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In Her Shoes: Ivy Larson

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Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

Welcome back to the In Her Shoes series, where we share inspiring interviews with influential experts in health, nutrition and lifestyle. Whenever I meet healthy, beautiful, successful women, I’m always dying to know what it’s like to walk in their shoes. What do they eat? What products do they use? What’s their routine? I’m obsessed with other peoples’ stories and love sharing uplifting women with y’all!

Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

In our fourth installment of the series, we’re chatting with Ivy Larson, a nutrition, fitness and wellness expert, founder of Clean Cuisine and author of four incredible health books (one of which I wrote about over here). She is also an American College of Sports Medicine certified Health Fitness Specialist and creator of Full Fitness Fusion: The 30 Minute Solution.

Getting to Know Ivy Larson

Ivy’s story is so incredibly inspiring, and proof of just how much diet and nutrition affect our health. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis at 22 years old, Ivy began researching nutrition alongside her husband, Dr. Andy Larson, M.D. (a board certified general, laparoscopic, and bariatric surgeon).

Ultimately, they developed a nutrition plan for her and Ivy started following an anti-inflammatory diet and using natural supplements and exercise to treat her condition. This way of eating has kept the symptoms of her disease in remission for over 15 years! How amazing is it that something as simple as what she ate could help with a disease as serious as MS?! In fact, Ivy’s anti-inflammatory program can help with all kinds of inflammatory and auto-immune diseases, from arthritis to Celiac, diabetes to heart disease, digestive disorders and more.

I first learned about Ivy when my doctor prescribed me an anti-inflammatory diet for my digestive and hormonal issues. I had no idea what that meant, so I turned to Ivy’s 8-week program for help. Her book literally CHANGED MY LIFE! She taught me so much about nutrition and the science behind what happens in our body when we eat something (this knowledge made it so much easier for me to eat healthy, wholesome foods), and yet her approach is so accessible and easy to implement. I always say, the biggest lesson I learned from Clean Cuisine is that eating healthy isn’t so much about cutting foods out or eating an extremely restrictive diet—it’s about adding good foods in.

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Though there are certainly foods like gluten, dairy, hydrogenated oils and refined flours and sugars that should be minimized, an anti-inflammatory diet is really about nourishing your body with fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy proteins. Within the first two weeks of following Ivy’s plan, all of my digestive issues had completely disappeared and I felt exponentially better. I couldn’t believe how fast the transformation occurred, just from changing my diet.

Needless to say, I knew Ivy would be such a perfect fit for this series and I’m BEYOND thrilled to share more of her story today. Take a peek at what it’s like to spend a day walking in Ivy’s shoes.

Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

WHAT ARE THE FIRST 30 MINUTES OF YOUR DAY LIKE?

 After reading the book “A Mind of Your Own” by Kelly Brogan, M.D., I have decided to take meditation very seriously. But the only way it seems to fit into my schedule without finding excuses not to do it, is to do it first thing in the morning. I am not a very good meditator (not yet, anyway!), so I only do it for 10 minutes. But I am actually setting my alarm clock 10 minutes early to make sure I make it happen. But I have to have my coffee first! I am not a morning person at all. So basically I wake up, drag myself to the coffee machine and make a cup (I put coconut “cream”–the thick part of the canned coconut milk—as my creamer, no sweetener) and look over my daily “to do” list while I sip my coffee. That usually takes about 10 minutes. Then I go to our home gym and do my 10 minute meditation (I use this YouTube music) on my yoga mat and then I foam roll my bad hip/leg for 10 minutes (after having several hip surgeries, foam rolling is a life saver for me!)

SHOWER TIME! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO PRODUCTS?

 I try to keep my products super minimal and as clean as possible. I use a probiotic soap (Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotic Kampuka Beauty Bar) for my face and body and always, always do a full body sugar scrub (I just use plain old brown sugar!). Then I moisturize while still in the shower with either extra-virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oilon my body and Kypris 1,000 Roses Oil on my face (I put the oil on my face after I use Kypris Beauty Elixir II–I am CRAZY about Kypris). For my hair I use Hair Story “New Wash” (it’s a cleansing conditioner)

WHAT’S YOUR TYPICAL BREAKFAST?  

