alternative medicine · cleansing · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · health · Herbs

Candida Patrol

Yesterday I woke up in the thick of a dream in which I was eating macaroni and cheese. It was warm and lovely in my mouth and the shock of waking up to a cold alarm and a dark 6:AM was enough to put mac n’ cheese on my day’s to do list. I hadn’t eaten that kind of thing for many months because I am trying hard to heal my digestive system, which includes beating back candida, and candida loves nothing more than gooey, cheesy, pasta. But I seldom dream of food and when I do it leaves such an enormous impression on me that I feel like I simply have to follow through with what my subconscious is craving. The only other times I remember dreaming of food have all been chocolate related. As much as I love veggies, they sadly haven’t made cameos in any of my sleep time adventures yet. Perhaps the overpopulation of candida has control of that area of my brain…hmmm…those little buggers are going down. Controlling candida is so important when battling food intolerances which I wrote about last year, and obviously the battle wages on.

The first supplement I used recently to fight excessive candida is Rainbow Light’s Candida Cleanse.

rainbow-light

It’s easy to take, just one pill approximately half an hour before meals. I could tell it was working and wanted to give my body another bottle of it but when I went to the store to get more they were out, so I got Renew Life’s CandiSmart instead.

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It’s a two-part system and I could feel it working right away even though it instructs customers to start with half the dosage for three days. I think Rainbow Light’s supplement is a bit milder and might be better tolerated by more sensitive folks such as kids and older adults or others with compromised health. Renew Life’s version has a two punch affect and I like the extra whooping, but I am sure it might take some people by surprise. There are other supplements that target candida overgrowth out there but these are the two I’d recommend, along with probiotics of course.

To further help heal my digestive system I’m also taking Pure Encapsulations’ G.I. Integrity.

pure-encapsulations

This is a reparative supplement that is a good option to consider when your digestive system is not in optimal condition. Give those intestines some love!

food · health · kids · modern life · parenting

Cultural Norms

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That two word phrase keeps popping up in my mind now that the first week of school is underway, because schools are such a great place to view a community’s cultural norms. The first thing that is blatantly apparent is the fact that walking or biking to school is not a norm in this community, or maybe this generation. I’m not sure how widespread it is but I do think this greater Seattle area in general has an overzealous relationship with cars. When I read Elizabeth Gilbert‘s book Eat, Pray, Love and she talked about how each city has one word that defines it, I thought that this area’s word would be ‘drive’. Not only for the literal drive a car meaning, although that is certainly part of it, but also the drive that means pushing people to work harder, longer hours than ever before, driving kids to start sports at an earlier age or else lose out on it as well as other extracurricular activities~ music, dance, chess, stem-activities, the list is endless. Not that being ‘driven’ as an innate trait is bad, of course it’s good to be focused and hardworking, and there’s plenty of that around here too, but mostly it seems like a rather overly driven culture here and the actual driving exemplifies the mental and emotional aspects. My older son is in middle school which does not have bus services for the kids that live within a mile or maybe a mile and a half, and they say it’s because those kids can easily walk or bike to school. OK, I absolutely agree that they can indeed walk or bike that far, my earlier posts attest to that here and here, but the thing is, no one actually lets their kid do that. Everyone drives their child to school and the traffic could rival a boy band concert at an all girls’ high school, and yet parents still prefer to put up with the frustration of sitting in traffic, and planning their mornings and afternoons around drop off and pick-up times that take a ridiculous amount of time rather than have their kid walk or bike. It just isn’t done. So, how do you turn around a cultural norm like that? Or should the school accept the fact that they could get a handle on their traffic mess, and it is a problem about which we get regular emails so it’s definitely an issue, by adding another bus or two and picking up most of the car riders? Or should they fight the cultural norm with setting up groups so kids can walk or bike together, perhaps get parent volunteers to escort the kids for the first week until they are used to it, somehow reward the students who show up on bike or by walking, or I don’t know….do something. Because the problem with just adding another bus or two is that we are branding that cultural norm into kids’ heads~ one does not walk or bike to a place that is less than a mile away. One takes a vehicle. Is that really what we want kids learning? Is that remotely healthy for any single person much less the earth as a whole? I don’t think so.

