VERSATILE PALEO MUFFIN RECIPE

I was asked last week to provide the muffin recipe for the picture I had included in the Paleo On The Go blog.  I created this muffin recipe a few years ago when I was trying to come up with a simple recipe that used ingredients I always had at home.  It has worked well for me, because it is a great base that almost anything can be added to.  When I haven't had apples, I've used pears, bananas and even pumpkin puree.  The fruit sweetens the muffins nicely.  When I use pumpkin puree I use the muffins as a bun for sandwiches.

Ingredients
3 cups almonds
3 apples
4 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda

Grease 18 muffin cups or line with parchment muffin papers.
In a food processor grind the almonds until they reach a fine consistency. (you can use store bought almond flour if you want to eliminate this step)
In a blender puree the apples with the eggs and baking soda until it has a smooth consistency.  Mix the almond flour and liquid mixture in a large bowl.  You now have a basic muffin batter that can be baked as is, or you can add pieces of dried fruit, nuts, seeds, blueberries, orange or lemon zest, cacao nibs or anything else you fancy.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes.  Makes 18 muffins.

Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.  If you come up with a variation that you really like I'd love to hear about it.

Happy, Healthy Baking!
Tracey

 

PALEO ON THE GO

Ever made a dash out the door without your Paleo grub and not been able to find good food?  Ever been in an airport searching for something Paleo to eat?  Ever wonder how to survive a gut-healthy, Paleo style of eating on the go?

I just returned from a ski trip to Idaho, and it was a reminder of how far behind the Canadian market is in supplying Paleo foods that are easy and convenient.  I was in a small town called Ketchum, and was pleasantly surprised to be able to get Paleo granola, and crackers at its local grocery store.   It was so nice to be able to buy these without making a special trip.  I had anticipated having to travel into a larger town that had a health food store.  It was such a relief not to have to do that.

Sometimes it's frustrating and time consuming to manage a Paleo, gut-healthy diet, but here are a few things I do to make it easier:

1.  Jugo Juice - a kale smoothie from Jugo Juice is a great on-the-go option.  On this trip I was thrilled to enter the new terminal at the Calgary airport and find a Jugo Juice open in the early morning hours.  I don't like cold drinks, so I ask them to make it without ice.  It's still cold, but not brain-freeze cold.  If you have a juice or smoothie bar near your work or home that uses fresh, organic ingredients, even better.

2.  Paleo baking - having some almond or coconut flour muffins made and in your freezer is a great on-the-go snack to have handy.  Whether you didn't have time for breakfast, need an instant lunch to pack, or just need a snack to can take along with you, muffins will have you covered.  I like to make unsweetened varieties that can be made into a sandwich.  Baked goods are never an issue going through customs at airports, so for this trip my carry-on bag was full of muffins to supply us with breakfast on the plane.

3.  Seaweed Snax - the package says 'Strangely Addictive!', and indeed they are.  If you miss the crunch of a potato chip, or like a salty, crispy snack, then Seaweed Snax are a good option.  Seaweed is a great source of trace minerals, and I like that this brand uses olive oil.  These get gobbled up in our household in packed school lunches and as snacks.

Take some time this weekend to make a batch of Paleo muffins.  
What is your favourite grab-and-go Paleo food?

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Tracey

 

 

AGH! WORSE THAN CHILD BIRTH! KIDNEY STONES & HOW TO PREVENT THEM

Ever passed a kidney stone?  If you have, then you know the extreme pain that goes with passing a stone.  Symptoms can begin with nausea, vomiting, and can also include fever and chills.  Pain on your side and back below your ribs can be intense.  The pain can fluctuate and spread throughout the entire abdomen as the stone makes its way through the ureter (tube from the  kidney to the bladder).   Urination becomes difficult as smaller amounts are passed and the need for frequent urination increases.  Urine can become foul smelling, cloudy, and bloody, and be painful to pass.  The pain of passing a stone is often described as being worse than childbirth by people who have experienced both.  Want to avoid this?

Unfortunately, some people are more likely to form stones, so if you've already experienced the passing of a stone, or if an ultrasound has revealed that you have stones in your kidneys then you might want to take some preventative measures.

1.  Supplement with magnesium:
Kidney stones can be a sign that you are deficient in magnesium.  Magnesium is needed to remove oxalic acid from the body, but when there isn't enough magnesium to perform this function, then calcium gets used instead.  When calcium gets used then the result can be calcium oxalate stones (the most common type of stone).  Making sure your kidneys have the magnesium they need to do their job without complications is a simple preventative measure.  To get magnesium in your diet make sure to eat dark leafy greens daily.  A large salad at lunch will do, or maybe you prefer to add greens to a stir-fry.  You can also add magnesium citrate as a supplement, especially initially when you are trying to bring levels up in your body.

2.  Restore the gut microbiome:
One small study showed that the gut microbiome of kidney stone formers was different to that of people without kidney stones.  Research has also identified that the absence of Oxalobacter formigenes, a bacteria that lives in the gut, is correlated with kidney stone formation.  This species helps to break down oxalates, so when it is absent then oxalates can't get broken down and can contribute to calcium oxalate stones.  These studies tell us that gut health is compromised in individuals with kidney stones, so working to restore gut health is the next step.  Eating fermented foods that contain probiotics is an important step.  Increase you intake of unpasteurized sauerkraut and kimchi, add yogurts that contain live cultures, or add kombucha to your day.  Increasing your vegetable intake will add prebiotics to help feed the probiotics you are eating, so fill your plate with raw, roasted, steamed, pureed or sautéed vegetables.  

3.  Reduce oxalates in your diet:
A low oxalate diet is sometimes recommended to help prevent kidney stones.  The problem with this type of diet is that it can be very low in fibre and requires the removal of some nutrient dense foods.  A good compromise is to avoid some of the worst offenders such as spinach, beans (all types), rhubarb and cocoa while you work on restoring gut health.  Go easy on nuts and seeds too.  If you are increasing leafy greens to get your magnesium levels higher, just make sure that spinach isn't one of the greens.  Instead try lettuce, dino kale, mustard greens or bok choy.

4.  Drink a lot of water:
This is a bit of a no-brainer.  Keeping the kidneys flushed will help prevent stones from forming.  Make sure to stay well hydrated throughout the day by drinking filtered water or herbal teas.  Start your day with a large glass of water as soon as you get up.  If you forget to hydrate throughout the day, try setting your phone alarm to go off mid-morning and mid-afternoon to remind you to drink up what is in your water bottle or tea pot, and then make sure to refill those containers.

