Category Archives: Book Reviews

Mythbusting Ideas About Fat and Cholesterol and Wellness Wednesday

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cholesterol collage titles

I’ve started reading Grain Brain by neurologist David Perlmutter. The focus of the book is brain health. Have you ever heard that there’s a connection between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease? This book shows you that connection as well as many other lifestyle causes of neurological disease and dementia.

Grain Brain also lays out just what lifestyle choices people are making that can lead to developing Alzheimer’s disease. These include living with chronic high blood sugar levels (those in the “high normal” range) even without diabetes, eating too many carbohydrates (especially refined ones), trying to eat a low fat and low cholesterol diet, and having an undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten. Dr. Perlmutter says up to 40% of all people can’t properly process gluten.

Even if you have a family history of brain disease and Alzheimer’s or dementia you can turn the train around. But he says you have to bust a few myths first. The biggest myths you have to wrap your head around? 1- a low-fat/high-carb diet is good and 2- cholesterol is bad. According to the results of the Framingham Heart Study report from 2005 “people who had the highest cholesterol levels scored higher on cognitive tests than those with lower levels. Evidently there is a protective factor when it comes to cholesterol and the brain.” What most people don’t realize is that cholesterol is a building block for cell membranes and a critical brain nutrient necessary to fuel your neurons.

For more great information on cholesterol you can also read Jimmy Moore’s recent book, Cholesterol Clarity. I reviewed that book here.

Do you avoid fat? What have you always heard about cholesterol? How hard is it going to be to change your habits? Leave us a comment with your thoughts, and then check out the other posts here at Wellness Wednesday.

Wellness Wednesday starts here

Book Review: The Paleo Cure – Wellness Wednesday

paleo cure book cover with titles
Welcome to another edition of Wellness Wednesday! Today I’m sharing a book review of Chris Kresser’s Paleo Cure. Below the book review you’ll find links to last week’s featured Wellness Wednesday articles plus a link to add your own to this week’s blog hop!

The Paleo Cure by Chris Kresser
“Eat Right for Your Genes, Body Type, and Personal Health Needs; Prevent and Reverse Disease; Lose Weight Effortlessly; Look and Feel Better Than Ever”

Author Chris Kresser is an Integrative and Functional Medicine Practitioner with a practice in Berkeley, CA. He also runs the popular health website and hosts the Revolution Health Radio podcast. This book was originally published in hardback under the title Personal Paleo Code in December 2013. The paperback version carries the updated title, but both books are identical otherwise.

The introductory chapter bears a bold title: “This Book Can Save Your Life”. I suppose he makes this nervy statement to grab your attention right away – “This book is no ordinary diet book,” he seems to say. In many ways he is right, because this book does not advocate the One Single Way to be healthy, and as you work your way through the chapters you are repeatedly encouraged to trust yourself, listen to your body, and go at your own pace.

“Here’s the truth: There is no single formula to follow that will guarantee you perfect health in three weeks – or seven days, or any other arbitrary number you find on the bestseller list. As seductive as that sounds, it just doesn’t work that way. The only formula I want to give you is the formula for figuring out how not to follow a formula! If my clinical experience treating patients has taught me one thing, it’s this: there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet and lifestyle. After all, the fossil record indicates that not all Paleolithic people ate the same way. So why should we expect a single program to be the perfect fit for everybody?”

I love the early chapters that give dietary examples of traditional cultures such as the Inuit or Aboriginal Australians. It was refreshing to read a logical explanation of what it means for a food to be nutrient dense, and I was glad to see that diet was not the only focus, but that exercise, gut bacteria, stress management, healthy sleep, correct sun exposure and social connections were also addressed as being equally important factors in a healthy life.

I enjoyed the real-world stories from patients who found healing using The Paleo Cure. In addition to Chris’ personal story we read about a woman with diabetes and high blood pressure, a young man crippled by Crohn’s disease, an elderly woman with mobility issues and brain fog, a 20-something woman with thyroid disease, a woman unable to get pregnant, a middle-aged man with constipation, another who was struggling with depression, a corporate VP with chronic skin issues – all of these people and many more were able to find healing using the protocols outlined within the pages of this book.

