Do I Need a Calcium Supplement?

The short answer here is that you may not need one. Most of us get enough calcium in our diets but lack the needed cofactors to use and assimilate the calcium. 

Foods that are rich in calcium

  • Sardines

  • Sesame Seeds

  • Collard Greens

  • Spinach

  • Turnip Greens

  • Mustard Greens

  • Beet Greens

  • Natto (fermented soy)

  • Egg Yolks

  • Dark Meat Chicken.

You do not have to consume dairy products to get enough calcium but if you do, the best sources of dairy calcium are raw milk, yogurt and cheese (Jarlsberg in particular). 

Calcium makes up about 2% of your body weight contributing to bone structure as well as playing a role in controlling muscle and nerve function.  We definitely need calcium but you may not need to supplement with it as long as you are eating a well balanced diet. Too much calcium in the diet can deposit itself in places like blood vessels and as kidney stones in the kidneys. 

While calcium is essential for muscle contraction, magnesium serves as a calcium blocker. It is the calcium in too high amounts that creates a muscle cramp and magnesium that creates the relaxation. So it is important for these two to be in balance especially when it comes to your heart. 

It is not enough to try to replace these minerals that may be lacking in the diet. They need to be in balance and we need to be asking ourselves why there is an imbalance in the first place. 

Some things to look at to see whether or not your body is able to use the calcium in your diet are: 

How are your hormones functioning? Your parathyroid plays a very big role in maintaining blood calcium levels, thyroid hormone decreases blood calcium levels, adrenal hormones control sodium and potassium which have a relationship with calcium and sex hormones play a role in bone structure. Vitamin D works like a hormone in the body. We need it to increase the absorption through the digestive system. More on that later. 

Are you drinking enough water? Good hydration ensures that blood is fluid or thin and free flowing enough to efficiently transport calcium throughout the body. Having balanced electrolytes will help make sure calcium is transferred in and out of the cells. 

Are you getting enough other minerals in your diet? You should not only be looking at the amount of minerals you are getting in your diet (from food) but are they in balance with the amount of calcium you are getting. 

Are you digesting your fats or taking in quality fats?  Fatty acids are needed to transport calcium in to the cells and help increase calcium levels in the tissues. 

Is your digestion working properly? Calcium is only absorbed in an acidic environment and so it needs adequate stomach acid for the body to be able to use it. 

 There are two other factors that come in to play in regards to calcium and our ability to use it properly in the body. 

Vitamin K and Vitamin D. 

First let’s look at Vitamin K which has two forms. K1 and K2. This is a very simplified explanation of K1 and K2 as there are more forms of Vitamin K that play very specific roles in the body but for the purposes of this post I am keeping it simple for you all. If you want to learn about these vitamins in greater detail google Chris Masterjohn. He has made a career out of studying fat soluble vitamins. 

Vitamin K2 Health Benefits

It prevents calcium from going in to all the wrong places, as discussed above, like keeping it out of your kidneys where stones can form and the blood vessels where it can contribute or cause heart disease. It also helps get it in to your bones and teeth where your bones will get strong and your teeth will be able to fight off decay.

It helps you make insulin and helps to prevent insulin resistance. Remember this is when your cells turn the insulin carrying glucose away because they have had too much. In this way it helps to keep your blood sugar stable. It also helps you use energy properly making exercise a little easier and protects you from cancer.   

Vitamin K comes in different forms with K1 being the most well known for helping with blood clotting so you want to avoid supplementing with Vitamin K if you are on an anticoagulant. K1 is found mostly in plants and especially in leafy greens and K2 is found most often in animal products. This is a fat soluble vitamin so you might notice that the animal products it is found in are naturally higher in fat so you can use it. This is why I tell my clients and students to eat their veggies with a little bit of fat so they can actually use the vitamins in the plant. 

Vitamin D Health Benefits

This fat soluble vitamin plays a big role in your overall health by impacting around 3000 of your genes. It turns on or off the genes that prevent or make worse diseases such as cancer, high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, MS, gum disease, IBS, colds and flu and many more. 

Much of the population is deficient in Vitamin D, especially those with darker skin and those living in the north. Most of us need about ten times what the Recommended Daily Allowance is (600 IU per day for RDA) and the very best way to get it is by getting sunlight daily or taking a high quality supplement. Be aware though that if you supplement you need to have your levels checked regularly by a doctor because you can take too much. 

Vitamin D helps you absorb calcium and vitamin K2 sends the calcium to your bones, again, keeping it from depositing in the wrong places.  A build up of plaque in the arteries results from a damaged blood vessel having calcium deposited there so that you can remain alive. This is how heart disease begins. A build up of this kind of plaque can result in an eventual heart attack. Remember that sugar and processed foods are what cause the damage to the blood vessels in the first place.  Vitamin K and D work together to protect your blood vessels from this plaque formation. 

If you are taking calcium and vitamin D supplements but are deficient in K, you could be doing more harm than good than if you didn’t take a calcium supplement at all because that calcium is just one part of your overall bone and heart health. 

