Why are we fat?

This post is dedicated to that amazing group from Unity of Muskegon who meet for Let’s Talk Wellness and are making positive changes toward better health every day. I am SO proud of you all!

Last year as I ended our second year of monthly meetings at Unity on wellness, I asked what people wanted to discuss in the 2014. The topic of interest most requested was the title of this article. Yes, we already understand that being as active as possible reduces our fat reserves, so I didn’t focus on exercise. Everyone knows…get up and move! But if we don’t address the misinformation out there, we don’t stand a chance at weight loss and management.

Since I do not teach about short term fixes at the expense of the body’s health, we must address lifestyle changes, dispelling the myths we’ve been told the last 3 decades, to build vital cells, tissues and bodies. The focus must be on sharing the truth about the need for healthy fats and nutrient dense foods and how the low-fat/high whole grain/”sugarfree” additive recommendations have led us to the obesity fiasco we are in now.

Below is my evidence based summary of why we are larger (and much less healthy) than we should be:

• Eating BAD fats (polyunsaturated, liquid vegetable oils, margarine, oils from GMO crops {soy, cottonseed, canola, corn}, fatty meat/poultry from conventionally raised animals {complete with antibiotics, growth hormones, GMO fed, pesticide residue, no to very little sunlight}).

My family's favorite fat

My family’s favorite fat

• Not eating enough good fats (coconut, extra virgin olive oil, grass-fed meat and poultry, wild caught fish, avocado, cod liver oil). Low-fat foods lead to obesity because we substitute with….

• Sugar and empty carb consumption (anything made with a fine powder like flour, like baked goods, candy, chips, pastas). These carbs are digested quickly and stimulate the hormone insulin, which, among other things stores fat in fat cells. High fructose corn syrup. Diet sodas.

• Eating processed and non-organic foods (and using chemicals on our bodies, in our homes and on our yards). These foods often have pesticide residues which keep our body from taking in the minerals we need to make our metabolism work correctly. Our bodies need nutrients to function and be the “right” weight for our structure. These empty foods lead to…

• Overeating – which we do WHEN WE ARE NOT EATING NUTRIENT DENSE FOODS! Our body keeps saying, “where are the nutrients?” and then “eat more and you might find some.” We can also get into the habit of over eating because of emotional issues, but again, it is often, if not always, nutrient deprived foods. We seldom eat too much when the food is REAL and nutrient rich.

• An unhealthy microbiome. Our balance of good micro-organisms in our body plays a significant role in our health and weight.

• When we have an underactive thyroid, we have a very difficult time trying to shed pounds. Be aware that water with chlorine and fluoride is thyroid disruptive. Drinking the cleanest water possible is a must. Also, good quality coconut oil supports the thyroid and is energy boosting.

What to do? The same thing I teach for other physical/emotional issues…

• Eat good fats at every meal
• Eat protein from clean (organic, grass fed, preferably local) sources at every meal – we need protein to make the happy chemicals in our brain
• Eat plenty of colorful, local (for more vitamin content), organic (for more mineral content) vegetables WITH LOTSA BUTTER (or ghee)!
• Take good quality coconut oil – even at every meal.
• Take a high quality probiotic and/or fermented foods and drink.
• Eat organic fruits as desserts (“cave people” ate them in the fall to fatten up for the winter)
• If you feel the need for baked goods, make them out of nut flour (organic preferably).
• Don’t starve yourself. This will mess up your hormones. EAT! Just eat the real foods described above.

Until next time…wishing you real food for real health so you can be real happy.




My hometown is waking up...to the microbiome

This post is dedicated to the new fermenters along the lakeshore of beautiful West Michigan. Great job to the students from my White Lake Area Community Education classes, Nourishing the Lakeshore, Fermenting the Lakeshore held at Unity of Muskegon and health conscious shoppers at Sweetwater Local Organic Foods Market.

cindy feister peer

What is the microbiome? Very simply, it refers to the fact that 99% of the DNA in our bodies is not our own; it belongs to micro-organisms. And if you’re eating nutrient dense foods, little to no sugar and fermented foods everyday, you’ll have “good” microbes that will treat you, their host, to health and wellness. Fast foods, lots of sugar and processed carbs feed pathogenic “bad” microbes and WILL lead to illness as well as extra pounds.

A little history…In the 1990’s, the Human Genome Project, the biggest project ever undertaken in biology, focused on decoding human genetic information (Holt, 2008). There was hope to find the genetic cause and cure for every disease that affects humanity. What was discovered by 2003 was that every animal species shares the majority of genes, but that the expression of the genes can come in a multitude of ways depending on something called the epigenome. The epigenome in influenced by what we are exposed to in our lifestyle. While the genome can be likened to the hardware in a computer, the epigenome is similar to the software, which tells the hardware what to do. But there turned out to be another missing link.

Ultimately, by 2008, the Human Microbiome Project began where we realized that part of the reason a stalk of corn has more genes (32,000) than a human (25-30,000) is the fact that we are hosts to an estimated 100 trillion bacteria. These bacteria work in concert with our genes to run our bodies.

NPR has an animated yet thorough introduction to this new knowledge. It is about 5 minutes long and I strongly encourage you watch it:

This research is in its very early stages. Yet if we look at the research of civilizations that did not live like we do, traditional peoples (like those found by Dr. Weston A Price), we see EVERY one of these healthy groups ate fermented foods. And they ate no processed foods whatsoever. When we learn to ferment and return to traditional eating, we, too, can experience the radiant health that is our birthright.

