Post From http://youtu.be/Va6x2vbZgrc
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The topic of methylation has exploded in popularity in recent years. An increasing number of healthcare practitioners are incorporating methylation assessment into their clinical practice, and the market for direct-to-consumer genetic testing, which allows people to identify genetic variants that may impact methylation, is booming.
Methylation is the process of transferring a single carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms, collectively referred to as a methyl group, from one substance to another in the body. The transfer of methyl groups regulates countless biochemical processes, including cell division, gene expression, DNA and RNA synthesis, development of the nervous system, immune cell differentiation, neurotransmitter synthesis, histamine clearance, and detoxification. To learn more about the ins and outs of methylation, listen to my podcasts Methylation 101, Methylation—What Is It and Why Should You Care? and What Influences Methylation? An Interview with Dr. Ben Lynch.
In autism, genetic variants such as MTHFR may load the gun, but the exposome pulls the trigger. There are many simple yet effective steps we can take to modulate the exposome, optimize methylation, and reduce the risk of autism in our children.
Optimal methylation and its opposite process, demethylation, are central to the maintenance of our physical, mental, and emotional health. Consequently, methylation deficits have many adverse effects on the body. Conditions associated with impaired methylation include fatigue, difficulty losing weight, depression, anxiety, hormone imbalances, poor detox capacity, infertility, and an increased risk of cancer. However, a growing body of research indicates that we should add another item to this list of conditions affected by impaired methylation—autism spectrum disorder.
There is no arguing that autism is on the rise; the incidence of autism in U.S. children increased by over 100 percent from 2000 to 2010, and a shocking one in 59 children born today will be diagnosed with autism. (1) A growing body of research indicates that methylation influences the development of autism. Variants in the MTHFR gene and the presence of folate receptor autoantibodies are two factors that mediate the relationship between methylation and autism.
The MTHFR gene governs the production of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase, the rate-limiting enzyme of the biochemical pathway that converts 5,10 methylenetetrahydrofolate to 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), the active form of folate. 5-MTHF is a compound that participates in methylation. An insufficiency of 5-MTHF impairs methylation and adversely impacts brain function. (2) MTHFR genetic variants, such as the C677T variant, reduce MTHFR enzyme activity and lower the level of 5-MTHF in the body. The frequency of the T allele of the C677T variant, which reduces MTHFR activity, is higher in children with ASD than in non-autistic children; this finding suggests that 5-MTHF insufficiency and altered methylation play a role in autism. (3)
Folate receptor autoantibodies (FRAAs) also influence methylation and ASD. FRAAs bind to folate receptor A (FRA) in the brain, preventing folate from entering the brain. Blocked folate receptors cause cerebral folate deficiency, which impairs methylation and brain function. Autistic children have a high prevalence of FRAA compared to non-autistic children. (4) In children with folate receptor autoantibodies, folate must be delivered to the brain via a route that bypasses the blocked receptor. Folinic acid, a non-methylated form of folate, readily crosses the blood–brain barrier and has been found to improve verbal communication in children with ASD. (5) The research on the relationship between MTHFR variants, folate receptor autoantibodies, and ASD suggests that supplying 5-MTHF and folinic acid may help correct methylation deficits and alleviate symptoms in children on the ASD spectrum.
The completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003 ushered in an era of “biological determinism,” the belief that human health and behavior are controlled primarily by our genes. However, relying solely on genes to predict and prevent disease is misguided because our bodies don’t have enough genes to support the concept of biological determinism. Scientists now understand that factors that influence gene expression, rather than genes themselves, are responsible for driving disease. The study of the mechanisms that change the way genes are expressed but don’t alter the underlying genetic code is called epigenetics. Methylation is just one of many epigenetic mechanisms that influence gene expression.
The sum of environmental exposures to which a person is exposed over the course of his or her lifetime, referred to as the “exposome,” epigenetically influences methylation and gene expression. I previously wrote about the exposome in my article “Why Your Genes Aren’t Your Destiny.” In autism, genetic variants such as MTHFR may load the gun, but the exposome pulls the trigger. (6) Some of the environmental factors that epigenetically influence the development of autism include diet, dysbiosis, maternal infection, and environmental toxins.
Fascinating new research indicates that gut bacteria epigenetically modulate gene expression; subsequently, alterations in the gut microbiome may impair methylation. (7) Dysbiosis is a common problem among autistic children that may contribute to methylation deficits. (8) Correcting dysbiosis and restoring a healthy microbiome may help correct underlying methylation issues in children with ASD.
