Last week we talked about the importance of protecting your internal rain forest – the microbiome. Below you will find some more specific examples on how to do that. But, isn’t it enough if I just take some probiotic tablets? Doesn’t that take care of things?
Introducing more of the good bacteria into your system aka probiotics, can be a very beneficial thing. However, these probiotics have a very short life span, so it’s not enough just to take a capsule with probiotics. You want to make sure that they survive, and that they can multiply. How do you do that? Feed them the right food, aka prebiotics.
The following are some amazing prebiotics. Try to include as many of them as you can daily andweekly, as they help your good bacteria to live well and do their work. Tomatoes, Radishes, Leeks, Onions, Asparagus, Carrots, Garlic, Jerusalem artichoke
Remove, or avoid as much as possible the following, as they feed the bad bacteria and create an imbalance and inflammation in your gut.
–Processed and Packaged foods
–Hydrogenated and Trans fats (especially fried foods)
No matter what kind of health problem that you may be dealing with, chances are that your internal rain forest, the microbiome, is a major root cause. The microbes in our gut does not only help us with good digestion, they also have a very fast connection to our brain via the Vagus Nerve. This influences how we feel, happy or depressed.
1. the microorganisms in a particular environment (including the body or a part of the body).
“we depend on a vast army of microbes to stay alive: a microbiome that protects us against germs, breaks down food to release energy, and produces vitamins”
2. the combined genetic material of the microorganisms in a particular environment.
“understanding the microbiome—human, animal, and environmental—is as important as the human genome”
Serotonin, the feel good chemical in our body, is to 90% produced in our gut, not in our brain. Bad microbes can give us bad food cravings as they love sugar. These cravings are often so strong they are beyond your self control. No wonder the gut is also being called our second brain.
Unfortunately our own internal microbiome is collapsing more and more. This is due to more pollution around us and poor food choices that does not contain any healthy pro or pre biotics. The worst offenders to stay away from is any kind of hydrogenated oil, fried food, processed food and sugar. These all feed the bad bacteria in the gut and creates a very negative feedback loop.
Instead focus on whole foods, especially fermented foods and raw vegetables. These help to create a healthy microbiome or “rain forest”. Below is a very interesting talk about how the microbiome works and how it can influence us. I hope that you will find it interesting.
Homemade jam is really something delicious, but most people do not have the time to do it themselves. The jams and marmalade that you find in the stores are full of food coloring, aromas, and fillers. And we haven’t even mentioned the different types of sugars and sugar enhancers. Even the organic jams contains A LOT of sugar. That is not ideal when you are trying to minimize the amount of sugar intake in your diet. Never eating jam again doesn’t sound like fun, so what can we do?
Try making this super easy and delicious recipe, with no cooking necessary. It takes all about 5mins to prepare, and then you just have to let it sit in the fridge for about 15min to get to the right consistency. This is also a great way to get kids interested in healthy eating, with minimal effort. For this recipe I chose fresh blueberries, but you could use any berry, fresh or frozen.
Quantities: 250g blueberries 30g/ 3 TBLSP Chia seeds (whole or ground) about 25ml Water (roughly room temperature) A splash of freshly squeezed lemon juice (1tsp) A pinch of good quality sea-salt *Maybe 1 tsp of honey
Basic Method: Wash your berries in water, and let the water run off. I like to grind the chia seeds for a smoother texture, but you can use them whole just as well. Put the blueberries in a mixer, (I like to use a Vitamix) together with the water, lemon juice, and salt. Mix it up real well. Have a little taste, and decide if you need a bit of honey or not. Depending of the sweetness of your berries you might not need any. If you do want some honey, add it to the mixture and mix it in.
Now that you have the right taste, it’s time to add the chia seeds. You only need to blend them in for a few seconds, so that it’s well mixed.
Pour the mixture into a glass jar, put it in the fridge to firm up for about 15min, and that’s it! Your jam will keep for about a week in the fridge, but mine rarely lasts that long! Depending on how firm you like your jam, you can add more or less water, or more or less chia seeds. This recipe makes a firm jam.
If you do not have a mixer you can make it by hand, no problem. Just mash up the berries with a fork, and blend in the rest of the ingredients just like above. Your jam will have a bit more texture this way, but it will taste just as good.
Have fun mixing different berries, and keep up the jammin’ 😉
Last week we talked about different strategies for dealing with a similar problem. Depending on if the origin of the problem is external or internal, our strategy to improve should reflect that. So, lets take a closer look at two different people with “the same” shoulder pain.
Ben shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers that helps a little bit, but not completely. He also wakes up in the night sometimes because the shoulder bothers him. He does a few quick stretches at the gym, but not always.
Upon further examination it’s clear that all the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder are very tight. When I ask him further about his sports, it turns out that he has increased his workout routine lately, and in particular he is doing a lot more push-ups. I ask him to show me how he does a push-up, and it is clear that he is lacking the proper technique. He is not supporting his shoulders properly, and therefore putting an unnecessary burden on the rotator cuffs. For a while the rotator cuff muscles managed to compensate, but now they have reached a point of exhaustion – enter pain.
