Skin, digestion, and liver update

Confused button | Living Consciously Blog

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that it’s been about a year since I’ve actively been trying to solve my stomach and clear my acne naturally. I’ve had them all my life, to some extent, but I had a blessed reprieve while pregnant back-to-back with my children from 2009-2011. Both issues resurfaced 2 years ago. Last January, I did the 30 day macrobiotic cleanse complete with probiotic superfood supplements. That did not work, unfortunately. Then I went to a naturopath who discovered that the issue was most likely my liver (and that my gut has become very averse to probiotics, which is why I reacted poorly to the probiotic-based cleanse). I then did a Paleo-ish cleanse for two weeks, followed by a liver detox. I felt good for about a week after that.

After about a month, the acne came back FULL FORCE.

In fact, my face is pretty flared up right now. I have had to switch back to the less-eco-friendly makeup options to cover up the severity of the breakouts. Honestly, I am kind of at the end of my rope here. I do NOT trust conventional Western medicine after that supposedly holistic doctor tried to give me an extremely harsh blood pressure medicine while telling me it was perfectly safe to use for acne. But I feel like I’ve also kind of exhausted the holistic options. Chiropractic, reflexology, essential oils, naturopathic treatment…?

I had to quit the probiotic supplementation because it was making me sick again, just like before. I took probiotic supplements for 2 months, which should have been more than enough time for the “detox effect” to subside. I actually got sicker and sicker the longer I took them.

On the bright side, my digestion hasn’t been too bad overall. Eating fast food twice on our trip home from Thanksgiving made me sick for about 2 days, but I think that’s probably to be expected. Since my two cleanses this year, I have been eating even more cleanly than ever, and any kind of change back to the Standard American Diet throws my body for a loop. But the acne is seriously OUT OF CONTROL. The Board & Batten Begin Again that I recommended in my Holiday Gift Guide has actually been very helpful in restoring some balance because it helps the damage heal faster and when I use it as a mask it restores moisture.

If you have any random suggestions, please throw them at me! And yes, I do oil pulling every day. I am taking Maca (which seems to help my skin, weirdly enough?) and I am taking a supplement recommended by my naturopath for my liver.

Liver detox by going semi-Paleo

Going semi-Paleo

I am excited to say that we are getting somewhere with the naturopath treatments for my stomach and skin. As I mentioned before, the issue seems to primarily be my liver, which has been treated holistically for a little over a month now. There have been flare-ups where I had very little energy and severe breakouts, but I’ve been feeling very normal for the past few weeks and had my third appointment yesterday. My liver readings are much better! In order to flush out possible gallbladder blockages remaining, I am going to do a 2 week liver detox cleanse.

All kinds of fun bodily things will happen at the end of the cleanse — it’s not called a “cleanse” for nothing! But we will ignore that and focus on the middle. I have been told to go off of dairy, all grains, and all sugar again, very similar to when I did my 30 day macrobiotic cleanse. The good thing about this one is that I can have fruit. I love fruit!

The biggest deal to me with this 2 week cleanse is that I am seriously considering the possibility that I might go back to eating meat for that time period.

It’s a big deal because I have been vegetarian since 2003. However, in the last year since learning of my son’s difficulties absorbing nutrients I have had to learn to cook more meat because he can get a lot of proteins through organic meats that he wasn’t able to absorb properly through soy, nuts, or beans. I’ve already written about what an adjustment it’s been to learn to cook meat, but I’m feeling slightly more comfortable with it now.

The fact is, I was “hangry” a good deal of the time when I was on my macrobiotic diet. With this liver cleanse, I will be drinking hemp protein several times a day, so that should help. Still, I think that without grains and dairy I am going to get the queasy feeling I had throughout those entire 30 days because my stomach never felt truly full. I am thinking maybe adding white meat to my diet will help with that.

I do still have moral qualms about meat, since we don’t have easy access to truly ethically treated chicken and pork. We have Whole Foods, but…I think we all know that’s probably the bare minimum of animal treatment accountability aside from the conventional grocery store. I probably just need to suck it up and drive the hour or so and pay half our paycheck for some happy chickens and pigs. I am sure I’ll blog more about that later.

As for now, I think I’ll be starting the cleanse on September 28, which should give me time to do some Paleo-ish meal planning.

Send me your favorite Paleo recipes, cookbooks, and products!

Naturopathic treatment: 1st visit

I’ve blogged before about What a Naturopath Does and my experiences with my son’s treatment for food intolerances. He has seen such great results, I have been very impressed. I’ve also mentioned in past posts that I have ongoing unresolved stomach issues and have been struggling for the last few years with cystic acne that I haven’t been able to solve with natural acne solutions. I even went on a 30 day macrobiotic cleanse, complete with specialized probiotics and saw absolutely no results. Well, I finally saved up enough of my kids yoga money for my first naturopathic treatment! I am so excited!

