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3 Easy Ways to Fight Holiday Stress

While the holidays can be the best time of the year for some, for others it can feel like the worst. The American Psychological Association has actually found that almost half of women in the US experience heightened stress during this season, putting them at increased health risk.

 

Aside from holiday stress, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or winter depression can make this time of year challenging.
 
To manage stress, it is common to resort to food and alcohol to manage stress. Self-care and stress-management techniques, on the other hand, can help you stay healthy and feeling like your best self during the holidays.
 
I remember a quote by Katie Reed, a writer, speaker, and mental health advocate. She said, “Self-care is giving the world the best of you, instead of what’s left of you.”
 
This holiday season, let’s work to keep our sanity and our relationships with others as healthy as possible. Here are 3 suggestions:

Don’t Neglect Healthy Habits

No matter what the season, never ever let go of healthy habits because they are the foundation to a healthy and awesome you. Be mindful of your physical activity–make sure you have ample time for movement and exercise every day. Physical activity does not only boost your energy but also elevates your mood. Get enough rest and sleep and eat healthy meals. 
 
Take a break from social media and news, too. Not all news and updates we see online make us happy. You can choose to go offline and spend more time on yourself.
 
Read a book. Take a night stroll. Go stargazing. 
These are all good for your mental health–to free yourself from stressors by doing something nice for yourself, focusing on the moment, and reducing distractions.
 

Take Time to Reflect on the Meaning of the Season

Most people are stressed out by holiday shopping and hopping from one event to another. But instead of doing that, especially right now with the shelter in place orders, I suggest you take some time off to reflect on the true meaning of this season for you–what can you focus on that you enjoy about this time of year? What are the things that you’d actually like to do with your precious time rather than doing things out of obligation? 
 
If you feel overwhelmed with gift shopping, why not prepare something that money can’t buy or donate to a worthy cause on someone’s behalf? If you are stressed by the busyness of your schedule, you could schedule some activities later, like the first week of January.

Reach Out

While some people are overwhelmed with the company of family and relatives during this time, we are being told not to travel right now and not to gather in large groups, so some are spending Christmas and New Year alone. If you are one, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone–a friend, a family, a relative. A letter, a call, a video conference…find a safe way to connect with someone you care about. It’s a win-win.
 
Stressing out about what we don’t have control over, won’t lift anyone’s holiday spirit, so I encourage you to focus on these suggestions instead.

It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca

Simple Tips to Keep Your Gut Happy This Holiday Season

Well, the holiday season is already in full swing even though for many of us it feels very different with the pandemic also in full swing.
 
Though this holiday may look and feel very different than in years past, there’s bound to be celebrations of some kind going on. This usually involves a feast or two and the hustle and bustle of holiday traditions.  That’s why I want to talk to you about how to keep your gut healthy throughout the holidays; because a healthy gut is a happy gut!
 
Your gut is home to countless microbes that are continually doing hard work for you to keep your physical, mental, and emotional health up. But without your help, your gut can’t be at its best.  Putting into practice the tips below will help your gut keep up the good work and allow you to not only enjoy your holiday season more, but allow you to feel good in your skin and step into 2021 feeling great!


 

1. Indulge yourself while taking care of yourself.

 A great way to do this is to upgrade your recipes by swapping out processed, harmful ingredients for higher quality and healthier ones (i.e. swap sugar with one of the countless healthier and delicious options like monk fruit, erythritol, allulose, stevia, xylitol or hybrids such as Lakanto, Pure Cane, Swerve, etc; swap wheat flour or high glycemic flours with coconut, almond, flax, hazelnut, or cassava flours; swap vegetable oil or margarine with avocado oil, olive oil, coconut oil, ghee or butter).
You can also incorporate gut-helping foods into your feasts. For example, you can add a good amount of dietary fiber to your dishes because they are good for gut microbes. Other prebiotic foods include asparagus, carrots, Brussels sprouts, sunchokes, onions, garlic, and nuts.
It can also be great to try new recipes so that you can add more gut-friendly ingredients on your dishes.
 

2. Slow down on alcohol.

If there ever was a holiday people wanted to numb out with alcohol, this is it. But do you really want to add a hangover, extra pounds, and gut inflammation to this extremely difficult year? No thanks! Skip the alcohol or drink small quantities of better quality alcohol like organic wine, gluten-free beer, hard cider, kombucha, etc. Mixed drinks that add a lot of extra sugar make it harder to drink in moderation and add a lot of extra work on your liver (which disrupts your hormones, sleep, mood, waistline, blood sugar, blood pressure…the list goes on and on).
 

