Thursday, March 31, 2016

Being low in these can kill you

I’ve often been asked what the most important nutrients are to which I typically respond, “All of them.”

Nature didn’t create anything by accident, and all nutrients serve a very valid role in your health (and life).

But alas, there are three of them that stand apart from the others…because being without them is not only NOT a good idea, but it can be deadly.

And the scary thing is, these also happen to be very common deficiencies.

Here are the 3 top important, life-saving nutrients:

Vitamin D
Most people associate vitamin D with strong bones, but that’s just the beginning.

Vitamin D also helps prevent excessive, inflammatory immune responses such as those seen in autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s, colitis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes and Graves’ disease.

It lowers your risk of Type 2 diabetes by regulating calcium in your bloodstream, which in turn encourages healthy glucose and insulin levels.

It protects you against cancer too.  Studies show vitamin D acts to decrease the growth of cancer cells and to stimulate the death of those deadly cells!

And its anti-inflammatory properties also decrease your risk of heart disease.  Arterial inflammation is a leading contributing factor to high blood pressure, arterial damage, atherosclerosis and ultimately heart disease, and vitamin D helps counteract that process.

Why deficiency is common:  Because we avoid the sun due to fears of skin cancer, and exposure to sunlight is how your body makes vitamin D.

Plus the fact that statins are in line to become our fifth food group doesn’t help either.  Your body needs cholesterol to manufacture vitamin D, so shutting down your liver’s ability to make cholesterol creates vitamin D deficiency.

How to help:  Get reasonable exposure to the sun without sunscreen—20 minutes or so can make a big difference.  Reconsider your use of statins—talk to your doctor about other ways to counteract high cholesterol like fish oil (more on that below).  Supplement with a high-quality vitamin D formula that also contains vitamin K.

Magnesium supports healthy bone growth, so deficiency can be just as much of an osteoporosis concern as calcium although most people don’t know that, thanks to the Dairy Council’s marketing efforts to push calcium.

It works with calcium to regulate your heartbeat and is a natural muscle relaxant.  So being low in it can cause irregular heartbeat, muscle spasms, tremors, cramps, twitching and even convulsions.

Magnesium deficiency is also associated with elevated levels of a compound called C-reactive protein, which is a marker of chronic inflammation and can increase your risk of heart disease.

Being low in magnesium can also lead to blood calcium buildup and ultimately gallstones, joint degeneration and bone spurs, kidney stones and atherosclerosis.

Magnesium is critical for nervous system activation and proper cell energy production—so lacking in it can cause chronic fatigue.

Plus it’s needed to produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin—so it’s no surprise magnesium deficiency is common in people with depression.

Why deficiency is common: Poor soil conditions have led to decreased magnesium content in our crops.  Plus our heavy reliance on nutrient-poor processed and fast foods has created the widespread deficiency.

How to help: Get more food sources of magnesium like meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, and oats.  Consider supplementation with a top-notch multi-vitamin and mineral formula that contains magnesium.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Omega-3 essential fatty acids support cardiovascular health by helping to keep artery walls flexible, reduce the process of plaque growth, promote healthier triglyceride and cholesterol levels, prevent blood clotting and encourage a stable heart rhythm and lower blood pressure.

They also support brain health and are essential to learning and memory. Your brain is especially rich in Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and this crucial fat helps to strengthen the fatty membrane around your nerve cells.

Research also shows that Omega-3 fatty acids act to reduce inflammation and help lower your risk of chronic diseases including cancer and arthritis.
Deficiencies in Omega-3 EFAs have been linked to heart disease, Alzheimer's, joint problems, depression, inflammation, vision loss, and other chronic conditions.

Why deficiency is common: Our shift from pasture-fed to grain-fed animals being raised for our consumption has dramatically decreased the Omega-3 EFA content of our foods.  Plus the increasingly common farm-raised fish that is available in our stores have a lower Omega-3 content than the less common wild-caught varieties.

