Tag Archives: digestion

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How to Get More Calcium in Your Diet

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You may hear from your doctor or health practitioner that you should take a calcium supplement or drink fortified, low-fat milk or other dairy products for good bone health.  For as long as I can remember, many people l know talk about taking these supplements and eating those types of foods so they can avoid diseases like osteoporosis.

But what are these calcium supplements really doing for your health? And, what did people do for calcium before the advent of dietary supplements and processed, fortified foods?

Before I answer those questions, let’s review the importance of calcium in the diet. What purpose does it serve? Besides bone and teeth health, it’s important for restful sleep and also guards against colon cancer. Magnesium is its mandatory counterpart, and 80 percent of Americans are deficient! This nutrient is necessary to protect from heart disease, low blood sugar, thyroid problems, infertility, asthma, panic attacks, migraines, PCOS, Alzheimer’s disease, PMS, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue and eating disorders…just to name a few. Without calcium and magnesium together, you are in big trouble.

Here’s something else – Vitamins A, D, and K are also necessary for proper assimilation of calcium in the body. To bind calcium and other minerals to bone, you need all of these vitamins which are found in foods like eggs, meat, dairy products – in their whole forms. The presence of Vitamin K actually allows calcium to flow from the bloodstream to bone and bone marrow, fortifying bones.

You can’t get the proper balance of minerals or other nutrients out of foods like skim milk and egg whites, or meats from animals on feedlots bred to contain less fat. That’s why in milk without butterfat, you won’t find a complete source of fat-soluble vitamins, protein, or calcium.

How calcium and other minerals work in the body

Calcium and other minerals fall in the category of co-enzymes, which are critical to the activation of enzymes in the body. Your muscles and nerves won’t function properly without a balance of mineral salts in the fluids of your tissues.  When this mineral balance is off,  the result can be paralysis or convulsions.

Our hormones are governed by the mineral balance in our bodies. They depend on vitamins, amino acids, and specific essential fatty acids from the food we eat to maintain normal hormonal production.

Minerals are elements from the earth which cannot be manufactured in the human body. Only a small fraction of the minerals we need come from the water we drink, the rest comes from plants and indirectly from animals who eat plants.

The sources of these minerals are extremely important. If you are trying to get minerals from a synthetic supplement, you will eventually experience diarrhea, bloating or cramping, and other digestive problems. Minerals that are not chelated – that is, bound up correctly with the corresponding amino acids which deliver them to your bloodstream – won’t be absorbed properly.  If you are taking a vitamin supplement – and most are synthetic – you won’t actually be absorbing these nutrients at all.

To absorb the minerals we eat, minerals and proteins should be consumed together. If we lack digestive acid levels in our stomach to alter minerals into ions, which is necessary for absorption and to break down proteins into amino acids, those elements won’t do us any good. Amino acids must be combined with minerals in a naturally-occurring formation – from nature.

Supplements and fortified foods are synthetic

When you take calcium and magnesium supplements – or really any other synthetically-produced dietary preparation – your body does not recognize it as something natural and cannot properly utilize it.  This is why we receive constant warnings from medical and health professionals against “overdosing” on nutrients. These are actually considered toxic when they reach certain levels in the body – because they are not real nor recognizable.

The same is true about foods processed to such an extent like pasteurized, low-fat dairy products. They are denatured and damaged through processing and removal of the fat. To amend for nutritional inadequacy of the food, laboratory-generated “nutrients” are added back in, according to “recommended daily allowances”. These foods are then no longer nourishing, and are severely lacking for valuable, nutrient-dense qualities.

Real food provides calcium and other nutrients we need

What did people do to get adequate calcium in their diets before they took supplements? The answer is, they ate whole foods containing the nutrients needed for health. Before the world was polluted with massive amounts of chemicals and toxins continually being dumped into our food supply, air, water, and soil by industrial agriculture, chemical, and manufacturing industries, people who had access to a variety of real foods could obtain an adequate supply of nutrients in their diets from animal foods, seafood, whole grains, vegetation and plants from mineral-rich soils. Nutrients from real food cannot be overdosed because they are in balance, your body knows when it is satiated, and you will stop eating when you become full.

One of the only calcium supplements I know of which can be absorbed by the body is a product like Dr. Ron Schmid’s Cal 1000 – Mag 500 Hydroxyapatite Plus. This supplement is entirely different than bone meal because it includes trace minerals which closely resemble the proportions that exist in human bones. The calcium is extremely bio-available, making it easily-digested, and is cold-processed to preserve organic factors and protein matrix of the bones. It includes 1000 mg of calcium and 500 mg of magnesium, plus other trace minerals boron, manganese, boron, natural Vitamin D3, and buffered vitamin C – all essential nutrients for optimizing calcium absorption and utilization.

This type of calcium supplement also contains 20% of Type I collagen protein, the predominant collagen in bone. A small clinical trial of osteoporosis patients experiencing pain in their back displayed a marked decrease in pain when they used this type of calcium. The control group experienced an increase of pain during the trial. In addition, several clinical trials have revealed this type of supplement actually helps in preventing bone loss, aids in the restoration of healthy bone, and is well tolerated without compromising digestion.

