7.31.2017

(Real) Soda is Good for You


It's not widely disputed that soft drinks are bad for you. Our obsession with soda consumption in the recent century has been attributed to cavities, diabetes, obesity, and of course, pollution. It's just an all-around bad food. (I actually wouldn't even call it "food", myself) Soda is loaded with genetically modified corn syrup and a barrage of harmful ingredients. (and not to mention the 10 teaspoons of sugar per serving) And the "diet" versions are probably even worse. Soda is addictive, and just like alcohol and tobacco, cutting it leads to overall better health.
But there are better alternatives out there. And not only are they better, but they're actually beneficial
I'm talking 'bout fermented drinks. And no, I'm not talking about wine. 
Fizzy and bubbly and good for the gut, traditionally carbonated drinks have been around for awhile. Before they were loaded with artificial flavors and refined sugar, drinks like root beer and ginger ale were used for medicinal purposes. (think old school pharmacies sitting right next to a soda fountain) These drinks were meant to be beneficial to the body, but modern soft drink companies have capitalized on the inherent human craving for fizzy beverages. 
From this article on traditional "sodas":
We offer the theory that the craving for both alcohol and soft drinks stems from an ancient collective memory of the kind of lacto-fermented beverages still found in traditional societies.
So there's a good reason why guzzling down a can of coke is so satisfying! There's some instinctive craving for bubbly beverages that our bodies enjoy. But instead tricking our bodies by feeding them artificial fermented drinks, why not give them the real thing? These lacto-fermented drinks colonize your gut with beneficial bacteria, aiding in digestion and a handful of other things, while still giving you that fizz you're craving.

Kombucha (the Regina George of fermented drinks)
Maybe you've heard of the most popular of fermented drinks, kombucha. Or as some (hippies) like to call it: 'booch. 
Kombucha is made from tea, sugar, and a strain of bacteria called a SCOBY. (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast) When fermented, the bacteria feeds off the sugar in the tea, and leaves behind a sour-flavored probiotic tea that can then be flavored or drank plain. Depending on how long it's brewed for (anywhere from 7-30 days), the finished product can be fairly sweet, or have a slight vinegar flavor. (I personally prefer it more sour, but my mom gives me the stink eye if I offer her any that hasn't been sweetened with fruit)
Kombucha is definitely the most mainstream of fermented drinks. Its popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. But it's not just the health nuts who are on board; you can buy it bottled at most standard grocery stores now. Since this is fairly strong stuff, some people have to work their way up to drinking more than just a sip. But I love it. Whenever my stomach's feeling a little sickly, I drink a bit of kombucha and it settles my stomach. And since this stuff is rich in antioxidants, minerals, and good bacteria, it's well worth it.
(also, the history of kombucha is pretty interesting to read about if you're inclined to that sort-of thing)

Water Kefir (the lesser known but really cool indie band of fermented drinks)
Water kefir: it's not quite as well known as kombucha, but much tastier in my opinion. Water kefir is a different strain of bacteria than kombucha that is ridiculously easy to make. It has a much shorter fermenting process than kombucha (24-48 hours) and it has a very mild, sweet taste to it.
I'm actually curious as to why I haven't seen this stuff increasing in popularity, since I haven't met anyone who's disliked its subtle flavor. (when I give people kombucha to try, I'm usually met with a sour face, but water kefir is a different story) I imagine it'll be the next popular fermented drink to take on the market. 
But because of it's light flavor, it make a great canvas for flavoring. I love to simply squeeze a lemon into some fresh kefir, and ta-da! Probiotic lemonade. But there's no limit to how you can flavor it; with fresh fruit, fruit juices, homemade syrups, herbs, etc!
Water kefir also provides a fantastic vehicle for replacing traditional soda flavors. There's no need to give up root beercream soda, ginger ale, or orange soda! These can all be made with water kefir. And just like kombucha, the enzymes and beneficial bacteria you're receiving through it is somehow makes it taste even better.

