Monthly Archives: September 2012

Healthy Living Kids & Family Real Food Toxin Alert!

13 Ways to Kick Insomnia/Sleep Disorders and Get a Good Night’s Rest

www.mypicshares.com
Are you an insomniac? Do you toss and turn and wake up in the middle of the night? And no matter how hard you try, you can’t  get back to sleep…only to feel as though you’ve been hit by a truck when the alarm goes off and it’s time to start your day?

In our culture, we’ve come to believe many things we experience to do with the way we feel as being normal, such as headaches, stiffness, fatigue, sleeplessness, depression, anxiety, headaches, sore throats, flus, colds, and many others.

We medicate ourselves by going to the doctor and getting on antibiotics or taking over-the-counter products. But do those efforts really get us anywhere? And, are we improving our symptoms, or just covering them up? We take medications for awhile because we think they are working…only to find that the problem rears itself again in a few days, weeks, or months. This frustrating cycle does not cure us of our ailments, but rather just keeps it in a perpetual state.

If you’ve ever taken sleeping pills, you know exactly what I mean. I know hundreds of people or more who take these drugs. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. ultimately what I hear is that people still have trouble sleeping no matter what they do. And they don’t feel rested in the morning when they wake up.

For many years, I had chronic sleep issues. Sometimes I’d lie there awake for 2 hours or more, and not be able to fall back to sleep. Maybe I’d finally go to sleep again just before I had to get up. And getting up at that point was a herculean effort, to say the least. I’d drag myself through the day, wishing so badly I could just have some time to take a nap and catch up on my lost sleep. Usually there wasn’t time and then often I’d find myself feeling exhausted again by 5 p.m. and have to drag myself through dinner. And yeah, I thought this was normal. 

Later I’d get ready for bed but by then I was almost wide awake again, and would watch something my husband and I had rented from Netflix because I wanted some time to myself…only to fall asleep during the video. Then when I finally went to bed I would have trouble falling asleep or I’d go to sleep and wake up again in a few hours…only to start the cycle all over again.

Then there were the times when I’d wake up at midnight, 1 or 2 p.m. and have severe panic symptoms. My heart would be racing, I’d feel as though I couldn’t breathe, and I was in full on anxiety mode in the middle of the night while everything around me was quiet and dark, and the world around me was asleep. Sometimes these episodes would go on for hours. I’d go back to sleep maybe for 20 or 30 minutes, only to be yanked awake again with the same symptoms which would last for another hour or so.

These symptoms went on for more than 20 years. I spent a lot of time researching natural remedies to make my symptoms go away. I had already been to doctors many times, been examined, been tested….only to find that my heart was okay, everything was okay. But, I needed a prescription for anxiety or depression. This didn’t make sense. How could I be okay and need drugs? I never took the prescriptions I was given because I was certain that it wouldn’t really get to the root of the problem and then I’d be hooked on meds. I didn’t want that.

2005

I changed my diet pretty drastically. I cut out most processed foods and started eating more whole foods and regular meals. Instead of processed grains I started eating sprouted grain products. I stated eating more proteins and fats, and more fruits and vegetables. I had some improvement, but there was still something missing.

2007

I went to see a colon hydro-therapist. She suggested that I try giving up wheat, since I was still eating it pretty regularly. I didn’t think I could do it, but I eventually stopped eating most breads, pastas, and grains. I always felt better when I didn’t eat them whether they were properly prepared with sprouting/soaking/fermenting or not.

My husband and son both had issues with dairy, so we decided to try what we’d heard was a success for many people and bought our first gallon of raw milk from Organic Pastures Dairy. We discovered that we could eat these foods and they didn’t bother any of us and they were delicious…and we never looked back.

2009

I discovered traditional foods. I started preparing more of these for my family and our collective health kept improving all the time. But I still had health symptoms that I couldn’t shake whenever I would “cheat” and eat something I shouldn’t have. Usually it was some type of grain, sugar, or food with high carbohydrate content.

2011

Just after the new year, I had a health crisis which forced me to think even more differently about what I was putting into my body. During this time, my family was going through a severe financial crisis and we were facing the prospect of losing our home. I started having chronic anxiety and panic issues during the night again which disrupted my sleep. This went on for 3 months. I tried everything I could to get it to stop, including many supplements, natural remedies, alternative care treatments, and it seemed nothing I did worked and my efforts were to no avail.

