Tuesday Tip: Use Your Stool as a Tool

For everyone’s benefit, I will abstain from including a picture for this post!

As uncomfortable as this can be for people to discuss (or even admit that they do it?), your very own stool can sometimes be a great tool for revealing the state of your health.

Ideally, though everyone is different, you should eliminate at least once a day.  Healthy stool should be brownish, not black, not green, not grey. If you have eaten enough fiber, they should be light, not dense and heavy. They should be easy to pass with not too pungent of an odor. Here are some possible and general assosiations:

Bloody or mucous-covered
Could be a sign of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or even colon cancer. It can also be something less-severe like inflammation/irritation from hemorrhoids.

Thin, ribbonlike or flattened
Usually the sign of an abstraction like a polyp that narrow the elimination pathway. It can also be a sign of Irritable Bowel Syndrome or spastic colon.

Large and leaves a film in the toilet
Can be a sign of malabsorption, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Abnormally fatty stools
Could be a sign of pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas that can lead to diabetes

Extremely foul-smelling
May mean you have a deficiency of “friendly bacteria” that inhabit your intestines or Candida yeast overgrowth.

Greenish
Food may be moving too quickly through the large intestine (as with diarrhea) and as a result, the yellow-green bile doesn’t have time to break down completely. Also could be a simple reason like the need to cut down on sugar or it may mean you need more whole grains Possible dietary causes could be the inclusion of green leafy vegetables or green food coloring (such as in popsicles or juices with artificial food coloring) or from iron supplements.

Pale, greyish
Can be a sign of liver or gallbladder problems as it probably indicates a lack of bile and therefore a possible blocked flow of bile into the intestines.

Black, tar-like
May mean you have bleeding in your upper digestive tract, stomach or esophagus. Also could be from iron supplements, Pepto-Bismol or black licorice!

Reddish
Humorously, usually the result of eating red foods like beets! If it is bright red, could indicate bleeding in the rectum.

Dark brown
May mean there is too much salt in your diet or that you are not passing your stools quickly enough (eat more fiber!)

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“Forks Over Knives” Movie Critique

If you have seen the movie, you have to read this. This review was not written by me (written by Denise Minger who writes a real food blog called Raw Food SOS) but it is compelling and truly incredible. (It is also long, so do what you need to do!)

As she says at the beginning, this “isn’t a ‘review’ so much as it is a chronological critique of the scientific claims made throughout this movie.” Because we all want to know what the REAL facts are and not just see hear one part of a story.

Here’s the rest of the story…

“Forks Over Knives”: Is the Science Legit?

Incredible, Edible Eggs

High quality protein! Jeopardy fact: eggs contain just about every nutrient needed for health (they are only missing vitamin C!) and are especially high in the ultra-important vitamins A (retinol) and D. In this anti-sun age in which we live, we can use all the D we can get our hands on.  Vitamin A is vital to good health and offers resistance to infectious diseases and prevention of cancer.

You’ve heard of complete protein? Well, eggs make up almost the “perfect protein.” So much so, that they use the profile of the egg to judge the quality of protein in all other foods. They are particularly high in one amino acid (methionine) which is missing from most grains.

They are no longer being incriminated and demonized in the way they formerly were for raising cholesterol. Ironically, they actually keep cholesterol moving in the bloodstream, thanks to Choline (B vitamin).

Some sweet things about eggs:

  • They are brain food. Contain EPA and DHA, which are vital to the nervous system of infants and mental acuity in the adult.
  • Vitamin K in the yolk helps prevent bone loss.
  • They contain the kind of iron (“heme”) that is most easily absorbed in the body.

Don’t separate the yolk from the white, either. Why?

