best-foods-gut-healthWhen the ancient Greek father of medicine, Hippocrates, said “All disease begins in the gut,” he was probably right. Poor gut health has been linked to a broad range of diseases and health conditions, from depression to diabetes, cancer to obesity, and autism to autoimmune disease. Search the medical literature and you’ll probably find links between the gut and any illness you can imagine.

So—all the world’s health issues solved, right? Not exactly.

Gut health is one of those topics that gets more complicated the deeper you go. The more you read about gut bacteria, the less you realize you know and the less you realize anyone knows, even the researchers. It’s infinite onions, all the way down. The layers never stop, and exposing them eventually makes you want to cry. (Speaking of which, onions are actually a very good food for gut health).

All that said, the scientific community is honing in on the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy gut. We know how to heal an unhealthy gut, or at least improve gut health. An incredible amount of research has determined the best foods for gut health, and we know the worst foods for gut health. We understand that gut health comes down to supporting healthy gut bacteria and avoiding leaky gut. Top-down micromanagement might not work yet, but big-picture, bottom-up intervention does.

Gut Inflammation: Signs of an Unhealthy Gut

Some of the signs are obvious. Others are more pernicious. Not all of these will apply to someone with unhealthy gut bacteria or leaky gut, but some will.

Chronic Constipation, Bloating, and/or Diarrhea

Everyone gets a little constipated now and then. We’ve all had the runs, and we’ve all felt bloated after a particularly large meal. As long as these conditions are acute—as long as they’re brief and transient—they don’t indicate any serious gut inflammation. It’s when constipation or diarrhea or bloating endure and become chronic conditions that you should pay close attention. Chronic constipation, bloating, and diarrhea are signs of an unhealthy gut biome.

Obesity or Overweight

Although the connection hasn’t been established as causal, there is a consistent and significant association between obesity/overweight and poor gut health. If you are obese, you very likely have room to improve the health and function of your gut.

Food Intolerances and Allergies

If the integrity of your gut is compromised due to excessive gut inflammation or missing gut bacteria, undigested components of the foods we eat can slip past the intestinal barrier and into our bodies where they trigger an allergic reaction. This appears to be a necessary step in the development of a food allergy, and a 2011 review concluded that an overly leaky gut facilitates this transportation and leads to the inducement of allergy.

Depression and Anxiety

Researchers have long puzzled over observations that mental health conditions like depression and anxiety often present with common gastrointestinal complaints like constipation and diarrhea. It’s not just circumstantial: gut bacteria produce large amounts of neurotransmitters like serotonin, interact with neural pathways involved in anxiety and depression, and help form the gut-brain axis.

Animal studies show that replacing the gut bacteria of anxious mice with gut bacteria from fearless mice makes the anxious mice more brave, while giving bold mice bacteria from anxious mice makes them more anxious. In human subjects, a probiotic supplement (containing L. helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) reduces measures of anxiety and depression, and by some accounts, 35% of depressed patients have leaky gut.

Skin Problems (Eczema, Psoriasis)

In the last section, I told you about the gut-brain axis. There’s also a gut-skin axis: a constant interplay between the health of your gut and the health of your skin. People who have eczema are also likely to have leaky gut, while psoriasis patients show clear signs of unbalanced gut bacteria.

Autoimmune Disease

One of the world’s premier autoimmune disease researchers, Dr. Alessio Fasano, considers poor gut health a necessary pre-condition for all autoimmune diseases. It’s a similar situation to the allergy/intolerance issue: a leaky, inflamed gut allows outside proteins and other food components into the body, the immune system mounts an immune response to deal with the invaders, and this response gets out of hand and redirected toward the body’s own tissues.

Okay, so how does it all happen? Apart from food, which I’ll get to later on…

What Causes an Unhealthy Gut?

There are many potential causes of poor gut health.

Stress

Stress can directly induce leaky gut (PDF) and stress can take many forms, as we all know. Bad finances, marital strife, unemployment, too much exercise, lack of sleep, extended combat training, and chronic under-eating all qualify as significant stressors with the potential to cause leaky gut, especially chronically and in concert with one another.

Poor Sleep

Sleep is restorative, and restorative sleep means you’re lowering stress and improving gut health. If your circadian rhythm starts to shift, starts getting a little dysfunctional, your gut health soon follows.

Inadequate Dirt Exposure

Too sterile an environment causes too sterile a gut. We are made to spend time in nature, feet and hands getting dirty, exposed directly to the natural soil teeming with trillions of bacteria. We’re meant to eat produce directly from the ground, and nature didn’t intend for us to always wash it. (That said, if you didn’t grow it yourself, it’s best to wash your produce.) Exposure to healthy soil may even bestow upon us anti-anxiety gut bacteria—gut microbes that actually make us less anxious.

Not Enough Exercise (or Too Much)

Exercise has been shown to directly improve gut function, increasing the production of beneficial short cain fatty acids by gut bacteria. When you stop training, the gut benefits cease.

Just don’t do too much. An acute bout of intense training causes a transient rise in leaky gut that subsides and even improves several hours after the session. This is fine. This is normal. This is adaptive. But if you start stringing together intense training sessions without adequate rest, the exercise becomes a chronic stressor and the transient rise in leaky gut starts looking more permanent.

Too Many Antibiotics

Antibiotics are great at killing pathogenic bacteria attacking you, but they also tend to be indiscriminate. They do not distinguish between friendly bactieria and harmful bacteria in your gut biome. The broad spectrum antibiotics we commonly take also wipe out the bacteria living in our guts, leading to gut bacteria imbalances and poor gut function.

After addressing the major causes of poor gut health, is there anything you should avoid eating? Are there foods you should focus on eating to improve your gut health?

What Are the Worst Foods for Gut Health?

The worst foods for gut health are no surprise to regular readers of this site, but that doesn’t make them any less important to avoid.

Refined Carbohydrates

When we eat refined carbs like grains or sugar, glucose is immediately released into the digestive tract, increasing the concentration of carbohydrate available to your gut biome. This concentrated influx of dense carbohydrate into the gut produces an inflammatory microbial population that increases production of bacterial endotoxin and increases leaky gut. Meanwhile, the lack of prebiotic fiber means your beneficial gut bacteria have no food to consume.

Gluten

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, causes your body to release zonulin—a chemical messenger that tells your intestinal junctions to open up. Many people can handle this increase in zonulin, but if you’re already suffering from poor gut health or are sensitive to gluten, the zonulin response may be strong enough to trigger leaky gut.

What Are the Best Foods for Gut Health?

  • Fermentable fiber
  • Chocolate
  • Berries
  • Red wine
  • Skin, bones, and broth
  • Fermented foods
  • Resistant starch
  • Meat
  • Pistachios
  • Onions, garlic, and leeks

Fermentable fiber

Without food, your gut bacteria suffers. And the best food for your gut bacteria is fermentable fiber, found in many different plants. Asparagus, carrots, Jerusalem artichokes, and alliums like garlic and onions are your best bet.

