Food Allergies and Environmental Toxins May Be Causing Your Autoimmune Inflammation + Day 9 Menu Plan
I did not add food allergies into my original set of principles. Mostly because I believe that before you address this, you need to clean up your existing diet. These changes are meant to be lifelong, not a fad. In order to do so, and remain committed, it is important to take baby steps.
For many of you, the principles I have listed are things that you have already started to do. It is time, then, for you to take the next steps.
Food Allergies are Real and May Be Causing Your Autoimmune Inflammation
There are many skeptics of food allergies. I do agree than many of them have been over dramatized. Not everyone who has a disease is Gluten and Dairy Sensitive! But food allergies are REAL! Even though you do not have food allergies in the sense of anaphylaxis, you can still have different immune reactions to the food we eat.
These immune reactions, if constant, produce in an increased or hyper immune inflammatory response. Food allergies are associated more so with autoimmune based inflammatory conditions because of this hyper stimulation of the immune system.
There are many theories as to why our bodies react to certain foods as foreign and stimulate immune functions to attack.
There a couple of different blood tests available to test for food immune responses. If you have an autoimmune disease: Hoshimoto's, Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Celiac's, Asthma, Psoriasis, Addison's Disease, Grave's Disease, etc... I recommend getting food allergy testing.
How Do Food Allergies Cause Autoimmune Disease
Autoimmune Disease is, in short, a runaway immune system. The immune system has been stimulated to attack and is in a constant inflammatory cycle. The initial cause of the hyper immune stimulation can be a number of triggers: Allergens, Infections, Toxins, or Stress. In any case, the stimulation is constant. The immune system becomes hyper aware, and begins to response to particles that it would normal not response to, like our own tissues.
What are the Different Immune Responses with Food Allergies
A food allergy is a hyper immune response to the foods that we eat. Most of us think of the immediate anaphylactic reactions associated with peanut allergies. But, many with food allergies DON'T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE THEM, or confuse them with environmental allergies, there are several different immune response pathways that can be activated in food allergies.
Autoimmune Diseases are now the 8th leading cause of death among women. Many of the medications used to treat autoimmune diseases have a laundry list of health problems associated with them. Rarely is diet discussed. Both IgE and IgG responses can be tested.
There are many other tests that you can and should do if you have an autoimmune disease (we will have to do an entire blog series on autoimmune disease I have a feeling).
Environmental Toxins; Another Cause of Inflammation
Our bodies are constantly bombarded with environmental toxins. From the pesticide used in growing our food. Hormones and antibiotics in our meat. Heavy metals and chemicals in our water system. Even preservatives and plastics in our packaged foods. All of these have an impact on our body.
Pesticides and Inflammation:
The studies on pesticide exposure and disease is limited, but there have been connection found.
Pesticides are foreign. Our body's are not accustom to these chemicals. Constant exposure could cause the body to react to these chemicals as an invader. If the exposure is constant, the immune reaction could become worse. Causing a hyper immune response that then become sensitive to other cells, attacking them and causing inflammation and damage.
Environmental Hormones and Inflammation:
Endocrine mimickers and disruptors are all around us, even in our foods. Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that change our body's natural hormone production.
Any imbalance in the body's natural hormonal functions can lead to increases in inflammatory hormones, decreases in regulatory hormones, excessive weight gain, insulin resistance, hypothyroid disease, etc...
Constant Low-Grade Antibiotic Use is Destroying our Gut Flora and Increasing Autoimmune Inflammation:
We've talked about how important our digestive flora (bacteria) is for our overall immune and inflammatory reactions, as well as the availability of nutrients. The constant use of antibacterial soaps, cleaners, and antibiotics in the meat we eat are slowing killing our probiotics. Many studies link this constant barrage with an increase in autoimmune inflammation and allergies.
Chemicals in our Water Deplete our Bodies of Essential Nutrients and Increase Inflammation:
Fluoride and Chlorine are common additives in our water system. To some extent they serve a purpose. We are huge communities and our water is contaminated with bacteria and other foreign contaminants. But the use is high, and these chemicals can cause a depletion in vitamins and minerals. Specifically Vitamin E.
Fluoride is found in most water systems in the US, as well as toothpaste. It is added to prevent tooth decay. This is actually quite controversial, and more evidence points to it having NO effect on the prevention of dental cavities. Fluoride is toxic in high amounts.
Chlorine in the water system is used to clean out the bacteria, and other contaminents in the water system. It does serve a purpose, to keep us from getting life threatening reactions. But there are some risks.
Preservatives in our Packaged Goods Aggravate and Cause Inflammatory Reactions:
Many of the chemicals used in our food supply are essential plastics (BPA, Pthalates, etc…) These are all endocrine disruptors, and mess with our nature hormonal balance, regulation and production.
Other chemicals are used as preservatives, to keep our food fresher longer. You are paying for the longer shelf life. Some of these preservatives are endocrine disruptors too. Other still, directly increase inflammatory responses and disrupt our immune system.
Carrageenan is found in just about everything. From Almond milk, to granola bars, to salad dressings…seriously look for this. Even organic and so called healthy foods use Carrageenan.
Carrageenan is used as a thickener, and is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed. You would like to think that because it is extracted from a seaweed source, it should be safe. This is, again, why I feel that extracting things from their natural sources is a bad idea. Isolating compounds removes them from other compounds that can help to reduce and balance their effects, good and bad.
The list of preservatives go on and on. I though I should highlight Carrageenan because I see it in everything, and especially in natural and organic products. For a full list of preservatives and their reactions within the body, click here.
A short list of food additives to avoid:
Artificial and Natural Flavors
Partially and Fully Hydrogenated Oils
Sodium based preservatives (Benzoates, Nitrates, Nitrites)
Breakfast #9: Bananas with Coconut Milk, Cinnamon and Hemp Seeds; Hard Boiled Eggs
This is a perfect example of keeping it simple. Breakfast doesn't have to be elaborate, or fancy. Hard boiled eggs are great to have around and are easy to slice and eat. This banana bowl takes 2 minutes to make.
A couple of random nutritional facts on the popular banana.
Pick bananas that are midway ripened for the best of both worlds.
For Banana Bowl
1 Banana, sliced
1/4 cup Coconut Milk
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Hemp Seeds (or other seed/nut)
Lunch #9: Homemade Protein Box; Apple Cinnamon Vitamin Water
Many coffee shops and restaurants have protein boxes that you can get…my problem with these is that they are often still full of sugars and simple carbohydrates. Peanut butters with added sugar, high protein breads, pretzels, etc…not what you are really needing in a protein box. I like to make my own (using my kids lunch box..shhhhhhh…I should probably get my own bento box).
For Protein Box
Dinner #9: Mini Meatloaf; Mashed Sweet Potatoes; Strawberry, Walnut, Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing
My family LOVES my meatloaf. It is packed with a bunch of veggies, and not bread crumbs (yes it can be done). During the week, I usually do not have time to cook an meatloaf in the oven for an hour or longer before we eat. My trick, make them mini! Make mini meatloaves in a muffin tin. They cook in no time, and are individually sized.
Mina's Favorite Meatloaf
In a bowl mix Ground Meat, Spinach, Carrots, Onion, Eggs, Garlic, and season with Salt and Pepper. In a loaf pan or cupcake pan, add meat mixture.
In a separate bowl, mix Tomato Paste, Dijon, Vinegar and Italian Seasoning. Evenly coat meatloaves.
Cook at 350 until bubbly, 20 minutes for minis, or 1 hour+ for loaf.
Super Simple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
1 pound Sweet Potatoes, diced
1/2 tsp salt
3 TBSP Grass-Fed Butter
In a pot add diced potatoes and salt, cover with water and boil until the potatoes are soft. Drain. In the same pot, add the butter, and with a masher or fork, mash the sweet potatoes and butter together. Done!
Sweet Potatoes are sweet on there own. If you do not find them sweet, you are addictive to and have a strong sugar tolerance. You should be able to eat a sweet potato without added sugar and think it is sweet enough.
I have talked about fat soluble vitamins many times in previous posts. Please take a look at these, as there is information in them that I will not repeat here.
Kids Lunchbox - Importance of Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat Soluble Vitamins and the Epidemic of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
Today we will take this and build, looking deeper into their specific role in pain and inflammatory conditions.
What are Fat Soluble Vitamins
Vitamins are divided into two categories; water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water soluble vitamins are those that only need water to be absorbed into the body. Fat soluble vitamins need to be bound with a fat to be absorbed. These vitamins need to be consumed daily.
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and excess is secreted through the urine. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fats and tissues of the body. These vitamins do not need to be consumed daily, if there is adequate amounts consumed at other times. The body will store excess for times of deficiency.
The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K.
These vitamins are important for many of our organ and endocrine functions
Vitamin A, a Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory
There are really two dietary forms of Vitamin A. Carotenoids found in plants and Retinol found in animal products.
The Vitamin A found in animal products is already connected to a fat source. The quality of the fat source depends on the quality of the meat consumed (remember the differences we've talked about between conventional and grass-fed/pasture raised).
Carotenoids include Beta-Carotene. To be used in the body, it must be converted to Retinol Vitamin A. To be used in the body, beta-carotene must be converted into Retinol. Vitamin A is a strong antioxidant.
Retinol has many more functions in the body than Beta-carotene alone.
Vitamin A deficiency is again becoming a common diagnosis. This can only be due to poor dietary choices, especially in children. There is a genetic mutation that can limit the body's ability to convert beta-carotene into retinol vitamin A. If a fat soluble vitamin deficiency is suspected, get a genetic test done (like 23&me).
Vitamin D, a Hormone that Plays Many Role in the Body
Did you know that Vitamin D is technically not a vitamins, it's a hormone. In our body. Just like our reproductive hormones, Vitamin D is made from Cholesterol. Without enough good cholesterol in our diet, our reproductive hormones do not work right.
Vitamin D is converted in our body, as well as consumed in the diet. To make Vitamin D, we need to have Cholesterol in our skin. When the body comes into contact with UVB rays, the cholesterol is converted into Vitamin D. Without sunlight UVB rays, or Cholesterol (good cholesterol) we cannot make Vitamin D. This is controversial. Not that this is how Vitamin D is made, but that this process (when disturbed) is what causes Vitamin D deficiency and skin cancers.
There is a correlation between Vitamin D deficiency and skin cancer. One theory is that it is not, necessarily, the UVB rays (why we wear sunscreen) that is causing cancer, but the last of dietary cholesterol to convert the UVB rays, or the wrong forms of cholesterol that do not convert UVB rays. These rays are not used and become damaging in the body. Or the wrong form of cholesterol is converted into a non natural compound. I find this to be an interesting theory.
Although the influences of Vitamin D on inflammation are being studies, we do know that Vitamin D plays a significant role in the regulation of the hormones of our body.
Vitamin D3 is the form that is made through natural sun exposure. Diary has been known for its "vitamin D Content." But here is another dirty little nutritional secret.
Most conventional dairy is low in Vitamin D, because many cow are not allowed exposure to sunlight. Much milk is "fortified" with Vitamin D because it is lacking due to how the cows are raised and treated. Also, if you are drinking skim milk, you will absorb non of this synthetically added Vitamin D, or even naturally occurring Vitamin D because you have not fat in the milk to absorb it. Another thing, is the that naturally occurring Vitamin D is a form called D3. Most synthetic D fortifications are done with D2 (made from mushrooms). Our body cannot use D2, and it can buildup in our cells (because it is a fat-soluble vitamin) can has been linked to increases in cancer. We need naturally occurring D3. If you are not getting enough GOOD cholesterol in your diet, and are wearing too much sunscreen (as recommend), you are going to be deficiency in Vitamin D3. You can get it in your diet, via quality pasture raise dairy products like Butter.
Vitamin E, a Powerful Antioxidant with Anti Inflammatory Properties
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It is found in many foods with oils that go rancid quickly, like Almonds. Vitamin E has a job, in these nuts, to stabilize the polyunsaturated oils in them. Polyunsaturated oils are very unstable and are quickly destroyed in cooking, or exposure to UV rays. (NOTE: Keep your oils in dark colored bottles, and in the fridge to keep them from going raced faster. Same goes for your raw nuts and seeds. If they smell funny, throw them out, they are rancid.)
Vitamin E's antioxidant properties have been well known in treating skin conditions. Newer research points to a deeper role for Vitamin E, in the regulating immune functions and hormones production, as well as in the inflammation pathways.
Vitamin E deficiency is becoming an all too common condition. There are many things in our environment that attribute to the loss of Vitamin E. here are certain common environmental toxins and lifestyle choices that deplete the body of Vitamin E, and as you'll see, it's not all that common in the diet. Consumption of excess unsaturated oils. Unsaturated fats have to use Vitamin E to prevent oxidation, therefore it pulls it from our tissues. Excessive Estrogen is also a factor in Vitamin E depletion….this would apply to those who are being exposed to high levels of environmental and dietary estrogens, as well as those who have an abnormal production of estrogen causes by hormonal disorders and obesity (our fat cells produce estrogen). Chlorine and Fluoride (found in our tap water) can deplete Vitamin E in our bodies as well. Those who fit into those categories need to consume more.
Vitamin K, the Allusive Vitamin X
Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist in the early 1900's, was an expert in comparative nutrition. He spent much of his life traveling in a time where ancient and primitive civilizations still existed in their natural state. His lives work, was to understand how nutrition affected dental health. What he found was so much bigger. He hypothesized that there was a vitamin, which he called vitamin x, that was missing from the "civilized" and industrialized diet, that was rich in carbohydrates, but was prevalent in the primitive diets. We know now that this Vitamin X is in fact Vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is a fat soluble vitamin that is produce through bacterial fermentation (either in the form of cultured food products, or by our digestive bacteria in our guts), or in cultured dairy products and bone marrow.
It's role in the body is only just starting to be understood, but it's main known function is that of blood clotting (actually done by K1, not K2). K2 on the other hand works throughout the body.
It used to be thought that your body was capable of making all the K2 you needed by converting K1, but this doesn't seem to be the case. K2 needs to be consumed in the diet as well. Just like some other vitamin absorption issues, the convert ion of K1 to K2 is dependent on enzymes and bacteria in the digestive system. (only about 10% of dietary Vitamin K1 will be absorbed into the bloodstream on a good day.) Many of us do not have healthy gut bacteria, and do not convert nutrients well. Others may have genetic mutations that limit their capacity to break down certain vitamins into their useable forms. It is best to consume K2 in the diet via fermented and cultured foods, as well as quality animal products.
Breakfast #8: Plain Grass-Fed Full Fat Yogurt with/CocoNutty Granola and Blueberries; Bulletproof Coffee
What is bulletproof coffee? Only the best coffee creamer you will ever have! Bulletproof coffee is black coffee (any type) and you add Grass-Fed Butter and Coconut Oil to it. I add mine into a tumbler and shake, then pour into my mug to make it creamier. It is a nice way to get some good and healthy fats into your body first thing in the morning. The saturated fat found in Coconut Oil converts to monounsaturated Oleic Acid in the body (same form found in Olive and Avocado). Grass Fed butter is rich in multiple fat soluble vitamins. The two work together to hydrate and nourish your body. Start slow with 1/4 tsp of each.