Add magnesium citrate, low-oxalate greens and some fermented foods to your shopping list.
Need help managing your microbiome?  I'm here to help.

Happy, Healthy Eating and Hydrating!
Tracey

 

CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE LOVERS CAN REJOICE

Do you feel guilty when you indulge in chocolate or when you enjoy your regular cup of coffee?  Good news!  These foods can be part of a gut-healthy diet.

Chocolate and coffee are both rich in polyphenols.  Polyphenols are compounds that occur naturally in foods giving them their vibrant colours, and are best recognized for their antioxidant potential.  Antioxidants are important to combat free-radical damage in the body, which are known to damage tissue and contribute to aging.  But there is growing evidence that the polyphenols in chocolate and coffee benefit our gut microbiome.

You may have read about how harmful coffee is to your health.  The reality is that most people drink too much coffee.  Coffee can make you anxious and irritable, and affect your quality of sleep.  It's addictive, and many people keep consuming it to ward off the withdrawal symptoms, which can include headache, sleepiness, irritability, and lack of concentration (just to name a few).  Coffee can also be a trigger for high blood sugar, which is then followed by an insulin spike causing blood sugar to crash, causing more cravings for coffee (or something else that will raise blood sugars back up).  Some people don't metabolize caffeine well, which explains why some people can have coffee after dinner without it affecting sleep, and others can't.  Additionally coffee can contain toxins such as acrylamide and mycotoxins.  HELP!  There are definitely a lot of reasons to keep coffee out of your diet.

But if you metabolize it well, don't get jittery, and don't develop an addiction,  you can savour a good quality cup of coffee in the morning with benefits to your gut.  If you do experience the negative affects from caffeine, then a swiss water decaf coffee allows you the pleasure and aroma of a good cup of coffee without the chemicals that go into traditional decaffeination methods.  Dave Asprey's Bulletproof coffee has a very low mycotoxin level, and is quality controlled to ensure these low levels.  There is also a swiss water decaf variety available.   

Chocolate on it's own has great health benefits, and is a rich source of minerals, especially magnesium.  The problem is the sugar!  If you've ever decided to sample some 100% baker's chocolate, you probably won't do it again.  Without the sugar, it's not great stuff.  You may already have noticed that health resources always talk about the benefits of dark chocolate.  Dark chocolate has less sugar and a greater percentage of cacao.  It's that combination that is needed to get the health benefits.  My favourite chocolates are those that use honey instead of other sugars.  Honey is often tolerated well by people with gut associated health conditions.  Two great brands made with honey include jkgourmet and Heavenly Organics.  I like to make my own using cacao paste, cocao butter and honey - that way I can add in whatever nuts, seeds or dried fruit I feel like.

So rejoice, and indulge in good quality coffee and chocolate with the knowledge that it will make both you and your microbiome happy.

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Tracey

 

 

COLD? TRY THESE WARM, WINTER BREAKFAST IDEAS

Do you crave a hot steaming bowl of porridge on these cold wintery days?  There is nothing quite like the comfort of a hot creamy breakfast bowl when it's snowy and sub-zero outside.  How do you create a comforting hot steaming bowl of yumminess on a gut-healthy diet?

HERE ARE 3 WAYS 

PUMPKIN PIE PORRIDGE
I don't actually use pumpkin to make this, but you could.  The taste is just like pumpkin pie for breakfast.  Serves 2.

Ingredients
4 cups cubed butternut squash (approximately 1 medium squash)
1/2 cup of water (I like to use the water I steamed the squash with)
2 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each of ground cloves and ground nutmeg

Directions
Place the cubed squash into a steamer, and cook until soft.  Place all ingredients into a blender and blend on high speed until a creamy smooth consistency is reached.  You may need to add more water.
Optional:  top with raisins and/or walnuts

SPICED NUTTY APPLE SAUCE
I love the combination of flavours in this apple sauce variation.  This recipe has been through several transformations, and the latest addition is the lemon zest, which balances the flavours beautifully.  I like to jar this and give it as gifts.  Serves 3-4.

Ingredients
4 large tart apples (I use Honey-crisp apples)
1 cup ground almonds
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 inch of fresh ginger root
the zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions
Quarter and core the apples.  Steam the apples until they are soft enough to easily stab with a fork.  While they are cooking, grind the almonds in a food processor.  Once the apples are cooked, put them in a blender with the ginger root, lemon zest and juice, and cinnamon.  Add a bit of water if necessary.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  In a large mixing bowl combine the blended mixture with the ground almonds and raisins.
Optional:  I have also made this using pears instead of apples, and hazelnuts instead of almonds.  All were yummy.

TURNIP APPLE PUREE
I never liked turnips, but one day I decided to try them by mixing them with apples.  This recipe was the result, and it is now one of my favourite dishes.  I alter the consistency depending on my mood, so sometimes it is thick, and other times it is more soup-like (you'll notice I don't give a specific quantity of water in the recipe).  Serves 3-4

Ingredients
3-4 medium turnips
3-4 large apples
1 cup pecans or other nuts
water to desired consistency
4 tablespoons butter, ghee or coconut oil
1/2 inch fresh ginger root
honey to desired taste

Directions
Remove ends from turnips and slice into 1 cm thick pieces.  Steam until almost done.  Quarter and core apples and add them to th steamer.  Continue to steam for several more minutes until apples are beginning to soften.  Blend turnips, apples, 1/2 cup of water and remaining ingredients on high, until smooth and creamy.  Continue to add water until desired consistency is reached.  I usually begin with about 2 tablespoons of honey, and add more if needed.  Serve and top with pecans (my favourite) or other nuts.

These recipes can be made on a weekend, or the night before and stored in the fridge for several days.  Just reheat in the morning for a fast, comforting breakfast.  These are a great way to nourish yourself and your gut microbiome.  You'll all be happy.

Which recipe will you try?
Add the ingredients to your shopping list.

Happy, Healthy Eating (and staying warm)!
Tracey

 

 

SHOULD YOU MAKE A RESOLUTION?

Do you start each year by making a resolution?  I've never really been a New Year's resolution kind of person.  My approach has always been more of an anytime resolution.   If the idea strikes me to take on something new, or make a change then I do it right away.  I tend to just jump in (sometimes to my detriment). 

But having said that, I think making resolutions can be an important tradition, and a time for reflection.  It allows you to reflect on all the positive things that have happened in the last year, and to hopefully reflect on what you learned from the experiences that challenged you.  It allows you to assess the progress you have made in attaining your goals, and to reassess if it is worthwhile to continue to pursue those same goals, or to decide if they need to be changed or adapted.

