HPA Axis and Blood Sugar Regulation

What in the world is the HPA Axis? First I must say this is not medical advice, but I am here to educate you on what the heck is going on in your body and how what you feed your body directly impacts your body.

The HPA Axis stands for: the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, As the name implies it involves the hypothalamus, the anterior lobe of the pituitary gland, and the adrenal glands. This is a main component of the stress response. Our thyroid is also connected and affected by the release of the hormones from our stress response. Due to our busy stressful lives, diet and environment our HPA axis is usually skewed and working in a high stress mode. Stress can come in many forms. Whether it be physical, such as injury and illness, or emotional, the body perceives stress as a threat to homeostasis.

We are all familiar with the term “hormones”. Hormones are released from our endocrine system and the HPA axis is a triangle of three key endocrine glands that help the body regulate cortisol levels (our stress hormone) and maintain homeostasis.

Responding to stress

When the body is exposed to a stressor our brain signals neurotransmitters which activates the HPA axis starting with the hypothalamus. Hormones such as the corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) is released which then targets the anterior pituitary gland where receptors are kept. This then stimulates the production and secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) into general circulation of your body. ACTH then binds to receptors on the adrenal cortex and stimulates the synthesis and release of glucocorticoids. The one we are familiar with specifically cortisol (known as the stress hormone). Epinephrine then triggers, glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis, and lipolysis. Blood sugar rises and CRH & ACTH are suppressed via a negative feedback loop attempting to bring the body back to homeostasis. Insulin is then released to decrease to bring back down the sugar which we then usually reach for that sugar and fire our adrenals and fire more cortisol and repeat a dangerous cycle.

In response to cortisol the body induces a number of metabolic effects in order to restore the body back to homeostasis. Cortisol’s response in the body :

  • Increases blood glucose concentration by activating enzymes in gluconeogenesis and inhibiting the uptake of glucose in peripheral tissues
  • Stimulate inflammation by reacting to of cytokine receptors,
  • Affect our thyroid hormone levels, specifically thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4).

What does this all mean?

Ultimately, this means an imbalance in homeostasis results in an imbalance in the hormones discussed above. This results in blood sugar dysregulation as well as potential thyroid hormone levels resulting in hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism. Although a supplement may decrease the tilt of the axis the solution is finding the root cause and stressor. We can then live in a chronic sympathetic state (fight or flight) and have a miscommunication between the HPA-axis with dysregulated blood sugar.

So you know that being “hangry” and feeling those blood sugar spikes/dips are not normal, but now you know what it is doing on a hormonal and cellular level in your body.

How to improve your HPA Axis:

  • Work on your blood sugar regulation by eating a whole food nutrient dense diet with balanced macronutrients. That is where working with a professional like an NTP comes in. After analyzing your food and mood journal and NAQ we can come up with a bio-individualized way of eating for you.
  • Sleep Hygiene: Screens off before bed to decrease stimulation as well as activities to activate the parasympathetic nervous system. This can include; dry brushing, vagal nerve exercises, yoga, meditating, breathing techniques or journaling.
  • Routine: Your body and adrenals especially love routine. Eating around the same time, having morning and evening rituals so your body expects what is coming and how to react. Versus the constant unknown, rushing and surge of stress hormones.

I hope this is informative and able to help you heal. May the root cause be physical, emotional, or nutritional (the link to everything) I hope you are able to be more aware and intuitive to make changes in your body.

References:

Smith, S. M., & Vale, W. W. (2006). The role of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in neuroendocrine responses to stress. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience8(4), 383–395. https://doi.org/10.31887/DCNS.2006.8.4/ssmith

Stephens MA, Wand G. Stress and the HPA axis: role of glucocorticoids in alcohol dependence. Alcohol Res. 2012;34(4):468-83. PMID: 23584113; PMCID: PMC3860380.

The Gluten Debate

Author: Kate Zink at Chronically Holistic

Sadly we’re no longer eating the wheat that our parents ate. To be able to keep up with the amount of grain we eat in our diet it has been genetically modified to become drought-resistant, bug-resistant and faster growing wheat. It’s estimated that 5 percent of the proteins found in these modified types of wheat are new proteins that were not found in either of the original wheat plants. This is hard for our bodies to recognize and digest and are part of the problem that has lead to increased systemic inflammation, widespread gluten intolerance and higher rates of celiac.

Being gluten free has been a popular topic over the years. Some people immediately feel better, while others (like myself) did not notice any change at first but do long term. There are healthier gluten options just as there are dairy but just be mindful to eat it in moderation. Gluten damages the tight junctions in your gut because it is difficult to digest. When this happens small particles of undigested food, bacteria, and even toxins can escape to your digestive lining into your bloodstream. This then triggers inflammation and can lead to a leaky gut which creates chronic inflammation, food sensitivities and allergies.

Most gluten containing foods are low in nutrients and filled with additives that your body cannot process. Although this is all true, you also want to be careful while choosing gluten free options. Unfortunately, these products are usually filled with crappy oils, artificial flavorings and preservatives to make up for the taste that further contribute to inflammation. As well as the obvious foods such as breads, gluten is hidden in lunch meats, flavored dairy products such as ice cream, processed cheeses, spices labeled “natural flavors” and pre packaged cut foods. Scroll down for hidden sources of gluten.

What is gluten and what does it do to our bodies?

Gluten is freaking delicious but serves us with no nutritional value besides empty carbohydrates. It is a main staple of our American diets, but unfortunately due to the fact most common flours have no nutritional value and that it has became so genetically modified, in my opinion it actually does more harm than good when consumed.

Gluten is defined by the celiac disease association as , “a general name for the proteins found in wheat (wheatberries, durum, emmer, semolina, spelt, farina, farro, graham, KAMUT® khorasan wheat and einkorn), rye, barley. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected”. Because of this sticky glue texture it can be hard for our body to digest.

Important note: You don’t have to be Celiac (have a gluten allergy) to have a reaction or sensitivity to gluten. This was where I was stubborn and continued to eat it because my celiac labs were negative. Food sensitivity testing can be helpful here but I recommend an elimination diet prior to this.

What gluten does in our body?

If you have chronic symptoms of food allergies (see the list below) I highly recommend you doing an elimination diet with gluten. Although you can breakdown gluten it is very hard to digest it completely in most peoples guts leaving an undigested molecule that can lead to poor permeability in your gut lining which can result to further inflammation. By ignoring this inflammation more and more undigested foods can leak through which triggers an immune response which will just make you more sensitive to more and more foods. Not to scare you but this is what happened to me and I became sensitive too many common food allergy foods. Luckily it is not an allergy and you may be able to eat these foods again once your gut lining heals. It takes awhile for you to come to this conclusion and it does take time to heal, but is possible with proper guidance!

Symptoms of Food Allergy, Sensitivity, & Intolerance

The symptoms of food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances can affect many parts of your body. I assumed if I was having food sensitivities it would present as digestive troubles, but to my surprise it can manifest as many symptoms as listed below. Symptoms can happen immediately after eating a food, or in some cases several days after consumption. Here is a small list of symptoms that can arise from a food sensitivity:

  • Digestive and IBS symptoms such as bloating, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Fatigue, chronic exhaustion despite adequate rest.
  • Pain symptoms including joint pain, body pain, or headaches
  • Neurological symptoms such as brain fog, memory problems, anxiety, or depression
  • Skin symptoms such as rashes, hives, eczema, or acne
Gluten Sensitivity: Signs, Symptoms, and Complications

The most common type of gluten in our diet:

Enriched White Flour: This is what most processed goods are made out of. White flour essentially has no nutritional value. Any refined flour, including unbleached flour, is a refined grain. Refined grains are milled to take out the bran and germ of the wheat kernel. The milling process gives flour a nicer texture and an extended shelf life, but it also removes fiber, B vitamins and iron (the good stuff).

