wellness

Keep It Simple, Sunshine!

"Simplicity is gourmet." This is a statement that my dear friend Hilary Boynton said one day that I simply can't get out of my head. Hilary is the author of the "Heal your gut" cookbook and she has a penchant for meeting people, especially folks she calls our "elders," to pick their brains and learn from their wisdom, and, particularly, their culinary wisdom. One day, she connected with a French woman who was over 90 years old and the words "simplicity is gourmet" were uttered. They resonated with Hilary and they resonate with me. 

Far too often we over-think things. We get caught up in the weeds of life. We stretch ourselves beyond our limits. We are exhausted trying to meet the demands of life, and the demands of those around us. How can we keep our sanity amidst the push and pull of the daily grind?

I suggest that the answer may lie in the wise words of the nonagenarian. And, specifically, in the first word of her coined phrase: "Simplicity."

To be honest, I went 'round and 'round as I tried to figure out what to post today. I was definitely over-thinking it and my anxiety rose as the new month commenced and I started to feel pressure. What would I tell my friends about health and wellness? I started to get tied up in knots, which was leading to some unhappiness and stress. But then I remembered the old moniker: K.I.S.S. Keep it simple, Sunshine! (Okay, I've taken some liberties with the last word of the phrase, but I find it's friendlier that way!)

A light bulb went off as a I realized that the best tips are the ones that are simply bringing me joy and helping me manage my oh-so-crazy life. And I'm going to use the acronym to help you (and me) keep it all straight.

Keep it simple - (See what I did there?) Just focus on food, real food, I mean. There are so many trends out there for getting that perfect "beach body." Fuggedaboutit! If you have a body you can get on a beach. Scales are for fish...and no body's perfect, literally! Simply stay the course by focusing on eating food that nourishes and not just filling up with whatever junk food (there's a reason they call it that) that is handy or appealing in the moment. And if you "slip up," don't beat yourself up. That only adds insult to injury, just keep pressing on. Go to farmers markets, Trader Joe's; connect with friends who care about where their food comes from. Fuel your body to the best of your ability (financially and otherwise) and let the other stuff go. A singular focus can help you achieve your health goals. 

Initiate - Consider well how you choose to start your day. Do you immediately get on your phone? Read the paper? Check emails? Maybe you are roused by a little one who wet the bed. Or the alarm reminds you that you have an early meeting. Not everything is under your control, but to the extent it is possible, make an effort to get some quiet, meditative time without the newspaper, without my computer. I take space, I make space to breathe. The world can wait. So let it do so. 

Sleep - Scientists are finding more and more that sleep plays a critical role in our wellness. It's the time our brains "take out the trash" of all of the stressors and pressures of the day! So do not shortchange yourself on this piece. (I am talking to myself, too! This has often been a weak spot for me.) If you have a lot of work to do, rather than working on it late at night, stop at a decent hour and pick it back up again in the morning. It will still be there, and you can face it with a fresh(er) perspective, when you'll be more focused and less likely to make mistakes, too! (For more on this, check out one of my early podcast episodes with Sandra Van Gilder, "The myths and truths of sleep and exercise.")

Sunshine - I am convinced of the benefits of early morning light. It helps set the tone for the day and gets your circadian rhythm in proper sync. So I combine "Initiate" and "Sunshine." That is, I get outside as early as possible to walk my dog. I don't take my phone, so that my mind and heart can be free to sing, pray, absorb what's going on around me, and just be present. 

Me and Summer, post-walk this morning. (And me w/o makeup too---another way to keep life simple!)

Me and Summer, post-walk this morning. (And me w/o makeup too---another way to keep life simple!)

So, that's it! In an effort to K.I.S.S. this post, I am stopping right here. I believe if we apply these simple hacks to our lives, we'll have a happy, healthy summer (and autumn, winter, and spring, too)! 

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a podcast professional who helps holistic health practitioners launch their own shows! She is also the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast, sponsored by the Weston A. Price Foundation for wise traditions in food, farming, and the healing arts. She is an integrative nutrition health coach, a fitness professional, and the DC Metro Regional Director for Body & Soul Fitness. She lives in D.C. with her husband, Mitch, their children, and their cat and dog.

Peru...at present

Peru...at present

In Quechua, there is no past. There is no future either. This concept took a while to sink in for me, but once it did, it gave me a better idea of how we should live...today.

Low on energy? Here's how to recharge!

It’s mid-afternoon and you’re grabbing your third cup of joe. Sometimes it seems like you are running on fumes. Is it insufficient sleep that is making you so fatigued? Stress from an overwhelming amount of work in the office or at home? Tension with a family member that's worrying you? Maybe it’s all of the above! How can you replenish your energy naturally? I met a scientist who contends that water has everything to do with our energy levels and our overall health and vitality, but, he is decidedly not referring simply to our hydration level, nor is he advocating the old eight-glasses-a-day guideline. Dr. Gerald Pollack, a leading scientist and researcher from the University of Washington, believes our health is linked to the water in our bodies and he believes that this water is actually present in our bodies in a fourth phase, known as EZ or exclusion zone water. In contrast with regular water, H2O, which is electrically neutral, EZ water, H3O2, holds a negative charge. It is a sort of internal battery that must continually be recharged/built up to keep us running efficiently.

