Author Archives: nicksfit

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

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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!

Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

Apple pie is nice and all but I’d rather have chocolate any day. While taste preference is certainly a thing, just observing the differences in health benefits of your common apple to cacao I find good ole theobromine to take the cake.

Apples can be beneficial to ones health; containing pectin and fiber that cleanse the colon, liver and gallbladder. The downside though is that many apples are hybridized or cross-pollinated and about as “natural” to their original state as a Chihuahua is to a wild wolfe. That’s right, most modern fruit is in a highly man-altered state, resulting in a fruit that is 60 times sweeter and larger than it would be if it were grown wildly. This means potentially toxic levels of fructose (fruit sugar) and the greater likelihood of it being grown with pesticides.

All that being said,  if you do love an apple every now and then the maximum fructose intake recommended would be about 1 apple per day (ideally a granny smith or wildly picked!)

On the other hand, we have raw cacao and while not all cacao is grown equally, it is certainly non-GMO and of it’s original species, either Forastero, Criollo, or Trinitario. Then of course we have the long list of medicinal benefits that cacao provides:

  • Over 300 potent antioxidant qualties
  • Protein, calcium, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, magnesium, sulfur, flavonoids, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids
  • Lowers LDL cholesterol
  • Improves heart function
  • Reduces risk of cancer
  • Rich in phenethylamine (PEA), which is a natural pain and stress relieving chemicals that stimulates the secretion of endorphins to help us stay alert and focused
  • Rich in anandamide, which produces uniquely euphoric feelings of relaxation and contentment.

With all the reasons to consume cacao and among the many ways to consume cacao, chocolate pie is easy, fun and uniquely delicious. But don’t believe me, try it for your self!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. First make your crust – in a food processor, grind soaked and dried almonds with 2 tbsp. of coconut oil and 1/2 tbsp. vanillamax
  2. Press your crust into a pie dish and refrigerate.
  3. Now for your filling – remove the meat from two young thai coconuts and scrap away and skin.
  4. In a high-speed blender, blend your coconut meat with the 1 cup cacao powder, 4 tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. brain octane, and the rest of the vanillamax until smooth.
  5. Remove pie crust and with a rubber spatula spread your filling into the crust.
  6. Refrigerate overnight and enjoy the next day!

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The Dangers and Ignorance of Veganism

Veganism Isn’t the answer…

Many people have turned to veganism and vegetarianism for a solution to their health problems. Yet, many people’s motives for being vegan are incorrect. Let’s get the dirt facts…

First, there is no such thing as veganism anywhere else in Nature. Going beyond the animal kingdom, right down to the very soil that plant-life comes from we find an almost cannibalistic relationship occurring between organisms.

Lady Eve Balfour, founder of the British Soil Association discovered in her research that soil organisms liquefy minerals and feed them to the plants they are associated with in trade for the plants sugary sap. In other words, soil organisms actually eat “plants milk”. Not just that, we find that the mycorrhiza fungi actually cast filament nets in loops around their symbiotic partner plants with the explicit intent of capturing, killing and eating predatory parasites that want to eat their partner plants.

Once one of these pathogens are capture by the fungi their organs are eaten first and given to their partner plant in exchange of the sugary sap.

What does this mean? It means that over 85% of the plants eaten by vegans and vegetarians are actually carnivorous. So if a vegan eats a carnivore, does that mean they’re still vegan? Talk about a paradox…

Not to mention, plants are living, feeling creatures too. For all the compassionate vegans, consider that for a moment – plants have feelings too – how do you think those plants feel being ground to death in your Omega Juicer?

Moving on, let us have a look at how farming works on a microscopic level. Due to the nature of soil organisms as we just learned, we find that soil that has natural decay from a variety of animals, including the meat, blood, hair etc. and plant scraps is produces the healthiest soil, right down to the bacterial diversity.

