Monday, October 24, 2011

How Toxic Are You?

Unfortunately, the question these days is not, “Are you toxic?”,  but “How toxic are you?”  Today, there are ~75,000 chemicals that we are potentially exposed to on a daily basis.  Most of these were not around thirty years ago.  They can be found in our air, water, food, soil, cleaning products, personal care products, clothing, furniture, building materials, cooking materials, cell phones, computers, and the list goes on and on.

The majority of us have toxins that have built up in our bodies since the moment we were conceived.  Whatever toxins your parents were exposed to likely went into the sperm and egg that initiated your development and this continued in the womb with the toxins your mom took into her body.   Both my parents smoked and my mom smoked when she was pregnant for me, so from the very beginning, I was exposed to the chemicals found in cigarettes. 

In fact, in 2005, the Environmental Working Group conducted a study on 10 randomly collected umbilical cord blood samples and found a total of 287 chemicals.  One hundred and eighty of these are known to cause cancer in humans and animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth or developmental defects in animals. 

In addition, in 2009, the Centers for Disease Control published it’s Fourth National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals in which it tested 212 compounds and found them all in the blood and urine samples of most of the participants from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. 

What did they find?  Here is a short list of the most prevalent compounds:

Mercury - in seafood, pollutant from coal power plants, industrial processes.  Causes brain development and functional problems.

Polybrominated diphenyl ethers - flame retardants in furniture, computers, TVs.  They accumulate in the food chain and fat tissue and can cause damage to the nervous system, liver and kidneys, as well as sexual dysfunction, thyroid problems, and brain disorders.

Bisphenol A (BPA) - this compound has been widely talked about lately and is found in polycarbonate-type plastics, like water bottles, the linings of food cans, some cash register receipts, plastic dinnerware, and even toys.  It has weak estrogenic activity and influences reproductive development.

Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) - think of Teflon on non-stick cookware, stain-resistant clothing, food packaging and even some light bulbs.  It can lead to liver and immune system dysfunction as well as infertility and reproductive issues.

Acrylamide - produced by deep-frying and charring starchy foods as well as from smoking.   It is also carcinogenic.

What’s interesting about this list is that although some of these compounds have nothing to do with food, they still wind up in our food chain, suggesting that one of the main ways we’re exposed to them is through our diets.  I didn’t even mention pesticides, herbicides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, artificial colors, etc. 

We are literally bombarded by chemicals on a daily basis, and at some point our livers can’t work fast enough or well enough to neutralize and clear them. 

What are some of the symptoms that indicate your body burden may be off the charts?

General aches and pains
Brain fog, memory problems
Problems with balance or tremors
Ringing in the ears
Vision problems
Difficulty losing weight
A depressed immune system
Digestive issues
Skin problems
Lifestyle diseases such as type II diabetes or cardiovascular disease

This is why it is so important to eat the cleanest diet possible if you want to stay healthy, energetic, and in a positive state of mind.  This means, buying organic whenever possible, especially the foods from the Dirty Dozen list, eating a whole foods diet that minimizes added chemicals, and drinking clean, filtered water. 

And for those of you that feel you may need help clearing your bodies of excess toxins, I offer a 10 or 28 day detox through Metagenics that will help you to cleanse without going on a strict fast.  In fact, if you want to eliminate toxins from your body, fasting is not recommended at all because you will not be supplying your body with the correct nutrition it needs to clear the bad stuff.   If you want to know if a detox is right for you, contact me.

In the meantime, understand that keeping your diet clean is one of the best ways to ensure that your body can safely handle eliminating unwanted chemicals without getting overwhelmed.   If you’re kind to your body, it will be kind right back to you…

Linda DiBella is a nutrition and lifestyle mentor who helps clients gradually change their diet and lifestyle habits so they can lose weight, eliminate their dependency on stimulants, have more energy, and improve their moods. She works with clients in person, over the phone, or Skype. For more information, visit her website at or email her at

Photo courtesy of digitalart

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Halo Effect

Beware of the Halo Effect.  This is a term that I came across by health expert JJ Virgin when she was talking about health food stores.  In this article, it refers to several situations centered on food that can sabotage your healthy eating habits.   For example:

If it’s sold at a health food store, it must be good me.  Well, I’ve been to a number of natural foods stores that have entire aisles devoted to crunchy snack foods like potato or corn chips, pretzels, and crackers.  Are they any better for you than what you would find at your local grocery store?  Maybe, and if so, only slightly.    

Why?  Because they’re still snack foods that tend to be made with starchy vegetables like potatoes and corn, or flours made from ground grains, added sugar and salt.  And for the most part, that’s it.   The nutrient value is low, but the tendency to overdo it on them is high.  You know the old saying for Lay’s Potato Chips: ‘You can’t eat just one…’

What’s healthier about them?  They are sometimes made with organic corn or potatoes, and slightly healthier oils like sunflower.   Crackers may be made with organic, whole grain flours and use alternative sweeteners to high fructose corn syrup.   The key with any of these snack foods is to eat them occasionally and in small quantities.

Because it’s good for me, I can eat as much of it as I want.  Overdoing anything, even water, can have detrimental affects.  But let’s look at a food like organic almond butter.  Yes, it’s made with organic almonds with no added unhealthy fats or sugar.  But just two tablespoons can have 190 calories and 16 grams of fat.  If you’re putting a thick layer onto your toast or regularly eating it out of the jar with a spoon, you will easily pack on the pounds. 

As much as I don’t agree with the concept ‘a calorie is a calorie’, calories do exist and they do count.  Even an apple has calories and they can add up when you don’t pay attention to portion size.  No matter what you’re eating, more will mean more calories and not necessarily more benefits.  