According to Jerry, we need to look for ways to get more negative charges from the world around us to create positive energy in our bodies! The goal is to continually build the EZ water up and maintain ample stores for optimal health. Jerry has several specific recommendations for doing this:

  • Soak up the sun! Sit in an infrared sauna! Infrared energy is all around us. Capitalize on it! Our muscles are soothed and we feel energized from infrared energy. It penetrates our bodies and builds the EZ water which helps our bodies function properly. The negative charge is replenished by infrared light.
  • Grounding” or “earthing” allows the negative charge from the earth to transfer to our bodies. This practice involves taking your shoes off and allowing your bare feet to connect with the ground. Sit in the park with your bare feet on the grass. Walk on a beach barefoot. Get your feet dirty in your garden soil. This, too, builds our EZ water stores.
Sand and surf is good for the soul!

Sand and surf is good for the soul!

  • Oxygenate! As its EZ water's H3O2 chemical formula indicates, it has more oxygen. Try hyperbaric oxygen therapy! It was first used by the military to treat wounds that wouldn’t heal. Jerry has conducted lab experiments that indicate that changing barometric pressure through adding pressure and oxygen builds EZ water, improving the function of every organ in thebody and promoting healing.
  • Aspirin is not just for headaches. Since aspirin effectively treats many kinds of pain relief affecting a number of the body’s organs, the hypothesis was that aspirin builds EZ water throughout the body.  Jerry said that laboratory tests have confirmed this hypothesis. Aspirin apparently helps the body maintain its negative charge. (For those wary of aspirin, Jerry reminds us that the chemical that aspirin’s roots trace back to willow bark.)
  • Drink more water. If negative charge comes from the water in our body, and if the cells in an individual’s body lack sufficient negative charge, that body must have insufficient water. This is why drinking water is important as a tool to replenish our stores. However, the water that comes out of our taps doesn’t have a lot of negative charge. You can get more negatively-charged water from spring water or through water that has been through a reverse osmosis process.
  • Eat more blueberries! Blueberries, kombucha, and artichokes are good sources of anti-oxidants. How are anti-oxidants helpful? Oxidants remove negative charge. So, anti-oxidants are good for us because they prevent the loss of that negative charge.

I’m just scratching the surface of all Jerry shared with me. If you want to learn more, listen to the interview here, on Wise Traditions podcast #67 “Negative charge creates positive energy.” The bottom line is that our bodies are negatively charged, and they require the negative charge that comes from this EZ water for good health. We must build up and maintain sufficient stores to enjoy vitality and well-being. To get that positive energy, look for ways to replenish that negative charge. It is critical for life.

***

Hilda Labrada Gore, a long-time DC resident, is an Integrative Nutrition health coach and fitness professional. She is the host and producer of the Wise Traditions podcast. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, Apple podcasts, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Overcast, Google Play Music, tunein, and at westonaprice.org. Basically, you can find it wherever you get your podcasts!

Finally...New Year's resolutions that will AMP you up!

We are only about two weeks into the new year and yet a bunch of us have already broken some of our new year’s resolutions and determinations. Yup, me included. One of my resolutions this year was identical to last year: get to bed before midnight. (I am a health coach, but like everyone else, I have my stumbling blocks.) It's always been a struggle for me, as I'm a night owl by disposition and I end up suddenly inspired at 11:00 p.m. and so I get on the computer and one thing leads to another and I'm hitting the hay well after the clock strikes twelve! So, yeah, I’m pretty sure I broke this resolution on night two. I know I'm not alone. Our resolutions, and subsequent struggles to keep them, can humble and discourage us. If you’re in this boat, then, like me, you are tired of the cycle and ready to bust out of it.

That’s why I’m excited to give you some ideas of things we can to do to improve our health that are much easier to keep. Most resolutions have to do with diet and exercise--these do not! As a matter of fact, these are not just ideas or fads that are here today and gone tomorrow. These are principles to live by. I've already been slowly but surely adopting them into my lifestyle and I am the better for it. I bet you'll be able to do the same with very little striving and strain!

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Processed with VSCO with x1 preset

There’s no denying I’m amped about these simple concepts. Ben Greenfield is the former bodybuilder who pumped me up about them! He is strong, passionate, and enthusiastic---a triathlete, and a health coach for elite athletes. I expected our conversation to focus on how to improve our diet and sculpt our bodies for their maximum potential. Instead, he surprised me by wanting to talk about “the invisible variables that affect our health.”  (To hear the entire conversation, check out “Beyond food” Episode 57 of the Wise Traditions podcast!)

Here are the four simple areas we discussed that have been transformative and encouraging to me. On each point, I share action steps for incorporating these into my life.

Air – Obvi. Air is critical to life! How can we improve the quality of the air we breathe in? We need to go where it is! Indoor air is often stale, recirculated, and sometimes toxic (from furniture off-gassing, cleaning products, etc.). We've got to take time and make time to get outside to breathe in the good stuff! Most outside air is an improvement on indoor air. If the schedule doesn't permit getting out, we need to buy some detoxing plants or a HEPA filter to improve the atmosphere indoors. Action: I get outside daily (walking from my house to the car or from my car to the office doesn't count). I have bought plants to improve my indoor air quality.

Music – Ben played the ocarina when we were together, since he was traveling and space in his luggage would not accommodate his ukulele. Why did he bother? He’d never even played the ocarina before! He recognizes the power of music. Science is confirming what humans have intuitively known for millennia: music soothes the savage breast. Something is stirred within our spirits when we experience music. It relieves stress and even brings healing! Action: I play the guitar a couple of times a week. I sing in church.