Chocolate

Besides being delicious, high-cacao dark chocolate is an excellent source of prebiotic fiber (fiber your gut bacteria can consume) and prebiotic polyphenols (plant compounds that also feed your gut bacteria).

Berries

Name a berry and it’s been shown to improve gut health. Strawberries feed the gut biome and improve the gut function of diabetic mice. Blackberries restore gut health and trigger neuroprotective effects. Eating blueberries leads to compositional changes to the gut bacteria linked to improved metabolic health. And black raspberries have been shown to cause “anti-inflammatory” bacterial profiles in the gut.

Red wine

Although too much alcohol can have a detrimental effect on gut health, moderate amounts of red wine polyphenols may have prebiotic effects on the gut bacteria.

Skin, bones, and broth

Skin, bones, and broth offer gut health benefits in a number of ways. First, they provide “animal fiber,” collagenous and gristly substrate that our gut bacteria can digest and prosper on. Next, they offer ample amounts of gelatin, which can help repair damaged gut lining. In a pinch, collagen can fill the gap.

Fermented foods

This is an obvious one, but it’s incredibly important and more complex than you probably think. First of all, fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, pickles, kefir, and dozens of other varieties seed our guts directly with beneficial probiotic bacteria. That has real benefits—though they don’t “form colonies” and you do have to continually eat fermented foods for the full benefit. Some fermented foods also have the ability to “train” your resident bacteria to digest new compounds. One example is fermented milk: in one study it didn’t colonize the gut but led to increased microbial expression of carbohydrate metabolizing enzymes in the existing bacteria.

Resistant starch

Resistant starch isn’t like other starches. Our stomach acid and digestive enzymes cannot break it down, but our gut bacteria can digest it. Multiple studies indicate that resistant starch consumption generally leads to an increase in “beneficial” colonic bacteria and a reduction in “pathogenic” colonic bacteria, including a boost to bifidobacteria and a decrease in firmicutes and a huge boost to butyrate production. The best sources of resistant starch are green (unripe) bananas and raw potato starch.

Meat

Meat usually doesn’t pop up on these lists, but that’s a huge mistake. Red meat especially provides ample B-vitamins required for energy generation and general physiological maintenance, including gut function. It’s a nutrient-dense “safe” food for even damaged guts who need to be careful about the plant foods they eat. And if you’re eating a significant amount of meat, you’ll have less room to eat the refined carbs and refined sugar that really cause gut issues.

Pistachios

Pistachios are the most potent nut for improving gut health. Other nuts like almonds are good too, but pistachios produce  a biome richer in butyrate-secreting bacteria which is extremely beneficial to several body systems.

Onions, garlic, and leeks

Onions, garlic, leeks, and other members of the allium family offer concentrated doses of fructo-oligosaccharides, some of the best-studied and most beneficial fermentable prebiotic fibers in the plant kingdom. Plus, they’re delicious, and humans have been eating them for thousands of years (if not longer).

Some people will react poorly to some of the foods listed in the “Best” section. If your gut health is compromised and your gut bacteria dysfunctional, you may very well have trouble consuming fermentable fiber, resistant starch, berries, and other fibrous foods without bloating, gas, stomach pain, constipation, and diarrhea. Please read my article on FODMAPs to understand how to work around this issue and maintain your gut health.

Thanks for reading, everyone. If you have any questions about gut health or the info contained in this post, let me know down below!

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References

Bell DS. Changes seen in gut bacteria content and distribution with obesity: causation or association?. Postgrad Med. 2015;127(8):863-8.
Tordesillas L, Gómez-casado C, Garrido-arandia M, et al. Transport of Pru p 3 across gastrointestinal epithelium – an essential step towards the induction of food allergy?. Clin Exp Allergy. 2013;43(12):1374-83.
Perrier C, Corthésy B. Gut permeability and food allergies. Clin Exp Allergy. 2011;41(1):20-8.
Foster JA, Mcvey neufeld KA. Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression. Trends Neurosci. 2013;36(5):305-12.
Hidalgo-cantabrana C, Gómez J, Delgado S, et al. Gut microbiota dysbiosis in a cohort of patients with psoriasis. Br J Dermatol. 2019;181(6):1287-1295.
Allen JM, Mailing LJ, Niemiro GM, et al. Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2018;50(4):747-757.
Petersen C, Wankhade UD, Bharat D, et al. Dietary supplementation with strawberry induces marked changes in the composition and functional potential of the gut microbiome in diabetic mice. J Nutr Biochem. 2019;66:63-69.
Marques C, Fernandes I, Meireles M, et al. Gut microbiota modulation accounts for the neuroprotective properties of anthocyanins. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):11341.
Lee S, Keirsey KI, Kirkland R, Grunewald ZI, Fischer JG, De la serre CB. Blueberry Supplementation Influences the Gut Microbiota, Inflammation, and Insulin Resistance in High-Fat-Diet-Fed Rats. J Nutr. 2018;148(2):209-219.
Pan P, Lam V, Salzman N, et al. Black Raspberries and Their Anthocyanin and Fiber Fractions Alter the Composition and Diversity of Gut Microbiota in F-344 Rats. Nutr Cancer. 2017;69(6):943-951.
Mcnulty NP, Yatsunenko T, Hsiao A, et al. The impact of a consortium of fermented milk strains on the gut microbiome of gnotobiotic mice and monozygotic twins. Sci Transl Med. 2011;3(106):106ra106.
Haenen D, Zhang J, Souza da silva C, et al. A diet high in resistant starch modulates microbiota composition, SCFA concentrations, and gene expression in pig intestine. J Nutr. 2013;143(3):274-83.
Martínez I, Kim J, Duffy PR, Schlegel VL, Walter J. Resistant starches types 2 and 4 have differential effects on the composition of the fecal microbiota in human subjects. PLoS ONE. 2010;5(11):e15046.
Liu Z, Lin X, Huang G, Zhang W, Rao P, Ni L. Prebiotic effects of almonds and almond skins on intestinal microbiota in healthy adult humans. Anaerobe. 2014;26:1-6.
Ukhanova M, Wang X, Baer DJ, Novotny JA, Fredborg M, Mai V. Effects of almond and pistachio consumption on gut microbiota composition in a randomised cross-over human feeding study. Br J Nutr. 2014;111(12):2146-52.
Gibson GR. Dietary modulation of the human gut microflora using prebiotics. Br J Nutr. 1998;80(4):S209-12.

 

The post 6 Signs of an Unhealthy Gut, 7 Likely Causes & the Best Foods for Gut Health appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Folks, I have been grateful for every story that has come my way over the years. It’s an incredible privilege being on the receiving end of your reflections and evolutions, and they are why I’ve kept at it all these years—knowing the message and information have made a difference in people’s lives. I appreciate every single one. I’ll add that today’s has inspired me on a new level. It’s a powerful narrative and huge testament to the impact of diet and lifestyle on our mental well-being. Thank you to reader, Megan, for sharing her strength, tenacity and hope with others today. 

