3 Gut-Friendly Holiday Drinks!

The Christmas season is a time for celebration and relaxation. It’s also the time that you often find yourself in various get-togethers enjoying the company of family and friends over food, drinks, and entertainment.
 
While Christmas is a season to be merry, food and drinks this season can be a temptation that brings harm to your gut health (as well as your weight, energy, sleep, immune system, inflammation, etc).
 
So today, I created a list of drinks that can do more good than harm to the millions of bacteria that are working really hard to keep you healthy and allow you to enjoy your life.
 
Too much alcohol irritates the stomach and disrupts your gut bacteria (as well as your liver/hormones). So this list is made up of drinks that have no or very little alcohol.

Kombucha

Kombucha is a fermented tea drink with trace amounts of alcohol and caffeine. At first, it is just a sugary tea that is fermented from a SCOBY, which stands for symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.
 
This fizzy, sour but slightly sweet drink is full of probiotics that support your gut health.
 
Kombucha has various flavors, too, so you get to try what best suits your taste. Dr. Brew Kombucha is a great low sugar kombucha option. I love their Ginger Lemon and Superberry flavors!

Rooibos Iced Tea

Rooibos tea is an herbal tea that originated from South Africa. South Africans have been using rooibos for centuries because of its health benefits such as promoting better sleep.
 
Interestingly, rooibos tea has 50% more antioxidants than green tea!  And it’s gut-friendly. It contains antispasmodic agents that help the digestive tract.
 
You can garnish with berries or add lemon. I love how this homemade rooibos iced tea was done.

Pomegranate Juice

Pomegranate juice is not only rich in vitamin C but is also very helpful to the gut.
 
It has properties that relieve inflammation in the gut, so it helps improve digestion and absorb nutrients.
 
Pomegranate juice is refreshing in itself, but you can spice it up with cloves or cinnamon stick. To keep the sugar down, considering adding a splash of pomegranate juice to mineral water and then add the clove or cinnamon stick to give it that festive quality.
 
These drinks will surely bring great taste to your gatherings and health to your gut, so you don’t need to sacrifice health over a fun holiday–because you can have both!

Here’s a bonus healthy egg nog recipe you can also enjoy!
 
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.
 
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 Sessionhttp://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

CHICKEN NUGGETS

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 8.01.01 PM

  • 1 pound ground chicken (dark meat preferred, chicken thighs)
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (more if you like spicy)
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta (optional and preferably organic)
  • coconut oil (refined is more stable at higher heat) or bacon fat for cooking

How to:

  1. Mix all ingredients in bowl.
  2. Heat about 3 tablespoons of coconut oil or bacon fat on medium high heat in a large skillet.
  3. Use a spoon to dollop tablespoon sized nuggets into pan. Space them about an inch apart.
  4. Cook for about 5 minutes (chicken should not be white or only slightly pink) and then use a fork or tongs to flip.
  5. Cook on other side for another 3-5 minutes. Serve with your favorite veggies and enjoy!

The mouth-gut connection

The idea of having bacteria in your mouth might not be new to you. But did you know that there is actually a community of bacteria other than those that cause plaque and tooth decay? Yes, you’ve got good bacteria in our mouth, too!
 
While your gut has its own microbiome, the oral microbiome is part of this intricate system. And the status of your oral health is a reflection of your gut and vice versa.

Problems with the gut may manifest in your mouth. For example, if you have a red, swollen tongue, it can mean you have an immune imbalance in the digestive system or you lack folic acid and vitamin B12, that might be caused by a poor diet or absorption problems.
 
Oral bugs (as they are called) can also prevent tooth decay and bad breath, and they manufacture beneficial nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide relaxes (widens) the blood vessels and increases blood flow to your tissues. And because of this, it can boost your circulation, exercise performance–and for men, even solve erectile dysfunction.

How to boost beneficial oral bugs


Knowing how good these bugs are to your health, I have compiled 6 tips to help you to keep them thriving! As always, customize according to your unique needs and check with your health practitioner first.