Bottom line:

  • You may not need a calcium supplement, you are probably getting enough from your diet.

  • You need good digestion.

  • You need to be well hydrated.

  • You need to do some weight bearing exercise like walking or lifting weights.

  • You need those good quality fats in your diet and you need to digest them.

  • You need to optimize your vitamin D intake (and get some sun) and check your blood levels regularly.

  • Get K2 from leafy greens, fermented veggies, or raw milk cheeses

  • Eat a wide and varied diet of real whole foods.

 

Tell me in the comments. Do you take a calcium supplement or a vitamin D supplement? Do you spend time outside getting some sunshine?

 

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. 

Week Six on the Autoimmune Protocol

 

Will I ever stay on the wagon?

I ate some popcorn. With butter. I paid for it too. Slower digestion and immediate almost cystic like acne on my neck. That was it in week six but I am starting to wonder if I am ever going to have a week where I don’t find myself eating something not allowed on the protocol. Gah! 

This diet is no joke. You know what though? I feel really good. My mind is clear, my mood is positive and I have been sleeping really well. The diet is working. I have not had my thyroid lab work done yet to see if my numbers have improved but my symptoms certainly have. I plan to continue on the autoimmune protocol for a few more weeks before the reintroduction of anything while hopefully sticking to the diet strictly. I won’t beat myself up over falling off the wagon though. I simply refuse to treat myself that way. This diet is hard enough as it is. 

I went to the library and checked out Mickey Trescott’s Autoimmune Paleo Book. If you have an autoimmune disease and don’t have this book. You need it! The recipes are for the most part very easy and Mickey has a way of explaining this diet that is comforting to me. That sounds weird but it is true. She is a marvel. She creates wonderful recipes and she puts it together so nicely for you in this book. I have a PDF copy of this book but enjoyed flipping through the pages. 

So it is a new year and a time when people set New Years Resolutions. I never stick to mine no matter what they are. Do you set resolutions?

This time of year you are inundated with weight loss adds every where you go. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that spends a lot of time capitalizing on your New Years Resolution to lose weight. If you have made a resolution to lose weight, stop right there. Don't focus on weight loss, focus on your health instead. Focusing on your health is really what we need to do anyway when we are faced with autoimmune disease. Our choice is to be in pain, or constantly fatigued or whatever your symptoms are or focus on our health. We can be offered bandaids in the form of pain relievers or steroids but those things only mask symptoms. Don’t get me wrong, if you have rheumatoid arthritis, you may need pain medication but by focusing on your health and what you are putting in to your body, you may need less of it. 

Dieting and being healthy are two different things. 

Let me explain. Dieting usually means restricting calories and forcing yourself to work your butt off at a gym. You may see some weight loss and you may feel good for awhile but what happens when life gets in the way? What happens when the diet is over after you have reached your goals? Do you go back to eating pizza on Friday nights and eating out every weekend? Does the weight creep back up and you start to feel terrible. You might even beat yourself up for falling off the wagon. Don't do that anymore. The autoimmune protocol is a diet but it is not dieting. It is helping you figure out which foods are causing you problems. It is the only reliable way to figure this out. 

Americans spend over $33 billion dollars each year on weight loss products and programs, yet obesity is on the rise and we are gaining weight faster than ever. 

Around 80% of American girls have been on a diet by the time they are 10 years old. What kind of message does that send? At any given time 45 million Americans are on some type of diet. 

When you focus on your health, you begin to look at things a little differently. When you nourish your body instead of just feeding it your body responds and if weight loss (fat loss really) is your goal, you start to see a difference in how your clothes fit, how much energy you have and even in the choices you make naturally as to what you will put in your body. 

How do you focus on your health instead of dieting?  A diet in the true sense of the word is what you feed your body not something you restrict. For permanent results you need to transform your food lifestyle. You just have to look at food differently. 

Making gradual changes to your eating habits is a sure way to ensure success. Some people can’t dive right in to something as strict as the autoimmune protocol especially if they have been eating the Standard American Diet. Start making changes in your foods by eliminating the worst offenders in your kitchen first like the sugary snacks, boxed meals, frozen dinners and soft drinks. Start reading food labels and ingredient lists. You will be amazed how much soy is in processed foods. Pay attention to the quality of your food. Where did it come from? Was it made in a factory? For autoimmune sufferers, food quality is really important but if you can’t afford to buy all organic, that is okay. Start with these changes and go from there. 

Eating "health" foods that you don't like or that taste terrible will mean you are less likely to continue to eat it. Nutrient dense whole foods are plentiful, you are bound to find something you like. I saw someone post something about how the only way to heal an autoimmune disease is by including organ meats and especially liver in to your diet. I am not all that thrilled about eating liver plain or mixed in to something else. I am not there yet. It may be impeding my healing and for now I am okay with that. Not going to feel guilty and not going to force myself to eat something that frankly gives me the gag reflex. 

