This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Do you spring out of bed each day? For most of us the answer is, no.

Most of us have started feeling the effects of age and disease and are wondering where the magic button is to reverse it is. We’re looking for more, and in doing so choosing foods with less – fat free, salt free, sugar free, gluten free. The truth is going ‘food-free’, namely gluten-free, is the answer we’re looking for which confirms the diagnosis: we’re gluten intolerant.

The truth is that we have a long history of vilifying certain foods. But what if the real culprit isn’t the food, like our difficulty digesting gluten, but that our digestion itself is compromised. The quality and strength of our digestion governs the ability of our body to properly absorb nutrients from the food we’re eating. Looking at the nutrition facts label listing what various vitamins and minerals are in the food we’re eating, it is tempting to think that you simply absorb it all when you consume that food. Without a healthy, well-functioning digestive tract even the best food choices will do you little good. Your body will struggle to process essential nutrients contained in the food you’re consuming. This can lead to unnecessary dis-ease because your body will not be getting the basics for proper function.

Using a very simple outline of how digestion works, we can also see how when it dysfunctions.

HOW DIGESTION WORKS

woman biting a red hot chili pepperDigestion begins in the mouth. Actually it’s before that: our cephalic response begins when we see, smell and think about food, releasing saliva and beginning pancreatic enzyme release further down. The act of chewing food mixes it with our saliva, which, rich in digestive enzymes, begins to break down the food even before it reaches our stomach. So, the first step in improving your digestive problems is tochew your foods thoroughly.

Once food is swallowed it enters the stomach, which then secretes hydrochloric acid and various enzymes to further digest and break down the food. A lot of us are lacking enough of this acidity, which is another article entirely, but we also eat and drink simultaneously. While a few sips of liquid with meals is harmless, larger amounts begin to dilute the concentration and effectiveness of the hydrochloric acid-enzyme mix causing food to enter the intestines without being properly broken down. We call this indigestion showing itself as gas and shooting pains, and sub-clinical nutrient deficiencies can result as the body struggles to release the vitamins and minerals still locked away.

As food leaves the stomach and enters the intestines, the pancreas enzymes, along with the beneficial bacteria and microorganisms in the bowels, break it down even further. These beneficial bacteria (also known as probiotics or intestinal flora) are in a delicate balance but are rather resilient if we eat well: aka little sugar, no unprocessed foods, and a good balance of each macronutrient, in turn abiding by the best digestive practices.

IS GLUTEN REALLY THE PROBLEM?

Gluten is particularly difficult to digest. In fact, like the grains it comes with, it’s made to germinate a new plant, not to be digested. The worse part is that gluten takes other nutrients we the body needs away. Properly preparing, soaking and activating processes can help with some of this.

Then gluten requires a strong stomach acid to process it. If not enough of this acid is produced or is diluted with too many liquids at mealtime, the gluten passes through to the small intestine, undigested. If eaten in excess, it can irritate the intestinal villi on the gut wall and affect our digestion and absorption.

Which brings us to coeliacs disease: only about one in 100 people give up gluten because they have Celiac disease. Celiacs are allergic to gliadin, one of the proteins in gluten. Upon exposure to this protein, their bodies initiate an auto-immune response which severely damages the intestinal villi. Inflammation, shortening and flattening of the villi result in less surface area available for absorption of nutrients, leading to malabsorption, malnourishment, weight-loss and fatigue.

WHAT IF THE WIDER PREVALENCE OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE IS SLIGHTLY MORE COMPLICATED?bread basket

  • MODERN WHEAT.

Modern wheat is a cross-bred super high-yielding crop, which not only contains more gluten, the amino-acid chains within the glutenin and gliadin proteins have undergone significant changes, particularly relating to appetite stimulation. Research is also beginning to reveal that modern wheat’s biological code is wrecking havoc with the hormones related to obesity and diabetes. It seems that modern wheat is bad news for our health.

Remember that there are other glutinous grains, like spelt, which have remained virtually untouched by science and agriculturalists for hundreds of years. Spelt is much easier to digest than modern wheat and much better for you, if you can tolerate it.

  • PROCESSED FOOD.

Factories and major processed food companies start with a high-gluten, modern wheat frankin-grain, then food processors add more gluten to it when making breads, pastas and cereals – so it is easier to produce and a better looking product. On top of that, ‘hidden’ gluten is added to a vast array of other food products, totally topping out our gluten load.

If gluten affects you, you should also stop using these highly processed products and start eating real food home cooked meals or pre-made paleo meals again.

  • NOT ENOUGH DIVERSITY.

People eating a ‘normal’ modern western diet eat way too much deranged-wheat-based products and, therefore, too much gluten!

Gluten is found in food products made from grains naturally containing it but is also used as a protein additive to many products low in protein. Gluten is also used in products requiring its specific textural properties: imitation meats, beer, soy sauce, dressings, gravy, ketchup, canned soup, stock cubes, frozen or canned vegetables in sauce and even ice cream! Extra gluten is also generally added to commercially produced bread (it makes the dough rise and improves the uniformity, structure and texture of the bread). It is also found in a variety of cosmetics, hair and skin products.

We eat bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes and pizza all the time. This list of glutinous products are, more often than not, found in every single meal of the day, all year round. We’ve lost all genuine diversity in our diets! We were not designed to eat this much gluten, or this amount of the same food. We’re wired to seek difference in our foods to ensure our micronutrient diversity.

The bad guys are processed foods made from deranged modern wheat and processed foods with added gluten. We need to give THEM up as well as gluten.

