Dr. Hilary Trojano : Summit Holistic Medicine Tips

The Role Of Hormones & Hormone Balance

Hormones coordinate the continuous biochemical activity that occurs in all of our cells in our body and brain. They are the chemicals that make things happen on a day-to-day basis within the systems of our body. As the body’s chemical messengers, they orchestrate our metabolic processes by stimulating changes in body cells. As hormone levels fluctuate throughout your lifetime, you may notice mood changes, body composition changes, your overall sensitivity changes, and your potential for various types of activity is different. There are many different types of hormones in our body. Hormones, which originate in various glands throughout the body, are found in the blood, where they circulate to continually bathe our tissues. Receptors within our cells are sensitive to particular hormones that causes them to react. The more hormone present in the cell or the more highly sensitized the receptors, the more intense the reaction. Estrogens Estrogens are some of the most powerful hormones in the human body. Almost all tissues have receptors that make them responsive to estrogens. Estrogens help the urinary tract, breasts, skin, blood vessels, and uterus to stay toned and flexible. Estrogen levels start to rise in girls before menarche, sometimes as early as age 8. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary to release hormones, which then signal the ovaries to produce more estrogen. Estrogen levels continue to rise in girls until they start menstruation, usually by age 11 or 12. It also starts the development of breasts and the growth of pubic hair and hair under the arms. In their early 30s, most women begin to experience declining levels of estrogens and progesterone. With...

The Transition To Fall

The Transition To Fall Dr. Hilary Trojano, ND   Although summer isn’t quite over, fall weather is making its way into the Northeast!  Fall is a particularly significant season when it comes to health and healing; a worthy topic for a brief discussion.  Summer is an energetic, fun, and busy season for most of us.  Many people, particularly in the Northeast, notice that they feel better in the summer.  Who wouldn’t when it’s beautiful and sunny almost every day, and light until almost 10 pm! When fall arrives, it’s often the tendency to turn more inward and pay closer attention to aspects of our lives that have been set aside over the summer months.  At Summit Holistic Medicine, we frequently see patients come in this time of year with the desire to transition to fall with a detoxification program, to address certain health issues they’ve put on the back burner for the summer, or to return to regular self-care habits and routine. Fall is a wonderful time to reflect on and prioritize your health.  It’s a great time to set goals and create space for self-care.  Here are some ideas to consider to spark that motivation: – Consider a 1-month dietary challenge to help promote healthy eating habits.  We often recommend “Transform 30”, which is a program that can be found online. – Explore and identify the possibility that food sensitivities may be impacting your health.  We recommend either food sensitivity testing through our clinic or the “28 Day Elimination and Detoxification Diet.” – Re-visit your basic treatment and dietary guidelines.  Re-incorporate any aspects that may have been lost along the way....

Releasing Toxins from the Body

  Detoxification: the path to wellness   We hear a lot about the concept of toxicity and detoxification, but what does this really mean? Living in today’s world we are exposed to a variety of toxins from different sources that can have a negative impact on our health. This exposure to toxins is through our air, water, food and basic household items. Approximately 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides and herbicides are used per year in the U.S. in our food source. This amounts to about 10 pounds per year for each man, woman and child. Air pollution comes primarily from automobile exhaust and industry waste. Waste products from industry also gets dumped into our water supply and we are also potentially exposed to many deleterious chemicals like heavy metals, plastics and solvents from things like new carpet, paint and household cleansers.   What affect does this have on our health? Exposure to toxins causes cell damage, depletes vital nutrients that are needed for good health, allows toxins to accumulate in our bodies over time, which increases our risk for chronic illness, including cancer. Increased cell death due to toxins leads to faster “turn over” of cells and the increased possibility of genetic mutations, which can potentially lead to production of cancer cells.   What are the symptoms of toxicity? Illness from toxicity occurs when toxic exposure is greater than the body’s ability to eliminate those toxins. Symptoms can vary according to the individual and level of toxic exposure but common symptoms include: headaches, skin rashes, fatigue, allergies, unusual response to medications or supplements, sensitivity to odors, perfumes and chemicals,...

