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Mercury and Your Health

By Susan Blum, MD 

Are you concerned about your exposure to mercury from the food you are eating?  If you eat fish at all, then you should be. This can be confusing, but is very important because mercury can cause autoimmune disease and other health-related problems.  That is why I decided to dedicate our April newsletter to this topic…to shed some light on this issue and to help you decide what to eat, and what to do to protect yourself from this environmental toxin.

Where do you find mercury and what is it?

Mercury is part of a group of compounds called heavy metals. There are ‘good’ heavy metals like iron, cobalt, copper, manganese, molybdenum, and zinc.  They are good because humans require these metals to function properly.  However, keep in mind that these too can be toxic at excessive levels.

On the other hand, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and plutonium are ‘bad’ toxic metals and if they accumulate in the body over time, can cause serious illness.   For our purpose today, I will focus on mercury because there is plenty of data that explains what it does in the body and how we are exposed.

Where does Mercury come from?

There are 2 main sources of mercury that we are exposed to.  First, mercury is released into the air from coal burning power plants and from volcanoes.  After it settles in the oceans and soil, we end up eating it from the fish or plants or animals that grow and live in these places. The big fish eat the little fish, and the mercury bio accumulates, which means it gets more concentrated in the bigger fish.

The other main source of mercury is the vapor released from silver fillings.  While this is somewhat controversial, there is enough evidence suggesting this is a real issue, and why I recommend replacing your fillings if possible.

There are also other places you can be exposed to mercury, like in the preservative of some vaccines, and old thermometers.  But fish and silver fillings are the biggest problem.

How does mercury accumulate in your body and make you sick?

Your body was created with multiple detox systems in place to clear out the mercury you are exposed to.  One of these, called the glutathione system, is very active in your liver and also in all the cells in your body.  If you are exposed to more mercury than this system can handle, the mercury can build up in your body and cause damage to your nerves, thyroid, immune system (autoimmune disease, for example), and all the cells in your body by causing something we call oxidative stress.  This simply means that you run out of the important antioxidants that your body needs to protect itself, resulting in free radicalscreated by the mercury that can then damage the tissues.

To protect your cells and tissues, it is critical that you keep your liver detox system in tip-top shape by eating lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables with plenty of color.  In addition, you can take specific antioxidant supplements to boost your glutathione.  Our favorite and most convenient way to do this is by taking our BlumBox Immune & Antioxidant Support Packets, created for just this purpose.   

The next step is to support your liver and its ability to clear this metal out of your system. The best strategy is to do a liver detox program once or twice/year, and to make sure you are eating foods with selenium, sulfur (onions), cruciferous veggies, and lots of antioxidants. Our nutritionist can help you with a personalized program, or you can join one of our signature Detox Groups.  If you eat a lot of fish or suspect you have too much mercury already, both of these are good options.  For more information or to join our next detox group,

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Sesame Kelp Gomasio

Sesame seeds are excellent for healing the thyroid. To boost its potency, we’ve added the sea vegetable kelp to our gomasio recipe for added minerals and thyroid support!  Try this salty condiment on your raw cruciferous vegetables, or as a garnish on salads, soups, noodles, and other vegetables.

Serves 12 Tablespoons


  • 1/2 cup, sesame seeds – toasted
  • 1/4 cup, kelp – toasted
  • 1/2 tsp, sea salt with iodine


  • In a mortar, grind the sesame seeds, kelp, and salt together until well combined, but not into a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle you can blend this in a coffee grinder in two batches.
  • Store in an airtight container.
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Detoxing Deliciously: Shrimp Masala

For your weekly fish dish, we love this low-mercury, flavorful recipe rich in nutrients that will help your body clear out toxins.

Serves 4


  • 2 tbsp, coconut oil
  • 2 tsp, cumin seeds
  • 2, red chili peppers – dried
  • 11/2 cups , onion – diced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp, fresh ginger – minced peeled
  • 2 tsp, garlic – minced
  • 2 tsp, coriander – ground
  • 11/2 tsp, cumin – ground
  • 1/2 tsp, turmeric – ground
  • 1/2 tsp, cayenne pepper
  • Pinch, Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 14-ounce can , tomatoes – diced
  • 1 lb, medium shrimp – peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup , coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup, cilantro – chopped


  • Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and red chilies and cook, stirring, until the fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the onion and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Then add the ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until dark and fragrant, about 3 minutes more.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook until somewhat soft, about 3 minutes. You can make the sauce up to this point a day ahead.
  • When ready to serve, heat the sauce over high heat. As soon as it starts to bubble on the edges, add the shrimp and cook, stirring, until the shrimp turns opaque. Lower the heat, gradually stir in the coconut milk, and gently heat it through – do not allow to boil.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with cilantro and serve over rice or quinoa.
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The Secret To Happiness

By Elizabeth Greig, FNP

Heavy metals, and toxins in general, can be a trigger for brain fog and mental dullness.  If this is something you are experiencing, there are different ways to detoxify your mind. One of the most effective tools is to be mindful about the information you take into your mind: bad news, fear-inducing news, gossip, and useless information can all clutter your mind.

