Nursing Baby Rats

Six months ago I rescued two cute little rats from the pet store that were in the “snake food” bucket. Now I know that everyone deserves to eat, but I couldn’t resist taking these two home with me. The pet store owners assured me that they were both girls. However, about two weeks later, I discovered that one of them was definitely a boy! I separated them immediately, but Alice, the female was already pregnant. Patches, the boy, became a proud father of 9! 

Sadly, three days after she gave birth, Alice started showing signs of illness. She was losing her balance, rolling to one side, and was unable to eat or drink on her own. The veterinarian gave her antibiotics, claiming that it would be her only chance. I fed her apple slices to keep her hydrated and a mash of chicken liver and hard boiled egg–very nourishing food. But alas, the next day she passed away. She gave her all to nurse her babies and to care for them as best she could until the very end. 

The babies were still so tiny! Their eyes were closed and they had just the slightest hint of fur on them.
I got some tiny rubber sleeves to fit onto syringes and fed each one of them baby formula for the next two weeks.
They were very hungry and needed their bellies rubbed after each nursingto eliminate.
Quite a bit of work but every single one of them survived!

Once they were 6 weeks old I brought them to the vet to have them sexed and separated the boys from the girls.
I gave the girls away to people who promised to keep them as pets. Now I’ve got Patches the Daddy,
and three of the boys: Scarface, Big Al, and Peeps. More pics to come of the grown ratties!

Here’s an outdoor playpen I built for them. They are all happy and healthy!

Stay tuned for more pet tales and tips on nutrition for critters.

Yours in fun and health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

When Supplements Cause More Harm Than Good

I’m generally not one to get easily annoyed. However, there are a couple of things that really rattle me. One is when products make false or misleading health claims. Another is that silly pink ribbon breast cancer campaign. Please don’t misunderstand me; I’m all about breast cancer awareness and prevention. It’s just that many of the products that boast the pink ribbon logo, actually contain ingredients in them that cause breast cancer! 

So the other day, a product caught my eye at the pharmacy: Viactiv Calcium Caramel Flavored Chews. Now with Vitamin D! And splashed across the top of the box in bright pink, reminiscent of the pink ribbon campaign, an announcement: “News! Emerging research on breast health.” 
To the average consumer, this box of candy could seem like a wonderful and delicious way to take a Calcium supplement. Most women are advised to take at least 500 mg by their doctors. And, well…the extra Vitamin D can’t hurt! Especially since the makers claims that “Vitamin D may support breast health.” 
Turn the box around to read the fine print and the ingredients: sugar, calcium carbonate, corn syrup, hydrogenated coconut oil, sweetened condensed milk, caramel color, salt, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavors, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K, yellow #6. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? 
First of all, sugar feeds cancer cells. Corn syrup is even worse. The corn has probably been genetically modified, since it’s not organic. Same with the soy.  Hydrogenated oils cause heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and possibly cancer. Calcium carbonate is the cheapest, least easily absorbed form of calcium. Artificial flavors and yellow # 6 are some more toxins that your poor liver is going to have to filter out, putting an additional strain on your body. 
Yes, Vitamin D, which acts like a hormone in your body, does support breast health among many other things. But please, please, please, don’t be fooled by these junk food pushers selling their “healthy candy.” 
If you’re feeling confused and overwhelmed with your supplements and aren’t sure what to take, I’m offering a special through the month of October. I will review a week’s worth of your food intake, do a nutritional analysis, and inventory of all your supplements for just $49. I am not a vitamin pusher because I believe that it all has to start with a healthy diet. But there is a time and a place for them and  I’m happy to help you to sort that out. 
Yours in Health,
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Radiation Update: Antioxidants over Iodine

Designs for Health, one of my favorite nutraceutical companies, hosted an educational call on the current radiation situation and here’s what I gleaned from it. If we are threated by radiation, Radioactive Iodine is the least of our worries. The stampede should be for Antioxidants rather than for Potassium Iodine. And the best thing that we can do today is to keep stress levels low, avoid panic, and continue to eat a whole foods diet, free of preservatives and toxins.

Radiation essentially transforms the water in our bodies into highly reactive hydroxyl radicals, the most damaging of all free radicals. These particles can then react with our own DNA, potentially causing all types of cancers throughout the whole body. Radiation is made up of a slew of nasty particles including Krypton, Plutonium, Cesium, Uranium, and other mixed oxides. Some of these have a very long lasting half life of up to one year.

