GETTING DOWN TO THE WIRE!

JG-My-HOpe-For-Health-BWOn this day of Thanksgiving I want to reach out and thank all of you–in the most heartfelt possible way— who have contributed monetarily to this profoundly worthy cause following my last article where I introduced Kama Trudgen and the nine women seeking to transform their own health and the health of their Yolngu community. Both Kama and the women in her care are deeply moved by the outpouring of support they are receiving from all of you. To them, this is a beautiful miracle—but they are still short of their essential monetary goal to make their humble need (and dream) a reality.

The Australian Indigenous Health Project launched by Kama and her husband, Tim has already raised just over $41,000 in donations from caring people, but this is still short of the $54,000 needed in order for ALL these deserving and health-challenged women to receive the help they need. They have just 11 days to reach this goal now and time is rapidly ticking…

Keep in mind, that these women are not asking for any sort of “handout”, but instead for an opportunity to create real, foundational self-empowerment. Lives are literally at stake in a very real way in this, and quite possibly the very future survival of other similarly suffering Aboriginal people groups throughout Australia who have a real potential to benefit from the success this project can offer. It is an opportunity for all of us to help right a grievous wrong and potentially even inspire indigenous people groups everywhere if this program is successful and the news of that is allowed to spread far and wide (which I will personally see to, to the extent I can).

There is also a very real urgency in all of this, as more people in the community are succumbing as I write this to entirely preventable ill health and even death—even since my earlier blog post a few days ago! My most recent email from Kama had this to say:

“I am trying to support these incredible ladies on a journey to rediscover their health, but along the way many of their very close family members have died. This is so heartbreaking, as it is often from preventable diseases that these guys are only just coming to understand. They have such a beautiful vision to help their community, but they are not there yet, and it is too late for many people that we love. It makes it feel very urgent, but at the same time nothing moves very quickly at all, which is a challenging tension. Of the three ladies who have worked most closely with me, one is now caring for her Dad who has recently been diagnosed with cancer, one recently buried her husband, and the other her youngest sister died suddenly and unexpectedly a few months ago from a stroke, leaving behind a little son not much older than Eli. The funeral is only just about to start next week- as there is a queue of constant funerals here. Pretty depressing stuff, but the reality here…”

It is impossible for any of us to fathom the intense grief and pain these women live with as an ongoing daily reality. And it doesn’t have to be this way! WE can actually do something about it!

Some people ask the question Why the need to go anywhere? Why not simply do all this right where they are?

Kama is not paid to do the work she is doing (nor is she asking to be—regardless of how deserving she obviously is) and resources in Galiwin’ku are severely limited. Also, Kama herself has a two-year-old son and many other personal and community responsibilities, making it impossible for her to single-handedly simply create some kind of health retreat locally on her own from scratch with zero available infrastructure. Eventually, creating a local educational/health center run by and for this community is the goal– but first these women need to come to some measure of restoration of their own compromised health before they can hope to spread health to the rest of their community. That is why their traveling to this health retreat is so critical. As Kama rightfully points out:You cannot expect the people who need the retreat themselves to be able to build it. They need to be empowered first to have the knowledge and skills to create it for their community.” 

Kama went on to more optimistically share:

“We are now well past our tipping point, which means THIS IS HAPPENING!! We are super excited!! We have enough funds (at least to start) and that means we can go ahead with a smaller group. But we still hope to take the whole group along to Living Valley Springs, so that they can support each other, build knowledge, and be a strong transformative force when they return to Galiwin’ku. The more women we can take the stronger the foundation of this work.”

They are less than $13,000 away from reaching the goal that will allow all of these deserving women to take the next critical step in their healing, but time is running out—in more ways than one. Compared to many other worthwhile charities, the amount of money that is being sought here is minute— especially considering the very real life-and-death difference it will make. And it IS reachable!

As soon as I finish writing this post my plan is to go back to the Hope for Health site and contribute yet again. I am hoping many of you are willing and/or able to follow suit and do the same. If everyone my earlier post reached would have contributed just $10 we would have already far-exceeded the goal. Your moral support and heartfelt positive intentions are deeply appreciated and needed here— but the unfortunate bottom line, real-world practical need right now is money.

If there is any possibility at all that you can contribute more to this beautiful, life-saving cause, here is the link yet again:

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THANK YOU!

~ Nora

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The Australian Indigenous Health Project

Some-of-the-ladies-being-cheeky-Groupshot-HFHMany of you reading this know, I spent the month of July touring throughout Australia on what was called The Paleo Way tour. Following the tour I had the extraordinary privilege to spend some quality time in Australia’s Outback— more specifically, Uluru.

Uluru was at one time referred to as Ayers rock, but then rightfully renamed with its original name given by its original stewards, the Aṉaŋu people. I wrote more about my time in the Outback in my last blog post.

While there I saw a great many Aboriginal people. Many were simply going about their business, shopping in the local market and traveling to and from the local village where they live (off limits to tourists), called Mutitjulu. Others actually work in tandem with the Park service, functioning as expert guides and/or providing education about the history and way of life of their people. Others still are fortunate enough to be artistically gifted and sell their wares (mostly paintings, baskets and carvings) throughout the park where tourists frequent. Few are entirely fluent in English, and those that do speak English often mix their native tongue in with English words in a way that makes it very hard to have an easy conversation. The Aṉaŋu guides working for the Park service seemed to me to be the most readily fluent.

The state of health among Australia’s Aboriginal population that I was able to witness was beyond deplorable. Obesity there is virtually ubiquitous and I watched many individuals walking with considerable difficulty simply because of this. Many are missing multiple teeth. Never have I seen a more blunt example of “manifest destiny’s” fait accompli. The local grocery market is overflowing with anything but that which I would personally identify as “food”. There was little recognizable happiness in the faces of many of the Aboriginal people that I encountered, and it was plain to see just how different their lives must be compared to the time (while many were still living off the land) when Weston Price visited these communities in the 1930’s. Back then; Dr. Price was overwhelmingly impressed with the health, strength and vigor of the Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal ManPhoto of an Australian Aboriginal man, circa 1901
Aboriginal hunter1922 photograph of an Aboriginal hunter (from the National Museum of Australia)

 

For as long as I can remember, I have felt a love, passion and special allegiance for indigenous cultures. I have been passionate about what they knew that could teach us more about who and what we are—and also how to live in sustainable symbiosis with the world around us. When I first arrived at the mode of thinking I now passionately promote about diet and health from an evolutionary perspective, I immediately recognized that the population that would stand to benefit most from this information would be indigenous people groups. It has been a bit of a dream of mine to find a way to share some of this information with people groups who we modern Europeans owe the most (and whose traditional history and spiritual wisdom means so much to me).

As far as I’m concerned, the deepest genocide committed by European encroachment upon native aboriginal people groups throughout the world was not by guns— but through food. There can be no faster way to conquer and destroy a people than through drugging them with nutrient- and spiritually-devoid, addictive foods (and food-like substances) and simultaneously destroying their health. Traditionally, all indigenous peoples recognized the inherent sacred connection between themselves and the animals they hunted and accepted the meat from their hunts as a sacrament of power. The famous Lakota holy man, Black Elk once aptly commented on the white man’s food. When he saw the sad and passively resigned state of the livestock white men casually slaughtered for food he commented, “How can there be any power in a food like that?” —Little did he know what else was coming. His heart would have shattered.

A REMARKABLE CONNECTION – SERENDIPITY!

A remarkable connection

A trained medical doctor named Kama Trudgen (pictured above, on left) recently contacted me. She lives in a remote Indigenous Community in North East Arnhem Land, Australia. The particular Aboriginal people group she works with there are the Yolngu. She was representing a program she helped create called “The Australian Indigenous Health Project”. She knew of my work speaking in Australia about nutrition from an evolutionary perspective she shares and decided to reach out. I’m so glad she did!

She said, “I did some reading about your work, and it just felt like your approach and ideas were consistent with what we are doing, and that you would understand this and might connect with it!” She also said, “It feels like everyone is still caught in the low fat paradigm, and its killing people, especially here!”

After acknowledging our common ground she proceeded to tell me her story. Here it is, in her own truly inspired, and eloquent words:

“I am trained as a medical doctor, and am now doing additional studies in Natural Medicine/Nutrition, where my real passion lies. My husband and I do community development work here, and we have had the unexpected joy of stumbling upon an incredible breakthrough of Hope for the Health of this community.

After my hospital years I got halfway through general practice training, and was working in an Aboriginal Medical Centre in Darwin, and my husband was doing consultancy work in Arnhem Land, and we realised we both needed to get outside the system to be able to meet people where they were at and come alongside them. So we left our nice secure jobs and started this work…

My husband and I moved to Galiwin’ku five years ago to start a community development project that was all about grass roots empowerment, supporting local people to achieve their own goals and endeavors. (Though) I am a trained medical doctor; I have a real passion for nutrition and preventative medicine. I always hoped that I could support people with health related goals, but we were focused on being responsive, and not directing agendas and ideas, so we continued to help with those enterprises we were asked to help with, whatever they involved. In the meantime we were learning language and building up relationships and connections in the community. In that time I observed a lot about people’s health behaviours, diet, lifestyle, and about the projects that were going on in the community aimed to improve health, but failing.

