The Rainbow Diet

The Rainbow Diet

The Rainbow Diet is something I talk about all the time and it’s the only “diet” I ever recommend. Most traditional diets don’t work, aren’t actually based on science, and generally make people feel deprived and down-right bad about themselves.

When someone comes to see me at my clinic, they’re often not feeling their best. Telling them to stop eating a bunch of different things, limit this or that, or begin exercising vigorously is not always that helpful. People know they need to “eat better” or “start exercising”, but they don’t feel great, and they don’t know where to start.

The Rainbow Diet is the perfect place to start. Just start trying to eat every color of fruit or vegetable every day. It’s way more fun to eat “colors” than to “eat more fruits and vegetables”. Right? And, it’s super fun to shop this way. When you hit the produce department, you add things to your cart based on color. Kids love this too!

Let’s break down each color and discuss the different foods and all the fabulous nutrients you get from each one:

Orange and Yellow:

Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables contain beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. They are thought to provide many benefits, including: anti-cancer, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, cell protection, heart health, immune health, skin health, brain health, reproductive health, and eye health.

Yellow Foods:
~Asian pears
~Bell pepper
~Ginger root
~Summer squash


Red fruits and vegetables contain beta carotene, vitamin C, manganese, and lycopene. They are thought to provide many benefits, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cell protection, gastrointestinal health, heart health, hormone health, and liver health.

Red Foods:
~Bell peppers
~Blood Oranges
~Red Potatoes


Green fruits and vegetables contain chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. They are thought to provide many health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, brain health, cell protection, skin health, hormone health, heart health, and liver and gallbladder health.

Green Foods:
~Bell peppers
~Bok choy
~Brussels sprouts
~Green beans
~Green peas
~Leafy Greens (arugula, beet, chard, collards, dandelions, kale, green lettuce, mustard, spinach, turnip, watercress)
~Snow Peas


Blue, purple, and black fruits and vegetables contain lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. They are thought to provide many health benefits, including anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, cell protection, brain health, heart health, and liver health.

Blue/Purple/Black Foods:
~Bell peppers
~Berries (blue, black, boys, Huckle, and marion)


White, tan, and brown foods contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K, folate, beta-glucans, lignans, and potassium. They are thought to provide many health benefits, including anti-cancer, anti-microbial, cell protection, gastrointestinal health, heart health, hormone health, liver health.

White/Tan/Brown Foods:

Plus! Almost all fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, which helps keep the gut lining healthy and helps you absorb and excrete cholesterol, lowering your overall cholesterol levels.

While we may go back and forth about the value of eating many different foods, a high plant-based diet never goes out of style. With so many possible benefits, it’s a no-brainer to try to get in as many colors as you can every day! And, you’ll feel full from all the fresh goodness and you’ll be less likely to be hungry for foods that might not make you feel as optimal.

If you try the rainbow diet and you don’t see results, there may be something else going on. I’d be happy to help you get to the root of your symptoms. Click here to learn more about working with me.

Happy Rainbowing!

Breast Health Basics

Breast Health Basics

While we can’t change what are called non-modifiable risk factors for breast health issues, we can change the modifiable ones. Non-modifiable risk factors are such things as family history, being born with breasts, and your age. Modifiable risk factors are the things we’re going to talk about today. And, this post is for everyone, as 1% of breast cancer occurs in males.

#1: Know Thy Own Breasts

Be familiar with what your “normal” is for your own breasts. Some women have more lumpy, bumpy breasts while others have smoother breast tissue. Knowing your own breasts when things are normal can be an important way to know when things are not normal.

There’s been some debate over the past several years about whether monthly breast self-exams make a difference in early breast cancer detection or not. My view on this and all things health is that we need to be empowered in our own bodies and our own health. I believe that knowing your normal breast tissue can help you be a proactive member of your own health team.

#2: Phluff the Girls

I love this movement! “Phluffing” is a self-breast care technique invented by a nurse, Cheryl Chapman. You can read her brochure here. Basically, phluffing is a gentle, easy movement given to the breasts twice daily. You bend over without your bra on and literally fluff the tissue.

