Dairy is Deadly

I was a little worried about giving up dairy. I LOVED cheese. Yogurt and cheese sticks were a staple for Matthew. What the heck was he going to eat?! And how would we ever enjoy a slice of pizza again with gluten gone and now dairy?

I knew it had to be done, though. Gluten and casein are molecularly similar. Plus, dairy comes from animals. Animals that are given an abundance of hormones, and even those that claim to have “no-added hormones” still have their own naturally occurring hormones.

That influx of hormones introduced to the gut is warfare to the digestive system. On top of that, there is an introduction of bad bacteria resulting in the release of toxic proteins into our body. Fermentation of these proteins, like casein and whey, result in the release of toxic compounds which promote the production of tumors, increase the risk of inflammatory bowel disease, lead to liver disease, and, when the proteins of animal foods like meat, eggs, and dairy are metabolized, they get absorbed into the body and release a metabolite that has been linked to cardiovascular disease.

When the fat from animal foods are absorbed, mostly in the small intestine, they inhibit the growth of good bacteria, allowing the bad bacteria to take over. Even pasteurized milk contains microorganisms. Pasteurization does not completely eliminate food-borne pathogens, which of course erodes the lining in our gut, creating permeability.

As if that wasn’t enough, the antibiotics given to cows makes its way into the milk, too, and then, in turn, into us. A diet high in dairy is a diet high in antibiotics. Even if you haven’t been prescribed an antibiotic, when you consume dairy products then you are continually on a course of antibiotics. Antibiotics seek and destroy all bacteria, not just the bad bacteria.

Dairy and Bone Health

We have been told that to get calcium and build strong bones we must consume dairy. Who wants us to believe that? The dairy industry. The truth is, the more dairy you consume, the more at risk you are for osteoporosis. Dairy is very acidic. The body works hard to bring the body back into balance by pulling calcium from the bones to deal with the acidity in the dairy. Cows don’t make calcium. They eat it, by eating plants. That calcium makes its way into their milk. We don’t need cows for calcium, we need plants. Some plant foods high in calcium include: broccoli, brussels sprouts, black beans, rice milk, figs, and white beans.

Dairy and Fat

Dairy products – ice cream, yogurt, butter, cheese, milk – contribute immensely to the fat consumption in the human diet. This significantly raises cholesterol and increases risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It is the saturated fat in the diet that causes diabetes. When our cells are full of fat, there is no room for the sugar to get into the cell. Sugar is what our body runs on. Sugar is what our body needs – and I don’t mean processed/refined white sugar, I mean sugar from plant foods – for energy. When the sugar can’t get into the cell then it stays in the blood. With all that sugar swimming around, the pancreas releases more insulin. But it won’t work, the sugar still can’t get in as long as fat is in the way. The phytochemicals in plants dissolve the gumming up of the cells, allowing the glucose into the cell. As humans, we do need fat. We need the fat present in plant foods. Unsaturated fat. As long as you are eating a wide range of plant foods, you are getting all the fat your body needs.

Dairy and Cancer

Dairy consumption is also highly linked to certain cancers, especially cancers of the reproductive system. This connection is likely due to the increase of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) which is found in cow’s milk.  Consumption of milk/dairy products increases the amount of IGF-1 circulating in the body. The higher the levels of IGF-1, the higher the risk of cancer especially in the breast, ovaries, and prostate.

What’s in Your Glass of Milk

  • 135 million pus cells
  • Blood
  • Feces
  • 20 painkillers, antibiotics, and growth hormone
  • Bacteria & pathogens
  • IGF-1 – which contributes to diabetes, hormonal imbalance, immune system damage, early puberty, and cancer
  • Acidic protein which leaches calcium from bones
  • Casein, a milk protein, which is linked to breast cancer, kidney disease, arthritis, MS, crohn’s disease, IBS, and asthma

Eliminating Dairy

There are many ways to enjoy a dairy free meal, while still enjoying the foods you are used to.

Replace cow’s milk with non-dairy alternatives such as almond milk, cashew milk, rice milk, coconut milk, soy milk, or oat milk.

Cooking without Dairy/Cheese

You can make dairy-free. I have a delicious macaroni and cheese recipe that is just as creamy and delicious as dairy filled macaroni and cheese – it tastes better, actually. Those alternatives include making a cashew cheese sauce as used in my mac & cheese recipe. You can even make vegan parmesan cheese by grinding up cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt in a food processor. I have dairy-free pizza recipes you will enjoy, and not even miss the cheese. It is possible to eat amazing food and still take care of your health.

