Author Archives: nicksfit

Gluten & Sourdough: Does Sourdough Contain Gluten?

A lot people have been writing me with questions on the relationship between gluten and sourdough. Specifically, people want to know if sourdough contains gluten. In essence, what people want to know is if sourdough is digestible.

In this blog post we are going to cover this relationship between sourdough and gluten, what makes sourdough superior to “normal” bread and exactly why you can most likely enjoy sourdough bread without the symptoms of gluten intolerance.

What is Gluten?

As always, let us start out with defining a few terms.

At basic, gluten is a protein and therefore to fully understand what gluten is, we need to understand what a protein is and in order to understand what protein is, we must know what amino acids are.

Proteins are nitrogenous, complex organic compounds that consist of one or more long chains of amino acids.

Amino acids are the smallest unit of a protein.

Together, these two have an interesting, divine and magical relationship, it is as if the mysteries of the universe exist within the human metabolism. You see, proteins are made up of amino acids, which are then broken down by the metabolic system back into amino acids, which are used for cellular function. That’s right, amino acids form proteins, which are intentionally broken down into amino acids, to form tissues, hair, skin, cells, etc.

Seems unnecessary right? Why not just stay amino acids if thats their destiny? The simplified answer is that a form of alchemy takes place in which two amino acids come together and create a new whole that is greater than the sum of their parts, which is later broken down into amino acids that are even more useful.

Through the bonding of amino acids, different molecules are formed, each which the sum is greater than the source parts.

For example, when two 2 amino acids bond together, they form what’s called a dipeptide.

When three amino acids bond you get a Tripeptides.

When four amino acids bond you get a oligopeptide.

Finally, when you get a complex, long-chain of bonded amino acids, you have a protein, which is essential for all living organisms. Proteins make up the tissues, hair, skin, organs, and most of the physical structure of the body, without them, the body would be a ‘puddle’ of bacteria.

Getting back to bread, through the process of fermentation, the amino acids and proteins in grains go through a very interesting transformation.

In all grains, there are two categories of gluten proteins: glutelins and the prolamins.

In wheat specifically, the glutelin and prolamin proteins are what as known as glutenin and gliadin. And interestingly enough, it is gliadin, not gluten that causes the negative symptoms of gluten intolerance.

Glutenin and Gliadin

Together, it is glutenin and gliadin that are responsible for the desirable characteristics of bread dough, like its sticky texture that makes a soft, moist, melt-in-your-mouth bread. For bakers, it is this protein combination that makes dough easy to knead, shape and form, which is essential for a good rising bread, bubbly bread.

Through the process of fermentation, the glutenin in wheat grain is broken down into digestible amino acids. Then, through the process of kneading a fermented wheat dough, the glutenin proteins form into long chains.

Gliadin proteins are dense and with a low surface area-to-volume ratio, which allows glutenin chains to pass freely into the protein network.

Both glutenin and gliadin proteins have high concentrations of the amino acids proline and glutamine.

The exact proportions of glutenin and gliadin differs between types of wheat grain (einkorn, teff, spelt, kamut, etc.), which gives the bread different texture. In generally, ancient grains seem to have less gluten protein.

Gluten & Gliadin Digestion

Being that glutenin and gliadin are proteins, they digested in the stomach and small intestine by HCL and enzymes.

The proper digestion of gluten goes through a few phases: HCL and enzymes break the long-chains into oligopeptides, then into tripeptides, dipeptides, and then finally free amino acids. These free amino acids are what the body assimilates and utilizes for fuel.

Gliadin; on the other hand, often breakdowns much differently. In individuals with weak stomach acid and enzyme production, gliadin is broken down into oligopeptides but no further. This is also a result of the density and unique amino acid sequences in gliadin, which inhibits enzymatic activity.

Because gliadin is rich in proline, its cyclic structure makes gliadin a very difficult to breakdown protein. The enzyme transglutaminase (tTG) also plays a role in the tough structure of gliadin. It creates bonds between gliadin proteins and other amino acids, making it even more difficult to digest.

The enzyme transglutaminase also converts glutamine into glutamic acid via a process called deamination. Glutamic acid is known to cause immune reactions in some people,  where the body views the protein as a pathogen and evokes an inflammatory response.

Sourdough & Gluten Relationship

We have learned all about the troublesome proteins present in wheat grains that inspire inflammation. However, the question is, does sourdough have gluten? Does the alchemical process of fermentation solve the  it actually solve issues that gluten and gliadin can cause in the body? 

Before we answer that specifically, let’s talk about lactic acid bacteria (LAB), the bacteria responsible for sourdough fermentation. In short, LAB convert the sugars in wheat to lactic acid, which causes the acidity to increase. This ignites the hydrolysis of gluten and gliadin proteins by penetrating and loosening their protein structure. It also stimulates the production of enzymes, which are otherwise locked away in the phytic acid of the grain. T

It is known that specific strains of lactic bacteria are capable of hydrolyzing wheat proteins (including gliadin) by more than 50% within a 24-hour period of fermentation. That means a proper fermented sourdough (with a strong culture and proof time of 24-48 hours), can result in a sourdough that contains 50-100% less gluten and gliadin than non-fermented bread.

In other words, lactic bacteria and the associated enzymes secreted through the process of sourdough fermentation can effectively “pre-digest” the gluten and gliadin proteins, resulting in a bread that is incredibly delicious and highly more digestible. Not to mention, the process of fermentation dramatically increases the bio-availability of B vitamins, fatty acids and other nutrients in the bread, making it more nutritious.

Why Some People Digest Bread Better Than Others

In a healthy gut, there are simnifically greater numbers of lactic acid bacteria and other probiotic “gluten digesting” bacteria that aid in the digestion of both gluten and gliadin. All the more reason to get your gut micro-biome into optimal shape. To achieve this, you’l want to take a three step approach, which I go into great detail about in my online course Perfect Digestion.

The good news is that you can heal from gluten intolerance and all food intolerances, simply by improving the diversity and health of your gut micro0biome. While the goal is simple, the path there involves discilipine. While you may need to eliminate bread and gluten temporarily, once your gut is healed, you can enjoy bread regularly if you properly ferment it!

 

Final Considerations

If you have done significant work to heal your gut and still have trouble digesting sourdough bread, you can try bread from ancient grains such as einkorn, spelt or teff. These ancient grains are non-hybridized and were some of the first to be cultivated and therefore, are more recognizable by the immune system.

In conclusion, grains contain hard to digest proteins, sourdough does contain gluten, but through the process of lactic bacteria fermentation and having a healthy gut, you can digest bread and enjoy it! 

To learn how to make a proper sourdough (like the ones you see me make on my Instagram), be sure to grab a copy of my latest book Succulent Cuisine. I go into detail about sourdough, its benefits, (some of the data I used to write this blog comes from it), and provide a step-by-step recipe for making the perfect sourdough.

Stress & Digestion: Psychosomatic Factors in Digestive Disorders

If you’re one of my students for my online course Perfect Digestion, then the topic of psychosomatic illness is nothing new. In fact, it is a large focus in the course, considering that the number one cause of all digestive and gastrointestinal upset is stress – specifically, mental and emotional stress.

For those who are not familiar with the subject of psychosomatic illness, let’s first break a few things down…

In order to understand anything, we must first understand the words being used in a subject. Therefore, in order to really understand the stress-digestion or psychosomatic factors in digestive upset, it will be incredibly helpful to know what these words mean.

What is Psychosomatic Illness?

Psychosomatic illness refers to the phenomena whereby a physical illness or other physical condition caused or stimulated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress.

Refining this term even further, let us dissect word “psychosomatic”. The root pyscho stems from the word psyche, which means “spirit or mind”. That is why we often hear people who have gone “mental”, referred to as pyscho; their minds control them, they don’t control their minds.

Next, the root word somatic is derived from the Greek word, somatikos, which means “the body”.

So we find that the word psychosomatic, quite literally means, “mind-body”, and is a term used to reference the powerful connection between the mind and body – and as you will learn throughout this article, just how much influence the mind has on creating and animating the body.

What is Stress?

At basic, stress means to press. You will see the reoccurring root word ress, in many forms of stress, including press, impress, repress, depress, express, oppress and many others – all viable forms of stress. So you could say that stress, on the most anatomical level, is force, counter-force (two opposing forces, pressing together).

Most people hear the word stress and unconsciously reference it to mental or emotional stress. Mental or emotional stress would be a mental or emotional conflict (opposing ideas, thoughts, emotions etc). However, the basic meaning of stress (to press) does not pertain just to the psyche, but all of the laws of physics.

Stress or pressure, can occur where in the physical universe, and in fact, doesn’t actually have to apply to the metaphysical universe, it just seems we as individuals engage in it though unnecessary for being alive.

The Stress-Digest Connection

To understand the relationship between stress and digestion, is to understand the workings of the digestive system at the foundation. In short, the entire digestive process is ruled by the nervous system and is thereby interrupted by a stress response. Everything from the ingestion of food, propulsive peristalsis, inhibition of reflux, secretion, digestion (the breaking down of food), metabolism and elimination are controlled by a complex autonomous neurohumoral system, which is influenced by higher cortical impulses.

To put this n lamens terms, every aspect of digestion is ruled by the nervous system, specifically the enteric nervous system.

There are two basic branches of the autonomic nervous system; the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. I explain this in great detail in my online course. But essentially, when we are stressed the sympathetic nervous system is activated. The word sympathy means suffering, so when we are suffering (or in the illusion of suffering), stress hormones are secreted and digestion shuts off.

Therefore, the many variety of stressors in life can modulate the automatic impulses of digestion and cause unfavorable gastrointestinal reactions. These are referred to as psychophysiological reactions and involve accentuations, inhibition or distortion of the natural functioning of digestive organs.

An example of this phenomenon is fluctuation in bowel movements (irritable bowel syndrome) following a stressful event or thought. Stomach ulcers are another very old manifestation of psychosomatic digestive issues, where gastric acid is greatly increased by emotional stress.

While this knowledge is nothing knew and in fact traces back to ancient Greece, emerging research has confirmed that these psychosomatic reactions lead to actual morphological changes in digestive organs, which activate peptic ulcers, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and even ulcerative colitis. 1 2

What’s more is that these psychophysiological reactions are the early symptoms of more chronic digestive diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome, IBD, Crohn’s, and others, which are really nothing more than the result of a chronic, habitual mental and emotional state of stress or suffering (sympathetic).

Bacteria Respond to Your Hormones

So far we have covered how stress can cause ulcers and fluctuating bowel movements; however, the effects of stress on digestion do not stop there. The delicate lining of the gastrointestinal tract (were you absorb nutrients from food) can also be effected by stress.  Similar to how the stomach lining can become inflamed from hyperactivity caused by stress, the thin intestinal tissues can easily become irritated and inflamed, causing the phenomenon known as “leaky gut”.

Leaky gut is basically exactly that, a gut that is leaky. How it occurs is actually quite simple, but also fascinating. Basically, when we are in a chronic state of stress, the bacteria in our guts respond.

The thing to understand though is that hormones and neurotransmitters are chemical expressions of consciousness. In other words, the body uses them as a type of language to communicate throughout the body and perform tasks. The cells, organs, glands and bacteria in our bodies are capable of decoding these chemical messages.

Now, in the case that we are firing off chemicals with the message of “stress and suffering”, pathogenic bacteria (pathos means to suffer), will wake and perform the task in demand, which might not be what we necessarily want.

You see, pathogens are in the body for a reason, they are the garbage men, they take out the trash. In nature, they are the decomposers, they turn death into new life, they are critical for life. They also happen to be the bacteria that essential cause our physical decay and decompose the body. So, when we are in a state of suffering, we are (willingly or unwillingly) asking the pathogens in our bodies to decay the body. They are only doing their jobs by responding to our chronic stress and suffering so don’t be mad at them!

The thing to understand is that the bacteria in our bodies have evolved as the human body has evolved. In fact, our bodies are mostly bacteria. So, as our lifestyles, diets, environments have changed, they have too, so they are incredibly intelligent and quick to respond. And during a stress response, we are sending a cascade of stress hormones, telling the disease-causing bugs in the body to grow.

