Sacroiliac joint healed!

Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place. Continue reading

The best chicken liver paté recipe ever

I eat a Paleo diet, and right now I’m being rather strict about it: no grains, no dairy, no sugar, and lots of healthy meat and veggies. My energy levels are good!

My nutritionist, Olivia Honeycutt, tells me how good it is to eat liver. I’m pretty sure it was not one of my favorite childhood flavors (actually, my dad didn’t like it so my mom didn’t cook it, but she — having grown up on a ranch where they raised a lot of their own food — liked it).

As an adult I tried liver and onions and came to like it enough to eat occasionally, but not very often.

Liver is loaded with nutrients. One ounce (28 grams, or about 2 tablespoons) contains the following: Continue reading

Tracking your daily food choices: the Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake

I’ve been working with nutritionist/acupuncturist Olivia Honeycutt at Merritt Wellness for a while now. One of the tools Olivia gives her clients is the Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake form.

Standard Process Daily Record of Food Intake

You don’t have to be going to a nutritionist to use this tool, although you may want to if you are having issues you suspect are diet-related. So many health issues are now considered to be diet-related, including auto-immune diseases formerly believed to be purely genetic, that this tool could be a useful ally on your path to better health. Continue reading

Moving toward a more traditional diet

I’ve been working with local clinical nutritionist/acupuncturist Olivia Honeycutt for a couple of months, tweaking my diet so I can be healthier and have more energy. She gave me some forms for noting what I eat for meals and snacks, when I eat, how much water I drink, how many hours of sleep I get and the quality of my sleep, bowel movements, etc. We get together every couple of weeks so I can share my forms. She looks them over and makes recommendations of little tweaks I can make to improve my health through diet.

Although I was already eating very little grains and legumes and no gluten before I started working with Olivia, I’m eating more of a traditional diet now.

It was a bit difficult to move past the belief that more fat is good, because for most of my adult life, fat has been considered the cause of heart disease and obesity. Especially animal fat. Fat = bad for decades, and now fat = good (especially animal fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, and olive oil). I went out of my way especially to avoid Mexican restaurant food cooked with lard, and now it’s considered healthy! (It’s also tastier.)

Yet here I am, eating butter, ghee, and/or bacon grease daily. I did not want to gain weight, but I have. It’s actually fat turned to muscle, because my clothes still fit. To lose weight eating like this, you eat more fat earlier in the day.

Epic barsThe great thing about fat is that it satisfies. If I’m working for hours doing massage, and I don’t have time to eat, consuming fat will stave off my hunger for longer than anything else I could eat. It’s fuel. I’ve tried eating various fat-laden foods such as almond butter, coconut butter, Epic bison/lamb/turkey/beef bars, avocados, and some organic extra-virgin coconut oil when my hunger is getting the better of me. It works.

One of the biggest adjustments is that from tracking my water intake, I learned I wasn’t drinking enough water. Now I drink 16 ounces upon arising (with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar). My water bottle holds 27 ounces, and I empty it daily. Another 16 ounces in the evening brings my total to 59 ounces, close enough to my goal of 60 ounces a day, or about half my body weight in ounces. I don’t count the caffeinated tea I drink because tea is a diuretic.

Also, I like to drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before eating because it helps me avoid overeating. It’s so easy to confuse hunger and thirst! When my thirst is sated, I’m not as hungry.

Because I work out 3-5 times per week with kettle bells and do physical work as a massage therapist, Olivia has me eating a palm-sized amount of protein at each meal. I am not an athlete, but I get to eat like one! I’ve been making chicken liver paté from different recipes for the past few weeks to get some beneficial fat-soluble vitamins found in liver. (Here’s my favorite recipe!)

I don’t eat much canned or processed foods, except for sardines. I eat raw honey, rare beef, and fermented food and drink such as sauerkraut, refrigerator pickles, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, Kevita, wine, cider, or cheese nearly every day.

I’m looking forward to obtaining some natto, having become aware of the vast benefits of consuming adequate vitamin K2 for appropriate calcium utilization (i.e., in the bones and teeth and not in the arteries and brain). There’s a supplement that also has K2

I’m learning to soak and dehydrate nuts. (Well, just walnuts, so far.) The cookbook Nourishing Traditions has been helpful. This diet is similar to the Paleo diet, is influenced by the Weston A. Price Foundation‘s dietary principles, and also by Olivia’s understanding of diet and health from her acupuncture training (having to do with heat, cold, dampness, herbs, seasons, constitutions, etc.).

I try to eat half a beet and drink a cup of dandelion tea (leaf or root) each day for better liver function. I eat dark green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and tropical fruits. And high-cacao chocolate (over 70 percent).

I also make bone broths, especially in the winter, for the calcium. I save chicken, beef, and lamb bones and veggie scraps in my freezer. Sometimes I just buy bones. I have a big plastic container to store them in, and I also add the water from steaming veggies to this frozen stockpile of nutrients.

