Sunday, January 20, 2019

Bone Broth for Gut Health


I am BACK! There has been quite a layoff as I have been focusing on building my business. I am back now and while I cannot promise weekly blog posts, I will definitely be posting more often. Today, I want to focus on Bone Broth.

Recently, bone broth has become the latest diet fad. Like most popular diets, an underlying logic exists at the foundation, but as the hype increases, this original reasoning is often lost. I decided to put the hype to the test. For the past two months, I have been making and consuming bone broth on a nearly daily basis.

In this post, I want to talk about the real benefits and uses of bone broth, separating the hype from the science. In addition, I will provide my won experience. Finally, I have provided my simple recipe and method for creating my own bone broth that rivals any gourmet broth that you will find.

Why Bone Broth


While bone broth is supposed to do everything from curing the common cold to helping you lose weight, I want to focus on the two primary benefits that have the most science behind them. First, bone broth is an excellent source of natural collagen. Additionally, bone broth can help restore gut biome health.

Collagen

Collagen is a structural protein that you will find in the connective tissue of your body. In particular, collagen helps with joint and skin health. However, collagen is also an important component of our muscles, intervertebral discs, blood vessels, and gut.

As long as you are consuming enough of the essential amino acids and protein, your body will be able to produce all the collagen that it needs. However, consuming collagen is a short cut to getting these nutrients in your body.

Personally, since I started my bone broth experiment, I have not noticed a significant improvement in my joints or skin. At my age, I have occasional joint pain and dry skin. I was hoping that I would see improvements in these areas, but so far I have not.

Gut Biome

The second way bone broth is supposed to help improve your health is by acting as a probiotic. The idea behind this is that bone broth promotes healthy gut bacteria and discourages unhealthy bacteria.

To help the bone broth in this way, when I make my bone broth (see recipe below), I use a lot of fibrous vegetables. By adding celery, parsnips, fennel, and carrots to the bone broth, I am adding dietary fiber which should increase the efficacy of the probiotic broth. In addition, I do not peel the root vegetables like the carrots and parsnips.

Personally, this is where the bone broth has had the greatest impact on my health. I usually eat a lot of vegetables and legumes. In particular, the beans, lentils, and raw vegetables can sometimes make me gassy. I have noticed a dramatic reduction in intestinal gas since I started consuming the bone broth. This, to me, is an indication that my gut biome health is improving.

References:


One of the biggest proponents of bone broth is Dr. Josh Axe.
Medical News
Food Revolution
Even Louise Hay was on the bone broth bandwagon before her passing


My Recipe for Bone Broth


In this recipe, I use an Instant Pot pressure cooker to prepare the bone broth. You can boil the bones over a longer time. I find using a pressure cooker is faster and it promotes the break down of the collagen and connective tissues better.

To blend the broth, you can use any blender. I personally like to blend small batches using my Nutri-Bullet.

For bones, I like to use ox tail, cow's feet, or chicken. I did use chicken backs once which made a very good broth, but it was rather troublesome to pick out all the vertebrae that had come loose.

INGREDIENTS


  • Broth Bones 
  • 1 Medium Onion
  • 2-3 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1-2 Medium Carrots
  • 1 Medium Parsnip
  • 2-3 Stalks of Celery
  • 2-3 Stalks of Fennel
  • 1-2 Small White Potatoes
  • Fresh Cilantro (optional)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • Water


INSTRUCTIONS


  1. Wash the bones and add them to the pot
  2. Wash and chop all the vegetables and add to the pot
  3. Add salt and water to the just below the maximum level
  4. Cook on high-pressure for 60-70 minutes
  5. Allow to cool for 2-3 hours
  6. Remove the bones
  7. Blend in a blender mixing any "meat" from the bones with the cooked vegetables
  8. Storage in the freezer or refrigerator 
  9. Re-heat in 8-12 ounce servings and consume hot


PHOTOS


All the veggie ingredients in the Instant Pot before cooking.





















After cooking for 1 hour at high pressure in the Instant Pot.





















After blending the broth in my Nutri-Bullet and reheating (ready to eat).








Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Know Your Macronutrients, Part 1: Protein



Over the next three weeks, I cam going to discuss the three main types of nutrients found in the food we eat. We call these building blocks Macronutrients. These are distinguished from micronutrients like vitamins and minerals because we need macronutrients in large quantities and micronutrients in small quantities. The three macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates, and fat. This week, we will begin with protein.

