health, inspirational, personal

resolution time?

Okay, okay, it’s been a while. I figured this would happen. But the last two months just got unexpectedly (but maybe not so unexpectedly) busy. So, it’s 2018. A new year. Time people make resolutions. I posted some general resolutions on Facebook earlier this week, but I’ll go into further depth on this blog.

  1. Don’t diet. Instead make lifestyle changes, lifestyle changes, lifestyle changes. Please don’t diet. Diets set you up for failure, mess with your metabolism, and cause forever yo yo-ing (how do you write yo yo-ing?) of weight. Instead, if you want your body to change, make lifestyle changes that you can maintain without suffering. It might take longer to get the weight off, but it will last. Eat more vegetables, eat healthy fats, don’t deprive yourself completely of your favorite foods, work on portion control, drink more water, and move more. A side tip, never mention diets and weight in front of children. I’ve seen little girls as young as four talk about calories and pinch their skin talking about fat. Create a healthy mindset about food and exercise and pass that on to younger generations.
  2. Move. Exercise in ways that don’t feel like chores – take fun classes, go skiing, hike outside, walk your dog, dance, anything you think you’d enjoy. Enjoy the process and it’s something you can continue for the rest of your life. I also use the word “move” to encourage travel. Road trips, outdoor adventures, or overseas trips if you’re able. All are amazing for the mind + soul. See a doctor once a year and talk to them if you are having difficulty with your weight, there may be a medical cause.
  3. Less screen time. I feel as though 90% of the day I am on my phone or a computer. I interact with patients and then immediately go back to my computer and type up notes/put in orders. Precepting with the residents, I’m basically on the computer the whole time. My phone seems as though it’s an appendage of my body these days. I have found that when I’m away from screens, time slows down! Less screen time will hopefully result in more time to read and create (more of that later).
  4. Reduce + reuse. I know everyone pushes recycling, which is great, but even better is to reduce or reuse. Buy better quality products, but fewer of them! For example, instead of 10 cheap sweaters, buy one of great quality that will last you forever. In fact, reduce buying in general – I know I have so many things that I bought that I really didn’t need; they are just collecting dust in my house and one day will just be thrown out. So wasteful! Buy food with less packing waste – buy in bulk bags (nuts, seeds, rice) when you are able. Refill water bottles instead of buying disposable ones – I’m using Hydroflask, and I love it. It comes in several sizes and colors, and it  keeps my water ice cold all day long. And reuse. This is something I need to work on. Reuse bags, boxes, jars, whatever you can, before throwing them out/recycling them.
  5. Read. I am going to try and read one book a month. It seems like the easiest task ever, but I get so caught up in my screens that it’s hard to make time for reading.
  6. Give. Give more presents to people, give more hugs, volunteer. Give yourself a break! Giving is the best thing you can do. If you can’t afford to donate money, donate your time – there are so many organizations to get involved with out there.
  7. Create. I’m going to work on writing more, but I also am going to work on watercolors and work on cooking and baking more. But create in any way you choose – write, paint, draw, dance, make music, etc.


That’s it for now. I’ll try to post more regularly (#7 up there) while still not increasing my screen time (#3).



The Gut Diet.

There are more and more studies coming out that show that the vast and diverse microbiome present in our intestines affects our health and bodies in numerous ways. Google “microbiome and weight” and you will find plenty to start with, but they affect even more than weight. One particularly interesting one I found was that certain artificial sweeteners were found to trigger alterations in the gut microbiome increasing appetite and increasing fat storage – was the non-fat trend in the 90s which resulted in a spike in artificial sweeteners and strange additives a huge trigger for obesity because of it’s affect on our gut microbiome?

There are literally dozens of interesting journals/articles/research studies about gut microbiome that I came across just today. I think we will be seeing lots more treatments and studies with regards to this in the future. In the meantime, I found out in Menorca, Spain they have a “Gut Makeover Retreat” that costs thousands of dollars to help reset your gut from all the toxins it has been accumulating and help them regrow healthy, good bacteria. Reading into these makeovers, they can be simplified for [affordable] at-home use. The nutritionist behind this is Jeannette Hyde, and she summarized her diet for DailyMail as follows:


The focus is on building a wider array of bacteria. The key principles here are:

1. Plants: Try to get different plants (vegetables, herbs and fruits) into meals. Think a minimum of seven cups of plants — five as vegetables, two as fruit. Aim for 20 to 30 varieties a week — a shopping cart exploding with color and textures.

2. Buy the best protein you can afford (meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds) to include at each meal. [Apurva advice: limit meat protein to once a day, max.]

3. Relax and chew properly: Try not to eat on the run or ‘al desko’.

4. Fast: Get into the habit of a 12-hour fast between dinner and breakfast. A long stretch without food improves the microbiome.

5. Avoid snacking. Have three meals a day.


The second half of the plan is ‘planting season’, introducing the following into your gut:

1. Prebiotics: Increase your intake of prebiotic foods that contain fiber, which feeds bacteria in the gut and make friendly species bloom. These include: apples, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, cold potatoes (after cooking they form a fiber called resistant starch), fennel, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, onions, legumes (allowed if you are vegetarian to boost protein).

2. Probiotics: These contain friendly bacteria and include: kefir milk, Roquefort cheese, fermented live miso and fermented tempeh (both made from soy beans and found in Asian supermarkets; add miso, a paste, to stir-fries and soups, buy tempeh in blocks to add to stir-fries and salads).


Alcohol, caffeine, sugar, sweeteners, dairy (although in weeks three and four it is included in small amounts because foods such as fermented milk kefir can boost gut flora), grains (particularly gluten-containing wheat, rye and spelt), beans and legumes (they contain high levels of lectins which can cause bloating), and dried fruit (due to high fructose sugar).


When the month is up, transition to the maintenance stage, a gut-friendly version of the real Mediterranean diet: plants — vegetables, seasonal fruits and wild herbs — supplemented with fish, nuts and grains, extra virgin olive oil, artisan, slow-matured cheeses teeming with friendly bacteria, and moderate amounts of quality meat.

The diet in general is similar to your standard, but proven, plant-based, whole foods, Mediterranean diet that should be highly recommended right now by all nutritionists and physicians, but it kind of explains why from a gut-related perspective. So considering that my diet is kind of exactly the opposite – lots of snacking, dairy, sugar, caffeine, beans, grains, legumes, and occasional alcohol, I feel as though my gut is pretty unhappy. Last May I lasted 3 weeks of the month without any added sugars in my diet, and I felt great. I think even if you can make small changes towards a diet like this, you’ll feel better, but if you are willing to take the plunge and commit to this diet, I don’t think you’ll regret it. Happy gut, happy life!

More books to look into:

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