In recent years, both collagen and gelatin have become increasingly popular as the health benefits of these proteins have become more widely understood. Collagen, the most abundant protein in your body, can be found in bones, ligaments, tendons, skin and more, and consuming collagen regularly has been shown to have a multitude of benefits. The benefits of collagen include:
However, eating collagen and it's derivative, gelatin, is by no means new news. Collagen and gelatin—an irreversibly hydrolyzed, or broken, form of collagen—comes from the cartilage, skin and bones of animals. Throughout history, humans have made soups from animal bones and eaten all the parts of animals, including the tougher parts containing connective tissue and therefore, collagen. These practices aren't common in this day and age.
While bone broths can be a great source of collagen, there are other ways to increase our intake of this important protein without sipping on soup all day long. Today, both hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin can be purchased from reputable sources and used in a variety of ways. While both collagen and gelatin contain the same amino acids, hydrolyzed collagen can be dissolved in cold and hot liquids alike and does not cause liquid to gel, making it perfect for mixing into smoothies; coffee or tea; or your breakfast oatmeal or yogurt. Gelatin, on the other hand, dissolves in hot liquids and causes them to gel making it great for....Jello!
Homemade jello--spiced up with anthocyanins and vitamin C—is one of my favorite ways to increase my intake of the amino acids found in collagen (namely proline and glycine) along with important cofactors for collagen production. Fruits rich in the bioflavanoid anythocyanins—such as dark berries—have been shown to link collagen fibers, increase vitamin C levels, and protect against free radical damage. Furthermore, vitamin C has been shown to increase collagen formation by increasing the activity of the enzymes that form collagen. I love making this jello as a healthy desert or for a delicious breakfast with a dollop of sheep's milk or coconut milk yogurt. I welcome your ideas for incorporating collagen and gelatin into your everyday routine!
Not Your Grandmother's Jello:
1. Cut up your fresh fruit (if necessary) and place it in a pie dish or bowls.
2. Brew 16 ounces of herbal tea.
3. Take a small amount of the brewed herbal tea and use it to dissolve 2 tablespoons of gelatin.
4. Mix the dissolved gelatin mixture, the rest of the herbal tea and 16 ounces of dark berry juice.
5. Add maple syrup, to taste, if desired.
6. Pour the liquid into the containers of your choosing over the fresh fruit.
7. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
To purchase collagen or gelatin, visit our store.
For years and years, fats have been given a bad rap. Starting around 1980, experts and the federal government advised replacing all dietary fats with healthy carbohydrates. This was a big mistake. Instead of replacing unhealthy fats with vegetables, Americans replaced healthy fats with grains and sugar, leading to the epidemic of obesity and metabolic disease that currently plagues our country. The fact is, many fats are extremely good for our health:
Fats to avoid include trans fats; whenever you see “partially hydrogenated oil” on a label, that is a food best left alone. Research indicates that for every 2% of calories of trans fat consumed daily, the risk of heart disease increases by 23%. Instead, increase your daily intake of the following types of fats:
Polyunsaturated fats such as those found in vegetable and canola oil are still praised by much of mainstream nutrition, but have been shown to contribute to a plethora of chronic diseases, in part because of their tendency to go rancid and in part due to their high omega-6, or inflammatory, content. It is best to leave polyunsaturated fats alone.
Whether you are trying to loose weight, increase energy or improve the function of each and every cell in your body, consuming more healthy fat is the way to go. For a delicious, healthy, anti-inflammatory sweet treat, sure to satiate any craving try my recipe for homemade Mustang Bars below:
1/3 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup crunchy almond butter
1/3 chopped raw walnuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
¼ cup raw macadamia nuts
¼ cup golden rasins
2 TBS vanilla
3 TBS honey
1/3 cup coconut oil (melted)
Salt to taste
Mix the seeds, coconut flakes and raisins together along with the honey, almond butter, vanilla and salt. Using a muffin tin, pour a small amount of coconut oil into the bottom of each tin. Top the coconut oil with the mixture containing the rest of the ingredients. Place in the freezer to solidify. Makes 6 to 8 depending on thickness.
 Almendrala, A. (2016). The Truth About Fat In Your Diet. Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-truth-about-dietary-fat_us_56d4ac53e4b0bf0dab33083f.
