It’s Not Your Fault, Matt Damon: Fed Up, a Documentary about Sugar

fed up statistic

I just watched Fed Up, an important, helpful, honest documentary about US obesity, especially in kids. If you have Netflix, you can stream it right now. This very moment. If you aren’t in such a hurry, no worries. I’m totally psyched about it.

The best thing about this movie is that it points out how our weight gain is not our fault. And it explains why.

I remember in the mid 2000’s doing what I thought was right: researching, paying attention and acting on what I learned in regards to food. I wasn’t fad dieting; I was making lifestyle changes. When I learned, later in the decade, that I had been misguided and had wasted years and money on unhealthy foods, I was very angry. Angry at companies for lying to me, at the government for guiding me with unhealthy guidelines that they said were healthy, and angry at myself for not being smart enough to notice.

fed up logo

The ways in which I was misguided were many, but this film focuses on one of them: sugar. I knew I had a “sweet tooth” but I never saw it as a wild, ravenous, over consumption of sugar until I saw an episode of Ellen. Dr. Wayne Dyer was the guest and they talked about how much sugar humans ate years ago versus now. Here Dr. Dyer talks about it in another interview:


“…In the 19th century… the average amount of sugar consumed by Americans was around 13 grams a day and today its 285 grams. That’s like a 500% increase in the amount of sugar consumed! …If you just get your sugar consumption down to under 15 grams a day… Well, a banana has 11 grams of sugar! An eight ounce glass of orange juice has 35 grams of sugar in it. So it’s a pretty radical shift. Sugar is in everything! If you start looking at what’s on the packaging you’ll see huge amounts of it; in some cases its 100 grams in one serving…

If you get it down below 15 grams a day, or even just below 40 grams a day, you’ll take off between 15–17 pounds, which is about what I wanted to take off. I am not overweight. But I am thicker and I just decided to look at the excuses I have used to stay this way and put this paradigm to work. Sure enough, in less than 30 days I have taken off 17 pounds all the way around the middle. So, you can really make these kinds of shifts.”

At the time I learned this, I was going to a nutritionist who told me I could have raw, organic honey as one of my sugar sources. “Oh, wonderful!” I said. “I already eat that!” The nurse asked, “What do you eat it with?” I said, “…a spoon.” I told her that I had seen this man speak on Ellen and I was aiming to have 20 grams of sugar a day. But I would be fine with myself if I went way over, because even 45 grams was way less than the 285 grams Dr. Dyer was talking about. The nurse gave me a new goal. Instead of telling myself I can have 20 grams of sugar a day, and then standing over the honey jar with a spoon and crazy eyes, just tell myself “I can have less sugar. Just less.” It’s years later and I don’t even buy honey anymore.


Now that I look back, I think it may have been so difficult to quit my sugar habit because having a little bit had lead me to wanting more. Brain scans in the movie reveal that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Rats will choose sugar over cocaine. This makes me feel better. Not for those dear rats, poor things. Sugar Crack Rats. Me and those rats don’t stand a chance; sugar will kick our asses. But it seems now that I don’t buy sugar, I’m not tempted. There is no sugar in the house. And over the years, my cravings finally settled down.

fed up sugar cocaine

I think my transition, though, was unfair in a horrible and lucky way. I had spinal and foot injuries that resulted in my isolation, plus poordom, plus not having a car during the years that I was hurt, plus not having a TV for seven years, which all means I’m insane. Also those things meant that I really didn’t have to use will power while I was learning about nutrition. If there was no sugar in the house, I couldn’t drive to get some, or walk there, and if I did, I didn’t have money to buy it, and I didn’t totally care because I didn’t have commercials to *remind me that I love Reese’s peanut butter cups. *Reese’s peanut butter cups, I love you and will never forget that. Commercials just make me lustlove you.


Instead of calling a sugar addiction the darling name of “sweet tooth,” it should be called a “sharp-fanged sugar monster.” Even that sounds sort of adorable and mildly… edible? I didn’t have a sweet tooth. I had a set of razor fangs that would leave the sanity of the world behind while devouring a whole pie in the middle of the night alone, or right from under your nose while you are talking to me at a party. Sugar is more important than whatever you are trying to say to me, or my own dignity, or my own sleep. But we give it such a cute name, “sweet tooth.” It’s much harder to tilt my head to one side and smile with chocolate smeared on my face and say, “Aw, sorry, I have a demon monster inside me that is addicted to sugar because I’m scared of my feelings.” It’s way longer to say, first of all.

