Paleo Alcohol: How to Consume Alcohol Safely!
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Is alcohol Paleo? Obviously not! My definition of Paleo is eating foods that are nutrient dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins (independent of macronutrients). The better question to ask is, is how we can experience a nice buzz while avoiding the dreaded hangover and blood-sugar swings.
My experience with alcohol is that it tends to be the gateway drug to junk food. Most of us have found ourselves, after a few drinks, prone to reaching for some extra sweets or even gluten-rich food, like pizza. Well, if you consume alcohol correctly, your cravings for sweets will be much more manageable.
With the holidays coming up, we will find ourselves at more parties and gatherings where alcohol is served. This goes without saying: you don’t have to consume alcohol to have fun, but many people will be put in social situations where a drink or two may be par for the course.
It also goes without saying, if you are an alcoholic, please abstain from alcohol completely.
So There’s the 80/20 Rule
If you are in relatively good health and on point in your diet and lifestyle 80% of the time, you have about 20% wiggle room to (responsibly!) cheat and indulge. I am a fan of this rule, but I still like to choose the best cheats possible. When it comes to cheating, there is a spectrum: indulge in cheats that may have a little added sugar (ideally not from high fructose corn syrup), healthy proteins, or healthy fats and cheats that contain nutrients (not empty calories) and are non-GMO. This will avoid throwing your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.
Healthier Treats vs. Unhealthier Treats
- Unsweetened (stevia) organic coconut ice cream is better than Ben & Jerry’s ice cream that’s loaded with casein and sugar.
- A 90% organic dark-chocolate bar is far better than a Snickers bar.
- A sweet potato with butter and cinnamon is better than a pizza.
As you can see, it’s possible to indulge and not have to take on the deleterious side effects.
If you have an autoimmune condition or have issues with blood-sugar balance, adrenal fatigue, your gut, or thyroid imbalances, you may want to think about what percentage you cheat, and to what degree you cheat. With most of the previous conditions mentioned, blood-sugar stabilization tends to be an issue. One of the biggest stressors on the hormonal system is blood-sugar stability, so if your blood-sugar stability system is already stressed, adding refined sugar in the form of alcohol may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and prevents you from healing.
I have an autoimmune condition, so I very rarely let gluten touch my lips, but I will sometimes let myself indulge with a gluten-free pizza. Most of my cheats typically include the following:
- Sweet potato with grass-fed butter and cinnamon
- A green apple with almond butter
- High-quality dark chocolate, 80% or greater
- Hail Merry tart
Is the 80/20 Rule Right for You?
80/20 Rule: You feel good most of time, but you take relatively good care of yourself.
90/10 Rule: You are tired more often, experiences PMS, digestive issues, low libido, brain fog, hypothyroidism, and memory issues.
100% Rule: You currently have an autoimmune condition, poor energy, poor mood, frequent diarrhea, digestive disturbances, or are overweight.
Need more help properly detoxing alcohol? Click here.
Most Alcohol Contains a Few Compounds I Consider Toxic:
- Mycotoxins (fungus)
- Excessive sugar, especially when consuming multiple drinks
- Empty calories, containing 0 nutrients
- May contain gluten, especially if you consume beer
How to Mitigate the Damage of Alcohol and Utilize Paleo Alcohol Versions?
- Stabilize your blood sugar before you drink: I always consume protein and fat before I consume alcohol. Protein is primarily digested in the stomach, the same place alcohol is absorbed. Taking in some protein can slow down the absorption of alcohol (in a time-released fashion) into the bloodstream. This provides a magic carpet alcohol ride instead of the roller coaster version where alcohol sneaks up on you fast.
- Choose healthy versions of alcohol, and add extra components to the drink that aid in detoxification, prevent dehydration, and mitigate toxins in the body. I typically choose a clean vodka (potato based) or tequila.
- Consume Kombucha tea, which is high in various B vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotics. Coconut water is also high in various electrolytes, such as potassium. Combining these two together helps prevent dehydration and actually provides some nutritional value to the alcoholic beverage.
- Use the juice of half a lime. Lime juice is highly alkalizing and also helps with insulin sensitivity. Remember, alcohol is sugar, so it’s important we do everything possible to decrease our insulin spikes. Insulin spikes will lead to hypoglycemia, and hypoglycemia will add more stress to the adrenal glands and also cause additional sweet cravings.
- Adding in sparkling mineral water provides extra minerals and also adds carbonation to the alcohol, which helps with alcohol absorption. The better you absorb alcohol, the fewer alcoholic drinks you need to consume. This is a win-win deal!
