So I recently started a new certification called Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN). It’s an amazing program that dives deep into people’s foundational systems (hormone, immune, digestion etc…) by using lab work as a starting point, and looks for clues into mal-adaptations within these systems. Then through an all natural protocol (behavior, diet and supplements) I'll be able to help people bring these systems back into balance and ultimately feel better. Pretty cool, right?
One of the many things I’ve learned so far is that keeping these foundational systems running smoothly is a MUST if you’re experiencing unexplained symptoms such as weight gain and/or stubborn weight.
For example, if one of your basic foundational systems are out of balance, no matter how “healthy” you eat, you still won’t be able to lose weight. Of course, eating healthy DOES matter but it’s just one piece of the puzzle.
Unexplained weight gain, unstable weight, and/or inability to lose weight are actually common “symptoms” of a dysfunctional system or systems (again, this is assuming you’re eating healthy!).
If you’re micromanaging, counting calories, or even eating smaller portions to manage your weight, what you’re actually doing is managing your symptom (weight) and not addressing the root dysfunction. Read on to see which basic foundational system within you (it was for me!) may be out of balance AND may be contributing to your weight struggles.
Image Credit: Google
Cortisol, Adrenals and Weight Loss
What is cortisol? Cortisol is a major hormone (steroid) produced and released by our adrenal glands (two little glands that sit on top of our kidneys). It’s released daily and follows what’s called a diurnal pattern; it’s highest in the morning, decreases throughout the day, and is lowest at night.
Cortisol release is our body’s response to ALL stress, both internal and external. Mental, emotional, environmental and hidden internal stressors (i.e. unknown food intolerances) all affect our adrenals which in turn affects our cortisol release.
NOTE: Other cortisol dysregulation factors may be in play here but beyond the scope of this post.
We need cortisol! It provides us with energy throughout the day, is responsible for us jumping out of bed every morning, regulates our blood sugar and provides energy for our central nervous system. It also downgrades inflammation, acts as a pain killer, aids in food metabolism and slows our digestion down by delaying gastric emptying. It also helps us deal with mental and emotional stress appropriately.
However, cortisol is catabolic. Meaning, if our adrenals produce too much, for too long, our bodies will start to break down, not only suppressing our overall adrenal function (where cortisol comes from) but eventually throwing off all our other foundational systems (mentioned above) as well.
How does this relate to weight loss and/or weight gain? In many, many ways! For now, I’ll focus on one; the effects of low cortisol on weight.
If you’re adrenals ARE suppressed and/or dysfunctional you may actually have low cortisol. Sure, at some point you were most likely producing it with a regular rhythm and pattern but like mentioned above, excessive high cortisol (aka chronic stress) leads to adrenal dysfunction which ultimately results in low or extremely low cortisol.
Low cortisol translates, for many, into low energy, blood sugar issues, overall malaise feeling, and inability to handle even the smallest of confrontations. Irritability and unexplained fatigue along with immune suppression are also commonly reported.
This type of adrenal dysfunction will eventually lead to additional basic system dysfunctions (like hormone, digestion, detox, etc.). Mal-adaptations in these systems will then lead to WEIGHT GAIN and/or INABILITY TO LOSE WEIGHT. Hence, why eating right and exercising regularly is not enough for so many people!
In addition, many, actually alter their eating behaviors in response to their low cortisol. How? Here’s a few examples:
Do you often find yourself grabbing healthy food for a boost of energy? Is your body missing the nutrients or do you have low cortisol?
Do you experience hypoglycemia and get shaky if you go for long periods of time without eating, then eat to feel better? Does your blood sugar drop due to lack of food, or does it drop due to low cortisol?
Do you find yourself arguing with people A LOT more than what you used to? Are you then eating for “comfort?” Is it really always everyone else's fault or is it you overreacting due to low cortisol? Then, in remorse, do you eat for emotional comfort?
Last but not least, are you always tired? This one was me. For months I felt tired and would find myself eating (albeit healthy) for energy. Sure, I have 4 kids, work, and do all the other stuff that comes along with life (just like YOU!) but I was constantly using food for energy.
I got my cortisol levels tested and found them to be EXTREMELY low! This totally explained my constant fatigue regardless of my busy lifestyle, optimal diet, regular exercise AND why I was always “snacking.”
Focus on your Adrenals and not the Food
If you eat healthy and exercise regularly AND still struggle with stubborn weight, assessing your adrenal function and measuring your cortisol levels are great first steps in finding out what’s really going on, (unique to you) within your body.
By shifting gears myself, and focusing on my adrenals rather than my food, I’ve been able to lose a few more pounds from my super stubborn baby weight. Yay!
Stay tuned for future posts on how you too, can nourish your adrenals, regulate your cortisol, and ultimately lose the weight.
How can drinking raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) help you become firm and cute? By re-adjusting your microbiome. Read on to see how.
Benefits of raw ACV
I regularly tell my clients to start their day off with a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) for weight loss and/or gut issues. Why? Because Drinking ACV, daily, has not only been found to help with weight loss but it also helps regulate blood sugar, treat ulcers and reflux, is detoxifying, lowers blood pressure, and much more!
Raw ACV contains high amounts of enzymes, prebiotics, probiotics, minerals AND polyphenols making it an overall super tonic!
Prebiotic Super Powers
Amazingly, the polyphenols found in raw ACV have been found to actually help readjust your microbiome for the better. How? They seem to suppress “fat loving bacteria” called Firmicutes (fir-MIH-cue-tees) and allow for growth of better “weight managing” bacteria called Bacteroidetes (BAC-teer-OY-deh-tees) (1).
Research has found that overweight individuals have higher amounts of Firmicutes bacteria in their gut compared to slender individuals. Slender individuals seems to have higher amounts of Bacteroidetes when compared to overweight individuals.
Firmicutes bacteria are built to digest complex carbs and actually increase fat absorption. Firmicutes bacteria may even stimulate you to eat more of these types of foods so that they can be fed. Higher levels of firmicutes have also been found to turn on genes that increase your risk for obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (1)! It’s obvious that an overabundance of the bacteria from the “firm and cute family” want you to be anything BUT firm and cute!
However, the polyphenols, found in raw ACV, feed the Bacteroidetes found in your gut, acting as an effective prebiotic. As your amounts of Bacteroidetes improve, your levels of Firmicutes go down.
Repetitive ingestion of prebiotic foods like raw ACV, can help readjust your microbiome, and eventually tip the scales (both internally and externally) for the better.
But I Hate the Stuff!
Struggling with drinking it? Dilute with water (remember use a straw as it’s acidic and overtime will effect teeth enamel) and/or add honey to it. Still struggling with drinking it? Make an active effort to add it into your meals. Use it in your salad dressing, drizzle some on meat and/or soups or mix it in dips. Remember to not heat it, as many of its beneficial properties will be lost if exposed to high heat.
Adding raw ACV to your daily diet is one of the easiest ways to not only help improve your gut bacteria but help improve your overall health as well.
Just another super simple step that you can implement TODAY for better health.
Image Credit: Google Images
Inspiration and Source: Brain Maker: David Perlmutter, MD
Check out my FREE Guide: Mastering the Art of Whole Food Living! It's a 3 month guide that provides over 40 pages of jam packed information, tools and tips on how to start eating and living a whole food lifestyle. Click here for download.
Interested in finding out more about gut health and how it relates to you? Contact me for a free initial session!
Ever wonder why you overeat when you’re stressed rather than under eat? While some of us do under eat (about 30%) the majority overeat (70%) (1). If you’re part of the former group, read on to see why this happens and what you can do to change it.
The Fight or Flight Response: Not Just One Response
The concept “fight or flight” is commonly known as our body’s automatic response to stress. Historically, it’s known to be triggered in response to literal attacks on our survival. Deadly animals and/or other types of deadly predators triggered a cascade of hormones in our bodies designed to strengthen us and protect our lives. Today, the same hormones are triggered in response to our modern day stressors (running late, financial constraints, inter and intrapersonal conflicts) and “chronic stress” necessary for modern day “survival” is unfortunately, the norm for many.
