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.




Why Organic?

sustains us and the planetIn my last article I touched on how what we put on our skin affects our health. Hard for some people to believe. Today we’ll look at the more accepted premise – we are what we eat. Think about it. We consume “stuff” and it becomes our bodies. Shouldn’t we be aware of what is in that “stuff”? What we put in our mouth is the #1 contributor to our wellness (or lack thereof). The way we eat changes our immune system, our muscles and joints, our brain and moods. With the degradation of the food supply, our wellness is running into major trouble.

So let’s take a look at pesticides. Organophophate pesticide poisons were developed during Hitler’s reign as chemical warfare. And we’re using them on our crops?? There are over 180 identified pesticides used in this country that are endocrine disruptors. That means they mess with our hormones (like insulin) which oversee the functioning of all the necessary activities in the body. The average American consumer is exposed to between 5 and 10 pesticides per day on the Standard American Diet (SAD) . Even with a well functioning liver, those toxins are going to build up. Proponents of the chemical industry say the trace amounts in our food are too small to negatively effect health (100 parts per billion). Did you know that the NuvaRing, the birth control vaginal ring, contains .019 parts per billion and it prevents reproduction?! Albuterol, the asthma inhaler, works at 2.1 parts per billion, quite effectively for those in distress. We’re kidding ourselves if we think the pesticide residues in and on our food are inert.

Why aren’t physicians advising everyone to eat organic? Because they are not being educated about the damaging, even life threatening effects of pesticides on living cells/tissues/bodies. They’re treating diseases AFTER they occur. The information is out there, but it has not been considered a priority in med school. Who is going to advocate for including it in the curriculum?

Consider this. Back in the 80’s when I was raising my family, kids just didn’t have the health problems they’re having today. It was rare to see a child or adolescent with high blood sugar or blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglycerides, or a waist size above 40 inches. Now, 2/3 of high school students have at least one of these markers (Dr. Alan Greene, lecture to organic farmers, 2009). During the last 30 years our food supply has experienced MAJOR compromises (pesticides, GMO’s, high fructose corn syrup, additives, preservatives, colorings, and more). The way we are feeding our children is setting them up for a lifetime (often abbreviated) of illness.

So let’s talk about diabetes for a minute. Studies have confirmed a link between diabetes prevalence (and auto-immune diseases) and pesticides. Adult onset diabetes is now called type II diabetes because so many young people are getting it. A diagnosis of diabetes for a child is likely to reduce their lifespan 10-20 years. The cost of caring for them over their lifetime is estimated somewhere between $300,000 and $3 million – per child! Why then, do we continue sourcing our school lunches from conventionally grown and processed foods? Because it’s cheap, “inexpensive” if you will. We can feed a lot of children for very little money. The long term price tag however, is astronomical. And the pain and sadness are priceless. Imagine what we could do if we spent more for organic food and prevented diabetes in thousands (and thousands) of young people.

OK, so pesticides are dangerous. What about the hormones they use to fatten up livestock, make more milk and get those huge chicken breasts we think are good for us? Well, there is NO evidence anywhere to show the safety of the hormones used on animals. There are studies however, that show increased cancer in people who consume conventionally raised meat. That was why in 1989, Europe banned the import of meat raised in this country.

The great thing is, there are farmers with integrity out there that understand the connection between sustainable farming and sustaining human life. Animals raised on smaller farms are roaming the grass in the sunshine and taking in life sustaining nutrients that are passed on to us when we eat them. Organic vegetable and fruit farmers do not use toxic, cancer causing pesticides, AND they add needed minerals back into the soil so plants and trees can bear produce that builds healthy human bodies. Research shows that organically grown foods contain significantly more nutrients and antioxidants AND those nutrients are more bioavailable to your cells. Anyone who consumes organically raised food on a regular basis also knows it tastes great! I encourage you to find local sources for organically raised food. There are more and more every day as we spread the word of true healthy living.

Until next time…Wishing you real food for real health so you can be REAL HAPPY.
Additional recommended reading:
Mounting Evidence Links Pesticides to Parkinson’s Disease
Serum organochlorine pesticide residues and risk of gallstone disease: A case-control study in Xiamen.
Childhood brain tumors, residential insecticide exposure, and pesticide metabolism genes.
New study confirms atrazine’s effects across a range of species (including us)
Organic Foods Contain More Nutrients!
Study links Honey Bee Deaths to Corn Insecticides




The First Step to Better Health – Bacon Fat*

*from grass fed pigs…and organic evco

This post is dedicated to the incredible activist film maker Chris Bedford who introduced me to the sad and insidious world of food politics. He guided me – and thousands of others – to the possibilities for making our world sustainable. Today’s blog is controversial…Chris always loved controversy.

