It’s Ear Infection Time!

This holiday season was full of colds over here.  It seemed like the same cold got passed around for weeks until we were all hit. Yes folks, even though we eat well, my family can still get sick.  What may be different is how we deal with things once we get sick.

After one of those fun weeks of runny noses, we noticed our five-year-old saying “What? what?” often when we talked to him.  Some of that is just the normal behavior of a distracted five-year-old, but after about a week we began to think something was going on with his hearing.  After some simple at home hearing challenges (i.e., making tiny sounds outside each ear) we realized that his right ear jusCoconut oil.t wasn’t hearing well.  Into the doctor’s office we went, the day before we left for the holidays.

As anticipated, they found fluid, redness, and puss: an ear infection.  Although the doctor recommended an antibiotic, I kindly asked her if it was really necessary.  My children have never been on antibiotics, and I’d like to keep it that way.  Antibiotics do harm to the good bacteria in your body along with any bacterial infection, and as a result weaken the immune system, making it less able to fight off infections down the road, including additional ear infections.

Our lovely doctor replied that antibiotics weren’t absolutely necessary because my son wasn’t in any pain and had no fever.  His body seemed to be handling the infection ok, so she was happy to let us ride it out and see what happened, as long as we brought him back in a week or so to see how the infection was doing.  It pays to always ask questions!

To be proactive over the holiday, I started loading him up on some super foods to ensure his immune system kicked this before we went back in to see the Dr.  Here’s what he had on a daily basis:

  • 2 drops of garlic mullein oil in the ear, 2x per day
  • A spoonful of chopped raw garlic with honey
  • At least 1 cup of bone broth, often cooked into food such as quinoa/lentils/soup/oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, always in/on food
  • Oregano & Theives essential oil combination, rolled on the bottom of the feet
  • 1 spoonful of cod liver oil (this is part of his daily routine anyway)

He’s just back from the doctor’s visit, and his ear is greatly improved.  His little body is fighting the infection, his runny nose is gone, and we’re free of antibiotics!  Here’s to the power of food and some simple remedies to give a body the fuel it needs to heal itself!  Way to go, little guy!

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Let’s talk about ___, baby.

That’s right, we’re talking about fiber today folks.  Fiber.  You know, the stuff many a doctor will say you need more of to have healthy stools.  As usual, the topic isn’t at all that simple. cereal bran sticks

This weekend I attended a fantastic conference, and got to hear Konstantin Monastyrsky speak on his specialty: gut health. What I heard was perhaps the best explanation I’ve heard yet of fiber and how it can hurt or help our digestion.

Fiber attracts water and turns into a glue-like substance in your digestive system.  It also absorbs water.

Fiber supplements, such as Metamucil & psyllium , are designed specifically to absorb water.  When taking these supplements, its always necessary to drink  more water.

But Mr. Monastyrsky make a very good point with this explanation, which applies equally to children and adults.

Fiber is just like a roll of toilet paper, which is just fiber and glue holding it together.  What happens when you throw a roll of toilet paper in water.  It triple or even quadruples in size.

Imagine your gut.  You have mild constipation for a variety of reasons including stress and an over-packed schedule, so you take some Metamucil.  In your gut, this means the fiber you’ve just taken has absorbed water in your system and has triple or quadrupled….. INSIDE your digestive tract!  Ahk!  This makes for bloating, and larger and larger stools.  it man at toilet

The anus is about the size of a quarter, and is designed for stools of roughly the same size to pass through.  Stools larger than that are hard to pass and require straining.   In the beginning, as you drink lots of water, you may pass some stools easily.   Even if you don’t, you push through this (pun intended!), knowing the importance of elimination.

With the continued bulking of your stool due to the fiber and an increase in necessary straining, you may still think you’re a bit constipated, so you take more Metamucil.  Perhaps you even consult a physician who recommends it.  You get even more bloating and even larger stools, perhaps stomach cramps.

You of course to manage to, painfully, pass some stools, enough to not worry too much in spite of the increasing effort it takes.

In the meantime, the backed-up stool is leaching toxins into your body, and doing damage to the thin mucus lining of your digestive tract.  This thin mucus lining is also where loads of good bacteria live and thrive.  Once this lining is gone, your digestive tract is vulnerable to a variety of diseases.  Once this lining is gone, you’re good bacteria is also and harmful bacteria and fungus can run rampant, further exacerbating the problem.