How to Avoid Pesticides In Your Food

According to the Environmental Working Group (an organization of scientists, researchers and policymakers), certain types of organic produce can reduce the amount of toxins you consume on a daily basis by as much as 80 percent. They put together two lists, “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean 15,” to help consumers know when they should buy organic and when it is unnecessary. These lists were compiled using data from the United States Department of Agriculture on the amount of pesticide residue found in non-organic fruits and vegetables after they had been washed. Avoiding chemical exposure in your food is essential to prevention of disease and feeling healthy and vibrant. We sometimes forgot how our food can be our medicine or our nemesis. The list below can help you to stay happy and healthy. Avoid the “Dirty Dozen” list or be sure to buy these fruits and vegetables organic to avoid pesticide exposure. This includes apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, imported nectarines, imported grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, domestic blueberries, lettuce, and kale/collard greens.   Eat the “Clean 15” least toxic fruits and vegetables. This includes onions, sweet corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweat peas, mangoes, eggplant, domestic cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit, and...

Your Gut Instincts: Natural Digestive Health For Overall Wellness

As a naturopathic physician, I know that nothing contributes more to your overall health than digestive wellness. No matter how well you eat, if your digestive system is not breaking down and absorbing the nutrients in your food, your body cannot get what it needs to keep you healthy. Proper gut function is critical to addressing what can be seemingly unrelated conditions. If your gut is not happy, your body is not happy! If you’ve got digestive problems you have lots of company In the United States, at least 75 million people experience digestive disorders. Many more do not know that their unlikely symptoms may also be related to trouble in their GI tracts. Many individuals with digestive problems are often so accustomed to stomach issues that they do not realize how much better they could feel. They may have learned to live with the discomfort and be under the impression that that is just how it’s supposed to be. Ignoring those symptoms over time, can lead to chronic illnesses that are likely to have a greater negative impact on your health. Some surprising signs and symptoms of digestive dysfunction: Congestion Sinusitis Anxiety Depression Fuzzy thinking Loss of bone density Acne Dermatitis Migraine and other headaches Joint inflammation Arthritis (all types) Hypertension (high blood pressure When something disrupts the proper process of digestion, it often affects not only your gut, but also your immune, hormonal and nervous systems. Even if you eat an ideal diet, proper nutrient absorption and energy production may be impaired leading to the development of inflammation and allergies. A significant portion of your immune system...

The Heart of the Matter

During the month of February, Americans see the human heart as the symbol of love. February is American Heart Month, a time to show yourself and the people around you love for healthy habits and lifestyles. Heart disease is not a major cause of death among children and teenagers, but it is the largest cause of death among adults in the United States. In fact, someone in America dies every 37 seconds from some form of cardiovascular disease When we think of heart disease or other cardiovascular issues, children aren’t typically the first people that come to mind. There’s a good reason for that: unless a child has a congenital heart defect or some other unusual condition, heart disease tends to develop later in life. And while genetics is certainly a factor for many adult heart disease patients, the simple fact is that most cases are related to a person’s long-term diet and exercise habits.   Children should come to mind when we hear or talk about “long-term habits.” Research clearly shows that attitudes toward food and exercise form early in life, giving adults a better base for a healthier lifestyle and long term effectiveness. A child with a habit of grabbing an apple or carrot instead of chips or cupcakes will probably grow into an apple/carrot eating adult. The same will happen for the child who reaches for a glass of water instead of soda. Likewise, a child who engages regularly in vigorous, active play is less likely to be obese and has a good chance of maintaining good physical fitness throughout life.   It is possible for...

Fat & Cold Weather: A Winning Combination!

We want to lose it. We want to burn it. We want to trim it. We want to melt it off. But fat isn’t a catch-all criminal waiting to gift us with a few more doughy pounds. Recent research shows not all fat is created equal, and in fact, some fat is good for us! Yes, in our bodies we have fat that helps us lose fat. This miracle blubber is called brown fat, and here is the nitty-gritty about it. What is brown fat? The typical fat that clings after a few extra Whoopie Pies is called “white fat.” It’s the stuff we’ve come to know and hate, and its main purpose is to store energy. While we can accumulate a large and unhealthy amount of white fat, our bodies can also make and store a source of fat (brown fat) that helps us break down stored fat, while playing an important role in boosting our metabolisms. Why is brown fat important? Brown fat comes packed with Mitochondria (the power sources for our cells) which gives it a darker shade. While regular white fat passively stores energy from our excess consumption, brown fat actually burns energy. Research has shown that the amount of brown fat is highest in babies and small animals because it helps to regulate the body’s core temperature by producing heat. In order to produce that heat, the body has to burn energy, which is why this type of fat is actually beneficial for us. According to recent research, activated brown fat can increase our metabolism by 15%. For a typical adult, that means brown fat can burn up...

