Dr. Terry Wahls at Revitalize

Dr. terry Wahls

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

I know I’ve posted Dr. Terry Wahls’ work before, but she recently presented at the Revitalize event, which is MindBodyGreen’s first ever live-streamed summit on health, nutrition, exercise, and overall well-being, and I can’t help but want to discuss it with you!

She did an excellent job of explaining the importance of the right nutrients, detoxing, exercise, and lifestyle choices on your health.  I know you’ve all probably heard many times, how important all of these areas are to your health, but what was different about Dr. Wahls’ talk, for me, was how she explained how each of these areas can actually effect the expression of your DNA (by turning on and off certain genes), and also your overall phenotype (basically, the appearance and performance of the body).

To summarize, a healthy phenotype, referred to as the “wild type,” is healthy, robust, and disease resistant.  The environment, by turning some genes on and others off, without changing the DNA sequence, can convert a once-healthy, disease-resistant body into an inflamed, sickly, disease-prone body.  How?

It does this by putting “marks” on the DNA without changing the DNA sequence.  These marks are then passed on to your children and grandchildren and so on.

So, what are the environmental factors that can influence the expression of our genes, that are under our control?

Food is the first factor.  The food we eat provides the vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and antioxidants that our cells use to “conduct the chemistry of life,” as Dr. Wahls puts it.  If the food we eat doesn’t provide these key nutrients and building blocks, these chemical processes don’t occur as they should.  Molecules don’t get made, or they are made with the wrong shape, which lays the foundation for chronic disease.  When we shift from a healthy phenotype to a diseased phenotype, this increases our risk for all sorts of inflammation, chronic diseases, physical challenges, neurological problems, mental health problems, and auto-immune issues.

Environmental Toxins are another factor that influences the expression of our genes.  Since World War II, there have been over 80,000 chemicals registered with the EPA because of toxic effects to our cells.  Several studies have found over 200 different synthetic compounds in the blood of the umbilical chord as well as in the breast milk of new moms.  These compounds include herbicides, pesticides, dioxins, plastics, solvents, and heavy metals like lead, mercury and arsenic.  These compounds confuse the chemistry of our cells, disrupt our hormonal signaling, increase the inflammation, and speak to our DNA, shifting what genes are turned on and which are turned off, and again, transforming what was once a healthy phenotype into a disease prone phenotype.

Physical Activity is another factor influencing the expression of our genes.  We all know the history behind how we used to be much more active – especially when our species were hunter gatherers.  Now, many people sit around all day and night and their movement and physical activity is nowhere near the 2 -8 miles a day our ancestors used to travel.  Nor is the movement we are doing today anywhere near the functional movement they used to perform.  This lack of activity also speaks to our DNA and can change the expression of it.

Stress can also influence the expression of our genes.  When faced with a stress, we are designed to secrete the hormones that will make us faster and stronger.  Then, once the stress is gone, we are designed to dial back those hormones and return to the healing and regenerating functions of the body (digestion, regeneration, growth, etc.).  Unfortunately, today, many get stuck in this stressed state (fight or flight or the sympathetic nervous system), and they are unable to shift into the parasympathetic nervous system (healing mode), which is needed to heal, digest food, reproduce and regenerate.  This also creates a state where the phenotype becomes weaker and sets the stage for disease.

So, how do we get back into balance and back into a healthy “wild type” phenotype and out of a sickly, disease promoting phenotype?  We need to develop a lifestyle that addresses food, toxins, physical activity, and stress levels.

Dr. Wahls explains the diet and process she used for herself to heal her progressive Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and get back to biking 18 miles a day, and having clear focus and vital energy.  Watch her video to get the specifics on what she changed in her own life as well as in the lives of many others she has worked with, in order to regain their health and vitality.

And, for an even more in-depth look at what she did and her research behind it, you can order her book.

I loved her talk and want to send it out to as many people as possible to serve as education, hope and inspiration, so please share this video with your family and friends and anyone you know that has some form of chronic disease.

All the more reason to be a Foodie Bitch!

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Clean Eating No-Bake Cookie Bars

clean eating no bake bars

By Shannon Keirnan, Contributing Foodie Bitch

My sweet tooth isn’t what it used to be, but gol’ dang it… sometimes I just need to chew on something sweet, chocolatey, and caloric. It happens to the best of us, and there’s no fighting it.

A lot of gluten-free desserts just seem like a poor substitute for the really naughty stuff, and frankly, I’m a terrible baker, so sometimes the extra steps manage to defeat me.

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This counts as one.

Luckily, there is Pinterest, where people who are more creative than I am have collected some delicious recipe options just waiting for people like me who can’t follow directions, don’t have any patience, and refuse to turn the oven on when their home is not air conditioned.

My favorite recipe I plucked off of Money Saving Mom… who got it from I Hear Exercise Will Kill You… who lifted it from New Nostalgia.

So basically, it’s a really good recipe – enough to be making the blog rounds and land here on Foodie Bitch. It’s also super easy to personalize and tweak, so feel free to visit the other versions, or to make it your own!

Here is my interpretation:

Ingredients:

– 1 cup organic nut butter (almond or peanut)

– 1/2 cup raw honey

-1/2 cup organic coconut oil

– 2 cups gluten-free oats (not instant)

– 1 1/4 cup chocolate chips (dark or semi-sweet)

– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

– Optional finishing salt (Like Maldon’s)

Other add-in options:

Chopped nuts

Dried fruit

Shredded coconut

Instructions:

Melt the nut butter, honey, and oil together over medium heat. Remove from heat.

Add in the oats, chocolate chips, and vanilla. Stir together until chocolate is melted.

Pour into a greased 9×13 pan.

Sprinkle lightly with finishing salt, if desired, for a savory kick.

