Heal Your Gut and Your Gut Will Heal You

I’ve spent the last decade of my life researching (and writing about) natural healing, food as medicine, and taking control of our own health. 

For most of that time I have advocated for changing our diets: eating “as close to the ground” as possible. And that is still the best advice. Food is foundational. It’s a constant input to our bodies, and what we eat affects everything. How can it not?


In my research and in my own health, however, there seemed to be a missing piece. As I researched deeper and deeper, the topic of gut health came up constantly. Everything pointed back to the health and the balance of the gut microbiome.

Gut health is literally the root of everything. 

And it actually makes sense. Here is how one doctor put it: 

Your gut makes up the ONE LINE that goes from the entrance of your body to the exit. Everything you put in your body passes through that one line… so how can the health and balance of that line NOT affect every other system in the body? 

 

When you add to that the fact that the brain controls all the functions of the body (both voluntary and involuntary–and how the organs function and work together), it becomes apparent that the gut-brain axis (also called The Vagus Nerve) is VERY important to every aspect of our health. 

For example… did you know that the gut microbiome is responsible for producing serotonin, dopamine, and almost ALL of the neurotransmitters the brain needs to function and keep us healthy? 

And those neurotransmitters are sent to the brain along The Vagus Nerve (gut-brain axis). 

So if there is an imbalance in the gut, OR a deficiency in the brain, OR an interruption in the connection between the gut and the brain, all kinds of issues start to appear. 

The organs start to work less efficiently and begin to malfunction because the signals are crossed. 

We also can’t absorb appropriate nutrients from food or supplements with an imbalanced gut… so the food and supplements we take will be less effective for healing. 

Our hormones are regulated by the gut microbiome as well… so an imbalanced gut can results in hormonal imbalances…and all of the accompanying issues. 

The gut also regulates our thyroid hormones… so balancing the gut can improve T3 and T4 numbers, as well as the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction.

If we are low in serotonin and dopamine because of an imbalance in the gut microbiome, we may suffer from 

The health of the gut affects the brain and mental health so much, the gut has now been commonly referred to as the “second brain.”

(Text “Heal My Gut!” to ‪(802) 227-7051‬ for more information or to chat about your specific situation and get a recommendation. )

Allergies and Gut Health

Did you know the presence of allergies is ALWAYS a gut issue?

And it doesn’t matter the type of allergies, whether they are seasonal allergies, environmental allergies, pet allergies or food allergies: all allergies are rooted in gut health. 

My dad suffered from debilitating seasonal allergies his whole life (60 years!)… to the point he couldn’t wear a flower on his lapel at my wedding. 

Guess what happened when he healed his gut? Those allergies he had been struggling with his WHOLE LIFE disappeared. Now he works outside on a farm every day… amongst all of the trees and flowers and pollen he used to hide from. 

I used to be terribly allergic to cats. I would enter a house that had a cat and immediately get a terrible head cold: congestion in my nose, watery eyes, and trouble breathing. This would happen whether or not I was aware there was a cat in the house. When I would ask, the host would say, “Oh yes, we have a cat. We put her in the other room when people come over.”

Guess what happened when I healed my gut? No more cat allergy. Cats literally don’t affect me at all. It’s shocking! 

Food allergies are most commonly caused by leaky gut. Gut healing is imperative, because leaky gut can cause all kinds of issues, including an auto-immune response to eating food. 

There are, of course, some foods that we just shouldn’t ever eat, like highly processed foods, fast food, and junk food. The main reason we shouldn’t eat these things is because they aren’t actually even food. They provide no nutritional value to our bodies and they do more harm than good. So what is the point? Food is for our nourishment and to fuel our bodies, so if it is not providing that, why are we eating it? 

If you have an allergy to real food, however, there is a problem. I have a friend who is unable to eat almost any uncooked vegetables or fruits. This is a sign of severe leaky gut… and needs to be addressed immediately.

Simply avoiding all the food is not the answer: we need to find healing! 

If you are having severe symptoms of food allergies or just know something is wrong in your body but you don’t know what, the best way to find out what you are sensitive to is an elimination diet

Elimination diets are the ONLY sure way to determine exactly what you are sensitive to. Even allergy testing at the doctor is not as accurate as elimination diets (and they are often very expensive). 

I mentioned earlier that “simply avoiding” foods you are sensitive to is not the answer… so why am I telling you to do an elimination diet? 

