Category Archives: nutrition

Health Benefits of Grass Fed Beef and CLA: Part 2

Grass fed cows can make wonderful cheeses and butters, which are a good source of natural CLA

In a post a couple of days ago, I gave you a highlight of the benefits of eating grass fed, organically raised beef and animal products (like organic raw milk or cage free eggs), as the essential fatty acid CLA can only be derived naturally from these sources. This time around, I expect to show you the actual research that supports this, and how you can relate it to your own health.

Again, CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid which is found primarily in meat and dairy products. So, without further ado’, who are the health benefits of grass fed beef and conjugated linoleic acid:

  • CLA and Weight Loss:
  • Many studies are showing the fantastic link between CLA and weight loss, and how it can alter your body composition in a positive way. A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed weight loss in overweight individuals with CLA supplementation, equal to 1 pound per month. Combined with exercise and stress reductions, that weight loss could in exceed that limit.

    Another study from The Journal of American College of Nutrition presents that studies performed with CLA and animal models show a decrease in adipose tissue, or body fat, whether or not the animal was eating a low-fat or high-fat diet.

  • Cancer: This study demonstrates the anticarcinogenic effects found in animal foods, or CLA. If you are wanting to reduce your cancer risk, or add another natural method for cancer prevention, then adding CLA to your diet may help.Take, for example, this study, which shows that a small additions of CLA in your diet can reduce your risk for cancer by up to 50%. That is significant, especially if you have a healthy lifestyle already, by exercising, reducing environmental toxins and controlling stress.Another study performed at Kuopio University in Finland with 329 women in a French hospital showed a whopping 74% decreased risk of developing cancer in the women who had higher levels of CLA in their bloodstream.(1)
  • Insulin Sensitivity
  • Researchers at Penn State’s College of Agriculture Sciences found that CLA fed to mice prone to adult onset diabetes decreased overall glucose levels in the blood and an improved insulin action.

    The researcher also goes on to say that one should be aware of the trans-fatty acids in the foods that contain CLA, like dairy and meat products. However, these products do not naturally contain trans fatty acids, unless fried or cooked with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. He then recommends margarine enriched with CLA. However margarine contains trans-fatty acids, as it is a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Hmm. Always be sure to do your own research, because even scientists are always very well educated in nutrition.

    CLA supplements have been shown to worsen insulin resistance, rather than their natural counterparts. So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, it is urged that you try to find a source of CLA in its whole, natural form. Perhaps from raw dairy or cage free, organic eggs.

  • High Cholesterol
  • A study on hamsters found that the group fed a diet of CLA had lower amounts of LDL (low density lipoprotein) in the blood, as well as a reduced risk of developing early aortic atherosclerosis. Currently I can only find studies done on animals, such as hamsters, mice and rabbits. But it does give us an idea of how CLA functions in the body.

  • High Blood Pressure
  • One study on Iranian adults with rheumatoid arthritis showed a significant decrease in blood pressure after CLA additions. Another study on rats (because scientist love their rats) showed a positive decrease in hypertension.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid, or CLA, certainly is a good fat to incorporate into your diet, as these studies have clearly shown. Taking them out completely does not promote good health, so utilizing this fat at least 2-3 times a week is a necessary for me. Even if it is only from eggs or raw, grass fed milk, I know I am doing my body good.
CLA and Supplements: A word of caution on supplements – Many studies show an opposite reaction to all the of beneficial side effects associated with conjugated linoleic acid. This is where you will have to do your own research and find that CLA from natural sources, such as grass fed butter, milk, eggs or meat, is your better option. Talk to a trusted nutritionist for more information on this topic.
I hope to provide a series of recipes that can be of good use for both vegetarians and meat eaters alike, who are wanting to incorporate more CLA in their diets. Until then…
This is The Healthy Advocate.
REFERENCES:

(1) A. Aro et al, Kuopio University, Finland; Bougnoux, P, Lavillonniere F, Riboli E. “Inverse relation between CLA in adipose breast tissue and risk of breast cancer. A case-control study in France.”InformĀ 10;5:S43, 1999

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Healthy Weight Week Day Three: What the Heck Can I Eat? – Part Two