Enriched white flour is digested much faster than whole grain (not a good thing) because this usually results in a blood-sugar spike then crash. This releases cortisol (a stress hormone) every time this happens or every time you eat white flour. Whole grains are digested slowly due to the high fiber and protein, this results in you feeling full for a longer period of time and more stable blood-sugar levels. If you continue to eat gluten try to only eat things made with whole grains.

The term “enriched” white flour is deceiving. The nutrients that are added back in to “enrich” the flour are synthetic forms of what was stripped away during processing. These nutrients are unrecognizable and therefore, unusable by our bodies. Whole grain foods have more nutrients, period.

Flour is bleached so you cannot tell it is rancid bleached and enriched wheat are common ingredients on food labels. This means it is processed in such a way it is bleached and more than likely also having MSG (an addictive chemical that makes our food taste better). Flour is bleached with a chemical called potassium bromate. During the 1980s bromates were linked to cancer in laboratory animals but is still used in the United States although he FDA has encouraged bakers to stop using it, no ban has yet been placed. The ingredient is outlawed in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Europe. An “unbromated wheat flour,” in the ingredient list indicates that they’ve chosen to eliminate it from their process… but who has actually seen that on a label? So if you are going to continue to eat gluten after this post look for organic unbleached and unbromated wheat flour. But I recommend you limiting it or giving it up completely. Why feed your cells something with no nutrition which results in your body having to work harder to digest it?

If you are just not ready to explore the life of gluten free living I encourage you to eat whole grain and flours in their whole form such as Einkorn. Gluten is more absorbable if sprouted or soaked so breads like Ezekiel or silver hills are great options!

Hidden sources of gluten to be aware of:

I don’t want you to go crazy reading labels but I will list some sneaky ingredients and foods that contain gluten. Although the ingredients may not be good for you the FDA legally has to requires all food labels to include warnings from the top 8 major food allergens which makes it easy to spot when something contains gluten. These allergens account for more than 90% of all food allergies in the U.S. and include: Milk, Eggs, Fish, Crustacean shellfish, Tree nuts, Peanuts, Wheat and Soy.

Natural flavors can be a sneaky place for gluten to hide but if it is labeled gluten free it only uses certifiably gluten free spices, chemicals and additives that hide in natural flavoring.

Remember the Acronym “Brows” for the main sources of gluten.
B- barley
R- rye
O- Oats (unless stated GF)
W- Wheat
S- Spelty

Here are the more hidden sources:

  • Anything with barley or malt
  • Breading
  • Brewers Yeast
  • Bulgur
  • Couscous
  • Durum
  • Starch
  • Soy sauce
  • Natural Flavors
  • Bouillon cubes
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Modified Corn Starch

Great gluten free grain options:

Below are some great gluten free options. Be sure to soak your grains as it removes approximately 20–50% of the phytic acid from the grain making it easier for you to digest. Experiment with sprouted grains as well as they are full of nutrition!

  • quinoa
  • wild rice
  • buckwheat
  • sorghum
  • tapioca
  • millet
  • amaranth
  • teff
  • arrowroot
  • oats (make sure they’re labelled as gluten-free as they may be contaminated with gluten during processing, also chose organic here as non organic oats are genetically modified and sprayed heavily with weed killer.)
Your Guide to Soaking & Sprouting Whole Grains, Beans, Nuts, & Seeds

Gluten Free Grocery Items

A lot of gluten free items have natural flavorings, artificial flavorings, MSG, inflammatory vegetable oils and sugars to make it taste better. If you are a non celiac avoiding gluten to help with inflammatory symptoms you want to be sure you are minimalizing these foods as well. Processed foods are filled with these ingredients but there are a ton of naturally occurring gluten free options such as meats, fruits and veggies.

Naturally Gluten-Free Foods List: 50 Foods You Can Eat Worry-Free – Pop Zero

My favorite gluten free “clean” processed food brands are:

  • Lesser Evil Snacks
  • Chomps and Epic Jerky
  • Siete Products
  • Unreal Chocolate
  • Justin’s Chocolate
  • Simple Mills Products
  • Larabars
  • Primal food Kitchen Products
  • Silver Hills Gluten free bread

Ingredients to stay away from in foods that cause inflammation and poor gut health:

Just knowing a product is gluten-free isn’t enough sadly—we need to look at the labels and see what ingredients the product contains. This is for non gluten free followers as well. Most of these ingredients are in highly processed foods so by avoiding them you can avoid most of these ingredients.

Even though the FDA hasn’t banned these ingredients, we have to remember that they are not food. These gums, stabilizers, and additives are just that! They are in most big named processed foods but you must remember they do not naturally occur in food. They are created to sell you on their product by making it taste or feel better by manipulating food texture. Most prepackaged gluten free foods are highly processed and lack the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fiber your body needs. Besides gaining weight and putting yourself at risk for several diseases, you may become nutrient deficient. When you continually eat these processed ingredients you can become deficient in several vitamins, minerals and fiber. Overall, we want to eat food that is as close to its natural state as possible. Here are ingredients I tell my clients—both gluten-free or otherwise to avoid:

  • Grains that contain low or no nutrition (like corn, rice, tapioca starch, potato starch and non organic oats) that have replaced the gluten with starchy ingredients. The sugar contents in these ingredients are higher than wheat, sugar, and even candy bars. The ingredients in Gluten-free foods raise blood sugar higher than all other foods. Remember sprouting and soaking your grains make them more digestible in general.
  • Processed Sugar (especially high-fructose corn syrup, brown rice syrup and white table sugar)Gluten-free foods use sugar to replace the flavors lost when grains were removed, and it’s almost impossible to find a gluten-free product without added refined sugar. You’ll often see sugar listed several times on the ingredient list in its many different forms: corn syrup, maltodextrin, dextrin, sugar, etc. Many gluten free foods contain rice products (rice starch, rice flour & brown rice syrup) — Rice is notoriously contaminated with arsenic, which is a “potent human carcinogen” according to scientists at Consumer Reports and classified as a group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  • Inflammatory oils (Vegetable Oils) -Besides containing GMOs, canola, soy, and cottonseed oils are highly processed before they end up in our food. The most commonly used is soybean oil which is almost always genetically modified, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids that increase the risk of inflammation, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases.
  • Corn and/or soy which are usually genetically modified (GMO) — corn and soy ingredients (corn meal, corn starch, corn syrup, soybean oil, soy lecithin) are found in a lot of gluten-free pastas, crackers, and cookies and chicken nuggets. When you see anything made from conventional corn or soy on a label, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s genetically modified (GMO) because the vast majority of these crops in the U.S. are GMO unless it is otherwise listed.
  • Gums such as Guar and Xanthan Gum which can trigger allergies or GI issues in certain people — Food companies often add the additive xanthan gum for texture and softness ESPECIALLY when gluten is taken out. This hasn’t really been shown to be a dangerous ingredient to eat, but be aware that it’s often derived from GMO corn and triggers allergies or gastrointestinal issues in some sensitive people.

** Remember I am not giving you medical advice and this is just my personal experience and professional knowledge. I hope this guide was informative and not meant to scare you but to make you aware of what we are feeding our bodies with daily and the benefits of removing gluten from your diet if you are having symptoms of chronic inflammation.

