Oxidative Stress

We hear a lot about antioxidants and oxidative stress these days. For our body to function at its best and healthiest, we need to make sure we neutralize the oxidative damage inside the body.

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to detoxify their harmful effects by using antioxidants to neutralize them.

We need oxygen to live. We obtain energy by burning fuel (the food we digest) with oxygen in a carefully controlled metabolic process. Unfortunately, this process also generates dangerous byproducts, free radicals. Even the simple act of breathing creates free radicals. The problem isn’t the free radicals, though, the problem is not having a strong enough immune system to fight them.

We need to neutralize free radicals, because left to their own devices, they cause a lot of destruction.

Damage caused by free radicals:

  • cancer
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • osteoporosis
  • senility
  • aging

So, as you can see, we need to be sure we are keeping oxidative stress under control. We can do this by reducing our exposure to free radical causing substances, and by eating a diet highly effective at neutralizing those free radicals.

What causes free radical damage:

  • environmental toxins
  • medications
  • alcohol
  • BBQ’d food
  • Meat and cheese
  • Deep fried food
  • Emotional stress
  • Overtraining

Foods that fight oxidative damage:

  • brightly colored fruits and vegetables
  • berries
  • grapes
  • green/white tea
  • herbs/spices
  • certain essential oils

The bottom line is, oxidative stress is a normal byproduct of metabolic functions our bodies go through, but we also need to make sure we are remedying the situation by avoiding over exposure to that which causes an abundance of free radicals and ensuring we load the body with healing foods. An abundance of free radicals, left untreated, causes too much harmful and potentially deadly damage. Since it is so easy to counteract that by eating delicious plant-based nutrition, be sure to load your plate up with health promoting foods!

The Importance of Enzymes for Digestive Health

What is the key to good health? Proper digestion.

How can we dramatically improve our digestion? Enzymes.

Enzymes are complex protein molecules that are manufactured by all plant and animal cells. They are important because they break up large food molecules into smaller units that get absorbed into every cell.

Unfortunately, with the Standard American Diet (SAD) heavy on processed foods and drinks, too many people have poor digestion. Plus, as we age, we become more challenged by various forms of stress, environmental pollution, and emotional issues. This leads to depletion of our body’s natural ability to make enough enzymes to meet our enzymatic needs necessary for optimal digestion. Poor digestion means inadequate nutrient absorption.

You know the saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. It’s more like, “You are what you digest.”

What are the keys to proper digestion? You guessed it…ENZYMES.

Enzymes are necessary for every cell in your body, not just for digestion but for all of your physiological processes. The body needs enzymes to function properly, not just for digestion. Without enzymes, we wouldn’t be able to breathe, swallow, drink, or eat.

Two major categories of enzymes are digestive and metabolic.

Digestive enzymes help you break down food to be absorbed and utilized by every cell in your body. In addition to breaking down food, they help with gut healing, controlling pathogens, and immune support. Since your immune system begins in your gut, if you have digestive and enzyme issues, it is likely your immune system isn’t functioning properly.

Metabolic enzymes help the cells carry out a variety of functions related to reproduction and replenishment. They are involved with running your circulatory, lymphatic, cardiac, neurologic, endocrine, hepatic, and reproductive systems. They also maintain your skin, bone, joint, and muscle health.

Here are just some of the activities in your body that require enzymes:

  • Energy production
  • Absorption of oxygen
  • Fighting infections
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Getting nutrients into your cells
  • Carrying away toxic waste
  • Breaking down fats in your blood
  • Proper hormone regulation
  • Slowing the aging process

Sadly, 90% of the food Americans buy and eat is processed food. That means the American diet is high in cooked, processed, and sugary food. Combine that with the overuse of pharmaceuticals and you have a body that is depleted in its ability to make enzymes. Insufficient enzyme production is at the root of much of the stomach issues plaguing our country.

