BEC’S COCOA TONIC

I’m sharing with you my favorite morning beverage recipe. I love this soothing drink for several reasons: it is high in digestible protein, soothing to the mucosal barrier (and therefore awesome for the immune system and for reducing inflammation), a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron; rich in important fat-soluble vitamins & fatty acids like CLA; oh and it is also delicious!

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Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of hot water
  • 1/4 cup of cold water
  • 2 tsp-1 T Great Lakes Gelatin (beef or pork)
  • 1 T cocoa powder (I prefer Navitas Naturals)
  • 1 T raw butter (you can use unsalted organic butter, but raw butter has a very different flavor and provides additional benefits to the immune system-beneficial enzymes & bacteria) OR splash of cream or dairy free cream/milk
  • Optional: sweetener such as stevia or honey

How To:

  1. Add gelatin powder to a large mug and cover with cold water so that it dissolves completely (this is important! Otherwise you’ll have a very clumpy drink…you may need to mix with a spoon to make sure all the gelatin powder is covered with water).
  2. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil.
  3. Add cocoa powder to the mug.
  4. Once the water boils, add to the mug and stir thoroughly to mix the cocoa and gelatin.
  5. Add the raw butter OR milk/cream and stir well. Enjoy!

Environmental Toxicants & Neurodegenerative Diseases

Today we are going to explore the rising number of neurodegenerative diseases (diseases where there is a loss of function in the brain such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, etc) and how environmental toxicants play a contributing role.

This is a really important topic because it affects every single one of us: we are all aging every day and people aged 65 and older are the fastest-growing segment of the global population.
 
While aging is a normal process, it is not normal to develop neurodegenerative diseases.


 
Developing such disorders can be blamed on genetics, but did you know that being exposed to environmental toxicants can increase your risk of developing these conditions?
 
According to research, AD and PD development are attributed to exposure to heavy metals and pesticides. 
 

Heavy Metals That Increase Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease

The following heavy metals contribute to the development of AD by increasing oxidative stress in the neurons (nerve cells) and causing inflammation and apoptosis or cell death.
 
Lead
 
Lead is toxic to the nervous system and once it enters the body, it rapidly crosses the blood-brain barrier. Exposure to lead during the developmental years, acute exposure, or lead poisoning can cause inflammation, increased neuronal oxidative stress, and cell death.
 
From paint to toys, lead can almost be found anywhere today. Check out this list here to see what else contains lead.
 
Cadmium
 
Just like lead, cadmium has the same effects on neuronal cells. In an experiment, mice exposed to drinking water with cadmium, later on, developed deteriorated learning and memory abilities.
 
For non-smokers, the primary source of cadmium is the diet, more particularly from plants grown in soil or meat from animals that fed on plants grown in soil as well as cosmetics. Smoking exposes one to cadmium because cigarettes contain 0.5 – 5 ppm of cadmium.
 
Manganese
 
Manganese, in required low levels, is actually important to our cells. But in excessive amounts, it is also neurotoxic. Aside from occupational exposure, the general population can be exposed to manganese through the diet because there are a lot of foods rich in manganese. However, toxicity occurs when there are elevated levels in drinking water or air. Inhaled manganese (industrial byproduct) is directly transported to the brain before it is metabolized by the liver and symptoms of toxicity may appear gradually and over months or even years.
 

Pesticides and Parkinson’s Disease

Next to AD, Parkinson’s Disease is another neurodegenerative disorder that affects old people. It is characterized by motor and nonmotor symptoms. People with PD display tremors, muscle rigidity, muscle cramps, freezing, and slowness of movement. They can also suffer from depression and dementia.
 
Years of studies have shown the link between exposure to pesticides and the development of Parkinson’s disease, and the group of pesticides that are frequently associated with PD is known as organochlorines. They are toxic to the neurons and promote oxidative stress.
 
Now that we get the idea about heavy metal exposure and how they contribute to the development of AD and PD, let’s learn what are the available methods to manage them in functional medicine.
 