My sugar monster now only comes out about 25% of the time that it used to. Now I understand not only the connection between sugar and the reward center of the brain, but also the mind, body, spirit connection to my need for comfort food. If I’m distracting myself with a sugar high, I’m running from some feeling my mind thinks is too scary to let me see. If my mind doesn’t know how to deal with it and can’t foresee the exact outcome and that it would be positive, it tells me to look at something sparkly, claps its hands and says, “Look over here! Isn’t this shiny?! OOO- Let’s eat a pizza.” I still fall for it sometimes. Even though I’ve since learned that the crust breaks down in my body as pure sugar, so it’s not just a cheese fix, it’s a sweet fix too! Sugar should be in the CIA. It’s very sneaky.

fed up sugar names

But I’ve come to be more interested in the idea that I need to become empty before I can fill myself spiritually. Drugs, alcohol, sex, shopping, sugar and many other things can make humans feel whole. But unless we empty the places those things fill, we can’t look at the hole they leave in order to fill it with real, lasting contentment. Knowing this, in combination with seeing that the fake fills weren’t helping over time, now makes my shiny pizza monster a little less attractive. (What if that was what I called my vagina? That would be the worst.)


I’m proud of Fed Up for being realistic with Americans by truthfully sharing that advertising leads us towards sugar, but that we are expected to act as though advertising doesn’t affect us and take care of ourselves through sheer will power. The advertising clearly affects us and that’s why companies invest in it. And will power against something so addictive, even without the advertising, would obviously be difficult. On top of all that, most of the advertising presents many sugar-filled foods as healthy or diet, fat-free or sugar-free so most of the time we don’t even know to use will power against those foods. Usually we’re told to use our will power for them.

fed up comparison

When the film teaches the psychological science behind how we respond to advertising, sugar, and sugar advertising, it lets people feel sane for being confused about why they can’t lose weight. Not only are unhealthy people fighting an uphill battle, they are usually left in the cold feeling like it’s their fault. And when I feel alone and confused, I eat more.

One of my favorite fact nuggets in the film was that when kids were given a snack to eat while they watched a tv show with food commercials vs. the same tv show with non-food commercials, they ate 45% more snack food. I got hungry just when I wrote the word nuggets.


I also learned in the movie how much fast food is now offered in America’s schools. Pairing that with how humans are wired to behave with certain food, brings to light that leaving our children alone with unhealthy foods and their own will power is truly neglectful. It seems easy to blame the parents and say they just have to make lunches for their kids. But as long as there are unhealthy options at school, the battle will be lost. I usually brought a lunch to school, but I figured out how to get the good tasting stuff. Trade things or bring a bit of money when I could to buy something. If it’s there, I want it.

Most adults I know are this way. And it’s not because they don’t know better. It’s because humans are designed to look for fat, salt, and sugar because those things used to be scarce. If the office has homemade cookies out for free, and then a birthday party with cake, and then someone brings in chocolates, we usually have a hard time not eating all of those things. Some people don’t like to waste food, some people don’t like to bring the mood down by saying no, some people want to fit in, some people want to be nice to the person who took the time to make cookies, some people are sleepy and need a pick-me-up, some people want to make out with their coworker but they can’t so some sugar is a close second, some people want to punch their boss in the face and going to the break room, they’ll eat whatever is there just to have a moment away. Some people just freaking love the way it all tastes. There are a million reasons why we make choices we know are bad for us. So expecting kids to act more responsibly in the lunch line than we do as adults is not kind or rational.



The film also brings up that the government subsidizes ingredients that cause obesity. Which I’d like to take a step further by saying that our tax dollars are really those subsidies, meaning we are really, unwillingly and unknowingly, paying for our own problem.


The film also shows that not all fat stores itself on the outside of the body. People eating unhealthy diets can be thin and still be a larger percentage of fat inside that will cause the same chronic diseases as someone who looks obese.

In the same way that what matters is on the inside of us, Fed Up shows that it goes for food too. Calories have been taught to us as math, and that they are equal. If the amount of calories going into your body equal the amount of calories going out, all should be well. At least that is what is usually said. But it is what is on the inside of a calorie that matters. 100 calories of broccoli don’t break down in our bodies the same way 100 calories of brownies do.

fed up scale

I’ve only gone on diets twice in my whole life. Once, for a week in high school, I tried (what I now see as my version of) the Adkins Diet and only ate microwaved cheese and eggs and meat. I had such low energy from this that I couldn’t walk through the halls from class to class. I remember being surprised by this at the time because I thought I was within their guidelines. Why would I think having just microwaved cheese as a third of my diet would be ok?

The other time I dieted was for a random month in college when I learned about calories in vs. calories out. I realized I didn’t have enough calories for my short frame to eat dessert. So I used my dessert-loving brain and figured out a way around it: only eat dessert. At one point, I was just eating whole bags of Reese’s peanut butter cups for dinner. I got bronchitis when my friends all got it and theirs went away with a Z-pak and mine stuck around for months. Because of the wheezing and deep, deep coughing lasting so long, my body got used to the sharp muscle constricting and, after a while, I started projectile vomiting. Which my roommate Hoosty and I thought was hilarious. So we’d laugh, which would get the muscles going again, which in turn would make me wheeze and cough, and projectile vomit.  The cycle continued. College was a special time.

That was how I learned all calories are not created equally. You may already know this. If not, instead of trying your own dessert experiment/ torture, you could read this that is one of my favorite articles: Why Calories Don’t Matter by Dr. Mark Hyman, MD. Or you could watch Fed Up. Or it’s just really easy to understand and you probably already got it before I told those ridiculous dieting stories.

