 5 grams of protein, and a rich supply of magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. In fact, Brazil nuts are the highest natural source of selenium (543 mcg in 1 oz.).  A potent micronutrient, scientific evidence to date suggests that selenium might play a role in the prevention or treatment of heart disease, cognitive decline, liver disease, some types of cancer, and thyroid disease. Selenium concentrations are highest in the thyroid gland, and it has a vital role in the functioning of the gland. Just two Brazil nuts a day make it easy for most people to meet their daily selenium requirement.

Don't go overboard on Brazil nuts--too much selenium in the diet can cause brittle nails, alopecia, rash, upset stomach, and fatigue. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences advises a maximum limit of 45 mcg of selenium for kids and 400 mcg for adults daily. The best way to enjoy Brazil nuts is to combine a few with other types of nuts, seeds, and raisins. Sprinkle on salad, yogurt, or blend into a smoothie.


Image Attribution: Hans-Joachim Schneider/bigstockphoto.com

Sunny Trio: Vitamins C, D, and E

rainbow diet

For added skin protection and cellular repair, add in this potent vitamin trio by eating vitamin-rich foods or by taking them in supplement form. Vitamin C is an essential skin nutrient because its potent antioxidant properties help repair sun damage. It is also absolutely essential for collagen repair. This can help protect your skin from premature aging and sun damage. Vitamin E is another critical skin nutrient with potent antioxidant properties that help protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin E is essential for the overall health of your skin, and has cancer-fighting properties that make it a great skin supplement. The final skin nutrient is Vitamin D, which plays a significant role in wound healing and tissue repair, and makes the skin less photosensitive and susceptible to sun damage. Most people have low or deficient levels of Vitamin D in their system. You can add vitamins C and E to your diet by eating fresh summer salads full of fruits and veggies. Try to add in as many colors of the rainbow as you can when selecting produce. Add in fresh smoothies filled with leafy greens, citrus fruits, melons, and healthy oils like wheat germ and sunflower. Vitamin D can only be added with either sun exposure or in supplement form. Before adding nutrients in supplement form, talk with Dr. Bossio. Vitamin E and D are both fat soluble and must be used at the correct dose. In addition, Dr. Bossio can help you choose high quality supplements from reputable companies.


  • United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 13, 1999.
  • Mindell E. Earl Mindell's Supplement Bible. Mindell paperback, 1998:20.
  • Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, Simonetti RG, Gluud C. Mortality in randomized trials of antioxidant supplements for primary and secondary prevention: systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA 2007;297:842-57.
  • Marz, R. (1999). Medical Nutrition. 2nd Edition. Omni-Press. Portland, OR: 235-241..
  • "Vitamin D and Skin Health". Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Research for Optimal Health. Oregon State University Website.

Image Attribution: Jamesmcq24/istockphoto.com

Minerals for Your Health


Minerals are important nutrients in your diet that help the body maintain good health and resist infection--including the mouth and teeth. Minerals are inorganic elements that come from the earth, soil, and water and are absorbed by plants. Animals and humans absorb minerals from the plants they eat.

There are two kinds of minerals--macrominerals and trace minerals--that your body uses within its cells for many different jobs. Macrominerals are required in larger amounts and are necessary for processes such as building bones, making hormones, contracting muscles, and regulating your heartbeat. They also play a role in brain function. Macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur. Trace minerals, including iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium, are needed in much smaller quantities.

Consuming too much or too little of any mineral can have negative effects on health. For most people in good health, a safe range for consumption of minerals has been established (see Resources). Personal variation comes into play depending on one's region, history of illness, and dietary restrictions.

Conventional wisdom dictates that the best way to get the minerals (and vitamins) your body needs is to eat a balanced diet that includes a wide variety of foods. However, recent research shows that while the vitamin content of food remains relatively stable over time, mineral content is becoming depleted. There are many reasons for this; erosion, farming practices, pollution, and even the way we cook can affect the nutrient density of both conventionally and organically harvested foods. Consequently, Dr. Bossio may recommend trace mineral supplementation even for someone eating the healthiest diet possible.

Bionutrient Food Association.
Human Performance Resource Center. "Food Sources of Minerals."
Recommended Intake and Functions of Minerals.


