The Ultimate Probiotics: homemade coconut kefir

Alternate title: healing your gut, one step at a time

1. rid the gut of fungus (candida) or bacterial overgrowth (H Pylori) that cause GERD, ulcers, bloated stomach, IBS, etc.

2. get off grains for a few weeks (GAPS diet or Paleo diet)

3. get off sugar. Small amounts of raw honey, maple syrup, and stevia are your friends.

4. bring on the Probiotics. Look for the best complex strains and take them morning and night. Or, make your own kefir and nibble of few tablespoons morning and night. Here’s how to make it on your own:

Purchase kefir “grains” in the refrigerator near dairy products at a health food store.
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Mix about 2 TB with a can of coconut milk into jar and stir with plastic or wood~ NOT metal (grains react to metal). Put a cloth and rubber band over the opening of the jar so it can breath. Place in the warmest place in your home, or kitchen countertop.

After 12 hours or so, give it a gentle swirl or stir with a spoon. Let it hang out for another 12 to 24 hours until nice thick curds begin to form.

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Place in the refrigerator and eat over the next few days. The refrigerator stops the growth of new curds, but it will thicken into a heavenly, creamy, tangy “yogurt”.

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Save some of the biggest curds from that batch, about 3 TBS worth, and place in new jar, with new can of coconut milk, onto countertop for 24-36 hours. I also add 1 TB of starter grain, because I want every batch to be loaded with healing potential!

You can mix a few TBS with fruit, for a great treat.
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Why is kefir so great? Why eat lots of probiotics? Because they create the GOOD bacteria in your gut, which need to be in big supply to rebuild and fight off bad bacterias causing IBS. Here’s a quote from Mark Hyman, my favorite Functional Medicine Doctor!

…”what causes bad bacterial overgrowth? Too many antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin or Advil, steroids, intestinal infections, a low-fiber, high-sugar diet, alcohol, and more – your immune system will be exposed to foreign particles from food and bacteria and other microbes. This will trigger and activate immune response, allergy, and will irritate your second brain (the enteric nervous system) creating havoc that leads to an irritable bowel, an irritable brain, and other system wide problems including allergy, arthritis, autoimmunity, mood disorders, and more.”

Kefir is my favorite addition to the Paleo diet I’ve taken up– to heal my gut, and go for optimum health at 50!

enjoy health

3 Steps to Disconnecting from Our Phones and Reconnecting with our Teens

From Brainstorm, by Dan Siegel~a positive examination of the teenage brain~

January 10, 2014 Mental Health, Mindfulness, Parenting

“These days it’s hard to hang out with parents of teenagers without hearing disparaging comments about how digital devices are devouring our kids’ time and attention. Or how our driving adolescents are driving us mad when they text on the highway, risking life and limb for the sake of a quick LOL or WITW or OMG. All for the sake of what (SOW? I don’t think that one will catch on)? If I hadn’t myself sometimes fought the urge to check my own phone in response to that tempting buzzing sound, I’d find this pattern of repeated dangerous behavior something unique to the teen years.

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The media is filled with concerning comments about the need for curbing how much time is spent interacting with smartphones, tablets, and computers. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s seen a young parent text for blocks with their infant in their arms. Or been in an elevator full of people who, instead of engaging in the informal conversations that connect us to each other in community, are each on their gadgets, typing furiously away.

One thing that emerges from the scientific framework of interpersonal neurobiology that I work in as a psychiatrist and educator is that our self, our mind, is not only a product of our body and its nervous system, including the brain, but it is also a relational process. What this means is that we are not only shaped by what our brain does, but we are created by our relationships.

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Relationships can be defined by how we share information with one another. And that exchange of information is a two-way street.

One of the experiences that may arise from texting, for example, is a sense of connection with others, a sense of being seen, and even a sense of defining who we are. We are certainly shaped by our relationships—even through our social media accounts—giving us a sense of not being alone in the world.

And even more to the point, these communications reveal how our sense of identity can be created by our connections.

