3 health tips for techies

Humans aren’t designed to sit for long periods of time. According to a meta-analysis involving over 800,000 subjects, people who sit the most have a 2-fold increase in diabetes, 2.5-fold increase in heart disease, 90% higher risk of death from heart disease and 50% higher risk of death from all causes compared to people who sit the least.

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There are many desk jobs in modern society. Given the alarming increase in disease that accompanies sitting all day, these 3 health tips are well-worth implementing.

  1. Give your workstation a makeover and get a treadmill desk AND/OR standing work station.
  2. Take breaks: Get up and stretch every hour even if it’s for 1 minute (you can set a popup reminder on your computer calendar). Getting up to get some water will help prevent dehydration, boost circulation, and get you off your booty.
  3. So sitting is bad for you. Guess what else? Too much bright light and blue light ESPECIALLY after the sun has gone down. Light disrupts melatonin, which is a powerful cancer suppressor. 
    Work when it is light outside and limit or eliminate evening screen time. If for some reason this isn’t an option, install
    software to dim your computer screen so blue light doesn’t interfere with sleep as much. Unfortunately, the apps for iPhones and iPads only work if you jailbreak your phone. However, you can dim the brightness on most devices.
    Having more time spent in the dark after the sun goes down helps balance hormones, trim fat off your waist, and could even reduce your appetite and cravings (especially at night). Specifically, we need darkness to make Vitamin D, melatonin, and reduce levels of prolactin and cortisol (both of which increase hunger, cravings, blood sugar levels, and fat deposition). When melatonin is low and prolactin high–the adaptation that happens when we get lots of light at nighttime-the hormonal switcheroo decreases leptin (the hormone that tells us to stop eating) and increases neuropeptide-Y (the hormone that tells you to keep eating).
    The great thing is that when you dim or turn out the lights at night, the increase in melatonin production will make you sleepy so you’ll go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. So really, the computer time you’d spend at night can be traded for morning screen time…and you’ll be healthier to boot!

In our modern, tech-addicted world, it is easy to forget that we are designed to move around and not have constant access to light and food. For millions of years, we evolved under very different circumstances. Considering this, it isn’t surprising that our bodies are more disease prone when we violate these fundamentals. Taking some initiative to “get back to our lifestyle roots” is the next step in our survival.

High blood sugar is killing you: Bread and tortilla alternatives

Keeping blood sugar levels consistently in the 80-89 mg/dL range is associated with all kinds of health benefits including lower risk of heart disease (lower triglycerides, fewer small LDL particles, improved HDL), diabetes, less belly fat, normal blood pressure ranges, and more.

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Some clinics have adjusted their “acceptable blood sugar ranges” to reflect the mounting research that blood sugar levels over 90 mg/dL is a biomarker for coronary heart disease risk.

Referring to a study on 47,000 Kaiser Permanente patients,

“The study, published in the American Journal of Medicine found that blood sugar, blood glucose (BG) levels in the 95-99 range more than doubled a person’s risk of becoming diabetic.  In fact, for every point over 85 mg/dL the risk of becoming diabetic increased 6%, even when they controlled for other factors.”

Whether you are eating wheat or a gluten-free alternative, virtually all bread has a significant increase on blood sugar levels. Amylopectin A, the starch in wheat, raises blood sugar more than table sugar. Gluten-free flours such as tapioca starch, potato starch, cornstarch, and/or rice starch are also awful for your health and jack blood sugar levels up.

Some grain alternatives for sandwiches and snacks

If you are still eating high-carb tortillas and/or bread, try some of these healthier alternatives instead:

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  • Lettuce: wrap up burgers, meat and/or cheese sandwiches in crispy, organic lettuce
  • Meat: roll it up and eat it by itself or use it to roll up cheese, bell pepper, tomato, etc.
  • Protein “bread”
  • Golden flax bread (click for recipe)

Test your blood sugar at home

The only way to ensure that your blood sugar levels stay within the awesome range of 80-89 is to test! A simple glucometer is inexpensive (under $20 usually). I recommend testing yourself upon waking and then again an hour after breakfast. If your levels rise above that 89 mark, you’ve got some adjusting of your carbs to do (protein and fat aren’t going to raise blood sugar or insulin levels much, if at all). Experiment with different breakfasts until your levels are within that awesome range and then proceed to testing your levels at lunchtime and dinner, following the same steps as you did for breakfast.

If you get overwhelmed, take a couple days off and take some deep breaths, but don’t give up. It is unfortunate that our food supply has gotten so unhealthily out of hand that it is making us sick or killing us–that’s not your body’s fault. Learning how you can eat delicious foods that don’t make you sick and spike your blood sugar is worthwhile and could very well save your life.

For plenty of blood sugar balancing recipes, click here.

Confessions of a chocoholic

I’m not gonna lie: I LOVE chocolate. I eat it almost every single day and I consider it to be a contributor to my great health. In order for me to give chocolate a thumbs up, however, I’ve got some standards.