Your stress bucket 🪣

You can eat a 100% organic farm raised diet and still be “unhealthy”. I was totally baffled for years why I was in so much pain but eating so “clean”. Just as you can’t dress like a football player and expect to jump into a professional game and nail it, you also can’t eat healthy and ignore other stressors on your body and expect to be healthy. Food is the basic support to our body and is essential, but there is so much more that contributes to our wellness.

If this is you, then kudos to you! If you’re here though you are probably suffering in some aspect and here for curiosity or guidance.

Your body is similar to a bucket. It can only take on so much before it “overflows” or in your bodies case, goes into overdrive which then results in our symptoms and illnesses.

There are many ways our body detoxs and rids our body of toxins and stresses. If your bucket is full then there is no room for more water to come in. I’m not saying you are supposed to live a stress free life, but one that your body can handle and stay balanced. Obvious stressors include visible stress, but many of us (myself included) had hidden stressors from your diet, environment and immune that are not obvious!

This is why it’s so important to look at healing your body as a whole and not at only the symptoms. On top of this every body is different. This is why some diets, detoxes and supplements work for some but not others. I have been there! It is frustrating, time consuming and expensive! Don’t give up if you’re suffering, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You just haven’t found your bio individualized plan to help you heal yet.

Here are some tips on how to balance out your “bucket flow”

  • DRINK MORE WATER! This is soo simple and widely known, yet most of our health issues are from cellular dehydration! Drinking GOOD drinking water and enough of it is always my #1 go to for health concerns, especially if they are new!
  • Correct digestive concerns: look into food reactions, sensitivities. Gut health is soo important to your health!
  • Eat a whole food diet: this will help balance out any blood sugar, fatty acid, mineral and detoxification issues. Everyone is individualized, so there is no one size fits all diet approach, but eating whole nutritious food is a great start! Check out other blogs on how to eat cleaner and how to clean out your pantry
  • Avoid environmental factors: Now you can’t live in a filtered bubble and avoid all toxins but there are some easy lifestyle changes to decrease your toxic load dramatically. Check out previous blogs on how to live a more chemical free life.

If this interests you and your looking for a way to get healthy for your individual health needs click the “how to work with me tab” to get on my list. I would love to guide you into becoming the best you. I will be accepting clients in August 2021!

How to help your Immune System Function at it’s best this Winter

A fever any day at any age promotes instant fear, especially during the pandemic. It’s even scarier if you are a mom because kids get sick and get fevers. I have had a lot of health issues, but luckily I have not been “sick” for over three years. Prior to to this I was reliant on antibiotics and Tylenol every winter. By overusing medication when it wasn’t absolutely necessary I weakened my immune system by depleting something called glutathione. The only way I discovered this is was from a very accurate and personalized blood test that tested my blood at a cellular level ran by a naturopath. Which means I got to see how my cells were working not how a blood level looked. If you didn’t pay attention in science class we are entirely made out of cells! Every muscle in our body, to organ to our self (organism) is made of cells. So functioning on a cellular level is beyond important. For me this meant my blood levels looked okay, but on a cellular level the minerals, vitamins and antioxidants such as glutathione were not being absorbed/produced or used properly. A lot of things can cause this such as; Chronic Illness, Medication Overuse, Chronic Stress and a Poor Diet (everything always comes back to nutrition!). Sadly, most of American’s suffer from one if not all the above causes. I am hoping to help educate you on when you need to treat a fever and how to keep your immune system working in full gear for this upcoming winter season. As always remember this is my personal not medical advice, always seek professional help if you need medical attention.

Glutathione’s Role in Your Immune System.

Glutathione is one of the body’s most important and potent antioxidants.! Antioxidants are substances that reduce oxidative stress by combating free radicals in the body (Berkheiser, 2018).

By taking medications such as Tylenol when not needed you are suppressing and depleting this great antioxidant! Other causes listed above are chronic illness, stress and a poor diet. This is why it is important to treat your body well because although you may not think it is important, it is on a cellular level to survive and stay healthy!

Glutathione: Benefits, Side Effects, Dosage, and Interactions

The Critical Roles of Glutathione (Pizzorno, 2014) :

  • It helps protect against oxidative stress (breakdown of cells from exposure to chemicals and toxins)
  • Cofactor for several antioxidant enzymes
  • Regeneration of vitamins C and E
  • Neutralization of free radicals produced by Phase I liver metabolism of chemical toxins
  • Transportation of mercury out of cells and the brain
  • Vital to mitochondrial function and maintenance of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

When do you need to treat a fever?

Fevers are not necessarily dangerous.  The infection may be! A fever is certainly scary but it isn’t always an emergency if you or your little one has a high fever. Fevers stimulate a strong immune response in our bodies which can quickly eliminate pathogens (infection). We want that immune system to kill the infection and not suppress it with medications. Many people panic when they see a fever of 100° F in fear that their child or self will develop brain damage and rely on an antipyretic such as Tylenol or Motrin. An actually temperature is not considered a fever until the it reaches greater than 100.4° F with a rectal thermometer. I read a great post by My Friend the Pediatrician on Facebook. It basically says to follow your gut and observe your child or yourself. You know your body or your child’s more than anyone else! Here are a few things to consider before treating with medication:

  1. Pay attention to your body or child’s body more than the temperature reading. If you or your child is acting in a way that you are concerned, that is more important than a temperature reading. This is when medication and a phone call to your doctor is needed. Lethargy, not crying for infants, and no wet diapers or tears for children can be signs the infection is worsening, there is trouble oxygenating or dehydration. These signs no matter of the temperature warrant not only a call to the doctor but a trip to the hospital.
  2. A fever between 100-100.4 is safe if you or your child are not showing signs of distress or dehydration listed above. You want to fight off those bugs and keep your immune system working non suppressed.
  3. Fussiness or crankiness is not a reason to treat with medication. If you don’t feel good you are not going to be in the best mood! Now if your are cranky because you broke your leg then I think some pain medication is warranted! Otherwise let your immune system work, rest, give or get cuddles and eat the best food you can get down. Always call your pediatrician or doctor if you are concerned.
  4. With all this being said.. it is NEVER normal for an infant under age 3 months with a fever (greater than 100.4° F). This warrants a call to your pediatrician and needs to be checked out immediately.

How to boost your Immune System?

  • Try to incorporate a variety of leafy vegetables, fresh fruit and good quality meats to get in Vitamin C, Sulfur, Selenium and naturally occurring Glutathione! These vitamins, minerals and antioxidants help promote a healthy immune system. Examples include:
    • Strawberries (Vitamin C)
    • Citrus fruits (Vitamin C)
    • Kiwis (Vitamin C)
    • Peppers (Vitamin C)
    • Broccoli (Sulfur)
    • Brussels sprouts (Sulfur)
    • Cauliflower (Sulfur)
    • Mustard greens (Sulfur)
    • Cottage cheese (Selenium)
    • Brown rice (Selenium)
    • Brazil nuts (Selenium)
    • Good quality meats (Selenium)
    • Spinach (Glutathione)
    • Avocados (Glutathione)
    • Asparagus (Glutathione)
  • Avoid alcohol, this has been proven to directly increase liver stress which makes it harder for your body to detoxify and function on a cellular level. This is especially important if you are sufferings from chronic illness, stress or nutritional deficiency.
  • If you are sick and none of those foods sound appetizing (I don’t blame you) make some homemade bone broth with some good quality bones (organic if available). I make this a couple times a month to cook with and have a stash if I need to sip on some soup or broth when I need a little immune boost! If you have an Insta-pot it is sooo easy to make and so yummy! Here is how I make mine:
    • Place all your bones (beef or chicken) in the instapot.
    • Add 6-8 cups of filtered water
    • Add 2-3 cups of vegetables, bonus if you add some from the list above. Fresh is better but frozen is better than none.
    • Add garlic, onion/shallots/leaks
    • Fresh or dried herbs, Salt and Pepper
    • Cook on HIGH for 1 hour
    • Let cool and strain and freeze for cooking or sipping! If you did it right it should be a gelatinous texture after cooled or refrigerated.

