Mind Over Platter: How Beliefs About Food Affect Digestion

Have you noticed a strange phenomenon?

The more extreme the alternative health world becomes about food (meat bad! No, plants bad! Grains bad! No, sugar bad! Leafy greens bad! Dairy bad!) the more people seem to genuinely have trouble digesting those foods?

Why is it that the people trying hardest to be healthy, seem to be struggling more and more with digestive issues?

Because our minds are powerful, that’s why! Consider this:

๐Ÿ‘‰ Parkinson’s patients receiving sham surgery improved more than those receiving the actual treatment (but thought it was just placebo) [PMID: 15066900]. Even medical staff who were not aware the surgery was a sham reported better outcomes in those patients.

๐Ÿ‘‰ People who are (falsely) told they had more sleep than they really did perform better on language and arithmetic tests [PMID: 24417326] than those who believe they had less sleep.

๐Ÿ‘‰ In one study, those who perceived themselves to be less active than others (whether they actually were or not) were 71% more likely to die in the follow-up period, than those who perceived themselves to be more active than others (whether they actually were or not) [PMID: 28726475].

๐Ÿ‘‰ Two groups of participants were told to smell a certain odour. One group of participants were told the odour boosts creativity, and the other group were given no information about the smell. Guess which group subsequently performed better on creativity tests? [PMID: 28892513]

Do we really think our beliefs and anxieties about food doesn’t affect the workings of our digestive system?

In addition, our brain does not differentiate between a real threat or a perceived threat. The body reacts the same to fearful thoughts, as it does to fearful situations – by directing blood away from digestive organs.

If you’re feeling anxious about the food you eat…it’s no wonder it seems to sit in your belly for hours. No wonder it bloats you. And so on and so forth…

Not medical advice. Not denying that true food intolerances and allergies exist (in fact, the root causes of these are the subject of an upcoming ebook I’m putting together). But food for thought, nonetheless.

Zinc is Anti-Depressant

Data from two Australian studies on older adults (55+ yrs) showed those with the highest dietary zinc intake had a 30-50% lower risk of depression [PMID: 25012438]

๐ŸŽฏ A meta-analysis of 17 different studies found that people diagnosed with depression have lower serum levels of zinc, than healthy controls [PMID: 23806573].

๐ŸŽฏ Zinc has been shown to be an effective addition to anti-depressant therapy [PMID: 14730113]. Patients had significantly lower depression scores after 6 & 12 weeks of zinc supplementation compared to placebo.

๐ŸŽฏ Thirty young women were put into two groups. One group received a daily multivitamin, while the other group received multivitamin + zinc. After 10 weeks, those in the zinc group had significantly lower scores on both anger-hostility, and depression ratings [PMID: 20087376].

These โ˜๏ธ are just a handful of the dozens of studies showing the benefits of zinc for mental health. It’s theorised that zinc exerts anti-depressant effects due to its role in regulating the glutamatergic system.

Although I preach often (you know I do!) about zinc, please be aware that zinc supplementation can have its own side-effects down the track, namely copper depletion.

Hence, I choose food first. Highest known source of zinc is oysters and other shellfish, followed (but a long way behind) by red meat, eggs…Im not a fan of the taste + texture of oysters so I take in capsule form. I use Saturee brand which are sourced from Tasmanian waters. (Affiliate link. Use code ‘RADICAL’ for 10% off!)

*Not medical advice. Please do not take yourself off anti-depressant drugs unless under the guidance and advice of a competent healthcare provider. Those drugs are no joke!

But on the other hand, be encouraged that nourishing yourself can and will be beneficial for your mind โค๏ธ

How Late-Night Scrolling Undermines Your Health & Hormones

We know melatonin as our ‘sleep hormone’ but did you know that all light,*especially blue light* (such as LED lights and device screens) after sunset delays and decreases melatonin production?

Melatonin helps to regulate our circadian rhythm, which is so much more than just our sleep/wake cycle. Our reproductive hormones, metabolism and even gene expression are also influenced by the circadian rhythm.

Even our hair growth, for goodness sake!! ๐Ÿ˜ณ (True story)

Melatonin and cortisol have an inverse relationship. When one is high, the other is low, and vice versa. Rising melatonin in the evening (due to our eyes sensing fading light) prepares us for sleep, while rising cortisol in the early morning, prepares us to wake up and face the day.

