stevia-leaves-sept-22-2016-blogSince Stevia is from a plant, you would think it can only be good for you, right? Let’s take a look at this sweetener.

It turns out that most of it isn’t natural. What? Yes, it’s true. We eat so much sugar that trying to find a replacement can be mind boggling, to say the least!

Stevia was banned in the U.S. in the 1990s. Then it was okay to sell as a supplement. Then, in the early 2000s, some big companies pressured the FDA to let them use it as a sweetener.

The word “natural” is unregulated. Arsenic is natural! So what happened is that the approval for Stevia wasn’t for the whole plant, only for the active ingredient (Reb A). While Stevia has been used for centuries, Reb A has not!!

Its long term effect on us in unknown. How safe is it? Nobody knows. Stevia goes through heavy processing. Chemicals are used, such as acetone, methanol, etc. Doesn’t sound like food, does it? This is what happens with Truvia. Two more chemicals are added to that, to make matters worse. The first is erythritol which is naturally occurring in fresh fruit, but they are not using this kind. They process it from GMO corn which is fermented to make pure erythritol and then they add natural flavors to cover the taste.

What about Stevia in the Raw? Look at the first ingredient on the label: it’s dextrose! It’s also in PureVia.

Is it possible to find a true Stevia? Look for “whole leaf stevia” on the label or grow your own and use it! You really have to be an investigator anymore if you want to put healthier ingredients into your body. All sweeteners aren’t great for you, so be aware of using in moderation.

You are worth it!

One of the most important things you can do to get in control of your health is to stop eating the foods that are causing inflammation in your body! Most of us eat too much, so it’s usually not because of a lack of nutrition, although it could be.

We’re all different. What’s good for you may not be good for me. Basically, it’s all about finding out what’s good for your body and what can decrease the chronic inflammation in your body. Inflammation leads to disease. If you figure it out, the rewards are enormous! You’ll feel younger, be mentally sharper, and you won’t age as fast. Your skin can even look better, and your overall mood will improve.

Digital illustration of human bodySince our goal is to keep inflammation to a minimum, we need to avoid the foods that do this to us. Some diseases related to chronic inflammation are cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and more. Inflammation can be caused by food sensitivities, parasites, or infections. Toxins also can lead to inflammation.

So what can we do about this? Reduce the inflammatory load on your body. We need to find out what is going on in our bodies and decrease the inflammation so our bodies can function better and we can feel great too! Eating the wrong foods can cause damage, which can age us faster as well.

The bonus is that when you find out which foods are right for you, you’ll also lose weight easier. It gives you slow and steady weight loss by eating differently, rather than starving yourself. Food cravings and addictions also go away.

If you suffer with migraines, hives, IBS, depression and/or brain fog (among numerous other issues), it could be caused by inflammation from foods you are eating.

Here are some symptoms that may indicate your food is causing your problems:

  • Persistent fatigue not helped by rest
  • Over- or under-weight or a history of fluctuating weight
  • Occasional swellings of the face, hands, abdomen or ankles
  • Palpitations, particularly just after eating
  • Excessive sweating
  • Red or itchy eyes
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Itching
  • Eczema
  • Blotches on the skin
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dyspepsia, abdominal distress, flatulence
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Stomach pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Variable bowel function
  • Unusually slow or rapid heartbeat
  • Pain in the chest
  • High blood pressure
  • Cramps in limbs
  • Chilblains
  • Feeling faint
  • Feeling unwell all over
  • Stiffness in throat or tongue
  • Water retention
  • Terrible thoughts on waking
  • Shaking in the morning
  • Slow getting started in the morning
  • Insomnia
  • Crabby on waking
  • Abrupt changes from well to unwell
  • Rash that isn’t eczema
  • Aching muscles
  • Swollen painful joints
  • Headache (including migraine)
  • Convulsions or fits
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Giddiness
  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • “Dopey” feeling (brain fog)
  • Inability to think clearly (“woolly brain”)
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Feeling unreal, depersonalized
  • Lack of confidence
  • Mood swings
  • Sudden sneezing
  • High mood (undue elation)
  • Low mood
  • Mood swings
  • Menstrual difficulties
  • General slowing down
  • General speeding up
  • Tingling all over
  • Vomiting without nausea
  • Sudden tiredness after eating
  • Sudden chills after eating
  • Feeling totally drained and exhausted
  • Eating binges
  • “Flu-like state” that isn’t really flu

If you have 5 or more of these things going on, you probably suffer from hidden food sensitivities or infections.

The good news: You can make some changes and see dramatic results!

Graphic courtesy of

oil change

Processed food contains an oil that can be damaging to our bodies: partially hydrogenated soybean oil. This is trans fat, which is one of the worst fats you can ingest. Most soy is also genetically modified, which is a whole other story. It is hydrogenated to prolong its shelf life.

Here are some of the health hazards of this trans fat:


  • Decreased Immune Function
  • Cancer Risk
  • Diabetes
  • Cholesterol Problems
  • Heart Disease
  • Auto-Immune Issues

Foods can contain up to ½ gram and be labeled trans fat-free. This can add up to more than you should have.

Soybean oil is not a healthy oil. It is primarily an omega-6 fat. We consume far too much of this type of fat and not enough omega-3 fat. This can produce inflammation in the body which can then lead to disease.

Other problems with soy:

  • Goitrogens
  • Phytoestrogens
  • Phytic Acid
  • GMO

Bottom Line: Don’t eat processed food. Use healthier fats like organic butter, ghee, or coconut oil. Get your omega-3’s in with olive oil, avocado, chia seeds, etc.


Image courtesy of franky242 at

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.

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!

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More Energy, Lost 22lbs, Improved Digestion

I have had some great results following Karen’s Program! I have more energy, lost 22lbs., my hair is no longer falling out, my cough has diminished, digestion improved, no more bloating, no more 3pm crash & I feel healthy! Karen is organized and gives step by step instructions that are easy to follow. Each time

Sherry Bell Arizona June 1, 2015


Karen Russell

Certified Health Counselor

140 Schuerman Drive

Sedona, AZ 86336

(by appointment only)





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