Summer Reading List

Reading in the SunWith summer just around the corner, I’m dreaming of days by the pool reading and soaking up the vitamin D.  While I typically opt for the easy-to-read young adult dystopian novels (yes, I am a teenage girl, apparently), I’m also excited about the health books I have on my reading list.  For those of you looking for some non-fiction book ideas,  here are a few old favorites on my bookshelf or ones that I am currently reading (and will be writing about very soon)!

Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food – This book changed the way I think about food and my health and was the ultimate inspiration for this blog.

The Coconut Oil Miracle – This was a fascinating read since I had absolutely no clue of all the health benefits that coconut oil could provide.  Read my summary here.

Your Body’s Many Cries for Water – Wow… if anything will convince you how important it is to drink water, it’s this book.  You’ll be surprised how many health problems are a simple result of chronic dehydration – read more in this blog post.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It – A controversial read that attempts to debunk the calories-in, calories-out theory. Read my review here.

RX: Charcoal – Would you ever eat charcoal?  Read about why charcoal is now a staple in my medicine cabinet here.

It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways – I’m halfway through this book and planning to do the Whole30 “diet” this summer… I’ll let you know how it goes!

Healing Oils of the Bible – Just started this book and I am already so inspired.  If you are theologically-minded and want to learn more about scriptural healing, this is a must-read.

Nourishing Wisdom: A Mind-Body Approach to Nutrition and Well-Being – One of the hardest things about the transition to a healthy diet has been self-control and our relationship with “good” and “bad” food.  I’m interested to read the author’s take on how we eat being just as important as what we eat.

Essential Oils Pocket Reference – Not really a sit-down and read kind of book, but if you have essential oils, I promise you can’t live without it.  Organized by symptom, you can figure out how to use oils to promote healing.

The Holistic Dog Book: Canine Care for the 21st Century – I’ve always been intentional about feeding my dog the best food and making holistic medical choices for her, but after she got really sick a few weeks ago, I’m more motivated than ever to make sure she has the chance for optimal health.  This book is going to help me make the transition to a raw food diet.  I will certainly share what I learn soon for all you dog-lovers out there.

Bookshelf

Which one of the these books interests you the most?  What are your favorite health & wellness must-reads that I missed?

*The book links above are affiliate links, which means I make a very small commission if you purchase that product.  I sincerely appreciate your support to keep this blog going!

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(Char)coal in your stocking?

I still can’t believe that Christmas is less than a week away!  In remembering last Christmas, some very lovely memories of time spent with family are a bit overshadowed by a bad bout with food poisoning.  Miles away from the comforts of home, all I could think of was getting back to my charcoal.  And, yes, I am speaking about the charred wood type of charcoal.  I know it sounds a bit strange, but let me tell you about this surprising little cure-all…

As charcoal is created, “the gases, resins, proteins & fats in the wood are burned out, the heat-generated and change in chemistry cause the development of a charge on the charcoal granule which attracts most poisonous substances.”  Activated charcoal is created in a controlled setting and steam is introduced to enhance the adsorbtive power by creating finer pores.

Charcoal CapsulesActivated charcoal is a powder form that is easy to ingest and very fast-acting.  I have it in both capsule form and straight up powder.  The capsules are easy to take just like any pill; they’re good for kids (or husbands) who may not be willing to drink a glass full of black water.  Personally, I just mix a tablespoon or two in a glass of water and drink it – it’s completely tasteless, odorless and mixes well so the texture is barely granule.  Plus, drinking lots of water enhances its effectiveness.  “Charcoal reaches its maximum rate of adsorption within one minute.”

Charcoal has some surprising health benefits you’d probably never imagine.  It is actually classified in the safest Category 1 by the FDA for all ages.  It is an absolute staple in my “medicine” cabinet that’s filled only with harmless remedies and I highly recommend you get some too. Here’s the short list of its uses:

  • Charcoal is an extremely effective antidote to poisoning from chemicals or drug overdose.  There is a long list of substances which charcoal easily absorbs and the fact that it can be administered quickly & act quickly is a major advantage.  Ideally, it should be taken on an empty stomach and should be double the dosage of the poison (double further if person has eaten recently).
  • It is widely used as a remedy for stomach and intestinal issues like gas, bloating (especially from food allergies), diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.  As I mentioned, this is my go-to whenever I have food poisoning (which I have somehow contracted 3 times this year!).  As soon as I am able to keep down the charcoal for a few minutes, the vomiting stops, my stomach cramps lessen and I feel dramatically better within a matter of 10 minutes.  It decreases recovery time by preventing dehydration and, best of all, it truly absorbs the toxins causing your body to react instead of you just having to get it out of your system.
  • Swishing charcoal around your mouth for 30 seconds helps whiten and clean your teeth (seriously – it works wonders!) and stops bad breath.  Rinse with regular water afterwards to avoid a smile full of very black teeth.
  • Here’s a fun fact many of you may need over the holidays: although charcoal does not prevent alcohol intoxication, it does reduce the effects of a hangover.
  • It can be used externally on venomous bites or stings.  Wet a band-aid and put charcoal on there before applying to a bee/wasp/ant sting, a mosquito bite or even poison ivy (just use a larger compress). There are several case studies of how helpful charcoal has been when a snake or spider bite has occurred.  It was ingested and applied externally before the patient could reach the hospital to start removing the poisons from the body; it’s even cured brown recluse spider bites.
  • Topically, it can help clean & remove bacteria from skin lesions and ulcers.  It can also be used as a treatment for acne.  I mix a little bit with coconut oil and put on as a mask… its ability to draw substances out is great for removing blackheads.
  • It can be used safely with pets!  Like humans, it can help with bites or skin infections as well as intestinal problems.  When my dog has had diarrhea in the past, I’ve simply filled a syringe with a water/charcoal mixture and put it down her throat.
  • A few other uses for illness include foot and mouth disease, chronic pancreatitis and newborn jaundice.

I’ll give a couple of cautions: 1. The only side effect -real talk here- is that you will have black poop afterwards. 2. It doesn’t absorb nutrients that your body needs, but it will absorb any medications that you’ve taken. If you can, wait a couple of hours after taking meds before you drink it.

Interested in adding this to your medicine cabinet in case of emergency? The best news of all is that charcoal is cheap!  You can buy activated charcoal at your local health foods store or online.  Here’s a couple of options that I have used personally: capsule and powder version.  I’d also recommend you buy this short book for $7 and keep it handy to reference for dosage information.  It was the main source for this blog post & has a ton of really fascinating stories of healing to read: RX: Charcoal by Agatha Thrash, M.D. & Calvin Thrash, M.D.

Do you think charcoal is something that you’d try? I’d love to hear your thoughts or questions!

“You’re Not Sick; You’re Thirsty”

Is it possible that the majority of illness originate from something as simple as dehydration?  Could we be treating ourselves with medicine when we should just be drinking more water?  I recently read Your Body’s Many Cries for Water by F. Batmanghelidj, MD, which explores this possibility.

Water

Our body is made up of 75% water, and in particular, our brain tissue is 85% water. Adequate hydration is essential to our bodies and brains functioning properly to stay healthy.  But many of us are suffering from chronic dehydration because we live in a society where coffee, tea, alcohol and manufactured beverages like soda have become acceptable thirst-quenchers.  While many of these contain water, they also contain dehydrating agents that only make our body’s more thirsty.  And, sodas, in particular, are addictive (both the caffeine and sugar), taking away our natural thirst for water, even when it’s plentiful and available.

We tend to think that we are “thirsty” when our mouths become dry and we crave a drink.  But this is actually the last outward sign of dehydration – if you are feeling this, your body is screaming for water.  And as you age, your body begins to ignore “dry mouth” more and more, making dehydration easier. Our vital organs receive the water, nutrients and hormones they need to work only by enough water existing in the body to deliver those elements, so it’s obviously essential to our basic functioning.  Just in case you need a few more reasons to drink more water, here are some that really stood out to me:

  • Morning sickness during pregnancy is the main indicator of a baby and mother’s dehydration.  Water is essential to cell expansion during a baby’s first stage of life.
  • Chronic pain is a huge indicator of thirst.  For a while, painkillers may work for pain monitored by the central nervous system, but eventually the brain will become so dehydrated that it will register all pain until it gets enough water.  And, until it does, the pain will increase and the body will limit the mobility of those areas in order to “prevent the production of additional toxic waste” that water, if available, would wash out. If you are experiencing consistent back pain, leg pain or headaches, take note.
  • Dyspeptic (gastritis, heartburn, constipation) pain is an emergency thirst signal.  “Digestion of solid foods depends on the presence of copious amounts of water” and “water provides the only natural protection against the acid in the stomach.”  Antacids contain a lot of aluminum (so does your deodorant, by the way), which combined with brain cell dehydration are proven causes of Alzheimer’s disease. Stop popping those antacids and drink a couple glasses of water instead.
  • “Fully 75 percent of the weight of the upper part of the body is supported by the water volume that is stored in the disc core.”  While proper posture is helpful, adequate water is essential if you are experiencing back pain.  Exercises that stretch the back and help “vacuum” water back into the disc space will help both neck and back pain.  I personally find that laying on the bed with my head off the edge for a minute or so helps a great deal.  Of course, my chiropractor adjustments help tremendously as well.
  • Dehydration affects the regulation of body temperature.  Many migraines and headaches are caused by “heat stress” because of dehydration that may occur due to lack of drinking water, drinking alcohol, or an allergic reaction that releases histamines (blocking hydration).
  • Dehydration leads to stress in the body and causes hormones to go into crisis mode.  As a result, dehydration contributes to chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.
  • Using caffeine to override your body’s available energy will lower levels of stored energy, meaning that your hormones will not be able to react appropriately later and the brain has less energy to work from, leading to less focus and attention span.  This dehydration effect is exacerbated when elderly people with memory problems or children with learning disorders drink anything other than water, especially soda.
  • Adequate water and salt intake are essential to maintaining blood volume that prevents hypertension.  The body will do all it can to retain water and sodium (helps balance water in and out of cells), yet the current “treatments” for hypertension prescribe diuretics.  Water is the best diuretic – if you are drinking enough water, your body will respond and eventually flush out the toxic edema fluid rather than the water your body desperately needs.
  • Cholesterol is essential to the function of our cells because it helps our cells retain water.  In the state of dehydration, you will develop high cholesterol as its working in overdrive to prevent cell dehydration.
  • “The sensation of thirst and hunger are generated simultaneously to indicate the brain’s needs.” We cannot tell the difference, and thus often overeat when our body’s are really just crying out for water.  Then, dehydration causes our brain to crave more energy, thus causing us to crave sugar.  So, we overeat, eat unhealthy foods and gain weight simply by being dehydrated.
  • Asthma and allergies are indicators that the body has resorted to an increase in production of the neurotransmitter histamine, the sensor regulator of water metabolism and its distribution in the body.”
  • In some cases of chronic dehydration, our brain begins to inhibit insulin so the pancreas can provide water for food digestion – a crucial function to provide energy to the body.  Ultimately, this can cause insulin-independent diabetes, and instead of drinking more water & eating a balanced diet to get the body to behave normally again, people take chemical override medications to force the body to produce more insulin.
  • Salt is crucial to ensuring we have an “ocean” of water outside our cells, but the table salt we eat in most foods is a chemical and not mineral-rich.  Remove sodium preservatives and table salt from your diet and replace with unrefined sea salt to keep your body’s hydration in balance.

The simple way to prevent the damage from chronic dehydration is to drink enough water.  Your body needs a minimum of 8 glasses of water per day, more, especially, if you are drinking alcohol or caffeine.  If your urine is not colorless, you are not hydrated enough.  Drink water slowly, throughout the day.  I typically drink a glass of water before and after each meal, and then at least one in-between each meal as a rule of thumb.  If I am feeling sick, my allergies are flaring or my back pain returns, I immediately drink lots of water, and only water, until the symptoms pass. I have truly noticed a difference.

Are you drinking enough water?  If any of the above dehydration-related illnesses stuck out to you personally, you must read this book. It has very detailed chapters on each of the effects of dehydration and testimonials for how water has healed people.  Go read it (or borrow from me!) – it’s fascinating!