Enzymes help the body digest and assimilate nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, fats and plant fibers and they assist in all chemical reactions taking place in the body including regeneration of cells and tissues and the elimination of toxic waste products. A healthy immune system depends on enzymes.

That begs the question, do we have an infinite supply of enzymes? The answer is no. We do not.

Our fast-paced lifestyle with a preoccupation with convenience has resulted in overly processed, polluted food-like products, all of which create free radical damage in our body known as accelerated aging.

According to Dr. Edward Howell, the pioneer of Enzyme Therapy, “Enzymes are substances that make life possible. They are needed for every chemical reaction that takes place in the human body. Without enzymes, no activity at all would take place. Neither vitamin, minerals, or hormones can do any work without enzymes.”

Dead foods are devoid of enzymes and place a heavy burden on our body to tap into its enzymatic reserves. It takes a lot of energy for the body to make these enzymes.  Our body will tap into its reserves to break down dead foods, but it can only do so for a limited time, until finally it reaches a point where it gets tapped out and depleted. Since we do not have an unlimited supply of enzymes, it leads to enzymatic failure. Repercussions of enzymatic failure are indigestion, constipation, and inflammation. Inflammation eventually leads to chronic disease and ultimately death.

Yikes!

So where can we get enzymes? How can we make sure we don’t use ours up? Raw foods. Plants.

Raw plant foods (foods not heated above 117 degrees Fahrenheit) are enzymatic rich foods and consuming them decreases your body’s burden to produce its own enzymes. The more foods you can eat raw the better. Ideally, it is suggested that you eat at least 75% of your food raw. When food is heated above 117 degrees, the natural enzymes present are also heated and denatured, meaning they become inactive, making the enzymes ineffective in the digestion process.

The most powerful enzyme-rich foods are those that are sprouted (seeds and legumes). In addition to sprouted foods, papaya, mango, grapes, pineapple, avocado, bee pollen, and raw honey are also rich in enzymes.

The more living foods you eat the more your body can direct its energy into producing metabolic enzymes. You can also lower your body’s demand for producing digestive enzymes by avoiding chewing gum. Chewing gum fools your body into believing it is digesting something, so it pumps out digestive enzymes. Why waste that precious resource?!

Avoid the situation where you are depleted of crucial enzymes. Eat mostly raw foods, as they contain their own enzymes and reduce your body’s need to make its own.

A great way to get an abundant amount of raw foods in your diet is juicing and blending. Fresh pressed juices and smoothies are nutrient rich, healing, and full of essential enzymes.  Beware of bottled juices, though, as they are generally pasteurized to ensure they are shelf stable and to kill harmful bacteria, but by doing so, they are rendered nearly devoid of all enzymes (leaving you with just a sugary caloric beverage). Investing in a juicer is a great option. You can juice your fresh produce and drink it straight away to flood your body with vital nutrients and enzymes. The only thing you are missing with juicing is the fiber, as that is what is removed during the juicing process. This is where blending comes in as a nutritional option. With blending you use the entire plant food, getting the nutrients, enzymes, and the fiber.

Also, you can never go wrong with a huge salad of leafy greens and a variety of veggies!

For juice and smoothie inspiration, check my juices/smoothies tab for delicious recipe ideas!

The Healthiest Sources of Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that is important for the healthy red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body.  Iron’s main purpose is to carry oxygen in the hemoglobin of red blood cells throughout your body so cells can produce energy. Without enough iron, your body would not be able to create enough healthy red blood cells.

The body needs a certain amount of iron for healthy blood cells, but beyond this amount, iron can become dangerous. The access acts as a catalyst for the formation of free radicals. Once this excess iron is absorbed by the digestive tract, the body stores it. Most people accumulate much more than they need. In fact, it is much more common to have too much iron, rather than too little (anemia). The reason for this excess is because of vitamin and mineral supplements containing added iron, excess consumption of red meat, and even iron being added to manufactured foods.

