Why I Love…Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar (a.k.a ACV) – cook with it, drink it, even clean with it…but whatever you do, make sure ACV is a staple in your pantry.

ACV has numerous benefits, not only for those of us suffering from AI diseases, but also for overall health.ACV

However, it is important that you use organic ACV in its most raw form. Only raw organic ACV has the “mother of vinegar” in it. The “mother” is made up of living nutrients and bacteria and is what makes ACV so beneficial for our health. You will know if your ACV has the “mother” in it as you will actually see it settled at the bottom.

Here at Healed by Bacon we like to use Bragg’s ACV. We even keep a bottle of it on our desk at work and add a splash of it to our water and meals (despite weird looks from colleagues!).

But what does ACV actually do? Well…

  1. ACV aids in digestion

Hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s and other AI diseases can cause low stomach acid, making it hard to fully digest the food we eat (you’ll know if you are suffering from this – think bloating, gas and general IBS symptoms). ACV can help with the digestive process and restore the acid/alkaline balance.

Take one teaspoon of ACV with water about half an hour before each meal.

  1. ACV can be used as a chemical free cleaner

It is important when healing from an illness to be aware of what chemicals you are coming in contact with. Many household cleaners are filled with chemicals that we really shouldn’t be using on a day-to-day basis (that eye-watering feeling when you use bleach to clean the toilet – probably not optimal for our health, right?). The main stuff in vinegar is acetic acid and can kill bacteria and/or prevent them from multiplying and reaching harmful levels. ACV actually has a history of use as a disinfectant and natural preservative.

Use one part vinegar to two parts water, plus a few drops of tea tree oil for its antibacterial qualities as an all-purpose cleaner.

  1. ACV can be used as a chemical free toothpaste

Ok, so this one might be a tad extreme for some, but when your body is extremely sensitive it is important to remove as many toxins as possible. Along with its antibacterial properties, ACV can help remove stains and residue.

To make a chemical free toothpaste, mix one part ACV with two parts coconut oil.

  1. ACV can help with the detox process

With is antibacterial and pH balancing properties, ACV can help in the detox process. Drinking ACV with warm water, first thing in the morning (before you eat or drink anything) can help remove excess toxins and sludge and in turn, improve the immune system.

Add 2 tablespoons of ACV to 250 mL of warm water and drink.

  1. ACV can aid in weight loss

ACV can improve insulin sensitivity and help to lower blood sugar responses after meals. Since ACV lowers blood sugar and insulin levels, it makes sense that it could help with weight loss. Quite a few human studies show that ACV can increase satiety, help you eat fewer calories and even lead to actual weight lost on the scale. In these studies, those who consumed ACV ate 200-275 fewer calories for the rest of the day.

To help with satiety you can, add 1 tablespoon of ACV to water before each meal, use as a salad dressing or even add it to stocks, stews and marinades.

 

ACV has quite a number more benefits that what we have covered in this blog post including improved immunity, helping to eliminate skin impurities and help in dealing with muscle fatigue.

However, just make sure you do not drink ACV straight as, when it has not been diluted, it can sometimes burn your oesophagus!

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Hypothyroidism and Low Stomach Acid

Stomach acid – let’s face it, its not really something you give much thought to. Yet stomach acid is actually one of the most important aspects of our digestive system.

Stomach acid (or gastric acid) is made by the cells that line our stomachs, on demand when we eat. Adequate levels of stomach acid are required to absorb the nutrients in the foods we eat and to protect our stomach from bad bacteria and becoming inflamed.

You know how hypothyroidism can dry out your skin, hair and nails? Well hypothyroidism can also ‘dry out’ our stomach acid.

Hypothyroidism can affect both the ability and the amount of gastric juice producing cells in our stomach. Consequently, our bodies are not able to effectively absorb all of the nutrients in our food, leading to malabsorption. In particular, low stomach acid and hypothyroidism can result in non-optimal levels of iron, vitamin D and B12.

As with all autoimmune diseases, hypothyroidism can be characterised by inflammation. Low levels of stomach acid means the body can’t protect itself against bad forms of bacteria which can cause inflammation in our stomach.

When our stomachs become inflamed from not enough stomach acid, food can just sit in there, without being digested properly. And when food isn’t digested properly we get those bloated, gassy and funny poo symptoms!

How do I know if I have low stomach acid?

Acid reflux, indigestion and heart burn – all symptoms of high levels of stomach acid right? Nope, wrong! It is actually low levels of stomach acid that cause these issues!

Unfortunately, many GPs put us on medications that further suppress stomach acid, making the condition even worse.

Ok, so how do I treat low stomach acid?

When you Google “low stomach acid and hypothyroidism” many sites say the best way to improve your levels of stomach acid is to heal your hypothyroidism – but as we know all too well, that’s easier said than done!

Correcting cortisol, aldosterone and thyroid hormone levels are important in getting stomach acid back to normal levels. However this can be a tricky process and in the interim we need to aid digestion to help heal.

