4 Foods that Improve Digestion

Almost all of us at some point encounter digestive problems at some time during our lives (i.e. bloating, gas, constipation, or diarrhea). It’s when these symptoms become part of what is “normal” for you, that it can indicate bigger underlying issues. 
Food is certainly something that can either trigger digestive issues or help us to have healthy digestion–depending on the food and also your unique gut situation. Today let’s look at some foods that generally can help you to improve your digestion.


1. Dark Leafy Greens

There’s a good reason why dark leafy greens are good for your gut. It’s because they contain something called–say it with me–sulfo-quino-vose or SQ for short.

And your gut microbes love SQ sooo much because it contains sulfur. Sulfur is an essential mineral for building protein, and your gut microbes use it to build protein as well. 

SQ is a great source of energy for your gut microbes and it also feeds E. coli in the gut. Wait! E. coli?! Yes, there are many strains of E. coli in the gut that are actually beneficial, providing a protective barrier between you and the potentially disease-causing bacteria in the gut (and only one strain of E. coli is harmful and it sometimes make its way into the food supply).

Great dark leafies to incorporate into your diet are kale, mustard greens, turnip greens, arugula, bok choy, and spinach. If you are experiencing digestive symptoms, I recommend lightly cooking them, chewing thoroughly and taking your time when you eat. 

2. Lean Protein

Striking the right balance of fat with your protein is important. If you have digestive issues or gallbladder imbalances (or have had your gallbladder removed), you may do best with leaner proteins so that you can customize your fat intake bit by bit. Lean protein helps you maintain a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. If you notice that you struggle to digest protein or that your energy drops after eating protein, this can be a sign of inadequate digestion or a food sensitivity. In general, having some fat with your protein actually helps your gut to assimilate it. Chew really well and be sure to space your intake of fluids about 20 mins before and after eating so you don’t dilute your digestive juices.

3. Low-Fructose Fruits

Fructose is a type of sugar naturally found in fruits, fruit juices, some veggies, and honey. Apples and pears are popular high-fructose fruits. Especially if you have fructose intolerance, these foods can cause stomachache, diarrhea, and gas.

Berries and citrus fruits like oranges have less fructose, so they are easier to tolerate and aren’t as likely to cause stomach upset (however, if you have ulcers or H. pylori, citrus should be avoided). Fruits like berries and greenish bananas that are rich in fiber and inulin, a substance that triggers the growth of good bacteria in your gut, are great choices.

4. Avocado

I discussed avocado in my previous newsletter about foods that boost brain function. But aside from that, avocado is also great for your gut! This fruit is amazingly packed with essential nutrients and fiber that promote digestive function. 

In a 2020 study, researchers found out that people who ate avocado every day as part of their meal had more beneficial gut microbes (that break down fiber and produce metabolites that support gut health). On top of that, their gut microbes are more diverse compared to people in the study who did not have avocado in their diet.

I hope that these suggestions are helpful 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

Stop Diarrhea with These Home Remedies

Diarrhea is characterized by loose, watery, and–more likely–frequent bowel movements. Just like its opposite, constipation, diarrhea is a common problem. 

Diarrhea can occur on its own or accompanied by other symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

Usually it is short-lived, but if it lasts longer than a few days, can be more than just an inconvenience. Diarrhea, if left unresolved, can lead to serious implications to your health because of the risk for dehydration. 

So what causes diarrhea?

Loose, watery stools or an increase in the frequency of bowel movements may be attributed to inappropriate water secretion of the intestines or attenuated absorption of water in the intestines. This is actually an attempt of the body to flush away viruses, bacteria, and toxins from the digestive tract: it’s a mechanism to protect you.

Even so, there are times when it is recommended to seek medical attention if you have diarrhea:
 

  • If it is accompanied by vomiting – this increases your chance for dehydration, so you need fluid replacement possibly via IV.
  • You experience dehydration, which is characterized by excessive thirst, little to no urination, dark-colored urine, weakness, fatigue, and dry mouth and skin. 
  • Your diarrhea does not resolve itself – and may be caused by a serious health condition.
  • You have severe abdominal or rectal pain.
  • You have a fever above 39 C or 102 F.
  • You have black tarry stools, which is indicative of bleeding in the stomach.
  • You have bloody stool or stool with pus.

The usual causes of diarrhea are as follows:

  • Food poisoning
  • Food allergies
  • Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and stomach flu
  • Side effect of some over-the-counter drugs and antibiotics
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Anxiety/Emotional stress
  • Malabsorption
  • Some forms of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Surgery
  • Fructose and artificial sweeteners

Conventionally, diarrhea is treated with over-the-counter antidiarrheal or anti-motility drugs. But as mentioned above, diarrhea is your body’s attempt to clear out the digestive tract from harmful bacteria, virus, or toxins. So stopping this “purge” may interfere with the body trying to protect itself and allowing the toxins or harmful microorganisms to stay inside. For this reason, many doctors recommend that you take such medications only after the acute phase of diarrhea. 

