Tag Archives: Chris Kresser

Personal Hygiene and Your Brain

waterfall at Limekiln State Park

By: Tina Davidson

Should I Stop Showering?

You gotta love Yahoo news feeds. Thanks to a Yahoo article, I just found out about Mother Dirt (no, although some may think, it is not my barefoot mother’s moniker).

I read the article by Molly Shea and watched the interview by Katie Couric with chemical engineer, David Whitlock, and Mother Dirt President, Jasmina Aganovic.

Basically, a scientist, David Whitlock, chose to spray himself with a mist that contains ammonia oxidizing bacteria (he uses the AO + Mist product by Mother Dirt) instead of showering. It has been more than 12 years that he’s gone without a bath or shower. Apparently, he doesn’t smell because the mist contains bacteria that eat up the odors and convert it into something good (I believe it was nitric acid).

How would you feel about your partner or teenager not showering for 12 years?

Food for thought for another blog post: What if the State of California handed out bottles of AO + Mist to citizens in hopes to limit showering and promote water conservation during the drought?

Yes, this post raises some questions. The Mother Dirt products got rave reviews on its website (but who is going to put bad press on their site?) I also watched the Test/Friends video from Buzzfeed where the reviewers tried out the AO + Mist product themselves. The three testers gave it mixed reviews. This trial didn’t seem too conclusive of whether or not the product lived up to the hype (smell was still a factor).

What Does This Mean for Consumers?

Those bacteria friendly products certainly aren’t cheap. You can purchase the bundle of AO + Mist, Shampoo, and Conditioner for $69 (if you sign up for the newsletter, then you can get 10% off). I can buy a lot of Dr. Bronner’s organic pure castile soap for $69. Would it work to just go out and find some dirt with ammonia oxidizing (AO) bacteria in it? How easy is it to find this AO bacteria? Would it work to just put probiotic pills in your shampoo bottles? Obviously, there is a difference there. I’ve got so many questions to research. Any answers?

In 2013, I read a Chris Kresser article, “5 Uncommon Uses for Probiotics.” Some of the uncommon uses were a probiotic cleaning spray and probiotic skin lotions. So, it looks like this trend of using good bacteria is finally catching on in the form of skin care products.

As I mentioned before, most of my summer reading centered around the microbiome and the good gut bacteria that we need back in our lives. You can also benefit from putting these good guys directly on your skin. A quote from Chris’ Ebook on Nutrition for Healthy Skin:

The skin is naturally home to beneficial flora that protect the skin from pathogens and regulate inflammation, but these friendly populations of bacteria can be disturbed through harsh soaps and other environmental toxins. Restoring beneficial bacteria through probiotic lotions or spot treatments appears to reduce skin inflammation from the outside, thus improving acne.

Perhaps this, Mother Dirt, company will help take the good bacteria into the mainstream and revolutionize the skin care and cleaning product industry? I am done with Triclosan, an antibacterial product found in toothpaste and soaps, and I hope more people will start to stand up for a world with less antibacterial products–a world where microscopic bacteria do the work and we reap the benefits.

How Close is the World to Giving up Showers?

What would a world with no showering really look/smell like?

Would there be more kids getting parental consent to jump in the mud to get good bacteria in their system?

According to the dermatologist, Ted Lain, who is mentioned in the Yahoo article, we shouldn’t give up on showers yet and more clinical trials need to be done to show the effectiveness of the Mother Dirt products. He thinks that people in cities still need to wash off grime and bacteria on a daily basis. I guess country kids might have better luck convincing their parents they don’t need a shower every night.

Celebrity Showering Quiz

Our culture is a little bit weirdly obsessed with the showering habits of famous individuals. There is an article online that dishes the info (you determine the validity) on the celebs who bathe with their dogs (Mariah Carey), take luxurious baths (Oprah), or those who are out of the shower in three minutes (Jennifer Aniston). I wonder if any of them would start endorsing Mother Dirt?

Cleanliness is Inspiration for my Mind

Which raises yet another question: What about all the creative people who get their inspiration for work while in the shower? (Many ideas for this blog post popped into my head while I was showering. I was looking for a distraction from my NaNoWriMo novel).