Focus on eating whole foods and less processed foods. We have become accustomed to convenience foods. There is no doubt about that. Work on shopping the perimeter of the grocery store rather than the center. Whole foods are in the produce and meat departments for the most part, then the dairy department. The internet is full of recipes using whole foods rather than processed foods. You can make your own cream of mushroom soup for your hot dish rather than buy if from a can(read that label and see if it resembles the real ingredients of cream of mushroom soup which would be mushrooms, cream or whole milk, broth and spices). It only takes about ten minutes. 

When you learn to eat a whole foods diet rather than go on a diet, you are nourishing your body and your body will respond most positively. You will lose weight, you will sleep better and you will feel better too. It is unrealistic to expect yourself to be perfect all of the time. Having a healthy food lifestyle is about making sure the majority of your diet is nutrient dense. We all want to enjoy a treat here and there and you should be able to. Treats are just that. A treat. Dessert was not meant to be eaten after every meal as it was when I was growing up. 

Give yourself permission to enjoy your food (and your treats) and to let go of any guilt you may have with treating yourself. The stress from that is actually more harmful to your health than the treat itself. 

If you are just not ready to make a change to your diet here are a few things you can do to kick start 2016: 

    •    Drink enough water. Everyone generally needs half their body weight in ounces each day. Being low on water will mean you get tired easier, you will have difficulty regulating your body temperature, your joints may be stiff in the morning too. 

    •    Manage your stress levels. Meditation is a great way to manage stress. Think it isn't for you? I encourage you to read 10% Happier by ABC News anchor Dan Harris or listen to my podcast episode on meditation linked above. Support your adrenals by drinking less coffee and eating less sugar. You can learn how to do that in my RESTART® class which runs every five weeks locally here in Anoka, MN but can be done one on one by Skype or telephone. Regular acupuncture treatments can also help with stress. 

    •    Exercise. I hate exercising. Always have. I like to walk and I like yoga though and those are exercise enough for me. Remind yourself that exercise doesn't have to mean you kill yourself at the gym. Do something you enjoy. I once tried to be a runner for about a year. I hated every minute of it. You don't have to do something you don't like to do!

Throw your New Years Resolutions out the door and just start doing something you love! That will do more for your health than any restrictions you put on yourself anyway. 

Not sure where to start? Send me a note and let me know your conundrum. I will give you some tips! 

Happy New Year!

In good health, 

Stephanie

Week Two on The Autoimmune Protocol

This second week went well except for the trip to Revival Minneapolis where my husband and I shared a whole gluten free fried chicken. We brought the leftovers home and both enjoyed it a second time. I had no adverse external reactions. No sleep disturbances, no rashes. That was good. I ate a lot of salads with home made dressing. My salads have consisted of lots of lettuce. This week it is romaine, escarole and baby arugula. I top it with whatever meat is on hand, olives, onions, avocado, and shredded carrots or beets if I have them prepped. Two salads a day is where I am at now for most meals and because I struggle to eat enough I try to roast sweet potato slices and eat those at least once a day. If not sweet potato then some kind of squash. 

Being so restricted makes it difficult to be social. It makes “date night” a little challenging and frankly, it really sucks. It is a challenge even at the places that make it convenient to eat healthy out. What restaurant doesn’t use both salt and pepper when they prepare a dish? I don’t go out to eat often with my husband but when we do, we go somewhere that is somewhat accommodating to my dietary needs. I do try to think positively about how this is allowing my body to heal by calming the inflammation that has been wreaking havoc on my life for so many years but we all need to vent occasionally. 

I have seen people talking about all the prep involved in the autoimmune protocol. There is a lot of prep for sure and it is hard to do when you don’t feel good or your joints hurt. Who wants to chop veggies when your joints hurt?  For me, the problem is energy. Not having enough energy makes prepping all day quite a task. But, I have seen for myself the changes that just a month on this protocol can make. I did quite well for eight weeks prior to starting over last week and about six weeks in had more energy than I had had in a long time. 

All foods consumed on this protocol are recommended to be the highest quality you can afford. I happen to have access to local farmers who practice organic farming and treat their animals well so I buy my meat in bulk. If you cannot afford to do that or buy your meat from a local food cooperative you can shop where you can afford it. Eating any real food is better than not eating it! If you are buying meat from a regular grocery store you can trim the fat from what ever cuts of meat you buy or buy leaner cuts. Toxins are stored in the fat of animals and humans so trimming the fat will help give you a “cleaner” meat. Also eating a variety of meats (and veggies) is best practice. But again, do the best with what you have. Any changes you make from the Standard American Diet to a real whole foods diet will make you feel better. 

Red meat does have saturated fat but if you go back and read my post on fats, you will understand how that fat is not necessarily bad. Red meat is a great protein source and contains all the essential amino acids needed by your body. It has some great minerals and vitamins as well. You can find iron, zinc, selenium, copper, the B vitamins and your fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Pretty nutrient dense and really sounds pretty good for you, right?  The obvious red meat is beef but most wild game is considered red meat and stores are carrying some bison and pork is considered red meat! 