  • Coulston, A., C. Boushey, and M.G. Ferruzzi, eds. Nutrition in the Prevention and Treatment of Disease. Oxford: Academic Press, 2013.
  • Davis, D.R. "Declining Fruit and Vegetable Nutrient Composition: What Is the Evidence?" HortScience 44, no. 1 (February 2009): 15-19.
  • Foundation for Alternative and Integrative Medicine. "Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrient Dense Foods." Accessed March 2015.
  • Kabata-Pendias, A. Trace Elements in Soils and Plants. Boca Raton: CRC Press, 2011.
  • Marler, J.B., and J. Wallin. "Human Health, the Nutritional Quality of Harvested Food and Sustainable Farming Systems." Nutrition Security Institute White Paper. Bellevue: WA, 2006.
  • Thomas, D. "A Study on the Mineral Depletion of the Foods Available to Us as a Nation over the Period 1940 to 1991." Nutrition and Health 17, no. 2 (April 2003): 85-115.

Image Attribution: Johan_Larson/bigstock.com

Power Up Your Gut with Fermented Foods

fermented food

Fermented foods may be setting trends on The Huffington Post, but these nutrient-potent foods have been around for thousands of years in Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and German cultures. For people living without modern medicine and refrigeration, fermentation was a simple means of food preservation and a way to imbue foods with the health-enhancing properties of the live bacteria the gut needs to stay in balance. Fermented foods are a potent source of probiotics, which research has shown are essential to powering up the mucosal immune system in your digestive tract and producing antibodies to pathogens. Both are key to helping you maintain vibrant health.

You may not even realize just how many fermented foods you already enjoy in your diet (see list). Incorporate more of these probiotic powerhouses into meals, and put those good-for-you organisms back into action in your gut.

Fermented Foods Short List

  • Cultured Dairy: Yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, sour cream, some cheeses
  • Veggies: Beets, radishes, tomatoes, onions, garlic, kimchi, green beans, sauerkraut
  • Condiments fermented at home or commercially: ketchup, relish, salsa, chutney
  • Other: Miso, tempeh, tofu, soy sauce

Fermented Food Facts & Tips

  • All fermented foods must be kept cool to maintain the live cultures.
  • Food labels must be marked "fermented."
  • Fermented and "pasteurized" do not go together. Pasteurization kills live cultures.
  • Pickled is not the same as fermented (unless indicated on the label). Pickled foods are soaked in vinegar or brine.
  • Choose organic, non-GMO items or locally farmed products.
  • Start with small servings of fermented foods, one to two times a day.
  • Toss fermented veggies into salads; enjoy as a snack or as a side dish.
  • Add a spoonful or two to your morning smoothie (e.g., beets, kefir).

Food for Thought
Fermenting foods on your own may seem intimidating and difficult. Here are some resources and recipes for beginners and pros alike.


Image Attribution: wollertz/bigstock.com

Selecting the Right Fish for Your Health


Fish and shellfish are low in fat, high in protein, and good sources of iodine, vitamin D, and selenium—nutrients often deficient in the American diet. Many fish are rich in “good fats,” particularly polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids. The two most beneficial types of fats, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), have been shown to reduce inflammation and severity of heart and retinal diseases. Research shows that children born to mothers who ate low-mercury seafood during pregnancy experienced better functioning brain and nervous systems. Additionally, a diet rich in omega-3s has been shown to lower blood triglycerides and decrease the risk of sudden death from heart disease.
Despite these benefits, there is cause for concern. Decades of industrial activity have contaminated our waterways with mercury and other pollutants. These contaminants end up in seafood. While most commercial fish and shellfish contain some mercury, concentrations vary depending on the age of the fish, region of harvest, and diet (e.g., predators such as sharks eat smaller fish that accumulate mercury).
Which Fish Are the Healthiest?
Which fish are richest in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury? You’re not going to find that information in the grocery store, but the Environmental Working Group provides an extensive analysis of seafood. Their consumer-friendly guidelines illustrate which fish are safest/healthiest to eat and which fish to avoid.
Here’s a summary of their listing to help you incorporate more of the right kind of seafood into your diet:

  • Very high omegas, low mercury: wild salmon, sardines, mussels, rainbow trout, Atlantic mackerel
  • High omegas, low mercury: oysters, anchovies, herring
  • Low mercury, lower omegas: shrimp, catfish, tilapia, swai, clams, scallops
  • Increasing levels of mercury: canned light and albacore tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, sea bass
  • Avoid*: shark, swordfish, marlin, king mackerel, tilefish

* FDA advisory organizations recommend pregnant women and children never eat these species.