A circadian rhythm that’s out of whack results in rising cortisol in the evening (a ‘second wind’ at 10pm), and rising melatonin in the morning (sluggish and don’t want to get out bed). Definitely not what we want.

Disruption to circadian rhythm not only feels like perpetual jet-lag, it also contributes to insulin resistance, obesity,, inflammation, and infertility.

Hence, why nightshift workers are at increased risk of diabetes, infertility, heart disease, metabolic disorders, and even cancer.

Binging on Netflix at night starting to look not so tempting, after all ๐Ÿฅด

We all know coffee disrupts circadian rhythm, but researchers have discovered that blue light exposure in the evening delays circadian rhythms 2x more than a double-expresso, three hours before bed …

Be mindful that melatonin supplements provide 10-100x higher levels than our bodies would naturally produce, so instead, consider lifestyle & environmental changes, such as dim lights (red tone) in the evening, and limiting screen time before bed. Make bedroom as dark as possible. Even dim light, such as LED alarm display beside bed, can affect melatonin levels.

Natural melatonin is both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory hormone that helps our body rest and repair while we sleep. We want (need!) this hormone!

Check out Block Blue Light products if you want to minimise blue light, but just ain’t willing to put your phone down in the evening ๐Ÿ˜œ (Free shipping worldwide, on orders over $120 AUD. Use code ‘radical’ for 10% off at checkout.)

How Screens & Devices Age Your Skin

We know too much looking at screens has a negative affect on our eyes. I’ve never had such sore eyes, as when I worked in an office with zero natural lighting, stuck in front of a computer all day.

I did not last long in that job. Blue light glasses were not a ‘thing’ in those days ๐Ÿ˜œ

The reason blue light affects the eyes, is because it induces oxidative stress, which leads to degenerative changes, like those seen in age-related macular degeneration.

But did you know, it’s not just our eyes affected by blue light? Our skin also senses light, and is also negatively affected by blue light exposure (TV, mobile phone/computer, LED/fluorescent lights).

It causes lipid peroxidation in the skin (this will happen to a greater extent, if you eat polyunsaturated fats, like vegetable oils/margarine, because they are unstable in the presence of heat, light and oxygen).

In small amounts, cells respond to oxidative stress by upregulating antioxidant activity, such as glutathione. But when constantly bombarded with oxidative stressors, the cells become damaged. On the skin surface, this looks like wrinkling, sagging, and lipofuscin (age spots/liver spots).

Through the photoreceptors of our eyes and skin, blue light waves even affect our circadian rhythms, hormone levels, female cycle…and even our metabolic rate. Pretty wild, right?! This effect is more pronounced when we are exposed to blue light after sunset.

There’s an program called F.lux (free for personal use) that you can use on computer to block blue light, and even adjust light levels and tone to reflect natural light levels, as per time of day. It’s apparently quite ‘buggy’ on mobile phones, though…

Also, Block Blue Light have blue-light-blocking lightbulbs, night-lamps, and more. (Free shipping worldwide on orders over $99 AUD. Use code ‘radical’ for 10% off at checkout.) I have one of their night-lights, since I often have to get up in the night to little ones, but don’t want to have harsh blue lighting wrecking my sleep hormones! (Let’s face it, mums need all the sleep hormones they can get…)

The older-style incandescent lightbulbs emit light as a result of being heated. Therefore their light is closer to natural lighting. Newer ‘green-energy’ LED’s emit more blue light, as do fluorescent lights. Why many offices/schools use fluorescent lights-to try keep people awake ๐Ÿ˜‰

8 Minerals Required for Thyroid Function

Thyroid disorders are reaching epidemic proportions, and some 5-8x more common in women, than men.

Let’s check out the minerals required to keep this small, but vital organ in working order.

IODINE: Each molecule of thyroxine (T4) contains 4 atoms of iodine, and each molecule of triiodo-l-thyronine (T3) contains 3 molecules of iodine (so, fairly important ๐Ÿ˜‰). A deficiency in iodine can result in goiter, as the thyroid increases its surface size, in a desperate attempt to absorb more iodine.