Let’s talk a bit about organ meats. This is also called offal and was once a staple in our diets. The organ meats are the most nutrient dense parts of the animals. While I am not totally on board with eating this option yet, I encourage you to give it a try if you think you can do it. For me, it is a texture thing and a mind over matter thing. Offal not only includes the organs but it includes things like tongue, cheek, fat, blood and marrow. You get the most nutrient dense bang for your nutrient deficient buck with these. They are the best way to get all the vitamins and minerals needed to heal autoimmune disease. I have the tongue and heart of the cow I buy ground in to the burger meat that I get so I don’t know it’s there. So far, I have made jerky treats for my dogs out of the liver I have gotten but I am working on making it in to little frozen liver pills that I can swallow without tasting or chewing. Someday…..  You can also buy liver pills from Vital Proteins. They have dehydrated it and packaged it nice and neat for you. 

Poultry is another category of meat and leaves you with many choices if you are a hunter or know someone willing to share their wild game. Of course you have chicken and turkey but you also have duck, goose, grouse, pheasant, quail and a few others. There is a vast difference between the taste of pheasant and duck. Not all poultry is the same. Wild turkey is mostly dark meat compared to a conventional or farm raised turkey. Find what you like and go with it. Again, buying the highest quality you can afford. 

I don’t personally like fish or shellfish at all. Not in any form. There are many types of fish and shellfish that you can eat. I would encourage you to go with wild caught vs. farmed fish. Keep in mind when buying fish too that the higher up on the food chain it is, the higher the chance for contaminants like mercury. 

If you are buying meat in bulk (even if you are not) you can make lots of delicious bone broth by cooking the bones. This can be used in soups or you can just drink it from a mug. It is really healing because it will contain all the minerals from the bones and you need and will be rich in glycine which is an important amino acid for many functions in the body. 

The Real World Paleo podcast has done an episode on shopping locally. You can listen to that to find out how to source your best quality meats. 

I typically eat a 4 oz portion of meat for lunch and dinner (sometimes breakfast too depending on the morning) and top that off with a large size portion of veggies and a bit of starch. When you first embark on the autoimmune protocol you can take it slow. You may find yourself eating a very bland diet until you get to a point where you start to feel better and then you can experiment a bit with your food choices. 

Use this opportunity to look at this from a positive standpoint by thinking about all the things you CAN have instead of all the things you can’t. I get it believe me, especially when your family isn’t AIP with you. It is tough to smell the popcorn popping that everyone else is eating while watching a movie and you there just sitting there with your bag of plantain chips! Hang in there. It is not forever. 

Next week we can talk about all the veggies you get to eat and why that is so important to your healing. 

In Health, 

Stephanie

Instant Pot Beef Roast

This Instant Pot is so much better than a slow cooker. I have mentioned on my podcast how my family begs me not to use a slow cooker to cook anything. I think for me, it might be best to use it for bone broth and maybe to keep some things warm. The instant pot, however has made me 2 for 2 with cooking dinner for my family. 

Yesterday I pulled a roast out of the freezer with the intention of cooking it in the Instant Pot. It was still mostly frozen when I got to getting it ready to cook but was thawed enough that I could cut it in to 4 even sized pieces. 

I turned the Instant Pot on to Sauté and browned all four sides of all four pieces of meat. I removed the meat, then added some leftover turkey broth to deglaze the pan. I added the meat back to the broth and then used the Meat/Stew function to cook the meat for 25 minutes under pressure. The meat cooked for 25 minutes and then was on Warm for about 20 minutes because I forgot about it. I then added in about a pound of potatoes (not AIP, my family ate them) and some carrots from our garden. No seasoning at all was added because I forgot. You could certainly add spices of your choice at the beginning but we just salted (and peppered) after the fact. I set the Manual setting to 10 minutes and the carrots and potatoes were perfectly cooked. 

So, this was our dinner last night, served with steamed cauliflower and a side of roasted sweet potatoes for me. 

Beef Roast

  • 1 two to three pound beef roast (ideally thawed but frozen will work)
  • 1 pound of potatoes of your choice, cut in to 2-3 inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound carrots, cut in to 2-3 inch chunks
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups broth of choice
  • Seasoning of choice such as salt and pepper, oregano, thyme and bay leaf
  • 1-2 T arrowroot mixed with cold water or broth

Cut the roast in to even sized chunks so it fits in to the bottom of the Instant Pot. Season roast and turn on the Sauté function. Sauté all sides of each piece of meat, set aside. Deglaze the bottom of the pot with the broth and then add back the meat. 

Close the lid and turn on the Meat/Stew function adjusting the time to about 25-35 minutes depending if your meat is frozen or not. (mine was frozen and really did cook for about 45 minutes total not including the veggie cooking time). 

Release the pressure if you haven’t forgotten you started cooking something like I did and add the veggies. Set the cooker to Manual and adjust the time for 10 minutes. 

When your 10 minutes are up, you can release the steam and remove the meat and veggies from the pot. Set the cooker to Sauté again and mix the arrowroot with the cold water or broth. Whisk it in to the liquid in the pot to make a gravy and serve along side the roast and veggies. 

Enjoy! 

In Health, 

Stephanie

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?