Chronic diarrhea is another story. Not only do you run the risk of sloughing off beneficial bacteria through repeated loose and frequent bowel movements, but its likely that there is something causing inflammation and diarrhea is the way your body is dealing with it, but it’s actually a symptom of the main cause. With chronic inflammation, some detective work is helpful. You can do food sensitivity testing or an elimination diet is to identify which foods trigger GI upset. I’m a fan of blood testing, but if you choose an elimination diet without testing you systematically avoid certain foods for a given time and see if the symptoms improve. When you include these foods back into your diet, you observe to see if symptoms return as well. This method helps you pinpoint which foods to avoid in relation to your diarrhea, but is often just part of the picture, especially if many foods are triggering diarrhea–this can indicate that deeper gut healing would be helpful for more permanent improvements.

Additionally,here are five home remedies that can help stop diarrhea:

Avoid trigger foods. Eat bland, safe foods.

The goal is to help your digestive system recover, so limiting foods that may be irritating can help your system’s inflammatory response calm down. Conventional dairy products, foods that have potential allergens (e.g., nuts and shellfish), processed fats and oils, added sugar and sweeteners, caffeine, and alcohol – are helpful to avoid if you have diarrhea. Also, you might want to eat smaller amounts spread throughout the day so as not to overload your digestive system while it is irritated.

Bland foods, like broth, eggs, apples, bananas, potatoes, may be easier on your tummy, and plant foods provide fiber to help add bulk to your stool. Fresh fruits and vegetables also replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.

Additionally, flaxseed oil in small amounts is a known antidiarrheal agent.

Raw honey and ginger added to herbal tea can also reduce GI irritation and soothe your tummy.

 

Stay hydrated.

Dehydration can be lethal, so make sure to replenish lost electrolytes and fluids. Bone broth is a great solution. It contains minerals in a ready-to-absorb form, so they’re the best source for electrolytes. When you stay hydrated, you’ll be able to combat weakness, fatigue, and lightheadedness when you have diarrhea.

Herbal teas, as long as they are not caffeinated, are also great because they can help in soothing the stomach. Homemade fruit ice pops, coconut water (depends on your case), and fresh vegetable juice are other options.

Aim for 16 ounces of fluids every hour to prevent dehydration. Pay attention to how thirsty you are and what color your urine is. You want your urine to be light yellow. Drink more when you don’t urinate or your urine is little and dark yellow and your thirst is severe.

Supplement.

To recolonize the colon with good microbes, take probiotics either in supplement form or fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi. Other supplements like glutamine powder, which can help repair the GI tract, may also be helpful but it is good to discuss this with a health practitioner to determine if it is appropriate for you and in what amount. Glutamine is a compound that is also found in bone broth.

Peppermint essential oil.

The peppermint essential oil contains compounds that counteract spasms by blocking calcium channels within the smooth muscles of the intestines. Thus, peppermint essential oil can help stop abdominal cramping and pains. This oil also reduces bowel inflammation and loose stools.

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

Boost Your Brain with These 5 Superfoods

Before diving into today’s topic, I want to express a huge THANK YOU for everyone who voted for me in the Good Times Santa Cruz Best of Awards–I am honored to be awarded the title of Best Nutritionist in Santa Cruz. It is my passion and purpose to support people to create unstoppable health. I am grateful and proud to work with the amazing people in my community and beyond!



Now, back to the brain! There are many ways to boost your brain’s performance. For example, doing exercises can actually improve your cognitive abilities. Those who exercise can effectively use certain areas of the brain as opposed to those who are not…and those who don’t exercise may even take a longer time to finish the same cognitive tasks compared with those who do exercise.

The following foods can also be used to support brain function. 

Avocado

The healthy fats, Omega 3 and Omega 6, in avocados increase blood flow to your brain, enhance nerve interaction, and may prevent strokes.

In 2012, a study found out that monounsaturated fatty acids help protect glial cells in the brain known as astrocytes, which regulate the transmission of electrical impulses within the brain.

In addition, avocado contains a variety of nutrients including 20 different vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and more.

Since avocado is very high in healthy fats (In fact, 77% of the calories come from fat.), they are excellent for your heart. Oleic acid, which is the majority of the fats in avocado, has a number of cardiovascular benefits.

Salmon 

Salmon is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid or DHA.

DHA is much needed to help infants’ brains to grow and develop properly. In adults, DHA is likewise important to maintain normal brain function. Plenty of DHA in your diet improves your learning ability while lack of DHA is associated with poor learning abilities.

Almonds

Though all nuts are superfoods, almonds are among the very best. They are packed with vitamin E which increases brain activity.

