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Defending the Borders Part II

Avoiding what destroys your protective force of beneficial bacteria in your gut.

This month we want to focus on how to recognize all of the threats to Your Body Nation and ways to avoid them. Keep in mind that your gut microflora, when properly balanced and healthy, will contain mostly beneficial bacteria, but will also always have a small amount of pathogenic (disease-causing) microbes.

Unfortunately, a product of eating and breathing is bringing in some of the bad guys. Like our nation and our communities, there will always be a presence of the harmful microbes. The goal is to have your strong protective force of probiotics in place to manage, control, and prevent the harmful ones from flourishing. So as you build your strong protective force for Your Body Nation, the next two steps are to:

1) avoid what destroys your protective force of beneficial bacteria.

2) avoid giving the pathogenic bacteria (the bad guys) food and fuel to grow.

Here are the specifics:

1) Avoiding the Killers

When you look at the list of probiotic killers, you will appreciate the toll our fast paced, highly advanced technological society is having on human health. Carefully examine the list. Avoid everything that you can by making lifestyle changes. Minimize exposure to the others as much as you can and then keep taking your probiotics and consuming fermented foods to replace what you cannot control losing.

Here are the enemies:

  • Antibiotics and Antibacterials – think big in this arena. The obvious killers are prescription antibiotics but antibiotics are also found in grain fed beef and other Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) used in the meat processing industry. It also includes all milk used to make dairy products where the cows have been fed antibiotics as well. Another sneaky place is in household cleaning or personal care products that claim to have antibacterials in them. A common one to watch for is Triclosan, found in hand soaps and toothpaste.
  • Steroids (especially long term use)
  • Birth Control Pills
  • Radiation – X-rays, microwaves, chemotherapies, cell phones, computers
  • Splenda (aka Sucralose) – this is the most common artificial sweetener used in most of the “sugar free” foods today from soft drinks, sugar free cookies, ice creams, and bread products as well as in many protein drinks and food bars.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) – the most common are soy, corn, cottonseed, canola, and summer squash. Genetically modified organisms don’t technically kill your favorable gut bacteria, but rather genetically alter them, causing gene silencing, which can shut down our own physiology. Epidemiological patterns show there’s an identical rise in over 30 human diseases correlated with our increased use of glyphosate and the increased prevalence of genetically engineered proteins in our foods. *
  • Chlorine – watch for it in tap water used in drinking, bathing, washing clothes, and also in swimming pools and hot tubs.
  • Flouride – tap water, toothpaste, dental gels, some pharmaceuticals (e.g. Cipro), non-organic grape juices and wines (vineyards use a pesticide called cryolite with high levels of fluoride) and black and green teas (especially bottled and instant varieties made from older leaves which contain highest levels of fluoride).

2) Stop Feeding the Pathogens

The second step is to keep the pathogenic bacteria and yeast that normally inhabit your gut from growing out of control. Routine exposure to the following is like giving ammunition to the enemy. Here are the key items that promote and encourage the overgrowth of pathogenic (bad) bacteria in the gut.

  • High carbohydrate diets, especially from highly processed foods that include grains (wheat, corn and rice), potato, sugars, some chemicals. This translates into most of our bread and bakery products, cereals, pasta, chips, snack foods and fast foods.
  • Sugar, in all forms
  • Dairy products, especially fat free and reduced fat (thus high in lactose, also known as milk sugar) as well as sweetened yogurts, ice creams, and puddings.
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Stress (take steps to cope better, learn to relax, get exercise and quality sleep)

Now that you know what your looking for, you are well equipped to protect your Body Nation from the enemy and keep your own military force strong and in full control.


By |2014-06-27T09:17:05-06:00June 27th, 2014|Articles, General|

Health Benefits of Fermenting Foods

Fermentation, or culturing, is the conversion of carbohydrates to organic acids using a combination of favorable bacteria under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions.    These microorganisms protect the food from pathogenic bacteria and mold and when eaten, also repopulate the gut lining with these same favorable bacteria.