New-Year_Resolutions_list.jpg

2016 was a great year for me as a nutritional consultant.  I was able to fulfill a dream of becoming an instructor to students wanting to enter my profession.  My practice continued to be rewarding and provide me with further insights into helping people.  My clients inspired me, and taught me, and it was a privilege to be witness to people who have such a strong desire to improve themselves.

2016 also had it's struggles for me.  My youngest son is severely delayed, and parenting him is my greatest challenge.  I finally realized I needed help to address the emotional issues surrounding how I felt about parenting him, so 2017 will be about getting that help to address those issues, and moving forward in a  more positive and constructive way.

My goals of helping people to use food to regain their health, and to inspire students to do the same will continue for the coming year, but I have a new goal to work through emotional issues and hopefully come away with new coping mechanisms and strategies.  

What were some of the positive experiences of 2016 for you?
What were some challenges you overcame?
Do you have new goals for 2017?

Happy, Healthy Making Resolutions!

Tracey

5 SIMPLE TIPS FOR A TRADITIONAL CHRISTMAS DINNER WITH A GUT-HEALTHY TWIST

Wondering how to prepare for a traditional Christmas dinner while still supporting your gut?  Feeling a bit overwhelmed at the idea of a Paleo Christmas?

Don't worry.  It's much easier than you think.  Here are a few simple ideas to ensure you have a delicious, traditional meal that no one will even know is Paleo and gut-healthy.

Keep the Turkey and Ham
You won't need to change anything here.  Whether your traditional meal involves turkey or ham, you can keep it.  Look for pasture raised animals, and if you plan on ham, then make sure it is traditionally cured and doesn't contain nitrates. 

Add a Vegetable Gravy
Yum!  If you have never tried this, it's worth it.  Just puree chicken stock with well cooked vegetables.  Easy, delicious, and a super way to add vegetables to Christmas Dinner.  My favourite is a Cauliflower Gravy by The Paleo Mom

Replace Mashed Potatoes
There are a few different things that work well to replace mashed potatoes.  Mashed cauliflower is a classic Paleo replacement, but if you are already using the Cauliflower Gravy, then you'll likely want to try something else.  Mashed butternut squash or mashed kohlrabi are two of my favourites.  Cut these into cubes and steam them, or whole squash can be roasted instead.  Once cooked, add a full-fat canned coconut milk, or a nut milk and butter/ghee and mash or puree until you reach the desired consistency.  Season with a bit of Himalayan or sea salt.  

Stuffing
Stuffing looks a bit different when it's gut-healthy, but that doesn't mean flavour gets compromised.  There are so many different recipes out there, that I can't even choose one to recommend.  Do a search for paleo stuffing recipes to find one you like.  To make it gut-healthy replace sweet potato with squash, and if there is maple syrup, then use honey instead.  My mouth is watering just thinking about stuffing.  I've eaten stuffing on it's own as a meal, so go ahead and make extra.

Traditional Baking Reworked
I grew up with a German mom, and Christmas in our household revolved around traditional German baking.  Breakfast on Christmas day included stollen, which is a loaf that is full of nuts, dried fruit and candied citrus peel.  After Christmas dinner, a variety of 13 different kinds of cookies and 3 kinds of fruit bread were laid out.  While I have never been able to match the quantity of baking my mom accomplished (I have no idea how she did it), I have been able to convert my favourites into gut-healthy versions.  My stollen and fruit bread is made with almond flour, and I use date sugar or date paste instead of sugar, since honey burns easily and these two items take a long time to bake.  My favourite cookies have also been converted.

What is your favourite traditional dessert?  Do an online search by typing the name of your recipe and adding Paleo to your search title.  Chances are good you'll find something.  If not, you can experiment on your own.  That's what I did - I can't guarantee your success, but it has worked very well for me, and I get to have the flavours I associate with the holidays in a way that supports my gut-health.

Do you have a gut-healthy holiday favourite?
Which of these simple tips will you try this holiday season?

Happy, Healthy Holiday Eating!
Tracey

 

HOLIDAY GIFT IDEAS FOR THAT PALEO, GUT-HEALTHY PERSON ON YOUR LIST

Looking for a gift idea for that person in your life who is working hard to improve their health.  Or maybe you are that person, and would like to give your loved ones a few hints to help them make a gift choice that will support you towards wellness.

BOOKS

Eat Fat, Get Thin Cookbook - Bestselling author Mark Hyman M.D. follows his latest book Eat Fat, Get Thin with a cookbook.  Mark has coined the term Pegan diet (Paleo + Vegan), which refers to a diet that is high in plant foods, and where meat is viewed as a condiment rather than the main part of the meal.  His latest book obviously focuses on the health benefits of eating healthy fats, so if you are looking for ways to include those healthy fats into great recipes, then this book is for you.

Against All Grain Celebrations - Danielle Walker has come out with another cookbook where she chronologically lays out beautiful recipes for holidays throughout the year.  Menu plan ideas are included, and the recipes are visually stunning, making them a perfect way to celebrate special days.  She has also included a section for birthday celebrations.  If you enjoy time in the kitchen, making special meals, then this is a good choice.

FOOD

Kombucha Starter Kit - Kombucha is all the rage right now.  It's tasty, effervescent, and teaming with beneficial organisms for your gut.  Kits are available to get you started and you'll need a scoby (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast).  You can order a scoby online, grow your own from a store-bought unflavoured kombucha or see if anyone you know has a scoby they can give you.  A starter kit can be a great gift for someone who is already a kombucha enthusiast, or for someone who likes experimenting in the kitchen.

Chocolate - In our home there is always a bit of chocolate in stockings and the kids still love checking the advent calendar each day until Christmas.  There aren't a lot of options when it comes to gut healthy chocolate, but Heavenly Organics has melt-in-your-mouth patties with a creamy honey-chocolate filling.  Individually wrapped, or in packages of 3, these make great stocking stuffers, or can be a treat for yourself and friends at social gatherings.  Check out Heavenly Organics.

Smooth-y-Golden Milk Spice Blend - This spice blend can be added to your favourite milk alternative and heated to create a hot drink that not only satisfies your taste buds, but the golden tumeric has many health properties, including soothing the gut.  It can be sweetened with honey, and makes a great drink for any cold, wintery day, or while enjoying time in front of the fireplace.  This blend is created by Spice Sanctuary.

Honey - Did you know there are hundreds of different honeys?  Types are categorized by their source, and their colour, flavour and aroma differ significantly.  Much of the honey on store shelves is clover honey.  Surprise someone with a bold, dark buckwheat honey, or a pale orange blossom honey.  Visit your local health food store or farmers market to find a variety of distinct, unpasteurized local honey.