 Fitness Magazine. (2009). The Big Fat Truth: Why Non-Fat Isn’t the Answer. Retrieved from: http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/tips/why-non-fat-isnt-the-answer/.
 The Family Health Guide. (2015). Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved from: http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-truth-about-fats-bad-and-good.
The long days of summer are upon us and for many people that means hiking, camping, swimming, kayaking and more. However, with being outdoors often comes mosquitos and with mosquitos comes anxiety—and rightfully so. Mosquitos are known to carry a host of harmful diseases, the most notable right now being the Zika virus. But is lathering up with DEET—a chemical whose safety is still called into question—the answer? I wanted to take a quick break from fermented foods to share a great article written by my friend and colleague Dr. Kesley Asplin who practices in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. In her well-researched and interesting article, she shares about the risks of mosquito-transmitted diseases, what we know about the dangers of DEET, and some effective natural alternatives. For more information on Dr. Kelsey, visit Determinant Health Naturopathic Medicine.
A Natural Alternative to DEET
During a recent camping trip in the beautiful Colorado mountains, I was reminded of just how much I dislike mosquitoes. While I can reconcile a purpose for almost all other creatures, the mosquito continues to baffle me. While the silence of the days, the thousands of stars visible in the night sky, and the smell of a campfire offer an amazing escape from city-living, I can’t help but think they’d be even more enjoyable if I wasn’t constantly whacking different areas of my body, or scratching the welts left by the little parasites that escaped my tedious surveillance. And while I did have my preferred brand of herbal-based mosquito repellent with me, it was rendered nearly useless when the pump broke, and pouring the liquid all over me became quite inefficient and wasteful.
While mosquitoes are certainly annoying, there is also a lot of fear regarding their disease transmission potential. Mosquitoes have been known to carry a host of viruses, including Zika virus, Malaria, West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, St. Louis Encephalitis, La Cross encephalitis, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, and others. Zika virus is of particular concern as of late, however according to the CDC, there have been no cases of Zika virus contracted within the United States. That being said, there have been reports of the virus being carried here from people who were bitten and infected in other countries, as well as in the US territories of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. So while there doesn’t seem to be as high of a risk of humans contracting these diseases in the United States, it certainly doesn’t hurt to act preventatively.
In 1944, the military began using a chemical during jungle warfare to ward off disease carrying mosquitoes. This chemical was called N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, and became more commonly known as “DEET” when it was introduced to commercial bug repellents in 1957. DEET has been repeatedly found to be effective at deterring mosquitoes, but there has also been some apprehension regarding its abundant use, especially in young children and pregnant and lactating women. While substantiating evidence for these areas of unease have been somewhat inconclusive, there has been some more recent research to suggest that there may actually be some cause for concern regarding DEET use.
Two studies in the last month highlight some of the potential negative side effects related to DEET exposure. One study, published in Scientific Reports, supplied evidence to suggest that DEET could stimulate endothelial cells in the body to release increased amounts of certain factors that promote angiogenesis (1) – a process by which new blood vessels are formed to supply extra nutrients to growing tissues. This is most notable, and concerning, as a critical step in the growth of tumors.The data is therefore suggestive that DEET could perpetuate tumor formation.
Another study, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, showed that when mosquitoes were exposed to DEET, it only reduced the amount of blood they ingested over 24 hours (with most of the effect lasting between 3 and 6 hours). However, it did not affect their landing and “probing” behavior (2). The concern here is that if a mosquito doesn’t suck as much blood as it normally would at the time it feeds, it is more likely to land and re-feed sooner than normal, which could result in an increase in number of bites, and therefore a potentially elevated risk of disease transmission.
DEET has also been implicated in Gulf War Syndrome, possibly as a result of it being mixed with other harmful chemicals. So while the research surrounding DEET seems to be somewhat limited, as with all chemically synthesized compounds it’s never a bad idea to exercise a bit of skepticism and caution. Regardless of research, many people still prefer to be as natural and synthetically free as possible, which usually equates to herbal or other folk remedies.
There have, in fact, been numerous studies done, mostly recent, on the mosquito repelling effects of various botanicals. This research lends support to the use of many herbal repellents including catnip (3) clove oil (4-5), makaen oil (5), Dong qui (6), geranium (7), peppermint (8), citrus (9), and others. Most of the research states that these oils produce as effective of a repelling action as DEET, often times providing complete protection for 2-5 hours.
