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1. Question: Insurance Increase Due to High Cholesterol?
Hello! I have a question about cholesterol. We have been following (loosely)
Nourishing Traditions for the last 8 years or so. My husband had his cholesterol checked in order to get a life insurance policy. They said it was somewhat high and increased the rates. We were not happy with that.
I looked at Mary Enig’s information in Eat Fat, Lose Fat and what I could find in NT saying that lower levels are not particularly better levels. (Of course I am not going to convince and insurance company of that.) I couldn’t find any actual numbers as to what Mary Enig thinks might be an acceptable range.
My husband is a little concerned. We want to make sure we are doing the best thing. I would not ever consider drugs, but should we try some diet change to bring it down? He is slim, looks great. He is 45 and healthy. Thanks for your help!
Oh, gee whiz! How ridiculous that they want to increase your rates based on that.
Honestly, I would get a different insurance company if there is any way you can do it. I’m turning 43 tomorrow and I just signed up for insurance last month (could finally afford it; I work for myself) and my insurance company never asked me about my cholesterol. I have never had it checked in my life and I don’t intend to.
The short answer is: the whole idea of cholesterol levels is a joke. It is really meaningless information since cholesterol numbers are different for everyone. Sometimes it can mean increased inflammation, but it really depends on the individual so you can’t just say just because one person’s number is “high” that that means anything.
Here are a few very interesting articles that are worth reading:
Lastly, if you want to try something dietary to lower his cholesterol, read this article:
It really depends on his numbers. The truth is, his numbers might be absolutely fine as they are. But coconut oil might help.
2. Question: OK to Take Toddler Off Bottle?
Hi Ann Marie,
I have a 26-month-old daughter who has been on the Sally Fallon cow’s milk baby formula since a few weeks old. I had problems with my milk supply. We tried and tried to no avail, and breastfeeding was over very quickly for us.
My daughter has thrived on the homemade formula and still loves to drink it. We follow WAP diet principles as closely as possible, but I’m so paranoid about taking her off the bottle in fear that she will not get the proper nutrition. She’s starting the toddler, picky eater stage and I’m just worried she’s not going to get enough of the nutrients she needs. Would love to hear your thoughts on when to take her off the bottle.
Crystal Lake, IL
As you may know, I too, experienced low milk supply (I found out too late that it was because my doctor put me on the birth control pill after my baby was born — grrr!) I made my daughter the homemade raw milk formula until she was almost 2 years old.
I ended up packing away the bottles after I took her to the pediatrician when she was a little over 2 years old and we found out she was slightly anemic. This is a pretty common condition called “milk anemia”. Kate has always loved her bottles and her milk, so getting her off the bottle was critical to making sure her iron levels were normal.
Here are the posts about her anemia and how we resolved it:
3. Question: Melatonin OK for Three-Year-Old?
Good evening. I have a question for you. First of all, thanks so much for the Q&A so I have somewhere to turn! My three-year-old has decided that sleep is no longer a requirement and fights me on it each night. I used to put her to bed at 7:30 and she would sleep 12 hours with a 2 hour nap (until about age 2.5).
She just turned three and for the past several weeks she has not been sleeping well. She will not go to sleep until after 10 pm and often won’t nap. She may be getting out of the nap stage and removing that may help (I haven’t tried it yet though as it’s still part of her day at daycare) but I am concerned that even without a nap she still won’t go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Assuming there isn’t some other explanation (like stress or diet) what are your thoughts on melatonin? And if diet could be a factor what would you suggest adding or removing to help with her sleep?
Ugh… sleep problems — I feel you! My daughter slept fabulously until recently. She’s 4 and won’t go to bed until 11 pm! Also won’t nap (I think she’s done with naps).
It’s a bad habit we’ve gotten into — mainly because I’m working too much and she wants to be up with me (I work at home but I’m up late on the computer most nights). I’ve just hired two virtual assistants so this will be remedied soon!
If I were you, I would first remove the nap and see if that helps. That might solve it. Then again, it might just make things worse. Sleep begets sleep, so often times if a child is sleep-deprived, they sleep even less.
If removing the nap makes things worse, give her the nap again. Also, she may only want to nap a few days a week — let her needs dictate whether or not she needs the nap.
Secondly and really this should be firstly (!), read
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. This is the best book out there on helping kids get the sleep they need. In fact, once I get my new assistants trained, we are getting back on the Weissbluth bandwagon.
As far as melatonin is concerned, that’s a good idea and I might also try amino acids. Totally safe to give to kids, according to Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure. However, she recommends tryptophan, not melatonin. Tryptophan converts to serotonin, which converts to melatonin in the evening.