BODY CARE

Routine Deodorant - Maybe deodorant seems like an odd gift, but when you think of reducing a loved one's exposure to chemicals it makes sense.  Routine is made locally in Calgary and it does a fantastic job of reducing body odour without any of the crazy chemicals.  It comes in a variety of subtle scents for both men and women, as well as unscented (my favourite) and a couple of varieties for those with extra-sensitive skin.  It's sold in many locations throughout Calgary, and is a great stocking stuffer.

Hand Made Soaps - Many health food stores and farmer's markets sell a variety of hand-made soaps.  These come in a unique assortments of scents and are made with an assortment of natural ingredients.  It's nice to wash with soap that has an ingredient list that you could actually eat.  Another good stocking stuffer, or small gift idea.  

Hopefully these ideas will help you with your holiday gift giving, or inspire a few more ideas.

Happy Healthy Shopping and Giving!

Tracey

 

LOSING HAIR? 3 STEPS TO STOPPING HAIR LOSS

Is a brush full of hair familiar?  Do you feel like handfuls of hair come out when you wash your hair?

Is a brush full of hair familiar?  Do you feel like handfuls of hair come out when you wash your hair?

Are you suffering from hair loss?  Do you wish you had a bit more hair on your head?

Hair loss can be traumatic for people, especially for woman.  Most people tend to associate hair loss with aging, so it can be particularly difficult for people to deal with when it begins early in life.  On the surface, hair loss seems like an aesthetic concern, but it can be indicative of deeper underlying health issues.

HEALTH ISSUE ASSOCIATED WITH HAIR LOSS

Nutrient deficiencies are one of the areas that has been researched in the area of hair loss.  Some commonly seen deficiencies include having low levels of iron, vitamin D, biotin (vitamin B7) and vitamin C.  One study found a correlation between low iron and vitamin D levels in relation to female hair loss (Source).

Androgenic alopecia, also known as male and female pattern baldness, results from high levels of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT is converted from testosterone, and then binds to cell receptors on hair follicles, which results in the follicles shrinking.  Regardless of whether you are male or female, DHT can be problematic for your hair follicles.  In men it typically shows up as a receding hairline and follows male baldness patterns, but in women it shows up differently.  In women androgenic alopecia can cause either thinning or patterns that resemble male baldness.  Hormonal health is dependent on a balance of hormones, not necessarily on the amount of one or two hormones.  This means that levels of DHT can be low, but still contribute to hair loss if other hormones aren't balanced with the amount of DHT present.  Control of DHT levels is largely regulated by the amounts of testosterone and other hormones present in the body.

Low thyroid function, also known as hypothyroidism, can be another hormonal reason for hair loss.  When thyroid hormones are low it is not uncommon to have thinning hair.  Stress plays a significant role in reducing thyroid function, as does low levels of selenium in the body.  Gut health plays a role as well, as organisms in your gut are responsible for converted about 20% of T4 to T3, the active form of the hormone.  Other indications that you might have a low thyroid condition include fatigue, weight gain, dry skin and hair, and cold hands and feet.

STEPS TO REVERSE HAIR LOSS

1.  Eat a Nutrient Dense Diet

Ensuring you are getting nutrients associated with reduced hair loss is an important first step.  Foods rich in iron include liver, beef, lamb, and nuts and seeds, with pumpkin seeds coming out on top.  Vitamin D is difficult to get from food sources, but some good sources are cod liver oil, oily fish such as trout and salmon, mushrooms and egg yolk.  Exposing your skin to sunlight is one of the best sources of ensuring we get vitamin D, though you want to ensure you don't burn.  High levels of vitamin C can be found in bell peppers, broccoli, dark leafy greens, citrus fruit and berries.  To find biotin, look to eggs, nuts, liver, meat and oily fish.
Luckily some of these foods have more than one of the nutrients you need.  Make sure you regularly consume liver, meat, oily fish, nuts and seeds and a variety of vegetables and fruit.
You can also add a good quality multivitamin that includes a B Complex to ensure that deficiencies get corrected.

2.  Block DHT

Drink green tea.  Green tea contains EGCG, which has been shown to be protective against the effects of DHT (Source).  If you are a coffee drinker, try replacing your coffee with green tea.
Consume pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil.  Pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seed oil block the effects of DHT (Source).  Not only will these help block DHT, but they are rich in iron, as well as zinc.  Try a salad with a dressing made with pumpkin seed oil, or sprinkle seeds on salads, soups or just eat on them on their own.

3.  Get your hormones tested

If dietary changes in the first two steps aren't working, then visit your naturopathic or functional doctor to get hormone testing done.  Both of these types of doctors are well equipped to look at how well your hormones are balanced.  For a comprehensive look you should consider testing for sex hormones, thyroid hormones, and even cortisol (stress hormone).  A variety of treatment options will be available to you.  For a look at some herbal options click here.

Further reading:  

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey

CALGARY'S BEST PALEO BURGERS

Love a good burger?  Burgers are associated with summer BBQs, eating out with friends, and are a tasty, quick meal both at home and when out.

Do you miss being able to eat a burger on your Paleo, gut-healthy diet?  The good news is that you don't need to miss them.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY ABOUT BURGERS

A home-cooked burger made from pasture-raised meat is a great nutrient-dense food to consume.  That's the good part.  The bun isn't going to support your journey to better health.  That's the bad part.  Burgers prepared in restaurants often contain a variety of fillers that can compromise your health efforts and often make you feel worse.  That's the ugly part.

But this doesn't mean you can't find and enjoy a good burger.  

CALGARY'S BEST PALEO BURGERS

Here are 4 great burgers that I've found in Calgary.  

Silver Sage is the easiest to eat with your hands.  You can see my burger and avocado peaking out of the large lettuce wrap.

Silver Sage is the easiest to eat with your hands.  You can see my burger and avocado peaking out of the large lettuce wrap.

1.  Silver Sage in the Calgary Farmers' Market.  
Silver Sage offers a variety of toppings that conform to a Paleo, gut-healthy diet.  I like to get tomato and avocado, and there are some lactose free cheeses if you tolerate dairy.  They couldn't confirm that the bacon they used was gluten-free, and they do grill their buns on the same grill, so if you have a severe gluten sensitivity then be cautious.  Request a lettuce wrap instead of a bun, and you will be served your burger wrapped up in a checkered paper wrap for easy eating - just fold the wrap down as you go.

