Do you drink coffee? Make it cold-brewed and add butter!

free NA coffee-date-couple- Matthew Henry - burst.shopify.com:photos:coffee-date-coupleCoffee is more than just a morning ritual. It’s a delicious medicine that humans have been enjoying since the thirteenth century. As one of the best sources of antioxidants, coffee helps eliminate excess free radicals, which cause inflammation and cell damage.

However, the wrong coffee prepared with too much heat can detract from both the tasty pleasure and robust health benefits. For example: heat causes aromatic oils to cook away or become rancid & inflammatory, acidic compounds can damage your teeth and stomach lining, caffeine can overwork the adrenal glands and disturb precious sleep, toxins from pesticides poison your cells and flavorings add refined sugar, synthetic chemicals and fat-substitutes.

What follows is an article I wrote, which was published by Augusta Free Press:

Continue reading “Do you drink coffee? Make it cold-brewed and add butter!”

High blood sugar is only good for vampires

Vampires love it when you have high blood sugar… but your body would prefer you to be less sweet. Glucose, the blood sugar molecule, is very abrasive, like a balled up piece of sand paper. If it’s allowed to slosh around in your bloodstream for too long, it scratches away and causes inflammation.
(This is why someone with long-term, untreated Diabetes is at risk of blindness, cardiovascular disease and amputation of the fingers/toes and hands/feet. The tiny capillaries in these areas are more easily damaged when scrubbed at by glucose.)
If you have high blood sugar, you’re at risk for developing Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes. Even though everyone else is doin’ it, you do not want either condition.
It’s important to go on a fact-finding mission and determine the root cause. It’s ideal to look at all of these tests at once, rather than make any decisions on one alone. But, I do not recommend doing the OGTT in a doctor’s office- do it more safely and inexpensively at home (see instructions below)! Then, depending on the cause, the solution is simple.
There are three main tests physicians use to measure at blood sugar, plus one less-used one:
  1. Fasting blood glucose
  2. Hemoglobin A1c
  3. Fructosamine
  4. Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)

Fasting blood glucose is the least sensitive screening for diabetes, yet it is used the most! It provides no indication of how food is influencing the blood sugar/insulin response. Also, it will be higher in those on a low carb diet (like Paleo) for at least a couple months.

Hemoglobin A1c as a high likelihood of being misleading for many reasons- some people’s red blood cells live longer than others, many people have subclinical anemia, many people are chronically dehydrated and some have genetic flaws that affect hemoglobin synthesis.
  • For example, red blood cells in people with diabetes turn over faster, which means they have less of a chance to bind to sugar and result in a falsely low A1c.

Fructosamine is not as popular, but you can ask your doctor for it. It represents blood sugar for the previous 2-3 weeks.

Oral Glucose Tolerance Test (OGTT), aka. post-meal blood sugar, provides information about how much glucose is circulating in the blood stream.

  • The test at your doctor’s lab requires that you drink 75 grams of glucose on an empty stomach, then measures your blood glucose after 1 and 2 hours. Unfortunately, this test is very artificial- no one eats 75 grams of glucose! A 12-ounce can of pop only has 20g. Also, it’s very dangerous/uncomfortable for those with poor sugar control.
  • An alternative to the standard OGTT is an at-home post-meal blood sugar test (see below for instructions).
    • It’s cheap: all equipment can be acquired for <$20 online
    • It’s convenient: can be done at home or work
    • It’s personalized: helps you determine your own carbohydrate tolerance, as well as which foods work and don’t work for you.
    • It’s safe: no dangerous/uncomfy blood sugar spikes from 75g of glucose.
    • Check in with your nutritionist or doctor to go over the values. Everyone is different so the results must be interpreted based on your history, eating habits and general health.

    You down with OGTT?*

    Before You Start:

    • Buy a glucometer and test strips.
      • Most meters are fine, just make sure the replacement test strips aren’t too pricey.
    • Print out the worksheet.

