THE SHOPPING MAGAZINE FOR NATURAL LIVING
FEBRUARY 2019 | betternutrition.com
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february2019CONTENTS/VOLUME 81 | NUMBER 2
29 How to Keep Your
The latest evidence on the best diet,
exercise, and heart supplements—even
if you take prescription drugs to reduce
harmful blood clots, cholesterol,
or blood pressure.
Test your vitamin and heart-health
smarts with this timely Valentine’sinspired
36 The Ultimate
This powerful class of herbs can
help soothe stress, improve brain
health, boost energy, ease anxiety,
and get your body back into balance.
through the hype.
weighs in on
10 TREND WATCH 3 Natural Ways to
Prevent & Treat Back Pain
How to ease the ache without the side
effects associated with drugs.
14 HOT BUYS How Lovely!
Food and supplement products that
we’re excited about this month.
16 CHECK OUT Are You Low in Zinc?
It’s easy to miss the signs of inadequate
stores of zinc.
18 ASK THE NATUROPATHIC DOCTOR
The Truth About
When it comes to supplement studies,
it pays to read beyond the headlines.
20 NATURAL REMEDY Conquer Your
A naturopath offers successful strategies
developed over 25 years of experience.
22 THE WISE FATBURNER
Breathing Easy Again
After her singing career was
interrupted by airway constriction
problems, Carla Young-Ellsman
stumbled upon an unlikely cure.
26 NATURAL BEAUTY
Exotic Oils for Your Face & Body
Extracted from trees grown around
the world, these oils are packed with
nutrients that nurture your skin.
42 ASK THE NUTRITIONIST
America’s favorite vegetable may
not be a healthy choice for everyone.
44 EATING 4 HEALTH
Natural Candida Fighters
These 7 foods can help ward off yeast
infections, thrush, and other issues
associated with candida overgrowth.
48 HEALTHY DISH Light & Clean
This trimmed-down version of
a comfort-food favorite—made
with spaghetti squash instead
of noodles—is sure to be a huge
8 • FEBRUARY 2019
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The Way to
Many of us take our heart health for granted until something
happens. I recently met a man who ended up in the ER
with crushing chest pain after pushing his wife uphill in
a wheelchair. His doctor said he came very close to dying
because one of his arteries was 98 percent clogged.
Surprisingly, he had no signs that something was amiss
until that day. Now he feels like he’s been given a second
chance at life, and he wants to protect his precious heart
by making healthier food choices, among other changes.
Cardiovascular disease, which includes atherosclerosis
(hardening of the arteries) and high blood pressure, can
have no symptoms. This is reason enough to fine-tune your
diet and supplement regimen. Contributing editor Vera
Tweed explores this very question in “How to Keep Your
Heart Healthy” on p. 29. She consulted the country’s top
integrated cardiologist to get his recommendations on diet,
exercise, and supplements for heart health, including drugnutrient
interactions, safe remedies for anyone with a heart
condition, and smart food choices.
“Despite decades of a low-fat diet being promoted as
the answer, recent evidence paints a different picture,” says
Tweed. “In fact, the key drivers of heart disease are sugary
and starchy foods, rather than fat.” The best medicine for
your heart, according to the latest research, is omega-3-rich
fish and other seafood, nuts, seeds, and low-starch veggies.
Red meat can even be good for your heart if it’s unprocessed.
In addition to diet, there are many other ways to love
your heart—pet a kitten, volunteer, learn to let go of toxic
relationships, drink tea, get a massage. Read about these
and other paths to physical and emotional well-being
in Healthy Habits for Your Heart by Monique Tello, MD
(DrMoniqueTello.com). I just came across this book and
found the tips and tricks for making heart-healthy habits
stick extremely helpful.
Love your heart, and it will love you back!
How to Do
A natural detox
herbs and essential
oils can improve all
areas of your health
What forms to use
for best absorption,
plus how to tell
if you’re low in
trying the keto diet?
you need to know.
Get More at
February is National
with our online-only
Recipe of the Month:
YOUR GUIDE TO NATURAL LIVING
Editor in Chief
Contributing Designer Rachel Pilvinsky
Contributing Writers Jeannette Bessinger, CHHC,
Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, Kat
James, Karen Jensen, ND, Emily
A. Kane, ND, LAc, Lisa Turner
Production Director Patrick Sternkopf
Editorial Offices 512 Main Street, Suite 1
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BETTER NUTRITION, ISSN #0405-668X. Vol. 81, No. 2. Published monthly by Cruz Bay
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6 • FEBRUARY 2019
Lost Collagen †
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Wickett RR, Kossmann E, Barel A, Demeester N, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe DA, Calomme M (2007). Effect of oral intake of choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid on hair tensile strength and morphology in women with fine hair. Arch Dermatol Res 299: 499-505.
Barel A, Calomme M, Timchenko A, De Paepe K, Demeester N, Rogiers V, Clarys P, Vanden Berghe D (2005). Effect of oral intake of choline stabilized orthosilicic acid on skin, nails and hair in women with photodamaged skin. Arch Dermatol Res 297: 147-153. Results may vary.
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WOMEN’S, WOMEN’S 50+,
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These Pure Food age- and gender-specific formulas are
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PROTEIN & GREENS
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/// BY VERA TWEED
3 Natural Ways to
Prevent and Relieve Back Pain
Back pain is all too common in our hunched-over, digital world, but there are
simple ways to reduce or avoid it
“We live in a movement-deprived culture,”
says Bradford Butler, DC, author of The
Blueprint for Back Pain: The Essential
Guide to Non-Surgical Solutions. That
fact, he says, predisposes us to stiff and
shortened muscles that disrupt the
alignment of the 24 vertebrae in our
spine, putting pressure on nerves and
eventually causing pain.
Here’s an example: If you sit all day at
work, the hamstring muscles in the back
of your thighs get shorter. If you don’t
compensate by stretching, they pull on
the pelvis when you stand, stressing the
spine. To feel the stretch, stand up and,
with straight legs shoulder-width apart,
bend forward from the hips. Here are
some other basic tips from Butler:
Drink more water: Dehydration
can cause the muscles in your back to
stiffen and even spasm. And, the discs
in your spine need to be well-hydrated
to cushion vertebrae.
Keep muscles flexible
and strong: Take frequent
breaks from sitting, and
walk or move around enough to raise
your heart rate a bit and increase
blood circulation. “Muscles want the
nutrients and the oxygen that blood
carries to them,” says Butler. Yoga
is another good way to increase
flexibility and strength.
Sleep on a good mattress:
If you need to stretch out
stiff muscles when you
wake up, it’s time for a
new mattress—one that
gives you support
points. And, don’t sleep
on your stomach.
Last but not least,
probably got as
a child: Sit up
10 • FEBRUARY 2019
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symptoms of enlarged prostate
An enlarged prostate—also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)—
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MAGNESIUM REGULATES VITAMIN D
Worried that you’re not getting enough vitamin D? Magnesium
may be the key. A study at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center
in Nashville, Tenn., found that with adequate magnesium, low
vitamin D levels rise and high levels decrease.
“Magnesium deficiency shuts down the vitamin D synthesis
and metabolism pathway,” said lead study author Qi Dai, MD, PhD.
This helps to explain why some people with low vitamin D levels
don’t respond well to supplements, as an estimated 80 percent of
Americans don’t get enough magnesium. In the study, researchers
calculated the magnesium content of people’s diets and added
supplements to meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA)
of the mineral. Avocados, tofu, chard, dark chocolate, and almonds
are some good food sources of the mineral.
MAGNESIUM RECOMMENDED DIETARY ALLOWANCES
AGE MEN WOMEN
19–30 years 400 mg 310 mg 350 mg 310 mg
31–50 years 420 mg 320 mg 360 mg 320 mg
51+ years 420 mg 320 mg
When Seattle teens got 34
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the University of Washington
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is more in line with teen’s
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it is redeemed by a consumer at the time of purchase on the brand specified. Coupons not
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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration.
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hotBUYS/NEW & NOTABLE
Products for beautiful skin,
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Everyone deals with day-to-day stress, but
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find on-the-spot relief from tension with
herbs. Gaia Herbs Calm A.S.A.P. features a
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Take 3 capsules on an as-needed basis.
Purify Your Skin
NOW Solutions Charcoal Detox line combines
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14 • FEBRUARY 2019
checkOUT/GUIDE TO CUTTING-EDGE SUPPLEMENTS
Are You Low in Zinc?
You might not think about zinc, but this mineral is vital to your health—and
the symptoms of depletion are easy to overlook /// BY VERA TWEED
Zinc lozenges are a popular cold remedy,
but this unheralded mineral can do so
much more. Zinc is required for more than
a thousand different chemical reactions
in the human body, which gives it a wide
range of health benefits:
Zinc is essential for a healthy immune
system, which helps ward off colds and
other illnesses. Zinc plays a key role
in healthy cell division, which helps
protect against cancer.