2.  Flippin' Burgers
Located in Kensington, this small location only does burgers and fries.  The burgers are flame grilled.  There are some great add-on ingredients that are Paleo and gut-healthy.  I haven't asked about their bacon, so if you are there ask, and let me know.  I request a lettuce wrap, and the burger gets served on a lettuce leaf and accompanied by a large cutting knife, so you can eat it with cutlery.  Depending on my mood I'll either use fork and knife, or wrap it up in the lettuce and eat it with my hands.  Buns are grilled on the same grill, so again be cautious if you have a severe gluten sensitivity.

Burger 320 is usually served on a wooden board, but I did take away.  I splurged on bacon here, but don't know if it's gluten-free.

Burger 320 is usually served on a wooden board, but I did take away.  I splurged on bacon here, but don't know if it's gluten-free.

3.  Burger 320
Burger 320 has a Bridgeland location and a Kensington location.  They use only flank in their burgers.  No lettuce here, but they have a side of arugula, so I ask for my burger to be served on a bed of it.  Definitely need a fork and knife.  I like to get brie on my burger here, so if you tolerate dairy it's a nice non-traditional topping.  They also have a garlic aioli, which I suspect isn't totally Paleo, but I cheat a little bit here.  Again, buns get grilled on the same surface as burgers.

4.  Dairy Lane Cafe
Located on 19th Street in Hillhurst, this is a great place to eat to support local farmers.  Dairy Lane sources ingredients locally.  This is probably my favourite place, because I can also get a salad with my burger.  The salad is where I cheat a little bit.  I have no idea what the dressing is made of.  Sometimes they also have a lamb burger on the menu, so if you like lamb, keep your eyes open for it.  I just ask for the burger to be served on lettuce instead of the bun.

At Dairy Lane I love being able to enjoy a burger with a salad.

At Dairy Lane I love being able to enjoy a burger with a salad.

All of these locations have the traditional toppings like ketchup, mustard, and pickles.  I typically avoid these due to the sugar content and other ingredients that can compromise my efforts towards better health.  Regardless of where you eat, make sure to let the staff know you don't want a bun.  One time I stated I only wanted the patty, and the burger arrived with the bun and none of the sides.  Communicating what you want needs to be done clearly.

If you are avoiding gluten you will always need to take extra precautions and communicate with staff.  

Do you have a favourite burger place?  Talk to the staff about what's in the burger.  Basically you just want meat and some simple seasonings.
Do you have a great gut-healthy burger place to love that I've missed?  Let me know what it is.

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey

 

 

 

 

5 MATHEMATICAL MEALS TO SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE

Love or hate math?

I always liked math when I was in high school, but have little application for it now.  I liked that it had rules that needed to be applied, and as long as you followed the rules you got the right answer.

But you don't need to like math for mathematical meals to make sense.  Making meals can sometimes be challenging, but by applying some simple math concepts you can have a framework to start creating meals from.  The basic concept to creating meals is to have some simple formulas or equations to follow.  Once you find an equation that works for you, then you can use it as a starting point for meal creation.  If you are like me and have a vague shopping list with general items like "vegetables", or "meat", then these equations can also be helpful when you are grocery shopping because it can provide a rough framework for quantities of items to buy.

Peaches with pea shoots is one of my favourites.

Peaches with pea shoots is one of my favourites.

Here are my top 5 Mathematical Meals

SMOOTHIE
2 cups greens + 2 cups berries + 1 tbsp coconut or MCT oil = smoothie

SALAD
dark leafy greens + grated or chopped colourful veggies + olive oil/apple cider vinegar = salad

EGG DISH
I love eggs and am grateful that I tolerate them, because I know many people don't.  They provide a quick, nutrient dense meal that is fast to create.  Here's my favourite egg equation.
2-3 eggs fried in animal fat + 2-3 cups leafy greens drizzled in olive oil + cultured vegetables = egg dish

My animal protein in these Squash Pizzas comes from an aged cheese.

My animal protein in these Squash Pizzas comes from an aged cheese.

SOUP
3 cups chopped vegetables + 1 cup ground meat + enough homemade meat stock to cover ingredients = soup

DINNER
pasture raised meat + vegetables roasted in animal fat + salad = dinner

Basic Starter Formula

Not all of my equations follow this formula, but this is my starting point for any meal.

3/4 vegetables or fruit + 1/4 protein + fat = gut-healthy, paleo meal

These formulas are simple, which is why they work.  Meals don't have to be complicated to provide you with the nutrients you need and the variety you crave.  Finding equations that work for you might take a couple of tries, but they can take a lot of the stress out of meal preparation.  Once you have a formula you like you can plug any foods into the equation.  Just like in math where following the rules gives you the right answer, following meal equations will result in wholesome, satisfying meals.

Which mathematical meal do you want to try?
What are some equations that have worked for you?

Happy, Healthy Cooking!
Tracey

HEALTHY FOODS HIGH IN HEAVY METALS

Do you try to eat the best you can?  Maybe you add a green supplement or a rice protein powder to your smoothie in the morning?  You want the best for you body, so you try to fill it with the healthiest choices you can!

What if I told you that some of those choices might not be as good as you think.

Just last week I was talking to the Calgary Gut Health = Good Health Support Group members about heavy metals, some of the sources of these metals and the health implications of these metals on the human body.  Heavy metals include things like lead, mercury, aluminum and cadmium.  The accumulation of these metals in the body can be a contributing factor to autoimmune conditions, neurological conditions, thyroid problems, kidney problems, as well as many other health conditions.  Common sources include things like silver mercury amalgam dental fillings, consumption of predatory fish like tuna or shark, vaccinations, antiperspirant use and wearing makeup.  There are a variety of industrial sources of exposure as well, such as mining and pulp and paper.

I was recently surprised to learn that there are many food sources that I had previously not known about, so I am excited to be able to share them now.

Food Forensics

Food Forensics is a book written by Mike Adams, "The Health Ranger" and founder of NaturalNews.com.  In this well-researched book, he looks at ingredients that are used in our food supply that are harmful to our health, as well as chemical contamination and heavy metal contamination.  While I was familiar with many of the additives and chemicals that are used in processed and packaged foods, I was surprised at the extent of heavy metal toxicity present in commonly eaten foods

Here is a brief summary of some of the heavy metals and the food sources they are especially high in:

Arsenic:  apple juice, rice, poultry and swine

Mercury:  high-fructose corn syrup

Lead:  chlorella from China, calcium supplements, pet treats made in China, chopped clams, sea vegetable superfoods, cacao superfoods, organic rice protein, cooking spices, fish treats for cats, sunflower seeds

Aluminum:  seaweed superfood granules, gingko supplements, a popular children's multivitamin, calcium supplements, baking powder

Copper:  children's multivitamin, line of "raw" multivitamins, popular mineral supplement

Steps to Take

1.  If you drink apple juice, then buy juice that is locally grown and produced.  Don't be fooled by the "made in Canada" label.  Many of the apples are imported from China.