How to help: Choose organic, grass-fed meats, eggs, and milk whenever possible, and look for wild-caught fish.  Supplement with a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil formula to ensure your body has adequate levels of this vital nutrient.

An important message from Sherry

An important message from Sherry

I met with a 45-year-old woman who was overweight, stressed out, always tired, hadn’t exercised in years and had an atrocious diet.

But she said something that no other client has ever said to me.

She said, “I know what I need to do, but I just look at myself and say, ‘Why bother?’”

If this sounds like you, then read on and see what I said to this woman. 

It’s never too late!
Many people who suffer from health challenges give up and accept illness as a way of life, feeling it’s “too late” for them and they shouldn’t bother trying to feel better.

But it’s never, ever too late to improve your health, regardless of your age or how long you’ve been this way.

No matter where you’re starting from, your body will benefit from a healthier lifestyle--that is a certainty.

Don’t listen to the nay-sayers
If anyone around you brings you down and tries to tell you that you can’t make a difference, or you’re not good enough or strong enough or smart enough, walk away.

Then prove them wrong.

I remember someone once told me that my running stride was terrible. 
(Note that he had never run more than a 3-mile stretch in his entire life.)

Well, a few years later that “awful” running stride of mine carried me for 26.2 miles in the Empire State Marathon…and will soon do so again in this year’s marathon on October 9th.

Be your own inspiration
We’ve all had experiences where people that we were inspired by let us down.  Someone that you looked up to may have turned out to be deceitful, a coward or not who you thought they were.

You may have been used, fooled, hurt or rejected.  We all have, including yours truly.

When it comes to inspiration, you have to rely on the only person you can always count on.


Be your own inspiration.  Become healthier for YOU.  You deserve it, you are worth it, you can do it and you will do it!

I believe in you.

Have a reason
Many people are motivated by having a reason to improve their health.
For example, someone very dear to me became motivated to lose weight and get fit because she wanted to be able to play with her little granddaughters and see them get married someday.

One reason I have the habits I have is because my father died of a massive heart attack at 58 and my mother had cancer twice…and I want to counteract that family history as much as possible! 

Refuse to make excuses
If you allow excuses to enter your mind, you’re done before you start.  There is no room for excuses when it comes to improving your health.

Ready?  Start with baby steps
If you’re ready to make a significant difference in your state of health, know this: It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or hard. 

Start with baby steps—little things that can have a huge impact:

1- Work more real foods into your diet
If your diet is not-so-great, gradually work in more real foods.
  • Have a tossed salad with your dinner every day.  Even a lettuce wedge drizzled with dressing counts!
  • Instead of chips or crackers, snack on carrot and celery sticks, a cube of cheese, a hard-boiled egg or a handful of nuts.
  • Choose oatmeal or scrambled eggs for breakfast over donuts, bagels, pastries or cereals.
  • Try soups or salads for lunch instead of burgers or pizza.
  • Swap out one soda or coffee a day for water.
 2- Support your gut health with probiotics
Your gut determines your health from head to toe—it absorbs the nutrients your body needs to survive, eliminates wastes and toxins and houses 70 percent of your immune system!

But your intestinal flora is always taking a hit from things like sugar and refined carbs, medications, lacking sleep and stress.

Plus these good guys are not “permanent residents” to begin with—they only “vacation” inside of you for 12 days or less! 

So it’s vital to keep your friendly gut flora population strong and healthy—and the best way to do that is with an outstanding probiotic supplement like Super Shield!

3- Get some form of exercise
When it comes to attaining better health, exercise is not optional. 

But you don’t need to be the next Jillian Michaels or Shaun T.!  Even brisk walking is a great place to start, and you can work that in any time of the day. 

Get your doctor’s blessing and get moving—you’ll love the results.
Remember, when it comes to improving your health, it’s never too late, don’t listen to the nay-sayers, be your own inspiration, have a motivating reason and don’t be an excuse-maker!

Start with baby steps and go from there.

And when you see wonderful changes taking place for you, please write and tell me about them.

