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

 

Carrot Ginger Soup with Cashew Cream

IMG_0672Wow.  Another soup creation that will not disappoint from culinary expert Rebecca Katz!  All the flavors mix together so well, feels like my taste buds are having a party.  And so good for our bellies during these colder months.

You can prepare this soup with either Homemade Veggie Broth or water, but of course I recommend the broth for it’s added nutrients and great taste.

Carrot-Ginger Soup with Cashew Cream by Rebecca Katz

(I have tweaked just a couple of things from the original recipe)

SOUP

  • 3 pounds carrots cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 cups veggie broth or water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin, ground
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/8 tsp allspice, ground
  • 1/8 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1 small pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt

CASHEW CREAM

  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Pinch of nutmeg, freshly grated or ground

In a 6 quart pot, heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté until golden. Add the carrots, ginger, curry, cumin, cinnamon, allspice, coriander, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine. Add 8 cups of broth or water with 1 teaspoon of salt. Cook until the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to blender and blend until very smooth. Add additional liquid to reach the desired thickness if needed.

To make the cashew cream, grind the cashews in a mini food processor or nut grinder (some blenders are not powerful enough to turn nuts into cream, so we give them a head start). If you have a Vita‐mix, skip this step. Put the water in a blender. Add the ground cashews, lemon juice, salt, and nutmeg. Blend until very smooth.

Will keep for 5 days in the fridge or 2 months in the freezer.

Serves 6

Whole Food Fun in Cape Town

DSC04250Now … in this new life of mine … the one where I’m obsessed with all things nourishing, whole, natural and organic … my favorite thing to do when I get to any new city is to scout out all the whole food sources.  I usually start with trying to find raw milk, since it’s illegal in Hong Kong and I long for it so, as well as locating a trustworthy deli selling grass-fed meat and pastured eggs.  And I always look for farmer’s markets too!  This is the perfect place to find locally grown (and hopefully organic) produce and connect with local people who share the same passion for natural living.

After lots of googling and poking around, I found two places that checked all of the boxes for me and that I would recommend to anyone coming through town:  Gogo’s Deli in Newlands and Farmer Angus McIntosh of Spier Farm in Stellenbosch, who sells some of his products around town and also recently began doing home deliveries.  (Wellness Warehouse wasn’t too bad either.  They carried some great products, including Angus’ eggs.  I would just say, read the labels!)

So what are those boxes they tick, you ask?

  • Angus McIntosh of Spier Farm

    Angus McIntosh of Spier Farm

    All the animals are pastured/free-range/grass-fed.  Somehow this criteria has become special to us this day in age, but really, this is just the natural way.  Cows and lambs are meant to eat grass.  Chickens are meant to eat bugs and grass.

  • The animals are treated humanely.  The chickens keep their beaks.  The cows are slaughtered close to home to lessen levels of stress.
  • Organic: No hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, toxins, etc.
  • Local: Everything is sourced from the Cape Town area.
  • And an added bonus … the people are really cool!

So here are a few of the favorite things we found!

Organic, local veggies @ Gogo's

Organic, local veggies @ Gogo’s

Raw cow's milk from Camphill Dairy @ Gogo's

Raw cow’s milk from Camphill Dairy @ Gogo’s

Grass-fed beef biltong @ Gogo's

Grass-fed beef biltong @ Gogo’s

Raw goat's milk from Foxenburg @ Wellness Warehouse

Raw goat’s milk from Foxenburg @ Wellness Warehouse

Raw chocolate spread @ Wellness Warehouse

Raw chocolate spread @ Wellness Warehouse

Liver pate from The Food Barn @ Gogo's

Liver pate from The Food Barn @ Gogo’s

Testing the Transit Time of Your Foods and Why It Can Help You

bowel
Transit time refers to the amount of time it takes ingested foods to move through the digestive system, from the time it is taken into the mouth, to the time it is eliminated through our bowel movements.  Testing the transit time of our diet is beneficial because it gives us a clearer picture of  what is going on inside our bodies and helps us to understand the possible problems that may be occurring.  If we discover our food is eliminated in 12 hours or less, this could be an indication that we are not absorbing adequate nutrients from the food, which can result in deficiencies and malnourishment.  If the foods are taking more than 30 hours to be eliminated, this is an indication of constipation, which can result in an increase of bad bacteria in the gut, inflammation throughout the digestive system or the reabsorption of fecal matter back into the bloodstream.
***
In order to test our food’s transit time, we need to ingest a marker, or rather, something that will be visible in our stool once it is eliminated.  Some of these markers include corn kernels, sesame seeds, charcoal tablets, beetroot or chlorophyll.  The marker you choose will depend on the general color of your stool and/or your personal preference.  If your stool is generally lighter in color then the best markers will be the darker ones, such as charcoal, beetroot or chlorophyll.  If your stool tends to be darker in color than you will find better success with the corn kernels or sesame seeds.  Some people recommend swallowing the kernels and seeds whole so they will be more visible, however this may not be necessary or desired.
***
Average transit time is anywhere between 12-72 hours, although optimal transit time is between 14-30 hours.  Our transit times will be determined by the foods we’re eating and our overall health, and will vary accordingly.  If we are ingesting mostly low-fat, fiber rich foods like fruits and veggies, and consuming hydrating drinks like water and fresh juices, the transit times will be shorter.  On the contrary, if we are ingesting mostly high-fat, drying foods like well-done meats and dairy, and consuming dehydrating drinks like alcohol and coffee, we will notice the transit times to be longer.
***
Directions for the transit time test are as follows:
  • The transit time will be conducted 3 times in order to establish accuracy.
  • While conducting the test, be sure to record food, liquid, exercise and stress levels on the Transit Time Record Form provided below.
  • After your first bowel movement of the day, ingest a chosen marker as specified above and record the time the marker is taken.
  • Observe the following bowel movements until you see the marker.  Record the time when it is first visible.
  • You will ingest the marker two more times, however, you will move the time that you ingest it in order to determine a more accurate transit time.

Here is an example to help you:

  1. Subject A has first bowel movement of the day at 10 a.m.
  2. She ingests a beetroot marker immediately after.
  3. The following day, Subject A’s first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. again and she is able to observe the bright red coloring of the beetroot.  So this tells her the transit time of her food was no more than 24 hours.
  4. To get a more accurate transit time, Subject A will move the time she ingests the marker.
  5. The next time her bowel movement is clear of any previously ingested marker, she will ingest the marker again, only 4 hours later.
  6. Her stool was clear the following day at 10 a.m.  She ingests the marker at 2 p.m.  The following day her marker is visible with her 10 a.m. bowel movement.  This indicates a transit time of no more than 20 hours.
  7. Again, the marker will be moved even more to determine if the transit time is even shorter.
  8. Once a marker-free stool is observed, Subject A will ingest a new marker, however this time it will be taken 6-8 hours after the bowel movement.
  9. Subject A’s next clear bowel movement is at 10 a.m. the following day.  The marker is ingested at 6 p.m. that evening.
  10. The following day her first bowel movement is at 10 a.m. and the marker is not present.  She can now determine her average transit time is roughly 20 hours.