"Eat more protein" has been a catch phrase in marketing campaigns in the last several years. However, what exactly is protein and why is it important?

What is Protein


Protein is a large molecule chain of various amino acids. While there are hundreds of naturally occurring amino acids, we will focus the 9 essential amino acids. Although there are 22 proteinogenic (or protein building) amino acids in total, these nine cannot be synthesized in our bodies and must come from our food intake. They are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Therefore, it is important that we eat protein sources that will provide all 9 essential amino acids. A food that provides all nine amino acids is a "complete" protein; complete in the sense that no additional amino acids are needed. When a food contains some amino acids, but not all, then it is an "incomplete" protein.

Meat, egg, and dairy protein sources are complete, so the concept of complete, incomplete and complementary proteins is important to those who eat a vegan diet primarily. I remember many years ago when I was in high school biology, I learned that there are to plant-based, complete proteins. However, this is not true. Soy products, hemp seeds, buckwheat, quinoa, and pumpkin seeds do provide all 9 essential amino acids. You should note that hemp seeds, however, do provide very low amounts of lysine, so making sure you eat some beans or lentils which are both high in lysine.

This brings us to another method for those eating a plant-based diet to get the proper protein intake known as complementary foods. The idea here is to combine two protein sources to make sure you get all needed amino acids. For example, eating beans or lentils (high in lysine but lacking methionine) with brown rice (high in methionine, but lacking lysine) provides an excellent balance of all amino acids. Spirulina is a high-protein algae but also lacks methionine, so combining it with brown rice or tree nuts forms a complete protein.

Why Is Protein Important?


Protein is important for the function of almost all cells in your body. Your body needs protein to build new cells and repair damaged tissue. So, if cuts are taking a long time to heal, that could be a sign of protein deficiency. The amino acids that form protein are also the building blocks for enzymes, hormones, skin, blood, muscles, cartilage, and bones. Basically, it is the chemistry set of your body.

While the diets of the day invite you to eat more and more protein, most Americans eat much more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA). The RDA for protein is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. To convert this easily, multiply 0.36 by your body weight in pounds. For example, if I weight 150 pounds, that means I should consume 54 grams of protein per day (about 2 ounces). Yes, that is not very much protein! New research indicates that this number might be too low. In any case, you want to be sure that you are getting high quality protein, but not in excess. A good rule of thumb that many nutritionists recommend is a serving about the size of your palm with each meal.

Protein Quality


In general, I would recommend against dairy products as a source of protein. While advertisers claim that milk, cheese, and yogurt are good sources of protein, the fact is that dairy products come with variety of digestive concerns. Therefore, I recommend avoiding dairy. (Note: butter and ghee are fats and will be discussed in a later post.)

I also recommend avoiding processed meats like ham, sausage, salami, and bacon. (Yes, avoid bacon.) Processed meats have a lot of additives and typically come from feed-lot stock. This is one reason why processed meats are classified as "likely to cause cancer."

If you are going to consume animal protein, then I would stick to the following:

  • Grass fed, pastured beef
  • Bison
  • Elk
  • Wild boar
  • Free-range, organic poultry
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Organic eggs

If you want to limit yourself to plant-based proteins, then these are all healthy choices:

  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • Seeds (pumpkin, flax, chia)
  • Nuts 
  • Tofu, tempeh, and soy-based products (make sure organic, non-GMO and limited quantities)


Problems with Too Much Protein


Finally, my discussion of protein requires a quick look at the dangers of eating too much protein. First, when your body digests protein, especially animal protein, it creates ammonia as a by product. This leads to "keto breath." The build up in ammonia causes ammonia breath and also ammonia in the urine. While annoying, this does not cause any serious health risk as long as you are drinking enough water to allow your body to flush the ammonia build up.

Too much animal protein can leads to too many unhealthy fats. Most animal protein comes with its share of fat as well, especially when processed. For example, fried chicken comes with a good serving of bad fats. Processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, or sausage, often includes a high percentage of fat compared to protein. In part 3 of this series, I will discuss healthy and unhealthy fats.

Finally, research is beginning to show that excess protein, especially animal protein, can contribute to insulin resistance. While still controversial, if you are diabetic, or pre-diabetic, I would be careful to eat moderate amounts of protein, especially animal protein.


Next week, I will discuss the new Public Enemy #1: Carbs






Wednesday, September 26, 2018

How to Fix the Health Crisis


There can be little doubt that we are in the middle of a health crisis in the United States and it is rapidly being exported to the rest of the world. Obviously there is no simple solution to a very complex problem, but I would like to propose, at least, a start.