After being here about 4 years (the end of 2013) a dear friend named Dianne who I call ‘Mother’ in the Yolngu kinship system asked me to help her with her health. We talked a lot, but the information was not connecting. When she got sick, I felt like I just had to show her, and that’s why I offered to cook for her, and it’s like it just came alive for her, and she was suddenly starving for more information. Before this she literally did not believe me that eating differently would change how she felt at all!

Dianne had been wheelchair bound with unstable ischemic heart disease and uncontrolled diabetes. With some simple nourishing foods on board, she went from being unable to walk short distances without feeling extremely breathless, to experiencing a new level of energy and vitality. She rapidly lost weight, her blood sugar levels normalized, and she was able to walk up hills with ease. Empowered to understand she could transform her own health, she was hungry for more information and tools to continue this new way of living.

Dianne’s recovery was so profound that other community members saw it as evidence for the first time that proper nutrition was powerful and effective! Before this experience Dianne literally did not believe me that eating differently would change how she felt at all! The current generation of Yolngu people have literally only known this state of ill health. White flour, sugar, powdered milk, black tea and soft drinks are the staple diet now. Nutrition programs in the community are still promoting artificial sweeteners and low fat processed foods as “healthy” options.

The current generation has literally only known this state of ill health.

I had no idea that this simple offering of mine (to cook for her) would change her life, and lead to a chain reaction that is spreading Hope across this remote community.

Chronic Disease is responsible for 80% of the mortality gap between Indigenous and non Indigenous Australians. We know this is preventable, but Yolngu people do not. As my amazing Yolngu Mother has now discovered: “Before colonisation we trusted that the food from the land was good for us. When Balanda (white man) food was introduced to us we believed it was good too…Yolngu have started eating more and more Balanda food, without having the knowledge about how it should be eaten…High rates of chronic disease are killing my community. People have chronic disease because of poor nutrition.”

I am now supporting an incredible group of women from this community, as they rediscover their lost vitality and are empowered to take back control of their health. They want to take this all the way, and create a local Health Retreat where people can experience the power of real foods, and combine this with their own traditional methods of healing. As a first step they want to travel to an established health retreat. They are all dealing with chronic diseases themselves, and they know they need to conquer their own health first before they can be catalysts for healing in their community. They want to experience, learn and build their capacity, and bring this back to their community.
Basically what I have been promoting is to completely empower the Yolngu traditional diet. This consists of fresh locally caught/hunted seafood, wallaby, magpie goose, turtle, fruits/berries, some root vegetables etc., etc. Sadly people love these foods, but don’t value them, and have become highly dependent on the local store. There is actually research that shows that people’s health is inversely proportional to the distance they live to a shop- eek! The majority of the population is now living mainly on white four and sugar and black tea, often with margarine and syrup and soft drinks. So, I am trying to help people now to work through what on earth they can eat (if they can’t go hunting) and they cut out these foods. There are huge challenges here, as often alternatives are not available in the local store (although they are working with us slowly to try and resolve this). Also they need the skills to understand and make the choices about foods that are in packages. The simple rule I have been saying is to eat food the way God made it- so that includes all their traditional foods, plus fruit, veg, meat (free range if possible), eggs, nuts, seeds. I am trying to get people to avoid wheat/gluten all together. I encourage coconut oil and organic butter, coconut milk and yoghurt.

I am now supporting an incredible group of women from this community on a journey to rediscover their lost vitality and be empowered to take back control of their health by returning to Real Foods.

Yolngu still maintain much of their own language and culture, but colonisation is actively still occurring before our eyes, usually through people and programs trying to “help”. The health crisis is only going to get worse before it gets better, with chronic disease affecting younger and younger people, as the current generation have known nothing but processed food from since they were in the womb. (There are still some people alive today who as children were living here before any significant contact with white people, who had a completely traditional lifestyle for part of their life).

Yolngu people are not used to a society full of lies in the form of advertising. They don’t understand why foods would be sold if they are bad for you. And to confuse things more there are still Dieticians, etc. running programs for this community promoting artificial sweeteners and other processed rubbish as “healthy” foods.

Sticking with the “system” and its recommendations is so safe and easy, as you don’t have to think, challenge, cause a stir. –Pity it is so often wrong. I must admit I have had some fear and trepidation as I have started to encourage, for example, the use of coconut oil and other quality saturated fats here…

I wanted to send you a short clip of Dianne, my amazing Yolngu mother, but alas it’s not working on the Internet, so I will have to put the transcript below. It is Dianne speaking a few years ago, about what life is like for Yolngu people. Dianne is just the most incredible woman. Yolgnu are disempowered on so many levels, including a crippling welfare dependency. I know I am biased by personal passion here, but without the foundation of health, how do a disempowered people group find the strength and courage to overcome this. To be honest I was quite stunned to discover in the changes of the few women working closest with me, that what is often labeled as Yolngu being lazy and unmotivated, is actually malnutrition. They literally don’t have energy!”

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Kama’s ‘Mother’, Diane said:

“Here we are living in a state of disempowerment. Gone is our inner strength. There is our strength–held by strangers. We are walking around like dead people. That is how we are living now. In this situation we are animated by a foreign culture. Our wills are compelled, directed by foreigners. But we do not posses the inner power, to raise our own will to action for ourselves. We are living in dependency, we are dependent on others. People coming from distant places. And so we are dependent. We are living like that— while our elders were living with inner confidence and resolve. –With life, like with real life. Then a person thrived. Such a time is finished, struck down. We want support. We want…Where is there…..From where will it come…..support? Where can we really find support for us? This is the kind of support we require. A spirit lifting person. Restoring, giving purpose and meaning to life. Empowering.”

Kama went on to say,

“I know the reality is that most of us are actually “walking around like dead people”, as she describes Yolngu, and we need to truly be learning from each other across cultures to actually realise this. What is happening in Yolngu communities in Australia is like a giant magnifying glass, where everything that is screwed up about our system is concentrated and horrifyingly visible.

What we don’t realise in the Dominant Culture is that the system that disempowers Yolngu also disempowers us.

Health is the little piece of the puzzle that I want to contribute to. I feel that Yolngu rediscovering their health will be powerful not only for their own people, but for us all!”

Astonishingly articulate, remarkable, passionate…and right on the money.

Kama and I have been in considerable contact of late and she consented to having some of what we discussed privately over email shared with all of you. What you have just read was selectively condensed from several email correspondences we have recently shared. Kama is an extraordinary human being and her work is perhaps even more important than she realizes. To me the success of this program has clear potential implications for many other similar communities throughout Australia.

One doesn’t typically hear words like: “I am a trained medical doctor” and “passionate about nutrition and prevention” in the same sentence. I am deeply impressed. It actually tells me a lot about Kama. She no longer practices conventional medicine, as she has found food to be the true, more powerful healing medicine.

By now, many of you reading this are undoubtedly as convinced as I that Kama’s work needs to be supported. She sent me the following link (below the photo) to the crowd-funding page she and her husband created for this project. Kama works strictly as a volunteer with this and her husband is paid a meager half salary for what he does. This is a labor of love and of passion for doing the right thing, in the right way, for people group that deserves more than any other to be helped in this way.

I have provided the link here and hope that all of you will find it in your hearts to contribute at least something to this worthy cause. I, myself hope to travel to this community early next year to meet with an offer what support I am personally able. –And yes, I have contributed to this fund, myself.

Be sure to watch this incredible short video!

Kama says:

“These women want to take this all the way, and create a local Health Retreat in Arnhem Land where Yolngu people can experience the power of real foods, and combine this with their own traditional methods of healing. A place where people can receive education about nourishing foods in their own language, as well as skills to cook and understand food labels. As a first step they want to travel to an established health retreat, Living Valley Springs. They are all dealing with chronic diseases themselves, and they know they need to conquer their own health first before they can be catalysts for healing in their community. They want to experience, learn and build their capacity, and bring this back to their community.

Please partner with us on this incredible journey!

Please follow this link, hear their story, their dream, and please Donate to help their first step! We need to raise these funds before the 8th of December, so please jump on board for this exciting ride!” ~Kama Trudgen

ANY amount you are able to contribute would be a miracle for Kama and the Yolngu people. The way I see it, any work committed to restoring the foundational/traditional health of Aboriginal people goes a long way toward healing the soul of the world.

