Plastics Chemical Tied to Increased Blood Pressure

By Shayna Robinson, MSPT, PhD

There’s a new blood pressure trigger in town, folks.

Thought if you exercised and ate right you could prevent heart disease? Turns out research is piling up against more chemicals found in plastics. The latest study adds further credence to a growing concern that plastic chemicals not only throw off hormones and cause obesity but also cause oxidative stress internally on major organs within the body.

Researchers from New York University’s Langone Medical Center, the University of Washington, and the Penn State School of Medicine recently made a first-of-its kind connection between phthalates, a common chemical used to soften plastic, and higher blood pressure in children and teens. The study appeared in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Similarly, BPA has been shown to trigger abnormal heart rhythms.

9 Ways to Dodge Phthalates (DEHP):


Sugar, Sugar

Think a can of Coke here and there can’t hurt you? Think again.

The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than 6 tsp and men no more than 9 tsp.

Guess how much is in a can of Coke? 13tsp.

Check out The Center for Science in the Public Interest website for more great dietary nutritional information.


60 Second Healthy MicroWork

Sometimes getting healthy means making a major time investment at the gym or eating really healthy for a month straight. But sometimes you can make bigger broader strides by making small changes. I call this MicroWork. Check out my own personal set of MicroWork; 18 little opportunities a day to make a change.


Studies have shown changing small habits can help you achieve your goals faster. You should have a long term goal and small short term goals, with sets of habits you can change and check off. These ground rules have a lasting impact on your overall success in any future goals too.

When The Change The Benefit
When you get out of bed Stand up and stretch your hamstrings for 30 sec 27% increase in flexibility in 6 weeks
Before you brush your teeth Take a baby aspirin 20% reduced risk of breast cancer in women who take one a day
At breakfast Take a daily vitamin 19% reduced risk of getting sick. When you take daily vitamins, you support your immune system
At the office Walk to talk to your co-workers, instead of emailing More than 1lb of weight lost per year by taking an extra 4-5k steps per day
With every meal Drink ice water 1lb lost every 8 weeks


The Individualist Diet

For most of your life, you’ve probably had an image of what your body should look and how you should achieve that image. Everyday our interactions with the world breed a certain notion about “normalcy” and beauty. The more airbrushed images we see, for instance, the more we begin to believe that’s how a “normal” person should look.

But the truth is, you should examine your body based on your own individualistic set of factors. You are not your neighbor, and your neighbor is not you. We all have different shapes, sizes, body types, metabolisms, diets, etc., that all influence how we look.

Body image is an important topic to discuss in personal coaching because the psychological aspect of how we see ourselves can often influence our health. If you see yourself as imperfect and struggle to achieve a facade of reality, you may never attain that goal and that can decrease your confidence in achieving other life goals. It also can inhibit your enjoyment of food and healthy relationships with others. Food, exercise and how you look should never be a stressful endeavor. It should feel right. You should feel right.

I’ve created some guidelines to review in your own personal quest for the individualistic diet. These are encompassing rules that shed light on how you should really feel that create a healthy self image. Choose reality based solutions based on how you want to feel. Unhealthy runway models, steroid induced professional athletes, airbrushed magazine covers and celebrities (who, quite frankly, have an advanced team of practitioners taking care of them) shouldn’t dictate your personal health.

The Individualist Diet:

1. Eat Six Meals A Day

Researchers at Georgia State University found that if you keep your hourly surplus or deficit within 300 calories at all times, you’ll regulate your blood sugar levels and regulate insulin better. Insulin is the hormone that stores fat. When your blood sugar drops in your body for a long period of time (as in very heavy exercise or lack of food for extended periods), the next meal you take in spikes your insulin which works to enhance storage of glucose and suppress the breakdown of adipose tissue, or fat, into free fatty acids.

2. Eat Foods That Swap Fat For Muscle

Donald Layman, Ph.D.6, from the University of Illinois, published research on protein consumption for fat loss. Results show that a high protein, leucine rich diet, in combination with lower carbohydrates (150 grams or 600 calories per day) is effective to support weight loss, blood sugar metabolism, and a variety of factors that have an impact on cardiovascular health. Leucine has a direct signaling effect on muscle that prevents muscle loss during weight loss. This means that on a high protein diet, the weight that is lost is mostly fat, not muscle. Whereas on a high carbohydrate weight loss diet, much more muscle is lost.

