The Roots of Health – Episode 8: Laughter Yoga with Shelley Bell

Emily Jean

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In the past few weeks Meredith has presented a strong case for food as medicine. It’s pretty clear. But there’s another medicine that you may be lacking in your life. Laughter.

How often do you laugh these days? You may be among the millions of humans out there with a serious laughter deficiency, and that’s troubling. Laughter is a universal language that provides stress relief: it brings you into the present, focuses your mind on the giggles at hand rather than the stressors that may dominating it, laughter helps you to breathe, to connect with others, and to take this life of yours a little less seriously. We could all use an increased dose.

This week, Meredith chats with Shelley Bell, a Certified Laughter Yoga teacher, about laughter, laughter yoga, laughter clubs… even phone laughter… you really have no excuse, you must laugh. And you’re encouraged to fake it even. Flex that laughter muscle, feel better instantly, and reap the benefits for hours to come.

Shelley Bell is a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health Coach. She leads a Laughter Club in Northridge, CA, and trains people to become Certified Laughter Yoga Leaders in the Dr. Kataria School of Laughter Yoga. Shelley does Laughter Yoga Presentations and workshops for various groups throughout the Los Angeles and surrounding areas, including assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. She is passionate about helping people to build up their laughter muscle and rediscover their inner joy.

Why not see if you can find a Laughter Club in your area? Or join Laughter Club via Skype. No excuses, friend. As they say, laughter is the best medicine.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

The Roots of Health – Episode 7: An Epidemic of Health with Dr. Terry Wahls (Part 2)

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This week we hear Part 2 of Meredith’s interview with Dr. Terry Wahls (if you’ve landed here and haven’t heard Part 1, click here to listen first).

Last week, we heard Dr. Wahls’ personal story – of reversing the symptoms of her Secondary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis using food as medicine. It is clear to her that the food component of her recovery has had the biggest impact on her overall health. This week, we dig a little deeper.

In Part 2, Meredith and Dr. Terry Wahls discuss a bit about detoxification (and what foods are important for ensuring that the Phase 1 & Phase 2 detoxification pathways in your body are in working order), about how to stimulate digestive enzymes – an important first step in accessing the nutrients in your food, the promise of understanding and manipulating the human microbiome as it relates to Multiple Sclerosis patients, and about food sensitivities, elimination diets, and ketogenic diets (where carbohydrates are severely reduced, proteins are moderated, and healthy fats make up the bulk of ones diet). Ketogenic diets are likely part of our ancestral history. As we moved away from the equator, fruits, veggies, grains, and beans (main sources of carbohydrates) would have been largely unavailable during the winter months.

Scientists and physicians require more than just anecdotal evidence (one person’s story – that may not be scientifically reproducible) to move forward with healing protocols for the general population. Dr. Wahls is addressing this concern through clinical trials on MS patients. We chat about some of this exciting work and offer ideas about how you can make a difference by supporting this research, by purchasing her book and becoming a beacon of health, by direct donations to the Wahls Foundation, or by setting up a link to donate to the Wahls Foundation through the Amazon Smiles program.

Dr. Terry Wahls inspires millions of people to re-evaluate their relationship with food. She aims to spread an epidemic of health.

She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine and teaches the public and medical community about the healing power of intensive nutrition.

You can learn more about her work from her website: www.terrywahls.com. She is conducting clinical trials testing the effect of nutrition and lifestyle interventions to treat MS.  She is also committed to teaching the public and medical community about the healing power of the Paleo diet and therapeutic lifestyle changes to restore health and vitality to our citizens.  You can follow her on Facebook, on twitter at @TerryWahls. You can learn more about her research or purchase her book at http://terrywahls.com/resources/research/.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

 

The Roots of Health – Episode 6: Food is Medicine with Dr. Terry Wahls (Part 1)

Click here to go right to the show. Or fire it up in iTunes. Part 2 of this interview is here.