Never again will I underestimate the power stress has to deplete the body of essential minerals and other nutrients. If I had realized just how down my body was going to get from all the stress we were experiencing, maybe I could have taken precautionary and supportive steps to ensure that my health state didn’t get as low as it did.

I finally decided that I needed something completely different and made a plan to start Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride’s GAPS protocol. I thought my diet was already  healthy enough, but as it turned out…I was wrong.

GAPS gave me what I needed to get my body back on track, loose the anxiety and panic issues, and start sleeping again. If you’re like me, not getting the sleep you need can set you up for a disaster. If it continues and is chronic, you know you simply can’t function. If I had not decided to do GAPS, I don’t know what would have happened to me.

But what if I don’t want to do the GAPS diet? It’s too overwhelming!

Even if you don’t take on the full GAPS diet, just implementing some of the basic principles of GAPS into your diet can improve your health and quality of your sleep immensely. If you do decide to do full GAPS, there is a good chance that you will be able to solve many or at least some of your major health issues. GAPS is not a cure-all protocol, but it has been helpful for thousands of people and at the very least, you will realize some noticeable health benefit from doing it.

GAPS uses healing and nourishing foods that were some of the most basic nutritional elements discovered by Dr. Weston A. Price in his travels all over the world to find out what healthy societies were consuming and what was causing disease and dental issues in people he knew and treated in his dentistry practice in the U.S.

Here are 13 ways I’ve found are very effective to improve your the quality of your sleep and overall health:

1.   Drink bone broth and/or use it liberally in the foods you eat daily.

This is one of the best agents I’ve ever used to make sure I sleep well each night. Bone broths are full of minerals, and if you are low on minerals, you can be sure you won’t get a good night’s sleep.

Don’t wait until bedtime to drink it. Use throughout the day by sipping a cup with meals or use in soups, stews, chili, casseroles, sauces, rice and bean dishes and other foods. Wherever a recipe calls for using water (that would be savory recipes, not desserts or sweet recipes), replace with broth from chicken, beef, lamb, pork, or fish bones.

Broth is extremely easy to digest, and is a great source of minerals and gelatin which are healing to the digestive tract. It is also a rich source of collagen and amino acids. All of these nutrients are essential for good health and can greatly improve digestion and absorption of nutrients from other foods you eat, which greatly affects sleep.

2.   Make infusions with nettles and other herbals that you like and drink daily.

Nettles are another abundant source of minerals. We make and drink nettles daily and we usually add some type of mint to it because we like the taste (either peppermint or spearmint). Like broth, nettles are easy to digest and are a good source of minerals that help sleep cycles to normalize: calcium, magnesium, potassium, silica, sulfur, and iron, chlorophyll, and amino acids.

Nettles infusions are very effective for their blood-building properties, bone and muscle-building abilities, oxygen transport from the lungs to the cells, reducing inflammation in the body and helping to replace depleted nutrients. For a good recipe to make nettles infusions, visit Susun Weed’s web site.

3.   Prepare and eat fermented foods.

Fermented foods are vital to health as they contain a diverse selection of friendly bacteria (probiotics) which aids in digestion and immune system health, and culturing foods increases the availability and amount of nutrients in foods. Consuming cultured vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut, kombucha, water kefir, dairy kefir, beet kvass, and others are highly beneficial foods that will improve your overall health and quality of sleep.

4.   Eat healthy fats every single day.

If you are currently eating any of the following, eliminate them from your diet: canola or any other type of vegetable oil such as soybean, corn, or safflower, sunflower, peanut oils, margarine or butter substitutes or vegetable shortening. Real fats are nutrient-dense and contain vital elements you need for health – fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, K2, Omega 3s, CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), and minerals.

Replace all unhealthy fats with real fats such as butter, ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil and animal and bird fats such as lard, tallow, chicken (schmaltz) and others from healthy animals and birds raised on pasture without pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

Read about the dangers of low-fat foods – Deceptions in the Food Industry: Low-Fat Foods and The Importance of Dietary Fats

5.   Eliminate processed, packaged, and canned foods. 

Processed foods are full of chemicals like MSG (under names you may not even recognize if you read the label such as maltodextrin, citric acid, natural flavors, hydrolyzed soy protein, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein, and many others), food dyes, preservatives, genetically-modified organisms (such as soy, canola, corn, and cottonseed oil), sugar, and many other ingredients that are intended to preserve foods and increase shelf life. For more information on how processed foods harm your health, read Is Cheap Food Really Cheap? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Food and Fortified and Processed Food: Are Label Claims About Nutrition True?