Prepare yourself this year with natural remedies that can help you enjoy a happy holiday season.

The holidays are upon us and busy home, social and work schedules can lead to excess stress and anxiety. Combined with cold and flu season this time of year, it is important to keep your immune system strong to prevent getting sick at a time when nobody wants to feel tired or congested. An important factor in keeping your health and your senses together is making sure you are getting a good night’s sleep. Sleeplessness can lead to irritability, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and your immune system to not function optimally. If you are tossing and turning, there are things you can do to help relax into sleep naturally. While we generally enjoy the holidays, we all know they can be stressful. Instead of struggling through the holidays, enjoy a healthy, low-stress holiday season this year with some of the following tips. Tips for reducing stress and improving sleep: Avoid excess food and drinks before bedtime. Aim for an early dinner and choose fresh fruit over sugary treats. Instead of a cup of coffee or hot toddy after dinner, enjoy a cup of herbal tea to help you relax in preparation for sleep — hops, passionflower, lemon balm, chamomile and valerian are a few herbs traditionally used to help promote relaxation. Create a calm sleep environment by ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet and comfortable. Try to incorporate daily stress-management techniques such as cardiovascular exercise meditation or yoga. Tips for protecting yourself from the common cold and flu: With all of the hand shakes at holiday parties, be sure to wash your hands often with soap and water and try not to touch...

How To Have A Gluten Free Thanksgiving!

The thought of Thanksgiving (TG) without gluten and dairy may at first seem like the end of the world. Actually, much of Thanksgiving does not involve gluten and dairy – thank goodness!  For example, turkey, sweet potatoes, and vegetables are inherently free of gluten and dairy. Even some stuffing recipes (rice, corn) don’t contain gluten and dairy. So it might not be as difficult as you originally thought!  : ) Some simple steps could be… Gravy made with cornstarch instead of (wheat flour) Sweet or white potatoes made with rice/almond/coconut milk instead of cow milk Or make the potatoes roasted with onions and olive oil instead of mashed or as a souffle Stuffing made with rice, corn or gluten-free bread crumbs instead of wheat bread One important note is the most people who are intolerant to dairy CAN have butter.  This is because butter is composed of the fats from cow milk, not the sugar (lactose) or protein (whey and casein). Even pumpkin pie can be made without gluten and dairy with a few relatively simple tweaks.  My challenge this year is to make a pumpkin pie that is gluten and dairy free, but also egg and sugar free. I did a trial run on the pie yesterday and will post the recipe for you below. One concern that patients have mentioned is when you are going to someone else’s house for Thanksgiving.  Here are a few possibilities I recommend: Offer to bring a dish – the one least likely to be gluten, dairy free in a traditional TG Navigate through the meal to choose the foods that don’t contain...

Sensory Overload & the Importance of Downtime in an Over-stimulating Society

The fall should be a favorite time of year for most people to get outside and enjoy the foliage and crisp weather. So why is it that you can’t seem to enjoy that cool, crisp, quiet woods-walk as much as you think you should? Overstimulation has become an epidemic in our times. Almost everyone suffers from it to some degree and most people are unaware that it is an issue. So what is overstimulation you ask? Where does it come from? Overstimulation occurs from our surrounding environment, whether that is music on the radio, sirens from fire trucks, staring at a computer screen, watching TV, or riding in a crowded subway car. The world we live in is constantly bombarding our nervous systems with stimulating factors, which never really allow our bodies to calm down. When most people think about their bodies and how they handle noise, visual effects and other stimuli, understanding that they filter most of the unimportant stimuli out to make sure our systems don’t become overwhelmed usually goes unnoticed. Living in the type of society and environment we live in, studies have shown that the outside impact on our bodies from stimulating factors, is too high for them to filter out enough of the unimportant or unneeded information. This results in our body receiving a higher than tolerable amount of daily stimulation that in turn wreaks havoc on our nervous systems. Being exposed to too many stimulating factors can leave our nervous systems out of balance. This imbalance can cause adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, exercise intolerance, weight management issues, and a host of other disease...

