Sourdough Waffles and Pancakes

These waffles are a BIG hit with my kids! I like to keep one fresh batch in the fridge and one spare batch in the freezer. In either case, I just pull one out, pop it in the toaster, and we’re in business! Then I like to slather it with a generous amount of butter, cut it into bite size pieces, top with some fresh maple syrup (or organic syrup when the budget is tight), and WALLA –breakfast is served! (*Note: Sometimes my kids suddenly turn on me and stop liking what they used to like. When that happens with this, I switch to my Sort of Sourdough Pancake recipe or my Whole Wheat Pancake recipe.)

Ingredients

  • 1 c. Sourdough Starter
  • 2. c. Milk (Raw is best.)
  • 4 c. Flour (Freshly ground for optimal nutrition so that the phytase that will break down phytic acidI get my wheat berries here, but you can find some similar here too.)
  • 2 Eggs (Preferably pastured)
  • 6 T. (¾ stick) Melted Butter (You can add room temperature butter and it should mix alright though.)
  • 2 T. Raw Honey  (You could add ¼ c. brown sugar, or just skip this ingredient – it just helps to counteract the flavor if you’re not used to sour. It’s best to buy local raw honey, but you can buy it here too.)
  • 1 t. Real Salt (I buy my Real Salt in bulk here, you can buy a shaker here, or a refill pouch here.)
  • 1 t. Baking Soda  (or Aluminum Free Baking Powder)
  • 2 T. Cinnamon (Buy some here.)
  • 2 T. Vanilla Extract (This vanilla would be best, but on our budget, I buy this.)
  • 2 T. Coconut Oil (This coconut oil would be best, but on our budget, I buy this.)

IMG_2795Directions

Part 1: The Sponge (Mix and Let Sit Overnight…or for 8 Hours)

  1. Dissolve the sourdough starter into the milk.
  2. Mix in the flour.
  3. Cover and let sit overnight or for 8 hours. (I like to do all of my food prep in the morning, so I make my overnight batter in the morning, then put it in the fridge during the day, and finally put it out on the counter before I go to bed so it’s ready the next morning.)
  4. Note: Now, if you’re like me and you unintentionally leave it out for way more than 8 hours, YOU might still like it, but your picky eaters may not. So watch the time.

Part 2: The Final Batter (The Next Morning…or 8 Hours Later)

IMG_2945

  1. Start preheating your waffle iron.
  2. Add the eggs, butter, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, and baking soda to the overnight mixture. (You can mix all of these ingredients in a separate bowl first if you want.)
  3. I like to use beaters to mix everything together, but you could also use a spoon.
  4. Coat the waffle iron with coconut oil. I just bought this waffle iron, and I love it. (I like my waffles square so that I can pop them in the toaster.)IMG_2946
  5. Cook for about 6 minutes (or until the light turns green). You want them as lightly cooked as possible so that you can reheat them later in the toaster, and they won’t be too overdone. IMG_7895
  6. *This also makes great pancake batter, so if you don’t have a waffle iron, just make pancakes instead.
  7. Smother with butter and maple syrup then serve! (Find out why I like to smother everything with butter here.)IMG_7894

*I adapted this recipe from The Fresh Loaf, which is a great source for all bread making.

Why Eat Sourdough? To learn more about why sourdough is the best way to get rid of phytic acid, check out my blog: Phytic Acid: The Anti-Nutrient That’s Slowly Killing You.

Grandma’s Gingersnap Cookies

As much as I try to avoid sugar (especially when I’m pregnant), sometimes I just can’t help it, and I need something sweet! These are my favorite “healthy” cookies because they are high in iron (thanks to the blackstrap molasses) and made with good ingredients like farm fresh eggs, real butter, and fresh ground flour.

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. Butter – 2 Sticks (Pastured butter like Kerrygold is the best, organic butter is the next best, and butter without rBST growth hormones works too.)
  • ¾  c. Sugar
  • ¾  c. Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs (Pastured are best.)
  • ½ c. Molasses (Blackstrap has the most iron.)
  • 3½ c. Fresh Ground Flour
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • ½ t. Real Salt
  • 3 t. Cinnamon
  • 1 t. Cloves
  • 3 t. Ginger (I like to use fresh ginger juice made in our juicer.)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. Mix butter, sugar, molasses, and eggs with a beater until creamy.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together.
  4. Roll into balls and roll in sugar.
  5. Lay out on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 8 minutes at 350˚F. (It should make 3 full sheets with a little left over.)IMG_3235
  6. For a nice flat bottom, lay out on parchment paper to cool. (It absorbs the moisture and helps the cookie to be firm, yet still soft.) *The trick with these cookies is to not overcook them. When you take them out of the oven, you’ll think, “These are too soft, they can’t be done yet,” and yet that’s how you know that they are actually just perfect.IMG_3248

 

This recipe was passed on to me from my Mom who got it from my Grandma, and my Grandma has always made THE BEST gingersnap cookies. On Christmas, she sends these cookies to her children who live across the country and they wait for them with baited breath. My Grandma came over once and I had her walk me through the process step by step because no matter how closely I followed the recipe, I could never get them to turn out just right. Turns out, the trick was to cook them for 8 minutes instead of the 10 that I had been doing.

How to Make Homemade Laundry Detergent

How to Make Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent

I started making my own laundry detergent to save money and for the health of my family. This recipe is definitely a cost savings, much better for us than commercial detergents, easy to make, and it really works! I wash a lot of pee soaked toddler bedding and soiled cloth diaper wipes, and this detergent gets them all super clean.

*I like using the liquid laundry detergent better because it lasts longer, and since the soap has been previously dissolved, it works better, but you could also just not add water and use it dry (just make sure you’re washing with hot water).

Ingredients for Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ingredients for Homemade Laundry Detergent

Ingredients

  • 1 Bar of Soap: I like to use Dr. Bronner’s Lavendar Castile Soap or Kirk’s Natural Castile Soap, which is a little cheaper.
  • 1 c. Washing Soda: Get some here or find it in the laundry aisle at your grocery store for about $3.50.
  • 1 c. Borax: Get some here or find it in the laundry aisle at your grocery store for about $3.50.
  • Cheese Grater: I like using this stainless steel stand up grater.
  • 2 Quart Pot Filled with Water
  • 1 5-Gallon Bucket: Get one here.
  • *Oxygen Booster Get some here. You can add this separately to your wash cycle to get whites whiter.
  • *Fels Naptha: Get some here. This works really well to get out tough stains. You can add a grated bar to this recipe to make it really powerful, or just grate some up in a bucket of hot water to soak the stained garment.

Directions for Liquid Laundry Detergent

  1. Boil Water: I like using a two quart pot, but really any size will do.
  2. Prepare the Soap: Use a cheese grater to grate an entire bar of soap. You could also just cut the soap into chunks using a knife or cut it coarsely and put it into a food processor. You just want it to dissolve into the boiling water.

    Grated Soap for Laundry Detergent

    Grated Soap for Laundry Detergent

  3. Add Ingredients: Add the soap to the boiling water and “cook” until it dissolves. You can add the washing soda and borax at any time.
  4. 5-Gallon Bucket: Fill a 5-gallon bucket with hot water and add the 2 quarts of dissolved soap, washing soda, and borax.

    5-Gallon Bucket Filled with Liquid Laundry Detergent

    5-Gallon Bucket Filled with Liquid Laundry Detergent

  5. Cover: Cover and let sit overnight. Stir the next day. Stir every few days until it reaches a gelatinous consistency.

    liquid laundry detergent

    Liquid Laundry Detergent

  6. Pour into Containers: I like to use a cup and a funnel to pour the detergent into an old detergent jar from the store. You could also use gallon size jugs or just use the detergent right out of your 5-gallon bucket.

    Use a Cup and Funnel to Transfer the Laundry Detergent to a Smaller Container

    Transferring the Detergent to a Smaller Container

  7. Use: I do a lot of laundry and a lot of big dirty loads, so I usually use 1 cup per load, for smaller less soiled loads, you could use ½ cup. Sometimes I use the cap from the old laundry detergent container and sometimes I just glug some into the washer.

(To make a dry laundry soap, just mix the dry ingredients together and don’t add water, store in a mason jar, and use 2 tablespoons per load. I personally feel like the liquid soap is better and lasts longer, however.)

