Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sugar, Sugar, Sugar (1)

This is certainly the time of year for sweet treats to be on the horizon. It's unfortunately no wonder this is also cold and flu season, coincidence I think not. Certain items we consume are huge sources of inflammation. Inflammation is the start of disease.  White processed bleached sugar is extremely inflammatory and a danger to our immune system.

 All minerals are stripped from the original sugar and it leaves up with a very sweet addictive substance. Companies count on consumers this the next three months of every year to make a killing. Sadly, while what we are choosing to purchase as consumers may be lining the companies pockets, we are killing ourselves, and not so slowly.

Type 2 diabetes is increasing rapidly, that disease is completely diet dependent. Morbidly obese people are now becoming the norm in the United States. Sugar consumption is not the only contributing factor, but is an enormous piece of the pie, no pun intended. Childhood obesity is on the rise as well, which leads into usually obese adults. We are teaching our children that this hedonistic lifestyle of pleasure pleasing through our mouths as well as every other area is an "okay" and acceptable way to live.

It has only been in the last 60 years or so that problems really started to occur. Tracking back before that time convenience foods loaded with processed sugars, salts, and other preservatives really weren't available or at least not that popular. Before that time people would cook and eat traditional foods. Sugary treats were a rarity.

Another issue that is plaguing our nation is arthritis. Arthritis means inflammation of the joints. There are different types of arthritis. Currently research is discovering that eating a diet in anti-inflammatory foods like turmeric and ginger is of great help as well as eliminating processed lab experiments like donuts, cakes, and cookies makes a huge difference.

Due to the fact that the chemicals in these sweet foods are so addicting it is not always easy to just say no.  In order to deal with cravings it does take patience, but take heart that after a while they will decrease or when you have them they will change to healthy cravings. The body knows what it needs and we have to listen. Next time I'll dig deep with what sugar does and what sweetener options are available that are better for our bodies.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Supplements-Do you Use Them?

Do you use vitamins in a bottle, supplements, minerals, fish oils, herbs encapsulated, pro-biotics, tinctures, green powders, bee products, enzymes and the like? I help manage a natural supplement store and I was just wondering where you stand. Right off the cuff I will tell you that I do support supplement usage.  I wouldn't work at a store that sells them if I didn't. I am, however, very specific about the types that should be taken.

 What many people don't realize is that vitamin and supplement companies get their vitamins, minerals, and other supplements from various sources. Not all sources are equal. Unfortunately, you really get what you pay for with supplements.  What you purchase at your local wholesaler, superstore, or pharmacy on the corner is not usually of very high quality. Working at a natural supplement store where this is all we do, and our heart and desire is to give our customers the highest quality, and hopefully most affordable price we can afford to give them. We are always researching and learning.

 Larger stores that sell other products are not taking that time. The goals and outcomes are completely different. No, we and stores like us, cannot compete with prices. I understand within the economically pressed times that we are living in that paying your mortgage versus paying for high quality supplements is no contest. Quite frankly though, if that's the case, then I wouldn't spend any money on supplements. I'd focus on diet. Poor supplement quality can be a hindrance to your health.There are also many supplements that really are not needed. There are certain vitamins and minerals that we simply don't take in unless it is through food. There are also certain ones that can only be absorbed in certain ways.

Calcium is always a big concern. I see customers come into the natural supplement store I work at almost everyday asking for a good calcium supplement.  Its interesting the range of customers that you get. Some are the I just want to get something down me because I should, or my doctor said or, or it makes me feel like I'm doing something good customer. Then I get the customers that have done their research, or at least a little bit, and are more concerned with absorption, and how our body will process it.

What I'd like to accomplish in this particular post is to just give a few tips to think about when supplement shopping. 

  • If it has soy, other than fermented, avoid it all, its a hormonal disruptor and horrible on your digestive tract, only fermented is safe
  • If it has corn, avoid it, it's most likely GMO
  • If it has sugar, fructose, aspartame, agave, or sucralose, avoid it
  • If you are buying fish oil, make sure it comes in superior or natural triglyceride form, not ethyl ester
  • If you are buying vitamin C make sure it is not ascorbic acid, look for acerola, camu camu, alma fruit sources-only whole food fruit sources, it will go right through your urine otherwise, not be absorbed, and can cause depletions in other areas
  • If you are buying vitamin D3, and that by the way is the only D you should be buying not D2, it should come in natural cholcalciferol form-read the label, if its ergocalciferol don't buy it
  • If it's B12, only buy a sublingual-fancy work word for to be taken under the tongue, if you get a liquid try to get one one without preservatives, no sweeteners are needed in liquid or tablets
  •  If you can, buy organic, especially with herbs, or at least wild crafted and sustainably grown
  • If you are buying calcium be sure it is from algaes and not rocks or shells
  • If you can buy in this order for better absorbtion and less added mess: powder, then liquid without sweeteners/preservatives, then capsules, then only tablets or caplets if you must
  • If you are taking medications, be wise, and research everything before you pop something else in your mouth
  • If you buy a multivitamin, I don't like these by the way, make sure its whole foods sourced only
  • If you are buying supplements for kids, don't buy gummies, THEY ARE CANDY, and they are bad for their teeth

