Sunday Session – Almond butter, Slow cooker chicken, Sweet potato chips +

This Sunday I had family in town and therefore threw off my usual cooking routine. However, with a slow cooker there is always a way. This week I made a little something, something such as:

Almond Butter

Ingredients: Almonds and hazelnut oil
Method: Place a cup of almonds in a food processor. Let the almonds become rather refined and then add some oil, little by little, until the nut butter reaches a consistency you prefer.
Usage: almond butter can compliment many of things. You just have to be careful not to over consume it. This is one reason I prefer to make my own. I can make an amount that should last me at least a week. If it’s gone before the next Sunday, then it’s gone. Hmmm hence this being a staple item on my cooking list.

Slow-cooker Chicken, Mushroom, Onion, Sun-dried Tomatoes

Ingredients: Gluten free chicken stock (1/4 cup-1/2 cup), 3-4 chicken breast (I did skinless because that is what I had but it would have turned out even better with skin on), 1 yellow onion, chopped, 3 cups of sliced mushrooms, 1/2 cup – 1 cup of sun-dried tomatoes, 1 cup of green olives and spices.
Method: So easy!! Starting with the onion, place all ingredients in the slow-cooker on low and let it cook for 6 hours.
Usage: Pairs nicely with spaghetti squash, sauteed spinach or on fresh greens.

Sweet Potato Chips

Ingredients: Sweet potatoes, sea salt, coconut oil, cinnamon
Method: Slice 4 sweet potatoes in thin cylinders; the size of potato chips. Preheat the oven at 375F, toss the sliced sweet potatoes in bowl of 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil (repeat this until all of the sweet potato is coated), lay sliced sweet potatoes across the baking sheet, sprinkle over the spices and salt, flip the potatoes and repeat. Cook for 15 minutes, flip the potatoes and allow to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
Usage: Just as you would eat chips, enjoy some sweet potato chips!

Paleo Infused Breakfast Muffins

I

Ingredients: Farmer’s market eggs, prosciutto, pepper, cilantro.
Method: Line a cupcake pan with prosciutto. And make sure to be careful to completely cover the cups. If there are holes, then the Breakfast Muffin will not be able to remove as nicely as it should. Next crack an egg into each lined cup. You can leave the egg as is or mix the yolk and white together with a fork. Add spices. Cook on 400F for 25-30 minutes.
Usage: Quick and nutrient-dense breakfast on busy mornings or have one for an afternoon snack.

That’s all she wrote for me this Sunday! However, I do still have some nice pumpkin soup and green curry (seafood) in the freezer. Surely these items will come in handy towards the end of the week.

Next Sunday will be exciting as well. With some friends we have organized a Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner. We are starting the Sunday at our place at 2pm with appetizers then moving to other households for the main meal and dessert. What shall I make? I have in mind some bacon wrapped dates, maybe some sweet potato something….the list goes on! But open to some suggestions.

Cheers to you and good health, Kel

Dairy & Bone Health

For frequent viewers and those new to my site, you will know or become familiar with the notion I do not advocate a diet rich in dairy, especially not pasteurized, grain-fed, non-organic dairy. Yet, with this, common questions arise regarding the avoidance of dairy and bone health.

Firstly, bone health is more than getting enough calcium. As far as nutrition, and not even addressing the importance of anaerobic exercise, bone health encompasses proper amounts of magnesium, calcium and fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, and K2.

Some nutrient-dense food sources abundant in calcium includes dark leafy greens (kale, broccoli), bone broth, sesame seeds, dried figs, sea vegetables, to name a few. Furthermore, eating a whole food (not whole grain) diet increases your absorption rate of these important minerals. To clarify, this also mean limiting or avoiding grains. Grains contains phytates and phytates bind to the minerals we consume, reducing the overall absorption rate. So what does this mean? The nutrients listed on a bread (grain) food label will not all be absorbed. The phytates will leach to the minerals and therefore, you will have some nutrient-dense urine. Too far? Sorry.

However, the bottom-line is a diet including whole, natural food, including quality protein will make us thrive. Some people can continue eating dairy, but I do not recommend for it to be the center of our plates.

Know this, not all dairy is one in the same. Raw and grass-fed dairy products are far superior to pasteurized, homogenized,  processed, low-fat dairy. It is important to get dairy from cows raised naturally, healthily and to eat full fat dairy – that is where the naturally occurring (not fortified) vitamins A, D and K2 are found along with healthy fatty acids (CLA).