Image Courtesy of ChaoticPeace.Wordpress.com

I am sitting here with my Green Smoothie (recipe to come), contemplating the foods I feel are the absolute best modes to optimal health and nutrition. There are so many foods that I know you should NOT ingest, as it will not lead to a healthy weight or lifestyle, so we will start with this list first. I will then move on to the list of foods that should be consumed in order to reach a healthy weight. However, remember that the foods on the DO NOT EAT list can be eaten every now and then if you have no other health issues such as diabetes or insulin troubles, obesity, high blood pressure or cholesterol. If you are exercising, getting enough sleep, getting plenty os sunshine and addressing emotional problems in an effective and natural way, I don’t believe eating these foods, every now and then, will set you off track.

Foods That Will Lead to an Unhealthy Lifestyle and Weight

Below are the foods that I have seen (and have been proven) to contribute to unhealthy lifestyles. These lifestyles obviously lead to unhealthy weights, minds and bodies. Try to eliminate, or at least reduce, your intake of these items.
Photo courtesy 4pack.wordpress.com

All Processed Foods – This really is a no brainer, as most of you who are reading this have already eliminated as many processed foods as possible, or are slowly integrating into a whole foods diet. Most of these convienice foods contain GMO (genetically modified) ingredients, of which we have yet to see any good research to indicate their safety. Knowing that all of the man made foods have ended up being unhealthy, I would suspect that these ingredients are unhealthy as well.
Controlled studies using genetically modified ingredients have only been performed on animals; however a mass experiment is being performed on the majority of the public with these foods, and we will only expect to see the results in the years to come. Please, don’t eat man made or altered foods (“mother nature knows best”), and don’t become a part of this worldwide experiment. Most of the animal studies performed with GMO ingredients have shown liver and kidney toxicity and low birth weight.

Artificial Sweeteners – Again, another man made product. When will we finally realize that sometimes man does not know better than the earth, and start realizing that there are natural ways to bring about the same results? Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet and Equal) and sucralose (Splenda) are commonly used for weight control in popular diet foods (all of which are processed heavily) or as in little packets in coffee or tea.
Artificial sweeteners have actually been shown in controlled, scientific studies to increase the chances of gaining weight and developing obesity. Two groups of rats in this study (performed at Purdue University) consumed artificial sweetened foods and beverages, while the other group consumed a diet of regular sugar. Those that consumed artificial sweeteners gained significantly more weight than those eating regular sugar. Another study involving 18,000 people showed that those who drank at least one diet drink a day increased their chances of gaining weight.
Isn’t it suspicious that with the rise of diet drinks and artificial sweeteners in our food, weight and BMI has increased on average? I don’t think it is as suspicious as it is just plain obvious.
Photo courtesy SixWise.com

Certain Grains – As you are probably aware, I’m not a huge fan of grains. Our bodies are really not designed to eat grains, and our evolutionary history makes this known to us. We survived for millions of years without them, but the advent of agriculture only just brougth them into our diet 10,000 years ago.
Most grains consumed in this country are refined and processed, such as white flour, white rice, white potatoes and corn. These carbohydrates will turn into sugar very quickly in our bodies and lead to weight gain, insomnia, diabetes and other illnesses. Findings by Weston A. Price suggest that grains lead to tooth decay. Whole grains will stimulate your insulin levels as well and will turn into sugar quickly due to the high carbohydrate content. Consuming the grain in its whole form is recommended over refined carbohydrates and grains, but only in small amounts, if at all.
Unfermented Soy


That’s right–soy milk, tofu and veggie products are not good for our weight. It’s a pretty bold statement, seeing as how the market is flowing with soy products, advocating its health properties. Soy is an incredible and powerful health food, but only when it is prepared the correct way.
Unfermented soy contains isoflavones genistien and daidzen which has been showed in numerous studies to supress thyroid function. In fact, the research suggests that excessive intake of soybean products can lead to hypothroidism. This leads to a supressed thryoid function and a sluggish metabolism.
If you continue to consume processed foods, and you want to eliminate soy, be sure to read the label CAREFULLY. My body doesn’t react to soy very well, and it is highly allergenic; however, it is in everything. Just look in your pantry or on the grocery store shelves at some processed food products, and examine the ingredients. 8/10 times you pick up an item, you will see the word “soy” in the ingredient list. This is a cheap crop that the government loves, and most of the time is genetically modified, which, if you remember earlier, can affect your health and weight in a negative way.
Traditionally, soy used in Asia was fermented (in the forms of natto, tempeh and miso) and were, and still are, used as side dishes, not as a main course or a staple. The majority of Asia’s protein intake does not come from soy; rather, it comes from fish and pork. If you continue to use unfermented soy, try and get it unprocessed (very hard to do) and organic. Then, consume it only once or twice per week. However, I DO NOT recommend consuming it, even if it is organic.
Non-Organic Produce

