Post Birth Control Syndrome + 5 Steps to Balance Your Hormones After the Pill

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If you recently quit hormonal birth control, you’re probably going through a bit of hell right now. I know it’s not fair, but you are going through something called Post Birth Control Syndrome.

This withdrawal process from hormonal birth control (HBC) lasts anywhere from 6-12 months, and it peaks at month 6 (1). It’s usually around this time that you might feel like giving up and going back to the pill. But please stay strong and power through this phase, because if you do you will be rewarded.

So why is this happening?!

The reason you are suffering is because your body is detoxing from synthetic hormones. This also usually causes a surge in androgens which can cause acne and other PMS symptoms.

To make matters worse, since you haven’t ovulated or had a period all these years while taking hormonal birth control ( HBC shuts down ovulation, so you’ve really just been having a “withdrawal bleed” or “pill bleed”) you’ve been robbed from making the hormone progesterone.

Progesterone is literally nature’s chill pill, so trust me, you want this!

Calming you down is not all that this super hormone can do! Progesterone nourishes our hair and nails by reducing androgens (male hormones), as well as boosts energy by stimulating the thyroid and the metabolism. And recent research has found that women who don’t ovulate experience bone loss at a faster rate than women who do ovulate, so progesterone is also a crucial component of preventing osteoporosis.

And since you haven’t been ovulating while taking hormonal birth control, it might take some time before your body starts ovulating and menstruating again.

So what is a “pill bleed”?

Pill bleeds are pharmaceutically induced bleeds that involve no hormone production on your end at all. So all of the “periods” you had while on hormonal birth control were just for show. Let me repeat, these “periods” were completely fake (exception being the Copper IUD and Mirena IUD. Read below for statistics).

Shocking, right?

When a women ovulates without the use of hormonal birth control, she creates progesterone and estradiol. These hormones have a multitude of benefits for your mood, bones, thyroid and metabolism. They’re pretty much essential for a women’s physiology. This means that women who take a form of hormonal birth control are robbed of these crucial hormones that keep us healthy and happy.

It’s one of the largest injustices to women’s health today, and it’s no wonder many women who take a form of hormonal birth control experience depression.

In October 2016 JAMA psychiatry released a study conducted by researches from the University of Copenhagen. In the study, titled “Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression” they tracked one million women over the course of 13 years and concluded that women who use hormonal birth control are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with depression (2).

The fact that hormonal birth control is the most widely used form of contraception used today is infuriating. The practice is antiquated, and it’s time this harmful trend comes to an end.

Now is the time to take our reproductive system back into our own control. For the sake of our health, and the next generation’s. 

Common Symptoms of Post-Birth Control Syndrome Include:

  • Amenorrhea (loss of menstruation)
  • Heavy, painful periods
  • Infertility
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Acne
  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Hair loss
  • Depression
  • Blood sugar dysregulation
  • Anxiety
  • Gas or bloating
  • Changes in bowels
  • Inflammation and other immune imbalances

So now the road to recovery begins.

Your 5 Step Plan When Coming Off The Birth Control Pill (or any other form of hormonal birth control):

1. Reestablish your natural hormonal rhythm.

Your hormones fluctuate during different times of your cycle.

There are four cycles:

  1. Menstruation–  Estrogen begins to increase and progesterone is low.
  2. Follicular Phase- Estrogen peaks, progesterone is low.
  3. Ovulation–  Estrogen begins to fall and progesterone peaks.
  4. Luteal Phase– Both estrogen and progesterone dip.

Even if you are not yet ovulating on your own, it is important to encourage the production of estrogen and progesterone at the right times of the month. This will help you eventually start to ovulate on your own.

Two methods to reestablish natural hormonal rhythms:

  1. Seed cycling. Seed cycling is one of the simplest and most effective holistic remedies for balancing hormones.This ancient technique helps restore the balance of  the sex hormones estrogen and progesterone by rotating certain seeds into your diet during the two different phases of your menstrual cycle (follicular and luteal phase).
  2. Vitex– Vitex is an herb that promotes ovulation by protecting your hypothalamus gland from stress and from preventing your pituitary gland from making too much prolactin. Basically, it increases your levels of dopamine, which lowers your levels of prolactin, which makes your luteinizing hormone go up, and then makes you ovulate and make progesterone!

A note of caution about Vitex: Please do not use vitex until you’ve been off of hormonal birth control for at least three months. I recommend 1,000mg a day taken as a single dose first thing in the morning before breakfast. Stop taking it on days 1-5 of your cycle, and then start again. Discontinue use after six months. If you have PCOS please talk with a health care practitioner first, because it might not be the best choice.

2. Replenish nutrient stores.

Hormonal birth control causes leaky gut, preventing your body from absorbing all the nutrients from your food. As they say in Ayurveda “you are what you digest.”.

This is why women who come off hormonal birth control are deficient in nutrients and minerals such as zinc, B12, magnesium, D3, iodine and selenium-all nutrients necessary for ovarian health. So it’s imperative to replenish these levels ASAP.

