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Vitamin D: Preconception

Vitamin D: Preconception

When I first started talking about vitamin D a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I will also share with you specific information on this nutrient within the context of fertility health. One of these reasons is because it plays an essential role in preconception and early pregnancy as it is needed to support embryo implantation and pregnancy viability. If planning to or trying to conceive enjoy lots of vitamin D rich foods, take a high quality prenatal with vitamin D3, and of course, make sure you get your sunshine! Ideally we can spend about 20 minutes a day in the sun. Midday sun is the best time to absorb your vitamin D. And it’s definitely worth getting your vitamin D status checked. Since we get about 90% of our vitamin D from the sun, winter time can often lead to deficiency. And there are also many cofactors needed for the absorption of vitamin D. (This goes for everyone, not just those trying to conceive.) If you find yourself deficient, after getting some sun, if possible, supplementation with a high quality vitamin D3 is often needed. Cofactors involved in our absorption of vitamin D include vitamin K2 since it works with vitamin D to maintain proper calcium status in our blood. As well as K2, adequate zinc and magnesium are necessary for proper vitamin D absorption. Next time I will share with you specifics on vitamin D within pregnancy!

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Nutrient

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Nutrient

Vitamin D plays crucial roles in the body! It regulates hundreds of genes throughout the body and maintains healthy bones, muscles, teeth, immune system, cardiovascular system, balanced mood, and cognitive function. For this reason vitamin D is not only vital for maintaining health but also building life! From mamas to be who are planning to conceive, pregnant mamas with little ones growing inside, and postpartum mamas who are breast-feeding it is essential to be well stocked on this vitamin! Top sources include sunshine (ideally this is where we get about 90% of our intake); cod liver oil; cod livers; fish/seafood in general, and trout in particular; organ meats, particularly liver and kidney, from pasteurized animal; lard from pasture raised pigs; pasture raised chicken, duck, and goose with the skin; dairy fats from pasture raised animals; egg yolks from pasture raised eggs; and sunshine! It’s important that we make sure we are getting enough from sunshine, food, and supplement. For this reason, it’s good to get a vitamin D tested from time to time to check in on your levels. Though some people will have no symptoms of deficiency, common signs to look for include: – Frequent infection or illness – Fatigue and tiredness – Bone, back, or muscle pain – Depression or anxiety – Poor wound healing – Bone or hair loss – Weight Gain Fun fact: did you know that while “vitamin D” is referred to as a “fat soluble vitamin” it is technically a prohormone (a precursor or building block of a hormone.) As you can see, we all know we need optimum Vitamin D levels! Look for my upcoming posts sharing how much you should aim to consume in general, during preconception, pregnancy and postpartum.

Our Precious Surprise!

Our Precious Surprise!

Things have been very quiet at Thriving Health but busy and exciting for the Boyuk family! Last week we had big…and very precious…surprise! Baby decided to come early! My water broke Monday morning, labor started late that afternoon, and at 12:40am new life entered the world! Zhana Ellen Boyuk was born Tuesday, January 11th at 4lbs 11oz. She was just 34 weeks old! Zhana means “God is gracious.” We chose this name long before we knew that God would pour out His amazing grace through this little girl. He gave Pavel and I grace for Zhana’s early arrival which meant a hospital birth instead of a planned home birth. God gave me grace to have a truly amazing labor and delivery–intense, fast, and all natural. And He poured out His love by giving Zhana grace to be healthy and strong at 34 weeks. We are soaking in every moment with this little one–-6 weeks earlier than anticipated. Motherhood is a blessing that has changed my life forever. Next week I will share a little more of Zhana’s birth story and the events of her first week of life as a preemie It was an amazing learning experience for me as a nutritional therapist supporting couples in prenatal and postpartum health. I hope you’ll enjoy joining me as I share this journey!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

