Feel Good Fridays

30-day challenge calendar

A good friend of mine announced the other day that she was planning on giving up all meat and dairy for the next 30 days. You don’t have to have Endo to give up these things and feel the benefits!

I hopped on her bandwagon. I mean, I’d previously given up *most* red meat and dairy…but I have my weaknesses with bison, bacon, pork, cheeeeeeeeese, whipped cream, butter…

We are on Day Three today. and I must say it’s been fun. Hard, but fun.

Day One was a doozy: some of my EndoSisters and I went to dinner at a local favorite: Buckboard’s BBQ. Meat. And Cheese. My usual: pork belly sliders and a side of some of the best mac&cheese you’ll ever taste. I resisted and opted instead for the veggie burger. And oh, man, I’ve never been offered so many mac&cheese balls in my life. And I have chicken, fish, corndogs, fishsticks, and pork chops in the freezer just begging to be eaten. I’m not even gonna talk about the bacon…

It’s also led me to do a bunch of research on how to make sure I get adequate protein, especially since my body still can’t process beans, and I avoid soy like it’s death. A challenge, but totally do-able.

And it’s been fun sharing our meals with each other and discussing creative ways that we’ve avoided meat and dairy. Oh the discoveries! Endo or no Endo, these are two good things to try to give up and see how your body handles the change

27 days to go; we can do this! Which leads to today’s quote:

“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation.” 

― Bernie Siegel


What about you? What challenges are you facing? You CAN do it, too. Whatever it may be. And you most certainly are not facing them alone. We’re all right here with you.

Have a wonderful weekend! Love, Lisa.

Ways to Better Prepare for Anesthesia

1st person view from an operating table with surgeons looking down at you with the words "Count backwards from 10, 9, 8, 7..."

My mum recently asked me to look into ways we EndoWarriors may better prepare our bodies to accept, and recover, from anesthesia of our surgeries.

For my July surgery, I cut out alcohol the second I knew I had my confirmed surgery date and waited another two weeks before having my first sip.  So, I went a month without any booze.  Why?  Just because I thought it would be nice to pamper my liver in the hopes that my body would handle things a bit easier…or smoothly…or whatever.  But did I do any research? Nope.  So, now here comes the research.

Medications, Vitamins, Herbs, Recreational Drugs

This is VERY important so I will begin with this statement.  Some medications (including birth control), drugs, vitamins,  and supplements may interfere with the efficacy and processes of anesthesia.  Please be sure to give a thorough list to your doctor of everything you’re taking the moment you learn you have a surgery date.  Your physician may have you stop taking some of these immediately.  Others, you may be instructed to stop taking a few weeks, days, or hours before surgery.

One study stated that oral contraceptives should be discontinued six weeks before surgery due to an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clots).

However, if you are interested in a homeopathic route after surgery to strengthen your body there are many supplements that are touted to boost the liver’s abilities and flush kidneys, etc.  Do your research! And…talk to your doctor before starting any supplements.

Smoking

If you smoke, try to stop smoking as soon you hear you have a surgery date.  This could be a month or more in advance.  Too much?  Try to cut out smoking at least two weeks before surgery.  If you can’t cut it cold turkey that far in advance, try hard to at least abstain from smoking a few days before your surgery.  It will alleviate a greater potential for breathing problems or complications while under anesthesia.

Booze

Alcohol may also interfere with anesthesia as well as lead to excessive bleeding during surgery.  Health24 recommends cutting out all alcohol at least a week before surgery, longer if you’re a “heavy drinker.”  And you want to keep the liver functioning at full-capacity after surgery, so avoid alcohol a week or two later.

Food

Omitting meat and dairy products before and immediately after a surgery may help with your body’s recovery.  Certain foods can cause inflammation and discomfort.  And, according to some studies, people who did not consume dairy prior to colo-rectal surgeries had a faster recovery than those who did.  A healthy diet of fiber can keep the blood from clotting, which may minimize the risk of clots occurring after surgery.  A high-fiber diet will also keep your innards a well-lubed & poopin’ machine.

In 1993, mice were given a high-fat diet for three weeks before surgery, some mice were not, and other mice were switched from a high-fat diet to a low-fat diet.  Fatty-tissue chemicals change during surgery.  These same chemicals “talk” to organs inside our body.  During surgery, that fatty tissue…and those chemicals…are traumatized, just like any other flesh being cut into.  The study found that the mice who had the low-fat diet had fewer changes in their fatty-tissue-chemical-balance than the fatty-diet mice.  It suggests that a low-fat diet before surgery may aid in recovery because of the potential of minimalized trauma to that tissue.