So what can you do? Be proactive and turn off the radio or television when you listen to things that make you feel anxious, angry, or bored.   Ask your friends and family to stop telling you the juicy, but destructive, gossip and tell them that you are being kind to your mind by making a choice about what’s really important for it to hear.

I recently heard about a study that showed that the people who are the happiest are those whose thoughts are about what or who are right in front of them–meaning present time.  So keep your mind centered on what you are doing right now in the present, and don’t let it wander off looking for worries or troubles.  The secret to happiness is a happy mind that is enjoying the moment!

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3 Simple Steps To Great Gut Health

Nutrition is vital in Functional MedicineNutrition is vital in Functional Medicine

By Susan Blum, MD

If you have gas or bloating after you eat, or if you experience constipation and/or loose stools, or any type of intestinal discomfort, you have a problem with how your gut is functioning. While this is commonly labeled irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS, the diagnosis doesn’t tell you why you’re having this problem.

Usually, the issue is something called dysbiosis, which means your gut flora isn’t healthy. You might have an overgrowth of harmful bacteria, yeast or parasites, or you might not have enough of the good stuff: those probiotics you find in yogurt and cultured foods.

But who cares about a little gas or bloating?

Your gut flora needs to be fixed, because the symptoms you’re having could just be the tip of the iceberg. A whopping 70% of your immune system is located in your gut and if the flora are out of balance, you have an increased risk of something called Leaky Gut Syndrome, and this can lead to autoimmune disease.

Here are my tips to heal your gut, which will treat your symptoms and keep your immune system happy, too.

  1. For your digestive symptoms, find out whether or not you’ve got food sensitivities, which could be causing the problem. Check yourself for gluten and dairy by removing them both from your diet at the same time for three weeks, and then reintroduce each one at a time, four days apart.
  2. For your flora, eat cultured food every day, like coconut or almond milk yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut or kimchee, and consider taking a probiotic supplement.
  3. If the above doesn’t do the trick, consider a gut-cleansing program using herbs like berberine or oregano to remove the harmful microbes. Our new HealMyGut program will help you do just that!








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A Day In The Life….Of Your Toxic Exposures

By Darcy McConnell, MD

We come into contact with thousands of chemicals each day.  Luckily, we are equipped to handle toxic exposure – our liver metabolizes and removes these harmful substances the best that it can and we go about our business. Unfortunately, sometimes the burden of toxicity becomes overwhelming to the body, and causes us to suffer a multitude of ailments from fatigue and brain fog to autoimmune disease and cancer.

Though it is impossible to avoid exposure altogether, it is not difficult to reduce our body’s burden of toxins with some simple steps.  Let’s take a look at where these toxic exposures are hiding in our everyday life so we can address them and make some simple changes.

A day in the life … of your toxic exposure.  Where you might be accumulating toxins without even being aware of it:

You wake up after sleeping for hours on a mattress that may be exposing you to hundreds of harmful chemicals, and walk across a carpet that has flame retardants and VOCs seeping from it.  The cleaning products used in your home are full of toxins that remain in the air you breathe and on surfaces you touch.

  • You start your day brushing your teeth and showering with water that may be contaminated with chlorine, heavy metals, and other toxic compounds. 
  • You use personal care products that contain endocrine disruptors, harmful chemicals that alter hormones, and other dangerous substances like aluminum, phthalates, propylene glycol, and all kinds of colorings and fragrances.   
  • Into the kitchen for breakfast, and you prepare and eat food that is tainted with chemicals and additives.  Pesticides, antibiotics and hormone residues lurk in conventional produce, meats, and dairy; heavy metals and PCBs contaminate our fish supply.  BPA and phthalates leach from plastics in food packaging and bottles.
  • You get dressed, and the clothing you wear may have toxins from dry cleaning chemicals, flame retardants and synthetic plastics that are breathed in and absorbed through the skin.

It’s scary, you haven’t even left the house yet and you’ve been exposed to so many disruptive chemicals!

But we should not despair, though the research and evidence of harm is damning.  We have a choice to make the less toxic purchase every time we buy food, cleaning products, cosmetics, clothing, or furniture.

Come learn how to detoxify your environment and find guidance on how to make clean, healthy choices for decreasing your everyday toxic exposure.  Join me for my free talk on Monday April 18th at 6pm! 

Photo Credit: Household Chemical Cleaners 

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What Role Do Genetics Play In Your Health?

by Elizabeth Greig, FNP

Several times a week, I see someone at Blum Center who has multiple autoimmune conditions or cancer or both and has had a moderate to high level of toxicant (toxin) exposures.  For example, they may have lived on or near a farm with an apple orchard and drank well water growing up in the 60s, they spray their apartment weekly or monthly with roach-killer, they play golf regularly, or they’ve taken many prescription drugs over many years.  All of these toxicants can be removed by the detoxification pathways in the body, particularly those found in the liver.  The efficiency of this process is determined in part by your genes.

How much effect – or risk – a particular gene, or group of genes, has on your health or illness is determined in part by your environment, such as food, chemicals, stress, and infections, as well as by interaction with other genes.  The part that environment plays is the part you have some control over.

