Sage Health Living Blog

Dr. Stefanie Haris
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February is American Heart Health Month    Heart health is something to consider at any age and during any month. The heart is responsible for continuously pumping blood filled with vital compounds and molecules like hormones, various cells, oxygen and other nutrients around the body. This circulation allows for all the organs and parts of the body to perform the actions need to function.    Heart function is very complex; It has its own electrical system, specialized muscles, and valves which control the rate of blood flow. With such an important role in the body and the complexities of being such an intricate wonder of the world (IMO), finding ways to keep your heart healthy is key to overall wellness. Here are 28 ideas ( February, get it?) to help keep your heart healthy based in research.Quit Smoking- The most controllable factor one can do to reduce heart disease risks is to stop smoking, and avoid tobaccos completely. This will help to improve blood vessels and overall health. Find support to quit now!Know your numbers- blood lipid numbers, blood sugar numbers, blood pressure- learn the optimal range for your sex and age, and knowing these vital numbers from yearly physicals can help you identify earlier when and where you need to make changes in your life by working with your doctor.Inform your Doctor- Have a heart-to-heart with your doctor about your genetic risk associated heart disease.  If a close relative (mother, father, sister or brother) had a heart attack or stroke or died of cardiovascular disease (CVD) especially at a young age then the health of your heart may be at greater risk as well. This is another reason to have yearly (or more) check ups. Get On Up- Long periods of sitting, be it a WFH Zoom marathon or a Netflix binge-a-thon can  shorten your lifespan. Research shows being sedentary can have unhealthy effects on blood sugars and blood fats, both contribute to increased heart disease risk. A growing amount of research suggests that just standing -- even if you don't walk around -- can have health benefits. To get the right balance, sit 20 minutes out of every hour at work, standing for eight minutes and moving around for at least two minutes.Start Moving- Its no surprise that physical activity is needed for maintaining a healthy heart. Starting with 15-20 minutes of walking a day can have a huge impact. Making movement enjoyable is key for consistency. Find something that is right for your body. Even things like household chores count towards movement. Increasing movement by simply parking father away, or taking the stairs adds to increasing heart healthy physical activity. Eat Breakfast- The first meal of the day is an important one. Eating a nutritious breakfast every day can help you maintain a healthy diet and weight. To build a heart-healthy meal, reach for:whole grains, lean protein sources, and fruits and vegetables.Eat the Rainbow- Speaking of fruits and vegetables; the beautiful colors you see in fruits and vegetables are from antioxidants and phytonutrients. Each color is made from various chemical compounds that contribute to lower risk of heart issues and overall optimal body function.  If you shoot for 1-2 servings of different color veg every day (the darker the better), by the end of the week you will be close to 30 phytonutrient packed colorful servings!Reduce Stress- Chronic Stress is not good for our health, but research shows the mental/ emotional stress influences blood pressure and may be associated with an increase of unhealthy heart habits (smoking, overindulging, and lack of physical activity) which can lead to increased risk of cardiovascular events. Find ways to address the stressors in your life and get support if needed.Dance It Out- Put on your favorite song, turn it up, and get down! Dancing makes for a great heart-healthy workout. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it raises your heart rate and gets your lungs pumping. This can also help to improve your mood, de-stress and spend silly time with your loved one. A heart-health, family-fun activity to do with the kiddos!Simplify Life- Simplifying your life can go a long way to reduce stress, which can help to reduce cardiovascular risk. That could mean cleaning up or organizing your space, it could mean meal planning on the weekends, it could be up dating the family calendar, or managing your emails. Anything you can do to make your day-to-day easier can impact your wellbeing.Date Night- In a hectic, busy world its important to carve out time to spend with your loved one, friends and or yourself (heck yeah, solo date nights are a thing). Finding a work-life balance means making time to unwind, have fun and elevate your mood. Between the Sheets- A date night might lead to sex, which is another great way to improve heart health. It can elevate your heart