FAQs

  • What about HE washers? This detergent isn’t very sudsy and should work just fine in HE washers.
  • Why hot water? The next time you make some hamburger patties, try running your hands under some cold water to get them clean. Doesn’t work so good, does it? Now try adding some soap. Still doesn’t work too good. Now try rinsing your hands with warm to hot water. Pretty cool, huh? Now, try adding a little soap to some warmish hot water and notice how your hands are finally clean. Keep this in mind when doing laundry. 🙂
  • Why washing soda? The high alkalinity of washing soda helps it act as a solvent to remove a range of stains. You can heat baking soda to make your own washing soda.
  • Why borax? Borax works by converting some water to hydrogen peroxide which increases the effectiveness of other cleaners. This chemical reaction works best in hot water. There is some debate as to how “green” Borax is, but it’s just a laundry booster, so you could skip it entirely and this would still be a good recipe.
  • Why soap? Soap is an emulsifier which means that it can suspend oil and dirt in a way that it can be removed.
  • How much does it cost? If you buy the washing soda and borax at your local grocery store and get some good organic soap online (Like Dr. Bronner’s) I figured out the cost of each 5 gallon bucket to be about $3 for 80 loads of laundry (if you use 1 cup per load), which is about $0.04 per load.
  • What about really soiled clothes? If I have something with really tough stains, I keep a stain remover stick like this around to pretreat the stain. Then I grate up some Fels Naptha (about a quarter cup grated) along with a cup of my liquid detergent to a small bucket with really hot water. Then I soak the soiled garment for at least 20 minutes or so. I have not encountered any stain that couldn’t be removed this way.

    Soaking a Stain Away

    Soaking a Stain Away

Dryer Tips

  • The Harm of Dryer SheetsIn addition to being made with a laundry list of toxic chemicals with negative side effects, the artificial fragrances are a carcinogen and coat all of your clothes.
  • White Vinegar: I like to add ½ cup of white vinegar to the rinse cycle to reduce static cling. Don’t worry, it won’t make your clothes smell like vinegar at all!
  • Dryer Balls: We have also eliminated the use of dryer sheets by using these dryer balls. They are supposed to soften the clothes.
  • But honestly, I usually don’t typically add anything to my dryer (because of time really), and I just deal with what little static cling there is. 🙂

The History of Laundry Detergent

Did you know that the use of “laundry detergent” as we know it today took off because during WWII the fats and oils used to make soap were needed to manufacture nitro-glycerine into explosives? Another source had to be used, and that’s when the synthetic form of laundry detergent using a base of petroleum became widespread. (Read more about the history here.)

Harmful Ingredients in Commercial Laundry Detergents

  1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate  – Used as a surfactant (lowers the surface tension between a liquid and a solid – helps the water to get everything wet), detergent, and emulsifier in thousands of industrial cleaners and cosmetic products including shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, and laundry detergents. 16,000 studies have been published showing the dangers of this chemical including irritation of the skin and eyes, organ toxicity, developmental/reproductive toxicity, neurotoxicity, endrocine disruption, ecotoxicology, and biochemical or cellular changes, along with possible mutations and cancer.
  2. Dioxane – It’s not really an ingredient, but rather a byproduct of ethoxylation which combines low sudsing ingredients with ethylene oxide to produce softer detergents that produce more suds. It has been found in about 2/3 of all detergents (excluding USDA certified organic brands). It has been found to cause cancer and to be potentially toxic to the brain, nervous system, kidneys, liver, and respiratory system.
  3. Nonylphenol Ethoxylate – An inexpensive nonionic surfactant that is an endrocine disruptor and estrogen mimicker that can potentially cause hormonal problems or even cancer. It has also been shown to cause kidney and liver damage, decreased testicular growth and sperm count, disrupted growth and metabolism, and increased mortality.
  4. Phosphates – They break down the dirt particles and remove stains by softening the water and allowing suds to form, but they can cause nausea, diarrhea, and skin irritations in humans, and they are difficult to remove from wastewater and often end up in rivers and streams where they increase algae growth which starves the animal life of oxygen. 40 states have currently issued phosphate detergent bans.
  5. Other Harmful Ingredients: Linear alkyl sodium sulfonates, petroleum distillates (which have been linked to cancer), phenols (which can cause toxicity throughout the entire body), optical brighteners (which cause bacterial mutations and allergic reactions, and can be toxic to fish), sodium hypochlorite (bleach), ethylene-diamino-tetra-acetate, and artificial fragrances (which have been linked to various toxic effects on fish and animals, as well as allergic reactions in humans). (Source)

In Conclusion

Making your own laundry detergent is really easy once you get in the habit of it. With a large family and the high cost of laundry detergent, this has been very helpful for our budget. Not only that, but it is a definite health improvement from using the commercial toxic laden detergents. If you’re convinced to make your own laundry detergent, but you don’t have the time (or desire), you can buy some that I’ve made at my Etsy shop! You can use it dry or use it to make the liquid version by boiling the contents in a quart pan and then adding it to a 5 gallon bucket of water. It will make enough detergent to get you through about 80 loads.

laundry detergen etsy

Homemade Dry Laundry Detergent

For Further Reading

Are You Poisoning Your Household With This Chore?” by Dr. Mercola – A very in depth look at why commercial laundry detergent is bad that cites many more sources for even further reading.

*You might also like my articles about:

Homemade Diaper Wipe Solution

I have had every intention of using cloth diapers, but with two and sometimes three in diapers at a time and one particularly sensitive child prone to very bad diaper rashes, it just hasn’t worked out for me. But using cloth wipes and making my own diaper wipe solution has been an easy to maintain and cost effective home solution for me.

Ingredients: 

  • ¼ c. Olive Oil (Helps to slide away the waste.)
  • 2 T. Weleda Calendula Soap (Any soap will work.)
  • 5-10 Drops of Lavender Oil (Adds a fresh scent.)
  • 5-10 Drops of Tea Tree Oil (Great for treating yeasty diaper rashes.)

Directions:

  1. In a small bottle (I use an old glass pizza sauce jar), mix a concentrated version of this mixture that’s about ¾ full of water to mix as needed into a larger container.
  2. I like to use an old diaper wipe container or a tupperware container to put the solution in.
  3. First pour in a glug of olive oil. (It doesn’t need to be extra virgin, any oil will help the sticky messes to slide away).
  4. Then add a generous squirt of soap (For my newborns I like using Weleda Calendula, but for budgetary reasons, I usually just end up using hand soap)
  5. Next add few drops of tea tree oil (This is a great anti-fungal and I used it when my son was getting a bunch of yeasty diaper rashes.)
  6. Then add a few drops of lavender oil. (This just helps it to smell good.)

ragsCloth Wipes: I love using these Bumkin Reusable Cloth Wipes. When I got them on Amazon, they were $8.15 for 12. I ended up buying 36 and that seemed a good amount to only have to wash about once a week for two kids at a time in diapers. (Note: Do not use dryer sheets, they will prevent the wipes from absorbing.) What I do is dip the cloth in the solution, wring it out, and use as needed. I also like to have some thinner cloth diapers around to give a dry wipe afterwards to prevent too much moisture from accumulating.

Diaper Rash: If we do have a diaper rash problem, I LOVE using this Weleda Diaper Cream. It’s kind of expensive at $9.09 for 2.8 oz., but a little bit goes a long way!

How to Make Squeezable Remineralizing Toothpaste

How to Make Squeezable Remineralizing Toothpaste

I started making my own toothpaste because I got sick of my kids trying to eat the expensive sugar laden little tubes of the My Little Pony and Spiderman infant brand fluoride-free toothpaste. So, I researched a bunch of recipes, did a lot of experimenting, got some feedback from family and friends, and finally settled on this recipe. And let me tell you, this recipe is simply amazing! It cleans our teeth, keeps them white and stain free, prevents tartar build up, and is liked by everyone in the house. But most importantly, we can use it liberally without concern of ingesting any harmful ingredients found in commercial toothpastes. (*See more info on this at the end.)

Ingredients

This will make enough to fill one 4 oz. container. I actually like making mine in bulk, so instead of tablespooons, I’ll use cups for my measurements. 🙂 A good rule of thumb is: 4 parts coconut oil (with a splash of olive oil) and 4 parts diatomaceous earth, baking soda, and calcium carbonate. Then add stevia and peppermint extract to taste.

  • 4 T. Coconut Oil (Anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal)
  • 1 t. Olive Oil (I only use this when making my squeeze tube version because it helps to keep it soft.)
  • 1 T. Baking Soda (Slightly abrasive, gently cleanses, tastes salty)
  • 1 T. Diatomaceous Earth (Slightly abrasive, gently cleanses, kills parasites, no flavor)
  • 2 T. Calcium Carbonate (Remineralizes teeth)
  • 1 T. Hot Water (This will help to melt the coconut oil and provide the perfect texture for squeezable toothpaste.)
  • 5-10 drops Liquid Stevia (A sugar free sweetener)
  • 5 drops Peppermint Extract (Adds flavor)

*Note: For the most basic tooth cleaner, you can just use baking soda, the next step up would be to use coconut oil and baking soda. The rest of the ingredients are really an added bonus depending on your taste, preference, and needs.

