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The Reality Is…

“The reality is that a minute amount of a vitamin in its whole food form is more effective nutritionally than a large amount of a synthetic one!

An excellent illustration of this is the story involving a medical doctor held captive in a prisoner of war camp during the Korean war (1950-1953).  After a period of time on their severely  inadequate diet, many of the doctor’s fellow prisoners began showing signs of beriberi, a disease that results from a severe thiamine (B1) deficiency.  He notified the Red cross, and they sent him thiamine in a synthetic form, thiamine HCl (a coal tar-based vitamin).  The doctor gave this to his patients,  but their health continued to deteriorate. 

Finally, the doctor’s North Korean guards whispered to him that beriberi could be cured with rice polish, the nutritive outer layers of the rice that are removed when it is refined. He thought the suggestion was absurd, but he had nothing to lose so he started giving his patients a teaspoon or more of rice polish every day.  Within a short time, the beriberi epidemic ceased.  

There is only about one level teaspoon of thiamine in an entire ton (2,000 pounds) of unrefined, whole rice.  The amount of thiamine that the prisoners of war were getting in their rice polish was infinitesimal.  What a tribute to unrefined rice and an excellent example of the potency of whole foods!”  – pp. 40 from Back to the Basics of Human Health, By Mary Frost.

We have a copy of Mary’s book for you at the office.  If you’d like to read it cover to cover, all 82 pages, the next time you are at Synergy, just mention that you are reading  the blogs and we’ll give you a copy of the book!

How To Increase Levels of “Good Estrogen”

Since the late 1970’s, research has shown that women who eat cruciferous vegetables have an overall reduced risk of breast tissue abnormalities.  Vegetables such as kale and Brussels sprouts contain compounds that shift the breakdown of estrogen to ore of the protective “good estrogen,” thus protecting against breast tissue abnormalities.

Research has shown women who supplemented their diet with dehydrated organic Brussels sprouts and kale were able to experience a substantial positive shift in their estrogen metabolism.  A new study has shown that a supplement program containing 3.6 grams of dehydrated organic Brussels sprouts and kale was effective in tipping the delicate balance of estrogen in favor of the “good” form.  Organically grown, bio-available kale and Brussels sprouts are now available in a supplement.

Talk to our licensed acupuncturist at Synergy, Mimi, today about how whole food supplementation can benefit your estrogen metabolism.

  1. Muti P, Bradlow HL, Miocheli A, et al. Estrogen metabolism and risk of breast cancer: a prospective study of the 2:16alpha-hydroxyesterone ratio in premenopausal and postmenopausal women. 2000 Nov;11(6):635-40.
  2. Michnovicz JJ, Adlercreutz H, Bradlow HL. Changes in levels of urinary estrogen metabolites after oral indole-3-carbinol treatment in humans. J Natl Cancer Inst. 1997 May 21;89(10):718-23
  3. Michnovicz JJ. Increased estrogen 2-hydroxylation in obese women using oral indole-3-carbinol. Intl J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1998 Mar;22(3):227-9.
  4. Michnovicz JJ, Bradlow HL. Altered estrogen metabolism and excretion in humans following consumption of indole-3-carbinol. Cancer. 1991;16(1):59-66
  5. Kall MA, Vang O, Clausen J. Effects of dietary broccoli on human drug metabolizing activity. Cancer Lett. 1997 Mar 19;114(1-2):169-70
  6. Bradlow HL, Telang NT, Sepkovic DW, Osborne MP. 2-hydroxyesterone: the estrogen. J Endocrinol. 1996 Sep;150SupplS259-65.
  7. Dalessandri KM, Firestone GL, Fitch MD, Bradlow HL, Bjeldanes LF. Pilot study: effect of 3,3-diindolylmethane supplements on urinary hormone metabolites in postmenopausal women with a history of early-stage breast cancer. Nutr Cancer. 2004;50(2):161-7.
  8. Morrison J, Mutell D, Pollock T, Redmond E, Bralley A, Lord R. Efficacy of dried cruciferous powder for raising the 2/16 Hydroxyestrogen ratio.


