Menstrual Cups

Guys (MEN), I’m telling you to look away right now.

The following post is about periods. So, seriously.

Go away.

If you’re still here, you’re reading at your own discretion.

Ladies: if you’re squeamish, turn away now. This post requires a bit of maturity.

Well, ladies, let’s talk about it. I can’t say there’s any one of us that loves our period.

As someone who suffers from menorrhagia, I completely empathize with all of you. Of course, I turned to tampons when I got old enough to wear them. Who didn’t? They’re so much easier, comfortable, and convenient to use. And no one wants to wear those icky pads. Walk around with blood hanging out in your pants all day? Yeah, it sucks.

Did you know that companies bleach tampons? Yeah, they do. Imagine that going in your.. you know what. Kinda gross, right?

I thought this was hilarious..

It’s also kind of gross that we continue to use these things. Because, let’s face it, what’s really happening when you use one is that it’s plugging you up. But seriously, you’re literally using it like a plug! How can this be healthy?

Short answer: it isn’t.

No one wants to go back to using the dreaded pads, and I wouldn’t recommend that you do. They’re terrible. What do I recommend instead?

I recommend using a cup.

A sampling of some of the menstrual cups offered

GASP! WHAT’S A CUP?! What is this thing?! There’s another option?

Yes, there is another option: a menstrual cup. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a flexible cup that can bend to your body’s unique shape.

I really do talk to all of my friends about my cup because I love it. It has literally changed my life, and I can’t imagine my life without one now.

Does it work? I have been using the cup for almost a year and it has never failed me unless I put it in wrong. That is, it’s my own fault that it doesn’t work.

Will it hold all my.. stuff? Yes, it will hold a significant amount of blood. I used to use 3 super plus tampons per day, and I can go all day without changing my cup.

Is it easy to use? It is once you get the hang of it. I won’t lie, when you first get the cup, there is a huge learning curve. You have to be comfortable touching yourself. You have to be patient. You have to learn not to freak out when it won’t come out (but don’t worry; it will come out!). Instead of worrying about my period all day, I simply change and wash it every morning in the shower and right before I go to bed – super simple. PS: you can wash it with a very common wash.

I’m intrigued. Where can I get one? Well, let’s talk about this question for a second. There are many, many menstrual cup companies out there to try. Of course, none of them are advertised on TV because the cup can last up to 10 years with proper care. The cost upfront is a bit steep; but if you think about it, you’ll be getting your money’s worth back within a few months.

Yes, you CAN save HUNDRED of dollars a year

Alright, now that that’s out of the way: let’s talk about a few aspects of the cup you need to consider:

Have you had a child? YES! This is a HUGE question to be asking yourself. The vaginal walls of a woman who has had a child are way different than those of one who hasn’t.

What kind of pliability do you need or want? Some of the cups are more “flexible,” while some are more “stiff.”

How do you want to pull your cup out? Some are built with a stem in, while others have a “knob” on the bottom. This is a preference, really. You’ll use whatever is on the bottom to pull it out.

What color do you want? No, seriously, this is a real question. There are some amazing colors out there.

There are many, many websites that can help you choose a cup. Here is one of them.

A nifty chart to help you pick a good cup

I was really lucky. I bought a Lunette and was in love from the moment I used it. I can only offer some advice if you decide to get one:

  • If you get one with a stem and don’t like the length, cut it.
  • You’ll find a position (and fold) of insertion that is most comfortable for you. I prefer the C-fold in a squat position. There are endless amounts of folds you can use to insert your menstrual cup comfortably. Here is a video of 9 of them.
  • To get the cup to pop open (you WILL hear it “POP”), twist it. The easiest way to do this is butt in the air, head to the floor – trust me. You have the greatest width (in the you know what) this way.
  • Don’t freak out if the cup doesn’t come out. It’s NOT going anywhere. You probably just need a better grip on it (and you need to relax). If you don’t relax, you’re guaranteed to be tensing the vaginal muscles that are holding it in place. Just pull it until you can grab the bottom of where the stem is. This gets better with practice, I promise.
  • Take the cup out when you’re in the shower or when you’re sitting on the toilet. I’ve never dropped my cup, but you’ll want to have a place to pour it out immediately.
  • If you need to rinse in a public bathroom, use a bottle of water.
  • Don’t wash the cup in warm water – use cold water ONLY! It will stain in warm water.
  • If you do get stains, don’t fret. Your cup isn’t ruined. Soak it in a 3% hydrogen-peroxide solution for 8 hours.