Photo courtesy SCU.edu

Today as I write this, a news report is spreading across the world about conventional strawberries containing carcinogenic pesticides, and that these pesticides are now being linked an increased risk of children being diagnosed with ADHD.
A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology, a study carried out by the University of of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha concluded that exposure to certain pesticides in women caused a higher incidence of thryoid problems, more specifically and under active thyroid and thyroid disease. This quickly leads to weight gain as the thyroid is our main metabolism controlling gland.
Another research study performed at the Danish Research Center found that rats who were fed an organic diet, compared to those fed conventional, were slimmer and were at lighter weights. Along with this was a higher amount of Vitamin E in their blood stream (a powerful anti-oxidant that is important for anti-aging) and slept better (research is showing that less sleep is associated with unhealthy weight gain).
Most conventional meat, dairy and eggs (those that you find in the supermarket) are loaded with growth hormones that can affect your own hormones and your metabolism. These animals are also fed a high amount of grains, something that they are not designed to eat. These grains are high in genetically modified ingredients and omega-6 fatty acids (inflammatory fats) that can lead to weight gain. Currently Americans (and other such countries) are consuming a high amount of these fats. However, there are ways to find healthy animal protein.
Foods That Contribute to a Healthy Weight

All of the foods mentioned below have a common theme–they’re all whole foods. Whole foods are superior to processed in every way, and can help you not only with your weight, but with your over all wellness lifestyle.

Organic Vegetables
Photo courtesy Guardian.co.uk

Raw vegetables are probably one of the most important foods to me, as they supply so much nutrition that is bioavailable such as calcium, vitamins A, C, E and sometimes D, fiber, protein (however incomplete) and antioxidants. Not only are these beautifying foods, they fill you up (due to their water and fiber content) and provide your body with the right amount of nutrition to support your metabolism.
You want to make sure that your vegetables are raw, with only certain vegetables being cooked (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach), but even then having them steamed, instead of boiled. Boiling your vegetables in water leaches the nutrients into the water, which does not provide them for your body. Cooking food denatures many nutrients and also kills them, so other leafy greens and vegetables need to be eaten raw. Juicing or making a green smoothie is a great way to get your 4-6 servings in a day (some experts recommend 1 lb of raw vegetables per 50 pounds of body weight, per day).
It is also important to buy as many organic vegetables as you can, as pesticides can lead to weight gain, can be carcinogenic and also contribute to a variety of other disorders. Some vegetables are higher than others when it comes to pesticide load, so if you can only buy some organic and not all, choose to buy the ones higher in pesticides as organic.
Organic Fruit

Photo courtesy AboutOrganics.co.uk

Fruit is a great food, as well, but shouldn’t be consumed in excess; or, at least, you shouldn’t consume more fruit than vegetables. Raw fruit is best, but dried fruit (as long as it isn’t heated to a temperature above at least 115 degrees) still contains the same amount of nutrients. Raw, fresh fruit will fill you up faster than dried fruit, but take what you can get.
Fruit contains sugar called fructose, which is damaging to the body and metabolism if consumed in excess, and most importantly if it is consumed in a free form (such as HFCS). The fructose found in fruit allows the fruit to be low on the glycemic index, making it a slow acting carbohydrate, not contributing to elevated insulin levels. Too much fruit, however (as with too much of anything), will lead to high insulin, contributing to unhealthy weight gain.
Try to buy fruit organic, or at least buy the ones highest in pesticide resdiue as organic. Those would be anything that has a thin skin (as pesticides can leach through the skin, making peeling the fruit almost worthless) such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes, strawberries, rasberries and cherries. Avocado and bananas are lower in pesticides due to their hard outer layer that cannot be eaten. Avocado, by the way, is an easy digested fat and helps support your metabolism (you can actually eat fat and stay slim and healthy!).
Free Range, Organic Meat, Dairy and Eggs