I made these moist paleo approved muffins for our Thanksgiving meal. And they were quite a hit with the family! Recipe makes 12 Muffins INGREDIENTS For the Muffins 8 large eggs 1 cup pure pumpkin puree 8 tablespoon unsalted butter or coconut oil melted and slightly cooled 2/3 cup coconut sugar 4 teaspoons vanilla extract 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon 3/4 cup coconut flour 2 teaspoon baking powder Cream Cheese Filling 6 oz cream cheese room temperature 1 tsp vanilla 1/4 tsp pure monk fruit extract* INSTRUCTIONS Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 muffin cups with cupcake liners.** In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, pumpkin puree, melted butter, coconut sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk in the coconut flour, mixing patiently until very smooth. Finally, mix in the baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine and mix cream cheese filling. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Add a dollop of cream cheese to the center of the muffin batter. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 22-25 minutes Transfer the muffins to a cooling rack and cool completely before enjoying. Texture improves when they reach room temperature. *Here is the brand of monk fruit I prefer: https://www.amazon.com/Fruit-Servings-Paleo-Sugar-Sweetener/dp/B01DMCMO7O/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=pure+monk&qid=1638887286&sr=8-5 **My favorite natural cupcake liners: https://www.amazon.com/Gifbera-Odorless-Standard-Greaseproof-200-Count/dp/B07V7G5919/ref=sr_1_6?crid=3P04W0CKSBQDZ&keywords=non%2Bbleached%2Bmuffin%2Bliners&qid=1638886942&sprefix=no%2Bbleached%2Bmuffin%2Caps%2C196&sr=8-6&th=1

Thriving Recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Thriving Recipe: Stuffed Pepper Casserole

When you need dinner to be a little more simple, turn a classic into a casserole. It still tastes delicious! Ingredients: 1 tbsp. cooking oil (butter, ghee, or coconut oil.) 1 1/2 pound ground beef 1 large yellow onion 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning (or I just use a few tsp of oregano, basil and parsley) 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon Himalayan salt 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper 3 cloves garlic 2 cups bell peppers 2 cups water 1 cup diced tomatoes 8-ounce sugar free spaghetti sauce 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 cup uncooked brown rice 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese For serving: top with chopped parsley Instructions: In a Dutch oven or similar deep, sturdy pot, heat the oil over medium high. Add the beef and onion. Cook and stir until it is browned and fully cooked through and the onion is tender, about 7 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, cumin, salt, pepper, and garlic. Stir and cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add peppers, water, tomatoes, tomato sauce, vinegar and rice. Stir to evenly combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover the pot and let cook 40-45 minutes. (Stir occasionally.) Remove the pot from the heat. Uncover and stir. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Don’t worry if it’s still a little liquidy. It will continue to thicken and the liquid will further absorb as it sits. Sprinkle the cheese over the top then recover. Let sit off the heat for 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted, the rice is tender. Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh cilantro or parsley. If you have questions or comments for Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Maria Boyuk, contact her at thrivinghealthNY.com.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: The Woman's Herb

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea: The Woman's Herb

This amazing leaf has SO many benefits for women preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum. It is often focused on during pregnancy because of it's toning effects on the uterus. Because of this, red raspberry leaf tea is generally recommended for 2nd and 3rd trimester, and avoided during the 1st because toning the uterus prematurely can cause contractions and miscarriage. HOW MUCH? 1 cup daily during the second trimester and increase to 2-3 cups during the third trimester, with your midwife or doctor's approval. Some women will drink an even higher amount and more concentrated dose the week of their labor for optimal results! BENEFITS: Red raspberry leaf tea helps shorten labor and results in fewer medical interventions, including cesarean. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10754818/ Red raspberry leaf, in the capsule form, helped to shorten second stage of labor (marginally) and reduce the need for forceps delivery. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11370690/ Additionally, the the uterus needs a lot of vitamins and minerals to function properly and red raspberry leaf tea offers a great profile of them. Red raspberry leaf is rich in vitamins and minerals, containing vitamins C, and certain antioxidants. One of those antioxidants is called "rutin" which helps to reduce inflammation. * BONUS: Red raspberry leaf tea is not exclusively for women! It is great for men's prostate health and has been shown to lower unhealthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels, as well as to treat acne, adrenal fatigue, sore throat, canker sores, and cold and fevers. RECIPES: Check out Mama Natural's favorite recipes for this amazing leaf! https://www.mamanatural.com/red-raspberry-leaf-tea-recipes/ *Pavlovi, Aleksandra V., et al. "Phenolics composition of leaf extracts of raspberry and blackberry cultivars grown in Serbia." Industrial Crops and Products 81 (2016): 304-314