Probiotics
 
We’ve discussed many times before that probiotics are critical for gut health. Since the gut acts as our secondary immune system, strengthening the gut with the aid of probiotics is essential to enhance our intestinal and systemic immune defense, which is necessary to achieve health and well-being. In addition, some probiotics have antimicrobial abilities, and according to studies, they reduce pathogenic toxins. In light of this, using probiotics is a simple way to lessen heavy metal toxicity.
Probiotics exist in living foods as well as in supplement form…and in nature like forests and soil! Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, yogurt, kvass, kefir, and tempeh are a few examples of probiotic foods/drinks. Spending time outside in nature also exposes you to beneficial bacteria. And then of course, there are many probiotic supplements (see my guide here).
 
Nutrition
 
To reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, our diet should be rich in antioxidants, such as nuts, leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and spices. Also, certain nutrients and even our dietary patterns can protect us from cognitive decline. We should include in our diet foods that are high with B-vitamins (i.e. meat, salmon, eggs, broccoli, sunflower seeds, etc), vitamin D (fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms), folate (green leafies, avos), polyphenols, and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (i.e. fatty fish).
 
Nutrition is an important tool in the prevention and treatment of neurodegeneration. By using foods that contain certain nutrients, inflammation can be reduced, symptoms are relieved, and quality of life is improved.

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

Understanding Blood Sugar Test Results

Today we are going to explore what certain test results really mean about your health and what you can do if you have levels of high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP), hemoglobin A1C (HbaA1c), fasting blood sugar, fasting insulin, post-meal glucose, and homeostatic model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR).
 
It is just important that you are able to make sense of your lab results and know why the optimal, not just the standard range matters. As I have mentioned before, an illness may already be present even when the lab tests have standard results. 
 

But before digging into the above mentioned metabolic markers, let’s understand the basics of diabesity first: diabetes and obesity together. There are two types of diabetes: Type 1 and Type 2. Both of them make the sugar levels high, but they do so in different ways.
 
After a meal, our blood glucose elevates and triggers the pancreas to produce insulin. Insulin is the only way for the glucose to enter the cells, so without insulin, glucose in the blood remains high, which is not good because it can cause health problems.
 
In type 1 diabetes, your body’s own immune system attacks the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. So the pancreas stops producing insulin and blood sugar level increases, which is very dangerous and even deadly if not addressed.
 
In type 2 diabetes, your pancreas still produces insulin but your body doesn’t respond to it as it should. Less glucose enters the cells and your blood sugar level remains high. This is called insulin resistance. In response, your pancreas works even harder to produce more insulin, putting a strain on the organ, and eventually leading to greater malfunction.
 
Now let’s understand where metabolic markers in blood tests play a role in diabesity.
 

High Sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP)

The liver creates hsCRP and when there is inflammation, this protein becomes elevated in your blood. We know that inflammation is an indicator of metabolic dysfunction. The higher the result, the more inflammation there is in your body. People with chronic inflammation, including those with obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, leaky gut, cardiac-related inflammation and cancer have high hsCRP.
 
A result of more than 2 mg/dl means you have a higher risk for cardiac disease while lower than that means you’re less at risk. However, for optimal results, 0.5 mg/dl or lower is best.
 

Hemoglobin A1C (HbaA1c)

This is a way to assess blood glucose averages over the preceding three months, since glucose molecules attach to the hemoglobin of red blood cells which tend to live for about three months. This process is known as glycation.
 
Your HbaA1c can tell you if your blood glucose levels have been high over a period of time. So even when you have a normal fasting blood sugar level, your HbaA1c can be high and this will give you the idea of what is really going on in your body. This used to be done only to monitor diabetics, but it can diagnose prediabetes and diabetes. The standard value considered to be normal is less than 5.7%. More than that is considered prediabetes (5.7%-6.4%) and diabetes (>6.5%)
 

Fasting Blood Sugar

This measures the blood glucose levels without being affected by a recent meal. You have to typically fast for about 8-12 hours before the test.
 
Blood sugar matters. When it is chronically high, it can damage your blood vessels and nerves and affects your vital organs.
 