If you are getting forgetful, try including almonds into your diet. And you don’t need a lot. Even 8-10 almonds (soaked in water overnight) contains a good boost of healthy fats and minerals. Soaking the almonds first helps your body to easily absorb the nutrients. 

Almonds increase the levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that helps enhance memory and fights neurological degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Spinach

It’s no secret that green, leafy vegetables are great brain boosters, and spinach is no exemption. It is high in brain-healthy nutrients that help prevent or slow down the onset and development of cognitive decline.

Spinach in particular is one of the best sources of magnesium, vitamins E and K, lutein, and folate. These vitamins and minerals improve brain health, increase blood flow in the brain, and enhance the transmission of nerve impulses.

Blueberries

Blueberries are high in antioxidants that protect the brain from aging prematurely and from the damage of stress. Antioxidants are also associated with improving communication among brain cells.

Try incorporating these brain-boosting foods into your diet and experience for yourself the difference they make.

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 Get Rid of Bad Bacteria in the Gut

Your gutis an ecosystem. Every species plays an important role to keep everything in balance. Healthy diet and lifestyle lead to a default setting of balance within your gut. However, unhealthy diet and lifestyle practices can lead to imbalance of your gut ecosystem…and everything goes awry.

There are actually a very minimal number of truly “bad” gut microbes. The bacteria living in your gut react depending on what is around them. So the best way to maintain a healthy balance of flora in your gut is to keep a favorable environment for your good microbes to thrive: they will naturally protect you and the balance of other strains of flora which might act “unfriendly” if the environment of your gut doesn’t keep them in check.



Because of this balance, it’s usually better to achieve diversity in the gut rather than to eliminate bacteria. Here’s why:

  • Bacteria can easily develop resistance.
  • It’s hard to determine which bacteria cause your symptoms.
  • You can’t kill only specific strains or species. Eliminating bad bacteria affects good bacteria as well and will eventually lead to a loss of diversity.
  • Bacteria have the ability to hide in biofilms when under attack, making them even harder to kill.

So focus on diversifying your microbiome.

Remember that bacterial diversity is a key to having a healthy gut, and the universal sign of illness is losing microbial diversity down there. If you want a strong gut that is able to help you avoid getting sick, make sure that you support (through diet and lifestyle) different species and strains of microbes in your gut. 

According to research, the presence of certain types of gut bacteria in the right quantities is good for you. In fact, they can protect you from developing chronic illnesses. These bacteria include:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacteria
  • E. coli (specific strains)

Encouraging the growth of these species means eating foods that feed them. Check out the table to know which foods are great to boost which bacteria:

LactobacillusBifidoE. Coli
konjac root (also known as glucomannan or ‘shirataki’)
soy
apples
barley
wheat
bran
walnuts
chicory root
artichokes
buckwheat
bananas
nuts
onions
garlic
oats
blueberries
apples
Figs
Hazelnuts
Chickpeas

So when is weeding needed?

If you’re having symptoms regularly like heartburn, irregular bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation, or both), bloating, low or inconsistent energy, trouble sleeping, weight imbalance, skin rashes or breakouts, multiple food sensitivities or noticing that your body is reacting poorly to more foods over time.

Your health professional might suggest a gentle weeding of unwanted microbes if you have the following:

  • A comprehensive stool exam reveals an imbalance of beneficial versus opportunistic bacteria; a yeast imbalance; or a pathogen (like H. Pylori)
  • A breath test confirming SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth

In this instance, a medical doctor might prescribe antibiotics, and a functional health practitioner may offer herbal or plant-based antimicrobials which are proven to be just as, or even more, effective than antibiotics (certain formulas boost beneficial flora while discouraging high levels of problematic ones).

These are the foods that kill bad bacteria, but always bear in mind that they may also kill the good ones if overdone.

  • Garlic – Allicin in garlic is a potent antimicrobial. Aside from bacteria, it can kill fungi, protozoa, and viruses.
  • Oregano – It is one of the substances used to treat SIBO, even more effective than some pharmaceutical antibiotics.
  • Caraway seed oil, lavender flower oil, and ajwain seed soil – These essential oils are effective against Candida albicans and Bacteroides fragilis.
  • Green tea – Helps stop growth of Candida albicans and helps prevents other bad bacteria from settling in.
  • Pomegranate husk – The white part of this fruit is effective against certain species of bacteria such as E. Coli (E. Coli isn’t entirely bad: there are beneficial strains).

Taking high amounts these foods or pharmaceutical antibiotics should only be the last resort because of the collateral damage to the good microbes. This can lead to dysbiosis, paving the way to more illnesses. Aim for microbial diversity first. 