Brewing at home 
These drinks are fantastic alternatives to soda, but if we're being honest, they can be pretty pricey. $4 for a 16 oz bottle of kombucha isn't exactly cheap. So, obviously, the most economic way to enjoy the benefits of these beverages is to make them at home. 
Okay, I know, that sounds scary. The idea of sustaining bacteria cultures that you're going to drink in your kitchen can be intimidating, but it's much easier than it sounds. Fermenting can be scary, but with proper sanitation and mostly common sense, you can do it. (you're probably more likely to get sick from store-bought spinach anyways, okay?)
Humans have been in the fermenting business for a long while. Making and storing our own food was a necessity, and fermenting was one of the ways we did that before refrigeration came along. So put this into perspective. I mean, every time you cook chicken for dinner, you're risking salmonella. 

I've only been brewing kombucha and kefir at home for about 5 months, so I'm still experimenting with flavors and techniques. (I accidentally left some second-ferment water kefir out for too long and when I carelessly popped the lid to the swing-top bottle, it came bubbling out like a bottle of champagne, except I wasn't celebrating anything and I had to clean up orange-flavored kefir off the floor)
But my overall experience has been awesome. There's something oddly therapeutic and satisfying about having to care for these cultures of bacteria. They're living, growing organisms that must be fed and nurtured and cared for, just like anything else. Even just last week, I grew a really pristine SCOBY, and for a second I felt like a proud mama and let me tell you, it was weird. But a good kind of weird. They're like odd little pets. But instead of having accidents on the floor, they give me yummy, probiotic drinks in return for feeding them regularly.  
Okay, but really. There is something sorta magical about aiding and experiencing the process of fermentation firsthand. 

So how do I start?
To start making these drinks, you need first need the cultures. If you're lucky, you might know of someone who's currently brewing kombucha. If so, they've likely got plenty of SCOBY's to go around (every batch of kombucha grows a new SCOBY). Or maybe they have water kefir grains to share. (a dear family friend of mine set me up with my starter SCOBY and kefir grains)
But if you don't have any hippie friends on hand, you might find dehydrated SCOBY's or water kefir grains at your local health food store. 
Or, the simplest solution, you can you can purchase SCOBY's and kefir grains from these two trusted sites: 
Beyond that, you really just need water, tea, sugar, and a glass jar!. 
Once you have the ingredients, making it is pretty simple. Though it's a very easy process, I still don't feel experienced enough to give a full tutorial on how to make them, so here's some easy-to-follow tutorials! How to make water kefir and How to make kombucha

So now now next time you see a bottle of GT kombucha at Whole Food's, you might be inclined give it a try. Let me know if ya do!

*kombucha bottle clinking sound*
Mel

(photo by Brooke Lark)

7.27.2017

The Truth About Saturated Fat

(photo by Andrew Ridley)

Ah, saturated fat, my dear old friend. He's been abused and demonized. Blamed for everything from lung cancer to heart disease. But does it really deserve all this flack?

First off, what is saturated fat? Let's define it. From Mark Sisson:
Saturated fatty acids (SFAs) are referred to as saturated because all available carbon bonds are tied up with a hydrogen atom. That is, there are no openings for rancidity or spoilage, whereas a polyunsaturated fatty acid containing two or more pairs of double bonds without hydrogen atoms occupying the open space is wide open for oxidation. SFAs are shelf-stable, resistant to heat damage, and essential to many bodily functions.
Saturated fat is the types that becomes solid at room temperature. (think butter and coconut oil)
And we all know that stuff clogs your arteries, riiight? Actually, it may be quite the opposite.

But where did this all start?
In the 1978, a physiologist by the name of Ancel Keys published the Seven Countries Study. This study tracked the diet, dietary cholesterol, and fat consumption of twenty-two countries, and how that affected the nations' health, especially regarding heart disease in particular.
And this is the study that's often used to show the direct correlation between CHD (coronary heart disease) rates and saturated fat consumption, eventually becoming the basis of the lipid hypothesis.
Unfortunately, the original results weren't really quite that groundbreaking. Before publishing his work, Keys cherry-picked the 7 countries that aligned with his theory well, and plotted a graph with those, omitting the majority of the results.


(Keys' published graph versus the completed graph with all 22 nations.)