New Clues Into How Meditation May Boost The Immune System

By Alice G. Walton

Most people are aware of the fact that meditation, in its many forms, can tweak the brain and body in a number of beneficial ways. It’s been shown to increase volume in certain brain regions, to reduce anxiety and depression, and even to improve immunity. Of course, exactly how meditation is doing all these things isn’t totally understood. But a new study, in the journal Translational Psychiatry, helps suss out the molecular mechanisms behind meditation’s effects on the immune system. And it turns out that the effects are more than from just the relaxation element – there seems to be something intrinsic about meditation itself that can shift gene expression and even boost mood over time.

In the new study, the team of researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, University of California at San Francisco, and Harvard Medical School had 94 women come to the Chopra Center for Well Being in California. Half of the women went in for a six-day vacation retreat, the half for a six-day meditation retreat. Neither of these groups of women had any experience with meditation – but a third group, made up of 30 experienced meditators also visiting the Center, were also studied. The team took blood samples from the participants, so they could analyze what genes were expressed, before the retreat, directly after it, one month, and 10 months later.

And there were some interesting changes in the 20,000 genes studied. All the groups showed shifts in the expression of genes related to stress, inflammation and wound healing. The experienced meditators had particular shifts in genes related to fighting viral infection. They also had increases in telomerase activity – an enzyme that builds telomeres, the sections at the ends of chromosomes that help keep them from “unraveling.” Telomeres shorten over time naturally, and shorter length is linked a number of chronic illnesses, so increasing telomere length is thought to indicate healthier aging.

Another shift that occurred was in the ratio of two kinds of amyloid-beta proteins, which is known to be linked to dementia and depression. The novice meditator group had shifts toward a better ratio of the proteins. The experienced meditators, interestingly, started out with better levels, and this didn’t change over the course of the study, which suggests that meditation has both short- and long-term effects on levels of this brain compound.

Finally, everyone experienced a subjective change from their retreat — a boost in mood — which, for some, lingered long after the retreat ended. And it was most pronounced in the novice meditators, who reported significant decreases in depressive symptoms, even at the 10-month mark.

By Alice G. Walton

This Question May Help You and Your Friendships Survive This Election Season

Written by Tasha Eurich – October 13, 2016

I recently spent the weekend with one of my dearest friends. She is brilliant, hilarious, kind and giving, and I just adore her. We have one of those rare and wonderful friendships that comes along just a few times in life (if we’re lucky).

But my friend also holds—quite literally — the opposite political views as I do. And if I’m honest, I’ve often caught myself wondering why someone so utterly wonderful could also be so spectacularly wrong.

For that reason, even though I’d been looking forward to seeing her for months, I was also a bit nervous about what would happen if we talked about politics. I was certain that no amount of discussion was going to change her mind, so I decided that the best strategy was to avoid the topic altogether.

But in the weeks leading up to my visit, this vexing question still haunted me: how could my friend be so wrong?

Then, the day before I got on the plane to see her, a different thought popped into my mind. What if, I wondered, I’m the one who is wrong? It was a question that I had never considered.

Granted, for any hot-button political issue, there is rarely a singular, unequivocal “right answer.” Most of us realize, at least intellectually, that there are many valid ways of seeing the world. But personally, when I feel strongly about something, it’s hard to see past my beliefs and assumptions. As a result, I rarely question them.

If I may be so bold, I’m clearly not the only one who is guilty of this.

Research shows that we typically assume that others share our views (often called the False Consensus Effect) and get upset when they don’t. After all, our beliefs are so rational, so well-thought out and so correct that unless someone was a total moron, they would come to the same conclusion. This logic is deeply flawed, and it makes us cling absurdly tightly to our opinions. (Research suggests that even when they are threatened by pesky things like facts, we tend to overlook those facts or discredit the source.)

Of late, as anyone with a social media account can attest, when we shout our beliefs from the rooftops and label everyone who doesn’t share them ill-informed (or worse), there are real consequences to our self-awareness, our success and our relationships. Case in point: a recent study found that this year, nearly one in 10 people have ended a friendship because of an election-related disagreement.

But this problem and its consequences don’t just show up in our political discussions. Perhaps you think that your spouse’s approach to parenting is ineffective, and it’s landed you into a seemingly endless series of disagreements. Or at work, after shutting down a colleague who suggested a smarter strategy, you were surprised to see your performance suffer. Or you just can’t get behind your friend’s new significant other, even though you haven’t even tried to see this person the way your friend sees them.

