Posted on 3 Comments

Gut Health: The Delicate Balance to Ultimate Health

birch-1498550_640

Gut health and the human microbiome have been recurring themes in my blogging. On Monday, I received my 25 week pregnancy update and in the article it stated that during these next few weeks of pregnancy, the baby is establishing and developing her immune system. I started thinking, and researching what to do to make sure her immunity will be the best it can be.

Maternal Microbiome

All of the research pointed back to gut health, and the microbiome. Ah-ha! Something I am familiar with. Why is gut health so important? Our guts are literally our second brain, there are over 100 million neurons that line our digestive tract. Our guts house more neurons than our spinal cords! That is pretty incredible! These neurons, along with over 100 trillion bacteria need to stay in perfect balance to help maintain our health.

When the “bad” bacteria is abundant, we see many problems. Compromised immunity, skin issues, trouble achieving and maintaining our ideal weight, brain-fog, lack of focus, and even our emotional/mental health are linked back to this delicate balance of gut bacteria. Craving sugar, wheat, starches and gluten is a warning sign that the bad bacteria is “louder” than the good bacteria in our gut. When this happens, it is possible to starve out the bad bacteria and nourish the good to begin to find that balance. Removing grains and sugar from the diet will starve the bad guys. Foods that nourish the good bacterias are fermented foods, such as keifer or sauerkraut, and fibers from dark, leafy green veggies.

Knowing what your “second brain” is telling you by listening to your food cravings is a great way to build your own immunity, which in turn will give baby a heads up as she develops in-utero, and if mom’s microbiome is functioning well, baby will receive what she needs during the birth process and the “good-guys” will colonize quite quickly. When our microbiome is uninterrupted, that is when we are in “good” health.

The Antibiotic Conundrum

When our immunity is compromised it is easier to pick up viruses and bacteria and suffer their ill-effects. We see our doctor and are often prescribed an antibiotic. An antibiotic may kill the bacteria that is making you ill. However, it also wipes out the delicate ecology in the gut. Have you ever been sick after a round of antibiotics? Maybe started having digestive or skin issues? Possibly a yeast infection? All of your “good” guys have been destroyed and now need nourished and fed.

In the medical community, it is often suggested to take a probiotic immediately after taking an antibiotic. This is good advice, although restoring the microbiome to its original homeostasis can take up to 18 months after 1 round of antibiotic. And, no. I am not saying do not take an antibiotic if you are truly ill with a bacterial infection! The moral of this information is to get your microbiome and immunity in tip-top condition by taking care of your gut health to prevent the need for an antibiotic.

The Body’s Biggest Job

All day, every day our bodies are working on ingesting food, digesting food, assimilating the nutrients from the food, and eliminating the remainder. This is another piece of the puzzle that will boost immunity and microbiome for mom and baby. In our gastrointestinal tract, having an appropriate balance of digestive enzymes supports the digestion and assimilation process.

We need support breaking down proteins, carbs, and fats from the foods we eat. The Standard American Diet, along with commercial farming practices and cooking methods do not allow us to receive adequate enzymes from our food alone. One of the benefits of adding additional digestive enzymes to the body is increased energy. This is because our body is adequately breaking down and assimilating food without increased energy output going to the GI tract just for digestion.

smoothie-729923_640

Postpartum & Beyond

Knowing that gut health is linked to so many disorders of the human body really is great information when it comes to postpartum health and beyond. No matter who you are, pregnant or not, male or female, young or old, gut health is the place to start when wanting to achieve wellness.

For me, learning that certain strains of gut bacteria are responsible for emotional and mental health was quite enlightening. After delivering my second son I suffered from postpartum anxiety. Luckily, I was able to change my diet and add a few good supplements and I received relief from my symptoms very quickly. Knowing this information, I can prepare myself for what’s to come postpartum with this birth by adequately nourishing and supplementing during my pregnancy. So, my supportive methods are supplementing my diet with fiber, digestive enzymes, and probiotics. The benefits for me are increased immunity, better skin and slower aging.

If any of these issues spark your interest, or you know your gut is something you are needing to rebalance and restore. Feel free to email me and I am happy to help you with get started choosing food, supplements, or even just to point you in a direction to do your own research.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted on Leave a comment

Food for Thought

Untitled design-9

Any time I take on a new project or passion, I will research it, feel secure with my plan, and then usually get the rocket off the ground with intense focus. So much so, that my husband often feels left behind a bit in my trail of smoke. Since my last post, I have made our meal plans, researched further into healing autoimmune responses, went on the search for appropriate pantry products, and now have experienced the change within my body for 6 days.

