Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A Love Affair, the Key to a Happy New Year

Here we are, one more year and a new list of resolutions and goals to accomplish in 2011 - lose weight, go to the gym, make more money, save more, enjoy my job, work on relationships, fall in love...

The truth is that by the end of the month most of us will have already given up and we'll be back to our old ways, feeling disappointed with ourselves.  Why is it so hard to stay motivated and make permanent changes in our lives; and why do we struggle with the same issues year after year?

Throughout the years coaching clients make permanent lifestyle changes, including finding health, losing weight and ultimately being happy and living life to the fullest, I have found that there is a secret to achieving everything we want in our lives.  Have a love affair!

Really!  It's highly motivational.

When we are in love, dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, is activated in the brain.  Dopamine is part of the brain's reward system, providing feelings of pleasure. It is released by rewarding experiences such as being in love, and also by food, money, sex, shopping, playing sports, and the stimuli associated with them.  Dopamine reinforces motivation for a person to proactively perform certain activities.

If there is anything you want to achieve in your life, you must first have a love affair. Fall in love and the rest will easily follow.

Having a love affair takes commitment and that can carry over to other things in your life.  People who love money are committed to making money.  They will tell you they LOVE money.  People who are committed to being healthy, love eating well.  People who love sports, are committed to exercising every day.  All of these activities release dopamine in the brain.  As the neurotransmitter is secreted, pleasure is felt and the brain craves more dopamine, so it finds the motivation to do more of the same activity that knows releases it.  It's a vicious cycle.  Chocolate, shopping, wine, being in love, sex, all release dopamine in the brain.  Ever wonder why these are such addictive substances?

Pleasure + Reward = Motivation

If it is weight loss and health you have on your list of resolutions for 2011, you must first fall in love with the idea of being healthy and losing weight.  Picture yourself healthy and 20 lbs lighter, fit and strong. Ask yourself:  What would I look like?  What clothes would I wear?  Would I go out more?  Would I have radiant skin and hair?  Would I have higher self esteem?  How would I feel?  How would my life be different?  What are all the delicious and healthy foods that I can eat to be healthy?  What sport do I want to play to keep me active?  Should I play tennis or take up jogging?  Perhaps I will do both.  This is a very different approach than the usual negative approach people take of endless calorie counting, eating prefabricated tasteless foods and dragging themselves to the gym with negativity. 

Motivation becomes easier when your brain knows it will be rewarded with pleasure, and having a love affair with that which you want to achieve is the secret to more dopamine in your brain.  So what are you committed to in life?
I propose that in 2011 we all have a love affair with food, our jobs, our significant others, money, and most of all with ourselves and life itself.

Happy New Year!  May 2011 bring you much health, true love, beautiful food, plenty of money to share and many dreams come true.



 Client Review of The Yogurt Diet


Received you book, and it is just what I was looking for.

I absolutely love the book, and all the information in it. I will definitely tell
everyone about it, and I am adapting my lifestyle to this plan. It just makes clear
sense and is the perfect solution to life long health and wealth.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom, I am very grateful to have found this book.
It will give me life abundantly....

Thanks a million,

Friday, December 3, 2010

Can I substitute for goat yogurt?

Hello Ana,

I just purchased your book about a week ago and I am loving it! I am a vegetarian so I eat yogurt regularly with maple syrup. I choose goats yogurt because it is a bit more ethical than cows. Do you think I will get the same benefits/results? Also, I drink kombusha tea every morning, which I know also contains probiotics. Hope to hear from you soon!


Monday, November 29, 2010

The Beautiful Gift of Falling

A story about triumph and never giving up

I hope you had a peaceful Thanksgiving weekend and found the time to give thanks for all the beautiful gifts life grants us every day.

My Thanksgiving has been nothing short of thrilling.  I have more things to be grateful for than I anticipated and want to share a wonderful lesson I learned over the weekend.

I'm writing from Park City, Utah, where I have spent the Thanksgiving holiday skiing - a sport I absolutely love, but have not done in the last few years.

I woke up Thanksgiving morning with an almost childish anticipation of skiing once again. It was icy cold - 9 degrees... burrrrr - with clear blue skies and the sun shining so strongly on the white snow it was blinding.  Getting back on skis and going up the mountain the first time was absolutely exhilarating.