To many, food is simply calories. It’s a necessary part of life that prevents us from being hungry and gives us energy. We define food as whatever happens to be for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Food is just what we eat – with little awareness about how it interacts with our bodies.

My guest today is living proof that food is information for your body. That food provides the building blocks for the chemistry of life.  That food can either be your medicine, or your poison.

(She was also my inspiration… and helped me to see that I was in control of the chemistry of my own life… I spend a good bit of time telling her how important she is to me… )

Dr. Terry Wahls inspires millions of people (watch her Ted Talk) to re-evaluate their relationship with food. She is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa where she teaches internal medicine residents, sees patients in a traumatic brain injury clinic and conducts clinical trials.  She is also a patient with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis, which confined her to a tilt-recline wheelchair for four years.  Dr. Wahls restored her health using diet and lifestyle. She now pedals her bike to work each day.

She is the author of The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine and teaches the public and medical community about the healing power of intensive nutrition.

You can learn more about her work from her website: www.terrywahls.com. She is conducting clinical trials testing the effect of nutrition and lifestyle interventions to treat MS.  She is also committed to teaching the public and medical community about the healing power of the Paleo diet and therapeutic lifestyle changes to restore health and vitality to our citizens.  You can follow her on Facebook, on twitter at @TerryWahls. You can learn more about her research, support her research, or purchase her book at http://terrywahls.com/resources/research/.

This is Part 1 of 2 of my interview with Dr. Wahls. Tune in next week to learn more about exciting clinical research that Dr. Wahls is conducting and what you can do to help her spread an epidemic of health.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

The Roots of Health – Episode 5 – Fermentation with Jill Ciciarelli

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We’ve all heard of probiotics, they are beneficial bacteria that you can consume to help your body to digest, assimilate nutrients, create neurotransmitters, and strengthen your immune system.  They are all the rage in health communities these days, with good reason. But what comes to mind when you think of them? Chances are you think of some sort of probiotic supplement.. or maybe yogurt. You may also think about the cost associated with them.

Well, guess what? There’s a very affordable way to incorporate a wide variety of probiotics into your diet. AND you can create them right in your own home! The process is called fermentation.

Fermentation has a very rich history. It’s a food preservation technique that involves culturing foods & drinks with bacteria & yeast. It can be done in a process known as wild fermentation where your food is literally inoculated with the bacterial strains found in your own home, or with the aid of one of many bacterial starters, like whey for example.

This week, Meredith talks with Jill Ciciarelli about fermentation, about being creative in the kitchen, about reaping the health (and financial!) benefits of experimenting with fermentation in your own home, about just how easy it is to do, and about her book, Fermented: A Four Season Approach to Paleo Probiotic Foods.

Jill is a food lover, kitchen adventurer, board-certified holistic-health coach, and keeper of the blog First Comes Health. With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from The Pennsylvania State University, a bachelor’s degree in Italian language and literature from the University of Pittsburgh, and certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in holistic health, Jill has channeled her various passions into instilling a desire for long-term health in her clients. She has helped them reach their health and wellness goals by advocating an ancestral way of eating and serves her community as the Weston A. Price Foundation chapter co-leader. You can find her fermenting and experimenting in her urban high-rise kitchen and follow along with her on her website, First Comes Health.  Jill lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with her husband, Brian (aka Dude), and Quincy, the sweetest kitty in the world.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

 

The Roots of Health – Episode 4 – Stress & Your Body with Norma Richardson

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Are you prone to illness? Exhausted, headachy, or brain-foggy?  The root cause of your illness just might be stress.

We all face modern stressors, both good and bad, both acute and chronic.  Good stress, also called eustress, is related to getting a job done, or excitement and joy. Good stressors are resolved in some timely fashion.

But bad stress, or distress, is what we really need to be aware of. Our bodies have an innate mechanism for dealing with acute stressors. Stress hormones are signaled to respond to temporary stressors and when the stressor is gone, the stress hormones decrease. This is known as your body’s fight or flight response, and it helps us to survive particularly stressful (physically and mentally) situations.

