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Category: Paleo Diet

  • Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa

    Post From https://nomnompaleo.com/post/143060373438/fried-green-plantains-mango-avocado-salsa

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Sometimes, my favorite “new” recipes are just mash-ups of old standbys. It’s kind of like when you look in your closet and suddenly realize that you can pair a favorite cardigan with a treasured skirt for a chic #OOTD. (To be honest, I have no idea what this is like in real life ’cause I only wear sweats and threadbare 20-year-old T-shirts from Gap Outlet, but you catch my drift.)

    Along these lines, one of my fab new/old pairings is Fried Green Plantains with Mango + Avocado Salsa. I wish I could say I came up with this recipe revamp, but it was actually suggested to me when I was planning the menu for my Fresh Starts Chef Event dinner a couple years back and I loved the idea so much that I’m gonna take all the credit for it.

    Even though these recipes are already separately listed in my Recipe Index, I think it’s mean of me to make you click back and forth between two of my old posts, so I reshot ’em and smooshed both recipes together into one post. I’ve also added tips on how I like to slice mangos and juice limes like a boss. Time to level up your snacks, Nomsters!

    Serves 6 people

    For the fried green plantains (a.k.a tostones or patacones):

    • 4 cups coconut oil, lard, or tallow
    • 4 green plantains (around 2 pounds)
    • kosher salt

    For the Mango + Avocado Salsa:

    • 2 cups diced ripe mango (about 2 mangos)
    • 1 cup diced Hass avocado (1 medium avocado)
    • ½ cup finely diced red onion
    • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • big pinch of kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Juice from 1 lime

    Equipment:

    Method:

    Make the fried plantains first ’cause the salsa only takes a few minutes to throw together.

    Heat your fat of choice in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 325˚F. (Yes, I recommend checking the temperature with your trusty thermometer.)

    In the meantime, cut the ends off the plantains. (Tip: make sure you use super-green plantains. If you spot only ripe, splotchy, yellow-brown plantains on display at the market, be sure to ask your friendly produce guy or gal if they have some green ones in the back.)

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow line down the length of each plantain, making sure you don’t cut into the fruit. Then, slice each plantain into three even pieces (about 2 inches in length). Yes, you can definitely cut them into smaller pieces but I like BIG patacones (or tostones).

    When the oil reaches 325˚ F, carefully lower the plantains into the shimmering fat. The oil should immediately start bubbling around the plantains as soon as it comes in contact. Fry the plantain pieces for 3 to 5 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they turn golden yellow. Transfer the fried plantains to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain off any excess oil.

    Next, it’s time to smash.

    Place a fried plantain between two pieces of parchment paper. Smash it with a meat pounder, tortilla press, or a small cast iron skillet—or just about anything else that’s flat and heavy—until you end up with a thin (about ¼-inch thick) plantain patty. Repeat until you’ve taken out your aggression on all the fried plantain pieces.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Make sure the patties aren’t too thin; otherwise, they’ll fall apart when you fry them. But try to pound them thin enough so that they’ll get properly crunchy.
    Bring the temperature of the fat up to 350˚ F, and fry the plantain pancakes in the oil until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the oil: fry about two to three smashed plantains at a time.

    These crunchy treats are done when you flick ’em with your fingers and they sound hard and hollow. (Pro tip: take them out of the hot oil before you flick them.)

    Transfer the fried plantains to a metal cooling rack and repeat the steps above with the rest of the batch.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Sprinkle coarse salt on top and start making the salsa.

    Grab two ripe mangos and dice them up. I like to peel off the skin first with a vegetable peeler and then cut a slice on either side of the flat seed in the center. I also trim off some of the extra flesh on the side of the seed to snack on.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Place the diced mango in a bowl and add in the cubed avocado…

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    …½ cup finely diced red onion, ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro…

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    …2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, a big pinch of kosher salt…

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    …and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Get a lime and cut a slice parallel to the center. Continue cutting slices around the center core – the center pith and seeds will be trapped in a tidy column that you can squeeze and toss.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Squeeze the lime juice and marvel at how much easier it is to get every bit of juice out this way!

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    Toss the ingredients to combine, and taste and adjust for seasoning.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    This salsa tastes great on any protein (e.g. salmon, chicken, pork, etc.)…

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    …but it’s especially amazing spooned on a crispy fried green plantain.

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa by Michelle Tam https://nomnompaleo.com

    If you don’t want to share, it’s totally understandable.


    Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes on my iPhone and iPad app, and in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013) and Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017)!

    Recipe IndexNom Nom Paleo CookbooksNom Nom Paleo App

    PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

    Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa

    Prep 15 mins

    Cook 35 mins

    Total 50 mins

    Author Michelle Tam

    Yield 6 people

    Fried green plantains + mango avocado salsa are one of my favorite appetizers to serve my pals!

    Ingredients

    For the fried green plantains (a.k.a tostones or patacones):

    • 4 cups coconut oil, lard, or tallow
    • 4 green plantains (around 2 pounds)
    • kosher salt

    For the Mango + Avocado Salsa:

    • 2 cups diced ripe mango (about 2 mangos)
    • 1 cup diced Hass avocado (1 medium avocado)
    • ½ cup finely diced red onion
    • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro
    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • freshly ground black pepper
    • big pinch of kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Juice from 1 lime

    Instructions

    1. Make the fried plantains first ’cause the salsa only takes a few minutes to throw together.
    2. Heat your fat of choice in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until it reaches 325˚F. (Yes, I recommend checking the temperature with your trusty thermometer.)
    3. In the meantime, cut the ends off the plantains. (Tip: make sure you use super-green plantains. If you spot only ripe, splotchy, yellow-brown plantains on display at the market, be sure to ask your friendly produce guy or gal if they have some green ones in the back.)
    4. Use a sharp knife to cut a shallow line down the length of each plantain, making sure you don’t cut into the fruit. Then, slice each plantain into three even pieces (about 2 inches in length). Yes, you can definitely cut them into smaller pieces but I like BIG patacones (or tostones).
    5. When the oil reaches 325˚ F, carefully lower the plantains into the shimmering fat. The oil should immediately start bubbling around the plantains as soon as it comes in contact. Fry the plantain pieces for 3 to 5 minutes, turning them occasionally, until they turn golden yellow. Transfer the fried plantains to a paper-towel-lined baking sheet to drain off any excess oil.
    6. Place a fried plantain between two pieces of parchment paper. Smash it with a meat pounder, tortilla press, or a small cast iron skillet—or just about anything else that’s flat and heavy—until you end up with a thin (about ¼-inch thick) plantain patty. Repeat until you’ve taken out your aggression on all the fried plantain pieces.
    7. Make sure the patties aren’t too thin; otherwise, they’ll fall apart when you fry them. But try to pound them thin enough so that they’ll get properly crunchy.
    8. Bring the temperature of the fat up to 350˚ F, and fry the plantain pancakes in the oil until crispy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Don’t overcrowd the oil: fry about two to three smashed plantains at a time.
    9. These crunchy treats are done when you flick ’em with your fingers and they sound hard and hollow. (Pro tip: take them out of the hot oil before you flick them.)
    10. Transfer the fried plantains to a metal cooling rack and repeat the steps above with the rest of the batch.
    11. Sprinkle coarse salt on top of the fried green plantains and start making the salsa.
    12. Grab two ripe mangos and dice them up. I like to peel off the skin first with a vegetable peeler and then cut a slice on either side of the flat seed in the center. I also trim off some of the extra flesh on the side of the seed to snack on.
    13. Place the diced mango in a bowl and add in the cubed avocado, ½ cup finely diced red onion, ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, a big pinch of kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, and juice from one lime. Toss the ingredients to combine, and taste and adjust for seasoning.
    14. Serve immediately!