In combination with other antioxidants,
zinc protects the eyes against
blindness from age-related macular
Zinc is used to treat diarrhea in
children and to treat Wilson’s disease,
a genetic disorder that leads to very
high, life-threatening levels of copper.
* Zinc is an antioxidant that reduces *
chronic inflammation and may *
protect against atherosclerosis. *
Signs You Need More Zinc *
Older people and anyone whose digestion *
is sub-optimal may not absorb adequate *
zinc. In addition, a shortfall is more likely *
among people who don’t eat animal foods.
Signs of zinc deficiency (and/or conditions
related to low zinc) include:
* Frequent colds or other infections
* Hair loss
* Loss of taste and smell
* Stunted growth in children
* Attention disorders in kids
* Poor mental function
Diarrhea and IBS
Skin lesions (e.g., acne, eczema)
Loss of appetite
Slow healing of wounds
Pica (eating dirt)
Eating disorders (e.g., bulimia, anorexia)
Studies have found that conventional
medications for heartburn and high
blood pressure deplete zinc. High
doses of the mineral may be necessary
to restore healthy levels and should
be taken under the supervision of a
Heartburn drugs reduce levels of
stomach acid and this, in turn, impairs the
absorption of zinc and other nutrients.
One study compared effects of 26.2 mg
of zinc in supplements, twice daily, in
healthy people and those taking proton
pump inhibitors such as Prilosec and
Prevacid. Compared to the drug-free,
healthy group, those taking heartburn
drugs absorbed less than one-third of
Two types of blood pressure
drugs—thiazide diuretics and ACE
inhibitors—increase excretion of
zinc. Loss of taste can be a side effect
of ACE inhibitors, and a study found
HOW TO TREAT A COLD
Zinc lozenges fight cold viruses by coating the inside surface
of your mouth and throat. Let lozenges dissolve instead
of chewing and swallowing them. Studies show that zinc
acetate or zinc gluconate lozenges can shorten a cold by
2–3 days when taken every couple of hours, starting within
24 hours of the first symptoms. Aim for a daily total of
80–100 mg of zinc, which is a safe dose for treating a cold.
16 • FEBRUARY 2019
that people who experienced the most
loss of taste had the lowest zinc levels.
Among ACE inhibitors, the greatest zinc
depletion was seen with captopril (also
sold under the brand Capoten).
Eat Your Zinc
Oysters are the best food source of
zinc. Beef, lobster, pumpkin seeds, pork,
chicken, and yogurt are also good
sources of the mineral.
How to Benefit from Zinc
For overall health, the recommen ded
daily allowance (RDA) of zinc is 8 mg
for women (increased to 11 mg during
pregnancy and 12 mg when breastfeeding)
and 11 mg for men. Older adults with
reduced ability to absorb nutrients
may need more. The safe upper limit
for healthy people is 40 mg daily, but
anyone taking a medication that depletes
zinc may need higher doses under the
supervision of a health professional.
High doses of zinc can lead to a
copper deficiency. However, most multis
provide enough copper with zinc. In
supplements, zinc comes in different
forms—chelated zinc, zinc orotate, and
zinc picolinate are thought to be among
the best-absorbed forms.
Zinc can reduce the effectiveness of
antibiotics or penicillamine (a rheumatoid
arthritis drug) if it’s taken at the same
time as the drugs. To avoid this, take zinc
4–6 hours before the antibiotic or 2 hours
afterward. With penicillamine, take zinc
2 hours before or after the drug.
Contributing editor Vera Tweed has been researching and writing about supplements, holistic nutrition, fitness, and
other aspects of healthy living since 1997. She is the author of several books, including Hormone Harmony: How to
Balance Insulin, Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone to Live Your Best Life.
DIY ZINC TEST
A Liquid Zinc Assay test can help you
determine whether or not you need
more zinc—and it can be done easily
at home. Go to betternutrition.com for
a step-by-step guide to the test.
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asktheNATUROPATHICdoctor/ANSWERS TO YOUR HEALTH QUESTIONS
The Truth About
Why negative supplement research may not
be so gloomy after all /// BY EMILY A. KANE, ND, LAc
Emily A. Kane, ND,
LAc, has a private
in Juneau, Alaska,
where she lives with
her husband and
daughter. She is the
author of two books
on natural health,
Visit her online at
: There seems to be a lot of controversy lately about what I thought were foundational
supplements such as fish oil, vitamin D, and probiotics. What’s up with that?
—Stephon W., San Jose, Calif.
a:The more “we the people”
take responsibility for our
health, the more likely we are to live
healthy, vibrant lives. It may sound
cynical, but pharmaceutical companies,
with their profit motives and lobbyists,
need us to be chronically unwell.
I believe they go to disturbing lengths
to discredit so-called “alternative”
medicine. The level of misrepresentation
in the headlines is shocking sometimes.
It’s crucial to look at the actual studies
before making any judgements
Life on planet Earth is not what it
used to be. Less than 100 years ago,
there were no prescription antibiotics.
Potent, natural antimicrobials (which
still work today) came from minerals
(especially sulfur) and plant medicines,
including goldenseal, osha, and thyme.
While antibiotics have prevented many
fatalities—from septic war wounds to
ulcers to myriad bacterial infections—
there are inherent problems with them.
First, within 10 years of the production
of any antibiotic (penicillin was the first),
resistant strains of bacteria emerge.
Second, taking a broad-spectrum antibiotic
(which indiscriminately kills all
microbes) wrecks the body’s gut flora.
Probiotics: Healing or Harmful?
Let’s look at two recent studies that cast
doubt on probiotics. One study (not in
people, but on a gut “chip,” which is lined
with living human cells) showed that
inflammation in the gut causes intestinal
permeability (leaky gut). The researchers,
whose findings were published in the
journal PNAS, theorized that leaky
gut could allow probiotics into the
bloodstream, causing more harm than
good. I disagree. For example, in cases
of C. difficile (a hard-to-treat, hospitalacquired
infection in the colon caused
by antibiotics), pouring billions of good
bacteria into a damaged gut often resolves
the infection. Also, research has shown
that taking probiotic sachets (with
450 billion CFUs) three times daily for
6–18 weeks significantly helps people
with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
A study published in Cell tracked around
20 people on antibiotics. Researchers
divided participants into three groups:
one took nothing after their course
of antibiotics; the second group got a
fecal transplant with their own stool,
It’s important to look at
the actual studies, rather
than just the headlines.
To find full studies,
18 • FEBRUARY 2019
which was collected prior to antibiotic
treatment; and the third group was
given a commercial probiotic strain that
had never been scientifically studied.
The folks who got their own fecal
transplant had the quickest return to
a “normal” microbiome; those who took
only antibiotics returned to normal
next; and the probiotic group had the
We have abundant proof that probiotics
can reduce and cure post-antibiotic
diarrhea; therefore, this one study does
not invalidate using probiotics after
antibiotics. Further, folks who need
antibiotics are probably not particularly
healthy, so returning their guts to their
pre-antibiotic state may not be a good
thing. It’s unnecessarily premature to
take one negative probiotic study and
make it the new norm, especially given
that there are hundreds of positive
studies on probiotics, not to mention
entire conferences dedicated to studying
different strains of beneficial bacteria.
The bottom line: Trust your own
experience. My favorite way to help
improve your gut flora is to eat fermented
foods and a high-fiber diet. Fiber is
the main “prebiotic” that good bugs
need to flourish.
Most of Us Are Deficient in Vitamin D
Next, let’s look at the vitamin D kerfuffle
set off by the VITAL study at Brigham
and Women’s Hospital that involved
nearly 26,000 patients. One of the
emerging “issues” with vitamin D 3
supplementation concerns Michael
Holick, PhD, MD, of Boston University,
an ardent proponent of vitamin D 3
supplements. He’s recently been accused
of profit-mongering. He helped Quest
Labs develop a test for serum vitamin D 3
(which many other labs have since started
using), and he receives a consulting fee of
$1,000 per month from Quest.
That’s nice, but it’s hardly extravagant.
Being a consultant for a large, nationwide
lab using a test that you developed
doesn’t invalidate the test—or vitamin D 3
supplementation. It is intuitively obvious
in our sun-averse culture that we
would be deficient in a vitamin that
requires exposure to sunlight for the
body to produce.
In the VITAL study, the so-called
“high-dose” vitamin D 3
2,000 IUs daily. I generally recommend
my patients take 5,000 IUs, and if their
serum levels are below 40, I’ll have them
take 10,000 IUs daily (in 2 divided doses
for better absorption, and always with
food) to approach the optimal serum
levels of 60–90 ng/mL.
Even with a relatively low dose, the
rate of death was significantly lower
with vitamin D 3
with a placebo (if you exclude the first
two years after the trial). If someone has
an aggressive form of cancer, then starting
a vitamin D 3
regimen wouldn’t save
them. But it can help prolong the lives
of otherwise healthy folks. In this study,
the vitamin D 3
group had 25–37 percent
lower death rates. That’s impressive.
It’s unnecessarily premature to take one negative study on
probiotics and make it the new norm, especially given that
there are hundreds of positive studies on probiotics.
