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What Should I Eat?

health appleBeing a health care practitioner, I have come to believe that most of the health issues my patients are experiencing are to some degree related to their diet.  I’m defining the word diet very broadly to mean “what you eat.”  The health issues I started to experience while in my 20s were absolutely related to the way I ate.  My health journey has evolved from being a junk-food vegetarian to eating the nutrient-dense whole foods diet I currently enjoy.  Since it’s hard to know where to start when making dietary changes, here are some resources.  This post will the first in a series addressing the question, “What should I eat?”

I’ve always liked Michael Pollan’s quote, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  My goal is to help people achieve that.

Fundamentally (and ideally), one’s diet should be nutrient dense, free of refined foods and sustain life rather than contributing to chronic/degenerative diseases such as heart disease, cancer, auto-immunity, Alzheimer’s, to name a few.  The Paleo “diet” which is really a lifestyle, is a good place to start.

The Paleo/Primal lifestyle is for those seeking general health & wellness, weight loss, greater hormone balance, and longevity etc…  Although the definition of “Paleo” is evolving (read a good article here), it is generally defined as gluten-free, dairy-free (controversial), healthy fats (including saturated fats), and plenty of vegetables with some fruit.

I like Diane Sanfilippo’s definition of Paleo in her book  Practical Paleo.   She writes, “the lifestyle is simply about (1) practical paleoeating whole foods that provide better fuel for your body and (2) avoiding processed, refined, nutrient-poor factory foods.  This means avoiding grains, legumes (beans), refined sugar, and pasteurized dairy products. ”

Practical Paleo is a comprehensive, colorful, engaging resource outlining the Paleo lifestyle but also has great recipes.  I recommend the book highly.  Diane’s website is also a great resource with recipes, links to her podcasts, and general motivational help.  She provides guides on her website detailing what to eat – very helpful.

The following website links are a good introduction into some of the more well-known Paleo authors.  Once you peruse their sites, you can determine if you’d like to learn more in of the their books.  This is not a comprehensive list but merely an introduction.

Loren Cordain aka the Founder of the Paleo Movement

Robb Wolf 

Mark’s Daily Apple

Chris Kresser

PaleOMG

Deliciously Organic

Paleo Slow Cooking

meal planningPaleo Meal Plans:   The links listed below vary widely in what they offer for menus but are useful for those needing a bit more guidance on what to eat for each meal within the Paleo lifestyle.

PaleoPlan

Caveman Strong

Elana’s Pantry

Paleo Table

 Multiply Delicious

Next in the series, I’ll explore another nutrient-dense, whole-food diet/lifestyle based on the principles of Weston A Price.  If you’re eager to learn more, you can visit the Weston A Price Foundation website.

Using Coconut as an Alternative to Dairy

Many of my patients learn that they are sensitive to or allergic to dairy products.  Although this can at first seem overwhelming, I’m hoping that the information in this article will help ease the transition and help them realize that being dairy-free can be tasty and nutritious!

Retail products

Here are some options one is likely to find at a natural food store.  They are convenient but have fillers in them that some might find hard to digest.  I’m a big fan of homemade so most of this post is about making your own dairy-free food. 

So Delicious Coconut Milk

So Delicious Coconut Yogurt

So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream

Silk

To make your own coconut milk:

Mama Natural (video)

Cheeseslave

The Paleo Mom

The Primal Home

Nourished Kitchen

Coconut Milk Kefir:  I recommend making coconut milk kefir over coconut milk yogurt for several reasons:  it’s easier and has many more varieties of beneficial organisms (probiotics), yet it’s equally versatile.

Cultures for Health

Mark’s Daily Apple

Passionate Homemaking

Divine Health

Just Making Noise

Chris Kresser

Healthy Home Economist (video)

Cultures for Health

Cooking Traditional Foods

GNOWFGLINS

Living Without

Small Footprint Family

The Paleo Mom

Coconut Milk Ice Cream Recipes

The Nourishing Gourmet Chocolate

Cheeseslave Chocolate

Vanilla

I had originally included recipes to make your own coconut milk yogurt but I haven’t tried it myself (whereas I have tried making coconut milk, coconut milk kefir and coconut milk ice cream) and it seems really labor intensive.

I’ve included many options but these links are just a smattering of what you can find online.  Let me know if you have questions.  Have fun exploring the world of being dairy-free.