From an ancestral perspective, our acute stress response has an evolutionary advantage – that of survival. Enter modern stressors. What happens in our lives today when our brains can’t tell the difference between ‘I better run away from that bear’ and ‘I hate my job’ or ‘nobody loves me’ or ‘I wonder if I’m going to get sick’ or ‘I’m not going to have enough money to pay the bills’ or (insert your more chronic stressor here). Our stress response is then on high alert and our stress hormones are constantly pumped through our bodies.  If our bodies are preoccupied with chronic stress, they are not in a position to heal, and our immune systems become compromised.

How do you identify chronic stress in your life and what can you do to decrease stress in order to increase your odds of staying healthy?

This week, Meredith talks with Norma Richardson a.k.a. the Healthy Mood Coach from The Center for Mind Body Wellness.  Norma talks about how to be aware of your body’s stress signals and discusses strategies to relax, ground yourself, and bring your mind back to the present – where true healing can take place.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

 

 

The Roots of Health – Episode 3 – To Gluten or Not To Gluten with Joe Rignola

Despite the fact that there is little solid data out there to support the wholesale demonization of gluten, it remains a hot topic in health and wellness circles.  Why is this? It’s simple… many people find relief from headaches, stomach pain, gastrointestinal issues, brain fog, joint pain… the list goes on and on… by removing ‘gluten’ from their diets. There are countless anecdotes out there (including my own) that suggest that ‘gluten’ is the culprit.

What we know is that gluten IS the culprit when it comes to celiac disease. For humans with that diagnosis, gluten will forever be off the table. But the clinical diagnosis of gluten sensitivity or intolerance remains challenging because there are very few accurate tests (Cyrex Labs is the leader in this field) and there are very few qualified practitioners who would order those tests.

For those who are self-diagnosed ‘gluten sensitive’, is gluten really to blame? Or is it guilt by association? When gluten is removed from our diets, we are really removing the gluten-containing grains wheat, rye, barley, +/- oats. Could it be that we’re sensitive to the whole grain? Or, according to a new study, maybe it’s not gluten but an entire group of short-chain carbohydrate foods known as FODMAPs (which stands for fermentable oligo- di- mono-saccharides and polyols) that wreaks havoc in the guts of many humans. No matter what the exact cause of our health concerns, a naturally gluten-free diet (read: increase naturally gluten-free foods such as whole fruits & veggies and eliminate processed carbs & gluten-containing grains) tends to be a fine recipe for health gain.  As of yet, no one has ever been diagnosed with a gluten deficiency.

This week, we find out more about gluten and better understand how it may or may not factor into your own life with our guest Joe Rignola.  Joe is the founder of Wellness Punks and author of the best-selling books, The Definitive Way to go Gluten Free and Sow, Planting the Seeds for Health, Well-Being and a Superhero Life. He’s also a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner and Certified Health Counselor.

Additional resources:

Here’s a nice graphic showing high and low FODMAP foods.

In the show, I mention the Gluten Summit.

 

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

 

The Roots of Health – Episode 2 – Awareness, Control, Intuition, Balance, & Body Love with Emily Jean

‘Health’ is this ideal that many of us seek, but often we are actually harming ourselves in the pursuit of it.  The messages that we receive in modern life, messages about beauty, weight, exercise, diets, about how we’re currently not good enough, are messages that we understand to be true and they have a huge control over our thoughts and actions… That is, if we let them. It’s time to break free of restriction, gain some awareness, identify your controls, cultivate intuition, find balance in life, and learn to trust and love our bodies.

This is the message of our guest this week.  Meredith introduces Emily Jean, a coach, speaker, and writer who works with ‘bold babes’ who are ready find balance with food and end the restriction mentality in all parts of their lives.

Become aware of the controls that you have in your life, learn to stop letting food judge you (because, you’ve probably given it that power), and own your beauty. Emily Jean wants to help you realize that every body is beautiful.

