Soured Wild Rice Pancakes [3 ingredients]

There’s wild rice and then there’s real wild rice. What’s the difference? Authentic wild rice is a species of marsh grass found growing naturally in shallow aquatic wetlands, lakes and slow moving streams. Also known as manoomin which means “the good berry”, wild harvested rice is an indigenous sacred food of the Native American Anishnaabe (Ojibwa) people of Minnesota and the Great Lakes region.

The texture and taste of wild rice is chewier with a distinctive roasted nutty flavor compared to other kinds of rice and can be a healthy gluten-free alternative to other grains. Unknown to most people, all wild rice is not necessary “wild”, as the term might imply. True wild rice is harvested from naturally growing aquatic grass fields and the other is a cultivated paddy-grown variety, created from the same wild species Zizania palustris.

Health Benefits of Wild Rice

  1. EASY TO DIGEST. Most grains and rice are difficult to digest. Wild rice is actually the seed of a grass though not a grain at all, which is one of the most popular benefits of wild rice.By nature, wild grasses are far easier to digest than any grains. If you are sensitive to gluten or have digestive issues wild rice will be the perfect replacement to any grains.It’s only due to it’s appearance that wild rice is often confused as a grain. Though it’s completely gluten-free, it has a rich, grounding quality to it like a cooked grain.
  2. RICH IN ANTIOXIDANTS. Wild rice is a Native food to America that was originally harvested in Minnesota.As a truly wild food, it is highly sustainability far more nutrient-dense and has an increased antioxidant value. This makes it a wonderful anti-aging and healing food.
  3. HEALTHY METABOLISM. Wild rice is great source B vitamins containing far more riboflavin, niacin, and Vitamin B6 than brown rice. These B vitamins are essential for energy production, regular blood pressure, digestion, and metabolism.
  4. MAGNESIUM POWERHOUSE. Wild rice is a superior source of magnesium. Not just because the nature of this food but as a wild food, it’s soaking up far more minerals from the soil compared to farmed food. Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in modern man and is absolutely necessary for many physiological functions, including – a healthy nervous system, regular bowel movements, energy, and deep sleep.Magnesium also reduces stress, headaches, anxiety, and fatigue.
  5. IT’S DELICIOUS. My beautiful wife has been making the most delicious bread I have ever tasted in my life using this wild rice. The recipe is simple but the flavor from the wild rice is complex, sweet and nutty that it offers and explosion of taste on it’s own! Stay tuned as this recipe will be a highlight in our up and coming recipe book. Remember that authentic wild rice will be a mix of black and brown colors, which will provide the exquisite flavor.Many store bought wild rice blends contain a mix brown rice and even white rice. I suggest the Wild Food Warehouse for an authentic and truly wild rice. This is the exact rice we use in this recipe and our wild loaf recipe.
  6. SUPER FIBER. Regular rice is typically a very low fiber food, which is part of the reason brown and white rice as less superior carb sources grains like oats, which have more fiber out of all the carbohydrates the grain contains. For example, brown rice only contains 1 gram of fiber per ¼ cup!
    The ideal intake of fiber is right around 30-40 grams per day. Wild rice contains three times the amount of that making it a great source of fiber, which will help detoxify the body and cleanse the digestive system.
  7. POTASSIUM. Wild rice is a great low sugar source of potassium. If you don’t like bananas or are just watching your fructose intake, wild rice is a great way to get in potassium. This essential mineral regulates blood pressure and can reduce bloat.

How To Use Wild Rice

Wild rice is best soaked for 24-48 hours before cooking. I like to get it to the point of where it’s slightly fermented for my soured kefir pancakes.

Once you soak for the initial 12 hours, be sure to rinse it and repeat about 3 times. From there, it is best cooked then paired with spices and eaten as a main part of a dish with veggies. You can also have it for breakfast like you would an oatmeal, serving it with raw almond milk, cinnamon and raw honey. Or best of all, you can get really creative an make some breads and pancakes!

Soured Wild Rice Pancake [Recipe]

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. Heat greased cast iron skillet to medium-low heat.
  2. Place all ingredients into a Blendtec, blend until a creamy pancake batter.
  3. Pour into skillet and let cook until bubbles come through to the surface then flip.
  4. Eat cake will take about 1-2 minutes before flipping then another minute on the other side.
  5. Eat as is or serve with raw grass-fed butter and a side of soup!

You can find wild rice online. I love and use the authentic Minnesota Grown Wild Rice, from The Wild Food Ware House.

For more recipes like this get a copy of The Gourmet Foodie and stay tuned for future recipe books co-created with my incredibly talented and beautiful wife Adriana.

How To Make Raw Milk Kefir: Probiotic Beverage

Not all dairy is created equally, raw milk from grass-fed cows is a health food. So long as your digestive system is in good shape, this food has many incredible benefits. It is anti-viral, immune building, protects the body from infection, builds muscle, and tastes great!

If you’ve been avoiding dairy then you may find that fermenting it into a probiotic-rich kefir will provide your body with great nourishment. It also makes an amazing base for smoothies and milk shakes!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 quart raw milk *preferably grass-fed
  • 4 tbsp. milk kefir grains or starter culture
  • 1 quart-sized glass jar
  • Cheesecloth, paper towel, or clean napkin
  • Rubberband
  • Small strainer *preferably nylon

Here’s how you make it:

Note: Avoid prolonged contact between the kefir and metal both during and after brewing. This can affect the flavor of your kefir and weaken the grains over time.

  1. Combine the milk and the grains in a jar: Pour the milk into a clean glass jar (not metal) and stir in the kefir grains. The milk can be cold or room temperature, either is fine.
  2. Cover the jar: Cover the jar with cheesecloth, a paper towel, or a clean napkin and secure it with a rubber band. Do not screw a lid onto the jar as the build up of carbon dioxide from the fermenting grains can cause pressure to build in the jar, and in extreme cases, cause the jar to burst.
  3. Ferment for 12 to 48 hours: Store the jar at room temperature (ideally around 70°F) away from direct sunlight. Check the jar every few hours. When the milk has thickened and tastes tangy, it’s ready. This will usually take about 24 hours at average room temperatures; the milk will ferment faster at warmer temperatures and slower at cool temperatures. If your milk hasn’t fermented after 48 hours, strain out the grains and try again in a fresh batch (this sometimes happens when using new kefir grains, when refreshing dried kefir grains, or when using grains that have been refrigerated).
  4. Strain out the kefir grains: Place a small strainer over the container you’ll use to store the kefir. Strain the kefir into the container, catching the grains in the strainer.
  5. Transfer the grains to fresh milk: Stir the grains into a fresh batch of milk and allow to ferment again. This way, you can make a fresh batch of kefir roughly every 24 hours. To take a break from making kefir, place the grains in fresh milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate.
  6. Drink or refrigerate the milk kefir: The prepared milk kefir can be used or drunk immediately, or covered tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Recipe Notes

  • Activating The Kefir Grains: If you bought your kefir grains in a dried form, rehydrate them by soaking them in fresh milk at room temperature. Change the milk every 24 hours until the grains begin to culture the milk and make kefir. It may take 3 to 7 days for the kefir grains to become fully active.
  • What Milk is Best: Kefir works best with raw whole-fat cow, goat, sheep, or other animal milk. You can use low-fat milks, but refresh the grains in whole fat milk if they stop fermenting the kefir properly. Raw and pasteurized milks can be used, but avoid ultra-high temperature (UHT) pasteurized milks.
  • Making More or Less Kefir: You’ll need about a teaspoon of grains to ferment 1 to 2 cups of milk. You can also ferment less milk than this, but fermentation will go more quickly. Your grains will start to multiply over time, allowing you to ferment more milk if you like. Maintain a ratio of about a teaspoon of grains to 1 cup of milk.
  • Taking a Break from Making Kefir: To take a break from making kefir, transfer the grains into a fresh container of milk, cover tightly, and refrigerate for up to a month.
  • What if Your Kefir Separates: Sometimes kefir will separate into a solid layer and milky layer if left too long. This is fine! Shake the jar or whisk the kefir to recombine and carry on. If this happens regularly, start checking your kefir sooner.

