Introduction

 

Plant-Based For Healing

Learn to go plant-based in 30 days to improve your healing and reduce suffering in benzo withdrawal.

 

Meet Dr.Jenn

Hello! I am Dr. Jennifer Leigh, but everyone calls me, Dr. Jenn. I help people recover from the chemical brain damage a benzodiazepine can cause (even when taken as prescribed). I recovered from benzo damage myself. I have a worldwide following of people I support in their recovery.

A quick resume:

  • Doctorate in psychology
  • Health and Wellness Coach specializing in benzo withdrawal
  • Post-doc social neuroscience studies
  • Certified in plant-based nutrition from Cornell University
  • Masterclass on the gut microbiome with Dr. Bulsiewicz.
  • Award-winning author
  • Appearances on radio, television, and in top-tier media
  • Online contributor for Psychology Today
  • Adjunct professor at Stanford University.
  • Mornings With Jenn group founder and leader

I’ve overcome my past traumas and anxiety/panic disorder with the Four Cornerstones of Well-Being: eat right, move enough, stress less, and love well. This course is a deep dive into the first cornerstone, eat right.

I’m the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been! 

I am passionate about helping people in benzo withdrawal heal. 

Welcome! Important Info. Please Read.

Welcome!  I am glad that you want to go plant-based to improve your health and healing in benzo withdrawal. 

This course is dense. There is a lot of ground to cover. Take it at your own pace. You have plenty of time to finish. You will get an email every day with a link to new content. 

 

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Start slowly. You don’t have to go plant-based all at once.
  • Build your meals around foods you already like.
  • Modify recipes to your tastes. Don’t like a certain spice? Leave it out. Think of recipes as suggestions instead of black and white instruction manuals. It’s okay to be creative. 
  • Don’t make a big deal about going plant-based. Don’t argue with anyone who tells you that you won’t get enough protein, or that we have canine teeth so we are omnivores, etc. Just go about your business eating healthy foods. 
  • Have food storage containers available for freezing batch cooked meals. 
  • Limit eating out or having food delivered. Most restaurant foods, even vegetables, are loaded with sugar, salt, and fat. 
  • Invest in some kitchen gadgets that will make cooking easier. An Instant Pot, Air Fryer, and a high-powered blender are helpful additions. Have enough mixing bowls and prep bowls.
  • Limit your use of all cooking oils, including olive oil. All oils damage the lining of our blood vessels and can upset our Omega 3 and 6 balance, create weight gain, and even cause cancer in some cases. I’ll show you how to cook without oils soon. 

 

Disclaimer: This course is not in any way intended to be medical advice. I am not a licensed MD, therapist, or dietician I cannot diagnose or treat any illness. Please see a qualified licensed practitioner if you have any questions about a WFPB diet and your particular health issues. 

Ready? Let’s get started!

Day 1

Getting Started. Dr. Klaper’s suggestions

Let’s begin! First, take a slow, deep calming breath. As you exhale, put your hand over your heart. Say to yourself, “I promise I will be kind and gentle with myself while I learn a new, healthier way of eating. I will go slowly and let my digestive track and tastebuds acclimate to healthier foods. I will ask for help if I become overwhelmed or frustrated. I will be compassionate with myself if I fall back into old habits. I will course correct and move forward.” 

Good job! Please remember your promise throughout the course!

Don’t dive into a whole-food, plant-based diet all at once (unless you are in a position to cope with increased gas and many trips to the bathroom!).

Take it slowly. Give your digestive system time to adjust to the added fiber. Watch the video with Dr. Michael Klaper. Getting Started On A Plant-Based Diet With Dr. Klaper. This video is 8 minutes.

Then come back and make a grocery list. Don’t forget the starches! Starches are:

Corn

Potatoes

Winter Squashes (squash with hard shells)

Legumes (peas, beans, lentils)

Whole Grains

If we make our meals with starches in mind, we do great! Starches, non-starchy vegetables, seeds, nuts, avocados, and fruits. Perfect! That includes all the types of plants we should be eating. 

Till tomorrow!

Dr. Jenn

  1. I was incorrect. The download is below. 🙂 

PPS. Want a challenge? Try a brand new vegetable this week! What might it be? 

<download: A Grocery Guide>

What About Breakfast?

I get asked frequently,  “What should I eat for breakfast?” The answer is anything that you like that is whole-food, plant-based.  

There is nothing magical about “breakfast “foods. You can eat warmed-up leftovers from yesterday’s lunch or dinner if you’d like. It’s okay to eat the same breakfast day in and day out. Almost every morning I eat a big bowl of oatmeal with ground flax seeds and fruit. I change up the fruit, and sometimes add seeds or nuts, but the base is always a warm bowl of oats. 

The things to keep in mind are:

  • Drink a big glass of water upon awakening. You’ve been without hydration for quite a few hours. 
  • Don’t automatically sit down to breakfast when you first wake up. Wait until you are hungry.
  • Keep things simple. A big bowl of oatmeal with ground flax seeds or chia seeds and fruit is a delicious and gut-healthy way to start the day. 
  • Avoid sugary cereals or granolas.
  • Avoid unhealthy bread.
  • Use plant-based milk. 
  • If you make a smoothie, limit sugary fruits. Don’t use a lot of raw spinach.
  • Avoid caffeine.  

Feel free to share your breakfast ideas or recipes in the comment section.

Cooking Without Oil

Here are some wonderful suggestions on how to cook without oil offered by The Healthy Pear.

Watch the video.  ( < 6 six minutes.) 

Today’s Recipe. A Hearty Stew!

Below is the link to today’s recipe.

Feel free to modify it in any way that you like. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you can use a slow cooker, or let the stew simmer on your stove until done.  

Instant Pot Stew

Day 2

Why Don’t More Doctors Recommend a WFPB Diet?

You may be wondering, “Why should I go on a plant-based diet? My doctor hasn’t told me it would help me.”

Dr. Michael Greger explains why doctors don’t suggest a plant-based diet. https://youtu.be/xnKaOL2IBPY The video is 18 minutes. 

If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Greger’s work, go to nutritionfacts.org. It’s a free site that is brimming with the latest nutrition research.

You can download Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen suggestions. He also has books you may be interested in:

How Not To Die

How Not To Diet Cookbook

 

Till tomorrow!

Dr. Jenn 

 

Downloads

Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen

 

 

Today’s Recipe. Lentil Soup.

Today’s recipe is a delicious lentil soup. Did you know that people eat the most legumes in places where people live the longest and healthiest lives? Legumes (those things that grow in a pod) are incredibly beneficial for us. 

If you’ve been an omnivore, your gut microbes are easy gas producers. After some time, your gut will adjust and stop making so much gas when you eat legumes. 

Go slowly. Eat only a few spoonfuls. (You can always freeze what you don’t eat or enjoy as leftovers.) Drink plenty of water with your meal. Chew your food until its a puree, which can help reduce the gas. Remember that gas isn’t a sign of anything wrong. 

I hope you’ll give this soup a try. Lentils are a favorite of mine! I store them in glass jars so I can enjoy the colors. Brown or green lentils are best for hearty soups. Orange lentils tend to break down quickly. However, they are great for certain soups that require a thinner texture. 

Eat at least one plant-based meal today. 

Today’s Recipe. Lentil Soup.

Day 3

Are We Omnivores Or Herbivores?

If you watched the previous day’s videos, you know that a WFPD is the healthiest diet on the planet. That’s because we are designed to eat plants, not animals or their eggs or secretions. The science is clear that we are herbivores, not omnivores. 

Watch Dr. Milton Mills explain. (The beginning of the video has a comment about Dr. Mills’ weight. Dr. Mills was in a horrible accident and was unable to move as he recovered. He is now losing the weight he gained. He is a plant-based eater.)  

Are We Herbivores? The video is ten minutes long.

Want a more scientific breakdown?  Watch the short video below. 

Here are more viewpoints. The video is 8 minutes long.

Science shows that we are healthier on a plant-based diet because we are designed to eat plants. 

Notice I’ve been referring to this way of eating as a whole-food, plant-based diet, instead of a vegan diet. That is because veganism is a philosophy, not simply a diet. Vegans don’t eat, wear or use anything from animals — whether from land animals (meat, dairy, eggs, honey, shellac, leather, fur, etc.) or from water animals (fish, prawns, crab, lobster, etc). Vegans also exclude, as far as is practicable, all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. You can be a plant-based eater and not be a vegan. 

If you are interested in the animal aspect of diet, you may want to consider watching Ed Winter’s, known as “Earthling Ed'” short TedX talk:

Every Argument Against Veganism The video is 19 minutes long.

Again, you don’t have to be a vegan to be a plant-based eater. It is up to you to decide what is morally right for you with regards to our fellow sentient beings on the planet with us (and how you impact the planet).

Till Tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Eat one fully plant-based meal today. 

Apologies for the sniffles in my videos. I was getting over a head cold. 🙂

Today’s Recipe. Three Oil Free Sauces

I love making big salads. I load them up with lots of colorful veggies and always add a hefty starch or two. I like steamed quartered red potatoes or a can of rinsed garbanzo beans (chickpeas.) In a few days, I’ll share something magical about garbanzo beans. To be honest, what you can do with them blew my mind. I bet you’re going to be surprised, too! Stay tuned. 

The video is with Derek Simnett. He’s a wonderful resource for nutrition information and delicious recipes. 

Here is the recipe video for today.  The video is 19 minutes long.

Remember, eat at least one totally plant-based meal today. 

Leave a comment if you try these sauces. I’d love to hear how you like them, or what you did to change them. 

Day 4

What About WFPB And Mental Health?

 

We’ve established that a WFPB diet is our natural diet and therefore the healthiest for us. But what about our mental health? How does a plant-based diet stack up against an omnivore diet? Will we be more prone to mood disorders like anxiety and depression if we stop eating animal products? 

Let’s listen to what the experts say. The first video is by Dr. Neil Nedly. It is focused more on depression, but the information about neurotransmitters and how antidepressants work is eye-opening. The same argument can be made for anxiety. Why take a medication that depletes the body’s ability to create the calming it needs?

Listen carefully to what Dr. Nedly has to say about inflammation and anxiety and depression. The video is 16 minutes long but worth the watch.

Plant-Based Diet And Mental Health

The second video is by Dr. Klaper. It explains how to boost serotonin levels with a WFPB diet. Listen carefully to the science of tryptophan and protein ratios. (Spoiler: eat seeds for the best boost!) The video is 5 minutes long. Tryptophan Rich Foods

Foods that increase the production of calming GABA are:

  • Soy 
  • Oranges and Citrus Fruits
  • Walnuts, and Almonds
  • Spinach, and Broccoli
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Lentil Beans
  • Brown Rice

Here’s a bonus video from Dr. Klaper.  It is 6 minutes long. 

A gentle reminder: I’m sharing recipes with you to show you that plant-based food is delicious. You do not have to cook what I share with you. You can keep your diet as simple as you’d like: starches, veggies, fruits, seeds, and nuts, steamed, boiled, baked, raw, etc. You don’t have to do any fancy cooking.

 

Today’s Recipe. Five Easy, Fast Meals!

Today I’m sharing not one, but FIVE easy, tasty, WFPB no oil (WFPBNO) recipes from Well Your World. Dillon loves to share healthy plant-based recipes and I’ve tried a lot of them. They never disappoint. 

Try to eat one fully plant-based meal today and start replacing unhealthy snacks with fruits. seeds, nuts, or chopped veggies. Make sure you drink enough water, too!