3. Maintain a normal sleep routine.

Losing some zzz’s lessens the number of your gut microbes. It doesn’t totally mean that you should avoid evening celebrations, but it’s a great idea to opt for earlier celebrations and dinners whenever possible and keep your later nights to a minimum. 
 

4. Increase your level of serotonin.

This is perhaps the busiest time of the year for most of us–which can definitely be a source of stress. When your stress level increases, your colonic bacteria suffers. On the other hand, when your gut microbes are healthy and balanced, they can help you build resilience against stressful situations. A primary reason for this is because most of your serotonin (aka your happy brain chemical) is made in your gut! You can support your mood and serotonin levels in the following ways: exercise (especially aerobic exercise), getting plenty of sleep, getting outside in the light or getting bright light in the morning/day (if you don’t have much sun this time of year, consider a light box), and eat plenty of protein and nutrient dense carbohydrates (veggies, fruits rather than breads and sweets).
 
I’m sure that by choosing healthier options this holiday season, your gut will thank you, and in the end, it’s you who will 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. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

Natural Pain Relief for Arthritis

No one likes to be inflamed and in pain, so today I’d like to share some natural therapies for arthritis pain.

There are 2 types of arthritis:

1. Osteoarthritis – caused by the wear-and-tear damage to the cartilage of your bones. Cartilage plays a role in preventing friction during joint movement, so once it is damaged, bone grinding on bone occurs and causes pain on the joint.

2. Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune type, in which the immune system attacks the joint capsule, the membrane enclosing all parts of the joint. This causes inflammation, characterized by pain and swelling.

While there are many medications available for arthritis, you have a choice to opt for natural alternatives. In fact, according to the Arthritis Foundation, there are 8 natural therapies for arthritis pain. I’ll summarize most of them below. Plus, I’ve got a surprise addition to this list!

First, to reduce pressure on your joints, release excess body fat. Just losing one pound relieves your swollen joints from four pounds of pressure. You can achieve this by combining a healthy diet with ample amounts of exercise and physical activity (and yes, if you have arthritis, you will likely need to modify the types of activity you do: yoga, tai chi, qi gong, swimming, and weight training are some great options).

Second, movement should be part of your daily routine.  Performing a low-impact exercise for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week. As I mentioned above, both yoga and tai chi are great options. Yoga originated from India while tai chi from China, but both relieve joint pain and stiffness (and are great for reducing stress levels!).

Third, soothe yourself with techniques such as acupuncture, massage, or physical therapy. Acupuncture uses tiny needles inserted through the skin on different acupoints in the body so that your natural painkillers are activated and your nerves, muscles, and connective tissues are stimulated. Massage uses gentle manipulation of the body while applying some sort of pressure. Physical therapy also provides ways to lessen the pressure on swollen joints, to reduce stiffness, and improve movement patterns and mobility.

Fourth, electrical stimulation, also known as TENS (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) can be helpful. To relieve pain, a bit of electrical stimulation is used by applying small electrodes on the affected area. The electromagnetic current from the device is applied to the skin through the electrodes.

Fifth, is the topical CBD cream, such as the Lassen Labs Nano CBD Relief Cream. I’ve gotten great feedback on this product from clients and family members so I definitely recommend checking it out.

As I discussed in a previous newsletter, you have cannabinoid receptors in every part of the body and they help regulate pain and inflammation (amongst other things).

For more info about CBD use for arthritis, read here.

Lastly, the health of your gut makes a big difference! To have strong, healthy joints and a balanced inflammatory response, you need to be properly digesting and absorbing your food and keeping your immune response in check–this all happens in your gut! You’ve heard me say many times that your gut is at the root of all your health. Diet and lifestyle make a HUGE impact on gut health. Eating high quality protein and produce, hydrating, getting at least 7 hrs of sleep per night, exercising and moving your body regularly, spending time in nature, managing stress…these are powerful healthy habits that build the foundation for a healthy gut.

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

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

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

~Rebecca

4 Ways to Relieve Acid Reflux without Using Medication

Hi there!

Last week we talked about GERD and an alternative way to manage it. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Heartburn can occur after having a large meal, binge drinking, or eating greasy food. That burning sensation you feel around your chest happens because of the rising up of the acidic stomach content to your esophagus. 


