Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lessons Learned at my First Indy Food Swap (It was a blast!)

Last Saturday I had the extreme pleasure of participating in Indy’s first Indy Food Swap. I want to start this post by complimenting and thanking Suzanne Krowiak, whose vision and hard work made the event a huge success. Thanks, too, to Sacha Brady (@Zigged), who volunteered to make everything run smoothly. You can learn more about the Indy Food Swappers on their Facebook page: Indy Food Swappers and on Twitter at: Indy Food Swap.

It was so much fun to chat with everyone who participated and to view the amazing diversity of handmade foods shared. I highly recommend attending the next event in October! I failed to take pictures of the items I took with me to trade, but the pic in this post shows the delicious items I traded for. Every one of the unique, handmade items is truly delicious!!

As with most things in life, I made mistakes at this first swap and learned valuable lessons as a result. Here are my tips based on the lessons I learned the hard way:

1) Take small servings so you have more to trade. I wasn’t sure what the typical serving size would be, so I took large portions. For instance, I took homegrown, organic herbs and packed large amounts into quart-size bags. In retrospect, I should have packed the herbs into sandwich size bags. Doing so would have given me four items to trade instead of just one. Most people brought sample sizes to share. Quantities traded did vary, though … everything from 4-ounce jars to 16-ounce jars of liquid items, and everything from plates of four cookies to a plate filled with six cake balls. Obviously, anything goes, but packaging items in smaller quantities will allow you to trade for more items.

2) Don’t be afraid to bargain: Because there is such a diversity of sizes and quantities being traded, be ready to get creative and flexible about what you’re trading. If someone wants to make a trade you don’t think is fair, don’t be afraid to offer to trade a different quantity or to ask for two of the item being offered. Most people are more than willing to bargain with you.

3) Niche items may not be popular: I took a jar of kefir grains and coconut water kefir and found that most of the people at this swap didn’t know what they were. That gave me a great chance to educate people, but meant that very few swappers showed an interest in trading for them. Obviously each swap will have different attendees with different interests, so it’s hard to say what will or will not be popular at each event. I’m such a firm believer in the health benefits of kefir that I’ll probably continue to take a jar, but am prepared to take them home if no one wants to trade for them.

4) Is it better to bring single servings of many items or many servings of a single item? I’m still not sure what the best answer is to this question. Please share your thoughts. Is it better to bring one serving of several different items, or multiple servings of a single item? I took single portions of four different things, but wound up wishing I had multiple (smaller) servings of some of them. Most people had a single item with multiple portions to trade. A few folks had two different food items with multiple portions. The bottom line is that you can potentially take home one new item for each item you bring to trade, so having multiple portions allows you to try far more items.

I can’t wait for the next Indy Food Swap! Did you go to the most recent one? What lessons did you learn? If you’ve never been to a food swap, what questions do you have?

Stop the Winter Blues and Seasonal Affective Disorder NOW

You know it’s coming … that time of year when you just feel down, have no energy, and would be perfectly happy Seasonal Affective Disorderhibernating until spring. The winter blues aren’t just in your head, they are a true physical condition referred to as “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). SAD can affect anyone in cold climates, although senior citizens and children tend to have it less frequently.

Note: Depression is a serious condition. If you experience depression that interferes with your daily life, please seek professional help and do not try to treat yourself. Please discuss any new therapy or supplement with your practitioner before starting. Please also be aware that none of these statements were evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness.

Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, research indicates that the lack of sunshine during the dark days of winter can cause:

  • Decreases in Vitamin D levels in the body: Low Vitamin D levels are known to contribute to depression and lack of energy
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  • Interference with circadian rhythms: Our body is designed to awaken when the sun goes up and to go to sleep when the sun goes down. The short days of winter interfere with these patterns, which appears to decrease the production of Serotonin, a “feel good” hormone.
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  • Reduced Melatonin levels: Decreased sunlight exposure seems to reduce the production of Melatonin in the brain. This can, in turn, lead to depression and sleep problems.
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  • Decreased physical activity: Most people aren’t as active in the winter as they are in the summer. Because exercise increases serotonin levels, a decrease in physical activity can negatively impact mood.

