Drink Water – Even If You Hate Water!

Drink More WaterWater is critical to your body! A large percentage of your body is made up of water, and most Americans are sadly dehydrated!

8 Fun Ways To Drink More Water If You Hate Water

Vitamin Shoppe – by Cassie Shortsleeve – “Water is a life necessity, there’s no way around it. Up to 60 percent of our bodies are made of H20, after all. But let’s be real: Drinking plain water day after day can be downright boring.

That could be part of the reason why up to 75 percent of the U.S. population is chronically dehydrated, according to Medical Daily. Fortunately, there are fun ways to stay hydrated, and you can start with these eight.

1. Carry An Inspiring Bottle
blender_bottlesThe market is flooded with water bottles for every personality. Picking one up will only set you back a few bucks, and carrying around a bottle that perfectly matches your mood or outfit will motivate you to drink up.

2. Add A Splash Of Juice
A glass of 100 percent fruit juice can be sky-high in sugar, sure—but a splash can easily sweeten water naturally, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.

Your go-to recipe: Mix a quarter cup of your favorite citrus juice (think: orange, grapefruit, or unsweetened lemonade), and add three-fourths cup of water. Voilà! You’ll get a nutritional boost, too, says Gans: ‘The citrus provides your body with vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which may help to strengthen your immune system.’

3. …Better Yet: Infuse The Fruit Itself
Not a fruit juice fan? No biggie. Stick with the fruit itself. Add fresh slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, orange, strawberry, or watermelon to a jug of water and refrigerate, suggests Gans.

If you want, throw in an herb like mint, which (added bonus!) works to soothe your stomach in the case of indigestion, she notes. Pro tip: Pick up a decadent glass dispenser to showcase your infusions. Who doesn’t want to sip water when your beverage is worthy of a Pinterest board?

4. Get Creative With Cubes
Fresh fruits and vegetable.Upgrade your glass by making it tasty, nutritious, and good-looking. How so? Fancy ice cubes!

To create your next-level cubes, start with pairing fruits and herbs like cucumbers and basil, lime and mint, or lemon and honey. Chop your ingredients into very small pieces, sprinkle them into your ice cube compartments, and fill with water. When chilled, serve with a glass of water or seltzer (while looking at just how awesome your creation turned out!).

For a healthy-gut boost, mix with Ultimate Flora Probiotic Fizzy Drink Mix in Raspberry Lemonade.

5. Add A Healthy Mix-In
You can’t go wrong with a drink that packs a nutritional punch and is bursting with flavor. Add an immune-boosting Vitamin C pack, or a protein (like Clean Protein – Unicorn Milk, especially within 30 minutes of your workout) to your water to reap extra benefits. Or, go for BodyTech’s Aminos, which are designed to help your body recover post-workout. Need a dose of energy? Garden of Life’s Organic Plant-Based Energy + Focus is a great-tasting (and totally clean) way to help get your body and mind into gear.

6. Go Ginger
Tea in white cup with ginger, lemon, cinnamon and honeyFile this one under ‘who knew?’: ‘A little amount of ginger can make a simple glass of water full of flavor,’ says Gans. To boot, it comes with a whole host of health benefits.

According to Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, ginger offers up antioxidants to support the immune system, while it also promotes digestive health. To get in on those benefits, cut a two-inch slab of ginger and add to your water. For a warmer concoction, add a bit of warm water, a slice of lemon, and a spoonful of raw honey to the ginger-y mix.

7. Add Some Bubbles
Water haters might want to consider a machine like a SodaStream, which can covert a bottle of plain ol’ H20 to bubbles in seconds. While seltzer water (even unflavored) is a bit more acidic than regular water, most of us won’t see any teeth issues from sipping the sudsy stuff. And if you pop a couple strawberries, cucumbers, or lemon slices into the mix, you’ll have an updated, delicious beverage.

8. Don’t Drink, Eat!
The beauty of hydration is that you don’t have to always be drinking to achieve it. According to Nutrition Review, plenty of fruits and vegetables (think: cantaloupe, strawberries, watermelon, lettuce, cabbage, celery, spinach, pickles, and cooked squash) are found to be made up of 90 to 99 percent water.

You generally need about 64 ounces (or 1900 milliliters) of agua per day, so if you’re not interested in drinking it all, consider the water content of these fruits and veggies: A medium cucumber offers about 194 ml, a slice of watermelon contains about 147 ml, and a medium tomato offers about 119 ml. Since these are pretty widely available foods, it’s easy to get a lot of your water you need from the foods you’re probably already eating.

In the end, you’ll need to nosh on about two slices of watermelon or a medium-sized cucumber and a tomato (which is probably already in your salad!) to get a little more than eight ounces (or one glass) of water.”