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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

 

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO's)

With the bill that passed in the House of Representatives to keep states from being able to mandate labeling of GMO’s I thought I would give you some information about what GMO’s are and why you might want to be aware of them in your diet.  

There is a great lobby for GMO’s and much community activisim against GMO’s. Those fighting for our right to know what is in our food are doing so with a tiny budget and a lot of science to back them up. The GMO lobbyists and the pro GMO movement have billions of dollars backing them. Not a fair fight but one worth fighting in my opinion.   Many lobbyists spend all their time online defending GMO’s and attacking critics of GMO’s. 

There is a group of scientists who have published online, for free, a document said to be in terms the average person could understand but I have to be honest, there is still a lot of science that is quite complicated, at least for me.  The 300 plus page document is called GMO Myths and Truths and had over 120,000 downloads a few weeks after it was published. Much of what you will read in this post comes from that document. It is fully referenced with real, peer reviewed science. Some of what is in there comes from other documents that are not peer reviewed science. Just because some info is not in peer reviewed journals doesn’t make it false information.  For example, studies on pesticides within that industry are not for public viewing. There is no way for you to know that pesticides used today are safe for you. You have to rely on the regulating body who decides that they are or are not safe.  

For those believing that the no to GMO information is one sided because it doesn’t show the other side I would caution you to take a deeper look in to the studies being done. According to GMO Myths and Truths, “The world of GMO studies is not what it seems at first glance. For example, a list of several hundred studies that were claimed to show GMO safety turned out to show nothing of the sort on closer examination. It is padded with articles irrelevant to GMO safety and contains many papers that provide evidence for harm.”

What exactly is a GMO or Genetically Modified Organism?

As defined by the World Health Organization, “organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally”. What that means is the genes or genetic material of an organism are altered in a lab where new DNA is inserted or some of the existing DNA is changed. This, in turn, re programs the cells so they make a new protein or change the way the existing protein works. This makes new traits in the genes that would not naturally be there. Some of the changes made are transferring genes from related or unrelated organisms, changing the information in a gene, moving, deleting or multiplying genes, combining parts of existing genes or making new ones. Genetically modified genes change the characteristics of an organism. 

Every living thing has DNA in every one of its cells. It is what our genes are made of. They are the instructions that keep all living things working properly. DNA stores all kinds of information that gives you the type of nose you have, makes you how tall you are and decides what color eyes you have and many more things. Each gene is laid out a certain way like code on a computer. Some genes produce RNA (ribonucleic acid) copies of themselves rather than put a code on a protein. RNA is needed for many cellular processes and can control how much of a protein is made from a certain kind of gene. The science behind how DNA works and why it works the way it does is not fully understood. The way the genes are set up in your DNA are set up that way for a reason. Your body has an amazing innate intelligence and just does so many things on a biological and physiological level and they all happen for a reason. Messing around with the way those genes are organized can disturb many gene systems and how they function having consequences further down the line that we don’t even know about yet. Also, because we are all bio individuals, there is no way to predict how manipulation of genes will affect you vs. how it will affect me. 

The process of genetically engineering an organism is not an exact science. All genes interact with one another and their environment. It can change a whole genome or the way the genes function in ways they didn’t expect. This can result in toxins or allergens or a changed nutritional value and there can be changes in how the environment responds (super weeds anyone?). 

GMO’s are not an extension of natural plant breeding. In one breath the GMO industry is claiming that their processes are completely different from natural plant breeding so they can get a patent on their seeds. It is telling us, the public that there is not much difference from natural breeding which makes them safe for consumption.

Here is the problem with this.

Natural breeding can only take place between organisms that are closely related (humans and humans, cats and cats, dogs and dogs, corn with corn but not corn with fish). Genetic modification is made to make a transfer of genes between unrelated organisms. They have even created synthetic DNA and inserted it into a living organisms DNA.  The first generation of Roundup Ready GMO’s contain two species of soil bacteria, a flower and a plant virus. This would not happen in nature.  The fact is that they can transfer genes between species but also between kingdoms. This means they can take genetic material from animals or humans and put them into plants. 

The GM genes are either shot into the DNA of an organism with what is called a gene gun. If they are lucky the DNA in the gene gun gets to the DNA of the organism they are shooting it in to. The process is so random and out of the control of the scientists. They can also be inserted as an infection of cultured cells. There is no way to control where the GM genes will be inserted though. The process in inefficient and costly. 

What does this mean for you?

Maybe you don’t care, maybe you do. I venture to guess that you have some inclination to care about this subject if you have continued reading. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

This is an example of selective breeding in corn. The far left photo is what corn looked like when it was first discovered and what we know as corn today on the far right. 

Know there is a difference between selective breeding and genetically modifying something. Selective breeding is often done in animals to get the more desirable qualities to show up in the next generation. Corn, wheat and rice have been bred over hundreds of years to be bigger and better.  Genetically modifying something changes the DNA as described above. It wasn't or isn't always the best idea to use selective breeding but the difference is that when something doesn't work out during selective breeding, the breeder is made aware right away. You cannot selectively breed traits of a cat in to a dog. Mother nature will not allow it. 