Baking/Cooking without Dairy

How can you bake a cake or muffin or cookies without butter? Easy! Make healthy substitutions and you’ll be enjoying the occasional treat, dairy-free! When baking, you can substitute the oils and/or butter with bananas, applesauce, or nut butters. Cookies are amazing even without butter! When sautéing vegetables, instead of using butter to keep veggies from sticking to the pan, you can use either a splash of water or a splash of vegetable broth.

 

 

Dairy-Free Life

With the elimination of dairy from your diet, you’ll enjoy better digestion and the end of stomach pain and bloating, you’ll have stronger bones, and you’ll have less acne. You will no longer be at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or cancer. If you already have those conditions, you could possibly even reverse it by going dairy-free. Knowing you will no longer be contributing to the destruction of your gut leading to such chronic, debilitating and even deadly conditions is a wonderfully empowering feeling. No need to rely solely on doctors and their prescription pads.

The Risk of Meat in your Diet

Meat is supposed to be really good for us, right? It is full of protein and iron which are definitely things a growing body needs.

The trouble is, getting those macronutrients from meat is not such a good idea.

First, let’s look at it from a gut flora perspective: Eating meat alters the trillions of microbes living in our gut. Within 2 days of eating a meat based meal, the types of microbes living in the gut shuffle around, and not for the better.

Certain types of microbes that are introduced to the gut in a meat-centered meal flourish and have been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases.

That bad bacteria introduced to the gut and hanging out in the intestines influence many aspects of our health including weight, immunity, and behavior.

The fact is, a single meal of meat triggers an inflammatory response in the body within hours of consumption. If we go from one meat-centered meal to the next, like from bacon for breakfast then a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a hamburger for dinner, then we end up in a chronic state of inflammation, with never any time for the body to reset back to normal healthy range. We become always inflamed, always damaged.

If you have a damaged and inflamed gut, you have damage and inflammation elsewhere in the body. This routine of chronic inflammation sets us up for, inflammatory diseases. Those diseases include all auto-immune diseases, heart disease, diabetes, and even certain cancers.

The question is, if inflammation is an immune response to a perceived threat, then what is the the body finding threatening in a meal containing meat?

One answer: endotoxins.

Endotoxins are the toxins released from bacteria when introduced to the human gut. There is a direct link between endotoxins in the blood stream and increased intestinal permeability. The more permeable your gut is, the easier unrecognizable molecules, even from food, will enter the bloodstream and cause an immune response.

After one meal of meat (or any animal product such as eggs and dairy), the bloodstream becomes flooded with bacterial endotoxins. And no, you can’t cook them off. The endotoxins survive cooking, high heat, and even your stomach acid.

To make matters worse, fat in the animal food increases the absorption of the endotoxins into the bloodstream.

A high protein, meat centered diet, accelerates the rate at which endotoxins and carcinogens get into the cell. 

Another answer to the “what is my body finding threatening” question is:  saturated fat.

Look at it this way, the saturated fat we eat saturates our cells with fat. The more fat our cells are saturated with, the less room there is for glucose to get into the cell. Glucose is what our cells need for life sustaining energy. When you have fatty cells, the glucose can’t get in, so the glucose (sugars) stay in your blood. This is when you get diagnosed with diabetes because you have high blood sugar. But the kicker is, it isn’t because of the sugar you have been eating, it’s because of the saturated fat. With all that sugar coursing through your blood vessels, your vessels become hard and narrowed. Blood can’t pass through easily which cuts off circulation not just to your heart causing cardiovascular disease (which is the number 1 killer in America), but to your other organs, your brain, your eyes, and even your genitals.

By the time you get diagnosed with diabetes, you have already had it for 10-20 years.

Too often, the first sign of cardiovascular disease is a heart attack.

RECAP

Damaging bacteria introduced to our gut when eating meat leads to toxic blood and in turn systemic inflammation and complete weakening of the immune system. We know that bacteria death (endotoxins) are more readily absorbed into our cells because of the animal protein. And we know that the saturated fat from animal foods takes over our cells and leaves us with too much sugar in the blood which leads to cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

EAT WITHOUT MEAT

You have all this information, so now what do you do? Change is hard, but your life depends on it. The life of your children depends on it. After I learned how damaging meat is, I couldn’t, in good conscience, feed it to my kids anymore. I was damaging their gut, and whole body, one bite at a time. That was the motivation I needed.  What is your motivation?