Lunch #8: Barley Broth Bowl
Two of my favorite kitchen appliances are my crockpot, and my rice cooker. My rice cooker has multiple settings for white rice, brown rice, multiple grains, porridge, etc...) I use it a lot. Last night I added the barley and water and let them soak overnight. Then drained and added the correct amount of water...pressed cook and that was it. When I came home for lunch, I had cooked barley, cooked broth, and a bunch of leftovers I could easy put together to make a broth bowl.
Leftover grilled chicken, leftover beets, leftover sauteed greens, diced avocado, and some parsley.
Dinner #8: Dinner Out - Nepalese; Eggplant Curry, Saag, Tandoori Chicken and Steamed Broccoli
Eating out on any diet can be difficult, especially when you are working towards a health goal. For reducing inflammation and sticking to the plan, remember the basic principles. We went to the Nepalese buffet, which has it's hurdles.
Learning to Love Fats Can Help Heal Inflammatory Damage in Your Body and Rebalance Your Endocrine System + Day 7 Menu Plan
It's time to move away from sugars, and into fats. It's amazing to me how different nutrition is from what I grew up learning and knowing. I was a child of the low-fat movement. I remember my parents buying low-fat and no-fat products. I remember classroom nutrition telling me how eating fats was going to cause heart disease, cancer, etc… OH how the tables have turned. This was a big hiccup in nutritional history, and we are beginning to learn the evil of these ways.
These diets were super high in refined flours, grains and sugars, but low in many nutritional fats. This was also the time when margarine and artificial sweeteners were considered healthier than their nutritionally dense counterparts. From these diets we have seen an incredible spike in degenerative diseases.
Now is the time of fats. The nutritional necessity of fats is only beginning to be understood.
Fats are complicated. Please read up on my previous blog posts on fats:
Differentiating Dietary Fats
In Modern nutrition it is much easier to lump all similar fats into simple categories.
Saturated Fats = Bad
Polyunsaturated Fats = Good
Well, it is not just this simple. There are good AND bad versions in each category. In today's post, we are going to talk about the Benefits of Dietary Fats in regards to balancing and healing inflammation in our body. There is so much more that fats do for us, but for the sake of spending days (which we still will, hehe) on all the great things fats do in our body, we will focus on the benefits in healing inflammation and chronic pain. If you have any questions, as always, you can email me.
The Need For Fats
I already mentioned that fats are an energy source in the body, giving us long lasting cellular energy, but there is so much more that fat is necessary for in the body.
Fats Build Our Cells
Each and every one of our cells is surrounded by a lipid bilayer membrane. A skin of fat, so to speak. This lip bilayer is composed of saturated fats, to give it stability, and polyunsaturated fats to give it flexibility. These fats (saturated and polyunsaturated bound fats) are called phospholipids. This phospholipid Bilayer has many different roles, and is an active part of the cell and our body.
You are what you eat, even at the cellular level. Diets rich in inflammatory Omega 6 (Arachidonic Acid), and Hydrogenated Fatty Acids will have cell membranes that are prone to inflammatory responses. The cell membrane should be made up of healthy Saturated Fats, Cholesterol, and Omega 3 Fatty Acids, all of these have anti inflammatory properties and keep the cells inflammatory responses regulated.
Fat Soluble Vitamins Need Fats to Be Absorbed and Assimilated into the Body
I have talked before about the different fat soluble vitamins, and will do so tomorrow in specific regards to their roles in the inflammation and pain responses.
There are four Fat Soluble Vitamins (A, E, D, and K). Each of these are necessary for regulating inflammation and our hormone responses. Each of these NEED fats in the diet to be properly absorbed and utilized.
Many of the food sources of these Vitamins naturally occur with fats.
Research does show that vegetable based fat-soluble vitamins need fats to be absorbed, example: Human consumption of Beta-Carotene (the plant version of Vitamin A) from raw salads with no dressing, showed an absorption rate of just above 0… Adding a Canola Oil based reduced fat dressing increased the absorption slightly, while the full fat dressing increased absorption significantly.
Saturated fats have been shown to be better at fat soluble vitamin absorption than Poly unsaturated fatty acids, with monounsaturated somewhere in the middle. Another plus to adding Grass Fed Butter!
This applies to supplements as well. If you are on a Vitamin D supplement, you should be taking it with a meal rich in healthy fats.
Fats are the Building Block of the Myelin Sheath of the Nerves and Are Necessary for Brain Health
The function and growth of the Myelin begins in the womb. Comparison studies, on rats, that compare two different diets from pregnancy through weaning (1. rich Omega 3 diet 2. Rich Margarine Diet). There was a significant difference in nerve function from the babies born to diet 1 to those born to diet 2. Those in the Rich Omega 3 Diet showed a significant increase in Myelination proteins. Those in the Margarine Diet were born with birth defects including blindness.
The Myelin Sheath is a waxy coating that surrounds neurons, it is made up of 80% fats, most of which is made up of Essential Fatty Acids. Essential Fatty Acids are those that our body cannot make on its own, and must be consumed in the diet.
When the Myelin is fat deficient or damaged from chronic inflammation, these processed are weakened. Such as in the disease Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Causing dysfunction in pain perception, motor function, memory and cognitive dysfunction.
There are specific diets that have been designed to treat diseases of the myelin sheaths. These diets are extremely high in fat and extremely low in carbohydrate. One of these such diets is the Ketogenic Diet that was designed to treat Seizures and seizure like migraines. It is a very successful diet, that is now being used to treat a variety of cognitive and nerve dysfunctions including depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This diet leans heavily on fats, being made up of 70+% fats. If you are interested in this diet, please seek a profession that is TRAINED in this specific diet. There are some issues that you need to make sure you stay on top of...Mineral deficiencies can happen if you are not follow the diet correctly.
Our Brain Needs Fat
We just talked about the important role in the nerve health, and this is a connection to that. The brains is made up of 60% fat, mostly saturated. There is a world of conditions associated with cognitive function starting in childhood: ADD/ADHA, Migraines, Foggy Brain, Mental Fatigue, etc...
The two main fats necessary for brain health are Cholesterol and Saturated Fats
Cholesterol, a type of dietary fat, is necessary for mental function. Dietary cholesterol has long been the bad guy, and to some extent it still is. It has been blamed for raising blood cholesterol levels and causing heart disease. Much like the idea that fat in your diet will make you fat, cholesterol in diet has long been thought to in increase cholesterol levels. Well, here is another little secret...diets LOW in fats and cholesterol cause bad blood cholesterol levels.
When we consume a meal, our body produces a combination of acids, enzymes, and bile to breakdown the meal. The enzymes and acids help break down the proteins and carbohydrates, the bile breaks down fats. If there is not enough fat in the meal, the excess bile is reabsorbed into the body...as BAD Cholesterol!!! Mind blowing, isn't it.
Dietary cholesterol, on the other hand, has a purpose. One of those purposes is to to regenerate new nerve cells (Neurogenesis). Another is communication between nerve cells.
Saturated Fats, have also been vilified. A study by the Mayo Clinic found that diets higher in Saturated Fats had a decrease in cognitive dysfunction, specifically dementia.
Saturated Fats are the building blocks of the brain. Without adequate amounts of good saturated fats, the brain cannot heal damage.
Fats are the Backbone of our Hormones
When we say hormones, most of us are thinking about our reproductive hormones (Estrogen, Testosterone, Progesterone, etc..). These are made from fat, but they are not the only hormones in the body. Specifically Saturated Fats. Not only do the help to create our hormones, but help to navigate fat soluble vitamins to the organs that produce hormones to help regulate their production.
There is still some mystery out there. Some recent studies showed benefits from a lower carbohydrate higher fat diet on our hormones
Fats are Necessary for Proper Immune Functions
Specifically Polyunsaturated Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fatty acids, are essential and must be consumed in the diet. They are also an important Fat in the regulation of immune inflammation responses, as seen in autoimmune diseases.
Research links higher fat diets with a decrease in autoimmune function. While diets lower in fats, are linked with a hyper responsive immune system. Fats help to regulate the responses of killer T cells.
Fats Help to Lubricate Our Joints
We have talked about how the structure of free floating sugars in the blood cause damage and irritate joints. Dietary fats help to counteract this. Another way it helps is through the health of Synovial Fluid.
Synovial fluid is the lubricant that is produced by cells in all of our joints and at connections of connective tissue. It is the oil in the cogs that keeps our joints working and moving properly. Synovial fluid consists primarily of hyaluronic Acid. Dietary fat is necessary for the digestion and absorption of Hyaluronic Acid in the diet. Most food sources of Hyaluronic acid are found along with fat....animal skin and joints.
Fat is necessary to repair damage to Bone, Cartilage, Muscle and Connective Tissue. Without enough fat, or the wrong types of fat, the healing is slow or the new cells weak. Saturated fats, specifically, are necessary in the assimilation of Calcium into the bones.
Fats Help to Regulate Inflammatory Responses
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA) are the precursors, or the building blocks, of Eicosanoids. Eicosanoids are inflammation promoters and are derived from Arachidonic Acid, an Omega 6 PUFA. In order to balance out this effect, there needs to be enough anti-inflammatory Omega 3 PUFA, specifically EPA, to balance out these effects.
In our Modern Diet we are consuming an excess amount of Omega 6 fatty acids in the form of conventional meat and dairy products. By simply changing the quality of our meat to Pasture and Grass Raised, we dramatically change the structure of the Omega's in the meat. For year the saturated fats in red meat have been blamed for the increased rates of heart disease. The vast amount of Omega 6 in these meats is most likely the cause. When analyzing the composition of fat in clogged arteries, the majority 75+% was Polyunsaturated, not Saturated Fats.
In order to have a normal reactive inflammatory system, we need to have a balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. In most diets, we do not. If you are in a Chronic inflammatory state, you actually need more Omega 3 than you would normally to regulate the inflammatory responses.
Breakfast #7: Wilted Greens and Eggs; Strawberries; Coffee
A Fried Egg with Wilted Greens is an incredibly easy and fast breakfast. If you are pressed for time, there is no reason you cannot make this. It literally take 5 minutes MAX start to finish.
In a skillet, I have a little 1-2 egg personalized skillet that is amazing and I highly recommend getting one, add 1/2 TBSP Grass-Fed Butter, crack in your egg and season with salt and pepper if desired. Top with green of choice (Spinach, Arugula, Chard, Dandelion, just not Kale or other hard to wild greens). Flip egg, and the greens will finish wilting on the skillet side. Put on a plate and enjoy with fruits, avocado, hot sauce, etc...
Lunch #7: Kelp Noodle Bowl
I repurposed some of the leftovers I had into a yummy little asian noodle bowl. I love kimchi, and normally make my own. I have not had time lately and I am out. There is a lovely little Korean couple in town with a small Asian market. They make homemade kimchi and sell it. So, on my way to the office this morning, I swung in and grabbed some. Almost like Grandma's, but nothing is as good as my Grandma's Kimchi!!!! Want her Recipe, Click Here
In my bowl, I layered Kelp Noodles with Leftover Lemongrass Pork, Cucumber, Cabbage, Kim Chi, and these Fermented Black Beans (another yummy Korean snack). I drizzled it all with Toasted Sesame Seed Oil, and some REAL fermented Soy Sauce.
Dinner #7: Herb Grilled Chicken; Roasted Beet and Raw Milk Goat Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing
I completely burnt the chicken tonight. I am ashamed, but life goes on. I would normally eat the skin off this yummy little thigh, but removed the skin as it was too charred. It doesn't taste good, and the charring of meat can actually create some nasty compounds. This is too much for my comfort.
My raw milk, goat chèvre comes from a client. It is amazing!!!
Differentiating Your "Natural" and Alternative Sugar Options; Learning the Art of Moderation + Day 6 Menu Plan
I want to address the number of different natural sugar options out there. Many believe that if it is natural, it is good...but that is not the case. Many also believe that ALL sugar is the enemy...but that, also, is not the case.
As with fats, there are good an bad sweeteners, and there is a difference in quality within these sweeteners.
Honey: Sticky, Sweet, Delicious and Controversial
In general, my go to sweetener is honey. To me, it is the best. But, not just any 'old honey. I ONLY use Raw, Unfiltered Honey.
In it's natural state, honey is a goldmine of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes and this really cool stuff called propolis.
Some research actually supports that raw, unfiltered honey has the opposite effect than it should on blood sugar and inflammation, and the theory is that it is because of the added nutrients and enzymes. ONLY RAW, UNFILTERED HONEY provides these nutrients and phytochemicals. They are destroyed and removed in the pasteurizing and filtering processes.
For Vitamins, Raw, Unfiltered Honey provides Vitamin A, All the B's, C, D, E and K2.
For Minerals, Raw Unfiltered Honey provides Magnesium, Iron, Calcium, Potassium and Iodine.
Raw honey is known for its high antioxidant levels, and research shows increases in blood antioxidant levels but switching only the sugar source in a diet to raw honey. Pinostrobin is one such antioxidant.
Honey is also Antimicrobial and has been shown to kill over 60 bacteria in the digestive system and human body, including MRSA.
There is actually a honey conundrum...you would expect this super rich sugar source to have the oposite effect, which in fact it does when it is pasteurized and refined, removing these compounds that actually HEAL the body.
Propolis, is this really cool stuff that is ONLY found in unfiltered honey. Propolis is the glue that holds the hive and honey combs together. It is full of over 300 active compounds that help to protect the honey from microbial invasion and fungal growth, thus working to preserve the honey....did you know raw, unfiltered honey never goes bad!!! Honey found in Egyptian tombs was still edible. It is the source of all the antibacterial properties of raw, unfiltered honey.
BUT IT HAS TO BE RAW AND UNFILTERED TO HAVE THESE BENEFITS. Commercial honey is pasteurized (heated to a high temperature to kill the enzymes), and filtered to remove "impurities." Also many honey's have been found to actually be flavors Corn Syrup...WHY!?
Remember a little goes a long way. Once you have readjusted your palate for sugar sensitivity, you will notice you don't need much. Just because it does have health benefits, doesn't mean you need to be consuming a cup of honey a day...keep it down.
Maple Syrup; Sweetener of the Americas
Maple syrup was collected and consumed by the Native Americans. The main sugar in Maple Syrup is Sucrose. In American, to be labels pure maple syrup, it only needs to contain 66% Maple sap...In Canada, they take their maple syrup a bit more seriously and it must be 100% maple sap to be called pure maple syrup...oh America and their sneaky food labeling.
I use Maple Syrup from time to time in my meals, but still prefer honey.