  • Protein cannot be adequately utilized without dietary fats. You cannot digest the protein in the egg white without the fat in the yolk. This is important. And don’t torture yourself by eating tasteless yucky white-ness in a bowl!
Never eat powdered eggs or anything with powdered eggs in them. This also includes anything that says “protein isolates,” whether it be soy, whey, or egg. They contain a form of oxidized cholesterol which is terrible for your heart.
The nutritional profile of an individual egg depends largely on the diet of the chicken. Grocery store eggs, sometimes even those labeled “free-range” often have an off-balance Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio and are deficient in some of the desired nutrients. Buy the best eggs you can afford and try to find pastured eggs if at all possible. When cracked into a bowl, you should see a nice dark yellow/orange-ish color, not a pale yellow yolk.
Eat as many eggs as you want and cook them in as much butter as you want. Traditional cultures have been doing this for centuries- without heart disease, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, or raised serum cholesterol levels. Do some research and enjoy your breakfast!

Where Do YOU Get Your B12?

There is a myth going around: All the protein, vitamins and minerals you need can be found in plant foods.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. I would like to take some time to dispel the myth, using one small vitamin: B12.

Exhibit A: The new poster I just got for my fridge at the local health food store. I was so excited about it… after I cut off the fats and protein section, which told me to eat no meat but soy everything. Then, my eyes landed with devastation on the B12 column. Take a gander:

Unrelated to B12, let me go ingredient by ingredient by what they suggest we eat for B12.

  • Soy. Far too high in phytoestrogen (plant hormone) to be consumed at the levels in which we consume it, not to mention the anti-nutrients and phytic acid in the soybean.
  • Cereals are extruded and made in a factory. They aren’t real food. Don’t eat cereal, it’s not good for you.
  • Margarine. Again, made in a factory. It’s vegetable oil at its worst. (Vegetable oil is also no good for you. Along with Canola oil. Don’t ever consume either.)
  • Soy “meat”. Need I say more? Why are we making “meat” out of things that aren’t meat? Do you realize the processing that goes into something like this?Avoid processed foods, especially those with soy in them.
  • Yeast Extract. We’ll get to that in a few paragraphs.)

There is also some small type at the bottom which says, “It is important to ensure a good dietary source from fortified foods (3 mcg/day) or a supplement (10 mcg/day). Reduced amounts for children. Chew tablets.”

NO!

Really. God really made our bodies to need vitamin companies and cereal manufacturers to fortify our foods so that we aren’t B12 deficient? So you’re telling me that for the last however many thousands of years of human history, man was destined to suffer B12 deficiency because the fortification and synthetic vitamin science hadn’t yet been developed????

Let me tell you one bit of handy vital information: Usable B12 is found ONLY in animal foods. Let me rephrase in case you missed it. If you want to thrive, you need B12. If you want B12 in your body, you have to eat B12. You can only get B12 your body can use by eating animal foods. It is simply not absorbed from plant sources.

Why is B12 important?  It is needed:

  • for healthy blood (needed to prevent anemia)
  • for a properly functioning nervous system
  • to maintain fertility
  • to promote normal growth and development.
The skeptic or Vegan may now argue: B12 is found in plant forms. Spirulina, algae, tempeh, miso and tamari and nutritional yeast all contain B12. However, did you know that when blood tests were done on individuals eating these products, their B12 blood level showed no increase*? Also, nutritional yeast is a good source for the B complex– all but B12. For some reason, our bodies do not use B12 from plants.
B12 is also destroyed by pasteurization. So a vegetarian that drinks milk still needs to find another source of B12. Another reason it is so important to use Raw milk.
B12 is absorbed through the cells in your stomach. Vegans are often deficient if no supplementation is given. Even meat-eaters may sometimes become deficient because the ability to assimilate the B12 declines with age. Many elderly suffer from B12, even while continuing to eat meat.
Vitamin B12 deficiency can present itself in many forms. Some examples: depression, multiple sclerosis, dementia, Alzheimer’s, psychiatric disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolarity, anemia, cancer, and heart disease.

Early signs of deficiency include fatigue, tingling in hands and feet, sleep disorders and a tendency to irrational anger (one of the first clues).