So how do you combat the effects caused by winter’s dark and gloomy days? Any of the following may help:

  • Use of a full-spectrum light bulb: Spending 10-20 minutes per day sitting in front a full-spectrum light bulb can help stimulate the body to produce Vitamin D and other chemicals essential to a good mood. Most health food stores sell full-spectrum light bulbs, or complete lamp sets and floor lamps can be purchased. I like the lamp set sold by Lights of America: http://amzn.to/ou0Q1a.
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  • Take a Vitamin D supplement: The typical recommended dosage of daily Vitamin D during the winter is 2000 IU/day, although levels of 5000-10,000 IU can usually be taken safely. I recommend asking your doctor to check your Vitamin D levels the next time you have blood work done. Although the test results will indicate that anything above 25 is “normal,” most people do not feel well unless their levels are between 50-75. (I give you permission to argue with your doctor on what the optimal levels are if s/he thinks a lower level is acceptable. The 50-75 level is associated with lower inflammation in the body and with lower cancer rates.) Also be aware that taking 2000 IU/day of Vitamin D is known to be MORE effective than a flu shot at preventing winter illnesses, so it’s a win-win! This is my favorite Vitamin D supplement: http://amzn.to/1auAwhF. For more information on Vitamin D, please read: 20 Surprising Facts About Vitamin D.
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  • Don’t be a hermit: It’s important to get out and have FUN during winter months. Although it may be tempting to become a homebody, getting out of the house to have fun is very important.
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  • Exercise: If you don’t like the word “exercise,” then engage in “fun sweaty activity” instead. As referenced above, exercising increases serotonin levels in the brain, which naturally makes you feel better and have a more positive outlook.

Again, please seek professional help if you experience a depression that interferes with your ability to cope or if you begin considering harming yourself.

My passion is helping people improve their health and lifestyle by identifying and correcting systemic imbalances. I have helped thousands of people eliminate their health challenges using a holistic approach. If you are ready to find a new level of wellness, please contact me to schedule a consultation. I will help you identify the cause of health challenges and will then work with you to create a plan to reverse them.

Does SAD affect you? Please share your story and what techniques work for you. We can beat this!

10 Unique Uses for Zucchini

It’s that time of year when people are begging their friends and family to take excess zucchini off their hands. Zucchini is far more versatile than people realize and has many more uses than the old stand-by of zucchini bread! Nutritionally, zucchini is a great source of fiber and has significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, potassium,Vitamin A, lutein, Vitamin C … and is a fair source of Omega 3 fatty acids!

So what do you do when you have zucchini coming out of your ears? Try the following ideas that are a bit off the beaten path:

1) Make zucchini slaw

2) Combine with nut meal, cooked beans & spices to make veggie burgers

3) Slice, coat with sunflower seed meal combined with spices, and saute. I’ve seen some huge zucchini this year which make great “zucchini burgers” when sliced, spiced & sauteed

4) Use to make zucchini hummus (combine with garlic, coconut oil and anything else you can imagine!)

5) Add to smoothies … zucchini “stretches” smoothies so you don’t need to add as many sugar-filled fruits

6) Shred and add to casseroles, soups, stews, etc. … your family will never know!

7) Slice and make zucchini sandwich appetizers. Fill with thick hummus, almond butter blended with cayenne powder, organic cheese slices, Greek yogurt blended with fresh herbs, etc., etc.

8) Slice and sautee in butter for a quick & easy veggie side dish

9) Slice thinly and substitute for lasagna noodles and other noodles. This may sound strange, but it works really well and effectively eliminates the carbs from high-carbohydrate pasta dishes

10) Slice bigger ones into 2-3″ logs, hollow out the center, stuff and bake using your favorite stuffed pepper recipe. Works great! Finely chop what you dug out of the center and use in casseroles as a low-calorie filler.