Choose 2-3 of these foods in each of your 3 major meals and at least one of the foods in each of your 3 snacks

Greek yogurt (Fage 0%), berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), leafy greens (spinach, sprouts), lean meats and fish (chicken breast, salmon), nuts (almonds, walnuts), colorful vegetables (red peppers, broccoli, sweet potatoes), oatmeal (steel cut preferred).

3. Know


10 Foods You Should Never Eat

If you don’t already know what’s slowing you down, it may be in what you eat. Groceries stores can quickly become the enemy when they sell you pesticide covered fruits and vegetables, genetically modified organisms, and synthetically produced goods full of chemicals for preservatives. Check out this list of things you should always avoid:

1. Nonorganic Strawberries

Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc. and founder of

The Problem: While filming Food Inc., Kenner says he wanted to film strawberry farmers applying pesticides to their fields. “The workers wear these suits to protect themselves from the dozens and dozens of known dangerous pesticides applied to strawberries,” he says. “When I saw this, I thought to myself, if this is how berries are grown, I don’t really want to eat them anymore. I haven’t been able to eat a nonorganic strawberry ever since.” Unfortunately, for the food-concerned public, he wasn’t able to get the shot of these farmers. “I guess they didn’t think it looked too appetizing.”

The Solution: Opt for organic! The Environmental Working Group, which analyzes U.S. Department of Agriculture pesticide-residue data, has found 13 different pesticide residues on chemically grown strawberries.

2. Diet Soda

Isaac Eliaz, MD, integrative health expert and founder of The Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, CA

The Problem: Dr. Eliaz stays away from any diet soda or foods, sugar-free candies, and gum containing artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others. “The safety data on these sweeteners is shrouded in controversy and conflicts of interest with the manufacturers of these chemical compounds,” Dr. Eliaz warns. “Independent research strongly suggests that when metabolized in the body, these sweeteners can cause health-related issues and problems related to metabolism and weight gain, neurological diseases, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, chemical toxicity, and cancer, among others.”

The Solution: If you’re craving a soda but want to avoid the shady sweeteners, fake food dyes, and preservatives found in popular brands, try a bottle of Steaz zero-calorie green tea soda or Bionade, a fermented soda that’s majorly popular in Europe.

3. Anything from McDonald’s

Joel Salatin, sustainable farmer and author of This Ain’t Normal, Folks

The Problem: McDonald’s isn’t just about food-it’s about food mentality, according to Salatin. “It represents the pinnacle of factory-farming and industrial food,” he says. “The economic model is utterly dependent on stockholders looking for dividends without regards to farm profitability or soil development.”

Fast food typically is loaded with all sorts of the ingredients mentioned earlier in our list-genetically engineered corn, food dyes, artificial sweeteners, and other bad actors in the food supply. The type of farming that supports this type of food business relies on harmful chemicals that not only threaten human health, but also soil health.

The Solution: Learn to cook! You might be surprised to find that paying extra up front for a pasture-raised chicken can be cheaper than buying prepared fast-food chicken. For instance, cooking a chicken and then boiling down the bones for a rich, disease-fighting stock can yield up to three meals for a family! (Here’s how to make homemade stock.) Find sustainable farmers at

4. Canned Tomatoes

Frederick vom Saal, PhD, professor of biological sciences at the University of Missouri

The Problem: The resin linings of tin cans contain bisphenol-A, or BPA, a synthetic estrogen that has been linked to ailments ranging from reproductive problems to heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Studies show that the BPA in most people’s bodies exceeds the amount that suppresses sperm production or causes chromosomal damage to the eggs of animals. “You can get 50 micrograms of BPA per liter out of a tomato can, and that’s a level that is going to impact people, particularly the young,” says vom Saal. “I won’t go near canned tomatoes.”