And a study in 1998 found that potatoes (and fresh eggplant) may make it harder for the body to break down and eliminate any lingering effects of anesthesia.  Potatoes and fresh eggplant may contain a chemical called solonaceous glycoalkaloids (SGAs) – ever cut up a potato and found green inside? That’s evidence of SGAs.  SGAs are usually found in the stems, leaves, and sprouts, but may make their way into the edible part through damage or light exposure.  The broken down layman version of the article?  Even a tiny amount of SGAs in your system can cause a delay in the body’s ability to recover from anesthetic compounds.

Drink Your Water!

Staying hydrated, before (not the morning of, unfortunately) and after surgery is always a healthy decision.  But it will also help your body operate at optimal capacity.  So, drink up.  Keep those liver and kidneys happy and healthy!

*

So what did I learn today? Probably the same things you did.  And when I do have future surgeries, I’ll:

  • Immediately talk to my doctor about my medications, vitamins, supplements, etc. to see if I need to stop anything – and the timeline to do so;
  • Do the same thing I did with alcohol that I did this last surgery: cut it out a few weeks before and after;
  • Try to better follow my anti-inflammatory diet (NO CHEEEEEESE!) and steer clear of delicious potatoes a few weeks before surgery;
  • Continue to drink lots of water.  Seriously, it’s the only thing I drink these days, besides wine and beer (haha).

What about you?  Do you do something to prepare your body for surgery and recovery? Share below. I’d love to hear it.

Resources:

American Society of Anesthesiologists Preparing for Surgery Checklist

Australian Society of AnaesthetistsPreparing for Your Anaesthetic

BBC NewsGas, Injection or Potato?

California Society of AnesthesiologistsFive Tips to Help Your Patients Prepare for Anesthesia and Surgery

California Society of AnesthesiologistsTen Questions to Ask Before Anesthesiology

Health 24Diet Preparations Before Surgery

Health24Prepare Yourself Mentally and Physically Before Surgery

Hippokratia Quarterly Medical Journal – (Article; Jan. 2007) – Preoperative Evaluation and Preparation for Anesthesia and Surgery

Juicing for HealthAnesthesia Side Effects and How to Flush Out Toxins Post-Surgery

Mayo ClinicGeneral Anesthesia

Mind Body Green Health5 Ways to Bounce Back Quickly After Anesthesia

Science DailyWhat You Eat Before Surgery May Affect Your Recovery

University of Chicago MedicinePotatoes Prolong Anesthetic Reaction

~ Again, I am a layman. I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge. Please take what I say with a grain of salt. If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings. Or challenge them. And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always. Yours ~ Lisa

Share Your Story: LJG

LJG was 30 when she was diagnosed with Endometriosis.  Now 33, she tells us a bit about her Endo journey and how diet has helped her along the way.

LJG’s Journey:   Always had painful first day of cycle and thought it was normal. Wasn’t sexually active till 25 and had no pregnancy scares while using little to no protection. My hubby and I decided to try for a baby so we both got checked out. He has kids and his sperm was fine. My gyno suggested an HSG test. Did it, no pain which is odd cause I heard horror stories. One of my Fallopian tubes was blocked. Shortly after I had painful sex, I couldn’t walk well for days (I think he hit a cyst). Went to a different gyno cause the other didn’t seem to have urgency. He found an infection due to the dye that got stuck in the tube from the HSG test. We went to a fertility specialist and suggested a laparoscopy to see if it was endo and said I have a higher chance of getting pregnant if the damaged tube is gone. At that time I found out my mom has endo (I knew she got a hysterectomy when I was 4 but didn’t know why).  He did the lap, removed scar tissue, several chocolate cysts, and one Fallopian tube. The best chance was within 6 months. This created issues with my hubby and I, planning intimacy and heartache every month. I started to have more pain each month. So I turned to support groups online and learning more natural things I can do. I tried one month drinking wine with dinner and eating whatever I wanted, dairy, gluten, sugar, processed crap and soy. I was in the worst pain. So I cut out alcohol fast and tried to cut back on everything else. Less and less pain. All this took a year going from one doc to the other. Changing eating habits is a process I’m still learning and fail at 3 years later but this last cycle I didn’t take any pain meds!

