Folate vs. folic acid – what you need to know

There’s been a lot of hype around folic acid for health. We’ve heard for a long time that it’s essential in order to prevent birth defects– specifically neural tube defects like spina bifida and anencephaly. Since these conditions come with devastating consequences, the CDC makes the recommendation that ALL women of childbearing age supplement 400mcg of folic acid, daily and 800mcg for pregnant women.

What is difficult (and really unfortunate!), is there has been some confusion over folic acid, a synthetic, man-made “nutrient” and folate, which is naturally occurring in food cultivated from the seed of live foods.

folic acid vs folate

While they’re often used interchangeably, they are different and can have long-term impacts on your health, for the positive and the detriment. One is health promoting and healing, while the other has been linked to serious health issues and can interact with several pharmaceuticals. Can you guess which one is what?

Folate is the naturally occurring version, crucial to the healthy functioning of our bodies.

Folic Acid is man-made and is used to fortify foods that have either LOST the folate due to processing (wheat —> bread is a good example of a process by which a food losses its innate nutritional value; the producer then replaces just a few –usually 7-9 of the dozens of the lost nutrients– in synthetic form back into the food). Or, it’s ABSENT because of soil depletion and environmental pollution and influence.

Fortification in the USA began in 1998 at the say-so of the FDA. Since then, we’ve fortified a lot.

We also fortify foods, like boxed, bagged and other highly processed foods, that don’t naturally  have significant levels of a nutrient, with that nutrient because of a current cultural push to get it into our bodies because we’re not consuming enough of whole foods that would naturally provide us with the nutrition on their own.

L-methylfolate is given when someone can’t break folic acid down, as there is a four step break down process, with L-methylfolate being the “end result” of the process.

Folic Acid > Dihydrofolate > Tetrahydrofolate > 5, 10, Methylene THF > L-methylfolate

Folate, on the other hand, is naturally occurring.

And what the body needs is FOLATE.

Folate is the highly bioavailable b-vitamin “B9.” B vitamins function and absorb BEST with their fellow b-vitamins, and are found together in nature, in live foods– especially GREEN veggies.

foods high in folate

A few of the most concentrated sources include:

  • Spinach
  • broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • lettuce
  • liver
  • eggs
  • citrus
  • asparagus
  • avocado
  • sunflower seeds
  • almonds
  • peanuts
  • cauliflower
  • mushrooms
  • beets
  • celery
  • carrots
  • winter and summer squashes

Apart from being a protective against certain birth defects, folate is required for synthesizing and repairing DNA, proper cell division, healthy production of red blood cells (to prevent anemia and related conditions).

Folate naturally metabolizes directly in the small intestine, and requires less effort and burden on the body than its synthetic “imposter” folic acid.

Folic acid, on contrast, has a high enzyme burden and takes much longer to be metabolized and utilized by the body.

Proper enzyme function is essential to the utilization of folate. With folic acid there is a more complex, 4 step process that must take place within the liver, where as, as stated before, folate is metabolized directly in the SI. Supplementing with folic acid, and consuming more than your enzymes can handle at a time, leads to health complications.

Concerns with the synthetic version include that it will mask a B-12 deficiency, particularly in the elderly. Because the deficiency is not noticed, this then leads  to greater problems down the road. Folic acid has also been linked to cancer, specifically of the lungs and prostate.

At 800 mcg, or .8mg, of folic acid, serious heath risks have been documented: heart attack, anemia, and seizures. Long term use risks/side effects: abdominal cramps, diarrhea, rashes, sleep disorders, irritability, confusion, nausea, stomach upset, behavior changes, skin reactions, seizures, gas, excitability, etc.

In addition, there are MANY drug interaction possibilities, even with other supplements, where as consuming FOLATE from foods and herbs contain it inherently, there are no side effects or health risks.

Healing Strategies

1. Increase your intake of the folate-heavy foods listed above.

2. As with any sort of supplement, be sure that it is FOOD BASED and know the reputation and  the harvesting and processing practices of the company producing your chosen supplement.  How do you know if the supplement is food-based vs. synthetic based? A good way to know is by taking a look at the ingredient list. Does it list foods and herbs in the ingredients? Or the names of the nutrients? For instance: “spinach” vs. “folic acid.”

3.  If it is determined that you are not utilizing or absorbing folate, seek out a practitioner that will help you ask and answer “why.” When you know what is hindering or preventing you from absorbing and utilizing folate (or any other nutrient), you can take steps to correcting this.

 

Folate containing prenatals/supplements:

As always – be sure to check with your health care provider before changing supplements and get their thoughts on the one you want to begin taking.

Beeyoutiful

Liquid Supermom 2 Bee prenatal with 800mcgs of folate sourced from organic lemon peel.

