Annika Kuusk

KODULEHT ON KOLINUD – WWW.ANNIESORGANIC.EE

LIFE CHANGING EATING HABITS

About five years ago I had many health problems. For example, stomach ache and tiredness. I had a stomach ache almost every day and it really bothered my life. Fatigue even occurred even when I had slept enough. I also had some interesting cravings. No, don’t get me wrong! I have never practised any special diet, nor was it a bulimia or any other serious eating disorder. However, I felt that something was wrong because I didn’t feel well enough.

I gradually began to research food and nutrition topics because it seemed that I was doing something wrong. Some years ago I noticed that cow’s milk is not for me – I felt extremely bad after drinking cow’s milk. However, it seemed that I could consume other dairy products. Who doesn’t like these creamy salt or sugar-rich products, which can be found in a wide selection of every Estonian grocery store? Only some of our neighbours (for example, Latvians) have such a diverse range of dairy products in grocery stores.

I discovered the opportunity to take a delayed food allergy test. It seemed that it could be an answer to the question why I have a stomach ache and why I don’t feel vital enough. In this respect, it is necessary to distinguish three different reactions to food:

  1. FOOD ALLERGY an acute reaction of the body’s immune system to a particular food, natural substance or chemical that is involved in the production of so-called IgE antibodies and the release of histamine and other chemically-based chemicals in the body. The reaction is immediate or relatively rapid and is more severe than the average or even life-threatening. In most cases, the cause is found relatively easily. Up to 2.5% of the population have it. The most commonly caused allergies are peanuts and other nuts (eg. almonds and Brazil nuts), eggs, dairy products, fish and sesame seeds. (Humare, 2018).
  2. FOOD INTOLERENCE – the physiological intolerance of one specific food, which is usually quite easy to detect as unpleasant and severe symptoms begin immediately after eating of the food. The most common are celiac disease or gluten intolerance (wheat and other cereal products) and milk or lactose intolerance. Usually it is a lifetime problem that affects less than 2% of the population, lactose intolerance is 10-15% in white race, but over 90% in Asia and Africa. Lactose intolerance is generally common to all mammals. (Humare, 2018).
  3. HIDDEN OR DELAYED FOOD INTOLERANCE – certain types of response or hypersensitivity to one or more food products and / or chemicals, symptoms are delayed (1-2 hours to 24 hours), several different intolerances at the same time and are not usually very strong, making it difficult to diagnose. According to the British Allergy Association, food allergy is present in at least 45% of the adult population. (Humare, 2018).

I didn’t want to buy this test right away, but my caring husband gave me this for Christmas. Several companies offer this service, but I did a test through a company Humare. They offer the method called PrimeTest that is developed in the US. They take a blood test, after about an hour, the direct effect on the condition of the white blood cells is studied under a microscope. If the cells are healthy and active, the food is consistent with the immune system and is not harmful to the body. But if the white blood cells are damaged, broken or dead, this particular food is dangerous and should be avoided. (Humare, 2018). You can choose between different panels, but I had the widest panel test, which examined reactions to 220 different foods. So I gave a blood test and later I was called to talk about the results. It turned out that according to this test, many of the foods that have been consumed so far are not good for me at all. The worst reaction was caused by dairy and goat’s milk products, then wheat and meat products. By the way, these are typical results of Estonians.

After this test, I began to study nutrition topics more deeply and test how these changes are affecting me. One topic directed me to another, and I developed a completely different approach to healthy eating. My goal was to eat as purely, wisely and abundantly as possible. This improved my health a lot and changed my life completely: energy came back, I didn’t have weird cravings anymore and my stomach ache was gone!

 

As a result, I have developed some habits that ensure a good health. I will share these with you, my dear readers!

as few animal products as possible

In my case, the transition to the mostly plant-based food made a huge difference. Five years ago I stopped eating meat. I consume very rarely fish, eggs, dairy products – at home almost not at all. I am flexible when I am going out in order not to make life too complicated and not to draw any negative attention.

In most cases, the transition to a vegetarian diet gave a significant amount of energy, sleep improved, getting a cold (a runny nose, coughing) got very rare, stomach aches and even simple coughing were gone.

AVOIDING WHEAT

There has been a lot of talk about celiac disease in the media, but little attention has been paid to hidden/delayed allergies to wheat products. According to the test, the effect of wheat on my body was one of the worst. To me, one core argument was also the value of the wheat – it is pretty valueless.

