Supporting A Fever

How is it already back to school season? I have absolutely loved seeing my friends kids in their first day of school outfits on Facebook – their smiles are so big with excitement for the new year. There is one downfall to the new school year that most parents loathe – the dreaded cold season.

A combination of air-conditioning (which depresses the immune system), being crammed into a classroom, and not enough fresh air, healthy food, or water, all play a role in a child coming down with a cold. That being said, a good cold – like a really, really good cold and one that develops a fever once or twice a year is a good thing to keep the immune system active, strong, and dialed in. To go years without a cold or, on the opposite end, to spend all of winter perpetually sick isn’t good, it’s a sign that the immune system does not know how to properly respond to pathogens.

What can you do if your child DOES come down with a fever? I know that when I was growing up, Children’s Tylenol was my parent’s go-to. The doctor even suggested it! Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and other name and generic brands, has been implicated in liver damage, liver failure, and death, when used incorrectly (and depending on your medical presentation, there is no determining amount it seems). Families with MTHFR genetic mutations should use caution – those with MTHFR already have impaired detoxification. Acetaminophen has also been linked to reduced testosterone in in-utero baby boys and a link between its use and autism when given after the MMR vaccine.

So, what can you do to support your child? As a nutritionist, I’m a fan of a well-balanced diet with lots of green leafy veggies (don’t blame the messenger), bone broth, organ meats (you can mix one pound of grass-fed ground beef in with 1/4 pound of pureed organic chicken livers), limited sugar, NO processed food, and healthy fats. I know, I know. “But my kid will flip out if I try to get them to eat that way, it’s just not reasonable.” My only advice – remember, you’re the parent, stick to your guns. Our children deserve the right to be healthy and grow up into thriving adults.

Before I list my favorite ways to monitor a fever, fevers are actually healthy! For years, I was unable to develop a fever – a sign that my body’s immune system was challenged in coming online when I needed it. I remember a few years back, I had a strong wintertime bug. And I had a fever. I probably checked my temp every 5 minutes. And cried tears of joy. Why? Because it was a sign that my body was healing. A fever means that your body can elicit a strong immune response against an invading pathogen. So, riding a fever out can actually be a good thing (again, monitoring it so it doesn’t get dangerously high). 

Here’s a little nice tip: These remedies are GREAT for adults, too!

 Note: The information in this post is not to be confused with medical information, as given to you by your doctor. If you have any questions, please consult your doctor or medical professional. You are the parent, you know if your child’s condition is not improving and if medical help is needed. If your child’s fever is not managing well and is at a dangerously high temperature, please seek immediate medical attention.

 

My Favorite Methods to Support a Fever:

  • Cold Sock Therapy
    I love this method. It’s simply miserable but it works well. Get a pair of 100% cotton socks wet and throw them in the freezer until they’re good and cold. Peel two cloves of garlic. Once the socks are good and cold (not frozen… but very, very cold), place a clove of garlic in the foot and put the socks on. Over those cold, wet cotton socks, place a pair of thick wool socks. Do this nightly, starting with the first signs of a cold, for three nights in a row.
  • Sleep
    This one is a given. Let your child rest when they need to rest. Take away the blue screens – they signal the brain to stay awake. I know. Being sick is no fun.
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin C and Selenium
    Vitamin A is depleted in the urine during acute infections. Cod liver oil is a a wonderful balance of Vitamins A and D and is in a usable form. Most supplements out on the market for Vitamin A are synthetic. I’ll do a post on the dangers of synthetic form of Vitamin A later on but for now, take my word for it. Vitamin A and D need each other. Like Bert and Ernie. So, taking it in the form of cod liver oil (I like Nordic Naturals for children), is a good way to go. Vitamin C – it’s an antioxidant. We’ve all heard about the wonders of it. A bit of organic rose hips, steeped in hot water for about 10 minutes. Add some local raw honey to the tea prior to giving it to them and make sure it is a luke-warm temperature. Selenium is very important in fever moderation. A study from 2015 found an association between hemorrhagic fever and its occurrence in selenium-deficient populations. Sardines and Brazil Nuts are particularly high in selenium. Making a sardine salad (much like you would make a tuna fish salad) is a great way to hide those little fishes. (I prefer Wild Planet Sardines.) Supplementation can also be used. An aqueous selenium can be easily administered to a small child, who cannot swallow small pills.
  • Lots of fluids
    Yea, yea, yea. We’ve heard this one before. But, how many of us have given fluids that are actually diuretic? Giving a child hydrating fluids is very important. Filtered water, bone broth, a bit of filtered water with a pinch of pink Himalayan sea salt for minerals, and 4 oz of lemon water with 1 tbsp of lemon juice (can further dilute if needed) are all going to help nourish their little body. Soda, ginger ale, Sprite, 7-Up, Gatorade, Powerade, juice, Pedialyte, etc., further deplete the body of necessary nutrients to help them bounce back.
  • Fire Cider
    Mix 1/2 tbsp (for small children) and 1 tbsp (for larger children) with a bit of local, raw honey to taste and filtered water. This stuff will literally kill anything on site… or so I am convinced. Find my recipe here. 
  • Yarrow Tincture
    If you’ve never seen yarrow, it’s the cover photo of this article. Yarrow tincture is a wonderful supplement to keep on hand at all times. You can harvest yarrow from the mountains, where you know there has been no spraying or, you may order it from a reputable herb shop.To make the tincture, put the flower heads in a mason jar. Cover with 80 (or 100) proof alcohol — I use a lower-shelf vodka. Seal with a lid. Allow to steep for 4 weeks in a cool, dark area, shaking the jar daily. Strain with a fine mesh strainer. Preserve the now yellow liquid in a dark colored glass jar in a cool, dry place, away from light.During a fever, mix warm filtered water with 1 teaspoon in 1/2 a glass of water (small children should use 1/2 teaspoon) and drink up to 3 times a day. The warm water will help to increase the flushing action of the herb.  This tricks your body into acting as if the fever has broken and speeds your immune system to finish the healing.

