It’s growing season, which means pollen is in the air, insects abound, and warmer temperatures to welcome us outdoors and shake off the cold of a long winter. Allergies are in full bloom as well, causing itchy, watery eyes, clogged sinuses, hay fever, skin rashes or redness, trouble breathing, and more. If you’re tired of relying on medications to relieve symptoms—some with side effects as uncomfortable as the allergies themselves—we have some tips to help you fight allergies the natural way.

Take Care of Your Immune System

Your immune system is key to fighting off allergies. It’s your number one weapon against the symptoms that make you miserable, so take care of it with an anti-inflammatory diet. Nutrient dense foods help boost your immune system so you can fight off allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, and insect bites. Garlic is a natural antibiotic that helps ward off infections, viruses, and even allergies. Lemons and limes are loaded with Vitamin C to strengthen your immune system and help your body detoxify and be rid of impurities.

fight allergies

Eat More Raw Honey

Honey also contains enzymes that support overall immune system function, so dropping a tablespoon in your tea can help desensitize you when pollen is at its highest. If you’re allergic to honey, please avoid it! But if you’re in the clear, here are tips: Look for local raw honey. The bees in your area hop from flower to flower, and in making honey, those pollen strains get included. By picking up a local honey, you’re giving your body the specific allergens in your area to fight, helping you build a tolerance to the pollens most relevant to you.

fight allergies

Learn to Love…Apple Cider Vinegar

Just a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar in your water can help fight off an allergy attack. Pair it with lemon, and it can help wake you up in the morning, too. A teaspoon in a neti-pot also adds a natural kick to flushing your sinuses.

Have You Used a Neti Pot?

Neti pots have been shown to improve the quality of life for those with respiratory ailments, and can reduce congestion and clear the sinuses. Just ensure the water you use is distilled and as sterile as possible. The chemicals treating our tap water are too harsh for sensitive sinus tissue, and can actually aggravate the problem.

Stinging Nettle Isn’t As Scary As it Sounds

Research on the stinging nettle leaf has proven this little plant naturally controls histamines, which are the main aggravators of seasonal allergies. There are a few ways in which stinging nettle can be used: as a tea, a tincture (dissolving in alcohol), or freeze-dried. But stinging nettles not only help relieve allergies, they have a lot of benefits packed into one plant. They’ve been used as diuretics dating back to medieval Europe to relieve urinary problems, joint pain, and fluid retention (edema).

fight allergies

Enjoy Eucalyptus and Frankincense Oils

Essential oils, such as eucalyptus or frankincense, are some of the most potent for killing highly allergic house mites. They work by reducing inflammation and detoxifying harmful bacteria, killing parasites and microorganisms that cause attacks, and neutralizing toxins. A few drops of eucalyptus can be put in a neti pot, inhaled via diffuser, or even used in your laundry as an antimicrobial agent. 25 drops in each laundry load should do the trick. Mix eucalyptus oil with coconut oil and rub on your chest or behind your ears while you sleep. Frankincense oil has very powerful effects in support of the immune system. Like eucalyptus oil, it can be rubbed on your chest and behind your ears, or diffused in your home or office to combat allergy triggers.

Take Care of Your Microbiome

Probiotic supplements can help boost your gut microbiome. We know from our look at the best diets for you, gut microbiomes are essential to overall health, and when yours is ticking along like clockwork, your immune system is at its strongest, not having to fight off infections with a compromised energy system. With the majority of your immune system being controlled and boosted by your GI tract, it’s no wonder a healthy microbiome is a powerful ally in the battle against allergies. Probiotics can be found in supplements, foods, and even local farmer’s markets.

fight allergies

You don’t have to turn to the Benadryl every time your eyes tear up and itch or your sinuses clog. Over time, medications become less effective as a means of treating our allergy symptoms, so these natural methods of allergy treatment can help relieve your suffering, saving the medicine for when nothing else will work. Your immune system will thank you, too!

Check out parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


The best diet for you is personal and comes down to what you’re trying to accomplish.

With a multitude of healthy approaches to eating, it takes some mindfulness to find the appropriate diet. A plant-based wholefood diet has characteristics aligned with the Paleo diet, but the differences between them are key. If you’re trying to control your appetite or build muscle, Paleo is better. A ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet, but a low carb, high fat diet is not always ketogenic.

So let’s talk about what you want.

What are your goals?

Are you trying to lose or gain weight? Optimize endurance and athletic performance? Are you trying to find your optimal health, live a long life, and have the best quality of life? These things determine what kind of diet you should consider.

