gut health | women's health

Gut Health: The Delicate Balance to Ultimate Health

By on February 16, 2019

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

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collagen | diet | health research | pregnancy

Second Trimester Woes and Remedies

By on December 7, 2018

I am big on finding natural, healthy remedies for common discomforts. Pregnancy is a time for discomfort of all types and I am sharing what I use to curb a few common second trimester irritations. I strive to live a chemical-free life. I know as well as anyone that sometimes medication is necessary and I am not here to replace medical advice (obligatory disclaimer). Also, adequate water intake, nutrition, and exercise are necessary to support ALL pregnancies. Many symptoms and discomforts can be alleviated by ensuring these requirements are met.

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1. Pregnancy Insomnia (yes, that is a thing!)

Since the first trimester ended and I rebounded from morning sickness, I have spent many nights tossing and turning or not resting when I actually do fall asleep because of crazy pregnancy dreams. Wowza, hormones can be something else! Thankfully, I have found some natural remedies to help promote a restful night sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

This is surprisingly effective. I have been drinking 2 oz twice per day at about 3pm and again at 8pm. Tart cherry juice contains the highest amount of melatonin of any food. Another bonus with this juice is that it is high in antioxidants and has a low glycemic index, which is not typical for juices. This remedy can take a week or two to become effective, although I have noticed an effect within a few days.

Magnesium Supplements

Most of us are deficient in the mineral magnesium. Diet and lifestyle choices are often the cause of our deficiency. Processed foods, stress, pharmaceutical drugs, and soil depletion are all causes for magnesium deficiency. We can ensure that we are foods are magnesium rich by eating plenty of leafy greens, nuts; such as almonds, brazil nuts, and cashews. Many seafood choices are high in magnesium, as well as dark chocolate (70% cacao, in moderation). Also, taking a high quality magnesium supplement is also necessary. I use this one, and take before bed.

Essential Oils

I only use pure therapeutic grade essential oils from Young Living, and would never recommend anything else. The oils that are my favorites and promote a good night sleep are lavender, vetiver, and the blends Valor, Stress Away, and Peace & Calming. I apply these directly to my body, typically on the back of my neck or on my wrists. Sometimes I use a diffuser and diffuse in my bedroom. Oils are also nice to mix with epsom salts and use in a relaxing before-bed bath. P.S. Epsom salts also provide magnesium! If you haven’t tried oils yet, or want to check out Young Living, contact me and I will share my referral code with you.

 

2. Constipation

Ugh, pregnancy constipation is a common discomfort. The hormone progesterone slows down digestion therefore causing elimination issues. There are several remedies I have found effective with this complaint.

Hydration is one of the key components of digestive motility.`During pregnancy 3-4 quarts of water is necessary per day! Water fixes so much, and it is incredibly important to keep the digestive system functioning appropriately. Also, in the dietary realm fiber is important for digestion as well. Since we typically avoid grains and legumes in our diet, our fiber comes from green leafy veggies, cruciferous vegetables, cabbages, and sweet potatoes. A green smoothie each morning is excellent digestive support.

Supplements

Magnesium is another winner for helping alleviate constipation. Along with magnesium, adding a good quality probiotic, and a full spectrum digestive enzyme are must haves for digestive support. A probiotic will help alleviate constipation, however probiotics are essential for so many facets of our well-being. Probiotics are key in immune system function for mama, and will help baby develop a strong and healthy immune system. Taking a probiotic during pregnancy helps the colostrum fill with good flora that will aid in baby’s immune function, microbiome production, and production of vitamin K.

Enzymes are crucial because they aid in the digestion and assimilation of the nutrients in our food. When taken with meals, our food can be properly digested, absorbed, and converted to energy. They also have another role– proper enzyme balance helps regulate our hormones, cellular growth and repair, etc.

Tea

There are several teas blended and marketed to pregnant women. Pink Stork Constipation Tea is the one I have tried, since the business is based locally to me. It is tasty and did the job quite well. I also like that it is organic, non-GMO, vegan, decaf, and gluten-free.

Essential Oils

The oils that have been my favorite during this time are orange & marjoram. I massage them into my lower back and abdomen 2-3 times per day. I love a few drops of lemon essential oil in my water for relief as well. Plus, it adds a wonderful flavor to my water and makes drinking 3 or more quarts palatable!

3. Fatigue

Ah, how often does 2pm roll around and you are struggling to keep your eyes open? I know after chasing my toddler all morning and attempting to get some work done, this is a common occurence!

Exercise

My most effective remedy for fatigue is taking a brisk walk. When I am struggling to keep my eyes open and I know a nap or a cup of coffee is not the best choice, I will pack up the toddler in his stroller and take a brisk walk around our neighborhood. Within 15 minutes I usually feel better and have enough energy to get me through the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.