Let’s question conventional health wisdom and investigate ancestral health as a means of informing your path forward. By cultivating a new perspective, rediscovering your primal-self, and thinking outside the box, you can wake up healthier every day.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

The Roots of Health – Episode 1 – Primal Bliss

Today is the day that I begin to bare it all… and you’ll see more and more of me each week (well, it sort of feels that way).

The very first episode of The Roots of Health is live today!

This show provides a glimpse into my own story – a story that informs my approach to human health & wellness – and a story that will inform this show going forward.

In light of that – I wanted to induce everyone to a practitioner with an alternative approach to health. I interview Kathryn Kos of Primal Bliss Nutrition… Kathryn is a mama, a primal foodie, nutrition blogger, and Nutritional Therapist. She specializes in helping people to restore hormonal balance in their bodies and to manage autoimmune conditions. Nutritional Therapy is unique in that the focus is on finding the root cause of health issues and treating it through nutritional protocols. She helps people heal at the foundational level through fixing digestion, balancing blood sugar, and helping people to better absorb vitamins and minerals

In this episode, you’ll learn about functional evaluations, lingual-neuro testing, your body’s innate intelligence, and Kathryn’s top 3 most important things that you can do for your health today.

I’m thinking about bringing Kathryn back before too long to chat about raising healthy kids today… a topic near and dear to both of our hearts.

The Roots of Health explores the disconnect between our health and our modern environment. I’ve got a bunch of topics outlined for upcoming shows… (if you’re one of the 300+ humans who have spent the past year getting a weekly kick-in-the-ass from me… then you’ll be familiar with many of said topics.)

If not – then you should get on that list – because your mental and physical and emotional health are worth it.

Let’s question conventional health wisdom and investigate ancestral health as a means of informing your path forward. By cultivating a new perspective, rediscovering your primal-self, and thinking outside the box, you can wake up healthier every day.

You can subscribe to The Roots of Health at WebTalkRadio.net and also on iTunes.

Formula for Change

There is a formula for change. Did you know that?

A lot of us are in contemplation mode – we’re realizing that something in our lives needs to change in order to reduce stress or to make ourselves happier or to otherwise gain health… We can admit that change is necessary, but that’s all we’re willing to do. I find a lot of people in this position.

Or maybe we’re determined (in our heads) to make a change… but we’re sort of stuck there. We might be actively learning, researching, observing, or dreaming up various approaches that can shift our lives on a new path toward our goal… we’re super good planners, but not super good do-ers.

The next step – or actually making change happen – seems to be insurmountable. We don’t know how to get ourselves to actually execute this change. We know what we need to do, but can’t seem to do it.

Realize this. Resistance to change (and that’s what it is) happens because change is different and uncomfortable in some way. The reason we aren’t doing what we know we should is because it’s outside of our comfort zone… it’s super easy to keep on doing what we’ve always done… we’re on autopilot really, and it’s not so easy to turn off the autopilot and head in our own direction. Maybe we’re afraid that we’ll do something wrong, maybe we’re perfectionists and require years of researching ‘the right’ way to do things, maybe we lack perspective or awareness. Maybe we’ve lost our instinct, and rely too much on information, waiting for other people to tell us what to do. <<< Been there.

FACT: We won’t get different results if we keep doing the same things. This is just true.

Here’s a new perspective… I learned this when I hired ActionCOACH Business Coaching a few years back to help me grow a consulting business. Change is scary whether or not you’re talking about making personal change, or making changes to your business in order to grow profits, but the equation remains the same.  Here it is:

(D x V) + F > R

What does this mean?  Let me ‘splain.

R = your resistance to change. This might look like fear, uncertainty, anxiety… or comfort.  If you are interested in making a change – you’ll need to make the left side of this equation greater than the right side – so your resistance is trumped.  Let’s figure out how to make that happen.