We’ve discussed genetics and gut microbiomes, but there’s more than one dietary approach that will adhere to the requirements of your DNA and digestive system. Depending on these goals, you may need more or less carbohydrates, more or less protein.

appropriate diet

Runners training for a marathon will need a lot of carbs because glycogen, the resulting fuel of carbs, burns faster than fats or amino acids. The body burns glycogen very efficiently and provides athletes with a good source of energy for those hours of intense exercise. For endurance training purposes, carbs are not the devil they can be for other dietary approaches.

Is hunger and appetite your Achilles’ heel? A high protein approach could be right for you. Protein takes longer for the body to process, delays gastric emptying, and promotes satiety. Chronically obese people benefit from a high protein diet for a period of time—not indefinitely—allowing their brain to reboot the set point for their body weight so they can lose the excess. However, high protein causes insulin responses, and the excess protein is converted to glucose in the bloodstream. So patients with insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes, protein intake needs to be monitored.

The best approach to individualizing your diet is to work with someone who can help you understand how your body responds to food, how to detect and assess those responses, and then make decisions. There are also great tools available to help with this. Food journaling is another tool in your arsenal to learning what diet matches your goals best.

Fundamental principals

There are, however, clear fundamental truths that apply to most healthy lifestyles:

  • Choose nutritious foods
  • Make sure to address nutrient deficiencies
  • Control stress
  • Get sleep
  • Maintain an active lifestyle
  • Don’t over-consume food

appropriate diet

Sure, good sleep and stress reduction don’t sound like they’d go hand in hand with a diet, but they do, just as exercise contributes to the overall picture of health. A sleep deprived or stressed out body can’t process food’s information properly when it’s consumed. That’s like a factory running with rusty conveyors and loose nuts and bolts. It’ll work. Just not well.

Eyes on the Prize

Remember, macronutrients—carbs, fat, protein—are not the only important nutrients. Micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals found in whole foods are just as important and we’re only just beginning to understand their effect on the body. So map out your optimal health goals, think of what you need to accomplish those goals, and seek understanding for which dietary approach matches those needs. Keep in mind your ancestry and gut microbiome, and you’ll find the eating approach that’s right for you. Using a journal to catalog how you feel after eating will help determine if there are any foods that aren’t good for your individual digestion. You’re in this for the long haul. Getting a handle on your best approach to eating will take time and patience, practice, and some trial and error. But the result is well worth it: your optimal, most authentic health possible.

 


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.

Check out parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back regularly for new installments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


There is no one diet that fits all.

Any book or nutritional program that claims otherwise is not being honest with you.

Because of a multitude of factors—genetics, individual gut microbiomes, allergies, and personal preferences—everyone is different in terms of what we should be eating for our most optimal health. Deciding which diet, or combination of diets, is right for you is something only you can decide. Let’s take a look at a few.

healthy diets

Plant-based wholefood diet

A plant-based diet does not mean strictly vegetarian. Some plant-based diets actually include fish and lean meats, depending on the diet’s specifics. The premise is the majority of the diet derives from foods grown in the ground:

  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds

Extra fiber and potassium help stave off heart diseases, and because the diet is naturally low carbohydrate, it improves one’s chances of developing Type 2 Diabetes. Plant based foods are also packed with phytonutrients, useful in lowering the risk of certain cancers. Micronutrients in colorful fruits and veggies lower blood pressure, which helps reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

There are risk factors to note. Plant-based wholefood diets are naturally low in protein, which forces the body to use valuable stores in the muscles. Muscle loss comes with a host of issues of strength and mobility, which are particularly detrimental to the elderly. There’s also a lower intake of vitamin B12. This vitamin is only available in animal foods, such as meat, dairy, and eggs. If your plant-based diet doesn’t include lean meats or fish, a B12 supplement is necessary to prevent anemia, fatigue, numbness in the extremities, balance problems, and poor memory. An iron supplement may also be necessary.

healthy diets

Paleo diet

This diet has become all the rage in recent years, focusing on how our ancestors ate by consisting of plant-based foods and oils, and lean meats. The major difference between this and the plant-based wholefood diet is the paleo diet cuts out grains—oats, wheat, barley, and rice—starchy vegetables, legumes or beans, dairy products, and high-fat meats like salami or rib meat.

A paleo diet naturally cuts out many of the chemicals and processed foods in a typical Western diet just by the nature of what is on the menu. The addition of red meat to this diet also means fewer concerns about low iron levels. A paleo diet also has anti-inflammatory effects, improving your overall feeling of energy. Protein is easier to come by on this diet, which leads to a full feeling between meals, because the body processes protein slower, so you feel satiated longer.