If ranked, raw dairy is the winner as far as nutrition content and overall health benefits. Second, grassfed dairy and third would be organic dairy. If you can get raw, grassfed and organic dairy, rock on! But it’s not all that easy. A few brands I recommend for patients who can handle dairy (who do not have an auto-immune condition, who do not have type 1 diabetes in their family medical history age pending and who do not have a weak digestive track) include:

  1. Noosa Yoghurt
  2. Join a CSA and get raw dairy through a farmer
  3. Natural by Nature Grassfed, Dairy Products
  4. Eat Wild Grassfed Products
  5. Trader Joes has a Raw Cheddar cheese
  6. Whole Foods has raw cheese
  7. Kerrygold butter (can be found at more supermarkets, including Trader Joes)
  8. US Wellness Meats 

Indeed, we can live and thrive without milk, cheese, cream, okay maybe not butter (or ghee from grassfed cows), but health and healthy bones include consumption of a combination of natural nutrients. The best way to help your frame is to eat foods in its natural state. Furthermore, it is not supported to supplement with calcium for recent data indicates detrimental affects on our health when doing so. (1,2,3)

Ironic enough, our country (USA) has the highest occurrence of calcium supplementation and the highest occurrence of osteoporosis. The Nurses’ Health Study followed 72,337 women for over 18 years and found that dairy intake did not reduce the risk of osteoporosis-related hip fractures.(2)

This is some food for thought, don’t you agree?

Fueling our bodies and our health with whole, unmodified food is and will always be the answer.

1. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC. Comment on the IOM Vitamin D and Calcium Recommendations. Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source, 2010.
2. Zoler ML. High Vitamin D Intake Linked to Reduced Fractures. Family Practice News, 2010(November 16, 2010).
3. Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Orav EJ, Willett, WC, et al., A Higher Dose of Vitamin D is Required for Hip and Non-vertebral Fracture Prevention: A Pooled Participant-based Meta-analysis of 11 Double-blind RCTs, in The American Society for Bone and Mineral Research 2010 Annual Meeting2010: Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
4. Tsukahara N, Ezawa I. [Calcium intake and osteoporosis in many countries]. Clin Calcium. 2001 Feb;11(2):173-7.
5. Feskanich D, Willett WC, Colditz GA. Calcium, vitamin D, milk consumption and hip fractures: a prospective study among postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2003;77(2): 504-11.

Similar articles on this topic:

Raw Milk Reality: Is Raw Milk Worth the Risk?

Raw Milk – Interview with Mary McGonigle-Martin

Drinking Raw Milk Is Worth The Risk, Advocates Say

Milk 101: Whole, Raw, Organic, Low-Fat, etc

Type 1 Diabetes Paired With a Paleo Diet

I have three main purposes for my website and one is to help educate consumers on the connection between nutrition and health, secondly to describe the philosophy of my counseling services to potential patients to distinguish it from other dietitians/nutritionists and thirdly, to act as a portal for people with type 1 diabetes and those interested in the care for type 1 diabetes to connect, communicate and learn.

That said, I am honored to share the experiences from Keith R. Runyan, MD, a physician in Florida, about his journey with type 1 diabetes.

So often I can write how the paleo diet has changed my life (diabetes), yet, when I see another fellow T1 experiencing similar things, I am inspired to share the story with my audience. Thank you Dr Runyan for allowing me to post this information and keep up the great work with your diabetes and helping your patients.

Dr. Runyan’s story goes something like this…

Background
In medical school, I learned a tremendous amount of information about anatomy, histology, embryology, physiology, biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics, as well as most of the pathologic conditions that affect mankind.  Interestingly, the topic of how nutrition influences or causes disease was lacking.  Of course, we learned about vitamin, mineral, fatty acid, and protein deficiencies and their clinical presentations, but the idea that a diet which deviates from that on which humans evolved to thrive can cause numerous major chronic diseases was not covered or adequately emphasized.  So, over most of the past 20 years, I have been treating these diseases with medications and advice to see a dietitian, thinking that the dietician would be dispensing correct information about what my patients should be eating.