Compromised digestion is probably the biggest reason we’re having difficulty digesting gluten. We’re not producing enough acid, or secreting the amount required to break down this protein. We’re also not chewing our foods, drinking too much liquid diluting it as we eat.

Simply, an inability to digest gluten is a sign of our digestion not working properly. If we’re not digesting gluten properly, we’re not digesting anything properly. But this doesn’t mean we have to give up gluten. We simply need to learn how to eat and live in ways that promote strong, balanced digestion and the appropriate elimination of toxins. Paleo real food values offer a great template for reclaiming our health through taking on our own health responsibility. Then we’re on our own. Scary, but maybe the diet we’re best suited for is the one we can digest.

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

 

Looking after mom’s diet is more than simply prenatal vitamins and eating for two.

Put simply, the growth and development of your baby is directly affected by what you eat, especially through pregnancy and nursing. You are also effected what your baby eats because if you don’t provide your body with the ability to make the things his growing body needs, then your body will be taxed with making them for your milk. Finally, what your baby eats affects their behavior, learning, tantrums and frustrations. Here’s some things to definitely avoid while nursing, others that can enhance yours and his health as you nurse, and better than that, enhance both your health after nursing too.

 

WHAT’S NOT OK WHILE NURSING

breastfeeding

Hopefully it goes without saying that smoking and drinking too much alcohol while nursing are obviously not ok. But there are other definite things to avoid when nursing.

FOODS TO AVOID WHILE NURSING AND PREGNANT

  • Polluted Fish (like swordfish and shark)
  • Hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated fats and oils
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Soy
  • Sugar
  • GMOs

 

SOY

Soy contains plant-based estrogens, which hormonally disrupt both mom and nursing baby. It also contains thyroid-blocking factors that can lead to metabolic problems and an underactive thyroid. Thyroid issues may lead to fatigue, cold extremities and failure to lose weight. Research suggests children born to moms with underactive thyroids have a below average IQ below too.

 

SUGAR

Hopefully we’re all pretty aware of the danger the amount of sugar in our current diet can have, but when it comes to young babies, sugar’s worst influence is on yeast. Any type of sugar feeds yeasts in your gut. In large amounts, yeasts cause vaginal yeast infections, sugar cravings and the breast infection mastitis. Mastitis is dangerous for mom and baby because it can cause thrush, diaper rash, food intolerance, food allergies and nutrient deficiencies.

Also, when yeast eats sugar, it puts out toxic byproducts that pass through your milk. In your baby’s stomach these byproducts reduce stomach acid. Sufficient stomach acid is required to ward off acid reflux, colic, food allergies and infection in babies. Therefore, it’s wise to avoid eating sugar as a nursing mom.

 

DRINKS

The most important advice for nursing moms is to stay hydrated to provide enough fluid to produce milk. It’s so important that a female’s body can and will trigger hormonal changes that cause the body to release chemicals telling the brain it’s incredibly thirsty during the first few minutes of breastfeeding. This built in mechanism is to ensure sufficient hydration. In addition to the amount, what you drink is also important for both you and your baby.

  • Caffeinated beverages (coffee, teas, chocolate and soda). Caffeine is a diuretic and can make you more prone to inadequate hydration possibly affecting milk supply. Also it will get into breast milk so watch for signs of caffeine sensitivity in your baby: wakefulness, hyperactivity, colicky behavior and shorter duration feedings.
  • Even some herbal teas according to the PDR for Herbal Medicines, herbal teas that contain alfalfa, burdock, cornflower, dandelion, dog rose, ginger, hibiscus, mint and spearmint, marshmallow, holly, horsetail, juniper, larkspur, calendula, corn silk, mate, meadowsweet, olive leaf, parsley, nettle, sweet clover, fennel, uva ursi or winter cherry may be diuretic.
  • Alcohol enters breast milk within 30-60 min, more than 1-2 social drinks can hinder ‘let down’ and it has been shown to create problems with your baby’s sleep cycle. Wait at least 2 hours after any drink to nurse. If you have any more, it’s wise to ‘pump and dump’. And personally while there’s no use crying over spilt milk, there’s most definitely every reason to cry here!

 

GMOS

Genetically modified organisms look and taste just like their counterparts, but their DNA is nothing like nature’s version. The company’s that make them force DNA from bacteria and viruses into recipient DNA to ‘engineer’ seeds to produce their own insecticides or survive being sprayed with massive quantities of pesticides. Consuming GMOs means you’re getting more toxic exposure from pesticides since those crops are sprayed much more – whether GMO are safe or not!

Mutated cells in GMO crops have been shown to spread to human cells when eaten and implicated in increased immune reactions. Further, today’s most popular vegetable oils are made from GMOs which is another reason to avoid them too.

 

WHAT’S OPTIMAL

Following Paleo real food values we can see just how optimal health is entirely possible from the right form of foods and nutrient density. None more so than a nursing mom with all the enzymes, nutrients, vitamins and minerals she needs for herself and her baby, some daily, others weekly, but like any diet, best adapted uniquely to her needs.

 

HERE ARE SOME SPECIFICS:

BUTTER – BETTER THAN YOU THOUGHT

Butter is a stick of big (healthy) fat nourishment and it makes food taste good. Grass-fed butter is an amazing healing food containing fat-soluble vitamin A, beta-carotene, conjugated linoleic acid (potent cancer fighter found exclusively in grass fed dairy and animal fat), omega 3s (especially DHA, crucial for building your baby’s brain), and vitamin E. Butter’s fatty acids provide these excellent nutrients but along with the fat to make sure your body can use them: perfect.