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kama and friend

Kama and Dianne

Kama with her ‘Mother’, Dianne

 
“Here in Galiwin’ku Yolngu are suffering. There are funerals all the time. Life expectancy is short for Yolngu. So many people, both young and old are affected by Chronic Disease. This is getting worse…We don’t want to continue in this way, going through all this pain and suffering. We want a different future for this community…We want you to partner with us in nurturing and celebrating Life and wellbeing. We want Yolngu to have a quality and enjoyment of life that other Australians enjoy. My experience has shown us that with deep knowledge and experience this is possible.”

~ Dianne Biritjalawuy

Please help these women get to Living Valley Springs Health Retreat and bring Hope to this community to overcome its current health crisis!

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My “Paleo Way” Down Under Adventure

Paleo Way tour, Adelaide

WOW. Where do I begin (belatedly)? All I have to say (well, maybe not “all”) is that BIG (very big) things are happening Down Under! I returned at the end of July from a h-u-g-e series of speaking events throughout Australia on The Paleo Way tour in the amazing company of celebrity chef (and dear friend), Pete Evans, fitness guru, Luke Hines and Australian rock icon, Wes Carr. Let’s just say that the Primal Body, Primal Mind way of eating is taking Australia by storm. We spoke to enthusiastic audiences totaling in the thousands (and thousands) throughout the tour and had events in seven cities: Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth and Dubbo.

This was my third tour in Australia and it was an immensely gratifying thing to be approached by countless people sharing their own enthusiastic (and often tear-jerking) stories of positive personal transformation and renewed health and vitality. I recognized a number of faces from a couple of years ago and seeing the incredible growth of interest in all this since then was, well, a bit overwhelming (in the best possible way).

Paleo Way group photo1

A couple of years ago, I received an unassuming email from an Australian celebrity chef by the name of Pete Evans. He basically said that my book had changed his life and the life of his partner and family and that he wanted to meet me. We agreed to talk over Skype–with me in Portland, Oregon and he in Perth, in Western Australia (pretty much the edge of the world). We forged a wonderful heart-felt connection over that conversation. Over the next two years we remained in sporadic contact and during my return trip to Sydney in 2012 we finally met at his home at (then) Bondi Beach. We spent an entire evening together with Pete (who prepared a glorious meal), his gorgeous and wonderful partner (fiancé) Nic Robinson, and Pete’s two beautiful and delightful young daughters, Chilli and Indi. We agreed that we wanted to find a way to somehow work together to help make positive change in others and in the way the public looks at food. Pete shares my deep passion for all this and a genuine drive to see real change in the world and in the health of others and he believed that together we could do this in a massive way.

Last February, 2013 Pete and his partner, Nic flew to Portland, Oregon to film me (and a few other health luminaries) for his upcoming Paleo television program slated for release in Australia and the UK. We wandered with a PBS film crew through the streets of Portland for close to three hours doing our interview, then spent the next several days just hanging out and getting to know one another better. We all became family in short order and decided we wanted to find bigger and better ways of collaborating. A few months later, Pete contacted me and said he had found the perfect collaboration, all beginning with The Paleo Way tour. The rest, as they say, is soon to make history. 

Nora on stage in SydneySpeaking to a h-u-g-e crowd in Sydney

 

Fitness guru, Luke Hines had been a contestant on Pete’s number one rated television show in Australia, called ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and they had gotten to know each other by the end of the season, ultimately becoming good friends. Luke became a “Primal convert” after Pete turned him on to my book and Luke was eager to play a role in our future endeavors. Luke has been a celebrity personal trainer and is enormously (not to mention deservedly) very well-liked. He is positive, energetic and a genuinely inspiring presence. He has a great sense of humor and a warm, open heart. He was also a blast to work with.

Luke HinesLuke Hines

 

Wes Carr, known throughout his country for having won first place on Australian Idol has since become a bona fide Australian rock star, with several successful albums and tours (recently working on a project with Joe Cocker).   It turns out that Wes, too had a personal story to tell about his physical and emotional health related to having stumbled across my book during a particularly dark time in his life. Not only was his physical and mental health turned around, but it also ultimately transformed the health of his young, beautiful son, Willow. Wes wanted to take part in the tour so he could have an opportunity to tell his (and his son’s) story.

Willow seemed normal enough at birth, but following a series of vaccinations began to change and exhibit symptoms of what was later diagnosed as autism. (Note: Wes did not claim that the vaccinations had caused the symptoms, but things didn’t seem to be the same that day forward). Their sweet happy boy had begun screaming and crying with frightening intensity at night with no help and no answers from his doctors. He had also begun staring off into space for prolonged periods of time, not speaking or connecting at all with anyone and not playing at all.   He had also begun the disturbing habit of self-stimming by hand flapping throughout the day. Wes and his wife, Charlotte were utterly terrified that they might lose him forever.   They made the decision to change their son’s diet, removing all gluten and dairy, GMO’s and all processed foods and adding in nourishing bone broths and healthy fermented and cultured foods, plus (you guessed it) lots of healthy, grass fed, nourishing fat.   In a nutshell, in no time at all they had their beautiful son back– smiling, engaged in life, playing with other children, being loving and at last— normal. OH– and Willow’s absolute favorite food? Homemade liver pate! Wes recently released a new sure-to-be hit single, called Anthem– a song and a YouTube video all about personal transformation. You can view his amazing and powerful YouTube video here.

Wes Carr and familyWes, Charlotte and Willow

 Charlotte has created a healthy web site for other families of kids like Willow: www.BubbaYumYum.com

Wes performingWes Carr – performing onstage on The Paleo Way tour

 

Wes is one of the most genuine, warm and talented people I have met in a very long time and an incredible person I am proud to include in my life as a heartfelt friend. We also had a blast jamming back stage in Perth.

Together, we all spoke to massive and enthusiastic audiences everywhere we went and the response was amazing.

We also had an amazing crew that came everywhere with us, making sure that everything went smoothly. Many thanks to Yvette, Lisa and Courtney at Earth Events (and all the “Earth Angels) from Earth Events for keeping us on track (and being generally awesome)!

Here is a after tour wrap up blog post by Earth Events:  The Paleo Way Wrap

Audience photo

Pete and Wes sleeping on plane

Nora and Wassim

Group at restaurant in Perth

The tour schedule was utterly exhausting (note Pete and Wes zonked out pictured above) and we were boarding planes almost daily. The audiences were amazing, as were the locations. Our last stop of the tour in Dubbo was a special joy for me, where I had spoken a year prior in an all-day mostly solo event to an engaged audience of hundreds. The Paleo movement and fan base for Primal Body, Primal Mind sparked by my earlier tour is a growing and well-organized phenomenon there and we attracted quite a bit of media. It felt like a real homecoming. Primal/Paleo potlucks are happening regularly throughout the region, thanks in part to Amanda Parrish (Finding Eco), and her dad, Mike Parrish (Healthy Life Dubbo)  –two dedicated forces for good in Australia and the world. I truly have some wonderful friends there (a heartfelt shout out to Grahame and Ros Rees of nearby Bathurst), and Dubbo is the home of one of my favorite Paleo cafes ever: ‘Sprouts’. Their chef, Wassim—pictured above with Yours Truly holding a Paleo-friendly treat he lovingly prepared and gifted to the crew—is among the most talented of chefs anywhere in Australia. He is a culinary perfectionist in the kitchen, for sure—devoted to the utter glorification of real, nutrient dense food. He’s also a terrific guy.

In the last pic (above) we were all grabbing a bite to eat at a fabulously healthy café in Perth called Solomon’s. They even served grass-fed, homemade bone broth on the menu! I was actually fairly impressed by the availability of Real food throughout the many places we visited in Australia.

Our tour attracted tremendous media attention wherever we went and was very positively received by the many wonderful people that attended it. In short, we had an incredible time and I like to think we were able to do an effective job of introducing this revolutionary natural approach to diet and health to thousands of enthusiastic Aussies in the land Down Under.

The Paleo Way Tour Video

 Stay tuned for upcoming news about the next (yes—next) tour!

Paleo Way group shot2

Pete and Nora on TV Pete’s and my appearance on Sydney, Australia’s ‘Sunrise’ TV show

 

AFTER THE TOUR…

Immediately following the tour, Lisa and I traveled to the sleepy surfer town of Byron Bay for a day or two of badly needed R&R. During our stay, we asked the locals where the best place was to go for fabulous and healthy food. A number of people “in the know” told us about a place not too far from our hotel called ‘The Roadhouse’; an out of the way, tiny local hangout joint located just up the road. The atmosphere was relaxed, cozy, unassuming and warm and the menu boasted the largest selection of whiskey anywhere in the area (OK—less than Primal). That said, it was also filled with a beautiful selection of organic, free range, farm-to-fork fare, and even served things like fermented vegetables, green juices and homemade kombucha! I ordered fresh, locally caught fish lightly broiled (to absolute mouthwatering perfection) and prepared atop of a platter of fresh, local, organic sautéed vegetables. There were even homemade cultured vegetables on the side! OMG…I was never so impressed with a meal so perfectly prepared as I was at this restaurant. It is a meal I will not soon forget. The young proprietor, by the name of Liam Flanagan came by the table to make sure everything was all right. Naturally, I gushed about the fabulous food and how impressed I was. He then proceeded to ask me if my name was Nora Gedgaudas. I think my jaw audibly hit the table. “Why…uh…yes…” –It turns out that Liam happens to be a big fan and was inspired to create the menu he did– in part based on what he read about in my book! What are the odds? Needless to say, if you ever happen to be in Byron Bay, be sure to stop by The Roadhouse for one of the best meals you’ll ever have. Tell Liam I sent you.  :-)

Nora & Liam Meal pic at Roadhouse

Following our brief but welcome respite on the beach, Lisa and I were extremely fortunate to be able to also spend some real quality time in Australia’s Outback.   I have had a long-term fascination with Aboriginal culture and set my travel sights on Uluru (formerly known as Ayer’s Rock). The harsh climate and terrain of the area surrounding Uluru was easily matched by its stark, yet strikingly rich beauty.