Tips to Improve Your Sleep

Sleep DebtA good night’s sleep is highly under-rated as a natural health benefit. You MUST get enough sleep to let your body rebuild itself after a long day of work. Your muscles rebuild at night, your mind sorts out the issues of the day, your body renews and refreshes itself through sleep!

Get Rid of Sleep Debt

Sleep.org – “Think you can learn to survive on less than six hours of sleep a night? Think again. Adults typically need between seven and nine hours of shut-eye a night to function at their best. Between health care expenses and lost productivity, insufficient sleep in the U.S. rings in at an annual cost of about $66 billion.

How come? When you’re awake, a chemical called adenosine builds up in your blood, and when you sleep, your body breaks it down. Skimp on sleep, however, and adenosine builds up in your bloodstream, making you more and more desperate to snooze. Your reaction time slows, which makes you more prone to dangerous mistakes when driving. A shortage of sleep is to blame for some 100,000 traffic accidents, 76,000 injuries, and 1,500 deaths a year.

And it adds up. Getting just two to three hours too little sleep for a few nights can have the same effect as pulling an all-nighter—yet it’s something that many Americans routinely do. If that doesn’t sound like a big deal, consider this: Staying up for 24 hours straight and then getting behind the wheel is like driving with a blood-alcohol content that deems you legally drunk in all 50 states.

Just like with a credit card or a mortgage, sleep debt eventually has to be repaid. And the more you add to it, the bigger your balance. Sleeping in on the weekends (a common practice) is one way that you might try to combat a shortage of weeknight sleep, but it’s usually not the best strategy. If you have to overcome a one- or two-hour sleep debt, it might work. But if you’re under-sleeping by, say, an hour every night, Monday through Friday, you’ll end up with a whopping five hours of sleep debt by the time Saturday rolls around. And sleeping in too much on Saturdays and Sundays can make things worse by throwing off your regular snooze schedule and making it harder to sleep on Sunday night.

When it comes to paying down sleep debt, slow and steady is the way to go. Start by cleaning up your sleep hygiene habits to maximize the hours of snooze time that you get during the week. Even going to bed just 15 minutes earlier each night may help. Stick to a regular sleep and wake schedule, avoid caffeine and alcohol, exercise daily, and relax before bed with a hot bath or a good book instead of electronics (which can disrupt sleep). A daytime nap may also help you catch up, if it’s possible for you to take one regularly.”

Tips to Help Maintain Healthy Skin

Natural Skin CareYour skin is the largest organ in your body! (I know, that will make you say, “Hummm.”) But, it is! Here are some tips to maintain healthy, vibrant skin!

15 Natural Ways To Maintain Beautiful, Youthful Skin

MBGLifestyle – By: Kristy Rao – “There may not be a fountain of youth, but the food we eat and how we treat ourselves can prevent or even reverse aging. Your body needs the right nutrients to fight off damage, and your skin is no different. Nutrients help the cells replicate and have more energy. Processed foods, stress, toxins and low-nutrient diets will accelerate aging. Protecting yourself from harmful chemicals while getting enough sleep, relaxation and exercise will all help you maintain a healthy glow.

1. Drink plenty of water.

Even with a small amount of dehydration, your body functions in a less optimal way. The instant you’re dehydrated, it will take a toll on your skin, causing it to look dull, flaky, saggy and loose.

2. Eat foods with antioxidants.

Antioxidants are the best resources your body has to fight disease and aging by reducing damage and inflammation. Inflammation is a leading cause of wrinkle formation. Some of the best sources of antioxidants include:

  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranates
  • Acai berries
  • Goji berries
  • Spinach
  • Raspberries
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Purple grapes
  • Dark chocolate (70% or higher of cocoa content)
  • Organic green tea

3. Have a rainbow-colored plate of food.

Free radicals form in our bodies and cause major damage to our cell structures. The different nutrient-rich foods we eat neutralize them. You need to consume the widest variety of antioxidants you can to fight off the different kinds of free radicals. Think about what colors you’ve missed throughout the day, and try to incorporate them into your next meal.

4. Eat organic foods.

This curtails consumption of aging toxins.

5. Limit your sun exposure.

Small amounts of daily sun produce vitamin D and are beneficial, but too much sun will damage your skin. Don’t forget to wear your sunglasses, and use zinc or titanium dioxide sunscreen.

6. Opt for natural skin products.

Many skincare products contain harsh chemicals. When choosing moisturizers or makeup, research the ingredients in them the best you can to confirm that they’re safe.

7. Use non-toxic cleaning products.

It is imperative to limit exposure to toxic chemicals because the skin absorbs them.

