The health of your gut depends on these!

Carolina Style Slaw

Hello everyone,

These last several weeks have been so interesting getting to talk with so many of you about the health of your gut!

The more you know, the healthier you’ll be. However, just knowing doesn’t solve all the problems. Part of the equation is implantation or action.

I am a perfect example of knowing things and not necessarily taking quick action. On some things yes and others, I tend to drag my feet or wait until I have all my “ducks in a row.” Can any of you relate?

Why is that? I mean, if we know something is really good for us and it’s proven to work, why don’t we always do it? Why do we humans tend to take the long way around things?

The irony is that we often come back around to what we know we should be doing in the first place. We could have not taken up so much time if we just would have taken action in the first place.

The good news is this. You can jump on board when you are ready. Just don’t waste too much time getting around to it or lining up those “ducks.”

Since I have a passion for making and consuming fermented foods, I thought I’d share some history that I found fascinating and along with that some benefits and why you should be consuming these incredible healing foods. So let’s dive in, shall we?

What are Fermented Foods?

Let’s first look at todays’ foods. Most of today’s pickles and sauerkraut are made with vinegar instead of the traditional method of lacto-fermentation using salt and/or whey. Bread and pasta are made with commercial yeast instead of being naturally leavened with wild yeast as in a real sourdough. Wine, beer and cheeses are pasteurized, which kills off all the good bacteria we so desperately need to maintain health.

There are many advantages to going back to the traditional ways of our ancestors, and eating more fermented foods. And no they aren’t scary or hurt you.

Let’s now look at our history. Humans all over the world have been fermenting food since ancient times. The earliest evidence of winemaking dates back to eight thousand years ago in the Caucasus area of Georgia. Seven-thousand-year-old jars which once contained wine were excavated in the Zagros Mountains in Iran. There is evidence that people were making fermented beverages in Babylon around 5000 BC, ancient Egypt circa 3150 BC, pre-Hispanic Mexico circa 2000 BC, and Sudan circa 1500 BC. There is also evidence of leavened bread in ancient Egypt dating back to 1500 BC and of milk fermentation in Babylon circa 3000 BC.

“In the normal scheme of things, we’d never have to think twice about replenishing the bacteria that allow us to digest food. But since we’re living with antibiotic drugs and chlorinated water and antibacterial soap and all these factors in our contemporary lives that I’d group together as a ‘war on bacteria,’ if we fail to replenish [good bacteria], we won’t effectively get nutrients out of the food we’re eating.” – Sandor Katz

Benefits of Eating Fermented Foods

Improves Digestion – Fermenting our foods before we eat them is like partially digesting them before we eat or drink them. Sometimes people who can’t tolerate milk can eat yogurt or consume kefir. That’s because the lactose (which is usually the part people can’t tolerate) in milk is broken down as the milk is fermented and turns into yogurt and kefir.

Adding Good Bacteria to Your Gut – Fermented foods restore the proper balance of bacteria in the gut. If you have issues with lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), yeast infections, allergies, or asthma, all of these conditions have been linked to a lack of good bacteria in the gut.

Boost Enzymes – Eating raw, fermented foods are rich in enzymes. Your body needs enzymes to adequately digest, absorb, and utilize the nutrients in your food. As you age, your body’s production of enzymes goes down.

Increase Vitamins – Fermenting food actually increases the vitamin content. Fermented dairy products show an increased level of folic acid which is critical to producing healthy babies as well as B vitamins, riboflavin and biotin depending on the strains of bacteria present.

Better Absorption – Eating fermented food helps us to absorb the nutrients we’re consuming. You can ingest huge amounts of nutrients, but unless you actually absorb them, they’re useless to you. When you improve digestion, you improve absorption.

Better Preservation – Fermenting food helps to preserve it for longer periods of time. Have you ever noticed how forgotten milk gets sour and rancid pretty quickly? But kefir and yogurt last a lot longer. Sauerkraut, pickles and salsa will keep for months. And if you’ve got a huge batch of produce in your garden that you don’t know how to use up — ferment it!