    Courses Appetizer

    Cuisine Whole30, Paleo, Gluten-free,

    The post Fried Green Plantains + Mango Avocado Salsa appeared first on Nom Nom Paleo®.

  • Primal Peanut Butter Cups

    Post From https://www.marksdailyapple.com/paleo-peanut-butter-cups/

    With Halloween just around the corner, we couldn’t let the occasion go by without sharing a Primal treat for good fun. While we’re not promoting the usual sugar spree, a little something can feel festive especially if you’re playing host.

    These nut butter cups deliver on richness (and sweetness) and offer a more natural alternative to the packaged, preservative-filled candies most will get in their pumpkins that night. Gather the little ghosts and ghouls to help you in the kitchen. This recipe is easy, fast, and family-friendly.

    Note: You can substitute almond butter for the peanut butter used in this recipe, and it will turn out great—just as delicious!

    Servings: 24 cups

    Time In the Kitchen: 20 minutes

    Ingredients:

    • ½ cup smooth organic peanut butter or almond butter
    • 3 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
    • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
    • 2 tablespoons raw honey
    • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 15 ounces dark (60%) chocolate chips or bar (chopped finely)

    Instructions:

    Add the nut butter, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, coconut flour, honey, and vanilla extract to a food processor or blender and mix until combined, stopping to scrape the sides and blending again. Set mix aside. Melt the chocolate with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil over a double boiler on low heat.

    Line a 24-cup mini muffin tin with paper cups, or use a silicone mini muffin container. Spoon a teaspoon full of melted chocolate into the bottom of each cup. Spoon a tablespoon of nut butter on top of each cup.

    Cover nut butter evenly with the remaining melted chocolate. Chill until firm, about 2 hours. Store in a covered, cool and dry place.

    Nutritional Information (per serving):

    • Calories: 283
    • Carbohydrate: 10 grams
    • Protein: 2 grams
    • Fat: 10 grams

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    The post Primal Peanut Butter Cups appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

  • Real Food Ground Beef Spaghetti Sauce

  • The Paleo Transtion- Online Coaching Program

  • The Top 5 Myths about Meditation

    Post From https://chriskresser.com/the-top-5-myths-about-meditation/

    Contrary to some common myths about meditation, you don’t have to sit cross-legged—like this young man is doing—to meditate.

    In fact, I myself have enjoyed a consistent meditation practice for more than 20 years now, and I find it extremely helpful for cultivating awareness and mindfulness, reducing reactivity, and sharpening my focus and productivity. But, as with so many beneficial practices that become widely popular, it is also a victim of its own success. There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation—and some of these fallacies are roadblocks that may be stopping you from starting your own practice (or sticking with it) and reaping its many rewards.

    Read on for the top five myths about meditation to stop believing today and for facts that I hope will encourage you to try it for the first time, or revisit the practice again.

    Why Are There so Many Myths about Meditation? And What Exactly Is Meditation?

    In many ways, a meditation practice is the antithesis of modern life. Meditation trains us to keep our awareness and attention in the present moment, yet today we’re taught to focus on the road ahead—to continuously strive to do and know more. As I’ve noted before, many people now wear busyness as a badge of honor and believe an overloaded, hyperconnected, always “on” life is the measure of success—some kind of 21st century status symbol. “Oh, I’m so busy!”

    But I argue that busyness is a cultural disease, one that wrecks both body and mind, and meditation is the antidote. That’s why I want to help you better understand meditation and dispel its most ubiquitous myths.

    There isn’t one precise definition of meditation—another probable reason for misunderstandings—in part because a multitude of different methods and traditions fall under the umbrella term.

    Think you have to be “good” at meditation to get something out of it? Think again. Follow along as I debunk this and other common myths about meditation and share the facts about this beneficial practice.

    Despite the various approaches, there are some underlying generalities: Meditation is a mind–body awareness practice. Through it, you learn to experience your feelings and sensations without judgment and stay present in your life, even in the face of great difficulty or pain.

    Although there are many types of meditation, most have these four elements in common: (1)

    1. A quiet location with few distractions (you don’t need to find a remote mountain top)
    2. A comfortable posture (it doesn’t have to be the classic lotus position)
    3. A focus of attention (but you don’t need to chant “OM”)
    4. A flexible, open attitude (you can do this, and it doesn’t have to be perfect)

    Transcendental meditation (TM) and mindfulness meditation are the two types studied most often. In TM, you focus your attention on a mantra—a sound or words you repeat to yourself—whereas with mindfulness meditation, you usually focus on your breath or other physical sensations.

    Help for Everything from Pain to Your Brain

    For good reasons, the much-touted benefits of meditation have drawn the attention of the medical and scientific communities. In fact, the famous “relaxation response” technique—the ability to lower stress in the body through a form of meditation—was developed and popularized by Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, in the 1970s. Skeptics dismissed his claims that the relaxation response was a path to better overall health, but research continues to bear out his theories. (2)

    In recent years, the number of randomized controlled trials (the gold standard for nutritional research) involving meditation, and mindfulness meditation in particular, has skyrocketed. From 1995 to 1997, only one such trial was conducted; between 2004 and 2006, that number jumped to eleven. But from 2013 to 2015, more than 215 trials focused on mindfulness. (3) Because of this ever-growing interest from researchers, we now have a better understanding of meditation’s wide-reaching impacts on health and well-being.

    The most well-designed and executed studies have shown that meditation can: (4, 5, 6, 7)

    • Significantly reduce stress levels and symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • Help control chronic pain
    • Improve markers of heart health such as hypertension and cholesterol
    • Boost cognitive function, as well as positively change the brain’s gray matter and regions linked with emotions, sense of self, and memory

    Let’s explore many of these benefits further as I debunk some of the most common myths about meditation.

    Myth #1: Meditation Is about Quieting Your Mind

    This is perhaps the most pervasive myth about meditation. If you’ve heard and believed it, I bet it’s the main reason why you haven’t yet started a practice or have given up in frustration.

    Here’s the thing: Completely quieting your mental chatter is impossible.

    Some research has concluded that we have approximately 60,000 thoughts a day, or roughly one thought every second. (8) Whether that number is actually higher or lower doesn’t really matter. It illustrates just how difficult it would be to empty your mind during meditation. What’s more, going into a session believing you should be able to hit the mute button on your mind only creates more internal noise.

    Meditation is about simply becoming aware of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment on a moment-to-moment basis—paying attention to what is, rather than focusing on the future or dwelling on the past. It’s about learning to witness your thoughts—not get rid of them altogether—and eventually step away from reflexively judging yourself and others.

    Myth #2: You Have to Be “Good at It” to Benefit

    We can feel a lot of pressure to get things done “right,” at work and at home. But during meditation, we can release that pressure.

    There is no right or wrong way to meditate. In fact, research has proven that brand-new meditators benefit just as much as lifelong practitioners do. It can work regardless of your proficiency level.

    For example, in one study designed to measure meditation’s impact on pain, 15 non-meditators attended just four 20-minute classes on mindfulness meditation—for a total of a little over an hour of formal training. Employing what they had only recently learned while subjected to a pain-inducing heat device, these novice meditators experienced significantly reduced activity in the brain’s primary somatosensory cortex, which is involved in creating the feeling and intensity of pain. In fact, while participants meditated, researchers couldn’t detect any activity in this pain-processing center at all. (9, 10)

    Another study found that people experiencing high levels of stress had a marked decrease in stress-related communication within their brains two weeks after completing a three-day meditation course. (11) Other research has shown that just four days of meditation training enhanced novice meditators’ ability to sustain attention, a benefit previously only reported with long-term meditators. (12)

    If meditation can have such positive benefits on those who are new to it, imagine what it can do for you if you embrace a consistent practice.

    Myth #3: You Have to Meditate for an Hour Every Day to Experience Any Perks

    As we’ve established, modern life makes for busy schedules. So here’s the good news: as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day can be helpful. Not to mention that a regular practice can actually free up your time by helping you become more productive.