Ahh, unbiased science! (and this man once graced the cover of Time Magazine, just sayin')
Still, as you can see above, there is a vague, but noticeable, correlation between CHD rates and fat intake, but we all know that correlation doesn't equal causation, right?
But although Keys received criticism from the first release of his study, the medical community has still widely adopted this view. And our culture has been low-fat crazy ever since.
(this short video from the documentary Fathead explains it a bit humorously)

But when you really get down to it, there's practically no evidence to suggest higher fat consumption correlates with increased mortality risk, or any specific diseases. Nonetheless, major health organizations are still spewing this unscientific garbage. Does no one find it ironic that obesity rates have risen, despite our culture becoming obsessed with low-fat diets?
Perhaps you know about the AHA's (American Heart Association) recent recommendation concerning coconut oil that supposedly had the whole health world shaken. They suggested we need to chill out with the coconut oil because of its high levels of saturated fat, and you'd think the sky was falling.
Now, there's a million and one reasons why I put more stock into what my 2 year old cousin has to say about health than the AHA; but the bottom line is we need to find out these things for ourselves. Conventional health has influenced our health for far too long. They had their chance, and all we have to show for it is a very sick country. Let's do a little research for ourselves.

The French Paradox
If you're not familiar with it, the so-called "French Paradox" is a great mystery that conventional medicine just can't seem to explain away. Despite being one of the countries that consumes the most saturated fat, France has one of the lowest rates of heart disease
Kinda funny that they call this a paradox, but really, labeling it a paradox allows them to just shrug it off, like it's some sort of health voodoo, just a fluke.
Of course, there's a number of reasons why the French are a healthier nation; the French eat an overall much cleaner diet than Americans, i.e. fresh produce, local dairy products, moderate amounts of red wine. They don't don't consume a lot of sugar or processed foods. Still, if saturated fat was really the monster we've made it out to be, wouldn't their large consumption of it be showing its face in the form of heart disease? 
The Maasai people thrive off a diet containing large amounts of saturated animal fats. And the inhabitants of the Tokelau and Pukapuka islands show little sign of vascular disease, even while intaking a great deal of their calories through coconuts. (lotsa saturated fat)
Our ancestors have consumed saturated and animal fats for thousands of years. But I'm just sitting here wondering what the health of these cultures would look like if they followed the American Heart Association's guidelines... *insert condescending thinking emoji here*

Fat doesn't make you fat.
Probably one of the more popular reason why a lot of us (mainly, women) avoid fat is we're just afraid of weight gain. But to quote one of my favorite phrases: "Don't blame the butter for what the bread did." Fat intake doesn't directly correlate with body fat.
A high carbohydrate diet is a more likely culprit when it comes to a body fat. In fact, high-fat low-carb diets seem to have a positive effect on weight loss. Why? Carbohydrates break down into glucose, which is the body's default fuel source. Meaning, your body is gonna use that bagel you just ate for energy before it even thinks about using the fat from the cream cheese. (or any stored body fat, for that matter) So when our bodies are in a constant high-carb state, there's no opportunity to tap into stored body fat. There's no chance to ever utilize it.
Of course, one can over-consume fat calories that can lead to weight gain. But that much can be said about any food source. But fat also keeps you satiated. Aka, it makes you feel full, so you're likely eating less and waiting longer in-between meals. I can eat an egg and half an avocado for breakfast and go hours without feeling hungry. But eat a blueberry muffin, and we're already hungry again an hour later, right?
Also, have you tried overeating fat? It's kinda hard. Imagine trying to down a dozen eggs without getting sick. But carbs? Yeah, a whole box of donuts later and 5 minutes later you're not sure where it went.

Saturated fat is your friend.
So not only is saturated is not satan himself, it's actually really, really good for us. Saturated fat:
  • Provides adequate satiation. 
  • Slows down the absorption of glucose in the body, preventing sugar crashes.
  • Contains vital fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 
  • Give us Vitamin A. Animal fats are the only way to truly get it.
  • Tastes good. Let's be honest, things just taste better with a little fat!
We need fat. It tastes good. It's good for us. And our grandparents, great-grandparents, and so on, probably ate their fair share of it. So don't be afraid of it. Butter is your friend.
And to finish off this post, here's some of the best sources of saturated fat:
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Whole milk. Preferably raw, but low-temp pasteurized and non-homogenized is the next best thing!
  • Unrefined coconut oil 
  • Grass-fed, pastured beef and pork
  • Yolks from pastured eggs
  • Other full-fat dairy like cheese and cream
So for goodness sake, please have some bacon and eggs for breakfast instead of that "heart healthy" cereal that's gone soggy sitting in skim milk.

