3 Morning Tasks for a Stress-Free Day

Does your day go by way too fast somtimes? If you are stressing that it’s the afternoon already and you’ve completed nothing, I’ve got news for you. I want to give you my 3 super effective morning tasks for a stress-FREE day. Because we all know fulfillment equals a stress-free life.

The morning can be a wonderful time of day. Hopefully, you’re feeling refreshed from a good night’s sleep. At this point in your day, no external inputs from the crazy world we live in have had a chance to cause any mental stress on you, yet. Morning gives you the opportunity to set up your next 14 – 16 hours to be amazing. 

Creating a great day requires a little bit of structure. Without having this structure, or plan, it’s possible to waste the day away and achieve nothing substantial. When this happens, you end up getting down on your self in a self-feeding stress circle. And that’s no good.

With the following tips, you will feel more fulfilled, reduce your stress levels, become more productive and begin your days on a positive note.

So let’s get to it. 

3-morning-tasks-for-a-stress-free-day

1. Meditate / Practice Breathing

Seriously, this is a BIG one! Practice breathing. If you’ve read my blog post “The way you breathe may be harming your health”, you know that breathing isn’t as simple as you think. Many of us have been missing out of this little health hack for years. Chronically over-breathing can actually cause us harm.

By using the breathing technique outlined in my blog post, you may naturally come to know that meditation can be one of its side effects. If you struggle to meditate (like me) then I’d really encourage you to go to the blog post and learn how to breathe.

Whilst performing the breathing techniques you will focus your mind in similar ways to meditation and benefit from many of the positive effects that come with meditation.

If you are a pro at meditating, then keep up the good work! That means you also probably know that meditation is known to:

  • Reduce Stress
  • Helps create focus
  • Improves sleep
  • Decreases blood pressure

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to convince you now that meditation is great for you. There’s so much information out there telling you to try it and why.

If you don’t want to try the breathing technique, there’s plenty of other options to start your meditation journey.

Phone apps – Headspace, Waking up, Insight Timer
Audio cues – Brain.fm (a personal favorite for meditation and focus)
Online courses – Glo

If you think you have no time left in your day to devote to meditation, I’d love to convince you otherwise, learn how to meditate when you think you have no time.

Just find what works for you. 

morning-task-for-stress-free-day

2. Daily Planner

A planner can mean many different things. To some, it means a bullet journal, to others it means a neat calendar. You have to find your own happy medium.

Personally, I’ve been through many various TODO lists – both electronic and paper. I’ve played with enough planners and to-do list techniques that I’ve now found my happy, personalized hybrid version.

I’d really suggest something where you can track long term goals. With long term goals, it allows you to keep focused on those short term tasks. You can find great information about setting goals at Whole Family Living.

Along with long-term goals, having a rough daily plan really helps with keeping your day on track. Using this daily plan – it’s helpful to refer to when you feel your day is going astray and to get yourself back on track.

Having a daily plan will also help alleviate stress by ensuring that there are no surprises for you on the horizon. Unless you like surprises! Having a loosely structured day will reduce the anxiety of the unknown and help you complete the tasks that matter to you.

I’ve found great results in implementing the teachings of the bullet journal, but at the same time, I don’t feel you have to follow it’s every step.

I would encourage you to go out and find the right method for you. 

morning-task-to-do-lisr

3. Complete a task that’s achievable and satisfying. 

Ready for a little brain hack? Go tick something off of your list. There you go. You did it.

It’s easy to satisfy your brain by completing tasks. This is why TODO lists work so well. But when you start with a job and you are still working on the same task after lunch you become demoralized. 

An easy way to trick your brain into a happier emotional state is to complete a meaningful task in the morning. And then tick it off the list! 

Everyone’s task will be different, but just make sure it’s easily achievable within one hour and is something that is meaningful to you. A good task for early in the morning is something that requires concentration as your brain will be focused after the meditation session. *air punch*

Some examples include:

  • Write a meaningful message to a friend.
  • Read and reflect on an article or book.
  • Draft a new blog post.
  • Finish a section of an art piece you’ve been working on.

By achieving a task like this early in the day you will feel overall more satisfied no matter how the rest of the day pans out. Even if your day brings bad luck, you can still look back and be happy with the morning progress you made. 

Conclusion

By no means are these 3 morning tasks intended to be exhaustive, but I would encourage you to use them as a base. Find what works for you. Analyze your mood and stress levels throughout the day and gauge whether the morning tasks are making a difference.

If for one day you cannot complete all these tasks, just pick up your journal and make sure you schedule time the next day to practice a perfect morning. 

Once you start seeing results you will become more enthusiastic about waking up with a plan.

I’d love to know what works for you in the morning? What little tricks and tips have you implemented to jump-start the forward momentum of your day? 

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3-morning-tasks-for-stress-free-day

The Way You Breathe May be Harming Your Health!

Do you know how to breathe properly? It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? But there’s a mounting consensus that in today’s day and age, we may be doing it wrong. Ultimately, science seems to show that your breathing may be harming your health!

As the book The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown alludes to, breathing correctly can have so many benefits for our health and our body. The best part? Breathing is completely free! Who knew?!

How do you know if you have a problem?

  • Do you wake up and still feel tired?
  • Do you get out of breath too quickly?
  • Do you notice yourself breathing out of your mouth doing day to day tasks?
  • Do you snore?
  • Do you often sigh?
  • Do you often get light headed or dizzy?

If any of the above questions sound like something you do, then you may be over breathing. Often these can be signs that your brain is triggering you to pull more oxygen into your body.

Drawing more oxygen into the body may sound like a good thing, however, this may be detrimental to your health as seen with Hyperventilation Syndrome.

What is Hyperventilation Syndrome?

The problem of chronic over-breathing (Hyperventilation Syndrome) can lead to several issues in the body, even in areas which seem to be completely unrelated[1].

  • Heart Palpitations
  • Angina
  • Raynaud’s
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles in the extremities
  • Muscle cramps
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Reduced ability to concentrate.

The list could go on, so it’s important that everybody understand this fully!

How to fix your breathing

Luckily there is a way to regain control of your breathing. But the first thing to do is to measure your baseline. To do this, we perform a BOLT.

BOLT (Body Oxygen Level Test)

The optimal time to perform a BOLT is in the morning after waking up.

  • Take a normal breath in and out.
  • Hold your breath until you feel the first, natural desire to breathe.
  • At this point, you will breathe through your nose until you can breathe calmly again.

Your BOLT score is the amount of time you held your breath for.

Patrick Mckeown provides some excellent advice on when to determine the first desire to breathe in the following passage.

Time the number of seconds until you feel the first definite desire to breathe, or the first stresses of your body urging you to breathe. These sensations may include the need to swallow or a constriction of the airways. You may also feel the first involuntary contractions of your breathing muscles in your abdomen or throat as the body gives the message to resume breathing. (Note that BOLT is not a measurement of how long you can hold your breath but simply the time it takes for your body to react to a lack of air.)

The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown

If you have a score under 20 seconds, it’s a sign you have something to improve. It doesn’t mean that you have any severe problems, as Patrick describes, many professional athletes cannot even hit these scores. It does mean that you see massive benefits if you could raise that score to 40 seconds. On my first tests, I had a score of just under 14 seconds.

How to raise your BOLT score

To raise your BOLT score, you need to learn how to truly breathe – beneficially. If you’re like me, with a score under 20 seconds, then things are going to start a little slow, but the most important thing is that we will get there!