If you’ve ever had a moment of clarity while in the shower, you’re not alone. In a 2012 study conducted at the University of California, Santa Barbara, participants who performed undemanding activities that allowed their mind to wander experienced a significant increase in creative problem-solving abilities.

Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/Healthy-Shower-Habits-Shower-Mistakes#ixzz3qgTBNXaf

It seems that it is the act of quieting one’s mind that helps with creative problem-solving abilities. In the New York Times #1 Best Seller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo mentions this idea by writing about the time she went on a hike to a waterfall with one of her 74 year-old clients. The author experienced a meditative like state while standing under the waterfall. In her book, she examines the similarities between mediating under a waterfall and tidying one’s house.

“For this reason, it is essential to create a quiet space in which to evaluate the things in your life.” Pg. 57

For some people, this quiet space might be the shower.

Warning Signs of Not Showering

People may become less creative in problem-solving and smell foul if they haven’t showered in a while.  Poor hygiene can also be one of the first signs of cognitive decline.

Typically in Alzheimer’s disease but also in Lewy body dementia and vascular dementia, in the late mild to early moderate stages, the person you care for may need to be reminded to wash and groom themselves.

When it comes to dementia, more signs of what to look for in terms of personal care/hygiene can be found at dementiaguide.com.

Smarter Hygiene Products

None of the products I use for cleaning or personal hygiene include probiotics, yet.

I make my own deodorant (it is not an antiperspirant) out of coconut oil, tapioca starch, baking soda, lemon oil, and tea tree oil. I can count on it to keep the smell away for one day (don’t try to push 2 days without showering when using your own homemade stuff.)

I use Weleda toothpaste that contains salt. I used to use “dirt” toothpaste (a commercial product made with clay) but the company was forced to put a warning lable on the toothpaste that it may contain lead. This was too unsettling for me to look at every day.

What about you? Dare I ask when the last time you showered? Have any good hygiene tips or products to share? Need a good distraction from NaNoWriMo?

Here’s to keeping your brain happy by smelling good!



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The Dark Side of Sugar and Your Brain

sweet side

By: Tina Davidson

Halloween is almost here. For most kids, October 31 means costumes and CANDY!

This year my sons will be dressed as a father and son duo–Anakin Skywalker, aka Darth Vader, and Luke Skywalker. I’m sure they’ll be wielding their lightsabers to commandeer treats while using the Force to try to persuade me to allow them to eat sugar and stay up past their bedtime.

Should I worry too much about them having trouble falling asleep after eating a bag full of candy in the evening? Apparently, a new study has found that sugar may help out with sleep:

Contrary to parental belief, sugar may actually cause drowsiness, not hyperactivity. Key brain cells awash in glucose put mice to sleep, scientists report in the July 8 Journal of Neuroscience. (1)

I’m going to allow my children to eat a reasonable amount of candy (not in excess) since this article just came out and their falling asleep quickly is not 100% guaranteed. The key words of the study are “may actually cause drowsiness” so my kids will have to present me with a few more studies (done on humans) before I change this policy.

And my kids can forget about eating any candy with artificial colors or chemical sweeteners. There are studies that link artificial food dyes to hyperactivity (sometimes sugar is not solely to blame for kid craziness–check out the blog “Die, Food Dye!” for testimonials from parents with dye sensitive kids). So, I plan on letting my kids collect candy, but I’ll swap this candy out later for “mother-approved” candy they can eat (stuff they pick out ahead of time from Trader Joe’s). This tradition seems to make everyone happy.

Have a safe and fun Halloween!  May the Force be with you!

Hanging with Yoda at LEGOLAND for the day. Photo courtesy of Thea Gavin.

Hanging out with Yoda at LEGOLAND.

Further Reading

Do You Let Sugar Master Your Attention Span?

Check out the article, “Energy drinks significantly increase hyperactivity in schoolchildren, study finds” posted on February 9, 2015, at Science Daily:

Middle-school children who consume heavily sweetened energy drinks are 66% more likely to be at risk for hyperactivity and inattention symptoms, a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health has found.