The fact is, we have become an
indoor-living species. Most of us are
deficient in vitamin D 3
thanks to artificial lighting). And studies
show that adequate vitamin D 3
reduces influenza A (over
60 percent better than the flu shot). It
also reduces asthma incidence and MS
flare-ups, and, along with weight-bearing
exercise, helps maintain bone density.
Fish Oils Do Protect Your Heart
As for fish oil, the recent VITAL study also
assessed the impact of Omacor (840 mg
of marine omega-3 fatty acids) on cardiovascular
disease. “Fish Oil Has No Impact
on Strokes” and similar headlines spread
over the Internet after the study results
were released. But, according to the study’s
website (vitalstudy.org), “The omega-3
fatty acid intervention lowered the risk of
heart attack by 28 percent and the risk of
fatal heart attack by 50 percent, but had no
benefit on stroke or cardiovascular deaths
not related to heart disease. Additionally,
omega-3 fatty acids reduced the rate of
angioplasty procedures by 22 percent.”
So, “Fish Oil Has No Impact”? Lowering
rates of fatal heart attacks and angioplasty
certainly qualifies as a significant
impact in my book.
Vitalstudy.org also notes, “In participants
with low fish consumption (less than 1.5
servings, 3–4 ounces, per week), omega-3
supplementation led to a 19 percent
reduction in major cardiovascular events,
including a 40 percent reduction in heart
attack, as well as a trend toward a reduction
in death from any cause. Among African-
Americans, omega-3 supplementation led
to a 77 percent reduction in heart attacks,
and a benefit was observed regardless of
fish intake.” African-Americans, a high-risk
group for premature death from heart
disease, take note! No drug—ever—has
given this kind of hope. Please, take your
fish oil. Or at least eat wild salmon and
small tinned fatty fish regularly.
Do you have a question for Dr. Kane? Email it to editorial@
betternutrition.com with “Ask the ND” in the subject line.
FEBRUARY 2019 • 19
naturalREMEDY/HOLISTIC STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU FEEL BETTER
A holistic practitioner
offers advice that has
worked in her own
/// BY KAREN JENSEN, ND
From a naturopathic perspective, the
main causes of PMS are poor diet, lack of
exercise, and liver and bowel congestion.
Many different chemicals from many
different sources—including our food
and water supply and body care or
household products—resemble human
estrogen, and these hormone imposters
cause estrogen dominance in both men
and women. Some forms of PMS are due
to estrogen excess. Low thyroid function
(hypothyroidism) has also been found to
be a cause of PMS in some women.
There are different forms of PMS
(you may be a combination of types):
PMS-A (Anxiety) affects 65–75
percent of women with PMS. It’s
usually caused by estrogen dominance.
PMS-C (Cravings) affects 24–35
percent of women with PMS, usually
due to blood sugar imbalances.
PMS-D (Depression) affects 23–37
percent of women with PMS, often
due to estrogen dominance.
PMS-H (Hyperhydration) affects
about 60 percent of women with PMS.
It’s often caused by an increase in
adrenal stress hormones.
Top Natural Remedies
for PMS Symptoms
Although there is no “one
size fits all” remedy, the
following supplements have
proven to be helpful for the
majority of women with PMS
over my 25 years in clinical practice.
Indole-3-carbinol (I-3-C), diindolylmethane
(DIM), and calcium
D-glucarate help with the breakdown
of harmful estrogens. Milk thistle
and other herbs to support removal
of toxic byproducts are also helpful.
* Chasteberry, also known as vitex,
is the No. 1 botanical remedy used in
Europe to treat PMS symptoms. Its action
in the body increases progesterone
levels relative to estrogen levels.
* Vitamin B can be very helpful for
the relief of PMS symptoms such
as edema, bloating, breast pain,
depression, and irritability. Some
women find that increasing vitamin
to 150–250 mg per day one week
prior to menstruation helps.
* Prebiotics and probiotics are
important for keeping the microbiome
To minimize symptoms
of PMS, avoid or reduce
your intake of dairy
products as much
a type of good bacteria,
help to restore the gut
are fermentable fibers that
provide a source of food for
gut microorganisms, and they are
at least as important as probiotics in
maintaining microbiome health. This
is crucial not only for hormone health,
but also for mental health because the
majority of serotonin is produced in
the gut, which also affects our toxin
and hormone balance—approximately
50 percent of the estrogen “couples”
formed in the liver are excreted into
the intestines via bile. The successful
journey of these “couples” through the
intestines requires healthy microflora.
Omega-3 fatty acids block the
formation of an inflammatory
prostaglandin that promotes
inflammation and pain. Fish oil is
also effective in controlling cravings.
Try 2–4 Tbs. of flax oil daily or
2,000–3,000 mg of fish oil.
Evening primrose oil, when taken
monthly at least three to five days
prior to the usual onset of symptoms
20 • FEBRUARY 2019
has been shown to be extremely
effective in the treatment of PMS.
Take 1,000–2,000 mg daily.
Magnesium can be very helpful
for PMS symptoms such as anxiety,
depression, irritability, and headaches.
Some studies show lower levels of
magnesium in women with PMS.
Diet & Hormone Balance
There are many different foods that can
make symptoms of PMS worse, and diet
is critical not only for PMS but also for
most hormone imbalances. Generally,
it has been found that PMS sufferers
consume more refined sugars and
carbohydrates, salt, and dairy products
than women who do not experience PMS.
In addition to supplements, the following
dietary and lifestyle changes can help
minimize the symptoms of PMS:
Exercise—studies show that women
who exercise regularly do not suffer
from PMS as severely or as often as
those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.
* Avoid or reduce your intake of dairy
products such as cheese and milk;
organic yogurt in moderation is fine.
* Increase your intake of high-fiber
foods such as brown rice, quinoa,
millet, and barley.
* Try to purchase hormone-free
* Avoid caffeine and chocolate,
particularly a week or so before
PMS would normally start.
* Avoid bad fats—heated oils, margarines,
fried foods, etc.
* Avoid excess salt if you suffer from
* Drink at least 1.5 liters of filtered
Avoid refined sugars and carbohydrates.
Be aware of sources of estrogen
imposters (xenoestrogens) in foods,
makeup, and household products. The
Environmental Working Group (ewg.
org) is a good source of information.
Karen Jensen, ND, is a Canadian-based naturopathic
doctor with more than 25 years of clinical experience,
specializing in women’s health. She is the author of
several books, including Women’s Health Matters.
thewiseFATBURNER/STORIES OF TRANSFORMATION FROM NUTRITION & LEPTIN PIONEER KAT JAMES
When singer Carla Young-Ellsman was
diagnosed with airway abnormalities,
she stumbled across an
unlikely cure /// BY KAT JAMES
In the mid-1990s, velvet-voiced Carla
Young-Ellsman of Hawaii had a budding
singing and recording career that ground
to a sudden halt when her father fell ill.
Having lost her mother at a young age,
Carla gladly signed on to be his caretaker.
Before long, she added her father-in-law’s
care to her responsibilities, starting a
long and dangerous detour in her own
life and health. The heart-breaking loss
of two close friends, as well as her two
beloved border collies—all within a
two-year period—left Carla emotionally
numb and increasingly isolated and
fearful of attachments.
Her self-destructive relationship
with food added to her numbness …
and her size, which grew from an 8 to
a 14, to a tight “large,” at which point
she stopped wearing “real clothes” and
started wearing elastic pants and huge
T-shirts to hide herself. She pretty much
stopped leaving the house, turning down
virtually all social invitations. “I basically
shut down, emotionally and physically,”
Carla says. “The rest of my family had
all become diabetic. I was determined
not to go down that road, but despite my
constant low-fat dieting, I couldn’t lose
Over the next several years, Carla was
diagnosed with insulin resistance, fatty
liver, and gallbladder problems. A stress
test came back abnormal. These issues
hampered her ability to care for her dad
and father-in-law, not to mention eroded
her self-image and her hopes of returning
to her singing career. After several
years, Carla started assisting a local holistic
veterinarian to help make ends meet.
Carla singing with
her band, Nueva
Vida in the late
1990s (above), and
Carla today with
husband Eric, after their
friends can’t believe
how my appearance
and shape have
changed,” she says.
How Airway Constriction
Threatened Carla’s Health
In mid-2017, Carla’s dentist noticed that
her airways were constricted and that
her tooth enamel was eroding due,
in part, to teeth grinding. He convinced
her to do a sleep study, where they
found that her breathing was interrupted
an incredible 19 times per hour!
Carla’s airway constriction threatened
her overall health and even her heart.
Indeed, she’d been having intermittent
Charlie horse-type pains in her chest and
even weakness on the left side of her
body for years, which were found to be
related to one of her heart valves. Carla’s
dentist urged her to see one of Hawaii’s
top speech pathologists, Carolinda “Trini”
Murphy, about her airway issues. Murphy
confirmed soft tissue abnormalities
affecting Carla’s tongue mobility, and
also a swallowing muscle dysfunction.
