5 Tips to Kick-Off a Healthy New Year

5 Tips to Kick-Off a Healthy New Year

It is that time of the year again when many of us make our New Year’s resolutions. If you plan on making a New Year’s resolution, the odds are against your success. In fact, research shows that majority of people quit in about 6 weeks. The reason why most people fail is because habits, behaviors, and lifestyle take time to change and trying to do too much too quickly is a recipe for failure.

In this world of “instant gratification”, most people expect results “now”. We want everything now; happiness now, success now, health now, and we expect results immediately, and if we haven’t reached our goals yet, it must be because something is wrong with our strategy or we’re not working hard enough or fast enough. We try to change too much at once, and expect too much of ourselves, and this impatience usually leads to frustration and failure.


The number one secret to success is to take baby steps!


If you’re feeling inspired to make some positive changes to your health and wellness this year but are unsure on how to get started then these tips will definitely give you a kick start!


These are my 5 tips to kick start your journey into wellness



Drink at least one 10 oz. glass of warm water with half a lemon and 1 teaspoon of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) on an empty stomach upon waking up. Taking ACV with lemon in the morning will help detox and cleanse your liver, as well as clear out bacteria in your body. ACV has also been known to curb food cravings and help weight loss by keeping the blood sugar balanced.


Diet changes are the most difficult changes with which most people struggle. Whether you are following a keto, paleo, vegan or any other type of diet, make sure you fill at least half of your plate with non- starchy preferably raw vegetables at each meal. The vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants in vegetables will help you maintain a healthy weight and help prevent or improve chronic illnesses. Eat a variety of phytonutrient-rich fruits and vegetables every day by eating six different colors of plant foods daily (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and tan/white). If you focus on making most of your meals look this way, you’ll automatically lose weight and improve your health without counting macros or calories.

3. RULE OF 16-8

Intermittent fasting is the best thing you can do to improve your health and meet your health and wellness goals. On the 16-8 diet, you spend 16 hours of each day consuming nothing but water. The remaining eight-hour window is when you eat all of your meals. I recommend eating 2 meals – a late breakfast at noon and an early dinner at 6 pm. Don’t eat anything past 8 pm. Eating later at night negatively impacts your hormones and metabolism and has been associated with weight gain and poor memory.


Research shows that the excessive intake of refined sugars and grains contributes to many chronic health issues. In order to stave off illness and reverse symptoms, limit your intake of refined sugars and grains. Both of these are found in highly-processed foods like shelf-stable cakes and cookies, candy bars, and other snacks. Read food labels carefully, and select foods with no added sugar (or very little added sugar). Try switching the sweetener in your morning coffee from table sugar to a natural sweetener like maple syrup or honey.


Healthy fats helps support brain and heart health while keeping you feeling full and providing your body with energy. Shoot for more omega-3s (from avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, olives, sea vegetables, grass-fed meats, etc.). Keep in mind that low-fat and fat-free products contain a lot of added sugar and artificial fillers which have negative effects on health.




Gradually working toward change improves your odds of success. Instead of making several drastic changes all at once, choose to overcome one behavioral change at a time. And in the process, remember to be kind to yourself! Nourish your body with the “whole” foods that are healing, instead of restricting calories and relying on numbers or rules. And remember, taking baby steps are the key to success!


Wishing all of you happy and healthy 2020!



8 Amazing Nutrients for Glowing Skin, Shiny Hair and Strong Nails

8 Amazing Nutrients for Glowing Skin, Shiny Hair and Strong Nails

The beauty industry is a multi-billion dollar industry as people spend tons of money on beauty products to look younger, radiant, and beautiful. I get asked on a frequent basis, “which cream/lotion/shampoo do you recommend for radiant skin, shiny hair, and strong nails.” The truth is that glowing skin,  glossy hair, and strong nails don’t just come from bottles or jars. Most lotions and potions that claim to make you look years younger are oftentimes loaded with harsh chemicals and hormones, that eventually make it into the body causing hormone dysregulation and negative health outcomes. Many of those over-the-counter products especially those that say “wrinkle-free”, “wrinkle-removing”, “face lift in a bottle”, “going to look beautiful forever” kinds of creams – almost all of those have some type of hormone in them.

When it comes to beauty, most people think of it as something separate from health. Our skin, hair, and nails are connected to our bodies – whatever is good for our bodies is also good for beauty. We have to nourish our skin, hair, and nails from within, with a diet rich in beauty supportive nutrients from whole foods.



Which nutrients are needed for beautiful skin, hair, and nails?

These 8 foods are full of radiance-boosting vitamins and minerals that help maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails, as well as reverse or slow the signs of early aging.


