Nutrition Class Series in Oregon!

A kick ass 4 week series is starting February 4th! This series will run every Wednesday in the month of February on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-8:30. 

Located in Cottage Grove, Oregon! If you are interested in hosting this series at your business or in your community in Oregon…hit me up! See the contact page for email & #

Class #1…..The Roots!  Feb 4th:  In this foundations class we will be talking REAL nutrition. We will dive into the physiology & science of real food nutrition in an easy to comprehend & then put into practice kind of way. We’ll cover the what, why, how much & what kinds of carbs, proteins & fats, as well as the role of the all-important blood sugar balancing act that is vital for ALL! We will also debunk some food & nutrition myths so we have a solid base for the rest of this series & our lives!

Class #2….The Trunk!   Feb 11th:  The trunk is our core. It is where all things stem from. The essence of our health lies here. It is the digestive system & the brain! We will dive into the importance of digestive system health & how to obtain it as well as the crucial gut-brain connection. That buzz word…the “microbiome” will also be hashed out. Many ‘ah ha’ moments!

Class #3….The Burl!  Feb 18th:  A burl forms in a tree in response to some kind of stress. Humans become ‘inflamed’ from a variety of everyday ‘stressors’. We will discuss the importance as well as the detriments of inflammation…as it often is the true cause of most all dis-ease. We will talk gluten, grains, & autoimmunity, as well as heart & joint health.

Class #4….The Branches!  Feb 25th:  In order to branch out, to grow, to flower and flourish…we need to fine tune our inner workings. We need solid ENERGY!! We will dive further into adrenal & thyroid function & the health of our hormones in general. What drives us? What gives us lasting vital energy so we can thrive & not just survive!

Cost: $100 for the 4 week series or $30 drop in

                                 tree6

The Six Food Illusions

With so much more talk in the air recently of GMO’s and as the fight for our food freedom continues in this country and others and as Monsanto rears it’s ugly head yet again….I recently repicked up one of my favorite food books called “Grub”. It is in part a cookbook, in part a book on the politics of food, and in part a book asking the hard questions of what is going on in our country with big business and the food industry… offering various well researched answers and facts for the reader and concerned citizen to ponder.  Everyday we make choices about food, about where to buy our food, about who to support and who not to support, about what we can afford to feed ourselves and our families and about what we want to put into our bodies.  These choices have a much broader effect than we often even realize in large part due to the illusions we have about food and farming in this country that have been fed to us by the big Ag Industry and that have blinded us to the realities that surround us.  The effects of these choices include:

  • Americans going hungry while food abounds: “More than 35 million Americans live in food-insecure households in which they are unsure of where their next meal is coming from.  At the same time enough food is available to meet American’s calorie needs almost two times over”.
  • Disappearing independent family farmers:  “The US has lost a third of our farms since the early 70’s.  And many of the surviving farmers are no longer independent, but are contract workers for large food companies”.
  • Farmer’s despair deepening: “Farmer’s are committing suicide at a rate double the national average.  Among farmer’s in the Midwest suicide is the 5th leading cause of death”.
  • Toxic pesticides blanketing our country:  “Four pounds of pesticides for every American man, woman and child are used every year in the US, more than one-fifth of the world total for all pesticides and one-quarter of the world’s herbicides. Yet crop loss to pests for some crops is actually double what it was before this chemical storm”.
  • Our diets making us sick:  “The typical American diet is now implicated in more and more diseases ranging from hypertension to certain types of cancer to type 2 diabetes”.
  • Our diet causing obesity and obesity related diseases to skyrocket: “With obesity rates soaring, as many as 365,000 Americans (in 2006) are now dying prematurely every year because of obesity-related illnesses”.
  • And What About What is Going On Outside Our “Precious” Country…least we be too selfish…. Big Ag has huge, unrelenting and often devastating effects on so many other countries esp third world countries, creating a reliance that is often destructive to a culture….yes it can help feed the poor but yes their is a selfish mission there too.

So what follows (and what you just read above) is a summary of some of the important topics covered in this book regarding the food industry, some appalling facts and hopefully some answers to the quandary we find ourselves in in this area. Take the time to watch the videos and learn as much as you can so you can make the best choices for you, your family and your community.  You will see lots of quotes from this book, because the authors explained so much so well and I want to share it with you!

Living with the illusions we have about food in America, it is often hard to see the solutions that may be right in front of us.  So let’s take some time to break apart these illusions (of which are outlined in the book and with a few added personal thoughts and interpretations), to see the truths that are hidden behind them so we can begin to make decisions that are in our best interests as a society vs our worst.

THE SIX FOOD ILLUSIONS

The Illusion of Choice:

“Choice.  What is more American than that?” ask the authors.  Our grocery stores are chock full of almost 50,000 items from Chilean strawberries to coffee from Nicaragua.  “In the cereal isle alone, you can count a dizzying number of seemingly different choices.  But do dozens of cereals or candy bars or sodas really equal food choice?”  Let’s start with the question of “what is food”?  Isn’t it what nourishes us, what sustains us? I believe that answer would be yes, right? Then it seems it is the choice for REAL food that we are missing.

Those near 50,000 items in the typical grocery store are “mostly manufactured products, manufactured with a single goal in mind: to bring the companies’ shareholders the highest return.  The power of this profit motive has – in just a few generations- turned food into something else: processed products with sugar, salt, bad fats, and other additive pumped in and a lot of the essential good stuff taken out, and in which genetically modified organisms are nearly ubiquitous despite never actually having been thoroughly safety tested for humans or the environment”.  This profit goal has turned food, which is essential to life, into something that is literally killing us.

What real choices we have lost in the process include the choice for a diverse variety of safe, fresh foods.  “A hundred years ago, we had 7,000 apple varieties, today more than 85 percent of those have become extinct and most of our milk now comes from one breed of cows and most of our eggs from a single strain of hens”.

GMO’s have drastically narrowed those choices even further.  “85% of the soy grown in the US is genetically modified as is 76 percent of the cotton and 40 percent of the corn”.  And those figures are from 2006, the numbers I’m sure are higher now.  Even though “94% of Americans agree that these foods should be labeled,  as they are in most other countries that grow genetically modified foods (even China and Europe), here at home we don’t require labeling”.  Can you actually have a real food choice when you don’t even know what you are buying??