Below 100 mg/dl is considered normal but optimal is below 90 mg/dl (some experts even say below 85 is ideal). Higher than 100 mg/dl is indicative of prediabetes (100-125 mg/dl) or diabetes (126 mg/dl).
 

Fasting Insulin

This measures insulin levels without being affected by a recent meal. The pancreas is designed to produce insulin in response to the high blood glucose levels. It works just to maintain the normal blood glucose levels, so getting fasting insulin will give you a sense of how hard your pancreas is working to keep your blood glucose down.
 
The normal range is below 25 mIU/L. This means you have strong insulin resistance. Shoot for the optimal levels, which is lower than 8 mIU/L.
 

Post-Meal Glucose

This test measures your blood sugar levels two hours after a meal. Not every metabolic dysfunction can be diagnosed through a fasting glucose test, so it’s valuable to check postprandial (after meal) glucose as well. A spike in blood glucose after eating can cause atherosclerosis and damage the walls of your blood vessels. So if the glucose spikes become chronic, you are at a high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
 
The standard range is less than 140 mg/dl, but the optimal level is below 120 mg/dl.
 

Homeostatic Model Assessment for Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR)

This indirectly measures how your body’s insulin is working in dealing with glucose using the following equation:
 
(Score) = (Fasting insulin) x (Fasting glucose) / 405
 
When you have the results for fasting insulin and fasting glucose, then you’ll be able to identify your HOMA-IR. A healthy range is between 0.5 and 1.4, but aim for less than 0.5 for optimal results. Lower results mean you are insulin sensitive (which is what you want!). You only require a little insulin to lower your blood glucose levels. Higher results, on the other hand, mean you are insulin resistant and your body doesn’t respond well to the effect of insulin so your cells don’t take the glucose from your blood.
 
I hope this will help you better understand your metabolic health markers and your overall health status as well.

Your diet and lifestyle hugely influence metabolic markers! Eating a clean diet rich in high quality protein and plants, healthy fats, drinking plenty of water, getting 7+ hours of sleep each night, moving your body daily, and managing your stress throughout the day are the foundations to good 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. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

Understanding Cholesterol Markers

Getting blood tests is routine for many of us. Most of us do it at least twice a year during physical exams.  To empower you to understand what the results mean and what the values reflect in terms of what’s going on inside your body, it is crucial to look beyond the standard explanations.
 
Here are a couple of things you have to remember when looking at the numbers:

  1. Lab markers don’t exist in isolation. Each lab marker is related to one another, so we are going to look at them in context of their relationship with other markers.
  2. The “standard” numbers don’t guarantee that you are healthy. They can even mean that you have a growing problem that needs to be taken care of. Aim for the “optimal” result (explained below).

 
In this newsletter, I will tackle the cholesterol markers, what they are measuring and what is optimal. So let’s dig in!

Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol (LDL-C)

LDL-C is most commonly known as the “bad cholesterol” and is implicated as the cause of plaque that leads to atherosclerosis. However, LDL is not the ultimate indicator of our cardiovascular health (in fact, it’s not even a type of cholesterol! It’s like a taxi cab shuttling cholesterol around your body). In fact, about half of the people rushed to the emergency room due to heart attack have “normal” cholesterol levels. What is not normal, however, is having higher levels of small cholesterol particles caused by insulin resistance of metabolic syndrome.
 
Thus, if you want to know your cardiovascular health status, you better go look for triglycerides: they are a much better marker than LDL. The serum triglyceride, when unloaded of its fat at the adipose tissue site, becomes these small dense LDL particles. The triglyceride-to-HDL ratio or the ratio of bad to good cholesterol is the true indicator of cardiovascular disease because it shows the number of small dense LDL. It is also a marker for insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome.
 
Don’t focus too much on the LDL values alone, but rather on what type of LDL it is that makes up the total number. For your reference, the standard for LDL values is <100mg/dl but the optimal is <70mg/dl.