High in vitamin C and K, this super-food can help with uneven skin tone as well as help dark under eye circles, both when consume internally and applied topically.


Contains a compound called epigallocatechin gallate, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from aging and skin cancers, and may repair damaged skin especially when applied topically


Vegetables in this class such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and bok choy promote liver detoxification, resulting in bright radiant skin as well as help with dark circles and under eye bags.


High in zinc and copper, this super food helps develop collagen and elastin to keep skin supple and firm. Copper also promotes production of hyaluronic acid, a fluid that makes skin look fuller and plumper. Zinc in pumpkin seeds help strengthen hair and nails and help with premature hair loss.


Rich in compounds called fucoxanthins, protects the skin from early aging, and prevents wrinkle formation. Seaweed is also rich in minerals that encourage hair and nails growth.


Contains salica, a trace mineral that keeps hair and nails strong. It also improves skin elasticity and protects the skin from oxidative damage.


Beef liver has one of the highest levels of vitamin A and biotin. Vitamin A is an antioxidant essential for skin health, and deficiency in which can cause poor complexion, acne, and large pores. Biotin helps improve skin appearance because it plays a major part in maintaining the health of our hair, nails and skin.


Rich in collagen, a primary building block for skin, and gelatin, important for the process of renewing skin cells, this food can help with wrinkles, sun damage, stretch marks, saggy skin, fine lines and other signs of aging.




Your hair, skin, and nails are a reflection of your inner health and wellness. Aside from lifestyle and genetics, what you eat and drink plays a critical role in the health of your hair, skin, and nails. Instead of applying expensive topical products on your skin, it would be more effective to first address the root cause of your symptoms. The best-kept secrets to beauty are not in a beauty shop or a makeup store – they are sitting right there in your kitchen!

Ramadan Reset: Download your FREE E-Book!

Ramadan Reset: Download your FREE E-Book!

Download your FREE Ramadan E-Book!

Ramadan is just around the corner, and I am just as thrilled as you are to experience both the spiritual and physical health benefits of fasting. Consider this guide a springboard to long-lasting healthful habits. Each page brings you dietary tips, delicious and nutritious recipes for foods and smoothies, as well as a 30-day printable planner to gauge your success. Let’s meet our health and wellness goals this Ramadan and make it the best Ramadan ever! Enjoy this guide and be sure to participate in the #RamdanReset challenge!

Dr. Batool Dawood


Healthy Habits

Weekly Meal Planners

The Power of Black Seed Oil

The Power of Black Seed Oil

Every home pantry has its staples. They are your daily essentials, the bread and butter fueling your every breath, the foundation to all of your kitchen creations. In our home, one of my pantry staples is black seed oil.

My story with black seed oil began roughly four years ago, just after I delivered my eldest daughter, Enaya. Her birth whisked me into a frenzy from which I struggled to recover: loneliness, fatigue, sleepless nights, diaper-laden garbage bins, and the rueful realization that the body I always knew was now as foreign to me as motherhood itself. All of this was my daily reality. Desperate and mildly neurotic, I searched for something to buffer the blows of these challenges. At that time, black seeds were like a formal acquaintance; I heard of them in flitting conversation, as protagonists in old wives tales or elusive elixirs from an archaic past. They were the “blessed seeds that cure every ailment,” Prophet Muhammad said, “except death.”

With these cultural and religious influences, I decided to add seed supplements to my daily regimen. A couple of weeks passed and the grogginess that haunted me in my waking hours began to dwindle and fade. I had energy. I could sleep better. I could speak coherently and maintain adult conversation, like once-upon-a-time before motherhood!

But the changes I experienced with black seed supplements went beyond internal. One time, I was nursing Enaya when friends and family noticed a change in my physique. “Batool,” they warned me, “You shouldn’t diet while breastfeeding. You’re losing weight too quickly!” But I wasn’t dieting. I hadn’t altered my meal portions, attempted Keto, or increased my jogging miles at the gym. My lifestyle resumed organically and without discipline, for my only goal was self-care amid the turbulence of motherhood.

The health changes I experienced were way too many to be incidental. As I was studying pharmacy, I gained access to scientific and medical literature, and with my newfound reading skills, I was determined to unearth the truth about black seeds, once and for all. A single database search generates over a thousand research papers on Nigella sativa (the Latin name for black seed). They spoke favorably of this humble, ancient seed, documenting it’s anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, anticancer, and immune-enhancing properties.