Maple Syrup does provide some added nutrition, unlike refined sugars. It is rich in Manganese, Riboflavin, Zinc and Calcium.
Oddly in Maple Syrup, there is an antioxidant that is FORMED during the boiled of the sap to condense into syrup...Qubecol. Quebecol is an antioxidant known to reduce inflammation. Who Knew!
When choosing your Maple Syrup, get the real stuff and look at the different grades. Grade sounds like it should be the best, but B is for Better in this case. Grade A is harvested at the beginning of the season is often lighter in flavor, color and nutrition. As the season goes on the sap gets thicker, darker and richer in nutrition and antioxidants.
Maple Syrup is STILL a dense sugar, so it must be used sparingly. 1/4 cup in your oatmeal is not okay, but 1/2 tsp is just fine.
Stevia, the Zero Calorie Sweetener
I am actually very saddened and torn by all the new stevia concoctions out there. I like stevia, don't get me wrong. I actually grow it in my garden, alongside mint and make mint/stevia bombs with them. (blend stevia leaves and mint leaves together and freeze. Great for adding to drinks).
Commercial stevia is just companies taking a natural and good thing and ruining it, in my opinion. They have chemically extracted the active ingredient, concentrated and isolated it, and marketed it to all those people out there with a strong sweet tooth who are stuck on the idea of artificial sweeteners.
I do not have a problem with people using stevia, but look for the extracts (liquids) and/or Green Stevia powder.
There are two active ingredients in the Stevia plant that cause the sweet flavor, Stevioside and Rebaudioside A. These two compounds are hundreds of times sweeter than sugar.
Most of the studies done on Stevia are done on Stevioside, so really little is known about the effects of Rebaudioside A.
That being said, always look for the purest form, like I mentioned, the extracts and green Stevia. There is no research on the effects the refining process has on the active ingredients, but I would assume it would denature its effects.
Also, Truvia is not stevia...it has stevia in it, but it is a blend of other low calorie sweeteners.
Many of you who are working to manage your blood sugar issues, have probably heard of Xylitol. It is a low calorie sugar alcohol. It is actually found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, including berries.
There are two methods of extracting Xyliol...
1. Hydrogenation of the sugar molecule Xylose, which converts the sugar into an alcohol.
2. Microbial fermentation of the sugars. (sounds much better to me)...which happens in our digestive system and through culturing foods naturally
Xylitol has a glycemic index of 7 and does contain calories.
There are some health benefits associated with Xyliol, but it seems only with the fermented form.
So far there have been no adverse effects associated with sugar alcohols.
Agave Nectar had its lime light, and now it is falling off. With the exception of Pure Fructose extracts, Agave Nectar has the highest levels of Fructose, more so than High Fructose Corn Syrup.
It's claim to fame was as a low glycemic sweetener. But it is a refined and highly processed sugar, just like corn syrup.
I would avoid Agave Nectar. It is too processed for my liking.
Always avoid Artificial Sweeteners. A plethora of research as shown the degenerative effects of these chemicals...
Also, all sugar, even the good stuff needs to be limited. Just because I give you some options, doesn't mean you need to trade out all of your sweetened items with more sweetened items. The goal is to limit your over all intake and make better choices for when you do indulge. You should not be just replacing your sugars with alternatives, but learning to need and use less. Added sugar is not a daily dietary need. It is reserved for special occasions, and light sweetening.
Breakfast #6: Quinoa Breakfast Flakes with Butter, Blueberries and a Smidge of Honey; Black Coffee
These Quinoa Breakfast Flakes are my new favorite hot breakfast cereal. I love the nutty flavor, and they cook up super fast. I added 1/2 tsp of raw, unfiltered honey this morning, and a bunch of blueberries...perfectly sweet!
Lunch #6: Avocado Reuben Lettuce Wrap
I love sauerkraut on my sandwiches. This is a homemade version I made with Juniper Berries.
In this wrap, I layered Avocado, Sauerkraut, Cucumber, Arugula and some homemade Thousand Island Dressing
Homemade Thousand Island Dressing
Dinner #6: Vietnamese Pork Kelp Noodle Bowl
I absolutely love Kelp Noodles. They are a perfect substitute for the many Asian dishes that call for rice noodles, like my Jap Chae recipe. They are made of, well kelp.
In a bowl combine marinade ingredients. Add pork and let sit for 30mins or longer. Heat grill to medium heat. Add pork and allow to cook 2-3 mintues, flip and finishing cooking 5min.
In a jar, add ingredients and shake. Pour over bowls...makes 3 servings
To Assemble Bowls
In a bowl, make a bed of Shredded Romaine Lettuce, top with some Kelp Noodles (no need to cook), arrange top with other cut and shredded vegetables...purple cabbage, cucumber, carrots, cilantro, and add diced pork. Drizzle with sauce and enjoy.
Here is the deal on adding in sweeteners. We use too much, as I have mentioned. These should not be eaten daily. "On occasion" occasion means 1-3 times per week, and in super small doses. Notice the granola I made had 1 TBSP for 5 cups of granola.
Part of the process of removing and reducing sugars in the diet, is having to change your palate for sweets. For many people who are consuming vast amounts of sugars at every meal, in high concentrations, your palate has weakened. Sweet isn't sweet anymore, you need high amounts of refined sugar to taste any presence of sugar. This needs to change.
When you can take a bite out of apple, and say to yourself, "Wow, that's sweet." You are there.
Refined Sugar is Addicting
Most sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets (which are white). From sugar cane there is a natural sap. This sap, or raw sugar cane juice, is actually nutritious, supplying 15% of your daily fiber (which are removed in processing), rich in antioxidant phenols (which are destroyed in the heating process), rich in vitamins and minerals (all removed), it is actually low glycemic in it's raw state. The sugar found in sugar cane is mostly Sucrose. Of the two (sugar cane and sugar beets), sugar cane actually has more nutritional value. Sugar Beets have no really nutrition to right home about. It does have some fiber (not as much as raw sugar cane), and some vitamin c, but is really in antioxidants (compared to it's colorful cousins).
Refined sugar is not the same as sugar found natural in food sources. It has been extracted through a multitude of processes, stripped of any enzyme and nutritional value and then often bleached to make it really white. Even "Raw" sugar is highly processes. They take refined sugar, before bleaching, and add back a percentage of molasses. Sigh! Refined sugar is concentrated, being make up of 99.99% pure sugar. When you take the sugar out of it's natural sources, you are missing out of a multitude of fibers, vitamins, enzymes and antioxidants that help to balance the sugar intake, and provide health benefits. You have made a Drug!
Did you know that refined sugar excites the brain just like Cocaine? Except, Cocaine only excites one region of your brain, and sugar excites multiple regions of your brain. Sugar is addictive. Just like any other drug we see a pattern of addiction in those who consume excess refined sugars; cravings, binges, and withdrawals.
There have been many scientific breakthroughs on how refined sugar excites the brain.
The Effects of Refined Sugar on Dopamine
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is responsible for sending messages between nerve endings. In a certain part of the brain, called the rewards center, dopamine receptors become active when exposed to an excitability toxin, such as Cocaine and Refined Sugar. This area of the brain also lights up when we are happy, or something good happens to us. This is why it is called the reward center. When this section responds to stimuli, it is our body's way of saying, "that made us happy...do it again."
There is still some questions that need to be answered about the Reward Center of the brain. Not all the neurons in this region release dopamine. There are also other neurotransmitters that respond to negative stimuli, such as pain, located in this region. This region should really be labeled the Consequences and Rewards section of the brain, as it is used to remind our bodies of what made us feel good and what made us feel bad.
So how does play into sugar? Sugar or any drug, excites the dopamine receptors. This makes us happy. Every now and again, is not a big deal. Neurons can only produce a certain amount of neurotransmitters at a time. When large amounts of sugar are consumed, there is a huge rush of dopamine. Then a huge drop off because we have depleted the neurons of this neurotransmitter. This is the high and drop of sugar highs. We then feel tired and depressed, which causes us to crave more of the substance that made us so happy. This is the addiction cravings. When we are constantly consuming sugar, and are causing an almost constant stimulation of dopamine receptors, eventually produce less and less dopamine at a time (because there is not time to make much more), causing an increase in sugar cravings and harder swings from happy to depression.
When our levels of Dopamine are weakened, the effects of the negative neurotransmitters are more pronounced. Such as our pain responses.
The Affects of Refined Sugar on Natural Opioids
Opioids are the body's natural pain killers. They are produced in response to pain stimulation in neurons. When you cut yourself, and damage nerves, substance P (pain) is produced. This substance P travels to the brain to signal there is a problem. The brain then produces opioids to make the pain manageable.
Opioids also excite Dopamine. This is also a coping mechanism for times of acute pain.
If there is constant stimulation of the natural opioid pathways, just like dopamine, they being to run out. Causing an increase in pain perception.
Increased sugar intake stimulates the production of natural Opioids in the brain, just like Dopamine. You get a sugar high, literally, from it. Like dopamine, there is only so much natural opioid that can be produced at one time. If there is constant stimuli, then the body's natural ability to cope with pain is diminished, as there is not enough opioid produced to treat the body's pain.
Another effect, is that with constant stimulation of the opioid receptors on the nerves, they become desensitized to opioids. This means you need more opioids to decrease pain perception. We see this same thing in opioid medication and drug use. You need more to get your high. This is the same reaction when you are consuming large amounts of sugar, which stimulates Opioid production. This becomes even more important when you are taking pain medication that works on opioid receptors.
The Effects of Refined Sugar on Acetylcholine Production
Acetylcholine is found, not only in the brain, but also neurons in the muscles. It is a neurotransmitter in the brain that plays an important role is motor function, attention and arousal. It is the cholinergic pathways that are affected in diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. In the muscles it works as a neurotransmitter to send signals between nerves and muscle cells. For example: your brain says to move your right finger. These signals travel to the neuromuscular junctions (where the nerve and muscle fiber come together), and acetylcholine transmits the signal.
Naturally Acetylcholine rises at the end of meal. Glucose in meal increases the production of Aceytlcholine in the brain, stimulating an increase in muscle energy and brain function, when consumed in normal amounts.
When excessive amounts of sugars, particularly glucose, are consumed in a meal there is a hyper excitability of acetylcholine production, just like the other neurotransmitters. Just like other neurotransmitters, over production depletes the amount of acetylcholine that can be produced.
The Effects of Refined Sugar on GABA Production in the Pancreas
GABA is a neurotransmitter protein that works to reduce excitability in the brain, and body. It's the downer of the neurotransmitter bunch. It's job is to keep the effects of Dopamine in check. It's a regulator.
In the Pancreas, GABA is produced in response to Glucose stimulation in the B cells (same cells that produce insulin). In normal sugar amounts, GABA is released to reduce the excitability effects mentioned above. In excess sugar amounts GABA production is decreased (by 40% in one study), allowing an increase in excitability effects. There is a direct correlation between insulin resistance and a decrease in GABA production, but more research needs to be done on this subject.
When GABA is decreased, we see a hyper effects of mental excitability. This can cause the symptoms of depression and fatigue (because the dopamine has by hyper produced and there are big periods of depression while the neurons rebuild their dopamine supplies), but with difficulty sleeping. GABA is responsible for regulating Melatonin activity.
Detoxing from a Sugar Addiction
If you have been on a long term high sugar diet, you are suffering from neurotransmitter imbalances. Symptoms of addiction are:
I am not going to lie. Removing excess sugars from your diet, when you are addicted, is not easy. You will go through withdrawal symptoms. For some of you, your symptoms will be worse for a little before you body begins to adjust to regulating it's own neurotransmitters again.
There is an inverse affect between Acetylcholine and Dopamine in the brain. During drug or sugar withdrawal, there is a hyper production of acetylcholine and a decrease in the production of Dopamine, causing withdrawal symptoms until neurotransmitters are balanced. Symptoms of withdrawal are:
The good news is that these symptoms usually do not last too long. The severity will depend on how much sugar you consume and how often. Once you have cleared your body of the negative neurotransmitter effect of sugar, you are clear to begin healing. But, in order to allow the other dietary guidelines to being healing your chronic inflammation, you must remove this barrier.
Breakfast #5: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Tomatoes
Baked eggs are a nice way to incorporate fat, protein and nutrient dense vegetables first thing in the morning. You can use a variety of different vegetables, fresh or leftover.
Preheat oven to 350.
In a cast iron skillet, heat butter of medium heat. Add spinach and being to wilt, arrange tomatoes on skillet and add cracked eggs. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste. Move to oven and cook until eggs are cooked to medium (or more if desired).
Lunch #5: Tuna Salad Lettuce Wrap
Tuna is a reliable source of Omega 3 fatty acids. On the flip side, it can be high in Mercury, and unsustainably fished..boo! Look for sustainable harvested fish, and keep it to once a week at the most.
1/3 cup Prepared Tuna Salad
4 Lettuce Leaves (Romaine, Red or Green Leaf)
1/2 cup Arugula leaves
4 slices of tomato
Arrange Lettuce leaves to make a bed on butcher paper. Top with Arugula, Tomatoes and Tuna Salad. Roll butcher paper to hold wrap in place. Enjoy
Dinner #5: Cilantro Lime Shrimp and Pineapple Kabobs; Simple Salad
In a bowl add lime juice, avocado oil, salt, garlic and cilantro. Mix thoroughly. Add in shrimp and coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. To assemble skewers, alternate shrimp, pineapple, onion and peppers until all are on skewers. Heat grill to medium-high heat. Cook skewers until shrimp are cooked through and fruits/veggies are slightly charred.
Understanding the Important Role Sugar Plays in Causing and Pertetuating Chronic Inflammatory Conditions + Day 4 Menu Plan
I love sugar just as much as the next person. In the evenings I crave something sweet after dinner, most nights. I have an addiction to Brownies (when I was pregnant, I ate a batch a week, no lie, and I don't recommend this. It was a nutritional low point, I admit it). There are biological, nutritional, emotional and primitive reasons that we crave and need sugar. The problem with the modern diet and sugar is that we are often consuming our sugars in extremely high amounts and from nutritionally poor sources. We consume much more than we need for it's necessary biological roles in the body, we are not active, and this excess sugar becomes a health problem.
More and more research is linking sugar as the the primary cause of degenerative diseases in the body. It promotes excessive weight gain and inflammation. It hyper stimulates the brain, and is more addictive than many illegal drugs.
It is extremely important to find a balance with the normal needs of sugar for cellular energy. This all starts with choosing clean and natural sugar choices, and limiting the amount we consume based on our realistic energy consumption.
In today's post, we are going to dive deep into sugar, the good the bad and the super ugly. My goal is to help you achieve balance, and understand the how sugar affects our bodies. I want you to leave this post with the knowledge to look at your sugar consumption realistically.
What is Sugar, really?
I am often surprise at how many people do not know basic nutrition...the educational system really needs to fix this. So, this is where we are starting, basic.