The iron in red meat is a highly absorbable form of iron, called heme iron, contributing to an abundance of iron in the body. Meat also has no fiber and is high in cholesterol. This combination lends itself to excess accumulation of cholesterol in the arteries.

Meat is also high in acid. This acid must be neutralized and is neutralized by the bones, causing bone loss, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. Excess iron overworks and taxes the kidneys and liver which work as filters to bring the body hack to a more alkaline state.

The body has no way to rid itself of excess iron. Iron accumulation to such high levels that produce cancer can be prevented by simply avoiding excess iron in the diet. What are the dangers of excess iron? Cirrhosis, liver cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and bacterial & viral infections.

Iron is present in many plant foods. As a matter of fact, you can get all the iron you need with a whole-foods plant based diet. The iron found in plants is a better choice, because it is enough to promote more adequate levels without encouraging storage above the recommended range.

Though heme iron is more readily absorbed by the body than the non-heme iron found in plants, it comes with a host damaging effects and is not worth the risk. Non-heme iron from plant foods is the healthier option. So how do we maximize absorption of iron from plant foods, and make sure we are getting enough? By consuming vitamin C rich foods. Eating foods like citrus fruits, broccoli, or bell peppers at the same meal as iron rich plant foods can improve absorption.  In contrast, avoid drinking tea or coffee with your meals, as these beverages work to impair the absorption of iron.

Iron rich plant foods include:

  • Dark chocolate
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Blackstrap Molasses
  • Dried fruit
  • Spirulina
  • Whole Grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

How Sugar Consumption Leads to Fatty Liver

In America, it is estimated that 90 million people have fatty liver disease. 17% of them are children! Fatty liver disease used to be associated only with those who consumed too much alcohol. So how is it possible that even non-alcoholics are getting fatty liver disease, especially children!?

The culprit is sugar.

Fructose is the sugar found in everything from high fructose corn syrup and fruit juice to agave and honey and it is harmful when consumed in excess. You may be surprised to learn, that fructose is in many ways very similar to alcohol in the way that it can do damage to the body.

Even if you may be exercising caution by not overconsuming alcoholic beverages, it is now time to take a deeper look at the equally potentially damaging effects associated with the intake of sodas, fruit juices, and other fructose sweetened foods and drinks.

Sugar switches on fat production in your liver. Fructose, the most detrimental sugar which heads directly to your liver, ramps up the production of fat.  Fructose is a main player in the increasing rates of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

What about glucose? Well, unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in your body, fructose can only be metabolized by your liver. Since all fructose gets moved along to your liver, and if you eat a typical Standard American Diet (SAD) and consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol does. It is virtually identical to alcohol in regards to the metabolic havoc it wreaks. Just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy like glucose.

Fatty liver disease occurs when some of those fat molecules accumulate into the liver cells. The presence of those fattened cells lead to inflammation of the liver.

Dr. Robert Lustig published a paper in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and explained three similarities between fructose and alcohol:

  1. Your liver’s metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
  2. Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol.
  3. By “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway’ of the brain both directly and indirectly,” Dr. Lustig noted, “fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol.”

Fructose causes most of the same toxic effects as alcohol because both come from sugar fermentation. They both lead to visceral fat (belly fat), insulin resistance, and metabolic syndrome.

What’s really alarming is the rise in children who have fatty liver disease. When we feed children fructose and other highly toxic substances, we are setting them up for diseases including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even liver transplants.

How do you know if you have a fatty liver? If you eat lots of sugar, refined grains, flour, have a little belly fat, or crave carbs you could possibly have a fatty liver.

Thankfully there are effective strategies to reverse and even prevent fatty liver.

  1. Eliminate all high-fructose corn syrup, even when it comes in the form of “healthy” foods like salad dressings and marinara sauce. There is often times hidden sugars in packaged foods.
  2. Eliminate white, processed, and refined flours.
  3. Incorporate healthy fats into your diet. Things like nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconut oil.
  4. Exercise! Routine, daily exercise improves insulin resistance and reduces fatty liver.
  5. Eat detoxifying and liver supporting foods. Cruciferous vegetable and green leafy vegetables can help heal the liver. Garlic and onions are great detoxifiers as well.