Crops grown in strictly vegetarian soils (farm land that has little to no compost, rotation, crop variety and little to no natural death of animals) suffer significantly compared to crops grown on “composts” comprised of a variety of both plant and animal scraps. The immune systems of the soils of the ladder are much stronger and produce significantly healthier soil and plants. And where do we find soil like this? Well, right out in the wild of Mother Nature of course, where the circle of life once thrived in symbiosis.

It’s also important to mention the obvious self-sabotage that occurs on a vegan or vegetarian diet. Weston A. Price discovered through his 30 years of travel and experimentation that no single indigenous culture on the planet was strictly vegan or vegetarian, all consumed some form of animal product and many praised them. The unhealthiest cultures were gauged by their dental health – a major indicator of health. What he found was that the cultures that swayed more to a vegan and vegetarian diet (not by choice but by circumstance) were nutrient deficient, infertile and physiologically imbalanced. Today we find the same, that vegans and vegetarians show higher amounts of the following health problems:

  • Depression
  • Nutrient Deficiencies – omega fatty acids, protein, zinc, iron, and b-12
  • Tooth decay
  • Weight gain
  • Hormonal imbalance – adrenal fatigue & thyroid disorders
  • Infertility

How Plant-based B-12 Causes B-12 Deficiencies

Usable vitamin B12 occurs only in animal products.

Fermented soy foods and spirulina contain compounds that resemble B12 but actually not absorbed by humans considering they are not recognized up by the body’s “intrinsic factor,” which is a specialized protein secreted in the stomach which is responsible for the assimilation of B12. Furthermore, the plant forms of B12 may even create B12 deficiencies.101

Viability of the intrinsic factor depends on a number of factors including calcium status, pancreatic enzymes and proper pH in the upper intestine. The ability to assimilate B12 frequently declines with age so that many elderly people suffer from B12 deficiency even though they continue to eat animal products.)

The 1-5 Year Vegan High: The Junkie in Disguise

Sometimes a person can will their way a few years through misguided veganism before their high wears off. There are a few reasons for this. First, b-12 can store in the body for a few years before it is depleted and the negative side effects kick in. These symptoms include anemia, impaired eyesight, panic attacks, schizophrenia, hallucinations and nervous disorders, anxiety, depression, fatigue, loss of balance and poor circulation. One study found that a very high percentage of inmates in psychiatric wards suffers from low serum levels of B12. 1 Another study shows Vitamin B12 deficiencies in breast-fed infants of strict vegetarians. 2

Additionally, as many vegans put their own health at risk for the fractionated perspective and illusion of saving the planet, they are supported for a short time via the process of gluconeogenesis. This is a process in which the stress hormone cortisol increases to catabolize protein to feed to the brain. Part of the process involves the secretion of adrenaline – another stress hormone.

The result, is a euphoric junkie in disguise as a world saving super hero, completely unaware of their self-created adrenaline high. Eventually their adrenals fail and after about a year they start to have significant hormonal problems and eventually begin to display the classic burnt-out junkie appearance.

Good Meat vs. Bad Meat

Paradoxically, the research of Weston A. Price shows us that the healthiest and longest lived people did not exclude animal products from their diets. They did however consume more plants than animals, they fished and hunted, ate a wide variety of foods that were local, seasonal and from the wild of their own backyards, had community, tribes and family and essentially were a part of a much bigger life game.

Veganism or other dietary isms; you could say, are small life games usually played by an individual. Even the environmentalist vegan is looking at a small percentage of the big picture without much discernment. Levels of intelligence could be measured by the ability to discern and make differences but you really have to look. You cannot be a sane environmentalist and not understand the microbiology of the soil. And yet, many anti-meat activists cannot or do not tell the difference between toxic, commercially farmed meat and wild-game or local, small farm raised animals.

If we compare the differences, we find a simple truth; bad meat is bad and healthy meat is one of the oldest superfoods in town. Saying all animal products are bad is like saying all water is bad without noting the effects that between bottled, fluoridated water has on the body compared to wild structured spring water sipped from Mother Earth.