And, above all – make sure to smother your child with love and affection and attention. Nothing beats the nurturing a loving parent can provide.

 

 

How to Fight the Smoke from Summer Fires

August in the Pacific Northwest, while beautiful, usually means forest fires. Lots and lots of forest fires. While these are necessary to our area’s ecology, it can be most troublesome for many who have respiratory difficulties… and the rest of us who are so used to breathing the sweet, sweet mountain air. Please remember to keep our wildland firefighters and those displaced by the fires in your thoughts and prayers.

 

There are 8 easy things you can do to protect your family from the smoke exposure.

  1. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and antioxidants help combat free radical damage. Rose hips, lemon or lime water (made with fresh, organic fruit), and acerola cherries are all good sources of Vitamin C. For the rose hips, I like to steep them for 10 minutes in hot water and drink the tea. Vitamin E also helps protect the body from widespread pollution. A good quality tocopherol, NOT one found at a common pharmacy, vitamin shop, and certainly never generic, will be of great benefit. You can find an adequate quality Vitamin E at a natural foods store (ask their specialist for help) or email me for recommendations.
  2. Vitamin B rich foods, such as pasture-raised egg yolks and liver. They will help support the adrenals (along with Vitamin C) in times of increased stress to the body.
  3. Extra fatty acids. I know I talk about the necessity of fatty acids (you should really look into my Restart Program offerings). Increasing them during times of increased pollution will help keep your lungs healthy during smoke exposure. Wild caught fish, flax seeds (raw and ground in a dedicated grinder), coconut oil, extra virgin and cold pressed olive oil, evening primrose oil, chia seeds, and hemp hearts are all good sources.
  4. Cod Liver Oil. Really this one should have been first. It’s one of the first things that I recommend to my clients. A good quality cod liver oil will help supply the perfect balance of Vitamins A and D, which strengthen the immune system, and omega-3 fatty acids, a very effective anti-inflammatory agent. Make sure to take it with a meal for best digestion and absorption.
  5. Mineral Rich Foods. Mineral rich green leafy veggies have never been more important. Okay. That’s a lie. They’re important just about every day. With every meal because they provide us with so many nutrients. Just make sure they’re organic! Homemade bone broth and stocks, made from pasture-raised animals, kelp and brown seaweed, and organ meats all provide wonderful sources of minerals. And, when in doubt, a pinch of pink Himalayan salt in your water (not so much that it tastes like the salt water you would gargle with), will help increase your mineral status.
  6. The Neti Pot. I never said this list was only food based. A neti pot, used properly, will help clean the sinuses of any residue and debris from the smoke, allowing sinus passageways to not be as inflamed. Neti pots can safely be used twice a day during increased pollution to help keep things clean. A plastic neti pot system can be purchased from many local pharmacies, or you can buy a pretty sustainable ceramic pot from your local health food store or co-op.
  7. Water. This should really go without saying but, drinking filtered WATER (no additives) will help keep your body hydrated and provide a way to filter out the toxins. If you find yourself rushing to the bathroom too often, take a look at the salt suggestion in #4.
  8. Rest. As tempting as it might be (and I was tempted today to go for a nice long bike ride), now is not the time to over-exert yourself by training for your couch-to-5k or the next decathlon. Even you morning power walkers and leisure strollers should allow your body the time it needs to rest… which allows your body time to strengthen and heal and detox.