Best sources: Liver, sardines, mackerel, herring, salmon, lamb, Swiss cheese, eggs, haddock, beef, blue cheese, halibut, scallops, cottage cheese, chicken and milk.

Go get some B12! And no, I don’t mean from the health food store. Unless that is where you buy your meat.

*from James F. Scheer, Health Freedom News

Activators for Kids Health

“Activation is supplying the body with herbal remedies and foods which give the body’s energy a boost so that it will be able to complete the healing process. …we merely supply raw materials and an environment which supports the body in doing its own healing.” —The ABC Herbal by Steven H. Horne

When my kids are starting to show signs of possible sickness, we do a few things to help their little immune systems fight off whatever is attacking it. One of these things is using “activators.” There are many different ones you can use, but some of the easiest and least “hippie-ish” are: peppermint, elderberry, chamomile, ginger, cinnamon, and garlic.

Peppermint: Straight peppermint is an excellent activator and children can drink it as a tea, warm or cold. Buy bulk peppermint at the health food store and make into a tea. Strain and add a few drops of stevia or honey (optional). You can also use some Peppermint Essential Oil or Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap in a hot bath or shower and make sure you lather it on their lymph nodes- under their armpits, on their chest, on the neck (making sure not to get it in their eyes…. oh does it burn…) and leave it on for a little bit until it “feels cold” as my child says. This can clear up congestion once it sets in and even prevents it from ever forming into anything significant at all!
Ginger: Great as a “tea,” same as with peppermint. Grate or cut off a few small pieces, put in boiling water and add a few drops of honey.
Elderberry: Of course you can always make your own glycerite, but if you’re not into that, you can buy Elderberry tincture or Elderberry syrup at the health food store. Or buy the whole elder berries and add to oatmeal, pancakes, etc…
Chamomile: Helps to settle the stomach and calm the nerves.
Cinnamon: Add to foods
Garlic:  add to foods (guacamole), crush, mince and swallow with water or honey on a spoon (just a little at a time to prevent a tummy-ache). Do a garlic enema (Puree a clove of garlic in a little water. Strain it into an emptied out disposable enema bottle. Use enema, repeat as necessary. Easiest way to get raw garlic into a kid when they are sick and/or constipated!)

To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate: References

Vaccinations. I know this is a super HOT topic as of late. Not many other topics, maybe besides Jesus and politics, cause such division between friends and family! Most people have strong opinions on the matter and are polarized on either side of the debate. It is VITAL to be informed on all sides, knowing the risks as well as the benefits, what Dr.’s and health experts say, what the side-effects and long term consequences are, and what your rights and responsibilities are as a parent. Also in some of these books is information on adult vaccinations (tetanus, flu shots, etc…)

After much personal research, we have chosen not to vaccinate at all, ever. Here are a few of the books I used as my guide (and still use as reference and re-reading material):

Vaccinations, a Thoughtful Parents Guide

This book was pretty good for those who are on the fence. Gives  a middle of the road approach. Good for information on both sides of the debate when you’re just starting out.

Vaccines, Are They Really Safe and Effective?

The best book for short and sweet answers to each vaccine and their potential problems. Also shows charts and graphs of disease rates declining before vacinnes are introduced. My #1 recommendation for parents just entering the vaccine controversy.

How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor

This book just touches on the vaccine issue and delves into many other issues, as well. A great one to keep on the shelf for reference when it comes to your child’s health. Written from a pediatricians point of view, it is helpful to hear what he saw in his years of actually giving vaccines and what he, as an MD, thinks is necessary and what you should pass on.

Raising a Vaccine Free Child

Despite the truly terrible book cover, this was the most informative, comprehensive book! Though not written by a doctor or health professional, she is a parent and researcher who chose not to vaccine BEFORE there was mainstream controversy over the issue… and in another country where diseases were prevalent. Once we had decided not to vaccinate, this was the mortar to fill in the cracks.

Do you have any favorites??

