5 Steps To A Happier, Healthier Gut

I firmly believe that one of the biggest steps you can take to promote your overall health and well-being is to improve your gut health.

Not only does your gut act as the defense shield between what you ingest and your bloodstream, but it also helps you digest food and absorb its nutrients, houses most of your immune system, and even influences your brain function and mood.

Because your digestive tract and immune system are so intertwined, many of the health issues we deal with have some connection back to gut health. Compromised gut health can allow inflammation run rampant, which can cause digestive issues, fatigue, food sensitivities, skin conditions, mood changes, and more.

So if you’re feeling sick, tired, or just a little off, chances are your gut needs some extra attention.

Thankfully, you can improve your gut health in five easy steps. Whether you’re already suffering from symptoms of leaky gut syndrome (which basically means that your gut is compromised) or just need a quick reset, I recommend making these simple changes to your daily health regime for a happier, healthier gut.

1. Start With A Bone Broth Fast

By now, you probably know that bone broth is a powerful health food. Bone broth contains antioxidants, minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and collagen protein, which supports the health of tissues like your bones, joints, ligaments, and tendons. These nutrients provide your digestive system with the ingredients it needs to restore the strength of your gut lining, support your microbiome, and ward off harmful compounds. Together, they help your digestive—and immune—system thrive.

To kick these benefits into gear, I recommend doing a bone broth fast. For three to four days, you’ll consume about 12 ounces of bone broth five times per day. You can either cook up a big batch of homemade broth or simply mix bone broth protein powder, into water.

You can have some solid foods (or smoothies) throughout your fast; just stick to healthy fats, clean proteins, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

These few days give your system a break from potentially problematic foods and the opportunity to really load up on bone broth’s antioxidants, minerals, and collagen. When you finish, I bet you’ll have easier digestion, sleep a little better, and feel all-around renewed.

2. Remove Inflammatory Foods

During and after your bone broth fast, it’s important to eliminate all potentially-offending foods.

The following foods are the most problematic:

  • Grains and breads
  • Packaged and processed foods
  • Foods and drinks with added sugar
  • Dairy products
  • Refined vegetable oils (soybean, canola, corn, cottonseed, sunflower, peanut, and sesame)

For many people, these food groups can trigger an immune response and inflammation that affects not only digestion, but mood and even skin health, too. They can be especially problematic if you have leaky gut, since undigested proteins (like gluten) and other potentially harmful particles in them can actually pass through your intestinal wall and enter your bloodstream, according to research published in Frontiers In Immunology.

3. Eat Fermented Foods Or Supplement With Probiotics

Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that line your digestive tract and support your body’s ability to fight infections and absorb nutrients, have been widely researched—and hailed—for their positive impact on digestive and overall health.

You’ll find these good-doing bacteria in fermented foods (like kimchi, sauerkraut, and tempeh), cultured milk (kefir) or yogurt, and, of course, in supplements.

Related: 5 Foods That Are Packed With Probiotics

According to research published in Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology, “probiotics may restore the composition of the gut microbiome and introduce beneficial functions to gut microbial communities.” Basically, these bacteria maintain balance in your gut, so you’re better able to avoid digestive- and immune-related issues.

4. Try Other Gut-Friendly Supplements

By cutting out problematic foods and working to increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut, you’ve built a solid foundation for healing your gut health. To take it one step further, try incorporating a few other gut-friendly supplements into your routine, too.

Some of my go-to’s include:

  • Digestive enzymes: Taking a full-spectrum digestive enzyme supplement before or after meals can help your digestive system break down proteins, complex sugars, and starches, and avoid potential inflammation caused by undigested compounds passing through your system.
  • Collagen powder: Not only does collagen protein help to strengthen your bones, cartilage and tendons, but two of its amino acids, glycine and proline, also help build your gut lining and support overall gut integrity.
  • L-glutamine: According to research published in the Journal of Epithelial Biology & Pharmacology, the essential amino acid l-glutamine not only acts as an antioxidant, but can also be used by your intestinal cells for fuel, and helps rebuild your gut lining.
  • Quercetin: This powerful antioxidant can be particularly active in the digestive system, says research published in Nutrients.

 5. Reduce Stress

Research shows that chronic stress can negatively affect your immune function, skin health, heart health, digestive function, and even hormone balance. So if you truly want to restore the health of your gut and reduce system-wide inflammation, you need to lower your stress levels.

That seems like a tall order, I know—but small changes can make a big difference. Start by incorporating stress-relieving practices, like daily exercise, meditation, acupuncture, time outdoors, or meaningful social activities, into your routine. Seeing a therapist can help you establish more productive ways of dealing with stress triggers.

To further fight off stress, I also recommend trying adaptogenic herbs, like holy basil, panax ginseng, and ashwagandha. Adaptogens contain compounds that help your body respond to stress and normalize your physiological functions (like hormone responses) so you can better handle stress that comes your way.

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook communities, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit, today!

Take A Peek Inside Dr. Axe’s Fully-Stocked Fridge And Pantry

If your kitchen is brimming with pre-packaged snacks and processed junk, your odds of going for something healthy when your stomach starts grumbling aren’t too high. But fill your fridge and pantry with fruits, vegetables, and superfoods, instead, and it becomes infinitely easier to make healthy choices when hunger strikes.

I truly believe that food is medicine, and keeping your kitchen well-stocked with nutritious ingredients is one of the most effective ways to stay on track towards better health. Here are a few of the items I always have stocked in my fridge and pantry, and why they make the cut.