5 Easy, Fast Meals!

Leave a comment if you try these recipes. I’d love to hear how you like them, or what you did to change them.

 

 

 

 

Day 5

Four Rules For Thriving On A WFPB Diet

Today’s lesson is four rules for thriving on a WFPB diet. The 15-minute video features Dr. Michael Klaper. 

It may be shocking to learn that medical students receive about 20-25 hours of nutrition training. That’s it. In their years of schooling, it’s less than a week of study. To make matters worse, they aren’t taught about health, they are taught about sickness. And to make things even worse, they aren’t really taught how to cure the sickness, they are taught how to minimize symptoms. We don’t have health care, we have sick care. Which is so sad.

So many needless illnesses, so much suffering, all because the information about how to be healthy and stay healthy isn’t taught or shared by the vast majority of health care professions. But, that will change, thankfully. More people like yourself are learning from the doctors who DO know about health and are taking their health into their own hands, one forkful at a time. 

Today’s video also contains some fun “hacks” to boost the absorption of nutrients. I especially like the onions and garlic hack. Yum!

The Four Rules For Thriving On A WFPB Diet

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Hummus!

I love hummus! I mean, I REALLY love hummus. But I rarely buy it because it is usually filled with oil and preservatives or stabilizers.

In searching for WFPB recipes, I stumbled upon Jane and Ann Esselstyn. (Ann’s husband, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, is a big name in the plant-based world.) Jane and Ann have a delightful relationship, (Ann is Jane’s mother) and they are fun to watch. But, it is Ann who almost always steals the show. You’ll have to watch the video to understand what I mean. She’s adorable!

The ten-minute video offers a few ways to create yummy hummus. Watch it now. 

Eat at least one fully plant-based meal today. Snack on some homemade hummus and carrot or celery sticks. YUM!

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.  

Day 6

Hello, Gut Microbiome!

Dr. Will Bulsiewicz is a gastroenterologist and a leading expert on the gut microbiome. I took his gut microbiome masterclass and it changed my life. I now understand that our health rests on the health of our gut microbiome. Science proves that we are as healthy as our gut, so i’s important that we take care of it, which means we must feed it properly. (Remember that health also means mental health.) 

An interesting fact: your body contains more microbe DNA than your own DNA. Crazy, right? 

There is a lot of information to share about the gut so I’ll let Dr. B do most of the teaching. I’ll link you to a few of his videos below. If you’d like to learn more, you may also want to purchase his New York Times bestseller Fiber Fueled. 

You can find his website, The Plant Fed Gut, here. 

Okay, let’s get down to business. A quick overview of the gut microbiome and its role in our mental health is this: if we don’t take care of the microbes that live in our gut properly, they suffer. Our gut then develops dysbiosis, or “leaky gut” which are ruptures in the tight junctions of the gut lining. Leaky gut is the cause of many illnesses and some anxiety disorders. What can cause a leaky gut? Stress, worry, anger, and toxins, can negatively impact the microbes, as can animal products such as eggs, dairy, or flesh from fish, fowl, or mammals.

The blood-brain barrier can also suffer from ruptured tight junctions, causing a “leaky brain,” resulting in depression and anxiety, as well as brain fog and other symptoms. Doesn’t sound good, does it?

Of course, there is SO much more to the story. Let’s listen to the expert explain it to us. I’ve included some shorter videos for you, but I do hope you will find the time to listen to all or parts of the longer ones. (You don’t have to listen to every video unless you have the desire and time.)

Please search on YouTube if you want to hear more from Dr. B. He has many videos to choose from. He is an articulate speaker. I find him a joy to listen to. 

What’s a good diet for gut health?  A very short, three-minute video. 

Best food for gut health. a forty-two-minute video.

Optimize Your Microbiome.  This video is two hours long, but worth the time. 

How to heal your gut and transform your health with plants. This video is eighty minutes long.

 Dr. B. gives himself a gut check. This is a seven-minute video.

Till tomorrow, 

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. 2 of Dr. B’s Recipes!

These are two recipes from Dr. B’s book, Fiber Fueled.  Dr. B cooks with olive oil occasionally. You can skip it if you’d like. He said in an interview that he uses olive oil about once a week. 

Dr. B’s Recipes

Remember, eat at least one fully plant-based meal today. Snack on fresh fruits, veggies, seeds, and nuts. 

Leave a comment if you try these recipes. I’d love to hear how you like them, or what you did to change them.

 

 

 

 

Day 7

More With Dr. Klaper! Gas. Anti-Nutrients. Keto, Protein, and More.

 

Derek Simnett sat down with Dr. Klaper and what took place was magic; a lovely interview touching on topics that many people ask questions about. 

Derek’s introduction on his YouTube channel reads: “I recently had the opportunity to sit down and speak with the legendary Dr. Michael Klaper. We speak on a huge variety of topics including, digestion, macro splits, protein, anti-nutrients, RDI’s, the Keto diet, and so much more. He is a wealth of knowledge and he shares some of it with us here today.”

If you are curious about gas, anti-nutrients, the keto diet, getting enough protein, and macro counting, this short interview is for you. 

More Dr. Klaper. The video is 19 minutes long. No time to watch? Here’s the rundown: Chew your food well, go easy as you move over to a WFBP diet, don’t worry about anti-nutrients like lectins, eat enough calories of a healthy plant-diet diet and you’ll get enough protein, the keto diet will kill you, and macro counting (which I had never heard of before listening to this interview) is in Dr. Klaper’s words, “macro foolish.” But I do hope you’ll watch the video. Dr. Klaper has been promoting a WFPB diet since the 1980s. He is a treasure trove of information. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. 30-Minute Chili

 

What could be better than a hearty bowl of chili to warm you up? Two bowls! With chili this healthy, you can enjoy all you want without worrying about clogging up your arteries, harming your gut microbiome, or adding inches to your waistline. 

Today’s recipe is less than a minute long, so you know it’s easy-peasy to make. 

Bon Appetit! 

Eat one fully plant-based meal today. Snack on fruits, seeds, nuts, veggies. Hydrate!]

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.

Day 8

How To Deal With Family And Friends


When I went through benzo withdrawal, I lived in a duplex in a very sweet neighborhood. My front door was always open (literally) and every day the aroma of something cooking on the stove wafted out to the sidewalk. People came over to enjoy my front-yard flower garden and to eat some of my simple but homey food. I was known for my roasted chicken and slow-cooked beef stew. Ummm, like, REALLY known for them, as in, I cooked them often and well. I took pride in them. 

You can imagine my surprise when I woke up a few years ago and “heard” these words in my head and heart: “You’re done eating animals.”

“What? It sounded like you said ‘I’m done eating animals,” I said, rather upset. 

“That’s exactly what I said,” was the answer.

“Oh!” was all I knew to say. A shiver of fear ran up my spine. What would everyone think if I became one of those “tree-hugging,” crazy vegans?

I had heard this voice before. It was the voice that had told me to plant a flower garden when I was so sick with benzo withdrawal. That garden saved my life. The voice also told me to drive across the country and give hope to others in benzo withdrawal. I obeyed. I traveled with my little dog Shakespeare, over 8,500 miles, from San Francisco to Miami and back, over the course of 3 months. That trip changed my life. So I knew I had better not ignore the message. 

I pushed off the covers and padded into the kitchen, still a bit sleepy, and emptied my fridge and cupboards of all animal products. I became a vegan overnight. 

And yes, my friends and family teased me. Mostly, they were incredulous, betting that I’d be back to eating flesh in less than 6 months. But as time went on, and I got healthier and happier, they knew I’d never go back to being an omnivore. Many of them wanted in on the good health that radiated from me; they asked me to help them go plant-based. Of course, I did. 

It can be upsetting to your friends and family if you buck the tide and embrace a new lifestyle. You may be teased, shamed, even bullied. That’s okay. You can’t control what others think, say, or do. Just go about your business and eat healthily.

If someone pushes your buttons you can use this communication tool and say, “When you say…… (fill in the blank with exactly what they said or did), I feel…. (speak your truth.)

Don’t say, “When you are a jerk,” or something similar because that is a judgment about them, and all judgments turn on our threat detection circuitry. They won’t be interested in what your needs are. They will be too interested in defending themselves.

 When you say EXACTLY what they have said or done and then offer your feelings about it, it helps keep everyone’s nervous system in a calm state. You’ll be more heard and hopefully get your needs met.

When you…I feel…  It’s an amazing tool. 

It’s a good idea to not make a big to-do about going plant-based. Avoid telling anyone how unhealthy their food is as that will put them on the defensive.

Simply enjoy your food. Smile as you become happier and healthier, and your anxiety fades away. You may find that people see how much better you feel and will ask you to help them go plant-based. You’ll now know how to help them. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

 

Today’s Recipe. Baked Onions

This recipe couldn’t be any simpler. Put a whole onion (I like using sweet onions) on a baking tray and pop it into the oven. I cook mine on 400 until they look squishy and caramelized. When done, let cool, cut off the bottom, and squeeze out the goodness. Delicious!

Ten reasons you should add onions to your daily diet. 

  1. Onions contain powerful antioxidants which are flavonoid compounds. They delay or help repair oxidative damage to different cells and tissues in the body.
  2. Onions also contain quercetin which inhibits inflammation-causing leukotrienes and the prostaglandins and histamines that are in rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. Onions can help inflamed joints and chronic inflammation pain.
  3. They contain sulfur compounds that work to increase insulin production and, therefore, lower glucose levels.
  4.  Eating onions may prevent cancer, because of the dietary source of quercetin they contain.
  5. The antioxidants in onions work to thin the blood and ward off blood clots and can lower.
  6. Onions contain vitamin C, B6, and potassium. B6 is needed for red blood cell formation. Potassium is important for blood pressure. Onions are a good source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, and are low in sodium, and have no fat.
  7. Onions kill off free radicals, molecules that attack your healthy cells.
  8. Cure a bee sting. The enzymes in onions break down the compounds found in the venom of a bee or wasp sting, reducing inflammation, pain, and swelling. It can shorten the healing time. 
  9. Yellow onions and shallots are considered the healthiest because of their phenolic and flavonoid content. Both are from the allium family, and they can be pretty easily interchanged in recipes. 
  10. Red onions contain anthocyanins — special plant pigments in the flavonoid family that give red onions their deep color and their heart protectiveness. 

Roasted Onions. The video is 4 minutes long. It is NOT vegan, so ignore his references to meat and butter.

Eat at least one fully plant-based meal today and begin crowding out more of the animal products you eat at your other meals with plant foods. Stay hydrated! 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.   

Day 9

Ten Vegan Food Hacks

I love this video! Ten great ideas to save you time and frustration. 

I’m going to be putting greens in jars in my kitchen because they look so lovely and it will save me money as they usually go limp and lifeless in my fridge.

Listen carefully when Derek suggests that you rinse quinoa. If you don’t rinse it, it can be bitter. 

Which hack surprised you? Which will you put into practice?  

Ten Vegan Food Hacks The video is 16 minutes long.

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. 15-Minute Chickpea Curry

Oh My Gosh! Ya’ll, this curry is incredible. It’s a go-to dish when I have omnivore friends coming over. It never disappoints. I am excited to share it with you.

Here are the changes I make to it so that it’s even easier to prepare:

I use all ground spices. I do not roast the seeds and grind them up. I use a bit of curry powder in place of the curry leaves. (I’ve only been able to find curry leaves one time at a small ethnic market across the bay.) Fenugreek may be a challenge to find, but do try to get your hands on some. I found mine at an upscale market. I don’t add the coconut flour anymore, although I used to. I think the texture is just fine without it. You can also add in a can of petite diced tomatoes, or other veggies as Gaz suggests. I serve over rice in a bowl as it can be rather soupy. 

