Nutrition Tips for Car Trips

Car trips are a great way to bond with your loved ones and create lasting memories. However, they can be challenging if you have dietary restrictions. You can spare a lot of frustration and greatly increase your happiness factor by being prepared!

Car trips are a great way to bond with your loved ones and create lasting memories. However, they can be challenging if you have dietary restrictions. You can spare a lot of frustration and greatly increase your happiness factor by being prepared!


Spring is here and it is the beginning of car trip season!! Car trips are a great way to see the sights, bond with your loved ones, and create lasting memories. For people who value eating healthy, or have dietary restrictions, car trips can be challenging as you pass through long stretches of greasy diners and convenience stores. You can spare a lot of frustration and greatly increase your happiness factor by being prepared. Both kids and adults will enjoy these food suggestions. 

You may have food allergies that I haven't addressed in this post, but I hope you feel inspired to make whatever foods you need to feel good, and get out and travel. An added bonus of having your food with you, is being able to pull over for a spontaneous picnic when you find a beautiful location!  I hope after reading this post that you pack an ice chest and hit the road! Please note that GF stands for “gluten free.”



  • UHT milk or milk alternatives in small cartons (doesn’t require refrigeration)

  • Home brewed iced green/mint tea in a thermos

  • Mineral water--add cut up fruit

  • Jugs of filtered water to fill your own water bottles


  •  Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce for sandwiches

  • Cut up broccoli, mushrooms, peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes for dipping into hummus

  • Berries, grapes, cut-up melon, bananas, oranges, apples

  • Nut butter (sunflower, almond, cashew, peanut)

  • Jelly or raw unfiltered honey

  • Organic lunch meat or your own cooked meat to use for sandwiches

  • Pre-sliced cheese, baby bell or cheese sticks (or cheese alternatives)

  • Tuna Salad kits or homemade salmon salad

  • Condiments (we prefer hummus, avocado and/or pesto as sandwich spreads instead of mustard or mayo)

  • Avocados or guacamole

  • Homemade GF morning glory muffins

  • GF Bread and Bagels

  • GF pretzels

  • Organic Popcorn

  • Pistachios, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

  • GF trail mix (make your own with GF nuts/seeds, GF dried fruit, GF chocolate chips, GF pretzels or cereal).

  • GF Dried fruit-mangoes, apples, blueberries

  • Organic yogurt

  • GF Granola

  • Brown Rice Cakes

  • Whole Grain Crackers

  • Hummus

  • Olives

  • Rice, veggie and seaweed hand rolls (kids love them)

  • Cottage Cheese (you can make a high protein veggie dip out of this)

  • Hardboiled eggs (these last 5 days)

  • Pesto for sandwiches

  • Tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce for sandwiches

Other Essentials:

  • For long hikes or bikes: Healthier sports drink powders (like Skratch) that can be dumped in water bottles.

  • Non-leaching, nonBPA lined stainless steel water bottles

  • Knives, spoons

  • Wipes for dirty hands

  • Wax food storage bags (or ziplock bags) for food storage and sandwiches, etc.

  • Reusable plastic food containers

  • Napkins, small paper plates or cups

  • Small travel bottle of dish soap, sponge and dish towel to wash containers and water bottles in hotels or campsites.

Fabulous Flax: Why This Seed is Good for Both Women AND Men

Flaxseed is a nutritional power house

Flaxseed is a nutritional power house


Flaxseed is a nutritional power house for both women and men and has some special  properties that set it apart from other nuts and seeds. Flaxseed can help to manage hormone related health conditions in women AND men as well as lower the risk of heart disease. Flaxseed oil can help heal irritated skin and the lining of the GI tract.


§  Is an excellent source of mucilage, a “gum” type of fiber that can provide special nourishing support to the gastrointestinal tract.

§  Is helpful with hormone balance and decreased risk of hormone sensitive cancers for women and men.

§  May help to lower the risk of heart disease.

§  Flax seed extracts decreased urinary symptoms and the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH-also known as prostate gland enlargement).

§  Decreased the uncontrolled growth of cancerous cells with prostate and breast cancer.

§  Significantly lowered cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.

