To Supplement or Not to Supplement – That is the Question…

“Let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food.” (Hippocrates) “If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” (unknown). “Food can hurt and food can heal.” (Me!) “Real food creates real health” (Me again!). These are some of the quotes and statements that inspire me each day to live the way I do, think the way I think, and work the way I work. The rare person can go through life eating whatever they want, whenever they want, have plenty of energy and vitality and claim to be healthy. When I meet someone who fits this description I am truly amazed, but I also know that the ancestors of this individual must have laid down a great health foundation for him or her to live off of. The scenario is similar to that of an heir to a financial dynasty who is now blowing through the savings before the next generation can enjoy a share in it. In order to keep the riches for those to come, investments need to be made, and spending should be done cautiously. The same goes with one’s health. Invest in eating real food and take good supplements and you will spare the health of your as-yet to be born offspring. What happens, though, when good food sources are scarce or when one has spent their youth using up one’s health reserve? Is it possible to rebuild the foundation for yourself and for your descendants? And is eating whole foods enough to accomplish this task? To supplement or not to supplement? This, my friend, is the question.

I supplement. I like to take supplements. Supplements are my friends. A recent study published by the Natural Products Foundation indicates that Americans spend about $20 billion on supplements each year. Yikes! That’s a heck of a lot of money. Is it helping? It is for the small percentage of us who know what to look for in a supplement. For the rest, it can actually create new issues in the body. You see, most vitamins on the market are synthetic and fractionated. What does this mean? Scientists in the pharmaceutical industry have some “funny” habits. First they determine that a specific food is good for some aspect of achieving health. For example, citrus fruits are anti-scurvy and enhance the immune system. This discovery isn’t really good enough for these scientist types though. They’ve got to know exactly what part of said food is doing all the heavy lifting or pushing the magic buttons in the body. Then, since there isn’t much money in recommending the addition of oranges to the diet, they have a deep-seated need to chemically reproduce some part of the orange. So, they do a study. From the study they decide that ascorbic acid (a component of the vitamin C complex) is what we as humans need to fulfill our vitamin C requirements. However, “…..to say that ascorbic acid is vitamin C is like looking at a wheel and saying that it is an automobile, while it is just a small part of an automobile.” (John Courtney) A true vitamin C supplement will include bioflavinoids, rutin, vitamin K, vitamin J (bet you never heard of that one!) and enzymes. In other words, you need the whole car in order to get anywhere!

I bet, right about now, you are saying to yourself (or out loud to your computer screen), “Christina! You just proved that I only need to eat whole foods! No supplements!” You do need to eat whole foods. Absolutely. 90-95% of the time, every bite of food should have some meaning to it and have a positive effect on the body. However, when you have chronic aches and pains, digestive issues, fatigue, hormonal problems, skin problems, headaches, etc… you could work on healing yourself only with food but, it’s going to take A LOT longer to accomplish than if you supplement with concentrated whole-food supplements. And even then you will probably only break even. You still need to build up your reserves.

Whole-food supplements are whole foods with only the water and fiber removed. They are processed below 112 degrees F so the natural enzymes are still active, and whole-food supplements have a limited shelf life. They contain all of the nutrients required by our body to meet the needs of our cells and in some cases may even help nourish and restore the function of organs and glands that are tired and worn out.

Most vitamins sold at the drugstore, Costco, and even places like Whole Foods are synthetic vitamins and they do not come from food. For example, ascorbic acid typically comes from corn sugar to make vitamin C. Thiamine comes from petroleum or coal tar products to make vitamin B…. Do you see where we are going here? Not only are these vitamins not usable by the body, but the required co-factors are taken from your own body’s reserves in an attempt to use them and now you become nutritionally deficient. There is no long-term benefit here for your body or your wallet. Taking synthetic, fractionated supplements is like flushing your health and your money down the toilet.