 
While occasional heartburn and acid reflux is common, its frequent occurrence is not. This might be a symptom of GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, which is a chronic disease due to the malfunctioning of the sphincter between the esophagus and stomach. Simply put, when it’s chronic, it’s because the cells are no longer working properly and they need help restoring proper function!
 
To ease occasional acid reflux, you can try doing the following alternative ways without using medications (always check with your doctor first):

1. Eat smaller meals and go easy on the carbohydrates
 
Poorly digested food, especially carbohydrates which are quick to ferment, cause bacterial overgrowth in the stomach and upper part of your small intestine and increase the pressure inside (gas), forcing the stomach content to go up the esophagus.
 
So you can limit your symptoms by not overeating, taking your time when you do eat, chew really thoroughly, and focus on eating healthy, unprocessed foods such as meat, fish, eggs, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and fats and oils.
 
2. Limit beverages including alcohol, coffee, citrus juice, and carbonated drinks
 
These beverages worsen acid reflux symptoms because they change the stomach pH more readily, weaken the lower esophageal sphincter, increase belching, or irritate the lining of the esophagus.
 
3. Chew gum that contains bicarbonate
 
Chewing gum increases saliva production and the bicarbonate content helps to clear the acid from the esophagus.
 
4. Try CBD Oil
 
CBD oil can actually treat many health issues as I discussed in previous newsletters. Due to the presence of cannabinoid receptors in all parts of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, CBD oil is an effective alternative to manage many illnesses including acid reflux.
 
CBD oil is effective for acid reflux because when it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, it results in the following:It lessens the secretion of gastric acid (so best not to do this at mealtimes unless you have confirmed with your doctor that you have an excess of stomach acid).It reduces inflammatory responses, so it mitigates the inflammation and damage along the esophagus.It decreases the sensation of pain.It soothes and calms down peristalsis. 
I hope you find these methods and relieve occasional acid reflux symptoms. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and let me know what you find helpful!

For more chronic situations of GERD, you need to get to the root cause or it can become quite serious. What you eat and how you eat it matters–choose nutritious, unprocessed foods whenever possible and sit down and chew your food rather than rushing and eating on the go. Look into diagnostic testing such as getting an endoscopy (inside look at your stomach and esophagus; or reach out to a functional practitioner such as myself for a full look at the functioning of your gut, inside peek at gut bacteria imbalance, opportunistic infections, and more. I’m not a doctor and I’m not pretending to be! I don’t diagnose my clients, but rather I help them to identify where function has been lost and then guide them with diet and lifestyle practices so that their body can restore proper function.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

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

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

~Rebecca
Friend on FacebookFollow on TwitterForward to a FriendRebecca HazeltonCN, CPT, FDN, CMTA, HMC
Author of Choosing Health & Pleasure Meditation


I’m Rebecca, and I work with people whose health symptoms are stopping them from living life fully. I help them regain their health so they can feel great and free to enjoy life again.

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Have GERD? Here’s a Natural Alternative to Manage It

Hi there!
In case you missed my healthy Halloween recipe lineup last week, you can check it out here.

Today, we’re going to talk about GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease. It’s a condition that effects up to 60% of people and is characterized by feeling heartburn or a burning pain in the chest or throat.
 

Let’s look at why it happens. At the bottom part of your throat, your esophagus, lies a sphincter, a circular band of muscle that relaxes (opens) to allow the entry of food and water to the stomach and closes again after.
 
For someone who has GERD, his or her sphincter is not functioning properly, causing the stomach contents to rise up to the esophagus. Since your stomach content is naturally acidic, when it touches the lining of your esophagus, it creates a burning feeling–which we call heartburn.
 
For years, patients and physicians have depended on PPIs or proton-pump inhibitors to manage GERD, a group of drugs whose main action is to significantly lessen the production of stomach acid. However, the use of PPI has been linked to increased death rate due to heart diseases and stroke, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, various infections, nutrient deficiencies, disruption of the gut microbiome, and many more. In fact, earlier this year, a popular PPI was cautioned against due to increased evidence linking it to kidney disease.
 
I’m a huge proponent of getting to the root cause of symptoms rather than quick fixes which tend to lead to bigger health problems down the road. However, getting to the root cause can take time and correcting imbalances does too…so while you are doing those things, you don’t need to suffer! There are healthier alternatives that allow symptom relief as you support your body to heal.
 
One of the best choices for heartburn symptom relief is alginate-based raft therapy.
 
Normally, after eating, an acid layer forms on top of the stomach contents to create an acid pocket. With raft therapy, a gel-like “raft” floats on top of that acid pocket so that stomach contents don’t go up to your esophagus.
 