On a meatless diet, my kids have thrived. They have limitless energy, they sleep soundly, they get sick less-often (almost never) than their peers, they have amazing focus, and they are a healthy weight. They are getting every nutrient they need. Why? Because they eat a wide variety of plant-based foods. Plants are where all the nutrients are. Meat has no fiber, no carbohydrates, no antioxidants, and no phytonutrients. Any trace amount of nutrients someone might get from an animal food is only there because the animal ate the plant those nutrients came from.  By going directly to the source (plants), and skipping the excess protein, iron, saturated fat, and endotoxins found in meat, we eliminate the chances of life threatening, and oftentimes deadly, diseases.

Cutting meat out of your diet can be hard at first, especially if you have grown up on meat at every meal. It isn’t just what tastes good to you, it’s a part of who you are. It is how you relate to your family, memories of sitting around the dinner table eating your favorite meat-centered meal and talking about your day. How do you make changes when, maybe, no one else in your family is?

Another hurdle: maintaining this new way of eating. When I gave up meat, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to maintain it because I was just sure I didn’t like nearly enough vegetables to make it work. I couldn’t possibly live on apples and bananas alone. As much as I had always wanted to like salad, I just never did. What was I going to eat?!

Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself.  Pick a few recipes that become your go-to recipes. For me, one of those meals was tacos. Instead of using ground meat for the filling, I substituted it with brown rice or quinoa and I doubled up on the veggies I added in. To my surprise, I liked it much better than tacos made with ground meat. Most importantly, so did my kids.

Rice became my substitute for meat in many of the main dishes I made. Chickpea’s are also a great replacement. And much healthier, too. Instead of chicken noodle soup, I make chickpea noodle soup. Making soup or stew? Double up on the beans and/or rice and skip the meat. It will be just as hearty and filling (more filling!) and be life giving, not disease promoting.

It only takes 10 days to 2 weeks for taste buds to change. You can do this.  I found myself craving more fruits and vegetables, liking the taste of more vegetables that I grew up not liking, and expanded my palate by more than double. And now, I absolutely love salad. I could eat a giant salad for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Your taste buds will change.

Beans and grains are not to be feared. Grains are the most protective food against diabetes, because of the fiber.  Foods like red meat and processed meats, because of the saturated fat carry the highest increased risk.

Beans are full of the healthiest sources of protein, in just the right amounts necessary. Remember, excessive protein turns on the cancer process and accelerates its growth.

Now, what about iron and protein? Most people fear they won’t get enough protein or iron on a plant based diet, however, on a plant based diet you will get plenty of protein and iron – the right kinds of protein and iron. You will also get the wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber that you won’t get in meat.

You can read more about the benefits of cutting meat out of your diet in this article here.

Gluten: Is it really bad or just a fad?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It is what gives dough it’s stretch and ability to rise (when interacting with yeast). It is also used as a filler and thickener agent in certain products such as marinades, gravies, sauces, condiments, processed meats, and canned soups. Did you know that restaurant scrambled eggs even have gluten in them?! A lot of times they add pancake batter to their pancakes to bulk them up and make them fluffy. But that is no good for your gut.

So, what is the trouble with gluten?

Being gluten-free is considered by many to be a “fad” diet, but extensive research has been done to prove the detrimental effects of gluten on every human body. According to Dr. Tom O’Bryan, a leading authority on gluten sensitivity, and who wrote the book The Autoimmune Fix, “The problem with gluten is that no human can digest it.”

Dr. Alessio Fasano has also done comprehensive research on the subject of gluten, and specifically on how gluten effects the body. He found that, “…if you take the hydrochloric acid in the human stomach and you put it in a little vial, then you put your finger in the vial, it eats your finger to the bone in one minute. One minute! You put some gluten in that vial, it (stomach acid) won’t digest the gluten. When you eat gluten, it is not digestible. It’s supposed to be broken down into very small molecules called individual amino acids or 2 or 3 together a dipeptide or tripeptide and that gets absorbed very easily into the blood stream through the intestines but you can’t break it down into dipeptides or tripeptides.”

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. When we eat protein, the digestive system will break down that protein into 1, 2 or at most 3 amino acid peptides that are easily absorbed into the bloodstream. The gluten molecules of wheat, rye, and barley are not digested into those small enough molecules. They remain in larger sizes, sometimes very large, and these macromolecules trigger an immune system response because they aren’t recognized by the body in such large form.

With repeated exposure to these large molecules from toast, pancakes, bread, pastries, cereal, condiments, sauces, pasta, croutons and the like, you hit a critical stage internally. Your body starts sending signals of distress by way of symptoms.

It is important to note here, that these symptoms are not restricted to the intestines. It won’t just be stomach pains or bloating alerting you to a problem. Eating gluten will trigger an immune response, leading to inflammation that can be in any part of the body.