Hi everyone. Mark recently requested success stories and work-in-progress stories. I’ve been meaning to write for a while, and took that to be my personal kick in the butt. I am a work-in-progress story. I was waiting until I was a success story, but as you will see even though my journey isn’t complete, I already am a success story. I have found inspiration from other stories, even the work-in-progress and failure stories; it is good to see that imperfections exist, and it is ok to fail. I can only hope to inspire others. Because, my story is one of hope—hope for myself and hope for others like me.

I had a difficult upbringing with a mother who had an undiagnosed and unmedicated mental illness. She tried the best she could to be a mother, but she was overly critical toward me and even competitive with me. I would hide in the outdoors, books and food. Secretly eating a bag of cookies by myself or hiding Halloween candy that I would binge off of when she wasn’t looking. I lived solely off macaroni and cheese for dinner (yes, every night) for about a year and a half in fourth and fifth grade until I suddenly couldn’t stomach the smell anymore (At 40, I still can’t to this day). Friends in middle school and high school thought it was amusing how hyper I would get from sugar and would feed me pixie sticks and other candies on purpose. You would think that I was extremely overweight with these eating habits, but I was active as a child through high school (marching band, track, hiking, cycling) and looked every bit the “normal kid,” albeit an emotionally scarred one; I was happy and bubbly on the exterior but falling apart inside. I was regularly sick with sinus infections or bronchitis. When I hit puberty, my mother’s criticism’s turned to fat shaming me even though I was actually technically underweight. I refused to eat healthy foods as a way to rebel against my mom. I excelled in school and read more books than ever as a way to escape.

I started to exhibit signs of a mood disorder when I was in high school with extreme bouts of depression and some episodes of rage, typically around “that time of the month.” The beginnings of grandiose ideas also manifested, on occasion. The depression was severe enough for me to have suicidal ideations, but no actual attempts. The depressive lows continued into college, but then the highs started to come. I would not be able to sleep until 3 or 4 in the morning and then wake up ready to go at 6 am for days on end. Then I would crash and swing back to extreme lows and want to sleep for hours. I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I went to the health fair at school. On a whim I filled out a “how are you feeling questionnaire.” I checked off a few boxes, handed it over and thought nothing of it. I was so used to feeling the mood swings; including extreme depression that I thought that feeling that way was “normal.” The staff at the tent looked over the results and was so concerned that they would not let me leave. They walked me right over to the mental health clinic to get checked out. That fall (2000), I was diagnosed with Bipolar I. Around the same time I also was diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and began thyroid hormone support.

Enter a series of different cocktails of psychiatric medications. My weight yo-yo’d along with all the side effects of the various medications (mood stabilizers, anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines). I continued to have all the classic symptoms of Bipolar I, grandiose ideas, paranoia, severe depression, anxiety. I wouldn’t allow myself to have a credit card because I couldn’t trust that I wouldn’t spend the whole thing in a matter of a couple of months. I made one major attempt to take my life by intentionally overdosing on about 40 slow-release lithium tablets (please do not try this; after dialysis I am lucky to be alive and not a vegetable). I was also hospitalized on several occasions for short inpatient psychiatric treatment stays. I didn’t have many friends because I wasn’t stable enough to be a reliable friend. People didn’t know how to behave around me and treated me differently, like someone who needed extra care instead of just like anyone else. I went through various cocktails of medications and found I responded better to the older, but that I was never truly “stable.” I tell this part of my life story not to shock, but to say that there is hope for healing. I want to show how far I have come and how far it is possible for others to go by adopting the Primal Blueprint. Photo: me in 2007 after several years of medication.

I went back and forth with running over the years as a way to lose the weight that the medications put on. Running also became an addiction and a meditation for me; a different way to escape reality. Add in my rescue border collie to run with, and I was in heaven. Running with her was my happy place. It saw me through broken friendships, a divorce and meeting the incredibly supportive and loving husband I have been with for the past 10 years. On the first date I told him my diagnosis, and he said “ok, let’s do this.” My friends told me I was crazy to tell him. I guess they didn’t know my diagnosis…. Photo: happy wedding day. (Me in 2013.)

Without realizing it, running made me sick with more inflammation. I ran six half marathons and one full marathon before quitting due to severe tendonitis in one ankle. At this point I was frustrated. I had been heavily medicated for over 15 years and never really felt well; I felt like I was hiding behind a veil and not letting people see my true self. I started doing research on scholarly articles for how gluten and casein could play a role in exacerbating mood disorders. I decided to eliminate gluten from my diet. Within a week my husband asked where my stomach had gone. I had been so bloated for as long as I could remember that I thought it was normal.

Nursing my ankle back to health and still feeling frustrated, I continued with my research and somehow stumbled on Mark’s Daily Apple in early 2016. AND IT ALL CLICKED. The pieces of the puzzle finally came together. The health and environmental impacts of following the PB made complete sense and I was all in. I was already GF, but I started adopting more of the PB principles. We bought organic grass-fed meats from the local farm, ate organic veggies. I ditched process foods and sugar. I stopped drinking caffeine. I identified that gluten, caffeine and sugar gave me anxiety, and that dairy gave me depression. I eventually also ditched alcohol, which I realized also caused depression and sleep disturbances. I went from brittle nails to being irritated with how often I had to trim them. The extra 25 pounds slowly fell off over the next year and a half. I was on the lowest maintenance doses of my medications ever. My period was normal for the first time in my life ever, regular and with no PMS.

This is me on vacation in St. Croix in 2017 – I’m at my healthiest ever but still medicated.

I was doing kundalini yoga at the time and without realizing the power of the practice, I put myself into a manic state. Despite my pleas not to, I finally agreed with the psychiatrist to go back on Zyprexa. This medication destroyed my gut microbiome I had worked so hard to repair, and I gained 20 pounds back in a matter of two months. Once I was off the Zyprexa, I continued to eat Primally, but not as well as I had been. My psychiatrist is thankfully one who is a bit more progressive than most. He listened to me tell him that I felt like I was pinging back and forth on low doses of mood stabilizers to anti-depressants. He decided to take me off medication and see what happens. After 17 years of psychiatric medications, I took my last dose Thanksgiving of 2017. If that isn’t a success story, then I don’t know what is.

A year and a half later, I am still struggling to lose the weight, and have my periods back to normal. I struggle with sleep on a regular basis. I am working with a naturopath to identify supplements that support the methylation pathway issues we identified, and sleep is slowly normalizing. But I am still off psychiatric medication and my thyroid hormone medication dose has slowly been lowered by a third of what it was two years ago. I have had no paranoia, and no mania. I have not been hospitalized in almost three years. I have had only minor bouts of depression, mostly associated with hormones.