Another cultural norm on display at schools is the food. Oh dear. The cafeteria at my son’s middle school is packed with a dazzling array of junk food they can buy day in and day out~ donuts, chips as diverse as the languages spoken in the hallways, candy of all stripes, and sugar wrapped in a thousand disguises. The main offerings are mediocre at best (nutritionally, visually, taste-wise) and the salad bar offers unappetizing raw veggies which are probably as nutrient dense as the composition notebooks found in the kids’ backpacks. Again, is this how we want kids to learn to eat? What they expect from mealtimes is absolutely going to be influenced by the meals they have five days a week, even if the other mealtimes are different, they are still learning that the norm is to eat junk food. My friend from Israel was so surprised to find that here in the U.S. sandwiches routinely come with chips or fries. In her country sandwiches came with salad or a vegetable, or nothing. We don’t have to accept these norms just because they exist around us~ I often think of the Jane Austens and E.M.Forsters out there that have always written about the ridiculousness of their own cultural norms and eventually those norms did change. We can imprint our kids with healthy habits on a cultural level, or not. It just needs to be enough people’s priority I guess. It starts with recognizing the daily habits they we all partake in, sometimes mindlessly, sometimes joyfully, but all the time repetitively. oggl_00071

alternative medicine · food · health · Herbs · supplements · technology

Ginger Nanoparticles Show Promise for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

I very rarely reblog but this article is such a cool combination of high-tech and traditional herbal medicine that I couldn’t resist. Plus it could help a lot of people out there with digestive issues. Even if you don’t have access to nano-particles, including more ginger in our diets can’t hurt.

Crooked Bear Creek Organic Herbs

Ginger is spicing up the search for a cure for inflammatory bowel disease, according to research published in Biomaterials. Delivered in the form of nanoparticles, researchers believe ginger could offer a targeted and effective remedy for this potentially debilitating condition.
[ginger root]Ginger is thought to offer wide-ranging health benefits.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) refers a group of disorders in which the intestines become inflamed. The cause of IBD is unknown, but scientists believe it could be an autoimmune condition, in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks itself. The two main forms of IBD are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

People with IBD often experience diarrhea and pain – which can be severe – and they may lose blood through the rectum. They are also more prone to complications such as anemia, as their intestines do not absorb nutrients effectively.

Scientists have been looking at nanotechnology as a way of…

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food · gardening · health · modern life · vegetarian

Aging Well Tips

This is a cute, concise infographic from Delicious Living about what things increase life expectancy and also what decreases life expectancy. You might recognize the style from a certain board game of your youth which is pretty darn clever. I think the most interesting part of this graphic is the part about most centenarians being mostly vegetarian with little meat included in their diets. I think the idea of aging well is often not included when people think about their diet and in particular ‘dieting’. Anyway~ can you guess the game?

agingwell-infographic

ecology · food · gardening · organic

Dirt

 

This weekend I was kind of half-listening to NPR while I was prepping gluten-free bread for the week when what someone said about soil caught my attention. He brought up the fact that our ancestors actually ate a lot more soil than we do now, and that soil was also far more loaded with healthy microbes than it is now. That makes complete sense when you think about how much more people used to grow their own food (and therefore ate it right out of the ground) and how much healthier that dirt used to be before commercial fertilizers and pesticides became commonplace, and before the earth was as polluted as it is now. Our grandparents and our great-greats must have thought of dirt quite differently too, seeing it as a fundamental part of the food chain instead of something to be scrubbed off and sanitized away. I looked for the interview I heard this weekend so I could listen to it with my full attention, but unfortunately could not find it, though I did find this article on The Splendid Table about the importance of good soil and getting our bodies in it and it in our bodies. Of course, that is assuming the soil is healthy soil, not soil that has been polluted with “junk food” fertilizers as a Delicious Living article put it.

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To keep soil healthy for future use and to make the plants grown in it healthier and therefore those that eat those plants healthier, it’s important to use natural fertilizers that actually build up the soil and plants instead of conventional fertilizers that provide quick fixes. The slow food movement would certainly concur with that. Let’s build up the soil, the plants, and our bodies as nutritionally as possible with the understanding that it all starts with the dirt. InstagramCapture_a2653364-0100-4a28-badb-402a57f5c2d4[1]

food · gf foods · gluten free · gluten free food · gluten free foods · recipe · vegetarian

Sopsky Salat

I’ve written before about living in Prague with my flatmate and how often our chatter turned to foods of our pasts~ dishes we missed, restaurants the other had to try, and (more often than you might ever guess) frozen food favorites. As two pescatarians living in the Czech Republic over 15 years ago, our choices were slim to say the least. We ate a lot of minute rice, bread, cheese, and if we were feeling flush, canned tuna. In fact, the fish served in Czech restaurants was mainly carp served with head, tail, and bones fully intact which wasn’t exactly making our mouths water, so tuna was as fishy as we got there. Every once in a while, over tea or too many glasses of boxed wine, we’d grow mindful and imagine some day far in the future when we’d actually miss food from Prague. It seemed almost laughable at the time, and yet what else brings a place and time back more poignantly than food? Maybe it was the endless grey dotted with blossoming trees this weekend that had me reminiscing about Prague, or maybe it was pulling on my winter coat yet again while the calendar teased of spring, much like the Czech winter seemed to drag on well past its welcome. Whatever it was, I made up a large batch of sopsky salat (pronounced shopsky salat) to bring back the taste of that bittersweet year.