Most concerning, Carla’s Mallampati
score—a rating of the size of a person’s
airway capacity—was a IV, the maximum
degree of constriction on the medical
rating scale. This had resulted in darkness
under her eyes (called “shiners” in Murphy’s
line of work), serious exhaustion, and
narcoleptic episodes where she’d unwittingly
drift off to sleep many times per day. Carla
soon underwent surgery to increase her
tongue mobility and was next looking at
more serious surgery to open her airways.
Hoping to avoid it, she pursued Murphy’s
state-of-the-art training and stretching
program to open her tiny airways, and
was also put on a CPAP device to ease
her breathing at night. The CPAP lessened
the literal “heartache” she often woke up
with due to lack of oxygen.
Weight Issues & Food Cravings
Despite faithful compliance to all of her
regimens, Carla’s weight, food cravings,
and occasional heart twinges persisted.
And as hard as she tried, she still couldn’t
coordinate her swallowing muscles to drink
normally, or enlarge her airway, even after
doing Murphy’s advanced exercises and
stretches—which had been successful for
other patients. “After consulting with
22 • FEBRUARY 2019
colleagues across the U.S., Carla’s case
had me stumped,” says Murphy.
Finally, Carla’s naturopath recommended
that she try a high-fat, low-carb diet.
Carla had read about this type of diet
in my book, The Truth About Beauty,
several years prior, but her naturopath’s
suggestion prompted her to revisit
the basic principles. She began to see
improvements in her weight and heart
monitoring results by changing her
diet and taking some supplements
(recommended by her naturopath).
Feeling that she was on the right path,
Carla contacted me this past summer to
pursue an even lower-carb, higher-fat,
leptin hormone-optimizing regimen
(read more about leptin in “Transforming
Our View of Fat” at betternutrition.com).
Within a week, she began to see a big drop
in her appetite and inflammation-related
fluid retention, especially in her arms,
face, neck, and waist. She decided, with
Murphy’s blessing, to stop doing her oral
exercises to see if dietary changes alone
could improve her airways. After a couple
of weeks, she wondered if it was her
imagination when she checked her
airway in the mirror, and it looked
nearly double in size. She scheduled an
appointment with Murphy to be sure.
“When I walked in, she commented
that I looked incredible and asked what
I was doing,” says Carla. “But when she
took a look at my airway, she was
speechless. She had me drink a small
cup of water … I used to rack my brain and
did tons of practicing to get my tongue,
in 1990. Since
then, she’s led
88 retreats and
known as the
lips, and mouth muscles to swallow
normally, but couldn’t. When I drank
the water this time, I saw her eyes fill
with tears and she simply said: ‘You’re
done.’ I thought to myself: ‘This is either
really bad or really good news.’ She told
me that my Mallampati score was now
a perfect ‘1’ because my airways fully
opened. My lips were even closing all the
way. She said that if I’d looked like this
when I first came to see her, she wouldn’t
have even taken me as a patient. Mind
you, I’d started with one of the narrowest
airways she’d ever seen. Now, she said,
I no longer need surgery!”
Murphy’s note to me the same day
confirmed this: “When Carla walked
into my office yesterday, I first noticed
her body shape had changed. And her
face. Most notably, the ‘shiners’ under
her eyes had disappeared. After months
of working with her to no avail, I pretty
much all but discharged her today. Her
airway has completely opened and all
signs and symptoms of soft tissue and
muscle dysfunction are gone. I’ve never
seen anything like this kind of recovery.”
A New Life to Sing About
“Only a few months ago, I’d resigned myself
to a future of physical complications,” Carla
says. “To suddenly envision life without
all that is truly like a dream. I can breathe
easily again. I don’t have any heart twinges
anymore. I can sleep again. I have a waist
again. My belly is almost flat and my ‘back
flab’ is gone. I can see my collar bones, and
my thighs aren’t struggling to pass each
other when I walk. I don’t plan to weigh
myself, but I never imagined I’d achieve my
‘goal’ size 8 jeans again (and I’m still losing),
only this time the healthy way… with zero
food obsessing, starving, or shame. My
friends can’t believe how my appearance
and shape have changed. When I look at
that old photo from the early ’90s of me
with my band, I remember how I ‘starved’
to look like that and still thought I was fat!
Now, I’m not suffering or struggling at all,
and I feel far better today, and even look
better than I did decades ago!
“I had barely sung a note all these years
because my joy was gone. And though I
still take care of both my dads, I have much
more stamina and get much more done.
Most importantly, my optimism and hope
have returned. I find myself singing and
whistling all the time … I’m even hitting
new notes lately… and thinking—even at
57—about possibly taking the stage again.
Only now can I realize how caged, sad, and
ashamed I had become. But no longer.”
Carla’s husband, Eric, was so impressed
that he joined her for my educational
retreat on the Tennessee River last fall,
where they gave an impromptu concert
for the rest of my clients. After learning
about my regimen and returning to the
“real world,” Eric’s stomach pains, blood
pressure, and love-handle issues promptly
resolved. His doctor commented that his
skin color went ‘from grayish to pinkish,
like he’s a different person.’
I asked Carla if it was hard for them
to stick with my regimen, given their
former sugar addictions—Eric’s colleagues,
especially, marvelled at his unwavering
“willpower” against the donuts and other
junk he used to eat. “Other than eating on
time, it’s not hard at all because there’s just
no temptation anymore,” says Carla. “Our
sense of taste and even smell have changed
in a big way. We’ve actually never knowingly
strayed or wanted to, and that’s a first.
We see this as a life-long path for us. Our
next mission is to get our dads doing this!”
Note: For more inspiration and to hear Carla
discuss her changes in a live radio interview,
search this story on betternutrition.com.
To learn more about The Kat James Show
on Sirius XM’s Family Talk (channel 131,
Saturdays), visit totaltransformation.com.
To read previous Kat James’ articles, search
“Kat James” on betternutrition.com.
Kat James has been called “a master of self-transformation” by SELF magazine in response to her self-guided,
stunning recovery from liver, autoimmune, and eating disorders that nearly took her life. Her controversial and
pioneering dietary method—now recommended at top neurology, fertility, functional medicine, and even dental
clinics—has left countless dramatic success stories in its wake and been featured at top spas and institutions such as
Omega Institute and Canyon Ranch, as well as on “Today,” Fox, and PBS, among others. Learn more about her
upcoming program retreats at informedbeauty.com or by calling 877-54-TOTAL.
FEBRUARY 2019 • 23
naturalBEAUTY/PURE INGREDIENTS FOR SKIN & BODY
Exotic Oils for Your Face & Body
Infused with hydrating, antiaging nutrients, exotic oils such as black seed
and marula help enhance all skin types /// BY SHERRIE STRAUSFOGEL
Exotic oils from the far corners of the world are fueling the beauty
oil craze. They’re highly versatile—you can mix a few drops into your
regular moisturizer or hair conditioner, add them to a bath, or simply
use them as-is. And they’re concentrated, so you need only a few drops.
To ensure that you’re purchasing high-quality oils, Tammie Umbel,
founder of Shea Terra Organics, says, “Look for oils that are unrefined
to maximize their benefits. They should have color and an herbal aroma.
Expensive oils are often cut with inferior-quality oils. Argan oil, for
example, is often cut with sunflower oil. Choose oils from companies that
buy straight from the source and can provide information about the origins
and production of their oil.”
Soothe dry and
with Shea Terra
with Derma E
Sage & Lavender
A key ingredient,
Seal in moisture
for silky skin
Body Oil, which
and olive oils.
Calm rashes and
treat acne and
An added benefit to many of
these beauty oils is that their
harvesting provides economic
opportunities for struggling
communities in remote
Black Seed Oil: Made
from the Nigella sativa plant
and revered by ancient
Egyptians, this spicy oil is
used both topically and
internally. It’s packed with
antibacterial and antifungal
phytochemicals, as well as
essential fatty acids that promote
skin healing. Massage into irritated skin
to soften and decrease inflammation.
Rub a few drops into your scalp to
stimulate hair growth.
Tamanu Oil: A medicine cabinet in a
bottle, this multipurpose oil comes from
the nuts of the Calophyllum inophyllum
tree, native to Africa, Asia, and the South
Pacific. It’s anti-inflammatory, antibacterial,
and antifungal, and is effective for
sunburns, rashes, insect bites, wounds,
acne, scars, wrinkles, and dry skin.
Marula seed oil: Collected from the
nuts of the African marula tree, the lycheelike
marula fruit produces pink oil that is
rich in fatty acid and antioxidants. This oil
helps repair sun-damaged and aging skin.
Pomegranate seed oil: Native to
the Middle East and Mediterranean,
pomegranate seed oil has powerful
anti-inflammatory powers. Studies
suggest it may help prevent skin
cancer by inhibiting enzymes that
assist in cancer cell formation.
Argan Oil: The argan plant is found
only in a small region of Morocco. A
close relative of the shea tree, argan fruit
kernels produce an oil that is high in
vitamin E and other antioxidants, plus
hydrating fatty acids. Argan helps
moisturize and nourish skin, nails, and hair.
