Have you seen the documentary Food Choices on Netflix?

I was flipping through Netflix looking for a good documentary to watch and came across Food Choices.  When I read the description and realized it was about a plant based diet I was ready to take notes and tell you all about why it was a ridiculous documentary and how you should just not bother watching it. I am not going to do that though because they actually made some valid points in parts of the film. The opinions expressed in this post are just that, I do not make reference to any studies or papers. I would encourage you to watch the film and make an informed decision about what is best for your health by doing a little research and not doing something because someone, including myself, says so. 

I did find a lot in the movie I didn’t agree with but I was so surprised to find there was some parts of the movie that I actually did agree with. 

The movie starts out with a lot of information about how animal protein is really bad for you. How it will raise your cholesterol, cause diabetes and cancer. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study tells us that the amount of animal protein we eat is the problem. He states that too much will stress the kidneys and the liver. He states all the animals we eat for protein are vegetarians and the movie shows a picture of a cow, chickens and turkeys. 

Not all animals we eat are vegetarians. First of all, the natural diet of chickens and turkeys includes bugs which are “animal” protein and chickens will eat mice and other varmints if given a chance. They are NOT vegetarian. Pigs are not vegetarians either. They eat other animals, they eat just about anything actually. 

The movie claims that protein elevates cholesterol, starts heart disease, increases the production of free radicals and stimulates the production of hormones.   Personally, my diet is pretty high in protein and fat and my most recent (spring 2017) total cholesterol was 167. Read my post on protein and fat to learn more about why these two macronutrients are not villains. Bottom line, protein breaks down in to amino acids which help us make neurotransmitters and are the building blocks of the body. You can get protein from vegetables too, I prefer to get some protein from meat and you should know that it is okay for you to get some protein from meat too. 

The next claim was that we are getting too much saturated fat, calories and sodium from meat. If you are eating a high quality piece of meat, you are not getting too much of any of these things. Again, read my post on fat to learn why saturated fat will not kill you. Also, think about this- how can something like saturated fat which is solid at room temperature or colder go plant itself in our arteries as a solid? Isn’t fat broken down and emulsified by bile in our body? Yes it is. Our body temperature is also 98.6º which would keep that saturated fat in a liquid state keeping it from planting itself in our arteries and clogging them. 

The film goes on to vilify milk and dairy products. They are telling you to get your calcium from oranges but they don’t tell you that you would need about 10 oranges a day to get the recommended amount of calcium for an adult. Calcium is found in many vegetables including leafy greens and you don’t need to eat dairy products to get enough calcium daily. The problem with calcium is not that we aren’t getting enough but that we don’t have the proper co-factors (things in our body needed to help us use the calcium we do get) to digest and assimilate calcium. We need to have good digestion, proper pH within the body, good hormone function, enough water, other minerals and vitamins and fat (helps get calcium in to our cells). 

The film calls dairy liquid meat. “A cocktail of growth hormones engineered for rapid growth”. The campaign for raw milk would, of course, disagree with that statement. Dairy products that are not from grass fed and pastured animals would not be on my list of things to consume but if my body tolerated dairy, I would drink raw milk and consume raw milk products occasionally without worrying about the effects. 

Next on the films list of foods to avoid to be healthy was eggs. Some people consider eggs to be the perfect food. Pasture raised eggs are best. Eggs contain a variety of minerals and vitamins and are a great source of high quality protein and contain a complete protein. All the B vitamins are in eggs and contain more choline than any other food. They are a good source for most of the minerals our body requires including selenium and iodine which are important for thyroid health. According to www.whfoods.com, eggs sho no increased risk of heart attack or stroke and they can help increase your HDL, or good, cholesterol. 

Food Choices is telling us that eggs are too high in cholesterol and they show you some very moving pictures of a chicken developing in the eggshell. They also talk about the feed for chickens being full of Genetically Modified corn and soy and the toxin Roundup. They are not wrong about this if you are not buying eggs from a local farmer. Even then the chicken feed may contain corn and soy. It is cheap feed. As long as they are on pasture and getting most of their diet from bugs, you might have to be okay with a bit of supplemental feed. 

The movie moves on to talk about the high amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids needed in our diet. They say a higher Omega 3 amount in our diet leads to Type II Diabetes. I would bet that processed foods and sugar would be a more likely culprit for most of Americans with Type II Diabetes. The studies are out there at your finger tips. 

Meat will give you Erectile Dysfunction says the movie, because it blocks blood vessels. I think we covered that in talking about saturated fat.  

Low carb diets are all the rage and they claim high carb diets don’t cause weight gain. They say the paleo diet is a copy of the Atkins diet and that was written by people who have not published a scientific paper. They claim low carb diets make you sick and are dangerous. They are in agreement that cutting down on sugar and refined carbs would be a good thing. The paleo community is pretty big, just as is the vegan community. Neither diet is the be all end all for everyone. That is what we need to remember. We are bio-individuals. What works for one person will not work for everyone. 

Their next claim is that many people who are plant based are healthy but there are still a lot of vegetarians who are still sick because they are eating junk food or dairy and some fish. I would agree with the filmmakers about eating junk food. They also say that if you have not given up oil as a vegan and are still fat, then the oil is the reason why you are still fat. “Fat you eat is fat you wear” they said. Again, read my post on fat

They claim a whole foods plant based diet is free. You don’t have to pay for any gimmicks or shakes. I would say that if you are just eating real food, it is not free because you have to pay for it, then you are one step ahead of the rest of the world who is looking for that great organic convenience food to buy. 

I agree with them when they say we ought to be 90-95% plant based. Maybe 80% plant based would be more like it. We could all stand to eat more vegetables, including me. I love how I feel when my diet is mostly veggies with a little bit of meat each day. I have lots of energy, I feel clean inside. I have little bloating and my eliminations are just where they should be. 

They are telling you in this movie that you should not believe “The key to good health is moderation”. They say this doesn’t work. I know it doesn’t work for me. I can’t just have one bite of a sweet treat. I want the whole pan. Moderation might work for you. It does for some people and for some it doesn’t. 

Next on the list is blaming the media for making the Paleo diet credible. The problem was that the media “let both sides speak” in regards to the China Study which has hundreds of references and then interviewed someone on the Paleo diet which was little more than a story book.  The Paleo diet has helped thousands of people feel good just as a vegan diet has. A vegan diet doesn’t work for everyone though. A few more notable folks who really struggled with their health on a vegan diet are Denise Minger and Lierre Keith. I am sure there are people who don’t do well on a Paleo diet too. I just have not heard of them. 

I have to agree with the film when they talk about the nutrition training doctors receive in medical school. It is little to nothing. Doctors are not able to get to the root cause of your health problems because they are being taught pharmaceutical based medicine. This is sometimes necessary but there are other options out there. People on medication long term may have side effects causing other health problems and their overall health to decline. The movie is spot on here. A plant based diet may be very helpful for the short term and maybe long term. It depends on you and your individual biological make up. 

They state the cause and cure for disease is in our hands and that the money is in the drugs. We need to shift our dollars from expensive procedures to education. I could not agree more. 

Supplements- they say it is a big industry stealing your money. I am in partial agreement with them on this. There is no magic bullet supplement. The nutrients you need are in your food. You have to be able to digest and assimilate your food and for that, you may need a supplement. You may be depleted of certain nutrients and need a supplement to get you by until you are able to get them from your food again. 

The big problem for plant based diets is vitamin B12 which is found in animals. One expert in the movie says you can get B12 in a supplement or from fortified foods. As long as you don’t have a methylation problem this might work for you. Again, it is not for everyone. 

One thing I found interesting and quite intriguing is their statement of “what we eat determines how we use the planet”. They said that 98% of destroyed rainforest is used for meat production. This is sad. This is also why I tell everyone I teach and work with to know where your food comes from. Buy local whenever possible. Support your local farmers. They said 70% of farmable land is used to grow crops for animals and not humans. This statistic is also quite sad. 

Another quote from the movie, “It takes 2400 gallons of water and 12 pounds of grain to make one pound of beef.” Cows eat grass. They were evolved to eat grass and not grain so if you stop buying grain fed meat, that will help. “The excrements of 80 billion land animals raised for food each year aren't’ treated and go in to water basins and oceans”. They show pastured cows in the movie after this statement, not livestock in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) which is more likely to be what they are referring to. This can be solved by eating local, supporting local farmers and eating less meat than you might right now. 