 
Triglycerides

When calories go unused, triglycerides are stored in fat cells. In the blood, they are carried by VLDL or very-low-density lipoproteins which become LDL minus the triglycerides.
 
When you have a high level of triglycerides in the blood, it may indicate that you have metabolic syndrome and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as a high risk for acute pancreatitis.
 
Increased triglycerides also reflects the quality of your diet because it is associated with high intake of refined and processed foods.
 
The standard result for triglycerides is below 150 mg/dl, but optimal is below 100 mg/dl or even lower.
 

High-Density Lipoprotein-Cholesterol

As opposed to LDL-C, HDL-C is widely known as “good cholesterol” because it carries some cholesterol back to the liver to be broken down and eliminated from the body as waste (like LDL, it isn’t named properly as it is NOT cholesterol but rather a shuttle for cholesterol back to the liver).
 
Since HDL removes lipids from cells and blood vessels, a high HDL value is considered to be protective against heart disease.
 
An HDL value above 60 mg/dl is ideal.
 

Total Cholesterol

This is a measure of the total cholesterol, including both the HDL and LDL. The normal total cholesterol should be less than 200 mg/dl, but the result should be taken in context to its ratio to the HDL rather than the total number. This is why just looking at the total cholesterol can be deceiving! 

 
Total Cholesterol-to-HDL Ratio

The higher the ratio, the higher the risk of heart disease. A ratio of 5:1 is recommended, but below 3.5:1 is considered very good and even less than 2:1 is the optimal.
 

Triglyceride-to-HDL Ratio

This is the most powerful test to predict your risk for a heart attack. If this number is high, you increase your risk by 16 times! This is because triglycerides go up and HDL drops with insulin resistance. So this is definitely the best marker of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and heart attack risk. The bottom line is, this is the one marker you should focus on. Naturally, lower is better. If you have higher than 2:1, you are at high risk. Aim for 1:1-2:1, but less than 1:1 is the best.
 
I hope that this newsletter has empowered you to take a deeper look at your next blood test’s results. Diet and lifestyle greatly influence triglycerides, insulin, and metabolic syndrome and is, in my opinion, a far more valuable use of your time and energy to improve rather than your total cholesterol level.

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

How to Restore Gut Health with Tributyrin

In last week’s newsletter, we explored  postbiotics and their role in restoring gut health.
Continuing with that conversation, this week’s newsletter will tackle the incredibly important short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) butyrate (which is a postbiotic) and it’s critical role in a healthy gut.
 
Being a postbiotic, butyrate is one of the end products when your gut microbes ferment dietary fibers. Among the SCFAs, butyrate has garnered more attention because of its beneficial effects on cellular energy metabolism and intestinal homeostasis.
 
Although it is the least abundant among the short-chain fatty acids, it is still considered the most important.
 
The cells that line the large intestines, called colonocytes, use butyrate as their energy source so they can multiply and function normally. Without butyrate, these cells will just die. In addition to that, butyrate has anti-inflammatory properties that enhance intestinal barrier function (think prevent leaky gut!), and increase the immunity of the GI mucosa.
 

Summary of Butyrate Benefits

  • Fights inflammation
  • Aids in intestinal motility
  • Stimulates the absorption of water and sodium
  • Maintains the protective mucus layer of the intestines
  • Helps fight leaky gut

 
Because butyrate maintains and restores gut health, and fiber fermentation leads to butyrate production, it goes without saying that it is important that you have a good supply of dietary fiber. This way, your gut microbes are supercharged to produce butyrate.
 
However, not all people can tolerate eating a high-fiber diet. Gas is also produced when fiber is fermented, so this can cause flatulence, bloating, and stomach discomfort for some people. Others may experience either diarrhea or constipation.
 
So how can you increase butyrate in the gut when a high-fiber diet is not tolerated?
 
First, you can try a very gradual progression with fiber-rich foods–go slow and let your body adjust. Secondly, try a variety of sources of fiber-rich foods since you might tolerate some a lot better than others (this is known as biochemical individuality).
Third, this is where butyrate supplementation comes in.
 