    Ten minutes isn’t an arbitrary number. One 2012 study found that just 10 minutes of meditation daily improved participants’ focus and attention over the course of a few months. (13) Research into Kirtan Kriya (KK), a type of yogic chanting meditation designed to take only 12 minutes a day, has found that it can mitigate stress and improve cognitive function, even in seniors already exhibiting memory loss or impairment from mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. (14, 15)

    As with diet and exercise, though, you’ll experience the greatest gains from consistent effort—whether that effort is for just minutes or an hour a session.

    To make it a daily habit (like brushing your teeth), you might try incorporating it into your routine at the same time each day. Can you find 10 minutes for yourself? Try it!

    Myth #4: You Have to Sit in a Cross-Legged Position

    Typically, images of meditators show them sitting cross-legged, with their hands in a specific placement known as a mudra. While mindfulness meditation is often performed seated, the only true requirement is that you sit comfortably. If a cross-legged position isn’t comfortable for you (for some people this stresses their hip flexors or knee joints), try sitting naturally on a cushion or in a chair—and switch positions as needed. You may be most comfortable with your back supported.

    Other types of meditation are not practiced while seated. For instance, walking meditation uses movement to help you foster awareness. (16) Qi gong and tai chi are also types of meditative movements.

    There are even meditative practices you perform lying down. One, called body scanning, involves lying on a floor, a mat, or your bed. You begin by focusing your attention either at the top of your head or the bottoms of your feet; you then shift your focus up or down your frame, bringing awareness to your entire body. (17)

    You may be more likely to fall asleep if you meditate lying down, which is why this position isn’t typically advised, especially for beginners. However, the body scan and related practices can be useful sleep aids.

    Bottom line: Get comfortable, in a position that works for you.

    Myth #5: It’s Only for Hippie, Spiritual Types (Who Do Yoga)—or People Who Are Really Stressed Out, or the Wealthy Elite, or …

    Meditation is for anyone and everyone. Although it has roots in Buddhism and Hinduism, meditation itself is not a religious or spiritual discipline. And as we’ve discussed, it has far-reaching health effects that go beyond stress management. We’ve also seen that you don’t need the luxury of time to make the practice a valuable part of your life.

    Meditation is also beneficial for adults and kids alike. While studies involving children and teens are limited, researchers have begun to evaluate the role meditation may play on the developing brain. In particular, several studies have shown that meditation can benefit kids with ADHD, leading to better concentration and improved behavior. As it can for adults, research also points to meditation’s ability to reduce stress levels in young people and improve their mental health. (18, 19)

    Don’t shy away from meditation because you think it’s just for certain “types.” For thousands of years—and perhaps especially now—this ancient practice has benefited every type.

    An Exciting Truth: We Don’t Yet Know All There Is to Know about Meditation’s Benefits

    While the information shared here makes for a compelling reason to start or continue meditating, research has only begun to scratch the surface of the many ways in which it can improve health and the specific benefits of each meditative approach. I look forward to reading new research as it is published and sharing it with you here.

    If you’re ready to begin or further develop your practice, there are a variety of free resources online. Lifehacker has some helpful information, and the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center has a free meditation podcast with guided weekly meditations. I also like the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program, and some people have found apps like Headspace and Insight Timer to be useful. Learning meditation is often easiest if you take classes with a qualified instructor (there are even online classes), and drop-in meditation studios are popping up everywhere.

    Now, it’s your turn to chime in. Did you believe any of these myths about meditation? Have you tried to establish a practice before, or are you planning to start? What are your favorite tips and resources on meditation? Comment below and share your thoughts!

    The post The Top 5 Myths about Meditation appeared first on Chris Kresser.

  • TPV Podcast, Episode 322: A Healthier Visit With Aunt Flo

    Post From https://www.thepaleomom.com/podcast-menstruation/

    In this episode, Stacy and Sarah are getting up close and personal as they answer all your questions about menstruation! Why are conventional pads and tampons dangerous? What are the signs of Toxic Shock Syndrome? What safer period products and brands should I be using? And how the heck do I use a menstrual cup?!

    Click here to listen in iTunes

    or download and listen by clicking the PodBean Player below

    If you enjoy the show, please review it in iTunes!

