POOP: What To Do if You Don’t Have At Least One a Day

Poop: What to do if you don't have at least one a day

In a perfectly primal world where our bodies thrive in pristine health, this is something that comes as naturally as breathing, and we wouldn’t ever have to think about it. But today, millions of people develop disease which often starts from not doing this incredibly important daily ritual: pooping.

Why must we poop every single day?

We often say, “You are what you eat.” But I’d like to contend that we actually are not so much what we eat, as what we hold on to. On one hand, this can refer to emotional baggage that we hold onto which creates physical illness. On the other hand, this means that it’s not only the food that determines your health, it’s what your body does with the food. When your system is running smoothly, it digests the food completely, absorbing (holding on to) all the nutrients and eliminating the leftover waste. However, when your system is malfunctioning, it not only doesn’t hold on to all the nutrients, it doesn’t eliminate the waste.

What happens if you don’t take out the trash? It rots! It continues to decay, making your house a toxic dump. And it’s exactly the same in your guts. If your body doesn’t ‘take out the trash’ by expelling waste every day, your guts become a toxic dump of decaying waste matter, inviting fungus and parasites to come feast on all the ‘crap’. Yes, it’s digusting and yes, it’s deadly!

Poop: What to do if you don't have at least one a day

What causes constipation?

Infrequent pooping is called constipation. I have read definitions of constipation as pooping less than 3 times a week, but since I’ve just told you that you must poop at least once a DAY, let’s forget about definitions and start listening to our body if it’s not pooping every day. Ok? So, if constipation is a symptom of a sluggish bowel, what is the cause? There are many, including but not limited to:

– Poor diet
– Poor sleep
– Poor breathing
– Dehydration
– Medications
– Hormones
– Stress

As with addressing all symptoms, this means you must look at how you are attending to your Primal 6. In addition, here are some quick and effective ways to get those bowels moving again!

10 Ways to Ensure You Poop Every Day

1/ Don’t rush through your morning.
Morning is the body’s favourite time to eliminate waste, usually right after waking up or right after breakfast. However, if you spend your morning rushing around and out of the house, your body won’t have time to take out the trash!

So wake up earlier, schedule things later, prepare clothes and breakfast the night before…whatever it takes to have a more relaxing morning for your bowels.

2/ Drink a glass of water right when you wake up. Then all day long.
One of the most common causes of constipation is dehydration, and it only takes one day of low water intake to have a dehydrated colon.

So drink plenty of water all day, starting right when you wake up to signal your bowels of new things entering, so it will get old things exiting! More stubborn bowels may need warmer water, and a squeeze of lemon in the water can help too.

3/ Do belly breathing first thing in the morning.
Lie on a foam roller or just sit quietly for 5 minutes and breathe deeply through your nose, expanding your belly with each breath. This will send more oxygen into your system to get things working better, and also stimulate flow in your digestive area.

You can do this anytime during the day, but upon waking works best as it stimulates that perfect morning poo.

4/ Do holding squats and/or breathing squats. Get moving!
Get down into a full squat (if you can), holding onto furniture if you need to keep from falling backward, and stay there for several minutes or as long as you can.

You can also try breathing squats, breathing out through your nose as you squat down and breathing in through your nose and you stand up. Continue to stand and squat in rhythm with your breathing rate.

Keep moving your body in any way throughout the day. A good brisk walk is often enough to get your bowels moving. Here are ways to get more movement into your day without making time for it.

5/ Squat at the toilet
Get a squatty potty, or simply put a wide stool under your feet when you are sitting on the toilet. This puts you in a squat position, opening up the bend in the lower part of your colon so the waste can easily slide right out. Until you have a stool, lean forward, rest your elbows on your knees and lift up onto your tiptoes.

6/ Eat a big ass breakfast
This is especially crucial for people who tend to poop after breakfast instead of upon wake-up (though good for everyone!). Sit down while you eat and don’t rush out the door too soon after – give your body time to digest, relax and let go of yesterday’s waste.

Don’t forget that processed grains like instant oats, commercial breads and breakfast cereal are not a healthy meal, but rather are often a cause of the constipation in the first place. If you need more convincing, read my article on breakfast cereal.

7/ Eat a balance of animal and plant food all day
If you’ve heard anything about constipation, it’s fiber, fiber, fiber. Let me set this straight. Yes, a diet rich in fiber is an important part of maintaining healthy bowel movements. However, there are two caveats.

One, there is far more fiber in fruits and vegetables than in grains, and far less digestive issues resulting from the fruits and veg. Two, if you are already constipated, adding more fiber is likely to plug you up more, as shown in this study on fibre and constipation.

So, avoid processed grains and fiber supplements. Get your fiber from vegetables and fruits, and balance that with good quality protein and fat.

8/ Manage your stress
Assess your emotions, schedule, personal needs, finances, relationships, beliefs and  health obsessions. Stress is a leading cause of constipation and other digestive issues and diseases.