Supplements/Essential Oils

The oils I use to give me a pick-me-up are grapefruit, orange, peppermint, and frankincense. These oils are all uplifting and energizing. I will pick an oil or two, put a few drop in the palm of my hands, rub my hands together and inhale until I feel a shift in my energy level. My favorite supplement is a mineral supplement called Revitalize, which is a natural mineral supplement that supports energy levels and cellular function. I mix it with 20 oz of water and almost immediately my energy levels and cognitive function improve. Plus, it tastes like a yummy kool-aid and is free of sugar and caffeine. Again message me if you want to try it out and I’m happy to share a discount code.

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4. Itchy, Stretching Skin (and maybe the dreaded stretch marks)

Ah, one of the joys of motherhood! There are many OTC remedies for stretch marks. With my first pregnancy I used every belly butter, oil and cream that I could find at Target and still ended up with the dreaded stretch marks. Luckily, THEY DO FADE!

Supplements/Essential Oils

With my last pregnancy, I ended up getting by with minimal additional stretch marks, although I did have the itchy, stretching skin multiple times throughout my pregnancy. I would use a carrier oil and the essential oil blend Gentle Baby. This really soothed my stretching skin and I believe prevented additional stretching. Now, during this pregnancy I am taking the collagen HA supplement that I mentioned a few posts ago, this is my favorite and by following the link you will receive $10 off your first order! The cool thing with this is that I began taking it prior to this pregnancy and I noticed a firming of my abdomen within 2 weeks of taking. So this is a part of my daily regimen to support my organ and cellular health with the added benefit of skin support!

I know I have just touched on just a few complaints that surface during the second trimester. What are some common complaints or solutions that you have found along your pregnancy journey?

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diet | musings | success

Backwards With Time

By on August 10, 2018

 

avett-brothers-2390713_640The Avett Brothers are one of my favorite bands. The lyrics and title of the song Backwards With Time have been floating through my head most of the day. Backwards With Time. Am I losing my mind, or am I going backwards with time?  This verse is what I want to focus on for a moment in my writing.

Goals, decisions, choices. I think about these things a lot. Why would we ever feel like we are losing our minds or going backwards in time?  Why would someone work hard to achieve something then let all they have worked for go away? I know I have been guilty of this. An example is losing 25 pounds, managing it keep the weight off for a year and gain it all back in a matter of months. My answer is complacency. We get tired of working hard, or feel we “deserve” things to keep working on its own without the same effort. For me, I am learning to make lifestyle changes permanent. Changing bad habits– making true change, and keeping up with my vision of what true health and wellness is. I refuse to settle for only feeling “okay”. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

I have had a lot of bad habits in my life. One thing I have learned is that once you know better, it feels way worse to “backslide”. Yesterday when I sat down with my Avett Brother’s playlist I was in one of those moments where bad habits were lurking in my mind. I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and questioned some advice I was given (that I knew I needed to take). My first response was to react in anger (which for me is the cover emotion for absolutely every other emotion), then the thought of devouring a box of cookies felt like a good choice.

My mind was searching for something to soothe or procrastinate the actions I knew I needed to take for my ultimate wellness. Why, oh why is suffering such an “easy” choice? Stepping out of our comfort zone and doing something different– thinking a new thought and doing it, even if it feels uncomfortable often leads to personal growth that we can not even fathom. Lifestyle change, permanent change requires tapping into an internal strength and commitment to the light at the end of the tunnel that we may only get a glimpse of on occasion. Strengthening our focus, staying attuned to that glimpse makes the day to day actions toward whatever it is at the end of the tunnel feel less elusive. The key is to get out of complacency, pushing against resistance and catapulting up and out of the funk that sometimes feels like we may be losing our minds or going backwards in time.

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success

Harmony on the Horizon

By on April 5, 2018

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I started this blog to keep myself on track with my diet, a bit of accountability. Yesterday, I was outside with my husband mulching our flower beds, and I realized my next blog had to touch on the subject of integration. This is another glimpse into wellness, beyond  eating quality food.

From the holistic perspective, we are more than a body. True wellness encompasses mind, body, spirit, emotions, and relationships. If any of these areas are out of sync, then we can carry a weight, or dis-integration that is not the true essence of health and well-being. Several years ago, I heard the motivational speaker Jim Rohn say that “we are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”. Our closest relationships influence us greatly, whether we are aware of it or not. Our self-esteem, our way of thinking, and even our decisions can be affected by those in our inner sphere.