The problem isn’t animal foods; it is the toxic means in how they’re raised, slaughtered and the gluttonous fashion in which they are consumed. Even the science is skewed; the studies that suggest meat is harmful is highly flawed. Commercial, processed lunch meat and even fast food meat is grouped into the same category as wild-game and pastured animals. Not a single study has been done on the effects that healthy, wild-game meat consumed by indigenous people has on the body. We can only note the dramatically lower levels of disease prior to industrial farming.

Out of the studies that have been conducted, we find that the harmful effects of consuming meat have nothing to do with the meat itself. Rather, is is the toxins, chemicals, carcinogens and anti-biotics that are present in commercial meat that are doing the real harm.

But Being Vegan Made Me Healthier

Now you may be wondering how some vegans or vegetarians stay healthy and the answer is, they don’t. The better question to ask; perhaps, is how you gauging what it means to be healthy? Is it by their weight? Thin does not mean healthy; in fact, the healthiest cultures such as the Inuit and Serbians are what we would consider “over weight”. So if we are gauging wellness solely on appearance, we have missed the mark.

If someone achieves vibrant health on a vegan diet, it was perhaps a short-term solution. From my experience and 10 years of nutritional coaching, I’ve seen veganism and vegetarianism to be a helpful short-term solution that can help one detoxify, lighten their overall food intake and become an overall more balanced consumer. It’s not so much the act of not eating animal products that gets them healthier either. It is usually a result of eliminating chemical laden, processed, refined foods as well as industrial farmed animals and produce that does the trick. Otherwise, let us consider the facts of Nature, there is no spices that are truly vegan or vegetarian if we trace things back far enough. And furthermore, throughout history humans with limited access to animal products have often gone to great lengths to include at least some animal products in their diet.  And they’ve done that for a reason.

Bottom line, there is no permeant solution. Perhaps veganism helped you overcome toxicity or even cancer. However, what is medicine one day may become a problem the next. if your diet is making you unhealthy, you may be saving a few beings, however, at the risk of the human race. This is not an ethical solution – we are harming the most important beings on the planet capable of contributing to the greatest good of the greatest number of dynamics of life.

What Should We Have for Dinner?

So what should we eat then in a world of gastronomic confusions? The answer is and has been simple…eat real food, not too much with a lot of variety.

I don’t recommend that you stop eating meat, but we do suggest that you be careful of your supply. Make an effort to obtain organic beef, lamb and chicken. Range-fed beef that is finished with several weeks of grain feeding is fine, as long as the grains are organic and no cottonseed meal or soy protein are added to the feed. Grain finishing merely imitates the natural feeding habits of cattle and other ruminants, which get fat in the late summer and fall when they are feeding on natural grains in the field. The use of small quantities of animal parts in livestock rations allows the rancher to shorten the feedlot period, because this practice imitates nature as well. Animal-based supplements replace insects that cattle consume in the field. Outbreaks of scrapie and mad cow disease are most likely caused by neurotoxic pesticides and toxic mineral overload, rather than the inclusion of animal parts in feeding, a practice that dates back almost 100 years. When animal-part feeding is prohibited, soy meal is used as an inferior replacement.

Other good meat choices include buffalo and wild game such as deer and antelope as well as game birds like duck, geese, pheasant and wild turkey. These are rich in nutrients and add variety to the diet.

Learn to eat the organs of land animals as well as their muscle meats—traditional peoples studied by Dr. Price consistently prized organ meats for their health-giving properties.

Eggs from pasture-fed chickens are available at many health food stores. They constitute the most complete, nutritious and economical form of animal protein available and are valued by traditional cultures throughout the world.

If you can, hunt, forage food, grown your own or purchase your animal products from small, local, biodynamic farms that keep the integrity of Mother Nature’s biology and ecology in order.