Because those foods are causing a problem, so you definitely will need to cut them out of your life for awhile… UNTIL you heal your gut. After you heal your gut, in most cases you can add those (real, whole) foods back into your diet without issue. 

This is a great book on elimination diets and how exactly to do it from a highly respected physician who identified her food allergy, healed her gut, and then was able to add that food back into her diet. 

Eczema, Rashes, Acne and other Skin Issues

Our skin is our largest organ. 

If all of our “regular” detox pathways are open and running smoothly, we are able to detox everything through those channels (liver, kidneys, lungs, blood and lymphatic system). But if even one of these detox pathways gets clogged or slowed down, we start seeing signs in our skin.

 

Bright, clear, healthy, vibrant skin is a sign of health: it shows that our bodies are working as they should and there is no toxic burden present.

This is why healthy people are beautiful: health literally shows on our faces! 

Instead of wearing makeup to cover “problem skin,” why not focus on the inside and get glowing, radiant, beautiful skin because you are healthy?

“But I don’t know how to do that!!”

Again, the answer lies in gut health. 

(Text “Heal My Gut!” to ‪(802) 227-7051‬ for more information or to chat about your specific situation and get a recommendation. )

 

Food for Thought

Why are 80% of the pharmaceutical products sold in the US (both prescription and over-the-counter) for digestive complaints? 

Why do people who suffer from depression, anxiety, brain fog, mental health issues, autism spectrum disorder, skin problems and allergies virtually ALWAYS have an accompanying digestive complaint? 

Because all of it is rooted in gut health. 

Our bodies are whole units: one part affects every other part. And the gut is the most foundational of parts. 

One doctor I follow put it this way:

“Heal your gut and your gut will heal you.”

No matter what your issue: 

  • Digestive
  • Skin
  • Weight
  • Thyroid
  • Mental Health
  • Energy
  • Blood pressure
  • Detox
  • Mood 
  • Heart
  • Liver
  • Brain
  • Blood
  • Adrenals

Or a combination of several…. 

The root is always gut health. Start there. 

In most cases, healing your gut will begin a chain reaction of healing in your body. 

Our bodies are made to heal. We just need to give them what we need (and stop poisoning them). 

Begin by healing your gut, and then things will start to fall into place. If you need additional support after that, you can reevaluate. But you will be shocked how many things resolve themselves when the gut microbiome is balanced. 

 

(Text “Heal My Gut!” to ‪(802) 227-7051‬ for more information or to chat about your specific situation and get a recommendation. )

How do our guts get imbalanced? 

You may think back to childhood, a time when you ate whatever you wanted and had no issues. 

It may lead you to believe that we are born with perfectly balanced gut microbiomes… but that is not so. 

We inherit our gut microbiomes from our parents: particularly our mothers at birth. As we pass through the birth canal we ingest billions of bacteria, which seeds our microbiome and sets the stage for the health we will experience throughout our lives. 

If our mothers (and to a lesser extent our fathers) have a gut imbalance, we will inherit that imbalance. This is also one reason things like addiction and depression can be “passed down” along generational lines: because we share a gut microbiome profile with the rest of our families. 

Other things can affect our gut microbiomes, both for good and bad. 

Antibiotics and other Pharmaceutical Meds

Most of us have had antibiotics in our lifetimes: some of us have had many, many rounds. 

Antibiotics can be life-saving, there is no doubt: but the rampant over-use of them in our society has not made us healthier. 

Antibiotics are not good at targeting exactly which bacteria to kill: they kill indiscriminately. Recent research shows that one round of antibiotics can kill 25% of the gut microbiome (both good and bad bacteria)! That is devastating to the balance of the microbiome. And just think.. If you take more than one round, how much of our gut balance is affected! 

Other factors influence gut health as well: diet is a huge one. The food we eat feeds either the good or the bad bacteria in our guts: creating balance or imbalance with every bite. 

Sugar, processed food, fast food and other junk feeds the “bad” bacteria, causing overgrowths of candida and parasites. This creates an imbalance favoring “bad” bacteria in the gut, which causes a host of health issues, from weight gain to cravings to blood sugar problems and hormonal imbalance. 

Whole, real food, including fermented food and probiotics, promote the growth of “good bacteria” and create a balanced microbiome, which promotes optimal health in the whole body.

