Beating the Belly Blues

May is National Celiac Disease Awareness Month (bet you didn’t know that) and because I am getting my routine colonoscopy done this week, the gastrointestinal tract is on my mind.  

It’s also on my mind because I’ve run into several people lately having issues with gas and bloating.  It is not related to celiac disease, but for those who might be interested, I wanted to share my own gastrointestinal story.

I was having issues with gas and bloating and decided I needed to find out if I had SIBO (Small Intestinal Bowel Overgrowth).  We have a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut and the balance can turn bad with a bad diet.   The good bacteria help make nutrients we need and help feed our colon cells.  The bad bacteria take the bad food we eat (especially sugar) and ferment it causing excess gas.  Actually, even healthy foods with natural sugars, like those to be avoided on the FODMAP  diet, can be fermented.  

I went to a gastroenterologist to see if I had SIBO and was tested by a breath test (hydrogen) that was supposed to show if I had bacteria that were fermenting and creating hydrogen.  Here is where it gets controversial.  They took the baseline right after I had eaten a meal of foods that were probably being fermented.  With that questionable baseline, the results of my test showed no problem and I was sent home to suffer I guess.  

Fortunately, I had access to testing that took a baseline after a low fermenting diet and looked for both hydrogen and methane gases.  The results showed that I had an excessive level and the doctor I was working with said that was the first she had seen a level that high.  I started using a series of supplements by Biocidin for 6 months.  I had used those supplements in the past but not long enough obviously.   I was determined to beat this problem and give my body and brain a break (there is a gut-brain connection – inflammation in the gut = inflammation in the brain).  I now have no problems, but do still need to be careful with certain foods. 

I share this story as a caution because the people I have run into recently need to know to keep searching for options and perhaps even a different medical opinion.  If you want to know more about the Biocidin protocol, you can read on EmersonEcologics.com or look at wellevate.me/abby-wilson-kurth.  

Be Old AND Bold

Happy Older Americans Month celebration.  We just celebrated my mother’s 106th birthday so I am making her queen of the celebration.  She will attribute her long life to having good people around her, but experts give credit to:

  • Diet. Eat plenty of fresh, non-processed foods, drink 64 ounces of water every day, and limit caffeine and alcohol intake. (Actually, coffee does have some health benefits in moderation)
  • Exercise.
  • Sleep.
  • Socialization.
  • Having a primary care physician.

A team of UK researchers, as reported by CNN Health, found that a very healthy lifestyle is associated with up to 6.3 years longer life for men and 7.6 years for women, regardless of the presence of multiple chronic conditions, compared with those given the lowest lifestyle score.  

In the U.S., chronic disease may become an issue for most in their 40’s (the age is getting younger and younger unfortunately) but poor health can be delayed until the last few years of life generally with a healthy lifestyle.  

My mother has been relatively problem free up to her 90’s, but would anyone want to live from age 40 to 106 with diminished, health?  

Metagenics First Line Therapy suggests that 50% of disease can be prevented with lifestyle, but the Harvard School of Public Health takes it even further by stating that, “The good news is that type 2 diabetes (as well as pre-diabetes) are largely preventable. About 9 in 10 cases in the U.S. can be avoided by healthy lifestyle practices, including controlling your weight, following a healthy diet, staying active, and not smoking.”

There is great power in adopting healthy lifestyle practices, so start planning how you’ll celebrate your 106th birthday!!

Stress Awareness Month

April is Stress Awareness Month (like we didn’t already know we were stressed??). To celebrate I am including an excerpt from my book, “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases” about the benefits of deep breathing. I included several chapters related to stress management because that is such a key component of health. Enjoy!

“Breathe, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.”  Unknown

Breathing. I know, you are already breathing or you wouldn’t be alive to read this. The problem is that stress can cause us to stop breathing with our whole abdomen and only breathe shallowly in our chest. Have you ever noticed yourself holding your breath when stressed? I know I have.  

It seems silly to talk about learning how to breathe, since we all do it from the day we are born, but consciously breathing more deeply and fully reaps great physical and emotional benefits. Research breathing techniques to discover different kinds of breathing: with mouth open, with mouth closed, or with tongue behind the teeth. Count to ten, count to three, breathe fast, or breathe slow. Use the technique that works for you. Plain old deep breathing will work just fine and offer benefits such as:

Physical:  

  • Deep breathing brings oxygen to the blood. Why get three miles to the gallon when you can get thirty? Our cells make sixteen times more energy in the presence of oxygen than without.
  • Deep breathing removes wastes from the body. Taking out the trash is a good thing, and your lungs can do that for you.
  • Deep breathing massages the internal organs. Who doesn’t like a good massage?
  • Oxygen counteracts many harmful bacteria in the body.
  • Oxygen brings circulation and relaxation to stiff muscles.