In 1996, I gradually became ill with weight loss initially, then later fatigue, polyuria (excessive urination), polydipsia (excessive thirst), and diarrhea.  Through the powers of denial, of which mine were strong, I was able to ignore these symptoms and continue working.  Even though my wife, other physicians, and nurses noticed the weight loss, I continued to believe the problem would go away on its own.  Eventually, in 1998, having lost 40 lbs. from my originally normal body weight, I could no longer deny I had a problem.  I saw a physician and had some tests run.  My blood sugar was 489 mg/dL, and obviously I had diabetes mellitus, type 1 in my case.  I started on insulin that same day with resolution over the next 2 weeks of the fatigue, polyuria, and polydipsia, but the diarrhea which turned out to be caused by diabetic autonomic neuropathy involving the intestinal tract would take another two and a half years to resolve.  With treatment of the diabetes with insulin and improved blood sugar control came the onset of severe and diffuse peripheral neuropathy with pain and numbness over most of my body.  I could not decide which was worse, the whole body pain or the diarrhea up to 20 times per day.  Fortunately, I did not have eye, vascular, or kidney involvement and that remains the case today.  The neuropathic pain gradually resolved over the next year, and the neuropathic numbness gradually went away after 2-3 years.  But, I did want to discuss the difficulty I had with controlling blood sugars while following the recommendations of the ADA (American Diabetes Association).  Ever since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus in 1998, the ADA has recommended a low fat diet in line with the dietary fat-heart disease hypothesis since heart and vascular disease is the most common cause of death of the diabetic patient.  Specifically, a dietary intake of 50 – 60% of calories from carbohydrates (carbs) has been recommended, some of which may be simple sugars.  In theory, I thought this seemed plausible, since the ADA recommended counting carbohydrate grams in the diet to be balanced with insulin, in my case, or other diabetes medications (for those with type 2 diabetes).  However, after 2 years of weighing my food or otherwise calculating the grams of carbohydrates eaten with each meal, there was no significant improvement in blood sugar control and no improvement in the number or severity of hypoglycemic episodes (low blood sugars).  So, I abandoned the carb counting and just tried to keep the intake of carbs constant with each meal.  At some point along this journey, I heard about the book “Dr Richard Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution”.  I did not read the book at the time, but found out about the “drastic” reduction in carbohydrates in the diet as the main feature of his approach.  The thought of giving up so many foods that I liked did not appeal to me.  I thought the fluctuations in blood sugar, hypoglycemic episodes, and my HgbA1c values of 5.6 to 6.9% were an inevitable part of having diabetes.  In addition, I assumed that if his approach was scientifically based and clinically effective, that the medical authorities (including the ADA – American Diabetes Association) would have also embraced this approach.  But the fact that they did not, added to my reluctance.  Well, I should have looked into that more at the time and actually read his book.  In 2008, the ADA for the first time acknowledged the use of a low carbohydrate approach for the purpose of weight loss in diabetics for up to one year, based on a recent study published in the medical literature.  They did not, and have not, embraced the low carbohydrate diet for all diabetics long term.

In 2007, my wife trained for and did her first triathlon.  I watched her first triathlon race and saw how she and so many others appeared to enjoy it.  I had not exercised on any regular basis since high school and since I had a chronic disease that might be helped with exercise, I decided to give triathlon a try.  I enjoyed the exercise and having a goal to work toward gave me the motivation I needed.  After a few years of increasing the distance of the triathlon events, I contemplated doing the full ironman distance triathlon.  I started looking into how to keep my body fueled and blood sugars near normal for the 12+ hours it might take me to do such a race particularly since sugar is the primary, if not sole, fuel used by athletes during a long distance triathlon.  This is what motivated me to discover the dietary change that I am currently enjoying.

In 2011, I reexamined my diet and studied the Paleo Diet (Loren Cordain, PhD), the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet for diabetes (Richard Bernstein, MD), and the low carbohydrate ketogenic diet for athletes (Stephen Phinney, MD, PhD, Jeff Volek, PhD, RD and Eric Westman, MD).  I have combined portions of both of these diets for myself.  The essence of the low carbohydrate ketogenic approach for diabetes is as follows.  Diabetes is a disease of carbohydrate intolerance.  Carbohydrates in the diet are not essential to the diet, only protein and fat are essential.  Near elimination of carbohydrates from the diet will maximally improve diabetes control, reduce insulin doses needed to control blood sugars in type 1 or insulin dependent type 2 diabetes, and in the case of pre-diabetes or early type 2 diabetes can normalize blood sugars without medications.  See Athletes page for more details.

I transitioned to this low carbohydrate ketogenic diet to address both of my issues, namely diabetes control and fueling endurance exercise with excellent results.  My blood sugars are better controlled and hypoglycemia is quite unusual.  I have had several blood sugar readings in the range of 46 to 60 mg/dl without any symptoms of hypoglycemia.  Readings this low prior to the ketogenic diet would have caused symptoms of hypoglycemia.  On the ketogenic diet, however, these symptoms are absent presumably due to the use of ketones by the body and brain.  I am able to exercise with no apparent loss of energy or power while consuming relatively little sugar during exercise to prevent hypoglycemia.  I measure my blood sugar while exercising usually every 60 – 90 mins or if I feel my blood sugar might be low.  My blood tests have improved in the typical pattern seen on a ketogenic diet. Triglycerides decreased from an average of 76 to 65 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol increased from an average of 61 to 90 mg/dL, the triglyceride/HDL ratio decreased from 1.31 to 0.72, the calculated LDL cholesterol increased from an average of 103 to 162 mg/dL.  The hsCRP (high sensitivity C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation) decreased from 3.2 to 0.7 mg/L.  Of note, in my case, exercise did not result in a significant change in any of these lipid values, nor did niaspan or pravastatin (taken during different time frames).  The niaspan was discontinued 16 months prior to and the pravastatin was discontinued 4.5 months prior to these latest results.  Seeing that this diet actually worked for me and the scientifically proven health benefits of a well formulated low carbohydrate diet for treatment of obesity and numerous chronic diseases, I decided to add nutritional therapy to my medical practice.  In addition to review of books and literature, I am using the resources of the ASBP (American Society of Bariatric Physicians) in preparation for the board certification examination in obesity medicine (by the American Board of Obesity Medicine) in Nov. 2012.