Chris unapologetically challenges conventional wisdom. Instead of going with the flow, he looks at the evidence provided in quality research, and applies a good measure of critical thinking skills. You will find real information on saturated fat, cholesterol, eggs, red meat, and other controversial foods revealed in this book. I especially appreciated the charts on various kinds of fats to use and to avoid.

The 3 steps to discovering your own personal diet/lifestyle solution for health.

#1 begins with a Thirty-Day Reset which removes the major offenders in causing weight, allergies, and other health problems. This is the most strict portion of the diet, and yet after more than a week following this with myself and my husband, I have yet to feel deprived or hungry, instead I’m feeling pretty good!

#2 allows you to slowly reintroduce healthy foods that may work for you such as white potatoes, dairy, or certain grains. If you find yourself feeling sick again this is your clue to remove the offenders again. If they work, then you are one step closer to building your own personalized health plan.

#3 guides you through the final steps of tweaking the diet so it works just the way you need it to, but it is also the time where you address the remainder of your lifestyle decisions including stress management and sleep.

The Paleo Cure includes a Seven-Day meal plan with recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner compliant with the 30-Day Reset. As a bonus there are also three more weeks of menus available online. In addition to the extra menus the online bonus materials include entire chapters addressing specific health topics such as leaky gut or adrenal fatigue. More online bonus material includes a guide to supplements, links to sources for healthy meats, snacks, and Paleo-friendly doctors. There is also a forum section where you can start up a conversation with others also working through the diet.

Now it’s your turn. Tell us your favorite post from last week’s Wellness Wednesday, leave a link to your own blog, or use the social media buttons at the top to share with your friends!

Cranberry Orange Coconut Flour Muffins

cranberry orange coconut flour muffin resized titlesEver since the kids were little and we were doing Five In A Row as part of our homeschooling, I’ve had a craving for cranberry bread every time Thanksgiving rolls around. One of our favorite books from FIAR was Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. “At the edge of a lonely cranberry bog in New England and the winds were cold at the edge of the sea” lived Grandmother and Maggie. Every Thanksgiving they would each invite someone to share dinnerCranberry Thanksgiving book cover with them. This time around, however, Grandmother does not approve of Mr. Whiskers, Maggie’s guest. He behaves suspiciously and when the secret family recipe for cranberry bread just happens to disappear he is the first one Grandmother suspects.

I love the message of the story, that we cannot judge someone by outward appearances, but rather it is what is on the inside that makes someone a precious friend. I also love that at the end of the book they actually share Grandmother’s recipe for cranberry bread!

So here I sat, gray skies threatening rain and me in want of cranberry bread with a hint of orange and sweetness giving fragrance to the gloomy day.  But having put myself on a gluten-free diet I couldn’t make the traditional recipe from the book. Thanks to the Radiant Life free e-book on cooking with coconut flour I was confident and inspired enough to translate the tangy sweet flavors of Grandmother’s recipe into the perfect little gluten-free cranberry muffin. Even my husband, who is not a fan of coconut flour and frequently sighs longingly after the good ol’ days of gluten, said these were great and he could definitely have them again soon!

Cranberry Orange  Coconut Flour Muffins

6 eggs

1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil

3 Tablespoons of buttermilk

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest (use organic oranges for this)

1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 12 cup muffin tin.

In a food processor, blend the eggs, butter, buttermilk, maple syrup, and vanilla until well mixed. Add the orange zest, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coconut flour. Blend until there are no lumps. Add the cranberries and pulse just until they are chopped.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin – use about 1/4 cup per each. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until the tops are just golden and they begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for about 3 minutes before you remove them to a cooling rack. Serve warm with plenty of butter and a little raw honey if desired.

