Stock vs. Broth: What’s the Difference?

You don’t have to have a degree from culinary school to know how important broths and stocks are to creating delicious cuisine. But is there a difference between the two? Is it better to use stock vs broth in certain situations and recipes? Is there really much difference between homemade and store-bought broth or stock?

And then there’s bone broth. Where does bone broth fit into the stock versus broth debate?

Stocking your fridge with a few key ingredients can make any home cook’s job easier, but when it comes to broth vs. stock, things can start to get confusing. We’ll do our best to untangle these terms, explain the benefits of each and offer some tips on how to make your own.

The Difference Between Stock and Broth

A quick Google search looking to define stock vs. broth might leave you more confused than when you started – especially if you’re looking for vegetable broth. Celebrity gastronomer Alton Brown defines stock as a cooking liquid in which animal bones and connective tissue are cooked for a long period of time, yielding a thick, collagen-rich liquid. He defines broth as a cooking liquid in which animal meats are cooked for a shorter period of time yielding a flavorful, thinner liquid.

He’s careful to mention that restaurants typically work with unseasoned stock, whereas home cooks often end up with a hybrid, since it can be challenging to completely remove all meat from the bones.

So stock is made from bones and broth is made from meat. Seems like a simple way to tell the difference. But what about vegetable broth and bone broth?

Vegetable Stock vs. Broth

Digging a little deeper, the folks at Fine Cooking set about differentiating between vegetable stock and broth. Can there really be a difference if bones aren’t involved? They ultimately conclude that in the case of vegetables, there’s really not a difference in content between stock and broth. However, when using the terms in cooking, the difference is in function and seasoning, whether or not bones are included.

In Harold McGee’s book, “On Food and Cooking,” he defines stock as a base for more complex recipes, such as sauces or more complex soups. It’s often very basic and unsalted for versatility. Broth refers to a liquid in which something has been boiled and tends to be salted, possibly flavored with herbs and spices. Broths are often the base for a soup such as chicken soup or vegetable soup.

Bone Broth

The growing health trend of sippable bone broths has meant more options at the grocery store, but it doesn’t really help clear up the confusion. If you’re using the definitions we just laid out, the term bone broth seems impossible, right?

Broth, by Alton Brown’s definition means “no bones.” Bon Appetit writers consulted the founder of one of the first sippable bone broth stands in New York City, Chef Marco Canora, of Hearth and brodo. He confirms the confusion, asserting that the term is a misnomer. Bone broth is actually cooked just like stock – slow-cooked bones in water over a long period of time, extracting the nutritious collagen that gives bone broth a rich mouth feel and texture. When done correctly, both stock and bone broth cool to a gelatinous texture.

However most sippable bone broths are flavored with fresh herbs and spices, and they’re also salted for added enjoyment. Chef Marco also mentions that it’s ideal – and more delicious – to choose bones and joints with a little bit of meat still on them. So in a way, bone broth is a hybrid between stock and broth.

Store-Bought Options For Stock vs Broth

You may have noticed the sheer volume of options at the grocery store for stock and broth. You have chicken broths, beef broths, veggie broths, even fish broths. You see the household brands like Swanson and Campbell’s, but in most cases, these brands don’t slow-cook their stocks. For most store-bought brands, the biggest difference between broth and stock is ingredients and sodium content. Stock is more likely to have fewer ingredients and less salt.

There are bone broth options at many grocery stores as well. High-quality bone broths are going to be pricier, because they utilize the proper slow-cooking method. The longer you cook a liquid, the more of it that evaporates, which means your liquid is denser with nutrients, flavor and collagen.

But you might not need this level of complexity for every recipe you make at home. In some cases, a simple broth will work just fine. Just don’t count on boxed stock having the same health benefits as bone broth.

When deciding which cooking liquid to choose, know what you plan to use it for. Here are a few simple guidelines:

  • Need a base for a rich sauce or gravy? Go with stock.
  • Making chicken soup? Go with broth.
  • Looking for a nutrient-dense, flavorful liquid for sipping? Go with a good-quality bone broth.
  • Trying to switch from cooking oils to more water-based cooking? Make your selection based on how much flavor you want to impart on your veggies, as well as the sodium content. If you want a low-sodium liquid to which you can add your own flavors and seasonings, go with stock. If you want more noticeable chicken or beef flavor, go with broth.

How to Make Homemade Broth and Stock

Keep homemade broth or stock in your freezer or refrigerator to prep in advance and save time during your weeknight meal prep. While stock and bone broth take longer to make, the process is simple, and the rewards are great. We’ll be using the terms stock and bone broth interchangeably for this explanation, since your home-cooked version will likely be a hybrid of the two.

Regularly making bone broth is a great way to help you maximize ingredients you’re already using in your kitchen. Keep a large freezer bag handy to store veggie and meat scraps and bones (chicken carcass, ribs, chicken bones) from prior meals. Carrot tops, onion and garlic skins, celery butts, and pepper tops all make great stock ingredients and will be strained out at the end, along with the bones. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to start from scratch with fresh bones and veggies.

If you don’t have any particular dish in mind, you can’t go wrong with a simple chicken stock. Head over to your local butcher and ask for chicken wings or feet – they’re chock-full of gelatin. If you’re working with a big stock pot (think 2 to 3 gallons), you’ll want 3 to 5 pounds of chicken feet or wings.

Then you’ll make a French mirepoix: diced celery, carrots and onions. You can also add pressed or chopped garlic to the mix if you like. Add everything to your pot and fill it with water, leaving at least a couple of inches at the top.

Some chefs choose to add an acid, such as lemon juice, raw whey or apple cider vinegar to the water and allow the bones to bathe in it for 30 minutes before turning on the heat to maximize the breakdown of the bone matrix. Simmering the bones for a long time is sufficient for breaking down the bone matrix, but this extra step is recommended in more traditional recipes.

If you’re using a slow-cooker, simply turn it on low and cook for at least six hours or as long as 24, depending on the size of your cooker. (You don’t want to cook it for so long that there’s no liquid left!) If you’re using your stove top, you’ll do the same, but you might want to make sure you’re able to stay home with it if you’re not comfortable leaving an open flame unattended (safety first!). Ideally, you’d also be around to skim the fat off the top as it rises during the cooking process.

Once you’ve cooked your stock to your liking, strain it into jars for freezing. Make sure you leave some room for it to expand as it freezes, or you’ll have a mess on your hands.

And just like that, you’ll have your very own supply of homemade bone broth to drink or cook with! Bon appetit!

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What Is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis? Symptoms, Treatment and Diet Explained

Somewhere between 15 and 21 million people have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune form of hypothyroidism that results in glandular damage when the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid. It is the most common cause of thyroiditis in the United States (1).

Seven out of eight victims of thyroid disease are women, so while there are certainly men who are battling this relatively common autoimmune disorder, it is primarily a women’s health issue (2).

Even more people are probably walking around in the early stages, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, and they may remain that way for years — even after symptoms have started to significantly interfere with their lives.

Because of all the misinformation out there on Hashimoto’s, we devoted this post to explaining each detail of the disease and discussing the importance of thyroid function. You’ll come away with a clear understanding of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and a better knowledge of symptoms, treatment methods and diet restrictions. Let’s dive in.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Symptoms

Because of the individual nature of Hashimoto’s, your own genetic landscape, lifestyle, environmental factors, age and overall health will impact what symptoms you have. It’s difficult to create a universal list of symptoms. However, the following seem to be common and are in many cases the ones that can lead to an official diagnosis when viewed collectively by a practitioner who is well-versed in the disease (3):

  • Fatigue, often chronic and debilitating
  • Weight gain or inability to lose weight
  • Constipation, usually chronic and long-term
  • Sensitivity to cold, especially in the hands and feet
  • Dry skin that usually worsens significantly in the winter months
  • Depression and feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Muscular aches, pains and cramps that can sometimes be misdiagnosed as fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis (or can exist alongside these two related autoimmune disorders)
  • Reduced ability to tolerate exertion, i.e. fatigue on walking even short distances, inability to exercise or feelings of lightheadedness when standing for too long
  • Irregular or extremely heavy menstrual periods
  • Infertility or recurrent pregnancy loss
  • Dry, brittle and dull hair, skin and nails
  • Low basal body temperature
  • Elevated LDL cholesterol
  • Insomnia or fatigue, even after sleeping normal hours
  • Anxiety, mood swings and mood disorders (sometimes misdiagnosed as a major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, but can exist alongside these conditions, too)
  • Tenderness or pain in the lower throat where the thyroid sits, frequent sore throats not associated with sickness, or swelling of the throat, known as a “goiter” or enlarged thyroid gland
  • Increased susceptibility to viral or bacterial infections; feeling of always being sick or picking up every bug that’s going around
  • Increased incidence of diabetes

How Do You Get Hashimoto’s?