By the way, Gaz is a superstar in the vegan community. Over the years, I’ve watched him grow from timid and shy, to confident. He’s a joy to watch and listen to. I own two of his cookbooks. They are wonderful. 

Gaz cooks with oil, but you can omit it. I don’t use any. The coconut milk has lots of fat in it, which is why I only cook this dish on special occasions.

15-Minute Curry  The video is nine minutes long.

Eat one fully plant-based meal and keep crowding out animals products and replacing them with plant foods at your other meals.  Hydrate! 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it. 

Day 10

 

Power Foods For The Brain

Dr. Bernard gives a wonderful overview of what foods are helpful (and harmful) to brain health. From fats to iron, to vitamin E and colorful foods. And let’s not forget exercise. If these things can help us avoid dementia and old age cognitive decline, think about what they can do for our moods! Think about what these foods do for our gut microbiome and mitochondria; both are believed to be damaged, along with the GABA receptors, when we take a benzodiazepine. 

It’s important that we eat to heal and eat to be healthy. 

Are you beginning to see how a whole-food, plant-based diet can improve your healing and health? I hope so!

Power Foods For The Brain. This video is 17 minutes long.

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Hearty Veggie Stew.

 

This is a recipe from Derek. It’s a quick and easy stew. Remember to drop down the menu on the YouTube video to see the complete recipe. 

I love these types of stews. So cozy and warming. You can add other veggies you like. Don’t be afraid to be creative. 

Hearty Veggie Stew The video is 16 minutes long. 

Eat one fully plant-based meal. Begin crowding out animal products and replacing them with plant foods in your other meals. Hydrate! 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.  

 

Day 11

Diet And Depression

Let me introduce you to Mic The Vegan. Mic (pronounced Mike), is a researcher. I like his personality and style of delivery in his videos. I hope you’ll like him, too. 

In the video today, Mic takes a look at foods that help relieve depression and foods that can cause depression. Of course, plant-foods win for increasing our mental health. Although the video is focused mainly on depression, the neurotransmitters that plants help produce are also helpful in easing anxiety. 

Just after the seven-minute mark, reference is made to anxiety. But I hope you won’t jump in there, I hope you’ll watch the entire video. You’ll learn about Arachidonic Acid and how it is bad for our mental health (it’s found in high quantities in eggs, chicken, etc.)and how superheroes polyphenols, , and luteolin save the day. (Remember the baked onion recipe I shared? Onio         ns are great for kicking depression’s butt, and therefore, I’d say kicking anxiety’s butt as well.)  Vitamin C plays a role in the video. Watch to find out what neurotransmitter it helps create. 

Diet And Depression. The video is ten minutes long. 

The top 37 foods highest in luteolin.   Radicchio comes in at number one, surprisingly. The link is to a website with a list and graphic. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn         

Today’s Recipe. Wilted Radicchio with Vincotto

Radicchio is the food with the highest levels of depression-busting luteolin. This delicious side dish takes only a few moments to create. I’d try willing the radicchio without any oil. Get your pan hot, add the sliced radicchio and use a bit of water or veggie broth to deglaze if necessary.  

The recipe calls for vincotto as the dressing. Vincotto is an Italian, deep flavored, non-alcoholic condiment that is produced by gentle, long-simmering of grape must. You can buy vincotto on Amazon, however, it is spendy. You can substitute these instead:

  1. Red wine Vinegar
  2. Pomegranate Molasses
  3. White wine vinegar
  4. Sherry Vinegar
  5. Lemon Juice

Another dressing to try is Three, Two, One, Sauce. In a jar (or bowl) add three tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, two tablespoons of Dijon mustard, and one tablespoon of maple syrup. Put the lid on and shake well. or use a whisk to blend. You can adjust the taste by adding more or less of each ingredient. 

This is an extremely simple recipe that begs for creativity. What might you add to it? I’ve not tried, but shredded raw carrots sound interesting. A handful of golden raisins may add a deeper layer. What would you add? 

Wilted Radicchio The video is 2 minutes long.

Are you eating at least one fully plant-based meal? I hope so. Are you deducing your animal product and processed food intake during the other meals? 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.  

Day 12

What About Histamines?

From an anxious feeling to a full-blown panic attack, histamine can play a role in our anxiety issues. Histamines are found in our bodies and in some of the foods we eat. They are a vital chemical produced in cells throughout the body as part of the inflammatory response to allergens, infection, or injury. Histamine also plays an important role in digestion by aiding in the production of stomach acid, as well as regulating sleep.

So how does histamine become a problem if it’s a normal and needed chemical?  Let’s take a look at where things can go wrong:

  1. We produce too much histamine. Mast Cell Activation Syndrome is a good example. 
  2. We have low levels of diamine oxidase (DAO), which is an enzyme that helps break down excess histamine in the body.
  3. We have gut dysbiosis (an unhealthy gut). 
  4. We consume too many high-histamine foods.

Your brain and gut constantly communicate with one another via the vagus nerve (the 10th cranial nerve ), This communication is what we call the brain-gut axis. If your gut isn’t healthy, the communication can become faulty. An unhealthy gut can cause neurotransmitter problems, inflammation, reduced immunity, cog fog, and a host of other uncomfortable maladies, including severe mental illness. 

Many of the neurotransmitters in your brain got their start in your gut, including GABA (calming), serotonin (happy), Dopamine (motivation) as well as BDFN (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Your gut is responsible for creating many of the “chemical messengers” that help us lead happy, healthy, productive lives. 

Histamine acts as a neurotransmitter and influences the amount of the “health and well-being” neurotransmitters, GABA, serotonin, and dopamine produced. Too much histamine and not enough “health and well-being” chemicals are made and the result can be anxiety or depression.

Stress plays a role in creating too much histamine.

Stress causes our bodies to release cortisol which tells the nervous system to jump into fight or flight mode. (This is a reaction of the sympathetic nervous system.) When we are in fight/flight mode, mast cells release more histamine into our bloodstream. 

We can help keep our histamine levels under control by learning to reduce stress. Stress reduction is one of the four cornerstones of well-being. (The other three are: eat right, move enough, and love well.)

Foods high in histamine play a role, too. If we eat too many high-histamine foods we can overload our body, especially if we are lacking in DAO to break down the histamine. Foods to avoid are:

  • some types of fish
  • aged cheeses
  • processed meats
  • wine and beer
  • sauerkraut
  • fermented products
  • spinach
  • eggplant
  • tomato
  • avocado

Some foods that do not contain high levels seem to release histamine in the body. This isn’t that well understood, but some people react to these foods:

  • milk
  • shellfish
  • eggs
  • kiwi
  • strawberry
  • pineapple
  • plum

Foods that contain chemicals called amines that are similar to histamine can also compete for DAO. If you eat a lot of these foods, histamine may not break down properly.

Foods that contain other amines include:

  • citrus fruits
  • mushrooms
  • soybeans
  • bananas
  • nuts

Some sources say that these foods can exacerbate histamine issues:

  • pickled and canned foods
  • chocolate and cocoa products
  • vinegar
  • wheatgerm
  • yeast extract
  • black tea
  • energy drinks

Eating a WFPD diet helps heal the gut as fiber is what feeds the hungry microbes, and they in turn give us healing short-chain-fatty acids. (An aside note: you may have heard that bone broth helps heal the gut and is good for histamine intolerance. There are no scientific studies to prove this. Bone broth causes inflammation and can introduce lead into our bodies.)

When you heal your gut, you may find that your histamine issues resolve. Until then, you may want to eat a WFPB diet that is lower in histamine. 

Do antihistamines help? Antihistamines reduce the amount of DAO you produce so in the long run they are counter-productive. They also reportedly downgrade GABA over long-term use.

What is helpful other than a WFPD, low histamine diet? Make sure to consume foods high in quercetin. Quercetin is a compound found in many fruits and vegetables that have natural anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antioxidant properties. Similarly, quercetin also controls mast cell activity and has protective effects on the GI tract. 

Foods high in quercetin are:

  • capers (most concentrated source!)
  • red onion (highest vegetable source!)
  • shallots
  • red apples
  • grapes
  • berries
  • cherries
  • scallions
  • kale
  • tomatoes (organically grown tomatoes have up to 79% more than conventional fruit)
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cabbage
  • citrus fruits
  • bell peppers (green and yellow)
  • nuts (almonds and pistachios)
  • asparagus (cooked has slightly more)
  • buckwheat 
  • black tea
  • green tea
  • elderberry tea

Another helpful addition to reducing histamine is luteolin. If you missed learning about luteolin in yesterday’s lesson, you may want to go back and check it out. 

Foods high in luteolin are:

  • peppers
  • broccoli
  • celery
  • onion leaves
  • carrots
  • cabbages
  • apple skins
  • radicchio (see the wilted radicchio salad recipe I posted yesterday.) 
  • chicory greens
  • pumpkin
  • artichokes
  • kohlrabi
  • red leaf lettuce

Herbs with luteolin include thyme, parsley, rosemary, cumin, Lonicera japonica, lemongrass, olive leaf, chrysanthemum flowers, chamomile, and perilla seed oil.  However, chrysanthemum, chamomile, and perilla should be used with caution as some people are allergic to them.​

If you are withdrawing from a benzodiazepine or recovering from the benzodiazepine injury syndrome, histamine issues can arise. That doesn’t mean that you should go on a super restrictive diet that may not nourish your gut microbiota. You can reduce the amounts of high-histamine foods you consume, and do your best to eat the high-fiber foods that will help your gut, which in turn, will help your histamine issue.  You can also consider taking a DAO supplement. There are some vegan options. Some in the benzo community report that DAO supplements help them. As with all things benzos “your mileage may vary.” 

Here is a link to a low-histamine plant-based resource

Till tomorrow!

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Cauliflower Steaks WIth Garlic Caper Sauce

This dish looks like you spent hours in the kitchen. But you didn’t. This can be made within half an hour. The only changes I’d make would be to forgo the olive oil. I’d pan fry in a hot pan. Deglaze with a splash of water or veggie broth. Or, use aquafaba instead of oil. (Here are 11 oil substitutes.)

I promised early in the course that I’d share with you the secrets and magic of aquafaba, otherwise known as “bean water.” It’s coming, soon.

The capers add a boost of powerful nutrition. (This list is taken from https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/capers.html.)

  1. Being a flower bud, the caper is very low in calories; provides just 23 calories per 100g. Nonetheless, this spice contains many phytonutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins essential for optimum health.
  2. Capers are one of the highest plant sources of flavonoid compounds rutin (or rutoside), and quercetin. In fact, they are the largest sources of rutin; 100 grams contain 332 mg of this compound. Also, Caper is also very rich in quercetin (180 mg/100 g), second only to tea leaf. Both of these compounds work as powerful antioxidants. Scientific studies suggest that quercetin has anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Furthermore, rutin inhibits platelet clump formation in the blood vessels and strengthens integrity of capillaries. Thus, these actions of rutin help in the smooth circulation of blood in the capillaries. It has found application in some in-trial treatments for hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. It also found to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in obese individuals.
  4. The spicy buds contain healthy levels of vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-K, niacin, and riboflavin. Niacin helps lower LDL cholesterol.
  5. Furthermore, minerals like calcium, iron, and copper are present in sufficient amounts. High sodium level, however, is mainly due to the addition of sea salt (sodium chloride) in the brine.