8. Own a plant.

Indoor pollution levels can be even higher than outdoor levels. A plant in your home or by your desk at work will act as an air filter.

9. Get enough vitamin C.

A diet rich in vitamin C leads to fewer wrinkles. Researchers have found that skin exposed to vitamin C for long periods of time can produce up to eight times more collagen!

10. Avoid sugar.

It leads to damaged collagen and elastin, which cause wrinkles.

11. Eat healthy fats.

Incorporating foods such as avocados, olive oil, flax seeds, nuts and fish into your diet is important. The fatty acids are crucial for your skin to look youthful.

12. Cleanse your body.

A build up of toxins in the body due to the air, water and food causes damage to the body as well as aging. Detoxing by way of a juice cleanse is recommended for the body to be able to focus on energy production and eliminating toxins. Having a glass of water with squeezed lemon first thing in the mornings is also very cleansing.

13. Engage in activities that relieve stress.

High levels of stress will compromise your skin. Consider yoga or meditating. Eliminate problematic people and activities from your life. Confide in your friends and openly talk to them about your worries and troubles.

14. Sleep.

You skin rejuvenates and repairs itself mostly while you are asleep. Make sure that you not only sleep for eight hours a night, but that it is quality sleep.

15. Exercise.

It increases the circulation of oxygen and nutrients and releases toxins through sweat, which leads to clearer, firmer skin. Remember to smile. It’s the best exercise for your face.”

Apple Cider Vinegar – Health Benefits

Apple Cider VinegarMany report the benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar. They include: killing all kinds of bacteria naturally, lowers blood sugar levels, helps with weight loss and reduces belly fat, as well as lowering cholesterol, and improving heart health. In this article by Dr. Joseph Mercola, he points out the best way to make and use Apple Cider Vinegar.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

Mercola.com – Dr. Joseph Mercola – “It’s apple-pickin’ time in North America, and while all eyes are on apple pies and everything else apple-related, you may want to take a closer look at the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, A Great Gut Feeling suggests. From helping with satiety and weight loss to improving blood sugar levels and reducing triglycerides, apple cider vinegar has proven to be a great health booster.

The virtues of apple cider vinegar just go on and on, but before you rush out to buy a bottle, be sure that you know the difference between regular filtered apple cider vinegar and the unprocessed, unfiltered, raw, organic apple cider vinegar that offers you the best health benefit for your dollar.

What I’m talking about here is apple cider that comes with its distinguishing feature called ‘mother’ — dark, strand-like chains of cloudy, enzyme-rich, probiotic bacteria found floating in the bottom of the bottle.

The good news is, if you’re not yet familiar with the many beneficial uses of this versatile and economical home remedy, besides helping with blood sugar and weight loss, apple cider vinegar (ACV) also helps with acid reflux and an upset stomach — and more.

From alleviating symptoms of sinusitis and sore throat to using it to address certain skin conditions, ACV is a versatile product with unending applications. It even is a great and safe, all-natural, cleaning product!

If you’re wondering what the difference is between the ACV with the ‘mother’ and the filtered jug of clear vinegar beside it on the store shelf, ACV is made from fermented apples in a process similar to the one used for making other homemade fermented brews, such as kombucha.

In the first step of the process, sugar is dissolved in filtered water that is then poured over a variety of coarsely chopped apples. This mixture is allowed to set at room temperature until bubbles begin to appear as the sugar ferments into alcohol. (Because the sugars are digested through the fermentation process, apple cider vinegar contains very little sugar and carbohydrates, making it a very attractive food from a dietary standpoint.)

Next, the apples are strained out and the liquid is maintained, again at room temperature, for an additional three to four weeks. At this time, the alcohol is transforming into vinegar through the action of the acetic acid bacteria — this particular acid gives vinegar its distinctive sour tang.

As the bacteria do their job, a small amount of sediment will appear on the bottom of the container and the ‘mother’ culture will form on top, which is a colony of beneficial bacteria. From this point, you can quickly recognize organic, raw, unfiltered, unprocessed apple cider vinegar by the distinctive presence of the mother, which can only exist in vinegar that is not pasteurized or filtered.”

Five Benefits of a Keto Diet!

Keto DietThis is definitely the best diet for losing weight, and remaining healthy!

The Keto Diet: 5 Proven Benefits For Your Health!

DrColbert.com – Dr. Don Colbert, MD – “The keto diet has recently been exploding in popularity. Adherents claim effects ranging from weight loss, craving reduction, and blood sugar balance to cognitive enhancement and cancer treatment. There are athletes, celebrities, CEOs, and doctors all adopting this diet and talking about the dramatic effects of burning fat for fuel.