Gut Connection to Oral Health

Gut Connection to Oral Health

Did you know that there is a direct link between your digestive health and oral health? Many functional dentists (dentists that use more holistic health practices and understand the function of the body rather than only treating topical symptoms) can detect digestive issues by looking at the mouth and likewise predict oral complications due to existing digestive issues. In order to heal one we must heal the other. As you know from many of my articles, digestion is fundamental to the health of the entire body. However, this connection between gut and oral health is unique specifically because the mouth microbiome is linked to the gut microbiome. Microbiome is a complex network of microbes that work together to digest food and communicate with our immune system about foreign or invasive bacteria, viruses, etc. (About 80% of our immune system is located within our digestive tract.) We have microbes in our mouth that start this job and pass into the gut where trillions of microbes (primarily in our large intestine) complete the work. Unfortunately, our microbiome can be damaged by many offenders. For example, processed foods high in sugar and starches can feed yeast in our gut and cause overgrowth. They can also impair our bodies ability to produce adequate enzymes and stomach acid which results in an overgrowth of pathogens and poorly digested foods. Lack of fiber in our diet starves good bacteria in the large intestine and leaves them without the ability to repair our gut walls. These all can lead to a host of gut issues which spiralize to other chronic health concerns. All this to say, if you can relate to any of the digestive issues described above, your oral health is impacted! If you are not struggling with evidence of oral dysfunction, be advised this digestive dysfunction puts a big stressor on your mouth. However, if you have wrestled with oral issues, despite good hygiene habits such as brushing your teeth 2-3 times daily, flossing daily, regular dental visits, etc. but still have issues, it is time to also give some love to your gut! What should you do? A huge first step is to remove the offenders such as sugar and processed starches. Then begin replacing them with nourishing whole foods. This is the first simple step --although a huge lifestyle change for many. The second can be more complex depending on your individual body. When I support clients on their digestion, it is a process of determining the best protocol for them. If they have any irritable bowel issues, fiber might exacerbate the problem. If there is an overgrowth in bacteria, it may require specific probiotic strains to balance the microbiome. But incredibly, God designed our bodies to heal and repair, and it is possible to see transformation within both your digestion and oral health! Please reach out for support or to share your journey of oral and digestive health if you can relate. I always love to hear from my readers!

Thriving Recipe: Bentonite Clay Toothpaste

Thriving Recipe: Bentonite Clay Toothpaste

Last week I dove into the topic of oral health. With a specific consideration for pregnancy due to the increase in bacteria and gum issues caused by ovarian hormones. This week, I am sharing with you a DIY toothpaste recipe that can elevate your dental routine. The original recipe is from my dentist at Contemporary Dentistry in Rochester, NY. (www.dentistrywithaheart.com) I try to use this toothpaste a minimum of once a day and the other times I brush I use Dr. Bronners peppermint toothpaste. Not only is this recipe free of chemicals and processed flavors, but the ingredients are loaded with nutrients that protect your mouth from inflammation and cavities while adding minerals to heal and repair current concerns. Here is a break down: Coconut oil has antimicrobial properties that can help balance the gut microbiome--which are directly impacting the microbiome (balance of healthy bacteria) in our mouth. Bentonite clay is rich in minerals needed to maintain the integrity of our teeth, it hels to alkalize the pH of our mouth, and it polishes without being too abrasive. (We will discuss tooth remineralization in an upcoming article.) Baking soda is antimicrobial and helps to alkalize the pH of our mouth. Neem oil is anti-fungal, anti-microbial, disrupts plaque production, and is found to be effective in addressing gingivitis. Thieves essential oil blend is antimicrobial and immune boosting. Bentonite Clay Toothpaste ½ Tbsp Bentonite Clay 2 Tbsp. Distilled Water 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Coconut Oil 2 tsp Baking Soda 5-10 Drops of Neem oil (you can also use Peppermint essential oil or Thieves essential oil blend.) Organic Xylitol to taste Mix water and clay to form a paste, then add all the other ingredients together. Mix and put into a small jar-do not let it contact metal. Coconut oil hardens at room temperature and melts to liquid at 76 degrees. You may have to play with the consistency to get a smooth paste.