A few years later, you notice some more cramping and discomfort, maybe even some diarrhea..  Eventually you go to a doctor who tells you have irritable bowel syndrome, diverticulitis, Crohn’s disease, or one of many other digestive disorder.  And so begins a journey down a potentially fatal road.  With too many, this road ends with colon removal.

Don’t do it folks! I suggest consuming only fiber from natural sources, nuts and veggies, and not too much.  Fiber added to bread/cracker/pasta/rice products is denatured and has nearly zero nutritional content, and can also be damaging to those with sensitive digestion.

You don’t need very much fiber at all.  Some is good, but too much can cause problems.  In fact, some digestive disorder patients may be best on a no-fiber diet until their digestive tracts have healed.  If this might be you, contact me for more information.

Do you know whats good for moving your bowels?  Three things: 

1. Reduce Stress.  Stress can cause the body’s regular functions to slow down or halt.  After all, how you can you have healthy digestion if you eat on the run, and quite literally don’t have a spare few minutes to relax in the bathroom.  Slow down, and your digestion will thank you.ghee in jar and spoon

2. Healthy fats!   Healthy fats are easily absorbed by the body and naturally slide through the digestive system.   A diet rich in healthy fats, and low in bulking foods will result in smooth flowing.  Healthy fats include:  coconut oil, pastured butter, lard and tallow from well-raised animals, and olive oil.

3.  Fermented Foods.  Good bacteria folks.  Good bacteria allows all of your body systems to function properly, including the digestive system and immune systems.  With good bacteria, you’ll get sick less and move those stools with ease.

I hope your week flows well!

 

Let the Kids Get HUNGRY.

Wait, what?  Aren’t hungry kids emotional, dramatic, and hard to control?  Is she crazy?!   Isn’t childhood hunger a local problem, as well as a global issue?  Aren’t well-nourished children more likely to do well in school?Adorable baby girl eating fresh vegetables

Yes, yes, yes.   Now let me explain.

As you might have realized by now, I feed my children well.  We buy high quality meats and vegetables.  We cook creative foods and require them to try everything.  We involve them in the cooking process to get them interested.   But still, sometimes my kids are picky.  They won’t want to try something if it the smell is too different, or they don’t like the color of a sauce, for example.

The other night, however.  Something amazing happened.  It was time for the kids to take their fermented cod liver oil (FCLO), which is caramel flavored and I cover with raw honey, and they “chase” with a chocolate chip.  That’s how chocolate chips are distributed around here, after FCLO.  My son hemmed and hawed, not wanting to eat it.  But my daughter eagerly said, as her brother glared at his full spoon, “my turn, my turn!”  She gobbled up the spoonful of oil and honey, popped in her chip and said “more, more!”   She wanted another spoonful of FCLO, which I readily provided.  This has never happened before.  Ever.

As she wandered away happily, I stood there in awe.  How?  What?  Then I thought about it.  She hadn’t eaten in about 4 hours.  I was about 30 minutes away from serving dinner, so I didn’t want them to eat anything.  So my beautiful two year old, in her youthful wisdom, took whatever nourishment she could get.  Amazing.

She also proceeded to eat more dinner then I’ve ever seen.  No complaints about the leftover sauce (which was shunned the day before), or the veggies she’d previously never tried.   And just when we were out of leftovers, they asked for cheese.  What?  More?!  Yes, more nourishing food!  That little body had had a busy day, not enough of a nap, and needed nourishment.  That I waited four hours, didn’t give them a snack after school, and provided healthy options led to some amazing and beautiful food choices.

From now on, I’m going to let my kids get hungry so I can watch their little bodies gobble up nourishing foods at mealtime.

What are nourishing foods, you ask?   Do you think you might need a bit of a crash-course in how to feed your children well, and easily.  My new eCourse does just that.  It takes you from the harmful habits of the standard American diet through the process of eating healthy, whole foods.  Step by step, this guide will get your diet where you want it to be.   Through October 31, I’m offering an amazing discount so take advantage!  Here’s the link again!

 

 

Throwback…. Wednesday?!

It’s National Breastfeeding Week!  With a bit of sadness, I can’t participate this year.  My good ole’ milk factory is closed. How did those years go by so fast?!  Two of them are weaned, and one of them is, gulp, starting school in September.  He’s so very ready, while I’m having a bit of trouble with the idea.

For me, nursing my kids was huge.   Huge for bonding, nourishing, loving, sleeping, comforting, growing.    Now with my 2.5 year old weaned just 6 months ago, I miss it.   I long for those quite moments together, just me and her.  Doing our thing, giving her what she needed.  Our time.  Now when she comes into our bed, she sucks her thumb and snuggles.  It’s sweet and luscious, but it’s not the same as the instant connection.