Sherrie Strausfogel is the author of Hawaii’s Spa
Experience: Rejuvenating Secrets of the Islands (the first
book to feature aromatherapy in its pages). Based in
Honolulu, she writes about beauty, spas, health, cuisine,
and travel. Her work has appeared in more than 100
magazines, newspapers, guidebooks, and websites.
26 • FEBRUARY 2019
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BECAUSE IT STAYS in your
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©2019 American Health Inc. | 18-AH-1282
The latest evidence on the best diet, exercise, and
heart supplements—even if you take prescription
drugs to reduce harmful blood clots, cholesterol,
or blood pressure by Vera Tweed
Being physically fit and eating a
heart-healthy diet can each cut
risk for heart disease in half.
Does that mean you’ll be free of heart
problems forever if you do both? No
one has tested the premise, but you’d
certainly be in better health.
BEST FOODS FOR A
Despite decades of a low-fat diet being
promoted as the answer, recent evidence
paints a different picture. In fact, the key
drivers of heart disease are sugary and
starchy foods, rather than fat. A major
U.S. study found that people who get
25 percent of their calories from added
sugar (sodas and other sweetened drinks
are major sources) are more than twice
as likely to die from heart disease as those
consuming less than 10 percent of
calories from added sugar. Another
study found that eating foods that
trigger high blood sugar—including
sweetened drinks and starchy
foods—contributes to atherosclerosis
and doubles risk of heart-related death.
In contrast, eating more seafood rich
in omega-3 fats, non-starchy vegetables,
fruits, nuts, and seeds has a protective
effect on the heart. A moderate amount
of full-fat dairy foods and unprocessed
red meat are also good. In other words,
aim to eat more vegetables (other than
potatoes), more fish and seafood, more
fresh fruit, and some nuts and seeds.
Some dairy and meat are fine as well. Go
easy on grains, because many of today’s
dishes are overloaded with them—big
bowls of pasta, large buns for burgers
and sandwiches, and pizza with thick
crusts are common examples.
When it comes to exercise, spending
endless hours on a treadmill is not
the most effective regimen for heart
health. Activities such as brisk walking
or running at a moderate, steady pace
have been the standard for improving
fitness, but they aren’t the best. An
analysis of studies following nearly 1,000
people with heart disease found that
interval training—short spurts of intense
activity alternated with movement at a
relaxed pace—is more effective.
Here’s an example: Instead of walking
at the same pace for 20–30 minutes,
walk as fast as you can for a block and
then walk at a slower, more comfortable
pace for one or two blocks, and repeat
the cycle multiple times.
Weightlifting is an alternative. A
study at the University of Iowa looked
at 13,000 people and found that just
lifting weights—twice per week—reduced
FEBRUARY 2019 • 29
isk for heart attacks and stroke by
49–70 percent. Spending more than
an hour a week on weightlifting didn’t
produce any added benefits. The key is
to challenge muscles.
Heart-Healthy Supplements for Everyone
Whether you take prescription drugs or not, these are Stephen Sinatra’s top
supplement recommendations for a healthy heart. Don’t take vitamin K 2
taking warfarin. Otherwise, all these can be taken with blood thinners, statins, and
blood-pressure drugs—just let your doctor know about any supplements you take.
COQ10: After age 30, take 50–100 mg daily of CoQ10 (preferably Ubiquinol). After age
60, take 100 mg daily. If taking statins, try 100 mg, and if there’s no improvement
in the way you feel, take 200–300 mg daily. If you take warfarin, make sure to get
regular blood tests and tell your doctor that you’re taking the supplement.
VITAMIN K 2
: After age 50, take 150 mcg daily of the MK-7 form (but not if you’re taking
FISH OIL: Add the amount of EPA and DHA in a product. Take at least 1,000 mg of an
EPA/DHA combination daily.
MULTIVITAMIN: If taking medications, take a daily serving of a product that contains
no more than 100 percent of the Daily Value (% DV in Supplement Facts) of each
nutrient. Otherwise, take any multivitamin of your choice.
MAGNESIUM: Take 400–800 mg daily. If you get loose stools, decrease the dosage.
CURCUMIN: It reduces inflammation that can damage the heart. The dosage for
patented forms (e.g., BCM-95, CurcuWIN, or Meriva) range from 250–750 mg daily;
for all other brands, follow label guidelines.
RESVERATROL: A strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance found in red
grapes and wine, it protects the heart and helps control blood sugar. Take 10–50 mg
ASTAXANTHIN: An antioxidant that gives salmon and other seafood their red color,
it protects the heart, skin, eyes, and brain. Take 6–12 mg daily.
It’s always best to take supplements with food. If you’re taking any medication,
take supplements a couple of hours after the drug.
Three out of four American adults take
supplements, and heart health is a leading
reason. However, despite the growing use of
drugs to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure,
or harmful blood clots, there’s a scarcity
of research about how to safely combine
these with supplements for optimum benefits.
Both supplements and drugs are
typically tested in isolation, and warnings
about interactions can be unnecessarily
alarming. According to the National
Institutes of Health, “Concerns about
herb-drug interactions are often not based
on rigorous research. Most herb-drug
interactions identified in current sources
are hypothetical, inferred from animal studies,
cellular assays, or based on other indirect
means.” That said, some drug-supplement
combinations can be dangerous.
Studies have found, for instance, that
St. John’s wort, popular for depression,
can reduce drug potency and should not
be taken with prescribed drugs unless
closely monitored by a physician. Based
on research and his clinical experience,
Stephen Sinatra, MD, a pioneer in integrative
cardiology and author of The Sinatra
Solution: Metabolic Cardiology also
Licorice with blood pressure drugs,
as the herb can raise blood pressure.
Extended-release niacin with cholesterollowering
statins, as the combination
can put too much stress on the liver.
Specific blood-thinning nutrients
and herbs with drugs that thin blood,
as the combination could lead to
dangerous bleeding. (Keep reading for
more on blood-thinning supplements).
On the other hand, medications can
deplete nutrients that are vital for heart
health, and the right supplements are
essential to counteract such depletions,
reduce some drug side effects, and improve
30 • FEBRUARY 2019
heart health and overall wellbeing. Can
supplements replace the need for drugs?
Along with diet and lifestyle changes,
perhaps—in some cases.
“Certainly there are large numbers
of the population with mild to moderate
hypertension, for example, or borderline
type 2 diabetes, who can certainly come off
pharmaceutical drugs with lifestyle changes
such as weight loss, eating a better diet, and
taking targeted nutritional supplements,”
says Sinatra. But, he adds, “Pharmaceutical
drugs are life-saving in many situations,
especially in heart failure or arrhythmias.”
If you’re taking medications, Sinatra
emphasizes that it’s vital to tell your
doctor about your supplements. If it’s
possible that you could reduce or
eliminate medications, it’s a process
that must always involve your doctor.
BLOOD THINNER WARNINGS
Blood thinners help prevent harmful
clots that can trigger a stroke or heart
attack. The oldest blood thinner, warfarin
(brand names are Coumadin and Jantoven)
works by blocking vitamin K, which is
needed to form clots and stop bleeding.
Taking vitamin K supplements or eating
too many vitamin K-rich foods reduces
the drug’s effectiveness.
In addition, warfarin should not be
combined with supplements that thin
blood, says Sinatra, especially nattokinase,
The Most Studied Heart-Healthy Herb
More than 750 studies and scientific articles have
documented the benefits of Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) for
heart health. Some highlights:
AGE slowed the accumulation of arterial plaque by 80 percent and reduced levels
of existing plaque, effectively slowing down and even reversing atherosclerosis.
When taken for at least 2 months, AGE reduced harmful LDL cholesterol by up to
AGE lowered blood pressure by an average of 5.1 mm Hg in systolic
pressure (the top number) and 2.5 mm Hg in diastolic pressure.
ginkgo biloba, garlic, ginger, and vitamin
E in doses of more than 400 IU daily.
Sinatra says that these heart-healthy
supplements should not be problematic
for those on blood thinners: fish oil in
doses of 1,000 mg daily of an EPA/DHA
combination, magnesium, a low-dose
multivitamin (without vitamin K), and
CoQ10. However, there have been some
case reports of excessive bleeding or
reduced drug effectiveness when CoQ10
was combined with warfarin, so its use
with the drug should be monitored by a
doctor. Taking warfarin requires blood
tests, usually performed every few weeks.
Newer blood thinners such as Xarelto,
and Eliquis don’t affect vitamin K, but the
warfarin cautions mentioned above also
apply to the newer drugs.
EDITOR'S PICKS: HEART-SMART SUPPLEMENTS
In studies that produced these types of benefits, daily doses have ranged from 1,000–2,400
mg per day. An average recommended dose for heart health is 1,200 mg daily.
