Lifestyle Changes to Prevent and Reverse Memory Loss

Last week’s newsletter explored diet and lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s and how your diet can impact your brain. Check it out here in case you missed it
Your food and lifestyle choices determine if you are at high risk for developing memory loss or not. Today, I want to give you tips on how to create a lifestyle your brain will love as well as foods that nourish your brain (and also ones that are harmful).


Exercise

We all need physical movement to be healthy, especially if your work entails a lot of sitting down. Exercise is also an important therapeutic strategy to reduce risk for dementia.
 
Aerobic exercise uses oxygen to meet the metabolic demand of the body as the cells convert more glucose into fuel or energy. The heart then pumps blood faster to meet the oxygen demand and to eliminate the carbon dioxide, as a byproduct of metabolism. This is why aerobic exercise is also referred to as cardio. Examples include walking, jogging, cycling, running, dancing, and swimming.
Take a moment to evaluate your lifestyle. From 1 to 10, where 1 is sedentary and 10 is active, where are you?
Depending on your answer, look for opportunities where you can improve. For example, squeeze in a 10-minute walk every day. It’s a lot better than nothing! Current recommendations are 150 minutes of walking weekly or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise. Start where you can. Any amount is better than none.

Sleep Well

Poor sleep is a risk factor for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Want to maintain brain health even when you age? Aim for at least 8 hours of quality sleep every time you hit the sheets at night.
 
If you don’t get enough sleep, your brain cannot form pathways for new learning and memories. You might notice that when you lack sleep, it’s harder for you to concentrate and respond quickly.
Consider sleep to be as vital as food and water.

Manage Stress Effectively

Everybody deals with stress, but the way you manage it is a game changer. Stress management techniques such as imagery, yoga, deep breathing, friend time, exercise, and my favorite HeartMath are all helpful. Why I love HeartMath tools for managing my stress so much is because you can do them anywhere and anytime (and that is a great thing because stress can hit us anywhere and anytime…the sooner you can address it, the better!). One super easy HeartMath tool is called Heart-Focused Breathing and all you need to do is to focus your attention on your heart and imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart or chest area. Make your breath a little slower and deeper than usual.
Doesn’t that feel great?!
Here are 10 other simple tips to help manage and reduce your stress levels.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Certain foods can badly affect your brain. The 7 Worst Foods for Your Brain are:

  • Sugary drinks and food – This causes brain inflammation and memory impairment.
  • Refined carbs – This refers to sugars and highly processed grains like white flour; it also causes insulin resistance.
  • Foods high in trans-fats – These are chemically modified unsaturated fats that have a negative effect on the brain. You don’t need to worry about the trans-fats that are naturally occurring in small amounts in some foods like dairy. Our concern is the artificial trans-fats in shortening, margarine, frosting, microwavable popcorn, frozen foods, and so on.
  • Highly processed foods – Avoid these because they usually are high in sugar, added fats, and salt.
  • Aspartame – An artificial sweetener! Definitely a no-no! Phenylalanine, one of aspartame’s components crosses the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and disrupts neurotransmitter production.
  • Alcohol – Drinking a glass of wine here and there may be fine, but excessive alcohol consumption is not healthy. Binge drinking and drinking to the point of slurred speech is particularly damaging to your brain.
  • Fish high in mercury – Though fish is a good source of protein and healthy fats, you must be aware that fish is highly susceptible to accumulating mercury, most especially predatory fish such as shark and swordfish. Mercury is neurotoxic and can permanently damage the brain.

Instead focus on eating foods that make your brain function optimally. Make sure you get enough healthy fats like omega 3 fats from fatty fish (like salmon and sardines), coconut oil, extra-virgin coconut oil, avocados, eggs, nuts, and seeds.
 
It is also good if you can supplement your diet with high quality multivitamins and other food supplements for brain function, such as probiotics, since good gut health is crucial in brain function as well.
 
These are simple lifestyle changes that can create a big impact in your life, especially during your senior years. Won’t you love the elderly version of you who is still able to think clearly and enjoy all the good memories you’re creating?
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health, so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease through Diet

Did you know that Alzheimer’s is now the seventh leading cause of death?
 
Over 25 million people in the world are suffering from dementia, mostly Alzheimer’s disease. And by 2050, Alzheimer’s is predicted to affect 106 million people worldwide!
 
Alzheimer’s has a tremendous impact on affected individuals, caregivers, and society. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s can take its toll on your health.

The good news is… We now know of a way to prevent or even reverse cognitive decline or memory loss! 
 
Alzheimer’s doesn’t happen abruptly. It is a slowly progressing illness that may start when you are younger, taking years and years to develop.
 
Age and genetic susceptibility contribute to Alzheimers. However, there are factors that will put you into a higher risk of developing this illness such as cigarette smoking, obesity, and diabetes.
 
Yes! Although age and genes are unavoidable, we do still have control over our lifestyle.
 
Replacing harmful habits with healthy practices is where you have a huge opportunity.

