FOUND! acne-safe cooking fats

exiting news for anyone who has ever had anything prepared in animal fat – you know how incredibly delicious it is (duck fat fries anyone?). not only is cooking with animal fat tasty, it is completely acne-safe and full of nutrients.

it can seem a bit strange to make your own animal cooking fat, (instructions here), especially for people on the go, or who are strangers to the kitchen. the company epic has bottled up some super high quality stuff, including:

  • 100% beef tallow
  • pork lard
  • duck fat (our personal favorite!)

animal fats

i found these bad boys at my local whole foods market, and am very excited to prepare my morning eggs in duck fat.

there are some awesome nutritional benefits of cooking with animal fats.

  • great source of healthy fat, which our brains AND hearts need.
  • great source of omega fatty acids, and saturated fat which contrary to outdated nutrition ideas of the 80’s and 90’s is essential for the function of many of our organs. these fats act as a vehicle for fat-soluble vitamins, and countless natural processes inside our bodies. this is a great article about the need for saturated fats in our diet.
  • we have found it to be one of the safest oils to cook with, for more cooking oil information see an older blogpost here.

 

this post is by allyson!

candida care for your ayurvedic type by john douillard

candida is a yeast that can negatively influence the body and skin when it overgrows. we found this awesome article about the ayurvedic approach to balancing candida within the body. check it out and enjoy!

 

Candida Care for Your Ayurvedic Type

candida albicans Dandelion sunset imageCandida albicans yeast is a naturally-occurring intestinal inhabitant which is normally kept in check by a properly balanced intestinal medium. Candida albicans becomes a concern when the intestinal flora’s good bacteria is out-populated by this yeast, which is commonly included under the heading bad bacteria. The now-flourishing yeast can enter the bloodstream via the enteric cycle and elicit the classic yeast symptoms of low energy levels, interrupted sleep, immunity issues, ringing in the ears, and sluggish digestion.

The Western approach to candida overgrowth is to eradicate the yeast and therefore relieve the associated symptoms. Ayurvedically, it is considered most important to address the underlying cause of candida while using herbal remedies to rebalance the body towards a healthy intestinal medium.

 

How Does Candida Take Over?

In Ayurveda, the etiology, or cause underlying the uncontrolled proliferation of candida is considered to be agnimandya, or deficient digestion. Deficient digestion results in the production of ama, which is the by-product of undigested food. Ama is then either absorbed into the bloodstream or lymphatic system, creating a toxicity and the ground floor for many health issues. Invariably, this ama will accumulate in the seat of vata found in the lower digestive tract. The seat of vata is governed by the apana (or downward moving) energy, which regulates the growth of flora in the gastrointestinal tract. As the ama accumulates in the small and large intestines, it will putrefy and ferment, thus inhibiting the normal flora from proliferating. Under these conditions, yeast has free reign to spread throughout the intestines unchecked.

The next stage of the candida growth process is a result of the intestinal absorption of ama into the liver and blood via the portal system.

In Ayurveda it is believed that, once yeast enters the bloodstream, the step-by-step generation and regeneration process of the seven tissues of the body can be interrupted or damaged.

If the seven tissues – which include rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), medha (fat), majja (nervous tissue), asthi (bone), and sukra (sperm and ovum) – are damaged or improperly formed, an overall lack of luster and vitality is the result. The dhatus are formed in a carefully designed succession, and if any one of the dhatus are improperly formed then the production of sukra will be inhibited. Sukra, the final culmination of the digestive process and of dhatu development, provides the body with immunity, procreation, vitality, luster, long life, and health. It is this gross lack of vitality and immunity that colors the symptoms of candida proliferation.

Reigning it Back In

From an Ayurvedic perspective, the two most important strategies in reigning candida back in are, first, to ensure the integrity of the digestive strength (also called agni, or fire) and second, to build immunity back into the body. With both of these in place, the treatment to kill off the excess yeast with medical drugs or herbs can safely and effectively be employed.

In Ayurveda, it’s understood that candida overgrowth can present differently based on body type, or prakriti, and can respond to a different support protocol depending on whether it’s a vata, pitta, or kapha form of candida overgrowth. Below, I’ll walk you through how to tell which form may match your presentation, and how to support each accordingly. After that, I’ll give you some general lifestyle suggestions that anypresentation of candida overgrowth will benefit from.