Cost Effective – If you were to start experimenting with fermenting, you’ll find that you don’t need any fancy or expensive equipment. The food types that you can use in fermented are usually not expensive, especially if you’re able to grow many of them yourself or someone you know.

Chock full of Flavor – Fermenting food increases the flavor. Just think of the last time you ate some great cheese or drank a nice glass of wine, you did this because they taste good. We’ve also grown up with sauerkraut as a favorite hot dog condiment or roast pork and sauerkraut for New Year’s Day for good luck.

Here are some good ways to incorporate more fermented foods into your diet

1. Eat real sourdough bread (you don’t want commercial breads made with yeast)

2. Drink fermented beverages like kombucha, kefir, or kefir soda to name a few.

3. Eat fermented veggies and fruits, like pickles, sauerkraut, salsa, and kimchi and don’t forget about fermented condiments, like mayonnaise, ketchup, sour cream, crème fraiche, and the like.

All of these things can be made at home or purchased from someone you know. They are often also available at Health Food stores.

If you’re like me and want to experiment, there are lots of ways to do so. Things like kefir ice cream, crackers that are actually made with sourdough, fermented coconut water and milk. There are fermented wines to be made and also mead which is a wine made from honey.

I often make breakfast cereals from kefir and soaked oats or smoothies from kefir. I also make a mean applesauce as well as several varieties of veggies, slaws and krauts. The ideas are endless.

No more excuses for not getting your ferments in daily.

What’s been your experience with fermented foods and/or drinks? Leave your comments below.

To your health,

Kellie

Holistic Health Coach

PS: Have questions, hit the Let’s Talk Button and ask away or schedule some time with me to get them answered. I consider no question a dumb question only a smart one!

 

What’s your gut say about you?

Ferments

 

When I ask you the question, what’s your gut say about you? What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Perhaps it’s something like, it’s always bloated, or I have gas a lot, or I seem to catch all the bugs going around.

Does any of this sound familiar? Have you heard that anywhere from 70-80% of your immune system comes from the health of your gut? This is why in some circles it’s referred to as your second brain.

There is so much going on inside our gut, it’s like a little city all of its own. It’s actually quite amazing. I read an interesting take on our immune system from my friend Wardeh that I thought I’d share because it helps put this into an easy to understand perspective.

A layer of bacteria protects the gut wall, also known as the digestive tract. In a healthy adult, that bacteria weighs between 2 and 4 ½ pounds. This is the heart of the immune system and here’s why.

Think of the digestive tract like a pasture. The gut wall itself is the soil. The beneficial bacteria that reside there are the various grasses, herbs and legumes covering the soil. These plants, a highly organized system, act as protection against invasion and erosion. There are some opportunistic plants in the pasture too, as well as various passerby floating in the wind, but the healthy plants keep everything at bay and tightly regulated by out-competing it all.

However, if the beneficial plants in this pasture are damaged, the soil will be exposed to anything else that comes along and takes root, such as a virus, fungus, pathogen, or toxin. Over time, further erosion and stripping occurs. Eventually, the enemy invaders may take over completely. They will continue damaging the soil, sucking up nutrients and spreading disease.

Remember, this analogy is about the gut and the microbial population. But don’t think for a second that what happens there is isolated. No, our overall health is intimately tied to this balance of organisms. When the good buys are in charge, they facilitate efficient absorption of nutrients from food. They neutralize potential toxins and anti-nutrients. They produce antibiotic, anti-tumor, anti-viral, and anti-fungal substances. And certainly not last or least, the acids they give off make the gut all an uncomfortably acidic place for pathogens.

There is so much evidence that suggests that compromised gut health leads to development of food allergies, sensitivities and intolerances. There are many others, including myself that believe that good gut health can improve these conditions, as well as reverse or significantly improve diseases such as depression, autism, dyslexia and other mental diseases.

This circles back to my belief in eating or consuming fermented foods and beverages daily as a way to supply our bodies with beneficial organisms to keep the health of our gut running smoothly. When our gut works optimally, it has the ability to nourish the rest of our body, which also includes the immune system.

The end result in this…..your immune system relies on the health of your gut. How healthy is yours?