And while we are on the subject, working with a qualified nutritionist is a good way to determine which supplements your body truly needs. Many of us are in the habit of reading health-related articles in the newspaper, a magazine, or on-line and decide that we need whatever supplement happens to be the darling of the media and which promises to keep us young forever. When you are eating whole foods and taking whole-food supplements you are getting all the “media darlings” and more so, you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are missing something. And when things are not quite right in the body, a qualified holistic nutritionist can help you find the root of the problem and help you to bring your body back into balance.

To supplement or not to supplement? Have I answered the question?

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“America Runs on Dunkin'”

I have been thinking about this post for some time now. And I have been reminded that I’ve wanted to write it every single day as I am listening to the radio and going through my morning routine. It never fails, it always comes on – The Ad. I despise it. Don’t get me wrong now, I like coffee (you’ll never catch me consuming a donut though). I love the aroma of coffee and I enjoy the flavor of a good cup of coffee – once in awhile. What I don’t like are all the messages that those 4 words  imply – “America runs on Dunkin’….” You know what? From what I see out there, they are pretty much on target with that slogan. America is running on caffeine and it makes me sad. Everywhere I go, no matter where I am, it seems that I am the only one not holding a coffee of some sort – hot coffee, iced coffee, latte, etc… In my small town (1 square mile) there are 2 Dunkin Donuts and several more coffee shops. Leaving my town, you will very soon come to 2 more Dunkin’ Donuts and from there, it’s just a matter of minutes before you find another one. And once again, I am only pointing out one chain here. There are other places to purchase coffee all along the way. In the city, there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner and there usually is a Dunkin’ Donuts across the street from every Starbucks. At one point, I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be surprised if one day, Dunkin’ Donuts was running the country if not the whole wide world… However, what I want to blog about today is everything that the DD slogan implies to me:

1. American’s Needs Their Caffeine

When a new client comes to me and tells me that they drink coffee, I say, “coffee is cool”. It’s natural, right? I am all about properly prepared whole foods… Unfortunately, coffee is the most chemically sprayed crop in the world therefore, I do recommend Fair Trade Organically Grown Coffee. Coffee becomes a problem (as any drug would) when one NEEDS it –  when one can not wake up in the morning without it or get through the day without some more. This is a very clear sign of adrenal fatigue. By not paying attention to these signs and not giving the adrenal glands the support they need, one is putting their health at great risk. One may assume significant weight gain and the potential of literally “burning out”.

2. America Does Not Start the Day w/ Food

There is no food for sale at DD (or at most every fast food restaurants). There are items being sold that one chews and swallows however, there is nothing there that can be considered a whole food that is nourishing to the human species. (Don’t tell me that they have eggs! The eggs come from a factory farm where the chickens are being fed soy and they are sitting in their own doo-doo all day! Those eggs are not real eggs anymore.) Donuts are one of the worst items in the whole world that can be consumed (along w/ potato chips and french fries) especially, first thing in the morning. What it does to your sugar levels, the pancreas, the digestive tract, the bad bad fat that is involved – it’s all wrong! There is absolutely no bright side to a donut yet many many people start each and every day with a donut and a cup of coffee. I recently learned that even one cup of coffee a day can reduce your ability to lose weight. When caffeine is consumed, it tells the liver to increase blood sugar and to turn off the fat burning mode. Oh no!!! And so many people are having their morning coffee with some sort of nasty carb. The blood sugar goes up and up then soon after it comes crashing down and everyone is hungry again! Why do we do this to ourselves?

3. 3:00 p.m.

It’s 3:00 and yes, America is still running on…….. caffeine (I will stop picking on DD and coffee). You see, because the adrenal glands are so very weak, one can not function anymore come 2 or 3:00 p.m..And because most working people can not take the nap that they so desperately need by this time they run out of the office for a coffee, a diet pepsi or coke or perhaps some chocolate. It’s a sad state of affairs, people, and we must educate ourselves and each other and help make for a healthier society! (I’m serious but, I am also kind of laughing right now. I’m on a roll people!) Remember, what I wrote about Pottenger’s Cats? Our country is not only collectively ill but, we are also at a time when the species is having difficulty reproducing itself. Caffeine and the damage it does to the endocrine system is one of the reasons why.