Learn simple meditation, try Qi Gong, change your work mindset, and get some sleep!

9/ Take magnesium before bed
Magnesium relaxes the bowel muscles and also attracts water to the bowels, softening the poo for easier elimination. Therefore, magnesium supplements have a great reputation for relieving constipation. Just ensure you choose a high quality supplement with little to no fillers. Take your magnesium right before bed, so you can have a nice poo in the morning.

10/ Swallow some slippery elm
If you are still having constipation issues, there are a couple natural supplements that you can take for a short time to unblock your bowel. One tablespoon of slippery elm in water before bed can be very effective. For severe or prolonged constipation, Cascara Sagrada has a laxative effect. Both can be purchased over the counter at most health food/vitamin stores, and are for short term use only, while you get busy with your Primal 6 so you don’t get constipated again.

 

Do you have another natural remedy for constipation? Share it with us in the comments!

 

Is Biodynamic Organic Wine Healthier? – Part 1

Is Biodynamic Organic Wine Healthier? – Part 1

Note: This is a transcription of the video: ‘Is Biodynamic Organic Wine Healthier?’ – Part 1.

Brad:
Hello Everyone, Its Brad from Primal Health. I am up in the beautiful wine valley country of New South Wales knows as the Hunter Valley. I am here today at Macquariedale Organic Wines talking with the owner Ross McDonald; he is also a chemical engineer and has also grown grapes commercially (chemically) for seven years, prior to actually starting up the Biodynamic farm here, where he has been growing grapes for about ten to eleven years. Now as you know, Bex and I don’t promote alcohol as health food, but the fact remains, around the world we all drink alcohol of some sort and in various quantities! So essentially, we want you guys to understand that there is a big difference on your health in drinking varieties of alcohol that have been grown commercially compared to organically and biodynamically. So we are here to find out from Ross, what the big difference is between the two? So Ross  tell us a bit more about then the actual grapes you grown here and the stalls of lanes of wines you make.

[nonmember]FREE YOU TUBE VIDEO – Duration: 1:37min


MEMBER VIDEO: Duration: 9.20min

View the entire member video below when logged in.
No login details? Join the Tribe! (top right of this page)
[/nonmember]
[wlm_loginform]
[private_FREE]
[jwplayer mediaid=”2111″]
[/private_FREE]

Ross:
Well, at Macquariedale Organic Wines in the Hunter, we grow or specialise in three white varieties and three red varieties. The white varieties are Semillon, Chardonnay and Verdelho and in the reds Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Those varieties are really the best wine varieties in the Hunter Valley.

Brad:
Okay, so you advertise your wines as being ‘Biodynamic’. So if someone has no idea what organic or biodynamic means as far as a wine is concerned, tell us what it actually means and why you think it’s a superior choice?

Ross:
The key differences to be ‘Certified Biodynamic’ means that we don’t use any herbicides in the vineyard. We don’t use any pesticides, we don’t use synthetic fertilizers and we don’t use systemic chemicals. Now, that’s really the basis for being Organic and then Biodynamic is a step further in terms of certification. It’s more of an holistic approach to the farm where we minimize, we look at the farm as a controlled unit and we minimize the amount of inputs coming into the farm and we do that by doing lots of mulching and composting on site. We have our own herd of cows, and we use lots of cow manure. We then follow the whole Biodynamic philosophy which I will go into in more detail.

Brad:
Okay, to at least summarise, talk about Rudolf Steiner and how his farming methods are not only used here for wine, but other foods as well.

Ross:
Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher back in around 1920. He came up with a holistic approach to fertility on the farm. A lot of people have picked that up around the world now. It is a method of using the whole of the cosmos to bring the maximum life forces to bear on the plants and they respond very well to that. So it’s, as I mentioned prior, its putting out preparations, its inoculating the compost with lots of herbs and we do that and put it out and it allows the plant to access what it needs in the soil without relying on fertilizers as such.

Brad:
Wow, it sounds pretty amazing. I look forward to getting out into the vineyards and seeing some of the key points of it. Can you tell us how many chemicals are used in commercially grown wine in comparison to Biodynamic / Organic Wine?

Ross:
One of the key areas is, as I mentioned before, is herbicides. Herbicides are used to kill weeds in the soil and those chemicals translocate into the plants through the root system. There is also pre-emergent chemicals used in the soil conventionally which really deadens the soil for future use. So, in biodynamic farming we don’t use any herbicides. Then we go to the pests. We don’t use pesticides, we use all natural treatment. We use a lot of seaweed, we use a bit of fish emulsion; all these natural tonics to build the strength of the plant rather than pumping the plant up with synthetics.

Brad:
Yeah right so improving the health of the actual plant so that they are more resistant to bugs and problems actually getting into it.