My breakfast varies tremendously but I always, always have a good amount of fruit. I either eat the fruit in a smoothie (I’m not a fan of protein powders so I use hemp seeds instead) or put the fruit in a grain bowl (I always have cooked grains in the fridge so I just use whatever I have–millet, quinoa, amaranth, etc.) and add chia seeds or flaxseeds and walnut milk (I make it myself with just walnuts, water, dates, pinch of unrefined salt and bit of pure vanilla extract). I also sometimes do pastured, organic egg omelets with turmeric, onion, garlic and spinach, kimchi on the side and fruit.’

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ARE YOU A TEA OR COFFEE DRINKER?

Both! I’m obsessed with anything that turns on the Nrf2 pathway, which is super important for anybody, especially if you have a brain or cognitive disorder, as it activates your body’s main detox system. When you activate the Nrf2 pathway, your cells turn on their own anti-aging defense mechanisms by decreasing inflammation, which can help with MS, Parkinson’s, autism, depression and even just foggy head. Coffee and green tea both activate the Nrf2 pathway, so I drink those, and so does turmeric. So I also drink a turmeric tea made with turmeric, lemon, manuka honey and coconut cream (you need a bit of fat to best absorb the turmeric). I also love kombucha.

Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

WHAT’S YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE?

I’m a huge believer in exercise (it too turns on the Nrf2 pathway!) and so I workout religiously. I have my own Full Fitness Fusion workout DVD and so I do that fusion-style of workout–a short, but intense workout that fuses yoga, pilates, ballet, kickboxing, etc. and keeps your heart rate elevated the entire time. But I switch it up a lot, and try to get outside a lot. I never just do an “arm day” or a “leg day”. I keep my heart rate up the whole time and involve as many muscle groups as possible, working as a whole unit and not isolating it into these small compartments. That’s not functional fitness.

TIME TO GET READY! WHAT ARE YOUR GO-TO BEAUTY AND SKINCARE PRODUCTS?

I mostly stick to the Kypris products for daily use, but also love Tammy Fender Restorative Masque. For makeup, I have recently started using Juice Beauty, which I really love! I also like Josie Maran’s Argan Oil Enlightenment Illuminizer.

WHAT’S IN YOUR MEDICINE CABINET?

 I take our own Clean Cuisine AM / PM supplements (they are a complete multi-vitamin/multi-mineral, but NOT mega doses and the B’s are methylated, which is super important for people with the MTHFR gene mutation, which I have). It also includes pharmaceutical-grade fish oil for EPA/ DHA and evening primrose oil for GLA (essential fats are super important for keeping inflammation down and keeping my symptoms of multiple sclerosis in check. I also take our own brand of Probiotics, but it is important to rotate your probiotics so I also take Dr. Ohira brand and Garden of Life. I’ve also recently started taking Protandim (it is one of the only supplements that’s proven to activate the Nrf2 pathway) and I always take a phytonutrient booster (either Juice Plus+ or Barlean’s Greens). I just ordered the one Elle Macpherson launched and I’m excited to try it! And now that I just turned 40 I am also into collagen–I take it for my hair, hip problem, nails, skin, etc. I really like the marine collagen by Vida Glow.
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Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ON-THE-GO SNACKS?

I always have a Lara Bar in my purse, but I’m also big into fruit and green smoothies (not juice!) .

WHAT’S A TYPICAL LUNCH LIKE FOR YOU?

I try to eat a serving of beans every day, so lunch is usually where those seem to fit best—I really love making an enchilada with just a wee bitty bit of cheese on sprouted organic corn tortillas with mashed beans, kimchi or Sauer kraut and a side of greens. Or my new favorite all-greens soup (I’ll be posting the recipe on Clean Cuisine soon).

WHEN YOU’RE GROCERY SHOPPING, WHAT INGREDIENTS DO YOU AVOID ON THE LABEL?