Vata Candida Issues

Vata is aggravated by the excessive intake of pungent, bitter, and astringent foods; sugar; hard-to-digest proteins; wheat, dairy, nuts and soy; too much cold food and excessive travel; the suppression of natural and normal urges; excessive intercourse, and irregular eating and sleeping habits. Signs of vata aggravation include dry skin; nervousness, moodiness and an inability to cope; constipation, gas and bloating; ups and downs in energy levels, and unbalanced sleep patterns. If these are paired with signs of yeast imbalance, this can be considered a vata presentation of candida.lemon ginger honey concoction image

Dietary Support

1. Start with an ama decreasing diet. This involves avoiding dairy, sugar, breads, and mucous-producing foods. Cold and raw foods should also be avoided. Sip hot water every 20 minutes and drink eight to ten 8oz glasses of warm lemon water per day. Eat a large relaxing lunch and a warm cooked soup for dinner. Avoid fruit juice and eat fresh fruit in moderation and separately from all other food groups. Use hing, ginger, basil ajwan, and garlic to spice your food*.

2. Start each meal with equal parts of ginger juice and honey, and a pinch of lemon juice, salt, and cumin powder*.

Pitta Candida Issues

Aggravated pitta can put out digestive fire in the same way that a flood of boiling water will put out a flame. Pitta is aggravated by greasy and spicy foods, and sugar. Signs of pitta imbalance are acidic digestion and occasional heartburn; bloating; yellowing complexion; irritability; swelling and other issues of the joints; yellowing loose stool; raised body temperature, and excessive thirst. Remember that often times the upward flow of vayu can take a vata based candida issue and mix it with a pitta presentation. Both sets of symptoms at the same time indicates a vata and pitta combined cause. A support protocol would then have to address both vata and pitta.

Dietary Support

1. Eat more fresh raw leafy green vegetables, avoid sugar and fruit juice. Emphasize pomegranates and bitter herbs, veggies, and spices.

Kapha Candida Issues

Kapha is aggravated by the intake of food that is too heavy, too oily, and cold, and by pasta, bread, and sugar. Overeating and sleeping after meals produces ama and puts out the digestive fire. In this case digestion becomes slow and difficult. Kapha yeast issues can present with lowered immunity, swollen glands, water retention, heavy mood, fatigue, and excessive sleep.

Dietary Support

1. Avoid all mucus-forming, oily, and greasy foods. Avoid salt and sugar. Eat primarily grains and vegetables. Dandelion, asparagus, kale, collard greens, and spinach are foods to increase.

2. Flavor food with pungent spices like cayenne, ginger, black pepper, clove, and curry.

Lifestyle Tips to Keep Candida in Check

If you are experiencing the signs of yeast overgrowth, it can be very helpful to follow a regular daily routine in waking, eating, and sleeping habits.

Each day:Bridge in the garden

  • Wake between 5 and 7am
  • Take lunch between 12 and 1pm
  • Take dinner between 5 and 7pm
  • Go to bed between 9 and 10pm

Perform a sesame oil self-massage in the morning, followed with a warm bath or shower. You can learn how to give yourself an Ayurvedic self-massage here.

Make lunch your main meal of the day – the biggest and most satisfying. Dinner should be light. Breakfast should be very light and is optional. Favor food that is freshly prepared. Avoid leftovers, frozen, canned, or processed food.

Sip hot water frequently throughout the day (every 1 or 2 hours or as often as desired). This keeps the digestive fire alive and flushes ama from the system. If you feel anxious, sipping hot water also settles the nervous system.

Get fresh air and regular exercise (preferably outdoors) through such methods as a morning or evening walk, sun salutations or other yoga asanas.

Extra Mealtime Tips

  • Eat in a settled environment.
  • Eat three meals a day and avoid snacking (except for the between lunch and dinner yogurt lassi, below).
  • Eat only when hungry, after the last meal has been digested. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, but not yet full (about 1/2 to 3/4 full).
  • Sit quietly for at least five minutes after eating to promote digestion.
  • If dairy tolerant, take a lassi (yogurt mixed with water, 1:1, 1:2, or 1:4) during lunch and between lunch and dinner, as needed to promote digestion. It is best to make lassi with freshly made yogurt. Although traditionally lassi can be sweet or seasoned, with yeast issues you’ll want to keep it savory, flavoring with spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom, for example, or salt, ginger, and cumin.
  • Avoid cold food or drinks, especially foods and drinks taken directly from the refrigerator.
  • Avoid heavy food at the evening meal, including heavy desserts, yogurt, cheese, oily food, and fried food.

Ayurveda is all about going downstream with the cycles. Combining the dietary and lifestyle suggestions in this article with your existing protocol for candida elimination will help support the body in regaining balance, which will help your body heal itself – the cornerstone of Ayurveda!