Oral Health During Pregnancy

Oral Health During Pregnancy

Did you know that rising hormones during pregnancy can cause a woman to experience a host of dental concerns? Yep, among the many other things pregnancy demands there is a need to give extra loving care to oral health! Rising ovarian hormones, estrogen and progesterone cause the body to produce more bacteria in the mouth which increases the risk of gingivitis (inflamed gums) and cavities.[1] (Oral contraceptives have also been studied to have this same hormonal impact.) Common pregnancy symptoms include tooth sensitivity, overall swelling, and bleeding of the gums, and the arrival of cavities. Not only is it important for the woman to maintain healthy teeth and gums for her own health, but baby's health is a factor as studies have found that oral bacteria can find its way into the amniotic fluid which can lead to premature childbirth. So what is a momma to do? I went into pregnancy knowing these “fun facts” about an increase in bacteria during pregnancy. So, I made it my goal to stay on top of brushing and flossing. A recent trip to the dentist revealed that to my dismay, those lovely hormones are still causing a small level of inflammation, putting me at risk for pregnancy gingivitis. (Thankfully I am still cavity free! Yay!) So, to prevent gingivitis, I am pulling out all the tricks to nourish and pamper my mouth these final four months of my pregnancy so that baby and I can finish strong. First and foremost a nutrient dense diet is the foundation for optimal oral health. Do you remember our recent discussion on Dr. Weston A. Price, the dentist who investigated the link between industrialized foods and poor oral health. He found that a diet free from processed foods not only prevented the modern diseases of the day such as heart disease, cancer, and obesity. But also prevented cavities, tooth decay, overcrowding of teeth in children, and other dental concerns. Not only does a nutrient dense diet eliminate sugar, which is a huge culprit because it feeds bacteria, but this diet provides amazing vitamins, minerals, and antioidants to strengthen the mouth and prevent oral disease. Secondly, flossing and brushing regularly after meals, ideally three times daily, is also important. And I have found that I tend to be a speed flosser. Maybe you can relate? Taking our time to do a thorough job flossing and brushing is key. As a bonus, using an electric toothbrush and water pik are tools that can elevate your oral routine. These are the basics, but interestingly there are a few more things to understand when it comes to oral health and they are relevant for every season of life, from childhood to late adulthood. So, I want to take some time to provide you with more articles on oral health. May they leave you inspired to eat healthier options and prioritize your pearly whites. Topics I plan to cover include the following list: Recipe: Bentonite Clay Toothpaste Gut Connection to Oral Health Fluoride: Is it Healthy? Remineralizing and Reversing Tooth Decay Breastfeeding Benefits for Baby’s Oral Health As we begin this focus, I would love to hear if you have specific questions I can cover or oral health topics you would love to learn about! [1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8372477/

Spaghetti Squash w/Chicken Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash w/Chicken Alfredo

Spaghetti Squash w/Chicken Alfredo This dish calls for the magic of spaghetti squash…that non-starchy vegetable that, when baked, pulls apart like pasta! Yes, it tastes different than pasta. But it is still delicious and fun! Ingredients: 1 medium spaghetti squash 2lbs chicken thighs 1 tsp oregano salt and pepper to taste olive oil butter fresh parsley Alfredo Sauce 1 cup coconut milk 2 Tbsp nutritionist yeast Salt and pepper to taste 1 Tbsp lemon juice 1 clove garlic minced 1 Tbsp of arrowroot starch To make this dinner. Cut spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds, season with salt, pepper and drizzle of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook chicken in saucepan on medium heat in “heat safe” oil—butter, coconut oil, ghee. Season each side with salt, pepper, oregano. For your Alfredo sauce add coconut milk, nutritionist yeast, salt, pepper, lemon juice, garlic, and arrowroot starch to thicken. Heat on low until hot and slightly thickened. Once squash is baked, use a fork to scrape the “spaghetti” strands from the squash and place in a serving bowl. Top with the Alfredo sauce and chicken, then garnish with parsley as desired. Enjoy!