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

How to Get Rid of Bad Bacteria in the Gut

Your gutis an ecosystem. Every species plays an important role to keep everything in balance. Healthy diet and lifestyle lead to a default setting of balance within your gut. However, unhealthy diet and lifestyle practices can lead to imbalance of your gut ecosystem…and everything goes awry.

There are actually a very minimal number of truly “bad” gut microbes. The bacteria living in your gut react depending on what is around them. So the best way to maintain a healthy balance of flora in your gut is to keep a favorable environment for your good microbes to thrive: they will naturally protect you and the balance of other strains of flora which might act “unfriendly” if the environment of your gut doesn’t keep them in check.



Because of this balance, it’s usually better to achieve diversity in the gut rather than to eliminate bacteria. Here’s why:

  • Bacteria can easily develop resistance.
  • It’s hard to determine which bacteria cause your symptoms.
  • You can’t kill only specific strains or species. Eliminating bad bacteria affects good bacteria as well and will eventually lead to a loss of diversity.
  • Bacteria have the ability to hide in biofilms when under attack, making them even harder to kill.

So focus on diversifying your microbiome.

Remember that bacterial diversity is a key to having a healthy gut, and the universal sign of illness is losing microbial diversity down there. If you want a strong gut that is able to help you avoid getting sick, make sure that you support (through diet and lifestyle) different species and strains of microbes in your gut. 

According to research, the presence of certain types of gut bacteria in the right quantities is good for you. In fact, they can protect you from developing chronic illnesses. These bacteria include:

  • Lactobacillus
  • Bifidobacteria
  • E. coli (specific strains)

Encouraging the growth of these species means eating foods that feed them. Check out the table to know which foods are great to boost which bacteria:

LactobacillusBifidoE. Coli
konjac root (also known as
glucomannan
or ‘shirataki’)
soyapplesbarleywheat branwalnutschicory rootartichokesbuckwheat
bananasnutsonionsgarlicoatsblueberriesapplesFigsHazelnutsChickpeas

So when is weeding needed?

If you’re having symptoms regularly like heartburn, irregular bowel movements (diarrhea, constipation, or both), bloating, low or inconsistent energy, trouble sleeping, weight imbalance, skin rashes or breakouts, multiple food sensitivities or noticing that your body is reacting poorly to more foods over time.

Your health professional might suggest a gentle weeding of unwanted microbes if you have the following:

  • A comprehensive stool exam reveals an imbalance of beneficial versus opportunistic bacteria; a yeast imbalance; or a pathogen (like H. Pylori)
  • A breath test confirming SIBO or small intestine bacterial overgrowth

In this instance, a medical doctor might prescribe antibiotics, and a functional health practitioner may offer herbal or plant-based antimicrobials which are proven to be just as, or even more, effective than antibiotics (certain formulas boost beneficial flora while discouraging high levels of problematic ones).

These are the foods that kill bad bacteria, but always bear in mind that they may also kill the good ones if overdone.

  • Garlic – Allicin in garlic is a potent antimicrobial. Aside from bacteria, it can kill fungi, protozoa, and viruses.
  • Oregano – It is one of the substances used to treat SIBO, even more effective than some pharmaceutical antibiotics.
  • Caraway seed oil, lavender flower oil, and ajwain seed soil – These essential oils are effective against Candida albicans and Bacteroides fragilis.
  • Green tea – Helps stop growth of Candida albicans and helps prevents other bad bacteria from settling in.
  • Pomegranate husk – The white part of this fruit is effective against certain species of bacteria such as E. Coli (E. Coli isn’t entirely bad: there are beneficial strains).

Taking high amounts these foods or pharmaceutical antibiotics should only be the last resort because of the collateral damage to the good microbes. This can lead to dysbiosis, paving the way to more illnesses. Aim for microbial diversity first. 

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Improve Your Health (and Vagal Tone) With These 4 Tips

The vagus (sounds like Vegas) nerve plays a critical role in many areas of your health.  It’s the tenth cranial nerve and originates in your brainstem. It goes through your neck and thorax and extends down to your abdomen. It is one of the biggest nerves that connect your brain and gut through a two-way communication system. It sends an extensive range of nerve impulses from the digestive system and specific internal organs (liver, heart, and lungs) to your brain and vice versa. 

The vagus nerve plays several important roles in your day to day life including the regulation of internal organ functions including:

  • Digestion, heart rate, breathing, vasomotor activities (hormones, blood vessels), and some reflexes such as coughing, sneezing, swallowing, and vomiting
  • Regulation of our fight, flight, or freeze actions
  • Affects our anxiety levels and ability to handle emotional and physical stressors

So now, what is vagal tone?