D = your dissatisfaction. If you’re contemplating or planning change already – you’ve got your reasons. Maybe you’re unhappy taking prescription medication, maybe you’re unhappy with how much body fat you have, maybe you’re unhappy with some key relationships in your life, or you’re unhappy with your food choices. Maybe you keep beating yourself up every day that goes by that you don’t move. Maybe you’re living with chronic pain, maybe you can’t remember the last time your laughed. Maybe you have no idea what you want to be when you grow up. Quantify in some way your dissatisfaction… (I can help you to quantify this visually if you sign up for my 52-Week Kick-in-the-Ass).

The take home message is this… all else being equal, you’ll only make change if your dissatisfaction is greater than your resistance to change. Often times that takes pretty serious health issues or ‘wake-up’ calls to overcome resistance. Fortunately, dissatisfaction isn’t the only variable that we can quantify.  Let’s see if we can avoid scary ‘wake-up’ calls.

V = a vision. This involves your imagination and your feelings. Start with what you are dissatisfied with, and imagine what your life would be like if you eliminated that stressor. Imagine how you would feel. Creating a vision is powerful – it can help us to overcome resistance when the dissatisfaction is relatively low (read: before any medical, social, mental, physical, financial emergencies).

It’s very important not to discount your feelings in this vision, and maybe even to allow your feelings to dominate your vision. Why is this? Simple. Sometimes our mental images can be unrealistic, unattainable, or even someone else. It’s very easy in this modern world to daydream about other peoples body’s, and to imagine what we would look like with their body. A huge-giant-most-important-learning here is that we are all different inside and out. A huge-giant-most-important-outcome of your health gain is to see your own body for it’s beauty, warts and all, and to put a shit-ton of effort into loving it. <<< We need to compare ourselves today – to ourselves yesterday to measure results, not to compare ourselves to anyone else. You win if you love yourself more and more each day. Negative self-talk does not help this side of the equation. Let this be a challenge to you.

Dissatisfaction and Vision will be your ‘why’ you want to change. Let’s move on….

F = your first steps. Here we go – this is what we need to figure out how to do. How do we take our first steps toward doing what we know we need to do?

So, maybe you’ve got your dissatisfaction and vision all figured out, but you’re still resistant to change. This really means that you don’t perceive the stakes to be high enough for you to change. But there’s this other variable in there… these so-called first steps. How can the first steps set you up for success or failure?  Many people will fail to take the first steps because they are scared or overwhelmed by the idea. Many people don’t really know what those first steps are… and a lot of the time, people set themselves up to fail because they design a first step that’s just too damn big to take.

First steps should be easy peasy. Seriously, if you are looking to make change, and you’re currently staring down the barrel of big huge overwhelming change… you’re unlikely to do it. It’s way too different from what you’re already doing.

Let’s pretend for example that you routinely have headaches, but they aren’t completely crippling, just annoying (or maybe you haven’t decided that they are crippling yet). You’re dissatisfied with that. Sometimes these headaches (or stomach aches, or joint pain – insert your pain here) stop you from hanging out with friends or playing a game of frisbee or reading a book to your child… You’ve got a vision in your head, that it would be great to feel energetic, to be pain-free, and to be ready to spontaneously participate in any activity. You’ve done some research and you’re aware that food intolerances or nutrient deficiencies or inflammatory foods might be the cause of your headache. But you love the foods you currently eat… they are delicious, satisfying, easy, comfortable, and you’d rather live with the headaches than give up X (insert your favorite food here)… especially if it means that you have to give up most of what you’re currently eating. (See any dietary approach that is restrictive – this is a big big big turn off to most folks, and the reason that they either don’t attempt to change, or cultivate food guilt because suddenly they can ‘cheat’ and feel bad about their choices… ugh.)

This presents a quandary, right? I mean the pain of your headache times the vision that you have for a healthier you isn’t great enough to overcome your resistance to change. Honestly, this is me, with dairy. I know that dairy makes me clear my throat over and over again – I call it ‘the gerf’…. but it’s not annoying enough for me to give up dairy.