In 1998 Michael Pollan did a piece for New York Times Magazine where Philip Angell, Monsanto’s director of corporate communications stated that “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”

Are GMO’s tested for safety?

They were first introduced on the list of foods Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS). According to the authors of GMO Myths and Truths, no GMO’s have even met the criteria that can define a food as GRAS. To be considered GRAS there must be an overwhelming expert agreement that it is safe and the agreement needs to be based on scientific evidence created through scientific procedure. GMO’s don’t meet these requirements yet they are on the list of GRAS foods. 

In the U.S. GMO’s are regulated by the industry that created them. Safety testing is done by the companies who profit from their sale. The lobbyists have gone from stating GMO’s are strictly regulated to saying they are safe so they don’t need to be regulated. There is no long term experimentation or study that has ever been done. The experiment is done on you, the public. This experiment started in the early 1990’s when they were first introduced commercially despite many FDA scientists claiming they should be tested and proven safe before being introduced. The administration in the FDA at the time admitted they were following an agenda to encourage the growth of the biotech industry. They ignored the scientists working for them and put GMO's out in to the market with no testing or labeling. The regulation of GMO’s is relied upon by information provided by the developers. Their data is not published in journals or peer reviewed. Basically we are just taking their word for it that GMO’s are safe. 

There is also quite a conflict of interest when it comes to the FDA. There is a man named Michael Taylor who was appointed to the FDA as deputy commissioner of policy. Prior to that he was an attorney for a law firm that represented Monsanto. In 1998 he was given the job of Monsanto’s vice president for public policy and in 2010 he was deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA. He is often given as the example of the kinds of conflict of interest that run rampant through government agencies and big business. I wonder if he is able to keep a non biased opinion about GMO's. 

There is no process within the FDA to determine the safety of GMO’s. None of the GM crops have been determined safe except by the companies developing them. 

GM crops have shown to be of a different composition to a non GM crop even when grown with the same conditions, at the same time and in the same location. GM soy had 27% higher levels of an allergen called trypsin inhibitor (an enzyme that helps your body break down proteins) than the non-GM soy. Canola engineered to have vitamin A as part of its makeup had a reduced level of vitamin E compared to non GMO canola. GM rice had a different structure and texture along with a huge change in nutritional value compared to non GMO rice. A specific GM corn grown was altered so much so that researchers concluded it could cause toxicity to humans and animals. In a study on rats it was found to cause toxicity to the organs. 

Independent research on the safety of GM foods is a process that renders scientists persecuted, losing careers and/or funding for their work. True independent studies would be done by non industry funded scientists. It is difficult for those scientists to get the seeds needed to perform their study and when they have, they have found problems with the GM foods. The seeds are patented which makes it difficult for a truly independent researcher to do a study. If permission is given to do the research the GM company involved usually has to be given the right to block the study from being published. They are being studied at some universities, but not for food safety and there are private agreements between the companies and the universities that only they have access to. So you don’t know what was agreed to be studied and approval of the universities doing the studying is done by the companies granting them permission. The results of their research are given right back to the GM developer.   Many of these university researchers stated it would not be good for their career to show any research that negatively reflects the GM crops. 

The Senate is set to vote on whether or not you have the right to know what is in your food. Go ahead and contact your senator if you feel so inclined. 

Some of the best ways to keep most GMO’s out of your diet is to eat real whole foods and preferable organic. Support local growers and farmers when you can. Even if they take away our right to know you can keep much of it out of your diet this way.  The problem with GMO’s is we don’t know for sure how they will affect us as a population in the long term.

How do you feel about GMO's? Please tell me in the comments below. 

 

Five Benefits of Eating Locally for Your Body and the Earth

Eating locally is not a new concept but has gained popularity in the last five years or so. We used to eat locally- it is just how we used to do things. We ate at home, around the table, with our family. We ate what we grew in our garden and on our land. 

Today eating local and sustainable is becoming a movement of sorts.