Though the frigid air could cut through the blood like a well-sharpened chef's knife, excitement had my heart pumping so fast that I actually felt warm.  John - my friend who happens to be an amazing skier-and I are at the top of Alta.  A sense of freedom rushes through my body as I look into a white and frozen world.

"Are you ready?" John hollers with excitement.
"Of course," I reply with a slight cockiness.
"Then let's do it," he says, with the authority of a confident, veteran skier.

I look up at the signs and recognize the arrow that points towards the green trail (the easiest slope), breathe deeply, and I'm ready for a first fun ride.

I hear a "Follow me!"
I look at where John's skis are pointing.  My eyes suddenly become bigger and wider than ever. I swallow with difficulty.  John's skis are pointing over the edge of a steep and narrow slope.  Definitely not a bunny hill.  I say "Oh no no, John, I'm not ready for this. I haven't skied in years."  He's not listening.  "Are you out of your mind?" I cry out. "I need to go down a bunny slide before I try something harder."

John just looks at me with fierce eyes, and says nothing, but he is saying so much.  John is a serious skier and he means business.   For once in my life I am quiet, while I pray that I will make it down safely.

John asks warmly, "Can you leave your ego aside and follow my direction?"  I trust him.  He's a friend, but I think he is hallucinating. I say, "Absolutely." I look down the slope again... I have never felt so much fear before in my life.

John then hurtles over the mountain as I muster up the courage to take this great challenge.  Suddenly, I'm flying downward on my skis at what seems 100 miles an hour.  What an unbelievable feeling.  I'm having a blast.  Then, in seconds, I hit a big bump, lose balance and fall head first rolling down the hill about 10 yards before my skis snap off and I stop with my face buried in the snow.  Once I get my bearings I look up to find John.  I imagine he's working his way up to help me.  Then I hear "Get up!" He is showing no sympathy.  "Are you kidding me?  You're not going to help me?"  I yell desperately.  "It's a miracle I'm alive."  "Get uuuuup!" he screams again. "We don't have all day."  The truth is I am okay and he knows it.  John waits for me patiently.  I better find my skis buried somewhere under the deep snow fast. After ten minutes of excruciating struggle I finally get my skis back on and continue downhill, literally.

I fall and roll at least five more times.  I'm in pain...but I'm also having fun.  Finally, I reach the bottom where John is waiting for me.  Under normal circumstances I would expect John to show some compassion and tenderness for my tough ride down the slope.  But something tells me I will not get any sympathy, so I spare the disappointment and smile.

John then says, "That was very good.  You did it.  I knew you could.  I am really proud of you." I've already forgotten about the pain and I'm excited to go up again.  So here we go. The chair lifts us high up in the air.  I look down and see a man without legs skiing; another man without arms skis behind him.  They're a reminder thatnothing is impossible in life when there is a will.  We're the ones who create our own limitations. Watching these men inspires me to feel powerful and fearless in my next descent.

John and I are now at the very top of the mountain.  I quickly forget my fearless attitude when I see John wants to go down what seems a black diamond run.  "Oh! No, no absolutely no way, John.  That is at least a black diamond slope."  "No it's not," he says with a mischievous smile.  No sense in arguing so I throw myself blindly into the abyss.  I feel as if I am floating in the air; my knees bent rolling side to side at the speed of lighting.  John yells, "Don't drop your arms!" I'm distracted and I lose my balance. BAAAAM! The fall is brutal, but I know it will be just one of many. Each fall is harder than the previous one.  The soft, powder snow makes it difficult to get up, as my weakened limbs sink in deeper and deeper. Strangely enough, I feel becoming mentally stronger with each fall, even as my body is becomes progressive weaker.  But I know the drill by now.  I get up without complaining. After each fall there is a reward.  The thought of skiing on powder snow-a skier's dream- makes it worth getting up and continuing. When I am up and skiing I am in heaven.