But, what if the first steps were small… or exciting even? Would you be willing to make change then? What if your first step was changing one of your go-to foods with another for a while, to see what happens? Maybe replace it with a food that you’ve never had before… maybe that food will taste even better, who knows… Maybe this means exploring different desserts, maybe this means trying something new for breakfast, maybe this means swapping out a cup of coffee for a cup of tea… Maybe if you consider this first step more of an exploration rather than a permanent change – maybe you’ll be more game to move ahead.

Some people can make giant leaps that lead to sustainable change. They are excited by the idea of change, even without facing any dissatisfaction. Some people can craft a strong vision that helps to propel them into change. Some people are so unsatisfied with something that they’ve reached a tipping point and have put their minds to it – their dissatisfaction is now greater than their resistance to change.

Where are you on this spectrum? Have you figured out what is keeping you from making the changes that you need to make?

I’d argue that most people haven’t broken their resistance to change down in any sort of way because it’s not something we tend to be aware of. So consider yourself aware now.

How will you use this information?

Continue reading

Food is medicine: Not all the same prescription.

This is part 3 of a 3 part series where I connect some dots about our collective health. In part 1, I run down a few things about our microbiome – like some current applications and research that make me think our non-human cells have serious control over our health. In part 2, I chat about all of the innocent victims. Part 3 relates our food choices to our gut health and mental health. Read part 1 here. Read part 2 here.

food

Observation #3: Food is Nourishment and sometimes Food is Medicine – not necessarily the same prescription for everyone.

There are so many dietary camps out there, with strong voices in each attempting to convince the masses that their way is THE way.

These days, if you’re eager to label your dietary approach, you can choose to be:

  • Vegan – eat no animal foods
  • Vegetarian – sort of Vegan + some combo of eggs and dairy
  • Flexitarian – mostly Vegetarian with self-permission to eat meat/fish once in a while
  • Macrobiotic – Grain-heavy approach with emphasis on quality local foods, intuition, and balance
  • Paleo – grain-free, legume-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free, seed oil-free – hunter/gatherer type approach
  • Primal – Paleo + full fat dairy
  • WAP (Weston A Price) – sort of Primal + traditionally prepared grains
  • Low-carb – high fat, med-low protein, maybe 50 – 100 grams of carbs per day
  • Very low-carb/ketogenic – maybe 20-50 grams of carbs per day
  • and oh-so-many-more

There are hundreds of dietary approaches out there. The people who are proponents of any specific approach like to classify the typical western diet as the ‘SAD’ approach (standard American diet). So even if you opt out of sticking your approach in a box – someone has done it for you. Awesome.

But I digress.

First of all, there ARE health benefits to having a dietary approach – no matter what it is. For example – if you really BELIEVE that the foods you choose are health promoting – if you have awareness and any reasoning as to ‘why’ you’re eating what you are – chances are you’re health conscious and indeed – you’ll reap some benefits. <<< This is fascinating. And also probably a super important piece to the health puzzle. I mean, on the contrary, if you just know that you’re ruining your health by the food decisions that you make, well, you probably are. Food guilt is a huge stressor.

You’ll hear people claim that sugar is killing us or that fat is killing us or that animal food is killing us or that all carbs are killing us… (seriously – you can’t win – it’s really the stress of worrying about this I think)…

But also – let’s not only look at what we’re eating, but who exactly we’re feeding (re: We are not alone).

There’s some great research on this right now – but it’s all in it’s infancy as far as I can tell. We’re still defining exactly who is in our microbiome, what is a healthy balance, who are the ‘bad guys’, how we can alter it etc… but watch this space, because I firmly believe this is the future of medicine.

What is it that our microbiome needs to thrive?