Just a few days ago my little girl watched a friend of ours nursing her newborn. She then took her doll and put it under her shirt.  I almost cried while cooking and watching them in my kitchen.  Damn. Those moments, years even, are so darn fleeting.  Cliche, I know, but I feel it truly this week.

Here’s a shout out to all your nursing mama’s out there, and all of you who join me in longing for those moments once again.

Here’s a little something from National Breastfeeding Week, one year ago.

https://holisticnutritionbasics.com/2013/08/03/milk-in-the-eye/

 

Bread, homemade and delicious

IMG_1389This is nice, sitting down in the quiet morning to write.  In the oven is a loaf of bread, another on the counter waiting to go in which will be followed by a quiche to make the most of such a hot oven and the energy required to heat it.   This tea is in hand as I fight the tail-end of a spring cold.  I quickly fly through emails, organize, and relax.  I haven’t done this in a while, but the impetus is 2-fold.  First, a new puppy which has come into our lives and wakes even earlier than the kids, and an indulgent new habit of baking bread.

But wait, why am I baking bread?  Aren’t all carbohydrates bad?  Isn’t that what everyone from Dr. Oz to the Paleo craze is telling us?!  Well, the answer is complex, so let me help clarify.

Carbohydrates are not bad, rather they’re a necessary source of energy.  In fact, a body fed absolutely zero carbohydrates will sooner or later go into starvation mode and feed on stored fat and muscle for energy.  While certain degrees of this can be helpful for weight loss and other issues such as epilepsy, a long-term burning of fat and muscle is not recommended nor healthy for most of the population.

Carbohydrates are found in fruits and vegetables in addition to grains.  Clients of mine who are on the most strict of regimens due to digestive disorders consume lots and lots of high-carbohydrate vegetables such as butternut squash to maintain energy levels, without which they may have a hard time.   I do suggest that fruits and vegetables are the main source of carbohydrates in one’s diet, but that does not mean there isn’t a place for grains.

Let’s simplify:  Some people can tolerate grains.  Some people can tolerate gluten.  Some people can tolerate more than others.  Not everyone can tolerate grains or gluten in any amount. Uh oh… maybe that’s not as clear-cut as I’d hoped!  This is because the issues is complex and every person and their digestive systems are different.   Are you unsure if you’re able to tolerate grains or gluten?  Contact me and I’ll help you find out.

What if you know you functionIMG_1398 fine on grains and gluten, have no digestive troubles, and/or you simply don’t want to or can’t give it up grains entirely?    Here are some basic guidelines.   I talk about everything on a spectrum, with one end being the pie-in-the-sky goal which isn’t always attainable, and the other end is the I’d-rather-starve-than-eat-that quality.   For bread, here’s what the priorities would be:

  1. Always organic flour (no GMO wheat, thank you very much)
  2. True sourdough or sprouted grains, which means no yeast in the ingredients.
  3. Whole wheat, at least partially
  4. Fresh from the bakery section, not on the middle aisles of the grocery store
  5. Should have three ingredients only:  wheat, salt, water.
  6. Homemade is the best way to ensure all of the above!

Now, I realize it can be hard to hit all of these marks.  Here’s a tip: if I’m not making it at home, I always ensure I get the top two on my list, and the rest tend to happen automatically.

Why sourdough or sprouted grains, you ask?  All grains contain phytates or phytic acid, which is the plant’s defense against consumption.  This makes it hard for humans and our one measly stomach to break down (cows have 4 sections in their stomach to break down grains!).  In addition, phytic acid is a nutrient inhibitor so when we don’t break down the phytic acid, it prevents other nutrients from being absorbed by the body.   If we’re going to be eating grains, then we definitely want to be reaping the nutrients from the bread and also from the other foods we’re consuming along side it, so I always recommend either true sourdough bread or sprouted grain bread, both process break down the phytic acid and renders the final product more digestible anIMG_1385d nutritious.  This is true for ALL grains including those in processed foods such as crackers and goldfish, so it’s worth paying attention to how-much grains is going into you or your family.

As a rule of thumb in my house, we aim to eat grains no more than 1x per day.  This gives our digestive tracts a break and also ensures we focus our meals on more nutrient dense foods.   While this can be challenging at times, a little planning goes a long way, as do leftovers from dinner.   These days, that one grain is a thick slice of homemade bread slathered with butter.