“Breasts are the least touched part of a woman’s body. The body’s immune system circulates lymph fluid to destroy cancer cells, viruses, bacteria, microorganisms, toxins, and waste material. When this lymph fluid is restricted, as with a bra, the lymph cannot circulate freely in the breast. Daily Phluffing softens the breast and increases awareness of changes in the breast tissue.”- Cheryl Chapman

#3: Breast Massage

You can go one step further from phluffing to regular breast massage. For the same reasons as above, it can be helpful to move out the toxins and keep the lymph fluid moving. Here’s a lovely video from the Breast Health Project to show you how to massage your own breasts.

You can also add breast oil or balm to your massage. There are many wonderful ones on the market right now from local and national sources. They include herbs and oils to enhance the effects of your massage.

#4: Ditch the Bra

You had to know this was coming after reading everything so far. Take off your bra whenever possible and let your breasts hang loose. If you need a bra for extra support, wear the least-restrictive bra possible. Underwires and lots of padding restrict the lymph flow every further.

Your breasts are naturally inclined to hang lower over the years. It’s normal.

#5: Omit or Limit Alcohol

I hate to be the bearer of bad news and I am committed to being a bearer of truth. That wine you think is providing you all those antioxidants actually carries with it a risk of breast cancer. According to, women who drink 3 drinks per week are at a 15% greater chance of acquiring breast cancer than women who don’t drink alcohol. And, your risk goes up another 10% with every additional drink you consume each day.

I’m not sure about all the reasons why the truths of alcohol are basically hidden from society. I’m doing some major research about this currently, so there’s more to come on that. Just know that it seems like alcohol is like most things these days, profit is more important than people.

#6: Stop Smoking

While the risks of alcohol are not widely discussed, the risks of smoking are widely known and they’re true for breast health as well. Smoking can increase your risk of breast cancer and the studies seem to be pointing to the fact that smoking is a major cause of breast cancer in younger and premenopausal women.

#7: Eat Your Colors

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again. Eating a colorful “rainbow” diet will ensure you get plenty of foods full of antioxidants. Antioxidants help to remove free radicals (toxins) from your blood and cells. Eating a vibrantly colorful diet gives you a great chance to avoid health issues and keep your breasts healthy.

#8: Know the Emotions Behind Breast Issues

Because I treat the whole person, I always look to any emotional causes of physical issues. The great late Louise Hay spent her career as a counselor and spiritual advisor observing the underlying emotions behind physical symptoms. In her book (one of my personal favorites), “You Can Heal Your Life”, Louise Hay details a list of what she observed.

Here’s what she says about breasts:

Breasts: Represent mothering and nurturing and nourishment.
Breast cysts/lumps: A refusal to nourish the self. Putting everyone else first. Over mothering. Overprotection. Overbearing attitudes.

If you think about the people you’ve known in your life who have had breast cancer, are they the ones who take care of everyone else before they take care of themselves? I find this oddly true.

This means we all have to put ourselves first once in awhile. It’s part of our holistic wellness plan.

Now, to be clear. This is not an exhaustive list, nor do any of these suggestions guarantee you won’t be affected by breast concerns. We live in a toxic and stressful world and we’re still working to understand the causes of diseases.

At the same time, all of these suggestions COULD help, so why not try them.?

Your breasts are an important part of your overall well-being and they aren’t given much attention in our culture. See what happens if you give them even a few minutes of attention this week. I’d love to hear what you observe….

Please comment below with any thoughts or questions and share this post with your friends.

If I can help you with your breast health in any way, I’m currently accepting new patients in my Integrative Primary Care practice.

Let’s Talk About Palm Oil

Let’s Talk About Palm Oil

Did you know that palm oil is the main fat used in over 50% of the products you see in major stores today? It’s used in many processed foods, such as bread, pastries, cereal, peanut butter, chocolate and margarine. It’s also used in personal products like shampoo, cosmetics, cleaning products and even biodiesel fuel. What do you know about this popular fat?

I’ll admit, I knew almost nothing about it. That was until I started having a personal experience with it.