    The Paleo View (TPV), Episode 322: A Healthier Visit With Aunt Flo

      • (0:00) Intro
      • (0:40) Getting right to today’s topic: menstruation!
        • Disclaimer: If you typically listen to our podcast with your kids in the room, please note that this episode discusses female reproductive anatomy and feminine hygiene products.
        • Today we’re answering your questions about menstruation, including what products you should and shouldn’t be using, the chemicals and questionable substances used in conventional products, and how it impacts female health.
        • This topic came about back in September when Stacy’s period caught her by surprise on a trip. She was traveling without a menstrual cup (which she’s used for 7+ years) and had to make the decision between pads and tampons.
          • When Stacy switched to a cup, it reduced the length of her period, as well as the amount and intensity of cramping.
          • Sharing her experience on social media sparked a lot of questions about the cup and safer menstruation practices, so we’re here to dive into the science behind your questions!
        • Sarah rarely uses tampons because intuitively, they always felt unsafe to her. As she dove into the research, it backed up her suspicions. But the good news is that there are so many safer options!
        • Stacy and Sarah take a walk down memory lane, remembering the pads that were available on the market when they first started menstruating.
        • Listeners – if you have a menstruation product and you love it, go to Stacy’s Instagram and/or Sarah’s Instagram posts for this podcast episode and leave a comment about what you’re using and why you love it!
      • (14:29) So what is the problem with conventional pads and tampons?
        • It boils down to the fact that these materials aren’t regulated. The companies are trying to solve the problem of “does this absorb liquid” without considering other important health factors.
        • The vagina and vulva are mucus membranes that are highly absorbent, so there’s the potential for those areas to absorb the chemicals and other known problematic materials used in conventional products. This can lead to chronic health problems like cancer.
        • Research was almost non-existent for vaginal health until the 1990s. The earliest research was on sexually transmitted infections and how personal lubricants could affect the rate of infection transmission.
        • These studies discovered chemicals like glycerine – which is still used in personal lubricants today – damages and irritates the vaginal barrier tissue.
        • Funding for women’s health studies is stunningly low. Thir party organizations like non-profit advocacy groups have taken on the responsibility of doing this type of testing because it’s incredibly important.
      • (20:55) Female sex organs are highly absorptive
        • Female sex organs are “self-cleaning” because they need to be able to get rid of the foreign material introduced during intercourse. It’s lined with mucus which provides a barrier and prevents bacteria from latching on and washes away harmful microorganisms.
        • Like our gut, skin, and sinuses, vaginal tissues (including the external parts) are also semi-permeable. But they’re much more absorptive than skin.
        • Studies show hormones get into the bloodstream very easily through the vaginal barrier. One hormone, when taken both vaginally and orally, was 10x stronger when delivered vaginally. This means you need to be mindful of everything that comes into contact with that area!
        • For more on the regulation (or lack thereof) of personal care products check out Episode 275: Cancer Risk from Personal Care Items.
        • Beyond tampons and pads, also beware of vaginal wipes, personal lubricants, douches, vaginal perfumes – anything you’re putting in contact with your lower regions.
        • Even though the vagina is more absorptive than the intestines, there has never been a peer-reviewed study that measures the absorption of pesticides, dioxins, etc, from tampons or pads into the vagina. Crazy!
        • Always avoid personal care items with fragrances! Fragrances are a “catch all” category for companies to put any ingredient they want without disclosing it. There are harmful fragrances that are added to tampons and pads which are known endocrine disrupters.
      • (29:32) Chemicals in conventional tampons and pads
        • Dioxins. Women absorb more dioxins through tampons than food in polluted areas.
        • Furans. A chemical used to bleach tampons so they’re white.
        • Parabens. Endocrine disrupter and carcinogen.
        • Pesticide residue. Third party testing has found at least 8 different detectable pesticide residues in one common brand of tampons.
        • If you’re spending money for grass-fed and organic foods, and clean self-care products, this is something you need to be concerned about!
      • (32:14) Toxic Shock Syndrome
        • In the 70s and 80s there was a dramatic rise in toxic shock syndrome (TSS) when tampons became more widely used. At that time, 4 different types of synthetics were being used. After studies, 3 of those materials were removed from the market.
        • TSS is caused by a toxin secreted by Staph. Aureus, a very common and problematic bacteria. During menses, the vagina creates a great breeding ground for Staph. Aureus and when you use a tampon, you’re creating an even better environment for this bacteria to grow.
        • TSS can be fatal. It doesn’t occur frequently, but when it does, it requires medical care.
          • Major symptoms of TSS include:
            • Sudden high fever
            • Dizziness when going from sitting to standing (caused by sudden low blood pressure)
          • Lesser symptoms:
            • Nausea
            • Vomiting
            • Rash resembling a sunburn, particularly on the palms of hands and soles of feet
            • Muscle aches
            • Confusion
            • Headaches
          • If you experience these symptoms, cease using a vaginal product and seek medical attention immediately. Treatment includes a high dose of antibiotics.
        • Recent studies show that 100% cotton tampons potentially create a higher risk of TSS (versus synthetic/cotton blends tampons), though earlier studies showed they have a lower risk. So it’s not cut and dry.
        • When it comes to menstrual cups, medical grade silicone cups have a lower rate of Staph. Aureus growth. Most cups on the market these days are medical grade silicone, but it’s important to check.
          • Make sure you follow the recommended cleaning instructions when using a cup!
        • TSS is not limited to using vaginal products. It can result from other means.
        • About 80% of us make antibodies against Staph Aureus, so our bodies knock it out before becoming TSS.
      • (47:12) Recommended menstrual products and brands
        • Every woman is different so it’s important to experiment and find the right fit for your cervix, comfort, and lifestyle!
        • Organic cotton disposable pads
          • Natracare
          • The Honest Co
          • Organyc
          • Seventh Generation
        • Reusable pads
          • Oko Creations
          • Glad Rags
          • Luna Pads
          • Saathi Pads
          • Pink Daisy
        • Organic cotton tampons
          • Cora
          • Seventh Generation
          • Natracare
          • Maxim
          • Puristics
          • Organyc
        • Reusable Natural Sponge Tampons
          • Jade & Pearl
          • Poseidon
          • Constantia Beauty
          • Natural Intimacy
          • The Sea Sponge Company
        • Menstrual Cups
          • Diva Cup
          • Lunette
          • Yukki
          • Anigan Evacup
          • Fleurcup
          • Super Jennie
          • Lena cup
        • Period Panties
          • Modibodi
          • PantyProp
          • Lunapantie
          • THINX
          • Harebrained
          • Anigan StainFree Panties
          • Vv SkiVvys
          • Dear Kate
      • (53:22) Listener Questions
        • “How do I choose the best cup for me?”
          • Stacy swears by this quiz: https://putacupinit.com/quiz/
          • Finding the right size cup for you is very important because if you’re using a cup that doesn’t fit you well, there’s a risk of a prolapsed bladder, cervix, and/or uterus.
          • If your cup feels weird in any way, it’s the wrong size! If you find a cup doesn’t work for you, your next best options are a natural sponge or an external product like reusable pads or period panties.
        • “How long does a cup last?”
          • For Stacy, one cup lasted 6 years. The stem broke. So it’s a much more environmentally-friendly option!
        • “I’m so intrigued but I can’t comprehend how you get it in and out, and it doesn’t spill?”
          • Stacy says she’s never had a problem with the cup spilling (except for that one time her cup fell in the toilet!)
          • The cup is also the only product she’s used that has an airtight seal so when you’re swimming, it keeps everything where it should be.
          • When inserting, you fold the edges of the cup and insert it with a twisting motion. It should naturally unfold as you’re inserting.
          • In terms of leakage, chances are incredibly slim that a cup of menstruation will spill all over you. However, if the cup overflows, a little leakage can occur.
          • For removal, while sitting on a toilet, grab pinch the stem and squeeze the base of the cup to release the airtight seal. Then gently remove the cup. It should come out easily. Definitely practice this at home before attempting this in a public restroom.
          • When in doubt, check out YouTube for “how to” videos.
          • You don’t have to remove the cup every time you use the bathroom.
          • It’s also more sterile! No external strings or material to absorb other body fluids.
        • “Does it actually shorten your period?” and “Is there less blood?”
          • Yes, it can shorten your period, and it can feel like there’s less blood, but the uterine lining is still shedding the same amount.
          • How heavy your period or how long it lasts really depends on hormones, stress, thyroid, etc. Tampons are a physical stressor so it could be changing the quality of your period. Fragrances, chemicals, and materials like plastics can also mess with period quality.
        • “Is there a downside for the cup holding liquid inside that long?”
          • The downside is just creating an environment for Staph. Aureus to grow, which can turn into TSS. But this is a slim chance.
          • Companies do make wipes for cleaning your cup during the day, but Stacy believes that it’s safer to just avoid removing your cup in public restrooms and therefore avoid exposing it to other potentially harmful bacteria.
          • Stacy and Sarah recommend having two cups so you can sterilize one while using the other. Stacy sterilizes hers by running it through the dishwasher.
        • “Cup versus soft disk?”
          • Stacy doesn’t have experience with this. And it didn’t come up in Sarah’s research for the show. Stacy is weary of them because they contain plastic.
          • Do you use one? Go to Stacy’s Instagram and/or Sarah’s Instagram posts for this podcast episode and leave a comment about what you’re using and why you love it.
        • “Can menstrual cups be used safely with IUDs?”
          • If your cup fits properly, it’s not touching your cervix so it shouldn’t be an issue (but check with your medical professional).
        • “I have a 4th degree tear from a baby. Will a cup be comfortable?”
          • You won’t know until you try, but make sure you get a cup that fits.
          • Stacy recommends a natural sponge or a period panty if the cup doesn’t feel good.
        • “I’m having a baby next month. What about post-partum?”
          • Doctors recommend not inserting anything into your vagina for a period of time after giving birth due to risk of infection, so follow their advice!
          • It’s okay to use the pads they give you at the hospital after giving birth – do what you need to do! – but then find a safer pad option using the list above.
      • Get your questions in! We want to hear from you! And there’s no end to questions we can answer and topics we can address!
      • Engage on social media! That’s how we get feedback!
      • Thank you for listening

    Relevant posts

    Aunt Flow’s Gone Au Naturale: Product Reviews

    A Question for Women’s Health: Chemicals in Feminine Hygiene Products and Personal Lubricants

    Chem Fatale Report: Potential Health Effects of Toxic Chemicals in Feminine Care Products

    Role of female intimate hygiene in vulvovaginal health: Global hygiene practices and product usage

    Menstrual Cup Linked to Toxic Shock Syndrome, New Study Finds

    the paleo view episode 322 toxic chemicals are often put in store brand menstrual products

    The post TPV Podcast, Episode 322: A Healthier Visit With Aunt Flo appeared first on The Paleo Mom.

  • What Is Xanthan Gum—And Is It Bad for You?

    Post From https://chriskresser.com/what-is-xanthan-gum-and-is-it-bad-for-you/

    Xanthan gum can add elasticity to gluten-free baked goods, like this dough being kneaded.

    Like guar gum, xanthan gum is a food additive that’s often used to thicken or stabilize a final product. It’s particularly common in gluten-free baked goods, since it provides extra elasticity to dough that would otherwise be missing.