 

References:
Sharma, P.V. Cakradatt, Chaukhambha Orientalia. New Delhi, India. 1994.
Altha Vale, V.B. Basic Principles of Ayurveda, Bombay India. 1980.
Bhishagratma, K.L. Shusshruta Samhita, Vols. 1 and 2, Varanasi, India. 1981.
Sharma, P.V. Caraka Samhita. Vols. 1 and 2. Varanasi, India.
Devaraj, T.L. The Panchakarma Treatment of Ayurveda. Dwanwantari Orientalia Publication, Bangalore, India. 1986.
Chopra, R., and De, P. The action of sympathomimetic alkaloids in Sida cordifolia. Ind. J. Med. Res. 18 (1930): 467.

 

part 5: kim’s adrenals – success! (so far – it’s a lifestyle thing)

quick disclaimer: all the stuff i write about in my adrenal blog posts are relative to my own personal experience and recommendations.  what was recommended to and worked for me may not work for you, so please proceed with caution and enlist the help of a naturopathic doctor in your area for the best + safest results!

after seeing dr. day for my consultation on 11/20/15, she ordered some tests – one of them, in particular, that would find out what kind (and levels) of brain chemicals were running in my body.  we thought for sure that i was low on dopamine and seratonin, which would make sense of my low moods and irritability.  but, when we got the results back late december 2015, we were both surprised.

TEST RESULTS

it turned out that out of the 12 hormones that were tested, 2 were on the high end of normal, 2 were just over the high end of normal, and 5 were just about double what the high end of normal should be.  a total of 9 out of 12 hormones were high (or way higher) than what they should have been!

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my visit notes with dr. day said:

Overall I’m seeing that your nervous system is quite flared up, but is trying to compensate with high levels of Serotonin and GABA to calm things. Your adrenals/cortisol are overall high, but with a strange dip at 6pm that we’ll need to discuss. Assuming this was a Day 21, your sex hormones actually look quite good, and your melatonin is rocking so I hope you are sleeping well 🙂 

i also got some bloodwork testing done at kaiser, and the results showed:

Blood sugar improving but still high (stress plays a role, also diet/exercise), Ferritin (iron) high end – organ meats, oysters and cast iron are factors.  D and B12 levels ok but could be higher, cholesterol ok but keep up the good fats, thyroid is ok (primary focus is adrenals).
HOMEWORK
dr. day gave me some homework, with lots of supplements.  i straight up told her that my max was going to be 4 supplements a day, and she respected my boundary, but of course encouraged me to build upon my limit of 4, for best results.  🙂
supplements aside, she emphasized the lifestyle changes i needed to make were going to have the biggest impact on my success (read: stress management. sound familiar, sSer’s?).  she thought that the stress of the strict dietary restrictions was a bigger deal than i thought and surprisingly, also said that food reactions weren’t necessarily the first place she looked when addressing her patients imbalances – which was a great relief to me.
here is/was dr. day’s rx for me:
ACTIVITY:
  • More vigorous exercise in the mornings – try this and see how it feels, may help to burn off the excess, and feel more calm and alert through the day.  (ps – for some who are super energy depleted, vigorous exercise may not be the best course of action – restorative yoga or walking may be a better choice; consult a professional for the best + safest results!)
    • done! i got a personal trainer because there was no way i was going to self-start exercise torture.. but am really enjoying the strong empowered feelings from sweating and breathing heavily after said torture 🙂
  • Calming, centering activities in the evening
    • still hard to get off the electronics, but doing the ny times crosswords (albeit on my phone) and putting on brainwave sleep music via youtube videos with the screen face down works wonders, and gets me snoozing in less than 10 minutes, every time)

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AM SUPPLEMENTS:

  • Probiotics approx 20 billion, away from meals, shelf stable for travel
    • i was already doing this first thing in the AM on on empty stomach so no big deal; but the amount of probiotic bacteria is much higher than what i was taking, a blog post about this should be up soon!  i got these from jarrow.  the kyodophilus that sS carries is shelf-stable, but only has 1-2 billion count bacteria; the jarrow ones i picked up have 25 billion each capsule, plus an enteric coating which helps make sure the bacteria get into the small intestine where it needs to get to to be effective, vs dying the stomach’s acids.)
  • Adrenal ADAPTOGEN for day time, try one of the following:
    • Herbs like Ashwaganda, Holy Basil, Maca, Eleuthero (Rhodiola good option, but caution if too stimulating)
    • Adaptogen Blends sent in Healthwave (dr. day’s online herbal dispensary): HPA Adapt or Gaia Adrenal Support (Caution milky oats allergy) – take 2 AM and another 2 between noon-2pm.
    • L-Theanine – test this out as a single ingredient supplement, start with 100mg – take up to 400mg spread out over the day (200mg twice per day for example)
      • i ended up getting new chapter’s holy basil and took this for the month of january – seemed to work well as i was less stressed and felt more centered, but i was also on vacation for three weeks at the same time so, hard to tell what really did it.  i’ve since run out and bought a tincture instead, but am having trouble keeping up with it.
PM SUPPLEMENTS:
  • Adrenal CALMING for bedtime:
    • Cortisol Manager – take 1, 30-60min before bed (aka “Sleep Tonight!” over the counter)
      • this i take on and off – i hate waking in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, but dr. day said i could take it 1-2 hours before bed.  for some reason though, i feel like this gives me more active dreams (thus not as restful sleep) when i take it, versus when i don’t.  still experimenting with it.
AND WITH MEALS, for GI SUPPORT – continue (And notice what it takes to maintain the relief from the swelling that was happening before)
  • Pure Encapsulations Digestive Enzymes with HCl – 2 or more as needed, with each meal
    • taking this is definitely helpful in my digesting of foods = less bloating, but what really helps the most is if i just avoid the inflammatory foods (for me, it’s wheat, corn, rice, dairy.. eggs i still avoid, but am not sure if they bloat me up; i tested highly negatively to all these foods with dr. fig so dr. day thought it best to keep avoiding, especially since i could feel the negative effects from eating them)
After you get back from Japan, add these as a foundational routine…
  • Vit D – 5,000iu total (2 in multi, 1 in fish oil so take 2 drops of the liquid), take it with a meal that contains fat/oil – retest at Kaiser in about 3 months
  • The Big One Plus – 1 per day, WITH food – contains 2,000iu of Vit D
  • B complex – 1 per day, WITH food – more B12 to help with stress/energy
  • ProOmegaD (caps) – 2 per day WITH food (we didn’t discuss this but please add along with the multi and B complex as a foundational supplement for you… source of good fats and anti-inflammatory and helps calm the adrenals – plus many other long term health benefits.)
    • i was in japan for a few weeks in january and i have to admit, i have not added these yet.  i know, i know!  but will be more accountable since i am back on writing out my experience for the world to hold me accountable!
ALSO:
  • Stop using the cast iron pots and retest ferritin in 3 months
  • Stay off caffeine
  • Continue to avoid/minimize any known/suspected allergens
  • Turn computer screens (and brain) off in the evenings, allow 2 hours (or at least 1 hour) of peaceful and calm time before bed.
    • for the most part, all this was no prob.  i switched out my cast iron for stainless, and an enamel coated aluminum one i got at rainbow grocery. (apparently the enamel makes it safe, since the aluminum is never in direct contact with food).
    • i’m great at avoiding caffeine, except for the VERY rare almond-milk tea tapioca drink from boba guys!  i’ve never been a coffee drinker so this is was easy.
    • allergies have actually been non-existent this year, even with an accidental eye-rubbing-after-a-cat-hair-covered-sofa exposure.  2015 was the worst allergy season i could remember in all my life (likely because my body was already so stressed out, physically and mentally).  i got a series or two of treatments at advanced allergy clinics in hayes valley.  yes, it was super expensive, and the technology + science is really out there, but i had tried everything else over the years, and this totally worked for me.  
    • the reactive foods for the most part i am doing ok with, and am occasionally cheating with a bite of the BF’s morning buttered toast, or a few corn chips at lunch.  😉  and when i do cheat, i definitely feel bloated, and sometimes i’ll even get a headache – so after feeling shitty, that i’m good for a week or two until my next time of weakness.  sigh.  it’s a work in progress.
    • a little bit of crossword and finding my sleep track on my phone, but am trying to catch up on my new yorker + afar magazine back issues more and staying off the blue screens.  i also tried using f.lux for a while, an app designed to eliminate the blue-rays from electronic screens.  i’m not sure if it helped, but it did let me know when it was getting close to bedtime, and drained my battery, which i suppose both help to support the cause?

