Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com Eat well and heal!™ Mon, 26 Jan 2015 22:06:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 5 Unique Benefits of Collagen Protein Powder http://empoweredsustenance.com/benefits-of-collagen-protein/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/benefits-of-collagen-protein/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8486 I debated using the term  “protein powder” in the title of this post, because I feel that doesn’t do justice to collagen. Collagen is so much more bang for your buck without the questionable processing steps or additives of popular protein powders. But looking at collagen from the perspective of protein, it is a highly adaptable way to increase […]

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5 benefits of collagen protein powder

I debated using the term  “protein powder” in the title of this post, because I feel that doesn’t do justice to collagen. Collagen is so much more bang for your buck without the questionable processing steps or additives of popular protein powders. But looking at collagen from the perspective of protein, it is a highly adaptable way to increase your intake of highly digestible, nutrient-dense protein.

This post is kindly sponsored by Vital Proteins. As you know, I only work with companies when I’ve had an extremely positive experience with their product, when I’ve personally spoken with the founder(s), and when I admire the integrity of the company.

What is Vital Proteins Collagen?

5 benefits of collagen protein powder

Vital Proteins offers two forms of collagen – one that gels (gelatin) and one that dissolves instantly and can be used as a protein powder.

Before getting into the benefits of their collagen, it’s important to understand the difference between Vital Protein’s Collagen Peptides and Vital Protein’s Collagen Protein (gelatin).

Collagen Peptides –  (Blue lid) These peptides are derived from gelatin, and contain the same amino acids as gelatin. The main difference is use – the peptides dissolve instantly in hot or cold liquids without gelling for an easy nutrition boost.

Collagen Protein – (Green lid)  Think gelatin. Remember, it has the same nutritional benefits of collagen peptides because it is the same amino acids. However, collagen protein can be used to make homemade jello or gummies because it gels.

How does Vital Proteins compare to other grassfed collagen?

First, I want to address the primary question that popped into my head when I was introduced to Vital Proteins: “Why Vital Proteins over that other brand of grassfed gelatin I’ve been using and recommending?”

If you are familiar with many of the recipes I’ve shared, such as my Tulsi Gelee and Coconut Flour Pancakes with Gelatin, you’ll likely have seen my recommendation for Great Lakes grassfed gelatin.

After discussing this question with Vital Proteins, I was impressed with their graciousness and honesty. Here’s how Vital Proteins sets themselves apart: 

  • Single-sourced pasture-raised bovine hide from Brazil. Unlike gelatin and collagen sourced from Argentina, where cattle are typically grain finished, Vital Proteins is sourced from cattle grazing on perennial tropical grass pasture systems. Vital Proteins also ensures the pasture size for each animal is at least 2.67 acres, the standard of the Global Animal Partnership’s 5-step Animal Welfare Rating Standards.
  • Non-BPA, air-tight canisters prevent moisture. They hermetically induction seal their canisters to prevent any moisture from entering. Collagen is very hygroscopic and without this protection, the collagen will start to degrade due to bacteria. Cardboard canisters are more susceptible to moisture and contamination from odors and chemicals. 
  • Excellent customer service, no back orders, and free shipping on all orders. 

I’m a loyal convert to Vital Proteins. Now, here are some of the unique benefits of collagen!

collagen protein powder nutrition

1. Collagen supports skin health

Vital Proteins has collected significant research showing that ingestion of collagen supports skin health and rejuvenation. According to Vital Protein’s discussion on collagen and skin health,

When collagen is digested, the peptides are attracted to cells that synthesize collagen in the human body, fibroblasts, and are the most common cells of connective tissues in the skin. Collagen peptides may bring about the production and reorganization of new collagen fibers by stimulating the fibroblasts cells. Furthermore, some studies show that collagen peptides increase the density and diameter of collagen fibrils in the dermis and may improve the strength of skin. (Sources)

I was excited but not surprised to learn that clinical studies show that daily consumption of collagen significantly improves skin elasticity and moisture. I emphasize my collagen intake during the winter, when I feel like my skin needs extra support from the dry air.

2. Collagen supports balanced hormones

The interesting research on gelatin proteins and hormones comes from controversial health researcher Dr. Ray Peat. I think Dr. Peat has many excellent points, although I also keep in mind bioindividuality when reading his more controversial work.

In one of his articles, Dr. Peat writes,

Gelatin is a protein which contains no tryptophan, and only small amounts of cysteine, methionine, and histidine. Using gelatin as a major dietary protein is an easy way to restrict the amino acids that are associated with many of the problems of aging.[…]

When only the muscle meats are eaten, the amino acid balance entering our blood stream is the same as that produced by extreme stress, when cortisol excess causes our muscles to be broken down to provide energy and material for repair. The formation of serotonin is increased by the excess tryptophan in muscle, and serotonin stimulates the formation of more cortisol, while the tryptophan itself, along with the excess muscle-derived cysteine, suppresses the thyroid function.

[…]If a person eats a large serving of meat, it’s probably helpful to have 5 or 10 grams of gelatin at approximately the same time, so that the amino acids enter the blood stream in balance. (Read more)

By helping to balance the tryptophan, collagen can supports healthy thyroid function and reduces the metabolic stress of increased cortisol. Thyroid and metabolism go hand-in-hand, so gelatin may actually increase metabolism by improving thyroid function.

3. Collagen supports bone and joint health

Collagen makes up to 90% of bone mass, and several studies indicate that taking collagen internally can improve bone metabolism.  When it comes to building bone density, conventional medicine often looks solely at calcium. This is a tremendous mistake, because cofactors in bone metabolism such as vitamin K2, vitamin D and magnesium are as important – if not more so – than calcium intake for bone health. I recently discussed this topic in my post, 3 Reasons Why I Avoid Calcium Supplements.

Collagen supplementation is likely another key factor in improving bone health along with other vitamin and mineral cofactors. The research Vital Proteins has collected on collagen and bone shows that the presence of collagen peptides stimulate osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation.

Studies also suggest that collagen supplementation can improve joint pain. In these studies, those with the most severe joint damage benefited the most (sources).

4. Collagen supports digestion and satiety

5 benefits of collagen protein powderI’m not a fan of protein powders, because they are often highly processed and not well-absorbed forms of protein. Collagen peptides, on the other hand, are one of my favorite ways to boost my protein intake and create nutrient-dense protein shakes. Collagen peptides are essentially pure protein: two scoops of Vital Proteins collagen provides 18 grams of protein!

Interestingly, studies show that collagen peptides consumed at breakfast are 40% more satiating than other proteins (such as whey or soy) and correlate to a 20% reduction of food intake at lunch. (Sources).

Additionally, the amino acids in collagen provide unique soothing and reparative properties for the digestive tract. The high concentration of the amino acid glycine stimulates stomach acid production and thereby improves digestion and nutrient assimilation. Low stomach acid is a chronic problem that leads to a cascade of symptoms in the entire body, so increasing stomach acid often alleviates a host of issues. (Source.)

If I feel ill and not able to digest heavy foods, I’ll often fortify my tea with coconut oil and collagen for highly-digestible nourishment.

5. Collagen is an extremely versatile addition

Unlike Vital Protein’s grassfed gelatin, their collagen peptides do not gel when added to cold liquid. It dissolves completely, and is tasteless and odorless. The only time I detect a hint of flavor is when I take it in plain water (which works in a pinch, but I wouldn’t recommend it). Instead, suggest mixing it into your beverages.