With all the hype, it might just seem like another passing fad diet. The fact is, however, that the ketogenic diet is nothing new. It has been used by western medical doctors to treat epilepsy for close to 100 years!

What Is The Keto Diet?

The keto (short for ketogenic) diet brings the body into a metabolic state called ketosis. Ketosis refers to the body’s utilization of ketones for energy as opposed to glucose. Ketones are byproducts of fat metabolism and glucose comes from sugar metabolism.

Most cells in the human body can use either of these fuels for energy but preferentially burn glucose, only switching over to fat once all the glycogen (sugar stores) in the body has been depleted. Yet, since most people on a Standard American Diet (SAD) eat so much sugar, their cells are never able to switch over to ‘fat burning mode.’ For many people, it has been so long since their cells have utilized ketones for energy that they actually have to retrain their bodies to be able to do so.

All this biochemistry makes more sense when you take a step back and think about it logically. As humans we have not always had a stable food supply. In the past we did not have grocery stores or drive-thru windows and famine was much more common. In times of food shortage when carbohydrate intake would have been low, the human body adapted to burn body fat to sustain itself. So essentially, a ketogenic diet is mimicking some of the effects of fasting by limiting carbohydrates and forcing the body to burn fat.

What Are The Benefits?

The benefits of the keto diet are certainly real and far reaching in scope. Although not ideal for everybody all of the time, a ketogenic diet has been proven to help in 5 important areas of health and wellness.

Shed Pounds of Body Weight

This is possibly the most popular contemporary application of the ketogenic diet. In fact, a modified ketogenic diet is the foundation for the Slender System for weight loss used to help thousands of people reach a healthier weight.

When carbs are kept below 50-30 grams per day, the body does not have enough glucose to support the energy needs of the body and will be forced to begin utilizing fat. Once all the fat that has been consumed has been used up the body will then turn to stored body fat for energy. So by maintaining low levels of carbohydrate intake and a small caloric deficit you can stimulate fat burning and begin dropping the pounds.

There is ample scientific and anecdotal evidence to support the efficacy of a ketogenic diet for weight loss.

Crush Cravings

High fat and adequate protein intake can help suppress the ‘hunger hormone’ called ghrelin. This 2013 study suggests that a ketogenic diet results in more satiety than other diets. It is very common for people to surprised by the degree to which they are simply not hungry once their body has become adapted to burning fat for fuel.

However, keep in mind that although fat and protein alone can help suppress hunger, it is also important to maintain a high intake of low-carb non-starchy vegetables for their valuable fiber and nutrient content. Fiber has an immense effect on satiety and is crucial to a successful ketogenic diet.

Balance Blood Sugar

Most Americans are on a constant blood sugar roller coaster ride. From the moment they eat that muffin, bagel, donut, or bowl of cereal, their blood sugar spikes up and then falls after a couple of hours prompting a mid morning snack to make it through to lunch. After lunch there is the mid-afternoon pick-me-up treat to make it until dinner and then the after dinner dessert. Many people even wake up in the middle of the night to chow down because their blood sugar is so imbalanced they can’t even make it through the night.

A Ketogenic diet fixes this by keeping the blood sugar low and allowing the insulin sensitivity to reset. The transition from sugar-burning to fat-burning can be difficult for a few days as the body adapts and the blood sugar levels stabilize.

Boost Brain Health And Increase Cognitive Function

As stated earlier, the keto diet was first applied in the successful treatment of epileptic seizures. There has also been application in the treatment and management of alzheimer’s disease. In fact, many researchers are beginning to refer to alzheimer’s as type 3 diabetes, indicating the role of glucose metabolism in the progression of the disease.

The most readily noticeable effect of switching to a ketogenic diet is the marked improvement in cognitive performance. Many CEOs and Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs have adopted the diet for this very reason. The sense of clarity and focus that can be achieved when the brain starts burning ketones for energy can be quite profound. It makes sense that in a state of caloric deprivation that the body would begin to produce a fuel (ketones) that allows for clear and lucid thinking that can help one be more likely to find food.

Ketones are so powerful for brain performance that there is an emerging market of exogenous ketone supplements that people take specifically to boost cognitive function and aid in weight loss. One source of exogenous ketones comes from MCT oil, a derivative of coconut oil that is readily converted to ketones to be used by the brain.

Starve Cancer

Although controversial, there is growing evidence that a ketogenic diet can fight cancer by depriving them of their preferred food source: sugar. One of the leading ketone researchers Dominic D’Agostino explains how this works in his 2013 TED talk. Essentially, cancer is a metabolic disease affecting the ‘power houses’ of the cells called mitochondria.