Specifically tributyrin.
 
According to research, tributyrin is more effective and easier to use than some other supplemental butyrate. Since butyric acid salts are easily absorbed in the small intestines, you need a form that can reach the large intestine as well.
 
Tributyrin has a high bioavailability–meaning the body absorbs it well and uses it as intended. So when you take tributyrin, there’s nothing wasted. 
 
The brands I recommend are Healthy Gut Tributyrin-X and Designs for Health Tri-butyrin Supreme. Both are very high quality brands.
 
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

Postbiotics and Their Role in Restoring Health

Postbiotics and Their Role in Restoring Health

While prebiotics and probiotics have gained a lot of attention in recent years, there’s another tool that you should know about and may need.
 
There is no denying that prebiotics and probiotics are extremely valuable for your gut and overall health and well-being. But postbiotics may be an even more essential tool.

Probiotics, Prebiotics and Postbiotics

I know the terms can be kind of confusing, so let’s first get clear on what each is.
 
Probiotics — are live healthy or friendly bacteria that naturally reside in the gut or come from an external source such as supplements. Your gut microbiome is made up of probiotics that help you be healthy. The human body and probiotics live in a symbiotic relationship, in which we provide the probiotics with free lodging plus meals and in turn, we benefit from their presence and the byproducts they produce.
 
Prebiotics — are the nutrients that feed the probiotics or the gut microbes. They are usually dietary fiber that can be found in plants foods like green leafies, vegetables, fruits, starches, and collagen from animal foods.
 
Postbiotics — are the byproducts of the action of probiotics as they consume prebiotics. These byproducts are bioactive compounds that result when the healthy bacteria ferment fiber. There are actually different types of postbiotics, but one that is widely known is the SCFA or the short-chain fatty acids.
 
To put it simply, prebiotics are the food for the probiotics or bacteria in the gut. When the probiotics ferment the prebiotics, postbiotics are produced and you get the benefit of that.

A Closer Look at Postbiotics and Their Benefits

 The benefits of having a diverse gut microbiome and eating enough fiber all result in the production of postbiotics, particularly the SCFA. SCFAs are the main source of energy for cells lining your colon, so they are valuable in keeping your colon healthy. In addition, they provide about 10% of your daily caloric needs and are essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
 
SCFA is also associated with decreasing the risk of inflammatory diseases, type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions. It also helps to prevent and treat diarrhea, reduce symptoms associated with irritable bowel disease, and reduce symptoms of some allergies.
 
Technically, whatever benefits probiotics provide is the same as what postbiotics can offer.
 
The SCFAs in your body are butyrate, acetate, and propionate. But the most commonly studied and most powerful of the three is butyrate. Despite that, other SCFAs are important as well.
 
Acetate maintains the right pH of your gut, which is just acidic enough for the good microbes to thrive and survive and to keep the pathogenic ones out. It also helps protect you from unnecessary weight gain because it helps control your appetite and regulates the storage of fat. In addition, acetate nourishes the bacteria that produce butyrate. 
 
Just like acetate, propionate also suppresses appetite. It lowers cholesterol, reduces fat storage, and protects against cancer. It has anti-inflammatory effects as well. Meaning, it helps to protect you from various inflammatory diseases like atherosclerosis.
 
In next week’s newsletter, we’ll delve into butyrate and postbiotic supplementation.
 
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

Iodine Support for Thyroid Health

The butterfly-shaped gland in front of your neck–aka the thyroid–is a vital gland. Your thyroid gland creates, stores, and releases hormones which control your metabolism.


 
Metabolism is like a generator: using material from the food you eat and converting it into energy to provide power for your body to keep all your organs working and your body running smoothly.
 
The thyroid gland uses a mineral called iodine from food to create your thyroid hormones: T4 or thyroxine and T3 or triiodothyronine. These two hormones tell your cells the right speed in which to work  in order to meet the energy demand of your body.
 
