diet, low carb, paleo

Does God care if I’m overweight or unhealthy? Part 1 of 2

I believe God DOES care – a lot! And this is my story and how I learned this important truth.

Many years ago, I took part in a Bible study that focused on losing weight using several different techniques that did help me become thinner. One of the weekly studies focused on a Bible verse from Proverbs 23:
When you sit to dine with a ruler, note well what is before you, and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.

That verse struck me as quite harsh and shocking. I had never really thought about overeating or eating just to eat might be anything that bothered God or was sinful. I knew He’d set forth all sorts of dietary laws in the Pentateuch, but I never made a connection between HOW & WHAT He wanted us to eat.

So, this verse in Proverbs really rocked my world. I pondered and meditated on this verse for days. I never thought I might be a glutton! That realization was VERY hard to wrap my head around. I tried to rationalize my overeating, my emotional eating, my eating when I was bored. It seemed that everywhere I turned, I heard this verse in my head. I saw evidence that God did not want me to overeat. Various “accidents” happened; I dropped bites of food. I spilled soda. I was repeatedly shocked by the simple methods God used to decrease my food intake.

IMG_6275.JPGFor the past 10 years, I’ve continued to utilize many of the techniques I learned in that Bible study; I’ve even taught patients to use some of them. But I’ve rarely mentioned the verse that stirred such guilt & shame in my own spirit & emotions. I was afraid. I was guilty. I was ashamed. I was shocked. It was very hard for me to recognize that God wanted me to “cut my throat” if I was going to overeat. It sounded so very harsh then and still sounds harsh today. But in the years since I first studied the verse, I’ve begun to come to terms with what I believe God tried to set forth in this verse.

First of all, I know I’m not perfect. I still sometimes overeat or make an unhealthy choice. My goal is to help people see that God knows the desire of our human nature is selfishness – even in eating – and He does not want us to feel so guilty, fearful, or ashamed. He wants us to enjoy eating. He wants us to be joyful. He wants us to LIVE. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses wrote to the Israelites, saying ” Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (NIV, v 33).

Do you see that God wants us to LIVE? Living is not surviving. Living is not becoming overweight, unhealthy or unhappy. Living is being able to overcome & be victorious. Living is joyful – even during trials & tribulations, we can have inner peace & joy when we pursue LIFE. God really does WANT us to live with this idea at the heart of our being; He wants our focus on Christ and His ways so that we can LIVE a long life. Proverbs 10:7 says, “The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short.” God isn’t saying that life will always be shortened as punishment, but may be a result of poor choices. Scripture is full of evidence of poor choices that resulted in serious consequences. God’s desire is NOT to punish us. His desire is to bless us – over & over again. He wants to give us long, healthy lives. When we make repeated bad choices, often those choices have their own consequences by laws of nature, science, chemistry, or physics. God is not going to override natural laws to save us from ourselves. Some of these consequences include illness and shortened life.

How can we obtain God’s favor and live long healthy lives? It’s easy. We seek His will, guidance & pursue a relationship with Him. We also go back in history to learn how people ate in the past. In Biblical days, many people lived to be well over 100 years old; Moses lived to 120. Joshua died at age 110. Noah lived 950 years. How? Why? Even if years were measured differently then (they weren’t much different), Noah lived a LONG, LONG time. How? Why? Can we adopt any of the habits or culture to help us today? I believe we can.

In Genesis, God gave the Garden of Eden & livestock of the land to Adam & Eve. He gave these to Adam & Eve for their own nourishment. He provided plants and animals for eating & satisfying our need for fuel & nutrients. He wanted us to enjoy eating and so He created a variety of tasty plants.

However, modern society has taken advantage of the earth & altered methods of planting, harvesting, & processing. Many of these methods have adulterated natural foods and removed nutritional value that God intended. One of the most common ways to improve nutrition state, is to cut out most or all of the processed, highly chemical-laden foods. Most processed and prepackaged food items have almost no nutritional value. Read nutrition labels, if you’re skeptical. Compare labels of white bread and whole grain bread, for example. There is very little difference in nutrient content. If whole grains are supposed to so much healthier for us, why is there no increased nutrient density?