Almost all healthy cells in the body are able to use ketones for fuel, but cancer cells are unable to switch from glucose to ketones for fuel.

How To Eat a Keto Diet

So with all these amazing benefits, you’re probably wondering how you can get started on a ketogenic diet.

A state of ketosis can be usually be achieved by eating less than 50 grams of carbohydrate per day for 3-5 days. Ideally protein consumption would be less than 100 grams per day as excess protein can be broken down into glucose in a process called gluconeogenesis. The rest of the diet should consist of healthy fats.

Eating the right kind of fat is really important because rancid oxidized (damaged) fats can cause inflammation and hinder your progress on the diet. Opt primarily for saturated and monounsaturated fats because they are the most stable. Healthy saturated fats include: raw grass-fed dairy, grass-fed and finished beef and lamb, free range eggs, coconut oil, and MCT oil. Monounsaturated fats are found in: olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds, and fish. The other important fats are the Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats DHA and EPA which can be found in fish and krill oil.

Burn Fat For Fuel

Again, the keto diet might not be the ideal long-term diet for everyone, but for those who wish to reap the reward of these five scientifically proven benefits of a high-fat low-carb diet then it is definitely worth a try. Stay hydrated, have patience during the transition period, and don’t be surprised when around day three you start feeling amazing and dropping pounds of body fat!”

By the way, I am not affiliated directly with, nor do I get any compensation, from Dr. Colbert, I just post this link [below] as a courtesy for interested readers!)

Keto Zone Diet

The Effects of Wheat Gluten in the Gut

To follow up on information from our last podcast on Gluten Issues, here’s an article about the effects of wheat gluten.

11 Ways Gluten and Wheat Can Damage Your Health

PaleoLeap – “‘Gluten’ is basically a buzzword at this point, but even if you’re avoiding it, do you really know what it is? And did you know that there’s other stuff in wheat that’s also worth avoiding: wheat is bad news for reasons that have nothing to do with gluten. Here’s a look at 11 reasons why.

The Basics
First of all, a refresher: wheat is a grain. The calories in wheat come mostly from carbohydrates, but wheat also contains a few problem proteins.

  • Gluten
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinin
  • Amylase Trypsin Inhibitors

Problems caused by these proteins are not the same thing as blood sugar problems caused by the carbohydrates in wheat. It’s true that getting a majority of calories from wheat (especially refined wheat) can cause metabolic problems like blood sugar swings. But these problems would be caused by any high-carb diet, and they’re only relevant for people eating a large amount of wheat: something like a spoonful of soy sauce wouldn’t be a problem.

This post is not about metabolic issues like blood sugar and carbohydrates. It’s about a totally different list of problems caused specifically by wheat and the proteins it contains. These problems are relevant even for people eating a small amount of wheat, and even for people who do fine eating carbs.

So what’s so bad about wheat?

1. Wheat Problems Aren’t Restricted to People with Celiac Disease
The most famous problem with wheat is celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction provoked by gluten and treatable with a gluten-free diet. 30-40% of people have the genetic background to potentially develop celiac disease, but only about 1-3% of people actually do – it’s not clear why but it may have something to do with the gut microbiome.

Most people know that celiac disease requires absolutely strict avoidance of all gluten. But a lot of people also think that if you don’t have celiac disease, you’re completely in the clear.

That’s not true. Recently there’s been an increased amount of interest in non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). Plenty of people have documented sensitivities to gluten that aren’t actually celiac disease (as you’ll read below, there’s a different immune reaction involved). There’s also the overlapping problem of other proteins in wheat – wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors are not the same thing as gluten and you can be sensitive to them regardless of how your body handles gluten.

Wheat isn’t just a problem for people with celiac disease, and there’s more to wheat than gluten.

2. Gut Inflammation
Inflammation is the natural response of your immune system to injury. You can see it in action whenever you get a cut or splinter and the surrounding area gets all red and tender. The proteins in wheat are gut irritants: they’re like that papercut or splinter digging into the lining of your gut, causing an inflammatory response.

The most famous case is the inflammation caused by gluten in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. But inflammation from wheat is also a problem even for people who aren’t sensitive to gluten specifically. Amylase trypsin inhibitors (ATIs for short) that can provoke an inflammatory immune response in the GI tract by stimulating immune cells. This occurs in people regardless of whether they have celiac disease or not – it’s a completely different problem from gluten and it can cause trouble for you regardless of whether or not you’re sensitive to gluten in particular.

That inflammation is dangerous because…

3. Increased Intestinal Permeability
Inflammation in the gut contributes to a problem called intestinal permeability. The gut has a very complex system of ‘border control’ that lets digested food into your bloodstream (this is how you get nutrients from it) while keeping everything else out. Every day, you swallow millions of random viruses, bacteria, indigestible molecules like dust, and other stuff that needs to go out the other end, not into your bloodstream.