King for a Day


One of my favorite podcasts is Mark Hyman's The Doctor's Farmacy. In this podcast, he interviews well known figures in the areas of functional medicine, nutrition, health, and spirituality. One question Dr. Hyman always asks each guest is, "If you were King/Queen for a day, what is the one policy you would like to enact to have the greatest impact?" As I listen to his podcast, I like to think about how I would answer that question.

In a recent episode with Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, I was very intrigued by Mozaffarian's answer to this question. Since listening to the episode, I have been thinking more and more about this. So I decided to write out my answer this question in this week's blog. If I were King for a Day, this would be my "executive order."


My Executive Order


Date: September 26, 2018
Executive Order Number 1
Title: Overhaul of Health and Nutrition Policy
The following measures are to be implemented immediately:
  1. All government subsidies for corn, wheat, soy, and dairy will be immediately terminated.
  2. All pasturing of animal livestock on government and public lands will be immediately terminated.
  3. The funds that were previously used to subsidize wheat, corn, soy, and dairy will be used to create farmer subsidies for organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables. In particular, government assistance would be given to those farmers who wanted to change from the production of wheat, corn, soy, or dairy to the production of organic, non-GMO green vegetables, fruits, and root vegetables.
  4. All tax cuts for the production of processed foods will be eliminated.
  5. All sweetened carbonated soda (where sweetened with sugar or a substitute) will be taxed at $0.05 per fluid ounce.
  6. All processed foods will face a federal tax of 1% of the retail price.
  7. All processed foods that contain added sugar will face a federal tax of 3% of the retail price.
  8. The funds from the soda and processed foods taxes will go into a fund that may only be used for nutritional education and assistance with healthy lifestyle change
  9. Income tax deductions will be created in the tax code for activities that support health and exercise. Examples include yoga classes, gym memberships, nutrition classes, etc.

Faithfully executed,
Mark Andres
King for a Day


My Reasoning


While I know there is very little likelihood of this actually happening because it would be violently opposed by the medical establishment, big pharma, big food, big soda, and the agriculture lobby. However, I do think it is a system that would in time allow these industries to continue to do business, just under a more healthy and sustainable model. The only way to make this work is to involve big business and allow them to continue to be profitable.

The problem that we see right now is that almost all of the big players are rewarded for keeping us sick. Obviously, big pharma and the medical establishment makes more money if the general population is chronically ill. Currently, big food is rewarded with tax breaks for producing highly processed, unhealthy food that contributes to diabetes and obesity. Likewise, farmers, both small and industrial, are rewarded for producing crops that are designed primarily to feed animals rather than humans. In addition, their subsides support wheat, corn, soy, and dairy which contribute to many chronic diseases.

Therefore, my solution is to simply flip the rewards. If we can reward these industries for keeping us healthy rather than keeping us sick, they will be motivated to do so. While we may never be able to make this palatable for big pharma and big medicine, we can certainly do this for other industries. 

I would love to hear your ideas either in the comments or by contacting me directly.






Wednesday, September 19, 2018

MSP Rescue


Over the past month, I have been busy working on a new project and I would like to unveil it today. As you may know, I have worked in IT for over 25 years with the last 12 or so years being an IT Consultant. My long term goal was to eventually work as a "consultant to the consultant" helping new IT consultants start and develop their business. Well, as they say, the future is now. Recent circumstances led me to start this now. Thus, MSP Rescue was born!


What is MSP Rescue?


MSP Rescue is a service to help sole IT consultants or small managed service providers (MSP) build their businesses. This involves a few services:


  • Business development coaching and consulting - I can help them learn all aspects of sales and marketing so they can learn how to attract and land ideal clients.
  • System setup - I can help with setup and use of basic software systems for MSPs such as PSA (Connectwise, Autodesk) or RMM (Kaseya, N-Able, Labtech).
  • Project management and staffing - I can help manage and/or execute large client projects such as office moves, cloud migrations, or AV setups.
  • Temporary staffing - I can provide temporary staffing and back-fill work for staff loss or vacations.
  • Remote hands staffing - For consultants not in the San Francisco Bay Area, but with clients that have some presence here, I can provide on-site remote hands work such as equipment installation, network configuration, etc.


Why I Started MSP Rescue


Throughout my career, I have always been passionate about working with small businesses and helping entrepreneurs attain success. To that end, I decided to focus on helping smaller MSPs and consulting firms (especially, one or two person operations) be successful and learn how to compete with the "big firms." I believe that by following the right steps, you can build a successful IT consulting business and I want to help you do just that.