Alzheimer’s and Blood Sugar

 The same enzyme that clears insulin also clears amyloid plaque from your brain which is why high blood sugar/high insulin/diabetes puts you at risk for Alzheimer’s!
Swapping out sugar and refined carbs with nutrient-dense carbs and healthy sugar alternatives is a huge step in the right direction to preventing disease. Want bread? Try this as a healthy and delicious option!
Healthy fats are also critical to the health of your whole body and that is another layer you have control over (avocados, nuts and seeds, olive oil, butter rather than soy/corn/canola oil). 
High sugar, refined carbs and refined oils can lead to diabesity, a condition where diabetes and obesity coexist and manifests insulin resistance.
 
Insulin resistance?
 
Insulin is supposed to carry glucose (sugar from food) from the blood to the cells to be used as fuel or energy. What happens when you have insulin resistance is that your cells do not respond to insulin. Because of this, glucose builds up in the blood and the body compensates by producing more insulin. The blood ends up having high glucose levels (hyperglycemia) and high insulin levels (hyperinsulinemia). Now, when there is too much sugar in the brain, it becomes inflamed and damages the brain, starting a brain-damage cascade that leads to the decline in memory and other thinking skills, eventually leading to the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
 
Can you now see the connection of eating high-sugar, high-carbs, low-fat diet and Alzheimer’s? This is why scientists consider Alzheimer’s “Type 3 Diabetes”.
 
According to research, if you have diabetes, you are four times at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, and if you have pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome, you are more likely to have pre-dementia or mild cognitive disorder (MCD).

An Ounce of Prevention

What would you do to change this? How do we prevent Alzheimer’s?
 
You can start by modifying your lifestyle, especially your food choices. Start by ditching or reducing the foods/drinks that spike your blood sugar such as sugar, refined carbs, and alcohol, and take healthy fats such as avocados, walnuts, and almonds.
 
Next week, I will give you several lifestyle tips that your brain will love.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health, so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~Rebecca 

Are You Sympathetic Dominant? What It Is and How to Deal with It

Have you heard about sympathetic dominance?

Sympathetic dominance is basically being in constant “fight or flight” mode–and feeling unable to switch this off!  Work, family, kids, social demands, unhealthy relationships…food choice, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, not enough down time–all contribute to becoming a sympathetic dominant. Let’s talk more about this dominance and how it effects your health.

Understanding How the Nervous System Works

Your nervous system has two major parts: the central nervous system, which basically is the brain and spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system, which refers to the nerves outside the central nervous system.

The Peripheral Nervous System

The Peripheral Nervous System has 2 parts:

  • Somatic Nervous System
  • Autonomic Nervous System

The somatic nervous system is commonly known as voluntary nervous system. This consists of peripheral nerve fibers that carry sensory information from the distal parts of the body going to the central nervous system to be interpreted. In addition, the somatic nervous system also contains nerve fibers that enable movement of the skeletal muscles. For example, when you touch a hot object, the sensation is transferred by the sensory nerves to the brain, and as a response, the brain will cause the skeletal muscles of the hand to withdraw immediately, through the peripheral motor nerves. Of course, this happens in less than a second.

As the name implies, we have full control of this branch of the nervous system. Skeletal muscles move and rest when we want them to.

This is not so with the autonomic (involuntary nervous system). We don’t have conscious control over it, meaning it operates automatically–on its own.

The autonomic nervous system makes body functions such as heartbeat, digestion, and breathing possible. This nervous system provides innervation (supply of nerves) to the smooth muscles of the internal organs and glands so that they can carry on their function accordingly and secrete hormones as needed.

This nervous system is further classified into two branches:

Sympathetic Nervous System (Arousing/Fight-or-Flight)

The sympathetic nervous system is activated when there is a trigger, such as a sense of threat or danger. When this happens your body moves on to the fight-or-flight mode. Your heartbeat races, you look pale and cold, your pupils dilate, you have a burst of energy, and so on. 

The fight-or-flight mode, also called acute stress response, is just basically a response to stress, whether it be mental or physical. This concept was first introduced by an American physiologist, Walter Cannon, in the 1920’s. Cannon observed that our body undergoes a series of rapid changes to face a threatening experience or an emergency.

Upon the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline. These two neurotransmitters cause bodily changes such as rapid heart beat, increased breathing, and shunting of blood from the skin to the muscles, and giving you more energy to be ready to take action.

Once the threat is gone, it takes about 20-60 seconds until the body returns to its relaxed state. However, as I said earlier, our 21st-century lifestyle brings us chronic stress which keeps us in constant fight-or-flight mode!

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system operates is your “rest and digest” branch. Its purpose is to conserve and store energy, regulate body functions such as digestion and urination, and promote healing and repair all over your body.

Are You Sympathetic Dominant?

Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are necessary for maintaining your body’s stable or balanced condition called homeostasis. However, given the number of stressors we face each day, we can easily become sympathetic dominant.
 