I hope you have a healthy winter and healthier immune system always!

References:

Berkheiser, K. (2018, April 25). 10 Natural Ways to Increase Your Glutathione Levels. Retrieved October 17, 2020, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/how-to-increase-glutathione

Pizzorno J. (2014). Glutathione!. Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)13(1), 8–12.

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating has changed my life. I eat good food when I am hungry and I enjoy a treat within reason. Intuitive eating is defined as, “eating is based on physical hunger rather than prescriptions from diet books and experts. Eating should satisfy physical hunger without causing guilt”.

Intuitive Eating vs. If It Fits Your Macros - FIERCE AND STRONG

I don’t count my calories. That is a scary statement for almost every female not satisfied with their body and weight. I also don’t count my steps, I do light intensity work outs when I have the energy, I don’t weigh myself, I eat good food when I am hungry and follow the 80/20 rule. I know when I talk about “dieting” people can get disgusted with me because of my size. Everyone’s body is made to be a certain size, the biggest goal anyone should have for themselves is to feel healthy and comfortable in their body. I have been at both ends of the spectrum from too thin to overweight. At neither end did I feel comfortable or healthy. I don’t read into nutrition labels for anything other than nutrition and mainly focus on the ingredients. I believe in intuitive eating, a balanced diet with health y food and indulging with out guilt…and I am in the best shape of my life! Yes a simple science of subtracted x amount of calories a day will equal in weight loss, but you also are going to stress yourself out by tracking and stress yourself out when you aren’t perfect… and your body doesn’t function well under stress. So in turn, your anxiety and obsession with your weight and diet will only leave you stressed unhappy and not working properly. Lacking energy, anxiety and chronic pain have been issues I have suffered with on top of body confidence issues…and I know I am not alone. That’s why I am promoting a healthy lifestyle so others can begin to heal and feel better!

7 Steps To Mindful Eating! | The Tao of Dana

Stress and weight loss.

We all have stress in our daily lives. Especially in our current state with Covis-19. But even “pre-virus”, we were obsessed with our weight status. Most women have measured their bodies before and step on the scale obsessively. We obsess over how many steps we took and how many calories we ate and burned. We work long and odd hours and all have families or other obligations that make healthy eating the last thing on our radar. A lifestyle change is the secret to looking and feeling your best. That’s the truth but no one wants to hear it. Simply eating good food when you are hungry, recognizing emotional eating habits and make peace with your food choices. The answer is not a supplement, not a calorie restricting diet or a new cream filled with chemicals to help shrink your legs. Sadly, we know this but we like the fast paced, instant gratification, convenient lifestyle. I’m American, so I enjoy these things as well… but I enjoy feeling good and living a healthy lifestyle more!

What does stress do to our digestive system?

  • Decreased blood flow and oxygen to the gut. You know how important I think the gut is to your overall health so this is an important reason to de-stress.
  • Decreased metabolism. Slowing this down will keep you from burning those those pounds you are stressing over losing so badly about.
  • Decreased nutrient absorption. Being in a chronic stress state will not allow your gut to work properly and absorb the nutrients needed for your cells and body to function at it’s best.
  • Increases your food sensitivities. When you are stressed you don’t digest food, and your gut becomes more leaky and inflamed. Once this happens your body can easily become sensitive to inflammatory foods.
See the source image

So how do you eat healthy without counting your calories or “macros”?

You should follow a balanced diet but you don’t have to count your calories to do so. You simply have to fill your plates with real nutritious foods with emphasize on filling your late with good fats, vegetables, fruits, grains (if you tolerate the) and protein! You should be able to eat as much “real food” as you want to fill yourself and not have to worry about the caloric amount in it. I personally eat every 2-3 hours, but everyone is different. You should eat when hungry and eat enough to where you are full but not overstuffed. Over eating causes digestive issues and the gut and digestion plays an important part of our health.

Eat less processed food! Try to cut back to a processed food item to a few times a day and workup to one if none. There is nothing as “healthy processed food “. Yes- there are healthier options, but if it is in a bag and has more than one ingredient… it’s processed.

Make leftovers. Make a big batch of sauteed veggies, beans, rice, quinoa etc. Having easy access to real prepared food makes it easier to get in nutritious foods while saving you cooking time. You can always freeze meals also. We do this all the time if we know we don’t want leftovers and then you have something for work or in the future when you don’t feel like cooking.

Enjoy a treat! Eating healthy doesn’t mean you can’t eat sweets. Eat a sweet without rationalizing about the calories and enjoy it. Remember it’s a treat, not ten cookies a day. Simply work on not over eating and watch out for emotional eating… and enjoy your treat!

See the source image

Mindfulness and the importance

  • Focus on just eating. We are all guilty of multi tasking and eating and driving. The easier way to start being mindful while eating is to put your phone away while you are eating! I have a hard time with this one but digestion actually starts with your sight and smell. By visualizing and smelling your food you begin to secrete digestive enzymes to aid in digestion. Without this you have to work harder to digest your food which leads to a slew of issues!
  • Be thankful and think of you food as nutrition and nourishing. Thinking of your food as fuel instead of calories allows you to enjoy your meal while focusing on the food to allow for those salivary glands to produce digestive enzymes.
  • Eat slow! This is why cutting back on multitasking and mainly focusing on eating can come in handy. Most of us do not chew our food well, leading again to digestive stress.
See the source image

So the secret is?

The answer is… a lifestyle change! Start small by trying to eat the rainbow daily. Then start adding in new foods and trying to not eatthe same food more than 3x a week. Food is fuel and we don’t appreciate our food as much as we should. Variety in our diet provides us our nutrients and good bacteria for our bodies to thrive. Eat good food 80% of the time and enjoy yourself the other 20%. You can learn to enjoy real nutritious food and move away from a processed chemical diet. It’s worth it and your brain and body deserve it. You deserve to feel better, enjoy life and simply be happier and more present. This is the magic answer to being healthy, not a secret pill or diet fad.

Elimination Diets:

When do you use an elimination diet and why?

Elimination diets are usually peoples last resort, when they could easily find the answers to a lot of your issues. Most everyone would rather take a pill than eliminate something that they enjoy. I’ve been there, but now that I have done it and feel better… man I wish I cut out those foods earlier! As your body becomes more inflamed it becomes more sensitive, your gut becomes more leaky and you acquire more food sensitives. Food sensitivities are not allergies and many people are able to add in foods they were sensitive too.

Believe it or not- not all food sensitives show up as a stomach issue. My sensitives displayed as brain fog, anxiety and irritability. This is common and this is why most people will avoid an elimination diet because, “they don’t have gut issues”. Well secretly it is all related to your gut. Your gut is connected to your brain (aka your neurological system) more than discussed. So that brain fog and irritability you get from eating pizza can actually be a food reaction! Crazy- but true and not talked about enough!