You might be wondering how you get Hashimoto’s. The sad but true fact is that there are a number of triggers, risk factors and causes, and many who develop this disease often have more than one. While this list isn’t exhaustive, these are some of the factors that may make it more likely to develop Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (4):

  • Family history of any thyroid disease or hypothyroidism (in parents, grandparents or siblings) and genetic susceptibility
  • Having a current autoimmune disorder of a different kind. Once the immune system goes rogue, it will sometimes continue to target various parts of the body unless all autoimmune disorders are in remission.
  • Pregnancy or postpartum (up to 12 months) can be a risk factor, trigger or cause since the thyroid is susceptible to hormone changes and there are no greater hormone shifts than during and after pregnancy.
  • Excessive iodine intake, which is why it’s vital to not supplement with such a volatile element. Unfortunately, an iodine deficiency can also contribute to hypothyroid problems, and some practitioners actually recommend supplementing with high doses of it.
  • Viral or bacterial infections that become chronic can trigger an immune attack on the thyroid. This is most commonly seen with Epstein-Barr, the virus that is associated with mononucleosis.
  • Menopause can also trigger Hashimoto’s, which, second to pregnancy and postpartum, is the next largest shift of a woman’s hormone equilibrium. Women of this age are usually screened for hypothyroidism but most doctors stop short of running the full battery of testing, and simply prescribe medication.

Can You Prevent Hashimoto’s?

Now you know about all of the risk factors, triggers and causes of Hashimoto’s. But is it possible to prevent it, even if you have many of the uncontrollable factors, or you aren’t willing to forego having a baby just to avoid possibly developing a thyroid disease?

The answer is, technically, no —there is no known way to absolutely prevent Hashimoto’s. However, if you’re aware of symptoms, family history and risk factors, you can get a much faster diagnosis and actually stop the progression of the disease before the thyroid is damaged. The only way this can happen is with proactive testing, like testing antibodies to determine if they’re a factor before the symptoms become chronic, and a preventive lifestyle.

Testing for Hashimoto’s

The only way to diagnose Hashimoto’s is by a series of blood tests (5). Most doctors will only run TSH, which stands for thyroid stimulating hormone. Unfortunately, this is not even a thyroid hormone, but is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain to tell the thyroid to make more hormones (6). The assumption is that if your TSH is high, meaning that your brain is shouting louder and louder at your thyroid to do its job, there must be a problem with the thyroid.

This is where things get complicated. While that can be true, there may be other factors at play. The thyroid may in fact not be producing the right levels of thyroid hormone because it is under attack from the immune system. The only way to deduce this is to test for thyroid antibodies — thyroid peroxidase antibody and thyroglobulin antibody.

TSH is also a faulty barometer for thyroid health because, as previously mentioned, it’s not even produced by the thyroid. In a small number of cases, the thyroid is fine, but there’s a pituitary communication problem. In this case, medicating with thyroid hormone would be a poor move. In patients already on thyroid medication, TSH is a terrible way to monitor medication dosing, but that’s how most practitioners do it.

In order to get an accurate picture of what your thyroid is doing and whether or not you could have early, undiagnosed or late stage Hashimoto’s, you need the following lab tests ordered:

  • Free T3 (active form of T3)
  • Free T4 (active form of T4)
  • TSH
  • Thyroglobulin antibodies
  • Thyroid peroxidase antibodies
  • Reverse T3 (a storage form of T3)

Hashimoto’s Disease Treatment

Many doctors who properly diagnose Hashimoto’s thyroid disease will still stop short of a full-on treatment of the disorder. They may prescribe hormone replacement and continue testing your thyroid levels until they normalize. But in many cases, while hormone replacement can certainly take the edge off of symptoms, or even totally neutralize them, they don’t actually address the core issue as to why Hashimoto’s started in the first place.

Above all else, Hashimoto’s is an immune problem, and until the immune system calms down, even if Hashimoto’s enters remission, your body will be at risk for further autoimmune attacks.

A full spectrum plan for Hashimoto’s should involve further investigation as to what initially triggered the disorder, as well as hormone replacement when needed. Those with Hashimoto’s should also make dietary and lifestyle changes to remove aggravating stressors that could be perpetuating the immune dysfunction.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Diet

A Hashimoto’s diet should be one that focuses on real, whole foods. Processed food is filled with refined sugars and preservatives that will certainly not help restore balance to the immune system.

Next, and of high importance, is the removal of gluten and dairy. These two foods, when paired with leaky gut, can be enough to keep autoimmunity running for years. Your immune system is intuitive, in that it can produce cells to attack viruses, but it’s not foolproof. When your gut is allowing undigested food particles into your bloodstream, the immune system misreads gluten and dairy in particular as thyroid cells because they’re similar in structure.

Healing the gut lining is imperative in order to reach remission from Hashimoto’s (or any) autoimmune disease. This means plenty of vegetables, high quality protein, high quality omega–3 anti-inflammatory fats and low-glycemic fruits. When you’re under autoimmune attack, it’s best to eat substantially more vegetables than fruits to keep the blood sugar stable. The body will heal best when it is balanced.

Bone Broth for Hashimoto’s

Bone broth, of course, is at the top of every gut healing food list. It helps to repair the lining of the small intestine to keep out foreign invaders that mess with the immune system. It also helps to maintain remission of autoimmunity. It’s safe for every stage of life and wellness, so there’s never a need to stop bone broth.

For a Hashimoto’s plan, we recommend bone broth two or three times daily. You can drink it plain or add it to soups or stews. Not only will it help to heal leaky gut, but it’ll also do wonders for the aches and pains that come along with Hashimoto’s. This is because the gelatin and collagen in bone broth are extremely nourishing and restorative for joints, muscles, hair, skin and nails. It’s like drinking liquid vibrance.

Hashimoto’s Friendly Recipes

Want to get started on some thyroid-friendly recipes? Here’s a round-up of simple, tasty and satisfying foods to help you heal.

Living With a Thyroid Issue

Thyroid hormone levels are extremely important to living a normal everyday life, so if you or any of your family members have experienced thyroid problems, or are currently struggling with them, it’s essential to seek care. Hypothyroid screenings don’t usually begin until women are in their thirties and sometimes later. Yet it’s becoming increasingly common to see young women in their early twenties developing signs of Hashimoto’s. Like we covered earlier, doctors often misdiagnose and prescribe things that can deal with some symptoms, only to worsen others (such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications or steroids).

I know from personal experience because at the age of 20, my health started to decline. I fumbled for years, going from practitioner to practitioner, looking for answers to my debilitating fatigue, hair loss, weight gain, depression and extreme sensitivity to cold. I wore two or three sweatshirts at a time in the spring.

Sadly, it took eight years to receive a proper diagnosis for my underactive thyroid, and by then, the damage was done. While I am in remission from Hashimoto’s, you can never fully undo the progress of an autoimmune disease — you can just stop it from getting worse.

You should now have a better understanding of what Hashimoto’s is and how you can catch it early on.

If you know anyone that might be experiencing Hashimoto’s symptoms, please share this post with them. Reading it could get them on the road to recovery.


Aimee McNew is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, infertility, and autoimmunity. Her first book, The Everything Guide to Hashimoto’s, releases Oct 2016.

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6 Super Simple Ways to Drink Bone Broth Every Day (and Make It a Habit)

We’ve all heard about the amazing results that people are experiencing from drinking bone broth: better skin tone, relief from joint pain, improved digestion, weight loss, and more! The key to their success? Actually drinking bone broth every day! Yep! Just heat, swallow and repeat.

And while it’s easy to think about drinking bone broth and say you’ve committed to this new habit, the reality is that incorporating any new behavior (including drinking bone broth) into your daily routine can be extremely hard to do.

That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide on how to hack into your head,  help you prioritize your daily cup of golden collagen goodness and never forget to drink your bone broth again.