    Day One of Test: Take 5 blood sugar readings according to this schedule:

    • On the night before test day: fast for at least 12 hours.
    • Take fasting blood sugar (reading #1) upon rising.
    • Ok to sip water, not okay to eat or exercise.
    • Eat your typical breakfast.
    • Take blood sugar reading #2 just before lunch.
    • Eat your typical lunch.
    • Don’t eat or drink anything for 3 hours after lunch(not even a snack!) except for water.
    • Take blood sugar reading #3 one hour after lunch.
    • Take blood sugar reading #4 two hours after lunch.
    • Take blood sugar reading #5 three hours after lunch.
    • Eat your typical dinner.
    • Stop eating 12 hours before the first blood sugar reading on Day Two.

    Day Two of Test: Repeat Day One exactly

    • Try to eat breakfast and lunch around the same time as Day One so that the blood sugar readings are also at about the same time. It’s okay if the times are not exactly the same.
    • Stop eating 12 hours before the first blood sugar reading on Day Three.Day Three of Test: Same schedule as Days One & Two, but with a special lunch.
    • Instead of your typical lunch, eat a fast-acting carbohydrate:
      • Either a large (8-ounce) boiled potato, or 1 cup of cooked white rice.
      • Do not eat any fat with the potato or rice.
    • Take the same readings (one right before lunch and three after lunch at hours 1, 2 & 3).
    • Please note: If you feel uncomfortable or dizzy during the 3 hours after lunch, suspend the test and eat something!

Goal of at-home post-meal blood sugar test

  • 1 hour after lunch: <140 mg/dL an hour after a meal
  • 2 hours after lunch: drops below 120 mg/dL
  • 3 hours after lunch: returns to baseline (what it was before lunch)

 *Instructions adapted from Chris Kresser


What do you do if you have high blood sugar?

  • The simple solution is a low-carb diet. Don’t go hog-wild and eat nothing but meat, because your diet needs to be balanced! Carbs are required for energy and to feed the trillions of bacteria living in your body. It’s ideal to completely eliminate refined foods (sugar, flour, vegetable oils), but if some sneaks in, it’s okay. Some people can get all the carbs they need from vegetables, but most of us need to toss in some roots and tubers. I like to suggest reframing carbs and aim to use them as a condiment.
  • If your diet is already low-carb, there’s some more investigation to be had.

Statins are not the Answer.

With all due respect to practitioners who are practicing by the book, I would like to express my extreme frustration with said “book”.

The tides have officially and indisputably turned regarding cholesterol’s role in heart disease. The three important take-home facts are:
  1. Dietary cholesterol does not have a long-term impact on serum cholesterol levels.
  2. Neither dietary cholesterol nor saturated fat cause heart disease.
  3. Certain types of dense cholesterol molecules can cause disease, but they are best treated by decreasing intake of refined carbs (flour & sugar), slow-release niacin and/or lifestyle/mental-emotional changes.
  4. Bonus fact: Humans have been eating cholesterol for millennia without ill effect, but the same can hardly be said of refined flours, sugars and vegetable oils.

What conclusion do those facts point to with neon-light intensity? The necessity for statins does not match the enormity of their use. The only population for which there’s even a smidge of evidence that statins are helpful is middle-aged men who either had a heart attack or have documented heart disease.

Why is statin use a problem?

iu-2The drug has been associated with some serious side effects. Statins block the production of HMG-CoA reductase, an enzyme that kicks off downstream production of cholesterol, as well as a bunch of other important biochemicals. This stream is called the “Mevalonate Pathway,” pictured to the right.

Documented side-effects include

–> 1) Diabetes. Now, how’s that for a side effect? The FDA has required that a warning about this association be added to the drug label. This is a big deal since, in my opinion, the FDA is really far behind on a lot of equally-important details.

  • It’s not officially known why statins cause diabetes, but some believe it’s because statins decrease the body’s production of “prenylated proteins.” (Middle circle on the bottom of the Mevalonate Pathway.)
  • A detailed description of that potential connection is here.
  • More about diabetes and blood sugar here.

–> 2) Depletion of CoQ10 (middle circle on the bottom of the Mevalonate Pathway).

  • Coenzyme Q10 is required by every single cell in the body to allow mitochondria to produce ATP, which is used for energy.* What cells sweat harder than heart cells? …Well, some liver cells actually do, but the heart works very hard and needs that ATP!
  • Less ATP = less ability to do work = less oxygenation of body tissues = necrotic tissue & inflammation = bad news.