Research has actually identified two separate “systems” that occur within our bodies when we’re exposed to stress. While both are part of the “fight/flight response” one of the two systems tends to predominate and dictate whether we over or under eat in response to it.
Two Automatic Responses: HPA and SAM Systems
Our stressors can either activate a HPA response (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal system) or a SAM (sympatho-adrenomedullary) response. Read on to learn the differences between the two and how they influence your eating habits.
NOTE: While the following may be momentarily “hard to chew”, it’s worth taking the time to “digest” since ultimately, understanding what happens in your body in response to stress is the first step in learning how to manage it.
Our HPA system is our “stress responding” central control station and is located in our brain’s hypothalamus and brain stem. When facing stress, it releases corticotrophin (CRH) hormones (hormones that help release other hormones). CRH then stimulates the secretion of ACTH (a regulatory hormone) from the pituitary gland. The circulating ACTH then acts on the adrenals where it stimulates the release of cortisol. Finally, this cortisol feeds back to the brain to shut off further cortisol secretion. This loop protects us from prolonged detrimental cortisol secretion and exposure and is meant to serve as an adaptive response to stress.
photo credit: google images
A SAM activation is somewhat simpler. When stressed, the hypothalamus activates the adrenals and the adrenals then secrete the hormone adrenaline. SAM activation also stimulates the release of hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine (related to the anti-inflammatory response). The SAM activation is also faster and has a more immediate physiological effect on the body.
How The Two Responses Effect Your Eating Behaviors
Chronic stress means that one of these two systems is constantly active. If your HPA axis is your main stress response, cortisol is the main hormone floating through your body. We’re all familiar with the detrimental effects of chronic cortisol exposure has on overall health. Elevated cortisol due to chronic HPA activation also directly affects our eating habits. Here’s how:
SAM activation: The “better” stress response
Increased heart rate and increased blood flow to muscles induced by a primary SAM activation, actually induces a decrease in digestion along with a decrease in appetite. From an evolutionary perspective this happens because bodily activities such as food intake and digestion are considered physiologically life threatening when encountering stressors. Additional characteristics of the SAM response related to hunger include:
How to change your HPA response to a SAM response
Amazingly, you can actually control your body’s automatic stress response! It all depends on how you perceive your stress. Research shows that if you perceive your stress as uncontrollable, a threat to your well-being and/or self-esteem, feel defeated or fearful, your HPA axis gets triggered. As a result, feelings of distress such as fear of failure and/or embarrassment serve as a “more potent trigger of cortisol release” (1).
On the other hand, if you view your stressor as a challenge (a demanding but controllable situation), you then activate your SAM system as your predominate response. Perceived challenges then inhibit hunger for the sake of overcoming them in addition to decreasing overeating.
Tips on Change
Paying attention to your automatic thoughts induced during stress takes effort, time and practice, but worth it in the long run.
Below are 4 ways that you can start activating your SAM response rather than continuing to use your HPA response. Keep in mind that excess of both systems can have detrimental effects on the body. However, due to our modern day, stressed induced society, “managing” stress is a more realistic and viable solution rather than removing it.
1. Pay attention to your body throughout the day.
Many times we may not even realize that were stressed. One way to identify it is to make an active effort to notice your bodily sensations. Tense muscles, hunched shoulders, tightening of the chest and clenched fists are all examples of elevated stress hormones. Making an active effort to notice this tension can then help you proceed to identify thoughts surrounding it.
2. Learn to take action.
The learned belief that situations in our lives our uncontrollable stem from a multitude of circumstances. However, actively working on first taking responsibility for what you can change, followed by action towards change will allow you to slowly start viewing stressors as challenges with solutions rather than never ending threats.
3. View problems as opportunities for growth.
Many of us fall victim to the mentality that certain stressors “just are” and that there is nothing we can do to change them. However, viewing your stressor as an opportunity for growth and/or an exercise in resiliency is an effective way to access your SAM system rather than HPA system. This induces a sense of control and mastery on a problem that would otherwise feel uncontrollable or threatening.
4. Practice plays on words.
You may not “mean” them in the beginning but actively forcing yourself to replace certain “threatening” words with more empowering ones, may help put you on the right track for change. For example, replace “I’m so stressed” with “I’m so excited.” Or, “I can’t take this” with “I got this.” You can even take it a step further and state “bring it on” for an anticipated highly stressful day. All of these mantras have been shown to ultimately activate the SAM response over the HPA response. Definitely worth practicing.
photo credit: google images
Ultimately, when it comes to stress, identifying how we respond to it, both mentally and physiologically is a must for weight control and/or management. Attempting to lose weight and/or restrict food, for many, is a cortisol inducer on its own. Identifying your predominant stress response along with actively changing your thoughts surrounding it may help you to change your hormones, your eating behaviors and your weight.
Source and Inspiration:
Check out my FREE Guide: Mastering the Art of Whole Food Living! It's a 3 month guide that provides over 40 pages of jam packed information, tools and tips on how to start eating and living a whole food lifestyle. Click here for download.
According to research, baby boomers are less healthy than the previous generation. Their rates of obesity is higher, they are less active, and they experience more health issues.
With all that we've learned in the last few decades about health, we'd expect the new generations to live longer and healthier, right?!
Unfortunately, it's getting worse.
Below is a list of the top 3 misconceptions in regards to the status of our overall health and longevity.
Misconception #1 - “We're now living longer”
Thanks to some advances in medicine, some diseases can now be treated and this can extend the life of patients that would have otherwise died. So because of it, we'd like to think that we've increased our lifespan.
Hardly so! We're getting sicker and sicker with each generation, and although we're able to ward off an early death, most people now die of disease rather than old age.
Misconception #2 - “It's all genetic”
Although genetics might come into play to determine your “maximum longevity potential" (how long you can live based on your genetics) and overall health, most of game is based on what you'll do in your life to take advantage of that potential.
Sure, some people can eat just about anything and live to be 90. But what if they had taken better care of themselves? Can you imagine how long they could have lived?
Maybe you don't have the constitution to reach 100. But if you can manage to harness your “longevity potential”, you could add 5, 10, 20 healthy years to your life.
Misconception #3: “Certain foods will make you live longer” and/or make you healthy.
People would like to get the magic pill. “Just tell me what to eat to live longer,” "what should I eat to be healthy," they'll say. Surprisingly, not eating, seems to be the key to living longer and better.
The most common factor of long-lived people is calorie-restriction. That means, most people who live longer eat a little less than average. When the bulk of your diet is composed of high quality, nutritionally dense foods, you learn to consume enough food to meet your needs, you'll take in less calories than what would be recommended for you by daily averages.
Keep in mind there are no obese centenarians!
So it seems that thin is best! If you can have a body fat level that is below average, but still within healthy ranges, then you're dramatically increasing your chances of not only living longer but living healthier too.
Image Credit: Google Images
*Inspired by Frederic Patenaude; The author of the best-selling e-book "The Raw Secrets".
Ready to start working towards you're weight loss goals? Contact me for a free initial session and find out if any of my programs work for you!
Image Credit: Google Images
A fascinating piece of your bodily processes, worth knowing, especially if you're trying to optimize your health, is you're bowel transit time.
Your bowel transit time is “how long it takes from the time you eat a food until it comes out the other end” (1). The ideal time for optimal health is 12-24 hours. Anything that sits in you longer than that can cause some serious long term effects! These effects include:
-increase in colon disease
-increase in estrogen dependent cancers
-compromise in urinary health for women and genital health for men
-overall general feeling of malaise
Most of it's hormone related.
“Hormones that have been broken down by the body are excreted via our feces. If the stools sit in the colon for too long, these hormones are reabsorbed into the bloodstream,” (1) increasing your chances of the above mentioned problems significantly.
How can you test you’re transit time?
All of the above methods will give you your transit time.
*Keep in mind that having a daily bowel movement does NOT necessarily mean that you’re not constipated! You may be expelling waste from 4-5 days prior! Eeeeek!
It’s worth noting that transit times less than 12 hours are not ideal either. You then run the risk of not appropriately absorbing you’re nutrients and malabsorption may be an issue.