Sugars are the simplest forms of Carbohydrates. The term sugar is typically used to refer to table sugar (extracted from either sugar cane or beets), but encompasses two groups of carbohydrates called; mono-saccharides and di-saccharides. These saccharides are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and grains, and especially high in starchy fruits and vegetables (starch is several glucose molecules stuck together, which is why starchy foods are broken down into high amounts of blood sugar).
Monosaccharides are (Mono = one) single molecule sugars. These are simple sugars that are extremely easy to digest and absorb. They include Glucose, Fructose and Galactose.
GLUCOSE: (aka Dextrose) is found in many different plants, and is the building block of other sugars and starches.
FRUCTOSE: (aka Fruit Sugar) is converted to Glucose by the Liver. It is found mostly in fruits, but also some vegetables, as well as honey.
GALACTOSE: is a component of Lactose, and is found in dairy products
Disaccharides are (Di = two) multiple molecule sugars. These are more complex and require digestion to break them down into monosaccharides before absorption. These include Sucrose, Lactose, and Maltose.
SUCROSE: (Glucose + Fructose) is table sugar, and is naturally found in fruits and vegetables.
LACTOSE: (Glucose + Galactose) is milk sugar.
MALTOSE: (Glucose + Glucose) is starch, and is naturally found in grains.
The breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugars starts in the mouth with enzymes in the saliva. These simple sugars are absorbed into the blood in the Small Intestines with the help of transport molecules called GLUT's. There are multiple types of GLUT transport molecules. Transport molecules are found in the cell membrane of every cell. They are the doors that opens to allow sugar molecules in and out.
Understanding the Natural Role of Glucose
Glucose is the building block of all complex sugars. It is the most commonly talked about because it is the sugar form that is directly measured in the blood, and is associated with Insulin. Glucose raises blood sugar, which to some extent is a good and normal event.
Here is how glucose is used in normal circumstances (small amounts consumed in a healthy individual).
Our brains need glucose to work properly, and our cells need glucose for energy production. In response to rising blood sugar levels our bodies producing insulin (a hormone) in the Pancreas. Insulin attaches to cells, like a key, to signal the GLUT 4 transport molecules to let Glucose into the cells. Some glucose is used as an energy source for the cells of the intestine and for the red blood cells. Any unused glucose is transported into the fat cells, by insulin, for storage as Glycogen. Doesn't sound too bad, right?
Understanding the Natural Role of Fructose
Fructose intake has been overlooked in previous years because it does not directly effect blood sugar levels. Many with diabetes and blood sugar issues have switched to using fructose based sugars as substitutes, because their blood sugar is less likely to spike. This is a very important sugar.
Like Glucose, Fructose is absorbed through the Small Intestines with the aid of transport molecules. Unlike Glucose, it does not need to be bound with a Sodium molecule to pass through the intestines and into the blood, and Fructose does not need a key (insulin) to be let into muscle and fat cells. Most of the Fructose consumed goes straight to the Liver to be processed. Fructose metabolism, is almost identical to Alcohol metabolism in the Liver.
Only a small amount of Fructose is ever free flowing in the blood and taken in by GLUT 5, but this Fructose is the immediate fuel sources (just like Glucose) for those cells of the Brain, Muscles and other Organ cells. The majority is processed in the Liver via GLUT 2 transport. Fructose is broken down in the Liver into Glucose (which is then transported to fat and muscle cells as energy if needed), Glycogen (which is stored for times when there is not enough dietary sugars), and Glycerols (which are the lipid, or fat, storage for longer energy needs).
This is the body's way of regulated times of high sugar content and times of low sugar content. The body's blood sugar levels need to remain within narrow parameters. The body natural does this with the use of all these different mechanisms. It is normal to use energy immediately and store the remainder for later. But in our society, there is really never a later....
Understanding the Effects of Excess Sugar Intake on Inflammation
The foods we eat and the amounts we eat contribute to stresses on the sugar processing cycles. Our body is quite capable of handling the sugars that are found naturally, and in small doses. In fact we need them...but let's all be honest with ourselves, we are consuming too much sugar, and we are consuming it at every meal.
The average american is consuming 82 grams of sugar daily....wow!!! Some studies show even higher amounts of consumption in children, very sad! Most of this coming from sweetened beverages; sodas, sweet teas, Gatorade, vitamin water, etc...
According to Dr. Mercola:
There are a multitude of effects this is having on our bodies:
Shall I continue....the list goes on and on...and each of these is an entirely different conversation. Today we are discussing the role of excess sugar in inflammation.
Normal amounts of sugar, as we discussed are necessary, we need them. We are consuming too much for our energy needs. Refined sugars, or large amounts of food in one sitting, can throw our bodies into a pro inflammatory spin.
We are aware of the connection between High Blood Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes. Over time, as our body is bombarded with large amounts of glucose, our body's natural ability to regulate the amounts through use and fat storage wear out. If the body's natural glucose needs are met, then the cells store the glucose as fat, and eventually the amount of glucose that is utilized is left free floating in the blood. This free floating sugar is just as dangerous as the stored glucose that is making you fatter. This free floating sugar is irritating. It causing blood vessel damage as it's crystal like structure bounces around. Your body then responses to this blood vessel damage with inflammation.
The Effects Obesity on Inflammation:
We talked, already, about the effects that expanding fat cells have on inflammation responses a bit, but lets go over it again. Our fat cells, adipocytes, are not just storage cells, the are also an important part of our endocrine system, meaning they produce and regulate hormones. Normal fat cells sizes are homeostatic, meaning they produce hormones to help promote health and keep the body balanced. As our fat cells grow and expand to unnatural sizes, they create an imbalance in hormones and promote disease. Of the hormones produced by the adipocytes, Adiponectin, and Leptin have been the most studied thus far.
Adiponectin is part of the glucose metabolism cycle, as well as fatty acid breakdown. As our fat cells grow, there is a constant amount of chronic inflammation from the expanding cells. In response to this chronic inflammation, inflammatory compounds are produced signalling the body to help. These pro inflammatory compounds, which are trying to help heal the damage, decrease the cells ability to produce adiponectin, increasing diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes, Insulin resistance, and arterial fat build up. On the contrary, high levels of Adiponectin are associated with autoimmune based inflammatory conditions, not related to obesity. Why? Adiponectin is an anti-inflammatory in the body. In those with normal fat levels that are not affected by diabetes or insulin resistance. Adiponectin is produced in response to high levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the blood stream.
Leptin is produced by fat cells in response to sugar intake. It is well known for its role in regulating hunger. When the fat cells get enough sugar, they produce Leptin to signal a decrease in hunger. Because sugar is quickly metabolized in the cells, this is short lived and Grehlin in produced to signal an increase in hunger. This is the viscous cycle of high sugar diets and constant hunger. Fat is slower to metabolize in cells, giving long lasting fuel and a slower production of Grehlin (another story, for another day)....back on topic...Leptin also plays a role in immunity, and inflammation. When a meal, or diet is rich in sugars, the fat cells produce high amounts of Leptin.
Refined Sugars and Inflammation:
Several studies have shown a difference in how the body processes refined sugars (sugar extracted from its natural state and concentrated). The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that high amounts of refined sugars causes a release of inflammatory cytokines. Anything in excess is dangerous, even water. When we eat sugar to a point of excess, it becomes toxic. The body then begins to treat the excess sugars as just that, a toxin that needs to be dealt with. This causes an increase in detox compounds, and cytokines. These compounds are doing there job, telling the body there is a threat to be dealt with. When we do not react to this signal, and continue to fill our body with toxic levels, our body is thrown into a chronic inflammatory state. For those already suffering from chronic inflammation, this excess sugar increases this inflammatory reaction.
The Link Between Low Fat High Carbohydrate Diets and Pain Perception:
Studies have shown a correlation between high carbohydrate and low fat diets with an increase in pain perception. As well as large portion sizes. Those who ate larger meals (to the point of stomach distention) had a higher pain perception. There is an even greater connection in those with spinal pain and fibromyalgia.
There is still more research being done on the effects of sugar on inflammation, pain, and degenerative diseases. It's clear that we are consuming WAY too much in our modern diets. I am sure there will be even more connections made in the near future.
Breakfast #4: Grass-Fed Plain Yogurt w/Homemade Granola; Blueberries; Hot Water with Lemon
Part of the process of limiting your caffeine intake is to switch out your regular drinks for other, more healthy options. Hot lemon water is a great way to start your morning. Warm lemon water helps to stimulate the Liver to produce enzymes and compounds that remove toxic buildup.
This is my take on Sarah Wilson's CocoNutty Granola Recipe. While she uses Brown Rice syrup (I am not a fan of it, and I'll talk about that tomorrow, I prefer a small amount of Raw, Unfiltered Honey. For this batch I combined:
Preheat oven to 250
In a bowl combine call ingredients, mix until fully coated. On a baking sheet, make a thin layer. Cook until golden, remove and cool. It will harden. I like to store mine in the fridge.
Lunch #4: Leftover Dijon Pistachio Salmon; Wild Rice; Broccoli
1 bunch Kale, blanched 1 minute
1/8 cup Toasted Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Cucumber, diced
1/2 cup Tomato, diced
1/4 cup Olives
1TBSP Red Onion, minced
To blanch Kale, bring a pot of water to a roaring boil. Drop in chopped Kale. Boil for 1 minute, remove promptly, drain, and cool.
Assemble salad and mix all ingredients together
Makes 3-4 servings
1/8 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Lemon, Juiced
1/4 cup Olive Oil
2 tsp Garlic, minced
1 tsp Fresh Oregano, minced
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Dijon
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
In a mason jar, add all ingredients. Shake vigorously to combine.
Drizzle enough over salad to coat, but not soak.
We are going to be going into quite a few things over the next couple of days that may seem like you can't eat anything. Starting with a strong list of foods to include is a great, positive way to start any new change.
1. Cruciferous Vebetables
- High levels of Vitamin A beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially of the skin and bronchials
- High levels of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially in auto immune joint pain
- Vegetable sources of Proteins and Fat (primarily Omega 3 ALA)
- Contain isothiocyanates that inhibit inflammation
- Bok Choy and Broccoli contain glucosinolates, than inhbit inflammation
- High in Fiber which feeds probiotics in the digestive system and reduces intestinal inflammation
It is important to have a moderate mix of cooked and uncooked forms of cruciferous vegetables. Each method provides a slightly different nutrient profile. These are great vegetables for culturing, as the natural fiber in the plants is the ideal food for culturing bacteria (as it is for our own digestive bacteria).
2. Leafy Greens
- High levels of Vitamin A beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially of the skin and bronchials
- High levels of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially in auto immune joint pain
- High levels of Magnesium, a mineral necessary for healthy muscles, and deficiences are associated with muscle spasms, cramp and inflammatory conditions; Asthma, Migraines, Fibromyalgia, Restless Leg Syndrome, and chronic muscle tension.
- High levels of Vitamin A beta-carotene, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially of the skin and bronchials
- High levels of Vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps to regulate the immune system to reduce inflammation, especially in auto immune joint pain
- High levels of Vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin that has been shown to reduce white cell production of inflammatory markers
- Vegetable sources of Proteins and Fats (primarily Omega 3 ALA)
- Rich in Quercitin, a flavonoid that helps to regulate immune function, and reduces inflammation markers
- Rich in Kaempferol, an antioxidant flavonoid helps to reduce the expression of inflammatory hormones specifically in cases of joint and bone inflammation
- Chard is rich contains antioxidants that alter pro-inflammatory enzymes
- Parsley contains oils that stimulate the Liver's secretion of detoxing Glutathione, which helps to neutralize toxins
- Help to balance the acidity of the body
The bulk of the produce you eat should be from these 1st two groups.
3. Onions and Garlic
- High in Manganese, a mineral necessary for regulating bone formation, a precursur to the formation of collagen, precursur to enzymes needed for glucose metabolism, potent antioxidant in the lungs (asthma).
- Rich in Sulfides that inhibit COX 2 expression, especially in cases of join inflammation
- Rich in Sulfides than inhibit Ovalbumin associated with lung inflammation
- Rich in Sulfides than reduce histamine induces inflammation
- Rich in Sulfides than enhance the affects of antioxidants to reduce oxidative stress induce inflammation
- Rich in Sulfides that reduce the macrophage activity of white blood cells, calming the immune system in chronic inflammation
- Sulfides are the foundation molecules for the formation of many chemicals (Glucosamine) necessary for proper connective tissue growth and health.
- Rich in Quercitin, an antioxidant flavonoid that helps to regulate the immune functions, and reduce inflammation markers.
- Rich in Kaempferol, an antioxidant flavonoid helps to reduce the expression of inflammatory hormones specifically in cases of joint and bone inflammation
- Garlic specifically is antibacterial, and helps to kill bad bacteria in the digestive system.
- Compounds in Garlic inhibit inflammation messengers, interleukin.
- Compounds in Garlic reduce adipose cell inflammation signals.
Raw onions and garlic have the most enzyme and antibacterial benefits.
4. Beets and Sweet Potatoes
The red color of beets is a dead give away of their high amounts of Betaines (just like the red stems on chard).
- Betaines protect the body from environmental stress and toxins.
- Betaines are known to reduce several inflammatory markers, interluekins, tumor necrosis factor, and C reactive proteins
- Betaines improve vascular function
- Betaines stimulate the body's detoxifcation by stimulating Glutathione
- Contain other phytonutrients that decrease COX 2 expression
Beets can be eaten raw, boiled, roasted, grilled, and cultured. Each still providing anti inflammatory antioxidants.
Sweet potatoes are another anti inflammatory food. The flesh color of sweet potatoes can vary from white, light golden, orange, fire, red to purple. Each providing slightly different antioxidants. The Thai purple sweet potato (See it below in my hash) has been studied specifically in the treatment of inflammation, specifically with inflammation of the blood vessels. Unlike white potatoes, which are a member of the Night Shade Family, sweet potatoes and yams have edible leaves. If you grow them yourself, you can use the leaves in salads or sauté them like spinach.
- The orange color in sweet potatoes is a dead giveaway of the high levels of carotenoids. These Vitamin A compounds have been found to be more bioavailable in sweet potatoes and other orange vegetables, than leafy greens.
- The purple color is a sign of Anthocyanines. The same antioxidant that is found in Blueberries
- Anthocyanines have been shown to decrease inflammation markers, specifically in the brain and nerves by reducing excess fibrin production
The best way to eat sweet potatoes is to cook them. Unlike white potatoes, you CAN eat sweet potatoes raw, but they don't taste very good. I prefer baking, roasting, and boiling. They are the perfect substitute for white potatoes. Don't Fry Them. Frying and starchy vegetable or food creates inflammatory and carcinogen chemicals, Acrylamides. These Acrylamides are well documented to be a toxin in the body. Acrylamides are produced anytime a starch is cooked at high heats. This can be in the baking of breads (especially at high heat or if the curst is very dark and burnt, or in making toast), but also, more importantly, in the frying of foods at high heats. French Fries, Fried Pies, Fried Okra, Doughnuts, etc… Acrylamide not only is associated with causing cancer, but is also a neurotoxin that can cause damage to the neurological functions of the body. Acrylamide exposure can make certain inflammatory conditions worse: Neuropathy, Nerve Damage, Fibromyalgia, and other Skin Pain relation conditions.
