Gelatin: My New Favorite Superfood

greatlakesPregnancy has been a catalyst for many new things in my life, one of those being the discovery of nutritional powerhouses, like Mr. grass-fed gelatin.  And it didn’t take me long to uncover all of it’s amazing healing qualities, for pregnant women and for non-pregnant people alike.

WHAT:

  • Gelatin is the collagen found in the skin, bones and connective tissue of animals (the powder form I use comes from cows).  Think of roasting a chicken.  You know all those glorious juices that fall to the bottom of the roasting tray?  A lot of that is the collagen/gelatin.  Stick it in the fridge and you’ll see it turn to jelly.
  • Like everything we put into our bodies, it’s important to consider the source!  We want the gelatin that we’re ingesting to be sourced from animals that have eaten naturally and lived good lives, like the humanely treated, grass-fed cows from Great Lakes.  It’s just common sense really.  If the cows are living stressful lives and eating rubbish food, we will take in that nutrition and energy as well.

WHY:

  • amino acidSkin health:  Improves elasticity and smoothes those wrinkles.  Gelatin is basically collagen and that’s what your skin needs more of to stay healthy.  It’s also packed full of amino acids, the one in greatest amount being glycine.  Just check out the profile from Great Lakes by clicking on the picture to the right.  These amino acids are the building blocks of your body, including the health and wholeness of your skin.
  • Joint health:  Helps with arthritis because of it’s anti-inflammatory properties. And again, those amazing amino acids, help to strengthen and repair the body, specifically in this case, the bones and cartilage.
  • Digestive health:  When I was battling with my own digestive distress, I started to consume homemade chicken broth on a daily basis, which was full of gelatin, and I have no doubt it was fundamental in aiding my digestive tract to heal and come back into balance.  It was so so soothing to the lining … I could literally feel it healing me.  Aside from my personal experience, you will not be hard-pressed to find many well-known, highly respected doctors, authors, etc singing the praises of the wonderful benefits that bone broths have on digestive health.  One of my favorites is Dr. Natasha Campbell, author of GAPS.
  • Better sleep:  Ingestion of glycine before bed has been shown to improve the quality of night time sleep.

HOW:

  • Roasting bone-in meat such as chicken, lamb, or one of my new personal favorites, oxtail.
  • Bone broths.  After roasting, you can chose to throw the bones and gelatin into your slow cooker with some water, and simmer on low for up to 12 hours.  This will help to extract even more of the vitamins and minerals within the bones and give you a tasty way to ingest the gelatin.
  • Powder form.  Add a grass-fed powdered gelatin to an array of foods to get your daily dose.  My favorite way of the moment is to make these super easy gummies, or by simply adding it to a warm water at night or a smoothie in the morning. But there are loads of other ways to eat it, just google ’til your heart’s content!  ***If adding to a hot drink, you first need to dissolve it in a bit of cold water, and then once dissolved you can add the hot water.  ***Also, 1 Tbsp of powder is good for about 1 pint of liquid.
  • *** There is an opinion that it is best to ingest gelatin on an empty stomach, either 30 minutes before consumption of food or 2 hours after.  Dr. David G Young, a naturopath from Oregon, believes that if it’s taken with food, it will only be used for energy/calories, but if it’s taken on an empty stomach it will actually be reversed back into collagen, giving us the benefits we are looking for.  This is something worth considering.
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Some of the Best 17 Minutes on YouTube: Healed From MS Through Diet

This video is so so inspiring to me.

Dr Terry Wahls was at one time bound to a wheelchair because of her long battle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  After years of no success or improvement with some of the best medical treatments around, she took her health into her own hands, educated herself on nutrition, made radical diet changes, and in 3 months was walking.

Please watch this video and share it with your friends!

Glorious Ghee: What, Why & How

purity-farmsHealth and wellness is a never-ending evolution.  A continual blossoming effect.  I am just having so much fun learning all this newness.

My latest discovery?  GHEE!  My attention was brought to this ancient product because it can withstand high heat without breaking down or degrading as other oils do.  Although coconut oil has been a great option to cook with (because it too can withstand high heat), sometimes you just don’t want that coconut taste.  But ghee ticks all the boxes.

An important thing to remember when looking for a good ghee product:  Make sure the cows are “pastured”, meaning that they eat GRASS and not grain.  One of the main reasons ghee is so good for us is because of all the green grass the cows have grazed on.  Don’t think this can be sidestepped or ignored.  It is the natural way and a very important detail.