    But what is it? Is it safe to eat regularly? Keep reading to get the facts, along with my take on this food additive.

    What Is Xanthan Gum?

    Xanthan gum is the product of a bacterial fermentation process. It’s produced when the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris is placed in a growth medium that includes sugars and other nutrients. (1) The resulting compound is then purified, dried out, powdered, and sold as a food thickener.

    If you’re on a gluten-free diet, you could be eating xanthan gum. But is it safe? The answer may depend on your allergies. Check out this article for more information about this common food additive.

    In addition to its common use in gluten-free baked goods, it shows up in the ingredients list for salad dressings, some supplements and medicines, ice cream, yogurt, pudding, and some sauces.

    If You Have Allergies, It Could Be Harmful

    The growth medium used to make this thickener can have an impact on how a person reacts to the final product. Occasionally, allergenic substances are used to nourish Xanthomonas campestris. These can include:

    • Soy
    • Dairy
    • Wheat
    • Corn

    Unfortunately, some manufacturers of xanthan gum (and food products that contain it) aren’t always willing to disclose the growth medium they use—perhaps for proprietary reasons, or because they aren’t entirely sure themselves—leaving food shoppers in the dark. (2) However, if it was produced using one of the substances listed above, this product can carry allergens straight to the consumer.

    If you suffer from serious soy, wheat, dairy, or corn allergies, I recommend you avoid items containing xanthan gum entirely.

    If you are purchasing your own supply to use in gluten-free baking, contact the manufacturer directly for more information on these potential allergens.

    Is It Bad for Your Health?

    Overall, there is little evidence that xanthan gum could be harmful to you. Aside from its potential to trigger allergic reactions in some people, studies have generally suggested that it’s safe to eat.

    Here’s What the Research Has Revealed

    Studies conducted on animals haven’t yielded many concerning results. In one study, rats ate varying concentrations of this food additive for two years. Their overall health remained largely unchanged from the control population except for one difference: They experienced soft stools more often. (3) Both populations showed the same survival rate, growth rate, organ weights, incidence of tumors, and blood markers.

    Researchers also exposed dogs to this substance. Again, they weren’t able to find any significant differences, other than occasionally soft stools. Data from an experiment conducted on three generations of rats echoed these findings. Even after eating between 0.25 and 0.50 g/kg each day, there were no notable effects.

    Some studies have focused on this additive’s digestive impact. In one such experiment, researchers discovered that rats eating a diet consisting of 4 percent xanthan gum had 400 percent more water present in their intestines. (4) In another study, rats ate an incredibly high dose of the substance—50 g/kg—for four weeks. The water content of their stool and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) content rose substantially. (In adult humans, as I’ll note later, higher levels of SCFAs may contribute to good gut health.) (5)

    In one surprising study, researchers noted some anti-tumor properties of this food thickener. When it was orally administered, it actually slowed cancer growth and prolonged the life of mice with melanoma. (6) It’s not immediately clear why this occurred, but it’s an intriguing piece of information.

    What the Data from Human Studies Show

    There aren’t many human-based studies on xanthan gum; perhaps they are sparse because the animal studies don’t reveal any cause for concern or urgency for further investigation. However, one study did look at the potential side effects of eating large quantities of this substance in an everyday setting. (7) Five adults—all men without digestive issues—ate between 10.4 and 12.9 g of the additive for 23 days. That’s 15 times the recommended daily amount. Still, researchers only found evidence of:

    • Increased fecal bile acid
    • Increased stool output and water content
    • Decreased serum cholesterol

    In another study, volunteers ate 15 g of the substance each day for a total of 10 days. (8) It appeared to act as a potent laxative, as the test subjects experienced gas and a higher stool output.

    The researchers in this experiment also examined how their test subjects were able to metabolize this substance. Prior to the test, the fecal bacteria in 12 of the 18 volunteers were able to break down the additive. Afterward, that number jumped to 16. The data also shows that the fecal bacteria that was able to metabolize this food thickener displayed an increased production of SCFAs and hydrogen gas. That means the volunteers’ gut flora was able to quickly adapt in response to this new substance being introduced to the body.

    This could mean that, like many indigestible carbs, large quantities of xanthan gum can have a considerable impact on the gut microbiota.

    You Should Know: There Is a Possible Health Risk to Infants

    There is one population that may be particularly sensitive to this food additive: infants. Several years ago, a number of infants developed fatal cases of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) after drinking formula or breast milk that included a thickening agent made with xanthan gum. (9) This product was commonly used in hospital settings to help thicken up breast milk or formula for infants with swallowing problems or acid reflux. A thicker fluid can help infants with swallowing problems by giving them more time to close their airways and reducing the risk of aspirating the milk or formula.

    We don’t yet have enough data to firmly prove a connection between this xanthan gum and NEC. However, several papers suggest that it may have contributed to a life-threatening medical condition by increasing the amount of SCFAs in the infants’ still immature intestinal tracts. (10, 11) In healthy adults, SCFAs are an essential component to a healthy colon. However, newborns appear to be extremely sensitive to them. (12, 13) That’s why milk thickeners and any products containing xanthan gum aren’t recommended for babies younger than one year.

    It’s important to reiterate that these serious health effects have never been witnessed in adults or in any animal studies. In fact, SCFAs are quite beneficial for the health of your gut and your metabolism.

    Xanthan Gum vs. Guar Gum: What’s the Difference?

    Guar gum is another additive that’s used to thicken and stabilize food. While there are some important differences between these two, if you’re allergic to any of the substances commonly used to create xanthan gum (like soy, dairy, wheat, or corn), guar gum may be a viable alternative.

    Guar gum is made from the guar bean, native to India and Pakistan. It’s a soluble fiber, and some animal studies have shown that it actually has the potential to reduce body weight and lower blood glucose. (14)

    If you have a digestive condition, however, you may want to avoid guar gum. Since it’s derived from a bean, it can cause distressing symptoms if you have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), or other gut health problems.

    Should You Avoid Xanthan Gum?

    Overall, xanthan gum doesn’t appear to have a high potential to harm adults.

    While those with serious allergies or significant digestive issues should steer clear of it, it’s probably fine for most people to eat occasionally. Remember, however, that there is data showing that large quantities of this substance can alter the gut microbiome. While we don’t have evidence showing that these changes have a negative effect on overall health, a disrupted gut microbiome is a common cause of many modern diseases.

    If you’re concerned about food additives, I recommend following a whole-food diet. Choosing nutrient-rich, real foods instead of pre-packaged goods is an essential step to avoiding chronic disease. The best way to nourish your body is to eat complete, nutritious foods that don’t require preservatives, additives, or other extra substances.

    If your food comes in a box, bag, or bottle, there’s a good chance that it contains ingredients that don’t provide any benefits to your body. In some cases, they may even harm your health.

    What are your thoughts on xanthan gum? Do you avoid it, or is it an essential part of your gluten-free diet? Let me know below in the comment section.

    The post What Is Xanthan Gum—And Is It Bad for You? appeared first on Chris Kresser.

  • Why It’s So Hard to Diagnose Lyme Disease + 4 Natural Ways to Ease Symptoms

    Post From http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/PaleoPlan/~3/DN_SjdZsza4/

    lyme-disease.png

    Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in the United States. A bacterial infection, it’s primarily transmitted by deer ticks (Ixodes ticks) as well as black-legged ticks.

    It’s caused by a corkscrew-shaped bacteria, called Borrelia burgdorferi. These tiny critters are found in grassy and heavily wooded areas.

    While commonly found on the East Coast,  Lyme disease is found in more than 60 countries, as well as on the West Coast. (1) People who live in the coastal northeast, northwest California, and the Great Lakes region are at highest risk.

    The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates roughly 300,000 people are diagnosed with Lyme disease in the U.S. each year. However, diagnosing Lyme is difficult. Many people with Lyme are often misdiagnosed with other conditions, like chronic fatigue syndrome, MS and fibromyalgia. Lyme disease is often referred to as “the great imitator” because its symptoms can mimic so many other diseases.