For those who are not aware, part of my family is Korean. We eat and ate a lot of Korean food as a kid, and now. Korean food has a lot of seaweed in it. It makes me happy to see seaweeds becoming more popular. Most of the kids at my daughter's school bring little packages of seaweed snacks. LOVE IT!
Iodine deficiency is becoming epidemic. Our main sources of iodine are grass-fed dairy and seafoods (fish, shellfish, sea salts, and seaweeds). Do not try and get your iodine from iodize table salt. That stuff is junk. It's been bleach, and loaded with synthetic iodine that does not absorb well at all. Stick with natural salts and seaweeds for you iodine needs.
Why are we so Iodine deficient?
- Most cows are not eating grass
- Iodine levels in dairy are dependent on the iodine levels of the soil, which are becoming deplete
- Fluoride in the water and toothpastes deplete the body of iodine
- Bromides (Potassium Bromate is a preservative in bread) also depletes iodine
- Chlorides (Preservatives and flavor enhancers, Perchlorate) blocks the ability of the thyroid to absorb iodine
The main symptoms of iodine deficiency is Hypothyroidism. There is also some evidence coming out to links with other hormone imbalances in the body, specifically PCOS. Other symptoms of deficiency can be chronic fatigue, hair loss, dry skin, and cold hands and feet.
Why is iodine so important for inflammation?
- Iodine helps regulate levels of stress hormones, cortisol
- Iodine helps to regulate the immune system
In additional to Iodine, sea vegetables are rich in highly absorbable iron, zinc and magnesium, as well as other trace minerals.
6. Cultured Vegetables
Our gut is an important part of our immune system, inflammatory pathways, and is the way we get our nutrition. If our gut is not happy, our system isn't happy. A BIG part of the benefits of cultured vegetables is the natural probiotics created in the fermentation process. The natural fibers in the plants, that would feed the bacteria in our guts, is digested during the fermentation process by plant and airborne bacteria. Consuming the already fermented vegetables give you a boost in your own probiotic colonies.
- These healthy bacteria help to balance in kill bad bacteria that produce exotoxins that irritate the intestinal walls and cause internal inflammation.
- Vitamin K1 in the plants is converted to easily absorbed K2 during fermentation. K1 is not utilized in the body and MUST be converted into K2 by bacteria either in our digestive system, or in fermentation.
- Fermentation also increase the amount of B Vitamins, specifically B12
I have fond memories of watching my grandmother make Kim Chi in her kitchen. I have carried on that tradition, and now make a variety of different cultured vegetables (which my kids LOVE). It's easy, fun, and you can get creative with the seasonings. I've usually got a couple of mason jars on the counter during harvest season. If you want to start making your own, message me and I would be more than happy to give a crash course in fermentation…it really is easy, and if I can do it, you can.
7. Berries and Cherries
- Anthocyanines and found in abundance in berries, and is higher in those that are blue/purple in color. Anthocyanines have been shown to decrease inflammation markers, specifically in the brain and nerves by reducing excess fibrin production
- Blueberries and Cranberries were specifically found to protect cells against inflammatory damage.
- Red Raspberries have been shown to reduce inflammation in different forms of arthritis
- Blueberries have been shown to reduce intestinal inflammation, as well as systemic inflammation
- Blackberries have been shown to reduce inflammatory bowl disease
- Elderberries have been shown to reduce respiratory inflammation
- Cranberries have been shown to reduce urinary inflammation
- Cherries have been shown to reduce joint inflammation
- Cherries have been shown to reduce muscle spasming
- Cherries have been shown to reduce gout inflammation
The key to choosing berries, is to buy organic, or find wild! Berries are highest on the list of pesticide use.
- Bromelain reduces inflammatory cytokines
- Bromelain minimizes blood platelet aggregation
- Bromelain attenuates the development of allergic airway disease (AAD), and decreases asthmatic reactions
- Bromelain is as effective as NSAIDS for decreasing arthritis inflammation and pain
- Bromelain is a natural COX 2 inhibitor
- Bromelain inhibits bacterial endotoxin inflammation
To access the this amazing anti inflammatory enzyme, eat your pineapple raw.
Today, research has shed light into its many different phytochemicals. It has started gaining recognition for its use in treating arthritis, digestive inflammation, parkinson's, diabetes and cancer, as well as its ability to regulate digestive bacteria growth.
- Rich in Ketones that reduce oxidation and increase enzyme and glutathione production
- Gingerol inhibit prostaglandin and leukotriene synthesis
- Gingerol is a COX 2 inhibitor
- Ginger extract decreased inflammatory markers in study
- Ginger reduces inflammation in cases of Arthritis and Gout
Fresh ginger is best. It can be grown indoors as used as need, as well. The minced and packaged type is typically full of preservatives as well, and the dried ginger is probably pretty weak in medicinal properties.
Today, like Ginger, modern science is beginning to open up the answers as to how Cinnamon works to treat various inflammatory conditions; Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, Diabetes, Viral Infections, Asthma, and other inflammatory conditions.
- It is rich in a variety of flavonoids that reduce inflammation, including Quercitin with affects histamine caused inflammation
- Essential Oil extracts of Cinnamon reduce inflammatory markers
- Cinnamon is a COX 2 and NO inhibitor
- Cinnamon increases neuroprotective protein production, to protect nerve and brain cells from oxidative damage
- Cinnamon oil antimicrobial, killing a variety of bacteria, yeast, fungi, gram positive and gram negative organisms.
Any form of cinnamon bark will work. Use it in cooking, or as a topping. Make vitamin waters with the whole pieces with apple chunks...yum!
For centuries, turmeric has been known for it's anti inflammatory properties. The main active ingredient is called Curcumin. Curcumin has beens shown to have beneficial properties in conditions such as: Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, cerebral injury, CVDs, cancer, allergy, asthma, bronchitis, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, renal ischemia, psoriasis, diabetes, obesity, depression, fatigue, and AIDS.
- Curcumin lowers levels of oxidized proteins in the brain
- Curcumin suppresses inflammatory damage by preventing metal induction
- Curcumin reduces Fibril formation
- Curcumin reduces inflammation causes by expanded adipose cells in obesity
- Curcumin directly affects pancreatic beta cells in insulin regulation
- Curcumin reduces airway constriction in asthma and bronchial inflammation
- Curcumin reduces bowl inflammation
- Curcumin reduces inflammation mediators in the immune system
- Curcumin inhibits PGE(2) production
- Curcumin reduces Psoriasis inflammation by reducing PhK
- Curcumin makes COX 2 inhibitor medication work BETTER
The Down Side: Curcumin is extremely hard to absorb! It is metabolized and excreted quickly. To increase absorption, Curcumin supplements should have added Vitamin C, and should be taken with a food containing quality fats.
There are no known side effects to Curcumin.
12. Primitive Grains
Ancient Grains are those that have been consumed in the same state for thousands of years, and have changed very little. These include: Quinoa (south american seed grain), Amaranth (north american seed grain), Chia (south american seed grain), Sorgham (african seed grain), Teff, Millet, Buckwheat, Oats, Wild Rice, Pigmented Rice.
Each offer different nutrient profiles, some are gluten free other are lower than modern wheat.
- Grains that are pigmented red are rich in antioxidants (Red Quinoa, Wild Rice, Red Rice)
- Chia is rich in ALA Omega 3 fatty acids (up to 3500mg per ounce)
- Amaranth and Quinoa contain Hydrolysates, shown to reduce LPS induced inflammation
- Oats are the only grain to contain avenanthramides, shown to reducing inflammation and itching.
- Wild and Black rice varieties are high in Anthocyanines
Grains should not make up a larger portion of your diet, as modern nutrition would have you think. The key to incorporating grains into your diet, especially if you are in a Chronic Inflammatory cycle, is to keep them whole, soak them, and do not consume them sparingly. Avoid Wheat and even ancient Wheats if you have significant inflammation. Stick to seed grains that are naturally gluten free, and richer in fats, vitamins and antioxidants.
13. Nuts and Seeds
- Nut and seed consumption (daily) is associated with a reduction in levels of inflammatory markers, C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and fibrinogen.
- Even though rich in fat, there is also an inverse reactions with nut consumption and gallbladder inflammation. Increasing nut and seed consumption reduces gallbladder inflammation
- Walnuts contain substantial amounts of ALA Omega 3
- Walnuts contain ellagic acid, which has shown potent anti-inflammatory properties
- Walnuts have been shown to reduce arthritis inflammation
- Almonds are rich in Vitamin E
- Almonds contain enzymes that reduce digestive inflammation and reduce nausea
- Most are rich in minerals Magnesium, Zinc, Iron and Calcium
- Pumpkins Seeds were shown in one study to reduce inflammation as effectively as the anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin in treating arthritis, but without the side effects.
- Sesame has been shown to reduce join inflammation in Gout and Arthrits
- Avocado has gotten a lot of publicity lately for its nutritious fat content. The portion of the Avocado we consume is actually the fruit, not the seed (although you can). The fats in Avocado are a combination of Monounsaturated fats, like those found in Olive Oil, Polyunsaturated and Saturated.
- Saponins in Avocado reduce cytokine expression in cases of inflammation.
- Avocados are rich in minerals; Magnesium and Potassium, antioxidant vitamins; C and E, as well as Vitamin K, and B vitamins
- Highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin may help to protect the skin from damage from both UV and visible radiation
There is a large variety of nuts and seeds that can be consumed, some better than others in different ways. The key is to keep a variety.
Seeds and Nuts go rancid quickly, meaning the oils in them go bad (don't eat funky smelling nuts, or oils). If you can, buy them in the shell and hull yourself. If you buy already shelled, buy as fresh as you can and store them in the freezer or fridge to keep them longer. Like Legumes and Grains, sprouting your nuts and seeds will break down a portion of their anti-nutrients, and increase the amount nutrition available.
14. Healthy Oils: Olive/Coconut
Cooking with vegetable and nut oils is tricky…please look at some of my previous posts on more detailed information on the different types of fats in our diet, as well as the different cooking oils available.
Differentiating Your Dietary Fats
Understanding Cooking Oils
Olive Oil has gotten good reviews for reducing inflammation for years now. The Phenols in Olive Oil have been shown to reduce inflammation markers, as well as have an analgesic affects (reducing pain perception).
Coconut Oil has also gain some superstar status in recent years. The research is still limited, but what is out there seems promising. Showing a reductions in inflammatory markers, reduce internal heat, and a reduction in pain perception.
There is controversial research out there on inflammation and diet….
High Fat, High Carbohydrate diets are associated with inflammation
High conventional red meat diets, Low vegetable diets associated with inflammation
Low-fat, High carbohydrate diets are associated with inflammation
Mediterranean diets are associated with a reduction in inflammation
High Fat, Low Carb diets are associated with a reduction in inflammation
Ketogenic diets are associated with nerve protection and reduced inflammation
The key here is that high levels of Carbohydrates (pretty much refined sugars, breads, and too much starchy foods and grains) is associated with increases in inflammation, NOT increases in nutritional fats, or quality fats.
15. Grass-Fed Butter
When you buy are see grass-fed butter, you'll notice it's ORANGE, not WHITE. This is a clear sign that this is quality butter. The orange color is the antioxidants and vitamins (specifically A). SO COOL to actually see it, in my opinion, vs. me just telling you its better and it looking the same, right?
- Higher in naturally occurring, bioavailable Omega 3's EPA/DHA
- Rich is Vitamin K2, already bioavailable, which is shown to reduce osteoarthritis inflammation
- Rich in Butyrate, an anti-inflammatory
- Higher amounts of Vitamin D, no need for adding synthetic versions
Bring on the butter, but make it grass-fed only!
16. Real Cultured Dairy
- Cultured dairy products, not regular dairy products, have been shown to reduce interleukin inflammatory markers in asthma and bronchial inflammation.
- Bacteria in Cultured dairy reduces digestive inflammation
- Culturing dairy increases the absorption of the minerals in dairy (Calcium, Magnesium) into bones
Culturing dairy helps to remove Lactose. During the culturing process, the lactose becomes food for the growing bacterial colonies. Those who have lactose issues can typically consume cultured dairy products (REAL Cultured Dairy products).
If you consume dairy, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE choose full fat. Stop buying skimmed milk products NOW! That is your final warming. But, seriously, skim milk is glorified sugar water with added vitamins and minerals that cannot me absorbed.
- Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that MUST be combined with a fat molecule to be absrobed
- CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) is a compound found ONLY in grass-fed dairy, and ONLY in full fat.
- CLA has been shown to signal sugar storage in muscles not adipose tissue.
- CLA reduces Arachadonic Acid Inflammation
- CLA can be converted into EPA and DHA (WHAT, that's right, it can be converted into usable Omega 3 fatty acids) to balance Omega 6 inflammation
And lastly, choose grass-fed…for reasons mentioned above
Buy Plain, not flavored, that are full of added sugar and often preservatives, like Carrageenan (which is highly inflammatory). They actually use carraganeen to induce inflammation in lab animals to study the effects of anti-inflammatories. This is one additive you need to stay away from.
17. Fatty Fish
In our body there needs to be a balance between inflammatory Omega 6 fatty acids and anti inflammatory Omega 3 fatty acids. In our modern diets, this is highly skewed to being higher in Omega 6 fatty acids. Fish are naturally high in Omega 3's, especially those fish from cold waters that have more fat on them.
Farmed fish, sadly, is often fed unnatural diets so are falling into the same sad fate as the quality of our conventional meats. Low in Omega 3, high in Omega 6. This is why choosing sustainable fished wild caught is the best choice.
There is a worry about Mercury and other contaminants in wild caught fish. Salmon in the Seattle area were found to be contaminated with dangerous amount of hormones and anti-depressants…hooray for mediation in the water system (did you know that you cannot filter that out, you may want to test your tap water). Choosing fish species that are lower on the food chain will minimize the amount of contaminants you are exposed to…sardines, anchovies. There are also online lists that rank fish on their toxin levels. It's a good idea to print this off and have it with you to help you make good fish choices.
Our body can make it's own hyaluronic acid, but after a certain age it stops and all hyaluronic acid must come form food sources. Hyaluronic acid is found in high amounts in our connective tissues, cartilage, synovial fluid, and skin. It is the lubricant of our body. It helps to increase lubrication in joints, and fills the doughnut like spinal discs. This is an important nutrient for those who are suffering from joint inflammation, herniated or bulging discs, age related arthritis, or skin inflammation.
