STUFF I LIKE
Hi friends! Ok, I really like Disney (EPCOT!), Christmas, grass-fed steak, and (organic) wine. Also fairies, chivalry, non-humidity, good hair days, laughing, crying, and all things that sparkle. But to keep things more relatable, here's all the food/health/biohacking/life-related stuff I'm #obsessed with, and which I totally suggest you consider getting as well! Note this page is a perpetual work in progress!
As you likely know, I'm quite a wine lover! But unfortunately, government regulations make it near impossible to know just what is in any given wine. Guess what! If you react negatively to wine, you might actually be reacting to its additives (sugar, sulfites, stabilizers, colorizers, fining agents, etc.), pesticides (which are particularly concentrated in conventional grapes) and/or mycotoxins. For this reason, I strongly encourage you to purchase organic or biodynamic wines. Here are my go-to favs!
DRY FARM WINES: For the ultimate health and Paleo-friendly wines, look no further than Dry Farm Wines. I'm obsessed with this company! Ya see, many wineries (particularly in Europe) implement organic practices without the certification, due to financial costs, lack of need, or even the stigma of “organic” wines. Dry Farm Wines travels the world and conducts lab tests to find small, sustainable wineries which produce all natural, organic wines with no additives or pesticides, and which are low alcohol (<12.5%), sugar free (<1 g/L), and mycotoxin-free! Check out DryFarmWines.com/melanieavalon for more information, and to get a bottle for a penny with your first subscription, shipped straight to your door! #Wine #Winning
Check out Episode 26 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast, for an in-depth interview with Dry Farm Wines founder Todd White, all about what's really going on in commercial wines, and how to best pair wine with intermittent fasting!
MY FAV AFFORDABLE, CERTIFIED ORGANIC WINES: You can find decent-priced organic options at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and Sprouts. My favorites include Albero Tempranillo, Bonterra Cabernet, A to Z Pinot Noir, Candoni Pinot Grigio, and Emiliana Chardonnay!
Guys. Light is huge. It affects SO many things, particularly our circadian rhythms, energy levels, and sleep. Modern electronic blue light is stimulating, and actually shuts off melatonin production, making it quite difficult to fall asleep. (Check out the SLEEP section up next for how to deal with that!). I suggest hacking your light environment to rock your rhythms and world!
TheraBulb NIR-A Near Infrared Bulb (150 Watt): Infrared saunas are actually a great healing #thing, and not in a hocus-pocus way. But why pay lots of $$ to go to or buy a sauna, when you can get similar benefits from much more affordable bulbs? Yep, you can use these therabulbs for red light therapy, which can support energy production, metabolism, detox, and a host of other things! I suggest starting with the lower watt bulb, before upgrading later to the higher 250 watt, if desired. You'll also need a clamp to rig this baby up! I plan to write a post on all this in the future, and you can also check out Dave Aspreys book, Headstrong, for more details!
Philips Wake-Up Light with Colored Sunrise Simulation Alarm Clock & Sunset Fading Night light: Why wake up to a blaring alarm, when you can wake up to a "natural" soothing sunrise? This clock gentle wakes you up with light and various optional soothing sounds, allowing you to simulate a natural wake up rhythm at any time of day!
Smart LED Bulbs: I definitely recommend transitioning your lightbulbs to SMART LED bulbs. While they can seem like an expensive investment up front, they (supposedly) will last for years, and also save ya tons of money on the electric bill! But most importantly, you can set many of them up to specific color hues, allowing you simulate natural daylight during the day, and cut out melatonin-killing blue light at night. Some bulbs require entire systems and smart home hubs, while others are more a la carte. I currently use the linked LOHAS brand, which can be paired with and controlled by Amazon Echo (which I have!), though I intend to try and compare more versions in the future. (There's also a new Amazon Echo Plus with it's own Smart Home System.