I Heart Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Miracle

Beginning in the 1960s, research began to emerge that some forms of saturated fat can increase blood cholesterol.  In general, saturated fat became feared as a major cause of heart disease, clogging our arteries and killing us slowly.  Coincidentally, at that time, the farming and production of soy products domestically was becoming a huge industry and the American Soybean Association was seeking to eliminate imported tropical oils from the market.  By the 1980s, the government and media jumped on the bandwagon against coconut oil and vegetable/canola oil became the “healthy” choice.  As a result, our products changed and we were no longer getting the nutritional benefits of coconut oil in our food. Since that time, our nation has actually seen an increase in heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

How do you decide what to believe when it comes to your health?  This is the ultimate question I get when I tell people I write a wellness blog because there are so many contradictory opinions and “facts” out there.  Since I seem find myself always going against the grain on what’s generally accepted as healthy, I have to explain my rationale a lot.  While there’s much more that plays into my beliefs, it usually comes down to this: look at the facts and the research, but focus on the sources.  Personally, I am less likely to believe information coming from a medical journal published by a pharmaceutical company or a government recommendation based on profit to the economy.  Often, the source of the information really sheds some light on possible motives involved in the dissemination of that message.  For example, compare the likely credibility of a doctor who supports some drug and just happens to make lots of money from said support versus the doctor who is standing up against their institution and risking losing their job or research funding because of it.  While it may seem like a dramatic example, I find it all too common in my research.

Okay, back to the topic at hand: enter our current world of everything canola oil and a country dying of chronic illnesses. The Coconut Oil Miracle opened my eyes to all the health benefits the fruit has to offer – it’s pretty amazing and we’ve really been missing out.  What I loved about the book is that it uses research based on real cultures: “Coconuts (and coconut oil) have been used as a major source of food for thousands of years by millions of people in Asia, the Pacific Islands, Africa, and Central America.  Traditionally these people have had much better health than those in North America and Europe who don’t eat coconut.”  The book also explains the science behind why the fat in coconut oil is so beneficial to us.  The main reason it’s so beneficial is that it’s comprised of medium-chain and short-chain fatty acids, which our body breaks down for energy rather than storing as fat like the long-chain fatty acids in vegetable oil.

Let’s talk for a bit about free radicals. Free radicals cause cellular damage as they seek to steal electrons from other molecules, causing a chain reaction creating more free radicals stealing electrons.  They attack our cells, causing damage and mutations.  Ultimately, they cause degenerative diseases like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, failing memory, reproductive problems, aging… the list goes on. We encounter free radicals throughout our environment and some occur naturally so they cannot be completely avoided, but many of the additives and toxins in our food promote their destruction.  It’s important to limit your exposure to free radicals and incorporate antioxidants into your diet as they’re the only way to stop them. Vegetable oils contain a high amount of free radicals because they are chemically unstable and oxidize so easily.  Coconut oil, on the other hand, contains none of these and also helps fight the ones you experience in your environment by giving you a boost of antioxidants, plus it’s safe and still beneficial after heated during cooking – a rarity among oils.

The book goes on to detail all the proven health benefits coconut has and the list will astound you:

  • “Coconut oil protects the heart and arteries from injury caused by bacteria, viruses and free radicals.  By removing the cause of arterial injury, coconut oil prevents further damage, allowing the arterial walls to heal, thus not only reducing the risk of heart disease but actually promoting healing.”
  • An New Caledonia island study revealed that islanders near ports eating modern foods “had an incidence of dental cavities of 26 percent, and those who lived inland and on a diet of native foods an incidence of 0.14 percent.”  These islanders with phenomenal dental health ate lots of coconut and “never brushed their teeth, never flossed, never used antibacterial mouthwash and never saw dentists.”
  • “Today people are suffering and dying from illnesses that science predicted 40 years ago would be wiped off the face of the earth…. Experts say our overuse of antibiotics is largely to blame: antibiotics encourage proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.”  “Even the super germs are vulnerable to the lifesaving coconut derivatives. The unique properties of coconut oil make it, in essence, a natural antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, and antiprotozoal food.” *emphasis added
  • “By far the best and richest natural sources of lauric acid are coconuts and coconut oil.”  Lauric acid kills lipid-coated microorganisms like HIV, measles, herpes, influenza, leukemia, hepatitis C, staph, and strep, just to name a few.
  • The medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs) in coconut oil work for our immune system just like they do for newborns from a mother’s breast milk.  MCFAs kill bacteria that causes a multitude of STDs, staph, food poisoning, meningitis, ulcers and sinusitis.  They also defend against parasites that can cause food allergies and chronic fatigue.
  • The vegetable oils that you consume attack your thyroid and make you fat.  Replacing those oils with coconut oil, which adds MCFAs to the mix and increases your metabolism, can actually help you lose weight.
  • “Polynesian women are famed for their beautiful skin and hair, even though they are exposed to the hot blistering sun and chafing of the ocean breeze every day.” Free radicals in our food and environment cause advanced aging to occur, but the antioxidants in coconut oil work to combat that. Coconut oil also protects your skin from germs, acts as a healing agent and is an incredible moisturizer.  I use it as a lotion, as a hair conditioning treatment, and as my sunscreen – it “enables the body to adjust naturally to sun exposure, naturally increasing the body’s tolerable level over time.”
  • Coconut oil is considered a catch-all healing medicine in many countries, helping with digestive issues, nourishment to newborn babies, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancer, diabetes and liver disease.