About 10 years ago, I started having issues with my gallbladder. The only option offered to me by my conventional primary care provider was to have my gallbladder removed. I didn’t have stones or other signs of gallbladder disease, I simply had a great deal of inflammation. I knew I could deal with that.

I ate a low fat diet for awhile (the gallbladder is directly involved in the digestion of fats), ate loads of green vegetables and dandelions, used bitters before meals, and took great care of myself overall. And, my symptoms reduced and after several months, I could go back to pretty normal eating.

That was until I started coming into contact with foods that contained palm oil. I noticed it first with a frozen pizza. It caused a full on gallbladder attack. I saw palm oil on the label and just avoided that brand.

Then, about a year ago, my husband went gluten-free for awhile. We bought some gluten-free packaged foods. I munched on a few and boom-another gallbladder attack. And….guess what…palm oil again. I started paying attention to labels and since I generally eat a “real food” diet anyway, it hasn’t been a big deal.

Until, last week. I bought a cake mix for a birthday. I used the mix for ease and made a homemade icing. It was a beautiful cake (if I do say so myself). When I ate it, I had another major gallbladder attack. And once again, a main ingredient was palm oil.

This got me curious. What is up with this oil? I knew it came from the fruit of palm trees. I knew they grind and press the fruit to get the oil. Natural, right?

Well, yes and no. As with all things I get curious about, I started investigating.

I found many articles about palm oil. I found out that after the oil is pressed, it undergoes a fractioning process where the liquid portion is removed by a crystalizing and filtering process. The solid part is then bleached to become the ingredient that is used in so many products here in the U.S.

I learned that palm oil is 50% saturated fat, one of the leading causes of elevated bad cholesterol, a leading cause of heart disease. The main type of saturated fat present in palm oil is palmitic acid. The studies aren’t conclusive yet, but it’s being speculated that palmitic acid is a cause of cardiovascular disease.

During my palm oil studying journey, I came across a film called, “Appetite for Destruction: The Palm Oil Diaries“. Fascinating! Documentary maker, Michael Dorgan does his own personal experiment with palm oil. He ate 3 muffins with palm oil every day for 6 weeks. Body fat analysis and blood tests were performed before and after. Besides the muffins, he ate his regular diet. After the 6 weeks, his total body fat increased from 4.6% to 7.4%. And, the fat accumulation was stored in his abdomen and particularly around his liver. So, the worst kind of fat to store, organ fat.

Now, obviously, a study of one does not quality as good research, yet don’t you think it’s interesting?

And, it started making sense why my gallbladder doesn’t like palm oil.

I would be completely remiss in any discuss of palm oil to not mention the environmental concerns. When the FDA finally got on board with the fact that trans fats are bad, palm oil became even more popular. Palm trees thrive near the equator, just like rainforests. What’s resulting is that forests are being destroyed in order to plant more palm trees to support our need to eat processed foods. Harsh rant and there’s more. Because the rain forests are being destroyed, there’s more carbon in the atmosphere and many species of animals are losing their homes, such as orangutans and certain elephants and rhinos.

The palm oil industry has become a billion dollar industry in the very recent past at the expense of indigenous humans, animals, and the environment, while likely causing those who consume it to progress into cardiovascular health issues.

In summary, eat real foods. Eat foods as close to how they are harvested as possible. Eat local foods. Avoid foods made in factories and you won’t even have to worry about this. I guess I’m lucky to have “my little buddy” aka my gallbladder. It’s there to signal me when I’m doing something sub-optimal for my health and in this case, sub-optimal for the well-being of our whole planet.

I’m still researching and learning about palm oil. If you have any resources or references, I’d love to hear about them. And, if you’re ready to move away from processed foods into more real foods, I’d love to be your guide. I’m currently taking new patients in my integrative primary care practice.

COVID-19 Health Update

COVID-19 Health Update

This week, I was able to attend a webinar hosted by the American Herbalists Guild called “Evolving Therapeutic Strategies in the Stages of COVID-19” with Registered Herbalist, Paul Bergner. Paul is known for his decades of herbal medical experience and his expertise as a researcher and his teaching through his school, the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism.