The Illusion of Safe and Clean:

“Humans have been experimenting with pesticides for centuries, but synthetic chemicals are a recent phenomenon.  Many were born of war.  When Swiss chemist Paul Muller discovered the insecticide properties of DDT in 1939, suddenly the US Military had a quick fix for the devastating malaria and other insect borne diseases that were wiping out military forces at home and abroad faster than enemy fire.  Within a year of it’s introduction into the civilian market in 1946, DDT was being used widely in US agriculture.  Just 5 years later, sales of DDT had spiked ten fold, to $110 million.

Since World War II, the use and widespread application of synthetic pesticides (a term that includes fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides) has soared.  These man made chemicals are now everywhere.  Invisible to the naked eye, they are mostly used  on your neighbor’s lawn, at your local playground and that golf course in the middle of the desert is probably blanketed with them, as is most of the cropland in this country, using a good 1.2 billion pounds of active ingredients in pesticides used in the US every year.”

They have spread to our bodies as well.  “The Center for Disease Control research on our exposure to environmental chemicals has found that most of us are walking around with a significant “body burden” of chemical residues, including pesticides with a known toxicity to humans.  We’re even born with them.  In ones study, an average of 200 chemicals and pollutants, including a number of pesticides, were found in the blood of umbilical cords”.

Low level exposure to pesticides – in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat – has been linked to a broad range of less acute but often very serious illnesses, which may appear long after initial exposure.  “These include developmental disabilities and neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease.  These chemicals can also disrupt our hormones, weaken our immune systems and decrease fertility.  Among children, for whom cancer is now the second leading cause of death, leukemia, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and brain cancer have all been associated with pesticide exposure”.

Why is this and don’t we have a government that is looking out for our safety as a society and government agencies to protect us and make sure what we put into our mouths is safe??  Yes and no….

Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” helped to awaken a nation to the wide spread use of chemicals and their impact on our health and the environment.  Due to this awakening and subsequent public outcry, the Environmental Protection Agency was founded in 1970.  “It took over the responsibility for registering new pesticides and evaluating and reregistering those already on the market”.  Today the EPA’s stance on the threat of pesticides leaves no doubt: “Labratory studies show that pesticides can cause health problems such as birth defects, nerve damage, cancer and other effects that might occur over a long period of time”.  No doubt yes, but the EPA rarely pulls a chemical from the maket ” and even when it does the chemicals toxic effects can still linger.  With a half life of 15 years, DDT (pulled from the market in 1972 after 675,000 tons of it had already been applied) is still found in the environment and in our bodies”.

“There is no compelling reason to take the risks that we do with chemical pesticides.  Consider, first, that many pesticides are applied just for cosmetic appearances – to make that orange with the flawless skin or that perfectly red apple”. Think twice about that before you ponder the choice between what may look good and what may be good.  “We also know that there are less toxic alternatives to many chemicals, some made by the very same companies, but sold elsewhere….Syngenta, the maker of atrazine, one of the most widely used herbicides in the US, sells a less toxic alternative, terbuthylazine, in the European market, where atrazine is banned” ….hmmmmm!!  Demand better. It is not “extremist” to promote the idea that our food not only look clean but actually be clean.

The Illusion of Cheap:

When we go to the grocery store we pay a set price for our foods, right?  The price that is on the shelf in front of that food reflects what the going rate for the cost of providing us that food is, right?  Well, not quite.  The price only tells you what you pay right then and there for that food.  But is does not tell you about the “externalities”  you also pay for.  “Externalities is economics fancy-talk for the costs we as a society shoulder for individual and corporate actions.  So how much are we really paying for our food?  One estimate puts the total cost of externalities related to industrial farming in the US to be about $6 billion to $17 billion a year.  Those estimates include the costs of:

  • water pollution from agricultural run chemical run off and waste from factory farms
  • soil deterioration from pollution and loss of topsoil
  • impact of pesticides on ecosystems and human health
  • pollution from release of greenhouse gases from cropland and livestock operations

Oh yeah and what about the price we pay for oil….industrial farms in the US use up to 100 billion gallons of oil each year in manufacturing our food.  Too many dollar signs to put an accurate figure on that one.

Another hidden cost is found in our health care system, by what processed foods have done to our waistline and overall health, results in hundreds to thousands of hard earned dollars to try to fix that weight gain either through diet products and prescription drug costs to correct the health issues that have arisen from that weight gain.  “The weight gain that gives rise to all this has it’s effects in surprising places….the ten extra pounds the average American gained in the 1990’s  required the airline industry to use 350 million more gallons of fuel per year”.

The Illusion of Fairness:

“Economists generally agree that once four companies control 40 percent or more of a market, real competition –  what we consumers rely on for fair prices and practices – is shot.  With that 40% benchmark in mind consider the following:

  • In Meat:  the four largest beef processors control 84% of the market, pork manufacturers control 64%, and the poultry manufacturers 56%
  • In Food Processing:  the four largest companies process 63% of flour and 80% of soybeans
  • In Commercial Seeds:  four companies: Cargill, Monsanto, Novartis, and ADM – control 80% of the market
  • In GMO seeds: roughly 90% of the market is controlled by one comapnay, Monsanto
  • In Pesticides: six companies – BASF, Bayer, Dow, DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta- control between 75-80% of the world pesticide market
  • In Retail Food Sales:  the top five supermarkets now control almost half of retail sales. Walmart, which entered the food sales market only 20 years ago, now roughly collects one out of three of our food dollars

This concentration of control over our food has huge consequences.  It affects food quality as well as our bottom line; choice as well as fairness”.

What then, about the farmer’s growing for these companies? When you think about our nation’s farmers, do you still envision a rural setting within which a close knit family is working hard to provide for their communities.  Well, they are working hard that’s for sure but much of their “independence and the once fairness that there was in the farm economy, disappeared a long time ago.  Now, many farmers no longer own their own land, they rent it from corporations with headquarters in far away cities”, often having been left no choice but to do just that.