    It’s most common in children, older adults and those spending a great deal of time outdoors. (2) Most people get Lyme from a tick that is about the size of a poppy seed, and since their bite (and the actual tick itself) is so tiny and painless, many people don’t even realize they have been bitten.

    Symptoms of Lyme Disease

    rsz_flu.jpg

    When a person is bitten by a Lyme-carrying tick, the tick feeds for roughly 36 hours and transmits the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi.

    Each stage of transmission features specific symptoms, such as fevers and flu-like symptoms, fatigue, headache, myalgia, sore muscles, skin rashes and migraines. In the following days and weeks, people with Lyme might experience neurologic, musculoskeletal, or cardiovascular symptoms. They may also experience intermittent swelling and joint pain, especially in the knees.

    Lyme disease is typically diagnosed on a variety of factors, including skin rash, physical symptoms and sometimes laboratory testing. (3, 4) Being misdiagnosed with other diseases can delay the proper diagnosis, treatment and recovery plan. You can use this handy Lyme disease checklist if you feel you might have become infected.


    Diet, Lifestyle and Lyme Disease

    Healing from Lyme disease can be a long road, especially if you have been misdiagnosed. A preventative approach towards recovery can be effective. Nutrition and lifestyle are key to strengthening your health, which includes supporting your immune system and supporting your body’s detox pathways.

    Lyme disease can spread to and affect any part of the body, so a full-body treatment plan is best. Inflammation is responsible for a whole gamut of health-related symptoms, so it’s no surprise that an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle is the best approach to dealing with Lyme.

    Keeping your immune system strong, eating the right foods and taking a holistic approach towards Lyme can help mitigate some your symptoms, as well as speed up your healing journey.

    If Lyme disease is not diagnosed and treated early, it can develop into a chronic condition, leaving you and your health feeling less than optimal.

    Also, consider Post Lyme Disease Syndrome (PLDS). This syndrome is how doctors refer to Lyme once it becomes chronic and continues to cause ongoing symptoms. (5) Keeping your immune system strong, eating the right foods and taking a holistic approach towards Lyme can help mitigate some your symptoms, as well as speed up your healing journey.


    4 Natural Ways to Ease Lyme Disease Symptoms

    1. Avoid Sugar

    Refined-sugar.jpg

    While bacteria loves to dine on sugar, Lyme-causing bacteria in particular love sugar. Various sugars suppress your immune system—which is essential to keep in tip-top shape when dealing with Lyme. This causes more inflammation throughout your body.

    Sugar can impact your white blood cells by competing for space with vitamin C, a potent immune-supporting antioxidant, as well reduce the production of lymphocytes. (6)

    Remove processed sugars from your diet immediately, and don’t forget to remove hidden sugars as well. These might be lurking in your gluten-free goodies, sauces and salad dressings and even some of your Paleo-friendly foods. Think protein bars or anything with a label and ingredient list.

    Eating sugar can cause yeast overgrowth, particularly in the GI system. This can be problematic to overall immunity, as up to 90 percent of the antibodies used to fight infections are produced in the gut.

    While you are removing pro-inflammatory foods, be sure to reduce your intake of dairy, gluten, soy and corn, as these foods cause issues for the immune system.

    2. Fill Up On Greens

    spinach-salad.jpg

    Support whole-body health by feeding your body and cells with dark leafy greens. Nourish your body with folate-rich greens (and B vitamins in general) and you’ll help reduce levels of homocysteine, a marker of overall body inflammation.

    Folate is important for recycling homocysteine into methionine, an essential amino acid that assists in breaking down fat, as well increasing the production of glutathione, one of our body’s most potent antioxidants.

    Eating folate-rich foods can support methylation, a biochemical process that occurs billions of times per second in your cells. It contributes to over 200 biochemical reactions which include immune health, liver detoxification and gene expression. (7)

    3. Take Care of Your Gut

    probiotics3-1024x683.jpg

    When it comes to overall health, it’s important to balance “good” bacteria with the “bad”. Roughly 80 percent of your immune system is located in your digestive system. So if your digestive system is crawling with unhealthy bacteria, there’s a good chance your immune system will be suppressed as a result.

    Consuming too much sugar feeds the “bad” bacteria rather than promoting the “good,” disease-preventing bacteria. Limit your intake of sugar and grains, while eating plenty of probiotic-rich foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha.

    If you choose to supplement with a probiotic, look for a good balance of the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium strains. Lactobacillus probiotics help produce lactic acid and create an acidic environment in the digestive tract. This prevents the growth of pathogenic microorganisms that enjoy living in an alkaline environment. Bifidobacterium helps prevent the growth of harmful bacteria as well as yeast. (8)

    4. Boost Your Vitamin D

    sun-1024x577.jpg

    Vitamin D is a key player in overall immunity, as vitamin D influences nearly 3,000 different genes in your body. Receptors that respond to the vitamin are found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones. Vitamin D up-regulates your ability to fight infections as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides and is effective against colds, influenza and general infections.

    When you expose your skin to the sun, your skin synthesizes high amounts of cholesterol sulfate, which is important for immunity and cell health. When exposed to sunshine, your skin also synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water-soluble, unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, which are unsulfated. The water-soluble form travels freely in your bloodstream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (also known as “bad cholesterol”) for transport.

    Aim to expose 70 percent of your body for a good 20 minutes a day without any sunscreen to enhance your body’s ability to make its own vitamin D. (9)


    Preventing Tick Bites

    rsz_be_smart.jpg

    Don’t let lyme disease scare you off from the outdoors. Get outside, explore and wander, but be smart about it! Be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves and long socks to keep ticks off your skin when you’re hiking, working outdoors and/or in an area where ticks are common. Make sure you check your skin as soon as you get back inside. Think about wearing light-colored clothing so you can spot ticks more easily.

    Be sure to use a bug spray or insect repellent when you’re out and about in nature. For a natural repellent, mix ½ cup witch hazel with ½ cup apple cider vinegar, then add 30 drops of your favorite essential oil (try lemongrass, citronella or rosemary). Combine all of the ingredients into a glass spray bottle. Spray all over your body before you embark on your next adventure. Note, if you’re entering an area heavily populated with ticks, you’ll definitely want stronger insect repellent. Make sure to talk to your doctor about the safest methods.

    (Read This Next: 9 Leaky Gut Symptoms and How to Start Healing Now)

    The post Why It’s So Hard to Diagnose Lyme Disease + 4 Natural Ways to Ease Symptoms appeared first on PaleoPlan.

  • Building a Keto or Paleo Shopping List: 6 High-Fat Staples to Try

  • Coffee and Autoimmune Disease

    Post From https://www.thepaleomom.com/coffee-and-autoimmune-disease/

    For many of us, any study suggesting our coffee-drinking habits might be good for us is a reason to celebrate (and to raise our mugs of hot delicious Americanos in toast)! And as luck would have it, a number of research studies show that drinking coffee in moderation could legitimately provide a range of health benefits, including reducing the risk of certain cancers, stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, gout, gallstones, and depression, along with protecting against antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections and cirrhosis of the liver. It can even reduce muscle soreness after a workout! There are even studies, including some new and robust ones, that show coffee drinking as a mediator of all-cause mortality, suggesting that drinking coffee every day can have a life-extending effect. In fact, a meta-analysis from 2014 found that drinking four cups per day was associated with a 16% reduction in all-cause mortality (as well as a 21% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality).