“In addition to concentrated whole food nutrition, Supermom 2 Bee was also carefully crafted to include the most bioavailable forms of key vitamins and minerals with an emphasis on making it as easy on the body as possible to utilize. Supermom 2 Bee™ includes Folate, Vitamin D3, the methylated form of B12, and a whole food form of iron.”

And if you already have a whole foods vitamin you love and simply want extra folate, they also offer a liquid folate separately.

Seeking Health

Contains folate in their Optimal Prenatal [50% as Quatrefolic® ((6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate, glucosamine salt) and 50% as folinic acid (calcium folinate)] as well as B12 in the form of methylcobalmin and adenosylcobalamin, both of which are helpful if you carry the MTHFR gene. This prenatal does not contain iron (as some women have problems with supplemental iron) so you’d need to find another source for that if it’s needed.

Thorne Research

(available on Amazon) Contains Folate 1 mg (500 mcg as Calcium Folinate and 500 mcg as L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate from L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolic Acid, Glucosamine Salt) and Vitamin B12 200 mcg. (100 mcg as Adenosylcobalamin and 100 mcg as Methylcobalamin)

Innate Response

(available on Amazon) Contains 800mcgs of folate.

Douglas Laboratories

(available on Amazon) Contains  1,000 mcg of Metafolin®, a patented form of (6S) 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). This is a folate only supplement so you’d need to add a multi vitamin if you wish.

 

More information:

The little known difference between folate and folic acid by Chris Kresser

Folate vs. folic acid by Kate Spears

Folate and you, perfect together by Kelly Brogan MD

Folate vs folic acid – how to avoid a dangerous pregnancy by Stefanie Ruper

Probiotic Peaches ‘N Cream Soda

There is just something about the summer season that just doesn’t feel quite “summer” until our peaches are ready to eat!

I don’t know if it is just how the weather just seems to feel more summer like, or it is those ripe, juicy peaches, but every late July/early August we pick up a couple bushels of them from a local farmer near us and we really enjoy them.

Probiotic peaches and cream soda

Peaches and cream are a staple around our house. It is so simple, but a swirl of fresh, sweet cream with summer sweet peaches is so amazing.

Last year I decided I wanted to see if I could capture that flavor in a fermented soda. We love taking the best summer flavors and making a special soda treat that we can enjoy on hot summer weekends.

This simple fermentation method infuses probiotic rich whey with the sweet fruit and real sugar for the probiotic bugs to feed on to make a bubbly, crisp soda that is so delicious. It isn’t overly sweet despite the amount of sugar as the probiotic bugs “eat” a good majority of it.

The peaches and cream soda turned out so good last year that it was one of the first things I had to make with this year’s peaches!

healthy, fermented soda

Probiotic peaches and cream soda

Peaches 'N Cream Soda
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 5 cups peaches, sliced
  • 1 cup organic pure cane sugar
  • 7 cups of water
  • 2 TB vanilla extract
  • ½ cup whey (Just scoop a container of plain whole yogurt into a dishtowel, tie it up onto a cupboard door and let it drip into a jar - the liquid dripped off is probiotic rich whey! The leftover yogurt in the towel is like Greek yogurt or cream cheese - yum! If you are dairy free you can use water kefir grains or a ginger bug.)
Instructions
  1. Put the peaches, sugar, and water in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Squish the peaches in the pot (I use a potato masher), and pour the peach sugar water through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and whey to the peach sugar water in the bowl and stir. Pour the soda mixture into flip top bottles and set in a warm area of your home.
  4. After a couple days you can open a bottle to check for taste and let the fermented gasses out so it doesn't build up too much. Fermentation can take anywhere from 2 days to a week. Move the bottles to the fridge once they are ready.

 

*For more amazing drink recipes, follow our whole foods board on Pinterest!

68 Recipes to make when it’s too hot to cook

Summer is awesome. I love being outside to soak up the sun or take a visit to dip my toes in Lake Michigan. After long, cold winters, I don’t mind the heat, I welcome it.

However, it really makes my desire to cook away. I start to crave easier, lighter meals that take less time to prepare and don’t heat up my house.

68 Recipes to make when it's too hot to cook

It’s perfect timing really, because as soon as I started to feel that way, the summer produce starts rolling in for yummy salads and sandwiches.

It is so easy to fall into the ‘salad rut’ as I call it, but listen to me, there is no reason for it! Get creative! Change it up!

I stop  by the farm stands around my area at least once a week in summer. I enjoy browsing and picking out vegetables that are not normally in our standard grocery rotation. I enjoy the challenge it brings to add them to new meals.

If you aren’t feel brave, start out small, change up your greens. Lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, beet greens….they will all make such a difference in you salad.

Salads

Summer salads

Even just trying a new dressing on the same vegetables can breathe new life into the meal. You don’t have to go nuts, just a little change and you are set with a great new salad.