John skis right behind me for a while, giving me instructions, and making sure I am OK.  Then he passes me like a flying arrow.  Now I am halfway down and know I can't quit.  I'm on my own, alone in the middle of nowhere.  Only John and I have skied this path, which is obviously too dangerous for most.  John has already reached the bottom.  However, I still have a long way to go.  The last stretch is the hardest but also the most fun.  When I finally reach the bottom John is waiting for me with a big smile.  I collapse.  I can't feel my arms and legs.  John says, "Look behind you, Ana."  I do.  "You just did a double black diamond."  He laughs.  My heart stops momentarily. "It's the hardest of all skiing trails," he continues.  "Only some of the best skiers would dare to do it."  For a moment, I hate him. How could he do that to me?  I look at him and see his pride showing and realize the wonderful friend that he is.  As difficult as it was, I had to admit it was one amazing run, something I would have never dared to do on my own.  And I love him for believing in me.

I tell John I have never fallen so many times before in my life, to which he responds, "That means you have never tried hard enough in your life.  You ski in your comfort zone, so you never get any better."  I think about what he's just said and conclude that he's right. I look behind at the mountain once again, and suddenly I see my entire life ahead of me.  We look at each other again and smile.  He knows he has just taught me one of the most important lessons in my life.  

Most of us take the easy run in life.  We're too scared to go for the double black diamond run . However, this is absolutely the only run worth taking, whether it is about career, love or health.  We may fall many times over, but each time we get back up we're stronger and we savor victory much more gratefully.  The path back to health may seem the biggest challenge yet taken.  It is a huge commitment but one much worth the risk taking because the reward that awaits is much sweeter than a Dunkin doughnut.

This Thanksgiving I gave thanks for the many milestones I have crossed and for the dreams that have come true in 2010.  But mostly I am grateful for my family, friends, colleagues and clients who have faith in me.  Those who have lovingly pushed me down the cliff knowing that although I may fall many times, simply believed in me, knowing that I would always make it down, fearlessly and triumphantly.  Thank you for waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain and for reminding me to look behind so I realize how far I've come.

With Gratitude,


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Raw Cocoa Toxic?

In my book The Yogurt Diet I recommend eating raw cacao for its well known health benefits; not only for weight loss and rejuvenation, but raw cacao also boosts energy and the immune system. However, there has recently been a wave of attacks towards this wonderful food.

Some of my readers are concerned with information they have stumbled upon on the internet regarding raw cacao. So in today's post I hope to answer this question: Is raw cacao toxic?

The simple answer is yes and no. So read on...

A mass amount of research goes behind everything I write about. I never recommend a certain food that happens to be all the rage at the moment. But rather, I track its history and research its use--throughout hundreds if not thousands of years-- and I investigate the latest scientific research about the product, and in who's interest is it that this product becomes a best seller.

Cacao is a fruit that grows in tropical climates (in the rainforest).  Botanically it is a berry.  What we eat, known as chocolate are the seeds of the cacao fruit.  The flesh of cacao is white and very sweet and delicious.  Honestly, this is one of the most sublime foods I have ever tasted.  However, the seeds (beans)--where the famed raw cacao comes from--are uneatable, with no other flavor than extreme bitterness.

So what makes cacao so delicious?  Fermentation!  Indeed, it is fermentation of the fruit by various types of microorganisms (bacteria and yeasts) that allow the seeds to acquire the amazing chocolate flavor we love so much.  A process similar to transforming grapes into wine, and bitter toxic olives into delicious bites.

Without the fermentation process the seeds are indeed toxic.  But once they are fermented they become super healthy, rich in antioxidants and a whole lot more!

The claims on the internet regarding the toxicity of raw cocoa beans are unfounded!  The people making these claims have no idea about the process cocoa beans must go through to acquire it's chocolaty flavor.  No company would ever sell cocoa straight from the fruit pod, as its flavor is most unappealing to any palate.
So what does the term raw cocoa mean?  It means that the seeds have gone through the process of fermentation (they're still raw) but they have not been roasted under high temperatures for a long time. Cocoa seeds may be roasted at low temperatures and still be called raw cocoa.

Recent research studies have shown a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.  Interesting that similar claims are attributed to wine and also yogurt... hum?  All fermented foods, high in probioitcs.  Is this telling us something?  We should include probiotic rich foods in our diet to prevent disease and delay aging.

Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.  Raw cocoa has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world!  The ORAC score per 100 gr of raw cacao in 28,000.

BUT... I must warn you!  There are some people who are allergic to cocoa.  It is encoded in part of the person's genes.  However, with the new state of the art Nutribiotica testing we can identify this gene and with diet reverse the condition. 