Here is the recipe. 

Keep replacing animal products with plant products. Hydrate! 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.  

Day 13

Are Oxalates Evil?

 

Mention that you are on a WFPB diet, and the usual response is, “But where will you get your protein?” As diets such as keto and paleo become (sadly!) more popular, you may also be asked by carnivore-leaning friends, “Aren’t you worried about oxalates?” 

Here’s the lowdown on oxalates. I will copy and paste from Dr. Greger’s website as his explanation is far better than my own. 

Originally posted in How to Prevent Kidney Stones with Diet

Question: You mention oxalates in other videos. But a vegan friend of mine has found that many of the veggies that are great sources of calcium are also high in oxalates. I understand they can affect kidney stones and the gall bladder. Any other effects? Possible subject: “How should vegans get enough calcium while avoiding oxalates”. Can they affect uric acid? Generally, “what are the hazards of oxalic acid/oxalates?” At least add both “oxalic acid” and “oxalates” to your list of topics….Thanks for whatever attention you can bring to this.

Answer:

*Update: I have become concerned enough about kidney stone risk that anyone who eats cups a day (as they should!) of dark green leafy vegetables should probably stick to low-oxalate greens (i.e. basically any greens other than spinach, swiss chard, and beet greens). Video forthcoming, but just wanted to give everyone a heads up.*

Just because vegetables contain oxalates doesn’t mean they’re necessarily going to increase kidney stone risk. If anything the opposite may be true, as Dr. G points out in his video: The Downside of Green Smoothies. We do have plenty of videos on oxalates it’s just a matter of searching in the right place! I know the site can get confusing if unfamiliar, but all you have to do is click the “Health Topics” link on the top of any NutritionFacts.org page and scroll through to find what you’re looking for.  

 

It seems that decreasing animal protein and sodium intake is more effective in treating calcium oxalate and uric acid kidney stones than restricting calcium or oxalates. But what about preventing stones in the first place? Dr. Greger mentions the most important things we can do diet-wise is to drink 10 to 12 cups of water a day and reduce animal protein, reduce salt, and eat more vegetables and plant-based foods. See more in the video: How to Prevent Kidney Stones. (Note that the video was released after your question so I highly suggest watching it). 

 

Kidney stones are caused by a number of factors. Oxalates are naturally occurring compounds in many foods, vegetables in particular, that have the ability to bind to minerals like calcium and magnesium. Dr. Greger mentions more about the different types of kidney stones and ways to prevent them in: What’s the best diet for kidney stones? Interestingly, vitamin C breaks down to form oxalates and large doses of vitamin C supplements is associated with greater kidney stone risk in men. Whole-food sources of vitamin C don’t seem to be a problem.

If someone already has kidney problems they should really watch their intake of turmeric (See: Who Shouldn’t Consume Curcumin or Turmeric?). Even though turmeric and cinnamon contain about the same amount of oxalates, 90% of the oxalates in turmeric are soluble (readily absorbed), which is why those with kidney problems or prone to stone formation should limit turmeric to like 1 teaspoon per day. Cinnamon isn’t a real concern oxalate-wise (but raises concerns about coumarin).

The oxalates do bind up calcium in vegetables, though, so spinach and beet greens are therefore not good sources of calcium (though wonderful foods in their own right!) Healthy sources of calcium include kale, broccoli, collards, beans, tofu, dried figs, fortified plant milks, and even blackstrap molasses – one of the healthiest sweeteners you can use! Calcium needs for adults 19-50 years old is 1,000 mg per day. Adults older than 50 need 1,200 mg of calcium per day, but calcium recommendations vary greatly by country. It’s like 700 mg in the U.K., which is odd , right? This huge discrepancy gives Dr. Greger the hibigeebies, meaning he questions the government panels issuing these recommendations. What does the science say? Stay tuned for clarifications in his new videos: “Are Calcium Supplements Safe?” and “Are Calcium Supplements Effective?” If you cannot wait’ till November they are available as a video download as part of his new Latest in Clinical Nutrition volume 27 (of course, all proceeds go to charity). It can also be ordered as a physical DVD. Lastly, a great cheat sheet on meeting calcium needs on a plant-based diet can be found here.

For more on diet and kidney failure, watch Preventing Kidney Failure Through Diet and Treating Kidney Failure Through Diet (both summarized Dr. Greger’s blog post: Preventing and Treating Kidney Failure With Diet).

 

It’s important to know that a high intake of oxalates can become toxic. If you are tapering off a benzo or healing from the brain damage the drug can cause, high intakes of oxalates can rev up withdrawal symptoms. If you have anxiety issues due to fluoroquinolone toxicity (floxed), watching your oxalate intake is essential.

But oxalates themselves are not evil. They are found in some of the most nutritious foods on the planet. If you are concerned about them, you can eat foods with a lower concentration or boil the foods with higher levels to reduce the oxalates.

The moral of the story? Swap out your raw spinach in your smoothies or salads for kale or collards. Boil spinach and Swiss chard to lower their oxalate levels. Don’t take high doses of vitamin C, especially when loading up on dark green leafy veggies. Eat fresh foods that contain vitamin C instead.

Three ways to reduce oxalates:

  1. Drink plenty of water to help your body flush out oxalates.
  2. Consume enough calcium, which binds to oxalates during digestion.
  3. Limit sodium and sugar intake, which may contribute to kidney stones at high levels.

Keep adding more plants to your diet. Keep reducing your animal product intake. Stay hydrated. 

Till tomorrow!

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. No Beef Vegan Stew And An Extra!

Today’s recipe is from the kitchen of Rachel Ama. She has a grace about her that I find calming, and her voice is so rich and velvety. I’ve cooked many of her recipes. 

I’ve made this stew on a few occasions. I can attest to its full-flavor heartiness. It’s a bit more time-consuming than other recipes because of the mushroom cooking step. You can decide if you want to cook with oil or not. 

I’ve not made the butternut squash pasta. If you try it, let me know. 

The Youtube Recipes

The website version of the beef-less stew.

The stew is best eaten the second day when the flavors have marinated. You can store it in containers for a few days. Enjoy. 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.  

Day 14

Let’s Talk Lectins.

 

We’ve learned about histamine and oxalates. Now let’s learn about lectins. 

Lectins are a family of proteins found in almost all foods. They are found in higher levels in legumes and grains. Some people claim that eating foods high in lectins cause increased gut permeability and drive autoimmune diseases, however, this has not been proven. In fact, the literature shows the opposite: legumes and grains are part of a diet that is gut healthy. 

Lectins are often described as antinutrients because they bind to sugars and carbohydrate molecules. Lectins aren’t digested and they are believed to keep us from properly absorbing some vitamins, minerals, and proteins. The concern is that if we eat foods high in lectins we will end up malnourished. 

But this isn’t the case at all! Communities that eat foods high in lectins are often the healthiest and longest-living group of people. 

Now, some lectin-rich plants we do want to avoid as they are poisonous. Castor beans contain a powerful lectin called ricin. But I’m sure you’re not tempted to eat castor beans as they aren’t sold in grocery stores, although you can buy the seeds to grow the plant in your garden. They are quite lovely, actually. (But poisonous just the same!)

Perhaps you’ve run across Dr. Gundry’s ads promoting his book, The Plant Paradox. He’s made a career out of scaring people about eating plants. He has been a very loud voice dissing plants with lectins. He also markets a very expensive olive oil that is to be taken as a “shot” every day. Olive oil, like all the other oils, roughs up the epithelial lining of our blood vessels, a precursor to heart disease. I don’t put a lot of faith in what Dr. Gundry promotes. Many doctors do not either. 

If you watched the video with Dr. Klaper on January 7th, you’ll remember that he said he’s never heard of anyone being diagnosed with malnutrition due to lectins. If you missed the video, here it is again. 

This is what I find the most amusing about the whole lectin kerfuffle: if you cook your legumes and grains, (who eats dried raw beans?!) you greatly reduce and sometimes completely eliminate the lectin activity. So what is the big problem? 

In this article of Ask the Expert, the answer is clear: to avoid foods with lectins would be the cause of nutritional deficiencies, not the other way around. Eat your beans, people! 🙂

October 2017 Issue

Ask the Expert: Clearing Up Lectin Misconceptions

By Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN

Today’s Dietitian

Vol. 19, No. 10, P. 10

Given the strong scientific data that support the health benefits of pulses, nuts, fruits, and vegetables (ie, foods in which lectin is found), and the scarce scientific evidence available on the harmful effects of lectin, it would be nonsensical for any dietetics professional to recommend a lectin-free diet. Furthermore, because they provide a wide array of important nutrients, removing lectin-filled foods from the diet, especially over a long period of time, can lead to potential deficiencies. However, as the media and current diet culture continue to have a strong influence on consumer behavior, dietetics professionals should be prepared to answer questions about lectin and debunk the myth surrounding avoidance of lectin-containing foods. 

What does Dr. Greger have to say about lectins? Let’s watch and see. The video is 7 minutes long. Scroll down on his web page and check out the other listed videos Dr. Greger has about lectins. 

 

I hope this clears up the misconceptions about lectins. One of the foods that have been linked to best health and longevity is legumes. 

 

Till tomorrow!

Dr. Jenn

 

Today’s Recipe. Instant Pot Millet With Vegetables

 

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, you may want to consider purchasing one. They have a small learning curve (the number of buttons can be intimidating at first), but once you get the hang of it, they become a kitchen essential. 

This recipe is not a video, it is on a website. 

The recipe suggests the addition of soy curls. Soy curls are 100% dehydrated soybeans that have been magically turned into dry strips. They are excellent for adding protein. I love cooking with them. I’ll include a soy curl BBQ recipe soon. You can find them on Amazon or at Butler Foods.

I love this recipe for a few reasons, one is the use of millet. It’s a whole grain that is gluten-free and delicious. The gut microbiome really likes diversity, so adding something new to your diet is helpful. I hope you’ll give it a try. It’s a really versatile dish; you can change up the spices and make it taste different every time. 

Today’s Recipe. Instant Pot Millet WIth Vegetables. 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.   Are you eating more and more plant-based and crowding out the animal products? I hope so!

Day 15

Will I Be Able To Bake Again?

 

If you love to bake and are wondering if you will be able to make yummy desserts that are healthy and omit oil, dairy, and eggs, the answer is YES! There are plenty of WFPB deserts that are deliciously guilt-free. 

Milk replacement is easy. Substitute any plant-based milk for cow’s milk. You can find barista blends that are higher in fat (maybe not the healthiest choice, but they are plant-based!) or use a regular plant-based milk. There are many to choose from. I use oat, soy, and sometimes almond. If your recipe calls for buttermilk, add a  bit of apple cider vinegar into the plant-based milk that is called for the recipe and let it sit for a few minutes. It will have a more tangy taste like buttermilk.

Oil replacements can be a bit more tricky, so I’ll let an expert plant-based baker share her secrets. Some of the common replacements like applesauce and nut butters seem to have some issues, so do read her blog post for clarification.

Egg replacements are a bit easier. (I’ll add a download.) You can use flax seeds, bananas, tofu, arrowroot powder, plant-based yogurt, and more. One of the superstars in plant-based egg replacers is aquafaba, or bean water. I promised I’d tell you about it. So, here goes. It’s pretty amazing!