But why alginate?
 
Alginate or alginic acid is a compound found within the cell walls of brown algae and is naturally a gelling substance–making it a very effective raft to block stomach content reflux.
 
Alginate is taken with natural buffering agents such as calcium carbonate. Aside from being a buffer, calcium carbonate plays an important role in making the raft float. When it mixes with stomach acid, carbon dioxide bubbles are produced and trapped in the raft, causing it to float on top of stomach content.
 
The raft lasts for four hours in the stomach, and it can be digested and eliminated from the body, just like other dietary fibers. It is used after a meal in either tablet or liquid form. If taken during a meal or in capsule form, it will simply combine with food in the stomach and not form a raft.
 
Compared to PPIs, alginate-based raft therapy is safer and more effective. It is supported by a number of clinical studies, researches, and reviews. Read more about alginate-based raft therapy.
 
Now to be clear, while this can be a great option for symptom relief and protect the lining of your esophagus, it still doesn’t address the cause of heartburn.
Next time, I’ll share some additionally helpful information about relieving GERD naturally and look at how to address the root cause.

It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).
Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!

~Rebecca

How CBD Can Help Your Gut

How CBD Can Help Your Gut

You’ve probably heard about something called cannabinoids before, usually in reference to cannabis or marijuana. But did you know that your body produces its own cannabinoids?
 
It’s true! Your body has what’s called an endocannabinoid system–a complex system of naturally produced cannabinoids in the body. These endocannabinoids, as they are called, stimulate the cannabinoid receptors found in the different parts of the body.
 
The endocannabinoid system is involved in a lot of your body processes such as appetite, digestion, mood, the sensation of pain, inflammation, and even your memory.


 
When you take a cannabinoid such as the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC or cannabidiol (CBD), they fit into your cannabinoid receptors and affect the level of your neurotransmitters which ultimately affects how your brain cells communicate with each other. But as I mentioned, your own body makes cannabinoids–endo, means made within, hence the name endocannabinoid. Your brain makes these cannabinoids and they circulate throughout your body and attach to receptors to help your body in some way. Let’s explore how.

CBD and Digestion

Can CBD (derived from the hemp plant) help with digestion? Yes. Many researchers believe that the ECS (endocannabinoid system) is the link in the brain-gut axis. It allows communication between the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS).  The CNS is your brain and spinal cord while your ENS runs from your esophagus to your rectum. Both of them speak the same language, using the same receptors, neurons, and neurotransmitters.
 
Moreover, cannabinoid receptors are found in the entire GI tract. These systems work together closely.
 
In summary, the ECS affects your gut in three major ways:

  • Modulate inflammation–The cannabinoid receptors, when stimulated by certain cannabinoids, help in protecting the gut from inflammation.
  • Regulates digestive action–Proper gut motility ensures all food is digested and nutrients are well absorbed. Cannabinoids found in plants can stimulate the cannabinoid receptors so that nausea and vomiting are prevented. This calms the stomach and even decreases excess stomach acid. Much of the research shows that the endocannabinoid system regulates nausea and vomiting in humans and other animals.
  • Regulates communication to your brain–As I mentioned earlier, the ECS links the brain and gut. When you are stressed or in pain, this alters your digestive function. When you have GI problems, this is communicated back to the brain.

4 Ways to Support your ECS

To support your ECS for gut health, take these tips into consideration:

  1. Manage your stress. Although it’s the ECS that helps regulate your stress response, chronic stress will deplete the ability of your ECS to do so. So take it easy. Make sure you have time to relax, rest, and recuperate. HeartMath, meditation, tai chi, yoga, and breathing exercises are all great ways to support your ECS.
  2. Limit alcohol consumption. Heavy drinking of alcohol definitely impairs the ability of your cannabinoid receptors to process cannabinoids.
  3. Eat dietary cannabinoids. These are found in cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage. Fatty fish, nuts, and seeds also contain fatty acids–like Omega 3 fatty acids–that are building blocks for endocannabinoids. Herbs and spices such as rosemary, black pepper, clove, and basil, are good sources, too!
  4. Take a CBD supplement. CBD is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBD oil is natural and non-harmful. Thus you can use it for the long-term. You can check out the many health benefits of CBD oil by following this link.

It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

How to Manage Eczema With Diet

Eczema is a skin condition caused by an overactive immune system. The skin gets patches of itchy, red inflammation. The patches can get rough, flaky and even blistery.