Menstrual cups are awesome. They really are. It freaked me out when I thought of the chemicals the tampon companies might be putting on their products. It’s evident that they are, though, since some companies advertise that they’re selling unbleached tampons. The best thing about menstrual cups, though, is that they’re environmentally friendly. Yup, no more wasting paper and cotton in the trash.

What do you think, ladies? Would you get a cup? Is there anyone out there who has one?

Advertisements

Vegetables by Spongebob Squarepants

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The following is a guest post from everyone’s favorite character, Spongebob. What’s so great about Spongebob? Well, he’s relentlessly optimistic, and he’s always upbeat. Who better to write on a subject everyone hates (vegetables) than Spongebob? Spongebob takes us through the ringer with how to make them tasty. (HT: Idiot Nerd Girl)

Hey guys, Spongebob here!

Spongebob

Patrick was just telling me how much he hates vegetables. HATES THEM!

Patrick

Can you believe that? Right, Gary?

Gary?

Hello, Gary?

Where is that mollusk?

Well, anyway.

How great are vegetables?

Aren’t vegetables so tasty?

Come on guys, I want to hear it! Tell me how great vegetables are! TELL ME!

I bet even Squidward likes vegetables. Of course, we’ll just ask mini-Squidward, since Squidward told me today is opposite day. Mini-Squidward, aren’t vegetables delicious?!

“Right, Spongebob!”

I could sing a song about how great vegetables are. They’re so good for you!

I love my vegetables. I eat them three times a day. I even eat vegetables in my sleep!

Some people say they don’t like vegetables, can you believe it? Vegetables are so dreamy. They’re colorful, delicious, and yummy. Sometimes, I even sleep with my vegetables.

I know some awesome ways to prepare them.

Bake ‘em

Ahhh, baking. I love baking. I LOOOOOVE BAKING! Sometimes, I’ll bake our krabby patties but don’t tell Mr. Krabs!

Did you know that you can bake vegetables? Yes! It makes them softer. Good vegetables to bake include brussel sprouts, asparagus, green beans, and of course, krabby patties. Krabby patties are a vegetable, right? Actually, any vegetable is bake-able, haha!

What’s so great about baking, you ask?! It makes the vegetables soft. Mmmm, so soft and tasty. Then, you can finish it off on the stovetop with a little oil and salt. Yummy!

Pan-fry ‘em

Stovetop frying is how we usually make our patties, but even I don’t have a stovetop at home. You can use a pan for this! I loooove pan-frying my vegetables because it reminds me of cooking patties! Just heat up the pan, put a little oil in the bottom, put your veggies in, and brown ‘em on all sides! Deeeee-licious!

Krabby patties are the BEST!

Dip ‘em

What better way to enjoy beautiful vegetables than to dip them in some sauce?! I love dipping my vegetables in some honey mustard or Krabby sauce. Did you know that Krabby sauce is the BEST sauce in the world? Yup. Well, you can just substitute for your favorite sauce, though I doubt it’ll be as good as mine, hehehe!

Salt ‘em

There’s nothing better than some salt, yum yum! Mmm, mmm, mmm! Salt brings out flavor profiles that weren’t there before. It makes the vegetables taste WAYYYY different and YUMM-Y! A very, very yummy different, of course. You could add a little pepper to them, too, but salt is my favorite!

Smother ‘em

Remember that time I smothered my krabby patty in jellyfish sauce?