HOW I’M FEELING NOW

i have to say that since switching over to working with dr. day, i have been feeling much better, and stress has been easier for me to deal with.  stress management was and still is the biggest part of my wellness plan.

i accredit many things to the stress relief i’ve gotten since the first meeting with dr. day.  she opened up my eyes to the possibility of making some drastic moves, in search of greatly improving my quality of life:

  • i (drastically) simplified my work day before it had even started.  i moved from oakland back to san francisco, and traded in my SUPER stressful + ridiculous 1 hour commute (each way, during non-rush hours mind you) to 10 minutes, to work each day.  those traffic days had me arriving to work furious and annoyed, which was not a healthy nor productive way to be, especially as a leader for an awesome team!
  • i asked for, and received, awesome help + support.  liesse really stepped up into her clinic manager role, which has immensely helped unload a lot of the day to day things that kept me from working on the higher-level projects – ones that i was always frustrated about never being able to complete.  and now that lacey is on our management team, she’s been able to help liesse with her duties so that we can all work together to tackle larger projects.  my partner, family and friends also know that i am keeping it low-key and am avoiding certain foods, and support me through the process.  prioritizing relationships that matter the most to me has helped as well; i didn’t want to years to fly by without my seeing my closest girlfriends and their babies grow up!  so i am more, now than ever, putting more effort into keeping in touch with my peeps.  being more active in my professional colleague networks also is great; i can let off steam and share stories of tough times and questionable sanity with a community i can relate to, learn from and laugh with!
  • i started working out.  i bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer.  an accountability buddy would work too, or a strong STRONG sense of willpower.  i needed to get my body moving (aside from walking to the car, and walking from the car to work) and needed someone to motivate me and hold me accountable.  nyrene garces of n-training has been great, supportive, and inspiring.  she comes directly to my house, so i have no excuse to not work out.  it’s a luxury, but hopefully i’ll get myself to a point where i will self-motivate everyday (fingers crossed!).  PLUS, my physical and mental health is not something i can put a price on.  now, when i leave town, i do my best to work out because 1. i miss feeling that positive-attitude and empowered-strength-high from working out, 2. i would like to be buff, fit and fly at some point in my life and 3. i don’t want to eat it hard when i get back into town – nyrene kicks my butt with her action-packed 45-minute exercise routines!
  • i took time off alone to rest, rejuvenate.. and work.  i was fortunate enough to score a black friday deal on those tickets to japan, so i took advantage and went for three weeks, on my own.  with liesse at the helm, i could relax in knowing sS would be ok without me physically being in the office.  being in a space where i didn’t have the distractions of my day to day life at work and home (laundry!  cooking!  cleaning!  social life!) helped me regain some energy and motivation to take care of myself.  i was able to get more fresh air and sunshine, be alone with myself, take my supplements, eat well..  and since i felt much better overall, i was able to get down to the nitty gritty of some WAY overdue projects i had been putting off, along with keeping up on emails without getting stressed out (or distracted by) the day-to-day happenings in the clinic.  when taking that much time away or finances don’t allow for that long a getaway, going camping, heading to kabuki hot springs or imperial spa for an afternoon, and/or getting massages or taking walk listening to spa music are also great + accessible ways to do you.

i have to honestly say, that i am feeling the best i ever have in the last handful of years, and am doing, thinking, and feeling positively about the future.  the stress of the last several years had definitely turned me down the path of thinking all would be better if i just shut sS down and sold donuts at the mall.  but with all the support and work i am doing on/for myself everyday, i am back on the train to growing sS’s reach, and achieving total world domination 🙂

i’lll check back after i’ve started taking the recommended supplements and retest to see if my blood work and hormone levels have changed at all, and any other tricks and tips i’ve picked up along the way to help and inspire those who may be affected the same way i was before i got better!

you had me at tadasana!

by: kerry watson

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need a little yoga in your life? we’ve found the perfect thing! it’s the down dog yoga app! i have been meaning to get myself into better physical shape for many months now and after many failed attempts i’ve finally found this awesome app. it’s free, fun and something that i think i can stick to. it’s like having a private yoga class in the comfort of my own living room. i love the music and the routines. you can choose from yoga flow or restorative and there are beginner and intermediate options for both. you can choose the length and pace of your practice as well. i’ve been doing 30 minutes a day at the normal pace.

sticking to a regular yoga practice is a great way to calm and balance the stress response which helps to control inflammation. it also helps to improve sleep which has a positive effect on the skin. the other apps that we’ve found to be helpful with stress management are insighttimer and headspace. these are great mindfulness mediation apps. insighttimer is my personal fave. you can search for different guided mediations. i love to do the true north sleep mediation right before bed. here it is on youtube as well. it works like a charm anytime i’m having trouble falling or staying asleep.