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 13 of Being Sugar Free

I have to be honest with you that when I made the goal of being sugar free for two weeks I didn't think I could do it. Yes, the holistic health counselor does practice what she preaches though. I knew if the infected yeast was going to die that the sugar had to go, no ifs, ands, or buts. My bacteria became imbalanced through stress. It is so important to decrease the stress in our lives. Unfortunately, we do live in a fallen world, and we must have complete dependence on Christ in order to get through this life. Nonetheless some of our plates are way too full, and may be in situations that prevent us from removing items from our day to day activities be it work, church, volunteering, parenting, home management, and more.

Despite the fact that I didn't think I could do it, glory be to God, I have kept the sugar out by following the candida diet. What I would like to share are some foods that aren't traditionally considered to be high sugar foods, yet they hinder the healing process from a candida infection. Some foods that I didn't realize could bring me back to square one were beans and legumes. This has to do with the fact that we need the gut to be healing, and legumes and beans are on the more difficult side to digest. The other is with them is that beans are a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates get processed into sugar. So we need to eat foods low in carbohydrates, with lots of fiber that are easily digestible, so the fiber will help flush out the bad bacteria.

Keep in mind starving the yeast isn't enough. You'll have to put in practice some other courses of action like I mentioned last week with certain herbals teas such as Pau D'Arco, oregano oil drops, real vitamin C and olive leaf to boost the immune system, drinking lots of water, and if the infection is presenting itself externally then topical applications like plain yogurt, extra virgin coconut oil, and tea tree oil baths. Being diligent about taking a good probiotic supplement or if you are already taking one, increasing it, as well as eating fermented/cultured foods all aid this condition.

Here is one recipe I've been making, flat flax bread. The base recipe and instructions I received from my friend and fellow health counselor, Amy Huebner. I mentioned her blog in my post from last week. Here is one way I like to make them. Let me know if you make them, and you like them.

1 1/2 cups of ground flax seed
1 cup filtered water
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
2 tsp non irradiated garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 cup raw sesame seeds or 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Mix ingredients in a small stainless steel mixing bowl. Use coconut oil on a flat baking stone, like a pizza stone, and use a spatula to spread out flax mixture onto the stone. Bake for 20 minutes. You can use this like sandwich bread, just for a snack, for pizza, and its great with spreads on top like goat cheese or nut cheeses.

 Here is what the mixture looks like so if you try to make it you'll know what to expect. Below is the finished product. Feel free to change what you flavor the bread with here and there. you can make it more savory or sweet. The options are limitless, enjoy yourself, and have fun. It's an inexpensive, healthy, fast way to make gluten free flat bread.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 6 of Going Sugar Free

Last week I self diagnosed myself with a yeast imbalance. While this is a personal issue for me, its also an issue for almost everyone at some point. I figured I'd share what I am doing to combat the infection and restore healthy flora. In fact you may be dealing with a yeast imbalance right now and not even realize it. When yeast or flora or bacteria, whatever you prefer to call it, gets infected it displays its unhappiness in many ways. Reoccurring acne, constant itchiness (ladies especially in the vaginal area) in various places on the body, bodily discharges, rashes, foggy thoughts, inability to concentrate, depression, and lethargy can all be symptoms of yeast imbalances and infections.

There are various routes you can take to remedy the situation. First things first, you have to know that yeast are living bacteria, and living things have to eat to live. Seems like a  pretty simplistic concept, right. Here's the part that isn't so easy for a lot of us, yeast eat sugar. I've discussed this several times on my blog before because of how important I believe that gut health really is to our over all health and well being. Inside our intestines are billions of little buggies roaming around, its just how we were made.

When some of strains of yeast get infected, there's only one real way to stop them, and that is to starve them. The most common strain to give trouble is candida albicans, which is why most people with yeast infections say they have candida. Well, the yeast eat the sugar we feed them, hence they eat the sugar from our food. That means no sugar for me. I've decided to go sugar free for the next two weeks, and as you can see I am on day 6 today. The clarification has to be made what no sugar means. No sugar doesn't just mean table sugar or sweet things like chocolate, candy, cupcakes, and gum. It also means healthy forms of sugar like raw honey, maple syrup, coconut palm sugar, and agave.

Honestly, I shutter to put agave in the healthy category, because it's not, but that's a whole other story. Nonetheless, it has fructose, so don't eat it. Speaking of fructose that knocks fruit out the daily diet, as well as most grains like rice, even if its brown (although brown is  "allowed" on the candida diet I'm not chancing it), wheat (I don't eat this anyway). Anything with gluten you want to stay away from while dealing with candida. Don't even entertain the idea of bread right now. Some people are sensitive to quinoa, which is a seed, not a grain. Forget even looking at yogurt unless it is unsweetened, the vanilla and other flavored ones are loaded with sugar.