11) New entry added August 3, 2012: Make zucchini “fries” by cutting zucchini into long, thin strips (similar in shape to a French fry) and sprinkling with spices. I love them with straight Himalayan Sea Salt, but they are also great with Italian spices or dipped in hummus.

What’s your favorite use?

Make Your Own HEALTHY Beer Loaded with Probiotics!!!

It is incredibly easy to brew your own healthy beer, in whatever flavor you want, that will be loaded with probiotics and enzymes. Since I’m basically a very lazy person, I did a lot of research and experimentation and simplified the basic technique to make it even simpler. My technique follows. Enjoy!!

Before reading this article, please read:

I again want to state that I do NOT condone the consumption of alcohol and encourage everyone to use moderation in all things. I “approve” of this beer simply due to the probiotics and healthy enzymes it contains. In spite of its healthy ingredients, it should only be consumed in small quantities.

Please see my previous post, Starting Your Own Ginger Beer Adventure for a summary of the ingredients and supplies you will need. This post assumes you are already familiar with the supplies you will need.

There are three simple steps involved in brewing healthy beer. They are:

1) Making a starter culture
2) Making a flavoring syrup
3) Brewing the beer

Each of these steps is incredibly simple. The entire process takes a little over two weeks, although the start culture only needs to be made once. You can also choose to allow the beer to brew longer to create a higher alcohol content, but that is optional.

STEP 1: Making the Starter Culture

The starter culture is a fermented liquid that is brewed to create a high level of beneficial bacteria. These bacteria then spur the fermentation and production of alcohol in the beer. To make a starter culture, follow these steps:

1. Fill a quart Mason jar 3/4 full with purified water.

2. Add 1 tablespoon grated or finely chopped ginger and 2 teaspoons sweetening agent. Stir well, cover jar with a breathable material (a coffee filter or cheesecloth secured with a rubber band works well) and allow to sit out, unrefrigerated, for 24 hours. (Note: I put a lid on my starter culture, but I open the lid several times a day to release the gasses produced during the fermentation process.)

Note about sweeteners: The sweetening agent will be consumed during the fermentation process, which means it’s technically fine to use white sugar. I never use white sugar in anything, so I have experimented with a variety of sweetening agents. If white sugar isn’t appealing to you, you may substitute agave nectar, Sucanat, palm sugar, honey (not raw), molasses, maple syrup, etc. Note that the flavor of the sweetener will slightly affect the taste of the starter culture and the beer it’s used to create. Organic Black Strap Molasses creates a “malty” flavored brew; agave nectar produces less of a flavor. Sucanat or palm sugar add no flavor at all.

3. On a daily basis for the next 7 days, add 2 tsp grated ginger and 2 tsp sweetening agent every day, stirring well. (If possible, stir 2-3 times during the day to hasten the fermentation process.)

4. When ready, the Soda Starter will be “cloudy” and slightly bubbly. If mold forms on the surface during the initial week, skim it off. If mold is persistent, start over.

STEP 2: Making a Flavoring Syrup

The flavoring syrup provides sugars to feed the fermentation process during the brewing process. The flavoring options are limitless. The following instructions are for making a Ginger Beer. I’ve experimented with fruit beers, but the Ginger Beer is simple and tastes great, so I recommend starting with it as a first batch. I currently have a batch of Pumpkin Ginger Beer brewing. Only time will tell how it will turn out, but I have high hopes! Follow these steps to make a flavoring syrup:

Ingredients:

1 Gallon Purified Water
1 1/2 cups sweetening agent
4 tablespoons grated/chopped ginger (more or less can be used based on preference; don’t bother peeling it)
Juice of one organic lemon or lime (1-2 tablespoons)

1, Heat half of the water until boiling, add the ginger and sweetening agent, and boil for about 15 minutes. (Note that you may want to boil the syrup longer if you’re making a fruit beer.)

2. Remove from heat, pour into a gallon glass jar which already contains the other half of the purified water. You may want to add a metal spoon to absorb the heat and prevent the jar from cracking. (If you don’t have a gallon glass jar and will be brewing in a plastic container, remove the pot from the stove, add the remaining water, and allow to sit in the pot until completely cooled after following the remaining steps.)