1.Take Making It Out of the Equation

It may seem obvious, but if you don’t have bone broth, you can’t drink it! So keeping a stock of it is essential to making it part of your routine.

One of the main reasons that only 5% of Americans are drinking bone broth is because they are hung up on figuring out how to make it. If you are one of the fantastic folks out there who has perfected your homemade bone broth recipe, well done! But for the rest of us, finding the hours to invest in sourcing bones, simmering them, and storing that high quality bone broth is downright daunting.

That’s why we made bone broth accessible for everyone – even the busiest people who are rarely at home. Our broth is shelf stable and will keep in your pantry (or desk drawer) for up to two years at peak freshness.

Whether you have some on hand as back up for when your homemade broth runs out, or choose to enroll in one of our subscription plans to have bone broth delivered to your door on your schedule, the first step to making bone broth a habit is having it around.

2. Make Bone Broth Part of Your Routine

We’ve all got those little things in our lives that we do without thinking. Making that morning cup of coffee, feeding Fido, or brushing our teeth. And if you’ve got kids you know that a bedtime routine is a must.

So take a look at your current routine and find a spot in your day to fit in a mug of bone broth.  Maybe it’s at breakfast? Those 10 grams of protein are a perfect way to keep you satisfied until lunch. Or perhaps you have a few minutes post-workout? That mug of broth will rehydrate you, replenish lost electrolytes, and speed muscle recovery. Or could it be that adding it to your evening unwind works best for you? A bone broth nightcap is calming and promotes quality sleep!

Where does bone broth best fit into your schedule? Now make a note of this new spot and write it down like this: “Instead of having a second cup of coffee, I’m going to drink a mug of bone broth.” or “When I get hungry at 11am (because I always do), I’m going to drink bone broth.” Or even, “Before I sit down to watch TV every night, I’m going to grab a mug of bone broth.”

Be sure to include the activity or action that you are already doing daily in your sentence. So now, when you do this already formed behavior, it will trigger your new bone broth routine.

3. Add Reminders Around You

Even with the best intentions, it’s hard to remember to drink your bone broth. So adding little hints to your surroundings can be key to keeping you in the habit.

Slightly, well, annoying reminders – like setting an alarm on your phone – work well for many people, because they simply can’t ignore them! But gentle reminders or reinforcing behaviors are also a big help. Selecting a special mug to be your bone broth mug is a great idea, and is doubly effective if you resist putting it back in the cabinet. Instead, leave your bone broth mug (or travel mug) out where you will see it. This could be in the middle of the kitchen table, by the coffee maker, even on top of your computer or phone.

And be sure to store a carton of bone broth front and center in your fridge, because when we are hungry, we often grab the first thing we see! So, go ahead and put a post-it note on your favorite snack food that reads, “WAIT! BONE BROTH INSTEAD!”

4. Learn to Crave Bone Broth

Even if you want to drink bone broth every day it can be difficult to like drinking it. For some people, the taste just isn’t in their wheelhouse. If you’re one of those people who drinks all the broth at the bottom a bowl of chicken noodle soup (even when all the noodles are gone!), you’ll likely love the taste of bone broth. But if not, then drinking bone broth could be an adjustment for you.

Even as adults, we sometimes have to practice liking new foods. It takes about 6 tries for the mind to recognize a new flavor as a suitable food. You may not remember, but you actually had to learn to like the taste of alcohol or coffee. Expect the same process with bone broth! So, if you have to give yourself time to develop a taste for it, remember that that’s perfectly normal. Be patient and don’t give up.

Sometimes, adding a simple pinch of sea salt makes the broth more enticing to your palate. Likewise, incorporating your favorite herbs and spices like ginger or cayenne pepper might make it oh so much more enjoyable. Check out our free Bone Broth Sipping Guide to get some ideas for delicious flavor combinations.

And for kids and other picky eaters, “hiding” bone broth in a smoothie full of sweet fruits and yummy veggies works wonders. Hello, berry bone broth smoothie! Just remember, when using bone broth in a smoothie or shake, no need to heat your broth first. Simply swap out the liquid (juice, nut milk, or water) in your favorite smoothie recipe for bone broth. Start small with about ½ a cup of bone broth and work your way up to 1 or 2 cups per blend.

Need some bone broth smoothie inspiration? These Ultimate Bone Broth Smoothie recipes will get you well on your way to learning to crave bone broth.

5. Cook with Bone Broth!

Another great trick for picky eaters or people who want to consume more than a daily mug of broth, is cooking with bone broth. Hey, it’s really just soup stock anyway!

Remember that for centuries bone broth was commonly-used ingredient in cooking. Now that it’s been lost from most people’s kitchens, it’s time to bring it back and regain our health!

Here are a few tricks for incorporating more bone broth into your cooking:

  • Use bone broth in any recipe that calls for stock, like soups, stews, and sauces. Because it’s so nutrient dense, you can stretch it in a soup recipe by adding part bone broth and part water.
  • Cook rice, quinoa, oatmeal, beans, or any other food that absorbs liquid in bone broth instead of in water. This is a wonderful way to enrich these foods with protein, collagen, glycine, and glutamine and provide nutrient dense healing food to your family.
  • And if you’re a pro in the kitchen, try using bone broth to deglaze pans, braize vegetables and meats, and make gravy that is to die for.

Here are some of our favorite recipes to get you started cooking with bone broth:

6. Get Your Loved Ones Hooked

We find that those who share a daily cup of bone broth with a loved one have greater success in making their bone broth habit stick. This act of connected eating can turn bone broth into a friendship ritual or even a family tradition.

How much better could you feel if instead of bonding over a glass of wine, you shared a mug of bone broth with your bestie. How would your family’s future be different if you cuddled up for movie night with bone broth smoothies instead of ice cream sundaes?

Sharing your love of healthy habits makes those around you healthier and happier, too. And the best part is that you’ll start reminding each other to drink bone broth! Who could be your buddy on your healing journey?

Consistency is key when it comes to getting the health benefits from bone broth. You deserve the transformation that bone broth can  deliver, like relief from joint pain, improved digestion, and youthful skin.

We hope our tips help you to start your own bone broth ritual and begin loving your body from the inside out!

If you want to drink more bone broth, follow these six simple steps to make it a daily habit and reap all the heal benefits of this superfood!


Carrie Bonfitto is a board-certified holistic nutritionist and wellness educator in Los Angeles. Through her private practice, Two Hearts Nutrition, she turns up the heat on healthy eating transforming it into delicious and practical food therapy. Having spent years getting bounced from doctor to doctor before taking her health into her own hands, Carrie is dedicated to helping those who suffer with chronic conditions regain their vitality.

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Athletes, Listen Up: Try These Vitamins for Joints

If you’re logging on the miles or hitting the weights but feel constant pain in your joints, a vitamin deficiency could be to blame.

As we age, it gets more and more difficult to recover from workouts and maintain the same fitness regimen we followed when we were younger. But here’s the good news: adding supplemental nutrients to your workout recovery plan is a  safe —and affordable — way to promote joint health.

You can read about common supplements and vitamins for joints like omega–3 fatty acids, fish oil and chondroitin sulfate in this post. But there are so many other nutrients that your joints need to say strong and healthy.

Below, we’ll given you a crash course in the basics of supplemental vitamins, and how to understand their effects on your body. Then we’ll break down the best vitamins for joints to keep you in the gym for life, wear off soreness and keep joint pain at bay.

A Few Things to Know About Vitamins For Joints (and In General)

What’s a water-soluble vitamin, anyway? How is it different than a fat-soluble vitamin? Is it true you shouldn’t take a multivitamin? And what does “essential” even mean?

All great questions. Here’s what you should know.

Fat Soluble vs. Water Soluble

There are two different kind of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble. There are benefits and drawbacks to each.

Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) get stored in your fat stores (1). This is good, because they’re there when you need them. Water-soluble vitamins (B and C) are not stored, and therefore you need to replenish them daily (2).

So, what’s the drawback of fat-soluble vitamins? Since they’re stored by your body, it’s possible to consume too much. Supplementing with with fat-soluble vitamins could lead to toxicity, while excess water-soluble vitamins are excreted by the body.

