How do you get rid of Candida?

Are Christmas Cookies Your Gateway Drug?

The other day I heard a radio show host say that she was never doing a cookie exchange again.  She said she had too many cookies and they were just a gateway drug for her. One led to another.  This time of year we tend to throw caution to the wind and indulge in the sweets which can make us crave more and more and more. 

Christmas cookies or the sugar in them, particularly, are definitely my gateway drug.  I so loved hearing someone on the radio say that because its exactly how I feel. I end up walking around the house after eating some sugar, looking for a fix like an addict. I am opening cupboards and standing there, staring at the lack of treats in my house. There is nothing there for me to get my fix. 

What if that fix you need is less about willpower and more about a beast within you that is causing you to crave it. That beast is affecting your mood and even your overall health. This beast has a name. It is called Candida Albicans. 

Candida is a pathogenic or opportunistic yeast that is quite common and can overgrow in the intestines. We all have candida albicans within our gut. That is not the problem. The problem is when it overgrows. When other “normal” bacteria are killed off by antibiotics, this yeast can rapidly increase and create an imbalance with the beneficial bacteria within our gut. This can cause problems with the skin in the form of rashes or even yeast infections. 

Long term infestation of candida in anyone with a weakened or compromised immune system as in the case of someone with an autoimmune disease can result in an overgrowth of the yeast. It can then morph in to a form of fungus and grow roots that set up shop in your intestinal tract.  When candida sets up shop like this within the body it gets to work making all kinds of toxic byproducts, some as toxic as nail polish remover, to be absorbed in to the blood stream. Now, the body naturally makes toxins through metabolic processes which the liver cleans up so they can be eliminated. The liver naturally has a ton of work to do for you each day so candida calls for overtime and sometimes the liver just can’t keep up. If your liver can’t keep up your body will create antibodies to the Candida creating system wide problems and you start to see symptoms like described below.

In addition to the liver playing a huge role in processing the toxins that candida creates, your spleen gets involved if you have intestinal permeability. The spleens job is to get rid of pathogens, viruses and bacteria, things that make us sick. It is now having to work extra hard too.  

 

What are the symptoms of Candida overgrowth?

  • recurrent skin fungus infections or nail problems

  • headaches, brain fog, fatigue

  • cystitis or prostatitis

  • mood swings, depression or confusion

  • PMS

  • recurrent herpes

  • joint pain

  • intense cravings for sweets, bread or alcohol

  • indigestion or reactions/sensitivities to foods

 

Of course, Candida overgrowth is more common in women than men and can affect our hormone balance which can lead to abnormal and painful periods. If you have had a c-section, both baby and mother are at risk for it. These cravings for sweets can be driven by the yeast because that is what they feed off of. 

How do you know if you are likely to have a Candida overgrowth?

 

The following are factors that play a role in Candida overgrowing in the body: 

 

  • frequent long term use of antibiotics

  • being on the birth control pill

  • too much alcohol or caffeine

  • recurrent yeast infections or prostate problems

  • regular use of drugs containing cortisone

  • chronic stress, chronic fatigue

  • sensitivity and or exposure to molds, damp places or certain smells

  • depression, mood swings or confusion

  • intense sugar cravings that feel bigger than you

  • recurrent ringworm, athletes foot, jock itch or nail problems

Untreated candida can take over in the gut creating inflammation throughout the body. These cravings listed are sometimes totally out of our control because something inside us is wanting those things to stay alive and grow. This overgrowth creates system wide inflammation which is why see the symptoms and factors that play a role in the overgrowth. Our bodies are innately intelligent with all the mechanisms needed to keep us healthy but sometimes whether through diet and lifestyle or necessary medical treatment we knock things out of balance. This is when the pathogens like candida can take that opportunity to thrive. 

It is crucial to create the proper balance of bacteria within the small intestine and the colon for good health. Without it, we are not digesting our food well and we are not making B vitamins or vitamin K. The intestinal bacteria play a role in the final stages of digesting protein and milk products. Without this healthy balance of bacteria we end up with poor digestion, an unhealthy or damaged gut lining (where nutrients get absorbed) and possibility for food allergies to develop. Your energy levels drop, your metabolism isn’t working like it should, your thyroid slows down and you end up with adrenal fatigue. You have to look at the whole picture. When one thing is out of whack within us, it affects the whole of us. 