What Does Dr Runyan Eat?
1.  Macronutrient Composition
Protein – about 0.7 grams protein per pound of body weight per day, currently 163 lbs X 0.7 = 114 grams per day.  This is close to what I ate prior to starting a ketogenic low carb diet.  This is in the range recommended for athletes (0.6 to 1.0 grams per pound of body weight per day).  I chose the lower end of this recommended range for two reasons.  First, I am doing endurance exercise rather than body building exercise and therefore need less protein.  Second, too much protein in the diet can interfere with maintaining nutritional ketosis since protein in excess of the body’s needs for production of enzymes, hormones, structural components, etc. can be converted to glucose which in turn would require more injected insulin and suppress fat burning and ketone production.  The protein in my diet comes from grass-fed beef, lamb, and pork (which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed), range-fed chicken, omega-3 enriched eggs (currently not range-fed), cheese (extra sharp cheddar, feta, and cream cheese primarily), fish (primarily wild caught Alaska salmon, but other varieties as well) and shrimp, plain Greek yogurt (10% milk fat), and nuts (primarily macadamia and pistachio).

Carbohydrates – about 40 – 50 grams carbohydrate per day.  I aim for about 30 – 40 grams from my diet, and during long exercise sessions (> 2 hrs) which generally occurs 2 days/week, I may take up to 24 grams of carbohydrate per hour while exercising to prevent hypoglycemia.  Carbohydrates in my diet come from vegetables (kale, collard greens, yellow squash, zucchini squash, brussels sprouts, lettuce, etc), and the small amount of carbohydrates contained in cheese, yogurt, nuts, cream, and 2 tbls lemon juice for salads.  I avoid all grains and foods made from grains, fruits (except tomato and avocado), potatoes, and legumes.  I take sugar (glucose) only to treat hypoglycemia or prevent it during exercise.

Fats – about 230 grams fat per day (about 100 grams saturated fat, 100 grams monounsaturated fat, 30 grams polyunsaturated fat, 6600 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 3.6 to 1, and 600 mg of cholesterol).  Fat in my diet primarily comes from meat, tallow, eggs, fish, cheese, nuts, butter, heavy whipping cream, coconut oil, olives and olive oil.

Totals Calories = (114 grams protein x 4) + (45 grams carbohydrate x 4) + (230 grams fat x 9) = 2700 calories.  From a caloric perspective, 17% of calories come from protein, 7% from carbohydrates, and 76% from fat.

2.  Micronutrient Composition
I used the USDA nutrition data tables primarily to calculate the micronutrient content of my diet.  Using the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) values for my sex and age, I compared them to my daily intake.  My diet met or exceeded the RDI values.

3.  Fiber
My daily dietary fiber intake is about 18 grams/day, which is less than the recommended 30 grams/day.  This recommended figure is based on the belief that dietary fiber will prevent colon cancer.  I believe that colon cancer is not causally related to dietary fiber, but more related to a carbohydrate predominate diet since colon cancer is one of the many diseases of Western civilization.

In summary, I have combined most of the tenets from the Paleo Diet as outlined by Loren Cordain, PhD (except for the use of some dairy products, inclusion of more fat, exclusion of fruit) with a ketogenic low carbohydrate approach as detailed by Richard Bernstein, MD which I believe is optimal for those with diabetes.  This lifestyle has resulted in the best control of my diabetes to date and has the potential to minimize the many complications of diabetes.

Keith R. Runyan, MD
6499 38th Ave N., Suite C-1
St. Petersburg, FL   33706
Phone (727)345-3908

 

10 Years Ago

I am (still) in the process of moving – staying put come October 1 – and along the way I have been doing that fun routine of going through old boxes, from who knows when, and filtering away the things that have no reason to be kept. And tonight, I came across a scrapbook from my last year in high school.

This book has pages dedicated to best friends, dances, you name it. Yet, there were a few pages with script. After reading an entry I wrote about what I have learned in life, at the age of maybe 17/18,. I surprised myself. These words and thoughts mean the same to me today, but with much more experience, successes and challenges between the years. So here goes, this is what young Kelly drafted 10 years back but still stands by today.

What I Have Learned 

One of the hardest things in life is to love everything about yourself.

From the color of your eyes, to the true person you are.