Jellyfish jelly

Man, did that take off. Well, you can take this same idea and use it with vegetables! Just smother them in butter, Italian dressing, maybe add some krabby patties on top.. Just sayin’!

Well guys, I hope I’ve turned those frowns upside down in the name of vegetables! And, I hope you learned that krabby patties and vegetables are one in the same. Let me know your favorite way of eating your vegetables. Maybe we can even have a vegetable party! I’ll get Gary to plan it because he’s good at that kind of stuff.

Natural Deodorant AKA Smell-All-the-Time Deodorant

Back when I got my DNA test, I tested ridiculously high for zirconium. We’re talking off-the-charts high. The doctor told me I needed to fix this immediately. For some reason, my body was hoarding zirconium. Well, what’s it in? It’s in antiperspirant.

So here I am, for the second year in a row, trying to switch to natural deodorant. Why do I always do this when the weather gets warmer? Of course, I sweat more when it gets warmer, and it smells gross. But, I had no choice. So, I went on a natural deodorant spree.

Kris Carr has an excellent post on natural deodorants. Kris explains all of the chemicals you find in antiperspirants, why they’re bad, why you sweat, how sweating works, etc. Basically, it’s everything you’d ever want to know about, well, your pits.

The problem with natural deodorant is that you have to find something that works with you. And, yeah, it’s really difficult. And expensive. But mainly difficult. Oh, and did I mention how expensive it is?

I must come from ancestors who didn’t sweat. Maybe they lived in Antarctica. When I sweat, it smells bad. This is coming from someone who eats a whole foods based diet. I don’t eat processed foods. I use soaps with minimal ingredients. I just have really, really smelly sebaceous glands (stinky sweat glands). Of course, maybe I also have some kind of overload of bacteria (check our Kris’ post if you have no idea what in the world I’m talking about).

It goes something like this: Brittany forgets to put on deodorant in the morning. Twenty minutes after leaving the house, Brittany realizes her mistake when she raises her arm to do something. Brittany panics. Now she can’t lift her arms FOR THE ENTIRE DAY!

Before taking on the oh-so-awesome world of natural deodorants, I used Degree’s Clinical Strength antiperspirant. This was the only deodorant that worked for me. YES, THAT IS HOW BAD I SMELL! I had to use clinical strength, people.

Image via

Image via

Alright. So, we understand now: I smell bad. Let’s review some products I’ve tried. I’m going to give some ratings on a 1-10 scale (10 is best or AMAZING, 1 is worst or SUCKY).

Crystal

Image via

Image via

I have no idea what the big deal is about this stuff. Everyone is so hyped on it. Frankly, it sucks, and it’s really, really annoying to put on. Because it’s like a dry roll-on, you have to have a wet surface to put it onto, or it doesn’t do anything. They also make a spray, but trust me, it’s just as bad. In fact, I think I ended up with more deodorant spray on my feet (because it drips after it has been sprayed) than on my pits. And, I smelled after about 30 minutes.

Ease of use: 1/10
Smell: 5/10
Time lasted: 1/10

Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting

Image via

Image via

More like not-lasting deodorant. While this actually smells pretty good, it hardly did anything for me. I had to reapply about 50 times throughout the day, and it just wasn’t worth it. Every time I sweated, the product seemed to go away, and I would have to reapply. Of course, it’s a stick, so it’s easy to use.

Ease of use: 10/10
Smell: 9/10
Time lasted: 1/10

Kiss My Face Active Life

Image via

Image via

Out of all the deodorants, I hated this one the most. Why? It gave me rashes under my arms. My skin was literally peeling like a sunburn! It’s a shame because it smells relatively good. Not that it lasted a long time, anyway. And, it’s a stick, so it was easy to use. Seriously, though, I’d avoid this deodorant.

Ease of use: 10/10
Smell: 9/10
Time lasted: 1/10

Alba Botanica Clear Enzyme

Image via

Image via

I really wanted to like this deodorant. Alba Botanica is a great company, in my opinion, and they always make their labels friendly to read. But, the deodorant just didn’t last. It’s purely unscented, which is good, but it can’t beat how long it didn’t last. Too bad. It was so easy to apply.