Because it’s got healthy ingredients in it, it’s all good.  I think of this concept as the ‘Good by Association’ factor.  The other day, I was at Starbuck’s having a Tazo Vanilla Rooibos tea and I picked up one of their ‘Nutrition by the Cup’ brochures.  It lists nutrition data for their beverages.  They have four Tazo latte drinks listed.  A tall Tazo Green Tea Latte with 2% milk has 260 calories versus their Full-Leaf and Full-Leaf Red Tea Lattes that both have 150 calories.  What’s the difference?  The Green Tea version has an additional two grams of fat and sixteen grams of sugar. 

Would you suspect the huge difference when choosing between the three?  I sure wouldn’t.  And if I didn’t know, I would probably go with the green tea drink, thinking it was healthier.   Their Chai Latte fell between the two groups.  And by the way, my vanilla rooibos tea, which I enjoy without anything added, has zero calories.  

The bottom line is that you must be a diligent food detective when choosing your meals, snacks, and beverages.  A restaurant salad may be perfectly healthy until the heavy dressing full of sugar is added and a fruit smoothie advertised as ‘made with real fruit’ may have unhealthy and maybe even unnecessary ingredients lurking in the cup. 

To me, being picky about the contents is even more important than worrying about the calories, because when you choose the right foods, the calories will naturally take care of themselves.   Of course, this leads to the misguided concept that more is better.  When it comes to food, more is simply more. 

Our bodies only need and can only handle a predetermined amount of fuel and nutrients at any given time, depending on our genetics, our metabolism, and our level of activity.  These values are unique for each of us and it takes trial and error to figure this out.  Giving it more than it requires, no matter how good it may be, will only lead to storage, i.e., added fat.  And nobody wants that…

Photo courtesy of digitalart

Linda DiBella, Ph.D., is a Holistic Health Coach who helps her clients to make diet and lifestyle changes that help them lose weight, increase their energy, eliminate their cravings for unhealthy foods, sleep better, and reverse disease naturally.  Get her free report, "Have you got the guts? Why gut health is so important to overall health".  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A State of Gratitude

Our thoughts are things that create our realities.  What we think strongly influences our emotions and where we vibrate at an emotional level will determine what we attract into our lives.  For example, if we’re living in a state of anger, hatred, and resentment, then we will attract this type of energy into our lives.  On the other hand, if we’re operating though joy, love, and compassion, we will naturally attract more of the same, high-frequency, positive experiences towards us.

One of the most powerful, positive states we can occupy is the state of gratitude.   When we feel grateful for what we have, we naturally open up the channels to attract more abundance into our lives.  

According to Esther and Jerry Hicks, “Because the vibration of appreciation is the most powerful connection between the physical you and the Non-physical You, this process will also put you in a position to receive even clearer guidance from your Inner Being.”

Clearer guidance from ourselves.  Meaning that we can more easily find exactly what we need within ourselves, which is exactly where all of our true resources reside. 

Whenever I find myself becoming stressed, overwhelmed, or unhappy over a situation in my life, I turn to my gratitude list. By writing down the things in my life that I am grateful for, my thoughts naturally expand on what is good which displaces my negative thoughts and mood.  This is something that has become a habit for me over the last couple of years and is something that inspired me to start my blog Gratitude Rising.  

Two of the best times of the day to practice stepping into the state of gratitude are before going to bed at night and before getting out of bed in the morning.  Just before bed, think of at least 5 things that you are grateful for or that went well during the day.  Keep a gratitude log or a journal and record them.  Doing this right before bed will also help set your thoughts into your subconscious while you sleep.  Before you get out of bed, you’re also likely to still be in this state.   Practice this often and watch what happens.   What you focus on, will expand, and that can be a very good thing…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Be a Clown

This weekend I got to spend lots of time with my grandsons, which I love to do.  If the weather is warm, we’re doing something outdoors like playing ball or riding bikes.  This weekend, it was double Frisbee.  Antonio and I threw two Frisbees at a time from the same hand and tried to catch them both.  That was a challenge since they would both go on their separate paths; it was cool to watch, though. 

Next, we moved onto yoga.  The kids tried their bodies at downward facing dog, floor bow (boat pose), standing bow, balancing stick and tree pose.  They loved trying to master the balancing, which is difficult, especially when standing on a bumpy lawn.  Antonio mixed in some gymnastics as he demonstrated back flips, walking on his hands, and cartwheels. 

I actually did a few cartwheels too (for the first time in many years!) and I’m thankful that I didn’t pull a muscle : )  It’s amazing, when you’re young, trying a new move is easy and the last thing we think about is hurting ourselves…   It turned out to be a well-spent afternoon, because later on it down-poured.

I’ve included a picture I took of Carmine that simply astounds me.   He’s in his Halloween costume (a bit early) and playing every bit of his character here.  He truly is a clown in so many ways–he makes me laugh when he dances and pretends he’s a rock star playing a guitar.

In fact, it struck me yet again this weekend how kids don’t think twice about being real, getting silly, and laughing at themselves.  They haven’t yet gotten to the point where they take themselves too seriously and it’s easy for them to shake off any bad feelings and move forward.  Today, I read a tweet from Marianne Williamson that said:  The pro athlete who just made a mistake can’t afford to indulge even a second of self-condemnation; they have to MOVE ON.  And so do we. 

Whatever mistakes we make, we have to forgive ourselves (as well as forgive others) and move forward.  This is huge if we want to move on to our next level of growth.   Fabienne Fredrickson said this at last week’s Mindset Retreat and for some reason, the statement hit me like a bolt of lightening.  I guess I was in the right place to hear it. 

So, as hard as this may be for you–it sure is for me, don’t be afraid to be who you are and make mistakes.  We all do.  But when you do shake them off and move on–you’ll have another lesson under your belt to get you to a better place…

Have a beautiful week!