Today, I recommend black seed products to all of my patients, and their experiences with them never cease to amaze me. There is one particular patient whose story stays with me today. For years, respiratory distress compromised his quality of life, and activities we deem routine—moving, breathing, sleeping—became his daily struggles. He came to me after having given up on drug therapies and antibiotics, and he requested something different. “Have you heard of black seeds or black seed oil?” I asked him, handing him a bottle of the supplement. He recoiled, so I persisted. And with a sales pitch that bordered on the obsessive, I proceeded to share with him all of the health benefits these seeds have to offer. I told him of their unusual ability to fight bacterial infections, even drug-resistant  MRSA, as well as many other respiratory conditions. Two weeks later, before his next scheduled visit, he returned to my office just to tell me that these seeds helped him more than any other drug ever prescribed to him. “I feel amazing,” he said. I nodded, humbled by my experience seeing one of nature’s medicines work its magic once more.

Many published studies outline the safe and successful uses of black seeds and their various byproducts. Most notably, they can help treat these ten conditions:

  1.     Fighting Infections
  2.     Reducing Scars
  3.     Relieving Allergies
  4.     Enhancing Weight Loss
  5.     Relieving Breast Pain
  6.     Reducing Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms
  7.     Relieving Indigestion and Heartburn
  8.     Improving Memory
  9.     Enhancing Men’s Fertility
  10.  Lowering Cholesterol

As creatures of habit, we are all guilty of defaulting to our built-in, subconscious choices. Our pantries and refrigerators look the same, week after week. We recycle the same meals, the same health foods, the same shopping lists. These habits, convenient though they are, deprive us of the health benefits that come with nutritional variety. So I’m going to challenge you, Dear Reader, to experiment with black seeds—as supplements, as an oil, as whatever form you can commit to as a health-conscious consumer. Just be sure to purchase the extra virgin, cold press black seed oil from a reputable company (my recommended brand can be found here).


The Untold Story of a Silent Superpower: Chaga Mushrooms

The Untold Story of a Silent Superpower: Chaga Mushrooms

There is a new food superpower in our midst, and it has gained ranking for its superb antioxidant properties: Chaga mushrooms. With a mix of charcoal and gold hues, these mushrooms slag and sprawl like infected meteorites on the backs of dead birch trees. They are powerful, parasitic, and (almost) as promising as Wakanda’s Vibranium.

…except you can’t make an epic suit out of it. But with the innate properties of Chaga mushrooms, you won’t need to. Research shows that this fungus contains promising health benefits for people of all ages. Its high antioxidant content makes it superior to its line of competitors, such as blueberries, pomegranates, acai, and their likes.

I’m going to get a bit personal now. Although I’m a pharmacist and functional medicine practitioner, I, too, like to live life on the edge. I indulged in some reading recently—just a casual afternoon cuddling with research studies and medical journals—and shortly thereafter, I decided to commit to Chaga mushrooms, once and for all. So I woke up the next morning, dumped my regular smoothie, and settled with a cozy cup of Chaga mushroom tea. My first sip brought with it a whiff of familiarity. I know this taste. It was like the shy little sister of bold black tea: humble, mute, and vaguely visible. I sipped some more.

Twenty minutes later, I found myself busting into my running shoes and bursting out my front door. Something felt different. A transformation occurred—like I had morphed from a suburban, mother-of-two pharmacist and into an unstoppable Wakandan warrior. I must wear out this energy! I ran for miles and miles, hours on end, until my feet met a previously unpursued path. I had never run that far before, but I continued anyway. And when I returned home, my newfound endurance carried me through more weight lifting and into a work day with utmost mental clarity. It was a beautiful sensation. That effect—that energy boost, that unabated agility, or whatever you want to call it—lasted for days.

What exactly is Chaga Mushroom?

In two words: a fungus. It’s not the prettiest plant in the woods, but what a Chaga mushroom lacks in outer beauty, it makes up in medicinal aptitude. Chaga mushrooms have one of the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity (ORAC) scores of any food, which speaks to their ability to protect the body from aging and fight disease-causing free radicals. Hmm, maybe they are just as good as Vibranium, after all?

What are some of Chaga Mushrooms’ superpowers?

  • Anti-Aging
  • Anti-Viral
  • Improve physical endurance
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Prevents and treats cancers
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Boosts  immune system
  • Lowers inflammation
  • Lowers blood glucose

How do you consume this superfood?

