You’re only as healthy as the life force of your food

Despite being told we “don’t know” why diseases happen or they only happen as a result of a shitty genetic Russian roulette, the truth is that illnesses come about for numerous external and internal reasons according to the individual’s gene mutations, experiences, core wounds, health history, chakra imbalances or karma, chemical exposure, and more. Therefore, the specific diet a person should be eating will vary according to this personalized history. It is why, although I believe there are dietary practices or theories that are in many ways superior to a standard western diet, there is truly no one-sized-fits-all approach. Who you are determines what you should be eating, not the other way around.

This is the standard I have held myself to over the last 8 years while directing clients in comprehensive nutritional plans. You are unique, your diet should be equally unique. Unfortunately, we are saturated with programs, books, classes, and internet experts telling us there is only one perfect diet (Paleo, Autoimmune Paleo, Keto, Vegan, etc etc). Will you trust your body or will you trust these money-making schemes?

Like I said, there are certain nutrition practices I think we should all to a large degree adopt (unless there is a specific contraindication for you personally). Take, for example, the fact that indigenous cultures and peoples instinctively understood things about food that our modern society overlooks and takes for granted: food should be consumed in its whole forms, it should come directly from the earth, it should be organic and unsprayed or not irradiated, and that you should consume what is local and available to you.

Another principle that transcends time and peoples worldwide is the idea that every meal should contain a raw or fermented food that is rich in enzymes. In Eastern Europe, we see this practice as the dollop of sour cream on the soup or the raw butter on toast; in Latino societies, we see it as the unpasteurized alcohol or fresh condiments consumed with food (tepache, chicha, salsas, curtido); in Asian cultures we see it as the fermented vegetables added to meals or used as side dishes (banchan, for example). These traditions are not “primitive”, they are ancient wisdom that should be respected. 

You see, enzymes aide in digestion and not only help your digestive tract to break down foods so they do not end up as inflammatory immune threats, they also help the kidneys and liver in processing foods. Enzymes can also be called life force or energy: they are living and alive and killed by cooking processes. Energy isn’t just about picking up the bad attitudes of others when you walk into a room, it is about what you intake in other ways, including what you eat.

When you eat dead foods, your body has to compensate for the lack of enzymes or water that would normally be found in unprocessed foods. Over time, this creates a deficit that forces your digestive tract, kidneys, and liver to work extra hard. Imagine the consequences of a lifetime of eating foods with no life force. Think back to how many modern meals we eat that are completely dead and devoid of any enzymes: fried potatoes, meats, pizza, pasteurized dairy, roasted vegetables, rice, bread, and on and on. While many of these foods can be healthy when sourced from quality purveyors, or when prepared in certain ways (grass-fed burgers, for example), they are still dead and force your body into an energetic deficit.

Another way I’ve heard “life force” interpreted when it comes to food is this: the kind of food you eat, when, how, and at which pace, affects how you feel afterwards. For example, you will feel differently eating a salad versus a bowl of pasta. One will probably leave you feeling light and energized afterwards, and one will leave you feeling stuffed, lethargic, and ready for a nap. 

In nutrition school, I also learned that coming together for a meal is about more than a social gathering; it is also an exchange of energy between the people sharing the food. Sure, you will get to talk, enjoy the people you are with, and get energized (or, perhaps, brought down) by their personal energy, but you will also end up collectively feeling the same way afterwards if you all eat the same thing. It’s one reason we congregate for meals: to get into a kind of positive groupthink with family or friends. This is in large part due to the fact that if you are sharing one big meal rather than everyone ordering something different so you will likely have similar blood sugar responses, levels of satiety, and therefore the same energy during and afterwards. On the flip side, we also know that having inhibitory responses (ie: getting stressed, nervous, holding back, being ashamed, etc) slows down the thyroid immediately and prevents thyroid hormone from being released, which aides in digestion. Food brings people together for many reasons, and energy is one of them. 

My nutrition school professor also described the energetics of food with this example: a famous and highly sensitive Japanese nutrition expert (a leader in the Macrobiotics movement) was so energetically sensitive he could always feel the energy with which the food he was eating was prepared. So once, a man tried to purposefully trick him to see what his interpretation of the food “energy” would be. This chef danced around the kitchen, clapping his hands, yelling, jumping up and down as he cooked. When the food arrived to the table, the nutrition expert took a few bites and said he was very confused with what had been done to this food. While it tasted delicious, he said the energy was chaotic and crazy and couldn’t understand what had happened while it was cooking. Despite not being in the kitchen while it was cooking, he knew something was “off”.

If you are a highly sensitive person, you may not feel the food life force quite to this degree, but your body will likely internalize it and it could stimulate or sedate you based on who prepared it and the emotion with which it was prepared. Now think about what happens when you go out to eat: the food you’re eating may be prepared by a worker who doesn’t particularly care for their job, slaps the meal together in a hurry with little love or care, and gets it to the table as quickly as possible. It’s one reason home cooked food tastes so good and we crave holiday gatherings or food from the “mother”: most likely, she put her heart and soul into it and prepared it with love.