Check out these common symptoms of sympathetic dominance:

  • Shoulder and neck tightness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Gut problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Light sleep and vivid dreams
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sugar or salt cravings
  • Feeling cold
  • Irritability
  • Water retention
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Reduced appetite

If you don’t have these symptoms, good for you! If you have, there’s still good news for you. We can help your autonomic nervous system work in balance. Because our problem here is the dominance of the fight-or-flight reaction, which leads to becoming anxious and unable to relax, the following methods are effective for stimulating the “rest and digest” mode:

Avoid Multitasking

I know it’s tempting to do as many tasks at once as possible, BUT multitasking results in a loss of focus and more errors. Also, having to deal with lots of things that demand your attention simultaneously increases your stress level…which becomes a trigger to the fight-or-flight mode.

Do Relaxation Techniques

Simply put: We are going to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so that it will take over and allow your body to rest and heal. Getting a massage and attending a yoga class can help, but there are also relaxation techniques that you can do right away.

  • Imagery – Imagining you are in a peaceful, calming place while you engage all your senses.
  • Abdominal breathing – Put your hand on your stomach; if it slightly rises up and down when you breathe, you are doing the right thing.
  • Mindfulness – According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with intention.
  • Stimulate your lips – The lips are full of parasympathetic fibers, and stimulating the lips mean activating the rest and digest mode.
  • Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Bodywork.

Additionally, here are 4 more great ways to get out off the fight-flight hamster wheel:

Reduce Caffeine Intake

There are over 20 harmful effects of caffeine. Specifically, when you rely on coffee first thing in the morning, caffeine forces your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol (stress hormone). If you are struggling with sleep, anxiety, or digestive problems, reducing caffeine is really important. You can also try drinking water when you first wake up and wait until 10 am before having caffeine. Having caffeine with your first meal (with some fat and protein) is also helpful.

Get the Sleep You Need

An average American only sleeps 4-6 hours a night while an average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Not having enough sleep weakens your immune system, decreases your cognitive function, leads to weight imbalance, blood sugar imbalance, and eventually lowers your quality of life.

Reset your circadian rhythm by having a set time to sleep and wake up. If you’ve been battling with insomnia, you can try diffusing lavender essential oil in your room, dimming the light, taking a warm bath, and turning off screens an hour before bedtime.

Exercise Smart

To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, choose grounding exercises over stimulating and high-movement exercises. Yoga, pilates, and simply walking are nourishing to the nervous system in chronic stress in a flight or fight mode.

Modify Your Diet

What you eat affects how you feel. While no two people are exactly alike in their optimal diet, it’s ideal to choose a wide variety of fresh organic foods whenever possible to fuel your body.

Bananas, broccoli sprouts, bison, bone broth, celery, Celtic sea salt, camu camu, cauliflower, cottage cheese, kiwi, liver, orange juice, and papaya are some of the foods that support the adrenals.

Most of the foods mentioned above also support the nervous system with the addition of avocados, carrots, organ meats, oysters, salmon, sunflower seeds, coconut water, cherries, leafy greens, walnuts, and collagen.

Also, did you know that certain foods like Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and chamomile can be helpful to manage stress and anxiety?

Start Taking Action

Try following two or more of these suggestions to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Track your progress with a journal –It makes it more intentional and shows how committed you are to making necessary lifestyle changes so that you can finally make yourself rest, digest, and heal.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. 

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

How Healing Your Gut Can Help with Anxiety

Eating healthy food affects both your physical health and your mental health. 

In this week’s newsletter, I want to shed some further light on the connection between the gut and brain and how you can relieve your anxiety symptoms naturally.

In the US alone, 40 million adults age 18 and older are affected by anxiety. That is 18.1% of the population! While, genetics, personality, and life events are risk factors in developing anxiety, brain chemistry plays an important role. And what hugely influences your brain chemistry? You may have guessed it: your gut health! And since nowadays more people are eating processed and unhealthy foods, this be the reason why more people are prone to developing anxiety.

So now let’s focus on how the gut affects brain function and how to relieve anxiety symptoms.

The Brain-Gut Connection

There is a sort of communication between your brain and gut. We call this the brain-gut axis. This communication is facilitated by the nerves, neurons, hormones, and the gut’s microbiota (bacterial family).

The first proof of this connection was discovered by the Nobel Prize physiologist Ivan Pavlov. When you see, smell, or taste food, your stomach and pancreas are stimulated to release acid that helps in digestion. This happens because of the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve (nerve that emerges from the brain) that is responsible for the sensory and motor functions of the throat, abdomen and other nearby organs. Notably, the vagus nerve also sends information from the gut to the brain.

Additionally, studies have shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease have weak vagus nerve function, resulting in reduced gut function. In animal studies, stress stops the vagus nerve from sending information to the brain, and this results in various gut problems. However, a study involving mice shows that feeding them with probiotics resulted in reduced stress hormones in their blood. Interestingly (and sadly), this effect of probiotics had no effect when the vagus nerve was cut.

This proves that the connection between the brain and gut affects gastric function as well as brain function.

Now let’s move on to how the gut microbiota affect brain function and vice versa.

Over the previous 2 newsletters, we tackled GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is an example of a neurotransmitter. The brain has many neurotransmitters, and they are responsible for controlling your feelings and emotions. What’s interesting is that many of these neurotransmitters are produced by the cells and the trillions of bacteria in the gut. In fact, your gut microbiome (the diverse community of bacteria in the gut) is responsible for producing GABA.

