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It’s been a busy past few months — to put it lightly. I’ve been taking some pretty amazing continuing ed classes and certifications and now I have a few new letters to put behind my name. Read on to find out what I’ve been up to!

Certified GAPS Practitioner (CGP)

So… you’re probably wondering what is GAPS and if you can get a good pair of jeans there? GAPS is short for Gut and Psychology Syndrome or Gut and Physiology Syndrome… depending on your presentation. It is an absolutely beautiful healing diet by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and focuses on sealing and healing the gut in order for the body to heal itself of its ailments. We’ve been successfully using it in our house for a year to help heal myself and my husband and I just fell in love with it! It’s effective for autoimmunity, fertility, autism, ADD, ADHD, dyspraxia, dyslexia, IBS, bipolar disorder — the list goes on and on! GAPS is not for the faint of heart and really takes some doing but the final result is amazing!

Restorative Wellness Solutions (RWP)

I’m sure you’ve never heard of this one. So don’t feel bad. It’s specific to Nutritional Therapists. In this class, I learned how to use the DUTCH Adrenal test, various saliva cortisol tests, the MRT, and a stool test in order to better assess HPA (Hypothalamus, Pituitary, and Adrenal) Axis health, colon health, and food sensitivities. I also have the power to legally order these tests. The MRT tests for mediated response. Basically, when we get allergy tested, they’re looking for antibodies. The problem is that antibodies are only about 25% of an immune response. The rest of that immune response is mediated. This test checks for that and lets you know which foods and chemicals are causing hidden inflammation. It has completely changed my outlook and I am enjoying using this tests alongside GAPS for wonderfully effective healing!

And there’s no rest for the weary! In January, I’ll be starting a class on interpreting Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and the second class in the Restorative Wellness Solutions offerings – which will cover hormone testing for both men and women. I’m excited!

If you’re interested in learning how these tests can help you achieve your health goals or are interested in learning more about how the GAPS diet might work for you, request your free 30-minute consultation below.

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Why Use Safer Skincare?

So if you’re reading this, you’re probably wondering why a nutritional therapy practitioner is carrying Beautycounter in their business.

Good question.

Because the man may be the head of the household but the woman is the neck. And she controls which way the head will go. Okay. Okay. Aside from the cheesy My Big Fat Greek Wedding quote, there is some truth to that. A whole lot of truth, to be honest.

As the Chief Buyer of All Things and Spender of All the Money (a title I work hard to live up to), it’s my job to figure out what is safe for my family and what is potentially toxic. And to bring those items into my home for my loved ones to use. As someone that cares deeply about my clients’ well-being, it’s also my job to figure out and help source products that will not introduce more toxins to their bodies.

All of us, myself included, have a false sense of security when it comes to our skincare. Surely, companies wouldn’t use ingredients that are harmful to our health?

If only the answer were as innocent as the question.

Truth is, the skincare and cosmetics industry has absolutely NO oversight in the United States. What does that mean? It means that companies in the United States can use whatever toxic ingredients they want to use – ingredients that cause cancer and disrupt hormones… and they don’t have to disclose a single thing to the consumers.

As a nutritional therapy practitioner who helps women balance hormones and who has suffered from hormone dysregulation for most of my post-menarche life, this terrifies me.

So… what are the facts?

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Dealing with painful, cystic acne

How many of us (be honest) have had painful, cystic acne at some point in their life? How many of us still suffer from some kind of breakout? Even if it’s infrequently? After years of SO many medications, antibiotics, topical ointments, you name it. I finally have a handle on my acne.

I’m super super pumped to share six things that have helped clear up my acne to maybe a little blemish around my period if I was a bit lackadaisical with the sugar. How did I do it? Through diet, lifestyle, and a few choice beauty care products.

To start things off, here’s a few simple steps you can take if you’re already eating a paleo/whole foods diet yet still suffering from cystic and painful acne or other skin problems.