Once you test your time and you come to see that it’s longer than 24 hours (or shorter than 12), it may be time for you to take a look at your eating/lifestyle habits and actively work on improving your times. That way, you can finally "let that s*** go" in an appropriate and timely manner.
Ready to start working towards you're health related goals? Contact me today for a free initial session and find out if any of my programs work for you!
(1) Adapted from Digestive Wellness 4th Edition. Elizabeth Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, CHN
Image Credit: Google Images
We’ve all done it. Thanksgiving Day comes along and we spend it with family and friends. We enjoy ourselves prior to the main meal and then sit down at the table, to eat our dinner. Choices are many and supply is unlimited. After some time, the meal is over and dessert is served. Once again, choices are many. Then it happens. There always seems to be one or two people in the group (maybe you!) that have to take a nap shortly after their meal! Most start feeling sluggish, stuffed, and tired. Many experience brain fog and/or start getting crabby!
Is it the tryptophan in the turkey that triggers all of this? Do we consume such large amounts of this amino acid at dinner that it’s the cause of all of the above?
Probably not. What most likely DOES happen is that we overeat, triggering a whole host of negative bodily effects. These effects can range anywhere from triggering abnormal insulin responses to not enough enzymatic activity in the gut to help digest all the excess food. As a result, the above effects occur AND weight gain ensues. Sure, you may be thinking at this point, that it’s only during the holidays that you overeat and experience the above. However, it’s worth keeping in mind that overeating at every holiday, several times a year, for many years, will result in unintended weight gain!
What can you do to avoid overeating this Thanksgiving? Read on to find out.
Skip the food you don’t really care for.
Most people have their traditional favorite Thanksgiving foods. And while there may be a few out there that believe they love everything Thanksgiving. When it comes to food served, you may be surprised to find that you may actually not really care for some if you're paying attention. For example, the mashed potatoes that you’re aunt makes AND that you eat every year may not be as good this year. Or, you’re other aunt’s famous stuffing may not be as delicious to you as it once was due to changing tastes. Many people put a little bit of everything on their plates Thanksgiving Day, mostly because it’s just there, readily available and a habit. Try and fine tune you’re favorites this year and pass on you’re not so favorite ones. You’re body and taste buds will thank you later.
Ask for a smaller plate.
Sure, everyone has the same dinner plate, but the research has shown that the bigger the plate, the bigger the portions, which make for bigger consumption. Use a smaller plate, and once empty refill if you’d like. By having smaller portions in front of you, the odds of you mindlessly overeating while discussing politics, for example, will be greatly reduced.
Chew and don’t speak with your mouth full.
I see it every year. There’s always one or two people that have to say what they want to say, at that moment, regardless if there’s food in their mouth. Not only can this be extremely bothersome to some, but also greatly contributes to overeating. It’s impossible to remain mindful of what you’re eating if you’re busy talking rather than chewing.
Wear tight fitting clothes.
Comical for some but effective. There’s something to be said about the ability of yoga pants to help distance yourself from any unwanted weight gain. If you’re wearing loose fitting clothes on Thanksgiving Day expect yourself to overeat due to comfort. By wearing fitted clothes, you can more mindfully engage you’re body’s response to your meal and remain more mindful of your body as a whole.
Keep in mind that food is meant to energize us and promote vitality and NOT induce a coma. Hopefully, by keeping the above tips in mind you can avoid overeating this year.
Do you have any additional tips? Please share below!
Wishing you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!
I recently took all 4 of my children and myself to a local salt cave.
What’s a salt cave?
A salt cave is a room that’s literally made of salt. This particular room had salt pebbles covering the floor, walls made out of salt, light scones made out of salt, and salt generators immersing small particles of salt into the air.
Himalayan salt lamps seem to be the current craze and salt caves mimic lamps on an obvious, bigger scale. The benefits of inhaling Himalayan salt are reported by many and from a medical standpoint, the experience is designed to mimic salt caves, which have long been considered therapeutic in Eastern Europe. Improvements of skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema and a range of respiratory ailments, including colds, asthma, allergies and bronchitis have all been reported.
With a 4 year old that had woken up for the 3rd day in a row with blood shoot eyes, and mucus surrounding them, I decided to finally make the decision to go, and witness first hand, if there was any validity to the above mentioned claims.
The room was beautiful and lights were dimmed. Soft music played in the background, several gravity chairs were dispersed around the room, and a short guided meditation for deep breathing began playing; all for the purpose of allowing us to receive the full benefits of our salt cave experience.
Making the decision to go with all 4 of my kids, made it anything BUT relaxing. While they had a few toys for little ones to play with in the salt (so as to not get bored just sitting in a room for 45 minutes) like bulldozers, dump trucks, and shovels, after about 15 minutes of playing with the toys, mayhem ensued.
The boys started throwing salt pebbles at each other, hard. It literally started raining salt. Everyone was ducking behind gravity chairs so as to not get salt blasted in their face. My 18 month old started trying to eat the salt. The serene music was still playing but was a distant hum as my children continued to yell, scream and laugh loudly and they continued to play their game of “salt war.” I yelled loudly and often at them (I still wonder if that room was soundproofed) and thankfully, no one else was in the room (it is open to the public).
After a grueling 45 minutes, the short guided meditation came back on the speakers to release us from our relaxed positions, lol. That was my cue to tell my children that someone was about to come in and reprimand us for being so loud and for burying the facilities gravity chairs in salt.
As I left wondering if there would be any benefit to what I just experienced, for the rest of the day, I continued to taste salt dripping in the back of my throat. You know that weird sensation you get when you have congestion and you feel phlegm dripping in the back of your throat? That’s what I felt all day but it was salty. I also had to blow my nose several times throughout the day, and that too, was salty.
In moments of calm in the room, I did make a point of inhaling and exhaling deeply so as to try and get some benefits. There was no question about it, it did clear my congestion (which I didn’t even know I had) without even having to focus on my breathing the whole time.
Going back to my original reason of going (my 4 year old and his blood shoot eyes in the mornings) the next day he woke up with no bloodshot eyes and no mucus, and the symptoms didn’t come back.
Was it because of the salt cave or did his virus and/or infection just run its course and coincidentally subside the day after we spent 45 minutes in a salt cave?
I believe it’s the former. The power of traditional therapies is valid, as evidenced by thousands of anecdotal cases, even if there isn’t always “a study” to back it up. Having read hundreds of testimonials in regards to the benefits of salt therapy, Himalayan salt lamps, halo therapy and salt caves, along with experiencing it first hand with myself and my son, has led me to believe that the salt cave helped, tremendously.
My same 4 year old now has a slight cough with obvious congestion. I’ll be making another appointment for the salt cave soon.
Image Credit: Google Images
This is not my usual style when it comes to writing but it’s an important story that I feel I must share with you!
Because you too, most likely have a love affair going on with wheat and the saddest part is, you probably don’t even know it.
What am I talking about?
Well it started with an elimination diet I initiated. I decided that for 21 days, I’d go completely sugar, grain, dairy and processed food free.
Crazy right? Yes, and HARD. It was actually way harder than what I expected it to be. I always saw myself as a pretty healthy, overall clean, not a lot or processed foods (close to none) type of eater. Still…quitting the above, particularly the first few days, was tough; super tough. Right up there with drug detoxing.
The most difficult one to cut out? Wheat.
During my coaching certification training I was immersed in information related to the consequences of wheat over consumption and negative effects of gluten. But like many, I was in denial. I felt like the information didn’t apply to me. I went to great extremes to source high quality organic wheat, sprouted organic wheat, took the time to soak wheat in acid mediums, and tried different types of wheat grains. As a result, I believed that I was exempt from gluten’s consequences and kept enjoying my wheat based foods and even priding myself in how healthy they were.
I was wrong, big time! I was just as much a prisoner of wheat as the next guy. Amazingly I didn’t even know it until I decided to take it out!
Sure, I knew I loved my sprouted grain quesadillas with spinach and yoghurt, along with my sprouted grain chips with grass fed melted cheese on top, but because they were masked in what I thought to be the utmost amount of “healthiness,” what I didn’t realize was that I had grown dependent on them just like everyone else.