For example, if you have a genetic tendency to diabetes, you can control your intake of sugar, sweets and starchy vegetables and be sure to exercise and thus reduce the likelihood that you will become diabetic.  This effect that lifestyle has on your genes to turn them on or off or modulate their expression is called “epigenetics.”  So, rather than:

Genes = Destiny

The answer is determined by epigenetics:

Genes + Lifestyle + Environment = Destiny

Some people have a collection of genetic mutations in their detoxification pathways that decreases their ability to rid the body of these toxicants and can increase the risk that those toxicants will cause problems.  The toxicants stay in circulation longer because they aren’t being removed efficiently. Then they can have a prolonged suppressing or damaging effect on the immune system and other systems that maintain the body’s health.  With genetic testing, we can identify some of these mutations and then make recommendations about foods, supplements and lifestyle changes that can help you decrease those toxic effects, helping you to heal and stay healthy.

Come find out more about some simple genetic testing you can do, learn about epigenetics, and discuss lifestyle, nutrition and supplement changes you can make to help you express your best destiny! 

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7 Ways You’re Making Your Immune System Weaker

Lack of sleep, too much stress, a crazy work schedule—it’s common knowledge that none of this is great for your health. But what about that new diet you’re on? Or even the medication you take? Turns out, you may be chipping away at your immune system without even knowing it. The good news: A few lifestyle changes or new habits can help you rebuild your body’s defenses against illness, infections, and disease. Check out these 7 ways you’re making your immune system weaker—and how to fix them.


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By Gary Goldman

Over the last 30 years, I have been sick with various illnesses that have caused me to be out of my office, sometimes for significant amounts of time.  Although these were not deadly illnesses, they did greatly affect my life and my family.  They included migraine headaches, chronic back pain and ulcerative colitis.


After many drugs, hospitalizations and only days away from spinal fusion surgery, I was able to heal myself with the help of some very special MD’s using mind-body medicine.

At The Center for Mind Body Medicine I learned techniques of self-care, self awareness, and mindfulness. The focus is on the interactions between mind and body and the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social and spiritual factors can directly affect health.  Using these techniques, I was able to heal myself. I now have a regular yoga and meditation practice and live a life without being in constant pain.

Now that I have healed myself I want to pay it forward.  Below is an easy technique you can practice at home to help ease your pain and discomfort:

Place: Pick a place in your home that is quiet and where you will be undisturbed.  By doing a practice in the same place each time, you begin to build an energy in that place that will support your practice.

Time of Day: Most people find either the beginning of the day or the end of the day easier for their schedules, but anytime that is you can maintain a consistency of the practice will work.

Length of Time: 10 Minutes is a good starting point, working up to longer periods of time.

Regular and Consistent: These are the keys to making progress with your practice.  This is YOUR time.  You deserve it.

No Judgment: The best meditation is the one you do! Keep watching, noting, being aware without attaching good or bad thoughts to the practice.

The Practice:  Settle in.  Close eyes. Breathe in and out slowly.  Feel the breath.  Observe the breath.  If any thoughts come in, let them in and let them out.

As you breathe in, say the word “soft” to yourself.  As you breathe out, say the word “belly”.  Continue feeling the body calm and relaxed.

My training has enabled me to lead and teach others in these effective mind-body techniques.  My passion is to help others live a pain free life, to be of service, and share my experiences with others who have chronic pain and just cannot find a way out.

Join me at Blum Center for Health this month for a 4-week Mindfulness for Pain Relief Series. Click here for more information and to sign up!

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RECIPE: Sunrise Nori Wraps

Text excerpted from EATING CLEAN, © 2016 by AMIE VALPONE. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.  Screen Shot 2016-03-06 at 2.55.53 PM

Sunrise Nori Wraps with Spicy Tahini Drizzle   Serves 4

If you like California rolls, you’ll love these nori wraps (though personally, I think they’re so much better!). The tahini dressing is truly addictive—you’re going to want to dress everything in it—and the cabbage provides a nice crunch. If possible, use a food processor to slice the cabbage so you can get it super thin.

Also, make sure the vegetable strips are all the same width and length so that they don’t hang over the edges of the nori sheets; this will make rolling up the wraps easier. Use leftover tahini drizzle as a dressing for salads or as a dip for crudités.

Sunrise Nori Wraps 

4 nori seaweed sheets

¼ small head red cabbage, very thinly sliced

1 large carrot, peeled and julienned

1 small yellow summer squash, julienned

1 small cucumber, julienned

1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

1 recipe Spicy Tahini Drizzle

Spicy Tahini Drizzle 

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 ¼ tablespoons chickpea miso paste

1 tablespoon raw tahini

2 medjool dates, pitted

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Water, as needed to thin the drizzle

Place the nori sheets on a flat surface. Divide the cabbage, carrot, squash, cucumber, and avocado among the sheets. Top each pile of vegetables with a heaping tablespoon of the Spicy Tahini Drizzle, and then roll up the nori sheets into a tube shape.

Make the tahini: Combine all of the ingredients except the water in a blender. Blend, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time as you go, until the mixture becomes a thin sauce.

To purchase Amie’s new book click here.