ALWAYS nose breathe. This applies to everyone. Be mindful throughout the day to ensure you are breathing through your nose.

While being mindful about your breathing, it’s important to avoid sighing, and taking big breaths. Consequently, if you find yourself doing this, hold your breath for a few seconds after it has occurred, and then continue to breathe through your nose normally.

Equally important, is to wear a little piece of medical tape over your mouth at night to ensure your mouth doesn’t fall open during the night. On average, humans tend to naturally breathe through their mouths whilst sleeping.

Practice breathing 3 times a day.

  • Place one hand on your abdomen to feel your breath.
  • Began to breathe normally through your nose until you feel calm.
  • Reduce the volume of the breath to a point where it is tolerable, and make sure you are still able to control it.
  • Continue for 10 minutes.

If this practice starts getting out of control, settle to calm your breath for 15 seconds, and continue as before. You will most likely feel a warmth come over your body along with extra saliva being produced in your mouth. This is a good thing! You’re moving your body into a parasympathetic state, much like meditation.

Fixing your breathe

These simple acts above can have dramatic effects on your wellbeing and your health. The fact that you are only changing the way you breathe to increase your health is win-win for anyone.

Ultimately, there is so much more to this subject than this blog post, therefore, I’d suggest reading The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown. In his book, he goes over more advanced techniques and dives deep into all the science behind breathing. It opened my eyes to a subject that I previously knew nothing about. Optimal breathing should be the first port of call for people with chronic illness, the average joe, and all the way to professional athletes.

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Why The Fasting Mimicking Diet Isn’t For Everyone

Have you seen the news? The Fasting Mimicking Diet has been all over the health and wellness headlines.  It’s claimed everything from life extension and helping to cure cancer to minimizing autoimmune conditions.

If these are the benefits – why isn’t everyone doing it? Given my own issues with autoimmune, I decided to try the FMD.  And guess what? It didn’t produce the results I expected. Surprise! I want to tell you all about it below to emphasize that maybe this Fasting Mimicking Diet isn’t for everyone.

What is the FMD?

There’s lots of information out there so I’ll just summarize the gist of it. Essentially, the Fasting Mimicking Diet (hereby referred to as the FMD) is a fast which allows a limited amount of specific food to sustain some nutrition but decreased your calorie intake.

Basically, this fast should be easier to follow for the average person given that you can still eat during it – and you still reap all the benefits of a traditional fast.

Why should you fast?

Fasts are beneficial for many reasons, but the FMD mainly focuses on autophagy, a word used from the Ancient Greek term for ‘self-devouring’. Autophagy is the body’s natural process of destroying old and damaged cells. [1]

Cancerous cells and malfunctioning antibodies are considered to be unhealthy or damaged cells. Therefore, when the autophagy process starts running, these cells are targeted and ultimately, eliminated.

You could picture it like the carnival game where you throw darts at balloons. The balloons are the damaged cells and you, throwing the dart, is considered the ‘autophagy process’.  Fasting initiates autophagy which is the reason why the FMD has shown amazing benefits for cancer patients and autoimmune diseases.

How to complete the fasting mimicking diet

The fast starts with a low calorific intake for a full five days. This is followed by a ‘refeeding period’.

During the first day, you drop your calorie intake to around 800. These 800 calories can be further divided into 10% protein, 56% fat and 34% carbs. Then each subsequent day you will be consuming approximately 500 calories consisting of 9% protein, 44% fat, 47% carbs [2].

The refeeding period consists of build back to your normal calorie intake but abstaining from any heavy proteins or meals such as animal products.

Five hundred calories is drastically lower than the average non-fasting calorific intake you might be used to. That’s equivalent to about 5 apples or 4 slices of bacon, A DAY – depending on which side of the coin you prefer to look at. However, 500 calories should provide enough nutrients to establish a higher comfort level through its duration than most other fasts.

Notice the fat intake is a little higher than a regular recommended diet. The diet also recommends avoiding animal-based proteins during the period (the 4 bacon slices were a joke, btw). This, in turn, will help the autophagy process.

My experience with the FMD

I’ve tried other 1-2 day fasts with no substantial side effects other than a bit of fatigue. I actually had really positive experiences post-fast. This made me pretty confident trying the FMD. Especially because this fast allowed for food – albeit 500-800 calories a day.

What I ate

I followed what I deemed was a reasonable interpretation of the FMD. This consisted of avocado’s, fresh leafy greens, a green vegetable powder, coconut oil and a mixture of seeds and nuts – never exceeding the 800/500 calorie limit. Additionally, I added a little bit of salt now and then to keep my essential electrolytes up. Finally, I drank plenty of water and abstained from all caffeine including coffee or tea.

Day by Day dairy

Refeeding period

I had some issues refeeding and had occasional bloating, gas and a painful gut. I was still mainly eating a vegan diet other than the bone broth, but it seemed I was unable to digest anything well.

After the five days, I had prolonged fatigue and my autoimmune issued flared up more often than usual, in addition to this I could not shake off the chills. It took around two weeks to feel OK again and to return to a bit of running.

Why the Fasting Mimicking Diet didn’t work for me

Obviously, my observations are subjective, but I found many negatives which would discourage me from trying the FMD anytime soon.

I believe the main reason I had issues was down to my weight. At just over 140 pounds and 5’10”, I’m not carrying much fat. From my regular measurements using body fat calipers, I read around 4-5% body fat.

Less than 6% of body fay is considered too low and something I’ve been unable to remedy for a good while due to my autoimmune issues. Attempting a long-term fast with such a low body fat percentage is not advised since the fat energy stores you’d be dipping into are drastically reduced in comparison to other people who fast.

Another possible issue I encountered was the difficulty of ensuring the correct macro and micro-nutrients. As I’m not a trained nutritionist or MD, it’s possible that my calculated food intake was incorrect.

It’s possible to remedy this by using the Prolon product supported by Dr. Valter Longo, but I was unwilling to invest $250 in a product that seemed relatively simple to replicate. Maybe I was wrong.

Conclusion

I still believe the FMD can work for many people and will possibly work for you. But I would strongly advise you to review your weight and body fat percentage before trying the FMD. Also, ensure you have perfected the dietary requirements before attempting a fast like this. As always, it’s still best to talk to your doctor before trying any fasts.

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fasting-mimicking-diet

Is Your Breakfast as Healthy As This One?

Your first meal of the day – or ‘breakfast’ – provides a great opportunity to make good, nutritious food choices right from the beginning of each day. When you make good decisions with your first meal it prompts you to make healthy choices for the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, the standard American diet has influenced society into choosing cereals, donuts, toast, or overly salted breakfast sandwiches – to name a few – for our unhealthy breakfast choices. Most of these options (if not all) are sugary, glutenous, and most probably, downright bad for you. Especially as the first meal of your day.

So what are your alternatives for a good, hearty, but healthy breakfast option?

Don’t fret, my friends. There is an answer. I’ve collaborated with Kristen from Navigating The Allergic Life to cover a breakfast meal that follows both her Low-FODMAP diet and other allergy concerns – as well as my celiac and low sugar diet. Navigating two very different diets and coming up with a mutual recipe was a challenge, but one I’ve learned so much from. I’ve learned to consider other dietary needs in addition to learning so much about the  Low-FODMAP diet, which I was previously unfamiliar with. So if you’re interested in a different take on this recipe head over to her blog post and find out more.