Bulletproof ‘Fat Fudge’

Here’s a recipe I’ve been making for a while that I haven’t gotten around to posting. I’ve actually kept it sort of secret and only released it in my Desserts 2.0 recipe book. In my book I share with you a Jing Herb infused raw Bulletproof fudge very similar. I figured it’s time I share a little bit of the magic in it.

The lovely people at Bulletproof reached out about me making a recipe similar to The Paleo Chef’s Phat Fudge. And as mentioned, I’ve had a recipe like this already put together. So, if you’re a Bulletproof fan or a fan of Phat Fudge or just a fan of chocolate all together then you’re going to love this decadent recipe.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. First thing you want to do is brew a really strong half cup of Bulletproof Coffee. Do this by heating a half cup of water to just below a boil. Add two ground tbsp. of the coffee and let brew for 5 minutes. I use a french press, you can use a Chemex or Aeropress.
  2. Next, powder your xylitol in a coffee grinder.
  3. Now, very simply, add all your ingredients to the hot coffee – this will melt your cacao and coconut butter so long as you chop them up pretty well. Otherwise, melt them prior.
  4. Using a hand mixer, combine the ingredients until a thick sort of paste is formed.
  5. Pour into a glass pyrex squash dish that is either lined with parchment paper or greased with coconut oil.
  6. Place in fridge for a few hours.
  7. Remove, chop into squares and enjoy as a delicious, medicinal and supercharged breakfast that won’t send your blood sugar on a ride.

For many more Bulletproof desserts like this be sure to grab a copy of my book The Gourmet Foodie!

Probiotic Pumpkin Almond Cheese

Love cheese but want a healthier option than pasteurized commercial cheese? While there are some quality raw, grass-fed cheese available, nothing beats homemade. This particular cheese happens to be dairy-free for anyone who doesn’t tolerate it well.

What’s so nice about fermented cheese is that they make the nuts and seeds or whatever base ingredients very easy to digest. Typically, nuts and seeds are hard to digest and are better on the digestive system when soaked and fermented. This means not only easier digestion but also the increased bioavailability of nutrients in the nuts and seeds.

Making cheese does take time but it’s actually very simple to do.

PART 1: Culturing The Cheese

There are two steps to this cheese making process; first we prepare and culture the nut pate and secondly we age it.

To begin, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of unpasteurized almonds
  • 1 cup of raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 starter culture
  • 1 tbsp. coconut yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. real salt
  • 1 tbsp. reasoning of choice (rosemary, thyme, basil)

Here;s how you make it:

  1. Begin by soaking your nuts & seeds for 6-8 hours.
  2. Afterwards, give them a nice rinse.
  3. Next, you have options. I would recommend blending them with 2 cups of water, straining through a nut mylk bag and viola, you have fresh nut milk. You can then use the pulp to make your cheese! You can also just blend the soaked nuts.
  4. If you go the first route, you’ll want to add a little bit of liquid back to the pulp or what I do is add one big tbsp. of coconut yogurt to the pulp. This serves as a starter culture and will add creaminess.
  5. If you go the second route – simply blend the nuts with a starter culture with sea salt.
  6. Transfer this mixture to your nut mylk bag or cheese cloth and wrap tightly.
  7. You can put in your dehydrator on low for 24hrs, or you can let it sit on your counter for 36 hours. This is the initial culturing phase.

PART 2: Aging & Flavoring The Cheese

After you’ve completed part 1 and your cheese has cultured (you’ll know because will be dry on the outside and soft on the inside with a yeasty smell) your next step is to age it with some flavor.

  1. Take your cultured cheese and place it into a glass bowl.
  2. Add your choice of spices. I like to add this blend of 24 spices for a savory cheese.
  3. Mix the spices into the cheese until fully incorporated.
  4. Scoop the mixture onto parchment paper.
  5. Roll it into a log shape.
  6. Store in the fridge for 4-6 days. This will age the cheese, making it more potent in probiotic bacteria and flavor.
  7. Serve on top of my savory sprouted sunflower seed crackers, sourdough bread or dip with veggie sticks.

For more delicious probiotic food recipes like this and over 130 other whole food recipes be sure to check out my new cookbook The Gourmet Foodie!

Raw Chocolate Key Lime Pie

With the release of my new cookbook; The Gourmet Foodie, I haven’t been very active on my blog. After finally getting some extra time to come up with new recipes, I created something fantastic via request. I love getting request for recipes because otherwise I can easily run into a plateau. Getting recipe request always sparks some creativity and I usually always find a way to make almost any recipe into something nutritionally optimal.

That was certainly the case with this raw chocolate key lime pie. Traditionally one thinks key lime pie and sugary dessert comes into mind. You don’t have to worry about that here. This dessert comes with benefits. It happens to be balanced nutritionally, containing a healthy amount of plant-based proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
No matter your dietary preference, this dessert can find it’s way into your diet without worry. Every ingredient is designed to digest with ease and as always, I use optimal sweeteners that do not cause blood sugar imbalances, cravings or digestive problems.

This recipe features a couple true super-foods, including;

  • Grass-fed collagen. This nutrient is essential to the entire body, it is most noticeably beneficial to the skin, ligaments and connective tissues. This is because these parts of the body seem to naturally deteriorate over time and with age. However, we do have a great deal of control in terms to how quickly this happens. We do not have to be subject to weak joints, wrinkles or pain. The good news is these things are totally preventable and reversible! In fact, there are studies that prove regular consumption collagen peptides reduce wrinkles by 20% in 8 weeks! (1)
  • Avocado. Ah, the young avocado. Everyone is loving this food today and for many reasons. Our modern society has been high off of sugar the past 50 years, the results have been diabetes, chronic fatigue and obesity – it’s time we get back to our natural fuel source, fat. And I find no better fuel source than the raw fats that come in avocado. Fat is a more ideal fuel source, it’s slower burning, leading to more stable blood sugar – think of a huge log blazing throughout the day verses the flash of energy experienced we get from sugar, which is more like throwing paper onto the fire of our metabolism. Avocados also contain B vitamins, biotin and master antioxidant glutathione.
  • MCT oil. Also known as Medium Chain Triglycerides, this healthy oil is actually just fractioned coconut oil. It’s not just a healthy source of fat, it has been proven to boost metabolism, have anti-viral properties and potentially fight against herpes and HIV! (2)

The Recipe

So you see, there’s no room for guilt at the dessert table when you’re using real foods. You’re probably wondering how to make this delicious baby by now, so I won’t hold out any longer.