I can’t do the 80/20 rule like most folks can and am much closer to a 100% rule. That works for me, but doesn’t work for everyone. I do not eat gluten, except for maybe one special “treat” while on vacation once or twice a year. I do not eat dairy. I meditate and practice mindfulness and compassion. I do yoga, hike, walk, play with my dogs, and do body weight exercises when I am up for them. I use a kettlebell for my sprints once every week or two. I run a 5k once a month to get my running in but won’t allow myself to do more than that. I have embraced minimalist shoes 100% of the time, if I am not allowed to be barefoot (happy ankles and feet again). I have slowly been reducing my need for glasses for myopia. I began removing environmental toxins from my life years before I discovered the PB. Allergies are less severe and I have much less frequent sinus infections, and, when I get them I recover much quicker. So, while I feel like I am struggling to get back to where I was and feeling really frustrated, I have to remind myself that I already am a success story. My psychiatrist now jokes that I am a boring person for him and has discussed discharging me. He asked what I think precipitated the illness. I really don’t know the answer, but my guess is an unchecked thyroid condition (my antibodies were negative the one time I checked, so I don’t know if I have an autoimmune condition), a really bad diet, emotional trauma as a child and extreme stress. I don’t know the answer, but I guess it doesn’t really matter because I have a way to manage my symptoms.

This is me in the early morning after hiking to the top of Moro Rock in Sequoia NP in 2018. Feeling healthy and happy being medication free! Mark, my husband, my dogs, my family, my friends and I thank you for saving my life. My psychiatrist told me several years ago that of all the people he treats with Bipolar I, only about 25% are able to function in society (complete college and hold a successful and functional place in the career world/society). Statistics indicate that I would have eventually either taken my life or the psychiatric medications would have done it for me. Thank you again for saving my life and giving hope to others. I’ve often been told that I am strong to have been through so much and made it this far. My husband tells me how much he admires that I get up and face the world every day even though all I want to do is curl up with the dogs and a book in bed. He asked if I was scared what people might say if they found my story. It doesn’t matter. I’ve found that people are too quick to dismiss me because of a label. I’m sick of being a label and an outcast. If my story is out there and can help one person, then I feel fulfilled. Because maybe someone else is out there looking for another way, but they can’t find it because someone didn’t speak up to tell them that there might be. I really appreciate you giving me a way to take back control of my life. Thank you for giving me the means to help myself. Hopefully my story can provide help and hope for others.

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The post Feeling Happy and Healthy, Medication-Free appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Yup, success stories are back! And I’m looking for more. Follow-ups, mid-progress reflections—every story at every stage has the potential to inspire folks out there who are getting started or contemplating a new beginning. Contact me here to share your story. You never know who you’ll impact by doing it. Enjoy, everybody!

One of my greatest passions since early adulthood has been health and fitness. Yet, I can honestly say that my health has had its fair share of ups and downs over the last 35 years.

My generation played outside…we didn’t have computers back then. I participated in sports, I was very active, and I was lean and strong. My work was also very physical, so I stayed fit until my early 30s. A progressive shoulder injury ultimately led me to a sales career. I then discovered a hidden talent: the ability to pack on weight…60 pounds in less than 3 months. This also led to foot, ankle, knee, hip and lower back issues.

In 2002, I became a personal trainer. In 2003, I also started coaching. In the beginning of my career, I took my clients through brutal workouts, but over time I switched to workouts designed to alleviate pain and correct muscular and skeletal imbalances.

In 2009, I discovered The Primal Blueprint. This was the greatest health and fitness concept I’d ever come across, and it took my health and fitness to an entirely new level.

At the time the Paleo/Primal diet flew in the face of conventional wisdom. Ten years later, it’s practically mainstream…because it made perfect sense and because it flat out works! Over the next 5 years, my strength and energy levels increased as the body fat decreased. Life was good.

And then suddenly, it wasn’t.

From June 2014 – May 2015, I was crushed by some major life challenges. As a result, I suffered from depression and emotional eating and drinking. I had officially hit rock bottom! By May 2015, I had lost most of my strength gains and a lot of muscle mass, but I had ballooned up to 220 pounds. At this point I had enough. I needed a change. I needed to start over.

In July 2015, I moved to Portland, Oregon, which proved to be one of the best things I had ever done. I started working out again, and I became extremely active. I was back on track!

I found myself adhering more and more to the Primal Blueprint Laws once again. After going Primal again, by November 2016, I had lost 90 pounds of body fat, and I added back some muscle. For the first time in my life I had 6-pack abs…at the age of 53! And I’ve kept it off!

In the fall of 2017, I discovered Primal Health Coach Certification program. I was officially certified in early 2018. Since I already had a fitness background, this was an absolute no-brainer for me! The Primal lifestyle changed my life, and I decided to make it my mission to help others as well. I’ve overcome many obstacles: physical issues, chronic pain, rapid weight gain, depression, emotional eating, food addiction and alcoholism.

Since receiving my certification…

What I have learned through the Primal Health Coaching program has allowed me to serve all types of clients, with different needs, at a higher level than I ever dreamed possible. Since graduating, I’ve been building my health coaching business, creating my website, posting on social media and reaching out to friends, family and past clients for referrals. But the best thing I’ve done is to network with a local chiropractor. One of my areas of expertise is pain reduction, so this was a great fit for both of us.

Rick Stype, PHC

The post Overcoming Life’s Obstacles With Primal Living appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My name is Garland Niblett and I am a nutritional consultant and co-owner of Fit & Faithful Wellness. This is my story.

In 2011 I was admitted to the Veterans Affairs hospital and diagnosed with PTSD. From there, I basically gave up on myself, both mentally and physically. I was once a 195 lbs., 3% body fat natural bodybuilder; and then, while I was in the VA hospital, I became a 301 lbs. “unrecognizable” individual. I had become overweight and was even classified as morbidly obese.

Benztropine, diazepam, cholecalciferol, Etodolac, methocarbamol, mirtazapine, amlodipine, aripiprazole, prazosin, quetiapine, and simvastatin. These were all prescribed to me while I was in the hospital. I had plenty of psychiatrists and psychologists but ultimately, I connected with a holistic therapist who helped me accept what happened to me in my past and how to manage my PTSD. Since 2016, I have managed to use only quetiapine for sleep.

By accepting my PTSD, I was able to move forward with my life. My therapist taught me how to be mindful about what was around me, emotionally, mentally and of course, nutritionally. I was more conscious of what I was putting in my body. In 246 days, I was able to lose 105 lbs. I felt great, but I fluctuated with my weight and wanted to find a better approach to maintaining my weight without restrictions. I was used to consuming over 5,000 calories, spread out during the day, eating most of my calories in the morning. During this time, I wasn’t overweight, but I still had chronic pain throughout my body. My stomach was constantly upset, bloated and felt sore from my workouts and daily movement.

Looking into the research on Intermittent Fasting, I became fascinated and wondered if this would work for me. And so, the journey of fasting began.