rate, lower blood pressure and reduce stress. Studies show that having regular sexual activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular events.Time in the Sheets- Sleep, the other important thing you do in bed, plays a role in heart health. Studies show short sleep duration or poor sleep quality, are associated with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and atherosclerosis. Chronic short sleep increases the chance of cardiovascular events. Review Food Labels- To make heart healthy food choices, review food labels; look for low amounts saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and salt. Look for food with higher amounts of dietary fibers, mono/polyunsaturated fats, and vitamins (C, E,A,D)/minerals (Iron, Calcium). Eat like you're visiting the Mediterranean- This means loading up on whole grains, fruits and vegetables, plant based proteins (beans, legumes, nuts), lots of fiber and unsaturated fats from olives, avocados and seeds. The Mediterranean diet plan also incudes moderate amounts of alcohol, specifically red wine, that can be protective of the heart and raise HDL to healthy levels.Stretch it Out- Stretching feels great! In the form a yoga it has been shown to improve cardiovascular disease risk, by reducing stress, adding movement and blood flow, reduce blood pressure.Brew it Up- The polyphenols and antioxidants in green tea and coffee has benefits for heart health. A recent study shows that drinking green tea and coffee lowers risk of death in people that had a cardiovascular event.Fill up on Fiber- Dietary fiber comes in so many foods- fruits, vegetables and whole-grains, nuts/seeds. Both soluble and insoluble fiber provides the body with all kinds of nutrients that reduces heart disease risk, lowers LDL and total cholesterol, raises HDL, improves elimination and supports the liver, balances hormones and aids to improve overall metabolic factors that influence CVD risk.Go Fishing- Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can also help ward off heart disease. Many fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, and herring, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The American Heart Association (AHA) suggests to eat fish at least twice a week. There are non-fish sources of omega 3s found in chia, hemp, flax seeds and algae.Find a new Hobby- Something to help calm down and reduce stress and most importantly have fun; try knitting, wood-working, painting or sculpting, writing books or songs, cooking or puzzles.Take Care of your Teeth- Make sure to visit your dentist and keep up with oral hygiene, with brushing and flossing! Research has linked gum disease and heart disease. Harmful bacteria from the mouth can cause systemic inflammation leading to damaged and elevated heart disease risk. LOL- Laugh out loud in your daily life. Whether you like watching funny movies or cracking jokes with your friends, laughter may be good for your heart. Research suggests laughing can lower stress hormones, decrease inflammation in your arteries, and raise your levels of high-density lipoprotein (HLD), also known as “good cholesterol.” Laughing Yoga  might be  something to try!Add Soy- Products like tofu and tempeh or foods like edamame are full of soy isoflavones which are associated with lowing LDL cholesterol, controlling blood sugar and and may reduce inflammation.Stay Connected- Socializing can help lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, and social support can help you recover from heart health issues. Finding ways to connect with family, friends or even just meeting people will like interests is important to feeling connected and improve your health. Get Outside- Being outside is definitely an underrated step to supporting out bodies and especially our heart. Fresh air, trees providing oxygen and sunshine on our skin can provide Vitamin D, where insufficient Vitamin D levels are linked with CVD and type 2 diabetes.Have Some Dark Chocolate- Again with those delicious and nutritious flavonoids and  antioxidants to help reduce inflammation and provide heart healthy. Chocolate with higher content of cacao 60% or more have more of the good stuff!Get Spiritual- In whatever form that fits for you...prayer, meditation, gratitude, etc. Spirituality  (either demonstrative or simple and private) has been shown to relieve stress and improve mental and physical health. Research links spiritual practice with lowering blood pressure, improving sleep, and even strengthen your immune system!Own a Pet- Our pets offer more than good company and unconditional love. They also provide numerous health benefits. Studies suggest that owning a pet may lower your chances of dying from heart disease.There are so many simple and fun ways to improve your heart health and reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. Celebrate Heart Health this month - and every month - by taking some time for yourself.