My Favorite Paleo Alcohol Drinks:
Nor-Cal Margarita (Thanks Robb Wolf)
What you need:
- 1–2 shots of tequila
- 1/2 a lime squeezed
- Carbonated water (I use sparkling mineral water)
- Liquid stevia if you need extra sweetness
- On the rocks
Dr J’s Moscow Mule
What you need:
- Ginger kombucha 5–8 ounces
- 1/2 a lime squeezed
- 1–2 ounces of coconut water
- Liquid stevia if you need extra sweetness
- On the rocks
The Take-Home Message!
Following a Paleo diet is not about being perfect. Yet many people that go Paleo notice remarkable improvements in how they look, feel, and perform. When some people cheat or move away from that style of eating, the side effects are bearable, and many are able to return back to their Paleo diet with no issues. Some people are more sensitive, and cheating with inflammatory foods and beverages may set them back for days—it’s essentially their kryptonite!
There’s always a risk-reward analysis that has to be done, and it’s always good to do a mental check to see if the few hours of fun and indulgence are worth the few days of pain. Again, it’s different for everyone, and it depends on where you are on your health journey. My suggestion is to figure out where you lie in that spectrum, and if you are more sensitive, try some of the suggestions that I made above.
If you don’t listen to your body’s whispers, you will have to endure its cries!
Click here to learn more about alcohol and your health
Top 8 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Inflammation is considered the root cause of virtually all modern diseases. As people discover the scary side effects of pharmaceutical anti-inflammatory drugs, they are beginning to seek out natural solutions. Today we are going to learn more about inflammation and the top foods to reduce inflammation!
Common Symptoms of Inflammation
If you have ever injured yourself and the area became warm and swollen, you’ve experienced ‘healthy’ inflammation. This is the normal process of your immune system healing your body. However, when the immune system goes into overdrive and starts attacking healthy cells and tissues, we are met with a case of unhealthy inflammation.
Common signs of inflammation include:
- Bloating and digestive distress
- Skin issues: acne, rashes, dry patches, etc.
- Joint pain
If inflammation is ignored, it becomes a chronic issue that can lead to debilitating conditions and diseases. Chronic inflammation leads to autoimmune disease, premature aging, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, and even cancer!
Click here to schedule a consult to determine if autoimmune diseases are causing your health to suffer!
Top 8 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
By incorporating the following foods into your diet, you can eat your way back to full health!
The omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil and fish such as wild-caught salmon have been shown to be some of the most effective anti-inflammatory agents available. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends fish oil supplements to prevent the vascular inflammation that causes heart disease! Adding wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, and anchovies to your diet is a great way to get the omega-3s DHA and EPA that reduce inflammation.
Turmeric’s active component curcumin has been used for centuries as an anti-inflammatory agent in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Because of its ability to inhibit inflammation, curcumin has been studied as a treatment for colitis, chronic neurodegenerative diseases, arthritis, and cancer. Turmeric can be used as a spice in your food, enjoyed as a tea, or you can even take pure curcumin as a supplement!
You may have heard of resveratrol as an antioxidant in red wine. However, there are several more delicious places you can find this phytonutrient, such as in dark chocolate. Resveratrol has been shown to protect DNA, protect cells from free radicals, and fight inflammation. Resveratrol has also been studied for its ability to treat arthritis and joint pain! If you’re craving something sweet, dark chocolate (80% cacao or higher) is a delicious option that has the power to heal your body.
Green tea’s antioxidant properties have made it a popular method of cardiovascular and cancer prevention. It’s anti-inflammatory properties have only recently been discovered, but it is theorized that the increased green tea consumption in Asia may play a significant role in the reduced instances of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and lower rates of neurocognitive decline.
Chili peppers have been used for centuries by native peoples for their medicinal properties. The anti-inflammatory capsaicin in chili peppers has a bonus ability: it works as a painkiller, too!
Coconut oil has become a star because of its amazing health benefits and other uses. Coconut oil is full of healthy fats which help burn body fat and improve brain function. It is also anti-inflammatory, making it a staple in my kitchen as well as my cooking oil of choice!
Ginger provides a major boost to your immune system, and has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for its healing properties. It’s ability to modulate the immune system makes ginger a powerful weapon against inflammation.
Green Vegetables (Bok Choy, Broccoli, Swiss Chard)
Green vegetables are high in antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce inflammation. Not to mention the insane amount of vitamins and minerals they provide to heal and nourish your body! Green vegetables protect against oxidative stress and prevent and reduce inflammation in the body.
What to Avoid
We have become aware of the dangerous side effects of pharmaceutical drugs such as steroids and NSAID medications, for example, stomach bleeding, heart attack, and stroke. Because of the life-threatening side effects of these drugs, it’s important to seek out alternative methods of treatment, such as the foods and herbs listen in this article.