3. Support detox pathways.

It’s important to open your detox pathways, as this is how you will flush out excess estrogen in the body, as well as all the synthetic hormones you’ve built up from the use of hormonal birth control . Ways to do this are by going on a cleanse like my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Program . Dandelion root tea, taking Glutothione, chlorella, and/or activated charcoal. NAC is also a great supplement. And of course, drink lots of water and eat plenty of liver supporting foods like broccoli sprouts, dandelion greens, beets, and cauliflower.

4. Rebuild your gut.

Most women’s gut post hormonal birth control is in a state of dysbiosis due to leaky gut. You must get your microbiome to a healthy state in order to start digesting and absorbing your food properly. Do this by taking probiotics, eating 2-3 servings of fermented foods daily, and drinking gut healing bone broth and collagen.

5. Nourish your thyroid

If you’re thyroid is not operating properly, it can prevent you from ovulating and having a healthy period. To support your thyroid, take 150 mcg of iodine daily (nothing more unless advised by a trained practitioner), and replenish your stores of selenium, 1-3 brazil nuts a day will do the trick, or 150 mcg in pill form daily. I encourage you to take a serum ferritin test and if your levels are too low (you want a level of 50-90 ng/ml) then supplement as needed.

Okay, I know this is a lot of information to absorb, and it might be overwhelming at first. But please be reassured that although it might seem like the end of the world, you can and WILL get through this.

And know that you are not alone. Please contact me today for a 30-minute consultation, so we can get you on my 20-Day Hormone Reboot Detox to get your hormones back on track, so you can start feeling the way you’re designed to- healthy, happy, and PMS free!

With Gratitude,

Health Coach Jenna

* exceptions being the copper IUD which uses no hormones, and the Mirena IUD which has low levels of hormones. In the first year the Mirena suppresses ovulation in 85% of cycles , and in the second year 15% of cycles.

Sources:

  1. Briden, L. (n.d.). Period repair manual. p.34.
  2. Skovlund CW, Morch LS, Kessing LV, Lidegaard O, Association of Hormonal Contraception With Depression. JAMA Psychiatry. 2016 Nov 1;73(11):1154-1162.PubMed PMID: 27680324.

5 Things Women Who Take the Birth Control Pill Should Be Doing NOW.

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TRUTH: If you are currently taking the birth control pill, then you are most likely deficient in crucial vitamins and minerals.

What doctors don’t often tell their patients before putting them on the pill is that it:

  • Creates an imbalance in gut bacteria and causes leaky gut syndrome
  • Depletes nutrients (because they can’t be absorbed due to leaky gut)
  • Disrupts the microbiome
  • Creates chronic inflammation because of the high estrogen dose
  • Decreases fertility
  • Is linked to depression

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pissed that doctors don’t disclose this information before writing the prescription. Especially when they are prescribing the birth control pill for preventable things like irregular periods and acne. In these cases, the doctor is doing the patient a huge disservice by not delving deeper and running labs to find out what the underlying hormonal imbalance is that is causing the issues in the first place.

Prescribing the birth control pill is just plain lazy.

(For those of you trying to prevent pregnancy and you are wondering what your other options are, please CLICK HERE.)

Okay, so what if you’re on the pill and you don’t plan on quitting any time soon? Well, this is your right entirely and seeing as my main goal is to help support you on your journey, I have a few tips for you.

In addition to taking birth control pill, you should start doing these five things:

1. Take a multivitamin.

Because the birth control causes leaky gut, your body is not absorbing all the nutrients from your food. This is why it is crucial to take a daily multivitamin. I can not emphasize enough how important this is.

And babes, please splurge on this one. Don’t buy the $10 bottle at CVS, this will just give you $10 urine. Instead, opt for Green Vibrance ( I like this one because it also has your probiotics-winning!), or Garden of Life.

2. Take Vitamin D3 : Vitamin D is crucial for hormonal and metabolic function,  yet around 80% of people are deficient in it. In addition to taking a Vitamin D supplement, make sure to get at least 10 minutes of direct sun exposure a day as this helps activate your supplement.

3. Take B12 with Folate- B12 can protect against dementia, increase immune function, maintain nerves, and regenerate cells. It’s necessary for maintaining methylation reactions that repair DNA and prevent cancer. It’s hard to get enough B12 from our diet, and if you are vegan or vegetarian it’s even more difficult. It’s even MORE difficult if you are on the birth control pill, as your body can’t absorb nutrients efficiently due to leaky guy.

Vitamin B12 deficiency is no joke. It can cause extreme fatigue that can disrupt your daily life, and make it hard to function. Tasks that seem easy can appear daunting when suffering from fatigue.

4. Eat at least 2-3 servings of fermented foods daily. Your body depends on your gut to remove excess hormones, that’s why it’s vital to keep your microbiome healthy. Sadly, the birth control pill has been shown to disrupt gut flora and create an environment that allows for an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast. Eating fermented foods will help keep your microbiome balanced. However, if fermented foods are upsetting you, look into getting tested for SIBO.