Many people who have eczema also have food allergies and/or sensitivities. (Learn more about the difference here.)
 
About 30% of children below 5 years old who are suffering from eczema have at least one food allergy. Interestingly, having eczema also increases your risk of developing food allergies. How does this happen? Researchers aren’t totally sure, but I believe that it is through the gut-skin connection. Everything links back to the health of your gut because of the diversity of bacteria we have there and because it is where both the immune response and inflammatory response largely reside.
 
Even if you don’t have food allergies, there are foods that worsen eczema and lead to outbreaks.
 
If you have eczema, the food that you eat might just be the key to either healing you or intensifying your symptoms.
 
So what are the foods that you should be including in your meals?
 
Anti-inflammatory foods!
 
Now you’ve heard me say a million times that one-size-doesn’t-fit-all! So I’m going to share some examples with you of some foods that can be great for managing inflammation, but that doesn’t mean that they will be a magic fix for YOU. I’m a proponent of testing & customizing! That being said, here are some great places to start.1. Fatty fish — What’s in fatty fish? Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are good choices.
2. Quercetin-rich foods —  Quercetin is one of the most common antioxidants found in plants. It is a natural pigment classified as flavanoids that gives plants their vibrant color. Its antioxidant properties can combat inflammation and symptoms of allergies.

 Foods that contain quercetin are as follows:                      

  • Onions
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Berries
  • Broccoli
  • Citrus Fruits

3. Foods with probiotics — Eczema is linked to a dysfunction of the immune system and characterized by inflammation. Some researchers say that eczema starts in the gut.  Your gut is home to millions of helpful microorganisms that keep your gut healthy, and the gut is an extension of the immune system. Thus, when your microbiome in the gut is out of balance, your immune system also starts to behave abnormally.

According to research, people with eczema have less diverse bacteria in their gut microbiome than people who don’t have the condition. That’s likely why probiotics are able to help!
 
Probiotics are live microorganisms found in foods like yogurt, kefir, fermented foods like sauerkraut and fermented pickles, etc. When ingested, they are added to the microorganisms in your gut and help it function optimally (but they don’t live forever and need to be replaced regularly).
 
On the other side, here are some foods that are likely to make your symptoms worse:

  • Food high in preservatives — Since eczema can be triggered with chemical substances, it is best to avoid eating processed foods and fast food. These are full of preservatives, artificial ingredients, and trans fats that flare up the inflammatory response.
  • Sugar-rich foods — Eating lots of sweets can cause your insulin level to go up and this leads to inflammation. If you are craving sweets, that’s a big clue that something needs adjusting in your meal (often, we need more protein to balance our mood and level out cravings, but stress and other feelings can lead to cravings as well).
  • Dairy products and other foods that commonly cause allergy — In addition to dairy products, wheat, gluten, eggs, soy, nuts, and citrus (and foods with these ingredients) are common triggers. You can avoid them and see if it helps your skin clear up or there are testing options available if you’d rather go that route.

 Overall, what you eat is important on all levels! Today we looked at the link between diet and eczema and some things that you can apply to reduce your inflammatory response.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

Are You Sympathetic Dominant? What It Is and How to Deal with It

Have you heard about sympathetic dominance?

Sympathetic dominance is basically being in constant “fight or flight” mode–and feeling unable to switch this off!  Work, family, kids, social demands, unhealthy relationships…food choice, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, not enough down time–all contribute to becoming a sympathetic dominant. Let’s talk more about this dominance and how it effects your health.

Understanding How the Nervous System Works

Your nervous system has two major parts: the central nervous system, which basically is the brain and spinal cord; and the peripheral nervous system, which refers to the nerves outside the central nervous system.

The Peripheral Nervous System

The Peripheral Nervous System has 2 parts:

  • Somatic Nervous System
  • Autonomic Nervous System

The somatic nervous system is commonly known as voluntary nervous system. This consists of peripheral nerve fibers that carry sensory information from the distal parts of the body going to the central nervous system to be interpreted. In addition, the somatic nervous system also contains nerve fibers that enable movement of the skeletal muscles. For example, when you touch a hot object, the sensation is transferred by the sensory nerves to the brain, and as a response, the brain will cause the skeletal muscles of the hand to withdraw immediately, through the peripheral motor nerves. Of course, this happens in less than a second.

As the name implies, we have full control of this branch of the nervous system. Skeletal muscles move and rest when we want them to.