Dr. Stefanie Haris
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It's Apple Season!Apples are such a delicious and versatile fruit full of antioxidants, a good source of Vitamin C and potassium, and soluble fiber. They are easy to eat on the go, can be paired with other foods as part of a healthy snack or meal. There are so many varieties of apples, each with their own unique flavor and texture, it would be easy for everyone to have a favorite! They also seem to grow most climates, so many people can try local varieties. Apple picking is a fall fun family tradition.A medium apple  -6.4 ounces or 182 grams - offers the following nutrients : Calories: 95Carbs: 25 gramsFiber: 4 gramsVitamin C: 14% of the RDIPotassium: 6% of the RDIVitamin K: 5% of the RDI2–4% of the Recommended Daily Intake: manganese, copper, and the vitamins A, E, B1, B2, and B6.

Apples are also a rich source of flavonoids which benefit the whole body studies show they effect the heart, brain, lungs, gut and may be protective against cancers. The antioxidants, polyphenols and fiber that make apples so nourishing for the gut microbiome are found mainly in their skin, so make sure to eat the whole organic apple;) The Environmental Working Group has consistently found that apples are commonly sprayed with pesticides, more so than other fresh fruit and vegetables. 

 Quercetin, a nutrient that also occurs in many plant foods. Studies show quercetin may have anti-inflammatory, antihistamine, antiviral, anticancer, and antidepressant effects. Catechin, a natural antioxidant, catechin is also present in large amounts in green tea and research has shown to improve brain and muscle function.Chlorogenic acid, also found in coffee, chlorogenic acid has been found to lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes.Pectin, a fiber found in apple skins, has been shown to promote the presence of anti-inflammatory beneficial bacterial species in the Firmicutes family, which are known for their health-supporting functions.Procyanidins, a class of antioxidant flavonoids, from apples can prevent obesity in mice by improving the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the microbiome.Eating apples affect your gut microbiome by proving prebiotic fiber, polyphenols and antioxidants to nourish the beneficial bacteria. A recent article look at at the microbiome of organic verse conventional grown apples and found that consuming the whole organic apple includes an approximate uptake of "100 million bacterial", which sounds gross, but in reality that's what helps our own microbiome to become healthy and diverse.  

Some simple and yummy ways to eat an Apple a day:Apple and yogurt, topped with flax, pumpkin and chia seedsRoasted apples topped with granola and honeyChopped apples with roasted beets and goat cheese and walnuts on a bed of mixed greensApples dipped in chocolate hummusApple and Butternut squash soup 

Dr. Stefanie Haris
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Self-Care for your Health 

Self-care isn't about being selfish. Self-care is needed for optimal health and wellness, by all. With all that is going on in the world, and in your life, taking moments for yourself each day, or a full day, or whatever time you have is key to improving your health. Providing yourself with love, focus and most importantly (and maybe the hardest) time, can have significant personal, social and even economic benefits. 

However, for some the idea of self-care conjures up the image of an expensive "spa day" with head-to-toe pampering or "Instagram worthy" meals, fancy detox programs, or other products pushed by the "self-care/wellness" industry. While these examples certainly qualify, they might be out of reach for a multitude of reasons. I'm talking about the kind of self-care that is really focusing on your health, and putting you as a priority. 

Self-care can be as simple as a 5 minute a day routine of breathing, journaling, meditation, or prayer. It can be keeping your phone or tablet out of reach during meal time or while in bed. It can be taking a walk outside or an on-demand yoga class, while the laundry is going. Making that doctor's appoint that you have been putting off or finding a new medical professional that will take the time to listen to you. Self-care can be being gentle with yourself for needing more support or help. It can also be as simple as doing what you enjoy and allowing yourself to enjoy it- a comfort meal, watching your favorite show, reading that book you love again. Sometimes its saying "no" instead of yes to some things you might not want to do. Conversely,  it can be saying "yes" to some new things that get you out of your box.