Black Out Curtains: I recommend installing blackout curtains pronto. You'll be shocked by how much you'll sleep better when you block out all light at night!
f.lux: Install this FREE program on your computer. Like Now. The f.lux program slowly shifts the color tones of your computer to block sleep-disrupting, melatonin-thwarting blue light. Simply tell it when you want to get up, and it makes all the adjustments for you! You'll never look at your computer the same way again. Literally. (And if you ever accidentally turn it off for a second at night, you'll get hit by the overwhelming 'normal" light from your computer and immediately be hit with this crazy jolt and just be like... how was I looking at that at night??)
Uvex Skyper Blue Light Blocking Computer Glasses: These will honestly be the best (not even) $10 you could ever spend to enhance your sleep. Put them on a few hours before bed, especially when viewing electronics, and your sleep and life will thank you.
TrueDark™ Twilight Glasses: Ok, these are definitely more pricy than the Uvex, so I recommend starting with those, and then "upgrading" later if ya like. These glasses by Biohacked are specifically designed to block the entirety of all wavelengths which might stop melatonin production. You put them on and it's like.... I'm tired. I like to start my evening wind-down with the Uvex, and then transition to these Twilight glasses right before bed.
In general, I recommend getting most of your nutrition and vitality from healthy whole foods. That said, here are some supplements I do recommend!
Serrapeptase: Guys. I'm obsessed with Serrapeptase. Like for reals. At the expense of sounding crazy, it's an enzyme found in the digestive tract of the Japanese silkworm. When taken as a supplement, it is absorbed systemically, and breaks down protein build ups throughout the body. It's epic for tackling everything from sinuses (bye bye allergies!); breaking down fibroids, cysts and skin tags; combatting inflammation; and #alltheotherthings! So. Awesome. Take it in the fasted state, so it can enter your system and wield it's magic, rather than just digest your food.
Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is a superhero supplement for fighting toxins. Often used in water and air filters, activated charcoal is a processed form of carbon with a negatively charged, porous surface. It binds to positively charged chemicals and toxins, effectively ushering them through your digestive system. (In fact, activated charcoal is so effective at toxin elimination, that it is often used in hospitals after poison overdoses.) You can take it internally to clear out toxins (it itself is nontoxic), or even brush your teeth with activated charcoal for teeth whitening! Activated charcoal should not be taken with medications or other supplements, however, as it may bind to them as well, inhibiting their absorption. (Also, if there’s one way to possibly prevent hangovers... activated charcoal may be it! If I’m ever feeling icky from accidentally consuming some nebulous food - or from a bit too much wine - activated charcoal can immediately clear my head and restore a positive mood!)
HCL: Proper digestion is key for health, yet it often becomes distressed due to modern food choices, gut dysbiosis, leaky gut, antibiotics, stress, and PPIs, among other things. Hydrochloric acid (HCL) is naturally produced in the stomach to break down protein and fat, and supplementing with it may greatly enhance digestion in some individuals. (I personally use it with most meals, especially the protein-rich ones.) To use HCL, start with the minimum dosage, then slowly increase at each meal by one capsule, until you feel a warm sensation in your stomach. You can plateau at that number of capsules, before eventually titrating off, if desired. (Studies indicate supplemental HCL does not affect the gastrin hormone which regulates HCL production, so you shouldn’t have to worry about dependency. On the contrary, improved digestion from HCL supplementation may encourage an ultimate return to homeostasis and natural HCL production.)
Vitamin D: Vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in most populations. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin (technically a “prohormone”) important in the absorption and assimilation of nutrients. It is known as the “sunshine vitamin,” since the body synthesizes it from sun exposure. (Although it is also found in fatty fish, with smaller amounts in mushrooms and egg yolks.) Vitamin D is particularly involved with calcium absorption and deposition, supporting bone health; deficiencies may lead to bone turnover, osteoporosis, and bone fractures. It's also involved with the immune system, insulin secretion, heart functioning, blood pressure regulation, and brain development. Levels of vitamin D in the body markedly decrease with age, so supplementation may be key, especially during winter months. Body fat gain and high cholesterol also negatively affect vitamin D levels. Definitely consider adding a vitamin D supplement (vitamin D3 in particular) to your regime for optimal health! I love this more easily-assimilated liquid version by Thorne, which is paired with vitamin K2 for optimum absorption.