I started with the basic 16/8, giving up my 2,000-caloric breakfast. I struggled and was a bit hungry and moody but was persistent and did not give into my cravings. Soon thereafter, I was doing 18/6, 20/4 and now, 24-48 hours fasting. I noticed a momentous change with my body composition but most importantly, I felt great. I had more energy, an incredible amount of endurance and basically no soreness or inflammation. I had become Fat Adapted. No hunger cravings, stable mood and plenty of energy. My average blood sugar levels are 64 ml/dl, with mental clarity, balanced hormones, low inflammatory levels and a healthy stress response. My current weight is 195 lbs. and I have maintained this weight for the past two years.

Intermittent Fasting has been part of life now for over two years. Before intermittent fasting, my weight fluctuated from 220-240 lbs. I would have never thought it would be possible for me to run 8-10 miles in the morning and not desire food until later in the evening. No muscle loss but plenty of body fat reduction. I truly believe that fasting may be an alternative for individuals that are seeking healthier lifestyle options, weight loss, better mood and mental awareness.

I recommend intermittent fasting to my clients that struggle with weight loss, type 2 diabetes, and if they have chronic inflammation. I also recommend to my clients that they read The Primal Blueprint and The Keto Reset Diet, which talk about fasting and being mindful of the nutrients you choose to put in your body.

Intermittent fasting is amazing and since the beginning of this year I no longer have to rely on Quetiapine to help me sleep. I am now 100% medication free, thanks to intermittent fasting.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post Fasting Gave Me a Better Approach To Maintain My Weight Without Restrictions appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I wanted to send an update since my last success story that you shared. But for the sake of the success stories (and first-time readers), I’ll give a little background info as well.

I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease back in 2000 at the young age of 13. For many years, I had many health-related ups and downs, and I was constantly in and out of remission. Not only did I suffer from painful gut-related issues, but I suffered from many other side-effects as well such as liver issues, extreme migraines, depression, thyroid nodules, rashes, and fragile hair and nails.

Since the day I was diagnosed, my GI doctor had me on pharmaceuticals which he would increase or change when I got flare-ups. I spent my youth in and out of doctor’s offices, hospitals, and urgent care centers getting poked at, screened and examined. I usually left in tears, hopeless, told that I would always have to be on medications.

Fast forward to the beginning of 2017 when I met my Holistic Nutritionist. She introduced me to Functional Medicine. She immediately recommended a change in diet—something NO doctor had even mentioned to me before! And she added specific supplements to my protocol, supplements in which my body was lacking and completely depleted of because my gut wasn’t absorbing nutrients.

She started me on the path of Holistic Health: eating right and natural methods to take care of my body and ailments. Within the first couple of months I started feeling better, and after 6 months I was in remission.

One of the first things I changed was my diet. I started on a Paleo/Autoimmune Protocol, and things continued getting better from there. I started doing my own research, and that’s when I discovered Mark Sisson, the Primal Blueprint and Mark’s Daily Apple!

Mark’s recipes and informative articles helped me a lot. He’s a huge inspiration to me. Not only is going Primal one of the better health decisions I’ve made, but his recipes are deliciously amazing as well. I truly enjoy being in the kitchen…something I used to dread!

Since following the Primal Lifestyle, I’ve become healthier than ever before. I stay active, eat right and nourish my body with HEALTHY choices, get outdoors, and try to maintain a positive mentality.

I’m no longer depressed, sick, or thin—in fact, I can’t even remember the last time I was “stay-at-home-in-bed” sick! I’ve been off ALL pharmaceuticals for 17 months! I have energy all day long and I’ve been able to travel abroad without any issues; this past summer I spent 1 month volunteering on an organic herbal farm in Portugal, afterwards I went to the Austrian Alps, and then flew across continents to meet my husband in Cartagena, Colombia to visit his family. I traveled all summer without a single Crohn’s flare-up or getting sick. Traveling like that is something I’d never been able to do before switching my lifestyle.

The knowledge I’ve learned—and continue to learn—helps me maintain my current health, and I’m incredibly thankful to all my health “teachers” out there, including you, Mark!

Because I’m a true believer in Holistic/Functional Health, I started a collaborative health blog called Honor Thy Gut to get the word out that holistic healing does work. I like to share uplifting stories, tips and advice that has helped me heal. I encourage my readers to add to the conversation as well! My articles are often inspired by Mark Sisson, Dr. Mark Hyman, Dr Axe, John Douillard, among many others.

Happy Healing to you all!

Larissa Nowak-Lobo

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post After Six Months I Was In Remission appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My primal story all started while hiking one day back in 2009. Hiking has always been more than exercise for me. It has always been a place to clear my thoughts and think of new ideas. On a late summer day when hiking one of my favorite trails, I asked myself the question. “What would I eat if I lived out here?” I took a mental inventory: pine nuts, rabbits, chipmunks, some berries, and a deer if I was lucky. I started thinking that nothing out in the wild really represented anything I would find at my local store. I would have a hard time finding rabbit and chipmunks at the Mega-Mart, if you know what I mean.

This idea sparked my interest so much I went home and started searching everything online I could find on wild human diets etc. and eventually landed on Mark’s Daily Apple. I was hooked from the first words I read. (I eventually read all of Mark’s books too). I was all in from that day forward. I told my wife I finally figured it out, she said “what” I said “everything” and I told everyone. It all became so clear to me. Not just the diet but the lifestyle in general. It seemed the Primal Blueprint answered all of the problems of modern living.

I started cleaning out the pantry, went grocery shopping, and the next day and started my new life. It was really that easy to be honest. I had a bit of a headache and a few cravings here and there, but after that it was smooth sailing.

At the time I weighed 210 lbs on a large 6’1” frame and thought I was in good health. I hit 185 lbs after the first six months of my life altering experience, and maintained 175 to 185 it for 3 years. I was down 25 lbs, and never felt better. I was hiking about 40 miles a week things were great. All my blood markers were good, my blood pressure was low, and resting heart rate was under 50 bpm. I felt on top of the world, I was invincible.

I maintained the Grok lifestyle until 2012, and then things took a turn. I changed jobs, and moved to Hawaii. Don’t get me wrong—Hawaii was great, but the stress of being so far from family, and the hustle and bustle of a million people on one little island started taking its toll. All the great new foods didn’t help either. Who can’t resist a piece of Haupia Pie now and then? I still followed the primal eating principles for the most part probably 75/25. However things were changing for sure. I started drinking more beer and eating less than ideal (this is not the best way to handle stress). I gained most of the weight back and then some over the next three years.

While living in Hawaii we had a few deaths in the family (this was the breaking point really). So my wife and I decided to move back to the Mainland. The job search was on and I ended up taking a position for a company in the same town we lived before. Sounded great, ended up the worst decision I ever made. The job was a terrible fit, high stress, and I never took so many trips to the HR office in my entire life. To compensate for the stress, I started drinking more (if that was even possible), and eating polar opposite of the Primal Diet—SAD. I also quit hiking. Life was going downhill fast.

