The latest research is finding a connection between disease and what we eat. Certain foods in particular can cause inflammation in our bodies and promote diseases like Alzheimer’s. Most people know someone who’s had this catastrophic disease.

According to Dr. David Perlmutter, Alzheimer’s is costing billions every year — but it can be preventable.

 “The point is there is no meaningful treatment. It is a disease predicated on lifestyle choices primarily, because of the high amount of carbohydrates/sugar that we now, as Western-culture individuals, are consuming. It’s a preventable disease. It surprises me at my core that no one’s talking about the fact that so many of these devastating neurological problems are, in fact, modifiable based upon lifestyle choices.”

Grain picHe looked at the impact of gluten & casein on autoimmune disease. In his book, “Grain Brain”, Dr. Perlmutter reveals that gluten is involved in most chronic disease, including those that affect the brain, because of how it affects the immune system. We are all affected to some degree, some more than others. It’s because we all create zonulin in the intestine in response to gluten. This makes your gut more permeable and allows proteins to get into the bloodstream, which promotes inflammation and immune problems. Antibiotics and chlorinated water do the same thing.

The gut-brain connection is very important to understand. Once the gut is this way, other proteins like casein from dairy cause problems. This doesn’t include dairy fats like clarified butter. We need fats in our bodies, but the right kinds!

Some tests to consider having to see your risk for Alzheimer’s and other diseases are:

  • Gluten Sensitivity Testing/Casein
  • Fasting Blood Sugar: There is a correlation between your blood sugar and your brain shrinking. Even at 90-100, it affects your memory center.
  • Hemoglobin A1c: This is a marker of blood sugar in a 3-month period and indicates the same thing as the blood sugar and brain shrinkage.

Just know that you can change how your brain is doing through lifestyle changes, more so than just aging. You can be in control of your health! You can change your genetic destiny!

We need cholesterol because it’s a precursor to make vitamin D, a brain antioxidant and precursor to the sex hormones. “The elderly with the lowest cholesterol may be at risk the most for Alzheimers,” according to Dr. Perlmutter. “It’s a fundamental player in every cell membrane.”

Helping people make the right choices when it comes to their bodies and what they eat is what I do. It’s crucial to our health and well-being.

Every day we put chemicals on our skin and face, along with perfume and deodorant. At what cost are we doing this? If we don’t pay attention to the chemicals that are in most of these products, it can disrupt the hormone balance in our bodies and cause us to gain weight and have a hard time losing weight. Also, an accumulation of these chemicals can contribute to diseases like cancer!

What can we do to change this? Watch for these ingredients:

chemical picParabens:  These are used as a preservative in products. They are linked to breast cancer and Belly Fat!

Synthetic Fragrances: Often labeled as “Fragrances.” Sounds harmless, right? The label needs to say: Phthalate Free! Phthalates are a friend to cellulite and body fat. They disrupt your hormones. You can end up moody, with increased food cravings!

Propylene Glycol and others!

As you can see, shampoos, skin creams, make-up, deodorant, and other products we use every day can contribute to unwanted Belly Fat, Cancer and other issues. We can change what we put on our skin and protect ourselves. Just read the label before you buy.

I see it every day with my clients. When they do the saliva testing to find hidden sources of inflammation and what their cortisol and other hormones are doing, we discover at times that their estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are extremely high — and they aren’t even taking hormones!

That is alarming to me. The risk of cancer and disease is high with hormones being out of control from foods, products, and other avenues.

The Bottom Line: YOU have some control over your path in life. Be proactive and find out what’s happening with your hormones, etc., through saliva testing with me. I can help guide you in a better direction.

Everyone knows that salt is bad for you, right? That’s what we’ve been told for many years. We’ve heard it promotes heart disease and that sea salt is the best salt for you. Is this really true?

There is salt that’s good for you. It has lots of minerals, 70-80 in fact, unlike regular table salt or even some sea salt that has only a few.