SELENIUM: The thyroid has the highest selenium content per gram, of all the organs, and expresses specific selenoproteins. Selenium has been shown to decrease anti-thyroid antibodies (which are an indicator of aito-immune conditions, such as Hashimoto’s), and lower the risk of post-partum thyroiditis.

ZINC: Is a co-factor in the conversion of T4 to T3 active thyroid hormone. Zinc is also required for the pituitary to produce Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH), which communicates to the thyroid to produce more thyroid hormones.

MAGNESIUM: We need magnesium for the uptake of iodine, and also conversion of T4 to T3 hormone. Studies show that magnesium supplementation can reduce anti-thyroid antibodies, and normalise TSH levels.

MOLYBDENUM: Thyroid epithelial cells (thyrocytes) contain molybdenum-dependant enzymes. These cells are responsible for production and secretion of thyroid hormones.

MANGANESE: Manganese helps to protect the thyroid gland via the antioxidant activity of Manganese-Superoxide Dismutase, and is required to transport thyroid hormones into the cells.

BORON: The highest concentration of boron is found in the parathyroid glands (two tiny glands, about the size of a grain of rice, embedded in the thyroid) where it helps to regulate calcium and magnesium. However, Boron seems to also play a role in conversion of T4 to T3, and some studies seem to show it increases T3 secretion (but massive doses has the opposite effect).

COPPER: Is required to make the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor to thyroid hormones, where it is bound covalently with iodine.

Everything works together ๐Ÿ™‚

My favourite ways to ensure optimal mineral intake are:

Fulvic Acid. I love Natural Edge Fulvic as it is 21% humic acid and 32% fulvic acid. Some products on the market contain less than 5% humic and fulvic acids. If in doubt, ask to see the company’s LAMAR test results. If you buy Natural Edge Fulvic, use code ‘radical’ at checkout to get 33% off the 3 and 6mth supply packages. (So the 3mth supply will reduce from $149 to $99 AUD (shipping included within Australia), while the 6mth supply pack will reduce from $299 to $199 AUD.

Beef Liver. Natural’s original superfood and multi-mineral. Try Ancestral Nutrition organ superfoods.

Oysters: World’s highest known food source of zinc, but also contains many other trace elements and vitamins. Try NXGEN Wholefoods for pure oyster extract capsules, if not a fan of the taste. These can be easily split open and added to milkshakes or smoothies for children, too, who really need optimal levels of zinc (so long as no shellfish allergies).

Beef Liver: Better Than Botox

Botox (otherwise known as botulism toxin) is one of the most toxic substances known to man – a million times more toxic than a cobra bite.

The commercial products used today came about from experiments at Fort Detrick, in the quest to weaponise botulism toxin during World War 2.

The reason it โ€˜worksโ€™ on wrinkles is because it causes flaccid paralysis of the muscles underneath the skin, relaxing frown lines.

Or (heres a novel thought), you could deal with the underlying pressures that are causing you to tense up, and frown often?

Or (another novel thought) you could address the underlying deficiencies causing your skin to lose elasticity and plumpness?

One of the major causes of sagging, wrinkling skin is lack of bioavailable copper โ€“ either because of frank deficiency, or because the copper is not being used (due to lack of synergistic nutrients).

In the case of the latter, the person will have signs of both copper deficiency (sagging skin, fatigue, varicose veins/haemorrhoids etc) AND signs of copper toxicity (adrenal issues, racing mind, unable to sleep properly). This is because what copper is present, is unbound and wreaking havoc, meanwhile the person lacks bioavailable copper in the form of ceruloplasmin, which has massive implications for iron transport and energy production.

The good news is that the humble beef liver is the worldโ€™s highest known food source of copper.

But more than that, beef liver is also the worldโ€™s highest known food source of Vitamin A (retinol), which we need to make the copper bioavailable. (Only cod liver oil is higher in retinol, but I would consider it a supplement, more than a โ€˜foodโ€™ per se)

And we need zinc to utilise the retinolโ€ฆ.everything works together! Beef liver is not the highest known source of zinc (oysters take that prize), but beef liver does still contain some zinc (approx. 4.5mg per 100g).