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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

My 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
  • 1/2 cup fresh organic chopped horseradish root (This will open your sinuses when you chop it – be prepared!)
  • 2 medium organic onions, chopped
  • 10 organic garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 organic jalapeno, sliced thin
  • 1 organic lemon, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 1 organic lime, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 1 organic orange, sliced thin (and seeded)
  • 3 tbsp dried organic rosemary
  • 1 tbsp organic turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp organic cayenne powder
  • 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.

Alternative Therapies Are Not Anti-Science

My mom recently sent me this article by Simcha Fisher, a well-known and articulate Catholic woman who blogs over at National Catholic Register. While I don’t usually go all “Catholic” on here, it is a nutrition blog after all, I thought this would be a good avenue to address her article and some of the fallacies that were in it. So, here goes.

First and foremost, it sounds by the voice of the article that you (Simcha) have never had an adverse diagnosis for a child (in the case of my parents) or a sibling (in my case) where the doctors tell you that they have no idea what is going on and how to treat them. There is nothing more terrifying than watching a family member waste away, unsure of what to do and being told by the Western medical community that they’ve exhausted their options and having three doctors who are in disagreement with each other over treatment options but all of them damaging to your loved one. This was my reality. I found myself questioning my degree, a Bachelors of Science in Arts and Letters with a concentration in human anatomy and physiology. I found myself questioning the very essence of our nature. Our bodies were created perfect… so why are we so diseased? Surely, this can’t all be the result of Original Sin. And, most importantly, I questioned the western medical and scientific community.

Thankfully, my mother is a woman who has her wits about her and is a stubborn Irish/German/Native American Catholic woman. She didn’t waste any time looking into every single alternative form of healing – within the guidelines of the Catholic Church. Long story short, countless hours of research spent reading medical studies published in various medical journals resulted in our turning to a naturopath who was able to help my sister and my mom delved into the research world of the nature of nutrient absorption and we were able to start getting food in her body that she didn’t instantly reject – no thanks to the conventional doctors, who had put her on two same-class antibiotics and a steroid. The adverse side effects of that combination are still haunting her to this day and it is only through diligent attention that she is able to hold the effects at bay. She suffered from extensive mitochondrial damage in addition to cartilage damage. And we followed the doctors because they are the professional and went to school for this. Never mind that multiple studies, including the drugs’ own websites, state clearly that this is never to be done (we found this out later when we were researching what was now wrong with her). Western medicine failed us. They left us stranded and in the dark.

I was told that my biomarkers were such that I was headed down the same health road at a high-speed rate. At the time, I was planning my wedding. The last thing I wanted to hear was that something was wrong with me and that I had a risk of dying as well. No. Thank. You. I had a new life that I wanted to live and I wanted to be around for as long as possible to live it. So I started looking at alternative therapies as well. Both she and I found our respite with diet and proper nutrition. 

Fast forward a few years and this past spring that same sister gave us all a run for our money… again.

I found myself in an ER room with her, her vitals unstable, slipping in and out of mental clarity, the doctor telling us by no means to let her fall asleep and then a last minute transfer to a Neuro-ICU. It was quickly followed by an emergency brain surgery that couldn’t be postponed 10 minutes until my parents arrived. Once again, I was terrified. I begged our neurosurgeon to let my parents be caught up to speed so they could approve the surgery. I was told that she didn’t have the 10 minutes needed to do that, that the pressure on her brain was too great. I found myself bargaining with God. I was terrified and desperate. She’s my best friend and wasn’t allowed to leave me – I can’t imagine my journey on this Earth without her. I approved the surgery (the easiest and hardest decision I’ve ever made in my life) and our very talented neurosurgeon and team of Western medicine-saved professionals saved my sister’s life. I will be eternally grateful to that gifted surgeon and his team – they were our guardian angels.

Most people who are like me have similar stories – it doesn’t matter what your religion, or lack there-of, is. It takes a lot for one to leave what one has grown up with and go against the beaten path. It’s not something that’s done casually or without calculating the risks. Usually we are forced to look elsewhere because somehow western science has failed us on a very basic level. My story is no different.