Tips:

  • During your elimination diet make a list of what you can eat, this will make meal prepping easier and it will emotionally be easier to handle on what seems like a restricted diet. Don’t get caught up on what you cannot eat or you will be frustrated the entire time and cheat on your diet, which will only prolong it!
  • Put all the elimination foods out of site in a box or spot in the fridge. The whole “out of site out of mind” will be beneficial when you are tempted to cheat or got hangry and want a quick snack.

Your pain threshold

This is something I learned about during my elimination diet of tyramine from the Heal Your Headache book by David Buchholz. This is applicable for all elimination diets and trigger foods. By decreasing your trigger level, you move further away from your pain threshold. If you are in a constant inflammatory state you are more than likely always close to your trigger level. By lowering your trigger level you are not only able to have less pain, but you will be able to realize what triggers you easier when you get to reintroducing foods.

I am a visual learner and the whole “pain threshold” thing made much more sense after reading Dr. Buchholz’s book. Here is my own doodle version.

How do you know what foods you are sensitive too?

So there are a TON of elimination diets. The most common include; Gluten free, Dairy Free, Soy Free, Nut Free, Histamine free, the Anti-inflammatory Protocol (AIP), Paleo, Whole30….shall I continue. Each serves it’s own purpose but if these are health diets (not to lose weight) you are doing these to feel better! If you have been in pain for a long time, you probably have developed food sensitives to a lot of foods with out knowing. The most common sensitives due to the inflammatory process in the gut of these foods include; eggs, dairy, gluten, sugar and soy. I have a separate blog post on a leaky gut and go over the science a little of why these foods cause inflammation in the body. The summary is, as our bodu becomes inflamed our gut becomes “leaky” which ultimately results in food not properly being absorbed and toxins leaking into the body, causing chronic inflammation, causing food sensitivities to inflammatory foods.

To personalize your elimination diet you can have your food antibodies tested.. but I don’t like to start here. If you chose to go this route I have companies I feel are most accurate. Your physician may be able to order them but not understand the results. There are two primary antibodies you can have tested. These are IgE and IgG antibodies. The IgE antibody test measures for actual allergies, in regards to elimination diets it would be for food allergies. If you are having an actual allergic reaction (hives, itching, rashes) from foods, you are probably aware, but it never hurts to test to rule out allergens. The IgG antibody test shows what your body is sensitive too. This sensitivity puts you closer to your pain threshold and acts as a trigger and inflammatory response in your body.

There are eight common food allergens that can cause an allergy or food intolerance/sensitivity. These eight are; eggs, dairy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish and soy. On top of these common ones caffeine, foods high in histamine, tyramine and certain additives like MSG and preservatives can all cause inflammation in the body. If we don’t eat a varied diet we are allowing inflammation to occur, specifically if we eat one of these common food sensitive foods often. When you do an elimination diet you are to eliminate all triggers of the diet you are trying for a given amount of time (6-8 weeks is best practice) then reintroduce one food slowly, by one food a week at a time. Doing this properly can take a lot of time and may be why simply getting your food antibodies tested may be a good idea. This is not necessary and can always be done after a food diary and some trial with eliminating some common foods intolerance. The easiest way to start is by eating normal and recording how you feel. You can then chose what to trail and eliminate from your diary. It’s important to not only keep a diary of what you ate and how it affects your physical pain but also how it effects you mentally and digestion wise.

If we consume high inflammation foods on a regular basis, and our body is already in a chronic inflamed state, food sensitivities frequently develop.

Food diaries

So you decided on the food choice you are going to eliminate. Whatever led you to your choice of food to eliminate, may it have be pure curiosity on seeing how you feel off it, a hunch from knowing your body noticing your symptoms after eating it or from an actual food antibody test…regardless of why you are eliminating that food group you need to keep a food dairy to track your symptoms. Because, if you are cutting out all the “good stuff” you want to do it correctly and only once! Don’t trust your mind to make a correlation between how you felt the last time you had pizza and this time. We think we can remember but if you truly are sensitive to something, you probably aren’t aware of it fully or you wouldn’t be eating it. Keep in mind, food sensitives may not just show up as digestion issues (mine didn’t). Besides the common digestive signs when you have an intolerance; gas, belching, bloating, irregular elimination and so forth, you can have neurological food intolerance symptoms. This can include; anxiety, irritability, brain fog, fatigue and pain. Now if you suffer like I did with anxiety, irritability, brain fog, fatigue and pain daily…you may think how will I know it’s worse? This is why a food diary is important, especially during the reintroduction phase. Ultimately you should be feeling a decrease in symptoms before you reintroduce foods. This is why even though it sucks at the time, you should wait 6-8 weeks at least until you add foods back in. This will allow you to properly track your food sensitives and symptoms. I was amazed at what caused me brain fog and anxiety after eating. I was sensitive (with out knowing) to so many things I ate daily. You should reintroduce foods slow (even though I know you are dying to add in everything at once). You should do this by adding one food group (example: eggs) a few times a week and monitor. You should only add one food back into your diet at a time. Reactions can occur anywhere to hours to days after a food is ingested. My reactions were always pretty fast but the results of it could last days. This again is why a food diary is important, you can’t possibility recall or correlate all of your symptoms and emotions from that egg you ate days ago. Keep in mind if you do have a reaction to something while reintroducing a food, you should continue to eliminate it and reintroduce it again at a later time. You may have to eliminate it permanently but more than likely you should be able to tolerate it in moderation in the future.

A little science behind how we become sensitive to foods.

Every time we eat something it comes with it’s own bacteria and it helps feed our gut microbiome. Our gut has it’s own ecosystem called a microbiome which contributes to issues if unbalanced or if it has an overgrowth of a certain kind of bacteria. This is why variety in your diet, and switching up what probiotics you take (if you take them) are important. It’s really easy to have an overgrowth of one bacteria if you eat the same thing everyday. If you are healthy this won’t drastically affect your health, but if you have chronic illness and chronic inflammation your gut can easily become leaky. This can be done alone from diet but it usually occurs in combination with chronic medication use, chemical exposure and a diet high in inflammatory foods.

You got this!

It is going to be difficult but in the end it is worth it! Once you see how amazing you feel after a few months of skipping out on that gluteny dairy filled pizza, you will never regret it or look back. Remember, not all eliminations are forever! Most aren’t and you may be able to add in foods you reacted too later on, if nothing in moderation. If you suffer from chronic inflammation symptoms such as; headaches, fatigue, brain fog, IBS, anxiety and so forth, take the leap in investing in your health by fueling your body with what it needs to heal. You’ll be amazed what you discover and you may even get off your medications and live that pain free carefree life you deserve. Thanks for reading and contact me for any questions or guidance. I am here to help because I wish I had some guidance in the beginning of my journey.

-Chronically Kate

Leaky Gut 101: The Ultimate Answer to Your Health

Most of us seek out help once we start developing problems. These “problems” are actually symptoms that manifest as common issues like pain, fatigue, and digestive trouble. Not knowing that these are symptoms of a larger issue, we begin to treat these “problems” directly with pain medications, energy supplements, and digestive help. This seems like the right thing to do – because you don’t know better. I certainly didn’t, and I have a degree in the heath field!

It’s not a big secret, but it’s also not common knowledge that our gut health is the most important thing for our health. I wish I knew this before feeding my body years of medications trying to fix my “symptoms” and only making my gut worse. But that is why I am here educating – so you can live your best life. It is not okay to have no energy, to be in constant pain or fatigued, and to have digestion issues. Sadly, suffering from these issues is so common that we ignore them and assume it’s normal. I hope the information I provide is informative and helpful. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and you should seek out professional medical advice before changing any medications, supplements, or diet.