In particular, I have learned that "selling" services, and especially IT services, is vastly different from selling products. Unfortunately, many sales books, seminars, and techniques are designed for selling products and do not translate well to selling services. I want to help IT consultants learn how to market and sell their services, so they can build successful MSP companies.



My Core Values


  1. Building a lasting relationship with your client is the key to long-term success.
  2. Trust is the most important element in the relationship. When trust is broken, the relationship is doomed.
  3. Integrity and honesty will set you apart from your competition.
  4. You have to know where you are going to get there. A failure to plan is a plan for failure.
  5. How you do one thing is how you do everything. You can't fake a successful mindset.

Check out my new website:  www.msp-rescue.com

In addition, I also have have a new MSP Rescue blog that comes out on Fridays:  msprescue.blogspot.com



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Is Sugar the New Cocaine?


Several years ago, when I first heard sugar compared to cocaine, I thought the comparison sounded a little bit exaggerated. I mean, come on! How can something we eat everyday be compared to a very serious drug? However, the more I researched into processed sugar, the more I feel that the comparison holds up.

Processed vs. Natural


Cocaine comes from the coca leaf, native to the northwestern regions of South America. In its natural form, the leaves have been used as a traditional medicine to treat altitude sickness, digestive issues, and headaches. Used as both an anesthetic and a pain reliever, the coca leaves were considered a sacred plant in traditional Andean cultures. They would chew the leaves or make a tea (mate) from the leaves.

To become cocaine, humans process and refine the chemical compounds in the coca leaves to produce the white powder that we call cocaine or Benzoylmethylecgonine. In fact, cocaine is so processed, that eating or ingesting cocaine typically has little or no effect because it is neutralized the acid in our stomachs. To get any effect from ingesting cocaine, you typically have to consume it with a highly alkaline substance such as lime. This is why cocaine is typically snorted or injected.

In sum, in its natural form, coca leaves provide a mild analgesic and stimulant effect and were prized in traditional medicine for their curative powers. When you refine it into a white powder, it becomes dangerous and very addictive. What about sugar?

In nature, sugar is found in many plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables as well as in milk. In breast milk, the lactose (milk sugar) is there to provide energy for a growing baby. However, humans, like all other mammals, are evolved to stop drinking milk after being weaned. The sugar that is found naturally in plants is accompanied by fiber. Even a sugar cane, the juice of which is used to make table sugar, is very fibrous.

Sugar cane, sugar beets, and many fruits all have a high content of sugar. However, typically, those foods that are high in sugar are also high in fiber. For example, a mango has a lot of sugar but also a lot of dietary fiber. The fiber helps to slow the absorption of the sugar into the blood stream, preventing the blood sugar spike that you get from eating processed sugar.

Like cocaine, humans process and refine these plants until you end up with a white powder: sugar. Alternatively, they take corn, which is produced in an extreme over-abundance in the United States, and they process the corn to extra the fructose, leading to high fructose corn syrup.

Addictive Qualities


While still not accepted completely in scientific literature, increasing research shows that sugar is highly addictive. The study that stands out is one where rats that were addicted to cocaine gave up cocaine for sugar or saccharin and became addicted to those instead. Here is the original journal abstract.

There are some who oppose this view. Here is a journal article that disputes the addictive nature of sugar in humans. One thing to note is that the food and sugar industry regularly sponsor research that only gets published if the results shine a positive light on sugar or other processed foods.

The Food Industry's Role


Which brings us to the food and sugar industry. If I told you that the manufacturers were adding cocaine to baby formula in order to get babies addicted to cocaine so they would later crave and buy foods with added cocaine, you would probably freak out. However, that is exactly what is happening with something even more addictive. Baby formula has added refined sugar and this is exactly what the food industry wants. Over the last several decades, the food industry has purposely added sugar to more and more foods to get consumers both addicted to the sugar and hooked on the "sweet taste" of foods. Here is a graph that shows the increase in sugar consumption over time in the US.



A Final Note


If you would like to kick the sugar habit, I have a free gift for you. I created an e-book with eight simple steps to help you kick processed sugar and end your addiction. It is free for anyone to download. Just follow this link.


I am back after a week off. I am working on a new big project and I will be unveiling that project in next week's blog.


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Cowspiracy


From time to time, I would like to add in book or movie reviews that I think are helpful. Here is a movie review of an important documentary that I believe all Americans should watch.