There are many things that western medicine excels at. Our capability for surgery is beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. The fact that you can perform surgery on a little part of the brain no wider than a straw from McDonald’s, leave a hole in the head… wait. There was no hole. It was a tiny crack in the skull, and a teeny tiny scar, is just phenomenal. Science is so cool that way. But, like all human-made things, it has its limits. And that is where other healing traditions come into view. The world is such a beautiful and vast place and the contributions of different cultures are many. To throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and only look at one tradition is myopic and not very Catholic.

So, Simcha, your overarching generalization that those of us in the alternative health community are all crazies is unfounded. We eat food that our ancestors ate precisely for that reason. They ate it and their overall health was better. I’m not talking about disease from lack of sanitation. I’m talking about degenerative diseases. Looking around at our modern society, it is more than abundantly clear that many of us suffer from some sort of degenerative disease that was virtually unheard of 100 years ago. Diabetes, heart disease, infertility, thyroid disease, asthma, allergies – all of these diseases have had an uptick in society over the past century. And all we get from western medicine is a band-aid. A “Go home and take this drug. Here are the side effects but never mind those. Oh, and you’ll have this disease for the rest of your life so you’ll just have to learn to live with it.”

From a Catholic world view, I know that we were meant to live for so much more, but we’ve lost ourselves. We’re not meant to live a sick and unproductive life. We’re not meant to be miserable in this world. It’s not in the Divine plan. The question that an astute person should ask themselves, not out of fear, but out of an innate drive to heal themselves is “What are we doing wrong?” Obviously something because health care needs are on the rise and, according to various government offices, there appears to be no end in sight.

My own personal healing journey, combined with my background in science, has led me to nutritional therapy. A wonderful program that looks at each human as a bio-individual with individual nutritional needs and an approach that we’re not “one size fits all”. I love it. It’s in keeping with Catholic teaching that we’re all created in His image and we’re all unique – there is no one else quite like us.

Nutrition is approached with a foundational platform, what you put in your mouth affects your overall health. So, if you put those chemicals that you can’t pronounce into your mouth, rather than the nutrient-dense and properly prepared whole foods that our ancestors ate for a millennium, what do you become? Our bodies are not engineered to eat man-made chemicals. We are engineered to eat simple foods that give us sustaining energy to get through our day. When we sway from that path, we become less-effective machines, wasting energy, gathering toxins and running inefficiently. This isn’t “woo-woo” quack science. This is basic science. If you give an organism what it needs, the body is going to do its part in maintaining a well-run system. Sure, every once in a while you need a tune-up (think a detox). But we know this from a spiritual sense as well. Lent is our spiritual tune-up. A nutritional detox is a physical tune-up. It makes logical sense when we see ourselves in light of being embodied spirits – both aspects of self must be well cared for.

Those of us in the alternative healing community are following the scientific method. St. Albertus Magnus, the founder of the scientific method, believed that the Bible contained the fullness of Revelation but that man could discover HOW things worked through observation, question and record. What modern science is doing now is ignoring the observation and question part. And society is just going with what is being told us – this includes the doctors, who are trained practitioners and are not scientists or researchers.  So, when a healthy teenage girl with NO history health complications suddenly dies after receiving a Gardasil vaccine what are we to do? Believe that there is no causal effect?  Or observe, question and record?

Those of us in the nutrition and alternative medical community are looking at the cause and effect aspect of medicine. If something can “treat” an ailment but there are worse “effects” than the original in question, how can we hope to help that individual find complete healing? The short answer is: We can’t. And we continue to become a society that is more and more addicted to pharmaceuticals to fix ailments that weren’t there to begin with. From a Catholic social teaching and ethical standpoint, it’s not just and it’s not sustainable.

So, yes. I am going to pursue treatment via nutritional means. This has become something I’m so passionate about, I even want to help others with their needs and finding healing through food.  As such, I am pursuing a degree in holistic nutrition, adding to the base of knowledge that I originally received at a 4 year university. We live in a world where things don’t need to be cured or managed by a pill. And with the exorbitant costs of health care, this isn’t practical for many. Food is practical. We all need to eat.  And what we eat becomes the foundation for our general health and longevity.

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!

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