When we’re told that our health comes down to calories eaten matching calories burned but so many other relevant parts of the equation are left out, our health is ignored. That only works if you are eating healthy calories and if you know what “healthy” means. And if you have time to burn an unlimited amount of calories.

fed up french fry exercise

Obesity is a nation-wide, chronic problem that should be met with compassion and education. The kids in this film break my heart. They are trying so hard, but no one is telling them where to put their energy that will be effective. Their parents are lovingly trying to but no one told their parents how to be healthy either. Hopefully they all watched their own movie though. They are a part of something that will bless so many people, and I hope this is a case where the blessings out do indeed equal the blessings coming back to them.

If you don’t have Netflix, learn more about where to find the movie at Here is the Fed Up trailer:


Good Little Gut Monsters: Probiotics, Sanity & Babies

Human digestive systems can’t process plants. Who knew? Apparently health coach Alyson Roux and my friend Simon knew. So maybe you knew too! I just found out when I took a nutrition workshop with Alyson. She taught us that our good gut bacteria (probiotics) actually break down plants for us. What nice little monsters!


15.2.22 TheWholeRuth Spinach Heart

That means that the less nice little monsters we have, the harder it is to process plant foods. I wonder if that’s the reason people have allergies to soybeans, wheat, peanuts, almonds and other plant-foods. I have allergic reactions to those foods and my tummy also doesn’t like it when I eat garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, depending on where you’re reading this). I wonder if this is one of the reasons why nutritionists can minimize people’s allergies. Is it because the nutritionists know how to rebalance the amount of good bacteria in a person’s intestines, which enables the person to digest these foods better?


Also, I have noticed for years that I will fart if I have certain greens or broccoli, but only when I’m eating poorly. I used to think farts were nothing but hilarious things. Now I know they’re my body telling me something important, in a hilarious way. Farting is a sign my body is having trouble processing something I ate. I’ve heard friends say they won’t eat certain healthy foods because those foods give them gas. I always wanted to tell them that if they didn’t eat other unhealthy things, I think their bodies would not get gas from the healthy foods, based on my own experience. But that seemed weird so I never said it. Plus, it’s hard to quickly define “healthy” because it is different for each person and depends on the present strength of his or her immune system.


Here comes the good part. Alyson taught us that garlic and onion feed the good gut bacteria! They are called prebiotics that are fiber/carbohydrates that probiotics eat. You can feed your monsters! There are lots of foods that are prebiotics and they can be cooked or raw, although raw is better. But feeding them is only part of the good part.


The Whole Ruth EAT ME Cupcake March 2014

The other half is: Sugar and vinegar kill them. That sounds like a bad part, but it clarified my fart hunch! When I was eating unhealthy foods that were packed with sugar or refined carbohydrates that break down as sugar, I was killing my good bacteria and it really was harder for me to process nutritious plant-food. Holy crap!

As for vinegar, it is in most of the fermented food I usually buy (tapenade, olives, pickles), so I’m not getting good bacteria from them either. Raw apple cider vinegar is good though, because it’s actually a prebiotic! It’s made from apples that contain the fiber pectin, which is the part of the vinegar that gives it its prebiotic quality. And I eat raw apple cider vinegar almost everyday, so it felt good to learn that it’s a food that feeds my little monsters.

Turns out that the only little monster I’ve been eating, that is a true probiotic with no vinegar or sugar, is raw, fermented sauerkraut from Trader Joes. It’s delicious. I think it’s important to say that the sugar and vinegar truly aren’t needed for a probiotic food to be tasty.


Since we are constantly eating things that destroy probiotics, it makes sense that we have to keep eating more probiotics.

That seems annoying. But when it comes to taking care of our bodies in the most healing way, I’m learning that it’s a life-long, slow task. When I think about healing from food, I don’t think, “I ate once last week. I don’t know why I’m not feeling better yet.” It’s sort of like building a brick house. It’s a repetitive task and you can’t just set down one brick and be done, or lay them all down at once. You have to let the mortar dry before you add another layer. Building a strong food foundation is slow, but the time lets the change settle in. I love eating! And I like that we need to do it regularly. I’m not annoyed about that. So once eating probiotics becomes habitual, I’m sure having another beneficial food to eat won’t be annoying either.

Damage isn’t the only reason we need to keep replenishing. Those little monsters get old just like us and aren’t as strong. So we need to keep adding spry, young fellows to do the heavy lifting.


13.9.27 TheWholeRuth Green Olive Curing

A girl in our workshop was curious how something fermented could even be made with out putting vinegar in it. All I knew was that I was shocked when I had recently looked up how to make sauerkraut and the ingredients were only cabbage, salt, and water! But I didn’t know how that would answer the question of why it worked without using vinegar, which is already fermented, to start the fermentation process. Alyson explained it so simply: Everything has bacteria on it. Letting any plant-food sit in water would make it start to ferment, essentially start to rot. Bacteria would start to grow, but it would be bad bacteria. Adding salt regulates the bacteria growth so that just helpful, healthy bacteria grow instead.