Some extra-intestinal symptoms include: anxiety, brain fog, vertigo, headaches and migraines, motion sickness, chronic aches and pains, fatigue, and even nerve pain.

At this point, you might make your way to the doctor who will run tests, but will you get accurate results? My son, Matthew, didn’t. Too many doctors tell their patients that if the symptoms they are having are not severe, or if there is no advanced intestinal damage (such as total villous atrophy) then you don’t need to worry about avoiding gluten. Unless they find completely worn-down villi, you are told that you do not have Celiac Disease and therefore you do not need to avoid gluten, because gluten is not the problem.

Celiac Disease is an allergy to gluten, and those with Celiac Disease do have completely worn-down villi. However, with gluten sensitivity (sometimes called gluten intolerance), you do not have completely worn-down villi so your intolerance to gluten will be over-looked, even dismissed. But the toxic peptides of gluten act as a trigger in the auto-immune mechanism whether or not you have worn-down villi. Remember, it is the large molecules that initiate the problem. The worn-down villi is a result of the problem.

My advice: the symptoms are signals, messengers, from the body. No matter where they come from, they should not be ignored. Recognize it, and catch it early.

In an excerpt from The Autoimmune Fix by Dr Tom O’Bryan, he states:

“…gluten is a primary trigger of inflammation, which activates the genes for intestinal permeability, and the development of the autoimmune spectrum. All people have a problem digesting the toxic gluten peptides from wheat, rye, and barely, whether or not they have symptoms when they eat it. We mistakenly believe that if we don’t ‘feel’ bad when we eat something, we do not have a problem with that food. We do not associate the headache we woke up with this morning – or our high blood pressure or our brain fog or lack of ability to think in school – with the food we ate yesterday.”

For some, as in the case of my son, the messages did come from the gut. However, gluten reactive patients can notice symptoms on the skin (dermatitis, psoriatic arthritis, eczema), the brain (altered neurotransmitter production, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, ADHD), or even the nerves (carpal tunnel, idiopathic neuropathies).

Pathology to gluten exposure can occur in multiple systems without any evidence of intestinal damage. The tests will come back negative, as they did in my son’s case. Since the comprehensive testing has been done showing that no one can digest gluten, it is a safe bet that if you are eating gluten containing foods, you are introducing large molecules into your bloodstream, initiating an immune response, and slowly but surely wearing down your intestinal villi and increasing your intestinal permeability.

A lot of doctors do not recognize this connection and tend to wait for the accumulated damage of this immune system attack on our tissues, when damage is extensive enough that there is complete organ failure. That is when you’ll receive an auto-immune diagnosis. We can avoid organ failure and chronic disease by cutting gluten out of our diets altogether.

Alternatives

Going gluten-free is easier than ever, nowadays. There are plenty of gluten-free flours to choose from when making baked goods. Some of my favorites are almond flour, brown rice flour, tapioca flour, and oat four.

There are gluten-free pasta alternatives such as pasta made from rice, corn, or quinoa.

Replacing wheat and white flour is the easy part. It is the hidden gluten to be on the lookout for. Gluten is hidden in items such as:

  • Energy bars
  • Pasta sauces
  • Salad dressings
  • Pasta
  • BBQ sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Processed foods
  • Lipstick/lip gloss
  • Vitamin supplements
  • Canned soups
  • Candy and candy bars
  • Chips

Be sure, when buying a packaged product, you look for a gluten free label. It will ensure there is no cross-contamination.  Ingredients that masquerade as gluten on ingredient lists are words like: fried, coated, crispy, or crusted.

Your best bet is to leave the processed foods in their packages and eat whole-foods, like plants!

All the recipes on my website are gluten-free!

Coconut Kefir

Let’s talk about the gut. Over 70% of our immune cells are in the GUT. When we have dis-ease in the body, it is because our gut has been compromised and can no longer break down foods into nutrients it recognizes. Most of the diseases we suffer from are coming from the intestinal tract.

When we kill of the good bacteria, the bad bacteria proliferate and take over. The normal body functions cannot perform correctly, and this leads to illness and disease.