Cranberry Orange Coconut Flour Muffins
Recipe type: quick bread
Serves: 12
Inspired by Grandmother's secret cranberry bread recipe in the book Cranberry Thanksgiving
  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup melted coconut oil or butter
  • 3 Tablespoons buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh orange zest
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, washed
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and butter a 12 cup muffin tin.
  2. In a food processor, blend eggs, coconut oil, buttermilk, maple syrup, and vanilla until well mixed.
  3. Add orange zest, baking powder, baking soda, salt and coconut flour and blend until there are no lumps.
  4. Add the cranberries and pulse until they are just chopped.
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin tin using about ¼ cup per each.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until just golden on top and firm to the touch.
  7. Cool in the pan about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove gently to a cooling rack.

cranberries resized precious friend titles

What are your favorite foods this time of year? What one thing do you crave at Thanksgiving? Share with us by leaving a comment, or replying on Facebook.

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Your Homeowners Association Doesn’t Want You to Read These Two Books

In an ideal world my family and I would be living on five to ten acres with room for one or two of each kind of fruit-bearing tree or bush that could possibly grow in this climate. I’d have a large vegetable garden plus another for herbs and flowers. In reality we live in a little neighborhood in suburbia on a 1/5 acre lot with neighbors on both sides. Our location seems ideal for a small family; less than half an hour drive to Disney or the beaches. We’ve managed to make connections with many farmers, farmer’s markets and local food producers.  Probably a lot of you reading this are city dwellers too. You might also be dreaming of a little homestead someday – gardens, orchards, chickens, bees, a few goats…

But until the winning lottery ticket comes your way you might think it is all just a nice day dream. Here are a few books that might just change your mind. When you finish reading you might just be tempted to start ripping out the shrubbery and digging up the front lawn!

skip the flowers and go for the edibles

skip the flowers and go for the edibles

The Edible Front Yard: The Mow-less, Grow-more Plan for a Beautiful, Bountiful Garden by Ivette Soler

Ivette Soler asks the questions, “Why must the front yard be useless, boring, outdated lawn adorned by a few shade trees and perhaps some lackluster shrubbery?” She answers, “Wherever lawn can thrive ….so too can herbs, fruits, and vegetables.” She spends the rest of her book going into detail about just how beautiful and delicious your front yard can become. Every page is filled with colorful photographs to vividly illustrate each idea. The book covers curb-appeal so your yard won’t be the neighborhood eyesore. It covers color palettes, design and planning, and how-to sections covering irrigation, garden beds, checklists for budget, climate, and even building codes. She gives plant suggestions (listed alphabetically with growing and eating instructions) on how to replace standard shrubs and annuals with stunning, showy edibles placed everywhere from the foundation to walkways and flowerbeds.

Urban Homesteading: Heirloom Skills for Sustainable Living by Rachel Kaplan with K. Ruby Blume

The authors build a substantial, comprehensive case for why everyone should participate somehow in community outreach, neighborhood building and giving back to the earth. The book is heavy with photos, how-to lists, and real world examples. It’s one thing to read a description of how to reuse discarded construction materials; it’s another thing entirely to see and husband and wife whose yard is now beautifully landscaped entirely from scavenged items and hear about what worked and what didn’t.  The topics in this book run the entire gamut of self-sufficiency from clothing and textiles to gardens and livestock to alternate energy sources and building your own home with found materials. Each section comes with a timetable of ready-made goals so you can check your progress over six month, a year and farther out to the ultimate goals of a zero waste/closed-loop existence. Visit their website here.

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Book Review: Cholesterol Clarity by Jimmy Moore

The complete title of this book had me laughing out loud when I first heard it – classic Jimmy Moore wit!  Cholesterol Clarity: What the HDL is Wrong with My Numbers? What a great title! It expresses so well the frustration we’ve all felt at some time while trying to wade through the truth and the hype, the mixed messages from media and doctors, trying to get to the answers we need and want.

cholesterol clarity

by Jimmy Moore

Going into this book I was already pretty well informed. I’ve attended two Wise Tradition conferences of the Weston A Price Foundation and sat through two lectures by Chris Masterjohn, a researcher on cholesterol and health. I’ve listened to podcasts by Dr. Dwight Lundell, listened to lectures from Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride, and done some of my own research into the biochemical functions of cholesterol in the body. Even with all that I was still blown away by the wealth of information contained in this smallish book.

