Back to basics…

20140820-_MG_6299

We have forgotten the basics, relied on processed junk, replaced full cream with low fat everything, abolished healthy fats for highly inflammatory vegetable oils, skimped on nutrient dense foods, been exposed to GMO’s and environmental toxins, and abandoned our kitchens as we are so time-poor … and we wonder why we are not healthy anymore! We are surrounded by our nearest and dearest, work colleagues, acquaintances and friends and so many of them are experiencing one or more of the following:  brain fog, joint paint, fatigue, eczema, auto-immune conditions, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, autism, digestive disorders, depression and anxiety, hormone imbalance, cancer, and many more chronic diseases.

There is so much we can do to prevent so much by merely making the right food choices.  And it is not rocket science.  Just go back to the basics.  By doing the following, my husband’s pre-diabetes was reversed and my arthritis pain resolved.

Taken from Dr Axe’s website, in order for us to be “healthy” and prevent illnesses, we need to follow a diet that:

  1. Decreases Inflammation – Most chronic, modern diseases all have the same underlying issue – inflammation.  Inflammation controls our lives. It damages our cells and blood vessels resulting in High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Arthritis, Inflammatory diseases like Crohn’s, Peripheral Neuropathy, Diabetes, Thyroid Disease, Stroke, Alzheimer’s, and so many more.  Many people find it hard to understand that the majority of inflammatory diseases start in the gut when an auto-immune reaction develops over time into systemic inflammation. By reducing inflammation our body is better able to recover from any disease and a good place to start is by healing your gut.
  2. Alkalizes our body – an acidic body is usually sick and fat.  The pH of our body should be around 7.4.  Green vegetable juices like spinach can restore the body’s correct pH.   All diseases, including infections, osteoporosis and cancer thrive in an acidic environment.  By alkalizing our body, our cells can heal and become healthy again.  We do need to understand though that our body thrives for balance or homeostasis and so it will adjust to whatever we are feeding it.
  3. Lowers Blood Glucose – one of the main causes of obesity and diabetes is burnt out insulin receptors.  Lowering blood glucose levels by restricting your sugar and carbohydrate intake, allows these receptors to heal and start secreting insulin again.
  4. Includes nutrient dense foods – the food we eat today is not the same as it was 50 years ago, even if you are eating organic food.  Soils are devoid of nutrients and if we are eating processed foods, there are no vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants or enzymes in them, so we are starving ourselves of good nutrition.  This accelerates aging and is damaging to the body at a cellular level.  By consuming the best nutrient dense, organic, free range foods that you can, you will slow down the aging process, maintain your energy levels, improve your brain function and in a nutshell, be healthy.
  5. Eliminates toxins – food toxins, environmental toxins, household toxins, cosmetic and skincare toxins are all detrimental to our health.

The ideal, healthy diet for most people would be to include equal amounts of clean (organic, free range) protein, healthy fats and low glycemic index carbohydrates (ie fruits and vegetables, not bread and pastries!)

Remove the BAD FATS (trans fats, soybean oil, canola oil, vegetables oil) – replace them with GOOD FATS.  Bad fats are high in omega 6’s and create chronic inflammation throughout the body which cause diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, etc.  Good fats are essential for hormone production, cancer prevention, brain development, weight loss and anti-inflammation.

Change the MEAT AND CHICKEN you eat – feeding grain to animals that are meant to eat grass changes their fatty acid ratios and denatures good fats which leads to modern day disease.  Pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones in meat are contributing to modern diseases too.

Change the FISH you eat – try and source sustainable, wild seafood, not farmed which are fed pellets.  Eat smaller fish…the larger ones are not as abundant, take a long time to reach maturity and potentially can harbour more mercury…try to be sustainable in your choice.

Eliminate refined SUGAR and GRAINS from your diet, including white rice, pasta, bread, soft drinks, pizza, store bought sauces, soups, yoghurt, mayonnaise, tomato sauce, etc.  High glycemic index foods increase your blood glucose level which elevates your insulin and results in premature aging, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Sugar, gluten and dairy are also highly inflammatory for many people.  Elevated blood glucose levels also increase your susceptibility to develop Alzheimer’s Disease.

Low glycemic index carbohydrates in the form of fruits and vegetables have high amounts of vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants that all slow aging, detoxify our cells, help us lose weight and improve energy levels.