  1. Eat organically grown green, leafy veggies and beets – These foods contain nitrates that are converted by bacteria in your tongue into nitric oxide. Fresh raw vegetables such as lettuce have beneficial soil-based microorganisms inside the leaves, so it can serve as a probiotic that can establish a good oral microbiome.
  2. Eat small amount of fermented foods every day – Because they are good probiotics, too, these foods contain enzymes and beneficial bacteria that you need not only for the mouth but for the overall gut microbiome (this is contraindicated if you have certain conditions such as SIBO).
  3. Avoid sweets and refined carbohydrates – Bad bacteria thrives with these “foods”, and the more they increase in your mouth, the less your good bacteria thrive. So ditch anything that has to do with artificial sugars, chips, cookies, and sodas. Not only do they erode your teeth, but they also increase the growth of those bad microbes we don’t want hanging out in your mouth.
  4. Oil pulling – This is an ancient practice associated with the traditional medicine system in India which involves swishing oil in your mouth that are believed to “pull” bacteria from your mouth. Oil pulling can kill harmful bacteria, reduce bad breath, prevent cavities, and improve gum health.
  5. Choose your mouthwash and floss – If you cannot get rid of mouthwash, at least choose the less harmful ones. Be particular with those brands that contain alcohol, chlorine dioxide, chlorhexidine, formaldehyde, saccharin, parabens, etc. because they are bad to your good mouth bugs. In using floss, avoid brands with perfluorooctanesulfonic acids (PFAs). Although PFAs are used for easy-glide flossing, they have been linked to many diseases including cancer.
  6. Use a toothpaste that promotes healthy oral microbiome – Choose a brand that is free from artificial flavorings, colors, and, most of all, sugar. Remember that the more natural the product is, the more it is favorable for the growth of your oral bugs–which is your goal in promoting oral health and overall gut health. I highly recommend using Dentalcidin Toothpaste by Bio-Botanical Research. It tastes great on top of all its other benefits!

 
The key to overall health and well-being is gut health, and gut health includes not only the intestinal flora but also the good bacteria in your mouth. As you swallow, bugs come along, too. And those that survive the journey becomes transient species in the intestinal microbiota that support your health.
 
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.
 
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

Symptoms of Vit D Deficiency & How to Boost Your Level!

In case you missed my announcement last week, you are invited to my Solutions to Permanent Weight Release Masterclass: How to have freedom from diets, yo-yoing, and self-sabotage! 

This Masterclass is going to be awesome! It is a free online event and I’d love for you to join me and invite anyone that could benefit from it to join too.  I’ll be going deep into mindsets that prevent permanent weight release and I’ll be sharing 3 simple yet incredibly powerful steps you can take for releasing extra weight for good!

Claim your spot today by clicking here (plus there’s a free gift when you register!).

Now last week, I introduced a common-yet-overlooked condition, which is vitamin D deficiency. As you now know, vitamin D is vital to your body’s processes. Let’s now dive a little deeper to learn about the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and, of course, the actions you can take to prevent or reverse it.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

 Actually, most people don’t have any symptoms at all, but what’s alarming is that vitamin D deficiency predisposes you to diseases such as cardiovascular disease
 
Some known symptoms are:

  • You always get sick – Because vitamin D has an important role in keeping your immune system strong, chances are you easily catch a flu or colds if you have low levels of vitamin D in your blood.
  • You feel tired most of the time – It was discovered in a study that women who complained of chronic daytime fatigue and headaches had very low levels of vitamin D and symptoms were resolved after taking a vitamin D supplement.
  • You often feel blue – Taking vitamin D supplements has been proven to improve depression including seasonal depression during the colder months.
  • You have lower back pain and bone loss – Vitamin D maintains bone health by improving your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Your wounds heal slowly – Do you have a wound that takes a long time to heal? You may be low in vitamin D as this vitamin increases the production of compounds that help form new skin in the wound.
  • You have hair loss – Vitamin D deficiency is associated with severe hair loss in women and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss.
  • You have muscle pain – There is a link between low levels of vitamin D and muscle pain because the nerve cells that sense pain have receptors for vitamin D.

Are these familiar to you?
 
If you or your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, get yourself tested and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
 
Around 400-800 IU is the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

So how do you increase your body’s level of vitamin D?

 As I said last week, vitamin D is produced through a reaction of UV rays with some form of cholesterol in your skin. I must say that the best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
 
So the simplest and free way to get vitamin D is to simply go outdoors and expose your skin to sunlight.
 
Next in line is getting vitamin D from food sources. Did you know that fatty fish and seafood are the best natural sources of vitamin D?
 
A hundred grams of salmon can actually provide your body with about half of your daily dose!
 
In addition to salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines, and anchovies are also rich in vitamin D.
 
Mushrooms  are the only plant-based source of vitamin D, and just like us, they synthesize vitamin D through their exposure to sunlight. Pretty awesome.
 
Egg yolks from free-range chicken are another great source of vitamin D.
 
If you seldom consume these foods, there are also fortified food available in the market today. Usually, these products are milk, juice, yogurt, and some other packaged foods which aren’t as healthy.
 
Vitamin D supplements may be necessary for some and the dosage depends on the severity of the deficiency.
 
Whether you take natural food sources, fortified foods, or supplements, the important factor in making sure dietary vitamin D is properly absorbed is by taking care of your gut. You can take in lots of Vitamin D, but if you don’t absorb it, it’s no use.
If you get sunlight exposure and you eat the foods I mentioned regularly but your Vitamin D levels are still low, that’s a clue that your gut needs supporting.
 