Here’s what you’ll need:

for the crust

for the filling

Here’s how you make it:

  1. First, soak your cashews for 2-4 hours.
  2. Powder all your xylitol in a coffee grinder.
  3. Strain cashews, rinse then add into food process with the rest of the crust ingredients.
  4. Pulse until a crumbly dough is formed.
  5. Grease a glass pie dish with Brain Octane or use a springform cake pan for easier removing and cutting.
  6. Press your crust mixture into the bottom of the dish or pan – place into freezer.
  7. Next, peel your avocados and all all your ingredients for the filling into a clean food processor and blend until super creamy. Add juice from entire lime and zest from about half of the lime – saving some for garnish.
  8. Remove pan from freezer and spoon the filling out using a rubber spatula and scoop on top of the crust and working from the center, flatten out the filling in a circular motion until it is level.
  9. Grate lime zest over time and place into the fridge for 2-4 hours until your filling has solidified some what.
  10. If using a pie dish, use a knife to cut and a pie server to remove pieces in uniform.

For over 35 other nutritionally supercharged desserts like this one be sure to grab a copy of my new cookbook The Gourmet Foodie while it’s still on promo. You’ll get a free dessert recipe book when you purchase!

Gut-Healing: Aloe Dreams Green Smoothie

One of the many root imbalances when it comes to digestive issues is excessive heat in the body. Heat is produced from a number of causes such as chronic anger, irritability, and even tot warming of foods like coffee and cooked foods.

Looking at the body from a Chinese Medicine perspective, heat is really a sign of inflammation. Excessive heat can cause a number of inflammatory issues like IBS, IBD and even a number of skin disorders.

According to Chinese herbal medicine, aloe has a cold and bitter nature, allowing it to drain fire and unblock stool. Because of its cold nature, aloe addresses constipation associated with heat.

Signs of heat include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Red eyes
  • Headache or dizziness
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive sweating
  • Heart burn

If you notice any of these signs heat imbalance then one of the simplest things you can do is to make some easy dietary adjustments. Over all, I would recommend consuming more cooling foods such as raw vegetables, green smoothies, fresh berries while also cutting back on hot foods like peppers, coffee, chocolate, and over all cooked food (some light cooking is fine).

Amongst the many cooling foods, Aloe vera is King. It is a succulent plant. It grows all over the globe and is actually quite famous for its powerful medicinal benefits. I have a blog HERE where you can read more about Aloe.

Extracts of aloe have shown to have incredible benefits on improving signs of Alzheimer’s disease and some forms of dementia.. Additionally, it does numbers for repairing the body. It contains essential amino acids, natural steroidal compounds, and all the building blocks for tissue such as MSM, sulfur, silicon, and a variety of minerals.

One of the most common ways to use aloe is straight from the plant. Slice open a leaf, and you’ll find a slimy, clear ‘filet’ that can be eaten as is or blended into smoothies. I use this stuff on my skin and it does magic for reducing fine lines and smoothing the skin. It makes a great over all natural beauty care product. However, my favorite way to use this is to throw it into a green smoothie. You won’t even taste it, yet your body will thank you immensely.


Here are my 3 favorite reasons I love aloe:

  1. Aloe Manages Blood Sugar. Aloe vera in a smoothie will quench and cool in the hot summer season. Aloe vera can balance blood sugar, regulate a leaky gut, and ease constipation. Type 2 diabetes is marked by inflammation, obesity, and insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone that allows sugar molecules to enter the cell. When cells are insulin resistant, they no longer respond to insulin—this means that these cells starve and even die.
  2. Aloe Can Repair a Leaky Gut. Aloe has renowned benefits for reducing markers of inflammation in the colon, or large intestine. It sends signals to the immune system that regulate inflammation and kick-start inflammatory pain or hypersensitivity. Inflammation is what ultimately makes gut tissue permeable or leaky. The inflammation is often a byproduct of poorly digested food, stress or bacterial overgrowth. In all cases, Aloe can help. It can balance gut flora, improve digestion and sooth inflamed digestive tissues.
  1. Aloe Improves Elimination. Aloe has a long history as very medicinal plant including use in traditional Chinese herbal medicine and Egyptian Medicine – so it’s been well used for over 5,000 years! In Chinese herbal medicine, aloe is an herb used to address constipation and parasitic infection, which are major root issues of digestive problems.  Aloe has a natural and subtle purging nature which relieves constipation. Additionally, aloe feeds healthy gut bacteria that then metabolize plant chemicals found specifically in aloe vera to improve elimination. Poor elimination is the major cause of toxic build up as the digestive tract is the number 2 detoxification pathway next to the lungs.


Aloe vera’s cooling and cleansing nature makes it a refreshing addition to any diet. Aside from the benefits mentioned, aloe is a supreme anti-aging and immune enhancing food, making is appealing to everyone. In this recipe, I throw in the addition of coconut water kefir and Vitality SuperGreen, two of my favorite “super foods” that profoundly upgrade the nutritional and healing qualities of your regular green smoothie.

I enjoy Vitality SuperGreens as my go-to greens formula because of the medicinal aloe extract, patented glutamine, probiotics, enzymes, adaptogens and the taste is hands down the best I’ve ever had, and I’ve had A LOT of greens powders before. This recipe will surely energize you while cleanse and cool the body.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Here’s how you make it:

  1. First, filet your aloe leaf by cutting in half and scooping meat out with a spoon. Be sure to scrape the sides clean.
  2. Simply add your liquids into a Blendtec, add your other ingredients, blend until smooth and enjoy!

Does L-Glutamine Really Help Repair The Gut?

You’ve likely heard of leaky gut if you’ve found yourself on this blog today. At the root of many digestive issues (physically) is a permeable gut-lining, which can show itself in a variety of ways. If you didn’t know, the digestive system is the foundation to physical health – it is a central station for the network that is our internal organs or organ-izations. Therefore, what occurs in the digestive system can easily show up in other areas of our health, such as:

Causes of Leaky Gut

The trickiest thing when it comes to tracking down causes of dis-ease is trying to answer the age-old question, which came first? When we explore the working of the digestive system, we see clear as day that the mind and body are interconnected. On one hand, we see that adrenal fatigue or CFS can be caused by leaky gut. On the other, we see that adrenal fatigue can cause leaky gut.

If we dig a bit deeper we see that bacterial overgrowth is what causes leaky gut. And bacterial overgrowth is more likely caused by a few factors:

  1. Over eating
  2. A diet of processed food refined carbs and sugar that feed pathogenic bacteria
  3. Poor digestion resulting in undigested or partially digested foods
  4. STRESS. The number one cause of all digestive problems. To keep it brief, when we are stressed out constantly we find the adrenal glands are over worked from being in a constant sympathetic state. We need healthy adrenals to produce stomach acid and poop. So if the adrenals are taxed via too much stress, then the digestive system fails and the gut suffers! We will not digest our food properly and the result will be pathogenic take over and a eventually leaky gut.

Any of these symptoms are a signal from your gastrointestinal tract – pay close attention to what it’s trying to tell you.

The good news is that the body is a self-repairing organism – with the right care, the gut can heal itself. In severe cases, the damage to the intestinal wall can be so intense that it will need much greater attention and time for healing. This is the case were very therapeutic forms of diet become useful.

The Anatomy of the Digestive Tract

In case you didn’t know, the intestinal epithelium is the largest mucosal surface in the body. Though the intestinal tract is tucked away from plain sight, it  actually serves as a barrier system – protecting the entire body from the external environment. When its functioning properly, the epithelial barrier of the intestinal tract works to discriminate between what comes in and what stays out.

There are two ways in which a substance makes its way through the digestive tract:

  1. Paracellular: This is a phrase that describes when raw substance sneakily passes between the epithelial cells, which are usually connected by what are known as tight junctions.
  2. Transcellular: This is a pathway for material that is across an epithelial cell.

