When are supplements appropriate?

There has been a lot of talk recently on supplements. Everywhere we look we can find someone promoting the latest detox tea, collagen supplement, mushroom elixir, custom multivitamin – how do we know what we actually need, or if we should even be taking anything?

Up until a few months ago I prided myself on being a dietitian who promotes “food first.” In other words, I taught that everything we need, with the exception of a few micronutrients for my vegan clients, could be obtained through food. Supplements were often unnecessary and at times, harmful.

That all changed when I tested my own micronutrient status using the same test that I now use with my clients.

Let me back up a little bit and share a personal story with you. This time last year I lost almost all ability to write. I had noticed the quality of my handwriting slowly deteriorating for months before that, but it wasn’t until the end of 2017 that I finally (essentially) lost the physical ability to write.

I saw a neurologist for nerve testing, met 17 times with a chiropractic neurology specialist, had a brain MRI, had x-rays of my neck and arm, met with an occupational therapist, and have been meeting every other week with a performance enhancement specialist for massage therapy and cupping. I tested myself for food sensitivities (MRT) and put myself on the LEAP protocol to try to reduce inflammation in my arm and wrist. I took all the supplements I could attribute to joint health. I watched webinars, read medical journals, and called hand specialists around the country. All of this was entirely out of pocket. And none of it has given me back the ability to write.

The nerve testing showed no abnormalities, the brain MRI and x-rays were normal, and the occupational therapist said there’s no muscle wasting or weakness. No one can figure out why I can’t write or hold a pen correctly anymore.

I am 28 years old, exercise ~5 days/week, eat a plant-based diet and I have this invisible, frustrating, medical mystery going on.


Prior to getting married my husband and I joined OrangeTheory Fitness (OTF) and both bought the unlimited membership. We were going to OTF 4 days per week, in addition to exercising outside of the gym on our own. I felt and looked great so I continued going after the wedding.

About a year into OTF I started having night sweats no matter how cold we kept our apartment. I had panels of blood work done, to rule out any hormonal concerns and everything was normal. I wrote it off and just thought maybe I wasn’t hydrating enough.

Fast-forward to today and my micronutrient test results. Luckily I do not have any functional deficiencies, which is highly unusual especially for a vegan! However, I do have borderline deficiencies in very important nutrients and antioxidants.

I am borderline deficient in Vitamin B12 and pantothenic acid, both of which are depleted from heavy exercise, including HIIT activities such as OTF…

Vitamins B6, B12, and pantothenic acid are all related to melatonin and serotonin production. All B vitamins are involved in neurological function so correcting those borderline deficiencies has a high likelihood of helping with my hand issues.

Chromium is commonly deficient in athletes, and while I wouldn’t consider myself an “athlete” I have been doing HIIT frequently. This combined with dietary restrictions means that I was running at 100% and only refueling at about 50%.


I’m not saying that supplementing with high-quality vitamins/minerals will fix my problems, but I’m not not saying it, either.

Our bodies are incredible machines but without proper fuel, rest, and activity they will eventually break down. So, while I still believe that food should be used as our primary means of obtaining nutrients, I know that there are some gaps that we all likely have that require supplements to fill.

The fact of the matter is our food supply is so depleted of nutrients that even if you manage to hit Dr. Greger’s “Daily Dozen,” you’re likely under-consuming certain nutrients. Things become even more complicated if your exercise routine frequently consists of high intensity interval training, Cross-Fit, etc.

There’s a great article out about vanishing nutrients in our food supply; I encourage you to read it. It highlights a hazard of climate change that isn’t often discussed, but one that is equally as concerning as the rest. Rising carbon dioxide levels are making our food less nutritious. This was previously only attributed to soil depletion, but now we know that high levels of carbon dioxide rob plants of vitamins that are essential to human development.

This should shock you, scare you, and/or enrage you! We need to do better for our planet, for ourselves, and for our future generations.

In the meantime, however, I encourage everyone to have his or her micronutrient levels checked and I am proud to offer that as a service at Prana Nutrition. The really cool thing about this test is it looks at what’s been going on the past 6-9 months – not just the past few weeks. If you’re interested in seeing what your levels are then get in touch with me and let’s chat! We can figure out what supplements (if any) need to be implemented in order for you to reach optimal health!

Happy Holidays!

Please note, I have no affiliation to supplement/pharmaceutical companies and I do not endorse any particular brands. The supplements in my photo are strictly for personal use only, and I make recommendations based on individual results and needs.

Please note, I have no affiliation to supplement/pharmaceutical companies and I do not endorse any particular brands. The supplements in my photo are strictly for personal use only, and I make recommendations based on individual results and needs.