6.   Eliminate refined sugars and processed carbohydrates.

Reducing your sugar intake drastically by removing crackers, cookies, juice, soda, cereals, chips, pretzels, bagels, muffins, pastries, etc. and any type of convenience foods that are high in refined carbohydrates.

For many people this also includes eliminating bread and grains, since most breads and grain products you can buy are highly processed and not properly prepared, include many other additives and chemicals, you will want to avoid these foods for a period of time to see how you feel without them. Once you determine if these foods are upsetting your sleep, you may decide to ditch them forever or only to indulge on special occasions.

You will find that the more you eliminate processed foods and add plenty of healthy fats to your diet, sugar cravings often subside. Your body needs the nutrients in real food and healthy fats, and sugar cravings are often a sign of yeast overgrowth, dysbiosis, parasites, and other imbalances which cause our bodies to crave carbs and sugar.  For more information, read Dietary Changes & Supplements for Removal of Candida Overgrowth, Part I and Part II.

For more information on why wheat and grains could cause health issues, read The Truth About Wheat and Grains – Are They Good for Your Health?

Also read 14 Ways to Eliminate Sugar Cravings

7.   Make sure you get some sun exposure everyday and a bit of activity as well.

Regular and safe sun exposure are vital to health, and helps with hormone levels which in turn help our sleep cycles to normalize. If you are someone who has spent a lot of time avoiding the sun, you are probably deficient in Vitamin D and other nutrients such as Vitamin A which are necessary for absorption of minerals like calcium. The more you expose yourself to regular sun, the more your body will begin to produce Vitamin D and it will protect you from disease as well as sunburning.

We also need a good supply of magnesium in our diets to absorb Vitamin D, as well as vitamins in the B complex. This is why good lifestyle and diet are so important. All of these nutrients are contingent upon each other to work in the body successfully.

Applying coconut oil and cod liver oil to your skin can be quite helpful in aiding your skin to be able to absorb nutrients from the sun.

Getting some exercise is a good idea, but don’t overdo it. Too much exercise can damage your adrenal glands and lead to adrenal exhaustion which can be harmful to overall health and take awhile to heal. Gentle and purposeful exercise like walking or moderate hiking or biking is good, but if you are out of shape, anything besides this should be avoided until you heal your adrenal glands. Chronic sleep issues are a sure sign of adrenal exhaustion, so take care of this before engaging in any strenuous exercise.

Read Vitamin D Deficiency – Does It Affect You?

Suggested book reading and web site resource: The Vitamin D Solution, Dr. Michael F. Holick

8. Eliminate commercial sources of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy foods from your diet. 

Meat and animal products from industrial and factory farm sources are not only harmful to your health due to hormones, antibiotics, GMOs (genetically modified organisms), pesticide and herbicide residue, but they are much less nutritious than their sustainable-produced counterparts that are raised in healthy environments and on pasture, without all the chemicals and above-mentioned substances.

Definitely be certain to eat grassfed meats, game meats, organ meats, pasture-raised eggs and poultry, and other animal foods that are rich in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2, Omega 3s, CLA, and minerals. These nutrients are vital to health and it should go without saying, but if you are lacking in these elements, your health and your sleep are likely suffering. The only real source of retinyl palmitate (true Vitamin A) comes from animal foods. It is then easily converted to retinol in the small intestine.

These foods contain as much as 3-5 times the amount of these nutrients as compared to their industrial counterparts, and should be free from hormones, antibiotics, GMOs, herbicides, pesticides, and other nasty chemicals.

Read Industrial Meat & Pink Slime=More Recalls, Drug Resistance and The Grassfed Meat Challenge: Busting Myths About Meat 

9. Stop using vegetable oils and margarine in your cooking and salad dressings.

If you are using vegetable oils, throw them out immediately. Vegetable oils such as canola, soybean, cottonseed, corn, peanut, safflower, and artificial butter spreads such as margarine (and others like Earth Balance, Smart Balance, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter) do not reduce inflammation and cholesterol in the body. In fact, they make this situation worse and contribute to Metabolic Syndrome (of which heart disease, diabetes, obesity, stroke, and high blood pressure are a part).