Just two weeks ago (at the same time that I was providing sustenance for numerous mosquitoes), online media reports started blasting even more support from the CDC that lemon eucalyptus oil was just as effective as low concentrations of DEET at deterring these pesky beasts. Further inquiry on my part revealed that this comparison was actually made at a 2005 CDC press release (10), suggesting that there has been acceptance of these products as legitimate repellents for some time. As a side note for those readers who are essential oil lovers, the CDC does not recommend using pure lemon eucalyptus essential oil that hasn’t been formulated as a repellent, as it’s efficacy has not been validated. It is also important to note that Eucalyptus oil should not be applied topically (or internally) to children under the age of 3, and caution should be taken with pregnant women as well.
Clearly there are some exciting possibilities with Nature’s own home-made bug repellents, but it’s also worth considering whether some of these remedies would be regional in their effectiveness, as the mosquito populations in different regions are likely also varied in their distaste for certain odors. Regardless, it’s interesting and refreshing to know that, especially for those of us who hold a particular appeal to mosquitoes, there are numerous options available for warding them off. Once again, let’s give Mother Nature a well-deserved pat on the back and head on up to the hills.
For those interested in knowing more about the type of bug spray I prefer, it’s called Summer Survivor and was formulated by a Banff Park Ranger. I carry it for sale in my office in both a regular and extra strength form for humans, one for your canine companions, and one for your equine friends. Please feel free to call my office or email if you are interested in purchasing some.
Also, a fun little remedy I recently learned and tried with great success (for when you do get bit) – try heating a spoon under hot water and then touch the back of it to the bite. It stings for just a second but takes the itch away for hours.
(1) Legeay S, Clere N, Hilairet G, et al. The insect repellent N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide (DEET) induces angiogenesis via allosteric modulation of the M3 muscarinic receptor in endothelial cells. Scientific Reports. 2016;6:28546. doi:10.1038/srep28546.
(2) Sugiharto VA, Grieco JP, Murphy JR, et al. Effects of Preexposure to DEET on the Downstream Blood-Feeding Behaviors ofAedes aegypti(Diptera: Culicidae) Mosquitoes. Journal of Medical Entomology. June 2016. doi:10.1093/jme/tjw066.
Epublished ahead of print
(3) Gkinis G, Michaelakis A, Koliopoulos G, Ioannou E, Tzakou O, Roussis V. Evaluation of the repellent effects of Nepeta parnassica extract, essential oil, and its major nepetalactone metabolite against mosquitoes. Parasitology Research. 2014;113(3):1127-1134. doi:10.1007/s00436-013-3750-3.
Epub 2014 Jan 22
(4) Shapiro R. Prevention of Vector Transmitted Diseases With Clove Oil Insect Repellent. Journal of Pediatric Nursing. 2012;27(4):346-349. doi:10.1016/j.pedn.2011.03.011.
(5) Trongtokit Y, Rongsriyam Y, Komalamisra N, Krisadaphong P, Apiwathnasorn C. Laboratory and field trial of developing medicinal local Thai plant products against four species of mosquito vectors. The Southeast Asian journal of tropical medicine and public health. 2004;35(2):325-333. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=laboratory and field trial of developing medicinal local thai plant products against four species of mosquito vectors.
(6) Champakaew D, Junkum A, Chaithong U, et al. Assessment of Angelica sinensis (Oliv.) Diels as a repellent for personal protection against mosquitoes under laboratory and field conditions in northern Thailand. Parasites & Vectors. 2016;9(1):373. doi:10.1186/s13071-016-1650-y.
(7) Ali A, Murphy CC, Demirci B, et al. Insecticidal and biting deterrent activity of rose-scented geranium ( Pelargonium spp.) essential oils and individual compounds against Stephanitis pyrioides and Aedes aegypti. Pest Management Science. 2013;69(12):1385-1392. doi:10.1002/ps.3518.
(8) Chauhan N, Malik A, Sharma S, Dhiman RC. Larvicidal potential of essential oils against Musca domestica and Anopheles stephensi. Parasitology Research Parasitol Res. 2016;115(6):2223-2231. doi:10.1007/s00436-016-4965-x.
Epub 2016 Feb 26.
(9) Misni N, Nor ZM, Ahmad R. New Candidates for Plant-Based Repellents AgainstAedes aegypti. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association. 2016;32(2):117-123. doi:10.2987/moco-32-02-117-123.1.
