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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

Why Potassium is Essential to Gut Health

Do you often experience bloating or constipation?

Today we are going to dig into the connection between electrolytes, particularly potassium and your gut.
 
Your gut health is the core of your overall health.
 
Your gut is where you take everything that you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to function. From making energy, being able to think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily, your gut is at the ROOT of your overall function. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
 
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.
 
Let’s dig into how potassium and electrolytes play into this.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

 Electrolytes are minerals found in the body that conduct electricity in body fluids. Because of the very nature of electrolytes, they are an important part of the transmission of electrical messages from your brain and along your nerves. When in water, electrolytes dissolve in positive and negative ions. Aside from their important role in sending nerve signals, they help in the regulation of your body fluids and muscle contractions. Examples of electrolytes are sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which are responsible for the normal tone of the muscles in your limbs, heart, arteries, and intestines. So, imbalance in the electrolyte levels of your body can affect any or all of your vital functions.
 
Interestingly, potassium is the third most abundant mineral in the body. Around 98% of it is found in your cells, 80% of which stays in your muscle cells and 20% in your bones, liver, and red blood cells. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, potassium is essential for muscle contraction and they recommend that adults have about 4,700 milligrams daily from dietary sources.

Potassium and Digestion

 Remember, digestion occurs through rhythmic intestinal contractions (known as peristalsis). The smooth muscle inside your digestive tract is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, the part of your nervous system that works automatically without your conscious effort and control. Peristalsis occurs through the alternating contraction and relaxation of the smooth muscle tissue in your intestinal wall, creating a wave-like effect that pushes the contents forward along your digestive tract. It is clear, then, that in order for digestion, absorption, and waste elimination to occur–processes that take place in the digestive system–there should be enough minerals and electrolytes to support peristalsis.
Potassium, being an electrolyte, is partly responsible for muscles contraction. So when there is a low level of potassium in your body, peristalsis slows down, and this leads to compromised digestion. If you find yourself frustrated waiting on the “throne” for longer periods of time (aka constipation), you may have an underlying electrolyte imbalance, particularly hypokalemia or potassium deficiency.

Sources of Potassium

 As cliche as it is, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In this case, it’s better to get sufficient potassium in your diet or via supplementation than to suffer the consequences of not having enough electrolytes in your body. Don’t worry, potassium sources are not hard to find. Foods high in potassium include avocados, spinach and leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, russet potatoes, beet greens, pistachios, Swiss chard, pomegranates, watermelon, and coconut water to name a few. If you are following a low-carb or keto eating plan, here are some additional sources. If you are following a moderate to high carb eating plan, here are some additional foods to consider.

If you don’t eat foods that are providing enough potassium, or if you sweat a lot, or if you exercise a lot and suspect you need more potassium, you may want to consider Seeking Health’s Optimal Potassium Powder (1 scoop provides 500 mg of potassium and it’s pretty tasty!) or one of my favorites is their Optimal Electrolyte Powderbecause it has potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes versus potassium alone. Those taking medications such as diuretics and antibiotics also lose potassium easily and are at high risk for potassium deficiency. As is advised with any supplements, it is best to consult your health care provider before starting it (especially if you are taking medications).
 
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

-Rebecca

Poo Matters: Things You Can Do to Support Constipation

In last week’s newsletter, I told you about some main causes of constipation. By now, you may have already made a few lifestyle changes that are having a positive impact on your bowel movements. So this week, let me give you more ideas on how to support constipation. These fixes are easily doable and can support you to have more healthy BM’s and take your gut health up a level.

Why is gut health so important?

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.

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.

So let’s get into how to support constipation.

 Learn to analyze your poo

Your stool tells you a lot about what’s going on inside your body. What’s yours saying about you? Check out this free infographic to learn why the color, consistency, and shape of your poo matters and what it say about your health.

For example, stool color varies from green to brown.  This depends on your diet and the amount of bile on your poo. Bile is the yellow-green pigment produced by your liver and stored and concentrated in your gall bladder. After eating, the stored bile is discharged to the duodenum (the first section of the small intestine) to digest fats. As the digestive contents travel along the bowel, enzymes alter bile, changing the pigments from green to brown. So the normal poo color is usually brown and alterations are indicative of changes inside your gut or digestive capacity. In her infographic, 50 Shades of Poo, Dr. Marisol elaborates on poo color and has a simple test you can do at home to assess your stomach acid output. You can check it out here.

Use castor oil packs

Castor oil has long been used dating back to ancient civilization in Egypt to treat various health conditions. The oil comes from the seeds of castor, Ricinus communis plant, known as castor beans.

If you don’t want to go through all the mess in making your own castor oil pack, you can actually use this kit. I’ve been doing castor oil packs for years for overall health benefits and this kit makes it SO much easier and less messy!