The takeaway here is that you are an energetic being with constant energetic requirements. You must in-put good energetic sources of food, and be surrounded by positive energy while eating in order to aide the digestive tract and other vital organs. 

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Is the acid/alkaline balance a myth?

Everywhere you look online, health “gurus” are warning us about the acid/alkaline balance — telling us to eat more fruits and vegetables to remain “alkaline”.  They say that living in an “acidic” condition makes us prone to diseases and by alkalizing your body, you can prevent or reverse disease. 

Some experts even go so far as to tell people to avoid all foods that contribute to acidity, such as animal products, and instead encourage a vegan diet, juicing, or fruitarian diet (where all you eat is fruit). It’s important to get to the bottom of this idea so that you can integrate elements that are helpful and not stress over those that are simply not true — and certainly not limit your diet unnecessarily. 

Myth versus fact

The truth is that the acid/alkaline balance in the body is a real phenomenon. Yes, it is possible to become too acidic. In the medical community this is called Metabolic Acidosis and can occur when your body:

  • Makes too much acid (due to stress or a poor cortisol response, over-exercise, poor diet, dehydration and mineral loss, ketone build-up, genetic problems)
  • Can’t effectively remove enough acid (due to methylation problems, kidney problems, lack of bicarbonate, etc)

In reality, anyone who is suffering from a chronic health condition is going to veer in and out of states of being too acidic. So while you may not have a life-threatening acidic condition, you should still think about ways to become more alkaline. However, instead of suggesting clients eliminate complete food groups, I prefer to make some very strategic dietary and lifestyle changes to restore the acid/alkaline balance more gently. 

8 ways to restore the acid/alkaline balance:

  1. Juicing. You need minerals to restore you to a more alkaline state. Making fresh-pressed juices daily is the quickest way to do this. Celery and cucumber juices are especially alkalizing, but I also like to suggest carrot, romaine, jicama, beet, fennel, pear and apple. Really, the sky is the limit but be sure to avoid goitrogenic (thyroid-suppressing) greens such as kale if you have a thyroid condition. If you don’t like the taste of fresh juice, use it as a base in a fruit smoothie to mask the flavor. 
  2. Reduce your protein intake. You don’t need to completely eliminate meat, eggs, or dairy unless you are in a terribly acidic state based on labs. Begin to eat large portions of raw vegetables daily and instead have smaller portions of dairy, eggs, or meats. 
  3. Limit grains. Grains are also acidifying and if you are in a very acidic state, even healthy gluten-free grains can make it worse. Relying mostly on fruits and vegetables to make up the bulk of your diet is best, then add in some healthy beans, legumes, grains, and animal products as needed to meet your daily calorie needs. 
  4. Use supplements to alkalize. 
    • Mineral complex. This should include magnesium and potassium, in addition to other minerals. I find the citrate or bicarbonate forms of minerals works best. 
    • Chlorophyll. An alfalfa-based supplement or parsley works well. I prefer these to other “greens” supplements because they are not goitrogens (thyroid-suppressing foods).
    • Yucca shigidera. This helps mitigate the toxic byproduct that is produced upon eating animal products. You can take this with each meal that contains protein.
  5. Reduce your salt intake. While I consider unrefined mineral salt to be an essential part of a healthy diet, while you are acidic, anything that dehydrates you will make the problem worse. So limit your salt intake — even the good kind of salt.
  6. Completely avoid refined sugar and alcohol. Both are extremely acidifying.
  7. Avoid stressful thoughts. Stressful thoughts begin a cascade of unhealthy responses in the body, which depletes you of minerals and creates acidosis. You have been programmed from childhood to respond to stress in a very specific way. Deconstruct your stress responses — what triggers you? When you are triggered, where do you hold tension in your body? How can you release it? You are likely triggered by much smaller circumstances that you realize and since these happen on a daily basis, you keep repeating the acid cycle each day.
  8. Avoid intense exercise. While you are too acidic, anything that dehydrates you will contribute to the problem. Choose gentle forms of exercise and exercise indoors during the heat of summer. 

Tests to ask for

If you are curious if you are too acidic, you can get testing through your doctor to determine this.

  • Anion gap test. This tests for metabolic acidosis and will tell you if you are in fact too acidic. 
  • Electrolyte or mineral panel: magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium. Ask for an Intracellular test because blood tests are notoriously incorrect. Minerals help alkalize the body so if you are low in these, it indicates a greater need for dietary minerals or supplements to restore the balance. 
  • Urine test for ketoacidosis

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12 ways to overcome stimulant addiction

Stimulants. I’m not talking about hard drugs here, just those “innocuous”, legal, everyday substances people are self-admittedly addicted to: coffee, tea, energy drinks, artificial sweeteners, sugar, MSG or other flavor enhancers, chocolate, diet pills, and more.