Methylation is catalyzed by several enzymes that require specific dietary micronutrients, including folate, riboflavin, B6, B12, choline, betaine, zinc, and magnesium. A deficiency of these nutrients impairs methylation. (9) Furthermore, research indicates that a Westernized diet high in refined, processed foods alters methylation in the brain and impairs cognitive function; these findings suggest the existence of an important link between the consumption of a processed, nutrient-depleted diet and autism spectrum disorder. (10)
Maternal infections increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder by epigenetically altering the expression of genes associated with ASD in the fetal brain. (11, 12) Identifying and treating infections before a woman becomes pregnant may significantly reduce the risk of her child experiencing impaired methylation and ASD.
Environmental toxins: Heavy metals and BPA
The abundance of environmental toxins to which we are exposed daily has a significant impact on methylation and the risk of ASD. In utero exposure to heavy metals alters methylation of genes and is associated with an increased risk of autism. (13) Exposure to BPA, an extremely common environmental toxin found in plastic water bottles and food containers, in the lining of canned foods, and on thermal paper used for receipts, also alters DNA methylation and is associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorders. (14)
The exposome plays a crucial role in the regulation of methylation and the risk of ASD. Fortunately, there are many simple yet effective steps we can take to modulate the exposome, optimize methylation, and reduce the risk of autism in our children.
Identifying MTHFR genetic variants is a good first step to take when addressing methylation problems in ASD spectrum children. I recommend doing genetic testing through 23andMe. Once you have the results of your child’s 23andMe test, you can run the data through Genetic Genie to get methylation results. Variants in MTHFR C677T increase a child’s risk for methylation issues and autism spectrum disorder.
It is important to remember that just because a genetic variant is present does not mean it is being expressed. I recommend that functional methylation testing, such as the Doctor’s Data or Health Diagnostics Research Institute methylation panel, be done in conjunction with genetic testing. Functional methylation testing can help your healthcare practitioner determine whether a given genetic variant is impacting your child’s health and how to go about treating a methylation deficit. To that end, it is important to work with a practitioner who is familiar with methylation; methylation is a complex topic, and self-treating is often an inefficient (and costly) way to approach this health issue.
It is crucial that epigenetic causes of poor methylation be addressed in children on the ASD spectrum. An ancestral diet provides the nutrients required for methylation, including folate, riboflavin, B6, B12, zinc, choline, glycine, creatine, betaine, and magnesium. Targeted nutrient supplementation can also help; 5-MTHF may benefit autistic children with MTHFR variants and folinic acid helps those with folate receptor autoantibodies. In my practice, I am having success with a methylation protocol developed by Chris Masterjohn that involves choline, glycine, and creatine. You can learn more about Chris’s protocol in his podcasts Living with MTHFR and What to Do about MTHFR.
Correcting dysbiosis with pharmaceutical or botanical antimicrobials, fermented foods, and probiotics can help restore balance to the intestinal microbiota and optimize methylation. Women looking to become pregnant should focus on supporting their immunity to reduce their risk of infection during pregnancy and treat pre-existing infections before becoming pregnant.
Finally, environmental toxins should be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy, infancy, and early childhood to reduce the risk of autism. Some simple ways to minimize toxin exposure include investing in high-quality water filters for drinking and bathing water, using stainless steel and glass water bottles and food storage containers rather than plastic, and avoiding handling receipts. Women planning to become pregnant should assess their body burden of heavy metals and undergo detoxification well before pregnancy to reduce their future children’s exposure to environmental toxins in utero.
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What do you think of the research on methylation and autism? Do you have a child on the ASD spectrum, and if so, what methylation-optimizing strategies have been most helpful? Let me know in the comments below.
Sweet potatoes are lovely little tubers, but this particular recipe had us at “lime dressing”. Take a look at the…
It’s Friday, everyone! And that means another Primal Blueprint Real Life Story from a Mark’s Daily Apple reader. If you have your own success story and would like to share it with me and the Mark’s Daily Apple community please contact me here. I’ll continue to publish these each Friday as long as they keep coming in. Thank you for reading!
“To inspire people to be their best and love the journey so they get the most out of life and make the world a better place.” – Benj’s WHY: the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Ok, if I’m being honest, that’s my second reason. The first is my home-made quad espresso (black, of course!).
My journey hasn’t been some monumental before-and-after story, but more an EVOLUTION (Grok-style). I grew up out in the “woods” 100 kilometres (60 miles) outside of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I was always a super active kid, playing every sport in school, and then getting home and continuing the sports non-stop with my brother. My parents both got in on the act often, and were always super supportive. When I look back, our family was about half-Grok back then without even knowing it. We didn’t watch TV much (just some Hockey Night in Canada on the weekends), always had home-cooked meals (some food choices have since been adjusted!), and did a ton of stuff outside and in nature. Both of my parents are retired teachers, so we learned how to learn, problem solve, question authority, and investigate.