A problem occurs when there is tissue damage or antigen exposure, which create food sensitivity. When there is damage or inflammation of the intestinal lining intestinal permeability occurs. If this happens, a number of triggers can cause antigens to pass through the gut, wall causing an immune response. This is the phenomenon known as autoimmunity and is also what attributes to the symptoms listed above.

If an antigen sneaks pass the gut lining – aside from triggering an inflammatory immune response – it can cause a central neuroinflammatory response. Once the central nervous system (CNS) gets the signal of systemic inflammatory, the epithelial cells of the blood-brain barrier start to diminish in integrity – causing a “leaky blood-brain barrier” and the result is neuroautoimmunity. This is how neurological disorders can be caused by a damaged gut.

To say the least, if the gut is damaged or permeated, the health of the entire body diminishes.

Tips For Repairing the Gut Lining

With anything else in life, if we are to find a solution, we must first locate the problem and then the cause of that problem. From there, the rest follows rather easily. Considerations are always senior to mechanics. That is why so many people fail at the mechanics of “living healthy” – we must first get our state of mind right.

That being said, as long as you are aware that ultimately, a healthy mind will produce a healthy body, then there is plenty we can do to help the body. And as we touched on earlier, if we help the body, it can lead to greater mental clarity and even spiritual gains.

Of the many different mechanical strategies for gut repair, diet is of course a major influence. In my course, Perfect Digestion, I out line in complete detail exactly what to eat and what not to eat in a step-by-step protocol.

Aside from diet, one of the many questions I get about digestive health is on the topic of supplements. In my course, I explain again, in detail, where supplements can be of value or not. I will say though, they are not as of equal importance compared to far greater influences such as sleep, mentality, emotional wellness, sunshine, oxygen diet and exercise.

If you are well on your way though with these other areas and looking for some supplemental support, L-glutamine is one the most important nutrients that you can could consume for supporting the repair of the intestinal lining.

L-glutamine is the actually a fuel for the small intestine, providing energy via nitrogen. There’s plenty of research to support the beneficial impact of L-glutamine on the intestinal epithelia. It has the ability to regenerate and repair the lining of the gut. L-glutamine also increases the quantity of cells in the small intestine, as well as the number and integrity of the microvilli on the gut lining. This means better nutrient absorption.

If you’re looking to try implementing Glutamine into your diet then I highly suggest the product Vitality SuperGreens. It has a patented L-glutamine that is highly absorbable. Many other forms of glutamine are questionable but this one has stood up to the test. This particular product has glutamine that is covalently bonded, meaning that it is in a form bonded to other amino acids on a oligopeptide chain making it way more absorbable. Plus, this product tastes great, has adaptogen herbs to help with stress, probiotics for greater immunity and even fermented algae for a mega dose of nutrition for the adrenals and thyroid.

More tips for healing leaky gut:

  • Follow a therapeutic diet. For a while, it will be very beneficial to take extra care of what you put into your digestive tract. An abused digestive tract needs some tender love and care. Start by removing pro-inflammatory foods from the diet like; sugar, gluten, alcohol, and any processed foods. Also, as we are each unique, keep an on out on foods that you a personal sensitivity to.  If your gut is in bad shape, you’ll have to be strict for a while, until you manage your stress, get enough rest and build back up immunity and the gut lining. For a full dietary protocol see my comprehensive course Perfect Digestion.
  • Add in real probiotic foods. Considering that we are more bacteria than human, it only makes sense that we make sure majority of those bacteria are life promoting, beneficial bacteria. If you’ve been turned onto probiotic supplements, ditch them, here’s why. Instead, get some real probiotic foods, like kefir or sauerkraut. The microflora content in these foods are far superior  to any supplement and much more cost-effective. You can learn to make your own for pennies. Probiotics protect the gut lining from becoming leaky by keeping pathogenic bacteria (that eat holes through the gut lining) from over growing. They also work with the immune system to reduce systemic inflammation.
  • Use therapeutic doses of high quality L-glutamine. So the verdict is in, high quality L-glutamine can be majorly beneficial to healing permeability and reducing inflammation of the intestinal lining. Vitality SuperGreens delivers up to 10 times more glutamine than L-glutamine so a little goes a long way. And there’s no potential serve side effects of glutamine, even in extreme cases the worst that would happen is short-term dizziness, headache, runny nose, dry mouth, stomach pain, gas, vomiting or nausea. Vitality SuperGreens provides the right amount. And if your body needs healing, it’s likely you could use the extra glutamine. One the gut is in better shape, you may not need to consume it anymore, or at least not as much.

Cultivating Perfect Digestion

The real cure to digestive problems lies in mastering our stress levels. However, it’s important to know what stress is. Stress can come on many levels – it can come from exercise, poor nutrition, little sleep, toxic overload from environment, electromagnetic like this computer screen, mental and emotional resistance and essentially anything that causes pressure on the body.  Stress is just resistance, pressure or force. It if force-counter-force.

So to fix the digestive system, we need to find the major sources of stress or pressure in our lives and either build resistance to these things (ideally) or remove the source or pressure (surrender, non-resistance). To help you achieve this, I have put together a program called Perfect Digestion that helps you remove many physical stressors from the body to give it a break from all the pressure.

The course contains a simple to follow protocol that will help your body heal with the help of nutrition, proper lifestyle habits like sleep and movement and I even get into the mental and emotional aspects to help remove major root causes. I am also currently working on a small video series for busting mental/emotional stress that will be in the course soon, taking it beyond a fully comprehensive course for healing the digestive system. If you want to learn more about it, you can do that here.

Success Through Play

If an individual could ever walk away from his greatest triumph, empty-handed and with just the shirt on his back, he would inevitably live to triumph time and time again.

Unfortunately, in today’s society, there are so many people taking life too seriously, and they’ve forgotten it’s all a game. Life was made for fun.

Despite the common belief, seriousness and happiness do not go hand in hand. We can only give what we have, and most of us are giving an attitude of seriousness. How can we expect to attain happiness and success, when most of what we give is seriousness?

The Spirit of Play

A spirit of play has to be rediscovered. Think back to when you were a child, playing for the sheer joy of play itself. Life was a game, and though there may have been a few rules to follow, they were only in place to keep the game alive.

However, one thing was for sure: There wasn’t a goal in mind. There wasn’t anywhere to go, and there was no place better than the present moment.

Play is total creativity. It is more absorbing, engrossing and enlivening than any other kind of activity we can do. It is the first and foremost ingredient that causes us to come into this universe and build worlds of our own.

What is the point of chasing a goal and succeeding at anything, if we cannot experience bliss along the entire path?

Life as a Game

I recall reading a book by Anthony Robbins in which he explains the importance of metaphors. Whether we realize it or not, we all have some sort of metaphor for life. For some, life is a jungle, and for others, life is a gift.

Now, looking at these two perceptions, it’s obvious there are two very different realities here. Each of these individual perceptions is going to cause each one to experience a very different life.

Personally, I have yet to come across a metaphor for life that is as relevant and accurate as life being a game. It really is. Think about it: We set up with a goal in mind, and then in order to achieve the goal, we create a game. The players of the game become everyone and anyone involved, including ourselves. In order to achieve the goal, we make rules and set boundaries to keep us on track.

In this sense, playfulness is really the most valuable thing a person can possesses in the pursuit of any goal. It is not just energy; it’s the sensation of being alive.