In The Refrigerator


1. Kombucha

This refreshing fermented drink does double duty by promoting hydration and supporting the gut microbiome by giving the beneficial bacteria in your gut a healthy boost. Drinking kombucha regularly can boost your immune function and brain power, and even help keep your waistline in check. I drink at least one glass a day and love trying new organic and raw varieties from brands like GT’s Living Foods.

2. Blueberries

Tiny but powerful, blueberries pack a serious nutritional punch. They’re loaded with antioxidants, which fight the free radical damage and oxidative stress that have been implicated in so many chronic diseases. Blueberries also contain fiber to support regularity and curb cravings, and they’re highly versatile; I enjoy sprinkling them over some yogurt, throwing a handful into my morning smoothie, or adding them into a delicious berry salad.

3. Organic, Grass-Fed Bison

If bison meat isn’t currently in your weekly dinner rotation, there are plenty of reasons to add it. Bison is lower in fat but richer in flavor than grass-fed beef, and it’s jam-packed with protein and an array of important micronutrients such as vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium. I often simmer up some slow cooker bison chili, use it to make avocado bison burgers, or add it to stir-fries and tacos to give my dinner a healthy and flavorful twist—but you can swap it into any recipe that calls for beef!

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as kale, romaine, and spinach are staples in my diet—and for good reason. Greens contain a concentrated dose of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals to optimize your health. They’re also low in calories but high in fiber, so they keep you feeling full without driving up the scale. I love to bake kale chips, sauté the greens for an easy side dish, or mix them into crustless spinach quiche.

5. Avocado

Avocados have it all: heart-healthy fats, fiber, vitamin K, and even more potassium than bananas. Interestingly enough, research has even associated eating avocados with better overall diet quality and nutrient intake, and a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome. And, trust me, the potential uses for avocados extend way beyond guacamole: Use them to spice up your grilled cheese, add them to soups and salads, or whip them into a chocolate mousse to satisfy your sweet tooth, guilt-free. I also enjoy them drizzled with some olive oil and a bit of seasoning for a nutritious and delicious snack.

6. Lemon

Unfortunately, lemons are often dismissed as little more than a garnish. In reality, though, this citrus fruit offers up plenty of nutrition, including a solid dose of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, and iron to ramp up immunity. I like to start my day with a refreshing cup of lemon water, make lemony-delicious protein bars, and add a squeeze of lemon to side dishes and main courses for a little extra zing.

In the Pantry

1. Collagen

As the most abundant protein in the body, collagen plays a central role in the health of your muscles, skin, bones, digestive system, and tendons. As you get older, however, collagen production slows down, allowing some undesirable changes—like wrinkles, joint pain, and saggy skin—to start popping up.

Related: I Drank Collagen For 30 Days—Here’s How It Turned Out

To support my body as I get older, I add collagen to my daily post-workout smoothie, but you can also use it to bump up the protein content of baked goods, mix it into chia pudding, or even stir a scoop into your coffee.

2. Bone Broth Protein

Bone broth is rich in gelatin, collagen, amino acids, and trace minerals, making it another great addition to your daily routine. In fact, studies show that the compounds found in bone broth can support intestinal integrity, skin health, and joint health.

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And now that bone broth protein is available in a wide range of flavored powder supplements, it’s easy to add to everything from baked treats to soups, smoothies, and shakes. I love using the powder to make pancakes for a protein-packed way to start the day.

3. Tea

Derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinesis plant, white tea, green tea, and black tea are loaded with beneficial compounds like catechins, antioxidants that combat damaging free radicals. Some research suggests that drinking tea can preserve brain health, kick up fat-burning, and even improve oral health. Since the different varieties of tea vary in both their methods of processing and the range of health benefits that they provide, be sure to switch up your cup to make the most of this amazing beverage. Gaia Herbs and Organic India are two of my favorite brands, and offer a wide array of tea varieties to mix into your weekly rotation.

4. Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs contain specific compounds that have been shown to bolster the body’s ability to deal with stress and help us restore and maintain a sense of balance and well-being. Many also boast other health benefits, such as enhanced energy and antioxidant protection against free radicals. Astragalus, schisandra, and ashwagandha are a few of my favorites, and can be conveniently consumed in capsule form. I also love ginseng, holy basil, licorice root, and cordycep mushrooms, which I typically use in powdered form to give broths and beverages a healthy upgrade.

5. Himalayan Pink Salt

High-quality Himalayan pink salt is an unrefined form of salt rich in a variety of trace minerals, including potassium, magnesium and calcium, which are absolutely vital to health. Thanks to its impressive nutrient content, Himalayan pink salt may aid in maintaining proper fluid balance in the body, support respiratory health, and even promote better sleep. It’s super-easy to add to your diet: Simply swap out regular refined salt for the pink stuff in your favorite dishes and recipes.

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook communities, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit, today!

Meet Liz Josefsberg, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Liz Josefsberg.

With more than 15 years in the health and wellness industry under her belt, celebrity weight-loss expert Liz Josefsberg is best known for helping stars like Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson lose weight and transform their lives. She is the author of many books, including the recent Target 100, which breaks weight loss down into six easy steps. Since overcoming her own struggle with losing weight and establishing a healthy lifestyle, Liz has used her experience and knowledge to inspire countless others.