How do we get Hyaluronic Acid in our diet? Well, how much cartilage and skin are you eating these days? Probably not much! Back to the days of poor nutritional guidelines of low fat-high carb. Everyone was told to eat boneless and skinless chicken. Well, you have just thrown out your source of hyaluronic acid. If you are a vegetarian, you are probably deficient in hyaluronic acid. Sorry!
So, how do we get it back in our diet. The best way, in my opinion, is to make your own Chicken Stock. This is very easy, and once you figure it out, you'll do it all the time. When you buy a chicken, buy a whole chicken, cook it (eat the skin), and save the bones. Take these bones and any leftover meat and skin. Put it in a crockpot with your desired herbs and some vinegar (you won't taste it), and cook on high for 12-24 hours. Done. You've now got a super nutritious broth that you can use to cook with, or drink.
I have had clients with chronic joint pain and inflammation recovery simply by doing this!
19. Pasture Raised Animal Meats
To me, this is more important than choosing organic produce. The quality of meat we eat will either cause disease or treat it. This is a good example of this.
Conventionally raised meats are fed poor, unnatural, cheap feed. This creates nutritionally imbalanced meat that is low in vitamins and minerals, and high in poor quality saturated fats and dangerously inflammatory polyunsaturated Omega 6 fatty acids.
Like all animals we accumulate and change our biochemical buildup based on what we are eating.
Grass-fed and pasture raised animals are nutritional and anti-inflammatory superstars. Beef especially is changes significantly by simply changing its feed.
Sun exposure is another bonus to nutrition. Vitamin D is a sunshine vitamin. It is created by chemical reactions when cholesterol and UVB rays meet in our skin. If cattle, chicken, pigs, etc…are not given access to sunshine, they are deficient in Vitamin D…why many diary products are given synthetic Vitamin D supplements (so much better to have the real thing).
20. Pasture Raised Eggs
Eggs in general are a super food. They provide nearly every nutrient you need. For years there was worry over cholesterol in eggs and blood cholesterol levels. This is not accurate, and we will discuss how excessive sugar consumption actually causes high cholesterol, not cholesterol in the diet.
- 3-x more Omege 3's in the form of EPA and DHA than conventional eggs
- 200% more Vitamin E than conventional eggs
- Rich in Choline, shown to reduce inflammatory markers
- Richer in Selenium, shown to reduce joint inflammation
- Rich in Biotin, and other B Vitamins, which are depleted in long standing Chronic Pain, Inflammation and Autoimmune disease
- Higher amounts of natural Vitamin D
- Richer in Iodine, which is hard to find in the modern diet, and a new epidemic deficiency, than conventional (15% daily value in 1 pasture raised egg)
Try to incorporate eggs into your diet daily if yo can. My family of four goes through 2-3 dozen eggs per week! Look for local egg suppliers. They do not need to be organic, but pasture raised and allowed to forage on grasses and especially bugs!
Breakfast #3: Brussels and Sweet Potato Hash; Fried Egg; Black Coffee
2 cups shredded Brussels
1 medium Orange Flesh Sweet Potato, baked and diced
1 medium Purple Flesh Sweet Potato, baked and diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
1 tsp Thyme
1 Carrot, shredded
1/2 Onion, diced
1 Celery Rib, diced
1/8 cup Grass-Fed Butter
In a Cast Iron Skillet add butter, and melt. Add Onion and Garlic, cook till fragrant, add Brussels, Carrot, Celery and Sweet Potato, stir to coat. Season with S/P/Thyme. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally. Add chicken broth if it looks dry. Cook until all vegetables are soft and browning.
Makes 4 servings of hash
In a separate cast iron skillet, heat 1/2 tsp grass-fed butter, add egg and cook until desired doneness.
Lunch #3: Turkey, Hummus, Veggie Lettuce Wrap; Vitamin Water
Snack #1: Fresh Strawberries with Coconut Cream; Vitamin Water
Dinner #3: Dijon Herb Pistachio Crusted Salmon; Wild Rice; Steamed Broccoli; More Vitamin Water…it's that good!
1 pound Salmon Fillet's
3 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Lemon, 1/2 juiced 1/2 sliced
1 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1/8 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Parsley, minced
2 Green Onions, chopped
1/4 cup Pistachios, chopped
Preheat Oven to 400
Make a paste with Dijon, Lemon Juice, Parsely, Green Onions, and Garlic.
In an oven safe dish coat salmon with oil, and season with S/P. Top each salmon fillet with dijon mixture, and sprinkle with pistachios. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through.
In a sauce pot, cook Wild Rice as directed with Chicken Stock.
How to Begin "Cleaning Up Your Diet"
BUT WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
Simply put, EAT SIMPLE! Just like most things in life, if you stick to the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple and Stupid) guidelines you find it's not as hard as you imagine.
- Choose Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes
- Eat Grain in their Whole State
- Choose Meats raised naturally without synthetic hormones, or fed unnatural feed
- Properly Balance meals with Proteins, Fats and Carbs
- Eliminate Processed Meats
- Eliminate Refined Grains
- Eliminate Refined Sugars
- Learn to Cook
- Learn to Read Labels
Choosing Fresh Fruits, Vegetables and Legumes
FRUITS: Fruits are a source of natural sugars, which our body does need (more on sugars later). Our body can handle the sugars in fruits because they are balanced with fiber, enzymes, proteins, fats and other vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. It is the refined and highly processed sugars that are the real issue (again, more later), and excessive amounts.
Have you noticed that fruit is seasonal? Many of us have forgotten that fruits (and vegetables for that matter) have seasons. They are typically available year round. But, let me tell you a secret…if you eat them when they are in season in your area, you are going to to get the best nutritional bang for your buck. Apples, for example, are a fall and winter storage fruit. They are harvested in the fall, and can be cold stored for winter use. How many of you have seen a fruit filled tree in early summer….not here anyways. Most of the apples you get in spring/summer come from other countries (typically Mexico, Central and South American Countries). These fruits are picked before reaching full potential and shipped long distances. These are also, typically, irradiated and processed before entering our country to kill foreign bacteria, viruses, protozoan, and chemicals. If you want to have fruit with not only the most flavor, but the most nutritional value, pick local and in season (they will also be cheaper then too…supply and demand).
When choosing fruits, stick to fresh or frozen. Don't buy the canned or jarred varieties. These are full of added sugars. Frozen is the next best to fresh. Fruit is picked ripe, and frozen quickly, retaining their nutritive value. If you can't get fresh, seasonal, buy frozen as the next best.
Dried fruit is often full of added sugar and preservatives. Read your labels closely, and find versions that are just fruit. Better yes, learn to dry or dehydrate fruit yourself!
Many fruits are high on the pesticide use list. (THE DIRTY DOZEN). Going organic is expensive, and in some areas there is little available. Start by avoiding conventional fruits in the Dirty Dozen list as a starting point. This will immediately minimize the amount of foreign and inflammatory chemicals in your body. The good thing is, that many studies show that once switching to mostly organic, chemical levels in the body decrease quickly.
VEGETABLES: Vegetables are a must! Vegetables are an essential way of getting vital vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fiber, essential fatty acids, proteins, and phytochemicals necessary for body functions.
Like Fruit, fresh and in season is best. Some vegetables can be stored and used year round (think fall and winter vegetables: cabbage, beets, potatoes). Traditionally these foods were grown for winter meals. Some vegetables are only available during short periods during the year…Asparagus is an early spring, short lived treat. There are so many amazing vegetables out there, don't limit yourself, explore some new ones. You may be surprised what you like. Example: We joined a CSA when we moved to Colorado. (Love CSA's by the way, if you are looking for a way to get local, seasonal produce and support local farms, check out a CSA in your area). Our weekly box was full of vegetables I have never used, and some I had never even seen! One of these gems was Kohlrabi. A member of the cabbage family, it looks like a root vegetable that forgot to grow underground. It's flavor is a cross between a white potato and an artichoke. It can be cooked and mashed (into a mashed potato look-a-like) or used raw in salad. I fell in LOVE with this unique vegetable (I had to look it up online). I rarely find it in the regular markets, but grow it in my garden now.
When picking your vegetables go fresh and local when you can, leaving frozen as the next best, and canned as the last resort. Most canned vegetables are in BPA plastic lined cans, have added salts/sugars, and have lost much of the flavor they should have. Like Fruits, many common vegetables are highly treated with pesticides. Buying organic will help you avoid these environmental toxins. Start by buying only those on the Dirty Dozen list Organic.
Grow Your Own! Start a vegetable garden of your own. This way you have control over the chemicals used, access to the freshest vegetables, and can pick those that you eat frequently. You'd be surprised how much you can grow in a small space. I live in suburbia! With a small "patio-home" style yard. Every year, I grow a garden. It's taken me some time to figure out what works well with my space and family, but at this point I can grow: Lettuces, Red Radishes, Beets, Arugula (In the spring), Okra, Zucchini, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Peppers, Daikon Radish, Kohlrabi, Rapini, Green Beans, Corn (in the summer) and Kale, Chard, Rosemary, Stevia, Mint, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley Cilantro, Chives, Sage, Strawberries, Pumpkins (all season). This past season I was able to grow enough for us to eat, and to freeze (we froze 3 bags of Green Beans, 4 bags of Okra, 15 ear of Corn, 6 bags of Kale, 5 bags of Chopped Chard, made my own Crushed Red Pepper, and made some Stevia/Mint bombs (stevia and mint leaves chopped and frozen in TBSP amounts). Not too bad for 2 small garden beds and some pots. It's possible in any yard, rewarding and a great way to supplement the grocery bill with quality food. This year I was planning on adding Sweet Potatoes and Amaranth!
Eat a variety of cooked and raw vegetables. Some NEED to be cooked, even slightly, to unlock their nutrition availability.
LEGUMES: Legumes need to be soaked, or sprouted to break down inflammatory chemicals (saponins, phytic acid, and enzyme inhibitors) than can make them rough on the digestive system and weaken the digestive functions of the intestines . It is best to buy them dry and soak them, cook them yourself. This is not feasible for many (even me sometimes). But, if you are trying to eliminate inflammation, please take this extra step and learn to can yourself. Make big batches of simple cooked beans, and store them in jars. All legumes need to be cooked! Raw legumes can be toxic, much like raw potatoes.
Saponins are plant "soaps." They bind to both carbohydrates and sterol fats. Most all plants have some level of saponins. Like Phytic Acid, there are pros and cons to Saponins in the diet. Legumes vary in the amount of Saponin they have between 0.5%-5% with Soybeans have the most. Saponins can have a negative affect on intestinal cell membrane integrity. They bind to sterols (cholesterols) which make up a portion of the lipid cell membranes, weakening the membrane over time. On the contrary, some Saponins have been shown to have ANTI-inflammatory properties. Saponins work in plants to protect them from microbe invasions. These Saponins can help treat protozoan and microbe overgrowth in the intestines. Cooking, and soaking does not remove all of the Saponins, much like soaking grains, but reduces the amount.
Cyanogenic Compounds are also found in legumes. These compound are found in many different root vegetables and legumes… These are toxins, and are found in high amounts in things like Cassava and Broad Beans…these must be soaked and cooked to destroy these compounds. Our body can remove small amounts of Cyanides (yes this is a form of Cyanide). In large amounts it is toxic.
Proteolytic Enzyme Inhibitors are another reason to properly process your legumes. Legumes are particularly high in Proteolytic Enzyme Inhibitors (PEI). For the plant, these are great! They are a defense mechanism agains bugs. In the diet, these PEI's have been linked to enlargement of the pancreas, a reduction in protein digestibility, and increase digestive inflammation. These are highest in soybeans. With most legumes, the soaking cooking methods reduce the PEI's to a safe level. With soybeans, the levels are so high that an extra step of actually fermentation must be taken to make theme safe for consumption. Soy should never be consumed raw, or in "milk" form, or even edamame. It should always be fermented into real cultured tofu, miso, or tempeh.
Eat Grains in Their Whole State
Eating your grains in their whole, and natural form (and processing them correctly) increases their nutrition value. Most refined grains have been stripped of all their nutrition (which is why the flour is "fortified" with synthetic vitamins…which we will talk about later and how synthetic vitamins can be extremely toxic). Whole grains in their whole state; Quinoa, Wheat berries, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Millet, Spelt, all in berry form, are the preferred method. If you need to use ground flours, pick those that are whole grain and sprouted. This will ensure that you are getting the most nutrition that you can. BUT, when trying to eliminate inflammation, I highly recommend just doing away will ground flours, whole grain pastas, whole grain breads etc. These are so often full of preservatives and sugars,
Stick with whole berry grains, and soak/spout them before cooking.
When you can, stick to more primitive varieties of grains. Modern varieties, even organic, have been very much changed over years of modern agriculture, and are now commonly Genetically Modified. Primitive grains tend to have more nutritional value, being higher in proteins, fats, minerals, and B vitamins, than more modern grain species. Many primitive grains are gluten free, and technically seeds.
Primitive grains include: Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Chia, Farro, Oats, Millet, Quinoa, Red Rice, Sorghum, Teff, Thai Black Rice, Wild Rice
Like Legumes, there are compounds in grains that need to be broken down to increase their digestibility and increase their available nutrition.
Phytic Acid is the most talked about, and I have already mentioned this in yesterdays post (see my Scottish Oats notes.)
The next is the Proteolytic Enzyme Inhibitors, just like the Legumes. In grains, there is less, and grains need a simple soak/sprout to break them down.
With grains, we should probably bring up Gluten. Let me start by saying, I do not believe that everyone with an inflammatory condition is a Gluten Allergy or Sensitivity. YES it does exist, but like all other food allergies, it varies from person to person. Is it more common, yes, but that does not mean that everyone should be off Gluten.
Gluten is a protein found in some grains, most commonly wheat. Gluten can cause inflammation in those with allergens, sensitivities or autoimmune reactions.
Gluten/Wheat Allergy: This is an immune response to gluten. It can cause not only intestinal inflammation, in systemic inflammation, such as asthma, chronic congestions, watery eyes, and common "seasonal" allergy symptoms. Symptoms are usually quick a quick onset. Allergy reactions can be see in on an IgE blood test.
Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: This is an intolerance to gluten that has not caused intestinal damage, but there is systemic inflammation causing brain fog, joint pain, and fatigue. This is more difficult to diagnose. Blood tests are are often variable. You need to have consumed large amounts of gluten at a certain point prior to testing for accurate results.
Celiacs: This is becoming one of the most common auto-immune diseases in the modern culture. There are many theories as to why this is becoming an issue now. One such theory is that our modern wheat grains are so rich in gluten (much more than primitive varieties), and this gluten is actually a different form of gluten from primitive grains. This new gluten is harder for our body to recognize and we are bombarding our system with so much foreign gluten at home time, that it sees it as a threat and goes on the defensive. Celiacs is an autoimmune disease. Those with Celiacs have significant intestinal pain and inflammation, as well as systemic symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, weight changes, malnutrition, and other autoimmune diseases.