An age-old practice in many cultures around the world, traditionally fermented foods provide many benefits to human health.  The favorable bacteria in fermented foods, in combination with the slightly acidic environment created by them, deter the growth of pathogenic bacteria and can destroy super bugs currently resistant to most antibiotics.  Fermented foods also help to balance the production of stomach acid by increasing the acidity of gastric juices if stomach production is inadequate or helping to protect the stomach and intestinal lining when too much acid is produced.  Fermented foods also help the body to produce acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps with the movement of the bowel, thus alleviating constipation.  It also helps to improve the release of digestive juices and enzymes from the stomach, pancreas and gallbladder, thus acting as powerful digestive aids.

The good news is that with a little practice, just about anyone can master the simple practice of fermenting food.  You can enhance the health benefits of your food at considerable savings over purchasing traditionally fermented foods from farmer’s markets, health food stores and on line sources.

There are many great resources to learn how to ferment foods.  One very good resource is www.culturesforhealth.com where you can find out about all the many ways to ferment foods in traditional ways as well as using starter cultures, supplies and u-tube instructions and great recipes.  Today’s recipe ideas come from this web page as well as the product used to ferment the foods.  One of the best cookbooks available for old world cooking including the art of fermentation is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig.

Just about any food can be fermented but vegetables are one of the easiest places to start.  It is a very simple 3 step process of 1) choosing and chopping fresh organic vegetables, 2) creating the right liquid or brine, which is where the cultures are located, (usually water or celery juice with salt or a starter culture) and 3) properly packing the vegetables into a glass jar with the liquid brine and then allowing the fermentation to occur.

To help make it even simpler, today in our recipe corner we are recommending ways to ferment store bought foods by purchasing a vegetable starter culture (recommended brands listed below) and adding it to whole, all natural or organic store-bought food such as hummus, unsweetened applesauce or salsa.

We hope you will take the challenge and give fermented foods a try.  Here are some traditionally fermented vegetables available in grocery stores and on line:

  • www.immunitrition.com sells homemade fermented vegetables
  • Bubbies, Cortland Valley Organic and Farmhouse Culture are three reliable brand names to look for in better and whole food grocers.  You can also search on line for stores that carry them or in some cases, buy them direct from the producer.
  • Visit local farmer’s markets and natural health food stores for more resources and producers of traditionally fermented foods.
  • To purchase starter cultures consider Mercola Kinetic Culture, Body Ecology’s Culture Starter or Caldwell’s Vegetable Starter Culture.

At a minimum, buy a culture and try fermenting some of your store bought options.  You can’t beat fermented foods as a source for your favorable gut bacteria.  Many respected sources claim that several ounces of fermented vegetables consumed each day contain as many beneficial bacteria as a full bottle of a probiotic supplement!  It is time to build your military force and protect Your Body Nation.

By |2014-05-31T13:59:56-06:00May 31st, 2014|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|

Overcoming Depression Is A Balancing Act

Overcoming Depression

by Nancy Mehlert, MS

We often refer to the Standard American Diet as “SAD” and it really is – it is a very depressing diet!  The suggested food plate and previous food pyramid have led Americans into eating a very inflammatory and congesting diet of fast and processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, chemical preservatives and dyes, MSG, grains, and grain fed meats. We live fast and don’t take time to figure in fresh vegetables, fruits, and undamaged, healthy fats which should make up the largest part of our diet and benefit our overall health more than any other foods.  And layer on top of that the toxic nature of our water, another fundamental aspect of our nutrition, and we are in depression trouble. Eating this SAD diet quickly leads to nutrient depletion and inflammatory diseases.  Our body is no longer in balance; it becomes overwhelmed with a lack of nutrients and an excess of inflammation. Nutrient depletion in and of itself is a known cause of depression.