In other words, stress inverts the ration of probiotic bacteria to pathogens in the gut within moments. Yes that’s right, while you are concerned about what probiotic to take, what supplement and what food to eat to encourage your probiotic growth, they are quietly responding to your every thought. So, it sort of becomes futile to spend so much time, money and energy on probiotics, diet, etc. if we have not addressed the root causes of disease; our thoughts and emotions.

Therefore, the best thing we can do to improve our overall health, especially digestive function would be to properly manage our thoughts and considerations, which are creating the hormones in our body that either ensure health or cause disease.

Tips to Eliminate Stress

1. Cultivate MIND-LESS-NESS.

The number one way to minimize the fight-or-flight response in the body is to get rid of stress. Read that again, get rid of it. I didn’t say among stress. Manage means to handle and we don’t want to handle stress. Why handle stress? I understand handling your relationships, your work, your hobbies but why handle stress when you can just drop it?

In Taoism, the state of “no-mind” is to a high orderly state, it is to be without wild emotion and to be ruled by the mind. In TCM, the heart refers to the psyche or mind, it is the seat of emotion. When a person is in a state of no-heart, no-mind, they are in what is called Mushin. This is an enlightened state where you are not ruled by your mind or emotions, but the creator of them.

So the thing to understand here is that stress is perceived, it is not actual. As the Buddha said, “all suffering is the denial of existence”. In other words, if you take a real good look at the physical world, you’ll find most likely that you’re okay, you’re not dying, but your mind as tricked you.

Considering that chronic stress shuts down digestive function, the immune system, makes the gut leaky, and causes gut dysbiosis, it is highly important you begin to master your perception of life and instead of seeing it through the lens of your reactive, mis-emotional view point, that you can begin to see life as-is, without the sob story.

This obviously takes a lot of work, it is a discipline, so I suggest you begin. I offer coaching in this realm, so if you are interested, send me a message.

2. Never Eat When Stressed.

Plain and simple, only eat in a relaxing environment in a relaxed mental state. Actually, making an effort to improve your overall environment for serene meal time can have a major positive impact on your digestion. I suggest eating outside, amongst nature.

3. Take Digestive Enzymes.

If you;ve truly masters your mind, everything beyond tip 1 is not very important. However, while you are in process, these things might be very helpful (they were for me).

I highly suggest the use of enzymes to improve the digestive fire and ensure maximum breaking down of food and assimilation. They will also help you avoid heartburn, constipation, and bloating. The use of quality enzymes will ensure full digestion in the stomach and small intestine, which will help give your adrenals the nutrients they need to help you resist stress to begin with.

Out of all the supplements I’ve researched and worked with over the past 15 years, my favorites are by Body Ecology. You can get those here. 

4. Consume Probiotic Foods & Drinks

If you’re going to eat, you might as well eat smart. Of the many delicious, healing and traditional foods, fermented foods are some of the best. Most traditional cultures use some form of fermented food, so most body types enjoy them. By simply eating fermented foods every day, you’re not only eating a traditional food that your body will recognize, you’re also going to support the immune system, enhance digestion (they are rich in enzymes too), and heal a leaky gut.

If you’re interested in taking probiotic foods daily, I suggest learning how to make them, which is the most cost effective, sustainable and fun! You can take an online fermentation course here.

5. Heal the Adrenals 

Your nerves system rules the digestive system, so you want to ensure a strong HPA-axis and endocrine glands. Now again, keep in mind that it is kind of foolish to be chronically stressed and not getting a handle on your stress, but also trying to support the adrenals. It’s like pouring gasoline and water on a fire at the same time, not sure how well that will work out.

However, in the case that you have greatly eliminated most of your stress, then I suggest feeding those adrenals the things they need like amino acids and bio-available B vitamins (found in grass-fed red meat and fermented spirulina, and also fulvic acid. I would suggest doing this regardless, that way at least on a biological level your body is more equipped to handle stressful situations.

6. Try Adaptogen Herbs 

At the very least, if you do nothing else (which i do not recommend) you can start supplementing with adaptogen herbs. Adaptogens basically hep your endocrine glands biologically adapt to stress more efficiency. Some of the best adaptogens include Gyostemma, Holy Basil, Ashwagandha, He Shou Wu, and Reishi.

Healing Psychosomatic Illness

In my 12 years of coaching, psychosomatic factors (mental and emotional stress) is hands down thee cause of most digestive problems. Moving beyond these emotional triggers requires a great deal of work on the psyche and cannot be resolved by diet, supplements or physical therapy, considering the cause is not in the physical domain, but the metaphysical (mind and emotions).

There is not quick-fix to healing psychosomatic illness, as it requires clearing the subconscious of pain, trigger experiences, the general increasing of a personal chronic emotional state as well as their views and considerations about life. This requires a greater depth of work but can be achieved.

Simple places you can start would be to observe what people, environments and situations trigger emotional and mental stress that leads to a digestive flare up. I will give you a clue…more often than not, people are more likely to become sick or stressed in the presence of a suppressive person (a person who invalidates you, makes small barbs, and generally invalidates you), so become aware of these types of “toxic” people and remove them from your life or confront them. To learn more about “detoxifying your relationships” read this article I wrote.

Otherwise, in general, be more aware and journal about your daily interactions (and thoughts if you can). See if you can notice what you were doing just before you noticed a negative shift in your digestive function.

In the simplest of words, anything you can do to relax is going to majorly improve your digestive health. However, I have personally found that helping people relax, in a world that glorifies busy-ness, is quite the difficult task. But, if you can manage it just by me advising it, great!

Ideally, I would recommend coaching or at the least, enrolling in my online course, Perfect Digestion, to being to master your mind and emotions, and ultimately, your digestive function. I dive very deeply into the topic of psychosomatic illness in relation to digestive disease and provide a lot of exercises, knowledge and help.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you experience and notice a strong correlation between stress and digestive upset or do you find something else to be the major trigger of digestive issues?

The Reproductive Chronology of the Modern Western Woman

Once upon a time, womb-men treated their reproductive center with grace and honor for the divine abilities it possessed. Today, on the other hand, many Western women reject their reproductive abilities, seek to eliminate the menses and consequently (consciously or unconsciously), destroy their fertility health.

The frequent use of contraceptives, poor dietary habits, and a lifestyle of general unawareness all contribute to the weakening of the immune system and reproductive health of women today.

What many women fail to understand today is that their fertility health is in direct proportion to their overall health. To be fertile requires perfect hormonal homeostasis, a robust immune system, a body free of impurities, heavy metals and other toxins and a clear and conscious mind.

Perhaps many fail to see this connection because of the simple fact that not many women today value fertility health, motherhood and family. Radical feminism and libertarianism has planted the seed of “freedom from” in the minds of men and women. Both libertarian men and women seek freedom and liberty from family, from mother and fatherhood, and generally from responsibility. Not to get too far off topic, but there is actually great freedom and power in responsibility. One of the greatest freedoms comes from family, in which individuals can be self-reliant, grow a culture and provide for themselves and their community.

For the women and men who know the freedom in responsibility, who see the value in family, and understand the divinity in pregnancy, there is still much to know.

From the time a woman reaches puberty to the time she conceives her first child, every choice she has ever made will effect her health and ultimately, the health of her future child. Functional Medicine or Holistic Health views the body as a whole, ever system, organ, gland and cell of the body is intimately connected to the other, resulting in the whole. Therefore, everything a woman thinks, feels, does, eats and everything she experiences will effect the health of her body and ultimately her offspring.

As you will see in greater detail, not many women (or men for that matter), grew up with this sort of knowledge. For the most part, Western people have vague notion that they only live once, their actions do not effect anyone or themselves, and spending ones adolescent years junking and abusing their bodies will never comeback to haunt them.

However, that is not how this universe works; it is all connected through the Natural Law of Cause and Effect (aka – KARMA). What you put out, comes back to you and unfortunately, many are not going to like what they get.

In a brief moment I want to share with you a fictional, but not unrealistic story to illustrate how the lifestyle choices of the common Western woman can lead to inevitable suffering. As you will learn, much of the socially accepted “norms” are the exact causative factors in the rapid decline in fertility and reproductive health in women today.

Before you continue reading keep in mind that as the Buddha once said, “all suffering is born of ignorance”. As my mentor would say, “an ignorant person cannot make good choices, they simply lack sufficient knowledge to do so.” So while this story may be difficult for some to confront, know that the unwillingness to confront is what leads to ignorance in the first place.

To acquire knowledge, one must be willing to confront. So would you rather learn through awareness or through sufferable, yet avoidable mistakes born of ignorance?

A DESTRUCTIVE TIME-LINE OF THE WESTERN WOMAN

“At fourteen, Taylor went out for her first date. She and her date Dusty met up with shared friends. To impress her pursuer, Taylor gives into peer pressure of class-mates and lights up her first cigarette. As the proprietary blend of formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, acetone, carbon monoxide and nicotine saturates her lungs (a central part of her Immune System), she forms an unconscious association to smoking with fun, oxytocin, and men, forming a part-time social habit.

By 16, her dates evolve from innocent fun and cigarettes into experiments with drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and staying up late. Taylor, like most other American women, has several sexual partners over the next two years. As a result of all this “fun”, Taylor starts experiencing frequent colds, flus and digestive upset. Passed off as a normal part of a teenager’s life, she is sent to the doctor for a routine round of antibiotics, which slow being to destroy her micro-biome.

Her immune system weakened and gut-micorbiome on the side of dysbiosis; Taylor finds that the only thing that satisfies her stomach is sugar-ladened Frappaucinnos and refined carbohydrate rich foods like pizza and other fast foods. Having given in to the chemical secretions from her overgrowth of pathogenic yeast and bacteria, her immune system is officially inverted and she contracts her very first UTI and vaginal yeast infection.

Informing her Mother, she suggests Taylor take some over-the-counter yeast medication, which further destroy the last remaining probiotic bacteria and yeast in her micro-biome. Officially without internal defense, Taylor has graduated High School and is off to College, where she will surely have sex with a dishonorable man that had no intentions courtship. However, her Mother and Father suspect something like this, so rather than having an honest and informative conversation, her parents pass off their communication responsibilities and she is sent to the doctor for some birth control.

Her new OBGYN recommends she get a copper IUD. A few months after of having got the IUD, Taylor notices increasing difficulties with her menstrual cycle; it is more painful and uncomfortable than normal. No worries, instead of educating herself on the matter, she calls her OBGYN who kindly recommends some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (pain pills).

Unbeknownst to Taylor, the NSAIDS are known to be associated with gastrointestinal side effects, including life-threatening bleeding or perforation of gastroduodenal ulcers. Given the fact that Taylor’s gut is already compromised, in a few months of taking them, she begins to have issues absorbing nutrients and her hair is falling out. What’s more, those pain killers are creating tissue damage that causes inflammation in other parts of her body. Meanwhile, her immune system is firing off rapidly, the NSAIDS are suppressing inflammatory responses, so she begins to show signs of autoimmunity. Needless to say, Taylor isn’t doing so well but she is uncertain why; she’s done everything the doctor has told her.

All the while, Taylor is totally unaware that her IUD is subtly prying her cervix open, breaking the last line defense between the external environment and her delicate eggs. Because her micro biome is outnumbered with pathogenic yeast and bacteria and the rest of her immune system is on overdrive, viruses effortlessly make their way into her uterus causing infection. Still consuming the pain killers, Taylor is unaware of the infection and it slowly proliferates, causing micro-ulcers that lead to fibrotic scar tissue in her womb, greatly compromising her ability to become pregnant later in life.

Completely overwhelmed by her declining health and the pressures to perform in school, Taylor’s stress threshold hits its peak. In desperate attempts to cope with her life, she attends fraternity parities to drink, “let loose” and “hook up” with some guys. Unfortunately, her immune system non-existent, Taylor contracts a case of chlamydia from her last sexual partner; a cousin of a frat member that she’ll never see again. Being an asymptomatic, she actually doesn’t realize she contracted it for months.

Six weeks later, Taylor misses a period; she’s pregnant. The question is, who is the father?