This is not so with the autonomic (involuntary nervous system). We don’t have conscious control over it, meaning it operates automatically–on its own.

The autonomic nervous system makes body functions such as heartbeat, digestion, and breathing possible. This nervous system provides innervation (supply of nerves) to the smooth muscles of the internal organs and glands so that they can carry on their function accordingly and secrete hormones as needed.

This nervous system is further classified into two branches:

Sympathetic Nervous System (Arousing/Fight-or-Flight)

The sympathetic nervous system is activated when there is a trigger, such as a sense of threat or danger. When this happens your body moves on to the fight-or-flight mode. Your heartbeat races, you look pale and cold, your pupils dilate, you have a burst of energy, and so on. 

The fight-or-flight mode, also called acute stress response, is just basically a response to stress, whether it be mental or physical. This concept was first introduced by an American physiologist, Walter Cannon, in the 1920’s. Cannon observed that our body undergoes a series of rapid changes to face a threatening experience or an emergency.

Upon the activation of the sympathetic nervous system, our adrenal glands release adrenaline and noradrenaline. These two neurotransmitters cause bodily changes such as rapid heart beat, increased breathing, and shunting of blood from the skin to the muscles, and giving you more energy to be ready to take action.

Once the threat is gone, it takes about 20-60 seconds until the body returns to its relaxed state. However, as I said earlier, our 21st-century lifestyle brings us chronic stress which keeps us in constant fight-or-flight mode!

Parasympathetic Nervous System

The parasympathetic nervous system operates is your “rest and digest” branch. Its purpose is to conserve and store energy, regulate body functions such as digestion and urination, and promote healing and repair all over your body.

Are You Sympathetic Dominant?

Both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are necessary for maintaining your body’s stable or balanced condition called homeostasis. However, given the number of stressors we face each day, we can easily become sympathetic dominant.
 
Check out these common symptoms of sympathetic dominance:

  • Shoulder and neck tightness
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Gut problems such as bloating, constipation, or diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Light sleep and vivid dreams
  • Hair loss
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Sugar or salt cravings
  • Feeling cold
  • Irritability
  • Water retention
  • Gallbladder problems
  • Reduced appetite

If you don’t have these symptoms, good for you! If you have, there’s still good news for you. We can help your autonomic nervous system work in balance. Because our problem here is the dominance of the fight-or-flight reaction, which leads to becoming anxious and unable to relax, the following methods are effective for stimulating the “rest and digest” mode:

Avoid Multitasking

I know it’s tempting to do as many tasks at once as possible, BUT multitasking results in a loss of focus and more errors. Also, having to deal with lots of things that demand your attention simultaneously increases your stress level…which becomes a trigger to the fight-or-flight mode.

Do Relaxation Techniques

Simply put: We are going to stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system so that it will take over and allow your body to rest and heal. Getting a massage and attending a yoga class can help, but there are also relaxation techniques that you can do right away.

  • Imagery – Imagining you are in a peaceful, calming place while you engage all your senses.
  • Abdominal breathing – Put your hand on your stomach; if it slightly rises up and down when you breathe, you are doing the right thing.
  • Mindfulness – According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with intention.
  • Stimulate your lips – The lips are full of parasympathetic fibers, and stimulating the lips mean activating the rest and digest mode.
  • Acupuncture, Chiropractic, and Bodywork.

Additionally, here are 4 more great ways to get out off the fight-flight hamster wheel:

Reduce Caffeine Intake

There are over 20 harmful effects of caffeine. Specifically, when you rely on coffee first thing in the morning, caffeine forces your adrenal glands to secrete cortisol (stress hormone). If you are struggling with sleep, anxiety, or digestive problems, reducing caffeine is really important. You can also try drinking water when you first wake up and wait until 10 am before having caffeine. Having caffeine with your first meal (with some fat and protein) is also helpful.

Get the Sleep You Need

An average American only sleeps 4-6 hours a night while an average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Not having enough sleep weakens your immune system, decreases your cognitive function, leads to weight imbalance, blood sugar imbalance, and eventually lowers your quality of life.

Reset your circadian rhythm by having a set time to sleep and wake up. If you’ve been battling with insomnia, you can try diffusing lavender essential oil in your room, dimming the light, taking a warm bath, and turning off screens an hour before bedtime.

Exercise Smart

To activate your parasympathetic nervous system, choose grounding exercises over stimulating and high-movement exercises. Yoga, pilates, and simply walking are nourishing to the nervous system in chronic stress in a flight or fight mode.