Ease of use: 10/10
Smell: 10/10
Time lasted: 1/10

Herban Cowboy Blossom

Image via

Image via

This deodorant smells AMAZING! I was so excited when I first took the cap off to smell it. It smells.. clean. Blossomy. Fresh. Like a regular deodorant stick. Super easy to use because it is a deodorant stick. Not long-lasting, though. I had to reapply several times throughout the day.

Ease of use: 10/10
Smell: 10/10
Time lasted: 4/10

Lavanila Grapefruit

Image via

Image via

A friend on Facebook recommended I try Lavanila after I whined about my stinky woes. I was skeptical. It’s $14 on Amazon, but I figured what the heck, I’ve already spent about $75 trying other deodorants. When my package came in the mail, I didn’t know what to expect. I opened the box and took the container out. Can I just say I love the container? It’s weird. It’s round, different, and fun. But when I took that top off, my god. I was in heaven. It has an oddly alluring musky fruity smell. The smell itself is actually addicting. A week later, I still take the cap off to smell it. Yeah, that’s weird, sorry. Imagine my surprise when the deodorant lasted all day. ALL. DAY. All day people. I couldn’t believe it. The trick with this deodorant is to apply about 20 strokes to each arm.

Ease of use: 10/10
Smell: 2,000/10
Time lasted: 10/10

While everyone is different, no other natural deodorant has as many positive reviews as Lavanila. If you’re going to give a natural deodorant a try, try Lavanila.

Forgive my sweats people, but I’ve found a natural deodorant I love.

If you’d like to try any of these deodorants, just click the “via” beneath the image. It will take you to the Amazon page for the product!

Adrenal Fatigue

Most people know that they have adrenal glands.

But what do they do?! you’re wondering.

And what’s this adrenal fatigue stuff I keep seeing Brittany post? It’s really annoying. I have no idea what she’s talking about!

Adrenal fatigue:

Adrenal fatigue is a collection of signs and symptoms, known as a syndrome, that results when the adrenal glands function below the necessary level. Most commonly associated with intense or prolonged stress, it can also arise during or after acute or chronic infections, especially respiratory infections such as influenza, bronchitis or pneumonia. As the name suggests, its paramount symptom is fatigue that is not relieved by sleep but it is not a readily identifiable entity like measles or a growth on the end of your finger. You may look and act relatively normal with adrenal fatigue and may not have any obvious signs of physical illness, yet you live with a general sense of unwellness, tiredness or “gray” feelings. People experiencing adrenal fatigue often have to use coffee, colas and other stimulants to get going in the morning and to prop themselves up during the day.

That’s a mouthful. Let’s break it down.

What are the adrenal glands?

The adrenal glands are a small organ, and they’re a pair. You have two adrenals: one attached to each kidney.

Adrenals via UVA Health

The adrenal glands
via UVA Health

What do the adrenals do?

The adrenals secrete hormones, so it’s literally impossible without immediate medical care to live without them. Hormones feed the body, much like how we feed our bodies when we eat. We can’t live without food, and our bodies can’t live without hormones. The adrenals secrete a very important hormone: cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone. It helps to identify cortisol as a player in the “fight or flight” feeling we sometimes get. So, when you’re under stress, your adrenals secrete cortisol. In addition to cortisol, the glands release aldosterone, which controls blood pressure, and androgens and estrogen, which are sex hormones.

Recap: the adrenals support energy production in the body, particularly the digestion of foods.

What does cortisol do?

Cortisol is very important in the body. According to the American Association of Endocrine Surgeons:

Cortisol, a steroid, has three main functions. It causes the liver to produce sugar and causes break down of muscle and fat to create this sugar. Cortisol also helps the body regulate its response to stress. Lastly, cortisol decreases inflammation and decreases the immune system response. Excess steroids can lead to Cushing’s syndrome, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, weak muscles, characteristic bodily changes, and brittle bones.