Photo courtesy ExeriencesInLiving.com

Buying organic animal products is incredibly important if you consume them regularly. These animals are not treated with artificial growth hormones, antibiotics and are not fed genetically enginered grain. Plus, if you get these products free range (meaning they have the freedom to graze out on the land and eat grass–which is what they ARE designed to eat), then you have a complete protein full of omega-3 fats, something that helps out the metabolism, as well.
Raw dairy is something that I’m very passionate about, and I have blogged about this before. Even though it is whole milk, the fat makes you very satisfied and is easily digested. In fact, raw goat’s milk can digest very quickly, usually in 30 minutes. A good digestion system is crucial for maintaing a healthy weight, as good bacteria help eliminate fat and bacteria that could affect your weight negatively. Raw milk and dairy products contain an abundant amount of good, beneficial bacteria, whereas pasteurized milk does not. Find a farmer near you for free range, organic animal food; or, find a farm that can legally sell raw milk.
Animal products provide a complete protein, which is essential for your body (the body cannot make these proteins on its own, or from plants). Quinoa is a complete protein, and a seed; however, I believe animal protein is the best source. If your body responds to a more vegetarian type diet, it is still advised to consume some egg or milk protein (and, of course, raw).
Organic, Sprouted Grains


The best way to eat a grain is to soak it and/or sprout it. Only do this if you find your body handles grains well, and if you are a type of person who needs more carbohydrates in our diets (some need more fat and protein, some thrive well on a more vegetarian type diet, and some are mixed). I have blogged about how to soak and sprout your own grains here. If you are cutting out grains, but not carbohydrates, then you might consider trying quinoa and buckwheat. These are highly nutritious seeds that are a good replacement for rice or gluten free, grain free baking flours. They sprout and cook quite easily (you can even eat them raw!).
Sprouted grain bread is coming into many supermarkets these days, and you should find them in the refrigerator section. You could also make your own sprouted bread using wheat berries, which is quite simple. I haven’t tried using just sprouted buckwheat, but I just may one of these days for all those who choose (or have to) to not eat gluten.
Stevia


This is my favorite sweetener of all time, as it is non-caloric, doesn’t affect insulin levels and actually has some good research to support some health benefits. Because it doesn’t contain any calories, you will be taking in less energy than you would sugar. I don’t always believe the “calories in, calories out” saying, or the “a calorie is a calorie”, because many foods contain different compositions, of which can either help you lose or gain weight at the same amount of calories. However, sugar DOES contribute to weight gain due to its rapid insulin raising effects, as well as having around 768 calories per cup.
To replace sugar in a recipe when using pure powdered stevia, a teaspoon generally equals a cup of sugar. It’s incredibly sweet. Make up for the missing bulking agent that sugar provides, if needed, with additional ingredients and/or liquid (still experimenting with this). This spring, I am thinking about starting my own stevia plant so I can have stevia all year long.
The Fat That Makes Your Slim

In the last post, I left off with a food item that would surprise you as my favorite weight loss/healthy weight promoter. You might have already guessed it, but I’ll take a drumroll anyway…
[drum roll noise]
Photo courtesy Loladisenio.com

…Coconut! Yes that saturated and tropical fat that has nourished many a people is actually a very terrific weight reducer and metabolism booster. Coconut in general is extremely healthy, providing fiber and medium and short chained fatty acids. The fiber and the fat will keep you very satiated. The medium and short chained fatty acids are also immediately turned into energy in the body, rather than being stored as fat. Other fats and oils, such as polyunsaturated vegetable oils (soy, canola, safflower, corn, etc.) are stored as fat more easily.