My personal journey has led me to pieces of the puzzle which ultimately resulted in a leaky gut diagnosis. I’ve always suspected I had a leaky gut, but I didn’t realize the importance and impact it has on your health. Ultimately my leaky gut led to many food intolerances and absorption issues due to chronic medication use and a diet high in the wrong foods, even though I thought I was eating right. You probably are not aware of the importance of your diet, especially if you have health issues.

What is a “leaky gut”?

Gut health is thankfully getting its well-deserved fame these days but the word “leaky gut” is being thrown around without full understanding. Although it is a controversial diagnosis in Western Medicine, there are many sources and research studies illustrating that gut health is directly correlated to most illnesses and diseases. To understand leaky gut, first you must understand that it involves more than digestive issues. This was true for me: I had no issues or evidence of a digestive disease. Of course you can (and most people do) have digestive issues, but a leaky gut also causes illnesses with chronic inflammation and can masquerade as fatigue, anxiety, blood sugar issues, weight gain, and so forth.

Leaky gut is defined as “a condition in which the lining of the small intestine has broken down. In this state, it becomes permeable to foods which should only be able to get into the bloodstream when they are more or less completely broken down (digested). With leaky gut, these food elements flood into the bloodstream as more or less complete compounds. These substances are capable of stimulating allergies and creating many problems which are widespread in the body.”

In layman’s terms, your body is not absorbing your food and nutrients properly, which leads to common issues and medical diagnoses. Toxins then seep into your bloodstream and your body has to work hard to fight them. This leads to chronic inflammation, pain, and other symptoms. Examples of leaky gut disguised as disease include (but are not limited to) non-insulin dependent diabetes, fertility issues, thyroid issues, anxiety, depression, chronic pain, IBS, and Crohn’s. More than likely, you will be prescribed medications for these issues. The medications may help, but they are not fixing the root issue. Your gut remains leaky, and eventually the medications may stop being efficient, another “illness” will arise, or your illness will get worse. As a result of getting sicker, you will probably be prescribed more medications to “help” – unknowingly making it worse.

As your gut health becomes worse, your body becomes more inflamed and sensitive. This leads to food intolerances and sensitivities. Food sensitivities come with a whole other slew of symptoms which include pain, brain fog, anxiety, and depression. This can be confusing because you can suffer these issues from a leaky gut and food sensitivities. More than likely, your food sensitivity is worsened by your leaky gut. It’s a big connecting puzzle in the end, but in the meantime, it makes finding out the one root cause of why you feel so sick harder and harder.

Ultimately, I have learned there is not just one cause and more so a combination. The leakier your gut becomes, the more sensitive your body becomes. Your body begins working harder to fight off the inflammation while still not absorbing the proper nutrients needed to allow you to heal and continuously allowing toxins to seep through. Consequently, you continue to get sicker as the cycle continues. If you are anything like me, this may lead you to becoming desperate, and in turn, you might end up taking any medication (making it worse) the doctor throws at you in the hope that something will help. The good news is that you know the answer now, and it’s not another hopeless diagnosis – it’s treatable!

How to heal your gut?

Diet Change. This is something no one wants to hear (I’ve been there), but would you rather suffer the above issues or change your lifestyle to live a happier, healthier life? Sadly most of us (myself included) would have rather taken another pill than change their diet, but diet change is necessary to heal the gut. There are TONS of diet recommendations for healing a leaky gut, and without the proper testing, it’s sort of a guessing game to identify what is causing the inflammation in your body. Even though it seems like a lot and is restrictive until you get the hang of things, it’s best to eliminate everything all together and then reintroduce one at a time once you are feeling better. Here are the most overlapping and strongly correlated changes you can implement in your diet:

  • Eliminate Gluten. This was something I refused to do; I have been tested for gluten intolerances and celiac disease but have never shown sensitivity, so I was stubborn and refused. After I sought out care and had a food sensitivity test done, I realized that I am sensitive to almost every form of gluten (wheat, barley, rye, and a ton of other non-gluten grains–eek!). Remember, by allowing more inflammation in your diet, your body becomes increasingly sensitive to more types of foods. You may be able to reintroduce some forms of gluten in later on, but for now, you should eliminate it until you are feeling a lot better. If you like research to back up your decision, here is an article from a medical journal on the effects of gluten on our bodies and specifically our gut.
  • Eliminate Conventional Dairy. This was also something I was very hesitant about because I used ghee/butter in all my cooking. A breif elimination of conventional dairy allows you to add in good quality dairy after inflammation is decreased. Check out my blog on dairy here. Gluten and dairy with a leaky gut membrane can allow for candida overgrowth, so if you have skin issues such as rashes, extreme fatique or acne this should clear up dramatically 6-8 weeks in of your elimination. Conventional dairy is very congesting and also proven to cause inflammation.
  • Avoid Soy. Soy products have been clinically proven to cause inflammation. Look for whole soy products and limit to a few times a week.
  • Avoid Preservatives and MSG. I have an entire blog post on this, but preservatives cause inflammation in your body and oxidization of your cells. This only increases inflammation and poor absorption in your body.
  • Avoid Histamines. This can seem restricting along with eliminating dairy and gluten. Check out this article on what foods release or activate histamine and why histamine causes inflammation. You can wait to do this if you are not feeling any better after a couple months into being DF/GF beacuse it can feel very restricting. I found a ton of unknown triggers here and was able to reintroduce these foods after a few months, making my diet less restrictive. Keep a food diary; it helps a ton with tracking symptoms and food triggers, especially when you are reintroducing foods.
  • Eat More Fiber. The easiest way to do this is by eating more fruit and veggies! Because your gut is healing, try to avoid a ton of raw veggies and cook them first to allow for easier digestion. We worry way too much on protein when most of our plate should be veggies with our meals. Start small by adding veggies to each meal if possible.
  • Supplement Support. These suggestions should not be done until speaking with your doctor. Try to buy refrigerated supplements as they are better for absorption because they aren’t as oxidized.
    • Look into the need for a digestion enzyme such as HCL. Most people with a leaky gut also have low stomach acid and slow digestion. There are plenty of natural foods that support HCL as well as herbs. I love digestive bitters!
    • Do your research and take a good live probiotic while your gut is healing. Microbiome Labs is my favorite but work with a practictioner because some probiotics can worsen symptoms if you are not ready for them.
    • Liver and Gall Bladder Support. I love supplements with Grass Fed Beef Liver, Vitamin C Taurine, Pancrelipase and Organic Beet Concentrate.

These are recommendations and common causes and triggers of a leaky gut, but regardless, you should seek guidance from a medical professional. I thought I could “heal myself” with natural remedies and diet changes, but I had no luck and was exhausted from seeing new doctors and the bills that accompany them. I do not think I would be where I am in my health journey without the proper guidance. I receive care from a naturopathic doctor who is able test and interpret labs and tests that standard American doctors do not test for. I spent so much money on natural doctors and the root cause was always nutrition. This is why I went back to school– I felt it could be done for much cheaper and less invasive. I do not recommend doing this on your own because there are many different supplement options and since absorption is an issue, you need to be particular in what you are taking. Prior to seeking out a naturopathic doctor, I have seen over a dozen specialists and have had more tests and procedures than I can count with empty diagnosis after diagnosis.I Although I did appreciate all naturopathic medicine had to offer me, I truly do believe that I could have avoided the expenses of all the testing and just changed my diet for what my body needed with working with an NTP! Being in the medical field I wanted to see the hard proof before making a huge lifestyle change. In hindsight, the lifestyle change was needed and would have been more beneficial than all the testing and anxiety of seeing “things wrong”, when obviously something was not normal, I was having symptoms! Lucky for you this is why I went back to school! I now know the nitty gritty of common symptoms without the expensive tests and supplements being the first round of defense. Food is ultimately the easiest answer for your health.