Sunrise at Uluru Sunrise at Uluru

 

There are a few locations more iconic in Australia’s Outback than Uluru. This ancient sandstone monolith has been a sacred site for the Aboriginal people that have inhabited this place for literally tens of thousands of years. Despite the now popular tourist destination that it has become, the power of this place continues to be palpable.

40,000 year-old cave art40,000 year-old cave art

 

I had the opportunity to learn something about the Aaŋu (pronounced “Ananoo”) culture of this particular region (one of many ancient Aboriginal groups in Australia) and many of the traditional foods, hunting implements and tools they once used. The term Aṉaŋu essentially translates to “human being”.

A number of Aboriginal people in Australia still continued to live their traditional life in the bush until as recently as 1985, when the very last of them sadly abandoned “the old ways” and resigned themselves to modern life. A lot has changed since then— not the least of which has been the health of the Aboriginal people.

Hint: NOT for the better.

Our Aṉaŋu tour guide led us on a hike around the base of this magnificent ancient natural wonder, stopping along the way to point out places of particular significance and carefully explaining the rich history of this region and his people. At the cultural center complex located in the nearby shadow of Uluru we were treated to a demonstration of numerous Aboriginal implements traditionally used in the old days (and occasionally even still today in some places). We learned about digging sticks and getting at witjuti grubs under mulga shrubs. Witjuti grubs were the single most important food insect in the Outback and are a terrific source of protein and fat. They are white, juicy, fat-n-sassy grubs that when roasted taste like—supposedly–fried eggs. When eaten raw they supposedly taste more almond-like. –I’ll take their word for it.

Hollow rootA section of hollow root from a mulga shrub where juicy witjuti grubs might be found
Witchetty_grubA couple of plump, tasty widjuti grubs[i]

 

The Aṉaŋu hunted animals using 8-10 foot long spears thrown with a woomera (a form of atlatl – see below example). They were typically carved from mulga wood—an incredibly durable hardwood from which they also frequently carved their spearheads. The ingenuity of the woomera is such that it additionally could serve as a bowl, a cutting tool and a firestarter. –Sort of the Aboriginal version of the Swiss Army knife. The woomera spear was known as the fastest weapon in the world pre-1800’s and the extra energy gained from the woomera’s use has been calculated as four times that from a modern compound hunting bow[ii]. That’s some incredible, powerful and versatile ingenuity!

WoomeraExample of a woomera (close up of spear hook at tip below)

 

Spear hook

 

Woomera spear tipWoomera mulga-wood spear tip. Barb wound with kangaroo sinew

 

CalendarOverlapping Piranpa and Aṉaŋu calendar

 

The Aṉaŋu never calculated their annual calendar by Piranpa (white man) dates/seasons, but only by their own particular seasons (six of them); which were logically characterized by the kinds of foods that were available to them at different times of the year or under different conditions. Some of the recognized seasons included Wanitjunkupai, which translates to “beginning of the cold weather”, Tjuntalpa, (meaning the time when clouds roll in from the south), Wari (meaning “cold time”), Piriyakutu (“the warm, windy time when animals breed and flowers bloom”), Kulu (“hot time”) and Itjanu (“the hot and rainy time”). They referred to drought as Ailuru. To find enough food the Aṉaŋu often had to travel great distances. It could be several days walk from waterhole to waterhole and it took a great deal of strength of body, experienced knowledge and superior powers of observation to traverse these distances and successfully find food and water. Their very lives depended upon the accuracy of these skills. One can scarcely imagine more harsh living conditions on planet Earth than the Australian Outback. That said, the Aṉaŋu people claim the climate has actually changed quite a bit since traditional times. They say that rain does not fall the same way or at the same time as it did in the past and there is much more dry, or Ailuru time today. Bush foods are no longer anywhere near as common. In fact, it is unlikely that even the stealthiest and most knowledgeable traditionally-inclined Aṉaŋu person alive today would be able to successfully live on the land anymore as they once did. The dingoes are largely gone now from the wild, and wildlife such as kangaroos, emu and wallabies are nowhere near as abundant and are only scarcely seen. Many native plant species are gone, including the ones they used for food. Easily the most abundantly found mammalian species anywhere in the Outback today are feral camels! These were brought to Australia with early explorers from the Middle and Far East. Many were abandoned or got loose along the way– and rather than perish they managed to thrive. –And thrive they did. Today there are in excess of 800,000 feral camels wandering loose in the Australian Outback! They are considered a nuisance, as they damage and over browse native plants.

Feral camel

The feral camels are regularly seen in areas surrounding Uluru, though I never had the occasion to actually spot one while I was there (though certain enterprising individuals have opened local camel ranches for the tourists). Non-native grasses from Africa have also been inadvertently introduced to the region and have led to the decimation of numerous native plant species there.

The Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act was passed in 1976, which finally—by law– recognized the rights of Aboriginal people to their ancestral lands. It took nine more years for the Aṉaŋu to be presented with the Freehold Title deeds for the Park, who, in turn (by conditional agreement), leased the land back to the Australian Government through the Director of National Parks (formerly the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service) for “99 years”. The Aṉaŋu at last officially own the ‘Uluu-Kata Tjua National Park’ (formerly Ayers Rock – Mt Olga National Park) lands, but operate the Park itself through what is referred to as “joint management” (i.e., in tandem with the Australian government). The Aṉaŋu continue to hunt certain animal species such as red kangaroos, emus, other birds and lizards in remote areas of the Park and on Aṉaŋu land elsewhere. Some even utilize traditional hunting implements such as the woomera and boomerangs to do this on occasion, though their true hunter-gatherer way of life is essentially (and sadly) now gone. Most of what Aboriginal people eat tends to come from regular grocery stores nowadays. Beyond unfortunate.

Aṉaŋu guideOur Aṉaŋu guide displaying and demoing numerous traditional and fascinatingly innovative Aboriginal implements

 

Sunrise at Kata TjutaSunrise at nearby Kata Tjuta

 

Another nearby source of natural wonder was a second megalithic cluster of rock outcroppings known as The Olgas, or (more traditionally) Kata Tjuta (which translates to “many heads”). It is made up of a group of 36 conglomerate rock domes that date back 500 million years. Geologically, Kata Tjuta is intimately related to Uluru (see illustration below), arising from essentially the same underground geologic substrate.  Where Uluru is primarily sandstone, however, Kata Tjuta is comprised mainly of conglomerate rock. Kata Tjuta is still supposedly home to a species of wallaby (called “black footed rock wallabies” – see below) that can sometimes be seen navigating the treacherous steep terrain in the canyons there.

Geologic formation illustrationThe geologic formation making up both Uluru and Kata Tjuta[iii]
Rock WallabyAn adorable Black-Footed Rock Wallaby[iv]

 

A popular tourist activity (or tourist hazing) when visiting Uluru involves awakening at unreasonably early hours to watch the sunrise at either Uluru or Kata Tjuta. We were gullible enough as naïve tourists to attempt both (on different days, of course). One boards a bus—with bleary eyes– at about 4:00 AM in what feels like the dead of night in order to travel to certain specific locations where the colorful sunrise spectacle can be observed (assuming you are awake). The air temperature in the photo below, shortly after sunrise, was about 30°F/0°C. (I heard that temps can get as low as 23°F/-5 °C at night in the winter). There was literally frost on some of the surrounding vegetation. I was told that Aboriginal people endured temperatures like this in winter without any real clothing to speak of, and through mainly huddling—with or without fire and with little to no shelter. The Minnesotan in me tips my wool hat to this kind of resilience and stands in uncomprehending awe of what we once must have endured as a species. “Primitive,” my ass. These people were superhumans!! We are total wimps by relative modern-day comparison.