One of the best-known use of castor oil is as a natural laxative. It is classified as a stimulant laxative, which means it increases the movement of the muscles of the digestive tract to push through intestinal content and clear the bowels. In addition, castor oil helps relieve inflammation, balance your hormones, promote relaxation, and improve liver detoxification, which are all important to have a healthy poo (and healthy YOU!).

Making a castor oil pack involves soaking a piece of flannel in castor oil. After soaking, you have to cover the flannel with plastic and place a heating pad or hot water bottle on top of it. Place the flannel on the skin of your abdomen to relieve constipation or other digestive disorders like gas and bloating. When you are done, wipe clean with a paper towel or cloth (it does stain so don’t use a cloth that you don’t mind getting stained).

*If you’re pregnant or taking medications, don’t use castor oil packs and check with your doctor for advice.

Promote pressure and lubrication

Last time, I told you that pressure and lubrication are required to expel poo. So we have to meet these criteria adequately to ensure that we have a healthy and regular bowel movements.

Fiber from your diet, muscle tone, physical activity, adequate hydration, and a healthy nervous system create the pressure your gut needs to propel stool forward in your digestive tract. Lubrication, on the other hand, is achieved by drinking enough water and hydrating fluids (coffee doesn’t count as it is a diuretic) and eating healthy fats (like olive oil, flax, ghee, avocado, coconut, etc). 

I know that these 3 things plus your desire to lead a healthy lifestyle will help you overcome constipation and boost your overall gut health.

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

Dairy-free, gut-friendly, low-sugar smoothie bowl!

You’re in for a yummy and very healthy treat today! I’m about to share a quick and easy recipe with you that is gluten-free, grain-free, egg-free, soy-free, high in fiber, protein, and nutrients, low in starch, and gut friendly. Winner!

Taking good care of your gut is one of the wisest investments you can make.

Why?

Your gut is truly at the ROOT of your health.
 
Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
 
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.
 

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl Benefits

Our recipe this week is a Raspberry Smoothie Bowl by Leanne Vogel. (You can customize it as needed! Use almond milk rather than coconut milk if you do better with less fat; add some extra berries if you need more carbs).

Aside from the fact that raspberries are one of the world’s most consumed berries, you’ll be amazed by how much nutritional value this sweet and juicy fruit brings to the table. So, before we head on to the recipe, let me lay down the two main interesting health benefits raspberries can provide you.
 
1) Raspberries are powerful antioxidants.
 
According to Oregon Raspberry and Blackberry Commission, red raspberries in particular contain strong antioxidants such as Vitamin C, quercetin, and gallic acid that fight against cancer, heart and circulatory diseases, as well as age-related illnesses. They also contain high content of ellagic acid which prevents inflammation and is known to prevent cancer.
 
How do antioxidants work?
 
During metabolism, your body constantly forms free radicals. A free radical is an atom that lacks electrons in its outer shell and has the ability to bind with another atom to complete it. Free radicals highly react with other substances in an effort to complete the electrons in their outer shell.  In the absence of antioxidants, free radicals would destroy your body in the process of oxidative stress, damaging important molecules in your body and even causing cell death. This now leads to a number of illnesses, namely diabetes, heart disease, atherosclerosis, etc.
 
Free radicals are not at all bad. In fact, your body’s immune system uses them to fight against bacteria that cause diseases. But without antioxidants, free radicals would quickly harm you. Antioxidants give free radicals their needed electrons so that they become neutralized and won’t cause harm to your body. Antioxidants do this without destabilizing themselves.
 
2) Raspberries are good for digestion
 
Raspberries are rich in fiber and water, two things that can help prevent constipation and consequently keep a healthy-functioning digestive tract. According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Kentucky, high fiber intake is associated with a significantly lower risk of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases.

A cup of raspberries contains 8 grams of fiber (and 5 net carbs)!

Fiber is very important to your well-being, and even though there is a lot of variation from person to person as to how much is ideal and which food forms are ideal, your gut bugs need some fiber to thrive.

A 2017 study shows that fiber is vital in keeping the gut microbes healthy and functioning well. Fiber feeds your intestinal bacteria, which makes them grow in number and kind (*please note that some gut conditions like SIBO will require special considerations). When this happens, intestinal mucus wall thickens, preventing leaky gut and improving digestion.

As an added benefit, a strong mucosal barrier reduces  inflammation throughout your entire body, not just in your gut.

To learn more about leaky gut and inflammation, you can check out this article I wrote on it.

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

-Rebecca

Poo Matters: What You Need to Know about Constipation

Yep. Today we are going to be talking about poop and what some underlying causes of constipation are.

The truth is, we often think imbalance in the diet is to blame when we’re suffering from constipation. It’s true in most circumstances, but we should not forget that there are other factors that play a role.

Let’s understand first why the gut is so important and then how the gut works to have a bowel movement.

Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.

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.

Nothing will spoil your day like being “backed up” and holding onto waste in your intestines. You don’t feel well physically or mentally when you’re constipated. Let’s take a closer look at what is going in in there.

