Back to School- Tools for Healthy Lunches

If you have kids in almost any Northwest Arkansas school, their first day of school was yesterday. For me, this means planning lots of lunches. My kids have been taking lunch to school for years and I’ve learned lots during this time. Learn from my mistakes. Save yourself. Please.

Stainless Steel, Fancy Schmancy Bento Boxes, etc.- While I love all of these things and have purchased them, I found my kids tended to lose too many things. That adds up. Quickly. Especially when your child loses a $20 stainless steel container in the first week of school and then loses a lunchbox maybe a week after that and then a water bottle and then… you get the idea. 🙂

I realized I needed a more cost effective way to send the kids real food lunches that was mostly waste free and non-toxic.

Glass containers- My first idea was glass containers. I take my lunch in glass containers, it’s cost effective, unless your kid drops things like mine do….and then I realized, maybe this isn’t a great idea. Most schools don’t allow glass containers anyways and honestly, it’s a pretty good rule. Most kids can’t be trusted with glass. Especially teenagers. Their brains are still developing and they don’t always make good decisions. My 14 year old son likes to do this thing called ‘ water bottle flipping ‘ and I could see him doing this with a glass bottle, dropping the bottle instead of catching it and well yeah… you see where this is going.

Ziploc/ Gladware-  I use either ziploc or gladware disposable plastic containers for items that are cold or room temperature. This has worked great. If they get lost or broken (seems impossible but it happens) it isn’t a huge loss. They also have a pretty wide variety of sizes and they have some that are sectioned like bento boxes. Check Amazon for those, they aren’t as easy to find in stores.

Here’s a pic of most of the usual containers that get used in lunch boxes in our house. We use the stainless steel thermos for hot items, usually dinner leftovers from the night before.  I found the thermos pictured at Walmart recently and it was less than $10 and also a pretty good size for teenage appetites. The little bitty round containers are for sauces or dressing for salad. Beverages are either water in their reusable water bottles or sometimes a can of La Croix.

Now that you have an idea of which containers to use, head over to Nom Nom Paleo. She has some great posts with recipes and ideas for paleo/real food style lunches.

Why is Sourdough Bread Easily Digestible?


Have you heard that traditionally made sourdough bread can be more easily digested than your standard white or wheat bread?


Do you know why?


Phytic Acid.


It’s found in wheat and can be a big trouble maker. Phytic acid can contribute to digestive issues like bloating and flatulence. It also inhibits enzymes in the gut that help to digest protein and starches. This means that part of your problem is the phytic acid keeps those enzymes from working that you need to help you digest everything else you’re eating, not just the bread. 


In sourdough, the lactic acid bacteria produce an enzyme called phytase, which effectively ‘pre-digests’ the phytic acid during the extended fermentation. This partially neutralises the effects of the phytic acid


During the long slow fermentation process of making sourdough bread, an enzyme called phytase is formed. Phytase partially breaks down the phytic acid and then makes it easier to digest.


Traditionally made sourdough bread also has a lower gluten content. The long slow fermentation process also helps to break down some of the gluten.


Now, this doesn’t mean you can just head to the nearest grocery store and buy a loaf of sourdough. Most store bought bread is not made with a long, slow fermentation process. Check your ingredients and if it contains yeast, then it’s not made with a sourdough starter, so it’s not the real thing. Check out this article by The Healthy Home Economist for more information on spotting ‘fakes.’


You can always make your own sourdough bread. Then you know it’s the real thing. Dr. Mandy recommends this e-book

Hydration and Spinal Health: The role that hydration plays in preventing degenerative discs

Republished from July 9, 2013

Hydration is a subject most people know they need to improve, but did you know that it is also essential to be properly hydrated for spinal health? Hydration is important for our circulatory system, lymphatic system, excretory system, our skin, muscles, digestion, and brain. However, I want to help you understand why it is important for our spine in particular, our vertebral disc and nerves. Between every vertebra and spinal bone there is a soft cushion called a vertebral disc. You might have heard of this when people say they have a slipped or bulging disc. These discs serve several very important duties in the spine: they give structure and support, they connect bones together, they protect the spinal cord and nerves, and they allow for movement of the spine.

Protecting the spinal cord and nerves

In this article, I am going to focus on the duty of protecting the spinal cord and nerves. To understand this better, you need to know a little bit more about the anatomy of your spine and discs. You see, directly behind the vertebral bodies and disc (which are stacked on top of each other to make up the spine), is the spinal canal which houses the spinal column/cord. The spinal column/cord is the lifeline that sends energy/electricity from your brain, down the spinal cord, out the nerves at the level of every vertebra/disc, to all of your organs, tissues, and cells. This energy flow brings life to every part of your body. Without it, your brain and body would die (a very important area to protect, don’t you think?)

Between every bone, or vertebra in the spine, is a vertebral disc. This disc adds cushion and space between each bone so that nerves can exit out of little holes in the sides of the spine. These nerves go to every part of the body. so, if you have nice tall, healthy disc you will have holes where the nerves come out of the spine that are wide open and not closed off. On the contrary, if you have degenerating and thin discs you will have holes where the nerves come out that are narrow and closed off.