 

THE RIGHT FATS

Your breast milk is naturally high in healthy fats – almost 60% – both saturated fat and cholesterol especially important for your baby’s brain which is also about 60% fat. If you don’t provide your body with the ability to make these then it will be taxed with making them for your milk. Most of your healthy fats should come from clarified butter, eggs and meat; coconut fats (oil and milk) should contribute significantly due to their special medium chain triglycerides (fats that feed probiotics and spur metabolism). Fish, oily fish and nuts will round out your essential (your body cannot make these, so you need to ingest them) fatty acid needs.

 

WISE CARBS

Eat a variety of leafy greens, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits as your main source of carbohydrates. They pack great nutrition and fiber but don’t spike your blood sugar as much as the more commonly consumed carbs; refined grains and beans, which particularly are hardest to digest and can block the digestive tract.

 

In conclusion, the goal is for your diet to be as nutritious as possible with the least amount of toxins. Unfortunately, if you don’t provide your body with the ability to make the essentials for your growing baby, then they’ll be taken from you. This can mean a lifetime of problems for you both. Thankfully, optimal health is entirely possible with the right foods and nutrients.

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go 

 

SHOULD WE ALLOW KIDS TO EAT FROM THE TYPICAL KID’S MENU?

Real kids shouldn’t eat from a kid’s menu; it’s not real food. The kid’s menu in almost every restaurant contains food for kids who seem to need foods that are easy to maneuver with tiny hands or what the American standard has agreed on as what they like. However, kids are real people and they deserve real food. Especially real food pertinent to what their little bodies need to develop and grow. In fact, they should be eating the ones opting for the DHA-rich salmon and pesto us parents so often order.

 

WHAT TYPE OF DIET SHOULD KIDS CONSUME?

A kid’s digestive system is definitely not that of an adult. They should be getting variety in their diet. Each meal should include a macronutrient (from a good source that’s minimally processed), healthy fats (rather than just some weird breaded fried imitation fishy or chicken looking meal) and veggies instead of the quickest soggiest pasta and cheese thing a restaurant can whip up. Let’s not indoctrinate our kids into adulterated food but keep them enjoying whole foods and relying on nature’s basics to supply a nourishing diet, even when we dine out.

 

TAKING A DEEPER LOOK AT THE “KIDS MENU”

french-fries-and-chicken-nuggetsStandard kids menus usually include meals like grilled cheese sandwiches, pasta dishes, breaded chicken (from grain-fed animals), processed hot dogs (again, from grain-fed animals), and French fries cooked in vegetable oil. Aside from nothing nourishing nor none of the balance we talked about previously, these foods are rich in omega-6 fatty acids and poor in omega-3 fatty acids. Not to mention, the immune and cognitive ability of your child depends on this balance. Within this balance, there are several types of omega-3 fatty acids, perhaps the most important is DHA. It has a crucial role in the proper growth of the central nervous system, is vital in development of the eyes, promotes cardiovascular health and affects mood and aggression. It’s necessary for all age groups, and is especially vital in developing children (like those who can feed themselves at restaurants). DHA is found in our diet: oily fish (e.g., herring, mackerel, salmon) and their roe; animals that are fed biologically appropriate foods (e.g., wild animals, cows that are fed grass, chickens that roam over pastures and eat green plants and insects) contain DHA. Algae are also a source, though they are not as rich in this essential fatty acid as animal foods. Wild animals and properly raised, domesticated animals are the best sources of DHA.

 

THE TRUTH ABOUT BAD EATING HABITS

Limiting kids’ food choices with a limited menu is harboring picky eating. If we don’t prejudge what our kids are eating when we give them the opportunity to eat junk, more often than not they’ll go for it. Small children pick up very quickly on the signals we give them. Tell them they won’t like something, and they won’t like it.

When you sit down to a meal at a restaurant let them pick off you or your partners plates. They’ll get to try new things and explore what they like and don’t like. So, the next time you go to a restaurant and sit down to a seafood dinner or grass-fed steak while your child gets something from the kids’ menu, realize that that meal is stunting the growth and development of their brain. Remember, your child should be eating the wild-caught salmon you’re ordering too. They are still developing and they need the DHA in their diet to form a healthy central nervous system. Without realizing, we are feeding our children large amounts of omega-6-rich foods. In turn, we’re setting them up for poor performance at an early age.

This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go

PORTION SIZE… HOW MUCH SHOULD I EAT?

How do you know how much to eat? Being satisfied with a meal has become synonymous with eating one plate highly piled, a sigh of relief when we’re full then making a little extra room for a something sweet after no matter what. However, eating this way we’re neglecting what we need. Getting in numerous calories and consuming above and beyond our nutrients needs is taking its toll.

We’ve outsourced our appetite. We watch people cook more than we cook ourselves. We can hunt and gather instantly with the movement of two fingers on a device much closer than our farmers markets or even the short walk to our fridge. We seek permission from food marketers and advertisers on how many carbs, proteins and fats to consume. Which ultimately leads to weight gain because we’ve eaten more energy than we’ve expended. Something is causing us to eat more food than we need. What has happened?

 

TAKE NUTRITION INTO YOUR OWN HANDS

Food isn’t optional. It’s our responsibility. There’s no advertiser or marketing department to give nutritional wisdom unique to each person to the medical curriculum. Doctors already have to go to school forever to be able to recognize an emergency, as well as the rarest of all pathologies, in all humans. It’s ridiculous to expect the medical community to also be responsible for learning math and physics in addition to biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and how to deal with humans in pain. It’s time to give them a break and take some personal responsibility.