2.  Replace items that use high-fructose corn syrup with items using natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup.  High-fructose corn syrup is bad for your health for so many reasons, so this is just one more to add to the list.

3.  Replace "green" blends with fresh greens.  Add  spinach, kale, shoots or your favourite leafy greens to smoothies.  If you use chlorella then choose from outside China.  I like Giddy Yoyo's chlorella, which is sourced from Taiwan, and Mike Adams produces Clean Chlorella, which is grown in a controlled environment.

4.  Research where your supplements are sourced from.  Talk to staff in health food and supplement stores, or contact a company directly and ask what country the ingredients come from.  

5.  Replace rice protein powder with an alternative protein.  My favourite is hydrolyzed collagen such as Vital Proteins or Bulletproof.

6.  Buy an aluminum free baking powder.  These can be found in health food stores.

7.  Make your own pet treats, or visit a local farmer's market for treats, so you know exactly what is going into your pet.

8.  Buy as much locally grown and raised food as you can and prepare meals yourself.  Take a couple of hours on a weekend to do some batch cooking to last you through the week.  Casseroles, stews and soups are great things to make in large batches to get you through the week.

As a general rule, ingredients imported from China, India or Thailand tend to have much higher risk of heavy metal contamination that foods grown in North America, Europe, New Zealand or many South American countries.

For a much more detailed look at all the foods that are contaminated, and the health implications of specific heavy metal toxicity read Food Forensics by Mike Adams.  It's an easy read.

Were you as surprised as I was about the heavy metal contamination of certain foods?
What is the first change you will make?

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey

COULD A PAST HEAD INJURY BE THE ROOT CAUSE OF CONSTIPATION?

Are you struggling to figure out why you are still constipated?  Maybe you've tried every approach known to man and nothing has worked.  You exercise, eat well, and your docs have examined your insides for possible reasons, and you still suffer from constipation.

I spend a lot of time talking about the gut-brain axis, and how poor gut health contributes to brain dysfunction.  Recently I was listening to a talk about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and was reminded, that the gut-brain axis is bi-directional.  The brain has a huge role in the health of the gut as well.

Traumatic brain injury is known to negatively affect intestinal function.  Shortly after the onset of brain injury, intestinal permeability is increased (Source). Dr. Kharrazian is a well known functional neurologist who published an article outlining the complex pathways that traumatic brain injury has on the gut.  A summarized article can be found in his newsletter (Source).  He breaks down the various routes that show how traumatic brain injury affect not just intestinal permeability, but overall gut health and function.

Have you Had a Head Injury?

Were you ever hit on the head?  Had a concussion?  Car accident?  Played an impact sport?  Anything that could have caused your brain to have contact with the inside of your skull could result in traumatic brain injury, so even if your head didn't directly impact anything, it's still possible that your brain was injured through impact inside your skull.

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, and you have ruled out things like low thyroid function, dysbiosis, poor diet, lack of exercise or intestinal strictures, then past head injury may provide the answer you are looking for when it comes to your constipation.

If communication has become impaired from the brain to the gut, then the end result can be constipation and other digestive problems.  In these situations, reestablishing the brain-gut communication is an important step to relieve constipation, and to reset regular gut motility.

Resetting Brain-Gut Communication

Try singing loudly several times a day!

Try singing loudly several times a day!

In his book Why Isn't My Brain Working?, Dr. Kharrazian outlines gargling and singing techniques that help to stimulate the vagus nerve to reset brain-gut communication.  These are simple and have no cost associated with them, so are worth a try.  These techniques work by directly stimulating the vagus nerve.

Another option are prokinetics.  Prokinetics are substances that enhance gut motility by increasing the frequency of contractions or by making them stronger.  Natural prokinetics work by stimulating the enteric nervous system and the brain stem, and include ginger root, L-acetyl-carnitine and 5-HTP, and there are supplements on the market that include a combination of these such as Pure Encapsulations Motilpro.

Have you suffered a head injury and are constipated?
Maybe it's time to start singing in the shower!

Happy, Healthy Singing!

Tracey

COLD AND FLU SUPPORT VIA THE GUT

Do you get more colds than you'd like each winter?  If you have kids, do you seem to catch every bug that they bring home with them from school?  Did you miss work last winter due to a cold or flu?

Cold and flu season can be exhausting if your immune system isn't functioning as well as it should. No one wants to get sick, and if you do end up sick then you want the recovery to be fast.  Did your Grandma ever feed you homemade chicken soup when you got sick?   Chicken soup is great for aiding in recovery or as a preventative measure.  Chicken soup is full of amino acids such as glycine and proline that reduce inflammation that is part of the immune response.  In addition, it is full of minerals such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus that are easily absorbed.  When your body is working hard to fight off an infection, then having foods that are easy to absorb is important.

Soup As A Preventative Measure

Did you know that a healthy gut acts as a line of defence against colds and flus?  The first thing cold and flu bugs come into contact with in your gut are the gut microbiome.  If the organisms that make up your microbiome are mostly beneficial or neutral species, then they can play a big role in managing a viral or bacterial infection.  These organisms keep opportunistic species in check.  If your gut organisms fail to keep cold and flu bugs in check, then the intestinal barrier is the next line of defence.  Your small intestine has a lining of cells that act as a barrier to viral and bacterial infections.  If that barrier is strong then it keeps foreign invaders out, but if it is compromised then you will be more likely to get an infection.  Having a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy intestinal barrier are important components to prevent illness.

Guess which food helps you to have a strong intestinal barrier?  If you guessed chicken soup, then you are right.  But it doesn't have to be chicken soup to be beneficial.  It could be oxtail soup, pork soup or any other kind of soup that is made with bones and connective tissue.  Connective tissue includes things like skin and cartilage, so a whole chicken, a pork hock, or ribs are great starter ingredients for a great cold-fighting or cold-prevention soup stock.

Making Simple Chicken Soup

If you've never made soup stock before, it's probably easier than you'd think.  I always encourage people to start with chicken.  It has such a great flavour, and it's simple to make.  Here are simple steps:
1.  Place a whole pasture-raised chicken into a slow-cooker or large saucepan.
2.  Fill the pot with water until the chicken is covered.
3.  Add a quartered onion, 1 tsp of sea salt or Himalayan salt, and several cloves of garlic.
4.  If you are using a saucepan on the stove, then bring everything to a boil, skim off any scum that floats to the surface, and then reduce heat to a low simmer.  It will take about 1 1/2 hours to cook the whole chicken.
If you are using a slow cooker, then set it to low for about 8 hours until the chicken is done.  Once the chicken is cooked you can carefully remove it from the pot, set it on a large plate and remove all the meat and put it back into the soup.  You can keep or discard the onion and garlic pieces.