Aside from producing neurotransmitters, your gut microbiome also produce chemicals that affect brain function and metabolize bile acids and amino acids that affect the brain. Yes, although bile acids are produced by the liver to digest and absorb fats, they also affect the brain.

You may also recall something called leaky gut. In leaky gut, the inflammatory toxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) made by some bacteria in your gut passes through to the bloodstream. This is associated with brain disorders such as depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.

Dysbiosis and Anxiety

When there is dysbiosis (an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut), different illnesses can occur, including ones that affect mental functioning, such as anxiety.

So going from here, we can conclude that keeping the gut bacteria healthy can improve brain health. In a study by Yang, et. al. that was published in the Journal of General Psychiatry, “more than half of the studies included showed it was positive to treat anxiety symptoms by regulation of the intestinal microbiota.”

Probiotic and Non-Probiotic Interventions

There are two ways to keep the gut microbiome healthy.

One is taking probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you because they keep your gut healthy.

Second, is non-probiotic intervention, which means making healthier choices with your diet. Start by ditching sodas, sweeteners, prepackaged and processed foods. Begin eating vegetables, clean sources of proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and eggs. Let’s look into a few dietary specifics that can help support a healthy microbiome.

Omega-3 fats
These are found in fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and dietary supplements. Studies show that Omega 3s increase gut bacteria and also reduce the risk of brain disorders.

Fermented Foods
Fermented foods can alter brain activity. Examples are fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and cheese.

Fiber-Rich Foods
When we eat fiber, it remains unchanged until it reaches the colon. Your stomach doesn’t have the enzymes to digest fiber. It’s only in the colon that fiber is broken down by your bacteria that use fiber as their food supply. The byproduct of this breakdown of fats by the gut bacteria are called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFA’s are then used by your gut cells as fuel. When SCFA and other metabolites enter the blood, they also act as signals to the brain and regulate the immune system and inflammation.

Polyphenol-Rich Foods
Polyphenols are plant chemicals processed by gut bacteria. The metabolites act directly as neurotransmitters, making polyphenols improve cognitive function. Examples of polyphenol-rich foods are cocoa, green tea, olive oil, and coffee.

Tryptophan-Rich Foods
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that boosts serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes called the happy chemical because it is associated with happiness and a positive mood. Low serotonin has been linked to mood disorders and depression. Salmon, eggs, spinach, and seeds are rich in tryptophan.

The gut and brain affect each other through nerve connections and neurotransmitters, and the gut microbiota is essential in maintaining a healthy and functional brain-gut axis. So if you want to improve your brain function, particularly improving your anxiety symptoms, these are some tools you can use.

That’s all for today. Please be sure to discuss changes to your diet, medication, or supplement regimen with a trusted health professional to be sure it is safe and right for you.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. 

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Stress, anxiety, sleep and GABA

Are you having difficulty with sleep or battling with stress or anxiety?

GABA deficiency might be the culprit. 

GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain and functions as a neurotransmitter. Being one of the major neurotransmitters, it is involved in the communication among brain cells. And guess what? Your gut health and good gut bugs influence your GABA levels!
This is just another reason why I focus on building up gut health. So much of your wellbeing depends on how healthy your gut is.

So how does a GABA deficiency lead to difficulty with sleeping and increased levels of stress and anxiety?

GABA is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter–meaning, it lowers the activity of the nerve cells in your brain and in your central nervous system. In short, it calms your mind and helps your body to relax. Having enough GABA in your brain helps you get your needed sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and create a calm mood. It also, ironically, helps with focus by suppressing things you’re not paying attention to so you don’t get overstimulated. Interesting!

Imagine GABA as your neurons’ brake. Once there is a trigger, neurons start firing electrical signals that serve as a form of communication to their neighboring cells. Glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, is responsible for the neurons’ excitability (like putting your foot on the gas pedal). GABA serves as a brake to stop the neurons from firing after their job is done. Without GABA, the brain gets overstimulated.

Did you know that GABA is also known as “Nature’s Valium”?

The feeling of happiness and relaxation is attributed in having enough GABA in your brain. In fact, it is important that all the brain chemicals are in balanced levels in order for you to experience a balanced mood. If you notice that you don’t feel balanced, are easily triggered to feel anxious, having difficulty with sleep, finding it hard to focus and relax, or having mood swings, your gut and GABA levels may need supporting.

Are you experiencing the following symptoms?

  • You’re filled with dread and have a knot in your stomach for no obvious reason.
  • You’re frequently late because you’re too disorganized to make appointments on time.
  • You’re often doing many things at once, but, at the end of the day, have little to show for your efforts.
  • Even when things are going well, you find new things to worry about.
  • You can’t relax and racing thoughts keep you up at night.
  • Your heart pounds or beats erratically for no reason.
  • You rely on high carbohydrate foods, drugs, or alcohol to relax.