Vagal tone is simply a measurement of how well your vagus nerve functions, and it is measured indirectly through heart rate variability (HRV). HRV is the amount of time in between heartbeats, which indicates the vagal activity of the heart. There should be variability in the amount of time between heartbeats. Meaning, that the more variable your HRV is, the better your vagal tone, and the less variable it becomes, the weaker is your vagal tone as well. I remember when I first learned about this it was counterintuitive–I thought it made sense that a healthy heart rhythm was one that was very evenly spaced, but that’s not the case! You don’t want a metronomic heartbeat–you want it to be dynamic and flexible.

HRV is also an indicator of fitness recovery because it reflects how well your body is recovering from stress and its ability to balance between the parasympathetic “rest and digest” branch and the sympathetic branch of your nervous system so that you can recover from exercise well.

The right HRV varies from person to person, thus your HRV baseline is individual. There’s no fixed HRV baseline, so a high or low HRV is not the same for everyone (more on this in a moment).

But low vagal tone is associated with the following:

* inflammatory bowel diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease
* neurological conditions (dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc)
* mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and PTSD
* diseases of the heart and blood vessels

How to track your HRV?

There are devices that can track your HRV. One of which is the Oura Ring. It tracks HRV during sleep and helps you find your baseline. I also really like the Inner Balance by the HeartMath Institute which provides HRV and feedback for improving it in the moment.

But the big question is how do you improve your vagal tone?

There’s a method that is already well-researched in improving vagal tone: electrical vagal nerve stimulation. This has been approved by the FDA as a treatment to a few neurological and mental disorders, but since only a medical professional can perform this procedure, it’s not very accessible.

So I have 4 effective ways to improve your vagal tone that are non-invasive and generally good for your health and well-being. Plus you can do them on your own!

  • Exercise – High-intensity interval exercise improves vagal tone (and is scientifically supported). However, if you aren’t able to do HIIT for whatever reason, even light exercises can increase your HRV.
  • Breathing and Meditation – Improve your vagal tone by adding 10-20 minutes of slow, mindful breathing every day. Do this by consciously breathing out longer than breathing in. When we exhale, our heart rate decreases and this stimulates the vagus nerve. Slow breathing also increases the parasympathetic nervous system (your “rest and digest” branch).
  • Diet and Probiotics – Your diet should be nutrient-dense and anti-inflammatory, because everything that is good for your gut and brain is good for your vagus nerve. Probiotics help your gut to heal and maintain a healthy balance of flora, which supports your gut-brain axis (where your vagus nerve plays a big part)
  • Cold Water Immersion – Research backs up cold water plunging and cold stimulation of the neck area for improving vagal tone. Cold water immersion is especially good for muscle recovery and improving HRV–which is why it has become popular in athletic communities. If you have poor vagal tone or wish to improve it further, start gradually (i.e. take the last 10-20 seconds of your shower on the coldest setting.)

Whether you use an HRV tracker or track whether your symptoms have improved, I hope you find improvements as you apply these helpful tools.

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

Common Drugs That Affect the Gut Ecosystem–And What to Do about It!

Within your gut lives billions of microorganisms that promote your health. Collectively known as the gut microbiome, this microbial community works as a giant factory producing various chemicals or substances that pass through the intestinal wall to join the bloodstream and affect your body’s cells.
 
Different factors affect the composition and quantity of your gut microbiome, including genetics, diet, sleeping pattern, and exercise. But today, let’s take a closer look at another factor that changes the gut ecosystem that doesn’t get discussed much: medications.


 
Medications and medical interventions can be incredibly helpful, so the goal of this newsletter isn’t to attack these tools. Rather, the side effects of medications on the gut are part of the picture and it is important to be fully informed. Remember that the health of the gut says a lot about the health of the body in general.
 
So what are some common drugs and that disrupt the gut ecosystem?
 
Proton-pump inhibitors
PPI’s are the drugs of choice to treat gastric acidity, GERD, and acid reflux. They are associated with adverse effects in the gut microbiome.
In studies conducted amongst those taking proton-pump inhibitors, they found considerable quantities of bacteria that are normally present in the oral cavity.
And mind you, these bacteria do not belong in the gut! They are usually killed by stomach acid. And the presence of these bacteria in the gut is associated with the development of some types of colon cancer.
 
Antibiotics
Another gut disrupting drug, likely unsurprisingly, is the antibiotics. Perhaps you’ve experienced antibiotic-related diarrhea, which is a short-term effect of antibiotic use, at some point? This can lead to a rebound towards constipation as your body attempts to rebalance itself.
Long term effects of being on antibiotic therapy are reduced diversity of the gut microbiome.
If your gut microbiome lacks diversity, there’s less production of health-promoting molecules such as butyric acid (butyric acid or butyrate is well-known for supporting digestive health, reducing inflammation, and regulating the epigenome (the dynamic part of our DNA), thereby promoting overall health), which can be a predisposing factor in developing chronic illnesses.