When I’ve got enough, I put the contents into a stockpot, add water to cover and a splash of apple cider vinegar and a moderate amount of salt, and cook it at a simmer for a day or two, skimming foam off the top when it first rises.

The resulting broth is flavorful and extremely nourishing. I drink a cup a day when I have it and also use it as a basis for soups and stews. See my post on making turkey vegetable soup with bone broth!

In summer (because it’s too hot to make broth), and when I’ve run out of broth, I consume a tablespoon of gelatin every day for the protein. It thickens smoothies, makes my hair and nails grow thicker and faster, and is good for joints and reducing cellulite. I get the Great Lakes brand sold on Amazon.

My gut seems to be working better despite recent stressful difficulties. I take L-glutamine supplements, which help with gut issues and have many other benefits.

Check out my Products I Recommend page for more recommendations for books, supplements, and products to improve your well-being.

The mindful diet

First. Let yourself get hungry. Abstain from eating so that you feel hunger. Check in with what your body is feeling every so often for an hour after you first feel hunger. Notice whether the sensations stay the same or change.

Drink water and notice what happens. Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger. Learn the difference.

Savor these sensations. They are wisdom from your body. They are real, present sensations. Hunger for them. Trust them. You may have been ignoring them. You may have trouble recognizing them.

(Don’t worry. If you are reading this post, you will not die from hunger in one hour, or thirst, although your mind may be telling you differently. Your mind has been conditioned to mindless eating. That’s what is changing.)

If your mind starts thinking about food, write about it. Make a list of foods you daydream about. Evaluate this list. Is it good for you? If not, could something else satisfy you — a hug, a walk, dancing?

Notice the difference between what you feel with your body and what your mind is doing. Each way of being has a signature.

What would your life be like if you only ate after you fully and consciously felt hunger? Would you eat at certain times, or might the times vary? How often do you really need to eat to maintain or improve your health?

Second. Eat. After an hour of hunger and its sensations has gone by, eat. Eat some food that is healthy. Eat it slowly with an eye to noticing the sensation of satiety, of having eaten enough.

Do not eat with the goal of cleaning your plate. Give yourself a small serving.

The goal is to really notice eating and “enough”. Take one bite. Chew it. Taste it. Notice as many qualities of the taste as you can. Swallow.

Take another bite. Chew, taste, swallow. Move your arm slowly as you pick the food up with your fork or spoon or fingers and bring it to your mouth. Chew slowly.

After the third bite, pause for a minute. Notice the sensations in your stomach. How have they changed? Do you still feel hungry? Do you feel less hungry?

Remember that your empty stomach is the size of your fist, and your full stomach is the size of both fists. You don’t even have to fill your stomach to feel satiated.

Eat ten bites and notice your stomach sensations.

You might decide to stop then, or you might decide to eat 15 or 20 bites. But stop when you’ve eaten less than you would mindlessly eat.

Then see how long it takes for you to feel hungry again, and do it all again.  It might mean you need to have food available as you go through your day, perhaps some nut butter, a banana, an avocado. Just enough to stave off your hunger pangs. You could eat half a banana or avocado, or a teaspoon of almond butter.

You might also think about where the food came from, plant or animal, soil, rain, sunshine, farmers, and all the places it has been and hands it has passed through to get to your mouth. With gratitude.

Third. Do this often. It’s a great way to lose weight, because it’s portion control, but more importantly, it gets you back in touch with your body, and it extends your experience of gratitude and connection to the planet.

Also, if you are only eating when hungry, and only eating enough to stave off hunger for a couple of hours, you will want every bite of food you eat to be nutritious as well as delicious. No HFCS, please.

And that’s it. I’m posting this to remind myself that I can eat like this, because I have put on a little more weight than I’d like. I’m having a small cup of quinoa tabouli for breakfast, then it’s off to work.

Buddha’s Brain: supplements for brain health

June 2, 2012: I’ve updated this post with links for the supplements if you want to order online. Some of them are not readily available in stores like Whole Foods.

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When I read the book Buddha’s Brain, I was very impressed by an appendix, Nutritional Neurochemistry, by Jan Hanson. She’s an acupunturist who has specialized in clinical nutrition for many years.

I’ve been following Hanson’s suggestions and taking supplements for about six weeks now. I take the minimum amount suggested. I feel better! My memory is better, I sleep better, and I focus better. My mood may be a little better—I wasn’t depressed before, and I generally feel buoyant already.

I haven’t noticed any changes in my digestion (the other area that neurotransmitters affect), but I take great care with my diet, having been tested for food sensitivities years ago and generally following a Type O Gatherer genotype diet. I eat well, going light on grains, beans, and dairy (mostly limited to yogurt and kefir), eating lots of fruits and veggies including green juices, and buying fresh and organic.

I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, just someone in pursuit of health and well-being. I’m going to repeat some of what Jan Hanson says here in the hopes that if you’re really interested in this topic, you’ll click the link above, buy the book, and read it yourself. The world needs more people who are working toward functioning at 100 percent of their capabilities!

Base  your decisions either on testing or on self-observation.

