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Today's Nutrition Tip: You don't have to eat perfectly healthy to see the benefits. If an overhaul to your diet sounds like too much, pick one thing that you can improve and focus on that. For suggestions on where to start, check out this blog post.

Happy Monday, <<First Name>>.

I've been thinking a lot about what I'm eating recently as I work to get myself back on track after the holidays. During times like this, my husband gets worried that I will be too extreme in my approach and stress myself with trying to eat "perfectly". You see, I'm not a great moderator and so I do regular "cleanses" in which I strictly forbid myself to eat certain foods for a predefined period of time. For years this approach has worked really well for me and I'm sure I will continue to employ this strategy in the future. But this year, I feel a bit different about it all.

This year I am trying to figure out what about my nutrition isn't serving me well physically, mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually. For example, I delight in a gorgeous malbec with a grass-fed ribeye and savor a dry rosé from Provence while sitting on a sunny patio. At the same time, I know that my liver isn't fantastic at detoxifying. Certainly I know what to do in order to give my liver an extra boost, but I've started to wonder if my enjoyment of wine is worth the impact to me and whether or not I can do "enough" to offset the impact.

To be honest, I don't know the answer! Because you know that I l-o-v-e food and all things that improve the enjoyment of it (like a beautiful glass of vino!). And you also know that I want to use food to fully feed my body (and mind and soul). That's why I've decided to not drink any alcohol until the end of March (at least).

In this way, I'm not saying I can never have any alcohol ever again. At the same time, I'm giving myself space to figure out if drinking wine is working for me... in this moment of my life, with my body the way it is right now.

Because of this choice and the longer term goal that I have, I'm also not being quite as strict with myself on other fronts. I'm staying gluten- and dairy-free since I know those trigger my autoimmunity (and I definitely want a happy immune system during cold and flu season!). However, I did buy some organic potato chips and dark chocolate at the store this weekend... and I am loving them!

So, in honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, what are you doing to keep moving forward on your health journey? As he says, you don't have to be in full flight, as even the smallest change can be impactful. For me right now, my moving forward is about removing alcohol completely from my diet for a while.

What I've been watching: The hunt for "unexpected genetic heroes"

As I said in my "4 Links of the Personalized Food Chain" (the document you received when you signed up for this newsletter), your genetics are not your destiny. Even if you have a genetic susceptibility to certain diseases, that gene must get turned on in order for you to get the disease.

Stephen Friend's TED talk is about researching genetics to help people avoid disease. You see, there are people who have a particular gene that is linked to a particular disease, but they never get sick. For example, some people with high blood lipid levels never get heart disease, while other people do. So how can we learn from those who are susceptible, but don't get sick, in order to keep others from getting sick as well?

Friend suggests that understanding what causes these genes to get turned on (and, therefore, manifest disease) is the key to chronic disease prevention and treatment.

We have a long way to go to fully correlate genetic and epigenetic data, lifestyle and environmental factors, and disease manifestation. At the same time, research like the Resilience Project is exciting to me because I believe we hold the power to live beautiful and brilliant lives without being held hostage by our DNA, in many instances.

What I've been reading: Medical Medium

Anthony William is not a doctor. Rather, he's a healer who says that the Spirit of God speaks directly to him to identify what is wrong in a person's body and how to heal it. He wrote Medical Medium because he believes conventional medicine is failing to make us better and he wants to share the information that Spirit (William's word) has passed on to him.

As someone who believes in something greater than myself, I believe that what he describes about himself and his interaction with Spirit is plausible. I also agree with him that conventional medicine isn't working to reduce chronic disease and that women, especially, seem to be suffering more than ever as a result. Plus, I found out about this book first from a friend and then from two healthcare practitioners that I respect who were patient's of William and say that William helped them finally heal.

Despite those great referrals, it is tough for me to accept everything in the book because it goes against what we know from science today. (William says that research won't catch up with the truths he presents for another two or three decades.) And he doesn't define exactly what people should do to heal from the 21+ diseases presented. (I'm not sure how useful the information is to people if they can't figure out exactly what to do.)

This book isn't for everybody. And if you have been struggling with a chronic or mystery illness (such as ADD, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease) and you're looking for a resource that confirms, "It's not all in your head and here are some possible root causes", this is a book worth reading. If nothing else, it will give you hope that you don't have to keep feeling less than 100%; you just have to have to keep moving forward to figure out what's really going wrong and how to fix it.
 

In case you missed and are interested in reading (actually, watching) them, these were the new posts to the blog:

  • Video: Your Body is a Phenomenal System (and You Deserve to Feel Great!)... To help you understand that you can change your own health, I recorded this video as a brief (and, therefore, grossly incomplete) description of the body as a system and how 5 main imbalances in one or more sub-systems can manifest throughout the body.
  • Video: In the Most Accurate Research n=1... Science can tell us a lot about how the body works generally. What is can't do is tell us how *your* body is working because it can't account for everything about you. In this video, I explain why science is useful, but not the be-all-end-all when it comes to nutrition (including the widely accepted notion that lowering sodium lowers blood pressure). And why the most accurate research to determine the best way of eating for you includes ONLY YOU.

I hope these videos inspire you to keep moving forward on your health journey, even if it's at a snail's pace. You deserve to have 2016 be your best year yet and to feel amazing most (if not all!) of the time.

Let me know how you're crawling, walking, running or flying toward better health this year, so I can cheer you on.

Still inching toward optimal health,


Stephanie Dunne, MS, RD, CDN
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