Put whatever you haven’t already eaten from the pan in the fridge to cool.

Cut into bars once hardened. Store in the refrigerator or freezer.

Enjoy! Thanks to all those who contributed to this great recipe! If you have any suggestions for healthful Foodie Bitch add-ins, leave them in the comments!

Live Dirty, Eat Clean – Growing a Healthy Microbiome

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By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

As promised, here’s some more information to digest (pun intended!) on your gut health.

I came across this video the other day of a talk given by Dr. Robynne Chutkan about the micro biome in your gut and I wanted to pass it along to you all, because she does such an excellent job of explaining the importance of a healthy gut biome (or “garden,” as she calls it), how we have gotten so far off track in terms of our gut health, and what we can do to get back on track.

I won’t spill the beans on everything she talks about – I couldn’t put it as eloquently as she does, anyway.  But I do want to share with you a couple of highlights from her talk, to hopefully to get you interested enough to watch the rest of it AND to share this video with your loved ones.

First of all, did you know that your gut micro biome – all of the bacteria, viruses, fungi and protozoa that live in our gut outnumber the amount of cells in our body by about 10 to 1?  Kind of makes us more “microbe” than human.  Hmmm….

Did you also know that the list of illness associated with an unhealthy gut biome include Chrone’s disease, auto-immune conditions, bipolar disorders and other neurological disorders, to name a few?

We’ve come to the point in our evolution where we not only need to pay attention to what we are feeding our body, but now we need to go even deeper, and pay attention to what we are feeding our gut micro biome.  Studies have been done that show that a change in the diet creates a change in the gut bacteria – and this change can happen as quickly as one day.

They have found certain strains of bacteria in the gut that are associated with inflammation and obesity, which created a whole new perspective on obesity.  And, interestingly, they can now predict leanness or obesity with about a 90% accuracy… just by looking at the gut bacteria.  Pretty interesting!

What should we be eating?  It’s going to vary from person to person, but Dr. Chutkan says it can best best be summed up with what author and food activist, Michael Pollan says, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plant based.”

What else has caused such an imbalance in our gut?  Overuse of drugs – antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, hormones, steroids, etc., is one cause.  Our obsession with cleanliness is another cause – do we really need anti-bacterial hand washes everywhere and do we really need to be afraid of a little dirt?

I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about the overuse of antibiotics, but here is an interesting fact Dr. Chutkan stated.  Two-thirds of the visits to the doctor’s office for respiratory tract infections resulted in prescribed antibiotics.  Of those visits, 80% of them never even came close to the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines for requiring an antibiotic.  And, a majority of ear infections in kids are actually viral, so antibiotics won’t even help them anyway.

Dr. Chutkan is not stating that we avoid all drugs or visits to the doctor’s office, but what she is suggesting is that we, as patients, start asking the questions that might be a little uncomfortable at first – to basically ask the types of uncomfortable questions that a Foodie Bitch would ask, only geared towards your health and medicine.  Questions like, “What are the side effects of this particular drug?” or “Are these drugs necessary?”  or “Is there another way to go about healing?”  It is your body, and you should take charge and demand what is best for you (and your family).

OK, I ended up giving you a bit more information on the video than I intended.  Sorry – I couldn’t help myself – I just really wanted to share it with you.

Enjoy the full “Live Dirty, Eat Clean” talk by Dr. Robynne Chutkan here. 

Why All the Fuss About a Healthy Gut?

gut health

By Nancy Smorch, Foodie Bitch

The gut and digestive system seems to be the hot topic lately (at least in my Foodie Bitch world).  This is a good thing, because in the past it was rare for an individual or a health care practitioner to make the connection between poor gut health and illness, or another health challenge.

And (although it is still rare for a majority of the population to grasp this connection) thankfully, more and more people are understanding why it is so important to make sure your gut is healthy.

I’m not going to get into everything about the gut here (that would just take way too long), but let me get the conversation started with you by mentioning a fascinating fact:

Did you know that the intestinal lining is only one cell layer thick?  One cell layer thick!!  Do you realize how thin and delicate that makes the intestinal wall?  Do you also realize how large the intestinal wall would be if it were spread out on a flat surface?  It would take up the area of a tennis court!

Did you also know that a huge part of your immune system is in your gut as well?

Think about this:  your entire internal system is relying on the proper flow of nutrients from your gut to your internal systems, and on the ability of the gut wall to keep out toxins.  You want to make sure that your gut wall is healthy, because the toxins and waste that we excrete are normally excreted for a good reason – they aren’t needed by the body and/or they are toxic to the body.

If your intestinal wall becomes inflamed, or gaps develop between the cells in the wall, you’re going to have issues.

So, what happens when this wall becomes damaged?  Among other things, you can become allergic to foods that you would normally be able to digest and assimilate, and your immune system will become overactive.  Inflammation will occur, not only in the intestinal walls, but all over your body.

Did you also know that many are now referring to the gut as the second brain?  The gut contains more neurotransmitters than your brain and, amazingly, communicates important regulating information to your actual brain.

So how does the intestinal wall become damaged?

I’ll get more into that in a later post.  But, for now, think about all of the toxins in the poor-quality food we are eating, the overuse of antibiotics in humans and animals and how that is destroying the balance of the gut bacterial flora, the use of other medications and their possible effects, stress, and environmental toxins.

It really shouldn’t be this difficult to have and maintain a healthy intestinal lining, but, even though humanity has made huge progress in many areas, this is one area that is experiencing a major regression.  I know I mention it often, but I want to bring this issue to the forefront of your awareness – because without a healthy gut, you won’t be able to experience the energy, focus, health and vitality you need to do the things you want to do in life.

Chew on that for a bit, and we’ll chat more about this later.