If you find that the other things don’t work, try giving her tryptophan (1/2 the adult dose — read
The Mood Cure to learn about the different kinds and brands) in the afternoon (around 4 pm). That must be coupled with a nutrient-dense traditional foods diet with at least 10 grams of protein at each meal.
Honestly, now that I write that, I realize that part of my problem with Kate is that she is not eating enough protein. Protein is what amino acids are made of, and it can be tough to get picky preschoolers to eat enough protein.
I’m going to start insisting that Kate eat more meat, cheese, beans and other foods with lots of protein, and I’m also going to start giving her more broth every day and putting gelatin caps (I use Bernard Jensen) in her milk (if I can get away with it!). I also made her homemade jello with fruit juice and gelatin caps. You can also add gelatin to yogurt or pudding. It’s really great to give them gelatin or gelatin-rich broth becuase it is a protein-sparer, and can replace half the weight of protein (!!).
Thanks for helping me solve my own problem by thinking “out loud” (well on the page anyway). Please report back and let me know how your daughter is doing. I’m definitely going to start boosting the broth and protein in Kate’s diet TODAY (and if that doesn’t work after a few weeks, I will try giving her a little tryptophan in the afternoons).
4. Question: What to Do About Chapped Lips?
I have noticed that I have been having really chapped lips recently. I eat a real foods diet full of healthy fats and vegetables with very little refined sugar or grains, so I am wondering if it is really food-related? I am living with a family I babyist for and she told me they drink the tap water because they had it tested for lead and it was fine. But now I am wondering if it is related to the water quality. Or maybe I am deficient in some vitamin or mineral… have you heard of any causes of chapped lips that I should consider? Thanks!
I don’t think it is the water (although I personally don’t drink unfiltered tap water unless I have to).
There are vitamin deficiencies associated with chapped lips. Have you checked to make sure you are digesting, eliminating and absorbing your food properly? If you don’t have constipation, diarrhea, skin problems (acne, eczema, etc.) or other problems, you may be fine.
It might just be that you’re not eating enough fat. Here’s an interesting thread on a Jenny Craig forum about people saying they are getting chapped lips ever since they started eating Jenny Craig (very low fat).
Try boosting your fat intake and see if that helps. Good fats include: grass-fed butter, cream and ghee, coconut oil, beef tallow, lard, palm oil and olive oil.
5. Question: What to Add When Soaking Grains?
Hi there, Ann Marie, what do you make of this? I’m wondering what traditional societies used to add when soaking grains?
Also what about whey (which is what I use) does that have much calcium in it? (since the creamy milk part has been seperated).
I thought the name Amanda Rose sounded familiar, and sure enough she made some rather controversial postings on your raw dairy article, Will the Real California Happy Cows Please Stand Up? She has an interesting website with lots more on the phytic acid issue plus a great deal more: www.rebuild-from-depression.com
Soaking and sprouting are very important, and whole grains are infinitely preferable to nutrionally void refined grains. I’m eternally grateful to Sally Fallon Morell for writing her seminal book,
Nourishing Traditions, and making us all aware of how we need to treat grains in order to properly digest and absorb the nutrients they contain. If you think about what she personally contributed to the world, it’s nothing short of miraculous. Without Sally, I wonder if all of this information would have just disappeared along with our ancestors.
All cultures soaked and/or sprouted their grains. Wheat and rye and spelt were naturally sprouted in the fields by the dew. Flour was then soaked in buttermilk or clabbered milk (this is where “buttermilk biscuits” comes from) or people used wild yeasts to make sourdough which they used to ferment the flour. Oats were also soaked and so was rice. Corn was soaked in lime water (cal) typically for anywhere from 7-14 days. You can read this article I wrote to learn more: Soaking Grains: A Traditional Practice.
That said, there are some issues with our modern food production that cause problems. It was Ramiel Nagel, author of Cure Tooth Decay, who first opened my eyes to the fact that the oatmeal we buy here in America is pretty much all heat-treated. It’s hard to find flaked or rolled oatmeal that has not been heat-treated.
Here’s how I am handing the issue of oatmeal: we don’t eat it anymore. I have a huge box of Quaker oatmeal I bought from Costco but I don’t want to eat it because of this issue of it being heat-treated. I’m going to give it to our housekeeper.
You can of course, add some whole wheat flour (according to Amanda Rose) and this should reduce the phytic acid. That said, I still don’t like the idea of eating something heat-treated because I know there is a loss of nutrients.