Trying different spices, oils or even different vinegar.  Each new change brings such a great flavor to the mix. 

Browse in the grocery store in the dressing aisle. You will find lots of different ideas. I love looking at premade dressings (I don’t buy them because of the oils and MSG) to get ideas.

Need some inspiration? Here are some awesome dressings to try.

Dressings

summer sandwiches - great for when it's too hot to cook!

heirloom tomato sandwich via The Organic Kitchen

Sandwiches are a favorite here. We love them in the summer because they are quick and require little to know heating. I love that there are so many gluten free bread options available now. It makes for a guilt free sandwich.

Sandwiches

Now, you have a HUGE amount of ideas to keep your house cool and nourish your body with summer fresh produce.

What is your favorite, non-cooked summer meal?

3 “healthy” foods to avoid with Endometriosis

I often get asked about my journey with Endometriosis and how I have managed to now live a life that is completely pain and symptom free. One of the first things I recommend is to look at diet and the foods we are eating. Eating, is something we do 3 times a day and it is ultimately sustains our life force so it makes perfect sense that it would have an impact on our health and well-being.

foods to avoid with endometriosis

The trouble is, what is considered “healthy” by some is not really healthy for others. We have been told so many different things about foods and what is considered “healthy” that it is almost impossible to know for certain that we are on the right track. The other trouble is that what we eat with Endometriosis is also different from what other women might eat.

I want to dispel some common “healthy” foods which are sometimes recommended with Endometriosis and why I always avoid them.

1. Soy foods

Marketed as the ultimately protein food which is easy to digest and available in various forms! This food group is often recommended for women with Endometriosis as it is said to be able to replace the excess oestrogen’s in the body with these more “natural” oestrogen’s, called isotopes (plant oestrogen’s).

The trouble with soy is the way it has been manufactured. Most soy products contain very high quantities of oestrogen and this will exacerbate the already out of balance oestrogen load happening with Endometriosis. Too much oestrogen creates more cysts and more trouble with Endometriosis. We most certainly don’t want to be adding in anymore than we need to!

I have seen this happen time and time again with Endometriosis and not just from food but also with plants being used in the same manner. Because Endometriosis and poor liver health are closely linked, it is imperative that the focus be shifted away from hormone imbalances.

Endometriosis is a complex disease and hormone imbalance is merely a symptom. Focusing on liver health provides a longer term solution.

 

2. Flax seeds and flax oil

As women with Endometriosis frequently struggle with digestive health issues, they are often recommended flax seeds to help keep them regular. There is some debate about how much of the flax seeds is theoretically absorbed by the body, however I err on the side of caution with this food as it also contains a high oestrogenic load.

Flax oil is definitely one I would avoid as it would definitely demonstrate oestrogenic activity within the body. I also question whether the transportation and handling of flax seed oil may make this oil rancid before it is even brought home.

3 Foods to avoid when you have endometriosis

3.   Agave Syrup

I will be honest, when I discovered Agave Syrup, I jumped on it. Yippee! A new “natural” sweetener which can replace sugar…. sounds good right?

The thing is, there is nothing “natural” about Agave Syrup. This stuff is so commercially manufactured it’s scary!

They use genetically modified enzymes to create Agave Syrup and a whole bunch of other stuff like caustic acid, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and ultimately we are left with a highly refined fructose which is has a higher fructose content than high fructose corn syrup!

The key thing with Endometriosis is to focus on liver health and anything that has a high sugar load like Agave Syrup is going to create more work for the liver, plus potentially create more weight gain.

 

There are plenty of alternative foods to eat that truly support our bodies and help us successfully manage Endometriosis. Between changing what I eat and using my REACH Technique© I am now living pain and symptom free from endometriosis.

Homemade Peach Lemonade

One of my favorite summer fruits is peaches!

There is a beautiful, generational family about 30 minute’s drive from us that have a stone fruit farm that we pick cherries from every July, and then toward the end of July the bushels of peaches start showing up! There is really just nothing like a summer peach right off the tree. Sweet and juicy, they literally feel like they melt in your mouth!

Homemade peach lemonade

And blending summer staple drink of lemonade with those amazing summer peaches is a match made in heaven!

This spring I made a blueberry lemonade for a birthday party we threw, and I just knew I wanted to try the same concept with peaches once they came in this summer!

You can use fresh or frozen peaches – if you don’t have access to in season peaches, frozen will be the best tasting most likely. In fact when I made this, I bought a few peaches from the store and it is not quite the season here yet – they were nothing like in season peaches so I ended up using some frozen organic peaches from Costco.

Healthy homemade peach lemonade

The peach lemonade is super smooth almost like a peach nectar. And lightly sweet and tart – it is really a great combo if you have never tried it! I was really impressed with the flavor!