Aquafaba is the water from a drained can of chickpeas (garbanzo beans). It can be used in place of eggs to bind ingredients and it can be whipped and made into a meringue and even macaroons. I’m not kidding!  There is a Facebook group dedicated to cooking/baking with aquafaba. (You can do a search for it.)

Curious? Here is a website that shows aquafaba recipes.  

 

Here is another. It lists 20 recipes.

I bake with aqaufaba. My Vegan, gluten-free pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving was held together with aquafaba and some arrowroot. The trick is to whip the aquafaba to the consistency the recipe calls for. 

Seriously, you don’t have to give up the things you love when you go plant-based. We can “veganize” almost anything. (Some things won’t be as healthy as others. Sugar and vegan butter aren’t exactly healthy food, but sometimes we crave a bite or two of something sweet, I know.)

If you are interested in how to veganize an omnivore recipe, you may want to watch Sauce Stache. He’s making a career out of vegan kitchen chemistry. I’ve tried a few of his recipes and they have all been delightful. I can’t vouch for all of them being WFPB healthy, but they are all plant-based at least. 🙂

Here are some deserts you may want to try.

Do a search within the Minimalist Baker’s website. It has a lot of yummy desserts. 

We are right at the halfway mark in the course. I hope you have replaced at least half of your animal products with whole, plant-based foods. 

 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

You’ll get a chance to use aquafaba if you make these cookies. 

Disclaimer: I’ve not eaten these (I’m highly allergic to chocolate) but I made them for our family Christmas celebration. They were devoured within minutes. A big hit!

If you can’t find vegan chocolate chips at your grocery store, you can buy them on Amazon. A quick search will produce a few brands to choose from. (I got mine there.)

Here is the link. 

Enjoy! Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear about your experience with it.

Day 16

WFPB Resources: Doctors, Chefs, Researchers, and Movies

When I became a vegan, I spent a lot of time researching recipes and information about nutrition. I found some fabulous websites. Some I’ve already shared with you in earlier posts. I’d thought I’d put them all together for you to make it easier to find them in the future should you want to search them out. 

If you want to know more about a WFPB lifestyle, these are the doctors I recommend you follow:

Dr. Milton Mills

Dr. Micheal Greger

Dr. Michael Klaper

Dr. Esselstyn

Dr. Bernard

Dr. Ornish

Dr. T. Colin Campbell 

If you want to follow some plant-based chefs, these are the ones I enjoy, but there are many more! Not all will be low/no oil, so you may want to adjust some recipes if you want to minimize or omit oil. 

The Avant-Garde Vegan

Sauce Stache

Well Your World

Pick Up Limes

Chef AJ

Minimalist Baker

Jane Esslstyn

Forks Over Knives

The happy Pear

The Wicked Kitchen

Bosh

These are just a sampling of the resources that are available to you. Don’t hesitate to do a search for information. Good search words are “whole-food plant-based”, “whole food plant-based no oil”, “WFPB” “Vegan recipes”, “Vegan recipes no oil.” 

Questions about plant-based nutrition can be found on most of the doctor’s websites, but Dr. Greger’s site is dedicated to nutrition. Also, Mic The Vegan, a vegan researcher is a good resource. 

I always recommend two movies:

Forks Over knives. 

The Game Changers

The Game Changers is especially enjoyed by men due to a nocturnal erection experiment (spoiler, plant-based men have stronger, longer, more frequent!) 

I hope these resources will help you as you continue on your journey being plant-based to help you reduce anxiety and increase your vitality! I want you to thrive!

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Vegan Welsh Cawl

I don’t know anything about Welsh cuisine, but this dish is killer. I cook it a few times a month. 

I don’t use mint sauce. I use chopped mint leaves. I use miso instead of Marmite. I also toss in the lemon that I’ve juiced. (I quarter each half.) You can use canned butterbeans.

This meal is hearty and full of interesting flavors. A suggestion, cut the leeks a good size otherwise they will fall apart as they cook. Oh, and a swede is a rutabaga. If you’re not familiar with them, I hope this will introduce you to how delicious (and nutritious!) they are. 

Here is the link.

Are you continuing to remove animal products and replace them with more WFPB foods? I hope so.  Hydrate! 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.   

Day 17

It’s Stress Less Day!

I’ve shared a lot of content with you, I know. You’ve been doing great to absorb as much as you can.

In keeping with the Four Cornerstones Of Well-Being, today is a day to stress less. (The four Cornerstones are: eat right, move enough, stress less, and love well.)

You can use this time to catch up on past class posts or simply rest and relax. 

We will connect again tomorrow. You’re on the downhill side and it’s an easier ride from here. 🙂 

You should be eating more and more plant-based. I hope it’s getting easier for you. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Leftovers!

It’s stress less day! No new recipe to explore. I hope you’ve put away from of the dishes you’ve made in the past. Warm them up and enjoy. 

If you don’t have any leftovers, a quick and easy meal is to open a can of beans, rinse and warm them up. Add them to a bowl with steamed veggies. Perfect dinner! 

You can add some rice, avocado, seeds, and nuts if you want more calories/nutrition. 

You’ve earned this day of rest. I’m so proud of all the effort you’ve made to understand the why of going WFPB, and the how. Job well done! 

Feel free to share what you ate today. 

 

Day 18

Anxiety Busters


Some foods really shine in helping reduce anxiety. These may not turn down the volume on benzo injury caused anxiety (down-regulated GABA receptors) but these foods are good to eat overall.

Brazil Nuts

They are high in selenium, which reduces inflammation. Selenium is an antioxidant (prevents cell damage), as well as anti-carcinogenic.

Brazil nuts are a good source for vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant.  Other foods rich in selenium are nuts, vegetables, soybeans, and mushrooms. It’s not a wise idea to take a selenium supplement if you are getting enough from your diet as too much can cause side effects. If you eat Brazil nuts, two or three a day is enough. 

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain potassium which regulates electrolyte balance and blood pressure.  Eating potassium-rich foods may help reduce stress and anxiety symptoms. 

Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc. One study showed that low levels of zinc may negatively affect mood. 

Zinc is essential for brain and nerve development. The largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain regions involved with emotions.

Dark Chocolate

40 grams of dark chocolate appears to help reduce perceived stress. Many of the studies done are observational, so we have to take them with a grain of salt. But how nice if it’s true that dark chocolate really is an anxiety buster! The studies may be true because dark chocolate contains polyphenols, especially flavonoids. Flavonoids are thought to reduce neuroinflammation and cell death in the brain as well as boost blood flow. 

Dark chocolate also gives us a dose of tryptophan, which the body turns into stress-busting serotonin. 

Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, which can reduce depression and calm anxiety.

Choose dark chocolate 70% or higher. Be aware that chocolate contains added sugar and fats, so a little goes a long way. 

Turmeric

Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Indian and some Asian cooking. The active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin. It’s thought that it helps reduce anxiety by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. 

Increase the amount of curcumin in the diet and you also increase DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid is an omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain development. It is linked to better heart health, vision, and reduced inflammation response.). You can add turmeric to dishes as the taste is very mild. Its beautiful orange color can stain, do so be careful. 

 

Plant-Based Yogurt

Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which are thought to have positive effects on brain health. 

Fermented foods aid the good natural gut bacteria and therefore may help reduce anxiety. 

Fermented food includes sauerkraut, kimchi (check to make sure it is vegan), and fermented soy products. If you react to these foods, you can eat in moderation, or skip them until you feel more healed. 

Green Tea

Green tea contains theanine. It seems to reduce anxiety and have a calming effect by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine. 

Of course, there are many other foods that can help reduce anxiety. Foods high in magnesium are also good for reducing anxiety. 

One thing that research is beginning to prove more and more is that diets high in processed foods can increase anxiety. 

These teas are good for anxiety but should be avoided while healing from a benzodiazepine injury:

Chamomile tea is used worldwide to calm stress and anxiety. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, and relaxant properties. The flavonoids present may help account for some of the relaxing effects, but it is also thought to be GABAergic, meaning it works on the GABA receptors. GABA is the calming neurotransmitter. 

 It’s thought best to leave the GABA receptors alone so that they can heal. 

Valerian root is GABAergic, too. It is best to use only in small amounts and avoid it if you are on or healing from a benzodiazepine. Some people have reported withdrawal symptoms from drinking GABAeric teas on a regular basis. 

Kava Kava and passion fruit teas can also rev up benzo symptoms. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Jamaican Pineapple. Ginger, Turmeric Tonic

I’ve made this many, many times. It’s a very healthy drink. You can drink it cold, or warm it up during the winter months. 

The channel I found it on is not plant-based, so please ignore any flesh recipes or images. 🙂

I make the tonic with pineapple skins, ginger, turmeric, and I add orange or tangerine. Feel free to play around with it. I’ve sweetened it, and I’ve had it plain. I prefer it plain for taste and health reasons. 

I love it! I hope you do too. 

I’ve included it because of the turmeric, which is listed as an anxiety buster.

Drink up!

Here is the link.

We are past midway in the course. I hope you are eating more and more plant-based! Stay hydrated. 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.    

 

Day 19

Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Psycobiotics

 

Let’s review what we know about the gut. About 100 trillion bacteria, and 500 to 1,000 species of bacteria, live in the human gut. This bacteria colony is called the gut microbiome. And some of the microbes communicate with your brain via the gut-brain axis, affecting your thoughts, feelings, and even behavior. It’s important that we take care of our gut microbiome since our health rests on the health of our gut microbiome. It plays a critical role in the quality of our lives. 

If your gut isn’t healthy, you are more at risk for physical and mental health problems. Research shows that people with digestive disorders are more likely to have anxiety. People with anxiety are more likely to have higher rates of GI diseases. It can be a vicious cycle. 

The good news is that healing the gut can help improve anxiety (and a whole lot more!).

 

Let’s look at prebiotics, probiotics, and psychobiotics. 

A probiotic supplement or food introduces new bacteria into your gut. This is great, except that those bacteria don’t set up shop and stick around. They don’t colonize. They ultimately end up in your toilet. While they are traveling through, they do some good. They break down plant fiber and release short-chain fatty acids, the superheroes of anti-inflammation.  

Probiotc supplements can play a role in helping reduce anxiety by helping the gut. However, they should not take the place of a healthy diet that includes probiotics.

Which probiotics are best? Dr. B., the plant-fed gut doctor, suggests avoiding the pricey ones that have to be refrigerated. If they are that fussy, they may not make it alive to where they need to be.

Which foods contain probiotics?  Any fermented food. Some good choices are plant-based yogurt, sauerkrauts, vegan kimchee, and fermented juices. 

If you are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from anti-anxiety medication, probiotic supplements, and foods may cause an increase in symptoms. You can start out with small amounts and work your way up to minimize any possible discomfort.

This is a good article about probiotics. 

If you have taken an antibiotic your doctor may recommend that you take a probiotic. However, that is old medical advice. With new research into the gut microbiome, the suggestion is to AVOID a probiotic and to take a prebiotic. Antibiotics kill 30 to 50 percent of the gut microbiome. The remaining microbes will fight off the new bacteria in the probiotic instead of spending the energy on growing the colony. The new medical advice is to take a prebiotic and wait a few months or more before taking a probiotic. 

Prebiotics are different than probiotics. Prebioitcs don’t introduce new bacteria into the gut but rather they nourish and colonize the bacteria already living in the gut. Prebioitcs are types of plant fiber. There are many prebiotic foods or supplements to choose from. 

Which foods are prebioitc? Here is a list of 19. 

This article is a good read on the subject.