Bison Burger Cauliflower Crust Pizza

One bite of this nutrient-dense, whole foods pizza and you’ll wonder why you’ve ever spent the time and money on commercial, delivery pizza. This gluten-free, paleo, bulletproof approved dish is easy to digest, packed with nutrition and absolutely gourmet in taste.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/2 pound grass-fed organic bison burger
  • Herbamare for seasoning
  • 1/2 package sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow squash or zucchini
  • 1 tsp. extra-virigin coconut oil

For the crust:

  • 1 pasture-raised egg
  • 1/2 head organic, local cauliflower
  • Real salt & pepper

Here’s how you make it:

  1. First start off by cooking your bison – I recommend a medium-heated cast iron skillet greased with grass-fed ghee.
  2. Roll into small “sausage like balls” and toss in pan for a few minutes to cook – careful to not overcook.
  3. Now time for the crust…
    1. First, lightly steam cut and prepared cauliflower pieces.
    2. When soft, put the cauliflower through a food-processor and pulse until all the cauliflower is in rice-sized bits.
    3. When finished, move the cooked and processed cauliflower to a large bowl to cool.
    4. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    5. Remove cauliflower from fridge and stir in the egg, garlic, salt, and pepper until combined. 
    6. Pour mixture onto the prepared baking sheet; press and shape into a pizza crust.
    7. Brush with coconut oil and top with thinly sliced zucchini and soaked/sliced sun-dried tomato.
    8. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
    9. Slice and serve!

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For more delicious, healthy and gourmet recipes like these, grab a copy of my book The Gourmet Foodie!

Chocolate Golden Milk Truffles

If you’re not familiar with golden milk, this creamy, delicious and medicinal Ayurvedic beverage it’s a must-try.

I have a Bulletproof recipe of it here.

As far as benefits goes, golden milk is definitely an impressive tonic:

  • It’s an antiseptic and an analgesic, so it helps with pain relief.
  • It detoxes the liver and helps to purify the blood.
  • It’s great for joint problem, such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It works well for different skin problems.
  • It offers a general immunity boost and provides you with a good dose of antioxidants.

In addition to it’s health benefits, golden milk is uniquely delicious. The thought of combining the warming spices, richness and slight sweetness of golden milk to chocolate just made a lot of sense, so that’s what I did!

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. This recipe has two parts to it; the chocolate then the golden milk center.
  2. First you want to make your base Bulletproof chocolate by melting chopped cacao butter in double boiler – stirring frequently until cacao is melted.
  3. Once melted, remove from heat and set bowl aside.
  4. Next, add in Brain Octane oil, cacao powder and stevia – mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Once thoroughly mixed, pour liquid into silicon molds just under half way.
  6. Place in freezer until firm – about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Now for the golden milk center – simply melt down coconut oil then add raw honey and herbs/spices.
  8. Mix this until a thick and creamy yellow paste is formed.
  9. Remove chocolate molds from freezer and add the golden milk truffle batter to the mold leaving some room on top for more chocolate.
  10. Place back into freezer so the truffle can become firm.
  11. Remove from freezer then add your third and final layer of chocolate.
  12. Freeze until solid – eat and enjoy!

For more Bulletproof desserts and medicinal treats like these be sure to get a copy of my book The Gourmet Foodie!

Bulletproof Chocolate Cookie Dough

Inspired by a late night probiotic date with my beloved – Bulletproof cookie dough was born.

It took me a moment to figure out the exact texture of this recipe but I eventually realized it was near identical to raw cookie dough. This wasn’t my intention though, everything occurred on a whim of spontaneous hunger. I had no clear vision in the moment, all I had was an appetite, some soaked cashews to use up and a cabinet full of superfoods and Bulletproof products.

Sometimes no plan is the best plan and in this case that was definitely true! I was able to put together something delicious and healthy from pure inspiration. Join me for another delicious Bulletproof dessert with benefits…

Bulletproof Chocolate Cookie Dough

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Start by soaking your cashews for 2 hours
  2. Strain, rinse then strain a final time
  3. Place all ingredients into a food processor
  4. Pulse and process until a cookie dough like consistency is formed
  5. Using a small scooper like this one, scoop into balls and refrigerate or eat as is! Because there is no coconut oil, these will not get any more firm than they are and they’re meant to stay in a dough like consistency anyway.

For more Bulletproof desserts like this grab a copy of my book The Gourmet Foodie and receive over 35 nutritionally supercharged desserts and more.