Sopsky salat was on just about every menu in Prague, and it was also often the only vegetarian item available, so I have had my fair share of sopsky salat in my life. It is similar to Greek salad without the olives, but everyone makes it a little different. I decided to make a version with what I had in my fridge instead of trying to copy an authentic recipe and it turned out pretty darn good, but not exactly as I remember. It might have just been missing the cheap box wine accompaniment, or (more likely) my favorite Canadian companion.

Ingredients:

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Sopsky Salat

1 yellow pepper

1 cucumber

1 medium tomato

1/2 red onion

Feta cheese (as much as you want but I used about 3.5oz, or half that package shown)

1 T balsamic vinegar

1 T olive oil

salt and pepper as desired

To make, simply chop and mix. Let the salad set in the fridge for at least an hour before eating for best taste.

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This was my son’s and my lunch for a couple of days, with warm (gluten-free) toast on the side. We like to spoon the salad on top of the bread and when the bread is still warm, the feta melts a tad. Delicious. Na zdravi! (Czech for Cheers!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gardening · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · low-FODMAPs

More on Probiotics, Gluten, and FODMAPs

It seems the longer gluten is publicly examined, experimented with, demonized and glorified, the more probiotics are studied for their possible help with gluten sensitivity as well as IBS and all other digestive issues, plus a myriad of other issues as diverse as schizophrenia and the common cold. It certainly seems a well-stocked, diverse microbiome is fundamental to a healthy body, which actually makes me think of gardening. Every gardener knows a healthy garden starts with healthy soil, and the microbial bits of that soil are what make the difference between ‘meh’ and “oolala!” Our bodies are the same, depending heavily on the microbial system for optimum health. Personally, I’m aiming for “oolala” as opposed to “meh.”

In the Delicious Living article, Getting to the Gut of Gluten Sensitivity, the fact that gluten intolerance can be helped by probiotics is discussed, along with the fact that which probiotics work best is still unknown and most likely varies from person to person. This is yet  more evidence to support changing your probiotics in order to get the most variety and potency from your supplementation. After all, we all want the best results for our efforts, right? The article also makes the excellent point that it might not be the gluten in wheat (and other things) that some people are reacting to, but instead the FODMAPs as they are commonly known. To put it simply, it might be the carb in the wheat instead of the protein (gluten) that many people have a hard time digesting. For more information on the low-FODMAP diet, Delicious Living has a great One-Week Low-FODMAP Meal Plan which is a super way to try out the eating style because the lists of OK foods and off-limits foods can be daunting at first. Another great resource for all things low-FODMAP is FODMAP Life Blog which has all the lists you need and recipes so you know what to do with those lists.

Enjoy spring springing and all the changes that come about as you tend to your own personal biosphere. Everyone loves a beautiful garden.

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celiac disease · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant · health

IgA Deficiency, Celiac Disease, and Gluten Sensitivity

I’ve written before about my own path to figuring out my gluten issues and it seems everyone has a diagnosis story like mine, though most are far more involved and long-lived, with the average person waiting 10 years for a proper CD or gluten sensitivity diagnosis. Just recently I read that another reason gluten issues are misdiagnosed is due to false negative blood tests~ if you have an IgA deficiency, the blood test for gluten reaction can come up negative even if it is positive. This is a big deal because: “Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency is 10 to 15 times more common in patients with celiac disease (CD) than in healthy subjects.” That is a quote from Clinical and Vaccine Immunology. Another article on Food Matters gives further evidence of the link between IgA deficiency and food allergies and intolerances, such as:

“A significant number of allergic individuals have associated IgA deficiency, and there is evidence that IgA deficiency is linked to the development of gastrointestinal food hypersensitivity. (5)

Increased susceptibility to food allergies is now associated with IgA deficiency. (2,4)”

And, “IgA deficiency is much more common among those with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) than the general population.”

A very readable article on this issue can be found here: Gluten Intolerance & Celiac Disease.