In case you don’t know Jimmy Moore, he’s the voice behind the Livin La Vida Low Carb show – hundreds and hundreds of health & wellness podcast interviews with some of the biggest names in science, nutrition and medicine not just in the U.S. but from around the world. Jimmy made a big splash in 2004 when he lost 180 lbs, consequently getting off several prescription medications, through a ketogenic diet.  Jimmy’s skill as an interviewer as well as the thousands of contacts he has made over the years make him the perfect author for this book. He isn’t a medical doctor, but he knows an awful lot of them. He gathered 30 real experts on diet and cholesterol and records their thoughts in this book tying it all together with his own likable style.

So what are some of the things I learned while reading Cholesterol Clarity? I have 10 pages of notes, I can’t begin to list it all – but I will give you some of my highlights beginning with this gem: A 2009 study published in the American Heart Journal found that 3 out of 4 heart attack patients had cholesterol levels considered “normal” or lower. Some were even on statins. Yep, 75% of people with heart attacks don’t have high cholesterol. Why isn’t everyone curious about this? It seems pretty obvious that high cholesterol isn’t causing heart attacks.  Here’s another one – a 10 year study in Norway showed that women with high cholesterol had a 30% less chance of heart attack, heart disease or stroke. And a 2010 study showed statins gave greater risk of death by any means to women.

So if statins don’t keep you from having heart disease what do they do? While they are blocking the formation of cholesterol in our bodies they are also blocking a lot of other important substances too, like CoQ10 and dolichols. But blocking cholesterol itself is cause enough for concern. “Cholesterol is vital for both the formation and function of each memory synapse in our brains” says NASA astronaut and physician Dr. Duane Graveline. Is it any wonder one of the side effects of statins includes memory loss? CoQ10 and dolichols are also crucial – the body builds mitochondria with them – the bits that supply our cells with energy. So when you shut off these substances you get damage like muscle damage & weakness, and nervous system damage, organ damage (liver, pancreas, etc.), hepatitis and even ALS. The list of side effects for statins is enormous. In addition to the ones mentioned above you have mood changes, trouble breathing, weight gain, skin irritations, impotence, blood pressure and heart malfunction!

cholesterol free clip art

So statins aren’t curing anything and they may be adding to an already burdened healthcare system by creating even more problems for the people who take them. So what is really the cause of heart disease? It is inflammation.  And we can control inflammation through diet and lifestyle changes (hint: they aren’t what we’ve been told by those ‘food pyramid’ agencies either) so pharmaceutical intervention is usually not necessary. Hmmm, maybe that’s why this information keeps getting covered up…  The oxidation of our cholesterol is causing inflammation. The solution isn’t to get rid of cholesterol, it’s to get rid of inflammation. Dr. Fred Kummerow, who will be 100 years old this October 2014,  and has been researching heart disease for over 50 years, gets right to the point when he says, “The oils used in cooking by most families, such as vegetable oils, are loaded with omega-6 fatty acids, and these have led to more heart disease.  These fats are directly impacting your cholesterol by oxidizing it, which is leading to cardiovascular damage. If you heat up and eat a fat like soybean or canola oil, it eventually shows up in the arteries of people who have had bypass surgery. If people would just stop eating that kinds of fat, they would not get heart disease.”  I’m thinking Dr. Kummerow is living proof that he knows what he’s talking about, he is still active in research and the scientific community as an almost-centenarian.  He goes on to say, “Dietary cholesterol is not the problem in heart disease. We’ve shown that in a study I published in the January 1979 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” Dr. Duane Graveline agrees “Lowering inflammation is key in the prevention of heart disease.” And when people ask Dr. Donald Miller “If cholesterol doesn’t cause heart disease, what does?” he tells them that it is vitamin deficiencies, eating a low-fat diet, eating polyunsaturated fats, and stress.  Yep, low-fat diets and all of those supposedly “heart healthy” polyunsaturated fats are really part of the problem.