Oh boy! Yes, I am a BIG label reader! I never read calories, fat grams, etc. because they are so misleading. But I do read ingredients like a hawk! I avoid refined sugars, refined flours, refined oils, processed meats, additives, preservatives, food coloring, etc. As for food groups, I steer clear of milk, but I do still have a little bit of cheese (always full fat, never the low-fat stuff)–not because I think cheese is a health food, only because I LOVE it so much (thankfully a little goes a long way!). I also am VERY careful about the animal foods I buy. I eat a very plant-rich diet, but I also still eat animal foods (usually just one serving a day, with the exception of the little bit of cheese) and I make sure I buy the absolute highest quality (grass fed meat, pasture-raised eggs, wild fish, etc.).

WHAT’S IN YOUR PANTRY?

My pantry mostly looks like a bunch of ingredients in glass jars. I have raw nuts, uncooked grains, an assortment of whole grain and nut flours (I keep those in my freezer), teas, dried fruit, whole grain pastas (I’m big into millet and brown rice ramen noodles lately!), etc. I have a 15-year-old son and his friends always complain about the fact we don’t have typical snack foods. We do have popcorn though! I usually pop my own, but Quinn Popcorn is a great brand for ready-made (I either buy the one with EVOO or extra virgin coconut oil). We also have Lara Bars, homemade trail mix, Alive and Radiant Kale Chips, Go Raw cookies, and I always have a bar of dairy-free dark chocolate (I love Vosges Coconut Ash & Banana).
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DINNER TIME! IF YOU’RE EATING OUT, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR ON MENUS TO STAY HEALTHY?

I just keep it super, super simple when we eat out and save stuff like lasagna, alfredo sauce, etc. for home when I know I can make it clean. I always get a salad of some sort and ask for EVOO on the side and lots of extra veggies, wild fish, baked potato, beans, etc. I often find I have to pick items from the menu to kind of make my own salad (for example, if I see green beans somewhere on the menu I ask if they could add it to my salad!)
Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

WHAT’S ON YOUR NIGHTSTAND?

I keep my nightstand super clean and clutter-free. I usually just have one book that I am reading (currently it is “Brain Maker” by my neurologist, Dr. David Perlmutter) I also have my sleep mask, melatonin (just in case!) and lavender oil.

BED TIME! WHAT’S YOUR NIGHTLY ROUTINE?

Because of my husband’s schedule as a surgeon, we always eat very late (usually around 8:45 p.m.), so I wind down as I am making dinner. I have a glass of wine while I cook, and by the time dinner is done and the dishes are put away, I am starting to get sleepy. We have a sauna in the house (it is super important for me to detox regularly as a way to keep my MS symptoms under control) and so I either go in there with my husband or take an Epsom salt bath. We usually are in bed by 10:45 or so.

GUILTY PLEASURE?

 Wine and chocolate–I have a bit of both every day.
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FAVORITE HEALTHY INDULGENCE?

Caviar! I am crazy for it on rice cakes or Le Pain des Fleurs crackers with Kite Hill almond cheese (along with Dr. Cow this is the only non-cheese cheese product I will eat–both are nut-based cheeses that are made just like real cheese, only with nut milk instead of cows milk).

FAVORITE PRODUCT THAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO TRY?

Oh my gosh, this is a tough one! I think right now it’s got to be the Protandim (Nrf2 activator!) It is the only supplement proven in a clinical study to reduce cellular stress an average of 40% in 30 days. It basically helps your body make its own antioxidants and reduces cellular aging. And it does wonders for enhancing your body’s natural ability to detoxify

And that’s a wrap. Big thanks to Ivy for sharing her story with us.

FIND MORE IN HER SHOES STORIES HERE.


Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I’ve linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust.

Ivy Larson's inspiring In Her Shoes interview: eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the Nrf2 pathway and how to live a healthy, balanced life!

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Photo Credit: Heidi Geldhauser

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I will earn a commission if you purchase through these links. Please note that I've linked to these products purely because I recommend them and they are from companies I trust. There is no additional cost to you.

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