Now, being from the UK, porridge (or as America’s like to say, oatmeal) is a standard British breakfast. It may not be an everyday choice, but you can find it in everyone’s cupboard, and it’s often a consideration.

I have to admit – even in the UK, we add tons of sweet jam or Golden Syrup that ends up canceling out any nutritional benefits you receive from the oats. The solution?

In this recipe, we’re proposing an alternative to all this sugary breakfast garbage to maintain the nutritious benefits of oats while maximizing the health benefits of breakfast found in other great additions. Oh, and it also makes the porridge *cough* oatmeal taste good. 🙂

Healthy Breakfast Recipe

healthy-breakfast-recipe

Simple enough, right? Now let’s break down each of these ingredients and talk about the benefits of adding these to your breakfast.

Oats

Oats are a fantastic grain with a balance of macronutrients. Additionally, oats have high fiber content and plenty of vitamins and minerals. There is even a bit of protein in it, too. Oats are a slow-releasing carb – so you are more likely to stay full for longer.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, gluten is a concern for anyone with an autoimmune disease, so always ensure you buy gluten-free oats as they may be cross-contaminated with other gluten products.

healthy-breakfast-rolled-oats

Coconut milk

Coconut milk a great source of good fat. This type of good fat will keep hunger pains at bay (like the oats mentioned above) longer compared to having a high carb-only breakfast.

Lauric acid is one fatty acid found in coconut milk. Lauric acid is antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory and strongly linked with a healthy immune system. Coconut milk is also known to cause apoptosis, which is especially important when fighting off cancerous cells.

Cinnamon

Many people know that Cinnamon is beneficial for you, and it also tastes great! Did you know, cinnamon is a great natural anti-inflammatory? And, as seen in my previous post – “Is inflammation Good or Bad for you?”, anyone fighting a chronic illness could benefit from a dose of Cinnamon.

Pro tip: Yes, cinnamon is great. But as with most things, too much is potentially toxic and harmful for you. Just keep your consumption to less than a teaspoon a day.

Blueberries

I could talk about blueberries for days. There is so much goodness found in these little guys. Not only do blueberries taste great (I could be biased) but they’re great for your body! What do I mean by that? Well, 1 cup of blueberries account for: 4 grams of fiber, 24% RDI* of Vitamin C, 36% RDI* of Vitamin K, and 25% RDI* of Manganese.

They are also full of antioxidants which help fight free radicals that cause oxidative stress in your body. With one of the highest known antioxidant levels in all fruits, they are a great choice to throw into your daily meals.

*RDI – Recommended Daily Intake

blueberries

Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are a great source of protein and minerals and help to form a great balance in this recipe. Often when we are fasting, like when we’ve been asleep overnight, our vital minerals run low.

By having just a couple tablespoons of sunflower seeds, we can replace essential minerals like magnesium, selenium, zinc, and copper which are all related to a healthy immune system. Now, by pairing the protein profile of these sunflowers seeds with the protein we have in oats, this creates a powerful combination for your first meal of the day.

Maple Syrup

We all know Maple syrup tastes excellent. And yes, that makes a pretty strong case for including it in a breakfast recipe. But did you know that maple syrup also contains essential minerals?  

It is packed with zinc, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Having this combination of minerals in the morning is a great way to bring your body back into balance after a night’s sleep. Maple syrup is also great when you are following a low fructose diet, which you can learn more about over at Navigating The Allergic Life.  

healthy-oatmeal-breakfast-bowl

Conclusion

Have we convinced you to change up your breakfast routine and start eating this healthy, awesome oatmeal/porridge dish? Even if you eat it a few times a week – that’s a great start!

Oats are often my go-to when I want a hearty, healthy breakfast I can feel good about. Hopefully, this post has encouraged you to consider it too!

Now it’s over to you! How would you change this recipe? I’m always looking for new great ideas.

**If you want to know more about navigating allergies in today’s world or about the Low-FODMAP, I highly recommend to check out what Kristen has to say on her page.

healhty-breakfast

Is Inflammation Good or Bad for You?

Have you ever stopped and asked yourself – is inflammation, good or bad for you? I can tell you the answers is Yes…and No. Every interaction you have with the world has the opportunity of causing you inflammation.

What’s important to understand, especially when combatting a chronic illness, is how we recover from this inflammation and how that can lead to an anti-inflammatory life.

Another way to understand what causes inflammation is to know the classifications of stress and its effects on the body. With this in mind, we can say that even running causes inflammation in our bodies.

Running causes stress, and is considered a way to overexert your body on purpose. In reaction to the stress from running, your body becomes inflamed. However, your body has an amazing ability to recover and repair to make you even stronger than before.

Other stresses on the body can be good too – as long as they do not cause any chronic inflammation damage and are not in excess

Glass overflow analogy

No one wants more stress in their lives than they already have. But you need to keep pushing and testing your body towards its optimal stress levels to improve. However, putting stress on your body can end up being one big balancing act.

A great way to understand how these balancing acts work is imagining stress as water and your stress holding ability as the glass. When you exert stress on your body, you pour a little water in at a time. You never want the glass to be without water (stress) because you will never improve your physical abilities and eventually, would waste away. But you also do not want your glass to overflow with water (stress) and cause a physical or mental breakdown.

But Really, What is an Autoimmune Disease?

Glass overflow from autoimmune diseases

Any type of stress can pour water into your glass, be it mental, physical, or any external pathogens. If you suffer from any autoimmune diseases, your immune system is fighting against itself, severely stressing your body.

If you don’t know how an autoimmune disease works, check out my blog post explaining exactly that, right here.

It’s beneficial to know that autoimmune diseases can often go undetected for a while, slowly stressing your body in minimal ways. These minimal stresses do eventually add up. Imagine the water is being dripped into your glass, slowly – but the glass is still filling up. It’s only when the water overflows that autoimmune related problems become apparent.

These stresses from autoimmune issues have ultimately been building for years. The last stress factor that pushes you over the glass’ edge could be anything from losing your job, moving houses or cities, having a fall out with a friend, or even overtraining. It’s all dependent on our body.

A key take away from this analogy is that it’s not only one problem that causes issues within your body; it’s usually a multitude of factors that build up over time and can eventually overflow.

An extreme case of having your glass overflow is the example of elderly couples dying within weeks of each other. While it could be coincidence, have you ever considered it could be due to the stress of losing a loved one? The process of losing a loved one ultimately causes their body’s stress levels (water) to overflow. I am trying to emphasize to you that on once you see all varieties of stressors as an additive effect, you can then start to understand chronic illnesses and how to manage them.

How the body excels

Now, this all isn’t to say that we don’t want stress in our lives. We do! Without stress, we would never improve mentally or physically – and we could potentially shorten our lives.

Why do you think running is good for you? It’s not because you’re crushing your knees with every step or wheezing as your run uphill; it’s because you’re training your body to deal with increasing amounts of stress. 

To ensure that you push your body the right amount each time you run or workout, use training plans or use methods like heart rate variance. These plans can assist in making sure you don’t overtrain (or over-stress) your body. It’s all about finding that fine line of balancing your stress levels.

So, we know that having a little stress in our lives is beneficial. Now we need to mindfully craft our stress level to make us superhuman (I promise, this is possible!). If you are impatient like me, we, unfortunately, need to wrap our heads around playing the long game to ensure we do not over-exceed our stress levels (spill the water) with overtraining.