Dr. Donald Miller believes that the pharmaceutical industry, government agencies like the FDA and NIH, and the major medical associations have misled doctors. These organizations continues to claim that coronary disease is caused by high cholesterol because of eating saturated fat. They keep preaching heart disease prevention through lowering cholesterol. They simply ignore any contradictory evidence. Many people have been writing books and speaking out against this false notion about cholesterol for years now but not getting a lot of attention.

There’s a practical side to this book as well. In Chapter 19 we get honest instruction on what all the numbers mean on a typical cholesterol panel as well as guidelines for interpreting this data according to this new paradigm, and also in Chapter 20 we get suggestions for alternative tests to run instead of a cholesterol panel. This books says it’s important to know that the current level of 200 (which may soon be dropping even further to 190) is not based in scientific fact. It’s an arbitrary level which conveniently allows for more people to be given prescriptions for cholesterol lowering medication. It isn’t a reliable marker for determining your risk of heart disease. Looking at traditional cultures with a long history free from heart disease we see different numbers entirely. For women a total cholesterol of 250 and for men 220 is perfectly normal. Alternative tests to consider include finding your Apolipoprotein B (ApoB) levels, LDL-P or Small LDL-P. Another test for High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) measures inflammation and can determine the overall health of your arteries.

cholesterol clarity

I definitely recommend getting Cholesterol Clarity and reading through it, sharing it with your doctor and opening up the discussion on what is really going on with your test numbers and getting some clarity in your own situation!



Have you read this book? Leave us a comment and tell us what you think.

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Book Review: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills

This book review was originally posted on our old website in January of 2010. I’m reposting it here as so many people still haven’t heard the message about aspartame, MSG and the dangers they pose. I encourage you to read the book and /or watch Dr. Blaylock’s YouTube video on the subject then share what you learn with your friends and family.

excitotoxins bookI do a lot of reading about health and nutrition. I just finished reading an important book Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills by Russell Blaylock, MD.  It’s all about how truly dangerous glutamate and aspartate are to our bodies causing long term damage to our brains and nervous system. Think you don’t have to worry? Think again – glutamate and aspartate are everywhere. Commonly seen as monosodium glutamate (msg), autolyzed yeast extract, hydrolyzed yeast, NutraSweet, and many, many other names,  they show up in 90% of all processed foods and restaurant foods.  Dr. Blaylock states study after study after study that proves these substances are responsible for such devastating diseases as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, ALS and more. He also shows how the scientists who did these studies have tried over and over to warn the general public, the FDA and other government agencies only to be silenced by the lobbyists working for the big food industries.
The good news is that a simple web search about these substances will turn up dozens of regular folks like me who pay attention to this kind of information and spread the word as best we can.
The bad news is that the people who are supposed to be “in charge” of our food and our health still haven’t gotten the message. I had Dr. Blaylock’s book with me last month when I went for my yearly physical and told my doctor about a few key points. He had no idea how dangerous glutamate and aspartate are although he did have enough common sense to know that processed foods and artificial sweeteners were to be avoided.
The trouble is that medical school does not teach nutrition in any practical form.  Dr. Blaylock, unfortunately, learned his nutrition in medical school.  In the conclusion of the book, to his credit, he states that the field of protective nutrition is wide open. The pharmaceutical companies are not interested in natural cures that cannot be patented.  He also states unequivocally that food is powerful medicine. He goes on to list page after page of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are useful in fighting the damage from excitotoxins. Unfortunately he has no idea what foods these are found in, he just tells you what supplement strength to take. Then he caves in to conventional thinking and tells you to avoid eggs, red meat, blah blah blah…
It turns out that two primary nutrients in the war on excitotoxins are alpha lipoic acid and meat and eggslecithin (along with choline). In fact he says that alpha lipoic acid (ALA) may just be the most perfect nutrient there is.  If you find this ironic then you already probably know that grass-fed beef, organ meats and eggs from free-ranging hens are the very best sources of alpha lipoic acid and lecithin/choline you can find.  Coincidentally they also contain many of the other important vitamins and minerals he lists as being important. Many of those vitamins are fat soluble – meaning you have to eat them with fat in order for them to metabolize and go to work in your body. Again, eggs, organ meats and red meat have fat in them too.
Honestly I don’t think it is coincidence. I know that God designed it that way.  His food is packaged in ways that are helpful and healthy to our bodies.  His ways are better than our “processes”.  Why don’t they (medicine, government) get it?