3. Add lemon or lime juice. This step is very important. Lemon and lime juice maintain an acidity in the brew that helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

4. Allow to cool completely.

STEP 3: Brewing the Beer

Now the fun starts!!

Ingredients

Flavoring Syrup made in Step 2
1 cup of Starter Culture made in Step 1
1/2 teaspoon baker’s yeast (champagne yeast will produce a finer flavor, but plain ol’ Fleischman’s bread yeast works well.)

1. Add one cup of Starter Culture to the cooled Flavoring Syrup. (The remaining Starter Culture can be saved for up to six months or you can continue making more by adding 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp ginger every time you use some top make more beer.)

2. Pour about an ounce of the liquid from the jar into a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the liquid and allow to sit until it’s thoroughly absorbed. Blend well, then add back to jar. Swirl jar to blend.

3. Cover jar with a breathable cover such as a coffee filter/cheesecloth secured with a rubber band

4. Allow jar to sit on the counter, unrefrigerated, for 3-21 days. After at least two days, the sugar in the brew will be consumed and the brew will no longer have a sweet taste. Most brews develop a definite beer flavor after around 3-5 days. Taste your brew every few days to judge the taste and decide when you want to stop the brewing process. The longer you allow the beer to brew, the higher the alcohol content will be.

5. When the brew process is complete, put a lid on the jar. Putting a lid on the jar creates a carbonated beer. Most beers become bubbly but don’t develop the carbonation we’ve come to expect from mainstream beers.

6. CHECK THE JAR EVERY 12 HOURS AND RELEASE CAP TO RELEASE GAS BUILD-UP. I’ve heard horror stories of glass jars exploding, but I’ve never had it happen. Making your first batch in a 2-liter plastic bottle makes things a little easier. When the pressure on the bottle builds until you can’t compress the bottle, place the bottle in the fridge.

7. If desired, pour the brew into individual bottles, cap them tightly and allow them to sit for 12-24 hours to re-build the carbonation. Refrigerate after that.

YOU MUST REFRIGERATE THE BREW TO STOP THE BUILD UP OF GAS. IF YOU DON’T REFRIGERATE IT, YOUR BOTTLE(S) WILL EXPLODE.

That’s it!! Please let me know if you try it. Maybe we should schedule a home-brew tweetup!! 🙂

As always, feel free to follow me on Twitter at @IndyHealer

Starting Your Own Ginger Beer Adventure

I was a bit surprised at the response I got to last week’s Ginger Beer post. The most common comment I received via social media was a request to share how I made Ginger Beer. Today’s post will be a very brief one intended to help you get your supplies and ingredients together so that you’ll have everything you need when I post the actual instructions.

The total process of making the starter culture and then brewing the Ginger Beer takes about a week. I often let mine brew longer to intensify the flavor, but a weaker beer can be brewed in about a week. To make your own Ginger Beer, you will need:

INGREDIENTS:

– Ginger Root: I use fresh, organic roots. I wash them, but never peel them. You’ll need about 3 inches of root to make the starter and the actual beer

– Purified Water: You can NOT use tap water to make Ginger Beer or the starter culture, as the contaminants in tap water kill the beneficial cultures. (For the record, they do the same thing in your stomach and digestive tract. Please don’t drink it!)

– Sweetening Agent: I used organic Agave Nectar and Blackstrap Molasses, but you can use any form of sugar. I avoid processed white sugar and never use it in anything, but you can technically use it since the fermentation process consumes it and destroys the free radicals. You’ll need around 3 cups to make the starter culture and one to two gallons of Ginger Beer.

– Organic Lemons or Lemon Juice – I also like lime juice, but use whichever one you prefer

SUPPLIES:

– Measuring cups and spoons

– Grater

– One 1-quart glass jar (Mason jars are wonderful for this, but any clean jar with
a lid will do)

– Bottles with lids capable of holding 1-2 gallons of Ginger Beer (I prefer glass containers, but have also used plastic 2-liter bottles successfully.)