Fascinatingly, our reluctance to question our beliefs may be biologically based. As neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran describes, when we encounter a differing viewpoint, the two hemispheres of our brain lock horns in a fierce battle. The left hemisphere, usually associated with rational and logical thought, fights to preserve our existing beliefs while the right hemisphere wants to play devil’s advocate and see things more objectively. But when our right and left hemispheres square off, the left hemisphere usually wins.

Given the biological basis of such behavior, does this mean that we are forever doomed to judge, argue with and “unfriend” the people who don’t agree with us? Thankfully, we can loosen our left hemisphere’s white knuckled grip, but it takes conscious effort. The question I asked myself with my friend — “what if I’m the one who is wrong?” — is a surprisingly effective way to help our right hemisphere get a word in edgewise.

Of course, when I first pondered this question, I was more than a little distraught. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it really was possible. Even if I wasn’t actually “wrong,” I was pretty sure that adopting this mindset would help me develop a richer, fuller perspective.

When I arrived at my friend’s apartment the next day, I dropped my bags and promptly announced that I wanted to spend the weekend trying to understand her political views. With a wry smile, she agreed.

From the moment we started talking, I found myself listening in a completely new way. I wasn’t getting upset or emotional. I wasn’t trying to compose fact-based retorts. I was just hearing her. This, I realized, is what the late, great Stephen Covey really meant when he advised us to “seek first to understand, then be understood.”

This didn’t meant that the entire weekend was easy. There were a few times that I wanted to storm out of the room, but it was far less than I would have predicted. By the end of the weekend, I had a much, much richer appreciation of my friend’s perspective.

Of course, it’s one thing to commit to understanding the people we love — our spouse, our friends, our family — but let’s extend this idea one step further: can (and should) we apply this concept to people we don’t like or respect?

I recently heard an interview with Amaryllis Fox, a former counter-terrorism clandestine services officer. In it, she provided one of the most profound observations about human behavior I have ever heard. “The one thing I learned in the Agency,” she said, “is that everyone thinks they’re the good guy.”

In Fox’s case, she learned that the only way to fight the bad guys was to try to understand what would make otherwise normal people commit such grievous acts. Anytime we label our enemies as completely bad people — be they religious radicals, the school bully or a particularly sociopathic boss — we can’t even begin to intelligently deal with them. As Abraham Lincoln once declared, “I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

My “weekend of understanding” with my friend hasn’t changed my position much, but a lot of things are different. I genuinely respect where she’s coming from. I feel smarter and more informed. Most importantly, our relationship is stronger.

This is a somewhat counter-intuitive lesson: the next time you discover that someone you love, respect or work with has a wildly different opinion about something, don’t waste time trying to make them see things your way, or avoid the subject in an attempt to minimize conflict.* Instead, ask yourself “what if I’m wrong?” and really entertain their perspective.

At the end of the day, as British philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell advised, when we don’t feel absolutely certain about anything, that’s when we truly begin to understand who we are and appreciate others for the same thing.


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Pecans, and Maple Syrup

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 40 Minutes


1/2 cup pecans
6 slices bacon
2 pounds brussels sprouts, halved (stem and ragged outer leaves removed)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2-1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with heavy duty aluminum foil.
Place pecans on the prepared baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them, as they can burn fast. Transfer the pecans to a cutting board and chop coarsely. Set aside.

Turn the oven heat up to 400 degrees. Lay the bacon strips out flat on the same foil-lined baking sheet, leaving space in between so they don’t overlap. Roast for 12-20 minutes, rotating the pan from front to back midway through, until the bacon is crisp (cooking time will depend on thickness of bacon). Transfer bacon to a plate lined with paper towels; pour rendered bacon fat into a small dish and then discard aluminum foil. When bacon is cool, finely chop.

Turn the oven heat up to 425 degrees, and line the baking sheet with fresh aluminum foil. Using a rubber spatula, toss the brussels sprouts with the rendered bacon fat, olive oil, salt and pepper directly on the baking sheet. Roast, stirring midway through with rubber spatula to promote even browning, until brussels sprouts are tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and maple syrup and toss to coat evenly. Taste and adjust seasoning, then transfer to a serving dish. Right before serving, top with chopped pecans and bacon. Serve hot or warm.