The downsides are that eating the paleo way can become expensive, where things like grains and beans can provide some bulk to meals but are excluded in paleo meals. It’s a very low carbohydrate diet, when the only carbs allowed are from fruits and vegetables. Getting the recommended amount of carbs a day can become a challenge. It’s also a strict diet, which means for the long term, it might not be as sustainable as some other diets.

Low carb, high fat diet

A low carb, high fat diet does not necessarily mean a ketogenic diet, but a ketogenic diet can be considered low carb, high fat. In fact, it can be considered a medical therapy to treat things like irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, or fatty liver disease and more. Beyond those issues, it can boost energy, and even prevent some diseases. Higher consumption of healthy fats reduces inflammation while simultaneously decreasing consumption of inflammation-inducing foods like processed carbs and sugars. Higher amounts of protein, once again, keep us feeling full longer, decreasing our overall appetite and penchant for overeating. With increased dietary fiber and reduced carbs, we also reduce digestive stress.

healthy diets

There are some drawbacks. The first 7-10 days of a reduction in carbs can lead to significant drops in energy as your body adjusts to finding other fuel sources—such as fat and amino acids. While this metabolic flexibility is beneficial in the long run, it can have a rocky beginning. Your body needs time to produce enzymes and other chemicals required to switch to fat as your primary fuel source. This can be headed off with a slower immersion into low carb, high fat eating, but if you’re jumping all in, be aware of possible headaches, fatigue, sleeping issues, brain fog, and even bad breath. Carbs also contain water, so reducing them can lead to intense thirst or dehydration while you balance out.

Ketogenic diet

As we said, ketogenic diets are low carb diets, but not all low carb diets are ketogenic. The purpose of a ketogenic diet is to put you in a state of ketosis—where your body burns ketones rather than glucose for energy. This is a function of metabolic flexibility, or your body using different fuels rather than being fixated on glucose, the fuel of carbs and sugars. Ketosis teaches your body to burn fat stores—where the ketones come from—and better regulates blood sugar. Among the benefits of ketogenic diets are weight loss, better mental focus, reduced appetite, increased energy, higher HDL cholesterol—the good cholesterol—lower blood pressure, and fighting type 2 diabetes.

Ketosis, like the others, isn’t without its risks. Like the paleo diet, it can be difficult to stick to. There’s also something called “keto-flu,” which are symptoms such as fatigue, headache, and dehydration, much like the low carb, high fat diet. This comes from dropping water weight quickly and losing the water in carbs. It can be mitigated by keeping hydrated and taking electrolyte tablets. Ketogenic dieters should also be aware that high fat doesn’t mean high unhealthy fats.

healthy diets

The diet for you

If any of these approaches to eating sound like a good fit for you, don’t be afraid to try them. Keep in mind, however, some diets you like might not like you. Someone who finds a plant-based wholefood diet appealing could learn they’re sensitive to plant lectins, which can actually make them feel sick and negatively impact their health. It’s not that the foods are unhealthy. It’s that the foods aren’t compatible with that person’s genetics or gut microbiome.

You have to pay attention to how these diets impact your energy, overall feeling, and your body weight. It can quickly become clear which foods you tolerate well, and which you do not. By being mindful—and keeping a food journal helps with this—you can determine the best diet for you as one of the above mentioned, or even a hybrid approach. In the end, you should strive for the broadest diet you can eat, which can lead you to the healthiest possible you.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.

 

Check out parts 1, 2, and 3 of the “What Is The Best Diet For Me?” blog series. Check back regularly for new installments, and don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter!


In our last two posts in the Best Diet for You series, we discussed genetics and individual gut microbiomes, two things that are very much tied to our overall health. But not everyone can afford a deep dive look into their specific genetics and the state of their microbiome. Fear not. There are still things you can learn and practice which go a long way toward finding your optimal health.

Fundamentals of a healthy diet

A lot of us already know this. For years, we’ve been hearing about the detrimental effects of refined carbs, unhealthy fast foods, and high fructose corn syrup and other added sugars. But let’s consider it within our framework of food as instructions to our body for processing. We know for sure that you should eliminate:
• All fake foods
• Highly processed foods
• Processed carbohydrates
• Refined sugars
• Industrialized oils

These foods are missing essential instructions to our bodies for proper processing. Either that, or they’re bogged down with too many instructions—components our bodies simply can’t break down. Let’s take a look at two of them for some specifics.

coconut healthy diet fundamentals

An oily dilemma
Industrialized oils are in so many of our foods, we don’t notice anymore. Some say average Americans who eat what they eat without giving it too much thought get 60% of their calories from these oils and don’t even know it. These oils—vegetable, corn, safflower, canola, and soybean—are the brainchildren of food chemists and do not occur naturally in our environment. They have to be processed to be created.