Modify Your Diet

What you eat affects how you feel. While no two people are exactly alike in their optimal diet, it’s ideal to choose a wide variety of fresh organic foods whenever possible to fuel your body.

Bananas, broccoli sprouts, bison, bone broth, celery, Celtic sea salt, camu camu, cauliflower, cottage cheese, kiwi, liver, orange juice, and papaya are some of the foods that support the adrenals.

Most of the foods mentioned above also support the nervous system with the addition of avocados, carrots, organ meats, oysters, salmon, sunflower seeds, coconut water, cherries, leafy greens, walnuts, and collagen.

Also, did you know that certain foods like Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and chamomile can be helpful to manage stress and anxiety?

Start Taking Action

Try following two or more of these suggestions to activate your parasympathetic nervous system. Track your progress with a journal –It makes it more intentional and shows how committed you are to making necessary lifestyle changes so that you can finally make yourself rest, digest, and heal.

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

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

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

-Rebecca

How Healing Your Gut Can Help with Anxiety

Eating healthy food affects both your physical health and your mental health. 

In this week’s newsletter, I want to shed some further light on the connection between the gut and brain and how you can relieve your anxiety symptoms naturally.

In the US alone, 40 million adults age 18 and older are affected by anxiety. That is 18.1% of the population! While, genetics, personality, and life events are risk factors in developing anxiety, brain chemistry plays an important role. And what hugely influences your brain chemistry? You may have guessed it: your gut health! And since nowadays more people are eating processed and unhealthy foods, this be the reason why more people are prone to developing anxiety.

So now let’s focus on how the gut affects brain function and how to relieve anxiety symptoms.

The Brain-Gut Connection

There is a sort of communication between your brain and gut. We call this the brain-gut axis. This communication is facilitated by the nerves, neurons, hormones, and the gut’s microbiota (bacterial family).

The first proof of this connection was discovered by the Nobel Prize physiologist Ivan Pavlov. When you see, smell, or taste food, your stomach and pancreas are stimulated to release acid that helps in digestion. This happens because of the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve (nerve that emerges from the brain) that is responsible for the sensory and motor functions of the throat, abdomen and other nearby organs. Notably, the vagus nerve also sends information from the gut to the brain.

Additionally, studies have shown that people with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or Crohn’s Disease have weak vagus nerve function, resulting in reduced gut function. In animal studies, stress stops the vagus nerve from sending information to the brain, and this results in various gut problems. However, a study involving mice shows that feeding them with probiotics resulted in reduced stress hormones in their blood. Interestingly (and sadly), this effect of probiotics had no effect when the vagus nerve was cut.

This proves that the connection between the brain and gut affects gastric function as well as brain function.

Now let’s move on to how the gut microbiota affect brain function and vice versa.

Over the previous 2 newsletters, we tackled GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is an example of a neurotransmitter. The brain has many neurotransmitters, and they are responsible for controlling your feelings and emotions. What’s interesting is that many of these neurotransmitters are produced by the cells and the trillions of bacteria in the gut. In fact, your gut microbiome (the diverse community of bacteria in the gut) is responsible for producing GABA.

Aside from producing neurotransmitters, your gut microbiome also produce chemicals that affect brain function and metabolize bile acids and amino acids that affect the brain. Yes, although bile acids are produced by the liver to digest and absorb fats, they also affect the brain.

You may also recall something called leaky gut. In leaky gut, the inflammatory toxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) made by some bacteria in your gut passes through to the bloodstream. This is associated with brain disorders such as depression, dementia, and schizophrenia.

Dysbiosis and Anxiety

When there is dysbiosis (an imbalance of microorganisms in the gut), different illnesses can occur, including ones that affect mental functioning, such as anxiety.

So going from here, we can conclude that keeping the gut bacteria healthy can improve brain health. In a study by Yang, et. al. that was published in the Journal of General Psychiatry, “more than half of the studies included showed it was positive to treat anxiety symptoms by regulation of the intestinal microbiota.”

Probiotic and Non-Probiotic Interventions

There are two ways to keep the gut microbiome healthy.

One is taking probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for you because they keep your gut healthy.

Second, is non-probiotic intervention, which means making healthier choices with your diet. Start by ditching sodas, sweeteners, prepackaged and processed foods. Begin eating vegetables, clean sources of proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and eggs. Let’s look into a few dietary specifics that can help support a healthy microbiome.