Other environmental components can influence gut bacteria for the positive or negative as well: ambient radiation from Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF from cell phones, radio waves, cell towers and electronics), as well as toxins in our water, air, personal products and food.    

When we learn all of these things and how foundational gut health is to every system in the body (and even to brain and mental health), our question should not be “What can gut healing do for me,” but

“What Can Gut Healing NOT Do For Me?”

If you have any health issue at all, start with the gut.

“Heal your gut and your gut will heal you.”

 

(Text “Heal My Gut!” to ‪(802) 227-7051‬ for more information or to chat about your specific situation and get a recommendation. )

 

“But HOW Do I Improve Gut Health??”

Healing the gut may sound like a simple fix, but how is it done?

Most people know we should take probiotics and eat real food. But beyond that, things get confusing.

I’ve been researching this topic for years and it is still confusing, because labels don’t answer any of these questions.

And not all “probiotics” are the same. There are literally billions of strains.

So how do we know which ones to choose? 

I’ve tried dozens of probiotics, spending hundreds of dollars… and most of them didn’t do anything for me.

So if you are ready to heal your gut, how do you know where to go from here?

The research I have done shows that the gut-brain connection is key, because the brain controls all of the systems of the body, and the gut and brain communicate in real-time to do that.

If the gut is the “2nd brain” and it provides everything the brain needs to function, and the brain controls the whole body… this gut-brain connection is really important!

Until a few months ago I knew this was the key, but had no idea how to influence it.

How do we heal the gut-brain connection? 

Which probiotics do we take? 

What else do we need? 

So when in my research I came across a gut-brain axis healing protocol, I thought this could be the missing link I’d been looking for.

I’m always skeptical when looking at new products, because I have incredibly high standards for ingredients.

I won’t even consider a supplement if it has:

  • Synthetic vitamins
  • Artificial colors or flavors
  • Harmful additives (like maltodextrin)
  • GMO ingredients
  • Soy,  corn or wheat

This list eliminates almost every supplement I look at.

When this protocol checked every one of those boxes, AND I learned that it is whole-food based and synergistically combined with food, herb and prebiotic ingredients according to the latest research, I started to get excited.

And then I saw how it was working for people.

Over the past few months I’ve seen friends and family find healing in the areas of:

  • IBS
  • Constipation
  • Energy
  • Focus
  • Stomach Pain
  • Food Allergies
  • Eczema
  • Adult cystic acne
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Brain Fog
  • ADHD
  • ASD symptoms (there is even a kids protocol that tastes amazing!)
  • Seasonal and Pet Allergies
  • Diabetes
  • Blood Pressure
  • Hormonal Imbalance
  • Weight issues

And reduce or eliminate meds for a variety of issues….

I knew I had to share this root cause healing protocol with the world.

There is a group on Facebook where people share their healing stories with this protocol regarding each of these issues and more: men, women and children! Text me at ‪(802) 227-7051‬ with your Facebook name so I can invite you to the group and you can see for yourself.

Want to check out this amazing protocol?

Click here for the adult version

Click here for the children’s version

(And an enhanced adult protocol that also addresses heart health)

And text me at ‪(802) 227-7051‬ if you want recommendations, or I can build you a cart and make sure you get wholesale pricing and the latest promotions included with your order.

And did I mention customers have a money back guarantee for a YEAR??

It’s literally guaranteed to change your life. Try it for a YEAR and if it doesn’t, return the empty bottles for a full refund!

There’s nothing to lose, except your pain, depression, stress, and discomfort!

There is healing.

There is hope.

Find it today.

(Text “Heal My Gut!” to ‪(802) 227-7051‬ for more information or to chat about your specific situation and get a recommendation. )

 

 

 

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

 

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

 

Resources

Serotonin is produced in the gut??

Allergies are a gut health issue

How to Heal the Gut-Brain Connection

Introduction to the Gut-Brain Axis Healing protocol (2 minute video by head Biochemist)

Nutritional Facts and Ingredients: Adult Protocol

The only gut healing protocol specifically designed for kids! 

Nutritional Facts and Ingredients: Kids Protocol

ABC News Special Report: Natural Remedy for ADHD that is more effective than Ritalin! 

Pixie Stick (Delicious, Natural and Sugar free) for focus, attention, behavior and mood! 