Here are just some of ways your body is telling you that you need to heal your gut (there are many more clues and signals your body sends you):

** abdominal pain

** anxiety

** behavioral problems

** cognitive decline

** brain fog

** constipation

** diarrhea

** hives

** depression

** fatigue

** insomnia

** joint pain

** chronic sinus infection/ear infection/bronchitis

** dark circles under eyes

Fermented foods:

  • Fermented foods are foods that grow bacteria on or in them and have been through a process called lactofermentation in which natural bacteria feed on the sugar and starch in the food creating lactic acid. This process of lactofermentation preserves the food, all the while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. It also creates beneficial enzymes, b-vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, and various strains of probiotics.
  • Fermented food are one of the best detoxifying agents as they are capable of drawing out a wide range of toxins and heavy metals.
  • Fermented foods directly inoculate your gut with live bacteria that will crowd out unhealthy bacteria and prohibit the bad bacteria from flourishing.
  • Fermented foods have also been shown to break the food down to a more digestible form. (you are what you eat, but more importantly – you are what you digest)
  • Fermented foods/probiotics are more effective when combined with a high-fiber diet so be sure to eat an abundance of plant foods. Meat and cheese are devoid of any fiber whatsoever, and can even contribute to killing off good bacteria.

Ingredients:

kefir powder (starter grains)

2 cans of full fat unsweetened coconut milk

** Follow starter grains package instructions to know how much starter culture to use. For the brand I used, I needed the whole pre-measured package (5g) for 1 quart of milk. Brands may vary slightly but this is generally how all kefir would be made **

  1. Dump packet of starter grains into quart sized mason jar.
  2. Empty the contents of 2 cans of full fat unsweetened coconut milk into the jar.
  3. Stir to mix well being sure that no lumps remain.
  4. Cover with a mesh cloth or wash cloth and secure with rubber-band (metal lids could halt the process of fermentation).
  5. Leave out at room temperature for at least 24 -48 hours. At this point put it in the refrigerator to stop fermentation and keep it fresh. It will only last at room temp for 1-2 days. You can store it in the fridge for 2-3 weeks.

Cold and Flu Season

With cold and flu season upon us, there are some very easy and practical ways we can boost our immune system and the immune system of our children.

  1. Plants: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? It is imperative to eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Those colors are more than just appealing to the eye. Each color provides a different antioxidant power. Those antioxidants destroy the free radicals that weaken our immune system and are responsible for making us feel sick when we catch a bug.
  2. Soap and water: Washing hands regularly with soap and water is the best way to keep from introducing germs to the inside of our body. But be sure to use plain soap, not fragranced soap or anti-bacterial soap. Though they sound like a good idea, fragranced soaps contain many synthetic chemicals that actually destroy the good bacteria on our skin and also weaken our immune system.
  3. Fermented food: Fermented foods contain probiotics, which are the good bacteria your body needs to survive. Without a healthy gut flora, your immune system is compromised and the viral and bacterial infections have a better chance of dominating throughout your body.
  4. AVOID sugar: Lab tests have shown that your immune system is weakened by more than 50% just a mere 30 minutes after eating simple/processed sugars. This weakened state is still present 5 hours later! That means your immune system is still in a compromised state from one meal or snack as you imbibe on another meal or snack containing more non-whole foods. It stays perpetually suppressed, and unable to fight infection when eating a SAD (Standard American Diet). This brings us back to point #1. Eat plants.
  5. Exercise: Exercise boosts the production of microphages, the kind of white blood cells that “eat” bacteria and viruses. Better yet, head outside for exercise and gain the benefit of fresh air and Vitamin D!
  6. Sleep: Sleep increases the number of white blood cells boosting your immune power. Conversely, lack of sleep increases inflammation in the body and reduces immune function.
  7. Reduce Stress: Easier said than done, right? But it is important to find ways to reduce stress because excessive unresolved stress weakens our immune system, and increases inflammation which increases our chances of getting sick. Find a way to relax and be still & calm, and meditate daily.

In addition to those recommendations above, there are some nutritional supplements that can further boost the immune system. It is always best to consume your nutrients from food, but in the toxic world we live in now, that isn’t always possible, even with a whole-food plant-based diet, because in many cases the soil in which our food is grown has been depleted of vital nutrients our bodies require for optimal health. Here are some of my favorites to supplement with:

  1. Probiotics: as mentioned above, without proper colonization of good bacteria we are at reduced capacity to fight the bad bacteria, leaving us susceptible to getting sick.
  2. Vitamin C: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that is a catalyst for many enzymatic and neurological reactions in our body. Without adequate vitamin C we are in a compromised position to fight germs.
  3. Vitamin D3: Studies show that people who supplemented with Vitamin D3 during the cold and flu season had significantly lower rates of infection. That is because Vitamin D3 increases our body’s production of cathelicidin, which is an antimicrobial compound that helps fight viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin D is vital in facilitating normal immune system function. Since it isn’t always possible to get enough Vitamin D from sun (especially in northern climates where the temps get so low that even when we are outside, we are covered head to toe to keep warm and sunshine never reaches our skin).
  4. Zinc: Zinc is required for normal functioning of white blood cells, improving the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.