Getting back to the basics, that’s exactly what we need: basics before processed foods, what we need before what we want, or even what we think we want because chances are we’re addicted to those foods. Portioning your foods in relation to each other and in variety could be the healthiest thing you could do for your longevity.

 

GETTING BACK TO THE FOOD BASICS

Since a lot of us are sugar detoxing, it’s safe to say we all pretty much know we’ve got a problem with sugar in our diet. Recent research and mainstream media have condemned it to be probably our biggest disease indicator. We all feel so much better when we finally get sugar balanced in our body! However, it’s not so much that we’ve consumed too much sugar in general. It’s also that we’ve consumed too many carbs, which has logically lead us to believe that we should cut all carbs. But we need carbohydrates. The problem is rather all the food that we eat that causes a blood sugar spike; processed foods, conventional dairy and food sensitivities as well as the stress in our lives all cause blood sugar spikes.

Grains are a big blood sugar spiker too, especially when they’re refined into flours. They’re taking the place of other foods and we’re missing the necessary diversity our brains are wired to seek for micronutrients needed to fuel our bodies optimally. For instance, for dinner you’re making a spaghetti bolognese. Instead of using processed wheat pasta, try zucchini ribbons to accommodate your veggie needs rather than fill your body with empty calories.

 

THE PROBLEM WITH PACKAGED AND PROCESSED FOODS

Convenience, packaged and processed food adds sugar and “franken-fats” or trans fats to our diet. So much of what’s wrong with the SAD (Standard American Diet) is that many of the foods our bodies weren’t ever meant to digest, so they’re just stored until a time they can be sorted out, which for many is never. This raises the question on what about healthy fats? The best advice in searching for them is that fats store toxins so it’s a good rule of thumb to choose the most pristine source you can; namely pastured, organic and grass fed.

Finally proteins, which like healthy fats, are only as good as their source. We are what we eat eats. So, make sure what you don’t consume meat being fed grains, processed, sugar laden and “franken-fat” shelf stable choices you yourself are avoiding.

 

THE PALEO RULE OF THUMB FOR FATS, CARBS AND PROTEINS

pretty brunette eating saladA great starting principle is 40:30:30 (carbs: fats: proteins) of your plate, where most of your carbs come from green leafy vegetables (and a few starches like sweet potatoes as sides now and then); your proteins from pasture raised and organic when possible; your healthy fats from the most pristine sources. However, this is just a start. You need to learn what your body likes and how food makes you feel. Try keeping a food diary for at least a week and track your feelings after eating: you know your body better than anyone.

 

  • Excess fats/ proteins – leave you feeling lethargic, ‘heavy’
and sleepy and with a dull mood
  • Excess carbohydrates – leave you feeling headache-y, jittery and jumpy in the mind or with brain fog, nervous/anxious and tired, and you seem to get hungry quickly

 

When we eat right for our unique needs, our energy is restored. It’s a good, lasting, sense of energy not a physical fullness accompanied with an inability to think clearly or quickly. Take control of your own plate and portion up your carbs, proteins and fats to your needs. If you eat the right balance and variety of a bit of everything, your body will tell you when it’s time to put down the knife and fork. And you’ll be a lot happier and healthier for it.

This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go

Ok so, unfortunately there’s not just one solution to solve all tantrums. But there’s one problem you can definitely cross off the list by using a simple solution: the typical toddler diet.

SOLVING TODDLER TANTRUMS WITH A PALEO DIET

 

When we look at the effects of typical toddler diets high in sugar, anti-nutrient containing foods, chemicals and GMOs, it’s no wonder kids have sky rocketing problems with learning, attention, anxiety, depression, sensory processing, emotion and mood.

Getting your toddler off the chemical and sugar roller coaster, or better yet, not starting them on it, can be one of the best parenting solutions for tantrums. Research shows some newborns are born with as many as 200 chemicals already in their little bodies. That’s a lot to start. Not to mention, the presence of arsenic and GMOs in a number of baby food products. The one thing parents have complete control over is the food our growing babies receive. Simply, here’s the straightforward relationship: food affects feelings and feelings affect behavior. Changing a child’s food can alter mood and attitude.

AVOID THESE FOODS TO AVOID TANTRUMS

Avoid refined flour and sweeteners as well as all carb meals and snacks. Regularly including protein and veggies can help a child focus, lower blood sugar levels, eliminate mood swings and defuse rage. The latter is especially important in young toddlers who can’t express their emotions well, which leads to tantrums.

TAKE THE SUGAR OUT, PUT THE PROTEIN AND FAT IN

Sugar isn’t just sugar. Commonly consumed carbs like refined grains and beans particularly, are hard to digest and can block the digestive tract, which stresses little bodies and causes blood sugar responses to the stress. Instead focusing on wise carbs: leafy greens, vegetables, seeds, nuts and fruits as your main source of carbohydrates as they pack great nutrition and fiber but don’t spike your blood sugar.

REGULAR MEALS AND MINI MEALS

Going too long without food can negatively affect hormones and brain chemicals. Though it’s best to avoid grazing constantly, children need meals more frequently. Children should have regular snack intervals, typically every three hours, to keep energy even and minds alert. Snacking reduces incidence of tantrums.

However, snacking doesn’t mean treats and processed foods, which are generally refined flour and processed sugar. Along with sodas and missed meals, they activate the worst of what sugar sensitivity sets up. The drop in blood sugar can lead to a meltdown. Mini meals are best made of animal protein, fat and wise carbs. Here’s a few examples:

  • Beef snack sticks. Pemmican (meat based power bar) and pepperoni. Source and processing is everything!
  • Pre soaked homemade nut butters and apples and celery
  • Raw cheese chunks
  • Raw cottage cheese and diced fruit or peas and diced chicken
  • Deviled eggs
  • Apple walnut chickens and avocado salad.
  • Juice is just an illusion of healthfulness; it’s basically liquid candy. Even organic juice is still mostly sugar, lacking fiber, enzymes and nutrients of whole fruits.

