Ease Anxiety With These 4 Basics

I want to talk with you today about how important your gut health is for having a healthy, balanced mood and easing anxiety.

Quick reminder first that I’ll be co-hosting a free online class on Natural Solutions to Inflammation with Maverick Chiropractic & Wellness Sept 21st. You can find the details and sign up link here.

You may be familiar, from past newsletters of mine, with the gut-brain axis. Your brain and gut communicate with each other through neural (nerve), endocrine (hormones), and immune pathways.

In fact, the enteric nervous system (ENS) is also known as the body’s “second brain.” It controls certain gastrointestinal functions and constantly keeps in touch with the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

Your brain affects your gut and your gut affects your brain.

When you are anxious, whether due to a frightening event or chronic stress, stress hormones cause a disruption to your digestion. Stress hormones lead to destruction of friendly flora and overgrown of pathogenic flora in your gut microbiome, causing dysbiosis and a number of gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea. 

The other way around, since the gut and brain talk to each other, your mood and behavior and how you manage stress and anxiety depend on your gut health, particularly the health of your gut microbiome. Studies have led to the emerging concept that modulating gut microbiota may be a strategy in curing disorders of the nervous system.

There’s still more to research involving this connection, but in the March 2020 issue of the Human Microbiome Journala new study in humans found that a lower microbiome diversity and altered composition is linked to increased levels of stress and anxiety.

That is evidence speaking for itself–that if you want to reduce stress and anxiety, one way to do it is through your gut. Treat your gut better by doing these four basics. Yes, these are pretty basic (I bet you know them already!), but basic they may be, they are often taken for granted and therefore are powerful when done consistently.

1. Sleep well and exercise.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, you need at least 7 hours of sleep every night if you want to get its maximum benefits. Since it powers the mind, restores our depleted energy, and fortifies every system of the body, it is essential for health and keeps your gut healthy, too.

Don’t miss exercise as well. Keep moving. Those who exercise have more diverse gut microbiota, and that is our goal.
 
2. Manage stress and anxiety.


Stressors are constantly in our lives. It seems that they’re not going anywhere. However, we can choose how to deal with them so that they won’t damage our gut microflora, which in turn increases anxiety.

HeartMath, yoga, journaling, painting, talk therapy, and meditation are some of the techniques that ease stress. Doing one daily can help you cope with stress and anxiety.

3. Take probiotics.

Did you know that your gut microbes also make neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) that regulate your feelings of fear, anxiety, and stress?

But if your gut microbiome is thrown out of balance, the production of these neurotransmitters is affected and results in high anxiety and stress levels. This is where probiotics enter the picture.

Probiotics–either through supplements or food such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha–will help restore the diversity your gut microbiome.

4. Eat the food your gut loves.

Remember that you are what you eat (and absorb–digestion matters!). So if you want a healthy gut, eat foods that make the gut happy: fresh, local, colorful, fiber-rich produce (vegetables, leafies, and fruits) and a mixture of high quality protein and fat. Cut back on alcohol and processed and sugary foods since they destroy your gut microbiome and lead to mood imbalance. 

I hope that this newsletter reminds you how powerful these basics are and that by taking action to integrate them, you experience more ease in your day to day.

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. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

Your Brain on Processed Food

I want to talk with you today about how some of commonly eaten foods are affecting your brain, hormones, blood sugar, and inflammation.
And speaking about inflammation, in September I’ll be co-hosting a free online class on Natural Solutions to Inflammation with Maverick Chiropractic & Wellness. You can find the details and sign up link here.



Let’s begin our discussion with breakfast foods. Many common breakfast foods are processed and resemble dessert–not a great way to start your day!

Ideally, when you break your fast, you eat something nutrient-dense and rich in protein and fiber. A solid meal like that will suppresses ghrelin, the hunger hormone, so it decreases the likelihood of overeating throughout the day. 
 

The Danger of Processed Foods

As I mentioned, many common convenience breakfast foods are ridiculously high in sugar. 
 
Instant oatmeal, many cereals, granola bars, fruit yogurt smoothies, protein bars–while fast and cheap, are all laden with sugar.
Kellogg’s Raisin Bran has 16 grams per serving (that’s 4 teaspoons!). 
Kellogg’s Honey Smacks is 56% sugar.  According to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey, children especially are on sugar overload–they get half of their daily average intake of sugar at breakfast. That’s huge! An 8 oz glass of orange juice has 26 grams of sugar–a little over 6 teaspoons!
 
And it starts in childhood for many of us. According to the American Heart Association, kids are to be limited to 3-4 teaspoons of added sugar per day. But in a typical American breakfast, especially in schools, it gets extremely high up to 11 teaspoons.

How do processed sugary breakfasts affect your brain?