Yes, dependent. The same way someone gets dependent on alcohol. Or cigarettes. Or crack cocaine.
How did I discover this dependence?
It went something like this:
Day 1 of no wheat: I felt fidgety, kept thinking about chips and dip, really wanted some bread with my food.
Day 2: The craving were even stronger! I felt lost. I ate, but wasn’t satisfied, kept thinking about toast and muffins and pancakes. Foods that I didn’t even really eat to begin with!
Day 3: Had a cloud over my thoughts, couldn’t focus, all I wanted was wheat! I was moody, crabby, fatigued, tired. I displayed every single symptom of wheat dependence and I hated that I was going through it. Especially after all the work I put into trying to make sure I didn’t fall victim to the wheat! The cravings were insane (I’m not exaggerating) and the thoughts compulsive in nature.
At this point, some of you may be thinking, why in the world would I put myself through that and more specifically why would you ever put yourselves through it?!
There’s a few reasons, but I’ll focus on 3.
When you force yourself to no longer make it about the food and instead make it about feeding your sense of self, the food loses its power and the awareness and personal growth that goes along with this shift is both exhilarating and freeing!
Huge revelation for me and for others on the same path. Once you become aware of this, you can more readily fulfill your needs with other, non-food items that don’t have any negative physiological effects associated with them.
Will I ever not eat wheat again? No, that’s not my plan. I am on day 16 though, and planning on going to day 21. But who knows? I’ve actually been having thoughts of continuing to day 30 because of how good I’ve been feeling being wheat free. I’ve lost a few pounds, my thoughts seem crisper, and I feel more organized in my life (best way to describe it).
Even though the struggle is still very real, and I’m on a path of progress not perfection, the benefits continue to regularly shine through; pulling and motivating me to continue in the same direction and remain on the same path.
Do I blame wheat for not experiencing the above benefits before? Not 100%. What I do blame though, is my dependence on the wheat, and by initiating this elimination diet I not only discovered and became aware of it, but am now in the process of breaking free from it.
Image Credit: Google Images
Interested in initiating your own elimination diet? I can help. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Did you know that impaired brain function can affect digestive health? Yes! It’s true! If you suffer from unexplained gastrointestinal issues, even AFTER changing and or cleaning up your diet, the health of your brain may be the missing link!
When our brain ages, degenerates or becomes impaired our brains overall activation decreases and this decrease affects our digestion!
There is an intimate relationship between the gut and the brain and it’s called the gut brain axis. This axis is how the gut and the brain communicate with each other. If this is surprising to you, you’re not alone!
Most people are not aware that the two are interrelated and “talk” to each other. However, current research is exploding with new discoveries on how they do exactly just that! For example, many gastrointestinal disorders are now being attributed to disturbed neural function along this gut-brain axis.
The brain communicates with your digestions nervous system (called the esoteric system and or “second brain”) through a large nerve called the vagus nerve. This pathway emerges from the brainstem and wanders to all the organs of the body, including those in your digestive tract.
It looks something like this:
Image Credit: Google Images
…and the overall process happens sort of like this:
1. The brain activates the brainstem.
2. The brainstem activates the vagus nerve.
3. The vagus nerve stimulates your digestion.
How exactly does it simulate your digestion?
So, how can you tell if your brain is impaired and hence, your vagus nerve is impaired?
Poor memory, inability to find words, or difficulty learning new things are just a few examples of impaired brain function. While many of these symptoms are many times attributed to normal aging, they are anything but normal!
While the causes of brain impairment and or what constitutes an aging brain and it's health are beyond the scope of this post, the good news is that brain function and more specifically, vagus nerve function can be restored!
By exercising it. The same way you’d exercise a muscle into shape is the same way you can maintain or restore your gut brain axis into shape.
There are several exercises you can do that can help activate this pathway but my personal favorite and one I’ll suggest for now, is singing!
Photo Credit: Pixabay
Singing, LOUDLY, works the muscles in the back of the throat and this working, helps activate your vagus nerve.
Perform this exercise daily for several weeks and you’ll start noticing a difference in your digestion!
Keep in mind that loss of vagal tone is almost always secondary to loss of brain function. So finding a new favorite song, and taking the time to learn the lyrics will ALSO help indirectly strengthen your vagus nerve by strengthening your brain. Learning something new is just one of many ways to help strengthen brain activity.
This is just one small exercise that you can do daily that will lead to BIG results!
As always, if you’re ready to finally rid yourself of your digestive discomfort once and for all, contact me today!
Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
“I’ll never be able to lose weight.”
“I should watch what I eat. I should lose more weight. I should workout more.”
“I ate waaay to much last night. I blew my whole diet.”
“It’s too late for me to become healthy. I’m too old.”
If you answered yes, I have great news for you! They're not true!
The above thoughts are examples of common cognitive distortions; even though we may feel a specific thought to be true, in reality, it’s false or distorted. These thought distortions are something we all struggle with from time to time, but when they go unchecked, guide our behavior, and we believe them to be true, they lead to unwanted stress, unhappiness AND ultimately end up deterring us from reaching our goals.
What makes these thoughts false? Read on to find out.
“I’ll never be able to lose weight.”
This is an example of a cognitive distortion known as overgeneralization. It’s false because using the word “never” (in a self-defeating context) when describing a single event, is impossible. Most likely, there have been times that you have been able to lose weight, and if you can’t recall one, you may need to think harder! ;) If you still insist that you’ve never been able to lose weight in the past, the thought is still false. Never, in this case, also infers the future, and unless you’re a fortune teller, you can’t predict it.
“I should watch what I eat. I should lose weight. I should workout more.”
Should and shouldn’t are also examples of cognitive distortions. Surprisingly, when you add should or shouldn’t to your goal related thought, you’re distorting it. How? You’re attempting to self-motivate by indirectly inducing guilt and “guilting” your way to success rarely works. What you “should” do ;) is tell yourself that you want to lose more weight and or want to work out more and then be specific by how much. By replacing the should with want and then proceeding to be specific by quantifying it (i.e. workout 5x's per week instead of your current 2x's) you’re removing the hindering self-induced guilt and paving the way for a greater chance at reaching your goals.
“I ate waaay to much last night. I blew my whole diet.”
This is an example of all or nothing thinking, another common cognitive distortion and a thought that is false. You didn't blow your whole diet, you overeat once… at dinner. All or nothing thinking, also known as black and white thinking, is highly detrimental since it allows no room for error when it comes to reaching your goals. Stating the event for what it actually is and not discounting your previous progress will help you stay on track and not completely abandon your goal. Considering were complex humans with a variety of external and internal circumstances affecting our path to success, allowing for grey areas (room for error) is a must for goal attainment.
“It’s too late for me to become healthy. I’m too old.”
Instead of getting specific with what you may be struggling with, your turning your perceived characteristics into a negative global judgement, called labeling. Rather than specifically describing what you’d like to improve (the first step in reaching a goal) you attach the all too common, unhealthy label, of being "too old.” This thought is false as indicated by the countless number of individuals that have regained control of their health throughout various ages of their lives! All you need to do is google “fit at the age of 70, 80 or 90" and you’ll not only see that there is no such thing as “too old” but that it’s also never too late!
Becoming aware of these distortions is key to long term success, especially when you’re trying to achieve health related goals. The anxiety and fear sometimes invoked when attempting to change entrenched behaviors for the better, tend to trigger an increase in these cognitive distortions. Its human nature to want to remain comfortable in your current way of thinking and you may go to great lengths to convince yourself to do so! The good news is that the more often you identify and counteract these distortions the more automatic adaptive thinking will become and the more likely you’ll be to reach your goals.
Need more help with identifying or optimizing your thinking around your health related goals? If so, email me at email@example.com and schedule a free 20 minute discovery session with me today!
Image Credit: Pixabay.com
Checklist of Cognitive Distortions. https://www.apsu.edu/sites/apsu.edu/files/counseling/COGNITIVE_0.pdf
50 Common Cognitive Distortions. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/in-practice/201301/50-common-cognitive-distortions
Are you finding yourself lacking the ability to stick to your health related goals? Do depressive thoughts such as “what’s the point” seem to take over after a few days of following a diet or plan of some sorts and then you stop? Instead of praising yourself for your accomplishments, after a few days of sticking to your plan you instead start experiencing feelings of worthlessness and discouragement?