Paul has been gathering information regarding coronavirus since its appearance this winter, including his own experience with the virus. The webinar was to inform us of the research being conducted and effective treatments herbalists are using to reduce duration of symptoms and decrease the likelihood of death from contracting the virus. Thanks to Paul, I am able to share some of this information with you.

Paul introduced us to 5 stages of the virus presentation. Stages 2-4 were what you would expect: mild symptoms moving to more severe symptoms. Stage 1 surprised me and changed my thinking about this situation.

This is how he describes Stage 1:
“Stage 1: Uninfected but vulnerable or at-risk from nutritional status, disease status, lifestyle factors, and nutritional deficiencies.”

Unfortunately, this is most of the United States. This means that a very large percentage of us are already in Stage 1 of coronavirus because of our current health statuses, and we are all at risk for exposure because the numbers of positive tests continue to grow in most places.

Paul went on to describe the basics of preventing Stage 1 with the following prevention strategies:
~Adjusting lifestyle, sleep, and activity levels
~Managing or improving comobidities (chronic diseases that increase risk), such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and chronic breathing issues.
~Correcting deficiencies of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, zinc, and selenium
~Normalizing omega-3 fatty acid status

If you’ve been following my blog, this should all sound very familiar as I’ve been talking about all of these from the beginning, and this list of preventions are the main focuses of all my work as an Integrative Medicine Nurse Practitioner.

In New York, high blood pressure was the greatest comorbidity with diabetes and obesity coming in 2nd and 3rd. In the UK, chronic heart disease was the highest comorbidity with diabetes and chronic lung disease following close behind.

I’ve also heard the argument that this is an old person’s virus, but interestingly, 25% of the hospitalizations in New York were under 52 years old. With myself coming in at 47, this gives me pause.

Paul also gave us the recent data on the correlation between COVID-19 and Vitamin D status. In the integrative world, we have been following the data on Vitamin D for a long time. We have seen it’s effectiveness in the prevention of respiratory illness. It seems that Vitamin D might actually help the body recognize invaders like the coronavirus more effectively so that the immune system can put up a defensive front more quickly and efficiently.

There are currently 11 formal trials looking at COVID-19 and Vitamin D. While we’re not yet sure if Vitamin D is effective in the cure of COVID-19, we are becoming more sure that having an optimal Vitamin D level lessens the severity of the symptoms related to COVID-19. It seems really strange to me that the powers that be are not promoting this simple and cost-effective prevention strategy.

The webinar went on to describe herbal and nutritional treatment strategies for treating COVID-19 symptoms. I’m very grateful for all this information and I’m stocking my apothecary with further remedies should the need arise for my patients.

The takeaway from all of this is that we need to be thinking of our current health status as an actual stage of coronavirus. If you are at risk because of nutritional deficiencies, comorbidities, or the lifestyle factors you’re currently choosing, now is the time to act!

Comorbidities such as high blood pressure and diabetes often go unnoticed until the symptoms because obvious.
When is the last time you had blood work done?
Do you know your Vitamin D status?
Are you continuing with lifestyle choices that are reducing your chance of fighting this virus should you become infected?

I highly recommend seeing an integrative/holistic/functional medicine practitioner near you. In our work, we look at the whole person (all the risk factors for coronavirus) and help you create a sustainable plan for optimal function of your systems, including your immune system. If you are in Portland, I can help.

It’s not too late to begin moving yourself out of Stage 1. You could still contract the virus and get symptoms, but the data is showing that those who don’t start out in any stage at all are having the greatest chance of less severe symptoms and reduced chance of dying from this novel virus.

To request a new patient appointment with me here at FLOURISH, please submit this form. If you don’t live near me, please reach out to someone in your area soon. And, of course, share this post with friends who need this information too!

I Can’t Go On Like This….

I Can’t Go On Like This….

I don’t know about you, but I’m still kind of in shock about everything that’s happened over the last two months. I’m sharing this vulnerable post with you in case you’ve been in a similar boat as I’ve been in. ?

It was actually kind of fun at first to know I had to stay home and I could eat and drink whatever I wanted. I honestly thought we were looking at a couple of weeks or a month at most. Here we are passing the 2 month point and obviously things are going to be very different going forward.