Here are some of the various ways that I incorporate Vital Proteins collagen into my day:

  • Blended into fruit smoothies
  • Stirred into anti-inflammatory Golden Milk, made with coconut milk and turmeric
  • Mixed into homemade bone broth, to boost the collagen already in the bone broth
  • In coffee and tea
  • In homemade ice cream (stir in a spoonful or two before processing in the ice cream maker)

Vital Proteins Coupon

I now you’ve been waiting for this, and here it is… the coupon information!

Vital Proteins is generously offering 20% off any order, plus the FREE shipping which they always offer.

Use coupon code: EMPOWERED-2015-2A8C It expires February 16th. I know you’ll enjoy Vital Proteins as much as I do!

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Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins http://empoweredsustenance.com/autoimmune-paleo-muffins/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/autoimmune-paleo-muffins/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 21:22:12 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8551 From Lauren: This post for Autoimmune Paleo Muffins comes from Martine Partridge at The Paleo Partridge. I asked Martine to share a recipe with you after I fell in love with the beautiful and delicious autoimmune-friendly recipes on her site. Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins Pumpkin, banana, cranberry, cinnamon, you name it: muffins are mainstream. We see […]

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Banana + blueberry autoimmune paleo muffins

From Lauren: This post for Autoimmune Paleo Muffins comes from Martine Partridge at The Paleo Partridge. I asked Martine to share a recipe with you after I fell in love with the beautiful and delicious autoimmune-friendly recipes on her site.

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Pumpkin, banana, cranberry, cinnamon, you name it: muffins are mainstream. We see them packaged up at convenience stores and coffee shops. We find many a muffin mix at the supermarket. We are likely offered muffins along with the usual cup o’ joe at those tedious early-morning work meetings.

Banana + blueberry autoimmune paleo muffinsAnd yet, in spite of their popularity, I haven’t nommed on a muffin in quite some time. Since starting paleo and then especially since committing to AIP, muffins have been nonexistent in my repertoire of things to eat.

And while I certainly don’t miss the icky, inflammatory ingredients of processed muffins, I do at times miss their snackability. So I got to thinking, why not an AIP-friendly muffin?

After many test kitchen trial runs, I’m pleased to share this wonderful recipe for banana muffins here on Empowered Sustenance!

Baking without eggs presents a challenge, to say the least, so I’m especially excited by the consistency of these muffins. They aren’t crumbly, which make them perfect for portable snacks. They freeze well, which I do since the consumption of too much coconut flour can be troublesome for even the most stalwart stomachs. And they are, simply put, delicious! Even the non-paleo peeps enjoy snacking on these muffins.

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Yield: Makes 10-12 muffins

Banana Autoimmune Paleo Muffins

Muffins without grains, dairy, nuts/seeds and eggs? Yes, it's possible! These nourishing Banana Muffins feature coconut flour and use gelatin as an egg substitute. I recommend using a high-quality grassfed gelatin for the recipe, this is the brand I love.

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c coconut flour, available here
  • ¼ c arrowroot flour, available here
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 bananas, mashed (Make sure they are yellow but slightly green; very ripe bananas do not work well)
  • 1/3 c coconut or palm oil, melted
  • ¼ c applesauce (pure, unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ c water, plus 1 tbsp gelatin (a.k.a. gelatin “egg”) (recommended gelatin available here)
  • Optional variations
  • Gently fold in 2-3 tbsp of fresh blueberries after mixing in the gelatin egg
  • Or if you are not following AIP, you could add in the same amount of mini chocolate chips.

Instructions

  1. Line muffin tin with parchment paper liners. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, sea salt, cinnamon, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. In another bowl using an electric mixer, combine the mashed bananas, melted oil, applesauce, and vanilla. Mix well.
  4. In a small saucepan, add the ¼ c water and sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Allow this to sit for about two minutes.
  5. While the gelatin is “blooming,” add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and beat until combined.
  6. Turning your attention back to the saucepan, turn the heat to medium-low to melt the gelatin. This takes about one minute. Then whisk until very frothy. Work quickly. Add this to the batter, and stir.
  7. Using heaping tablespoon measures to drop the batter into your prepared muffin tin.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until lightly golden on top.
  9. This recipe makes 10-12 muffins. They are delicious served hot from the oven – no need to cool down as they hold together so well.
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About Martine Partridge

martineMartine Partridge is an eater of paleo and AIP food. She is also a combatter of Crohn’s Disease. When Martine isn’t ogling food photos or creating scrumptious paleo and AIP dishes to share with friends and family, she is practicing yoga, reading a novel, hanging with her darling husband and sweet pup. She is forever grateful to her parents for their unconditional love and incredible support, especially through the darkest days of dealing with Crohn’s Disease. Martine also admires and applauds the strength and inspiration of her fellow AI warriors who refuse to let disease define them and who continue to fight against autoimmunity. For more food and AIP-lifestyle ideas, follow Martine’s blog, thepaleopartridge.com, and check her out on Instagram, @the_paleo_partridge, Twitter, @PaleoPartridge, as well as on her Facebook Page, The Paleo Partridge.

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Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake (GAPS and Paleo) http://empoweredsustenance.com/coconut-flour-cake/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/coconut-flour-cake/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 00:36:07 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8542 From Lauren: This stunning Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake recipe comes from my friend Melanie Christner. Melanie is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner like me and also a Certified GAPS Instructor. The GAPS Diet – a temporary healing protocol – was where I started years ago when I first started using food to manage my autoimmune disease. GAPS […]

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Strawberry coconut flour cake

From Lauren: This stunning Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake recipe comes from my friend Melanie Christner. Melanie is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner like me and also a Certified GAPS Instructor. The GAPS Diet – a temporary healing protocol – was where I started years ago when I first started using food to manage my autoimmune disease.

GAPS is a powerful tool, but it can be hard to get started and stay on track. That’s why Melanie created her unique and highly popular GAPS Class. It’s a 12-module course with individual support from Melanie. Registration for the winter course closes January 25th, 2015. Learn more and sign up here if you are interested!

Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake

I love surprising guests with something that tastes great, yet is made without grains and white sugar. Recently, I had another chance to pull off a fun culinary confection when it was my daughter’s 10th birthday. I let her have her choice of cakes to celebrate, and she chose a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting. So with a little inspiration, I developed this GAPS Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake.

Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake

Yield: Makes 1 9" round cake, for 8-10 servings

Strawberry Coconut Flour Cake

This gorgeous grain free, GAPS-friendly cake makes a stunning birthday cake. This recipe is for one 9 inch round cake. The recipe can either be doubled, for a two-layer taller cake, or carefully serrated in half for two layers of cake from one pan. When cooled completely, frost with a double batch of GAPS Strawberry Buttercream.

Ingredients

    For the cake
  • 1/2 cup fresh strawberries, diced
  • 5 tablespoons chilled butter, grated
  • 1 cup coconut flour, available here or at health food stores (to measure, stir coconut flour with a fork, then dip in the measuring cup and level the top with the back of a knife)
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup raw honey, available here or at health food stores
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt (for GAPS, it should be 24 hour cultured homemade yogurt. Click here for a recipe.)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • For the frosting
  • Double batch of GAPS Strawberry Buttercream Frosting, recipe here

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment paper and coat the sides with butter or coconut oil.
  2. Put the honey and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix on medium-high (setting 6 on my Kitchen-aid mixer) for 5+ minutes, until pale yellow and frothy.
  3. Add the grated butter and mix for another minute.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix the coconut flour, salt, and baking soda together, then add to the honey and eggs mixture. Mix for about 1 minute.
  5. Gently mix in diced strawberries, yogurt and vanilla extract.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting.
http://empoweredsustenance.com/coconut-flour-cake/

Strawberry coconut flour cake

Want to try GAPS™?

gaps-ipadIf you are interested in improving the health of your brain, or that of your family members, the GAPS™ Protocol may be what you are looking for. The heart of GAPS is real food. Nourishing food. Healing food. Brain food. Gut food.