 

 

AVERTING DIVERTICULITIS

By the time someone comes to see me, they have often been through a multitude of medical tests with their medical doctor, and often have a good indication of possible disease states, or in some cases lack of identifiable disease.  Since I focus on gut health, often the types of assessments that have been done include colonoscopies, and increasingly people are telling me they have some diverticula, but so far have not developed diverticulitis.  Trust me, you don't want diverticulitis.

How Did I Get Diverticula?

Diverticula are small sacs that line the digestive tract.  They can occur anywhere in the small or large intestine, but typically are found in the lower part of the large intestine known as the sigmoid colon.  This section of the colon is the part that is closest to the anus.  These sacs form when stools are hard or when an individual has to strain to pass stools, both of which put pressure on the intestinal wall.  Chronic hard stools or straining result in pressure, and eventually the intestinal wall gives, leading to small sacs bulging outward.  The cause of the hard stools or the need to strain is typically a diet high in processed foods, sugars and unhealthy fats.  Stress can also play a very significant role in their formation by disrupting normal digestive function, and slowing down the movement of fecal matter through the intestines.

Once formed, diverticula can become blocked with fecal matter or fiber.  When the bacteria in the fecal matter build up, then infection can result.  This infectious state is known as diverticulitis, and it results in unpleasant symptoms.

Symptoms of Diverticulitis

abdominal pain
alternating diarrhea and constipation
blood in stools
cramps
fever or chills
nausea and vomiting
tenderness in the lower abdomen

How Can I Prevent Diverticulitis?

1.  Restore Motility
Drinking a large glass of warm water first thing in the morning can help with motility.  Stretching the stomach will stimulate the gastrocolic reflex, which triggers peristalsis, which then moves stools through the intestines.
Reducing and managing stress is important to regular motility.  The body needs to be relaxed for the digestive system to function normally.  Managing stress looks very different from person to person, but can include things like restorative yoga, gentle to moderate exercise, meditation, journal writing, massage or listening to calming music.
In extreme cases other measures may need to be taken.  See my previous blog, Coffee Enemas For Constipation.

2.  Rebalance the Gut Microbiome
Adding fermented foods such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha can help to add organisms to your gut microbiome (the collection of organisms that live in your gut) to bring the balance back to a healthy state.  A diet high in vegetables will help feed those organisms, so that they want to stick around and colonize your gut.  A probiotic supplement can also be beneficial.
It's also important to get tested and treated for dysbiosis.  Dysbiosis refers to an unhealthy balance of organisms, and a qualified practitioner can help determine what that imbalance looks like for you and treat it accordingly.  A naturopathic or functional doctor is the best choice for this type of testing and treatment.

3.  Increase Healthy Fats
Healthy fats include cold or expeller pressed olive oil, nut and seed oils, and avocado oil.  These oils should be consumed raw, and never used for cooking.  For cooking, healthy fats include coconut oil, butter or ghee, and rendered animal fats.  These fats are heat stable and won't become oxidized with higher temperatures.
Healthy fats will act as a lubricant to help stools move through the gut more easily, they will help reduce inflammation that may exist in the gut, and they help to nourish the gut microbiome.

4.  Reduce Fiber
Fiber can be very irritating to a damaged intestinal lining.  The analogy I like to use is to compare fiber in the gut to a rake used on a lawn.  If you rake a healthy lawn, you just pick up debris and dead leaves.  Likewise in a healthy gut, fiber helps clear out debris.  In contrast, if you rake an unhealthy lawn, you end up damaging the lawn more.  In an unhealthy gut, fiber can create more damage.  Cooking vegetables is beneficial, and choosing less fibrous foods can help.  Adding a digestive enzyme that includes enzymes that digest fiber (i.e. cellulase) can be beneficial as well.

5.  Restore the Intestinal Lining
Adding homemade meat stocks and bone broths is a great way to reduce inflammation in the intestinal lining, and provide the intestinal cells with the specific nutrients such as glycine and proline to nourish them back to a healthy, strong state.  Stocks and broths won't eliminate diverticula that have already formed, but consuming these foods regularly can be an important step in preventing further diverticula from forming.

What If I've Had Diverticulitis Before?

Following the recommendations above is an important step in preventing reoccurring infections.  If you've had an infection before, you will be familiar with what it feels like and what your symptoms look like.  It will be important to recognize those symptoms, so that you can take measures at the onset to minimize the infection.  A GAPS Introduction Diet is one of the best protocols you can use to reduce inflammation quickly and soothe the gut.  Begin with clear meat stocks.  Slowly non-fibrous, well-cooked vegetables can be added, such as peeled, deseeded zucchini, squash or carrots.  Juicing is another important step that adds a lot of nutrients to support recovery without adding fiber.  Remember that fiber can be irritating to an inflamed gut.

To find out more about a GAPS Introduction Diet you can read The Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride or you can find a GAPS certified practitioner in your area by visiting www.gaps.me and clicking on the Find a Practitioner link.

Do you have diverticula?  Take preventative measures now to prevent an infection!

Have you had diverticulitis?
What have you tried that has worked for you?

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey

COFFEE ENEMAS FOR CONSTIPATION

Do you have to add bran, flax seed, psyllium or take a supplement to help you poop?  Do you have to strain to initiate a bowel movement?  Do you have less than one bowel movement a day?  If you answered yes to any of these questions then you are amongst the many people who suffer from constipation.  Many people don't think too much about their regularity unless it gets to the stage where it becomes uncomfortable to pass stool or unless hemorrhoids develop from straining.

Constipation and Neurological Conditions

Constipation needs to be taken seriously!  Did you know that constipation occurs in people with Parkinson's before the Parkinson's symptoms show up.  It is an early indication that communication between the gut and the brain is compromised.  It is not uncommon for children with autism to only have one bowel movement per week.  Poor bowel function is associated with a number of other neurological conditions as well including Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and mood disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Constipation is both a sign and a complication of neurological conditions.  Changes in the gut are one of the root causes of neurological conditions, and once neurological symptoms appear communication between the brain and the gut can become impaired which further complicates the issue.

