Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kefir: An Elixir of Life

This post is part of my ongoing discussion on digestion.  But in talking about kefir, the benefits of kefir may start with digestion but extend throughout the entire body.  I truly believe that kefir is one of the most beneficial beverages/foods to consume in the diet. 

I'll be focusing on dairy kefir in this post but coconut milk kefir and water kefir are also options, especially for those that do not consume dairy. 

Dairy kefir is a cultured, lacto-fermented beverage/food that is teeming with health benefits. Kefir is rich in beneficial bacteria and yeasts, phosphorus, vitamin K, biotin, folic acid, mineralsand enzymes.  Plus kefir is low in lactose.  Kefir is akin to plain yogurt as they share a somewhat sour taste but kefir contains both beneficial bacteria and yeasts whereas yogurt only contains beneficial bacteria. One of my research articles listed 56 different strains of beneficial organisms and microflora!  Compare that to the yogurt you bought at the grocery store that may contain 3 different strains. 

The beneficial microflora contained in kefir have multiple purposes.  Kefir assists in keeping the digestive tract balanced and healthy.  The digestive tract is home to approximately 400 different species of organisms with a population of about 100 trillion.  Yes, that's 100,000,000,000,000!  Without these microflora, problems arise.  As 70-80% of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, maintaining a proper balance in the gut is vitally important for general health.  Factors negatively affecting digestive health include stress, disease, poor nutrition, toxins, and medications. 

Kefir is gaining popularity in health food stores and there are more brands available than ever before.  Most advertise having 10 different strains of microflora.  I caution you to watch the sugar content in some flavors as it can be quite high.  If you are buying your kefir, I recommend the plain, whole milk version. 

However, if you want more bang for your kefir buck, I recommend making your own.  It's remarkably simple.  I've been making my own for a few years now and am drinking some as I speak!  There are many different tutorials online for guidance or more indepth information. 

Some of the sites I like are:

Because kefir is so easy to make, I recommend making your own as it confers more healthy organism than the store bought versions. Additionally the store bought versions are made differently than homemade versions.  I normally have extra kefir grains available so if you need some, let me know.

Monday, November 29, 2010

4 Ways to a Healthy Gut

Digestive distress is extraordinarily common in the American population.  This distress ranges from indigestion, gas, bloating, to more severe disease states such as Celiac's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, and Crohn's disease.  Regardless of the diagnosis, some tried and true methods exist for restoring balance to the digestive tract.

The "4R" Program is one I have been following for several years now. 

1.  Remove irritants to the digestive tract such as caffeine, alcohol, food allergens, and/or over-the-counter pain relievers.  I use manual muscle testing as well as saliva testing to determine food sensitiviies or allergens.  Or, you can use a rotation diet to help you identify if any foods are making you ill. 

2.  Replace what the body is missing i.e hydrochloric acid from the stomach, pancreatic digestive enzymes, or bile salts from the gall bladder.  When the body is missing these essential elements to digestion, they body cannot digest the food it consumed.  This sets the stage for any number of digestive ailments. 

3.  Reinoculate by re-introducing the beneficial microbes/bacteria into the digestive tract.  These include Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccoromyces boulardii to name a few.   My preference is to use kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies, and/or yogurt as the food sources of these beneficial microbes.  However, when necesssary, I use Standard Process whole food concentrates to re-inoculate the gut. 

4.  Repair the damage to the gastro-intestinal lining.  Inflammation of the digestive tract must be repaired, otherwise the body will never properly heal.  I recommend homemade bone broth, castor oil packs, fermented veggies, cabbage juice, slippery elm, and glutamine to address the inflammation.

My preference is always to use foods as the basis for healing, but at the same time, I regularly use whole food vitamins to facilitate the healing process. 

Jennifer Greenfield D.C.
Raleigh, NC

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Raleigh Chiropractor Recommends Castor Oil Packs

One of the most useful home therapies I recommend to patients is the use of castor oil packs. I've read that humankind has been using castor oil packs for about 3000 years. During the Middle Ages, castor oil was known as the Oil of Christ.

 I recommend castor oil packs for their detoxification and anti-inflammatory properties. The packs can be applied to the lower abdomen for assistance with digestive distress (constipation, IBS, chronic indigestion and bloating), menstrual cramps, uterine fibroids, UTI prevention, cystitis, as well as to the breasts and liver. The heat provided by the castor oil pack helps to provide warmth to organs that are over-stimulated. The pack also has strong detoxifcation qualities and has been known to assist with bile flow in the liver and inflammation in organs or joints. I do not recommend using the packs on the head.

To make a castor oil pack, you’ll need a good quality castor oil, a wool flannel, hot water bottle/heating pad, plastic and rags/towels. Most natural food stores sell both the castor oil and wool flannel

First, cut in half a plastic grocery bag and lay flat. Pour or soak the flannel in the castor oil until saturated but do not let it drip. Lay the soaked flannel across the abdomen and place the open plastic bag on top. Next, place a rag or old towel on top and then the hot water bottle/heating pad. Lie still for 45-60 minutes. When finished, remove the flannel and wash the area with a solution of baking soda and water. Beware that castor oil can stain so keep away from clothing.

I generally recommend the castor oil pack every 2-3 days until symptoms improve.

Jennifer Greenfield D.C.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Raleigh Chiropractor Recommends Eating Beets

Beets are a wonderful food not only for general health but especially for liver health. Now that summer is winding down, I’m starting to think of the root vegetables which generally color my plate in the fall and winter. The most common beet available is the red beet, but golden beets are also available.

To get the most out of beets, I recommend eating the red beets. Beets pack a nutritional punch for the liver because they contains phytonutrients called betalains and betaine. The phytonutrients are supportive and protective of the liver and a healthy liver is vital to keep the body fit, trim, and young.

Not only are the beets themselves healthy and tasty but beet greens are fabulous as well. When I grow beets in my garden, I choose varieties that have abundant green leaves on the top.

Since many people are unfamiliar with beets and how to prepare them, I have some website suggestions for more information
• The World’s Healthiest Foods:
• Issue 10 (November/December 2009) has a great article called Just Beet It
• One of my favorite blogs has information on roasting beets,, plus making beet hummus

Roasted beets and butternut squash (or sweet potatoes) are a staple in my house during the cooler months of the year. Sauteed beet greens make a tasty side dish to any meal. I also make a beverage called Beet Kvass, which is for the more adventurous beet eaters  Email me at for more info on the Kvass. The only thing I don’t recommend is eating beets from a can. Canned food has little nutritional value. Fresh is always best.

I was not an adventurous eater as a child or even a young adult. I remember the “yuck factor” when tasting a pickled beet while in my early 20s. But once I taught myself to cook and experimented with vegetables, I learned to love beets and beet greens. I encourage you to give beets a try.

And a final note…if you eat beets, please be mindful that the color of your urine and stool will turn red. So, no, you are not bleeding, it’s a result of the beets!

Happy Eating!

Jennifer Greenfield D.C.

Beets from my garden, 2009