Words of Advice: Try a diet that works for you and keep at it! I cut out alcohol, cut down as much as I can on processed food, soy, animal products and gluten. When I do eat animal products I do organic, grass-fed type of products. Learn more about GMOs and what the animal eats is what you’re eating. Add things to your diet like turmeric (natural aanti-inflammatory spice in Indian food) and tart cherries! I drank a couple shots of tart cherry mixed with dark cherry juice the day before and during my cycle and pain decreased. I have also started to juice: mainly beets, carrots, celery, apple. Sometimes I put in pear or blueberries. Trying different period products, I tried a couple brands of organic cotton tampons and pads at the same time cause my flow was heavy. Some organic tampons came apart easy so I got nervous and tried the diva cup. I only do it in the beginning now but the results are amazing. My flow when from heavy to a medium to light flow. (could be a mixture of cup and healthy eating).

The Last Word: This month I’ll be 34, my hubbies ex is giving birth any day to another child. I used to feel crappy cause she could give him a kid and I couldn’t. I haven’t looked into seeing if my other tube is blocked so there could be a chance I could get pregnant. My hubby and I have talked about adoption and ivf and just this past week I finally feel like that option is an option for me. There is hope! Things don’t always come on our time or the way we expect.

I want to send a special Thank You out to LJG for being brave enough to share her journey with us today!  Best of luck maintaining your diet, finding what works best with your pain, and your ongoing efforst with your hubby for a child!    ❤ Yours, Lisa.

downloadAnd if YOU would like to share your story, you can do so by clicking here.  The best part about this disease is the strong network of love and support from our fellow EndoSisters, and our friends and family, too.

Recap: Nutrition & Endometriosis Workshop

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_01

On October 25, 2017, Merritt Jones, the founder of San Diego-based Natural Harmony Reproductive Health led a workshop regarding nutrition and Endometriosis.  Ms. Jones is a licensed acupuncturist and certified nutritionist, as well as one of our local EndoSisters.  She and I have been wanting to host this workshop for quite some time and I was ecstatic that our efforts came to fruition!  I know that many of our local Sisters were unable to attend, so I tried to take detailed notes.  And Merritt graciously shared her Powerpoint presentation with me so I could share it with YOU!

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_02

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_03

After Merritt’s Endometriosis diagnosis, she began a mission to not only help herself but those in the Endometriosis Community.  As Merritt said, “It’s time to get loud about this disease.  We deserve better.  We deserve better support!”

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_04

A nutritious diet can help with symptoms, but everyone is different and responds differently to various foods.  There is no one size fits all approach.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_05

The immune system, Endometriosis, and inflammation are pretty much bosom buddies.  When Endometriosis lesions are present in our bodies, the immune system is constantly trying to attack the lesions since they really don’t belong there.  So, the immune system is always on…and the constant effort to fight lesion “invaders” leads to a state of constant inflammation.  Which usually leads to more pain and other issues.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_06

So, eating foods that can cause or exacerbate inflammation can be like throwing gas on the fire.  We’re not perfect and we all cheat, but we need to be moderate when we decide to cheat. But what are some foods that can increase inflammation?

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_07

She isn’t saying that we cannot eat inflammatory foods, but these foods may cause inflammation and worsen the symptoms of Endometriosis.  We just need to cut back on inflammatory foods that affect us, be wary and in tune with our bodies, as well as try to eat the BEST quality of foods that we can afford.  For instance, if we want red meat, look for organic and grass-fed livestock.  Want some real butter (hey Mom, what was the name of special butter you brought us?)?  Again, organic and grass-fed.  Got a hankering for some fish?  Choose wild-caught instead of farmed fish.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_08

ALL milk, even grass-fed organic milk, contains hormones and estrogen, which is truly awful for Endometriosis.  According to Chinese medicine, phlegm is a sign that the immune system is working overtime.  And even some studies have shown that mucous membranes release more fluid during inflammation.  So if you have a glass of milk and it makes you phlegmy, you may have an inflammatory response to dairy.  The same may be true for anything you eat or drink that makes you clear your throat of phlegm (gross…).

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_09

Merritt recommended timing when you eat meat well – monitor when your pain occurs and avoid eating meat during that time.  For example, if the first few days of your period are painful, avoid eating meat a few days (or even a week) before you start your period.  Heck, she suggests cutting out dairy, meat, gluten, coffee/caffeine, refind sugar, and cold foods a week before your period (or when you generally anticipate pain).  See if cutting out these inflammatory feeds makes a difference.  And when you do eat meat, be sure it’s high quality: truly grass-fed meats.  Grass-fed organ meats (such as the liver or kidneys) are also extra good for us. Nutrients!

A question was raised about eggs.  If you must eat eggs (I looove eggs!), make sure that they are good quality eggs. Cage-free and organic eggs were recommended.  And when the yolk is almost orange, it’s super-duper nutrient-packed!