For more answers to questions you may have, please feel free to email me.

 

 

FIre Cider

Fire Cider

mom first told me about fire cider. I was over at my parents’ house and was complaining about a sore throat. She handed me a bottle of liquid that smelled awful and instructed me to take a teaspoon. She didn’t tell me what was in it. Just to drink it. So I did (because it’s my mom). The taste wasn’t as bad as I thought. But I like garlic. A lot. A few more doses and my sore throat was gone and I was feeling back to my old self.

What was this liquid concoction? Fire Cider. It’s a popular folk remedy, inspired by the work of Rosemary Gladstar (an awesome herbalist from New England), that’s really easy to make. A few key ingredients, a month of sitting, and you have yourself a beverage that’s going to do wonders with either warding off a cold or helping get rid of it at the first signs of illness. And, with looking at all of the ingredients, it’s no wonder it’s called fire cider!

Fire Cider

  • 1/2 cup grated organic ginger
  • 1 organic orange, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic chopped horseradish root (This will open your sinuses when you chop it – be prepared!)
  • 1 organic lemon, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 2 medium organic onions, chopped
  • 10 organic garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 organic jalapeno, sliced thin
  • 3 tbsp dried organic rosemary
  • 1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder
  • 1 organic lime, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • organic raw apple cider vinegar
  • raw local honey, to taste
  1. Stuff ingredients into a half-gallon jar, putting the roots on the top to hold the roots down below the vinegar line.
  2. Pour organic raw apple cider vinegar over everything, working out air bubbles and submerging everything.
  3. Put a piece of parchment under the lid, if using a metal lid, or use a glass or plastic lid. Store in a dark cool place and shake daily for one month.
  4. After one month, strain out the liquid using a cheesecloth and store in a clean jar. Squeeze as much of the liquid out of the pulp as possible. Add a bit of honey to taste (I usually add no more than 1/4 cup) and stir until incorporated.
  5. Store in the refrigerator for all of winter and take 1 tbsp daily to help boost your immune system and 2-3 tbsp if you start to feel a cold coming on!

 

Common Is Not Normal

We love statistics. Okay, we may not love stats class (I cried my way through it in college), we love looking at statistics. How much alike are we to others? What percentage is voting for whom? Or not voting at all? How many women will get heart disease? Get my drift? Statistics rule our world and help us calculate what risks we may or not take.

But statistics also normalize behavior. And make us think that things that aren’t normal are.

What do I mean? For starters, over the past few decades, the incidence of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) has increased, with women now reporting PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder aka PMS on steroids). Don’t believe me? Ask women who are a few generations older than you. Chances are, they won’t remember being home from school or work for days on end with cramps. We’re told by the medical establishment that most women suffer from some level of PMS. So, all of a sudden, it’s considered a normal side effect of Aunt Flo.

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Should You Buy Detox Supplements?

It’s the New Year and the buzz word so far has been “detox” – everywhere I turn, I hear or read about it. Co-workers ask me about the best detox supplement, tea, drink, pre-made meal program and my answer often comes as a shock to them: Save your money. 

That’s right. 

Save your money. 

Or at the very least, re-appropriate your money. 

While this in vogue buzz word might make you want to rush to your local GNC to pick out the latest and greatest supplements to help you become the “new you,” this isn’t what overall healing and betterment is about. Our bodies need whole, real foods that are properly prepared and nutrient dense. We need foods that are in season and picked at the peak of ripeness. When our bodies have these nutrients, they do what they ought to do in the first place – they run as well-oiled and fine-tuned machines and they detox themselves. (Starting on a detox regimen before the body has healed or is able to reopen what is called “detox pathways” can be detrimental to overall health and small intestine healing must take place before an actual detox protocol can be started and even then, it should be done under the guidance of a healthcare professional such as a Nutritional Therapist or ND.)