*Red blood cells do not have mitochondria and, therefore do not make ATP, but they may use CoQ10 for something else!

–> 3) Impaired memory,aka “transient global amnesia.

  • An agile memory requires a healthy brain, and guess what the brain is partly comprised of. Guess… cholesterol!
  • Add this to the fact that many people limit eggs and other animal products because of the cholesterol those foods contain… guess what these foods also provide. Vitamin B12, which is necessary for the formation of myelin sheaths, which insulate nerve cells and allow them to fire.

–>4) Muscle degeneration, aka rhabdomyolysis. Some doctors say they can tell who’s been on statin drugs for a while just by watching them walk. Often the calf muscles are the victims of statin-induced muscle damage. This condition results when the muscles literally fall apart. Breakdown products of muscle are really hard on the kidneys and can cause kidney failure. Rhabdomyolysis can be caused by many different things, including physical trauma (including from extreme exercise) and infection. A tell-tale sign is brown urine, but it does not occur for all affected people.

Statins do confer a benefit for some people… but not from their interference with the body’s production of cholesterol! What statins seem to offer is an anti-inflammatory effect (by inhibiting NF-kB). However, statins aren’t the only thing that can lower inflammation! There are plenty of natural solutions to inflammation that lack serious side effects:

  • Hydration with clean water with a pinch of sea salt (for those few who are not salt-sensitive)
  • Plants like nettles, turmeric, black cumin seed oil and boswelia serrate. (But don’t take these every single day for the longterm. Three days on and three or four days off is a good policy, otherwise they will begin to have a negative effect.)
  • Proper balance between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids (decrease vegetable oil and supplement with anchovies, sardines or fish oil supplements)
  • Low-refined-carb diet (decreased flour and sugar, consistent intake of high-quality, clean protein)
  • Avoiding nutrient deficiencies with a lab test.
  • Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and being hyper-aware of gratitude.

So, then with what claws are statin drugs still clinging to our doctors’ consciousnesses, posturing in their treatment protocols and scratching themselves onto prescription pads? Fear. Fear, and the difficulty/inconvenience of diet, lifestyle and metal-emotional change.

  • Doctors should know better, but should their patients be expected to doubt their validity and double-check their advice? Even if someone does branch out and do their own research, the majority of any Google searching will produce conventional advice that runs counter to the more enlightened, cutting-edge, scientifically-based information upon which this blog post is based.
  • To learn the truth, patients must know where to find it! Or, they will learn it through an informed friend/loved-one… or maybe even by overhearing strangers talk about it in an elevator.
  • As doctors’ patients become better informed and learn the backstory, which I’ve tried to provide above, they will refuse to participate in the statin ruse and will let their bodies celebrate their Mevalonate Pathway like it’s 2999– I just hope it doesn’t take that long…

Want some practical information so that you can take action?

How to test for cholesterol:

1) Run multiple tests. The values measured by lipid panels will vary because the physiological processes they measure are dynamic. Therefore, before getting freaked out by your numbers– and especially before taking any drug-related action, you should wait a couple weeks and run the tests again.
2) Don’t buy into the ranges suggested by the labs! Work with a practitioner who has a handle on the reality of cholesterol and who does not have a trigger-happy statin-prescribing finger.
  • The suggestion that normal total cholesterol is between 100 and 199 mg/dL is out-of-the-park INSANE. The only reason I can think of that people okayed that range is that they, themselves have cholesterol levels of between 100 and 199… or they’re on the statin payroll.
  • A total cholesterol level lower than 250 has been associated with mental health disorders such as, mild to severe depression, suicide, poor impulse control, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, aggression and general, no-good, criminal behavior (see references below). Cholesterol down, road rage up? …Something to think about.
  • …And don’t even get me started on the suggestion of some to give statins to children, who need cholesterol to build their brains and eyeballs, and create hormones, which direct their growth and maturation!
3) Consider digging into your cholesterol values a little more deeply. A couple tests are available that measure your lipid particle size. The smaller the cholesterol molecule, the more dangerous it is. For example, high numbers of a low-density LDL should create zero concern, whereas higher-density molecules would warrant further investigation.
  • Some say these labs are not helpful because they differ each time you take them and can be replaced by simple questions about your health history. But, if your insurance company covers it, more info used in the context of your entire health picture can’t ever hurt!
  • Lipid Particle Profile (LPP) measures various different subsets of cholesterol. You can get the supplies for this test kit during your nutrition session at BuzzNutrition.
  • A Vertical Auto Profile (VAP) is something your doctor can order for you– or you can order it yourself through a site like, DirectLabs.com (search for “VAP”).
  • If low-density cholesterol is found to be an issue, statins are not the answer! There is no link between statins and a decrease in this type of cholesterol (called Lp(a), “el pee little a”). Rather, decrease in refined carbs and/or no-flush niacin are the ways to go.