Home remedies can also assist in the process of returning our stomach acid back to optimal levels. Here at Healed by Bacon we like to use apple cider vinegar – we mix one tablespoon of unfiltered, unpasteurised and unheated apple cider vinegar (we like to use Braggs) with a cup of water, about 10 minutes before a meal. We also like to use a probiotic on an empty stomach, morning or night.

But just be aware – (1) don’t drink apple cider vinegar by itself as it can burn your oesophagus, (2) if you have high levels of potassium it can be more productive to use lemon juice in water instead and (3) if you suffer from peptic ulcers it is important to treat that first.

The Baking Soda Test – A simple, homemade test for low stomach acid

This is a quick and easy test that you can do in the comfort of your own home, to see if your stomach acid levels are below optimal. But remember, it is just an indication.

  1. After you wake, before eating or drinking, mix 1/4 tsp of baking soda in a cup of water and drink.
  2. Take note to see if you burp within the next 2-3 minutes.
  3. If you don’t burp – you have low stomach acid (as optimal levels of stomach acid will react with the baking soda to form carbon dioxide gas).
  4. Repeat this for the next couple of days, to make sure your reaction was not a once off.

Paleo Raspberry and Coconut Gelatin Gummies

Paleo Raspberry and Coconut Gelatin Gummies Recipe

These gummies are a perfect for killing two birds with one stone – satisfying your cravings for a sweet paleo snack and healing your gut.

Ingredients raspberry-gummies

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 8 tbsp grass-fed gelatin
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Method

    1. Depending on what you feel like, you can either blend the raspberries with the coconut milk or mix them in whole. Add the lime zest to the coconut and raspberry mix.
    2. Over a medium heat, combine the gelatin – one tablespoon at a time – and coconut and raspberry mix in a saucepan. Make sure the mix doesn’t boil.
    3. While the gelatin is dissolving, grease a glass pan (this will be used to set the gummies in).
    4. Once the gelatin is completely combined (make sure there are no lumps), let the mix cool to room temperature. Once cooled, pour the mixture into the greased glass pan, cover and place in the fridge.
    5. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

 

 

How to treat Leaky Gut

Unfortunately, western medicine doesn’t recognise leaky gut – there is no standard diagnosis and no specific treatment. What’s worse is that doctors often treat the symptoms of leaky gut, not the condition itself, by prescribing medication which often exacerbates the inflammation and damage to the digestive lining.

Just as there are four main causes of leaky gut, there are four steps to treating the conditions.

  1. Remove things that damage the gut

This includes removing damaging foods (such as gluten, sugar, GMO produce and vegetable oils), exposure to toxins (like antibiotics, pesticides and xenoestrogens) and situations that cause stress (as hard as this can be!).

Toxic Food - What NOT to eat with Hashimoto's

We find that the best way to achieve this step is including more relaxation techniques in your daily routine (such as a 10 minute guided meditation session) and eating real, whole, organic food.

  1. Replace damaging foods with healing foods

Foods that help to heal leaky gut include:

  • Bone Broth – bone broth contains collagen and the amino acids glycine and proline which help to heal the damaged net and cell walls in the digestive tract.
  • Fermented Foods – fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, contain probiotics and acids to balance the pH levels in the gut and support the good bacteria.
  • Raw Cultured Dairy – raw dairy contains short chain fatty acids and probiotics that help to heal the damaged net in the gut.
  • Sprouted Foods – sprouting foods, such as nuts, help the gut break down the food, reducing the amount of work the damaged lining has to do as well as supporting the growth of good bacteria.
  • Coconut Products – the mid-chain fatty acids in coconut are much easier to digest than other fats so they help in the healing process of the damaged gut lining.

IMG_20160528_105010

  1. Repair the gut with supporting supplements

Google supplements that help heal a leaky gut and you’ll end up with a very long list. The top 5 supplements we have found to help heal include:

  • Probiotics that contain at least 50 billion units, to help support the good bacteria; these should be varied on a regular basis
  • Digestive enzymes to help break down your food and reduce the chance of partially digested particles leaching into your bloodstream;
  • Liquorice root to improve stomach acid production (but be careful if you suffer from adrenal fatigue / low cortisol or high blood pressure as liquorice root can impact both);
  • L-Glutamine to help repair the net and reduce inflammation; and
  • Quercetin to reduce the holes in the net.
  1. Rebalance

Rebalance with probiotics, real food and relaxation.

 

Just remember: Leaky gut didn’t happen over night so the healing of the condition won’t happen over night either. Be patient and consistent.

 

What Causes Leaky Gut?

There are four main causes of leaky gut – bacterial imbalances, poor diet, overexposure to toxins and poor diet.

Poor Diet

If you have read our other posts about diet, foods to avoid at all costs include gluten, sugar, vegetable oils and GMO produce. These are the foods that damage the net of your digestive tract and cause flare-ups in autoimmune conditions, and when it happens all of the time, leads to chronic inflammation.

