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How to Manage Anxiety through Gut Health

It’s normal to become anxious when there is something you fear or when you face an unfamiliar situation (like this pandemic!). Your fight-or-flight response gets activated and so your breathing quickens and gets more shallow, your heart rate increases…these 2 reactions alone can lead to feeling anxious!

While this anxiety response is normal every now and then, anxiety disorder is a whole other story. It happens when a person stays in fight-flight and fails to go back to the rest-and-digest response. When this happens, the feeling of anxiety interferes with a person’s daily life so much that it feels very challenging to maintain even basic well-being and productivity.


 
There are a lot of things that can trigger anxiety: A traumatic experience, health problems, work or personal relationships, financial stress, or school challenges are common triggers. When we experience anxiety, inside your brain, a chemical imbalance occurs. The hormones that are responsible for mood, energy, and how we handle stress (neurotransmitters) can get thrown out of balance.
 
Cutting-edge research tells us another culprit plays a role in anxiety: Your gut microbiome.
 
Yes, your gut and nervous system are interconnected.
 
Have you experienced “butterflies in your stomach” during a presentation?
 
A “gut-wrenching” experience?
 
A “knot in your stomach” when facing an uncomfortable situation?
 
Well, your gut and brain are in constant communication.
 
In fact, the gut has this mesh-like network of neurons along its walls, called the enteric nervous system (ENS). It receives and sends signals from and to both the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest). It sends signals to the brain via the vagus nerve.
 
So how does your gut microbiome cause anxiety?
 
Consider your ENS as your second brain.  It has profound influence on your emotions. How? It produces and moves serotonin, the neurotransmitter that maintains mood balance.
 
95% of serotonin is produced by the gut microbiome.
 
The health of your gut microbiome definitely influences your mood, how you deal with stress, and in the development of anxiety disorder.
 
So how do you keep your gut microbiome healthy so that it becomes a source of happiness and ease?

Boosting Your Gut Health

The goal is to increase the good microorganisms in your gut while decreasing the bad ones. Your diet plays a key role in helping you achieve this.
 
Your diet is not only a source of nutrition for your body: It also feeds the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes in your gut.
 
Here are some changes you can apply to your diet to improve your gut health:

  1. Eat varied foods with plenty of good quality protein and plants at each meal.
  2. Reduce or totally get rid of highly processed food.
  3. Eat fiber (because your gut bugs eat it too!).

Please note that an abrupt switch to fiber-rich foods can make your stomach bloated, so just take it easy by doing it gradually and drink more water.
 
Since antibiotics are hard on your gut microbiome, make sure to compensate by eating more plant-based food if you are on antibiotic therapy.
 
Taking probiotics is also important for gut health, especially ones containing Lactobacillus (L.) rhamnosus. Studies show that this particular strain of probiotic greatly lessened anxiety on test subjects. This bacteria is naturally occurring in Parmesan cheese.
 
Your gut is at the root of your health. Today we focused on the gut/mental health connection and I hope what I shared here is helpful for you.
 
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
 
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
Apply for a complimentary Unstoppable Health Discovery Session. http://bit.ly/schedulinghealth (subject to availability).

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

~Rebecca

How Gut Health & Weight Are Connected

How Gut Health & Weight Are Connected

Maintaining a healthy level of muscle and body fat (which is what most of us actually want when we refer to our weight) is one of the most impactful toggles on your overall health, longevity, and medical expenses. In the U.S. alone, in the U.S., 2 out 3 people are either overweight or obese. Furthermore, obese individuals spend 42% more of direct healthcare costs than normal-weight adults!

And guess what?  Your chances of gaining or losing weight can be determined by the health and diversity of your gut microbes.
 
Let’s explore some links between your gut microbes and your ability to gain or lose weight.

But first I’d just like to remind you that there is still time to sign up for my free online class tomorrow (details here. Hope you will join me!).

Dysbiosis

The bacteria in your gut have more essential functions to your health than you know. We discussed in the past how your gut plays a role in strengthening your immune system and in keeping your mood in check. But basically, your gut microbes regulate your metabolism, help in the absorption of nutrients, and even manage your weight.
 
Gut bacteria are essential in breaking down complex carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
 
But, there’s a problem when the environment in your gut is not healthy.  Dysbiosis happens when there is an imbalance in your gut’s microbial community, in which the beneficial bacteria are outnumbered by the disease-causing organisms (aka pathogens).
 
And what causes dysbiosis?
 
Every one of us is born with a different combination of gut microbes, but your lifestyle plays a big part in your gut health.
 
What you eat and what you do influences your gut microbes. According to studies, the gut microbiome of overweight and obese individuals have patterns of dysbiosis that are different than the gut microbiome patterns of healthy individuals.
 