Also, give essential oils a try! Supporting your immune system with essential oils is another easy way to ensure your body stays strong enough to fight the invaders. Applying and diffusing are two easy and efficient ways to use essential oils safely.

The Incredible Shrinking Brain

You know what they say about a good night’s rest….it shrinks the brain. Wait, what? How can that possibly be a good thing?

First let me explain the “taking out the garbage” system we have in the body called the LYMPHATIC SYSTEM. The lymphatic system is a network of tissues and organs that help the body rid itself of toxins, waste, and otherwise unwanted materials. The function of the lymphatic system is primarily to transport lymph (which is a fluid containing infection-fighting white blood cells) throughout the body. It does so by traveling through lymphatic vessels, similar to the circulatory system’s veins and capillaries. How it works is, a threat enters our body and makes its way into the lymphatic fluid. Eventually, that threat (virus, bacteria, microbes, toxins) travels in the lymph fluid to the lymph nodes where the white blood cells are housed and waiting to attack the invader. Essentially, “taking out the garbage” and eliminating it as waste.

The brain, however, does not get the benefit of the lymphatic system. Instead, it has cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).  The brain’s waste removal system is called the GLYMPHATIC SYSTEM. It is called the glymphatic system because of its dependence on glial cells found only in the central and peripheral nervous systems. The glymphatic system uses the cells mitochondria to remove cellular waste from the brain. It’s the CSF that is responsible for draining the toxins from the brain.

Scientists have discovered that the space between the brain cells increase during sleep, allowing the brain to complete the task of flushing toxins that build up during waking hours. “Sleep changes the cellular structure of the brain,” said Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc, co-director of the Center for Translational Neuromedicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. “The space between the brain cells changed greatly between conscious and unconscious states.” Sleep is the period in which the brain cleanses itself of toxic molecules, and that doesn’t happen while we are awake. Once we are asleep, though, the glymphatic system opens up, letting the CSF flow rapidly through the brain. In order to make room for this flood of fluid, the brain must make room. It shrinks.

But wait! There’s more. Not only does your brain dump the toxins during sleep. That extra room in there serves another purpose: learning, forming new memories, keeping the important memories, pruning the unnecessary.

This 20% brain shrinkage during sleep helps your brain grow stronger and make sense of information received during the waking hours.

When we are awake, we are servants of the here and now, always attending to some stimuli and processing something. During sleep, we are not preoccupied by the external world and the brain can assess all our synapses (Synapse is the junction between two nerve cells, the junction where nerve cells pass a signal, or electrical charge, to another neuron) and reorganize them in an intelligent way. Kind of like a file system.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle suggested that sleep was restorative, a time to replace and rebuild all that was burned up during the day. Scientists are showing that he wasn’t far off the mark. Sleep plays a large role in the growth of synapses, which act as the highway ferrying information among neurons. Synapses are constantly strengthening, or widening, during the day to accommodate that heavy flow of traffic as the brain takes in new experiences and information. But that strengthening can’t go on indefinitely or the synapses burnout – like system overload. It is critical to have that pruning back at night so that huge amount of information encoded temporarily during the day doesn’t overwhelm the brain. This nightly pruning ensures that the important information is retained.

Brain shrinkage is important to overall health in helping us flush toxins from the brain and helping us file away, in a logical manner, the important information we need to retain.

Want to improve your brain health? Let your brain shrink. Get quality sleep every night.

Here are 6 easy steps to make sure you get your nightly zzzzz’s:

Establish a schedule. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Practice a nightly ritual. This will send the signal to your brain and body that it is time to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Exercise daily (but make it early). Vigorous exercise is known to reduce the time is takes to fall asleep, just not when you exercise right before bed.

Clean up your sleeping environment. Your room should have minimal distractions. No TV, no work stations, no devices. It should be cool, between 60-67 degrees is best. It should be free from any noise and light.

Avoid stimulants/chemicals before bed. Caffeine, alcohol, nicotine are no-nos.

Avoid too much fluid intake. You want to make sure you are staying hydrated throughout the day. Just be sure to get those fluids in before bedtime otherwise your sleep will be disrupted for constant trips to the bathroom.

Why Do I Need A Health Coach

You want total mental, physical, and spiritual wellness.

A health coach can help you navigate through the muddy waters and help you sync all areas of your life so you have a foundation of overall health and wellness. Once you feel balanced, it is easier to let go of unhealthy patterns and stick with healthful habits.

You feel something is off with your health and you don’t know what it is.