Salt Shakers graphicThe research is flawed! Here are some things that most people don’t know:

  • Too little salt may actually cause heart disease – In one European study, subjects were followed for 8 years. They discovered that a low salt diet was causing more heart disease in these subjects.
  • It’s not associated with high blood pressure – It’s when you don’t have enough minerals that you can get high blood pressure.
  • We need salt! Sodium keeps fluid in the body balanced. Without it, our heart cannot function properly. Chloride keeps our acid-base balance.

You don’t want to use refined salt. You’ll also want to use salt in moderation and use the right type of salt. Most are bad for you, like table salt, some sea salt, and even some kosher salt.

Anti-caking agents can be put in salt to increase the shelf life. Sea salt may also be refined, so it is a marketing gimmick.

You need salt that is good for you. Some examples are:

  • Himalayan Salt
  • Celtic Salt

You want a salt that has lots of minerals to keep your body in balance. Avoid processed food, fast food, and most restaurant food overall to avoid the “bad” salt.

If you’re having problems with your thyroid, you may want to check into your adrenals Battery levels(the “battery pack” of your body). These little glands are on top of your kidneys and play a huge part in your health & well being.

Your adrenals are responsible for your Energy, Hormone Balance, Immune Health, and Blood Sugar Balance. That’s a lot! We always remember to recharge our batteries for our cell phone, camera, etc., but what about us???? We’re too busy burning ourselves out!

Our adrenal glands produce Estrogen, Progesterone, Cortisol, Adrenaline, Dopamine, and other hormones. We need to support the adrenals to help heal the thyroid and have it work properly.

Here are some symptoms of adrenal fatigue & thyroid issues:

  • Exhaustion
  • Brain Fog
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Hair Loss
  • Low Blood Pressure
  • Decreased Sex Drive

When your thyroid is low, your adrenals probably are as well. The body is conserving energy naturally.

So what can throw the adrenals and thyroid out of balance?

  • Chronic Infections
  • Food Sensitivities
  • Sleep Deprivation
  • Over-Exercising
  • Too many stimulants
  • High Sugar Intake
  • High Stress
  • Nutritional Deficiencies

When you don’t get the nutrition you need, the body naturally slows down. You can be deficient in Vitamin D3, B12, and other nutrients.

If you have hidden food sensitivities, you may not be absorbing your nutrients well and that can cause issues. Taking thyroid medication doesn’t always work when you don’t find the root cause!

Saliva Testing can find hidden issues like infections (H.Pylori, Yeast, Parasites, etc.), foods that cause inflammation and digestion problems, and your Cortisol Levels, Hormones, and more. Testing can get you on the right track for getting balanced and having more Energy, Weight Balance, and Disease Prevention.

Karen Russell is a certified nutrition health coach and owner of Recipe 4 Wellness in Sedona, Arizona.

(Image courtesy of digitalart at

Fat is an important source of energy and is a part of all the cells in the body. You want to make sure you’re getting the right kinds and not too much.

Research shows that a diet high in omega-3 rich fish and plant foods but low in saturated, trans, and omega-6 fats can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

3 bottles of cooking oilThere are different types of oils. There are monounsaturated oils like olive, almond, avocado, hazelnut, peanut, safflower, canola, and sunflower oils. Corn, flaxseed, pumpkin seed, soy, and walnut oils are examples of polyunsaturated oils.

If you want to boost omega-3s, you can use flaxseed, pumpkin, walnut, or chia oil. Hempseed oil is also another option and can be used in salad dressing.

Oils are produced in different ways. They are extracted from plants by either pressing or refining. After it’s extracted, it can be further refined to make it more stable — less likely to oxidize and form free radicals. Using oxidized fats long-term may cause some undesirable consequences, such as premature aging of our cells and inflammation. Refining may also remove antioxidants.

Labels can be confusing. “Extra Virgin” has the best flavor and contains no more than 0.8 percent free acidity. “Virgin” is a little lower in quality but still has good flavor, but free acidity is higher. If these oils are refined, they have a medium-high smoke point, making them OK for cooking at moderate temperatures. “Light” olive oil has less flavor, not fewer calories! “High oleic” means the oils have a high percentage of oleic acid, which is a form of monounsaturated fat, and makes them more stable against oxidation. They also have a higher smoke point.