§  Is particularly high in an omega-3 fatty acid called alpha linoleic acid that has anti-inflammatory properties and is especially beneficial for skin conditions, intestinal irritation, and the inner lining of blood vessels.

§  Contains the highest source of dietary lignans of any food, a type of fiber that is rich in antioxidants and may provide protection against hormone related cancers.

Male and Female Hormone Balance

Flaxseed consumption in males may help to normalize excessive conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) by downregulating an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase (  High DHT in comparison to testosterone is hypothesized to be associated with male pattern baldness (English, R.S., Jr., 2018), acne, and benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH). However, some DHT is necessary for good health. It might be expected that downregulating the 5-alpha reductase enzyme with a food such as flaxseed (a low potency source), as opposed to using powerful medications that block this enzyme altogether (such as the medications used to combat hair loss and BPH), would be far gentler on the body, and therefore, have far fewer negative side effects. More studies are needed to confirm this and flax seed itself has not been studied for hair loss and acne yet.

Flaxseed lignans are associated with decreased prostate tumor cell proliferation (uncontrolled cell growth) (Azrad et al., 2013).  Both breast and prostate cancer patients had decreased tumor cell proliferation when the patients were fed flax seed for one month prior to surgery to remove the tumor compared to patients who didn’t receive flax seed (Azrad et al., 2013). In women, flaxseed consumption has been shown to reduce breast cancer risk by 33-70%, reduce all cause mortality by 40-53%, reduce breast cancer tumor growth, does not interfere with tamoxifen effectiveness, and is safe to consume with breast cancer (Mason & Thompson, 2014).    

In rats with experimentally induced BPH, the consumption of a lignan extract of flax was associated with a significantly decreased weight of the prostate gland, thus concluding that flax seed might be a viable option for lowering the risk of developing BPH (Bisson, Hidalgo, Simons, & Verbruggen, 2014). In another study on subjects with BPH, the effects of using a flaxseed lignan extract on alleviating urinary tract symptoms, was shown to improve the urinary symptoms of BPH and improve quality of life similar to that of commonly used medication interventions. (Zhang et al., 2008). Ground flaxseed consumption at two tablespoons a day along with a low fat diet for six months, resulted in significantly decreased circulating prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels in men scheduled to undergo repeat prostate biopsies. (Demark-Wahnefried et al., 2004).

Do you feel you need help with nutritional intervention for hormone balance? I offer a free 15 minute phone consult to discuss how I can help you with this.

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Cardiovascular Disease Risk

In terms of heart disease risk, flax seed consumption (2 tablespoons/day) has been shown to decrease plasma total and LDL cholesterol level, even beyond that of cholesterol lowering medications in those with documented cardiovascular disease (Edel et al., 2015). Ground flax seed (2 tablespoons/day) may be one of the most potent blood pressure lowering foods in those with cardiovascular disease markers (Rodriguez-Leyva et al., 2013). Two tablespoons a day of ground flax seed was shown to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number) 10-15 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) around 7 mm Hg. (Rodriguez-Leyva et al., 2013). Flax seed is considered to be a very beneficial addition to the diet in those with peripheral arterial disease for controlling all of the above risk factors, and does not appear to interfere with blood thinning medications. Lastly, ground flaxseed has been shown to lower blood sugar, most likely due to it’s fiber content.

Flaxseed oil for Gastrointestinal and Skin Benefits

It’s not just the fiber and lignans in flaxseed that are healthy, the oil can be helpful to the GI tract and skin as well. One property of flaxseed oil is that is soothing to the GI tract and it was found to heal intestinal ulcers in rats about as well as the medication zantac (Dugani, Auzzi, Naas, & Megwez, 2008). In fact, for those with inflammation in the intestinal tract, flax seed oil may have a healing benefit and be easier to tolerate than ground or whole flax seeds. Flax seed oil is also helpful in decreasing skin irritation and sensitivity. (Neukam et al., 2011). If you are using the oil, buy it in small containers as it can go rancid quickly, and do not cook with it or you will ruin the beneficial properties of the oil.