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_10

Nightshades are a group of veggies that many suspects are potentially inflammatory.  These include tomatoes, potatoes (yams/sweet potatoes are okay), eggplant, peppers, and goji berries.  Studies go back and forth on the topic and findings, but it may be best to reduce the number of nightshades you incorporate into your diet (including processed foods: ketchup, marinara sauce, hot sauce, etc.).

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_11

Gluten, for everyone, is hard to digest.  Some people have a gluten sensitivity and feel the effects more.  If you’re dealing with chronic inflammation, it’s recommended to avoid gluten and lessen the load on the body’s digestive and immune systems.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_12

Caffeine and sugar may cause inflammation and cramping.   Merritt stated, “if you take nothing else from tonight’s talk, cut out sugar and caffeine!”  She also suggested that IF you need caffeine, switch to tea (less caffeine than coffee) or coffee alternatives (which feed the need for the morning ritual).

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_13.jpg

If you have leaky gut syndrome, it’s said that symptoms and inflammatory responses may be caused by pretty much anything that you eat.  In a nutshell: in a healthy gut, the small intestine is tight and food can’t pass through until it fully processed and digested. With Leaky Gut Syndrome, that intestine is loose and proteins and particles are able to get into the bloodstream, which causes an insane immune response.  If an elimination diet doesn’t help with Endometriosis symptoms, you may want to examine the state of your gut health.  Everywell offers a test (for a few hundred bucks) that you take at home and it may show you what foods you have a reaction to, which may lead to a discussion about leaky gut syndrome.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_14To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_15

Merritt mentioned that bone broth is supposed to be really good for healing the gut and maintaining a strong and healthy balance inside there.  AND…she strongly recommended not starting any supplements until you talk to someone to verify the validity of the claims AND what is best for you and your body.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_16

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_17

As many of us may already know, Endometriosis is an estrogen-dominant disease.  Too much estrogen may spike our symptoms.  So, avoiding foods which raise or mimic estrogen levels may lessen Endo symptoms.  Also, the liver metabolizes estrogen.  We need to treat our liver better, whether it be through diet, exercise, supplements, or a combo of each.  The next line must have struck a chord with me…because I had written it in all caps in my notes: BE NICE TO YOUR LIVER!

 

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_18

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_19

Certain foods can help manage estrogen dominance, especially a plant-based diet best.  “Plant-based” does not mean vegetarian – it refers to a diet based mostly on plants and good, healthy meats (as discussed earlier).

A list of anti-inflammatory foods that Merritt handed out to each of us includes:

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_20

The question was asked about IBS and this list of foods – many of which may upset those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.  Merritt suggested that if you suffer from IBS, make sure that the food is really well-cooked.  Also, incorporate broth into the diet.  Focus on getting the gut healthy before aggravating symptoms of IBS.

She also suggests a homemade ginger tea twice a day; once in the morning and once an hour before bed: 1-inch chunk of ginger (peeled) with 1/2 tablespoon of raw honey.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_21

 

Oh man…nobody likes to see the list of FATS!  Focus on the healthy fats; try to limit the inflammatory fats.  I asked about peanut butter (I looooove me some peanut butter).  She recommended organic peanut butter over the regular peanut butter you may find on the shelves of the grocery store.  Almond butter is an alternative (yuck…).

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_22

Fermented foods are good for the gut…all kinds of good bacteria and probiotics.  However, if you’re avoiding nightshades, no kimchee for you because of the peppers and spices.  What the heck is a “real pickle,” I asked – it’s cultured; not made with vinegar.  WHAT?  I had no idea – so here’s a recipe that I’m bound to try one of these days.  And yogurt? What’s that doing back on the list?  Remember – not everyone is going to cut out dairy…and there are non-dairy yogurts out there.  However, non-dairy yogurts tend to have a lot of sugar in them – be careful and read the labels.

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_23

Again, this is based on Merritt’s own schooling, research, and personal experience.  These suggestions may, or may not, affect you in a similar way.  We are each responsible for determining what makes us feel our best.  And if you don’t know where to start with the extensive list of things to try eliminating from your diet, Merritt suggested starting with processed oils (soy, canola, peanut, cotton seed, safflower oils).

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_24

In the future, Merritt may be able to talk to us about acupuncture and possible benefits it may provide for our health, well-being, AND Endometriosis symptoms.  Stay tuned!

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_25To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_26To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_27

We had a few questions before Merritt wrapped up the presentation:

Q.  Are chicken and fish okay to eat?
A.  Good quality chicken is important; make sure it’s organic chicken.  Wild caught fish is going to be a great source of anti-inflammatories.  You may want to avoid farmed fish.