But, there’s more to the picture. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland (in your brain) also control the release of thyroid hormones. If T3 and T4 levels are low, the hypothalamus produces TSH-a hormone that stimulates the pituitary gland to release TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone). This TSH commands the thyroid to increase the production of thyroid hormones. So basically, your pituitary gland is your thyroid’s boss and your thyroid is responding to the hormonal messages received from your pituitary gland.
 
This works vice versa. If T3 and T4 are high in the blood, the pituitary gland releases less TSH so that the thyroid gland also releases less thyroid hormones (so the pituitary gland does listen and respond to the feedback provided by the hormones in your blood).
 

What Thyroid Hormones Do

Thyroid hormones are very important because they affect almost every cell of your body. Remember, they control metabolism. When you have low T3 and T4, your heart rate slows down, your digestion slows down…You may have a hard time processing the food you ate, so you’ll probably end up with constipation and weight gain. The opposite occurs if you have high T3 and T4. Your heart tends to beat rapidly, you may have diarrhea, and weight loss.
 
In a nutshell, when your thyroid doesn’t work properly, it throws off just about everything else in your body and symptoms are going to start popping up.
 
There are different diseases that can impact your thyroid’s function. It can either be a tumor, an autoimmune disease, or iodine deficiency or excess. Whichever it is, two conditions can happen with regard to your thyroid hormone production: hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone in the body) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone in the body).
 
I encourage you to take a look at the mineral iodine to support optimal thyroid function. Since iodine is what is needed to make thyroid hormones, it is important to get 150 mcg of iodine/day as recommended by the National Institute of Health.
 
In addition to keeping the thyroid healthy, iodine is also essential for brain development in utero and in infancy.
 
Unfortunately, about 2 billion people around the globe have an iodine deficiency.
 

Best Sources of Iodine

The best sources of iodine are fish and other seafood, sea vegetables (nori, kelp, wakame), dairy products (yogurt, cheese), and iodized salt. 
 


If you are looking to add non-food iodine, pure iodine solution contains easy-to-absorb iodine that you can take orally for your thyroid or even topically as a spray to give your skin added protection.
 
Of course, if you have any underlying disease condition (like autoimmune thyroid), talk with a healthcare professional first before trying anything. I also recommend functional testing on a regular basis to see what your iodine levels are so that you can see if supplementation beyond diet-rich iodine foods makes sense for 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. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

How Exercise Changes Your Gut Microbiome

A whole world is residing inside your gut–the world made of a wide cluster of bacteria, fungi, and other microscopic organisms–working to support your digestion and overall health.

The gut microbiome starts in early life. Inside the womb, the fetus’ gastrointestinal tract is sterile because the uterine environment is sterile. During birth, the newborn is exposed to the maternal microflora and the external environment, which begin to colonize the gut, forming the initial gut microbiome. As the infant grows, the different internal and external factors they are exposed to affect the development and diversity of the bacteria inside the gut. And by 1 year old, the gut microbiome of the child begins to look like an adult’s.

The gut microbiome continues to vary as you grow and is affected by your genes, age, diet, lifestyle, life events (e.g., pregnancy, menopause, etc.), intake of antibiotics, and exposure to different environmental conditions.

Your gut microbiome is essential for the digestive process because it facilitates movement of food through peristalsis, strengthens the GI lining, and maintains homeostasis or balance in the GI tract. It also has a protective function through the immune system and affects metabolic health. A thriving gut microbiome is equivalent to a strong immune system and healthy metabolism.

But what characterizes a great microbiome?

Microbial diversity.

The gut microbiome should be made up of hundreds of varying species. In fact, a diverse microbiota profile is linked to increase in vitamin and short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production, dietary fiber metabolism, and disease protection.

If the composition of the gut microbiome is not diverse, homeostasis is lost. Dysbiosis occurs. The gut microbiome fails to function in favor of the host, you. And this causes digestive problems and the rest of the body is affected–immune function, metabolism, and even the brain.

Your gut microbiome is a reflection of you. Meaning, the microorganisms colonizing your gastrointestinal tract eat what you eat, get stressed when you do, and, as researchers found out, benefit when you exercise!