Essential vs. Non-Essential

What vitamins are essential? This is a trick question — all vitamins are considered essential nutrients, because your body can’t produce them on its own. Vitamin D is the one rare case, which can be produced through sun exposure (3).

Are Multivitamins Good or Bad?

That has yet to be decided, as there’s conflicting research on the subject. A balanced diet should provide you with the vitamins you need, but a multivitamin is an easy way to “fill in the cracks.” However, taking a generic multivitamin (particularly those with 100 percent of your daily allowance of each) can give you too much of one nutrient — such as iron, vitamin A, zinc and folic acid (4).

Now that you know the basics on vitamins, here are a few you might want to supplement with.

Vitamin E

What Does Vitamin E Do?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in many foods. It’s been shown to benefit your vision, reproductive hormones, blood, brain and skin (5). You can find vitamin E in green leafy vegetables, olives, blueberries, tomatoes, avocados and most nuts and seeds.

Vitamin E is known primarily for its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help protect against free radicals, which damage cells and could be related to the development of cancer and other diseases (6)(7).

How Can Vitamin E Provide Joint Support?

Studies have shown vitamin E could help reduce swelling and inflammation and prevent osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis results in joint damage by breaking down the cartilage surrounding your joints.

There are several treatments, but most just treat the symptoms — they don’t actually slow or prevent it. Vitamin E, on the other hand, has been shown to both reduce the pain and slow the progression of the disease (8).

In another study, researchers thought the antioxidant properties of vitamin E could help treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis. While there didn’t seem to be any effect on arthritis symptoms, it did prevent the breakdown of joints (9).

Vitamin C

What Does Vitamin C Do?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, meaning your body cannot produce it on its own. It plays an essential role in immune function, helps your body absorb iron and prevents against various diseases (6).

Like vitamin E, vitamin C is a strong antioxidant. Studies have shown that consuming vitamin C can boost your body’s antioxidant levels, helping to fight against inflammation (7).

How Can Vitamin C Help Your Fitness Routine?

Have you ever heard of sports anemia? Iron deficiency anemia is the leading nutrition deficiency, and is very common common in athletes — particularly runners (8)(9). Someone who has iron deficiency anemia will feel out of breath doing something as simple as climbing a flight of stairs — even if they’re in fantastic shape. This is because your body needs iron to produce hemoglobin and red blood cells, which are responsible for carrying oxygen to your lungs (9).

So what does vitamin C have to do with anemia? If you have iron deficiency anemia and iron supplements don’t seem to help, try supplementing with vitamin C, as it can help your body absorb iron.

Vitamin B12

What Does Vitamin B12 Do?

Vitamin B12 keeps your nerve and blood cells healthy. It helps your nervous system, digestion, brain function and cell formation. If you’re not getting enough B12, you might feel fatigue, weakness or like you have constant brain fog (11).

If you’re an athlete who follows a vegetarian or vegan diet, you might benefit from supplementing with B12. Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal-based foods like meat, liver, eggs and dairy products. You won’t find it in plants, only processed foods like fortified cereals.

How Can Vitamin B12 Benefit Your Muscles and Joints?

Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to nerve damage, causing tingling and numbness in your hands and feet and muscle weakness (12). Some athletes, particularly runners, have reported being sidelined from their sports due to a vitamin B12 deficiency.

New research shows that vitamin B12 may be associated with bone density. In one study, men and women were measured for bone density and vitamin B12. Those low in one were shown to have to have low levels in the other (13). Low bone density is one of the greatest warning signs of osteoporosis. By maintaining healthy bones, you are more likely to maintain healthy joints and connective tissues.

Vitamin D

What Does Vitamin D Do?

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which can be obtained through food, supplements or sun exposure. Vitamin D helps promote cell growth, immune function and reduce joint inflammation.

Vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium. Without it, your bones might become thin and brittle, or you may eventually develop osteoporosis (14).

How Can Vitamin D Cure Joint Pain?

A lack of vitamin D has been related to joint pain in several studies. In adults, vitamin D deficiency has been shown to worsen pain in the hips and knee joints over time (15). In another, patients experienced pain relief when they took vitamin D supplements (16).

Research also shows a link between vitamin D deficiency and chronic pain. While vitamin D supplementation hasn’t been proven as a treatment for chronic pain, it’s a relatively inexpensive, safe treatment (17).

Can Vitamins Help Reduce Joint and Muscle Pain?

Multiple studies have shown supplementing with vitamins can help reduce joint pain and inflammation, treat chronic pain and prevent muscle fatigue. Vitamins are an essential nutrient, meaning you must consume them from foods or supplements.

Vitamins E, B12, C and D in particular have been shown to help reduce and slow pain related to aging, fitness, anemia, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis pain.

Before starting to supplement with vitamins, ensure that you do have a deficiency. Too much of one vitamin — particularly fat-soluble vitamins — can be toxic. If you do have a deficiency, vitamins are an inexpensive way to treat pain and spare your joints and muscles from wear related to workouts and aging.

Pin this post for later: 
Vitamins for Joints That Take a Beating! Athletes, this one is for you. #jointhealth #vitamins #supplements #wellness #athletes #healthy

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Keto Diet Mastery: Your Comprehensive Guide to The Ketogenic Diet

What if you could train your body to burn fat more efficiently and speed up your metabolism without restricting calories? If you’re struggling to lose those last 5 pounds or wondering why the muffin top just won’t budge (despite eating clean and exercising), you may find the answers you’re looking for in this keto diet master guide.

What Is the Keto Diet?

Keto Diet Mastery: weight loss

The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet that puts your body in a natural fat-burning metabolic state called ketosis (1).

This is done by heavily restricting carbs and focusing on high-fat, moderate protein meals. The classical ketogenic diet contains a 4:1 ratio of fat to proteins and carbs. (2) In other words, the principle of the keto diet is to “eat fat to burn fat.”

The keto diet is often grouped with other high-fat, low-carb diets such as the paleo or Atkins diets. But the reason these diets boast fat-burning benefits in the first place is because they promote ketosis. Therefore, the ketogenic diet isn’t so much a diet, but more so the basis of these diets, and the biochemical reaction that occurs when you train your body to burn fat for fuel instead of carbs.

While the ketogenic diet has become popular for weight loss, studies have also shown numerous other health benefits of following a keto diet. It may help reverse Type 2 diabetes and reduce symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, depression and autism (3)(4). The keto diet was first used in the 1920s not as a weight loss diet, but a natural treatment to prevent seizures in epilepsy patients (5).

Let’s look closer at how the ketogenic diet can turn your body into a fat burning machine and increase energy levels, plus other ways it can improve your health.

How the Keto Diet Works

Keto Diet Mastery: keto foods

In order for your body to burn fat for fuel, you must remove the majority of carbs (in most cases, 90 to 95 percent) out of your diet and increase fat intake. Why?

By default, your body generates energy from carbohydrates (glucose), which are stored as glycogen in your muscle tissue and liver (6). You store enough carbs for approximately 24 hours worth of energy (7). Most of us easily replenish our carb stores by eating fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes, so our carb “fuel tanks” rarely get low and we continue burning glucose for energy.

In the case you do run low on glucose, your body will switch gears and begin converting stored fatty acids to ketones, which can be used as a secondary energy source (8). This is why the ketogenic diet is so effective for weight loss. Instead of starving yourself, you’re training your body to burn fat for energy.

Since carbs are your body’s first choice for energy, the only way to get your body to burn fat for fuel is by getting your body into ketosis. Without stored glucose, your body has no choice but to dip into your fat stores and begin converting those fatty acids to ketones when you need energy (9).

And while we only store enough glucose for about 24 hours of energy, fat can be stored in the body to provide months worth of energy, which is why people can survive fasting (10). The amount of fat your body can utilize for energy will depend on your body composition and fat percentage.

Keeping your body in ketosis for prolonged periods of time teaches your body to burn fat for energy more efficiently, which is how the keto diet can reduce your overall fat mass. It should be noted that the keto diet may not always trigger weight loss, especially if you already have a low body fat percentage.

Why Follow a Keto Diet?

Weight loss isn’t the only reason to follow a ketogenic diet. Let’s look at some of the other benefits.

Heart Health Maybe

A High-Fat Diet Is Good for Heart Health

Wait — doesn’t fat raise LDL cholesterol and increase your risk for heart disease?

If that were the case, the keto diet would be the perfect storm for a heart attack. But no reputable study has shown a link between saturated fat and cardiovascular disease (11).