5. Take a probiotic. Taking a high grade probiotic is your insurance ticket that makes sure beneficial strands of bacteria are being introduced to your gut daily. For optimum health you should maintain an 85-to-15 percent ratio of good bacteria to bad. Once the bad bacteria rises above 15 percent, the immune system begins to slow down and sets off a chain reaction that promotes disease, digestion problems, and interferes with nutrient absorption.

Alright ladies, good luck! And remember, your diet is the most powerful tool you have to keep you vibrant and healthy. So continue to incorporate a variety of vegetables and quality fats into your diet always!

xxxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

What Poop Has to Do With Your Hormones + 3 Tips to Relieve Constipation

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Let’s talk poop and your hormones.

Yes, I said poop. I mean, everyone does it. It also happens to be a pretty important subject in regards to health, so I figured we should have this conversation sooner than later.

We should all be having at least one to two healthy bowel movements a day, and if we’re not, then the toxins start to build up quickly.

Toxins like estrogen.

You see, we flush out excess estrogen through our poop. And when we are constipated, that estrogen builds up in your body, and creates something called estrogen dominance.

Estrogen dominance is seriously the most wicked villain of them all girls. It causes heavy periods, bloating (think 5-10 pounds of water weight during PMS), headaches, acne, mood swings, and painful periods.

It’s no joke.

Not only that, but estrogen dominance will then throw all of your other sex hormones out of balance, creating issues like infertility and possibly lead to autoimmune disease.
This is why your hormones start with your gut health. It is crucial to keep your microbiome healthy in order to detox your body daily.

To keep your gut healthy, make sure you are eating a few servings of fermented foods daily, as well as prebiotic rich foods. I also encourage you to take a high-grade probiotic once a day.

As for healthy visits to the toilet?

3 Tips To Relieve Constipation:

1. Magnesium Citrate– Take 150-200 grams before bedtime
2. High Grade Probiotic– This will keep your gut healthy and happy.
3. DRINK WATER.  You should be drinking half your body weight in ounces daily.

Alright ladies. Good luck with it all! And if you are ready to feel lighter and more vibrant TODAY, then check out my 20-Day Hormone Reboot online program which will get your digestive system working smoothly in no time!

xxxxx

Health Coach Jenna

10 Reasons Why You Should Add Ghee to Your Diet

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Much like coconut oil, ghee is a multi-purpose fat that is healthy in many ways. I religiously start my day off with a cup of matcha or coffee (after my warm lemon water of course!), blended with one tablespoon of ghee, and a tablespoon of Brain Octane Oil. This keeps my metabolism revving,  my hormones nourished, helps my body maintain a healthy weight, and gives me a burst of mental clarity.

Find out why you might want to include ghee into your daily diet as well.

10 Reasons to Eat Ghee:

1. High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Because ghee—if it is from grass-fed cows—is high in Omega 3s, it protects against inflammation which is great news for those who suffer from painful periods or pelvic pain due to endometriosis or adenomyosis.

2. Promotes Healthy Weight

Ingesting ghee helps pull fat-soluble toxins from your cells and stimulates your fat metabolism resulting in your body burning its own fat for fuel.

3. Supports Gut Health

Ghee creates beneficial bacteria in our gut and it also contains butyric acid, which helps keep the lining of the gut wall strong. This prevents you from getting leaky gut syndrome.

4. Easy to Digest

Because ghee is lactose free it is easy to digest. Ayurveda, India’s traditional system of medicine meaning “science of life”, teaches that ghee stimulates the digestive fire which speeds up the metabolism.

5. Lactose Free

Ghee is safe for those with dairy allergies because the lactose has been removed during the clarification process. Most of the casein (the protein from animal foods shown to cause cancer) has also been removed. However, if you are casein intolerant you should not consume ghee as it still contains trace amounts.

6. Makes for the Perfect Cooking Oil

Ghee has a high smoke point of 485’F / 252’C making it a great oil for cooking.

7. Tastes Amazing

Ghee is rich and delicious. One of my favorite meals is veggies cooked in ghee with some hemp seeds sprinkled on top.

8. Fat Soluble Vitamin Heaven

Ghee is chock full of vitamins such as:

  • Vitamin E: Most adults are deficient in this. It’s important to get sufficient intake as it is a potent antioxidant and immune system booster. Vitamin E is also important for eye health and has cancer fighting properties.
  • Vitamin A: Important for healthy vision, immune function, and proper cell growth.
  • Vitamin K: Prevents blood clotting, protects from heart disease, ensures healthy skin, forms strong bones, and promotes brain function. In studies it has been show to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
  • Vitamin D: Plays a key role in almost all of our physiological functions. It is an immune system regulator so it is vital to our health. Vitamin D aids in prevention of osteoporosis, many types of cancer, depression, diabetes and obesity.