Inflammation in the gut messes up that system of border control. It loosens the junctions between cells in the gut wall so too much stuff can pass through. This is often described as making the gut ‘leaky’ (hence the popular name of ‘leaky gut’).

On top of inflammation leading to increased permeability, gluten accelerates this process by stimulating the release of a protein called zonulin. Zonulin independently contributes to loosening the junctions between cells in the gut. Add together the inflammation and the zonulin, and wheat has a powerful effect on gut permeability, which is really a problem.

Intestinal permeability is a big problem – most notably because it’s an essential factor in the development of autoimmune diseases.

4. Double Trouble: Wheat Germ Agglutinin
Another one for the non-Celiac crowd: wheat germ agglutinin is an inflammatory, immune-disrupting protein found in wheat and despite the similar name it isn’t the same thing as gluten. Wheat germ agglutinin can provoke an inflammatory response in gut cells and disturb the natural immune barrier in the gut, making the gut more permeable to things that don’t belong in your blood.

Again, this is totally separate from the problem of gluten. Obviously, gluten and WGA usually come as a package deal, because they’re both found in wheat, but you can have trouble with WGA even if you had no reaction to a gluten elimination challenge.

5. Increased Vulnerability to Gut Autoimmunity
Items #1-4 on this list discussed how wheat makes the gut more permeable, so all kinds of stuff can get into the bloodstream even though it shouldn’t be there. Included in that stuff is… gluten! Specifically, gliadin, which is a component of gluten. Once it’s inside your bloodstream, gliadin runs into your immune system, and that’s where the problems really start, in the form of molecular mimicry.

Molecular mimicry works like this: some foreign thing gets into the bloodstream. The immune system forms antibodies against it. So far, so good: that’s how the immune system is supposed to work. But if that foreign thing looks enough like your own body’s tissue, then the antibodies formed to fight it might start attacking your own body as well.

Molecular mimicry may be the reason why people with celiac disease mount an attack on their own gut cells: to your immune system, gliadin looks a lot like the cells lining the gut. But it’s not just celiac disease! Gluten-related inflammation may also be a factor in the development of Crohn’s Disease, another autoimmune gut disease. In this study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis), a gluten-free diet helped a majority of people who tried it.

And gut cells aren’t the only cells affected by gluten-related autoimmunity…

6. Increased Vulnerability to non-Celiac Autoimmune Diseases
If you go digging into the research on celiac disease and gluten, you’ll find a bunch of studies linking it to all kinds of other autoimmune diseases, including autoimmune thyroid disorders, type 1 diabetes, fibromyalgia (for both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity!), rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune liver disease, and a couple different autoimmune skin diseases.

The common factor here might be the gluten. Wheat gluten is a major potential trigger of Type 1 Diabetes (that’s the autoimmune type, not the diet-and-lifestyle type). In this study, feeding mice a gluten-free diet reduced the rate of Type 1 diabetes in their children. There’s also evidence that breastfeeding human children reduces the rate of type 1 diabetes, which would make sense if gluten is the problem because breastfeeding delays the introduction of gluten to the baby.

Hey, by the way, guess what other common health problems have an autoimmune component? Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes.

7. Autoimmune Reactions in People Without Celiac Disease.
Point #6 above gave a lot of reasons why celiac disease is associated with other autoimmune diseases, but it’s not limited to people with celiac disease. If you thought non-celiac gluten sensitivity was unrelated to autoimmune disease, you thought wrong! This study found that a lot of people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity have autoimmune markers in their blood, suggesting that the wheat exposure might be causing autoimmune issues even without celiac disease.

One interesting aspect of this is that patients with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may have a different type of autoimmune reaction, which just underlines that celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity are two different things. But the point is that both involve potentially serious autoimmune responses.

8. Damage to the Gut Biome
Not the all-important gut biome! The gut biome, aka the gut microbiome, aka the gut flora, is the collection of friendly bacteria that live in your gut. They help regulate your immune system, control intestinal permeability, digest your food, synthesize nutrients like vitamin K2, send hunger/fullness signals to your brain, and do all kinds of other stuff.

But they really don’t like gluten, and gluten really doesn’t like them. People with celiac disease often have very bad problems with the gut flora, but those problems are significantly reduced when the person eliminates gluten. Once again, it’s not limited to celiac disease: non-celiac gluten sensitivity also involves disturbances in the gut flora.

Even in people who aren’t sensitive to gluten at all, inflammation caused by other components of wheat can also rebound on the gut biome. And independently of any of that, wheat is also high in FODMAPs, which may be an issue for people with sensitivities to that.