The “Wow” Factor of Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, like many saturated fats is misunderstood.  However, since coconut oil is such a therapeutic food, I want to start clearing up misconceptions.  I’ve been using coconut oil myself and recommending it to patients for several years now and for many reasons.  Bruce Fife, a certified nutritionist and naturopathic doctor, lists numerous therapeutic benefits of coconut oil in his book The Coconut Oil Miracle:

  • Prevents heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis & stroke
  • Prevents diabetes and relieves the symptoms and health risks associated with the disease
  • Supports the development of strong bones and teeth
  • Protects against osteoporosis
  • Promotes loss of excess weight
  • Kills viruses that cause mononucleosis, influenza, hepatitis C, measles, herpes, AIDS, and other illnesses
  • Reduce symptoms associated with pancreatitis
  • Reduce severity of problems associated with malabsorption syndrome and cystic fibrosis
  • Relieve symptoms of gallbladder disease
  • Relieve symptoms associated with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and stomach ulcers
  • Relieve pain and irritation caused by hemorrhoids
  • Reduce chronic inflammation
  • Protect the body from breast, colon, and other cancers
  • Prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay
  • Prevent premature aginig and degenerative disease
  • Relieve symptoms associated with chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Relieve symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia
  • Reduce epileptic seizures
  • Protect against kidney disease and bladder infections
  • Prevent liver disease
  • Kill bacteria that cause pneumonia, earache, throat infections, dental cavities, food poisoning, urinary tract infections, meningitis, gonorrhea, and dozens of other diseases
  • Kill fungi and yeast that cause candida, jock itch, ringworm, athlete’s foot, thrush, diaper rash, and other infections
  • Expel or kill tapeworms, lice, giardia, and other parasites
  • Ward off skin infections
  • Reduce symptoms associated with psoriasis, eczema, and dermatitis
  • Relieve dryness and flaking
  • Prevent damaging effects of UV radiation from the sun such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and age spots
  • Control dandruff

Wow, one food can do all of that!

Coconut oil can generally be found at natural food stores or online.  I’ve been using Nutiva for several years but Wilderness Family Naturals and Tropical Traditions are also a well-known online retailers of coconut oil.

There are many ways to incorporate coconut oil into your diet.  Here are some of my personal favorites.

Healthy Peppermint Patties

Peppermint Patties

Peanut Butter Bean Fudge

Nut Butter Cups

Simple Maple Chocolate Fudge

Check out this website with hundreds of coconut based recipes.  The website contains recipes with other forms on coconut and in future blog posts, I hope to talk about the benefits of coconut milk and coconut flour.  Enjoy.

Breakfast Ideas

I regularly counsel patients not only on eating breakfast, but eating a nutrient-dense breakfast.  Breakfast should be one’s biggest meal of the day for several reasons.  As the name indicates, breakfast means “breaking the fast.”  Upon waking in the morning, most people have not eaten for 8-12 hours.  In order to properly fuel the body for the day (and not stress it out), breakfast is critical.  However, many of my patients skip breakfast or eat a high carbohydrate breakfast.  Feedback I’ve received from my patients is that when they have a healthy breakfast they have less food cravings during the day, have greater concentration and energy, plus they ultimately eat less during the day.  Additionally, many sleep better at night!

I’ve compiled a listing of some of my favorite foods to eat for breakfast.  You don’t have to eat traditional breakfast foods for breakfast.  Having chicken and veggies, soup, or meatloaf for breakfast is just fine.  I encourage you not to be limited by tradition!  I do believe that a nutrient-dense breakfast has more protein and fat than carbohydrates and that any carbohydrates consumed should be complex i.e. veggies, fruit.  You may notice that my list of recipes is almost entirely grain free.  I believe people eat too many grains and that imbalances the body throughout the day.   I’ve tried most of these recipes myself.  I find them easy to prepare and yummy.   Some recipes listed are dessert-like but since they are higher protein and less sugar, I feel good about including them here.

Egg based:

Quick Quiche Cups

Frittata

Egg Pancake with Vegetables

Breakfast Casserole with Spinach, Leeks, Cottage Cheese and Goat Cheese

Kale, Bacon, and Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Frittata with Bacon, Onions, and Cheese

Mexican Baked Eggs with Black Beans, Tomatoes, Chiles

Broccoli Cheese Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Burrito

Black Bean and Egg  BurritoApple & Spice Dutch Baby Pancake

Blueberry Clafouti (any fruit can be substituted)

Beverages:

Smoothies

Pumpkin Smoothie

Orange Julius

Fruit Smoothie

Misc:

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Grain Free Granola

Crepes

Nut Butter Muffins

Banana Caramel Sticky Buns

Sausage Sticks

Pudding

Red, White and Blue Cupcakes

Almond Power Bars

Honey Nut Bars

Breakfast Bars

Homemade Lara Bars

Cranberry Walnut Bread

Chocolate Almond Joy Bars

Lemon Coconut Bars

Chocolate Chickpea Cake

Black Bean Brownies

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Peanut Butter Blondies

Dry Skin Brushing

Dry Skin Brushing

There are many ways to detoxify the body.  But, why does the body need to detoxify?  We are exposed to hundreds of chemicals on a daily basis.  The chemical company DuPont coined the slogan “Better Things for Better Living…Through Chemistry” in 1935 as it was introducing chemicals and plastics to the world.  DuPont was part of the emerging chemicalization of America. In her book, Hormone Deception, Lindsey Berkson, writes, “Since World War II approximately 87,000 new chemicals have been synthesized in the U.S. alone.  New ones are being invented at the rate of 2,000 per year.”  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that hundreds of these chemicals are present in our bodies and can interfere with the body’s immune, endocrine, nervous, and reproductive systems.  These chemicals include air/water pollutants/caffeine, cigarette smoke, cosmetics, body care products, heavy metals, household cleaning products, pesticides/herbicides, plastics, pharmaceuticals, and preservatives.  Wayne Ott, a long-term employee at the Environmental Protection Agency has said, “What the public doesn’t understand is that your house is the hazardous waste site.  All of the things in your house are made from the same chemicals that are on the hazardous lists.”

While it is best to minimize or eliminate your exposure to chemicals, detoxifying your body can help minimize the damaging effects of chemicals.  In my opinion, the best way to detoxify the body is through the Standard Process Purification Program.  However, there are daily activities you can do at home to strengthen your body.  Castor Oil is very helpful as well as dry skin brushing.

Dry skin brushing is a simple and easy way to help detoxify the body.  The skin is the largest organ in the body and plays a major role in body detoxification – as much as one-fourth of the body’s daily detoxification.  Many refer to the skin as the “3rd Kidney” because of the skin’s powerful detoxification ability.  However, body care products such as body soap/lotion, deodorant, sunscreen, and synthetic fabric like polyester can not only prevent the skin from breathing appropriately but also block the ability of the skin to release toxins.  When this happens, the toxic burden on the liver and kidney increase as well.

The best type of brush for dry skin brushing is one with a long handle and natural bristles.  The brush should always remain dry for the best effect.  Natural food stores usually sell this type of brush. I recommend dry skin brushing in the morning before bathing.  Start by brushing the feet, then up the legs, the back, the belly and into the chest.  It is most beneficial to brush toward the heart as this facilitates proper lymph flow.  The body’s lymphatic system is an important toxin removal system.  As you reach the mid-chest, then brush up the arms, down the neck and into the mid-chest.  Avoid any area in which the skin is broken or irritated.  Do not brush your face. Brush gently but firmly.  It may take a few treatments to get used to the natural bristles.  The process takes less than 5 minutes.  After completing the brushing, shower off the dead skin cells. Generally one will feel more alert

Detoxification is not the only reason to dry skin brush.  Many report that dry skin brushing softens the skin and can help with in-grown hairs.  However, one of my favorite reasons for dry skin brushing is that it feels good!

Whole Body Purification

Center for Chiropractic and Wellness is hosting a workshop next Wednesday, May 11 on the Purification Program from Standard Process.  We’ve been using this powerfully effective detoxification program in our office for several years now and we invite you to learn more. 

 You may be asking yourself, “Why do I need the Purification Program?”  Unfortunately we live in a toxic environment.  We are exposed to environmental and internal toxins on a daily basis.  Here are some unfortunate statistics:

  • Approximately 87,000 new chemicals have been created and introduced into our environment in the US since World War II. 
  • Two thousand new chemicals are added every year!  Additionally, tap water is contaminated with chlorine, trihalamethanes (environmental pollutants), lead, cadmium, plus medications and hormones. 
  • Body care products such as shampoo, shaving cream, deodorant, makeup, hair styling products, sunscreen, and perfume contain xenohormones.  These hormone-like chemicals wreak havoc on the body’s hormones, nervous system, and general cellular function. 
  • The average American home contains over 60 hazardous products, most of which are lawn/garden and cleaning supplies.
  • The average American consumes 14 lbs of food additives, 160 lbs of sugar, 8 lbs of salt in a given year.

I could go on but needless to say, we live in an environment that is not conducive to health! 

 But other reasons why patients choose to do the Purification Program is that they want to feel better.  So many people are plagued with weight gain, brain fog, allergies, insomnia, acne, menstrual irregularities, poor digestion, sugar and/or salt cravings, pre-diabetes, eczema, low libido, etc.  The purpose of the Purification Program is to stimulate the liver, kidneys, small intestine and large intestine so as to allow the body to lighten it’s toxic load and cleanse itself from the inside out. 

