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
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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!!

Goals and Resolutions…Why They May Fail and What To Do About It….

 

 

i'm not telling oyu....Tis the season when we all start to think about making that damn resolution.  Sometimes it feels good to set a goal, to commit to something, to challenge yourself and other times we do it begrudgingly or with a sense of dread or even fear.

As a New Year approaches, I challenge you NOW to start thinking about how you can do better in your personal life.  Create goals for yourself….These are resolutions in a sense.  Write it down.  Commit to it.  But in order to do so you need to think about what that entails….how is this potential change going to impact my life?  What changes do I need to make in my life to reach these goals? What are the potential or very real obstacles in my way, seen and unforeseen??  What am I going to do if I start teetering on the edge? What supports do I have in place??  How am I going to Master this new ‘practice’??

While you are thinking along those lines, I wanted to take a minute to share my personal summary of an important blurb from a great book (Mastery: The Keys to Success and Long Term Fulfillment).  Important stuff to read now before you try to tackle a new goal and start to slip away from it or find yourself putting up “fire walls” to it……

When you create a new goal, a new resolution or a plan for change in your life, you resolve to yourself to reach those goals.  You resolve to make a change for the better in your life.  You tell your friends and family about it, you put it in writing. You actually make the change, it works and it feels good! Your happy about it, your friends and family are happy about it.  Your life is better! Then you backslide.

Why?! Are you some kind of slob with no will power??!!  No, not necessarily.  Backsliding is a universal experience.  Everyone of us resists significant change, no matter whether it’s for the worst or for the better.  Our body, brain and behavior have a built-in tendency to stay the same within rather narrow limits, and to snap back when changed – and normally it is a very good thing.

Just think about it:  if your body temperature moved up or down by 10%, you’d be in big trouble.  The same thing applies to your blood sugar level and any number of other functions of your body.  This condition of equilibrium, this resistance to change is called homeostasis. It applies to all self regulating systems from a bacterium to a frog to a human to a family to an organization to an entire culture…and it applies to psychological states and behavior as well as physical functioning.

The problem is homeostasis works to keep things as they are even if they are not good.  Let’s say, for instance, that for the past 20 years – ever since high school in fact – you’ve been almost entirely sedentary.  Now most of your friends are working out, and you figure since you can’t beat the fitness revolution, you’ll join it.  Buying the tights and the running shoes is fun and so isn’t your first steps on the high school track near your house.  Then about a third of the way around the first lap, something terrible happens…maybe your suddenly sick to your stomach, maybe your dizzy, maybe a strange panicky feeling starts to overcome you.  You feel like your going to die!  The particular sensations your feeling aren’t necessarily significant in themselves.  What your really getting is a homeostatic alarm signal…bells clanging, lights flashing.  Warning, warning, warning! Changes in respiration, heart rate, metabolism..whatever your doing stop!

Homeostasis, remember, doesn’t distinguish between what you would call change for the better or change for the worse.  It resists ALL change.  After 20 years without exercise, your body regards a sedentary style of life as “normal”; the beginning of a change for the better is interpreted as a threat.  So you walk back to your car, looking around in hopes no one saw you, and resolve to join some other revolution.

This can happen with any significant change, whether it is physiological in nature or psychological or social in nature.  Take the case of a family of five.  The father happens to be an alcoholic who goes on a binge every 6-8 weeks.  During the time he is drinking, and for several days afterwards, the family is in an uproar. It’s nothing new. These periodic uproars, have in fact become the normal state of things.  Then for one reason or anther, the father stops drinking.  You’d think that everyone in the family would be happy –  and they are, for awhile.  But homeostasis has a strange and sneaky way of striking back.  There’s a pretty good chance that within a few months, some other family memeber, (say a teenage son) will do something (say start dealing drugs) to create just the type of uproar the father’s binges triggered. Without wise professional counseling, the members may not realize that the son, unknowingly, has simply taken the father’s place to keep the family system in the condition that has become stable and “normal”.  In order to survive, we want “stability”.

Still change does occur, individuals change, families change, organizations and entire cultures change.  Homeostats are “reset”, even though the process may cause a certain amount of anxiety, pain and upset.  Just as your body will change, your cravings will change, your metabolism will change.  The questions are: How do you deal with homeostasis? How do you make changes for the better easier?  How do you make it last?

How can you??…….

do epic shitUltimately you have to decide if you really do want to spend the time and effort it takes to get on and stay on the path.  If you do, and if you want to “DO EPIC SHIT”… here are a few guidelines that might help.

1:  Be aware of the way homeostasis works:  This might be the most important guideline of all.  Expect resistance and backlash.  Realize that when the alarm bells start ringing, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are sick, or crazy or lazy or that you made a bad decision embarking onthis journey. In fact, you might take these signals as an indication that change is indeed happening – just what you wanted!  Of course it might be that you have started something that is not right for you, only you can decide.  But in any case, don’t panic and give up at the first sign of trouble.

2: Be willing to negotiate with your resistance to change: So what should you do when you run into resistance, when the red lights flash and the alarm bell rings? Well you don’t back off and you don’t bull your way through either.  Negotiation is the ticket to sucessful long-term change in everything from increasing your running speed or your push up rep to transforming your organization. The fine art of playing the edge in some cases involves a willingness to take one step back for every two forward, sometimes vice versa.  It also demands a determination to keep pushing, but not without awareness.  Simply turning off your awareness to the warning deprives you of guidance and risks damaging the system. Simply pushing your way through despite the warning signals increases the possibility of backsliding.  (think over pushing yourself and your abilities at bootcamp causing injury causing you to miss your next few workouts).