In monthly What’s Good articles, Liz shares her personal health journey, puts diet and fitness trends to the test, and helps others live healthier lives. Check them out:

Did you know you're more likely to lose weight and keep it off if you have an established network of support? Support keeps you motivated, helps you see your progress by celebrating your small victories and helps you stay focused. • However, do you put conditions on your success and minimize it because you feel like you're bragging or selfish for sharing? Or that you're getting excited over nothing if you want to tell a friend, "I worked out today like I said I would!" Or, that you should save sharing for when you hit “big” weight loss milestones like 25lbs, or 50lbs, or wait until you’ve reached your goal weight? • It’s time to learn how to celebrate success no matter how big or small your victories! Find your go-to people and encouragers and use them as your “good news” repository. • I’m here for you and so is @vitaminshoppe! I’m so excited to announce my partnership with a company that also truly gets celebrating the small victories. Stay tuned as we bring you new ways of celebrating you, because you are worth it! . . . @target100program #vitaminshoppe #victoryisyours #ad #LizJosefsberg #Target100 #WordsOfLizdom #authorsofinstagram #weightlossdiary #weightlossprogress #motivateyourself #beyondthescale #celebratemysize #keepmovingforward #believeinyourself #weightlossinspiration #weightlossgoals #weightlosssupport

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Meet Matt Hesse, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Matt Hesse.

An innovator on the forefront of the health and fitness industry, Matt Hesse has created a portfolio of brands that are revolutionizing the next generation of healthy lifestyle products. As founder and CEO of Corr-Jensen (Performix, Orb), a leading manufacturer of health and wellness products and nutritional supplements, his philosophy is one that credits exercise, discipline, and service as core values that transcend every facet of our lives. An Army veteran, Hesse also founded the FitOps Foundation, which helps veterans become certified personal trainers and launch new careers after serving.

Matt has been featured in Men’s Journal and written for Entrepeneur

Think Performix’s supplements are top-notch? You should see their athletes in action. They shared their best moves with us in a series of videos:

 

 

We put Performix’s athletes to the test (and slurped down some delicious protein shakes with them) on Facebook Live.

Meet Bryant Johnson, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Bryant Johnson.

A personal trainer and Army Reservist, Bryant Johnson is most famously known for his work with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who has trained with him for two decades. Ginsburg credits her weekly training sessions with Bryant with helping keep her active and energetic. Bryant recently wrote The RBG Workout, so people of all ages can work out alongside Justice Ginsburg. (She can do 20 push-ups in a row, by the way.)

To see just how tough Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s workout really is, we worked out with Bryant—and it was no walk in the park!

Want to try the RBG Workout for yourself? Give this article a read and follow along with the infographic below:

Meet Sophia Roe, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Sophia Roe.

A veritable ball of energy, Sophia is a wildly talented chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media. Her holistic approach to food, drink, and self-care inspire us to nourish our bodies, inside and out.

Want to show your tummy some TLC? Sophia’s tonic recipe is the perfect way to start the day. Looking for a summertime treat you can feel good about? Her strawberry-coconut popsicles are an absolute dream. Do you love to DIY? Try her turmeric-honey face-brightening mask.

 

Get the full, written-out recipe here: Jumpstart Your Mornings (And Metabolism!) With This Tummy Tonic

 

Meet Joe Holder, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Joe Holder.

Joe wowed and challenged us to train like an athlete in this fitness video series, complete with around-the-world pull-ups and fresh medicine ball moves:

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Dr. Josh Axe, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Dr. Josh Axe.

A Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine and healthy lifestyle expert, Dr. Axe has a passion for helping people get well using food as medicine. An expert in functional medicine, digestive health, and herbal remedies, he regularly shares his unique POV on DrAxe.com, one of the world’s largest health websites. He’s also the co-founder of Ancient Nutrition and the author of Eat Dirt. 

In his monthly What’s Good column, Dr. Axe provides answers to our biggest health and nutrition questions. Give his latest articles a read!

On Facebook Live, he showed us his go-to collagen smoothie recipe, and shared all of the protein’s amazing benefits.

He regularly helps us upgrade our self-care routines on Instagram, so be sure to follow us!

Meet Cassey Ho, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Cassey Ho.

A Pilates guru and YouTube sensation, Cassey is an award-winning fitness instructor, online personality, and creator of Blogilates, the number-one female fitness channel on YouTube, which boasts more than 500 million video views and 4.1 million subscribers. On her blog, YouTube channel, and social media pages, Cassey shares her upbeat energy through workout videos, recipes, and daily inspiration.

Cassey got us absolutely hooked on her healthy pancakes and creamy coconut matcha milkshake on Facebook Live.

Meet Noah Galloway, Member Of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council

We’re all about celebrating the little wins that add up to big gains in our health and wellness journeys. That’s why we assembled a diverse, accomplished team of health and wellness experts to share their tips, tricks, and personal stories online and in-store. Our hope is that this Wellness Council will inspire, motivate, and guide you along your own path to victory.

Meet Noah Gallaway.

A U.S. Army Veteran, motivational speaker, adventure race competitor, and fitness expert, Noah Galloway regularly inspires people with his story of recovery from an IED attack while on active military duty in Iraq. Noah has appeared on the cover of Men’s Health magazine, competed on Dancing With the Stars, and founded the No Excuses Charitable Fund, which raises money and awareness for organizations like Operation Enduring Warrior. 

Noah shared his #VictoryIsYours journey in a six-part video series, Victorious, that ran on VitaminShoppe.com and our social media channels.

 

We chatted with Noah about health, fitness, and overcoming adversity on Facebook Live.

And Noah led our National Pushups for Charity Day campaign, during which The Vitamin Shoppe asked its social media followers to capture themselves on camera doing ONE pushup. For every post, The Vitamin Shoppe donated $5 to Noah’s No Excuses Charitable Fund, ultimately raising $10,000!

