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Is Calcium Supplementation Safe?

Is Calcium Supplementation Safe? 

Did you know that 54 million U.S. adults age 50 and older have osteoporosis and bone loss? Women are more likely than men to experience bone loss. When a woman reaches menopause, she becomes at risk of developing osteoporosis due to the rapid bone loss during and about 5-10 years after menopause.
 
Given this, many women have resorted to taking calcium supplements, not knowing that this may do more harm than good.


 
Estrogen enhances calcium absorption in the bones and prevents the excessive breakdown of bone tissues (bone resorption), so when the production of estrogen stops, as in during menopause, bone loss occurs.
 
So, it’s really not the lack of calcium that is the problem, rather its absorption and bone resorption due to low estrogen levels.
 
This is an important point that not many practitioners are talking about. Calcium supplementation is one of the main recommendations given to people, especially women, if they show bone loss on a scan.
 
However, studies support that calcium supplements increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases, being associated with cases of heart attack, stroke, and risk of death. Moreover, cancer and kidney stones were reported to develop among men and women who took calcium supplements.

Calcium supplements are not universally safe. They may even increase your risk of developing, instead of preventing, osteoporosis. And since calcium from supplements gets absorbed easily, it can be deposited in your soft tissues, not in your bones. So it’s actually not doing what you’re thinking it’s supposed to do.

Diet & Lifestyle Tips for Strong Bones

 The good news is that dietary calcium, calcium from food rather than a pill, does increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis. It turns out that since food is absorbed gradually, unlike calcium supplements, it is a more bioavailable form.
 
Here are some calcium-rich foods:

  • Dairy products
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Cruciferous vegetables
  • Seeds and almonds
  • Sardines and canned salmon (with the bones)

 
Aside from food, make sure to do weight-bearing exercises or activities at least twice a week to increase your bone density. These are activities that force you to work against gravity, such as walking, jogging, and climbing. Tai chi and yoga also benefit bone density.
 
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

Calendula: The Herb For Digestion, Immunity & More!

Hi there!

Today I’d like to share with you how calendula is an all-around health-boosting herb.
 
Well, calendula officinalis or the common pot marigold is appreciated not only for its bright beautiful addition to the garden but also because of its culinary and medicinal benefits.
 
Calendula is native to the Mediterranean but is now found almost everywhere. Composed of bright petals in orange or yellow, calendula grows up to 1-2 feet tall.


 
But this flower isn’t just pretty–it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.  No wonder it has long been made into oils, creams, and ointment to be used to heal wounds and skin problems.
 
The FDA has actually approved the use of calendula both as a spice and as an ingredient for cosmetics, body creams, soaps, and shampoos as well as wound treatment.
 
Let’s look more closely at some of its benefits!
 

Calendula is good for your skin

  1. Calendula hydrates dry skin. If you are suffering from dry, itchy, or irritated skin, relieve it by applying cream or ointment with calendula as an ingredient. It promotes the production of collagen, which is an essential protein that keeps the skin tissues strong and elastic. If you have eczema, dermatitis, or dandruff, calendula will soothe your skin and keep it hydrated. For babies, who have the most sensitive and delicate skin, calendula prevents and heals diaper rash and other skin irritations.
  2. Calendula heals wounds. This is why calendula or a cream or ointment made from it is a must in the medicine cabinet. Otherwise known as a healing plant, calendula promotes wound healing when applied topically to the affected area. This really comes in handy for insect bites, bruises, blisters, cuts, sunburns, burns, and so on. Its anti-inflammatory properties, antimicrobial components, and collagen formation ability really work wonders.
  3. Calendula reduces scarring. When you use calendula to treat your wound, it reduces scar tissue formation. By speeding up wound healing and encouraging a healthy healing process, calendula allows the growth of healthy new tissue (so your wound heals cleanly).
  4. Calendula prolongs onset of wrinkles. Protect your cells from oxidative stress with the aid of calendula. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds help with this. Oxidative stress plays a big role in the aging process and disease development. So, by protecting your cells from this kind of damage, calendula helps your skin stay healthier.