Although medical authorities have told us for decades that these oils are healthy, they are in fact one of the worst “foods” you can eat. They are modern oils which have been highly processed and subjected to heat in a factory. These delicate polyunsaturated oils do not bode well under heat and become rancid after processing. They also contain far too many Omega 6s, which contribute to disease. Most vegetable oils are also from a GMO-source, and if the label says they are “organic” you can bet they aren’t. Contamination from GMO crops is eminent in our agricultural system.

Our ancestors did not consume these modern oils. They thrived on animal fats, and there is plenty of historical and archaeological evidence of this fact. For cooking, baking, and frying use butter or ghee, lard or tallow from healthy animals raised on pasture without antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, pesticides, or herbicides.

Instead of bottled dressings which usually contain these oils and other chemicals, make your own salad dressing from healthy oils like olive and other real ingredients.

If you are still doubtful about the hazards of vegetable oils, read the history of cottonseed oil, the mother of all vegetable oils and how a company named Procter & Gamble replaced animal fats with their flagship product, Crisco.

Read Which is Better for Your Health – Polyunsaturated or Saturated Fats and Why My Family Loves Lard

The Coronary Heart Disease Epidemic : Possible Culprits, Part II – Whole Health Source

Suggested book: Put your Heart In Your Mouth – Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride

10. If you are on prescription or over-the-counter medications or drugs, consider eliminating them.

I know a lot of people who take prescription meds and they also have a lot of trouble sleeping.  Medications alter your physiology, deplete your body of important nutrients,  and can alter your sleep patterns greatly. “Certain heart, blood pressure, and asthma drugs, as well as over-the-counter medicines for colds, allergies, and headaches, can interrupt normal sleep patterns,” says James Wellman, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center of Georgia in Augusta.

You’ll be surprised at how much better you sleep if you are not on prescription meds.

Read Is Your Medication Robbing You of Nutrients? and Is Your Prescription Robbing You of Nutrients, Part II by Dr. Hyla Cass, M.D.

and Is Reactive Medicine Cheaper Than Preventative?

11.   Make sure your sleeping environment is clean. 

Eliminate clock radios, televisions, computers, stereo systems, cell phones, and anything electrical that you can do without in your room. EMFs (electrical magnetic frequencies) and other interferences can negatively affect your sleep. Keep your room as dark as possible.

If you have a SmartMeter in your home, you should consider moving it or having it replaced with an analog meter. SmartMeters have been shown to cause disturbance in sleep and also affect health adversely.

Read How to Protect Yourself from a Smart Meter by Stanley Fishman’s guest post on The Healthy Home Economist and Harvard Medical Doctor Warns Against Smart Meters

For more information about how EMFs can damage health and cause premature aging of cells, visit Dr. Sinatra’s site (cardiologist)

Suggested book reading: Earthing: The Most Important Health Discovery Ever? Clinton Ober, Stephen Sinatra, Martin Zucker

12.   Retire at a reasonable hour. 

Although there is no magic number of sleep hours that will do your body good, burning the candle at both ends doesn’t help you to feel rested, even if you believe you are sleeping soundly the whole time you are asleep. Going to bed after 10 p.m. can have a profound effect on how rested you feel the next day. Our digestive tract goes through a detoxification between the hours of 9 and 11 p.m in the lymph nodes (antibody system). If we aren’t relaxed or sleeping during this time, this process isn’t fully completed.

Our ancestors didn’t have modern technology with lights, computers, video games, and television to keep them up late after dark. They went to bed early and rose with the sun.  Since the invention of the light bulb, our overall sleep hours have been reduced by as much as 500 hours per year! The natural circadian rhythm of our bodies dips down in the afternoon and in the middle of the night, causing us to feel tired. Supporting our bodies with nutrients and rest during these times is critical to health.

Do something calming and quiet before bed like meditate, take a hot bath, listen to peaceful music, have a quiet conversation with a loved one, or read. Watching television, playing video games, or looking at a computer screen can have an effect on the chemicals in your brain and entire body, and how easily you fall asleep after going to bed.

Read A Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Heart Attack and Stroke, Dr. Sinatra (cardiologist) and Lack of Sleep Can Lead to Weight Gain, Jennifer LaRue Huget

13. Avoid violence/heavy emotional subjects and conversations or television/movies/computers/bright lights/LEDs before bed. 

Exposing yourself to these influences before bedtime can cause you to become keyed up and make any chronic sleep issues more acute. Do something relaxing and calm before bed. Drink herbal teas such as peppermint, lemon balm, skullcap, astragalus, wood betony, motherwort, valerian, linden flowers, or passionflower.