Documentary, 2014 (90 min.)


This film by Kip Andersen looks at the primary cause of green-house gas production: animal agriculture. Andersen explores the levels of destruction that factory farming has on the earth and the environment. He asks the question, "Why are environmental groups ignoring this?" He points out the real inconvenient truth behind Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth."

Throughout the movie, Andersen tries to meet with large environmental groups like Greenpeace, The Sierra Club, Oceana, and the WWF to see what their position is on animal agriculture being the main cause of environment destruction. Time and time again, he is turned away. He also attempts to talk government officials with the same basic results. In between, you get commentary from experts willing to talk about the real issues. Finally, Andersen intermingles cases where the animal agriculture business has used influence, intimidation, and even murder to protect their turf. He notes that groups continue to focus on fossil fuels as the cause which animal agriculture is responsible for a much higher percentage of green house gas emission.

If you consider yourself an environmentalist, then you should probably watch this movie. If you are concerned about climate change, then you should probably watch this movie. And after you watch this movie, you might want to consider eating plant-based more often.

Available on Netflix and Amazon as of this post.

Read Greenpeace's after the movie release response here.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

My Trinity of Good Health


One of the main reasons why I eat plant-based whole foods is because I want to eat healthy and feel good. Therefore, it is only natural that I am also seeking out other ways to feel healthy. As I feel fitter and healthier, I have found what I call my "Trinity of Good Health." This trio works well for me. Your mileage may vary.

Doing Tai Chi


In 2004, I started doing Tai Chi with the Taoist Tai Chi Society, Columbus (Ohio) Branch. I did Tai Chi with TTCS until 2009 when life sort of got in the way. In 2016, I started the year by going back to the TTCS and starting to do Tai Chi with the Palo Alto location. Since then, I have been going regularly and recently became a beginning instructor. In addition, I am now the Palo Alto location leader.

The reason why I do Tai Chi is that it has helped me tremendously to loosen my back, strengthen my legs, improve my balance, and most importantly, help me to relieve stress. When you do Tai Chi, you are focused on the movements and your body positions. You have to concentrate, so Tai Chi becomes a moving meditation. And there is a lot of stretching and strengthening, especially in the back. After a Tai Chi class, I feel completely relaxed and in what I call a "blissed out" state. That is what keeps me coming back for more.


Doing Yoga


I have been doing yoga on and off since I was in college. My first experience with yoga came in a class on Indian religion and culture. As part of the class, in the last 10 minutes, we were invited to learn some yoga practices like pranayamas (breathing techniques) and yoga asanas (postures). I remember using an old blanket since I did not have a yoga mat and really enjoying doing yoga.

In Columbus in the early 2000s, I started doing yoga regularly, as in taking classes. Yoga teacher extraordinaire Kit Spahr introduced me to Yin Yoga and it was love at first asana. Yin Yoga involves stretching the tendons and ligaments (yin in Chinese medicine) as opposed to stretching the muscles (yang in Chinese medicine), You passively let gravity do the stretching and you just relax into it. You are stressing the tissues and it takes patience and practice to learn to relax into certain poses. At the end of class, you feel all melty and relaxed. In Columbus, I mainly did Yin and Restorative yoga, with an occasional Hatha Yoga class thrown in.

Again, at the end of 2009, life got in the way, and I put my yoga practice on hold. I occasionally did yoga at home, but did not take any classes or do a sustained practice. My yoga mat mostly collected dust. So after restarting my Tai Chi practice in 2016, I decided to kick off 2017 by restarting my yoga practice. I especially like Yin and Restorative yoga, but I have also been exploring more active yoga classes to pair with the Yin and Restorative. I have tried Iyengar Yoga, but I am not really sold on it. For now, I am adding Hatha and Vinyasa classes to my yoga practice. I really enjoy taking yoga at Prajna Center in Belmont, CA. IT has the most wonderful energy and atmosphere.


Eating Plant-Based


Obviously the third part is eating a healthy vegan diet. I cannot speak for every person, but I know for myself that when I eat plant-based whole foods, I feel better. My body is lighter and healthier. My skin and sinuses are better. I sleep better.

This may sound strange, but I really feel that the cells of my body are happier when I eat a plant-based diet. It is as if the actual cells of my body are saying, "Yes! This is what we want!" After I eat a healthy vegan meal full of veggies, I feel the same happy, blissed out feeling that I feel after a Tai Chi or Yin Yoga class. That is what motivates me to continue eating healthy plant-based meals.