New and exciting things are happening!

Hopefully you found your way to this month’s blog post through my brand new monthly newsletter! If not, don’t worry - you can totally still subscribe and receive all the great content!

If you didn’t see my newsletter yet, here’s the details: every month I will send out an exclusive email of my top favorite finds that month. These will be things like food prep hacks, recipes, nutrition headlines or tips, products or supplements that I’ve tried, podcasts, inspirational quotes or stories that I think are worth sharing!

I’m really excited to have you be a part of this new featured content, so please pass it along to anyone you think would benefit from it!

So if you’ve been keeping up with me for a little bit you’re probably wondering what is new and exciting at PN! I’m glad you asked.

In addition to food sensitivity testing, I now offer four different laboratory tests through Spectracell. The new tests are nutritional (micronutrient), cardiovascular, hormones and thyroid, and genetic testing. Below is a description of each, as stated on their website.

Nutritional Testing: Micronutrient testing measures how micronutrients are actually functioning within your white blood cells. These tests allow for nutritional assessment of clinical conditions, general wellness and the prevention of chronic diseases such as arthritis, cancer, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, immunological disorders and metabolic disorders.

CardioMetabolic Testing: Poor blood sugar regulation and unhealthy triglyceride and lipoprotein levels often present long before a diagnosis of Type 2 Diabetes. This test helps define your risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), progression toward Type 2 Diabetes, and inflammation.

Hormone & Thyroid testing: A comprehensive (male and female) hormone panel that reveals the overall state of hormonal balance. Like nutrients, hormones influence all aspects of health and disease - mood, sleep, metabolism, immunity, heart health and appearance. An imbalance of one hormone can alter other hormones, so a comprehensive look at hormone status is key.
Thyroid hormones regulate functions like metabolism, emotions and thinking. I also test several proteins that affect thyroid function as well as antibodies to thyroid which can detect autoimmunity (when the immune system attacks healthy tissue) and your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone).

Genetic Testing: Telomeres, Apolipoprotein E, MTHFR, and Factor V Leiden Prothrombin. Telomeres are sections of genetic material at the end of each chromosome. As a cell ages, its telomeres become shorter. Eventually, the telomeres become too short to allow cell replication, the cell stops dividing and will ultimately die - a normal biological process. This test can determine the length of your telomeres in relation to your age. *Fun fact: a plant-based diet helps prevent telomere shortening!

What else?

Next month I have a super exciting and exclusive announcement about a passion project I’ve been working on. I will be emailing you about this awesome launch in the next few weeks, and you won’t want to miss the part about the incredible discount that I’m offering for only a limited time - trust me!

What would you like to see in your inbox? Let me know below in the comments section! I don’t want to be just another boring newsletter that you receive, so tell me what you’d like to learn about and let’s make it happen!

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Featured Article

As someone who follows a plant-based lifestyle and oftentimes falls into the category of “vegan”, I have given a lot of thought as to whether or not I support the production of lab grown meat.

From an animal welfare perspective, lab grown meat would essentially (one day) eliminate the exploitation of animals for consumption of their bodies - WIN! Although currently it would not be considered vegan, due to the use of stem cells involved in its production.

I will admit, the consumer in me who supports GMO labeling and organic farming is a bit turned off by the idea of eating something grown strictly in a lab. The dietitian in me who understands the connection between animal products and disease, is also a little skeptical about it all. What will the nutrient profile look like? Is there a way to isolate the saturated fat and remove it? Is that even something we want to do (further emphasizing the idea of Frankenstein meat)?

However, the fact remains that we as a society simply cannot continue to rely on the massive amount animal agriculture that we currently use. Our choices are catapulting us towards environmental devastation. David Katz reported that if everybody on the planet ate a paleo diet we would need 15 planets to sustain our current population! Thank god for vegans, right?!

Bottom line, it’s not sustainable and it’s downright irresponsible to be touting a diet that is so grossly unsustainable. We need to think beyond ourselves and for future generations to come.

Which brings me to my point (yes, I have one). Is lab grown meat the future?

In a follow up interview with the Epoch Times, I explored some of these questions to help weigh in on the topic.

Check out the full article below and let me know what you think in the comments section! Are you pro-lab grown meat? Or is it too much like something you’d see on the sci-fi channel?


Fake Meat

Fall Wellness Tips

Fall is right around the corner! Can you feel it? I just got back from Philadelphia for a friend’s wedding and it was 54 degrees on Sunday! My husband and I stayed at my parent’s house Saturday night and my mom made an amazing bean chili, complete with fresh homemade bread from a neighbor who owns a French boulangerie! It was delicious and had me craving more of the brisk fall air that is just a few weeks away. Luckily I will be back up north again next month, taking a break from all this FL heat!