You don’t need to be a Kimberly Snyder or a Dr. Mark Hyman to whip up a Chaga-infused concoction. The method is simple. Add two to three chunks of Chaga mushrooms to one to two quarts of water in a slow cooker/crock pot. Set the mixture on low and cover the pot while the mixture steeps for up to 12 hours. Drink it hot or chilled, as a base for flavored tea, coffee, or your favorite fruit smoothie. There are no rules! Chaga mushrooms are versatile enough to be bent to your preference, so be creative. For the little ones, blend half a cup of Chaga mushroom tea with ice and honey and serve! The kiddos will absolutely love it.

If you do give this superpower a chance, like I did, please share your experience with me in the comments below! I would love to hear all about it. Here’s a brand I really recommend.

6 Must-Have Supplements for Wellness and Vitality

6 Must-Have Supplements for Wellness and Vitality

In this pill-piling health industry, not all supplements are created equal. We’re here to teach you how to navigate the supplements aisle and make investments that matter.

Let’s be honest: the Standard American Diet is depleted of nutrients. And for every nutrient deficiency, we are sold a supplement to fill the void where food once belonged. This isn’t the sole fate of fast-food enthusiasts feasting from a drive thru; even health-conscious individuals are suffering. As it turns out, those bell peppers and kale bits starring in yesterday’s salad rank lower in nutrients than the ones our great-great-grandparents ate, leaving you curiously famished and raiding your snack cabinet before bedtime. There are many reasons for this epidemic, the first being our country’s mediocre agricultural practices.

Our farmers are racing the clock to meet the demands of bustling, industrial communities. In order to stock our grocery stores with glistening apples and picture-perfect apricots, farmers mass-produce their crops using old soils that grow stale with time. These old soils then produce crops that are inevitably depleted of essential vitamins, minerals, and microbes.

Crops are further stripped of their nutrient-potential after being doused in pesticides. These pesticides interfere with a plant’s polyphenol production—that’s nature’s secret trick to ward away bugs and pathogens threatening a plant’s growth. What happens when these plants are heavily covered in pesticides and herbicides? Their polyphenol production declines, along with their nutrient supply, leaving you, Dear Reader, famished and craving more.

Farmers try compensating for these agricultural practices and enhancing crop nutrition by using fortified fertilizers. Nutrition in these fertilizers, however, is minimal—just enough to keep the crops alive until harvesting, but not enough to support our health. What’s more, most plants are harvested prematurely; they are shipped for hundreds of miles across the country, finding temporary shelter in shelves, trucks, and counters for weeks before being eating. Their nutrient stores erode during this prolonged time.

This story ends with the rueful realization that we could all use some help with our nutrition. All of us, no exception. And while supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet, they are back-up sidekicks when your diet falls short (and most often, it will).

Below are the six supplements I recommend to all of my clients—the holy grails of wellness and vitality. Let the listing begin…

PROBIOTICS: These live bacteria are key players in our digestive tract. Their benefits range from increasing our resistance to illnesses, to enhancing our ability to maintain a healthy weight. That’s just the physical stuff. Research suggests time and again that probiotics boost our mental well-being, countering symptoms of anxiety and depression.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: These fats classify as essential—an intimidating and weighty word denoting their necessity for our bodies to function. Because our bodies cannot produce these fats on their own, we need to consume them through our foods and supplements. Sufficient amounts of omega-3s offer multiple benefits, too, including longevity, physical wellbeing, a leaner physique, a clearer mind, and softer, more youthful skin.

ZINC: This essential nutrient is nature’s elixir for the common cold. The body also requires zinc for basic body functions: to produce hormones, to grow and repair cells, to boost immunity, and to facilitate digestion. Like an antioxidant, it slows the aging process and restores hormonal imbalance. And to counter energy spikes and energy dips throughout the day, trust zinc to help you regulate your blood sugar.

MAGNESIUM: If we could give one supplement a Pharmacists’ Choice Award for Most Beneficial to Americans, it would be magnesium. About 80 percent of adults are deficient in this essential mineral, creating an array of health problems: muscle aches or spasms, poor digestion, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

B-COMPLEX: This supplement contains all of the known, essential, water-soluble B vitamins that are absolutely needed for energy and healthy metabolism. Most Americans are deficient in these vital nutrients, resulting in energy slumps, a sluggish metabolism, and more.

VITAMIN D3: Most Americans are also deficient in this essential vitamin—an epidemic correlated with depression, insomnia, pain, osteoporosis, cancers, autoimmune diseases, hypertension, and many other health conditions. This sunshine vitamin is closest to what sunlight naturally produced when shining its rays on our skin. Stock up on this supplement if you have limited outdoor time, cover constantly, or are from the snowy state of Minnesota.

Six supplements. Six new superheroes in your journey toward health. Do yourself a favor and invest in these little capsules, because even the best of diets is bound to fall short sometimes.

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