For many of us that have not grown up eating organ meats, the taste of liver can be overpowering. I prefer to ‘hide’ it in ground beef dishes. I buy the liver fresh, process in a food processor, than freeze in an ice-cube tray. They can be easily lifted out with a knife and added to beef dishes.

Or a convenient (albeit more expensive) alternative is to take in capsule form. I love Ancestral Nutrition products – they are a small Australian business selling 100% grassfed organ superfood supplements (check out the Primal Energy Women supplement). Use code ‘RADICAL’ for 10% off at checkout.

Nourishing yourself beats poisoning yourself! Always.

PS. Accepting that we are all growing older and finding joy in that journey is also a beautiful thing.

Low Salt Diet Causes Insulin Resistance

Salt. It used to be traded ounce for ounce with gold. We can’t live without it – sodium ions are necessary for nerve conduction and muscle contraction (including that rather important muscle called the heart).

But salt has fallen out of favour in recent decades, mainly because of salt’s effect on blood pressure.
Even in some wellness circles, salt is akin to the devil.

But too little salt has some pretty big implications for our health, too. Numerous studies found that LOW salt intake increased risk of heart attack and stroke mortality.

Too little salt activates the sympathetic nervous system, putting the body into fight-or-flight mode, which has implications for digestion and immune health (+ other things).

Low salt diet activates the Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone-System (RAAS), which causes the body to retain water (and sodium). Hello puffy face, double chin, and puffy ankles!

Low salt diet also leads to low stomach acid.

On top of that, researchers found that a Low-salt diet causes insulin resistance…and it occured within just 7 days of lowering salt intake (PMID: : 21036373).

The authors concluded that “available data do not support universal recommendation for any particular level of dietary salt intake”.

Of course there’s salt and there’s salt. I prefer natural sea salts, and avoid the table variety with anti-caking agents.

If salt causes a rise in blood pressure, it can be because there’s too much sodium *in relation to potassium and/or magnesium*

*Not medical advice*

Healing Mold Illness: What’s Working For Me

For a bit of background, we moved into this house just over three years ago. There was visible black mold in several rooms even then, but I didn’t think too much about it. Just a bit of mold! Clean it, and it will be fine!

Within a few months of living here, I began to experience unexplained weight gain. I thought it was my diet, and started every more restrictive diets and fasting protocols – all to no avail. In fact, probably made it worse.

Hormone imbalance, under-active thyroid, sluggish liver and stressed adrenals all began to show up.

It took me 2.5yrs to figure out what was going on, and only then because myself and younger children (the only members of the family who were home at the time) all fell sick with dry coughs and fevers, after I had cleaned mold off the walls. That’s when I started to investigate mold illness, and join the dots!

We weren’t in a position to move house immediately, given our rural area and lack of available rentals, so I committed to making the best of a bad situation.

In the world of mold illness, there’s this running theme about long-term strict avoidance of mold. Many people move out of their moldy home, and basically toss out all their belongings, and start over again.

But that wasn’t possible for me, in our current location and situation

And the thought of spending the rest of my life, or even the next five years, constantly worrying about whether there’s mold in the bathroom or air-conditioning unit, of every building I step inside, is not something I’m down with.

Too stressful and too unattainable. In my situation, rather than seeking to control outside forces (mold & fungi), I have instead chosen to focus on my inner terrain, and resilience to withstand the outside forces (not just mold and fungi, but all the toxins we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.

This approach has covered a) Increasing nutrition and b) decreasing stress.

A) I’ve been taking 20-40mls of fulvic acid per day, which acts as a binder against some mycotoxins (toxins produced by mold). There’s not a lot of research on this, and what has been done has focused on mycotoxins in livestock feed, nevertheless, it does show binding activity of humic & fulvic acids, and I definitely notice that mold flares subside quickly if I dose on fulvic.

Fulvic also contains 70+ minerals & trace elements to support immune functioning and detoxification pathways. It binds to heavy metals at a rate of 5 – 100x higher than clays (bentonite, etc). This is the brand I use, and it’s very high quality (They are in Australia, but do also ship internationally. Use code ‘radical’ for 33% off the 3mth and 6mth supply products, which makes it very cost-effective)

Also, taking beef liver and oyster capsules, for zinc, Vitamin A and copper (plus many more), all of which help to build the ‘inner armor’ against toxins coming in (including mycotoxins)..