IF the root cause of autoimmunity and metabolic disease is related to an imbalance of your gut community, then we’ve got to figure out how to re-balance it. Right now – we’re hearing about the importance of a high fiber / high resistant starch diet for feeding a thriving gut community. There’s research that increasing resistant starch in your diet improves blood sugar regulation and insulin sensitivity. Maybe this is due to the increase in abundance and byproducts of certain gut bacteria.

Your gut flora munches on fiber from whole foods to create a short chain fatty acid called butyrate – which does you HUGE anti-inflammatory favors. (FYI – you can also get butyrate from… butter. Eat your butter.) That’s right – your gut bugs turn plants into fat – and that fat reduces inflammation. This is how herbivores – like cows – can get the nutrients that they need just by eating grass. This is probably how a human who chooses not to eat animal foods can thrive – they have the right microbiome to create the nutrients that they require. (That and there’s probably a serious contribution from insect protein in their diets – but again – that’s a story for another day. <<<< speculation.)

Anyhow – so far we think healthy, beneficial gut bacteria thrive on carbohydrates/fermentable fibers/resistant starches.

Do they eat fat or protein? I think so – but there’s a lot we still don’t know. A diet rich in fat and protein supports a very different gut flora than a diet rich in fermentable fiber… but is one diet any better or worse for our health?  That is the question that the Human Food Project aims to answer.

So do you simply go ahead and introduce more fermentable fibers into your diet to re-balance your microbiome if you are sick? Maybe, maybe not.

This is where a low-carb approach might actually be therapeutic.  Or a ketogenic approach – in an extreme case. These low and very low carb diets may be useful in starving / rebooting an unhealthy gut microbiome. I say therapeutic for a reason – for many people, this means it’s a great temporary approach.

[Aside: It also turns out – that if you live in northern climates – and you strictly eat seasonal foods – you’ll likely be eating more carbs in the summer months and fewer (if any) carbs in the winter months. So too will your microbiome change seasonally.]

Part of a microbiome reboot/rebuild could then include fermented foods to introduce a variety of bacteria to your body for your physical and mental health. This is a tenant of the Weston A. Price / Primal / Paleo / traditional foods approaches. This along with playing in the dirt, removing unnatural personal care products, responsible use of antibiotics, eating more foods from the Earth, avoiding toxins… sleeping, destressing, finding a passion in life so you don’t obsess about food… Clearly – there’s a lifestyle shift involved with rebooting your microbiome.

Anyway – from a lower carb approach – a re-seeding with a healthy balance of gut bugs – one might work to increase their whole food carbs, starches, fruits, veggies to feed their new symbionts such that they thrive.  I understand that women in particular may require more carbs for hormonal balance.

However, many people – thrive on low carb diets and are as healthy as can be (see: Inuit and Masai… and Jimmy Moore). Their gut microbiome must be successfully adapted to their natural diet.

But introduce westernized foods, and all bets are off.

I suspect that the key is natural food here. Maybe seasonal and local food to – because maybe there’s a change in the available microbiome depending on your geographic location on Earth. If you’ve ever traveled – you may have noticed that your digestive system can be off even if you eat the same foods <<< local bugs may be your culprit.

Of course, I love to believe that our guts hold the answers (see dogma: Part 1). I’m open to other ideas as they develop, but for now, I’m watching this research with serious interest. I’m keeping my kids just barely clean, I’m letting them walk around outside without shoes, I’m encouraging them to eat from the garden, and I’m trying let their own food instincts rule (within the limitations of what I bring home from the market to be honest), I’m doing a lot of kitchen science – fermenting sodas, kombucha, sauerkraut, even chicken feed… bottom line, I’m trying to cultivate some family microbiome here.

It seems to me that while we can’t put a finger on just one thing that’s causing our ill health today, an unbalanced microbiome keeps popping up as a potential culprit, that once addressed, seems to help.

I hope you’ve clicked through a few of these links… or maybe you’ll bookmark this series and come back to play sometime. If you’re still with me – please let me know in the comments… because you really rock for sticking this out.