My two cents on statins

With no disrespect to any doctor who is trying their best to help their patients: using a statin to force total cholesterol lower than 250 mg/dL, in anyone other than a older man with confirmed heart disease, is malpractice. The anti-inflammatory benefits that statins confer are not nearly worth their side effects, especially since so many natural substances and food/lifestyle choices are safely anti-inflammatory. Furthermore, treating so-called high cholesterol without seeking out the root cause is against the Hippocratic Oath to “do no harm.” High cholesterol is an indication that there is inflammation in the body. The body makes cholesterol to lower inflammation and protect from its damage. It’s like a healing salve. Forcing the body to stop making cholesterol removes its ameliorative effects PLUS does nothing to solve the fundamental problem. Without addressing the root cause, the fire will continue to burn and the body will continue to suffer.

 

References

These excellent articles by Chris Kresser provide general backstory, studies and explanation of why cholesterol and saturated fat do not cause heart disease:
 Regarding the connection between cholesterol and mental health (gleaned with gratitude from robbwolf.com):

How well can your body detoxify?

free NA pollution smog detox by Foto-Rabe on pixabayThere are many aspects related to detoxification, one of which is your HLA haplotype.

If your DNA is flawed in certain genes, you may be less able to detoxify and more susceptible to certain triggers, such as mold and Lyme bacteria and confections. If you’re curious, you can test for these genes, but a better first step might be supporting your body nutritionally, implementing some basic binders to remove toxins and testing for which foods cause your body to become inflamed (elimination diet) or other underlying causes. Then, if you are still stumped as to what is causing your symptoms, an HLA Haplotype test might be helpful.

What are HLA Haplotypes?

  • HLA stands for Human Leukocyte Antigen.
  • A haplotype is a set of genes on the chromosomes in DNA.
  • HLA haplotypes code for proteins on the outer portion of immune cells, namely those involved in antibody formation. (Antibodies help a body differentiate between “self” and “non-self”.)
  • Normally, when a body sees something that is “non-self”, like a toxin or bacterium, it launches an attack. (See an immune cell chase and attack a bacterium in this amazing video)
  • But, in some bodies, the coding in one or more HLA haplotypes are flawed. This makes it harder for an immune cell to recognize toxins as foreign invaders and launch an attack.

 

Associated Lab Tests

 

Interpretation

  • Reference the HLA Rosetta Stone created by Ritchie Shoemaker of SurvivingMold.com.
  • Google HLA and “Mold Warriors” for a number of forums to which fellow HLA testers have posted requests and offers of help.
  • Call (800)533-1037 for Doctor Uve Heine, LabCorp’s resident expert on interpretation of HLA.

 

Treatment

It’s imperative to mop up accumulated biotoxins. This lightens the body’s toxic load and frees up its resources to fight the Lyme/co-infection.

Supplements

  • High-dose chlorella
    • Take 12g/day total: 4 grams, 3 times/day, 30 minutes before meals.
    • High doses are okay because chlorella is a food.
    • Low doses mobilize toxins and metals but don’t bind them all, whereas high doses can bind more and pull them out of the body.
    • Also effective for heavy metal removal.
    • After a few months on this dose, a lower maintenance dose can be taken… some believe that in this toxic world we live in, chlorella detox should be a lifelong practice.
  • Other binders: Activated charcoal, bentonite clay, fruit pectins, Alkaseltzer Gold, shilajit.