After high school, I earned a university volleyball scholarship and began my career as an “elite” athlete. I ended up playing 5 years of post-secondary volleyball, and was also fortunate to play 3 years for Team Canada and 1 year professionally in France. At the same time, I completed a Physical Education degree and a Master’s degree in Kinesiology (Coaching). I also figured out how to completely destroy my diet, going from home-cooked meals to almost exclusively processed food, fast-food, and the craziest part: averaging around 3 litres (3/4 of a gallon) of Coke/Slurpees EVERY DAY!!
I look back now in disbelief. I can’t imagine how much better I could have performed on the court, and how much less my knees, shoulder, and everything else would’ve hurt if I wasn’t pounding so much sugar and junk. Half way through my volleyball career, I got into weight lifting and once my playing career was over, I became a college volleyball coach and kinesiology instructor, and continued working out a couple of hours 5-6 days a week. I looked like a pretty fit beast (6’4”, 240 pounds, 12-14% body fat), but I certainly didn’t feel that way.
Gradually, I started reading more about health and making better choices. I reduced my Slurpee intake to 1 per day after my workouts along side my protein shake, and upgraded my diet from complete garbage to the Zone diet (30% fat, 30% protein, 40% carbs every meal). Unfortunately, I think my years of a garbage diet while continuing to pound my body with multiple workouts and practices added up. All my joints constantly hurt, I was often bloated and uncomfortable, and I ended up getting knee surgery. I just chalked it up to things I would have to deal with as a price for being an elite athlete…and here’s where the fun really begins!
I met my wife, Jolene, at the end of 2002 having just turned 30, and we married in August of 2003 (she was 25 at the time), so the rest of this is OUR story! Jolene was keen on working out, adjusting her diet, and so we continued with the Zone and working out chronically. The picture above was taken two months before our wedding.
At about this time I started having symptoms of pretty serious hyperthyroidism and was eventually diagnosed with Grave’s disease and in the spring of 2004 had my thyroid gland destroyed (I’m guessing the doctors would disagree with my description) with 2 doses of radiated iodine leaving me on the opposite end of the spectrum, with severe hypothyroidism. I firmly believe this was an autoimmune response to my decade of crazy carb intake combined with my non-stop sports lifestyle. It has left me having to take thyroid hormones (initially synthetic, but I switched to natural 5 years ago) daily for likely the rest of my life. Luckily, I haven’t had any major issues, I can tell quickly if I need to adjust my dose, and life has basically been good. I only wish I had learned about primal wellness prior to the radiation treatment, because I’m confident I could have reversed my condition and preserved a functioning thyroid gland.
Life continued for Jolene and I, and we became more and more fascinated with holistic wellness. I began reading and researching on all aspects of leading a healthy life and implementing what I learned into the Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness class I was teaching at college. I also became really curious about how people learn, how the brain operates, and how to create optimal learning environments, which I began experimenting with in my classes and with the women’s volleyball ball team I was coaching. After over 30 years of what I call incidental learning, it finally occurred to me that I had WAY more to learn and it became my passion to find out and implement all I could about each component of wellness. Jolene was busy running her own business as a massage therapist and helping others with their wellness. It’s been amazing that Jolene has been on board the whole way. And I had and have so much to learn from her as well. She has great awareness, kindness, empathy, and authenticity.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2011, I read my first ancestral health book, The New Evolution Diet, by Arthur De Vany, and it was a total game changer. After spending the past 7-plus years reading and researching, the book just put everything together. Jolene and I went all in immediately on a primal/paleo lifestyle and the results were instant. Although we looked to be in pretty “good shape” before hand, in a matter of weeks we both leaned out significantly. The picture above was taken just a few months after ditching grains, sugar and processed food (ages 38 & 33).
But the best changes had nothing to do with how we looked. I was able to get up and down stairs without my knees aching, I no longer had any gastrointestinal discomfort, I slept way better and needed less of it, I was more alert and in a better mood. And these changes happened in a matter of days. All these things were amazing, and I knew there was still so much more to learn. I just continued researching all aspects of wellness, and we applied what I learned, tweaking and adjusting our lifestyle. And then a couple of years later I finally came across Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint…BOOM! Everything we were working on, all covered in 10 Laws that lead to a good life! What could possibly make more sense than to understand that wellness is in our DNA and we have tremendous influence over how our genes are expressed?
Perhaps the coolest thing about this all is that it’s been a family affair. The same half-Grok family at the beginning of this story is now a full Grok-family! My Mom and Dad still live out in the woods, and are enjoying a full-on primal lifestyle in their retirement. My brother, his wife and their 6-year old daughter live in the mountains and honor the Grok way both at the kitchen table and with their daily hikes, mountain bike rides, rock climbs, or whatever else they choose to do.