Obviously, cortisol is important. You do need to produce cortisol, since it has so many functions in the body. It only becomes a problem when cortisol is consistently elevated.

Recap: cortisol normalizes blood sugar, controls the immune system, and regulates how the body deals with stress. Cortisol maintained at high levels is bad, bad, bad.

Why is this all so important?

It sounds great, but there are problems with maintaining high levels of cortisol. Cortisol isn’t meant to be released all of the time; we’re meant to have periods of relaxation. If you think about our ancestors, they were probably only really concerned when they were threatened in some way, enabling their fight or flight.

Let’s imagine our daily lives filled with stress. We put so much on our plate, so to speak, because we think we have the ability and technology to do so now. Jobs are more demanding; kids are demanding; school is demanding; life is demanding.

Let’s recap. I drew you guys this nifty diagram. The arrows represent the amount of cortisol released. The end result is how your body is feeling. You could view this as the amount of stress your body is feeling.

cortisolWhat happens when I have elevated cortisol levels for a long time?

Elevated cortisol levels result in adrenal fatigue, hence the very unhappy face in the diagram above. Maintaining elevated levels of cortisol has a whole list of negative side effects for the body, one of them includes fatigue. In addition to some of the excess cortisol effects listed above, elevated cortisol levels can lead to weight gain around the gut, depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy. It can also affect your metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Translation: your body doesn’t work like it’s supposed to.

Basically, your adrenals break. But! Don’t worry: with proper, natural care, they can be healed.

Do I have adrenal fatigue?

Maybe. How do you know? Doctors are very skeptical about “adrenal fatigue.” Most haven’t considered it a problem. Take me, for example; I’ve seen so many doctors and endocrinologists who tell me I’m perfectly healthy, even though I feel tired all the time. The last time I was there, the doctor I was seeing literally said to me, “There’s nothing wrong with you. Your blood work shows nothing. You’re fine. I have no idea why you’re tired. If I think of anything, I’ll call you.” I left with no answers. That was the last time I saw a Western doctor.

This article has a list that fits me perfectly (I now know I have adrenal fatigue, since the DNA test). If this sounds like you, you most likely have adrenal fatigue:

  • Morning fatigue — You don’t really seem to “wake up” until 10 a.m., even if you’ve been awake since 7 a.m.
  • Afternoon “low” (feelings of sleepiness or clouded thinking) from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • Burst of energy at 6 p.m. — You finally feel better from your afternoon lull.
  • Sleepiness at 9 to 10 p.m. — However, you resist going to sleep.
  • “Second wind” at 11 p.m. that lasts until about 1 a.m., when you finally go to sleep.
  • Cravings for foods high in salt and fat
  • Increased PMS or menopausal symptoms
  • Mild depression
  • Lack of energy
  • Decreased ability to handle stress
  • Muscular weakness
  • Increased allergies
  • Lightheadedness when getting up from a sitting or laying down position
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Frequent sighing
  • Inability to handle foods high in potassium or carbohydrates unless they’re combined with fats and protein

How do I heal adrenal fatigue?

Healing adrenal fatigue takes time, patience, and a lot of listening to your body. Most importantly, one needs to eliminate stress.

Again, this article has some great ideas for reducing stress and healing adrenal fatigue:

  • Adopting a natural whole-foods diet
  • Avoiding junk food
  • Drinking high quality water, not from the tap. Distilled or spring waters are best
  • Eating five to six servings of vegetables each day through juicing or adding them to meals
  • Avoiding white flour and other processed grains
  • Adding sea salt to your diet, replacing your table salt
  • Taking 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of vitamin C each day
  • Taking a high strength B-complex supplement
  • Taking high quality fish oils
  • Adding licorice root extract and kelp to your diet
  • Doing a detox and using an infra red sauna
  • Replacing toxic chemical products used around the house with non-toxic alternatives
  • Spending some time in the sun each day
  • Doing something fun each day
  • Getting lots of rest
  • Laughing
  • Exercising
  • Minimizing stress
  • Taking negative people out of your life

Final thoughts:

It’s important to remember how the body works: all of the processes in your body interact with each other. It’s imperative to keep all of these processes working correctly. The adrenals are one of the most important organs in your body. Taking care of them sooner rather than later is paramount. We all get stressed, but avoiding stress is important in order to maintain good health and live a long life. Maybe Western medicine will begin to view the adrenals as important, but for now, take the advice of other people: reduce your stress!