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Fat, Fatigued, Depressed, Digestive Trouble and Hormones?

You’ve seen the reports, you’ve watched the news, you probably know someone, it may even be you, who is dealing with one, two, three or even all five of these issues. Fatigue at one time catches nearly everyone these days. Truly joyful people are becoming a rarity. Constipation, heartburn, gas, bloating, or diarrhea plague more and more people. Hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems and weight gain are so common they’ve become Broadway musical material.


The Kalish Method by Dr Daniel Kalish

Dr. Daniel Kalish realized writing prescriptions and chasing symptoms wasn’t helping his patients.  Now he has developed a new system, and written a book telling us about it, designed to get to the root causes of poor health to help you get truly healthy. His book is The Kalish Method: Healing the Body, Mapping the Mind. In his book Dr. Kalish explains how three important body systems control much of our health, and if just one of these systems breaks down it can cause a cascade of trouble throughout our bodies. When we just focus on symptoms (weight gain is a symptom not a disease by itself) rather than the underlying root causes (poor liver detox ability is a root cause) we won’t find lasting solutions. When we throw drugs at symptoms we can even end up with more problems then we started with.  Through years of experience Dr. Kalish came to realize that “while the patients and their symptoms and their individual expressions of the problems varied, the underlying problems with the various body systems remained the same.” So he stopped pursuing symptoms and focused on fixing body systems.

What were those body systems? The digestive system, the detoxification system and the adrenals and how they interact with the brain are what Dr. Kalish looks at first. The digestive system is like the mother. It feeds everything. “You quite literally are what you eat, and if your body isn’t able to properly absorb your food, you will suffer a myriad of symptoms.”  Sometimes the symptoms that clue us in to the fact that we have digestive issues can be tricky to decipher. However if you have one of the issues listed above, or the “Big 5” as Dr. Kalish calls them, you probably have digestive troubles. Whether from your outside environment, as a result of poor nutrition, or because of your digestive troubles, too many toxins building up in your body can spell trouble too. In fact one of our body’s common responses to toxins is to wrap them in fat so they’re less dangerous. So when we take in more toxins than our livers can handle we get fat, toxic fat that is even harder to lose.

Dr. Kalish explains that the adrenals, two glands sitting one on top of each kidney, play a powerful role in our everyday health. Adrenals effect our blood sugar regulation, cells, muscles, bones, connective tissue, memory, learning, sleep, mood, immune system, detox capacity, weight, metabolism, thyroid, sex hormones and more. When our adrenals get overstressed then any one of these other functions can get broken AND messed up adrenals can mess up digestion which starts ANOTHER cascade of problems. Nutrients don’t get absorbed, more toxins slip through, we get food allergies, our antioxidants get used up, and we get fat, tired and depressed. On top of that our brains don’t work because there aren’t enough neurotransmitters being made. Oh boy!

