Weight-Loss & Metabolism

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Most of us live in cultures that rewards the skinny and lean and we're obsessed with losing weight. And so we stop eating, go on low-fat, low-calorie or detox diets and juice cleanses. Then we eat again and gain back more weight than we have just lost. Then you diet again...and again and eventually just looking at food will put on the pounds! What's going on? And, why can the happy SKINNY person next to you in a restaurant polish off an entire bread basket and a totally normal plate of pasta—and look happy and vibrant, and, no, not one bit guilty.

It's called Metabolism.

While short-term cleanses and fasts have successfully been used by many cultures, constant dieting on under 1,500 calories a day, eating fat-free and omitting entire macro-nutrient groups will ruin your metabolism. Your body is an intelligent being and has learned to survive in famines. If you are putting your body through constant famine situations, it will react intelligently and simply burn less calories so you can survive.

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Personal Breakthrough: Sleep My Sleep Nightmare—and Finally A Solution!


Along with nutrition, sleep is one of the most important prerequisites for vibrant health. It’s in our sleep when our body restores itself through cell repair, does a full toxin cleanse, clears the mind, boost the immune system, regulate hunger hormones and pump out growth hormones.

The occasional “bad” night is inevitable… but I had been battling with 5 years of it. Of course I tried everything: nutrition, supplements, exercise, meditation, yoga, sauna and hypnosis; we had EMF checked in the bedroom, “healed” our water flow … yes, we even moved the bed, changed the color of our lightbulbs and painted the walls. In the end you think you are going insane!

By chance I read the Adrenal Reset Diet, which included a lot on non-dietary information I thought was worth trying out. And bingo! The breakthrough was the $3.99 BrainWave APP I downloaded onto my iPhone. You see, different states of mind are associated with specific brainwave frequencies that would be inaudible if played directly, but can be induced by playing two different audible binaural tones into each ear, which after being processed by the brain, are perceived as an inaudible low frequency beat matching the target brainwave frequency. As you listen your brainwaves fall into step with this inaudible binaural beat, and after a few minutes synchronize with the target frequency.

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Real Food, Real Health, Real Self


Nature is a powerful mechanism. Humans have interacted with nature for millennia, nurtured our bodies with its foods and naturally followed our cravings, which is our body’s way of telling us what it needs to get back into balance. We have learned to use foods for healing and balancing. With the introduction of agriculture and large amounts of grains to our diet, health, average life span and body height actually declined until we figured out how to prepare those foods to better nourish our bodies. In all cultures, however, people became knowledgeable about using food in regaining optimal health. That’s using Real Food, which contain real nutrients and have been prepared to maximize their nutritional quality and minimize anti-nutrients.

It’s a very simple formula: eat whole real food. Prepare food properly. Listen to your body’s messages and learn from the wisdom of your ancestors. The latter is becoming more difficult, because things have started to break down in the last 3-4 generations. What happened?

Industrialization. Food Giants. GMO. Food Additives. Food Politics. Food Marketing. I could spend an entire year of posts on what happened: we became disconnected from real food and the wisdom of our ancestors. It’s been several generations since whole local foods were properly and seasonally prepared in the home. Having to read food labels is not natural. Neither is “learning” from advertisements and believing “research” sponsored by food giants. The problem is, where do we go for knowledge? Whom do we trust?

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The Gift of Self to the World Around You


Imagine being in a job that doesn’t feel like a job at all because it requires you to do something you’d do anyway, even if you weren’t getting paid for it? But they pay you anyway and you wonder …”can this be happening?”

You’ve probably been around people who are totally into a hobby or their work and have a certain magnetic energy and glow about them that makes them a joy to be around. As a matter of fact, we seek such people out.

I will never forget walking into an aromatherapy shop a few years ago. I was really down but something magically drew me in. The owner did not say a word, but immediately sensed what I needed and lovingly laid a scented warm fragrant pillow around my neck. No words were spoken. My spirits lifted and I felt myself smiling and feeling better with every breath I took. This aromatherapist and I became good friends. She had a natural talent to sense what people needed to balance and she knew how to help with her essential oil blends. She was one of the happiest people I knew and she was completely in her element—and was well rewarded for her talent. Now just imagine if she were stuck in an administrative job. She’d hate it and probably wouldn’t be very good at it. Her work days would seem endless. She would look at her paycheck and wonder why she made so little for something that was such a chore. Not much fun to be around and the waste of an incredible talent that would have made life better for so many.