Sadly, most people on this planet have almost entirely lost their spirits of play. A huge dogma is seemingly engrained into each of us that we cannot achieve without struggle. It is the “no pain, no gain” mentality. Let me be the one to tell you: It’s a myth.

Do you struggle to do anything good in life? Really, think about it. Do you struggle to breathe? Do you struggle to love? Do you struggle to smile?

If you said yes to any of these, then it’s likely you’re not looking at the full picture. We only struggle to breathe if we hold onto a single breath, or if someone is suffocating us.

We only struggle to love when we get wounded, and we put walls up around our love.

There is no struggle to experience truest joys of life!

So, what happened? How did we become so rigid and unhappy?

The Degrees of Seriousness

There is something I call the degrees of seriousness. It’s really not all that serious, either. It’s actually quite simple, like all good things.

So, imagine you’re playing a game. At first, it’s fun, and you’re just playing for the sake of play. Then, something happens. Maybe you get hurt, someone breaks a rule, or you feel left out. At that moment, you get serious.

If you don’t quickly remember it’s just a game, and no one is playing for keeps, you will become more serious.

Once you start to take things seriously, it’s that much harder to turn back. Seriousness is grave; it’s rigid and heavy.

In its literal definition, it means heaviness. Once you move up the degrees of seriousness, the lightness of play will diminish.

As we all know, once you are in the thick of a mess, it’s that much harder to go out. It’s usually easier to get more serious and upset. When this happens, someone might call us out and let us know we’re being too serious.

However, we are much too serious to take that lightly, so we get damn serious.

To be damn serious is the greatest penalty of any game. We’ve condemned ourselves, we’re upset as hell, and the game is over.

However, the game isn’t really over. We’re still in it, and we’re just wondering why everyone else sucks. It’s like we’ve become a broken piece to the game.

It’s part of the game, but no one likes it. We don’t even like it because we can’t fully play the game.

This makes us that much more pissed, to the point where we’ve had enough. Then, we hit the final stage of seriousness: dead serious. Once dead serious, you can guess what happens next. We quit.

It’s our way or the high way. If we can’t win, no one can. So, we leave the game. Life has officially stopped being fun; life is too serious. But, the thing we don’t realize during all of this is that there are still people having fun. They aren’t playing for keeps, and they’re playing for fun. They realize the amount of fun they’re having isn’t nearly as important as whether they win or lose. They’re blissful, their imagination is rich, and they’re fully tapped into their spirit of play.

Success Through Play

As I said earlier, you do not have to suffer in order to succeed. However, I’m sure by now some of you are having a hard time believing life can be that simple.

It’s astonishing we’ve been duped into thinking we are supposed to suffer and take life seriously, rather than achieve our wild goals and dreams. It just doesn’t make much sense to me.

When we want something too desperately, we actually push it away.

We see this in relationships all the time. We call it “the game.” When we want someone, the person isn’t interested. But soon as we lose interest, the person wants us.

When we hold on too tightly to anything, it slips through our fingers, or worse, it dies.

When we take life dead seriously, things die, just like our dreams. The truest way to achieving our dreams and overcoming the obstacles to our own happiness is found in a heart of play.

We need to approach all we do with the same sense of love, carefreeness and playfulness as we once did as free-spirited children.

So, I ask you, how serious are you taking your life?

Anti-Stress Herbs: The Top 10 Best Adaptogenic Herbs

Stress is a major culprit for many diseases. After all, disease is simply dis-ease and what is stress? In its simplest sense, it is pressure or resistance and neither of these put the body at ease.

Looking at stress from its most basic function, there are of course many ways stress can come about. Stress can occur physically from stress or trauma. It can occur thermogenically from Sun burn. It can occur nutritionally from poor diet and foods that do not digest or throw hormones out of whack. And as we all know, stress can occur mentally from pure pressure, the pressure to impress ourselves and others, as well as emotionally in the form of resistance to our own emotions.

Whatever the case is though, there is plenty we can do to surrender and stop resisting. Amongst the many tools for dissolving stress are adaptogenic herbs, which are botanical substances that help the body adapt to both physiological and psychological stress.

There are many spiritual practices that help one take the path of least resistance in many cases; however, this can be a life long journey that takes many life times to complete – as my mentor says, “there is no secret potion for enlightenment.” He teases me, as a holistic health coach and someone who works in an industry that is always recommending people to take herbs, food and supplements to fix their life problems.

And while I am about to recommend some herbs, these herbs come with a life time of wisdom. If we look at ancient wholistic forms of medicine such as Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda we find that both of these philosophies go far beyond nutritional and herbal support. Life according to Ayurveda is meant flow effortlessly, and be filled with an abundance of creativity, energy and productivity with the less effort we put in. Now this is a major difference from the Western “no pain, no gain mentality.” Believe it or not, life was not intended to be a struggle!

So in addition to the tools I will provide here, I highly suggest – as always – to begin your walk down a path to “enlightenment” however that looks for you now. If you need a starting point, I offer coaching sessions filled with healing exercises that work at the metaphysical level. There are also plenty of “spiritual healers” out there, endless books in the exoteric database and also hidden gems in the esoteric world if you seek.

I was fortunate enough to find one of the wisest men I’ve ever met and let me say this, one wise man is worth one-thousand good books. I highly suggest seeking a mentor. Bare in mind, the word mentor is short for tormentor…and that is what a true spiritual guide does – they take away all your delusions and illusions until all that is left is…you.

Until you find someone, or yourself, to guide you down a path  let’s talk about some of the tools Mother Nature has provided us with to help us balance and dissolve stress. Here are a few of my favorite and the most powerful adaptogen (stress-busting) herbs on the planet, how they work, and how to take them.