I finally hit rock bottom (so I thought). It was late 2015. I had fell off the Primal Wagon and bounced three times. I started having issue with heart palpitations to the point where I would almost pass out. I went to the doctor to get things checked out. The diagnosis was not good. I was up to 233 lbs, had too much bad cholesterol, triglycerides sitting at 180, borderline hypertensive, and well on my way to being a type II diabetic. The good thing through all of this, I was never prescribed any medications, and my echocardiogram looked good.

In the spring of 2016 after a year and a half of pure hell, I quit that horrifying job without notice. The good news, the heart palpitations went away almost the next day, and I slept better than I have for a few years. I started hiking again off and on but I would get a lot of pain in my legs and hips. The bad news, I was drinking even more beer.

Unemployment was not treating me well and I was in a really dark place. Death was not out of the question and an option for me. After 6 months of beer drinking and unemployment I blimped out to 245 POUNDS. I was fat, had leg and joint pain and just wasn’t there mentally. I was afraid to go to the doctor and get things checked out. I really thought the end was near. Then the end of 2016 I interviewed for a great job at a good company and got it. The position started in January 2017. I’m just grateful a good company took a chance on a fat unemployed alcoholic.

I have to admit from 2015 through 2016 had a tremendous negative effect on my family. I don’t wish it on anyone. My wife and kids stood by my side however and supported me, I love them. If not for their support, understanding, and love the difficult times would have been unsurmountable.

2017 was a big year of change, I turned 50, and started getting my head back on straight. I fell off the top of the mountain and needed to start climbing back up. I knew that I needed to make some big lifestyle changes to make the summit. I wanted to be there for my wife, kids, myself, and future grandkids well into my 80s. The first thing I did was quit drinking, cold turkey August 1st 2017. After 25 years of drinking this was one of the most difficult things I have ever undertaken. After I went through that, I figure I can make it through anything!!

After I beating the drinking problem, wanted to start back down the Primal Path. It was difficult at first. I attempted and failed a few times through 2018. Slowly but surely I got back on track. January 7th 2019 I was full on following the Primal Blueprint again. I started with The Keto Reset for the first month and it worked great. I now practice intermittent fasting a few times per week as well. I keep my carb intake around 50 grams per day now. I started at 244 lbs and now I’m down to 220 as of February 18th 2019. My target weight is probably 175 to 180 (this is where I feel best). I’m back on track to hardcore hiking too.

My first grandchild will be born this year and I can’t wait to teach him or her how to live like a Grok Child (payback for my daughter’s teen years). I have also enrolled in the Primal Health Coach Institute, I’m just over 30% complete. I plan on coaching, and helping people for the next 25 years or more. I first need to pass the comprehensive and challenging course however. The Primal Blueprint was great for me the first time. The second time is personal, and I never plan on looking back. I am looking forward to living a happy healthy life well into the future.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post Falling Off the Mountain and Climbing Back Up appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

On November of 2017 I sent a story to Mark’s Daily Apple. A brief story of my life at the time and how I got there. I’ve re-read that letter a couple of times and I’ve thought maybe I should have waited or I should have said more, so I thought maybe an update from then to now would be helpful.

My primal story started as a diet and exercise program, I needed to get back into shape so I hit the gym, or in my case hit the treadmill in my garage, and went on a diet. I did what everyone else does when they want to lose weight and “get healthy.” If you read my original story and look at the pictures, I figured it out. I lost 60 pounds total and improved my numbers to a point my doctor was amazed at my results. I completed the Primal Health Coach course, and Mom loved to hear about what I was learning.

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Everything was great, well almost everything. My mom’s health was declining fast, she was slowly losing her battle with cancer. My sisters and I started staying weekends with her to spend as much time as possible with her, we would drink wine, and talk about the past and laugh about all the crazy things we did. My brother-in-law would come down about once a month and bring steaks, and we would grill over a grate in the fireplace and drink beer and wine and laugh. Mom couldn’t really eat that much anymore, but we had a lot of fun.

I started going to visit every day after work, and I’d grab a bag of chips and a case of beer to have when I got there, a candy bar or two for the way there. Eventually mom needed 24-hour care so she moved in with my sister in Michigan, but I still went every day to take care of the house. In April my mom lost her battle with cancer. My sisters and I would get together as much as we could to get the house ready to sell, and finalize the estate. I was there everyday—as the executor I felt I had to keep things moving and get everything done. I would buy beer and snacks and a bottle of whisky for when I was there….

I thought it was important to share that story because it’s real. During that time I gained 10 pounds, my cholesterol was high again and my sugar was elevated. Luckily for me I know how to correct all those issues and have. I failed where everyone on a diet fails—when the diet stops. The part I missed was the rest of life. Diet is important but even a perfect diet will fail without stress management. My stress management was alcohol, my comfort zone, and we all know your body burns alcohol first. I got off track and used my life problems as an excuse. Sometimes even a coach needs some coaching. This has kind of been a failure story instead of a success story, but I’m still writing.

I’ve taken what I learned from the Primal Health Coach Institute, and have started to develop my own brand, “Primal Hippie.” I started a very easy to read blog “primalhippie.net.” I blog a lot about stress from daily life and ideas how to manage that stress. I’ve taken the laid back, have fun attitude and mixed it with some nutrition advice and tried to aim it towards the younger generation because it’s easier to prevent disease than to cure it.

It’s very obvious to me that the trend towards living a holistic healthy life is happening, the amount of available, affordable, organic foods is on the rise. The merging of major food giants with small health-minded companies is another great step—great work Mark. There is even some common ground being found with the paleo/vegan world. This trend is still very personal to me. Since my first post, four more friends of mine have been diagnosed with cancer, one is currently non-responsive. I hear a lot about all the advances in medicine, and yet here we are. It’s time to educate the young people, and make healthy foods the norm not the exception.

Thanks Mark for all your passion and effort and giving me the chance to share my story, Grok on!

Bradley Nickell

PrimalHippie.net

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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The post Even a Perfect Diet Will Fail Without Stress Management appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

I am so excited to share my story with you, and I hope you enjoy reading it! I have always been the health researcher, fitness enthusiast and nutrition-focused one in my family. My whole life I followed the “healthy diet”—low fat, whole grain, lots of fruit, etc. I did research in nutrition as an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, and published a paper in dental school on the dangers of BPA. I have always been investigative and wanting to know the truth behind what is told.

It was during my second year in dental school when my good friend and colleague, Jake, introduced me to CrossFit and the paleo lifestyle. After a workout he said, “OK I’m off to eat half a dozen eggs!” He recalls the look I shot him was one of disbelief and disgust. Shocked was an understatement. “EAT SIX EGG YOLKS!?!?! Have you lost your mind, Jake, seriously, all that cholesterol!” I am sure he tried to reason with me, but I was so skeptical. So that night, I’m sitting in my apartment studying, and Jake sends me a link to www.marksdailyapple.com. It was the first paleo blog I ever read, and is still my go-to today. I remember that I got so caught up reading that I got less studying done, but it was one of those monumental life shifts for which I will always be grateful.

