Breaking Up is Still Hard to Do

IMG_1920As it is with many relationships, breaking up can be torture. Although I believed coffee and I were over (Breaking Up is Hard to Do), because it mimics gluten, I indulged in a bit of a reunion a few days ago. And it felt so good. Because I’m stubborn and in denial about the new and unjust effects of caffeine on my body, I took a few sips of espresso. Yes, of all things, espresso. I said, if I’m gonna do it, might as well get ridiculous. It made me weak in the knees and butterflies swirled in my stomach, typical of a reunion with a missed beloved.

Except, I quickly realized the butterflies weren’t the good kind. They were pangs of agony, and the cold, hard reminder that coffee and I should most definitely remain apart.

But then, because I just can’t seem to torture myself enough and because denial is an astonishingly powerful thing, I tried a milder coffee blend a couple of days later. I was surprised to find that I tolerated it pretty well this time. Except, after a couple of cups, back to the same problem. So my conclusion is that the strength of the coffee bean is a factor in whether it can impact a person with gluten sensitivity, but amount is also a part of it.

I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting to find the perfect coffee for me (and regret it after), but in the meantime, I’m reconnecting with my first love, chai. But I’m not talking about coffeehouse “Chai Tea Latte,” (which actually just means tea tea latte) with 50 grams of sugar and tons of additives, but homemade chai grounds boiled to perfection, milk added in at just the right time, and spices thrown in.

So far, it’s going pretty well. Rebounds are the best, at least for a little while.

Ahhh, Liquid Toxins

IMG_5775I was driving home from work. The digital car thermometer seemed to be laughing at me as it read 101 degrees. My mouth was dry and I really needed some water. I was stuck in Chicago traffic so I knew it would be at least 45 minutes before I got home. I rolled up the windows. Maybe AC would help. At this point, I was willing to try the weirdest of ideas. AC didn’t do a thing, of course. I was now thirsty to the point of nausea. Not good.

I thought it might help to distract myself by putting the music up louder. I know. None of my techniques were making any sense. I wondered if I was at the point of delirium. But after rethinking it, I realized that I was just being a drama queen, a very desperate, thirsty drama queen.

As I glanced to the right to reach for the radio station knob, I saw a water bottle snugly sitting in the passenger door compartment. Is it a mirage? I thought. I blinked hard, well, not too hard because I still had to drive. No, this is for real.

Traffic’s slow. I can snap off my seat belt and reach over. Except, for one thing. This very yummy looking water had been sitting in the car for at least a week. And that meant it was now well-saturated with all of the chemicals from its bottle. I contemplated between the two evils – dehydration or drinking liquid toxins. Grumpy,  frustrated, and more dramatic than ever, I finally made it home, ran to the kitchen while yelling for my girls to call 911 if I passed out as they rolled their eyes, and poured a nice, tall glass of filtered tap water.

Bottled water not only absorbs chemicals from its container under both hot and cold temperatures, such as sitting in your car or chilling in the freezer, there is also research that shows that 40% of the time, bottled water has the same composition as tap water. So why are we paying companies to bottle our tap water?

Read more about the negative consequences of drinking bottled water, including infertility, attention problems and cancer: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/01/15/dangers-of-drinking-water-from-a-plastic-bottle.aspx

Stay hydrated, my friends. The most interesting man in the world may be super duper interesting, and a very smooth looking older gentleman (oh right, besides the point), but he’s probably also extremely dehydrated.

Really Mom, Coconut Oil? Moms and Their Myths.

imageI sat reluctantly on our living room floor as my mother roughly applied coconut oil to my hair. She ignored my bratty, ten-year-old complaints as streams of oil made their way down my face. I protested, fidgeted, and tried to escape her grip, only to be drawn back to my seat and jostled around into a near concussion as she continued the greasy ritual.

“You have to use coconut oil every night so you have nice, healthy hair,” she’d remind me. Yet, along with all the other pieces of random tales she’d offer, I placed her nuggets of advice into the section of my mind labeled, “Myths That Mom Makes Up.”

Coconut oil for hair and skin, turmeric for colds, hot tea for itchy throats, ginger for indigestion, they were all such weird remedies. Mom is a large advocate of I told you so’s, but I’m going to say it anyway. After many, many years of ridiculing her suggestions, I have found that she’s right. Ugh.

Although used for hundreds of years to improve health and nutrition, coconut oil is only now receiving popular attention. It is used in cooking, hormone imbalance, and even deodorant. Think of all of the preservatives that can be avoided by substituting coconut oil for everyday products that are often loaded with toxins, such as coffee creamer, soap and toothpaste. Check out this article http://draxe.com/coconut-oil-uses/ to learn about its many benefits.