Ben’s homework included learning proper push-up technique. He was shocked to find out he had been doing it wrong for all these years. He also learned proper mobility work for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day. Being strong without being flexible, is a road to injury. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few weeks.
Roy shows up at my practice complaining of pain in his right shoulder. It bothers him at work (he works in an office) and during sports. He has taken some painkillers but it doesn’t seem to help. He wakes up in the night, because the shoulder and neck bothers him, often around 3am. Sometimes he does a few quick stretches at the gym.
Roy’s rotator cuff muscles in the shoulder are very tight. He has not changed his work out routine in the past few months. He has dark, puffy circles under his eyes. The area around the lower end of his right rib-cage is a bit tender to the touch, and there is a slight metallic smell to his skin. These are all signs of an over burdened liver. I check his push-up technique, and it is fine.
He tells me that he drinks about 1-1,5 L of water a day, which he thinks is good. Further questioning reveals that he has had a lot of extra events at work in the last few months, which includes “wining and dining”. As he feels very tired he drinks coffee throughout the day to keep himself going. Part from the “wining and dining” in the evening, he is quite rushed during the day and tends to eat quickly on the go, mostly carbs, like sandwiches and sweet stuff. All of these things have put a tremendous burden on his liver, which indirectly through shared nerve pathways sends pain into his shoulder.
Roy’s homework is to learn about proper hydration, diuretic beverages and basic liver function. He downloads the app to re-educate himself about how much and what he drinks, so that he can adjust accordingly. He was surprised to calculate that his baseline of drinking water is almost 3 Liter a day. He stops taking painkillers as they increase the burden on the liver. He reduces the intake of caffeine and alcohol, and notice that he starts sleeping a lot better.
He also learned proper mobility work for the shoulder, working with a foam roller and lacrosse ball for 10-15 minutes a day, to speed up the recovery. With a few complimentary deep tissue massage session he was “as good as new” within a few months.
I hope these two examples has given you some ideas and food for thought in terms of problem solving. Making a change takes time and effort, but what could be more important in the long run, than investing in your own health? 😉
It’s Easter weekend, and for a lot of us that means a little bit of extra free time. I suggest that you check out this totally epic documentary called Meru in between food sessions, and/or while traveling. I had heard about it before, but just recently got down to watching it. It will blow your mind! You can currently find it on Netflix.
“A genuinely moving tale of super human perseverance and friendship”
At the very least it will make you appreciate the mountain of food most likely in front of you during this time. *big smile* Not only are the images of the mountain climbing breathtaking for a lot of reasons, but the story being told of friendship, athleticism, pure grit and what someone can achieve when they really want it, is mind blowing. How about using this film for a perspective check on your own difficulties? Just check it out, you won’t regret it.
Our body is made up of different complex systems. Therefore, you shouldn’t necessarily single out and look at the importance of just the one organ. But, in this case I believe we can.
Our amazing liver has more than 500 different functions in the body! If the liver is not able to work as it should, all of the functions that it is involved with will suffer. Other organs will try to pick up the slack for a while, but ultimately they will fail. This over time can make our bodies completely exhausted and sick.
I believe that it’s hard to take good care of something that we don’t understand. So, why not get a little better familiar with our super hero the liver? This short video gives an excellent summary of what’s going on. And if you are new to this blog, you can read a bit more about the liver here and here.
Let’s keep on learning to better understand our body! 😉
Constipation is a topic that we don’t really talk about, but that doesn’t make it any less important. Actually, being able to poop easily every day should be standard. It is a very important function within our body and it can immediately tell us a lot about the state ofour internal health.
So what does good bowel movement look like? The frequency should be once or twice a day. It should not take any effort, the shape should be like a large sausage, with the consistency of soft clay. Too frequent visits, just like too few, is an indication that something is off balance.
If you are not able to go daily you are constipated. If it also takes a long time and effort when you do go, then you should really pay attention. Your poop is your comprised internal garbage, and if it hangs out for too long in the large intestine it will cause problems. It’s like you have an open trashcan completely full, just sitting in your hallway. Within a short amount of time that garbage will make your whole house smell like s**t and nasty stuff might seep over the edges and spread into your house. Yuck!
When too much water gets reabsorbed your soft clay turns into very hard balls making pooping very difficult and even painful. Also, the longer the garbage hangs out in your intestine, more of the nasties and yucky stuff will get reabsorbed. Your intestines are very thin walls made of cells, and they are not completely solid. Meaning, it is possible for particles to seep through the walls of the intestine and get into other areas of the body. You do not want old trash hanging out in the wrong place. Hence, why you want to get the garbage out on time.
So, what can you do to assist your body in this process? The easiest thing to do is to make sure you are drinking enough water, eat plenty of vegetables and fiber. I like adding ground flaxseed to my food for added fiber. You can also improve on your position on the toilet by putting a small box or similar under your feet. It may sound silly, but as you will see in this video, it really does make a difference.