 

 

 

 

A Healthy Breakfast

IMG_0818

We have our evening meal around 6.30pm and breakfast is at least 12 – 14 hours later.  So I think of this food-free overnight time as an “intermittant” fast.  The liver has done its thing detoxing overnight and so breakfast should be something wholesome and healthy to give you a boost and get all your systems firing for the day.  Prior to my health journey, I would have a coffee with milk first thing in the morning, no breakfast, run out the door and only eat after another couple of milky coffees and a few hours later, at lunchtime!  I now appreciate how bad this was for me and my health.

This is what I had for breakfast this morning.

GREEN SMOOTHIE

I tossed the following into the Thermomix, but you could also use a blender, nutribullet or similar:

1 cucumber – old fashioned one, so peeled and cut into a few cubes – organic
1 small red apple cut into quarters – organica handful of baby spinach – organic
grated fresh turmeric (about 2cm) – organic so unpeeled
grated fresh ginger (about 2 cm) – organic so unpeeled
juice of 1 homegrown lemon

Blitzed on speed 9 for about 30 seconds, scraped down the inside of the bowl
Added about 200ml of filtered water
Glutamine powder
Maca powder
and blitzed on speed 4 for a couple of seconds to mix only.

Enjoyed it so much.

I haven’t included how much Glutamine or Maca I added as there are different purities so amount depends on this.

Cucumber aids detoxification and also increases alkalinity of the body and more.

Lemon stimulates digestion and aids in detoxification plus much more.

Maca, a superfood, is an adaptogen, so in essence a “regulator” of the body’s hormonal systems and it also supports your immune system. You can read more about Maca here

Glutamine is a non essential amino acid (that can be “conditionally” essential) that has muscle building properties (glutamine is the most abundant amino acid in our muscles), but it is also used to help heal leaky gut. I now know that most of my health problems stemmed from leaky gut and in essence I think I’ve had leaky gut for decades. Read more about Glutamine here

Turmeric-Benefits-Infographic

Ginger is a potent anti-oxidant and is also anti-inflammatory. You can read more about the benefits of ginger here.

Ready for the day …

Our 10 Day Food Detox

20140605-IMG_8096

Detox?  I never believed in doing a detox before, so why now?  People ask me all the time what prompted our drastic change in eating habits and lifestyle, so here it is.

Sunday 27th April 2014 is one Sunday I won’t forget.

Heading out for my weekly Sunday morning “walk and talk” with my soul sister, I decided to test my blood glucose level (BGL).  6 months prior to this I had removed as much processed food from our diet and was trying to eat as organic and free range/grass fed/pastured as possible.  My aim was to improve our health.  We have 2 grand daughters who live in Canada, and I wanted to remain as healthy as I could to enable us to travel and visit them as often as we could.  Over the 6 month period, I had lost about 3kg but my main health concern was still the debilitating arthritic pain I had to put up with.  Why I decided to test my BGL that day, I’ll never know, but I’ve always trusted my instincts and so I just did.  I had just finished a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and my BGL was 6mmol/L which did not concern me too much as there is plenty of fructose in orange juice.  My husband who was standing by watching, and forever the skeptic, decided that he wanted to know what his BGL was too.  Horror of all horrors, his was a fasting level and it was 8.2mmol/L!  There and then we decided that it was all systems go, from zero to hero, starting immediately.  I had been reading the 10-Day Detox Diet by Mark Hyman, but had been a bit skeptical about how it could work so quickly.  Now there was a definite need to try something drastic straight away and so there was no transition.  I purged the fridge, purged the pantry, bought our own glucometer and test strips, an iHealth fancy scale and we started the same day!  The last thing I wanted was for my husband to be on medication as I was very aware of all the potential side effects.  We were going to conquer this health challenge and hopefully beat it.

And so we began what has now become our new lifestyle.

Although this is called a detox, it is important to realize that it is a FOOD detox.  It is not a lemon and water cleansing detox, liquid only, starvation diet.  The body is detoxed of all processed food, wheat/gluten, obviously sugar, soy, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. All of these foodstuffs have the potential to cause many different disease states mainly due to their inflammatory properties, so by eliminating them we reduce inflammation, kick start the body’s hormones to work as they should and hopefully fix the problem!  In modern technological terms we were about to “restore our factory settings”!  Everybody who completes the 10 day detox feels so much better that they hopefully carry on eating as close to how they did during the detox for ever after! Well this is what the book claims, so we were hopeful.