Instead, research shows that low-fat diets high in refined sugar and carbs are far more destructive to the heart and arteries than fat, and have a greater ability to raise blood pressure and cause inflammation (12).

Since the keto diet removes all processed and starchy carbs, it may serve as both a preventative and therapeutic diet for those at risk for heart disease.

Helps Maintain Healthy Blood Sugar

If you develop a condition related to blood sugar imbalance, such as Type 2 diabetes, your body has stopped properly responding to insulin, the hormone that brings sugar out of your bloodstream and into your cells to be used and stored as energy (13). This is also known as insulin resistance.

While Type 2 diabetes is primarily caused by excess refined sugar and carbs in your diet, it’s a condition that can also be reversed by changing the foods you eat (14). Since the ketogenic diet removes most carbs, it gives your body a chance to reestablish and reset the “communication” with insulin, which can improve insulin sensitivity and reverse blood sugar imbalances.

Even as a short-term solution, ketosis may help improve other blood sugar conditions, such as hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia. With the permission (and supervision) of a qualified healthcare practitioner, the keto diet can also be used safely as a long-term protocol for eliminating Type 2 diabetes (15).

Can Improve Cognitive Function

The brain can only use two types of nutrients for fuel: glucose and ketones (16). This is why, despite information that states a certain amount of glucose is needed per day for optimal brain function, a keto diet can actually support cognitive function. In fact, some people report improved focus, concentration and mental alertness when they enter ketosis.

The keto diet has been used for preventing seizures in epileptic patients, especially those who don’t respond well to medication. While it’s not entirely clear how this process works, research suggests removing carbs and mimicking the effect of starvation may block the neuron channels that lead to seizures (17).

The keto diet may also help patients with degenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease (18). Research shows that with the onset of Alzheimer’s, brain cells stop responding to insulin, which causes inflammation in the brain (19). By restricting carbs, the keto diet may help improve insulin sensitivity when it comes to brain function.

Can Improve Skin Health

A high-carb diet (especially when it comes to dairy products and refined sugar) has been shown to trigger sebum (oil) production in the skin, which is a major cause of acne (20). Removing sugar from your diet may also help improve inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis (21). The healthy fat intake on the keto diet also provides the building blocks of healthy skin cells (22).

Can Help Balance Hormones

Since ketosis has the ability to improve how insulin functions, it may improve the rest of your hormones and correct hormonal imbalances, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (23).

An easy way to understand how your hormones work is to picture them as strands of a spider web: You can’t remove one strand without affecting the rest. In other words, when one hormone is out of balance, the rest are negatively impacted — but when the functioning of one hormone is improved, the rest are improved too.

Could Have Anti-Cancer Properties

Cancerous tumors use glucose as a main source of energy to grow (24). For this reason, a keto diet could slow tumor growth in cancer patients of all stages by starving out the cells.

Research shows the keto diet may also enhance a patient’s response to chemotherapy. In fact, one study reported an improvement in sleep and emotional functioning in patients undergoing chemo who were also following a keto diet (25).

Can Help Control Food Cravings

We’ve discussed why the keto diet is beneficial for fat loss, but another way it can contribute to weight loss is by balancing your blood sugar levels, which reduces cravings for carbs (26). Since high fat foods are also richer and more satiating than carbs, you’ll also feel full with smaller portions.

Can Boost Metabolism

Some studies suggest ketosis can increase your metabolism by causing even more calories to be expended during the fat-for-fuel burning process (27).

How to Test If You’re in Ketosis

In order for the keto diet to work, you’ll need to know if you’re in ketosis or not. There are several ways to measure ketones in your body.

Urine Testing Strips

Elevated levels of ketones (the acetoacetate group, to be specific) can be instantly detected in your urine using strips such as KetoStrips. After dipping one of these strips into your urine stream, you’ll be able to find out which stage of ketosis you’re in based on the color guide provided.

You can find keto strips at nearly any drugstore and online through Amazon.

Acetone Breath Analyzer

Ketone breath analyzers allow you to measure your state of ketosis by detecting acetoacetates. A popular brand is Ketonix, which is a rechargeable ketone monitor that can be used over and over again.

Blood Monitor

The ketone blood monitor is the most accurate ketosis testing method. A blood monitor measures your state of ketosis by detecting the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB) in your blood, which is one of the primary ketones.(28)

It’s a little more invasive than the other keto testing methods, as it requires a prick of blood from your finger. Test kits are around $40, and blood ketone test strips go for roughly $5 each (you’ll need one for every time you test).

Types of Keto Diets

There are many different ways to follow a keto diet. Here are the four of the most common.

Standard Ketogenic Diet (SKD)

This standard ketogenic diet is one of the most researched versions of the keto diet and is what we’re referring to throughout this article (although, the same principles we’ve discussed apply to most of the other forms).

The SKD generally includes 5 percent carbs, 20 percent protein and 75 percent fat.

Targeted Ketogenic Diet (TKD)

The targeted ketogenic diet allows you to add extra carbs around workouts, surpassing the SKD 5 percent carb rule, and may be a better option for those who are extremely active and train more than twice per week. The easiest way to see if this is working for you is to keep testing your ketone levels when you add carbs after workouts and make sure that they don’t kick you out of ketosis.

High Protein Ketogenic Diet

The high protein ketogenic diet is close to the standard ketogenic diet, but with a higher ratio of protein. The macro count for the HPK diet is roughly 5 percent carbs, 35 percent protein and 60 percent fat.

Cyclical Ketogenic Diet (CKD)

This form rotates ketogenic days with high carb days, usually five ketogenic days followed by two high carb days. Sometimes referred to as ketogenic carb cycling, this version of the keto diet can help maximize fat loss and build muscle.

On high carb days, your body will leave a state of ketosis — but these “carb refeeds” may be more effective for muscle growth than the high protein or targeted keto diet, since glycogen is the nutrient that “feeds” muscles (29). Ketogenic carb cycling is also said to be less of a lifestyle stressor for some people, as the two high carb days make the CKD feel less restrictive and easier to follow.

How to Follow a Keto Diet

Keto Diet Mastery: weight loss

Since each person has a different body fat percentage and nutrient requirements, there is no one-size-fits-all caloric or macronutrient rule for getting into ketosis.

For example, athletes who train four to five times per week will still be able to enter a state of ketosis by eating a higher percentage of carbs, compared to someone who’s mostly sedentary.

The amount of carbs you’re allotted each day and the best type of keto diet for you to follow will depend on:

  • Your current weight
  • Your current body fat percentage
  • Your height
  • Your gender
  • Your fitness and activity levels
  • Your fitness and health goals (for example, bodybuilders may experience more muscle gain from a cyclical ketogenic diet versus a standard keto diet)

If you’re not already a keto pro, you can calculate your personal optimal macronutrient ratios by using this ketogenic calculator.

What Foods Are Off-Limits on a Keto Diet?

❌ Grains: Any type of whole grain or grain-based product (pasta, bread, cereal, rice, etc.)

❌ Fruit: All fruit (a few blackberries or strawberries are the exception if you’re not at your total carb percentage for the day since they’re lower in sugar)

❌ Root veggies: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, yams, carrots

❌ Beans and legumes: Lentils, garbanzo beans, peanuts, peas, kidney beans, navy beans

❌ Unhealthy fats: The keto diet encourages healthy fats, not unhealthy fats like those found in refined vegetable oils, such as canola, soybean, sunflower and peanut oil

❌ Processed foods: Avoid anything in a package or box, because it will most likely contain either a grain, sugar alcohols such as xylitol, refined sugar or all of the above

❌ Condiments: Conventional salad dressings, ketchup and sauces are generally high in carbs

❌ Alcohol: Since alcohol is a carbohydrate, even one glass of wine or a beer can throw you out of ketosis

What Can You Eat on a Keto Diet?

Keto Diet Mastery: keto food

So…what can you eat on the keto diet? The answer is: Plenty!