One of the best-selling books in the United States, “Wheat Belly”, addresses the wheat topic in more detail. The author is the cardiologist who claims that today’s wheat is no longer the sam that our grandmothers ate in their youth. It is a 45 cm high dwarf wheat, created during genetic research in the 1960s-1970s. When the agricultural industry adopted a large-scale wheat prodution and began to develop a higher-yielding crop, the wheat hybrid was changed to such an extent that its genetic composition has largely changed. The nutrient content of this plant is more than 30% lower than its predecessor. Most of the wheat goes to processing, which removes 40% of the grain and produces whitened wheat flour. So, we have not only an unhealthy modified wheat hybrid, but we also reduce its nutritional value. Unfortunately, this 40% are the most nutritious parts. Most of the good vitamins – B1, B2, B3, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron and fiber are simply lost during this processing. All processed wheat foods behave in the body as poisonous because they have more harmful than useful properties. The body just does not feel the processed wheat as a food. (Davis, 2011).

It is worth remembering that wheat is not only in pizza, pasta, white bread. It is added, for example, to sauces and precooked foods. A good alternative to industrial wheat is spelt (dinked, hulled wheat), which is much more valuable in nutrients. Of course, it is not so popular because white wheat is much easier to use for bakeries and cafes: white wheat makes a dough very fluffy and tastes addictively good.

Of course, I can not avoid wheat 100%, but fortunately, I have no allergies or food intolerance, but hidden food intolerance. Thus, an Italian trip, Italian restaurants and birthdays with retro-cakes have not been cancelled, as it is a small part of my life. However, I use wheat flour in the cooking process very rarely. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to how to cook wheat-free. For example, raw cakes can be made wheat free and you can use for baking alternatives such as oat-, rice-, buckwheat-, almond flour, etc.

EATING SEPARATELY IN THE RIGHT ORDER

My feeling improved impressively when I started to eat in the right order and more separately. The reason is that different foods digest at different speeds and all food groups don’t go together because they require different digestive enzymes.

The author of the theory is an Estonian doctor – Dr Levin, who has also published a book. Of course, his theory is also criticized, but it is common in the scientific world. Why not test it if it has a good effect on you?

The point of eating separately is more natural digestion. For thousands of years, people  have eaten only 10-15 different foods – the system of human enzymes and the immune system have adapted to such food. When an Estonian peasant ate a turnip, later potatoes with fish or cabbage with meat, his system of enzymes adapted, as the body was able to put all of its adaptation energy to these foods.
In the last 50-70 years, the choice of food has increased and the body is not able to cope well in this new situation. In nature, no animal will eat all things together.
We often have three courses, all different foods. Usually, it is the soup, then the steak, then the dessert, and as we stand up from the table, we feel uncomfortable. This kind of feeling is actually a clinical symptom! The most important goal of eating separately is that our enzyme system works flawlessly. (Levin, 2015).

Basic examples of the foods that do not go together well:

  1. potatoes + meat (very common for Estonians)
  2. dairy products + grains
  3. meat products + grains
  4. potatoes + eggs

In summary, vegetables go well with almost all food groups. Fruits should always be eaten separately and before other meals! Except for melons and watermelons, which don’t go with anything, so they should be eaten separately from everything, even fruits.

This is the correct order in consideration of the digestion system and it has found scientific evidence:

  1. fruits, berries
  2. vegetables
  3. high-starch foods such as potatoes and grains (rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, pasta, couscous, bakery products, etc.)
  4. protein-rich foods (legumes, fish, meat, dairy products)
  5. nuts, seeds

You don’t have to go crazy with it, but already small changes could make a great difference. Especially in my case, eating fruits separately and before other meals work well. Also, the fresh salad as a starter feels great. At the same time, I know people who don’t feel any special difference and always eat everything in the wrong order. Undoubtedly, the digestion of each human is very different. However, more sensitive people could benefit from this principle. Why not try it?

much fruits, veggies and berries every day

I have a habit to spend the biggest part of the time in a grocery store in a fresh area. Usually, my husband is “specialized” in choosing fruits, I choose vegetables. Of course, the era of e-shop can save the time spent in a grocery store, but the habit of buying a lot of fresh stuff could be more common among Estonians. According to nutritionists, one of the main principles of healthy eating is to eat fresh stuff at each mealtime and for snacks.

 

legumes on top!

When reading the mainstream media, it often it surprises me how little they talk about legumes as a separate food group. There is no such category in the so-called “food pyramids”! In my opinion, the group of legumes needs special attention. Leguminous plants include peas, beans, lentils, its’ varieties are found in an extremely wide range; and products made from them (tempeh, tofu, miso, soybean meal, soybeans, pulled oats, etc.). Legumes are excellent sources of protein, iron, minerals (especially potassium and phosphorus compounds), vitamin B, vitamin C, carotenes, vitamin K and fibre.

DON’T FORGET NUTS AND SEEDS!

The mainstream media even talks about the importance of nuts and seeds, but how much do we actually eat nuts and seeds?