She says it’s good to eat a probiotic each day and explained some more things about probiotics. I thought they were anything raw and fermented. But they need to be lacto-fermented and not yeast-fermented. I just looked up lacto-fermentation and it means anything that is fermented with water and salt! It all makes sense now. Alyson Tip: Beer and kombucha are yeast-fermented, but kimchi, sauerkraut, pickles, and many other veggies are lacto-fermented.

So if you are in love with curing your own olives like my Dad and I, and like some of our dear Hollywood Orchard friends, you can cure them in salt and water like usual, and flavor them with raw apple cider vinegar if you want your hard-earned, naturally-cultivated, good-little bacteria monsters to stay alive and help you do the same. (Then of course you can add more flavors with whatever you want! Garlic, dill, lemon, whatever fluffs your muffins!)


What about probiotic pills? Can’t I just put that into my biggest face hole? Sure, if you need to have a lot of probiotics in a short period of time. If not, I think getting them from food is better. There are many different strains of probiotics and more are being discovered regularly. I don’t know how many strains of probiotics are in lacto-fermented food vs. pills or how to find out. Also every pill brand has different amounts of strains. Health coach Wendy Myers says that the best probiotic pills have about 3-7 strands of probiotics in them. Any more than that and the pill will be too crammed with different types to have enough of any of the types to be effective.

She says to aim to buy brands with 10 billion CFU for each strain. That’s how many are in the bottle when they are packaged, but it usually gets down to the millions by the time it’s eaten because many die off in the heat and moisture of shipping and the time on the shelf. The goal is to have about 100 billion per milliliter in our colons to be healthy. The average american has four. Four per milliliter. Ha! Math is not my forte, but this one is easy. I know that $100 billion dollars is so very different than $four.

Look for them in a refrigerated area of your nearest health food or hippie grocery store. It’s possible for some for them to not be refrigerated and live if they are in Sporogenes form, but I don’t know what that means. It seems easier, if you are starting out, to only buy refrigerated probiotics. Either way, follow the storage instructions on the package. You’ll want to take good care of the little monsters, they’re alive!


13.6.13 TheWholeRuth Garden Squash Banana Peppers

Why do I think that getting probiotics from food is better? I’m a big believer in eating whole foods the way God made them. If you don’t believe in God, then eating whole foods the way the ground made them. My nutritionist in 2009, Dr. Thropay, taught me that my body more easily understands how to absorb nutrients from whole, organic food than from synthetic material. That makes sense to me because our bodies have had thousands of years of practicing converting food into nutrients. And because I pee neon yellow when I have vitamins and not when I eat food. Also, I think God did a good job making his nutrient packages already. And his taste better. And they’re pretty. And they’re free if you have a garden. And there’s less packaging waste and no capsules made of silicon. I also like the idea that God gave us what we need already, that it’s not such a mystery. He made us smart enough to invent delicious, delicious, deliciously maddening Samoa Girl Scout Cookies. But he also made us smart enough to eventually notice when our inventions hurt us. And to look around and use what heals us.

Those are all just my opinions and idealistic hopes, but receiving nutrients like our forefathers did truly does seem to help in ways we can’t yet completely explain with science. I asked nutritionist Rebecca Brenner, PhD, about this a while back and love her answer. She said that with all of the research humans have done and are continuing to do, we still don’t know exactly how a tomato works. For example, scientists noticed that people who ate more tomatoes had less cancer. So they studied tomatoes and figured out that it’s the lycopene in tomatoes that fights cancer. So they made a lycopene pill. After it was on the market for a while, they also learned that taking too many lycopene pills… wait for it… can give you cancer. Ha! (Cancer is not funny.) Until scientists can recreate everything that happens to you and the tomato as you are eating it, it’s best to choose the food over the pill.

Food benefits us over pills in some ways that we can explain with science too. For random example, the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University says that when we chew or chop kale, the enzymes in the kale trigger the hydrolysis of glucosinolates that help prevent cancer by more rapidly removing carcinogens in the body before they can damage DNA and before they can let normal cells change into cancer cells. So whoever has to chop the kale for dinner is getting a lil’ extra sumthin’ sumthin’ just by chopping!

I hope this helps you understand how, right now, the intricacies of food are really impossible to understand.


TheWholeRuth Yogurt

What about yogurt? Or kefir? Are those good probiotics? Miss Roux taught us that about 70% of American adults are allergic to dairy and when looking at only Asian and African American populations, it’s about 90%. I know that probably sounds like an over estimate, but many Americans live with symptoms that aren’t thought of as allergies, but actually can be mild allergic reactions to food: heartburn, eczema, mucus production, wheezing, coughing, acne, PMS, bloating, gas, certain cysts, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), to name a few. So looking for probiotics that are non-dairy is important for a lot of the population. But everyone is different and the most important thing is to be observant about how your body responds to certain foods and honest with yourself about what you notice.

I am allergic to milk protein and can’t even have raw milk. People who have lactose intolerance are allergic to milk sugar and it’s been shown that some of them can process raw milk well. Not cooking the milk keeps the enzymes alive that help baby cows digest the milk and those same enzymes help some humans digest it. Some people make homemade kefir out of raw milk and that has helped their good gut bacteria grow too.