I have learned not to lose hope in my goals;

Everything that happens, happens for a reason.

I have learned to not lose faith,

Life is a lot harder without Him.

And that every day, is a new day.

I have learned to stop worrying about the small things.

The only outcomes are stress and poor health.

Smile, no matter what mood you are in, in any circumstance it always cheers you up a little bit.

Be nice to everyone you meet, you never know what they are dealing with.

Always put your best forward,

You are blessed with such talents for a reason.

Set some time aside for yourself regularly,

And not get too caught up in everyone else and forget who you are.

(May 16, 2002)

Corn Syrup in Soy Sauce?!

Getting comfortable upon our return to the US, post living in Australia for two years, I cannot help but find myself feeling “culture shock.” Maybe, “food shock” is a better term.

No doubt, I love America and the lifestyle it offers, yet, since being accustomed to daily food markets, butchers with fresh, free range meat and eggs, it is overwhelming walking into a Giant Eagle, let alone Costco these last few days.

Goodness, I bet my bank account I found a kiwi in Costco the size of a mango. How is this natural? And wow, I could literally get any cuisine I wanted in one store, regardless of the season. They had seaweed salad in Ohio! I mean this is great, but is it that great? The salad was delish but after reading the food ingredients, it lost it’s appeal seeing there were at least 3 food coloring’s in it. Why would my seaweed need to be more green? I wish we had an option.

And whereas it’s lovely to get any ingredient you want, it makes it tough to know what is truly in season. In Australia I literally bought produce by the season and made recipes accordingly. I remember one day I wanted red grapes (out of season) and the supermarket clerk looked at me like I had two heads.

Also, whilst visiting with family, my mom asked I help point out some healthier choices for her to eat/prepare for meals and I was/am more than keen to do so. This morning I began helping her by proofing her cabinet and found science experiments of ingredients. What do I mean? Some of the items in the pantry would never pass as food if it weren’t for the label or food container. I nearly fell over when I saw corn syrup in soy sauce! Why? I mean really, why? I know corn is cheap and before you know it, it is going to be found in our chewing gum. Oh wait…

I am probably coming off in this post as harsh, but the point I want to make is it’s not anyone’s fault for not knowing what is best for them to eat or feed their family with. There are so so so many mixed messages in the media and heaps of information to sort through. Most recently I had forgotten how hard marketing makes it on the regular consumer in knowing what foods to choose for health.  If you need some clarifying, I am happy to help. Send me an email and I will do my best to reply within 48 hours.

A pointer to start you off with is a line by Michael Pollan, “Eat food. Not too much. Most plants.” And sure as heck eat real butter!

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel

See You Later Hypertension

Last fortnight I was asked to participate in an online interview (article originally published on: http://www.bloodpressurecharts.net/kelly-o-connell-interview.html) about natural ways to manage high blood pressure. Not only was this request interesting but it is a topic that needs more coverage. High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a silent killer. I hate to be so blunt but there is no way around it – one in four adults (US data) have hypertension. Untreated hypertension can get ugly causing kidney damage, stroke, heart disease, dementia and more. However, with most things related to health, you can turn it around for the better. If hypertension is something you deal with personally, consider the below to incorporate with your daily routine. As always, if you need some help, feel free to contact me.

  • What supplements/foods do you recommend people with high blood pressure try, to help lower their blood pressure?

Before advising someone on what to eat and what to supplement with, I first need to understand if there is anything else going on with their health, such as diabetes, kidney disease, etc. I also want to know what medication they are taking.

Generally speaking though, I advise eating a moderately high protein and fat diet, with moderately low (less than 150 grams per day) carbohydrates. Carbohydrates should be mainly sourced from vegetables, legumes/lentils, tubers and fruit.

Important foods to consider are those rich in potassium (bananas, avocado, herbs, cocoa, nuts, and tomatoes), magnesium (pumpkin, squash, cocoa, nuts, fish), vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, cauliflower, cabbage, celery) and vitamin E (almonds, herbs, olives), omega 3 fatty acids (fatty fish like salmon or sardines) and flavonols (red wine, grapes, cocoa). Do you see a trend? I am a believer in dark chocolate/cocoa nibs and consume cocoa in one shape or another daily.

However, more important than knowing what to eat is knowing foods to cut back on, including foods high in fructose and processed foods (chips, deli meat, bread, pastries, cookies, desserts, etc).

Fructose, simply put, is a type of sugar. It is under a lot of scrutiny causing detrimental things to our health including hypertension. While the jury is still out, there is a true consensus that fructose does more harm than good. The important take away is to know what foods are high in fructose i.e. candies/lollies, cold breakfast cereals, desserts such as ice cream, cake, muffins, salad dressing, breads, pizza,crackers, canned fruit and juices with added sweeteners and more.