– Pots & pans capable of holding at least 6 cups of liquid

– Small glass bottles with lids to bottle the final product (I confess I leave mine in the large containers because it’s simpler, but bottling it into individual bottles is an optional step)

That’s it! I’ll share detailed instructions soon.

On a side note … I hope to bring bottles of Ginger Beer and Coconut Water Kefir to the first Indy Food Swappers event! These events are wonderful chances to sample and try homemade goods. Each participant brings a goodie to swap, and everyone has big fun swapping and sometimes competing to get the most popular items. You can learn more about this event at any of the following links:

Main website: http://www.indyfoodswappers.com/

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/IndyFoodSwappers

Register for the August 27 Event (It’s FREE): http://indyfoodswappers.eventbrite.com/

My Experiment with Healthy Beer

Before I dive into the subject of this post, let me state that I do NOT condone excess consumption of alcohol. Although I don’t think drinking high amounts of OTC beer to be a good thing, I also don’t think an occasional beer or glass of wine (or Margarita or vodka tonic) will destroy your health. There is actually some research that suggests drinking red wine may be healthier than drinking tap water, so “moderation in all things” is a great mantra when it comes to alcohol.

After making non-alcoholic ginger ale for quite a while, I recently experimented with brewing my own alcoholic Ginger Beer. My incentives for brewing my own beer included:

1) To create a truly gluten-free beer. Since this beer contains nothing but ginger, this was easily accomplished.

2) To brew a beer that retains its health benefits because it is not pasteurized. (The “stuff” you buy mainstream is pasteurized, which effectively destroys the beneficial microorganisms that could potentially make beer healthy.)

3) For the mere heck of it and so I could say I’d done it.

I made Ginger Beer using a very simple process that included creating a starter culture using water, ginger and agave nectar. I then created a ginger syrup which I combined with the ginger starter culture. I allowed this to ferment for a few days and then added a tiny bit of yeast to start the production of alcohol. I also added lemon juice for flavor and to inhibit the growth of non-beneficial bacteria.The good news is that the fermentation process consumed the yeasts, meaning that this brew would not feed Candida.

Here are the conclusions I drew from my brew:

1) Ginger Beer maintains a healthy amount of beneficial probiotics: In spite of the yeast used to stimulate the production of alcohol, Ginger Beer is still a fermented product high in probiotics. I tested this by adding the final product to a small amount of yeast. The addition of the beer killed the yeast. (Yahoo!) I also confirmed this by testing the beer using an EDS (Electrodermal Stimulation) unit. The Ginger Beer consistently balanced people’s allergy points and their Candida points. I found this very encouraging!

2) Ginger beer is cheap to make. It cost less than $3 to brew four liters of Ginger Beer. (Take that, Guinness!) Total time was approximately half an hour once I perfected the process.

3) Ginger Beer has a very mild taste. Ginger Beer smells strongly of beer but doesn’t have the strong “bite” or bitterness that many beers have. Although sugar is used in the brewing process, the sugars are consumed in the fermentation process and no sweet taste remains. (I actually found that adding a bit of stevia improved its taste, but I’m not a beer drinker and don’t generally like the taste of beer.) Ginger Beer has a strong ginger afternote, which I really liked. My biggest encouragement was that my husband, who’s a bit of a beer snob, didn’t describe Ginger Beer as tasting like “weasel piss” and actually said he likes it. (Sorry for the bluntness. That’s his term for bad beers.) I also found that the probiotics and ginger in the beer could actually be used to settle an upset stomach. Imagine that!

4) Ginger Beer gets you wasted. I confess I’m a lightweight because I rarely drink. However, the alcohol content of my Ginger Beer was high enough that a single glass (6 oz) created quite a buzz. Batches left to brew longer than a week smelled more like distilled liquors than beer and had a much stronger effect. Again, moderation in all things is advised, but Ginger Beer did the trick when used as a muscle relaxant or as a calmant following a rough day.