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When we eat healthy fats, grass-fed/pasture-raised meats, organic fruits and veggies and rid our bodies of all of the excess crud that marketers entice us into, it’s going to clean itself out. A popular myth is that the body is imperfect and disease-prone and illness is a fact of life and that invasive, costly and starvation-type detoxification regimens are necessary. Ummm… wrong. Our bodies want to be healthy and strive for homeostasis. Eating foods that allow it to maintain balance is enough to let it relax from whatever trauma we’ve caused it and heal.  

Sometimes we need to meet one-on-one with a Nutritional Therapist to help us navigate a paradigm shift in thinking about our food, what we put in our body and how that affects our overall health. Sometimes we need a strict program such a Whole30 to challenge us to eat better and kick the crud to the curb. Other times, that’s still not enough and we need to give our bodies a helping hand and enroll in a program like RESTART Sugar Detox. RESTART is a wonderful 5-week program that helps set a change in lifestyle regarding sugar consumption through weekly “check in” meetings with other people seeking to kick their sugar habit to the curb, a built-in 21 day sugar detox and support for long-term goal setting and practical how to’s. 

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Whatever you choose to do this New Year, save your money with the cheap supplements and eat clean. Buy meats from a local farmer. Know where your food comes from. Eat organic and local fruits and veggies. Limit your sugar consumption. Make that your New Year’s Resolution. Besides, you really don’t know what you’re getting in those consumer-ready supplements found at your local supermarket or popular supplement shop.

Seasonal Allergies Got You Down?

I used to have the worst seasonal allergies. As in, I was home sick and missing school/work. At the time, I was singing in a schola (Latin/Gregorian chant/polyphony choir) where you have to sing with absolutely no vibrato and when your throat is clogged… Yea. That isn’t happening. Every year, without fail, you could count on me getting seriously ill with a sinus infection that would settle into bronchitis. Every. Single. Year.

I took all the drugs – the allergy shots, the nasal sprays, the herbs and nutritional supplements, the over-the-counter pills and various prescriptions. Nothing worked. Sure, they would put off that inevitable infection for a few weeks. But nothing was ever truly fixed. I had to settle for the fate of traveling with a box of kleenex, my tea with honey and lemon, and Sudafed for those “just in case Niagara starts flowing from my nose” moments.

Thankfully, those days are long, long gone! Sure, on heavy pollen days, I get the occasional sneeze and sniffle. But really, who doesn’t? When your black car is re-painted neon green/yellow for the day, anyone is going to be sneezing a bit.

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I’ve often wondered about our ancestors – did they suffer from seasonal allergies the same way we do today? For some, it’s just a nuisance and they can live with it. But for others, it can be a seriously debilitating ordeal and potentially life-threatening.

Things started to change the first year I went gluten-free and went on my anti-inflammation diet to help curb my “pre-Crohns’” diagnosis. I had started the diet in January and by the time nature decided to spew its sex cells into the air, my symptoms were dramatically reduced. As in, forgetting to take Zyrtec for a few weeks wasn’t harming me at all. On the really bad days, tea with honey and lemon and maybe a teaspoon of elderberry syrup was all I really needed.

I started reading up on the real cause of seasonal allergies and the answer was surprising (it went completely against everything I had learned in my science/pre-nursing degree at the state university I paid thousands of dollars to attend for four years… but I’m not bitter).

Anyway, seasonal allergies are caused by leaky gut. I know I’ve written some on that lately in my acne post.

Basically, leaky gut is the culprit for a lot of the problems with health – ranging from acne to mental issues to seasonal allergies and more.

According to Dr. Mercola, leaky gut is…

a condition that occurs due to the development of gaps between the cells (enterocytes) that make up the membrane lining your intestinal wall.  These tiny gaps allow substances such as undigested food, bacteria and metabolic wastes that should be confined to your digestive tract to escape into your bloodstream – hence the term leaky gut syndrome. Once the integrity of your intestinal lining is compromised, and there is a flow of toxic substances “leaking out” into your bloodstream, your body experiences significant increases in inflammation.

Here are a few easy tips to beat the runny nose and itchy eyes. Because. Let’s face it. No one likes dry eyes.