9. Ghee made from grass-fed cows contains CLA.

Studies indicate that conjugated linoleic acid may help to reduce tumors, lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and actually lower body fat.

10. Ghee contains butyrate, an essential short-chain fatty acid

Butyrate, or butyric acid, is a short-chain fatty acid that improves colon health. It’s been shown to support healthy insulin levels, is an anti-inflammatory, and may be helpful for individuals suffering from IBS, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Have you tried ghee before? What are your favorite ways to add it to your diet? Tell me all about it in the comments section below!

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Health Coach Jenna

Coconut Kefir- The Easiest Fermented Food You’ll Ever Make

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Coconut kefir is probably the most simple fermented food to make. My body just can’t digest dairy milk kefir, so I opted for the coconut milk version instead. I have previously tried to make coconut kefir with kefir grains, and failed both times. Miserably.

I don’t feel too bad because while looking on Meghan Telpner’s health blog for another coconut kefir recipe, she mentioned she has never made a successful batch of coconut kefir with kefir grains either. Instead she uses a probiotic capsule. I tried this out and the next morning I was happy to find a fresh batch of delicious coconut kefir. I was so happy, I juuuuust may have done a little happy dance.

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Coconut Kefir:

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (2 cups) full fat coconut milk (make sure to buy one without all the funny sounding ingredients. Arroy-D is a good choice, as well as Thai Kitchen Organic)
  • 1 probiotic capsule (about 1/4 tsp of powder). Any live kind will do.
  • 1 clean one litre mason jar.

Instructions:

  1. Stir together the coconut milk and the probiotic. If the cream and water in the tin are very separated, you may want to toss it in the blender or warm over low heat first and then whisk in the probiotic.
  2. Transfer to your jar and put a breathable cloth or folded paper towels on top. Secure with a rubber band.
  3. Let sit at room temperature for 18-24 hours. You can taste periodically with a clean spoon until desired taste is achieved. If you live in a tropical climate 8 hours is enough. 6 might even be sufficient. Just keep an eye on it. Note that the longer it ferments, the more sour it will taste. It all comes down to personal preference.
  4. Once ready, reserve 1/2 cup of coconut kefir for your next batch in a new mason jar. Place your coconut kefir in the fridge.
  5. Will keep 3-4 days, or freeze for a couple of weeks.

Second Batch Instructions:

  • Mix together your reserved 1/2 cup of coconut kefir with 2 cups (1 can) organic full fat coconut milk. Repeat steps 2-5 above.

Enjoy!

Health Coach Jenna

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5 Health Essentials to Bring on Vacation

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” –Saint Augustine

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Traveling has enriched my life in many ways. I have learned valuable life lessons, experienced new cultures, and I even met my husband while spending a year in Honduras.

But traveling isn’t always glamorous; the Instagram shots from backpackers and jetsetters might make it appear so, but the truth is, there’s a flip side. Jetlag, constipation, diarrhea and food poisoning many times accompany travel. This is inevitable due to foreign bacteria, different degrees of hygiene, and to being at the mercy of someone else preparing your food.

But please don’t let these things discourage you from traveling my friends! From my experience, I’ve found that some people are less vulnerable than others due to lifestyle choices, habits, and a little preparation. And by bringing these five travel essentials on your next trip, you will feel light, energized, and ready to sight see!

So don’t cancel your flight just yet. Continue packing your bags-just make sure to include these five essentials to avoid getting that Delhi Belly.

5 Health Essentials to Pack for Your Next Trip:

1.Probiotics

Probiotics promote good gut health, which is crucial because it’s the key to overall wellness. I’ve been on the road for the past year and a half, and have only fallen ill with food poisoning twice (very mild cases). I contribute my strong constitution to taking a high-grade probiotic and eating fermented foods daily. My probiotic of choice is Green Vibrance because it not only includes 25 billion probiotics, but it also includes an array of greens and vitamins. Look out for their individually sealed travel packs. If you prefer the convenience of a pill, I recommend Ultra Flora Spectrum.

2. Grapefruit Seed Extract

This is a lifesaver. If you have a parasite or have been introduced to bad bacteria from food, this stuff will flush it out pronto. Eating papaya seeds first thing in the morning also helps kill parasites*.

3. The Airplane Combo Pack

One of the best ways to combat jetlag is to get rest on the plane. I know this isn’t always easy, but I have found that bringing a neck pillow, eye mask, and lavender oil helps me get more ZZZ’s. The eye mask blocks out the light from my neighbor’s movie screen, the pillow adds more comfort, and the lavender oil helps with relaxation.

4. Healthy Snacks

When traveling you are many times at the mercy of restaurants. Seeing as you can’t always predict when the next eatery will pop up, carrying healthy snacks with you is crucial. Things like unsalted almonds, cashews and walnuts are excellent for balancing your blood sugar levels and keeping your hunger at bay. Rx Bars are also easy options, as are individual protein powder packs.