Image Attribution: alexraths/bigstock.com

Parsley: More than Just a Garnish


Often thought of only as garnish for a pretty plate, parsley is a delicious, vibrant green herb with many culinary uses and health benefits. The seed, leaf, and root all can be used in preparation of foods, teas, and medicines. It is widely used in Mediterranean and Eastern European cuisine.
A member of the celery family, parsley is a biennial plant that contains two types of unusual components that provide unique health benefits: volatile oils and flavonoids. The active mechanisms of the volatile oil components qualify parsley as a “chemoprotective” food, which means it can help neutralize certain carcinogens such as those found in cigarette smoke. Flavonoids have been shown to function in the body as antioxidants, which can prevent oxygen damage to cells.
Parsley is also a vitamin-dense herb. A one-half cup serving provides exceptional amounts of vitamins K, C, and A. In fact, it contains three times as much vitamin C as an orange! It also is rich in folate and has twice the iron of spinach for equivalent serving sizes.
Overall, because of its nutrient-rich antioxidant profile, parsley may offer health protective benefits for the cardiovascular system, joints, and digestive system. Medicinally, parsley has been used in both ancient times and as a complementary treatment for symptoms of urinary tract infection and upset stomach.
To reap the benefits of parsley in your diet, try:

  • sprinkling parsley into stews, casseroles, sauces, soups, and rice dishes;
  • adding raw parsley (stems and leaves) to salads;
  • blending raw parsley with other herbs and fruits to make a “green smoothie”; or
  • sprinkling atop fish in the last few moments of grilling.
  • Wash fresh parsley immediately before use; place in cold water, swish around, and then drain. Repeat until all dirt washes away. 


Image Attribution:  looby/bigstock.com

Evolve to Better Health in 2015, Guaranteed

new year's resolution

New Year's resolutions don't have to be intense, hard-to-achieve dreams. In fact, they shouldn't be! Studies have shown that setting small goals is actually more effective for creating lasting change, which is exactly what you want when it comes to improving your health. The American Psychological Association suggests changing only one behavior at a time. So, instead of trying to focus on implementing a bunch of healthy changes all at once, start by evolving just one behavior in January. Add the next behavior modification in February, and so on. Also, remember that it takes time and repetition to develop a new behavior. Just the term "New Year resolution" can sabotage people into subconsciously believing that the changes they make at the start of the year are just that - only at the start of the year. Instead, try thinking of your resolutions as "new you evolutions." This will help you commit to the changes you are making as a new and improved lifestyle, rather than a short-term solution to a problem.
Here are 5 small-but-mighty steps to get you started on your health evolution.
1. Redefine your plate. This means control portion sizes and embrace the two-thirds rule. Modern portion sizes are grossly out of touch with what our bodies actually require to live and thrive. You might try using smaller plates or measuring tools to help you control your portion sizes. And, a healthy, balanced plate should be covered with two-thirds of green, meaning healthful, fresh vegetables of some sort. The other third, should contain your protein and a small amount of complex carbs. Save the fruit for breakfast, snack or dessert.

2. Treat your body to plenty of H2O. You're body loves water! In fact, it is made almost entirely of water. And just like any body of water, your body requires a steady flow of water to avoid dehydration. Just how much water you actually need depends upon your weight. Multiply your weight by two-thirds or 67%. The product of that equation is roughly how much water you should take in daily. To help you meet this goal, try drinking a 16 ounce glass of water before every meal. As a bonus, this practice will also help you feel full and help you to control your eating. You might also try sneaking in a couple of glasses in the morning, and another before bed. Keeping track of your intake can be made easier by using a specified water bottle or source container.

3. Add 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you're not already an active person, start small. This could be as simple as taking a brisk walk through your neighborhood, stretching shortly after waking, and taking the stairs anywhere you go. All of these things will help get your blood flowing throughout the day, and will help you easily fit exercise into your schedule. After a couple of weeks of daytime warm-up, or if you're already an athletic person, find other activities to give yourself a more challenging workout. Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine.