Metformin, a medication used to treat Type 2 Diabetes and PCOS (reduced microbial diversity and reduced abundance of healthy flora) and laxativesused to treat constipation, are 2 other common medications that disrupt your gut health.

As I said earlier, it is sometimes inevitable to take medications. So it is of utmost importance to take extra care of your gut health.

Here are my top research-backed tips to help you take good care of your gut:
 Take probiotics and prebiotics – Probiotics, whether in supplement or fermented food form, promote gut microbiome diversity. Prebiotics are the what your gut bacteria eat, such as plant fibers, starches, and collagen. These prebiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics include leeks, garlic, sunchokes, tomatoes, artichokes, flaxseed, chicory, and green leafy vegetables.Avoid sweets – Artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin), sugar, and foods that are naturally high in sugar contribute to gut dysbiosis and increase the bacteria that are linked to metabolic diseases.Get your sleep – It is important to establish good sleeping habits to get ample, restful sleep at the right time. Poor sleeping patterns are associated with poor gut flora.Manage stress – Stress, even if it’s short-lived, disrupts the gut microbiome, so make sure to do things that can help you relieve stress. Some of the things you may want to try are HeartMath, mindfulness meditation, journaling, and deep breathing exercises.Exercise – Keep your body active! Make sure to allow time every day to exercise. It is good for your circulation, mood, muscles, bones, and gut 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.
 Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!
~RebeccaP.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

5 Ways Sunlight Impacts Your Metabolic Health

Did you know that sunlight has a direct impact on your metabolic health?
All the cells of your body take some direction from the sun on how they should function.

Here are the 5 ways sunlight impacts your metabolic health:

1. Plants make food for your cells using sunlight.
Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants create their food with the help of carbon dioxide, water, and sunshine.
Light energy from the sun is transformed by plants into simple sugars that form into complex carbohydrates that we consume. Once inside our body, they are broken down to be used by our cells to form energy in the form of ATP or adenosine triphosphate.
During photosynthesis, oxygen is produced as a byproduct.
Sunlight is essential to every living thing’s survival on earth, including you!

2. Sunlight entering the eyes generates genetic and hormonal signals.
Your eyes, particularly in the retina, have these special cells that respond to light, called photoreceptors. When they absorb light, they undergo a tiny chemical change that triggers a series of events that create an electrical impulse that is fired by an axon of a nerve cell to another until it reaches your suprachiasmatic nucleus or the SCN as well as other parts of your brain.
So exposure to sunlight stimulates your SCN to start brain and cellular processes that are affected by genetics, hormones, and neurotransmitters. Now, when you have an erratic sleeping pattern or don’t get enough sunlight, you are not exposed to the normal cycles of the sun. When that happens, the complex physiologic processes that are initiated by the SCN are distorted.
This is when disease can set in.

3. Sunlight helps regulate stress-response systems.
Your SCN is your body’s master clock or pacemaker. It is in charge of your body’s circadian rhythm or sleep-wake cycle. This affects your metabolic health because it plays a role in food intake, insulin sensitivity, glucose control, and energy expenditure. When your blood sugar is out of balance, it affects everything, but I want to specifically point out how hard this is on your adrenal glands! Your adrenal glands produce many hormones, cortisol being the most known one. One of cortisol’s roles is helping blood sugar regulation…and if it’s got to work hard balancing your blood sugar, your stress-response system is definitely going to be strained and you aren’t going to feel as resilient as you could!
So when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it takes a toll on your metabolic health. It may lead to pancreatic dysfunction and problems with glucose and insulin metabolism, which may lead to a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases. Even in the absence of disease, your body’s ability to convert energy into food will be limited and, as I mentioned with your resilience, you won’t have the capacity to regulate your stress response.
It is vital to get sunlight first thing in the morning and get off screens and artificial light before bedtime so that your SCN gets the right signals to function optimally.

4. Sunlight impacts mood, which is also correlated with metabolism.
Serotonin is one of the neurotransmitters that affect mood, and its levels decrease when you don’t get enough sunlight. No wonder some people experience mood changes or depression during the winter months if they’re living somewhere where sunlight is limited.
Aside from mood regulation, serotonin also affects metabolism. In fact, increased serotonin levels regulate appetite and glucose control.

5. Sunlight is a source of vitamin D.
Although vitamin D can be found in food, the major source of vitamin D is the sun. It is sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D also affects mood and metabolism. Obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes are among the disease conditions that are correlated to low levels of vitamin D.

By now, I think you get the point: sunlight is important! It affects you on a cellular level and impacts the physiologic processes that affect both your mood and metabolic health. Assess yourself if you are getting enough sunlight (around 20-30 mins/day) and if not, how can you begin to adapt your lifestyle in order to benefit from it.

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

What Determines Health: Genes or Lifestyle?

If you think that genetics alone determines your health or your risk of developing certain diseases, think again.