Today, our microbiomes are compromised all sorts of ways. Besides the losses during infancy addressed in the video above, our balance of good to “pathogenic” bacteria shifts with antibiotic use, toxins in our air, water and food, long term use of prescriptions and birth control pills as well as radiation. Without these beneficial “little critters” as I like to call them, we can’t digest and absorb nutrients to build healthy cells and this leads to nutritional deficiencies.

When we have an abundance of bad bacteria from eating processed food and drinking sodas, the “food” we eat gets broken down into toxic compounds which get absorbed into the bloodstream. From there they go to wherever we have a vulnerable area like our joints (i.e. arthritis), brain (i.e. fog, ADHD), skin (i.e. eczema, rash, acne) and our vital organs like our heart. These same bad little guys can damage the lining of our intestine and cause it to become inflamed and permeable (leaky gut), which leads to food intolerances and allergies. When this happens, we no longer are getting nutrients to build us up but instead get toxins that make us sick. And because 85% of our immune system is in our gut microbiome, if we don’t have good gut flora, our immune system goes haywire. No wonder so many people are unwell and overweight.

When people return to traditional ways, including fermenting, eating organic produce, consuming grass fed and wild animals and cutting out processed “foods”, their microbiomes can heal and do the work necessary to help return to wellness. For many, supplementing with probiotics is a sensible choice while they transition to more traditional ways. If this is something you choose to do, please make sure the product you use has integrity.

Lexi Larabee Photography

Lexi Larabee Photography

Wishing you real food for real health so you can be real happy.




What's with the Coconut Oil #2 - Let's Get Practical

Usually the first comment clients make when I encourage lots of good fats, like coconut oil, is “What about low-fat?” Take a look at my April blog and the Weston A Price Foundation . As time goes by, we are seeing more and more truth hitting the mainstream about the low-fat myth. Gary Taubes was right on the money with his article What if it’s All Been a Big Fat Lie?

Ask yourself, if you still believe the low-fat jargon, what are you going to eat instead? Carbs. Carbohydrates that signal the release of insulin to store body fat. I haven’t met a client yet who wants that. And those carbs are usually processed foods (breads, “health food” bars, pasta) which make our blood sugar go up quickly then crash. Ample amounts of good fats, like coconut oil, at every meal keep the blood sugar level.

Coconut oil at room temperature, which is how it should be stored, is a solid. This shows that it is saturated (and good for you) and stable. Being saturated makes it a good cooking oil as it won’t turn toxic when heated.

What to buy…Make sure you get organic, virgin coconut oil. In their book Eat Fat, Lose Fat Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon highly recommend tropicaltraditions.com as it is made through a traditional process and supports artisan coconut oil producers. Most health food stores as well as Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s stock virgin coconut oil extracted using safe, non-toxic methods.

OK, so you’ve got your coconut oil…now what? Switch it out for any toxic liquid oils you have in your cupboard (vegetable, canola, corn) or margarine in the frig (if you’re not allergic to milk…keep eating butter. It provides a whole other bunch of nutrients.)

If you’re trying to lose weight, you’re in luck. Consuming coconut oil before your meals can help escalate weight loss. When you consume it about 20 minutes before meal time, you won’t feel near as hungry – which will curb your appetite. It’s 100% natural and something your body recognizes (unlike diet pills and powders). Start with a teaspoon in warm water once a day first thing in the morning. Don’t like the taste? Have it in green tea, or herbal tea, or your coffee if you drink that. You’ll get used to it.

After a couple days, double the amount you’re consuming, after a couple more, double it again. Below are Fallon and Enig’s recommendations for daily consumption according to weight:
90-130 # – 1 Tbl per meal up to 3 Tbl day
131-180# – 1.5 Tbls per meal up to 4.5 Tbl a day
and over 180# – 2 Tbls per meal up to 6 Tbl a day

How else can you get this wondrous oil in your body
* Use as a body moisturizer
* Use a small amount for dry scalp and hair
* Use on toast (preferably true sourdough as it is prepared traditionally)
* Super drink – add to warm bone broth with a dash of tasty mineral rich sea salt
* Add a tablespoon or 2 to your casseroles or mashed potatoes
* Mix with your butter or use alone on morning warm cereals
* Have a quart jar in your cupboard with Mary’s (Enig) Blend in it for cooking: 1 cup each coconut oil, olive oil and sesame oil. This is especially delicious for salad dressings

And please be aware, not only is the oil of the coconut incredible for you, but the meat and the milk are good for you, too. Make sure to get high quality organic safely made products.
Then you can try:
* Sprinkling coconut on top of just about anything – salads, casseroles, oatmeal (which is best for the body if soaked).
* Adding coconut milk to smoothies, soups, porridge, and sauces

This should give you ample ideas for integrating coconut products into your life.

Do pay attention to your body’s response. After years, even decades of eating unhealthy fats, it may take your body some time to adjust to the molecules of this healthy fat. Start out small, like with cooking. If you don’t feel well after eating coconut oil, perhaps it’s not for you. I personally have not met anyone yet with such a sensitivity, but I believe it can exist.

As always, wishing you REAL food for REAL health so you can be REAL happy.