Part of your baby’s burgeoning independence is learning about himself, his personality, his likes and dislikes including food and things related to feeding. Instead, a diet based on Paleo real food values means your toddlers are more likely to have better dispositions and less likely to have excessive mood swings and behavioral outburst. You’ll fight tantrums by removing things he doesn’t need and instead give him things his body is thriving to explore so he can channel his independence in a different direction.

This article appeared for Paleo on the Go

Most of us should eat less sugar, and that goes for kids too. We need to get balance back in everyone’s diets.

In a perfect world we’d try and avoid giving our baby a sweet tooth, yet we are born with a preference for sugar: breast milk is full of milk sugar. But sugar in its white, processed versions and genetically modified syrups, sweeteners and grains, wreak havoc, especially in little bodies. It creates inflammation, disrupting blood sugar levels, causing weight gain as well as mood and behavior changes.

We could probably all do with a Sugar Detox of some kind, but this should never be about quitting sugar good for you or your kids. Carbohydrates, sugar and starch in their natural forms; fruits and vegetables for example are vital for the function of our cells. Fructose and sucrose in the right balance are actually good for maintaining blood sugar levels. Sugar and starch are absolutely vital in replenishing glycogen after exercise, which hopefully your little ones are getting plenty of.

REMOVING SUGAR CAN BE DANGEROUS

Candy_in_Damascus

Removing entire food groups from anyone’s diet is dangerous. From vegetarians and vegans to low fat to protein only advocates; there’s no need to add low- to no- sugar and it’s impact to that list. There’s a scientific reason for this too; in the beginning after giving up “carbs” your body will use fat and protein as energy.  Once the excess is gone and your body thinks that there is a lack of something and that it might be starving, it will use adrenalin as its energy source. Then it will start taking energy by breaking down muscle and borrowing from other systems in the body. There is a huge amount of confusion for the hormonal, endocrine and adrenal systems, least of all these systems as they develop in your little ones. It’s all about the balance and we all need it back.

While parents should be trying to form healthy eating habits for their little ones as they introduce a variety of foods, what if outside influences have already made your kids little sugar addicts? There are surefire ways to get them off their blood sugar roller coaster.

HOW TO START BREAKING THE SUGAR ADDICTION

boy-358296_960_720Every meal should contain Protein, Fat and Carbohydrate. Even snacks. These three macronutrients work together to give us energy, reacting off each other to break down into nutrients each cell can use. This is the point of food in the first place.

Ethical and sustainably farmed meats and their fats contain vital amino acids needed to create muscles, brain function and repair the breaking down of tissue and keep inflammation at a low. There is no plant food that contains all 9 amino acids, nor has there ever been a tribe or culture on the planet that did not consume animal products in some form. Healthy fats are a part of every cell in our body, each cell is surrounded by a lipid (fat) bilayer. Our brain is about 70% fat, and in a developing little brain that’s more than essential. Sugars and starches help replenish glycogen after vibrant toddler exercise and learning, enabling them to have energy and to repair broken down muscle tissue.
Some ways to start gradually ousting refined, and rebalancing whole sugars in your kids’ diet are:

  • Start with removing all added sugar.
  • Then reduce, with the aim to remove, processed foods from your kitchen. If you don’t offer it, they won’t eat. Use whole food sweeteners and even then sparingly. http://blog.paleoonthego.com/baby-led-paleo/
  • Encourage whole food mini meals and snacks ensuring little bodies don’t go too long in between meals. Avoid high-sugar snacks like rusks, biscuits and cakes; they’re sweet and low in nutrients and health (http://blog.paleoonthego.com/grains-arsenic-no-babies-dont-mix/). Try healthier finger foods, like berries with nut butters, avocado wedges, plantain chips you can easily roast crisp yourself.
  • Let them drink water not juice or soda. Flavor with a few strawberries or other fruit slices for color and taste.
  • Incorporate naturally sweet whole foods in main meals that are less deleterious to nutrition than processed refined sugars, like carrots, beets, parsnips, onions, fennel; experiment and let them tell you which is sweetest.
  • Add farmers markets to weekend adventuring. Show your kids where food comes from and that fresh is best; let them grow their own if you’ve the room or window ledge patience.
  • Cook meals from scratch and involve your kids in carefully cutting and preparing their own if they’re interested
  • Don’t cut out desserts completely, they’re still a treat and there are loads of alternatives (http://www.paleoonthego.com/chocolate-chip-cookies-2-cookies)
  • Keep trying; they will eventually learn to enjoy newer foods. Oh and the younger they are the quicker they learn to like less sugary tastes.

Remember: One kid’s food is another kid’s poison and change doesn’t happen overnight. It happens by building up habits. Especially in kids who are building new neural pathways in their brains faster than any time in their lives. That also means that every day we’re offering our kids real whole foods, we’re flexing their nutrient building little bodies better than ever before.

 

This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go

 

Day to day, a little ‘bad’ food won’t send most healthy people to the hospital. However, over time the more the body is taxed by external toxins, the more difficult it becomes to recover and function optimally. Your system just stops working as well as it should – fatigue sets in, hair and skin may look dull, sleep suffers and it becomes difficult to lose weight. Or the worse case scenario, you just seem to be putting it on despite your best efforts. You don’t feel or look your best. So, what gives?

