Like many people, I have battled with digestive issues, and that is what ultimately led me to become a dietitian. Years ago, I experienced symptoms which were caused by food sensitivities and nutritional imbalances. With the help of a dietitian, we discovered I was reacting to cow’s milk and gluten. After an elimination diet and reworking my diet, my symptoms disappeared. This healing process inspired me to return to school and study nutrition so I could share this type of vital, often elusive, nutrition information to help heal others.
After years of being symptom-free, I began to experience digestive issues once again. As in my original journey which I discuss in my books, A Nutrition Revolution and A Nutrition Evolution, I saw many practitioners both conventional and natural and was tested for food sensitivities and allergies, among other things. Tests found no true allergies, but results showed I was having trouble digesting many foods including bananas, cucumbers, onions, garlic, avocadoes, gluten, eggs, beef, lamb, and codfish. Wow! So, once again I did an elimination diet and took enzyme and probiotic supplements to help aid digestion. Unfortunately, unlike the first time around, neither the elimination diet nor the supplements seemed to help.
Elimination diets can be great tools as discoveries are made and health issues can improve when problem foods are found and removed from the diet. However, as I said, this time my symptoms remained. This meant that the root cause of my digestive issues might not be food-related.
As many people know, finding and dealing with root causes of health issues, especially digestive ones, can be a difficult and frustrating process; one that we must often go through alone. Luckily for me, I found knowledgeable and affordable natural healers in both instances. This included my original nutritionist and more recently an acupuncturist/herbalist/nutritionist/kinesiologist to help me through it. But, make no mistake; I was lucky to find them and I had to lead the process.
During a major bout of heartburn, an advice nurse suggested I go to the hospital since heart attack symptoms can mimic those of heartburn. The doctor on shift at the time suggested a gallbladder ultrasound, as well as other tests. Later, I had the ultrasound done and yes, it turned out there was a large gallstone stuck in the neck of my gallbladder which likely caused many, or all, of my digestive issues. The medical staff could not believe I had not experienced more discomfort, and that I hardly knew it was there. As I said, I was experiencing and investigating digestive issues but they were nothing like what most people would experience with a gallstone that size. In fact, the attack happened after eating a turkey “Panini” at a local health food restaurant while researching recipes for a client project I was working on. Although I had smaller bouts of heartburn previously, I was managing them, mostly with alkaline foods. I simply was not used to eating these larger portions of meat, cheese, or white flour and it sent my gallbladder into a tailspin.
Gallstones and fibroids are common in people with high estrogen, according to my naturopathic practitioner. I have also had large fibroids, so high estrogen is possibly the reason for both of these issues.
I am still eating healthfully (and avoiding large doses of those Panini ingredients) and consuming a gallstone appropriate diet; which means smaller meals, continuing with a mostly plant-based diet, and taking herbs. All of this has dramatically improved my symptoms. With the help of a wonderful naturopathic practitioner, I am trying to shrink the gallstone in hopes it will eventually be small enough to pass through with minimal discomfort. This could take time, maybe even a year or more.
I have so far put the surgeon off which is great because I would like to keep my gallbladder and return to optimal digestive health, naturally.
As was the case in my original healing, finding the root cause in our current medical system took time and basically miracles to figure out. Without luck, determination, and knowledge about the power of natural healing, I would not have gotten this far and I do not want this to be the case for anyone, including me.
Natural healing is at times frustrating but also empowering; because figuring out what our bodies are trying to tell us as they behave in a certain way is something we can do and is powerful. Hopefully one day the Healthcare system will evolve into one that includes all practitioners working together to heal root causes so we can all heal naturally and effectively. Healing sources of problems is far superior to unquestioningly taking uber-potent, man-made medicines to treat symptoms, continuing to suffer, and eventually removing body parts.
In the meantime, we must take these healing processes one step at a time, do our best, try to minimize frustration, and be patient. It is also important to be realistic and prepare for difficult moments. During my first elimination diet years ago, I remember staring into the cupboard in tears, hungry, frustrated, and thinking, “I can’t eat anything!” But I carried on, eventually found foods I could eat, and the process was ultimately successful. These experiences led me to this field of work of educating and helping others heal naturally. They have also helped me to help others on their healing journeys; as I have been there too.