Posture – We can eat a super clean diet, but still be stressing our body by the way we carry ourselves. Just like a car’s tires need to be aligned and balanced, our body does, as well. For organs and cells to work properly, let’s avoid unnecessarily “squishing” them, as if they were a wool coat stuffed into the drawer of a nightstand. Action: I sit up straight in the pew in church or in meetings. I take regular breaks when working (anything to avoid the constant 90° sitting position)!

Sunshine – Where to begin, in my ode to the sun? At the top of the list is the natural vitamin D that it gives us! Scientists point to vitamin D deficiency as a possible cause of the many diseases plaguing us today! Sunshine helps our circadian rhythms stay in sync, which improves the quality of our sleep. It boosts the immune system and our mood! Action: When I go out daily (see action step for "Air"), I get the added benefit of soaking in 15-20 minutes of sunshine! (And I'm not letting the cold weather stop me--the little shock is good for my lymphatic system! And at least my face and hands are exposed to the sun's healing effects!)

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That’s it! Talk about an easy-peasy list, right? Consider these resolutions a way of life. I know I do. I consider them a way to AMP up my health this 2017! Hope you get AMPed too! Let me know how it goes and which of the above is your favorite!

***

Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and fitness professional. She is the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation and is the Wise Traditions podcast host. Wise Traditions can be found on YouTube, iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google Play Music and at westonaprice.org.

Nutrient density: the best way to fuel your body

I was once one of those people who needed to eat every few hours. If I didn't, I would feel suddenly weak and dizzy, as if I were an iphone whose battery precipitously dropped from 83% to 2%. Mid-workout, I would grab an energy bar to power up again. In my worst moments, I would become shaky and sweaty, like someone detoxing from alcohol. It wasn't a pretty picture. I eventually stumbled upon the term “hypoglycemia” and determined that I simply needed to eat more frequently. It never occurred to me to look closely at what exactly I was eating. What was the composition of my diet exactly and could it have been a factor in my condition? In the 1930s, Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist and a researcher, became curious about what contributed to good health. Thankfully, he did carefully examine and compare various diets to determine the factors at play in the best diets. He looked at the nutritional content of traditional foods and compared it with the so-called modern foods of his time (those sold at shops and comprised of refined flours, sugars, etc.) He found that traditional diets had 4x the minerals and water-soluble vitamins and 10x the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K. The bottom line? Modern diets often were (and still are) woefully inadequate in critical nutrients.

Whether we currently have any health concerns or not, it’s clearly time to ask ourselves some important questions, starting with: what the heck are we eating?! Are we simply satisfying our hunger with whatever happens to be close to our “pie hole,” or are we looking to build our bodies in better ways? I don’t mean “build” in a muscle-building fat-burning machine way, although some may have that goal. I mean, are we giving our bodies the fuel they need to thrive? Better nutrition translates into more energy, less fatigue. There’s easier brain function/more brain power, greater ease of movement/strength to take on physical tasks. Do you want this for yourself, for your family? Who doesn't, right?!

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Sally Fallon Morell takes Dr. Price’s findings and helps us figure out how to apply them in the day-to-day. She seriously sheds light on how to get the biggest bang for your buck out of every bite. (I may be mixing metaphors here, but you get what I'm saying!) Click here to listen to episode #30 entitled “Nutrient density.” In it, Sally touches on:

- how even those who think they’re eating “healthy” may still not be getting all of the vitamins and minerals they need - the foods that offer the fat-soluble vitamins that are critical for our brain and body function (in organ meats, fish eggs, egg yolks, cheese, for example) - the symptoms of fat-soluble vitamin-deficiency (including depression and anxiety) - the dangers of a diet high in lean proteins (without sufficient fat) - the fats that are implicated in heart disease (hint: not the saturated fats) - how vitamins A, D, and K are a triumvirate: how they work together and should be in balance - why she questions the USDA’s definition of “nutrient density” (Hint: they call vegetables nutrient dense, but they count it per calorie, and many vegetables are low in calories. This means that you’d have to eat copious amounts of broccoli, for example, to get the same amount of vitamins or minerals you’d get from a spoonful of liver.) - how Dr. Price, through improved nutrition, improved the health and behavior of  some orphans - how to tweak your diet to improve not only your physical health but your mental health; how to increase optimism - the one simple thing you can do to make a noticeable difference in your health, even if you do nothing else

I'm convinced that nutrient density (principle #3) is key to wellness. (For the entire list of "characteristics of traditional diets" click here.) I've been tweaking my diet over the years to align with the Wise Traditions diet and guess what?! All symptoms of hypoglycemia have resolved. Better still, I have no serious health concerns. I have sustained energy for the physical and mental tasks I want to complete. My body and mind feel strong and good.

What about you? Are you willing to try some of the foods rich in fat-soluble vitamins? What can you add to your diet to help your body thrive? Please comment below if you take even one small step in the nutrient-dense direction. I'm eager to hear what difference it makes for you!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

Chewing the fat with Chris Masterjohn

In the movie, "Little Miss Sunshine" Steve Carrell's character, Frank, pointedly yells at his niece, "Fat makes you fat." He was trying to shame the young girl into changing her order at a diner. For decades, the U.S. government was sending Americans the same message--warning us to steer clear of fat, and practically shaming us for craving it. They said it was linked to heart disease. So the public heeded the warning, but health issues--obesity, chronic conditions, and, yes, heart disease--continued to rise despite compliance with the recommendations. In recent years, the government and even the conventional medical community has begun to pivot, actually recommending that we eat fats for our well-being. But which are the best fats? And how much should we be eating?