Whip Up This Turmeric Face Mask For A Complexion Pick-Me-Up

If you’re dealing with dark spots—or just need an all-around complexion pick-me-up—chemical peels or a trip to the dermatologist or spa aren’t your only options. This DIY face mask from The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council member Sophia Roe is easy to whip up at home, and helps brighten and revive dull skin and minimize hyperpigmentation.

Made with nourishing ingredients like turmeric, rose water, and aloe, it’ll leave you feeling fresh-faced and pampered.

Here’s what you’ll need to mix up this mask:
– 2 Tbsp turmeric powder
– 1 Tbsp raw manuka honey
– 1 1/2 Tbsp pure pearl powder
– 1/4 cup fresh aloe vera
– 1 Tbsp rose water
– 1 Tbsp The Vitamin Shoppe brand rosehip oil

Spread the mask across a clean face, or use as a spot treatment. Let sit for at least 20 minutes (overnight works, too!) before gently removing with water or a wet washcloth.

 

A veritable ball of energy, Sophia Roe is a wildly talented yet relatable holistic chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media.

How I Finally Stopped Yo-Yo Dieting And Became A Celebrity Weight Loss Coach

For most of my life, struggling with weight was my identity. As early as fifth grade, I noticed I didn’t look like the rest of my peers, and at 14, I attended my first weight loss meeting. I was by far the youngest person there. The then-trendy weight loss program, called Diet Center, involved weekly weigh-ins and an extremely restrictive eating plan of bland lean proteins and vegetables. And so began my life of dieting and fearing food.

Throughout my teens, 20s, and early 30s, I lost and gained the same 35 pounds over and over and over again. I tried every plan imaginable, from the Grapefruit Diet to the Soup Diet, and read as many diet books as I could get my hands on. While I could always lose the weight, I could never keep it off.

I thought I had to follow a strict eating plan, and that if I wavered it even slightly, I was failing. So when I did waver, I became so distressed that I ate everything in sight. I fell into a cycle of restricting food, breaking down, overeating, and punishing myself by restricting all over again.

My relationship with food and my body only grew worse when I started a career as a Broadway actress and singer after finishing my Master’s degree. I knew every extra pound could be the difference between landing a gig or losing it—because agents and casting directors thought nothing of telling me I was too heavy for a role. Food, exercise, and my weight took over my life. I felt great when my weight was down and terrible when it was up. I was either eating plain grilled chicken with salad and exercising for hours a day, or chowing down on anything I felt like and not exercising at all. Healthy balance felt impossible.

After 10 years in theater, I’d had enough. As I walked away from that career, I finally felt free from the constant pressure to be as thin as possible. So what did I do? I completely abandoned exercise and gave in to every temptation, binging on all the food I’d spent a decade trying to deprive myself of. I gained 35 pounds—fast.

Again, I was desperate—but I realized I would never live a healthy, fulfilled life, or maintain a weight I felt good about, with my extreme approach to food and exercise. So, after reading about their flexible, realistic eating plan, I decided to give Weight Watchers a try. Throughout the next five months, I finally shared my insecurities, unhealthy behaviors, and fears at support meetings, which was a huge weight off of my shoulders. I enjoyed pizza, occasional desserts, and wine (all workable in the Weight Watchers program), and shed the weight I’d gained.

I felt like I’d found a family of other people who had struggled the way I did, and the positive environment helped me maintain my weight loss for the first time in my life. When a receptionist job opened up at the company, I applied, thinking it would be a temporary gig. Quickly, though, I became a meeting leader, running 17 group support meetings a week, and found myself helping launch the Weight Watchers website.

As the months and years passed, and I was able to consistently wear the same size clothing, my confidence grew, and my yo-yo ways of the past finally faded. I realized that one slip-up did not have to lead to days or weeks of binging, and that I could return to my healthy eating patterns at my next meal. My life fell into a balance: Instead of thinking of workouts as erasers of bad food choices, I exercised joyfully, savoring walks outside, jogs, and kickboxing. I packed healthy snacks (like nuts or hummus and veggies) for work, and discovered my go-to recipes (like ground turkey and tomato sauce over spaghetti squash). The more consistent my routine became, the easier it was to sprinkle in indulgences without going overboard. Finally, I realized what it meant to be healthy.

After nearly eight years with Weight Watchers—during which I had two beautiful sons and successfully lost 50-plus pounds of pregnancy weight, twice—I became their Director of Brand Advocacy and National Spokesperson, appearing on programs like Dr. Oz, Oprah, and Good Morning America and collecting success stories from members across the country to be featured on our website and in our magazine. I flew from New York to Los Angeles every week to lead meetings for Jessica Simpson and a dozen of her friends and relatives, helped Katie Couric negotiate a healthier on-set buffet table as a newly-minted news anchor, and assured Jennifer Hudson that she could indeed fit Buffalo wings into her meal plan.

It was a rush, and forced me to really step up my own weight maintenance skills as I navigated constant travel, jet lag, time zone changes, and new stress. I learned I couldn’t always be perfect, but I could be consistent. I packed snacks for long flights, turned down alcohol, kept workout gear with me at all times, used hotel gyms, and stocked mini fridges with my own healthy food. No challenge could derail my healthy lifestyle!

After 11 years with Weight Watchers, I decided to take everything I’d learned about balanced living, self-love, and long-term weight loss success and go out on my own to help others get healthy and stay that way. I studied to become a certified personal trainer and nutrition exercise specialist, and have since consulted for weight loss and wellness companies all over the world, and helped all kinds of clients—from celebrities and CEOs to stay-at-home parents—achieve their health and fitness goals.