After a trip to her OBGYN, she is officially diagnosed with chlamydia. Given that she has no clue who the father is along with the fact that she has contracted an STD, she decides to get an abortion. Her trusty OBGYN suggests a DNC because it is all her college health care covers. Unfortunately, this procedure involves the scrapping of the uterus, which causes additional scarring to her already fibrotic uterus wall.

Traumatized by her experience, Taylor decides to “settle down”. She quits partying as frequently so she is less inclined to smoke and drink and she is more reserved when it comes to sex. Despite her efforts to improve, her period is getting increasingly worse. To cope with the pain, she uses over-the-counter NSAIDS (aspirin) and vaginal douches; a tip she got from her dorm mate.

Agreeing with blind faith, Taylor doesn’t realize that the vaginal douche is further stripping the micro-biome in her vagina, causing her to experience her first physical symptoms of chlamydia. As prescribed by her OBGYN, Taylor turns to a pack of antibiotics to sooth the symptoms.

Fed up and desperate for answer, Taylor is determined to do something about her chronic yeast infections, STD symptoms and debilitating menstrual cramps. Going to the only place she knows, her OBGYN schedules her for a laparoscopy to find out what’s going on. The results show that she has endometriosis and fibrosis on her uterus.

Doing as western medical doctors do, and as requested by Taylor, she is prescribed more drugs, birth control pills. Rather than confronting the causative factors (the lifestyle choices made by Taylor) and rather than advising any tips for improved wellness, Taylor freely continues her behavior.

Providing temporary relief, the birth controls silently make things worse by increasing the level of copper in her body, throwing off the delicate copper to zinc ratio necessary for optimal immune health. High copper to zinc ratios means Taylor is more susceptible to infections, tumors and to giving birth to a child birth defects.

Now that Taylor is 22 and finished with College, she finally meets a nice guy; they fall in love and get married. Edgar to live a more wholesome life, she expresses her desire to have children to husband. However, her husband and parents, in fear with the idea of providing for children/grandchildren, suggest that Taylor goes to grad school to earn more money for the family.

By the time Taylor finishes graduate school, she is 30 years old, her eggs have aged significantly due to time, and her past lifestyle choices did not help slow the aging process. However, Taylor was never informed much about fertility and reproductive health.

In attempt to get pregnant, she comes off birth control for the first time in 12 years and immediately tries to conceive without success. After several years of failed attempts, Taylor is finally confronted by her OBGYN that she is infertile – she is devastated.

5 years later, Taylor and her husband decide to go in-virto for the out-of-pocket price of $50,000. Out of savings and set back significantly, they downsize into a small apartment, unfit for a family of three. What’s worse, the IVF doesn’t even work, there is just too much scaring in Taylor’s uterus from abortions, birth control and a lifestyle of pro-flammatory behavior.

A year later Taylor goes to the dentist and discovers that she has gum disease. Her gums have been bleeding overtime she flosses. Her dentist prescribes her antibiotics before she has any work done on her mouth. He explains that the bacteria in her mouth could migrate to other areas of her body causing major issues like miscarriages, diabetes, and even cardiovascular disease.

Stunned by her first explanation of the interconnectedness of the body, she asks her dentist if her gum disease could be causing her miscarriages. His response contained the information she has been in need of since age 14. For the first time in her life, she decides it is time to take her health into her own hands.

Now knowing that if she wishes to ever have a child, she needs to be healthy, not just mask symptoms of underlying disease. To get some help, she visits a naturopathic doctor who has a history in working with women. After Taylor giving a detailed history of her health, the doctor informs her that the chlamydia, candida, gum disease, abortions, endometriosis, fibroids and general unhealthy lifestyle choices are all primary causative factors in her having miscarriages.

In attempt to eliminate her endometriosis and eliminate fibrotic tissues, the naturopath writes up a comprehensive protocol that rebuilds her micro biome, bringing the candida back into a normal range, she helps alkalize her infernal fluids and glands, strengthen her uterus, and normalize her hormones.

Unfortunately, her naturopath is a vegan and recommends Taylor eliminate all dairy, meat, and eggs in order to cleanse her body. This works wonders at first; at least until she runs into a set of hormonal imbalances from all the legumes and carbs she has been eating along with deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins and cholesterol. These factors along with her high intake soy products, her thyroid shuts down, her copper levels rise and the chronic inflammation reignites her fibrosis.

Several years later Taylor is now 40 years old, with a biological age of 55. The financial stress, along with Taylor’s declining health and inability to get pregnant has led to divorce. One day while at a health convention she meets her future second husband. They too fall in love and Taylor’s dream to have a family rekindles. However, now at age 40 with a history of destructive lifestyle habits and poor health, her changes of getting pregnant are slim. In her favor, she is healthier now than she ever has been. Three years later and she gives birth to her first child, who ends up being autistic.

Still not fully aware of how her actions have lead up to this point, Taylor is of course devastated about the condition of her baby boy. Why her? What did she do to deserve this? She followed the rules, visited the doctor regularly, went to college, got a job, and married. She lived a normal American life just like she was told to do.”

Now, keep in mind that this is a fabricated story. However, also keep in mind that you probably know someone like this. This is not an unrealistic story; I happen to know women who have experienced very similar situations. Most of these horrifying events are actually quite normal here in the West. It is normal to junk the body in fact. It is socially acceptable to stay up late, starving the body of the only time of true regeneration and regrowth. It is socially acceptable to intoxicate the liver; the most precious organ in the body, with drugs, alcohol, and junk food. There are many forms of physical abuse that are openly accepted in today’s culture and most engage without thought, covering up the effects with a drug or medication. However, you can only sweep things under the rug for so long.

The craziest part is that many are conceiving a child under similar circumstances. The rates of autism are skyrocketing. In fact, the CDC reports that as of 2012 1 in 88 babies are born with autism, compared to 1980’s autism record, which was 1 in 10,000.

Many attribute the significant increase in birth defects like autism to vaccines, and while they are definitely a primary causative factor, keep in mind that most disease have roots in chronic inflammation. Autism is really nothing more than severe inflammation of the brain. Yet, there are many factors causing the significant increase in chronic inflammation including,

  • the laundry list of environmental toxins
  • high omega-6:3 ratios from industrial grain-based diets (wheat, corn, soy, and their byproducts)
  • food sensitivities
  • gut infections
  • probiotic deficiencies (not enough kids playing outside)
  • food additives/preservatives
  • heavy metals (in the food and water, etc)
  • high carb/sugar diet (industrial food system),
  • chronic infections
  • blood sugar imbalances
  • STDs
  • dental infections
  • EMF toxicity
  • thyroid disease
  • GMOs.

In conclusion, and why I made this post, is to point out that we have a choice. Every causative factor I just pointed out and every bad choice Taylor made, is something we can agree to or not. While the odds are increasingly against us, we can still choice to disengage. Some unhealthy, pro-flammatory activities are harder to get away from than others, like exposure to EMFs and air pollution. However, most of them are simple daily choices, like what you put into your mouth, on your body and into your consciousness.

With that being said, if you have read this post, you are now aware of something or many things you were not before. And with this knowledge, you have the choice to be responsible or not. You don’t have to be responsible, you can look away, give into habit and programming and just hope for the best. However, knowledge and responsibly are power. I cannot make you responsible, but I can share knowledge. Do with it what you know is right. Whether you have a child and start a family or not is up to you, but keep in mind that our greater, extended family, Human Nature, will be effected by your decisions.

And one last thing, the story of our fictional character Taylor still only paints so much of a very large picture. There are so many factors that are determining either wellness and illness, one of the most elusive being our own psyche (mind). With that being said, the point of the story is to demonstrate that chronic disease is the result of accumulated, repetitive unconsciousness. This is not the way things have to be and in fact, are a complete inverse of how things are supposed to be in the Natural World. If you are interested in learning more about preconception health, fertility and unwinding the damage done to your body through living the American Dream, then I highly recommend the book The Brighton Baby Method, along with generally living a more honest, wholesome, and natural life.

Fitness & Fertility: Too Fit for Pregnancy?

We all know that exercise is good for the body; it promotes detoxification, digestion, circulation and overall health. If you’re a woman, you may have been told how important exercise is for hormonal balance and fertility health.

Yet, despite all of the benefits excising can have, it is also true that too much can be harmful. It is especially true for women seeking to become pregant that too much exercise is not helpful and may even lead to issues with fertility. 

This Universal Law of Diminishing Returns extends through all areas of life; too much of even a good thing can have negative effects. Therefore, our goal with exercise, which in Chinese Medicine, would be considered a Yang activity, must be balanced with equal Yin.

Before we get into exactly how to do that, that’s talk about how exactly excessive exercise and the relentless pursuit for that fitness model physique may be causing infertility in women today.

THE PROBLEMS OF OVEREXERCISING

I’ll being by saying that the problem of too much exercise is not one for many, simply because a large amount of people are not exercising enough and in particularly, not intensely enough.

I once heard a mystic breakdown health into a very simple phenomena; if you aren’t healthy then consider this, are you moving your body enough or too much? If you move your body a lot and are not healthy then the solution is simply; stop moving so much. On the other hand, if you are unwell and don’t move enough, then move more.

Ayurveda, TCM and other bodies of Eastern Medicine see that health and all of life can be broken down into the simple phenomena of In and Out, Cause and Effect, Yin and Yang, etc.

Today, most people are not simply using their bodies enough. Everything is done for them, they don’t need to cook, clean, hunt or gather food, they don’t need to do much of anything. In result of this failure to use the body, people are often overthinking, using their brains way too much, and stressed mentally to capacity.

This combination of lack of physical movement and an excess of mental and emotional activity leads to disease in the body because the body was designed to move instinctually, not to think so much. While ration, logic and reason can be incredibly helpful, it becomes obsolete in the presence of intuition, pure knowingness, feeling and instinctual movement.

In the words of Alan Watts, it appears the decline of man has come since the development of the neocortex, causing man to become TOO aware of himself, to the point of questioning anxiety, “am I doing this right, too much, not enough???”

Without further philosophical though on the subject, the take away is that everything in our human existence can be fundamentally simplified. The more complex we make things, the more difficult they are to manage and therefore, end up handling us. This is perfectly demonstrated through the subject of physical movement. Once upon a time, the most natural and intuitive experience, is now a dedicated field of science, study and even career. I am here to tell you, it is so much more simple than it has been made to be. In a few words, the secret to healthy exercise is balance.

So, the problems with exercise are really problems of imbalance; when exercise/movement becomes deficiency or excessive, we run into issues.

When your body is under too much stress of any sorts, it begins to shutdown. What many people fail to realize is that exercise is a form of stress. All stress can be defined as force, counter-force. 

When we engage in “working out”, we are welcoming stress, that is the whole goal, to have another force counter our own force and effort. This is the anatomy of resistance, two opposing forces of equal mass. Placing a heavy weight on your shoulders and squatting is an example of a force countering your effort. This resistance or stress, helps the muscle build strength and resilience.

The problem arises due to the fact that the muscular-skeletal system isn’t the thing that experiences stress, the nervous system responds as well. When the body undergoes stress, resistance of pressure, the CNS (central nervous system), goes into a sympathetic state and secretes stress hormones cortisol, adrenaline and others to overcome the stress. This is helpful only to the point that the nervous system isn’t already overly sympathetic.

However, most people’s nervous systems are already overly sympathetic. Going back to a previous statement, a majority of people today have a nervous system that is hyperactive due to a large list of social pressures, along with mental and emotional stressors. Add in the variety of other stressors including dietary stress (wrong diet, or diet laden with toxins), heavy metals in the water, drugs and medications, electromagnetic stress, thermal stressors, and sleep deprivation induced stress, and what we have is a highly stressed out nervous system.

While normally intense physical activity would help build the body’s resilience to stress, in the case that the nervous system is already firing off large amounts of stress hormones, the additional physical activity only adds to the overall stress load.

So, add up the many ways people experience chronic stress today with the additional stress of exercise, which is further worsened if you’re not eating enough or the right foods to compensate for all the energy being used up to manage the stress responses and you have a recipe for fatigue and infertility. Essentially, in the case of chronic stress (non-stop stress compared to a healthy balance of stress) and your brain is going to figure that it is not a good time to have a baby.

