Truthbutter

Point Reye’s National Seashore Alamere Falls

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Here’s another hiking update for you! And by “you,” I probably mean me, several years later, when I want to remember cool things I’ve done. And probably my family. (Hi mom!)

Yesterday, a friend and I did the Palomarin to Alamere Falls hike at Point Reye’s National Seashore, and it was amazing and exhausting. Alamere Falls is a waterfall that flows into the ocean, and it was an incredible destination. It took us about 5.5 hours (with a decent stop for lunch once we got to the falls), and the route we took was about 10 miles.  Read more →

Muir Woods – Bootjack/TCC/Ben Johnson Loop

IMG_1771I just wanted to share a quick post about an amazing hike I accidentally went on last week! The hike is at Muir Woods National Monument, which is an extremely popular destination in Marin county for seeing redwoods. First, I must tell you the the story of how I mistakenly went on one of the best hikes in the region, but afterwards I promise I’ll tell you about the hike itself. I even drew you a map. So bear with me.

Because I hate crowds, especially when I’m hiking, I opted to visit the park on a rainy weekday, and was intending to just amble around casually for a couple hours. I figured I’d check it out, look at the trails, bask in the redwoods, and then plan to come back for a proper hike at a later date when I was more prepared.

Well. I got a little lost. Read more →

Can L-Glutamine Cause Brain Fog? {Monday Musings}

Welcome to Monday Musings! I don’t expect this to be a weekly thing, but I wanted a nifty little label to slap on posts where I’m basically just thinking out loud. Wouldn’t want to delude anyone into thinking I have all the answers, now would I?
Thanks for being here!

L-glutamine, once a lowly amino acid vying for attention among 19 siblings, has become a darling of functional medicine for its role in gut health and intestinal permeability. L-glutamine is an important fuel source for enterocytes, which are the cells lining the intestines, and there’s pretty solid evidence that L-glutamine can help strengthen the intestinal barrier.

That all sounds fantastic, right? I sure thought so, and I supplemented accordingly, on and off, for several years. But recently, some self-experimentation has led me to suspect L-glutamine of being a contributor to some pretty intense brain fog and other mental symptoms I’ve been experiencing. L-glutamine was low on my list of suspects, because I had such positive expectations of it, so it took me a while to notice an association. But the timing was there, so I decided to investigate. Read more →

Instant Pot Sausage, Kale, and “Potato” Soup {AIP, Paleo}

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Now that it finally feels like fall in North Carolina (after having several 80-degree days in October), I’m totally in a soup mood. The classic sausage, kale, and potato soup sounded good, but potatoes are a no-go for me right now since I’m on the AIP. Luckily, I have a newly-discovered arsenal of starchy tubers at my disposal that I can use instead! I decided to use a yam for this recipe, mostly because I had it on hand, but also because I’ve used them in a stew before and it was fantastic.

Just FYI, yams are NOTHING like sweet potatoes, despite the fact that sweet potatoes are often colloquially called “yams.” And despite the fact that googling the word “yam” brings up tons of pictures of SWEET POTATOES. Argh. True yams are neutral-tasting, not sweet, white (not orange) on the inside, and are gigantic and hairy. I’ve bought them at my local Asian market (where they’re labeled “ñame”) and at Publix, surprisingly enough.  Read more →

Getting Enough Carbs on the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)

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The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP) has become extremely popular recently as a dietary approach to manage autoimmune disease. I’ve been aware of the AIP for quite some time, but have been pretty turned off of very restrictive diets for the past few years based on my experiences with GAPS/SCD (and for other reasons as well). But after dealing with several back-to-back flare-ups related to recent treatments I’ve been exploring, I decided to give it a shot.

However, I was a little worried about getting enough carbs on the diet. Most common starchy foods (including potatoes and white rice, two of my staples) are on the “no” list, and AIP proponents usually recommend limiting fruit and sweeteners. That leaves sweet potatoes and plantains as the only familiar sources of dense carbohydrate, with things like squash and parsnips providing lesser (but respectable) amounts of non-starchy carbs. Read more →

What is a “whole food” diet, really?