“While contracts with these companies pitch the promise of lifting the nerve wracking risks of farming -unpredictable weather and prices- many farmers expressed that these contracts bring on whole new risks”.  Big debt being a key factor and a dangerous one.  “Contract poultry farmers must take out loans of up to a million dollars to build the required facilities before they even get their first contract”.

Contract farmers must also agree to keep quiet.  “Forced into silence, farmers lose community solidarity and their capacity to work together for a fairer deal.”

Check out the trailer for the movie Food Inc:  and then consider watching the full length version after you finish reading this post!

The Illusion of Progress:

Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry said it so well…”If looking back on several million years of human evolution teaches us anything about human nature, it is that we are constant innovators.  As our tools have become more complex, so have our innovations.  But we have evolved tools far faster than we have evolved an ethics of progress – a morality of technology.  And we’ve developed technology faster that we have developed the safeguards to protect our common assests – air, water, soil, and more – from technology’s unintended consequences”.

One of Two questions arise as we ponder progress…”Can it be done?” or “Should it be done?”  Asking the question “should it be done?’ does not mean “arresting innovation, it means we choose the best path of innovation.  It means we ask “is there a better alternative?”, “what are the possible consequences?” and “who may benefit and who may suffer?”.

The question “can it be done” was asked often by the biotech industry and as a result we have genetically modified foods.  “First released in the 1990’s, GMO’s are now found in 70% of processed foods in our supermarkets.  Check out the following videos on GMO’s to learn more and to learn what the scientists behind these GMO’s are saying…

“What the public fears is not the experimental science,” writes renowned cellular biologist and author Barry Commoner, “but the fundamentally irrational decision to let it out of the lab into the real world before we truly understand it.”

“We’re being sold the idea that our industrial approach to farming- with the latest genetically modified twist – is the avatar of progress, but this might just be the grandest illusion of them all.   Real progress is coming to a shared understanding of our values and seeking out paths, not for the greatest profit for a few, but for the greatest benefit to the many.

The Illusion That What We Want Doesn’t Matter: 

(and guess what?!…VT is making it’s voice heard!)

Around the world, more and more countries are saying no to GMO’s.  They are demanding that foods containing GMO’s should be labeled.  Europe, Australia, many countries in Asia and across South America, have implemented law requiring the labeling of GMO’s or even, as in the case of Costa Rica, the total ban of GMO’s in their countries…””Monsanto the company responsible for more than 90% of industrial releases of transgenic organisms in the world has decided to withdraw its request to release genetically modified corn (maiz) in Costa Rica and to pull out of the country. Environmentalists in Costa Rica are still working to strengthen the campaign for an GMO-free country.”  Even in the storm ravaged country of Haiti, the poorest nation in the western world, the people and the govenment declined the GMO seeds sent to them from Monsanto, and went so far as to burn them in protest.

We, as a people have a choice and a voice.  Those in office in the states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Vermont, Conneticut and Washington State are acting now to stand up to GMO’s.  The concerned citizens, including many farmers, of these states are working with their state governments to either require labeling of GMO’s or ban the spread of GMO crops.

Way to go Vermont!!……. “Vermont has taken the initiative against Monsanto and other biotechnology corporations in launching new legislation that would require the labeling of products containing genetically modified ingredients. The bill, known as the ‘VT Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act’, was introduced to the Vermont House of Representatives by Representative Kate Webb of Shelburne on February 1st, 2012. The bill would require the labeling of not only products filled entirely with GMOs, but also for those partially created using GM ingredients.

Perhaps most monumental is the fact that the legislation would prohibit GMO food manufacturers from using promotional labels like “natural,” “naturally made,” “naturally grown,” “all natural,” or any words of similar import. The bill, which can be read for free online, would require strict and clear labeling on GMO-containing food items. The wording states that in the case of a raw agricultural commodity, the label ‘genetically modified’ would be clearly visible. As for processed food products, the words ‘partially produced with genetic engineering’ or ‘may be partially produced with genetic engineering’ would appear prominently on the front or back of the package.

Get off the couch, get out of the house, talk to your neighbors and use your voice!  What you want and what you say really does matter.  Work now to create a better future for your children and for the health of our planet!!  The choices you make really do matter as well…be informed and make the best choice your can.

Sources:

  • Grub: ideas for an urban organic kitchen by Anna Lappe and Bryant Terry
  • Organic Consumer’s Association

My Plastic Rant!

I originally wrote this over a year ago for the Muscles Not Motors Website, for which I am thankful to be a ‘spoke‘, a few months ago but feel compelled to share on this site as well.  It’s a never ending story, one we hear time and time again…that is why I try to offer a solution or at least a challenge to myself and to you all vs just ranting!  Please read and remember the  4 R’s: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE!

Being an outdoor enthusiast, lover of the outdoors, tree hugger, dirt worshiper, earth mama, grass sniffer, forest freak, ocean lover, sun worshiper…whatever name you want to give it…I feel a need to protect these beloved playgrounds from the waste of our existence.

Plastic is abundant on our shores, in our ocean and thus in our bodies. It finds a way to entangle itself around rocks, roots, and marine life and in a vast plastic wasteland in the Pacific Ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is roughly the size of Texas, containing approximately 3.5 million tons of trash. Shoes, toys, bags, pacifiers, wrappers, toothbrushes, and bottles too numerous to count are only part of what can be found in this accidental dump floating midway between Hawaii and San Francisco.

After a cold January surf session in New England a few days ago, as Skye and I were eating some grub, he paused to work something out of his ear. Assuming it was yet another piece of seaweed, he was about to flick it when he stopped, looked at, it and found that it was a piece of plastic from the ocean.

Plastic is a marvel of a creation. Some might even call it man’s greatest creation. It surrounds us every where we look. It is durable, versatile, adaptable, transferable and universal. There is nothing in the world quite like plastic. It’s been estimated that it takes over 1,000 years for a single piece of plastic to break down. That’s an amazing invention on the part of the human race.  But wait, 1,000 years…how long does mama earth have? Plastic is forever. How many times have we heard that saying? As great as it is, plastic is also destructive, devastating and deplorable.