3:  Develop a support system:  You can do it alone, but it helps a great deal to have other people with whom you can share the joys and perils of the change your making.  The best support system would involve people that are going through or have gone through a similar process, people who can tell there own stories and listen to yours, people who will brace up when you start to backslide and who will encourage you along when you don’t.

4: Follow a regular practice:  It is after all a practice, which involves regular time and effort to master.  People embarking on any type of change can gain stability and comfort through practicing some worthwhile activity on a more regular basis.  Practice is a habit, and any regular practice provides a sort of underlying homeostasis, a stable base during the instability of change.

5:  Dedicate yourself to lifelong learning:  We tend to forget that learning is much more than book learning.  To learn is to grow and change, or rather adapt.  Eduction, whether it involves a book, body or behavior, is a process that changes the learner.  It doesn’t have to end at college graduation or at age 40 or 60 or 80, and the best learning of all involves learning how to learn – that is, to change.

6Commit to Making This Your Best F-ing Year!!

best fing year

Dive!

The other night we watched a movie called “Dive: Living Off America’s Waste”.

“Digging into the hidden recesses of the American food industry, this eye-opening documentary reveals the appalling amount of edible, nutritious goods that are thrown away — wasted — every day in a nation where millions of citizens still go hungry.”

Watch the trailer here:  Dive!

An excellent movie about just how much food is wasted every single day at sooo many food stores across this country.  It is absolutely appalling.  This movie chronicles one man and a few friends journey as they raid dumpsters (Trader Joe’s in particular) of still good, NOT out of date foods in an attempt to feed their families as well as their needy community.

Jeremy Seifert is the man behind the movie and has made it a mission to get these large companies to do something more with their waste.  This waste has a HUGE financial, environmental, and societal impact in this country as well as around the world.

“Every year we throw away 96 billion pounds of food”  That’s 3,000 pounds a second!

“It takes 7 pounds of corn and 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef”  That’s a big environmental impact!  That doesn’t include the human life that works to produce this food or grow those veggies….

“After cars, the food system uses more fossil fuel than any other sector of the economy – 19%”  Think middle east fuel dependency…

“40% of the world’s annual grain yield is fed to animals to produce meat”  That’s yet another reason to go grass fed!

These companies are throwing away foods that are not even out of date…with meats and such, they throw them away the day before….and these could be picked up by the local food banks etc, thrown in their freezers and feed to people in need.  Many companies will state that they do not donate these foods because of liability reasons…however if they were to take a moment to dig, they would find the Good Samaritan Act, passes in 1996.  This act encourages grocery stores to donate food and it protects them from being sued for doing so.

The take home message to me was: be mindful of our waste, find a good dumpster, eat grass fed meats, only buy what we WILL eat, grow more of our own food and sign the damn petition to get at least Trader Joe’s to donate more.

Even if you don’t watch the movie, check out the trailer and let’s be more mindful of our waste!!

Roots Wise Wellness!

A New Year is upon us and I have challenged myself as well as each and every one of you to make it the Best F-ing Year possible… for you but also for all of those around you!

Optimal nutrition and wellness is crucial to having the Best F-ing Year and a healthy lifestyle combined with physical fitness, can help you live a life full of vitality and adventure!  Roots Wise goal is just that….to offer you a guideline on how to get there and what that looks like in your own life.  Whole body wellness makes for a happier and more energized you, so you can spread that to those around you and help create a better society in the meantime!  Roots Wise Wellness Consultations cover whole body health… that includes nutritional health but also emotional, environmental, social and creative health as well.  I believe physical movement is also a major key in this quest for total health and therefore work with Skye of Mocean365 to help you achieve greater health through movement as well!  Check out his site at:  www.mocean365.com

Roots Wise and Mocean365 together offer package plans available for you combining movement with nutrition and wellness counseling that are custom to you and as always, sliding scale pricing is available for all levels of income.  We would rather you take us on than be held back my money!

The Daily Practice will now be found here, as well as at The Mocean Project.  The Daily Practice is just that…about what we want and need to practice each day to create a life full of passion, learning, adventure and inspiration. We all have things we need to get better at or want to get better at… so I will be posting something new and exciting to think about each week for the Daily Practice along with a weekly blog about health, nutrition, food, herbs or whatever I diving into!

Feel free to hit the “follow” button on the home page to receive updates via email whenever I post something here.

So, are You Ready To Make A Healthy Change in Your Life??!!  The time is now!!  It’s About Living a Healthy and Fun Filled Life So You Can Do What You Love!!  Take a class, make an appt for a Nutrition & Wellness Consultation, MOVE and drink Mocean Mate!

Let’s all ‘Live ROOTSWISE!’  Ge back to your natural roots of eating well, feeling great and moving with energy!  Roots Wise Nutrition and Wellness Consultations can help you get there!  Offering 3 different levels of consultations to suit everyone’s needs. So whether you want me to simply review where you are at currently and offer ways to improve upon that or you want me to follow your eating and daily habits for an extended period of time to ensure the greatest results.  The consultations include a variety of offerings including  nutrition education, measurements, food journaling and reviews, supplement education and discounts, personalized meal plans, and more.  Check out the rest of the site for more info and be in touch!