As recommended in #12, read or engage in something quiet such as prayer or meditation, or listening to calming music. Take a warm or hot bath in filtered water with epsom or magnesium salts. Mineral salts are calming and essential to the body for all functions, and especially sleep.

Related posts:

11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Healing Despite “Eating Well”

My GAPS Experience for Panic Disorder and GAPS Radio Interview

13 Ways to Increase Mineral Intake for Improved Well-Being & Health

Healthy Living Real Food Toxin Alert!

11 Reasons Why You Aren’t Healing Despite “Eating Well”

www.mypicshares.com

So you’ve transitioned away from processed foods and started eating healthier. That’s great!

You’re becoming more mindful of organic – maybe you’re buying more fruits and vegetables, and maybe even meat, poultry, and dairy products from sustainable sources.

Or, maybe you’ve made an effort to eliminate toxic vegetable oils and other artificial fats like margarine, shortening, or fake butter spreads.

You thought you were making some headway, but you’re not seeing as many improvements as you’d like.  You’re still  tired, have brain fog and inability to focus, or you’re short-tempered and have no patience.  Maybe the weight is just not coming off like you wanted, or you are still having blood-sugar crashes and problems sleeping.

How could this be? Surely all the changes you’ve made should be making a difference and eliminating your health issues.

Don’t despair, there may simply be some very basic things you are missing. Here are some possible reasons why you may not be seeing the full benefits you’ve been hoping for:

1. You’re buying organic, but processed foods are still finding their way to your kitchen.

Just because the package says “organic” or “natural” doesn’t mean it’s not highly processed and full of non-food and toxic substances. If you are buying soups, salad dressings, marinades, sauces, macaroni and cheese, crackers, cookied, breads, chips, cereals, and other packaged carb foods, you aren’t doing your health any favors.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying foods at the store which are labeled “organic” but really might not be better for you because they are still high in sugar, contain foods that are subjected to high-heat or deodorization, contain modern, rancid oils like canola, soybean, or corn oil, There are other not-so-healthy ingredients in organic foods too such as various sweeteners like evaporated cane juice, dehydrated cane juice, brown rice syrup, oat, rice, and potato flours, “organic” and “natural” flavorings (which are just other names for MSG, by the way), “natural” colors and other ingredients that seem perfectly okay, but are highly processed and not natural at all.

Real foods made at home from scratch are what will help your body to heal and improve, but these highly processed foods, labeled organic or not, are just like conventional, processed foods and aren’t much better.

For more information, read Organic is Only Part of the Story and Deceptions in the Food Industry: “All-Natural”.

2.   Maybe you are cheating more often than you should.

Okay, no one can be perfect all the time, and you’re doing much better than the past. You’ve started reading labels and being more mindful of organic and sustainable foods. But…maybe you are still eating out several times a week, or are still taking short cuts by buying processed foods, foods with pesticides/herbicides (commercially-grown produce, legumes, nuts, grains, etc.), or commercial meats/animal products that might have antibiotics/hormones? Eating healthy does cost more, but think of the cost savings you are doing for yourself buy eating better now for the future.

Read Is Cheap Food Really Cheap? The Hidden Costs of Industrial Food.

3. You’re skipping meals or not eating enough.

One of the biggest enemies of normal weight balance, normal blood sugar levels, consistent energy, and even moods is skipping meals or not eating enough. To keep your metabolism going strong, weight normal, and blood sugar even, regular meals are a must.  Many degenerative diseases can be caused or made worse simply by not eating regular, nutritious meals such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other problems.

Try to make certain you eat at least three meals a day, and if you are battling adrenal fatigue, diabetes, weight issues, hormone, or blood sugar problems, you will probably need to eat more meals daily until those are ironed out…and with plenty of real, healthy fats.

4.  Your digestive tract may need some assistance.

Like most people, you probably have some type of digestive issue. It’s also likely that at some point in your life you avoided real fats because mainstream health told you to do so. This has likely led to chronic digestive issues (and overall health issues too). Maybe  you are now eating more full-fat foods than ever before, but are still experiencing digestive problems such as nausea or a feeling of indigestion, bloating, gas, abdominal discomfort, or diarrhea and  constipation.  But don’t give up! Real fats are critical to healing your body, so don’t make the mistake of returning back to low-fat and artificial fats.