Fatty Liver: How it Starts

  1. Insulin resistance increases fatty acid levels in the blood
  2. Fat accumulates in the liver cells
  3. Fat in liver calls causes inflammation and damages the liver tissue
  4. Further liver damage results in liver fibrosis and cirrhosis (by continual consumption of the SAD)
  5. This damage is linked to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke

We must stop our reliance on convenience foods which are void of nutrition and full of harm inducing toxins. And we absolutely must stop stop stop feeding these foods and drinks to our children! Giving them a bowl of cereal or a muffin for breakfast is akin to giving them a glass of alcohol for breakfast. And no one would do that!

Essential Oils and Your Brain

How do essential oils affect the brain?

Our sense of smell is linked to the limbic areas of the brain, which is the emotional control center. Emotional life is largely housed in the limbic system, and it has a great deal to do with the formation of memories. The limbic system also controls parts of our brain that regulate heart rate, breathing, stress levels, memory, blood pressure, and hormone balance.

When essential oils are inhaled, they travel to the brain. They can have a tremendous impact on both psychological and physiological effects on the limbic system.

Each essential oil has its own therapeutic calming and balancing properties. When we inhale an essential oil, its particles travel through the nasal passage to a receptor neuron that transports it to the limbic brain. Essential oils have the ability to pass the blood/brain barrier to help stabilize DNA and cellular memory. When inhaled through the nose, the essential oil stimulates tiny nerves that transmit a signal to the brain and begin to work on systems that regulate our body and our mind. This can have instant effects as inhaling through the nose is the quickest pathway to the brain.

Researchers found that sesquiterpenes, a natural compound found within the essential oils of patchouli, vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood, and frankincense, help raise oxygen levels in the brain by 28%! An increase in oxygen within the brain can stimulate activity in the limbic system and hypothalamus, which can result in immediate effects on attitude, learning, emotions, and physical processes within the body such as hormone balance, immune function, and energy levels.

Essential oils are also being evaluated for treatment of brain injuries. When the brain sustains an injury, from a mild concussion to a serious head trauma, it takes a lot of time to heal. Frankincense oil can help speed up the process by supporting increased oxygenated blood traveling to the brain. When the brain absorbs more oxygen, it is able to retain and process information, function better and heal optimally.

Diffusing essential oils in a cold air diffuser may have these benefits:

  • Relax the body and mind, relieve tension
  • Help with weight management
  • Improve hormonal balance
  • Relieve headaches
  • Stimulate neurotransmitters
  • Improve concentration, mental clarity, and alertness
  • Stimulate secretion of endorphins

 

When it comes to aromatherapy, you want the highest quality in essential oils. I choose Young Living because they are the world leader in quality essential oils. I love that Young Living owns and operates all their farms. They have high standards for the land they plant on. They won’t even plant a seed on soil that has been chemically treated. They also do their own distillation and bottling. Their hands are in every aspect from SEED to SEAL. Nothing gets outsourced. You can be 100% sure that what you are getting is 100% PURE essential oil.

Get your own starter kit of oils by clicking here.

Dangers of Synthetic Fragrances and Perfumes

The dangers of synthetic scents have proven that everyone, regardless of age, gender, or health, needs to make avoiding fake fragrances a major priority.

About 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil). They include benzene derivatives which are carcinogenic, and many other known toxic chemicals which are linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. Some of the worst toxic ingredients are used in lotions, shampoos, laundry detergents, cleaning products and often listed as on labels as “fragrance.” Many are known or suspected endocrine disruptors. Endocrine disruptors alter hormonal health which can then can trigger weight gain and even set you up for diseases decades down the line. What you do now does have impact on your future.