The problem with gluten and grains is that they contain a huge number of phytates and lectins (read our posts about these here). This is an issue because a healthy digestive tract is covered in sugar-containing cells that aid in the breakdown of your food. When you eat gluten, the lectin gravitates towards these cells and attaches to the net and damages it, leading to inflammation.

Sugar needs to be avoided as it feeds the growth of yeast, Candida and bad bacteria in our digestive tract which further damages the net by eating holes in it.

Why you shouldn't eat gluten

Toxins

Exposure to toxins, such as antibiotics, foods sprayed with pesticides and water that has been contaminated through chemical run-off can all reek havoc on the good bacteria in your gut and cause inflammation.

Endocrine Disruptors hormones thyroid BPA

Chronic Stress

You probably know by now that we are big advocates of meditation and other relaxation techniques to combat stress. Stress weakens your immune system, crippling your body’s ability to fight off the baddies like toxins, viruses and bad bacteria. As your immune system weakens over time, inflammation can build up and impact the strength of the lining in your digestive tract.

4 stages of adrenal fatigue

Bacterial Imbalances

Our gut is home to a sensitive balance of good and bad bacteria (sounds like that TV ad doesn’t it). As we increase our exposure to antibiotics, xenoestrogens and probiotic-poor foods the balance between the good and bad bacteria gets out of wack. As the good bacteria are depleted and the bad bacteria take over, inflammation occurs in our gut and the net becomes damaged.

What is Leaky Gut?

Hippocrates, the founding father of modern medicine, once said “all disease begins in the gut“. And he was right.

You have probably heard the term ‘leaky gut’ in health blogs recently, but what really is leaky gut syndrome? Autoimmune Disease Leaky Gut Gluten

Medically, leaky gut is an intestinal tight junction malfunction. But since that doesn’t really clear anything up, think about the lining of your digestive tract as being a net that separates the food that you have eaten and your blood stream.

In a healthy digestive tract, the holes in this net are tiny, only allowing specific nutrients through to your bloodstream. However, when you suffer from leaky gut, this net is damaged and the holes are bigger, which allows foreign bodies to seep into your bloodstream.

Unfortunately, as these holes get bigger toxins, including undigested food particles, gluten and bad bacteria, leak from your digestive tract into your bloodstream and cause inflammation. As the inflammation builds up, it can cause an immune reaction, leading to a variety of sensitivities and in turn illness.

Symptoms of leaky gut

The inflammation caused by leaky gut can emerge as the following symptoms:

  • Food allergies, digestive-system
  • Asthma,
  • IBS,
  • Low energy and fatigue,
  • Bloating,
  • Food sensitivities and intolerances,
  • Headaches,
  • Digestive issues,
  • Skin problems,
  • Weight gain,
  • Thyroid conditions,
  • Joint pain,
  • Anxiety,
  • Bipolar,
  • Depression,
  • Malabsorption,
  • Syndrome X, and
  • Other autoimmune conditions.

Generally experiencing multiple food sensitivities and becoming bloated after eating are the biggest warning signs that you are suffering from leaky gut. Another indication you suffer from leaky gut that has progressed is when there is undigested food in your poo!

If left untreated, leaky gut can lead to more severe health problems.

In our next post, we’ll focus on what causes leaky gut.

Digestion and Copper Toxicity

Copper toxicity has a wide range of effects on our digestive system. The shift to a ‘healthier’, plant-based diet can cause a build-up of copper, impacting our digestive system which is already functioning at sub-par due to the increasing deficiency in zinc, protein and fat.

Some people experience a craving for high copper foods with copper toxicity. But this can be because the copper-zinc imbalance is having an impact on their digestion.

digestive-systemPoor digestion means we can’t break down and absorb fat and protein properly. It feels like we develop an ‘intolerance to fat’ – you know, feeling queasy after eating rich meals, bloating, gas, not being able to poo, running to the toilet to poo and feeling ‘heavy’ after eating.

Excess copper (and declining zinc relative to copper) coupled with a vegetarian, low/no fat diet causes the production of bile and digestive juices to decline. This then causes the ‘fat intolerance’ feelings to develop and the thought of eating meat and fat becomes unpalatable.

It’s this trouble with digesting meat and fat that leads many of us to eat a more plant-based diet. But by avoiding these essential nutrient this exacerbates the copper toxicity problem and ironically makes the condition worse!

Eliminating or reducing fat in our diet inhibits the production of bile and gastric juices. However, copper is predominately detoxed through bile. So those poo problems you’re having – that’s a result of reduced bile flow and a low/no fat diet.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), those of us suffering from copper toxicity also tend to have a spleen yang deficiency. Since these ‘healthy’ diets are predominantly plant-based, they tend to be raw or cold (think salads). However, eating cold foods further exacerbates the digestive problems we are experiencing as digestion is dampened by cold foods. TCM categorises a spleen yang deficiency as symptoms of poor digestion, mucus build-up, a bloated tongue that is pale and covered in ‘fur’ and fluid retention.