If you are just starting to eat real fats again after many years of consuming modern, artificial fats or low-fat foods, it is beneficial to ease back into eating real fats again slowly to give you body a chance to adjust.

A dietary protocol like GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride) can also be very helpful to heal digestive issues and help you to digest fats properly again.

In general, I try to stay away from supplements. But some people need even more support because of failing health, and sometimes supplements are necessary. If after you have tried a healing protocol like GAPS and you find that you need something in addition to this, there are a few options available.

Good quality digestive enzymes can help. Our bodies need living enzymes to digest our food. When we’ve abused our bodies for years, enzyme production goes down significantly. Not any enzyme on the market will do. Many of these are expensive and the enzymes are not living. Taking dead enzymes will not only waste your money, but won’t heal your body.

I take Enzyme Formulations by Loomis Enzymes. Dr. Loomis, a chiropractor, was the original creator of enzyme for human beings. These are live digestive enzymes that everyone needs (and many are lacking in due to poor lifestyle and diet), and are accompanied by healing herbs. The blend of these two substances together combines a powerful healing action in the digestive tract and helps you to be able to absorb the nutrients in fats you eat while healing your gut at the same time.

To find out which enzymes are right for your body, it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable practitioner who can test to find out what you need. The link provided above can tell you about practitioners in your area.

Another good choice is Swedish Bitters. Some people find that these are a great help to digesting fats, and that they only need to take them for a period of time until their digestion is healed. Read this helpful post from The Healthy Home Economist about Swedish Bitters.

Probiotics are really important too…that is, friendly bacteria. We have trillions upon trillions of cells in our bodies, and we need a good supply of beneficial bacteria to support the life of those cells. Most foods we eat are dead, and even those which are living are still probably lacking enough healthy flora for our guts and digestive systems. There is a lot of debate about probiotics, but from what I have researched, I understand that it is best to get as many of these little critters into your system as you can, EVERY DAY. That means eating fermented and cultured foods as often as possible, and a variety of them to create a diversity of bacteria. Home-made versions of these foods are superior to what you can buy in the store. And for some, that also means taking a therapeutic grade probiotic that will boost your numbers of good bacteria. Here are my picks:

For more information on the importance of friendly bacteria, read All Probiotics Are NOT Created Equal.

5.   You are still avoiding meat and animal products.  

Meat, dairy products, and cheese have received a bad reputation for many years. The real culprits of disease and bad health are the commercial versions of these foods. Grass-fed meats & poultry, eggs from hens on pasture, and raw dairy foods from healthy cows provide critical fat-soluble vitamins not found elsewhere in our food supply. These are Vitamins A, D, E, and K2, also Omega 3s, a variety of minerals, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid, an important antioxidant).

Fat-soluble activators A, D, and K2 allow the absorption of minerals into the body. Avoiding these foods will continue to lead to nutritional deficiencies over time, which will only get worse. So if you are still on the low-fat track, all bets are off that you’ll be able to overcome health challenges.

A diet that includes low-fat foods is not healthy. Those foods are still processed and don’t contain all the nutrients, enzymes, and co-factors you need to help you absorb and reap the benefits of what you are eating. So even if it’s organic, if it’s low-fat or reduced fat milk or cheese, or lean meat, all bets are off about it really giving you health benefits.

Dr. Weston A. Price discovered in his travels that all healthy populations he encountered consumed TEN TIMES the amount of fat-soluble vitamins than populations from developed countries. These groups of people enjoyed robust health and the presence of many modern diseases we are now very familiar with such as heart disease, obseity, cancer and diabetes were virtually unheard of. It was very common to see individuals living well into old age with no health problems, ease in conception and pregnancy, the ability to resist infectious and chronic disease and tooth decay, and children that were healthy without the chronic health issues we see today such as autism, ADD, obesity, frequent colds, ear aches, flus and other infections, tooth decay, and crooked teeth.

If you want to see big improvements in your health, increase your intake of healthy fats – butter, cream, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, lard, tallow, olive oil, coconut, palm oil, and fatty cuts of meat and poultry, bone broths, and organ meats from sustainable sources you trust.

Try buying meats and animal products from a local farmer that uses safe practices with raising their animals and birds.  Here’s a helpful post about Questions to Ask Your Farmer.

Here is more information on the health benefits of real, grassfed meat: The Grassfed Meat Challenge: Busting Myths About Meat.