For that reason, I plan to get an oat flaker (or roller) so I can buy whole, raw oat groats (you can buy them online) and flake them myself, then soak them overnight.
As far as other grains are concerned, brown rice should be soaked. I buy sprouted rice online (see my resources page for where to buy) then soak it using Stephan’s method: A New Way to Soak Brown Rice. I do buy brown rice pasta which is not soaked, but we don’t eat it very often (maybe once or twice a month).
For bread, we eat sprouted bread (Alvarado Street Bakery) or real sourdough bread. We buy it because we don’t eat a lot of bread and I’m too busy lately to make it myself. I also make my own sprouted flour crackers.
6. Question: Benefits of the GAPS diet?
I have some questions regarding the GAPS diet I guess I am just trying to determine whether or not I can start this diet and get enough results to make it worth it or if I should just wait till fall when my husband thinks I should to start with the intro diet. I am so sick of always being tired, not sleeping well, not digesting food well, being constipated and always being on edge with my family, not to mention the itchy bumpy rashes all over my hands and arms and the sudden food allergies I developed about 8 months ago.
On stage one if you have already been eating about 1 cup of cultured veggies per day can you continue or do you need to stop and just drink a small amount of the juice from them like it says.
Can I continue taking a coconut water kefir during stage one, if not where could I reintroduce it?
I am nursing but only twice per day before nap and bed, my son just turned 2 years old so he’s not dependent on my milk. Could I still do the intro phase or do I need to stop nursing first? I guess my question is, does it dry up my milk or is it junk from detoxing that my son would get from my milk that is the reason for not doing intro while nursing?
I have not been officially diagnosed by a doctor but I do believe I have chronic fatigue syndrome and systemic candida. Do you think that it is possible to heal these issues on the full GAPS diet? I do not have the full support of my husband at this time to start the into diet but I think I could convince him to do the full GAPS… I know it would obviously be better than nothing but I want to know in your experienced opinion if I could gain enough success from it to maybe subside many of my symptoms until I can start the full version.
How do I know when I am ready to move onto the next phase? Perhaps this is answered in the book, I just have not had enough extra money to buy the book and guide book and have been trying to get as much information as I could online before I am able to purchase it. For example, regarding food allergies, I am allergic to almonds, do I just try them and see if I break out or not quite? With other symptoms such and skin rashes how do I know that it’s OK to move on if it clears up since it comes and goes right now anyway?
Thank you SOO much for being willing to answer my questions, I greatly, greatly appreciate it.
By the way, I am currently on a 100% sugar free diet including no fruit, honey…nothing except I do use stevia, I consume no grains or potatoes either. We eat pastured eggs, grass fed beef and other good meats, we use fermented cod liver oil and drink raw goats milk, all that good stuff
Hi, Bethany, I’ll start by saying — and please don’t take offense at this — that you may be overthinking this a bit too much and making it more difficult than it needs to be. I say this because if I thought like you do, I would be overwhelmed and would never be able to get started.
I hear from so many people who want to do the GAPS diet but are afraid they won’t do it perfectly. I healed myself back in the ’90s and I did not even have the GAPS diet. I was FAR from perfect.
So, I guess my point is, please don’t worry about being perfect! Perfection is impossible. Just get started!
Now, to answer your specific questions.
On stage 1, it’s fine to start with 1 cup per day of the cultured veggies if that is what you are used to — unless you start having “die-off” reactions in which case, cut down or cut back to the liquid — or cut it out entirely and then slowly add it in.
You can try coconut water kefir — but just watch for die-off reactions. The reason Dr. Campbell-McBride is so painstaking about how to get started (this is my opinion anyway) is to help folks avoid die-off reactions. The rule of thumb is to go slow with the probiotics and fermetned foods. If you start feeling crappy or all your symptoms flare up, cut them up and do a SLOW introduction of anything fermented (including fermented cod liver oil).
I think since your son is 2, you could do the intro diet. I am pretty sure the reason Dr. Campbell-McBride recommends the full diet for nursing moms is so you can get enough nutrition and so you are eating enough.
Yes, it is possible to heal these issues on the full diet. If you want to just do the full GAPS diet, it will work. The reason to go intro is the healing is faster.
You are ready to move onto the next phase when you have no diarrhea or constipation.
I really recommend getting the book before you start the diet. See if you can find it at a local library.
Best of luck to you! Please report back and let us know how you are doing.
7. Question: Eating Traditional Foods to Manage Diabetes?
I posted this message to a Traditional Foods board and I got horrible responses about how I am wanting to deprive my son of carbs — I am not. And how I want to not give him insulin, which is not true. Do you have any more information about how to eat TF and manage diabetes type 1?