There are 3 main contributors to dysbiosis:

  • Inflammation
  • High sugar levels in the blood
  • Antibiotics

The typical Western diet is high in both fat and sugar, which is both inflammatory and really harmful to your gut microbes. And we’re not talking about good quality fats from olives, avocados, wild/pastures meats/seafood, nuts and seeds or natural sugars from fruit and starchy veggies–but poor quality, processed versions that we simply wouldn’t have access to in nature. Speaking of low quality food sources, animals raised in feedlots receive low doses of antibiotics to gain weight faster. When we ingest those animals and their byproducts (like dairy), those antibiotics effect our microbiome and contribute to unhealthy patterns. So, the foods you eat regularly play a significant role in whether or not you have dysbiosis.
 
Bacteria Present in Slim Individual
 
In addition to dysbiosis, there are gut bacteria that actually prevent gaining weight and are found in slim individuals: Akkermansia muciniphila and Christensenella minuta.
 
While Christensenella depends on your genes, the presence of Akkermansia can be boosted by eating prebiotic foods.
 
Here’s a list of foods that boost Akkermansia.

  • Fish oil
  • Rhubarb extract
  • Flaxseeds
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Cranberries
  • Concord grapes
  • Black tea

Butyrate-Producing Gut Microbes
 
A healthy and diverse gut microbiome produces butyrate which breaks down dietary fiber into short-chain fatty acids that fight inflammation. Butyrate also produces hormones that tell the brain you are full. So less or no butyrate makes your brain think that you are still hungry even though you’ve had enough.

As you can see, diet and lifestyle matters.  I prepared some tips for you in the next newsletter  to further explore how you can boost your gut bacteria for weight loss. 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

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

Symptoms of Vit D Deficiency & How to Boost Your Level!

In case you missed my announcement last week, you are invited to my Solutions to Permanent Weight Release Masterclass: How to have freedom from diets, yo-yoing, and self-sabotage! 

This Masterclass is going to be awesome! It is a free online event and I’d love for you to join me and invite anyone that could benefit from it to join too.  I’ll be going deep into mindsets that prevent permanent weight release and I’ll be sharing 3 simple yet incredibly powerful steps you can take for releasing extra weight for good!

Claim your spot today by clicking here (plus there’s a free gift when you register!).

Now last week, I introduced a common-yet-overlooked condition, which is vitamin D deficiency. As you now know, vitamin D is vital to your body’s processes. Let’s now dive a little deeper to learn about the symptoms of vitamin D deficiency and, of course, the actions you can take to prevent or reverse it.

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency

 Actually, most people don’t have any symptoms at all, but what’s alarming is that vitamin D deficiency predisposes you to diseases such as cardiovascular disease
 
Some known symptoms are:

  • You always get sick – Because vitamin D has an important role in keeping your immune system strong, chances are you easily catch a flu or colds if you have low levels of vitamin D in your blood.
  • You feel tired most of the time – It was discovered in a study that women who complained of chronic daytime fatigue and headaches had very low levels of vitamin D and symptoms were resolved after taking a vitamin D supplement.
  • You often feel blue – Taking vitamin D supplements has been proven to improve depression including seasonal depression during the colder months.
  • You have lower back pain and bone loss – Vitamin D maintains bone health by improving your body’s ability to absorb calcium.
  • Your wounds heal slowly – Do you have a wound that takes a long time to heal? You may be low in vitamin D as this vitamin increases the production of compounds that help form new skin in the wound.
  • You have hair loss – Vitamin D deficiency is associated with severe hair loss in women and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease characterized by severe hair loss.
  • You have muscle pain – There is a link between low levels of vitamin D and muscle pain because the nerve cells that sense pain have receptors for vitamin D.

Are these familiar to you?
 
If you or your loved one is experiencing these symptoms, get yourself tested and make sure you’re getting enough vitamin D.
 
Around 400-800 IU is the recommended daily intake of vitamin D.

So how do you increase your body’s level of vitamin D?

 As I said last week, vitamin D is produced through a reaction of UV rays with some form of cholesterol in your skin. I must say that the best source of vitamin D is sunlight.
 
So the simplest and free way to get vitamin D is to simply go outdoors and expose your skin to sunlight.
 
Next in line is getting vitamin D from food sources. Did you know that fatty fish and seafood are the best natural sources of vitamin D?
 
A hundred grams of salmon can actually provide your body with about half of your daily dose!
 
In addition to salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters, shrimp, sardines, and anchovies are also rich in vitamin D.
 
Mushrooms  are the only plant-based source of vitamin D, and just like us, they synthesize vitamin D through their exposure to sunlight. Pretty awesome.
 
Egg yolks from free-range chicken are another great source of vitamin D.
 
If you seldom consume these foods, there are also fortified food available in the market today. Usually, these products are milk, juice, yogurt, and some other packaged foods which aren’t as healthy.
 