Ross:
That’s right. People say, the bugs, how do we look after those? Well, luckily we don’t get a lot of bugs because the plants are so healthy. But we also manage that through the way we design our canopies. It’s a whole farming technique.

Brad:
Well, on that note, farming technique…How about we go out to the vineyard and you show us couple of the key processes that are involved in biodynamics.

Australian Biodynamic Certification Logo – Macquaridale Organic Wine

Ross:
Yeah. Just before we do. Moving on, just let me cover a little bit about the winery. The other key aspect of biodynamic wine is that we are trying to minimize the amount of chemicals that are used actually in the winery with the wine. And to do that we add just a little bit of sulphur. We minimize the amount of sulphur and that’s very key to your health. A lot of wine is over-sulphured unnecessarily and the health can get affected by that.

Brad:
So when there is label on the bottle saying sulphurdioxide 220 for example, what does the 220 mean and what’s normal in a conventional wine?

Ross:
Well that’s a good question. Look, the 220 is just the number for sulphur dioxide. It’s a number that’s given to it, so if you see 220, it refers to sulphur, or sulphites, as it’s sometimes refered to. The typical level in a conventional wine could be as high as 250 parts per million of sulphur. The organic standard maximum is 120 and we have some of our wine down as low as 10 parts per million. Virtually sulphur free.

Brad:
Oh wow. Which are the ones that tend to require more sulphur then?

Ross:
The ones that require more sulphur are generally white wines. So if you’re sensitive to sulphur, you should be varying toward drinking red wine, which typically has less. The tanins and the whole structure of red wine tends to make it less suceptible to oxidation. Therefore, you need less preservative.

Brad:
Gotcha. Well I guess before we go out there as well, are these your two most popular wines or what would you put as your most popular wine?

Ross:
Look, all of them are very popular. But I am showing these two because these are two of the classic hunter varieties. The Shiraz, we call it Thomas Shiraz in red, and the Semillon. And these two varieties in the Hunter are probably the most readily recognized. But, our Merlot is always popular in the reds, and our Chardonnay and Verdelho are also very very popular.

Brad:
Awesome. Yeah, they’re great wines guys, if you ever get your hands on one, you’re in for a treat. You can get them off their website. I am sure even overseas as well?

Ross:

Yeah, we do export a little bit, to Japan and Canada.

Brad:
Gotcha. And its macquariedale.com.au. Okay guys, also before we get out there one another thing to note is the surrounding farms…three of them is it?

Ross:
Yeah three of our neighbouring farms have joined in our certification so we farm those vineyards for our neighbours. We manage them, we look after them, and we secure the fruit from that for our wine making processes. So we’ve probably got close to 300 acres of certified land and approximately 50 acres of vineyard land.

Brad:
That’s awesome! That’s a feather in your cap for changing them from commercial. That’s great. Well, should we get out there?

Ross:
Yeah, let’s go.

Continue with Brad & Ross in the vineyard in ‘Is Biodynamic Organic Wine Healthier? – Part 2‘.

5 Easy & Cheap Ways to Detox

5 Easy & Cheap Ways to Detox

A detox doesn’t have to be a complicated, expensive or difficult process. Actually, there are ways you can detoxify your body in less than 5 minutes with nothing more than a spoon or sponge. No matter how careful we are with our diet and lifestyle choices, there are still many toxins in our environment which accumulate in our bodies. So just as you regularly clean your house and your teeth, it’s important to regularly clean out your body. During my recent stay at The Sanctuary in Mexico, I learned 5 ridiculously easy and cheap ways to detox that I have started doing for myself and think you’ll love too.

5 Easy & Cheap Ways to Detox

Tongue Scraping

WHY IT’S DETOXIFYING: This simple ayurvedic* hygiene practice removes bacteria and toxins that accumulate on the tongue overnight, to prevent you from ingesting them again.  It also stimulates and cleanses the digestive tract and the vital organs, through acupressure points on the tongue.  So not only is it good for oral hygiene, it also supports the natural detoxification of your entire system.

TIME NEEDED: 30 seconds

WHEN: First thing in the morning

EQUIPMENT: a stainless steel (metal) spoon

HOW: Open your mouth and use the spoon to scrape your tongue from back (as far back as comfortable) to front in long firm strokes, rinsing the spoon in between each stroke. Do this until your tongue feels free of coating, then rinse your mouth with clean water and spit.

WHAT I THINK: It was amazing to see how much gunk came off my tongue sometimes! I often have strong morning breath, and tongue scraping already feels like a big help with this. I have also noticed how the thickness of the coating on my tongue is an indicator of the quality of my diet and lifestyle choices.  Plus, this is just so incredibly easy and quick to do, and requires no daily preparation or reminder, since it’s first thing in the morning when I go to the bathroom anyway. I just make sure to always have a spoon near my bathroom sink, so I won’t forget. Easy!

*Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old science of healing which originated in India.

 

Oil Pulling

WHY IT’S DETOXIFYING: It’s called oil pulling because the oil actually pulls toxins out of your mouth. First, the oil mixes with the saliva, and lipids in the oil pull out toxins from the saliva. As the oil is swished around in the mouth, it continues to absorb toxins. It is also believed that oil pulling stimulates the lymphatic system and aids in the transport of toxins away from vital organs.

TIME NEEDED: 10-15 minutes, but you can do other things at the same time.

WHEN: On an empty stomach, such as before breakfast or a few hours after a meal.

EQUIPMENT: high quality (cold-pressed, extra-virgin) coconut oil, sesame oil or olive oil

HOW: Simply put about a teaspoon of the oil into your mouth and swish it around in your mouth. DO NOT swallow it, as it will be accumulating toxins. Once the oil and saliva start feeling thicker (about 10-15 minutes) in your mouth, spit it out – never down the drain or toilet, only in the garbage bin – then rinse your mouth with fresh water and spit.

WHAT I THINK: I had heard about my friends benefiting from oil pulling, not only for general detoxification, but also to eliminate tooth decay and aid digestion. I love how easy this is, and that I can do other things while I am swishing the oil in my mouth. I like to start swishing soon after I wake up (after tongue scraping), so I can do my 20 minutes of swishing while showering, getting dressed and/or making breakfast.

 

Dry Skin Brushing (& Wet Skin Sand Brushing)

WHY IT’S DETOXIFYING: Your skin is the largest organ of your body, and also is detoxification organ, like your liver, kidneys and colon. Brushing the skin helps keep the pores clear of debris and dead skin which can get in the way of your body excreting toxins through the skin. Like oil pulling, skin brushing is also thought to stimulate the lymphatic system, which helps to move toxins through the body.

TIME NEEDED: 3-5 minutes

WHEN: Before a shower

EQUIPMENT: Natural bristled brush or loofa

HOW: Rub the loofa over your skin across your entire body. It is recommended to work in this order: lower limbs, upper limbs, back, then abdomen – always moving in strokes towards the heart. Brush until your skin is rosy and slightly tingly. Always shower or rinse after you dry brush to wash off the dead skin.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I found the loofa to be very rough and painful on my skin, so I couldn’t do it for more than 15 seconds before I decided it wasn’t for me. Maybe I just need to try a softer loofa, like the ones for washing your body in the shower.

ALTERNATE OPTION: However, I found a fabulous alternative for anyone who has access to a beach. Do your skin brushing with wet sand! Kaiya and I have been doing this several times a week as it is so much fun, feels great – like an expensive spa exfoliation treatment – and when we swim into the ocean to wash it off, our skin feels baby soft.

Dry Skin Brushing only requires a loofa and a few minutes
Dry Skin Brushing only requires a loofa and a few minutes

Far Infra Red Sauna

WHY IT’S DETOXIFYING: Once again, the skin is the largest organ for detoxification, and this is usually done through sweating. However, this type of sauna works better than others because the Far Infra Red heat waves match the frequency of the water in your cells, causing toxins to be released into the blood stream and excreted through the sweat. So not only are you sweating out water, but also plenty of fat soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulphuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. This unusually high concentration of heavy metals & other fat-soluble toxins is not found in the sweat from normal exercise.

TIME NEEDED: 15-30 minutes

WHEN: Anytime

EQUIPMENT: Far-Infared Sauna

HOW: Take off your clothes, turn on the sauna and sit in it for awhile, getting sweaty. Start with about 10 minutes the first time or two, then you can stay in the sauna a bit longer each time. It’s recommended to drink a large glass of water before and after your sauna, and rest for a bit afterward if needed.

WHAT I THOUGHT: What a great excuse to sit and do nothing. My friend uses her sauna time to read, but because I was all sweaty I didn’t want to read, so it was the perfect chance to meditate, rest, or think without distraction. The heat felt quite good too. After a 20 minute session, I was a tiny bit woozy when standing, so I rested for 15 minutes afterward – this time reading :).

 

Enema

WHY IT’S DETOXIFYING: Toxic fecal waste called mucoid plaque builds up on the wall of your colon over time, just like plaque builds up on your teeth. Not only does this intestinal plaque become more toxic over time, but it also blocks up the intestinal tract making it more difficult to eliminate waste through normal bowel movements, or poos. The water from the enema loosens that hard debris from your colon walls and flushes it out of your body.

TIME NEEDED: 15-25 minutes

WHEN: Anytime

EQUIPMENT: enema bag (or jug) with attached hose and nozzle; toilet

HOW: Fill the bag (or jug) with water, all the way to the top and pinch the hose with your fingers or a clothespin to stop the water from flowing yet. Hang the bag up on a towel rack or cabinet handle (or put the jug on the bathroom counter).