Start enjoying raw cocoa and dark chocolate fully.  Salud!

To send your taste buds to another stratosphere, try  Artisana's Cacao Bliss

My favorite collection of dark chocolates is Dr. Dave's Mega-O. Rich in antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


No, this is not the name of the newest pair of hot designer jeans promising to squeeze you into a waist size 26 or 30.

Who doesn't dream of having a sexy flat belly?  Whether it's doing 300 crunches a day, filling up on weight loss potions or even going under the knife... But did you ever consider ingesting "belly-fat scavenging bacteria?"  Yes, this is the newest trend!

A study from Japan, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (June, 2010), shows that Lactobacillus, the same type of live bacteria used to make yogurt - and part of the normal human gut flora - has been found to contain genes that are beneficial in the regulation of abdominal fat in individuals with a tendency to put on weight.

In the study scientists evaluated the effects of a probiotic strain of Lactobacillus on abdominal fat, body weight and other body measures in adults with weight problems over a period of 12 weeks.  The subjects significantly decreased belly fat by an average of 4.6%.  Body weight and other measures also decreased significantly, suggesting the bacteria's beneficial influence on weight loss. 

Studies show that the gut microbiota in obese humans differ from those in lean individuals, with those who are overweight having a much lower count of species from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera. The genes present in these microbes are crucial for body weight regulation and may well be a factor in the obesity epidemic.

Dietary and environmental factors in Western nations show that microbial ecology may function as a predisposing genetic factor for obesity.  Differences in a recipient's body fat is dependent on the species of the colonizing flora and it is the diversity in the microbiota that may contribute to subsequent fat storage.

The intriguing question, then, is do we consider addressing the gut microbiota to treat weight problems, as opposed to a drug-based or calorie counting approach?

Nutribiotica's state of the art testing system can identify the types of bacteria and viruses inhabiting an individual's body and, thanks to this information, we are able to design a specific diet aimed at the growth of beneficial organisms for the human body. These organisms can help the individual to lose weight and starve the pathogens that cause weight gain and disease.

Start the day by eating yogurt, one of the best natural sources of Lactobacillus.  And consider getting tested to find out if a bacterial imbalance or virus may be lurking among your cells, preventing your genes from getting into those hot and sexy designer jeans.

I look forward to your questions and comments.



Friday, October 8, 2010

U.S. Apologizes for 'Reprehensible' 1940s Syphilis Study in Guatemala


HEALTH -- October 1, 2010 at 6:12 PM EDT

U.S. Apologizes for 'Reprehensible' 1940s Syphilis Study in Guatemala

U.S. officials apologized Friday for unethical medical experiments conducted in Guatemala more than 60 years ago, in which prison inmates were deliberately infected with syphilis.
The experiments were conducted between 1946 and 1948 by Dr. John C. Cutler, a U.S. public health service doctor who was also involved in the infamous Tuskegee syphilis study in the United States.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a joint statement apologizing for the experiments:
"The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical. Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices."
The history of the Guatemala study was uncovered by Wellesley College professor Susan Reverby, a medical historian who has written two books about the Tuskegee case, in which black men with syphilis were observed -- but not treated -- by U.S. government researchers for nearly 40 years. Reverby was reading Cutler's papers in an archive at the University of Pittsburgh, looking for references to the Tuskegee study, when she came across descriptions of the experiments in Guatemala.
"So I started to read it, and I said, 'Oh my god,'" Reverby says.
In the study, the researchers were investigating whether penicillin -- which was already being used to treat syphilis -- could prevent the disease if it was administered right after someone was exposed to the bacteria.
The researchers exposed hundreds of people in Guatemala to the disease. Many were men who were prison inmates, others were residents of an army barracks and mental hospital. None of the subjects were asked for their consent. The researchers used visits with prostitutes who were infected with syphilis to expose the men to the disease (such visits were legal in Guatemala at the time). They also, Reverby writes, "used direct inoculations made from syphilis bacteria poured into the men's penises and on forearms and faces that were slightly abraded when the 'normal exposure' produced little disease."
They did treat the people with penicillin afterwards, but, Reverby writes, it's not clear whether everyone was cured, or even whether they received what would have been considered adequate treatment.
The Guatemala experiment differed from the Tuskegee case, Reverby says, because people were actually exposed to the disease and then treated, instead of being denied access to treatment for a disease that they already had, as happened in the Tuskegee case.
Even within the context of the much more lax research ethics standards of the time, Reverby says, the research "fell off the edge" of what was acceptable.
"Even within the context of history, this was something they shouldn't have been doing -- and they knew that," Reverby said. In fact, she cites a letter in which Surgeon General Thomas Parran said "You know, we couldn't do such an experiment in this country."
Reverby presented her findings at a medical history association meeting in May, and also wrote them up for publication -- they'll be published in January in the Journal of Policy History, but a pre-publication version of the four-page paper is available on Reverby's website.
The government got involved in the spring, when Reverby showed the paper to David Sencer, a retired director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention whom she knew from her research on the Tuskegee experiment's history. Sencer passed it on to current CDC officials, and the agency sent a syphilis specialist to examine the papers in the University of Pittsburgh archive. That specialist confirmed the accuracy of Reverby's report.
Now, the government, in addition to issuing its apology, will also convene a panel of independent experts through the National Academies of Sciences Institute of Medicine to conduct a fact-finding probe of the events in Guatemala.
And Sofia Porres, of the Guatemalan Embassy, told the Washington Post that the Guatemalan government would also investigate. "We of course are very upset about this, and we think it's a very unfortunate event," she said. "We're going to do an investigation as well to see if there are any survivors, family, etc."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