Just a couple of notes on the raw honey! Be sure not to add the raw honey to the cooked peaches until after the heat is turned off – you want to maintain all of the mineral and enzyme benefits of the raw honey. I get my raw honey from a local farmer. Take a visit to the farmer’s market and see what you can find or ask around there. You can also find it online as well from stores like Tropical Traditions.

Peach Lemonade
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups sliced, pitted peaches (Fresh or frozen)
  • ¼ cup raw honey (you can add more if you want it sweeter but start here)
  • Juice of 4-5 lemons
  • 3 cups water
Instructions
  1. Make the peach syrup. Put the peaches and a cup of the water in a sauce pan, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer until the peaches soften and you can squish them well with a masher. Put the cooked peaches in a blender along with the honey and puree completely.
  2. Add the peach syrup to your pitcher along with the lemon juice and the rest of the water and stir to combine. Chill in the fridge or serve over ice in your glass.

 If you are looking for more fresh summer fruit recipes you can try these strawberry creamsicles, fudgsicles, or this iced mango green tea.

For more amazing drink recipes, follow our whole foods board on Pinterest!

Reduce inflammation naturally

Inflammation is the body’s response to stress.

Reduce inflammation naturally

This stress can range from an injury to a cold or virus, but the inflammation comes in when the body is working to protect the stressed area.

This is why when you get a cut or a scrape, it will sometimes appear red and swollen, it is the body’s response to try to get rid of the stress.

The body also does this when you get a cold or a virus, it produces cytokines to come help fight off the germs, this is the good part of inflammation. It is temporary and allows the body to heal and repair the way it should. It’s a great way to know your immune system is functioning the way that it should.

However, over time, if you start to develop issues with chronic inflammation, then your body is telling you that something is wrong. It is over producing and overworking, therefore making you more susceptible to illness and injury.

This kind of inflammation is bad. And sadly, it can get worse if not treated.

When chronic inflammation goes unattended, it creates chronic conditions such as autoimmune disorders and can even effect fertility. 

How does it effect fertility? The chronic inflammation can damage the cells of the reproductive organs and even lessens sperm quality. After time it can also create the autoimmune response that attacks the same organs.

Sigh. It sounds depressing and overwhelming, doesn’t it?

But, good news, it doesn’t have to be. There are some great natural things you can do to help reduce and eliminate inflammation.

7 ways to reduce inflammation naturally

1. Reduce stress

I know what you are thinking, “doesn’t everyone say that”? Yes. And you should totally do it. Stress in the body messes with cortisol levels, this chronic stress effects your adrenals but it also produced inflammation making you more prone to diseases.

2. Herbs

Herbs are a great aid in reducing inflammation. I love them for many reasons of course, but one main reason is because a they are potent. As an added bonus, most of the herbs that are known to help with inflammation are cooking herbs, which means you can add them to your meals and they don’t taste as bad some other medicinal herbs.

Some of my favorites are turmeric, cayenne, ginger, cinnamon, garlic and cayenne.

3. Get rid of the processed foods

If you are dealing with chronic inflammation, processed food is out. This is a great first step for anyone trying to get healthy, but especially important for those dealing with inflammation. Go a little at a time until you have worked it all out of your diet. I promise you will feel a difference in your overall health.

Reduce inflammation - stop eating sugar

4. Ditch the sugar

Sigh. I know, this tough. I like sugar…A LOT. However, it is not my friend. When I eat sugar my stomach doesn’t even want to tolerate dairy! It’s not worth it to me.

If you need some help getting rid of the sugar, check out Donielle’s great guide (The Sugar Detox Challenge) on how to eliminate sugar for your diet.

5. Systemic enzymes

A good supplement to try for inflammation is systemic enzymes. They are different from regular enzymes because they are coated to break down in the body to reduce inflammation, not just help digest food. You can read more about them here.

6. Keep your lymph system flowing

This can be key in helping the body filter out toxins. Toxins build up and cause inflammation. Keeping the lymph fluid moving by drinking lots of water and dry skin brushing is a great way to reduce inflammation. This is also great to help all your systems function better.

7. Get enough rest

Yes, get yourself to bed on time. If you are tired during the day, try to put your feet up for 10 minutes and reset.

If your body is fatigued, it is stressed. As I stated before, stress reduces the function your body. Getting sleep is vital to your well-being, take the time to get yourself to bed before 10pm. (or, at least, get eight full hours of sleep in per night)

I know some of those items above seem daunting, but just take them one step at a time. You don’t have to go in that order. Go from easiest to hardest so you have some success under your belt.

I am a firm believe that baby steps are the way to go and make changes less intimidating. Just think of how great you will feel.

In time, each of these simple steps will make a large impact on your overall health. Reducing inflammation will make every system in your body function better, which is a great for improving fertility.