Bacteria is the oldest living organism at around 10 trillion years old which is very much a part of us. They play a crucial role in keeping our immune system working properly so we can thrive. The U.S. went through a “kill all bacteria” phase with the use of bacteria killing soaps and hand sanitizer and bleaching surfaces in schools. Women and doctors are scheduling c-sections for convenience. At some point bottle feeding our children was promoted heavily so there is a whole generation of kids who were not breastfed. Vaginal births and breastfeeding is where babies get to build their immune system. 

How do you treat candida overgrowth?

1. Don’t allow them to thrive and multiply.

Candida needs sugar to thrive. It feeds off of fermentation. Cancer feeds on the fermentation of sugar as well. Clearing up an issue like candida can also reduce your risk of cancer. So the first thing you need to do is not to feed it any sugar.  Candida live on mostly simple sugars like processed refined foods, yeasts and fermented foods, fruits, juices, dried fruit, alcohol, cheese, vinegar, breads or other yeasted or fermented products like soy sauce. 

What you can include in your diet is vegetables, meat, fish, soaked and sprouted whole grains, nuts, seeds and the occasional egg. Yogurt with beneficial bacteria if you tolerate dairy products would be fine too with homemade being best of course so you can control the ingredients. You need to make sure you are absolutely not eating any sugar at all. You are also going to have to avoid anything that is fermented. 

2. Supplement with anti-fungals and address the whole body. 

You will want to heal your gut and repopulate it with good bacteria. You need to make sure you are making adequate stomach acid and that all of your detoxification pathways are working properly with elimination being one of them. 

If you have candida, you are inflamed. Your gut is inflamed too. When then gut is inflamed you may not digest your food well allowing it to ferment and feed the yeast. You may need to supplement with stomach acid (Betaine HCl) or digestive enzymes. 

Nystatin is often prescribed by doctors and it will kill the yeast. The problem with Nystatin is that the yeast or bacteria can become resistant to it, so you can’t just take a prescription and think you are going to get rid of it. The good thing about it though is that your body doesn’t absorb nystatin, it just goes in there and kills off the yeast.  

While the yeast are being killed off you can run in to symptoms of die off such as headache, fatigue, flu like symptoms or worsening of already existing symptoms. Enemas can be very helpful every few days or a colonic every couple of weeks. 

Natural remedies that help to kill yeast or keep it from growing are caprylic acid, fresh garlic, or extract of garlic, oregano oil and herbs like pau d’arco or taheebo. You can also use things like food grade Diatomaceous Earth which will go in there and act like little razor blades to the candida and won’t harm the body at all. You can follow that up with bentonite clay and drink lots of water and both soluble and insoluble fibers so you can get all the toxins out of the body. 

3. Restore or repopulate the gut. 

Here we are restoring the good bacteria in the gut. Lactobacillus Acidophilus is the main bacteria used to repopulate the colon but it is wise to mix up the kind or strains of bacteria you use to ensure good gut health. Acidophilus DDS-1 has been shown to have an anti-biotic effect on pathogens in the colon and inhibit the growth of candida albicans and helps restore the bacteria that produce B vitamins. DDS-1 and other bacteria are beneficial in other ways too such as having an anti-viral effect helping reduce the severity and incidence of cold sores, canker sores and herpes outbreaks. 

When you have an overgrowth of yeast, they take nutrients from you, ferment the foods you have eating and cause gas and bloating. Adding probiotics will help to reduce these symptoms. 

One thing you have to remember is that digestion is one of the main foundations of our health. It that is not working properly, nothing else is going to work either. Taking supplemental digestive support will allow for the proper breakdown of foods to amino acids, essential fatty acids and you will be able to absorb and assimilate the minerals and vitamins within your food. This will aid the healing process allowing you to feel your very best and become quite clear about your health. 

Getting rid of candida takes patience, time and diligence. The protocol can last several months depending on how severe your candida is. In the end you will find you have more energy, bloating will disappear and you will feel so very good. 

Does Being on The Autoimmune Protocol Suck?

Autoimmune disease comes in all different forms. I have been on the autoimmune protocol for about 11 months.  I spent a whole year before going on it contemplating whether or not I should do it.

It is daunting. Overwhelming. A. Lot. Of. Work. All that cooking. I got used to it. 

I had questions. What will I be able to eat? Will I be able to go out to eat? Will I be able to have any fun? What will a social situation look like? I adapted. 