I try to eat nuts and seeds daily, although sometimes I forget! In ordinary grocery stores, they are sold in small packages and are pretty expensive, but poor quality. I recommend ordering from e-shops larger quantities for a long period of time. In the end, it will be cheaper and better. I recommend ordering from Biolife and Koosost. The first has the higher quality products (mostly ecological) and the delivery is faster, the second one is cheaper, but the delivery takes a long time and products are not ecological.

 

Some of my favourite seeds – pine nuts also contain a large amount of vitamin B and vitamin D, as well as antioxidants. These seeds contain more vitamin E than walnuts and almonds! In addition to the basic nutrients, these seeds are rich in potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Also, there is a lot of iron, manganese and copper!

enough water 

Water is definitely the basics of my healthy lifestyle. If thirst occurs, the body is already dehydrated too much! So you should drink water earlier and throughout the day.

Water is, in fact, the only drink that is suitable to drink with food. I think everybody has heard that drinking large quantities during the meal will make the digestive enzymes leaner. Rather, it is recommended to drink more water after eating.

When you drink fruit juices with your meals, it creates fermentation processes because require completely different enzymes for digestion. Beer (grain) and wine (fruit) can, according to the same logic, create a feeling of heaviness. As mentioned above, it is not wise to drink cow’s milk as it is rather a food than a drink. In my opinion (based on studies), cow’s milk is not a food for humans, but it is completely another topic.

Since you should drink much water throughout the day, it is good to have a drinking glass near you or to carry a BPA-free water bottle. BPA or bisphenol A may harm your health in various ways. BPA-free bottles may, however, include BPS. It has been found to have similarly negative effects. Therefore, the water bottle should be carefully selected.

Especially useful if the water is slightly basic, not acidic. It can be easily made by adding lemon or fresh cucumber. Yes, lemon is acidic, but in the human body, it is basic. A slightly basic body helps to prevent all kinds of diseases.

healthier ingredients

I also changed the quality of the ingredients I use. Here are some examples of changes that I call “basics” in my kitchen:

  • White sugar → brown sugar or coconut sugar or honey or agave syrup
  • White salt → Himalayan salt or sea salt 
  • Rapeseed oil → olive oil or coconut oil
  • White wheat flour → rice-, corn-, oat-, barley-, coconut-, buckwheat-, chickpea flour etc.
  • White rice → brown rice or other varieties (red, black rice)
  • Buckwheat → raw buckwheat
  • White pasta → whole grains or gluten-free alternatives
  • Candies and other sweets → dried fruits and berries. Candies and other sweets are so easy to get addicted to because they contain a lot of white sugar or glucose syrup, which has a similar effect as narcotics.
    As mentioned above, you can order from e-shops Biolife or Koosost. Our favourites are healthy “candies” such as sun-dried apricots, soft dates, Inka berries and mulberries.
  • Normal chocolate → al. 70% cocoa, with few or none sugar, pure chocolate or raw chocolate.
    I and my husband have been great chocoholics all our lives. A few years ago we started to eat pure chocolate and felt a great difference. We learned to appreciate the real taste of cocoa. We recommend making the transition smooth – start with 50% and then slowly increase the proportion of the cocoa until you reach 80-90%.

SUPERFOODS

Today, there is a wide range of supplements that enhance immunity – just add to your smoothies or juices. I love using maca, spirulina, chaga and other powders or extra beneficial seeds (cannabis, chia seeds etc.) to smoothies or raw cakes. Of course, you can use more simple superfoods – the cranberries from our nature are very competitive to exotic superfoods!


80/20 PRINciple

It’s important not to go crazy! I try to follow the 80/20 principle – the 20% less healthy food on the menu is OK – it provides flexibility and comfort in different situations. As mentioned above, I didn’t skip pizzas, gelatos or birthday cakes at all. I enjoy them in the same way, but try to stay healthy in everyday life.

Basically, healthy habits should remain at 80%. However, it can be difficult to change your habits after 20 to 50 years, and they may take a long time. Still, I encourage you to make changes gradually, calmly and rationally. It is so much easier if someone close is with you on that journey. I was lucky because I didn’t have to convince my husband,  he was interested to change as well and he motivated me in turn!

ENJOY your meals

This is the most important task! Every time you eat – try to take time to enjoy. I used to eat like a robot, without any thought – so I tended to eat too much and not healthy food. Now I try to eat calmly and with enjoyment – the valuable fuel must reach to each of your cells and give you energy!


Overall, my basic principles are following:

  • Never torture yourself!
  • Cook by yourself as much as you can!
  • After eating, you should feel energetic as food is the fuel for your body. If you feel sleepy, then you have eaten something wrong, your body consumes too much energy for digestion. The digestion has to be easy and give energy!
  • Your food should be versatile!

Listen to your body and give it the best. I wish you to make healthy choices!

 

A.K.

 

 

 

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