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As a father, I have found it an exciting and sometimes overwhelming challenge to weave the studies of development—how we become who we are—with parenting practices in our home. When our kids were younger, my wife and I decided to try to walk the talk by engaging in what I call reflective dialogues, conversations that focus on the inner nature of our mental lives. This means in our conversations we SIFT our experience by exploring four things that are the life of the mind beneath behavior:

Sensations

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Feelings, and

Thoughts.

Too often I have found, both with friends and with patients, that the inner mental life becomes lost amidst a bombardment of external information.

The Internet can contribute to this surface attention as it often distracts us from going deeper with each other in real time, focusing instead on one-way visual and auditory inputs that have a sense of being never-ending. If we’re not careful, these kinds of surface streams of stimuli can give us a sense of never being done, never being complete, never having accomplished something that is finished. We feel bad, and we are left empty at the surface.

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With such a clear vision from modern science, what can we do to make life on the road safer, and life at home in the face of the lure of the Internet more connecting? Here are three simple solutions:

1. Engage your own “mindsight” circuits.

When we SIFT the mind, we engage the “mindsight” circuits that support how we have insight into our own inner lives, and empathy for the inner experience of others. Mindsight is something that can give us a deeper sense of knowing others, and of knowing ourselves. It helps to begin with yourself, to know your own inner world, so that you begin with making sense of your inner life.

2. Turn off the gadget and turn toward each other.

When we engage with others in reflective dialogues, including with friends and family, we are making time to explore the inner life of each person, to share the SIFTing of our minds, and to find meaning in the connection. That’s a conversation between two people, an interactive experience that goes beneath the surface to illuminate the inner life of the mind.

3. Focus on reflective dialogues with those around you.

What we focus our attention on shapes the brain. Science would support the view that if we can have more reflective dialogues that engage our mindsight circuitry, we’ll have a deeper sense of who we are. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have developed an inner sense of clarity that will make it more likely we won’t be so desperate to respond to that phone call or that text while barreling down the road. That would be a great change for everyone.

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by Dan Siegel

Donuts for Athletes

Are you an athlete? Are you eating Paleo? Are you on a healing diet, avoiding trigger foods? Do you love a good donut? Well…

…hats off to PJ over at XGym, where his group creates recipes for serious athletes~who enjoy a tasty treat as much as the rest of us!

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Here we have a high-powering donut for athletes, slightly adapted with Healthy Baking Principles: high protein, slow carbohydrate, and low glycemic.

Mix together in a bowl:

2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2c coconut flour
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup liquid coconut oil (expeller pressed)
2 tablespoons vanilla or 10 drops vanilla stevia
4 eggs
1/4 c cacao powder
4 minutes in mini cake cooker
Here’s our brand-spanking new toy to cook them in:

We dig the $15 dollar mini donut maker from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Drizzle on a tasty glaze of equal parts of butter, cocoa powder, and honey.

My teenage son, on a daily regime of weight-lifting and rock climbing–deprived of sugary treats in the house anymore–LOVES to make and wolf these down, 1/2 dozen at a time.
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Enjoy health.

Get Your Gut in Gear

Unknown-2So as I continue my research for optimum health at 50, I’ve rediscovered Donna Gates. The Body Ecology Diet was the first of its kind—sugar-free, gluten-free, casein-free, and probiotic rich. In 1994, Donna introduced the latent hippie world to the natural sweetener stevia. She touted coconut oil, when everyone else thought it was an evil fat. She conveyed the value of fermented foods, and coined the phrase “inner ecosystem” to describe the network of microbes that maintains our basic physiological processes—from digestion to immunity. This is like, 25 years ago!

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Donna Gates was a lone voice in a world skeptical of her use of coconut oil, fermented foods, or homemade yogurt to reclaim health. Think of all the trouble I could have saved myself if I’d just listened to her all those years ago. Donna’s groundbreaking work has been instrumental in transforming the natural foods industry!

(Actually I did try her B.E.D. protocol, and made my own kefir back in 1993, but used milk. That was before I knew I had a dairy intolerance. Talk about the opposite of a healing response, oy).