To your health,

Sherry Brescia

PS:  We are in the process of revamping our website,  You’ve talked and we’ve listened--and we’re incorporating many of the suggestions we’ve received from our clients!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What builds fat & what gets rid of fat

Most people think their body fat is a reflection of how much they eat and how little they move.
That’s true to a certain extent, but there’s more to it than that—because there are forces behind the scenes that are helping to build your blubber supply.
Here are five factors that accelerate fat accumulation, as well as five ways you can fight back.

Five things that make you build fat

1) Getting too many Omega-6 fatty acids
How they build fat:  These are converted into another fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which makes your fat cells divide.

Our typical diets are loaded with processed foods, corn, soy, meat from grain-fed animals and vegetable oils—all of which are heavy in Omega-6 fatty acids.  So it's easy to see how the average person gets way too many.

2) Abnormal insulin level
How it builds fat:  It increases the number of fat cells you have.
Signs that you may have abnormal insulin levels include dark patches of skin in the creases and under your arms, central obesity (fat collecting around your waist or under your chin) and irregular periods.

3) High intake of sugar
How it builds fat:  It increases your blood insulin level, which in turn leads to number 2) above.  It also triggers your fat cells to "pop up" and start making fat from sugar in your bloodstream.

In addition to table sugar, heaven knows sugar is hidden in practically every processed food imaginable and in the truckloads of soda the average person drinks.

4) Thiazolidinediones (a diabetes medication)
How they build fat: These stimulate fat cell division and increase fat storage.  They've also been associated with a higher rate of heart attacks.
If you are on this type of medication for diabetes, talk to your doctor about alternatives.

5) Trans-fats
How they build fat: They encourage the formation of free radicals, damage cell membranes and promote inflammation--all of which lead to fat deposits while impairing the healthy functioning of your cells.

Although the world is catching on that trans-fats are basically a death sentence, they’re still in many processed foods in the form of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.

Now, in an attempt to recoup the lost revenue from people getting wise to trans-fats, food companies, and fast food restaurants are instead using vegetable oils, but this is no better.  When heated to high temperatures, vegetable oils degrade into dangerous oxidation products which, like trans-fats, can stir up inflammation and increase your risk of heart disease as well as Alzheimer’s.

So you’re trading one poison for another.

Fast food restaurants obviously deep fry at high temperatures, but note that vegetable oils are also heated during food manufacturing, especially when margarine is made.

So don’t be fooled by the “Trans-fat free!” exclamation on margarine labels because it’s still just as deadly.

The flip side
Just as there are factors that build fat, there are some that help your body eliminate it!

Five things that help you eliminate fat

1) Exercise
How it eliminates fat: It reduces insulin levels and various inflammatory and fat-promoting chemicals.

So get your doctor’s OK, put on those walking shoes, dust off that treadmill, sign up for that dance class, hit the gym or pump some iron.  Pick an activity you like and DO IT--at least 3-4 times a week.

2) Sleep
How it eliminates fat: It increases levels of immune system chemicals that reduce inflammation.

Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep a night, but many aren't getting nearly that much.  So if you're guilty of being a nighthawk, start turning in earlier.

3) Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha
How it eliminates fat: It reduces your number of fat cells.
Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha is a small cell-signaling protein that is produced while you sleep.  Yet another reason to get your Zzzzzz's.

4)  A proper Omega-6: Omega-3 fatty acid ratio
How it eliminates fat: Having an imbalanced ratio of Omega-6: Omega-3 fatty acids sends a barrage of mixed signals to your cells, one of which tells them to store fat.  So it's essential to have a ratio between 2:1 and 5:1.

Our typical diets are heavy in Omega-6 EFAs but severely lacking Omega-3 EFAs.  Although Omega-3’s are found in fatty fish like salmon, most of the salmon available are farm-raised and contains high levels of contaminants like carcinogens, PCBs, and pesticides like dioxin and DDT.

So for most people, a quality fish oil formula is the best way to go.