“The environmental impact we have is more than just about livestock. it is what we consume, the amount of stuff we acquire, overpopulation, dependance on fossil fuels, etc” says an expert in the movie. He is not wrong. All the packaging in processed foods, the cars we drive the amount of electronics in our households. All of this stuff has an environmental impact on the earth, not just factory farms. 

The movie goes on to attack grass fed beef as a fabrication by the meat and dairy industry to perpetuate the slaughter of animals. They say grass fed beef is even less sustainable because of land shortages and is worse than CAFO’s. I am not sure how they are coming up with this type of information. They do not list resources. I could put two cows on my 8.5 acres and have enough meat to feed my family and the families of two of my neighbors if we all ate meat just a few times a week. Small organic local farms that practice sustainability are better for the planet than CAFO’s in my opinion. 

Over fishing is depleting the oceans. I think maybe this is true. The ocean provides more oxygen to us than trees do. It is a very important ecosystem worth protecting. 

The final point I took away from the movie is that people have eaten animals for 1000’s of years and today there is no reason for us to eat them because it is not essential for survival as it was 1000’s of years ago. The film says we now have a choice and we can choose not to eat meat. 

They say we resist taking in information from places other than the mainstream. I agree with this. Many of my views on health and wellness are not what is considered mainstream. Things that are not mainstream are scary to some and so they choose to believe what is safer.

Lastly, “It won’t matter how healthy we are if the planet isn’t healthy. Stop following the system without questioning it. Vote with your dollars.” I couldn’t agree more. 

Tell me in the comments if you have seen Food Choices on Netflix and what you thought?

Do You Need a Gallbladder?

Do I need a gallbladder?  This is a really good question. 

The quick answer is yes. You need it and your life will be forever altered without it. Gallbladders are a key player if the breakdown of fat in our diet. They get mucked up with sludgy bile when we consume a high carbohydrate low fat diet and when we consume the wrong kind of fats. 

We have been sold a lie for years and years telling us that fat is bad for us. Fat will cause heard disease and obesity.  The truth is almost the opposite of what we have been told and sold on for so many years. I have written about fat before and why it is good for us. You can find that information here

I am writing specifically about gallbladders today because I have so many clients without them who didn’t know they needed support once it was removed. There are over 600,000 surgeries every year to remove gallbladders. Some of those removals are necessary but a far greater number of them are not. Your gallbladder can be saved. The trick here is that saving your gallbladder takes time and work on your part. It won’t happen over night and it will be a bit uncomfortable for you for awhile as you clean out the sludge in the gallbladder and your body begins to replace sludgy bile with clean and healthy bile to be stored. 

How does this even work?

The liver, a real workhorse for our body, produces bile which gets stored in the gallbladder until food enters the small intestines. The gallbladder then releases bile to aid in the digestion or emulsification of fats. When the gallbladder is removed, the liver continues to produce bile and it just drips in to the small intestine. This means you won’t have enough bile to break down your dietary fat which leads to fats going undigested and leaving the body often as diarrhea. 

Gallbladder surgery or cholecystectomy can be avoided with good nutrition and lifestyle. Diet is key here when you are trying to maintain a healthy gallbladder or even save it. 

Symptoms of a gallbladder attack or need to support your gallbladder with diet changes are: 

  • pain or tenderness under the rib cage on the right 
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • light or chalky colored stools
  • fatty or greasy looking stools
  • heartburn
  • stomach upset by greasy foods
  • nausea, motion sickness
  • dry skin, itchy feet 
  • headache over the eye
  • bitter taste in mouth after a meal

 

Symptoms that can be experienced when you don’t have a gallbladder are: 

  • stomachaches  
  • heartburn
  • diarrhea, usually after a meal
  • pain between the shoulder blades
  • bloating and indigestion
  • nausea

If you have had your gallbladder removed it is likely you have been told to maintain a low fat diet for life. A low fat diet will deprive your body of necessary nutrients. Every cell in our bodies are made of a layer of fat. We need it for good cellular function and we are really just a bunch of cells put together that make up tissues, organs, systems and humans. If those cells are not healthy, then we are not healthy. No fat digestion means no ability to use vitamins A, D, E and K even if we supplement.  Most importantly is that you will need to supplement with ox bile for the rest of your life. 

If you still have a gallbladder but are struggling with the above listed symptoms, you can save it. Sludge in your gallbladder does NOT mean you have to remove it. If you are willing to put in the work to save it, you probably can. It takes time and you will feel uncomfortable and experience some pain as the sludge gets cleaned out. It won’t happen overnight. 

This is what you can start to do to ensure you can clean out your gallbladder: 

  • Increase the healthy fats in your diet such as olive oil, flax oil, fish oils and coconut oil
  • Eat a high fiber diet
  • Consume lots and lots of vegetables. Half your plate at dinner should be veggies
  • Eat at least one serving (2 cups) of raw, grated beets covered with the juice of half a lemon and two tablespoons of raw, unprocessed flax seed oil or olive oil
  • Avoid dairy products except butter
  • Avoid wheat/gluten
  • Avoid fried foods, hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats
  • Avoid refined carbohydrates
  • Rule out any potential food allergies or sensitivities

There are also several supplements you can take to support your liver and gallbladder. Part of what I do as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner is have you take an extensive questionnaire that will pinpoint if gallbladder or liver issues are something you need to be looking at. 

Have you ever had a gallbladder attack? How did you deal with it? Leave me a comment below and let's start a conversation. 

Healthy Eating 101

Last Tuesday was National Night Out (I think it is called something else now) and our neighborhood makes hamburgers and hot dogs for the event and everyone else brings a dish to share. We were discussing hamburgers and a seasoning someone brought that made the burgers tasty. I didn’t have any because I wasn’t sure it was gluten free but I was telling them about making burgers that were half chopped bacon so basically 50% burger and 50% bacon. They are really the most delicious hamburger. Someone said that was funny that someone so “healthy” would suggest eating a burger like that. Just goes to show that people are still soooo mislead by the media about what is healthy. I don’t eat burgers like that every week or even every month but they are a fun treat to have and all that saturated fat is sure good for the body. This has been discussed a couple of times on my website already.  

So what exactly is healthy eating?

images.jpeg

One survey conducted by the National Cancer Institute showed only about 9% of the people surveyed eat three or more servings of vegetables or two or more servings of fruit in a day. This was a recall study of foods eaten the previous day. Do you recall how many fruits and vegetables you ate yesterday?  Yesterday was a good day for me. I ate lots of veggies but that is not typical for me and I am a Nutritional Therapist so I KNOW what I should be eating. 

In the U.S. 46% of our food dollars are spent on foods (meals or snacks) eaten outside of our homes.  For my family I would say that percentage is more like 15%-20% at most so someone else has to make up for my share of not eating out. The number of convenience stores has more than doubled in the last ten years!  Americans drink a heck of a lot of soft drinks consuming their body weight in sweeteners! Yikes.  Americans also drink more soft drinks than water although I would guess this may be changing as we seem to be really getting wise to how terrible soft drinks are for us.

 Where in the world do you start to eat healthy?

You can get rid of chronic health issues, prevent further disease and make the quality of your life much better by making some pretty basic changes. Change is hard. People are resistant to it especially when it means giving up some of those comfort foods we have so grown to love.  The thing you cannot forget is that a diet of proper nutrients gives your body all the materials it needs to detoxify and heal or to maintain good health. If your body is broken down with chronic health problems it is because you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to run properly and it is broken. Sometimes the damage can be reversed, sometimes it can be slowed down and sometimes you can stop it in its tracks. It really just depends on how much damage is done. 

In any case, I guarantee you will feel better by making the following basic changes to your diet. 

 

Start drinking more water. 

Many people or other health professionals will tell you to drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day. The standard I follow is half your body weight in ounces per day. 

What if you don’t like water? 

You can read all about why water is so needed by your body here.  I have always loved water so I don’t have a good answer for you on how to make yourself like it.  You can try to start out with a sparkling mineral water like Perrier or San Pellegrino. LaCroix is a start too but it is not the same as the other two. Mineral waters have all the minerals your body needs including magnesium which most of us are deficient in. Your tap water can be a source of chemicals like fluorine, chlorine and other things like lead or plastics (depends on what kind of pipes you have). 