Calendula assists with digestion

Calendula’s healing powers not only apply to external wounds, but also internal ones. People with ulcers, heartburn or even irritable bowel syndrome can benefit from calendula because it protects the stomach lining and repairs the gut wall. This results in improved digestion and temporary relief of discomfort.

 
Calendula boosts the immune system

Calendula has the ability to fight infection because of its antimicrobial properties. This is why it is attributed to strengthening the immune system.
 
Calendula tea can be used for relief from coughs or nasal congestion.
 
Next week, I’ll discuss further how calendula is used so stay tuned!
 
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

Why You Should Avoid Soybean Oil Now

Most Americans today use soybean oil for cooking, baking, and drizzling. In 2019, Americans consumed 11 metric tons of soybean oil!!! Today we’ll explore how soybean oil can be hazardous for your health and what to use instead.


 
Using traditional animal fats nowadays seem to be unwelcome. You see, people have replaced these fats–lard, tallow, and butter–with plant-based oils because people have been misguided into thinking that animal fats are unhealthy and plant-based oils are far healthier.
 
I can see why it’s confusing.
 
Soybean oil is low in saturated fat, so most Americans see this as a healthy option. But saturated fats are, in fact, healthy and are much better than unstable polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) oils–most especially in cooking.

Soybean Oil is Unstable

 Soybean oil is high in unstable PUFAs. Well, PUFAs are not all bad for you. Actually, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are good. But not all PUFAs are created equal. There are types that are highly unstable, easily oxidized (damaged by oxygen), and pro-inflammatory.
 
I’m talking about linoleic acid–a bad fat. And soybean oil is half linoleic acid.
 
Linoleic acid is already bad news, but when you heat it, it’s worse! It generates oxidized lipids (fats) which cause inflammation in the bloodstream, leading to heart diseases and the hardening of your arteries (atherosclerosis).
 

Soy, Digestion, & Thyroid

Soy products are not easily digested which can cause gas, bloating, and damage to your gut (which can weaken your immune response). Soy can also interfere with proper thyroid function (your metabolic regulator). And… 93% of soy is genetically modified and while we won’t truly know the long-term effects on health for years to come, preliminary data shows that GMO foods interfere with the healthy balance of your gut flora.
 

Soy, Obesity & Diabetes

The massive use of soybean oil has led to an increase in the number of people suffering from obesity and diabetes as well.
 
This occurs, in part, because soybean oil disrupts normal hypothalamus function.
 
By that, I mean soybean oil manages to alter the genes of the hypothalamus, impairing the healthy functions of your organs and hormones.
 
The hypothalamus is a small region at the base of the brain that is responsible for many functions, such as regulating hormones through your pituitary gland, regulating your temperature, controlling your appetite, and managing your sexual behavior among other roles.
 
In other words, the hypothalamus is the control center of the brain. And the soybean oil which many believe to be healthy is disturbing its function.
 
One of the genes that soybean alter is the OXT gene, the one that makes oxytocin. Oxytocin is known as your love hormone, but it is also critically important to your gut health. Oxytocin regulates motility (lack of oxytocin can contribute to constipation, for example), inflammation, and gut lining maintenance.
 

So what does this all mean?

Long-term intake of soybean oil leads to chronic illnesses by interfering with proper gut function, immune function, thyroid function, and brain function.
 
I encourage you to intentionally reduce your consumption of soybean oil–read labels at the grocery store and go through your pantry and freezer. Many sauces, dressings, baked and canned goods contain soybean oil.
 
Most restaurants also use soybean oil, so that’s another reason you may steer away from fried foods when eating out.
 
When cooking at home, choose natural fats like tallow, lard, duck fat, grass-fed butter and ghee. If you want plant-based oils, have coconut, avocado oil, and olive oil. 
 