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Foods, Genes & Culture


This is an elegantly written and thought-provoking book about food authenticity, passing down food traditions from one generation to the next and why one diet does not it all. Every diet (vegan, paleo or whatever else) seems to promise a one-size-fits-all solution to health.

In Food, Genes, and Culture, renowned ethnobotanist Gary Nabhan shows why the perfect diet for one person could be disastrous for another. If your ancestors were herders in Northern Europe, milk might well provide you with important nutrients, whereas if you're Native American, you have a higher likelihood of lactose intolerance. If your roots lie in the Greek islands, the acclaimed Mediterranean diet might save your heart; if not, all that olive oil could just give you stomach cramps.

Nabhan traces food traditions around the world, from Bali to Mexico, uncovering the links between ancestry and individual responses to food. The implications go well beyond personal taste. Today's widespread mismatch between diet and genes is leading to serious health conditions, including a dramatic growth over the last 50 years in auto-immune and inflammatory diseases.Last not least, Nabhan shows some beautiful case studies of broken societies that were reconnected by them reconnecting back to their authentic diets, to their lands and their traditions—significantly boosting happiness, meaning and overall well-being.

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Is Salt White?


Just as there is good fat and bad fat, there's good and bad salt. Salt provides two essential elements, sodium and chloride. Both are essential to life. Our bodies cannot make these two elements. We must get them from our diets. However, let's look at the differences of unprocessed vs. processed salt:

Natural unprocessed salt, such as grey/green Celtic sea salt, Hawaiian red salt and pink Himalayan salt, contains about 84 percent sodium chloride (just under 37% of which is pure sodium). The remaining 16% are naturally-occurring trace minerals, including silicon, phosphorus, and vanadium.

Processed (white) table salt contains 97.5% sodium chloride (just over 39 % of which is sodium). The rest, 2.5% is man-made chemicals, such as moisture absorbents and flow agents, such as ferrocyanide and aluminosilicate. The processing also radically alters the structure of the salt. Refined table salt is dried above 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, and this excessive heat alters the natural chemical structure of the salt.

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The Colors of Salt


Ordinary salt out of the shaker comes from underground salt deposits which are then refined (much like table sugar) until all that remains is sodium and chloride. (Iodized salt also has iodine).

Unprocessed salt, on the other hand, are not refined and still contain a variety of minerals, which give them an alluring color and a more interesting taste profile. They are often called gourmet salt. Key is that they are much less processed than regular table salt.

Here's just a quick started guide on using some of the many natural salts available. As with all real foods, enjoy them all in moderation.

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Salt, A World History


Mark Kurlansky is a fascinating author who can take any subject, research it as how it relates to the rest of the world in history—and then write a thrilling book about it.

Salt, the only rock we eat, has shaped civilization from the very beginning, and its story is a glittering, often surprising part of the history of humankind. A substance so valuable it served as currency, salt has influenced the establishment of trade routes and cities, provoked and financed wars, secured empires, and inspired revolutions. Populated by colorful characters and filled with an unending series of fascinating details, Salt by Mark Kurlansky is a supremely entertaining, multi-layered masterpiece.

It's one of those books that comes with maps and recipes (how can you resist that?); it's hard to put down but luckily, the almost 500 page epic keeps you going for a while. It's entertaining, educational and full of wonder and inspiration.

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Carbohydrate Digestion


Carbohydrates are nutrients that provide your body with energy. But before carbohydrates can fuel your morning run, they must be broken down into their basic units, called monosaccharides, and absorbed from your digestive tract into your bloodstream.

Carbohydrate digestion, as all digestion, is a north to south process. It starts in your brain. If you are hungry, calm and relaxed and if you are smelling and seeing delicious foods, you salivary gland will kick into gear and start the mouthwatering process of releasing salivary amylase. This enzyme is particularly important for carbohydrate digestion, as it starts breaking down carbohydrates as you chew them. Very few of us chew our food long enough for salivary amylase to have a significant effect on the carbohydrates that we eat. On average, people chew six times before swallowing! If you chew consciously, and about 20-30 times per bite, you will notice that carbohydrate foods such as cooked vegetables, breads and fruit actually get sweeter as you chew them. Your body needs a meaningful opportunity to kick-start this so called chemical and physical carb-digestion in your mouth, because the stomach, the next digestive organ, really focuses more on protein digestion. Without that digestion the salivary amylase you swallow along with your food is inactivated due to the acidity of your stomach.

Digestion of carbohydrates does not resume until the food mass reaches the first part of the small intestine: the duodenum. Pancreatic amylase is released by the pancreas, and this continues the breakdown of the carbohydrate that started in the mouth. If carbohydrates are correctly and completely broken down into monosaccharides, they will be easily absorbed into the bloodstream through the small intestines.