Do or Do not. There is no Try When it Comes to Substituting Real Sugar for NAS

You may want to think twice before you choose a non-caloric artificial sweetener (NAS) and find out how it may affect your intestinal microbiota. Check out the article, “It’s Never Nice to Fool Mother Nature,” posted on Dr. Perlmutter’s blog.

Chris Kresser’s blog also has a post, “The Unbiased Truth About Artificial Sweeteners” from May 30, 2014, that is worth checking out. You can also find a free ebook on sweeteners on his website.

Do you Underestimate the Power of Sugar?

Some people complain of nightmares after eating a lot of sugar and some gain weight after eating a diet high in sugar. There are others who experience no ill effects after consuming lots of sugar. Maybe they just don’t notice any effects because it puts them to sleep? Check out the article, “What Sugar Does to Your Brain” by Dr. Scott Olson.

Scientific studies on the effects of sugar on the brain are sparse at best and most medical professionals and organizations will say that sugar has nothing to do with mood or hyperactivity. If you are surprised by that stance, you are not alone.

“Your powers are weak” when it comes to fending off sugar cravings.

Should You Eat Chocolate Before a Lightsaber Battle or Tense Discussion?

According to the Wall Street Journal article posted on December 3, 2014, “How the Brain Uses Glucose to Fuel Self-Control,” by Robert M. Sapolsky, eating some chocolate to get your glucose levels up before entering into a tense discussion with a spouse may prove beneficial (taking glucose before a lightsaber battle was not mentioned in the article).

Going for the Padame Amidala look this Halloween?

Protect your brain from heavy metals found in some costume makeup and check out the article, “Beware of Halloween Makeup Hazards,” by Devon Kelley posted on October 20, 2015.

Help me Obi-Wan KALE-nobi–eating Fruits and Vegetables is my Only Hope!

I try to limit my consumption of foods with added sugars. I’ll stick to eating foods that are close to their most natural state and resist the power of the Dark Side of sugar this Halloween.

How about you? What’s your stance on sugar and how it affects your brain? Remember to seek your doctor’s advice and do your research when it comes to your health issues and  consuming sugar.

R2 D2

I found the droid, R2 D2, that I was looking for at LEGOLAND.

I'm not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.

I’m not sure how many Lego bricks went into making the Death Star replica at LEGOLAND but it was pretty impressive.


Photo of author, Tina Davidson, with Yoda courtesy of Thea Gavin.

(1)  Sanders, Laura. “Sugar may put you to sleep: glucose triggers nerve cells to spur drowsiness in mice.” Science News 8 Aug. 2015: 15. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

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Ice Cream and Your Brain


The best place in Orange, CA for milkshakes is Watson Drugs and Soda Fountain.

By: Tina Davidson

July is National Ice Cream Month!  Mark your calendars that this Sunday, July 20, is National Ice Cream Day and celebrate with some friends.  We have President Reagan to thank for this designated celebration.

It wasn’t too long ago that I used to celebrate National Ice Cream Day– every day!!

My obsession with ice cream began when I was pregnant with my first son.  I continued to eat ice cream daily after my first son was born and well after my second pregnancy. However, I didn’t want to end up looking like Ben and Jerry’s popular flavor, “Chunky Monkey,” so I put an end to my daily habit. Now, I occasionally enjoy an ice cream treat (typically on Ice Cream Fridays- my family’s designated weekly ice cream celebration).  I’ve finally put an end to my need for this luxurious treat as a daily staple.

Is Your Favorite Ice Cream Flavored with Bacon?

Do you like ice cream? Do you like bacon? Try putting them together.

Not too long ago I watched a Paleo cooking show on how to make vanilla ice cream with bacon and maple syrup.  I didn’t rush out and make the recipe but it made me curious about the taste. (I don’t think you can go wrong with these ingredients!)

My advice, if you are going to partake of a sweet ice cream treat, is to pick the ice cream with the least ingredients (whole milk/heavy cream, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract).  Your body and brain do not typically benefit from food ingredients that you can’t spell or recognize. Take the time to read the label. You might be surprised at all the extra crap in it (i.e. food dyes, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup).