I mentioned fermented foods and beverages as some of the sources for helping your gut stay healthy or if already compromised, help heal it or greatly improve it.

My love for fermented foods came about as an experiment really. The more I’ve dabbled in and taught classes of how to, the more I truly love the magnificent abilities that these foods have.

Not only is it a way to be super-efficient with our resources, saves time and money, but it has the ability to give so much more! Not only the pure pleasure of eating or drinking them, but the art and craft of preparing them.

Have you tried any fermented foods or consumed any fermented drinks? If so, what was your experience? Share below. I can’t wait to read your comments.

Here’s to abundant health,

Kellie

Heal thyself….how important is this to you?

Yoga and fitness

Have you ever asked yourself what it would feel like to be pain free, have an abundance of energy, be at optimal weight and not have all the stress that comes with not feeling well?

I have and that’s why it’s been on my heart to share the information that I know regarding our amazing body’s ability to heal itself.

When you allow the body to be free of all the “junk” that we are told is good for us by the “food” industry and the “big ag” industry and supply our bodies with good wholesome nutrients, it’s really amazing how the body knows what to do.

It’s not my accident, it’s purely by design. I’ve often thought about an architect and their abilities. They envision what something will look like in their mind and then design the outcome. I believe our bodies were created in much the same way.

Everything is “designed” to work seamlessly together and it doesn’t let us down unless we let it down. Do you understand what I mean by that?

For example: when I eat foods that I don’t normally eat, like commercial potato chips and overly processed foods that are either greasy or sugar laden, I know it. Why? Because my body wasn’t designed to be fed these things and it’s objecting to the fuel source.

Another way to think about this is to think about your car. It has an engine that obviously makes it run, whether it’s fueled by fuels or electricity, it still needs fed. So if you a put in the wrong kind of fuel, it’s not going to perform as you’d like it to.

Yet another way to think about this is the fuel filter in your car. The purpose is to filter out all the dirt and debris that would otherwise stop your engine from functioning. This is kind of like the purpose of your liver. It’s the filter for our bodies.

So, do you see how if we continually feed ourselves bad fuel, that our liver gets overworked, clogged and overtime our bodies can’t do the functions that they were designed to do?

In other words, it rebels against us. Often times it shows up in the form of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression, auto-immune diseases, arthritis, etc., etc., etc. Do you get the idea?

So, what are you feeding your body? Is it the proper fuel needed for optimal efficiency or are you feeding it cheap fuel that’s just breaking it down over time?

I know it’s not easy to always eat the right things. I’m not perfect either. I love sweets and pizza and my wine and beer. The key really is moderation AND making better choices.

An example, when I make sweets, I use better choices for sweeteners and really reduce the amount of sweet needed to pull it off and still be satisfying. As for pizza, well, yes I sometimes enjoy my favorite pizza place and I buy organic wine and the beer, it’s just nice on a hot summer night after you’ve worked hard all day.

The idea is to not punish yourself. I would love for you to get to the 80-20 place. What do I mean by this? 80% of the time you’re putting in great fuel, no processed foods, sugars and pops, etc. and foods that actually help your body heal, like bone broth, fermented and cultured foods and consuming sourdough breads instead of white and most wheat, as examples.

The other 20% of the time, leaves you open to the human factor, which is we’re all accustomed to eating fast food, buying packaged foods and when you eat out, the food quality isn’t always top notch.

Do you think that if you had a plan to get you to 80% you’d follow it? What if you were recently diagnosed with a serious illness or disease? Do you think you’d be able to ditch all the “crap” you’ve been putting in and seek out the help you need to allow your body to start healing itself?

If this interests you, I’d love to hear from you, as I have solutions and my kitchen is brimming with healing foods. Use the contact me box on this page and I’ll get back with you soon. Please feel free to share this as well. We’re here together.

I’m in this for you and your health and I have soooo much to share! From my kitchen to yours!

Kellie

Do you believe foods can heal?

Inflammation

I’m so glad you’re here. Last week I introduced the inflammation concept. Inflammation is both a great healing part of the body, it’s the body’s immune response and without it, we couldn’t heal. And it can also be a detriment to our bodies if left unchecked and out of control, as in rheumatoid arthritis, it can damage our bodies. Plus, it really is thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease and cancer.