Could you be addicted to stimulants?

  • Do you feel you can’t start your day with caffeine?
  • Do you make plans to find and consume the above products before you start your day, at the expense of anything and everyone else?
  • Do you commonly reach for these items in the afternoon as well?
  • Do you feel jittery or irritable yet crave the boost from these products?
  • Do you get noticeable “crashes” after consuming these products?
  • Are you especially tired in the late afternoon?
  • Do you have a hard time falling asleep at night?
  • Do you have racing thoughts during the day?
  • Do you use stimulants to initiate bowel movements?

If you answered yes to any of these, you may need some help replacing stimulants with substances and nutrients that energize you more gradually or make up for deficiencies that are causing you to crave these things in the first place. 

12 ways to overcome stimulant addiction:

  1. Vitamin B12. First, get your level tested. If you are in fact deficient or on the low-end of the scale, you can add in an “active” form of B12 called Methyl, Adenosyl or Hydroxy B12. Avoid synthetic B12 which can actually block the absorption of the nutrient. B12 is best taken in the morning and early afternoon.
  2. DLPA. This is a natural stimulant that raises catecholamine levels (catecholamines help us feel energized). However, it is very different from caffeine — DLPA is subtle and should not cause jitteriness.
  3. Adrenal glandulars. This applies to people whose lab work shows they have low cortisol levels. Low cortisol/adrenal gland function is a major cause of fatigue and therefore, the desire to use stimulants. By boosting cortisol levels, you can eliminate the need fr artificial energy from stimulants. 
  4. SAM-e. People who have been dependent upon stimulants for many years are often actually low in SAM-e, which causes the cravings. Supplementation with SAM-e may be very helpful. It is also a natural anti-depressant — win/win. 
  5. Determine if you have irregular blood sugar or insulin. This is an all too common cause of stimulant use — your blood sugar drops, or you have problems with insulin resistance, which makes you tired before or after meals. So you instinctively reach for a stimulant to give you an energy boost. Low carbohydrate, high fat, moderate protein diets work very well to eliminate low energy caused by food intake. 
  6. Determine what your unique food sensitivities are. If you feel cranky, sleepy, achy, disoriented, or brain fogged after every meal, you must determine which foods you are in fact intolerant of. Common food intolerances include: gluten, dairy, soy, corn, grains, nuts and seeds, salicylates, oxalates, histamine, sulfur, gluatamate, and others. Remember that food sensitivities are not always immune-mediated and therefore difficult to prove via testing. You must work with a practitioner and do an elimination diet to figure out which foods you are reacting to. 
  7. Determine if you have underlying mood problems. Low mood can cause us to reach for uppers because they temporarily make us feel on top of the world. We can feel powerful, fun, invincible, and ready to take on the world. Caffeine perpetuates a vicious cycle of ups and downs. Address the cause of your low mood and why you instinctively are self-medicating to boost your mood with caffeine. 5-HTP, and GABA can be very helpful to boost a naturally low mood. Essential fatty acid deficiency, food allergies, and other nutrient deficiencies are a known cause of mood disorders too.
  8. Determine if you have low iron. This is a simple blood test you can order from your doctor and if it is low, it is a common cause of fatigue. Address the low iron by supplementing with a whole-foods iron supplement, or by eating foods rich in iron.
  9. Determine if you have low thyroid function. If your doctor has never performed a “full thyroid panel” lab test on you either for your diagnosed thyroid disease or because of your symptoms of fatigue, demand one. Then ask your doctor to treat your thyroid disease according to which values you were low (or high) in.
  10. Get your electrolytes tested. Low potassium is a common cause of fatigue and in fact it is difficult to get enough daily. Do you ever have twitching muscles or muscle cramps, frequent urination or frequent thirst? Those are easy-to-spot low potassium symptom. You can find magnesium/potassium blend powders or drops to put in your water to make-up for any deficit. 
  11. Eat B-vitamin and mineral-rich foods. If you can tolerate yeast, nutritional yeast is full of potassium and B vitamins which will keep you naturally energized. Choose one that is not synthetically fortified, like Foods Alive brand. Sprinkle on cooked vegetables, sweet potatoes and white potatoes, gluten-free pasta, mix into sauces and use as a cheese replacement (it has a cheddar cheese flavor).
  12. Determine if you have underlying digestive issues. Sometimes if a person is chronically constipated, they reach for caffeine subconsciously to stimulate a bowel movement. If you are chronically constipated, there are underlying gut issues that need to be addressed: food allergies, gut infections (yeast, bacteria, parasites), lack of healthy gut flora (the good bacteria), lack of digestive enzymes (you can supplement these with each meal), lack of bile production (you can use ox bile and salt your food liberally to taste, or drink lemon water before meals to stimulate bile), and more. 

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