What do you do to help your body reduce inflammation?

 

 

 

Pill Recovery 101, restoring balance when coming off of hormonal birth control

“Just as we shake our heads now when we look on the barbaric medical procedures of previous centuries, the day will come when we look back and see the pill for the crude instrument it was.” –Lara Briden, ND

Recovering from birth control pill - how to help the body adjust

written by contributor Asher Thayer

The pill has become a cure-all; a sure-fire way to regulate the monthly cycle of all those with a uterus and ovaries. It’s also used to treat acne and moodiness. We’ve come to understand that it does so by regulating our hormones. Unfortunately, the cycle one might obtain from a pill isn’t a true cycle at all.

One of the most important things to grasp about the pill is that the hormones they provide aren’t true hormones. They’re synthetic, not natural or bio-identical. And when you’re having a pill-induced period, you’re not having a biological period.

Naturopathic Doctor Lara Briden refers to these periods as pill-withdraws, because the bleeding is happening because your body is withdrawing from the synthetics and bleeding. You’re not actually having a rhythmic shedding.
Additionally, the pill carries with it many side effects.

  • Elevating blood pressure
  • affecting cholesterol levels
  • Hair loss
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Low libido
  • Blood clots
  • Increased risk for breast cancer (2014 research demonstrated an increased risk for women aged 20-49)
  • Weight gain
  • Post-pill amenorrhea (lack of period)/Infertility after getting off the pill
  • Vitamin/mineral depletion
  • Abnormal pap-smears

If you experience any of these side effects… or even if you don’t… getting off “the pill” is an important step to healing.

But… how?

Quitting the pill is as easy as that. You quit. But your body needs to recover and heal from the pill. And, if you’re one of the many women that were put on the pill for reasons other than to prevent pregnancy, you’ll need to address the underlying causes of your illness/disease that prompted your doctor to recommend the pill as medication. Coming off of the pill, then can look vastly different between any particular group of women. Let’s focus on just a few that will be helpful to everyone.

Supplement

Because oral contraceptive is known to deplete the body of zinc and b-vitamins, one of the first things to do, even BEFORE coming off the pill is to supplement these. Remember, supplements that are food/herb based are the best source of supplementation, beyond your diet.  Supplements that are whole-foods/herb based are the most bio-available to your body. Meaning, your body recognizes the nutrition in them and is able to absorb and utilize that nutrition.

As always, but ESPECIALLY when coming off of the pill, focus on nutrient dense foods like bone broths, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, nuts, and avocado. Not only do empty calories have no nutrition, but highly processed foods with lots of sugar will rob your body of nutrition it vitally needs!

Be patient

I know this is going to feel impossible, and you probably are scowling at me through the computer screen, but your reproductive and glandular systems have been repressed for so long! You MAY cycle right away, or you may not. Or you may and it will feel something like death. Give them a chance to kick back in and get back in the swing of things before you panic. It can take 9 months to a year for the body to find its rhythm again. While you’re “waiting” keep building up your body with solid nutrition, good supplements, and learn some stress reduction techniques. This is exceptionally important if you are seeking to achieve pregnancy.

Pay attention to your periods

I like what ND Briden says about your monthly cycles. They are your monthly report card that let you know how your body is doing. If they’re terribly miserable and completely derailing, something is off within your body that needs your attention. It would be helpful for you to seek out the support of a like-minded, holistic practitioner who can help you navigate what those symptoms mean for your internal health

Track your cycles

I am a huge fan of the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I recommend it to every single female client that comes to me with reproductive/menstrual concerns. I believe woman are not taught enough about how their bodies function! In this book you will learn more than you ever thought possible about your menstrual cycle, and it does a great job of explaining exactly how to chart. and what you can learn from all of it.

When you are tracking your cycles you can better understand how your cycles are doing. You’ll learn how long each of your phases are, and if you are ovulating (or not). This can be a great tool when coming off of the pill, whether you’re simply seeking to understand your health, trying to conceive, or trying to avoid pregnancy.

Tea

A simple tea of red raspberry and chaste berry (vitex) can go a long, long way to helping you restore a healthy hormone balance and healthy cycles. While there are many, many other herbs that may be indicated for you based on who you are, these are two that should be easy to find and help.

You’re Not Alone

And remember, no one should have to walk a healing journey alone. Find a practitioner that is educated and a good fit for you that will help you navigate getting off the pill and help you recover from the reasons you were taking the pill in the first place. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, I’m happy to help.

Resources

Period Repair Manual (available on Amazon)- I’ve referenced the book several times throughout this post, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has period and fertility concerns. There are lots of great, straightforward information about how the pill damages our bodies, and how we can restore balance to them.

Naturally Knocked Up (available on Amazon)- I’ve referred several clients to this book and everyone has found it to be very helpful in understanding how so many things in our every day life can be so disruptive to our  health, and specifically, matters of cycles and fertility.