Single use plastic is the worst of all. Plastic creates toxic pollution at every stage of its existence: manufacture, use, and disposal. Consumption of disposable plastics—bags, bottles, straws and so forth—has spiraled out of control. Approximately 380 billion plastic bags are used in the United States every year. That’s more than 1,200 bags per U.S. resident, per year. These items are used for seconds, hours or days, but their remains last forever.

Plastic is on my mind every day. Right now as I write, Skye is walking around the house commenting on what he is doing that involves plastic: “I’m putting the leftovers in plastic to go into the plastic fridge then I will wash the dishes with this sponge made of plastic materials.  Now I am going to turn on my plastic computer so I can download pictures from my plastic camera of our day surfing on plastic composed surfboards.” Thanks, Skye, your making me feel really good right now! That is our reality.

We can all take action! I don’t like to rant for too long without offering suggestions for solutions.  Here’s my plan:

My mission from here on out is to work to drastically reduce my use of single use plastic: I will try and practice the 4 R’s: REFUSE, REDUCE, REUSE & RECYCLE. (Click on the link to take the pledge!)  No longer will I allow a straw in my drink when out at a restaurant…“no straw please”…wow, that wasn’t so hard. I will always remember my reusable bags at the grocery store and if I forget them in my car (where I will make sure they stay), I will stop and turn around to retrieve them instead of  just saying, “next time.”  Or if I am only grabbing a few items, I will use my strong arms and my empty pockets to carry those items out.  And I will never separately bag my various produce items (what the hell is the point of that anyway?). If I forget my glass jar when out, I will no longer use a lid on my to-go tea, coffee or soup. I will always carry silverware in my car instead of relying on plastic utensils while on the road. (That one hasn’t been too hard since we basically live out of our vehicles!) I will use washable rags to wash the dishes with instead of plastic based sponges. And I will continue to get creative with those random plastics containers…hmmm…a plastic container filing rack?! These are simple things, we can do so much.

I will not rely on recycling as recycling of plastic is costly and does not stem the production of virgin plastic product, and I will instead get involved! Check out your local Surfrider chapter, or make it your mission every day you are out in nature to pick up a few pieces. As 15-year old Cobi Emery, the founder of Pickup3.org, would say, just pick up three pieces.

Let’s Rise Above Plastic Together in Whatever Ways We Can!

The Importance of Quality Digestion!

Quality digestion absolutely cannot be overlooked but unfortunately it often is when we talk about a healthy way of eating.  As i am sure you have heard before….you are not what you eat but rather what you absorb and don’t poop out!  There are plenty of important reasons as to why there are nutrients in the foods we eat…because our body needs them to function optimally and if we aren’t absorbing them properly then we are not functionally optimally. 

We need to eat foods that serve us well, make us feel alive but if digestion is off…its really doens’t matter as much what we eat….and who wants to waste money on quality foods that we are not getting the most from?!  Improper digestion and thus less than optimal digestion can lend a hand to us ‘starving’ at a cellular level and thus the ripple effect of less than optimal health and dis-ease.

What follows is a brief (b/c this is a huge topic!) sum up of some of the key factors that go into proper digestion.  There is so much to consider and so many reasons why someone may not be functioning at their best but this will review will be a good starting point….consult a nutrition consultant for more individualized info.

When we eat and digest food, various biochemical components of the food trigger a slew of hormonal responses in the body.  These hormonal responses control the use, storage and availabilty of the nutrients ingested, where they go to in the body and when they actually get there.  “Different nutrients cause different hormonal responses but all of those responses are intended to correct the shift in balance of our biochemistry by the influx of digested food”.

As you can see… every part of the body and mind depends to the extreme on proper digestion to supply it with nutrients for proper functioning!

Poor digestion is an epidemic in and of itself and it has major implications.  The rise in the sale of Tums and proton pump inhibitors (protonix, prilosec, nexium, prevacid etc) is thru the roof as are the incidence of IBS, colitis, diverticulitis, crohn’s disease, and gallbladder and appendix surgeries.  And unfortunately these meds are often just the thing that contributes to the decline of optimal digestion…yes they may help in the relief of acute discomfort but they were never meant to be used long term although that is precisely what is happening. 

Theere are soooo very many components involved in the digestive process.  We will look mostly at the stomach, the small intestine and the large intestine….and really only skim the surface but attempt to give you a great place to start.  And we will focus on 3 of the key players in the health of your digestive system.  Those three areas are the amount of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, inflammation and good gut bacteria.

We must first remember that the process of digestion actualy starts in the brain and is a part of the parasympathetic nervous system….this is the nervous system related to “feed and bred” or sometimes called “rest and relax” vs the  “fight or flight” mode of the sympathetic nervous system.  So what does that tell us…that you need to be relaxed in order to digest properly! This is the first step… be sure to eat in a relaxed manner, in a relaxed setting and one in which you can take adequate time to eat slowly, comfortably and while enjoying it!  Eating while stressed, rushed or preoccupied sets the initial stage for improper digestion and therefore a decrease in necessary secretions along the way…creating a great set up for reflux, indigestion and poor absorption…as well as other issues down the tract…

Taking time to thoroughly chew our food is also key…just like mama said!…this starts the process of proper carb digestion and improperly chewed food means that it will take more of the important hydrochloirc acid (HCL acid) to do the same job than had you chewed that food up better….thus using up your stores of the all important HCL acid, which as you will soon learn has implications further down in the digestive process.

As the properly chewed food moves down into the stomach, it is hoping for a nice acidic environment in the gut.  In order for proteins to begin to be properly broken down, the pH of the gut needs to be nice and low….and in order for the rest of the digestive process to work…this pH needs to be nice and low!

A healthy low pH signals to the pyloric valve (the valve b/w the stomach and the small intestine), to open and move food to the small intestine.  If the pH is off (not enough acid or too high), then this emptying is delayed, sometimes for hours…leading to bloating, indigestion and fermentation…setting the perfect stage for reflux and heartburn!  These are almost always issues of too poor HCL acid vs too much….if may feel like too much b/c that fermented food creepes back up to where it shouldn’t be.  So, trying to “neutralize” that acid with tums or other meds is actually making the overall situation worse in the long run.