When the body is in a chronic sympathetic state, as is the case when one is chronically stressed (excessively Yang) the body secretes only stress/yang hormones. These hormones are helpful when secreted at the appropriate times. For example, stress hormones cortisol are anti-inflammatory, they help promote healing. Norepinephrine is a fat-burning hormone. But when they are being chronically secreted, they have a negative effect on other hormones, especially reproductive hormones.

Remember, hormones are chemical messages, they are chemical expressions of consciousness. When your body is in a constant sympathetic state it is secreting hormones that tell the brain “we’re busy right now, we need a lot of free energy so shut down digestion, reproduction and anything else using energy so we can fight and survive.” And that is exactly what happens.

To summarize, you’ll know if you are pushing the body too far, you’ll be missing periods, a condition known as amenorrhea, you’ll start to demonstrate symptoms of excessive cortisol production and classic signs of hyperthyroidism (Yang excess). Over time, your hypothalamus will stop communicating to the ovaries to produce sufficient amounts of progestrogrone, DHEA and estrogen that’s necessary for menstruation and ovulation. These are tell-tale signs of potential infertility, and can have long-term health consequences, such as PCOS, diabetes, hormonal imbalance, osteoporosis and even cardiovascular disease due to the chronic inflammation one will experience from excessive exercise, adrenal burn out (low cortisol production) and hypothyroidism.

So, it is not exercise itself that causes infertility, healthy exercise (which we will define and discuss later) is one of the best things you can do for your health. Infertility is a symptom of excessive stress of any sort (exercise being just one form), overtraining and under eating, being significantly underweight or overweight, a broken digestive system and metabolism (a symptom of too much stress) and other factors, all of which can be traced back to excessive activity that leads to chronic inflammation in the body.

Fertility & Exercise

Just to be clear, a recent study on fertility and exercise points out the obvious underlying issues of imbalance. They study two things:

  • Women who were overweight or obese, found that increased physical activity and exercise improved fertility. 1
  • Women or ‘normal’ weight or underweight found that increased vigorous exercise (especially cardiovascular activity) decreased fertility and led to delays in becoming pregnant. 2

This information is really nothing new; it has been known for a while that strenuous exercise causes disruption to a woman’s menstrual cycle, and can even cause women to completely lack ovulation and menses, giving rise to many fertility problems.

This is the most common amongst female athletes who engage in competitive sport, long-distance running, triathletes and marathon runners. The common denominator in all of these; excessive, chronic cardiovascular activity, which leads to chronic inflammation.

Aside from causing hormonal havoc due to chronically elevated stress hormone and HPA burnout, it is suggested that high-intensity exercise disturbs implantation (when a fertilized egg attaches to the uterus).

However, on the other hand, balanced, moderate exercise, executed according to one’s personal stress load can improve menstruation, fertility, and the chances of becoming pregnant.

In conclusion, given the stressful nature of very vigorous exercise, which I define as long-distance running, fast cycling, swimming, and jogging for more than five hours a week, it is best for everyone to avoid these types of exercises that are known to cause elevated cortisol production, chronic inflammation, hormonal imbalance and eventually infertility.

However, in the case that you are a woman who is overweight and greatly lacking in any sort of physical activity, it is imperative to increase your level of physical activity to improve fertility health. Just keep in mind that less is more when it comes to exercise and you do not need to kill yourself exercising trying to lose weight.

WHY LESS IS MORE

Despite the “no pain, no gain” myth, you do not need to spend as much time exercising as you were told. When it comes to exercise, like most other things, it is a matter of quality over quantity.

As we have covered in detail; exercise is  a stress and therefore, we want to keep that window of stress hormone production to a minimum. This will help us increase our adaptability and resilience to stress without overproducing stress hormone and weakening our immunity.

So long as you are willing to in authentic vigorous effort when you do exercise, you will reap more benefits within a shorter time span.

The reason for this is simple; the longer you workout, the most stress hormones your body produces and the more lactic acid your body produces, which your kidneys and liver have to eliminate. Eventually, in the case of too much exercise, you hit a line of diminishing returns. This is a point in which you’ve gone beyond the balance of give and take. Exercise is supposed to give us energy to withstand stress, at the expense of some of our own energy. This is how the universe works, and this is how our metabolic system works; you gotta give some to get some. 

When you over do this; such in the case of overeating, oversleeping or over exercising, you run into obvious negative consequences.

On the other hand, when you exercise to the point of increased energy, such as in the case of high-intensity interval training, super slow eccentric strength training, vigorous dancing, or other exercises were you give your full and complete effort 20 minutes, on and off, you reap reward.

These types of exercises dramatically cut down on your exercise time, reduce the production of stress hormones while maximizing the release of HGH (human growth hormone), testosterone (anabolic, fat-burning, muscle building, sex hormone) and other youth hormones. 3

This is simply the result and reward of using your body as it was designed to be used.

ACHIEVING EXERCISE BALANCE

For those of you who desire to embark on one of the most honorable, respectable and divine abilities of woman and become pregnant, I deeply admire your courage. For those of you who enjoy routine exercise and physical training but wish to avoid the potential negative consequences, here are some smart tips to help you do both:

1. Avoid Over-training & Under-eating: A 135-pound female with 20 to 25 percent body fat who is training with high intensity daily needs to eat a minimum of 1900 to 2000 calories a day to maintain fertility. The thyroid plays a huge role in fertility health and exercising without eating enough can lead to sluggish thyroid production. To avoid this, make sure your diet has adequate levels of healthy fat and protein. Also, be sure to get in more carbohydrates than usual when exercising, you’ll need them for thyroid function. Just make sure you go easy on fiber, which in excessive amounts can interfere with ovulation. Some of the best carb sources include organic sweet potatoes, cassava, burro banana, organic white rice, authentic wild rice, homemade sourdough bread, and organic berries.

2. Get Enough Rest & Sleep: Ultimately, we must balance Yang with Yin. If you are going to train hard or exercise frequently, then you need to make sure you rest and recover equally. Sleep is the single most restorative activity we can engage it; nothing promotes such a deep state of homeostasis and self-repair like quality REM sleep. It is through proper sleep, at the correct times (10-4am especially), that our body secretes HGH hormone, self-repair enzymes and goes through the process of physical and neurological regeneration.

So, if you wish to engage in daily and routine exercise because you love it, then you should know just as much about sleep as you do exercise. A good place to start is by reading this blog post. If you are doing any of these things before bed, you’re ruining your results.

3. Exercise in Intervals: Apply high-intensity interval training and Peak Fitness exercises to all of your intense workouts. When done properly, it will trigger the release of human growth hormone (HGH), also known as “the fitness hormone,” or “youth hormone”, which accounts for graceful aging, healthy recovery and more. 

Overall, be honest and aware of your current fitness level and stress levels. Remember, the take away from this post is don’t overdo it! This is especially true for when you first start out. Also keep in mind that success is measured by the individual, based on your current level of fitness, health and stress load (balance of Yin and Yang activity.) If you are overweight, have adrenal and thyroid issues and are generally overly stress, you might reach their anabolic threshold by walking. Others may need to perform sprints and heavy lifting to get the same effect.

The key indicator of a healthy, effective workout is going to be gauged by how you feel after. Despite myth, never workout until you are exhausted, this will lead to the depletion of your Jing and further stress. End your workouts once you have gained new energy. This will ensure you put in enough effort without overdoing it.

The reason this type of training works and is used amongst Olympic Gymnasts is due to the fact that it mimics how our ancestors lived and how animals live in the wild. Remember, our bodies are ex-wild animals, the body is a biological being, it is made up of bacteria just like wild animals. This is also how children behave; they do not “workout” they move vigorously, intuitively and completely balanced by spontaneous naps and frequent leisure. Exercising in these short bursts of explosive activity, rather than running, jogging or moving at a constant low-level rate, will promote optimum health and avoid the damaging effects of chronic stress. That being said, workout in this fashion about two to three times a week or even better, when you actually have the energy to workout – never working “out” when you do not have the internal, authentic energy to do so. Never force yourself.

For a side note: if you are seeking to get pregnant, keep in mind that you will need slightly higher body fat stores to be in the optimal range of health! Reproductive hormones are comprised of FAT and cholesterol, you need fat to produce healthy hormones.

WHAT TO EAT POST-WORKOUT TO OPTIMIZE FERTILITY

Nutrition is one of the most important factors in good health and can either improve or destroy your fitness results. In fact, in a hierarchy, before fitness and movement, stress levels, sleep, and right nutrition precede movement.

One tip is to avoid consuming fructose after you exercise. Yes, avoid fruit. While most bodybuilders and athletes will tell you to eat carbs post workout to replenish glycogen, it is not smart to eat fruit, which contains fructose. Consuming fructose after a workout will increase production of the hormone somatostatin, a primary purpose of which is to inhibit the production of HGH.

Increasing HGH through high-intensity interval exercise is an important factor for optimizing health, longevity and fertility. Therefore, I suggest you avoid refined sugar and fructose before and especially after workouts.

If you are seeking to optimize your fertility then consuming some carbs, will be wise. However, preferably make those carbs dextrose-based, which are high-starch foods that are quickly broken down into dextrose by the natural functions of the body. These include foods like potatoes and white rice. Ideally, cook and cool your starches to develop prebiotic, resistant starch that will digest more efficiently in the body. To save time, you can add Prebiotic+ to a post workout shake. This is one of my favorite products by Natural Stacks.

OTHER TIPS FOR OPTIMIZING FERTILITY

It is estimated that 1 in 6 American couples struggle to get pregnant, and I will say right now the this is on behalf of both sexes. Sperm quality and quantity has significantly dropped in the last 10 years due to estrogen mimicking substances in the food, air, water and environment, amongst other factors. With that being said, I could not recommend enough that anyone seeking to become pregnant read the book Brighton Baby Method. It is one of the most informative books I have ever read, and I have read over 2,000…

So, with fertility decreasing each year and birth defects rapidly rising, there’s something very obvious and apparent that is wrong. This is key evidence that our lifestyles, diets and environments are becoming highly unnatural. After all, birth is one of the most natural phenomenon of all.

Not only are we exposed thousands of toxins each and every day, but most people consume prescribed drugs, eat foods that shouldn’t be allowed to be called food, 80% of people have digestive systems that don’t work, leading to nutrient deficiencies linked to reduced fertility, most people have endocrine imbalances, hormonal problems, not to mention are mentally and emotionally stressed due to unfurling jobs, relationships and are generally struggling to survive in a world that might very well be designed to be an unhappy place. All these things together equate to a recipe for ill health and infertility. 

Because our health and wellness is built upon the effortless communication throughout the body, with our selves, others and the entire universe, we cannot rely on conventional treatments that do not address these root causes of infertility.

These root causes include the things I just mentioned, which make up the wholeness of a person, they are things like: nutritional deficiencies, toxin exposure, chronic stress, food intolerances, allergies, digestive problems, liver congestion, immune deficiencies, mental and emotional turmoil and more.

These critical factors are the foreground for life and therefore effect the quality of your eggs and sperm, and your overall ability to conceive, reproduce and give life to a new being. It is simple, our off spring are made of us; not just our sperm and eggs. Our reproductive fluids, glands, and organs are just parts of the whole. If we are not healthy overall, how can we expect to give life to a healthy being? Which brings us to a final fact, fertility IS health. However, in the Western World, we have cut everything into specialized fragments to the point that we have someone bought into an idea that we could be healthy and infertile. But the truth is, the level of our fertility health is in direct proportion to the level and quality of our overall health.

To be specific, during the generation and maturation of gamete cells (sperm and ovum) that produce an embryo, everything that you and your partner are form that embryo. That includes everything ingest, inhale, are exposed to and even think and feel will make up and determine the health of your eggs and sperm that will ultimate determine the quality of the raw genetic materials that are passed onto your child.

Therefore, it is of upmost importance that you prepare way ahead of time. Mot people falsely think that the time of healthy changes come once they conceive and are pregnant. however, everything that you are is a result of everything you have been and done for years prior. Hence the importance of following an intelligent preconception plan for a minimum of 1-3 years before conception. Remember, your future baby is a 50-50 product of you and your partner; so the question is, what are you two made of?