Vitamin D supplements may be necessary for some and the dosage depends on the severity of the deficiency.
 
Whether you take natural food sources, fortified foods, or supplements, the important factor in making sure dietary vitamin D is properly absorbed is by taking care of your gut. You can take in lots of Vitamin D, but if you don’t absorb it, it’s no use.
If you get sunlight exposure and you eat the foods I mentioned regularly but your Vitamin D levels are still low, that’s a clue that your gut needs supporting.
 
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

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

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

Soaked Nuts & Seeds

People often ask me if it’s healthy to eat nuts and seeds. My answer?

It depends.

When nuts and seeds are raw or roasted, they are less digestible and absorbable. I’ll explain why.

Nuts and seeds have high amounts of enzyme inhibitors–enzymes are what your body uses to digest foods. When you soak nuts in warm salt water, there are digestive and health benefits. The water helps neutralize many of the enzyme inhibitors that interfere with digestion as well as increase the bioavailability of many nutrients, especially b-vitamins and protein. The salt helps activate enzymes that deactivate the enzyme inhibitors present in nuts.

Within 7-24 hours (depending on the seed or nut), many of the enzyme inhibitors are broken down. Then you can use the oven or dehydrator to make the nuts or seeds nice and crispy (and shelf stable).

The harder the nut or seed, the longer it needs to soak. Here are some good guidelines:

Long-soak nuts (almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts) need at least 8 hours.

Medium-soak nuts and seeds (pecans, walnuts, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), 6-7 hours

Short-soak nuts (cashews, macadamias, and pine nuts) have the highest fat content and require only 2 to 4 hours soaking. I recommend not soaking these nuts for longer than 4 hours as it breaks down their healthy oils.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of raw, organic nuts or seeds (it is better to soak one kind per container, not mixed nuts, for example in case of varying soaking time)
  • 3-4 cups of warm filtered water (to cover nuts)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt

What to Do:

  • Place the warm water in a large bowl or jar (half gallon or larger). Add the salt and let dissolve.
  • Add the nuts or seeds, making sure they are completely submerged in the water.
  • Leave uncovered on the counter or other warm place (not the refrigerator) for at least 7 hours, preferably overnight.
  • Rinse in a colander and spread on a baking sheet or dehydrator sheet and add some sea salt if desired. Bake in the oven at the lowest temperature (150-170 F if your oven goes that low) or dehydrate until completely dry. This step is important, as any remaining moisture in the nuts or seeds can cause them to mold. Dehydrating time can often be up to 24 hours. You’ll know they are done when you eat one and it’s nice and crispy (no chewiness).
  • NOTE: If you plan to use nuts or seeds to make homemade almond milk or any other variety, this is the best time, as they are already softened.

How Stress Weakens Your Gut Lining (and what to do about it!)

Today I want to talk with you about something really important involving your gut lining.

Why?

Because 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, fight infections, and clear out toxins that need clearing out daily so you can thrive. 

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.

Part of what protects you is a part of your immune system called Secretory IgA (or SIgA). This is a substance that your gut makes and it acts as your first line of defense against toxins and microorganisms (like unfriendly bacteria, yeast, and other pathogens). Think of SIgA as your powerful gut warriors! You want to keep these warriors happy (functioning well and in the right amount).

What Disrupts Your Gut Lining

Some things that can get in the way of your gut and SIgA levels from doing their best are:

  • Highly processed foods
  • Pesticides and insecticides
  • Poor sleep
  • Sugar
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Gluten
  • Parasitic infections
  • Fungal infections
  • Imbalances in your gut flora
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Chemical toxicity
  • GMO’s
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Stress!

Common symptoms you might experience are:

  • Gas and bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Thyroid problems
  • Low or inconsistent energy
  • Food sensitivities
  • Chronic skin problems
  • Joint pain
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Poor sleep

How to Support Your Gut Lining

You can do a lot to support your gut lining and reduce or eliminate your symptoms through diet and lifestyle. Don’t underestimate the value of stress management!!! It can make a world of difference in your gut health and quality of life. There are lots of ways to help manage your stress including breathing and meditation, but I’m an especially big fan of things that you can do on the go, during your day, to nip the damaging effects of stress in the bud and break out of the habit of stress (yes, it can become a habit!).

Here are some things that you can do to support your gut:

  • Avoid vegetable/industrial seed oils (like soy, cottonseed, corn, canola, and safflower) 
  • Get to bed by 10:30-11pm
  • Move your body
  • Reduce or phase out processed foods, refined carbs and sugar
  • Increase whole, unprocessed foods that are right for YOUR body
  • Hydrate
  • Use stress management tools DURING your day to reset your stress hormones (like HeartMath tools)

Beyond these basics, there are TONS of ways to create a customized self-care plan to help you take your health to the next level and feel great.

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