B) Stress lowers our defence system. We all know it. I was trying to do too much, selling products, selling on eBay, trying to grow a following on five different platforms. I had to whittle back a lot of those things. If I stay up too late, I’m vulnerable. It’s not coincidence that my symptoms are more noticeable when I haven’t had enough sleep.

In addition, I do try to minimise spore numbers in the house, via keeping windows open as much as comfortably possible, and keeping on top of house-dust, vacuuming regularly with HEPA vacuum.

Polyester Pants & The Disappearing Alpha Male

Way back in 1992, they tested polyester as a male contraceptive, and guess what?

It was 100% effective.

Fourteen men wore a polyester ‘sling’ around their prized jewels (similar to men wearing polyester underwear) and after an average of 139 days, all 14 men were found to be azoospermic. (In plain English, that means zero sperm. Zilch, Nada. No chance of making babies).

There was also degeneration noted in the tubules. It took approximately 150 days for them to regain fertility, after ceasing to wear the sling.

Polyester (polyethylene terephthalate) belongs to a class of chemicals (phthalates) that are known endocrine-disrupting, in particular, they disrupt testosterone production.

Similar studies were conducted on dogs, with similar results, and showed that polyester decreased testosterone levels.

Another study divided men onto groups wearing different textile underwear. Over the course of 12mths, men wearing polyester underwear had less and less intercourse (they became increasingly impotent/less interested in sex, although the effect was reversible after ceasing to wear polyester underwear).

A similar study on mice found that polyester underwear (however did they wrestle mice into miniature underwear? ๐Ÿ˜…) decreased their potency by a whopping 87%.

Mens testosterone levels have tanked by more than half, in the past few decades, and one need only look around to see that has vast (and perplexing) implications for society.

If you want toย #bringbackalphamales ditch the synthetic clothing and bedding, ditch the synthetic perfumes and fragrances (found in nearly all big-brand personal care products, deodorants, detergents, etc) is a great place to start.

Given the ubiquitous nature of polyester and other phthalates in the environment, we cannot eliminate exposure, but we can reduce it. Making sure our diet has adequate zinc is one way to protect the reproductive system from endocrine disruptors.

Zinc Protects the Reproductive System from ‘Gender-Bender’ Chemicals

Zinc is such a super-hero.

It has protective effects from many of the toxins we’re being bombarded with, on a daily basis. That includes the ‘gender-bender’ chemicals that disrupt and create havoc on our hormones.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is structurally similar to diethylstilbestrol (DES), the drug given to millions of pregnant women from 1940’s – 1980 that greatly increased the risk of sexual disorders and cancers in their offspring (and their offspring’s offspring). Although BPA is less estrogenic than DES, it is probably more pervasive in our environment, due to widespread use.

Bisphenol-A, found in many plastics (including baby bottles and children’s drink bottles/lunchboxes) and epoxy resins is one such chemical. BPA has been shown to be toxic to the reproductive system, especially in males. Studies on rats shows that zinc deficiency increases toxicity of BPA on the male testis. Zinc has also shown to be protective against neuro-behavioral disorders caused by BPA toxicity.

Another endocrine-disrupting class of chemicals are those known as phthalates, also ubiquitous in the environment, in vinyl furniture, fragranced products (air fresheners, personal care products, shampoos, nail polish, detergents, soaps, etc). One of the ways we are being bombarded by phthalates is via our clothing – polyester (otherwise known as polyethyl terephthalate) in particular.

A study on rats, published last year (2020), showed that zinc supplementation protected from the endocrine toxicity caused by phthalates.

Although zinc is a super-hero, it must be kept in balance with another super-hero mineral, namely copper. Check out this case study on what can happen if you supplement with isolated zinc. Fortunately, she was able to recover most of her symptoms, but this person, who was poisoned by their zinc-based tooth adhesive material was not so fortunate.

It is far better to get zinc from food sources, such as oysters and red meat. Oysters are, by far, the world highest known source of zinc, but they also contain copper. Beef liver is another good source of both zinc and copper. If you are not a fan of the taste of either, you can take it in capsule form, which can be found on the NourishMe Organics website (use code ‘nourishme’ at checkout, to get 10% off)