4. Get a boost with supplements. While it's best to get your vitamins from natural sources, it might behoove you to go the extra mile with supplements. Although many supplements can be found over-the-counter, each person is different will do best with an individualized supplement regimen. Talk to Dr. Bossio about what supplements are the most beneficial for you.

5. Catch some zzzzzs. Sleep is one of the best things you can possibly do for your health. Sleep helps reduce cortisol and stress levels, while allowing your body time to recharge. Whether sitting at a desk all day or actively taking life by the horns, we all need plenty of sleep. The general rule of thumb is 8-10 hours of restful sleep per night.


Making Lifestyle Changes that Last. American Psychological Association.

Murray, N.D., Michael, and Pizzorno, N.D., Joseph. 2012. New York, NY: Atria Paperback. The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine.

Image Attribution: Gustavo Frazao/bigstock.com


The Healthiest Food is Home-Cooked


A study by researchers at Emory University suggests that Americans eat fewer than 70 percent of their meals at home. Still, the outlook for the health of Americans may be even more bleak when we consider the incredibly low percentage of fresh, whole foods purchased, compared to the disproportionately high sales of frozen, already-cooked meals. To help boost your health this year, strive to cook at home more often. From choosing your ingredients, to preparing and cooking for nutrient preservation, home cooking allows you to have complete control over what goes into your body. Cooking at home also allows you the ability to manage food allergies and sensitivities, as well as portion sizes. Furthermore, regularly preparing and eating healthy home cooked meals will help train your palate to enjoy healthier fare, while improving your creative cooking skills.

Short on time? Try setting 1-2 days aside each week to do cooking for the week. Cook in large enough quantities that you can enjoy your home-cooked food as left-overs. On your cooking days, clean, prepare and package raw veggies like carrots, cucumbers, celery or chard for quick grab and go snacks. Remember to store food in glass whenever possible.

If you are at a loss on how to start cooking at home, check out classes offered locally or check out any one of hundreds of online cooking websites and videos. This video is a wonderful way to sum it all up: How Cooking can Change Your Life - Michael Pollan.

The Advantages of a Home Cooked Meal. The San Francisco Gate.
How to store and cook foods to preserve the most nutrients at World's Healthiest Foods.

Image Attribution: Kasia Bialasiewicz/bigstock.com

Swiss Chard

swiss chard

Despite its name, Swiss chard is not actually Swiss. In fact, it is native to the Mediterranean region and dates back to at least the fourth century B.C., when it was prized by the ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, for its medicinal properties. A leafy green vegetable, Swiss chard boasts an exceptionally impressive variety and concentration of health-promoting minerals and nutrients, including vitamins C, E, A and K, manganese, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium, fiber and protein. It is also an excellent source of phytonutrients, including a variety of some three dozen or more carotenoids and flavonoids, evident in the vibrant red, purple and yellow pigments of chard's stalks and veins. On the whole, this "superfood" offers extensive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, supports the nervous system, eye and bone health, helps prevent oxidative stress and helps regulate blood sugar in a variety of ways. Studies of Swiss chard have revealed this vegetable's unique blood-sugar regulating benefit, which comes from one of its premiere flavonoids, syringic acid.  This compound inhibits the enzyme alpha-glucosidase from breaking down carbohydrates into simple sugars. For tips on how to select and store and cook with Swiss chard, visit World's Healthiest Foods.


Swiss Chard. The World's Healthiest Foods.

Image Attribution: salsachica/RGBstock.com

Stop Metabolic Syndrome Before it Starts

metobolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is killing America. This group of risk factors - which includes a large waistline or "apple shape," a high triglyceride level, a low HDL "good" cholesterol level, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar - can raise your risk of stroke, double your risk of heart disease and multiply your risk of diabetes by five.

You must exhibit at least three of these risk factors to be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome. Although the risk of developing metabolic syndrome is closely linked to obesity, a lack of physical activity at any body size, as well as insulin resistance, genetics and aging may also increase your risk for metabolic syndrome. As a general rule, everyone should pay attention to metabolic health. Luckily, committing to a healthy lifestyle can help you prevent metabolic syndrome and its related disease states.