Take the self-care check-up and find where you can practice simple, daily self-care:

Nutrients- Increase variety in meals, less guilt around comfort foods, trying something new and exciting, focus on eating vs. working through lunch, Movement- Increase daily movement, find an activity that brings you joy, walk or hike a new area, engage in a social outing with some new movement (ax throwing, golf, pick up games etc.)Sleep- Rest and sleep are vital to health and happiness. Find ways to improve sleep hygiene, take a nap, reset your bedtime/wake timeLaugh is Medicine- Make it a point to watch a comedy, read comics, find a funny video, or call or visit that one person that makes you laugh more than anyone elseSocial Expansion- Find a new hobby, join a club or meet-up, cooking classes, partner yogaSoul Journey- Reconnecting with your spiritual side, meditation, prayer, going to a place of worship (old or new)Practice Mindfulness- Being more present in the moment, reduce the thoughts of the past and the "what-ifs" of the future.

The most important thing is finding something that will help you de-stress and come back to your everyday life and responsibilities a little more refreshed, energized, or with a different mindset. Self-care is listening to what your body, mind and soul need in the moment, and more broadly as well. Stress reduction, even momentarily, can help build resilience and improve all bodily functions. Given the current state of the world, we could all use as much love and support as possible, especially from ourselves. The kindness we give to ourselves, the more kindness there is in the world.

Dr. Stefanie Haris
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September is PCOS Awareness Month

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) is the most common cause of infertility in women. The condition is determined by genetics, reproductive hormonal imbalances and environmental factors. 1 in 10 women have PCOS, making it one of the more common women’s health conditions.

Common Symptoms used in diagnosing PCOS:

·       Irregular periods - a big contributor to infertility (missed periods, not ovulating, very heavy bleeding, excessive pain)

·       Polycystic ovaries (enlarged ovaries or many follicles)

·       Excessive androgen hormone levels (excessive facial/body hair, acne, baldness)

Other symptoms often seen in people with PCOS are:

·       Difficulty managing weight (disordered eating may be involved) *

·       Fatigue (low energy, poor sleep)

·       Mood Changes (anxiety, depression)

·       Pain (pelvic, ovarian, menstruation, headaches)

·       Skin changes (darkening patches, acne)

·       Unwanted or excessive hair growth (facial/body)

·       Hair (baldness, thinning)

  There are four types of PCOS. People can have one or multiple factors that contribute to their main type of PCOS.

·       Insulin Resistance (IR) PCOS* (majority of cases)

·       Adrenal PCOS (stress triggered)

·       Inflammatory PCOS (chronic inflammation)

·       Post-Birth Control pill PCOS

*The vicious cycle of IR is a cause for PCOS and the weight gain around the middle section of the body, inability to lose weight, and carbohydrate cravings. Higher body weight is a symptom- not a cause for PCOS. IR contributes to abnormal levels of hunger hormones, which lead to inability to listen to the body innate hunger cues and satiety cues. Weight loss is often given as a “treatment” for PCOS- however, research shows that maintaining your body’s natural set point weight, (which differs for each person) is healthier than weight cycling.

The first line of defense against all forms are PCOS are through dietary and lifestyle adjustments. Working with a Functional Nutritionist is a great way to assess and address the contributors to your PCOS. Everyone with PCOS will have individual aspects that can be addressed to improve symptoms. Functional medicine looks to support the individual needs and underlying causes of dysfunction.

 A Functional Nutritionist can guide you in adjusting diet and lifestyle based on the type(s) of PCOS one has and support the biological systems like the Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Adrenal axis for optimal health and wellness for that individual.

Ways to improve life with PCOS:

·       Dietary changes based on your food intake influences hormonal balance, insulin resistance, gut, thyroid, and immune health. Work to increase healthful food choices, understand how specific foods affect your body and improve your relationship with food in general.

·       Supplemental / Herbal therapies as a natural approach to support optimal functions and balance in the H-P-A axis, to improve your symptoms and your health based on your health history and present symptoms.

·       Lifestyle adjustments to reduce and cope with stress, such as work to heal from past traumas, which are stored in the body.

·       Find joyful movement that makes you feel good. Anything (walking, swimming, kickboxing, yoga, resistance training, gardening, dancing, etc.) that you want to do, as often as you can, based on what feels good for your body.

·       Improve sleep, so your body can operate at is best during the day.

Conventional medications are available for people whose symptoms resist diet and lifestyle changes. There are also many advanced reproductive technologies that make it very possible for people with PCOS get pregnant.