If you are considering GAPS already, or are already practicing it, but would like some support, check out Melanie’s family-friendly class here on the GAPS Protocol. Class is enrolling now, until January 25th, 2015.

Here is what a couple of the participants from the previous class had to say:

This class will provide you with the tools to be successful! If you intend to work with the GAPS diet, you will be much better prepared after taking this course. The Facebook forum is worth the price of the course all by itself… Don’t miss the opportunity to enroll!”

“Very good information about gut health, leaky gut, and how to heal it with GAPS and an awesome support community! Lots of great tips, recipes, and info on supplements to go along with the GAPS book. Access to our wonderful teacher, who patiently answered endless questions.”

For information and to register, please visit www.gapsclass.com.

About Melanie Christner, instructor of GAPS Class

melanieMelanie delights in helping you apply healing protocols to everyday life, while eating really great food…and becoming friends with your body again. She writes at HonestBody.com. As a mom of four children herself, she works with moms and their kiddos to help them feel their best and to have all the life and energy they were meant to have. Melanie is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Certified GAPS Practitioner, and Healing Foods Specialist (CFHS) in Vermont. For fun you can either find her playing in her kitchen, Nordic skiing, or swimming in the Green Mountain rivers with her family.

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Can Local Honey Reverse Pollen Allergies? http://empoweredsustenance.com/honey-for-allergies/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/honey-for-allergies/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 22:13:03 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8453 This post comes from honey expert Emi Higashiyama, who educates people on the many uses and health benefits of bee products. She previously wrote a guest post for here explaining what raw honey really means.  Local honey for allergies – does it work? Aside from raw honey, the most misunderstood beehive product is the concept of local honey. Vague rumors about […]

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Can local honey help allergies?

This post comes from honey expert Emi Higashiyama, who educates people on the many uses and health benefits of bee products. She previously wrote a guest post for here explaining what raw honey really means

Local honey for allergies – does it work?

Aside from raw honey, the most misunderstood beehive product is the concept of local honey. Vague rumors about its possible allergy-prevention virtues are becoming more prevalent, prompting people to seek honey that is “local”, thinking that it might be good for allergies. 

But what does “local” mean? How is honey qualified and identified as local? Is non-local honey bad or useless? 

What does “local honey” mean? 

The one aspect that’s confusing people is the word itself: local. The popular belief is that “local” honey must mean it comes from somewhere within fifteen or twenty miles of their residential neighborhood. Can it be within thirty miles? Or maybe it’s that many miles from where they work? How about a Venn diagram of sorts and the honey should come from the place where the fields of home of work overlap?

However the understanding of local honey has evolved, it has been seriously misdirected because it has far less to do with distance, and almost all to do with floral source. In other words, while distance does somewhat factor into the making of local honey, it doesn’t work the way people think it does. Geography, in this sense, has to do with the physical features of the land – and while we measure land by distance – we should really be measuring the efficacy of honey by its profile, which is determined by what flowers were pollinated in the production of the honey.

The characteristics of a honey’s benefits comes from the plants. For example, buckwheat honey is extremely effective in improving blood circulation. That’s because the buckwheat plant has medicinal properties that can heal capillary walls. Even if said buckwheat honey comes from far away, it will still carry those benefits (as well as many others) as long as it is raw.

Therein lies the potential problem of seeking only geographically local honey. Because some flowers only grow in certain places, there are so many that people will naturally never hear about. This has contributed to the idea of “local”, that it has to be a recognizable name, or it won’t work.  But what exactly is the thing that “works” in local honey? To understand that, we first need to understand pollen.

The role of pollen in allergies

Pollen deserves its own article, but in the context of raw or local honey, it’s essentially the key ingredient to allergy immunity.

When honeybees are collecting nectar (which is what turns into honey), they are also collecting pollen from the same flowers. The pollen is packed onto the bees legs (in their pollen baskets), and these pellets are taken back to the hive and stored inside the honeycomb. But bees have hairy bodies, and they move around a lot – and pollen is a powder – so the bees are covered in pollen by the time they go home. That means, as bees move around inside the hive, pollen is spread all over inside, including the honey. Therefore, as long as honey is raw, there will be traces of pollen mixed in. 

This is good news, even though it may take some convincing for people to see it that way. Pollen has somehow become Public Enemy #1 because it is the source of seasonal allergies. What people are allergic to is pollen, flying around in the air when flowers start blooming, and it causes some confusion as to how pollen can be a good thing. (Some people would say they are allergic to honey, which I suspect has more to do with the pollen that’s lurking about inside the honey.) 

For one thing, pollen is a really powerful protein. Without it, bees could not survive. Everyone thinks, because they’re called honeybees, that bees live off honey (or nectar), but it’s really the pollen that sustains them. That’s why inexperienced beekeepers, who provide lots of nectar or nectar-like substitutes – but no pollen – will inevitably have dead hives because they were too focused on the wrong food source. 

Each flower produces a different type of pollen, so while the numbers are slightly different, it’s a safe average to say that a quarter-cup of pollen provides similar amounts of protein as an 8-oz steak. Horse farmers often buy pollen as supplemental feed. Pollen, as a protein source, is that powerful.

Unfortunately, it’s what many bodies can’t tolerate.

How can honey help pollen allergies? 

honeycombPollen can be inflammatory, but honey has anti-inflammatory properties. Given the right proportions, the degree of inflammation caused by pollen can be overcome by the honey. Therefore, assuming that the body is reacting to a specific pollen (and developing an allergy), the presence of honey may be inhibiting the reaction to the point where the person doesn’t realize there is any allergic reaction going on.

 If everything goes right, the honeys defenses against pollen will eventually become a “command” within the body to not go nuts when it detects the pollen. In other words, we can harness the body’s power to heal itself by training the body to react to irritants the way we want it to (with the aid of other substances).

Not all honey is equal; some are more potent in their anti-inflammatory properties than others. But if the honey comes from the same place as the pollen, it’s safe to assume that because they are parts of the same whole (flower), they can work together to balance each other out. That’s really the only geographical-nearness factor that applies to the concept of local honey. 

For example, if someone is allergic to alfalfa pollen, it makes sense to consume alfalfa honey. Does it matter if the alfalfa honey is from within a certain number of miles radius? No, it really doesn’t. It could be alfalfa honey from another state or another country, and it should work fine. 

People so often want “regular” honey (which I think is a disgrace of name), or some name/taste they can recognize – so they buy clover honey. Is that effective? My answer would be a mixed no: a) if it was mass produced, which is a big likelihood, it’s no longer raw, b) for various reasons, clover pollen is not really that prevalent, so clover pollen allergies aren’t that serious, c) clover honey is not a particularly high performer in the beneficial scope, and d) there are so many more honeys to choose from! If there is nothing else available, then yes, buy clover honey. But other honeys are so worth the consideration.

But what if I want to buy raw honey?