What is a psychobiotic? Psychobiotics are pro and prebiotics that improve mental health. Psychobioitccs are thought to improve anxiety by:

  • Stimulating the vagus nerve
  • Producing neurotransmitters, such as GABA and serotonin
  • Reducing stress hormone levels
  • Reducing inflammation, one of the major underlying causes of mental illness
  • Increasing BDNF levels
  • Crowding out pathogenic bacteria
  • Increasing nutrient production and absorption

Here is a list of some effective psychobiotics that have been shown to decrease stress and help treat anxiety disorders.  (I’ve copied this list from https://www.optimallivingdynamics.com/blog/the-9-most-promising-psychobiotics-for-anxiety. I’ve taken out references to animal products. I’ve left the links intact in the article.) 

 

1. Lactobacillus rhamnosus

Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a bacterium found in the human gut. It is one of the most popular probiotic species found in supplements.

Preliminary research suggests that supplementing with lactobacillus rhamnosus can lower anxiety in humans.

GABA is the main inhibitory and relaxing neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, and studies suggest that lactobacillus rhamnosus may reduce anxiety by changing the expression of GABA receptors (1-2, 4). 

In one study, researchers gave lactobacillus rhamnosus to mice, and it reduced their anxiety-like behaviours. But when researchers removed part of their vagus nerve, lactobacillus rhamnosus did not reduce their anxiety, suggesting that psychobiotics communicate with the brain and improve mental health through the vagus nerve 

“The mice [given lactobacillus rhamnosus] were more chilled out.”

— Dr. John Cryan, researcher and pharmacologist with the Alimentary Pharmabiotic Center at University College Cork, Ireland

Other studies have found that lactobacillus rhamnosus decreases stress-induced anxiety-like behaviour, and researchers have concluded that it can protect against anxiety. 

Lactobacillus rhamnosus has also been shown to reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)-like behaviour in mice. In fact, researchers found it was just as effective as fluoxetine, an SSRI antidepressant commonly used to treat OCD

So if you struggle with OCD or obsessive-compulsive tendencies, it’s worth trying this psychobiotic.

Lactobacillus rhamnosus can be found in some fermented foods.

2. Bifidobacterium longum

Bifidobacterium longum is another bacterium present in the human gut. It is often added to food as it can help prevent the growth of pathogenic organisms.

I previously wrote about how it’s been proven to help treat depression.

But it can also reduce anxiety. 

Researchers have concluded that bifidobacterium longum can reduce cortisol and alleviate psychological distress in humans (including obsessions, compulsions, paranoia, anxiety) (28-30). 

Lots of animal research also shows that bifidobacterium longum can significantly reduce anxiety-like behavior. 

One study found that a chronic infection in mice increased inflammation and caused anxiety-like behaviour, but bifidobacterium longum reduced anxiety and normalized behavior. 

Researchers have even figured out that it works by acting through the vagus nerve

 

3. Lactobacillus plantarum

Lactobacillus plantarum is another probiotic species that can reduce anxiety. 

In one study, researchers gave lactobacillus plantarum to patients with irritable bowel syndrome and it significantly reduced their anxiety and improved their quality of life.

Animal studies also show that lactobacillus plantarum can cause positive changes in emotional behaviors and significantly reduce anxiety-like behaviours. It does this by increasing dopamine and serotonin, lowering stress hormone levels, and reducing inflammation. 

As a result, researchers have concluded that lactobacillus plantarum has psychotropic properties without physical side effects, and has great potential for treating neuropsychiatric disorders, including anxiety. 

Lactobacillus plantarum is also commonly found in many fermented vegetables including sauerkraut, pickles, brined olives, kimchi.

 

4. Lactobacillus helveticus

Lactobacillus helveticus is a probiotic strain that has been shown to reduce cortisol and have anti-anxiety effects in humans.

One study found that it can even reduce paranoid and obsessive-compulsive thoughts (38). 

Animal research shows that a Western-style diet can negatively change the gut microbiome, increase brain inflammation, and contribute to anxiety. But lactobacillus helveticus can protect against this, reducing both neuroinflammation and anxiety.

One study even found that lactobacillus helveticus works better than citalopram, a common SSRI antidepressant, at reducing anxiety-like behaviour in rats. It also reduced their stress hormone levels and increased their serotonin levels.

 

 

5. Lactobacillus reuteri

Lactobacillus reuteri is a bacterium with anti-inflammatory effects that scientists first discovered in the 1980s. 

It is usually found in the human gut. However, not all humans have it, and some people simply have very low levels of it. Therefore, you may need to supplement with it to introduce and maintain high levels of it.

Research shows that Lactobacillus reuteri can reduce anxiety-like behaviours in animals by reducing stress hormone levels and altering the expression of GABA receptors.

And one study found that the absence of lactobacillus reuteri causes social deficits in animals.

“We found that treatment with this single bacterial strain was able to rescue their social behavior.”

— Shelly Buffington, neuroscience researcher at Baylor College of Medicine

By adding it back in to the guts of the animals, the researchers were able to reverse some of their behavioural deficits, which were similar to symptoms of social anxiety and autism in humans.

Therefore, lactobacillus reuteri is definitely the psychobiotic strain worth trying if you struggle with social anxiety or symptoms of autism.

 

6. Lactobacillus casei

Lactobacillus casei is another bacterium found in the human gut. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, patients with chronic fatigue syndrome and digestive problems took Lactobacillus casei as a daily supplement for two months. At the end of the study, they had a significant decrease in their anxiety symptoms. 

So this is a good psychobiotic to try if you struggle with a mixture of fatigue, digestive problems and anxiety.

Lactobacillus casei is the dominant species in naturally fermented Sicilian green olives, and can also be found in other fermented vegetables.

 

7. Lactobacillus fermentum

Lactobacillus fermentum is another species that is part of the human microbiome and commonly found in fermented vegetables.

It hasn’t been studied as much as other lactobacillus probiotic species.

But there still is some evidence that is may be able to help treat anxiety, especially if you have a long history of antibiotic treatment. 

Research shows that antibiotics can trigger anxiety in animals by disturbing the microbiome.

But by giving animals lactobacillus fermentum, researchers can reduce the inflammation and reverse the psychological problems brought on by antibiotics, including anxiety-like behavior.

So if you’ve taken a lot of antibiotics over the years, or noticed that your anxiety got worse after taking a course of antibiotics, taking a psychobiotic supplement with lactobacillus fermentum is worth a try. 

 

8. Bifidobacterium breve

Bifidobacterium breve is a beneficial bacterium found in human breast milk and the human gut. The amount in your gut declines as you get older.

Research shows that bifidobacterium breve can reduce anxiety-like behaviour in animals (21). 

Anxious animals also perform better on cognitive tests after being given it (22). 

This makes bifidobacterium breve a great psychobiotic option if your anxiety impairs your cognition and interferes with your ability to complete tasks. 

Bifidobacterium breve can be found naturally in some fermented foods.

 

9. Galacto-oligosaccharides

Not all psychobiotics are simply probiotics.

Psychobiotics can also include “prebiotics,” which are non-digestible soluble fibres that stimulate the growth of good gut bacteria, and therefore improve mental health and reduce anxiety.

Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are a type of prebiotic that have been shown to do just that. 

In one study, GOS significantly decreased the secretion of cortisol, and participants paid more attention to positive information rather than negative information (23).

People who are anxious tend to have high levels of cortisol and often get caught up in negative thinking. So this study suggests that GOS has anti-anxiety effects. 

Other research has demonstrated that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often have anxiety because of the lack of microbial diversity in their gut. However, when IBS sufferers supplement with a prebiotic mixture containing GOS, it significantly reduces their anxiety and improves the quality of their life. Beans and some root vegetables are high in GOS. 

If you want to add pro, pre, or psycho biotics to your diet, I suggest starting with natural food sources first, then try a supplement if you want to go that route. Remember to start with small amounts of food or supplements to see how you react. 

 

Day 20

Be Supplement Savvy!

 

Do you need to take supplements if you eat a WFPB diet? Yes, and no. 

If you eat a well-planned diet that contains foods fortified with B12  and a source of DHA and get enough sunshine, you may not need a supplement. But, I’d not take the chance. I’d supplement with a vegan B12, at least. And I’d follow the research on DHA to make my own opinion about supplementing it. If you are low in vitamin D, you may want to supplement.

Dr. Colin Campbell, a leading nutrition researcher and scientist whose career spans over sixty years, believes we don’t need supplements if we eat correctly. He contends that the nutrients we get in whole foods are better than what’s in a supplement. The whole food contains other nutrients that work together synergistically and can’t be replicated. We may be able to synthesize vitamin C, but we can’t make an orange from scratch. 

Dr. B, the plant-fed gut doctor, points out that if we take more than two supplements, we have no way of knowing what they are doing in our bodies.

You’ll need to decide for yourself if you want to take supplements or not. I hope you eat a nutritionally adequate diet and don’t rely on vitamins to fill the gap because they may not.

Let’s look at B12. Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential vitamin that your body needs but cannot produce on its own. Vitamin B12 supports the normal function of your nerve cells and is needed for red blood cell formation and DNA synthesis.

The main source of B12 is in animal products. (There is one plant-based source, and that is duckweed.) Animals don’t magically produce B12. They get it from the sources we used to get it from; the soil. B12 grows on bacteria. In the past, we’d get enough as it clung to the roots of plants or in the water, we drank from the earth. Modern sanitation has all but removed B12 from our diet.

Even omnivores can be low in B12. It’s not just a plant-based eater concern. It is also an animal agriculture problem; more farmers must supplement the animals. If you eat animal products to get your B12, you will likely consume a supplemented B12 given to the animal. So, why not leave the animal off your plate and reach for the supplement instead? That’s a much healthier choice!

 

We don’t need a lot of B12 daily. Most supplements are massive overkill. If you are tapering off of anxiety medication or off and healing, B12 may increase the volume of withdrawal symptoms. Start with small amounts and work your way up. 

You can get B12 in fortified plant-based milk (check the label), fortified nutritional yeast (which can rev up withdrawal symptoms. Start with small amounts and see how you respond), fortified cereals, and even some fortified toothpaste.

The bottom line is that vitamin 12 is an essential vitamin we have to have. Our bodies do not produce it. If you’d like to learn more, here is a link to a very informative article. 

B12 is a very straightforward issue. We don’t naturally produce it. Our diets may be low in it. Supplementing makes sense. But it’s not so clear with DHA. There is controversy surrounding it.

For a long time, plant-based doctors recommended taking DHA supplements. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain development. It is also linked to improved heart health, vision, and reduced inflammatory response. 

Omnivores get most of their dietary DHA from fish. However, fish do not magically produce DHA. They get it from the algae growing in the sea. Some doctors suggest taking an algae supplement to get enough DHA. (Fish oil, by the way, is not a good supplement to take. It’s loaded with mercury and other toxins. Research has not shown that it helps our health. (Watch this three-minute video on what Dr. Greger has to say about it. )

But other doctors say no, based on research that links DHA supplements to prostate cancer in men. Those doctors believe that we can nourish the body with the right foods, and produce what we need. Watch this video by Dr. Klaper, which explains the new way of thinking about DHA. The video is seven minutes long. 

Eat a few walnuts and ground flax seeds or chia every day if you decide not to supplement DHA. 

What about vitamin D? Many people are low in vitamin D. Vitamin D (is a hormone, not a vitamin)  helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. It keeps bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. Vitamin D deficiency can cause bone deformities such as rickets and bone pain. 