There you have it! I’m not sure I’ll continue brewing Ginger Beer, although I have enough starter culture to last a lifetime, but brewing it was quite an education!

Have you brewed your own beer? Please share what you brewed and whether you thought it made you healthier or not. 

Next Up: 

Why Kombucha and Candida Don’t Mix

This post is dedicated to everyone who has battled Candida and who wants to do everything possible to avoid making Kombucha warningthings worse. Although Candida in small quantities is a beneficial yeast our body requires for balance, the high sugar content of the Standard American Diet (SAD) often feeds Candida so that it grows like crazy and overtakes the digestive system and other body systems. (See The Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion for more info.) Please visit my Series on Candida for more information on Candida. Today, let’s address why Kombucha feeds Candida and should be avoided at all costs by anyone who suffers from or is prone to Candida overgrowth. Kombucha has become a popular drink in the US, but many myths exist about its health benefits. For Kombucha proponents, let me say that I recognize the health benefits of Kombucha, but believe its high fungal content is detrimental for most people in the US due to their dietary habits. I know this is not a popular opinion, but it’s one that physiological and chemical data supports. The belief that Kombucha actually helps kill Candida is wrong. The top three reasons Kombucha feeds Candida and does not control it are:

Definition of SCOBY:

Kombucha is brewed using a starter culture called a SCOBY. SCOBY stands for: Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. Did you catch that last word? YEAST? Kombucha is a culture specifically designed to promote the growth of yeast. Anyone trying to control yeasts and Candida in their system should therefore avoid it.

Low acidity:

Most fermented foods have a high acidity that kills yeast. Kombucha never achieves this level of acidity. Similar to vinegar, Kombucha has an acidity level and fungal content that strongly increases the growth of Candida and other biological yeasts. If you put yeast in a petri dish and add Kombucha, the yeasts grow at an amazing rate. The same thing happens in your body. Enough said. A study at Cornell University confirmed that Kombucha stimulates the growth of Candida, but decreases the growth of other infective organisms. Again, Kombucha does have some beneficial properties, but only for people whose diets are not high in sugar or who do not have pre-existing Candida overgrowth.

Excessive use of fruit juice for flavoring:

In the US, most people can’t tolerate the taste of pure Kombucha and therefore dilute it with high levels of fruit juice. The sugars in the fruit juice (fructose, especially) provide plenty of “food” for Candida to thrive on. Per the previous points, plain Kombucha feeds Candida enough that adding fruit juice merely adds fuel to the fire. Having said all that, let me say that how you feel is the best measure of whether or not Kombucha is a good idea for you. Most people I’ve worked with find that their Candida symptoms and issues greatly decrease or even disappear once they remove Kombucha from the equation. If you love Kombucha, I recommend substituting coconut water kefir for it. Coconut Water Kefir is very easy to brew and provides high levels of antifungal probiotics. It is a much better option than Kombucha. Ok … what’s your opinion? We may have to agree to disagree, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!!!

Top Six Ways to Maximize Digestion

Digestive issues are a widespread problem. They are so widespread that even babies and toddlers are now Stomach (Digestion)afflicted with painful, inconvenient digestive problems. The causes of these issues are more than can be covered in a single blog post, but the simple explanation is that our bad diet, the chemicals in our food supply, and the toxins we are exposed to on a daily basis are destroying the delicate balance that keeps our digestive system working well. The following six tips will help keep your digestive system happy:

1) Chew Well: I know this sounds overly simple, but digestion begins in the mouth. Your stomach is not designed to digest large chunks of food, yet many people literally inhale their food without chewing. Grandma was right: Chew every bite at least 20 times. Food should be chewed into a fine slurry before being swallowed. Chewing every bite thoroughly also helps your body to product the hormones that let it know the stomach is full and it’s time to stop eating. People who inhale their meals often don’t feel full after eating. Thorough chewing helps us feel full. Failure to chew puts a burden on the liver and pancreas, as they must produce extra enzymes to help digest the large chunks of food that should have been more finely ground in the mouth. When the liver and pancreas constantly have to secrete extra digestive enzymes, they can become fatigued and may cease to function correctly. It is not unusual for people with extreme digestive disorders to also have elevated liver enzymes.