Then buy raw honey… that is local. This is another major misunderstanding of honey – that it’s an either/or choice between raw or local. Raw just means the temperature hasn’t climbed to a point where enzymes (and pollen) have been killed off. Local means identification of where the nectar and pollen came from. 

In no way would “raw” or “local” contradict each other. For people who have little or not allergies to pollen, there’s no need to buy local honey. Buy any honey from anywhere, and simply enjoy honey for the wholesome natural sweetener that it is.

Don’t get too hung up on geographical location of honey

If we operated on the misunderstood concept of local honey, then there’s no point in anyone outside of New Zealand ever buying and using manuka honey (available here), arguably the world’s most powerful honey. Manuka’s great healing reputation has everybody scrambling to shell out lots of money, but if “local” were the most important acquisition factor, nobody else in the world should bother buying it because manuka honey is only “local” within New Zealand (and therefore outside its efficacy range if used in any other country). Except so many people continue to buy manuka honey… because it works.

And that’s the overriding concept: honey (whether it’s local or from afar) has unique properties that makes it an extremely beneficial food. There are so many ways to categorize it (by floral source, color, taste, medicinal properties, and even geographical location), but in the end, it’s simply nature’s wholesome sweetener.

Sources

Birch pollen honey for birch pollen allergy,” “Honey: its medicinal property and antibacterial properties,” “The use of bee pollen as a superfood.”

About Emi Higashiyama

emi headshotEmi Higashiyama is a globetrotting freelancer – some of those freelancing activities include writing, sort-of beekeeping, and classical harp performance. She blogs over at aiparoundworld.blogspot.com, helping non-US residents source autoimmune protocol-friendly ingredients and supplies.

 

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3 Reasons To Avoid Calcium Supplements http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-calcium-supplements/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-calcium-supplements/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:46:19 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8461 In general, my family doesn’t bat an eye at my unusual nutrition habits. They’ve seen first hand how my dietary changes took me from chronically ill to full of life. So, on the whole, they accept that I’m doing what is best for my body. But still, my parents are understandably concerned with some of my […]

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3 reasons to avoid calcium supplements

In general, my family doesn’t bat an eye at my unusual nutrition habits. They’ve seen first hand how my dietary changes took me from chronically ill to full of life. So, on the whole, they accept that I’m doing what is best for my body. But still, my parents are understandably concerned with some of my food habits, such as when I started fortifying my smoothies with raw pastured egg yolks (“Are you sure you’re not inviting salmonella?” they asked. Nope, here’s why I’m not).

One thing that concerned my mom was my lack of calcium supplementation. A while ago, she asked me,”Since you haven’t eaten dairy for a long time, I’m worried that you aren’t getting enough calcium. Why don’t you take a calcium supplement?

I smiled, told her not to worry, and thanked her for a great blog post suggestion.

1. Calcium supplements are shown to be harmful

In a nutshell, the problem with taking calcium supplements is that your body cannot utilize isolated calcium. Unless calcium is paired with cofactors (discussed below), it cannot be taken into the bones.

As a result, the body doesn’t know what to do with the calcium, but it has to put it somewhere. One theory is that the non-useable calcium contributes to plaque formation (mineral deposits in the arteries), which is why calcium supplements are shown to increase the risk of heart disease.

Wait a minute… calcium supplements raise the risk of heart disease? Yep! One of my favorite nutrition researchers, Chris Kresser, compiled many studies on calcium supplementation in his post, “Calcium Supplements: Why You Should Think Twice.” Here’s what he found:

  • Calcium supplementation isn’t correlated with bone health. This study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that calcium supplementation doesn’t reduce fracture rates in older women.
  • Calcium supplementation is correlated with increased heart disease. This study of 24,000 people found that those taking calcium supplements had a 139% greater risk of heart attacks during the 11-year study (calcium-rich foods did not increase the risk).
  • This meta-analysis found that calcium supplements significantly increased the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • And this study of 12,000 men showed that calcium supplementation increased the risk of death from heart disease by 20%.

2. Calcium absorption is all about the cofactors

The simple rule when it comes to calcium? Here’s a simple and annoying way to remember! Sing the following to the chorus tune of All About That Bass:

It’s all about cofactors, ’bout cofactors, ’bout cofactors, no supplements…

Without cofactors – the nutrients that work in synergy with other nutrients – your body cannot use calcium to strengthen bones. It’s as simple as that.

Although every mineral and vitamin could be considered a cofactor of calcium, the following are particularly important:

  • Vitamin K2 activates the protein osteocalcin found in bones, which allows the bones to “hold on” to calcium. It also protects the arteries from calcium deposits.
  • Vitamin D acts like a steroid hormone in the body and helps the body utilize calcium.
  • Magnesium works as a counter-balance for calcium, and is needed in balance with calcium for heart health and proper muscle function.

Vitamin K2 may be the most vital cofactor for calcium absorption. It can be described as the”shuttle” that transports calcium into the bones. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires fatty acids to be absorbed. It is not to be confused with K1, a water-soluble vitamin found in leafy greens.

A higher intake of K2 is correlated with a significant reduction in heart disease and bone fractures (source).

Sources of vitamin K2 include: 

  • Pastured egg yolks
  • Dairy products from grass-grazing animals. Search for “pasture butter” or Kerrygold butter at your grocery store.
  • Grassfed ghee, available here, is an excellent source, and a versatile cooking fat which I use for sauteeing and baking.
  • Liver – try homemade liver pate or these grassfed desiccated liver capsules.
  • Aged and hard cheeses, such as brie, gouda, and edam.
  • Natto, a fermented soybean product. This is the only non-animal source of K2.

I highly, highly recommend reading Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by naturopathic doctor Kate Rheaume-Bleue.

3. Whole foods are the best source of calcium

Humans have built strong bones without calcium supplements since the dawn of of humanity. After all, real food is the best source of both calcium and calcium cofactors!

cheese sliceGrassfed dairy products – dairy is ubiquitously applauded as the be-all-end-all source of calcium, but we need to look at the bigger picture. First, dairy from factory-farmed cows has virtually negligible levels of K2 and other fat-soluble vitamins. Second, the pasteurization and homogenenization makes it very difficult to digest. Finally, dairy is not tolerated well my many people. If it causes an inflammatory response, it’s not going to support healthy bones.

If you tolerate dairy, it can be an excellent source of calcium and k2. Seek out aged cheeses, grassfed ghee, grassfed butter, and raw milk for the most nutrients.

Leafy greens – Kale, bok choy, spinach and collard greens are good sources of calcium. Remember to serve them with a source of k2, such as pastured eggs, melted butter or ghee.

Blackstrap molasses – If you use sweeteners in your daily coffee, a great substitute would be switching sugar for molasses. A tablespoon of blackstrap molasses contains 8% of the daily value of calcium.

Canned seafood  – Canned sardines and canned salmon contain the fish bones, an excellent source of calcium. If you haven’t eaten these options before, don’t let that turn you off – the bones are barely noticeable as texture.

Black eyed peas and white beans – Although legumes can be difficult to digest for some people, they can be a good source of calcium. I highly recommend properly preparing them by soaking them to reduce the anti-nutrients.

Homemade bone broth… is it a source of calcium?  Here’s a surprise: Bone broth, homemade or otherwise, is not a good source of calcium according to this research by author and traditional food advocate Kaayla Daniel! However, it is important for building healthy bones. According to Kaayla, “Bone is built on a scaffold of collagen, making collagen the most important bone building component in broth.” (Read more here).