There are two types of vitamin D; D3 and D2. Vitamin D3, or cholecalcifero comes from animal sources: oily fish (like herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines), liver, egg yolks, and red meat. 

Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is derived from plant sources, one example of which is wild mushrooms. Vitamin D2 is less expensive to make than vitamin D3, so most fortified food sources of vitamin D contain the D2 form.

Vitamin D2 is converted into 25-hydroxyvitamin D2, or calcifediol. In its active form, there is little to no difference between vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. 

If you take a vitamin D supplement, carefully check the label. Vitamin D3 usually comes from sheep’s lanolin, which is a grease excreted by their skin as a barrier for their wool. You can find vegan D2 sources which are equally effective as D3. 

If you are in benzo withdrawal, vitamin D can exacerbate symptoms. Start with a low dose and taper up to a higher dose. 

What about protein powders? If we eat a diverse whole-food, plant-based diet, we should get enough protein.  We’ve been brainwashed into believing that protein is the end-all-be-all nutrient. It isn’t.

Protein came into the spotlight during WWII. Nutritional research exploded in the 1940s with the government wanting healthy soldiers. The great depression had depleted many of their health, and building up bodies was key. Research priorities were politically motivated and therefore not completely objective. So when it was discovered that protein helps bodies grow fast, protein became the “superstar” of the nutrition world, even though protein has a dark shadow: it doesn’t discriminate what it grows. Cancer, it turned out, began to flourish as we ate more protein. 

Enter in animal agriculture and the dairy industry with their lobbyists and meat and dairy became staples in our diet. In no time in history have we eaten as much animal protein as we do now. It is interesting to research the history of food in the US. How did milk become a subsidized industry with a carton on every school child’s lunch plate? It’s fascinating and frustrating at the same time. 

Protein became the golden boy and we began to eat more and more of it, thinking it would keep us lean and healthy. With the push for keto diets and paleo diets, we see that the brainwashing continues. 

Bottom line? You need about 6-10% of your daily total caloric intake to be protein. You can adequately meet that need with plant protein. A pound of broccoli has more protein than a pound of beef, interestingly enough. 

What about other supplements? What you decide to take is up to you. Remember, many supplements can rev us up in benzo withdrawal.  Personally, I follow Dr. Campbell’s philosophy that less is more. I aim for eating the whole food, instead of a synthesized vitamin or nutrient. (I do take some B12, D2, and a prebiotic.)  If you decide to take a supplement,  start with a tiny dose and work your way up. 

 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

 

Today’s Recipe. Potato and Leek Soup.

Yesterday’s post was about prebiotics and probiotics. Leeks are prebiotic so I thought I’d share a killer potato and leek soup. (I want to go and make a big pot of it immediately!)

You can skip the oil that is an ingredient if you’d like.  

This is a simple recipe and leftovers can be easily kept in the fridge for a few days. 

Here is the recipe. 

Leave a comment if you try this recipe. I’d love to hear how you like it, or what you did to change it.    

Day 21

Detox Pathways

 

What we put in our bodies is enormously important. Equally important is what we absorb and what we break down and eliminate from our bodies. Keeping our detox pathways in tip-top shape is vital to our health and happiness. If our detox pathways get gummed up, our mental health can suffer.

This blog post from Kithandkin contains one of the best overviews about detoxification. It’s a lot to take in so take your time reading. 

If you want a highly scientific article, read this one. Head’s up, it’s very dense. 

I’ve taken this from my blog at benzowithdrawalhelp.com:

Detoxification

Our liver does a fantastic job of breaking down the bad guys in our bodies. Detoxification occurs in three phases, Phase 1, Phase 2, and elimination, which starts in the liver and then heads out to either our urination or defecation processes. The phases are essential yet can be faulty due to genetics, medications, stress, toxins, etc. Research shows that cancers, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disorders, immune dysfunction, insomnia, brain fog, aches, pains, etc., may be caused by defective detoxification. 

Phase 1

Phase 1 of detoxification uses a group of enzymes referred to as CYP, the cytochrome P450 family. These enzymes protect our cells from damage by breaking down toxins into smaller substances for future detoxification and making fat-soluble toxins more water-soluble to enter Phase 2.

Benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan use the CYP pathway. (Ativan and Klonopin use a different path). Phase 1 is called into action by the presence of toxins and is also activated in a positive way by:

  • Herbs: milk thistle, sassafras, caraway, and dill
  • Citrus: tangerines and oranges (grapefruit shuts down Phase 1)
  • Vitamin C rich foods like strawberries and bell peppers
  • Cruciferous veggies (also called Brassica): Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, and turnips, broccoli sprouts 
  • Vitamins: C and most of the Bs
  • Lipotropics: compounds that break down fat in metabolism (cysteine, methionine, choline, and inositol)
  • Minerals: magnesium and iron

Note that Phase 1 detoxification creates free radicals. Eating extra helpings of foods that are antioxidants is essential. Foods high in polyphenols are a good idea: berries, grapes, apples, cherries, and pears. Foods high in flavonoids such as tea, citrus fruits, apples, and legumes are important too.

A quick list of nutrients needed for proper Phase 1 detoxification: 

  • B2
  • B6
  • B9 (folate)
  • B12
  • Glutathione
  • Branched Chain Amino Acids
  • Flavonoids
  • Phospholipids 

Phase 2 of detoxification

There are several pathways for detoxification for Phase 2: Sulphation, glucuronidation, glutathione conjugation, methylation, acetylation, and glycation. Except for Klonopin, which is broken down through acetylation, most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines go through glucuronidation. During glucuronidation, the liver attaches another molecule to chemicals to make them less harmful. 

Several foods that support Phase 2 glucuronidation are:

  • Cruciferous veggies (high in sulforaphane), broccoli sprouts.
  • Some citrus fruit peels (limonene).
  • Rooibos tea.
  • Astaxanthin in algae. 

Phase 3

The third phase of the detoxification process is the elimination of toxins. In this phase, Phase 2 matter is routed to your kidneys for more filtration then on to your bladder and out of your body through urination, or through your bile and into your small intestine, down through your GI tract for removal in your stool.

You need proper hydration for both urination and defecation. You also need a healthy gut microbiome so that your GI system is working optimally for appropriate elimination.

Here are some more points to ponder: mental health does not solely rest upon neurotransmitters. Hormones play a role as well. Progesterone affects the way GABA (the calming neurotransmitter) works in your brain. If your liver isn’t metabolizing your hormones through phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways, you may have higher estrogen levels and lower progesterone levels. Then GABA won’t work as well, leading to anxiety and insomnia.

The Gut Microbiome

If we don’t properly feed the microbes on our gut, we will experience dysbiosis, an overgrowth of the “bad guys”  and end up with not enough beneficial “good guys” bacteria. Stress, trauma, medications, toxins, lack of exercise, alcohol, etc., are also drivers of dysbiosis. Dysbiosis causes toxins to enter the bloodstream and damages the protective blood-brain barrier. It also negatively impacts the immune system, nervous system, creation of hormones, neurotransmitters, etc. 

The research shows our health rests on the health of our gut microbiome, as it is intertwined with our primary body functions. Heal your gut, and you are on the road to healing your brain, nervous system, immune system, etc. We must fuel the gut with what it prefers, what truly nourishes it so that it can protect and heal our body. When we are properly nourished, the miraculous process of our body’s defense against toxins, Phase 1, 2, and the third phase of elimination, occurs correctly.

It’s not a good idea to attempt a DYI liver detox, bowel cleanses, or to begin taking a lot of supplements. It is, however, a good idea to eat a wide variety of plants while reducing animal products, sugar, additives, chemicals, preservatives, colorants, and processed foods. A whole-food, plant-based diet is best for our gut and detoxification pathways. 

 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. 15 Detox Recipes~

Here is not one, but 15 recipes aimed to help your detox pathways. My favorite is the turmeric, ginger, miso soup. Which one or ones will you try? 

To your liver!

Here is the link to the recipes.

Leave a comment if you try any of these recipes. I’d love to hear how you like them or what you did to change them.    

Day 22

What About Vegan Meats And Cheeses?

 

More and more, there are vegan alternatives to animal products. You can find vegan hamburgers, hotdogs, bacon, sausages, pepperoni, chicken, fish, tuna, egg dishes, even smoked salmon, and so on. Impossible Burgers and Beyond Beef are two of the leading vegan “meats,” but are they healthy? 

They are healthier in the long run than their animal counterparts, but they aren’t healthy foods to eat on a regular basis as they are processed foods. 

It’s the same with vegan cheeses. There are many brands and varieties of vegan cheeses. Vegan “cheese” is better than “real” cheese, but it’s not something you want to eat on a regular basis.

The best use for vegan alternatives is a means to transition into a plant-based diet. They are good stepping stones into the plant-based world. 

As you go whole-food, plant-based, you’ll decide for yourself how often you want to eat vegan alternatives.  You’ll find some are delicious and others are barely tolerable. You’ll have to find what you like. 

Cooking soy products such as tofu, tempeh (fermented soybeans), and soy curls can take the place of meat and are healthier than heavily processed vegan alternatives. Learning to cook with these products is time well spent. The learning curve is very short. 

Other meat alternatives are TVP and VWG, texturized vegetable protein, and vital wheat gluten also called seitan. TVP can be easily added to many dishes. In fact, Hormel chili has relied on TVP as part of its ingredients. TVP looks like small ground beef crumbles. 

Vital wheat gluten, on the other hand, is more challenging to use as a meat replacement. It requires a few steps, but the outcome, if you are not opposed to consuming gluten, is an amazing meat-like substitute. 

There are vegan yogurts, too, made from various plant milks. 

If you are curious about veganizing a recipe you can do a quick google search and find ideas. Sauce Stache, whom I’ve written about earlier, is known for veganizing recipes. He is a delight to watch. 

Why do some people struggle with giving up meat and some don’t? Dr. Klaper feels that some have a more entrenched addiction to meat. You can watch the video here. it is 30 minutes long. You can also read the article. It is a two-minute read. Dr. Klaper says that for those who truly struggle with giving up meat, should eat meat once a week until they can give it up. 

If you are craving meat or cheese, I encourage you to try a vegan alternative. I have to be honest and say that vegan cheeses still have a ways to go, although some of the cream cheeses are delicious. trader Joe’s brand of cream cheese is fabulous. I prefer Impossible Burger over Beyond Beef, but your taste buds may vary.

I hope you are now eating plant-based for the majority of your meals and snacks.

Today’s Recipes. Vegan Brisket, Chili, and BBQ.

These recipes highlight vegan meat alternatives.

The vegan brisket recipe isn’t for the faint of heart. It has a lot of steps and is time-consuming. The outcome is worth the effort, however. I’ve cooked it before for a large family gathering. My son did the last step of grilling it on his barbeque for me. I made the bbq sauce mentioned in the recipe. I believe I left out chilis in the bbq sauce as I’m not too fond of hot foods. The chipotle in adobo sauce, which you can find in cans in the ethnic food aisle, takes the BBQ sauce over the top! So good! I like making the BBQ sauce for other more simple recipes. (You can use it for the soy curl recipe below.)

You can find the recipe here. Wicked is a plant-based company with killer recipes. They especially appeal to men as they are hearty and flavorful. 

Here is a chili you can make with TVP.  It is much easier than the vegan brisket. I don’t need to say a lot about it. 