Eat lots of vegetables every day. Eat 1-2 servings of fruit.  

More than half your plate should be covered in veggies at every meal.  One of the best ways to lose weight is to eat a lot of vegetables. The fiber can help you feel full longer and will help get things moving. It can even help keep your cholesterol and blood pressure in check.  

Leafy greens are an excellent source of folate which is important for the methylation cycle in your detoxification system and also plays a role in producing the feel good hormone serotonin. 

You get lots of minerals from veggies too but they are best absorbed when you eat your veggies with some fat (butter on broccoli, asparagus roasted with olive oil, a simple salad with a homemade dressing of olive oil, mustard and salt and pepper). 

They help keep cancer at bay, increase your energy and help keep the toxins moving out of your body. 

Avoid the deep fried foods, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils (Trans Fats). 

  • High levels of trans fats in your cells increases your chances of developing cancer, especially breast cancer. 
  • High levels of trans fats are associated with heart disease. 
  • Consuming trans fats increases pain and inflammation. They keep your body from creating its own natural anti-inflammatory substances. If you have chronic pain this is one thing you will want to avoid for sure. 
  • Trans fats get in your cells making it easier for a virus or bacteria to invade and keep your immune system struggling. 
  • It is thought they are linked to ADD, depression and fatigue. 

Stay away from refined sugar.

This is a tough one for a lot of us, myself included. Americans eat a lot of sugar every year. There are many different statistics on this but one study concluded that Americans consume around 170 pounds per year. That number was seven pounds per year in 1750 England. This stuff really wreaks havoc on your body. 

  • Eating it causes a loss of minerals, especially magnesium
  • Eating sugar makes your body’s need for vitamin C and the B vitamins that much greater. 
  • Makes emotional stress even worse. 
  • Feeds yeasts in your body causing an imbalance and makes cravings worse (those yeasts in your body will actually make you crave sugar- it is their fuel)
  • Have you ever been on the blood sugar roller coaster? Have the need for a pick me up in the afternoon? 
  • Sugar increases pain and inflammation

Limit or just don’t eat refined carbohydrates

Most of us get at least 50% of our calories from refined carbohydrates. These are all the grains that have been processed to nothing and made in to bread, cake, cookies, pasta etc. All you have left is the starch because all of the nutrients are gone. Have you ever eaten something you thought you were craving only to feel so unsatisfied afterwards and still looking for “that something” to fill you up. Well, if it isn’t an emotional need you are looking to feed it is your body looking for the minerals and vitamins that it is not getting.  These foods will fill you up but they will not nourish you and that is really what you need to function properly- nourishment. 

If you have Autoimmune disease of any kind you may be best served by avoiding all grains most especially wheat. If you must eat any grains it is best to consume them properly prepared which means soaked and sprouted. If you are going to take the time to do that you could benefit from their nutrients but you can get all the nutrients you need from other foods.

Keep the chemicals out of your diet and your life in general

There are around 80,000 chemicals approved by the FDA for use in anything from food to make-up and so on. We are inundated with toxins on a daily basis from our environment too. There is definitely no getting around that.  You do have control over what you eat and what you put on your body though so you can control a bit of how toxic your life is or has become. 

Your average American eats around ten pounds of chemicals in the form of food additives every year! 

Did you know that additives are tested in their singular form and not together. So no one really knows what a combo of these things in a food product does to your body.  Toxins and food additives are a huge burden on the liver. If you are consuming large amounts of sugar your liver is probably too busy to do anything about the chemicals in your body so they get deposited places (like the fat on your body) until your body can deal with them later. 

Mono and diglycerides are listed by the FDA as the kind of additives that cause cancer, birth defects and fertility issues. Granted you probably have to consume a huge amount for these types of problems to occur but many people eat a whole lot of processed foods every single day. If you are one of those people you are getting way more additives than you should. 

Brominated vegetable oil (an ingredient in some sodas like that yellow one depicting the droplets of water on the mountains) that keeps things mixed together. It causes kidney damage and is poisonous. It can make its home in your fat and nerve tissues. 

Red# 40 is thought to be carcinogenic. Many food colors added to foods have been implicated in other things like ADD or ADHD making them worse. Avoid all colors that are followed by a number. 

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. These are bad news for your brain and are thought to cause headaches, depression and anxiety. 

TBHQ was not easily approved but somehow it was. Five grams of this stuff can kill you yet it is used as a preservative in many foods so it can sit on the shelf for a really long time without spoiling. 

One could go on and on about a whole host of these types of food additives but you get the idea. Read the ingredients on what you buy or just stay away from processed food as much as possible. 

Eat your food slowly and chew it thoroughly

In American culture is seems to be the norm to wolf down your food as fast as possible so you can move on the next thing. Or maybe you are running from work to a kids activity and eating in the car. Whatever the reason, it will serve you best to take some time out of your day to sit down and eat your meal. Relax. Enjoy. Be grateful for the food and the nourishment it will provide you. Take a bite, put down your fork and chew it well. Really chew it, 20-30 times before swallowing. You will find you eat less and you will feel more satisfied. 

Don’t skip any meals either. Pack some snacks if you need to when you are out so you are not stuck with crappy food choices where you may end up. I usually plan for myself but sometimes my kids don’t want to eat what I have packed. We were on a road trip recently and stopped at a gas station (for gas but the kids were hungry because our dinner was small) and the guy ringing us up said he was really impressed with the choices my kids made. Okay, so it was gas station food but choosing a sandwich over a bag of chips was a good choice. The kids picked sandwiches, yogurt and cheese and Clif Bars. You will find in a pinch many stores are carrying something a little better than a overly processed snack cake or donuts that are stale. 

Changing your diet can be overwhelming. I would suggest you don’t go on a diet. Those things NEVER work. Eat real food. Even if you cannot afford organic food it is cheaper to eat real food. Not only is it cheaper but it is better for your body. Your body knows what to do with chicken but it may question what to do with all the ingredients in a chicken nugget. Be kind to yourself when making these changes. You have to start somewhere and baby steps are always good. Even if you slip up. Be forgiving of your slip and move on. You will be happier and healthier for it!

In health,

Stephanie

 

What Are The Best Fats To Cook With?

I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on a conversation I over heard in the grocery store. Two people were talking about which fats were the best to use for cooking. I was shocked, to hear what they were saying. I am so immersed in this world of health and wellness that I am still surprised when I hear people saying that their “vegetable”  (shh…it’s not really made from vegetables) oil is the best.  I know someone with Chron’s who no longer has their colon who buys this stuff by the gallons to fry fish with. Honestly, it makes me sad and even a little mad that people have been duped by the industry which produces this stuff for so many years. 

It has been about 60 or so years that we have been told that low fat diets are the way to go and that using these so called healthy oils in your cooking, baking and salad dressings is the best thing for you. Eating low fat keeps you from being healthier due to deficiency of fatty acids. Low fat diets have really been promoted since the 50’s. Low fat, high carbohydrate (unrefined carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables and grains) diets lead to things like mood disorders like depression, deficiencies in minerals, weight problems and fatigue. Studies done on low fat diets fail to show their benefits on your long term health. This is because you need fat from your diet for the health and well being of each and every cell in your body. Your body needs fat!

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

This is the plant that canola oil is made from. It is made from the seed called rapeseed. 

What the industry is not telling you is that the canola oil, corn oil and soybean oil among others are denatured, refined and really, really bad for your health. The way these fats are processed makes it so that our bodies cannot process them keeping your health and vitality from you. They sell you on their talk that dietary fat is going to kill you. That saturated fat will clog your arteries. What they don’t tell you is the obesity rates in this country started to rise when the “vegetable” oils were heavily promoted as healthy. 

Did you know that everyday your body makes cholesterol? When you eat cholesterol rich foods, your body doesn’t have to make as much on its own. How cool is that? My husband recently went to the doctor and the doctor had an app on his phone that allowed him to plug in some basic information to decide whether or not he should put my husband on a statin to keep his cholesterol low. There was nothing wrong with my husbands cholesterol. He makes some lifestyle choices that put him more at risk for heart attack than others but his cholesterol was fine. He declined the cholesterol lowering statin. 