✅ Meat: Beef, elk, bison, bacon, ham

✅ Fatty fish: Wild salmon, halibut, sardines, mackerel

✅ Poultry: Chicken, organic eggs

✅ Nuts and seeds: Almonds, walnuts, macadamia nuts, cashews, flaxseeds, pumpkin, chia seeds

✅ Healthy fats: Avocado, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil

✅ Low carb vegetables: Leafy greens, onions, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, asparagus

✅ Condiments: Herbs and spices such as turmeric, black pepper, basil, mint, parsley, cilantro, mustard seed

If you’re looking for keto recipes, we’ve got you covered. Dishes like slow cooker beef bone broth and keto pizza can fit into just about anyone’s meal plans.

Keto Side Effects

If you’ve recently adopted the keto diet, you may be feeling a variety of side effects including nausea, dizziness, constipation, headaches and irritability. This is your body’s natural reaction to removing carbs from your diet, and we promise the symptoms are temporary. Also known as keto flu, it’s a natural reaction that occurs when your body switches from burning glucose as energy to burning fat.

Is Following the Ketogenic Diet Dangerous? Ketosis vs. Ketoacidosis

Ketosis is sometimes mixed up with ketoacidosis, which is a dangerous health condition that can turn your blood too acidic and lead to serious health problems, including death (30).

Ketoacidosis happens when your body fails to produce enough insulin, which is more commonly seen in those with Type 1 diabetes. It can also occur in those with Type 2 diabetes if diet and insulin levels aren’t being properly monitored (31).

On the other hand, when done properly, nutritional ketosis can improve insulin function, and people who don’t have blood sugar imbalances aren’t typically at risk for ketoacidosis (32).

Who Should Not Follow the Keto Diet

A word of caution: If you’re starting a new dietary plan, especially if it’s for a condition or disease, it’s best to consult a professional about your options.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding can be times of extreme physical vulnerability, and unless medically prescribed by a doctor, the ketogenic diet could do more harm than good. Likewise, certain conditions respond better to high carb and lower protein diets (like certain hormone imbalances or autoimmune diseases), so consider your individual circumstances above all else.

Get Started on the Keto Diet

Armed with knowledge, your keto food list and plenty of keto recipes, you should be ready to give the keto diet a try! Once your body adjusts, you’ll see increased energy levels, rapid fat burning and all the positive effects that come with ketosis.

The post Keto Diet Mastery: Your Comprehensive Guide to The Ketogenic Diet appeared first on The Kettle & Fire Blog.

Everything You Need to Know About the SIBO Diet

There are 60 to 70 million Americans suffering from some sort of digestive disease, with nearly 50 million visiting the doctor each year. (1) Unfortunately, the Standard American Diet (SAD) combined with the hectic lifestyles many of us lead are likely contributors to these staggering statistics.

We rush through our meals, eat processed foods and give ourselves little time to recover from the hustle and bustle of each day. This lifestyle is taking a toll as we forego nutrient-dense foods that take time to prepare in favor of foods that actively do damage to our gastrointestinal tract overtime. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) affects 15.3 million Americans, while Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s disease add almost another 1 million to the mix. (1)

SIBO isn’t listed in the U.S. Digestive Disease Statistics, but it could be contributing to these three ailments or could be a result of them, along with a number of other digestive disorders. SIBO stands for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. This complex syndrome is often responsible for chronic cases of diarrhea or constipation. SIBO sometimes causes IBS or is mistaken for it. (2)

The solution isn’t simple, but with proper testing, medical care, diet and lifestyle changes, SIBO is curable and controllable. We’re going to break down everything you need to know about SIBO, including the special diet that goes along with it.

What Is SIBO?

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth occurs when the small intestine becomes overrun with bacteria that don’t belong there. Humans are hosts to trillions of microbes (bacteria, yeasts and viruses) that live on and inside of our bodies, especially our digestive tract.

When all is going well, we enjoy a symbiotic relationship with most of them, especially the helpful types that reside in our colon. You might know these helpful types as probiotics — the good bacteria and yeasts living in our gut that help build up our immune system, digest dietary fiber and keep our health in good working order. In the case of SIBO, problems arise when bacteria (even the good kind) begin colonizing in high numbers where they don’t belong — in the small intestine.

The small intestine is the longest section of the our digestive system, spanning about 20 feet long, and is responsible for the absorption of certain nutrients, especially vitamin B12 and fats (3, 4). When bacteria are present in higher-than-normal numbers in the small intestine, they interfere with absorption, causing nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, cramping). The bacterial overgrowth can also generate inflammation, causing damage to the gut’s mucosal lining and inducing leaky gut syndrome. (4)

Diagnosing SIBO and Recognizing Symptoms

Because SIBO symptoms overlap widely with other digestive issues, such as IBS, Crohn’s disease and celiac disease, diagnosing SIBO can be challenging. The most common method for diagnosis is a lactulose breath test. Patients follow a specific diet for 12 hours and then fast for the following 12 hours. They then consume the lactulose solution and breathe into the testing device at various points for the subsequent few hours. (5)

These tests, while not considered 100 percent reliable, use breath analysis to ascertain whether hydrogen or methane-producing bacteria are present in the small intestine. (4) An overabundance of methane gas is associated with constipation, while an overabundance of hydrogen is associated with diarrhea. (5) Because these two symptoms directly contradict or can happen intermittently if both gases are abundant (as is often the case with IBS), initial misdiagnosis is common. The results of a breath test can sometimes be the only difference between a SIBO diagnosis and an IBS diagnosis.

Typical SIBO symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal cramping (5)

While in more severe cases, symptoms can elevate to:

  • Dramatic weight loss (due to malabsorption)
  • Steatorrhoea (fatty stool due to malabsorption)
  • Malnutrition
  • Vitamin B12 deficiency (due to malabsorption)
  • Liver lesions
  • Skin disorders (like rosacea, eczema, acne or rashes)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Anemia
  • Oedema of lower extremities (5)

These more severe symptoms are often comorbid with other diseases that can either exacerbate SIBO or be exacerbated by it. Additional symptoms include nerve pain (due to a B12 deficiency caused by SIBO), joint pain, depression, asthma, fatigue, nausea and vomiting. (6)

What Causes SIBO?

The human body has a number of built-in mechanisms to keep our microbial guests in check, both in number and in location. We have gastric juices in the stomach that kill most living microbes before they reach the small intestine.

Intestinal motility and the migrating motor complex (MMC) both prevent putrefaction inside the intestine. Motility is the movement of the food bolus through the digestive tract, while the MMC sweeps the intestines between meals to collect any residual particles that could be hiding. The ileocecal valve separates the small and large intestine, acting as the gateway between the two sections of the bowel and locking off the billions of flora in the colon. Finally, we have bile secretions from the pancreas that kill off anything that’s made it past the stomach acids. (5) Disruption or weakening of any one of these protective mechanisms can open us up to bacterial overgrowth and cause SIBO.

Stress

A little-known fact: Stress can profoundly affect the protective mechanisms we’ve just laid out and is one of the underlying causes to a number of digestive disorders. You may have noticed your own digestion change during a stressful time in your life if you’ve experienced butterflies in your stomach, indigestion or intestinal cramping.

A 2005 study on mice indicated that psychological stress significantly slowed small intestinal motility, increased the presence of the E. coli bacteria, and damaged the mucosal lining of the small intestine. (7) In healthy hosts, the bacteria inside the digestive tract work to keep each other in a state of equilibrium, but this study showed that the protective features of Lactobacillus bacteria diminished, allowing E. coli to over-colonize and disrupt regular gut function.

In addition to altering motility and colonic transit, certain types of stress have also shown repeatedly to alter visceral sensitivity, which might explain those cramps and bowel pain during stressful situations. (8)

Stomach acid production is greatly heightened in highly stressful situations as well, which might suppress mucosal immunity and allow damaging bacteria like H. pylori (the bacteria implicated in gastric ulcers) to proliferate. (9) The problem compounds itself when a chronically stressed individual opts to use medication to alleviate heartburn rather than addressing the underlying cause of the stress in their life.

Long-term use of proton-pump inhibitors like Prilosec or antacids like Pepcid AC or Zantac can also allow SIBO to take hold. They reduce the production of stomach acid, sometimes to a low enough level that would allow live bacteria to pass from the stomach into the small intestine.