I have had such a love for food my whole life. It was my friend when there was no one else. It was love. It was comfort. It was my everything. It was the way I showed love or that I cared about someone. I cooked for them. I baked. I loved to bake. Bread, cake, cookies, brownies, muffins, more bread, more cake. What my kids didn’t eat I did. I love sweet things. I love chocolate. I loved sugar. None of this is allowed on the autoimmune protocol. So, you bet, I took a long damn time to decide to do this knowing what I would have to further cut from my diet. We can be positive and say, “Look at all the good stuff you CAN have.” Well. You can have a lot of stuff. Lots of vegetables. Veggies up the wazoo. You can have beef heart! And Liver! Yum! Do you hear the sarcasm? When 39 years of your life is consuming the Standard American Diet (SAD), this feels like kind of a big deal. Especially if you have emotional ties to food. 

I know I am supposed to be eating those nutrient dense offal things. I am not because I can’t get past the idea of what it is. The texture even. Gah! No thanks. 

When I did this. I was all in with what needed to be restricted. But I was not adding in any offal. So I didn’t and you know what? I still felt really good. My thyroid numbers got better. Then, as I started to feel better I added some foods back in. Not in the “proper” way but in a way that worked for me which was like this: You put pepper on that meat? Okay. Let’s see if I have a reaction to it…. No reaction. Okay. Pepper seems to work.  

One day in August I made plantain brownies with carob. The recipe called for 2 eggs. I ate half the pan in about 12 hours and had a major reaction but it wasn’t how I expected. Not even 12 hours in to eating those brownies did I become so irritable that I could not even stand myself. I couldn’t believe it. I was raging. My poor kids. So, no eggs for me. I reinforced that idea when I mistakenly ate some gluten free crackers that had egg yolks (no wonder they were so good) as a snack before bed and the next day became increasingly irritable. That really bums me out. I liked eggs. I know that I dot’ want to live life in a state of constant rage though so I am willing to cut them out. I am not happy about it. Don’t get me wrong. I am actually a little pissed. I have a pity party every so often and do the whole “why me?” thing but then I let it go. The more I do that the worse it gets. 

Now it is 11 months in and I have let some things slip. I have a vegan gluten free bread every so often and some Mary’s Gone Crackers crackers on occasion. They don’t seem to wreck my digestion and if I don’t eat them every day it seems to be fine. 

I have decided that if I am so restrictive with my diet, I am unhappy. I do my very best most of the time and on occasion I do enjoy something off the protocol and I don’t feel bad for it. I still always eat gluten free but occasionally have some dairy. Dairy and I don’t get along so if I have it, it is usually just a tiny bit. Like a lick of ice cream or a dab of butter. I definitely feel better when I stick closer to the protocol. I have not reintroduced peppers or eggplant but have done well with some of the nightshade spices like chili powder. I am not so sure on tomatoes though. I have to do a "real" reintro to know for sure. That would mean just eating tomato instead of adding tomato in to a recipe and wondering if that is what has caused the issue. I'm not very diligent about doing a proper reintro of a food. I let life get in the way. 

The real killer for me is sugar. I am addicted and I have intense cravings which are related to a yeast overgrowth which I am working on killing off. Too much sugar has resulted in me having to deal with psoriasis and this last go round with it gave me two new patches to deal with. Needless to say I got really mad when these popped up. I first got mad at myself for eating stuff I know is bad for me and then I got mad that I just can’t be normal. That is the most frustrating part for me. I just want to be like every one else sometimes and I can’t. When I look back on my life though it seems like I never have been able to be like every one else. When I try to be I find Idon’t feel like myself. So I have come to realize that my path is to take the road less traveled and see what I find. For me that is this new life of stress management, sleeping when I need to and eating so that I don’t continue to stay sick. Being well means different things for different people and my mission is to help you figure out what well means for you. 

What do you do that makes you feel good?

Why is Sugar So BAD For Us?

I have been doing a sugar detox with my RESTART students. It has been nine months since my last detox which went off with out a hitch. This time around it feels like it is taking forever to get over with and it has only been a week. I am also on the Autoimmune protocol which eliminates the nightshade veggies and nuts and seeds so I don’t have my good old stash of nuts to fall back on. I was already pretty well sugar free except for a treat here and there and my fair share of fruits. 

Grapes are in season and boy are they ever good (and sugary!). I miss grapes. I miss lasagna. I was at my daughters high school sports banquet last night and they served lasagna. It smelled so good and seemed so comforting. 

Comfort food. I miss comfort food. I brought a salad. I had a salad for lunch and veggies and meat for breakfast. Plus a protein shake because I am f’ing hungry all the time even with eating a lot of fat every day. At least one avocado plus 1/4 to half a can of full fat coconut milk.  