Lack of motivation, commitment and discipline are usually what we tell ourselves are the reasons as to why we can’t stick to a specific plan. But what if I told you that while the above reasons may play a role with your inability of following through, an underlying reason may be a lack of dopamine?
Dopamine is associated with the pleasure system in our brain and people with low dopamine experience hopelessness, worthlessness, and self-destructive thoughts. One of the defining characteristics of low dopamine in the brain is lack of motivation.
Some symptoms of low dopamine:
It’s not just about taking dopamine pre cursor supplements or eating dopamine enhancing rich foods. The transport of individual components and the synthesis of these components in the brain, that finally form dopamine, are many.
One key factor for the synthesis of dopamine in the brain is THB. While you don’t need to remember its full name (tetrahydrobiopterin) what IS important to know is that it is a byproduct of folic acid.
Folic acid is a b vitamin found in sources such as leafy greens and liver and since it cannot be produced by our bodies, we must supplement through diet.
This byproduct of folic acid, THB is produced only by healthy gut bacteria in our stomachs.
Healthy gut bacteria occur when we consume a diet rich in fermented foods and probiotics. So while you may be consuming ample amounts of folic acid in your diet and or taking all the additional supplements supporting it, if your gut is lacking in healthy bacteria and THB is NOT being produced, you’re brain lacks the ability to synthesize dopamine. Leaving you struggling with many symptoms, including the inability to follow through on your goals.
This is just one of the many benefits that a diet rich in fermented foods and drinks benefits not only our bodies but our minds too. Another easy way to eat, in a way, to feel your best!
“This year I will lose weight.”
“This year I will work out more.”
“This year I will drink less.”
“This year I will quit smoking.”
“This year I will eat healthy.”
Sound familiar? These are a few of the top New Year’s resolutions that people make EVERY year. Unfortunately, only 8% of people actually keep their resolutions and the majority of the population instead, falls short when reaching their New Year goals. If you’re reading this and you happen to be part of the successful 8% then the following is a just a recap for you. If you’re part of the 92% that struggles with keeping you’re resolutions every year, then the following will help.
Is this you? Why do so many people fail at keeping their resolutions? One big reason is that most fail to realize that any change in behavior that requires repetitive action (i.e. resolutions) is a habit. As the old saying goes, we are the sum of our habits and if your daily habits are undermining your health then they’ll also prevent you from sticking to your health related resolutions. Want to succeed with your resolutions this year? Then you’ll have to change or add in new habits.
Whatever you would make habitual, practice it; and if you would not make a thing habitual, do not practice it, but habituate yourself to something else.
- Epictetus: (Greek Stoic Philosopher).
When it comes to resolutions, just like any other positive habit that you’re trying to incorporate into your daily routine, clarity, planning and commitment are required. Always remember that the quality of your life mirrors the quality of your habits so if you’re trying to improve certain areas of your life, changing your habits is key. Here's how:
2. Keep your resolutions small
Keep them small. I’m a firm believer that small daily changes will eventually lead to big results! Have a resolution of wanting to eat healthier? Break it down and commit to eating a salad at least 5x a week. Or add in a green smoothie and or a fermented food every day. Resolutions such as these are easy to implement, don’t take a lot of foresight and most importantly can dramatically improve your health.
3. Change your mindset
Resolve to change any hindering types of thoughts that interfere with your commitment to following through on your health related resolutions. For example, if you’ve set a goal of working out 3x a week for the new year and you find yourself having thoughts such as ” I don’t feel like it,” “I’m not in the mood,” or “ I’ll do it tomorrow,” make a conscious effort to actually change your thoughts so that they benefit you.
Instead, tell yourself “I DO feel like working out,” “I AM in the mood,” and “I’ll DO IT TODAY”! Practicing this exercise is key for its success, since not only are our actions habitual but so are our thoughts!
4. Decide to commit
Along with mindset comes commitment. Stick to it no matter what! Keep in mind that a strong focus now creates a different future later. Schedule it in, join a gym, hire a health coach, do whatever you feel is needed to help you commit to your goals and do whatever it takes! The first couple of weeks when implementing a new habit are the most uncomfortable and where most people fall off. The resistance and uncomfortable feelings (negative mindset) associated with these new habits is temporary and once you pass through them (usually lasting 2-3 weeks), maintaining becomes easier and most importantly, extremely rewarding!
5. Start today!
Have you resolved to eat healthier in the New Year but actually find yourself eating even worse than before, the last few weeks of this year?! Unfortunately, this type of compensatory behavior is a type of self-sabotage that actually reinforces the current unwanted behavior you’re trying to change, making it even harder to implement your resolutions. Instead, choose to start today and start “practicing” your new habit on a daily basis, preparing yourself for full commitment on New Year’s Day.
Practice yourself, for heaven's sake, in little things; and thence proceed to greater.
Even if you do find yourself by mid-January starting to fall short of your resolutions, following the steps above will allow you to just pick up where you left off and keep going without missing a beat. While the length of your list is dependent on how much you’re trying to improve this year, don’t forget to also add on to resolve to NOT GIVE UP on your resolutions.
When you hear the word "diet" what’s the first thought that comes to your mind? For many, thoughts such as restrictive, hard and suffering are what pop up first. Interestingly, the word diet comes from the Greek language and actually means “a manner of living” or "way of life." The Latin root of the word means “a day’s journey.” Nothing like how many associate the word today. How did we get so detached from the word's original meaning and instead interpret it in such a negative way? One word and it’s SAD. Not sad the adjective but SAD the acronym, the Standard American Diet.
Most individuals have become completely accustomed to SAD which consists of being overfed and undernourished, half of our meals coming from restaurants or take-out and more than half of our calories from poor quality, and nutrient poor foods.
Our current “days journey” is characterized by convenience, processed, chemicalized and preservative laden food. With that kind of description, who would even wish to think about their “way of life” in those terms? No one, hence, why the word "diet" is so foreign AND scary to many. How can you change your meaning of "diet" and incorporate it into your way of life the way it was originally meant to be?
One way is to eat a rainbow.
Eating as many colorful whole foods as you can, also known as eating a rainbow, is a wonderful way to nourish your body the way that was intended by nature. You’ll replace the processed, nutrient poor food with whole nutritionally dense food. All of the macro and micro nutrients, antioxidants and polyphenols needed by your body for optimal health will be provided AND eating the rainbow will also add some color back into your "manner of living."
Photo Credit: Google Images
By Eating the rainbow at least once a day, you can begin to incorporate the word "diet" back into your vocabulary in the way it was originally meant to be. Just make sure your rainbow looks like this:
Photo Credit: Google Images
And NOT like this.
Photo Credit: Google Images
How has your day's journey been so far?
The jury is still out...is coffee good for you or bad for you? Does it mess with your hormones or does it help stabilize them? Does it promote weight loss or cause weight gain? Does it improve memory or hinder memory? Is it hydrating or a diuretic? There are so many conflicting studies on the short and long term effects of coffee that it's hard to know what's true or not. One things definite, our lifestyle habits and genetics both influence how we metabolize coffee. Which makes all the current relevant studies both wrong and right!
Best way to know if coffee is helping you or hurting you? Take your current lifestyle factors into account and pay attention to your body.
With that said, as you continue to drink your coffee, why not turn it into a nutritionally dense beverage? Not only will it give you the energy you want throughout the day (and then some) but will also provide you with additional nutrients your body can use.
Drinking coffee like a superstar (you'll feel like one at least!) is a great way to start your day and/or continue your day AND is a great way to add in beneficial healthy ingredients that your body can use.
You’ve probably been hearing a lot about probiotics lately. Everyone’s talking about them, blogging about them, there’s commercials on TV promoting them and health professionals prescribe them. Are they as important as everyone makes out them out to be?