Adrenal Health

Ultimately, this post is really about adrenal health. I recently attended a seminar given by a nutritionist whose practice is in a small town in upstate NY. She noted that she goes through over 60 bottles of the Standard Process product Drenamin per week, on account of so many of her clients needing it! (Drenamin is a wonderful formulation that helps to nourish the adrenal glands and bring the endocrine system back into balance). Even in a small town in upstate NY, America is running on empty! So, what else can we do to bring our adrenals back to life and live off of our own energy? We can first cut out all the white flour and white sugar. We can reduce our consumption of breads and grains. We can increase our consumption of raw nuts and seeds, grass fed meats, and good fats. And we all need to eat more veggies. Use only Real Salt or Celtic sea salt. If you suspect that you are suffering from adrenal fatigue, I encourage you to work with a nutritionist who will be able to put you on a protocol uniquely designed for you. Last but certainly not least, we can collectively switch to green tea.

Now, when you hear the ad that I so despise – you will think of me…….

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The Blessings of Soup

It is March. It’s cold, it’s windy, and it’s pretty darn grey outside. At least it is here, in the northeast. At this time of year and really all winter, I am grateful for my high vitamin cod liver oil. The vitamin D content in this product turns this yucky liquid into “sunshine in a bottle” and really charges my battery. (Perhaps I will blog on that at a later date..) However, I am also truly grateful for my daily bowl of soup. I have been eating soup just about every day now for a couple of months. I make the stock according to the recipe in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. It seems like I end up making chicken stock once every 10 days or so. Once it is finished brewing, I bottle it up in mason jars and store it in the fridge. When I am not so “soup crazed” then I store it in the freezer. Right now though, I am most definitely soup crazed and we go through stock very quickly.

Stock, whether beef or chicken needs to be made with bones in order to get real benefit from your soup. Please do not buy broth in a can or box. There is very little value to those products and it is so easy and so much more nutritious to make your own. It is also very economical. Before making your stock, purchase a free range organic chicken and roast it for dinner. If you don’t use all the meat from your chicken, remove the rest from the carcass and save for other meals (add to soup, chicken salad, etc..). Now use the carcass and the giblets along with carrots, celery, onion, etc… to make your stock! You just got 3 uses out of that 1 chicken that most likely was kind of pricey. If you use a whole chicken to make your stock then, once it is done simmering, remove all the meat from the carcass and save it to be used in a casserole or in enchiladas (my favorite!).

Properly prepared stocks are extremely nutritious, containing the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables. Raw apple cider vinegar added during cooking helps to draw out the minerals, especially calcium, magnesium and potassium. Another important component of homemade stock is gelatin. Gelatin acts as a digestive aid and in many cultures, soups and stocks have been consumed right before each meal in order to aid digestion. It has also been used in the treatment of many intestinal disorders, including GERD, colitis and Crohn’s  disease. It is known to feed, repair, and calm the lining of the small intestine. The use of gelatin-rich broth on a daily or frequent basis, provides continuous protection from many health problems. It’s no wonder it is often referred to as “Jewish penicillin”.  You must keep in mind though that it is only effective if the stock is made with the bones! The same magic does not occur with broth made only from the meat.

When I make myself a bowl of soup, I think about both the nutritive value of the ingredients that I add and the taste and texture of the finished product. A good bowl of soup can be quite a party for the mouth as well as a satisfying meal. No bread on the side is needed to complete the meal when the soup is made right. My daily soup routine began while I was doing the Standard Process Purification Program. At the time, it was important to get lots of good foods into me, feel satisfied, and not be hungry again for awhile.  This is the soup (minus the cheese) that I came up with while doing the cleanse and have continued to consume daily since it ended:

Serves 1

Into a 1 qt. saucepan:

fill about 2/3 full with homemade chicken stock

Add some real salt to your liking. (Real Salt or Celtic Sea Salt – these products are full of minerals unlike white, iodized salt)

Add some pepper to your liking (I like a lot of heat!).

Add some leftover brown or wild rice – (whole grains – B vitamins, manganese, selenium, magnesium).

Some zucchini (good for the adrenal glands)

Some cauliflower (anti-cancer, good for the liver)

Add some leftover chicken (protein).

Gently heat.

Into your soup bowl (make sure it is a big one!):

Add some shredded red cabbage  (anti-cancer and many important nutrients)

Have the following garnishes ready:

The juice of 1 lime

Some chopped up cilantro – the more the better (cilantro is known to help remove heavy metals from your body )

A chopped up scallion/green onion

Some ripe avocado (good fat!)

Some grated raw cheese (I like cheddar)

Pour the hot soup over the cabbage and let sit for a few minutes. This will cook the cabbage just enough but, still give you some crunch. Then top with all of your garnishes. Fill free to play with this recipe. Be creative and report back to me your findings! Now I am hungry…… Good soup is one of the many blessings in my life and I hope it becomes one of yours.

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Pilgrims on a Path to Health or Pottenger’s Cats?

In my last post, I quoted Dr. Thomas Cowan, MD as having written that we as humans should be considered “…pilgrims on a path to health.” I have been thinking a lot about that statement in the past few days. How many people living in western cultures are actually on a pilgrimage to health and how many just accept the fact that they are victims or have bad genes and suffer through?

During last weeks lecture Dr. Cowan spoke of the Pottenger Cat study. I first learned of this study many many years ago and at the time, it really made my head spin. Learning of this study was the main catalyst that set me on the path that I am on now.

Dr. Pottenger was a pathologist who, I believe, was working out of the University of Southern California. He was aware of the important observations Dr. Weston A. Price was making of societies that had yet to be “touched” by denatured and processed foods. Dr. Pottenger wondered if he could recreate Dr. Prices’ findings with cats. The outcome of this 10 year study is truly astounding and I can’t help but wonder why more scientists and doctors do not see the value in this man’s work.

Dr. Pottenger first determined that the ideal diet for a cat would be raw cows milk, raw meat, and a teaspoon of cod liver oil every day. And indeed, this diet kept the cats, generation after generation, strong and healthy with shiny coats and beautiful teeth. They were playful and good natured until the day they died. Autopsies done on these cats showed no signs of disease.

Next, Dr. Pottenger started to mess around with the cats’ diet. First cooking the meat, then cooking (pasteurizing) the milk, then omitting the cod liver oil. And this is what happened:

  • The first generation of kittens born to the cats with the altered diet suffered from dental diseases, bone deformities, and a tendency toward infection.
  • The second generation of these cats suffered from endocrine problems and autoimmune diseases.
  • The third generation suffered from cancer, heart disease, osteoarthritis, and degenerative diseases that are prevalent today.
  • The fourth generation of cats were aggressive and anti-social and exhibited personality changes. They also were showing signs of infertility

At this point, you can probably see why this study turned my world upside down. It was my, ” AH HA!” moment. All that I saw health wise, going on around us, made perfect sense. I have always said, “Don’t fool with mother nature, or else she will fool with you!”

Dr. Cowan also pointed to two interesting studies. The first done by the World Health Organization that claims that by 2020  40% of the population will have a diagnosable mental health problem. He also noted recent studies that show that today, 25% of American couples have some sort of issue with fertility (Infertility is a booming business these days!)

I know that we are not cats and I am not recommending a raw food diet for humans but, only real food will create real health. There are no ifs, ands, or buts….

How much real food do you consume in a day? If you are picking up packages and reading labels to find out then I think that you are probably not eating too much unprocessed, real food. I have been on a pilgrimage to health for most of my life. At times, it has been a struggle. I figure that I came into this world at the equivalent of the 2nd or 3rd generation of Pottenger’s Cats. Dr. Pottenger also wanted to see if he could reverse the trend for these kitties and started to feed these sick cats their proper diet once again. I believe that it took twice as long (!!!) to reverse the damage done by the denatured food. Twice as long!!!! Dr. Cowan pointed out that the path most people are on is a “very systematic deterioration leading to the species unable to reproduce itself.”

Now, I ask you, are you a pilgrim on a path to health or are you content hanging out with “Pottenger’s cats”?

 

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Choices

My first official post is going to be about choice. After all, “choice” is the theme of my website and blog. It seems like an appropriate place to start.

Every morning when we wake up, there are many choices to be made. Will I get up with the alarm or stay in bed for awhile? Will I exercise this morning, wait until later, or just forget about it for today? Will I make myself a nutritious breakfast or grab something at the coffee shop? Will I spend a little more money on groceries this week for real food that will nourish me and my family or spend less money on “food impostors” that do little more than fill one’s belly and tantalize the taste buds? Am I willing to make small sacrifices throughout the day that will ultimately lead me to live a healthier life.

At times, when I think about it too much, the choices seem overwhelming. I always want to do the right thing but, sometimes it is just not possible or practical. I want to set a good example for my children, my friends, and my clients but in reality there is just too much to think about. Too many right things to do! I discovered long ago that ignorance can be bliss but I also have learned that being ignorant can lead to an unhealthy mind, body, soul, and planet. I choose the little bit of stress that knowledge brings about. Stress can be good sometimes and once new practices become routine the stress goes away! Funny how that happens. It’s also important for me to pick and choose what is priority.

As many of you know. I read many great blogs. Almost all of them are inspired by the Weston A. Price Foudation and the diet that is recommended. I just don’t know how these amazing people have the time to prepare all the wonderful foods that they blog about. I am envious for sure! I tend to keep the menu around here quite simple for many reasons. I may not be able to the make time for everything that I would like to do but, I do understand the value of a properly prepared sauerkraut and since it is not a priority for me to “take care of a fermenting jar of cabbage”, I will pay a premium price for one. Real sauerkraut is very good for the gut AND I like the idea that I am supporting a local small business. (More about sauerkraut in a future post)

I am currently taking a class being given by Dr. Thomas  S. Cowan MD. The class is based on his book The Fourfold Path to Healing. It’s a great book and I highly recommend it. Over the next few weeks, you can be sure that I will be sharing some of what I learn. Today, I include two quotes from the first two chapters:

“Primitive man spent much of his effort engaging in hunting, foraging and food preparation; modern man eats on the run and devotes almost no time or thought to his food. The very first lesson to be learned about feeding the physical body is that food preparation can not be left to others, especially not to large corporations whose motive is profit, not quality. The challenge to modern men and women involves melding a certain amount of time for food preparation and meals into a busy life-style along with a recognition that the way we cook and eat has a profound effect on the quality of our life, our state of health and the nourishment of the mind and soul.”

“We have lost faith in this amazing organism, the human being, to overcome its own illnesses, and we have forgotten that true healing involves education and change. In the process, the joy has gone out of the practice of medicine, and patients have been relegatd to the status of mere victims, rather than pilgrims on the path to health.”

Every choice we make from the moment we wake up in the morning to when we meet our pillows again at night, has an effect on either our mental, physical, or spiritual health. When any one of these is not in balance with the others, illness may set in. What choices will you make today?

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My New Blog!!!!

Hello to Everyone – especially those who follow my Facebook Page. Welcome to my new blog, which will soon be linked to my website (www.ChristinasHealthyChoices.com)! I am excited (and a bit nervous) to be starting this new journey. I am hoping that I have enough to say to sustain  a blog and I am also hoping that with the blog, I will be able to write a bit more extensively and also share and store some of my favorite recipes. I will also branch out a bit regarding the topics I generally cover. Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and family and if they enjoy it and find it to be of value, encourage them to subscribe. Feel free to comment and let me know some of the health related/food related topics that you are curious about. I would love to hear from you!

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