Kombucha Tea

Have you ever heard of Kombucha?

Kombucha is an ancient beverage that was originally consumed in China more than 2,200 years ago for its detoxifying and energizing properties.  It gained popularity again in the 1950’s and again in the past few years.  But, what is it exactly?  Although it’s sometimes referred to as mushroom tea, kombucha is not a mushroom.  Basically, Kombucha is made from either a green or black tea base.  They add sugar which has been fermented with a type of tree fungus called “Scoby” which is an acronym for “Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast”.   They ferment this product for 1-2 weeks which creates a drink that is best described as “a sour apple cider, perhaps with vinegary notes” but manufactures have now found ways to make it taste good by flavoring it with herbs or fruit.  So why would you want this product?  Firstly, anything that is fermented such as kombucha, miso (fermented barley, rice or soybeans), tempeh (fermented soybeans), kimchi (fermented cabbage), kefir (fermented milk), and yogurt are very rich in good bacteria, or probiotics.  Basically, these probiotics grow during the fermentation process.  They take care of your gut, improving digestion and boosting immunity.   Kombucha contains many bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols, which function as powerful antioxidants in the body.  Kombucha, especially when made with green tea, has antioxidant effects in your liver and helps to reduce liver toxicity.  Kombucha has also shown to help reduce blood sugar levels and improve liver and kidney function, especially when made from green tea as green tea itself is beneficial for blood sugars. In short, kombucha has antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic properties.  You can actually make your own kombucha but you need to purchase the active starter culture (scoby).  Luckily, you can purchase kombucha already made in tasty flavors such as lemon ginger, coconut, green tea, all fruit flavors and many more.  Be sure the label says that it’s a living product.  It may say “raw” and it may list the active cultures on the label.  If you’re cutting calories or carbs, be sure it is sweetened with stevia and not sugar.  Also, be sure it is free of artificial ingredients or preservatives.

The Wonders of Olive Leaf

Most people know about the wonders of olive oil but have you ever thought about the olive leaf?  Olive leaf comes from the leaves of an olive plant and contains an active ingredient (oleuropein) that has been shown to be a very powerful antioxidant as well as anti-inflammatory.  The Mediterranean diet has been linked to a decrease in chronic disease, especially heart disease because the belief is that one of the things they eat is olive oil.  However, they not only use olive oil, they also use the fruit and the leaf, and have been using them for centuries.  Olive leaf is anti-microbial.  This means it is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-yeast etc.  Because of this it is used for a wide variety of illnesses from the common cold to serious infections.  In fact, olive leaf is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial without any harmful effects on beneficial microbes, which means that it will not induce the types of side effects associated with antibiotics (especially secondary infections).  Additionally, certain types of bacteria are resistant to many antibiotics but these same bacteria remain vulnerable to olive leaf extract.  Olive leaf increases the activity of phagocytes (where white blood cells consume harmful bacteria) keeping our immune system strong and effective.  Olive leaf is very heart protective and helps specifically with not only reducing existing high blood pressure but also helps to prevent high blood pressure.  It has also shown to be helpful against diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders and even arthritis.

What to Look for in an Olive Leaf Supplement

Not all olive leaf is created equal.  It is important to get one that is 500mg and has a standardized dose of Oleuropein of at least 15% or more.  This is the active ingredient of olive leaf and the reason you’re taking it.  You can also get it in liquid form.  If you are coming down with a cold or are fighting any type of infection, take 2 capsules twice daily until you feel better.  Then for a maintenance dose, take 1-2 per day.  This will help you increase the immune system so you are protected against the microbes coming your way, especially during cold and flu season.