There are various methods of extracting oil from coconut. This article provides information on the types: http://healthimpactnews.com/2014/what-type-of-coconut-oil-is-best-how-to-choose-a-coconut-oil/. It’s a bit lengthy but informative. If you’d like to skip to which extraction types are best, there’s a chart toward the bottom of the article. I’d love to hear how you’ve used coconut oil.

By the way, thanks Mom.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Ode to Coffee

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Sadly, I recently found out that my beloved – coffee – has been doing me wrong. Heartbreaking. I didn’t even see it coming. Everything was fine for several years, so I thought, No! It can’t be. Coffee was my best friend and trusted companion. Coffee came to work with me, walked to school with me through many chilling Chicago winters, even came to class and stayed up with me on late nights as I studied. More recently, coffee clocked in long hours of writing, revising, and obsessing over a very involved project.

Yet, I’m left with no choice but to come to grips with the fact that coffee is doing weird things to me, and sadly, can no longer be trusted. Of course I went through a phase of denial and thought that maybe gluten was sneaking into my body without me somehow knowing it. Gluten, for me is particularly deleterious. But no, that wasn’t it. I was too diligent. So I had to start the very difficult process of eliminating foods systematically to find the culprit. Of course I continued to drink coffee because it surely couldn’t be that. However, it quickly became very obvious that despite my back stroke down the deep sea of denial, coffee was in fact the culprit. I frantically started to do research hoping that someone would tell me it wasn’t so. Maybe I’d even find that coffee helps the digestive system function more optimally (see, that back stroke again). Except the only thing I found time and time again related to the digestive system was this:

Coffee can be misunderstood as gluten or other invasive substances in the body, and therefore, the body reacts adversely to it. I’ve included a couple of articles that support this absurdly tragic news:

http://autoimmune-paleo.com/kicking-the-coffee-habit/

http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/10-reasons-to-quit-coffee-plus-healthy-alternatives

NOOOOOOO!!! I didn’t want to find research that confirmed my suspicion. But here I am, now attempting to find suitable alternatives for my beloved friend and comforter, the coffee bean. Of course, there is tea, matcha and mate, the latter possibly being closest to coffee in consistency. But, the reality is that I’m not ready for this relationship to be over and I’m surely not ready for a rebound. So, in my tormenting sadness, the only thing I can do is this:

 

Ode to Coffee

Coffee, oh coffee, where art thou, coffee?

I thought you’d never, ever forsake me.

But you changed, and we can no longer be together.

In fact, separate, I suppose, would be better.

 

You did me wrong, or was it I that was changing all along?

Despite this conundrum, I shall continue to sing this song,

Because you were there when I needed you,

Unwavering, bold and strong.

 

Although it is now time for us to part,

You will always and forever have my heart.

Although you sometimes gave my stomach great pains,

And sometimes gave my heartbeat a terrible start and disdain.

 

Coffee, oh coffee,

I shall always wish that you hadn’t left me,

Yet for my own good, I must refrain from your lure,

In spite of my yearning heart and your aromatic overtures.

*****

Breaking up is oh, so hard to do. I suppose this isn’t a Happy Ending, because I have to sacrifice an old friend, nor is it thoroughly sad, because I feel liberated from its effects. It is instead bittersweet, just as I loved my coffee.

Why Does Leaky Gut Have to Be so Cruel?

IMG_1667   Leaky Gut Syndrome. It sounds nasty, not very medical, and not even a little official. It reminds me of a lame insult you’d throw at your Kindergarten nemesis. “Ick, you look like a leaky gut.” So why do researchers, clinicians, doctors, and all those guys continue to use that term? Well, despite its disagreeable name, the description very precisely depicts what’s occurring. Thus, the not so beloved term, leaky gut. So what does that mean? It means the intestinal tract is unfortunately getting beat down by various digested toxins so badly that it’s becoming porous. These areas become permeable, leading to toxins then literally leaking out into the bloodstream and causing all types of terror in the body. For more detailed information on how the gut may become leaky, check out this article by the The Daily Beast.

By the way, I hate my gut.

I’ve had to be very careful what I eat and drink in the past few days because for whatever reason, I seem to be so sensitive to just about everything that I my body reacts disapprovingly. It’s so bad that someone recommended I find a bubble I can crawl inside and live in. Thanks, friend. I’d rather not. Instead, I’ve been on one of my many crazed searches to find out what the heck is going on. Of course I’d see my doctor if I thought I’d find solutions that were more long-term and eventually preventative rather than pharmaceutical bandaids, but it’s usually the latter when I do go, so I knew I wouldn’t find solace there.

The most annoying symptom is that I can’t breathe. My asthma’s triggered by foods that I normally have no problem with.  Not breathing is no fun, but even more so when you have no idea what’s making it more frequent. I thought I was coming to learn many of my asthma triggers – preservatives, gluten, animal hair, pollen, dust, strong scents, smoke and strong spices when cooking (thus thus the bubble suggestion) – all irritants I can identify as harmful. But all of a sudden, I started to feel like I was having spontaneous asthma attacks without a trigger.