If you didn’t get the chance to read it, I highly suggest you do. It gives a pretty straightforward outline of the roles inflammation plays.

This week, I thought I’d introduce some of the best foods for fighting inflammation. You might be saying, why food, why wouldn’t I just take some supplements or pharmaceutical drugs to combat this? Well, my answer would be that I personally know and believe that foods can and do heal our bodies.

So lets’ begin this food journey….see how many of these things you can incorporate on a daily basis.

Salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines (often called oily fish) are especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are shown to reduce inflammation. To really reap the benefits, we need to eat fish several times a week and obviously baked or boiled vs. fried.

I personally love fish, but one of daughter’s just doesn’t like fish and you may be like her. My suggestion is then to consume a high quality fish-oil supplement.

Another food that’s great for fighting inflammation is whole grains and that’s because whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C – reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less added sugar as opposed to refined, white bread, cereals, pastas and rice.

Just a quick side note about grains, remember that preparation is just as important. They need to be soaked before they are consumed. I’ll share more on this topic in another article.

Vitamin E studies have shown it may play a major role in protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules call cytokines. Dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach, broccoli and collard greens are great examples. These same greens are also higher in vitamins and minerals, like calcium, iron and phytochemicals that fight disease.

Nuts are another great source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats, especially almonds. They are high in fiber, calcium and vitamin E and don’t forget about walnuts, which have high amounts of alpha-linoleic acid, which is a type of omega-3 fat. If we speak about antioxidants, all nuts rank high, which help your body fight off and repair the damage that’s caused by inflammation. Make sure you soak these before consuming. Here’s a great how to.

Earlier I mentioned colorful vegetables as being a healthier addition, but what I didn’t mention was peppers, which are also known as nightshade vegetables. Some say this bothers those with rheumatoid arthritis, others don’t see any problem. This is where it’s important to pay attention to how your body reacts to specific foods. Hot peppers are really rich in capsaicin, which is a chemical that’s often used in creams that reduce pain and inflammation.

Tomatoes are high in lycopene, which helps to reduce inflammation in the lungs and throughout your body. Did you know that when you cook tomatoes, they have more lycopene than raw tomatoes? These are also considered nightshade vegetables.

Beets are other really bright colored vegetables. Most of the time, they are red, my favorite color. Remember we said colorful vegetables are higher in antioxidants. They have also been shown to protect us from cancer and heart disease. They are also high in fiber, vitamin c and plant pigments called betalains.

You can eat these, cooked, fermented or think Beet Kvass, yum!

Who loves garlic and onions? Me and probably you too! Did you know that in studies, garlic has been shown to work like NSAID pain relievers like ibuprofen, which is often prescribed for inflammation. Onions have similar anti-inflammatory chemicals, including the phytonutrient quercetin and the compound allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfonic acid.

There are also some spices that work incredibly well, like ginger and turmeric, which are really common in Asian and Indian cooking. Turmeric, think bright yellow curry, works in the body by helping it turn off a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers inflammation. I also mentioned ginger which has also been shown to reduce inflammation in the intestines when it was taken in supplement form. I prefer fresh myself and it’s so easy to incorporate, like in fresh juices and kombucha. Another yum!

Again with the colorful fruits and vegetables, think bright pretty berries. They have really powerful chemicals that give them their bright colors also help fight inflammation. Some of my favorites are blueberries, which help protect against intestinal inflammation, red raspberries have been shown to help with arthritis and strawberries have helped women have lower levels of CRP in their blood.

Let’s not forget a good quality olive oil, which is a plant-based fat. There is a compound called oleocanthal, which is where olive oil gets its taste, also acts similarly as NSAID painkillers in the body, like ibuprofen. I would recommend the extra-virgin kind of olive oil.