Q.  What are considered good beans and what beans are “bad beans”?
A.  The lists and opinions are extensive!  She suggested Googling (click here).

Q.  Do you have any thoughts on taking active birth control pills continuously?
A.  Sometimes it’s necessary, but there are pros and cons to both.  Birth control does deplete B vitamins. get if you’re taking a continuous BC pill, be sure to start a B complex.

Q.  What’s the difference between dry needle and acupuncture?
A.  Dry needling is a technique adopted by physical therapists – it’s not acupuncture.  It’s the manipulation of acupressure points for pain and it can be helpful.  Physical Therapists are not trained as acupuncturists (different schooling, length of study, etc.), but there may be some high-quality PTs out there doing it.  It may be great for ortho issues but for more complex issues, like gynecological issues.  Acupuncture may help longer and more fully.

Q.  What’s this “cold foods” reference on our handouts?
A.  It’s a Chinese medicine thing.  Many believe that warm foods easier for the digestive system to process. Cold foods require more effort for the digestive tract.  Add ginger to cold foods to “warm it up” to the digestive tract.

Q.  If you exercise, is it better to eat before or after the workout?
A.  Totally up to your body and what feels good to you.  if blood sugar issues, don’t skip the snack or meal.

Q.  Does milk thistle help the liver?
A.  It can aid the liver.  Merritt uses a complement of herbs to help with liver cleansing.

Q.  Does lavender increase estrogen?
A.  Merritt wasn’t sure about this.  Now I’m curious and want to look into it, too.

 

To Share Nutrition for Endometriosis Slide Lecture_Page_28

Please remember that these are my notes on Merritt’s presentation.  They *may* be inaccurate and are my interpretation of what she said. 🙂  As always, please feel free to do your own research, or reach out to Merritt or your own healthcare providers for more information.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in the workshop was:  Be flexible.  Our diet is practice; not perfection!  Find a balance that suits your needs.

I would like to extend a MASSIVE thank you to Merritt for sharing with us, and for all that she is doing (and will do) for our Community.   You’re a treasure and I value you so very much.

Endo & Nutrition Workshop in San Diego!

 merritt copy

Optimal Nutrition to Manage Endometriosis

Join us for a discussion on how diet and nutrition can best support those living with Endometriosis. Merritt Jones is an EndoSister, certified nutritionist, licensed acupuncturist and primary care provider here in San Diego. She is excited to share with you what she’s learned over the years about how nutrition can impact Endometriosis.

We’ll discuss:

– The connection between food, digestion and endometriosis

– Foods that reduce inflammation/reduce endo signs and symptoms

– Foods that may make endo signs and symptoms worse

– Tools to manage endometriosis signs and symptoms naturally

– The emotional implications of nutrition for Endo (you don’t have to be perfect!)

– Much more!

Date:  October 25, 2017

Time: 6:00pm – 7:30pm

Location: Mission Valley Library (in their Community Room); 2123 Fenton Parkway, San Diego, CA 92108

If you’d like to come, please email me here.  Space is limited.  As usual, this is FREE!

If you’d like to share with others, we also have a Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/727045307488736

If you have a question for Merritt (even if you can’t attend), please feel free to e-mail her confidentially at Merritt@JonesFamilyAcupuncture.com. There is no question too silly/personal etc.

 

A paper on the holistic treatment of Endometriosis

Loose_leaf_chamomile_tea.jpg

The Ohlone Herbal Center published Whitney Staeb’s apprenticeship paper in October 2016 about the holistic treatment approaches of Endometriosis.  If you’d like to read the 16-page report in it’s entirety, please click here.

It discusses herbs and flower essences that may help ease inflammation and symptoms.  Although it does not discuss doses, it does talk about the supposed medicinal properties of each and combinations that may help during cycles.  If intrigued, read the paper and consult with your healthcare provider and an herbalist.

Diet and proper nutrition play a large role possibly controlling Endometriosis symptoms.  She identifies some “ideal foods” that may be incorporated into, and excluded from, your diet.

Lifestyle changes such as switching feminine hygiene products, exercising, taking warm baths, using heating pads, and practicing good self-care may also ease the physical and mental issues of Endometriosis.

I encourage you to read her paper yourself (click here).  See if any of it speaks to you.  And, again, please do your own research (look for the pros and cons of each listed suggestion) and speak with your healthcare provider before starting any new regimen.

Have you ever, or do you presently, take any of the herbs/supplements referenced in this paper?  Please share your experiences with us in the comments below. Your journey may help others!