A healthy amount of HCL acid, providing a nice low pH in the gut is essential for protein digestion and at least 14 different minerals as well as vitamin B12.  It is also essential for the proper flow of the rest of digestion!

Some common signs and symptms of potentially low level of HCL acid:

  • Indigestion/bloating/sense of heaviness after meals
  • Gas and belching
  • Acid reflux/heartburn
  • weak brittle nails and hair loss

Implications of a low level of HCL acid: (besides those mentioned above):

  • Poor digestion and absorption of proteins and amino acids which are necessary for sooo much…such as: neurotransmitter production (regulation of mood); maintenance and repair of cells, organs, bone and tissue…sounds like alot eh?!
  • Poor absorption of key minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, boron, iron and zinc, as well as vitamin B12.
  • A poorly digested mass of food (from not enough HCL acid) traveling to the small intestine contributes to inflammation within the small intestine which contributes to what is known as “leaky gut syndrome” or increased and inappropriate intestinal permeability (which is a topic for a whole separate blog post!).  In simple terms, this is when food stuff gets thru the lining of the small intestine and into the bloodstream too quickly thus creating an immune system response and a whole slew of issues from that! (think food allergies, food sensitivities, and autoimmune issues, amongst others).

You see, your small intestine can be described as a case of “inside/outside”.  This is the way the authors of “It Starts With Food” so clearly describe it…..if something is still inside the small intestine it is technically still outside the body.  That food stuff and those nutrients have not yet reached the bloodstream and thus the cells inside the body.  Your small intestine is very much like the skin, keeping you protected from the outside world.  When is it ever a good idea to have skin breakdown or an open wound??…Never!  The lining of your gut is the physical barrier between your insides and the outside world and thus it is very important to protect tht lining!! 

It is super important to consider that >70% of your immune system resides in the gut…to protect us on the front lines from the nastiness that may be coming in.  This is the area of the first line of defense!  When our immune system flares, so too does inflammtion and thus the cascade of often detrimental events.

Our immune system has made a vital alliance with some good gut bacteria or healthy intestinal flora.  They are super important “back up” as well as front line defense to help with: proper digestion on all levels, protection of the small intestinal lining, they help with detoxification pathways and help our body in the production of vital nutrients that effect mood, nutrient absorption, energy levels….everything! …. quite a few important jobs!

So keeping up a healthy level of beneficial gut bacteria is paramount for multiple reasons.

So, let’s look at the ways that disruption of this all important digestive process can occur in 3 of the important areas:

Poor Hydrochloric Acid Levels:

  • Eating foods/meals in a rushed or stressed setting
  • Not chewing your foods properly
  • Eating too many carbs (whther complex or simple) as HCL acid production is inhibited in the presence of sugar/glucose an starches
  • Not eating enough overall proteins from a variety of sources as HCL acid can only be produced in the presence of protein
  • Eating too much protein all at once…we really do not need that 12 oz hunck of meat
  • Avoid unfermented soy (tofu, soy protein, soy milk etc) as it contains enzymes inhibitors that inhibit your ability to absorb various nutrients
  • Chronic stress and anxiety…keeping us in an elevated “fight or flight” mode and not so easily transitioning to the “feed and breed” mode we need to be in for proper digestion
  • Increased, excessive or chronic alcohol consumption
  • Vegan or vegetarian for an extended amount of time without adequate protein or fat soluble vitamin intake
  • Thyroid hypofunction
  • Nutrient deficiences….which becomes a viscious cycle as poor digestion lends to nutrient deficiences which then contributes to poor HCL acid production and then poor digestion!

Inflammation:

  • Not enough HCL acid contributing to leaky gut (which has been implicated in an increase risk of heart disease, stoke, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well a contributing factor to IBS, Chron’s disease, ulcerative colitis and autoimmune disorders)
  • Chronic stress…continuously elevated cortisol levles can do damage in many areas
  • a deficiency or decreased intake of fat soluble vitamins
  • Excess abdominal fat…literally “inflammed” adipose tissue rubbing against the lining of the gut
  • Chronic immune response or overactive immune system (often from chronic or systemic inflammation..again a viscious circle)
  • Various foods and their components…dairy and gluten are two of the biggies…creating an immune system response

Managing Inflammation is key and profoundly impacts your quality of life!

A Decrease in Good Gut Bacteria:

  • Stems from all of the above!…the ripple effect!
  • When thay have to work all the time…you use them up = decreased
  • Antibiotic use

Soooo, when you think about how you personally can take steps to create an optimally functioning digestive system for overall optimal health…think of the measures that would support all of the above….

  • Eat in a relaxed manner
  • Chew, chew, chew
  • Eat a lower carb, higher healthy fat and moderate protein diet
  • Decrease overall: simple and complex carb intake…speak to your nutrition consultant about what appropriate amounts are for you personally
  • Avoid unfermented soy
  • Do not overeat at meals
  • Avoid liquids within 30 mins of a meal (rushes food through too quickly, altering the pH and not allowing for enough time for porper nutrient absorption for all of the body’s important processes)
  • Avoid fruit with meals
  • Eat probiotic rich foods regularly…like kimchi, coconut kefir, kombucha etc
  • Minimize gluten and some dairy and monitor for gluten and dairy sensitivities
  • Soak and properly prepare grains if you eat them and nuts
  • Have your thyroid levels checked (and remind your Dr that the parameters for TSH have changed!)
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Stess Management
  • Weight Managment
  • Supplement with appropriate supplements as needed….talk to your nutrition consultant about this
  • And enjoy life…make time for play and activity daily!!

“Whole Paleo”

As I mentioned in the last post, the topic of the next few blogs will be regarding the concept of “Paleo” and what that means as well as what that may look like. Before diving into the Paleo Diet…the hot topic these days (even though we are talking about something this is thousands of years old!!), I feel very compelled to share with you a highly respected individual’s (and one of Skye’s collegues) write up on this Paleo paradigm. Frank Forencich takes a look at the importance of viewing paleo as not just a diet or a fad etc but rather a lifestyle. He also gives eloquent credence to the importance of getting ‘paleo’ right and what that could mean for our entire society…exciting stuff!! “Going paleo” does not just all of sudden mean changing your diet to eat more meat and no grains but rather to embrace more of the paleolithic way of being in every aspect of life. It included living or rather re-living it fully….That includes moving in a more paleo manner….similar to the way Skye of Mocean365 teaches or the way Erwan Le Corre of MovNat teaches, that also includes spending plenty of time living and breathing outside in our natural world/playground.