While I ultimately recommend reading the book Brighton Baby for a much more in-depth protocol, and for the sake of brevity in this post keep this post. here are some holistic tips to consider for optimizing your fertility health:

  • Optimize your vitamin D levels: Thyroid function is a major determining factor in fertility health and a healthy child. One of the key nutrients for thyroid function is vitamin D3. Vitamin D effects fertility in multiple ways, it improves the balance of progesterone and estrogen in women, which helps regulate menstrual cycles and improves your likelihood of conception. In men, vitamin D is essential for the healthy development of sperm cells. It improves semen quality and sperm quantity and motility. Vitamin D also helps raise healthy testosterone levels. I recommend getting this vitamin the safe way with optimal sun exposure. Supplementing without the proper balance of K2 and vitamin. To learn more about the benefits of Sun, read this post. 
  • Avoid GMOs: These “non-foods” not only are non-compatible for the human metabolic system, they contain significant concentrations of the herbicide glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, which is known to cause infertility, androgyny and other issues of the reproductive system. The top GMO foods include wheat, sugar beets, corn, soy, zucchini, papaya, cotton and canola. Buy organic or better yet, befriend or become a farmer.
  • Avoid the Toxic Chemicals: Our environment is becoming increasingly toxic, many common household products contain estrogen-mimicking compounds like Bisphenol-A (BPA), phthalates, fluoride (in drinking water), MSG, and many, many others, all which are known to negative impacts on your reproductive health.
  • Consume a Wholesome Diet: In short, you want a diet that is 100% organic and homegrown. Make sure it features mostly low-carb veggies, rich in antioxidants, along with healthy animal protein and fats and generally low in sugar and grains. Avoid all industrial animal products (meat, eggs, dairy, and fish), which are heavily contaminated with endocrine disruptors, PCBs and mercury. Instead, only eat locally raised, organic and pastured meat, dairy and eggs. Choose wild-caught cold-water fish like salmon, sardines and anchovy, which contain little to no mercury.  I recommend supplementing with a high-quality purified fish or krill oil. Make your diet 50% raw, mostly your meat, dairy and eggs being raw. Be sure to cook all cruciferous veggies and generally eat a diet that is warming. Soups and bone broths are fantastic foods, they warm the womb and bring in reproductive fluids. I recommend the dietary principles of Sri Lankan tradition.
  • Eliminate Food Intolerances: Celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and other food intolerances have linked to fertility problems in both sexes. In men, consuming foods you are intolerant to can cause abnormal sperm, lower sperm numbers, altered shape, and reduced function. Men with untreated celiac disease usually have lower testosterone levels. In general, consuming foods you are intolerant too will cause chronic inflammation and immune hyperactivity. Take a food allergy test or IGF test to determine food intolerance or try an elimination diet. The foods that cause the most issues are eggs, dairy, nuts/seeds, legumes and nightshades.
  • Reduce EMF exposure: Recent research suggests that cell phones and laptop use on the lap can negatively impact sperm quality. EMFs are electromagnetic fields that essentially fry the sperm cells and mutate DNA. Eliminate use of these things, keep use to a minimum of 2 hours a day and spend plenty of time outdoors! Also, switch all lightbulbs to full spectrum and shut off Wifi at night.

Final Considerations

Let us look to the wisdom of ancient Chinese, Indian and Sri Lankan people. In nature, pregnancy and womb man body is nurturing, warming, holding and embracing. All beautiful qualities that can be and often are lost and in today’s Western World.

It seems through social engineering, programming and media women have began to fear a natural, “womanly” shape. I personally blame Instagram, Hollywood and the modeling Industry. In my opinion, the glorification of fitness models, celebrities and “stars” is an invalidation to the “normal” person. If we keep giving praise to these people, how can we ever see and recognize the satisfaction and gratitude for our own lives?

To each their own, we all have the right to be, do or have whatever we please. However, there is an obvious sense of inferiority that many women feel by comparing themselves to photoshopped images of women who spend their entire lives dieting, exercising for the sole purpose of looking good in a photo.

All in all, the relentless pursuit of the fitness model physique may be aesthetically pleasing to some portion of the brain, but it is an unnatural form, which may very well cause physical complications within the abdominal wall and womb.

For women, the womb is the source and end of all Qi (vitality) in the body. This tells me that the womb is an area of delicacy and strength. It needs to be treated with respect, not force.

My wish is that women reading this can at the least see that comparing their bodies to images that are false is a sure way to create suffering. Also, that their bodies as is, are completely beautiful. Both men and women need a value adjustment; away from vanity (rooted in insecurity) and toward the creation of wholesome LIFE to come, rooted in healthy, vitality and nature.

 

The Worst Foods for Digestive Health

Want a healthy gut?

Then it is imperative you avoid the toxic, non-foods I am going to talk about with you in this post.

Some people treat their bodies like a Ferrari, others, like a garbage disposal. And while I do not generally advise obsessiveness with eating – as it can easily lead to some form of orthorexia – I do advise against junking and abusing the body.

A well-fed body that is given a healthy, wholesome diet with the right balance of macro and micro-nutrients, wild spring water, unrefined salts, vitamins, soluble and insoluble fiber, and free of toxicity and non-compatible compounds will naturally avoid the issues and problems of indigestion.

If you’re feeding your body foods that are not a biocompatible match for the human metabolic system, foods that are poisoned with toxins, heavy metals and adulterated macronutrients and then you are going to have problems.

It is truly that simple; however, while we’ve been told all our lives to “eat healthy”, there has always been too much subjective dietary dogma and half-truths, along with the enforcement to “eat our veggies” to allow anyone the freedom and space to actually do so. Therefore, making wise food choices has somehow become an epidemic issues, when it is otherwise the most natural, effortless and enjoyable thing we as humans were designed to do.

So, this is first and foremost know this; a bad diet can ruin a good digestive system. No amount of superfoods, fiber supplements and probiotic potions will make up for a poor diet. Therefore, we must first eliminate the cause and cut the junk. We all know what junk food is, we don’t need to justifying eating shit, it isn’t even biologically compatible in our bodies, it never was and will never be. Our bodies were made from the Earth and therefore we should be feeding it the beautiful bounty that Mother Nature has provided you with. Or we don’t and end up sick; the choice is ours.

With that being said, it probably goes without saying that real, wholesome food produced by the rich soils of Earth provides the perfect fuel in which the body functions with grace and efficiency. When disregard this fact, we end up health problems like indigestion, which includes a variety of symptoms including, pain, bloating, nausea, gas, fluctuating bowel movements and eventually if not addressed more severe issues like hormonal imbalance.

Therefore, what not to eat becomes equally important as what to eat. In my point of view, it is more important, considering the counter-effect it can have. Eating the following foods can cause so much distress and inflammation in the digestive system that it can potentially cause you to not digest even the healthy foods.

THE GUT MICROBIOME

The human micro-biome contains a few hundred trillion cells of bacteria, both good and bad. The bacteria in the body outnumber human cells 10:1. What’s more is that the micro biome outnumbers the genome 100:1. In a few words, your body is a bacterial being.

Most of these bacteria live inside the intestines—mostly the large intestine. However, they also cover your skin, hair, mouth and most of your entire body. They just so happen to have an affinity to biofilm (the gel-like mucus) that lines the intestinal wall, secreted by intestinal cells.

In addition to the white blood cells and other immune cells that make up your immunity, these bacteria and yeast, also live and reside within the mucosal lining of your digestive tract. Essentially, our immune system is made up of immune cells and bacteria, which protect the lymph, which makes up the rest of your immune system.

These things together is the gut micro-biome, a collection of bacteria, yeast, pathogens, and immune cells living together (ideally, symbiotically) in the marvelous mucosal areas of your body.

You “inner ecosystem” evolves with you and is an extension of how you live, where you live (environment) and even how you think (there is a strong correlation between your psyche and micro-biome). There is an interlaced relationship between your immune system and microbes; they are in constant two-way communication with your body. Because of this, your micro-biome is the center of you physical well-being.

Here are just a few key roles of the micro-biome:

  • Communicating with and regulating your immune system
  • Signaling to other mucosal tissue (vagina, lungs or mouth), in times of distress to achieve balance
  • Inflammatory signaling
  • Hormonal balance
  • Regulating the skin microbiome

And just like any system in the human body, the microbiome is susceptible to injury, imbalance and disease. The same things that damage other systems and organs in the body; like stress from the environment, mental and emotional stress, and of course nutritional stress (bad diet) all easily damage this precious system.

Because your micro-biome essentially is your immune system, you could say that ultimately, the root cause of all disease is chronic stress on the immune system or micro-biome. That is why in holistic health we have one objective; heal the immune system, and the whole body heals.

However, given the close relationship of your digestive system and micro-biome, some specific signs your micro-biome is damage include the common hallmarks of poor digestion, like:

  • Heartburn
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Intestinal pain or cramping
  • Frequent gas
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Digestive disease (Crohn’s, IBS, IBD, Ulcerative colitis, etc.)

Due to the fact that each person manifest inflammation (a root cause of disease) in their own unique way, damage to the immune system and micro biome can be either obvious or silent. In other words, it is common for some to think their your digestive tract is healthy; meanwhile, they are experiencing less direct symptoms like frequent migraines, skin issues (eczema, psoriasis, acne), allergies, fibromyalgia, joint pain, or chronic energy and mood disorders like anxiety or depression.

Therefore, in order to ensure optimal digestive health (despite the variances in symptoms) we need to focus on the health of our immune system and microbiome. This is something that everyone can benefit from. In order to do this, consider the following.

We know now that pathogenic microbes have a different diet than healthy probiotic bacteria. Therefore, one of the best ways to take care of your inner ecosystem is to know which foods and beverages each one of them favor. Below are some of the most troublesome foods for the digestive system, essentially, these are foods that cause gut-inflammation and feed pathogens.

TOP 5 FOODS TO AVOID

1. Soda: What may otherwise be called “fizzy, sugar water”, most soda or pop contain a concerning amount of refined sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, or synthetic sweeteners that change how gut bacteria metabolize energy. Upon feeding on these sweeteners, gut pathogens trigger an inflammatory response and ultimately invert the communities of bacteria and yeast living in your digestive tract from a balance of 80% probiotics and 20% pathogens to 80% pathogens to 20% probiotics.

Drinking that soda (this goes for diet soda as well) destroys and inverts the gut micro biome, to such a degree that the gut can become leaky, and cause a variety of autoimmune conditions, skin problems and hormonal issues.

Be aware of sodas that claim to contain “natural” sweeteners too, as companies can technically call white, table sugar natural. Also, artificial, sugar-free sweeteners can also trigger an inflammatory response and negatively affect bacteria and yeast in the digestive tract.

2. Cereal Grains: I am not referring simply to breakfast cereal (though a common source for these inflammatory, adulterated grains) I am referring to industrialize, mono-cropped grains and their products. This includes non-organic, conventional whole grains, flours and their byproducts (quick-rise bread, pasta, cakes, and crackers, etc.)

The most common cereal grains are wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats and soy. All of these are the most common Genetically Modified grains, which mean their molecular structure are adulterated to contain pesticides within their genetic code. This not only means you are ingesting pesticides, but also, the genetic sequence of these foods become non-biocompatible to the human body and therefore, the immune system sees it as an invader, causing chronic immune reactions when consumed. Additionally, most of these contain gluten, are are contaminated with modified gluten, a pro-inflammatory protein that is known to destroy the gut lining and make it “leaky”. This protein, especially when hybridized many times and in many cases, modified genetically, is even more damaging to the gut.

Organic, wholesome grains alone are already tough to digest as-is, considering they contain Phytates and Lectins (plant “toxins” that protect the seed”). In order to be digestible, grains need to be properly fermented, soaked and germinated to release these digestive inhibitors. As you can imagine, given the length and time of proper fermentation, it is never the case for speedily prepared, processed and industrial grain products to be properly prepared.

3. Vegetable Oils: Polyunsaturated fats, trans fats and other “bad” fats are some of the worst foods for the gut. These are heat sensitive fats that because of heavy processing and commercialization, end up rancid very fast. Once rancid, these fats are essentially indigestible and result in pale-colored stool, a phenomenon called steatorrhea, which is indicated by undigested fat in the stool.