I have talked a bit about fat on here before but will recap the benefits of fat for your health: 

  •     Fats keep you full and satisfied longer 
  •     Fats help your hormones work properly
  •     Fats help you absorb nutrients from your veggies (put some grass fed    butter on them)
  •     Fats keep your bile healthy so you can digest and breakdown fats 
  •     Fats keep your cells healthy
  •     Fats help your body produce anti inflammatory chemicals

There are several classifications for fats.

Saturated fat is very stable naturally and will not rancidify easily. It is solid at room temperature. Fats from animals are typically saturated as are coconut and palm oils. 

Monounsaturated fat is pretty stable and won’t rancidify easily. Olive oil is a good example of monounsaturated fat. Lard actually has more monounsaturated fat in it than saturated fat yet is classified as a saturated fat. 

Polyunsaturated fats in unstable always, is damaged by heat very easily, will turn rancid fast and needs refrigeration. This is where your Omega-3 and Omega 6 fatty acids come from. Fish oil and flax seed oil are examples of polyunsaturated fat. Most seed oils are in this category as well. 

What most people maybe don’t know is that all fats are a combination of all three of these kinds of fats. They are classified by which category of fat is most prominent. 

The best, most stable and healthful fat for cooking at high temperatures is most animal fats and oils like coconut and palm oil.  These types of oils when from healthy animals and clean sources keep your veins and vessels healthy, they keep your immune system healthy, protect your liver from toxins, help your body absorb calcium in keep your cells working properly. 

The fats to avoid in cooking at all are those from seeds and nuts. They are very sensitive to heat and should only be consumed raw. They also should be consumed in small amounts (around one teaspoon is enough for most people). You also want to avoid the highly processed oils (the “vegetable” oils) like corn, soybean, cottonseed (we don’t eat cotton, why would we eat the oil?) and canola (which is a seed oil). The oils are extracted through a process of crushing them and heating them to temperatures around 230 degrees damaging their fatty acid molecules. They are then put under pressure to squeeze the oil out which generates even more heat. Then they are chemically processed with petroleum based solvent to get the very last bits of oil out. The solvent is boiled off but some remains in the oil (yum). Also, the pesticides used on the crops before harvest are concentrated in the oil due to the use of the solvent so you are getting a good dose of chemicals in your rancid oil. 

Avoiding hydrogenated oils like margarine and shortening is also a good idea. Hydrogenated oils are made from polyunsaturated fats (the really unstable ones that should never be heated). They are further processd after extraction by adding nickel oxide and then exposed to hydrogen gas at high temperatures and high pressure. The chemical structure of the fat is then changed from polyunsaturated to saturated or Trans Fats. Fillers and Thickeners are added and odors are removed through steam (more heat=even more damage) and finally bleached because it is a gray color (appetizing). 

How to know if the oil you are buying is damaged (processed with chemicals)

If the label reads: Refined, Hydrogenated, Partially-Hydrogenated or cold-processed AVOID it. 

If the label reads: Organic, First-cold pressed or Cold Pressed, Expeller-Pressed, Unrefined, Extra Virgin BUY it. 

The safest oils for cooking, frying, baking, broiling, grilling and roasting

  • Lard
  • Ghee (clarified butter)
  • Tallow from beef or lamb
  • Chicken, Goose and Duck Fat
  • Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
  • Red Palm Oil/Palm Kernel Oil

Tropical oils like coconut and palm oil can be refined and processed just like polyunsaturated fats so make sure to read the labels. You can order high quality fats online or buy them from your local food co op. 

Safe fats for stir frying, light sautéing, and slow and low cooking

  • Olive oil (unfiltered- should turn somewhat solid to solid when refrigerated)
  • Avocado oil- similar to olive oil, made from the meat, not the pit
  • Peanut oil (not a good choice for frying in fryers) using occasionally 
  • Sesame oil- use to sauté occasionally
  • Macadamia nut oil (80% monounsaturated fat), store in fridge. 

Make sure they are processed in the best way possible (expeller pressed is best). Read your labels.  You can actually cook up to a temperature of 400 degrees with olive oil. 

Do not use for cooking

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

this is a popular brand that is widely available. I have no affiliation with this brand. 

  • Flax oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Pumpkin seed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Sunflower oil

Omega-3 rich oils like flaxseed oil can be used in small amounts for a portion of a salad dressing or added to a smoothie. They should be eating in moderation from good sources.

Do not use

  • Vegetable oils
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn oil
  • Cottonseed oil

These are highly processed, usually genetically modified and have high levels of pesticides in them. Canola is high in Omega-3 fatty acids but are damaged to the point of no return during processing. Your body doesn’t know what to do with this oil when you consume it.  Cottonseed oil is one of the most genetically modified crops out there. It is not a food and should not be consumed. 

Butter must not be forgotten. It is best to consume butter from grass fed sources and raw when you can (not feasible for many people). Butter has a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega 6 fatty acids and your fat soluble vitamins A,D, E and K needed to help you absorb and use the nutrients in your food. It also helps with the inflammatory or anti-inflammatory processes in your body. 

Enjoy cooking with your fats and remember that consuming fat does not make you fat. Did you know I do Pantry Makeovers? I can help you figure out what foods you may need to get rid of on your journey to health. Send me a note and we can have a free 15 minute strategy session!

In health,

Stephanie

Breakfast Hash Recipe

This whole cooking from scratch thing gets to be really old, really fast when you have to cook three meals a day for seven days a week in order to maintain your health (especially if you have an autoimmune disease).  I also have restrictions to my diet. No gluten. No dairy. No eggs. No grains. I will never be able to have gluten again and I should probably never eat dairy again as well. Dairy can be cross reactive with gluten meaning your body can’t tell the difference between the protein in dairy and gluten proteins. When you have thyroid problems, that can be a big deal. 

In an effort to ensure I eat enough and stay full until lunch, I make hash a lot. It is super easy when you have leftover veggies. It is easy even if you don’t. Hash can be made from anything. Any vegetables and any starch and any meats you have in the fridge. 

Today mine was made of purple sweet potatoes, fennel, onion, broccoli and parsley with a little bit of ham leftover from a dinner a few nights ago. I made a skillet full so I could have it for a snack later if there was any left over. Truthfully, I could have eaten the whole thing and probably should have but I had a meeting to go to so I didn’t have time. 

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

Fennel, Ham, Parsley, Broccoli, Onion, Purple Sweet Potato

 

So here is the recipe for this specific hash. If you have not signed up for my newsletter yet you can get a good hash recipe in my 4 week gut healing program for free when you sign up. 

 

1 small onion, chopped

1 small stalk broccoli, chopped

1/2 a med bulb of fennel, chopped

1-1 1/2 purple sweet potato, cut in to half moons (also called Japanese purple sweet potato)

small handful of parsley, chopped

1 T lard, coconut oil or butter

 

 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add fat of choice. Let melt in pan and then add sweet potato and fennel.

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

After the fat is hot in the skillet add the potatoes and fennel. 

Season with salt and pepper if desired. Stir and cover. Reduce heat to med low. Let cook covered for about 10 minutes. This will soften the potatoes and fennel quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 

Cover the potatoes so they can soften quicker or cook through quicker. 


Remove lid and add broccoli and onions and increase heat to medium. Stir frequently and add more fat if you need to. 

 Once the onions and broccoli are almost done add the leftover ham and parsley and stir until heated through. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

I added the parsley after I took this photo. 

Like I said earlier this is enough for one hungry person. 

When making hash you can think outside the box and use anything you have. I try to make extra veggies for dinner so I have lots left over to use in my hash. It helps to have them already cooked because it speeds up the process. You can use cauliflower, brussels sprouts, asparagus- anything. 

If you like eggs you can add an egg at the end so it just cooks in the hash and makes almost like a sauce for the whole thing. 

What do you like to eat for breakfast?

In Health, 

Stephanie

20 Ways to Tell Your Blood Sugar Needs Balancing

The regulation of our blood sugar is so important to our adrenal health. The two things really go hand in hand. If blood sugar regulation is not working well then you cannot achieve health. It is THAT important. Blood sugar dysregulation leads to oxidative stress. Basically what this means is that there is more free radical damage in our bodies because we don’t have enough anti oxidants to neutralize the free radicals created in our body. It also leads to something called glycation which is when proteins in your body become sugared over and can’t communicate with other cells in your body. Blood sugar dysregulation also messes with the energy output in your cells. Your cells create energy with glucose which is a form of sugar. Our body is continually monitoring the levels of glucose in our bloodstream to make sure it stays balanced. Having too much or too little triggers hormones to be released to keep the glucose levels normal.  We were designed to use unrefined carbohydrates as well as quality fats and proteins as our best sources of fuel. We are not designed to run on carbohydrates alone, especially refined and processed ones. 

