The Shocking Truth About Heart Disease

     Rudolf Steiner (if you don't know him, look him up!) had ideas that the three most important ways for humanity to reach further evolution were: 1. That people stop working for money. 2 That people realize there is no difference between sensory and motor nerves and 3. The heart is not a pump. 

     After reading the latest addition to my personal library, Human Heart, Cosmic Heart by one of my personal heroes, Dr. Thomas Cowen, MD and anthroposophical physician, I felt very called to bring further awareness to his research and try and give a very oversimplified summary of the information presented in this book, with a sincere hope to inspire further curiosity in readers that might lead to improved health benefits and disease prevention. 

      I'll try and boil it down for you. The true causes of heart disease are as follows: Hypertension, smoking, diabetes, physical & emotional stress, a sedative lifestyle and a poor diet. Don't roll your eyes at me yet. The exciting and new revelation about these causative factors is that they are causing heart attacks, not because of blocked arteries, because of cholesterol, (According to Dr. Cowen, more than 50% of people that have heart attacks don't have sufficient stenosis as to cause a heart attack) but because these factors are throwing off balance in the sympathetic nervous and parasympathetic nervous systems. Dr. Cowan points to four studies showing that "patients with ischemic heart disease have, on average, a reduction of parasympathetic activity of more than a third. Typically, the worse the myocardial infarction, the lower the parasympathetic activity" (56). 

     Basically, if you are chronically in "fight or flight", your body is always using it's sympathetic nervous system and unable to rest and heal from the parasympathetic nervous system. Heart attacks do not occur in people with healthy parasympathetic activity whom experience high levels of stress. It is only when the parasympathetic nervous system is chronically unable to nourish itself and that its overall activity is reduced, or down-regulated due to poor lifestyle choices, which leaves a person suffering from severe stress very vulnerable to a myocardial infarction. 

     When the person with a lowered parasympathetic activity is exposed to severe stress (emotional or physical), the increase in adrenaline directs the cells of the heart to break down glucose (sugar) using aerobic glycolysis, rather than it's preferred fuel of ketones and fatty acids.. Dr. Cowan states that "[a]s a result of the sympathetic increase and resulting glycolysis, there is a dramatic increase in lactic acid production in the myocardial cells... This increase in lactic acid results in localized acidosis, which makes calcium unable to enter the cells and the cells less able to contract".  This causes edema and diminished muscle function and the build up of lactic acid in the cells leads to cell death "which we call a heart attack". (58)

     Dr. Cowan states that "known things that nourish our parasympathetic nervous system are contact with nature, loving relations, trust, economic security, and sex". He stresses the importance of a diet high in good quality fats (especially grass fed butter) and low in sugar and refined carbohydrates. 

     A simple theory- and yet it makes more sense than anything else I've ever read in medical texts or physiology books. Dr. Cowan's book also provides the most shocking, yet naturally logical scientific theory on the role of the heart. He talks about Steiner's theory about the heart as a seven sided form in a box as well as the fourth phase of water.

     To quickly summarize, when water is exposed to sunlight, the earth's energy, or energy from other living things, and touching a hydrophilic surface, it forms a fourth phase in which the water touching the hydrophilic surface becomes negatively charged in relation to the water not touching the surface. The negatively charged water excludes any toxins or other particles. When that hydrophilic surface is a tube (such as in our circulatory systems) a perpetual motion "machine" is created in that the positively charged water in the center is propelled upwards.

      Our heart isn't really "pumping" blood at all- in fact, when our blood reaches the capillaries, it stops and then gradually picks up speed again as it heads back for the heart. It is the structure of the water in our cells that propels our blood, not the heart. Dr. Cowan agrees with Steiner, who suggested that the heart is more like a hydraulic ram. In allowing the chambers of the heart to fill with blood, create a negative pressure and then flow on and vortices are created.  

      I feel that I am still digesting and integrating this knowledge. I encourage everyone to read Dr. Cowan's book, "Human Heart, Cosmic Heart" for more information! I hope all of you will take the time after reading this to go outside for a forest walk, hug a loved one and enjoy a healthfully prepared meal together!


A Brief History of Kefir

Have you heard about water kefir yet? While many people have become familiar with a popular fermented beverage called "kombucha", water kefir remains a much lesser known fermented beverage. 

According to Sandor Ellix Katz, author or one of my favorite books, 'Wild Fermentation', "The kefir story is full of intrigue. The first kefir grains are said to have been a gift from Allah, delivered by his prophet Mohammed. The grains were treasured by the people who possessed them, passed down from generation to generation, and definitely not shared with strangers. Early in the twentieth century, the "All Russian Physicians' Society" became interested in obtaining the mysterious source of this healthful drink. Since the keepers of the grains did not wish to share them, this required deception and culture thievery. The scheme involved a young Russian woman named Irina Sakharova, whom the physicians hoped would be able to charm a Caucasus prince, Bek-Mirza Barchorov, into giving her some kefir grains. He refused, she tried to leave, he had her kidnapped, she was rescued, and he was charged in the Czar's courts. For reparations, the young woman was awarded the treasure she sought; the court ordered the prince to give her some of his cherished kefir grains. In 1908, she brought the first kefir grains to Moscow. Kefir became, and remains to this day, a popular drink in Russia. In 1973, at age 85, Irina Sakharova was formally recognized by the Soviet Ministry of Health for her role in bringing kefir to the Russian people".