5) Retinoids and carotenoids
How they eliminate fat:  They help reduce your number of fat cells as well as curb your appetite.

Retinoids include vitamin A (in animal fat and meats) and vitamin A precursors (carotenoids) in vegetables.

If your diet is less-than-stellar, in addition to beefing up your consumption of whole foods, a top-notch multi-vitamin formula can help fill in the blanks where you may be lacking in nutrients.

Fight back at fat and win!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My opinion of gut cleanses

One of the most common questions I get is: What do you think of gut cleanses?

My response:  Not a big fan.

That’s not to say that many people aren’t walking around with intestinal tracts that resemble their local sewer, but the problem is cleanse products can do more harm than good, plus people tend to use them for the wrong reasons.

Here’s why I say that.

A clean gut is a must
Most people are starting to catch on to the fact that your gut determines your health from head to toe.

It houses 70 percent of your immune system, absorbs nutrients which keep you alive, eliminates wastes and traps harmful pathogens, carcinogens, viruses and bacteria so they won’t make you sick (or kill you).

So clearly, your life depends on the health of your intestinal tract, and keeping it clean is not just a good idea—it’s vital.

How will I know?
At this point, you may be wondering if everything is OK in that area about 20 inches south of your mouth.

Well, here are some signs that your gut may be in danger of housing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sometime soon:
  • Frequent constipation or straining with BMs
  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Rectal itching
  • Excessive gas
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Unpleasant body odor
  • Bad breath
  • Coated tongue
  • Frequent and recurring infections (bronchitis, sinus infections, vaginal yeast infections, etc.)
  • Acne
  • Allergies
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
The more of those signs that apply to you, the more likely it is that your gut may be on the foul side.

To cleanse or not to cleanse?
The most popular gut cleanse products are things like enemas, colonics, teas and herbal formulas.

But beware because many of them can be harsh or downright dangerous.

Cleanses that are too harsh can cause a variety of adverse effects from severe cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting, to more serious conditions like an electrolyte imbalance. 

And in rare cases, fatal complications can arise that lead to kidney failure and death.

Of special concern is any product that contains cascara sagrada as it can be extremely dangerous to people with intestinal obstruction, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, appendicitis, stomach ulcers, diverticulitis or unexplained stomach pain.

Similar comments apply to senna, plus it can also lead to an electrolyte imbalance in some people.

Plus even if you opt for a “mild” formula, most are not tailored to a person’s individual needs and may do more harm than good.

The more important issue
The more important issue here is: Why is your gut so filthy to begin with?

Although there are many causes of murky intestines including medication residue, environmental toxins, and smoking, far and away the most common causes are a poor diet and bad digestion.

When you eat garbage, expect to BE garbage.  Remember, Mom always said you are what you eat and she was right on. 

Plus if your digestion is dicey, trust me, there is muddy residue inside of you.

Keep it clean—all the time!
The best approach is to just keep your gut clean all the time! 

That way potentially dangerous cleanses become a non-issue, and the helpful 25 feet of tubing inside of you can stay strong and sharp, and keep YOU healthy!

Here’s how you can accomplish this health- and life-saving goal:

Eat REAL foods
Real foods include fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, eggs, whole grains, dairy and essential fats.

Avoid processed packaged foods with their boatloads of preservatives and chemicals that do nothing except add to your inner stink.

Make sure digestion is efficient
Avoid eating animal proteins and starches in the same meal—this combination is very difficult for most people’s bodies to break down, and can invite digestive fireworks down below.

Instead pair meats OR starches with vegetables and salads—you’ll see a huge difference FAST.

Plus a high-quality enzyme formula can help support your body’s digestive efforts. This is especially true for people who use acid reducers, the elderly, people with a long history of highly processed, nutrient-poor diets and people who have had gastric surgery or gallbladder removal.  