I think my personal weight loss journey has helped me better understand and support others—and just as my career develops, so does my personal health journey. As I learn and grow, I am constantly fine-tuning my strategy for maintaining a healthy weight and attitude. Maintenance is an active process, and if you want to continue to see success long-term, you have to keep your eyes open to the ever-changing landscape of your life! Sure, as I get older I may not be able to drink as much wine as I used to, or have as much for dinner as my growing sons, but these days I’m excited to find out where my next chapter will take me, and I know that health will be a part of who I am forever.

Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry, as well as a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on. 

Jumpstart Your Mornings (And Metabolism!) With This Tummy Tonic

Sluggish steps and belly bloat keeping you from starting your day off right? This tummy tonic from The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council member Sophia Roe is just what you need to jumpstart your metabolism and digestion for an energized morning. Made with health-promoting ingredients like fennel tea (which can ease bloating and gas), apple cider vinegar (a vitamin-, mineral-, and antioxidant-loaded all-star), ginger (another gut health booster), and green tea extract (which is high in antioxidants and supports metabolism), along with goji berries and raw honey, it’s a delicious power-up that’s great for your gut health and your waistline.

Here’s what you’ll need to whip up this day-brightening beverage:
– 1 bag fennel seed tea
– 2 Tbsp chopped ginger
– 1/2 cup Sunfood Superfoods goji berries
– 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
– 1 lemon
– 3 drops The Vitamin Shoppe brand green tea extract
raw manuka honey, to taste

Drink hot upon waking or pour over ice for a punch of refreshment, anytime.

 

A veritable ball of energy, Sophia Roe is a wildly talented yet relatable holistic chef, wellness expert, empowerment architect, and beauty bandit whose candid videos and posts on health and mindfulness light up social media.

 

Why I Never Miss A Day Of Taking These 4 Supplements

When you’re balancing work, school, family, friends, and whatever else is on your plate, maintaining a healthy diet often takes a backseat. And even if you do follow a nutritious diet most of the time, there will inevitably be long, stressful days when you just can’t squeeze in all of your veggies, or end up swapping salad for takeout.

Don’t sweat it, life happens! That’s exactly where supplements come in. While they can’t replace a nutritious diet and active lifestyle, the right supplements can help you fill in nutritional gaps, and even supply certain essential nutrients you may not be able to get from your diet alone, so you can stay in tip-top shape even when things get hectic.

Now, I know how overwhelming it can be to find the right supplements for your goals. You could easily fill two medicine cabinets with all the pills and potions out there! That’s why my philosophy is simple: Make just a few superstar supplements part of your routine so you can start on the path towards better health with minimal effort required. Here are a few of the supplements I take every day—and why.

1. Probiotics

A good probiotic supplement can give you a lot of bang for your buck. Probiotics help boost the beneficial bacteria in your gut, and a healthy gut influences just about every other aspect of your health. Upping your intake of probiotics can promote proper digestion, support immunity, and keep your gastrointestinal tract healthy. And, a review published in ISRN Nutrition suggests probiotics may also protect against seasonal issues and support healthy cholesterol levels, as well.

Pro tip: Pick a probiotic that contains between 25 and 50 billion CFU per serving, and five or more strains of bacteria to supply your gut with a good variety.

2. Bone Broth

From supporting gut health to keeping your joints healthy and strong, bone broth is a powerful supplement that boasts a wide range of benefits. It contains important minerals, like magnesium and phosphorus, as well as collagen, a type of protein needed to build our skin, bones, joints, and muscles. Studies have shown that supplementing with the collagen found in bone broth may help boost joint health and skin elasticity, and support immune health.

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Pro tip: Unfortunately, much of the bone broth on the shelves of your local grocery store is produced using artificial meat flavors and pumped full of additives and extra ingredients that aren’t so great for your health. I recommend making bone broth at home or buying it from a trusted health store to ensure you’re getting the best quality. You can also find bone broth in powdered supplements (like Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein), capsules, and protein bars.

3. Greens Powder

Even the most balanced eaters have days in which they can’t squeeze in all of the recommended servings of fresh produce. Adding a quick scoop of greens powder to your daily smoothie (or even a glass of water) is an easy way to get in an extra dose of key vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and round out your diet. Certain greens, like spirulina, have even been shown to support healthy triglyceride levels, blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune function.

Pro tip: For best results, opt for an organic product with a good mix of greens (like spinach and kale), as well as other health-promoting ingredients (like acai and elderberry). Combine it with plenty of nutrient-dense fruits, veggies, and superfoods in a smoothie and enjoy.

4. Digestive Enzymes

If you suffer from any digestive issues, including bloating, leaky gut syndrome, acid reflux, or ulcerative colitis, digestive enzymes are a must. They help break down large food particles into smaller, more easily-absorbed molecules so that you’re able to extract the important nutrients from your diet, and can help prevent nutritional deficiencies and boost regularity to keep you feeling your best.

Related: The Term ‘Leaky Gut’ Is All Over The Internet—But What Is It Exactly?

Pro tip: To further support healthy digestion, look for a product that also provides other gut health-enhancing ingredients. Some digestive enzymes, for example, are paired with probiotics to simultaneously support proper digestion and improve gut health, giving you double the benefits in every serving. You can also find digestive enzymes that include a blend of herbs, like peppermint and ginger, which support digestive health.

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

Think You Can Handle Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Workout? Try For Yourself

Whatever your politics, you can’t deny that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is one strong woman. Not only is the 85-year-old one of just three women presiding over the Supreme Court, she’s also a pancreatic and colon cancer survivor—and, oh, she can do 20 pushups.