Drugs

  • Cholestyramine & Actos
    • Less desirable than supplements since they come along with side-effects + exhaust the liver and kidneys.
    • When taking cholestyramine, the diet should be supplemented with cholesterol (egg yolks, butter, fatty fish and liver).
    • Avoid brand names that contain aspartame: Questran Light & Prevalite. Plain Questran and generic cholestyramine do not.

Image by Foto-Rabe

What’s your weak link?

Why is that when we both drink wine, you get a headache, but I feel woozy and get a stomach ache?

The answer: Biochemical Individuality, aka. We’re all different!


Okay, so then why is it that Hank over there can drink an entire bottle of wine and feel nothing?

Answer: Toxic Load. Some bodies can handle more toxins than others. If the body is like a sawhorse and toxins are like bricks, the more toxins you stack, the less stable the foundation.

Take away toxins and you’ll feel better… if not, we should have a conversation, because maybe your body isn’t very good at clearing toxins…

(These are both excerpts from my online class, Get Out of the Gluten Glut.)

 

Teasing out Food Sensitivities

free NA rope knot detox TanteTati on pixabayFood sensitivities are different than food allergies. Food sensitivities are reactions to the body’s environment and can change over time, whereas food allergies are there to stay for life.

There are two kinds of inflammation: macro and silent. Macro inflammation happens when you sprain your ankle or wrench your back. It’s characterized by 4 adjectives: red, swollen, painful, and hot. These qualities are uncomfortable, but allow immune cells to get to the site of injury to fight infection and clean up debris. Your immune cells do this by squirting noxious substances like bleach, hydrogen peroxide and superoxide dismutase. This creates some collateral damage to nearby healthy tissue, but when you rest your ankle or back the inflammation calms, everything heals up and returns to normal.

…But, what if you go play basketball every day with your injury? The inflammation will never calm, and the sprain will never heal… in fact, it will get worse!

The other kind of inflammation, silent inflammation, is exactly the same, except it manifests on a cellular level. Instead of big swaths of cells in your back or ankle becoming inflamed, teensy smidges of cells get red, swollen, painful and hot… but since this is happening on such a small scale, you don’t feel the pain or heat… the inflammation is silent. Same deal: collateral damage occurs, but once the inflammation calms everything gets back to normal.

…But what if you continue to do whatever is causing the inflammation? The inflammation will “go chronic” and cause other problems in your body!

The root cause of silent inflammation can be many different things. It can be an environmental toxin, an infection or imbalance in your gut’s microflora, extreme and relentless emotion or a food sensitivity or allergy. It’s important to significantly decrease or eliminate exposure to the trigger, otherwise the body will not heal.

Eliminate/Challenge

If your inflammation is being triggered by a food sensitivity, sometimes you can guess what it is (or there may be more than one). Start with one or more of the biggies: wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, nuts/seeds, fish/seafood. Eliminate them one at a time or go for the gold and eliminate them all at once.

Eliminate your chosen foods for at least two weeks because that’s how long it takes to get them out of your system and allow your body to heal. The general suggestion is two weeks, but you really should stay off the foods until you have gone two to three days without symptoms.

Then comes the Challenge part: add one of the foods back in and wait. Eating your “challenge food” a couple times in one day, then stop eating it again for 2-3 days. This is timing is important because food reactions can come about anywhere from 30 minutes to 36 hours after exposure. (You don’t want to waste the time and effort of the Elimination phase.)

If this Challenge results in any symptoms (digestive symptoms, headaches, energy changes, you name it), it is suspect. Now, it’s up to you what you do, but I suggest continuing to eliminate it, while you investigate any other foods.

Don’t skip this crucial step!

In the meantime, it’s crucial that you maintain a Food Journal. Otherwise, you’ll never be able to keep track of all the variables you’re working with! Keep in mind, your symptoms and general disposition is affected by much more than what you chew and swallow. Sleep quality, weather, monthly cycles for women and the influence of the moods of those who are close to you– all these things make an impact.

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What if you successfully execute a strict Elimination/Challenge trial, but you still don’t feel better.

You might want to spring for some Mediator Release Testing, aka. MRT Food Inflammation blood test. This test is not 100% accurate (no food allergy/sensitivity test is), but it is more accurate then any of the others that are out there, AND it can save you lots of time.