Coconut also increases metabolism due to its fat. Studies show that supplementing with straight up coconut oil actually contributes to weight loss. This, again, is due to its short and medium chained fatty acids. Yesterday, when I was making homemade coconut milk, I started to nibble a bit at the fresh coconut meat. Immediately I noticed my core body temperature increasing and my energy levels rising. I started doing some moves in that kitchen!
Fresh, shredded coconut is recommended, as well is coconut oil. Coconut oil is growing among consumers, making it available at some grocery stores. You do want to, however, purchase organic and unrefined. This will provide the best taste and you will be insured that it is from a good, organic source. One brand of coconut oil that I LOVE is Jarrow Extra Virgin Coconut Oil.
You can take coconut oil as a supplement, and some people swear by 1-3 tablespoons a day. Yes, a day. I thought that was a bit excessive as well, but when I consider how it speeds up the metabolism and even decreases appetite (in a healthy way), I started to think that perhaps it was a good recommendation. Find what your body does best on, and stick to it.
You can also use coconut flour as a gluten free, grain free baking flour. I go by Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Flour as it is organic and makes my baked goods taste so good. You need to use more eggs in a recipe than you would for traditional wheat flour (a lot more), giving you a high protein baked good. Protein burns more calories and helps build more lean, healthy muscle, anyway. There is a lot of protein in coconut flour, as well as fiber (both nutrients help keep you feeling full and can support healthy weight loss efforts).
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So there you go, the long awaited “Food List” in order to build a healthier, slimmer body; at a healthy weight, full of energy, life and vitality. Start doing your own research on what I have written about here, make your own conclusions, listen to how your body reacts to certain foods and get healthy!
This is The Healthy Advocate.

Spring Into Your Health!

Photo from TheDailyMail.com

Spring is here! The cold and dark winter months are now drawing to a close, bringing longer days and warmer nights. The birds are outside right now chirping away and it feels like Spring. It feels as if life is blossoming all around me, and the joy I feel inside compares to no other feeling that accompanies any other season.

What are your favorite spring memories? Mine would have to be the time around Easter. Coloring eggs, putting “grass” inside my Easter basket and awaiting the Easter bunny (I love that guy!). I would always leave out carrots or nuts for the bunny, knowing that he had a lot of hopping to do that night. It never grew tiresome, waking up in the cool-warm morning, going to the kitchen and seeing my basket filled with an array of colors.

The Easter basket I–I mean The Easter Bunny–Put Together
I did receive chocolate bunnies, chocolate candy and the oh-so bad stuff that I definitely stay away from these days. However I did always spread out the consumption of these things, when I was young, for months, never eating a whole Easter bunny in one, two or three days–but having it last for weeks, if not months, on end. I guess I got down that whole ‘moderation is key’ thing even back then.
By the way, I made some sugar free, completely natural homemade candies for Easter, just so I wouldn’t feel left out! The whole family enjoyed them as well. I will post the recipes in a following post.
Making my sugar free Easter candy


In Chinese medicine, Spring is associated with the liver, the organ that helps detoxify and cleanse our body of impurities. After the long winter months, our eating may have been focused more on heavier, denser foods to help warm our bodies. During the warmer months, it is time for the body to crave more light foods filled with water and moisture.
Keeping our liver clean will help us detoxify the buildup of toxins that have developed over the past few months, and it will also help us burn fat more efficiently. Since the liver is our main fat burning organ, it is imperative that you do what you can to make it healthy and clean. There are a number of ways to do this, and all of them are quite simple, yet hold a powerful impact on your body.

#1 – Listen to Your Body

This is a fairly simple rule, that I am sure all of you have heard before. However, there is a bit of a twist when it comes to it. During the spring, and the warmer months, our bodies will require and crave more water and moisture. If we don’t supply this through our diet (water and food), we will die within a short time. Listening to your body enables you to know when to need water and when to eat foods that are rich in moisture.
Our diet in the spring should usually be different than in the winter, because in the winter you are wanting warmer, denser foods to provide your body with heat. However, in the spring and summer months, your body needs lighter foods that won’t weigh you down, that won’t produce too much heat or cause you to become dehydrated. Choosing the right vegetables and fruits that are in season should help provide you with the water you need, along with a good does of pure, clean water every day.