A health coach can dig deep into the root of your imbalance and help you find ways to feel your best.

You don’t understand why you have gained the weight or can’t lose weight.

If over the years the extra few pounds have stayed on you, or no matter what you do, you can’t lose weight, guidance is critical. Perhaps there are many dietary changes that you need, but you don’t know where or how to start. A health coach will help you identify the easiest changes to make today that will make the biggest impact on your health.

You have cravings that you don’t know how to handle. 

You figure that you don’t have any control over the cravings so you just give in, every time, year after year. A health coach will help you identify the cause of the cravings and empower you to stop the pattern.

The people around you are overweight or unhealthy. 

A health coach can help you decipher the truth about what is healthy and what is not. And guide you through making healthy changes amidst people in your inner circle who may not be on the path to wellness.

You want to lose weight fast, so you are considering which diet to try. 

Strict diets usually don’t work and are potentially more damaging to your health and well-being. A health coach will cut through the noise and teach you how to make healthy decisions, one choice at a time.

You don’t have enough time for yourself. 

You feel there are not enough hours in a day and you simply don’t have any time to devote to yourself for self-care, exercise, and cooking. A health coach will help you figure out what you can do to finally take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Because they are all interconnected.

You are stressed out with family and work responsibilities. 

If you suffer from stress or anxiety, a health coach will teach you about the relationship between stress and chronic disease and help get to the bottom of what is causing the stress and anxiety in the first place.

Your family needs to eat better but you aren’t sure how to accomplish that with limited time. 

There are countless messages bombarding us about health and resources from cookbooks, diet books, commercials, restaurants, and products labeled “healthy.” There are conflicting messages on media and social media and you don’t know what is false or real but you do know that you need to improve your and your family’s diet. Maybe you aren’t sure your spouse or kids will be “all-in” with these healthy changes. A health coach can guide your whole family to make the process easier and understandable. And FUN!

You are confused about whether meat, protein, carbs, dairy, produce, or GMO foods are healthy.

Every existing diet seems to profess the complete opposite of every other diet. How do you know what is healthy for you? A health coach will help you determine what foods are healthy for YOU and what will work for YOU.

Nothing has worked before so you continue to have chronic health issues. 

If you suffer from black and white thinking, and you have given up because nothing you have tried before worked. If you are suffering from chronic health issues from blood sugar imbalance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inflammation or arthritis, or any other health issues, you may be able to improve your health quickly through food and nutrition. A health coach can help you wade through the heaps of nutrition research to figure out what is at the root cause of your health issues and how to get well.

You DO know what you need to do, but having trouble staying on track. 

Life happens. Stressful events, parties, holiday’s, a busy schedule. A health coach can help with accountability and advice when you know it is tough for you to handle all life has to throw at you when you are trying hard to create healthy habits and drop the old unhealthy habits.

You want to be a more positive influence on those around you.

Your number 1 priority should be to establish healthy habits for YOU. Through that process, you will inevitably become a positive role model for the people around you. A health coach can help you define what health & wellness is for you and provide you with ways to inspire others along your journey, whether it’s your family, friends, your community, or coworkers.

 

If you are ready to get started on your path to holistic wellness, contact me at naturalhealthyfamily427@gmail.com. I coach in person or over skype. I am excited to work alongside you.

How Ketogenic and Paleo Diets are Killing You

It seems there is a rise in popularity in the Ketogenic and Paleo diets which promote high fat/low carb eating.  It is based on the idea that the cavemen ate mostly meat all day and little to no carbs and starches.

Many people who adopt this lifestyle will initially feel better and possibly lose weight. But is this a false positive? Is this weight loss sustainable for the long term?

People who eat low carb high fat (LCHF) will justify their enjoyment of eating decayed rotting flesh by the movement in numbers they see on the scale.  But did our caveman ancestors actually eat this way? There is an overwhelming amount of research by anthropologists that show that cavemen ate the majority of their calories from starches, in the form of roots, tubers, bulbs, and wild grasses.

Carbohydrates are clean burning fuels, fuels our body prefers to run on, and leave only carbon dioxide and water as waste, which is easily excreted by the lungs and kidneys. On the other hand, flesh is a dirty fuel and leaves urea, ketones, uric acid and other metabolic burdens that stress the liver and lead to gout, kidney stones and other diseases.

When you consume mostly meats and saturated fats it places one in a state of ketosis. When you keep your metabolism in a state of ketosis, which is an emergency state entered into only during times of starvation, you are in a state of low-grade acidosis. Being ketotic day after day, month after month, forces the body to constantly dispose of a heavy acid load. To deal with that acid load, the body will seek support from the calcium in your bones which leads to kidney stones.