What is a Side Hustle? (And Why Everybody Needs One)

Have you ever looked at your paycheck and been frustrated with how much of it is taken out for taxes?

Have you ever thought what you could do with all of that extra money if you could actually keep more of what you are earning?

Have you ever wondered why you still have to pay more taxes in April, or why you’re not getting nearly enough money back on your tax returns?

You should get a side hustle.

A side hustle is any work you do “on the side.” Some examples are: cutting hair, mowing lawns, tutoring, or selling products. Side hustles are done on your own time for extra money.

You may already be involved in a side hustle and not even realize it.

But there’s more benefit to a side hustle than just earning a little extra cash.

Money you spend to fund your side hustle is tax deductible–AND some of your current expenses could also be tax deductible!

Did you know that you can also deduct expenses that you may not have thought of?

Some examples:

  • A portion of your rent or mortgage if you do any business or preparation for business at home
  • Mileage on your car if you ever use it to drive to and from places you do business or try to get new customers
  • Utilities
  • Internet bill
  • Cell phone bill

These kinds of expenses really add up. If you are paying these expenses anyway, and you can use a portion of them to deduct money from your taxable income, your tax bill not only shrinks, but you may bump yourself into a lower tax bracket.

We’re talking potentially thousands of dollars in tax refund money.

You might say:

“I don’t have time to do anything else.”

When you think about the tax savings, you can really see the potential: what if you were doing something that only took a few hours a week but saved you thousands of dollars on your taxes, PLUS the money you make doing what you’re doing?

Do you have time NOT to get a side hustle?

You might say:

“I don’t have money to invest in a new business.”

What if you could invest a couple hundred dollars and save a few thousand dollars on taxes, and make money on top of that? Do you have the money NOT to invest in that kind of side hustle? That’s a pretty great guaranteed return, no matter what business you are in.

Here is a simplified example of the kind of tax savings possible with a side hustle:

Say you make $65,000 per year. According to your tax bracket, you’d pay 25%, or $16,250 in taxes over the course of one year.

If you had a side hustle, let’s say you could write off $15,000 in expenses per year (car mileage, part of your rent or mortgage, a portion of your cell phone bill, purchases and supplies for your business, start-up costs. If you take a trip for your business, the tax-write off numbers could easily be higher).

It is acceptable to take a “loss” in a new business for up to the first 3 years of the business. If you don’t make any money on your business the first year, here is your new taxable income:

$65,000 – 15,000 =  $50,000 taxable income. 

Now you’ve bumped yourself into a lower tax bracket, which only taxes 12% of your income. Now you’re paying only 12% taxes on a total income of $50,000

$50,000 x 0.12 = $6000 taxes.

Originally you would have paid $16,250 and now you’re paying $6000. 

You just made $10,250!

And that’s without doing anything other than starting the business– and not including any money you make for your business.

These are all estimates and would vary based on your specific circumstances, but you can see how this works. 

How would an extra $10,250 per year change your life? 

Maybe you could pay off that credit card bill. 

Make several mortgage payments. 

Take a family vacation… or four. 

Get your Side Hustle On!

 If you don’t already have a side hustle, you should definitely get one. But what kind?

There are lots of things you can do, from tutoring to babysitting to mystery shopping. The way to really make money, however, is to sell things. And you need to find something to sell that people really want. If you sell something you love, you can even deduct some of the products you use on your taxes as well! After all, if you are selling something to people, you need to try it out so you can tell them how great it is!

The great thing about a side hustle is that it’s flexible, and it’s based on effort (not hours).

If you don’t have a lot of time and you don’t need to make a lot of money: perfect! Do a little here or there and make some extra cash while saving tons of money on your taxes.

If you dream of quitting your job and finally being financially free: PERFECT. You can totally do that.

A Slave to the J.O.B.

I love to talk about ways to save money, and even make a little money or bonuses doing things you already do–like shopping online.

Today I want to talk about something more powerful, though: residual income.

You know how….

you go to work and you get paid for the time you spend doing things they tell you to do?

 you can have a great job with lots of money and amazing benefits, but if you don’t show up to work, you don’t get paid (or lose your job)?

 your boss (or your company) can make you do things you don’t want to do because they have the power to take away your livelihood?

 rumors in the company about layoffs keep you up at night, worried what you would do if you lost your job?

The big corporations we work for have us at the end of a rope, and there isn’t much we can do about it. We need the money they are paying so we will do whatever it takes to earn it.