In addition, I always travel with an emergency supply of oats in case I find myself in a pinch. I make a few individual servings in Ziploc bags with oats, cinnamon, goji berries, chia seeds, and walnuts, and I always carry a tin cup and spoon so I can make a meal wherever I go. When I find myself starving and without healthy options, I simply pour my prepared bag of oats in my handy cup, add a little hot water (or cold if not available), and lunch is served.

5. Magnesium Citrate

It’s very easy to get constipated while traveling. This is understandable as travel routines can be unpredictable, and your body isn’t getting the same food it’s used to. A simple solution is to take a few Magnesium Citrate (around 300-400 mg) at bedtime, and constipation will not be an issue.

All right folks, if you follow these five tips, you are more likely to enjoy your trip without all the not so glamorous side effects.

And don’t forget to bring a BPA-free, or stainless steel water bottle along with you. Fill it up religiously and keep track of how many you are drinking a day. I cannot stress how crucial it is to get your two liters (or more if traveling somewhere hot!). Trust me, it’s all too easy to get dehydrated while traveling, as you are distracted with all the new exciting sights and smells.

Happy Travels!

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*If you are pregnant, do not consume papaya seeds, as it could terminate the pregnancy.

How To Make Kefir

Hey Folks!

Fermented foods are my jam. I love them more than most anything, as I know how healthy and vibrant they make my body. The key to good health is maintaining healthy bacteria in our gut- it’s pretty much crucial to our physical wellbeing, and as we have learned, our mental wellbeing as well.

It’s important to get at least 2-3 fermented foods a day, and  kefir is an excellent fermented food that can be incorporated at breakfast, or any other meal of the day. I really enjoy kefir with oatmeal, or in a smoothie, as it has a nice tangy taste that gives smoothies a refreshing and creamy kick.

Today, Abby Quillen is sharing with us a recipe for kefir (both water and milk versions) , as well as its excellent nutritional benefits.

Ways Microbiota is Good For You

Guest post by Abby Quillen:

A healthy human gut harbors 100 trillion microorganisms representing 500 different species.1 These microflora outnumber our human cells 10 to 1.2 The good news is that most of them are our allies. They aid digestion, boost immune function, and help us absorb nutrients. It’s no wonder more and more people are taking probiotics.Luckily, you don’t need to spend a bundle on supplements to boost your gut biome. Eating probiotic-rich fermented foods – as people have done for thousands of years – has the same gut health benefits. If fermentation sounds like a scary science experiment, then it’s time to learn how to make kefir, one of the healthiest and easiest-to-make probiotic-rich foods.

Kefir 101

Kefir is tangy, mildly carbonated, fermented milk. It tastes like drinkable yogurt and has been a regular part of Russian and Eastern European diets for centuries. It’s a true superfood packed with calcium, protein, potassium, and other minerals and vitamins, and it abounds with healthy bacteria, yeasts, and enzymes.

ConsumerLab.com tests showed that a serving of store-bought kefir beats supplements when it comes to the number and diversity of probiotics. Every brand of kefir they tested teemed with “live organisms, ranging from 150 billion to 950 billion per cup – far more than found in a serving of most probiotic supplements.”3

Homemade kefir contains even more microorganisms than store-bought varieties, because most home fermenters use kefir grains that contain between 30 and 50 different strains of healthy bacteria and yeast. In one study, just one tablespoon of milk kefir contained 150 billion colony-forming units (cfu), a measure of viable bacterial or fungal cells. Compare that to most supplements, which usually contain between 3.4 billion and 30 billion cfu.

The probiotics present in kefir vary per batch, but here’s a list of bacteria strains commonly found in homemade kefir:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Lactococcus
  • Leuconostoc
  • Pseudomonas
  • Streptococcus

These yeast strains are common to kefir:

  • Candida
  • Torulaspora
  • Kluyveromyces
  • Saccharomyces45

The best part is that kefir is simple, fast, inexpensive, and safe to make at home. If you’ve struggled to ferment vegetables or yogurt in the past, don’t let those experiences scare you away from DIY kefir. The entire fermentation process only takes 24 hours at room temperature.

Not into dairy? No problem. Milk kefir can be made with coconut milk. Or you can make water kefir, a delicious and popular soda substitute. Read on to learn the basics of both.

The Difference Between the Grains

First off, milk kefir grains aren’t really grains. They’re a mixture of lactic acid, bacteria, and yeasts in a matrix of proteins, lipids, and sugars, and they contain the wonder bugs that turn milk into kefir.

Kefir grains are not available at stores, but they can be purchased online from a number of vendors. Or they can be found locally on message boards or via friends. If the grains are well cared for, they can be reused indefinitely to brew batch after batch of kefir. And they grow, which means you’ll eventually have some to share.

Kefir can also be made from a powdered starter culture, which is how it’s brewed commercially. However, the grains contain more strains of probiotics and are a more economical choice, since you can use the same ones to make kefir indefinitely.