Support a healthy flora balance
Probiotic supplements provide crucial support to the intestinal tract by helping to repopulate your supply of friendly bacteria so they can in turn encourage strong immune functioning, proper nutrient absorption, and more regular BMs. The best choice is a multi-strain formula that contains both Lactobacillus species (for the small intestine) and Bifidobacterium (which populate the colon).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Forget Zika—this is what you should really fear

Although the Zika virus is losing steam as the latest “threat to humanity” (just like Ebola, swine flu, West Nile, bird flu and others before it), there is a clear and present danger that isn’t getting as much press.

But it’s something you must know about because it truly could spell disaster and cost countless lives on all continents.

Antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Here is what you must know about this real health threat and why it’s not just all “hype.”

How it started—we became reckless
Over the last several decades we’ve become extremely reckless with antibiotics.

They’ve been over-prescribed, used inappropriately (when the infection in question was not confirmed to be bacterial), and even used prophylactically to prevent infections (especially ear infections in children).

Plus daily-use antibiotic lotions have been a popular treatment for acne sufferers.

This recklessness has also continued beyond our doctors’ offices and onto our farms.

Agriculture accounts for about 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the US. Over 25 million pounds of antibiotics are administered to livestock in the US every year for purposes other than treating disease—instead they are used to make the animals grow larger faster (and fatten up the bottom lines for the livestock and milk industries).

And the residue from those antibiotics ends up in the meat and milk from the animals, and hence in your body.

They’re the Terminator
Antibiotics work by destroying dangerous infection-causing bacteria in your system…but they also kill off your body’s beneficial bacteria too.

Your friendly gut bacteria is where 70 percent of your immune system resides, and when they’re slaughtered by antibiotics, it’s not a temporary minor hit.  Instead, it can take your gut microbiome a year or more to recover from one single course of antibiotics.

Having an unhealthy intestinal flora balance leaves you susceptible to repeated infections (and other illnesses), has been implicated as a cause of Crohn’s disease and can trigger digestive issues like gas and bloating.

We’ve ignored their intelligence
One thing that we’ve repeatedly ignored is that bacteria are extremely intelligent.  As such, they can change and evolve and become resistant to antibiotics.

So far bacteria have found a way around every antibiotic we’ve developed, and we’re at the point now where they are causing deadly infections that even our most potent drugs can’t touch!

Plus researchers recently discovered a new gene called MCR-1 in both pigs and people in China.  MCR-1 is a gene mutation that makes bacteria resistant to even our strongest, last-resort antibiotics (called polymyxins), and is capable of being spread and diversified between different species of bacteria (such as E.coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae).

Eventually, this can result in the development of an extensive array of dangerous “super bacteria” that can potentially resist all treatment…and can spell doom for large numbers of people worldwide.

Minimize your risks
Here is where you need to take the bull by the horns and minimize your potential risks.  There are no more “magical wonder drugs” to undo this catastrophe, so it comes down to you.

Support your immune system health with probiotics and vitamin D.  The stronger your immune system is, the less likely it is that you will be facing a dangerous infection.

Talk to your doctor immediately about other options if you are on long-term antibiotics.  If he asks why show him this blog.

Use antibiotics ONLY when absolutely necessary and other measures (such as rest, vitamin C, garlic and lots of fluids) have not been enough to help you overcome a bacterial infection.

Make sure you actually have a bacterial infection versus a virus.  Antibiotics are useless for viruses.  Insist on a test before you take antibiotics.

Buy organic meat and dairy--that is the only way you can be sure you are getting antibiotic-free food.

Reduce stress- Chronic stress can damage the friendly flora in your gut, thereby weakening your immune system and increasing your susceptibility to illness.

Ditch the antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer.  These too have played a role in antibiotic resistance by helping to make bacteria stronger.  If bacteria can outsmart antibiotics, they can certainly get past antibacterial soap and hand goo too.  Plain old soap and warm water are best.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Why calorie cutting doesn’t work for weight loss

I had a client who lost 40 pounds on a 1,200 calorie diet, but then she hit a brick wall and her scale froze.

She was surprised when I told her the reason her weight loss came to a screeching halt was her 1,200 calorie diet.