The first visit is a broad overview, but the main thing that popped up was liver stress.  No idea why, but my liver seems to be having trouble moving things through and toxins are building up. To aid in liver detoxification, one of the things we’re doing to increase my hydration is a salt solé. Check out this video that my naturopath made to explain how to make one:

Another thing we are doing is a castor oil liver compress at night. I might try to blog about this more later.

There were a few very strange things that we found. One was that my body had a very strong NEGATIVE reaction to pretty much all the major strains of probiotics. We are having to drastically decrease my exposure to probiotics in order to halt the stress on my body. There was only one strain that my body did not react to, and I am restricted to one dose every other day. Which is totally the opposite of what most green, crunchy, and holistic folks will tell you to do. I’ve always been told the more probiotics, the better! That probiotics will solve ALL stomach issues! Well, apparently not all. Not mine! (read more about whether you should take probiotic supplements here). Interestingly, this explains why I had such a problem with kombucha after drinking it every day for a period of time. I might not have actually got a bad batch. It might just have been that I overwhelmed my body with too many probiotics when it was already having trouble.

Although she found that food do not seem to be the main stressor, there were a few that registered very high reactions and that I should attempt to avoid. Avoiding these foods is going to be the hardest part of the next few weeks:

Coffee - one of the things my naturopathic treatment found as a stressor to my stomach
Goodbye for now, caffeine!
I love you and will see you again SOON!

caffeine – WHAT?!! I only have one cup of coffee a day. Just one, never more. I do not drink carbonated beverages. But let me tell you, that one cup of coffee is a BIG DEAL. I skipped it this morning and had a headache all day. This is exactly what happened when I quit cold turkey after become pregnant with LS. Which is why I did not go off of coffee when I was pregnant with LS. My fervent prayer is that this one will not be permanent!!

beef – haha, no big deal, I haven’t eaten red meat since 2003 and it is pretty gross to me.

wheat – OK, this is another weird one. My results came out exactly the same as my son’s – neither of us have any negative reaction to gluten, which is what most people react to. Just the actual wheat kernel itself, we can’t break it down. I wasn’t tested for the individual types of wheat but I bet it’s the same as with him — he was fine with white wheat flour but whole wheat was a stressor. Even stranger, I had been taking a digestive enzyme containing a specific enzyme that helps the body digest wheat and my body reacted specifically to the enzyme that was supposed to help digest wheat. What does that even mean?!

spices – strange, since I don’t really use spices. But I was told to specifically avoid black pepper. I accidentally ate Kettle chips today and then realized they are full of pepper. Delicious, delicious pepper.

soy – this one is a blow since I do occasionally eat meat substitutes as a vegetarian, and they contain soy. I make sure it is non-GMO soy. It is particularly difficult to avoid soy in grilling season when I have to bring non-meat substitutes to cookout situations.
The good news is, I had absolutely no issues with dairy. All the butter! All the cheese!!

As I’ve discussed before in our naturopath treatment journey, this first visit usually has the most restrictions. In future visits, some of these foods might be clear and if the liver has improved we can focus on hormones.

Meanwhile, send me all your soy-free spice-free vegetarian wheat-free recipes!

 

Get started with clean eating: Superwoman Detox Giveaway!

I get a lot of questions about how to get started eating more “cleanly”. Personally, I abide by the 80/20 rule of eating clean 80% of the time and eating not as cleanly 20% of the time or less. I don’t go overboard or eat junk during that 20%, but sometimes when I got to restaurants, for example, I don’t know exactly what oils they used to cook their food and I can’t guarantee that the produce is organic or non-GMO. I let those instances fall under the 20% of less-than-clean-eating.

However, if you are new to clean eating, you might only be eating cleanly 20% of the time and are looking for a way to get that percentage higher without your head exploding from too much information and without agonizing over what to buy at the grocery store. I have a solution for you! And you’ll be helping a friend of mine expand her health-focused and woman-owned small business at the same time.

I’m so excited to be teaming up with Kristen over at MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life and some of my favorite bloggers to give YOU the chance to reclaim your inner Superwoman (or man) and WIN a coveted spot in The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value!) – (affiliate link)! Read all about it here.

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This is NOT your average detox. The Superwoman Slim Down is a fully-supported “done-for you” 21 day 100% REAL FOOD, hunger-free program led by experienced registered nurse, certified health and wellness coach, and certified specialist in fitness nutrition, Kristen Boucher! She will teach you step-by-step how to feel better than you ever imagined in your own skin, while eating delicious, nutrient-dense, metabolism-boosting foods and (finally) making your health a priority!