In my not-so-distant past, I carried a lot of negativity around with me in the form of relationships. My biggest offenders were my parents, and then on to my ex-husband. Those relationships carried similar traits with a lot of verbal abuse, gaslighting, and addiction. My reality was very skewed, I doubted myself, I believed negative words about myself, my closest friends, my decision-making ability, my desires for self-improvement, and on and on.

Several years ago, I landed on a positive group of people and I truly found my passion for my profession, my own healing, and healing for others. As I began that journey the negative relationships began to change. I started recognizing that their negativity was something I believed and accepted as my reality, which was something that kept me from feeling fully well.

Finding out that I could never “fix” those relationships by working harder or smarter was a tough reality for me to grasp. My personality type is one that enjoys winning, so letting the negativity go and “losing” and admitting I was wrong about someone was rough. I am so grateful for the circle of support I had around me as I was going through the transformation, and knowing what I know now has truly changed how I function in the world.

Fast forward to today– I am married to a wonderful man.  A man who speaks words that are uplifting, supportive, and honest. The first year of our marriage was actually tough, how could that be? I met him, recognized his good, fell in love and married then moved into our marriage with fear from my past experience. How could it be true? Did I deserve this? When is the other shoe going to drop? Over time, I have adjusted to opposite world, and can look at my surroundings while spreading mulch and be grateful to have someone like this in my life and KNOW that this good is real.

In my toxic relationships I worked from a place that “if I did this or that, then I will be loved or this or that will change”. That is something that will never work, nothing we do can change others. Having similar values, goals, dreams, and a desire to leave a similar footprint on the world are when relationships can be most harmonious. When there are major misalignments in relationships, our vision, our goals and even the expression of our innate truth can be blocked. I want to live in a place surrounded by support and positivity.

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diet

Spring Clean(s)ing

By on March 29, 2018

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This week is Spring Break for my son. I live in Florida so the Spring Break celebrations are in full swing, our town is booming! For me, Spring is a time for purging and cleansing. My closet was tackled yesterday, and as I was working on the dreaded closet I remembered that I have been pursuing my diet change for about a month. A cleansing of sorts.

During this month, I have recognized several things about autoimmune diet changes. Lists and suggestions are just that, suggestions. Every body is different, and learning what will heal your body is a matter of trial and error. Within 5 days of the diet switch, Ezra’s labs began trending upward. I will be interested to see how he improves at his next visit. I have been reflecting on the healing of my physical chaos. For my work, we have a FaceBook group where I often post live videos. Occasionally, they will pop up in my feed and I can catch a glimpse or hear my voice from the past, and I can see and hear how off kilter my body truly was.

Anxiety has always been my “diagnosis”. Toward the middle of my pregnancy it was out of control and postpartum I went through many swings. Since removing many foods from my diet, I am learning that foods are often the trigger to my anxiety. For years I searched for answers to the anxiety and panic. I would often feel very jumpy, agitated, racing heart/thoughts, shallow breath, and many other uncomfortable feelings. Until I removed offending foods from my diet, I would have never realized the effect they had on my body. Now, I am very aware of the dis-integration that can occur from eating  certain foods.

Previously, I would awaken jumpy and anxious each morning and sometimes it would take until lunch to calm my inner environment. Now, I am recognizing that the way I interact with certain foods is what causes this feeling. One of my biggest culprits are tree nuts, or nut flours. Especially almond flour. I have made a few treats with these ingredients or I will snack on nuts in the evening before bed. When I do this, I wake up the next morning with the same shakiness.  When these items are eliminated, I wake up with a clear mind and balanced body.

Sugar substitutes, even natural ones also cause this response. My body almost immediately has a fight-or- flight reaction. My muscles will tense in my head, neck and shoulders and often I will have a dull headache. When I eat the foods made with alternative sugars, I  do not feel satiated and will almost immediately go into the mindless eating. All of this occurs just from the taste of sweet, regardless of where the sweetness is sourced from. My body and mind are now having to work together. I am working to make food choices that will feed the good bacteria in my gut so that I can rid the bad. Often, food cravings are linked to the “bad guys” in the gut asking for more “food” to keep them going. Having an awareness that this is whats going on physiologically makes the changes/choices easier. I’m not saying it IS easy. As I run around town doing my errands, driving through Starbucks or Chick-Fil-A are sometimes my biggest fantasies.

When I am having those meltdown moments and am contemplating giving up all my work for convenience or a moment of pleasure, all I have to remember is how I felt for most of last year. A quick mental inventory of the panic/anxiety, shakiness, shortness of breath, and abdominal pain will often clear the cobwebs and remind me of why I chose this path. I know it is probably a weird comparison, however thinking of my nice clean closet, rid of all the clutter and accumulation of the year (s) was my thought this morning. When you have an environment that is tidy, it is easier to notice when something is misplaced and impeding the flow of the space.

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