Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Why Does Supporting Farmers Who Care About Soil Conservation Matter?

Most of us take dirt for granted. But we forget that our health and our very survival begins with it. Without it, we have no food. Modern farming methods have destroyed a significant amount of the topsoil in the US, and we continue to lose it at a rate of 1% per year. Some areas in the US have lost 60% of their farmland since just the 1960's. That is a catastrophic rate of loss and it can't be sustained. If it continues, our food will become more scarce and more expensive. Actually, I'm sure you've noticed it already is getting more expensive... Thankfully, a growing number of small family farmers, like the organic growers at Abundant Harvest Organics, care about stewarding their soil for us and the coming generations.

Read this article to learn more:

Friday, February 19, 2016

Where Do I Start? A Guide for the GAPS-Overwhelmed

I've written a post in the past with some tips for the "overwhelmed factor" of the GAPS nutritional protocol. If you are new to GAPS and new to the concept of the gut microbiome as the root of all health (and disease), it can be hard to know where to begin... The amount of lifestyle changes necessary can be staggering.

Below, I've compiled a simple suggested outline for taking the GAPS protocol elements one baby step at a time. Many people can't afford, don't have the time, or just can't get their mind around jumping straight into the full GAPS introduction diet protocol all at once. That's ok! You can take it one step at a time, in manageable pieces. Try adding one element to your regular routine every week or month and gradually work into it. Let your body and "overwhelmed factor" adjust fully before adding the next element.

After three years experience with GAPS, here is the order in which I would recommend doing things, one step at a time:

  1. Start with removing all sugars (cane sugar, agave, artificial substitutes, additives in food, etc) except for a little honey. Remove all gluten. Most people do not tolerate it well. Also try removing dairy for a while. Most people with gut issues have sensitivities to dairy that they aren't aware of. Once you've worked through the diet for a while (at least 3-6 months), you can try adding dairy back in and see how you tolerate it.
  2. Next I would add either probiotic supplements or probiotic foods (lacto-fermented vegetables), or ideally both, very slowly, starting with just a teaspoon per day working up to a 1/4-1/2 cup serving with every meal. Get comfortable with that and let your body adjust.
  3. Then add bone broths, about 4 oz with every meal.
  4. Then remove all grains except brown rice.
  5. Then remove all fruits but continue plenty of vegetables. Stick to vegetables on the GAPS "recommended" list.
  6. Add healthy fats - cold-pressed virgin coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, cod liver oil, and a seed oil blend like Udo's Oil 3-6-9. However much you can afford to do. I take 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) of fermented cod liver oil per day, 1 tablespoon of Udo's Oil per day, and unmeasured amounts of coconut oil (Costco has a great one for $0.25/ounce) in my cooking and baking, and extra virgin olive oil (again, Costco wins with a 2L organic one for $14) as a condiment on soups and salads (it can't be heated). Dr. NCM recommends even greater amounts of certain oils in the beginning, but I simply couldn't afford to do more. You do what you can. It will still benefit you.
  7. Check your vitamin D levels and if they are less than 40 mg/dL, then supplement to get them over 50 consistently. Vit D is probably the most important known nutrient to your body and especially your immune system - it has so many functions, it is the one thing I recommend supplementing with if needed (and most people do need it). Find a whole food source vitamin to take. I have been pleased with Vitamin Code Raw D3.
  8. Once you are comfortable with this for several months, remove ALL grains. Just eat plenty of allowed veggies (about 30 grams total carbs per day), moderate amounts of meat (about 60 grams protein per day) and plenty of healthy fats (in bone broths and meats naturally, and the others I mentioned above, about 1/2 cup per day is about right).
  9. Once you are comfortable with this, get ready to do the GAPS intro protocol. This might take you just a few days or weeks to get through, or it might take several months, depending on how your body responds. You will probably experience some die-off reaction during the intro diet, which means your symptoms might get worse for a week or two before they get better. Plan to start at a time when you are on vacation or have fewer life responsibilities.
  10. Treat infections and/or parasites - consider adding some herbal antibiotics to your regimen (grapefruit seed extract, berberine, oregano oil, olive leaf extract), or pursuing oxidative therapy treatments for a while for Lyme or any other chronic infections. Consider doing a parasite cleanse.
  11. Implement regular detoxification and healing strategies into your regular routine one by one (it took me several years to add various things that I find helpful - some I do daily or weekly, some I only do periodically). Examples: 
    • Do a 24-36 hour fast periodically. Just drink water, bone broth and kraut juice for a day. Fasting helps re-set your immune system and has a radically positive impact on your blood sugar balancing and insulin sensitivity.
    • Consider coffee enemas and/or probiotic retention enemas daily, weekly, or even monthly, depending on how sick you are and what you can tolerate. Also depending on your schedule, as this is time consuming. I do a coffee enema followed by a probiotic enema once per week. Coffee enemas are a powerful liver/bile duct cleanse. I've seen lots of fatty stones come out as a result and noticed significant improvement to my skin and energy level.
    • Get outside regularly for exercise (walking or gardening is fine).
    • Get outside for sunshine regularly without sunscreen (it is healing as well as detoxifying). Sunscreen prevents your skin from being able to perform cancer-protective functions such as vitamin D synthesis. Just stay out until you get slightly pink, then apply aloe vera as needed. Work up to staying out for longer periods of time. The light spectrums in natural sunlight have many beneficial health functions.
    • Take hot bath soaks with epsom salts regularly (the magnesium and sulfur you absorb through your skin is both relaxing and beneficial).
    • Experiment with essential oils and find one or two that are helpful to you. Herbs in all forms are extremely medicinal and soothing. Just do a little research before using them, especially internally, as they can be quite potent or even dangerous if used incorrectly!
    • Take your time to eat properly. Sit down to your meals and chew thoroughly. Don't discuss stressful subjects at the dinner table. Focus on the food and how it tastes. Enjoy your meal!
    • Find simple ways to put your body in relaxation mode regularly. Your body only heals itself when you are parasympathetic-dominant, meaning the opposite of fight-or-flight sympathetic mode. Read a book, lay down and close your eyes for a few minutes, enjoy a cup of tea with a spouse or good friend. One of the simplest ways to put your body in parasympathetic mode is to walk barefoot on the ground, called "earthing" or "grounding". This was super helpful for me (I do it in the garden, wear leather-soled shoes, and sleep with a grounding mat) since my body was initially pumping out adrenaline almost constantly. A number of studies have proven that our body interacts with electrons from the earth and this serves to balance out a number of physiological factors like sympathetic/parasympathetic systems, improving blood viscosity and red blood cell function, etc. Really, the way God made all of creation - earth, food, sun, etc - to serve and bless and heal us is amazing! 
    • When I mention all these things, it might sound like this is a full-time job and must be all I do! But it's not actually... Like I said, many of these things are not daily. I just do them when I can without neglecting the rest of life.
Hopefully this is helpful. Start with item #1 for now and tuck the rest away for later.  Feel free to post your comments or questions!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Abundant Harvest Organics is Coming to Sacramento!

I've mentioned Abundant Harvest Organics before in my posts. They are great option for Californians looking to afford large quantities of organic produce. I'm delighted to have recently become a new Community Host for them in Sacramento, CA! I need to recruit 150 subscribers to bring them to Sac, but I think I can do it! We used to be subscribers with them in Southern California, and loved them. In fact, I'm such a fan of what they do that I contacted them to see what it would take for me to get them to come to Sac so I can get produce from them again! They are a cooperative of local Californian small family farmers seeking to take their organic produce directly to the consumer for comparable to conventional prices. If you live in Sacramento or know someone who does, pass this information on to them and sign up today!