Sensitive to Wheat? Maybe you should try Spelt!

Spelt is a grain you should know about.

Spelt is very much like wheat with just a few important differences, as a matter of fact spelt IS an ancient form of wheat.  For this reason it shares many attributes with wheat, and foods made with spelt are very similar (and taste similar) to those made with wheat.spelt and wheat

Heap of ripe grain feed of wheat as a texture
Wheat berries

Spelt enjoyed greater popularity as a grain for several centuries, but was replaced by wheat over the last century for a number of reasons. However, spelt has recently had a resurgence in popularity primarily because of some of it’s healthy attributes.

Spelt grain
Spelt berries

Spelt has a great taste – although the flavor has been described as a bit nuttier than wheat, spelt is actually very wheat-like in both it’s taste and texture.  Spelt has also gained a reputation for being a healthy for grain since it is often raised without the same herbicide load as wheat.   Much of the spelt grain and flour found in stores is actually organically raised, eliminating the concerns that go with herbicides, pesticides, and specifically glyphosate (the primary ingredient in Roundup).

You can now find a variety of spelt flours and spelt products (bread, crackers, rolls, etc) in many of the mainstream grocery stores, not just in specialty or health food stores.  Nutritional content and calorie count are very similar to wheat.

It’s important to note that spelt does contain gluten, but many people who have troubles when eating wheat do not have the same problems with spelt.  This may be because of the way the spelt grain has remained largely unchanged for so long, or due to differences in farming practices.   As noted previously, glyphosate (Roundup) is sometimes applied to wheat before harvest (though wheat treated this way is never labeled as such, and may be included in the flour or wheat based products you purchase).   This is not the case with Spelt and may account for the differences in digestive problems or gut irritation.   Find out more about spelt and consider trying some spelt products yourself.   I personally bake all of my recipes that call for wheat flour with at least a partial blend of spelt flour.


Questions or comments – use the form below – I’d love to hear from you!

What is a ketogenic diet?

Recently we’ve looked at liver function and how to keep your liver healthy and the role your liver plays in weight loss, and how that is connected to how your body processes fats, followed by a quick overview of the metabolic process called ketosis.

This now brings us to the subject of ketogenic diets.  Many people will immediately think of the Atkins diet, but there are many other ketogenicdiet plans besides Atkins that based on ketosis.  One of my personal favorites is the Southbeach diet.  I like the description as noted by USA Today in a recent article, it emphasizes “…avoiding carbs like pasta and potatoes and eating the right carbs” and helps you choose the “right kinds of fats” but doesn’t worry as much about limiting fats.  I do think it’s important to point out that none of these diets will work well at producing lasting results if you don’t change your lifestyle.  As previous posts have pointed out, diets don’t work.  Only lifestyle changes will work to produce sustainable lifelong changes in health (and weight).

There are *many* diets out there that base themselves on some of these same principles, even if they don’t label themselves as ketogenic – they work because of the metabolic effects that come about when you restrict carbs and when your diet includes higher levels of (healthy) fats.  In future posts we’ll look at some of the differences in these diets and dive a little deeper into more specifics on metabolism and the factors that some of the hormones related to digestion play in all this.



What is Ketosis?

To understand what ketosis is, it’s helpful to do a quick review of how our bodies are fueled.

While it’s true that we are fueled by the food we eat – it’s what kind of food and what happens to it that makes the difference as to what fuel your body primarily utilizes for energy.  It’s not just in the stomach (or small intestine) that all of this takes place – that’s why the last few posts have looked at the liver

So when your food is broken down, you end up with two fuels for our body – sugar or fat; all food ends up being processed and fuels our cells with either sugar or fat.  The aspect of the liver’s function I want to focus on here relates to the processing of fats – specifically the process known as ketosis.waist line

On a typical western diet, you end up taking in enough starches and sugars that your body primarily ends up being fueled with sugar.  (Remember that all food ends up being broken down into sugars and fats).   Your body has a natural tendency to utilize sugar first, and as long as there is an adequate supply (there’s too much in the typical western diet!), your body will use sugar as fuel.

When a person limits their intake of carbohydrates (sugars, starches and foods with higher sugar and/or starch levels) below a certain threshold, their body will go through a process to switch over to using fats for fuels.   This process is called lypolysis.  Many fats are just “too big” to be used, and so have to be broken down in  a process called that breaks them apart into smaller chunks that can be utilized by the body for fuel – ketones (technically called  ketone bodies) are produced as a result.

These ketones are able to be burned as fuel by both muscles and brain – and this is ketosis.  A ketogenic diet is simply a diet where carbohydrate intake is limited in order to promote the production of ketones and the burning of fat as your primary source of energy.

What we are NOT talking about here is diabetic ketoacidosis.  As defined by the Mayo Clinic:  “Diabetic ketoacidosis is a serious complication of diabetes that occurs when your body produces high levels of blood acids called ketones..”  In this case the production of ketones runs out of control and causes a buildup in the blood – which can quickly become serious. If you have diabetes, you should understand the signs of diabetic ketoacidosis and seek medical care immediately if you observe any of the warning signs.