Yep, in addition to regularly making monumental contributions to women’s rights and law in the U.S., RBG works out for an hour twice a week with her trainer Bryant Johnson, C.P.T.

In the past two decades of working out with Johnson, the Justice has perfected bodyweight strength moves like one-legged planks and assisted pistol squats. The legend of her fitness prowess has spread so far and wide that Johnson even wrote a book—aptly named The RBG Workout—about it.

In the foreword of the book, Ginsburg writes that she hopes her workout will “help others to experience, as I have, renewed energy to carry on with their work and days.” (And trust me, I know firsthand that this workout is no joke. I tried it for myself live on Facebook and sweat buckets.)

So, want to be like RBG? Johnson, who’s also a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council, shared a sample gym session with us so you can put your fitness to the test. After warming up with a few minutes of cardio and a quick full-body stretch, you’ll be ready to jump right into RBG’s full-body routine.

It’s all about having strength, stability, and mobility for life—and it’ll kick your butt! Think you’re ready for it?

Diggin’ What’s Good? For more essential health facts, tips, and inspiration, join our Facebook communities, Eating Healthy and Staying Fit, today!

The Truth About Saturated Fats

 For decades, we’ve been told that saturated fat is the enemy, and that to keep our cholesterol levels down and our arteries clear, we need to steer clear of red meat, egg yolks, and milk.

Saturated fat’s bad rap is mostly based on a study called the ‘Seven Countries Study’ by scientist Ancel Keys, which identified a link between dietary fat, serum cholesterol levels, and heart disease after looking at the dietary patterns of countries around the world, and prompted many organizations to begin recommending low-fat diets with minimal amounts of saturated fat in an effort to prevent heart disease. Though many of us are still under the impression that saturated fat is unhealthy, this initial evidence used to justify these claims is incredibly flawed. Keys actually studied more than 20 countries, but chose to only include seven, skewing the resulting data.

In recent years, however, a growing body of research has proven that saturated fats may not be so bad after all. Although some studies suggest that swapping out saturated fats for unsaturated fats in your diet may protect against heart disease, other evidence shows that saturated fat does not cause heart disease, as was once assumed.

Furthermore, certain types of saturated fat can actually improve several aspects of health, with benefits ranging from lowering cholesterol to increasing insulin sensitivity and beyond. Here’s what you should know.

The Different Types of Saturated Fat

There are many types of saturated fatty acids found in the diet, and each has unique effects on health. They are generally categorized as short, medium, or long-chain fatty acids based on the number of carbon atoms they contain, and are absorbed and metabolized in the body in different ways.

Long-Chain Fatty Acids

Palmitic acid is the most common type of saturated fat in the diet and was once estimated to account for over half of the total saturated fat intake in the United States. Found primarily in palm oil, red meat, and dairy, palmitic acid has actually been shown to increase levels of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol in some studies. However, these studies look at the effects of isolated palmitic acid, an ingredient most of us don’t exactly have sitting on our kitchen counters. In food sources, palmitic acid is usually found in combination with other types of fatty acids, which may actually help minimize its effects on cholesterol, research suggests.

After palmitic acid, stearic acid is the second most commonly consumed type of saturated fat. It’s believed to be one of the healthiest saturated fats, with research indicating that it can actually lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Although most commonly found in animal fats, stearic acid is also found in plant products, including coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter.

Medium-Chain Fatty Acids

Compared to longer-chain fatty acids, medium-chain fatty acids (a.k.a. MCTs)—which include caproic, capric, and caprylic acid, to name a fewdiffer in the way they are absorbed and processed in the body. Instead of being metabolized and transformed in the intestines like long-chain fatty acids, they are rapidly broken down and sent straight to the liver, where they can be converted into fuel. Because of this, studies show that MCTs can help increase insulin sensitivity to keep blood sugar in check and promote weight loss. Supplements like MCT oil provide a concentrated amount of medium-chain fatty acids, but plant sources like coconut oil and palm kernel oil also supply a good amount.

One medium-chain fatty acid, lauric acid, has been associated with a number of health benefits. It’s been shown to increase levels of beneficial HDL cholesterol in the blood, which can help optimize heart health and reduce the risk of heart disease, and also has powerful immune-boosting properties, which can provide protection against harmful pathogens. The richest natural sources of lauric acid include palm kernel oil and coconut oil, both of which are made up of over 40 percent lauric acid.

Short-Chain Fatty Acids

Other less common types of saturated fatty acids include butyric acid, propionic acid, and acetic acid, all of which are found in relatively small amounts scattered throughout our diet (in foods like ghee, raw milk. and parmesan cheese). Certain types of short-chain fatty acids are also produced within the colon when dietary fiber is fermented by the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Short-chain fatty acids have been associated with a number of health benefits in animal studies, ranging from increased fat-burning to enhanced insulin sensitivity, giving you all the more reason to get in your daily dose of fiber!

Saturated Fats And A Healthy Diet

When consumed along with plenty of fruits, vegetables and wholesome sources of protein, a few servings of saturated fats—one serving is an ounce of feta cheese or a tablespoon of coconut oil—per day can absolutely fit into a healthy diet, and can even help bump up fat intake on diet plans like the ketogenic diet. However, that doesn’t mean you should start loading up on the bacon and processed meat. In fact, the most recent Dietary Guidelines still recommend limiting saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories, and unhealthy sources of fat coming from heavily-refined vegetable oils, processed meat, processed junk food, and fried foods should be limited as much as possible to minimize the risk of heart disease as well as other chronic conditions, like cancer.