WHAT

  • Boiled butter that turns into pure fat after the milk solids have been skimmed off the top.
  • Also known as clarified butter.
  • Casein-free.
  • Lactose-free.

WHY

  • Tastes so good.
  • Anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory properties.
  • A great source of saturated fat/cholesterol/MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides).  We need this stuff!  Saturated fat is very important for our nervous system and cholesterol is the base for all hormone production.  We will seriously break down without healthy fat in our diet.
  • A great source of fat-soluable vitamins: A, D, E, K.
  • One of the best sources of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid).  See here for CLA benefits.
  • Support brain function/memory.
  • Digestive aid.
  • Lubricates our joints and connective tissue.
  • First aid ointment.
  • A great lotion.
  • Has a really long shelf life; will not go rancid easily.

HOW

  • Check out the below video of my great friend Monica Yearwood explaining the process of making ghee at home.  She is an ayurvedic practitioner and owner of Hamsa Ayurveda and Yoga in Chicago IL!

May 1, 2013 = 1 Year of Total Healing

DSC04127Well I did it.  I made it to May 1, 2013 without any major digestive issues.

Giving thanks,

giving thanks,

giving so much thanks today.

Last March, 2012 as I lay in bed in Tel Aviv on holiday with my husband, in so much pain from the latest bout of intestinal chaos I had come to know all too well, I told myself  … “Make it to May 1, 2013 with no big problems, and you can claim official healing”.

You see, I knew with everything in me I had turned a corner.  I knew I had found divine wisdom in regards to my body, in regards to eating and nutrition, and in regards to holistic health (see what I did below).  Maybe I was currently experiencing big problems, and maybe it didn’t look like I was making progress, but I knew things were different and slowly changing.  So I held onto that in Israel and professed victory.

“This will be the last time.  Be disciplined with what you put into your body.  Keep learning.  Keep researching.  Keep asking God for that precious wisdom.  Love yourself.  Deal with emotional trauma that’s still lingering.  Develop healthy boundaries.  Forgive.  Decree over your whole self victory.  Believe.  Seek.  Do not be afraid.”

So I got really serious and did the things I knew would help me.  Although uncovering the root problem would take some time, and is still unfolding to this day, I knew that I could trust the process and would learn more about my health issues as I walked forward.

Today as I reflect, I believe what created dis-ease for me all those years was an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.  Dysbiosis to be exact.  The bad guys were winning for far too long, and this was throwing so many things into disarray, with problems never resolving and getting increasingly worse.

But now I see the remedies are pretty pain-free, so much easier than surgeries and Indian hospitals.  And I really believe that the same things I’ve implemented for my own healing, can help so many other people experience their personal healing as well.  It’s just about being aware of what harms you and what doesn’t, and giving your body what it needs to thrive and be happy.

If you’re needing healing, try some or all of these steps, and see what happens.  This is a great place to start and things can be added once you’ve accomplished these.  And none of it can harm you!

  • Remove all processed foods.  If you only do one thing, do this.  It will really benefit you greatly.  Of course some things need to be minimally processed in order for us to eat them, like nuts and such, but avoid the chips and crackers and frozen dinners.  STOP WITH THE SODA.  No more fast food.
  • Forgive and restore your soft heart.  A year and a half ago, while in India looking for a cure, I became aware of so much unforgiveness in my heart.  This stuff is so toxic and can really hurt you.  Just let it go!
  • Find out if you have any food allergies/intolerances/sensitivities.  You could have issues with gluten or dairy without even knowing it, or any other food allergy as well.  Try eliminating these foods for at least a couple of weeks and see if there is improvement.
  • Remove refined sugar.  This has been proven to drastically impair the immune system after consumption.  It is also one of the biggest contributors to internal inflammation and feeding the “bad” bacteria in our guts.  It spikes the blood sugar and can harm the production and release of the hormone insulin. 
  • Deal with any anxiety, worry or fear.  More and more people are on drugs for anxiety than ever before.  This says something about our society.  Fear is very destructive on the digestive system and can wreak havoc throughout the body, like the heart and colon.  Our minds and bodies are very connected.  Talk about it, seek counsel, be honest with where you’re at.  There could be nutritional deficiencies (like magnesium) causing the anxiety or unhealthy thought patterns that need to be renewed.  Don’t wait any longer to find the answers!
  • Read every label.  If you really want to start helping yourself, you need to actually know what’s going into your body.  Educate yourself.  What does E621 mean?  How much of what you’re eating contains sugar?  What is yeast extract?  What is aspartame and MSG?  These are important things to research and know.
  • Increase intake of vegetables.  And if possible, make sure they are organic.  Vegetables supply us with important vitamins and minerals and help establish a healthy pH balance.
  • Exercise. I’m a huge fan of low-impact, strengthening, low-cardio exercises, like yoga and hiking.  This will do so much for you mentally and physically.  Feed your soul through exercise!
  • Eat more probiotic-rich foods.  These include fermented veggies, kefir, yogurt, miso, etc.
  • Supplement with a good probiotic pill.  I’m currently taking Udo’s Adult Blend and I’m really happy with it.  This will help to increase your body’s population of good bacteria and keep it stable.  You see, good bacteria are like people on holiday.  They fly in for awhile but then eventually leave.  So this means we need to constantly be supplying our bodies with this good flora.