A few different types of things can occur that will obstruct the opening where the nerves exit that can potentially pinch down on the delicate nerve tissue. You can have a bulging disc, degenerative disc, subluxation, etc. (Other things like spinal stenosis, tumors, etc. can also occur.)

Bulging Disc

Most people have heard of a bulging disc, and to understand why a disc can bulge out onto the nerve, you need to understand the anatomy of the disc itself. Around the outside of the disc is cartilage. On the inside of the disc is fluid. A bulging disc is when the fluid from the inside of the disc pushes out and stretches the cartilage. When the outer cartilage is stretched, it can hit the nerve or the spinal cord. If this does happen, there are very specific things that can be done to help decrease the size of the bulge and take the pressure off of the nerve or spinal cord. This includes chiropractic adjustment, traction/decompression, hydration, or even surgery if it is bulging beyond repair.

Degenerative Disc

To understand how a degenerative disc can pinch down on a nerve, you must know the disc provides space between each vertebra. This space provides maximum opening for the nerves to exit from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. As the disc degenerates and becomes smaller/thinner, so does the hole where the nerve comes out. As the hole gets smaller, the nerve becomes pinched. This is where proper hydration is so important….do you remember what the inside of the disc is made out of? Fluid! What would happen to that fluid if you were chronically dehydrated? The fluid in the disc would dehydrate as well, and the disc would get thinner and pinch on the nerve. If this happened and blocked the nerve energy/electricity going out to the body, how would you feel? Some would say pain and they would be partially right. The truth is that symptoms are a bad indicator of the health of your body. A great analogy of this is looking at the health of our teeth… it is common (not normal) for people to have crooked teeth and cavities in their teeth without symptoms. Have you ever gone to the dentist for a regular checkup and you felt fine, but they found cavities? It’s the same with your spine. The majority of the population actually has a bulging disc and degeneration without pain. This is why it is so important for everyone to have to have their spine checked. These things can be prevented and corrected just like cavities and crooked teeth.

How and why does a disc degenerate or bulge

Hydration is an important part in preventing degeneration, but the most common culprit is due to injuries. Injuries can be big or small. Some examples of big injuries are car accidents, sports injuries, slips and falls, birth process, etc. Small injuries can include the birth process, learning to walk, falling off of a bike or playground equipment, sitting for hours with poor posture, etc. Sitting with poor posture and all of these injuries are to your spine what sugar is to your teeth!

How often do you or your family members have these types of injuries? On a daily basis! If you or a family member has never had your spine checked and maintained your entire life, what are the chances that you could have something going on? Let me ask that another way, if you or a family member had never had your teeth checked and maintained your entire life, what are the chances that there is something going on?

All of these injuries can cause your spinal vertebra to become misaligned and locked up. (subluxated) Subluxations will cause alterations and degeneration of the disc tissue leading to bluges and thinning of the disc. This can happen at any age. The youngest I have seen degeneration in the spine is at age 14. I have also seen a 91 year or without any degeneration because her spine was subluxation free.

Answers and Hope

So what is the answer to all of this? Have your spine and your family members spines checked early and often by a corrective/wellness chiropractor throughout your entire life. Stay well hydrated, stretch and exercise, have good nutrition, focus on healthy thoughts! We all have stress and big and small injuries throughout our life that can subluxate or degenerate our spine, so just like you take care of your teeth; make sure you also take care of your spine!

Yours in Health and Wellness,

Denny Warren, DC, CCWP


The BEST way to serve Bone Broth with Greens!

Want to try the Bone Broth Greens but not sure of the best way to serve it? The bone broth greens have a very “grassy” flavor. They are made with oat grass juice and alfalfa grass juice. Both are great sources of  vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties. I’ve mixed them in with a green juice that also had apples, and it was good but I still felt like a pastured animal drinking my grass instead of munching on it. I tried it in hot water too, like I do with the pure or the turmeric and that wasn’t a great idea. My next attempt was in a smoothie with coconut milk (almond or cashew would work too) and frozen tropical fruit. My bag contained mango, papaya, and most importantly pineapple. I also threw a half a ripe banana in my smoothie too. I didn’t add honey or maple syrup but you could do that too if you prefer something sweeter.  Now, I just need a beach and a little umbrella in my drink.:)

Dr. Mandy’s Top 3 Paleo Priorities!

You don’t have to change everything at once. It can take a lot of time to learn a new way to eat and prepare food. Dr. Mandy recommends starting with replacing highly inflammatory fats with pastured butter, ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, or bacon fat. Once that doesn’t feel “hard” anymore, move on to replacing your protein sources. Northwest Arkansas has multiple options to source grass fed beef, pastured chicken, pork and eggs. Wild caught seafood instead of farmed seafood can be found at Ozark Natural Foods and other health food stores in the area. Once you’ve figured all of that out, focus on your fruits and veggies. The best way to do this is by joining a CSA (community supported agriculture.) When you join a CSA, you pay a lump sum payment at the beginning of the season and then get a box of weekly produce. The types of produce vary every week and are a great way to support local farmers and try out something new.