Turkey Tail Mushrooms

I’m not talking about the mushrooms that have a psychedelic effect…these mushrooms don’t get you high.  If you’ve ever hiked in the woods, you’ve probably seen lots of Turkey Tail mushrooms around because they grow abundantly on dead and fallen trees, branches, and stumps.  These mushrooms also grow almost anywhere in the world as long as there are trees, making them one of the most common mushrooms found today.  It’s called Turkey Tail (aka Trametes Versicolor) because this mushroom resembles the colorful feathers of a wild turkey.    Turkey tail mushrooms have been brewed for thousands of years by the Chinese as medicinal teas, in fact as early as the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty in China.  The Japanese have also been aware of the powerful health benefits particularly in boosting the immune system and now it is the center of attention for many health professionals for many years.  But why are we interested in this and other mushrooms?  Paul Stamets, PhD and master mycologist (someone who studies fungi) is well known for his strong belief in the power of mushrooms.  He has written numerous books on mushrooms and has been awarded 9 patents with more to come; specifically, he has discovered 9 antiviral molecules that are in the mycelium of the mushroom as it rots in the wood it has inhabited.   Many of his studies are on how medicinal mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Red Reishi, Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms can prevent and cure cancer.

How do Mushrooms Work?

Turkey Tail mushrooms are powerful immune system boosters due to their content of B-glucans and polysaccharides, as well as proteins, minerals, and vitamins B and D.   It is loaded with enzymes, antimicrobial agents, and antiviral compounds and helps to neutralize toxins in our immune system.  It provides anti-inflammatory properties, restricts blood vessel growth feeding tumors (anti-angiogenesis), causes programmed cell death of cancer cells (apoptosis) and restricts the growth of pathogenic bacteria.  Turkey Tail also improves the ability of the immune system’s natural killer cells to attack cancer cells.  You can get Turkey Tail in capsule form so you do not have to brew your own.  There have been no reports of negative side effects of mushrooms but it is always safe to talk to your doctor first if you are on any medication or are have any health issues.  Personally I take Turkey Tail every day along with another mushroom blend that has 17 different mushrooms in it.  It can’t hurt to be proactive in your health for prevention of disease, rather than wait till you have something that you have to now fight.

Change Is Coming

Hello friends.  I have not been posting as often as I should on my blog which is predominantly on low carb, keto and diet tips however, I am going to change up my posts just a wee bit.  I am going to talk a lot more about health issues and tips (as well as weight loss), but not just diet.   I would love to hear from you if you have any questions about your health or just topics that you are interested in and want more information.  So, look out…changes are good!  Talk soon…

Top 10 Things to Keep in Mind When Grocery Shopping on a Keto and Low Carb Diet

Buying “Fake” food is a big no-no when grocery shopping.  I’m sure you’ve heard that you should stick to the parameter of the store.  It is in the center shelves that carry the pre-packaged foods.  Real food has only one ingredient.  Examples are eggs, fruits, vegetables, meat, butter, cheese and oils.  Heavily processed foods are fake foods, heavily processed.  These are the foods that are typically full of sugar, starch and bad fats and should be avoided at all costs.  To avoid these fake foods, know some of the rules:

  1. Don’t buy foods that say anything like cereal, cake, cookie, bread, cracker or chips, even if it touts they are low carb as they are often full of fake ingredients like starch, artificial sweeteners and unknown additives.
  2. Not all packaged foods are fake but how do you know? Look for products with the fewest ingredients such as coleslaw, eggs, cheese, nut butters etc.  Even though they are packaged, they are healthy and safe.
  3. Be sure to check the NET carb amounts. Remember:  Take total carbs and subtract the fiber (and sugar alcohols if there is any).  If total carbs is 10, and fiber is 7 then the NET carb count is 3.  This is the amount of carbs that have a glycemic response.  Fiber has no glycemic response so you subtract it.  Be careful with the serving size when reading labels.  If you are calculating the NET carbs on a prepackaged item, look for the serving size.  One item which looks like it is one serving can actually be for 2-4 servings so you need to calculate NET carbs PER SERVING.
  4. Buy low carb vegetables, not the starchy ones. The rule of thumb is to stick to vegetables that grow above ground and avoid ones that grow below ground.  Stick to green leafy vegetables, asparagus, avocado and zucchini.  Other good choices are broccoli, cauliflower, green beans and brussels sprouts but these vegetables when eaten in excess can take you out of ketosis so be careful.  Avoid vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, onions and beet root.
  5. Buy less fruit, if any. Fruit is very high in carbs and will take you out of ketosis very quickly so there are really no fruits good for a keto diet.  If you MUST eat fruit stick to raspberries and blackberries.  Lemons and limes in small amounts in your water are fine too.
  6. Buy fewer nuts. Nuts are keto friendly in small amounts but the problem is that it is too easy to overeat them which can take you out of ketosis.
  7. Be careful with yogurt. Most yogurts, even Greek yogurt are high in carbs and will take you out of ketosis.
  8. Avoid anything that contains fructose, corn syrup and sugar…any kind of sugar. Anything that ends with “ose” is sugar such as fructose, glucose, lactose etc.  Avoid sugars such as syrup, malt or cane sugar, honey, dried fruit and fruit juice concentrates.
  9. Avoid grains. Most of the starch in our diets come from grains.  Wheat and corn are the main ones, but any kind of grain (and flours) add loads of carbs in our diet.  Avoid rice and all bread products.
  10. Eat good fats abundantly but avoid bad fats at all costs.  These would include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats (trans fats), margarine, shortening and processed vegetable oils such as corn, canola, cottonseed, safflower and soybean oils.