Well the damage starts in childhood if that’s when the habits start.
Sugar captivates your brain’s reward center like cocaine does. So as kids we get hooked on sugar early. That’s why we are seeing an increase in type 2 diabetes and liver diseases in children.
 
Dietary sugar is made up of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose is converted into energy, so we can sustain our biological functions, or deposited as fats to be used at a later time. Fructose can also be an energy source, however, there’s no biochemical reaction in the body that requires fructose. But here’s what you need to know: Fructose is metabolized in the liver similarly to alcohol. This is the reason why, when fructose is taken in huge amounts, it can be as toxic as alcohol. Even without any alcohol consumption, you can develop diseases typical of alcohol abuse such as type 2 diabetes and fatty liver disease.
 
The intestines and liver usually clear the majority of fructose, but with huge amounts, fructose can get into the brain and alter brain metabolism. Fructose gets into the astrocytes, the cells that nourish the neurons (brain cells), and cause glycation and oxidative stress–two of the eight subcellular pathologies of metabolic disease.
In addition to that, fructose disrupts two growth factors that help the brain develop and organize connections. These are leptin and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
 
Leptin is a hormone that comes from fat tissues and is known as the satiety hormone because it helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance. But aside from that, leptin has an important role in brain function and cognition.
 
BDNF works in the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, by laying new connections.
 
If this is how fructose works in the brain, then we shouldn’t wonder why high sugar diets and processed foods create symptoms like brain fog, poor memory, and difficulty concentrating.
 

What should you do?

First off, reduce both sugar and fructose in your diet.  Here are some recipes to help you out. If eggs don’t appeal to you, opt for unsweetened Greek yogurt (many dairy free options these days). Or skip traditional breakfast foods and opt for a meal more closely resembling a healthy lunch or dinner. 

You can choose options that are convenient AND healthy. If doesn’t have to be one or the other. Your health depends on it.

Also, the damaging effects of fructose can be counteracted by consuming Omega 3, which can be found in fish, seafood, nuts and seeds, and other foods.

These changes can make a huge difference in your health and well-being. After all, your health is your greatest wealth.
 
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. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

Lifestyle Hacks to Help Prevent Migraines

Are you one of the almost 40 million Americans who experience migraines? If yes, this is for you.

A migraine is a headache, only worse than any other. It is characterized by a throbbing or pulsating sensation, usually on one side of the head. It can involve symptoms like nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, and having an aura or visual disturbance.

What’s worse with migraines? They are not usually relieved by pain medications.

AND migraines last for hours or even days! If you get them 15 days a month, you are considered to have chronic migraines.

If you get migraines or know someone who suffers from them, you know how how extensively they can affect a person’s quality of life. It’s frustrating to deal with such a complex condition that brings so much physical pain. Fortunately, studies have been conducted to know some probable causes as to why migraines occur.

Though the real cause of migraines is unknown, it can be a hereditary condition. Those who have migraines have overactive nerve cells that trigger the release of substances that send pain signals to the brain. This occurs when there are external and internal triggers, such as bright lights (external) and dehydration and blood sugar fluctuation (internal).

Studies have shown that the abnormal activity of nerve cells starts in the hypothalamus, the almond-shaped structure in the brain that keeps the balance of your internal environment (what we call homeostasis). Basically, it regulates your body temperature, controls your appetite, and much more. Migraineurs seem to have a sensitive hypothalamus. Any external or internal disturbance can cause it to not function properly and cause a migraine attack.

Migraines occur twice as frequently in women than men, and this may be because women have monthly hormonal fluctuations (and for some women, they get migraines before or during their menstrual period).

review of 56 articles shows that poor metabolic health and insulin resistance are associated with migraines–which relate to blood sugar balance. In a study, men and women migraineurs have higher insulin levels compared to the healthy control group. The brain contains many insulin receptors, and insulin has behavioral and metabolic effects on the brain. Furthermore, insulin may stimulate gonadotropins, a reproductive hormone that is known to trigger migraines.

Another way insulin resistance causes migraine attacks is that an increased insulin level in the blood is correlated with increased nitric oxide stress, which is another migraine trigger.

Given that insulin-resistance plays a role in migraines, it is reasonable that lifestyle changes will help reduce or prevent migraine attacks.

So how?

The primary causes of insulin resistance are obesity, inactive lifestyle, insufficient sleep (fewer than 6-7 hrs/night), and a diet high in carbohydrates. Making the diet and lifestyle adjustments to support insulin balance is worthwhile–achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, committing to yourself to be more active every day, hydrate, get sufficient sleep, manage stress through HeartMath and/or meditation, and eating plenty of protein, food quality fats, and nutrient-dense carbs from vegetables and low sugar fruits.

A ketogenic diet has also been found to be effective in preventing migraine attacks. However, more research is needed on how the keto diet helps migraineurs.

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. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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