The key is knowing that stress level balances vary from person to person, and we need to find our own optimal levels. We are all made differently – not everyone can run 100 miles with little to no training; some of us need a few years to work our way up to those miles.

Chronic Illness

If you’re dealing with chronic illnesses, you have to be much more attuned to unwanted stresses that can be continuously adding to your glass. Be mindful of all the various places that stress factors originate. For instance, I wouldn’t recommend competing in your first ultra run the same week as your college finals — the same as not running hard while you are amid an illness flare up. You need to stay balanced and in-tune with your stress levels.

Going full throttle can likely land you in a worse condition than you started. Start thinking about how can you best support your body and its recovery from your training (even if that takes more time that you would prefer).

Recovering from stress

Rather than stopping all inflammation in our lives by eliminating all known stress factors, you can be more productive by helping your body recover from the inflammation.

To recover from inflammation depends on what types of stress you are fighting. Here are some solutions to everyday stresses.

Meditation

When people think of stress, we usually think of emotional stress. From 9-5 jobs to arguing with your spouse, being able to calm down the mind and dealing with mentally stressful situations is essential. Meditation can help with this and should be included in your daily routine to keep stress at bay.

Anti-inflammatory foods

To calm your stress levels and reduce inflammation, be mindful of the foods you put in your mouths. There are many anti-inflammatory foods including, but not limited to turmeric, cinnamon (in moderation), blueberries and broccoli (among others found in this list). It’s important to eat a plant rich, well-rounded diet to ensure you’re supporting your body to its maximum potential.

Cool packs and heat packs

Growing up, what was the first thing your parents told you to do when you twisted your ankle or sprained your wrist? Get ice on it! Have you ever wondered why do you do that? To reduce inflammation. Using ice on injuries aids in the minimization of swelling which in turn reduces bleeding into the tissues causing muscle spasms – ultimately, reducing overall pain.

Plunging yourself into an ice bath after a workout is based on the same theory – reducing inflammation. At a later date, you usually are told to apply heat to your injury to increase blood flow and remove the byproducts which further decreases inflammation.

Relaxation and sleep

One of the most essential stress reducers is sleep and relaxation. Doesn’t everything feel better after a good nights sleep?

Deep sleep triggers a mechanism in the brain that flushes out inflammation-causing toxins throughout the night. Increased inflammation can occur when the body is receiving minimal levels of sleep.

Our brain is an intricate part of our body that science has only broken the surface on, so there are so many more mechanisms at play in there. It’s imperative that you get adequate sleep every night, for both optimal brain and bodily health.

Let me know how you reduce your stress levels or find that fine line between over and under stress limits. Comment below and if you like the post, pin it!

is-inflammation-good-or-bad?

3 Morning Tasks for a Stress-Free Day

Does your day go by way too fast somtimes? If you are stressing that it’s the afternoon already and you’ve completed nothing, I’ve got news for you. I want to give you my 3 super effective morning tasks for a stress-FREE day. Because we all know fulfillment equals a stress-free life. The morning can be…

Read More

The Way You Breathe May be Harming Your Health!

Do you know how to breathe properly? It sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it? But there’s a mounting consensus that in today’s day and age, we may be doing it wrong. Ultimately, science seems to show that your breathing may be harming your health! As the book The Oxygen Advantage by Patrick Mckeown alludes…

Read More

Why The Fasting Mimicking Diet Isn’t For Everyone

Have you seen the news? The Fasting Mimicking Diet has been all over the health and wellness headlines.  It’s claimed everything from life extension and helping to cure cancer to minimizing autoimmune conditions. If these are the benefits – why isn’t everyone doing it? Given my own issues with autoimmune, I decided to try the…

Read More

Is Your Breakfast as Healthy As This One?

Your first meal of the day – or ‘breakfast’ – provides a great opportunity to make good, nutritious food choices right from the beginning of each day. When you make good decisions with your first meal it prompts you to make healthy choices for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, the standard American diet has…

Read More

The Ultimate Morning Bone Broth Recipe for Leaky Gut

I’ve already told you in my bone broth for fasting blog post, how incredibly important bone broth can be for healing a leaky gut. What I haven’t told you yet – and I want to here – is after I fasted (and felt phenomenal), I realized I didn’t want to say goodbye. So I’ve added little tweaks for a super special morning bone broth recipe.

Here I’m going to share my uber-awesome, ultra-healthy, and special beneficial broth recipe. When consumed in the morning, I promise it will get your day off to the right start, even if the rest of your day goes off the rails.

Tips

Did you know an unhealthy (or leaky) gut is the root cause of numerous autoimmune diseases – and other severe conditions?

When your gut is leaking (or permeable), it allows large particles of food and foreign invaders to pass into your blood system causing chronic inflammation that results in autoimmune symptoms. You can read all about this in detail in my post “What is an autoimmune disease?”.

With autoimmune diseases in mind, adding some gut healing goodness in your life sounds like a great idea, right?

This bone broth recipe is your new best friend. But why stop there? Adding deliciously healthy superfoods into the mix not only amplifies the flavor but also gives you that extra health boost.

bone-broth-recipe

Bone Broth*

Now, there are tons of choices for bone broths on the market, so how do you choose? Well, I chose Vital Proteins Bone Broth* because there are no additional additives, it’s non-GMO, and USDA certified organic.

My thorough research did not reveal any other broths that lived up to these standards. Please message me if this changes at any point in the future! But as of March 2019, I consider Vital Proteins Bone Broth essential and worth the investment. Watch out for the brands hiding gums, stabilizers, and sweeteners in powdered formulas.

Bone broth is said to have numerous benefits on the body, in particular, the gut. It also holds many vital nutrients the body requires to repair itself.

Bone broth contains a nutrient called collagen, which is crucial for healing the gut, joints, and skin. Collagen, along with other amino acids like proline, glycine, and gelatin all have beneficial effects on our bodies. And guess what? These amino acids are all found in bone broth.

Super Greens*

Tales, as old as time, have told us how vital greens are in our diet. But sometimes it’s hard to consume as much as your body needs! If this problem sounds like yours – then powdered greens may be the way to go.

I use Super Greens* because they are Non-GMO and USDA organic. Because of the addition of monk fruit, it even tastes pretty good too! If you want to research further, their site has excellent information on the product.

Apple Cider Vinegar*

I use Apple cider vinegar in my broth for two reasons.

  1. It adds a little sour twist that I like, and
  2. ACV is great for keeping yeast overgrowth at bay. (We’ve all got some!)
  3. ACV assists in maintaining a balanced pH in the digestive system which is critical for nutrient absorption.

Turmeric*

Turmeric is another staple for health aficionados, like myself. Turmeric has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory effects, which is key to fighting chronic illness.

As I mentioned previously, inflammation is known to be a leading driver to severe health conditions. So reversing (or steering clear from) inflammation has been shown to help prevent heart disease, cancer, and arthritis.

Cayenne pepper*

Cayenne pepper may sound strange for a broth, but believe me, it’s needed. If not for that kick in your mouth, than for its absorption properties. Studies show that cayenne pepper (and black pepper) aide the absorption of curcumin.

What is curcumin, you ask? Curcumin is the beneficial ingredient in turmeric. Cayenne or black pepper is needed to activate this ingredient within our body which increases its bioavailability by up to 2000%! Remember that next time you’re adding turmeric to your recipe.

Water

Lastly, we need water. Unfortunately, waking up from a good nights sleep always results in slight dehydration. But don’t fret! Just pour yourself a large glass of water first thing in the morning and start chugging.