Just look to nature. Even true carnivorous mammals don’t eat pounds of flesh every few hours! The health consequences would be quite severe!

The connection between red meat consumption and colon cancer has been well known for years. When you pile your plate with meat, you aren’t leaving room for fiber (plants). We are a nation of fiber deficient people. Without fiber to push the waste through the colon, the rotting flesh is left to linger in the colon for far too long and the toxic waste gets reabsorbed into the blood stream.

It is an overlooked consequence that eating a LCHF diet will alter your gut bacteria. Put simply, plants equal good gut bacteria. Meat equals bad bacteria. That bad bacteria will turn the carnitine in the meat into something called trimethylamine. Your kidney oxidizes that into trimethylamine oxide which is a molecule that drives cholesterol into the artery walls and produces plaque formation in the arteries throughout the body. The kicker is, that even if you look and feel good, this damaging cascade of events could be happening in your body and you will have no idea how unhealthy your arteries are until you have a heart attack.

Those on LCHF diets may even see their cholesterol numbers go down and be encouraged that the diet is working. However, typically those numbers rise back up again. The question to ask instead is, “How healthy are your arteries?” The artery walls are likely being assaulted with atherogenic, oxidized cholesterol particles with every animal-heavy meal, and that will set off a cascade of damaging effects that can lead to blood clots blocking the arteries, heart attacks, stroke, and therefore early death. Flesh-based diets also injure your gut lining and allow food proteins to leak into your bloodstream before they have been broken down enough and will trigger autoimmune diseases.

The bottom line is, this dietary pattern is gaining popularity only because the western industrial meat production is driven by government subsidies which make animal flesh hideously cheap. Folks have been fooled into believing this is a healthy way of eating and the food industries are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of YOUR health.

Aloe

Aloe is gaining popularity these days and for good reason.  It’s long been known that aloe is healing to the skin by alleviating damage done by sunburn, scrapes, bug bites, cuts, and minor burns. But it goes far beyond soothing boo-boos and owies. It is extremely useful in healing inside the body as well.

Inside that prickly, spikey leaf is a true natural plant-based medicinal gel that every medicine kit should have. A plant based medicine kit, of course!

Aloe vera juice vs aloe vera gel

The difference between the gel and juice is where it comes from. Both are beneficial and may come from different parts of the plant, but both bring their own set of healing properties.

Aloe vera juice is produced from the whole leaf or just the inner gel and can be consumed orally as a health remedy. Aloe vera juice has immune boosting properties and digestive stimulating effects.  Reports have shown that aloe vera juice has been used to treat asthma, epilepsy, and even osteoarthritis.

The gel is found inside the leaves. This can be used topically for soothing skin ailments such as sunburns, bug bites, cut and scrapes. You can also put a bit of the gel in your smoothie and consume it take way for healing from the inside out.

Immunity

The sugars in aloe are the healing form of sugar. The white blood cells that make up your immune system operate much more efficiently with certain nutrients, and the polysaccharide sugars in aloe are one of those nutrients. Another boost to the immune system comes from glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that plays an integral role in the development of white blood cells as well as preventing the damage done to other cells well oxidation occurs.  What does that mean? Things like a strong immune system, speedy recovery times, and normal detoxification is increased with sufficient glutathione.

Skin Care

Having the juice or gel on hand is a good idea because it is extremely healing and soothing. It can help reduce redness, help broken skin heal faster with less scarring, and it even works on clearing acne. This is because aloe can provide hydration and antioxidants to promote the body’s healing mechanism.

Digestion

As good as aloe is on the outside, it is just as good on the inside! It has the ability to balance blood sugar, reduce inflammation, repair leaky gut, and ease constipation.

Alkalinity

An acidic body is a body prone to illness because an acidic body is an atmosphere where illness thrives. Aloe can bring your body pH back into balance.

Detoxification

A major detoxifying organ is your liver. Because of the glutathione and the hydration present in aloe, your liver will stay operating efficiently and your body will be able to detox naturally.

Nutrient Boost

Aloe is a source of many minerals your body needs such as:

  • calcium
  • copper
  • chromium
  • sodium
  • selenium
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • manganese
  • zinc

Aloe vera is one of the only plant sources of vitamin B-12, too. This is excellent news for plant-based eaters.

Incorporating aloe into your daily ritual is as easy as adding some to your smoothie every morning, drinking the juice served over ice, and applying some to your skin. You’ll reap the benefits quickly and it sure beats spending top dollar for chemical filled cosmetics and health tonics. The answer comes direct from mother nature.