What’s a Manganese?

Per my past posts, many of you know that I’ve been experiencing severe fatigue. So bad. It’s been chronic fatigue. Kind of like kill me now fatigue.

After my DNA test, I found out I was deficient in manganese, so I began supplementing for it. I could not BELIEVE the amount of energy I had! It was like WHAAAATTT! I mean people HAVE this kind of energy? THAT’S AMAZING! I had even more energy, more focus, and more drive than I have had in the past 5 years. I cleaned my room, my bathroom, and the kitchen; wrote a 7 page paper; went grocery shopping; and read nearly 80 pages of material for one of my classes in one day.

Can you believe I did ALL of that in one day? I KNOW! It’s amazing! And for those of you thinking “Uh, so what?” Psh, well, back up there. You probably have no idea what it’s like to experience fatigue like I’ve had.

But, it got me to thinking.. What exactly is manganese? The simple answer is a mineral, but I wanted to know more. And! Here we are. Discussing manganese, of course.

What is it?

Found mostly in bones, the liver, kidneys, and the pancreas, manganese is a trace mineral in the body.

What does it do?

According to The University of Maryland Medical Center, manganese “helps the body form connective tissues, bones, blood clotting factors, and sex hormones. It also plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function.” In addition, manganese can help protect against free radicals (free radicals destroy DNA and other cells in your body).

What about the dosage?

According to WebMD, the dosages are widespread depending on the age group. There is no recommended daily allowance for manganese, so it is best to follow the adequate intake and keep below the upper intake level of your age group. For me, this means no  more than 11mg a day.

What foods does it come from?

You can get manganese from nuts, seeds, pineapple, beans, spinach, and sweet potatoes. The typical American diet lacks a lot of these whole food sources of manganese because a processed foods diet is typically followed.

What are some deficiency symptoms?

Deficiency symptoms include impaired glucose tolerance, altered carbohydrate and fat metabolism, stunted growth, elevated blood calcium, infertility, weakness, nausea, dizziness, hearing loss, iron-deficiency anemia, weak hair and nails, and convulsions.

What happens if I take too much?

According to Oregon State, Ingested manganese has been associated with neurological symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease. However, this was found in people who had high manganese intakes from drinking water. One case included a person who had been taking large amounts of manganese supplements for years.

So, what’s the verdict?

While everyone is different, manganese is an important mineral to include in your diet. The best place to get manganese is from whole food sources including nuts and seeds, as well as the foods listed above. It’s important to remember that vitamins and minerals play a role with each other in the body. It may be that my manganese levels were causing some other vitamin or mineral to be off (actually, in my case, I had extremely elevated blood calcium). There’s no need to supplement for it if you’re not deficient, and there is certainly no reason to supplement if you’re not experiencing any deficiency symptoms.

Let’s Talk about Research

Recently, I read this article about the paleo diet. (HT: Madwoman with a Laptop)

And, well, I’m kind of upset. Kind of. Why am I upset, you ask?

This person clearly didn’t do their research before posting their “drawback” area (which really surprises me because I see this person is a RD):

Despite the emphasis on very healthy foods, the Paleo diet has a few drawbacks or potential areas for misinterpretation. For one, the diet is heavily reliant on meat, and meat today isn’t as lean as it was thousands of years ago. Domesticated animals are sometimes stuffed with food and given little room to move resulting in fatty cuts of meat. In addition, adopting a diet from ancient times, when the average lifespan was in the 20s, seems less than appealing when one considers the average lifespan of today, which is in large part due to the eradication of nutrient-deficiency thanks to fortified foods and dietary supplements. The Paleo diet falls short on some of these micronutrients, namely calcium and vitamin D.