PCOS is a chronic condition with multiple contributing factors, including genetics and environment. It can be helpful to find PCOS social supports, through social media, podcasts, and books to work through the many emotions surrounding PCOS diagnosis, symptoms, and treatments. Ultimately, making an individualized plan to adjust and support your body to manage PCOS symptoms and underlying causes can allow you to live your best life. Research suggests that there might be an evolutionary advantage to PCOS, that we as a species are still perfecting.


Azziz, R., Dumesic, D. A., & Goodarzi, M. O. (2011). Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: An Ancient Disorder? Fertility and Sterility, 95(5), 1544–1548.

Bernadett, M., & Szemán-N, A. (2016). Prevalence of eating disorders among women with polycystic ovary syndrome. Psychiatria Hungarica: A Magyar Pszichiatriai Tarsasag Tudomanyos Folyoirata, 31(2), 136–145.

Dapas, M., Sisk, R., Legro, R. S., Urbanek, M., Dunaif, A., & Hayes, M. G. (2018). Family-based quantitative trait meta-analysis implicates rare noncoding variants in DENND1A in pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (p. 460972).

Wang, Fan, Zheng-Hong Zhang, Kai-Zhuan Xiao, and Zheng-Chao Wang. “Roles of Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis and Hypothalamus-Pituitary-Ovary Axis in the Abnormal Endocrine Functions in Patients with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.” Zhongguo Yi Xue Ke Xue Yuan Xue Bao. Acta Academiae Medicinae Sinicae 39, no. 5 (October 30, 2017): 699–704.