  1. Eating from locally grown food sources often means food has more flavor and is more nutrient dense. Along with nutrients, flavor peaks at harvest. When food is ripened in the field it has more flavor and better texture. It also doesn’t have to be treated with preservatives to keep it from spoiling. Nutrient loss begins the moment food is harvested. Broccoli begins to lose its cancer fighting properties within 24 hours of being picked. Much of foods medicinal properties were lost when we stopped eating locally. When your produce is picked at peak ripeness vs. being picked early and shipped across the country, you benefit from getting your food sooner. 
  2. Eating locally means eating seasonally too. Doing this adds variety to your diet because you eat what is available.  Processed foods make up 70% of the average Americans Diet. The world has over 50,000 edible plants and 3 of those (corn, rice and wheat) make up 60% of the worlds consumption. Building a meal around foods just harvested connects us to the calendar and to each other We are reminded of simple things like fresh watermelon at the end of summer or slicing a fresh juicy tomato. 
  3. When you buy from local farmers you are supporting the local economy. Large scale farms only receive $.20 for every $1.00 you spend. Local farmers receive 100% of the value of their product which they can reinvest in the local economy.  It is often cheaper for you to purchase from your local farmer especially when you consider you are getting a more nutrient dense product. 
  4. You support a cleaner environment. By keeping farms in your community you support green space in the community. Commercial or factory farms use harsh chemicals that damage the microbiome of the soil and depletes nutrients that would otherwise go into your food.  For example, almost everyone is deficient in magnesium because most of the soil is deficient in it as well. Local farms often practice sustainability and care for the land they use so it remains healthy.  They often use little to no chemicals on their crops, they compost, have a smaller carbon footprint and use little to no packaging.  Scientific studies have proven the nutrient density of produce to be higher when grown on land using sustainable practices. Industrial or factory farming pollutes the air, our surface groundwater and the communities in which they reside. Factory farms also degrade the quality of the soil. Today, because of the way we farm the topsoil is only about 8 inches deep when it used to be around 18 inches deep. For every bushel of corn harvested we lose two bushels of topsoil.  Confined farm animals generate more than 450 million tons of waste per year which is 3 times the amount that humans generate. The anti-biotics given to factory farmed animals (factory farms are the number one consumer of anti biotics) enter the environment through the ground water and through the meat of the animals as well. The manure from the factory farms causes high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen to go in to the water supply, hurting aquatic life. 
  5. You promote a safer food supply. The average commute for produce in the grocery store is 1500 miles before it reaches your plate. Buying fresh from the store often means it is harvested before it is at its nutritional peak (meaning before it is ready). The more steps between you and your food source, the greater chance of some kind of contamination happening.  Buying from a local farmer means you get to know who is growing your food. You can ask them questions about their practices as well. Usually they are happy to talk with you. 

Local does not always equal sustainability. There is no regulation in using the term local. Dont’ be afraid to ask about the farms production practices. Most family farmers will gladly tell you what they do. Check out this website or this website for more information on eating locally.  We ate at a restaurant tonight that sources all of their food locally when possible. I had a strawberry salad with greens grown in the restaurants back yard and locally grown strawberries. What a treat! Tell me in the comments below what are your favorite locally grown foods?

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

What do GERD or Reflux Have to do With Not Making Enough Stomach Acid?

In my last post I talked about how people with thyroid problems have trouble extracting nutrients from their food.  Do you ever feel full when you wake up in the morning? Do you have GERD or reflux?  

Often times GERD and reflux are blamed for your body making too much stomach acid. The truth is that it is probably happening because you aren’t making enough. Same goes if you still feel full in the morning. It may be because you have not fully digested your dinner from the night before. 

There is no denying that stomach acid is the culprit in GERD and reflux (even heartburn) because even the smallest amount of stomach acid in the wrong place will cause damage.  You may even find relief from products that neutralize or stop production of stomach acid altogether. The problem probably isn’t stomach acid but the valve at the opening of the stomach (and at the end of the esophagus). The job of this valve is to allow food to enter the stomach and to open when you need to burp or vomit. That is it.  Often the problem with GERD and reflux can be that this valve is not working properly. 

If you are taking a drug to suppress or neutralize your stomach acid, you are then creating a cascade effect of issues all through your digestive system. Acid reducers are really just a band aid to the problem and don’t get at the root cause. Acid is in the stomach because it is supposed to be there. Your stomach is set up to be a great acid making machine. 

There are many reasons for your body to not make enough stomach acid. It is quite common in people with thyroid problems especially hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s.  When you are deficient in stomach acid (Hydrochloric Acid or HCl) you simply don’t have the proper chemicals to break down your proteins in to amino acids or to break down your vitamins and minerals so they can be used throughout the body. 

If you don't have enough stomach acid to digest a meal you have eaten then your next meal will force that partially digested meal in to the upper part of your small intestines where the acidity of it is supposed to trigger pancreatic enzymes to be released to further the digestive process. This doesn’t happen because you didn’t have enough stomach acid which means you have undigested particles of food going through your intestines with the possibility of those particles being released in to the blood stream where your immune system will produce antibodies and launch an attack. This is when autoimmunity occurs. 

When you don’t have enough stomach acid, not only are you not extracting the nutrients from your food which include amino acids from proteins, minerals and vitamins like B12 and folate but you are causing inflammation in the gut. B12 is important for nerve activity and how well your brain functions.  

Having the right amount of stomach acid is one of the first lines of defense your body has against pathogens, bacteria and fungus. If those things, along with your food are not digested or broken down properly you can end up with and overgrowth of bacteria which causes inflammation. Those undigested proteins also cause inflammation in the gut increasing your body’s stress response. 

Not having enough stomach acid to digest what goes in can lead to a whole host of problems including but not limited to allergies, depression, skin issues, gallstones, certain autoimmune diseases, osteoporosis and aging more quickly.  It is possible if you have reflux that it is due to a food intolerance such as non celiac gluten sensitivity or even dairy- it is bio individual. You will have to do some experimenting to figure out what foods could be causing it. 

How do you know if you are making enough stomach acid?