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Beating Seasonal Allergies

  1. Go on an anti-inflammation protocol. Work with a doctor or healthcare professional on this one as new diets should be introduced with professional help. However, avoiding foods that cause inflammation – grains (especially gluten-containing grains), processed sugar (pretty much everything except raw local honey), dairy, coffee/caffeine/soda, alcohol, non-organic foods/processed foods (to rid your body of chemicals), chocolate, nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, okra, peppers), pork, processed meats, peanuts, and shellfish/warm water fish.

    An anti-inflammation diet will help to calm the inflammatory levels in the body and get things back under control. Working with a doctor (naturopaths are good for this one), they’ll help you carefully reintroduce foods back into your diet.

  2. Increase nutrient-dense foods. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bone broth. Bone broth is high in healing minerals, vitamins and is more powerful than a store-bought multivitamin. It’s also cheaper than said multivitamin. I’m always down for the cheap side of things.

    Eating foods that are local, organic and seasonal – seasonal foods have the nutrients you need for that particular time of the year. In the spring, fresh shoots (asparagus, etc), sprouts, early spring onions (if you’re okay with FODMAPS), early spring carrots – check out a farmer’s market to see what people are picking right now and ask the farmer when they were picked. If they’ve been in a holding fridge for months on end, look elsewhere.

  3. Restore your gut flora. Bacteria is so important for your overall health however, in our sanitize everything culture, we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. We like our pasteurized, sprayed, and refrigerated foods.

    Years ago, prior to the advent of the Frigidaire, people would preserve foods for long periods of time via fermenting them. The natural bacteria (these are the good buggies that live in your gut) would go to town and pre-digest the food for you, thus making it more gentle on your digestive system and increasing your ability to absorb nutrients. Traditionally, we’re supposed to have anywhere from 3 to 5 pounds of good gut flora in our digestive tract. Unfortunately, because of our “SANITIZE ALL THE THINGS!!!!” mentality, many people living in the Western/“Civilized” world are seriously lacking in that.
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    Fermented foods are also naturally high in the B vitamins, folic acid, and enzymes. The fermenting process also unleashes vitamins into a more readily absorbable state, allowing the body, even one with a damaged gut lining, to be able to more easily absorb them. Latin American sauerkraut or traditional sauerkraut are both quick and easy ways to get those bacteria. A little bit with meals will be sufficient. Kombucha will also provide necessary bacteria back into your gut – but only 8 oz is needed per day! Other ferments such as beet kvass are also good – and the beets will give necessary support to your liver.

  4. Increase your healthy fats. Tallow (beef fat), schmaltz (chicken fat), ghee and omega-3s from cold water seafood are all great sources. Make sure that you are choosing sources that have been pasture-raised and are organic. More information on fat can be found on my post here. Also, if you’re eating organic pasture-raised meat, such as chicken thighs, keep the fat on it when cooking.
  5. Drink lots of filtered water. You will be, in effect, flushing lots of toxins out of your body with these protocols so increase your water. About half of your body weight in ounces is a daily maintenance for water intake and is a good rule of thumb for starting out. You may find that you have to urinate more regularly. Don’t let this deter you. You need to get these toxins out of your system. 

It’ll take a while for healing to begin, depending on how much damage your system has sustained. However, if you start your healing process now, by the time next spring rolls around, you should notice a lessened immune reaction.

Feel free to email me if you have any follow-up questions and cheers to your health!

Battling Acne

I’d like to say I’ve had perfect skin since I was 13. At 32 years old, I’ve spent more years with acne than without. It’s embarrassing when children and adults alike pointed out that I had spots on my face like I had never owned a mirror. I used to work in an assisted living facility when I was in college. Women would point out my acne all the time. I chalked it up to them being old and possibly senile in order to hide my hurt. Doctors had talked about putting me on birth control pills or Accutane to get rid of it – but being a bit on the crunchy side of things, I was more than happy with blemishes rather than chemicals being pumped into my body. Or at least, that’s what I told myself. Instead, invested lots of my money in concealer and heavy foundations that left my skin clamoring for oxygen. I sometimes found myself looking at other people’s complexion and wondering what it would be like to wake up in the morning and not see the latest reincarnation of Mt. Vesuvius on my face.

I’ve tried everything other than the oral or injectable drugs. I’ve done the topical RetinA treatments – they left my face red, extremely dry, blotchy, and with deep cysts. I’ve tried over-the-counter oil-free or oil-reducing or whatever other marketing gimmick they put on the label. No dice. And ProActiv? Try NoActiv.