Dr. Wendy Romig
By Wendy Romig, DCNDigestion is one of the most critical functions in the body when it comes to our overall health. From the moment food enters our mouth, until the time that it is either absorbed or excreted, vital biochemical processes are taking place enabling us to receive essential nutrients required for life. Our biological and life-sustaining systems are quite intricate, but understanding some basics can be beneficial for health.Basic Overview of DigestionContrary to common belief, digestion actually begins in the brain not the mouth. From the moment we think about food, see it or smell it, our body begins releasing enzymes for digestion. Then, when food actually enters the mouth, our teeth mash up the food while enzymes initiate the break-down of carbohydrates and fats. As food enters the stomach, digestive juices, hydrochloric acid and proteolytic enzymes (which breakdown proteins) are released to continue the processing. The stomach then slowly empties its contents into the upper portion of the small intestine where it is met by enzymes released from the gall bladder and walls of the intestines. Another important substance released by the gall bladder into the small intestines is bile, which emulsifies fats for absorption. All nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine and transported to other systems of the body via the blood or lymphatic systems. Any fiber that was not broken down, continues on through the digestive tract and enters into the large intestine for fermentation and creation of our gut microbiota, Vitamin K and biotin. What is unused, is excreted in feces.Where Things Go WrongPoor digestion can actually begin in the mouth, especially for those who do not chew their food sufficiently. Under-chewed food enters into the stomach for continued breakdown but when large chunks are present, they are often not broken down properly into their micro-nutrient (vitamins and minerals) and macro-nutrient (carbohydrate, fats and proteins) parts. It is recommended to chew food until it feels completely mashed up in the mouth (around 50 chews according to well-known Integrative Medicine expert Dr. Joseph Mercola). Another area of digestive weakness is insufficient stomach acid. As we age, our bodies tend to produce less hydrochloric acid, which is essential for several functions: 1) breaking down food, 2) killing bacteria and pathogens, 3) activating the protein enzymes, 4) activating the carrier for B12, 5) activating the release of enzymes in the small intestines. While we know that too much stomach acid is dangerous, too little can interfere with major processes.The next place people with digestive problems commonly experience issues is in the intestines in the form of inflammation. Inflammation results in gut tissue that has been irritated by foods not well tolerated, medications, stress, bacterial overgrowth and other aggravants. Inflammation can cause conditions like irritable bowel, intestinal hyperpermeability (‘leaky gut’) and nutrient malabsorption. Lastly, we hear a lot about making sure we have enough of the ‘good’ bacteria in our bodies. This is true and while our large intestines manufacture a large portion of our gut microbiota, those who have taken anti-biotics may be chronically low. Common Symptoms of Poor DigestionThere are a whole host of health problems that can arise from digestive problems and nutrient malabsorption; the list grows by the year. Common primary symptoms of compromised digestion include but are not limited to acid reflux, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, bad breath and gas. Secondary symptoms can include fatigue, muscle weakness, nutrient deficiencies, depression (there are multiple studies linking gut health and depression) and weight problems. It is important to address digestive issues to promote good health and prevent other more serious health problems. The good news is that there are natural options for getting digestion back on track including nutritional changes, supplements and herbal medicine. Consult your local health practitioner for guidance. This article offers only a brief overview of digestion and its potential pathologies. If you are interested in learning more, there are several reputable resources including Dr. Mercola’s website, The National Institute of Health’s PubMed directory (for scientific studies) and the Townsend Letter.Happy digesting!
Dr. Wendy Romig
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By Wendy Romig, DCNWhether children, adults or senior citizens, physical activity and movement are critical for health and well-being. Despite the endless amounts of research and evidence showing the benefits of movement, a large percentage of the US population still falls short of the recommended level of exercise in a week. Many factors including sedentary lifestyles, desk jobs, busy lives and limiting health conditions contribute to the problem, but an important consideration is the physiological effects of inactivity. Now that winter is in full swing pushing many indoors, finding ways to keep the body moving during those dark, cold days is critical. Chronic inflammation has become an epidemic of the developed world and is the result of several factors including diet and lifestyle. According to an article published in Behavioral Neurology Journal, our hunter-gather ancestors experienced significantly lower levels of inflammation, particularly in terms of the duration of inflammation present in the body. Where these earlier humans may have experienced up to 40 days of acute inflammation, present day pathologies linger for months, and even years at times, leading to the onset of chronic disease like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Research has been conducted to measure the levels of certain inflammation markers with long durations of inactivity in newly diagnosed diabetics. Results showed that sedentary lifestyles caused an elevation in the marker IL-6 but increases in activity actually lowered another inflammatory marker c-reactive protein in diabetics. In fact, this research published in the journal of Nutrition, Metabolism and Cardiac Disease in 2014 points out that each hour of added movement in a day decreased the inflammatory marker c-reactive protein by 24% over a six-month period. There is an important correlation between exercise and inflammation levels