Nora at sunriseYours Truly posing at “stupid o’clock” watching the sunrise (with 30 degree F temps)
Canyon at Kata TjutaCanyon and a rare, ancient spring at Kata Tjuta

 

We hiked deep into Kata Tjuta to find this magnificent spot. It is considered a sacred place containing spirits and knowledge in its caves and nooks considered very powerful and even purportedly “dangerous”. A mildly hallucinogenic plant grows here, also—related to the tobacco family and having only mildly stimulating properties when ingested in small amounts (no—I didn’t try it). This beautiful spring must have been incredibly important at one time and was likely widely utilized by humans and animals alike. It was also extremely well protected by the looming, precipitous and sentinel-like canyon walls. It was extraordinarily peaceful here. We made a point of enjoying several minutes of pure reverent silence in this place. It was magical.

One particularly beautiful flower in the Outback known popularly as the “honey flower” served as perhaps the only source of sugar and the closest thing to “candy” for the Aṉaŋu in former times.

Grevillea 'Honey Gem'Grevillea ‘Honey Gem’
Blossom up closeIt’s beautiful, sweet blossom, up close

 

The Outback Grevillea spp “honey blossom”–typically left attached to the rest of the shrub (so as to allow it to regenerate)–was sucked upon by children and sweet-loving adults, and contained a sweet nectar that was enjoyed as a seasonal treat. The total intake for sugar for the “primitive” Aṉaŋu (I was told) was approximately 1 tablespoon per person, per year.

My Outback sojourn led me to an enhanced appreciation of the ingenuity and resilience of our most ancient ancestral forebears. It amplified my deep respect for these cultures and my anguished sorrow for what has been lost.

The most painful thing about this journey for me was seeing what has become of the Aboriginal people. To see an Aboriginal person that isn’t obese is almost unusual. The local supermarket at Uluru scarcely contains anything I would be inclined to think of as food (it was bad enough finding anything we could eat in the finer local hotel restaurants). Aisle after aisle is filled with heavily processed, prepackaged substances with unpronounceable ingredients masquerading as food. The conveyor belts at the checkout lanes there are laden with white bread, sodas, bottles of canola oil, cereals, sweet rolls, canned goods, snack foods and a smattering of limp vegetables here and there, along with the occasionally spotted shrink-wrapped factory farmed meats. It is horrible—and the results upon the local Aṉaŋu population’s health are obvious. Devastating. Weston Price once said (back in the 1930”s) that these were among the healthiest and strongest people he had seen in all his travels. He would mourn their deplorable state of health today.

Aboriginal hunter1922 photograph of an Aboriginal hunter from the National Museum of Australia[v]

 

I am hopeful to return to the Outback again and explore other, more remote regions of this ancient landscape and its people. Witnessing the catastrophic health changes that have befallen this ancient people group inspires me with the awareness how important the example set for us by our earliest aboriginal antecedents is. The genocide of the Australian Aboriginals (and in fact that of all native peoples throughout the world) was not the product of guns—but of food. It speaks to the potential genocide of us all unless we can remember some of the very things that the earliest humans once had the luxury of taking for granted:

The availability of unadulterated nutrient dense, sustainable natural food, fresh air, clean water, a symbiotic relationship with the surrounding natural world and a first-hand knowing of where our food came from. We also experienced community and the grounded awareness/comprehension that humankind is a mere thread in the web of life and did not weave it. To paraphrase Chief Seattle, whatever we do to that web, we do to ourselves.

Jimmy Nelson photoFrom ‘Before They Pass Away’ by Jimmy Nelson[vi]
Sunrise treeBeautiful sunrise at Uluru
Sunset at UluruSunset time – magical
Sunset at Kata TjutaSunset at Kata Tjuta

 

Image sources:

[i] Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witchetty_grub#mediaviewer/File:Witchetty_grub.jpg

[ii] “Extinction’s group theory” – The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). 25 June 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2011

[iii] Image source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Uluru#mediaviewer/File:Schema_Kata_Tjuta_Uluru.png

[iv] Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ulu%E1%B9%9Fu-Kata_Tju%E1%B9%AFa_National_Park#mediaviewer/File:Black-footed_Rock-wallaby%28small%29.jpg

[v] Image from: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Man_with_a_spear-thrower,_photograph_by_H._Basedow.jpg

[vi]  http://www.beforethey.com/

The Paleo Way

From Chef Pete Evans:

I’m incredibly excited to announce a new project launching soon called ‘The Paleo Way’.

‘The Paleo Way’ is a 10 week vibrant health and fitness program tailored to a Paleo lifestyle.

I’m looking forward to sharing the journey as it comes to fruition.

Tour Update:

Following the success of The Paleo Way tour, early next year we will be hitting the road again for ‘The Paleo Way – Learn to Cook’ tour.

This time around we are cooking with an emphasis on fermenting basics, children’s lunch boxes, budget family cooking, bone broths and a whole lot more with some super special guests that you are going to love.

Can’t wait to share more in the coming weeks.

Pete

PS. To keep up with The Paleo Way Tour updates, please enter your email address here: The Paleo Way

 

Autoimmune Summit

Auto Immune Summit Banner

Learn how to prevent and reverse autoimmune disease at the world’s first free online summit all about autoimmunity!

Nearly 40 experts in the fields of Functional Medicine, nutrition, and autoimmune disease will explain how leaky gut, genetics, and environmental triggers such as toxins, food sensitivities, infections, and stress all play a part in the development of autoimmune disease.

• Have you, a friend, or family member been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease?

• Do you have a family history of autoimmunity and want to learn how to prevent it?

• Or are you a healthcare provider who wants to better treat your autoimmune patients?

If that sounds like you, or you just want to learn more about preventing, treating, and reversing these conditions, The Autoimmune Summit is for you! The information you will learn will put you on the road to better physical, mental, and spiritual health. Plus, it’s FREE and online from November 10-17, 2014.

Join Amy Myers MD, author of The Autoimmune Solution, and educate yourself about more natural ways to treat autoimmunity. Diagnosed with autoimmune hyperthyroidism during medical school, her mission is to help others avoid dangerous conventional treatment and prevent and reverse autoimmune disease naturally!

The Autoimmune Summit is online and FREE from November 10­-17, 2014!

Here are a few of the incredible presenters:

• David Perlmutter, MD, The Brain, Gut, and AutoimmunityIndividual3-Gedgaudas

• Mark Hyman, MD, A Functional Medicine Approach to Autoimmunity

• Nora Gedgaudas, A Patient-Centered Approach to Autoimmunity: Triggers, Mediators, Antecedents

• Alejandro Junger, MD, How to Detox in the Modern World

• Jeffrey Smith, GMOs and Their Role in Leaky Gut, Inflammation, and Autoimmunity

• Sarah Ballantyne, PhD, The Problem with Grains and Legumes in Those with Autoimmunity

• Jeff Bland, PhD, Why Autoimmune Disease is Not “Being Allergic to Yourself”

With nearly 40 expert presenters sharing their wealth of knowledge, this invaluable (and FREE) resource is intended for you or someone important to your life!

Better yet, if you register today, you’ll have access to the following FREE GIFTS…

Watch the first talk of the summit:

• Dan Pardi, Sleep is More Important Than You Think. Here’s Why:

◦ How your body uses sleep as a time for healing and repair

◦ The affect of light and dark on your hormones

◦ How adequate sleep increases physical and mental performance

◦ Tips to reset your sleep cycle for optimal health and well-being

And, download Dr. Myers’ favorite 12 gluten-free and dairy-free recipes! These nutritionist-designed and doctor-approved recipes are simple, delicious, and easy to make.

Come listen to The Autoimmune Summit from November 10-17, 2014! Register for FREE at the following link today:

Register Now

I’ll see you at the Summit!

Warmest regards,

~ Nora

Rethinking Fatigue Video

Source: Peak Moment TV on Youtube 

“What people really think of as adrenal fatigue or burnout rarely has anything to do with the adrenals themselves.” Nora Gedgaudas dispels myths, and illuminates various forms of brain dysregulation that can affect our response to stress, as well as our energy levels. She also discusses the importance of a daily sleep-and-activity rhythm based on natural light and dark, a low-carbohydrate diet and supportive supplements. Nora is the author of a new e-book Rethinking Fatigue —What Your Adrenals are Really Telling You and What You Can Do About It.

Rethinking-Fatigue-Mock-Book-Shot

“Nora Gedgaudas’ Rethinking Fatigue is dense with fascinating, cutting-edge information that’s easy to understand and use.  A brilliant new work.”          ~ Dr. Chris Decker

buy_amazon_buttonibook button

 

But how do you get enough calcium if you don’t eat dairy?

Calcium Supplements

 

OK–I am addressing the popular question concerning why I don’t recommend calcium supplements. Basically, the American public has been completely bamboozled by the American Dairy Association to believe that calcium is somehow the most important mineral ever and that we should all want to get as much of it in our diets or supplementally as possible (“don’t forget to take your Tums!”). There is no rational foundation for this.