Chocolate snob requirements

1. It must be over 70% cocoa. Why? First, it’s richer in flavonoids & secondly, it’s lower in sugar. These plant-based compounds exert numerous benefits on our health. A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies conducted at Harvard showed that flavonoids can reduce risk of heart disease and diabetes for several reasons, including:

  • Boosting HDL cholesterol (the lipid taxi that returns cholesterol back to the liver for recycling)
  • Stopping the oxidation of LDL cholesterol
  • Helping thin the blood (reducing the potential for dangerous blood clots)
  • Enhancing the function of red blood cells
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Reducing insulin resistance

2. Short ingredient list (with easily identifiable, quality ingredients) AND no soy lecithin. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier and so is used to enhance texture, but who are we kidding–soy is in friggin’ EVERYTHING. I don’t want it in my chocolate and I don’t find that soy lecithin-free chocolate is lacking in great texture. Avoid chocolates made with Dutch cocoa (they use some nasty chemicals to make this & the process reduces the antioxidants by half), preservatives, and/or trans fats.

Why chocolate is a superfood

Aside from the high levels of flavonoids, some of the greatest benefits of chocolate are the result of its potent antioxidant activity. Raw cocoa powder is off the charts high in antioxidants, but dark chocolate rocks too. In a recent article by Kelly Herring of Healing Gourmet, she explains that

“The best measure of a food’s antioxidant power is called the oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). Foods that have a higher ORAC score have a greater ability to neutralize free radicals, the unstable molecules that damage cells and DNA and contribute to aging, heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more. The ORAC score of raw broccoli, for example, is 1,362. That’s pretty good. But it’s nowhere near blueberries, which rank near the top of all fruits and vegetables at 6,552. However, even blueberries don’t come close to cocoa, with an ORAC score of 80,933!”

Chocolate is good for your brain

As if we needed any more reasons to love chocolate, it turns out that cocoa is also rich in a natural chemical called epicatechin. According to The Journal of Neuroscience this compound helps to stimulate blood vessel growth and nerve development in the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.  Epicatechin was also found to turn on genes that are important for cognitive function, while turning off the genes that play a role in inflammation and neurodegeneration. How awesome is that?!

Some brands I love

Navitas Naturals  OR Divine Organics raw chocolate powder~this is my staple for hot cocoa, chocolate whipped cream and homemade ice cream

Alter Eco, the Dark Blackout 85% is my fave!

Equal Exchange Chocolates, their 80% Panama Extra Dark is amazing! Plus they are organic and fairly traded. Bonus!

Divine, fair trade cocoa from Ghana, 85% dark is truly divine!

Endangered Species, Extreme Dark 88% deeelicious

Dolfin Belgian Chocolate, Chocolate Noir 88% smooth and dark

Green & Blacks, 85% dark

Lindt, because you can get it almost anywhere & they offer plenty of high cocoa content options…and it is super tasty. However, double check the ingredients (the 90% cocoa one has Dutch cocoa, which drastically reduces the antioxidant load).



Journal of Neuroscience (Society for Neuroscience), May 30 2007, Volume 27, Issue 22. “Plant-Derived Flavanol Epicatechin Enhances Angiogenesis and Retention of Spatial Memory in Mice” Authors: H van Praag, MJ Lucero, GW Yeo, K Stecker, N Heivand, C Zhao, E Yip, M Afanador, H Schroeter, J Hammerstone, and FH Gage.
Maron DJ. Flavonoids for reduction of atherosclerotic risk. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2004 Jan;6(1):73-8.Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Jarvinen R, Rissanen H, Heliovaara M, Reunanen A, Hakulinen T, Aromaa A. Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr 2002 Sep
ORAC Report 2007, USDA
American Heart Association’s Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.
Shrime MG, Bauer SR, McDonald AC, Chowdhury NH, Coltart CE, Ding EL.Flavonoid-rich cocoa consumption affects multiple cardiovascular risk factors in a meta-analysis of short-term studies.J Nutr. 2011 Nov;141(11):1982-8. Epub 2011 Sep 28.

Superhero Chocolate Chip Cookies

Before digging out your old cookie recipe that’s full of sugar and flour that’ll send your blood sugar through the roof (and make you more likely to catch whatever nasty cold is going around), consider this: A completely healthy cookie recipe that TASTES just as delicious….maybe even more delicious. Send your excuses packing (i.e. “I don’t make cookies that often so I’ll just eat the “good ones””, “Those healthy cookie recipes aren’t as good”) and kindly stop and listen. You can enjoy delicious tasty treats that are also good for you. This recipe, modified from Maria Emmerich’s Nutritious and Nutritious Journal, is a great way to start!



  • 1 cup butter (preferably grassfed and/or organic) OR coconut oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1.5 cups blanched almond flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1-1.5 cups Swerve or Just Like Brown Sugar (I used 1 cup and it was perfect, but I like things less sweet)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 3 ounces of your favorite chocolate, chopped into chocolate chip sizes. I used 1/2 bar each of Lindt 70% cocoa and Lindt 90% cocoa. You can also used ChocoPerfection Bars which are sweetened with chicory root.

How to:

  1. Cream butter in large mixing bowl with electric mixer.
  2. Add egg, vanilla, and sweetener and blend thoroughly.
  3. While mixing, add in the rest of the ingredients (chocolate last).
  4. Preheat oven to 325.
  5. Roll dough into tablespoon sized balls and push flat (3/4 inch thick) on parchment paper covered cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 17-20 mins or until golden brown. Cool completely.

These cookies were so super delicious–and even better that they don’t have an immunosuppressant effect OR send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride to Lethargy-ville like treats with sugar and flour. Makes about 24 small cookies. Enjoy with some full-fat raw or organic milk 🙂