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 Prevent and Recover from Adrenal Imbalance!

Today I want to talk with you about the connection between your stress response and symptoms you might be experiencing.

If you have nonspecific symptoms such as pain and weakness in different parts of your body, sleep disturbance, and digestive problems in addition to feeling nervous, chances are you may have some adrenal hormone imbalance.
 
When you are stressed, your adrenal glands, which are just situated on top of your kidneys, produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones create change in your body to prepare yourself for the threat or potential danger.


 
We call this the fight-or-flight response. At this stage, you may feel your heart pounding and your energy level increased. Your body is ready to face whatever source of harm there may be.
 
When the stressful situation is gone, your cortisol–which is famously known as the stress hormone–goes back to normal as your adrenal now stops producing it in excess. Your body starts to function normally and your vitals go back to their regular normal rhythm.
 
You weathered the stress. Thanks to cortisol.
 
But when stress is constant (as it has been for many of us lately!) and when you’re always in that fight-or-flight response, this wreaks havoc on your hormones.
 
Adrenal hormone imbalance starts when cortisol levels shoots up. As I mentioned, at first, you’ll be full of energy and you may even feel good during this time. However, if you don’t take control of your health–I mean, you’re not making lifestyle changes to ease your stress, your cortisol will soon drop down. You’d then experience tiredness and some other symptoms I mentioned above until you’d be too exhausted to even do your basic daily activities.
 

The Gut-Adrenal Connection

Now, there’s an important link between your adrenals and your gut.
 
Two adrenal hormones play a role in gut health by boosting immunity and reducing inflammation. One is cortisol (as we’ve been talking about), and the other is DHEA (stands for dehydroepiandrosterone).
 
Cortisol is the main anti-inflammatory hormone in the gut. BUT, when cortisol gets imbalanced in the way I’ve been discussing, that imbalance actually leads to an INCREASE in inflammation and can lead to develop digestive issues.
 
DHEA is a repair and maintenance hormone. DHEA also protects your gut from disease-causing bacteria, so it’s important in preventing gut infections and repairing damage to your gut cells that occur for all of us during our lifetime.
 
It’s important to keep these 2 adrenal hormones balanced. As you can see, they are very important to your overall health, especially your gut health. If your gut health breaks down, it’s just a matter of time before you’re at increased risk for symptoms and disease.
 

4 Tips for Supporting Your Adrenals

Here’s how to support your adrenals so you can prevent adrenal imbalance or help your body recover from it:

  • Detox from coffee – Caffeine keeps you in the fight-or-flight mode (which is part of why we like it!). It actually increases brain activity, triggering the pituitary gland to stimulate the adrenal glands to produce hormones. When you are already stressed and already have a demand to produce more stress hormones, it’s not a healthy combo. It leads to burnout. To reverse that, try replacing your daily cup of coffee with coffee that has adaptogens that support your adrenals (like Alphay “RIch Black” or Four Sigmatic). You can slowly mix your regular coffee with one of these healthier versions or you can slowly switch to decaf which is another good option. If you’re used to drinking multiple cups per day, consider swapping some of them out for other beverages like hot or iced tea or a bubbly water.
  • Get enough sleep – This is timeless advice. I think I have repeated this a gazillion times! Your body needs 7-8 hours of sleep each night. This is especially important during this stressful time in history, so be kind and make sure you support yourself to get enough good quality sleep.
  • Eat healthy – Yes, this never goes out of style! Eat natural, whole-foods–fresh vegetables and fruits, protein, and healthy fats. Kick high-sugar foods and processed foods out of your life (at least out of your normal routine)
  • Manage stress – If you haven’t yet tried self-care practices to keep your stress levels low, then now is the time to do it. How about mindfulness practices such as yoga and meditation? If you are anxious about something, journal, talk with someone or think of some solutions you can put into action. My favorite way to manage stress is HeartMath. I’ve been using these tools for many years and they are so helpful to shift the inevitable feelings of stress/worry/frustration that come up on a daily basis! The important point is to make some form of healthy, effective stress regulation part of your daily life.

