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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pregnancy | women's health | yoga

5 Must-Haves for a Comfortable Pregnancy

By on February 12, 2019

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It is so easy to get caught in the consumerism trap of pregnancy. My Instagram is constantly bombarding me with products that I “need” to make this season of life “better”. In our family, we are working to earn, budget, save and invest our money for the long-term, rather than buy many items on a whim. This blog is going to be the top 5 items that have not brought buyers remorse, and have really added a value to my quality of life since being pregnant.

  1. A good maternity/nursing bra. This is a place where I have spent and wasted money time and time again. I will buy a bra on sale and find that it pokes and pulls, or won’t hold me in all the right places. I am on child #3 and have spent about 5 years of my life breastfeeding, so I have definitely had time for trial and error! My breasts are the first things to start changing during my pregnancy and become quite sore, so adequate support is definitely welcomed. The most comfortable bra I have found that actually gives appropriate shape and support is from Kindred Bravely. This bra┬áhas been a godsend, and is doing well holding up with wash and wear. I also really like the story behind the founders of this company, so that is a plus!
  2. Maternity Jeans. I have purchased several pairs of maternity jeans throughout my pregnancies. Having at least one pair that feels classic, versatile, and comfortable can make you feel somewhat human. Even when you have another human residing in your abdomen making nearly all clothes uncomfortable! My favorite pair are from H&M, and luckily I found them for under $20 on clearance! I am also partial to a full maternity panel in my jeans as soon as the bump pops. I CAN NOT keep the lower belly panel up to save my life– so I would much rather have comfort than hiking up my pants all day!
  3. Body Pillow. Oh my goodness! Buying a maternity pillow has drastically improved my quality of sleep. It has been difficult to find a comfortable position with my growing belly, and the U-Shaped pillow has helped keep my hips, legs, shoulders, and neck comfortable for a good nights sleep. I like this pillow because it has a detachable extension that I can use to minimize the barrier between my husband and me in bed.
  4. Essential Oils— I truly don’t know how I survived life pre-essential oils. I use oils for everything. Soothing stretching skin, pregnancy discomfort, mood swings, insomnia… just to name a few. The book Gentle Babies by Debra Raybern was the best resource throughout all of my pregnancies.
  5. Prenatal Yoga. I started on my yoga journey during my first pregnancy 14 years ago. I came across a book and started practicing a few postures in my living room with a DVD. Yoga really helps with calmness of mind, breath awareness, and body mechanics. I always leave my classes feeling better than when I started, so I recommend all mama’s try to get to a regular class!

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women's health

B Vitamins for a Healthy Mama

By on February 4, 2019

As soon as women enter childbearing age, we hear about the importance of folic acid. Folic acid is vitamin B9 and is extremely important to the development of a fetus. Although folic acid is important, there are a whole plethora of b-vitamins and adequate amounts account for many of our metabolic processes.

There is more published research on the importance of all of the B vitamins for women’s health. Scientists have uncovered a link to vitamin-b deficiencies and postpartum depression.

Recently, I had a few days where I felt depression creep in. I was recovering from a cold and could not quite get my mind back in gear. After one night of adding an additional b-complex vitamin, I felt back to normal.

The B’s

    B1, Thiamine is the B that helps convert carbs to energy. B1 supports our nervous, cardiovascular, and muscular system as well as brain development. B vitamins are easily depleted when a diet is high in carbs and sugar. 1.4 mg is suggested for adequate levels.
    B2, Riboflavin is essential for proper eye health and skin repair. It also is required to absorb iron, so proper levels can prevent anemia. The body will not store B2 because it is water soluble. For a pregnant mama, adequate levels of B2 can reduce the risk of preeclampsia and supports proper development of baby’s bones, muscles, and nerves. 1.4 mg is required during pregnancy.
    B3 is important for the health of our adrenal glands. Our adrenals control cortisol production– the stress hormone. B3 also helps remove inflammation and chronic inflammation is the root of many health issues.
    B5 is required for wound healing. This is important during pregnancy, birth and postpartum recovery.
    B6, Pyridoxine is important for support the of brain and nervous system as well as the metabolism of protein and carbs. B6 deficiency is being studied as a possible root of anxiety and panic disorders. It is a vitamin responsible for regulating sleep and supporting adequate production of seratonin and dopamine. B6 is synthesized in the hemoglobin. B6 is often suggested to prevent or help with morning sickness. It is known to reduce nausea and vomiting due to its role in protein/carb metabolism. 1.9 mg during pregnancy and 2.0 for breastfeeding mamas.
    B9, folic acid assists in cell reproduction and helps prevent neural tube defects. Folate is also water soluble and we do not store any additional reserves in our bodies. That is why it is so important to supplement this vitamin preconception and during pregnancy.
    B12 is important in preventing neural tube defects. This vitamin is essential for making DNA, our genetic material. It is responsible for the growth of new nerve cells and helps us have adequate energy levels and feelings of happiness! 2.5 mcg is the suggested dose.

Many foods provide us with b-vitamins. Dark leafy greens, nuts/seeds, asparagus, etc. It is difficult to receive all we require through diet alone. Cooking processes, the way our food is grown, fertilized, and processed plays a role in whether or not we will receive enough nutrients from the food alone.

Fortified foods and synthetic folic acid needs to be converted to 5-MTHF (aka methylfolate) to be metabolized in our body. The way the body metabolizes synthetic supplements is a strange chemical reaction that can actually cause toxicity. This is especially common in folks with the MTHFR gene mutation.

This is why high-quality whole food supplements are vital so that we can get the job done and our bodies can utilize the vitamins the way nature intended. My favorite supplements are these or these.

Having proper levels of b-vitamins can change our genetic predispositions and help reduce deficiencies we inherit from our maternal lineage, such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and other metabolic disorders. Repairing our DNA is quite profound. Just because we are predisposed does not mean we are doomed, and we can prevent issues for future generations!

 

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