If you have any of the conditions mentioned you most probably don’t make enough. One way to know is to take some Betaine HCl with a meal containing protein. You take a few bites of your meal, chew really well and then take a Betaine HCl. Take another bite or two of food and then take another Betaine HCl. You continue to do that until you feel a burning sensation. Once you feel the burning you know you have taken one too many so your dose would be less one. For example. If you feel the burn at 4 Betaine HCl then your dose for a meal would be three. 

If you need more than six Betaine I would take caution. You may want to keep your dose to no more than three or four and work on the following: 

  1. Sit down to eat your meal. 
  2. Take time to be grateful for your meal and anything else you wish.
  3. Chew each bite thoroughly (20-30 times). 
  4. Put your fork down between bites
  5. Drink water with lemon or a pinch of salt with your meal and don’t drink more than 4 ounces with your meal.
  6. Take digestive bitters about 15-20 minutes before your meal. Urban Moonshine is a good brand. 

Most of all, enjoy your food. It is there to provide you nourishment!

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

 

Five things you need to know when you have Hypothyroidism

Having hypothryoidism can lead to nutrient deficiencies.  When you are hypothyroid, your metabolism is slowed down. Your digestion is slowed down and so is nutrient extraction and absorption. This means your body can't get what it needs from the food you are eating. Having a hypothryroid can be frustrating but it doesn't have to take over your life. Below are some very important things to know about living with a hypothyroid and what you can do to live optimally, whatever that is for you. 

1. That cold weather (or even a breeze) that makes you feel really cold is due to less thyroid hormone getting where it needs to. This also means hormones can’t be processed properly and other things are affected, like how well a cut heals.

2. You probably don’t make enough stomach acid to digest your food properly which means you are not getting the nutrients needed to thrive. Don’t have much energy? Maybe you are not digesting your meals. This leads to a whole host of issues including intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Lack of stomach acid (HCl) also means proteins are not being digested along with iron, zinc and B12. One symptom of low stomach acid is HEARTBURN. Don’t feel like eating when you get up in the morning? Could be you have not digested your evening meal yet. 

3. You probably have stressed Adrenals. Adrenal fatigue is when your adrenals, located just above your kidneys, work overtime most of the time and end up leaving you dizzy when you stand up quickly, with lower than normal blood pressure or require the use of sunglasses when you go outside. They are just plain worn out. 

4. Your liver might not be working properly. If your liver can't do all the things it is supposed to, you may not be making enough bile or adequate bile to digest fats. Fats like the essential fatty acids in fish oils are important for managing inflammation in the body. 

5. You are more likely to have Celiac Disease than the average person and most assuredly, if not Celiac Disease, you are probably gluten intolerant. You are more likely to be unable to tolerate dairy products, eggs and soy as well. 

Here is what you can do about it.

1. Make sure you have found a doctor or naturopath who will test you for not only TSH but Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, TPO Antibodies and Thryoglobulin Antibodies. It is not only important that they test you for those but that they know how to interpret the results. 

2. Get food intolerance testing or use and elimination diet to figure out what foods are negatively affecting you. The best way to find out what foods are not working for you (causing inflammation) is to do an elimination diet.  If you have signed up for my newsletter you will be set with 4 weeks of meals and recipes to get you off to a good start in lowering inflammation and figuring out which foods are your kryptonite. 

3. Have your Vitamin D levels checked and monitored. 

4. Support your adrenals with things like a pinch of sea salt in your water, adrenal adaptogens (you really should be in the care of practitioner before taking any supplementation), and managing your blood sugar (like cutting out sugar completely for a time period to give your body systems a break). Another great way to support your adrenals is to manage your stress. 

5. Be checked for infections with a stool test or be tested to see if you have developed antibodies to any virus or parasite. 

6. Do a simple test with Hydrochloric Acid to see how much stomach acid you need to take with each meal. OR you can take digestive bitters, apple cider vinegar or lemon juice before meals (although you might need more than that to get you started). 

7. You could be lacking in certain nutrients that are needed for your thyroid to function properly. According to Izabella Wentz, The thyroid pharmacist, it is very common for people to be deficient in Selenium, iron, vitamins A & E, B vitamins and a few others. You may require supplementation but again I would work with a practitioner before supplementing yourself. 

8. Have your Ferritin levels checked. You need ferritin to transport T3 to the cells. If you are losing your hair even with stable thyroid levels, it could be that you are low in ferritin. 

9. Take a high quality probiotic and eat fermented foods every day. If you have ever been on antibiotics you probably have an imbalance of bacteria in your gut and taking probiotics can help. Eating fermented foods is a much cheaper and fun way to get your probiotics in. Things like sauerkraut and homemade yogurt are great sources of fermented foods. 

It is very important, as I stated before that you don’t put yourself on a supplementation program but that you consult a health practitioner first. When you take the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire through me we will be able to determine just where your body needs the most support.  The information provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. I do not diagnose or treat disease but help you find balance so your body can find balance too. Sometimes it is about meeting you where you are at. Baby steps.

Feel free to contact me with any questions. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. I just sent another Breakfast Hash recipe only for my subscribers. 

In Health, 

Stephanie