 

So how do you know if you have some issues with blood sugar imbalance?

  1. You crave sweets
  2. You wake up soon after falling asleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep
  3. You have binge type eating patterns
  4. You have an appetite that won’t quit
  5. You get irritable, jittery or hangry
  6. You get headaches that temporarily feel better after eating
  7. You crave coffee or sugar in the afternoon
  8. You are sleepy in the afternoon
  9. You get shaky if you miss a meal or eat later than normal
  10. You have a family history of diabetes
  11. You are thirsty a lot
  12. You have to pee a lot
  13. You crave bread, pasta or other refined grains
  14. You have poor concentration
  15. You have night sweats
  16. You struggle to lose weight even though you are eating a low fat diet
  17. You are frequently tired
  18. You get a boost of energy from eating
  19. You have anxiety or panic attacks
  20. You have spikes and dips in your energy levels throughout the day

If any one of these describes you then you are most certainly assured to have some issues with your blood sugar and probably your adrenals too. You see, the main organs involved in your blood sugar regulation are the Pancreas, the Liver and the Adrenal Glands. They each have a very important role in blood sugar. If they are constantly busy managing your blood sugar because you ate too many cookies or a huge bowl of ice cream or a box of crackers at work then they can’t do all the other things they need to do in a day, in a moment to keep you alive. 

Refined sugar is a recent invention compared to how long man has been around. We only have one hormone that lowers blood sugar and that is insulin. It wasn’t supposed to have the job of lowering blood sugar but to bring glucose to the cells.  The hormones cortisol, epinephrine (or adrenaline) and glucagon are all there to raise our blood sugar when needed.  It used to be that is what we needed- to raise blood sugar so that our brain, nerves and red blood cells got the glucose they needed. Today, we overload our bodies with sugar at around 200 pounds per person per year. 

So why do we love it so much?

Well frankly, sugar makes us feel good. It literally raises your endorphins but it also crashes and makes you feel worse after a short time. This is called the blood sugar roller coaster. It is addictive. So addictive in fact that in one study, mice chose sugar over cocaine. 

Our taste buds love it but our bodies do not. It is really hard on your body to be managing your blood sugar day in and day out. Your pancreas releases the hormone insulin which is just supposed to transport glucose to your cells from your blood so that it can be used for energy. When you overwhelm your body with sugar the pancreas will eventually wear out which leads to things like insulin resistance and then type II diabetes. Your adrenal glands will be exhausted from having to deal with managing blood sugar on top of all the other stressors in your life such as your emotional stressors, not sleeping or your every day frustrating commute to work. It will also depress your immune system. Your liver can end up having a hard time converting stored glucose back in to glucose for energy and you can end up with a fatty liver. 

You can develop something called insulin resistance where your cells decide they have had enough of insulin knocking at their door to deliver them some glucose and they just don’t answer the door anymore. This is when your blood sugar levels will be higher on a blood test.  You could have insulin resistance if you are tired all the time, can’t lose weight, you have joint problems, are depressed, have thyroid or fertility issues. 

Insulin resistance has a huge impact on female hormone issues like Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, irregular periods and PMS. 

Consuming large amounts of sugar can mean you are what we call a sugar burner. This means your body is able to burn sugar or glucose rather than fat for energy. This here is key to weight loss for many people and if you have weight gain due to hypothyroidsim or Hashimoto’s, converting from a sugar burner to a fat burner can be ultra helpful in dropping some of those pesky pounds. Other signs you are a sugar burner are: 

  •     you are less satisfied after eating
  •     you are hungry all the time
  •     you can’t use fat for energy
  •     you crave carbohydrates and you eat them 

Reducing the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis can turn this around and you can teach your body how to burn fat for energy.  All that extra sugar you have consumed in a day that your cells can’t use gets stored as fat. You can teach your body how to use it. 

Let’s talk more about how the adrenal glands and your adrenal health is affected by blood sugar imbalances. 

If you have Hashimoto’s you may not tolerate carbohydrates as well as other folks. Your blood sugar can rise quickly after eating carbs which can lead to too much insulin being released which can end up causing low blood sugar and make you feel anxious, nervous and tired. This also stresses your adrenal glands because cortisol is released when your adrenals are working overtime. Every time your blood sugar gets low epinephrine is released to help restore it to normal levels.  This can also mess with your immune system. 

Here are some general symptoms of low blood sugar: 

  •     brain fog
  •     blurred vision
  •     hard time sleeping
  •     heart palpitations
  •     fatigue
  •     dizziness
  •     headaches
  •     depression
  •     irritability
  •     cravings for sugar
  •     hunger

How do you avoid blood sugar imbalances?

Look at your diet. Look at your lifestyle. 

Do you eat a large amount of refined carbohydrates in the form of breads or cereals for breakfast? Do you skip breakfast? Do you eat things like pasta salad or a sandwich for lunch? Do you eat all the “good for you” yogurt you see in the grocery store? Have a look at the sugar content of your standard grocery store yogurt. It is pretty high. 

Are you running all the time with no time for rest and relaxation? 

 

Here are some generally good ideas for balancing your blood sugar:

  1. Have some protein at every meal (see this post for learning all about protein)
  2. When you first start to balance your blood sugar, eating more often is better- try having a snack between breakfast, lunch and dinner. Just something small like a few nuts or a piece of cheese
  3. Don’t have any sugar before bed
  4. Keep your caffeine intake to a minimum (really would be a good idea to take it out of your diet while you balance your blood sugar)
  5. Don’t eat any grains or dairy 
  6. Eat breakfast within an hour of getting up
  7. Avoid all sweeteners including artificial ones (limit your fruits to 1 serving a day at most)
  8. Keep the carbs to a minimum eating only complex carbs
  9. Consume high quality healthy fats

You would want to do this for about two weeks and then slowly add back things like full fat dairy and continuing to limit grains if you tolerate them. If you have Hashimoto’s you will want eliminate gluten containing grains for good. Eventually you may be able to tolerate some other grains once in awhile. I would not recommend switching your glutenful products with gluten free ones. They will react the same in your body as far as blood sugar is concerned.  Staying low carb is not beneficial for everyone. I find I have much more energy when I consume more starchy carbs regularly like sweet potatoes and veggies. I feel my best when consuming a significant amount of veggies daily. If you feel exhausted after awhile of being low carb it is a sign you will do better with more complex carbs in your diet and that is okay. 

You can try this on your own or you can come to me for help. I have a special plan just to convert you from a sugar burner to a fat burner that helps keep your blood sugar balanced which will help in the recovery of your adrenals as well.  Send me an email and we can chat about it!

Thanks so much for reading. I sincerely appreciate your time. Please tell me in the comments what symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar you might have. I look forward to hearing from you. 

In health, 

Stephanie

 

Beat Brain Fog Now!!

If you have hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s you probably have had some experience with brain fog. It is one  of those things that make you think you might be a little crazy sometimes. Do you ever ask yourself, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I remember anything?”. 

Here is what people are saying about what brain fog feels like for them: 

“Brain fog means not being able to remember things like a friend's name or what I went to the store for when I only needed two things. I completely forget what I was about to say and what I was talking about. I read a book and the next day can't remember what it was about or who the characters were. I can't concentrate. I'm 45 years old and don't have Alzheimer’s.”

“Knowing what word I want to say and either nothing comes out or the wrong word comes out.”

 “I used to be very articulate and now I also know what word I want, but I can't grab onto it.”

“Slow thinking, can't quite get the words, lose focus, forget what I was doing, leave the stove on...feels like Alzheimer’s.”

“Not being able to come up with simple words to complete my sentences (ones that were familiar, yet my brain couldn't come up with them). My 2-year old was completing my sentences.”

“Feels like your thinking and trying to remembering through oatmeal or sludge.”

“Like trying to muddle through pea soup. Knowing that there is something you need to retrieve from your brain but you just can't quite get to it.”