The human body needs balance.  It is made to function optimally when everything is working in proper balance.  Depression occurs when there is an inadequate supply of our “happy” brain chemical called serotonin.  Many aspects of our dietary habits can inhibit the successful production of serotonin.  Sugar in general and high fructose corn syrup specifically is one such culprit.  Fructose and high sugar diets have been shown to degrade the availability of tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin.  As a result, there is barely any tryptophan available to the body for the production of serotonin.  Sugar, especially fructose has also been shown to suppress activity of a key growth hormone called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor) that promotes healthy brain neurons.  BDNF levels are consistently low in depressed individuals.

A more complex issue arises with aspartame (eg. Nutrasweet and Equal) and monosodium glutamate.  These neurotoxins interrupt the balance between neurotransmitters in the brain, thus promoting depression.

There is something out of balance about 6-11 servings a day of grain.  At a minimum, if you happen to be able to make time to eat three times a day, you’d need to eat two servings of grain at every meal in order to meet the minimum recommendation.  Gluten, found in the grains wheat, rye and spelt, is another food that can block the production of critical brain neurotransmitters including serotonin and has been demonstrated to be especially problematic for those with gluten allergies or sensitivities.

More recent research into the balance of healthy bacteria in the small and large intestines has also revealed that in truth, more of our serotonin is made in the gut lining than in the brain.  This critical neurotransmitter, which we usually call a “brain chemical” is actually a “gut chemical”!  But this fact reveals that having a healthy gut full of favorable bacteria and not overcome by yeast, parasites or pathogens is mission critical to resolving depression.  The gut is the human body’s second brain and its health is highly correlated to brain health.  A healthy gut is a healthy brain.  Balancing gut flora, sealing a leaky gut and addressing unwelcomed inhabitants is a primary step in resolving depression.  Unwelcome gut inhabitants prosper and grow well on processed and sugary foods, but are not especially fond of fresh vegetables and healthy fats!

Overburden the body with anything and balance is lost.  What do water, toothpaste and anti-depressants all have in common? Fluoride!  It is added to over two-thirds of our nation’s water supply and is in all of our basic toothpaste products as well as found in anti-depressant drugs!  Yet it is a known endocrine (ie: hormone) disruptor and especially impacts the thyroid, which is essential to good mental health.  Depression is a common symptom of endocrine malfunction and we ingest considerable levels of fluoride through the water we drink and bathe in, to the toothpaste we put in our mouths, to the prescription drugs we take, and this imbalance creates havoc.

Bottom Line:  When it comes to nutrition and overcoming or avoiding depression:

  • Eliminate sugar from your diet and limit intake of fresh fruits
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners, especially Aspartame that is found in common brands such as NutraSweet and Equal.
  • Eliminate gluten from your diet especially if you are allergic to gluten or sensitive to it.  Regardless, we recommend trying a gluten elimination diet for several weeks to see if it helps you to feel better over all. Gluten is highly associated with many diseases.
  • Avoid monosodium glutamate normally found in fast foods and processed foods and also know as MSG.  Be careful to avoid other names for MSG which include hydrolyzed vegetable protein, textured vegetable protein, yeast extract, Torula yeast, just to name a few.
  • Be a detective and find out all the ways you are ingesting fluoride and begin to trade for fluoride free options.  Household water can be filtered to remove fluoride, many fluoride free toothpastes exist on the market today and try our supplement suggestion in this newsletter instead of an anti-depressant (be sure to consult a physician before stopping an antidepressant medication)

Pursuing a whole food diet, rich in vegetables, herbs, spices, undamaged natural fats such as those found in pastured eggs and butter, Pacific salmon, nuts and seeds, coconut oil, and olive oil can help to bring balance to the inner workings of the human body and ward off and overcome depression.

By |2014-05-02T11:39:59-06:00May 2nd, 2014|Articles, General, NANCY’S NUTRITIONAL NUGGET|