Clearly I am not eating enough. That has been an issue for me for a few months. With my thyroid not being optimal right now, that leaves me with less energy to do some good prep work to ensure I don’t run out of good things to eat. I keep forgetting to take meat out of the freezer and end up eating a salad. It could be worse I tell myself. It always could be worse. 

Sugar is everywhere and it is in everything.

It takes some diligence to keep it out of your diet and off of your mind. The holidays are coming up and that means holiday parties and treats galore. It is a good time to be mindful of the affects sugar can have on our bodies. 

The problem I seem to have and maybe you too if you suffer from thyroid problems is that even carbohydrates are an issue for me. I was virtually sugar free except for fruits and starches like I mentioned before and those also cause your body to release insulin just like plain old sugar does. The refined sugars like candy or sweets cause a bigger release in insulin than do the complex carbs in veggies which cause a much slower release of insulin. 

What happens when insulin is released? It triggers tryptophan (an amino acid) which further leads to serotonin (an neurotransmitter) to be released. This here is your pain killer, stress reliever and booster of moods. Your body gets the signal that life is great, for a short while. 

Don’t forget about all the positive reinforcement you get from sweets all throughout your life. Celebrations like birthdays or holidays. Don’t forget about all those incentives we received as kids for being good. I was just witness to it in the coffee shop I am working from today. I overheard a mom say to her toddler, “If you eat some of your sandwich, I will get you some candy.”

So you get that high from your sugar or your candy and that lasts for maybe a half an hour.  Your high is now a low making you feel really tired, maybe cranky and possibly blue (maybe green too if you ate too much candy). Your body tells you to fuel it again. Give it more. Feed the demon. This cycle is on repeat for, well, forever if you let it or until you have a system breakdown.  There are long term effects of eating lots of refined carbs and sugar over your life. 

You get nothing nutritionally from it. No vitamins, minerals or macronutrients. Nothing. It does, however, negatively affect your cells and how well they function.  Our kids are consuming more than ten times the amount of sugar they did in 1915 much of which is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is the largest source of our calorie intake in the United States. It is a by-product of the corn industry. It is extracted from the corn stalk, chemically changed and processed at a high heat. It is also cheap to produce which makes food industry profits all that much higher. 

What is so bad about high fructose corn syrup?

The fructose and glucose are unbound which means your body doesn’t have to break it down. It gets absorbed in your liver and is converted to fat. The fructose in your HFCS drink, candy or sweet treat messes with your hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body you are hungry and leptin is the hormone that tells you that you are full. The suppression of ghrelin leads to miscommunication with leptin so you can keep eating the stuff which can lead you down the road of insulin resistance. 

Insulin resistance is when your cells are closing their doors to the glucose being delivered to them by insulin. This causes your pancreas to release even more insulin to get the glucose to your cells. It is a vicious cycle. Once your pancreas wears out (because it can and it will) you will then have diabetes. 

What are you supposed to do to break the sugar habit/addiction?

I have been struggling with this for years. What has kept me accountable this time around is doing a detox such as the RESTART detox in a group. I don’t want to let them down. That right there is more powerful for me than anything else. 

In this program you are avoiding all sweeteners for three weeks. High fructose corn syrup, white sugar, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. By the end we are talking about how to enjoy a treat here and there without the sugar taking over our life again. 

 

Moderation. That is the goal. 

 

Below is a list of sweeteners I would recommend in moderation

  • Honey- raw and organic is full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes beneficial to health. Insulin isn’t released as quickly compared to table sugar. 
  • Maple syrup- this is basically boiled tree sap. 
  • Molasses- a by-product of the sugar industry. It is where all the vitamins and minerals that were in what is now white sugar remain. 
  • Coconut sugar- again, boiled liquids from the coconut. 
  • Date sugar- dried and ground dates

I don’t recommend you go hog wild with any of these sweeteners but if you want to make a treat for a special occasion, these are your better choices. These are less refined than others and are best choices in the world of sweeteners. Choosing the least refined options are best. 

You can find a RESTART class near you by going here

In Health, 

Stephanie

 

 

Blood Sugar, Thyroid and How They Relate

I have loved sugar my whole life. Who hasn’t really. I grew up having dessert after every dinner we had. We had a steady rotation of chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake (lovingly called crazy cake), apple, cherry and blueberry crisp (made from canned fruit). Standard fare in the 80’s. I became addicted to sugar at a very young age and still struggle with it well in to my 40’s. I don’t very often eat sugar anymore mostly because my body just doesn’t tolerate it. I have come a long way. 