Patience.

It may have been quick, but more than likely, it took awhile for your gut to get so bad and it will also take time to fix. It isn’t your fault that your gut got sick. As a society, we are becoming more aware of the importance and impact of the overuse of antibiotics and medications along with the problems of a Standard American Diet.

Work with me or your medical professional to play around when to reintroduce foods and for supplement support along the way. These lifestyle changes are important in healing and may not be forever but are necessary to heal your gut if you want to feel better. The saying “food is medicine” is often quoted for a reason. With time, your gut will heal and your symptoms will start to dissipate. It is scary making a dramatic diet change, but trust me when I say it is worth it. I wish I knew years ago; I could have started healing myself and not have gone through all the time and money it took to get here. I am not sure I would have listened, but I at least would have known the importance and jumped on the bandwagon sooner.

After suffering for years and finally having relief, and after reading so many other success stories related to gut health, I urge you to give it your all because what do you have to lose? Your health and your life is more important than that frozen pizza and day-old donut. You will learn to love healthy food and will want to eat good because feeling good is worth it; you may even start to enjoy cooking. I can’t promise you that will fall in love with food prep dishes, but maybe the dishwasher?

I wish you luck on your journey and I hope this was informative to you. Thanks for reading!

But, “You don’t look sick”.

This statement use to really hurt me to my bone. The reason I personally allowed my body to get so sick was because I didn’t look sick. This is something I have endured my entire life. I have had pain issues and eventually did end up in a wheelchair during my childhood, but most of my pain issues were “idiopathic” and my fatigue was because of mono. I had no obvious deformity or growth in my body, but I was getting sicker and sicker despite medical attention, I continued not to take it seriously. Now I have the knowledge and experience on why you shouldn’t ignore your body and I hopea you will not do the same.

I thought the older you get the more pain you get, so everyone must feel this sh*tty all the time. Plot twist, you aren’t supposed to feel that much pain or THAT tired in your twenties. In our society we are taught to suck it up and keep on working. That’s how we get to extreme burnout and allow our bodies to get so sick. It’s okay to work hard, but your body has to be a healthy place to do so. As we get more and more tired, we eat easier to make and more unhealthy foods. We stop taking care of ourselves and go into fight mode. Our body thinks it’s in survival mode and our bodies to continue to get sicker. By doing so this allows our body functions to decrease or cease. So the whole “you don’t look sick thing” ignore it. You DON’T want to let your body get to that point of looking sick. Once your body is that sick your adrenals (stress hormone center) will be shot, your thyroid (another hormone regulator) will be shot and you will have 10x the amount of work to get your body back to “normal”, rather than listening to it in the first place.

You know your body better than any practicing professional. That being said is why you shouldn’t give up on feeling better. Find a doctor that will work with you and not give up on you. Find one that will look for the root cause and won’t continue to shove medication after medication into your body after months and months of no results.

I’m not anti-medications by any means. Personally since childhood I’ve been on more antibiotics than I can count just because it could help. Trust me when I say these medications are doing more harm than good if you don’t NEED them and are just being taken for the hope that they will work. A lot of medications are for the symptoms and not the cause. While the cause of your illness will probably continue and you may continue to get sicker. While medications are important if they help fix your illness or imbalance, if you aren’t seeing a change after the time your doctor said to give it, stop it. Of course do this while working with your doctor. Each medication takes time to work and wean off. Trust someone who’s been on more medications than most adults combined, being on a medication hoping it will help is terrible for your body. The more we put into our body unnecessarily the harder our kidneys and liver had to work to excrete them. Our gut is becoming leakier and making us sicker by leaking out toxins and waste our body couldn’t process. Our brain receptors are becoming flooded and not allowing our brain to work at the best potential. We are basically feeding into anxiety and depression because we are assisting in altering our brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).

If this is known science then why do doctors keep prescribing us medications repeatedly “hoping” to help us? Sadly that’s all they know and what they are taught. Western culture makes their money though pharmaceuticals, insurance and treating chronic illnesses. Herbs and natural medicine is normally not something that can be charged through insurance. I now know that Hollistic healing with food and natural medicine is very effective. There are countless of studies done that food and nutrition can help heal 90% of our illnesses and diseases. Yet we would rather continue to be lazy, sick and taking “magic pills” than to have a slight lifestyle change. It may sound brutal, but it’s the honest truth. If you told college me that I would have to give up half the food I eat daily I would have laughed. But if you told me I was going to struggle with pain, anxiety and chronic brain fog and fatigue would I have listened differently ? Who knows, but now I truly understand the importance of food nutrition and gut health and I hope you will take it serious too.

If you’ve ever had mono in your life (EBV) you may battle this reactivation of fatigue and should work with a practitioner who understands the virus to allow you to function a normal and healthy life. Check out my last post on this virus and check out these books which go into detail the importance of EBV and how it’s the underlying reason disease and illnesses are able to enter our body.

  • The Rain Barrel Effect: How a 6,000 Year Old Answer Holds the Secret to Finally Getting Well, Losing Weight & Feeling Alive Again!
  • The Epstein-Barr Virus Solution: The Hidden Undiagnosed Epidemic of a Virus Destroying Millions of Lives through Chronic Fatigue, Autoimmune Disorders and Cancer

You are not your illness, and there is hope. I hope that this mindset helps someone. I am unsure if years ago myself I would have been ready to listen. But if I help even one person avoid years of pain and countless medications and procedures, it’s worth it ❤️

Things I wish I knew going into dealing with a chronic illness

If you are suffering chronic pain, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and so forth, I feel you. I know how debilitating each day can be and you do your best anyway. I know how desperate for relief you are, and how you will try any medication or procedure for the hope of relief. After years of this, I want to share with you what I’ve learned and how to skip a few painful lessons on your own health journey.

The first and most important lesson is to get professional guidance!

I’m considered a medical professional but this isn’t medical advice, just my own experiences. Even though I have medical knowledge and thought I could do this on my own, I needed help. I went to specialty after specialty after realizing I needed help, but finding the right help is the next step. I have another blog post on all of the doctors I’ve rotated through if you need help deciding where to start. From both ends of the spectrum of western medicine to anything Holistic, a naturopath has been the most helpful for me.

Commit to your health as the #1 priority.

This one is hard. I know a lot of you are moms and have to work 40 hours a week to pay bills. But try your best to put yourself first. Let it be okay — the house will stay dirty and accept it’s not worth exhausting yourself more. Being a perfectionist with a chronic illness is hard, but you also learn what is a priority and what’s not.

You have to continue to put yourself first, even on hard days when you want to give up and let it all take its course. I would try something new that someone recommended or that I read and committed to, but it wouldn’t work. At the end of each trial I was still sick; I would say it’s in my head and I would give up, then repeat. Commit to your health. You owe it to yourself and your family, and you are worth it. Being run-down with brain fog and pain is not okay; no matter how many of your friends also suffer like this, it’s not normal. It may be a simple fix – as little as a diet or attitude change or as big as a chemical imbalance or infection. Either way, invest the money in a practitioner. It’s so helpful to have someone give you guidance rather than guessing yourself. Being let down time and time again only adds to the depression of feeling ill.

Stop letting what others thing about you matter.