Prescript Assist: Ok, there are a LOT of probiotics out there, which can radically help (or sometimes hinder) gut function. We recommend experimenting with different probiotics to find the ones that work for you. That said, Prescript Assist is a soil-based probiotic which Melanie loves, and which works for lots of people with digestive distress. It's the type of bacteria we would have naturally been consuming on fruits and vegetables via dirt (which we we now spray with pesticides, yet wash squeaky clean. #irony). NOTE: I used to order this probiotic from Amazon, however, the distributor/manufacturer changed, and the Amazon version is now a different formula (despite the SAME listing.) I'm trying to ascertain who is the "original" manufacturer, but all I know is that ordering directly from Enviornmedica per the link I've listed, provides the product I've been using for years.
Atrantil: This supplement was formulated specifically for IBS-C, and has been shown to be pariticularly effective for eradicating the methane-producing archaebacteria. For all the details, check out my post: Atrantil Review: Can Tannins, Saponins, And Peppermint Fix Your IBS?
Alli-C Allicin: This is a compound found in garlic, and is great for dealing with candida and bad bacteria, to support a healthy gut microbiome. (You can also cook with freshly pressed garlic to get allicin naturally.)
Oil Of Oregano: Oregano is a member of the mint family, and can serve as a natural antimicrobial, with potent antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can use oregano to support your immune system, fight off a cold, kill parasites, or combat small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Oregano’s active plant phytochemials include thymol (a fungicide which can combat toxins) and carvacrol, which can combat bacterial infections. Oregano is powerful stuff, best used in short bouts for specific purposes, rather than as a daily supplement.
Bone And Meat Broth: Bone and meat broths are EPIC for gut healing. I recommend making your own - it's SUPER easy when you get the hang of it, and saves ya tonnssss of money! I provide instructions in What When Wine, or you can check out Ariane Resnick's The Bone Broth Miracle: How an Ancient Remedy Can Improve Health, Fight Aging, and Boost Beauty for TONS of details and recipes! Want to buy your own when traveling, in a pinch, or in the meantime? Check out the What When Wine Recipe Ingredient Recommendations page for an extensive list!
Collagen Peptides: These are fantastic for healing the gut lining and balancing inflammatory amino acid profiles. If you practice IF, consider breaking your fast with them! I currently use the Bulletproof Brand, but also recommend Vital Proteins. My recent research also indicates that marine based peptides may be superior to bovine-based. Check out Episode 18 of The Intermittent Fasting Podcast for more info!
BATH AND BEAUTY
Earthpaste Toothpaste: Minimal but healthy ingredients for epic teeth cleaning and remineralization, available in lemon twist, cinnamon, wintergreen, spearmint. They're minimally sweetened with xylitol, except for the unsweetened spearmint, which Melanie loves!
Dirty Mouth Toothpowder: Minimal but healthy ingredients for epic teeth cleaning and remineralization.
Bali Secrets Natural Deodroant: A fantastic all natural, aluminum free organic (wet) deodorant with minimal ingredients.
Green Tidings All Natural Deodorant: A fantastic all natural, aluminum free organic (dry) deodorant with minimal ingredients.
MEAT AND SEAFOOD
In the ideal world, we'd be getting our food from local farmers implementing sustainable, organic, practices. Still, there's a lot to be said for making things #easy. So here are my favorite accessible, go-to meat and seafood brands available in many mainstream stores. Keep in mind that, since both toxins and fat-soluble vitamins are stored in fat, it's more important to buy organic, grass-fed/pastured/etc. versions of meat for fattier cuts. For fish, I recommend referring to the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector for the fish species currently lowest in mercury, and high in sustainability. Want an extensive lowdown on farming methods and the meaning of labels? Check out What When Wine!
POULTRY: Whole Foods Organic Step 4 or 5 Chicken (Pastured versions start at Step 4, but you can skimp by on Step 3, which is "enhanced outdoor access," if ya must!), Kroger's Simple Truth Organic Free Range Chicken, Marie's Free-Range Duck (Whole Foods)
RED MEAT: Whole Foods Organic Step 4 or 5 Steak/ Beef/ Lamb/etc. (Pastured versions start at Step 4, but you can skimp by on Step 3, which is "enhanced outdoor access," if ya must), Target's Simply Balanced Organic Grass-fed Steaks And Beef, Kroger's Simple Truth Organic Grass-fed Steaks, Sprouts Frozen Ground Kangaroo (Not even kidding. Kangaroo is yummy, gamey, and slightly lean. And since kangaroo are not farmed, this is naturally "wild"!)