Avoiding synthetic scents is crucial. When you see the words “fragrance” or “parfum” on a label, they are terms used to mean a concoction of several thousand different ingredients. If you use a product containing those terms, the chemical ingredients in that product are being absorbed directly into your bloodstream.

The dangers of these synthetic scents have been linked to cancer, autism, birth defects, allergies, asthma and other respiratory defects, just to name a few.

The reason why, is because these mixtures of chemicals are known carcinogens, allergens, respiratory irritants, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxic, as well as being bad for our environment.

But we all want to smell good, right? Humans have a sense of smell for a reason. Smell evolved as being vital to survival as it has historically enabled us to track food & water, find a mate, and even communicate. It can even alert us to danger, like smelling a gas leak. But it was the introduction of synthetic chemicals around the 1800s that are so unnecessarily damaging to our body and health.

There are better options for us, thankfully. We can learn to live with less fragrance, for one. But for those times when we do want some fragrance, we don’t have to succumb to synthetic chemicals. Making your own laundry soap, lotion, hand soaps, shampoo, and perfume is as easy as using nature. Essential oils are plant compounds and can be used in making any conventionally fragranced product you use. What is even better is that instead of causing harm to our body, they could even promote good health!

Below are just a few links to some essential oil recipes that solve the problem to the products we want/need without having to rely on synthetics. Is you click through the Essential Oil Recipes tab you will find a long list of ideas on how to incorporate oils into your personal care and cleaning routine,

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Chemical Free Bleach

All-Purpose Cleaner

Fragrance Roller (instead of using perfumes)

Deodorant

Bathroom Scrub Cleaner

Click here for an article explaining essential oils and understanding their benefit.

The Health of Your Pineal Gland

The pineal gland is a small gland located in the center of your brain. It has many functions, but the most noted function is the production of the hormone melatonin.  Melatonin helps maintain circadian rhythm and regulates reproductive hormones.

Other functions of the pineal gland include:

  • Help with depression/SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
  • Prevent/eliminate cancer cells
  • Decrease the influence estrogen has on tumor growth
  • Helps lower blood sugar levels

The pineal gland plays an important role in our overall health, but doctors are finding more and more incidences of calcifying of the pineal gland. When the pineal gland is not able to function at full capacity, we begin to suffer major health problems. Damage to the pineal gland can lead to issues with the digestive system, respiratory system, blood circulation, kidney function, and immune system.

Brain scans have shown that older adults with dementia and Alzheimer’s have heavy calcification of their pineal gland. But what is more troubling, is that even children as young as 2 years old are starting to show signs of calcification, with signs of heavy calcification showing up by the time they are 17!

This proves that the way we are living our lives at a young age can have damaging effects on our future health. How we live and what we eat does matter.

The question is:  What causes this calcification and can we stop/reverse this damage? Thankfully, the answer Is yes.

Common causes are:

  • Fluoride (commonly in tap water, meat, toothpaste, soda, and artificial foods)
  • Food additives/processed foods
  • Environmental toxins
  • Radiation from cell phones
  • Screen time/too much blue light

There are steps we can take to restore the health of our pineal gland, and they are easy to incorporate into your life.

  1. Avoid fluoride! Get fluoride free toothpaste (or better yet make your own!), filter your water, and eat a whole food plant based diet.
  2. Take apple cider vinegar – a “shot” of apple cider vinegar in water with a bit of honey has far reaching effects, including decalcification of your pineal gland.
  3. Diffuse essential oils – lavender, frankincense and pine have been shown to boost the brains ability to decalcify.
  4. Eat foods that aid in detoxifying your body. Lemon, ginger, cilantro, greens and food high in fiber facilitate toxic elimination from your body.
  5. Reduce cell phone usage especially in the hours before bed as the light stimulates the pineal gland to shut down.
  6. Meditate daily – meditation has been shown to stimulate the pineal gland and promote decalcification.