#2 Tonify the Liver

Spring, like I mentioned earlier, is associated with our fat burning organ, the liver. Help out this organ this spring so it can help release toxins in the body. Choosing the right foods will do the trick. Lemons and limes are amazingly beneficial for the liver, and will help support bile formation (helps digestion).
Dandelion greens are also amazing for detoxifying our bodies through the liver. I bet you were surprised to find that you could actually consume this plant, just as I was when I discovered it a few years ago! Nevertheless, it is a very good green to throw into your salads, green smoothies or to be dried and made into a tea. The leaves are quite bitter, so be aware of this before you ingest them. They may be available in your local health food store this spring, or at your local farmer’s market.
There are also yoga moves you can do that correspond with a health liver (to see all poses, click here). One is a simple forward fold.
Photo from YogaJournal.com
Another is downward facing dog.
Photo from YogaJournal.com

Try these poses for about five minutes every day, or as long as you can stand it, building up to the five minutes. These poses help stimulate the liver in a healthy, natural way.

#3 – Eat with the Season

Photo from SummerTomato.com

Staying healthy doesn’t always have to be difficult. We don’t always have to look feverishly thorugh the supermarket shelves, trying to find the right item that says it will support our health. Simply going to your farmer’s market, or going to your local produce section will give you the items you need.
Eating local is important, but so is eating vegetables and fruits that are in season. Most of the time, if they are in season in our part of the country, than they’re local. Even if it means the next state over, it’s still better than eating a vegetable or fruit shipped from Australia that has already lost most of its nutritional value.
Eating in season will help your body detoxify more fully, no matter what season, because you will have more available nutrients being taken into your body to assist with a multitude of metabolic functions. The vegetables that will be in season this spring, and more than likely be local as well, will be artichokes, arugula, asparagus, chard, mustard greens, spinach, parsley and watercress.

#4 – Meditate!

Photo from EpicSelf.com

Meditation is a fantastic tool for preparing your mind and body for the outside world, and is an incredible way to relax. But did you know that it offers your body much more?
This fantastic tool has been shown to assist in digestion, which can also assist in detoxifying your body. When our minds and bodies are at ease as the result of deep breathing and/or visualization exercises/techniques, our digestion becomes much easier, helping us release and burn more fat in the long run.
So not only can meditation help calm the mind and ease digestion, it can help keep us slim as well! It’s completely free and only requires 10-30 minutes of your time. Start out with deep breathing exercise and then looking into some visualization exercise, such as imagining yourself in a place that makes you feel completely comfortable and serene–like a forest, a brook or any other favorite setting.
There you go! Four simple steps to now implement into this spring. I bet you were already going to do these anyway; hopefully I was just a “push” in the right direction! Feeling great, cool and confident during these warmer months is what you body wants, and the way to do that is to detoxify. Keep your body clean!
For now, this is The Healthy Advocate.

Probiotics: How Good Digestion Promotes a Good Figure

Hello all, this is the Healthy Advocate.

This post will not be entirely about losing weight, despite the title; however, there is a point about our digestion that I will cover here which infuses the topic of weight loss/maintenance, just so that we’re clear.
Good digestion is, what I believe to be, the cornerstone of overall health. Without a proper digestion system in check, we can assimilate nutrients from the food we eat and derive energy from them, we can’t eliminate wastes or harmful products from our bodies, we increase our chances of not being at the weight we want tremendously, and we can even put our immune systems and mental faculties at risk.
The Friendly Guys Inside Our Gut