  • Hour-long commute in rush hour traffic.
  • Long days in a boring office sitting at a computer.
  • Eye, back, neck strain from sitting at a desk all day.
  • Doing the same thing every day.
  • Longing for that next vacation.

What choice do we have? We have to earn a living. We have bills to pay, kids to feed, Christmas presents to buy!

Where does all the money go?

Enter: Side Hustle

What if you could reduce your tax burden while increasing your income?

Most of us have jobs. A side hustle is an income “on the side.” Working for yourself! There are so many advantages to working for yourself: flexible schedule, tax deductions and extra income!

You can make your own hours–you can work as much as you want to, and you don’t have to quit your current job (unless you want to…).

There are so many benefits to getting a side hustle, you may be wondering why you don’t have one yet.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when deciding on a side hustle:

  • If you could do something you love and get paid for it, what would that be?
  • How much money would you want to make to reach your goals?
  • What is your biggest motivation for finding a side hustle?
  • How could your family’s life change if you made an extra $1000 a month? An extra $5,000? $10,000?
  • What personal goals could be pursued or attained if you had financial freedom?

 The answers to these questions may bring you closer to the side hustle that’s perfect for you.

Of course, I have a couple of favorites, for very good reasons. I’d love to discuss with you why I chose them and why they are working for me!

Learn a little bit more about the ones I’m involved with here:

How Gut Health is Connected to Mental Health: the Mental Wellness Revolution

The Next Big Business Boom: The Microbiome

(Try it for yourself: get FREE samples!)

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! 

I love this webinar that goes through all of the things to consider when deciding on your perfect side hustle. Watch it here:

 What do you think? What kind of side hustle would suit you best?

 If you want some suggestions or tips on finding a side hustle, email me at leah@freedomandcoffee.com or message me on Facebook and we’ll discuss your goals and how you can achieve them!

Contact me by email (leah at freedomandcoffee dot com) or message me on Facebook to learn more about the side hustles I’m involved in and the side hustle that is perfect for you.

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosures:

Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

I am not an accountant, so please talk with your accountant or tax preparer for more details on the tax deductions for which you qualify. 

Bacteria Boom: What are Probiotics and Why are They So Popular?

Over the past couple of years, I noticed that the pastor at my church has had some health issues which made him him sometimes miss meetings, stay home sick from church on Sundays every once in awhile, and generally just not feel very well.

Thinking back, I remembered about two years ago he had a big infection and was hospitalized for several weeks. During that time, he was put on an aggressive course of antibiotics (as most sick people are, whether or not they have a bacterial infection).

I don’t know the details of this original illness, but I do know that he’s been suffering from digestive issues ever since, which have increasingly tormented him and prevented sleep at night, interfering with his work and ministry at church.

One day after hearing he was again missing meetings, I emailed him and told him my suspicion: the course of antibiotics resulting from his illness two years ago had wrecked his gut and had precipitated most (if not all all) of his current issues.

I recommended he try taking some high-quality probiotics.

I shared some articles and research, then gave some recommendations of how to choose a few good ones.

I told him to start slow (because there can be an adjustment period as “bad bacteria” die off and “good bacteria” begin to populate the gut–but nothing worse than the symptoms he was already experiencing).

Two weeks later my pastor approached me and said, “Leah, I’m a new man! I feel so much better! I’m sleeping better and I have energy and I don’t feel sick any more!”

Word began to spread at church, and now I have people approaching me with questions about health all the time. I’m happy to pass along any knowledge and resources I have, because the information is all out there!

What are Probiotics? 

Probiotics are “beneficial” bacteria, and our gut health depends on them. In modern society, we’ve been conditioned to see all bacteria bad, foreign things that will make us sick, but this is simply not true. There are millions of beneficial bacteria that live with humans and animals in a symbiotic relationship: they benefit us, and we benefit them. When there is a balance in our gut microbiome, we experience gut health, which influences our overall health in big ways: from our hormones to our weight to our moods and even our mental health!

Why is Gut Health Important?

We don’t know the full scope of the symbiotic role that beneficial bacteria play, but we are beginning to understand how vital they are to our existence. The gut has even been named the “second brain” for the close relationship our gut health has with brain function and overall mental wellness.