This is it in a nutshell.  If you are interested in the science behind everything, there are 3 books I have read by Dr Mark Hyman where everything is discussed in detail.  I bought The Blood Sugar Solution and The Blood Sugar Solution Cook Book on iBooks and The Blood Sugar Solution 10-Day Detox Diet on Amazon.  Mark Hyman has a website where you can request journal sheets, how to work with your doctor, etc, so have a look here when you get the chance.   Mark Hyman is a functional medical doctor as opposed to most GP’s who practice conventional medicine.  Functional medical doctors treat the system, not the symptom thereby creating health and a happy person, allowing weight loss to follow naturally once all the body’s systems are working as they should.

Unfortunately “everything in moderation”, which is a typical food industry slogan, has failed abysmally in the prevention of disease and obesity.  The food industry only want you to buy their food, so they have chemically manipulated products in order to make us biologically addicted and the most addictive thing appears to be the sugar!  So as an unsuspecting customer you want more and more sugar, so definitely not in moderation and so the avalanche of a host of imbalances arises in the body which leads to disease state after disease state…. Think of it like expecting a cocaine addict to be happy with a little bit every day….

So Dr Hyman claims that the 10 day detox is enough time to reset all your hormones and make you healthy and happy (most, if not all of the hormones in your body are controlled by insulin to a certain degree) and get you off biologically addicted foodstuffs that the food industry want you to eat to keep them rich, while the pharmaceutical companies wish to keep you dependent on medication.

The 10 day detox is successful if you do it the right way.  You will reset your biology very quickly and by eating the right food at the right times, made properly from real food so it is delicious, you won’t be hungry and you will see results.  His website gives you tools to use for journaling and he also tells you what supplements you should use.  The change in how you feel will usually be accompanied by a change in eating patterns and behaviour which is what is needed to keep you on this path.  Just like disease is contagious, health is also contagious.  I know that where I work the girls will say to me, “there is food on the back table, but we know you won’t eat it”…hopefully they too will eat less and less of the junk they call food.  If you want to be healthy and lose weight, it is also easier to succeed if you don’t do it alone.  Doing it with someone or as part of a group doubles your success rate.

So this is what we did:

OUT WITH THE BAD

  • All sugar products or anything containing sugar such as honey, agave…soft drinks, bottled teas, fruit juice, sports drinks as well as ALL diet drinks
  • gluten and grains (wheat, rye, barley, spelt and oats)
  • dairy (milk, yoghurt, cheese, ice cream, butter, cream, casein)
  • beans, any type (they ferment in your gut and this causes inflammation…) and legumes (except green beans)
  • all soy and soy products
  • all processed and factory made foods
  • all refined and processed vegetable oils
  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • any stimulants or sedatives unless you are on regular medication…
  • if you are a smoker of course you should stop but this may not be the time..overcome one addiction at a time
  • media overload, phones, texting, internet, television, social media…
  • eating dinner less than 3 hours before bed

IN WITH THE GOOD

Your body needs to heal, detoxify, and shed excess weight.  The combination of foods and lifestyle changes is designed to work synergistically to help “restore your factory settings” .  You add in potent healing and detoxing elements.