in humans and some researchers suggest that our muscles are the “forgotten organ” of the immune system. Physical activity and engagement of the body’s musculature actually activates anti-inflammatory immune function. And more specifically, exercise before eating, can lower inflammation brought on by dietary intakes of certain foods like fats, meats and simple carbs. Knowing the inflammatory effects of a sedentary life, the question remains, how can individuals bring more movement and activity into their daily lives? An article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity suggests that even 30 minutes of concentrated daily activity may not be sufficient in counteracting the effects of sitting all day. If you’re not one to spend hours at the gym every week, there is hope. Just simply standing up, walking around your house or office for a few minutes every hour can significantly reduce the levels of inflammation in your body. While this does not replace dedicated cardiovascular and weight-bearing exercise, your body will likely soon feel the positive effects of more movement in your day.
Dr. Wendy Romig
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By Wendy Romig, DCNAs we launch into spring from a gentle winter, you may find yourself cleaning out closets, clearing gardens and removing the old and unwanted from your life to open space for the new and rejuvenating. Spring invites awareness to our bodies and to the earth, along with an increased focus on health and wellness. Some may use this time of year to detox their bodies in preparation for the seasons ahead. In today’s modern world, toxins are abundant. On average, we are exposed to hundreds of toxins each day, creating strain on our internal systems which can promote inflammation, hormonal imbalances and disease. Not to mention the effects on wildlife and our water systems. Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common chemicals we come in contact with based on research from the Environmental Working Group ( Toxins found in common personal care products:Oxybenzone is another product found in sunscreens, personal care products, aftershave and makeup. Oxybenzone has been shown in studies to increase oxidative stress, putting added strain on organs, as well as increasing risk of allergies, cardiovascular disease and imbalances in the endocrine system. Parabens are found in sunscreens and personal care products. Evidence suggests that these compounds may disrupt hormone production and lead to allergic responses in the body. Phenylenediamine (along with aminophenol and diaminobenzene) are found in hair dyes. These chemicals have been associated with increased risk of liver toxicity, respiratory illness, and eye irritation. Phthalates are found in nail polishes, cosmetics, scented products and aftershaves. They have been found to disturb reproductive function, particularly in males.Retinyl Palmitate is an ingredient found in many personal care products including shaving cream, moisturizers, sun screens and makeup. Research shows that this chemical may contribute to reproductive disruptions and increased oxidative stress in the body.Triclosan is found most in toothpaste and facial cleansers. Data suggests that exposure to triclosan may increase risk of endocrine system imbalances, allergic responses and organ toxicity. This product has been restricted for cosmetic use in Canada and Japan. Toxins found in common cleaning products:Ammonium hydroxide is a chemical used in common household cleaning products which can contribute to respiratory distress, organ damage, allergies, skin irritations and vision issues. Oxalic Acid is a chemical used in many cleaning products. Evidence suggests this compound contributes to disruption of the endocrine system and may cause convulsions, vision issues or kidney damage.Sodium hypochlorite is one of the main ingredients in bleach products which may lead to respiratory inflammation, allergies, skin irritation, hormonal imbalances and digestive disturbances. While this list is far from exhaustive, it contains a few of the more aggressive toxins found in everyday products. As you consider ways to detoxify your life, you may research safer alternatives to some of these products found through the Environmental Working Group website. Many of these products can be found at  your local co-op or natural food store. You may also choose to investigate DIY options like vinegar, water and essential oils for cleaning, and other recipes for skin care which are natural, safe and oftentimes more economical.
Dr. Wendy Romig
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by Wendy Romig, DCN Antioxidants, phytonutrients, superfoods: these nutritional terms are widely used in supplements marketing, on food packaging and online. But are the benefits they tout hype, or are they based on scientific evidence? Antioxidants are an important part of our daily dietary needs, yet it’s common for people to have severe deficiencies in these essential nutrients. According to the National Institute of Health, antioxidants have health-promoting benefits which may lower the risk of chronic illness and counteract the effects of oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress results from our body’s energy production pathways leading to the release of free radicals, not unlike a car engine producing toxic exhaust fumes. While free radicals naturally occur in the body, their presence can lead to changes in our DNA, cellular damage, cellular mutations and inflammation, all of which can contribute to cancer, atherosclerosis, macular degeneration and other health issues. Antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables bind to free radicals, safely removing them from the body and protecting the cells from mutation or damage. Nutrients like Vitamins C, A, E, lutein, lycopene, and flavonoids have been widely studied over the years for their protective, anti-inflammatory effects. Vitamin C is most commonly associated with citrus fruit. However, Vitamin C can be found in many vegetables as well, including broccoli and kale. Studies show that Vitamin C is beneficial for heart health, in cancer treatment and improved immune function. It is water soluble and an essential nutrient in our diet, meaning the only source is through our food. Deficiencies in Vitamin C can lead to bruising, bleeding gums, poor immunity and slow wound healing. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds and dark leafy greens. Vitamin E may be beneficial for eye health and heart disease, though one should be cautious with high dose supplementation, because Vitamin E can be stored in fat cells of the body. Vitamin E oil is commonly used topically to help repair damaged skin tissue. Vitamin E deficiencies can lead to neuropathies, vision issues, and muscle weakness. Vitamin A and beta carotene are fat-soluble nutrients that are found in orange foods like carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, etc. Vitamin A is most commonly associated with eye health, but also is critical in pregnancy for fetal development. It’s important to note that high doses of supplemental vitamin A can be toxic. Lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Evidence shows that these nutrients are beneficial for eye health, specifically supporting the macula of the eye. Some studies suggest diets rich in carotenoids may reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Flavonoids are polyphenols that have significant antioxidant effects in the body and are plentiful in fruits, vegetables, coffee, chocolate and green tea. Flavonoids have been studied for their benefits in cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, and brain health. Supplementation of antioxidants can offer some benefits to health, but the first goal should always be to increase your intake of foods containing these nutrients. Eating a whole foods, plant-based diet offers an abundance of antioxidants and other health benefits including improved energy, blood sugar control, better digestion and increased well-being. It’s yet another case for eating lots of veggies.
Dr. Wendy Romig
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We have entered uncertain times with the coronavirus creating global unrest, illness and travel disruptions. At Sage Integrative Health, we are committed to supporting all efforts to slow the spread of this virus, while also providing useful information to our community. I have been asked over the past couple of weeks about natural interventions for preventing and/or treating coronavirus, to which I respond that there are no proven natural remedies for this virus. Should you display symptoms of coronavirus, including fever, dry cough, sore throat or difficulty breathing, it is essential that you seek immediate medical attention to receive a proper diagnose and treatment.  If you are scheduled for a visit at Sage and have any of the symptoms of coronavirus, or have been in contact with someone who has been infected with the coronavirus, we ask that you reschedule your appointment.  Taking the appropriate measures as outlined by local, national (CDC) and world health agencies (WHO) to reduce exposure and transmission risk is essential. In addition, you may also consider ways to support immune function like improving hydration, increasing intake of fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of rest, just as you might do to prevent the flu. Some herbs and supplements may also be beneficial. While these tactics may support overall health, they should not replace medical treatment should you fall ill.  If you have questions, I invite you to schedule a 15-minute free phone consultation to discuss your concerns regarding this serious health issue.  Wishing you good health and well-being. Sincerely, Wendy Romig, DCN
Dr. Wendy Romig
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By Sage Writer: Hillary Givhan Recently, we posted an article on how to get started with a therapeutic diet (low-FODMAP, gluten-free, anti-candida, etc.). Be sure to check it out for some helpful tips on getting started. In some cases, a therapeutic diet may be necessary for months in order to clear up a condition. This can make holidays, family gatherings, or a meal with friends difficult to navigate. Below are 5 tips on how to maintain a social life while also tending to your health: 1. Eat Before You Go: This may not be the most fun option, but it is the most effective. If you eat substantially before going to an event where you know there will be food, you won’t be as tempted to eat something you shouldn’t. If it is a more intimate gathering of family and friends, explain that you will eat ahead of time and why. If everyone is aware, they will be less likely to offer you food and may even support your efforts by helping you steer clear of that dessert table. 2. Potlucks: When meeting with friends or family, a potluck is a great alternative to eating at a restaurant or ordering takeout. You can bring something that you know you can eat, and if you let them know ahead of time, someone may be more than happy to bring a dish you can eat (a side of green beans, salad with dressings on the side, gluten-free granola mix, etc.) 3. Make the Executive Decision: When eating out, ask your friends or family if you can choose the restaurant. If they know you have dietary restrictions, they will likely be understanding of this request. Yelp and Google are great resources for searching your dietary needs and restaurants in your area. This will give you the opportunity to call restaurants and discuss their menu or alternate meals they can prepare for you ahead of time. This will relieve you from asking the waiter 15 questions about your order and will give you peace of mind. 4. Choose DIY: More and more DIY eateries are popping up. Here, you can create your own pizza, salad, burrito, or sushi bowl. If there are enough ingredients that work for you, then it’s a great option for eating out (think: Chipotle, Poké Bowl, Saladworks, MOD Pizza, etc.) 5. A Happy Heart is Great Medicine: Know that it’s the consistent decisions that will make the biggest impact. If you accidentally eat something you shouldn’t, or are in a social situation where it’s just about impossible to stay on your diet, then eat with a happy and grateful heart. One meal here and there won’t derail you if you’re making good choices for the vast majority of the time. Food is important and so is enjoying the company of those we love. We hope this gave you some good ideas of how to maneuver social situations while on a therapeutic diet. Let us know if you’ve learned any additional ways to navigate social events while on a specialty diet!

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