Better yet, try making your favorite flavor at home.  If you plan on eating ice cream weekly, I recommend you purchase an Automatic Frozen Yogurt-Ice Cream & Sorbet Maker so you can control all the ingredients that go in. I actually found a Cuisinart ice cream maker in great shape at the Goodwill for $12.

If I don’t have ingredients on hand and we “need” ice cream, I typically purchase the French Vanilla from Trader Joe’s or Breyer’s French Vanilla (I may give up on these two brands due to the non-disclosure of their “natural flavor”– I’m doubtful it is beaver castoreum but I wish they would just disclose it).

What about the Non-Dairy Approach?

As a serious ice cream enthusiast, I never thought I’d venture into the realm of “non-dairy.” (Yes, I do like sorbet but it is in a class of its own.)

Recently, I went for a hike with some friends and we ended up discussing a non-dairy ice cream option using frozen bananas. I tried the recipe later that day. It only took a couple minutes to make and I plan on eating it again!! One of my boys liked it and the other didn’t.

Here’s the ingredients I used:

  • 2 ripe frozen bananas
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal
  • 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder

I put all the ingredients in a blender and the outcome was more like a yummy chocolate milk shake. You can experiment and use different amounts of the ingredients I listed above depending on your taste buds (more chocolate, anyone?).

It seems that there is controversy surrounding the consumption of milk/dairy in the Paleo community.  Those following a strict Paleo lifestyle have removed it from their diets. I suggest you check out Chris Kresser’s article, “Dairy: food of the Gods or neolithic agent of disease?” Prior to reading his article, you might have second guessed that bowl of ice cream,  but after reading his supporting material it might just give you permission to dive in!

My motto: Don’t over do it and become a detective when it comes to your health. After eating something, pay attention to your  body’s clues.

What about Ice Cream and Brain Freeze?

Eating ice cream too fast can make your head hurt to the point you feel like your brain is freezing (ice cream head ache = sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia– trying saying that 10 times fast!). Here’s how neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works:

The brain can’t actually feel pain despite its billions of neurons, Godwin said, but the pain associated with brain freeze is sensed by receptors in the outer covering of the brain called the meninges, where the two arteries meet. When the cold hits, it causes a dilation and contraction of these arteries and that’s the sensation that the brain is interpreting as pain. (Source: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center)

The two arteries mentioned in the article are the “internal carotoid artery, which feeds blood to the brain, and the anterior cerebral artery, which is where brain tissue starts.”

To end “brain freeze” stop eating/drinking cold items and push your tongue to the roof of your mouth. Your tongue or a lukewarm drink will bring the temperature in your mouth back to normal.

I wonder if President Reagan included a brain freeze disclaimer with his paperwork designating July National Ice Cream Month. It seems this helpful hint might have spared some celebration head aches!



Banana “Non-Dairy” Ice Cream Recipe: Katie & Gianni

International Dairy Foods Association. http://www.idfa.org/news-views/media-kits/ice-cream/july-is-national-ice-cream-month

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. “Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095335.htm>.

Chris Kresser.  http://chriskresser.com/dairy-food-of-the-gods-or-neolithic-agent-of-disease

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Super Microbes and Our Bionic Gut Flora

Superstar Microbes       I never knew gut bacteria could be so valiant in defending off germs!

Recently, I watched the online video, animated by Benjamin Arthur for NPR, about gut bacteria.  My favorite scene showed the “good” microbe spewing out its own antibiotics as it took on the “evil” microbes. Who knew microbes made their own antibiotics? Check out NPR.org and learn all about the human microbiome.  Along with the video, there is an article worth checking out, “Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds,” by Rob Stein written on November 18, 2013.  Science is in the early stages of researching how our gut bacteria may help solve neurological problems.

Here’s a couple other articles on probiotics and brain health to check out:

  • From the excerpts I’ve read of Julie Matthews’ Nourishing Hope book and blog, she seems to be a big proponent of probiotics  and that it can benefit those with ADHD, autism, and other neurological conditions. Her July 16, 2013 post, “Probiotics Affect Brain Function: Research Study” is an interesting read.