Over the past two weeks, that reality has started to set in for me, and I’m having to think about things differently:
What will I snack on if I don’t want to gobble down an entire bowl of popcorn anymore?
How will I create sustainable exercise when my gym is closed and I’m not sure I’ll even want to go when it opens again, since I’ll probably have to wear a mask while exercising and the sauna will likely be closed for a long time?
How do I keep myself busy and not feel lonely while we’re still supposed to continue to shelter-in-place in my county without binging on tv on the couch or drowning in social media (I’m SO sick of social media right now, aren’t you? Bleh!)?

Mostly, though, how will I deal with all of the emotions of all of this without my numbing out go-tos, like carbs, tv, and social media.

In case it helps, here’s what I’m choosing to do:

~I’ve totally cut out alcohol. I didn’t drink for 1.5 years because of the way it made me feel. I tried experimenting with it again for about 6 months. It’s alienating not to be part of alcohol culture, and yet, it’s just not for me. I don’t enjoy the weight gain, inflammation, headaches, and grumpiness I get from even a small amount. My energy and truly, my life overall, is SO much happier and vibrant without it.

~I’m eliminating foods that I know bother me and cause inflammation (if you’re not sure what I’m talking about with inflammation, check out this blog). For me this includes sugar, grains, beans, and dairy. I don’t eat a lot of these normally anyway, so it’s not too hard, but does require more planning and well, I’ve the time right now. I’ll go back to eating all of these in small amounts in about a month, but stopping them for 30 days or so will allow my gut to heal from overeating them all.

~Instead of going straight to coffee in the morning, I start the day with some warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar. Wow! What a jolt you get from this. If you only do one thing from this list, try this and see what happens, and tell me what you think. (The coffee comes after…I’m never giving that up!)

~I’m not checking social media or email for at least an hour after I get up. I started doing morning quiet time many years ago, but recently, I’ve let myself check things on the internet when I wake up. When I do that, I immediately get into everyone else’s stuff before I even have time to get into my own. When I make time to meditate, do some deep breathing, journal, read, or something else inspiring first thing in the day, I’m better able to handle all the madness that is our reality right now.

~I let myself rest when needed. This is stressful. Whether we are experiencing extreme difficulties from this virus or not, we are all feeling extra stress. Instead of jacking up on afternoon coffee to keep going or feeling like I have to work all the time to have some control, I’m saying ‘screw it’ and I’m sitting out in the lawn chair on a nice day or just lying down on the couch and doing nothing whenever I feel like the need. And truly, I’m getting better work done rather than busy work.

~I’m being extra nice and compassionate to myself. I’m not judging myself for any of the choices I made up until recently. I coped with everything and I survived. And, I can’t sustain that lifestyle forever and get to feel the way I want to feel, so it’s onward and upward with no looking back. I’m not perfect and I know I’ll continue to numb out sometimes, so instead of beating myself up when I do, I forgive myself and get back to it.

~I’ve held off on heavy exercise while I made these changes. Change can be hard and healing is exhausting. It takes a lot of energy for your body to re-regulate after overindulgence, so I’ll worry about that part later.

I know that list might feel overwhelming to some of you. For me, I do most of these things anyway in my normal life, but when things get stressful, I forget. I go the easy way. I want to numb out rather than deal with the emotions that come up.

It’s really normal to want to push away the things that make us uncomfortable. It can feel so much easier to pour that glass of wine and keep going than let ourselves break down a little. I’d often rather eat that popcorn and butter (God, I love butter!), then cut up some veggies or fruit or satisfy my fat craving with avocado.

So, what do you want your new normal to look like? Maybe write down what your new ideal schedule and energy will look and feel like. Then, start with 1-2 things that will help you get there. Drink some lemon water in the morning, choose a food that makes you feel great over one that makes you feel like crap. Read an inspiring health book (I have a long list if you need a suggestion), reach out for help in all the amazing groups out there, find an integrative/holistic provider to see, seek counseling if you’re really stuck, take a nap, go to bed early, say no to a drink when that’s what you really want to say, call a friend when you feel sad or lonely, take a stroll instead of a power walk,.. you get the idea.

If I can help in any way, please let me know.

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