Here’s why—let’s start by taking a look at…

How we’ve gotten fat
Over the past 50 years or so, we have been very efficient at creating overweight and obesity.
Our belief that high-carb, low-fat diets are “healthy” and saturated fat is the devil has created a population of people whose bodies are brimming with glucose, suffering from insulin resistance, storing massive amounts of fat and living their days in cycles of sugar spikes and crashes.

In addition, since sugar is an abrasive, inflammation-stirring substance, inflammatory conditions such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis and autoimmune diseases also continue to be our companions and are affecting us at younger and younger ages.

The chemicals in processed, refined foods play a role too.  Chemicals increase food cravings, lead to water retention and actually cause weight gain.

At the same time, our bodies have lacked the fats that they so desperately need, which impairs our brain and nervous system function, compromises the integrity of our cell walls, creates hormonal imbalances and leads to nutritional deficiencies, especially in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

And of course during all of this, the drug industry has been more than happy to make an array of products available to mask your pain, reduce your blood pressure or blood sugar, lull you to sleep, perk you up, stop your heartburn, make you happy and shut down your immune system.

So we have become a society of sick, over-drugged, overweight, undernourished people.

Why cutting calories doesn’t work
When you drastically reduce calories, at first you will most assuredly lose weight.  It’s a matter of simple math—taking fewer calories in means your body will resort to its own stores for energy.
But then the game changes.

Your body eventually goes into starvation mode, thinking that food has become scarce.  It tries to conserve energy for you so you don’t keel over.  In its efforts to save calories, it increases your hunger and S-L-O-W-S your metabolism.

And that eventually results in many a “frozen scale.”

Now when this happens, what do many people do?

Cut calories even MORE, that’s what!

But that merely perpetuates the starvation cycle and makes the situation even worse.

Don’t cut calories—nourish your body instead!
What matters far more than cutting calories is nourishing your body with wholesome real foods.  This will help reduce your insulin levels, even out your blood sugar and keep you satisfied longer.

Go organic as much as possible to avoid the chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics used in traditionally raised foods, as well as to steer clear of genetically modified foods.
Avoid all highly processed carbohydrates (including soda!) as much as possible—let beans, fresh vegetables and fruits be your primary carb sources instead.

Get healthy sources of proteins--organic meats and poultry and wild-caught fish are your best bets.

And most importantly, DO NOT shun fats.  About 30 percent of your daily calorie intake should be fats, with a fair representation of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Here are some wise fat choices to make sure your body is getting what it needs:
  • Good for cooking:  Real butter (both salted and unsalted), lard, tallow, coconut oil, peanut oil, palm oil and olive oil.  These are stable fats that won’t oxidize when heated.
  • Good for salads, cold dishes: Olive oil, organic nut oils. 
  • Food sources of fats: Red meat, eggs, butter, avocado, nuts, olives and wild-caught fish.
  • Consider supplementing: Omega-3 essential fatty acids (fish oil)—because our food supply does not contain the levels of these natural anti-inflammatories like it used to.
  • Avoid at all cost:  Trans-fats (commonly referred to as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils), highly processed vegetable oils, margarine.

Another key to weight loss—sound digestion
Another key to successful weight loss is to have efficient digestion, because if your body is not digesting your foods properly, you are not deriving the full nutritional benefit from them and not eliminating wastes like you should.

Keep your meals simple and make your stomach’s job easier.  Avoid eating animal proteins and starches together, because combinations like that are very taxing on your system.  Strive to make most of your meals proteins, vegetables and fats.

If you’re prone to constipation, probiotics can help by repopulating your supply of beneficial intestinal bacteria.  These helpful good guys help you digest carbs and fiber and keep your BMs running along more like they should.

Digestive enzyme supplements can also help, especially if you’re an acid reducer disciple, are elderly or have had gastric surgery.

See what a difference it can in reaching your weight loss goals when you nourish your body and support better digestion!

To your health,

Sherry Brescia