Why Turmeric is Magical

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There’s a lot of hype about food being beneficial as a natural source of healing – pomegranate, acai, coconut oil, flax seed, chia seed, spinach. Okay, so all of these things are hype-worthy, but turmeric is on a whole other level of special.

Turmeric is yet another good thing my mom told me about when I was a kid and of course I made fun of her and wrote it off as one of her many old wives’ tales. She’s a quirky person, so it was easy to dismiss her natural healing suggestions. But the reality is, she’s also right about a lot of things. That last sentence was very difficult to write, by the way.

Turmeric for instance. She’s been giving me some strange concoction of warm milk, black pepper and turmeric since I was very young. She’d sprinkle it with just a tiny pinch of sugar to ward off any chance that I’d resist it, and it worked like a charm. I’d drink the brightly colored yellow elixir every time.

I also remember she’d hike up the dosage of the concoction when I wasn’t feeling well. “Drink it,” she’d demand. “This is what we did in India. It will heal you.” That was it. No further explanation. Witchcraft, I’d mumble under my breath. But dang it, she was right. And I didn’t need any explanation because it always worked. My mother was passing down principles of traditional Ayurvedic medicine, which is taught generationally through oral tradition.

So what is this thing called turmeric? Well, it is one of those magnificent spices with versatile benefits, including being a natural antibiotic.  This means it is touted for its infection fighting benefits, according to The University of Maryland Medical Center. And why black pepper? Because it activates curcumin, the compound in turmeric that’s the source of its benefits.

Turmeric also:
Reduces inflammation, preventing a host of diseases
Contains antioxidants, which help fight off cancer
Facilitates digestion

So why do we take medicines like harsh pharmaceutical antibiotics with dreadful side effects? Because they are more readily prescribed and unfortunately we put far more stock in “advanced” medicine than we do in natural medicine. Yet, natural methods have often been proven to stand the test of time. Turmeric for instance, has been used for the past 4,000 years.

Now I’m not suggesting you toss your doctor-prescribed medicine. They too have been proven to be very beneficial in some instances. And although turmeric is natural, too much of a good thing can cause problems. For instance, because it is a blood thinner, turmeric should not be consumed too close to an upcoming surgery. It is also known to help decrease blood sugar but if taken in combination with diabetes medication, it may cause hypoglycemia.

So if you come across information on complementary methods, why not run them by your doctor and have a discussion about how they may work for you? Some questions to ask:
Will turmeric (or other natural method) interact with any of my medications?
What side effects should I look out for?
What dosage should I take?

So all in all, Mom was right and I can no longer tease her, at least not about the magical benefits of turmeric.

More soon on how turmeric can be used in cooking.

 

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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.

Hey Baby, Can I Get Some Sugar?

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I was ballooning into the marshmallow man. I thought I might just up and fly away at any moment. The doctor completed several tests as part of the joy of pregnancy. “Spit into that, drink this, let’s draw your blood twelve more times.” I was an ever-growing guinea pig.

Ultimately, the doctor came back with the dreadful diagnosis of gestational diabetes. I wasn’t expecting any diagnoses, especially not that, despite a strong family history of diabetes. I guess I figured I was young, a ripe 21-years-old and generally healthy, so there couldn’t be any concern. Yet, I was predisposed. I was told that it would likely go away after pregnancy with the warning that if I didn’t take care of myself, I could develop diabetes. “And that can cause many problems,” he added. For a fun read on complications of diabetes, check out the Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseasesconditions/diabetes/basics/complications/con-20033091

I was crushed by the news that someone, a very tiny someone, was currently getting in the way of me and my sugar fix. And that it also meant there would be an ongoing obstacle between me and my sugar. No one had ever stopped me from my destiny before – candy bars, lollipops, ring pops, brownie a la mode, rock candy. It was a free-for-all. In fact, everyone encouraged my love for it. If they loved me, they knew that I loved sweet things. When I was younger, my grandma would sometimes wake me up to deliver a variety of candy in the middle of the night, which she obtained from my aunt who returned home with goodies after working the second shift. With a big smile, I would sleepily gobble it all up and go right back to sleep, as though it was a normal nighttime ritual. When I visited my other aunt’s house, she would have cupboard after glorious cupboard fully stocked with cookies, ice cream and chocolate. When speaking with her before my visits, she’d give me a run down of the expansive sweet inventory that she obtained.

Sugar and I, we were always great childhood friends. If I couldn’t get a hold of some form of candy, well, I’d just rip open a packet of sugar, pour it into the palm of my hand, and throw it back. Of course, because it’s one of my few vices anymore, my body recently said I couldn’t have it. When I eat sugar, sometimes even if just a couple of bites, my head starts hurting and my ever finicky digestive system screams out in frustration, letting me know that I’m heading toward fast, furious sugar overload.