Radioactive Iodine is just one part of the horrendous concoction.  It specifically targets the thyroid and causes thyroid cancer, but it has a very short half life, meaning that it dissipates quickly. Previous incidents such as Chernobyl show that adults have virtually no risk. It was mostly the children that were stricken. Most of their exposure came from drinking milk from cows that had eaten radioactive grass.

It is true that if you are eating a diet that is high in iodine, you will be less likely to absorb the radioactive iodine. Luckily for the Japanese, their traditional diet, rich in sea vegetables and fish is naturally rich in iodine.

Because Radioactive Iodine has such a short half life, it is highly unlikely that here in California we will be exposed to radiation drifting in from the Japanese incident. However, the likelihood of an earthquake, a possible tsunami, and impending accidents to our own nuclear reactors is a very real threat and we should be prepared.

In case of an emergency, right at the time of exposure or within 2-4 hours of an incident, adults should take 130 mg of Potassium Iodine. Infants under 1 year of age should take 65 mg. This will block up to 97% of the absorption of Radioactive Iodine. It should be understood that this is only protecting the thyroid. This will have no effect on all the other kinds of other cancers potentially caused from the radiation. While up to 30 mg of Iodine has been proven effective, the higher dose will ensure blood levels to remain high for a few weeks. It is not necessary to take that much Iodine ahead of time and it can in fact be dangerous to your health!  Side effects include anxiety, heart palpitations, hyperthyroidism, and even death.

So what can we do to protect ourselves from the other, more dangerous elements of radiation? Quite simply, we need to ensure that we are eating an antioxidant rich whole foods diet and that we are optimally detoxifying. Herbs and spices like garlic, ginger, and panax ginseng reduce radiation induced cell death. Aloe Vera protects the skin and digestive tract from radiation exposure, as does ginger.

Melatonin protects against cellular damage. Our bodies do not make melatonin unless we get enough sleep in complete darkness. We make melatonin ourselves from serotonin which we make from amino acids (specifially l-tryptophan and 5-HTP) and Vitamin B6. Amino acids come from protein foods, so adequate protein intake is key. Glutathione is one of our body’s premier antioxidants. We make it ourselves from an amino acid called L-cysteine. Whey protein powder, as long as it’s been low heat processed and isn’t denatured, is a wonderful source of L-cysteine.

Meanwhile, it makes sense to supplement with smaller amounts of iodine over time to ensure that your thyroid receptors are full. Many of us are already iodine deficient as a result of drinking fluoridated and chlorinated water and eating refined flour products that contain bromides. This can lead to a sluggish thyroid and symptoms such as extreme fatigue and inability to lose weight. Contact me ( to order an iodine testing kit to determine what your current levels are and how much you need to supplement with.

It also makes sense to supplement with antioxidants since not all of us can eat 100% organic and fresh every day. I am a big fan of Alpha Lipoic Acid which recycles Vitamins C & E in your body. Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant that is both water and fat soluble so it can positively benefit all of your body’s tissues.

If you are curious about radiation levels in your area, the Environmental Protection Agency is tracking it for us on their website, radnet. 

Meanwhile, if you haven’t been eating a healthy diet, perhaps this is the wake up call you need to start making some positive changes in your life. One of the most beautiful things about healthful eating is that by expanding your own consciousness and making healthier choices, you can have a positive impact on the health of the planet and the state of the world, one bite at a time. For a free 30 minute phone consultation, call me at 510-421-3214. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Yours in Health,
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Calcium Supplements Are Not for Every One

Recently a friend of mine was diagnosed with osteoporosis. She was shocked. “But I’ve been taking calcium supplements my whole life!” she exclaimed. Indeed her blood levels of calcium and even Vitamin D were within the normal range.

What many people don’t realize is that osteoporosis is not a problem of calcium deficiency, but rather of calcium absorption and assimilation . What even fewer people realize is that while some folks benefit from calcium supplements, there are others who can actually cause themselves harm. It has to do with biochemical individuality, what an individual’s particular metabolic type is, and how foods and supplements affect that individual’s blood pH.

My mentor Dr. Kristal used to explain in seminars that if you give 100 people calcium citrate, about half will become more alkaline, while the other half will become more acidic. For the half that become more acidic, in an attempt to stay alkaline, the body will draw minerals from its bones to rebalance the blood pH. So instead of the calcium supplement contributing to bone health, for these people, the calcium supplement has a negative effect.

Aside from this blood pH issue, there are many people who take too much supplemental calcium and not enough magnesium and/or Vitamins D & K to balance it out. The body will not get the message to send the calcium to the bones and responds by storing the calcium in inappropriate and potentially troublesome areas such as the insides of the arteries or around the joints.