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Fermented Foods


When our Paleolithic ancestors started cultivating grain, population exploded. We had more calories, could store grains for the winter and were suddenly able to feed more people. However, body height, life span and general health actually declined in the early agricultural age. So, what caused the disruption of the health of early agriculturalists? Grains, while filling, they contain anti-nutrients and are generally hard to digest. Bodies were not able to derive the nutrients they were previously realizing from their previous paleo diet—and overall health suffered. It was a shock to the system and evolution had no time to adjust. (Our genes adapted less than 1% over the last 10,000 years.) Over time however humans figured out ways to make these agricultural foods more digestible and therefore more nutritious. How? Through sprouting, soaking and fermentation.

Sprouted, soaked and fermented foods eliminate anti-nutrients, such as phytic acid (which robs our bodies of minerals) but most importantly, add living enzymes to foods, which not only pre-digest the nutrients in this food (grains) but also assist in digesting other less enzymatic foods you may be eating.

Our northern ancestors ate dense, whole-grain sourdough breads. Allowing the grains to ferment before baking helps dough rise, preserves it for weeks, adds superior flavor and a better nutrient profile by boosting enzymatic action. Moreover, they used the whole grain, creating breads you had to chew for a good while because they were so dense...and yes, all that chewing produced salivary amylase! Today we have forgotten how important it is to soak any kind of grain, seed or nut in order to reduce anti-nutrients and boost enzymatic action. And in many cultures light, fluffy six-chew breads are preferred.

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The Art of Fermentation


When I met Sandor Katz at a fermentation workshop in Santa Cruz, I was in for a rare treat. Sandor, a born-and-bred New Yorker, diagnosed with a serious auto-immune disease, relocated to a farm in Tennessee and became focused on trying to figure out what to do with farming surpluses. Researching what our ancestors did with extra veggies after harvest, he learned about fermentation. Not only has he now become the global expert on it, he is the picture of health which he attributes to hos regular diet of eating his ferments. This book is about culture (the people) as much as it is about culture (the ferments). Beautifully written, the contents touch all perspectives and for every level of interest: the chef, the historian, the anthropologist and the homemaker.

Winner of the 2013 James Beard Foundation Book Award for Reference and Scholarship, and a New York Times bestseller, The Art of Fermentation is the most comprehensive guide to do-it-yourself home fermentation ever published. Sandor Katz presents the concepts and processes behind fermentation in ways that are simple enough to guide a reader through their first experience making sauerkraut or yogurt, and in-depth enough to provide greater understanding and insight for experienced practitioners.

While Katz expertly contextualizes fermentation in terms of biological and cultural evolution, health and nutrition, and even economics, this is primarily a compendium of practical information—how the processes work; parameters for safety; techniques for effective preservation; troubleshooting; and more.

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Why Stomach Acid Is Good For You


The theory in this book is that most people have too little stomach acid and that antacids not only do not help you but they make the problem much worse. This book is a fascinating quick read and so very helpful for anyone who may be suffering heartburn, acid reflux, GERD—and food allergies. Dr. Wright exposes how the medical profession treats the problem of a little bit of stomach acid in the wrong place (your esophagus) by almost completely neutralizing your stomach acid with powerful drugs. But without stomach acid, you can't absorb nutrients properly, and you can't prevent bacteria growth in your stomach!In my experience, about 90% of my clients suffer from some sort of stomach acid insufficiency. The author, Dr. Jonathan V. Wright, is a Harvard University and University of Michigan graduate. He is also a forerunner in research and application of natural treatments for healthy aging and illness. They should not only teach this in grade school but also in med school!

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Food Allergies


While food sensitivity tests list all sort of foods we can be allergic to, true food allergies only involve proteins, which have not been broken down properly. Its mind boggling how many people nowadays have gluten and casein allergies, with egg white and other food allergies following close behind.

What actually happens? Well, if proteins don’t get broken down into their essential amino acids, something the body actually very much needs to function, these undigested and fairly large protein molecules end up in the small intestines and damage the intestinal lining. This allows them to sneak into the bloodstream where they are identified as a foreign object to be attacked by the immune system. This story is simplified but at the core of so many health problems that I cannot share this enough:

If you don’t digest your foods properly, they can actually damage your system and make your body attack itself. I see many dietary protocols where you avoid the foods you are allergic to, then slowly reintroduce foods over time, but most protocols fail to address the actual healing of the intestinal lining, resulting the more and more food allergies and sensitivities. An important dietary approach is to seal the gut walls and to give as much digestive support as possible. If given the proper rest and nutrient selection, the epithelial lining of the intestines is actually able to regenerate itself quite quickly. It takes a bit longer to calm down all of the inflammation and the body’s alerted immune system. So, patience is in order.