Kneel down, lower your head toward the floor, and insert the nozzle in your anus. Release the pinch on the hose and allow the water to flow into your colon. If at times it feels too intense or pressure builds from the water flow, simply pinch the hose and wait a minute, then let it flow again until the bag (or jug) is empty.

Then grab your book, sit on the toilet and let it all come out. This part takes about 10-15 minutes and often stops and starts a few times, so just relax and wait until nothing more comes out.

WHAT I THOUGHT: This is by far my new favourite detox method. I should have been doing this years ago! I felt absolutely fantastic afterwards – light as a feather, no more bloat, clear-headed and cleaned out! I did 4 enemas my first week, and now will aim to do it about 2-3 times per month for maintenance. After almost 40 years of eating (plenty of suboptimal food too!), I figure there is plenty of build-up of old toxic waste in my colon. Hail the enema! And I get in some reading time while I’m sitting on the toilet :).

Judging by the popularity of our video of Brad getting a colonic, many of you are realizing the importance of detoxifying your body regularly!

 

Have you tried any of these detox methods? Tell us about it in the comments below – what did you think?

 

David vs. Monsanto – GMO Documentary

Imagine that a storm blows across your garden and that now, genetically-manipulated seeds are in your organically grown crops. A multi-national corporation pays you a visit, demand that you surrender your crops – and then sues you for $200,000 for the illegal use of patent. The story is a repeating pattern the world over now, one that has caused huge amounts of suicide in India, and could mean the end of naturally grown food as we know it if Monsanto get their way. Watch the video here below for cheap!!

Yekra Player

Yekra is a revolutionary new distribution network for feature films.

David vs. Monsanto

Imagine that a storm blows across your garden and that now, genetically-manipulated seeds are in your crops. A multi-national corporation pays you a visit, demand that you surrender your crops – and then sues you for $200,000 for the illegal use of patent.

110 year old man credits his health to 5 foods

As I write this, we are currently in Phoenix Arizona in the United States. I recently saw this video from 2011, of a local man in Mesa who reached his 110th birthday!  Bernardo LaPallo says good old father’s advice and simple foods helped him reach his milestone birthday. Here’s what he had to say about his secrets to his longevity.

Luxury or Community: Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury or Community - Which Do You Really Need?

Luxury, of course, right? We’d be so healthy and rejuvenated if only we had more money, comforts, alone time, and maybe some pampering. That’s definitely what I used to think…

Don't forget the important ingredients of Community and Love
Answer: Community (& Love!)

I have listened enviously to friends tell me about their retreats at health centres. They stayed in luxurious accommodations where all their needs were taken care of while they focused on their chosen wellness program. They were served gourmet meals cooked by qualified chefs, and treated to healing treatments by beauty and wellness therapists. They came back from these retreats feeling so pampered and relaxed. But experiencing it for myself always seemed out of my reach due to the very high prices for accommodation and food, plus any extra costs for treatments.

So I had to pinch myself this morning when I woke up early to the sounds of roosters and chirping birds to join a morning meditation before my green breakfast smoothie and yoga on the roof, overlooking a lush tropical beach village in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. I am nearing the end of my own week ‘away’ at a wellness retreat, and what an amazing week it has been. But it didn’t cost me much at all, and instead of luxury and pampering, I was treated to something even more valuable…a community.

When I found the website for The Sanctuary, the ‘healing haven’ looked like a wonderful place to relax, detox and get away on my own for a while. The prices were so low, that I thought there must be a catch. Ah yes, Guests have to work or contribute their time one hour per day, Seva Guests work 2-3 hours per day, and Volunteers work even more, serving as longer term staff.

I can hear you say, “Work time at a health retreat? Didn’t you go there to get away from work?”

However, isn’t a wonderful concept? The guests working together lowers the costs of running the place, so that lower rates can be offered for accommodation, food, treatments, and activities. This way, a health retreat is accessible to people of all budgets, as it should be.

Contributing to a community boosts your health!
Contributing to a community boosts your health!

And as I found out, this concept offers something even deeper and more valuable than getting a good price on a holiday.

After morning yoga on the palapa (roof veranda), we have our work time for an hour or two. Today, Barbara does some gardening, grinds some spices, and sews a ripped cushion cover. Eva waters the pot plants and sweeps the verandas. Tony puts away the clean dishes, feeds the cat, and fills up the water filter. I get to work making some signs for the bedrooms and bathrooms.

On the surface, we may seem like unlikely companions, varying widely in our ages, belief systems, experiences and personalities. But working together like this gives us a community feel that filters into the rest of the our day. It creates deep conversations, friendships, support-systems and connections that help us heal and grow.

Under the guidance and generosity of our host, Pete, we are learning to heal ourselves and others. Instead of having professionals take care of us, we are learning how to do our own detoxification rituals, meditations, and emotional healing techniques. We are learning much more about healthy cooking, supplements and food than if we never went into the garden or kitchen. This way, our physical and emotional health continues to improve even after we leave the retreat.