My recommended supplements include high-quality fish oil, a strong probiotic, magnesium twice a day, Himalayan sea salt and CoQ10. Food always comes first.

  • What are your thoughts on salt and high blood pressure? Should we be limiting salt intake or is the salt thing all blown out of proportion?

You may be surprised to hear that I do not stress salt restrictions. Processed foods should certainly get more vigilance in this space. I think overall sodium claims are blown out of proportion and certainly, I strongly advise the use of Himalayan sea salt. Overall, individuals need to self-assess how salt makes them feel. If the consumption of salt makes someone retain fluid or make their heart palpitate/speed up, then a reduced salt intake should be implemented. However, I think there are far more important actions to take than demonizing salt. Focus should zero in on stress levels, adequate sleep, exercise, eating whole foods (this does not include whole grains) and maintaining a healthy weight.

  • Not necessarily specific to high blood pressure, but what are your top 5 healthiest foods we should all be trying to eat more of, and why?

Grassfed/free range meat – protein is essential and free range meat, ideally, beef, has an optimal fatty acid ratio, up to 6 times more omega 3’s compared to the grocery store variety. Certainly, omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in every cell and system in our bodies. Beyond the nutrient profile grassfed/free range beef offers, it is a great tool for optimal health. It is satiating, protective against cancer and cardiovascular disease, has low insulinogenic properties and more.

Coconut – whether it is coconut oil, flour, cream or milk, I welcome it all. I consume this functional food daily, reaping one of the thousands of benefits it offers. In traditional medicine, coconut is used to treat a wide variety of health problems and it is so versatile to use. I make pancakes from coconut flour and milk, I cook with coconut oil, especially with eggs and coconut cream is delicious with berries.

Pumpkin – is loaded with healthy starches and it is absolutely delicious. Pumpkin is nutrient-rich, easy to make and can satisfy a sweet or savory craving. I have learned to cook pumpkin in a variety of fashions from pumpkin soup (with coconut milk and cinnamon), roasted pumpkin salad (with pine nuts, spinach, feta and homemade balsamic dressing) to pumpkin porridge (mixing puree pumpkin with eggs, nuts, and raisins).  Pumpkin can also serve as a dessert by garnishing it with spices and honey.

Free range eggs – they are one of few foods that naturally contain vitamin D and are far superior to caged eggs when it comes to nutrient content. They are rich in vitamin A and E and omega 3 fatty acids, among many other important vitamins and minerals.

Fermented foods – I am all about gut health and a happy gut, makes a good immune system. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, etc provide probiotics to our intestines. There are plenty of benefits to adding probiotics to our bodies, including protection from colon cancerrelief from lactose intolerance and diarrheareduction in cavities, and more. Improved digestion means more nutrients, vitamins, and minerals are absorbed, making you an overall healthier being.

Cheers to you and good health,

Kel
.

 

 

 

An Image of Health

I will never forget when my good friend’s mom approached me (two plus years ago) at her wedding shower and said, “Kelly you are just the image of health.”

Me, in my mind thinking, “really, do you know what my A1C looks like?!” But instead, replied to such a compliment with pleasure. It was really nice and has clearly stuck with me over the years.

So what do I think? Am I an image of health?? First begs the question, what is health?

  • I am an ideal body weight, even though I wrestle with 5 or so pounds year-round.
  • I work out a fair bit, but not too much. Maybe a pilates, spinning or yoga class a week. A session on the stair-climber with weight lighting, more weight lifting and walking (of course). I LOVE walking when time allows.
  • I do not drink my calories. My liquids usually include tea, water, more tea, long blacks (but trying to cut back because I want better sleep) and occasional diet cola. Oh, a fair share of red wine too. Can you blame me?
  • I avoid grains like the plague.
  • I try to not take life too seriously.
  • I skip legumes in my diet, well except a bluemoon craving for peanut butter.
  • I motivate others to be an advocate for their health.
  • I believe in taking risks.
  • I seek adventure (I am wearing the blue helmet).

And as far as diabetes goes:

  • I visit my Endo 3-4 times a year, as well as my dentist, ophthalmologist, optometrist and Women’s Health doc,
  • I use an insulin pump, but I do not change the infusion set every 3 days as I should. I likely change it when I get an alarm telling me the volume of insulin is low.
  • I have no idea when the last time was I changed my lancet.
  • Yet, I do test my blood sugar 6-10 times a day. Have you seen my fingers?
  • But that A1C, which is supposed to be 6 or below, is an ongoing battle, or can I say, experiment.

Thankfully for a paleo-like diet, I know what I need to do to keep a stable blood sugar. Instead of consuming grains, legumes, corn, soy, vegetable oils and dairy, I resort to high quality meats, eggs, nuts, fish, vegetables, olive oil, butter, coconut, fruit, potatoes (sweet) and white rice. The latter gives me such amazing energy and when I am diligent with my food choices, I feel great.