Constipation and Autoimmune Conditions

Constipation is also associated with autoimmune conditions.  As with neurological conditions, a change in gut health is one of the root causes of autoimmunity.  In autoimmune conditions the body is attacking its own tissue, and there are many conditions in which the gut tissue is under attack.  The most well known are celiac, Crohn's and colitis, but there are many other autoimmune conditions that are systemic and can affect the whole body such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. So similarly to neurological conditions, a cycle can occur where poor gut health contributes to autoimmunity, and then the autoimmune response in the body further worsens the gut condition.

Enemas

Enemas are a fast way to resolve constipation, and they have been used for thousands of years.  Doing an enema involves purchasing an enema kit from a pharmacy.  A kit will have a bag or bucket with a hose and nozzle attached to it.  The nozzle needs to have a tap.  The bag or bucket gets filled with a solution, the nozzle gets inserted into the rectum, and the tap is opened to allow the contents to fill the colon.  Once the contents are in the colon, the tap is closed, the nozzle removed and the individual sits on a toilet to evacuate the contents.  This is a simplified description, so if you decide to do this yourself, make sure to get detailed instructions from a qualified practitioner.  

According to Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride, author of The Gut and Psychology Syndrome, enemas are completely safe if done correctly, and are useful for relieving constipation, reducing the toxic load in the body, healing hemorrhoids and for removing fecal compactions from the colon.

Coffee Enemas

Coffee enemas are done with coffee as the solution that fills the colon.  They are used extensively in the Gerson Protocol, which is a cancer treatment program, as well as for people seeking pain relief or relief from constipation.  Coffee enemas can be particularly useful in restoring normal bowel function.  According to Datis Kharraziac, DHSc, DC, MS, author of Why Isn't My Brain Working?, "distending the intestines with an enema activates the vagus.  The caffeine stimulates intestinal motility by acting on the cholinergic receptors."  He also states that "...enemas help develop positive plastic change in their vagal system pathways."  In layman's terms this means that coffee enemas can help you overcome chronic constipation by changing the signals your intestines receive from your brain.  Once your brain begins communicating normal bowel motility again, then changes start to occur towards more frequent bowel movements.

This is one example of an enema kit.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The bag or bucket style is appropriate for adult use only.  Coffee enemas should not be performed on children.

This is one example of an enema kit.  They come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The bag or bucket style is appropriate for adult use only.  Coffee enemas should not be performed on children.

If you or someone you know suffers from constipation that hasn't been resolved through conventional approaches, then coffee enemas may offer a solution.  If neurological or autoimmune conditions are present, then performing enemas under medical supervision is advisable.  Discuss your wishes with your MD or ND to find out if there is any reason you shouldn't try coffee enemas.

Thinking this might be an option for you or a loved one?  Talk to your doctor.

Have you ever tried any kind of enema?  What were your results?

Happy, Healthy Pooping!

Tracey

 

 

 

CREATINE - A BRAIN BUILDING SUPPLEMENT

Did you know that creatine can help your brain? Creatine is best known as a body building supplement, but taking this amino acid can also have huge implications for brain health.  Creatine is used in the body for energy production, and the highest concentrations are found in muscles and the brain.  Since it is highest in the muscles, it makes sense that body builders use creatine to support recovery from intense exercise and to build muscle mass.  It can be an important supplement for many brain conditions too.

Research has been done looking at creatine supplementation for a wide variety of neurological conditions, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and muscular dystrophy.  Much of the research has been done on mouse models, but one practitioner who translated those mouse model dosages to human doses is Terry Wahls, MD.  Dr Wahls is best known for The Wahls Protocol, which she developed to reverse her multiple sclerosis.  In the initial stages of experimenting on herself, she started taking creatine along with other supplements including carnitine and CoQ10.  It is important to note, she did this under medical supervision.  As her protocol evolved she moved towards food sources of these nutrients.  Two of the best sources of these nutrients are liver and heart.

Who Should Consider Creatine Supplementation?

Food sources will always be better utilized by the body, so if you have any kind of neurological condition then consider adding liver or heart to your diet.  Pasture-raised versions of these can be found at health food stores, or you can talk to local farmers about sources.  Don't like liver or heart?  I hide them in meat loaf at a ratio of 3 parts ground meat to 1 part ground liver or heart.  You can also put the liver into a blender and liquify it and mix it into soups.

In acute stages of a disease, or where muscle wasting or muscle function is a concern, therapeutic supplementation might also be beneficial.  If you absolutely can't stomach the idea of consuming organ meats, then supplementation can offer an alternative.

If you think creatine supplementation might be of benefit to you then consult your doctor.  If you have any kidney problems, then this supplement may not be appropriate for you.  Any type of therapeutic supplementation should be medically supervised, whether it's with your GP or an ND.

Creatine Deficiency

Our bodies produce creatine from other amino acids, but there are genetic conditions that hinder the body's ability to use creatine.  These conditions are called cerebral creatine deficiency syndromes, and there are several different conditions that fall under this category: guanidinoacetate methyltranferase (GAMT) deficiency, and l-arginine:glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency, and creatine transporter (CRTR) deficiency.

Who Do These Conditions Affect?

Since these disorders are genetic, a diagnosis can be made at any age, but males tend to be affected more due to the fact that it is an x-linked disorder.  These disorders primarily affect the brain including mild to severe cognitive impairment, and speech delays.  People with diagnosis such as autism, ADHD or developmental coordination disorder may have a creatine deficiency syndrome.  Other symptoms can include seizures, slow growth, and delayed motor skills.  A small number of individuals will also have microcephaly,  and/or unusual heart rhythms.

What Do I Do If I Suspect A Creatine Deficiency Syndrome?

If your child or loved one has the symptoms above then it might be worth exploring a creatine deficiency syndrome.  Talk to your doctor to see if it has already been ruled out, and if not, then a urine test can be done to measure creatine levels.  If levels are high, then it means that the body hasn't been able to use the creatine, and is excreting it instead.  If urine tests come back high, then the next step will likely be genetic testing.  Once a creatine deficiency syndrome is confirmed, then a supplement protocol will be suggested.  Supplementation may or may not be beneficial for individuals with these diagnosis, and it is not yet understood why some people benefit and others don't.

Creatine as a Brain Building Supplement

If you suffer from a neurological condition, then getting more creatine into your body is an important dietary step.  Adding liver and/or heart to your meals might just be what your brain craves.  Or talk to your doc about supplementing.

If a creatine deficiency syndrome is present, then testing might provide you with some answers to why symptoms are occurring. 

Start adding liver or heart to your diet today.  A homemade liver pate is hard to resist.  http://paleoleap.com/simple-and-delicious-liver-pate-recipes/

Have you ever supplemented with creatine?  What was your experience?

Happy, Healthy Eating!

Tracey