Yup, that’s right. There are friendly guys living inside of you. There are also some bad ones, as well. These guys are, wait for it…bacteria. You have bacteria living inside of you day in and day out. Now if you lead a normally healthy lifestyle, making sure you get plenty of raw, organic vegetables and moderate amounts of fruits (even non-organic is OK–take what you can get!), get plenty of exercise, sun exposure and are handling stress effectively (did I forget about high quality sleep?), then it is highly likely that you have more beneficial bacteria residing within you than bad bacteria.
The good bacteria inside of you are there to help facilitate proper digestion of your food, enzymes, vitamins and minerals and are also there to support your facilitation and elimination of food wastes. If you have ever taken a probiotic supplement regularly, you will know that bowel movements start to occur more frequently. This is because those good bacteria are getting the food they need–probiotics are basically the “fertilizer” for good bacteria.
Bad bacteria, on the other hand, should NOT make up the bulk of your bacteria count, for obvious reasons. Bad bacteria usually results from an excess of sugar, low to no exercise, bad sleeping habits, and an intake of processed foods devoid of any nutrition. It has also been noted in studies that those who are overweight have more bad bacteria in their colon than slim people, or people of a normal weight.
Someone, somewhere, came up with an ideal ratio of good bacteria to bad bacteria that you should always maintain in your intestinal tract. This is about 85% good and 15% bad–however I find it very difficult to always know the numbers (can anybody? Perhaps there is a test…). Just know that if you are doing everything right (eating the right foods for your body type, exercising, handling stress efficiently, and even taking a probiotic supplement) then you should be in balance.
What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics, like I mentioned earlier, is basically the fertilizer for the good bacteria in your system. Taking a good probiotic, such as in a good, high quality pill form or through plain, organic yogurt or kefir, promotes the good bacteria to flourish to perform their jobs.
Probiotics=Pro, meaning for, and bio, meaning life. These are the millions of microorganisms that support the life of your intestinal tract and the health of your colon (it kind of sounds a little gross, but it’s quite cool when you stop to think about it – millions of different bacteria inside of you, supporting your body because YOU are so important to them!).
What Are Probiotics Good For?


So what does all of this information mean to you? What are probiotics good for, and what can all these bacteria do for you?
#1 Probiotics can help you stay slim.
Research has shown that people who are overweight have much more bad bacteria in their intestines than slim people. In fact, the bacteria in our system weighs about eight pounds. Studies have also shown that having a high level of bad bacteria stimulates appetite and can be directly related to weight problems in some individuals. Taking a good probiotic regularly, especially when you know your diet won’t be providing you with optimal nutition, will go far in helping controlling your beneficial gut microflora.
#2 Keeps your immune system in check.
Most people don’t realize that 80% of our immune system lives in our digestive system
where all these bacteria also reside. So, it makes sense that if you want to stay healthy,
especially during the cold and flu seasons, then you always want to maintain a correct
balance of good bacteria. This means avoiding things that might grow your bad bacteria–
mainly sugars and grains and everything else that will turn into sugar quickly in your body.
Bad bacteria feed and grow off sugar, which will wreak havoc on your immune system (not
to mention your digestive system).

#3 Good emotional and mental health.
Probiotics and the good bacteria in your digestive system will help you digest and absorb
nutrients much more efficiently. There are many studies showing that depressed, angry those
with emotional disorders have an imbalance in their nutritional biochemistry, and that certain
vitamins and minerals are deficient–not because they are lacking in the diet, but because they
have a hard time absorbing the nutrients that support healthy mental agility.

#4 Prevents Allergies.
This is something that I was not aware of until I did a little more research. In The Journal of
Allergy and Clinical Immunology, studies showed that probiotics and a healthy gut flora ratio
helped prevent eczema. According to Mercola.com, “Friendly bacteria train your immune system to distinguish between pathogens and non-harmful antigens, and to respond appropriately.


Ways to Get Probiotics into Your Diet


A good, high quality probiotic capsule is always good to have around whenever you need it, but some people tend to take them every single day. I don’t have that luxury (have I mentioned I’m a college student on a budget?), but I do take a good probiotic whenever I know my diet won’t be up to par, or whenever I know that I will be consuming something that isn’t all that healthy (usually during the holidays–it’s OK to have a treat once in a while!).

You can also take yogurt or kefir (a fermented, yogurt like beverage). Ideally you want to consume dairy products in their RAW form, as raw dairy products already contain beneficial bacteria already (pasteurized products still have all the bacteria, but their dead and swimming around–gross). This ups the ante, so to speak, and provides you with more good bacteria for your body. Plus, raw dairy products are easy on your digestive system. My favorite raw goat milk and goat’s milk yogurt (I make my own whenever I can afford to pick up some raw milk). If you need help finding a certified grade A raw dairy farm near you, please visit the Real Milk website.