Ultimately, since I went on GAPS and started working hard to rid my body of toxic build-up, my need for moisturizers and face tonics has reduced greatly. Now-a-days, I rarely wear foundation, only putting on a bit of blush for a pop of color and much-needed mascara (Beautycounter is my favorite) because I have blonde eyelashes. Vanity wins again. My skin is even toned and I very rarely get any flare-ups…. if at all. Anything that does surface gets a dab of tea tree essential oil at night and it’s usually gone or mostly gone by morning.

Adult acne is ultimately the result of many factors. Gut dysbiosis (an imbalance of gut microbes), liver congestion, underlying viral or bacterial infections, consuming foods that we are sensitive to, heavy metals and mineral imbalances, and increased intestinal permeability all play a contributing roll.

Here’s some things you can do to help reduce your acne:

  • Figuring out your food sensitivities and ridding it from your diet:  This has to be your first step. You can go about doing an elimination diet (The Restart Program is a great place to start) – chances are, there are other areas of your body that a sensitivity is harming and you’ll feel a lot better pretty quickly. Your skin, however, will take some time to heal (it can be months) so don’t use that as your marker.
  • Healing your gut: Now that you’ve figured out what the heck was making you sick, it’s time to do some healing. Bone broth and ferments are integral healing foods. Working with a practitioner on this one is important. There are many, many layers to healing that are more easily managed by someone else. We tend to be partial when it’s our own body. Many men and women notice a dramatic decrease in acne when they follow a paleo-type diet.
  • Cutting out carbs and increasing fats: Reducing processed foods and increasing good fats is a wonderful place to start. So is incresing your organic vegetable low-starch vegetable intake. (Again, The Restart Program dives into this in detail) Healthy fats like avocados, coconut oil, animal fats (from pasture-raised animals), cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil, pasture-raised egg yolks, ghee (clarified butter), raw flax seeds, olives, evening primrose oil, avocados, cod liver oil (Nordic Naturals is a good brand). I encourage my clients to avoid all oils that read hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated. Those two are literally killing us. Other good oils to avoid are any of the “vegetable” oils.
  • Fat as a face wash: What the what? Just like oil-pulling with coconut oil, fat pulls toxins out of your skin. I use sweet almond oil on my face. To remove eye make-up, I’ll gently massage coconut oil around the eye area and promptly follow it up with a dollop of sweet almond oil and wipe it off with a warm wet wash cloth. Beautycounter also has wonderful face washes and moisturizers. I especially like their Cleansing Balm.
  • Moisturizer: I use argan oil for a moisturizer and a rosewater hydrosol. I spray the mist on my face, let it dry and then apply the argan oil.
  • Make-up: Impurities in your make-up can also cause flare-ups. And a lot of popular brands contain toxins and heavy metals. I started carrying Beautycounter in my practice because they work so hard to avoid these toxic ingredients and they avoid chemicals that affect women’s hormones.

Getting rid of adult acne is not impossible. Cyclical hormonal acne is also not impossible. By allowing your body to heal and balance out the hormones, hormonal acne can and will be a thing of the past. If you have more questions or would like a free 30-minute consult, please feel free to contact me!

 

 

 

Eating Fat for Breakfast

I know I get a few weird looks from some of my roommates (that’s right – I see you ladies) as I’m cooking my eggs in lard every morning or when I’m dumping a tablespoon of Kerrygold butter into my coffee and blending it into a delicious smooth and creamy latte. The amount of fat I consume any given morning is enough to make my college nutrition professor cry… or rescind that A I got in her class and give me an F.

So, why do I do it? Fruity pebbles sound so much better, right? Okay, I just made myself gag.

Now, not all fat is created equal. In fact, when I use the term fat or saturated fat, I’m talking about healthy well-sourced fat. Like the stuff in this infogram below:

Okay, so now that that’s established, let’s break down why I do what I do:

  • Saturated Fat is a good source of energy. No, seriously. I know this goes against anything you’ve ever learned concerning nutrition but it’s true. Fat takes the longest time to break down in your system, giving you sustained energy throughout the day. In fact, fat provides twice the chemical energy per gram as compared to carbs and proteins.