What’s more, the breakdown of polyunsaturated fats is one important mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of inflammation, cancer, and atherosclerosis.

This breakdown occurs during the manufacture of vegetable oils. As you can imagine, getting millions of dollars of oil in a plastic bottle for sale involves a lot of time, travel, exposure to elements (air and sunlight especially) and all these factors together aid in the degeneration of the oil. To add to the damage, people often bring these already inflammatory oils home and cook with them, further denaturing and oxidizing them.

The worst fats and oils include most vegetable oils like canola, soybean, corn, and sometimes even olive oil. Olive oil is a mono-unsaturated fat, making it a bit more shelf-stable. However, most people make the mistake of cooking with olive oil, when it should be used raw.

4. Moldy Coffee: Not all coffee is created equally. Another byproduct of the industrial food system is really bad coffee. Thanks to research done by Dave Asprey, we know now that large scale and poor quality coffee plantations breed moldy coffee. These mycotoxin ladened coffees not only cause undesirable side effects like brain fog but also contain a protein very similar to a protein found in commercial wheat gluten. This can cause the immune system to overreact to coffee with similar inflammatory responses that it does when exposed to toxic gluten.

And while we are on the subject of cross-contamination, keep in mind that the Industrial Food System is like a massive food orgy. In one factory, billions of different products are being made using a mess of ingredients including everything from milk, oats, corn, soy, peanuts to fish and more. And you can guarantee most of them are from mono-crop or factory farms. This leads to a sort of “Industrial Food Transmitted Disease”, cross-contamination, which is going to have your immune system in hyperdrive with inflammatory responses.

If you’re going to drink coffee, make sure it is mold-free coffee.

5. Alcohol (Spirits): First off, I will start by saying that it is true that not all alcoholic beverages are the same; some are much worse than others. For example, commercial beer, liquor and other spirits are commonly made mostly of GMO-corn and other GMO cereal grains. As discussed earlier, these contain modified gluten and a variety of toxins, pesticides, chemicals and other gut-irritating additives.

However, I also want to point out the roots of the word “alcohol”. I’ve been in the health and wellness industry along time, and so in my free time, I study etymology, semantics, language, and other ancient knowledge. I find that most problems can be traced back to illiteracy and not knowing the meanings of words. Also, that by finding out root meanings of words, things become a lot less dogmatic or confusing and a lot more simple.

With that being said, looking to ancient texts, Etymology (facts of the origin and development of a word,) the word “alcohol” shows up in the world of Alchemy. The word has been translated to “spirits” because in Alchemy, alcohol is and was used for extracting the essence or “spirit” from different substances. For example, in making a tincture of a medicinal mushroom, one would use alcohol to extract its essence (vitamins, nutrients, minerals and other medicinal constituents).

Interestingly enough, the consumption of alcohol has the same effect on the body. There is also more practical, scientific explanations for this. Alcohol tends to be acidic and cause spikes and irregutlatires in blood sugar and insulin. These effects can cause minerals to be extracted from the bones, adrenals and else where, to help normalize blood pH. In any of these cases, irregular blood sugar, hormonal imbalance and mineral deficiencies can weaken the glands and organs that rule digestion, such as the Liver, which is the key digestive organ in the body.

In addition to that, commercial alcoholic beverages are usually poorly fermented, similar to the way quick-rise breads are. Instead of brewing for months on end, collecting a variety of beneficial yeasts and organisms, commercial beers, wines and other products are usually quickly fermented using chemicals and then pasteurized, killing off potential beneficial microorganisms, destroying B vitamins, and potentially causing only resistant strains of yeast like Candida yeast to survive.

It is also well known that alcohol directly damages cells along the digestive tract and drives inflammation in the gut, which alter your gut microbiome, contributing to bacterial overgrowth or gut dysbiosis.

All these things together can contribute to poor organ function, overall bad health and gut inflammation.

What Can Be Done?

I know this blog was filled with a lot of undesirable information; however, in my opinion there is no such thing as “negative news” if it provides key data about issues. It might not be the most pleasant of truths but this information helps us refine the problems of our health. And as I say so many times, the cure is in the cause.

If you wish you be healthy it is a simple game; don’t engage in activities, thoughts and emotions that destroy your health. 

Ultimately, we cannot know a solution without first identifying the problem in totality. By being aware of these problems and eliminating them, we are more than half way there.

As far as what to do and eat instead, well, listen to your gut – our body’s are incredibly intelligent, if you listen, they will tell you what they need. This if a fundamental philosophy of Eastern Medicine; that our bodies will always know what to do and how to heal if we simply get out of their way.

However, for those of you still interested alternative activities and relearning wellness, I have an entire, comprehensive online course on the subject of Perfect Digestion.

You can enroll HERE.

The Ultimate Guide to Natural Sweeteners: Stevia, Birch Xylitol, Monk Fruit, Lucuma, Maple, & Raw Honey

Since the release of my recipe books Dessert First and The Gourmet Foodie, I have been receiving a few emails a week about the different types of sweeteners I use. What are they about, where are they from, what makes them healthy, which is the best, how to substitute and so on.

In réponses to these emails, I wanted to put together this post and answer these questions and also give some insight into why I use these particular sweeteners and their surprising medicinal benefits.

The Not so Sweet Side of Sugar

Before we dive into these sweeteners, it’s helpful to know why I do not consume refined sugar, cane sugar, HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup), other varieties of table sugar and especially artificial sweeteners .

The above mentioned choice of sweeteners are not ideal and often considered for a few practical reasons:

  • Suppresses immune function – Brown sugar and white sugar, even molasses suppresses immune activity for a few hours when consumed. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose are even worse in their suppressive effects on the immune system. Studies have confirmed that consuming these sweeteners triggers an inflammatory response that shuts down immune function for a couple of hours until the sugar has been processed out of the liver. 1
  • Feeds pathogenic microbes – Interestingly enough, glucose and sugar or carbs are non-essential. That is why you’ve never heard the term “essential sugar” or “essential carbohydrate”. There are however, essential fatty acids and amino acids, meaning the body does not create them. The liver does however produce it’s own glucose and typically anything beyond what the liver can create on it’s own is not essential. That doesn’t mean we cannot utilize carbohydrates and natural sugars for let’s say thyroid function or to replenish glucose more quickly after a workout. But keep in mind, what modern science says about how much sugar we need is usually far off. Looking at our micro biome, our probiotic bacteria feed off of healthier, longer chain sugars like polysaccharides and oligosaccharides and cellulose from vegetables. Pathogenic bacteria however feed off of excess undigested food and sugar. It has even been proven that cancer cells feed off of sugar. In a nutshell, sugar is usually more or less fuel for pathogens, viruses, unhealthy bacteria, and cancer cells. 2
  • Burdens and damages the liver – Sugar is essentially crystalline acid in the body; its a major toxin to the body in the wrong amounts. While the body can process a small amount of natural sugar, it is not designed to handle anywhere near the amounts people consume today. The liver produces its own glucose, typically too much beyond its natural amounts is almost too much for the body, with perhaps the exception of post-work times for athletes who burn through glycogen stores (still not something to be done frequently). Fructose (fruit sugar) is even worse in high amounts, mimicking the effects of alcohol. When you consume fructose it gets sent to the liver to be transported, which places a heavy burden on the liver, eventually leading to fatty liver disease if the job cannot be carried through. In short, it is excess sugar consumption and carbohydrate intake that causes fatty liver disease, not fat. Healthy fats like grass-fed ghee, coconut oil and raw butter are exception for promoting healthy bile flow and liver function actually. If you are someone who has a history of sugar consumption be it from a Standard American Diet, a fruitarian diet or alcohol consumption, you want to help your liver out – Glutathione is the master antioxidant in the body and can greatly help your liver detoxify and rejuvenate from past damage, toxicity and oxidative stress.
  • Disrupts hormone function and causes fat gain  – Both refined sugar and any sugar in excess is very harmful to the hormonal system. Consume sugar sends mis-signals to two important hormones, insulin and leptin, which are mostly responsible for telling the body how hungry it is or not. This means a broken mind-body connection to hunger, desensitizing us. Fructose desensitizes the metabolism by turning off the body’s appetite-control system. When the body fails to stimulate sufficient insulin, then ghrelin, “the hunger hormone,” fails to be suppressed, which then causes leptin release to become inhibited. Leptin is the “the satiety hormone”. In the long run, this is what happens on a biological level when we become compulsive overeaters and is a common trait of those with insulin resistance.
  • It causes metabolic dysfunction. Eating too much sugar is one of the major causative factors in a broken metabolism – having a lot to do with the above mentioned impact on the hormonal system. Too much sugar can lead to fat gain, obesity (around the belly especially), imbalance in cholesterol (elevated triglycerides), diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • It makes your body Acidic. As mentioned, sugar is like pure acid for the body, even fruit sugar. High uric acid levels are a risk factor for heart and kidney disease. In fact, the connection between fructose, metabolic syndrome, and your uric acid is now so clear that your uric acid level can now be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.

These are the side-effects of consuming too much sugar of any type (even some of the good stuff like fruit, dried fruits, dates, honey and maple syrup) and also consuming very concentrated sources of sugar like refined sugar, HFCS and anything that contains them like processed foods, desserts, and other sweets.

The Best of Sweeteners

Despite the many dark sides of the sweet stuff, not all sweetness is created equally. There are many natural sources of sweetness that do not damage the body and also have surprising health benefits of the body. However, these are not to be confused “sugar alternatives” like Aspartame, Sucralose and other artificial sweeteners, which are linked to many health problems like birth defects, autism, neurological disorders, inflammation, allergies, obesity, endocrine disruption and many others. 3 4

On the top of the list for natural sweeteners we have of course fruits and vegetables. When the body is healthy these foods, amongst others, have a natural sweetness to them that satisfies our need for sweet. Keep in mind, I am gauging the health of the body by an ideal balance of probiotic bacteria to pathogenic bacteria in a 80:20 ratio, optimal hormonal function, and digestive and metabolic efficiency. Also, I am not recommending you use fruit and vegetables to sweeten your coffee and chocolate; however, a couple of organic dates, some berries or green apple may make an appropriate sweetener depending on your recipe.

In this article, I am going to talk more about more similar alternatives to white table sugar, mostly for the uses of sweetening smoothies, Bulletproof Coffee, tea, desserts, and chocolates. For that we need more neutral and flexible sweeteners that can serve many functions – a job that berries alone may not be able to fulfill.