Here are 5 areas to be mindful of:

1. Maintain a balanced diet of whole foods. Limit unhealthy foods. Instead, reach for fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Mediterranean diet are centered on real, whole foods and provide excellent guidelines for eating for your health, metabolic and otherwise.

2. Get up and move! Moderate exercise - such as taking a brisk walk - for 30 minutes each day will drastically improve your body's defenses against developing metabolic syndrome and a host of other ailments.

3. Reduce your sugar intake. Honey was the primary sweetener until the Middle Ages when sugar was introduced. Still, due to primitive production techniques, both sweeteners were primarily reserved for the well-to-do. In fact, up until the last few hundred years, the majority of people, especially the poor, had no sweeteners at all in their normal diet, so obesity was seen primarily among the wealthy. Observational data and international research suggest a strong link between sugar-laden diets and metabolic syndrome, obesity, hypertension and diabetes. One of the easiest ways to reduce your sugar intake is to ditch soft-drinks and other sugary drinks, including processed juices. You can also cut out candy and cut back on how often you enjoy a sugary dessert. Missing the sweet in your life? Enjoy a piece of fruit, or opt for a small amount of raw honey as a sweetener. Another suggestion? Substitute stevia for sugar as your daily sweetener.

4. Keep stress to a minimum. Research now shows that chronic high stress levels can significantly increase the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and obesity. In fact, it is reported that three-quarters of American health care spending goes toward treating such chronic conditions. To help cut back on your stress, consider setting limits for yourself, learn to say "no" without feeling guilty, meditate, give yoga a try or set aside time everyday to read a good book. Whatever it is that calms your nerves and allows you to recharge, do that!

5. Maintain a healthy weight for your body. If you are overweight or obese, implementing and sticking with the lifestyle changes listed above will naturally help you shed pounds. Losing weight can help reduce insulin resistance, blood pressure and your risk of diabetes. Find a body composition scale in your area to get a better idea of what your body's ideal weight is.

No matter your size, shape or current state of health, it is a good idea to consult Dr. Bossio to determine if you are at risk for, or living with, metabolic syndrome. For more information, visit the resources below.


What is Metabolic Syndrome? National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

Blood Sugar Basics. BloodSugarBasics.com

Metabolic syndrome. Mayo Clinic.

Stressful Life Events and the Metabolic Syndrome: The Prevalence, Prediction and Prevention of Diabetes (PPP)-Botnia Study. American Diabetes Association.

Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Huffington, Arianna. 2014. New York, NY: Harmony Books. Thrive.

Mediterranean Diet. Wikipedia.

Image Attribution: kgtoh/bigstock.com

Whole Grains

whole grains

If you're already living with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, you should avoid carbohydrate-rich foods. However, whole grains can substantially lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 100% whole grains retain the bran and germ, which hold the majority of nutrients. These nutrient compounds - which include vitamin B1, B2, B3, E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and fiber - are referred to as complex carbohydrates. They take longer for the body to break down, allowing for higher nutrient absorption and slower delivery of sugar into the body. Processing strips the bran and germ from the grain and later adds synthetic imposters at a fraction of the original nutritional content. These processed grains are simple carbohydrates, which break down more quickly in the body and can negatively impact a variety of body processes.

Recent research clearly links refined grains with weight gain, as well as a heightened risk of developing insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Whole grains are rich in magnesium and phytochemicals, and may help improve insulin sensitivity, as well as protect against the development of chronic degenerative diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and varicose veins; and diseases of the colon. Only a handful of whole grains, from a pool of thousands, play a significant role in the human diet. Corn, oats, rice and wheat are the most prevalent whole grains, but you can always mix up your diet with these additional options:

  •     Amaranth seeds
  •     Barley flakes, hulled, or pearl
  •     Buckwheat
  •     Cornmeal
  •     Millet, hulled
  •     Oats - bran, groats, rolled, steel-cut
  •     Quinoa
  •     Rice - brown basmati, brown long-grain, brown quick, brown short-grain
  •     Rice - wild
  •     Rye
  •     Spelt
  •     Sorghum
  •     Triticale
  •     Wheat


Whole Wheat. The World's Healthiest Foods.

Murray, N.D., Michael, Pizzorno, N.D., Joseph and Pizzorno, Lara. 2005. New York, NY: Atria Books. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.