So going back to question, “Am I an image of health?”

Yes. Yes I am and you can be too. I am nutrient seeker, I am happy, I work hard on my diet and well-being, I count my blessings and I am passionate about helping others optimize their food choices.

Put your best foot forward today by taking care of yourself. If you need any help, that is what I am here for.

Cheers to you and good health,
Kel

Tying in Health When Traveling

This month was uber fun, yet, I have sat on an airplane more than I have laid in my own bed. With late dinners and early mornings I bank on my diet to pull me through these busy events.

I take my hat off to anyone who is a consultant and is always on the road. It is tough – routines are forgotten, meals are unplanned, and sleep…good luck. Yet, I have some go-to habits that help keep me sane including clean eating.

1. Food

You don’t always know what you are going to eat or when. If I didn’t pack my go-to travel foods, I would go on famished or even drowning myself in whatever I could get my hands on.

I always carry food on my trips, well at least all the types of food I can travel with from state to state in Australia (here you are not allowed to take fruits, vegs, meats and many other quarantined items from one state to another). While traveling I am constantly bouncing from one meeting to the next. What could be a fast food drive through, I turn into a quick stop at a park (if I am lucky) and eat something I have on hand. My travel foods include: hard boiled eggs, canned tuna in olive oil (100% olive oil), macadamia nuts, and dark chocolate. All these foods are good, nutrient-dense and satisfying. Since I can’t take vegetables from one state to another, I may pick up a salad and dress it with my tuna and hard boiled egg. If my flight is bright an early, I will again often source a hard boiled egg or two.

2. Fitness

Regardless of where I am traveling and for how long, I have a workout outfit, comfy shoes to swap out my heels for to get in a quick walk, goggles and a swimsuit. The best way to get to know a city is on foot. When a day of meetings wrap-up, I will throw on some joggers and get in some fitness before the sun goes down.

3. Fasting

If there are no good food options and my blood sugars are pleasing, I will partake in an intermittent fast. I may also do a fast when my meals are too plentiful, for example last week I was at a conference and there was a buffet breakfast, morning and arvo tea (which means coffee, tea and food), lunch and then a dinner. Grains avoided or not, I still overate and an intermittent fast gets me back on track. I usually only fast for about 14-16 hours, eating dinner then again the following day around 11am.

4. Water bottle

Staying hydrated is key. I take an empty water bottle through the security at the airport and top it off right away and continue to do so throughout the trip.

5. Sleep

It is not always a good nights sleep in a new place and new bed, but I take some decaf tea with me, along with some magnesium supplements to help wind down. I also make the bedroom as dark as I can (block the clock) and turn the thermostat on the cold side.

6. Me time

Travel can be lonely but also an awesome opportunity for some personal time. When on the road set aside time to just relax and digest any stress going on in your life. Depending on where I am, I like popping downstairs to the hotel bar and getting a nice glass of red  and get comfortable in my room by reading or catching some cable (we don’t have cable; crazy? Yes).

These are just a few things I have adapted in the last year and will continue to strive for optimal health, diet and fitness when wining and dining.

Cheers to you and good health!

Alternative Health

Perhaps “alternative medicine” is a better term since health is such a loose word, but medicine seems so intimidating and foreign.

Most recently I have been surrounding myself in some new practices – acupuncture, Chinese herbs and meditation. All of them have been great, especially since my glass is currently spilling over with stress while we are figuring out our visa situation here in Melbourne and considering a move back to the US in August. Yes, that is about 3 months away and we have no confirmed plans, nor know where we will move to or what/if I will have a job. It is no bed of roses, but I have been trying to enjoy the confusion. Oh! And I will be having jaw surgery again in July. 

Life goes on and why not try meditation and acupuncture to cope, right?

Sure enough, it has helped. I am pleasantly pleased with the outcome of both meditation and acupuncture. I think the expensive Chinese herbs could fall by the wayside though. I am not sure if I notice anything different when drinking them in dissolved warm water and I cannot fail to mention how awful they taste. Has anyone else tried them? Do you have any insight to share?

The meditation is so interesting too. It is actually funny how I got involved in this. I purchased a yoga voucher and quickly learned there was more focus on breathing, etc than downward dog poses.

However, anything I do, I try to go into it with an open mind regardless of what it is. At my first session, I sat there thinking to myself, “I know how to breath, why do I need someone to tell me to take a deep breath and scan my body while listening to some weird sounds?” But gosh by golly! By the end of each session I feel pretty content. I have since been, a handful of times, and plan on continuing some sessions every month. Overall, I have realised I handle stress better, I go with the flow better and live in the moment a bit more.

I highly recommend meditation and suggest doing it at least a few times. It is a great way to shut off any chaos in your life and feel more comfortable in your own skin. 