My family's favorite fat


Fats? Seriously? We’re supposed to avoid them, right? They clog our arteries and make us unhealthy. Especially animal fats. NOT!

Many people ask me what the first step toward better health is – I say switch out your fat. In my studies and travels I’ve met a growing number of very healthy people who understand the dire importance of good fats in the diet. But I’ve found the majority of people who live in my beautiful corner of the world, the Lakeshore of West Michigan, don’t have a clue. So I write this for them. The rest of you, nod your head and say “yup”.

Our bodies need fats. And saturated fats, those dreaded rascals that the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society have been warning us against for decades, are in EVERY cell in your body. Our heart, nerves, hormones and brain need them everyday. Has the advice we’ve been getting all these years shown a dramatic decline in cancer and heart disease? Let’s be honest…No.

Lipids and cholesterol = healthy cell membranes

That’s because our cells are starving. Look at any anatomy book and you’ll find that saturated fats and cholesterol form a key part of the outer edge (membrane) of all the cells that make up YOU.

So we have been encouraged to swap out animal fat with vegetable oils that aren’t healthy at the cellular level. Our poor cell membranes don’t get what they need to stay pliable and do their jobs in relation to the cells around them (cell signalling). After years of consumption of these liquid vegetable oils we end up with problems all over the body – immune system disruption, heart disease, memory issues, cancer and more. Yes, other lifestyle factors contribute to these concerns also, but why increase your risk? Dr. Mary Enig, the world renowned expert on the biochemical structure and effect of fats in the body discusses the issue at length in this interview, if you want to know more (and you REALLY should). No, you won’t see this on television or in the mass media because there’s no money in it. At least not for big business. But the truth is coming out, thanks to organizations like the Price Pottenger Foundation and the Weston A Price Foundation and the Internet (as long as we remain uncensored).

Well done Dr. Enig!! How sad that so many young people’s eyes were damaged because the advice we were given was flat out wrong. How long is it going to take to get this truth into the mainstream?

We must be aware of the QUALITY of the fats we eat. The fats from a grassfed cow are going to be healthy and the fats from a feed-lot cow eating GMO grains grown with pesticides and then filled with antibiotics and hormones are going to be VERY different. The organic extra virgin coconut oil that our cells thrive on and that can be safely heated to high temperatures is miles ahead of the rancid refined vegetable oil on the grocery store shelves that gets further damaged when we cook with it.

We’ve been sick long enough. It’s time for a change. The very first step I recommend is get rid of those truly dangerous fats and start adding in the coconut oil and fats that come from critters raised outside naturally. By the way, grass fed bacon grease is one of THE most tasty ways to add flavor to your casseroles and stir-frys.

We’ll talk about the superfood cod liver oil some other day.

Until next time, wishing you Real Food for Real Health so you can be Real Happy




Rethinking the Food Pyramid…

Did you know that after the USDA released the Food Pyramid in 1992 the rate of obesity skyrocketed? That’s what happens when you encourage people to consume 6-11 servings a day of grain products without mention of product quality. And yes, there was a major link to the grain lobby. At the same time, the tip of the pyramid made the recommendation to use fats sparingly…no regard for the difference between good and bad fats. No mention of the fact that all our hormones are made from cholesterol.

The pyramid evolved and we were encouraged to eat less grains, make them whole, consume more fruits and veggies, but still eat “lowfat” milk and protein sources. We now have a “plate” as a guide – it’s better but does not address the need for high quality fat consumption (so necessary DAILY for cell and brain health) or the processing of grains/nuts/seeds in a manner so our body can better use their nutrients. The issues of pesticide residues, dangers of genetically modified organisms, concern about antibiotics and hormones in our animal products are not mentioned. These issues are real and are negatively effecting our health with every bite.

With so much mis-information out there, are you feeling overwhelmed? Feeling misled? Please don’t despair. The movement to get back to REAL nutrient dense food is growing exponentially. We will get there one step at a time. Pick a place to start this month. How about finding a local market in your area where you can meet the REAL farmer who grows your food. Or pick one vegetable or fruit in your diet and promise yourself you will only buy it if it’s grown organically.

One positive effort by the USDA is the program Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food. This is a step in the right direction to deal with the issues mentioned above. Here in Muskegon County, we are fortunate to have a source for local and organic food called Sweetwater Local Foods Market.

Take that first step.
Just start…

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

Update January 2014 – Denise Minger has now published an amazing book I highly recommend Death By Food Pyramid.