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Protein Digestion


All living things are composed of proteins, which are chains of specific groups of amino acids linked together by chemical bonds. There are essential amino acids, which the body cannot make, and nonessential and conditional proteins, which the body can synthesize. According to the University of Arizona, protein production is so vital to survival, if a sufficient amount of just one essential amino acid is not obtained from food, the body takes that amino acid from muscle tissue and other sources of protein within the body.

The best dietary sources for amino acids are animal-based proteins, such as meat, eggs or dairy products, because they each contain all the essential amino acids. Amino acids are also found in plant-based foods, including vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds. However, plant sources must be combined because they do not contain all the essential amino acids. An example is rice and beans, which form a complete protein when combined. The fairly large protein molecules must be broken apart into amino acids. While the mechanical breaking down of proteins begins in the mouth (yes, chew, 20-30 times), the chemical digestive process happens primarily in the stomach, where hydrochloric acid (HCl) and other gastric juices are produced to help digest, i.e. break apart large protein molecules. This acid also disinfects stomach contents—an important protective barrier. As the name implies, HCl is extremely acidic. In an ideal situation, your stomach acid will take your food, which is at a fairly neutral pH of around 7, to a pH level of 1.5 to 3. Stress, excess carbohydrate consumption, nutrient deficiencies, carbonated beverages and excess alcohol can prevent HCl production. Low HCl means a low pH in the stomach which not only prevents proper protein digestion but also creates an environment favorable to Candida, prions, bacteria, viruses, and parasites, which are all little proteins. Proper pH helps the body to digest theses microorganisms and they become food.

If HCl levels in the stomach are not low enough, i.e. not between pH 1.5 and 3, protein molecules cannot properly be broken down. This often leads to GERD or Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, resulting in the inability of the body to break down food properly. The food gets rancid and putrefies causing reflux or backward flow into the esophagus. The esophagus lining cannot handle acidic foods from the stomach and burning results. Antacids raise the pH, of the rancid food, to neutral and stop the burning in the esophagus but make the digestive condition in the stomach too alkaline. The lack of the proper amount of stomach acid prevents the triggering of other important digestive processes further down the line.

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Liver & Gallbladder Detox


If you're interested in learning more (and you should!) in understanding the many functions of liver (and there are hundreds) and how to support those functions, this little paperback (or free Kindle download) is a powerhouse of information.

Jennifer Atkins beautifully explains how every part of the human body serves a specific function in staying fit and healthy. Both functional diet and exercise suggestions help move towards a more aware and healthier self. Simple juice, soup and salad recipes entice you to design your own delicious diet plan, while a concise description of functional ingredients define how these different foods work within the body.

You’ll love the Mixed Berry Shake, Apple Cinnamon Smoothie, Greek Salad, Peach, Avocado and Nut Salad, Green Spinach Soup and Creamy Winter Beetroot Soup! It's a quick and life-changing read!

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Superfood: Beets


Beets are rich in betaine, which stimulates liver cell function and provides a protective effect for the liver and bile ducts.

Beets are just one of the many foods that can help to support proper healthy bile flow and detoxify the body. I personally love beets and have several recipes for their use. Beets are in season summer through winter. Be sure to purchase organic beets with the tops and use both. Consider taking the very top of the beet where the leaves attach and shredding it up as a slaw to eat daily if possible, especially if you have a sluggish gallbladder. It’s also delicious mixed with grated carrot and apple, and seasoned with gingerroot, lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil. 

Beets have a tremendous regenerating effect on the body, and for those recovering from digestive ailments beets help to can be used a digestive aid. It is an excellent tonic for the blood as it alkalizes the blood, promotes regularity and it helps cleanse the liver by stimulating bile production.

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Fat Digestion


One of the main purposes of the liver is the secretion of bile—about a quart a day. Bile is a liquid is produced in the liver, but stored in the gallbladder. The gallbladder then releases bile into the small intestines when it receives a signal—and the signal is actual consumption of healthy fats. Healthy fats such as pastured butter, egg yolks, avocado and walnuts stimulate bile flow, while trans-fats do not. Eating fat free foods for long periods of time results in sluggish bile flow and fat digestion, leading to gallstones, gas, belching and nausea after eating. Moreover, we naturally crave fats because our cells aren't getting the fatty acids they need to function properly, leading to hormonal imbalance (we need fats to build hormones and bile to detoxify hormones), inflammation, depression and excessively dry (and aging) skin. Gallbladder surgery is one of the most common surgeries performed in the US, because bile ducts are hopelessly congested due to low fat diets. Thus, eating healthy fats on a regular basis is vitally important to keep bile flowing, to keep bile flowing to digest fats and to detoxify the body.