On Sunday when our young local cook Jose takes the day off, we all make lunch together in the kitchen, sharing ideas and expertise, and experimenting with flavours – all the while enjoying each other’s company and putting lots of love into each dish. When it’s done, we feel very proud of our meal, and the contributions we’ve made to our temporary home.

It doesn't take long to form tight bonds in a community setting
It doesn’t take long to form tight bonds in a community setting

You see, here we are working together. We are contributing our various talents and ideas, feeling useful and needed, being a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are learning that whether we are in our 20’s or 60’s, whether we live a life of struggle or privilege, whether we are in good or poor health, we are all people with the same needs of love, cooperation and community.

This large Mexican style home called The Sanctuary is a place for relaxing, centering, and healing, yet there are no qualified ‘healers’ here, no gourmet cooks, no luxurious suites or professional body treatments. But what I realised this week is that sometimes the best treatment for our minds and bodies comes not in getting, but in giving and sharing with others.

See a video of me at The Sanctuary Healing Haven!

Do you feel rejuvenated and healthier from some community activity or group? Please comment and inspire us with your experiences!

Contradictions of The Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, drinking, late nights, no breakfast and tons of bread! We were shocked by some of the Greek diet and lifestyle habits which strongly contradict their traditional healthy Mediterranean diet. Are we wrong in what we think are healthy choices? Or are we forgetting the most important key to good health?

 

 

 

 

Contradictions of the Mediterranean Diet and Lifestyle

Smoking, coffee & other favourite Greek pastimes

As I explain in What We Can Learn From The Mediterranean Diet, the Greeks have a beautiful real food traditional diet. However, when it comes to toxins and poor health habits, the Greeks have their fair share.

Smoking up a storm

We have never, ever, been in a country where people smoke so much (and we’ve traveled a lot!). The Greeks love their cigarettes and smoke anywhere and everywhere, with little consideration for other people or any health risks. A couple Greeks we met said they quit smoking years ago and now they suck candies instead, but no one ever talked about smoking as a problem, or talked about trying to or wanting to quit. Yet they are known for their longevity. Hmmm…

Raki, Ouzo and Wine…for good health

Drinking is also never frowned upon. On the contrary, alcohol is thought of as healthful. When you toast, or cheers, you say “yamas”, which translates as “to your health”. Greeks are very proud of their strong local spirits raki and ouzo, which are served at the end of every meal and called a ‘digestive’. And with all those grapevines growing madly, they have beautiful wines, which taste great with all their food. A book we found even shows the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid as including alcohol.

However, maybe this mindset about alcohol is what keeps it healthy, because it’s only ever consumed in great moderation. There is no social rebellion in drinking alcohol, so binge drinking and alcoholism is highly uncommon. Men sit in cafes sipping the same tiny shot of raki for hours, wine is served by the ½ liter for a few people to share over a meal, and beer is rarely drunk at all. And the rebellious youth? They drink coffee…

Raki alcohol is a post-meal 'digestive' in Greece
Raki alcohol and dessert is served free as a post-meal ‘digestive’ in Greece

Caffeine all night long

Coffee is clearly the favourite national drink, and the social drink of choice for everyone from young Greeks in trendy city bars to old men in the village square. Frappes are the favourite – a combination of Nescafe and plenty of sugar whipped or blended until frothy. Though the old men may sit and sip the same coffee all afternoon, the younger generations seem to drink a huge amount, and well into the late hours of the night, since they go to bed so late.

Late dinner, no breakfast

In The Mediterranean, our primal pattern of sleeping and waking in rhythm with the sun is completely disregarded. Instead the Mediterranean sleeping and eating schedule goes like this:

7-10 am – Wake up and eat nothing except maybe a sesame bread ring
2-6 pm – Light lunch and a 2-3 hour nap
9-10 pm – Large dinner
1-2 am – Go to sleep

Instead of a nutritious breakfast, healthy lunch and light dinner, the Greeks are eating nothing until mid-afternoon, then eating their main meal after 9 o’clock at night! And aren’t they missing hours of restorative sleep by going to bed so late? Even the little children are out late with their families, eating at 9-10 pm and playing in the village square while their parents chat all evening. They still have to get up for school in the morning too…

The beloved bread

If the Greeks do grab a tiny breakfast, it’s usually koulouri on the run, a bread ring covered in sesame seeds sold at vendors on the streets. At lunch and dinner, giant loaves of sliced bread are served before or with every meal, to be dipped into a plate of fresh olive oil and maybe some dried oregano. Even if you order something that comes with bread already, like the popular gyro pitas, there will be a basket of bread on your table.