To build and protect healthy, strong bones, it is important to maintain an ideal blood pH. In order to do this, you should know your metabolic type, and what foods you should emphasize to keep you in balance. There is currently much misunderstanding on how to “alkalize” one’s system. Alkaline water, more green foods, raw foods and “special” supplements are bogus unless you know how your individual system responds to them. In other words, a particular product may make you more acidic and your neighbor more alkaline because your metabolisms are working differently. For more reading on this subject, please refer to The Nutrition Solution, by Dr. Harold Kristal and James Haig.

In addition to maintaining proper pH, engaging in regular weight bearing exercise, rebounding on a mini trampoline, and salivary hormone testing (low estrogen can lead to weak bones), are all part of the equation for healthy bones.

I have been using Dr. Kristal’s in-office testing protocol  for metabolic type testing that looks at urine, saliva, and blood in order to determine an individual’s metabolic type for the last 8 years and have seen tremendous results. The body does not lie! To learn more about this unique process, please contact me: or call me at 510-421-3214.

Yours in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Protect Yourself From Radiation

The catastrophe that’s hit Japan is mindblowing and has affected me on a deep emotional level. Our home, Planet Earth, is not as vast as we once believed it to be and what happens far away can impact us on so many levels. We are all interconnected in this web of life.

Today, the headlines are announcing a nuclear disaster in Japan that is almost as bad as Chernobyl. Here in California, we are threatened with the pollution that could make it’s way across the Pacific.

Here are my recommendations, (gleaned from Drs. Ann Louise Gittleman and Jon Barron) to protect yourself from radiation:

Eat sea vegetables daily.  Sea vegetables are rich in sodium alginate which chelates radiation out of your system. You can use Nori seaweed sheets to wrap sandwiches in instead of bread. You can tear nori sheets into pieces and mix them into salad, soups, and rice. You can find dulse and kelp flakes in your local health food store and sprinkle them liberally onto your food. Drink bladderwrack tea. You can boil your grains with strips of Kombu seaweed. Use hijiki and wakame to make salads. (You can skip the sugar and use agave nectar instead in the linked seaweed salad recipes).

Boost your beta carotenes:  This will help to keep your immune system strong and keep your mucous membranes lubricated. Eat carrots, winter squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and any and all dark leafy vegetables.

Protect your DNA with nucleotide rich foods: Nucleotides protect DNA integrity. Eat sardines, anchovies, and/or sprinkle nutritional yeast (at least 2 Tbsp) on your foods every day.

Supplements: If you are low on iodine, your thyroid will pick up the radioactive iodine that is being released into the atmosphere. Preload your thyroid with good iodine so that your are less likely to absorb the radioactive kind. If you have a healthy thyroid and are not taking medication, Take the iodine supplement called Iodoral, at least 125 mg daily with food. I also recommend Russian Choice Immune, a probiotic supplement that was especially designed for Chernobyl survivors.

Stay strong and positive and try to remain in a state of gratitude rather than one of panic.

Your in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

When No Amount of Food Will Fill You Up

Dear Readers,

I hesitated to write this post, but have decided to let myself be vulnerable.  No one among us is perfect and even a holistic nutritionist is sometimes challenged with her own emotional eating! So I share with you my latest struggle in hopes that someone may identify and feel inspired.

I’ve had the January doldrums. The holidays are over, the credit card bills are due, the next holiday in sight is Valentine’s Day and romance is NOT in the air. Although it’s natural to put on a little weight over the Winter, I am unhappy that everything feels a little snug. My workout routine has been sporadic and my body would much rather rest and sleep in than go outside in the dark and cold.

So the other day, I was feeling particularly low and premenstrual. I was REALLY craving something and so I wandered into the Berkeley Bowl grocery store. As I walked through the isles, I slowly began to fill up my shopping cart with “healthy” treats. Being a nutritionist, I try to follow certain guidelines around the foods I eat. No more than five ingredients, things that I can pronounce and recognize, no sugar, no gluten (I am gluten sensitive), decent fiber content, etc, etc.