However, your diet is also important to consider: diet is a huge factor determining not only your level of inflammation, but your overall health as well! Processed foods, sugar, alcohol, and any food intolerances must be limited/avoided in order to keep inflammation low.
If you are dealing with chronic inflammation or other health issues, click here to work with a functional medicine doctor and get the help you need to get back to optimal health!
Intermittent Fasting Pros and Cons
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
What’s the deal with intermittent fasting? Intermittent fasting is a very cool modality that involves avoiding calorie intake for about an 18 to 20 hour period. The best times to do intermittent fasting would be after you finish your dinner the day before, let’s say around 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. When you wake up the next day, you would skip breakfast, and you would continue going without food until somewhere between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. This would give you a solid 18 to 20 hours of fasting.
Intermittent fasting has many great benefits. One of these benefits is cellular autophagy. Cellular autophagy is a process by which your body recycles protein. Some of the benefits of intermittent fasting include longevity, increased insulin sensitivity, neuroprotection, improved mental clarity, and an increase in anabolic hormones (hormones that help rebuild your body).
The nice thing is that when you’re fasting, your body is increasing its production of ketones. Ketones are the breakdown products of fat, which your body uses for energy. They can also help suppress your appetite during fasting. Many people think they may be starving during an intermittent fast, but with the ketone production, your body’s hunger pangs are kept in check.
The Problems with Intermittent Fasting
Many people shouldn’t be intermittent fasting, especially if they have problems with blood-sugar stabilization. I see many individuals, especially female patients, who are hypoglycemic. Certain people may have a very difficult time stabilizing blood sugar, to the point where their blood sugar actually drops very low, to the point where they feel jittery, shaky, and anxious.
Your adrenal glands have to stabilize your blood sugar during periods of fasting. If your adrenal glands are not working properly, you end up throwing your body into a more stressful situation where your adrenals have to produce extra secretions of adrenaline to keep your blood sugar in a normal range.
Click here to know if you can benefit from intermittent fasting.
Gluconeogenesis and Blood Sugar
There is a process called gluconeogenesis, which is where your body converts amino acids from protein to glucose. The hormone that facilitates this process is cortisol. If your cortisol function is imbalanced due to adrenal fatigue, your ability to use gluconeogenesis as a means of blood-sugar stabilization is decreased. The only way you can bring the physiology back into balance is by going on an adrenal-healing diet and addressing lifestyle stressors, like sleep and emotions, as well as any hidden infections. Going on an adrenal program that uses specific supplements that support the adrenals helps decrease the recovery time significantly. I find healing someone’s adrenal fatigue is 50% managing physical, chemical, and emotional stress and 50% following a customized adrenal-support program (1).
As long as you have enough protein in your diet, (my minimum recommendation is 0.5 grams per pound of lean body weight), you will be able to keep your muscle mass when you go into a gluconeogenic state.
My recommendations for intermittent fasting have always been that you need healthy adrenal and thyroid function to truly benefit, without causing extra collateral damage. Research has shown that low-calorie diets decrease thyroid-hormone production. So if you already have low thyroid-hormone production, throwing your body into a fasting state will decrease your thyroid-hormone production even more.
Thyroid Lab Testing and Intermittent Fasting
Before you take advantage of intermittent fasting, get your adrenal glands assessed via a salivary cortisol rhythm and also run a complete thyroid-hormone panel, including TSH, free T3, total T3, total T4, free T4, T3 uptake, and thyroid antibodies. One of the biggest stressors put on your endocrine system is to stabilize your blood sugar, so before you add more stress to your body, make sure you can handle it first.
Intermittent fasting 1 to 2 days a week can be a great start! I recommend choosing days that aren’t very stressful. Your adrenals are always doing their best to handle everyday stress; the more stress they are under, the less ability they have to multitask in regards to managing inflammation, producing sex hormone, and stabilizing blood sugar. Choose a nice Saturday or Sunday that is low-key where you can kick back and relax, go for a walk, watch a movie, or do any other non stressful social activities.
Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting
I am a big fan of Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting. Using a high-quality coffee source, such as Bulletproof coffee (that doesn’t contain mycotoxins), with grass-fed butter and MCT oil can be a great way to give your body an extra supply of healthy fats, which will allow your body to produce more ketones for fuel (these fats are also anti-inflammatory). Using bulletproof intermittent fasting will allow your body to operate with a higher level of energy, providing your body with more ketones to burn, while at the same time stimulating cellular autophagy and its other healthy antiaging benefits.