6. You are still eating grains (maybe even properly prepared), but your body is not doing well on them.

Many people in the real food community have advocated sprouting, soaking, and fermentation or souring as a way to prepare grains for consumption, as our ancestors did. Dr. Weston A. Price did find evidence of populations who consumed grains prepared this way.

Despite what has been written and postulated about eating grains properly prepared, there are reasons why even doing this may not render grains healthy to eat. There are various factors occurring in modern times which were not present during the time of Weston A. Price:

  • Lectins, found in grains, are often linked to auto-immune disorders, which are prevalent and becoming more common in modern society.
  • Since the inception of GMO foods, digestive and auto-immune disorders have began to skyrocket (1996).  Digestive disorders such as Crohn’s Disease, Leaky Gut, various forms of colitis, chronic abdominal issues such as cramping and bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. The poor state of the average person’s digestive health is reason enough alone to abandon grains for at least a period of time. When you eat foods and cannot digest them, it causes further damage to the intestinal and digestive tract. Grains contain phytic acid and will actually cause leaching of minerals in the body.

GMOs are produced with a pesticide originating inside the DNA of the plant (which is inserted into the seed in the lab).  When insects eat this substance, it causes their internal organs to rupture. In the movie, Genetic Roulette, Jeffery Smith from the Institute for Responsible Technology talks about how these substances are causing irritation and are punching small holes in the intestinal linings of those consuming them (not just grains, but soy, corn, cottonseed oil, etc.). Monsanto and other seed companies who produce these crops have not yet officially approved GMO grains for the U.S. market. But they have test plots in varying locations around the country. Contamination of non-GMO grains is eminent and likely has already occurred. If you are eating wheat, even organic wheat and other related crops such as kamut or spelt, you have likely consumed contaminated grains.

Read this informative post by Mark Sisson at Mark’s Daily Apple which discusses misconceptions about grains and why they may not be as healthy for us as we are taught by mainstream health and nutrition experts: Top 8 Most Common Reactions to Your Grain-Free Diet (And How to Respond).

7.  Your foods may be coming from a GMO source.

You may be buying farm-fresh eggs and locally-raised meats, but have you checked to see if your farmer is using GMO (genetically-modified substances) in the feed given to animals or birds?

Foods grown or fed with genetically-modified substances – commonly soy, corn, cottonseed, salmon, dairy foods, and some other foods can cause serious health issues for those consuming them – the animals, birds, and human beings too. Animals are experiencing higher rates of miscarriage and infertility than those who don’t, and human infertility rates have been on the increase dramatically over the last two decades. There are other issues as well:

  • Food allergies – according to the Institute for Responsible Technology: ”Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced. A human subject showed a skin prick allergic-type reaction to GM soy, but not to natural soy. The level of one known soy allergen is as much as 7-times higher in cooked GM soy compared to non-GM soy. GM soy also contains an unexpected allergen-type protein not found in natural soy”.
  • Liver problems – according to the Institute for Responsible Technology:  ”Rats fed GM potatoes had smaller, partially atrophied livers. The livers of rats fed GM canola were 12-16% heavier. GM soy altered mouse liver cells in ways that suggest a toxic insult. The changes reversed after they switched to non-GM soy.”

For more ideas about how to avoid GMOs, read 4 Ways to Avoid GMOs in the Foods You Buy.

8.  Other factors might be affecting you besides what you are eating or not eating.

What about a toxic environment in your home or place of business? Do you have a lot of chemicals or toxic substances near you? What about carpets, paint, cleaning solutions, air fresheners, personal care products such as deodorant, toothpaste, hair sprays, shampoo, conditioner, clothing and dishwashing detergents, dryer sheets, perfumes, etc.?

Read Your Toxic Load – How Does it Affect Your Health?

What about toxic relationships or situations with people in your life? Are you in a situation where you continually feel guilt or accountability for something that isn’t your responsibility? All these things can affect your health adversely, and should be taken into consideration. These can contribute to stress and strife that is very depleting of nutrients and especially valuable minerals your body needs.  At all costs, absolve yourself of obligations or connections to toxic people, whenever possible. They are not doing you or your health, any good.

9. You aren’t getting outside enough and exposing yourself to the sun. 

If you are trapped behind a desk in front of a computer or work in some other industry requiring you to be inside every day, or are in the house doing chores, etc. you are probably not getting enough sun exposure. The sun provides Vitamin D in its most elemental and well-absorbed form. Contrary to popular belief, sun exposure is critical to our health and if you don’t get it, your immune system is probably getting weaker every day.