Hold up. Before I go on, let me say: this person is definitely right about some things. The paleo diet is quite dependent upon meat. However, the paleo diet stresses that you should eat grass-fed, lean meat. In fact, the first thing you should be eating is (dirt cheap) organ meat from (from grass-fed sources). But, there is also a heavy emphasis on eating fish. The Paleo Mom created a list of the best meats to eat, which is very helpful when grocery shopping. It’s not like we eat prime rib every night and call it a day. I mean come on.

Salmon. Image courtesy Today's Parent.

Salmon.
Image courtesy Today’s Parent.

Let’s talk about the second point: eating a diet that fed people who only lived into their 20s. This is a very unfair comparison. We live in a time that emphasizes modern medicine. People used to die from things such as measles, which can now be prevented. You can’t compare modern, scientific times to the paleolithic age. Sure, you could if you never got vaccinated, never used the hospital, and never saw a Western doctor EVER; but, these things are very, very unlikely. The Tylenol that you take when you get the flu to lower your fever never existed thousands of years ago. Humans have taken technology and used it to expand the lifespan of the average person. Even 50 years ago, people were not living as long as they are today. Case in point: this isn’t a good argument, and actually, it’s completely invalid.

Now, onto the point that made me more than a little upset: the paleo diet lacks intake of “micronutrients,” specifically vitamin D and calcium. Well, I have to make a correction. Vitamin D is actually not a micronutrient. It’s a vitamin. Anyway, this claim is so untrue it’s not even funny.

First, let’s address how vitamin D is made in the body. You’ve probably heard that vitamin D is made from exposure to sunlight. Sunlight hits the skin, causes a chemical reaction, and voila! You have vitamin D in your body. Of course, the process is much more complicated than that; but, that’s the main gist.

Sunlight. Image courtesy Network Vitality Center.

Sunlight. It does a body good.
Image courtesy Network Vitality Center.

“But Brittany,” you protest, “if it’s as simple as getting sunlight, how are so many people vitamin D deficient?”

My first suggestion would be to look at how much time you actually spend outside without sunscreen. Of course, this also depends on your skin tone. If you have a lighter skin tone, you probably only need 15-20 minutes of sun exposure a day; darker tones may need a bit more. The second thing to look at is your overall diet. Are you including fish? Fish is the main source of vitamin D in the paleo diet. Of course, if you don’t eat fish, you could supplement for it; but, as stated above, fish is important to add to the diet because it’s an important meat source.

I’ve never supplemented for vitamin D, and I’ve never been deficient.

I started with vitamin D first because it’s important for the micronutrient calcium.

While our bodies can make vitamin D, we can’t make calcium. Calcium has to be absorbed through foods. Vitamin D is the vitamin that allows the body to absorb calcium. So, if you’re vitamin D deficient, you are likely calcium deficient, too. It’s highly recommended that paleos eat sardines because they contain a lot of calcium, but there are a lot of paleos who eat dairy (beep beep, paleo police!), which is a HUGE source of calcium. Yes, it’s true: many, many paleos eat dairy because they tolerate it. That dairy is, of course, grass-fed dairy.

The lesson here: do your research before you post. Provide links with your evidence. Know what you’re talking about. Research is important and imperative.

Another note on research: I’ve been reading Chris Kresser’s quite interesting and informative article about the so-called benefits of supplementing with calcium. He writes:

Yet the evidence that calcium supplementation strengthens the bones and teeth was never strong to begin with, and has grown weaker with new research published in the past few years. A 2012 analysis of NHANES data found that consuming a high intake of calcium beyond the recommended dietary allowance, typically from supplementation, provided no benefit for hip or lumbar vertebral bone mineral density in older adults.

