A Gut Feeling

So, I attended Dr. Josh Axe’s Webinar on how to heal a leaky gut. Turns out that it was just a preview of his program, which I can’t afford, but I did learn a few things that tie into my studies from the past few days.

I’ve been fascinated, learning how what we eat affects our health. My reading list has grown exponentially, as everything I’ve learned has led to more questions about nutrition and health.

“All disease begins in the gut.” Hippocrates said it centuries ago, but only now are we starting to believe it. Eighty percent of our immune system resides in the gut.(1) The state of your digestion influences the rest of your bodily systems. Gut dysbiosis (abnormal gut flora), leaky gut, and other digestive problems can cause a whole plethora of other symptoms, some of which I hear about from family members and friends on pretty much a daily basis. Some of the symptoms, I exhibit myself: fatigue, blood sugar highs and lows, carb and sugar cravings, anxiety, hormonal imbalances, etc., etc., etc.

While I realize that a lot of these things (hormonal imbalance, fatigue) are due to having a three month old baby, breastfeeding,  waking for night feedings, and sometimes staying up way too late, I’m interested to see if my dietary endeavors help with those complaints.

I’m trying not to get carried away in my lifestyle changes, because drastic change just doesn’t work for me, but I’ve gotten a few good ideas as to how to impact our health for good.

First of all, I’m slowly removing the majority of processed food from our diets–even the healthy ones. You’d think that’d be easy, since I’m the Mama and I do get some control over what we eat. However, we tend to eat out places more than I would care to admit, Ben brings home treats, and, now and again, I give in to my own cravings for chocolate and soda (I’m really working to kick that habit). And replacing processed foods means making them myself…I’m trying to decide if I really have time for all that.

With our changes, I want to be careful about not getting caught up in protein powders, bottled healthy drinks, granola bars, etc. I might buy these things when we’re out, because they’re better than a candy bar, but, at home, I want to work toward a whole foods diet. I want to see if it makes that big of a difference in flavor. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll implement something else.

Secondly, I want to boost our vegetable and fruit intake. Meat is good for you. I’m not going to deny that. But, I know that our family eats more meat than anything else. Ask my husband what he wants to eat, the first thing he says is a meat product, followed usually by a request for potatoes, rice, or pasta. While potatoes are vegetables, I want to see more colors on our plates.

Thirdly, I want to try making bone broth on a regular basis. I’m an “I did that one time!” type of person. I’ve made bone broth before. I’ve made venison bone broth and chicken bone broth. Both were delicious, and very satisfying, but I’ve never made it a habit to have homemade broths in the house, which is sad, because we do consume broth…just the kind in a carton.

As I’ve said before, I’m all about 180 degree turns. I get something on my mind and immediately move to make drastic changes, which fall by the wayside after a couple of days because my willpower is zip, even though I know that I’m influencing my health with those changes.

Drastic change doesn’t mean lasting change.

Our lives are a journey. Each day fluidly passes into the next. Each choice we make for a better future today, makes all the difference tomorrow. The goal is to make small changes that last.

I’ll leave you with a quote that I picked up from Michael Pollan’s book In Defense Of Food, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite reads for this year. “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Our guts, our immunities, our lives, our children’s lives depend on it.

fresh-fruits-vegetables-2419-450x337Image borrowed from Paleoholic

Eat The Whole Thing

Yesterday, I sat and scribbled a chart, tracing the effects of Gut Dysbiosis, using The Gut and Psychology Syndrome book by Natasha Campbell-McBride. The results were…well…messy, both visually, because I was in a hurry, and literally, because gut dysbiosis can be devastating.

My husband really hates it when I get on these trains of thought, because my first instinct is to throw away anything with sugar, white flour, artificial colors and flavors, corn syrup, etc., right out the door, while issuing a proclamation that we will never eat this type of food ever again. He turns into Gollum, protecting the snack cabinet as if it’s the one cabinet to rule them all, and he gives me a whole list of reasons why we can’t give up sugar.

And, he’s right to do so.

Hear me out.

My instincts throw out all the bad snacks, then sit, looking at the empty cabinet with satisfaction. Then, I get hungry. Prowling about the pantry, I see that there’s nothing in there except ingredients, but I want to eat NOW! My stomach makes friends with my backbone. I consider stuffing handfuls of flour in my mouth, until I see back behind everything a bag of Christmas chocolate that somehow survived the rampage.

Because I’m hungry, it is the best chocolate I’ve ever tasted, so I gobble every piece, lay across the floor with a sugar headache, and despair over ever getting healthy. (It’s not always been chocolate. But it’s always been about convenience for me.)

There you have it. It’s the cycle we’ve gone through for the four and a half years of our marriage, and he’s not about to start it all over again. So, being the levelheaded one, he tells me what we can do.

We can order from Azure Standard, which we learned about from his mother. We can attempt some new recipes. (I’m really excited to try whole wheat sourdough bread. I found…well…I’ll talk more about that later.) We can stop buying sodas and sugary drinks.

My Mother-in-Law was telling me about someone who refused to eat anything that had an ingredient list. I thought of that again, as I listened to Dr. Josh Axe talk about sugar substitutes yesterday. He was saying how the fructose in a blueberry isn’t bad in the blueberry; it’s only bad if you isolate the fructose without eating the blueberry.

We’re so busy taking parts of things. We eat refined flour, without the bran and germ of wheat. Our flavors are “extracts” of the real thing if we’re lucky or just a chemical soup that somehow resembles the real thing. Anything we buy in a box or a can has thickeners and additives to make it appetizing…and it’s no wonder we’re never satiated. We never have the real deal, whole thing.

Like homemade wheat bread. Ever had it?

I have. It’s the best ever. Satisfying. Your soul feels it too, in that first big sigh of contentment as you savor the saltiness of the butter spread across it. Add some homemade strawberry jelly, and the angels start singing.

In the Old Testament, God talks about His children eating the good of the land if they obey His Laws. (Isaiah 1:25) Then in Psalms, it says, “Oh taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Psalm 34:8a)

It is His design that we eat food…and that we enjoy food. For us, we’re trying to move toward more whole foods and away from my vice of needing everything neatly packaged and ready to eat.

That snack cabinet doesn’t hold as many junky snacks, because we’ve had cantaloupe, fresh watermelon, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Hard to reach for a bag of chips, when you have the option to eat that good stuff.

Someday, we might be that weird family that grows a huge garden. At this time, I have a brown thumb and kill every plant I attempt to grow, so we gratefully receive the abundance that my grandfather and Ben’s family gives us. We’re enjoying the good of the land. And, it’s so very satisfying, nourishing, and healing.

Eat food. Please eat real food. And eat the whole thing. Not just the juice…not just the flavor…the whole thing.