Thyroid problems and blood sugar are connected. It seems out of balance blood sugar can really mess things up. 

Here is why. 

Every part of your body needs glucose (sugar) for energy to be made in your cells. No glucose means lower energy levels in general. 

When blood sugar is low, your thyroid won’t have the energy it needs and may be sluggish. 

When blood sugar gets too hight, over time you can run in to something called insulin resistance which is common in thyroid patients. 

Anytime you eat a lot of refined carbohydrates like pasta, breads, sweets and processed foods in general they are converted to glucose in your body. They provide a quick source of energy. They also cause your blood sugar to go up quickly. Blood sugar means the amount of glucose floating through your blood stream. Glucose and sugar are pretty much the same thing. Then your body says, “There is too much sugar in the blood stream, that can damage us.” So it releases the hormone insulin to carry that sugar to the cells for use. When your cells stop taking in the sugar, that is called resistance. What your body doesn’t realize is that the cells are full. They can’t take on any more sugar. There is no mechanism within the body to tell the brain to stop producing insulin. Al it knows is that there is all this sugar in the blood and it has to do something so it keeps pumping out the insulin. 

You end up with too much sugar and too much insulin in the blood. some of that will be stored as fat. Before it is stored as fat it goes around damaging your blood vessels and your organs, including the thyroid. This is called inflammation. 

When you have too much sugar in the blood and too much insulin trying to get the sugar to the cells and the cells refusing to take it in you end up with insulin resistance which is a stepping stone to type 2 diabetes. Your cells cannot get the energy they need because they are resisting letting the glucose in for use as energy. This means your thyroid cells don’t have energy either. Then your thyroid cannot work effectively for you so you will have elevated TSH because your brain thinks it needs to be stimulated. 

When tissues in the body get inflamed, they cannot do their job. That includes the thyroid. 

When they thyroid is inflamed you will have less production of thyroid hormone and like stated above, a higher production of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone or TSH. Increased production of TSH means further damage to your cells perpetuating the vicious cycle of insulin resistance. 

When T4 and T3 are not working well, you are also not able to maintain your blood sugar levels. The more out of control your blood sugar gets, the less your thyroid will function properly. 

What is the solution?

If out of balance blood sugar is the reason your thyroid isn’t working well then the main thing you have to do is to maintain stable and healthy levels of blood sugar. You may want to go to the doctor and have your blood sugar tested.  Blood sugar imbalances might not be your main problem when it comes to your thyroid problems but the following information can benefit everyone. 

  • Get enough sleep and get quality sleep. If you don’t get quality sleep there is no time for your body to repair itself. Other hormones like cortisol will be screwed up contributing further to your insulin resistance. 
  • Get some exercise. You don’t have to work yourself to death at the gym 3 days a week. Just get moving to start with. It is hard to get up and get moving when you don’t have the energy, especially if you are hypothyroid. Believe me, I get it. Just do something even on the days when it is hard to get the laundry done. You have to start somewhere because staying on the couch is easy and getting better from thyroid problems isn’t always easy. Movement allows your muscles to use up some of the glucose in your blood so there is less floating around waiting to get in to your cells. 
  • Get a standing desk to work at or for at home. The less sitting you do, the better. A treadmill desk would be ideal. (I don’t have one but sure would like to- they are not always in the budget!)
  • Manage your stress. This is a big one. Your body cannot tell the difference between physical stress, emotional stress and even a fight you are having with someone in your head. Biologically, your body responds the same. If your body is constantly dealing with stress then your pituitary (part of your brain) gland is too busy too deal with the thyroid properly and it gets put on the back burner. When you are stressed, your cortisol levels shoot up. Your body then creates glucose from your lean muscle and puts that out in to your blood stream causing insulin levels to rise, your cells become further resistant to the glucose and then the glucose gets stored as fat. You got it. Your body takes energy from the muscles, converts it to sugar, your body cannot use it so it stores it as fat. Chronic stress will cause your thyroid to slow down and cortisol keeps T4 from doing its job. 
  • Eat some protein in the morning within two hours of waking. That will give your body something to convert to energy right away. 
  • Avoid snacking if you can or change your snacks to quality fat and protein if you are not ready to give them up. Here is why you should give them up- Regular snacking keeps the insulin pumping all day long. Your pancreas never gets a break, your cells continue to resist the glucose that insulin has brought them. Every single time you eat, insulin gets secreted in to the blood. Protein, fats and complex carbohydrates like vegetables cause that spike in insulin to be just a little less. Giving your body a break will give it time to burn some stored fat. 