So, let us all keep plugging away, asking questions, and seeking enlightenment until we all achieve optimum health!
Beth Kahn offers personalized nutrition counseling in person and via voice or video chat. For more information Contact Us and check out her books “A Nutrition Revolution: Uncover the Mysteries of Nutrition,” and “A Nutrition Evolution: The Revolution Continues.”
Catch my interview on Pub Talk with KRML radio station in Monterey, CA. These guys have a great show and station. They promote “good” local businesses. They are also, like my business is, INDEPENDENTLY owned and operated.
I am super motivated and excited to share the word about nutrition and nice people like these help me do that. Thanks guys! Onward; as there is more to say and do until we all evolve!
Peace and Natural Healing!
Dietitian, Educator, and Author of A Nutrition Revolution and A Nutrition Evolution
I am asked regularly what I think about this diet or that diet. Adkins, Ketogenic, low-carb, Eat Right for Your Blood Type, etc. Usually my answer is some variation of this: Most of us eat too many processed foods, high fat meat, refined flours, sugars, and not enough healthy fresh plant foods including vegetables, fruit, whole, diverse grains and healthy sources protein. In addition to that, I recommend people eat organically grown and minimally processed food as much as possible. We should limit our consumption of pesticides, additives (preservatives, food dyes, etc.), foods made with hormones, antibiotics and GMO.
I have recently read (and re-read) Grain Brain, South Beach Diet and Diet Cure. My answer is still the same.
While there are more and more books coming out all of the time and new and updated theories about what we should be eating and not eating, the popular book “The South Beach Diet” written in 2004 (updated in 2009) is still a good overview of what a balanced diet can look like, and allows for the reader or “dieter” to enjoy foods they love. Importantly for our current state of simple sugar over-consumption, the book offers a specific detox plan to help purge the sugars and manufactured carbohydrates out of the body. The detox program helps with cravings, weight loss, food intolerances and more, and it only lasts a couple weeks. The plan also allows for more and more freedom as you progress from week to week.
I do feel that the South Beach Diet includes too many animal sources of protein for my preference however.
As I often say, education is ideal. The more understanding one has about nutrition the more freedom one has to choose and therefore the more likely they are to be successful. For any diet to be successful you should look for doable lifestyle changes, not strict diets or regimented menus which are limiting and therefore unsustainable.
As I say in my book “A Nutrition Revolution”, learn to fish rather than being sold a fish- as the old saying goes- and you will have more freedom, choices and will therefore be more likely to be successful. Check out my book for more on this and to gain a better understanding about nutrition and why many of us are stuck on a perpetual diet and sickness wheel (hint: ignorance and $$$) and what we can do about it.
- 1teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1garlic clove, diced
- 6ounces portabella mushroom caps, cleaned
- 1pinch salt
- 1pinch black pepper, freshly ground
- 12ounces mozzarella cheese
- 10fresh basil leaves
- 2tomatoes, fresh roasted and sliced
- oregano leaves (optional)
- Combine oil and garlic in a small bowl and rub the mushroom caps on all sides with the mixture.
- Place caps, top side down, in a circle on an oiled baking sheet.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the cheese, basil, and tomato slices alternately in a circle on top of the mushrooms.
- Sprinkle with oregano, if using.
- Bake at 450 until the cheese melts, about 3 minutes.
You try to eat healthy. You buy organic. You travel to the farmers market to get fresh, local produce. You try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and drink the proper amount of water. You exercise. So how much is this helping amidst a toxic environment? Is this enough to stay healthy? To keep cancer at bay? Asthma, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease? How much does the environment affect you despite your “healthy” choices? What, if anything, can you do about it?
These are questions that cross my mind. I can’t help but wonder how my environment is affecting my food, body, mind and health, despite my best efforts.