Now onto acupuncture – why did I try this out?

Besides Robb Wolf preaching how great it is among many other health advocates, I wanted to reduce my hay-fever symptoms (I take anti-histamines every day and want to wean that down), try something new and see what it did for my diabetes (type 1). On a side note, I strive to eat paleo every day but sometimes that does not happen. When it doesn’t I often see fluctuations in my blood sugars and pay for it. So overall, I wonder what acupuncture can do for my cravings, circulation and over blood sugar stabilisation.

So far, things feel pretty good. After session one I felt engerized and invigerated. It’s not everyday someone sticks a needle in the top of your head and forehead wrists and tummy. I have session two this weekend and look forward to what differences, if any, I feel. I will be sure to provide an update on anything surprising.

Overall, the prices for alternative medicine are a little high, but I think they are worth it. They are natural and a new approach for caring for yourself. I am personally all about touting the benefits of a good diet and often forget the other sides of health including stress, sleep, movement, and fertility. These alternative health practices have helped me bring my well-being full circle.

Cheers to you and good health!

No Excuses

Whether or not you are on the Dukan Diet, the Paleo Diet, Weight Watchers or Fast Food only, you are in the power of your own well-being  No one can defend your health better than yourself. Not your doctor, not your partner, husband or wife and not your mother. You know your body better than anyone and you cannot neglect the opportunity to feel your best, perform your best, sleep your best and be your overall best person. Clearly it is not easy, yet, the overall effort is well worth it.

If you think you could tweak your state of health in any way (diet, fitness, sleep, stress), I empower you to make change now. If time is the problem, start small by adding a little more fitness in your day, staying hydrated, putting aside time for enough sleep, surrounding yourself in a positive environment and more.

Everyone’s needs are different including fitness patterns and eating regimes. Yet, it is not as clear to know what exactly works for our individual DNA. This takes a conscious effort to understand and time.

If I could offer one piece of advice on diet, it is to do a personal experiment to figure out what food ingredients make you feel your best. How? There are various ways of doing this but the quickest results can be revealed with a modified elimination diet. This includes the removal of dairy, legumes and/or grains (including all sugar) from your diet for 3-6 weeks. If this is too much, try removing just one of the 3 food groups listed above.

Am I crazy? Yes. But I care about your health just as much as mine. I certainly get push-back with this modified diet idea but, more often than not, by the end there is always some sort of success through the transition.

Are you on-board to give this a shot?

Maybe some background information can serve as inspiration. Once upon a time I attended a convention, Food As Medicine, put on by many credible health and medical experts. During the seminar, at some level, the practitioners preached a gluten and dairy free diet. As a registered dietitian I sat in my chair taking notes thinking 1) “These doctors have to be nuts, who would avoid whole grains and cheese? And, 2) “Thank goodness I am not intolerant to these foods, I can never imagine living without them.”

Fast-forward to today – if I had as much of a crumb of bread I am put out for at least 2 days. I may bloat, I get skin blemishes, I become depressed (and I am happy person), I get endless food cravings, sleep disturbances and my blood sugars become unbearable to control. On the flip-side  my diabetes is much more stable on a gluten free, dairy free and legume free diet AND I require less than half of the insulin I needed on a ‘balanced diet’. This is amazing, especially since many endocrinologists find type 1 diabetics require more insulin with age. Most days I average 9 units of basal insulin (Novolog) and thinking back to my high school days, I used to require 20-24 basal units of insulin per day. I am also 10 years older since I graduated from high school.

Regardless of present symptoms or lack of, these foods (dairy, gluten, legumes (lectins)) can cause inflammation in our bodies, which simply leads to bad things and poor health outcomes. Three to six weeks of an elimination diet can help put the proof in the pudding and help you understand what really makes you feel your best.

This personal inclusion is to help demonstrate how food can affect us. Proponents of a ‘balanced diet’ of whole grains, low fat dairy and legumes, argue that consumption of novel Neolithic and Industrial era foods is responsible for the current epidemic levels of obesity, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer in the US and other contemporary Western populations.[1]

Have a think about it. This is just an idea for anyone looking to feel better and better manage blood sugar levels.

If you think it is something you want to give a shot, it is important to be strict for the whole 3 weeks (at least), allowing for no variables. Once the 21  or 42 days expire, slowly add in any of the restricted foods you have missed and ask yourself how you feel. If you notice any intolerance, reach for many other nutrient dense foods like seasonal vegetables, grass fed meat, seafood, coconut milk, nuts, seeds, berries, dark chocolate, fruit and more.

Food is one of the best pleasures in life; just make sure the choices you make are worth it.

Cheers to you and good health! If you need any help. that is what I am here for. There are no excuses in neglecting your own well-being.

 

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paleolithic-style_diet