WHERE DOES WEIGHT GO WHEN I LOSE IT?

First let’s consider where weight goes when we lose it. Trust me. It’s got a lot to do with why we gain weight! We talk a lot about dieting to restrict calories and “burning off” fat. However, converting fat into energy is a violation of the law of conservation of mass. People may even think, perhaps the fat is somehow excreted or even converted to muscle. Or perhaps we never lose our fat cells (adipose) once we gain them…they just shrink if you work it off? What’s truly the right answer (which matters because it’s the reason we gain weight!)?

The correct answer is that most of the mass is breathed out as carbon dioxide. Yup, it goes up in thin air. Excess carbs and proteins are converted into chemical compounds called triglycerides (which consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen) and then stored in the lipid droplets of fat cells. To lose weight, you’re attempting to metabolize those triglycerides, and that means unlocking the carbon that’s stored in your fat cells. Losing 10 kilograms of human fat requires the inhalation of 29 kilograms of oxygen, producing 28 kilograms of carbon dioxide and 11 kilograms of water. That’s the metabolic fate of fat.

SO IT TURNS OUT THAT MAYBE BREATHING A LOT IS THE KEY!

Which brings us to what makes us gain weight? And yup, you know it’s going to be about breathing a lot, or rather, not enough, and all the way down to the level of the cell. The truth is, we gain weight because we’re cellularly sedentary: just like not exercising, we’re not letting our cells breath or be used as they should. Our weight then is not a problem, rather our body’s solution to something going amiss at the level of the cell, a lot of cells.

We are all organisms, made up of organ systems, composed of organs. Our organs are a collection of tissues combined from cells (who basic building block are the nutrients we eat). Nutrient deficiency leads to cellular inefficiency, which follows onto organ inefficiency. From here, our body’s natural, 24-hour detox is impaired (where our cells are so fatigued that repair and rebuilding capacity is reduced), further organ impairment results in an inability to repair and rebuild (degeneration), leading to organ/system dysfunction, subclinical (meaning without pain) symptoms and eventually disease ‘happens’. This is often all we see, as symptoms, and all we treat but as you can see it’s not even the tip of the iceberg of what’s really wrong. We are only as healthy as our cells, and their basic building blocks are the nutrients we feed them in the right proportions, specific to each individual body.

TWO THINGS THAT OFTEN CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN EXPLAINED:

fat and skinny woman in black bathing suitPost pregnancy – is all about hormones, but mainly oxytocin, the love hormone, and a flood of it. Hormones are great if they’re made well, used efficiently and removed after use. However, if the liver cannot get rid of excess used hormones, because it’s overloaded with excess sugar removal or one of the other 500 tasks it does, then those hormones, specialized cells, need to be stored somewhere until they can be and that’s usually as adipose tissue (fat).

Beer belly – beer is at its simplest, super refined sugar and wheat (or other grains). Both of these are pretty much toxins, requiring more nutrients to remove than they give our body for energy and can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut is a widening of the cells of the stomach wall allowing bigger undigested food particles thru to the blood causing an immune reaction. The reason the cell gap widens is that your body needs nutrition no matter what you give it and these hard to digest foods are simply pulled thru no matter the gap size! Inflammation, bloating and a host of other issues ensue, as well as weight gain.

TWO THINGS YOU COULD DO TO IMPROVE YOUR WEIGHT LOSS:

Digest optimally. We can have all the best intentions eating the very best food but unless you can digest it it’s just going to remain good, undigested intentions. But digestion is surely something that just happens right? The truth is that most of us eat on the run or stressed and digestion requires an unstressed state metabolically to function. Next most of us are chronically dehydrated and we need water for digestion, especially for the digestion of carbs.

Balance it. The truth is you know your body better than anyone and recognizing that food has immediate and lasting effects on your energy and mood is so important. It can help you make the best nutrition choices for your body. Nothing is good or bad just in or out of balance. We’re realizing more and more how much too much sugar for instance affects us, but likewise other toxins, and sugar, cost your body nutrients that should be going to other cells for health! Your choices in what and how you eat three times a day could well be the simplest key to your health (and weight maintenance) right the way to level of each cell getting the nutrients it needs to breath right and make energy.

WHAT’S THE ANSWER TO WEIGHT GAIN?

So what makes us gain weight? Well if anyone tells you there’s one diet or one reason they’re either misguided or selling something or both. Our weight is not a problem, rather our body’s solution, a highly individualized response by cells so fatigued that repair and rebuilding capacity is reduced to sluggishness and storage for later. You can see the answer is really highly individual: what and how we eat and digest and absorb to the level of the cell. The way to weight maintenance – loss or gain – is through balancing the foundation for your health from the inside, to the level of the cell. Honestly, that starts with food, with Paleo real food values.

This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go

GRAINS AND GUT HEALTH

You’ve probably heard that elimination of grains is a major step in reclaiming the health of your gut. Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity diagnoses have risen at least four-fold since the 1950’s, and there is a growing body of research that suspects that gluten (and other grains) can cause harm even in individuals who don’t show signs of sensitivity. The truth is that all those “heart-healthy” grains are the hardest food for a human to digest. Grains can deplete nutrients, cause weight gain and infertility, and they do not have the nutritional profile they’ve promised. It makes much more sense to get your nutrients from foods like veggies, fruits, proteins and healthy fats, which offer nutrients without the drawbacks.