Other Factors

Beyond stress, other underlying causes of SIBO include “anatomical abnormalities: small intestinal obstruction, diverticula, fistulae, surgical blind loop, previous ileo-cecal resections, and/or motility disorders (e.g. scleroderma, autonomic neuropathy in diabetes mellitus, post-radiation enteropathy, small intestinal pseudo-obstruction),” along with a number of diseases and syndromes. (5)

Many of these diseases involve a vicious circle where SIBO exacerbates them while they also exacerbate SIBO. These diseases include Crohn’s, celiac, diabetes mellitus, certain diseases of the liver and immunodeficiency syndromes like AIDS. (5)

Curing SIBO

SIBO is a complex syndrome and requires multiple interventions to cure it. It’s often a chronic problem, requiring cyclical treatment and regular intervals of testing and retesting in the event of persistent symptoms.

Dietary interventions that reduce inflammation and starve the misplaced bacteria have proven effective at reducing the uncomfortable and potentially damaging effects of SIBO, but they can’t fully eradicate the harmful bacteria on their own.

Prescription antibiotic treatments or herbal antibiotics administered by a naturopathic doctor are necessary for comprehensive SIBO treatment. These treatments target the types of bacteria colonizing the small intestine.

Ongoing stress-reduction practices and lifestyle changes will help prevent recurrence and are critical to effectively treat SIBO. It’s important to work with a doctor familiar with a holistic protocol for treating SIBO, as general antibiotics — especially if repeat treatments are necessary — are not recommended, nor is the use of antibiotics a complete solution to the problem. Tackling only one area of the three-fold approach of diet, medication and lifestyle change won’t be enough to properly treat SIBO.

The SIBO Diet

To treat SIBO with dietary changes, your first goals are to manage the symptoms and stop the damage. Your next goal is to nourish the gut and encourage it to heal and rebuild itself with specific foods.

Many holistic medical professionals will recommend starting off with the strictest version of the SIBO diet — one that combines aspects of the SCD diet (Specific Carbohydrate Diet) and GAPS diet (Gut and Psychology Syndrome), but also restricts further by only allowing very low-FODMAP foods. Quite a few acronyms! Don’t worry, we’ll explain.

The goal in both SCD and GAPS is to promote healing of a damaged digestive tract through nutrient-dense foods that are easy to digest. Patients with IBS, IBD (inflammatory bowel disease), Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease might try one of these diets to help alleviate their conditions.

GAPS, which is a more detailed and nuanced protocol, actually grew out of SCD research. It incorporates gut-healing foods such as bone broth and fermented juices and vegetables with every meal.

While these two protocols promote healing in a damaged gut, treating SIBO requires more restrictions at the onset. That’s where eating low-FODMAP comes in.

FODMAPs

The first goal of treating SIBO is to starve out the bacterial invaders. If they can’t eat, they can’t reproduce or release inflammatory compounds that damage the digestive tract. So what do these bacteria eat? You guessed it, FODMAPs. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols. Quite a mouthful! Thank goodness for the acronym. They can also be called fermentable carbohydrates for short.

FODMAPs are the foods to avoid on the SIBO diet. The concept of a low-FODMAP diet was developed by Sue Shepard, Peter Gibson and others at Monash University in Australia to help manage digestive disorders.

In addition to restricting specific foods, a low-FODMAP diet also stresses the importance of eating distinct meals throughout the day and avoiding snacking. This allows time between meals for that migrating motor complex (MMC) to do a thorough sweep of the small intestine. (10) It’s also important to slow down at meal time, chew your food completely, and focus on the meal in front of you. Digestion begins in the mouth!

You might be tempted to automatically assume that all FODMAPs are unhealthy foods, since they’re on the restricted list, but that isn’t the case. In a healthy individual without SIBO, these foods actually contribute to a diverse ecosystem of microbiota in the lower intestine. The main reason we’re avoiding them now is because in a patient with SIBO, those same bacteria are living in the wrong place, so we don’t want to feed them. Make sense?

The Strict SIBO Diet

It’s up to you how aggressively you want to treat SIBO with diet. Dr. Nirala Jacobi, ND, recommends a bi-phasic approach to treating SIBO, which starts out with an extremely restrictive diet and then begins expanding the food list after the first few weeks. Quantities of certain carbohydrate foods change how SIBO-friendly they are as well, so portion control matters on this plan.

You can learn more about Dr. Nirala’s bi-phasic approach and get her free 10-page guide here. Another naturopathic doctor, Dr. Allison Siebecker, created a user-friendly PDF in addition to a helpful app that will help you navigate the SIBO diet, including quantity recommendations. You can download her app here.

The Standard SIBO Diet

Overtime, as your digestive tract heals from SIBO, you can begin to introduce FODMAP foods back into your diet. At the beginning, it’s important to be pretty strict about restricting FODMAPs. The standard SIBO diet allows for a greater variety of fruits and veggies, although quantities are still important. Below, we’ve created a list of high- and low-FODMAP foods in somewhat broad strokes. As you continue to research this way of eating, you might also find that some lists contradict each other. We’ve done our best to compile the most agreed-upon list of SIBO-specific foods in both categories. Please consult the lists we’ve linked or the app for more detail.

High-FODMAP foods:

  • Alliums (garlic, onions, shallots, leeks)
  • Most brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kohlrabi — kale is OK)
  • Asparagus
  • Legumes (beans and peas; lentils are OK in limited quantities)
  • Root vegetables (beets, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, yucca)
  • Starchy vegetables (artichokes, okra, turnips)
  • Mushrooms
  • Certain fruits (In the bi-phasic form of the SIBO diet, initially avoid all fruit except lemons and limes. In a standard low-FODMAP diet, some fruit is allowed. Always avoid jellies, jams and juices.)
  • All grains
  • Sugar (includes agave, honey, maple syrup, molasses, sucralose and natural sugar substitutes that end in -ol; stevia is OK)
  • All conventional dairy products
  • Bacon sweetened with anything other than honey
  • All processed lunch meat and deli meat
  • Condiments that contain sugar or artificial ingredients (catsup, relish, etc.)
  • Chia seeds and seed flours
  • Soybean oil
  • Bouillon cubes or dry seasonings with anti-caking agents or unknown ingredients (11, 12, 13, 14)

Any new eating plan can start to feel pretty restrictive when you focus only on all the foods you can’t have. Let’s shift to what’s allowable on the SIBO diet. In addition to starving out the unwanted bacteria, it’s important to begin adding in nourishing foods that are easy to digest and nutrient-dense. Nutrient-absorption is often a problem for SIBO patients, so replenishment is essential.

Low-FODMAP Foods:

  • Leafy greens (arugula, lettuce, collards, chard, kale, endive, baby spinach, radicchio, bok choy)
  • Certain veggies (bell pepper, bamboo shoots, carrots, eggplant, green beans, cucumber)
  • Limited quantities of squash (kabocha, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut)
  • Certain fruits (bananas, berries, guava, pineapple, grapes, melon, dragon fruit, kiwi)
  • Certain organic dairy products (dry-aged cheese aged at least one month, homemade 24-hour yogurt and sour cream, butter, ghee, dry curd cottage cheese)
  • Nuts and seeds (in specific quantities; each nut or seed has its own quantity)
  • Organic fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil, organic animal fats, MCT oil, polyunsaturated fats except soybean oil)
  • Organic unprocessed meats and eggs
  • Wild fish
  • Bone broth
  • Honey (certain sources better than others)
  • Stevia (pure, no additives) (11, 12, 13, 14)

Following the SIBO Diet

Reading through this list of foods might feel overwhelming at first, but you’ll get the hang of it after a week or so of trial and error. Having a cheat sheet or app with you as a quick reference while you’re away from home will definitely help you stay on track and navigate food you’re not making for yourself.

Recipes that focus on the low-FODMAP foods, like eggplant and tomato with fresh basil and organic parmesan cheese, or leg of lamb slow-cooked in bone broth with stewed tomatoes and carrots can help you enjoy this process without feeling overly restricted.

Experts don’t always agree on which is the best diet for SIBO patients or how long they should stay on such a specific diet. In fact, some conventional GI doctors will simply prescribe an antibiotic (usually Rifaximin) and make no mention of any dietary changes.

Naturopathic doctors like Drs. Siebecker and Nirala stress the use of this therapeutic diet to reduce uncomfortable symptoms and promote the healing process. They argue that to forego the diet is to risk an uncomfortable “die-off” process as the antibiotic or herbal antibiotics do their work of killing off the bacteria. The diet is meant, in part, to make that process more bearable.