So how can you incorporate coconut oil into your diet and routine?  The book recommends 3 1/2 tablespoons daily… you can cook with it (replace any oil with it, same amount), put it in your coffee (if you love lattes, check out this amazing recipe), or use it on your skin.   You’ve got to put this book on your reading list… it’s such an easy read and there is so much more information and case studies that will really amaze you.

Will you give coconut oil a try?  Let me know what you think… I’m hoping you all become just as obsessed as I am!

Source: The Coconut Oil Miracle written by Bruce Fife, C.N., M.D.

…And What To Do About It

Yesterday, I shared part 1 of my review on Gary Taubes’  book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It. His arguments really hit home with me, and I’m sure did with a few of you as well.  So, naturally, the next step after realizing why we are getting fat is figuring out what to do about it.  “Not all of us get fat when we eat carbohydrates, but for those of us who do get fat, the carbohydrates are to blame; the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be.”  It’s frustratingly beyond our control if we are predisposed to get fat, but at least there’s a solution.

Not all carbs are the same…  Leafy green veggies have lots of fiber that take a while to digest and therefore the carbs don’t cause blood sugar levels to spike.  But, cheap carbs, like bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, beer, soda, and all processed foods, have highly concentrated amounts of carbohydrates and are easy to digest. That means the glucose quickly enters our bloodstream, causing blood sugar to spike and with that insulin levels to go up.  Fruit, while not as carb-concentrated, is easy to digest and therefore might have a fattening effect on the most insulin resistant people.  The worst effect comes from a diet filled with fructose and highly sweetened food items. Our livers are not designed to handle the sugar overload and respond by turning it directly into fat. So when fructose is consumed with glucose (all those yummy processed foods/cheap carbs), insulin levels rise and start storing all that fat away instantly. It hastens the effect of carbs.  This explains why some carb-heavy cultural diets, like in Asian countries where rice is a staple, don’t have a fattening effect: because they also eat traditionally very little, if any, sugar and have otherwise healthy, lean diets of fish and veggies.

We’re addicts.  The more insulin resistant we become, the more insulin that’s constantly flowing through our bloodstream, craving a quick fix of glucose for fuel; that’s why we constantly crave those carbs even when we try to eat healthy and feel truly full on meat and veggies.  The solution is as radical as breaking an addiction: eliminating those cheap carbs completely to break the habit.  This is why many on the paleo diet are so successful in losing weight over many vegetarians/vegans, who often supplement their plant-based diet with carbohydrates.  Paleos are eating the way our ancestors did as hunter-gatherers – high protein & fat from meat and lots of wild plant foods that are low in carbs and low on the glycemic index.  Ultimately, Taubes suggests consuming fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates per day and eliminating sugar completely to correct your weight. Beyond the benefits of losing weight, you will also find that your body starts healing itself naturally (the way God designed it to), since sugar actually suppresses your immune system for hours every time you consume it. Order his book here to learn more!

If all of this text has been a little overwhelming for you visual people, here is an awesome infographic that explains most of what I’ve summarized from his book.  Enjoy!

Carbs Are Killing You

[Source: Carbs Are Killing You]

So what do you think of Taubes’ argument?  Will you read his book? Will you go carb & sugar free?

Why We Get Fat…

“We get fat, our physicians tell us, because we eat too much and/or move too little, and so the cure is to do the opposite.” – Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

When my husband and I are planning a date night out to a really great restaurant and want to eat as much delicious food as possible, we often eat a light lunch or do something active to make ourselves hungrier for the big meal. But wait, that’s also what I’m told to do to lose weight…. Something’s wrong with this reasoning.