You may not know much about neurotransmitters, but they are very important! Neurotransmitters are special chemicals (made from the amino acids we eat) in the brain that allow nerve cells (also called neurons) to communicate with each other all throughout the body. Our body makes neurotransmitters in well-regulated cycles just like it also makes hormones (why else do they call it your monthly cycle 🙂 ).  Two key neurotransmitters that frequently get off balance are dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is energizing, it motivates you and improves your focus, concentration and memory. Serotonin is calming, helps you sleep, and relieves anxiety. Serotonin, or the lack of it, has gotten a lot of media attention in its role in depression.  Very few people realize, however, that 95% of the serotonin made in our body goes straight to the digestive tract where it controls digestive function!  So not only does low serotonin make us feel depressed, it also causes us to have digestive trouble which, as we know, can cause that cascade of additional problems.

So how do we get deficient in these neurotransmitters? Dr. Kalish says we might be deficient due to our lifestyle because we eat all the wrong things, we are constantly under stress and we don’t get enough sleep; or we might be deficient due to some kind of damage or trauma such as a concussion from a car wreck or exposure to dangerous chemicals; or we might be deficient due to a genetic defect that doesn’t allow us to make enough neurotransmitters. Some people have more than one reason for being deficient.

Dr. Kalish explains in detail how our three systems, digestive/adrenal/detox, work and how breakdowns in any or all can lead to the “Big 5”. He spends time writing about healing the body and the mind and how to find the causes underlying many of our main health concerns. What surprised me was how often he listed stress as the main trigger for the breakdown of our health. Stress burns out our adrenals, it causes our digestive tract to fall apart and it allows toxins to build up. Stress is bad stuff!

Throughout the book Dr. Kalish talks about diagnostic medical tests you can get from functional medical practitioners that help you discover which body system needs help.  These tests were developed by Dr. Marty Hinz who has researched and published many papers on how he unraveled the biochemistry of the brain, and has helped his patients to lose weight, improve blood pressure, and stabilize diabetes using nutrition instead of medication.  Dr. Kalish also talks about the importance of managing stress. In fact when he first begins treating his patients he always asks them “when did your health problems first start?” and then “what was going on in your life?”  He has discovered that 95% of the time a person’s health problems started within 1-2 years of a period of great emotional stress such as grief, loss, financial, work or even something happy like a wedding.

Dr. Kalish lists our three main sources of stress as coming from something emotional such as a divorce, or dietary such as low calorie dieting, or inflammatory such as undiagnosed gluten sensitivity. In fact, he has discovered that so many people don’t realize they are sensitive to gluten that he puts a gluten questionnaire right in the book. I scored an 8 which put me in the “suspected” category. (I had already suspected this myself and have been mostly off gluten for 8 months.)

So what can we do to improve our three systems, give our brain what it needs, and get rid of the “Big 5”? Dr. Kalish advises we find a functional medicine practitioner who can order the diagnostic tests for us. He also recommends a program of stress management, regular plentiful sleep (go to bed by 10pm), exercise at least 30 min. per day 5 days a week, and eat a healthy diet. What is his idea of a healthy diet? He says to eat enough high quality protein to re-stock our brain chemistry. This comes from grassfed beef, pork, lamb, pastured poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, raw or soaked nuts, raw cheeses or goat cheese and yogurts. Eat only unrefined carbohydrates including plenty of fresh vegetables (especially green ones), fruits, beans and gluten-free grains. But most of all include unrefined fats at each and every meal. “If protein is the framework to a brain-healthy diet, then fats are the nails and the bolts. The brain is 80% fat, so it is crucial to have unrefined fat sources at each meal.” He recommends a variety of healthy fats including extra-virgin cold pressed olive oil, sesame oil, cod liver oil, virgin unrefined coconut oil, and real butter or ghee. He especially likes raw butter for its healing qualities. He specifically says to avoid all margarines and hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils as well as canola and other vegetable oils.  As for beverages – water is best. Additional cautions are given to avoid soy and any genetically modified food, artificial sweeteners and MSG.

Several questionnaires in the appendix allow you to asses your stress levels. You can also learn more by visiting the Wellness Center on his website.

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