Adding water to this broth will only increase the intake of your water in the morning, which will stave off any further signs of dehydration and contribute to your eight glasses of water a day – or whatever the new daily water advice is these days.

Conclusion

I’ve given you the reasons, benefits, and science behind bone broth. And I’ve told you why adding these new, fun ingredients will give your health an extra boost!

Next step: add it into your morning routine! You won’t regret it – and neither will your body. Start your day off on a good note, friends.

I’ve linked to all the products via my affiliate links. If you want to support my work, the best way is to purchase via these links as I’ll receive a small amount of affiliate commission. I thank you for your kindness.

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How To Take Charge of Your Health And Why It’s Important

Everyone in the world has health issue/s in some form or another. Unfortunately, some of us more than others. Even if you feel alright, you should never stop looking for solutions to improve your health. Your health can continuously be improved. Always.

What does this mean for you? It means that you need to take charge of your health and find out everything you can about you and any illnesses or health traits that affect you. It’s so important and I want to tell you why.

We often answer the question “How are you?” with “Good,” “Ok, “Yeah, not bad.” Rarely do we respond with feeling “down and out” or react negatively. Instead, we often suppress how we feel.

Now, without suppressing anything, ask yourself.

“How do I feel now?”

Once you’ve answered this question, follow up with the question.

“How could you feel even better?”

These questions have no baseline. It just encourages you to seek more information from your inner self than what you currently have.

Why I know taking charge of your health is important

Almost two years ago, I had an unexpected illness with an unknown cause or trigger. After seeing numerous doctors in different countries I still received no hard answers.

The only way forward for me was hoping that my body would reset to my known equilibrium, however long it took.

And guess what? The waiting game worked – to a certain extent. I improved, but very slowly.

This slow improvement could be from a variety of reasons – perhaps my health issue was more challenging for my own body to resolve on its own? Or maybe I wasn’t tackling my health problem in the right way. I think the latter.

For this post, I don’t want to get into the specifics of my illness and recovery as everybody’s body is different and can react to the same things in a variety of ways. I, instead, want to focus on what you can do with your health going forward.

Who to listen to?

Doctors? The Mayor? Your mom? The quick answer to this question is, “Everyone and No One.”

During the early stages of my illness, I put high hopes in doctors finding what was wrong and fixing me. In hindsight, the assumption that doctors had all the answers was completely incorrect and possibly dangerous. Doctors are human after all. Who knew?

Knowing what I know now, I can count on two hands how many errors and bad judgment calls were made by these doctors – which isn’t to say it was their fault; instead, the healthcare system is not built to help doctors do their job to the best of their abilities. 

I even had some scary and highly unnecessary propositions made to me (I’ll clear the air – nothing dirty) all because the doctor had exhausted all resources available to him. I knew the doctor just wanted to help, but unfortunately, his help came in the entirely wrong form.

Due to my illness, my brain foggy, fatigued, unfocused and was not working at 100% capacity. Had my mind in my healthy state and on top form, I would have reverted to my studious University days and researched as much as possible. Let me tell you; I found out a lot through research – as you do. But that’s for another post.

A major takeaway from this experience is to always err on the side of skepticism, at least until you’ve researched and understood your medical situation.

The moment will come

One of my “aha” moments came from a podcast. I’m not saying that that was the solution, by any means. But what this guest reported on the podcast got me thinking in an entirely different direction.

I took this new information and my new way of thinking and discovered a plethora of information about my specific health issues – which opened up my eyes to my previously unknown medical condition.

In retrospect, it may have taken years to discover this information if I insisted on focusing on western medicinal prognosis and remedies and relying on western doctor’s knowledge.

My advice to you is: do the research and read in-depth into your own health issues. Work as hard as you can to become a master in the field of “you.” Each situation is so unique and specific; it’s entirely possible to become a master in knowing yourself and your own body. Nobody knows you better than YOU!

If you take nothing else away from this post – at least consider this: We need to listen to everyone (including ourselves) and stay informed by a variety of sources. Don’t just take someone’s word or advice as gospel – even if they do have a few extra letters behind their name.

Don’t settle for OK

After six months of very gradual improvements, I concluded that I would never feel at 100% physically again. Since I couldn’t be in prime physical condition anymore, I settled for second best and started looking at other areas of my life which could satisfy me -like my software programming.

We need to squash this second best mentality! You can always improve even if it’s only 1%, 1% is better than 0%, my friends. You never know, by this time next year you may progress by another 1%. If you keep searching for answers, you will find new avenues of obtaining them.

I found some fantastic correlations between my health and information that stemmed from a concept now labeled as functional medicine.

Functional medicine is looking at your medical, environmental, and biological past and matching them with your current symptoms. They explore the effects of these symptoms through lab testing, subjective feelings, and numerous other tests.

I’d never investigated my health history more than I did at this point. We discovered some fantastic findings and links to possible historical medical and environmental mistakes.

This functional medicine took the focus off my “symptom of the day” (which is what all the other doctors focused on) and looked more at the bigger “health picture.” We delved into underlying problems and attempted to solve these issues with the assumption that this would push my body into balance.

What’s the next step?

Simple. Keep on searching. While I feel better a majority of the time, this doesn’t mean I don’t have “off” days. My health will always be able to improve further, and this fact will not change for the rest of my life.

My health experience has only pushed me into researching my medical history, genetics, and environment. I am continually uncovering intriguing results that are actionable now in my life, which will only contribute to a better life for myself going forward.

Unfortunately, this type of health information is not in mainstream medicine yet. Some would say it is a little experimental, but scientific papers and study groups are the best and only source information on which we can rely.

Additionally, the data I have found in my genetics has further backed up my lab tests and symptoms I’ve had throughout the last four years of my life. Between my research and lab results, I now have ample evidence to act upon both now and in my future.

Again, I urge you to keep searching and backup your health theories with evidence. Verify your understanding of your health situation before you act upon it.

Rationalize and do not take anyone and everyone’s opinion and information as gospel. Don’t just take medication because a doctor handed you a prescription. Research the medicine and how it works and what effect it will have on your body.

Conclusion

I set out to write this blog post about the specific information and data I’d found on my health issues. But after the first sentence, I decided to write a very different blog post.

What’s the use in knowing my specific problems, when everyone has slightly different health situations and issues? I want you to take control of your health and look beyond what is right in front of you.

I hope I have encouraged you to research the issues that are relevant to your health. You may be completely healthy, and that is GREAT! Just make sure to investigate ways in which you can improve your life.

These improvements can come in various forms including, mental, physical, or emotional health. It doesn’t matter. Anything you can do to learn more about yourself and your health will benefit you in the long run.

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Is A Vegan Diet Good For Your Heath?

It’s never easy writing about different diets or ways of eating and whether they are good or bad for you. People choose foods for a variety of reasons including moral, personal, health or reactional reasons. You might come across a wide range of opinions on whether a vegan diet is right for your health or if animal-based diets are our evolutionary standard.

I should emphasize right off the bat that this post will not focus on the morals behind consuming (or not consuming) animal products. I can bring no more insight into the debate of this highly polarising topic than the information that is already out there.

In this post, I’m going to discuss the health benefits (and drawbacks) involved when examining vegan diets vs. animal-based diets — focusing on the health benefits both day-to-day and in the realm of diseases.