  • It is estimated that human bodies are made up of approximately 90% bacteria by volume. These microbes are everywhere: on our skin, in our sinuses, ears, mouths, in our guts… literally everywhere. These microbes do a good job of helping to regulate our bodies and keep them functioning properly, and in return, we feed them with the food that we eat or byproducts from our bodies, like skin cells and sweat. When we are proactive about our gut health, our bodies thank us in numerous ways.
  • A huge variety of our bacteria live in our digestive systems, or our “guts,” and researchers are discovering that at least 70-80% of our immune system is in our gut. Our gut health has a huge influence on our overall health: both physical and mental.
  • Bacteria do a lot of work in our bodies, including helping to regulate hormones that control fat stores, skin issues, auto-immune response, fertility, available energy, and overall well-being. Gut health is vital to all of these!
  • Balance is key. We refer to bacteria as “good” and “bad” but really we just need a balance of the bacteria in our guts: that’s what gut health really is. The fact is, we all have “bad” bacteria such as E. Coli in our bodies, but if these bacteria don’t overrun our systems or multiply too quickly, they are not a threat. Even “good” bacteria can cause problems if there’s too much of it. Our bodies generally do a good job of regulating the population of bacteria, as long as we ensure we have a good variety of bacteria for our bodies to work with. As long as we have enough “good bacteria,” or probiotics, in our guts, they will fight off the “baddies” and keep our bodies balanced and healthy.

How Can I Get Them?

You may have noticed an array of probiotic supplements in your local health food store (and how expensive they are).

The good news is that you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive supplements to get a good balance of bacteria in your body. In fact, different fermented foods carry a large population of beneficial bacteria, and they are really easy to make, and to eat.

Yogurt is the most popular and widely-known source of probiotics, but not all yogurts are created equal.

Many of the yogurts on the store shelves are full of sugar (which feeds bad bacteria) and a lot of them even have harmful additives like carageenan (which has been found to cause cancer) to keep them refrigerator shelf-stable for weeks at a time.

Store bought yogurts can be a source of probiotics, but you need to know what to look for, and they shouldn’t constitute your only source of probiotics.

  • Look for “live and active cultures” on the container, and check the ingredients for which specific cultures are contained.
  • Find out if the yogurt has been pasteurized. Most yogurt is made with pasteurized milk, but even after it’s been turned into yogurt is then pasteurized again. Pasteurization will kill the beneficial bacteria that were necessary to make the yogurt, so they won’t benefit you.
  • Get organic. Yogurt is made from milk, and if the milk is not organic it will contain antibiotics and hormones that were given to the cows. These substances are detrimental and even toxic to our bodies, and can cause hormonal imbalances and antibiotic resistance in the long run.
  • Get plain and unflavored yogurt. You may not like the taste of plain yogurt, but you can add fresh fruit and honey for flavoring, instead of consuming a lot of extra added sugars.
  • Get whole milk yogurt. Studies have shown that low-fat dairy products do not contribute to weight loss and may actually cause weight gain. The full-fat options allow your body to more efficiently process the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins in the yogurt, and the fat will make you feel full longer, so you’ll eat less overall.
  • Check the ingredients. In addition to checking for live and active cultures, make sure your yogurt doesn’t have any additives like carageenan, sugar, color, or anything else. Ideally, it should just be milk and a culture.

Did you know? 

Yogurt is so easy to make. Yogurt makers are inexpensive and make it easier, but you don’t even need one to make yogurt. My favorite yogurt is clay-batch yogurt, which I make in VitaClay.

VitaClay has a built-in yogurt maker in most models.
VitaClay Personal Yogurt Maker and Slow Cooker

All you have to do is load in milk and a yogurt culture and press “yogurt” and a few hours later you’ll have the best yogurt you’ve ever tasted, and a starter batch to make more!

Kefir is a milk-based probiotic beverage that is also known as “drinkable yogurt.” Kefir often contains different bacteria than yogurt, and sometimes at greater quantities per serving. If you’re buying kefir from the store, apply the same checks as listed above for yogurt. Add kefir to smoothies or drink it plain–it tastes like buttermilk.

Incidentally, my father suffered from terrible seasonal allergies for over 60 years. My mother read about kefir and started making it at home, and he hasn’t had a problem with allergies since!

Homemade Sauerkraut: cheap, easy to make, and loaded with probiotics!