In his book, Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It, Gary Taubes tackles this cultural mindset of “calories in, calories out,” turning it on it’s head and calling into question a principle we’ve always held to be true. It’s a fascinating read, with lots of really compelling cultural case studies and the scientific details in layman’s terms that help you to understand his argument.   I have a bad habit of reading the Appendix of a book first and will admit that I was disappointed with some of the diet recommendations he makes – in particular, okaying alternative sweeteners like Splenda and Nutrasweet and diet soda; but, I had a long plane flight ahead of me and nothing else to read so I kept on.  I’m glad I endured because there are definitely some great nuggets of information I got from this book:
 Obesity has become an epidemic.  1 in every 3 Americans are considered obese compared to only 1 in 9 fifty years ago. I’ll admit that I used to think that most people get fat by simply being lazy and/or eating too much junk food.  But, a case study of many areas of poverty shows that there are many who are malnourished (less calories in), work manual labor (more calories out), and who are still obese or overweight.  And in research studies, hormone-manipulated rats proved that they immediately began to overeat, become sedentary and quickly grew obese; even when completely deprived of food, forced to diet or forced to exercise, the rats retained their fat while their organs deteriorated.  There must be some other determining factor than being slothful and gluttonous…. it seems more to do with genes and hormones than simply overeating.  The answer lies within the fundamental definition of obesity- “a disorder of excess fat accumulation.”

Taubes relates fat tissue to a wallet: “you’re always putting fat into it and always taking fat out.”  But only certain forms of fat can go in and out, while others go in and stay. When fatty acids enter a fat cell, they join up with a glycerol molecule and two other fatty acids to become a triglyceride. Triglycerides are too big to go back out of the cell membrane, so they stay captive until they can be disassembled.  The hormone that works to create triglycerides is insulin.  Insulin works through the LPL enzyme and the HSL enzyme.  The LPL enzyme sends fatty acids into the cells for energy. When we exercise, LPLs trigger the release of fat from fat tissue and send those into muscle cells to burn off.  (As soon as we stop, though, LPLs work to help fat cells regain that fatty fuel, which is why Taubes claims exercise doesn’t make us lose fat, just gains us muscle.) The rest of the time, insulin triggers LPLs to send fatty acids into fat cells and tells muscle cells to burn blood sugar rather than fatty acids, so insulin basically keeps these fatty acids in your fat cells.  Insulin also suppresses the HSL enzyme, which is the enzyme that breaks down the triglycerides into fatty acids to move out of the fat cells.  And when our fat cells get full, insulin creates new ones… working constantly to make us fatter… it’s no wonder that so many diabetics that start insulin therapy gain so much weight.  Further, every other hormone in our body works to release fat from our fat tissues so that it can provide fuel for what it needs to do, but “insulin trumps the effects of other hormones.”  And as we get fatter, our demand for more fuel increases, which causes our appetite (especially for carbs) to increase. So, to lose fat, we must lower our insulin levels.  The way to do that is to diminish the cause for insulin secretion – carbohydrates.

Okay, but I eat healthy and I still struggle to lose weight, while I watch others eat fast food daily and stay super slim… frustrating, isn’t it? One reason is that “some people will secrete more insulin than others, and those who do are likely to put on more fat and have less energy.”  The other reason is that many of us have become insulin resistant. Eventually, your cells stop wanting all the glucose you’re putting in your body, and they start making insulin’s job harder to get it out of the bloodstream, which results in you secreting even more of it.  Everyone’s tissues react differently: if your muscle tissue is really sensitive to insulin, then you’ll use up more glucose in those cells, making you naturally lean, but if your fat cells are more sensitive, then glucose will go there instead and you’ll become overweight. And as we age, our muscles naturally become more resistant to insulin, which explains why we tend to get fatter as we get older.  Most importantly, this doesn’t just affect us, but our children too.. “the higher the level of a mother’s blood sugar, the more glucose her child gets in her womb” and therefore will be born with more fat and predisposition to be insulin resistant.

At this point in the book, he had my attention… is this resounding with you as well?  Tune in tomorrow for And What To Do About It.

Why I’m Not A Vegan

If God wanted us all to be vegetarians...

In my search for the truth in health, one of the main controversies I’ve encountered has to do with whether meat and animal products are healthy for us.  I’ve seen Forks Over Knives and I think it’s a great documentary, with thought-provoking research and many convincing points – I absolutely recommend it.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it examines the claim that most, if not all, degenerative diseases could be prevented and may be even cured by switching from our current animal-based, processed foods diet to a whole-foods, plant based diet. I agree with almost everything in the film, especially the healing abilities of proper nutrition, but I’ve had a few hesitations. History tells us that for thousands of years, humans hunted animals for food, which enabled them to survive, thrive and populate the earth with healthy children. Not only have humans hunted for generations, but they have developed ways to cook animals in a way to extract every possible bit of nutrition from them. Our ancestors fully understood the nutritional benefits as it helped them grow strong and protected them from disease. I don’t believe that we just happen to like the way meat and dairy taste, but that it tastes good for a reason.