Related: What You Need To Know About The Ketogenic Diet Trend

Instead, opt for nutrient-rich sources of saturated fat, like coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, eggs, and dark chocolate, which also provide antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

And just because saturated fat is back on the table doesn’t mean you should forget about other healthy fats! Unsaturated fats, like extra-virgin olive oil, avocados, and omega-3-rich foods like fish, nuts, and seeds, boast plenty of health-promoting properties and can also be nutritious additions to your diet. On an average day, I try to include a good variety of both saturated and unsaturated fats in my diet to get in my fix of healthy fats. Some of my favorite sources include grass-fed butter, coconut oil, almonds, chia seeds, and wild-caught salmon.

Keep your saturated fat facts straight with this handy infographic:

Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., D.C., C.N.S., is a doctor of natural medicine, clinical nutritionist, author, and member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. Dr. Axe operates one of the world’s largest natural health websites, sharing healthy recipes, herbal remedies, nutrition and fitness advice, and information on essential oils and natural supplements. Dr. Axe founded one of the largest functional medicine clinics in the world, in Nashville, TN, and has served as a physician for many professional athletes.

 

Everything This Weight Loss Expert Eats In A Day

In my 16-year journey as a weight loss and fitness expert, I’ve tried just about every diet in the book, from bodybuilder-style macro-counting to high-fat keto. Though some experiments have proved more sustainable than others, each has helped me find the eating style that works best for me.

These days, my eating philosophy is to really listen to my body, eat whole foods in their whole forms (as little from packages as possible!), get enough satiating fat, and love what I eat. I keep a list of my five favorite healthy breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks, and a binder of all my favorite recipes—like slow cooker chicken chili—to make healthy eating easier when life gets busy. (And, trust me, it does when you have two kids, two dogs, a full-time job, and a hubby who works opposite hours than you do!)

Here’s what a full day of healthy—and delicious—eating usually looks like for me.

On a typical day, my alarm clock goes off at 5:20 in the morning and I enjoy the quiet with a cup of coffee—usually a cappuccino made with lots of whole milk and cinnamon—and my pup, Angus. I feel best following a modified intermittent fasting regimen and delaying my first full meal, so my frothy beverage usually counts as my breakfast.

Then I usually meet with a client in my gym, get my kids ready for school, and do a workout (often kickboxing or a run) of my own. From there, I’m off to work, running from private clients to speaking events to consulting meetings all over the place. I don’t eat my first real meal until around noon, but when I finally stop long enough to sit down and eat, I usually go for breakfast food, my favorite of which is an omelet (or some sort of egg dish).

I stuff two full eggs (the yolks contain all those vitamins, like choline) with vegetables like spinach, mushrooms, and onions—and, of course, cheese. I try to use seasonal veggies and different cheeses (like cheddar and goat cheese) and herbs to keep boredom at bay.

There are some days, however, that I’m crunched for time, so I go for a one-two punch of portable fruit and protein: yogurt parfait plus a banana and packet of nut butter (like Justin’s almond butter).

My yogurt bowls consist of two-percent plain Greek yogurt topped with raspberries, blueberries, two tablespoons of sliced almonds, and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds. I always recommend going for fuller-fat dairy because it’s more satisfying and swapping sugar-laden granola for nuts and seeds, which provide healthy fats, protein, and crunch. The bowl is low in sugar, but high in fiber and protein, so it really holds me over.

With that first meal, I take my supplements: a multivitamin to keep my nutritional bases covered, a probiotic to support a healthy gut, turmeric for an antioxidant boost, and collagen to keep my skin glowing and hair and nails strong.

I’m usually satisfied until late afternoon, when I grab a snack.

My afternoon munch pretty much always includes some dark chocolate, but I do have a few other staples, like apple slices and raw mixed nuts, hummus and sugar snap peas, a clementine and a cheese stick, and apple slices and nut butter. My criteria for a great snack: It must contain a fruit or vegetable for vitamins and fiber, and it should also provide some fat and protein. To make travel and portion control easier, I buy pre-made serving-size packets for nuts, nut butters, and hummus whenever I can.

Once work and after-school activities finish up, my family sits down together for dinner. So much research shows how vital this time can be for families, so we fight for it! We keep the TV off and put our phones away so we can focus on each other and eating mindfully.

Often, we all eat a slight variation of the same theme. My kids might have Italian-seasoned ground turkey over pasta with red sauce, while my husband and I might eat it over spaghetti squash, zucchini, salad, or steamed broccoli.

My goal at dinner is to fill half my plate with produce. Then I add a solid four-ounce serving of a lean protein like chicken or shrimp and some healthy fat like avocado, a drizzle of olive oil, or even a little melted butter. I always use a small plate to keep my portions in check.

During my own weight loss journey (I shed 65 pounds before starting my career in the industry), I realized that I snacked at nighttime just out of habit, and consumed hundreds of extra calories just to keep my hands busy while watching TV. These days, I don’t usually eat after dinner, and make myself a mug of one of my favorite teas—like decaf chai or Earl Grey, or Trader Joe’s Candy Cane green tea—instead.

If I’m truly hungry, though, I’ll go for a snack made of whole, natural foods, which are hard to overeat! My favorites are a sliced apple with a tablespoon or two of almond butter and baby carrots with hummus.

My personal eating style has evolved so much over the years, and right now this way of eating really works for my lifestyle, but I always keep my eyes open for areas where it might need to be tweaked. I truly believe that being willing to try new things and staying inspired are the keys to eating healthy long-term!


Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry, as well as a member of The Vitamin Shoppe’s Wellness Council. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on. 