SUPPLEMENTS, STATINS & BLOOD
Other than St. John’s wort, licorice with
blood-pressure drugs, and extended-release
niacin with statins, supplements should
not be a problem with statins and blood
pressure medications, says Sinatra. Rather,
it’s vital to avoid these nutrient depletions:
COQ10: Statins are known to deplete
CoQ10, contributing to muscle weakness
and pain. Taking CoQ10 can alleviate
these symptoms. Drugs to lower blood
pressure and blood sugar can also deplete
the nutrient. CoQ10 is essential for the
heart to produce energy. It reduces
fatigue and risk for heart attacks and
heart failure. Exposure to pollutants also
diminishes it, and levels naturally drop
as you age. Use the Ubiquinol form of
CoQ10 for optimal absorption.
VITAMIN K 2
: Depleted by statins, vitamin
is essential to prevent calcium deposits
from blocking arteries and to enhance
calcium absorption in bones. For anyone
over age 50 who is not taking warfarin,
Sinatra recommends taking vitamin K 2
in the form of MK-7 (menaquinone-7).
& Arteries with
In addition to keeping your doctor
apprised of your supplement regimen,
it’s prudent to have your medications
reviewed to make sure there are no
potential drug-drug interactions.
Vera Tweed has been researching and writing about supplements, holistic nutrition, fitness, and other aspects of healthy living since 1997. She is the author of several books, including Hormone Harmony: How to
Balance Insulin, Cortisol, Thyroid, Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone to Live Your Best Life.
32 • FEBRUARY 2019
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with a colored
❶ A deficiency of which vitamin has been
shown to contribute to cardiovascular
disease, including strokes, heart attacks,
and congestive heart failure?
❷ Which vitamin is essential for helping calcium
bind to the body’s bone mineral matrix,
preventing the mineral from collecting in
blood vessels (where it can cause problems)?
❸ Which vitamin plays a fundamental role
in promoting the body’s production of
collagen, an essential nutrient for artery,
joint, and skin health?
❹ Which vitamin is the most important
component of CoQ10, necessary for energy
and cardiovascular health?
❺ Which vitamin has been shown in studies
to lower Lp(a), a dangerous form of
cholesterol that, when elevated, increases
heart attack risk?
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34 • FEBRUARY 2019
In the trendy world of
healing herbs, you’ll
find maca, ashwagandha,
chaga, and other
by the handful into
smoothies, energy bars,
and even coffee drinks.
But with these powerful
plants, more isn’t better;
it’s best to use them
carefully, not randomly,
choosing those matched
to your specific needs
by Lisa Turner
Adaptogens aren’t like other herbs; they have a specific mode of action that
involves normalizing physiologic functions and restoring the body to equilibrium.
The term was first used by Russian researchers in 1957 to describe substances
that increase the “state of non-specific resistance” in stress. The definition was later
expanded to include compounds that are safe and normalize body functions and
strengthen systems compromised by stress.
This specific class of herbs works in part by influencing the hypothalamic-pituitaryadrenal
(HPA) axis, a neuroendocrine system that controls the body’s response
to stress and regulates energy, immunity, digestion, mood, emotions, and other
physiologic processes. More recent research has found that adaptogens also protect
mitochondria, the parts of the body’s cells that create energy, from the effects of the
stress hormone cortisol.
Because adaptogens influence the body’s innate physiology, they can take time to
work—and they shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. Start with one or two adaptogens
that target a specific condition or need, and give them time; with the exception of
energizing adaptogens like ginseng, cordyceps, and rhodiola, you may need at least two
weeks to start noticing effects. And if you use adaptogens daily, take periodic breaks;
some research suggests these breaks also enhance the ability of adaptogens to work
better. Generally, a pattern of three weeks on, one week off, is recommended.
So which adaptogens should you take? Here’s a guide to the most popular of these
potent herbs, and the conditions they best address:
36 • FEBRUARY 2019
COGNITIVE FUNCTION AND BRAIN HEALTH
BACOPA MONNIERI, from an herb traditionally used in
Ayurvedic medicine to treat a variety of conditions,
has been shown to enhance cognitive function, improve
memory and recall, and protect against age-related
neurodegeneration, dementia, and cognitive decline.
RHODIOLA ROSEA, from a perennial flowering plant
native to Europe, Asia, and North America, influences
the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine,
improving mood, energy, memory, and the ability to
concentrate. It may also help combat mental fog, boost
mental performance, and enhance focus.
LION’S MANE, a mushroom used in traditional Chinese
medicine, contains compounds called hericenones and
erinacines, which have neuroprotective and cognitiveenhancing
effects. Some studies suggest that lion’s
mane boosts proteins that are needed for the growth,
maintenance, and survival of neurons. Lion’s mane has
also been shown to treat anxiety and depression.
GINSENG, an adaptogenic root used
for thousands of years in traditional
Chinese medicine, is a potent energy
tonic that enhances endurance,
reduces mental and physical fatigue,
and improves physical and cognitive
performance. The active compounds in
ginseng, ginsenosides, have also been
shown to impact the central nervous
system and offer protection against
Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, depression,
and other neurological disorders.
STRESS AND ADRENAL FATIGUE
MUCUNA PRURIENS, from
a tropical legume
native to Africa
and Asia, is high in
L-dopa, a precursor
to dopamine—a neurotransmitter
that plays a
role in executive function, motivation,
and arousal. Studies show that Mucuna
pruriens eases psychological stress and
ease depression, a common side effect
of adrenal fatigue. It’s also been shown
to improve fertility in men and protect
against Parkinson’s disease.
SCHISANDRA, which is
also known as wu
wei zi in traditional
comes from a woody
vine native to northern
China. It’s used to treat
stress and physical exhaustion, and
studies show that it can reduce cortisol
and protect the adrenals. Schisandra
also has powerful immune-supportive
effects and benefits the cardiovascular
and respiratory systems.
CORDYCEPS, a fungus that grows on the
bodies of caterpillars (modern versions
are grown on grains, so they’re vegan),
is used to enhance energy and stamina,
and has been shown to improve tolerance
to high-intensity exercise. It’s also
an anti-inflammatory with immuneenhancing
FEBRUARY 2019 • 37
Be Mine Chocolate-Fig
Made with libido-boosting adaptogens plus
traditional aphrodisiac foods, this creamy,
sexy smoothie is sure to boost desire.
It’s loaded with dark chocolate, which
contains phenylethylamine (PEA), a
compound that prompts the release of
endorphins and enhances the activity of
dopamine, a brain chemical associated with
pleasure; chocolate also boosts levels of
serotonin, the feel-good neurotransmitter.
Figs and bananas are traditional aphrodisiac
foods, long thought to inspire desire.
This sweet treat is also spiked with maca
and ashwagandha, adaptogens known for
their ability to increase libido, relieve anxiety,
and improve mood.
For a thicker smoothie, freeze the
banana first, or add a few ice cubes. If using
dried figs, soak them first in warm water for
half an hour to soften, then drain.
1 ripe banana
6 fresh or dried figs, stems removed
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup almond butter
2 Tbs. cocoa powder
1 Tbs. maca root powder
2 tsp. ashwagandha powder
Honey or agave to taste (optional)
Chocolate shavings for garnish.
1. Peel banana and cut into chunks.
Combine in blender with figs, almond
milk, almond butter, cocoa powder,
maca root powder, and ashwagandha
powder. Purée until smooth.
2. Add honey or agave, if desired, for
sweetness. Divide equally between two
large glasses, garnish with chocolate
shavings, and serve immediately.
Per serving: 360 cal; 11g prot;
20g total fat (2.5g sat fat); 44g
carb; 0mg chol; 170mg sod;
10g fiber; 23g sugar
PHOTOGRAPHY: PORNCHAI MITTONGTARE;
FOOD STYLING: CLAIRE STANCER; PROP STYLIST: ROBIN TURK
38 • FEBRUARY 2019
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DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND MOOD
ASHWAGANDHA, an herb native to Asia and southern India,
is traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to support
the nervous system, enhance immune function, and improve
the body’s response to stress. Studies show that ashwagandha
significantly reduces cortisol levels, eases depression, balances mood, and lowers
stress and anxiety. Because it’s a member of the nightshade family, people who are
sensitive to nightshades should avoid ashwagandha, or use it with caution.
CHAGA, from a fungus that grows on birch and other
trees, has antiviral, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory,
and immune-supportive properties. It contains powerful
anticancer compounds, and some studies show it can
suppress tumor progression and reduce DNA damage
by up to 40 percent.
ASTRAGALUS, from the root of a perennial plant in the pea
family, has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands
of years to improve immunity, reduce stress, and treat
heart, liver, and respiratory conditions. Studies show that
it can inhibit the growth of viruses, activate the immune
response, inhibit tumor growth, and protect against lung,
gastrointestinal, and other cancers.
TURKEY TAIL is an adaptogenic mushroom known for its
potent antiviral and immune-enhancing effects. It’s high
in polysaccharide compounds that have been shown to
help improve immune function, ward off viruses and
other pathogens, and protect against various forms of
cancer, especially breast and colorectal cancers.