A Closer Look: GARLIC

We are a garlic family. When we are sick, our first go-to remedy is garlic (and yes, we stink when we use it… but at least we’re not sick often!). When our son is sick, or becoming sick, we have him swallow raw crushed and minced garlic (we call it “hot honey”- we coat it in honey on a spoon and he swallows it). We have been doing this since he was 1 and it has proven to shorten the life of many colds and most times even stop them before they really start! We use it in many different medicinal ways. It is an incredibly complex and underestimated herb that the Creator God has given us for our benefit and our pleasure (after all, what would cuisine be without it?!).

Garlic is an antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, antiparasitic, antiprotozoan, antiviral, antifungal, anthelmintic, immune-stimulating, hypotensive, diaphoretic, antispasmodic, and a cholagogue.

Garlic is a well-known culinary herb. It is the most powerful herb for the treatment of antibiotic-resistant disease (followed by Grapefruit Seed Extract). No other herb comes close to the multiple system actions of garlic, its antibiotic activity, and its immune-potentiating power.

When the bulb is bruised or crushed, garlic produces a byproduct compound called allicin. Allicin is not in an untouched clove of garlic. The amino acid in an ordinary clove, alliin, comes into contact with an enzyme, allinase, and produces a conversion to allicin. Allicin is produced when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the more intensive the crushing, the more allicin is generated and the stronger the medicinal effect. Allicin starts to degrade immediately after it is produced, so its medical effectiveness decreases over time. It should be consumed within an hour of crushing.

Clinical studies have repeatedly shown that garlic is active against strains of bacteria that are highly resistant to antibiotics. Unlike many herbs, garlic is directly effective against viruses. Garlic is perhaps the most extensively tested herb in the world; in vitro, in vivo, and human trials have shown its powerful effectiveness against bacterial and viral infections agents.

For stimulating immune function and for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol counts, garlic works well either raw, cooked, or encapsulated. For treating active bacterial infection, garlic should be consumed either in uncooked whole form or as juice.

Raw garlic or its juice kills bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract as soon as it comes into direct contact with the organisms. When used as a douche, the garlic juice (or even a garlic clove inserted) will kill bacterial infection. When used in nose drops, the garlic covers the surface of the nasal passages and sinus and kills off infection there. When used on athlete’s foot and surface skin infections, its action is sure and rapid.

Garlic successfully treats the four strains of bacteria that cause most of the world’s dysentery. It is also effective against meningitis and viral encephalitis. Garlic activates the immune system to help protect the body from infection and when infection occurs, to stimulate the immune system to attack invading bacteria more effectively. Beyond this, it has also shown repeatable and impressive clinical results in the treatment of heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, stress, fatigue and aging.

If only one herb could be used to combat an epidemic spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, this would be it.

How to take it: 

  • Fresh cloves: Eat 1 clove up to 3x a day for prevention. The cloves may be crushed, then minced, and mixed with honey for palatability and to reduce nausea.
  • Fresh juice: Juice the bulbs as needed. Take 1/4 to 1 teaspoon as needed. (Though an entire bulb produces little juice, it is exceptionally potent. The best approach is to start with 1/4 tsp. in a full glass of tomato or carrot juice and work up from there. This amount, each hour is a good way to get a large quantity of garlic juice into the system.)
  • Capsules: 3 capsules 3x a day as preventative. During acute episodes: up to 30 capsules a day. (Some practitioners feel that garlic in capsule form is as effective as fresh or juiced cloves. Others insist that it is most effective when using fresh, either raw or as juice. We prefer to use fresh- it is cheap and I am confident that it is the most potent it can be.)
  • Tincture: 40 drops up to 6x a day.
  • Food: Lots of it in everything. Increase during acute episodes.

Side Effects and Contraindications: 
Nausea, vomiting. Caution must be exercised; the quantities used should be small (repeated often) and increased only as the body shows no signs of adverse reactions (nausea). You won’t die if you take too much, but you will want to.