    Think of it this way: if you eat Fruity Pebbles for breakfast, do you ever really eat the recommended daily value and feel full and have lasting energy? I mean, really? Probably not. If you’re like most people, you’ll have quite a few bowls and then half an hour later after feeling like you could run a few dozen times around the block, you have a mega sugar crash, right? Sugar breaks down immediately in our system and is used quickly as the conversion process to a usable sugar type is immediate.

    Fat on the other hand, takes lots of time and energy (I’ll touch on this one in a bit) to break down into a usable sugar that the body can metabolize. Thus, it leaves you feeling full longer and gives you more energy to seize your day.

  • It’s provides cellular protection. For all the crap that it gets, I’m always amused at the gaping holes (pun intended) in nutrition and science. Human cells need fat in order to survive. We have this thing called the lipid bi-layer, also known as a plasma membrane, that acts as the first line of defense for our cells. In other words, the plasma membrane is our cell walls (we’re not plants so technically we don’t have cell walls but you get my point).

    So the old adage “you are what you eat” rings true with this one. If you consume poor quality fats, what are you giving your cells to work with? (hint: the answer is poor quality cells) They simply don’t have the materials they need to keep a strong defense up, allowing themselves to become susceptible to mega-molecules which disrupt cellular function, disease, infection, mutation, poor cellular replication, death, etc.

  • It’s brain food. Your brain is made up of saturated fat and cholesterol. A lack of regular replenishment leads to poor brain function which leads to poor regulatory function all over the body. Brains – they’re kind of important and we really don’t want ours to be this one: 
                  

  • Vitamins, anyone? Proper fats help facilitate the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K.
  • No insulin spike to digest. I love this reason. In modern times, we’re so used to starting off our day with a massive insulin spike. Going back to my Fruity Pebbles example, starting your day off with a high-carb/sugary meal sets you off on a massive roller coaster. We’ve all experienced days of highs and lows. And they’re not fun you so know EXACTLY what I’m talking about. Eating a healthy dose of fat for breakfast keeps us on an even playing field until we’re ready to eat again. And, it will be a while – it’s noon and I’m still feeling as content as I was when I ate at 7:30 this morning.

So what’s my take home? Starting your day off with a good portion of healthy fat is not just nice (let’s face it – fat tastes good) but it’s necessary for long-term health.

I can’t leave you with all that and no information to change anything. Here’s some ideas for ways to incorporate fat into your breakfast:

  • Bulletproof Coffee
  • Half an avocado with pink salt (Note: I’ll eat a whole avocado before going to CrossFit so I have a bit of an energy boost while I’m killing it)
  • Pasture-raised corn/soy-free organic eggs… cooked in lard.
  • Pasture-raised corn/soy/hormone-free organic bacon.
  • Fatty meats – like chicken thighs… cooked in lard.

And pulling it all together, this morning I had bulletproof coffee, half an avocado, two eggs fried in lard and three slices of bacon with a healthy side of my homemade sauerkraut. This pic isn’t the best but here’s what the plate looked like.

Cheers to your health! And to enough energy and mental clarity to more than get you through your day!

Beet Kvass

I’m sure by know you’ve noticed that I’ve been on a fermenting kick… it’ll end. I promise.

… Maybe.

Truth is, having a healthy gut is going to let you absorb the nutrients you’re taking in so much better. I can give you recipes that are “this”-free or “that”-free but if you haven’t given your gut time to heal, given it the nutrients that the body needs to facilitate healing and have repopulated it with healthful bacteria, all of that is for naught. So my latest ferment: Beet Kvass. Sounds tasty, doesn’t it? (Kidding.) It’s definitely an acquired taste and the first few times you make it, you probably won’t like it. But stick with it! Your taste buds will be adjusting and usually people come around.

Kvass is salty and picks up the earthiness of the beets. Historically, it was an Eastern European tonic and was more or less the Windex of that area. (Three points for you if you recognize that movie reference.)It’s weird to think that they have carts in Eastern Europe selling this stuff. But, unlike our fried and greasy food carts or 7-11s selling food laden with high-fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives, this stuff is super healthy.

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(Kvass Wagon from a photo on Wild Fermentation)

According to “Nourishing Traditions” by Sally Fallon (which, btw, I highly suggest adding to your library), kvass is

“valuable for its medicinal qualities and as a digestive aid. Beets are loaded with nutrients. One glass morning and night is an excellent blood tonic, promotes regularity, aids digestion, alkalizes the blood, cleanses the liver and is a good treatment for kidney stones and other ailments.”