Pregnancy Nutrition: Optimizing Health for Momma and Baby

Pregnancy Nutrition: Optimizing Health for Momma and Baby

This Saturday I hit the 20 week mark for my pregnancy. It feels so good to be halfway there! I couldn’t be more thankful for this little one inside me. While I am SO eager to welcome baby into our arms, I am cherishing this pregnancy and the miracle of a human nestled inside mommy. And praise God I am feeling healthy and strong! That definitely makes this pregnancy easier. Just like with any task we ask our body to perform, the health of pregnancy is optimized when given the proper environment of diet, exercise, and lifestyle. For this reason I have started to work with more clients on fertility nutrition--nutrition for preconception, prenatal, and postpartum health. Now that I am pregnant myself, it is quite the bonus to my clinical practice to be able to experience and practice what I teach. The first step to a healthy pregnancy diet is, perhaps surprisingly, the same as for every individual regardless of the season of life: to eat healthy whole foods. The elimination of processed foods is healing to momma’s digestion and blood sugar handling systems which already have to work harder during pregnancy. It also reduces toxins a baby is exposed to in the womb. The focus on whole foods then increases the nutrient density of those foods. This leads to the second step: Momma does not need to focus so much on eating more quantity but more quality. The micro-nutrient demand during pregnancy increases for momma as she builds a baby….and an iron rich placenta. This means more vitamins and minerals like choline, folate, b vitamins, and more. While there is much more to it, the basics of a healthy pregnancy diet are absolutely a foundation in whole foods. Because fertility nutrition is increasingly my focus as a practitioner, you can expect more and more content on this subject. Of course I will also continue sharing my recipes, general health tips, and lifestyle inspirations. My hope is that this new content will inspire you to value investing into the health and wellness of every generation.

Local Spotlights: Quail Eggs

Local Spotlights: Quail Eggs

Quality nutrition is so important for healing and maintaining our physical body. Embracing this stewardship is my passion as a nutritional therapist. However, when quality nutrition also builds community and local economy, holistic health is truly cultivated. This makes me even more ecstatic! Therefore, this will be my first of many articles spotlighting what our local community has to offer--which I will share from time to time! This last week, my diet was exotically broadened with the introduction of some nutritional dynamite: quail eggs! Unknowingly, the adventure was in the making when Kristina Snyder, of Sunny Cove Farm, hatched quail eggs from her home this winter. I had the delight of seeing the chicks at different stages of growth. They were quite cute! Soon, her family was enjoying the “fruit” of their labor! Content with my chicken eggs from the Sunny Cove store, it did not occur to me to try her quail eggs. However, that all changed this last week when she personally offered me some of her new est product! I had never tried a quail egg, and was quite surprised by how tiny they are! Honestly, my first thought was, “how impractical!” I’d yet to realize the gift I was given. There are many ways to eat the quail egg. For my first try, I decided to go with the height of nutritional advantage. A local Ukrainian friend, Pavel, educated me on the methods of how to eat a raw quail egg. This is the tradition in his culture as it is recognized that all the nutrients are preserved by not cooking the egg. Although nervous about the texture, I proceeded. No worries! A mild sweet flavor, much like the yolk of a soft-boiled chicken egg. It was delightful and I felt nourished. It’s not all in my head! After this new experience, I decided to do some research. Truly, every sustainably raised egg (chicken, duck, quail, etc.) deserves a five-star rating for nutrition. For example, all of these eggs contain high levels of vitamin A, D, B12, selenium, protein and fat--making them a great food for vision and blood sugar handling among other things. However, the quail egg has some unique treasures. The origin of quail egg consumption can be traced back to Egyptian and Chinese medicines, when it was used to fight respiratory diseases and general immune conditions. This practice soon spread to other Asian cultures--Japan is known for feeding their children 2 quail eggs for a school breakfast. The eggs are also prized in European countries-- I mentioned the Ukrainian traditions shared with me by Pavel, and they are quite common in some South American countries where they are typically served hard boiled. So, what sets the quail egg apart from other eggs? Above, I termed the egg “dynamite” because when comparing quail eggs to chicken eggs, one quail egg contains six times more vitamin B1 and fifteen times more vitamin B2. Also, between 1960-1980, two physicians, Dr. Truffier and Dr. Lucotte conducted separate studies of therapeutic doses of quail eggs which resulted in profound ‘cures’ of asthma and allergies. (Supporting their historical use in Egypt and China.) This is the result of unique enzymes in the egg white which inhibit trypsin (a protein which causes allergies.) And what about eating quail eggs raw? Well, you certainly can enjoy them prepared any way you would cook a chicken egg. However, unlike chicken eggs, quail eggs contain little to no Salmonella due to an increased amount of lysozyme--an enzyme that kills bacteria. So, if you trust the source of the egg and it is fresh, you can enjoy all these nutrients raw! Best of all, I don’t have to travel far to find more eggs, thanks to our new local supplier! You could say, two to three quail eggs keep the doctor away! I just may find out as I incorporate this delicious “super-food” into my regular diet. Douglas, Alexandra Teodozja. Coturnix Revolution: The Success in Keeping the Versatile Coturnix: Everything You Need to Know about the Japanese Quail. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.