Enter Chris Masterjohn, assistant professor of Health and Nutrition Sciences at Brooklyn College in New York. Chris has a  PhD in Nutritional Sciences and is a brilliant person to discuss such a topic. And so we did, on the Wise Traditions podcast. Yes, we chewed the fat...about fat! Give a listen to episode #28: Fat does a body good.

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Here are some of the things you'll learn.

  • how fat helps your body run
  • moving from fear of fat toward freedom
  • how to eat to fuel your body's needs
  • how to figure out what diet (and percentage of fat) will work best for your particular body
  • what sources of fats have been eaten over the course of human history
  • how our diet has shifted away from animal fats to oils like soybean, canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, and cottonseed
  • how this shift may be the cause of many of modern diseases
  • the difference between saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated fats
  • the definition of essential fatty acids
  • the role of cholesterol (and what numbers could be a red flag)
  • a recommendation for a certain type of health care practitioner

Chris concluded our conversation with a surprising suggestion for what to do to achieve optimal health. (To learn more from Chris, check out "The Daily Lipid"  or follow him on social media @chrismasterjohn.)

As we wrapped up our talk, I walked away with some new insights and with a conviction that was stronger than ever:  fat does many things for us, but it most certainly does NOT make us fat, no matter what the movies (or other media) may tell us!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation.

The Biggest Loser...but in real life!

On the t.v. show "The Biggest Loser," people lose drastic amounts of weight in dramatic fashion, only to gain it back when they are off the air and the cameras are gone. Dramatic is the right word for it. It is a t.v. show, made to entertain. Those who produce it are interested in ratings, certainly not in the health of the participants. They "help" them lose weight, all right, but in all the wrong ways for all of the wrong reasons. But contestants sign up to be on the show, nonetheless, grasping at the slim hope that they might become slim, in actuality. It's easy to understand their desperation. Richard Morris could certainly relate. For him, walking to work was akin to hiking Mount Everest. He would huff and puff and sweat up a storm and it was only a few blocks away from his place in New York City! He was in terrible shape. No surprise. The man weighed over 400 lbs. Dieting? Hed been there, done that....in his own words, "a million and one" times. The only thing they were good for was packing on the pounds (after some initial unsustainable weight loss).

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Richard was pre-diabetic and struggling with asthma and high blood pressure. Every day he woke up asking himself, "Is today the day I die?"

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This is Richard today. Yes, as you can ascertain, he has undergone a complete transformation! He is in excellent shape, as are his wife and two daughters. He works a job and runs a family farm. And in his spare time, he runs spartan races!

Be inspired by his story in this half-hour episode entitled A life unburdened.

What You’ll Learn

  • How Richard gained so much weight in the first place
  • The role his family's poverty played in their food choices when he was growing up
  • What diets he tried and why they failed him
  • Richard's a-ha moment that led him to leave dieting behind
  • What first steps he took to rid his home of processed foods
  • What foods they bought (and where they bought them) as they switched to eating real food
  • What happened when he flirted (briefly) with the idea of eating the old way
  • How the Weston A. Price Foundation resources played a part in his transformation
  • The role of cooking in his life
  • How his daughter's early puberty was reversed through real food
  •  How he got into obstacle course racing

Links & Resources

About Richard Morris

Richard Morris worked in IT, but now lives a life that is drastically different. Richard lives in Virginia, running his farm, running spartan races and running in the human race, in brave and new ways!

If you enjoy the podcast episode, please share it on FB or Twitter. And leave Wise Traditions a review on iTunes which gives important stories like Richard's a broader platform!

Dieting is like dating bad boys

“Every diet that has been marketed to us since the beginning is just the same nasty betraying boyfriend with a different face. And when it fails, the boyfriend (a/k/a diet) looks at you and says ‘Oh, it’s your fault. There’s something wrong with you!’” I have been a foodie and a health coach for years, but this is the first time I have ever heard anyone liken dieting to dating bad boys. Adrienne Hew is like that, though. She is a nutritionist who speaks her mind and what comes out is often outlandish and provocative. Not surprisingly, she is known as the “nutrition heretic.” She is not a bespectacled preach-y uptight kind of nutritionist who wags her finger at you when you eat a morsel of some forbidden food. Nope, Adrienne is the exact opposite. She has an easy laugh, a non-judgmental spirit, and she makes you think, rather than feel like you need to slink away.

A diet like a bad boyfriend? When that idea came up during our recent podcast discussion, it got me thinking. And the more I thought about it, the more I could see the parallels between dieting and dating.

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Stage 1: Infatuation. The flirting commences. You hear about him. You google him. Butterflies are starting to take flight. You consider the possibilities. You’re excited, enticed. This one has potential to be THE one.

Stage 2: Dating. You’re holding hands. You are willing to put up with his “quirks” in the hope that it all pan out. You are telling people about him, as you pass on the bread basket at the restaurant. You are trying to convince yourself that your fatigue has to do with work and not with the relationship wearing thin (no pun intended).

Stage 3: Going steady. Reality hits like a splash of (zero-calorie!) cold water. You’re giving it a try, but this is trying you. It’s not half as fun as it seemed at the start. You feel like you’re dying. This is the opposite of what you imagined. Straight up, it is a pain, and is very unrewarding.

