Welcome to my Blog about Food and Well-being!

I am often asked to share my knowledge of food and recipes. After changing my diet four years ago from a typical "Western" diet to a mostly whole-foods and plant-based diet, I have seen incredible changes in my health and well-being. I have spent countless hours researching and love helping those who are ready to feel better. The underlying theme? YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. Read on to find out more.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Are You Constipated? 7 Things to Do to Get Things Moving Again

Let's face it. Little feels better than a good poop. You know the kind: slightly soft but formed into an "S" or "C" shape that seems to circle to toilet bowl. You stand up, feeling like you just dropped 5 pounds. Ahhhh. Every body is different, but if you're not having one of these DAILY, you may be constipated. 

Constipation can make you feel tired, heavy, crampy, bloated, gassy and/or cranky. And why shouldn't it? You have days' worth of waste sitting in your intestines going nowhere fast. Every day that goes by, your waste gets more compacted, making you feel worse. When it finally does decide to take the plunge, it comes out in hard, tiny balls that can feel like they're covered with thorns. Those "thorns" are the tiny tears they're creating around your bum hole. Nice, huh?

While you may have an underlying medical issue that should be discussed with your doctor, more often it is directly related to your diet. SURPRISE! Here are 7 things you can do to get things moving again:

  1. Drink more non-caffeinated fluids. Water is best, but if you tire of it, try adding a splash of 100% fruit juice to it. Just to keep up with your daily fluid requirements, you should take your body weight, divide it in half and that's how many ounces of fluids you should consume...just to keep up. If you're already constipated, drink more until things loosen up a bit. NO CAFFEINE! Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it pulls moisture from your body. When your constipated, you need all the moisture you can get. 
  2. Eat your veggies and fruit! The two most important things you need when you're constipated are fluids and fiber. Veggies and fruits have both, especially when you keep the skins on. Eat them with every meal and between meals. Dried fruits (apricots, prunes, figs, dates, mangoes) are high in fiber, too, so try them for a change from the norm.
  3. Eat more whole grains and chew them well. Brown rice and other whole grains contain naturally-occurring bran, which is fiber. As with all food, chewing is a critical part of digestion and should be something you strive to do more often. Our saliva contains enzymes that start breaking the food down before we swallow so our digestive tract doesn't have to work so hard. The more you chew, the more saliva you produce and the smaller the food particles become. Practice chewing more than what you think feels normal. 
  4. Lay off the dairy. Dairy is binding. It's thick and gunky. Cheese, milk, sour cream, etc. can make your constipation worse, so try eliminating it from your diet, at least until your constipation clears up.
  5. Limit your protein intake, particularly animal protein. Protein takes a while for your body to digest, especially of the animal type. When you're constipated, you want to give your intestines a break. When you start pooping softer poops, you can try adding small amounts of protein back into your diet.
  6. Limit your white flour and sugar intake. White flour is void of any bran (fiber) and like dairy, is gunky. When you get flour wet, it makes a paste. It does the same thing in your intestines. It's also digested like sugar. Sugars are inflammatory to your intestines and the last thing you want is to increase the inflammation (swelling) in your intestines. 
  7. Get moving. A brisk walk does wonders, especially in the morning. Not only does it invigorate your muscles and brain, but the contractions in your intestines that push your waste down and out. 

One note: if you're consuming lots of salads, fruits and juices already and still feel constipated, you may actually suffer from a different type of constipation that is triggered by an expanded large intestine (a contracted large intestine causes the most common form of constipation that is discussed above). Try prune juice and brown rice, and decrease your intake of raw foods and other juices.

Some of you may wonder about laxatives or enemas. While there are "natural" laxatives you can buy, I always recommend changing your diet first. You don't want to rely on laxatives every time you get blocked up. Instead of simply treating the symptom, you want to address the underlying cause of your constipation.

As far as enemas go, they too can become habit forming and actually weaken the large intestine's normal contractions. As they wash out the waste, they also wash out your beneficial flora that is basically your immune system. While probiotics can replenish your flora, it takes time to replenish. Try changing your diet first, then talk with your doctor.

Once you've tried the above recommendations, you should start seeing softer, more regular poops. If not, I advise you seek medical attention. Chronic constipation isn't something you should live with and can actually cause long-term health issues, especially with your colon. 

Here's to a good poop!

Monday, July 1, 2013

More Info on Preventing Alzheimer's Disease

One of my recent blog posts talked about how your diet can prevent Alzheimer's Disease. I've been doing more research and wanted to pass along this great article. If anyone in your family has ever suffered from this horrific disease, you need to read this. All of us are at risk, so please take the time.

What this report talks about are simple blood tests you can take to check specific levels in your body, eating habits that can greatly impact your risk factors and exercise. Of course, eating a whole foods-based diet has been found to prevent more diseases and conditions I can name here, but this is just one more reason to kick the processed food habit and go for things grown from the earth.

I think it's so cool how God has given us everything we need to be healthy. My son even said recently that one of his Discover Magazine's talked about how such a small percentage of plants have even been discovered and scientists are convinced these species hold the cures to virtually all disease. Not a chemical made in a lab, but PLANTS. FROM GOD. 

We all hear how blueberries, goji berries, kale and other fruits and veggies are so high in antioxidants. Did you know that the rich, deep colors of these types of produce are their defense mechanism? Plants don't have an immune system, but they do have defense mechanisms that protect them from UV rays, certain fungi and diseases. When we eat those foods, we ingest their defense mechanism, thereby strengthening our own. When you eat a varied diet full of all types of fruits and veggies, you are literally getting the best multivitamin man could never recreate.

Processed foods contain NONE of these vital nutrients. Many processed foods are "fortified" with vitamins, but rarely do those vitamins and minerals come from whole plant sources. They are often manufactured and processed themselves, diminishing their effects and rendering them relatively useless when compared to God's produce.

God is the creator of all good things. GOOD things. "Then God said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good." Genesis 1:11-12 NIV