EDITOR'S PICKS: ADAPTOGEN ALL-STARS
SEXUAL HEALTH AND VITALITY
MACA ROOT, from a Peruvian plant
that’s related to radishes and turnips,
is traditionally used to promote fertility
and increase sexual desire and performance.
Studies show that it can improve sperm
quality, enhance libido, and relieve
sexual dysfunction in women taking
antidepressants. It’s also been shown to
support immune function, boost physical
performance, and reduce fatigue.
MUIRA PUAMA, or “potency wood,” comes
from the roots and bark of a tree native
to Brazil. It’s traditionally used as a tonic
to treat a variety of conditions, including
sexual dysfunction, hormonal imbalances,
and lack of sexual desire. Studies show
that muira puama in a combination
herbal formula improved erectile
dysfunction in men, and increased
sexual desire and enhanced ability to
achieve orgasm in women.
is a blend of
for better memory
contains a mix
such as ginseng,
features the herb
is gathered from
and Rhodiola uses
Lisa Turner is a chef, food writer, product developer, and
nutrition coach in Boulder, Colo. She has more than 20 years of
experience in researching and writing about nourishing foods,
and coaching people toward healthier eating habits. Find her at
40 • FEBRUARY 2019
asktheNUTRITIONIST/ANSWERS TO YOUR FOOD QUESTIONS
The most popular vegetable in the United States is a bloodsugar-spiking
starch, a nightshade vegetable, and a commonly
genetically modified food /// BY MELISSA DIANE SMITH
: I love potatoes and consider them a comfort food. But a friend recently told me that
there are some nutritional problems with potatoes—and even health risks from eating
them. From a nutrition and health standpoint, what are the most important things to
know about potatoes? —Samantha S., Eugene, Ore.
Smith is an
known journalist and
holistic nutritionist who
has more than 20 years of
clinical nutrition experience
and specializes in using
food as medicine. She is
the cutting-edge author
of Going Against GMOs,
Going Against the Grain,
and Gluten Free
Throughout the Year, and
the coauthor of Syndrome
X. To learn about her
coaching programs, or
speaking, visit her
a:You ask an important question
because potatoes are the most
popular vegetable in the United States.
Many people eat them without a thought
and without any knowledge of nutrition
problems or health risks associated with
them. The most important things to
know about potatoes are:
Potatoes seem like a harmless vegetable,
but they are quickly converted to
glucose. They can spike blood sugar
and insulin levels, and may contribute
to weight gain, which is why many
people on low-carb or low-glycemic
diets avoid potatoes.
The potato is a nightshade vegetable
that contains glycoalkaloids, which
have been implicated in the development
of intestinal permeability, digestive
trouble, and joint pain in some people.
Unless you buy organic, the chances
are good that the potatoes you eat are
genetically modified (GM), because
GM potatoes are now widespread
in the U.S. food supply. The creator
of GM potatoes, Dr. Caius Rommens,
recently wrote a book, Pandora’s Potatoes:
The Worst GMOs, warning about
potential dangers from GM potatoes.
There are many different varieties of
potatoes, and each of their
nutritional profiles vary. Russet
baked potatoes are good
sources of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B 6
folate, niacin, iron, and manganese, but
they rank high on the glycemic index,
meaning that their carbohydrates are
quickly broken down into sugar, causing
blood sugar and insulin levels in the body
to rise rapidly. Red potatoes, on the other
hand, contain fewer calories and carbohydrates,
and slightly more niacin. And they
rank moderately on the glycemic index.
Potatoes and Weight Gain
A few studies have implicated potatoes
in weight gain. A 2009 study from
the Journal of the American Dietetic
Association that followed
42,696 participants over
a five-year period found
that eating potatoes
was associated with
an increase in waist
circumference in women.
in the New England
Journal of Medicine
that looked at the dietary
patterns of more than 120,000
participants found that
potatoes and processed
potato chips were the two
biggest contributors to weight
gain, with each serving per
day leading to an average
weight gain of 1.3 pounds and
1.7 pounds, respectively. Other
studies, however, have found no link
between potato consumption and waist
circumference or obesity.
Did You Know?
Potatoes are quickly
converted to glucose, and
can spike blood sugar and
42 • FEBRUARY 2019
Potatoes Are a Nightshade
Although few people realize it, potatoes
are members of the nightshade family,
which contain toxic substances such as
glycoalkaloids that increase intestinal
permeability, or “leaky gut.” A leaky gut
is believed to set off an autoimmune
reaction when various proteins, which
should stay inside the digestive tract,
make their way into the bloodstream
and the body attacks them in response.
In one study from Digestive Diseases
and Sciences, researchers fed potato skins
(where high concentrations of glycoalkaloids
lurk) to mice with inflammatory
bowel disease, and found that gut
inflammation was significantly increased.
There is virtually no published
evidence on potatoes causing joint pain
and inflammation in healthy individuals,
but there are numerous anecdotal
accounts. For example, Mark Sisson,
author of Primal Blueprint and blogger
at Marksdailyapple.com, found that
eating potatoes on a regular basis led
to joint pain in his feet and ankles. But
that doesn’t happen when he eats other
starchy foods, such as yams or squash.
The New Risk: GMO Potatoes
Since the introduction of genetically
modified versions in 2015, the potato
has become one of the most common
genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
available in the U.S. So much so that they
were recently added to the High-Risk list
of the Non-GMO Project Standard.
Unlike many genetically modified
vegetables, the GMO potato isn’t designed
to produce its own pesticides or to resist
herbicides. Instead, the GMO potato
developed by J.R. Simplot is engineered
so that its flesh stays white when it’s
exposed to air or light, or even when
it’s bruised or diseased. The trait that
prevents the potato’s natural discoloration
was achieved by silencing its melanin
gene. The potato still gets damaged,
but the symptoms are hidden from
view—and from the consumer.
GMO potato developer Rommens
now heavily criticizes the crop he
created, and says the newfangled
If you’d like to avoid or reduce potatoes in your diet, there
are many delicious, healthy alternatives.
IN PLACE OF:
White potatoes (in a stew or pot roast)
potatoes are not really bruise-resistant
but bruise-concealing. In his book,
Rommens explains that concealed
bruises can accumulate certain toxins
that can compromise the food safety
and nutritional quality. For example,
the abnormal amino acid tyramine can
accumulate in damaged potato tissues.
Some people have a poor ability to break
down, or are sensitive to, tyramine, and
excessive tyramine intake in sensitive
people may lead to a dangerous rise
in blood pressure, or to nausea, vomiting,
quickened heart rate, or severe headache.
So, it’s possible that an unsuspecting
consumer who is sensitive to tyramine
could unknowingly eat bruise-concealing
GMO potatoes in combination with
other tyramine-rich foods, such as
blue cheese, beer, sauerkraut, sausage,
soy sauce, or tofu, and end up in the
Another toxic effect of the trait
that prevents discoloration in the GMO
potato is the concealment of infections.
Consumers may eat potatoes that look
perfectly healthy but actually contain
fungal or bacterial pathogens, which
often produce toxins and allergens.
Rommens is so concerned about the
toxic effects that develop in GMO
potatoes that he calls the potatoes
“the worst GMOs ever commercialized.”
It’s important to weigh out the information
and decide for yourself if potatoes are
a good addition to your diet. Here are
Baked yam fries
Look for potatoes that are labeled
Non-GMO Project Verified or, better
yet, USDA Organic. Seeking out
organic potato products is the best
way to avoid both GMO potatoes
and potatoes that aren’t sprayed
with synthetic chemical pesticides.
If you are overweight or have high
blood glucose levels, avoid potatoes
to determine if doing so helps you
lose weight or reduces elevated
blood glucose levels.
If you have a known autoimmune
disease, a leaky gut, or inflammatory
bowel disease—or are sensitive to
nightshades, including tomatoes,
peppers, and eggplants—try eliminating
potatoes from your diet, because
they are also nightshades that may
be aggravating your condition.
If it’s better for your health to shun
potatoes, there are plenty of vegetables
that work as a healthier substitute
(see sidebar above). Also be sure to
avoid convenience foods that have
potato-based ingredients (such as
potato starch) in them.
If you don’t think you need to stay away
from potatoes to improve your health,
it’s still prudent to increase your intake
of other vegetables that provide more
nutrients and less carbs than potatoes.
Do you have a question for the nutritionist? We would
love to hear from you! Please email your questions to
FEBRUARY 2019 • 43
eating4HEALTH/FOODS & MEALS THAT HEAL
Natural Candida Fighters
Keep this health-robbing yeast at bay with these 7 foods /// BY LISA TURNER
Candida albicans, a yeast that typically lives
in the mouth, vagina, and gastrointestinal
tract, doesn’t cause problems at normal levels.
But an overgrowth—caused by a variety
of factors including poor diet, excessive
alcohol intake, stress, and impaired digestive
function—can trigger bloating, rashes,
yeast infections, fatigue, and more.