This next recipe, soy curl BBQ,  is a fave of mine. I cook it fairly often. (I linked buying options for soy curls earlier in the course.) You’ll love Jill McKeever. She’s one of a kind. Feel free to adjust this recipe to your liking. I often add fresh minced ginger in with the onions. I  serve it over a bed of rice with a side of roasted corn. (Cut the kernels from the cob and saute in a hot pan, no oil. Stir frequently. add a splash of water if need be. Pinch of salt and pepper. Yum!) 

Here is the BBQ  soy curl link.

I hope you are eating mostly plant-based now. If not, keep moving in that direction. 

Leave a comment if you try any of these recipes. I’d love to hear how you like them or what you did to change them.    

 

Day 23

Cookware and Gadgets.

 

Living a whole-food, plant-based lifestyle is easier than most people think. The initial resistance is usually based on fear of the unknown.

To help you feel more confident in the kitchen, and to make meal prep easier, here are some of my favorite gadgets and cookware. (These are not affiliate links. I do not make any money if you purchase anything.)

You don’t have to buy all of these things. I list them only as suggestions for making meal prep easier. 

Stainless steel pots and pans

cast iron skillet

High-quality non-stick pan

Chain mail scrubber for cast iron

Barkeepers Friend (Powder and liquid for cleaning stainless.)

Instant Pot

Air Fryer

Silicone baking mat

Bamboo steamer basket

Big wok

Garlic peeler tube

Garlic press or rocker

Onion Glasses

High-powered blender (Blendtec, etc.)

Rice steamer

Slow cooker (if you don’t have an Instant Pot)

Box grater

Zester

Chopper/mandoline

Mini food processor

airtight food storage containers

Lemon press

High-quality knife 

Whetstone

Honing steel

Small ramekins for meal prep

Two sets of dry measuring cups and measuring spoons

Jar opener

scissors

Immersion blender

strainers

Tofu press

Three-blade grater

 

What gadget or cookware do you swear by? Leave a comment. 

Are you (almost) eating 100% plant-based now? I hope so!

Today’s Recipe. Vegan Scrambled Eggs

Missing scrambled eggs? Now you don’t have to! Making vegan “scrambled eggs” is really easy, and guess what, they taste like eggs! The secret is to use Kala Namak (Black Salt). It has the sulfur smell and taste that makes eggs taste “eggy.” 🙂 You can purchase it from Amazon.

There are many ways to make vegan scrambled eggs. The base is tofu (some like silken, some like firm tofu. You can play around with different textures), but the sky is the limit on how you cook them. You can even make breakfast burritos with scrambled tofu. 

Feel free to do your own search for scrambled tofu. You’ll find dozens of ideas and recipes. 

Scrambled Tofu

Let me know what you think of this recipe in the comments. 

 

Day 24

Cookbooks!

 

I love cookbooks. I’ll list a few that I think are worthwhile to check out. (They are not listed in any particular order.) 

 

  • Oh She Glows Cookbook, Angela Liddon
  • Forks Over Knives, Del Sroufe
  • Minimalist’s Everyday Cooking, Dana Schulz
  • BOSH! Simple Recipes, Amazing Food, All Plants, Henry Firth, Ian Theasby
  • Unprocessed, Chef A J
  • The Wicked Healthy Cookbook: Free. From. Animals. Chad and Derek Sarno
  • The Starch Solution, Dr. McDougall
  • How Not To Die Cookbook, Dr. Michael Greger
  • Plants Only Kitchen, Gaz Oakley
  • Vegan 100, Gaz Oakley
  • Plant-Strong, Rip Esselstyn

It’s easy to find great plant-based cookbooks. Simply do a search with the keywords vegan and cookbook, and you’ll find many to choose from. I did a few searches and found wonderful links such as these:

Ten amazing Vegan cookbooks!

Top Ten Vegan Asian Cookbooks

What did your search turn up? Please leave a comment with your favorite plant-based cookbook. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. A Challenge!

Today’s recipe is a challenge. Either use a vegan cookbook or do a google search for a vegan recipe you’d like to try. Use descriptive search words to fine-tune your search. 

Some ideas: easy beginner vegan one-pot meals, hearty vegan stews, 15-minute vegan meals, easy vegan meal prep, vegan winter squash recipes, vegan corn chowder, vegan curry dishes. You get the idea! Have fun. 

Share with us what you decided to make. 

 

Day 25

The Four Cornerstones

 

The Four Cornerstones of Well-Being are: eat right, move enough, stress less, and love well. This course focuses on the first cornerstone, eating right, although it does help with stressing less as a whole food, a plant-based diet reduces stress and inflammation in the body. 

As the course draws to a close, I hope that you will begin thinking about how you can incorporate the other three cornerstones into your daily life. 

How will you get enough exercise every day?

 

How might you reduce stress? Remember there are external stress and internal stress.

 

How might you practice loving well? Here are some key components: compassion, kindness, forgiveness, patience, acceptance, service to others, curiosity, awe, wonder, receiving love, and gratitude. 

When we practice the Four Cornerstones of Well-Being, we rewire our brain and nervous system to be calmer, and less prone to anxiety.  They are an essential part of healing anxiety. 

Please feel free to share your thoughts on what you will do to embrace the Four Cornerstones of Well-Being.

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. 17 Best Vegan BBQ And Grilling Recipes

 

It may be sometime before it’s warm enough to “fire up the barbie,” but these mouthwatering recipes might tempt you to take your Weber out of hibernation. (Some of the recipes can be made in the warmth of your kitchen.) 

17 Vegan BBQ and Grilling Recipes

Let us know if you tried any of these recipes. I especially want to try to beet/quinoa burger!

 

Day 26

Anxiety Eating

 

We have all given in to our emotions and eaten out of fear, worry, or anxiety. It’s human nature to turn to food for comfort. After all, that’s how we soothed from the very beginning, at the bottle or breast. 

Where we get into trouble is when our anxiety eating takes us to dark places such as unhealthy food or an overload of unnecessary calories. 

What can we do about anxiety eating? First, we take an inventory of how well we live the Four Cornerstones of Well-Being. If we reduce stress and get enough exercise, we may be able to avoid anxiety eating.

However, if you find yourself eating your emotions, no matter how hard you’ve tried to better your mood, you may want to consider these tips for minimizing any negative impact.

  • Slice raw veggies and have them on hand to snack on. The crunch of a carrot stick or snap of a fresh apple slice can be satisfying. 
  • Air pop popcorn. You can make a healthy snack of air-popped popcorn. Don’t add any vegan butter. Eat plain or add your favorite herbs or spices.
  • Frozen grapes or blueberries make delicious treats! 
  • Frozen bananas are another delight. You can put it in a blender, add some vanilla extract and make “ice cream.” 
  • Make a pot of soup or strew to munch on throughout the day.
  • Eat a small handful of nuts or seeds. 
  • Cook potatoes and store them in your fridge. Potatoes make excellent comfort food. you can boil them or cook them in an instant pot (peeled, sliced) and put them through a potato ricer for yummy mashed potatoes that need nothing else! 

Things to avoid are sugar, salt, fats, white flour, alcohol, and caffeine. Foods high in these ingredients may taste good on your tongue, but they play havoc with your health and do little to relieve your anxiety. 

A good idea is to make a plan for when you are stressed and want to turn to food for comfort. Write down your game plan for coping with stress eating.

You may want to throw out any junk food you have tucked into your pantry so that you aren’t tempted to ever eat it. A rule of thumb I follow is to NOT buy and bring into my home foods that I know are not healthy. Therefore I am not tempted to eat a bag of potato chips because they aren’t available!

Also, think about how you can reduce the stress that causes you to turn to food for comfort. 

Food is fuel. Let’s remember that. Let’s turn to one another for comfort, instead of food. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

 

Day 27

Making Friends With Anxiety

 

Anxiety is a normal human emotion and response to a threat. Anxiety isn’t the enemy.

The more that we can make friends with anxiety and not fear it, the better off our nervous system will be. Sure, the thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations of anxiety aren’t comfortable, but they aren’t harmful, either. 

One of the ways in which we can befriend anxiety is to befriend our autonomic nervous system. I’ve added a video fo explain it best. 

The video is with Deb Dana, an expert on polyvagal theory. The video is over an hour, but well worth the time to watch. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Today’s Recipe. Easy Baked Indian Potatoes.

Here is a lovely blog entry about lowering stress and anxiety with food. 

Today’s recipe, Easy Baked Indian Potatoes comes from the blog post. You can omit the olive oil if you’d like to make this simple dish even healthier. 

Let us know if you tried this recipe. What did you like about it? What did you change? 

 

Day 28

A Love-Letter

 

Today’s lesson is a gentle suggestion to write a love letter to yourself. There is no “best way” to do this exercise. Perhaps you want to write to yourself a reminder to be kinder to yourself. Or write an apology for how hard you’ve been on yourself. Maybe your letter focuses more on self-forgiveness. Maybe your letter touches on all of these, and more. 

You were born worthy. You were born loveable. Whatever events in your life have taken place that makes you think otherwise is unfortunate. However, we know that ACES, adverse childhood events, shape our brains and nervous systems for negativity and ill-health. Even adverse events in our adult years wreak havoc on our brain and nervous system. 

It is our responsibility to heal and to move forward. One of the ways in which we start the journey of healing is to begin to learn how to love ourselves. 

Remember, we may not feel love, but we can always ACT lovingly. 

Every day we are at choice to be loving to ourselves or not. I hope that every day, you choose love. You deserve that. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

P.S. Please forgive the wrong date stated in the video! 🙂

Today’s Recipe. Your Choice!

The website, nosweatvegan.com, is packed with easy plant-based recipes. Choose one that looks yummy and easy to fix as a way to be kind and loving to yourself. 

https://nosweatvegan.com/easy-vegan-meals-made-from-pantry-ingredients/

Let us know which one you tried. Did you change anything? 

Day 29

What will be your greatest challenge?

 

I’m proud of how far you’ve come!

It’s easy to stick with something new when you are following a course or in a group with others. That’s why you will have access to this course for a year.  There is no need to rush. You can come back whenever you need to. 

I’m curious what you think might get in your way of sticking with a WFPB diet as you go forward. Today’s lesson is for you to brainstorm ways you can ensure that you will continue a WFPB lifestyle. 

Please feel free to leave ideas and suggestions for what you think will be most helpful. 

Till tomorrow,

Dr. Jenn

Where do you go from here?

You’ve learned so much about the healing power of plants!

You’ve dedicated yourself to eating as heartily as possible.

Where do you go from here? 

 

Some next steps to consider are:

  • deciding to embrace the Four Cornerstones of Well-Being  
  • Taking an honest inventory of your anxiety coping skills
  • Making an effort to move enough
  • Reducing internal and external stress
  • Putting into practice compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, service to others.
  • Creating more safety in your life.

Some questions to consider: 

  • Will you do best foraging ahead on your own?
  • Will you do best asking a friend or family member to be your accountability coach?
  • Will you do best hiring a coach?
  • Would joining a group be helpful? 

Whatever support you need to move forward in your journey to heal from anxiety, I hope you get it. Healing from anxiety is one of the most important things you will ever do. It will allow you to reach your highest and best potential. 

What are your next steps? 

 

Day 30

You did it!

 

I am so proud of you! You persevered through a month of learning about the healing power of a whole-food, plant-based diet.

What was the most surprising thing that you learned? 

What was the most helpful?

What will you take away from this course?

Here are some things to think about you go forward: 

How can you make a WFPB diet easy and simple for yourself?

What other questions might you ask and answer to ensure success? 

I’ve attached a certificate of completion that you can download to remind yourself of your success. 

Till we meet again,

Dr. Jenn