Speaking of fall, I recently contributed a few nutrition tips for an article in Reader’s Digest highlighting “50 Ways to Have a Healthier Fall”.

Here are three tips that I suggested:

1. Eat seasonally. Purchasing produce that is in-season can help you save money at the grocery store, and it can also provide nutrients that you wouldn't normally get from other foods. Fall foods such as winter squash or pumpkins offer unique nutrients as well as the comfort that comes from eating warm, nourishing foods this time of year.

2. Set an intention for your nutrition during this season. With winter comes the holidays, and that means extra opportunities for sweet treats. Fall can be a great time to check in with yourself and set an intention before the holiday mayhem starts. Try setting a goal for the fall such as limiting sweets to once per week or meal planning on the weekends to avoid pitfalls during the week. 

3. When dining out, start each meal with a vegetable soup or hearty salad. Research has shown that people who consume a bowl of vegetable soup eat significantly less calories during the rest of the meal, compared to those who opt for the bread or small salad. If you know that winter treats will be a challenge for you then optimize your nutrition during the fall so you're already feeling good (you'll be less likely to fall off the wagon when coworkers start bringing in those cookies!).

Check out the full article in the link above. My third tip was featured, about ¾ of the way down.

What are some of your healthy fall tips?


Nutrition at Bella Prana!

As you know, Prana Nutrition is now located inside Bella Prana Yoga & Meditation Studio in South Tampa! 
It was recently announced (a "soft" announcement) in the Bella Blog, along with a 10% discount on any nutrition service for Bella members!

Check out the blog post here and stay tuned for the big announcement in Bella Prana's September newsletter!



The Best Wellness Apps for Fitness, Mindfulness and Healthy Eating

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Have you ever wondered how you were going to stick to your wellness goals? Lucky for you, there's an app for that!

Dr. Ayala recently polled several health professionals in order to find the best apps currently on the market for fitness, mindfulness, and healthy eating.

True to my plant-based beliefs, I was quick to recommend Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen app, with regards to nutrition and healthy eating.

Dr. Ayala agreed, and in turn has recommended it to all of her readers on her Magic Spice blog!

Check out the full article here and let me know what recommendations you have that weren't mentioned.


Interview: 11 Things That Can Happen When You Go Vegan for a Month

Happy February!

How is everyone doing with their New Year's resolutions? If you decided to try out a vegan diet as one of them then you may have already noticed some changes happening to your body. For those of you who haven't made the switch but who are wondering what to expect when you do, you'll want to check out the Health.com article I was recently interviewed for. 


Let me know if you have any questions or thoughts! Did you experience anything different when you made the transition? Comment below.

Be well.

Interview: The Pros & Cons of Eating Meat

Happy Holidays! 

The holidays can be a time of mixed emotions for many. The reunion of friends and family members, the shopping and caroling, and the unavoidable contemplation of goals achieved and those yet to be completed. Then there's the many issues that food and eating create at the holidays. It can be tough to stick to your usual way of eating once the holiday season rolls around. Naturally, this creates a sense of instability and uprootedness, especially if you're spending the holidays with people who don't follow the same way of eating that you do. 

This time of year is especially challenging for me, as I typically follow a whole foods, plant-based diet (minimal processed foods, no animal products, etc.). While spending 10 days with my family who eat any and all animal products is less than ideal for my routine, I've found a way to stay true to my values and health and I encourage you to find out how you can do the same.

If the conversation of plant-based vs. SAD (standard American diet) arises during your holiday celebrations, you'll want to be prepared. Check out this article I was interviewed for by Conan Milner of the Epoch Times. 


Wishing you all healthy, happy holidays and a productive and joyous new year!

Protein-packed Pumpkin Power Balls

Tis the season for all things pumpkin! In the spirit of fall I made these yummy power balls last night and Instagram seemed to love the result! Full disclosure, it was inspired by Sunwarrior's pumpkin cookie recipe, I just did a little modification to make it my own.
Comment below to let me know how yours turn out! 

- 1/2 cup of organic pumpkin
- 1 cup peanut butter (I used PB2 but you can sub any nut butter with no added sugar)
- 3 tbsp. organic maple syrup
- 1 mashed banana
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder (Orgain, Sunwarrior, Vega, etc.)
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir
3. Add in vegan chocolate chips
4. Scoop batter onto parchment paper, do not worry about shape at this point as you will roll the completed product into balls anyway
5. Bake for 15 minutes
6. Place completed "balls" (they'll likely look like pancakes at this point) on a plate and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes
7. Remove and roll into balls
8. Enjoy!!