 

Calcium is, in fact, the single most abundant mineral in our food supply. Even if you completely avoid dairy products (which isn’t the worst idea in the world, btw) there would still be plenty of existing calcium in other foods to meet anyone’s daily requirements. If, for some reason you truly are deficient in calcium, the problem isn’t likely to be a “deficiency” of dietary calcium. The problem is much more likely to relate to deficiencies in essential cofactors (i.e., magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin D3, vitamin A, vitamin K2, boron…etc.) OR– very commonly— an issue with insufficient hydrochloric acid production, absolutely required for the proper ionization of calcium so that it may be properly absorbed. Hormonal imbalances and errant signaling can also contribute improper calcium metabolism. If these happen to be your issues, then calcium isn’t going to be the only thing you are likely missing and calcium supplementation is anything but advised.

 

Just because you’re sucking down calcium supplements (and I don’t care from what source) it doesn’t mean that the calcium is necessarily going where you want it to go. You are far more likely to wind up calcifying things that were never meant to be calcified; such as your cardiovascular tissue (arteries and heart), your brain tissue, your joints (ever hear of bone spurs?) and whatever else. There is literally NO reason to waste money on calcium supplements for “bone health”.

 

There are quite a number of nutrients essential for the formation of healthy bone, of which calcium is only one– and is the least likely to be dietarily deficient. Calcium gives bones their hardness, however it is the collagen protein in bone that gives it its strength and flexibility and is far much more likely to be diminished in osteoporosis due to factors that I have little space to elaborate on here (though I did write a chapter about some of this in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind). Sufficient bone calcium without sufficient collagen protein makes for dense looking bone scans, but otherwise leads to very brittle bones.

 

Furthermore, a meta-analysis study in the British Medical Journal a couple of years ago showed that calcium supplementation actually can augment the risk of a heart attack by as much as 30% [“Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis” BMJ 2010; 341 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c3691 (Published 30 July 2010)]. The authors of the study additionally pointed out that taking calcium supplements improves bone density only by a marginal amount at best. They said that the minor beneficial effects of supplemental calcium on bone density were greatly outweighed by the potential cardiovascular/heart attack risks. Excess intracellular calcium can actually increase undesirable spasms and contractility of cardiovascular tissue (and is a hallmark of cellular sickness, impairment and aging), while it is MAGNESIUM (something many people are far more likely to be deficient in) that is essential for healthy cardiovascular and parasympathetic functioning– along with about 400 other things. Magnesium is also far less efficiently retained in the body.

 

Even in those with insufficient bone calcium, the same individuals with poor bone density scans typically have abnormal calcium deposits elsewhere in the body where they don’t belong. In fact, excess calcium can even lead to problems with building sufficient protein matrix in bones. The issue isn’t whether you’re getting “enough” dietary calcium almost ever. Once again, it boils down to digestion/ionization, absorption and proper utilization balanced by sufficient necessary co-factors.

 

Save your money on over-hyped (and potentially deleterious) calcium supplements. Enjoy your bone broth but also make sure you’re getting plenty of fat-soluble nutrients and other good stuff.

 

~ Nora

 

Pili Nuts

 

 

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…But The Best Revenge Is Living Well!

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

So–there’s a story behind this eBook:

Some time ago, a good friend of mine was planning on launching a website that was designed to provide information and support for individuals who were suffering through relationship breakups.  There was actually quite a lot of very good stuff happening with that website and some very good ideas going into it—but the Universe interfered and it just didn’t end up happening.  Such is life, I guess.  At any rate, while the whole thing was still in its developing stages this friend of mine had asked if I would write an eBook for the website on the subject of what actually happens in the body when a person is going through this type of acute emotional trauma and what could be done nutritionally to support a person in a way that would help them to get through it in the best way possible. I realized this was actually a really good idea and set about creating a short but very useful eBook on the subject.  Having been through something like this a number of years back I immediately recognized all the things that I had been through emotionally and physically as a result of that painful trauma. I found that I was eager to share what I had learned.

In the end, the eBook turned out great–the website project unfortunately didn’t. 

It turns out that statistically more relationship breakups happen in February than any other time of the year (having something, I think to do paradoxically with Valentine’s Day).  Not trying to be cynical, but it did seem like a good idea in light of all that to release this eBook now.  I think this eBook, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do…But the Best Revenge Is Living Well is fairly rich with valuable information that anyone going through a breakup can genuinely benefit from.

That said, I think a lot of what’s in this book is actually quite applicable to any acutely stressful situation.  Many people nowadays are losing jobs, homes and experiencing other traumatic events that challenge their self-esteem and feelings of self-worth, not to mention challenging your adrenal health, brain health and health of your immune system plus all the rest all at the same time.  Quite a lot of us don’t know how to deal with this sort of thing particularly well.  Although I have an outstanding eBook on adrenal issues coming out shortly (The Fatigue Factor:  What your Adrenals Are REALLY Telling You and What You Can Do About It), this particular eBook is useful for those going through particularly difficult emotional challenges in their lives. 

If you happen to be going through a relationship breakup, or are experiencing an emotionally difficult, stressful challenge in some other area of your life I think you are likely to find the information in this eBook valuable. Learn what could be done nutritionally to support a yourself in a way that would help you get through a difficult time in the best way possible. 

BUY IT NOW!

Buy ebook

I sincerely wish you all the best,

~Nora Gedgaudas

First of all, it’s a lovely book! It’s very compassionate and inspiring, and I felt all built-up and psyched after I read it! It’s kind of a two-fer, too. All the great nutritional information is certainly useful for any kind of stressful period in one’s life–breakup or otherwise–but it’s also just a wonderful presentation in a nutshell of how to eat well–with the added benefit of some sound advice on how to think about life. Plus the tone is so sweet and down to earth, and Nora’s awesome sense of humor comes right through on every page. I’d recommend this book in a second to anybody. Some lousy breakup or other is something we’ve certainly all been through, and the book is unquestionably great for that, but even if one is just going about one’s business, it’s still a great read–with a nice, decent dopamine hit thrown in for good measure.   ~ Dr. Chris Decker

Cracking Your Food Sensitivity Code

 

Nora on Dr. Oz Show


So less than a week ago I was minding my own business, doing some light, casual (NOT) continuing education in the areas of brain chemistry and functional neurology when an email came through on my iPhone from the producers at the Dr. Oz Show.  As if my brain wasn’t overloaded in the first place!

 

Can you do the show this coming Friday?” they asked…HUH?

 

From that moment forward I felt like Dorothy getting sucked up into a category F5 tornado, whisked up into a cloud of whirling chaos and ultimately deposited 3000 miles away (virtually overnight) into “The Land of Oz”.

 

The show was originally meant to focus on food sensitivities and mental health, with additional focus on the phenomena of leaky gut and leaky blood-brain barrier commonly driving these kinds of issues.  Normally, I can talk about all this in my sleep… And for those that know me, they will agree when I say I can talk about this pretty much all day without even coming up for air.  But this was the alien world of mainstream media, sound-bites, advertisers, demographics and extremely limited blocks of time.  Encapsulating this rather complex and involved– but incredibly important and timely subject is nearly impossible to do with any due justice.  That’s simply the nature of the beast.  That said the playful use of props and demonstrations were probably helpful for many viewers for at least setting up a preliminary stage for understanding something that we all need to know about.  I’m hopeful that my own contribution to the show was able to inspire the audience to want to know a bit more.

 

Toward that end, for those that really do want to know more, here are a few things I would have very much liked to have shared with the audience on the show that there just simply wasn’t time for.  Hopefully this is a helpful next step for those of you wanting to crack your own “food sensitivity code”.

 

In preparation for the show and determining what would actually be presented, I found I was actually being restricted from using the word “gluten” during the taping, as this was a topic that had been covered on recent shows and they didn’t want audience members to see the show content as being too repetitive.  The fact is, however, that gluten really is the granddaddy food sensitivity of them all.  It is the main culprit behind dietary grains and wheat (contained also in most commercial processed foods, some medications, shampoos and other personal care products) and is what I like to call a “gateway food sensitivity” that frequently opens the door to the creation of many, many others.

 

For starters here, I’d like to refer you to another article I have written in this blog titled: “What Is Gluten and Why Should We Care?”. The article is filled with incredibly useful and detailed information that everyone who cares about their health should know. I strongly suggest reading it. Trust me…you’ll thank me later.

 

Speaking to a full auditorium during my day-long event in Dubbo, Australia

Speaking to a full auditorium during my day-long event in Dubbo, Australia

 

One subject related to this we did not have time on the show to touch upon, but is really important to mention is the cutting edge subject of something known as “cross-reactivities”. 