As time goes by, Jolene and I continue to make adjustments that simplify and enhance our wellness. We now work out less than ever before, and do it intuitively. This usually means about two 20-30 minute intense strength sessions per week, a couple of 5 kilometre jogs keeping the heart rate in the aerobic zone, the occasional sprint workout, and plenty of walks with the dogs. Our meal plans are simple too. We eat delicious food W.H.E.N. (when hunger ensues naturally). This almost always means our first meal is in the early afternoon. Jolene feels at her best when she eats few carbs (less than 50g/day) and I hover in the 50-100g/day range to be at my best. And those are educated guesses because we never stress about it. We don’t measure or track anything, just eat things we know are good for us and don’t eat crap. We have found a primal lifestyle to be fairly easy and simple, and the benefits can’t be overstated! The above pictures are from April of 2018 at ages 45 and 40.
The latest chapter in our story is just beginning! When I first heard about the Primal Blueprint Health Coach program (now Primal Health Coach Institute), I signed up immediately and became certified at the end of 2016. It was such a great summary of everything I’ve learned over the past 15 years and now I’m hoping to inspire others with my passion for wellness and human excellence. This is what that looks like to me.
I’d love for everyone to enhance their wellness and I’m looking forward to starting my Primal Health Coaching career so I can help people with their journey. I’ve recently enrolled in a Primal Health Coaching Institute Masterclass in Miami and I’m so excited to get this off the ground! Thanks for taking the time to read my story, hopefully it inspires you to either start or keep going on a path of health and happiness!
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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Maria is the blogger behind the Zesty Paleo website. As a Hashimoto’s patient for more than a decade, Maria has constantly been taking steps to improve her quality of life, including nutrition and lifestyle choices. Having received training in both, conventional and alternative medicine, Maria uses the knowledge she gained for cooking healing meals. In her kitchen, Maria creates simple yet flavorful recipes!
To me, recipe development is comparable to painting a picture, where food is its colors and imagination is its brush. With this approach, anything is possible! And of course, knowledge of culinary techniques comes in handy in recipe development.
But for the purpose of this article let’s leave imagination out of the picture and focus more on ingredients and culinary techniques as they relate to the ice cream making. It all begins with an ice cream base. Classic ice cream base usually consists of cream or milk, sugar and some sort of a thickener. A liquid in the form of cream helps to freeze ice cream, while the concentration of sugars and other substances work as bonding agents. Moreover, the cream helps to create building blocks in ice cream as it gets in between ice crystals. Sugar helps to minimize the point of congelation thus making ice cream smoother and easier to serve. Finally, thickeners, as the name suggests it, assist in thickening ice cream.
The autoimmune protocol makes it challenging to enjoy traditionally made ice creams as none of the above-mentioned ingredients are allowed. Luckily, many ingredients can be replaced by their healthier alternatives. And, in the case when there is no perfect match, it’s usually a sign to get more creative and this is where the real fun begins!
Now let’s talk about how you can make AIP-compliant ice cream at home:
Animal-based milk is one of the most common allergens, therefore it should be avoided if you have a leaky gut condition. Luckily, it’s very easy to replace it with coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk. “Full fat” is important here, because it adds smoothness and improves flavors.
Apart from using AIP-compliant sweeteners, such as honey, maple syrup, and dates, I recommend using bananas. I like the fact that their texture and sweetness contribute to the overall smoothness of ice creams. Plus you’ll need less added sugar (if any) while using bananas or other, sweeter fruits.
Use arrowroot starch or tapioca flour to add more thickness. Even better, use of certain fruits and vegetables provides a lot of creaminess. Some of my favorites are bananas, avocados, mango & pumpkin.
This ingredient is often overlooked in traditional ice creams, yet there is no reason not to enjoy “good for you” ices! I am convinced that ice cream can be one of the healthiest meals you can enjoy, so long as it is nutrient dense! For this reason, I literally load my ice creams with fruits & vegetables, proteins (including animal ones, in many of my savory scoops), herbs & spices! I also like to add collagen as, in addition to being nutrient dense, it makes ice cream airier and adds to its texture, as it builds in between ice crystals.
An ice cream maker is essential for the creation of most ice creams and frozen yogurts. In fact, churning has one amazing quality: it incorporates air, thus moving crystals away from each other, resulting in a smoother texture. Besides, churning makes water in ice cream mixture to form lots of tiny crystals. For example, If you make the same ice cream base and freeze half of it as a popsicle and run another half in an ice cream maker you will see the difference. The texture of popsicles will come out harder comparing to the mixture run in an ice cream maker, even with similar ingredients being used. This is because crystals in ice cream are relatively far, while in popsicles they are glued to each other. Besides, crystals in popsicles are larger comparing to ones in ice creams.