Mental, emotional, and spiritual:

  • Allows relaxation. The nervous system switches from I need to fight a lion (sympathetic nervous system) to I’m going to digest this delicious asparagus sandwich (parasympathetic nervous system).
  • Some breathing techniques help release emotions from past traumas. Our aches and pains are a result of stored negative emotions.
  • Increases mental activity. 
  • Circulates brain chemicals called neurotransmitters that bring relaxation and calming.
  • Lifts our spirits.

Why I became a Nutritionist.

Why I Became a Nutritionist.  Everyone has a back story – mine is not all that thrilling, but maybe this will help anyone wondering why I am such a Nutrition Nerd!  

I was interested in nutrition as a Biology major in college and I even tortured poor rats by depriving them of protein for my senior thesis.  While getting my Master’s in Public Health I took a few courses around nutrition and health education, my other love.

In 1985 I developed chronic fatigue, which wasn’t well known at the time.  After visiting many doctors who couldn’t give me any answers, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands and my own kitchen.  “Let food by thy medicine” (Hippocrates) became my new motto.  

I eventually enrolled to get my Master’s of Science in Nutrition and have been helping folks ever since.  I appreciate all my learning about functional medicine because there is usually some way nutrition can help improve almost any condition.  Even the genetics issues can be improved with nutrition as I learned from Dr. Kendall Stewart in Austin, Tx.

Even with my nutrition knowledge, I realized that I needed to understand why people were successful or not with making lifestyle changes.  My training as a wellness coach has helped me understand how I can help people truly adopt healthy behaviors for life.  “The client knows the answers” is the health coach’s motto and my job is to help them find their own answers.  That’s why I wrote my book-  so people could be their own health coach and write their own successful back story.    

KNOW YOUR NUTRITION

Since this is Nutrition Month, I thought I might share some the ways nutrients affect our health or lack of health.  I put a list of Nutrient Deficiency Signs and Symptoms in my book, not because I am Debbie Downer, but because people don’t realize that their poor health might be due to lack of specific nutrients.  

Nutrition Nerd that I am, I want people to realize that EVERYTHING the body does is done with nutrients we get from food, and if needed, from supplementation.  Because food is ideal, I also have a chart of nutrients and their food sources.  Knowing what I need ALWAYS gets me eating more of the healthy foods that will provide that nutrient.  

Here are a few symptoms that might be of interest to you:

  • Itching ears = Need for vitamin A, C, B5, zinc and quercitin
  • Vision loss = A, zinc, omega-3 fats, B1
  • Hypertension = magnesium
  • High cholesterol = B vitamins, CoQ10, magnesium, B3, fiber
  • Hypothyroid = iodine, copper, selenium, B5, fatty acids
  • Inflammation = A, B vitamins, C, D, E, quercitin, turmeric, essential fatty         acids, CoQ10
  • Muscle Cramps = magnesium, taurine, 5-hydroxtryptophan, inositol, calcium, potassium, biotin
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome = B6, B2, magnesium, quercitin
  • Depression = Magnesium, B vitamins, 5-hydroxytryptophan, tyrosine, choline, omega-3 fats, biotin
  • Fatigue = Magnesium, B vitamins, B5, tyrosine, CoQ10
  • Memory = Magnesium, B vitamins, B12, fatty acids, B6, Omega-3 fats, choline

Source: Dana Laake as cited in “Sick and Tired, to Healthy and Inspired: 9 Steps to Prevent Lifestyle Related Diseases by Abby Kurth, MPH, MS

Find anything interesting??

Another Year, Another Diet

It’s been a year since I posted about my diet mania and I’m ready to report on another diet this year.  I’m determined to find the answer for people having a hard time losing weight (myself included).  I’m ready to admit that a 2 weeks trial might not be enough to find success – consistency and persistence are something I’ll need to work on. 

My most recent attempt at the end of last year (2020 was NOT our favorite year, right?) was a low carb diet.  I refuse to do a diet that doesn’t include vegetables so I found a plan that was basically protein and low carbohydrate vegetables.  Did this truly qualify as a ketogenic diet?  Probably not, but it met my standards of what I was willing to try.