Epigenetics, the interplay of how your behaviors and environment can cause changes that affect the way your genes work, is what we’re going to explore today.

The word epigenome comes from the Greek word epi which means above the genome. The epigenome is made up of chemical compounds that tell your DNA (aka genome) what to do, where to do it, and when to do it.

Your DNA code remains fixed from the moment you were conceived until the day you die. But that is NOT the same way with your epigenome. Your DNA gets marked or tagged in reaction to everything you encounter throughout your lifetime. 

Therefore, whatever it is that you experience from your environment affects the epigenetic marks and creates a genetic instruction that affects your health.

7 factors that have an impact on your epigenome

1. Stress.

Exposure to chronic stress leads to the modification of DNA according to research studies. Being exposed to stressful situations affects how we think, feel, and behave. Stress results in chemical changes that affect your brain and body.

On top of that, stress induces poor genetic impression. Stress leaves epigenetic marks that are connected to the development of depression and anxiety disorders.

With this in mind, it is a top priority to mange stress. None of us is going to live without stress…and stress can actually be really helpful and even good for us as long as we approach it as a challenge (versus a threat) for which we can find or create a solution. In addition to that, some great stress reducing actions you can take include going out in nature, gardening, exercising, meditating, doing yoga, dancing, singing, laughing…anything that fills your cup!

2. Sleep.

Did you know that sleep deprivation is so prevalent that it is considered a public health epidemic? And sleep has major repercussions on DNA repair. Without proper sleep, we cannot heal and repair. Your body/brain need at least 7 hours of restful sleep each night.

3. Water.

Tap water and some bottled water contain herbicides, heavy metals, and other toxins. Water packaged in plastic contain harmful plastic components that we now know our bodies are incapable of getting rid of during our lifetime (forever plastics).  Choose filtered or mineral water and drink from glass or stainless steel whenever possible.

4. Breath.

Your cells need proper oxygenation, but sometimes, we are unaware that we have shallow breathing or are holding our breath. Regularly check in with your breath throughout the day–if it is shallow, bring it back to a relaxed, normal breath (or even deeper than normal). This will facilitate oxygen and nutrient transport to your cells so that they are as healthy as possible.

5. Drugs.

Drugs may cause genetic mutations, and there are medications that deplete key nutrients in your body. If you take medications or drugs, talk with a trusted health professional for guidance on how to supplement these affected nutrients so that your cells are continually nourished while you’re taking medications.

6. Exercise.

Moderate exercise is the cornerstone to good health. It helps your cardiovascular health and circulation, helps you maintain a healthy weight and also reduces toxins in your body. When you exercise, your muscles get more oxygen and help you maintain a good number of mitochondria (the powerhouse of cells) as well.

7. Food.

Lastly, food always has an influence on your epigenome. In fact, there is a branch of epigenetics known as nutrigenomics, and it deals with the relationship between diet, nutrients, and gene expression.

Feeding on foods that are abundant in chemicals, additives, and heavy metals can damage your DNA, which then predisposes you to develop diseases such as cancer.

Eating foods that are clean of chemicals and rich in nutrients supports the health of your entire body and reduces disease risk. To reduce your dietary chemical load, choose organic fruits and vegetables, and if consuming meat/eggs/dairy, choose organic, grass-fed and/or pastured sources. 

I hope this newsletter was insightful and inspires you to be mindful of your diet, lifestyle and environment. They matter! You can’t change your DNA code, but you can absolutely affect how your DNA is expressed.

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

The 4 Most Important Nutrition Guideposts

I was at the grocery store the other day and had a very chatty cashier. He shared with me that he was trying to get healthier, but that all the information out there was just so confusing and overwhelming!
That conversation inspired me to write today’s newsletter…because I’m sure he’s not alone. There is SO much advice out there on what to eat.
I want to share what I consider to be the 4 most important nutrition pillars to make sure you dial into and come back to if you get off course.

First, I want to make sure that you know about my free virtual talk next week Stress and Digestion! 
It’s Mon, March 7th at 12:30pm PST, co-hosted with OneSource Compounding Pharmacy. You can grab your free spot here! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/251628857687

So when it comes to nutrition, I’m going to lead you with a cheer: Give me a P! Give me another P! Give me an F! Give me another F! What’s that spell?! Nothing, lol, but it stands for Protein, Produce, Fat and Fiber…and these, my friend, are vital to optimal nutrition and health.


Protein

Protein is an essential macronutrient for cellular repair, detoxification, maintaining muscle fiber and function and so much more. It’s also vitally important to satiety or a feeling of fullness and satisfaction from eating. While I am in favor of eating plant foods and “eating the rainbow”, I know so many people who get into trouble when they aren’t getting enough protein in their diets! When it comes to keeping your energy, weight, metabolism, and overall function in top-working order, protein is a superhero. See here for more info and specific recommendations.