Starting with my favorite sweeteners and the ones I have discovered to have the most health benefits I bring you:

  1. Stevia – This unique sweeter is one of the only sweeteners that is used in its original state, with a bit of drying and grinding that is. Where as many other sweeteners go through a deal of processing, stevia is the leaf of the stevia plant that is typically just dried and ground then added to tea. It has been regularly used by the people of Brazil for over 1,500 years and is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar. It is rather bitter in its raw form but comes with a super sweet aftertaste. In this form, it may take some getting used to but is hands down better than any artificial sweetener and is perhaps the most medical of all plant-based sweeteners. In study, an extract of stevia was found to provide an incredible ability for fighting Lyme disease, a tick-borne multisystemic disease that occurs when the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium is exposed to a weak immune system. Best of all, stevia was found to be even more effect against destroying B. burgdorferi spirochetes, persisters, and their biofilm than drugs like doxycycline and daptomycin, which has negative side effects, like weakening the immune system and killing off probiotic bacteria. Additionally, stevia is found to be anti-cancerous, anti-diabetic (balances blood sugar), balances hormones, regulates blood pressure, and of course helps with fat loss. Stevia is typically one of the top sweetener choices for anyone with cancer, diabetes, autoimmunity, viral infections, candida, and those interested in anti-aging. The best is organic, raw green leaf stevia;  however, it can be bitter, so a water-extracted stevia from the organic whole leaf is my favorite. My two favorites are BodyEcology Stevia and Omica Stevia. A final tip, I find that liquid stevia is best in coffee, tea, smoothies and other liquids – for baked goods and chocolate, keep reading.
  2. Birch Xylitol – If you’re interested in the healthiest alternative to white sugar, birch xylitol is probably it. I have an entire blog post about it HERE. However, in short, it is a sugar alcohol that is derived from the birch tree; the same tree that is home to Chaga mushroom. It tastes very similar to table sugar and is similar in texture, making it really great for baked goods and chocolate. It has no glycemic index and best of all, it can prevent and even reverse bacterial infections of the gums because of its unique 5 carbon molecule chain. The only consideration I have for birch xylitol is that because it is a sugar alcohol, it may not be tolerated well by those with IBS and digestive issues. If this is the case for you, stick with small amounts of raw honey or maple and raw green stevia. Otherwise, birch xylitol could be a life saving for those struggling with sugar addiction and diabetes.
  3. Monk Fruit – Here is another plant-based sugar alternative that is good for your health; however, Monk Fruit is not so popular. Its true name is  Luo Han Guo, but is currently going under the name of Lakanato, which is a blend of Luo Han Guo and Erythritol, which is also a sugar alcohol like xylitol and is about 60 – 80% as sweet as sugar. It exists naturally in human tissues and body fluids. Erythritol is not your average sugar alcohol though; it is fermented, 90% easier to digest than other sugar alcohols, and is actually an antioxidant. Monk fruit on the other hand comes from a small round fruit that grows in Southeast Asia.  In addition to being a zero calorie sweetener, it has been used in Chinese Medicine as tonic herb for raising immunity and as a digestive aid.  You can get a blend of both Monk Fruit and Erythritol HERE.
  4. LucumaSimilar to monk fruit, lucuma also comes from a small, sweet fruit. Lucuma fruit grows in Peru; however, is typically sold in the form of a dried whole fruit powder. Unlike xylitol and stevia, lucuma does have a glycemic index and some calories. However, it has many health benefits worth noting; it supports healthy skin, and digestion. Lucuma also has a history of use as a cardiovascular tonic, for balancing blood sugar, and regulating blood pressure issues. It is ideal for desserts, chocolate and smoothies – I wouldn’t recommend putting it in coffee or tea; however, Adriana and I use it often for tonics in Dessert First.
  5. Maple Syrup – While sugar is still sugar, and maple syrup does contain sucrose that may not be beneficial for those with low immunity, yeast/fungal infections, or diabetes – for a person in good health, this old fashioned sweetener is actually surprisingly beneficial for our health. Unlike most other sweeteners, maple contains minerals that make it alkalizing to the blood and aid in the healthy metabolization of it. Additionally, it contains 24 different phenolic antioxidants that fight inflammation and inhibit oxidative stress. With these abilities, it can help protect us from cancer, a variety of inflammatory disease and even promote healthier skin. When choosing maple syrup, always go with local, organic and darker, grade B maple syrup, which contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups.
  6. Raw Honey – Perhaps the mecca of healthy sweeteners, raw honey has been around for thousands of years and is a praised health food. While I’ve referred to it as ‘caramel sunshine’ it is so much more than a sweet treat; it is a natural anti-bacterial, immune boosting, superfood. In its raw and untreated state, it contains living enzymes, bacteria, propolis, pollen and antioxidants that promote a healthier immune system allergic response, ideal weight, better sleep and can even be used topically to heal wounds and infections. It is low on the glycemic index and can be safely consumed by most people and when mixed with good quality cinnamon can actually help regulate blood sugar levels. My favorite is Manuka Honey – as it is the only raw honey that has been shown clinically to be effective against any type of pathogen, and work even where antibiotics fail. However, the best is to consume local honey to get in the local allergens from the environment to build immunity.

 

 

While I do not promote junk-food eating and sugar binges, I definitely support real food sweetness and a healthy relationship with food. The more you resist something, the more you want it and the more important you make it. While a low sugar diet is ideal for good health, it does not mean you can never have sugar again. I say the less fuss over food the better and by focusing on quality, you won’t ever need to be deprived again.

I hope this information helps you make wiser decisions when picking what sweetener is best for you! And remember, everybody needs a little sweetness in its life, don’t take life so seriously, enjoy a little bit of sweet now and then.

Bulletproof Mint Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches

Summer is coming to a close but here in Orlando it’s still pushing 100 degrees. What better way to cool down than an official Bulletproof Ice Cream Sandwich with some cooling fresh mint?

In case your not familiar with the metabolic benefits of this extra creamy ice cream, you can grab the details here. Otherwise, let’s get started…

Here’s what you’ll need:

(for the cookies)

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F
  2. In a food processor, mix all of your dry ingredients
  3. Add in your wet ingredients and mix until blended thoroughly, adding small amounts of water to get the right cookie dough consistency.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop, form balls and flatten onto a greased cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 18-25 minutes or until lightly brown (will be chewy on the inside)

(For the Ice Cream)

Here’s how you make it:

  1. The first thing you’re going to want to do is melt down all of your fats in a double boiler. Try to do this slowly and not heat up the butter and oil too much, we want it just soft enough to blend consistently.
  2. Once your butter and coconut oil have liquified, add in your xylitol and whisk it until it begins to dissolve a bit. It doesn’t need to be fully dissolved as the Blender will do most of the work.
  3. Pour this mixture into your Blendtec or high-speed blender, crack your eggs into the blender. Remember, you want 8 yolks but only 4 of them containing the white. The protein in the egg white adds to the consistency.
  4. Now add the rest of your ingredients except for the cacao nibs, those will be added by hand at the end. Then, blend it on the lowest setting, gradually increasing the speed to high.
  5. Once it’s blended together, let it sit for a second for it to settle out any air bubbles. Then pour into your ice cream maker or into a glass pyrex container.
  6. If using an ice cream maker, just follow the directions that came with it. If you’re freezing it, I find that it takes about 8 hours to freeze perfectly. I like making this at night so it’s reading in the am the next day.
  7. Lastly, scoop onto one of my Bulletproof Cookies (recipe above) and sandwich together!

For more recipes like this, grab a copy of my recipe books HERE!

 

Is Your Diet Causing Gum Disease?

Keeping good dental hygiene is a must for good overall health. The entire body is connected  and the moment we specialize, we pay a price. We cannot split the body up into parts and hope to treat one area without treating the other. The entire body is connected via meridian lines and is ruled by our immune system.

Taking a look into our mouths we find there are 32 teeth with 32 vertebrae in the spine and each are connected to one another. Not just that, but every tooth and vertebrae are connected to specific organ systems within the body.

When we fail to keep our mouths clean our immune system starts to suffer. Likewise, if we do not care for our digestive systems and organs, our teeth can suffer, leading to a vicious cycle of problems. In fact, periodontal disease (bleeding gums) has been linked to a host of health problems, including diabetes, low birth weight, pre-eclampsia, placental infections, infertility even cancers of the blood. 1

Bleeding gums are caused by a species of pathogenic bacteria known as spirochetes in the mouth. They literally eat away at the gum lining causing them to bleed. As this progresses, we find that overtime as we eat, we release a micro-amount of pathogens into the blood stream for the immune system to handle.

Diet & Dental Problems

Many people are voluntarily giving themselves gum disease, tooth decay and the dental problems without knowing. Research has shown time and time again that sugars, including fruit sugar and “healthy sugars” alter the pH of the mouth. A lowered pH in the mouth leads to the overgrowth of harmful pathogens like Streptococcus mutants, which promote dental plaque and is often the cause of street throat. 2

However, how many doctors treat strep throat by addressing dental hygiene and overall immunity? Typically, strep is treated with a round of antibiotics that simply knock out ones immunity, never addressing the root, lifestyle problems like a high-carb, sugary diet, stress and other factors that lower immunity.

Foods That Cause Tooth Decay & Gum Disease

Sometimes a “healthy diet” isn’t enough for keeping the teeth healthy. And if our diet isn’t supporting dental health, then is it really supporting our overall health? I’d say no.

Even with a healthy diet, some foods on this list will cause a tooth decay, gum problems and more. Some healthy foods that may be problematic may not need to be avoided all-together but rather, consumed on occasion. However, many people who get caught in too strict of dietary dogmas, often consume these foods in excess.

Many vegan, vegetarian and especially modern American and Western European diets contain foods that weaken the immune system and cause tooth decay. Some of these foods are even considered “healthy foods”, yet they only lead to problems.

At basic, the more you avoid these foods, the better of a chance you have to avoid tooth problems and even remineralize your teeth.

Also know, you are always free to do whatever you want with your life, diet, etc. Some will never consume foods that may be most helpful for their overall dental health and immunity, such as raw animal products, because of their own ethics. I understand, there is a principle of least harm and greatest good. If that is you, then do the best you can and own the responsibility of your own choices. However, these guidelines will without doubt benefit the health of your teeth and mouth.

You be the judge, but here are the foods I recommend to avoid when healing the teeth:

  • Avoid sweets and foods sweetened with these items—white sugar, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, jams, dried fruit, candy bars, health food bars, yacon syrup, erythritol, lo han, palm sugar, coconut sugar, glycerin, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), brown rice syrup, malted barley and grain sweeteners, maltodextrin, sucrose, dextrose, sucralose, aspartame, and saccharine.
  • Avoid white flour, GMO or altered grain products and even non-fermented organic grain products such as: crackers, cookies, doughnuts, pies, breakfast cereals, granola, muffins, pastries, flour tortillas, bagels, noodles, pasta, pizza, couscous, bread and nearly every packaged product that contains grains.
  • Avoid non-germanted or fermented whole grains including whole wheat, rye, kamut, spelt, brown rice, and quinoa, especially non-organic.
  • Avoid raw, non-sprouted nuts and nut butters —including all raw nuts, as well as peanut butter, raw almond butter and raw tahini.
  • Avoid hydrogenated oils such as, margarine or other butter substitutes.
  • Avoid low quality vegetable oils such as, vegetable, soybean, canola, corn and safflower oils, and Crisco®. Also, be careful if you eat out; most restaurants use these vegetable cooking oils because of how cheap they are.
  • Avoid pasteurized, homogenized or grain-fed dairy products. Also avoid low-fat dairy products and powdered milk and anything that contains it.
  • Avoid store-bought nut milks including, rice milk, soy milk, hemp and almond.
  • Avoid table salt and the many foods that contained refined salt. Table salt throws off electrolyte balance, causing blood pressure problems and other issues that affect the teeth negatively.
  • Avoid conventional fast foods and junk foods.
  • Avoid stimulants like poor-quality coffee, soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, or alcohol. Do not smoke cigarettes and consume only raw cacao without sugar.
  • Avoid unfermented soy including isolated soy protein, tofu, soy, veggie burgers, soy “meat” and soymilk.
  • Avoid most green powders. Many green powders have sugar and improperly prepared ingredients that should be fermented. There are a few exceptions, which would be 100% food-based dried powders with no sweeteners added.
  • Avoid factory farmed meat, fish, and eggs. The quality nutrients in these sick animals are toxic and contain many chemicals and estrogens and above all else, contribute to animal suffering and a sick industrial food system.
  • Avoid too much fruit. Even though fruit is natural, people often eat too much. Be very careful with sweet fruits like as oranges, bananas, grapes, peaches, blueberries and pineapple especially, which are high in fructose that can alter the mouth pH and lead to plaque and rob the teeth of minerals.
  • Avoid medications, over-the-counter drugs, and vaccines. These damage the liver, weaken the immune system and glandular system – many are causative factors in tooth decay.
  • Avoid food additives like MSG, nitrates, and nitrites.
  • Avoid all commercially processed foods; crackers, chips, boxed cereals, pastries, cookies, TV dinners, packaged sauce mixes, etc.
  • Avoid synthetic vitamins and any foods containing “fortified” ingredients.