You're More Bacteria Than You're Human!

Did you know that the human body is made up of 100 trillion cells? Surprisingly, 90 per cent of these are actually bacterial cells, not human!

Yes, when it comes down to the cellular level you're just a bunch of microbes piled up together looking pretty.

All joking aside, the great news about this data is that we're finally discovering new ways to treat chronic illnesses successfully, rather than the many hit-or-miss treatments that have come and gone over the past 100 years. Thus, a new paradigm is emerging in the medical and nutrition fields.

Most of the bacteria in the body live in the gastrointestinal tract - especially in your gut - and are healthy, helpful organisms that live a symbiotic relationship with you, the host. These microorganisms make up 90 percent of your genes and DNA - outnumbering your own DNA by a huge number - and they are responsible for regulating digestion and intestinal function, protecting against infections, stabilizing immune function, controlling obesity, and even producing essential nutrients such as vitamins and essential fatty acids while also assisting in the absorption of minerals.

Western medicine trained doctors identify diseases by the location and severity of the symptoms. Obesity is related to a metabolic problem; acne to a problem with the skin; ADD is a psychological problem; allergies are a problem of the immune system; and diabetes a failing pancreas. This is all accurate. However, it doesn't tell us the origin of the problem and the imbalance usually remains, just patched up temporarily with medication, while eventually other symptoms will emerge.

The new paradigm within the most forward thinking members of the medical community agrees with what I have been saying for years. First we find the root of the health imbalance and we treat it with healthy food, nutrition, sun and water, thus addressing the cause instead of the symptom.

The past year has been extremely busy and rewarding. As more research comes to light, I am excited to bring more answers to you. The result of all the hard work is finally here.

The Salud Life Wellness Institute is launching Nutrtibiotica, a groundbreaking nutrition system based on an individual's unique composition of genes, microbiota and antibodies present in the body.

Nutribiotica provides diagnostic and therapeutic opportunities based upon personalized nutrition, where diet is matched to an individual's microbiome.

Blood and stool tests can tell us the composition of your body's ecosystem and give us answers to why you have developed these symptoms and then target them with a personalized diet and supplements. The results are astonishing!

The cause of many symptoms such as allergies, acne, autoimmune diseases, weight gain, migraine headaches, arthritis, depression, OCD, ADD, digestive problems; and sugar, food and alcohol addiction, can be traced back to an imbalance of the microbial community you harbor in your gut.

The number one approach and priority to treat these conditions is normalizing gut function and digestion and boosting the immune system. If you suffer from any of these ailments you most likely have allergies to foods and exposure to environmental factors you're not aware of.

Yes, it takes time. There is no miracle cure. But the guarantees of getting your health back are closer than you think, lurking deep within your gut!