 The Purification Program is a 21-day cleanse that involves eating whole, organic (if possible), unprocessed foods, taking whole-food supplements and drinking plenty of water (filtered or spring).  We have scores of recipes available to help patients create flavorful and exciting food during the cleanse. 

 The Purification Program is also backed by research demonstrating it as an effective tool to lessen cardiovascular disease risk.  Research published in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine (September 2008) reported  a total cholesterol decrease of 47 points after the 28 patients in the study completed the 21-day Purification Program.  Additionally the patients experienced decreases in triglycerides, LDL, HDL, and VLDL cholesterol during the program.  As an added benefit, weight loss was also noted for all 28 patients!  To read the research article, please click here.

 That has been our experience at CCW as well.  Last week I spoke with several patients who had recently finished the Purification Program.  One woman lost 15 pounds and her heel pain disappeared.  Another female patient lost 8 pounds, had clearer skin and resumed a “regular” menstrual cycle, which previously had been absent.  Other patients of mine have reported being pulled out of depression, sleeping better, increased energy, decreased allergies, regular bowel movements, improved digestion, clearer thinking, increased vitality, mood stability and a general positive outlook. 

 Even if you are unable to attend the workshop but are interested in the Purification Program, please call us at 919-845-3280.  Here’s to your health!

Under the Cloud of PMS

Many of my child-bearing age female patients suffer from PMS.  I’d like to take a few moments to discuss PMS but in order to understand PMS, it’s important to first understand a normal, healthy menstrual cycle.

You can think of the menstrual cycle as a dance or interplay between many different hormones.  Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) are both produced by the pituitary gland located in the brain while estrogen and progesterone are primarily produced by the ovaries.  The interaction between these four hormones creates the menstrual cycle.  Other hormones such as oxytocin and testosterone are involved but are less significant.

Day 1 of the menstrual cycle is the onset of bleeding and this continues generally for 3-7 days.  Upon completion of bleeding, FSH levels begin to rise.  This is necessary for ovarian follicles to mature as well for the ovaries to begin producing more estrogen.  Estrogen serves many purposes:  it sends signals to the uterus to develop its endometrial lining (for potential egg implantation) as well as suppressing FSH but also increases LH levels near ovulation.  Estrogen should be highest prior to ovulation and then should decrease until menstruation.

As LH rises in response to rising estrogen, body temperature increases and ovulation occurs within 12-48 hours.  Ovulation takes place when a mature follicle releases an egg.  The empty follicle then becomes the corpus luteum, which produces progesterone until the onset of menses 14 days later.

Between ovulation and menstruation, progesterone should be the dominant female hormone.  Progesterone has many functions including maturing the uterine lining for implantation and pregnancy, helping to calm and focus brain activity, relax muscles, increase sex drive and assist in fat burning.   If implantation of an embryo does not occur then progesterone and estrogen levels fall.   This signals the onset of menses and the cycle continues.

As you can see the hormones are intimately interrelated and dependent upon one another; if one hormone is imbalanced, the likelihood of other hormones becoming imbalanced increases.  When one cycle fails to function properly, the following cycle is affected and it becomes a downward spiral of dysfunction.  PMS is related to the cyclic dysfunction.

PMS is considered a “multifactoral” condition that can have different causes, and not every woman with PMS will have the same symptoms.  Emotional symptoms can be aggression, anxiety, confusion, depression, irritability, and emotional withdrawal.  Physical symptoms can be abdominal bloating/cramping, back pain, breast swelling/tenderness, fatigue, heart palpitations, nausea, food cravings, migraines, and insomnia.

One underlying cause of PMS that I see in my office is called Estrogen Dominance (ED).  ED is when estrogen, instead of progesterone, predominates in the second half of the cycle (between ovulation and menstruation).  Estrogen and progesterone are both necessary for a healthy cycle and they need to be in the correct proportion with one another.  Estrogen stimulates brain function so when it is not balanced by progesterone irritability, anxiety, and general moodiness can result.  Remember that progesterone calms and focuses the brain.  For many women, progesterone drops off too quickly prior to menstruation or isn’t produced at all because no ovulation occurred.  This results in inadequate levels of progesterone to balance the estrogen at the end of the cycle.  Emotional and physical symptoms can result.  And depending on when the progesterone drops off, symptoms could last 3 days of 10 days.  It may be different for each woman and each cycle.

In my next post, I will talk about how to correct Estrogen Dominance.  Stay tuned.