Have you ever wondered why people seem to get sick during the winter? It’s no coincidence that when we are lacking in Vitamin D, our immune systems are vulnerable to bacteria and viruses that make us sick. Some years ago, Dr. R. Edgar Hope-Simpson confirmed this during decades of research and believed there is a reason for flu outbreaks that comes in the form of a “seasonal stimulus”. But it is also true that not everyone comes down with the virus.

As research has continued through others such as John  Cannell of the Vitamin D Council, it is now apparent that low levels of Vitamin D are indeed this “seasonal stimulus” which is not only triggered by a weakening in the immune system, but also greatly impacts our susceptibility to infection. Vitamin D has extremely powerful influence over the immune system, and the presence of it can prevent sickness. When we are exposed to a virus, our immune system produces broad-spectrum antimicrobial elements – antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). We also have this ability in our skin cells and the cells lining internal openings and passageways, and also a varying amount of immune cells to produce AMPs after exposure to harmful microbes. But in order for this response to happen, there must be sufficient Vitamin D in the body.

In Nature Immunology, a study was produced discusses how Vitamin D must be present for proper signaling and activation of T-cells, our immune system’s guard against damage by foreign pathogens. T-cells cannot activate without Vitamin D. Vitamin D is actually a precursor to our bodies’ ability to produce a natural antibiotic which are responsible for protecting us against pathogens – bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

For more information, read Get Your Sunshine While You Still Can – Prevent Flus and Colds!

Vitamin D Crucial to Activating Immune Defenses - Science Daily

10. You’re not getting enough rest/moderate movement or exercise/stress relief. 

Never underestimate the positive effects of getting enough rest – which means going to bed by 10 or 10:30 most nights and sleeping a full 8 hours or more – and making sure you aren’t over extending yourself in terms of obligations and tasks. These are both instrumental in healing.

If you stay up late regularly and don’t allow your body the rest and recharge it needs…or if you are constantly on the go and being pulled every which way, you can expect your body to be worn out, tired, and not capable of handling the demands of your day-to-day life.  Your immune system will not be strong and you can easily fall prey to chronic health issues, colds, flus, and infections.

Getting outside and moving is important too, but over exercising (which many people in our culture do) without proper rest, nutritional, and lifestyle support is a recipe for adrenal exhaustion and body burnout.  Dr Mercola talks about how too much cardio can actually damage your heart.  Dr. Lawrence Wilson says that too much exercise can lead to severely damage the adrenal glands and damage your health. When this happens, your hormone levels are not normal and your immune system becomes overwhelmed. Then you are vulnerable to disease and illness.

Cortisol levels which are normally released only on occasion for helping your energy levels and appetite to increase and keying down allergic and inflammatory responses in the immune system. It also maintains and releases energy in the body to allow it to overcome negative effects of illness and disease, trauma, extreme temperatures, and also helps maintain balanced moods and emotions.

Cortisol goes out of balance when used too often. This is what happens when the body is dealing with too much stress or demand without proper support. When cortisol levels in your body stay high for too long a period of time, the results are: weight gain, a decrease in bone density, loss of muscle mass, decreased ability to produce protein which leads to kidney damage, retention of fluids, thinning of the skin, up and down blood sugar levels, and increased susceptibility to viruses, bacteria,  fungi, allergic response, yeast overgrowth, parasites, and cancer.

Stop doing so much, avoid working over time whenever you can, and in general do less.  Most things can wait until tomorrow, and if they can’t, it may be time for re-evaluation of your priorities.

For more information, read What is Adrenal Fatigue and Do I Have It? Keeper of the Home

11. Healing takes time. Be patient.

We often want progress much sooner than it actually happens. The reality is, our bodies became sick over a period of years, probably decades of time. Healing can take months to years to accomplish, and if we slide back too often, longer.  But if we are on a steady course, we can notice improvements and signs healing in a fairly short amount of time – days, weeks, or months.

Less fatigue, more energy, better sleep, less pain in the body. These are all things we can expect if we stay on a regular effort of eating well and treating our bodies with care and kindness. But don’t give up if you feel like you have plateaued and aren’t progressing. It may just take more time than you believe it should, and with lifestyle changes you will eventually see a difference and reap the rewards of your careful attention to your body and what it needs.