After a traumatic life event, Shane’s sister developed a severe wheat allergy, where she would throw-up if she ate gluten or other food that had even touched gluten. A few years later, she drank homemade kefir for a few months and also became pregnant (not from the kefir, don’t worry) and now she can eat wheat again in small amounts. I think it was the combination of the probiotics and her immune system strengthening from the pregnancy. And her stress level also lessened, which assisted in her healing too.

Another lovely fact Alyson shared is that when our body is in Fight or Flight mode, we can’t absorb as many nutrients.

If you do go for a dairy probiotic, make sure it is in raw form, meaning it hasn’t been pasteurized. When it’s pasteurized, the good bacteria die from the heat and then good bacteria is added back into it. Again, this is fine, but having the most natural, fresh little monsters is more effective. Kefir made at home from kefir grains and raw milk is best because even the kefir in the store is usually pasteurized. Health coach Wendy Myers says, “We used to get beneficial bacteria from raw dairy products delivered straight from the farm — before pasteurization. We also got bacteria from our fruits and vegetables before we decided we had to sanitize them prior to eating. Our obsession with sterilization is wreaking havoc in our guts.”

Kefir can also be made from kefir grains and coconut or rice milk!

Kefir grains are alive so they can’t be manufactured, they have to come from existing kefir grains. Just like us, or puppies. A store can’t build puppies; they have to come from a puppy mama. You can order them online or get them from your healthy hippie friend who already has some and is willing to share. Then your friend will replenish their stash over time as the kefir mamas make more puppies.


13.9.1 TheWholeRuth Hoost Window Shopping Female Body

Probiotic means pro-life. They are bacteria and yeasts that are alive and keep humans healthy. Also, my Word program keeps telling me that probiotic isn’t a word. I think that shows how much, as a society, we are still learning about what probiotics are and why we should care about them. I’d also like to mention that they are found in our bodies naturally, not just in food. That makes me feel less alone inside. Sorry if that joke upsets you.

The National Institutes of Health did a study in 2012 revealing the ratio of human cells to bacteria cells in our bodies. “The human body contains trillions of microorganisms- outnumbering human cells by 10 to 1. Because of their small size, however, microorganisms make up only about 1 to 3 percent of the body’s mass (in a 200 pound adult, that’s 2 to 6 pounds of bacteria), but play a vital role in human health.”

In an article by Mary Jo DiLonardo reviewed by David Kiefer, MD, Mary states that probiotics “move food through your gut… Some common conditions they treat are: Irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, and infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites)… There is also some research to show that they ease the symptoms of non-stomach related problems. For example… skin conditions, like eczema, urinary and vaginal health, oral health and preventing allergies and colds.”

Other than doing all of those amazing things and letting us process plant-foods, which help us fight off cancer, keep our blood thin, keep our cholesterol low, give us good poops, and a slew of nutrients, among so many other positive things, new studies show that good little gut monsters keep us sane.


14.5.22 TheWholeRuth Patti Beachwood Cafe Good Mood

My mom suffers from bi-polar disease and I am pretty good at getting down in the dumps myself, so this idea is especially fascinating to me. In 2013, a UCLA study revealed that women who consumed probiotics on a regular basis demonstrated altered brain function while they were resting and when given emotion-recognition tasks. The study, which appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Gastroenterology, was done at the Gail and Gerald Oppenheimer Family Center for Neurobiology of Stress, part of the UCLA Division of Digestive Diseases, and the Ahmanson–Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA. (Shane says that’s his favorite brain-mapping center.)

Our society is very comfortable with the idea that if someone is stressed, they can get a stomach ulcer. But we rarely think of the opposite, of our gut affecting our mental wellbeing. Dr. Kirsten Tillisch, lead author of the study and an associate professor of medicine in the digestive diseases division at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine says, “Our study shows that the gut–brain connection is a two-way street.”

“There are studies showing that what we eat can alter the composition and products of the gut flora — in particular, that people with high-vegetable, fiber-based diets have a different composition of their microbiota, or gut environment, than people who eat the more typical Western diet that is high in fat and carbohydrates… Now we know that this has an effect not only on the metabolism but also affects brain function,” said Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine (digestive diseases), physiology and psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and the study’s senior author.

Another study done at Oxford University that was published in the journal Psychopharmacology in December of 2014 also showed that gut bacteria affect mental health.

One of the tests revealed that participants who had taken prebiotics gave less attention to negative information and more attention to positive information, compared to the participants who received the placebo. This proposes the idea that people consuming probiotics could potentially react more calmly in negative situations, in the same way that people who are on antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications react to negative stimuli.


TheWholeRuth InTheMorning

Another intriguing change happened in the group that took prebiotics regarding their cortisol levels. Cortisol is a glucocorticoid, a steroid hormone, released in response to physical or emotional stress and in natural cycles that often follow circadian rhythms.