Looking back over time, having bread at every meal every day was not common. Breads were difficult to have in large quantities because wheat and other grains have a long growing season & require a large amount of field to grow enough for use. With poor storage methods, grains were used seasonally, not daily. The only time in history that people ate bread daily is when God provided manna from Heaven to the children of Israel. He instructed them to gather it daily except for the Sabbath because it wouldn’t keep well. That manna provided plenty of nutrients because Scripture is clear – they ate manna daily for 40 years – and the people suffered no ill health effects. Other than this specified 40 years, humans have only had breads/grains seasonally. What did they eat the rest of the year? Meat. Meat is the only food source that has always been available.

Fruits & vegetables were only available seasonally. Very few plant products were easily stored for weeks or months on end. They did not use chemical preservatives to keep foods stable on a store shelf for months at a time. They used salt and fat to preserve foods. They built in-ground cellars where temps were cooler, but food was rarely stored for more than a few months.

In summary, God intends for us to LIVE long, healthy lives. How? First, realize that He has provided a way. Next, look to nature for most food sources. Avoid eating food-like items that man has conjured up in a chemistry lab or manufacturing plant. Look to the farm – the closer a food is to nature, the higher the nutrient content. Nutrient-dense foods are from the farm/garden. Foods with the most nutrition are meats, vegetables, & natural fats. Only consume fruits as occasional treats – fruits would only have been available seasonally, not year round. Substituting fruits for unhealthy highly processed carbs may seem like a good option, but remember they still convert to fructose & glucose, and too much can still cause ill health.

Finally, does God care if we are healthy or not? Of course He cares. He wants us to be healthy. He wants a full life for each of us. He’s designed a great way for us to be healthy and live a long time. Our next blog article will offer many tips to do just that!

diabetes, diet, gluten-free, Grain free, Guidelines, hormone, immune system, insulin, insulin resistant, keto, ketogenic, lifestyle, low carb, NAFLD, nurse, nurse practitioner, paleo, PCOS, steroid, supplement, vitamin

Fiber – Useful or Harmful?

Fiber has been encouraged for many years in the hopes that it would improve gastrointestinal motility, and many products have been sold advocating such use. Fiber has been recommended by all sorts of health care providers, including doctors, nurses, nutritionists and therapists. Is fiber truly helpful, though? Recent independent studies indicate fiber may be contributing to more symptoms and problems than it’s helping.  As a bulking agent, fiber is used to literally, fill up the space inside the large intestine. The large intestine cannot absorb fiber, nor break it down any further as it moves through the gut. Fiber that enters the colon will absorb excess water, swelling to its maximal capability, filling every space it can occupy. Over days and even weeks of regular fiber use, more fiber enters the large intestine and swells even more, gently pushing swollen fibers forward through the intestines. This action is very slow and can take 2-3 weeks in an average adult. The slow motility means that taking a fiber supplement today will not contribute to today’s bowel movement – not even tomorrow’s. It is the combination of these 2 factors that make us now question the benefits of fiber supplementation: swelling of the fiber and slow motility through the system. With fiber supplementation, many patients report worsening constipation, bloating, abdominal pain, weight gain, gas, cramping, shortness of breath, obstruction and even diarrhea within days of beginning a supplement. While the theoretical goal of fiber supplementation is to slowly clean out the large intestine, the mechanism by which this system actually occurs is problematic and poses some serious health consequences.

We’ve known for a long time now, that some people who consume a high fiber diet often develop diverticulosis – or enlarged pockets along the large intestine. What we have not known or understood is why/how the enlargement occurs, but I would venture to say with this new research data available, that the most likely causes of diverticulosis would be chronic constipation and/or possible high fiber supplement use. Allowing stool to move too slowly through the gut contributes to build-up of wastes, blocking adequate absorption, filling the pockets and getting “stuck” in them. Over time, these static wastes are pushed further and further into those pockets, forcing them to stretch out of shape and become enlarged, even though some stool continues to pass right on by that stuck stool. No symptoms are typically felt or noticed. This problem can create serious illness and severe complication in the form of diverticulitis and obstruction – both of which can be life-threatening.