How to Consume Flaxseed

Not sure how to use flaxseed in your diet? First of all, it needs to be ground to make all the beneficial properties are available to absorb. Also, if you are gluten free make sure you buy flaxseed that is labeled as such. Bob’s Red Mill is one company that makes gluten free flaxseed. Keep it in the freezer so it doesn’t go rancid and if you prefer to grind it in advance then keep it in a dark storage container that blocks the light because light can encourage rancidity or “spoiling” of the beneficial fatty acids.

The beneficial properties of flaxseed remain intact with cooking (compared to using the oil). To make your bake goods healthier and give them a lower glycemic index, start adding ground flaxseed to pancakes, waffles, muffins, or bread. You can also blend it into smoothies, stir it into oatmeal or yogurt or put it on top of a whole grain cereal. The website World’s Healthiest Foods ( has more information about how to use flaxseed. This is one of my favorite websites about the health properties of foods so please check it out.

Risks of Too Much Flaxseed

Flax can pack a punch with fiber and has a mild laxative effect so it is great for those with bowel elimination concerns.  You need to work up slowly with flaxseed. Start with 1-2 teaspoons a day and then work up to about two tablespoons per day.

Beware of too much flaxseed in young children. While an excellent source of fiber it may be irritating to the gastrointestinal tract and dull their appetite, or cause upset stomach and diarrhea. Incorporating ground flaxseed in baked goods is likely enough for children without going overboard and adding it to smoothies, etc. Likewise for adults with inflammation in the intestinal tract, flaxseeds might be irritating, so start with a small amount (around 1 teaspoon) and slowly work up, knowing that you might not be able to tolerate two tablespoons.

The Bottom Line

Ground flaxseed has hormone balancing effects, cancer protective effects, and cardiovascular protective effects for both men and women. Flaxseed oil can help with skin and gastrointestinal irritation. Try to incorporate flaxseed on a regular basis in baked goods, smoothies and cereal. Be careful not to over consume flaxseed, especially in children. Overdoing any seeds and nuts can be irritating to people with certain bowel conditions so use common sense when consuming any nuts and seeds, including flaxseed.


Please see the recipes on my website for morning glory muffins and homemade gluten free bread (coming soon).


Azrad, M., Vollmer, R. T., Madden, J., Dewhirst, M., Polascik, T. J., Snyder, D. C., . . . Demark-Wahnefried, W. (2013). Flaxseed-derived enterolactone is inversely associated with tumor cell proliferation in men with localized prostate cancer. J Med Food, 16(4), 357-360. doi:10.1089/jmf.2012.0159

Bisson, J. F., Hidalgo, S., Simons, R., & Verbruggen, M. (2014). Preventive effects of lignan extract from flax hulls on experimentally induced benign prostate hyperplasia. J Med Food, 17(6), 650-656. doi:10.1089/jmf.2013.0046

Demark-Wahnefried, W., Robertson, C. N., Walther, P. J., Polascik, T. J., Paulson, D. F., & Vollmer, R. T. (2004). Pilot study to explore effects of low-fat, flaxseed-supplemented diet on proliferation of benign prostatic epithelium and prostate-specific antigen. Urology, 63(5), 900-904. doi:10.1016/j.urology.2003.12.010

Dugani, A., Auzzi, A., Naas, F., & Megwez, S. (2008). Effects of the oil and mucilage from flaxseed (linum usitatissimum) on gastric lesions induced by ethanol in rats. Libyan J Med, 3(4), 166-169. doi:10.4176/080612

Edel, A. L., Rodriguez-Leyva, D., Maddaford, T. G., Caligiuri, S. P., Austria, J. A., Weighell, W., . . . Pierce, G. N. (2015). Dietary flaxseed independently lowers circulating cholesterol and lowers it beyond the effects of cholesterol-lowering medications alone in patients with peripheral artery disease. J Nutr, 145(4), 749-757. doi:10.3945/jn.114.204594

English, R.S., Jr. (2018). A hypothetical pathogenesis model for androgenic alopecia, clarifying the dihydrotestosterone paradox and rate-limiting recovery factors.Med Hypothesis. 111., 73-81., doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2017.12.027

Mason, J. K., & Thompson, L. U. (2014). Flaxseed and its lignan and oil components: can they play a role in reducing the risk of and improving the treatment of breast cancer? Appl Physiol Nutr Metab, 39(6), 663-678. doi:10.1139/apnm-2013-0420