Bile is also vitally important in absorbing fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and a powerful antioxidant that carries toxins filtered by the liver out of our bodies via the small intestines.

The most effective ways to promote gallbladder health are not periodic cleanses but a diet that consistently supports bile flow.

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The Art of Savoring


Sometimes we close our eyes and transcend into a sublime state of being by simply tasting something delicious. There is a theory that food rituals make people pay more attention to food and thus many of the culinary traditions are at the root of making our food taste better through simple ritualistic customs around food.Just imagine the rituals of Thanksgiving or a traditional Passover meal.

A new study in Psychology Today explored the root causes of why we perform food rituals such as swirling wine, setting a beautiful table, or even unwrapping a chocolate bar in a slow ritualistic manner. What the study found is that people enjoyed and valued food more when it was connected with a ritual. It worked for chocolate as well as for carrots. But why? The theory is that people who are more involved with their food, had a natural flavor tune-up. I believe that this is a natural evolution, with our digestive function at its core: slowing down the eating process is good for our health!

A further experiment showed that food that people were personally involved in making tasted better than food they watched being made. So, get away from the TV and into the kitchen! Rituals make people more personally involved with the eating experience, which leads them to enjoy and value it more. So, it's no surprise that our ancestor created rituals: food tastes better, is better digested and assimilated and you create more with less. Lastly, through food we are more connecetd to each other and to the land around us—something we're all trying to get back to. 

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Culinary Traditions


In spending a few weeks with my family in Germany this June, I realized again, how deeply rooted Europe's culinary traditions really are: four family meals a day with family sitting together, beautiful table linens, silverware and porcelain. Food is freshly cooked from scratch … although the last two generations have become aware of quicker, faster processed alternatives, but perhaps not to the extent we see in many US homes. The truth is that no culture can escape modern life with less time for everything because there are so many new things to do! 100 or even 50 years ago it was not uncommon for one person to spend half the day preparing meals (including setting tables, washing dishes, ironing table cloths…) and still spend a good amount time of the day working in the fields, tending cattle—all activities that found industrial replacements so we could spend more time … working.

Yes, there is a definitive and fashionable trend to cook more from scratch, to source your foods from seasonal, reputable and non-industrial sources close to our homes. There is also a new trend to cook foods from scratch—although the trend to watch cooking shows far exceeds the actual amount of time spent cooking at home. We love the idea of cooking, recipes, fresh food and cultural connectivity, but many of us did not grow up actually doing it.

In the same context, there has always been an enormous culture around food: dishes, linen, table rituals, table settings, table decorations, etc. My family has always treasured beautiful chinaware and various sets of delicate porcelain find their way onto the table for different occasions: a roast goose may call for the green Herend, while afternoon tea on a stormy day would invite the indigo, white and gold Imperial Russian tea service in which to serve Darjeeling with a freshly baked berry tart. My father just recently contemplated that even in Germany people take less and less time to eat at home but family meals with fine dishes, linen and that special ambiance simply cannot be replicates by dining out or ordering in. He complained that “all this beautiful porcelain” is becoming obsolete.

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Nourishing Traditions


Sally Fallon's book, Nourishing Traditions is about developing food cultures that allow generations to thrive with the foods they had available in their respective environments. It challenges us to think about the foods and food preparation of our ancestors and how we may once again thrive as they had.

Weston A. Price’s revolutionary discoveries took him around the world and to a large variety of different ethnic groups who were still eating the foods and preparing the foods the way their ancestors had been. They were untouched by modern, processed and foreign foods. Groups who were eating such authentic diets, handed down for generations, demonstrated uncompromised health and happiness. Once inauthentic foods were introduced, health started to fail, more so with every succeeding generation removed from its original foods.

The similarities of all of the groups were that they firstly took great care to eat enough valuable fats, mostly from animals. Such fats were often raw in form of butter, yogurt, cheeses and meats and fish. The fats were so valuable because they came from pastured and wild animals and fish, which were able to provide valuable nutrients, specifically K2, which Price called “Activator X”. Althought seasonal fasts were part of most cultures, Dr. Price found no successful vegan culture anywhere. 

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