Since there is a potential for harm when eating gluten and grains, keeping grains out of our cooking makes food suitable not just for celiac patients but (of course) for everybody else. Food suitable for everyone has to be a winner right? However, eating the basics may seem a little boring if you’re not mixing it up. This is where dietary restrictions can become culinary opportunities. Add the necessary variety that may be missing using the following five guidelines.

5 GUIDELINES TO MAKING DIETARY RESTRICTIONS BECOME CULINARY OPPORTUNITIES

  • BASICS BEFORE THE SUPER FOODS

There are three macronutrients that should make up our diet; fats, proteins, and carbs, in that order. We should be sure to include each in every meal. Each macronutrient helps the other digest and assimilate the nutrients your body needs. Each one also has a role to play in building your body. Try planning your meals starting with the veggies you’ll have. Plan out the fats you’ll use to cook them in, like pastured butter (ghee) or coconut oil. Finally choose the protein you’ll add at the end. Choosing from the very best source (pastured, organic, hormone and GMO free) and process (not ultra heated, pressurized or shelf stable) for each of these goes without saying.

  • MIX IT UP WITH GRAIN-FREE FLOURS

View dietary requirements as an opportunity to get new ingredients in old favorites. As soon as we eliminate grains in our cooking, we tend to overdo things like almonds in flour (remember when nuts were bad). Everything in moderation sounds like trying to stop the good stuff, but the truth is, variety is key. Eliminating grains from your pantry could instead mean adding variety through the use of other flours like cassava, arrowroot, chestnut, coconut, lucuma powder, plantain flour, or sweet potato flour. So even your grain-free flours are free-able! Baking this way also means everything is sugar free, unless you add a natural sweetener. When you cook from scratch every ingredient matters.

  • TRANSFORMING YOUR VEGGIES

Of the hundreds of veggies available, the average person eats just 5-7 different vegetables, per week! How many do you eat a week? Keep a list going on the fridge and challenge yourself. Are your veggies boring? Transform them: grated carrots, zucchini ribbons, and radish swirls all add flavor-packed oomph to meals. Spiralizers or slicers are great tools for transforming your vegetables. However, if you’re not interested in purchasing new kitchen utensils, use a cheese grater on all kinds of root vegetables or turn your vegetable peeler into a “ribbon-izer.” Serve zucchini ribbons or shredded carrots under meatballs or toss them in pesto like pasta. It’s delicious and adds flare to your dishes.kale salad in wooden blowl

  • RAW GARNISHES

Gluten and grains add a lot of soft, chewy and crunchy textures to our food and in eliminating them we often eliminate textures that make our food more satisfying from a texture standpoint. Add texture, crunch and color using flowers, pickles, baby lettuces, lacto-ferment cucumber pickles made with lemon juice, dehydrate vegetables like fennel, cabbage, and lotus root as crunchy toppings.

  • EXPLORE

There are lots of great resources for grain-free eating out there on the web and in bookstores. Cooking from scratch doesn’t have to mean cooking without a recipe: good ingredients to make great food doesn’t come cheap and waste is out of the question. Practice makes perfect so go with someone else’s tried and tested experiments. You can as also start by grain-freeing your favorite side, like cauliflower ‘rice’ or zucchini ‘pasta’.

CREATIVITY IS KEY WITH RESTRICTIVE FOOD GUIDELINES

The good news is that all your favorites are grain-free-able. And remember you’re doing more than replacing that indigestible stuff; you’re getting something far more nutrient-dense. There’s no need to feed your body something it can’t really use nor starve it of the nutrients it needs to grow, heal and let’s face it, age as gracefully as it can. The fridge is your oyster!

This post appeared here for Paleo on the Go

 

Healthy Children and a Healthy Mom – Diet and Time Matter.

You just got married and someone immediately asks ‘When are you having a baby?’ Or perhaps you give birth to your first bundle of joy and before you’ve even adjusted to caring for another being someone asks ‘When are you having your second?

The pressure to reproduce in abundance can be felt for new moms. However, hold your hormones, it’s all well and good to get your family up and running, but there are a few good reasons why it’s better for your health, your new baby’s health and the health of your baby-to-come, to wait. So, the question is, how long do I wait?  In a perfect world the recommendation is to wait three years in between babies. However, please don’t freak out if planets have aligned earlier. Miracles happen and should be celebrated. Plus, there are things you can do even if your time between births is not ‘the ideal’.

When you’re pregnant, it’s nature’s design that your developing fetus can take all that it requires from you. The go between to ensure that this happens safely is the placenta.ll the benefits of Mom’s nutritional stores, primarily fat soluble vitamins A and D which are critical to optimal fetal development are found here. The placenta passes nearly 7 grams of fat a day to the growing baby, while also tapping into mom’s “iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin B9, iodine, and selenium stores. Omega-3 fats like DHA and specific amino acids from proteins are also passed along to baby. On average, a mom’s brain shrinks 5% in this prenatal period, as it supports the growth of the baby (much of the brain is fat and remember 7g a day is passing to the placenta). So, it turns out that ‘baby brain’ is a physical reality! This re-engineering of the brain supports creation of the ‘baby radar,” which is essentially great awareness of your baby, but it wears a mom down. This could become  dangerous for the mom if she is not supported.

The statement above leads us to the  main reason it’s better to wait this magical three years. One of the most interesting traditional practices reported by Dr. Weston Price was the deliberate spacing of children in primitive societies. Throughout Africa and the South Seas, it was considered shameful to have a child more than once every three years. That’s well and good all those years ago, but what does this have to do with the present?Modern science validates this practice today. Recent research and technology shows that the ideal interval for preventing physical birth defects is three years. This is also the optimal spacing for the emotional health of children. Allowing at least three years between pregnancies also permits the mother to recover her nutritional stores between children and to provide sufficient attention to each child,and to her marriage!