If you answered yes to several of these symptoms, you may be low in GABA and may wonder why.

There are several possibilities. There are inherited disorders of GABA metabolism. However, your lifestyle plays an important role in developing GABA deficiency. Stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and gluten intolerance are cited as causes of GABA deficiency according to the Harvard Medical School researcher Datis Kharrazian, discusses in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?

The first step in repairing proper brain is to dial in the best diet for YOUR body (one size doesn’t fit all!) and create healthy lifestyle habits like rock solid stress management tools. This may also include some targeted gut healing. Please watch out for next week’s newsletter as I will discuss GABA supplements, the pros and cons, and what are other options to increase your GABA levels.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. 

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Stress, anxiety, sleep and GABA

Are you having difficulty with sleep or battling with stress or anxiety?

GABA deficiency might be the culprit. 

GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain and functions as a neurotransmitter. Being one of the major neurotransmitters, it is involved in the communication among brain cells. And guess what? Your gut health and good gut bugs influence your GABA levels!
This is just another reason why I focus on building up gut health. So much of your wellbeing depends on how healthy your gut is.

So how does a GABA deficiency lead to difficulty with sleeping and increased levels of stress and anxiety?

GABA is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter–meaning, it lowers the activity of the nerve cells in your brain and in your central nervous system. In short, it calms your mind and helps your body to relax. Having enough GABA in your brain helps you get your needed sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and create a calm mood. It also, ironically, helps with focus by suppressing things you’re not paying attention to so you don’t get overstimulated. Interesting!

Imagine GABA as your neurons’ brake. Once there is a trigger, neurons start firing electrical signals that serve as a form of communication to their neighboring cells. Glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, is responsible for the neurons’ excitability (like putting your foot on the gas pedal). GABA serves as a brake to stop the neurons from firing after their job is done. Without GABA, the brain gets overstimulated.

Did you know that GABA is also known as “Nature’s Valium”?

The feeling of happiness and relaxation is attributed in having enough GABA in your brain. In fact, it is important that all the brain chemicals are in balanced levels in order for you to experience a balanced mood. If you notice that you don’t feel balanced, are easily triggered to feel anxious, having difficulty with sleep, finding it hard to focus and relax, or having mood swings, your gut and GABA levels may need supporting.

Are you experiencing the following symptoms?

  • You’re filled with dread and have a knot in your stomach for no obvious reason.
  • You’re frequently late because you’re too disorganized to make appointments on time.
  • You’re often doing many things at once, but, at the end of the day, have little to show for your efforts.
  • Even when things are going well, you find new things to worry about.
  • You can’t relax and racing thoughts keep you up at night.
  • Your heart pounds or beats erratically for no reason.
  • You rely on high carbohydrate foods, drugs, or alcohol to relax.

If you answered yes to several of these symptoms, you may be low in GABA and may wonder why.

There are several possibilities. There are inherited disorders of GABA metabolism. However, your lifestyle plays an important role in developing GABA deficiency. Stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and gluten intolerance are cited as causes of GABA deficiency according to the Harvard Medical School researcher Datis Kharrazian, discusses in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?

The first step in repairing proper brain is to dial in the best diet for YOUR body (one size doesn’t fit all!) and create healthy lifestyle habits like rock solid stress management tools. This may also include some targeted gut healing. Please watch out for next week’s newsletter as I will discuss GABA supplements, the pros and cons, and what are other options to increase your GABA levels.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. 

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Gut symptoms & your gallbladder

This week, we are going to explore how important your gallbladder is to digestion AND looking and feeling your best! I’ll also share what signs you can watch out for that could signify gallbladder problems.

Do you frequently experience headaches without any particular reason? Have irregular bowel movements? Are nauseous or feeling uncomfortably full after meals? Your gallbladder health may need some TLC!

Why?

Let’s start with the basics.

The Biliary System

The biliary system is made of your liver, gallbladder, and bile ducts. This system works together to produce, store, and secrete bile.

Bile is the greenish-yellow substance that is continuously produced by the liver and stored and concentrated in this little pouch called the gallbladder. Bile is composed mainly of bile salts, phospholipids, cholesterol, conjugated bilirubin, electrolytes, and water. Bile acids and bile salts are a major component of bile (bile salts are formed when bile acids are produced by your liver and joined together with the amino acids glycine or taurine).

Why Bile is SUPER important

Bile is very important for 2 main reasons:

1) Bile facilitates lipid (fat) digestion and absorption.

When you eat, the cells in your small intestine release a hormone called cholecystokinin (CKK). This hormone triggers your gallbladder to contract, pushing the bile through the duct system into your small intestine. Once in your small intestine, the bile acids break down the large lipid (fat) droplets into smaller ones. This makes it easy for your digestive enzyme lipase to effectively digest longer-chain fats into smaller chains that can be easily absorbed by your small intestine.

This fat breakdown is necessary any time you eat fat-containing foods such as avocados, nuts, olives, seeds, and animal products such as eggs, most meat and seafood, butter, etc. Fish oil, olive oil, coconut oil, and other oils also need bile to be digested and absorbed.