In particular, one of the cool things she is trying to bring into current awareness, is that she believes gut health can heal diabetes. Or prevent it from happening. Although diabetes may seem like a complicated illness, one factor could make or break your risk of developing the disease– is regular healthy doses of probiotics. 

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Apparently, the type of bacteria in your gut can influence a number of common diseases related to inflammation, high blood pressure, and obesity. Making simple changes to your diet can improve your gut health to fight autoimmune responses associated with diabetes!

According to research, your gut bacteria are the most accurate predictors for obesity compared to any other risk factors found in your genetic pool. On top of that, hormones that control blood sugar and immune response are also regulated by bacteria living in the digestive tract. What?!

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Two Gut Ecology Guidelines to Remember

From the Body Ecology website:

To put it all in perspective, it helps to remember two principles about your gut ecology:

  1. Bacteria found in your gut can influence common diseases related to obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure.
  2. The foods that you eat either nourish your gut bacteria–or kill it off. Leaving the bad bacteria. And your susceptibility to many dire health problems (I, for example, ended up with 2 mild, but IBS-activating bugs: H pylori and Candida).

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You can support your inner ecology by enjoying cultured vegetables and probiotic beverages or homemade yogurt at each meal. I can’t tolerate dairy yet, so I use coconut milk and am eating rich, coconut kefir daily. Fermented foods help to inoculate the gut with friendly bacteria to keep your inner ecosystem robust and strong–maximizing its zest to effect all of your healing power.

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Doesn’t it make you want to try fermented foods and kefir everyday –and see what happens?

Enjoy health.

Can You Heal AutoImmune Diseases With Paleo Diet?

How does the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol support healing?

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From The AutoImmune Paleo Cookbook:

Author: It has been shown recently in studies that all autoimmune diseases have one thing in common – intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut. When the gut lining becomes permeable, undigested particles of food, toxins, and pathogens are let into the bloodstream, thereby triggering the immune system. All of the foods avoided on the autoimmune protocol are those that have been shown to exacerbate leaky gut, and strict avoidance gives it a chance to heal.

Mickey Trescott, is the forerunner and terrific author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, and the blog Autoimmune-Paleo.com. Mickey has taken a gigantic flow of information and prudently condensed in into a definitive guide, The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.

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Interested in trying to heal through food, verses seeing a doctor for medicine that may never help? Try The Autoimmune Paleo Protocol:
Strictly avoid:
  • Grains
  • Beans and legumes
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, eggplant, potatoes)
  • Food chemicals and non-nutritive sweeteners, including stevia
  • Alcohol
  • NSAIDs (Ibuprofren, Advil, etc)

Eat Plenty of these:

  • Pastured meats like beef, chicken, turkey, lamb, duck, and bison
  • Bone broth and organ meats from pastured animals
  • Wild-caught fish and shellfish
  • Animal fats from pastured animals
  • Tropical oils like coconut and red palm
  • Olive oil and avocado oil (for cold applications)
  • Any fruit (except ground cherries and tomatoes, which are nightshades)
  • Any vegetable (except nightshades, denoted above), especially leafy green veggies, roots and tubers
  • Herbs and spices that are not seeds or nightshades, like thyme, rosemary, turmeric, garlic, ginger, etc.
  • Coconut flakes and coconut butter
  • Vinegars, like apple cider, ume plum
  • Fermented foods like saurkraut, kombucha and water kefir

Besides eggs, and grassfed butter,which I eat tons of and believe are Super Foods for my body, I am currently on this protocol. So far, my skin has cleared up, some of my brain fog, some of my memory is back, my digestion is going great, and I am enjoying increased energy. Hallelujah. I’m indebted to these forerunners and inspirational women! 

Why Going to A Doctor, May Not Help- with Dr. Mark Hyman

Watch this powerhouse  3 minute clip of Dr Mark Hyman, founder of “Functional Medicine,” who declares 80% of people who go to doctors do not get the cure they need. He is adamant that we must be our own advocates and inform and heal ourselves~with the most Potent Healing Medicine in the world: Food.

