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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

How “healthy” foods can make us fat and sick


You’ve heard that one man’s medicine is another man’s poison, but did you know that one person’s health food is another person’s junk food?

Millions of Americans suffer from at least one food intolerance/sensitivity. You can be intolerant to any food: apples, lettuce, chicken, and even olive oil. Besides making it impossible to lose weight, food and food chemical intolerance has been found to play a role in many chronic health conditions including:

  • Celiac Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Headaches & migraines
  • Fatigue
  • Weight imbalances
  • Cravings
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Heartburn/GERD
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Chronic diarrhea

Food intolerance is also considered a major stressor to the adrenal glands. Unhealthy adrenals can wreak havoc on gut health, immune system, detoxification capabilities, hormones, fertility and muscle and fat gain and loss.

What is food intolerance?

Food intolerance is a negative reaction to food that happens when your body is hypersensitive to a food and launches an attack with mediators (chemicals from your immune system such as eosinophils, basophils, neutrophils macrophages, T-cells and NK cells). Every time the trigger food is consumed, systemic disruption takes place and can cause chronic inflammation in the body resulting in a variety of symptoms (see above).

The difference between food intolerance and allergies

Food intolerance is different than food allergies in a couple of ways. One is the way that the body responds and the other is the speed in which the body responds.

With an allergy, your body’s immune system (mast cells) reacts to the offending food very soon after exposure. Food allergies occur in 2-4% of the population. The body releases histamine, prostaglandins and other proinflammatory mediators. If you have a strong enough allergic reaction, exposure to the allergic food can result in life-threatening anaphylaxis. Because the reaction occurs so quickly after exposure to the allergic food, most people who have food allergies are well aware of what they are allergic to. Food intolerance or sensitivity can be much trickier since the reaction is delayed. You can also have a food intolerance that doesn’t give you clear symptoms unless you have a lot of it or eat it a few days in a row. This is why it can be so challenging to figure out!

Food intolerance pathways

There are many, many ways that the body can react to an intolerance because there are multiple hypersensitivity pathways. The four main categories of hypersensitivity are: Type I, II, III and IV. Types III and IV are much more common in people than Type I reactions; 15-25% of population compared to 2-4%.

  • Type I hypersensitivity categorizes true food allergies as given in the above example. It is also called an IgE reaction.
  • Type II hypersensitivity has not been found to be linked to adverse reactions to food.
  • Type III hypersensitivity includes IgG reactions (commonly tested for by most food intolerance tests). Type III reactions usually take place 3-8 hours after exposure.
  • Type IV hypersensitivity is the most common pathway for adverse food reactions and yet many tests do not test for Type IV reactions. In Type IV reactions, the T-cells react with offensive foods and symptoms occur anywhere from 4-72 hours after exposure. Herein lies the challenge with identifying delayed food intolerances. How many people are going to make the connection between not feeling well with what they ate 72 hours earlier?

Finding out if you have a food intolerance

There are several methods for food intolerance testing.

  • Finger prick IgG can be done easily at home and mailed to a lab if ordered by your doctor or nutritionist. Many doctors and nutritionists in the can facilitate this method of testing.
  • Serum IgG involves a blood draw and must be done at a medical clinic. This testing is more commonly done with naturopathic doctors, but if you do not have an ND, can be requested by any doctor.
  • Serum IgG and Type IV tests offer the broadest spectrum of pinning down food intolerance trigger foods. Oxford Labs offers a test called the MRT (Mediator Release Test), which is currently considered one of the best, most accurate food intolerance tests (also tests for food chemicals). This test is offered through licensed nutritionists such as myself with special certification in Functional Diagnostic Nutritionand Metabolic Typing

To heal your body, you’ll need to get a good plan for replacing your trigger foods with gut healing, anti-inflammatory foods. Getting those stressful foods out of your diet for awhile may allow you to eat them later without it causing inflammation and all those other symptoms we talked about.

Your body is designed to be healthy. Sometimes it needs a bit of extra help so you can look and feel your best. As you now know, food intolerance is a major obstacle that may be getting in your way and causing you symptoms. You don’t need to keep wasting your time and energy struggling and guessing. Let’s figure it out together and help you feel like your best self again!

In health,

Rebecca