Sources:
Clinical trial of microcrystalline hydroxyapatite compound (‘Ossopan’) in the prevention of osteoporosis due to corticosteroid therapy
Efficacy of ossein-hydroxyapatite complex compared with calcium carbonate to prevent bone loss: a meta-analysis
Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite compound in prevention of bone loss in corticosteroid-treated patients with chronic active hepatitis
Dr. Gary A. Bachman, Naturopathic Physician
Oral chelation

Real food sources of calcium (and other essential minerals):

  • Raw dairy products – milk, cheese, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt, kefir, cream, ghee, and butter
  • Bone broths – home made stock from the bones of animals, birds, and fish that are sustainably raised
  • Sea salt – not refined sea salt, but real salt that has visible colors/minerals in it
  • Grass-fed meat
  • Safe-sourced seafood – especially mussels, oysters, clams, and other mollusks
  • Fish roe (eggs)
  • Organ meats from animals and birds on pasture
  • Bone marrow from grass-fed animals
  • Pasture-raised poultry
  • Eggs from pasture-raised hens

Foods that contribute to calcium loss

Contrary to popular belief, raw vegetables like spinach containing calcium do not absorb into the digestive tract very well. In fact, eating them raw can actually interfere with the absorption of important minerals like calcium and iron.  So cook your vegetables to release lutein and beta-carotene, and neutralize oxalic acid or oxalate – the compound in some vegetables which inhibits absorption of minerals. And eat them with a healthy fat containing fat-soluble vitamins like butter, tallow, lard, or ghee.

Besides processed, industrial foods that contain chemicals which cause nutrients to not be absorbed and add toxins to your body, other deterrents to absorbing enough calcium in the diet are diets containing gluten. Gluten is an irritant to the digestive tract, and if enough of it is consumed, it can actually cause a reduction or shortening in villi – tiny, finger-like substances in the small intestine which enable the body to absorb food, and create penetrations or holes in the intestinal lining.

Once holes are present in the small intestine and undigested foods go through the lining into the bloodstream, these substances actually contribute to mineral loss in the body – especially in the bones – among other health problems.

For more information about how gluten consumption contributes to nutrient loss and health issues in the body, read Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride.

Learn about foods containing calcium and other minerals which are vital to health:

Raw milk

Butter

Grassfed meat

This post is part of Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesdays Carnival.

Green Living Healthy Living Healthy Meat Kids & Family Real Food

How Digestion Affects Health

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How much does digestion affect health? The truth is, it has a profound impact on how well you feel and how everything in your body functions. Everything you consume will ultimately have an effect on your well-being. Throughout the history of time, sage practitioners and health professional have understood that a healthy gut supports our entire foundation of wellness.

If we can’t digest our food, and if our food isn’t real or recognizable by the body, the digestive tract function will become impaired. As a result, all organ systems in our bodies will begin to malfunction.

Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, a pediatric neurosurgeon, has done an extensive amount of research on this system in the body and how it affects all the other organ systems. I was fortunate enough to hear her speak at the Weston A. Price Conference last week in Philadelphia. Although I already knew about many of the things she has been sharing with the health and medical world in her research, I learned some other things which were truly astounding.

From personal experience in finding treatment for her own son who was diagnosed with autism many years ago, she made the connection that no body system functions in isolation and that everything is connected. “Most psychiatric patients suffer from digestive problems. They have unhealthy inner ecosystems where there is an overgrowth of bad bacteria, yeast and fungus; they cannot digest food properly. This creates a large number of neurotoxins that can move from their intestines through the damaged intestinal lining into the blood stream where the toxins are carried to the brain.” In her research, she discovered that most modern illnesses can be linked back to the state of health in the digestive tract.

From the Weston A. Price Foundation web site review of Dr. McBride’s book:

“When a baby is born, it acquires the flora of the mother during its passage through the birth canal. If the mother has a history of antibiotic or contraceptive use and poor digestive health, her flora will likely be unhealthy. If she does not breast-feed her baby, the gut flora of the child will be further compromised. The infant will often develop digestive problems such as colic, bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, feeding difficulties, intestinal damage and malnourishment very early in life and is typically afflicted by a host of allergies. The child usually has frequent ear infections treated with many rounds of antibiotics, which only make the situation worse.”

Genetic history, gender,  the state of nutrition prior to conception in the parents, medication and drugs, and environmental factors certainly also play a significant role in the development of disease. But without a doubt the digestive tract one of the primary mechanisms through which these factors can allow such developments to manifest themselves in noticeable symptoms and illness.

With high disease and illness levels present in the world, we are now understanding the connection to digestive health to many disorders – even though on the surface they may seem unrelated.