 

Here is why these are important for you to know about:

 

You may decide to embark upon a gluten-free diet (basically avoiding foods containing wheat rye and barley) as a way of eliminating this suspected culprit in order to figure out whether it’s a problem for you. This is what elimination diets are all about: you pick one or more foods that may be known as common food sensitivities you suspect may be problematic for you and you avoid them completely for a period of no less than two weeks to see how you feel (at least in theory). It can take eight days or more for antibody reactions in the body to begin to calm down enough to start to notice a difference (which is why two weeks is stated as the minimum time needed).  It can take fully 6-weeks of total avoidance for antibodies to ultimately disappear.  This doesn’t mean these foods become OK for you after that, though, it just means they aren’t reacting in you and causing damage as long as you stay away from them.  If you eat the food again the antibodies and inflammation come raging back, so it isn’t OK to just go back to eating them again once you start to feel better.  The truth is that 2 weeks abstinence may not be enough for some people. A better goal would actually be closer to six weeks–or better yet even 6 months to really allow some noticeable healing to occur, but this is a hard sell for many folks). Sometimes it is recommended that you reintroduce the suspected food at the end of the two week elimination period to see if there’s a noticeable adverse reaction (referred to by nutritionists as the “elimination/provocation” approach). In the case of gluten, in my opinion, it is a very, very bad idea to reintroduce it again simply because the consequences of doing so when you are sensitive (which is honestly most of the time) can be so dire and risky. 

 

Functional versus cross reactive antibody antigen responses

Functional versus cross reactive antibody antigen responses

 

But here’s the rub: there are a number of common dietary substances that are technically gluten-free, but in certain people their immune system may not be able to distinguish it from actual gluten!  This is one reason (among many) why some people go gluten free for two weeks and then think that nothing’s changed and that this food is okay for them.  I’m here to tell you–particularly if you are symptomatic in any way shape or form physically, mentally, or emotionally–that the vast majority of the time it isn’t okay to eat gluten again–ever.

 

If you happened to be eating what you thought were gluten-free foods on the elimination diet and some of those gluten-free foods happened to be cross-reactive for you without you knowing it, then your body and brain may have felt as though it was eating gluten the whole time.  And when you’re used to feeling a certain way, you think that’s normal for you and you may not notice the difference. This concept called cross-reactivity is based on something scientists call “molecular mimicry”.  The diagram above helps illustrate how cross-reactivity works.  I talk about this more in my gluten article and in my book but I’ll just touch upon it a little bit here.

 

The structure of the proteins inside these cross-reactive foods look enough like gluten that in some cases certain people’s immune systems can’t tell the difference.  This phenomenon is very well established within the immunologic literature but poorly understood by many people, including many health care providers.  The most common cross-reactive foods with gluten include: dairy products (i.e., casein and other dairy proteins), oats (yes, even gluten-free oats), millet, corn, yeast (as in Baker’s yeast and Brewer’s yeast), and even pre-ground commercial and/or instant coffee (though whole roasted, organic coffee beans are likely OK).  Believe it or not, rice can also be cross-reactive with wheat for some people!  Furthermore, nearly all oats (with the possible exception of those labeled “certified gluten-free”), buckwheat flour and soy flour are actually nearly always contaminated with gluten by virtue of the manner in which they are processed and stored commercially.  It seems like gluten is literally everywhere!  And it is.  It’s a big problem.

 Bread

 

Gluten is able to compromise the gut and the blood brain barrier in a very unique and pronounced way– and, GET THIS:

 

Gluten compromises your gut and your blood brain barrier whether or not you happen to be sensitive to gluten in the first place!

 

So you don’t even have to have a gluten sensitivity in order for gluten containing foods to damage your gut or even your brain!  No real harm has ever come to anyone by eliminating gluten from their lives and it may be something you want to consider for yourself and your family just as a matter of precaution in the name of better health.  Given the enormous number of ways in which gluten can destroy your health, and given the fact that the number one cause of bankruptcy right now in the United States is a “bad diagnosis”, unless you can afford to be sick, you cannot afford not to eat optimally well. Welcome to the modern world!

 

bad diagnosis 

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Bankruptcy_Sign

 

I often refer to gluten as “a gateway food sensitivity” since eating it automatically compromises the critical lines of defense in your gut and in your brain and can allow anything to get through that happens to be there in your diet along with it.  Once other things get through, the immune system can react to those too. Before too long, you may be reacting to a number of things that you never even suspected were problematic for you. It is an automatic set up for creating inflammation everywhere in your body including your brain in a way that can lead to autoimmune illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer– the three leading causes of morbidity and mortality anywhere in the industrialized world today– not to mention depression, anxiety, attentional disorders (like ADD/ADHD) and just about anything else with a symptom attached to it lying anywhere/everywhere in you between your hair follicles and your toenails that you can think of. A number of years ago one peer-reviewed research article linked 55 different diseases to the consumption of gluten. Today, at least 200 different health related problems are known to be potentially associated today with the consumption (and consequences) of gluten.  For 3 million years–over 100,000 generations our ancestors never ate any significant amount of grains or legumes.  They entered out diet in a significant way only in the last 10,000 years (more like  2,ooo years ago–and even less in the Americas!).  This just hasn’t been enough time for our genes to fully catch up to such a major dietary change.  Human health has suffered greatly since then, as a result.  Humans even lost just over ten percent of our brain volume since adopting an agricultural lifestyle, too! As time goes on research evidence is showing that are actually becoming less adapted to these foods and not more adapted, as one might reasonably expect. Some of this has to do with the fact that grains are such a new food to the human species in the context of our long evolutionary history. Our bodies simply cannot easily recognize the proteins in grains and many other post-agricultural foods, and this can (and does) cause us problems.  Another reason these foods are problematic, as I mentioned on the show, is the fact that we keep hybridizing and changing these grains in a way that make them a constant moving target and literally impossible for us to catch up with and adapt to. Furthermore, since we humans are actually not at all even able to digest gluten in the first place, I am hesitant to even refer to it as any sort of food and believe it more appropriately belongs in the category of being a bona fide contaminant. There is no one for whom gluten containing foods are actually necessary or even healthy but there are many, many millions of people worldwide who suffer consequences of this substance in ways they may not even suspect are related to it.  People are suffering every single day all over the world and most will never know why.  Little more than 1% of everyone with a gluten sensitivity, in fact, has ever been actually diagnosed.  For anyone that is symptomatic in any way shape or form, in my opinion, this is the most important thing to rule out using accurate testing. 

 

hands against wheat

 

Although the Dr. Oz Show focused on implementing an elimination diet as a way of figuring this out for yourself at home, I personally find this a bit of an inefficient way of going about it, even though it is seemingly affordable and sounds easy. Based on everything I just said I’m sure you can see where this might not be the case.

 

I personally prefer to do accurate immunologic testing to make these determinations, so that all the guesswork is removed from the equation and then you know with reasonable accuracy whether or not these foods are a problem for you.  But here’s the other rub: there is literally only one lab in the entire world doing accurate testing in this regard, and that is Cyrex Labs.  I will tell you right now that I have absolutely no financial ties with this laboratory whatsoever, but I consistently recommend them as the only way to go simply because they are the only lab doing truly comprehensive, sensitive and accurate testing in this regard.  No other laboratory comes even close.

 

Cyrex Labs 

Cyrex Labs testing is easily 30 years ahead of anyone else’s (even your doctor’s, unless your doctor happens to have an account with them, which they should). If you go to your doctor and he/she does a standard blood test for gluten sensitivity there is a 75% likelihood (literally) that what will come back as a result will be a potentially false negative.  Intestinal biopsies, too, do not and cannot take into account the hundreds of other ways the gluten may be affecting you, either. In fact, gluten is even more likely to impact your brain than it is your gut, according to some of the most current research. In other words, those results from the most common kinds of testing are nearly worthless. Standard blood tests simply are not sensitive or comprehensive enough to make this determination with any accuracy.

 

Cyrex Labs also tests accurately for gluten’s known cross reactivities, as well as other common food sensitivities, including other (non-cross-reactive) non-gluten grains, chicken eggs (an extremely common sensitivity), soy, potatoes, and other foods commonly eaten on a gluten-free diet.  Once you actually know what you’re dealing with its easier to feel motivated to do what is necessary to eliminate these problematic foods from your diet.  I have discovered that an accurate test result is the best compliance tool and motivator that I have ever found.  It doesn’t rely on you keeping journals or wondering whether you’re experiencing a symptom or not. You can’t fool yourself or lie to an accurate lab test. You don’t have to guess. It keeps everybody honest.  The lab results simply lay out the facts in a way that are hard to argue with. The good news is that once you heal your gut some of these foods may be okay to eat again in a limited way eventually– with the exception, of course, of gluten and any gluten cross-reactivities you may have.  Those, I am sorry to say are permanent food sensitivities for you and must be forever avoided completely and totally.

 

The most common cross-reactive food with gluten is dairy (most specifically casein—though other dairy proteins may be an issue too).  Roughly half of everyone that has a gluten sensitivity also has a dairy cross-reactivity. This basically means that your immune system can see dairy as indistinguishable from gluten and both then need to be avoided– totally and permanently.  On the show we talked about corn (another potential cross-reactivity with gluten) and soy briefly as well, but we lacked the time to touch upon chicken eggs, which is also a surprisingly common food sensitivity.  There can be many others, too.  Again, there just wasn’t time to cover it all.