The most difficult part for me has been not putting that banana in my green smoothie or reaching for an apple in the afternoon to munch on for snack. I really love fruit. The only sweetener that can be used as far as I can tell is stevia. For my smoothie in the morning I've been using Vega protein powder, which is sweetened with stevia, 3 handfuls of spinach, a scoop of Raw Reserve Superfood Green Powder, raw almond milk I made, and some ice. Its working quite nicely for me. It just occurred to me that there's brown rice protein in the Vega Protein Powder, but I think I'm okay. I'll switch to hemp seeds for protein and get stevia drops if need be in that case. I'll let ya know if I have issues.

As for other food I've been eating organic free range eggs from my favorite local farmer, lots of greens, tomatoes, plain goat milk yogurt sprinkled with ceylon cinnamon, quinoa, veggie stir fry using coconut oil because it has great antibacterial qualities, plain homemade buckwheat pancakes, wild mahi mahi and salmon, lots of avocados; the healthy fat from nuts, coconut oil, and avocados is imperative in the repairing process of the body. I'm drinking plenty of water, some with raw apple cider vinegar in it, and herbal teas. I've been following the candida diet pretty closely here. I have also been following my friend and fellow health counselor, Amy's blog. She features great recipes! Really its not that different than my regular diet, just no fruit. I did sneak some carrots and sweet potatoes in yesterday, which was very naughty. If you aren't dealing with a candida outbreak, small amounts here and there are fine. Unfortunately, I am :(

As for the medicinal route I am taking two drops of wild crafted oregano oil under my tongue, its super powerful for fighting bacterial infections, I'm applying yogurt to the area like a cream, I've also been applying extra virgin coconut oil to the area, I'm also tripling my probiotic supplement, and taking Health Force Nutritionals Truly Vitamin C powder. I'm going to add taking a bath with tee tree oil in the water.

As the infection leaves the body there will be detox symptoms to be expected, in some are headaches, itchiness, and nausea. A liver cleanse is also suggested which I haven't begun, but will on Friday once I go back to work at The Vine Health Shoppe in Fuquay-Varina, NC to pick up a milk thistle tincture. That's also where I get my green powder, protein powder, tea tree oil, and oregano oil.

Herbal Tea Recipe

It occurred to me that I promised my Facebook fans an herbal tea recipe, and since I've been drinking quite a bit of cinnamon tea, here ya go. Cinnamon is  a wonderful way to control blood sugar! Really people it couldn't be any more simple than this:

Grab a half gallon glass container or pitcher, that's 64oz folks. Fill it with spring or filtered water. Pour it into  a stainless steel pot along with 8-10 organic ceylon cinnamon sticks, I buy mine at The Vine Health Shoppe as well, and set on the stove top to boil. After it comes to a good boil, turn off the heat, and let it steep and cool. Then you may have to strain it into the pitcher because of the little cinnamon bark floaties. Put it into the fridge, let cool some more, and drink it like iced tea. It doesn't require any sweetener at all, its lovely. Option-I leave 1-2 cinnamon bark rolls still in the pitcher to intensify flavor.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Tempting Tempeh

In the past I've written about the damaging effects of processed soy. Today though instead of completely insulting the plant, I'd like to bring about some redeeming qualities it possesses when prepared properly. When soy beans are fermented something wonderful happens-they become healthy!  The anti-nutritive properties are taken out, and nutritive properties are put in during what is called the lacto-fermentation process.These are whole soybeans, not processed ones, and fermenting makes them very easy to digest.

Lacto-fermentation has been done for centuries. Before refrigeration this was how food was preserved. Well consider this truly an oldie, but a goodie. Side note recently my niece referred to her father, my older brother, as an oldie, but a goodie on his birthday-haha, I chuckled. Sorry about that, had to share. Back to fermented foods, the lacto part comes from lactobacillus, a healthy bacteria. So when we ferment foods we load them with healthy bacteria, which is super great for our guts. In case you didn't catch my September post on gut health, check it out.

You ferment just about any fruit or veggie that you want to and it should turn out ok. Some more well know fermented foods are kefir, yogurt, kimchee, and sauerkraut. You don't have to limit yourself there though. You can ferment carrots, beets, cucumbers, celery, mushrooms or juice and that is actually called kombucha, The sky is the limit.

In the photos is what tempeh looks like in the package, this is my favorite brand, and uncooked. I do love tempeh, please know though that you must cook it or prepare it with something somehow. Otherwise tempeh is very bland.

Here is my favorite way to prepare tempeh :)

Tempeh Stir-fry

Take the tempeh block and slice it into strips
In a large cast iron skillet put the strips with some coconut oil brown on both sides
In the same skillet put some chopped carrots, red onions, green cabbage, & zucchini
Saute in a little coconut oil and coconut aminos
Mix everything up in the skillet
Sprinkle raw sesame seeds on top
Serve with a spinach, arugula, bok choy, and shitaki mushroom salad with ginger dressing