Neukam, K., De Spirt, S., Stahl, W., Bejot, M., Maurette, J. M., Tronnier, H., & Heinrich, U. (2011). Supplementation of flaxseed oil diminishes skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition. Skin Pharmacol Physiol, 24(2), 67-74. doi:10.1159/000321442

Rodriguez-Leyva, D., Weighell, W., Edel, A. L., LaVallee, R., Dibrov, E., Pinneker, R., . . . Pierce, G. N. (2013). Potent antihypertensive action of dietary flaxseed in hypertensive patients. Hypertension, 62(6), 1081-1089. doi:10.1161/hypertensionaha.113.02094 retrieved on 2/8/18 from:

Zhang, W., Wang, X., Liu, Y., Tian, H., Flickinger, B., Empie, M. W., & Sun, S. Z. (2008). Effects of dietary flaxseed lignan extract on symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia. J Med Food, 11(2), 207-214. doi:10.1089/jmf.2007.602


Too Much Iron

Today’s blog is about iron overload. This topic is especially relevant after a news report on the Iowa Women’s Health Study, which showed that multivitamins increased the risk of death.  The Study revealed that it was likely the amount of copper and iron that increased the risk of death. Iron was found to be especially toxic in a dose dependent manner. In other words, the more iron that was supplemented, the higher the risk of death. The average age of women in this study was 60 years.  These women were post-menopausal and should not have been taking iron.

Heavy metal toxicity has long been recognized for mercury, lead and arsenic, but iron toxicity was thought to only occur in those with a genetic condition called hemochromatosis.  New research is suggesting that iron overload is actually very common in the average person.

High iron levels accelerate degeneration of the body. Excessive iron has been linked to diabetes, liver and colon cancer, neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, heart attack, kidney damage and joint damage. Free, unbound iron causes “rusting” or oxidation of the tissues. High iron levels also feed bacteria which can result in frequent or more severe infections. Researchers at UCLA found that in healthy older adults, those with the highest accumulations of iron in the brain had the poorest performance on memory and information processing.

The body’s defense against high iron is to trap it in cages called “ferritin”. We see ferritin levels rise as iron is accumulating in the body’s tissues. In states of chronic inflammation and infection, we also see the ferritin levels rise as a protective mechanism. Ferritin levels are not routinely measured, but in light of new research on iron accumulation, you should start requesting this test routinely from your doctor.

Women have been thought to be protected from a lifetime of excessive iron build up since menstruation helps to decrease iron levels. But researchers have found that women who have undergone hysterectomies had higher iron levels in the brain than women who went through menopause naturally. The levels of iron build up in the brain in women with hysterectomies matched the levels found in men. The newer generation of birth control pills that only allow four menstrual periods per year may pose a risk for iron build up in young women starting at a younger age.

These are some suggestions for protecting yourself against high iron levels (note if you have low iron or anemia you have low iron, the opposite problem):

  • Have an iron assessment by a clinical nutritionist or registered dietitian trained in functional medicine. We use tighter reference ranges than doctors. For instance, we like ferritin levels to be around 100 ng/mL. Current medical reference ranges consider ferritin levels as high as 400 ng/mL to be normal.
  • Do not cook in cast iron if you have high iron levels. However, cast iron is great for low iron levels.
  • For men, post-menopausal women or women who only have several periods a year, make sure your multivitamin does not contain iron (unless you are anemic).
  • Alternate different forms of protein. Eat less red meat and more fish, poultry, and vegetarian sources of protein.
  • Limit alcohol as it increases the absorption of iron. Red wine is a good source of iron. In fact, it is the largest source of iron in the Italian diet. Steak dinners with red wine should be saved for special occasions.
  • Drink green tea after meals—it decreases the absorption of iron by 70%.
  • Talk to your doctor about giving blood regularly if your iron levels run on the high normal side. This not only helps people in need but will keep you healthier over the long run.
  • If your iron stores are on the high normal side, there are numerous foods and supplements that clinical nutritionists can use to help you naturally “chelate” iron out of the body. There are also changes in diet that can be made to ensure that iron stays in the“bound” form instead of “free” form, helping to prevent oxidative damage or “rusting” of the body.