These are the things that helped me the most and what I would recommend every person to follow.  Please let me know if you have any questions about my journey.  I would be so happy if I could help!

Fermentation Dysbiosis: What is it and why does it occur?

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Picture from realfoodryangosling.tumblr.com

Dysbiosis was coined in the early 20th century by a doctor named Eli Metchnikoss.  He created the word by combining the root word “dys” (abnormal, ill or diseased) and the word “symbiosis” (a beneficial relationship between 2 organisms).  So dysbiosis essentially means “2 organisms not living in harmony with one another”.  It was this word that he used to describe the imbalance of good and bad bacteria within the body, or the disharmonious relationship between the microbe and the host body.  Dysbiosis is usually seen in the intestinal tract, but can also be found on the skin, vagina, lungs, nose, sinuses, ears, nails or eyes.  And the way it expresses itself in each person can be very different.  One person may develop eczema, while another will show signs of irritable bowel syndrome, and another still will struggle with an autoimmune disease.

I really do believe this unfriendly relationship happening between our bodies and bacteria is the root cause of so many health problems today.  Unfortunately, most people are unaware of this potentially devastating disharmony and treat the symptom(s) rather than the larger, true issue of dysbiosis.  Although there are several types of dysbiosis, let’s take a closer look at fermentation dysbiosis and uncover it’s symptoms, causes and treatments.

So what exactly is fermentation dysbiosis and why does it occur?  It is an overpopulation of unfriendly bacteria in the gut because of the overconsumption of carbohydrate, sugar-rich food.  Foods like alcohol (beer & wine), refined foods, flour, grains, fruit and especially refined sugar, are fuel for the bad bacteria.  They feed on the sugars and produce a by-product, just like every living thing does.  It’s this by-product, this excrement, that is fermented in the gut, creating gas and a bloated belly, which can further irritate the digestive tract to create constipation, diarrhea, fatigue, headaches and an overall feeling of dis-ease.  If this behavior occurs repeatedly over time, chronic inflammation can occur and the disharmony can proliferate into more chronic issues such as candidiasis and leaky gut syndrome.

In addition to a poor diet, medications like NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs), antibiotics, oral contraceptives and antacids, as well as stress, can contribute to this imbalance.  They too are food for the bacteria to thrive on and weaken the immune system.  As well, foods that create a slower transit time, specifically high-fat and low fiber foods, are factors that can also play a part in this picture.

Thankfully, fermentation dysbiosis can usually be treated quite easily through diet change, although one may have to be quite strict, and this could prove difficult if you are experiencing intense cravings.  You should remove all refined foods, beer, wine, dairy, all sugars (refined, raw, honey, etc), grains and only consume low sugar fruits like berries.  Also increase intake of whole foods, lots of vegetables (plant fiber), limit meat consumption to a few times a week and supplement your diet with probiotic rich food like kimchi and sauerkraut.  To be extra vigilant, I would recommend consuming a probiotic pill daily to help support the body’s population of friendly bacteria.  Slippery elm tea is also very good at healing the digestive system.

In addition to these diet and supplemental changes, it is also very important to stop burdening the body with synthetic medications mentioned earlier.  Find other healthy, supportive options for yourself that will add to your well-being instead of subtract from it.  Also, exercise to combat any stress that could be contributing to this disharmony and to strengthen the immune system.  I am a big proponent of yoga, or anything that involves a combination of deep breathing, stretching and strengthening in a low-impact way.  I also love hiking, as it gets you outside and really benefits the body without stressing it out.

Your body can heal itself.  It is completely possible.  If you think you might be dealing with an imbalance of internal floral, try implementing some of the changes mentioned and see what happens.  It will be worth it, I promise!

 REFERENCES:

  1. Digestive Wellness by Elizabeth Lipski
  2. Total Body Tune-up by Dr. Michael Murray