9. Gastrointestinal Symptoms (Even for People who Don’t have Celiac Disease)
All this stuff about gut bacteria and intestinal permeability might seem totally abstract and disconnected from the real world, so let’s bring it back down to earth: this stuff has actual, noticeable consequences. Most of the direct damage involves the gut, so it makes sense to start there:

In people with celiac disease, gluten causes immediate and severe symptoms (diarrhea and/or constipation, heartburn, pain, bloating, gas, stools that smell awful, sometimes vomiting…).
In people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, symptoms are typically similar to celiac disease.
Even in people who aren’t sensitive to gluten specifically, the inflammatory action of other components of wheat (wheat germ agglutinin and amylase trypsin inhibitors) contributes to chronic, relapsing gut problems.
Of course, there are non-wheat-related reasons why a person might have GI problems (stress is a biggie, and stress is certifiably gluten-free). But gluten can contribute to the problem, even if it’s ‘only’ a low-level inflammatory response that you’ve gotten used to. Sure, constipation and feeling bloated after meals might be your ‘normal,’ but what if it didn’t have to be?

10. Brain Symptoms
Think of gluten or wheat issues, and you probably think of the gut first. The typical symptoms are all gut-related. But actually, there’s another important organ at stake: your brain.

Brain fog and fatigue are symptoms of both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. On a more serious note, the gut inflammation and microbiome disturbances involved in the immune-inflammatory response to gluten may increase vulnerability to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Autoimmunity in general (whether it’s celiac disease or some other gluten-related autoimmunity) may be involved in depression.

This doesn’t mean that gluten is the cause of all mental health problems or that eliminating gluten will cure them. Nobody is saying that. Mental health is complicated and there are all kinds of factors to consider. The point is that in some people, gluten may be one of them.

11. Skin Symptoms
The most famous cause of gluten-related skin problems is celiac disease, which can cause a skin disease called dermatitis herpetiformis. Symptoms of dermatitis herpetiformis include an itchy, red rash with raised blisters. Symptoms typically show up in a person’s 20’s.

And once again, this isn’t limited to celiac disease. This study describes the way non-celiac gluten sensitivity can show up as skin problems: ‘very itchy…similar to eczema, psoriasis, or dermatitis herpetiformis.’ The itchy skin showed up most often on the arms and legs.

The upshot: wheat is pretty bad news even for people who don’t have celiac disease. And the symptoms don’t necessarily show up as dramatic episodes of vomiting and diarrhea. Why not try giving it up for a few weeks just to see how your body reacts – you might be surprised!”

Vaping Can Impair Immune System Function

VapingSmoking is not healthy, that much has been established. Vaping has been seen as a “better alternative,” but it, too, has health implications.

Vaping ‘can damage vital immune system cells’

BBC Health – “Researchers found e-cigarette vapour disabled important immune cells in the lung and boosted inflammation.

The researchers ‘caution against the widely held opinion that e-cigarettes are safe’.

However, Public Health England advises they are much less harmful than smoking and people should not hesitate to use them as an aid to giving up cigarettes.

The small experimental study, led by Prof David Thickett, at the University of Birmingham, is published online in the journal Thorax.

Previous studies have focused on the chemical composition of e-cigarette liquid before it is vaped.

In this study, the researchers devised a mechanical procedure to mimic vaping in the laboratory, using lung tissue samples provided by eight non-smokers.

They found vapour caused inflammation and impaired the activity of alveolar macrophages, cells that remove potentially damaging dust particles, bacteria and allergens.

They said some of the effects were similar to those seen in regular smokers and people with chronic lung disease.

They caution the results are only in laboratory conditions and advise further research is needed to better understand the long-term health impact – the changes recorded took place only over 48 hours.

An independent review of the latest evidence on e-cigarettes was published by Public Health England in February.

The review concluded there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ they were far safer than smoking and ‘of negligible risk to bystanders’ and advised they should be available on prescription because of how successful they had been in helping people give up smoking.

Prof Thickett said while e-cigarettes were safer than traditional cigarettes, they may still be harmful in the long-term as research was in its infancy.

‘In terms of cancer causing molecules in cigarette smoke, as opposed to cigarette vapour, there are certainly reduced numbers of carcinogens,’ he said.

‘They are safer in terms of cancer risk – but if you vape for 20 or 30 years and this can cause COPD [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], then that’s something we need to know about.

‘I don’t believe e-cigarettes are more harmful than ordinary cigarettes – but we should have a cautious scepticism that they are as safe as we are being led to believe.’

Martin Dockrell, tobacco control lead at Public Health England, said: ‘E-cigarettes are not 100% risk-free but they are clearly much less harmful than smoking.