I only knew that it creates belly fat when we’re stressed. But it also helps us start the day by rising its levels in the morning and slowly lowering its levels until it reaches its lowest between 3:00-4:00pm. Maybe it’s my specific cortisol levels that are what make me feel stressed when I wake up and want to take a siesta at siesta time.

When cortisol is released during stressful times, it shuts down a lot of our other bodily functions, majorly important ones, including our reproductive system, our thyroid production and our immune system. Cortisol shuts them down so we can focus on the stress at hand. In caveman times, that was probably great for fleeing from tusked cats. In present day times, we are usually under a lot of stress while simultaneously being sedentary: freaking out about traffic, freaking out on hold on the phone, freaking out because computers make us freak out.

And when we keep ourselves in a state of stress for too long, our helpful cortisol can overproduce making our reproductive system or thyroid glands or immune systems sick. It can also under produce making us lethargic, or produce at the wrong times, which can make us awake at night and sleepy in the day. When the UCLA study prebiotic group woke up in the morning, they had lower cortisol levels in their saliva. For people who are overproducing, this could be a very good thing.

Also, who knew we had stress hormones in our saliva?!?

When I go to acupuncture, the acupuncturists always look at my tongue for a long time. Probably just cause it’s pretty. Ha, no! But I still don’t know why completely. They’ve told me that if it’s quivering, I may be consuming too much caffeine or be anxious. If it has ridges, I may be dehydrated which is making my teeth leave an imprint on my tongue. And if it’s coated, that means something important, but I can’t remember what it is. I wonder if my stress hormones affect the way my tongue looks too.

Or if it affects the way I taste. Not how things taste to me… But how I taste to Shane. Maybe this is why our breath can smell bad in the morning. “You have cortisol breath.”

I wonder other things too…


14.12.4 TheWholeRuth Skinny Mama 2 year bday

First, as a kid and an adult, mama ate like a bird and I wonder if her good gut bacteria levels have always been low, and if that started contributing to her condition decades ago.

Second, when Mama is manic or on medications that make her manic, her blood sugar goes up. It got so high in 2009 that she was one point away from getting diabetes. We took her off that medicine, not just because of the high blood sugar, but because it was letting her stay manic. We also changed her diet and because of the two changes, her blood sugar is healthy now. But it still rises if she gets manic on her own or takes a new medicine that pushes her into mania. Many bi-polar medications are known to give patients diabetes. So here’s my wonder: If her blood sugar gets so high, does that sugar kill her good bacteria? Are we giving her medicine to lift her out of depression that is actually contributing to keeping her there?

Third, Mama’s doctors have said repeatedly that she has a chemical imbalance. The two chemicals they say are imbalanced are serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and a hormone, derived from tryptophan. “Of the approximately 40 million brain cells, most are influenced either directly or indirectly by serotonin. This includes brain cells related to mood, sexual desire and function, appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, and some social behavior,” says Collette Bouchez in a WebMD feature. Mom said, “Ha! That’s EVERYTHING.” Also the WebMD feature was reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD. I trust anyone named Brunilda.

The doctors only talk about serotonin being in her brain. And it is, but health coach Wendy Myers says, “95% of [serotonin] is produced in the gut and dependent upon good intestinal health.” Brunilda says it too. Well, she and Collette say, “90% of our serotonin supply is found in the digestive tract and in blood platelets.” I wonder if the probiotics help serotonin thrive and balance, and if that has anything to do with why scientists are discovering that there is a gut-brain connection.

Medical News Today writer, James Macintosh, states that the serotonin used in the brain must be made in the brain. But Joel C. Bornstein, from the Department of Physiology at the University of Melbourne in Australia, says the opposite. In an article for the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, Bornstein states, “There are both neural and mucosal sources of serotonin within the gut.” He also shares that the role of gut serotonin “remains enigmatic and requires further study, especially as this is the source for all circulating serotonin.”

So I don’t have answers to any of those wonders. And as far as I can understand, science is still wondering too.


I have another wonder. For my vegan friends! Since y’all don’t eat anything made from animal products, even honey, can y’all eat probiotics? They’re alive. But they’re already inside you too. And if you don’t feed them, isn’t that like animal cruelty? I’m only sort of kidding. I honestly don’t know which way a vegan-hearted person would lean. But, since know we know there is bacteria on everything, even fruits and veggies, maybe eating probiotics is just fine.


15.5.5 TheWholeRuth Antibiotics

Rachel Champeau, a writer for UCLA Newsroom, is wondering about something else. In response to the UCLA study showing a link between probiotics and brain function, she said, “By demonstrating the brain effects of probiotics, the study also raises the question of whether repeated courses of antibiotics can affect the brain, as some have speculated.”

Antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but they also kill good bacteria. Also, my Word program is fine with the word antibiotics. That says a lot. Americans are used to the pattern of taking an antibiotic for a week or so when we’re sick. It’d be so good for us to get used to taking a round of antibiotics with a round of probiotics afterwards. Right now we’re only accustomed to half of the treatment and that treatment leaves us missing our good little monsters!