  • Foods that boost detox pathways – foods rich in B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants and phytonutrients that are naturally found in BOK CHOY, BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CABBAGE, CAULIFLOWER, CAYENNE PEPPER, CILANTRO, GARLIC, GINGER, KALE, LEMON, ONION, PARSLEY, ROSEMARY, WATERCRESS AND SEA VEGETABLES (IF YOU CAN FIND THEM) LIKE KOMBU.  EGGS are not a plant but contain detoxifying nutrients and sulfur.
  • foods that reduce inflammation – inflammation is your body’s normal reaction to fighting off bacteria or healing an infection.  We usually don’t know when we have an inflamed (or leaky) gut but it is your immune system fighting off stress, bad food, allergens, etc in your gut. Anything that causes inflammation will also cause insulin resistance and insulin resistance makes your body generate belly fat and hold on to your spare tyre. So we need foods that will reduce inflammation. (foods that CAUSE the inflammation are sugar, refined carbs, tran fats, excess omega 6 fats from processed plant/vegetable oils, ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS, msg, gluten, grains and dairy).  Foods that are rich in omega 3 fats such as SALMON, omega 3 rich EGGS, GRASS FED BEEF, CHIA SEEDS, HEMP SEEDS, FLAX SEEDS, WALNUTS… Spices that are anti-inflammatory include TURMERIC. Other foodstuffs that reduce inflammation are BERRIES, DARK GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES, EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, HEALTHY FATS FOUND IN NUTS AND AVOCADO as well as HIGH QUALITY PROTEIN, LIKE ORGANIC POULTRY AND WILD SEAFOOD.
  • foods that improve gut function – we need good bugs in our digestive system to stay healthy.  Eating junk causes bad bugs to grow and thrive and they produce toxins and gas that cause inflammation, weight gain, bloated tummy, etc.When you eat the wrong food, you create a harmful imbalance that damages your gut lining, creating a leaky gut.  Partially digested food particles and microbial toxins then leak across your gut triggering an inflammatory response as they are foreign substances.  The inflammation in turn damages your metabolism, affects how your brain controls appetite and creates insulin resistance and WEIGHT GAIN! It is essential to follow the whole-food, high fibre, low starch and low sugar diet that this detox is based on to starve the bad bugs and feed the good bugs. PUMPKIN SEEDS, BOK CHOY, KALE, TOMATOES, CARROTS, CHICKEN, TURKEY, SALMON, ONIONS AND PARSLEY all improve gut function.
  • foods that balance blood sugar – PROTEIN IS KEY FOR BALANCING YOUR BLOOD SUGAR.  Include some form of lean, preferably organic or grass fed animal protein with delicious vegetables or salad.
  • exercise – begin each day with a 30 minute walk – exercise reduces craving and regulates appetite, improves insulin sensitivity, boosts your mitochondria and metabolism, mobilizes detox pathways, reduces cortisol (the stress hormone that causes belly fat), reduces inflammation and promotes better sleep. If you already go to the gym or do another form of exercise, continue with this but restrict cardio to a maximum of 30 minutes at a time (cardio for 40 minutes and more increases your levels of cortisol which increases insulin resistance and this leads to fat storage)
  • supplements – this creates lots of confusion – vitamins and minerals are not drugs and don’t work like drugs, but they are essential to ensure every chemical reaction in our body happens so that our bodies functions properly.  Each reaction requires a catalyst (enzyme) and each catalyst has a helper (coenzyme). Vitamins and minerals are these helpers. Regarding weight loss –  nutrients play a critical role. You burn calories better, your appetite is regulated, inflammation is lowered, detoxification is boosted, digestion aided, stress hormones regulated and you cells become more insulin sensitive. The food we eat today is not as nutrient dense as food was 50 years ago.  Soils have been depleted of minerals and even if we eat organic, when our bodies are detoxing they usually need a little help.
  • hydration – drink drink drink – plenty of water – 2.2litres for females, 2.8litres for males
  • journaling – write down what you eat and how you feel
  • relaxation – this is essential. Stress increases your levels of insulin, cytokines (causing inflammation) and cortisol (causing belly fat).  Stress also increases your appetite and your carb and sugar cravings, triggering the metabolic dysfunction that leads to weight gain. A DETOX BATH helps de-stress your nervous system.
  • Rhythm – get your rhythm back by getting your timing right, what time you wake up, what time you go to sleep, meal times, the time you take to eat, the time you exercise and the time you relax…get it right!  Don’t skip meals, don’t eat late, and most important don’t skip breakfast. DON’T EAT LESS THAN 3 HOURS BEFORE BEDTIME.
  • Sleep – is absolutely essential. If you deprive your body of sleep, it increases levels of the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and suppresses the appetite-controlling hormone leptin.  Sleep is a natural appetite suppressant, especially when it comes to sugar.
  • 5 DEEP BREATHS 5 TIMES A DAY – 5 deep breaths in and out – do this on waking up, before breakfast, lunch and dinner and at bedtime. The trigger for relaxation response is your breath…when you take a deep breath you stimulate the vagus nerve, which runs from your brain through your chest cavity into all your organs. Your immune cells, your stem cells, and all other organs and tissues in your body are connected to this nerve.  Stimulating the vagus nerve signals the production of hormones that calm your nervous system, reduce cortisol, help you metabolize your food, boost your brain function and naturally regulate your appetite.  Simply by breathing deeply and activating the vagus nerve, your body starts to boost metabolism and increase fat burning.
  • This is what your vagus nerve triggers when you stimulate it:
  1. reduced appetite and food intake
  2. reduced rate of turning food into fat
  3. increased metabolism and energy expenditure
  4. increased fat burning in your cells
  5. reduced appetite-stimulating hormones
  6. improved insulin sensitivity
  7. reduced inflammation
  8. increased number of and connections between your brain cells
  9. reduced body weight….

20140820-_MG_6298-2

All of this is straight out of the book.  I am not a medical doctor, but I have taken control of our health and have experienced the most remarkable success in improving my health (and that of my husband) by knowing exactly what we eat at all times.  There is lots more to come…