Moving on to other nutritional aspects of fiber takes us into the nutritional info of foods. Counting carbohydrates is a common nutrition plan for lowering glucose and reversing many chronic conditions. Many low carb experts often instruct people to subtract fiber grams from total grams of carbohydrates, because the fiber is not absorbed or converted into glucose. For example, 1 cup of almonds contains approximately 20 grams of carbohydrates and 11 of them make up the fiber content; some low carbers will say that eating 1 cup of almonds actually only contains 9 grams of net carbs, and thus you only have to count the 9 grams in your calculation of carbs consumed. However, many people with diabetes find that they will have a rise in glucose above and beyond the 9 grams of carbs in that cup of almonds. Why? Some low carb experts suggest that some of the insoluble fiber can impact glucose in many people; in addition, normal gut flora include a variety of healthy bacteria that ARE able to break down some of that insoluble fiber, possibly resulting in glucose release into the GI tract/bloodstream. In addition, some of these insoluble fibers are used as artificial sweeteners, like mannitol, xylitol, & erythritol; manufacturers are catching on to the “net carb” craze and are beginning to produce and label many processed foods using these sugar alcohols. However, there are a couple of problems here; one problem is the elevated glucose with use of these products. The other problem is because these sugar alcohols are insoluble and not easily digestible, they often trigger abdominal cramping and diarrhea in patients, which alters normal gut flora, resulting in even more damage to the gastrointestinal tract and overall health.


Gut flora? Hey, what is that? Well, our intestines are lined with millions of microscopic bacteria that aid in intestinal lining protection, digestion, absorption, and immunity. In fact, some experts now believe that more than 90% of our immune system lies within our intestines. Nearly all of our bodies’ healthy bacteria are located within the intestines, and the job of these bacteria is to break down fiber that your body wasn’t able to break down. During this bacterial digestion of fiber, short-chain fatty acids, like butyrate, are formed and are used to help maintain a feeling of fullness for a long time and maintain the health of the lining of the intestines.

Once the normal balance of healthy bacteria is altered, digestion and absorption are impaired, the lining of the gut is damaged, and inflammation develops. Inflammation within the gut can trigger a wide variety of symptoms and health conditions, including diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, obesity, diabetes, Crohn’s and more. If altered gut flora is contributing to poor digestion, absorption, and diarrhea, how will the body obtain nutrients? How will the large intestine properly push wastes on through the system? If the short-chain fatty acids are no longer produced by the healthy gut bacteria, we get hungry again and again – we eat more often, and we’re more likely to eat nutrient-poor fake foods. If the specific short-chain fatty acid, butyrate, is not available for increasing energy production and for cell replication, damage to the lining of the intestines may be serious, resulting in a variety of illnesses including cancer. Combine all these factors and significant intestinal conditions develop or worsen and health is impaired.


So what does all of this information mean? In summary, it means that fiber may be useful for digestion, but not as added supplements, tablets, or pills; rather, the body much prefers natural forms of fiber – low carb vegetables and pre-biotic vegetables – but because of likely glycemic impact, fiber grams should always be counted on a low carb nutrition plan. The only way to know for sure if these insoluble fibers impact your glucose is test. Use a glucometer to check blood sugar prior to eating insoluble fiber. At 1 hour increments, re-check glucose levels and watch the trend over 4-6 hours.

Probiotics can be purchased over the counter and come in a variety of formulations; some come in single strains, while others come with a combination of healthy bacteria. Probiotic supplements contain active, live healthy bacteria, that are released during digestion to colonize the intestines. There are no specific recommendations or guidelines to take probiotics, although many people claim daily is optimal, while others say weekly is sufficient.

Another digestive aid is called a pre-biotic, certain vegetables or foods that actually serve as nutrition sources for the healthy bacteria within the gut. Pre-biotics include asparagus, sauerkraut, kefir, kumbucha, fresh garlic, leeks, and onions.

As mentioned previously, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are essential to our digestive system. While there are several SCFAs, butyrate is probably the most common and one of the most useful; butyrate is helpful at maintaining intestinal health and one of the best sources of butyrate is real butter.

What causes altered gut flora? Well, let’s start by taking a look at some causes. Smokers often have higher risks of GI conditions, including ulcers. Diabetes and the medicines used to treat it often cause terrible gut flora, especially metformin. Approximately 85% of people with reflux have been found to also have chronic constipation, and the medicines used to treat reflux significantly alter the pH and thus impair the ability of healthy bacteria to enjoy an optimal environment. Antibiotics are designed to kill off fast-growing bacteria, in order to treat infections, but the antibiotics have no idea that they are supposed to only kill the bacteria causing your sinus or skin infection; antibiotics are most commonly recognized for causing abdominal cramping and diarrhea – symptoms of gut flora imbalance. Simple little GI viruses or mild cases of food poisoning nearly completely empty the gut of healthy bacteria. As you can see, almost anything can alter the health of our intestinal tract.