If you were to Eliminate/Challenge the 150 foods that are tested by the MRT, you would be at it for… (2 weeks x 150 foods) + 2-3 days post-challenge + unknown time of re-elimination =  a long, long time. Imagine your triggers were turmeric, black pepper, peaches and pecans. It would take years of careful experimentation to determine that without the help of a Food Psychic, Intestine Whisperer, Stomach Sage, Colon Communicator, or Mediator Medium.

The results of this test are not a life sentence without that particular food. As described above, once a trigger is removed, inflammation calms and tissues heal. Sometimes a food will 100% cause inflammation instantly and wildly no matter what. But often, food sensitivities are a confluence of various events, involving hormones, states of mind, environmental impacts and toxic load. That is to say, you might be able to eat that food again– maybe not every day, but maybe once or twice a week! Food sensitivities are not the same as food allergies (which are for life and can be quite dangerous).
–>

What if you do all this, more and still don’t resolve your symptoms?

This is not uncommon. I’m not saying that to be pessimistic or defeatist, just to manage your expectations. Perhaps someone has a genetic predisposition to be more battered by toxins than someone else (such as MTHFR or certain HLA haplotypes). And/or, perhaps someone has a pretty serious imbalance in their gut flora. (One of the major purposes of our flora is to pre-digest our food and render toxins inert (by ‘swallowing’ them). We don’t give these little dudes enough credit.) In this case, a high-quality probiotic and even a fecal transplant may be in order.

Image by Tantetati @ pixabay.com/en/rope-knot-dew-close-knotted-970023/

The importance of being earnest about eating locally

Today we have conveniences that are almost ridiculous. Pineapples in November? Strawberries all year round? Is that really necessary? More importantly, is that healthy?

A couple thoughts about Eating Locally

I heard a story once that I’ve had trouble confirming. I’m pretty sure it’s true, but let’s just call it an allegory:

Once in a mountainous Eastern European village, people looked forward to the three weeks per year that a delicious edible mushroom would grow. They ate these mushrooms with glee until their poop smelled weird and then had a party when the last few remained. One year, a very smart young man figured out how to grow the mushrooms all year round in a greenhouse-type contraption. The village rejoiced and got their palates prepared for the joy of having this food every day! After three months of the extended mushroom season, people started getting sick with nausea, diarrhea, horrible skin rashes and splitting headaches. But those few who didn’t like the mushrooms were just fine. The Mayor banned mushrooms as an experiment and every villager but the Santorum Family recovered. Eventually the Santorums, who weren’t very smart, admitted they’d hoarded mushrooms and had been eating them despite the ban. MORAL: Enjoy special foods when Nature serves them to you. You’re a guest and guests shouldn’t set the rules.

 

12117611021554893813johnny_automatic_farming_food.svg.medMoney-wise it’s smart to buy local food. If you spend your money in the town or city in which you live, that money might stay there and get filtered around to make your life even better. (If it goes off to another city or into the bank account of a huge company, what are you getting in return?) And if that money goes directly to a farmer at a farmer’s market or a place like The Store, you’re basically investing in more local food for later that season and/or next year. And, when there are programs like Project Grows and the VSDB Educational Farm, kids and helpful organizations can keep doing the good work they do.

 

And what about eating hyper-locally? From your back yard! Nutrients in veggies degrade over time so foods that are shipped over from New Zealand will have fewer nutrients than those from California (if you live on the East Coast), which will have fewer nutrients than foods from your local farmer… but food from your back yard reigns supreme.

PLUS, there are the mental health aspects!

  • It’s hard to argue that putting a seed in the soil and watching it grow is the kind of magic that only Harry Potter can match. It’s straight up magic. How does it work? Tiny seed turns into lettuce! Tinier seed turns into spinach? If you’re patient, exquisitely vulnerable and admirably tenacious sprout turns into a cherry tree! Talk about a way to foster gratitude and make yourself healthier!
  • The mere act of putting your hands in your dirt is like taking a chill pill. Mycobacterium vaccae, a type of bacteria that lives in compost, “acts like a mind-altering drug once it enters the human body, functioning like antidepressant pills to boost your mood“. It does this by producing serotonin!
  • Growing your own food is EMPOWERING and helps conjure a feeling of control and self-sufficiency. It’s well known that a sense of control can mitigate the effects of stress. For example, if two people have the exact triggers of stress, like having to work three jobs or live in a war-torn country, the mental effects will be less severe if they have a slight feeling of control (even if we never have control over anything but our thoughts).