If you think you may have issues with Gluten, get tested.
Choose Quality Meats Raised Naturally
This does not mean organic meat. This means GRASS-FED and FINISHED, when we talk beef. PASTURE RAISED when we talk Poultry and Pork, and WILD CAUGHT for fish. What our meat eats will make a different in the nutritional profile.
- Look for meat that has been raised without added hormones, and without the use of un-necessary antibiotics.
- Choose Grass FINISHED Beef or bison when available. Grass-fed/Grain finished is second, but not ideal. Cattle finished on grass can up to 4x more Omega 3 fatty acids per 4 oz serving (up to 3500mg)
- Choose Pasture raised Chicken and Pork that have access to natural foraging, and natural feed. These animals are naturally omnivore and should not be fed vegetarian diets. Pastured raised Poultry and Pork have higher concentrations of good fats, and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Look for animals fed non-GMO corn. Corn in general is not a natural food source and is full of too much sugar for most ruminant animals. Increasing the risk of E.Coli infections.
- Learn to read the labels:
- "Natural" is an unregulated term, do not rely on this in choose quality.
- "Organic" does not mean that the animal was pasture raised, or even fed non-GMO feed. It just means the the feed was from "organic" sources.
- "Grass-Fed" too, may not mean what it says. This can be put on labeling of animals that were fed grass, even for a short period of time.
- "Grass-Finished" means the cattle were given grass until slaughter
- "Cage Free" means that the poultry was not kept in cages, but that does not mean they are not kept in cramp barns with no access to sunlight.
- Choose the best that is available to you. There are many more resources out there for quality meats. The food world is becoming more aware of the importance of feeding and raising animals in a way that is not only more humane, but more nutritious. Eating meat that is more nutrition means not needing to eat as much.
- Eat the Fat! Yep, and the Skin. When buying and eating meat, look for whole chunks with bones in and skin on. The skin and fat and rich in nutrients, some of which are heard to find in the diet, but necessary for certain inflammatory joint conditions to heal (Hyaluronic Acid).
- Eat the Organs. Don't throw out that bag of giblets! Add that to your meat broth…puree and add to soups…or learn to enjoy Liver, Heart, etc… They are not as bad as you think. If you start your children young, they won't know the difference.
- Buy sustainably wild caught fish. Most farmed fish are full of toxic buildup and fed unnatural diets. Farmed Salmon for example is not orange/red in color…it's a dull, ugly grey. They inject food coloring into the meat to make it look like "real" salmon…yummmmm! Think that's still the same?
- Learn to hunt. Some of the best, and most sustainable meat sources available are in the woods, and fields. These animals lead amazingly fulfilling lives, eating natural food sources, and are not tortured when harvested (like some conventional meat stock.) They are rich in Omega 3's and lower in the amounts of saturated fat. The saturated fat there is, is healthier as well.
- Use the whole animal. Waste is waste, and this is a life. We have a hunting rule at our house. All parts are used, nothing goes to waste. If you kill it, you eat it.
- Avoid processed meats, or learn to make your own!!! Most processed meats are LOADED with preservatives, sugars, and salts. There is much research linking processed meats with inflammatory and degenerative diseases. If you take the time to learn to make your own, you are in control of the ingredients, and the process. I have several friends that make their own venison link sausages. We make our own bulk Italian and Breakfast Sausage, and it tastes so much better!!!
Properly Balance Your Meals
Carbohydrates are the body's instant fuel, needed for short bursts of cellular energy, and neuro-processes. Meals that are rich in carbohydrates are quickly digested, absorbed, used and stored. Leaving you hungry sooner.
Proteins are the building blocks of most of the enzymes in our body. They are harder to digest, and take a longer time. They keep you fuller longer.
Fats are slower to digest, and are a fuel source for the body as well as building blocks for hormones, and cell membranes. They are a slower release fuel and give the body sustained energy. They also keep you fuller and energized longer.
When you combine Carbohydrates with Proteins and Fats, the meal is balanced. You feel energized sooner and longer, and stay full longer.
There is a digestive balance. Meals that combine healthy complex carbohydrates, fiber, proteins and fats, are balanced. Not only does this help give your body a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytochemicals in one meal. Often, the nutrients from each food in your meal play off of each other.
Fat-soluble vitamins in many plants cannot be digested and absorbed with adequate amounts of fat, specifically saturated fats, for absorption. Vitamin A/D/E/K are all fat soluble vitamins that need a fat bound to it to get through the intestinal wall. Eating a raw carrot, on it's own, will give you little Vitamin A in the body, but combine it with a good fat (cooked in Butter), and you access much more of the available nutrition.
Learn to Cook
This doesn't mean that you need to spend hours cooking everyday. Many of the meals and recipes I make are quick. I juggle multiple lives (Mother, Acupuncturist, Child Chauffeur, Non-Profit Board Member, Author, Wife etc..) We've all got our multiple lives. Often, I am not home until 5:30/6:00 in the evenings and still make the priority of making and feeding my family healthy meals. That's what it has to be, a priority.
Cooking Tips for the Modern Busy Life
- Plan Ahead: Start doing meal planning. This doesn't have to be rigid, but come up with some ideas for the week, buy the ingredients, and be prepared to make them. Life can often get in the way, it's nice to have some ideas already on the calendar to fall back on. Or some good, healthy old reliables.
- Make Big Batches and Freeze: When you do cook, cook big! Make twice the amount needed, and freeze the rest in either individually portions containers for lunches later, or larger batches for a last minute dinner.
- Start Small: Don't overwhelm yourself with trying a new recipe every night, if you don't have the time. Try them on the weekends, or off days. If you like it, safe it. You've tested it, and now each time you make it, it will be easier and faster.
- Prep: Often, on Sundays, I'll pre-make portions of meals I plan on making that week. Or I will make a weeks worth of snacks, or breakfast casseroles, etc…so I can pull them out and cook them quickly. You can use this time to precut vegetables and fruits, so they are easy to grab in a snack pinch.
- Make Your Own Dressing: I have a go-to Balsamic Dressing recipe that literally makes in 3 minutes. It's a staple at our house. Find an easy to make, simple ingredient salad dressing that you can make on the fly.
- Keep Your Pantry Stocked: I personally, probably, take this to an unhealthy level. I am a food hoarder. I have a pantry, and a food storage room, as well as an additional freezer in the garage. When I find healthy foods, or quality dry foods at a good price, I stock up. When I find fresh produce on sale, I bulk up and freeze it. This way, I've always got some of our most used foods available in a pinch.
- Modify What you are Already Eating: Instead of trying to change your diet to something unfamiliar, start by changing what you are already eating. It's easier, and less stressful to look at your current food choices and see where you can make simple changes to make them healthier and incorporate the principles in these blogs.
If this is still something that is not your cup of tea, there are businesses, like Blue Apron, that will send you boxed meals with instructions on how to prepare them. I believe you can pick different nutritional philosophies on many (paleo, vegan), and they are all geared towards being organic, balanced and healthy. For some, this may help get you started.
Learn to Read Labels
I think we all know about carbohydrates, proteins, fats, sugars, act…that written on there very clearly. If not, let me know and I'll elaborate. What I'm more concerned about in this post is the ingredients list. What's actually IN that food. This is where those hidden additives pop up.
Even things that seem healthy are not what they seem…lets take Coconut Milk (I use this a lot). Here are the ingredients lists for a couple different Coconut Milk Labels.
- Thai Kitchen Coconut Milk: Coconut, Water, Guar Gum
- A Taste of Thai Coconut Milk: Coconut, Water, Guar Gum
- Goya Coconut Milk: Coconut, Water, Potassium Metabisulfite
- Native Forest Organic Coconut Milk: Organic Coconut, Water, Organic Guar Gum
- So Delicious Culinary Coconut Milk: Water, Coconut Cream, Guar Gum
- Let's Do Organic Creamed Coconut: Organic Coconut, Organic Cane Sugar
- 356 Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk, Water, Guar Gum
- Trader Joe's Coconut Milk: Coconut Milk, Water
- Aroy-D Coconut Milk: Coconut Extract (60%), Water
- Chaokah Coconut Milk: 100% Coconut Milk
Organic doesn't mean much when you are looking at labels. Many of these products have added ingredients for "stabilizing" and "preserving" and "flavor". The organic ones have a nice price tag, for the same ingredients, really.
There are great lists online of preservatives and inflammation. Anything with a -sulfate or a -sulfite at the end should be avoided. These have been shown to increase inflammatory markers in the Omega 6 pathways.
Breakfast #2 Banana Nut Chia Seed Pudding, Black Coffee
So, what's the deal on Chia Seeds? It's the new Acai, or Pomegranate. Cha-cha-cha chia, remember the chia pets, well, these are those same seeds…who knew! Chia seeds are an ancient seeds, used as food for the Mayans and Aztecs. Nutritionally, they are high in Omega 3's (5gr of ALA per ounce), fiber, and minerals Magnesium, Calcium, and Manganese. They are also high in antioxidants. High in fibers that feed digestive bacteria. They are still doing tons of research on these little guys, but some show great promise for diabetes, and insulin resistance.
1 Ripe Banana
1 Tbsp Sunflower Seed Butter
2 Tbsp Chia Seeds
1 cup Coconut Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
In a mason jar, add banana and nut butter, use a fork to blend. Add other ingredients, put lid on and shake. Refrigerate overnight. Top with sliced banana and sprinkle with additional cinnamon.
Makes 2 servings
Lunch #2 Leftover Avocado-Lime Chicken Soup; Berries;Kombucha; Water
Dinner #2 Crockpot Venison and Sweet Potato Chili
1 pound Venison, ground (or Grass-Fed Beef/Bison)
1 Onion, diced
2 TBSP Olive Oil
3 cups Tomatoes, stewed and crushed
1 cup Beef Broth
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/3-1/2 cup Chili Powder (taste)
2 small Sweet Potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 cups Kidney Beans, soaked and cooked
(or 1 can)
2 Bay Leaves
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Cumin
In a cast iron skillet, add Olive Oil over medium heat. Add Ground Meat, Onion and Garlic. Cook until meat is brown and cooked. Transfer to crockpot along with juices.
Add in all other ingredients. Set timer for 4 hours on high, or 8 hours on low.
Top with Avocado, or quality cultured sour cream.
What is Inflammation and the Basic Dietary Principles to Start Reducing Inflammation + Day 1 Menu Plan
What is Inflammation?
There are two different types of inflammation Acute and Chronic.
Acute inflammation is the body's immediate reaction to an injury, infection, or foreign body. This is what you see when you scrape your knee, sprain your ankle, have bronchitis, or a sore throat. The body does it's job during the inflammatory state, and then retreats after a couple of days, reducing the inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is long term. Chronic inflammation is a signal that there is an ongoing problem, or a problem that was not treated correctly. Chronic inflammation is progressive, and stimulates different defensive immune cells to react. Often there is not heat and swelling, but pain and other internal damage, with bouts of acute inflammatory symptoms. This is seen in rheumatic arthritis, spinal disc injuries, auto-immune disease, IBS, allergies, asthma, artery disease, migraines, etc…
LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES
What Makes Inflammation Bad?
POOR DIET: Foods that are high in sugars, and inflammatory fats can increase the amount of inflammation in the body. Also, if diets are deficient in nutrients that heal the body such as healthy anti-inflammatory fats, enzymes, probiotics, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, the body cannot heal and thus the inflammation continues.
STRESS: There is a delicate balance between the hormones of the body, stress and inflammation. In the normal cycles, hormones from the adrenals work to reduce and regulate the inflammatory responses of the body. Stress weakens the adrenals, and reduces their ability to regulate inflammation. Often causing the body to have either an increased sensitivity to stimuli or not be able to shut off once stimulated.
ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS: In our world we are constantly bombarded with destructive chemicals. Many different fertilizers and pesticides used in our foods have been found to be toxic and cause inflammatory reactions in the body. Our body care products are often full of preservative known to disrupts our hormones and immune responses. Our tap water is often contaminated with synthetic hormones, and toxic minerals. The cleaners we use in our homes are another source of immune and hormone disruption, as well as being toxic.
PHYSICAL INJURY: Many physical injuries can lead to chronic inflammation as the body is constantly trying to heal the area. Spinal disc injuries are a common cause of chronic inflammation and pain. Sometimes there is a physical tear to the disc, other times it has become displaced. In each of these cases there is continued pressure on the muscles, nerves, and facial surrounding the injury that are constantly signaling the immune system's healing responses. Over time, as the body tries to heal the area, the body because stuck in a chronic pain-inflammaiton cycle. Sometimes to properly heal the area, we need to reset/reboot our inflammatory processes. Give the immune system a break. There are some cases in which these can be healed with proper diet, exercise, and regulation of the immune responses. In some cases it becomes a lifelong yo-yo, where proper diet is crucial to maintaining a balance and reducing excessive inflammation flareups.
Once you get into a state of chronic inflammation, you become stuck in a vicious cycle. The immune system, and increased inflammation are now causing damage, and thus increasing the stimulation of hormones which in turn increase the production of defensive cells, which cause damage, which increases the stimulation of hormones which…..you get the idea.
Basic Dietary Principles to Reduce Inflammation
Like I mentioned above, this is a starting point to healing. Depending on the type of Chronic Inflammation you have, you principles may vary, or become much more strict. You may have to take it farther, and we will discuss that as we go through this series.
- CLEAN UP YOUR DIET: This is the most crucial of all the principles, and you will find that just by doing this, you will have eliminated many foods that either create inflammation or perpetuate the cycle. It is actually a very simple concept. Eating foods in their natural whole state. Enjoying foods in their freshest and most nutritious forms, Sticking to basics like, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, eggs, and meats. This alone will remove processed, and chemically made "un-real" foods that have taken over our Modern diets.
- REDUCE EXCESSIVE AND ADDED SUGARS: There are multiple studies on the detrimental effects of excessive amounts of sugars in the diet. In a natural and balance diet, our body needs sugars. Fructose is a fuel for the brain, and Glucose is a fuel for every cell in our body. But in excess, or not properly balance, these fuels become toxins. In our society, we consume excessive amounts or processed and packaged foods that are full of refined flours and sugars, and lead very sedentary lives. These inactive lives and diets rich in unused fuels causes excessive weight gain, hormone disruptions, and internal damage. This is a hot topic, and one that we need to address further…and will. AVOID: Pre-packaged crackers, pastas, breads, cookies, cakes, sodas, vitamin waters, gatorades, most granola bars/power bars/protein bars, chips, and other foods that come packaged and loaded with preservatives.