Red meat ftw.
Mel

(photo by Toa Heftiba)

7.24.2017

Does the Sun Actually Cause Skin Cancer?

(photo by Chris Child)

My friends, why are we so afraid of the sun? We've become a white-coated generation, bottles of Coppertone in our beach bags and large sun hats gracing our heads. And we look kinda ridiculous, don't we?
But really, isn't it odd how terrified we've become of the most life-sustaining thing in our universe? The sun is actually amazing. So why have we vilified it? Skin cancer. Right? That's what the sun does to us if we lay in that grassy field for too long.
First of all, skin cancer is a irregular growth of the skin cells. Once this happens, they can then mutate and lead to tumors in the body. And the leading cause of these mutations is exposure to the sun... right?
If that were the case, you'd think we'd see a fall in skin cancer cases in recent years. But despite our decrease in sun exposure and increase in sunscreen use, skin cancer numbers are actually rising.
Still, we're still constantly told to just put on more sunscreen. Use a higher SPF. Reapply every hour. Maybe that'll work.
But what we're doing is clearly not working. So I think it's time we reevaluate what we think we know about sun exposure, and maybe realize the sun isn't the antagonist of our health.

Burning is dangerous.
Let's get that straight. Extensive and damaging UV exposure does lead to an increased risk of mutation in the cells. But proper sun exposure prevents skin cancer in the first place. So it's the avoidance of burning that we need to focus on. Sun exposure doesn't equal skin cancer. It's not a simple cause and effect. The correlation between sun exposure and skin cancer is more complicated than we've been led to believe.

UVA and UVB.
You're probably familiar with the two types of UV rays that affect us, UVB and UVA. Here's an easy to understand explanation from NPT, Liz Wolfe:
Keep in mind that the rays we're most concerned with (UVA rays and UVB rays) do very different things to the body. UVB rays stimulate vitamin D production and cause burns. And UVA rays cause deep damage to the skin. Now even the fanciest broad spectrum sunscreens really only block UVB. They cannot completely block the UVA rays of the sun, which are the dangerous, cancer causing, DNA-damaging ones. Think about it: We slather on sunscreen, block the rays that burn us so we can't yield our body's natural burn signal, and we stay out for hours on end soaking up dangerous UVA rays.
Here's the thing: our bodies are incredibly smart. We have a built-in system that let's us know when we've had enough sun. (aka when the sunlight starts to feel hot and intense instead of nice and warm) But sunscreen inhibits our bodies from doing their jobs. When we spray ourselves head to toe with sunblock, we're bypassing our internal feedback. So maybe sunscreen isn't the solution after all?
Oh another thing about sunscreen...

Toxic Sunscreen.
There's two types of conventional sunscreen, chemical and physical. (or, sunscreen and sunblock) Chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun's rays, whereas physical sunscreen physically blocks the UV rays from coming in contact with your skin. Physical is that stereotypical pasty white sunblock that doesn't blend in well and makes lifeguards look like nerds. Chemical blends into the skin well, but doesn't protect against UVA rays.  (Here's a full chart of the differences between the two if you're curious!)
Now, physical sunblocks typically contain just two ingredients: titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. And while zinc oxide is fairly safe, titanium oxide is a possible carcinogen.
And for chemical sunscreens, they contain a handful of industrial chemicals. Oxybenzone, a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, is a possible allergenic and hormone-disruptor. Now I don't know about you, but that's not really something I wanna be slathering all over my skin.
So if you're going to be exposed to the sun for long periods of time, I'd suggest a more natural sunblock like Badger Balm (a physical sunblock without titanium dioxide), or even making your own! (did you know coconut oil has a natural SPF of about 4? yeah, cool, I know)