Surprisingly, I’m not as disappointed as I thought I would be once I came to find out that sugar has turned its back on me. For a delusionally long time, I’ve known that sugar is terrible, and that I should cut down. But now, my body is quite adamant that things have changed. It rejects even my small indulgences rather quickly. And I’m trying to accept this by rejecting it back. And that’s okay. Because who needs sugar? Nobody (Wait, wait, I do. No I don’t. Yes I do. Ugh. It’s a hard fight).

Just Say “No” and Other Ways to Turn Down Amazing Holiday Foods because it Just Wouldn’t End Well

 

IMG_1731 - Version 2Oh, the sparkly decorations, holiday parties and all that alluring food that gives you the come hither look that no one else can see. During the holidays, it is sometimes difficult to say no to all of the variety available at the table. You’re laughing and talking and maybe drinking a few sips of alcohol throughout the evening. You’re having a great time, the conversations are intriguing, your inhibitions are slowly slipping away.

Even though some of us may know exactly what foods trigger our allergic and inflammatory responses, it’s tempting to overlook the repercussions in the moment, particularly when dining with others. As though it’s not hard enough to fight off the urge to try every little delightful dish on the table, there’s also Good Food That’s Oh, So Bad for Me peer pressure. The act of sharing a meal is a significant custom in many parts of the world. It is a cherished form of communing for many, and some take these rituals very personally.

Every culture has its unspoken guidelines about food. In some cultures for instance, burping is apparently a sign that the food was tasty. It is said to equate to a sign of appreciation. In other cultures, it is a sign of disrespect to refuse food, which might be a more difficult custom to work around when trying diligently to avoid certain foods. Although you don’t want to go around offending people, there are definitely ways to stand your ground without feeling like the pretentious jerk of the party.

The more information people have about the severity of a food allergy (or your reasons for staying away from a particular food), the more buy-in you’ll receive. An explanation of your preferences is often sufficient for people to back off, however, in some families, such as my own, people insist that I MUST try a certain dish. If you start getting the evil eye and you want out, it may be helpful to throw out some solid statistics to solidify your point.

If your loving family finds a cunning reason to induce guilt (sometimes being synonymous with family) by saying something like, “Oh, that’s too bad because your 98-year-old grandma made this just for YOU,” thrown in with a look that could slap, you might have to reach far within the back of the arsenal.  In the past, I’ve taken a piece of food and offered the possibility that I might try a teeny, weeny bite. Maybe. This is usually a huge maybe.

And I get the pressure. This is THE family recipe. Your Mama’s Mama’s Mama made this particular recipe for 70 decades. And it’s not about the Jones family cookies or the Mama Lucy’s peanut bars, it’s about unity, nostalgia and making new memories together. So, as I said, It’s a huge maybe, but I’d rather slide something onto my plate instead of hurting poor Grandma’s feelings.

There is also the option of bringing a dish, which the host will surely appreciate. This way, temptation is down and you have a safe alternative. Bringing a dish is also a visual reminder to others that your food concerns are real. They may even love what you’ve brought.

Have a wonderful, yummy holiday filled with blessings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Me? Gluten-Free?

IMG_4970   I remember my first experience with numbness and tingling in my hands and feet, along with other weird symptoms – a rash around my elbows (yes, just the elbows), stomach pain and breathing problems. After weeks of having symptoms, I began to wonder what was really going on. I saw my doctor, who suggested vitamin supplements and said we’d observe how that went. Kinda sorta saw a minor improvement, which made some sense, but ultimately, I still had frequent symptoms. Check out this article on neurological symptoms and vitamin deficiency to find out more about that:

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So anyway, she then referred me to a neurologist who cleared me of all things terrifying. I was very grateful but I still didn’t have answers. With time, I began to learn the connection between gluten sensitivity and its symptoms. I started experimenting. I went off of gluten. Felt amazing. Then, drowning in the sea of denial and bread withdrawal, I told myself my health improvement had nothing to do with gluten and I’d be fine if I ate it. Terrible idea. So I went back off. And on, and off. I did the tango with gluten a few more times before I regretfully came to terms with it. So eventually and very reluctantly – I decided to give up gluten. Bread versus being symptom-free of weird, scary sensations, I decided giving up bread, and pizza, and ugh, cookies was definitely worth it. Painful, but worth it.

I also later realized that although I had to make some food and financial sacrifices, there are a lot of gluten-free options now available. The Autism & ADHD Diet: A Step-by-Step Guide to Hope and Healing by Living Gluten Free and Casein Free (GFCF) and Other Interventions by Barrie Silberberg is an excellent resource for people looking to switch to gluten-free eating (and casein-free, if you prefer). Despite the title, it is not only for those suffering with autism or ADHD. It’s a great resource for multiple reasons, really, because she also details how gluten and casein affect developmental and overall general health.

Paleo Do’s and Dont’s

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A quick guide to paleo eating:

EAT

  • Grass-fed meats
  • Fish/seafood
  • Fresh fruits
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Healthy oils (olive, walnut, flaxseed, macadamia, avocado, coconut)

DON’T EAT

Find out more in the Ultimate Paleo Diet: http://ultimatepaleoguide.com/paleo-diet-food-list/