The Solution: Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Eden Organic and Bionaturae. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, such as Trader Joe’s and Pomi.

5. Bread

William Davis, MD, cardiologist and author of the New York Times best-seller Wheat Belly

The Problem: Modern wheat is nothing like the grain your mother or grandmother consumed. Today, wheat barely resembles its original form, thanks to extensive genetic manipulations of the 1960s and ’70s to increase yields. “You cannot change the basic characteristics of a plant without changing its genetics, biochemistry, and its effects on humans who consume it,” Dr. Davis notes.

In his book, Dr. Davis makes the case that modern-day wheat is triggering all sorts of health problems, everything from digestive diseases like celiac and inflammatory bowel disease to acid reflux, obesity, asthma, and skin disorders. “If there is a food that yields extravagant, extraordinary, and unexpected benefits when avoided, it is bread,” says Dr. Davis. “And I don’t mean white bread; I mean all bread: white, whole wheat, whole grain, sprouted, organic, French, Italian, fresh, day-old


Five 50-Calorie (or less!) After-Dinner Snacks

You know your appetite clock is right when you are hungry for breakfast in the morning. When you decrease your PM snacking to just 50 calories, you wake up with a healthy hungry in the morning.

1. Mint Tea w/ 2 tsp Honey (45 cals)

2. Clementine + 4 Pistachios (50 cals)

3. Air-Popped Popcorn w/ Vinegar & Sea Salt (45 cals)
1-1/2 cups popcorn + drizzle of balsamic + 1/8 tsp sea salt

4. Cocoa Covered Frozen Banana Slices (50 cals)
Peel, slice & freeze 1/2 of a banana. Sprinkle w/ cocoa powder.

5. Kefir Shot + Raspberry Chaser (44 cals)
1/4 cup plain, low-fat kefir + 1/4 cup fresh berries


The Virgin Diet; She’s Not That Innocent

By Shayna Robinson, MSPT, PhD
CHICAGO–January is ripe with people trying to sell you something new; how to lose weight in 7 days by standing on your head and eating some obscure fruit one can only attain by trekking through the rain forest in some remote location. Most of these “new” diets have some sort of scientific-sounding “hook” or “secret” that is oftentimes just a re-branding or new packaging of older ideas. Enter The Virgin Diet.

J.J. Virgin–before you make a joke– is a health and fitness expert, and according to her website, “is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, a Certified Health and Fitness Instructor with advanced certifications in Nutrition, Personal Training and Aging and Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition.” She has been a diet and fitness adviser to a number of celebrities including Gene Simmons, Ben Stiller, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tracie Thoms, Janeane Garofalo, and Brandon Routh.

The “Hook”
The Virgin Diet claims that the weight gain is about inflammation; namely that certain foods interact with our system, stressing it to a point of hormonal release and fat storage. It claims eliminating certain foods, from 7 different groups, will alleviate these symptoms.

The Evidence
About a third of the general population believes that they have food allergies. Research shows that only about 5% actually do. Part of the problem is the confusion about the term food allergy, which is different from a food intolerance or food sensitivity:

  • A food allergy is a very specific immune response to a particular food protein. The immune system responds to exposure of that protein by producing an immunoglobulin called IgE. The body responds by releasing histamine which (depending on the severity of the response) causes itching, hives, difficulty breathing, wheeziness and possibly prophylaxis.
  • A food intolerance is when a specific enzyme necessary to digest a food is absent. This is the case with lactose intolerance or gluten intolerance (gluten-sensitive enteropathy). Symptoms can include GI upset, diarrhea or constipation, rash or nasal congestion. They are usually not life-threatening.
  • A food sensitivity is an unpleasant reaction to certain foods, such as getting heartburn, cramps or nausea after eating a particular food. You do not always get the same symptoms when the food is eaten.

It’s no surprise that the 7 foods that Virgin eliminates also happen to be those which are most likely to cause food allergies (peanuts, eggs) or intolerances (soy, dairy, gluten, corn, sugar). If you have a problem with a particular food, eliminating it from your diet will certainly help with the symptoms (like diarrhea or rashes) it is causing.