I bet a lot of us have our fight-or-flight mode on right now due to the pandemic. I don’t want to see you get burned out and health compromised. We have to take care of ourselves more during these trying times.
 
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

COVID-19 and Obesity — Everything You Need to Know

The COVID-19 pandemic has the world on lockdown. Many of you have paused their lives, trying to find ways to stay healthy. There are some of you who are at increased risk of having a more severe reaction to the virus or having life-threatening complications. Today we are going to look at how obesity and excess body fat contributes to being at increased risk of infection and complications.

According to the World Health Organization, 650 million people were overweight in 2016. That same year, the global rate of obesity was three times what it was in 1975, according to the obesity statistics

Now, with the lockdown, obese people can’t visit the gyms or proceed with their weight loss plans, and this is devastating to them. Here’s why obese people are at a higher risk than others: 

  • People with heart disease and diabetes are more prone to COVID-19 infection 
  • Obese people are harder to treat in the in-patients setting, challenging to diagnose, and difficult to transport
  • The pandemic has them trapped inside with limited weight loss opportunities
  • Their wish to lose weight might be suppressed by COVID-19 anxiety 

If you or someone you care about falls into this category, this may inspire you to make some healthy changes or continue with your healthy habits.

Look Around You

Stand in front of a mirror and take a good look at yourself. It doesn’t matter how you’ve reached this point in your life right now. What matters are the choices you can start to make. Start out by asking yourself these questions:

Do I want to feel restricted in movements and/or feel constant pain in my joints? 

Do I still want to be dependent on others to help me in regular activities around the house?

Do I want to be exposed to the COVID-19 risks mentioned above?

Weight loss, to the point of reaching a healthy weight that feels good to you, reduces health risks. It’s good for you and all the members of your family who love you unconditionally, who support you and wish you well.  If it’s too daunting to focus on exercise and meal plans, try shifting your focus to the people in your life and how everyone benefits when you feel better.

There are people in your corner who want you to succeed: friends, family, and/or professionals! What is one action you can take today, no matter how small, to upgrade your habits to support a healthy weight?

Read Success Stories

The Internet is full of success stories of overweight people who were dedicated to their goal and reached it. The ones that keep it off transformed more than just their physical habits: they transformed their mindset as well. You can learn from their experiences. Use their success stories to boost you up and give you strength when you feel you need some motivation or whenever you feel like giving up.

Make mental notes on the time those people took to lose weight, what they did to change their habits and what helped them the most. Isolation is the perfect time to think about how you can upgrade your game plan. It’s important to know that you can be a success story too! You can feel better and be an inspiration for others. 

Summary

If you’re obese or overweight, know that continuing to take action will reduce your risk of getting COVID-19 and complications associated with this virus. You are worth it and you don’t have to do it alone. Look around at who can support you. Sometimes, a simple message to a trainer or a training buddy, a therapist, a nutritionist, or health coach can help you stay on your weight loss journey. I’m rooting for you!

In health,

Rebecca Hazelton & Dusan Goljic

Thyroid Health & You, Part 1

Did you know that more than 12% of the US population will develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime? An estimated 20 million Americans are living with some form of thyroid problem, and unfortunately, up to 60% of them are unaware of their condition. When patients are not diagnosed, they are at risk for certain serious conditions including cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and infertility.

It’s high time that we raise awareness about the importance of the thyroid gland and what we can do to support it. 

And guess what? Your gut and thyroid work closely together. When one isn’t working well, neither can the other one. Many gut symptoms in fact, like low stomach acid, food intolerance, and bacterial imbalance, can be caused by a thyroid imbalance.

Let’s dig into this together.