To do this, legumes (not even vegetables!) are exposed to high heat and the oils are extracted with chemicals like acetone. Yes, the same solvent people use to remove nail polish. For a long time, we thought saturated fat was the enemy, and these oils are poly-unsaturated fats, so in many minds, this was a good thing. But chemically speaking, poly-unsaturated fats are unstable, and by virtue of what they are, they become heavily oxidized in the high heat and acetone exposure. They are then put in plastic bottles, where phthalates leech into them. After that, they’re exposed to more high heat, light, and different elements during transportation, and then placed on a grocery store shelf, where they deteriorate further because their sell-by date is long.

sunrise yoga healthy diet fundamentals

Then we again expose them to high heat by cooking with them, and by the time they’ve entered our bodies, they’ve become trans fats, which are no longer supposed to be in our foods. In our systems, with their incomplete and overloaded instructions to our bodies, they become mega trans-fats. They’re wrecking balls, creating inflammation, contributing to weight gain, chronic fatigue, and setting us up for future diseases.

But wait, cooking without oil? Who does that? There are some oils that, when used in moderation, do not turn into atom bombs in our systems. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and even good, old-fashioned butter (and we do mean old-fashioned; the cows supplying the milk should be pasture-raised, or at the very least, grass-fed) are all oils our bodies handle much better.

Sugar: what a rush!

Anyone born in the 80s or before grew up with Snicker’s old slogan: Snickers Satisfies. Of course it does—its caramel, nougat, peanut, and chocolate make-up is almost pure sugar, and that satisfaction we get from eating a Snicker’s bar is a sugar rush of epic proportions. Sugar fuels brain cells, which interpret that fuel as a reward. Eating more feels good, so our brain signals us that we’re happy, sated, and ready to tackle our afternoon. This rewards the sweet craving, and thus, we begin a cycle that’s difficult to break.

healthy diet fundamentals

The science behind a sugar rush is that simple sugars and carbs are immediately turned into glucose, which our bodies burn through quickly, giving what feels like a burst of energy. Simple sugars and carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy, but they’re paired with protein and fiber, which slow down the process, tempering the “sugar rush” and thus, the rewarding feeling. This is why it’s not as much fun to snack on carrot sticks as it is to pop some Hershey’s Kisses.

To use that quick energy, your body moves the glucose out of your bloodstream and into cells with the help of insulin, a hormone regulating blood sugar levels. This transfer can happen fast, leading to what we know as a sugar crash. It can leave you feeling shaky and weak, and in need of more sugar to maintain the rush.

Think that because that bagel or bag of chips isn’t sugary, it doesn’t count? Think again. The body breaks these complex carbs into simple sugars, setting us up for the same roller coaster as a candy bar. Some of the worst offenders are of the highly refined variety, like:

  • White bread
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Pasta

Artificially sweet, good or bad?

“Well, I put Stevia in my coffee, so I’m okay.” Actually, no you’re really not. If you were to slowly cut out sugars—reduce one sweet thing you eat a week, like declining dessert, or drinking one less sugary coffee—your taste buds will adapt. Partaking in something sweet after a break from it, chances are good, it’ll be too sweet. If you’ve ever switched between full-calorie soda to a diet variety, you’ll have experienced this. Your taste buds become accustomed to what they usually taste.

healthy diet fundamentals

By partaking in artificial sweeteners, you’re still getting all the sweet with none of the brain-cell-fueling sugar. The brain is fooled, expecting the sugar and when it doesn’t happen, the craving for sweets kicks up a notch. The brain sends signals to the body. “Something’s wrong. I’m not getting the reward I expected, so I need more sweet.” And a craving too intense to ignore is born. It’s not a matter of will power. It’s a matter of body chemistry.

According to the American Heart Association, most average Americans eat 19 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Recommended amounts? 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women, and no more than 9 (150 calories) for men. Check labels. If too much of the calories come from sugar, don’t eat what’s in the package.

healthy diet fundamentals

So what can I eat?

That is the question. A diet of whole foods like fresh vegetables, fruits and nuts, whole grains, protein, moderate amounts of complex carbohydrates, and healthy oils is a far better blueprint for your body’s food processors to follow. If we’re honest with ourselves, there’s a lot of variety in that list. With a little mindfulness to how these foods make you feel—and food journaling is a great way to nail that down—cutting out unhealthy foods isn’t as hard as it sounds. Once your body processes good, whole foods and you consistently feel the optimization of your overall health, the idea of eating refined and processed foods will have your taste buds saying, “No thank you.” There is honestly no junk food that tastes as good as healthy feels.


Check out our free 9-Week Nutrition Program based on Dr. Vickery’s book, Authentic Health.