I am very excited and happy to be able to tell you that after a lot of studying and exams, I am now a certified Nutritional Therapist! There is new information on my web page about functional nutrition and how that works. There is also an update on the welcome page, and on some of the general information pages. As always you can find my working hours on the contact page. Of course learning never stops, so I am very glad about the opportunity to dig even deeper into this key area of health at a couple of seminars in New York during this year.
There are also some new projects in the works, so keep an eye out for those here.
The blog has been up and running for over a year! Time flies, that’s for sure. It has definitely been a challenge at times to post something every week, between work, studies and travel. But every time someone comments on the blog, or I get a “ah, I hadn’t thought about that” makes it worthwhile.
It has been a great experience for me so far, bringing up a lot of fun and interesting conversations with clients and friends. Thank you very much for your feedback -and keep it coming, as I plan to keep this up for quite a while longer.
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Have a great weekend! 😉
Pay attention – avoiding salt in your diet is outdated advice! As usual in our culture we like to make things either good or bad, but it is all about quality and balance. A few years back a good friend of mine ended up in hospital with severe heart problems, because he tried being “as healthy as possible” by completely avoiding all salt.
This guy was a top level athlete, but that didn’t matter because if the heart doesn’t get the right mineral balance, it cannot function properly.
“Low salt diets cause insulin resistance…If you go on a low salt diet, heart rate generally goes up pretty dramatically.” -Dr. James DiNicolantonio
I have previously written about the importance of salt in terms of hydration. Also, there is a very important distinction to make between healthy mineral and sea-salt, bad for you table-salt and the salt you find in processed foods. You can read about those things here.
The impacts of not having enough quality salt and the right mineral balance in our bodies is massively understated. You do however need to assess your own personal situation before making changes. Too much salt, especially the poor kind we find in processed is bad for you, and a reduction will probably do you well. But, not getting enough of a high quality sea-salt can also be very bad for you. In that case you will need to increase your intake. Remember, we are after a good balance.
“Most of the evidence shows that a low salt diet actually causes hypertension in the long run” -Dr. James DiNicolantonio
Salt is also important in creating the right amounts of stomach acid. We need a strong stomach acid in order to break down the minerals and access them on a molecular level. If we have a weak stomach acid we will not be able to absorb these vital minerals, even if they are in the food that we eat.
The following is a great podcast that expands on the importance of getting enough quality salt in your diet, and what happens if you are deficient. Did you know that if you find yourself craving potato chips – you are most likely mineral deficient?!
Salt is neither good or bad, it’s all about quality and balance! Enjoy your weekend! 😉
Flaxseed, also know as lineseed, is a very powerful little seed. It would be a very smart move on your part to add this to your daily intake of nutrient dense foods. Now why is that? I am so glad you asked!
Flaxseed contains a lot of fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans (antioxidants). These are very important factors that can help with digestion, healthy skin and hair, and protect against radiation toxicity. But, it doesn’t stop there, flaxseed has also been shown to lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure and is great at fighting cancer.
Flaxseed has been shown to lower cholesterol, improve arterial health, lower blood pressure and is great at fighting cancer.
Flaxseed isn’t very expensive and a little will go a long way. Buy it organic as a whole seed. You want to grind it up before eating it. I do not recommend buying flaxseed that has already been ground as it goes rancid a lot quicker, and you never really know how long it has been sitting in that bag. Add it to your salad or food as it is. If you want to pick it up another notch, you can soak or sprout the seeds first and then grind them.
Why not eating them just as they are? All the good stuff that we want is inside the seed. If we don’t break it open first, the seed will just pass through our digestive system without us getting what we need from it.
What about the oil?
The oil is a great addition if you are looking for extra omega-3 fatty acids. Add it to your food, or just drink it straight from a spoon. Depending on the extraction of the oil from the seed, the taste can be very different. I have tried a lot of different ones and found one that I really like. So, if you don’t like it the first time you try it, give another brand a chance. Always store the oil in the fridge as it is very sensitive to light and heat. Never cook with this oil, just add it onto the food afterwards.
For maximum nutrition and if I was on a budget I would choose to grind up the flaxseed myself. It’s cheaper, the whole seeds can be stored longer and you get all of the benefits in one go.
Make sure to drink enough water if you consume the flaxseed dry (not soaked), as they will absorb a lot of water in the digestive tract as they go through the system. If you want to learn even more on flaxseed here is a great article.
It’s the little things we do every single day that adds up. So add up on the flaxseed and let this little superhero help you!
Are you enjoying the Olympics and all the amazing athletes? I sure am! Have a great weekend everyone! 😉
Studies on Flaxseed and:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25740909 – Reduction in Blood Pressure
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19515737 – Reduction in Cholesterol
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24013641 – Reduction in Breast Cancer
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19064574 – Reduction in Prostate Cancer
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16314082 – reduced hyperactivity in ADHD
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21677123 – Vascular health and Blood pressure