Traditionally, kvass was not made with beets, but with stale sourdough rye bread. I personally am more than happy with the beets. In an article from  The Weston A. Price Foundation,

Folk medicine values beets and beet kvass for their liver cleansing properties and beet kvass is widely used in cancer therapy in Europe. Anecdotal reports indicate that beet kvass is an excellent therapy for chronic fatigue, chemical sensitivities, allergies and digestive problems.

So here’s the recipe, inspired by “Nourishing Traditions” – enjoy!

Beet Kvass

  • 2 quarts filtered water
  • 2 tsp sea salt, non-iodized and no anti-caking agents (add an addt’l 2 tsp if you do not have sauerkraut juice)
  • 1/4 cup sauerkraut juice
  • 3-4 organic beets, gently scrubbed with peel on, and cut into ½” cubes  (any color beet will work and avoid finely chopping or grating the beets, which can lead to very rapid fermentation and alcohol production)
  • Place beets, sauerkraut juice and salt in a half gallon glass container (2 quarts).
  • Add filtered water to fill the container to just below an inch from the top and stir well and cover securely.
  • Keep at room temperature for 2 days before transferring to refrigerator.
  • When most of the liquid has been consumed, you may fill up the container with water and keep at room temperature another two days. The resulting brew will be slightly less strong than the first.
  • After the second brew, discard the beets and start again. You may, however, reserve some of the liquid and use this as your starter instead of the whey.

How to Replenish Your Electrolytes Naturally

It’s the flu season and this year’s flu is NASTY. Fevers are high and people are sweating through their sheets. If you or a loved one is currently feeling like crud, read this before rushing to your friendly neighborhood market to pick up some electrolyte-filled sport drink.

So here’s the breakdown:

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Sucrose syrup and glucose-fructose syrup are both fancy-schmancy words for processed (aka chemically processed) and refined sugar. Or, as I like to say, they’re a chemical shiz storm and cause a huge sugar dump in your bloodstream that causes the pancreas to release loads of insulin… with an end effect of a roller-coaster for your body’s sugar reserves. Not that great when you’re already sick and trying to reestablish homeostasis.

According to Food Babe, bromiated vegetable oil is added to some of the flavors to keep the beverage from getting cloudy and to aid suspension of the artificial flavor. For those of you who aren’t aware of what bromiated veggie oil is, here’s a nice little breakdown:

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Thankfully, last year Pepsi Co said that it was moving toward removing it from their drinks. Unfortunately, Coca-Cola also uses this oil in many of their drinks, including certain flavors of Powerade.

So, now that I’ve rocked your world, what are some things that you can do to replace electrolytes naturally? (And, let’s face it, Gatorade is spendy… these are way more economical.)

  • Coconut water. This stuff is amazing. And full of electrolytes. I vote to go for the real stuff and really like C2O. There are no natural sweeteners and it’s just refreshing. If you don’t like the flavor of coconut water, try Coco Water. It’s my go-to when I don’t want to cart around cans with me or when I’m traveling. They also have naturally flavored selections, like pineapple and pomegranate raspberry. It’s not as good as fresh from a coconut or even from a can, but it’ll do in a pinch.  (For the Portland-area peeps, they sell it at my favorite store – New Seasons.)
  • Himalayan Pink Salt. This stuff is full of essential minerals. Add a pinch to a glass of water and drink it.
  • Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Touted as a miracle vinegar by many, it really is (IMHO). Add a small amount (about a teaspoon) into water and drink it.
  • This tea. ½ tsp Himylian Pink Salt, fresh-squeezed organic lemon juice to taste (I freeze mine in ice cube trays and then transfer to a freezer bag so I have them for when I’m sick and too icky-feeling to squeeze anything) and 1 tsp honey. Stir with hot water and drink.
  • Kombucha. If you can stand it – it’s not for everyone. But I love it and making it isn’t all that hard (there’s a post coming very soon about that one).
  • And, finally, bone broth. Drink it. In copious quantities. Not only will you restore your electrolytes, but your body will get necessary fat and protein to help fight the nasty colony of bugs that are trying to take over your body. I always have some stored in my freezer for “just in case”.

I hope whoever reads this finds some reprieve in this nasty cold and flu season – here’s to your health!

Please note: I am not a doctor. Please do not disregard doctor’s orders due to something you read on the internet. If you are seriously ill, please consult a doctor immediately.