If I had a lot of time, I’d love to read all articles published by Glenn R. Gibson, a leading expert on prebiotics.  Prebiotics are the food our microbes eat.

The geek in me would like a copy of Handbook of Prebiotics, edited by Glenn R. Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid, for Christmas, but I’d also settle for some dark chocolate and wine (since they are considered prebiotic, of course!).

Here’s to feeding those microbes and keeping your brain happy and healthy!


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Grain and the Brain- Controversy

Is grain detrimental to brain health? Does the consumption of carbs cause Alzheimer’s Disease?

It seems that according to Dr. David Perlmutter’s book, “Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar– Your Brain’s Silent Killers,” the answers are “Yes!” and “Yes!” (I have not read the book yet!)

Interesting stuff? Yes! A controversial topic? For sure!

When I read an email from Sean Croxton of Undergroundwellness.com that he was going to interview Dr. Perlmutter about his new book on blogtalk radio, I tuned in for the replay.   http://www.blogtalkradio.com/undergroundwellness/2013/10/23/grain-brain-with-dr-david-perlmutter?inf_contact_key=20614f894b09316fa64357f76f6752adbc13f3c5aa7899b6c47a6973bf234c46

I listened in for 80+ minutes! It was quite a long interview. Sean took a few audience questions and I took a ton of notes (thanks, Jim Kwik for the note-taking tips!).

Dr. Perlmutter, neurologist and Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, recently appeared Monday, October 21, on the Dr. Oz Show, and his book made the New York Times Best-Seller List.

So.. with all the hype, what’s the truth here?

Before my pastor, Jack, starts a sermon he usually says something along the lines,”Don’t believe me just because I say it is true. Test the Scriptures. Let them have the final say.”

Well, what is our “biblical” standard in terms of nutrition?  How do we test the claims in Dr. Permutter’s book and what about the other diets out there like Vegan, Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Paleo, etc.? Do you do your research or are you blindly moving from one diet camp to the next?

I have friends on gluten-free diets, who do not have Celiac disease, and they report remarkable changes in their overall health after stopping wheat.  It seems Dr. Perlmutter’s patients benefit from his recommendations and I applaud Dr. Perlmutter’s work as a neurologist and nutritionist.  However, I need to further investigate some of his advice.

I also applaud the work of Julie Matthews, the author of “Nourishing Hope.”   Here’s what her website says about a gluten-free diet and nutrition in regards to autism:

“Significant scientific research and overwhelming experiential data indicate a link between autism symptoms and diet. As reported by Autism Research Institute (ARI) in a survey of thousands of parents; The Gluten- (wheat) and Casein- (dairy) free (GFCF) diet has a 69% improvement rating, and the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) has a 71% improvement rating.  That is, most parents who diligently apply diet and nutrition intervention report positive affect on behavior, cognition, general health, or well being.  In research funded by Autism Speaks, 85% of parents reported improvement with autism diets. This is affirmed when networking with other parents on our Facebook group: Nourishing Hope for Autism Diet Community, or in many other online support forums for those following autism diets.” http://nourishinghope.com/diet-for-autism/  

We can’t ignore the fact that people are experiencing improved cognition when they get rid of wheat in their diet.

There is research out there linking your gut health to your brain.  Chris Kresser, Beyond Paleo, has some intriguing things to say about the gut-brain axis in a podcast on his site (you can read the full text as well). http://chriskresser.com/rhr-the-gut-as-the-second-brain-group-b-strep-during-pregnancy-and-unwanted-synthroid-side-effects 

Chris’ site also contains good information on cultures that flourish on properly prepared grains.

And, lastly, let’s not forget the about the effects of dyes, chemicals, and preservatives in our food.  These also affect behavior and brain health in sensitive individuals. Check out my favorite pioneer in environmental medicine and allergies, Dr. Doris Rapp. http://www.drrapp.com/  

I would love to have lunch with Dr. Rapp and talk about this topic. I’m not sure if she would eat wheat, but I’m sure she would have some good input on grain and your brain!

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