“Walking through life in a cloud. Everything feels fuzzy and I am very forgetful. We just checked out of a hotel today and I left all of my jewelry in a drawer. It didn't come to me until I felt my neck and realized something was missing several hours later.”

“I had a very hard time following a conversation, felt like I was losing my mind. Couldn't remember things, but mostly felt completely confused! Very scary.”

“Saying a word close in sound but nowhere close in meaning from the one I am looking for. Feeling sleepy like Dorothy in the poppy field.”

“Not knowing where you are going, what you are doing, feeling like you can't connect your brain to your thoughts. People talk to you and you don't know what they said. Having issues with regular things, like driving or cooking.”

“I just can't think straight. I get things mixed up, start to tell a joke or story and can't remember how it goes, I read something but can't comprehend what I'm reading. My eyes feel very heavy and tired and I have a heavy feeling in my forehead and behind my eyes. Even the simplest tasks take too much mental effort.”

“I feel disconnected. I'm in there somewhere but I just can't grasp it and hold on. I can't get my mind to stay focused nor remember anything during brain fog spells (which is usually always). It's the feeling you get when you're running on very little sleep.”

“Saying crazy things like: go mow your bedroom floor. I meant vacuum!!!”

“A total disconnect from how you would normally be articulate... The thought process and words just don't come out as planned..an all day feeling like you haven't slept in days.. forgetful and confused at times.”

“Like I couldn't get my brain to engage...randomly losing words, thinking through mud, my critical thinking skills were completely gone. Definitely forgetful and confused.”

“Everything being slow to process is a good description. And working too hard mentally to do easy things.”

“I cant tell you what I did this morning let alone last week. I can be in the middle of a conversation and forget what we were talking about. I can be in the middle of a sentence and stop dead because I cant remember the next word I need.”

“Very lethargic. Can't focus, concentrate, and feeling like I can't fully wake up.” 

“You walk to a room to grab something and forget on the way what it was...you may never remember...starting a question to someone but forgetting the second half of the question before you finish saying "have you ever...uh..."?  Also just feeling dumb...like, man today is so hard! i can't remember, i can't multi task like i'm used to...it takes longer to compute and comprehend people's sentences…a feeling that you just wish you could crawl back into bed and try again tomorrow.”

“Feels like you're physically there, but can't mentally process everything that's happening. things go in one ear and dissolve completely before even having a chance to process. I often say it's like feeling "dumber" and "number" than usual.”

“For me it’s confusion. Almost like a wire shorting out.”

Does any of this sound like you? 

Brain fog can come in varying degrees and is different for everyone. Often you just feel so alone because no one understands. Right? 

What can you do about it? 

Brain fog is something you can control. Whatever it looks like for you there are some things you can do about it. 

First of all, having a practitioner that listens to you and believes you is key. Treating your symptoms and not just your labs is also very important. 

Second of all, what you put in to your body is of utmost important. Not only your diet, but supplementation and toxins as well. 

Eating wheat and gluten makes Hashimoto’s and the symptoms that come with it much much worse.  Processed foods and foods of convenience are one of the biggest things that contribute to your symptoms getting worse or remaining terrible. The reason for this is that the structure of gluten in your body resembles that of your thyroid gland and your immune system can easily mistake the gluten proteins you consumed for the thyroid gland itself. Gluten is also one of the causes of increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut which puts your immune system on high alert. 

 

You must balance your blood sugar. How do you know if your blood sugar needs balancing? Do you crave sugar? Do you feel tired after a meal? Do you have that afternoon slump? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you probably need to have some tweaking done to your diet. Maybe you are not digesting fat well and your body is overwhelmed with carbohydrates. It is helpful to have someone analyze your diet by completing a food journal for three days to a week.  Your brain needs glucose (sugar) to run but it is the kind of glucose you give it that makes a difference. It can use the sugars in vegetables for energy too which is more beneficial to your body as a whole. 

 

You may need to repair your gut. If you have increased intestinal permeability then you more than likely have some inflammation going on in your system. Removing other inflammatory foods is a great start to gut repair.  You kind of have to be your own food detective here. You can have food sensitivity testing done but if you are on a budget, do an elimination diet like the Autoimmune Protocol and gradually add back in to your diet one food at a time until you figure out which ones you react to. If you react, you know you should not eat that food again. You may also want to take some nutritional supplementation to help your body heal. 

What is your stress level like? How are your adrenal glands? Anyone who suffers from inflammation will have adrenal stress. Taking adaptogenic herbs are often quite helpful in helping your body heal from adrenal fatigue along with getting good rest and reducing that which stresses not only your body but your mind too. Did you know your nervous system doesn’t really know the difference between physical and emotional stress. It is all stress and your hormones act the same either way. The adrenals are heavily involved in your brains chemistry. If they are busy working on inflammation or balancing your blood sugar then they cannot help your brain work properly. 

What is your digestion like? Most people that are hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s usually are not making enough stomach acid. This is significant because if you don’t have enough stomach acid in your stomach is affects digestion through the rest of your digestive tract. You won’t be absorbing nutrients like B12, iron and calcium. You can then have inflammation or infections in your intestines. You can also become protein deficient when you don’t have enough stomach acid. If your digestion is not optimal you can be deficient in fats as well which are important for brain function and health. 

You may be having trouble detoxifying chemicals and toxins in your body. Most detoxification happens in the liver. The liver is also a player in blood sugar regulation. It cannot work to detoxify chemicals or even hormones if it is busy working on blood sugar. Take a look at the cleaning products you use. Are they “clean”? Do you use air fresheners? Hair care products and make up are full of chemicals too. It only takes about 22 second for chemicals on your skin to be absorbed in to your blood stream. All of those things need to be detoxified by your liver. 

Brain fog can be a sign that you are not getting enough nutrients and oxygen to your brain. One way to increase blood flow to the brain is to get some exercise.  You don’t have to go crazy with exercise here. Don’t start running or anything like that. Go for a walk. Regularly. Go for a bike ride. Hang out in nature. Just get moving. It may seem like the last thing you want to do but you will feel so good. Walking is healing for your adrenal glands too. You will find you start to feel better all around if you get out and move. 

Getting good sleep is super important to brain fog. If you’re not sleeping good or for at least seven to eight hours a night then you may experience regular brain fog. What can you do to help yourself sleep better?  You can make sure you are digesting your food, especially your protein. You also may not be eating enough. You will wake up if your body is in need of glucose for energy. Your melatonin production can be delayed if you expose yourself to the blue lights in computers, cell phones and televisions at night. Getting blue blocking glasses like these help if you are not willing to step away from electronics when it gets dark outside. 

Share this post with anyone you know that is suffering from brain fog or contact me today for help finding what your body needs to find balance. 

In health, 

Stephanie

Get a Flat Belly Now!!

Bloating and gas are common for a lot of people, not just folks with Hashimoto’s. They are related to what you eat and how you eat it. 

The most common causes of bloating are overeating, eating too fast and eating certain kinds of foods. 

Stuffing yourself will overwhelm your digestive system and slow things down. This can cause your dinner to sit there fermenting in your stomach and then even more so through your intestines. 

Gulping down a huge meal or even a tiny one without chewing each bite really well will mean your stomach has to work much harder to break everything down. Carbohydrates are first digested in your mouth by enzymes like salivary amylase and by the mechanical action of your teeth chewing your food. So slow down and chew each bit 20-30 times. Put the fork down in between bites. Be mindful of your meal. Savor the flavors. By doing this you are not only able to enjoy your meal but you are saving your digestive system from having to work so hard. Plus if you take more time with each bite you will feel full when you are actually full and not after its too late. The hormone leptin is what tells you you’re full. It needs time to catch up if you eat too fast and by that time you have over eaten. 

Eating lots of fat can five you that stuffed feeling too. Fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and protein. It is that long burning fuel our bodies love to use and it could be possible you are not digesting it properly or even at all. Fat keeps your energy stable but if you can’t digest it that doesn’t do you a whole lot of good. Signs you are not digesting your fats are when your stools float or if they have a greasy or shiny look to them. You are not digesting them if you don’t have a gallbladder either so you will need to take a supplement with bile salts every time you eat. If you have gallbladder troubles it is probably because your bile is not thin and free flowing as it should be and you can fix that with beet kvass or with a simple salad of shredded beets, carrots and dandelion greens. It is not a quick fix by any means but it is a good start. You need healthy bile to digest fats and you need good quality healthy fats to make good bile. It is a vicious cycle but one you must work to remedy if you want to see an improvement in your health. 