Also we are over-prescribed antibiotics, which is bad for many reasons, not just killing our good bacteria. I’ll only list one reason so I don’t get off track, but also so it doesn’t look like I’m saying that for fun. Even though that’s not fun to say. One reason: There hasn’t been a new antibiotic discovered for 40 years so while our antibiotics stay the same, the bacteria that make us sick are evolving so that the antibiotics we have are less effective.

Sanjay Gupta, MD, wishes patients were more involved in the decision of whether or not to take antibiotics. He invited patients to play a larger role in their health by asking, “Next time a doctor gives you an antibiotic, ask yourself, do I really need it?” Sometimes, we need them. But I think if people knew that we didn’t need them as often as they are being prescribed, if they knew that repeated exposure to the same antibiotics strengthens bad bacteria, if they knew how beneficial probiotics are and how much work it takes to build them up, they would reach less quickly for antibiotics every time.


15.3.5 TheWholeRuth Mason Jar Water

What if you never take antibiotics? I think it’s relevant to say that antibiotics are in our drinking water supply so there is a possibility that, overtime, they are adding up in our bodies. Harvard Health says, “It’s possible that there’s a cumulative effect on people from even tiny amounts of these and other pharmaceuticals in drinking water, but this hasn’t been proven… In contrast to the uncertainty about human health effects, there’s quite a bit of evidence for pharmaceuticals in the water affecting aquatic life, particularly fish.” I think that since it’s affecting fish, it’s affecting us too, only more slowly.

I also wonder if it hasn’t been proven to affect humans because there have been studies showing it is safe or because there just haven’t been any studies.

Non-organic meat also has antibiotics in it that were given to the animal to keep it from getting sick in its over-crowded, confined living space. Cows are also given antibiotics because instead of being fed grass that they naturally eat, they are fed corn that they can not digest which makes them sick. So even if we aren’t taking antibiotic prescriptions, many of us are still ingesting antibiotics in trace amounts in our water and larger amounts in our meat.


There are other things that destroy beneficial bacteria. Health coach Wendy Myers lists stress, PH imbalance leaning toward acidity, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) like ibuprofen, chlorine, overuse of antibiotic herbs, low iron, cancer treatments, alcohol, cigarettes and constipation, because the longer the poo sits in you, the longer the bad bacteria can multiply. But I want to focus on antibiotics just a bit more.


What if you currently don’t take antibiotics, but did a lot as a kid? In her UCLA Newsroom article, Rachel Champeau said, “Antibiotics are used extensively in neonatal intensive care units and in childhood respiratory tract infections, and such suppression of the normal microbiota may have long-term consequences on brain development.”

I was one of those children who took antibiotics every month. And look how my brain developed. I CAN’T STOP WRITING PARAGRAPHS IN THIS THE LONGEST BLOG POST AND I’M OBSESSED WITH LITTLE ANIMALS INSIDE MY TUMMY TALKING TO MY BRAIN.

I was a colicky baby and as a kid, I tested as allergic to milk. I would get ear infections regularly because I always wanted cheese anyway. My cousins would sneak me grated cheese as Nana was making enchiladas. I would trade my bag lunch for the grossest rectangular gray sausage pizza with cheese that seemed like it was made out of an old airplane’s soul. Whatever that means. But I loved it. (Shane just brought up that he always saw kids trade their bag lunch for school lunch, but who were those kids that wanted a bag lunch instead of pizza? “I have this soggy PB&J with carrots, do you want that instead of your delicious pizza?” “You said it’s soggy, right? Sold.”) Also, each month, I would read all five books assigned for the Book It Club and mom would feel bad if I didn’t receive my award: a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut. It takes about 30 days to get rid of an ear infection, which is how long it takes to read five more books… So I was on antibiotics often. Maybe this contributed to my allergies later in life.

14.3.29 TheWholeRuth Little Caesars Pizza


Is this why babies on formula have more allergies? Most formulas are made of cow dairy and soy, which are some of the most common allergens (that’s why the back of food labels often say “Made in a facility that processes dairy and soy”). Since the dairy is pasteurized, cooking out the enzymes that help baby cows process their mother’s milk, won’t it be harder for the human baby, who also doesn’t have the right enzymes to digest it? More importantly, what if formula doesn’t have probiotics in it? How will babies drinking formula have good odds to process the dairy and soy (a plant food) with comfort? And how will they start to build up their good gut bacteria to process plant foods later?

Breast milk has powerful probiotics in it that get a baby’s gut bacteria going. Even though we all have probiotics in us naturally, maybe it’s the lack of extra probiotics and prebiotics in most formulas that makes it harder for babies later in life. If so, why don’t we add those to formula? Or, in the same way that we should include probiotic treatment in tandem with antibiotic prescriptions, why don’t doctors tell parents to focus on their baby’s gut health after they get off of the formula?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that without a balance of good bacteria, the baby’s bad bacteria “could cause infections and inflammation.” Inflammation sounds like a harmless thing, but it makes it harder for their digestive systems to break down food, which can cause vomiting, heartburn, and colic. Inflammation is also the beginning of many diseases. If left as a chronic condition, it can cause heart disease, gum disease, some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis and many other problems. I know the baby wouldn’t be a baby anymore by the time those things happened, but I’m just saying inflammation is something that needs more than ice.