In conclusion…

In summary, the best ways to get adequate calcium and ensure you are absorbing it includes:

  • Think twice about calcium supplements, which lack cofactors required for calcium utilization
  • Focus on real food sources of calcium, such as leafy greens and raw dairy products
  • Enjoy foods and food-based supplements rich in calcium co-factors, such as grassfed dairy and cod liver oil
  • Increase your magnesium intake with foods and specific supplements
  • Support healthy fat digestion so you are able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins

Do you emphasize real food sources of calcium? And please share this post with your family and friends to help spread the message that calcium is all about cofactors!

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My Favorite Non-Toxic Makeup for Sensitive Skin http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-makeup/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/non-toxic-makeup/#comments Wed, 07 Jan 2015 21:43:04 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=7666 I’m frequently asked about what products I use on a daily basis, so this is another installment in a series that has already covered: What’s in my natural first aid kit? What’s in my natural medicine cabinet? Many of these products are items that I’ve settled on after trying numerous brands. All of them fit my […]

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non-toxic makeup for sensitive skin

I’m frequently asked about what products I use on a daily basis, so this is another installment in a series that has already covered:

Many of these products are items that I’ve settled on after trying numerous brands. All of them fit my strict ingredient standards for purity and sustainability.

I enjoy makeup and find it a fun challenge to find the best-performing, natural-looking options with non-toxic ingredients. My philosophy is also higher quality and less quantity – I’d prefer to have one excellent non-toxic lipstick than six chemical-laden ones. I hope this is helpful to you if you are currently switching to chemical-free cosmetics!

Non-Toxic Makeup for Sensitive Skin

non-toxic makeup for sensitive skin

W3ll People Bio-Extreme Mascaraavailable here – Recently, I shared my Natural Mascara Showdown in which I reviewed the numerous mascaras I’ve tried. The W3ll people mascara is by far my favorite for seriously full but non-clumpy lashes. (It’s closely followed closely by 100% Pure Mascara, available here).

100% Pure Eyeshadowavailable here – I use the dark brown shade as an eyeliner. I’ve had a good experiences with the other eyeshadow colors I’ve tried from 100% Pure. They are richly pigmented and I completely trust the ingredient integrity of this brand.

Pearl powder - available here - Pearl powder has been used as a cosmetic for thousands of years in China. I use it as a loose powder. Read this post to learn how I use it as a face powder.

W3LL People Foundation Powder - available here – I’ve tried many mineral foundation powders, and my sensitive skin tells me immediately which ones to avoid. Anything with bismuth oxychloride – an ingredient found in many mineral powders – is a no-go for me. The W3LL People powder provides good coverage without looking like makeup and agrees with my skin.

non-toxic makeup for sensitive skinAlima Pure Mineral Concealer – available here – Most mineral concealer powders either irritate my skin or fail in their concealing abilities. This one is full coverage, silky, and gentle. If you have very light skin like me, note that the fairest shade is extremely fair. I’m the second-to-the-lightest shade.

Alima Mineral Color Correctoravailable here – Just very light dusting tames down red undertones, if your skin tends toward redness like mine.

Lip products – These are indulgences, but they are my little luxuries and I know the ingredients are completely clean. I like the Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioners (available here).

Blush – I don’t usually wear blush. If I do, I just dab a little bit of lipstick on my cheeks (before powder), blend well, and call it a day.

Makeup brushes – I use the Eco Tools brushes, they are inexpensive and I’ve had the same kit for 4 years. You can get them on Amazon here or at most drugstores.

I hope you enjoyed this peak into my natural makeup bag. I’d love to hear what natural cosmetics you use and recommend!

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Paleo Shortbread Cookies (With Coconut Flour) http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-shortbread-cookies-coconut-flour/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-shortbread-cookies-coconut-flour/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 17:29:43 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8458 Paleo Shortbread Cookies These cookies. Oh my goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten anything this delicious! I haven’t done much baking in the past few months since moving to Bastyr. First, I’ve been very busy with my full school load, and I focus my cooking energy on the necessary things (meals, not cookies). […]

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paleo shortbread cookies with coconut flour

Paleo Shortbread Cookies

These cookies. Oh my goodness, it’s been a long time since I’ve eaten anything this delicious!

I haven’t done much baking in the past few months since moving to Bastyr. First, I’ve been very busy with my full school load, and I focus my cooking energy on the necessary things (meals, not cookies). Second, if I make a batch of cookies, then I’ll eat it. So there is that.

But over Christmas break, I had time to crack out my coconut flour and do some baking. These Paleo Shortbread Cookies not only melt in your mouth, but they are extremely simple and fast to prepare.

These shortbread cookies pair beautifully with a cup of tea or spread with jam. I also like to crumble them over baked pears for a delicious crunchy topping.

About the ingredients

Coconut flour – My favorite grain free flour, coconut flour provides the base for the recipe. The process of baking the cookies seems to bring out a toasted coconut flavor, which I adore. Coconut flour is available here or at health food stores.

Arrowroot flour – Another one of my favorite grain free flours, arrowroot flour lends a melt-in-your-mouth factor to this shortbread. Arrowroot flour is available here or at health food stores.

Coconut sugar – Coconut sugar is a mineral-rich, unrefined sweetener made from dehydrated coconut sap. It is lower glycemic than many other sweeteners and has a faint maple flavor that works beautifully in this recipe. Processing it in a blender for this recipe creates a superfine sugar that allows these cookies to melt in your mouth. Coconut sugar is available here or at health food stores.

paleo shortbread cookies with coconut flour

Paleo Shortbread with Coconut Flour

Yield: 10 cookies

Paleo Shortbread with Coconut Flour

These shortbread cookies simply melt in your mouth and pair beautifully with a cuppa tea. It's important to let the cookies cool completely before removing from the baking sheet, since they will crumble while warm.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, available here
  • 2 Tbs. arrowroot flour, available here
  • 1/4 cup superfine coconut sugar (see note below) coconut sugar is available here
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional

Instructions

  1. First, make the superfine coconut sugar by blending the coconut sugar in a high-powered blender. See the note below for instructions. This ensures that the coconut sugar is not crunchy or gritty in the finished cookies.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  3. To properly measure the coconut flour for this recipe, don't pack the flour into the measuring cup. Stir the flour with a fork, dip the measuring cup into the flour, then level the top.
  4. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Use a tablespoon measure to drop the cookie dough onto the baking sheet, making slightly flattened balls (the cookie dough will not be very stiff).
  6. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until just golden. The key is watching the cookies carefully during the brief baking period, because they brown very quickly. Remove the tray from the oven and let cook for at least 15 minutes before removing from the baking sheet, or they will crumble.
  7. The cookies will be very delicate at room temperature. For a crunchier and sturdier cookie, place in the freezer for at least 5 hours and enjoy from the freezer. Store the cookies in the freezer.

Notes

To make superfine coconut sugar, place 3/4 - 1 cup of coconut sugar into a high powered blender. A Vitamix or Blentec works well, but I love using my Ninja Blender. Blend on high speed for about 2-3 minutes, until the sugar is finely ground and a bit powdery. It will not be as fine as powdered sugar, however. You can use the leftover sugar for sweetening beverages or desserts.

http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-shortbread-cookies-coconut-flour/

I hope you enjoy the recipe! Eat well and heal™!