As I was approaching the checkout line, I scanned the contents of my cart. I had a pint of coconut bliss  (agave sweetened coconut milk based ice cream), a couple different organic dark 70% or more cocoa content chocolate bars, several different varieties of gluten free cookies, various “raw” concoctions, and, a bagful of dried mango slices. All “nutritious” foods, but truly sugar and fat in various forms. Suddenly, I panicked. I realized that I was going to go home, probably sample ALL of these tasty treat and  feel overly full afterwards. I also recognized that my HUNGER to FEEL BETTER would undoubtably still be there, despite having filled my belly.  I turned around, left the shopping cart and walked out of the store. (Sorry Berkeley Bowl employees! I owe you one…)

Once out of the store, I called a friend to talk about what had just happened and we shared a laugh. THAT made me feel better. I took some deep belly breaths and asked myself “What is really going on?” I was feeling stressed out, unappreciated, and slightly anxious, and like I hadn’t had any “fun” lately. I decided to take off my shoes and go walk in the grass in the median right across the street. On the spur of the moment, I tried a cartwheel. THAT made me feel better. Interestingly, there is quite a bit of research suggesting that simply putting your bare feet in the earth can do wonders for your overall health.

Am I suggesting that you walk barefoot and do cartwheels instead of numbing yourself with food? NO. Well, maybe sometimes if that works for you!  What I am suggesting is to stay present with yourself. Observe your behavior with curiosity and try to find out what your real motivation is. You may be surprised by what you discover. What I am beginning to feel is gratitude for my seemingly senseless cravings. They are a cry for help. They are my spirit begging for attention. And I am starting to pay attention.

On the flip side, I know that my body and brain need attention too. Serotonin (your feel good brain chemical) drops the lowest during this time of year and the body’s response is to crave sweets. Serotonin also drops dramatically right before a woman’s period begins. Although eating carbohydrates at night will temporarily boost serotonin, doing so on a regular basis will sap your serotonin reserves if you’re not replenishing with the building blocks of serotonin, namely amino acids that come from protein foods. You also need a lot of Vitamin B6 to convert amino acids into serotonin.

With this knowledge, I am revamping my eating plan to include more protein and healthy fats for a happy brain. I am also being gentle with myself and allowing myself to do a little bit of hibernation in this Winter season. What this experience has taught me is how important it is to be present in my body and with my emotions. Feeling connection in the universe and cultivating joy for myself truly needs to come first. Unless I have that, I won’t have the energy to follow through with what I “know” intellectually as far as my nutritional needs are concerned. 

So I leave you with this question: What will nourish you today besides your food?  What time have you carved out for yourself to do something that brings you joy? I’d love to hear from you…

Yours in Health,

Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE

Yummy Yam & Quinoa Sushi Rolls

Sushi rolls are actually super easy to make. It just takes a little preparation time and some practice! I love to make these and bring them to parties and pot lucks. Beautiful, colorful, and yummy, your friends will be impressed!

I prefer to use quinoa because it is higher in protein than brown rice. Also, it tends to stick together pretty well so it’s easier to work with.

Soak the quinoa overnight (for at least 6 hours) in water and a squirt of lemon juice. Soaking grains helps to get rid of the phytic acid coating that makes them hard to digest for some people. Quinoa in particular can have a bitter flavor if it’s not soaked beforehand. Rinse well, and you’ll see some soapy residue. Those are soapamines that are shedding off. Good riddance! Those soapamines and the phytic acid prevents aborption of minerals from the grains.

Cover the quinoa with pure water (about 2 inches above) and bring to a boil. Add a strip of Kombu seaweed into the pot to mineralize the grains and give yourself a super nutrition boost! Minerals nourish your system, strengthen your bones, tone your nervous system, and even boost your metabolism. You can find Kombu seaweed in the Asian or macrobiotic section of your local health food store. Simmer for 35 minutes or so. Let cool.

Meanwhile, chop up whatever vegetables you have on hand. This time around I had some cooked yams, steamed kale, green onions, avocado, and carrots. Cut them into long strips.

Place a sheet of Nori seaweed, shiny side down, onto a bamboo sushi rolling mat. Then, grab a handful of quinoa and spread it across the bottom of a sheet of Nori seaweed. Add on your various vegetables, making sure you don’t pile them on too thick or it will be hard to roll up!

Now here’s the tricky part! Using the bamboo roller mat, pinch the end closest to you closed across the top of all the goodies and then “roll” it closed. You may need a touch of moisture to “stick” the sheet closed at the end. Simply wet your finger and pat the edges.

Use a super sharp knife to slice the final roll into pieces. The ends may look too funky to serve, so just eat them yourself! If you don’t have a super sharp knife, a serrated knife works well.

Because I am avoiding wheat gluten, I serve the sushi with wheat free tamari (yes, soy sauce has wheat in it). Enjoy!

Keep me posted on your own sushi making adventures!
Yours in Health,
Sylvie Nalezny, MA, CNE