More and more research has proven (and continuous to prove) that probiotics (good bacteria) are an essential necessity, not only for digestion, but for optimal health. These little bacteria are found throughout our bodies and play an important and vital role in everything! From immunity, digestion and nutritional assimilation to heart and metabolic processes. They protect us from disease, affect whether were fat or thin, affect our nutritional status and contribute to our rate of aging (1). Check out image below.
Photo Credit: Google Images
How can probiotics play such an important role in so many different areas?
There are literally thousands (many still unidentified) of different strains and species, and they all have various roles and functions in the body (1).
Where do they come from?
Most internal probiotics originate from our environment, particularly during infancy. In utero, vaginal births, breast feeding, hygiene, amount of siblings and foods that are eaten, all contribute to the initial colonization of bacteria and, in an ideal environment, remain stable through adulthood (1).
Unfortunately, our current environment is NOT ideal. Even if we were born vaginally, breast fed, never washed with antibacterial soaps and had a handful of siblings running around us, our current environment continuously depletes our bacterial colonies, leaving us more susceptible to all sorts of health issues. Excessive hygiene, current food production processes and preparation, chlorine in water, antibiotics, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and over the counter medications are all just a few ways that our daily environment kills off our probiotic reserves (1).
Not only are we indirectly killing off our good bacteria but we're also not consuming enough foods that help replenish them. Ideally, if we ate traditionally fermented foods on a regular basis, we’d not only replenish our colonies but we’d also add in thousands of different strains that are not native to our digestive tracks and that are NOT produced by our bodies, but are still just as vital (1).
While I do try and provide fermented foods on a regular basis for myself and for my family (after all I do host workshops on fermentation!) I’m not always able to serve it and/or they don’t always eat it. Busy schedules and finicky eater’s results with me having to secretly supplement.
How do I do it?
I put it in their milk.
This is the brand I use.***
Photo Credit: Google Images
My kids LOVE chocolate milk, so every morning I take a capsule and dump it in. I then shake it to make sure it all dissolves, hand it over and voila! They drink it up!
The secret to this technique is to NOT have them actually see you put the probiotic in. While my kids are now used to me doing this, and are somewhat ok with it, I still do it in secret. As children they still sometimes say no and refuse to drink it. It does NOT change the taste of milk, they just resist ;).
Kids don’t drink milk? No problem, you can add it anywhere you’d like. Mac and cheese, oatmeal, cereal, anything that has a liquid or slightly liquid consistency can be used as a vehicle. Just make sure to add it in after the food or drink has cooled so as to not kill off any bacteria.
So even if you did exclusively breast feed, ate lots of fermented foods while pregnant and nursing, and had many kids running around, the secret supplementation of probiotics in your children’s diet (and in yours if needed!) is an absolute must in today’s not so probiotic friendly world.
*This is NOT an affiliate link.
*You can use a variety of probiotic brands, just make sure that they’re in capsule or powder form so as to be able to mix it in food or drink.
*Not all probiotics are the same. Some are more potent and diverse than others. See here. https://labdoor.com/rankings/probiotics
(1) Digestive Wellness. Elizabeth Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, CHN
One item that I try to avoid buying when grocery shopping for the family is fruit juice. When I DO buy it it has to be organic (to avoid excess pecticide exposure and gmos) but like so many other products, organic does NOT necessarily mean healthy.
Drinking juice, especially on an empty stomach, can totally contribute to long term health issues, particularly for children! *
When consumed on an empty stomach, fruit juice may cause what's called a "spike and crash syndrome." Juice is rated high on the glycemic index (measurement of the effect food and drink have on blood sugar levels) and will induce a quick rise on blood sugar levels, causing it to "spike." Followed by this short term spike there is a corresponding quick drop or "crash." Sometimes, this crash results in an even lower blood sugar level than before drinking it.
Children are especially vulnerable to this phenomenon! We've probably all witnessed this syndrome. Our child guzzles down a glass of juice and within a few minutes, sometimes seconds, they're bouncing off the walls. A few minutes later, they're fatigued, clumsy, grumpy, sometimes even shaky.
Why is this such an unhealthy pattern?
Because glucose spikes produce a surge in insulin and repetitive surges of insulin may set your child up for possible future health issues.
So while I try to not purchase fruit juice, I DO have to pick and choose my battles when it comes to what my kids get to buy at the grocery store. So with that said, this is how I make it "better than."
I add gelatin to it.
This is the brand I use.*
Hydrolysate Collagen is a minimally processed form of gelatin. It is a form of gelatin/protein that has been produced in a way so that the clumping nature found in gelatin is removed. It's tasteless, super easy to digest and completely dissolves without changing the texture or color of the liquid it's been added to. It is a clean source of protein (from grass fed cows) and this added protein blocks and prevents the spike and crash syndrome from occurring within the body.
By slowing down the absorption of fruit juice sugars into the blood stream. By adding this protein in, you're also benefiting growing bones, assisting in better absorption of other types of protein, and providing gut healing nutrition! Best of all, your kids will never be able to tell that it's there!
So while serving juice to my children is not one of my favorite activities (if they know we've bought it, they ask for it till it's gone) I can feel a little bit better about serving it if it has added gelatin to it.
*This does not include cold pressed fresh juices served for short term "medicinal" like purposes.
*This is NOT an affiliate link. Just sharing the product I love.
*Moderation matters. There is such thing as too much of a good thing. See here for more.
Do you have the inability to stick to your health related goals for a long period of time? Do you tell yourself that starting TOMORROW you will not eat fast food or, that starting tomorrow you WILL go to the gym but then tomorrow comes and you never do it? Or do you do it for a day or two, maybe a week and then you find yourself back to your old routine of NOT doing what you set out to do?
Here’s one technique you can implement on your own.
Ask yourself why you want to do what you want to do.
For example, it may go something like this:
I want to start working out because I want to lose weight.
Then ask yourself why again…
I want to work out and lose weight so I can be healthy.
Then ask yourself ONE more time, why?
I want to work out and lose weight because I want to feel good about myself.
Feeling good about yourself, in this example, will stir up the emotion needed to keep you motivated on a daily basis (i.e. sad, sick, or tired all the time).
Peel back your layers of why at least three times (or as many times as you need) to uncover your true emotion related to your goal.
Not sure if you’ve identified your true emotional why?
Your why should bring a tear to your eye.
Its super important to uncover what your true why is. The more you can connect your desired habit with your true emotional why, the more likely it is that you'll stick with it.
Then, once you’ve identified your emotion connected to your why amp it up. Sit with it, say it out loud, visualize it and most importantly remember it!
This feeling is what will motivate you to finally start and or continue with your health related goals.
Its human nature to forget your reasons why so make sure to take action steps that will allow you to keep it in the forefront of your mind, EVERY day, several times a day if needed. You can set a reminder, write it out, have a friend remind you, use a health coach, post it note, whatever works for you so as to not forget your why. By doing this you’ll be able to stay on track with your goals AND most importantly, experience the results you want.
Picture this: Its late at night, the house is quiet and you find yourself craving a late night snack. You open your fridge and realize that you can either eat whatever sugary junk you have OR an apple. You decide to eat the apple since it’s a “cleaner” “healthier” snack. You eat the apple and thoroughly enjoy it. But, wait… a few minutes later your TOTALLY craving the sugary junk food snack even MORE than what you were before eating the apple!
Surprisingly, there’s a physiological explanation for this. A recent study (see here) found that apples and some fruit in general seem to trigger the “feel good” area of the brain, the hypothalamus, and its surrounding areas. The key word here is trigger, not satisfy. In other words, fruit just teases this area of the brain looking for immediate satisfaction, so once eaten you’re actually left with an even stronger craving then before!
How does this happen?
It’s all about the sugar. The fructose in fruit, while all natural, actually makes you more vulnerable to severe cravings for what your brain really wants, glucose. Glucose is what feeds and lights up that feel good happy brain area and satisfies us, temporarily at least. It’s worth mentioning that this is the same area that lights up when a drug addict gets their fix…eeek!
Why does this matter?
When were in a craving state we tend to NOT make the healthiest of food choices and instead, just focus on IMMEDIATELY satisfying the craving. This is why you may actually grab that piece of sugary junk after snacking on apple, whereas if you hadn’t eaten that apple beforehand, you may have not eaten the junk.