Produce

Fresh vegetables, leafy greens, sea vegetables, and fruit are loaded with micronutrients–vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (natural properties of plant foods that provide health benefits)–they also provide fiber, which I’ll get to in a minute. Eating some produce at all your meals is highly recommended. Fresh or fermented and organic is best.  When/if organic isn’t an option, use the EWG’s Clean 15 List to guide your grocery shopping.

Fat

There are many health benefits associated with dietary fats and oils: they are essential for your brain and body to function properly as well as produce all your hormones. Depending on the dietary trend of the time, fats/oils are either vilified or revered. Trend or no trend, fats are critical and the best ones for most people tend to include olive oil, avocados, ghee and/or butter, coconut oil, fats from healthy animals (Omega 3’s from fatty fish and pastured egg yolks, CLA from grassfed beef), and nuts and seeds. Depending on your genetics and possible food sensitivities, some fat sources are going to be more healthful for you than others. For example, if genetically you carry copies of the ApoE 2, 3 or 4 genes, you will need to pay special attention to saturated versus unsaturated fats since fat metabolism is altered/slowed.

Fiber

Dietary fiber is beneficial for good health–it supplies food for your gut bugs, bulk for your stool, supports healthy digestion, and helps satiety. As with everything, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation for fiber. Some excellent sources for fiber in foods include avocados, broccoli raab, spinach, bok choy and other greens, olives, cauliflower, zucchini, and more; as well as psyllium husk, coconut flour, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flaxseeds.

Use these 4 nutrition pillars to structure eating healthily each day. Listen to your body and learn from your body language–that’s what allows you to customize your diet even more!

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

What High Levels of Uric Acid on Blood Tests Can Mean

If you remember several newsletters back, I talked about optimal and normal levels of lab tests. I did not touch on uric acid, so that’ll be the focus for today.

What is uric acid? 

Uric acid is produced as an end product of purine, nucleic acid, and nucleotide metabolism–basically, the levels represent the end product of protein utilization. Most uric acid is excreted in the urine, but the rest is excreted in the stool.

Your body normally produces purines, but it is also found in some foods and drinks such as liver, anchovies, mackerel, dried beans and peas, and beer.

Normal values 

Most of the uric acid dissolves in the blood and goes to the kidneys where it is included in the urine to be excreted. But, if your body produces too much uric acid or is unable to remove enough of it, illness occurs.

Normal values range from 2.2 to 7.7 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), but there may be small variations among different laboratories, so it’s best to discuss your results with your healthcare provider.

Optimal values 

Optimal ranges are different than conventional lab ranges (which are broader and referring to “not a disease state” rather than healthy/optimal).

In other words, when you have an abnormal test result based on conventional lab ranges, it may mean you already have a disease. So the conventional ranges just tell you that you haven’t gotten to a disease state yet…even though you may be well on your way! However, the optimal values reflect the healthy (optimal), fully functional state of your body.

In males, the optimal range is 3.5-5.9mg/dl and females 3-5.5mg/dl.

What high levels of uric acid can mean 

Too much uric acid in the blood is called hyperuricemia. While this marker is usually used to measure gout, kidney failure and leukemia, it’s very useful for recognizing imbalances in inflammation and metabolism such as:

  • chronic inflammatory states including the vascular system
  • developing atherosclerosis
  • oxidative stress and free radical activity
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • renal insufficiency or renal disease
  • circulatory disorders such as hypertension and Raynaud’s
  • leaky gut syndrome
  • thyroid hypofunction
  • Diabetes
  • liver and gallbladder dysfunction

Stress and alcoholism can also raise uric acid levels. Eating lots of purine rich foods form organ meats and dark meat can sometimes raise uric acid levels though isn’t a concern for everyone.

Doing a blood test that includes uric acid levels is one of the ways to check if you have inflammation or metabolic imbalances.

What to do if you have high levels of uric acid 

If you have high levels, consider diet and lifestyle factors that could account for that and then choose next steps accordingly–for example, if you have other risk factors for heart disease, it would be wise to get a carotid artery ultrasound and a calcium score test to look at blood flow and potential restrictions to circulation. If you have a high level of stress or eat an unhealthy diet, then those can certainly cause elevated levels. Ultimately, addressing the causes rather than the symptoms is essential.
Drinking plenty of filtered water, eating a clean diet rich in quality protein sources and vegetables, getting 7-8 hrs of sleep each night, moving your body daily, managing stress throughout the day, and optimizing your gut health are some ways to do this.

I will be offering a free online class on Stress and Digestion March 7th. You can sign up here and that will provide you with some great information and next steps for supporting your health.

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

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

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

P.S.
Know someone who could use my help?
Send them the link to apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).