So why did I pick this plan to try?  Well, I’ll summarize a recent study review I read where participants were given a very low carbohydrate diet consisting of whole, non-processed foods like leafy greens, non-starchy vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat, fish, nuts, olive oil and coconut oil.  The results showed that, compared to those on a low fat diet,  the low carbohydrate group had:

  • Greater weight loss
  • Greater loss of total fat mass (fat is inflammatory, so good to have it go away)
  • Greater loss of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), the intra-abdominal fat that is located around the internal organs
  • Improved HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol)
  • Decreased triglycerides (another blood fat that is raised when eating too many processed foods – white flour, white sugar, alcohol, etc.)
  • Decreased insulin resistance

Besides the research, I knew based on genetic testing, that a lower carbohydrate diet was appropriate for me and my genetics compared to a balanced diet, the Mediterranean diet or a low fat diet. 

Since I really don’t like the word “diet” I really need to talk about lifestyle.  Did this method fit my lifestyle?  Would it be sustainable? 

I have not been as strict lately, but I really do prefer some of the substitutions I found as part of a lower carbohydrate lifestyle.  Here are some of my favorites:

  • Zucchini spirals instead of pasta
  • Almond flour for making muffins, pancakes, etc.
  • Cauliflower pizza crust or cauliflower rice (just put cauliflower through the food processor)
  • Keto bread (I like the Base Culture brand)
  • Keto waffles (Birch Benders brand) with melted butter, cinnamon and nuts on top
  • Date palm sugar or monk fruit for baking.  (I once had aching pain all over after drinking a green tea latte from a famous coffee chain.  Refined sugar is NOT for me but these forms of sugar don’t bother me.)

What were the results you may be asking?  I did have a drop of two pounds almost immediately.  Carbohydrates will be stored in the muscle as glycogen and that holds onto more water, so it was likely a loss of water weight.  I should have been more scientific and taken my measurements before and after, but I did feel like my middle section, which has been growing in recent years, became smaller.  My clothes would tend to agree with that assessment. 

Is this eating plan for you?  Basically, a whole foods plan will always be the right thing for any human being.  I don’t like vilifying any particular food group, but watching the amount and quality of carbohydrates seems to fit my body’s needs at this age in my life. 

New Year’s Resolutions

If you feel like you need to improve your health but feel totally overwhelmed with where to start, this post is for you. People always go into making lifestyle changes with the idea that it’s all about denial. “I can’t have the foods I love.” “I have to exercise”.

Here are some simple ideas that you can add to your busy life (and they will add years to your life!).

5 Super Easy Healthy Habits to Adopt

  1. Buy only foods that have 5 ingredients or less.  Better yet, buy foods that don’t even have a label.  People have lost weight with the 5 ingredient rule as their only change so this can be powerful.
  2. Add 1 vegetable/fruit to your meals each day.  It’s amazing how many people don’t come close to getting the minimum of 5 servings of vegetables/fruit per day and how much better they feel when they add more vegetables and plant foods to their diet.
  3. Take only 2 minutes toward a habit.  Even if you only tie your tennis shoes or dust off the treadmill in the 2 minute time slot, you will get into the habit of getting the exercise ball rolling and soon you’ll want to roll with the ball.
  4. Drink 1 extra glass of water each day.  Granted, some recommend  8  8-ounce glasses (64 ounces) per day, but one glass is a start.
  5. Take 1 minute to be in the present.  Be mindful  of yourself and the beauty of nature around you.

Add in some healthy thoughts like “I get to take care of myself” or “I am becoming a healthy person” then you definitely will be a winner in this game of a long and satisfying life.  Let me know if you give it a try!

The Best Ever Pumpkin Muffins (Made Healthier)

When someone declares a recipe “the best”, it’s always worth a try (Adapted from Lovely Little Kitchen).  However, I cannot bring myself to add the 1 cup of white sugar the recipe calls for.  Also, I feel best with more paleo/ketogenic ingredients so that is what I used.  Here is my adaptation, though it is not strictly keto or paleo.   I like that it uses the whole can of pumpkin – more moist and pumpkin-y and I don’t have a half used can of pumpkin sitting in the fridge. I like to make healthy as easy as possible so I used only one bowl instead of one for the wet and one for the dry ingredients. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 3/4 cup flour  (paleo flour mix, almond flour, gluten-free, oat flour, etc.)
  • 3 tablespoons date palm sugar (this replaces the white sugar and has zero calories)
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (or more date palm sugar or monk fruit)
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 15 ounce can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted or other oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Prepare a standard size muffin baking pan with paper liners or by oiling each well.
  2. Measure out the flour, sugars, baking soda, salt and spices in a medium bowl and whisk together. 
  3. Add in the eggs, pumpkin puree, oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Stir just until ingredients are mixed.
  5. Distribute batter into muffin tin. 
  6. Optional toppings – pecans, brown sugar, raisins
  7. Bake muffins for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.