Yours,

Lisa

Chew, chew, chew

Chattering-Teeth

I had  read that chewing your food thoroughly helps with the digestive process, makes you feel fuller, and triggers healthy enzymes and hormones.  Chewing at least 40 times before swallowing ensured *something*…but I forgot what.  I had also recently undergone a 7-day colon cleanse, and without going into the gory details saw a lot of things that surprised me.

So I think I’m going to try to make an effort to chew my food more thoroughly. Maybe not 40 times per mouthful, but definitely more than the half-chew-swallow routine I’ve become accustomed to.  But before I blindly decide to chomp more, I’d like to look into why it may be beneficial. And, of course, that means I’d like to share my findings with you.

What does any of this have to do with Endometriosis? Meh, probably nothing.  BUT…if it can help my body become an optimal working machine, well-greased, and healthy: you bet I’ll try chewing better!

How the digestive tract works

Understanding how your food travels through your body may help understand why proper mastication (*snicker*) is important.  It all starts in our mouth : chewing and swallowing. Once swallowed, it travels down our esophagus and into our stomach.  The stomach secretes acids and enzymes to digest and break down the food.  Once that process has taken place, the food drops down to our small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed through the continued breaking-down of the food.  Those nutrients are sent to various systems in our body for purification and distribution, which also help our next meal digest (pancreas, liver, and gall bladder enzymes will be sent to our stomach for the next meal).  The food, however, continues on through our large intestine and colon, where it eventually exits our system through pooping (I couldn’t bring myself to say bowel movement…because sometimes I’m just a giggly 12-year-old girl).

It’s a crazy process, which all begins with our chewing!  Let’s start this off right!

Benefits of chew, chew, chewing

While we chew, we create saliva.  Saliva is a little powerhouse of good bacteria and chemicals that not only lubes our food for its journey through our body, but also protects our mouth and teeth from harmful bacteria and damage.  It also plays a role in our sense of taste.  Saliva may also help ease heartburn by combating over-zealous stomach acid.

By not swallowing large or incompletely-chewed chunks of food, you decrease the chances of lodging food in your throat, or scraping/tearing your esophagus on the way down.  Ever swallow something, and have to immediately run for a glass of water because it feels stuck? If we chew our food better, it may not happen as much.  Chewing slower and swallowing less-big chunks may also reduce our chances of swallowing air, which may make us feel less bloated or gassy.

Our stomach is alerted by the brain to the type of food that is in our mouth and about to enter the stomach.  So the stomach, based on those chemical senses, releases certain digestive enzymes to better help digest the food that will be in our stomach.  Well-chewed food is also much easier for the stomach enzymes to digest properly.  Larger chunks may take time, or not be properly digested before passing on through the rest of our system.  Studies also have shown that food that has been thoroughly chewed costs the body less energy to digest.  Improperly digested food may lead to gas and bacteria (which may lead to constipation or diarrhea) in our intestines.  Bloat and fart much? Chew better! See how that feels.

Properly digested food (aka smaller particles…chewing more thoroughly) allows for the absorption of more nutrients while the food is being zipped around our intestines.  A study presented at the 2013 Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting & Food Expo showed that people who chewed almonds more absorbed the nutrients faster; however, people who chewed their almonds less passed the almonds more quickly, absorbing less goodness into their bodies.  Some foods are naturally difficult to digest (nuts, seeds, and the infamous corn); chewing these foods more thoroughly may help our bodies break down and digest them a bit easier.

It takes about 20 minutes for the brain to tell your stomach you’re full.  You may find that you’re eating less food than before because you’re allowing your body to properly gauge how full it is before stuffing your stomach.  A 2008 study suggests that eating slowly leads to a more full feeling at the end of the meal as compared to a fast-eaten meal feeling less satiated.  A study presented by Iowa State University in 2012 showed that chewing food more carefully actually increased hormones that reduce hunger:

“When people chewed the pizza 40 times before swallowing, there was a reduction in hunger, preoccupation with food and a desire to eat. There was an increase in CCK, which is a hormone related to fullness and satiety. And there was a reduction in ghrelin, another hormone that stimulates the brain to increase appetite.” ~James Hollis

A 2014 study by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Kyushu University found that chewing more thoroughly aids your body’s digestion, which may even alter it’s metabolism, leading to a greater chance of weight loss (with healthy diet and exercise, I’m sure).

How much to chew?

Well, it depends on who you ask.  Some say to chew a minimum of 40 times her mouthful before swallowing.  In the 1800’s, Horace Fletcher encouraged people to chew their food 100 times before swallowing.  Others say to chew until the texture is uniform and you can no longer distinguish what you were chewing. The best advice I can find online about how to properly chew your food is to make sure it’s a pulpy or as liquidy as possible before swallowing.  Mash it up real good with your teeth & saliva.  Each person will be different, as will each mouthful.  Another great piece of advice was to put your eating utensils down between bites.  That way you’re less tempted to scoop up the next mouthful before you’ve finished chewing and swallowing the present bite.