Disclaimer: I have been eating a predominantly vegan diet for close to 3 years, and although I am not strict, I think that most people consume too many animal-based products on a day-to-day basis. (Think bacon for breakfast, burgers for lunch, and steak for dinner)

vegan-diet-health

Is a Vegan diet Healthy?

Vegan diets have become all the rage nowadays. With more restaurants and grocery stores catering to vegans, you might think Vegans were taking over. But I can tell you, following a vegan diet can drastically optimize your health – but you need to eat plants, not just chips and gummy bears.

One indisputable fact is that plant-based foods are fantastic for our bodies. The doctor always said to eat your fruits and veggies – and for good reasons.

Is following a strictly vegan diet the best way to go for your body? That’s something everyone should find out. Specific diets may not be genetically compatible with your own body.

You may be wondering if cutting out meat and dairy is entirely optimal for your health – and I’ll touch on that further on in this post. Each body is different in what fuel (or food) it uses optimally. But for now, I want to focus on the reasons why it can be healthy for a general body.

The Positives of Vegan Diets

Because a vegan diet often tries to make up for the lack of animal products with nutrient-filled fruits and vegetables; people often can pull themselves out of certain nutrient deficiencies commonly found in western diets. Eating more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables and decreasing (or eliminating) meat or dairy products can potentially reduce inflammation.

Studies have shown that a vegan diet can also reduce blood pressure. Considering an estimated 1 billion people worldwide suffer from hypertension, a vegan diet may save a lot of lives and allow us all to have a healthy heart.

Inflammation is the root cause of many illnesses and diseases. Now, this ultimately depends on the person and body in question. Someone shifting from a strict paleo diet to a vegan diet will not see a drastic difference. However, individuals switching from a McDonalds/fast-food based diet to a vegan diet will be astounded by the outcome and also doing a whole world of good for their body.

Decrease in IGF1 – Effects on Cancer

A vegan diet lowers insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1) which is an essential function in your body. Mainly, by reducing IGF1, studies show you can increase your life span and curb the growth of cancerous cells [1]. And nobody wants those cancerous cells to grow.

Due to their mostly plant-based diets, having lower IGF1 is one theory on why the eastern world has a longer life span than the western world. There is a massive and detailed study of Eastern diets versus Western in The China Study. I highly recommend giving this book a read to understand the benefits and health effects from eating plants.

vegan-diet-health

The Negatives

Now that I’ve listed several positives let’s discuss the negatives of vegan diets (yes, there are some). You’ve probably heard the famous statement “You don’t get vitamin B12 from a vegan diet”. Maybe you’ve even heard vegan diets also tend to lack iron, calcium, and zinc, or whats your source of protein. While this can be true, it is highly dependent on the type of plant produce you consume.

Let me explain, as this can get a little more complicated than just assuming ‘vegan diets lack these vital nutrients.’

Personal Example (Low in B12)

As mentioned previously, I’m going on three years of eating a mostly vegan diet. Following this type of plant-based diet, I was entirely able to consume adequate amounts of most vitamins and minerals.

It may surprise you to find out that several plant sources contain B12. However, the type of B12 found in plants is not adequate for your body to metabolize. Seaweeds like Spirulina, Nori, Chlorella and a few others all contain B12. The problem is verifying if these vegan forms of B12 are bioavailable to our body. Studies show it is difficult to absorb B12 provided by Spirulina and often depends on the type of meal consumed with the product.

To counter our body’s inability to metabolize B12 found in plant-based diets properly, manufactured products fortified with B12 and supplements are becoming much more common. If supplementation of a vital nutrient because of lack of absorption is a worry, perhaps you should question whether this diet is right for you.

Blood results confirmed that I had high homocysteine levels, which is usually caused by a deficiency of B12 (even though I was consuming plant foods rich in B12). In a standard serum test, this did not hold to be true; instead, it showed adequate levels of B12 in my body.  To verify this information, I took an absorption test from Spectracell which specifically showed that I was not making use of the circulating B12 found in my bloodstream.

Further to this, I decided to explore my genetics, specifically nutrigenetics which focuses on how genetic variations affect nutrient absorption, use, and metabolism. From my nutrigenetic information, I found that I was susceptible to high homocysteine levels when B12 levels were low. Thus, in my situation, it was vital to keep adequate B12 levels.

To combat low levels of B12, I needed to raise my intake, particularly in the form of methylcobalamin to ensure that the B12 is directly available for absorption by my body with no conversion process. As a result of this supplementation, my homocysteine levels dropped to near normal range when tested three months later.

It is highly advisable for all vegans to take a higher dosage of methylcobalamin B12 as you secret excess B12 and, therefore, overdosing is not known to be possible.

Not All Vegan Diets Are Good

Lastly, it’s important to note that not all vegan diets are healthy.

Technically a plate of french fries and ketchup is vegan, but that does not mean it’s healthy, far from it. It’s important to eat a balanced diet of whole foods to achieve the best results possible. Bonus points: Vegan diets have tremendous environmental benefits. But I won’t get into that here.

vegan-diet-health

Is an Animal-Based Diet Healthy?

Unfortunately, this is not a cut and dry subject. It all comes down to the types of animal products you are consuming, your genetics and even your environmental makeup. Again, there are both positive and negative effects of eating an animal-based diet. Nothing is ever just straight-forward.

The Positives

Animal protein contains the nine essential amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Obtaining these amino acids on a vegan diet is still possible but will require careful planning. Whereas, on an animal-based diet, having a small portion of fish or some organ meat can meet your daily protein requirement in addition to a whole host of other nutritional benefits.

Getting a jammed-packed meat-based nutritious meal from one sitting can work well if you are a picky eater or not willing to stick to a well balanced vegan diet.

Now, you probably won’t like hearing this, but certain parts of the animal are more nutritious than others. Hint: it’s perhaps not the part you enjoy eating.

Which Animal Products to Choose

If you buy animal products from the grocery store; often you’d choose the muscle of the animal such as the tenderloins, filets, or breast. Unfortunately, these are all probably the least beneficial animal parts for you to eat.

Organ meats are an example of nutritionally rich and highly beneficial meat; they are good sources of iron and zinc along with B vitamins. Of course, like everything, the bad comes along with the good. Due to high cholesterol levels found in the liver, caution should be heeded when eating products like chicken liver since it is still unclear whether cholesterol is healthy or not.

“All in moderation” is always a good motto to follow with any foods, chicken liver included. Want to eat animal parts like a pro and reap all the nutritional benefits? All you need to do is to eat the animal from head to toe. But not all in one sitting, please.

When I say head to toe, this can include making broths from the tough to break down parts like chicken feet and large cow bones, don’t just eat meat. Even eating the organs of animals, like hearts, are nutritious. It may sound gross, but I promise, your body will love you for this.

vegan-diet-health-food

The Negatives

It’s no surprise that in today’s western world animal products are consumed far too much. I mentioned this previously, and it doesn’t hurt to say it again, but The China Study concluded that the more plants you eat, the healthier you will be, overall. It discussed the scientific evidence that high meat consumption and the poor quality of meat products westerners often eat can have adverse effects on our bodies and our health.

When I say poor quality, I mean highly processed, factory raised, hormone injected, and fatty meats. For example, the World Health Organization has recognized processed meats as a carcinogen [2]. Again this may be a concern if you are in the at-risk category of for cancer.