Getting back to your roots! This is where living “Roots Wise” comes into play….taking a look at how you live, how you interact, how you move and of course how you eat. So please read through Frank’s “State of the Meme”, gain a bit of insight or a new perspective and then we will move forward into the Paleo Diet and Primal Moving in the next few posts…..

The State of the Meme by Frank Forencich

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

Paleo is smoking hot these days, hot enough to roast a hindquarter of antelope to a mouth-watering golden brown. All the hippest fitness people (the “hip-fit”) are talking about our ancestral origins. They’re reading and writing books, going to conferences, sharing ideas and speculating about the future.

The enthusiasm is well-placed. Paleo holds immense promise for reshaping the trajectory of health, medicine, fitness and human welfare in general. The big-box health and fitness industry is doing its best to ignore this trend, but there can be no putting human biology or evolution back in the bottle. Ancestry has the potential to touch everything in our modern lives, from health and medicine to business, education and social organization.

But what exactly is “Paleo” anyway? Depending on who you talk to, Paleo might be a period in human history, a philosophy for living or a way to maximize one’s athletic performance. It might be a “caveman” lifestyle or a diet of meat and vegetables. Paleo may be all these things, but there’s one description that we need to add to the list, one that hasn’t gotten the attention that it deserves. That is, “Paleo” is a meme.

what’s in a meme?

A meme is simply a unit of culture that replicates, with variation across space and time. The word was first made popular by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 bestseller,

The Selfish Gene. The basic idea is that memes behave like genes. They make copies of themselves and spread out into the cultural environment. And like genes, they mutate, spinning off variations that may or may not survive in the wild. Some memes replicate in astonishing numbers and remain viable for years or even centuries, while others quickly perish.

Once we understand the nature of memes, we get a sense of how best to introduce them into the wild. That is, if you’re out to create a powerful and sustainable meme that will change the world, that meme must have clarity and appeal. If people don’t understand what it is, it won’t replicate with fidelity. If it’s vague, it will quickly splinter off into a range of styles and sub-specialties. If it’s poorly defined or not credible, it will disappear from the cultural radar and go extinct.

With a highly successful Ancestral Health Symposium now on the books, we have a golden opportunity to shape the future of the Paleo meme. If we create a coherent, clear and compelling message, we can shape the conversation around health, medicine and fitness in the 21st century. This idea–that our bodies have a history and that we can improve our health by behaving in ways consistent with that history–has the potential to completely transform the way we live. But if we get it wrong, things will take an entirely different course. If we craft a meme that is fragmented, inaccurate, boring or irrelevant, it will fall by the wayside and perish.

As it stands, we’re already seeing some distinct variations on the Paleo meme:

academic paleo

The original version comes to us from university lecture halls, laboratories and the fossil beds of East Africa. This is the labor-intensive, hard-won, scientific version of human prehistory. The advantage of this meme is that it’s highly credible and probably accurate in most respects. Unfortunately, it’s damn hard work. To really get to a complete picture of human history at this level, we’ve got to be fluent in paleontology, evolution, molecular biology and a host of related sub-disciplines. We need the authority of this meme, but it’s almost a full-time job in its own right.

cartoon paleo

At the other end of the sophistication spectrum we find “cartoon Paleo.” In this variation, slackers are content to go forth with the caveman image and are not inclined to ask deeper questions. For many, “Meet the Flintstones” is all the explanation they need. This meme is quick to propagate because its easy to comprehend, never mind the fact that it’s completely inaccurate and profoundly misleading. Fortunately, the Flintstones meme is starting to crumble under a mountain of hard evidence.

romantic paleo

Also known as “New Age Paleo,” this meme views human prehistory as a time of perfect physical health and spiritual connection with nature and the cosmos at large. In this utopia, there was no hardship, no disease, no anxiety and no unhappiness. This vision, of course, is nonsense. In actual fact, life in the Paleo would have been a mixed bag of pleasure and pain; we can be certain that many individuals suffered excruciating injuries, predator attacks, sunstroke, hypothermia, starvation, snakebites and poisoning by toxic plants. Human health was robust in prehistory, but life was not a free ride.

athletic paleo

This is the “Born to Run” variant in which athletes, usually runners, cite and embrace evidence that supports their favorite athletic pastime, usually running. There’s lots of cherry picking going on at this level, leaving us with the impression that the Paleo was little more than a grassland version of the Ironman or an ultra. In this meme, there’s so much talk about athletic performance that proponents become blind to other dimensions of paleo living. What about tracking, gathering or natural history? What about social living and tribal cohesion?

macho paleo

Closely related is macho-Paleo, fueled by testosterone. In this predominately male fantasy, human prehistory was all about getting together with your mates, killing animals and having an outdoor barbeque. This meme dovetails nicely with popular chest-thumping boasts such as “Your workout is our warmup.” (Crossfit) “What off-season?” (Nike) and “My best vacation is your worst nightmare.” (Mountain climbers) This meme has more to do with primate dominance behavior than it does with the actual nature of human history.

dietary paleo

Then there are those who focus on the dietary dimensions of Paleo life. These pundits attack grains and vegetarian diets with great authority, but sadly, they never get much past the digestive tract. The problem with this variation is that it’s a fragment of a much larger story. And because it’s a fragment, it tends to get pigeon-holed with every other diet meme out there. In the Barnes and Noble system, “The Paleo Diet” winds up alongside every “Five Minute Diet Guide for Getting Skinny.” This brings Paleo down to the level of pop health where it looses its meaning and its power.

whole paleo

As we can see, all the current Paleo memes have limitations. Most are fragments, some are caricatures. Few of them deliver the whole scope and potential of what the Paleo has to offer. My proposal is that we craft a “whole Paleo” meme, one that’s comprehensive and true to the authentic Paleo experience as it was lived, on the ground, by the people at the time. Of course, we can’t interview such people directly, but we can refer back to early work done by anthropologists who lived with and studied native cultures and indigenous peoples. While not strictly “Paleo,” (as in “old stone age”) these people and their accounts are the closest thing we have to a genuinely Paleo world view.