Bread is on the bottom of that Mediterranean food pyramid, along with rice and pasta, as the primary food group, just like on the USDA food pyramid. Though flour is not in everything, like in some cuisines, bread is always on the table and in the home, and many traditional foods incorporate filo dough and pita bread.

Traditional Greeks take pride in having fresh bread, and it’s still often home-baked or bought fresh-baked from the bakery. And bakeries are absolutely everywhere, chock-full of breads, pastries, cookies, mini ice creams, chocolates and candies.

It is true that the Mediterranean societies have always been agricultural, and that grains, especially wheat, are an integral part of not only their cuisine, but their culture. So maybe their metabolic type is suited to eating so much bread? We do know many Europeans who eat bread and cheese all their life, but it’s only when they move to Australia or America that they easily gain weight from eating these things. So maybe it’s a matter of traditionally made breads versus commercially processed versions.

Sugary coffee and cigarettes are favourite Greek pastimes
Greek shopkeepers pass the time with sugary coffee and cigarettes all day

So how do the Greeks stay healthy?

Despite all these factors, the Greeks remain on all the long life-span lists and are known to be in general good health.

Maybe these contradictions are a sign of modern commerce crowding out traditional ways, or maybe the Greeks and other Mediterranean peoples have just found a balance in diet and lifestyle that works for them. Some of these habits may well be moderated by their stable traditional food culture. Or maybe we are simply wrong in our own assumptions about what is a healthy lifestyle, and the Greeks have it all figured out. 

The Greek mindset is a healthy one

It’s probably most likely that the Greeks have simply found a balance in their Primal 6 – Thoughts, Air, Water, Food, Movement, Sleep. And since Thoughts are the most important, how about we look to the Greeks as a model for healthy Thoughts, as much as we do with their Mediterranean diet.

The Greeks prize family and community. They work, rest, play and eat with their large families, friends and community. They leave work for several hours in the afternoon to eat and nap with their loved ones, then meet up with the whole community again in the village square for dinner, playing and talking all evening. Meals are usually long, social or intimate affairs. They take care of the elderly in their family, including them in home and social life. Their Greek Orthodox Church brings a sense of community to the people, without obligation or guilt. And there’s no guilt, stress, or remorse felt about eating, smoking, drinking and indulging…only enjoyment.

Thoughts are more important than diet and lifestyle

It’s these thought principles that create contentment and a healthy, happy mind, which in turn keeps the body strong and vital. In many young societies like America and Australia, we are so focused on diet that we fail to see how unhealthy our modern thought principles are making us.

Almost every story I have read about a person who has lived beyond 100 years old without serious illness or disease reports that they are surrounded by friends and family and have regular social plans and gatherings. Many of them have paid little attention to their diet and exercise, and even regularly smoked and drank alcohol. There is definitely a pattern showing the power of Thoughts, and our month in Greece has reminded us of this most important aspect of our health.

Hammam – The Turkish Bath experience!

Hammam - The Turkish Bath

Both Bex and I experienced a Turkish Bath or ‘Hammam’ during our time in Turkey. I was a very unique experience to say the least! Check out my short video showing the inside of a Hammam and what was involved. Sorry for the dark video. The lights were very low and it’s essentially a sauna so the camera got fogged up pretty quick. I haven’t been scrubbed so hard by someone since I was a kid!


Here’s a definition of a Turkish Bath from Wikipedia:

“In Western Europe, the “Turkish bath” as a method of cleansing and relaxation became popular during the Victorian era (1837-1901). The process involved in taking a Turkish bath is similar to that of a sauna, but is more closely related to ancient Greek and ancient Roman bathing practices.

The Turkish bath starts with relaxation in a room (known as the warm room) that is heated by a continuous flow of hot, dry air, allowing the bather to perspire freely. Bathers may then move to an even hotter room (known as the hot room) before they wash in cold water. After performing a full body wash and receiving a massage, bathers finally retire to the cooling-room for a period of relaxation.

The difference between the Islamic hammam and the Victorian Turkish bath is the air. The hot air in the Victorian Turkish bath is dry; in the Islamic hammam the air is often steamy. The bather in a Victorian Turkish bath will often take a plunge in a cold pool after the hot rooms; the Islamic hammam usually does not have a pool unless the water is flowing from a spring. In the Islamic hammams the bathers splash themselves with cold water.”

Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turkish_bath

Hammam - The Turkish Bath
Brad wearing his tea-towel robe and head towel in a Turkish Bath. If you get the chance to visit Turkey or visit a Hammam in your country, do so!

This Greek Island Alkaline Water Believed to Prolong Lives

Alkaline Water - Greek Island

Will drinking better quality water improve your quality and length of life? Join Brad and his client and good mate John on Kythera Island in Greece and learn about the high quality water that the local island people drink that is attributed the high life expectancies of the population. This water most certainly has a high ‘Total Dissolved Solids’ count and is extremely good for you! John’s friends in the area had the water tested to show how highly mineralised and alkaline the water is. Let’s see what John has to say about it.