We have been home from the hospital a week now and I am really struggling to reconcile what I know about nutrition and all that I have been told about how to feed my child. He is 13 and is diagnosed with Type 1 — having to do insulin at every meal and at nighttime.
We have eaten TF for 4+ years now. We eat sprouted grains, raw milk, drink kefir, lots of organic or local veggies, lots of butter and coconut oil… The doctors want my son to eat more carbs than we did otherwise. A typical meal before diagnosis was 25+ carbs, but they are pushing him to eat 75+ carbs for each meal.
As a compromise, we have been averaging 45+ carbs a meal the last week. I do not think the insulin is natural, so I really want to pump up his nutrition otherwise. I could not wait to get him home from the hospital because all he was eating was white bread, pancakes, and milkshakes — no veggies.
The concept was “eat whatever you want and cover it later”… The nutritionist could not believe how we eat — sprouted whole grains, etc. I really did not go into the fact that we eat lots of fats and RAW milk and kefir. Anyone have experience with Type 1 and TF, and any other suggestions for me?
I forgot to add that I have read everything I could find about diabetes on the WAPF website. Thanks for any input.
As you know I am not a doctor so I can’t really advise you on how to treat a disease. Sure I can share my ideas and thoughts but it should never be construed as medical advice.
I’m sure you’ve probably already read it but I would follow Dr. Thomas Cowan’s recommendations in this article:
He specifically recommends a diet of 72 grams of carbs per DAY (which would be 24 grams per meal) — and that’s for an adult.
I don’t personally see the reason for anyone to include grains or sweets in the diet. Sure, you can do it for pleasure, because people like to eat sweet things and breads, but there is no nutritional need for grains or sweeteners. Or fruit for that matter. If you cut down or eliminate grains, sweets and fruits, you should have no problem keeping the carbs down.
You might inquire about working with Dr. Cowan directly. He does phone consultations so you can work with him long-distance.
Maybe others will have comments for you with suggestions.
8. Question: Fermented Food Good for Us if it Contains Toxins?
Hi Ann Marie,
I love your blog and am an avid follower! Thanks for all of your hard work!
I am reading a book called
The Slow Poisoning of America by John E. Erb and T. Michelle Erb and it brought to my attention that MSG is created in the fermentation process. We have started to eat an increased amount of fermented food over the last year as we have embraced what we are learning through bloggers such as yourself and Weston Price etc.
I have started looking more into MSG apart from what is said in the book and sure enough many websites etc. confirm that MSG is created in the fermentation process: www.msgtruth.org/whatisit.htm.
So… how does this jibe with the belief that fermented food is good for us if it contains this toxin in it?
Your insight is welcome and appreciated!
MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a salt from glutamate and used as a flavor enhancer and preservative in many foods. It is a hydrolyzed protein.
There is a difference between MSG (hydrolized protein) and naturally occurring glutamic acid. Bone broth, for example, does contain naturally occurring glutamic acid but that is not the same as hydrolized protein.
Sally Fallon Morell writes:
Why do consumers react to factory-produced MSG and not to naturally occurring glutamic acid found in food? One theory is that the glutamic acid produced by hydrolysis in factories contains many isomers in the right-handed form, whereas natural glutamic acid in meat and meat broths contains only the left-handed form. L-glutamic acid is a precursor to neurotransmitters, but the synthetic form, d-glutamic acid, may stimulate the nervous system in pathological ways. Source
9. Question: Sprouted Grains OK for Babies?
I have been searching and have not been able to find any commentary on whether sprouted grains are ok for babies before one year. My little 10-month-old seems to be a bottomless pit! I have reasoned that because sprouted grains and legumes are basically vegetables that they would be easy enough for my baby to digest. Do you know if my reasoning is correct? I have been giving him cooked veggies, fruit, and egg yolk.
I just read in NT this morning that I can start meat now, does that include fish? Also what types of dairy are ok?Just fermented ones right? I try to put mostly coconut oil on his veggies but have also been giving him butter, but I know cream is not as easy as milk to digest.
Sally says small amounts of yogurt and butter milk, how much is too much? What about cheese? What else can I feed him? I am always running out of food or feel like I am giving him the same things every day!
There seems to be a lack of information for food for babies under one. Maybe other babies are not a big of eaters as mine, I don’t know.
Thanks Anne Marie!
— Rachael Mae Shaw
It is not a good idea to feed babies grains. They do not produce the enzyme, amylase, so they can’t digest them. I waited until Kate was 18 months old to feed her any grains.