 

 

Eat like your Great-Grandma did

iu-2Your genes have been in training for millions of years and each generation those ancestral nutrition lessons become more refined. The moment your very first great-great-great-great-parents ate their first meal, your body started learning what kinds of foods it needs to earn a grade of A++ in Feel Healthy School. Your DNA has been configured to function ideally when fed in a specific way.

Up until the time humans started moving around and intermingling with other tribes, it was easy to pick the healthiest foods… Nature was the grocery store, restaurant and Seven-Eleven!

Since humans switched from hunting & gathering to agriculture (only 10,000 years ago), food has changed dramatically. Our bodies have not had a chance to catch up to digesting processed grains, pasteurized dairy, refined fats and truckloadsfull of refined sugar.

Eating foods other than those our cells have been trained to crave, combined with the stress of this modern world, can easily add up to discomfort and disease unlike any of our ancestors have ever experienced. Too many modern foods can short-change you on your built-in capacity for health.
It’s best to focus on plants (greens and tubers), saturated fats, animals (grown with care and without hormones and antibiotics) and a smattering of nuts and seeds. Some people can tolerate grains, but they should ideally be soaked/toasted. And it’s ideal to keep Gluten to a minimum.
Resources:

Curious about the size of a cell?

You are made up of about 70 trillion cells. 70 TRILLION!!! It’s impossible to fathom the magnitude of that number. (But even more mind-blowing is that you are also made up of 700 trillion bacterial cells!!)

But it might help to be able to visualize the size of a single cell… of which you have 70 trillion… which is crazy!… but good because you are a complicated organism with lots to do.

Thanks to University of Utah’s Genetic Science Learning Center for this wonderful resource. You can see the size of a cell, the components inside a cell, an egg & sperm and some microorganisms, all the way down to a carbon atom… in which there are electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks, leptons, bosons and maybe even the entire galaxy of a distant planet.

 

You = Bed & Breakfast

Do you ever have the feeling that you’re not alone? I mean, like you are not alone in your body. …Like it’s not just you in there. Wait– don’t click away! I’m not proposing any alien conspiracy theories… I’m telling you that you are literally only 10% yourself.

Let’s do that math. Your body is made up of 70 trillion cells but inside and on your body you have 700 trillion bacterial cells… 70 trillion is 10% of 700 trillion… so are you?… could you be?… is it true that you’re only 10% human? Yup.

You, my friend, are a walking talking Bed and Breakfast for bacteria, yeast, fungi, parasites and viruses.

NO! Don’t reach for the Purell! Put that crap down! You don’t want to kill these guys… You want these symbiotic creatures because you would be a goner without them!!! When on board, beneficial microbes do their best to ensure our health. But when we don’t have the good guys, both opportunistic microbes and health problems bloom.

Guess what: the dry weight of a turd is 80% microbial bodies and 20% fiber and undigested stuff. Thank goodness we’ve got a lot of microbes in us because if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be able to poop!

 

Where did these microbes come from? Our first dose came from Mom’s vaginal canal and some fecal matter that got mixed up in the whole experience (Oh, grow up guys.) Our later doses came from her skin, breast milk, household pets, farm animals and all the toys we chewed on and square feet of the floor that we licked with gusto.

 

patrick-stewart-knightedAt age two, this “microbial community” becomes our “Microbiome.” This shift is more than just syntax. It’s a status change bestowed by the immune system. And, it is pretty much exactly like when the Queen knights someone: an extraordinary person gains a new name (Sir or Dame), as well as a new air about them. At age two, the immune system views the Microbiome as a valid presence that it will not attack. These microbes are considered to be part of Self, like your liver, but dispersed throughout your body. (Though, just like Sir Patrick Stewart, these beneficial organisms are blindingly glorious regardless of nomenclature.)

That said, scientists, authors and practitioners sometimes make stuff up (ex. “drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water per day” is hogwash). So, after age two, it’s possible that other microbes gain a permanent safe harbor in our body’s ecosystem. But, as evidenced by the concept of an infection, the body will not allow just any microbe to acquire significant real estate.