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (available on Amazon)- If you have a uterus you need to read this book! Even if you’re not seeking to achieve pregnancy, you will gain oodles of information and wisdom about how and why women cycle.

Why Endometriosis can feel so isolating

When I first found out I had Endometriosis, I didn’t tell anyone. My family knew because well, I needed someone to drive me to the hospital but very few people knew – even some of my closest friends only heard about it after several months. The truth is that I was embarrassed about having Endometriosis. To me, it felt like a dirty disease. Like someone had gone and spread a whole bunch of dirty blood around my insides and that it needed a good mop and some detergent to get rid of it.

It was also in a very private part of the body. When you start having to explain the condition of Endometriosis and have to use the words: “Vagina”, “Menstruation” and “Cysts” around people, it is somehow inevitable that our face might turn a shade of red out of embarrassment. I just preferred not to tell people and keep it to myself.

I think this is why the condition can feel so isolating. We are alone with it for a large part of the experience.

endometriosis can be isolating

I also think our experiences with the condition often involve experiences where we are not taken seriously, where we are told that our period pain is “normal” and that we might just be pain sensitive or that it is all in our head. I remember experiencing these thoughts for many, many years prior to finding out and being properly diagnosed with Endometriosis. It creates a feeling of not wanting to speak up, for fear of being told: “you are just super sensitive” or “it is all in your head”. We keep it to ourselves because we don’t want to be made out to be weak or overly sensitive. Those emotions are incredibly hard to deal with and I remember feeling particularly isolated within several work environments which were very male dominated. It was unlikely I would ever be truly understood by those around me, when they had no concept of basic period pain, never mind the extensive pain I experienced!

Throughout my 20’s I simply accepted that I had to suck it up and deal with it.

Endometriosis was now part of my life and I just had to heed its warning. I had to adjust and compromise to its every whim and call – cos when that pain struck, it knocked me in a big, big way! It meant many nights of being alone with nothing but me, a hot water bottle and some girly movies to make the wait for the pain-killers to kick in a little easier. I missed so many special events or went along but felt that tender ripping in my abdomen throughout the whole event – really reducing the enjoyment of it all. I remember a particular wedding, where the pain was so bad, I spent a large portion of the day clutching my abdomen in the bathroom stall. It was really debilitating and so incredibly isolating. I felt so alone with it all and like no-one could possibly understand the experience of it all. I felt weak, limited and so incredibly disempowered about my body and my health.

I am sure if you are reading this, you can relate. Endometriosis is just so incredibly challenging to explain to others and even when we do, we still don’t think they really get what we go through. I often describe it as having a bad case of diarrhea but without the release of going to the toilet!

The truth is that I was embarrassed about having endometriosis

So, you might be asking yourself why I now share my story and write all this personal stuff, all over the internet….

There are a couple of reasons. The first is that I feel Endometriosis needs a voice. Women need to know that it exists and that there are plenty of other women who also suffer from the condition. Struggling with this condition on your own is really, really hard and when you can share the struggle with others and get motivation and real support from other women, it makes the whole thing so much easier.

Secondly, I sharing my story It took me a good part of my 30’s to finally realize that the medical system wasn’t really helping me. As much as I listened to the advice of going on a variety of contraceptive pills, hormone treatments and 7 surgeries, it left me with the same symptoms and problems plus a lovely array of side-effects to go with it!

What I discovered was that there was a way I could look after myself and support my body to alleviate many of the symptoms and that dreaded pain with Endometriosis. It took me a few years to really understand it all but I now live a completely pain and symptom free life with Endometriosis. I want to share what I have learned with as many women as I can… which means sharing my story and finally acknowledging and accepting Endometriosis.

It saddens me so much to hear of women struggling everyday with Endometriosis because I have felt that pain. I have felt the limitation and the lack of understanding. I really wish more women knew that there is a better way.

So, I contribute here at NFW to share my experiences and I created a website and a support network to give women a feeling of empowerment.

When dealing with chronic health issues, it’s important to know that we’re not alone. <3

Healthy blueberry smoothie

As our days start getting longer and the sun starts shining, my body starts to crave lighter foods. I love trading in the heavy soups and stews for smoothies and salads.

When I first started making smoothies they weren’t that good. In fact, we used to call them ‘grities’ because they were so coarse.

Healthy Blueberry Smoothie

Seriously,  I would just throw EVERYTHING in the blender just because it is good for you. That didn’t leave for very flavorful smoothies.

As time went on I learned that you don’t need to put everything in your smoothie just to make it healthy. You can have a healthy smoothie and make it taste good. Just make this ingredients count!

Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits to add into a smoothie because they are full of antioxidants.