Stage 4: The breakup. You hate to admit it, but the time has come. It's over. This relationship is going nowhere. It was super promising at first, but the end result was that every. single. promise. was broken and now you’re left holding the bag (of low-fat “natural” chips). You’re embarrassed that it didn’t work out and secretly wonder if it was your own fault (as he said, when he walked out the door). You’re feel like if you had only tried harder, or a bit longer, maybe things would have ended differently.

Can you identify with any of this? If so, click here to listen to A fresh take on real food. Adrienne has simple, practical ideas for checking out of diet "heartbreak hotel." It's time to have a steady, wonderful relationship with food, leaving the bad boys in the dust (under the refrigerator).

One more present for you...

Just when you thought you had everything unwrapped, there’s one more present for you: the Wise Traditions podcast! WAPF favicon

The podcast is wrapped up in brown paper (and tied up with string) on its way to us all in just a few days! If we could track it with an app, it would appear as saying "shipped." Now we're awaiting delivery from the iTunes truck!

This podcast is going to be a wonderful topper to all the gifts you received this past holiday season. And it's going to be one that you will come back to again and again. You are simply, absolutely,  unequivocally going to LOVE it!

You'll get three episodes right off the bat---an interview with the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Sally Fallon Morell. She talks about the foundation's core principles and why they are so committed to educating the public about the healthy traditions of our ancestors.  We also talk to farmer and veterinarian Will Winter. He has a brilliant mind, and a straight-forward way of talking that makes the most complicated matters related to life and health (and climate change) sound simple! And finally, we talk to Dr. Tom Cowan, a holistic doctor who wraps up the interview by saying "Don't believe me. Don't believe anybody!" Talk about unconventional!

All three of these episodes will be available as soon as the podcast arrives and, thereafter, 30-minute podcast episodes will be released once a week. You will be able to find them on iTunes (search for "Wise Traditions" under "Podcasts") and on the westonaprice.org website (click on "New! Podcast" on the side bar). Each episode will be entertaining, informative, and helpful. And, of course, you will be able to share them at the click of a mouse.

I simply can’t WAIT for you to check out these episodes and all those that follow. The minute they go "live" you will know. I will post about it here and you will see social media light up with excerpts, pictures, and more!

Hooray for an extra little present that is one-size-fits-all! And here's to a happy and healthy 2016 for all of us!

What nourishment can do in a world of terror, mass shootings, and suicide

With the latest headlines coursing through my mind, how could I possibly continue to merrily write posts about food and farmers and health? Am I just sticking my head in the sand (or in the fridge) when I write about such things, when chaos abounds in our world right now? I know of a young 16 year-old in Maryland who recently took her own life. There were mass shootings this past week in Georgia and California. And, in Paris, Nigeria, and too many countries to count, people are reeling from recent terrorist attacks. Many respond to the sadness and turmoil by calling for legislative change and stricter gun control laws, advocating for help for the mentally ill, and reaching out with thoughts and prayers. All of these reactions are fitting and appropriate (despite blog posts to the contrary). But how does nutrition fit into this scene? Is a health blog relevant at all? Is it simply entertainment? What part can nourishment play in this world of terror, mass shootings and suicide?

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I submit that it is part of the solution, not a sidebar, not a pleasant indulgent distraction nor a pie-in-the-sky hope.  I see promoting nourishment as a critical preventative piece of the puzzle.

When we are truly nourished, I mean, all the way deep down to our bones, we are content, satisfied, tranquil, peaceful. We can respond to aggravations and irritations around us with equanimity. We are less likely to be flustered, worried, anxious, and unhappy.

Notice that I said "less likely." Of course, I'm not suggesting that we will never be disgruntled or worried; I'm simply saying that true nourishment brings us a settled, grounded feeling most of the time. Think about the term "hangry." It comes from that irritated, agitated state that leads us to react poorly when we've gone too long between meals. You've been there. I've been there. We lash out at the slightest provocation; we feel "off" and on edge.

Now imagine a person feeling that way most of the time. (I'm not talking about the hungry in developing countries right now. Clearly, they are underfed and often malnourished, simply hungry and not "hangry." It is important to look for ways to make sure they are nourished, of course.) Right now, today, I'm addressing those here in the U.S., who are overfed and undernourished.

The person who is undernourished, is chronically "hangry," i.e. irritable, volatile, and more likely to be aggressive and dangerous. I'm not making this up. I heard an NPR program about a school in inner city Chicago that had major behavioral and discipline problems. They changed nothing but the food available at lunch time and behavioral issues diminished significantly.

Certainly nutrient-dense food can change our mood and disposition. But what about the person who is mentally unstable or depressed--can it help them, too? Studies have shown that a changed diet can be as effective as medication, if not more so. And, of course, nourishment of the spirit is as critical as nourishment for the body. Sharing a meal around a table meets our deepest needs for community and connection. Seeking help and hope from faith and friends goes far in giving us a sense of purpose and contentment.

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All this to say, we must pay attention not only to what is happening "out there" but to what is happening "in here," inside ourselves. How are we being nourished on the deepest levels? Are we being nourished on the deepest levels?

With all of the insanity swirling around us, let us not discount the role of nourishment--physical and spiritual--in addressing this world's turmoil, and our very own. The fix may be much closer to home than we realize. It may even be as close as our kitchen table.