    Two important prospective cohort studies, recently published on the same day in the Annals of Internal Medicine, confirmed a mortality-reducing effect of coffee across a wide spectrum of populations. The first study—encompassing 10 different European countries and a total of 521,330 people—found that the highest coffee consumers (28 ounces per day for men and 23 ounces per day for women) had significantly lower all-cause mortality (12% lower for men, 7% lower for women) compared to people who didn’t drink coffee at all. This study also found that the highest coffee consumers had lower risk of death from digestive diseases (59% lower for men and 40% lower for women), and that the highest coffee-consuming women (but not men) had a 30% reduction in cerebrovascular diseases and a 22% reduction in circulatory diseases.

    The second prospective cohort study confirmed that coffee’s mortality benefits hold true for non-white ethnic groups (an important finding, because data for coffee and mortality is sparse for non-whites, and there are many instances where dietary variables have different effects depending on a person’s ethnic background). Analyzing data from the Multiethnic Cohort, this study looked at 185,855 African Americans, Native Americans, Japanese Americans, Latinos, and whites and found that even after adjusting for smoking and other potential confounders, drinking at least two cups per day was associated with an 18% reduction in total mortality. Only in Native Hawaiians did coffee’s inverse association with total mortality not reach statistical significance. (Coffee also appeared protective against death from heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease, and respiratory disease in this analysis!)

    Some of these effects are owed to the antioxidants, polyphenols, and bioactive compounds found in coffee (including some with insulin-sensitizing and anti-inflammatory properties). Some of the health benefits of coffee are also directly attributable to its caffeine content (which is why drinking tea—which is rich in antioxidants and polyphenols while also containing caffeine—is also associated with good health). This is partly why many of the health-protective effects of coffee are not seen with decaf coffee. In addition, the decaffeination process tends to strip the coffee not only of much of its caffeine content, but also of many of its antioxidants and polyphenols (potentially leaving behind a few of the more harmful substances that can be found in coffee).

    Despite that great news, coffee can be a double-edged sword. One of the most prominent ways that applies (especially for me and my AIP readers) is that there is some evidence that coffee is a no-go for people with autoimmune disease. Before we get into the specifics, I want to briefly review the ways that we know coffee and caffeine impact the immune system.

     

    Coffee’s Effect on the Immune System

    Scientific evidence demonstrates that coffee interacts with the immune system, but the effects are complicated and may be highly individualized, suggesting an interaction with genetics.

    Generally-speaking, caffeine acts in an anti-inflammatory way on multiple components of the immune system. However, multiple studies have shown higher levels of inflammation in habitual coffee drinkers than in non-coffee drinkers. For example, one key study showed that moderate coffee consumption in healthy individuals correlated with increased markers of inflammation in their blood (C-reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid-A, and white blood cell counts). People who drank more than 200 mL of coffee every day (equivalent to 37.3 mg of caffeine) had increased circulating white blood cells and several key inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers of inflammation, including interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor alpha). These increases in markers of inflammation were persistent even after adjusting for other health and lifestyle factors (such as age, sex, weight, exercise, and smoking). However, other studies have shown a decrease in markers of inflammation with moderate coffee consumption, even in diabetics and obese individuals.

    Studies that have evaluated the impact of caffeine and/or coffee consumption on specific cells and cytokines within both the innate and adaptive immune system also demonstrate a non-homogeneous effect. (Remember: the innate immune system is the body’s nonspecific first line of defense against foreign invaders, in contrast to the adaptive immune system, which is more complex and involves immunological memory of specific antigens. The innate immune system is our first response to pathogens and is responsible for generalized inflammation whereas adaptive immunity takes longer to activate but attacks antigens with high specificity thanks to the coordinated actions of T cells and B cells. See What Is the Gut Microbiome? And Why Should We Care About It?)

    Studies have shown that that neutrophils and monocytes, two important cell types of the innate immune system, exhibit decreased chemotaxis (movement towards a chemical signal), which indicates suppression of the innate immune system. However, this is counterbalanced by another study showing increased endothelial dysfunction-related inflammation biomarkers, including endothelial adhesion molecules, which are like microscopic velcro embedded in the outer cell membrane that interact with other adhesion molecules on white blood cells to facilitate their exit from the bloodstream (called extravasation) and entrance into tissues (inflammation).

    In terms of the adaptive immune system, caffeine intake suppresses proliferation (cell division and expansion) of Th1 and Th2 cells, but also Th3 cells which are key inducible regulatory T cells. Caffeine intake can also alter B cell function and leads to the suppression of antibody production. It seems to have no impact on natural killer cell activity (an important cell type in cancer development, see TK).  Coffee galactomannans, on the other hand, are immunostimulatory, increasing activity of B cells and T cells (the study that showed this measured an increase in both CD4+ and CD8+ T cell activity, but did not differentiate helper T cell subtypes or regulatory T cells).

    Cell signaling is also affected by coffee intake. NF-κB is a protein complex that controls cytokine production (in addition to transcription of DNA and cell survival) and is a critical factor of the intestinal immune system. Autoimmune and chronic inflammatory conditions (e.g., inflammatory bowel disease) are associated with chronic activation of NF-κB. Studies show that coffee induces activation (specifically, nuclear translocation) of NF-κB in macrophages, intestinal epithelial cells (the cells that form the gut barrier) and intestinal endothelial cells (the cells that form capillaries). Caffeine increases expression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10), which suppresses Th1 pathways. To muddy the waters, coffee increases expression of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-2, which stimulates regulatory T cell pathways, except in the context of allergen sensitization, in which is suppresses IL-2 release!

    A 2016 study may shed some light on these apparent contradictions. The authors took blood samples from volunteers before and after coffee, subjected the isolated blood cells to an inflammatory stimulus, and measured the response of the cells using mass spectrometric measurement of cytokines, chemokines, and eicosanoids, which are mediators of inflammation.  The authors summarize their surprising results thusly: “Remarkably, the release of inflammation mediators IL-6, IL-8, GROA, CXCL2, CXCL5 as well as PGA2, PGD2, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), LTC4, LTE4, and 15S-HETE was significantly affected after coffee consumption. While in several individuals coffee consumption or caffeine treatment caused significant downregulation of most inflammation mediators, in other healthy individuals exactly the opposite effects were observed.”

    Generally, caffeine is considered anti-inflammatory, but coffee is a different question. And, from the data we have to date, it appears as though whether or not habitual coffee consumption is inflammatory or anti-inflammatory is dependent on yet unidentified factors. Certainly, genetics may be the determinant.

     

    The Intersection of Coffee and Genetics

    The way that we process and react to coffee is, at least in some part, related to our genes.  In Genes to Know About: Caffeine Metabolism, I discuss that a polymorphism of the CYP450 enzyme family determines how quickly we metabolize caffeine. Likewise, there are high-risk genes for developing autoimmune disease (see also Genes to Know About: Celiac Genes and Genes to Know About: MTHFR). In recent studies, two genes have been linked with autoimmune disease and coffee tolerance.

    NAT2 polymorphisms. Another key gene that I haven’t had the chance to discuss on the blog yet is polymorphisms of N-acetyltransferase 2 (NAT2) enzyme. This enzyme is involved in the metabolism of xenobiotics (foreign substances that are ingested or otherwise make their way into our bodies), including coffee. Specific polymorphisms lead to a slower acetylation and result in a slower degradation of toxic intermediate molecules. This slower acetylation rate can lead to worsened autoimmune disease processes, and it seems like coffee is no exception. Indeed, people with the NAT2 polymorphism that lead to slower coffee acetylation may have increased risk for autoimmune disease.

    HLA genes. Another gene implicated in autoimmune disease is human leukocyte antigen (HLA), which has two haplotypes (I and II). Autoimmune diseases have been linked with haplotype II, which influences CD4+ Th cells (that includes helper T cells and regulatory T cells). Specifically, the autoimmune diseases that have been linked to HLA II include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes mellitus, and Grave’s disease. One recent study also demonstrated that coffee consumption increases the risk of autoimmune diabetes of adulthood in people with high-risk HLA genes (specifically those with DR4-DQ8, DR3/4, DR3/3, DR4/4, DR4/3-DQ8, and/or DQA1*0501-DQB1*0201).