Just something to know so you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones. You can also work on healing your intolerance by healing your digestive system. Here’s what worked for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

alternative medicine · ecology · essential oils · food · health · Herbs · homeopathy · modern life · slow food · technology

Herbal Enhancement and Enchantment

Every single day I use herbs in a multitude of ways and they are not necessarily ‘curing’ anything (although they might be!) nor are they making me super-human. What they do is enhance daily life in meaningful, beautiful ways and I’m on a mission to get others to think about herbs as enhancing their lives, instead of thinking of them in a pharmaceutical way. If people can change the way they think of herbs, they are far more likely to start using them and enjoying their benefits, which is great in itself but also it is beneficial because herbs work best as promoters of long-term balance, so not only would one get the most out of one’s herbal usage, one would also be able to retain balance and avoid imbalances (dis-ease). In other words, more herbs means less drugs, less sicknesses, less doctor visits.  Now I’m all for modern medicine~ absolutely would not turn back time to any romantic bygone era because I wouldn’t want to lose access to our modern medical wonders. I am most definitely not talking about replacing modern medicine with herbs~ if you have a medical issue, go to the doctor. Herbs can do so much more though, and if you start incorporating them in your life, it’s my firm belief you’ll have less medical issues for which you need to go to the doctor. And even though modern medicine may be full of wonders, the truth is not many people enjoy the time spent in doctors’ offices, hospitals, or going through the newest medical techniques~ miraculous or not. This attitude reminds me of the slow food movement so I like to think of it as slow health. Herbs alone won’t make a person healthy, but thinking long-term about health is a great way to start thinking about your personal tendencies and imbalances and how to counteract those things long-term. Many things might help: exercise, yoga, dietary changes, brain games, homeopathy, social changes, journaling, essential oils…the list can go on and on because we are all such different individuals. At a time of year when so many of us are reviewing our daily lives and resolving to do better, be better, I hope in the rush towards better-ness we can all pause and instead of just downloading a new app on our smart phones to track diets, or upping goals on fitbits, we can all think of slowing down this rush which is itself out of balance. Perhaps the best part of adding herbs into daily life is the connection with nature that moment provides.

Lavender

If you own one essential oil, it’s most likely lavender. Add a drop to your pillow tonight, or several drops to your bath and enjoy herbalism that way. In other words, you don’t have to drink an herbal tea or take a tincture in order to benefit from herbs, there is a world of beauty in essential oils that can be tapped through so many ways. Not that there is anything wrong with herbal infusions or tinctures, but if you are new to the world of herbs, I recommend starting with something fully pleasurable and beautiful and hopefully it will whet your appetite to investigate more in the herbal world. Health regimes do not need to be unpleasant~ enjoy creating your optimal health. It’s a beautiful thing.

children · Education · food · health · kids · modern life

School Lunches

 

Dr.Mazes FarmThis is just a short little anecdote that happened this morning. I make my kids’ lunches everyday but my older one is in middle school now where he can also get something there if he so desires~ a mango smoothie, Doritos, or whatever he feels is missing from his lunch that day. I’m not thrilled with his options which seem to include every chip that has ever graced a grocery store shelf, but I do not tell him things are off-limits because really, he could get whatever he wanted and I’d never know. I encourage him to try things while being aware of what is actually in his food. This morning he asked, “If they want us to eat healthy, why do they provide so much junk food?” A very good question indeed. They make the kids who buy a full lunch take raw veggies from the salad bar, as if that will balance out the meal, but of course kids just throw away what they don’t want. Salad bars are great in lunch rooms, but sometimes I think they give permission to make the rest of the food nutritionally void and allow vending machines full of junk in the cafeteria. My son has a very good point, why allow that stuff at all? Why not make foods with veggies naturally in them~ soups, lasagna, enchiladas, tacos, casseroles, chilies, stir fries, etc…? Actually, I heard about a school cafeteria that has a stir fry bar which I think is better than a salad bar by far. The kids pick out meat and veggies and have them stir fried with rice or noodles while trying different sauces and flavors and most likely trying different veggies as they compare lunches with their friends. It’s eating a meal with the vegetable in it and enjoying it, not plopping some raw veggies down next to their pizza and either eating them because of a sense of duty or just pitching them. Plus everyone knows it is easier to get the nutrition out of a cooked vegetable than a raw one. It seems the school cafeterias are set up to perpetuate the notion that kids only like junk food but will possibly eat some healthy stuff if they are made to do it in small amounts, on the side. That is not giving kids enough credit. They deserve more.