I Put On 12 Pounds Just So I Could Try Keto

I was raised on low-fat diets, Weight Watchers, and the idea that eating fat makes you fat. Despite the decades of experience I have as a weight loss professional, some of these ideas from my own weight loss journey (I lost 65 pounds before making health and fitness my career) have been hard to kick.

So you can imagine my surprise (and slight anxiety) to see how popular the high-fat ketogenic diet has become throughout the past few years. Super low in carbs (we’re talking like 25 net grams a day), this trendy diet requires eating between 65 and 85 percent of your daily calories from fat in order to shift your body from burning glucose from carbs to producing and burning ketones from fats (a state called ‘ketosis’). That means saying goodbye to carbs like grains, starchy veggies, and most fruit—and loading up on fats like nuts, avocados, olive oil, and butter. The exact opposite of what the mainstream diet world has been telling us for the past three decades!

But with so many people boasting the energy and weight-loss benefits of the keto diet, I had to say: I was intrigued. I wanted to try it!

So, I did what any curious health and fitness expert would do: put my fears aside, purposely gained 12 pounds (yes, really!), and gave keto a shot.

Getting Started

I pored through the internet (relying heavily on Mark’s Daily Apple, Dr. Axe, and even keto Reddit boards) to gather information and plan out some easy meals for my first week.

My everyday diet embraced healthy carbs like yogurt, fruit, and potatoes, but shied away from too many fats, so I knew I’d have to do some meal prepping to make this massive change stick. I decided to make egg cups (eggs, cheese, bacon, and spinach baked in a muffin tin) for easy grab-and-go breakfasts, spinach salads topped with avocado, bacon bits, cheese, and ranch dressing for lunches, and cheese- and bacon-wrapped chicken for dinners. Lots. Of. Cheese. I snacked on macadamia nuts, enjoyed small pieces of dark chocolate, and even made ‘fat bombs’ (frozen balls of coconut oil, nut butter, and cocoa mixed together) to keep me satisfied and ward off cravings.

I loved the food (I mean, who doesn’t like smothering things in ranch and butter?), but I still worried I would gain a lot of weight.

To my surprise, though, my weight dropped those first few days. I learned that these quickly-lost pounds came from water (which is stored alongside carbs in our bodies), not body fat, but I wasn’t complaining. Plus, all the newfound fat in my diet was so satiating that I simply stopped feeling hungry. Within three days, my cravings disappeared and I felt balanced and energized.

Attack Of The Keto Flu

And then, around the end of week one…the ‘Keto Flu’ hit! A common experience for new keto eaters, the keto flu occurs your magnesium, sodium, and potassium stores become depleted as your body shifts from using carbs to fat as its main source of energy. (These vital electrolytes regulate your heart beat, balance fluid levels in your body, and perform many other important functions—and losing too much of them can be dangerous.) I couldn’t believe how quickly it came on. I felt extremely lethargic and thirsty, needed naps in the middle of the day, and couldn’t even get through a workout.

Related: 5 Mistakes People Make When They Go Keto

Following the guidance of my online gurus, I picked up a magnesium and potassium supplement (like Country Life’s Magnesium Potassium Aspartate), and started drinking chicken Boullion cubes (which contain more than a gram of sodium a pop) to replenish my electrolytes.

The struggle lasted on and off for about two weeks—and it seriously knocked me out.

Smooth Sailing

Once my body got used to being in ketosis and I nailed my electrolyte intake, the ‘keto flu’ passed and all of the perks I’d read about finally started raining down. I had incredible amounts of energy, zero cravings, and slept beautifully. My workouts got back to normal, too.

As the weeks passed, I experimented more and more with my meals. Eggs continued to be my go-to breakfast, but I tried out all sorts of recipes for lunches and dinners, including ‘meattza’ (pizza using a layer of ground beef as the crust) and Hasselback chicken (chicken breasts stuffed with ricotta cheese and spinach). I enjoyed my broccoli with melted cheddar cheese on top, ate a lot of cauliflower (it’s relatively low in carbs), and loaded up on spinach (which provided much-needed potassium).

It's like Where's Waldo… can you find Gertie in the photo? 🐶🐾

A post shared by Liz Josefsberg (@lizjosefsberg) on

I lost weight steadily throughout those two months. By the end, I’d lost 15 pounds total, and my body fat percentage had dropped from 36 percent to 29 percent, meaning I shed fat but kept my precious muscle. (The only other time I’d seen such a significant body fat drop was during my high-protein bodybuilding days!) My results confirmed everything I’d read online: Once your body adapts to burning fat, it will turn to your fat stores for energy.

As impressed as I was with how keto changed my body, though, I don’t think it’s something I could maintain long-term. Since the diet is so restrictive and takes such an immense amount of work and attention to follow, I found it difficult to fully live life while on it. Knowing just one misstep could throw me out of ketosis and back into burning sugar, I stressed about social situations and eating out. Plus, I really missed fruit and wine.

I’m glad I did it, though! Keto taught me that fats are awesome—and I’m truly sorry I avoided them for so many years. Since my experiment, I’ve continued to eat a lot of healthy fats—and even though I’m not all-out keto anymore, my meals are more satisfying and my weight has been easier to maintain. It’s amazing how far a little whole milk goes in a cup of coffee!

 

Liz Josefsberg is a weight loss and wellness expert with over 15 years in the industry. A mom, author, fitness enthusiast, and weight loss success story herself (65 pounds lost!), Liz consults all over the world. She loves testing every diet, exercise regimen, device, and piece of gear she can get her hands on.