  • If you have problems with sleep or digestion, supplement for serotonin.
  • If you have memory issues, build acetylcholine.
  • If your energy is low, build norepinephrine and dopamine.
  • These last two and serotonin help with mood.

Since supplements are expensive, it seems wise to start with your diet, because you gotta eat anyway. In general, eat lots of protein (a serving the size of a pack of cards at each meal) and at least 3 cups of veggies per day. Protein includes nuts, dairy, seeds, eggs, legumes, and grains, as well as meat, poultry, and fish and seafood.

Foods that are particularly good for brain health: berries, egg yolks, beef, liver, and dairy fats. I prefer grass-fed bison to beef and suggest avoiding liver unless it’s from a really clean source. Eggs with orange yolks from free-range chickens rock!

Foods that are not good for brain health: those with refined sugar and/or refined flour. You probably know this already.

If you think your body may disagree with some foods, either get tested for food sensitivities (chiropractors and naturopaths offer this) or eliminate suspects for a week or two and notice if you feel better, think more clearly, digest more easily, and have more energy. Anything your body is sensitive to causes an inflammatory reaction throughout your body, and inflammation is an enemy of your brain.

Supplements for basic brain health

Hanson recommends multivitamins with 10 to 25 times the daily value of all the B vitamins. For adults, that means at least the following amounts:

  • 12 mg of thiamin (B1)
  • 13 mg of riboflavin (B2)
  • 160 mg of niacin (B3); you may need a separate supplement* to get this much, and I recommend the no-flush kind
  • 50 mg of pantothenic acid (B5)
  • 17 mg of pyridoxine (B6)
  • 24 mcg of B12

Check your multivitamin label and if these amounts are not provided, find one that does. I like Source of Life food-based vitamins.

Vitamins B6 and B12 and folic acid play a crucial role in the production of many neurotransmitters:

  • Be sure to get 50 mg of B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P) on an empty stomach in the morning. I have not found this form in a multivitamin, so I take a separate supplement. B vitamins are water soluble; any excess is excreted, so it’s okay if you take too much (at least from what I read now).
  • Take 800 mcg or more of folic acid, which is twice as much as most multis contain, so you’ll need a separate supplement.
  • Get at least 24 mcg of B12, which multis usually have.

Make sure you’re getting 400 IU of Vitamin E, at least half of which is gamma-tocopherol (not the more common alpha-tocopherol, which multivitamins usually contain).

Get 100 percent or more of the daily value of minerals. The Source of Life multi mentioned above includes the minerals below.

Iron plays a big role in brain health. If you think you might be low in iron, get tested, and supplement if you need it.

  • 1000 (men) or 1200 (women) mg of calcium (usually supplements are needed; I like New Chapter Bone Strength Take Care)
  • 20-35 mcg of chromium
  • 900 mcg of copper
  • 8 mg of iron (18 for menstruating women; Source of Life’s multivitamin offers this much iron—see link above)
  • 320-410 mg of magnesium
  • 1.8 to 2.3 mg of manganese
  • 45 mcg of molybdenum
  • 700 mg of phosphorus
  • 4.7 g of potassium
  • 55 mcg of selenium
  • 8 to 11 mg of zinc

Get enough omega-3 fatty acids. The benefits are better growth of neurons, mood elevation, and slowing of dementia. She recommends fish oil containing about 500 mg each of DHA and EPA daily—high quality, molecularly distilled. I like New Chapter Wholemega. It’s from sustainably caught wild Alaskan salmon.

Note: If you want to avoid fish oil, you can take a tablespoon of flax seed oil and 500 mg of DHA from algae daily.

Supplementing for neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitter supplements should be taken carefully. Start with the smallest dosage, try one new one at a time, and discontinue if you have negative side affects. Do not combine neurotransmitter supplements with antidepressants or psychotropic medications.

Hanson recommends building serotonin first. Serotonin supports mood, digestion, and sleep. Take 50-200 mg of 5-HTP in the morning or 500-1,500 mg of tryptophan before bed. If you need help sleeping, tryptophan at night is probably the better choice.

Norepinephrine and dopamine support energy, mood, and attention. Dopamine transforms into norepinephrine, so supplementation is the same for each: take L-phenylalanine or L-tyrosine, and start with 500 mg on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. The maximum dose is 1,500 mg, which may be too stimulating for some.

Acetylcholine supports memory and attention. Take phosphatidylserine (PS), 100-300 mg per day. Also take acetyl-L-carnitine, 500-1,000 mg first thing on an empty stomach. Take huperzine A, 50-200 mcg per day. Hanson recommends finding which combination works best for you.

*The supplement links are based on the recommended minimum dosages given in Buddha’s Brain. I am a small person, and these dosages work for me. If you are larger or more in need of neurotransmitter supplementation for particular purposes such as sleep, attention, or memory, you can experiment with taking up to the maximum recommended, only making one change at a time and making gradual changes. Many of the supplements may be ordered from Amazon on a subscription basis, saving you money.