Omega-3 fats
These are found in fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, and dietary supplements. Studies show that Omega 3s increase gut bacteria and also reduce the risk of brain disorders.

Fermented Foods
Fermented foods can alter brain activity. Examples are fermented vegetables, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and cheese.

Fiber-Rich Foods
When we eat fiber, it remains unchanged until it reaches the colon. Your stomach doesn’t have the enzymes to digest fiber. It’s only in the colon that fiber is broken down by your bacteria that use fiber as their food supply. The byproduct of this breakdown of fats by the gut bacteria are called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFA’s are then used by your gut cells as fuel. When SCFA and other metabolites enter the blood, they also act as signals to the brain and regulate the immune system and inflammation.

Polyphenol-Rich Foods
Polyphenols are plant chemicals processed by gut bacteria. The metabolites act directly as neurotransmitters, making polyphenols improve cognitive function. Examples of polyphenol-rich foods are cocoa, green tea, olive oil, and coffee.

Tryptophan-Rich Foods
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that boosts serotonin production. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is sometimes called the happy chemical because it is associated with happiness and a positive mood. Low serotonin has been linked to mood disorders and depression. Salmon, eggs, spinach, and seeds are rich in tryptophan.

The gut and brain affect each other through nerve connections and neurotransmitters, and the gut microbiota is essential in maintaining a healthy and functional brain-gut axis. So if you want to improve your brain function, particularly improving your anxiety symptoms, these are some tools you can use.

That’s all for today. Please be sure to discuss changes to your diet, medication, or supplement regimen with a trusted health professional to be sure it is safe and right for you.

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

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

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

-Rebecca

Stress, anxiety, sleep and GABA

Are you having difficulty with sleep or battling with stress or anxiety?

GABA deficiency might be the culprit. 

GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an amino acid produced naturally in the brain and functions as a neurotransmitter. Being one of the major neurotransmitters, it is involved in the communication among brain cells. And guess what? Your gut health and good gut bugs influence your GABA levels!
This is just another reason why I focus on building up gut health. So much of your wellbeing depends on how healthy your gut is.

So how does a GABA deficiency lead to difficulty with sleeping and increased levels of stress and anxiety?

GABA is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter–meaning, it lowers the activity of the nerve cells in your brain and in your central nervous system. In short, it calms your mind and helps your body to relax. Having enough GABA in your brain helps you get your needed sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and create a calm mood. It also, ironically, helps with focus by suppressing things you’re not paying attention to so you don’t get overstimulated. Interesting!

Imagine GABA as your neurons’ brake. Once there is a trigger, neurons start firing electrical signals that serve as a form of communication to their neighboring cells. Glutamate, the major excitatory neurotransmitter, is responsible for the neurons’ excitability (like putting your foot on the gas pedal). GABA serves as a brake to stop the neurons from firing after their job is done. Without GABA, the brain gets overstimulated.

Did you know that GABA is also known as “Nature’s Valium”?

The feeling of happiness and relaxation is attributed in having enough GABA in your brain. In fact, it is important that all the brain chemicals are in balanced levels in order for you to experience a balanced mood. If you notice that you don’t feel balanced, are easily triggered to feel anxious, having difficulty with sleep, finding it hard to focus and relax, or having mood swings, your gut and GABA levels may need supporting.

Are you experiencing the following symptoms?

  • You’re filled with dread and have a knot in your stomach for no obvious reason.
  • You’re frequently late because you’re too disorganized to make appointments on time.
  • You’re often doing many things at once, but, at the end of the day, have little to show for your efforts.
  • Even when things are going well, you find new things to worry about.
  • You can’t relax and racing thoughts keep you up at night.
  • Your heart pounds or beats erratically for no reason.
  • You rely on high carbohydrate foods, drugs, or alcohol to relax.

If you answered yes to several of these symptoms, you may be low in GABA and may wonder why.

There are several possibilities. There are inherited disorders of GABA metabolism. However, your lifestyle plays an important role in developing GABA deficiency. Stress, poor diet, lack of sleep, too much caffeine, and gluten intolerance are cited as causes of GABA deficiency according to the Harvard Medical School researcher Datis Kharrazian, discusses in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working?

The first step in repairing proper brain is to dial in the best diet for YOUR body (one size doesn’t fit all!) and create healthy lifestyle habits like rock solid stress management tools. This may also include some targeted gut healing. Please watch out for next week’s newsletter as I will discuss GABA supplements, the pros and cons, and what are other options to increase your GABA levels.

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

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

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

-Rebecca