The good news is… Drum rrrrrrrollllllll….. it turns out that there are many baby formulas with probiotics in them! And some companies make probiotics that can be added to formula. Yay! I just didn’t know that as I started writing this. And for us adult-babies, after all this, it seems like there are many probiotic options out there for us too! Yay, everybaby!

14.3.7 TheWholeRuth Bright Baby


I feel the sauerkraut kicking in. I feel very mentally good and calm about all of this. I’m going to stop writing all of the paragraphs now. Instead, I’ll go sanely talk to God, or to the ground, and say “Thank you for my good little monsters.”



Mary Jo DiLonardo, reviewed by David Kiefer, MD. “What are Probiotics?” December 24, 2014. WebMD. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Alexander, Rhonda, MS, MA, CFT. “Is Apple Cider Vinegar a Probiotic?” Live Strong. Dec 18, 2013. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Myers, Wendy. “Probiotics- The Foundation of Health.” Live to 110. February 9, 2015. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Myhill, Sarah, MB, BS. “Probiotics – we should all be taking these all the time and double the dose following antibiotics and gastroenteritis” Last modified on 5 March 2015, at 14:02. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Madden, Michelle. “Are You Pro-Life” The Sweet Beet. December 15, 2010. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Probiotics & the Brain:

Champeau, Rachel. Changing Gut Bacteria Through Diet Affects Brain Function, UCLA Study Shows. May 28, 2013. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Probiotics in Baby Formula:

American Academy of Pediatrics. Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5. Copyright 2009, Updated July, 9, 2014. Retrieved March 5 2015 from


Myers, Wendy. “Probiotics- The Foundation of Health.” Live to 110. February 9, 2015. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Bouchez, Collette reviewed by Nazario, Brunilda, MD. “Serotonin: 9 Questions and Answers” Web MD. October 12, 2011. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

serotonin. (n.d.) Miller-Keane Encyclopedia and Dictionary of Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health, Seventh Edition. (2003). Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Bornstein, Joel. “Serotonin in the Gut: What Does It Do?” PubMed Central at the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine. February 6, 2012. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Macintosh, James. “What is serotonin? What does serotonin do?” Medical News Today. February 12, 2015. Retrieved March 5 2015 from


Bennington, Vanessa, NP. “The Ups and Downs of Cortisol: What You Need to Know” Breaking Muscle. Retrieved March 5 2015 from


Nordqvist, Christian. “What is Inflammation? What Causes Inflammation?” Medical News Today. February 12, 2015. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Antibiotics in Water:

Curfman, Gregory, MD, Editor in Chief. “Drugs in the Water” Harvard Health Publications. June 1, 2011. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Antibiotics in Meat:

Pollan, Michael. PBS’s Frontline Modern Meat Interview: Michael Pollan.

Environmental Working Group. Decoding Meat + Dairy Labels. 2011.

Cruciferous Vegetables Fight Cancer:

Hidgon, Jane, Ph.D., “Cruciferous Vegetables” Linus Pauling Institute
Oregon State University. July 2005. Updated December 2008 by
Victoria J. Drake, Ph.D. Reviewed December 2008 by David E. Williams, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator, Linus Pauling Institute
Professor, Department of Environmental and Molecular Toxicology
Oregon State University. Retrieved March 5 2015 from

Personal Interviews:

Roux, Alyson, Certified Health Coach. Nutrition workshop. February 15, 2015.

Thropay, Adam D., DC. Nutrition appointment. 2009.

Brenner, Rebecca, Ph.D. Phone conversation. 2009.

Stories from Aunt Ruth

There are so many things I’m excited to share on this site! Here a few ideas that I’m eager to write about, as something I can look forward to, and hopefully you will too :)… Continue reading “Stories from Aunt Ruth”

Food Glorious Food


Mama went from 148 lbs to 125 lbs in 3 months eating this way. Her doc also took her off of her mood stabilizefood glorious food r, Zyprexa, as we started the diet. Over the last 3 years, Zyprexa made her gain ALOT of weight and it raised her blood sugar levels to a near-diabetic state. She lost 12.5 lbs the first month of this diet, mostly due to the medicene change. But continues to lose 2-4 lbs per month with the lifestyle change!  Her blood sugar and her BMI (Body Mass Index) are in the normal range again!

I had gained a few extra pounds on my trip to Utah and LA.  Nana’s cooking is tasty, but not good for the waistline, and Becca eats healthily, but in portions for a calorie-burning yoga instructor, not a motionless spinally-injured me.  After eating according to this paper for 2 months, I lost 7 lbs and am back at my high school weight! (Except in high school, it was all muscle, where as today, I’m still weak. But one step at a time…)

*There’s one change we made to the diet, drink your water separately from your meals.

**And since starting my nutrition program at the beginning of August, my diet has changed even more. But I thought this would be a good start for Clara. Food, Glorious Food