I hated not knowing when I would have another attack. It used to be so predictable that I would just do what I needed to do in order to reduce inflammation and go about my day, accepting that one of the usual culprits invaded my body. But this new unknown trigger was like the boogeyman, stopping me in my tracks. Not only was I frustrated that I was experiencing symptoms but I was angry because I’ve been so diligent in avoiding triggers. I mean, I even did the unthinkable recently and significantly reduced my sugar intake. Ugh. Who does that? I hated it at first but that’s another story. Ultimately, it was worth it.

Anyway, I was doing all the normal stuff I usually do in an attempt to flee from triggers, so I wasn’t sure where to go from here. I decided that the only option I had was to become even more obsessively hyper-vigilant about what I ate, and maybe, just maybe,  I’d start to see a pattern. So, I became the even more annoying, abnoxious restaurant goer. “Ma’am, do you know if this has ANY unnatural additives, strange colorings, harsh chemicals or hidden gluten in it?” I usually got the disgusted, but casual “No, it doesn’t” just to get me to shut up. It helped to know that I was being lied to, because at least then I had an answer. Twisted, I know, but still helpful. This seemed to help at times, as I realized that maybe the take-out place that claimed to have “all-natural” ingredients included fake natural ingredients under the guise, “natural flavors” that may come hidden in some of the products they purchase. Even more twisted. I’d like to believe that even most restaurant owners are bamboozled by this stealthily hidden problem rather than assume that they’re cut-throat, greedy bastards, but I guess I’ll never know.

Even at home, though, I was having weird inflammatory responses. My breathing became labored and I turned into a blow fish within a few minutes of eating something. “Hey kids, check this out, I look nine months pregnant.” They threw me glances of pity followed by scrunched up expressions that guaranteed they were thinking, “She’s so weird.”

One evening, I decided to have some coffee. I had a few sips from the same cup much earlier in the day and it was delicious. Being the true coffee drinker that I am, I had no trouble reheating it hours later and enjoying it as much as I had that morning. And if you’re a real coffee junky, you’re not one bit judgy or grossed out by my coffee drinking rituals right now.

For whatever unknown reason, this same, innocuous cup of coffee that tasted oh so right and was well-received just hours prior by my finicky gut decided to reject it in the most violent of ways. Once again, I was turning into a puffer fish, uncontrollably transforming like the Hulk when someone ticks him off. The breathing, then the pregnancy belly, which further exacerbated the breathing, then the trying to take deep breaths, then the sheer hopelessness, and ultimately feeling very stuck and desperate for answers.

Wait a minute, I thought. It made sense. It was related to leaky gut. In my gut, I just knew it, quite literally. My gut, although welcoming the coffee with open arms earlier that day, had somehow changed its mind later in the evening. Just a few hours later, the environment in my gut must’ve changed so much that a substance that was harmless so quickly betrayed me. While waddling around feeling forlorn and simultaneously making pitiful attempts to implement some deep breathing, I realized that I was again being stripped away from yet another one of my loves. I couldn’t drink coffee the way I used to any longer.

It’s nothing short of grief, not only because it’s one of the few vices I have left, but because it speaks to the body’s imperfections, to the various phases of life, to aging, even as I often jokingly share that ,”I used to be able to eat anything.” And this modification I have to make, just another thing to add to the now long list, has attempted to conquer me. And I must surrender, not because I’m weak but because in my acceptance lies my fight.

 

Arsenic in Wine

liv27wine_OSBS_02-27-2008_FLA_LIV_R91GD650.jpg  Arsenic is far beyond a preservative. In high doses, it can be deadly. However, it also occurs naturally in some foods, although in low amounts.  Unfortunately, it appears that some wine companies may have decided to add additional arsenic to some wine brands during the filtration process. Well, why would anyone want to do that? Arsenic apparently clarifies wine and gives it a more sparkly look. I’d rather drink my wine cloudy. There’s a lot of controversy around this topic right now, but little hard evidence of all that’s going on, so be aware and objective in what you’re hearing about this topic. More details will likely unfold with time. In the mean time, do a little bit of research on your favorite wine brands and read this article for more details while you’re sipping on your hopefully arsenic-free drink. Cheers.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&sqi=2&ved=0CB8QqQIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.csmonitor.com%2FBusiness%2F2015%2F0321%2FArsenic-in-wine-from-California-claims-lawsuit&ei=2tEOVcKHIcqZgwTg8IAQ&usg=AFQjCNGUxSUwWzOBqZelX37FcrOkkCUTdQ&bvm=bv.89060397,d.eXY