Prior to churning make sure to chill ice cream mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, for at least 1 hour. The colder the mixture is before you put it into the machine, the better. Since it will not have as far to go to get from chilled to frozen as it would from room temperature to frozen, the chance of large ice crystals forming in ice cream is reduced.
Soft serve has it all! This is where ice cream maker is NOT essential! Due to the fact that air and crystals are already introduced into frozen fruits, running them in a high-powered blender or a food processor is enough to get a tasty treat! To make your soft-serve smoother, combine berries with creamier fruits, such as bananas, avocados, etc.
Zesty Scoop is my collection of savory and sweet ice creams, sorbets, and frozen yogurts. This book will take you beyond sweet summer treats as inside you will find out some savory ones, such as bacon ice cream, coconut aminos ice cream and so on. You will also learn about my signature, sauce-based savory “ice cream” dressings that you will be able to enjoy with your salads and other meals. Apart from savory ices, you will find out flavorful, fruit-based scoops that you will be able to enjoy “as is” or as condiments to accompany your meals!
The post AIP Ice Cream: Ingredients and Techniques – Guest Post by Maria appeared first on The Paleo Mom.
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Two things you should know about me: I love matcha, and I spend way too much money buying store-bought vegan cheesecakes. So naturally, I decided to roll up my sleeves and develop a paleo, vegan, and no-bake matcha cheesecake. Yeah—it’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it, and it might as well be a matcha fiend like me. (Psst! If you’ve never tried matcha before, you can read up on why I love this umami-rich stone-ground Japanese-style green tea in my Cold Matcha Latte and Matcha Coconut Gummies recipe posts.)
Years ago, I sampled a raw vegan cheesecake at a hipster vegan joint in New York City, and it was love at first bite. I know you’re probably thinking: SHOULDN’T “CHEESECAKE” BE IN QUOTATION MARKS? IT’S NOT CHEESECAKE WITHOUT THE CHEESE, LADY! Frankly, I was skeptical, too, but my doubts melted away as soon as I tasted the creamy awesomeness of this sweet indulgence. Gluten-free vegan cheesecake is now one of my favorite desserts. Sure, vegan cheesecake doesn’t taste exactly like its traditional dairy-full counterpart, but the velvety texture and inventive flavor combinations bowled me over. Now, I seek it out whenever I’m looking for a treat. Best of all, as someone who’s lactose intolerant, I don’t suffer any uncomfortable side effects afterwards—a huge win in my book.
Fast-forward to testing batch after batch of my No-Bake Matcha Cheesecake. As you know, I’m super-finicky about recipe testing until the final result matches the (unreasonably) high expectations in my head. For a while, I didn’t think I could ever come up with a version that I’d be proud to share with you. But last week, I finally did it: I perfected a homemade matcha cheesecake that I absolutely love—and it also got two enthusiastic thumbs-up from my even-pickier-than-me mother!
A few notes about this recipe:
The creaminess of this “cheesecake” is derived from a combination of puréed soaked cashews, coconut oil, and coconut milk. Soaking the cashews does take 2 to 4 hours with room temperature water…
…but you can speed up the process by soaking ’em in 4 cups of boiling water for 10-30 minutes. Don’t have time to use the soaked cashews right away? Rinse and drain them…
…and then store them in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
A few additional notes: This vegan cheesecake is no-bake, but it’s not technically raw because I do use toasted almonds and coconuts in the crust. I think they taste better toasted! And use dry roasted and salted almonds—the salt balances out the sticky sweetness of the dates.
I prefer using ceremonial grade matcha for this recipe due to it’s bright, vibrant green color…
…but if you don’t care about your cheesecake ending up a duller shade of green/brown, you can definitely substitute culinary grade matcha. You’ll save money and the cheesecake will still taste fantastic—plus you can always serve it at the end of a romantic dinner with the lights turned down so low that no one can make out the color of the dessert.
This cheesecake is mildly sweet and matcha forward. If you don’t like matcha as much as I do, you can start with only 1 tablespoon and increase to taste. You can also add more maple syrup if you want it sweeter.
Finally, you can use this recipe to make either a cute 7-inch cheesecake that you can slice up, or you can divide the batter into a 12-cup muffin tin lined with parchment paper to create little peanut-butter-cup-size desserts.
Ready to wow your pals with a decadent matcha cheesecake?
Makes 12 individual mini cheesecakes or one 7-inch cheesecake
Time to make the no-bake crust! Place the dates in the food processor and pulse a few times to roughly chop up the pieces.