Caution: The SIBO Diet Isn’t Forever

While we do recommend following the SIBO diet as part of your overall plan to treat SIBO, it’s important to remember that this diet isn’t meant to last forever. It’s a temporary, therapeutic regimen designed to starve out bacteria in the body.

Sharing your body with your microbial inhabitants is critical for healthy immune function, digestive function and fighting chronic inflammation. When the good bugs are in the right place (the colon), we don’t want to starve them out.

Once you’ve removed those bugs from your small intestine, it’s important to begin feeding and replenishing the ones in your colon. Slowly reincorporating FODMAP foods and fermented foods, along with possibly supplementing with a good-quality probiotic, will help keep your gut health on track.

Preventing Recurrence

As we mentioned at the beginning, SIBO can be a chronic problem, recurring often and requiring a repeat of the protocol we’ve outlined here.

The best ways to prevent recurrence are all about making healthy choices, both in the kitchen and in your day-to-day life:

  • Avoid processed, sugary foods and focus on nutrient-dense foods.
  • Eat only gluten-free grains or baked goods (sparingly).
  • Continue eating distinct meals and avoiding ongoing snacking.
  • Chew each bite of food well before swallowing.
  • Slow down at meal time and try to focus on eating without the distractions of TV or your phone.
  • Continue drinking bone broth and consuming probiotic foods.
  • Find a stress-management practice that works for you.

Every day is a decision about how you will take care of yourself. Choose to prioritize your health and you will be far less likely to relapse.

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Food for Health: 15 Foods to Eat for Overall Health

Living a healthy lifestyle begins with eating healthy food. To support your gut and overall health, you should focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods. This includes a variety of quality fats, proteins and carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.

Below is a list of some of the healthiest foods you can consume for your overall health.

Protein: Meat and Seafood

Protein helps build muscle, prevent injuries and boost your metabolism. Animal-based protein is particularly important because meat, seafood and eggs contain all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein). “Essential” means the body cannot produce these on its own (1).

Organ Meats

Organ meats such as liver, tongue and heart are some of the healthiest foods you can buy. A 100-gram portion of beef liver contains over 1000% of your daily B12 allowance, over 200% of your daily riboflavin (or B2 vitamins), and over 700% your daily needs for copper (4). Organ meats are great sources of EPA and DHA, two omega–3 fatty acids which are essential for improving brain health, depression and cognitive function(5)(6).

Grass-Fed Beef

Is grass-fed really worth the hype? Actually, yes — there is a nutritional difference between grain-fed and grass-fed beef. Grass-fed beef contains less fat, more CLA, more omega–3 fatty acids and more vitamins (most notably vitamin E) than grain-fed beef (7). CLA, or conjugated linoleic acid, is an essential fatty acid and antioxidant, linked to lowering cancer risk and lowering body fat (8).

Bone Broth

A healthy gut is the core of your overall health, so it’s important to keep your gut strong and healthy.  Bone broth has been shown to help heal and restore the lining of your gut (the walls of your intestines). How? Bone broth contains L-glutamine, an amino acid, that is crucial for the gut’s ability to heal itself from wear and tear caused by stress and diet.

A healthy diet that includes bone broth has been shown to help decrease intestinal permeability, which contributes to the prevention of certain diseases, reverses leaky gut syndrome, and reduces symptoms related to Crohn’s disease (10).

Eggs

Eggs once got a bad rap for containing cholesterol, but after 60 years of research eggs have been shown to have no significant effect on raising LDL cholesterol levels (2). Eggs are one of the most affordable, easy-to-prepare and nutrient dense foods on this list. One large contains 6 grams of protein and just 70 calories. They are an excellent source of vitamin B12, vitamin A, riboflavin, selenium and phosphorus (3).

Wild Salmon

Fatty fish, like salmon, contain a healthy dose of fats and protein. Half a filet of salmon contains 40 grams of protein, 100 of your daily allowance for B12 vitamins and 85% for vitamin B6 (9). Fish is a great source of omega–3 fatty acids. Omega–3 fatty acids have been shown to improve your overall heart health, including a lower risk of developing heart disease and lower high blood pressure (5).

Sardines

If you have trouble digesting dairy, here’s something you should know: One cup of sardines contains quadruple the amount of Vitamin D and double the amount of calcium as a glass of milk (11)(12). Sardines are an excellent source of protein, packing 36.7 grams into a single cup. Sardines also contain over 200% of your daily allowance for B12, 112% for selenium and 73% of phosphorus.

Carbohydrates: Fruits and Vegetables

While carbohydrates might have you picturing gluten-rich foods such as pasta, bread or your favorite brown sugar oatmeal, healthy carbohydrates come from fruit and vegetables. Fill your plate with a wide variety of both — including leafy greens, low sugar fruits and safe starches.

Kale

If you’re looking for an easy way to get more vitamins and minerals, use kale instead of iceburg or butter lettuce in your favorite salads. Kale is a superfood, containing 206% of your daily allowance for vitamin A, 134% for vitamin C, 684% for vitamin K and also contains copper and manganese. And the best part? It packs all of this nutrition with just 33 calories per cup (13).

Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes might just be the healthiest form of starch you can consume. One sweet potato contains contains choline, betaine, potassium and manganese. It also contains over 400% of your daily needs of vitamin A and is extremely high in fiber (14).

Sauerkraut

You might think of sauerkraut as more of a condiment than a vegetable, but we couldn’t leave it off this list. Sauerkraut is fermented cabbage, making it rich in probiotics. Add a serving of sauerkraut to any meal to improve your digestion and skin health (15). If you purchase sauerkraut rather than make your own, make sure it’s fermented — otherwise, you won’t get the health benefits from the good bacteria.

Jerusalem Artichoke

Since we touched on probiotics, we thought it best to include prebiotics on this list too. Probiotics and prebiotics should be taken together because they help “feed” one another. Jerusalem artichokes are a one of the best sources of prebiotics, and have been shown to improve the overall health of intestinal cells (16) and increase the number of healthy bacteria in your gut (17).

Berries

While fruits like apples, oranges and bananas are packed with micronutrients, they are also incredibly high in sugar. Berries, on the other hand, are relatively low in sugar while still containing high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants. Blueberries, blackberries and raspberries have some of the highest amounts of antioxidants in fruits (18).The antioxidants in raspberries have been shown to lower your risk of Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (19).

Healthy Fats: Nuts, Seeds and Cooking Fats

While scientists once thought fat makes people fat, new studies show that eating healthy dietary fats can actually boost your metabolism (20). Fats give you energy, help you absorb vitamins and minerals and promote brain health. Plus, fats are extremely satiating, which can actually help promote weight loss. When consuming fats, it’s best to consume them from quality sources, avoiding unhealthy fats like fried foods, processed food and heated seed oils.

Coconut

Coconut products like flour, oil, flakes and butter are excellent sources of healthy fats. Coconut contains a certain type of fat called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) which are easily digested by the liver and therefore can be used as an energy source (21). MCTs have also been shown to help reduce the onset of obesity by speeding up your metabolism (22).

Grass-Fed Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter, made by heating butter then removing the milk solids. This removes casein protein and lactose from ghee, meaning those who have lactose intolerance can usually consume it. Ghee is a good source of healthy fats like CLA and butyric acid, a fatty acid shown to improve insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation (23)(24).

Chia Seeds

Chia might just be one of the healthiest foods you can find, with a healthy dose of omega–3 fatty acids. They’re extremely high in fiber, resulting in only 1 gram of net carbs per serving. One ounce of these little seeds contains 4.4 grams of protein, 30% of your daily magnesium and 18% of your daily calcium intake (25).

Almonds

Nuts — like almonds — provide a healthy dose of fats and can be ground into flour or meal which, like coconut, can be used as a gluten-free flour. One cup of almonds contains 24 grams of protein, 56 grams of fat and 12 grams of fiber (26). Almonds are a good source of calcium, copper, magnesium and iron. In fact, one cup contains 24% of your daily iron needs.

Eating Food for Health

Your overall health is directly impacted by the foods you eat. While an optimal diet will vary person to person, a good starting point is eating real, whole foods and avoiding processed and packaged foods.

If you are looking to take things one step further, and use your diet to help heal leaky gut or other ailments, check out this Leaky Gut Diet Plan, complete with a detailed list of which foods you should enjoy (and which to avoid) to improve your gut health.

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