Increase in IGF1 – Effects on Cancer

Just as the vegan diet lowers IGF1, it’s also evident that eating many animal products raises IGF1. Raised IGF1 levels have a high correlation with the increased risk of cancer and other fatal diseases [3]. As we’ve already learned through this post, there is always more to the story, both positive and negative.

It’s important to note that increased IGF1 does not cause cancer, but it will encourage the cancerous cells to grow. Cancerous encouragement can quickly happen if you are 1) in a state where cancer growth is prone to increase or 2) you have an abundance of malignant cells which are not being purged by autophagy, also known as “self-eating”. Soon you’ll find a post all about autophagy – so keep checking back!

Conclusion

From this post, I hope you understand that no one size (or diet) fits all. As a general trend, most people in the west can – and should – cut down on the number of animal products they consume. Decreased animal consumption will optimize your health and aid in having a more environmentally friendly life.

Dependent on your body and nutrigenetics, a percentage of the population may easily be able to eliminate animal products out of their diet with little to no consequence.  Conversely, it may be essential for others to keep nutritional animal body parts in their diets (including organ meats and broth). This conclusion stipulates that they consume, only, what their body requires and never in excess.

An important consideration is discerning if there is an illness or disease present. If so, would a plant-based vegan diet be the most beneficial for optimal health? Or is eating nutrient-dense meat products a necessity? Once you’ve uncovered what your body needs, there is so much, you can do to improve your health through educated food choices.

There is so much more I would love to cover relating to this topic including – dairy’s effect on the human body, the environmental cost of animal farming and the ethical reasons related to animal farming – but all in good time! Look out in the future for posts around these topics.

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How To Heal Your Gut with Fasting


Fasting is known to be incredibly beneficial to our health. Not only is fasting becoming popular in the medical world and trending in the more mainstream areas, but it is proven to have benefits ranging from weight loss to helping cure cancer. Did you also know that fasting can also be extremely beneficial in healing the gut? Given my health issues, fasting has proven to be an incredible tool I’ve used to achieve substantial results in my illness journey. I want to tell you everything I know about how to heal your gut by fasting through my own experience. 

First Off, Why Fast?

Fasting has been around for centuries (or even millennia) and is a practiced ritual in communities across the globe, especially religious fasting periods. Unfortunately, in some regions of the world, fasting is an undesired circumstance of life that often leads to starvation and malnutrition.

As a western society, we now have access to a wide variety of food (and plenty of it) resulting in fewer circumstances of hunger deprivation (or fasting periods). Conversely, in the distant past, we would have gone through periods of involuntary fasting when food was otherwise unavailable. To our detriment, however, medical research is uncovering that the overabundance of food availability may be doing us unrealized harm.

Our society needs a dietary reset to combat this harm – or perhaps a reversion to the past by implementing fasting into our daily, monthly, or even yearly routines. Why? Because fasting is proven to have substantial benefits including, but not limited to:

  • Reducing Insulin Resistance [1]
  • Reduces Inflammation [2]
  • Reduces Blood Pressure and Cardiac Issues [3]
  • Weight Loss [4]
  • Increased Growth Hormone [5]
  • Help you Live Longer [6]
  • Prevent Cancer and Aide in Cancer treatment [7]
  • Helps Repair your Gut [8]
  • Promotes Autophagy (Damaged Cell death) [9]

While researching the benefits of fasting, I came across how fasting has shown to heal the gut. Given the close relationship with the gut and autoimmune diseases (and my gut issues), I deduced that a fasting trial would be highly beneficial. Research has shown that fasting can repair the gut, which in turn, limits the permeability of the intestine, ultimately lessening the side effects of autoimmune diseases. While I am discussing the benefits of relieving autoimmune side effects, even people without autoimmune issues would benefit to fasting now and then. Everyday foods we eat can negatively affect our guts. Therefore, fasting can be beneficial for even the healthiest of people.

Why did I include Bone Broth in my fast?

The main point of fasting is to eat little to no food throughout a set period. However, having a bit of food during the fast will have an adverse effect. However, you need to be careful about what type of food you have. The goal of adding bone broth to my fast was to provide the building blocks required to create new cells and fully maximize the healing process.

Bone broth is said to have numerous benefits on the body, in particular, the gut. It also holds many vital nutrients that the body requires to repair itself. Bone broth contains a nutrient named collagen, which is crucial for healing the gut, joints, and skin. Collagen, along with other amino acids like proline, glycine, and gelatin all have beneficial effects – and these are all found in bone broth. Electrolytes present in the broth will help prevent dehydration issues. Additionally, adding broth to your fast will help to suppress significant hunger pangs caused by the hunger hormone ghrelin and ultimately, normalizing your appetite (as much as possible while in fasting mode).

Additional Supplements

During my fasting period, I stopped all other supplementation to fully reset my body – everything except glutamine, which I added specifically for the fast. Glutamine is another amino acid that is produced in muscles, and usually in adequate amounts, but some cases, in high times of stress or with chronic illnesses the amount provided is lacking, and extra supplementation is required.

Glutamine is responsible for the maintenance of the gut lining and the permeability of the gut itself, which lines up perfectly for the goals of the fast. There are no known side effects from supplementing with glutamine, so I’m confident that it would not harm. Another reason to supplement with glutamine for my self is to ensure I minimize muscle wastage. I do not hold much weight currently, and my fat deposits are relatively low. Therefore it was important that I retain the muscular mass that I do carry.

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Products I Chose for My Fast

While there are many choices for bone broths on the market, I went with Vital Proteins Bone Broth*. I also chose this powdered broth since there were no additional additives, it was non-GMO, and USDA certified organic. Many similar broth products did not live up to these standards, which I consider essential and worth the investment. Watch out for the brands hiding gums, stabilizers, and sweeteners in powdered formulas.

L-glutamine, on the other hand, is not hard to come by. My only stipulation in my purchase was to buy a powdered version since I saw no reason to introduce capsules and it would make for more flexible portion sizes. I chose Nutricost* from Amazon because it’s manufactured in the USA. There are plenty of other acceptable options on the market.

 

Personal Fasting Experience

I spaced out five cups (400ml  each) of bone broth throughout the day. Rather than focusing on exact timing, I correlated the broth with more hunger pangs. In addition to the broth, I took precisely 30g of l-glutamine. 30g is much higher than the dosages stated on most packaging, but studies have shown that this higher dosage has beneficial effects on the intestine [10].  To ensure that my body did not react to l-glutamine, I built up to this amount in the days preceding.

Day 1

I started fasting on a Monday to ensure my activities levels would be lower than usual. While I felt pretty hungry throughout the day, I was able to complete regular work tasks without any issues. I would say opting broth for real food felt slightly unnatural but nothing too concerning in the short term.

Day 2

Day 2 is when the mental game came in to play for me. I woke up feeling lethargic and sluggish, my ability to think substantially diminished. Thoughts of food regularly popped into my head and became increasingly hard to ignore. All these symptoms are prevalent on the second day as you’re body has exhausted the carbohydrate reserves of the body. The only energy source left is the minimal amount of calories from the bone broth and your fat stores. This transition to fat burning is known as ketosis and can often produce symptoms I described along with flu-like symptoms. While I would not claim to have suffered to this extent – it is important to note that fasting is difficult to sustain. When you reach this mental block leading up to ketosis, it is pertinent to push past it if you can.