So, what does all this mean? In general, it means that 1.) our guts may need some fiber in the form of non-starchy vegetables, 2.) healthy bacteria are necessary for optimal digestion, 3.) any GI upset can alter the normal gut flora,

causing a wide variety of GI symptoms, that alter health. 4.) Probiotics can be helpful at restoring normal gut flora, and a couple of weeks later, adding in prebiotics is often helpful at maintaining GI health.

One special note: recently, I’ve seen marketing of soil-based probiotics. I’d caution you to avoid using these probiotics, as humans weren’t meant to consume soil. Animals consume soil in small amounts when grazing and can use these types of bacteria in the gut, especially ruminants – like cows. But these probiotics can actually be harmful to humans.

diabetes, diet, gluten-free, Grain free, Guidelines, hormone, immune system, insulin, insulin resistant, keto, ketogenic, lifestyle, low carb, NAFLD, nurse, nurse practitioner, paleo, PCOS, Recipes, steroid, supplement, vitamin, vitamin D

What is Vitamin D & Why Do I Need It?

vit d pathwayVitamin D is called a vitamin; it’s often called a hormone. It’s often called a vitamin that acts like a hormone.  So, which is it?  It’s actually all of the above.  Vitamin D is a fat-soluble agent with a chemical structure similar to a steroid.  Which makes sense, as Vitamin D is one of the major ingredients of all steroid-based hormones produced in our bodies. Our bodies were created and designed to absorb sunshine via skin and then a variety of chemical reactions would occur so our bodies actually made its own vitamin D.  However, since the skin cancer scare of the 1970s, the general population applies thick layers of sunscreen and we rarely remove enough clothing to bare our skin for this natural process to occur.  This long-term lack of sunshine on our skin is producing entire generations of significantly deficient people in our society.

What happens when we are low in vitamin D? How does a vitamin D deficiency affect people’s health? Because vitamin D is vital to numerous human processes, it can be quite complex to discuss its actions, roles, and benefits to our bodies.  We will attempt to explain vitamin D as simply as possible, describing the intricacies and complex utilization of vitamin D.

 vit d image

The oldest known function of vitamin D is the role in bone growth and development; we’ve all seen photos of young children with rickets (legs bowing outward) because of a severe deficiency of vitamin D. Without adequate D in the bloodstream, bones cannot grow or develop properly.  For years, calcium was reported to be the “hero” of the skeleton.  People with weakening bones were urged to take high doses of calcium daily “to protect your bones” and prevent osteoporosis.  However, in recent years, that advice has been scaled back a bit; no longer is it general health advice to recommend calcium supplementation unless there is known osteoporosis or osteopenia.  Even where there is evidence, many providers won’t recommend it lightly; they take great care in explaining the risks/benefits and often encourage vitamin D in place of or at least along with the calcium.  So, just what does the vitamin D do for bones?  It’s most recognized benefit is that it aids absorption of calcium from the intestines; it’s the reason vitamin d is added to milk and other dairy products.  Milk/dairy products do NOT naturally contain vitamin D; it is added to promote calcium absorption into the bones for effective use in growth & development. Vitamin D helps keep bones strong and also helps prevent weak, brittle bones in the elderly.

In addition to bone health, vitamin D is recognized for its effects in the brain; it has been called “the depression vitamin” among health care professionals for many years because it is a vital component of neurotransmitters in the brain. Three major neurotransmitters in the brain requiring adequate amounts of vitamin D include serotonin, oxytocin, and vasopressin; serotonin is a neurotransmitter vital for transmitting nerve impulses. Serotonin is also important for mood regulation; pain perception; gastrointestinal function, including perception of hunger and satiety; and other physical functions. Oxytocin is released from the brain when it is needed for a variety of body needs, including labor & delivery at the end of pregnancy, during sexual arousal, and it is often referred to as “the love hormone” because of its impact on emotional relationships. Vasopressin is an anti-diuretic hormone that regulates fluid balance within the body and bloodstream. It works to prevent excess fluid loss and helps maintain homeostasis (normal internal chemistry) by maintaining the concentration of dissolved particles, such as salts and glucose, in the blood. Reviewing all 3 of these neurotransmitters and their major functions is vital to understand brain chemistry; can you see how a shortage of vitamin D would impact nearly all normal body functions and even our relationships, moods, and emotions?