Sports Nutrition

Athletic Nutrition For Optimal Performance


Nutritional needs vary little between kids and adults—therefore what works for one, works for the other. But what if nutrition is not working for Mom and Dad? Like the famous Hippocratic adage –Physician heal thyself – most adults could benefit from a review of the dietary needs for the whole family’s optimal weight, performance and activity.

Depending upon where we draw the “overweight” line, one-third to a whopping two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. One in ten American adults are type 2 diabetic and an astounding 35% of Americans are prediabetic – of which 90% don’t even know it. American youth, age eighteen and under, are raised in and therefore mirror the nutritional climate that has created this metabolic disaster. To clear the confusion, and help find a healthy diet for your athletic children (and greater adult community), let’s review some basics of sports nutrition.

Three Mistakes when feeding young (and old) athletes:

#1 – Sports drinks and sugared milk. Sports drinks are an undisputed problem—even the American Association of Pediatrics, which is historically cautious about nutritional opinions took a bold stance in 2011 to attack sports drinks similarly to sodas. They say “Frequent or excessive intake of caloric sports drinks can substantially increase the risk for overweight or obesity in children and adolescents.” (Maurer, R. The Blood Code: Unlock the secrets of your metabolism. 2014, pg152-157.)

But I include chocolate milk too—chocolate milk has 9-12 teaspoons of sugar in 12-ounces—equivalent to most soda. The original research that put chocolate milk on the sports map simply compared it to sugary sports drinks and used a small group of lean, elite adult cyclists as a reference group. The truth is protein helps athletes recover—therefore any protein compared to no protein provides better workout recovery. However, there are more factors to consider for your kids.

Solution: Cook a good meal. 99% of the time, a cooked meal with adequate protein and carbohydrate that follows the exertion is enough to recover and prepare for the next day’s activities.

#2 – Low fat diets. Low fat diets do not make leaner or better athletes. There are only three food groups to make a meal: fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Lower one and the other two go up proportionally. Low fat diets elevate the overall carbohydrate burden and promote weight gain, high blood sugar and low energy.

Solution: Literally and figuratively, keep the skin on the chicken. Add dietary fats to your family’s nutrition through raw nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and butter. Enjoy whole fatty cuts of meat and fish ~ purchase 75-85% ground beef instead of the too-lean 90% stuff and enjoy fish cooked with plenty of butter every week.

#3 – Frequent meals. The recommendation to eat 6-times per day has only been since post-1970 America, when low-fat foods mistakenly became the federal recommendation. The failed experiment of eating more-frequent low-fat meals has helped to create the overweight, over-diabetic culture that we live in.

Solution: Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Each meal should have the protein, fat and carbohydrate needed to fuel four to six hours of activity without hunger. The meals that follow athletic exertion must contain adequate protein to assure a full recovery.

As an author and doctor specializing in metabolic health and recovery, I base clinical decisions on data available. But at home, with three athletic kids, let me share with you some practical items from our kitchen:

Three Ingredients for Athletic Success:

#1. Whey protein powder:  Add to smoothies in a pinch. Add frozen avocados and nut or seed butters for  healthy fat additions to a base such as almond milk. (Make sure your whey protein does not contain artificial sweeteners like acesulfame-K or NutraSweet often found in “low carb” sports proteins.)

#2 Electrolyte powder: In the heat of summer especially, I add a scoop of my favorite low to no-sugar electrolyte mix to water bottles. (Try Ultima brand – makes great popsicles too!)

#3 Multiple vitamin & mineral: My kids take the same formula I use, 1-2 capsules of a broad spectrum formula. (Only use iron if you know your child needs it. In my experience, child athletes, especially young women, should have their ferritin (iron) levels tested.)

To summarize, youth and adult athletes have similar nutritional needs – everyone benefits the most from quality cooked meals after a game or training session that contain good quality proteins, good fats, and carbohydrates that satisfy hunger for 4-6 hours. Stay away from sugary sports drinks and chocolate milk in recovery, and use whey protein shakes, or water mixed with dye-free, sugarless electrolyte powders to replenish trace mineral lost by perspiration. A daily multi in capsule form provides essential vitamins and minerals for accelerated athletic metabolic function.