Guess what — it doesn’t matter. You matter and your health matters. In a year, the opinions of others will mean nothing compared to having your mental and physical health. Yes, you have your tribe of people, and you NEED them or someone on this journey to support you, but at the end of the day, YOUR health mentally and physically is what is important. By letting yourself care about what other people think, you allow doubt and negativity in. You do you, and you’ll find yourself. As soon as I stopped caring about others’ judgements toward me is when I started reaching out to the right people and finding actual answers and seeing progress. Nothing is worse than thinking others assume you are a hypochondriac and it’s all in your head, but it’s your body and you are trying the best you can. You have to believe in yourself; you know your body the best.

Patience

This is the hardest one, the one I still struggle with. Especially if you’ve been struggling with something for a while and feel like you’ve tried everything, you have to give everything a few months, not days or weeks. This is the hard part because it takes time. But this is why it’s important to get the proper guidance. With the proper help, you minimize wasting time trying to tackle this all on your own. The more you fail and continue to suffer, the more fear for the future, depression, and anxiety is created. You have to believe in the process, but having help getting there is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s worth every dime to minimize the time it takes to heal yourself and get you to your best self.

Your food and environment are essential to your recovery.

It’s okay to eat out and enjoy yourself. You don’t have to go vegan or never eat your favorite food again, but you do have to be aware of proper nutrition and the toxins in the standard American’s diet. The food we feed ourselves and things we put in and on our bodies has been shown to harm us dramatically. Here’s an old post on how to live a chemical-free lifestyle. It’s hard at first, but it’s worth feeling better. This one is important and can be the hardest for a lot of people. Even before learning my blood nutrition results from my practitioner, I ate healthy. But sometimes what you think is healthy isn’t for you — another reason why it’s worth the time and money to have someone run these tests for you.

It’s so important to know what your gut and body actually need. I’ve written a previous post on the importance of avoiding preservatives and eating organic foods. When you feed your gut, you truly are feeding your health. The gut-brain connection is a proven yet ignored thing. Your diet can dramatically change your mentality and decrease inflammation in your body. By fixing our diet, we eliminate the cause of many “symptoms” that we are put on medications for. Eating well gives your body the fighting chance to work in synergy, to heal, and to provide us with the best health we can give ourselves. I know it sounds easier than it is, but start small. Small wins lead to big changes!

Your mindset is everything.

If you know me, you hear me preach about mindset and the importance of good energy and healing. You don’t have to be as spiritual as me, but your mind is truly a powerful thing. Meditation, yoga, gardening, etc. are all great relaxing tools and are needed to help your mind heal. Check out this old post on the importance of your parasympathetic nervous system and tips on staying grounded.

I’m not saying these steps are the all cure — but it could save you a lot of time and money by avoiding the months of medication trials, diets, and specialists.

My personal health journey has led me to a naturopath practitioner. She was able to connect all of my issues to Epstein-barr Virus (EBV). This virus is commonly known as “mono.” 90% of the population has had it and carries antibodies for it. Most people’s immune systems handle this fine. For others it creates havoc in the body, triggering gut issues, brain fog, pain, depression, and autoimmune issues. Your body fights itself, depleting the thyroid and adrenals, and your body continues to get sicker with no explanation. The research done on this is crazy — yet western medicine ignores this virus because as mentioned above, most people carry the antibodies and are fine. But there are a lot of chronically ill people out there, and the way we eat and live our lives these days trigger the illness to become more and more active, oxidizing and depleting our bodies. Feel free to contact me because I would love to help you heal as food is honestly the best way to do so with any inflammatory virus.

Thanks for reading and I hope you start to feel better soon. I can’t wait to post about my healing journey and all its success and hear about others! Stay positive and keep fighting; you’re worth it ❣️

Food is medicine

Food is medicine. By both avoiding and adding certain foods into our diet, we are able to nourish our bodies. The foods that we feed ourselves provide us with antioxidants, nutrients, and the fuel needed for our bodies to heal and function properly. It’s a simple science, yet we would all rather go for the quick fix. A quick fix can be a processed meal a few times a day to another medication that may help mask the symptoms you’re showing.

Our body is constantly warning us when something is off balance with our “symptoms.” Anxiety, pain, skin inflammation, hormonal issues, and so forth pop up. All of these things are heavily treated by medications to hide our unknown imbalances. Your body is giving you a warning signal and screaming for help! You may need to work on your gut, your diet, your posture, your breathing, etc.

This all sounds so simple, but how many of us actually focus on all of these as a priority? Without finding the root cause, you continue to mask the issue, allowing your body to get sicker and allowing system after system in your body to compensate. The longer you mask and suppress the symptoms, the sicker you become.

After years of suffering from chronic pain and following elimination diet after diet, I finally have hope. Having your food antibodies tested is something I had never even heard of until working with a naturopath. Contact me for more information as I have learned of easier ways to get these tested. From my learned experiences, chronic unsolved issues or the unknown anomaly is actually a bigger problem and requires more than a quick fix. I’m stubborn and work in the healthcare field and thought I could “figure this out” on my own… I couldn’t. Lucky for you, I now have the knowledge to help you find the right help and point you in the right direction.

The body is complex and there are way too many variables that can affect your health. There are plenty of elimination diets and supplements out there to trial. You may find one that works, or you may not. After a few failed ones, you’ll get frustrated, or you may find help but it might only be temporary. Trust me when I say save yourself the time and the money by doing it under professional guidance. Let someone help you connect the dots and give you the chance of finding relief.

They make tests (beyond a simple food allergy test) that can see what your body is sensitive to or causing inflammation. This allows you to be on an elimination diet that fits your body’s results. There are tests that show your sensitivities to common triggers beyond food and look into environmental triggers. The truth is that 90% of the population carry most viruses and allergens, but sometimes it effects certain people harder than others. Having the right help to analyze your blood and gut nutrition allows these professionals (may it be a naturopath, functional nutritionist, etc.) to develop a dietary plan on top of the right herbs and supplements to combat any other ailments that you may be fighting. If your body has been suffering for a long time, it has been compensating for awhile and you may have multiple body functions to fix.

Most people who are reading this are tired of being so chronically ill and are in the same boat that I was. Why suffer every single day if you can simply make a lifestyle change? Sadly, most people would rather suffer with chronic fatigue and pain than cut out foods they eat daily or drinking at parties. I’m not saying you have to cut out alcohol or your favorite food, but in my case, it was my favorite foods that my body needed a break from. Notice how I said a break. This doesn’t mean your favorite foods, alcohol, etc. are gone forever. A temporary separation is worth feeling like a human again though, isn’t it?

The body is very intertwined. Brain and gut connections are becoming more known and important to society. What’s scary is that this isn’t new ground-breaking information. These are all known facts, but we rather suppress and ignore them and continue to live unhealthy lives. Our food can affect our brain chemicals which in turn affect our moods, emotions, skin, hormones… everything.

I’m not fully healed, but I’m finally on the healing journey. This journey is as much mental as it is physical. I thought I was eating healthy, but the healthy options I was eating daily were actually feeding my “gut bugs” and in turn feeding my illnesses. Just because something is a healthier option doesn’t mean it’s the right option for you. After years of this chronic fight and misdiagnoses, I’m beyond thankful to have answers and even happier that it’s a simple diet change. It won’t be days but within time, my body’s systems will get stronger one by one, and I’ll be able to be live my life authentically and pain-free.

Don’t be stubborn; eat food that’s good for your body. Heal yourself starting from within. Living in pain isn’t the answer, but your food is.