2) Drink Enough Water, but Don’t Drink with Meals: Drinking during meals dilutes digestive enzymes and can make digestion very difficult. Because digestive enzymes require a specific pH in the stomach, drinking water with lemon in it negatively affects the stomach’s pH and neutralizes digestive enzymes so that they don’t work. I’m a big fan of drinking lemon water, but encourage you to only drink it between meals. During meals, most of us need less than six ounces of water to help wash down our food.

Between meals, we all need to consume at least half our body weight in ounces of water on a daily basis. The old rule of drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily (64 ounces) therefore only works if you weight 128 pounds, which few of us do. Dehydrated cells do not function correctly in any part of the body. Dehydration also makes it extremely difficult for waste products to move easily through the digestive system.

*On a side note, dehydration also causes a hormonal reaction that makes you feel hungry. Staying hydrated can therefore help avoid unnecessary snacking and grazing.

3) Power Up with Probiotics and/or Fermented Foods: A very fragile balance of good and bad bacteria exists in the digestive system. This balance can be negatively affected by antibiotics, excess sugar consumption, excess yeast (Candida), and excess alcohol consumption. Many people with digestive issues have a bacterial imbalance. A proper balance can be restored or maintained by taking probiotics or by eating and drinking fermented foods which are naturally loaded with probiotics. My preference is to get my probiotics via fermented foods and coconut water kefir (which I brew continually), but if fermented foods aren’t your cup of tea, I highly recommend trying Garden of Life’s Raw Probiotics: http://amzn.to/nlJSp1.

4) Feed Your Probiotics with Prebiotics: The probiotics in the digestive system need to be fed with prebiotics. Prebiotics, primarily found in fruits and vegetables, feed the probiotics and help them thrive and reproduce. An additional advantage of prebiotics is that they contain fiber which is also essential for good digestion.

5) Weave Fiber into Every Meal: Fiber is essential to good digestive health, but needs to be incorporated very carefully if you have poor digestion or are chronically dehydrated. The best sources of fiber are in beans and lentils, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. (Note that many breads labeled “whole grain” are basically highly-processed white breads with added caramel coloring. If you can’t see grains in the bread, chances are it’s been processed enough that most of the fiber was removed.) Fiber creates bulk that helps make stools firm and helps move them through the colon. Fiber also serves to absorb fats, slow down blood sugar spikes caused by carbohydrates, and absorb toxins. If your diet does not currently contain much fiber, or if you have pre-existing digestive problems, add fiber very gradually. Start with cooked vegetables, pureed into a soup if needed. Also make sure you are drinking adequate water. Increasing fiber intake can cause constipation if adequate water isn’t consumed to help keep things moving. Let me also state that no one should ever have to take fiber supplements. Adequate fiber is easily gotten from the diet, especially when processed foods are eliminated and vegetable intake is increased.

6) Find the Cause of Distress Instead of Treating the Symptoms: Digestive distress isn’t normal and does not occur without a specific cause or causes. Treating the symptoms without determining and eliminating the cause may bring relief but will ultimately cause greater damage. A wide variety of non-invasive testing and assessment techniques exist to determine why your digestive system is not functioning as it should. Take the time to find a practitioner who will listen closely to your exact symptoms and will then work with you to identify the cause of the problem and to create a program to heal your body. Help can be found. Go find it!

I am particularly sensitive to digestive issues because I suffered from severe digestive distress for several years. At my worst, I vomited several times a day and had constant nausea. My experience with this led me to seek special training on digestive disorders. I KNOW what it’s like to be inconvenienced by constant diarrhea and vomiting, know the exhaustion that comes with it, and know how frustrating it can be to have doctors treat your symptoms without treating the cause. My goal is always to determine and eliminate the cause of an issue so that it can be eliminated.

As always, I can be contacted at 317.489.0909 if you would like to schedule a consultation.