Did you know that these foods are abundant in fat-soluble vitamins?

Fat-soluble vitamins, as the name indicates, are vitamins that are dissolved by fats.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins, and they support all sorts of important functions in your body like maintaining healthy bones, cell repair, and a properly functioning immune system. Without bile to help you digest and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, your body can’t properly support these functions.

If you’re getting these fat-soluble vitamins from supplements, you can increase their absorption when you take them with foods rich in healthy fats. 

2) Bile Eliminates Waste Products from the Body

Cholesterol is eliminated through its conversion into bile acids, helping your body maintain balanced cholesterol levels. Bilirubin, an orange-yellow pigment formed in your liver through the breakdown of hemoglobin, is also secreted through the bile. It is, in fact, responsible for the dark pigments of feces.

A lesser known function of bile is that it acts as a natural antibacterial agent, supporting a healthy amount of bacteria in your small intestine. As you can imagine, this is REALLY important! If you have been diagnosed with SIBO (or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), a lack of bile may be a root cause of it.

Bile Health and Gallbladder Symptoms

Your stool can also tell you if you’re digesting fats well. Is it bulky or difficult to flush? Does it appear oily, pale, or foul-smelling? These are clues that your body finds it difficult to digest and absorb fats.

If you are experiencing the following symptoms, consider supporting your biliary system:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • SIBO
  • Feeling full after a small meal
  • Right-sided heaviness at the base of your rib cage
  • Right shoulder tightness
  • Right-sided mid-back tightness or pain by your scapula (shoulder blade)
  • Diarrhea when eating too much fat
  • White or gray colored stools
  • Intolerance to eating any type of fat
  • Yellowish coating on your tongue

Avoiding fats and oils isn’t the answer. That just throws a band-aid on the symptom, but doesn’t actually address the root cause. Let’s dig into what you can do to support this important bilary system!


Bile Formation and Bile Flow

Bile formation and bile flow are equally important. Even when you have adequate formation of bile, you need that bile to flow. When your gallbladder or the duct system is blocked or doesn’t function fully, bile cannot exit and builds up. It’s like your gallbladder gets constipated! This is potentially dangerous because built-up bile can form into crystals that, over time, can become gallstones (very painful and can lead to serious health complications). Bile that cannot leave the gallbladder also causes irritation and infection. Over time, your gallbladder will function more and more poorly. This often leads to its surgical removal, which is permanent. As you’ve learned, it’s in your best interest to support your gallbladder and restore its function if you can.

So you need to make enough bile and you need it to flow.

To help with bile flow, bitter foods are helpful. Examples are:

  • Arugula
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Bitter Melon
  • Broccoli Rabe
  • Chicory or Chicory Tea
  • Chocolate (like cacao nibs or 70% or more cacao)
  • Coffee
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Dandelion Tea
  • Endive

A healthy liver, a diet and lifestyle low in toxins, plenty of sleep, clean water and adequate hydration, spacing out your meals and not snacking all the time, quality dietary fats and cholesterol, and sufficient stomach acid are all key ingredients to healthy bile production. You can also take supplements, like Dr. Ben Lynch’s Gallbladder Nutrients formula, to support both bile formation and flow.

If you are experiencing gallbladder symptoms, it is best to have yourself checked by a licensed medical professional right away. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your gallbladder is very important to the health of your entire system.

There’s a lot that you can do with diet and lifestyle to get to the root of your symptoms! And if you’ve already had your gallbladder removed, your liver is still making bile and you still need bile to digest and absorb your fats! There’s still important ways that you can support this system.

In either case, it is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

5 Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Gut, Thyroid, & Brain

As we all know, diet plays a major role in your health. Today, I’d like to talk about 5 foods that are linked to leaky gut, and inflammation in your brain and thyroid gland (master gland for your entire metabolism).
If you want to feel great and enjoy your life as fully as possible, then listen up!

Gluten

I know, I know. Gluten certainly isn’t a new dietary villain, but do you know why that is?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale–a cross between wheat and rye. The main function of gluten is to help foods maintain their shape and texture, like a sort of glue that holds food together. It can be found in many different foods because it’s added to them or due to cross contamination. In fact, most processed foods in the grocery store contain gluten; like cereals, noodles, crackers, baked goods, etc. You can check out more sources of gluten here.

Gluten has long been famous for causing leaky gut. When a patient consumes gluten, it triggers an increased release of zonulin, a protein produced by your gut cells and is responsible for increased intestinal permeability. Just imagine your intestinal lining as a cheesecloth; it only allows the tiniest particles to pass through. Zonulin makes the holes of the cheesecloth bigger and that makes it possible for large particles to pass through. Because of this, larger food particles, bacteria, toxic digestive metabolites, bacterial toxins, and small molecules leak into the bloodstream (say hello to inflammation and symptoms!!).

Unfortunately, leaky gut can cause an autoimmune response within your body as 70% of your immune cells are stored in your gut tissues. These immune cells attack and produce antibodies against foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. Since the substances that leak through the intestinal lining don’t belong outside the gut, the immune system attacks them. In short, the body wages war against itself.