 

 

There's chips involved... Yeah, I feel guilty.

"There's chips involved.... Yeah, I feel guilty," Jane laughed nervously. This was Jane's reply when I asked her about her current diet. Jane is a 29 year-old professional in the city, so it's not surprising that she's pressed for time and that her diet isn't stellar. But, get this. Jane isn't American. She's a Kenyan, from the Kikuyu tribe, living and working in Nairobi. IMG_2753

Yes, professionals in Kenya face the same challenges we do here in the States. Like us, they have far too much to do and too little time to do it in. They are rushed and often grab whatever is available, convenient, or "cool" when they need energy or sustenance. It's a more hurried, harried life compared to the one in the village. And the food is very different, too.

"I have lived in both worlds," Jane said. I was intrigued and asked her questions to find out more.

  • IMG_4938on her childhood

I grew up partially in a village with my grandmother.

  • on what she ate

Mostly healthy, vegetables from the farm. Sorghum. Ugali. We would eat fermented porridge. And then we would also eat, rather drink, milk from the cow, because she used to have a cow.

  •  on her health as a child

Very healthy, because I would rarely go to the hospital. I don’t remember falling sick, as such. Maybe flu or a cough, but nothing too major. To me, it’s the lifestyle I was living at that time, as compared to now, I’m in the city.

  • on her current diet

There’s chips involved. There’s burger. Rice. Lots of rice. Lots of meat, sometimes soda. Yeah, I feel guilty. A lot of cake, unhealthy snacks, mostly.

  • comparing the health of those in the village and those in the city

I would say the city people, per se, we are not as healthy as people in the village. It is so clear when you go to visit them. Someone who’s my age, because they are working, they are walking, they are eating those greens from the farm, they are taking milk from the cow. They look much stronger than I do.

Even my mom would go like, “That tummy needs to go, obviously.” You know, because she is more active and eating healthier, I do believe, better than I do.

  • on what's "cool"

For most of us, actually, we think it’s cool to be seen somewhere at KFC or Pizza Inn. Like [with ]a big pizza or coca cola. But, no, it’s not. Like I said, I know from both worlds which one is cooler....

  • her response to our presIMG_2719entation on nourishing, traditional foods

To me it was a wake-up call. Like, yeah, the village people are not wrong. That’s the way it should be because I have seen the difference because I have lived in both worlds. In the village and now in the city. So, to me, I could relate so much so because I have seen it both ways.

It’s true. I’ve lived it. Eating the natural foods, and now where I am just walking to a fast food place and get whatever.

I don’t want to [die fast], so I have to start, like, recollecting to making decisions to go for the natural foods, for sure.


Are you like Jane, eating chips and feeling guilty? Living a fast-paced life with little space for "slow food?" You're not alone. Let's help each other to do as she suggested, and "recollect" to make decisions for the natural foods. For sure.

Wake up, Drink up!

Today's "guest post" is by blogger Megan Weber, from Nourishing Eden. She is a young woman who had some serious health issues about four years ago and who decided to pursue "holistic" avenues for healing. (Click on her blog link for more about Megan.) She actually has several psychology degrees (maybe she can figure me out sometime!) but is also obviously passionate about health and nutrition. I came across her "Wake up, drink up" post and was inspired to try some of her tips. I love lemon water, for example, but don't usually drink it first thing. See her thoughts below and let me know if you decide to try any of her ideas yourself! waterAfter a long (hopefully) night’s sleep, the first thing you should do in the morning is drink water. Your body needs to be fully hydrated in order for it to work properly. While plain water is a good choice, H2O with an added kick can help you reap some pretty impressive benefits. Here are my five favorite water add-ins to jump-start your morning:

Drink each of these on an empty stomach, at least one hour before eating breakfast for greatest benefits.

LEMON

If you haven’t heard already, drinking lemon water is amazing for your body! It helps jump start your digestion in the morning and aids in the detoxification process. Lemon water is a great source of vitamins and minerals, especially Calcium, Potassium and vitamin C. The vitamin C in lemons helps keep your immune system and you illness free!

Lemon water also helps you maintain a proper pH in your body. Lemons are naturally acidic, but when ingested actually help alkalinize your body. A more alkaline than acidic body has been shown to lower your changes of illness and disease.

Want beautiful skin? This drink will make your skin glow, clearing up your acne and keeping skin supple and wrinkle free.

How-To: Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a cup of warm or room temperature water. Drink this one with a straw to avoid acid damage to your teeth.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR

This one is definitely not for the faint of heart. I have gotten used to the taste over time, but it can be a bit much for some people to get down.  The benefits are totally worth it though.

Apple cider vinegar is rich in malic acid, which has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. It can break up mucus in your body and clean out the lymph system. Feel like you may be getting sick? If you have the sniffles, sore throat or a cough, this stuff can literally knock it out, getting you back on the fast-track to wellness.

Just like the lemon water, this ACV has an alkalinizing effect on the body. It can also help regulate glucose levels, blood pressure and even reduce bad cholesterol.

ACV is great for digestion. It helps to clean out your intestines, reduces gas, bloating and acid reflux.

This power drink may also have the potential to aid in weight loss! Helping your body use fats more efficiently for energy, instead of storing them.

How-To: Be sure to use an unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar, such as Braggs. It should contain “the mother,” which is the cloudy bits floating at the bottom. Use 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon ACV in a cup of warm or room temperature water.