Meditation & Teens

“The American Psychological Association conducted a national survey in 2014 focused on stress in adolescents ages 13-17. In this survey teens reported 31% of the time that their stress levels have increased from the previous year. Of greater concern, is that 42% said they were doing very little about it.

Participants in a recently released study in the Journal of Adolescence went to a five day mindfulness retreat aimed not only at teaching relaxation and mindfulness skills, but also coupled that with lessons on gratitude, compassion and…‘loving kindness’. The teens that participated in the study showed both short term and long-term benefits after the retreat.”


Use Your Brain to Create the Change You Want

You Are What You Think!

In order to alter behaviors, it helps to understand what makes you act the way you do. It’s the internal thoughts in your head that convince you to take your next action; not the food, or drug, cigarette, or item that’s external to you. (More on the specifics of brain chemicals and choices in the next newsletter and How The Brain Works blog.)

Many believe they are stuck in unhealthy or negative cycles forever. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Your thought patterns aren’t hard wired. Your brain has the ability to adapt and change; it’s called neuroplasticity. Learning how your mind works will give you the power and ability to use your brain to control your brain.

Think of the brain as a superhighway with neurotransmitters racing up and down lanes carrying information to different parts of the mind and body. The more the same message travels along a path, the more permanent that pathway becomes. And the brain loves the most used route. For many, if not most people, genetics and these strong neural pathways are the reasons why their brains are keeping them choosing a familiar unhealthy choice rather than a healthy one another part of them wants. A pattern for the undesired choice has literally been formed in the brain.

The good news is…the brain can learn new patterns. There are simple processes that can introduce a desired change or new pattern to the brain, giving the brain the experience of the choice you’ve been longing for or trying so hard to switch to. You can even learn how to teach the brain when it wants to go to the old choice, choose this new one instead. There is a simple exercise for redirecting the brain out of a craving; into a alternative pleasurable healthy experience. Once the brain has experienced the new neural pathway it is simply a matter of practicing the new way of thinking.

Keep checking our newsletters and blogs for more information on neuroplasticity, how your brain works, and making the changes you want.  Schedule an NLP or Hypnosis session to experience using your own brain to create the changes you want.

Coconut Milk Tumeric Ice Cream

Recipe by: Megan Olson

Grab a bowl and dive into this Turmeric Coconut Ice Cream. It’s made with cashews and pecans!

1 14-ounce can coconut milk
½ of a 14-ounce can coconut cream (or ½ cup coconut milk or coconut yogurt)
1 cup raw cashews (soaked)
3 T raw pecans (and as many other pecans as desired for topping)
¼ cup maple syrup
2 t turmeric
1 t cinnamon
½ t ground ginger
¼ t cardamom

1. Soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight (or until soggy—a minimum of 2 hours).
2. Once the cashews are ready, layer a standard meatloaf pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the sides. Place in the freezer while preparing the ice cream.
3. Drain cashews, and add them to a blender or food processor—along with all the other ingredients.
4. Process on high until pecans and cashews are broken down and everything is fully combined.
5. Remove the prepared pan from the freezer, and pour the ice cream mixture into the pan.
6. Place in the freezer overnight to harden. Be sure to place the pan on a flat surface, so it hardens evenly.
7. The next day, remove from the freezer. Top with more pecans, and serve!

Pro Tips:

If you have an ice cream maker, you can definitely use it for this recipe. It will make the ice cream even creamier and thicker.  You can also make this recipe without the cashews and pecans, but it will be less creamy.

Nutritional Insights from Dr. Albrecht and Mary Frost

The following information and quotes (from Dr William Albrecht, PhD), come from Back to the Basics of Human Health by Mary Frost:

Early nutritionists and Dr Albrecht were adamant that mineral deficient soil is one of the original sources of disease in the world today.  “Simply stated, food crops grown on depleted soil produce malnourished bodies, and disease preys on malnourished bodies.”
“When we see a symptom in the plant, it will always correlate to a poison or deficiency in the soil: when we see a disease in the human, it will relate to a poison or deficiency in the food.” 
“Soil is the basis of all life.  Dr. William Albrecht, PhD conducted studies in the 1950s that proved beyond a doubt that plants can appear healthy but have low quantities of nutrients.  He also proved that the health of a plant is it’s own protection against insects.  When a plant is healthy it has no need for pesticides whatsoever.  In the plant’s root system there are little off-shoot rootlets that have hair-like fungi (called mycorrhizae) growing on them.  Good soil is composed of 45% minerals and is full of microbial life, which contains millions of bacteria.  The bacteria’s primary job is to decompose anything that falls on the land and to break down mineral deposits into plant food.  The plant isn’t devoured by the bacteria because the mycorrhizae secrete antibiotics to protect the plant.  Nature gave fungi and bacteria an interesting relationship.  They are natural antagonists.  They keep each other in check through their competition…The plant, thus protected, is free to absorb the minerals that soil microbial life has released without fear of infection from soil-borne bacteria.  If we see a fungus growing on a plant, it is a self-produced fungus because there was something inferior about the quality of the plant.  Nature grows a fungus on an inferior plant, which then dies, decomposes, and begins again – until it gets it right.”  

Making Time for Meditation: Why it Matters and How It Effects Your Brain

Yoga woman sitting in lotus pose

 “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen Proverb

One form of self-care that has been shown not only to reduce stress and anxiety, but to actually help you become more productive, is meditation.  Studies have found that meditation can increase gray matter in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with learning and memory as well as decrease gray matter in the amygdala, the area associated with stress and anxiety.  Furthermore, meditation has been shown to reduce blood pressure and increase attention span.  So yes, while meditation may take time out of your day, it can ultimately save you time in the long run if you are able to complete your work with greater focus and efficiency.

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles to beginning and maintaining a meditation practice is time.  Many people claim that their days are already so jam packed with obligations that they cannot imagine trying to squeeze in another activity “just to sit there” when they could be checking off items on their to-do list or spending time with family instead.  However, as expert consultant Alan Weiss notes, time is a not a resource issue, it is a priority issue.  In a world in which technology easily keeps you connected to others, this connection can also create an overwhelming sense of urgency to respond and a higher demand for productivity than in the past.  It is important to remember that making time to take care of yourself can not only help you to better manage your obligations, but it can help you to create better relationships with others.  As they say, you need to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others.

One of the most recent, and most exciting, research studies published on meditation was led by Dr. David Creswell, director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University.  Creswell’s study recruited 25 unemployed men and women seeking work and experiencing high levels of stress.  The researchers drew blood from the participants and gave them brain scans prior to the start of the study.  Half of the subjects were trained in mindfulness meditation, while the other half were taught a fake form of mindfulness meditation which focused on relaxation and distracting the self.  The mindfulness meditation group was taught to focus on inner bodily sensations, both pleasant and unpleasant, while the sham group was encouraged to talk amongst themselves and ignore their bodies, focusing attention outward.  This training took place over a period of three days and all participants reported feeling better able to cope with the stress of unemployment.  However, the participants’ brain scans and blood results after the intervention told a different story.

The brains of those whom completed the real mindfulness meditation training showed an increase in functional connectivity between resting state default mode network and areas important for attention and executive control, namely the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex.  In other words, when the brain was in a resting state (not focused on a specific task), there was increase communication between the “resting” part of the brain and areas related to executive control and attention.  Improved executive control can help your brain to manage stress and in turn, help reduce inflammation, a common reaction to stress.  Perhaps the most incredible part of the study is that 4 months later, blood levels of a marker of unhealthy inflammation (interleukin-6) were much lower in the mindfulness meditation group than in the fake group, despite the fact that few of them were still meditating.  So, what does this mean for you?  Prioritizing time for a self-care practice, such as meditation, can produce long-term benefits to help you focus, deal with stress more effectively, and improve overall health.



Bergman, P. (2012, October 12). If you’re too busy to meditate, read this. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from

Bhanoo, S.N. (2011, January 28). How meditation may change the brain. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Creswell, D.J. et al (2016). Alterations in resting-state functional connectivity link mindfulness meditation with reduced interleukin-6: A randomized controlled trial. Biological Psychiatry, 80 (1) doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.01.008

Rabin, R.C. (2015, November 10). Ask well: The health benefits of meditation. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Weiss, A. (2009). Getting started in consulting. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.