The importance of vitamin D.
Ahh, the so-called sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D plays a vital role in our health, and sun exposure is one of the most efficient way to get it. But, unfortunately, most Americans are lacking sufficient amounts of this vitamin. And as it turns out, vitamin D deficiency is likely a leading cause of cancer and a number of other health issues. Is this not ironic? We're told to stay out of the sun, which has likely led to this deficiency; but the lack of sun exposure may actually be making the body more susceptible to cancer and other diseases.
From a recent extensive study on sun exposure:
Insufficient sun exposure has become a major public health problem, demanding an immediate change in the current sun-avoidance public health advice. The degree of change needed is small but critically important.
And beyond that, the sun affects our mental health as well. Ever heard of the winter blues? November rolls around, and suddenly you feel sluggish, fatigued, and just sad. This is called Seasonal Affective Disorder, and is often attributed to a lack of vitamin D exposure in those months when we're mostly indoors.

Eating your sunscreen.
I believe diet plays an important role in our overall health, and this area is no different. As a general rule, reducing grains, polyunsaturated fats that are largely found in vegetable oils, and sugar from your diet reduces the amount of inflammation in the body, which has a hand in cancer.
But as far as preventives go, lycopene, a carotene found in a number of red fruits and veggies, has been shown to protect against harmful UV rays. Specifically, the consumption of tomato paste reduced the amount of photodamage from ultraviolet radiation when tested in a small group.
And this study suggests that the consumption of tomatoes (in the form of tomato powder) may protect skin from potential UV damage:
Human clinical data suggests that continued consumption of tomato paste can dampen UV-induced skin erythema (i.e., sunburn). It has been hypothesized that carotenoid pigments are the compounds responsible for this biological result, as one of the principal functions of carotenoids in plants is to act as photoprotectants . . . Following consumption, carotenoids are deposited in the skin of humans where they are, in theory, present and able to protect from UV damage. 
So what do we do?
Skin cancer is a big deal. It's scary, and it sadly affects way too many of us.
But there are better ways to protect ourselves from it than refusing to sit in the sun or drowning our skin in harmful chemicals. Here's some practical tips to follow:

  • Switch from using a standard chemical sunscreen to a safe sunblock like Badger Balm. Or make your own!
  • Avoid grains, processed vegetable oils, and sugar. 
  • Eat some tomatoes! Cooked tomatoes actually showed to have a better affect for inhibiting UV rays, so I personally just try to eat a tablespoon of tomato sauce daily. It's much tastier than plain tomato paste, lemme tell you that. 
  • Get a healthy amount of sun, which will increase your vitamin D levels. Make it a habit to get a few minutes a day. 
  • Cover up! When you're outside, the easiest way to protect your skin from UV rays is simply to remove yourself from them. Hats, coverups, and of course, the all-important shade.

So. Tanning beds? Not good. Sitting in the sun long enough that you resemble a very ripe tomato? Yeah, not good either. But demonizing sun exposure altogether? No no no, that's not the answer either. We need to find some middle ground. There's no need to sway from one extreme to the other. (I swear, our culture has some major beef with moderation)
I'm not afraid of the sun, and you shouldn't be either! I go out of my way to make sure I get at least a few minutes of sun exposure every day, and dang, I love it. It's an instant mood lifter. And when I look in the sky on a bright blue day, I'm thankful for the sun and all it does. I acknowledge that it has incredible power to do both harm and good. So let's not be afraid of it, but give it the respect it deserves by utilizing its benefits while also protecting ourselves from its potential harm. And eating tomatoes.

Happy tanning,
Mel

(photo by Natalie Collins)

7.20.2017

Why You Shouldn't be Drinking 8 Glasses of Water a Day

(photo by Ethan Sykes)


Stop drinking water.
No, really. You don't need to.

Look, water is great. It's fantastic. I love the stuff. We couldn't live without it. It's utilized for basic cell function, flushes waste from our bodies, transports oxygen, and does a million other things that we would be dead without. H2O is an all around stellar dude. But as crucial as it is, we may be thinking about it all wrong. 
I know you've heard it before.

"Drink 8 glasses of water a day to stay hydrated!"