To make my smoothies creamy, I love to add Greek yogurt. You get a nice dose of probiotics along with it adding a nice, thick consistency to your smoothie. This also is a good source of protein.

I love to add available on Amazon) to my smoothies as well because it can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This can be key for managing PCOS, thyroid and adrenal issues.

healthy smoothie

Gelatin (available on Amazon) is another great add in. I love that it is good for gut healing as well as great for joint health because of the collagen. (Make sure you are using the cold soluble kind of smoothies!)

Adding fresh greens give you a nice boost of minerals and vitamins. I love getting my veggies in with a breakfast smoothie. (If you are sensitive to oxalates, then be sure to  lightly steam your greens first.)

As far as a sweetener goes, you can add as much or as little as you like.

Add a pinch of salt in there to support your adrenals too.

Smoothies for fertiity

Healthy blueberry smoothie

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Blueberry smoothie
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of blueberries ( I use frozen)
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • 1-2 cups of leafy greens
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp. of cold soluble gelatin
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • a pinch of sea salt
  • Sweeten to taste if needed
  • (If you don't use frozen berries cut the water down a touch and throw a handful of ice in there)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

Smoothies come together fast and are great for a breakfast on the go when you load it up with nutrient dense ingredients.

Also, if you happen to be doing the Trim Healthy Mama plan this smoothie is considered a fuel pull.

We really have come to enjoy smoothies in our house and are always experimenting with the flavors.

What are some of your favorite ingredients to add into smoothies? 

 

For more amazing drink recipes, follow our whole foods board on Pinterest!

Support “Sweetening the Pill” and help change the way we view hormonal birth control!

It’s all pretty normal really.

Don’t want to get pregnant? Take “The Pill”.

Want to “regulate” your cycle? Take “The Pill”.

But as women, we aren’t being told the whole story.

That the pill has side effects and causes changes to our delicate hormonal system. And hormonal birth control is being used at younger ages than ever before with no long-term studies being done on the implications of this!

My on story with the pill is one I hear often, I went on it right before I got married as we wanted to wait a while before having children. And the doctor mentioned that it would regulate my almost non-existent cycles. So it was a win-win right?!

Almost immediately I began gaining weight, started getting acne that wouldn’t go away, and I had migraines all the time. After a few changes in pills, I found one that was “ok” and stayed on it for over three years because I felt I had no other options.

I didn’t know it was doing was causing major emotional issues: irritability, rage, being irrational, moody, and plain old mad most of the time.

I didn’t know that there were other ways to balance my hormones and prevent pregnancy! Over the last few years I’ve also found that many other women don’t know they have options either.

If a woman wants to take hormonal birth control – more power to her. The issue I have is that it doesn’t really seem like informed consent when we aren’t being told (or asking about!) how the pill changes our bodies. Prescriptions are handed out all the time to “fix” hormone issues, and yet diet and lifestyle changes are rarely mentioned, or implemented.

And we aren’t learning how our bodies work. 

I was shocked how much I didn’t know when I began learning about Fertility Awareness/Natural Family Planning. Women email me weekly with questions trying to figure out what’s going on with their bodies and many of those can be answered if they simply knew how to chart their cycles.

In fact, if you learn only ONE THING from me, it’s that, as a woman, learning about the physical and emotional nuances in your cycle is one of the most important things you can do. Talk about empowering!

But all of that could change in a BIG way and I really, really hope you’re with me on this. Help me back this Kickstarter project!

If all of my readers gave just $2 we can get it fully backed this weekend!

sweetening the pill

Sweetening the Pillbased on the book by Holly Grigg-Spall (available on Amazon) and executive produced by Ricki Lake and directed by Abby Epstein – the brilliant team behind The Business of Being Born, is a new documentary that will explore what technological and medical advancement might mean for birth control in the 21st Century.

The donations will not only fund the film, but they will also act as an affirmative vote, a raised hand of support, for this project. For starting this conversation. It won’t just be the money raised that counts, it will be how many people came out to show support for addressing these issues.

Show your vote and support by donating! As of right now there are almost 800 backers and I know, without a shadow of doubt, that there are more than 800 women that support this message. Even if you only give $1, your vote will count.

 

Exclusive Q&A with Ricki Lake, Abby Epstein, & Holly Grigg-Spall

What made you want to shed light on this topic of hormonal contraceptives?

Ricki: It really seemed like a very natural progression for us from ‘The Business of Being Born.’ Women spend more time trying to avoid pregnancy – a decade or more at the start, then they have babies, then they’re back to trying to avoid it for further decades. It’s an experience all women share. What we did for birth, we want to do for birth control, and empower women with more information and more choice. ‘The Business of Being Born’ was about body literacy and this project is the same – it’s about women knowing, understanding, and trusting their bodies.