What is the thyroid & what’s it do?

The thyroid gland is a 2-inch long butterfly-shaped gland located in the middle of the lower neck. Despite its small size, it produces hormones that affect every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. These hormones control metabolism–the chemical processes in your body that break down what you eat to make energy.

I will give you a simple explanation of how thyroid hormones affect your metabolism. Your thyroid gland actually produces three hormones: Thyroxine (T4), Triiodothyronine (T3), and Calcitonin. We will not be focusing on Calcitonin, but this hormone is responsible for the formation of bones. T4 and T3, on the other hand, are what most people call the “thyroid hormones,” which are manufactured by the thyroid gland using the building blocks iodine (a trace mineral) and tyrosine (an amino acid).

T4 and T3 cannot be released to the bloodstream unless there is a stimulus from the brain, particularly from the pituitary gland–that pea-sized body connected to the base of the brain, the major endocrine gland responsible for your body’s growth and development as well as the functioning of other glands such as the thyroid. So this pituitary gland will release a so-called Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which tells the thyroid gland to release thyroid hormones into your circulation. Once they’re out, they act on every cell in your body to increase cellular activity, converting food into energy–this is metabolism. These hormones can affect how fast your heart beats, how deep your breath goes, and whether you gain or lose weight.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Here’s the more challenging part. Your thyroid gland can be overactive (hyperthyroidism) or underactive (hypothyroidism).

Hyperthyroidism symptoms include nervousness, tremors, irritability, heat intolerance, racing heartbeat or palpitation, an increase in appetite, frequent bowel movement, etc. Hypothyroidism manifests as fatigue, weakness, cold intolerance, depression, muscle cramps, weight gain, loss of appetite, constipation, etc.

If you are experiencing these symptoms, you may have an underlying condition that needs to be checked out by your doctor. For example, growths, either malignant or benign, can form on the thyroid gland and can affect its normal function. Your immune system can start attacking your thyroid tissue (autoimmune condition: Hashimoto’s or Grave’s) resulting in loss of function. There are a variety of diet and lifestyle factors that influence proper thyroid function (like stress, diet, sleep habits, and more) so diet and lifestyle is almost always part of the solution to balancing out thyroid function as well. We’ll dig into that next week as well as what foods to eat and what to avoid to promote thyroid health. Stay tuned!

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

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

-Rebecca

Why Potassium is Essential to Gut Health

Do you often experience bloating or constipation?

Today we are going to dig into the connection between electrolytes, particularly potassium and your gut.
 
Your gut health is the core of your overall health.
 
Your gut is where you take everything that you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to function. From making energy, being able to think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily, your gut is at the ROOT of your overall function. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
 
It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
Let’s dig into how potassium and electrolytes play into this.

What Do Electrolytes Do?

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

Potassium and Digestion

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

Sources of Potassium

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

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

-Rebecca

Poo Matters: Things You Can Do to Support Constipation

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

Why is gut health so important?

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

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

So let’s get into how to support constipation.

 Learn to analyze your poo

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

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

Use castor oil packs

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

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

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

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

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

Promote pressure and lubrication

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

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

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

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

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

-Rebecca

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

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

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

Why?

Your gut is truly at the ROOT of your health.
 
Your gut is where you take all the good stuff you eat and drink and transform it into the many building blocks your body needs to make energy, think clearly, sleep well, maintain a healthy weight, build muscle, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. It’s also where 80% or more of your immune system lives.
 
It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 

Raspberry Smoothie Bowl Benefits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Rebecca

Poo Matters: What You Need to Know about Constipation

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

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

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

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

It is my passion is to work with people like you whose health symptoms–like low energy, gut/digestive issues, excess weight, mood imbalance, chronic infections, and skin & sleep problems–are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.

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

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

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

Hormones

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

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

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

Nervous System

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

Lifestyle

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

Emotions

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

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

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

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

-Rebecca