During this autoimmune response, it is highly possible that the thyroid can be attacked. Gluten molecules are structurally very similar to that of your thyroid gland. This means that when your body gets overwhelmed and turns against its own tissues and organs, your thyroid is more vulnerable. 

Dairy

Dairy allergy and sensitivity is extremely common, though there are certainly people who tolerate it just fine. IF you have a dairy allergy or sensitivity or suspect that you do, I recommend that you avoid it (or test and confirm if it is a problem for you). If you’re sensitive to dairy, it can cause leaky gut problems and lead to the leading to your body attacking your thyroid as in the gluten example.

In addition to leaky gut, dairy products can also cause a condition known as leaky brain. This happens when the blood-brain barrier (BBB) becomes compromised and allows bacteria and toxins to leak to the brain itself.

Removing dairy products from your diet can help with issues of leaky gut and leaky brain. Consider dairy-free substitutions. For example, regular milk can be substituted with almond milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk and yogurt can be coconut yogurt or hemp yogurt. Same for cheese, believe it or not! Kite Hill is a popular and well liked brand.

Soy

Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means it mimics the function of estrogen in your body. This can cause trouble to people dealing with hormonal imbalance.

Soy is also a goitrogenic food which means that it blocks the function of thyroid peroxidase (TPO), an enzyme necessary for your thyroid to produce T3 and T4 hormones. To compensate for this decrease in thyroid hormone production, the thyroid increases its size, and this enlargement of the thyroid gland is known as goiter.

If you have Hashimoto’s or hypothyroidism, you must be cautious about soy products. 41% of people with Hashimoto’s disease are sensitive to soy and 60% of them have reported gut symptoms such as abdominal pain, loose stools, etc.

If you do choose to eat soy, choose non-GMO whenever possible.

Alcohol

Did you know that alcohol is the world’s third-largest risk factor for disease and disability? It causes at least 60 types of diseases and contributes to 200 others!

It is a psychoactive substance, and consuming alcohol regularly causes the brain to inflame, altering the normal function of the brain and causing it to send different messages throughout your body. It has multiple effects on the thyroid gland resulting in the worsening of your symptoms.

Alcohol also disrupts the digestive system and can cause leaky gut. As we have discussed earlier, leaky gut results in inflammation and an autoimmune response which may attack your thyroid.

So easy on the alcohol, especially while you are recuperating.

Sugar

Sugar is a contributor to inflammation in your body. Eating foods rich in added sugar frequently predisposes you to chronic low-grade inflammation that leads to serious health problems. It’s not good for your gut, brain or thyroid!

Sugar and artificial sweeteners may be linked to the development of Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, according to a report presented at the 2015 International Thyroid Congress.

Since your thyroid controls metabolism, it impacts your blood sugar level. If your gut and thyroid aren’t functioning well, this can lead to imbalanced blood sugar and increase your risk of developing diabetes.

It works both ways. A problem with your sugar level could also contribute to a problem in the thyroid. Those with hypothyroidism have more difficulty managing blood sugar levels.

I encourage you to cut out or cut back on the added sugar to save yourself all these added health risks. I’ve got some great recipes using alternatives on my website. There are also more brands using monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia as sweeteners so look for those instead of sugar on food labels.

If you are struggling with gut symptoms, thyroid issues, or brain fog, these are some great foundations that you can start to lay. 

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that today’s suggestions are helpful to you.

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Thyroid Health & You Part 2: Top 5 Thyroid Boosting Foods

Last week we discussed what your thyroid gland does and why it is so important for feeling your best. In case you missed it, you can check it out here. Today we’re going to dig into how your food can help you do just that!

Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Well, I couldn’t agree more! Like I always say, you are what you eat (and absorb).

That’s why the health of your gut is SO important. If you can’t properly break down and absorb what you eat, then you miss out on the healing properties of that food. And because your thyroid influences your entire digestive system, making sure that you are eating foods that support your thyroid gland is very powerful.

So I made a list of 5 thyroid-boosting foods that are supported by current research. BUT, you know that one-size doesn’t fit all!  Some of these foods may not agree with you for numerous reasons (because you’re already struggling with your digestion, you have food sensitivities, they throw your biochemistry off, etc). I encourage you to listen to your body whenever you are trying out anyone’s suggestions no matter how much research backs it up!. I want you to help you discover where your best health has been hiding and keep you there. To do that, it’s really important that you listen to your body.

5 Thyroid Boosting Foods

Dark Green Leafy Vegetables

Leafy greens are packed with nutrients that people with thyroid problems can especially benefit from them.

Dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of fiber, folate, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, and minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. All these nutrients are good for your thyroid gland (and the rest of your body). But of all these mentioned nutrients, magnesium stands out.

Let me explain why.

Triiodothyronine (T3) and Thyroxine (T4) are the hormones produced by the thyroid gland and are responsible for the metabolic process in the body–that is converting food into energy. T4 is inactive and needs to be converted into the active T3 in order to act on your body cells, and this is where magnesium comes in. It helps in the conversion of T4 into its active T3 form!