The 10 Best Adaptogen Herbs

  1. Gynostemma Also known as the “immortality herb”, Jiaogulan actually contains 3 to 4 times more saponins than ginseng, making it the strongest adaptogen of all. It has been used traditionally by the Chinese as a longevity tonic extend lives and often referred to as, “like ginseng but better.” It’s abilities extend beyond just soothing the nervous system – it is naturally anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and a proven remedy to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. It also happens to burns fat, enhances strength and endurance, and even has been used to treat bronchitis. Did I mention that it is a potent antioxidant that dissolves oxidative stress and has proven in lab studies to annihilate cancer cells? As an adaptogen, it helps the body with whatever it needs – if the body needs rest, it will promote relaxation. If the body needs to be energized, then energy it is! Because the immune system is suppressed during stress, it strengthens the immune system by preventing stress from harming the body. It is successful in treating hepatitis and protecting the liver. In one study, 300 athletes were tested with jiaogulan prior to a competition – the results – all had more vigor, quicker reflexes, and less nervousness. It’s high anti-oxidant abilities may very well be what leads to the 100 year life span of many Chinese jiaogulan users. What’s more, is that has natural killer cell activity in those with urogenital cancers. This herb is great for those with blood pressure imbalances, as it tonifies the kidney and heart meridian, which reduces the burden on the heart, by helping it pump the same amount of blood with less stress and effort. I could go on and on about this herb; however, I’m sure by now we have sufficient reason to start experimentation with this incredible super herb. And as a personal testimony, I have consumed Gynostemma for 6 years now and it truly has wonderful effects you can notice. I suggest taking either 1 teaspoon of powdered extract 3x day or Spring Dragon Tea. This tea also has a few other powerful adaptogenic extracts – its super potent and sweet.
  2. Licorice root- Here is another amazing plant with many medicinal properties as well as a sweet, delicious taste. It contains natural plant steroids that are anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-tumor, and stimulates the immune system by elevating interferon levels, which stimulates SOD to form hydrogen peroxide, in turn supercharges white blood cells and hormones. It’s a fantastic herb for adrenal function, reducing inflammation and liver problems like cirrhosis and hepatitis. It’s commonly used to reduce prostate inflammation because it contains phytoestrogens, which help reduce the adverse effects of estrogen on the prostate – including impaired zinc absorption and elevated DHT formation – which can lead to pattern baldness, low immunity and facial hair on women. Licorice root blocks the formation of DHT from testosterone, so it’s helpful for these issues. Aside from its adaptogenic and immune properties, it builds nerve tissue, removes arterial plaque, reduces body fat, treats hypoglycemia, ulcers, is an antiseptic, antispasmodic, a subtle laxative and expectorant. It balances intestinal flora, balances blood sugar, protects the liver and stimulates aldosterone, a key adrenal hormone and has been used throughout history to treat hormone imbalances – and just about every known female imbalance. In women, licorice can give a women a sense of well-being and control. Again, take this 3 x daily either as a sweet delicious tea, as a powdered extract in an elixir or even use to make Bulletproof Marshmallows. Avoid taking it past 6 pm.
  3. Astragalus– This strong adaptogenic is also a vasodilator, making it great for physical work or anyone with poor circulation. Great for the spleen and lungs, and overall increases in life energy. Stress is a major cause of physical fatigue, hence the idea of adrenal fatigue and Astragalus incredibly useful for improving physical weakness and other drained energy disorders like candida, herpes, hypoglycemia and exhaustion. Sleep problems like night sweats and even fluid retention are symptoms of fatigued kidneys and adrenals, astragalus can help! Probably the most incredible ability this herb has is that as a prime anti-viral, anti-cancer immune enhancement. Like licorice root, it helps the body produce extra interferon in the body. It’s so powerful that it’s used with cancer therapies to counteract the immune suppressing effects of cancer drugs and radiation. The vasodilating properties help to lower blood pressure as well as break up blood clots, preventing heart disease. If you’re overly stressed, it will boost adrenal function for better energy while normalizing the nervous system and balancing hormones. In Chinese Medicine the kidneys and lungs are strongly associated – so it’s great for respiratory illnesses by helping regenerate bronchi cells.
  4. Siberian ginsengAlso known as Eluthero, this herb is the most effective of all adaptogen herbs, second to Jiaogulan. With adaptogen herbs, they work better with longevity as opposed to incrementally. They are best taken for several months to a year, as it takes time for the wisdom of these plants to start to rearrange your body chemistry to be in better balance and more immune. As far as benefits goes – it aids cardiovascular disorders, including heart attack and heart disease, lowers high blood pressure, inhibits growth and formation of liver cancer cells, which is one of the most difficult cancers to resolve! Ginseng also stimulates protein synthesis and the polysaccharides in it protect against alcohol induced gastric ulcers, making it excellent for anyone with a past of alcohol consumption or history of stomach ulcers. As the second strongest adaptogen, it is of course hormone balancing for both men and women as well as an aphrodisiac for both men and women! It is the only herb to clinically test as a plant source of testosterone; however, there is also Pine Pollen, which is another source that is just not clinically tested. This herb increases sperm count, seminal vesicle weight, supports key adrenal and prostate functions. If you’re a male and having troubling “getting it up” toss your Viagra, it’s toxic – ginseng enhances nitric oxide synthesis, which regulates muscle tone of blood vessels that control flow to the penis, leading to stronger erection for impotent men. Pair it with some Gelatinized Maca and your lady won’t know what hit her. The antioxidants found in ginseng help cardiovascular performance not only for sexual energy, but for sports workouts so if you’re looking for the extra lift to get outside and get active, look no further than some quality ginseng. Keep in mind that if you have fatigue that you do not want to over work – keep workouts light and energizing – you should feel more energized after any physical activity, not depleted. In woman, ginseng helps normalize hormones, notably those that guard against breast cancer, endometriosis and other hormone-driven problems. It is great for preventing or minimizing the effects of menopause due to the similarity of ginsenocides and female steroidal hormones on the vaginal mucosa, to prevent thinning of vaginal walls after menopause, and menopause discomfort during intercourse. It effects a woman’s mental energy through hypothalamus stimulation, a factor in turning a woman’s attention to love-making. It also has an insulin-like effect on sugar regulation, stimulating the removal of sugar in the blood, great for anyone with diabetes, blood sugar problems or those interested in general anti-aging. Like Gynostemma, ginseng has therapeutic affects against severe recurrent viral infection and syndromes like HIV etc thanks to killer cell activity. It also stimulates RNA synthesis in bone marrow cells, has anti-toxic effects against radiation, heavy metals, and airborne pollutants. If you’re interested in maintaining a youthful appearance, consumption of ginseng protects against aging skin and early wrinkling due to AGEs. It has long-term mental and psychological benefits, with noticeable improvement of mental outlook, depressive thoughts and lifting spirits and other cognitive disorders. Overall, ginseng is the quintessential herb for stress.
  5. Ashwagandha– Ginseng and Gynostemma are renowned as the best adaptogenic herbs due to their high saponin content; however, many people refer to Ashwaganda as than ginseng and here is why. Ashwaganda is one of the world’s most renowned herbs over all, not just as an adaptogen but as pure planet medicine. As an adaptogenic herb, it provides an energetic rejuvenating lift while at the same time calming and soothing the nerves. Chemically, it’s very similar to ginseng, yet is far superior in relieving stress. It is great for treating exhaustion caused by both physical and mental stress and strain. If you are trying to get your adrenals up to speed, then you have to nourish the thyroid – Ashwaganda doesn’t just help the adrenals, it also helps boost thyroid hormone, preventing stress via thyroid burnout or under-active thyroid – an unseen problem with many overly stressed people. On a more positive note, Ashwaganda is an aphrodisiac, increasing libido and performance in 70% of men who use it. It has a soothing and cooling effect on the body that stops internal bleeding, inhibits hemorrhoids and also hemorrhagic dysentery (bloody diarrhea). It has effectively been used to treat depression and mood disorders and rejuvenate the tissues, particularly muscle and bone, adrenals and reproductive system. Consumption of ashwaganda also improves nutrient absorption, strengthens the nerves, promotes restful sleep, lessens graying of the hair, and much more. It is one of the best anti-aging herbs on the planet. 3 x daily is ideal! I enjoy this herb especially nightly in a creamy elixir like this Golden Milk Latté.
  6. Nettle– This common “weed” is one of the best tonic herbs for kidney and adrenal health. It also happens to be FREE and abundant in the wild. It’s a beauty tonic to boot, as one of the highest sources of silica, an essential nutrient for strong skin, hair and tissues. It boosts thyroid hormone (great for low thyroid), improves metabolism so it helps burn fat and it also helps to clear mucus. Raw nettles are great for cleaning the liver, build blood, flush acidic waste and even help calm the nervous system. The root is a tool for reversing and inhibiting pattern baldness, an anti-inflammatory for the prostate and hormonal balancer for disproportionate testosterone/estrogen levels. As a kidney tonic, it removes uric acid in gout. As a digestive aid, it supports the growth of beneficial intestinal flora (probiotics) and removal of mucus in the colon. It doesn’t just support mood and energy via nourishment to the adrenals, it’s also a source serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter. It is one of the most excellent foods/medicines for proper prostate function. It’s commonly used as an antidepressant, as a naturally antibiotic and anti-fungal (great for Candida), to dissolve kidney stones, to regulate the thyroid, to increase energy, to treat anemia and ulcers, and to treat constipation. It is considered one of the greatest tonic herbs for the adrenals, kidney, and liver. I take this herb 3 x a day in my tonics and even add this powdered extract to my Bulletproof Coffee – it’s tasteless and as a powdered extract, it dissolves completely without grit.
  7. Amla berry– Stress, infection and intense exercise all increase the cellular demand for vitamin C – there are even studies showing how blood levels of vitamin C fall at an increased rate during these times. Adrenal fatigue is just referring to a lack of adrenal output, which places all cells of the body under increased stress. The result is a near automatic increase in sympathetic nervous activity to compensate for the extremely low levels of cortisol (an anti-inflammatory stress hormone) and high levels of systemic inflammation that usually is found next to low levels of this steroid hormone. When this happens, the immune system does not regulate properly, which means infection and in result a driving demand for b-vitamins, minerals and especially vitamin C. In times of stress, a dosage of 2,000-4,000 mg per day of food-grade vitamin C is recommended – in severe cases, up to 20,mg. Where are we supposed to get doses of vitamin C like this that won’t cause vitamin C flush (diarrhea) or a pro-oxidant effect in the case of consumption of large doses of synthetic ascorbic acid? Mother Nature has the remedy and it goes by the name of Amla. Next to Gubinge, Amla is the highest sources of vitamin C on the planet. Not only that, it’s a strong anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory that helps cleanse liver. Healthy adrenals aren’t the only aspect to having a body that is resilience against stress, a healthy liver is also a must. The liver also produces many hormones when under stress. Keep it clean and well-functioning is a must and healthy doses of food-grade vitamin C is one simple way to build a healthier liver and stronger adrenals. For extreme fatigue, take up to 10,000 mg a day, for general prevention roughly 2,000 mg is great.
  8. RhodiolaWhen it comes to dissolving the excessive cortisol in the blood (which can weaken the immune system) Rhodiola is King. It has a calming effect on the body as cortisol is dissolved. However, it really depends on your unique adrenal output on how you will react – most people actually experience more alertness when taking Rhodiola because it help slightly stimulate under-active adrenal and thyroid. As a side-note, cortisol is not the culprit – it is absolutely necessary to live and a powerful anti-inflammatory and is what wakes us up in the morning. The problem is that most of us live in a reactive, stressful state and the result is excessive cortisol output, which weakens the adrenals and immune system. most of us exist in a state of nearly constant exposure to this compound, resulting in lowered blood sugar response, abdominal weight gain, decreased memory, reduced cellular energy production, and diminished immunity. Rhodiola helps by not only reducing persistent raised cortisol and balancing the HPA-Axis, but also to balance and heal the entire communication system for the long-term, making the body much more resilient to stress. This results in not just lower “stress” but better energy, increased immunity, and significantly more balanced hormones. This will help to counter any emotional eating or other stress related compulsions. Again, 3 x a day with this herb, perhaps avoiding taking it past 6 pm.
  9. Holy Basil–  Holy Basil also known as Tulsi can be a super helpful for treating fatigue and energy depletion. It has many anti-stress properties and does not stimulate like Rhodiola or Ginseng. This makes it a safe herb for treating general fatigue. It is great for lowering cortisol during times of stress and it also lowers total cholesterol while stimulating the immune system. If you are experiencing the byproducts of fatigue such as insomnia or anxiety then you may want to try Holy Basil. Note that it also goes under the name Tulsi.However, if you have advanced chronic fatigue, you will want to use Holy Basil with caution. The reason for this is that Holy Basil is very good at lowering cortisol and might be too calming for someone who is very fatigued – better to go with Rhodiola in this case. Other than that, you will find that Holy Basil provides many of the same benefits found in the other adaptogens mentioned.
  10. Schisandra berry  Not many people realized this but schisandra berries are actually a powerful adaptogen. Whether the pressure is mental or physical, the adaptogenic qualities of schisandra will have a stabilizing effect on the entire body. For this reason many athletes love schisandra – it helps them perform at high levels and increases the capacity for both physical and mental endurance, while protecting the body from  harmful environmental and internal oxidative-stress. Schisandra improves cellular energy by increasing nitric oxide levels in the body. In Asia, schisandra is thought to be one of the most protective plants – especially for the skin. It’s ability to cleanse and detoxify the liver make it a great beauty herb, considering that the hair, skin and eyes are all a reflection of the liver. If you want to look good, keep your liver in good shape – it’s that simple! Schisandra berry contains powerful antioxidant properties, such as gomisin A and Wuweizisu C, that help rejuvenate skin by protecting the lipid membrane in skin cells – this means protection against sun damage! The high antioxidant count protects cells from oxidative damage during times of stress – this means less wrinkles, better hair, stronger joints and healthier tissues. Because excessive stress can cause inflammation, schisandra is great because it contains many anti-inflammatory qualities to help counter this effect. Additionally, schisandra berry increases the production of glutathione, the master anti-oxidant, which supports healthy liver detoxification. Lastly, schisandra contains lignans that offer more liver protection by supporting the function of the liver and even the regeneration of it. You can mix schisandra berry extract into water and sip throughout the day, add to raw ice cream recipes or make herbal tonics.