I’ll be making a conscious effort to chew my food better! Will you?

Resources:

3 Fat Chicks

Durable Health

European Food Information Council

Flatulence Cures

Health Guidance

Health Zen 

Institute of Food Technologists

International Foundation of Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc.

Iowa State University

Livestrong

Mayo Clinic

Medical News Today

Mercola

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Organic Authority

Science World Report

Symptom Find

U.S. National Library of Medicine – 2008 (abstract) : Eating slowly led to decreases in energy intake within meals in healthy women

U.S. National Library of Medicine – 2014 (abstract) : The number of chews and meal duration affect diet-induced thermogenesis and splanchinic circulation

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Artichokes : MmmMmm Good!

artichoke-338082_640Tonight I’m cooking one of my favorite meals : roasted artichokes (recipe can be found here)!  I’d never cooked one before last year.  Had NO clue how to do it, and boy was I intimidated.  But with eating healthier for my Endo, I started shopping at my local farmer’s market (living in California, they’re readily available year-round), and hit the wonders of the internet : I have since learned! And it’s EASY, delicious, and oh-so-good for you!

Which got me curious : why are they so good for you? I figure they’ll be roasting in the oven for the next hour, so : Internet, here I come!

WARNING : Artichokes are NOT a vegetable; they’re a part of the thistle family.  If you have allergies to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or chrysanthemums, you may be sensitive toward artichokes and…have a bad experience : itching, hives, rashes, wheezing, trouble breathing, swelling & difficult swallowing.   Such reactions can lead to anaphylaxis and should be reported to a healthcare provider immediately.  Also, artichokes may increase the effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs and you may wish to discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Now that the scary stuff is done, here’s the good stuff:

Did you know that in 2004 artichokes ranked number 7 on the USDA’s Top 20 list for antioxidant-rich foods? I didn’t…Another study in 2006 (you can read it all here) ranked them near the top, too (along with some other amazeballs foods!).

Artichokes are high in iron, folic acid, Vitamin C (one medium artichoke can deliver up to 15% of your daily dose of Vitamin C), magnesium, potassium, fiber (one medium artichoke can contain up to 41% of your daily fiber), and other minerals! They are also a good source of protein, copper, iron, and Vitamins A, B, E, and K.  And they’re low in saturated fat and cholesterol!

They’re good for your heart (potassium) and can help with your blood pressure (reduces the effects of sodium). They’re also full of antioxidants and Vitamin C, boosting your immune system and reducing free radicals. A healthy dose of fiber helps keep your digestive system on track, stimulates the growth of good colon bacteria, reduces bad cholesterol levels while increasing good levels, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Magnesium and Vitamin C also promote strong and healthy bones.  It is also thought that eating artichoke may improve gall bladder and liver efficiency.

And, in order to absorb as much as the nuuuuutriiients as possible, I’d advise cooking fresh artichoke as opposed to canned…

And with that said, my oven just dinged. Time to enjoy! I hope this may have opened your eyes to an often-overlooked bit of deliciousness!  Hit the web and find a way that suits your cooking skills!

Happy eatin’!

Resources:

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

FitDay

Food Matters

Health Sciences Institute

ifood

Livestrong

Los Angeles Times

Medical Health Guide

Nutrition and You

Organic Facts

WebMD

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa

Just what is gluten?

Secale_cereale_-_ear_(aka)

Many of us have heard of Gluten.  There’s been news reports that it’s bad for us, other reports that it doesn’t do anything, and yet other reports that it doesn’t truly exist.  Many people have chosen to cut out as much gluten from their diets as they can, if they cannot cut it out completely.  Why?  Many women with Endometriosis have been found to have a sensitivity to gluten.  It may irritate their digestion and bowels, causing discomfort, diarrhea or constipation, among other things.  We already have enough of that on our own.  So, find out what feels good to you and follow you body’s wishes.

But what the HECK is Gluten? You see labels on food or household items “Gluten-Free,” and go to restaurants and see menu items that are “Gluten-Free.”  Some women say they have a sensitivity if they eat it, while others claim a sensitivity to even topical applications (shampoos, creams, cleaning supplies, etc.).  I have a layman’s understanding that it’s something to do with certain grains or wheat, but just what is it?  And what does it really do?