When I wrote about my inspiration, I mentioned that the basic theory for healthy eating centered around authentic world cuisine.  When I say world cuisine, I’m not talking about the Italian fettuccine alfredo or Chinese sweet and sour chicken you might get at a restaurant today; I’m talking about the traditional, homemade & homegrown food from nations all over the world.  And when I say traditional, I’m not referring to Grandma’s fried chicken or chocolate chip cookie recipes made with Crisco; we’ve got to go back a few hundred years before scientists started creating fake foods that saved cooking time and money.  Many of the traditional ingredients and methods of cooking happen to be the ones you find in common across the world and across history, as they were the most successful for maintaining and improving health. Today, the best example of cuisine that has remained mostly unchanged in modern times is French.  The reason? They’ve always been kind of, well, arrogant, so their ingredients and techniques have remained the same for ages and continue to be studied by chefs in culinary school today.  When I think of French cuisine, I think of many foods in the Four Pillars: slow-cooked meat, rich broths, and healthy fats; I wonder if it’s a coincidence that they have much lower risks of heart disease and are known for being thin rather than obese, quite opposite of two of the worst epidemics we suffer from in America today.

All that said, let’s get to the point: why I’m not a vegan.  First of all, I fully understand and respect that some people have strong beliefs in protecting the rights of animals and don’t eat them for those reasons. In fact, I too have a serious issues with how most animals are farmed today, in unbelievably cruel and unsanitary conditions, as well as the fact that they are given unnatural hormones and harmful antibiotics. I could rant for hours on the topic (and recommend lots of documentaries if you’d like to see it for yourself), but, basically, that’s the reason I have chosen to only buy organic, hormone and antibiotic-free, pastured/free range (plus raw and local, when possible) animal meat and products. I also agree with the problems of environmental effects that modern farming due to an animal-based diet has created, but I also think the same can be said for produce farming – we are destroying the nutrients in our soil and plants with pesticides, toxins and genetically modified seeds.

Veganism and vegetarianism are not certainly not bad, and I absolutely believe that you can live a life full of nutrition and enjoy many benefits to your health. These diets rightly put the focus on whole foods and plants, instead of depending on meat and dairy for nutrition.  However, I want to make a case that there are health benefits of animal meats and products, when they are from good sources and cooked properly, as well as point out a few differences I’ve found between a vegan diet and an authentic world cuisine diet:
1. Animal meat cooked on the bones and broth made from animal bones provide essential nutrients, mainly collagen, to our joints, ligaments, tendons, arteries, skin, and hair.
2. Animal organs are extremely rich in vitamins, often more than can be supplemented with fruits or vegetables.
3. The anti-cholesterol and low-fat campaigns are myths.  We need healthy fat in our diets, and nature (not science) makes the best, including butter, eggs, and bacon.
4. We’re born dependent upon milk and it should remain an important part of our diet, as long as it’s organic and raw (or fermented like yogurt and cheese). Pasteurization and homogenization destroy the probiotics and fat molecules that help us maintain strong digestive tracks, immune systems, brain function and bones.
5. Wheat (unless it’s sprouted) becomes a staple for many vegans, who turn to bread and pasta as fillers, and, even if it’s “whole wheat” or “multi-grain,” it’s not quite as healthy or natural as it’s advertised to be.
6. Lastly, while definitely not true of all vegans, the lifestyle often necessitates the use of many processed, manufactured foods to supplement meals for those that don’t know how to cook or have trouble incorporating all the necessary nutrients to a vegan diet. These processed foods contain many harmful ingredients, mainly soy, vegetable/canola oils, and sugar.

I’ll be expanding on these points in future posts. I’m so excited to share what I’ve discovered in the coming weeks and hope this has peaked your interest a bit.  If you want to keep up with future posts, you can subscribe to my blog on the sidebar to the right to get an email whenever I post something new.  And, I’d love to know, which of the topics above are you most interested in learning more about?

– Christine