The last, and probably my absolute favorite are tart cherries, which have been shown in studies to have the highest anti-inflammatory properties of any food. Athletes often use tart cherry juice to improve their performance and reduce their use of anti-inflammatory pain meds. What I’ve seen recommended is consuming about 1 ½ cups of tart cherries or drinking a cup of tart cherry juice per day to reap the benefits. If you haven’t noticed, I didn’t say sweet cherries; they haven’t gotten the same results as the very delicious tart varieties.

Next week, I’ll share with you some of the worst offenders of the inflammation and why each of them the bad wrap that they do have.

What are some ways that you could incorporate more of the anti-inflammatory foods into your daily food plan? Remember, you can start small, so perhaps it’s just adding one, what would it be?

Until next time, here’s to your health!

Kellie

Deadliest diseases caused by this, do you have it?

Inflammation

 

This is the definition of inflammation, so what exactly is it and is it bad for me? Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard the word inflammation thrown around quite a bit. You might even think it’s a bad thing.

The body truly is a miraculous healer. Inflammation plays a critical role in this manner, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The body does know how to take care of itself.

Things like heart disease, obesity, depression, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, insulin resistance, etc. are all linked to inflammation in some form or other. I get that most people think that it’s really bad right?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s there for a purpose. Have you ever cut your finger or sprained an ankle? What happens? It gets red, swollen, and hot and it hurts right?

What this means is that our body is telling you that it intends to tackle this problem, it intends to take care of the source of pain. All of which is truly magical when you think about it and if you didn’t have the pain indicators, you’d continue to damage your body further and its absolutely necessary for the injury to heal.

Acute inflammation is the initial body reaction to some kind of trauma, like being hit, kicked or cut. There is also infection, sun burns, or skin burns, frostbite, allergic reactions and chemical exposure.

Symptoms of acute inflammation are increased blood flow that causes a warm sensation and it turns red, which brings leukocytes that are like the cleaning crew and oversee the healing process. Swelling typically occurs because extra fluid like plasma and leukocyte is brought in for the cleanup. Pain is another necessary symptom; otherwise you’d likely injure yourself further. Also losing some of your previous functionality happens too, just so you can heal properly.

So, if the body’s natural healing is inflammation how does it also play a role in heart disease, obesity, depression and the other things I mentioned?

When we have constant chronic and systemic inflammation, which is now beyond an acute immediate response and becomes turned on all the time and fully engaged, huge implications and problems happen. The whole process of the inflammatory process is supposed to be short lived, like several days or less. This isn’t obviously meant to be turned on all the time.

A lot of what the healing process is doing is breaking down the tissue and targeting damaged tissues and invading pathogens, before it starts to build it all back up, this same response had the ability to also damage our body. This normal system approach of healing is specific, targeted and short term and for this reason, we don’t want it getting out of hand and targeting healthy tissue, which is exactly what happens when our inflammatory system is turned on all the time.

There are many “stressors” that cause inflammation to get out of hand. Below are some of the problematic causes, which are reason for concern:

  • High sugar, high processed foods, bad fats (highly commercialized), high gluten coming from processed foods
  • High omega-6 and low omega-3 levels. Omega 3 is a really big part of the inflammation response. Our typical diets are typically too high in 6 and not high enough in 3.
  • Poor sleep or lack of sleep is another big problem. You know who you are.
  • Sedentary lives and not enough activity cause low-grade inflammation. We don’t even get out and walk like we should.
  • Chronic exercise also causes inflammation. If you run high mileage, your body is taking a pounding and you become chronically inflamed.
  • Poor gut health is another culprit because up to 80% of our immune system health comes from our gut and this also then control your inflammatory system.
  • Lack of down time and just being outdoors. Have you ever thought about how your senses come alive when you just unplug and enjoy nature?
  • Let’s not forget about stress and chronic stress. We all have some stress, but the real problem arises when we have repeated high, chronic stress with no release or lowering mechanisms in place.

So, I’ll end this segment with this. Now you know what inflammation is, what it does, why you don’t want it long term and what causes it.

In a future article, I’ll share some ways to help your body return to its normal inflammatory response mode and foods that will help this process!

Have you been diagnosed with heart disease, depression, obesity, auto immune or any other chronic illness or disease and what are you doing about it?

To your health,

Kellie