Then, hold down the “On” button until the pulverized dates form a sticky ball that thwacks against the side of the work bowl.
Add the dry roasted and salted almonds and toasted coconut flakes to the food processor…
… and pulse until everything is the size of rice grains. The dough should stick when smushed together with your fingers. If your dates are dry, you can add a teeny bit of water to get the crust to hold together.
If you’re making the cheesecake in a springform pan, grease the bottoms and sides with coconut oil.
Add the crust to the greased springform pan and use a piece of parchment to spread it evenly on the bottom. I like to push the crust down with an empty measuring cup to flatten the bottom evenly. (Warning: I know my pictures have the crust coming up the sides, but the crust on the sides can stick to the pan when you try to remove it. You may want to save yourself the time and annoyance of patching the crust on the sides by simply forming the crust on the bottom of the pan and leaving the sides crust-free.)
Alternatively, grab a 12-cup muffin pan (or two 6-cup muffin pans) and pop in parchment muffin liners. Place a heaping tablespoon of the crust mixture in each muffin liner, and flatten with a piece of parchment paper to form an even crust in each one.
Take out a powerful blender. (Yes, you will have to dirty two different kitchen electrics for this recipe, but trust me: it’s worth it.) Add the liquified coconut oil, coconut milk, lemon juice…
…maple syrup, soaked and drained cashews, vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the blender.
Blitz until very smooth. Spoon out about ½ cup of batter and set aside.
Add the matcha to the batter in the blender and blitz until everything is mixed evenly.
Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Smooth the top of the cheesecake with an offset spatula.
Dollop the reserved cup of matcha-less batter onto the top of the cake in a circular pattern and then use a skewer to swirl it around in tighter circles to make a pretty design.
Making mini cheesecakes in a muffin pan? Spoon about 2 tablespoons of the matcha filling into each muffin liner.
Smooth the surface of each one, and then dollop a heaping teaspoon of the reserved batter on top. Use a wooden skewer to swirl the batter around to make a marble pattern.
Cover the pan(s) with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 4 hours or until set.
Ready to eat? You can thaw the cheesecake in the fridge for about 2 hours before serving, or you can leave it out on the counter for 10-15 minutes before dessert time. Pop it out of the springform pan…
…and slice and serve!
Or just pop out an individual mini matcha cheesecake!
The frozen cheesecake(s) will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once thawed in the fridge, the cheesecake should be eaten within 4 days. (But I have a feeling it won’t take you that long to finish it off!)
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)!
Prep 20 mins
Cook 20 mins
Inactive 6 hours
Total 6 hours, 40 mins
Yield 12 servings
This fabulous no-bake matcha cheesecake is paleo, vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free. It also happens to be super delicious!
Cuisine Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, No-bake
Melatonin is a word that many people are familiar with, but are often confused at what it has to do with sleep, exactly, and why it’s so important.
Melatonin – commonly known as the sleep hormone – is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland and bacteria in the gut that plays a role in various roles throughout the body including circadian rhythm, sleep, and immune health. (1)
Melatonin is involved in numerous aspects of the biological and physiological regulation of body functions. It helps promote total sleep time, aids with fatigue from jet lag, balances circadian rhythms, and help reset the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Melatonin has also been shown to modify immunity, the stress response, and certain aspects of the aging process.
Melatonin is largely responsible for regulating sleep cycles, helping to keep us awake at the right times (like during the day at work) and to fall asleep when we naturally should (when it is dark outside).
When you produce melatonin is just as important, if not more so, than the total amount that gets produced. Ideally, we want higher levels at night (beginning around 9pm) and lower levels in the morning. When the sun goes down and the day begins to get darker, the pineal gland is activated by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), and begins to produce melatonin, which is then released into the blood.
The SCN is essentially the body’s clock that helps to regulate activates that can affect the entire body, such as releasing stimulating hormones like cortisol, influencing how awake or tired we feel, and raising or lowering core body temperature.
As melatonin levels rise in the blood, we begin to feel sleepy and tired. Melatonin levels can stay elevated in the body for roughly 12 hours, and they should remain elevated through the entire night, as well as before light from the new bright and sunny day arrives. Melatonin levels should fall back to lower levels during the daytime by about 9am, and daytime levels should be barely detectable. When melatonin levels remain too high during the day, it can be difficult getting started in the morning and can lead to feelings of sluggishness or fatigue all day. (2,3)
Melatonin acts as a mediator between the thermoregulatory and arousal system in humans, as well as a modulator for immune health, as there is at least 400 times more melatonin in the gastrointestinal tract than in the pineal gland.