More about ketogenic diets in the next post.



Don’t I just need to go by the RDA?

Ask many people about vitamins supplements and they’ll tell you that they get everything they need from the food they eat.  “Besides” they’ll tell you – “I get the RDA (recommended daily allowance of everything I need.”  The unfortunate fact is that you probably don’t get everything you need just from the foods you eat (see Do you need supplements).naturevalley

It’s helpful to start by asking – What is the RDA?  If you’ve looked at the side or back of most packaged food products you’ve seen a label similar to this one:

If you’ve wondered what the RDA is or where it came from – here’s the background, and here’s why it’s probably not a good measure of what your nutrient needs are for optimum nutrition and health.

The RDA is based upon calculations made in 1941 during World War 2.    The RDA was calculated based upon Estimated Average Requirements (EAR) which were the levels estimate in order to meet the basic nutritional needs of 50% of the people  (keep in mind that this was an across-the-board calculation for soldiers, citizens, and people facing food rationing).  While the levels and amounts are reviewed every 10 years or so, even these are designed to meet an average requirement in order to avoid the diseases of deficiency, and to provide basic nutritional needs (not what I would call optimal health).

So what does all this mean to you if you’re seeking to live a healthy lifestyle?

  1. Understand and be in touch with your body and your specific needs
  2. Do your research on what are considered levels for optimum nutrition.
    One excellent source for this is Life Extension Foundation.  Their stated mission is “to help you stay younger and healthier longer … looking for new and better ways to prolong youth, health, life.”  That sounds pretty good to me – most people are interested in staying healthier longer and being able to prolong health – I know I am.
  3. Adjust your lifestyle and diet accordingly.  As I’ve pointed out many times, you should focus on a healthy diet that supports a healthy lifestyle – not on going on a diet.  Remember – diets don’t work.
  4. Add the right foods and supplements to your diet to ensure that you are setting yourself up for optimum health, not just avoiding the diseases that come from nutrient deficiency.

If you are only going by the RDA printed on your processed food packages, I think you are doing yourself a great disservice and not setting yourself up for optimum health.  Remember – these calculations which formed a basis for all this were done during a time of scarcity and in order to avoid nutritional deficiency diseases for an average person with average needs.

In future posts we’ll review so of the specific vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements I believe you should consider adding to your diet to preserve, protect and prolong your health,


Do you need supplements?

Along with the subject of the foods that you do (or don’t) consume, it makes sense to also consider whether or not you need supplements; vitamin, mineral, herbal.   The whole reason to tweak or change your diet is to move toward a healthier lifestyle – that is the same reason you should consider which supplements you might will help you – and which ones you may need.By Ragesoss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

There are several reasons you should consider adding nutritional supplements to the food and beverages you consume, but the biggest reasons are to add in nutrients that may be lacking or in short supply in your diet (there are many reasons behind this), and in order to address with specific physical issues.

The bottom answer for most people to this question is YES.   When most people start logging the foods they eat, they discover that their diet is quite as “balanced” as they thought it was.  Also, many of today’s foods are grown with intensive practices in depleted soils  – resulting in foods with significantly lower nutrient levels than in previous decades.

In upcoming posts, we’ll look at the nutritional measurement RDA in more detail and look at some more specific herbal, vitamin, and mineral supplements you should consider adding to your diet.


Questions or comments?   Use the reply form below – I’d love to hear from you.


What did you really eat

So what did you eat today?

Can you answer that accurately and in detail?
If you are wanting to move toward a healthier diet and healthier lifestyle you need to know the answer to these questions. Just like when using a map or GPS – the first thing you have to do in order to plot a course to get somewhere is know where you’re at – identify your location.Ciruelas rojas y amarillas.

When I coach people on improving their overall health, I find that it is crucial that they keep a food log or diary of all they consume.  It is also important that they keep track over the course of several days. By tracking over the course of several days or a week and logging *everything* you consume, you’ll get a more accurate picture or where you’re at, what items are normally found in your diet, and what you need to change. Once you’ve done this, you can begin to pick your targets for change.

Coming up – next steps:  what changes should you target and what about jumping into one of the more popular diets?

Questions, comments, or just want to chime in?  Use the form below – I’d love to hear from you.

Listen to your body – it wants you to eat right

Listen to your body – it sends you signals about what you eat, how you eat, and how much you eat.

If you pay attention, it lets you know when you should stop eating, which foods agree with you or which foods cause you to not feel good, These are all signals your body is giving you to try to protect you from foods you shouldn’t eat and to guide you to eat the right amount of things it needs.

1.  Take your time eating, thoroughly taste and chew each bite – this gives your body a chance to begin the digestion process in the right way, and also gives it a chance to signal you when you have eaten enough.  There is a feedback mechanism built into your body – specific hormones that turn hunger on and off (ghrelin and leptin) – learn to “feel” and listen to these hormones and other signals that your body gives you that you have eaten enough.

2.  Pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods.image courtesy of
Headache in the afternoon some days?  Upset stomach?  Gassy?  Stomach that “just doesn’t feel right” or is flip-flopping?  You might find an interesting correlation between certain foods and when these symptoms occur.  This is another reason why it’s a good idea to keep a log of the foods you eat as you start to make changes to move you toward a healthier lifestyle.