(10) CDC,. Http://Www.Cdc.Gov/Media/Pressrel/R050428.Htm. 2005. Web. 13 July 2016.
Photo Courtesy of Fix.com
As some of you may know, I recently held a class on healing with fermented foods at RestorMedicine in San Diego. Teaching about cultured foods and beverages reminded me how beneficial these foods can be (and how easy they are to make). In light of this, I wanted to share some of the amazing benefits of fermented foods with you, and at the same time, bust some myths.
FANTASTIC FERMENTED FOODS
Recent research has revealed that we are more bacteria than we are human: bacterial cells outnumber human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. The vast array of bacteria that exists inside us and on us has come to be known as the microbiome. We are coming to understand scientifically that a balanced microbiome regulates the immune system, metabolism, sustains the GI tract, supports mood and brain function, produces important vitamins and nutrients, and helps us to maintain a healthy weight .
Fermented foods are cultured by a process known as lacto-fermentation: the process by which a bacteria converts carbohydrates into lactic acid and yeast coverts sugar into alcohol. Fermentation has been used for thousands of years as method of food preservation. It is a pleasant coincidence that fermentation also enhances the nutrient content of food through the action of bacteria which make the minerals in cultured foods more available and also produce vitamins and enzymes beneficial for digestion. Because the beneficial bacteria present predigests fermented foods, individuals who are lactose-intolerant may be able to consume yogurt and kefir, and making cabbage into sauerkraut or kimchi increases glucosinolate compounds believed to fight cancer.
Although fermented foods have become more commercially available, many fermented foods you buy in the supermarket have been pasteurized at high heat, killing any friendly bacteria. Fortunately, making your own fermented foods at home is easy and safe.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF FERMENTED FOODS
MYTHS ABOUT FERMENTED FOODS
For those interested in trying their hand with fermented foods at home, I will be sharing recipes for DIY fermented vegetables, kefir and kombucha in the coming weeks. Check back often for new ideas and feel free to share your questions, favorite recipes and ideas!
 Kellman, R. (2014). Why Fermented Foods Are Good for Weight Loss, Mood & Glowing Skin. Retrieved from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14758/why-fermented-foods-are-good-for-weight-loss-mood-glowing-skin.html.
 Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter. (2014). Discover the Digestive Benefits of Fermented Foods. Retrieved from:http://www.nutritionletter.tufts.edu/issues/10_2/current-articles/Discover-the-Digestive-Benefits-of-Fermented-Foods_1383-1.html.
 Gremont, L. (2012). What Are Fermented Foods? Retrieved from: http://www.homemademommy.net/2012/09/what-arefermented-foods.html.
 Scheers N et al. (2015). Increased iron bioavailability from lactic-fermented vegetables is likely an effect of promoting the formation of ferric iron (Fe). European Journal of Nutrition.
 Shewell, L. (2015). Everything you always wanted to know about fermented foods. Retrieved from:https://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/everything-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-fermented-foods/#h.1ci93xb.
 Vitetta L et al. (2014). Probiotics, prebiotics and the gastrointestinal tract in health anddisease. Inflammopharmacology 22(3):135-154.
 Kirjavainen P. et al. (2002). Aberrant composition of gut microbiota of allergic infants: a target of bifidobacterial therapy at weaning?Gut 51(1):51-55.
 Michail, S. (2009). The role of Probiotics in allergic diseases. Allergy, Asthmal & Clinical Immunology 5:5.
 Isolauri E, Arvola T, Sutas Y, Moilanen E, & Salminen S (2000). Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clinical and Experimental Allergy: Journal of the British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology 30(11):1604-1610.
 Malesky, G. (2013). More Proof That Probiotics Boost Immunity. Retrieved from: http://www.prevention.com/health/healthconcerns/more-proof-probiotics-boost-immunity.
I am really excited to be teaching this class on fermented foods at RestorMedicine in San Diego on Thursday. If you are nearby, please come join us! For those who can't make it, I will be sharing some of the recipes, tricks and tips from the class in the coming weeks on the blog. Check back often for fun with fermented food!
Dr. Elizabeth Winter practices integrative and functional medicine in San Diego, CA and sees patients from a distance via Skype. For more information about her and her practice philosophy visit About Dr. Winter.