The gastrointestinal tract contributes significantly to circulating concentrations of melatonin, especially during the daytime. Melatonin acts as an endocrine hormone throughout the body, influencing the function and regeneration of the epithelium, as well as enhancing the immune system of the gut and overall body.
Melatonin also prevents the formation of ulcers on GI mucosa through its antioxidant action, and can reduce the secretion of excessive hydrochloric acid.
Due to melatonin’s unique properties, it has been used to treat cancer, GI issues such as IBS and ulcerative colitis, and even childhood colic. (4)
Melatonin levels are directly influenced by a number of factors, and our lifestyle and sleep habits can be a big part of that. Factors that can lead to low melatonin include:
When melatonin levels become depleted, symptoms can include fatigue, sickness, agitation, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Melatonin is clearly important, but what specifically can it do for your body when you have optimal levels?
Roughly 70 million Americans suffer from a disorder of sleep and wakefulness that hinders their ability to function each day, but also jeopardizes health and longevity. Long term effects of sleep loss and sleep disorders can include: (5)
Melatonin helps with certain sleep disorders, such as jet lag, insomnia, and inability to fall asleep. It can shorten time to fall asleep, increase total sleep time, and even improve sleep quality and morning alertness. Melatonin has also been used successfully to treat serious sleep disorders in hyperactive and neurologically compromised children, such as those with ADHD. (6,7)
Who doesn’t love to travel and adventure to new parts of the world? But all of the wanderlusting can leave melatonin levels shot. Jet lag is caused by travel across several times zones and can result in disrupted sleep, daytime fatigue, and just a general feeling of discomfort.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has found that using melatonin reduces jet lag symptoms and improves sleep after traveling across more than one time zone. When melatonin is taken close to the targeted bedtime at the destination, with doses between 0.5mg and 5mg, people fall asleep faster and have decreased jet-lag from flights, especially those crossing five or more time zones. The timing of melatonin is important though, because if taken too early in the day it can cause sleepiness. (8)
The antioxidant role of melatonin has been used for a variety of conditions in which oxidative stress is involved. The immune-enhancing effects of melatonin appear to be an integral immune-recovery mechanism with melatonin acting as a buffer against the harmful effects of stress on immune balance.
Immune modulating effects of melatonin can slow or prevent the inflammatory response in the body. Melatonin supplementation can also lead to increased expression of the antioxidants superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, two important enzymes for immune function. Melatonin has even been found to be more efficient than vitamin C in reducing the extent of oxidative stress, and can also reduce markers of oxidative stress more significantly than vitamin E or N-acetylcysteine against acetaminophen toxicity. (9)
A close relationship exists between the pineal gland in the brain and the pituitary/adrenal axis. Melatonin modulates the activity of this axis and the actions of steroid hormones that deal with the sympathetic nervous system.
Chronically elevated levels of cortisol have been linked to several aspects of aging and age-associated problems like glucose intolerance, impaired immune function, and cancer. Melatonin can act as an anti-stress factor in the body, helping provide potential balance for all of these areas.
Research has shown that melatonin can inhibit the incidence of chemically induced tumors, along with the growth and sometimes metastasis of cancers of the lung, liver, ovary, pituitary, and prostate, as well as melanoma and leukemia. It can also stabilize the disease and improve quality of life for about 40 percent of recipients, according to one study. (11)
Melatonin can also down-regulate estrogen receptors, inhibit estrogen stimulation, and slow breast cancer growth, suggesting that melatonin is a natural anti estrogen. (12)
The link between melatonin levels, pineal function, and mood disorders is seen in those who have both seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and classic “non seasonal” depressions. Research has found that nocturnal melatonin levels are low in those who suffer from major depressive disorder and panic disorder. This is seen most specifically in individuals who have abnormal pituitary-adrenal responses to excessive cortisol levels.
Suppressed melatonin secretion can also be associated with problems like nightmares, insomnia, dizziness, and depression. Brain serotonin levels have been shown to increase after melatonin supplementation, which is significant because serotonin has been linked with mood support, reduced anxiety, relieved insomnia, and improved impulse control. (13)
While some health benefits mentioned above clearly come from melatonin supplementation, there are also natural ways to boost your levels.
While supplemental forms of melatonin can be taken to increase blood levels, you can simply work on your nutrition to get more melatonin into your diet. Widely found in both plant and animal sources, including human breast milk, melatonin can also be found in:
Forget sleepy time tea and opt for a pre-bedtime smoothie. Mix together half of a frozen banana, with half a cup of pineapple, half a cup of unsweetened almond milk, and a few handfuls of magnesium rich spinach (which can also help to relax the body) and enjoy this melatonin milkshake while you are unwinding from the day! (14)
Whether you are on your cell phone, laptop, tablet, or watching TV, light from these devices disrupts your body’s natural circadian rhythm, causing your serotonin and melatonin production to decrease. Even the tiniest bit of light can disrupt your internal clock and your pineal gland’s production of two important sleep hormones, melatonin and serotonin.