Your body is talking to you all the time – you may need to relearn to hear it, and then listen to what it’s saying.  This is an important part of living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining and protecting your health.

Questions or comments?  I’d love to hear from you.

Want the secret to getting healthier?

Some people are on the constant hunt that one secret thing that will finally make everything right with their health.

There is one thing that will do that, but first I want to dispel a few myths.

There is no magical supplement, no secret diet, no hidden tropical food, no special dried berry, no forgotten African fruit, no secret workout routine, no fitness shortcut, no magic fatburner, no special supplement, no secret oil or any type of secret, hidden, forgotten, or new discovered secret that will unlock the path to great health.

Many people waste a lot of time and money trying one thing after another, hoping with each one that they will find the holy grail of health.  The secret (if there is one) is that there is no one thing that you need to eat, take or do that will unlock great health.

Copyright (c) <a href=''>123RF Stock Photos</a>There are many things you should avoid, some you should limit, and there are some foods and activities you should try to eat or do regularly.  The one key to unlocking your health is a healthy lifestyle.

There are several different good approaches you can use for good  as a part of your healthy lifestyle and many key components of a healthy lifestyle; nutrition and fitness are important parts of that, but not the only parts. In the next several posts we’ll take a look at some of the dietary plans you’ve asked about, and how they can work for you as a part of a healthy lifestyle.  Some of you have asked about specific diets (high carb, low carb, low fat, etc.)  – we will look at some of those specifically too. We’ll also look at how you can identify your goals to help find the dietary approach that works best for you.


Questions or comments?  Use the form below – I would love to hear from you.

All the Vitamin Bs (there are lots of them)

Vitamin B is another one of the important vitamins to add to your daily list of supplements.

Vitamin B was once thought to be one vitamin, and is now known to be many different vitamins or substances which are all a little different in their composition and function.  You may have heard of them under their different names such as Thiamine (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3), Pantothenic Acid (B5), Pyridoxine (B6), Biotin (B7), Folic Acid (B9), Cobalamin (B12).  There are several other important B vitamins as well, but these are the ones that most people have heard of.

Two important things to understand about the B vitamins are:

1.  Processed foods end up having the B vitamin content reduced – sometimes to a very great extent – this is why white flour, cereals and other processed foods are “fortified” with the B vitamins – putting back nutrition that was there in the unprocessed form.

2.  Some of the B vitamins do not have good plant sources – this means that if you have a largely vegetarian or vegan diet, you will need supplementation of some of the B vitamins.

You can take the individual B vitamins, but I recommend that you  find a good Vitamin B Complex and use that to cover the spectrum of different B vitamins.  There are many good formulas available that contain a balanced mixture of the various B vitamins so that you cover all of your nutritional needs.

Everyone needs the B vitamins as a part of a healthy diet and lifestyle, and you will probably best cover all basis with a good B complex formula – whether you are a vegetarian, vegan, or whatever approach you take to your diet.

Questions or comments about this post?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment below.


Vitamin C – for much more than just fighting colds

Vitamin C is another one of the essential vitamins you should consider adding to the list of vitamin supplements.

I believe that vitamin C is so important to our overall health that if I only took two vitamin supplements, vitamin C would be one of them – the other one would be vitamin D which was covered in a previous post.  I suspect that many people will read this post looking for and answer to the questions:  “will vitamin C help prevent a cold?”  and   “will vitamin C help get rid of a cold?”

The role of vitamin C in terms of a healthy body extends far beyond just fighting colds and influenza.   Vitamin C has an impact on several important aspects of your body.

It plays an important role in the formation and integrity of your collagen and tissues.  It is a powerful antioxidant and plays a role in minimizing damage from free radicals and toxins as well as bacteria and virii.

I think that vitamin C plays such an important role in these areas and others, that many conditions can be prevented or helped by having an optimum intake of vitamin C.  Remember that you want to optimize your nutrient intake.   Many people feel all they need to do is get the RDA (recommended daily allowance) of a vitamin or mineral to be healthy.  The RDA is simply the amount that is recommended – usually the amount required to avoid the worst symptoms of deficiency diseases.  In the case of vitamin C,  the RDA recommended amount is the level required in order to prevent the worst symptoms of scurvy.

You can get vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables.  Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons) are well know for their vitamin C content, but contain far less than what I feel is an optimum amount without eating mounds of fruit and veggies.

How much?  You should work with a nutritionist and your family doctor when ramping up your vitamin C intake – I recommend that people target 1-2 grams of vitamin C daily to help optimize their health.  This amount can fluctuate somewhat during times of stress or when feeling a cold or flu coming on.  Linus Pauling, the scientist know for promoting vitamin C as the cure for the common cold took several grams daily, finally settling on a daily intake of somewhere near 18 grams (18000 milligrams).   You’ll know if you take too much or if you increase your intake too quickly, as too much vitamin C can cause loose stools or mild diarrhea.


Want to know more?  Leave a question or comment below – I’d love to hear from you!