PALEO-FRIENDLY BAKING INGREDIENTS
For my recommended Paleo-friendly cooking ingredients (oils, seasonings, flours, sweeteners, stocks, etc.), check out WHAT WHEN WINE RECIPES: Ingredient Recommendations. These come in particular handy when making any of What When Wine's amazing gluten-free 50 recipes created by chef Ariana Resnick!
Instant Pot: If you invest in just one kitchen cooker, I wholeheartedly 100% recommend the Instant Pot, which combines a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer! So. Many. Things. But the true beauty is the PRESSURE COOKER, which drastically reduces cooking times by cooking with pressure. It's great for breaking down inflammatory plant compounds while maintaining nutrients, and can even turn tough, collagen-rich shanks—which would take all day in a slow cooker—into delicious tenderness in under an hour! And the best thing to make with it? Bone broth!!
What When Wine: Lose Weight And Feel Great With Paleo-Style Meals, Intermittent Fasting, And Wine
(Melanie Avalon): Am I allowed to put my book on this list? #Doingint. Guys, this book is gonna be awesome, I promise!! It covers finding your personal Paleo and IF protocol, the health benefits of wine, a social guide to IF, 50 AMAZING gluten-free recipes, and so much more!
Delay, Don't Deny: Living an Intermittent Fasting Lifestyle (Gin Stephens): My Intermittent Fasting Podcast cohost's book on on IF and OMAD, including her personal dieting history, the science of IF, and how to rock the IF lifestyle!
Feast Without Fear: Food and the Delay, Don't Deny Lifestyle
(Gin Stephens): My Intermittent Fasting Podcast cohost's NEW book on finding your personal diet protocol, including gan overview of genetic differences, the individual gut microbiome, and other factors! Learn how to craft an individual eating style that makes you feel your very best, while still eating the foods you love!
The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self (Charles Eisenstein): A fantastic book if you want to cultivate a healthy mindset around food, your body, and/or deal with thoughts of restrictive eating.
The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet (Robb Wolf): The foundational Paleo Bible! This is how I became a Paleo gal!
Wired To Eat: Turn Off Cravings, Rewire Your Appetite for Weight Loss, and Determine the Foods That Work for You (Robb Wolf) : Writen by my Paleo hero, this book goes into great detail about the individuality of glycemic control, and provides a special protocol for determining the best foods for your blood sugar.
The Bulletproof Diet: Lose up to a Pound a Day, Reclaim Energy and Focus, Upgrade Your Life (Dave Asprey): All the details on the low-carb, mostly whole foods Bulletproof Diet, which seeks to minimize toxins in your diet.
Head Strong: The Bulletproof Plan to Activate Untapped Brain Energy to Work Smarter and Think Faster-in Just Two Weeks (Dave Asprey): I heart this book so much! It's great if you're obsessed with biohacking (or want to start) and want to rock your mitochondria to supercharge your life.
The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat: (Stephan Guyenet) A fantastic book on how the brain's neurological circuits and hypothalamus affect appetite, cravings, satiety, body weight, and more!
The Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat (Paul Jaminet and Shou-Ching Jaminet: This book takes a scientific look at which foods perfectly suit our bodies to support health and reverse disease. It's a whole foods, Paleo-ish approach, but with a higher carb intake from sweet fruits and "safe starches."
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Charles Duhigg): Learn all about the neurological wiring of habits, and how to change them for the better.
The Happiness Project: Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun (Gretchen Rubin): In this super fun book, Gretchen Rubin retells her experiment to do all the things which supposedly make us "happy"... to see what happens!
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea - Even Water - Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers (Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page): This super dense yet super approachable book is EPIC for all the info on wine, and finding the perfect wine pairing for literally anything (like... just everything!). Plus, it looks super nice on the coffee table.