With Ezra’s anemia, I have had to spend some time in the medical world. I kind of go a little bonkers looking around and seeing what the mainstream recommendations are for our health and wellness. Even with breastfeeding there is a lot information floating around suggesting the mother’s diet does not impact the infants health. I read an article today that stated “research tells us that the quality of a mother’s diet has little influence on her milk. Nature is very forgiving – mother’s milk is designed to provide for and protect baby even in times of hardship and famine.” I do feel that has some truth, however to say our dietary choices will not impact the infant seems to be a bit stretched.

I guess that is how we can live in a society where the quality of our food is poor, the labels we read are not transparent, and chemicals are in every nook and cranny. Since moving toward the lectin-free diet this means removing quite a few foods from my diet, it requires finding high quality meat, eggs and dairy products, and eliminating some of the foods that have often been deemed “good” for us. Having a pretty clear list of what is acceptable and what is not is helpful for my mind. Prior to this diet I imagined I was doing a good job with food quality. I was buying and cooking mainly organic food. Little did I know that 100% organic, or free-range, and all of that labeling is actually NOT the highest quality. Those animals are still fed “vegetarian” feed that is full of corn and soy. So inadvertently I was still being subjected to those ingredients through the meat/eggs/dairy that I was consuming. The old saying is “you are what you eat”– and that includes the entire food chain.

I often reflect on the diet I had as a child. The Standard (or even quite a bit below standard) American Diet of the 80’s & 90’s. We had a few seasons of fresh fruits and veggies during my childhood, although the majority were canned vegetables. We ate a diet very heavy with meat and potatoes, “country cooking” and the common processed foods/fast foods of the time. In my nearly 40 years of life, I have gradually began to put the pieces together of how the toxic build up could cause some of the heath issues that I carried into adulthood. Finding an answer for infertility (without going the medical route) was where I started learning about endocrine disruptors and the chemical overload we have in our homes. I started removing chemical cleaning products, changing my household items, stopped reaching for OTC solutions for common ailments and really began making the shift. That became quite easy and just a way of life. Dietary changes have been more difficult. It has definitely been one step at a time.

Having Ezra has been my major trigger to fix this piece of the puzzle. I saw him go through so much in the first few days of his life, and now recognizing our food choices have further compromised his health has been a major ah-ha moment. Having an awareness of how my body has reacted to certain foods is making it easier to recognize when the same thing occurs with my children. Parents are truly the first teachers.

Posted on 1 Comment

Lectin-Free

Untitled design-7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past week has been a stressful one for our family. Our little Ezra went in for his 1-year well check and did not quite meet all of his requirements. This little kid has given us a few scares in his short life. He began his life being born a little more than a month early; preeclamptic mama, emergency c-section, low-birth weight, could not maintain glucose, body temp, and was finally diagnosed with an enterococcal infection which required a 21-day NICU stay and a lot of antibiotics.

Otherwise, he seems to be doing quite well. He is still a breastfeeding champ, has started solid foods, is almooossttt walking– he is a super happy, active boy. The issues we are currently dealing with are low hemoglobin levels, eczema, and recurrent respiratory issues. The low hemoglobin alarmed a large crew of medical personnel and now we are being referred to a hematologist to take steps to diagnose and treat.

I have worked in natural health for several years. I began my wellness journey as a yoga instructor, have added in doula work, lactation counseling, and work teaching people how to lead a toxin-free life. My husband is on a similar career path, so jumping on medications and procedures is not us. I immediately started researching and putting the steps together to figure out what the cause of this issue could be. I have a lot of friends who are in this holistic world as well– so I called in my troops to help figure out the root of what this could be before we get thrown into the realm of specialists. The first place I began to look is our diet. Ezra has just begun his journey into the food world, I am still breastfeeding so I am his main source of major nutrients/immunity.

The information we have and have to sort through is daunting. USDA rules/regulations, pediatrician recommendations, standard American diet recommendations, etc. I am good with a plan, and from my research I am finding this kid is dealing with an autoimmune issue…. and so am I. Our gut health is extremely poor. The amount of antibiotics we were dealt last year has definitely done a number on both of us. Ezra has several factors going against him in the world of gut-health. Birth via c-section, antibiotics, NICU stay– although necessary steps, can really wreck havoc on the digestive system. I have been aware of mine for quite a few years and I have tried different elimination diets. The problem with many of the diets I’ve tried is that they are not sustainable over a long period of time. So, today begins our journey into another food plan. This time I am beginning with a lectin-free diet cleanse. 3 days of this, and then moving on to the lectin-free diet.

My blog is my accountability and journal of how this goes, as well as our struggles and successes over the next few weeks of this lifestyle change. So far, the biggest struggle is finding pastured chicken. I’ve been to Publix, Earth Fare, Trader Joe’s, a local farm market, and a health food store. Nada. As I am making this change, Ezra will be eating some of the veggies on the plan and breastfeeding at his request. I am the one cleansing, and will see how his body reacts to my diet change. Tomorrow, my book the Plant Paradox arrives– so I will delve a bit more into this philosophy.