Remember it is not eating fat that makes you fat either, it is all that processed food and refined carbohydrates. 

If you have food intolerances or consume a lot of foods that are difficult for your body to digest you can have all kinds of bloat going on.  Not tolerating certain foods can cause things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, eczema, migraines and bloating among other things. 

A food allergy will cause an IgE response which is when the body mistakes the food as an intruder and launches an immediate immune response. A food intolerance generates an IgG response which makes for a less severe reaction that can take days to appear so you don’t know right away which food is causing the problem. So if you have bloating, it can mean your digestive system is not happy with something you ate. It usually doesn’t take a couple of days for that to happen but it would with something like eczema. 

How do you know if you have a food intolerance?

You can pay to have IgG testing done and get an idea. You can also do a pulse test. This is where you take a resting pulse for a full one minute then you put a piece of food in your mouth you think you might be reacting too. Chew it up and let it sit on your tongue. Don’t swallow it. Let it sit there for 30 seconds or so and then take your pulse again for a full one minute. If your pulse increases by more than 6 beats in that second pulse you know there may be an issue with that food. The best way, in my opinion, to find out what foods you do not tolerate is to eliminate the suspects from your diet for at least one month. Then add a potential offender back in to your diet for a day. Eat a whole bunch of it and wait four days. If you notice any difference in your digestion or how you feel, then you know that food is not something you should consume. Do this with another new food after the four days are up and once things have gotten back to normal and see how your body reacts. 

You can also take a look at other foods like beans, sprouts, cabbage and artificial sweeteners like sorbitol or xylitol. Beans have indigestible sugars in them called Oligosaccharides. While they can be a good thing and feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut they can also remain undigested in the small intestine and ferment in the large intestine causing bloating and gas. Cabbage and sprouts have a similar effect due to their indigestible sugars. 

Xylitol and sorbitol are sugar alcohols which are hard for your body to digest causing bloating, gas and even diarrhea. Some people get bloated from consuming dairy products too- this is usually due to an intolerance or lack of the enzyme lactose which aids in milk digestion. 

Get rid of the bloat. 

Let the gas go. Seems simple enough. It is not always appropriate for you to be able to do that but holding it in will make your bloat worse and probably cause you some pain or discomfort. 

Take a probiotic. They are important for repopulating your gut with beneficial bacteria. You need to have a good balance of bacteria in your gut and if you have ever been on antibiotics or stressed out then your balance is quite possibly off. Don’t just take any probiotic though. You want the highest quality you can afford and the strain number should be listed on the bottle. 

Go for a walk. Waling for ab it after you eat is a good way to get things moving and aid in digestion. Plus it will give you more energy. It is just a good thing all around. 

You can also have a rise in your gas from chewing gum or sucking on hard candies and drinking carbonated beverages too quickly. 

If you are nervous you can swallow more air so try reducing your stress and anxiety by meditation. Anxiety can be strongly associated with the health of your gut so working with a qualified practitioner can be helpful along with taking probiotics. 

Do you suffer from gas and bloating? I would love to hear what works for you to get rid of the gas and bloat. Comment below and let’s talk about it. 

In health, 

Stephanie

What could you have in common with 27 million Americans?

Thyroid problems affect around 27 million people in the United States. It is possible that you can have problems with your thyroid even if your doctor has tested you and the results came out “normal”.  Your thyroid is your body’s engine and it decides how fast or slow your internal systems work.

When it is doing its job you feel great. When your thyroid decides it’s time to hit the brakes you feel the weight creeping on, no matter how hard you try to keep it off.  You are tired ALL OF THE TIME no matter how much sleep you get. You can’t remember things or think clearly anymore and you think it’s just a part of getting older or busier with life. You’re not able to go to the bathroom regularly possibly and no matter the weather you are always freaking cold.

 

Possible signs your thyroid is off (hypo): 

  • morning headaches that wear off as the day progresses
  • depression
  • sensitive to cold weather
  • poor circulation in your hands and feet
  • muscle cramps
  • easily catch colds or viruses and recovering takes longer
  • your cuts heal slowly
  • you don’t have enough stomach acid affecting digestion
  • your skin itches and is dry
  • you retain water (edema)
  • the outer 1/3 of your eyebrows are either gone or are thinning

You may have one or several of these symptoms all pointing to hypothyroidism and your TSH tested by your doctor can show normal.  The thing with the lab ranges in conventional medicine are that they are based on the labs taken in prior years from sick and healthy patients. So all those people who went in for a thyroid test and had “normal” labs but left their doctors office still feeling like crap and for all those who had slightly elevated TSH levels but not high enough for the doctor to decide to put them on medication, your levels are compared to theirs. 

So here’s the thing, testing just TSH is not enough. I will explain more in a bit but first let’s look at the way things are supposed to work. 

  1. Your thyroid produces T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothryronine)- only about 7% of what is produced is T3. 
  2. Thyroid hormones travel through the blood stream bound to proteins that take them to your cells. 
  3. Once they are dropped off at your cells where they do their work they are called “free”
  4. T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone used by the body
  5. T4 is supposed to be converted in to T3. This mostly happens in the liver but the conversion takes place in other cells like nerve cells and muscle tissue like your heart. 
  6. Your body uses about 60% of the T4 produced. Some of the T4 is changed in to rT3 (reverse T3) making it unusable. Another 20% or so becomes active in the gut by your healthy bacteria. Your thyroid function depends on the healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Here is why TSH is not enough to know if your thyroid is working properly. TSH stands for Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. It is a hormone released by your pituitary gland (your brain). This should not be the only test looked at to measure a functioning thyroid.

Let’s look at the possible tests that can measure thyroid function.

  1. TSH as talked about above. 
  2. Total thyroxine (TT4) measures the level bound with proteins and the levels not bound with proteins. This one doesn’t tell you much unless you measure the amount of T3 taken up by the cells or T3 uptake. 
  3. Free Thyroxine Index (FTI) tells you how much thyroid hormone is free or not bound with a protein. 
  4. Free Thyroxine (FT4) measures the amount of active T4 in the blood. This will be low if you are hypothyroid. 
  5. Resin T3 Uptake (T3RU) measures how many proteins are in the blood for binding to the thyroid hormone
  6. Free Triiodothyroxine (FT3) measures what is not bound to proteins and available for use by the cells. 
  7. Reverse T3 (rT3) measures the amount of inactive T3. More T3 becomes inactive when we are facing stressful situations both emotionally and physically. 
  8. Thyroid Binding Globulin (TGB) measure the amount of proteins in our blood bringing thyroid hormones to the cells. 
  9. Thyroid Antibodies (TPO Ab and TGB Ab) will measure whether or not your immune system has produced antibodies against your thyroid indicating Hashimoto’s or Grave’s Disease. 

If you have Hashimoto’s, in addition to the symptoms listed above you may also have the following: 

  • heart palpitations
  • inward trembling
  • increased pulse rate even when sedentary
  • feeling nervous or emotionally stressed
  • insomnia
  • night sweats
  • trouble gaining weight

 

Your inability to stay warm, chronic constipation, irregular periods or weight you can’t get rid of- these are signs from your body that something isn’t right. The systems within your body are speaking to you, maybe even yelling at you. When your thyroid slows down, so does everything else.  It is not all in your head. 

In Hashimoto’s the body attacks and destroys its own thyroid gland. Your immune system is running the show, not your thyroid. It is called Autoimmune Disease. Dr.’s generally don’t test you for it because it doesn’t change how they will care for you. They are going to give you your prescription and monitor the slow decline of your thyroid and adjust your medication accordingly. That is the standard practice. It is what they are taught.

What they are not usually taught is that you can manage your symptoms very well nutritionally because when you have Hashimoto’s you can do things to calm your immunes system the heck down. 

Around one in five people suffer from an autoimmune disease and it is estimated that around 30 million of those are women. The most common autoimmune diseases are thyroid related. That is around 7% or the U.S. population. 

If you suspect you may have Hashimoto’s you can ask your doctor to test your antibodies. If he or she won’t do it, find a doctor who will. It may take some leg work depending on where you live but you can find one. 