Other fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchee, natto and miso contain other probiotics that are beneficial, and they are delicious additions to your diet. Sauerkraut is super easy to make, and two ounces of homemade sauerkraut contains exponentially more beneficial bacteria than a whole bottle of store-bought probiotics, for pennies on the dollar!

Chop up the ingredients for salsa, then just add a little whey and let it sit on the counter for a couple of days–you won’t believe the healthy zing!

Additionally, lots of things can be fermented: I’ve fermented homemade salsa, which was super easy and so delicious! I’ve also seen recipes for fermented carrots, onions, cucumbers (pickles!), and even guacamole! The possibilities are endless! (Wild Fermentation link)

If you don’t want to make these fermented foods at home and would rather buy them, follow the rules listed under yogurt, and make sure they have live and active cultures (which is, after all, the whole point). Also watch for additives such as MSG and citric acid, in addition to those listed for yogurt.

Probiotic Supplements

Overall, I think that many probiotic supplements are a waste of money. As discussed above, the probiotics in just one serving of homemade sauerkraut can contain more good bacteria than an entire bottle of store-bought bacteria! This generally applies to lacto-based bacteria, however, which are the type contained in yogurt and most fermented foods. These bacteria are good, and you should definitely get them. If you absolutely don’t want to ferment anything at home, go ahead and buy them.

I’ve tried almost every gut health probiotic supplement out there, and the one that I have found to be most effective is Amare.

Amare specifically targets not only bodily health but also mental wellness through the gut. They even have one specifically for kids!  It also helps to balance good and bad bacteria for all facets of health and to kill candida: the American parasite. 

They even have a mental wellness quiz you can take to see where you stand and if these products could be a good fit for balancing your gut and improving your mental wellness. Because our bodies are interconnected. Healing one part will benefit all of the other parts as well.

AND! Check out this really great database that can help you determine which probiotic strains may help you the most based on your current symptoms and struggles!

Look for a bottle that lists the type of bacteria included and a guaranteed number of live bacteria per serving (usually listed in the billions CFU). The higher the number, the more bacteria it will contain (and very high numbers will require a slower breaking in period, which you can discuss with the worker at the health food store). These higher-quality probiotics will cost more, but this is a classic case of getting what you pay for, and what we want here is results.

Probioitics I buy

My one exception to the “store-bought probiotics are a waste of money” rule is in the category of soil-based probiotics. Here’s why: the lacto-based probiotics like those found in yogurt, sauerkraut and other ferments are so easy to make and so delicious to eat that there’s no reason to pay expensive store prices for a shelf-stable inferior product.

Soil-based probiotics, however, are different strains that have a different effect in our bodies: they go deeper into the gut and contribute differently to immunity. So we need both, but soil-based are found in soil, as the name implies.

In antiquity, people got a good amount of soil in their diets from digging up veggies and eating them.

These days, I don’t trust the soil as far as I can throw it. It’s been compromised with pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceutical drugs, and all manner of other toxins from our waste water and runoff. Even if I were inclined to eat soil (I’m not), it would probably do much more harm than good.

So when it comes to soil-based probiotics, I will purchase them from a reputable company that can guarantee their purity, quality, and effectiveness–even if they are expensive. I’ve listed below a few soil-based probiotics on which I have done research. I trust them to deliver a safe, effective, quality product.

What About Prebioitics?

Prebiotics are the “food” for beneficial gut bacteria that already live in our guts. And since not all gut bacteria can be supplemented with probiotics, it’s a great idea to get some good prebiotics in your diet as well.

As a matter of fact, you probably already do get some prebiotics, as they are often soluble fiber found in fruit.

There are also symbiotic prebiotic-probiotic supplements that you may find beneficial, especially if you have recently taken antibiotics or had some digestive problems. A great probiotic will also include enzymes and prebiotic strains that assist the good bacteria in the propagation and colonization of your gut, so you actually get real, lasting benefit from them.

Read this article about how different strains may help different health issues.

Resources:

Humans: 10% Human and 90% Bacterial
Our Bodies, Our Health, Our Gut Bacteria  (Cornell)
5 Quick Tips For Healthy Guts And A Healthier Immune System
The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet (Johns Hopkins)
Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues
How to Repair Your Gut After Antibiotics
Why Antibiotics Today Could Threaten Your Life Tomorrow
Antibiotic overuse: Stop the killing of beneficial bacteria
Is Carrageenan Safe?
VitaClay– Make Whole Food, Nutritious dishes easily at home: save time, money and effort, while healing your family! 
What is the Gut-Brain Axis?
Is the Gut Really Known as the 2nd Brain?
Gut Health For Children, and How it Can affect Children’s Brains and Cognitive Development

 

 

New to Freedom & Coffee? Start here.