Here’s my thoughts, ladies and gents: do outside research on everything that goes into your body. If it’s published by the government, skip it. If it seems to have an undertone of selling you something, skip it. These people have their own agenda. They have their own companies to think and worry about. They don’t care about you as people; they care about money. Look for independent research. Look for research done by someone who’s not getting paid to sell you something. Research, research, research until you die.

So, What Exactly DO You Eat?

I get questions all the time: “What do you eat?” “How many calories do you consume?” “Like.. no bread? How is that even possible?”

Let me preface by saying: I don’t count calories. Ever.

I know I just blew your mind. You’re probably thinking, “WTF??!! No, you’re on a diet. You count calories.” Wellllll, no. I don’t. I just don’t care to because it’s way too time consuming for me. I eat when I’m hungry, and usually, I eat what I want to eat. I go through periods when I eat way more fruit than I should and that’s okay.

My meals mostly consist of proteins and vegetables, as well as some type of fat (lately, it has been olive oil). Though, on my long days at school, I sometimes have yogurt, nuts, or fruit (or all three).

When you look at my meals, you may think, “Holy crap, that’s a lot of vegetables! Are you crazy with those vegetables?” and yes, it’s mainly a vegetable filled plate; those vegetables are always cooked in fat or oil. This is because the feeling of fullness generally disappears on the paleo diet as you cut out carbs. A large consumption of fat is necessary for the feeling of satiety. Fat is not bad for you. Mark from Mark’s Daily Apple notes that it isn’t fat causing atherosclerosis (thickening of the artery walls) but oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol).

In order to feel full, I listen to my body. It usually goes like this:

Brittany, I’m craving some brussel sprouts.

To which I’ll say, “By golly, I should make some brussel sprouts in olive oil!”

Does my body want protein? Then, I’ll have a protein filled plate. Does it want veggies? Fruit? I don’t deprive my body of what it’s telling me it wants, and I think this is a huge reason this diet has been a success.

I’ll eat what I want, thanks! You ain’t the boss of ME!

Brussel sprouts, asparagus, & grass-fed beef

Brussel sprouts, asparagus, & grass-fed beef

Here is a meal I ate the other day (I’m on a huge brussel sprout kick right now). I was feeling incredibly hungry, so I added a lot of veggies (cooked in olive oil) to my plate. Notice that I didn’t cut the fat off the beef. First of all, I think fat is delicious. Second, it’s great for you, as we’ve established.

Typical breakfast: eggs, brussel sprouts, green beans, oranges, and coffee

Typical breakfast: eggs, brussel sprouts, green beans, oranges, and coffee. Not pictured: morning smoothie.

Morning smoothie: 1 cup swiss chard or spinach, 1 banana, 1 handful raspberries, 5 strawberries, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon green matcha

Morning smoothie: 1 cup swiss chard or spinach, 1 banana, 1 handful raspberries, 5 strawberries, 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil, 1 tablespoon green matcha

The above is my typical breakfast: protein, vegetables, and fruit. Coconut oil (in my smoothie) is ohhhh my god so good for your skin and health in general. Coconut oil has medium-chain triglycerides; MCTs are “easily digested, absorbed, and put to use nourishing the body.”

A typical lunch at home (the salad was a bonus)

A typical lunch at home (the salad was a bonus). Turkey andouille sausage, brussel sprouts, asparagus, and a raw vegetable salad.

At home, I have protein and vegetables for lunch. I had a “bonus” salad because I went to the store. A majority of the salad dressing is made from olive oil. Olive oil is my favorite oil to use because it reduces oxidized LDL (the bad cholesterol) and helps raise HDL (the good cholesterol).

It may look like my diet doesn’t vary very much, but it actually does. I’m just on a huge brussel sprout and asparagus kick lately. I’m not perfect; I don’t always have a protein for lunch. Or, I may have a few more brazil nuts than I should. GASP! It all depends on what my body is asking for.

Are you afraid of fat? Do you cook with fats or oils? If so, what kind do you use?

Edit: if you’re looking for good apps to use to track your diet, check out Unwilling Vegan’s post entitled “A Day in the Life of a College Vegan.”