What helps keep your blood sugar balanced?

  • The obvious answer here is to change your diet. Cut out sugar, processed foods and refined carbs. Join a RESTART class which is a five week class to help you learn about how food affects your body and includes a three week sugar detox. 
  • Chromium (polynictinate) has the job of helping glucose get in to the cell. It helps restore insulin sensitivity or allow insulin to drop glucose at your cells so your cells can take them in. You can supplement with it to help your body deal with your blood sugar.  
  • Take magnesium. Most people are deficient. It helps with many processes in the body and in managing blood sugar its job is to help chromium do its job. Try magnesium citrate if tolerated or magnesium glycinate. 
  • Stay away from artificial sweeteners, always. Some people think it is okay to use stevia either the green powder or in liquid form. Give it a try and see how it works for you. I personally am not a fan. 
  • I would encourage you to avoid all sweeteners for at least 3 weeks like in the RESTART sugar detox to give your body time to reset and learn how to burn fat for energy. 

There are many more things you could do here to manage your blood sugar but these are the big ones. Getting your blood sugar under control is a sure way to give your thyroid some tender loving care that it needs to function properly for you. 

Tell me in the comments below how much of a struggle you have had with blood sugar. 

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

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

 

Boosting Immunity Through the Winter

This time of year can be rough on our bodies. We are spending, shopping, partying and eating a lot. This can be stressful and tax our immune system. The following is a pretty simple list of things to do that will help you take care of your body so it can take care of you. 

 

Eat a nutrient dense diet 

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Eating a nutrient dense whole foods diet is key to health and healthy immunity. You must also have adequate stomach acid to digest the food you are eating (including parasites, viruses and bacteria). Cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, green or red leaf lettuce and cabbage help your liver flush toxins. This makes for a healthy environment for the immune cells there.

Shitake and oyster mushrooms are a great immunity booster and they don't lose their health giving properties when you cook them. Add them to soups or stir fry.

Oregano Oil will improve gut health and boost the immune system by eliminating pathogenic bacteria that can overtake the digestive system.

Avocados support your adrenal glands which are key to many functions in the body.

Ginger root warms the body and helps break down toxins especially in the lungs and sinuses. Ayurvedic medicine believes it helps to cleanse the lymphatic system.

 

Staying hydrated is important too!

All major protective surfaces on and in your body are moist. Your eyes, nose, mouth, lungs, stomach and intestines all use mucus to form a protective layer which helps keep bacteria and viruses out. If you are dehydrated, so are these protective areas and the pathogens have a way in.

Drink plenty of filtered water to which you can add Celtic Sea Salt and some lemon. The salt will support your adrenal glands and the lemon will support your digestion.  Your immune system is quite dependent on the movement of fluids.

While the Holidays seem to encompass much over indulgence in things like sugar and alcohol it is best to keep the consumption of both to a minimum. Too much of either will suppress your immune system. Over consuming both might make for a little weight gain too!

 

Manage Your Stress

This one is huge! Your susceptibility to illness of all kinds waxes and wanes based on diet, fatigue and, you guessed it, STRESS.  As I said before, your adrenal glands do so many things in the body and they play an important role in managing your immune system.

These great little glands regulate your white blood cells which are the major players in protecting us against pathogens (viruses and  bacteria).

Having consistently high blood sugar reduces white blood cell activity and depresses the immune system in general. This means your body has to make a decision to save your life in the moment by balancing blood sugar or fighting an infection. So, you get sick. Darn Christmas cookies!

Wash Your Hands

Along with keeping your hands clean with regular soap you can sanitize your phone, computer screen, keyboard, door knobs, appliance handles and light switches regularly. Also, think about all those public surfaces. Don't forget the bottom of your purse if you carry one! Think of all the places THAT sits!

Exercise, Sun, Sleep

Getting some light exercise like walking at your lunch break or taking a stroll after dinner with your partner and/or kids is a great way to get the lymph moving in your body. Keeping lymph flowing keeps pathogens from making their home there.

Expose yourself to some winter sunshine when possible and sleep 7-8 hours each night as much as possible. That is when your body resets.

Herbs and Bugs

Taking herbs like Siberian Ginseng root, Asian Ginseng root and American Ginseng will help boost your immune system to fight off the “bad” guys.  

Taking probiotics of the highest quality can give a boost to the good guys in your gut fighting for your health. If you are not one for supplements or pills you can eat homemade sauerkraut with each meal or other fermented foods. 

So, enjoy the holidays and remember to take some time to care for yourself! You deserve it!