It's like our collective motto. We can't seem to agree on politics or religion, but hey, at least we all know that drinking more water is good for you, right??
Ehh. Maybe not after all. It seems that this idea of drinking large amounts of water started to permeate into Western widsom around the 1940's. But despite being disproven again and again, we can't seem to let go of this belief.
But hey, I used to live there too. There was a point in my life when I thought keeping a liter of water by my desk for constant sipping was the route to good health. But I soon realized, through research and just how my body was feeling, that maybe I wasn't being as health-conscientious as I had thought.

So here's a just a few problems with this wise old adage:

1) Other sources of water aren't taken into account. 
We know the It's definitely important to stay hydrated, but we're mistaken in thinking that water is the superior way to do so. Is it posible that the majority of the water we intake isn't meant come from a sanitized tap, but the food we eat? Most fruit and vegetables are made up of 80-95% water. Think about biting a piece of spinach or lettuce; after chewing down to just the fibers, there isn't much left, is there? And why do you think eating a big slice of watermelon on a hot summer day is so refreshing? (hint, you're eating mostly water)
Even something as dense as the white potato is made up of about 75% water.
Milk, coffee, tea, juice, alcohol, these all have a very high water content. But we're told that these don't count toward our daily intake. Which, honestly, is just downright stupid. One mug of black coffee contains 90% of, you guessed it, water. It's everywhere, folks! So why is there a need to be downing glasses of this stuff daily?
Now, if given the choice, I'd choose a glass of water over a cup of juice or can of soda. But a plain glass of H2O is probably not as vigorously important as we've been led to believe.

2) Overhydration is just as bad is dehydration. 
Overhydration, or water intoxication, occurs when you consume too much water for your kidneys to process quickly enough. The water dilutes the proper balance of sodium and electrolytes in the body, can cause a handful of cognitive issues, and can eventually cause brain disfunction. And just like extreme dehydration, it can be deadly.
Some symptoms of overhydration include:
-headaches
-brain fog
-frequent urination
-clear pee
-twitching
-cold hands and feet
-nausea and more

Now, the likelihood of you and me drinking so much water and getting water intoxication is super low. It's a rare occurrence. But it just illustrates how more doesn't always equal better. There's danger in both extremes.

3) Bottled water is trashing the planet.
A bit dramatic, I know. But it's not complete hyperbole. In 2007, Americans bought about 48 billion bottles of water. And an estimate of only 20% of those bottles were recycled. That's a staggering amount of waste. And it's a pretty sad, unintended consequence of trying to keep ourselves hydrated. The earth is filling up with plastic quick, and our water guzzling habits aren't helping.
But would it be so wrong to suggest that we as a nation wouldn't be purchasing so much bottled water if we hadn't been sold the lie that we need it in the first place?
Of course, all this waste can be easily remedied by replacing our plastic bottle waste with a reusable water bottle. And it has been encouraging to see this trend take off in recent years, but the root problem still remains the same. We believe we need to be constantly drinking water. And no doubt that's what led to this environmental truth.

4) It completely ignores biofeedback.
Something's deeply wrong with our health system when we're taught to listen to some higher authority over our own bodies. Biofeedback is incredibly important and shouldn't be ignored or dismissed. Any health advice that attempts to encompass the billions of people on the planet into one phrase or motto is ridiculous. Our bodies have an amazing biofeedback that let's us know when we need more of something, or we've had too much.

So how much water should we be drinking?

It's not as precise at 8 glasses a day, but it's just as simple.
Drink when you're thirsty.
Your body knows when it needs hydration, and it'll tell you so. Listen to it.

P.S. Leave a comment with how many Tumblr posts you've seen reminding you to drink water.

Adios,
Mel



(photo by Anda Ambrosini)

7.17.2017

A Start


Forget what you think you know about human health. Let's start from scratch.

There's so much misinformation about health out there, it's dizzying. Sometimes it's hard to know what to believe. Health "experts" are constantly changing their minds about what's supposedly good for us, and it can be exhausting trying to keep up.

"Eggs are bad for you- NO wait! It's actually just the yolks that have too much cholesterol, just eat the whites- HOLD UP WE WERE WRONG it's all good for you, just make sure not to eat more than one egg a day!"