However, I did not immediately jump to 100% strict paleo in 2010. I chose to eat mostly whole foods, but would eat gluten and wheat a few times a week, which I considered balanced. I had graduated from dental school, and I was practicing dentistry in a small boutique, traditional dental office. I was placing and removing significant amounts of amalgam fillings. I had also gotten married, moved in with my husband, and we had bought a house. The emotional, financial, and physical stress I could handle had surpassed my threshold, and in 2015 I became very sick.

After months of bloody stools, running to the bathroom for the tenth time in one day, I finally got over my denial and went to a GI doctor. A colonoscopy confirmed that at age 27, I had ulcerative colitis. My doctor proceeded to recommend that I start six medications. One of them had a chance of landing me in the hospital for months from internal organ swelling. He also said that I had an 80% chance of needing surgery in my lifetime. I looked at him, and said, “Well, wait, what if I change my diet?” His response, “No, changing your diet won’t do anything. All your large intestine does is reabsorb water.” I just stared at him in disbelief. I worked at the opposite end of the body, but even I knew that your gut housed your immune system, and did WAY more than just absorb water!

I refused to let a bunch of drugs and surgery be my fate. I was not going to let anybody put me in a box. I was determined to find another way. And I did. I went 100% paleo, even focused on AIP for a few months. Within 2 weeks of transitioning to a whole-food, gluten-free diet, I came out of my terrible flare and have not had one since.

Getting a grip on my UC symptoms was a miracle, but I still had a long way to go with my healing. I was still sick, malnourished, fatigued all the time, had amenorrhea, couldn’t exercise, always wanted to rest, became socially anxious, etc. I saw multiple doctors from 2015-2016, even getting into National Institute for Health in Bethesda, MD. The top endocrinologists and fertility specialists in the world looked at tens of thousands of dollars of tests, and told me I was the “healthiest unhealthy person we have ever met” and “they didn’t know what was wrong with me” and to “just go back on birth control to make sure you don’t develop osteoporosis.” I refused. I was determined to get to the root cause of my health problems.

I finally found Jessica Flanigan. I did not understand why my Candida antibodies were so high, since I was not eating sugar. I asked Jessica this during one of our appointments, and she said, “Well you know, Mercury feeds off of Candida.” The lectures at dental school had reported that amalgam was safe, and that the mercury becomes “inactivated” once you burnish it. Jessica proceeded to give me information on biologic dentistry through the IAOMT and IABDM. I felt like a precious secret had just been revealed to me, one that I knew was going to change my life forever. I discovered that conventional dentistry was not safe. In fact, mercury is one of the most dangerous neurotoxins on this planet. I still wonder if mercury was the environmental trigger for the UC diagnosis. On Mark’s Daily Apple, you talk about the dangers of amalgam fillings. My functional medicine doctor, as well as Chris Shade from Quicksilver Scientific, confirmed my mercury poisoning. In addition, my functional doctor diagnosed hypothyroidism, HPA-axis dysfunction, vitamin deficiencies, chronic infection, certain genetic snps, and more.

I felt terribly guilty that I had placed amalgam and unsafely removed amalgam fillings in patients. As a doctor you take an oath to do no harm. It was impossible for me to continue working in a conventional office after seeing how damaging mercury was to my health and to my patients’ health. As quickly as possible, I moved from a conventional office to a biologic dental office. In 2016 I pursued additional degrees, graduating from American College of Integrative Medicine and Dentistry with certifications in Integrative Biologic Dental Medicine (IBDM), and as a naturopathic physician (NMD) in 2017. Since working with my functional practitioners, and getting into a safer working environment I am well on my way to being healed from a long list of diagnoses.

I have been so moved and transformed by my journey, that I am launching my business as a functional dental and holistic health practitioner consulting with patients who have not been able to find healing through conventional medicine. I focus on using the latest research and scientific protocols to help my clients heal autoimmune conditions, adrenal dysfunction, diving in deep to the microbiome, and the oral-systemic connection at www.beyondpearlywhites.com. The gut is the largest organ with multiple common insults that can lead to dysfunction. Normalization of the gut results in the most effective clinical outcomes across all disease states, which is why I am focusing on the gut, head to tail. Focusing on my gut health has transformed my life, and I am back to my energetic bubbly self, sharing my knowledge, helping my friends and family, exercising, socializing, and enjoying every moment of our beautiful world.

I often think back to that day that Jake introduced me to paleo, and how God blessed me with information on where to go for the truth. My sickness and my journey have been an absolute gift, for I would not be where I am without these difficult experiences. My mission is to help as many people as possible overcome what appears to be impossible, as I have overcome it. Thank you, Mark and Mark’s Daily Apple for being a cornerstone in my journey, providing life-saving information, and for creating delicious whole food products that keep us all living, loving, and enjoying life. I am so hopeful and excited to see what our futures hold in shaping the lives of our readers!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

The post Focusing On My Gut Health Has Transformed My Life appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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It’s Monday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

My first MDA Success Story was published in June 2016. Towards the end I said “My story isn’t over. It is just beginning.”

Those words couldn’t be more true.

That success story was about overcoming decades of chronic cystic acne, along with digestive issues and anxiety.

And the Primal lifestyle truly helped me to accomplish all of that. After decades as a vegetarian, pescetarian, and sometimes raw vegan, making a gradual transition to a Primal diet really changed my life.

The big thing for me was the acne. It’s painful enough to grow up with it, but for me it never really went away, despite every prescription drug in the book. There were even three rounds of Accutane along with some horrible side effects. Removing grains and dairy and adding animal protein and fat back into my diet reduced the inflammation very quickly, and within about a month my skin looked dramatically different.

At the same time my skin was miraculously clearing up, my sometimes debilitating digestive issues and anxiety quietly left the room.

And if my story ended there, it would have been a happy ending.

But things just keep getting better.

At the age of 51, my energy levels have increased and I have better body composition than ever. But it’s so much more than that. I’m more adventurous, confident, creative and intuitive.

Since my last success story was published, I’ve gradually transitioned to a keto lifestyle. I refer to it as “borderline keto” since I do not track or measure anything. I know that works great for some people, I just don’t care for it. But by increasing the healthy fats and moderating the protein I feel even more focused and energetic. Even though I had already made the switch, reading The Keto Reset Diet was helpful, and I’ve recommended it to so many people.

I’ve also completed my Primal Health Coach certification (even though I had another health coaching certification under my belt already.) I believe so strongly in the value of this lifestyle and want to learn everything I can, so I continue to educate myself by attending events like Paleo f(x) and reading everything I can get my hands on. I’m also taking my first digital cooking class, Paleo Cooking Bootcamp, and loving it.

