Many people use the new year as a time to focus on eating healthy. It is a great goal, but all the nutrition advice can make it difficult to know where to start. One health “expert” says one thing, while another says the exact opposite. So, who do you believe and where do you start?
As I’ve researched nutrition and studied functional medicine, I’ve drawn my own conclusions based on research. Some of it went in direct conflict with what I had always been taught. But as a doctor, I need to follow the research, not just someone’s opinion.
With that in mind, I think the one change that can make a huge difference in your health is to drastically reduce the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in your diet. This may come as a surprise to some of you, but there is a compelling case for this that can’t be ignored.
Let’s look at these oils, what they do in the body, and how to avoid them.
What are PUFA’s
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are unsaturated fats made up of a chain of hydrogen and carbon. This type of unsaturated fat has two or more double bonds in this chain. This structure is less stable than other oils and can create many problems.
PUFAs are vulnerable to light, heat, and even oxygen. These vulnerabilities can lead to damage that leads to oxidization. When we have oxidized fats, we are ingesting free radicals which leads to inflammation. PUFAs are high in Omega-6 which also leads to inflammation.
Inflammation is extremely damaging to the body, contributing to nearly every chronic health condition you can think of (diabetes, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, mental health issues, cognitive decline, dementia, obesity, etc.).
Which Oils to Avoid
When we talk about oils, all of them contain a blend of various types of fatty acids. They have a varying percentage of mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), saturated fatty acids, and sometimes even trans fatty acids. I am actually totally fine with saturated fatty acids for most people. My recommendation is to remove the oils that tend to have the highest percentage of PUFAs and of course trans fatty acids.
Take a look at the oils below (PUFAs are in blue). Think about where you can make some changes by switching a higher-level PUFA for a lower one. It is especially important to consider this when cooking.
Could you cook with butter or coconut oil instead of vegetable (soy) oil? Would lard be an acceptable exchange for seed or nut oils? Just changing a little thing can make a big difference.
Read more ...
You may be familiar with vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C, but what about magnesium? As important as magnesium is, it doesn't get the recognition it deserves. Magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body (1) and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body (2).
It does so much in the body and not having enough can lead to all sorts of problems. However, since our soil is so depleted our food is depleted too. Because it is difficult to get through our diet, it is important to be intentional about getting enough magnesium.
Let’s look at the important function it has in the body and learn the best way to see if you are getting enough.
Why Magnesium is Important
Magnesium is important for many systems and functions in your body including:
- nervous system regulation
- muscle function
- energy production
- blood glucose levels (3)
- blood pressure (4)
- inflammation (5)
- brain function - depression and anxiety (6, 7)
- sleep (8, 9)
- heart health
- protein formation
- immune system function
- heart health (10)
- creating and repairing DNA and RNA
It is also beneficial in treating preeclampsia, migraine, depression, coronary artery disease, and asthma (11).
Do You Have Enough
In spite of how important this mineral is 50% of U.S. adults get less than the recommended daily allowance (12). Many of us in the functional medicine world believe that people generally need much more than the RDA daily amount.
In fact, I find that many patients do well working up to taking 5x’s their body weight in mg of magnesium each day (so a 150 lb. person would work up to supplementing with 750 mg of magnesium). Remember that magnesium is a powerful mineral and building up too fast can cause unwanted side effects.
Read more ...
Are you wanting to create a Thanksgiving menu with all real, unprocessed, nourishing food but wonder if it will taste good? It is absolutely possible to make a great meal using healthy whole foods.
If you are unsure how to create your menu, here are several variations of the typical Thanksgiving fare that include only unprocessed real food ingredients!
If you aren't quite ready to switch all your recipes over that's okay, start with one or two. I think once you see how tasty these recipes are, you will be inspired to try some more in the following years.
You may be surprised that when you use these recipes you actually feel good after feasting, instead of the standard post thanksgiving lethargy. Enjoy!
Easy Roasted Turkey with Sage Butter
Butterflied Turkey Recipe (with tutorial)
Sausage, Apple and Cranberry Stuffing
Paleo Comfort Foods - Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole:
Paleo Green Bean Casserole
Sweet Potato Casserole:
Sweet Potato Casserole
Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Mash
3 Ingredient Cranberry Sauce
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon
Beautiful Brussels Sprouts (with onion and squash)
Butternut Squash Risotto
Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"
We'd love to hear about your favorite Thanksgiving recipes that use real unprocessed ingredients. Please share recipes and photos on our Facebook page. Let us know how it went for you.
This blog was originally put together by Dr. Jamie's sister Joelle Kurczodyna. She has completed her certification in Nutritional Therapy (NTP), is a mom of 3 kids, and has a wonderful homestead with 2 cows, more than 20 chickens, and grows lots of vegetables! To learn more about the awesome things she and her family are up to, follow her on Instagram at @fromscratchfarmstead.
Dr. Jamie and Joelle Kurczodyna
Are you taking a good quality multivitamin to get all the nutrients you need? If so, you may be surprised to find out that I’m NOT a fan of multivitamins.
I’m sure this isn’t what you expected to hear. It is contrary to the common belief; it is even contrary to what I used to believe.
There are some real concerns with multivitamins. Many are ineffective, but they could actually be doing more harm than good.
So, what are you supposed to do to get the nutrients that might be missing in your diet? Let’s take some time to explore this issue and find a better alternative.