Smoke point is the maximum temperature that the oil can be heated to before it becomes damaged and it varies from oil to oil. You don’t want oil to smoke, because it releases carcinogens into the air and also creates free radicals! Free radicals cause cellular damage which may lead to disease.

When using low to moderate temperatures or mixing in salad dressings, you can use unrefined oils like walnut, corn, flaxseed, coconut, and olive oil. For higher temperatures you want to use refined oils more often like macadamia, canola, avocado, sunflower, and soy oil.

You can lengthen the lifespan of your oil by putting it in the refrigerator. You can keep unrefined oils for up to 14 months and refined oils up to 20 months. If you buy cold-pressed oils or oils rich in omega-3s, these require refrigeration when opened to ensure freshness.

Coconut oil can remain stable at room temperature for up to two years! This is the exception.

You can leave oils like olive oil at room temperature for about two months if you are using it frequently.

It’s a good idea to purchase oil in dark bottles or store in a dark place because light can cause oxidative damage. If oil becomes burned, get rid of it!

Some new oils to try:

TEA SEED OIL – This oil has a very high smoke point and is used in China and Japan. It is high in monounsaturated fat.

VIRGIN ARGAN OIL – This oil is from the fruit of the Moroccan argan tree and has a delicate and enticing nutty aroma and flavor. It has a low smoke point, so it’s not used as much for cooking as it is as a salad dressing or for dip! It’s packed with antioxidants also.

PUMPKIN SEED OIL – This oil is rich in phytoestrogens. It’s good drizzled over pasta, for sauteing fish, or in salad dressing. It also has a low smoke point, so it’s not good for frying.

BERRY SEED OIL – This oil is rich in powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phenols, including zeaxanthin and lutein. It has a low smoke point so it’s good to use in salad dressings or drizzled over granola, etc. Don’t make the mistake of buying “raspberry oil” that is a cheaper oil infused with raspberry essence. Some of the berry oils are red raspberry seed oil, blueberry seed oil, or cranberry seed oil.

Oils can be healthy if you buy the right ones and use them wisely. Pay attention to your oil use and other food preparation methods for the healthiest and tastiest food. Enjoy your food as if your life depends on it, because it does!

Karen Russell is a certified health counselor, AADP, with Recipe for Wellness.

(Image courtesy of m_bartosch at

A “localvore” is someone who eats food grown in their immediate environment.

Humans have traditionally eaten locally grown seasonal foods. Modern technology has changed that traditional way of eating, and today every type of food is available at any time of the year regardless of the season or environment where it is grown.

One perspective on this comes from traditional Chinese medicine, which reveals that salads, vegetables, and fruits are energetically cooling to the body. During the hot summer months, this cooling effect can be beneficial for most, but during the cold winter season, it can weaken the digestive system and may contribute to some gas and bloating. Right now, during the spring and summer, is the best time of year to incorporate more cooling fruits and vegetables into the diet.

Farmers MarketThe easiest way to discover what’s available in your environment is to check out a local farmers market or join a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture program) in your area. The traditional farmer can’t grow something that’s incompatible with his environment. You can get fresh produce, meat, and dairy products straight from the farmer, delivered weekly at a designated pickup site. This is a delicious way to support your health, the local community, and the earth, too!

Farms participating in the CSA program grow food that’s produced naturally, using sustainable, ecologically sound practices. The growers take care in managing their fields and work hard to build and maintain the well balanced, mineralized soil base that enables them to consistently provide you with a fresh supply of highly nutritious produce.

The way the program works is that you pay for a share of the produce raised on the farms during the year. A share consists of 1/2 bushel box of a variety of in-season produce, grown by the members. The variety depends on the weather and the length of the growing season. It’s fun to see what wonderful produce will be in your basket each week!

I like to support the local farmers in the area and hope more people will do the same. There are benefits to everyone involved. It’s almost time for those wonderful, colorful, fruits and vegetables to be coming our way every week. Of course, it’s nice to plant a small garden, too. There’s nothing better than walking outside your door to grab a fresh tomato or some cilantro while you’re cooking up a delicious meal. It all comes down to taste and freshness. My motto is, “It has to taste good!”

(Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at

Karen Russell is a certified nutrition health coach and owner of Recipe 4 Wellness in Sedona, Arizona.

Many people make food choices that can cause them to feel fatigued instead of energized. Because we feel rushed and don’t always find time to cook, we go to drive-thru’s or eat other fast food on the run. Maybe we go to a restaurant and make unhealthy choices full of GMO’s, refined sugar, bad fats, inflammatory ingredients and more!

You don’t just wake up with low energy or a disease like cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure. This happens over time, one bite at a time! Many meals are eaten before these things happen. Our energy suffers and we feel tired all the time. Caffeine and sugar are what we grab to keep us going. Maybe that candy bar, doughnut or can of pop. Whatever we think may get us through, even organic iced tea or a latte full of sugar.

Some causes of low energy:

  • Inflammation from eating the wrong foods like GMO’s, sugar, gluten, and more
  • Depletion from not getting the right nutrients
  • Toxification by eating foods full of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics
  • Chemicals building up in the body in every way

As you can see, it’s easy to get fatigued in our modern world today! What we eat will either give us energy or take energy from us. There is a way to get into balance and feel more energy and eat delicious tasting foods too!!!!

Start by replacing some of your ingredients with healthier options. See what happens. I can help you if you need it! There is light at the end of the tunnel for sure.

Aging is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors. Even though your genes are an important influence, there are changes you can make that can help you age in a healthier way.

According to some recent research, lifestyle factors can influence how we age and healthy habits can modify gene expression to slow down the aging process.

The following strategies can help you to take more control over how fast you age and your quality of life.

  • Eat less convenience food and more real food. Cook more, using fresh, real food and avoid prepackaged and fast food.
  • Downsize stress. Chronic stress can affect your physical and mental well being. CortisHappy Older Woman with hand weightsol, a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands, can save your life in dangerous situations, but if you are in this mode all the time, it can wear you out mentally and physically. This can lead to diabetes, depression and memory problems. Find an outlet like exercise, yoga, etc. Try to take time for yourself daily.
  • Challenge your mind. Keep your brain stimulated to fight the aging process. Learn new skills like a new dance. This will also help with balance and coordination.
  • Stay active. Regular exercise helps to decrease your risk of diabetes, heart disease, weak bones and muscles, stress and anxiety, depression and many more health issues. Thirty to 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity most days of the week can help. Walking, jogging and dancing are some examples.

The bottom line is to try and age gracefully with a quality of life that you deserve to have. I have seen what can happen when you make small changes, over time, to achieve a life full of health and vitality. It gives me great satisfaction to help someone achieve this balance.

It’s not out of reach. Time to shed those layers of old habits for some wonderful, energizing new habits that fit you well!

How many of us feel guilty when we eat chocolate and think it will cause weight gain and other health issues? What if chocolate was good for you? Let’s take a look at some of the facts.

Chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree. The seeds are fermented, dried, roasted, and the shell is removed to form cacao nibs. These nibs are processed to form a chocolate liquor, which can be further processed to form solid cocoa butter and eventually made into a chocolate bar.

Most chocolate produced today has lots of added sugar, as well as milk fat. Milk blocks the absorption of beneficial polyphenols in chocolate. Milk chocolate is produced this way.Woman eating chocolate bar

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk but no cocoa solids and is not considered to be true chocolate. Most chocolate consumed in the United States is highly processed and has added ingredients such as refined sugar, artificial flavors, cheap fats and hydrogenated oils, resulting in unnatural product that is high in fat and calories and devoid of nutritional value.

So, what do you look for when buying chocolate? Before you reach for a candy bar, look at the label. Look for bars that have a cocoa content of 60 percent or higher and are free of artificial ingredients and high fructose corn syrup. You can also buy raw chocolate.

Some of the many health benefits of dark chocolate are:

  • Polyphenols that reduce inflammation
  • Improved blood pressure
  • Help with insulin sensitivity and blood flow
  • Lowered LDL levels and increased HDL levels

A recent study shows that even a small amount of cocoa and dark chocolate can have a protective effect on the blood vessels of the circulatory system.