To protect against candida overgrowth,
avoid high-sugar fruits, carbs, alcohol, dairy
products, and sugar in any form—including
honey or maple syrup. Instead, focus your
diet on lean meat, fish, poultry, non-starchy
vegetables, and healthy fats. And try these
seven foods to fight back against candida.
Coconut oil is
high in caprylic acid,
capric acid, and lauric
acid—fatty acids with
that help inhibit the growth of candida
and other pathogens. The lauric acid in
coconut is also effective against mouth
sores and can help prevent candida
infections in the mouth (thrush).
Try this: Cook asparagus, slivered almonds,
onions, and garlic over low heat in coconut
oil; combine MCT coconut oil with a few
drops of peppermint essential oil and
swish in your mouth to kill pathogens.
curcumin, an anti-inflammatory
agent that inhibits the
growth of candida and
protects against yeast infections. One study
suggested that curcumin hampered the
ability of yeasts to attach to mouth cells, and
curcumin was also shown to be synergistic
with fluconazole, an antifungal drug.
Try this: Sauté shredded Brussels sprouts,
red peppers, onions, and minced ginger
with turmeric and black pepper; toss green
beans in curry powder, black pepper, and
melted coconut oil, and roast until crispy.
Garlic is high in
garlic cloves are crushed
or chopped—which has
been shown to inhibit
the proliferation of both fungi and
bacteria. Studies suggest that allicin
can protect against candida overgrowth
and may reduce the ability of candida to
attach to cells lining the mouth. Because
heating can damage allicin, it’s best to eat
garlic raw for maximum effectiveness.
Try this: Crush whole garlic cloves, mix
with coconut oil and minced rosemary
or thyme, and use instead of butter on
cooked vegetables; finely mince garlic
cloves and whisk together with apple
cider vinegar, olive oil, and minced thyme
for an easy salad dressing.
called gingerol and
studies show that
ginger has powerful antimicrobial actions
and can inhibit the growth of candida
and other pathogens. In one study, an
antifungal cream with added ginger was
more effective at relieving yeast infections
than the antifungal cream without ginger.
Try this: Finely mince fresh ginger and
combine with miso paste, apple cider
vinegar, and sesame oil for a creamy
dressing; simmer grated ginger root and
zucchini “noodles” in vegetable broth, then
top with sliced green onions, bean sprouts,
chopped basil, and sliced jalapeño peppers.
Kimchi, a fermented
cabbage dish, is rich in
a variety of probiotics
to protect the gut from
pathogens. Studies show
that probiotics reduce gut inflammation,
protect against an overgrowth of candida
yeast, and may alleviate symptoms of
candida. Because it’s dairy-free and also
usually contains garlic and ginger, it’s
ideal for an anti-candida diet. Other
probiotic-rich, dairy-free foods include
coconut kefir, miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut.
Try this: Toss shredded spinach leaves
with kimchi, black sesame seeds, and
chopped tomatoes for an easy salad; make
turnip noodles with a spiralizer, simmer
in broth till tender, then top with kimchi.
vinegar has long
been used to protect
against yeast infections
and thrush. Studies
show that it has antimicrobial properties,
and may be more effective than nystatin,
an antifungal drug, in preventing candida
overgrowth in the mouth.
Try this: Combine apple cider vinegar
with chopped ginger, crushed garlic,
and turmeric, and let stand overnight
before straining for a potent fire cider;
toss shredded red and green cabbage,
red onions, chopped cilantro, and minced
serrano peppers with apple cider vinegar
and olive oil for a fast slaw.
Kale and other
leafy greens are high
in fiber, which nourishes
beneficial gut bacteria
and can help protect
against candida overgrowth. Kale is also
a crucifer, so it’s rich in compounds that
are thought to minimize the growth of
candida. Other non-starchy vegetables
for an anti-candida diet include spinach,
escarole, arugula, Brussels sprouts,
cabbage, broccoli, celery, green beans,
cucumber, eggplant, onion, and zucchini.
Try this: Sauté chopped kale and thinly
sliced mushrooms in coconut oil, then
sprinkle with very finely minced garlic;
toss quartered escarole and leeks in olive
oil and grill till tender.
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Indian Chicken Bowl with
This grain-free bowl uses cauliflower instead
of rice. It's topped with a simple, flavorful
curry loaded with low-starch vegetables and
candida-fighting herbs and spices. Adjust
the curry powder to taste and add cayenne
pepper for extra spiciness. Store-bought
rotisserie chicken saves time, but you can
also use tofu, shrimp, or any white fish.
1 small head cauliflower
2 Tbs. coconut oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 Tbs. minced ginger root
1 red pepper, cut into strips
1 cup green beans, thinly sliced on the
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
½ cup coconut milk
2 Tbs. curry spice blend, or more, to taste
1 tsp. turmeric powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. white pepper
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
1. Break cauliflower into 1-inch florets.
Working in two batches, process florets
in food processor, pulsing until florets
are chopped into small, rice-sized pieces.
2. Heat 1 Tbs. coconut oil in large skillet over
medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger,
red pepper, green beans, and tomatoes.
Cook 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently,
until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir
in chicken, coconut milk, and curry
spice. Reduce heat to low, and cook
3–4 minutes, stirring frequently, until
chicken is warmed through. Season
to taste with salt and pepper.
3. While vegetables cook, heat remaining
1 Tbs. coconut oil in separate skillet. Add
cauliflower, turmeric powder, salt, and
white pepper. Cook 4–5 minutes, until
cauliflower is just tender and golden.
4. To serve, divide cauliflower ”rice“
among four bowls. Top with chicken
and vegetables, garnish with cilantro,
and serve immediately.
Per serving: 250 cal; 25g prot; 11g total fat
(7g sat fat); 13g carb; 60mg chol; 370mg sod;
5g fiber; 5g sugar
PHOTOGRAPHY: PORNCHAI MITTONGTARE; FOOD STYLING: CLAIRE STANCER; PROP STYLIST: ROBIN TURK
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FEBRUARY 2019 • 47
healthyDISH/RECIPE MAKEOVERS FULL OF MODERN FLAVOR
Spaghetti Squash Lasagna
For an even simpler version of this
trimmed-down treat, you can omit the
cooking step by substituting 8–10 frozen
turkey meatballs for the ground meat.
Just place them evenly into the squash
and follow the rest of the instructions.
1 large spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise
1 lb. lean, pastured ground turkey, ground
beef, or vegetarian beef “crumbles,”
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 tsp. granulated onion
Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
1 24-oz. jar high-quality marinara sauce
1 8-oz. carton organic ricotta cheese
1 cup organic part-skim shredded
Light & Clean
This trimmed-down version of a hearty favorite makes
the perfect comfort food for cold winter nights
/// BY JONNY BOWDEN, PHD, CNS, AND JEANNETTE BESSINGER, CHHC
Lasagna is one of those comfort foods that everybody loves and that low-carb
advocates avoid like the plague. So leave it to Chef Jeanette to come up with a lowercarb,
higher-nutrient version that has all the deliciousness of the traditional dish.
Instead of pasta, Chef used squash, a good high-fiber, low-calorie, nutrient-rich
vegetable that’s perfect for a low-carb diet. She upgraded the meat by using
either turkey or grass-fed beef, and
mixed in two of the healthiest “additives”
on the planet—garlic and onion.
Then she finished the whole thing off
with a big helping of lycopene-rich
tomato sauce (marinara). Not only
is it easy to make, but it’s a huge crowdpleaser.—Dr.
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lay squash
halves face down on edged baking sheet,
and roast 35–40 minutes, until you can
dent skin with a spoon.
2. While squash is baking, combine the
ground meat, garlic, onion, salt, and
pepper in large skillet over mediumhigh
heat. Cook, stirring frequently,
until meat is no longer pink, about
7 minutes. (If using vegetarian crumbles,
you can skip the cooking step.)
3. When squash is tender, remove from
oven, reduce temperature to 350°F,
and let squash cool slightly until you
can handle it.
4. Scrape squash strands out of skin,
and transfer evenly to large baking
dish. Spread prepared ground meat
(or vegetarian crumbles and spices)
evenly over squash strands. Pour
sauce evenly over meat. Dollop with
ricotta, and sprinkle with mozzarella.
Bake 30 minutes, until hot throughout
and cheese is melted.
Per serving: 520 cal; 39g prot; 28g total fat
(13g sat fat); 28g carb; 110mg chol; 1,090mg sod;
2g fiber; 13g sugar
NOTES FROM THE CLEAN FOOD COACH
The fresher your spaghetti squash, the “juicier” it will be when cooked. If your squash
releases a lot of moisture, drain it for 15 minutes in a colander or sieve after scraping it out of
its skin. Alternatively, you can remove excess moisture from the (cooked and slightly cooled)
lasagna by gently supporting contents with a large pan lid and tipping the pan to drain.
PHOTOGRAPHY: PORNCHAI MITTONGTARE; FOOD STYLING: CLAIRE STANCER; PROP STYLIST: ROBIN TURK
48 • FEBRUARY 2019
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©2019 Solgar, Inc.
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