Have You Heard of the Keto Flu?

The Keto flu is the symptoms of withdrawing from carbs and a natural reaction to entering ketosis.  Your body goes through changes when it switches from burning glucose to burning fat.  These withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, drowsiness, muscle aches, nausea, diarrhea or constipation, brain fog, sugar cravings and irritability.

All of these symptoms are a completely natural reaction to the changes your body is facing.  Keto flu symptoms usually occur within the first day or two of starting a ketogenic diet, and the severity and length of symptoms vary per person. Some people may have no symptoms at all, while others could experience several for up to a week or two.  Either way, the symptoms shouldn’t last more than a couple weeks and should go away once your body is adapted to burning fat for fuel.

Can I Avoid the Keto Flu?

You can avoid the keto flu by doing a few things.

  • Stay hydrated: Carbs usually help your body hold water so when you are not eating carbs, you lose water. Also, since you will be losing a lot of fat, the cells in your body will start replacing that fat with water, which is another reason why drinking a lot of water is extremely important.
  • Replenish electrolytes: An electrolyte (magnesium, potassium & sodium) imbalance can cause flu like symptoms. You can avoid this simply by taking a daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement
  • Eat more fats: MCT oil is the best fat to get more of in your daily diet.  You can pour it over your steamed veggies, make a vinaigrette dressing, add it to your shakes or simply take a shot of it with every meal.  Start off with a smaller amount of MCT oil as too much at once will give you gas and diarrhea
  • Exercise more and meditate
  • Get plenty of rest and sleep

20 Ways to Get More Fat in Your Keto Diet

If you’re on the keto diet (not just low carb), you have to eat a lot of good fats.  Whenever I talk to people about this diet they are concerned with the amount of fat you have to eat, however keep in mind that the fats you’re eating are healthy fats AND because you are starving your body of carbs, the fats you eat will be burned for energy and you will be producing ketones.  I find it a little hard to get enough fats in my diet, so I listed 20 ways to get more fats in your daily diet.  Here they are:

  1. Cook your foods in fats like butter or coconut oil.
  2. Top your meals with oils such as olive oil, coconut oil or MCT oil
  3. Add shredded cheddar cheese or other full fat cheese to your meals
  4. Add butter or coconut oil to your steamed veggies
  5. Eat fatty fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel or herring
  6. Add Béarnaise sauce or Hollandaise sauce to meats or eggs
  7. Snack on a handful of macadamia nuts (or pecans and brazil) Be careful of other nuts which are higher in fat
  8. Snack on olives
  9. Snack on pork rinds
  10. Have an avocado with your meals
  11. If you like chocolate, make your own with cocao powder and coconut oil (my recipe for chocolate is in one of my earlier blogs)
  12. Make fat bombs (recipe in my earlier blog)
  13. Make sugar free desserts with cream cheese. There are many recipes for keto desserts on the internet
  14. Make a veggie dip with full fat sour cream and full fat mayo
  15. Have bacon and eggs for breakfast (without the toast) or a cheese omelette with bacon
  16. Add bacon to your salads and other dishes
  17. Add butter, cream or coconut oil to coffee
  18. Make high fat smoothies with cream or coconut milk and add MCT oil
  19. Use coconut milk as often as possible in your dishes
  20. Have a tablespoon of MCT oil with each meal