Concerns with Multivitamins
Here are a few of my grievances with synthetic multivitamins.
- Nutrients in multivitamins are often in a form that our bodies can't use at all, can't use well, or don't act the same way in your body as they would in their natural form.
- Nutrients are not balanced properly so they can not work together in the synergistic way they were intended.
- Some nutrient levels are actually too high. More is not always better as this can leave our bodies with more to process and deal with unnecessarily.
- Some nutrient levels are too low, leaving the body still depleted.
Why Balance is so important
Nutrients are affected by other nutrients. Here are just a few examples:
- Supplementing with Zinc can deplete copper
- Too much Ascorbic Acid (the common supplemental form of Vitamin C) can lead our bodies to dump Copper
- Too much vitamin D supplementation can drive down our Retinol (Active Vitamin A)
- Too much Calcium supplementation can drive down Magnesium
Bottom line, if you are getting too much of a nutrient, it can change the levels of other nutrients. Nutrients work together (which is how they are also found in nutrient dense food!)
What should you take instead?
So, if taking a multivitamin is off the table, what should you do instead? Let’s look to nature because it knows how the body was designed and what it needs to thrive. Beef liver acts like nature's multi-vitamin! It is rich in SO MANY real food forms of vitamins and minerals that are easy for your body to absorb.
Read more ...
It's time to dress up and enjoy a spooky evening! While we want to enjoy the holiday, we don’t want to regret our choices afterward.
Halloween is the day of the year most known for excessive candy intake. In fact, 35 million pounds of candy are consumed on Halloween. Children on average consume a whopping 3.4 lbs. of candy in that one day.
With candy everywhere, what are we to do? With a few tricks, you can enjoy some treats without falling prey to too much sugar. You might not be able to follow all of these tips, but implementing a few of them might keep you from going candy crazy!
Lunch, & Dinner
Make sure to eat a good healthy lunch and dinner so you are full and satisfied! There’s a common practice among people who want to indulge on a special occasion. It involves eating less throughout the day, so you save your calories for the event. This is the worst thing you can do on Halloween!
If you are passing out candy or trick-or-treating on an empty stomach you will likely end up eating way more candy than you would if you nourish your body all day. It is also important to eat healthy meals because you need protein to balance out the candy and help regulate your blood sugar.
Read the Ingredients
When choosing a sweet treat, look at the ingredient list. If the list is long or if it contains a lot of words you don’t understand, you may want to think twice. Reading ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, and hydrogenated oils reminds me that it is NOT REAL FOOD after all.
A colleague told me that when they see poor ingredients in processed food (i.e. a Snickers Bar), they view it more like an object (i.e. their spiral notebook) rather than food. I don't know if I am quite there yet, but I'm working on it.
Rethink Handing out Candy
Now, I don’t want you to be known as the grinch house that passes out toothbrushes, but consider passing out something besides candy at your house. Get creative and you could even become one of the coolest houses on the block.
I remember one of my favorite houses to trick or treat at growing up had a jar of foreign coins. The top of the jar was small, but you were allowed to take anything you could grab between your fingers. Small hands could grab more than big hands. It was fun to see the foreign currency and figure out what country it was from.
Read more ...
I am not one to promote quick fixes or miracle cures. If you know me at all, you know that I am all about helping people to eat more real and nutrient-dense foods.... however, there have been 2 things that I have implemented this year that I feel have made a huge impact on my health. One of these is the Carrot Salad.
I am going to tell you something that is probably way too much information for some of you, but for me, the combination of the adrenal cocktail plus the carrot salad is the one thing that helped me move from more constipation to much better BMs.
Did you know that carrots can have a huge impact on your health? It’s true! In fact, many people eat a carrot salad every day for the health benefits.
According to Dr. Ray Peat, who has a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Oregon, the fibers in raw carrots clean the intestine and improve your gut health. You may think this to mean carrots are like any other fiber that is good for your digestion, but it’s so much more complex.
Let’s take a look at the full impact a daily intake of carrots can make on your health and find out some delicious ways to incorporate them into your diet.
What Does it Help?
The three main things that Peat recommends eating raw carrots daily for are digestive health, thyroid function, and hormonal balance. While these conditions may seem pretty isolated and specific, difficulty in any of them can lead to all kinds of serious health problems.
He admits that “it might sound stupid to recommend raw carrots for severe health problems, such as chronic inflammation, liver problems, and hormonal imbalances.” However, when you understand the connection between the gut and the overall health of the body, it begins to make sense.
Let’s look at the Gut
Gut health affects more than just the digestive system in your body. The immune, neurological, and cardiovascular systems are all impacted by your gut.
- Immune system - Many people believe that 70% of your immune system lives in your gut and that having an appropriate balance of bacteria is crucial for your immune system to function properly. An overgrowth of bacteria or fungus can disrupt the balance in the gut leading to a depressed immune response.
- Brain - Your gut also impacts your brain in a direct way. Imbalances in the gut can lead to anxiety and depression. In the same way, stress can lead to gut troubles. If you question the connection, just think about the butterflies people get when they are excited or nervous. The brain and gut work together and impact each other in many ways.
- Heart - Gut health even affects your heart. According to Women’s Health Arizona, “certain types of gut bacteria convert the nutrient, choline, into a problematic substance called trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO, for short). Unfortunately, elevated levels of TMAO can contribute to a higher risk of stroke, blood clots, and other conditions.”
Read more ...