Disclosure: Many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks! 

Want to Change Your Health Today? Start Here!

My friends are all over the board when it comes to diet and exercise.

I have friends who don’t spend much time thinking about what they eat: they eat whatever tastes good that is in front of them. Some like to work out, expecting that to make up for a less-than-ideal diet. Some don’t exercise or pay attention to diet, and most of them eat out a lot.

Those that are  careful about what they eat may follow the mainstream low-fat, vegetable-oil-laden diet, or a maybe a raw foods, vegetarian or vegan diet. Trending now are Paleo and traditional food diets–looking back to the cavemen and our ancestors for clues on what we should eat. The common factor is cutting out processed food and sugar.

Most people don’t make a change until there is a problem: terrible back pain, migraines, weight gain, or a terrifying diagnosis. Sometimes it’s a child that suffers from an autism spectrum disorder, food allergies, frequent sickness or low energy. These kinds of threats will motivate any of us to seek alternatives to drugs, surgery and sickness.

That’s when these friends come to me. They’ve seen my posts on traditional diets, healthy living, articles on how this supplement or that food or this method can do wonders for your health. They think that maybe there’s nothing to lose by trying it. So they ask me where to start.

There are a lot of great resources out there, of which I’ve only read a few. Here are a few resources that are a great place to start when you want to learn how to take control of your health.

If you’re concerned about food allergies or other issues for your kids, you should check out this book written by a researcher who also happens to be a mom.

 

 

 

 

My philosophy is that people have been eating a certain way for thousands of years, and since diseases have increased exponentially since we started processing food and messing with what works, maybe we should get back to what people used to do. This book has history, recipes, pictures and anecdotal evidence that points to the benefits of a traditional diet.

 

 

If you love solid research and a great foundation, check out this book, written by Weston A. Price, a dentist, in the 1930s when he noticed that many of his patients were becoming less healthy on a processed diet.

I also really love the up-and-coming field of epigenetics

Epigenetics is the study of gene function, and how it can change based on environment. This is huge, because it means your genes do not determine your fate! You determine your health and your fate–and you can turn “bad” genes off and “good” genes on simply by changing what you eat, what you do, and what you’re exposed to. This is great news! Read more about it in this fascinating book.

There are also a lot of great documentaries out there, such as Supersize Me and Food, Inc. that can help you be more informed and begin your journey to healing and health.

What resources have helped you and your family find healing?

 

Disclosure:  many of the product links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission from any purchase. I only recommend products that I love and this is at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting our mission with your clicks!

Why Freedom & Coffee?

I love period dramas.

To be able to experience what life was like in another time period is to catch a glimpse of a world that once was, and never will be again. Especially alluring to me is the 1700-1800’s, the times of the Revolution, Civil War, and Westward Expansion.

The series Outlander goes deep into the Jacobite rebellion in Scotland in the mid-1700s. It drew me in for several reasons: the time period, the location (I am ever fascinated with Scotland) and the message. This ragged band of 18th century Scottish highlanders fought for freedom with everything they had. They believed that “the system” (British monarchy) was corrupt and didn’t serve their interests. They fought for a country and a king of their own, no matter what the odds. The story hooks you with deep character development and even has a time travel twist.

One episode was called “Freedom & Whiskey.” Whiskey was a symbol of Scotland, and during this time it was banned from being sold, and it became synonymous with Scottish freedom. Robert Burns wrote a poem alluding to this tie, calling for “Freedom and whisky,” which every Scot understood as a call to independence.

Just as whiskey was to the Scots, so coffee is to America. We are a people fiercely independent; winning our own freedom from the Monarchy just a few years after the Jacobite fight was lost.

The freedom for which we fight

is no longer a fight of sovereignty, but for a freedom for which every person longs: to live our lives happy, healthy and free; to teach our children to become great; to fear no person, or circumstance, or government.

Let’s live in freedom:

where cancer is not a death sentence;

where we do satisfying, productive work and reap the rewards;

where we are afraid of nothing.

 

Grab a cup of coffee and let’s go!