Honestly, I'm so sick of it. But many of us have bought into this endless cycle. We take what the Dr. Oz's of the world have to say at face value. And our collective health has suffered as a consequence. So strip away any preconceived notions about low-fat being beneficial and counting calories as the only way to lose weight. Let's start from scratch and dig in to what it actually means to be healthy. 

My own health journey.
Like most of us, I grew up on the SAD (Standard American Diet. yes, that's the real acronym and yes, it's ironically appropriate). Think frozen waffles, powdered lemonade, and that totally suspicious, jiggly cranberry sauce that still has the shape of the can once you plop it out for Thanksgiving dinner. It was just the way we ate, the way everyone ate. 
Thankfully, my family has a much better understanding of nutrition now, but my health wasn't built on the greatest foundation. And ever since I was a kid, I've had a plethora of health issues. I'd have constant nausea and mild but persistent pains that seemed to have no origin. And in the more recent years, chest pain, spells of dizziness, achy joints, and shooting back pain. 
But they had just become a part of daily life, a part of me. I assumed it would always be something I would just have to "deal with". The problems were never severe  or debilitating enough for me to think I needed change. It never occurred to me that everything I consumed had the power to alter what was going on in my body. 
So a little over a year ago, I decided to do something about it. I wanted to make a change in my health, in how I was taking care of myself. So I did. I cut out sugar, processed foods, vegetable oils, grains, and any inflammatory foods. I started delving into the world of health, not realizing I was opening the door to a new obsession and passion. And I got hooked. Fast. 
And as I started to see change in my own body, I couldn't help but talk about it. Nagging my family, mostly. I'd be talking to my brother about raw milk and the ridiculous food politics behind its legality, when I'd see his eyes start to glaze over. And okay, I don't blame him, poor kid.
But I can't unlearn what I have. And I can't look at food the same anymore, like seriously, I've tried. A package of Oreos just isn't as appealing to me as a cup of ripe cherries. Not just because my palate has changed, but because I know what's in those Oreos. I don't wanna put all the junk that's in those cookies into my body anymore. And that's what kind of amazing to me, how a mind can change when confronted with knowledge, and how a body can adjust when nourished with real food. 
And that's honestly all I really hope to share with others.

But I'm still learning.
Health is a fairly new passion of mine, so I'm still no expert. I'm just trying to figure this all out, too. I'm doing the best I can for my body right now. But I'm still tweaking my diet. I'm still finding out what works for my body, and what doesn't. I'm still researching and learning and discovering new things. And I still occasionally eat that delicious banana creme french toast that's served at my local diner because, let's be real, a girl's gotta live every once in a while.
I'm not a doctor (clearly) or a dietician (obviously) or even a decent cook (sadly). I have no certifications or degrees, just internet access, the hours of research I've done, and my own body to experiment on. I'm just someone who stumbled into the world of health and wellness and accidentally fell in love with it, and I want to share what I've learned with others. I'm still learning too, kids. 

What's to come.
I'm starting this blog because I want to share what I've learned. Being educated about our food is the first step to making impactful changes within our lives. 
So! What will I be talking about on here? Glad you asked! (this is me desperately trying to make this like a back-and-forth convo here okay)
I have so many things planned, like deconstructing popular health myths, touching on food politics, simple tips for improving your health, and mostly just encouraging anyone who'll give me the time of day that there's a better way. We don't have to buy into conventional wisdom that's bred sugar-addicted kids, rampant autoimmune disease, and overweight, depressed adults. There's a better way if you just seek it. 

Now here's the deal: I never want to make anyone feel guilty about what they choose to eat. If you want to live you entire life consuming PopTarts and Pepsi in large quantities, that is totally up to you. I won't shame ya. (though I will be praying for you and your poor blood sugar) 
And maybe I'm just a hopeless optimist, but I do believe that when most people have the knowledge and power pertaining their food choices, they make good ones. Education is important. And that's what I hope to do- educate!

So here's the first post. The intro, whatever. I've been planning this blog for months now, and I'm so excited it's finally come to life. 
So leave me a comment! What are the things you've always wondered about nutrition? Are there any specific topics you'd like to see me cover? Let me know, I'm genuinely curious! Or leave a hate comment- you do you. 

Cheers,
Mel
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