Here are some tips for successful digestive function and health:

  • Limit beverage intake while eating. Most overeating occurs because of dehydration, so hydrate before and after you eat – 1/2 hour before and 1 to 2 hours after eating. If you do drink with meals, try something warm that will aid digestion such as peppermint or ginger tea. Keep liquid intake to about 4 ounces during meal. Kombucha and bone broths are excellent foods to consume that will help keep your mineral levels optimal and reduce dehydration and other health issues. Too much liquid dilutes hydrochloric acid production in the stomach and can diminish the digestive tract’s ability to properly digest food you eat. If your hydrochloric acid production is low due to poor dietary habits, consider taking a hydrochloric acid supplement such as Betaine HCL 750 mg tabs by Designs For Health or Betaine HCL by Pharmax.
  • Avoid processed, packaged, and prepared foods, including refined foods with sugar. Sugar weakens the digestive tract and lowers immune system function. If you don’t do a lot of food preparation or cooking at home, consider doing this more in the future. Prepared and processed foods usually contain preservatives, chemicals, toxins, and have been altered in some way as to make nutrients dead and unavailable to the body. Real food prepared from scratch at home will support your digestive tract and health optimally.
  • Eliminate trans fats and hydrogenated oils. Replace with butter, lard, and tallow from healthy animals on pasture, coconut oil (for high heat cooking), and raw oils like pumpkin seed olive oil for raw consumption (great for salads).
  • Replace conventional and industrial sources of protein and meat with grass-fed meat and meat products. Instead of conventional eggs and poultry, switch to pasture-raised poultry and eggs. Meats, poultry, and eggs from healthy animals and birds on pasture are not treated with hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, and other chemicals. They are also from environments using organic and sustainable practices, and by their very growing methods contain more essential nutrients for health.
  • Take an Omega 3 supplement daily – cod liver oil is best in winter. Try Green Pasture Products fermented cod liver oil. Fermented cod liver oil is also the most potent source of natural Vitamins A and D – critical nutrients in maintaining general health.
  • If you eat grains, give yourself a break from wheat, which is normally the most processed and causes the most allergies/health problems. Try whole, soaked and/or sprouted grains including amaranth, quinoa, millet, kamut, buckwheat, and occasionally spelt. Try to keep to no more than 2 servings per week, and consider eliminating grains altogether if you have a chronic problem. This measure will help eliminate issues such as bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, candida syndrome, and other more serious problems like IBS or Crohn’s Disease.
  • Eat more fermented foods – kefir and real yogurt made from raw milk, cultured vegetables, and sauerkraut.
  • Eat bone broths made from home-made stock from healthy birds and animals on pasture. Bone broths are easily digestible and are an excellent source of nutrients and minerals that will heal your body.
  • Eat vegetables cooked and with healthy fats like butter, ghee, lard, tallow, or bacon drippings. The fat-soluble vitamins present in healthy fats help to digest and assimilate vegetables into your body more efficiently.
  • Raw juicing with plenty of greens is a good way to get your daily intake. When juicing, avoid high glycemic choices such as carrots and beets. For a good guide to juicing, read Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride’s book The Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPS).
  • Avoid soy unless fermented such as miso or tempeh. Do not eat soy cheese, milk, or soy proteins. These foods are all processed and soy contains phytic acid which inhibits the absorption of minerals and nutrients into the body. Soy also contains estrogen which can be harmful in excess and especially for men and boy’s reproductive systems.
  • Drink filtered water regularly. Another good way to stay hydrated is to add unsweetened, not-from-concentrate organic cranberry juice (and lemon juice) to your water. These are excellent detoxifiers and promote healing.
  • Mealtime should be relaxed and stress-free. If you are anxious or upset, avoid eating.

If you have had a compromised immune system and digestion due to poor diet and other factors, here are some recommendations to help heal your gut:

  • One of the best ways to heal your gut from the effects of a lifetime of poor dietary habits is the GAPS diet as recommended by Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride. For more information, visit the GAPS web site.
  • You may want to consider taking a digestive enzyme for additional support for digestion. Some brands available from the health food store which are good include Digest Gold and Garden of Life. For more potent support, ask a qualified health professional who has access to professional line of digestive enzymes. Some practitioners can recommend very powerful enzymes which are not available on the mainstream market, and depending on your individual need, this type of product may be appropriate.
  • You may need additional fiber in your diet for a period of time to help overcome issues you are experiencing as a result of poor dietary habits. Good products to take include Colon Plus by Biotics Research or Gastro-Fiber by Standard Process. Or, consult a knowledgeable practitioner who can recommend a good product.
  • Use aloe vera daily. Drinking liquid aloe vera is very soothing and helps heal the digestive tract of a variety of disorders. Aloe vera encourages the bowels to move more efficiently and effectively, and is a great detoxifying agent. Good brands to use are George’s and Country Life. Drink several ounces of aloe vera in the morning at least a half an hour before breakfast and between meals (two hours after eating) for maximum benefit.
  • Foods that do not digest properly such as processed foods or because of stress result in overgrowth of harmful bacteria and digestive disorders as well as lethargy, mood disorders, and other issues. You may want to consider a detoxification protocol to help heal your gut. Talk with a qualified practitioner who has experience in this area to find out which protocol is best for you. For more information about basic detoxification, read How Cleansing Positively Affects Your Health about the different types of detoxification, or It’s Time for A Fall Detox!

For more information about the digestive organs and how they affect health, read Gallbladder Disease and The Standard American Diet – My Personal Account

For more information about gallbladder/liver detoxification, read My Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse Experience