Image Attribution: elenathewise/bigstock.com

Supplements for Healthy Blood Sugar

The blood sugar balance is a delicate endeavor. Both high and low blood sugar levels can result in potentially fatal reactions in the body. If you are having trouble maintaining a healthy blood sugar level, there are a number of supplements available that can help stabilize and even lower blood sugar. Chromium (from chromium picolinate), Alpha Lipoic Acid, Vanadium and Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), are just a few.

Chromium is an essential mineral that may enhance the body's sensitivity to insulin, the hormone which helps move glucose from the blood into the body's cells for use as energy. Some studies suggest that chromium supplements may reduce blood glucose levels and the amount of insulin needed in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Chromium may also help with weight loss and muscle building. It is commercially available in several forms and included in many multivitamins.

Alpha-lipoic acid - sometimes referred to simply as lipoic acid - is an antioxidant that is made by the body and found in cells, where it helps turn glucose into energy. Its ability to kill free radicals may help people with symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy and autonomic neuropathy. Alpha-lipoic acid passes easily into the brain and may offer protection for the brain and nerve tissue.

Vanadium is an essential trace mineral found in soil and in many foods. Research suggests that vanadium may lower blood glucose, reducing the need for insulin in people with diabetes. Vanadyl sulfate is a form of Vanadium often used for such purposes.

Bitter Melon (Momordica charantia), is a member of the same family as squash, watermelon, cantaloupes and cucumber. This plant contains polypeptide-P, a substance which has been shown to lower blood glucose in people with diabetes. In addition, it contains a compound called charantin which increases glucose uptake and glycogen synthesis in the cells of the liver, muscle and adipose tissue. It is believed that these two compounds along with all the other phyto-nutrients (carotenes, lutein, zea-xanthin, vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, fiber and minerals) contained in Bitter Melon, make it an exellent addition to the diet for anyone at risk of or diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance or diabetes.  

Stabilizing and lowering blood sugar is tricky business. The process is highly individualized and supplements may negatively react with other supplements and medications, making this a very important thing for you to discuss with Dr. Bossio before beginning or changing a therapy that can affect your blood sugar levels.


Alpha Lipoic-Acid. University of Maryland Medical Center.

Chromium. University of Maryland Medical Center.

Diabetes. University of Maryland Medical Center.

Bitter Melon. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.

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Indoor Farming at Home: Boosting Health with Sprouts

indoor garden

Sprouts are different from their full-grown counterparts. Studies have shown that sprouts support cell regeneration, offer powerful antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and enzymes, and have an alkalizing effect on your body, which may help protect against disease, including cancer. During sprouting, vitamin C levels are higher than any other point in the plant's life cycle. This is also the time when plants begin to synthesize new enzymes and some sprouts can contain up to 100 times more enzymes than raw fruits and vegetables. Still, some sprouts are negatively different from their full-grown counterparts, such as Sorghum, which is perfectly safe when full-grown, but the seed coat carries potentially toxic levels of cyanide, making eating these sprouts a gamble.

Because sprouts vary so much from one variety to the next, as well as from their full-grown counterparts, it is a good idea to consult Dr. Bossio when considering adding sprouts to your diet. While you can usually purchase sprouts through your local grocer or farmer's market, sprouting at home has definite advantages. Sprouts are delicate and need to be handled carefully and refrigerated. Most importantly, they need to be as fresh as possible to provide the most significant health benefits. Sprouting at home not only allows you to get sprouts at their peak freshness every time, but it also allows you to experiment with a wide variety. Here are 5 tips to get you started having fun with and reaping the benefits of the healthiest possible sprouts, at home.

1. Research which varieties of sprouts you want to try. Different sprouts favor different growing conditions. Some sprouts grow best indoors, in soil, while others grow through soaking and moisture control methods. Sprouting times also vary depending on the type of sprout, the method and even personal preference. Wheat, sunflower, almond, lentil and mung sprouts are all good options if you're a beginner. Also easy for beginners are Red clover, radish mustard, adzuki, garbanzo and pumpkin.