Should you stop eating fruit then if it will just make you more vulnerable to eating junk?
No. Not necessarily. The nutritional benefits of fruit far outweigh any negatives (always in moderation of course). If you want to satisfy that initial mild craving with a clean snack option and stick with fruit, you can snack on a fruit that is naturally high in glucose. This way, you can continue to maintain your healthy eating habits, and nourish your body in a more nutritionally dense manner without the added inflammation from the processed junk.*
What fruits will effectively satisfy glucose cravings?
Grapes, bananas, cherries, and figs are just a few examples of fruits that are high in glucose.
Regardless, fruit IS better for you than a piece a cake or bowl of ice cream.
Keep in mind that if you’re craving something sweet and you find that you’ve eaten a whole bulk container of grapes from Costco, there is most likely more to your craving then just a physiological brain response and definitely worth exploring in depth with your health coach.
Remember to always pay attention to your body before and after eating. So... if you do find your face in a plate of cake after eating an apple late at night, well, now you know why.
*Always remember to check with your healthcare practitioner when eating high sugar fruits if you have insulin issues.
*Some of the fruits mentioned above have both high fructose AND high glucose. The glucose is what will most likely satisfy your craving. BOTH in excess are bad for the body.
This blog is by no means a clinical, scientific and or a scholarly explanation of the physiology of the brain and or science of sugars. It is just a presentation of my interpretation of info available based off of my own research and experience in regards to eating an apple as a late night snack.
http://www.pnas.org/content/112/20/6509.abstract Differential effects of fructose versus glucose on brain and appetitive responses to food cues and decisions for food rewards
My husband loves nuts. I love nuts. My whole family, with the exception of my 3 month old, loves nuts. We eat all kinds of nuts, walnuts, pecans, macadamia you name it, we eat them. There’s a downside to eating nuts though. They contain an anti-nutrient called phytic acid.
There’s all sorts of info out there about phytic acid so I won’t get into the details (but click here if you want to learn more).
Simply put, phytic acid is an anti-nutrient found in nuts that attaches to minerals in your body once eaten. It’s that hard outer covering found on nuts that serves as a protective barrier for the plant prior to sprouting.
When a nut is eaten, phytic acid binds itself to minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc and calcium in the gut. This prevents the digestive system’s ability to break down the nut properly and does not allow for appropriate mineral absorption (1).
What does this mean?
If you’re eating almonds for magnesium, your bodies probably not absorbing it. If you’re adding nuts to your fruit or vegetable smoothies for added protein you’re probably not absorbing any of the minerals from your fruits and greens. If you’re eating brown rice with your steak, you’re probably not absorbing the iron from the steak. If your Greek (or not Greek) and eating Greek yoghurt with honey and walnuts, your most likely not getting any of the calcium from the yoghurt.
Note: It’s important to mention that phytic acid does not draw out minerals that are already stored in the body; it only inhibits the absorption of minerals from food in which phytic acid is present and or eaten with.
So how do you solve this problem?
One easy way is to soak your nuts. Soaking your nuts prior to eating removes much of the phytic acid allowing for proper digestion of minerals. Check out directions below.
Photo credit: Google Images
How long do you soak for?
Technically speaking it varies. Check out the chart below if you’d like. There’s actually a whole science behind soaking and phytic acid levels (see here). I personally just leave them overnight but that takes some pre-meal planning. However, just a few hours of soaking on your counter top will help remove some of the phytic acid.
Photo credit: Google Images
You can even get fancy and do what I do and soak bulk amounts of nuts and then dehydrate them to store. Click here for directions on how to do so.
Photo credit: Google Images
Did I mention that they also taste great?!
Will soaking for appropriate times get rid of all phytic acid?
No. It will reduce it considerably though.
Is phytic acid a horrible anti-nutrient that should be avoided at all costs?
No (check out potential benefits of phytic acid here) but you definitely want to minimize your consumption of it. Considering were a grain based society you most likely are consuming way more phytic acid then you should.
Taking the extra few minutes a day to optimally prepare your family's nuts by pre-soaking them is just one of the many little steps you can take in helping them be the healthiest they can be. This is why I do it.
Will you notice a huge difference in your health with just soaking your nuts? Probably not, but this little step added in with many other little steps will definitely add up to BIG results.
(1)Nourishing Traditions. Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.
http://www.phyticacid.org/ Phytic AcidTips For Consumers From Food Science
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8777015 Phytic Acid in Health and Disease
Are you chronically stressed? Do you even know if you’re chronically stressed?
Sit in a chair, back straight, feet planted on the ground. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your nose. Remain still. Did you feel a slight shift in your perception? Did your shoulders relax ever so slightly? Slowly look around? Do your surroundings seem more “real,” more vibrant?
Do you get a second wind, late at night when you should be winding down? Do you stay up to late and wake up tired? Do you feel tired and wired throughout the day?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you most likely ARE chronically stressed. As a result, your cortisol levels are chronically elevated.
What IS cortisol? It’s a hormone that surges through us when we're stressed out. We need this surge in times of emergency. Its role is beneficial, protective but ideally infrequent. For many of us, this cortisol surge never turns off! So our hunger cravings, digestion and initial ability to cope with stress are ALL hindered. In addition, but not limited to, we may experience adrenal fatigue (adrenals help to regulate hormones) high blood pressure, high blood sugar, weakened immune system and advanced aging.
Of course stress is everywhere. Just reading this may be stressful for some. Everything, ranging from losing a job or the death of a loved one, to what to wear, and what to pack the kids for lunch; ALL of it is stress. If it’s not kept in check, even the most simple, mundane routines become stressful.
Check out some of the ways of how chronic stress (elevated cortisol) specifically affects your weight:
So how DO you lower cortisol levels?
Trying to find time to actually do commonly known stress relieving activities (i.e. yoga class, exercising, long walks) in itself is stressful for a lot of people! The good news is that all it takes is a little awareness, slight discipline, and a few minutes every day.
1. Deep breathing:
While ideally it would be nice to be able to meditate for 20 minutes a day, for many it’s not realistic and also lack the discipline to do so. We just don’t have an extra 20 minutes a day. Thankfully, all you need is just 1 minute, every hour. Spend 1 minute inhaling and exhaling deeply through you nose. This will allow your cortisol levels to drop. Practice this while you’re waiting for a glass of water to fill at the fridge, pumping gas, at a red light or waiting in line. Hormones are constantly fluctuating, so while a minute might not seem like a lot, it is.
According to Sarah Gottfried, MD, The Hormone Cure, you can reduce your cortisol levels by simply chanting. Worried what others might think while yourdoing this? Doesn’t matter, because your momentarily stress free self won’t care what others think! Try chanting OM, pronounced ah-ohhh-ummm. Start with a deep inhalation, and chant on the exhale. Repeat slowly, synched with your breath.
3. Pay attention to the little miracles:
Practicing gratitude throughout the day is a great way to manage stress. Consciously letting go of the thoughts of what you don’t have or what is not, and instead switching them to what you DO have is an excellent way to manage stress. Keep this practice in the fore front of your mind by paying attention to ALL the little miracles around you. When we think of miracles we tend to think of them as a huge event, when in fact it's the little miracles that happen every day that matter.
Photo credit Google Images
4. Love yourself:
Make a conscious effort to visualize "hugging" yourself through the day, regardless of how you’re feeling! Loving yourself is one of the best ways to immediately relieve stress. Not only are you more likely to do all of the above if you’re actively “loving yourself” but you will also immediately lower cortisol.
Photo credit Google Images
Inevitably we will find ourselves in stressful situations. However, the above listed, are just a few small steps that if implemented throughout your day, on a daily basis, will make room for big changes. These changes will allow you to be the healthiest and happiest that you can be, in turn allowing you to achieve your weight loss goals.
The Hormone Cure: Sara Gottfried, MD.