- LEARN TO LOVE FAT: It's time to let go of the decades of poor nutritional guidelines that were shoved down our throats. It's time to say good-by to low-fat diets, and hello to Olive Oil, Nuts, Seeds, Fish, Grass-Fed Butter, Avocados, and Coconuts. It's time to start increasing nutritionally dense fats and saying good-bye to sugar laden, low nutrient carbohydrates. Many nutritional fats work as anti-inflammatories in the body. Without a proper level of good fats in our bodies, our hormones cannot function (Our hormones are made from fats!), our brain slows down (over 60% fat), our nerves become hypersensitive to stimuli, and our cells become weak. One of the many theories on the scary increase in degenerative diseases such as Auto-immune, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's, etc.. is because of the decades of poor nutrition, and the ideas that were shoved so deep into us that many are still finding it difficult to let go of the old low-fat ideals, and embrace the full-fat life. I promise this will not cause weight gain, if anything it will promote weight loss. More to come.
- TASTE THE RAINBOW: NO, I DO NOT MEAN SKITTLES!!! What I mean is embrace the rainbow of colors found in fruits and vegetables. Foods that are rich in color are also rich in nutrition. They are also higher in antioxidants. Colorful foods are also good for your mental state. Different colors are associated with different psychological affects in the body. Studies show a correlation in the colors of our foods we eat and our emotions. Vibrant color is happy, and makes us happy. Bland colors lead to depression, and low mood levels.
- SPICE IT UP: Use herbs to flavor your meals. There is such an amazing array of herbs out there that not only add vibrancy to our meals, but are packed with nutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Garlic, Ginger, Turmeric, Parsley, Cilantro, Oregano, Lemongrass, Curry, Fennel, Dill, Mint, the possibilities are endless. Stimulate your body and your brain with these intense flavors, not added sugar.
- LIMIT CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL: Although the research on the inflammatory affects of caffeine are often contradictory, I recommend limiting or removing your caffeine intake. Caffeine is dehydrating, and drying. If you are not fully hydrating or your symptoms are very dry and hot in nature, the caffeine may make symptoms worse. On the contrary, some research shows that antioxidants in coffee and cocoa are anti-inflammatory, reducing inflammation marker and reducing the risk of cancer, specifically in the intestines. Alcohol is another controversial drink. Like caffeine, alcohol is dehydrating and drying. It can increase hot natured inflammatory condition. If you plan on consuming alcohol, choose wisely and keep it in moderation. Red Wine, like Dark Chocolate, contains high functioning antioxidants that help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation. Moderation is not a bottle! Keep it in check, or you will swing the other way and CAUSE more inflammation.
- QUALITY NOT QUANTITY: We eat too much, and we eat too much crap. Sorry, but we as a society do. We need to eat less! This is another viscous cycle that must be addressed. How many of you are overweight? Raise your hands. How many of you are overweight and constantly feel hungry? Another raise of hands. I am sure there is a large number of you out there. Here's why? It all begins with poor food choices, and a lack of nutrients. Often those consuming poor diets, or nutrient deficient diets, find themselves craving more food, even though they are eating large amounts of calories (well over what they need). This is because the foods they are consuming are nutrient deplete but high in carbohydrates and sugars, and the cells are actually STARVING for nutrition. Excessive weight is also a trigger for inflammation. Fat cells produce hormones, these hormones can cause an imbalance in the immune systems responses. As fat cells expand and are pushed past their natural storage capacity, they produce more hormones, thus perpetuating the inflammation cycle. How do you fix this? Weight loss is an entire blog series on it's own, but it all starts with choosing QUALITY food sources over a of QUANTITY of food sources. Choosing nutrient dense foods and smaller amounts over large amounts of poor quality foods. You'll be surprised at how much your food cravings and excessive hunger go away when your cells are getting the correct amount of nutrients.
- EAT WITH CONSCIOUSNESS: This should actually be up at the top. With all clients, regardless of condition, when we are making dietary changes, I ask them to start with the basic concept of eating with consciousness. What does this mean? It means when you sit to eat, sit to eat. Turn off the TV, turn off the distractions, focus on your meal, the enjoyment, how it tastes, how it makes you feel, take it in with your senses (smell, taste, texture, temperature). Ask yourself, "How does it make me feel?", and when you get to the point that you are satisfied (not full) STOP! You have just had a meal that means something. By taking in your meal, you are allowing your body to talk to you. You are listening to how food affects you. You will learn to control food, not have food control you. You may also find correlation to foods that are healing and foods that are harming in your diet.
- LEARN TO PROPERLY PREPARE YOU FOOD: There are so many basic food preparation techniques that have been lost to current generations. Many foods NEED to be processed correctly to reduce their inflammatory chemicals. We all know we cannot eat potatoes raw...I hope we all know this. But, we have forgotten about the need to soak/sprout grains and legumes, and cooking greens. Traditional cultures developed these processes for a reason, and we have forgotten many of them. Leading to some of the issues we currently have in chronic dietary inflammation. This is an important step, but one that will take some time to re-learn.
- GET YOUR GUT HAPPY: Years of poor diet choices can reek havoc on the intestines, making intestinal walls inflamed and weak. When the intestines are weak, they poorly absorb nutrients. They easily absorb sugars, though. The bacteria of the digestive system are an important component to the immune system as well, and is often our first line of defense. Probiotics (the good bacteria of our digestive system), when balanced, happy, and fed, produce a number of anti-inflammatories, as well as energy sources for the intestinal cells. There have been huge leaps in research in the last couple of years in regards to the important role our gut bacteria play in our entire bodies health, including mental health. This plays off principle 7. Learning to Properly Prepare your Food. Natural fermentation, and culturing is a lost art. Not many people make and eat cultured foods anymore. If they do, it's most commonly poorly cultured, sugary low-fat yogurt. Please, throw this out! I love cultured dairy, but most of the store bought is junk. There are a few very well done brands out there, Nancy's, Bulgarian Yogurt, etc...all full-fat and all plain! Add your own flavor, and learn to love the tartness of true yogurt. Other sources would be natural pickles, sauerkraut, kim chi, etc… I love making my own cultured vegetables, and my children love eating them. Honestly their favorite is the cultured Cabbage/Beet/Kale "parfaits" that I make with Caraway and Juniper Seeds.
- STAY HYDRATED: Soda, Black Tea and Coffee do not count. Yes, they are often made with water, but other compounds in them are dehydrating. Stick with the good stuff, real water. If you need a good electrolyte substitute, make your own vitamin waters (don't drink "Vitamin Water" or Gatorade, unless you are a super athlete, even then it's questionable.) I love fruit infused waters. Water is as necessary, if not more, for controlling chronic pain and inflammation, as the food you eat. It is estimated that 70% of the population is dehydrated. Long term dehydration can start in childhood, with poor drink choices, and lead to chronic issues and inflammation years later. But, it's never too late to change. If you have children, now is the time to instill healthy drinking habits. Sodas should NEVER be drunk! PERIOD! Water makes up the majority of our body (80+%). It is a cooling, and lubricating mechanism. When we are deficient the body can heat up and dry out, causing friction and inflammation. Dehydration also causes an increase in pain perception, and reduction in blood flow to the brain. Over time, chronic dehydration can affect the neurotransmitters of the brain. Even mild dehydration can affect your mood, causing mood swings and depression.
Because this is a LIFE CHANGE, I would be remiss if I did not talk about two life factors that those with inflammation must address
- GET ACTIVE: Walk, Dance, Bike, Jog, whatever, just get moving. There is a huge correlation between inflammation, and specifically inflammation with chronic pain, and physical activity. I don't like the word "exercise." It sounds so scary, and hard, especially when you are dealing with chronic pain, impossible. I like to say "Get Active." This can mean a number of things, and it can be as simple as walking the block for those who have debilitating pain, and moving up as it improves. This can mean turning on some music and dancing. This can mean parking at the far end of the parking lot and walking a bit farther. Riding your bike to places within a 5 mile radius of your home. Join a hiking or walking group. Learn to do muscle strengthening while cleaning house. This all adds up. How does this activity help. Research shows that physical activity as simple as increasing the number of steps you take per day, increases the number of anti-inflammatory chemicals in the body. Physical activity also helps to increases blood movement through the blood vessels, clearing out areas of inflammation and debris, and increasing the nutrient and oxygen rich blood delivery to those areas. This is especially important in those who are overweight, because the added fat cells makes it harder for the body to oxygenate, and move blood through the tissues. Here is a wonderful article on the subject.
- LEARN TO MANAGE AND REDUCE STRESS: Stress, as I mentioned, is associated with the perpetuation of inflammation and pain by disrupting the regulation of hormones in the body. Take a good look at your life. What are areas of you life that are high stress? Can you eliminate them? If so, do it! If not, learn to manage it. Take self help classes on how to manage stress. Start a yoga or meditation routine. Start subscribing to positive quote emails to keep your spirits and confidence up. Walk away. Let it go! If it's serious, get help! See a licensed therapist that can help you work through it in a positive way.
The Next Steps:
As I mentioned, the above is the starting point. Many of you may already be incorporating the above principles, and that is great! But for many, the above is where you need to be. You are changing not only what you eat, but how you view food. This is how you create a plan that works, not a short term diet. This is a lifestyle choice and a lifestyle change. This is the beginning. The next steps will take you deeper into your healing process. Digging deeper may need to involve professional help for testing and coaching.
KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS
What are triggers? These can be anything, foods, environmental chemicals, allergens, etc... In any case of chronic inflammation, you must rule out anything that is either causing the inflammation, or is perpetuating the inflammation.
- FOOD ALLERGIES: Almost everyone has heard someone say, "I'm off Dairy." or "I'm Gluten Sensitive." at this point. This is not something I throw around lightly, or assume that because someone has an inflammatory disease, that they should automatically remove Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Eggs etc… I am not anti any food, other than processed junk. Everyone has a different trigger and a different level of reaction to foods. I'll use myself as an example: For years I suffered from Adult Onset Asthma. It was bad. I was using 3 different medications to keep my symptoms at bay (Which was really hard for someone like me.) I tried removing dairy...no change. I tried removing grains...no change. I tried every common allergen in the book...nothing. FINALLY, I did a food allergy blood test...PEARS!!!! My ONLY strong trigger was pears. Who would have thought, not me. This was a huge learning point for me. In clinic, I was constantly telling people to remove dairy first, and talking about the high rate of diary issues in those with inflammation, and in my case it was not even a sensitivity on my list. I highly recommend blood testing BEFORE removing any specific foods (Other than processed foods). These tests have become very good, and very accurate, and they can give you a good place to start, whether it is Gluten, Yeast, Dairy, or something else completely. For me, at the time, I rented a cottage on a PEAR ORCHARD. I removed pears (and it took almost 2 years for my symptoms to fully disappear) and am symptom free.
- ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGENS: This is another one that can be done with a simple blood test to rule out any environmental allergens that may need to be removed from the home environment. This can be dust mites, pet danders, grasses, trees, etc. I will say, often those who start down this journey and begin eating a more nutrient dense, and balanced diet have a reduction in environmental allergens. Some do not. Using myself as an example again...and back to my Asthma. I grew up with a cat. I worked in vet clinics for over 10 years, and never had an issue with cat dander UNTIL the pear orchard/asthma days. The only other thing to arise in my blood work was CAT allergies. I was hopeful that I would be able to just cut the pears and be done. Although my symptoms got better, and I no longer needed medication. I would still get choked up when I would cuddle with my kitty. It would be acute and not last for days, but it was there. When we moved, we made the decision for him to be an outdoor cat, and I would not handle him as much and make sure I washed my hands immediately. Having him out of the house was significant. I know now that I have serious cat allergies. Although they will, most likely, never improve, I know how to use this information to manage my life better.
- ENVIRONMENTAL HORMONES DISRUPTERS: Our homes are toxic. We use cleaners and disinfectants. Our tap water is full of chlorine and fluoride, as well as hormones from birth control and hormone replacement therapies that are excreted in urine and unable to be filtered out of our water supplies. Not to mention the estrogenic chemicals found in our plastics, shampoos, conditions, lotions, soaps, etc...that are associated with increased pain, inflammation and cancers. All of these affect the natural hormones in our body. Many of us can go on, relatively unaffected by these chemicals. Others, especially those in chronic inflammatory states, are more sensitive. If this is something you want to dive into deeper, I recommend contacting someone who specializes in detoxifying homes. They will come in and look at your products, cleaners, etc...and recommend replacements or removal to reduce your household exposure. Another important source of Environmental Hormone Disrupters and Inflammatories are the pesticides, hormones and GMO's in our food system. Many of these pesticides are known to effect the hormones of the body, especially in women, are carcinogenic, and are foreign bodies that the body deems a threat and a simulator of the inflammatory response. Sure, many of us again, can go about life consuming these with no noticeable reactions. But, over time, this stimulation can eventually cause a complete auto-immune response. Or, in the case of those in an inflammatory pattern, it can make symptoms worse and keep the cycle going.
Are you ready to make the changes to reduce your inflammation?
Over the course of the next couple of days, we will dive deeper into the above principles. My goal, as always, is to give you the tools to take charge of your own health.
This is a NEW LIFE, not a diet. There will be falls. But remember...
Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall.
Breakfast #1: Scottish Oats
Scottish Oats, are oats that have been milled into a finer (polenta like) meal. I like it's creamy, "cream of wheat" feeling. Oats are often hard on my system, and this form is much easier for me to digest.
Lunch #1: Asian Chicken Salad
4 cups Purple Cabbage, shredded
2 Carrots, julienne cut
6 Green Onions, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 head Romaine, shredded
1/2 cup packed, Cilantro, chopped
1 cup Sugar Snap Peas, chopped
In a bowl, mix all vegetables together.
2 pounds Quality Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
1/4 cup Coconut Aminos
1/8 cup Toasted Sesame seed Oil
1 tbsp Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 cup Fresh Orange Juice
3 TBSP REAL Soy Sauce/Braggs Aminos, or Coconut Aminos
1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup Toasted Sesame Seed Oil
1 TBSP Ginger, minced
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 TBSP Toasted Sesame Seeds
In a mason jar, add all ingredients and shake vigorously to mix.
Dinner #1: Chicken Avocado Soup
1 1/2 pounds of Quality Chicken Thighs, diced
1 Onion, chopped
3 cloves Garlic
Salt/Pepper to taste
1/2 tsp Cumin
3 TBSP Avocado Oil
2 Roma Tomatoes, diced
2 Avocados, diced
2 cups Kale, chopped
3 TBSP Fresh Lime Juice
1 small can Green Chilies
8 cups Homemade Chicken Broth
1/3 cup Cilantro, chopped
In a large stock pot over medium heat, add Avocado Oil, Onions, and Garlic. Saute until fragrant, add chicken, season generously with salt and pepper, add cumin and cover. Stir frequently and cook until thoroughly cooked. Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, and a good amount of juice has formed, pour in Chicken Broth, and add in Green Chilies. Bring to a simmer. Add the Kale, and cook until wilted. Add in the Tomatoes, Avocados, and Lime Juice. Heat and serve, top with fresh Cilantro. Top with your favorite salsa, or quality, cultured sour cream.
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