2. Collect your tools and get started. The jar and cloth methods are two of the most common sprouting methods, but require regular rinsing and checks for mold. Still, the old-fashioned way - growing sprouts in soil - remains one of the easiest and least time consuming methods. Growing sprouts in soil also produces far more nutritious and abundant food. You can also try sprouting bags or commercial made sprouting systems available at many health or natural foods stores. For in-depth tips on how to sprout, check out:

3. Water makes a difference. Use bottled spring water or filtered water when sprouting. Most seeds won't sprout well in polluted tap water.

4. Freshness is key. It's best to eat sprouts as soon as they are ready, but if you need to store them, put them in the refrigerator or in a controlled sprouting environment until you're ready to use them. Stored sprouts should be rinsed every 24 hours.

5. Get creative. There are tons of ways to enjoy sprouts. Try adding different sprouts to your salads or wraps. Use sprouts as new toppings for sandwiches and burgers. Play with food styling by creating a simple gourmet meal from your choice of lean meat on a bed of sprouts salad.


Are sprouts good for me? World's Healthiest Foods.

Balch, Phyllis A., and James F. Balch. 1992. Rx prescription for cooking and
dietary wellness. Greenfield, Ind: P.A.B. Pub.

Murray, Michael T., Joseph E. Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno. 2005. The
encyclopedia of healing foods. New York: Atria Books.

Pitchford, Paul. 1996. Healing with whole foods: oriental traditions and modern nutrition. Berkeley, Calif: North Atlantic Books.

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Sunflower Sprouts

sunflower sprouts

Native American cultures have known about the many uses and benefits of sunflower for centuries.  Sunflower can be used as food, an oil source, and even as a dye pigment. As a food and health source, sunflower tops the list of sprouts as a protein source. They contain minerals, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fiber and phytosterols. Their vitamin E content has been shown to have significant anti-inflammatory effects, reduce the risk of colon cancer, help control some symptoms of menopause and help cut down on diabetic complications. Sunflower sprouts are also a good source of magnesium and may help reduce the severity of asthma, lower high blood pressure, prevent migraine headaches and reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. Iron and chlorophyll also can be found in sprouted sunflower seeds, the latter of which will help detoxify your blood and liver. Sprouting sunflower seeds will transform nutrient content by as much as 300 - 1,200 percent. When sprouting sunflower seeds at home, soak the seeds for 2 days before planting in soil. Once in the soil, allow your seeds to sprout. They are ready to harvest in about 3 days.


Sunflower seeds. The World's Healthiest Foods.

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Protein Powder

protein powder

Protein powder isn't just for vegetarians, vegans and intense athletes. In fact, the average American consumes far too much animal protein, and plant protein powder can be an excellent alternative. A high quality protein powder can help boost your intake of plant proteins, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as support immune function and maintain and promote healthy muscle mass and body composition. Not all protein is equal however. In fact, protein quality really comes down to the whole protein package including content levels of amino acids and other nutrients, as well as the nutritional pitfalls associated with certain protein sources such as animal proteins.

Food proteins can be classified as complete or incomplete, a status determined by the types of amino acids provided by a particular protein. Complete proteins are made up of the nine essential amino acids which can only be obtained through diet. Animal sources are usually complete proteins, however they also come with added pitfalls such as high saturated fat content. Incomplete proteins on the other hand, often come from fruits, vegetables, grains and nuts. Still, combining two or more incomplete proteins may form a complete set of amino acids, therefore creating a complete protein.

When choosing a protein powder, look for these nine essential amino acids: histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. It is also important to stay away from protein isolates because many are exposed to acid processing and over-processing can alter key amino acids.

If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, try looking for protein powders made from yellow peas, hemp, chia, potato and Golden Chlorella(TM) High Protein, as they are some of the richest proteins available. It is important to remember that the human body is not static. It changes regularly due to environmental factors, nutritional intake and even aging. And despite that adulthood has long been treated as a single period of life, our bodies actually require different nutrient balances at different stages of life, including different stages of adulthood. Still, exactly how much protein should be eaten at which stage of life remains a topic of debate. Because there are so many factors to consider, it is important to consult Dr. Bossio before starting a new protein regimen.


Protein: Moving Closer to Center Stage. Harvard School of Public Health.

Marz, Russell B. 1999. Medical nutrition from Marz: (a textbook in clinical nutrition). Portland, Or: Omni-Press.

Gaby, Alan. 2011. Nutritional medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.

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