Conclusion

While hard, I was able to complete the fast and make it to the third day (eating day). I was not very productive during the fast. But I am happy to sacrifice two days out of a month to attempt to reset my gut. In the weeks following the fast, I did see some subjective improvements in my autoimmune-like symptoms. Additionally, I felt that my gut stability improved significantly – but bear in mind, these results are all subjective. With the plethora of evidence behind fasting and my own experience, I am confident that the fast was a success for me.

I have been diligently recording my body measurements every week and keeping a detailed spreadsheet to best track my fluctuations. My body fat percentage was down slightly the week following the fast but bounced straight back up the next week. I have a low body fat percentage of 4-5%, so I believe that only someone that is drastically underweight should practice caution.

In my opinion, this particular two-day fast would be entirely doable for the average person to follow while also providing significant benefits given the small amount of fasting time required. With a focus on healing the gut, fasting can be a crucial (but highly advantageous) practice for anyone – especially those with an autoimmune issue.

Next

My next goal is to take fasting to the next level and attempt the fasting-mimicking diet which has posted some fascinating results, so I am interested to see how my body responds. Look out for a future post. Like this post? Pin it!

Are Supplements Working For You?

A whopping 75% of the US population used dietary supplementation in 2018. That’s a significant rise from 2017. Have you ever wondered, why are people buying and taking supplements? And are the supplements they purchase worth it/working for them?

Four reasons people use supplements

  1. The food we eat is not adequate to sustain us anymore.
  2. Supplements are replacing medication.
  3. Increasing health information indicates what our bodies need to thrive and survive.
  4. Supplement manufacturers, stakeholders, and advertisers are taking advantage of the American health crisis and pushing products on the population.

While all of these statements are true to a certain extent, you need to understand the reasons why the average person buys and takes supplements.

What supplements do we use?

By far the most common supplement in the US is vitamins and minerals at 98% of users. Of this 98%, 75% were using a multivitamins [1]. This information is highly indicative of respondents using supplementation to counteract a deficiency in their diet or lifestyle.

Or perhaps, supplement advertisement is working, and people are taking supplements because the marketing gurus have told them to. What we don’t know is the percentage of people that use supplementation to treat serious illnesses. 

Vitamin D

38% of the respondents took a Vitamin D supplement every day.

We can correlate the taking of this vitamin with the alarming fact that 41.6% of the US population is Vitamin D deficient [1]. Why do we see such a high percentage of Vitamin D deficiency?

A substantial part of the population is spending the majority of their time indoors which decreases their vitamin D absorption from the sun.

We can conclude from these factors, that there is an apparent correlation between health factors found in today’s society in comparison to the supplementation usage of the equivalent vitamin.

Supplemental Percentage Breakdown

Multivitamin (75%)Magnesium (20%)
Vitamin D (38%)Omega-3 fatty acids (20%)
Vitamin C (30%)Probiotics (17%)
Calcium (26%)Green tea (16%)
Vitamin B/B complex (26%)Fiber (14%)
Protein (22%)Vitamin E (15%)
Turmeric (14%) 

The breakdown of the supplemented vitamins and minerals taken by respondents who are using supplementation. [1]

Should you be taking supplements?

With the health trends as they are, I am sure the majority of us have or are still are taking supplements to balance out our body’s needs. Or maybe you are reading this to figure out if you should or not. To get a feel of where you stand in the necessity of supplements, read and answer these questions:

  • Are you currently taking supplements?
  • Why are you taking those supplements?
  • Have you proven that you are in need of these supplements?
  • If so, could you obtain this supplement from a food source instead?

These are all critical questions to consider when deciding if to take a supplement or not. A key takeaway from these questions is: always ensure that you have the proof that indicates your need for supplementation.
Besides the obvious fact of wasting your money on supplements you may not need, you could be damaging your health with unknowing overdosages.

Also, these questions may confirm that you are not just a victim of advertising or the current health trends. Do your research and ensure you are confident with your answers to these questions. Again, if ever in doubt, consult with a professional.

How do you know which supplements you need?

If you want definitive proof that you require a specific supplement – test your vitamin and mineral levels with blood labs. They are simple to request from your doctor and contain useful information for your overall health.

My recommendation is to obtain the first labs before starting with the desired supplement. Once you’ve done your first set of labs, start the supplement for a fixed period (3-6 months). At the end of this period, have a second set of labs done.

These two lab sets will give you substantial information to evaluate if the supplements have been beneficial to your vitamin and mineral levels.

Example

For example, my genetics (which I had tested through 23andMe) indicate that I have a predisposition of having high homocysteine levels and low B12 levels directly correlate with high levels of homocysteine.

Through blood tests measuring my vitamin and mineral levels, I was able to prove this as true.

To counteract the damage caused by high homocysteine levels, I immediately started taking methylcobalamin form of B12. After retesting my levels through blood labs (after six months of supplemental B12) I have tests that show lowered homocysteine levels in correlation with my B12 supplementation.

Through supplementation, I can replace medication and have potentially prevented possible future health issues such as hardening of the arteries and blood clots [5]

If you’re ever in doubt about a supplement, a great resource I use is the National Institutes of Health. This site will give you valuable health information on various supplements currently found on the market.

Are you taking the right dosage?

Not all vitamins and minerals are safe to take in high dosages. Unfortunately, supplement advertisement does not adequately convey the seriousness of dosing issues.

For example, you may find dosage recommendations or warnings on an iron supplement bottle. However, you will not see this same dosage warning on a multi-vitamin bottle which contains iron. Therefore, taking a multi-vitamin containing iron in addition to an iron tablet can create a potentially dangerous health issue. (Overdosing on iron can be very dangerous, if not lethal)

Did you know there are risks also present for vitamin D supplements? Having high levels of vitamin D can have serious side effects leading to calcification of arteries [3].

So, why are these supplements on the market without any dosage recommendations or warnings if they can cause serious health risks to us? According to the FDA, it “deems any dietary supplement safe until proven otherwise” [4]. The exact opposite of how the FDA approves medication and drugs.

Hopefully, FDA regulation policies will improve in the future, but in the meantime, it is always worth researching any dosage or health risks involved with the supplements you are taking. When in doubt, consult a professional.

Pseudo Supplements

I consider pseudo supplements as any supplement which can be classed as a convenience product and do not fall into the short term risks category.

These supplements can include bone broth powder*, powdered greens*, bovine colostrum* – all three of which I currently use. While I do not deem these supplements to be harmful, but they are indeed not necessary to buy.

Replace supplements with something real?

In reality, I could make my bone broth, blend my locally sourced greens and find a fresh source of colostrum. However, I pay a premium for convenience and a stable form of supplement that includes a long life span.

I could argue that it would be better to ingest natural forms of these supplements – but based on my research, I’m reasonably confident that I’m receiving a quality product.

Note, protein powders fall into pseudo supplements also. Protein powders are not necessary for most peoples diets. And even if they are, protein is easily obtainable in its natural form. However, like my bone broth, greens, and colostrum, powdered forms of supplements offer a convenience that some people would deem a priority for their lifestyle.

My one suggestion to you is to ensure that you do your research beforehand and fully understand the source of the products you buy. Countless brands try to sell unacceptable versions of unnecessary supplements to earn a profit.

Conclusion

I hope this post has provided you with examples of how supplementation can work both for and against your health. Don’t just take a supplement to take a supplement – but rather, fully understand and back up why you should be taking supplements.

If possible, obtain quality results or information (blood labs) for your supplemental needs. If blood labs are not an option, gather quality information from an independent source indicating that it’s safe and beneficial for your health situation.

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