After you eat, food travels from your stomach to the small intestines or small bowel. After nutrients are absorbed in your small bowel, your body needs to expel the leftover waste. So the small bowel delivers this leftover waste to the colon or large bowel. The colon is a 5- to 6-foot muscular tube that delivers stool to the rectum, and while stool passes along this tube, fluids are removed and absorbed into your body. Your gut needs two important things to carry on this function: pressure and lubrication. Fiber from your diet, muscle tone, physical activity, and a healthy nervous system create the pressure your gut needs to propel stool forward in your digestive tract. The pressure also relaxes the lower sphincter so that stool can pass. Lubrication, on the other hand, is achieved by drinking enough water and hydrating fluids (coffee doesn’t count as it is a diuretic) and eating healthy fats (like olive oil, flax, ghee, avocado, coconut, etc). By the way, having enough hydration is also important for creating pressure.

In addition to considering your intake of fiber, fluids, and healthy fats, remember that transit time– how long the stool sits in your colon–and the amount of water absorbed from the waste also affect the consistency of your stool. These factors are affected by a number of mechanisms.
Let’s explore some of them:

Hormones

Did you know that an adequate progesterone level is required to have a healthy bowel movement? Low progesterone levels can cause your colon to slow down..and the longer the stool stays in the colon, the drier it gets and the more difficult it is to pass through.

Low estrogen also slows down the digestive process. How so? Estrogen keeps cortisol, your primary stress hormone, in check. When cortisol levels rise, your body’s digestive process is impaired and slows down. Similar to low progesterone, this lengthens the time it takes to break down food and slows down evacuation of stool.

I’ve worked with a lot of people who have low thyroid function. In people with low thyroid, metabolism slows down (sometimes significantly!), resulting in the same effects low levels of estrogen and progesterone have on the bowel.

Nervous System

Butterflies in the stomach when you’re nervous happens for an obvious reason: your gut and nervous system are very much in sync. Stress affects the gut and vice versa. As I mentioned earlier, the stress hormone cortisol delays the digestive process. Adding insult to injury, the key nutrients that help you with relaxation and laxation (aka good BM’s), magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C, decrease when stress is high. Not a good combo! You need more nutrients to handle your stress, not less.
By disrupting your nutrients, imbalancing your stress hormones, and nervous system, it comes as no surprise that stress can also cause inflammation in your gut.

Lifestyle

Your body was designed for regular physical activity. That’s why a sedentary lifestyle is precursor to a variety of conditions, including constipation. In order for the muscles of your bowel to contract properly, your body must get the exercise it needs every day. This can be as simple as walking.

Emotions

This goes hand in hand with what we’ve talked about already with your nervous system and stress hormones.  When you experience emotional imbalance, it can cause you stress and/or be caused by stress.  Your body tends to freeze and slow down to protect you. That’s why, in traditional Chinese medicine, constipation is associated with being unable to let things go. With clients who’ve struggled with chronic constipation, exploring emotional holding patterns is an important key.

Now that you know more about what can contribute to constipation, how can you apply this to improving your digestion? What’s a baby step you can take? As they say, progress, no matter how small, is still progress! And I am rooting for you.

In the next newsletter, I will be giving you some tips and actions to fix and support constipation.

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

-Rebecca

Soaked Nuts & Seeds

People often ask me if it’s healthy to eat nuts and seeds. My answer?

It depends.

When nuts and seeds are raw or roasted, they are less digestible and absorbable. I’ll explain why.

Nuts and seeds have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors–enzymes are what your body uses to digest foods. When you soak nuts in warm salt water, there are digestive and health benefits. The water helps neutralize many of the enzyme inhibitors that interfere with digestion as well as increase the bioavailability of many nutrients, especially b-vitamins and protein. The salt helps activate enzymes that deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts.

Within 7-24 hours (depending on the seed or nut), many of the enzyme inhibitors are broken down. Then you can use the oven or dehydrator to make the nuts or seeds nice and crispy (and shelf stable).

The harder the nut or seed, the longer it needs to soak. Here are some good guidelines:

Long-soak nuts (almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts) need at least 8 hours.

Medium-soak nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), 6-7 hours

Short-soak nuts (cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts) have the highest fat content and require only 2 to 4 hours soaking. I recommend not soaking these nuts for longer than 4 hours as it breaks down their healthy oils.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind per container, not mixed nuts, for example in case of varying soaking time)
  • 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

What to Do:

  • Place the warm water in a large bowl or jar (half gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
  • Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
  • Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Rinse in a colander and spread on a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet and add some sea salt if desired. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150-170 F if your oven goes that low) or dehydrate until completely dry. This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold. Dehydrating time can often be up to 24 hours. You’ll know they are done when you eat one and it’s nice and crispy (no chewiness).
  • NOTE: If you plan to use nuts or seeds to make homemade almond milk or any other variety, this is the best time, as they are already softened.