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I started thinking about this question yesterday (in response to something I’ll share below) and had a bit of a “woah – paradigm shift!” moment, so I thought I’d share with you all! (Also, I didn’t want to pass up an opportunity to have a picture of Inigo Montoya on my blog.)

In the realm of nutrition, the “whole food” diet reigns supreme. From the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans to your neighborhood Paleo blogger, almost everyone agrees that a healthy diet is a diet based on “whole foods.”

It’s quite interesting, then, that some of these “whole food” diets have very little in common with each other. It’s even more interesting that some of these “whole food” diets include recommendations to eat things that are definitely not “whole foods.”  Read more →

The gut bugs are controlling my brain

Sometimes, I just want to just rip the bacteria out of my gut, enlarge them so I can actually see them, and then yell at them for screwing with my head (and smack them around a little for good measure).

One of these days I’ll write a proper post about how your little gut monsters can make you stressed and anxious and pessimistic and just downright depressed, but for now, suffice it to say that they can. Oh, they can indeed.

You see, I’m typically a pretty happy, driven, focused individual. I’m optimistic about life, I know how to handle stress, and I know how to get sh*t done when it needs to get done.

But if I eat something I’m not supposed to, or don’t take probiotics for too long, or (god forbid) do anything to try and get rid of the little buggers who keep causing me digestive problems, BAM! All of a sudden I’m a mess. My brain just completely stops functioning properly. I suddenly feel like everything in my life sucks, even though nothing has changed. Read more →

What if you can’t love your body?

Body image and self-love are hot topics in the blogosphere these days, and I don’t know how I feel about it.

Before I come off as the worst kind of person, let me just say that I’m thrilled people are learning to not be so hard on themselves for not being “perfect,” and for recognizing the beautiful things about themselves. I know I have my fair share of insecurities, and often I could do with a healthy dose of self-love.

But with almost every article I read in the continuously evolving collection of body image media, I’m left feeling not quite satisfied. Like the author has almost spoken to me, but was really speaking to a spot on the wall about a foot to the left. Read more →

POW: Therapeutic Manipulation of the Microbiome in IBD

Hellooo, friends, and welcome to the first weekly installment of Paper of the Week (POW)! This delightful new feature of my blog is where I read a paper that I want to read, and then I tell you about it. That way you learn something (theoretically), and I actually remember what I read (theoretically).

This Week’s Paper

Title: Therapeutic Manipulation of the Microbiome in IBD: Current Results and Future Approaches

Authors: Jonathan Hansen and Balfour Sartor (gastroenterologists and researchers at UNC aka MY SCHOOL #represent)

Year: 2015

Type: Review paper

Abstract (partial): 

Despite recent major strides in our understanding of the genetic and microbial influences that contribute to the development of the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs), their etiology continues to be enigmatic. Results from experiments in animal models of IBDs overwhelmingly support a causal role of the microbiota in these diseases, though whether such a cause-effect relationship exists in human IBDs is still uncertain. Therefore, virtually all currently approved and most often prescribed treatments for IBDs are directed toward the over-active immune response in these diseases rather than the intestinal bacteria. Nevertheless, there is an important need for non-immunosuppressive therapies that may present a more favorable risk-benefit profile such as those that selectively target the disruptions in gut microbiota that accompany IBDs. This need has led to clinical trials of various microbial-directed therapies including fecal microbial transplant, antibiotics, probiotics, and prebiotics. Unfortunately, these published studies, many of which are small, have generally failed to demonstrate a consistent benefit of these agents in IBDs, thus leading to slow acceptance of microbe-focused treatments for these conditions.”

Let’s go!

Read more →

5 Reasons You Should Eat Oysters

Last week, my family and I went on vacation to a beach in Connecticut where my grandparents have a cottage. I had two goals for myself during the trip: 1) to learn how to juggle, and 2) to try raw oysters. I still can’t juggle very well, but I did try raw oysters. And I liked them. And here are 5 reasons you should eat them too. Read more →