What does this inquiry reveal? In short, a holistic view of experience, one that includes far more than just the body, the digestive tract, weight loss and athletic performance. Rather, this view weaves mind-body-spirit-land-tribe-ancestry into a single, massively interconnected orientation. In primitive cultures across the globe, from Australia to Africa to the Americas, these interconnected elements are cited with astonishing regularity. In fact, primal peoples find our Westernized focus on single elements to be not just curious, but completely out of balance, even bizarre. In many cases, they are right.

The beauty of the holistic-primal orientation is that it’s both descriptive and prescriptive. It tells us about the comprehensive world view of our ancestors, but it also suggests a sophisticated, sane way forward in a modern world run amok. Specifically, it encourages us to study, not just the characteristics of individual elements in isolation, but the relationships between elements. And in this sense, it’s all about rapport: with our bodies, with each other, with our habitat and our work.

“Wholeness” is a meme too, of course, one that’s appearing with greater frequency in just about every dimension of modern human experience. Not only are we beginning to appreciate the importance of eating whole foods, we also understand the “whole body” approach to functional fitness training. Similarly, the case for wholeness is now being made in disciplines as diverse as psychology, engineering, urban planning, politics, education, corporate management and criminal justice.

And so, this “whole Paleo” meme has immense promise. Not only is it balanced, comprehensive and historically accurate, it keeps our attention moving across a broader range of possibility. It allows for detail, but it also keeps us from getting stuck in isolated specialties and sub-specialties. It inspires us to work creatively and systemically, building relationships that create a more complete and thriving experience. Most importantly, “whole Paleo” unifies the three most important activist movements on the planet today: environmentalism, public health and social justice (including economics). By focusing on the intersection of mind-body-spirit-land-tribe-ancestry, we turn the past into a powerful force for a saner future.

So, let’s launch this “whole Paleo” meme into the wild and encourage its propagation. Let’s talk about diets, athletic performance and medical issues, but let’s keep our attention moving over our entire habitat and experience. Let’s keep our meme historically accurate, relevant and emotionally appealing. Let’s keep it clear, coherent and compelling.

If we tell this story in the right way, it’s going to change everything.

copyright 2011 exuberant animal http://www.exuberantanimal.com

One Thumbs Down and One Thumb Up…..

Wow! So last night Skye and I went to see the movie “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet” and I gotta say we were pretty damn disappointed! I gave it one thumb up and one down b/c I appreciate the point CJ Hunt was trying to make….he just did it rather poorly!

I was excited for this movie b/c i felt the producers could have really driven home some great info to the public…but that was not so. This movie is essentially attempting to communicate that we come from a 2 million year old history of being meat eaters and foragers….a time in which we thrived. It is trying to give credence to the Paleo diet as well. Through poorly edited interviews with some incredible scientists, authors and anthropologists etc, the creator of this movie is offering what could be a great glimpse into why we should be eating in a Paleolithic manner….the way our ancestors ate and the diet our ancestors thrived on.

We got that point. We also got the point that since homo sapiens started eating grains and less protein and fats, our brains began to deteriorate and the onset of modern day diseases began to develop. Unfortunately this movie could not deliver these messages adequately. Skye and I know a thing or three about nutrition, our history and our diets effect on the body, but for the average person looking to learn a thing or two about these things….it did not deliver and I would not advise spending your money on seeing it.

The movie was poorly shot, poorly edited, overstimulated you in the effects and therefore took away from the message. The people CJ Hunt interviewed are some of my favorite authors etc and he made them sound rather inadequate with the clips he choose.

Instead of seeing this movie, I would suggest checking out the Weston Price Foundation, the Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Robb Wolfe’s book “The Paleo Solution” or some of Loren Cordain’s work if you are interested in this info or this way of eating.

This week look for more from me about the Paleo diet, what it’s all about and how to get it right. I will also be teaching a Paleo class this Sept at The Confluence in Berlin, Vt so stay tuned for more info!

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In Search of the Perfect Human Diet….

This week, starting on Friday evening, the Catamount Arts Center in St Johnsbury, VT will begin showing the movie “In Search of the Perfect Human Diet“.  I am stoked to see this movie as I have been hearing about it as it’s been in the works for quite some time and features some of my favorite nutrition authors, who include folks like Gary Taubes and Micheal Eades, amoungst others.  And I am stoked to share this with others!!

Soooo…on Sunday the 5th at 7:30 we will be heading to the Catamount Arts Center in St Johnsbury for date night!

Come join us in checking the movie out!

For the next week, I will blog about topics that are covered like the paleo diet, primal eating, transitioning to eating this way, why elements of paleo eating and living might work for you and how it is also about a lifestyle and not just a way of eating. 

Check out the trailer for the movie and come join us!!

Food As Fuel….Performance Nutrition Class at the Confluence on June 21st!

On June 21st from 5:30 pm to 8 pm, I will be teaching a class all about nutrition for the mover and shaker.  It will be held at The Confluence in Berlin, VT…read on….

Do you want to take your athletic conditioning and performance to the next level?  Are you looking to prepare your body nutritionally for that next race or competition but are lost as to how to go about that?  Are you confused with all the information out there telling you what to eat and when to eat it, to get you to that next level?  Are you a die hard crossfitter, a marathoner, or you want to be one, a biker, an obstacle racer, weekend warrior or an everyday mover and shaker looking to gain the most from your workouts, your training and your everyday movement sessions?

Then join us in the FitPark, our outdoor classroom, for a class that will answer those questions & more. Physical activity, athletic performance & recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition.  We’ll discuss the foundations & the specifics of athletic & performance nutrition, appropriate selection of foods & fluids, timing of intake & supplement choices for optimal health, exercise performance and recovery.