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.
 
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 Tell If You’re Getting Enough Vitamin D and Special Announcement…


I am SO excited to announce Solutions to Permanent Weight Release Masterclass: How to have freedom from diets, yo-yoing, and self-sabotage! 

This Masterclass is going to be awesome! It is a free online event and I’d love for you to join me and invite anyone that could benefit from it to join too.  I’ll be going deep into mindsets that prevent permanent weight release and I’ll be sharing 3 simple yet incredibly powerful steps you can take for releasing extra weight for good!

Claim your spot today by clicking here (plus there’s a free gift when you register!).

Okay, so now let’s talk about Vitamin D.

Have you been feeling down? Experiencing mood swings frequently?
 
Lack of vitamin D might be to blame. In today’s lifestyle with long work days that are mostly spent indoors, more people have a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. Your hereditary traits, age, location, diet, and overall lifestyle play a significant role in your body’s capacity to synthesize Vitamin D.
 
You might have been surprised that “feeling down” and mood swings are associated with vitamin D deficiency. In this newsletter, I will help you understand the value of vitamin D in your body and identify your risk factors for vitamin D deficiency.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D or commonly called the sunshine vitamin is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes in two types: vitamin D2 or ergocalciferol and vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol.
 
Among the two, vitamin D3 is more readily absorbed by your body. In fact, your body has the capacity to create vitamin D by just exposing yourself to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Vitamin D2, on the other hand, is found in supplements and the diet.
 
Vitamin D has long been known to be beneficial to bone health, but the truth is that vitamin D has a great impact on your overall health and well-being, not just bones.
 
Vitamin D supports the immune system, regulates blood sugar, supports memory and mental health, and keeps metabolism at the right track among many other benefits. In short vitamin D is crucial in keeping the proper functioning of all your body parts.
 
Not convinced? The truth is, every cell of your body has a receptor for vitamin D. That’s how important it is. Deficiency in vitamin D will wreak havoc on all your body systems.

What are the risk factors for vitamin D deficiency?

Little exposure to sunlight – Vitamin D is synthesized when UV rays react with some form of cholesterol in your skin. Winter, frequently staying indoors, and using sunblock when outdoors block the natural way your body creates vitamin D. Here is further information on sunblock, skin cancer prevention, and Vitamin D.
 
Older adults – As you age, your skin becomes less efficient in producing vitamin D. Older people tend to stay indoors most of the time, too, so it is crucial that if you are at this stage, you’ve got to give time to some skin-lovin’ sunlight exposure.
 
Dark skin – If you are blessed with a dark skin tone, your skin is well-protected from the harmful rays of the sun because of the pigment melanin. However, you are more at risk in having vitamin D deficiency.

Inflammatory bowel disease – If you have IBD, dietary vitamin D is not properly absorbed in your intestines.

Obesity – Although obesity does not affect the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D, fat tissues under your skin hides away the vitamin D and alters its release into the bloodstream.
 
Next week, I’ll discuss the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and how to combat this condition. So stay tuned for that. Meanwhile, you can go outdoors in the first half of the morning or late in the afternoon so that you can reap the benefits of vitamin D while still protecting your skin.
 
What else? Take care of your gut! Remember, a healthy gut is a healthy you.
 
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.
 
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
 

Boost gut health & knock down inflammation (plus fun Halloween recipes!)

Today I’ll be sharing some resources with you for how you can boost your gut health and know down inflammation…and share some fun, delicious Halloween recipes!

There are 3 upcoming events I’m participating in both live and virtually to help support your gut health, reduce inflammation, and discover where your best health has been hiding!

First, I’m part of a free online health summit that is happening now! My interview airs Oct 26th and there are great health experts sharing info every day with quick tips to increase your energy and mental stamina:
Fit and Fabulous Moms: How to Increase Energy, Mental Stamina and Fat Loss in minutes a day!”
Anyone can benefit from these interviews, not just Moms, not just parents!
Click here for FREE access!

Next, I’m giving a live, free health talk called 3 Keys to Healing Your Gut,  Tuesday, Nov 5th, 6:30pm, Staff of Life in Santa Cruz.
Grab your ticket now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3-keys-to-healing-your-gut-tickets-69901518323

Third, I’m giving a live, free health talk called 3 Hidden Causes of Inflammation,  Tuesday, Nov 19th, 6pm, hosted by Ebrahimian Dentistry in Scotts Valley.
Grab your ticket now: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/3-hidden-causes-of-inflammation-tickets-69907895397

Last, but certainly not least, here are some Halloween recipes that you are sure to love!

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


P.S.
Who do you know who is struggling with weight imbalance, digestive issues, or low energy?
Please invite them to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session with me. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).


 

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