My Toothpaste Making Station

My Toothpaste Making Station

Ingredient Notes

  • Baking Soda: Not only does slightly abrasive powder help to eliminate plaque, it also whitens your teeth, helps eliminates harmful bacteria, and encourages a more alkaline (rather than acidic) environment in your mouth. (Read more here about the benefits of baking soda.)
  • Diatomaceous Earth: This is slightly abrasive just like the baking soda, but without the salty taste and with the added benefit of killing parasites in the digestive tract by shredding and dehydrating them.
  • Calcium Carbonate: If you have active decay, demineralization (indicated by white spots), or sensitive teeth, then this ingredient is for you! This alone will not remineralize your teeth as much as diet, however, so check out this amazing book by Ramiel Nagel called Cure Tooth Decay to learn how eating a healthy diet based on Weston Price principles (such as avoiding processed foods and adding nutrient dense foods to your diet like pastured meat and eggs as well as raw milk and properly prepared grains). Increased saliva also helps to keep teeth clean, and chewing this Trident Recaldent Sugar-Free Calcium Gum might help you to do that while getting some extra minerals.
  • Coconut Oil: Ok, so the benefits of coconut oil are so vast, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard about them. (Check out this article if you want to learn more.) Basically, coconut oil is antibacterial, antifungal, antimicrobial, and gives the toothpaste a nice creamy consistency.
  • Stevia: Stevia is derived from plant in South America called Stevia Rebaudiana. It is extremely sweet, so not much is needed and it’s calorie (and sugar) free. Some people like using xylitol, which extracted from fruits and vegetables and also calorie free, but it’s just a personal preference. (Read more about stevia versus xylitol here.)
  • Peppermint Extract: This gives the toothpaste it’s nice minty flavor, but you could use cinnamon or orange depending on your taste preference. I used to use peppermint oil in my recipe, but I just don’t think it’s the best idea to ingest essential oils, so now I look in the baking aisle.

    Freshly Whipped Toothpaste

    Freshly Whipped Toothpaste

Directions

  1. Mix the coconut oil, olive oil, h0t water, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, and calcium carbonate until creamy. You can mix by hand, but I usually like using beaters, until it’s nice and creamy.
  2. Add the stevia and peppermint extract to taste.
  3. I like using this baby food making system to store my squeezable toothpaste. You could also use small glass canning jars or even a disposable storage container. I basically just scoop the toothpaste into the containers, remove as much air as I can, rinse under hot water, remove even more air, and dry.
  4. To use, add a pea sized amount to your toothbrush and use like you would any other toothpaste.

Tips and Tricks

  • Even though I try to mask it as much as I can with the other ingredients, the baking soda has a salty taste to it that you may notice at first. If this bothers you, either start with a very small amount at first or mix with some other toothpaste that you have as you transition away from it. This might be really helpful for young children.
  • This toothpaste doesn’t foam or lather, so you may want to dip a little more on your toothbrush before you finish brushing to get your teeth extra clean.
  • For some reason, we all tend to drool a lot when using this, so you may want to make sure you’re standing over a sink.
  • Although it’s a pretty hard habit to break, you don’t have to spit this toothpaste out. The diatomaceous earth kills parasites and the coconut oil is anti-fungal, so by swallowing this toothpaste on a regular basis, you can help to prevent and eliminate any candida or parasite issues.

The Most Important Reason to Avoid Commercial Toothpaste…Fluoride!

By making our own toothpaste, we can avoid the worst toxin of all – sodium flouride, which is a toxic chemical that has not even been proven to prevent tooth decay. If you look at your tube of Crest toothpaste, it actually says to contact poison control if more than the amount needed to brush your teeth is ingested. If a 2 year old were to ingest 42% of a tube of toothpaste, it would kill him.

Among other things, ingesting too much fluoride can cause dental fluorosis, which can permanently discolor the teeth, (especially children who have yet to get their permanent teeth), cause damage to the brain and alter mental behavior, result in a lowered IQ, produce impairment of the pineal gland which is linked to early onset puberty, lowers thyroid function, causes arthritis, damages the bones, and causes reproductive failures.

Other Harmful Ingredients Found in Commercial Toothpaste

  • Triclosan – An antibacterial compound found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, deodorant, and many other household products that can lead to disruption of the thyroid hormone and endrocine system and creates a dangerous antibiotic and bacterial resistance. Many companies are banning its use.
  • Sodium Lauryl Sulfate – A foaming agent that is present in nearly all shampoos, laundry detergents, and toothpastes that can lead to organ, reproductive, and neural toxicity, endrocine disruption, cellular mutations and changes, and even cancer.
  • DEA (diethanolomine) – Formulated into soaps, detergents and surfactants, it has been linked with kidney, liver, and other organ damage according to several government-funded research studies, and has been proven to cause cancer in rats when applied to the skin.
  • Propylene Glycol – A colorless, viscous, hygroscopic liquid used in anti-freeze solutions, in brake and hydraulic fluids, as a de-icer, and as a solvent. It’s even found in some pet foods, processed foods and cosmetics, toothpastes, shampoos, deodorants and lotions. It is implicated in contact dermatitis, kidney damage and liver abnormalities. It can inhibit skin cell growth in human tests, can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache and vomiting, central nervous system depression and can damage cell membranes causing rashes, dry skin and surface damage.

In Conclusion

If you are considering making your own toothpaste, but you’d like to try some out first, or if you like the idea of homemade toothpaste, but you just don’t have the time to make it, check out my Etsy shop, and you can buy some of my squeezable remineralizing all natural toothpaste for $8 each!

Remineralizing All Natural Toothpaste Pouches

Remineralizing All Natural Toothpaste

Further Reading:

Ruby and Elliot Helping Me Make Toothpaste

Ruby and Elliot Helping Me Make Toothpaste

How We Were Duped Into Thinking That Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Were Bad

How did this information slip under my radar for so long? Why isn’t it “common knowledge” to eat saturated fats and avoid polyunsaturated fats? The answer is rich and complex and for further reading I highly recommend you read everything by Gary Taubes in addition to Nourishing Traditions of course, but here it is in a nutshell. This is how we were duped into thinking that saturated fat and cholesterol were bad. 

Ancel Keys, who was a physiologist from Minnesota and famous for his development of the “K-rations” used during WWII and his human starvation studies, spoke with another physiologist from Naples, Italy who boasted that his country had a low rate of heart disease and consumed very little animal products, and this idea led Keys to form his Lipid Hypothesis.

lipid hypothesis

So Ancel Keys set out to prove that there was a direct correlation between animal fat and coronary heart disease and conducted an observational study (which means that he just looked at a bunch of data). The data was all over the place for the 22 countries he originally looked at, so he did what any good scientist would do and threw out the data that didn’t match his hypothesis. The six remaining countries showed the correlation he was looking for and that is where we get the Lipid Hypothesis that has permeated our mainstream culture and forced us to believe that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. His Seven Countries Study was even more acclaimed, but once again, he only chose the seven countries that he knew would fit his hypothesis and left out countries like France or Switzerland that have a high rate of fat consumption and a low rate of heart disease.

When institutions like the American Heart Association (AHA) put their little “heart healthy” label on things like Coco Puffs and Lucky Charms, we don’t even bat an eye! We just blindly BELIEVE that of course they are looking out for our best interests. But they are just another cog in the wheel of false information that has gotten out of control. The truth is that the AHA originally opposed Ancel Keys and all ideas that were like his. In 1957, they even wrote a 15 page paper explaining why. But then ten years later, they did a wonderfully political thing and flipped their stance. Not after any new research was uncovered, not after analyzing the reports again, but simply because Ancel Keys and one of his buddies became two-sixths of the AHA, and then BAM! suddenly they were behind his ideas 100%.

keys time

Soon after, Ancel Keys was featured on the cover of Time magazine as the new father of dietary wisdom. The article discussed Keys’ idea of a heart-healthy diet as one in which nearly 70% of calories came from carbohydrates and just 15% from fat.  Despite the fact that there was ZERO evidence from clinical trials to back up this claim, the article only contained one short paragraph explaining that Keys’ hypothesis was “still questioned by some researchers with conflicting ideas of what causes coronary heart disease.”

During this time, the AHA was courted by two major vegetable oil and margarine companies who helped to distribute a “risk handbook” to doctors all over the country, and the doctors in turn spread the message to all of their patients. This alliance dissolved after research showed that polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oil and margarine could cause cancer in rats. But by then, the AHA was a trusted source and now anything low in saturated fat and cholesterol could be labeled “heart healthy”.

In 1977, a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its ”Dietary Goals for the United States,” advising that Americans drastically increase their carbohydrate intake and reduce their fat consumption. Was George McGovern a scientist? No. A nutritionist? No. Making his decision based on research? No. Maybe he thought he was qualified to tell a nation what to eat because he was trying to stop the lofty problem of world hunger. Maybe he saw the cover of Time and thought, well that Ancel Keys sure is a popular fellow, I’m sure he knows what he’s talking about! Before this, the government had never told us what to eat, but now there are a myriad of government agencies that have all bought the same pack of lies. (Watch a short clip from the documentary Fathead summing up the McGovern Report here.)

The National Institute of Health – it has a nice ring to it, no? You would think an institute with such a fine name would have our best interests in mind right? But no. Rather than set out to conduct unbiased research in an attempt to objectively find the BEST dietary advice, they decided to find proof for what they already believed to be true. So they conducted a few small studies, including one in Framingham, Massachusetts, that they hoped would provide evidence that consuming animal fat had a direct correlation to heart disease. Did they find it? NO!!! In study after study the opposite was actually found to be true, but that didn’t stop them from somehow still using the studies to prove that there was in fact a correlation. The Framingham Heart study actually states, “we found that the people who ate the most cholesterol, ate the most saturated fat, ate the most calories, weighed the least and were the most physically active.” (JAMA Internal Medicine) I mean come on! What’s going on here?!?!

In her book, Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon discredits study after study that set out to prove a correlation between saturated fat, cholesterol, and heart disease. One study in particular that is most cited by the experts to justify low-fat diets and prove that animal fats cause heart disease is actually a study falsely bolstering the effects of a cholesterol lowering drug. (I’m sure the drug companies had nothing to do with this…wink!) The $150 million Lipid Research Clinics Coronary Primary Prevention Trial (LRC-CPPT), put both the control group and the test group on a low cholesterol, low saturated fat diet. One group was given a cholesterol lowering drug and the other was given a placebo. (OK, wait a minute, this sounds like a test measuring the effectiveness of a drug, not an unbiased attempt to find out the true meaning of heart disease.) Then they claimed that there was a 24% decrease in the rate of coronary heart disease in the group who took the cholesterol lowering drug even though independent researchers who tabulated the results of this study found no significant statistical difference in coronary heart disease death rates between the two groups. So how does this prove that a low fat diet is better again? Aye-ye-ye!

Even after these failed research attempts, the USDA still drafted its first official Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980 with recommendations that were very similar to those of McGovern’s Dietary Goals for the United States. Why? Did they just see the momentum behind these false notions, think it made sense, and chose to go with something people would simply latch onto as “common sense”? These guidelines have since been republished every five years with very little changes. After their initial publication, the facts leading up to their decision were not even questioned as every major institution latched onto them with reckless abandon. Even such trusted names as The American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, and the Senate Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs all claimed that animal fat was linked with not only with heart disease but with various forms of cancer. Yet when researchers from the University of Maryland analyzed the data they used to make such claims, they found that vegetable fat consumption was actually correlated with high rates of cancer and animal fat was not. How can this be? Is there no one out there who will tell the emperor that he has no clothes??? Are we all such sheep that we will just believe this garbage because everyone believes it?

 

yeah, that worked

So if the government’s recommendations to cut down on fats and increase carbohydrates were in our best interests, then how come obesity rates have soared and deaths by heart disease have increased? Before the 1920s, clogged arteries and heart disease were a rarity. Since then, the proportion of traditional animal fats has declined from 83% to 62%. Butter consumption plummeted from 18 pounds per person per year to four. On the other hand, the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening, and refined oils increased by 400% and the consumption of sugar and processed food increased by about 60%. Hmmmmm…it makes you think doesn’t it? Could the very things that we’re eating in an attempt to “be healthy” actually be making us sick, overweight, and dead?

  • Ancel Keys, the McGovern report, the American Heart Association, a population concerned with global issues of famine, USDA Dietary Guidelines, the National Institute of Health and biased test results, and products designed to meet the new low-fat recommendations have all led to this horrible misconception that ALL fats are bad for us.

In conclusion, there is obviously a paradigm shift going on here. I am not the only one who thinks this way. In fact, by the time our children are grown, HOPEFULLY common knowledge will have swung the pendulum back the other way and they will think it was silly that people actually thought that eating cereal was better than eating butter, but for now, we have to be diligent in what we consume and WHY we consume it. We only get one life to live, why not make your food your medicine and make this the best life possible.

 

How to Stay on Top of Free Radicals with Antioxidants

How to Stay on Top of Free Radicals with Antioxidants

I hear the terms “free radicals” and “antioxidants” thrown around a lot, but the extent of my knowledge was that free radicals were bad and antioxidants were good. I wanted to know more, so I researched it and synthesized my findings here. The information is quite fascinating.

Free Radical Test

If you want to see how much your body has been affected by free radicals you can do the following test: Hold out your hand with the palm facing down in a relaxed position, then pinch the skin on the back of the hand by lifting up the fold and releasing it. If the skin snaps quickly back into place, then you have minimal free radical damage. If the skin takes a few seconds to go back into place, then that is a bad sign and you will want to take immediate steps to adjust your diet to eliminate free radicals and incorporate as many antioxidants as you can.

What are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are atoms that have unpaired electrons in their outer shell. These dangling covalent bonds make free radicals highly reactive to other substances or even to each other. In our bodies, they can create abnormal cells that can lead to a growing list of diseases from cataracts to cancer and leads to oxidative stres (where your body is kind of rusting from the inside out). What’s scary about free radicals is that they are able to penetrate into the DNA of a cell and damage its blueprint so that the cell will reproduce mutated cells that can then replicate without normal controls.

But they’re not all bad. In his article on the Weston A. Price foundation, Staying on Top of Oxidative Stress, Stephen Byrnes, ND, RNCP, states that, “free radicals are involved in many cellular functions and are a normal part of living. When, for example, a mitochondria within a cell burns glucose for fuel, the mitochondria oxidizes the glucose and in so doing generates free radicals. White blood cells also use free radicals to attack and destroy bacteria, viruses and virus-infected cells. The detoxifying actions of the liver also require free radicals.”

Where Do Free Radicals Come From?

When the body is fed poorly, it slowly starves at the cellular level, all systems become weaker, and then these weak systems become prime targets for free radical attack. The major sources of dietary free radicals are chemically-altered fats from commercial vegetable oils, vegetable shortening and all oils heated to very high temperatures. Excessive sugar can also contribute to free radical damage. Stephen Byrnes further states that, “Free radicals are also released in the body from the detoxification of drugs (whether legal or illegal), artificial food colorings and flavorings, smog, preservatives in processed foods, alcohol, cigarette smoke, chlorinated drinking water, pesticides, radiation, cleaning fluids, heavy metals such as cadmium and lead, and assorted chemicals such as solvent traces found in processed foods and aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene and naphthalene (found in moth balls).” Even psychological stress can produce certain hormones that generate free radicals.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are scavengers on the look out for free radicals. They stabilize the free radicals by giving them the electron they need to calm down. The also work to prevent free radicals from forming in the body. In the process, the antioxidant sacrifices itself.

How Antioxidants Diffuse Free Radicals by Donating an Electron

How Antioxidants Diffuse Free Radicals by Donating an Electron

Watch this video that shows a great explanation of how free radicals and antioxidants work.

Where Do Antioxidants Come From?

As people age, they are exposed to more and more free radicals, but the body has a wonderful way of repairing itself with cholesterol, which is a major antioxidant. This is probably why the serum cholesterol levels rise as people get older and why people with higher cholesterol live longer. Stephen Byrnes explains that, “the main antioxidants are vitamins A, E and C, betacarotene, glutathione, bioflavonoids, selenium, zinc, CoQ10 (ubiquinone), and various phyto-chemicals from herbs and foods. Green tea, for example, is rich in polyphenols–powerful antioxidants that help fight cancer.” Alpha lipoic acid is another amazing antioxidant that can help to reduce insulin resistance and helps to repair the body after a strenuous workout.

Glutathione

Glutathione is pretty much the most powerful antioxidant. It is found inside every single cell in our bodies. It is special because it helps to maximize the activity of all the other antioxidants. It is a complete amino acid (cysteine, glycine and glutamate), it removes toxins from our cells, and it protects us from the damaging effects of radiation, chemicals, and environmental pollutants. So where can we get glutathoine?

The best way to get glutathione is high quality whey protein. The best kind to get is cold pressed, from grass-fed cows, and free of hormones, chemicals, and sugar. I have a wonderful book that I enjoy reading called Trim Healthy Mama. In it, Serena Allison and Pearl Barrett talk about the amazing benefits of whey protein including how it helps stimulate the hormones that enhance fat burning, eliminate sugar cravings and hunger by promoting a stable blood sugar, boost serotonin levels, fight breast cancer, and is a great post workout boost. They say that instead of asking for Christmas or birthday presents, they just ask for whey protein! It also occurs in raw milk, raw eggs, and raw meat. *Consuming raw meat can lead to intestinal parasites, so I personally wouldn’t do it.

Fresh fruits and raw vegetables provide an excellent source of glutathione. This goes away once cooked, however. Spinach, potatoes, asparagus, avocado, squash, okra, cauliflower, broccoli, walnuts, garlic and tomatoes have the highest glutathione per serving. *The oxalic acid in raw spinach prevents the absorption of calcium.

In Conclusion

With all of the environmental toxins, poor dietary habits, and prevalence of diseases such as cancer, it seems like a good idea to do whatever we can (especially when we’re young) to eliminate things containing free radicals and to boost our intake of antioxidants.

My Sources

 

Butter is a Superfood!

I love that as our kids were coming to HUGE growth spurts, they would both consume copious amounts of butter. Because we didn’t know how good butter was, we would cringe a little as Ruby demanded more and more butter on crackers or bread, and we were just mortified when Elliot wanted to eat whole sticks of butter. But even though I hadn’t read Nourishing Traditions or learned about Weston Price yet, I thankfully believed in the fact that our kids craved what their bodies needed. (Thanks for raising me that way mom!) Now that I KNOW how amazing butter is it makes TOTAL SENSE why growing children crave butter and should be able to have as much as they want! Here are all of the reasons why butter is a superfood and should be eaten LIBERALLY…especially by growing children and mommas who are pregnant and/or breastfeeding.2012-06-05_08-25-08_894

  • One stick of butter has 58 grams of saturated fat. This is a good thing! Saturated fats have been demonized by mainstream media, but they are essential for our bodies and especially for growing children. (Read more about why in my blog: The Truth About Fats.)
  • There are certain vitamins that are only soluble in fat, and these include vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K. These fat soluble vitamins occur in LARGE amounts ONLY when the butter comes from cows eating green grass. Vitamins A and D are essential for growth, for healthy bones, for proper development of the brain and nervous system, and for sexual development. The absence of butterfat in growing children results in “nutritional castration” because the male and female sexual characteristics fail to be brought out.
  • The Wulzen Factor also called the “antistiffness factor” is only found in raw animal fat, protects humans from calcification of the joints (degenerative arthritis), hardening of the arteries, cataracts, and calcification of the pineal gland.
  • The Price Factor or Activator X was discovered by Dr. Price and is a powerful catalyst for things like vitamins A and D that help the body absorb and use minerals and can ONLY come from cows eating rapidly growing grass. Dr. Price found that when he gave patients fermented cod liver oil infused with grass-fed butter oil, it practically brought people back from the dead.
  • 12-15% of butter contains short- and medium-chain fatty acids that don’t need to be emulsified by bile salts but can be absorbed directly from the small intestine to the liver where it is converted to quick energy. It also has highly protective lauric acid which is only found in large amounts of coconut oil or small amounts of butterfat.
  • Four carbon butyric acid is unique to butter and has antifungal and antitumor properties.
  • Omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids occur in small but equal amounts in butter.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) found in butter has anticancer properties, encourages the buildup of muscle, and prevents weight gain, but only when cows are pasture-fed.
  • The lecithin in butter helps metabolize and assimilate cholesterol and other fats.
  • The cholesterol in butter is needed to produce a variety of steroids that protect against cancer, heart disease, and mental illness.
  • Glycosphingolipids are a type of fat in butter that protects against gastrointestinal infections, especially in the young and elderly. For this reason, children who drink skimmed milk have diarrhea at rates three to five times greater than children who drink whole milk.
  • Trace minerals are incorporated into the fat globule membrane of butterfat including manganese, zinc, chromium, and iodine

Getting butter from grass-fed cows is by far the best. If you have access to raw milk from grass fed cows, the best thing would be to make your own butter or find a local source that sells it. You might be able to find Organic Valley Pasture Butter in season (May-April) at your local grocery store. Kerrygold is imported from Ireland where the cows spend 10 months out of the year on pasture and you can find it online and/or sometimes at your local grocery store. You can also buy organic butter from the store, but it’s expensive and there is no guarantee that the cows were out to pasture. Sometimes buying healthy food happens in layers and if you’re not to the point of buying expensive butter (I’m not…yet), then know that eating store bought butter isn’t so bad (but you are missing out on some of the amazing health properties). Any hormones or antibiotics that are given to the cows do not get stored in the butterfat, so that’s good at least. Fat soluble poisons such as DDT do accumulate in fats, however. For what it’s worth, we purchase our butter in bulk from Country Life Dairy for $2.75/pound. It is free from rBST bovine growth hormone which makes cows produce an unnatural amount of milk which leads to mastitis, over-use of antibiotics, and a host of other problems. It is actually banned in Canada and European countries.

So now that you know how good butter is, the next question should be: How can I find ways to eat as much butter as possible? My sister recently heard Sally Fallon speak at a conference and she said that vegetables were mostly important because they make excellent vehicles for consuming butter! Personally, I like to lightly steam a head of broccoli, douse it with about a half stick of butter, and then sprinkle it generously with Real Salt. I also like to make organic air popped corn, melt an entire stick of butter to pour over the top, and sprinkle generously with Real Salt for family movie night. Sally Fallon also mentioned that if you are going to have a piece of bread and butter, you should be able to see teeth marks in the butter! I have started to become creative with how I incorporate butter into our daily lives. I really enjoy my latest idea of melting huge dollops of butter on top of freshly cooked pastured eggs. And even though it is made with sugar, which we all know is the damned devil, I still really enjoy eating cookie dough made with freshly ground grain, two whole sticks of butter, and raw pastured eggs. Mmmmmmm…all this talk about butter is making me hungry! Time for a snack!

Resources

 

 

Which Oils Should I Use?

There are so many different oils to choose from, how do you know which ones to use and which ones to avoid? When shopping at the grocery store you’ll probably find quite an array of oil, from the ever popular canola oil, to the expensive olive oil, to the lesser known coconut oil. But only one of these oils can help you lose weight, have energy, and nourish your body at the cellular level. The rest will either make you gain weight, or worse, lead to array of ailments such as heart disease or cancer.

coconut oil

If you guessed that coconut oil is the only oil that will help you lose weight, have energy, and nourish your body at a cellular level, you guessed correctly! Some grocery stores may even sell coconut oil, but at the rate we use it, I need to buy bulk. My first coconut oil purchase was extra virgin organic Nutiva, which was incredible, but too pricy at $70/gallon for my budget and as much as I would like to buy everything organic, for me staying home with my kids is more important than getting another job to pay for it. We recently bought a fifty pound, five gallon bucket of coconut oil from Country Life for $62.50. After reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, I feel confident in making coconut oil my go-to oil for everything. It does not have a distinguishable odor or taste and we try to cook as much as we can with it. I use it to make my own bread, and I plop generous dollops for cooking eggs, pancakes, stir fries, and even burgers! Not only can it be used for baking and frying, but it has many other uses as well. I love mixing coconut oil with tea tree oil and lavender for my face and body moisturizer. Here are some of the wonderful attributes that make coconut oil so wonderful:

  • satfatpicCoconut oil is made up of 92% saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are structured so that all available carbon bonds are occupied by a hydrogen atom. This makes them highly stable and straight in shape, so that they are solid or semisolid at room temperature. As a result, they are less likely to go rancid when heated during cooking. If you keep coconut oil in its solid state (below 76 degrees) and out of direct sunlight, it can maintain a shelf life of two years.
  • Over two-thirds of the saturated fatty acids found in coconut oil are comprised of medium-chain fatty acids. When your body digests fat in the form of medium chain fatty acids it doesn’t need to be digested in the small intestine with bile acids and lipases like it does with longer-chain fatty acids, but can instead be shuttled directly to the liver and converted to quick energy. This is why coconut oil is great to use if you’re trying to lose weight. As long as you don’t eat it with any carbs it CANNOT be stored as fat! It is also a gentle way for people who aren’t used to eating fat to start incorporating it into their diets. 
  • The main medium-chain fatty acid in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is a proven antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent. It is converted in your body to a substance called monolaurin, which helps you defend against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Basically, it strengthens your immune system and protects you from a wide range of diseases. The only other places you can get lauric acid are in mother’s milk or in small amounts in butterfat.
  • Lauric acid is the most rapidly oxidized fatty acid. The amount of energy used by the body to oxidize it is greater than the energy it provides. Since coconut oil is comprised of 50% lauric acid, it has a “thermogenic effect” meaning that it raises your body temperature, which boosts your energy and metabolic rate. So if you were to just eat a big spoonful of coconut oil, you would actually lose more weight than eating nothing at all!
  • Palm oil is another good tropical oil, but it is only 50% saturated.

3Now I can finally throw my Crisco away! I used to feel guilty about greasing my pans with my super expensive extra virgin organic coconut oil, but now that I have a fifty pound five gallon bucket at my disposal, I can use it liberally for EVERYTHING without feeling guilty and I can FINALLY throw away this Crisco that I’ve had sitting in my cupboard for more years than I’d care to admit.

In case you’re wondering, Crisco is just about the worst thing you could purposefully put in your body. It is made from hydrogenated oils (trans fats) that block your body from using important fatty acids and can lead to paralysis of the immune system, cancer, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, low birth weight babies, birth defects, decreased visual acuity, sterility, difficulty in lactation, and problems with bones and tendons.

  • The process for making hydrogenated oil is enough to make me want to steer clear of it! It begins with the cheapest vegetable oils possible (soy, canola, or corn) that are already rancid from their extraction process. Then they are mixed with tiny metal particles usually in the form of nickel oxide. This nickel catalyst combined with a high temperature causes a chemical change called hydrogenation which changes the position of the hydrogen atom on the fatty acid chain from the slight bend of a double bond to a straightened molecule. This trans formation is toxic to your body, but your body doesn’t recognize it as a toxin. It actually incorporates it into cell membranes and this wreaks havoc with cell metabolism. After the nickel catalyst, soap-like emulsifiers and starch are squeezed into the mixture in order to give it a better consistency. The oil is then steam-cleaned at a high temperature to remove its unpleasant odor and bleached, dyed, and pumped full of strong flavors to get rid of its unappetizing grey color and horrible taste. Now, doesn’t that sound yummy!

1Olive Oil is okay to use every once in awhile. It isn’t likely to go rancid and so it’s great for things like salad dressing and hummus because of its antioxidant properties, but IT WILL MAKE YOU FAT (Beware, so will other monounsaturated rich foods like nuts and avocados!) Use it if you must, but I try to use it sparingly.

  • fa_fatacids02It is comprised of 75% oleic acid, 13% saturated fat, 10% omega-6 linoleic acid, and 2% omega-3 linoleic acid.
  • Oleic acid is an 18-carbon monounsaturated fatty acid that has one double bond in the form of two carbon atoms double bonded to each other and therefore lacks two hydrogen atoms. They have a kink or bend at the position of the double bond so that they do not pack together as easily as saturated fat and therefore tend to be liquid at room temperature but solid when refrigerated. They are relatively stable and do not go rancid easily and hence can be used in cooking (Keep temperatures under 425 degrees).
  • Because it is a long-chain fatty acid, it requires bile acids and lipases from the small intestine for digestion (after they are broken down, they are reassembled as triglycerides, which is basically how your body stores fat) and is more likely to contribute to the buildup of body fat than the short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil.
  • Your body can make monounsaturated fat from saturated fat, so there is really no need to consume it if you’re getting enough saturated fat.
  • If you do consume olive oil, it should be extra virgin olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants.  It should be cloudy, indicating that it has not been filtered, and have a golden color indicating that it is from fully ripened olives.
  • The extraction of olive oil is a very gentle process. The process begins by gently by crushing olives between stone or steel rollers using low temperatures and with minimal exposure to light and oxygen, which protects its antioxidants, integrity of the fatty acids, and natural preservatives. The longer fatty chain acids found in olive oil are more likely to contribute to the buildup of fat than the short and medium chain fatty acids found in butter and coconut oil, so you’ll want to use it sparingly for salad dressings and baking, but it is still a much better alternative to the other polyunsaturates.

Polyunsaturated fats make up the remainder of the fats on my review: Canola, safflower, corn, sunflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils should be avoided at all costs. Sesame, peanut, and flax seed oil should be used sparingly if at all. Polyunsaturated fatty acids that have an imbalance of omega-6s to omega-3s are found in the remaining oils and that is why they should be avoided.

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids have bends or turns at the position of the double bonds and hence do not pack together easily. They remain liquid, even when refrigerated. Unpaired electrons located at the double bonds make these oils highly reactive. When they are subjected to heat or oxygen, as in extraction, processing, and cooking, free radicals are formed. These free radicals can initiate cancer and heart disease as well as lead to wrinkles, premature aging, tumors, and plaque buildup.
  • omega_3The two polyunsaturated fatty acids found most frequently in our foods are linoleic acid with two double bonds (called omega-6) and linoleic acid with three double bonds (called omega-3). (The omega number indicates the position of the first double bond.
  • The polyunsaturated oils found in the following oils contain a high amount of omega-6 linoleic acid and a low amount of omega-3 linoleic acid. This imbalance disrupts prostaglandins that leads to blood clots and inflammation, high blood pressure, irritation of the digestive tract, depressed immune function, sterility, cell proliferation, cancer, and weight gain.
  • Because your body cannot make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, they are called “essential” and must be obtained from foods. This is how manufacturers get away with saying that these fats are “heart healthy”. However, when you consume enough saturated fatty acids, which help to retain and use essential fatty acids, your body actually needs only a very small amount of essential fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6 found in polyunsaturated fats). One great source for getting a perfect balance of omega-3s and omega-6s is pastured eggs.
  • The process for making vegetable oils should be enough to make you want to steer clear of them in the first place! In order to extract the oils in vegetables, they are heated and crushed, which exposes them to damaging light and oxygen. In order to get the last 10% of the oil, a solvent such as hexane (which is a constituent of gasoline) is used. The solvent is boiled off, but a portion still remains (100 parts per million). The high temperatures cause the weak carbon bonds of the polyunsaturated fatty acids to break apart (especially triple unsaturated linoleic acid) and cause dangerous free radicals. Vitamin E, which is a natural antioxidant, is stripped away by the heating process and replaced with BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) as preservatives to prevent fat spoilage and are suspected of causing brain damage and cancer.
  • Canola oil is the worst oil of all and should be avoided at all costs, even though it has been labeled as “heart healthy”. 
    • It contains 5% saturated fat, 57% oleic acid, 23% omega-6, and 10-15% omega-3.
    • It is made from rape seed, which is considered unsuited for human consumption because it contains a long-chain fatty acid called euric acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions.
    • It has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily. Goods baked with canola oil develop mold very quickly.
    • During the deodorizing process, the omega-3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids. This is the worst part of all!
    • A recent study found that it actually creates a deficiency of vitamin E, which is needed for cardiovascular health.

    Safflower, Corn, Sunflower, Soybean, and Cottonseed Oils should also be avoided.

    • They all contain over 50% omega-6 and except for soybean oil, contain only minimal amounts of omega-3. (Soybean oil…and anything with soybeans for that matter, should be avoided for a host of other reasons as well, including its high estrogen content.) Safflower contains 80% omega-6.
    • These oils should never be consumed after they have been heated.

2Sesame and Peanut Oils can be used, but should be done sparingly.

  • Peanut oil contains 48% oleic acid, 18% saturated fat, and 34% omega-6 linoleic acid. Like olive oil, it is relatively stable and therefore appropriate for the occasional stir fry. But the high omega-6 presents a potential danger.
  • Sesame oil contains 42% oleic acid, 14% saturated fat, and 43% omega-6 linoleic acid. It is similar to peanut oil and it contains unique antioxidants that are not destroyed by heat. But once again, the high omega-6 is concerning.

Flax Seed Oil is a great source for omega 3s.

  • It contains 9% saturated fatty acids, 18% oleic acid, 16% omega-6, and 57% omega-3.
  • Because of its high omega-3 content, it is a great remedy for the omega-6/omega-3 imbalance that causes so many problems.
  • It should be kept refrigerated, never heated, and consumed in small amounts in salad dressings and spreads. The fat from flax seed oil WILL make you fat, so use sparingly!

For further reading:

To learn more about coconut oil, read A New Look at Coconut Oil by by Mary Enig, phDfrom the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

For more information read The Oiling of America, by Mary Enig, phD, and Sally Fallon from the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

 

 

How Insulin Makes Us Fat…and What to do About It

Do I care that the obesity rates in America are soaring? Does it bother me that we went from 12% of Americans being obese in 1990, to 35.7% in 2010, or that 69% of ALL Americans are now considered overweight? Not really. If people want to be fat, then be fat, but what bothers me is when I can’t lose the last ten pounds no matter what I try, or that my husband’s weight, along with his blood pressure, keeps creeping up and up and up year after year.

For the first part of our marriage, we thought we were doing the “right thing” by following the government recommend dietary guidelines of a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet, but then I started learning the truth about fats and about  how we were duped into thinking saturated fat and cholesterol were bad in the first place, and in his book, Why We Get Fat, Gary Taubes completes the picture for me by thoroughly explaining how it’s not fat that’s making us fat, it’s carbohydrates. He explains that it’s not as simple as “calories in, calories out” and that it doesn’t matter how many calories we consume, but what kind.

Not all of us get fat when we eat carbohydrates, but for those of us who do get fat, carbohydrates are to blame; the fewer carbohydrates we eat, the leaner we will be” (p.134).

So WHY DO carbohydrates make us fat, and why does eating a carbohydrate rich diet make us overeat and gain weight? In a nutshell, the answer lies with the hormone insulin. Insulin is secreted to help the body metabolize glucose that comes from the breakdown of all carbohydrates. The longer our insulin levels are raised, the less time we spend burning stored fat. If we want to lose weight and access some of the fat we’ve been storing, we HAVE to lower our insulin.

The problem is that over time, for a variety of reasons, we become insulin resistant. To be more specific, our cells become insulin resistant as they protect themselves from an onslaught of glucose. When this happens, insulin is coursing through our veins even when we haven’t eaten anything or worse, when we have eaten, but none of the glucose can get into the cells and so we STARVE at the cellular level. This makes us hungry and we keeping eating and eating and eating, but we aren’t getting satisfied.

And thus begins a vicious cycle where we’re not getting fat because we’re eating too much, but we’re eating too much because we’re getting fat.

Screen_shot_2012_02_10_at_08_3Here is a great look at how insulin makes us store fat. This diabetic man injected himself with insulin in the same spots on his lower abdomen for more than 30 years. As a result he got lipohypertrophy, which isn’t the result of “eating too much” but rather the insulin doing it’s job of storing fat in a central and localized area.

Are you curious to know how insulin works to make us fat? Read on to get a thorough understanding of the role insulin plays in our digestion.

1. The pancreas begins secreting insulin when we simply think about eating carbohydrates. We may not have been really hungry before, but once we start to think about eating a freshly glazed doughnut or a big plate of spaghettu, we realize that we are suddenly STARVING. The insulin is doing it’s job; it’s preparing our body for what we are about to eat.

2. As it is digested, all food can basically be broken down into three categories: glucose (from carbohydrates), fatty acids (from fat), and amino acids (from protein). The only thing that stimulates insulin production is glucose, but any fat or protein that comes into the body with the glucose, will be stored as fat and dealt with later because the glucose is much easier to metabolize and so it is taken care of first.

  • Carbohydrates are digested easily for quick energy. Enzymes from our saliva, pancreas, and small intestine work to break the carbohydrates down into glucose. Whatever isn’t needed for immediate energy is repackaged into larger bundles called glycogen and stored in the liver or muscles. The liver releases small amounts of glycogen over the next 8-12 hours as energy is needed. If there is still excess glucose after maxing out glycogen storage, it will be converted and stored as body fat.
  • When we talk about fats, there are two distinct kinds. First we have Long-chain fatty acids found in polyunsaturated fats like canola oil and monounsaturated fats like olive oil and avocados that take a long time to be metabolized. In order to metabolize these fats, they must be digested with bile acids from the liver and enzymes from the pancreas called lipases before they can be sent into the bloodstream. When you eat long-chain fatty acids with any carbohydrates, they will be immediately stored as fats, and if you are insulin resistant (which I’ll address later) or continue to consume carbohydrates, they will not be released from the fat cells. Then we have Short- and medium-chain fatty acids found in saturated fats like coconut oil and butter that are digested easily and can be used for quick energy. They break down without any help from bile acids and are sent directly to the liver where they are metabolized for quick energy. If you were to eat short- or medium-chain fatty acids by themselves, it is virtually impossible for them to be stored as fat. When eaten with carbohydrates, say on a piece of bread and butter or in raw cookie dough, this becomes a bit of a gray area and depends on
  • When protein is digested into amino acids, these building blocks are used to build and repair tissue. They can be used as energy if there’s no other source of energy. If eaten with carbohydrates, they will not be stored as fat.

3. So as ANY carbohydrates enter the bloodstream and are converted to glucose, insulin is secreted and starts doing its job.  Now there are only two things that bring blood sugar down: one is physical activity that will drive sugar from the blood into the muscles where it will be burned as fuel and the other is insulin. When insulin is released into the bloodstream, it is like a traffic cop directing glucose to the cells to be used as energy, to the liver or muscles to be stored as glycogen, and once the glycogen stores are full, to the fat cells to be stored as fat.

4. While insulin is busy shuttling glucose around, it is also stimulating the lipoprotein lipase (LPL) enzyme that pulls fat from the bloodstream into the fat cells. Insulin just wants us to survive. When there is a lot of glucose coming in, it is like a squirrel storing away nuts for the winter, and it tries to store away whatever glucose isn’t immediately being needed elsewhere. When insulin is present, more LPL enzymes are stimulated to pull fat into the fat cells.

5. At the same time, insulin is also suppressing the hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) enzyme which is responsible for making fat leave the fat cells. When there are individual fatty acids in the bloodstream, they are small enough to pass back and forth through the cell membrane. But once a glycerol molecule binds together with three fatty acids, it forms a triglyceride, and a triglyceride is too big to leave the fat cell. The only way a triglyceride can be broken down is with the help of HSL. When insulin is present, it prevents the HSL from breaking apart the triglyceride and thus the fat remains trapped inside the fat cell, and we are unable to use it as fuel.

6. Once our blood sugar levels begin to decrease, the insulin levels will also decrease (in a normal functioning metabolism). When this happens, any fat that was ingested with the carbohydrates can now be burned as fuel.

7. If insulin levels don’t decrease however (because the body is becoming resistant to insulin), then the fat that was eaten with the carbohydrates cannot be unlocked for use as fuel, and so we get hungry again before we’ve even burned all of the calories we’ve consumed. So what leads to insulin resistance?

  • Insulin resistance starts in the womb. As the pancreas of the child develops, it must secrete more insulin if the mother has high blood sugar. When it is born, it will have a tendency to over secrete insulin, become insulin resistant, and then become fat as it gets older. Gary Taubes points out that, “in animal studies, this predisposition often manifests itself only when the animal reaches its version of middle age” (p. 132).
  • The bottom line is that too much glucose over a long period of time is too much for our bodies to handle. Too much sugar is toxic not only to the blood, but to the cells as well. In his article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website, “Treating Diabetes: Practical Advice for Combatting a Modern Epidemic“, Tomas Cowan, MD, explains that, “The cells build a shield or wall around themselves to slow down this influx of excess sugar. Insulin resistance is a protective or adaptive response, it is the best the body can do to protect the cells from too much glucose.” When insulin remains elevated, the fat in the bloodstream, the fat stored in the fat cells, the protein stored in the muscle cells, and the carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the liver and muscle tissue cannot be used as fuel. As a result, the cells find themselves starved for fuel and we get hungry…starving in fact. Either we eat sooner than we otherwise would have or we eat more when we do. Meanwhile, our bodies are getting bigger because we’re putting on more fat, and we’re also building more muscle to support that fat. Gary Taubes explains that, “As we fatten, our energy demand increases, and our appetite will increase for this reason as well – particularly our appetite for carbohydrates, because this is the only nutrient our cells burn for fuel when insulin is elevated” (p. 126). And thus, we’re not getting fatter because we’re eating more, we’re eating more because we’re getting fatter.
  • Just getting older makes us more insulin resistant. As we age, we secrete more insulin, which results in more calories being diverted to fat and fewer calories being left to fuel the body. This leaves the cells to generate less energy. So we’re not getting fat because our metabolisms are slowing down, our metabolisms are slowing down because we’re getting fat. As we become insulin resistant, a whole host of other problems start to arise: our blood pressure goes up, our triglyceride levels go up, our HDL cholesterol goes down, and so on. Tomas Cowan, MD, explains that, “Having a chronically elevated insulin level is detrimental for many other reasons. Not only do high insulin levels cause obesity (insulin tells your body to store fat), but they also signal that fluid should be retained, leading to edema and hypertension. Chronic high insulin provokes plaque development inside the arteries and also suppresses growth hormone needed for the regeneration of the tissues and many other physiological responses.”

8. When either the pancreas can’t make enough insulin to deal with the incoming sugar or the cells have become resistant to the insulin over a long period of time, it can lead to diabetes.  25.8 million people in America have diabetes. That’s 8.3% of the population. Complications from diabetes can lead to heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, blindness, kidney disease, nervous system disease, and amputation. Gary Taubes explains how diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s, cavities, appendicitis, ulcers, gallstones, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and constipation are common in societies that eat Western diets and are virtually nonexistent in societies that don’t. But it’s not ALL aspects of a western diet, as mainstream nutritionists and public health officials would have us believe, that lead to these maladies. It’s the sugar, carbohydrates, and how our body reacts to insulin.

  1. Treating Diabetes: Practical Advice for Combatting a Modern Epidemic“, Tomas Cowan, MD “Unless eaten to great excess, fats do not contribute to diabetes–with one exception. Trans fatty acids in partially hydrogenated vegetable oils can cause insulin resistance. When these man-made fats get built into the cell membrane, they interfere with the insulin receptors. In theory, this means that one could develop insulin resistance without eating lots of carbohydrates. But in practice, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are always used in the very high-carbohydrate foods–french fries, cookies, crackers, donuts and margarine on bread or potatoes–that flood the bloodstream with sugar. Trans fatty acids in modern processed foods present a double whammy for which the human species has developed no defenses.”
  2. “During the 1980s, researchers began to ask whether obesity, coronary artery disease, hypertension and other common medical problems that occur together are really separate diseases, or manifestations of one common physiological defect. The evidence now points to one defect and that is hyperinsulinemia, or excessive insulin levels in the blood. Hyperinsulinemia is the physiological event that links virtually all of our degenerative diseases. It is the biochemical corollary or marker of the events described in heart disease.”

So now that we know what makes us fat (insulin), what can we do about it? In this scenario, I envision that there are three types of people in the world:

  1. People who want to lose weight (either a lot of weight or a little weight)
  2. People who don’t want to lose weight (either because they just don’t want to or they’re not fat)
  3. People who are growing (children, pregnant and lactating women, and people who need to gain weight)

For the people who want to lose weight, here is what Gary Taubes suggests that you do.

1. The first thing to understand is why the “calories in, calories out” theory is wrong. When we see ourselves putting on a little weight, there’s a little voice in our heads that tries to to motivate us throughout the day, “Just stop eating so much!” it says. But it’s not that simple.

  • Gary Taubes talks about a group of women who tried to do just that. In 1990, the National Institute of Health conducted a study that they hoped would answer whether low fat diets prevented heart disease or cancer. So they spent one billion dollars and had 20,000 women eat a low-fat diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. These women also cut their caloric intake by about 360 calories per day. After eight years, they lost an average of two pounds each and their waist circumference increased, meaning that the weight they lost was lean muscle. Also, they still got just as much cancer and heart disease.
  • We could cut calories to the point of starvation to try to lose weight, but our bodies would just adapt in other ways. Our body temperatures would decrease, we would expend less energy, we would be cranky, irritable, and not to mention STARVING, and then the only way we could maintain this weight loss would be to maintain a lifetime of starvation. Does that seem possible? I didn’t think so. So if cutting calories doesn’t make us lose weight, increasing calories shouldn’t make us gain weight.
  • That’s because it’s not about how many calories we eat, but what kind of calories we eat. Thinking that a person gets overweight because they can’t control their eating or that they should just be better at portion control is just plain wrong. Saying that a person gaining weight is a result of their immoral gluttony is like saying an alcoholic becomes dependent on alcohol because of the sinful act of drinking. It’s kind of like, well duh! But the real questions should be: WHY do some people overeat? WHY do some people store all of their incoming calories as fat? WHY so some people drink to excess? and WHY do some people become addicted to the altered state that alcohol brings? These questions will get us to the real root cause of the problem. If it were as simple as “calories in, calories out”, then the very act of eating one extra slice of bread over the course of twenty years would make us gain an extra fifty pounds, and conversely, we should be able to lose that extra fifty pounds by eliminating the equivalent of one slice of bread to see the pounds gradually waste away. But it doesn’t work like that.
  • Also, it’s helpful to think about growing children in this scenario. Children do not grow because they are eating too much; they start to eat more because they are growing. If you were to restrict a child’s calories, they would still grow, their growth would just come at a cost to their internal organs, brain functions, and growth quality. Children grow because of hormones. The hormones are telling their bodies where and how to grow. It is the same with adults. Male hormones tell a man to gain weight in his abdomen, female hormones tell a woman to gain weight in her hips, butt, and thighs, and the hormone insulin, stimulated by the overabundance of glucose, tells our body to store fat.

2. If you don’t want your body to store fat, then don’t eat sugar. It’s as simple as that. Sugar stimulates the “reward center” of the brain in the same way that heroin, cocaine, nicotine, alcohol, and other addictive substances will. All food does this to some degree, but sugar seems to hijack the signal to an unnatural degree by flooding the neurotransmitters with an unparalleled amount of dopamine. You can quit eating sugar, but it will take the same vigilance as a drug addict trying to kick his or her drug habit. (Actually, according to a new study, sugar is more addictive than cocaine.)  When trying to decide between eliminating carbohydrates completely or simply limiting them, Gary Taubes explains, “If you continue to eat some of the fattening carbohydrates or allow yourself some sugar (or even, artificial sweeteners), though, you may always have the cravings” (p. ). When I was trying to quit drinking, I personally found it much easier to get rid of drinking all together, rather than trying to learn how to “drink in moderation” as I describe in my blog: Dealing with Addiction. I personally believe that having a few sweet treats (like homemade cookie dough with real butter, pastured eggs, and dark chocolate chips) is just fine every once in awhile, but only if you’re at your ideal weight. 

3. What about high fructose corn syrup? High fructose corn syrup is made up of about 55% fructose and 42% glucose. So when the glucose enters the bloodstream, it raises blood sugar, and stimulates insulin. The fructose, however, is metabolized almost exclusively in the liver. When the liver is flooded with that much fructose, it turns most of it into fat. Because insulin levels are raised from the glucose, the fat is immediately shuttled into fat cells. The more high fructose corn syrup we consume and the longer we do so creates a pattern that our bodies adapt to by converting the fructose directly to fat. Over time, this also creates a fatty liver and causes muscle tissue to become resistant to insulin. A very fascinating point made by Gary Taubes states that, “It’s quite possible that if we never ate these sugars we might never become fat or diabetic, even if the bulk of our diet were still starchy carbohydrate and flour” (p. 138). He explains further that this could be why some of the world’s poorest populations live on carbohydrate rich diets and don’t get fat or diabetic. I believe that two of the biggest culprits here are sodas and breakfast cereals. Eliminate these right away!

4. Next, cut out all carbohydrates (or greatly reduce them), and replace them with fats. And not just any fats…saturated fats.  (Read The Truth About Fats, How We Were Duped Into Thinking Saturated Fat and Cholesterol Are Bad, Benefits of Butter, and Choosing the Right Oil to learn more about eating the right kind of fats.) As we do this, we’re creating a radical shift in the fuel our cells will burn for energy. When we consume less than sixty or so grams of carbohydrates a day (a slice of pizza has 40 grams), our body will enter what is called a state of ketosis. Now instead of running primarily on carbohydrates, our body (and brain) must get used to running on fats…including the fat that has been stored in our body. The side effects of this transition could include weakness, fatigue, nausea, dehydration, diarrhea, constipation, dizziness, and light-headedness. But these carbohydrate withdrawal symptoms are short lived and are far outweighed by the benefits of living a longer, leaner, and healthier life. (Read my blog, From Candida to Thrush to learn how cutting out carbs and sugar can help you get rid of both.)

5. What about hypoglycemia? Neither hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)  is good. When blood sugar dips too low, you can become disoriented, confused, shaky, jittery, anxious, and irritable, and if the situation persists, you can slip into a coma and die. The body reacts to low blood sugar by producing adrenaline and releasing the carbohydrates we’ve stored as fat called glucogen. As a person recovers from hypoglycemia, he or she may need to be very careful by gradually reducing carbohydrates to a safe level.

6. What about protein? One point of caution with this “Atkin’s diet” mentality is trying to eat too much protein without the accompanying fat. By keeping protein to 20-25% of the diet, symptoms like weakness, nausea, and diarrhea can be avoided. So eat the egg whites with the yolk, don’t drain the fat after browning meat, and cook your food in loads of butter and coconut oil.

7. What about vegetables? Vegetables are broken down into carbohydrates. It takes much longer for them to be digested because they contain more water and fewer digestible carbohydrates for their weight than starches like potatoes. As a result, they will have a minimal effect on blood sugar. But this effect, however small it might be, could still be a problem for some people with severe insulin resistance or diabetes.

8. What about fruit? Gary Taubes explains that, “If we’re predisposed to put on fat, it’s a good bet that fruit will make the problem worse, not better” (p. 136).

9. But if I don’t eat any carbohydrates, won’t I get constipated? Gary Taubes states that, “It is a misconception that carbohydrate-restricted diets cause constipation” (p. 222). By adding sodium back into the diet (I advice Real Salt or bone broth), he explains that this problem can be easily handled. If not, I recommend getting some psyllium husk.

10. Fasting for 18-24 hours might work to break through plateaus of weight loss, but achieving weight loss through semi-starvation can only be maintained if the dieter can keep eating less and less food. When the body is in semi-starvation mode, the fat cells will be working hard to recoup the fat they’re losing.

In conclusion, making a major change in diet after eating the same way for a really long time can create some radical changes in the body and being able to talk to a doctor or nutritionist during this transition is advised, but Gary Taubes points out that, “physicians who tell their fat patients to eat less and exercise more, and particularly to eat the kind of low-fat, high carbohydrate diet that the authorities recommend, will not be sued for malpractice should any of those patients have a heart attack two weeks or even two months later” (p. 216). It would be nice if doctors REALLY had our best interests in mind when “guiding us”, but they are compelled to repeat the same mantra that has misled our nation into rampant obesity, heart disease, and cancer. When it comes to the nutrition for me and my family, I prefer to be an advocate for our own health, do my own research, and whenever possible let FOOD be our medicine.

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