Brazilian Nuts

Selenium is another trace mineral that has important function in thyroid hormone production and metabolism. Brazilian nuts are high in fiber and selenium. In fact, only 2 Brazilian nuts a day provides 100% of the daily amount of recommended selenium for an adult.

Seafood and Sea Vegetables

Your thyroid gland uses iodine to make your thyroid hormones T3 and T4. Seafood such as fish, shrimp, and seaweed is a great source of iodine. Low iodine in the diet can lead to reduced thyroid function (hypothyroidism). Eating seafood can help balance the iodine levels in your body and support your thyroid. Also, good quality sea salt has some iodine in it (as well as other minerals).

However, while we consider iodine to be essential for thyroid health, those with hyperthyroidism need to check with their health practitioner before consuming iodine-rich food. In hyperthyroidism, the thyroid produces excessive amounts of T3 and T4 and lead to overstimulation. See how one-size doesn’t fit all?

Collagen Powder

Most of the foods that are to be avoided when you have a thyroid problem are foods that cause leaky gut–gluten, sugar, alcohol, and sometimes dairy, soy, corn, and eggs. As we have learned previously, when intestinal contents leak through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream, it triggers inflammation, which can flare your thyroid condition and even cause other chronic diseases. You can help heal your gut by using collagen powder.

Collagen powder is a formulation made from animal bone, skin, connective tissue, etc. to supplement your body’s needs for collagen (high in protein building blocks that repair damaged tissue in your body). You can incorporate it into your smoothie, soup, or other beverages. Here are some great options for collagen and gut healing.

Onions and Garlic

It might be common knowledge that the liver is our body’s detoxification organ, but did you know that a healthy liver also supports thyroid health?

Thyroid hormone conversion happens in the liver. It is, in fact, responsible for converting inactive T4 thyroid hormones into the active form T3 that activates the thyroid receptors in your cells and makes them work. If your liver is not functioning well, T4 won’t convert into T3 in time.  This leads to hypothyroidism because there is a shortage of the active T3 that your cells need.

Onions and garlic provide the sulfur your body needs to support your liver. You might consider adding a bulb of roasted garlic in your diet every week or caramelized sliced onions in some meals. I recommend introducing these foods gradually to avoid disrupting your gut (sometimes a little goes a long way!). 

Eggs and meats are also a great source of sulfur, so if onions and garlic don’t agree with you, you’ve got other options. I had a massive food sensitivity to both onions and garlic for years! It was such a bummer because I love the taste, but they really didn’t make my tummy feel well. Thankfully after healing my gut, I am able to enjoy them once again.

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully. I hope that these thyroid boosting foods are helpful to you.


Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Thyroid Health & You, Part 1

Did you know that more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime? An estimated 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid problem, and unfortunately, up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. When patients are not diagnosed, they are at risk for certain serious conditions including cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.

It’s high time that we raise awareness about the importance of the thyroid gland and what we can do to support it. 

And guess what? Your gut and thyroid work closely together. When one isn’t working well, neither can the other one. Many gut symptoms in fact, like low stomach acid, food intolerance, and bacterial imbalance, can be caused by a thyroid imbalance.

Let’s dig into this together.

What is the thyroid & what’s it do?

The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. Despite its small size, it produces hormones that affect every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. These hormones control metabolism–the chemical processes in your body that break down what you eat to make energy.

I will give you a simple explanation of how thyroid hormones affect your metabolism. Your thyroid gland actually produces three hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin. We will not be focusing on Calcitonin, but this hormone is responsible for the formation of bones. T4 and T3, on the other hand, are what most people call the “thyroid hormones,” which are manufactured by the thyroid gland using the building blocks iodine (a trace mineral) and tyrosine (an amino acid).

T4 and T3 cannot be released to the bloodstream unless there is a stimulus from the brain, particularly from the pituitary gland–that pea-sized body connected to the base of the brain, the major endocrine gland responsible for your body’s growth and development as well as the functioning of other glands such as the thyroid. So this pituitary gland will release a so-called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormones into your circulation. Once they’re out, they act on every cell in your body to increase cellular activity, converting food into energy–this is metabolism. These hormones can affect how fast your heart beats, how deep your breath goes, and whether you gain or lose weight.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Here’s the more challenging part. Your thyroid gland can be overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism).

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness, tremors, irritability, heat intolerance, racing heartbeat or palpitation, an increase in appetite, frequent bowel movement, etc. Hypothyroidism manifests as fatigue, weakness, cold intolerance, depression, muscle cramps, weight gain, loss of appetite, constipation, etc.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by your doctor. For example, growths, either malignant or benign, can form on the thyroid gland and can affect its normal function. Your immune system can start attacking your thyroid tissue (autoimmune condition: Hashimoto’s or Grave’s) resulting in loss of function. There are a variety of diet and lifestyle factors that influence proper thyroid function (like stress, diet, sleep habits, and more) so diet and lifestyle is almost always part of the solution to balancing out thyroid function as well. We’ll dig into that next week as well as what foods to eat and what to avoid to promote thyroid health. Stay tuned!

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca