Three Silent Troublemakers Standing Between You and Vibrant Health

unhealthyThe moment Jurgen and I began to eliminate the following three major health threats from our diet we almost immediately noticed a remarkable improvement in our energy, vitality, mood, sleep, mental clarity and – best of all – body shape and image.

Within the first two weeks we had each shed the extra 5 pounds, which had stubbornly refused to budge for nearly two years despite our “healthy” diet. Our diet has always included lots of veggies but, in spite of leaning away from a vegetarian diet and more towards a Paleolithic diet, our diet was heavy on grains, carbs and sugars.

But wait a minute … don’t we need carbs? Aren’t whole grains supposed to be “good” for us? What about natural sugars from fresh fruits … aren’t they good for us, too? It turns out – not necessarily so.

According to the solid scientific research – which Dr. David Perlmutter delivers plenty of in his game-changing book Grain Brain – the human body has no actual physical requirement for carbs. This is great news since grains don’t especially want to be eaten, which is why they have a natural protective coating/enzyme that requires two stomachs in order to digest them.  This helps explain why cows and goats can easily consume them without digestive upset – humans on the other hand – not so much!

In fact, our determination to eat grains has us facing an epidemic of people suffering – unnecessarily so I might add – with leaky gut, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, dementia, celiac disease, arthritis, etc. due to the inflammation created by consuming these, and other, inflammatory foods.

I really want to get to the meat and potatoes of the matter – yes, pun intended – so if you want to find out how our health as human beings (and plenty of our pets, too) has gotten so horribly out of whack over the past several hundred years, I’d strongly suggest you pick up the book Grain Brain and give it a read.

For now, let’s get down to what we’ve all but eliminated from our diet (along with our unwanted pounds and the severe brain fog these foods were actually causing) and which foods we’re now enjoying … along with our trimmer waistlines and increased mental and physical vim and vigor.

WE DROPPED THESE LIKE A HOT POTATO:

We started by choosing to drop the following three categories of foods from our diet (I highlight the word “choosing” because when you choose to make changes you’re far more likely to stick to them, versus I should or I must):

GRAINS & GLUTEN – things to know about these first two categories:

  1. Grains and starchy veggies convert to sugar in the bloodstream – sugar is inflammatory, wreaks havoc with blood sugar levels and leads to pre-mature aging.
  2. Grains cause tiny micro-cuts to the gut lining – leading to varying degrees of leaky gut and/or other digestive issues.
  3. Gluten – studies have shown that nearly ALL humans are gluten sensitive to some degree, even if you don’t test positive for celiac disease.
  • Wheat – i.e. whole-wheat forms of bread, noodles, pastas, pastries, baked goods and cereals.
  • Gluten containing foods – i.e. barley, rye, spelt, couscous (see pages 68 & 69 of Grain Brain for a complete list of gluten containing foods)
  • Corn, corn derivatives & corn-fed animal foods – super inflammatory.
  • Soy and soy fed animal foods (see “eggs” below)
  • Carbohydrates – starchy vegetables (i.e. potatoes) “… carbohydrates stimulate insulin production, which leads to fat production, fat retention, and a reduced ability to burn fat.” (page 185 Grain Brain)

SUGARS:

Sugars, whether from natural forms such as fruits and vegetables or unnatural ones such as high-fructose corn syrup and refined sugars, cause an imbalance to your body’s delicate blood sugar balance, feed candida and serve as the perfect fuel for cancer.

  • High-glycemic fruits – banana, mango, pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, papaya, etc.
  • Refined sugars – doesn’t matter if it’s brown, raw or white, sugar feeds disease and disorder in the body.
  • Artificial sweeteners – basically these bad boys are a chemical s**t show and have been heavily linked to a myriad of health problems.
  • Alcohol – I must admit, we still enjoy a glass of red wine on special occasions or dinners out.

So what are we eating?

We’ve added in one of the most important fuels for the body and the brain – healthy fats. I know, blows one’s mind doesn’t it that we have increased our consumption of healthy fats and yet have still managed to shed 8 pounds in only a month?!!!

HEALTHY FATS – the body, especially the brain, uses fat for its main fuel. If you want to knock out hunger pangs and sugar cravings add the following to your diet and prepare to be amazed (find a complete list on page 226 of Grain Brain):

  • Avocado
  • Coconut Oil
  • Olives and extra virgin olive oil
  • Pasture/grass-fed butter or ghee

PROTEIN:

  • Wild fish (please … never, ever, ever eat farmed fish)
  • Soy-free whole eggs – eggs have gotten such an undeserved bad rap even though science has shown time and again that “the belief that the cholesterol we eat converts directly into blood cholesterol is unequivocally false …” (see pages 227-228 of Grain Brain for more mind-bending info on the health benefits of eggs).
  • Grass-fed (plus humanely raised and killed) meat, fowl, poultry, wild game (pork is allowed, but unless it’s nitrate-free I still prefer to steer clear).

Attention vegetarian’s and/or vegans: The goal here is to increase your consumption of your omega-3’s versus omega 6’s so, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you’re going to have a tougher time striking a healthy balance I’m afraid, but you could try increasing your consumption of fresh-milled flax seed.

VEGETABLES (and then more vegetables) leafy greens and lettuces, collards, spinach, broccoli, kale, chard, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, etc. (see page 226 of Grain Brain)

SAMPLE MENU:

Breakfast: Avocado Egg Bake (see recipe below)

Lunch: Big plateful of True Food Kitchen’s Kale Salad (see recipe below) and palm-sized serving of grilled wild salmon.

Dinner: 2 cups grilled vegetable medley (broccoli, cauliflower, onions, Brussels sprouts) and palm-sized serving of free-range organic chicken breast

Snacks: Fresh, raw veggies with hummus OR apple slices dipped in organic almond butter OR celery sticks with organic almond butter

Our attitude is we do our best to eat according to the above guidelines 90-95% of the time (although I must say, grains are out completely – there’s just no reason good enough for us to suffer the digestive and neurological consequences).

But the truth is, I still want to live-a-little, which is why, if we’re out for dinner at a restaurant or a friend’s home I’m not a maniac over salad dressings that likely contain sugar or enjoying a spoonful of potatoes topped with a tiny bit of gravy. Even with those small concessions, we’ve still managed to take our health to a whole new level in a very short period of time.  We hope you’ll believe in your ability to do the same!

avocado-bakeAVOCADO BREAKFAST BAKE
By Wellness Mama

Ingredients:

  • 2 avocados
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • Toppings of choice: My favorite is feta and green onions, but salsa and fresh cilantro are also really good with the avocado

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the avocados in half and carefully remove the pit. Put avocados open side up in a large baking dish. If they are small avocados, scoop out a little of the extra flesh to make more room.
  2. Crack an egg in each avocado half and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until egg is desired doneness. For my oven, 17 minutes gets the perfect egg yolk.
  3. Top with desired toppings while still hot and enjoy!

 

kale-saladTUSCAN KALE SALAD
By Dr. Andrew Weil & True Food Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero) midribs removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Hot red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2/3 cup grated Pecorino Toscano cheese (Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan

Instructions:

  1. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.
  2. Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.
  3. Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.
  4. Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes, top with remaining cheese and toss again.