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10 Ways to Make a Hamburger Without Bread! http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-hamburger-buns/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/paleo-hamburger-buns/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 15:57:57 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8433   “I’ll have a hamburger, hold the bun” If you are on a grain free diet, it’s more than likely that you’ve spoken these words, either at a restaurant or backyard barbecue. A hamburger without a bun is more like a meat patty than a hamburger, though. It defeats the whole point of a handheld […]

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paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

 

“I’ll have a hamburger, hold the bun”

If you are on a grain free diet, it’s more than likely that you’ve spoken these words, either at a restaurant or backyard barbecue. A hamburger without a bun is more like a meat patty than a hamburger, though. It defeats the whole point of a handheld packet of meat and filling.

Here are 10 options that I’ve used to create grain free paleo hamburgers. Feel free to mix your favorite bun with your favorite fillings. I hope you enjoy the ideas!

1. Paleo Sandwich Rounds

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

You’ll never guess the main ingredient in these easy grain free sandwich rounds: shredded carrot! They require only 5 minutes of prep.

Recipe: Paleo Sandwich Rounds from me

2. Plantain Sandwich Rounds

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

Without grains, dairy, nuts/seeds, coconut, and eggs, this recipe is fits the bill if you have numerous food restrictions. It’s a great bun for the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol.

Recipe: Plantain Sandwich Rounds from Delicious Obsessions

3. Sweet Potato Buns

paleo hamburger buns 11

A virtually one-ingredient way to make a paleo hamburger bun? Slice sweet potatoes with the skin on, then grill or bake. It pairs wonderfully with slighter sweeter meat, such as bison.

Recipe: Sweet Potato Sliders with Portobello, Red Pepper and Pesto from Our Four Forks

4. Paleo Hamburger Buns – with cashews

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

Cashews create a homemade, neutral-tasting nut flour for the base in these hamburger buns.

Recipe: Paleo Hamburger Buns from Against All Grain

5. Paleo Hamburger Buns – with coconut flour and tapioca flour

paleo hamburger buns 14

These are soft and hold up well to fillings. It’s an excellent nut-free option, featuring coconut (which is not a tree nut) and tapioca flour. You can find tapioca flour here or at most health food stores.

Recipe: Paleo Hamburger Buns from A Girl Worth Saving

6. Tomato Buns

paleo hamburger buns 10

Sun-ripened tomatoes can house your burger and accompaniments. You might wish to scoop out the seeds to make a less juicy bun.

Recipe: Tomato Buns from The Iron You

7. Portobello Mushroom Buns

paleo hamburger buns 12

Quickly roasted, portobellos make a meaty and “bready” paleo hamburger bun.

Recipe: Portobello Buns from The Iron You

8. Paleo Hamburger Buns – with coconut flour

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

A simple and tasty recipe featuring nutrient-dense coconut flour, eggs and butter.

Recipe: Coconut Flour Hamburger Buns from SCD Foodie

9. Paleo Hamburger Buns – with taro and coconut flour

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

This recipe uses cooked taro, a starchy root vegetable often found in Asian food markets. It’s an excellent grain free baking ingredient.

Recipe: Hamburger Buns from Studio Snacks

10. Butternut Flatbread

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

 

I love the versatility of these grain free flatbreads, which use a bit of grassfed gelatin for structure and a nutrient-boost. Use them for sandwiches, mini pizza crusts or hamburger buns.

Recipe: Grain Free Butternut Flatbread from me

paleo hamburger buns - 10 ways to make a bread-free hamburger!

 Do you have any other ideas for bread-free hamburger buns? If you enjoy these ideas, please share with your friends and family!

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10 Reasons to Never Ever Drink Soy Milk http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-soy-milk/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/avoid-soy-milk/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 17:47:44 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8003 There’s never an excuse soy milk Some lactose-intolerant folks drink it because they want a milk substitute. Some health-conscious people drink it because they think it is the “heart-healthy low fat option.” And some vegans drink it because they don’t want to drink cow milk. But no matter what reason you have for drinking soy milk, it […]

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10 reasons to never drink soy milk!

There’s never an excuse soy milk

Some lactose-intolerant folks drink it because they want a milk substitute. Some health-conscious people drink it because they think it is the “heart-healthy low fat option.” And some vegans drink it because they don’t want to drink cow milk.

But no matter what reason you have for drinking soy milk, it is not a valid excuse. Soy milk is not a food and has no place in anyone’s diet.

Soymilk Ingredients

Ironically, almost every ingredient in soymilk  is cause for serious concern. Here are the ingredients in Silk Soymilk:

Soymilk (Filtered Water, Whole Soybeans), Cane Sugar, Sea Salt, Carrageenan, Natural Flavor, Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D2, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12.

What’s so terrible with this ingredient list? There are 10 reasons below!

1. Phytoestrogens in Soy

Soy is extremely high in phytoestrogens, which are plant compounds that look like estrogen to the body. Does this mean that soy milk will disrupt your hormones? Perhaps, but studies are highly conflicting and likely biased by the soy industry.

Although studies showing the hormonal effects of consuming soy are controversial, play it safe rather than sorry. Consider the following research:

  • One study showed that infants consuming soy formula had concentrations of blood estrogen levels 13,000 to 22,000 times higher than normal estrogen levels. It is reasonable to theorize from this study that soy consumption does indeed wreak havoc on normal estrogen levels.
  • Numerous animal studies (here and here) show that soy phytoestrogens can cause breast cancer. Studies (here and here) show that soy consumption increases the proliferation of potentially carcinogenic breast cells.
  • This list of studies from 1939 – 2008 shows various adverse effects of soy consumption
  • Researcher Kris Gunnars compiled an exhaustive and unbiased summary of soy research here and pointed out, “every study I looked at that showed beneficial effect, the study was either sponsored by the soy industry, or the authors had some kind of financial ties to the soy industry.” He also discusses that studies showing benefits of soy consumption are often observational studies, which are often unreliable.

2. Phytic Acid in Soy

Soy contains high levels of phytic acid, a compound that reduces the absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc. As a result, soy milk also contains problematic amounts of this anti-nutrient. 

In this thorough article on the phytic acid, author Ramiel Nagel explains:

Phytic acid is the principal storage form of phosphorus in many plant tissues, especially the bran portion of grains and other seeds. It contains the mineral phosphorus tightly bound in a snowflake-like molecule.

In humans and animals with one stomach, the phosphorus is not readily bioavailable. In addition to blocking phosphorus availability, the “arms” of the phytic acid molecule readily bind with other minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc, making them unavailable as well. In this form, the compound is referred to as phytate.

Phytic acid not only grabs on to or chelates important minerals, but also inhibits enzymes that we need to digest our food, including pepsin, needed for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, and amylase, needed for the breakdown of starch into sugar. Trypsin, needed for protein digestion in the small intestine, is also inhibited by phytates.

3. Unfermented Soy is Not A Traditional Food

The one book that is responsible for completely changing the way I looked at nutrition was Dr. Weson Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration. Dr. Price was a dentist who, in the 1930’s, traveled the world to discover the secrets of healthy cultures.

From the Inuit in Alaska to the Maori in New Zealand, Dr. Price discovered that when tribes consumed the foods that their ancestors had eaten for centuries, they produced strikingly healthy virtually devoid of chronic disease, infertility and tooth decay.

Most interestingly, the traditional diets – although dependent on geography – followed a strict set of dietary laws. For example, certain animal products like liver and fish eggs were seen as sacred and vital to health. The takeaway rule from Dr. Price’s book is that ancient cultures intrinsically knew what to eat, and how to prepare it, for optimal health.

When it comes to soy, we need to look at how traditional cultures enjoyed this food. Traditional Asian cultures have consumed soy for thousands of years, but they intuitively knew how to minimize the anti-nutrient aspects of this legume. They would ferment soy into soy sauce, tempeh or natto. The fermentation process drastically reduces the phytic acid levels.

While fermented forms of soy are traditional foods, unfermented soy products are not.

If soy milk was a truly nutritious and delicious way to prepare soy, you could bet that great-great-great-great Chinese grandmothers would have raised their children on soy milk.

4. Genetically Modified Soy

As of this year, the US Department of Agriculture reports that 90% of soy grown in the US is genetically modified to be resistant to Monsanto’s herbicide RoundUp.

These “RoundUp Ready” crops pose a serious threat to both human health and the health of the environment.

  • RoundUp Ready crops allow farmers to use even larger amounts of this toxic herbicide.
  • Concerning levels of glyphosphate, the active ingredient in RoundUp, is found on RoundUp Ready crops. Glyphosphate is linked to a number of serious health problems (source).
  • We lack any research showing that consumption of GMO foods is safe to eat in the long-term

Whenever you purchase a non-organic soy product, you support the industry of genetically modified soy.

5. Carrageenan

The term seaweed-emulsified legume juice would be a more accurate label than soy milk. Carrageenan is a highly-processed seaweed that is added to most non-dairy milks and some other food products to create a creamy texture.

There are two types of processed carrageenan. One type is used to induce colitis in lab rats. The other type is supposedly safe for human consumption. However, food-safe carrageenan has been found to cause inflammation and stomach problems (read more in my article about carrageenan here).

Many people find that consuming carrageenan causes digestive distress and pain. The reason that I first learned about the problems with carrageenan was because I discovered that consuming anything with this additive gave me intense heartburn.

6. Calcium Carbonate

When it comes to processed foods, the sum of the parts does not equal the whole. Just because a soy milk claims to have as much calcium as regular milk does not mean the body absorbs and utilizes the calcium from both items the same way.

Case in point: calcium supplementation raises the risk of heart disease (source). Why?

The body requires vitamin co-factors to use calcium properly. Vitamin K2 is the most important because it shuttles calcium into the bone. Without adequate K2, the body cannot use calcium and the calcium can create plaque in the arteries, raising the risk of heart disease (source).

Whole milk from grass-grazing cows provides the saturated fats and vitamin K2 needed to absorb the calcium. In the same way, calcium-rich leafy greens smothered in grassfed butter offers the co-factors needed to absorb calcium.

Because soy milk completely lacks the vitamin cofactors required to use calcium, the added calcium carbonate is likely comparable to calcium supplements – it is more harmful than beneficial

7. Vitamin D2

The vitamin D that nature intended for us is D3. Vitamin D3 is the bio-avaiable form of the vitamin found in food sources such as grassfed dairy and cod liver oil. When we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies also produce the form of D3.

Vitamin D2 is a synthetic and isolated form of the vitamin and, as a result, is extremely poorly absorbed (here’s the study). It offers no viable benefit to the body and may actually be harmful (source).

Further, vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Mother Nature paired foods rich in vitamin D with the healthy fats which are required for the absorption of this nutrient. For example, yolks from pasture-raised hens are a good source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and K2. The beneficial saturated fats found in the egg yolks allow the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins.

8. Synthetic Vitamin A

The vitamin A added to soy milk (and other non-dairy milks) is synthetic and, as a result, lacks the vitamin co-factors. Remember, your vitamin is only helpful if accompanied by its co-factors.

While naturally-occuring (non-isolated, food-source) vitamin A only creates toxicity in uber-extreme doses, moderate overdoses of synthetic vitamin A can cause toxicity (read more about synthetic vs. natural vitamin A). This is because the body cannot assimilate the synthetic version of the vitamin, likely due to the lack of vitamin co-factors.

The body requires saturated fat and minerals to absorb vitamin A. This is why vitamin A is naturally found in sources rich in those co-factors, such as liver and egg yolks.

9. “Natural Flavors”

A company that lists “natural flavors” on their ingredient list is trying to hide something – and it could be anal secretions from a beaver. Let me explain…

“Natural flavors” can even mean various additives, even forms of MSG and artificial sweeteners. Castoreum is a secretion from the anal gland of the beaver that is often listed under “natural flavors” (with the FDA’s approval). It’s commonly used to replicate vanilla flavor (source).

If someone has chosen to drink soy milk because it is not an animal product, they may still be inadvertently consuming by-products of animals. I never purchase a product that has “natural flavors” on the ingredient list, and I recommend that you don’t, either.

10. It’s simply not Real Food!

Healthy eating can be simplified into four words: just eat real food. But this is easier said than done when we are surrounded by slippery marketing claims about “all natural” health foods.

Here are five questions that I suggest you ask yourself to determine if an item is real food: 

  • Is it a product or is it a food?
  • Is it made with ingredients that humans have used for thousands of years?
  • Is this something that your great-grandmother would recognize as food?
  • Can you make it in your kitchen with grocery store ingredients?
  • Is it advertised on TV?

When we ask these questions about commercial soymilk, the answers are: 

  • Soymilk is a product, not a food.
  • Synthetic vitamins and unfermented soy beans were never used by traditional cultures thousands of years ago.
  • Nope! Great grandma would been utterly repulsed by the idea of drinking soybean juice emulsified with seaweed.
  • Nuh-uh. Where can you get your hands on “natural flavors” and synthetic vitamins?
  • Yes! Soymilk is heavily advertised.

The only conclusion to make about soymilk is that it is not a real food. 

What are healthy alternatives?

Try real milk! While I don’t recommend the highly processed milk from massive farming operations, unprocessed milk is a time-honored food rich in vitamins, protein and healthy fats. Try to source milk from grass-grazing cows, which is vastly higher in nutrients (and it’s beneficial for the planet when cows graze in pasture).

The best option is non-homogenized and non-pasteurized milk, which is highly digestible and rich in enzymes.  Read about the safety of raw milk in my article here.

If you prefer a non-dairy option for milk, making your own nut and seed milks is easy and affordable. Homemade coconut milk – recipe here – is the best option due to the healthful fats and lack of phytic acid in coconut.

If you wish to use other nuts or seeds, I recommend a specific soaking process to help reduce the naturally-occuring phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Try this recipe from Wellness Mama for soaked almond milk.

Do you love real food? Please help me spread the message that soy milk is not a real food!

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7 Ways to Support Detox with Essential Oils http://empoweredsustenance.com/detox-with-essential-oils/ http://empoweredsustenance.com/detox-with-essential-oils/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 23:58:30 +0000 http://empoweredsustenance.com/?p=8406 From Lauren: Today’s post is from my friend Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. My nutritional therapy instructor first introduced me to the oils, which drastically helped my health issues. Since I’m now in the Seattle area, I recently began seeing John Tjenos, who formulates the oil blends, as a client. He is the best […]

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7 ways to support detox with essential oils

From Lauren: Today’s post is from my friend Jodi Cohen, founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. My nutritional therapy instructor first introduced me to the oils, which drastically helped my health issues. Since I’m now in the Seattle area, I recently began seeing John Tjenos, who formulates the oil blends, as a client. He is the best practitioner I’ve ever visited… and I’ve been to a ton of practitioners in my long journey toward wellness. He has an amazing healing intuition paired with an extensive knowledge of body chemistry.  Jodi and John are a truly pioneers in essential oil blends and I feel privileged to know them and work with them. 