 SOLE

Sole is essentially a solution of concentrated salt water. Salt has been villainized by the medical field, but it is actually really important to help your body run properly. Use a high quality salt such as Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt.

Sole helps to re-hydrate your body, balancing out your electrolytes. It actually helps your cells absorb more water into your system then drinking plain H2O.

Just like the others, this drink helps to detoxify your body. Good sea salt actually has antibacterial properties, flushing out the bad bacteria.

This works great as a natural anti-histamine for your allergies.

Natural salts have several essential minerals in them that keep your bones strong and helps prevent muscle cramps.  It can also balance out your blood pressure and blood sugar levels

How-To: Use a glass jar. Fill with water (filtered preferred). Pour is a handful of Pink Himalayan or Celtic Sea Salt. (DO NOT use regular table salt!) Let water absorb salt. Check on water. If there is no salt settled at the bottom add more salt and let sit. Continue to check.   When salt is left at the bottom of the jar, the water is fully saturated and cannot absorb any more salt. Mix 1-1½ teaspoon of the salt solution in a cup of warm or room temperature water.   Water should be slightly salty, but not overly so. Note: Some people say using metal with this solution makes it less potent. Use plastic utensils to be safe.

BENTONITE CLAY

I know what you’re thinking, “You want me to drink clay?” Clay has amazing detoxifying properties. It has the ability to draw out toxins and heavy metals from your body. If you are feeling sick, achy or especially toxic in the morning, use this drink. It is said that bentonite clay has a naturally negative charge and most toxins and metals have a positive charge, thus pulling them to the clay to be safely removed from the body, as your body does not absorb the clay.

This drink can also relieve digestive complaints such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, IBS and nausea.

How-To: Use ½-2 teaspoons clay mixed in a cup of warm or room temperature water (start with a small amount and work your way up). I use this clay, that has already been mixed with water. I would not recommend taking this every day. Use for up to a week, then take a break for awhile before using again. Note: because of its ability to absorb metal, do not mix with metal spoon, instead use plastic. Also, do not take 2 hours before or after taking medications as it could render them useless or less effective.

GINGER

Ginger tea is great for relieving nausea or other digestive complaints. This is my go-to whenever I have a stomachache. Ginger actually helps to improve digestion and helps your body absorb nutrients from food better.

Ginger is an anti-inflammatory. It can relieve muscle and joint pain throughout the body.

This spice also has the ability to increase circulation throughout the body. It has even been said to prevent fats from sticking to and clogging your arteries.

Ginger is full of antioxidants, keeping your immune system in tip-top shape and preventing free radicals from running havoc on your body. It may even be able to prevent cancer.

How-To: Cut a couple of slices of ginger root and let steep in a cup of hot water for 5+ minutes, you can also use a tea bag that contains only ginger (such as traditional medicinals) if you prefer.

Start your morning off right by getting hydrated. Let me know what benefits you have seen from trying these powerful elixirs.

Five tips for a healthier mind and a happier heart

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a blog post about how to cultivate a healthy mind and happy heart! This is Thinking about thinking, Part II. You know that moment when you are driving to the boonies and your favorite radio station becomes more faint? Suddenly your song gets mashed up with a sports talk show. The music becomes garbled and static starts to set your teeth on edge. Our minds are a lot like that radio station. Static can interfere with the normal, beautiful music of life. Worries creep in. Anger. Resentment. Guilt. Obsessive or depressing thoughts. It could be a particular relationship that is fraught with tension, or a work or health issue that is apparently unresolvable. How do we avoid wallowing on thoughts that interfere with a peaceful, happy heart and a positive outlook? How do we fill our minds with good things?

  1. Guard your heart. We want to avoid getting that static in our heads in the first place. We need to protect our hearts from thoughts that drag us down (or move us in the wrong direction). This is why I won’t be going to see “Fifty shades of grey” this weekend. Images are powerful and difficult to erase. I like to eat the best food to fuel my body. Why would I want to let sordid images pollute my mind?    heartgate  Guarding my heart means being careful what I expose myself to. If/when I am tempted to go down a path that is unhelpful, I recruit “back up” guards: friends or family whom I can turn to for support and strength. Or I look for healthier, uplifting alternatives—exercise, an inspiring book or movie, connecting with friends who I know will lift me up.
  1. Be present. There’s a lot of buzz about mindfulness and awareness these days. I understand the hype. We can physically be in one place while our minds can be far, far away.

    This man isn't present. Even the humpback whale can't get his attention!

    If unhelpful thoughts or worries sneak past our “guarded heart”, how do we minimize the damage? One help is to focus on the here and now. I remember a few years back when I was troubled with a difficult relationship with a coworker. I was like a dog with a chew toy. My mind was going over and over the problem, puzzling over it. I’d drop it, only to pick it up again in short order. I learned a little trick that helped me get out of my head and into real life. I would remind myself of where I was and what I was doing. Literally. Even if I had to say it out loud. I would speak softly to myself: “I’m in the grocery store,” I’d say. “I’m buying oranges.” (Most people probably just thought I was on the phone.) It sounds silly but it was actually quite grounding. The worrying was getting me nowhere anyway. And it reminded me that there’s a lot of life going on right underneath my nose.