Water kefir grains contain fewer strains of bacteria and yeast than milk kefir grains, and resemble sugar rather than milk curds. Similar to milk kefir grains, they can be purchased from a number of online vendors, and they can be used over and over again.

How to Make Milk Kefir

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons kefir grains
  • 1 quart milk

Choose one of these options:

  • Cow, sheep, or goat milk

Pasteurized milk works great, but avoid ultra-pasteurized and reduced-lactose varieties. The milk can contain any percentage of fat.

  • Coconut milk

Milk kefir grains can also ferment coconut milk. It may take the grains a few brews to adjust to non-dairy milk. Revitalize them every few days by covering with dairy milk and leaving overnight.

Equipment:

Kefir is acidic, so avoid letting it come into contact with metal, which can cause a reaction.

  • 3 quart-sized jars with lid rings
  • Coffee filter, cloth, or other breathable material (enough to cover two jars)
  • Non-metallic colander or strainer
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize the jars.
  2. Depending on where you get your grains, they may be dehydrated. If so, follow the directions provided by the vendor for rehydration. If grains are resting in water, strain.
  3. Place 4 tablespoons of grains into a jar.
  4. Fill the jar with milk.
  5. Affix breathable material with a jar ring.
  6. Set the jar on the countertop out of direct sunlight or in a cupboard for 24 hours. Shake occasionally.
  7. Strain the kefir through the colander into the mixing bowl.
  8. Transfer the kefir into a clean jar. Smell and taste. If the kefir is thick, tangy, and slightly fizzy, it’s perfect. Affix a non-metallic lid, refrigerate, and enjoy. If sour is not your thing, read on for tips to sweeten the kefir.
  9. Move the grains from the colander into the last jar. Repeat the process to make another batch of kefir, or cover the grains with milk and place in the refrigerator. Cold slows the fermentation, so the grains will rest there until you’re ready to make kefir again. Some experts say not to rest grains in the refrigerator regularly. However, many fermenters do because it’s difficult to keep up with drinking quarts of kefir daily. Fortunately, kefir grains tend to be quite resilient.
  10. Kefir should not taste or smell rotten. If it does, or if anything else about it seems off, discard the liquid, rinse the grains in non-chlorinated water, and start over.
How to Enjoy Milk Kefir

How to Make Water Kefir

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon water kefir grains
  • 1/4 cup sugar, sucanat, rapadura, agave nectar, or maple syrup
  • 1 quart of water
  • Optional flavorings
    • Ginger
    • Lemon slices
    • Berries, sliced in half
    • Dried fruit
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon or another dried spice
    • 2 1/4 cup raisins

Equipment:

  • 3 quart-sized jars with metal lid rings
  • Coffee filter, cloth, or other breathable material, enough to cover two jars
  • Non-metallic colander or strainer
  • Rubber spatula or wooden spoon
  • Non-metallic mixing bowl
  • Flip-top bottles (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Sterilize jars.
  2. Depending on where you get your grains, they may be dehydrated. If so, follow the directions provided by the vendor for rehydration. If grains are resting in water, strain.
  3. Boil water.
  4. Add the heated water and sweetener to a quart-sized jar. Stir until sweetener dissolves in water. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.
  5. Add the water kefir grains.
  6. Cover with breathable material and leave on countertop for 24 to 48 hours, shaking occasionally.
  7. Prepare a new batch of sugar water.
  8. Strain the grains by pouring through a colander into a mixing bowl. Transfer the finished water kefir into a clean jar.
  9. If desired, add optional flavorings, pour into the flip-top bottles, seal, and return to the countertop for 18 to 24 hours. This second fermentation adds flavor and fizziness.
  10. After 24 hours, strain out the flavorings, return the water kefir to the bottles, store in the refrigerator, and enjoy whenever desired.
  11. Place the grains in the new batch of sugar water. Either repeat the process or place the jar in the refrigerator to rest for up to 3 weeks.
  12. Water kefir grains can grow rapidly. Share any extra with friends, eat, or compost.67

Cautions

Milk and water kefir are delicious, and it’s quick and easy to whip up abundant supplies. But be cautious about drinking too much too soon. Remember, these beverages contain a lot of probiotics. Your body probably isn’t used to digesting foods that contain that many good bugs. Start with small quantities (maybe just a couple of tablespoons) and increase gradually to let your body adjust. If you experience any digestive upset, slow down.

Kefir is a powerhouse beverage for most healthy people, but it may not be the right drink for people who have compromised immune systems or artificial heart valves, or who are taking certain medications. If in doubt, ask your doctor first.

People who abstain from alcohol may want to skip kefir. Milk kefir contains a very small amount of naturally occurring alcohol from the fermentation process. Water kefir that is fermented a second time with fruit contains more alcohol but usually has less than 1 percent alcohol by volume (compared to 3.5 to 10 percent for beer).8 The actual amount varies per batch by the sugar content of the fruit and the length of fermentation time.