Detox seems to be the buzz word of the day.  Every time I turn around, I notice another detox diet or protocol.  It’s a wonderful area of health to focus on as it helps the body rest, repair and heal to clear out potential illnesses and disease.  That is, if it’s done correctly. 

The idea behind a detox is to give the digestive system, including the liver, a break by eliminating foods that are high in toxins or difficult for the liver to digest, absorb and assimilate (think sugar, caffeine and processed food).   Once the liver has more energy freed up, it can then start on the work of housecleaning (i.e. cleaning out the toxins that have been stored in fat cells). 

 When most people hear the word toxin, they think of heavy metals or pollution, but in reality toxins can be any substance that creates an irritating or harmful effect in the body, including undigested food (think fats or proteins), excess hormones (like estrogen) and yeast overgrowth or other digestive concerns.  Toxins can limit the ability of cells to function, so the body safely stores them away to avoid any harm.

How can essential oils help with detox?

The detoxification process mobilizes the toxins out of storage with the intent of then removing them from your body.  Think of cleaning out your garage and putting all the trash in bags that you then take to the dump.  Just as literally taking the garbage bags to the dump is an important step in getting it out of your house, it is important that the toxins that are mobilized during the detoxification process actually leave your body.  If they don’t leave your body, they are recycled and reabsorbed into the body (and sometimes into places that are not as safe as the fat cells, like the brain).

 I think you can see where I am going here.  Most of the popular detoxes do a terrific job of mobilizing the toxins, but unless the toxins actually leave the body, they can be reabsorbed and do more harm than they would have if just left alone.  This is why it is important to include dietary fiber or clay in a detox effort to ensure that the toxins have something to bind to in order to leave the body.  It is also important to support detox with essential oils, to aid organ function and the elimination of toxins.

1.  Get into Parasympathetic mode

There are 2 states of the nervous system:  The Fight or Flight Sympathetic State and the Rest and Digest Parasympathetic State.  In order for the body to detoxify and heal, it needs to be in the rest and digest parasympathetic state.  You literally cannot heal when you are under stress.  In addition to taking time to relax, it is helpful to support the organs that oversee the body’s stress, including the hypothalamus and adrenal glands, with appropriate nutrients or the Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit.  

Another key stressor and toxin creator is an impaired digestive system.  If you are not absorbing and assimilating your nutrients, it puts another stress on the body and the undigested food particles add to the toxic burden.  To ensure optimal digestion, you can apply the Vibrant Blue Parasympathetic blend to the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system “rest and digest” state to promote optimal  digestion, absorption and assimilation of the nutrients necessary to help the body heal and put it in optimal balance. 

2.  Support the liver

The Liver plays a huge role in the detoxification effort, filtering toxins from blood and neutralizing the toxins in preparation for elimination. But dumping more toxins into an already overworked liver can be a recipe for disaster.  The liver needs the energy and vitality to keep up with the increased toxic burden. 

Vibrant Blue Oils Liver Vitality  helps support optimal health and vitality of the liver.  This is a great blend to support any kind of digestive repair effort that would release extra toxins (like yeast die off), a detox cleanse or for anyone who demonstrates liver stress symptoms like sensitivity to smells (smoke, perfume, etc) and or chemicals or those who are easily intoxicated or hung over. 

3. Support the gall bladder

The Gall Bladder concentrates the bile to help break down fat and carry toxins out of the body.  If the bile becomes too thick, it doesn’t flow as well and toxins (especially estrogen) don’t move out of the system and often get reabsorbed. 

Vibrant Blue Oils Gall Bladder Flow  supports the flow of bile and with it toxins out of the body. Some indicators that Gall Bladder Flow might be a helpful blend for you would be motion sickness, floating stools, avoiding fatty food like meat or if you do eating fatty food, needing to use the restroom shortly after, pain between shoulder blades, subtle headache above eyes.

For more ways to support the gall bladder, read Lauren’s post 8 Ways to Improve Fat Malabsorption.

4. Attend to emotional release  

7 ways to support detox with essential oils The Detoxification process  occurs on a physical, spiritual and emotional level and can help uncover and express feelings, especially hidden frustrations, anger, resentments, or fear.  Often, the more toxins a person releases, the more stored emotion that is also released.  It is important that these emotions are allowed to be processed and released to avoid causing additional stress that would undermine the detoxification process.  

Vibrant Blue Liver Support  helps supports the release of emotions, including frequent irritation, impatience, resentment or frustration, being critical of yourself or others, control issues, an inability to express your feelings, feelings of not feeling heard, not feeling loved, not being recognized or appreciated.

5. Aid the lymphatic system

Interstitial lymph fluid flows through the lymph nodes where toxins are filtered out.  Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a heart to pump the fluid through the body.  The more you can help the  lymph fluid flow, the more quickly you can move toxins out of the body.  This is why saunas, dry brushing and jumping on a trampoline are recommended.  Vibrant Blue Oils Lymph Flow blend also helps keep lymph flowing to move toxins out of the body.

For more tips to improve lymphatic function, read Lauren’s post, 10 Ways to Improve the Lymphatic System.

6.   Support detox through the skin

Sweat glands of the skin act are one of the body’s avenues for elimination. The surface area of the skin covers 11,000 sq. feet, making sweating therapy effective to remove toxins. By supporting the detoxification pathway via the skin can lessen the burden on other detox organs like the liver and the kidneys. 

For example, consider a detox bath with 2 cups of Epsom salt, 1 cup of baking soda and a few drops of Vibrant Blue Oils Parasympathetic oil. The clove oil in the parasympathetic blend helps to pull toxins out of the skin to lessen the burden on the liver, gall bladder and kidneys.

7.  Prioritize sleep

 Adequate, restful sleep is critical for the body to detoxify and heal.  If you are not sleeping, you will not detoxify. This means not only the ability to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep and achieve a restful REM state.  For help falling asleep, you might consider Vibrant Blue Oils Stress Support Kit, including the Pineal Rhythm blend, which triggers the pineal gland to release melatonin.   For night waking, consider the Vibrant Blue Blood Sugar Support Kit or Vibrant Blue Detox Support Kit.

7 ways to support detox with essential oils

stress support kit

 

gut repair kit

Vibrant Blue Oils Detox Support Kit

Several of the Oils mentioned above are included in the Vibrant Blue Detox Support KitThe Detox Support Kit contains Parasympathetic, Liver Vitality, Gall Bladder FlowWhen used in combination with a detoxification diet, fiber or clay and other nutritional supplements, these oils can help support the organs of detoxification for optimal function.   We advise you to consult a healthcare practitioner for additional nutritional and supplemental support.

Enter Lauren’s coupon, EMPOWER65, at checkout to receive free shipping on your order of $65 or more!

Also, to help determine which Vibrant Blue Oil Kit is right for you (Detox Support, Stress Support, Blood Sugar Balance or Gut Support), check out this complimentary Vibrant Blue Oils Detox Checklist.

And watch Lauren’s video below to learn how to apply the oils in the professional line, which include the three oils in the Detox Support Kit.

About Jodi Cohen

jodiJodi Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. She is Certified Nutritional Therapist, wife, mother, yoga enthusiast and former journalist and marketing executive. She discovered that along with dietary changes, she could use essential oils to bring a remarkable transformation in her young son who had struggled with aggression, impulse control and focus issues. At the same time, she learned how to use essential oils to immediately dissipate her situational depression and anxiety. She began voraciously researching how essential oils could bring about such powerful changes in physical and mental wellbeing.

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