 
Brad:
Hey Primal people! It’s Brad here. I’m traveling with the family and right now. We are in Greece. We’re on an island called Kythera, which is south of the mainland, the Peloponnese area of Greece. Just above Crete. It’s one of the bigger islands of Greece not visited as much by tourists, but wow, it’s a pretty Primal place to be. I’m currently here now with my client and good mate John Wilson, who you will be hearing from in a sec, as his family is from this area.

You would have always heard Bex and I mentioning the Primal 6 in our newsletters and on social networking about the third most important  Primal 6 step known as ‘Water’. You would have also seen pictures of our Primal mascot drinking water from a waterfall, the way we used to drink it (instead of a tap or plastic bottle). Well as you can see here, this is the San Pelligrino water of Kythera!

Caveman Drinking Water
Our Primal mascot getting his water needs the way we used to… from rivers, streams and waterfalls.

The importance of this lies in the fact that the average life expectancy of Kythera is in the mid 90’s! This water tastes amazing too. It’s now time to hear from John about the water and the island, and why this is so important to the population of Kythera.

So John, why do you make the effort of coming down here to drink this water instead of the town water / tap water?

John:
Well Brad, there is nothing wrong with the tap water. The water is actually of reasonable quality, but these springs come direct from the mountain. It’s all ground water. It’s running through rocks, limestone and marble on this island, so the water is deeply mineralised. It’s been drunk by my family and all of my grandparents and great grandparents and their ancestry over time. All of the communities here have relied on this water for their health and vitality. In days of old before plumbing, this is the way people would collect their water. They’d come down here with donkeys and very large containers, take them back to their homes and that’s what they’d drink.

Brad:
That’s awesome.

Water Sleuth - Primal Water - Kythera Island
John collecting water from the Karavas local spring on Kythera Island

John:
What is remarkable about this water in the community though, is the life expectancies here. The most recent statistics I have are from 2 years ago, when we had 3 deaths in this village (called Karavas). The ages being, 83, 95 and 97. People live to a ripe old age in this community, which I guess is in part diet, but my Greek grandmother (yaya) would also attest this to being because of the water keeping everyone young, vital and healthy.

Brad:
Well that’s it. Depending on what you read, we’re 70-80% water, so if you are drinking the good stuff like this, it certainly improves your health! As proved here in Kythera and by the looks of the Greek God that you have become! 🙂

John:
What can I say 🙂
The water comes down the mountain at a beautiful drinking temperature and it has a unique quality about it. Off camera before we were using adjectives like ‘silken’, ‘chewy’, it has ‘body’ to it, in other words, you can taste the evidence in the mineral composition of the water. It also has an incredibly clean smell.

Brad:
John what is this here? Is this also a ‘sleuth’ as you were talking about? Or is this too big to be a sleuth?

John:
Yes, it’s a very elaborate structure found around these springs designed to capture the water for agricultural and domestic use, so what you are seeing here is a wash pit, so the men and women would wash their clothing here. Note the size and height of it. The water would be channeled in here and drained out there (pointing to different areas) and they’d use this as a mechanism to wash their clothing, separate to where they collect their water from. This is evident in all of the springs across the island, of which there are many! Ground water is what people live on here and is a very important resource in the community, one that people are very keen to preserve. If you mention the word ‘pesticides’ here to people and they will get very very sensitive about that word. They don’t want them used, because they know it will affect the quality of the ground water. The ground water is what they drink, and in large parts what they ascribe their health and vitality to. They DO NOT want anything that can compromise the quality of the water.

Water sleuth - Kythera Island
John shows us where the locals of Kythera Island collected their water for agricultural and domestic use

Brad:
Hence, all the things we’ve been eating here, you don’t see all the ‘certified organic’ stickers and what not here, because all the food is organic and traditionally grown. They want to keep it that way.

John:
Exactly. All the Olives for example that you’ve eaten Brad on our property, are 100% organic. There has never been a pesticide used on our land. We have no organic certification of course, nor has my cousin that is a very big organic producer here, because that’s just the way it is. It’s not a certification, it’s just a way of life. It’s embodied in everything that they do.

Brad:
Yeah right. That’s awesome. So if someone wanted to come and experience this themselves, where can they stay John? 🙂

John:
They can stay at Villa Faros (www.villafaros.com) in the picturesque mountain village of Karavas! Replent with these beautiful mountain streams and also…

Brad:
Wow, and you just happen to have your shirt on too! Villafaros.com 🙂
So as you can see guys, this is a pretty special part of the world. I highly recommend your drink the best quality water that you can get. Especially looking for real water from a natural spring, instead of tap water labelled by the big companies in bottles (eg: Dasani – Coke). Anyhow, John, thanks for your insights on the water of Kythera Island!