When my last success story was published I had been writing a blog called “happy, healthy and hot” for about six months. It was mostly recipes and natural beauty tips presented in a playful, sassy style.

As I wanted to share my message with more people, I started posting on Instagram as well (@happyhealthyandhot_elizabeth), and eventually started sharing more of my lifestyle, including travel, fashion, personal development, and short videos showing easy workouts that I do at home (many times with a cameo appearance by my dog). I used to be a very private person, but I know that sharing these snapshots of my day to day life can show how easy it to live a healthy lifestyle.

I’ve also been featured on other health related websites and have been interviewed for podcasts, including the Primal Blueprint Podcast. Love sharing the happy, healthy and hot message with as many people as I can.

I truly believe that everyone deserves to look and feel amazing, and the Primal lifestyle is a great way to start. Living this way should be fun and easy…if it feels like a chore you’re not doing it right!

What started out as a little health blog is organically growing into a lifestyle brand with followers from all over the world.

Is my life perfect? Absolutely not. During this time I’ve dealt with some major personal challenges just like everyone else. But I’ve come out of them stronger than ever.

People are always asking me what I eat. Here’s a typical day… I start with lemon water and coffee. I always blend Collagen Peptides or Collagen Fuel (vanilla is my fave) into the coffee. There’s usually a blended green drink too…typically something like spinach or baby kale and fresh lemon.

A few hours later I get hungry for some real food, and might make eggs with leftover veggies, or just eat leftovers from the night before.

A second meal will be another form of protein…fish and beef are my favorites and a bunch of non starchy veggies. For example, today I had salmon, roasted brussels sprouts and avocado as a late lunch. Salmon or sardines make an appearance a few times a week…love what they do for my skin.

I’ve tried intermittent fasting but don’t do it on a regular basis. Instead, I just try to listen to my body and eat when I’m truly hungry. Lately I find myself eating two meals rather than three, and maybe having some small snacks.

Most days I’ll have a few squares of super dark chocolate or some type of Paleo “treat,” especially if I’m trying out a new recipe for happy, healthy and hot. Totally enjoy dry red wine from time to time too.

I’m not really into supplements, with the exception of using Collagen Peptides in some form every single day of my life. I’ve been doing this for years, and my skin is firmer now at the age of 51 than it was ten years ago. I also think the collagen keeps me from getting sore when I work out. Some nights I take a magnesium supplement before bed, and the only multi I will take is Primal Master Formula.

I don’t belong to a gym, although I have in the past. For now, I feel great doing some simple workouts at home (love my boss ball) and my dog forces me to get out and walk every single day. Working part time as a bartender is pretty physical too.

There are two things I plan to add this year to increase my fitness: sprinting and pull-ups. I learned so much about the value of sprinting in the Primal Health Coach course, but still haven’t made it part of my fitness routine. So this is the year! And right now I can’t do a pull up to save my life, but that’s going to change in 2018.

I’ve attached some pics from a recent trip to the Bahamas with my daughter, and one from a recipe I posted on my blog.

So I’ll say it again…my story is just beginning. Life is full of adventure and possibility. Can’t wait to see where the next few years take me. Thanks for reading!

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Monday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!

Primal eating was not a reality for me for a very long time, I did not even hear the words until I was 27. But flash back to when I was 12-years-old, and had just found out that I was 203.2lbs. I remember that number so clearly because of how hard I sobbed that day on the scale at the doctor’s office. When my 8th grade self saw that I had crossed in to 200+lbs, I immediately I lost any self worth. Media in the 90s made it clear that being fat was social destruction and meant that you were “less than.” Living in this culture of perfectionism, I continued to eat and cope with my “imperfections” with sugar addiction and exuberant amounts of terribly processed foods.

Upon entering adulthood, the word “nutrition” alone made me uncomfortable as I did not have any real understanding of what it meant. I was taught and believed that all fat was bad and grains were healthy for my heart, that carbs were evil but these “magical” grains were somehow exempt. When I moved out at 17, I weighed 300lbs and felt miserable. My diet consisted of lunchmeat sandwiches, egg salad, coffee and fast food. I hated my body and avoided mirrors.

I decided that I wanted to make a change. Over the next several years I took the “beat my body in to submission” approach and paired it with diet plan after diet plan. I even took diet pills (now recalled) until the side effects were too much to for me to excuse. I ended up losing 60lbs of weight but at the cost of my adrenal health. I traded in the sugar for coffee and was not sleeping nearly enough for how hard I was working and training.

In 2011, I met and married my wonderful husband. He had previously been a physical trainer, and he helped teach me a lot of what he knew. It helped a lot to understand what he shared with me, but we both still had questions about the science of nutrition and biology. Over the next 6 years, together we sought out the answer for our health and wellness concerns. One of the first sources we came across (after watching ALL the food documentaries ever) was your website. That year, I attended Paleocon online and felt like I was drinking from a firehose. We almost immediately became as primal as possible in our eating and also in our lifestyle and exercise. We both experienced the amazing results. Aside from losing weight and feeling stronger, we noticed our skin and digestive issues were much improved. We were also thinking more clearly, and our sleep was much improved.

In 2015, I gave birth to my son, and over the next year I gained back all of the weight I had lost. Postpartum depression and anxiety encompassed my every day, and I began to spiral in to unhealthy eating once again. By 2016, I was nearing 300lbs again and felt so ashamed of myself. I began to go to therapy regularly and was diagnosed with CPTSD (Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). I began working diligently with my therapist to unpack the trauma and my body responded with anorexia nervosa, which can be a side effect of addressing trauma.

I did not have a dysmorphic issue, however. At the time, I was averted by any food and my throat would restrict if I attempted to swallow. After some time, I wasn’t able to to eat meat due to digestion. However, sticking to a primal way of eating at the time is what kept me out of the hospital when it was difficult to eat. I chose soft foods, and the blender was my bestie. My ability to eat improved, and my diet since then has mainly consisted of all organic Coconut Oil, Ghee, Avocados, Eggs & Sweet Potatoes and other vegetables and some fruits.

I have continued therapy and have stayed dedicated to the same diet with the occasional deviation from my favorite bakery that offers paleo/keto options. Over the past year, have watched my weight plummet (with my Dr.’s supervision) very quickly. I stand here now today 158lbs, and my mind is still catching up with the reality of my transformation. I lost over 100lbs this year.

The combination of therapy and sticking to a primal lifestyle has led me to where I am today. I am still getting to know the woman in the mirror, but I am thankful for where I am every single day. Thank you, Mark, for providing us with a launching pad for our primal journey and for being a constant resource of information and encouragement. You are a part of my success story.

The readers featured in our success stories share their experiences in their own words. The Primal Blueprint and Keto Reset diets are not intended as medical intervention or diagnosis. Nor are they replacements for working with a qualified healthcare practitioner. It’s important to speak with your doctor before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program, and please consult your physician before making any changes to medication or treatment protocols. Each individual’s results may vary.

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