Photo Credit: Google Images
If your kids drink fruit juice or sodas they'll love tepache! Tepache is a wonderful fermented pineapple drink that tastes just like pineapple soda. It contains no unhealthy unknown soda ingredients and it's bubbly evervesance quality is due to beneficial healthy probiotics! Use this easy to follow recipe, below, to make your own today! Just another way to add probiotics into your families diet in a super economical and effortless way!
What you’ll need to make ½ gallon of tepache:
TEPACHE DOs and DON'Ts
What is Kefir?
Kefir is similar to a drinking-style yogurt, but contains many more beneficial probiotics than what is found in yogurt. The naturally occurring bacteria in kefir combine to form a beverage that has superior health benefits when consumed regularly! It's loaded with valuable vitamins and minerals and is an extremely efficient and inexpensive way to consume your probiotics.
What you’ll need:
KEFIR DOs and DON'Ts
A significant part of losing weight and leading a healthy lifestyle is physical activity. Not only does it speed up our metabolism but it also helps reduce stress, sleep better, makes us smarter, and helps us make better food choices throughout the day. But even while knowing this some people STILL have a hard time fitting in some type of physical activity on a daily basis. Common excuses include:
So how do you get past these excuses that prevent you from working out? One way to start is to look at your excuse and ask yourself, how is this type of thinking serving me?
How is NOT working out helping me reach my goal of weight loss and or overall desire to lead a healthy lifestyle?
When framed in this context, most likely, you will realize that you’re current thinking is NOT helping you get to where you want to be. At this point you may want to ask yourself:
Do I really want to make the changes necessary to reach my goals?
If you’re reading this blog you probably do, and put simply, your own self is what is most likely preventing you from working out. So what do you do about it?
Re-Evaluate and Re-Frame your Goal
Will your goal make you “feel good” once accomplished? If your daily to-do-list has a goal of working out, will checking it off your list make you happy? Or is it just another “thing” that needs to get done during your day?
If running for 40 minutes on the treadmill is something on your to-do-list, but when looking at it does NOT make you feel good, you can instead change it to some type of functional activity. 40 minutes of playing tag with your kids, 30 minutes of gardening, walking to a friend’s house instead of driving, a 30 minute hike; these are all examples of functional exercising and COUNT towards incorporating physical activity into your day!
Once you find an activity that makes you feel good, working out then no longer becomes just an item to check off, but rather a life style change.
Arrange for childcare, housework and or work to be taken care of. Hang out with like-minded individuals who also enjoy the same type of physical activity as you. If external support is difficult for you to acquire, focus on building up your own internal support! Pull out your workout clothes and or gear somewhere so they're visible throughout the day. Post a couple of positive affirmations in your house to motivate and remind you of your work out goal throughout the day.
Focus on Today
Stop thinking about trying to work out every day for the rest of your life, which can be discouraging (and not very reasonable) and instead put all your thoughts into working out TODAY! Plan your day, and chisel in a time that works in your favor and focus on TODAY. By doing so you relieve yourself of unnecessary stress (uncertainty of the future) AND you have a much better chance of accomplishing your goal!
Tell people that you are planning on working out at a certain time today and have them hold you accountable by checking in with you. This can be a friend, significant other, health coach…anyone that you have to report back to. This will eventually help you and lead you to holding yourself accountable, which is what’s most important when it comes to reaching your health related goals.
We are our own worst enemies when it comes to failing to stick to our goals!
And our excuses are our own self-imposed limitations projected into the future!
The sooner you realize this, the faster you can move past your excuses. So get rid of those excuses and instead replace them with love; love towards your body and love towards yourself as an individual. Our bodies crave and require movement! There is no better gift that we can give to ourselves other than physical movement on a daily basis!
When most people think of eating cooking oils in regards to weight, they think of weight GAIN, and NOT weight loss. While that’s true for the majority of vegetable oils in our diet, coconut oil has been generally linked to weight LOSS which is obviously great news for those trying to lose a few pounds.
The number of benefits reported by individuals using coconut oil are HUGE, ranging from enhancing immunity, boosting thyroid function, improving blood sugar control AND weight loss.
How does it work?
To grossly oversimplify the mechanisms behind it, coconut oil is one of the richest sources of medium-chain fatty acids. Most plant oils are made up of longer chain fatty acids which when digested are typically stored in our adipose tissue, or more commonly known as body fat. Medium chained fatty acid, on the other hand, are transported directly to the liver where they are metabolized more efficiently and effectively by our bodies and do not get deposited in our fat.
Let’s briefly talk about body fat. As we age, we tend to gain body fat around our waists, ESPECIALLY woman. This type of body fat, both external (the spare tire we can see) and internal (called visceral) is extremely detrimental to our health. Particularly visceral body fat, not only because it has been linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, but has been shown to cause both metabolic AND hormonal disturbances. Body fat has a mind of its own and releases its own various hormones causing wide spread toxicity AND indirect weight gain. Highly processed cooking oils have been highly implicated in this process. Coconut oil, on the other hand, has actually been found to REDUCE abdominal obesity!
So how do you use it?
There are many ways you can incorporate coconut oil into your diet depending on your taste preferences. Cold pressed virgin coconut oil, TASTES like coconut. Something to keep in mind when cooking with it. Whereas expeller pressed coconut oil does NOT have a coconut flavor. Both are extremely beneficial.
Where do I find it?
Coconut oil is becoming more and more readily available and I’ve seen it at most grocery stores. Especially the cold pressed version. Expeller pressed coconut oil seems to not be as common but I have seen it at Whole Foods, Fruitful Yield and Home Goods. Tropical Traditions, found on line, is my personal favorite. High quality coconut oil can be slightly pricey, especially when compared to other vegetable oils, so buying larger quantities is definitely a more economical route.
How much do I take?
If you cook the majority of your food at home, switching out your current vegetable oil for coconut oil should give you an adequate daily amount. For those who don’t cook, or don’t cook as often, 4 to 2 tablespoons a day, seems to be the norm. Again, bio individuality is key here and if you’re extremely overweight ONLY adding large amount of coconut oil into your diet and not taking anything out of your diet (i.e. adding coconut oil to your coffee but continuing to eat conventional cooking oils) may possibly lead to weight gain. Also, be mindful of your tolerance in regards to the amount of coconut oil you are eating daily.
A side note regarding olive-oil
Remaining true to my Greek heritage, I feel the need to throw out a short personal disclaimer regarding my use of olive oil. The many benefits of high quality extra virgin olive oil are so extensive that it deserves a blog post of its own. With that said, my extra virgin high quality olive oil, straight from my uncle’s olive trees in Greece, continues to be my number one go to oil when I need oil that does NOT need to be exposed to heat. So when it comes to my salads, raw, and steamed vegetables, olive oil is my one and only choice.
Coconut oil is NOT a quick fix for weight loss. Keep in mind that even if you switch out your canola oil for coconut oil in your home backed muffins, for example, if you eat SEVERAL muffins in one sitting, instead of one, you will NOT lose weight and most likely gain it. If you are an overall health conscious individual struggling with a few pounds, slightly tweaking your diet with coconut oil may help push you past your plateau. If you’re trying to lose a significant amount of weight, adding coconut oil to your diet is one of the many healthy dietary changes and add-ons that you most likely need for healthy, SUSTAINABLE weight loss.
You've all heard this repeatedly throughout your lives. As parents you've most likely said it many times to your older kids. But do you actually do it?! And while it goes without saying that chewing your food prevents you from choking, are there additional benefits to it? Absolutely, and significant ones too!
These are just a few example of the benefits of chewing your food. Now, how can you REMEMBER to chew your food?
Eating fast and not chewing your food is a HABIT and takes intention and action to learn to slow down. As children we start off chewing our food very well, keeping it in our mouths as long as needed, swallowing and moving on to the next bite when were ready. My children chew their food slowly and sometimes keep it in their mouths for up to 5 minutes! But as we develop and mature within a fast paced society, our eating habits also become faster and we lose the ability to naturally and instinctively chew and eat slowly. Here are a few tips to help...
Proper chewing is the FIRST step for optimal digestive health AND one of the EASIEST ones to implement into your daily routine! The various benefits acquired from fully chewing your food and practicing mindful eating techniques, make it well worth the time and effort!