Now I just have to figure this out…

What Is Gluten

Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, rye, barley (including products with malt, malt flavoring, and malt vinegar), and triticale (a hybrid between rye and wheat).  It’s a different name of a protein for each grain: in wheat, it’s gliadin and glutenin; in rye it’s secalin; in barley it’s hordein.  These proteins nourish plants during germination and also effect the stretchiness of dough, and the chewiness of baked goods.  So you’ll need to avoid the obvious wheat flours.  Other ways these items may be listed on a label : durum flour, farina, graham flour, kamut, semolina, or spelt.

Celiac Disease and Sensitivities

If you have Celiac Disease, your body can have a negative immune response to gluten: your bloodstream can take in toxins and gluten fragments from these proteins, causing inflammation and damage to the small intestine, diarrhea, fatigue, or joint pain.  The little hair-like fingers in our small intestines (known as villi), which help absorb nutrients into our bodies, become less effective and stagnant.  Some people with a gluten allergy can have skin rashes or respiratory reactions.  If you do NOT have Celiac disease, but you have a gluten sensitivity, similar symptoms may occur, but the small intestines are not damaged.  Some additional symptoms of a sensitivity may be: abdominal bloating and cramping, back pain, nausea, or vomiting.

What is Gluten-Free

Any products that carry a “Gluten-Free” label have adhered to the FDA’s strict standards of less than “20 parts per million” of gluten.  Convert that into somewhat-English, that that means that there is than 0.0020% of any gluten in the product.

Foods that Likely Contain Gluten

Unless marked Gluten-free, many of these products are likely to contain gluten in one form or another: beer, breads, cakes (and pies!!), certain candy, cereals, communion wafers, cookies, crackers, croutons, gravies, imitation meat or seafood, matzo, pastas, processed lunch meats, salad dressings, sauces (including soy sauce), seasoned rice mixes, seasoned snacks (including chips), soups and soup bases, or vegetables in sauce.

Additionally, some foods (such as oats or french fries) may be cross-contaminated during processing with gluten proteins. Certain food additives, such as malt flavoring or modified food start contain gluten. Medications, vitamins, and supplements may use gluten as a binding agent in their products.

If you truly wish to cut out as much gluten in your diet as possible, read the label.  Or look for specifically-marked “Gluten Free” products.

Alternatives to Wheat, Rye, or Barley

There are many grains that people can eat that do not contain gluten.  And a lot of companies and products are available that use these alternatives.  Safe grains include: Amaranth, Arrowroot, Buckwheat, Corn/Cornmeal, Flax, Gluten-Free Flours (such as rice, soy [EndoSisters need to avoid soy products], corn, potato, or bean), Hominy, Millet, Quinoa, Rice, Sorghum, Soy (avoid it, EndoSisters. It mimics Estrogen…), Tapioca, and Teff.

Word of Warning

If you do pursue a gluten-free diet, or even a less-gluten-y diet, some nutritionists fear you’ll not be receiving all of your required nutrients.  Take your multi-vitamins, people.  Keep your body happy and healthy.

What Will I Do?

I’ve tried to cut gluten out, based on my initial readings of books and articles when I was first diagnosed with Endometriosis.  But it’s just so hard (insert whiny voice here).  So I’ve become more lenient on my gluten intake.  I buy normal bread, because gluten-free bread is 1) sooooo expensive, 2) smaller…, and 3) just doesn’t feel or taste right.  But I do buy a whole grain bread as opposed to the craptastic white bread.  And avoid a “whole wheat” bread, just out of spite.

I’ve found some delicious gluten-free pastas, pancake mixes, crackers, and snacky-cakes, which I do regularly buy and enjoy. And the more I can 1) afford it and 2) locate something I like, I try my best to still go gluten-free with my products.  But I am not going to stress out when I’m eating out and the restaurant doesn’t offer gluten-free bread.  You’d be surprised though: ask your waiter or restaurant staff if they have a gluten-free alternative. Sometimes they say “yes,” and all is right with the world. 🙂

I buy gluten-free versions of my vitamins and supplements.  They’re out there. And it’s a small way I can help my body.

I am not sure if I have a gluten sensitivity.  I haven’t taken the time to cleanse, then try some gluten-y product and see how my body reacts.  I would like to sometime this year, though.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Yours, Lisa

Resources:

Celiac Disease Foundation

Gluten Intolerance School

Live Science

Mayo Clinic

Rapid Tables

The Gluten Free Chef

~ Again, I am a layman.  I do not hold any college degrees, nor mastery of knowledge.  Please take what I say with a grain of salt.  If curious, do your own research 😉 Validate my writings.  Or challenge them.  And ALWAYS feel free to consult with your physician. Always.  Yours ~ Lisa