  1. Chabirdsnge the channel. Do you find certain thoughts are dogging you? Do you have a friend that makes you feel like dirt? Does a certain situation cause you stomachaches? Try to observe the relationship or problem from a detached perspective. What is troubling you? What is really going on? Stepping back a bit can help you to find new ways to relate or respond. You can’t very well change the channel if you think it’s the only one available. You need a fresh perspective to find alternatives to that channel. Look for people, situations, and places that lift you up rather than dragging you down.
  1. Look up. Looking up is also about perspective. What is our focus? On a cold, snowy day, for example, you can either gripe about the number on the thermometer or you can choose to be grateful about your warm home, a cup of soup, or an uplifting movie. Both things are true: it is bitterly cold and you also have what you need around you. Why focus on the bothersome thing? The first time I visited my husband’s grandmother after her move to assisted living, she said, “I have all of these nice people who take care of me here.” Her positivity blew me away. She may have been sad about leaving her home but she still chose to focus on what good was still around her. If we make a habit of this, we will find ourselves in a healthier place emotionally. And we will be better suited to help others look up, too. (And by the way, if you look up long enough, you may start to get a glimpse of the Giver of all those good gifts.)
  1. Persevere. Whatever you do, don’t let those persistent negative thoughts have the last word. When you screw up at work on a particular project, you will feel dejected and discouraged. Of course. Go ahead and let yourself feel it. (See Tip 2: be present.) Then, remind yourself that you can’t go back and fix it. Move on. Work harder (or smarter) on the next project. That failure does not define you. Set-backs will happen in life. You failed, but that doesn’t make you a failure. In "The War of Art: Break through the blocks and win your creative battles," author Steven Pressfield contrasts the person who sees himself as an amateur and the person who perceives himself as a professional. The professional, when confronted with setbacks and disappointments, perseveres. The amateur gives up. The professional shows up, time after time, after time, regardless of what the previous result was. Professionals put in the time and effort and may see no return for years. Don't let set backs set you permanently back. Keep perspective and persevere.

Perseverance May these tips help you move from hopeless to hopeful, from discouraged to grateful.  And have a happy and healthy Valentine's Day!

How a book you've never heard of changed my diet and my life

I would be in the middle of my morning workout and then it would hit me. Uh-oh. I’d start to feel suddenly weak, slightly light-headed. My blood sugar was dipping. It was if the needle on my gas tank had abruptly moved from F to E. I would pause the music so I could take a couple of bites from my power bar. Even though I'd eaten breakfast, this scene played out time and time again during my morning exercise class. I just figured I was one of those people who had to eat frequently. gas tank

But then a friend of mine told me about a way of eating based on a book called “Nourishing Traditions”. She had had some serious health concerns and she had met the author, Sally Fallon, at some kind of health fair. Sally was literally "glowing," according to my friend. She was a testament to her diet. She radiated vibrant health.

This is not Sally, but this is the image that came to mind….

At this point in my life, I hadn’t really given much thought into what I put into my body. I mean, I'd do the obvious: pick Kix over more sugary cereals for the kids, choose juice over sodas, etc. but I primarily regarded food as something to fill up the tank, nothing more.

Still, I checked out “Nourishing Traditions” and it intrigued me. Sally based this textbook/cookbook on the principles of a dentist, Weston A. Price. In the 1930s, Dr. Price took a trip around the world to find the people who had the best teeth---broad smiles, straight, uncrowded teeth and no cavities. What he discovered was that the people who had the best teeth were also the ones with the strongest constitutions. They were well, robust, healthy people. But they weren’t clumped together in one part of the world. He found people who were well all around the world---in northern climes, in Africa, on islands, etc.

What did these people groups eat? Even though their diets were varied (depending on if they lived by the water or inland, the climate, food sources, etc.) they had certain things in common:

  • The healthiest people ate the foods of their ancestors---whole, real food. They did not have “westernized” diets--highly processed/packaged with food colorings, additives and partially hydrogenated oils, refined flours, sugars, etc.
  • They all had fermented foods as part of their diet (like kimchi, sauerkraut, curtido, pickles, and so on)
  • they all ate animal foods (fish, fowl, mammals, insects, and the like), and some portion of it raw
  • they all used the bones of the animal and often used it for broth
  • their diets were high in fat, and naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals

As a Christian, I value the religious traditions of those who have walked this earth before me. This book helped me to see that there were valuable lessons to be found in the diets of the past, as well. I realized that food was more than fuel to keep me going---it was designed to nourish and strengthen my body at the deepest levels, and to help it function optimally.

My breakfast "eggstravaganza" (couldn't help but take a few bites)

I started experimenting with my own diet, following some of the "Nourishing Tradition" principles. For breakfast, rather than having my usual cereal drizzled with a smidge of milk and a few berries, I began eating (and serving my family) eggs, bacon, and cheese. We would have tortillas with peanut butter, bananas, yogurt. To my surprise, no one was complaining or missing Cheerios or mini-wheats! And, lo and behold, I no longer had to interrupt my morning workout for a quick power bar snack. As a matter of fact, I was finding I could last much longer between meals without feeling the dreaded blood sugar dip. And I was feeling satiated in a way I hadn’t before. No wonder Sally was glowing!

I was sold. This little book (I call it "little" as a term of affection; it's actually quite a hefty tome!) revolutionized my relationship with food. It propelled me into the study of nutrition and the field of health coaching. For more information on "Nourishing Traditions" or  the Weston Price Foundation, go to www.westonaprice.org.

And please let me know what books you've read that have impacted your food choices and health!

nourishing traditions