Chocolate is a significant source of antioxidants. This helps with free radicals and oxidation in the body. Other studies are being done to show the impact on cognition and skin health.

One of the minerals that chocolate is rich in is magnesium. If you crave a lot of chocolate, this may be a clue that you may be low in magnesium.

Do the fat and calories in chocolate negate the health benefits? Much of the saturated fat in chocolate is stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels. Calorie intake needs to be taken into consideration to maintain a healthy weight.

Chocolate contains several chemicals that can alter our mood and cause us to crave it.

Theobromine is a mildly addictive stimulant, and phenethylamine is associated with feelings of happiness. Caffeine is a stimulant in chocolate which if eaten late in the day, may cause some insomnia. Chocolate definitely affects the seratonin levels in the brain and can be mildly addictive.

Like anything else, even healthy chocolate can be overdone. Don’t forget about healthy food choices to get your daily quota of antioxidants. You need a variety of foods to receive all the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants your body needs to build and maintain health. The health benefits of dark chocolate can be had while consuming it in moderation.

Personally, I love dark chocolate, and I’m happy that it can be a part of my life and the life of my clients. It can fit into a healthy lifestyle program along with other healthy habits. It fits into my weight loss plan!

To your health,


Image courtesy of Ambro at

There’s an old adage: we are what we eat. What determines what we eat? We are given one body for life, and how we treat it will affect everything we do until the day we die.

Some regard their body as a temple, while others never stop and think about how they treat their body and end up abusing it. What makes us different?

One of the factors that determines how we treat our bodies is our perceptual filters. All information coming into the brain is filtered; some is allowed in, and other information is kept out. This is determined by a number of things — our socioeconomic status, where we live, our gender, our culture,Brain drawing and our education are a few.

Our brains actively filter incoming information so that it “makes sense” according to our values and beliefs. These filters play a huge role in how we live our lives. What we think about something influences how we feel about it. It doesn’t matter whether our thinking is right or wrong.

For many, their diet changes monthly, simply because they believe the information that accompanies the latest fad — low fat, low carb, high protein, high fat, or so on. All food contains one or more of the main elements necessary to maintain health. Even people with higher education can be susceptible to food fads and superstitions regarding food, even though these beliefs directly contradict the available science.

Emotions act as filters. An experiment was done by one university showing the effects of the emotional state on how the body responds to cholesterol. Actors were hired to play two couples who had been close friends for years. They were sharing pizza and talking about old memories. A blood sample was taken prior to the meal and another after the meal. The blood after the meal was tested for cholesterol. It was there, but when tested later, it had disappeared. Something had broken it down.

The experiment was repeated, but this time they were to act as if they were enemies instead of friends. They ate the pizza. This time, the cholesterol did not dissipate within the blood sample. The only variable was the state of mind, yet the cholesterol in the blood was measurably affected.

It becomes obvious that to really be healthy and do the best we can, we have to take into account our beliefs and mental attitude concerning food. Your beliefs about why you eat what you eat (and the amount), as well as the quality of the water you drink and the exercise you choose or shun, will all contribute to how well your body performs. It will also determine how long and how well your body serves you. If you examine these beliefs, it will help you understand why you don’t eat those greens but have room for dessert!

Let’s suppose you are given a car, and you are told it’s the only one that you’ll ever get for the rest of your life. This car must last forever, so you’d better look after it well. What kind of maintenance would you decide to do on this car? How would you drive it or take care of it? You will only have one body in this lifetime. The food you put in it is the fuel.

Are you going to use the good stuff, or the quick and the cheap? It’s your choice!

Making small changes daily and monthly can add up.

To your health,


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I met Karen through the Chamber of Commerce in Sedona. It was about a year later when I couldn’t lose weight, had coughing and sneezing fits after I ate, a bloated stomach and constant headaches that I decided to make an appointment with her. I should note that I lived on ibuprofen every day for

Eileen Sedacca July 10, 2016


Karen Russell

Certified Health Counselor

140 Schuerman Drive

Sedona, AZ 86336

(by appointment only)





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