Click here to know more about Bulletproof Intermittent Fasting
To learn how to make Bulleproof Coffee, feel free to watch the video below!
1. Cortisol increases gluconeogenesis in humans: its role in the metabolic syndrome.
Allergies and Your Immune System
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Spring is here and so are allergies! This is the time of year were allergies are in great abundance. Flowers are in bloom so our grasses and many other types of pollen that our immune system has not been exposed to the last six months or so. When our body is being exposed to these environmental compounds, it is responding to them as if they are a foreign invader, like a bacteria or a virus. We know this is an inappropriate immune response; these environmental compounds are not out to hurt us. Our immune system is being overly sensitive; we need our immune systems to calm down so it can be more intelligent and pick out the real immune threats from the benign ones.
There are certain things we can do to help make our immune system more intelligent. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is very helpful, this helps take stress off the immune system, it helps lower cortisol, it helps our immune system stay strong and smart so it can pick out the bad invaders from the not so bad. When we are overtired it’s common for us to overreact during certain situations. This analogy holds true for our immune system, the more inflamed we are, the increased chance our immune system will overreact.
Medication and allergies
The majority of medications that help with allergies such as Zyrtec, Allegra, Singulair and Benadryl usually work one of two ways; they suppress the immune response and or weaken the immune system or decrease the histamine response. If you are the kind of person that is interested in having optimal health the two pharmaceutical alternatives mentioned above don’t sound too great. It’s much better to make the immune system smarter and more intelligent and not just weaker and docile. Anytime you weaken the immune system you make yourself more susceptible to other chronic degenerative diseases.
Click here to find out how you can improve your immune system.
Some of the above drugs have side effects involving weight gain. Many patients I know are trying to lose weight, and are more than likely not aware that some of the medications they are using maybe potentially antagonizing their weight loss and body composition goals.
Some of my favorite natural compounds to help address allergies and inflammation
Quercetin: Is a bioflavonoid and it’s very helpful in helping in balance out the immune system, quercetin helps decrease inflammation as well as decrease your body’s histamine response. Histamine is what makes your body stuffy, congested, and makes your nose runny. This provides a natural solution for people that may have use Benadryl or other types of algae-based medications. Quercetin also has no side effects and is a powerful antioxidant as well.
NAC (n-acetyl cysteine): NAC is a sulfur-based amino acid that is a precursor for glutathione. Glutathione is our body’s master antioxidant and is primarily used to help quelch the fire of inflammation and free radical stress. The more stressed we are the more our antioxidant and glutathione systems are taxed and the increased chance our glutathione reserves will be depleted.
Many people out there aren’t eating enough high-quality protein sources and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower. If we don’t have the raw material amino acids to help make glutathione we have an increased risk of being overly inflamed and being susceptible to allergy symptoms as well.
Fish oil is an essential fatty acid in the omega 3 family which increases the prostaglandin 3 pathway (it’s highlighted in the picture below). This pathway is anti-inflammatory and helps put out the fire in our body. Avoiding refined omega 6 fats like vegetable oils like canola, soy, and cotton seed oil to name only a few can help decrease our prostaglandin 2 pathways which make us more inflamed. As inflammation increases so does our chance of allergies. Eating foods that help put out the fire and avoiding foods that help increase the fire is an easy way to help improve your allergies.
Consuming 4-8 grams of high quality fish oil that is in a triglyceride form tends to be the best. Make sure you are consuming a high quality brand. If your are burping up the fish oil, the brand may not be of good quality or your body isn’t producing enough enzymes to break down the fat. A fish oil with lipase included can help decrease this problem. To get to the root cause of your allergies, click here!
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
This lasagna is paleo approved, anti-inflammatory, is unbelievable tasty and you won’t even know there aren’t any noodles in it. If you are trying to get away from pasta and grains, this a great meal to help transition you over. Invite friends over and wow them with this flavorful dish. It goes with out saying that all ingredients should be organic and as fresh as possible. Enjoy!
- Saute 1 hole diced onion and 2 cloves of minced garlic in 1 tbs of olive oil or butter.
- Once sauteed, add 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound Italian sausage, brown it in the frying pan too.
- Once the meat is browned add 1 small can of tomato paste, (1) 14.5 ounce can of diced tomato, 1 cup of fresh chopped basil, 1 tbsp of dried oregano leave, 1 dash of cyan pepper and sea salt.
- Use a mandolin slicer to slice 4-5 or zucchini the long way.
- Layer the meat and zucchini in a glass Pyrex (see picture above), 2 or 3 layers of zucchini is good depending on size of the pan.
- Cook at 350 degrees for 3o minutes.