Wow! Isn't that amazing? And now thanks to that woman I have a fridge full of both milk kefir and water kefir to keep my family healthy!

I make both kombucha and water kefir (and milk kefir), but my first choice of beverage between the two, is definitely water kefir. It actually has more probiotic strains than kombucha and takes much less time to make. It is the perfect beverage for a hot summer day! Unlike kombucha, which has about a 2% alcohol content, water kefir is alcohol free, making it a wonderful probiotic drink for children, as well as adults! My son guzzles it! 

Why Your Body Needs Carbs and the Dangers of Avoiding Them

        There was recently an article published in the Weston Price Wise Traditions Newsletter, titled "Why We Need Carbs" by Chris Masterjohn, PhD. It was great to see an article bringing attention to the importance of carbohydrates when there are so many people out there following highly restrictive diets that are severely minimizing or completely restricting carbohydrates, under the recommendations of many health advocates who mean well, but are misinformed or have been misguided. 

      While there are populations of people (such as diabetics, as an example) who absolutely need to pay close attention to their carbohydrate intake and restrict carbohydrates when necessary- the vast majority of people need not restrict or eliminate carbohydrates all together- but should instead focus on the quality of the carbohydrate (whole grain, sprouted, sourdough) while selecting a broad range of different sources of carbohydrates depending on what is locally available and in keeping with an individual's traditional background. 

       In the Wise Traditions article, Chris Masterjohn PhD reminds us that carbohydrates are integral to the body for structural purposes (for example,in DNA/RNA, in energy carriers, ATP, in extracellular matrices, and glycoproteins) for energy metabolism (especially for anaerobic glycolysis) and for antioxidant defense and nutrient recycling. 

        Many advocates of low-carb or zero-carb diets argue that we don't need glucose because our body can make it from proteins or fat via a process called gluconeogenesis. It is true that our well-designed bodies have made it almost impossible that we would ever actually suffer a deficiency of glucose- but gluconeogenesis has its downsides and forcing your body to compensate for excluding one of the key, basic dietary requirements may result in undesirable consequences to one's health.

         Chris Masterjohn PhD explains, "Gluconeogenesis in primarily stimulated by the adrenal hormone cortisol. Cortisol antagonizes thyroid hormone [they compete for receptor sites] and, when chronically elevated, impairs immunity. As we move away from burning glucose and toward greater reliance on fat, free fatty acids elevate. Cortisol augments this rise even further by causing us to release free fatty from adipose tissue. High levels of free fatty acids can impair thyroid hormone's ability to carry out its physiological functions within our cells even if blood levels of thyroid hormones remain normal". 

         It is not recommended to restrict carbohydrate intake below 100 grams per day. If someone wishes to do so Chris Masterjohn PhD recommends "a prudent approach to safety[:]... monitor stress, thyroid, and sex hormones, to ensure they all remain in optimal range." He also stresses that "physically active people...need considerably more than 100 grams [of carbohydrate per day] to prevent these hormones from going out of range.

          The most important advise anyone can receive in regards to nutrition is to listen to their body. Everyone is unique and therefor require varying levels of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Take into consideration where you come from, what your ancestors ate, as well as where you are living now and what is locally available. Those factors offer important clues for what constitutes an ideal dietary intake for someone. When it comes to choosing foods, it is always my recommendation to choose the most fresh, nutrient dense and properly prepared foods as possible. This ideally constitutes local, unsprayed vegetables and fruits, wild or organically raised, free ranged animal products and appropriate whole grains, lentils or pulses which have been soaked, sprouted or fermented prior to cooking and consuming.

         There is so much conflicting information available out there now. It is not surprising that many people are feeling frustrated when it comes to the simple question of what to eat. Remember that beginning on December 9th, 2016 I will be available to help you with all of your "Nutrition Matters". 


Is My Kombucha Scoby Moldy?

Whenever I'm talking to people able making fermented beverages, many are very concerned about mold or harmful bacteria. I have heard of people even going as far as sending their kombucha samples to a lab for testing before consuming! 

Generally speaking, with most fermentations, if it looks and tastes good- it's good. Food safety rules change drastically depending on where you are in the world. One cultures inedible, "rotten" or "dangerous" food, may be another's delicacy. Now with kombucha, you definitely don't want to mess around if you've got mold. 

A kombucha scoby can go moldy if your fermenting conditions are unsanitary, you have forgotten to cover it with a coffee filter or clean cloth to keep out airborn particles, or if you divide up your scoby too much and then try and get a tiny piece to ferment a very large batch of tea and sugar (which is the mistake I once made and you can see the results below!)

That is a moldy scoby! Those little brown, stringyish bits you see on your scoby are not. Those are simply yeast. If your scoby goes moldy, do not drink the kombucha or reuse any of it's babies. You'll have to obtain a new mother from someone and start over.

If your scoby looks healthy and your kombucha tastes good- sweet, sour and pleasant- than it's good. No need to pay money to send it to a lab! After all, making it yourself is supposed to SAVE you money. Cheers!