Recovering her mineral stores include consuming fat-soluble vitamins that are necessary for growth and development. The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is necessary for brain development. Biotin during pregnancy increases folate, boosts growth and decreases the risk of birth defects. Choline causes a lifelong increase in memory and attention and the amino acid glycine is required for growth. WAPF recommends a dose of high-vitamin cod liver oil per day to yield 20,000 IU of vitamin A, 2,000 IU of vitamin D, and 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids (about 1 3/4 teaspoon per day).

 

Grass-fed animal fats supply vitamins E and K2. Palm oil, fresh fruits,vegetables and nuts are also sources of vitamin E. Fermented foods are great sources of vitamin K2. Leafy greens supply vitamin K1. Biotin can be obtained from liver and egg yolks. Raw egg whites should be strictly avoided while pregnant and cooked egg whites should be consumed in moderation. Egg yolks can be added to smoothies and ice cream to boost biotin status. Folate can be obtained from liver, beets, and greens. Choline can be obtained from grass-fed dairy, egg yolks, liver, meat, cruciferous vegetables and nuts.

All in all, it’s not just what goes into making a placenta but what goes into making a mom to make a placenta! It’s not just because being a parent is hard—physically, the process of growing a baby takes a significant toll on mom.  Mom can eat all the best prenatal foods, as she should when she’s expecting, but it’s kind of like studying for an exam the night before – you can’t rush it or you’ll miss something. There are a lot of nutrients that aren’t that easily replaced. Some mineral stores go bone deep and can’t be replaced instantly. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t options to supplement your already pregnant body to make up what you can. This especially applies to the fat-soluble vitamins which take the most time to rebuild in the tissues. Unless mom makes a concerted effort to replenish these stores between (or within the midst) her pregnancy(s) with these foods, the health and ability of later children will very likely suffer as a consequence.

Looking at the listed foods above, it’s easy to see the real food values in the Paleo diet. Choosing Paleo could be the best start a mother could give herself and her baby(s).

 

IMG_6714

One of the biggest changes a lot of us have made for our health is to eliminate gluten, perhaps all grains, from our culinary vocabulary.

But this needn’t mean wistful longing for a never again to be savored piece of crusty bread. Instead what if we view culinary requirements as creative opportunities? And specifically, eliminating grains from our kitchen can instead make room for all kinds of unique flours that we use for everything from thickeners to grain-free crepes. And crusty bread can return again to our mouths!

Instead of white wheat flours we can experiment with other flours. White wheat flours have been over processed and over grown out of their goodness we once derived from them, and in such abundance we’ve developed intolerances because nothing’s really good or bad just in or out of balance and that certainly applies to white wheat flours and breads.

Nuts are another grain-free source of crunch. But remember when, not so long ago, nuts were bad? Almonds are high in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fats), which sure are inflammatory, but that doesn’t mean stay away from it, just balance your intake with non inflammatory foods and not eating too much inflammatory. Oh and almond flour PUFAs do mean it’s not heat stable, so when you put it in the oven for your baking needs, it can create oxidized fatty acids = free radicals= cell damage. Simply, high heat baking and almond flour might not be the best combination, gluten free or not. Chestnut, hazelnut, cashew, macadamia nut and acorn all flour very nicely, but again will be high heat damaged so let’s look some more.

Coconut – flour, oil, butter, mil, aminos – is in everything. Coconut was the devil of the 80s  now the darling of the twenty teens. But 80s or now, too much coconut, which is a saturated fat in its whole form and isn’t as bad as we’ve been lead to believe, but over doing it is and is likely to lead to an intolerance anyway! All ingredients, no matter how healthy are exactly the opposite when we over consume them. Everything in moderation even moderation. And coconut. Coconut flour is a great wetness soaker if your dough is lending itself that way, and less is definitely more when swapping it for others.

Cassava, sweet potato, plantain, acorn, banana, and tapioca flour are all good sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a form of carbohydrate that is not digested in the stomach or intestines: these probiotics act digestive aid rather than upset like gluten. Instead, it is transported to the colon, where it is a source of food for gut bacteria. As it is not digestible, resistant starch functions much like insoluble fiber. In fact, it is often referred to as the third dietary fiber. It has been shown to help aid weight loss as they increase satiety after eating, improve fatty acid metabolism, and both increase insulin sensitivity and decrease glycemic response. They also encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in the colon and aid in the production of a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. Butyrate is the primary source of food for colon cells, and it has been shown to possess anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory qualities. Consuming resistant starch could therefore reduce the risk of developing colon cancer. On the other hand, since resistant starch increases the amount of bacteria in the colon, it can lead to digestive upset in people that have IBS, celiac, or leaky gut.

Avoiding gluten and grains can be a fun experiment: acorn starch, arrowroot flour, banana flour, chestnut flour, coconut flour, lucuma powder, mesquite flour, plantain flour, sweet potato flour and tapioca flour are some great ways to mix things up for, let’s face, the best thing we can add back into our culinary vocabulary: nutrition through variety.

Screen Shot 2015-04-03 at 8.10.51 AM

Hot cross blobs – almond flour

Baked pancake - sweet potato flour

Baked pancake – sweet potato flour

Zucchini banana bread - coconut flour

Zucchini banana bread – coconut flour

Pancakes – plantain flour

 

And some more different recipes and flours from others:

Banana flour muffins

Chestnut flour cheery clafoutis

Acorn Shortbread

Mesquite (a legume) Choc chip cookies