Abby: We’ve both had our own negative experiences with different kinds of hormonal contraceptives over the years. We know other women who have experienced the same thing. Holly Grigg-Spall sent us her manuscript for ‘Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked on Hormonal Birth Control’ and something just clicked when I was reading it. For the first time, I was connecting emotionally difficult periods in my life to the use of the pill and it just made so much sense to do this film. We could approach birth control with women’s empowerment in mind, too.

Holly: For me, I wrote the book because I had a pretty terrible personal experience with the Pill, which I used for ten years consistently. The book began as a blog that I wrote about coming off the Pill and my experience doing that, how it made me feel, finding alternative contraception, learning about my cycle and so on. That blog meant that lots of women got in touch to share their own stories. I realized the extent of this problem. I then soon realized it was really taboo almost to criticise the Pill or the culture around the Pill. That interested me. I saw ‘The Business of Being Born’ when I was actually writing the book and I made the connection right away. I wrote about the parallels between the birth and the birth control industries. I knew that the book could make the basis of a great documentary and that the absolute best people to do this would be Abby and Ricki. I set my sights on that. Of course, I am now over-the-moon about the film. A book is one thing, but a documentary like this can reach so many more women.

 

Why have you turned to Kickstarter to get this movie made?

Abby: We spent a year going the traditional route and we met with a few networks and production companies. We had a lot of discussion and a lot of real interest. People were saying this film could be “the Food Inc. of birth control.” Everyone has a story or knows someone who has a story about this, it’s just that kind of subject. But, it doesn’t have that commercial pull. It seems, at first, a little scary even. Some people struggle to understand the perspective. We have to explain that it is not anti-birth control or anti-Pill. Instead it is pro-informed consent, pro-choice, and pro-knowledge. We want women to have more options for contraception, not less! We want them to have more access, not less! It’s a feminist film project. This topic is very politicized right now, so that takes a little time to explain.

Ricki: People might not realize, but we didn’t actually make any money from ‘The Business of Being Born’ – it was hugely successful in many great ways, but we lost money. Documentaries are really passion projects. We know a grassroots effort is right for this project, it spreads awareness and gets the conversation going. Women will share their stories and may even share their stories for the film. They will have their experiences validated by this, which is so important. The campaign is doing really well, but we have to keep going strong to reach our goal now.

 

The Kickstarter campaign highlights Fertility Awareness Methods as a non-hormonal alternative, particularly when supported with apps and new technology. How did this area come to your attention?

Ricki: We got introduced to Kindara first through Holly’s book and we have met with them and discussed their work with their app and new wireless basal body thermometer, Wink. They want to democratize this knowledge, make it part of every woman’s education. They really think it could change things for the better when it comes to women’s lives. We also spoke with the makers of Clue in Berlin. They’re helping women track every part of their monthly cycle. It’s great progress for women’s reproductive health. Just this week we saw that Apple finally decided to add menstrual cycles to their HealthKit app. This is wonderful. It means other apps can sync with the native technology on the iPhone and it means more women will come to realize they can track their cycles and benefit from being aware of this information. They will be made aware of that option.

Abby: Really the technology sector is leading the way here. We’re seeing them step up and help and support women who don’t want to or can’t use hormonal contraceptives. They’re making using Fertility Awareness Methods simpler, easier, less time-consuming and more approachable. They’re getting in the media and getting their message out there. And these people are also a wealth of knowledge because thousands of women are using their apps and talking to them about their cycles and experiences.

 

A lot of women take the Pill for other issues these days, not just for contraception. Do you want to explore this?

Abby: Absolutely. A couple of our film advisors work in this area – providing holistic, natural reproductive health support. They are working with women who have found the Pill hasn’t helped them long term. They’ve had side effects or the problems they had before have returned after coming off. They’re struggling to get pregnant. The Pill is prescribed for so many health problems these days and, although it’s definitely helpful and even essential for some women, it’s not the right treatment in all situations. In the Kickstarter video we highlight one part of this – how women are using it to regulate their cycles, even though they’re getting misleading information on that.

Holly: This is such an important area. More and more women are on the Pill for everything from acne to PCOS and yet the Pill doesn’t treat these problems, it only masks them. When women come off, most commonly the issue returns and might even be worse than before. We think that women have to suffer with PMS, like it’s our destiny, inevitable, when actually a lot of hormonal balance-related problems can be treated properly long term with alternative protocols. Women deserve better. They don’t have to put up with this stuff. And they don’t always have to use drugs that give them side effects to fix the problem. For some women, as Abby says, hormonal contraceptives are essential treatment. But we’re at a point now where it’s being doled out like a cure-all and it’s just not.

Click here to donate and help make this movie a reality!

And please share this information with your friends. They need to know that The Pill isn’t always (or ever) the best choice.

We women deserve to have the information we need to make the best choices we can for our health.