11 Tips for Improving Digestion For Good

So, how’s your digestion?

Surprisingly, this is one of the first questions I ask when consulting with my clients. As a holistic health coach, I get a lot of people who come into my life with “issues” from all walks of life. However, whether a person is trying to lose weight, pursue their dreams, or just feel better achieving optimal digestive health is a constant. After all, the gut is a fundamental influencing force of human health.

The Gut-Brain Connection

There is an undeniable relationship between our gut and mental activity. Some have their first experiences with this during moments of intuition, that “I had a funny feeling about this”. We’ve been unconsciously experiencing this connection in multiple forms of expression just like this.

The popular “gut wrenching feeling” or “I feel sick to my stomach” and of course who can forget the popular “butterflies in my stomach”? These are all proven experiences of the bond between what goes on within our intestinal tract and our mind. It seems simple, if our stomachs are aching, it seems likely we wouldn’t be in the best mood.

The Lemon Exercise

If you don’t think that the metaphysical can strongly influence the physical then try this exercise. Witness how the mere thought of food can stimulate digestive juices. This is mostly for fun but will help give you an actual experience of the gut-brain connection – just in case you haven’t experienced a strong reaction yet.

Right now, with out any distraction, concentrate on the image of a lemon in your mind. Pretend you’re holding this lemon in your hand, freshly picked off of a tree somewhere in California. You can smell the fresh, sour citrus as it sits in your palm. You bring it closer and breathe in the lemon zest.

Now imagine taking a huge bite of that lemon, peel and all. Can you feel your mouth watering yet? If your imagination is strong enough, you likely were able to stimulate some digestive juices without even having the lemon present in real life. This shows you how powerful your mind is at controlling your digestive system.

A Holistic Approach

Science has explored this phenomenon further only to discover that our bodies are even more connected than we had ever known (at least here in the West). Though many other ancient cultures have been telling us that our reality starts from within, we in the West are coming to learn this from a more scientific experience.

In short, up to 80% of our brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) are manufactured in the gut. In fact, 95% of our serotonin is produced in the gut. This tells us a lot about how sensitive our intestinal tract is to emotions and mood. We are realizing we can no longer treat symptoms of impaired digestion; such as depression or anxiety, without addressing the gut.