‘Any smoker considering e-cigarettes should switch completely without delay.'”

Peppermint: A Healing Herb!

Peppermint is not only a great taste, it is a healing herb as well! There are many excellent uses for Peppermint!

The Healing Power of Peppermint

Mother Earth News – “Spring is floating around out there somewhere, just waiting for its moment to, well, spring. It’s been quite the winter around the majority of the country, bringing moisture that was well needed; there is no arguing that. I think for most of us though, we are ready to move on. We are ready to dig our hands into the dirt and feel the sunshine on our faces.

One of the things I most look forward to is the smell of mint in the air. It grows wild throughout my yard and when a strong breeze kicks up, it sets me on a peppermint cloud, bringing me to a standstill from whatever task I happen to be involved in at the moment. I know that for many, the mint family is a nuisance, spreading like wildfire wherever its heart desires. But for me, that nuisance was a blessing for my less than green thumb when I began my journey into the gardening world. And when I discovered just how useful the sprawling bugger was, it was easy to say: let it grow.

Peppermint Healing Properties

Though many in the mint family pack a whole health wallop, the herb we are loving on presently is Mentha Piperita, or Peppermint. This common weed is widely used for its properties as an antibacterial (inhibiting the growth of bacteria), antiseptic (applied to skin to prevent bacterial growth), and carminative (to relieve gas and griping). It is also a mild analgesic (pain relief without loss of consciousness) and has nervine (calm nervous tension and nourish the nervous system) properties.

Let’s begin with the easiest and most common form for getting that healing dose of peppermint: A simple cup of tea, made by steeping about 1 tsp of the dried herb or 2 tsp of the fresh leaves in 8 ounces of boiled water for about 15 minutes, is a lovely remedy for many everyday ailments, including headaches and stomach upset. Drinking a cup of peppermint tea about an hour after a meal helps to keep your digestive juices in working order and when taken prior to eating, might help you to avoid gas pains. Its mild anesthetic properties can sooth the stomach wall and relieve the vomiting associated with pregnancy and motion sickness.

Peppermint can help to relieve anxiety and maintain focus, aiding those who deal with daily stress. And while it can be a soothing herb, it also has the opposite function of encouraging circulatory flow and treating lethargy. A cup or two of a stronger brew, say a tbsp of herb per 8 ounces hot water, can offer you a boost without the caffeine hangover. It’s a valuable help for colds and flu. I usually turn to peppermint when I feel a cold coming on. Making an extra strong dose and letting it steep for an hour or two will usually do the trick when caught early. Right now though, I go easy on the peppermint because I’m breastfeeding and it has been known to reduce mother’s milk.

Other Uses for Peppermint

Another way to utilize the tea is for compresses. Soaking a clean towel in the hot, steeped herb can do wonders for headaches. Just place the towel on your forehead, lie down and relax. You can use the same method for sunburn. Just allow the towel to cool and replace as needed.

In addition to the herb, I always keep some pure peppermint essential oil on hand. It packs a bigger punch than the fresh or dried herb and one or two drops will usually do the job. A drop massaged into each temple always eases my headaches. Be sure to wash your hands afterwards because you DO NOT want to get it in your eyes. If you do: washing your eyes out with cool water will usually help. Because of its antiseptic properties, a couple drops of the oil on a minor kitchen burn or scrape can help sterilize the skin and ease the pain.

Putting a few drops into steaming water and draping your head over the water with a towel can relieve sinus congestion. You can also put a couple drops into your palms and rub them together briskly, creating warmth, and then cup your hands at your nose and breathe deeply. This also helps for concentration and focus. But be careful to only breathe this two or three times, as this can stimulate the heart and possibly cause lightheadedness and burning eyes. Use in an aromatherapy diffuser to provide an overall uplifting and enthusiastic feeling to any room.

I keep a bar of peppermint soap in my shower. For me, there is nothing like the magic of mint in a steaming bath or shower. It lifts my spirit and is super soothing for skin rashes. Adding a few drops of oil to your favorite lotion makes a great foot balm, and gargling with an infusion of the herb freshens the breath!

While the benefits of this herb are far-reaching, exercise caution if you are pregnant or nursing. Do not overuse peppermint in any form for any condition. The suggestions printed here are from experiences I’ve benefited from personally and do not mean they will work the same for you. Every body is different. Consult your doctor if you are more comfortable doing so.

The possibilities of this aromatic herb are many, far more than what I’ve included here. I encourage you to explore it further and maybe plant some in your own yard to enjoy its plentiful benefits. However, if you would like to avoid a mint takeover, I’d suggest potting it.”

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