Superwoman Whats Included

Included in the program:

  • Three recorded training calls with Kristen to listen to at your convenience delivered over three weeks so that you are updated each week with what to do next  ($300 value)

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  • Preparation Checklist with a list of suggested items to have in your fridge, pantry, and home to follow the plan ($100 value)

  • Recipes For Radiance Cookbook which includes over 75 delicious, whole food recipes outlined in the Menu Plan ($50 value)

  • Detailed Detox Guidebook with all the info and resources you’ll need and then some ($100 value)

  • Workbook and personal assessment guide that will serve to show you how far you’ve come once you complete the program and help you to play detective to learn if you have any food allergies or sensitivities ($50 value)

  • Cooking and Food Preparation Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Toxin Reduction Tips and Tools Guide ($10 value)

  • Meal Planning and Shopping List Fun Sheets ($10 value)

  • A 4-Week Detox Calendar laying out every step of the program, what to, and when to do it ($10 value)

  • Email support during the cleanse ($100 value)

  • Lifetime access to all materials, including updates for future programs ($100 value)

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Check out what these former Superwomen have to say about it here.

You can purchase this program at any time using this link (affiliate link, which I’ll be placing in the right sidebar), or you can enter to win it for FREE below!

Giveaway Details

One winner will receive FREE ACCESS to The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women (a $347 value) (affiliate link).

How to enter the giveaway:

1. Sign up for the MIX | wellness solutions for a balanced life email newsletter.
2. Like MIX | wellness solutions for balanced life on Facebook.
3. Use Rafflecopter (below) to log your entries and unlock bonus entries.

***Be sure to visit all the blogs responsible for this giveaway to unlock more chances to win!***

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The giveaway ends at midnight ET, June 30, 2014. I will announce the lucky winner on July 1, 2014. Once contacted, the lucky winner will have 48 hours to respond with his/her full name and email address. There is no purchase necessary to win. This giveaway is open to everyone except where prohibited by law.

Juicing with a Vitamix & a nut milk bag

NOTE: I received the La Parfait “Super” 2 Liter glass jar from the Glass is Life campaign. Opinions about glass jars and juicing and whatnot are my own. Obviously.

Juicing with a Vitamix | Conscientious Confusion

Do you ever buy pure fruit or vegetable juices? Juicing is great for me, personally, because it helps me get more vegetable vitamins than I get from diet alone, while reducing the bulky fiber that can be difficult for my body to process with my history of digestive issues. I don’t own a juicer, but I DO own a Vitamix. One of the reasons that I purchased the Vitamix is because it is powerful enough to liquify things completely. Juicing with a Vitamix is easy; you just need the nut milk bag to remove the pulp.

Of course, you can leave the pulp in and have great whole food juices (called “blending”, not actually “juicing”), but your body will need to process the fiber, as it would with a smoothie. My friend ecokaren just posted a great breakout of the differences between juices versus blending, I highly recommend reading it to find out which direction you’d like to go. I actually do both juices and blending at different times. Also, more information on the right way to juice.

But if you want to know how to juice with a Vitamix, here is how I do it.

First, you need cheesecloth or a nut milk bag (affiliate link). I used cheesecloth at first, but now I have graduated to the nut milk bag, because it has a string around the top that cinches it onto my jar, allowing the juice to drip through slowly over a period of time, rather than having to manually press the juice out in batches as I did with the cheesecloth.

You also need a good, tall jar. I like the La Parfait “Super” 2 Liter Jar (affiliate link), which I got from Glass Is Life. I like that it has a sealing lid that I can clamp down over the top of the nut milk bag, like this:

Dripping Juice Jar

It’s pretty easy — you can use any juicing recipe on Pinterest (follow my Vitamix board for ones I’ve tried or would like to try).

Step 1

Put the ingredients into your Vitamix. If it’s a recipe made for a juicer, you might need to add a cup of water or ice depending on how many juicy fruits or veggies are in your juice, so that they can circulate freely in the Vitamix.

Step 2

Blend until the liquid splashes around in the Vitamix.

Step 3

Secure the nut milk bag over your tall jar. If you forget to make it secure, it will fall right through and the pulp will get everywhere! I speak from experience.

Step 4

Pour the blended mixture into the nut milk bag, a little at a time. I like to use a spatula to scrap the sides of the nut milk bag.

Spatula with the Nut Milk Bag

Sometimes I help it out a little by squeezing…

Squeezing Juice

Step 5

Remove the pulp! It will look like this:

Juice Pulp

I actually feed our to our chickens, but you can compost it or even try this Minestrone Soup Recipe by Mindful Momma.

Last, enjoy your juice!

It might seem like a few extra steps, but I’ve found it only takes about 15 minutes. To me, it’s worth saving the money and the space in my kitchen that a juicer would take up.