Some topics that will be covered include:

  • The Protein Low Down
  • Healthy Fats for Fuel
  • How and When to Use Carbs to your Benefit
  • Supplements of all sorts…from protein powders to omegas, to superfoods to MRP’s
  • Alkaline vs Acid
  • The Key Vitamins and Minerals for Optimal Performance
  • Electrolytes and Recovery Foods
  • Pre-race prep, mid race fuel and post race replenishment
  • And we will attempt to debunk some of the myths that abound!
  • You will also leave with a sample of the Roots Wise Recovery Blend

Call or email Megan at 603-674-7249 or megewroot@yahoo.com to pre-register or with any questions.  The cost of the class is $35

New Recipes!!

Here are a few more to play with…they have either been created by myself, friends, or Mark Sisson or off that world wide interweb!  Remember that when new recipes are posted they are at the top of that page….the older recipes follow…check them out too!

In the Meat, Poultry and Fish World:

Banh Mi Salad  (yummy!)

Lemon ~ Parsley Brisket

Sweet and Spicy Grilled Kale and Ginger Steak

Grilled Lamb Steaks with Preserved Lemon & Mint Gremolata

In the Snack, Energy Bars, etc World:

Easy Energy Balls

Thrive Apple Cinnamon Energy Bar

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars

In the Cleanse Foods World:

Dr. Fuhrman’s Green Longevity Drink

Detoxifying Dandelion and Bitter Greens Salad with a Tarragon-Lemon Vinaigrette

Wilted Dandelion Salad with Pine Nuts and Crispy Garlic

In the Soups World:

Carrot Apple Ginger Soup (one of longtime favorites!)


Spring Cleanse Time is Back and Spring Cleanse Classes Are On!!!!

Spring is in the air and that means it’s time to do a little cleaning of the temple…your body that is! Skye and I start our 10 day cleanse tomorrow…something we always look forward to cuz we know how great it makes us feel! If you have know me for a little or a long while, you know I recommend cleansing a few times a year and you know I have a cleanse program that I love to share because it is one that essentially anyone can do and frankly should do. Cleansing is not about losing weight but about paying attention to our bodies and giving them what they crave….

Our bodies take a beating, both good and bad, every day with what we put into them, how we treat them, what surrounds them in our environment and how we move them. The ugly truth is that we live in a world where we are exposed to more toxins than our bodies are designed to handle. We store heavy metals and other pollutants in our bodies that can be found in the air we breath, the water we drink and even in the objects we choose to surround ourselves with. Cleansing helps our bodies detoxify, recover, replenish and become reinvigorated so we can keep doing the things we love with all the energy we want.

Roots Wise Wellness has been helping people cleanse and detoxify for years. Through this experience, Roots Wise has created an effective, energizing, yet easy detoxification program that anyone can follow and feel incredible with! There are so many incredible benefits….here are some of the things people have said:

“I felt amazing after the cleanse was complete. So much so, that I didn’t want to jump right back in to my old eating habits. I simply did not want that junk in my system. I felt so much lighter and ready to tackle whatever came my way

“Overall, I feel that the cleanse not only helped me break out of my plateau but it also started me thinking about the choices that I make in regards to food. It also helped rid me of the cravings I was having for sugar. Meg was also extremely supportive, she is knowledgeable and responsive to questions and you just genuinely get the vibe that she is as invested in your wellbeing as you are! Thanks Roots Wise!”

“While, losing weight was not necessarily a goal for me, I did walk away about 5-7 pounds lighter. But it wasn’t about losing weight, which was merely a side benefit. The greatest benefit was how eating foods without any added preservatives, sugars or other junk made my body feel. I learned a lot from the process which I hope to carry forward in my daily food choices. “

“After the cleanse, I felt amazing and my joints did as well!”

“I definitely felt a lot better after. As I sit here typing this and thinking about how I felt right after we ended the cleanse I think I can still feel a lot of the benefits from it even after a thanksgiving dinner. I feel a lot lighter and energized!”

Spring Revisions:

This spring I have revised the Roots Wise Cleanse Program a bit to get more specific to really ridding the body of toxins that have built up….during this cleanse we change our eating habits and thus open the flood gates for the build up of junk to be moved but we need to make sure that we are taking in that which will do just that…bind to the junk and move it out. Along with the original outline of the RW cleanse… some VITAL nutrients have been added, the Master Cleanse Day involves a revamped master cleanse recipe that works sooo much better, more of a focus on managing inflammation, attention to our teeth and our skin and 10 cleansing moves, yes moves, to do everyday to get the blood moving and the toxins removed.

Spring Cleanse Classes:

Come join me for a cleanse where you will learn all about cleansing and detoxifying, why we should do it, how we should do it, and the great benefits that you will reap. You will be set up with a 10 day program to detox your bodies, shed some winter weight, re-energize, get rid of some funky issues and get a new perspective! The results are amazing

This class will provide you with the following:

  • Shopping list for the 10 days (most people do a 5-10 day cleanse, you choose)
  • A sample menu
  • Cleansing food recipes
  • Hints and tips to make life easier not harder during the cleanse
  • 10 days worth of Roots Wise Detox Tea
  • Access to me everyday of your cleanse via email or phone for any questions or concerns and for support and accountability.
It is important to pre-register for the classes (so I know how much tea etc to bring!), so please email megewroot@yahoo.com to preregister or with any questions or call 603-674-7249.

Spring Cleanse Classes Coming Up:

At the Confluence in Berlin Vt:

  • Thursday April 19th 7:15-9pm $30
  • May Class 15th 7:15-9pm $30

At Evergreen Sports Center in Littleton, NH

  • Wednesday May 16th 7pm  $30

At the Surf Cabin in Barrington NH:

  • Sunday May 20th 2-4pm $20 donation will not be refused

At Lichenwood Herbals in Barrington, NH

  • May 19th 10-12pm  $30

At Your House With Your Friends!:

  • Get at least 5 friends together and have me over to teach and share the Roots Wise Cleanse Program! Anytime form May 8th on…Email or call me for more details!

So get back on track, start on a new path or just come check it out!!

Photo by Skye of Mocean365…thank you!