As life goes on, we get many of our microbes from the surfaces of our fruits and vegetables. Where do they come from? From the air and soil. What happens when you eat foods from different regions and countries? You introduce different varieties of microbes into your body. Is that bad? I honestly don’t know. But for a lot of other reasons, eating locally is a great idea.

What do our beneficial microbes to for us? Well. How much time do you have? They do a lot:

  • Assist in digestion by breaking food apart (imagine lego structures being disassembled)
  • Synthesize nutrients (B vitamins & vitamin K)
  • Modulate our immune system (80% of our immune system is in the tissue surrounding our intestines and that’s where most microbes live)
  • Provide a barrier between the outside world and our juicy insides. (The space inside your “Food Tube” (mouth to anus) is still the outside of your body. Gross, yes, but crucial to your health. Beneficial microbes are on the front lines where they: physically crowd out harmful microbes, change the pH of the environment so that harmful microbes cannot survive, produce fatty acids that nourish and fortify your intestinal cells & help your body’s immune cells prepare by telling them what’s up with current events.)
  • Modulate gene expression. Genes are only accessed if the environment is right. If a “bad” gene happens to be in your DNA, it doesn’t matter unless the environment is right for it to be expressed. Beneficial microbes are one of many environmental variables that encourage potentially harmful genes to remain unused.
  • Support mental health (Ex. Some serotonin is produced by our brains, where it’s used to promote serenity, but most is made in our guts, where it triggers peristalsis to push food and waste through our system. Probiotics maintain healthy intestinal tissue to make all this possible.)
  • Help us poop (the dry weight of a turd is 80% microbial bodies and 20% fiber and undigested stuff)
  • Much, much more.

Sorry to say but if you were born via C-section, were fed formula, had a super clean house with no pets, were bathed in Purell and ate only processed foods, you’re at a major disadvantage and might want to go buy and mainline a few bottles of excellent probiotics ASAP. And, if you have a nagging or serious health issue, you might even consider a fecal transplant!

This is why you are not alone, and why that body you’re walking around in is a mere 10% human. You host a thriving community of vivacious organisms who want nothing but for you to survive, because if you falter, where will they live and what will they eat? Next time you have a quiet moment, you might consider closing your eyes and saying hi to them all. Yes, I admit that I’m a little crazy to suggest that you talk to 700 trillion microbes with your mind. But, they are talking about you and to you all the time. When bacteria reach a certain number, they begin to communicate. It’s called Quorum Sensing and is discussed in this fascinating, easily-digestible TED Talk by Bonnie Bassler. Why not talk back?

If some of your crew is misbehaving (dysbiosis, overgrowth of candida, constipation, diarrhea, food sensitivities, skin problems), come see me. We’ll all sit down and have a talk. There might be some resistance when you go about evicting any opportunistic guests. Candida, for example, can produce chemicals that are similar to your own body’s signals that urge you to eat more carbs, or feel sad and slow. But we’ll talk about ways to make the transition easier. Breakups are always tough and this type is no exception.

There are many things you can do to support your Microbiome, but the first and most important is to feed them right. These microbes are all about fiber, fiber, fiber. (In supplement speak, this fiber is called “prebiotics.”) Green leafies & root veggies are the favorites of the microbes you want around. Whole grains also provide the fiber that they like, though grains are inflammatory for many humans even when they’re soaked. If someone is on a high-protein, low-carb diet and feels cruddy over time, it might be because they’re not eating enough carbs to fuel their Microbiome.

Refined flour and sugar are the favorite foods of microbes that are harmful in high numbers– to be clear, these microbes are not bad unless their populations surge. And, get this: many bacteria can replicate in 20 minutes!! So, here’s a disturbing thought: you eat bread, the bad buggers feast and in 20 minutes after that bread hits your colon, you have twice as many buggers as before! Eventually it looks like a frat house down there. If this image encourages you to cut out some bread/pasta/flour-products, that’s a great experiment to try! But, remember you’ll be removing food from ravenous microbes… they will complain… and they can make you feel like you’re craving bread. You’re not. They are! Also, very importantly: In order to keep on taking the bears to the woods, you’ll want to eat fiber from green leafy veggies.