Conclusion

The word “kefir” is said to come from the Turkish word kief, which loosely means “good feeling.”9 Once you start making it, it’s easy to understand how this substance got its name. Making kefir is an ancient art that easily fits into busy, modern lives. If you want the benefits of probiotics without the supplements, it’s time to discover this wonder drink.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.health.harvard.edu/vitamins-and-supplements/health-benefits-of-taking-probiotics
  2. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
  3. https://www.consumerlab.com/news/Probiotic_supplements_kefir_drinks/11_06_2015/
  4. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/milk-kefir-grains-composition-bacteria-yeast
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3716650/
  6. https://www.wholetraditions.com/articles/3-water-kefir-instructions
  7. http://www.culturesforhealth.com/how-to-make-water-kefir
  8. http://kellythekitchenkop.com/does-kefir-soda-have-alcohol/
  9. http://journals.usamvcluj.ro/index.php/agriculture/article/download/930/926

 

About Abby:

abby

Abby Quillen is a writer and gardener who has written for a number of publications and penned her own book titled “The Garden of Dead Dreams.” She lives in Oregon with her family where she enjoys gardening, walking and bike riding, and jotting down the cute things her children say.

This article was originally published on Fix.com on January 18,2016.

Your Guide to Probiotic Rich Foods for Healthier Digestion

 Image via Shutterstock

The human microbiome and gut health have been all the rage this year – and for good reason! Did you know that in the human body microorganisms outnumber human cells by 10 to 1? While these bacteria only make up about 2-6 pounds of our body weight, it’s important to keep them healthy and happy, because they help dictate everything from our weight to our moods.

Probiotics, or healthy bacteria, receive lots of praise for helping with digestion. And the good news is you don’t have to run out and buy supplements to enjoy their benefits. Fermented foods contain high levels of good bacteria which studies show can also help reduce anxiety.

Here’s a rundown of foods and drinks that can help settle your gut and boost your immune system, among other benefits:

Yogurt
Yogurt is perhaps the most well-known probiotic-rich food, but be sure to check the label to ensure it contains live and active cultures and not too much sugar. Not only does yogurt help digestive health, but it’s also been known to prevent Type 2 diabetes (check out Integrative Nutrition’s tips for helping clients prevent and manage this disease.) Plus, yogurt isn’t just for breakfast—you can incorporate it into dinners with recipes like linguine with citrusy yogurt and tuna sauce.

Buyer’s Tip: Try plain greek yogurt for all the probiotics of traditional yogurt but more protein per serving!

Non-Dairy Yogurts and Milks
If you’re not a fan of dairy or you’re lactose intolerant, you don’t have to rely on traditional yogurt for probiotics. Just look for almond, cashew, coconut, or soy yogurt with live and active cultures. And bonus: some non-dairy milks have added cultures too! At Integrative Nutrition, we believe in choosing whatever diet works best for your individual needs, whether it’s dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan or whatever else fuels your body.

Buyer’s Tip: Some live and active cultures are derived from a milk base so if you’re vegan be sure to double check the label to make sure your yogurt is fully dairy-free.

Kefir
Have you ever heard of yogurt’s cousin, Kefir? Kefir is fermented milk made from “grains” that are actually a mix of bacteria and yeast. Kefir is thinner than yogurt, so it’s commonly consumed as a drink. If you don’t like the idea of drinking it by itself, mix it into a smoothie. Kefir has been known to aid digestion, heal burns, suppress early-stage tumors and boost the immune system.

Buyer’s Tip: Flavored Kefir is often packed with as much sugar as a candy bar so opt for the plain variety whenever possible.

Miso
Whether you’re eating miso soup or cooking with miso paste, this food is full of probiotics. According toLivestrong, miso is made through a fermentation process using a cultured starter called koji, which contains a fungal microorganism called Aspergillus oryzae, or other cultures including Saccharomyces rouxii. Keep in mind, however, that miso contains lots of sodium and you must choose an unpasteurized brand.

Buyer’s Tip: Allergic to soy? Try out a chickpea or red adzuki bean based miso instead!

Pickles
Pickled cucumbers (and other pickled foods, for that matter) that are made without vinegar may contain healthy probiotics. Look for pickles that are brine cured (meaning only salt, water, and spices), which keeps the bacteria alive. You can make your own fermented foods—but just make sure you do it correctly to avoid illness.

Buyer’s Tip: Be aware of the high sodium content of pickles and be sure to enjoy them in moderation.

Sauerkraut
Made from fermented cabbage, sauerkraut is rich in live cultures and also contains tons of vitamins and fiber. Like pickles, some sauerkraut may not contain probiotics if made from vinegar, so be sure to check to ensure you’re getting beneficial bacteria.

Buyer’s Tip: Get the scoop on sauerkraut from IIN Founder and Director, Joshua Rosenthal in the video below!

What are your favorite probiotic-rich foods and drinks? Let us know in the comments.