The test can show up as negative if your not having a flare up because your immune system can swing. If this happens, ask to have it tested again in a month or two.

Your thyroid can go from over active to under active from week to week or month to month. It can be because of a trigger such as a stressful event or even for no reason at all. Every time thyroid tissue is damaged the hormones stored there are released in to the blood stream causing a flood of hormone which will speed things up making you feel hyperthyroid.

Having this happen along with being gluten intolerant (you probably are), having celiac disease or being diagnosed with pernicious anemia is a sure fire sign you have autoimmunity. 

If you have Hashimoto’s then there is a good chance some of your thyroid has been destroyed so you will probably have to take your medication for the rest of your life. I lived with hyperthyroidism for ten years before being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s so I am one of those people.

Everyone is different so how your body decides to react will not be the same as someone else. 

Most cases of hypothyroidism are also Hashimoto’s cases. The reason for this is not clear but it is clear what you can do to help prevent further flare ups. 

Like I said earlier, there is a good chance you are gluten intolerant. Every time you consume gluten you are causing an immune response in the body.  The gluten molecules are very close in molecular structure to those of the thyroid gland. So close that your immune system has trouble knowing which one is which.

How in the world does this happen?

If you have an Autoimmune disease you have increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Around 80% of Americans are genetically susceptible to gluten intolerance where gluten will damage the intestinal tract causing little openings where the undigested gluten can reach the blood stream. Some of us have the ability to repair that damage better than others. If you are one of those who can’t repair the damage as well then you end up with an autoimmune disease. 

When your immune system defines gluten as the enemy, your time with bread is over. Every time you consume anything with gluten in it, your immune system is on high alert. You will be inflamed and your thyroid tissue is attacked. This inflammation can show up in a variety of ways like achy joints, rashes, respiratory issues etc. Again, it is all depending on how your body wants to react. Everyone is different.

Gluten isn’t the only big player in Hashimoto’s but it is a pretty big one. Some other things you will need to look at are: 

  • blood sugar imbalances
  • your stress level- lifestyle is huge for managing this and any autoimmune disease
  • vitamin and mineral deficiencies
  • how toxic your environment is- your liver plays a role in converting thyroid hormones which it can’t do if it is over burdened with toxins and sugar
  • whether or not you are on birth control pills or your hormone production in general
  • besides gluten, what does your diet look like
  • are you making enough stomach acid
  • do you take or do you need probiotics

If any one of the above is out of balance you have work to do. Getting these things in balance is key to managing autoimmune disease. 

Managing your blood sugar is important for more than just thyroid function. Most of us have too much sugar in our diets which affect our thyroid and other hormones including those that manage stress such as cortisol. 

Cortisol is a key player in your stress management too. Do you take time for yourself? Do you exercise to manage stress? Do you do yoga or meditate?

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies play a role in how well your body can do the things it needs to do for good health. If you are not digesting your food because of low stomach acid or eating the Standard American Diet you are deficient in not only vitamins and minerals but in nourishment in general. 

We live in a toxic world. Your liver must be the one to clean up all the crap we take in through what we breathe, eat and put on our body. 

Birth control pills create too much estrogen in the body which makes your pituitary (brain) tired and creates too many proteins for your thyroid hormones to bind to. This means you won’t have enough thyroid hormone floating through the blood to do its job. 

Remember that some 20% of thyroid hormone becomes active in the gut in the presence of healthy bacteria there. If your gut flora is out of balance which is the case for many people, then you will have less active hormone to work with. You will also have the possibility of digestive issues of all kinds. 

You may be one of the 27 million Americans with thyroid problems but you don’t have to be one who is suffering through it. Or maybe you know someone who has hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s and they don’t know what to do.

Share this article with someone you care about. There is help out there and there is someone who genuinely cares that can help them.

 

What is Nutrition Part Three- Fat

images.jpeg

I was never much of a dieter. I did a low fat diet once or twice in my life but that was it. I tried to lose a few pounds to fit in to a bridesmaid dress so I ate an extremely low fat diet and exercised.  I found myself becoming obsessed with what I ate so that whole diet lasted about a week before I decided that was not a path I wanted to go down. I love food and I hate exercise. Cutting fat out of my diet and counting calories meant I was eating a lot of carbohydrates and hungry all the time. I was miserable.  It took me many years after that wedding to figure out how to eat so my body was satisfied. 

I fell for the “saturated fat is bad for you” talk and “eat rice cakes with jelly on them” if you want a snack. Oh boy. My body was not happy for many years.  Eating like that made me HANGRY (hungry + angry) a lot. I would get to the point where I couldn’t even think straight. One time while camping with friends I got so Hangry I threw our lawn chairs across our campsite. I have yet to live that one down and it was more than 20 years ago.  I got shaky and light headed and couldn’t think straight. All because I didn’t eat enough fat and my body didn’t know how to burn it properly. I was a carbaholic for years. It has only been in the last year that I have really been able to use fat for energy. I went really low carb and high fat and that wasn’t good for me either. I ended up with low blood sugar because I wasn’t eating enough and I wasn’t eating enough good carbs. A whole bag of potoato chips at one time is NOT a good source of carbs- I might as well have eaten a candy bar. So I have significantly upped my consumption of veggies while still eating protein and fat. I eat a lot of fat. At least 1 avocado a day and my food is cooked in bacon fat, lard, tallow or coconut oil. I have at least a tablespoon of olive oil on my salad every day too. With all this fat, based on what we are told in the mainstream, you would think my cholesterol is outrageously high. It is 199 overall. Not too bad. 

There has been much talk lately about fat in the modern diet. For years we have been told to consume a low fat diet and that fat is bad for you- saturated fat in particular. While some folks are coming around, it has been known for years in the scientific community that the right kinds of fat are good for you for A LOT of reasons. Remember that article from June 2014 in Time Magazine? Butter was on the cover!  Yes. Butter is not only good but it is actually good for you. It will not clog your arteries AND it will make your food taste really good. In fact, you actually need some fat on your veggies in order to assimilate the nutrients in those veggies when you digest them. 

Our body is composed of about 15% fat. You need fat for so many reasons including optimal health.

Why is fat so good for us?

  • It is a long burning source of energy like a log on a fire
  • Your cells and hormones need fat to work properly
  • You can’t use your protein properly with out fat
  • Eating fat helps to manage your blood sugar
  • It helps your body manage inflammation throughout the body

There are three classifications for fat:  saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated

  • SATURATED: stable fats, solid at room temp, found in animals and tropical oils, best for cooking with especially at higher temperature
  • MONOUNSATURATED: somewhat stable, liquid at room temp, found in olive oil, avocados, and nuts like almonds, peanuts, pecans and cashews
  • POLYUNSATURATED: unstable, rancidify easily, essential to the body (meaning we must get it                    from our diet), never should be heated or cooked with, found in flax, nuts, fish and seeds

ALL FATS AND OILS ARE A COMBINATION OF THESE THREE KINDS OF FAT. Whichever of the three fats is highest in concentration determines the label put on the fat. 

How much fat do you need in a day?

It depends on the person but a general guideline is around 30% of your calories should be from high quality fats.  

What kind of fat should I eat?

Fish oil, sesame oil, palm oil, coconut oil, butter, lard/tallow/duck fat from pastured animals, olive oil and avocados. 

What kind of fat should I avoid?

Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, “vegetable” oils such as canola (see a video here on how it is made but ignore the voice telling you how healthy it is because it is not healthy for you.), corn and soybean oil.   Your body doesn’t actually recognize these as food. They are toxic and keep the good fats from being able to do their job. 

The kind and amount of fat you consume is important to help your body manage inflammation as I said before. We also need it to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and keep our liver and gallbladder functioning well. If you don’t have a gallbladder you must supplement your diet with bile salts in order to digest fats and assimilate them. You may not be able to handle large amounts of fat in your diet either. 

What should I look for when buying fats/oils?

  • cold pressed/expeller pressed (NOT cold processed- that’s a trick)
  • unrefined
  • organic
  • extra virgin

Remember, fat does not make you fat. You can actually lose weight consuming a fairly high amount of healthy fats in your day to day diet as long as you do it the right way. For more information on how to do that, contact me for a free consultation. 

Here is a link to a recipe for a good fat snack from my friends and T + W. Enjoy.