According to studies, exercise is connected to the increase in the number of beneficial bacteria and microbial diversity. Even little changes such as doing daily moderate exercises (than never) has an impact on the gut microbiome.

Several other studies support this finding. One of the major studies conducted in this matter involved elite rugby players, which demonstrated that exercises enriched the diversity of gut microflora.

This goes to show that it’s not only diet but also increased physical activity and exercises that affect the gut microbiome in positive ways.

But which type of exercise benefits the gut?

There are two types of exercise: strength and endurance.

Exercises that develop strength are high intensity such as weight lifting and boxing. They are also called anaerobic exercises because they don’t use oxygen to produce ATP or energy. They use glycogen stores instead.

On the other hand, exercises that develop endurance are lower intensity but are sustained over longer periods. Examples are walking, jogging, swimming, and biking. They are known to be aerobic exercises because oxygen is used to create energy to fuel this type of exercise. It’s otherwise known as cardio exercise because it keeps your heart rate up.

Between the two, it’s cardio that benefits your microbiota by increasing the beneficial bacteria and increasing its diversity.

If you are just starting with cardio, go gradually. Soon you will find yourself sustaining more. Also if you have existing medical conditions, consult your healthcare provider first for advice on the exercises that you can do.

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

An Ancient Oil that Can Help You Sleep

Sleep. When it’s going well, we don’t think much of it, but when it’s not…it impacts EVERYTHING else. Sleep is an important function to recharge your mind and body so that you are refreshed, alert, emotionally well-balanced, and have stable energy.
 
When you sleep, your brain works to prepare you for the next day. While you are sleeping, your brain maintains nerve pathways that let you learn and create new memories. Sleep also performs some sort of housekeeping by removing toxins from the brain that accumulate while you’re awake.
 

If you have a good night’s rest, you learn more quickly, have greater access to creativity, stay alert, think clearly, concentrate, and solve problems appropriately. The damage of sleep deprivation is widespread: it can lead to increased accidents (because of poor concentration) or can accumulate over time and increase your risk of chronic illnesses.
Sleep also plays a big role in keeping you healthy physically. Here are some examples:

  • Involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels.
  • Balances your hormones that make you feel hungry and full. So you tend to be hungrier when you don’t get enough sleep. In fact, sleep deficiency is associated with obesity.
  • Involved in how your body reacts to insulin. If you lack sleep, your blood sugar levels increase. This puts you at risk of diabetes.
  • Keeps the immune system healthy. You may have trouble fighting common infections if you are always sleep deprived.

Just like food and water, sleep is essential for survival, and quality sleep is a vital key in good health and well-being. And when I say quality sleep, I mean getting the right amount of sleep at the right times and being able to go through all the stages of sleep.
 
However, poor sleep is becoming a problem–maybe because of lifestyle, work, stress and anxiety, an underlying medical condition (discuss with your healthcare provider), or medication side effects. 
 
If you’ve been trying to get quality sleep, naturally–without sleeping pills, an ancient oil–the Black Cumin Oil, may do the trick.

Black cumin oil is an amber-colored oil extracted from the tiny black seeds of Nigella sativa, a plant native in Southwest Asia. It has been used for thousands of years to treat a wide range of conditions.
Aside from aiding in a good night’s rest, black cumin oil has other health benefits!

  • Supports digestive health!
  • Promotes healthy skin and hair
  • Manages inflammation
  • Aids in weight maintenance
  • Fights seasonal allergies
  • Soothes joint pains
  • Equalizes blood pressure

So how does black cumin oil help in getting you a better sleep?

The black cumin oil acts on the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) system. The HPA system has three components: the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. This system is important in maintaining homeostasis (balance) in the body by mediating the effect of stressors by regulating our physiologic functions. One of these physiologic functions is sleep.
 
If you have a hyperactive HPA system, the adrenal glands produce too much cortisol, which in turn increases your blood pressure and decreases your quality of sleep. With the help of black cumin oil, the hyperactivity of the HPA system is prevented and you get the quality sleep that you so deserve.
 