Acceptable Foods List

As far as acceptable foods go, here is a counter-list to the previous foods to avoid list:

  • Acceptable sweets would be raw honey, organic maple syrup (grade B preferred), real cane sugar, raw stevia (actual herb), whole low-glycemic fruits like berries.
  • Acceptable grains like truly fermented sourdough bread made with unbleached flour (bran and germ removed), partially milled rice that is soaked with a starter. White rice is acceptable.
  • Acceptable nuts and butters would be those that are properly germinated and soaked first. You can also dehydrated nuts after soaking and eat 2 oz. daily.
  • Acceptable fats are preferably raw, organic and always from small producers. The most healing fats would include coconut oil, palm oil, stone-crushed olive oil, raw butter, grass-fed lard, tallow, chicken, duck and goose fat.
  • Acceptable dairy products are raw and grass-fed from Jersey cows, goats, and sheep. Always go for whole fat, not skimmed. When you have only grocery store options for dairy products then choose vat-pasteurized, grass-fed dairy products from smaller, local farms. Fermented dairy like yogurt, kefir and cultured butter are better than non-fermented. If you can’t find local, then choose products from Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, which contain far more clean soils and environments.
  • Acceptable salts are Himalayan salt, Celtic Sea Salt, Real Salt and other unheated sea salts.
  • Acceptable soy products are traditionally fermented—You can have small amounts of unpasteurized soy sauce, miso, and natto.
  • Acceptable proteins are grass-fed or even better wild-caught animals and fish. These offer superior quality, more bioavailable than most plant-proteins, are complete proteins and are least allergenic proteins. They are true superfoods and have been consumed longest by man. Just be sure to note the differences between industrial, commercial animal food and grass-fed, local and wild. You can read more here. 

Foods that Heal Teeth and Gums

The billion dollar question remains, what do we eat? Well, amongst the dietary warfare, there are neutral grounds. There are also questionable grounds. For dental health there are foods you will find specifically healing for those who have the trouble of low immunity or teeth problems. These foods may not be in alignment with your values around eating, therefore, the choice is yours to either help your body achieve an ideal state of health, or deal with the dental consequences of your current diet. My hope is that you can find a happy medium, more freedom in eating, gained awareness of healthy eating and of course, greater dental and overall well-being.

That being said, here are some therapeutic foods that contain necessary nutrients for a strong immune system, healthy microbial balance, strong teeth and healthy gums:

  • Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Try 1⁄2 teaspoon two or three times per day of Green Pasture’sTM Blue IceTM Royal Blend. Cod liver oil is a rich source of fat-soluble nutrients that build immunity, healthy hormones and glandular systems. In my time spent living in France, I found that every child was raised on this scared food. I also found the French to have healthier teeth, incredible hair, overall healthier frames.
  • 2 cups of raw grass-fed, whole-fat milk, kefir, clabber, or yogurt or 4 ounces of raw grass- fed cheese preferably from Jersey Cows. If you cannot tolerate dairy or do not wish to consume it for moral reasons then you will want to up your doses of green vegetables for calcium and magnesium. Strive for 3 cups of a cooked green veggies in variety each day. Even better if you ferment them. You can also consume raw coconut kefir.
  • Bone broths or stews made from local, pastured meat or fish made from a gelatin-rich broth. Get a recipe HERE and be sure to add in sea veggies to added minerals.
  • 2-8 ounces of high-quality animal protein or wild-caught fish from either anchovy, sardine, herring, mackerel, halibut or salmon.
  • Vitamin C-rich foods; broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, mustard greens, cabbage, sauerkraut, kohlrabi, liver and adrenal glands.
  • Probiotic foods; especially coconut kefir and raw kraut.
  • Something we can all agree on – eat mostly non-starchy vegetables such cabbage, kale, spinach, zucchini, green beans, broccoli, etc.

Homemade Tooth Paste for Gum Infections

IMG_6940

Keeping a strong immune system is key for healthy gums and teeth. Therefore, diet, exercise, and stress-management are usually far more important things to consider when keeping your teeth healthy, we cannot overlook dental hygiene.

Here is a quick, easy and very effective homemade tooth paste that can wipe out gum disease within days:

  • 1 cup aluminum-free baking soda (baking soda spot kills the spirochetes that cause bleeding gums and also neutralizes lactic acid produced by these bacteria that cause tooth decay.)
  • 1/2 cup spring water
  • 2 drops anti-bacterial essential oils (I use this one, it’s incredible).
  • 1/2 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp. organic extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. birch xylitol (xylitol breaks down the bio-film produced by harmful pathogens in the mouth, making it easier for them to be washed away during waterpiking).
  1. In a bowl, mix all ingredients together to form a paste. Store in a dark glass jar out of direct light. Use it twice a day in addition to the dietary and lifestyle recommendations.
  2. I would also suggest using a salt rinse, waterpik and gum blotting brush in addition to this tooth paste.

For more tips and wisdom Holistic Dentistry read here.

Tonic Herbs & The Science of Great Sleep

Many neglect sleep or simply do not understand the importance of sleep. If we look to nature we find that every single animal on the planet sleeps at some point in time. Getting adequate rest is not only a great way to stay young, it is one of the single most important factors in recovery and strong immunity – without good sleep, the body inevitably deteriorates.

Your body isn’t the only thing affected by sleep, the brain and emotional body are highly affected by the quality of our sleep. There’s clear ‘research’ that confirms what most of us already know and have seen for ourselves — our moods, cognition and attitude are diminished when we lack good sleep. Have you ever paid attention to the differences in your willingness to help others, listen or pay attention when your body is hardly able to keep it’s eyes open? This is a larger gradient of sleep deprivation but a perfect example.

Sleep Cycles & When to Sleep

Long story short, quality of sleep is far more important than quantity. In order to get the more restorative sleep, we must get to bed earlier in the night – this is when the most slow-wave deep sleep is available. Also, we secrete the most growth hormone (youth hormone) during the first part of our sleep cycle.

As the saying goes,  “early to bed, early to rise makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.” Not just that, getting to bed on time will help you look and feel younger. Growth hormone is the ‘youth hormone’ it keeps everything about our bodies young and radiant.

To get adequate growth hormone its imperative to get to bed by 10 pm and sleep deeply from 12 – 2, this is when the most GH is released. Also, staying asleep until 2 – 4 will supply you with further growth hormone for repairing the brain. We need at minimum these two, two hour sleep cycles to feel become rejuvenated.

Sleep cycles go in 2.5 hour cycles, so 5 hours of sleep is minimum. However, only 5 hours might not be enough to obtain enough youth hormone, as further pulses of growth hormone are secreted in a third sleep cycle. This last stage of sleep is what we known as rapid eye movement (REM) or “dream” sleep. It is most active later in sleep cycles and usually just before we wake – hence the importance for that third cycle. REM sleep is important for the development and health of the brain. Hence the suggestion to get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly – equating to a minimum three cycles of sleep.

Cortisol & Melatonin 

IN order to sleep well, we need low cortisol and high melatonin. Cortisol is a stress hormone that is secreted during the first portion of our day. It wakes us up and puts our bodies in a state for work and action. However, cortisol suppresses melatonin, which is necessary for sleep and is one of the most potent antioxidants in the body.

Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, it increases with darkness and causes drowsiness. It  decreases in the morning as the sun rises and cortisol is secreted. Because melatonin is suppressed by light, being exposed to computer light, phones, televisions or simply working late into the night can lead to melatonin deficiency, insomnia and lowered immunity and aging.

Light isn’t the only thing that leads to poor melatonin production though. Since cortisol inhibits melatonin production it is imperative we control this stress hormone throughout the day.

Tips for Sleeping Deep

Many people look for shortcuts when it comes to their health; a pill, a supplement or some magic sleep technique. However, that’s not how it works. There’s not magic pill for great sleep and good health. Here are a few workable tips for great sleep:

  1. Reset your circadian rhythm. Our natural rhythm is still very much aligned with the Sun and Moon (light and dark) as mentioned earlier. If you’re not all ready, start getting up early and within the first 15 minutes of waking get outside and expose your eyes and skin to the sun light. If you’re rested well enough, some light stretching or a basic sun salutation yoga sequence can help energize you by naturally secreting cortisol. I personally go for a morning walk. A light morning routine in the sunlight can help you sleep better at night by resetting your natural sleep rhythm.
  2. Set time every night to relax. As bedtime approaches – about an hour before – start to celebrate the sleep by winding down. When we jump from our busy day right into bed our bodies are still surging with cortisol and often times many incomplete cycles of thought, communication and action. We need time before before to complete these cycles and simply let our minds finish their thinking. This might involve journaling in a quiet space, taking a hot de-stress bath, lighting candles, playing mantra or doing bedtime yoga.
  3. Take calming herbals. Some herbs are great for calming the mind and relaxing the body for sleep. You may enjoy a simple, non-caffeinated tea such as chamomile, holy basil, or skullcap. Or you could enjoy a more therapeutic, medical Chinese ‘Shen’ herb, which lift the spirit, calm the heart and relax the mind. Bupleurum & Dragon Bone is great for relaxing an overactive mind. It works to move mental energy into your heart, giving you a sense of well-being and being “at home” in your own body. Bupleurum & Dragon Bone is grounding and can also help with other compulsive anxiety behaviors like smoking, drinking, drug use and overeating.
  4. Try melatonin. In cases of jet-lag or severe sleep problems you can supplement with a high-quality, biofermented melatonin for the short-term. Keep in mind that melatonin also suppresses your  create more serotonin (which then turns into melatonin).desire for sex, so there is no permanent solution, especially when it comes to supplements. Start with the lowest amount and increase if necessary. Take it about 45 minutes before bedtime during your night time routine.
  5. Get at least 7.5 hours of sleep. It’s best to sleep in cycles (2.5 hours is one complete sleep cycle.) If you wake up in the middle of one of these cycles you will wake feeling groggy and fatigued. With three or even five complete sleep cycles you’ll experience deeper REM sleep and wake up feeling more energized.
  6. Eat light at night. Avoid eating heavy at bedtime and not too close to bedtime. Ideally, dinner would be around 3-4 hours before bed. So if you sleep by 10, eat by 6 or 7. Also, make your last meal something light and grounding like a moderate carb based meal such as cooked sweet potato, butternut squash or if you can digest it, sprouted quinoa or buckwheat. These healthy carbs contain tryptophan that help create more serotonin, which then turns into melatonin.
  7. Create a sleep schedule. The body loves routine, getting to bed and waking up around the same time helps set your biological rhythm. This way, come bedtime your body will be accustomed to feeling sleep.
  8. Cut the electronics & lights. Light pollution is a major problem in today’s modern world. Too much light from electronics and EMF interferes with melatonin production, so your best bet is to remove all electronics from the bedroom, put the phone on air plane mode and minimize light exposure after 7.

Bulletproof Steak Burritos

As a lover of whole foods, it’s not often you’ll find me eating very complex dishes. In fact, the most complex of any of my meals are the fun and creative desserts I co-create with my beloved partner. Aside from those nutritious and delicious delights, we keep things fairly simple and unprocessed. So the thought of a burrito as a meal never really crossed our mind.

Some sort of tortilla wrap that would need to be created with proper ingredients and minimal processing; in our minds, would actually require a great deal of work; you know, dehydrating and such.

Thankfully, a wonderful company has put together a rep-made Paleo Wrap, made from only three ingredients – all which are quality whole food ingredients. Actually, every ingredient is derived from one superfood, the coconut. That’s right, just raw coconut meat, water and oil is all you’ll find in these wraps. Not only are the ingredients pure, coconut so happens to be an amazingly medicinal food with anti-fungal properties, nourishing healthy fats that support thyroid function and much more.

So for someone who typically keeps their meals simple yet creative, it was fun to get a little recipe inspiration the other day when we came across these Paleo Wraps and decided to finally giving them a go after a few years of their known existence.

Today I put together a Bulletproof Style burrito using organic grass-fed new york strip steak, some raw herb tahini dressing, probiotic kraut and some fresh greens.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium heat and melt down a healthy fat for cooking – I used goat butter, you can use grass-fed ghee or raw butter.
  2. Season your steak with lemon pepper
  3. While everyone has a preference, it’s important to note that how you cook your food determines its health. Overly cooked meat oxidizes the fats and denatures the proteins leading to a toxic, carcinogenic food (learn more about cooking techniques in my book). This is the type of meat that you hear all the bad things about. Organic, grass-fed meat minimally cooked (rare) is a true immune building superfood. That being said, I suggest to cook your steak rare – that means only 2.5 minutes on each side on a medium heated cast iron.
  4. Once your meat is cooked, slice it longways into strips and salt to taste
  5. In your Paleo Wrap, add your greens, kraut then sauce and your meat last.
  6. Roll into a burrito and serve!