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Need to DeTox? Take a Bath

UnknownI am fulfilling a personal goal of collecting potent information on reclaiming optimum health at 50. Along the way, I have discovered many, many natural healing practitioners who tout the healing power of Epsom Salt Baths. Just like the Greeks.

One such healer is Mark Hyman, who has created a delicious concoction to lay your body down in:

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Indulge in a nightly UltraBath of very hot water mixed with 2 cups epsom salts, 1/8 cup baking soda, several drops of lavender or eucalyptus. Soak for 20-25 minutes for complete benefits.

Baths have been used for centuries as a medicinal practice, to heal everything from influenza, to gout, muscle soreness, skins issues, and bad moods. I’ve been amazed at how much an Ultrabath before bed can change the way I feel in the morning.

Dr. Hyman reports this Ultrabath remedy relaxes the nervous system; lowers cortisol and inflammation, promotes weight loss, detoxification, and healing; enhances sleep; increases circulation and heart rate; and lowers blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

Try taking a bath every night for a week, for a painless, soothing way to get some relief.  Enjoy health.

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Become the Lake

A terrible tragedy happened in our small town this past Sunday. A close friend of my husband lost his 17 year-old daughter in a freak, totally unpredictable, car accident. The pain has crushed those closest to her.

It made me reach for this story:

An ageing master grew tired of his apprentice’s complaints. One morning, he sent him to get some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master told him to mix a handful of salt in a glass of water and then drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” said the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put it in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man. At this the master sat beside this serious young man, and explained softly,

“The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains exactly the same. However, the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

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To Paleo, or not to Paleo?

UnknownEating grain-free.

The grain-free diet seems to have become quite popular of late, and many questions have arisen in response.

There are many ways to follow the grain free diet, some mean rice and wheat free, others eliminate even grain-like seeds and grasses such as wild rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet and buckwheat. Nada grain. I’m eating seeds and quinoa.

There are also many names for the grain free diet: some people call it Paleo, others call it the Primal diet, still others use no definition at all. I’ve heard GAPS too (gut and psychology diet), as food and mood are very connected. Take it from Amy over at SIT:

“Living free of refined sugars and gluten since 2004 has allowed me to live a fulfilled, healthy life. My food cravings, migraines, and depression vanished and was able to maintain a 60+ pound weight loss.”

Most bloggers I choose to read, and friends I know who choose to eat Paleo, are doing it for health and emotional reasons. Losing weight is not the goal. Getting away from fatigue and brain fog is. Feeling good, bright, smart, and energized is the new goal!

Another BIG trigger for ill-health is sugar. Gotta kick the habit? Man, I’ve been in denial for years, eating and baking with organic cane sugars and agave like a mad-woman. And battling acne and IBS.

I’ve been gluten free for 10 years, and so letting go of rice was a little hump to get over. Next came giving up sugar. Ack. If you’re  curious about going grain-free and how the hell you will satisfy a sugar tooth, you’re not alone.

However, the day I pulled out my first chocolate cake baked with Healthy Baking Principles, I literally jumped around the kitchen doing the happy dance. I had found alternatives that made sweets that tasted SO great, and were actually good for me!

Onward with recipes: I will post all of my favorite grain-free, dairy-free, refined-sugar-free baking recipes in Living Healthy for you to peruse. Cakes, donuts, cookies, muffins~ baked with principles that keep metabolism high, glycemic sugars LOW, and bodies nourished

Great Breakfast Muffin:

Fruity Flaxy Muffins:

1 1/2 cup almond flour

1 1/4 cup flax (toasted, ground, organic)

1 cup coconut sugar

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder (aluminum free)

1 1/2 Himalayan salt

1 TB cinnamon

Stir all dry ingredients together:

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Cuisine art pulse:

2 apples

3 large carrots

Add to mix:

1/2 cup non-candied dried cranberries

3/4 Cup organic soy or coconut milk

1/4 melted coconut oil

4 eggs

1 TB vanilla, or 12 drop Vanilla Stevia

Mix everything together well. Not too think, not too thick. Drop into muffin cups and cook for 30 minutes on 350 degrees. Perfect start to the morning!

Enjoy health.