Small amounts of light can pass directly through your optic nerve to your hypothalamus, which controls your biological clock. Any light, even from the dim glow of an alarm clock, can trick your brain into thinking it is still stay daytime and can tell your brain that it is time to wake up. The brain then begins secreting melatonin between 9 and 10pm, and any devices that emit short wavelength blue light, such as your smartphone or computer, can disrupt that process and prevent you from falling asleep.
Power off any light-producing devices about two hours before bedtime and ensure that your room is completely dark. (15)
We are constantly bombarded and inundated with stimuli from all areas of our life, including technology, mental and emotional worries, and everyday work and life stressors. The last thing we want to bring into bed with us is the everyday annoyances that cause our minds to feel tense and anxious and prevent us from unwinding.
Although we think things like responding to lingering emails, scrolling through social media platforms, or watching TV might help us unwind, they actually make it more difficult to fall asleep and relax. Try your best to avoid doing these activities in your actual bedroom in an effort to keep your room’s environment serene and calming and to avoid over-stimulating the brain, which can prevent you from falling asleep quickly.
Try to get to sleep by 10 P.M. so that you give yourself enough time to settle down and ease off into a restful night of sleep. Cortisol, which is released in the presence of light, has a half-life of roughly 90 minutes, so even if you are in bed at 10 P.M. but watching your favorite show or scrolling through Instagram, at around 11:30 P.M. there will still be half the amount of cortisol present in your bloodstream, so power off early! (16)
When I say sleep hygiene I do not mean how fresh your sheets smell, but rather having a regular sleeping and waking schedule and routine. Creating a sleep ritual that includes a set of little things you do before bed that helps get you and your system ready for sleep can be very therapeutic. This could include trying to establish set sleeping and waking times, journaling your thoughts before sleep, having a cup of tea, meditating, deep breathing, or using essential oils and aromatherapy.
It is tempting to want to keep your house warm during the cold winter months, but it is ideal to keep the temperature in your bedroom a bit cooler, no higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The ideal range for sleeping falls on the cooler sides, somewhere between 60 to 68 degrees.
When you are sleeping, your body’s internal temperature drops and many researchers believe that having a cooler bedroom is more conducive for quality sleep as it mimics the body’s natural temperature drop. (18)
Melatonin is a potent hormone that regulates sleep and numerous other essential areas of life. Lifestyle alone can disrupt healthy melatonin levels, but with a few key changes, you can start creating better sleep and hormone balance in your body without needing medications or supplements.
The post Melatonin: What It Is, Benefits, and Natural Ways to Boost Levels appeared first on PaleoPlan.
Post From http://youtu.be/PA1wIRvHDc8
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Each week, select Mark’s Daily Apple blog posts are prepared as Primal Blueprint Podcasts. Need to catch up on reading, but don’t have the time? Prefer to listen to articles while on the go? Check out the new blog post podcasts below, and subscribe to the Primal Blueprint Podcast here so you never miss an episode.
Where we might find the next hobbits.
What depersonalization disorder can tell us about the self.
A response to the recent study on meditation.
Why are sugary drinks still widely available in hospitals, anyway?
Halo Top doesn’t reach the top.
Interesting interview of Vilhjamur Stefansson, the famous Arctic explorer, about his experience with carnivorous dieting.
“‘Here, on the island I don’t do what people tell me to do, I just follow nature’s rules. You can’t dominate nature so you have to obey it completely,’ he explained to Reuters.” Now he has to obey the Japanese government and return to civilization. Sad.
What Julius Caesar may have looked like.
I guess the Death Star hasn’t been completed yet. (I know I mentioned them last week.)
Video I loved: What the Japanese really eat.
I feel obligated to remind everyone: The supposedly “definitive” evidence indicting saturated fat in favor of high omega-6 seed oils was totally fraudulent and actually showed the opposite.
I can’t improve on the article’s title: “Spaniard raised by wolves disappointed with human life.”
Cartoon I liked: An anti-electricity single-paneler from the early 20th century.
Now that’s what I call a stew: An interdisciplinary team cooks up a 4000 year-old Babylonian stew recipe.
One year ago (Jun 24– Jun 30)
“My Monday coffee group is my tribe and, in fact, that’s what we call this group of about 8 women ages 65 to 90. There’s a lot of wisdom around that table as well as laughter and, occasionally, tears. We’re of varying sizes and levels of activity and nutrition, but we support each other, which is what it’s all about IMHO.”
– We should all be so lucky, Sheila.
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