Likewise, if we want to heal a distressed gut, we have to take account for our moods. This means working from both ends by managing our mental-emotional states as well as maintaining our physical bodies by being aware of what we put into our system.

10 Simple Tips for Optimal Digestion

Though the idea of digestion appears deeply complex, maintaing a healthy digestive system is really quite simple. Here are some tips for regaining and maintaining perfect digestive health that anyone can implement:

  1. Never watch TV (especially the news) while eating- Most of us grew up with a dinner table and a television not to far away. We even went as far as creating the TV Dinner, to make sure we were able to eat and enjoy our favorite shows at the same time. The news never produces a good feeling and is usually filled with negativity. This creates too much excitement in the body, which can trigger the flight-or-fight response (Stress). When we watch something over stimulating, our bodies cannot tell the difference between real life or a strong imagination. So when you’re watching the news about war or the failing economy, your body is likely to go into stress mode which will shut down the digestive system.
  2. Don’t read technical or stressful material while eating- Reading the newspaper is just like watching the news (see no.1). In fact, eating the newspaper somewhere relaxing would probably be better for your digestion than reading it while eating and hoping to digest your food. IF you wish to read, read something uplifting that makes you happy. Self-help books, inspirational stories, or something spiritually enlightening. Avoid your tax report, work papers, or school books. Additionally, using your eyes actually requires a good amount of energy, which takes away from digestion.
  3. Play relaxing music- Classical music, music with a one-second beat (Baroque Classical), or new age music with no beat (most meditation music). This is relaxing to the body and will stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system, which will turn on your digestion. Research from John Hopkins University and other Institutes actually shows that classical music has a higher energetic vibration which soothes the heart and assists you in relaxation. Where rock music shows very rigid vibrational patterns that cause people to eat in a rushed, tense pace.
  4. Drink two glasses of water before each meal- What is important here is the quality and timing. You want to drink chlorine and fluoride-free water always. The best is local spring water. You can get this by searching or asking local health conscious folks in your neighborhood. The second best option are glass bottled spring waters. Here is my top choice for water as far as mineral content, taste and purity goes. Next, make sure you drink the water 15 minutes before eating. Drinking water before a meal will ensure you properly digest your food by hydrating the stomach lining. This will assist enzyme production. Do not drink water while eating or any sooner than 15 minutes as this will dilute digestive enzymes and acids.
  5. Limit and aim to avoid dehydrated foods- This means crackers, chips, dried fruits, un-soaked nuts, seeds and grains and of course common processed foods (donuts, popcorn, cookies, pretzels, crisps, etc).  Most people are eating too many improperly prepared grains and legumes. Beans, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, oats, etc. and even nuts and seeds all need to be soaked in water and rehydrated to be properly digested. They contain enzyme inhibitors that make them very difficult to digest. Not to mention, when not soaked they are very dehydrating foods. It’s a good idea to soak grains, legumes and nuts/seeds for 12-24 hours and rinse well to remove saponins and lectins. Dehydrated foods often get stuck to the gut wall where they draw moisture out of the colon. This causes pain, cramps and can lead to problems like diverticulitis. Instead, make it your goal to consume more water-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, organic meats and properly prepared grains.
  6. Avoid foods you are intolerant or allergic to- Many people are intolerant to foods and have no idea. This is a result of being ignorant to the first 5 steps in this post, lack of variety in diet, stress and other reasons. If you know you’re intolerant or allergic, make it a matter to pay extra attention to healing your gut with these steps and of course just avoiding a food that is taking away from your quality of life. If you don’t know if you are intolerant you can get tested, or even cheaper would be to eliminate common problematic foods for 2 weeks and see how you feel on and off. These foods are gluten, corn, soy, eggs, dairy, nuts/seeds, and most forms of sugar (including fruit).
  7. Chew your food until it’s liquid- No explanation needed.
  8. Eat smaller meals more often- A smaller meal is easier to digest than a bigger meal, that’s common sense. Digestion takes incredible amounts of energy, preserving it by eating smaller meals will keep you younger and more energized. Because we are all different with unique metabolisms, there may be variances in the size of your meals and frequencies. A good rule of thumb is to eat until your 80% full, leaving room for digestion. The goal is metabolic efficiency; you want to be able to take in the most amount of nutrients with minimal food required. Eating to 80% capacity will only be effective if you are eating real food, with healthy proportions of fats, carbs and proteins.
  9. Never suppress the urge- If you have to go, GO! Many people put off going to the bathroom until they are home from work, or in the most comfortable setting. Though this makes sense to a degree, you are also destroying your colon. The peristalsis mechanism in your intestinal tract controls your elimination, it’s your poop muscle if you will. Its been shown in little as 7-21 days you can entrain any physiological system. By suppressing your natural need to eliminate you can cause a permanent traffic jam in your intestines; chronic constipation! This is sure to impair digestion in a serious way by inhibiting nutrient absorption and leading to toxicity.
  10. Start meals with raw foods (especially fermented)- Raw foods, especially fermented raw foods, are incredibly dense with enzymes and healthy bacteria. These are very beneficial to digestion. They stimulate the digestive process and aid the body in producing it’s own enzymes and stomach acids. Raw sauerkraut, raw apple cider vinegar or coconut kefir both aid the body in producing stomach acid (HCL) which digests proteins. These are great to have with animal proteins. Pineapple and papaya also contain protein digestive enzymes and are great in salads. Raw foods and raw ferments establish a healthy gut flora, which are the base of your digestive system. They play many roles in food digestion and nutrient absorption. Try adding a few tablespoons of these fermented foods to each meal or sipping on a few ounces fermented drinks while eating for incredible digestion.
  11. CHILL OUT– If there is one thing you could do for better digestive health, it would be to relax. The digestive system is run by the atomic nervous system. There are two subcategories of our nervous system that mange our digestive health; the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. When we are stressed out or suffering, we are in a sympathetic state. Hence the name sym-pathetic. The word pathetic is derived from the Greek word pathos, meaning to suffer. Whenever we are stressed our bodies suffer and activates this sympathetic nervous system, telling our bodies it is in danger. In this panicked state, the body shuts down all digestive functions and used that energy for primal survival. The sympathetic nervous system activates the muscles and prepares the body for work. While this mechanism can be useful in life or death situations let’s face it, we are hardly in life or death situations anymore. I’m not saying life is anywhere near perfect; however, most people have no real reason to suffer or panic. It’s more likely that our problems today, and digestive problems are totally psychosomatic (created in our minds in the form of worry, anxiety and outdated mental constructs). When we are relaxed and chilled out though, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which is responsible for rest, repair and regeneration. We do not necessarily need to be in a constant state of relaxation or serenity – there is a time any place for work. However, most people are in a constant sympathetic state. If you have digestive problems then you are likely more stressed out than not. Stress is simply force-counter force, it’s pressure. So what can you do to relax? Stop trying to impress people, stop letting people pure-pressure you, stop letting people depress you (put you down) and get out of your head. Stop thinking so much and look around. There’s a major difference between thinking (consciousness) and looking (awareness). Be less conscious and more aware – get out of your thoughts and look around, life is fucking beautiful. Go for a walk, look into someone’s eyes, or paint a picture if you don’t believe me.

For more knowledge and holistic tips for optimal digestive health, see my online course Perfect Digestion, where I dive deeper into the anatomy of the digestive system, how it works and what we can do daily to support it’s functioning.