The best foods for babies are liver and other organ meats, pastured meats, egg yolks, bone broth, bone marrow, and good fats including grass-fed butter, lard, tallow, coconut oil, and olive oil.
Remember, babies are open to most foods (unlike toddlers and preschoolers) so now is the time to get those organ meats in them! Kate got liver pretty much every day as a baby — and sometimes twice a day. I also fed her duck hearts and beef heart and tongue and bone marrow.
I fed Kate lots of raw, grass-fed butter and cream as well as cheese, yogurt and kefir and sour cream.
Here is what I followed prety much to the letter when Kate was a baby: Nourishing a Growing Baby
10. Question: Cloudy Broth OK? / Health Benefits Sacrificed Using Refined Coconut Oil?
I have two questions please:
1. I boiled the heck out of some broth today (on accident) and now it is very cloudy. Did I ruin it?
2. I like the idea of refined coconut oil. I have been using raw, extra-virgin but it is expensive and sometimes I don’t want that flavor. Are any health benefits sacrificed by the refined? And are there any residues left behind by the refining?
Thank you so much and by the way the new brownie recipe you posted was awesome!!!!!!
It’s tough to ruin broth. I’m sure it’s fine. You don’t want to leave broth boiling for a long time — a gentle simmer is what you want. But if you boiled it a little longer than you needed to, I don’t think you hurt it.
I use refined, expeller-pressed coconut oil almost exclusively.
Typically expeller-pressed coconut oil is heated during processing (it’s not raw). It is also cleaned so there is no coconut taste or smell. It is also generally less expensive. There is some loss in nutrition but it is very minor — you get almost all the same nutritional value of virgin coconut oil. (I’d have to look up the exact vitamins lost but I have got to go tend to my daughter now).
11. Question: How Do You Do It?
I’m really curious but … (and if this is too personal, you totally don’t have to answer, but I am really intrigued)… I know you have one daughter. I’m not really sure what you do for a living (for real food)… I know you blog and keep active on FB and cooking… but I know you also homeschool! How do you do it all?
I have a 2-year-old and I would like to homeschool her for a while, but I also work (as a writer and editor and eventually as a life-coach after getting certified). I just feel like homeschooling and raising a kid is a full time job and then some.
And you said you were thinking of having another, right? Or you were going to start trying? I’m in the same boat, but it’s a bit daunting because I just got back on my feet (after a year of not sleeping and 2 of nursing, though we’re still nursing). And I want to travel to Europe every summer. How often do you guys get to take trips?
Thanks! I’m just really inspired by what you’re doing and would love to know more, but I know you’re busy so I don’t expect an answer right away. Thanks again!
— Darla Bruno
I founded Real Food Media, a blog network, in 2008. I run that in addition to running this blog and teaching online classes. Most of the ads you see on our sites are served by Real Food Media. It’s a lot of work but it’s the most fun I’ve ever had and I’m so happy I stuck with it.
Yes, we are planning to have another baby this year. It will be more work but I’m getting things set up so I won’t have to work as hard. I lost my two part-time assistants last month so I’ve been working insane hours (14-16 per day) which is how it was for me in the early days. I’m in the process of training my two new assistants — one is full-time and the other is part-time. I may be hiring one more full-time person — we’ll see how it goes. I hire virtual assistants in the Philippines because it is a lot cheaper and so far that has worked really well. Once I get my new assistants trained, life is going to get a lot easier.
Hiring competent people is really my secret to being able to get things done and having a life. We have a part-time housekeeper who comes for 6 hours twice per week. She does all of our housekeeping plus laundry, and she even cooks some of the time. In addition to that, Kate has been going full-time to daycare.
This fall she will transition to homeschooling with me. I’m going to hire a full-time nanny/assistant/housekeeper. I plan to do homeschooling with Kate in the morning (when they are little, it only takes an hour or two per day) and then while I work, the nanny will take Kate and run errands and go to the playground, immersion Spanish classes, art classes, etc.
I also wanted to note that I did sleep-training with Kate so she was sleeping through the night by the time she was about 10 weeks old. So I didn’t have years of going without sleep. I have met people from traditional cultures who do not nurse throughout the night as their children get older. They did do extended nursing (to 2 or 3 years old) but they didn’t night nurse for an extended period of time. Of course, this is a personal preference. What worked for us was the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.
Also check out Automate My Small Business. I love this podcast and I learn so much from every show! The haven’t done one in a while but hopefully they will do one again soon.
I also learned a ton from the book, The 4 Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. That is a must-read.
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