 

Confused yet?

 

I realize all this sounds very complicated. In some ways it is. But it’s worth your while to spend a little time on the subject trying understand it more because chances are that you and your family are being affected by some of the foods you eat in ways you may never have even suspected.  My book, Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet For Total Health and A Longer Life supplies you with a lot more information and background on this subject in ways that make it (please excuse the pun) easier to digest and understand.  You will learn things about your health you are unlikely to find in any one place anywhere else in ways that can change or even possibly save your life.

 

Buy book

 

I, for one, never even suspected I had an issue with gluten or dairy at all, much less chicken eggs (which I ate almost every day).  I honestly thought these foods were fine for me.  I was always health conscious and only ate the best quality, organic sources of these foods I could find.  I didn’t even suspect a problem.  The wake-up call was an accurate test result that told me differently.  Eliminating them changed my life in more ways than I can list here and additionally resulted (as an unexpected bonus) in significant and totally effortless weight loss for me.  Although it is a bit of a process eliminating these foods at first that takes a little getting used to, once you get through the initial phase of getting accustomed to a different way of eating it just becomes part of your everyday routine and something that is as normal for you as anything you may be used to doing now.  In time (and it honestly doesn’t take that long) you will find that you no longer even miss these foods.  In fact, you will feel so much better that you may wonder why you didn’t do this sooner!

 

Crossroads of sick and tired

 

I would also add here that genetically modified foods, commonly referred to as GMO’s contain toxins that are known to damage human cells and can also lead to persistent problems with leaky gut and a leaky blood brain barrier. The single simplest way I can recommend for avoiding them is by eating only those foods labeled as “certified organic”.  Although this may sound unaffordable to some of you, the way of eating I talk about in my book, Primal Body, Primal Mind is actually the least expensive way to eat optimally well ever found!  Not only this, it is even less expensive than the standard American diet!  An e-Book I can refer you to in this regard is called Primal Tightwad: Maximizing Your Health on A Minimal Budget, written by “tightwadista” and expert extraordinaire, Carolyn Rush and can help you learn how to slash your grocery costs (not even counting your future healthcare bills) by up to $1,500 per person/per year simply by adopting this way of eating.  Perhaps the greatest myth of all is the idea that you have to be wealthy in order to eat well. Nothing could be further from the truth.

 

Another point I had wanted to make on the show but there was no time to do—was this:  very often, the very foods you crave the most are the ones to which you are the most sensitive. It sounds a little counterintuitive, but it isn’t.  What happens is this:  any food that you eat that you happen to be sensitive to (whether you are aware of it or not) is going to be a stress on your body. I’m sure that makes some sense.  Your body deals with stressors in part by releasing certain “feel-good chemicals” that help you deal with it. The problem is that these “feel-good chemicals” (actually referred to as opioid enkephalins) are related to drugs like morphine, opium or heroin and can be extremely, extremely addictive for some people.  In fact, some of these foods (specifically gluten and dairy) actually contain morphine-like compounds called “exorphins” that can add to this addictive cocktail in your brain and make these foods even more addictive!  So even though these foods are causing you uncomfortable or even devastating health symptoms and consequences long-term, in the short term you may be unconsciously associating them with pleasure.  It’s a bit of a cruel paradox.  This is why on the food sensitivity questionnaire posed to the audience in the show one of the questions was: “Is there particular food you feel you could not live without?”  Very often that food is something you need to take a much closer look at.  Unfortunately, we did not have the time to put that particular question in context so I’m sure it might have been a little confusing.  Hopefully that one makes sense now.

 

If I were to create my own version of the questionnaire from the show, these are the questions I would have selected for that, instead (which admittedly there wouldn’t have been room for on the show):

 

  • Is there particular food you feel like you could not live without? 
  • Do you suffer from symptoms of anxiety, depression, mood swings, emotional reactivity, agitation/irritability/anger, insomnia, attentional problems, fatigue, or cravings?
  • Have you ever been diagnosed with any form of autoimmune illness, or does autoimmunity run in your family?
  • Do you have a thyroid issue?
  • Do you regularly experience joint pain, stiffness or muscle soreness?
  • Do you suffer from acne, rashes or psoriasis?
  • Do you suffer from brain fog?
  • Do you suffer from migraines or other neurological symptoms?
  • Do you experience bloating, gas, irritable bowel symptoms, or acid reflux on a regular or semi-regular basis?
  • Do you have difficulty losing weight, even where you are eating a low calorie diet and exercising regularly?
  • Do you have symptoms that no one and nothing has ever been able to explain?

 

If you say “yes” to any one of these questions–there is a high probability that food sensitivities are in fact an issue for you.

 

As I said on the show, this is not some fad.  It is truly a silent mass epidemic of mammoth proportions affecting almost everyone you know to one degree or another.  And very often the most common symptoms involve destructive brain inflammation that can profoundly impact your mood, your memory and your ability to think.

 

brain on firedanger bad mood sign

 

On the show we talked about these foods affecting you within a couple of hours of eating them.  Even though this is somewhat true the trouble with that way of looking at it is that you are probably eating these foods all the time (in other words, nearly every day) and may never get enough of a break from them to notice clearly whether or how they are actually affecting you.  It’s not always a “Jekyll and Hyde” change—though for some people at times it can be.

 

For instance, on the flight to New York a few days ago there was a little boy who was throwing a full-blown screaming tantrum from the moment he was dragged by his hapless mother onto the plane (to the considerable chagrin of all passengers involved).  This tantrum lasted solidly for over an hour.  I found myself looking at my watch thinking, “hmmmm….four more hours before we land in New York…  Good times!  Parachute, please?” I was tempted to walk over and ask this child’s mother what he’d eaten for breakfast, though I didn’t.  I’m sure this wasn’t a bad kid.  I’m guessing he was at that moment just a prisoner in his own little nervous system that was being ravaged by an inflammatory reaction to something he ate. His brain was running wildly like a horse with no reigns.  Know anyone like that?  Maybe even you sometimes, perhaps?

 

Uncertain Brain

 

On the show I also mentioned my own recovery from depression, anxiety and panic attacks.  I lived with these debilitating and all-consuming symptoms for more than 30 years of my life.  Something called neurofeedback (which I write about more in my book) was an enormously helpful and supportive catalyst for liberation from these symptoms for me.  In fact, my experience with neurofeedback prompted me to become a neurofeedback provider myself and I have been seeing dramatic and even miraculous changes in others for the last 17 years that I have been doing this work (see www.EEGInfo.com for more information). There is no question, though that addressing these kinds of dietary issues has allowed me to make the most of what I gained from neurofeedback training in the most foundational way and has allowed me to remain symptom-free and even thrive ever since. I did not lie on the show when I said that addressing these dietary issues made an enormous and life changing difference for me.  I have found the combination to be quite powerful.  Diet was a huge issue for me and it is for countless millions in the world who may be suffering in ways they don’t understand. Eliminating foods to which you are sensitive to may be the single most important mental and physical health decision you will ever make.  It could even save your life. I know it did mine.

 

If you have ever really wondered why you feel the way you do and have never been able to explain it or address it effectively in a natural way, then you may need to look no further than your own immune system and how it is reacting to what it is you are choosing to eat!

 

I really hope you enjoyed the Dr. Oz Show and my appearance on it. I will say that it was very much an honor for me and a really wonderful experience I will never forget.  I was sincerely impressed with the kindness and genuineness of everyone I met working on the show, including the wonderful producers, and including Dr. Oz, himself. I also want to thank my own fans—in a truly heartfelt way—that made a point of coming to the show itself and participating in the studio audience.  It meant the world to me.

 

If you feel that my appearance on the show provided you with value, please don’t hesitate to write the show and let them know!  You can add your comments to the following webpage: www.doctoroz.com/contact.

 

Nora and Dr. Oz

 

Thanks for tuning in— and don’t be a stranger!   Be sure to sign up for my free newsletter and stay connected.  There is much, much more to come that can make a profound difference in your life you never may have thought possible.  This is only the beginning!

 

Finally…

 

storm 

Keep in mind:

 

“Emotions are little more than biochemical storms in your body and brain.

The healthier your biochemistry the better the emotional forecast”

~ Nora Gedgaudas

 

Your brain can be like a white, sandy beach with gently swaying palms or it can be hurricane Katrina.

 

white sandy beaches      OR      Hurricane Katrina

 

And the difference can be as simple as what it is you choose to put in your mouth.

 

And also remember:

 

Change is a process

If you miss the show on TV, the episode clips are available approximately 24 hours after air date.

http://www.doctoroz.com/episode/cracking-code-food-sensitivity

 

Optimizing Human & Planetary Health by Nora Gedgaudas

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