This article originally published on Institute of Integrative Nutrition and used with permission.

Miso Tahini Soup

misotahini2

 

We all know that fermented foods are our best friends, and that we should eat at least two servings of them everyday. Fermented foods provide our gut with beneficial bacteria that help us stay healthy, vibrant, and happy, as good gut health is the key to our overall mental and physical wellness.

Check out this fun miso soup recipe from fellow health coach, Katarina Saxton, for a meal that will make your taste buds (and gut) happy.

Miso Tahini Soup

Serves 4
Prep time 10 min – Cook time: 15 min

 

Ingredients:misotahinisoup

1 delicata or butternut squash, seeded and cut into cubes
1 medium white turnip, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cups water
4 tbsp white miso (or any miso you like and adjust the amount accordingly. Some misos are saltier than others).
1/4 cup tahini
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

 

Optional accompaniments:

3 cups of cooked brown rice
1 avocado (sliced or cubed)
1 bunch of chives, minced
Toasted nori (or kale), crumbled for serving
Toasted sesame seeds

 

Preparation:

1. Toss the squash and turnip in oil, salt and garlic and broil in the oven for 10 minutes. This step is totally optional. Recipe did not call for it, but I feel that the flavors intensify when roasted.
2. Once roasted add the squash and turnip to a large pot, cover with water and bring to a gentle boil.
3. Simmer for few minutes (or 10 if you didn’t roast them i the oven) so the stock gets flavored. Remove from the heat and let cool just slightly.
4. Pour a few tablespoons of the hot stock into a small bowl and whisk in the miso and tahini. This step is to avoid clumping. Stir the thinned miso back into the pot along with lemon zest and juice. Taste, adjust the broth to your liking by adding more miso (for saltiness) or tahini, or something else. I added some sea seasoning for saltiness and cayenne for a little kick, because I like spicy foods.
If you have leftovers and need to reheat the soup, you’ll want to do so gently, over low heat, to preserve the qualities of the miso.

About Kat Saxton:

IMG_7303
Kat Saxton is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and owner of KS Wellness, holistic health coaching company. She was born and raised in Finland and now live in the beautiful San Francisco Bay area. She is an advocate of whole food plant-based lifestyle focusing on digestion and detoxification. She loves yoga, Body Pump, long walks in the nature, pretty journals, farmers markets and cats. Check out her blog for recipe inspiration and wellness tips at www.lifeissweetinnyc.com
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How To Repair Your Gut During and After Taking Antibiotics

proantibiotics

These days antibiotics are prescribed for just about anything. You have a cough? Well take some antibiotics! Your ear hurts, Sally? Oh no problem, just take some antibiotics. Oh no, little Joe has a boo-boo on his finger? Let’s give him a Z-Pak just for good measure!

Oh the insanity!

While antibiotics are necessary for treating life threatening bacterial infections, their overuse has led to health problems and autoimmune disease. Yes antibiotics do their job by killing the bad bacteria, but unfortunately they kill all the beneficial bacteria as well. The exact same beneficial bacteria that we need to protect us from the overgrowth of yeasts like Candida albicans that can attach to our gut wall, resulting in “leaky gut”.

This is why we should use antibiotics with EXTREME reservations.

Antibiotics are sometimes necessary and when the situation arises, it’s important to protect yourself both DURING and AFTER the antibiotic treatment to prevent fungal or yeast overgrowth in your gut, as well as replenish your beneficial gut bacteria.

In the last case resort that you have to take antibiotics, here are some steps that can help minimize the damage to your gut, as well as help you restore your gut flora.

How to repair your gut….

DURING Antibiotic Treatment:

1. Take probiotics

While taking antibiotics make sure you take a high quality probiotic.  Take one capsule a day. Make sure to take them at least 2 hours after taking your antibiotic.

2. Take Saccharomyces boulardii 

Take one capsule a day to discourage yeast overgrowth.

3. Eat plenty of fermented foods.

Eat plenty of lacto-fermented dairy like yogurt and kefir (organic if possible, as non-organic is full of antibiotics and hormones – gross!), or if you are lactose intolerant or vegan opt for non-dairy yogurts. Eat fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. One of my favorite fermented foods is coconut water kefir. Get at least 2-3 servings daily.

4. Avoid sugary and processed foods.

Stay away from refined sugars, white breads, white pastas, sodas, cookies, etc.  This is all Candida food. Remember, if you don’t feed Candida, it will not grow.

AFTER Antibiotic Treatment:

1. Take probiotics.

Up your dose of probiotics to one capsule twice a day. Do this for 60 days and then go back to one capsule a day.

2. Take Saccharomyces boulardii

Up your dose to one capsule twice a day. Do this for up to 60 days after taking antibiotics.

3. Eat plenty of fermented foods

Continue to get 2-3 servings of fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, etc. Do this forever  🙂

4. Continue to avoid sugary and processed foods. 

Wishing you a quick recovery.

Love,

Health Coach Jenna

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