If you can’t get raw dairy, then try and find an organic source of yogurt or kefir from your grocery store. You want to get plain, unsweetened, and preferably full fat (non-fat dairy is a no-no, which I will go into at a later moment), and always make sure to read the ingredient label to make sure that there are live active cultures present. Getting sweetened yogurt or kefir will be a problem, as the sugar will help feed the bad bacteria, which is the complete opposite of what you were going for in the first place! Try blending unsweetened yogurt or kefir with fresh or frozen (hopefully organic?) berries or fruit, with stevia or Xylitol (a low calorie, low glycemic sugar alcohol).




So why don’t you go out, get some kefir or do some research on a good probiotic, and take care of your digestive system! It’s time to grow the bacteria (good, that is) in your system to support your body, as it is your vehicle for your entire life. Your future self will thank you!

For now, this has been the Healthy Advocate.

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The Twisted Truth About Saturated Fat

Note: This is only a fraction of what I have to say about this matter and it is far from complete, and don’t be surprised to see more posts on fats, particularly saturated fats, in the near future.

It’s raining outside, and I sit here sipping on my raw hot chocolate. I love mornings like this. The rain makes it so cozy, and knowing that it is cold outside, I feel very grateful that I have a warm home with everything that I need. There’s a Hitchcock documentary on in the background.

I also begin pondering on a subject that I have spent a bit of time researching on, and I dwell upon this subject for a while, trying to discover why this information is not out to the majority of the public. This is the subject of saturated fat.

Yikes! This term even strikes a bit of fear in myself, because I have always been told that these natural, nature made (or God made, depending on what you believe) fats are harmful and contribute to a variety of diseases like heart disease and elevated cholesterol.

However, I have found this topic to be quite controversial, and with the analysis that I have accumulated in my nutritional research, I quite strongly believe that saturated fat isn’t the devil it is made out to be.

After reading studies accumulated by Dr. Mercola, studying the diets of native and isolated populations (via Nourishing Traditions and The Weston A. Price Foundation), and really delving deep into controversial research, I have found that saturated fat has been a part of healthy populations for centuries. In fact, it has nourished all people for hundreds of thousands of years (maybe millions?), and it wasn’t until the USDA told us to eat more carbohydrates and less overall fat to fight heart disease, that heart disease actually increased.

The “theory” that saturated fat is corrleated to an increase in heart disease was developed by Dr. Ancel Keys in the 1950s (I just finished a fascinating book about Keys’ starvation experiment). His research covered over many different countries, but omitted data that was unfavorable to the study and only concluded seven countries. The research did show a link between fat consumption and heart disease, but only when one looked at the countries Keys included. When one actually looks at all the countries that were available in the study, the link between saturated fat and heart disease completely disappears, and it is seen that there were other factors that contributed toward heart disease.

This study, however, gained much publicity (Ancel Keys was a big guy on publicity of his experiements), and the “Low-fat” craze swept the nation, and later the world, with low-fat and fat-free products for every thing.

According to nutritional researchers Mary Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon, heart disease makes up 40% of all US deaths, and is growing, which should suggests (if you believe in the “Lipid Hypothesis”) that saturated fat consumption (mainly in the form of animal products) has increased. In actuality, saturated fat intake has decreased.

How come if the saturated fat has decreased, the heart disease risk has become even greater? It is believed by many that it has to do with the high level of carbohydrate intake in the forms of processed, refined grains and sugars. These stimulate our insulin levels and elevates our triglyceride and cholesterol levels and hurts our hearts. Plus the intake of trans fats in processed foods, we have consumed large amounts of grains that have degraded our health.

If you look at the USDA food pyramid, you will notice that the majority of our calories should come from grain products, and only HALF of those grains should be whole, complex carbohydrates (these will provide a steadier release of glucose in our system).

However I firmly believe that all grains should be limited, or even eliminated, for overall health. Fresh vegetables, high quality animal proteins and fats and small quantities of soaked and sprouted grains (more on that later) should make the bulk of your diet, as these will not cause a spike in blood sugar.

I definitely don’t want you to take this information as the absolute truth, because I strongly encourage everyone to fully research the nutrition information they hear, so that they can make a strong and firm decision about their health. My research has convinced me about saturated fat being an essential part of life (after all, around 50% of our cells in our body are made of the stuff!).

If you have any questions, or would like to be pointed to sources, studies or research articles, please comment below. I’ll be uploading a new recipe very soon, so stay tuned!

Until next time, this has been the Healthy Advocate.