 

How to Make a Chia Egg

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest foods on the planet that are loaded with nutrients that can benefit your body and your brain. A massive amount of nutrients with very few calories. Chia seeds have fiber, beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and a fair amount of B complex vitamins. But they don’t just deliver on just vitamins and minerals, chia seeds are also packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants help the fight against ageing and even some cancers.

Chia seeds are also a complete protein.

Because of the nutrients found in chia seeds they have been shown to help control appetite, improve memory and mood, control sugar cravings, improve skin, hair & nail health, lower cholesterol, and normalize blood pressure.

You can see that chia seeds are a powerhouse! All you have to do is sprinkle them in your diet. Throw some in a smoothie, oatmeal, granola, or your salad. Or like I like to do, replace eggs in a recipe with chia seeds. You get the binding action you are looking for all with the incredible nutritional benefits of chia seeds. (And no, it doesn’t compromise the taste. In fact, I never taste the chia seeds regardless of how I use them)

For 1 egg:

1 tbsp chia seeds

3 tbsp water

  1. Mix chia and water in a small dish and wait a moment. It will turn gelatinous.
  2. Use this mixture in place of an egg in your baked goods.

** For 2 eggs, just double it. For 3 eggs, triple it. **

The Trouble With Gluten

What if I told you that you had an autoimmune disorder or a potentiality to one right now and you don’t even know it?

What if I told you that you had a gut lining that was wrecked and allowing substances to enter into your bloodstream before it was broken down small enough for your body to recognize it and synthesize it appropriately.

Once these substances get into the blood stream, your body perceives them as a threat and your immune system starts attacking. This causes inflammation. If this inflammation doesn’t heal, then it leads to autoimmune disorders.

There are nearly 160 conditions related to gluten causing inflammation. Most might seem, on the surface, that they have nothing to do with the food you are eating. But these recurring “annoyances” you feel are signals from your body. Little messengers letting you know something is not right. While it may be commonplace for the majority of people to not feel well (fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, acne, bloating, depression, obesity, insomnia) they are in no way normal. Our body was not designed to feel that bad. We chalk it up to aging, but aging doesn’t have to be painful and disease-ridden.

So what is the culprit causing this distress in our body? In EVERY body? GLUTEN.

I highly recommend EVERYONE read a book called Autoimmune Fix by Dr. Tom O’Bryan. In his book he states, “The spectrum of autoimmunity is a progressive state of disease that runs from vibrant health at one end to degenerative disease at the other. In between lies a broad range of varied but related stages that build on each other, usually moving in the direction of more disease….The health deterioration can be measured in terms of its intensity by the level of antibodies. Where there is a slight elevation of antibodies, some people may have noticeable symptoms, while others with tremendously high levels of antibodies may have no symptoms at all….We can’t feel when antibodies are killing off our cells in the earlier stages, so there is nothing to alert us to the tissue damage until it progresses to the point where clinical illness is apparent.”

That’s scary stuff! What does gluten have to do with it? Gluten is what causes your gut lining to become permeable, allowing substances to enter the blood stream and cause the inflammation which leads to tissue damage. This tissue damage leads to organ inflammation which leads to organ damage, which is the point you might start feeling symptoms. Organ damage leads to a fully diagnosed disease.

No one should be eating wheat. The human body was not designed to adequately break down and process it. Even if you don’t have an allergy to gluten (celiac disease) you still have a sensitivity to gluten. Dr. O’Bryan explains, “There will be just as much or more inflammation with gluten sensitivity as there is with celiac disease.” So you aren’t home free just because you don’t have celiac disease.

I have never felt this strongly that everyone MUST read a book as I feel with Autoimmune Fix. One tiny bite of gluten containing food and it ignites a fire in your gut that spirals out of control. Stop fanning the flames and get the gluten out.

You must read this book! I have a link here to order it or a link on my homepage. This will be the most important book you read pertaining to your health and the health of your family.