    So, clearly, the way our bodies are coded is an important concept linking coffee consumption and autoimmune disease.

     

    Coffee and the HPA Axis

    One of the most-noted detrimental effects of consuming caffeine from any source (whether it be coffee, tea, chocolate, or energy drinks) is the effect that it has on cortisol release. Caffeine acts to increase cortisol secretion by elevating production of adrenocorticotropic hormone by the pituitary gland (see How Stress Undermines Health).

    Excessive cortisol production can lead to a variety of health issues, including an overactive immune system, disrupted sleep, impaired digestion, and depression. When you consume caffeine, your cortisol level increases (dependent on what your cortisol management is like to begin with and how much caffeine you consume) and can stay elevated for up to six hours. With daily consumption, your body will adapt somewhat and not produce quite as much cortisol, but complete tolerance to caffeine does not occur. Very importantly, if you are a habitual consumer of caffeine, your cortisol will increase more dramatically in response to stress (like that guy cutting you off in traffic) than someone who doesn’t consume caffeine. If you have difficult managing stress as it is, caffeine is not helpful to you.

    Given the impact that the HPA axis has in overall health, compounding chronic stress with habitual coffee intake may also explain the proinflammatory effects in some people.  This evidence certainly makes a case for avoiding coffee if you are experiencing high stress or are at risk for adrenal fatigue (check out my series, Demystifying Adrenal Fatigue, for more information).

     

    A Few More Concerning Effects

    One of the reasons for the different responses to coffee is that coffee’s many preparatory strategies (i.e., caffeinated, decaffeinated, boiled, filtered, and so on) can impact its antioxidant content and thus its physiological effects. Several compounds in coffee (namely cafestol and kahweol) have cholesterol-raising effects, and can cause higher LDL and total cholesterol in some individuals (although they may also have a protective effect on the liver, and help explain the association between coffee consumption reduced risk of liver cancer). These compounds are largely removed via paper filtration, so their presence depends on how the coffee is prepared.

    A large percentage of people report that coffee upsets their stomach or gives them heartburn. This is because coffee stimulates the secretion of the main gastric hormone gastrin, resulting in excessive secretion of gastric acid and speeding up gastric peristalsis (even decaf coffee has this effect). Coffee also stimulates release of the hormone cholecystokinin (CKK, see The Hormones of Hunger), which stimulates release of bile from the gallbladder (see The Link Between Gallbladder Disease and Gluten Sensitivity and The Paleo Diet for Kidney Disease). In a healthy individual, this release of bile salts is likely sufficient to neutralize the highly acidic chyme. However, deficiencies in gallbladder function are associated with metabolic syndrome. In the case of reduced gallbladder function or excessive coffee consumption, highly acidic chyme travels through the small intestine where it irritates and inflames the lining of the intestines. This is also clearly a good argument for consuming coffee with food.

    Also, there is some preliminary evidence that coffee consumption can increase serum homocysteine levels, which indicates a potential concern for anyone with genetic variants in methylation genes (like MTHFR, see  Genes to Know About: MTHFR, What The Heck Does Our Liver Do Anyway? Detoxification Explained and The Best Foods and Nutrients to Support Liver Detox) impacting function.

     

    Coffee and Autoimmune Disease Risk by Individual Disease

    Like so much research into autoimmune disease, there has thus far been a focus only on the most common autoimmune disease. But, the link between coffee consumption and autoimmune disease risk (and how it differs from one autoimmune disease to another) is super ! Here is a brief breakdown of coffee’s impact on several broad categories of autoimmune disease:

    Rheumatoid arthritis.

    RA is a painful disorder of the joints that often (like many autoimmune diseases) eludes the medical community. There is some evidence that RA risk is increased in coffee-drinkers, especially people who drink more than 4 cups of coffee a day. Interestingly, one study found more risk for people who drink decaffeinated rather than caffeinated coffee. Importantly, for people who are being managed with methotrexate, caffeine consumption may decrease methotrexate efficacy.

    Thyroid autoimmune disease.

    The two major thyroid diseases, hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, are most likely caused by autoimmune disease. As of now, there is the most evidence surrounding Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is the leading cause of hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone). While we don’t know whether coffee is related to the onset and progression of this disease, we do know that coffee interrupts treatment with levothyroxine: taking this medication with coffee leads to decreased absorption AND longer time to reach peak blood levels. Yikes!

    Type 1 diabetes mellitus.

    Type 1 diabetes results from autoimmune destruction of beta islet cells in the pancreas, which leads to inadequate insulin secretion. While type 1 diabetes is most commonly developed in childhood and adolescence, there is a growing population of middle aged and elderly people developing this condition (and there is evidence that drinking more than 4 cups per day increases risk for late onset autoimmune diabetes, especially for those with high-risk HLA genes). Coffee consumption in this population seems to be related to disease outcomes. For example, there seems to be a relationship between coffee intake and episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). There was even a study that demonstrated a 15% reduction in insulin sensitivity among caffeine consumers!! Still, evidence is mixed.

    Multiple sclerosis (MS).

    MS is a chronic demyelinating disease of the central nervous system that causes progressive neurological deterioration. Interestingly, diets high in coffee are inversely associated with MS development, so coffee consumption may  be protective!

    Systemic lupus erythematous (SLE).

    This autoimmune condition is a chronic multi-system disease that results in autoimmune attacks on areas of the body including the joints, skin, lungs, kidneys, and nervous system. Like many of the other disease we’ve talked about here, there is mixed evidence regarding SLE and coffee. It looks like there may be a dose-dependent relationship, meaning that the more coffee one consumes, the more likely they are to develop SLE.

    Liver diseases.

    There are three predominant autoimmune liver diseases: autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), and primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). All three of these diseases result in cirrhosis and liver failure, and much about there pathogeneisis is currently unknown. While there isn’t a ton of evidence here, there is some research showing that coffee may be protective against the development of PSC but not PBC or autoimmune hepatitis.

    Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

    The two major inflammatory bowel diseases, Chrohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, are both autoimmune in origin and result in an inflamed gastrointestinal tract. Interestingly, there is an inverse association between coffee consumption and IBD.

    Celiac disease.

    This common autoimmune disease is results in damage to the intestinal tract if a person consumes gluten. Importantly, coffee has been studied as a gluten cross-reactor, so people with Celiac disease may have to cut it out in order to see a resolution of their symptoms. Interestingly, the type of coffee preparation is related to whether the coffee results in a cross-reaction with gluten: espresso, Turkish- and Israeli-style coffee as well as pure coffee is less reactive than instant coffee.

     

    While the above graphic outlines the current evidence linking coffee consumption and autoimmune disease risk, I think it’s important to emphasize that what to do about coffee isn’t as simple as a diagram.  For example, if you suffer from multiple sclerosis, that doesn’t automatically mean that coffee will benefit you.  I encourage you to think about how to apply these findings to your own body and lifestyle and want to emphasize that there is tremendous value in an elimination and challenge protocol (see The Autoimmune Protocol and Reintroducing Foods after Following the Autoimmune Protocol).

     

    The Bottom Line

    Coffee has a clear effect on the immune system, which can increase risk for certain autoimmune diseases. Even for those diseases for which coffee consumption seems to reduce overall risk, that’s no guarantee that coffee will benefit you as an individual–there’s still a chance that your immune system is being stimulated by coffee consumption.  Because researchers have yet to conclusively identify the reason why some people experience an anti-inflammatory effect from coffee whereas other experience immune stimulation, the (unfortunate) bottom line is that coffee is still best eliminated in the initial phase of AIP implementation. (Learn more about The Autoimmune Protocol and Reintroducing Foods after Following the Autoimmune Protocol).

     

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