Food, the environment and our health are inextricably linked. Toxic chemicals are added to our food, bodies, soil, water, and air. Pollutants infiltrate our environment from our cars and factories. These substances cause cancer, asthma, allergies, birth defects, and more. The planet is changing, temperatures are rising and as a result farmland and crops are being affected. This can be overwhelming to think about and make one wonder, what can I alone do about it?
The health of the environment is definitely a problem, and needs to be addressed. At the same time, what we put into our bodies does matter. We should eat quality food, drink plenty of water, exercise, work to reduce stress, etc. These choices can help us deal with an unhealthy and unnatural environment. For instance, many healthy plant foods have proven cancer fighting abilities. Components of plant foods help the body to flush toxins out before they can do harm. A healthy diet and lifestyle also have many other health benefits, including reducing stress – a major cause of disease – and the risk of diabetes, obesity and Alzheimer’s disease. So it all helps but we must also do what we can to help heal the planet. But where do we begin?
How can we help heal this suspended blue ball we call “Earth” that must sustain us?
I recently watched the documentary: “How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things Climate Can’t Change.” I was inspired for change and have a better understanding of what is going on with our planet, on a macro-level. On a micro-level, I firmly believe that awareness is the key to solving these and other problems. One person at a time, and one click at a time can change the world. I encourage you to watch and share this fabulous documentary. We can heal our planet and ourselves, but only if enough of us wake up make it happen.
The process of producing much of the US food supply involves poisoning it, the surrounding areas and its inhabitants. More and more people in this country are coming down with asthma, autism, and cancer due to an unhealthy diet, lifestyle and environment. Yet, this process of poisoning our food and environment continues.
I can personally attest to the effects of these powerful chemicals, including pesticides that are used in commercial farming. I relocated from the San Francisco Bay Area to an area called the worlds “salad bowl” in central CA, which grows much of the world’s produce. During my daily commute through the vast, spectacularly beautiful farmland, I regularly felt a burning sensation in my throat and chest, which I had never experienced before. When I changed my route away from the farmland, this strange burning sensation in my respiratory system completely ceased. I am confident however, I am still coming into contact with chemicals in the food I eat, water I drink, and air I breathe, and so no doubt are you. Obviously the field workers are being regularly exposed as they cannot “drive around” the area.
This chemical processing is only one part of the problem. There is much more being done to our food and our environment as man continues to try to make money and outsmart Mother Nature. For instance, plant DNA is being modified, and soil is often not replenished with nutrients in between plantings. This further weakens an already compromised food supply and planet. Man-made “mystery” food is being created with unknown effects on people, animals, and the planet, and less nutrient dense foods with toxic chemicals added to it are being produced. We are consuming this unhealthy mix and it is making us sick.
Contributing to this “sicklic” cycle is lack of awareness. Consumers do not see these processes or microscopic chemicals and farm workers who experience it first-hand, have little to no power to speak up or change it. And so the sicklic-cycle continues and will continue until something forces it to alter course.
Most companies that mass produce food do not operate on the basis of kindness; they operate on the basis of profit. Cheap processing methods are therefore preferred and since people still buy this unhealthy food, producers have no reason to switch to healthier methods. Period. Let’s change the part of the equation we can control; let us the consumer pay more attention and vote more with our dollars and voices, loud and impactful enough to force change.
Then wait for it…as the chemotherapy and other sickness industry profiteers will quiver at the thought of a clean, healthy planet. And for the record, the same recipe of greed and ignorance applies to that sick-cycle as well.
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I have been busy with a teaching “gig” lately, and I realized I have not shared anything “healthy” here in two years. Happily, I have been given the opportunity to teach high school students about mental, emotional, social, and physical health (including nutrition). This is not for the faint of heart, but I am grateful to be able to…and they sure need it! Now, it is almost summer break and I look forward to spending it relaxing, refreshing, and sharing more healthy living tips here with all of you.
By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn
May 7th, 2012
We met a lot of amazing people there including interested parents, grandparents, and kids who want to learn how to cook.
During the market, Chef Lynda held cooking demonstrations with several young volunteers. Lynda showed the eager students how to cut fruits and vegetables using a Chef’s knife. All of the kids did great!
We saw some former students of the foundation who offered their words of support.
Let’s keep cooking with kids!