Vitamin D’s impact on glucose has only recently been identified; multiple studies show conflicting data as this area is new to research. However, knowing that vitamin D is an essential ingredient of vasopressin, and that vasopressin helps maintain healthy glucose concentrations, does it not then make perfectly logical sense that a shortage of vitamin D will result indirectly or directly in elevated glucose levels?

In addition, a recent study shows that fasting glucose levels, insulin levels and insulin resistance all improved with vitamin D supplementation. Additionally, this study suggests that pro-inflammatory cytokines that are thought to contribute to insulin resistance were down-regulated with this vitamin D supplementation. Translation: with high carb/high sugar intakes, we are finding significantly elevated levels of inflammatory markers, like cytokines, that are more linked to heart disease, heart attacks and strokes than we ever imagined. Vitamin D supplementation appears to reduce that inflammation as part of the body’s normal healing/tissue repair processes.

However, let’s review again: former advice to take calcium for bone health came with advice to also take vitamin D to aid absorption of the calcium. Just as calcium needs vitamin D for absorption & effective utilization, so vitamin D needs some help. Magnesium and vitamin K2 are necessary for the absorption and use of vitamin D. Recent studies have shown even the very high doses of vitamin D prescribed by health care providers (50,000 IUs) as a weekly regimen barely raised vitamin D levels at all after 4-6 weeks, the usual recommended time frame for dosing. Once study participants added a magnesium and/or vitamin K supplement to their regular dosing regimen, vitamin D levels immediately began to rise. These studies are why we typically recommend vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2 to most people with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Recently some reports are suggesting that vitamin D is integral to our immune system; some experts and studies are recommending to add or increase vitamin D supplementation during a variety of illnesses, including colds, flu, respiratory illness, asthma, and more.

What about doses of these supplements? There are limited studies and recommendations because this field is so new and mainstream medical providers are hesitant to make recommendations to patients without a large body of support. The Endocrine Society has stated that a deficiency of vitamin D exists when lab levels fall below 20 ng/mL; however, many reputable experts and organizations say that level should be 40 or even 50 ng/mL. Because of limited evidence, it’s difficult to specify a particular dose. Even more recently, various mainstream medical organizations like the Endocrine Society have stated that health care providers should not draw a vitamin D level on patients anymore, because we’re all deficient anyway, & the test is very expensive; most insurances won’t cover the costs either. So how are we supposed to know what dose to take? Well, the current recommendations for dosing are not clear and without a known vitamin D level, finding your perfect dose may be tricky, but many people find that 1,000 – 2,000 IUs daily is a good maintenance dose; some people just beginning to supplement find that taking 5,000 IUs daily for a few weeks is very helpful at reducing many vague symptoms that they often never connected to poor nutritional status. You can ask for the blood test to be done; you should also ask for the pricing of the test prior to having it drawn so you’re aware of the likely expense. Manufacturers of supplements are meeting the market demand by producing combinations of D, magnesium, vitamin K, and/or iodine for patient convenience.

One warning of NOTE: vitamin K2 is vitally important in blood clotting; if you are taking a blood thinner or have been told you SHOULD take a blood thinner, including aspirin, you should discuss adding this supplement with your provider BEFORE taking it. While vital for normal body processes, vitamin K can contribute to increased clotting within blood vessels; clots are known contributors to heart attacks and strokes.  

In conclusion, the general consensus on Vitamin D includes:

  1. Each increase of 4 ng/mL of vitamin D in the blood is associated with a 4% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.
  2. There is a significant and inverse relationship between blood levels of vitamin D and the risk of type 2 diabetes among a wide range of vitamin D levels and among a wide variety of populations, so that it is difficult to specify “normal” lab reference values and recommended daily dosing. Translation: The lower your vitamin D level is, the higher the risk of development of type 2 diabetes.

For further information about Vitamin D, it is recommended to ask your regular health care provider.