After taking black cumin oil, some people have reported they have vivid dreams! This is great clue that their quality of sleep has improved. Dreams occur during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, the fourth stage of the sleep cycle. Studies have linked REM sleep to memory consolidation, the process that converts recently learned experience into long-term memories.
 
Among the many brands available in the market today, I recommend the Black Cumin Oil of Activation Products. Check out their site for more info on black cumin oil and reviews of their product.
 
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

Top 3 Best Healthy Sweeteners

Sugar. We all know it’s not good for us and yet…many of us struggle to avoid it. Sugar negatively impacts every facet of good health including your teeth, joints, gut, thyroid, adrenals, skin, liver, weight, sleep, longevity…you get the picture! That’s why artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes have attracted many health-conscious individuals, fitness enthusiasts, and diabetic patients.

Today I want to explain the difference between artificial sweeteners and healthy sweeteners as well as share my favorites with you.

An artificial sweetener is a food additive that duplicates the taste of sugar. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar but it usually has fewer calories. With the trend in health and fitness awareness rising, artificial sweeteners have become really popular.

Since artificial sweeteners are commonly placed in “sugar-free” food products, they’re associated with weight loss, dental care, and managing diabetes mellitus and reactive hypoglycemia. However, artificial sweeteners pose health hazards such as brain tumorsbladder cancer, and weight gain in animal studies. There is some evidence that artificial sweeteners have carcinogenic effects in humans as well.

In this newsletter, I’ve compiled three healthy sweeteners that you can choose instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners to support your healing journey. These are better for your teeth, gut, weight, etc.

1. Monk fruit — Also known as lo han guo, monk fruit is a small green melon fruit named after the monks that cultivated it centuries ago. Native to southern China, it is famous in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has recently gained attention among health-conscious individuals because of its natural sweetness that can replace sugars.
Monk fruit sweetener, an extract derived from the dried monk fruit, is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for everyone. Unlike artificial sweeteners, monk fruit has no known side effects. It is completely natural but with a mild taste. The only downside is that it is expensive, and to make it affordable, it is often mixed with other sweeteners like stevia, erythritol or xylitol.

Since it has zero calories and carbs, it is generally safe for those with diabetes. It does not increase the sugar levels in the blood. However, don’t assume that all food products containing monk fruit sweeteners are carb- and sugar-free because they might still contain other sugars or undesirable ingredients.

The sweetness of monk fruit is due to the natural compounds called mogrosides. In a 2011 study, monk fruit was used in TCM to relieve sore throat. It is said that mogrosides have anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent cancer.

2. Stevia — Stevia is a sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, which is native to Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds of stevia are called steviol glycosides, which are 30-150 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, you only need a tiny amount to get the sweetness of sugar. The downside is it has a licorice-like, bitter aftertaste and is expensive as well. Some people have reported experiencing bloating and gas too, but the way stevia is processed can make all the difference. I really like the liquid SweetDrops as they are cleanly processed and generally well tolerated. To offset the aftertaste, stevia can be mixed with other sweeteners and is great for low-carb desserts, tea, and coffee.

The FDA classified stevia as GRAS as well.

3. Erythritol — Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a food additive and sweetener. This chemical compound is naturally occurring by fermenting the glucose from corn or wheat (so make sure you look for gluten-free, non-GMO on the label!). The taste is 70% sweetness of sugar and does well in baked products as well as non-baked desserts. It is affordable and ranks zero on the glycemic index scale–meaning it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin.

We don’t have an enzyme that breaks down erythritol, so what happens is it goes to the bloodstream and is excreted through the urine without any changes at all. And since it does not increase blood sugar levels, it is a great sugar replacement for people with diabetes. It also tends to be better tolerated than other sugar alcohols by the gut (though, like any food, test it for yourself).

There are other natural sweeteners available in the market, but these three are just my favorites. Staying healthy does not mean not ever indulging in sweets from time to time. Thanks to these natural and healthy sugar alternatives, it’s easier to do that without the backlash!

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