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.

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!

Authenticity

Be yourself and be PROUD of who you are ❤️

I am sure people think I share too much about my life on social media. But I try to be authentic so others have the courage to do so. So we can share our love for similar likes and talents. ​So I can support other local businesses who created something from a small spark of hope and joy, because it’s something that is important to them and makes them happy. It’s important to do stuff for YOU, not for what you think others will like.

I feel like the word authentic has been trending and for once I am okay with a trend. I am happy that self love, self worth and being YOU is actually embraced. It shouldn’t be a trend but instead something we are taught young. Our parents used to tell us to be ourselves and we didn’t need all that make up, but we didn’t listen. These are the peoples judgements we should care the most about but unfortunately it’s usually the opposite. I use to care SO much what others thought. I would shape my look and friends to be who I thought would make me happy. Resulting in not having great friends because I wasn’t being true to them or myself. When I stopped caring what others thought and dressed how I liked, did what I enjoyed and allowed my family and friends to be heard, this is when I found true joy.

Being authentic should not be a trend, but taught to be the “new cool”. Social media has definitely made this hard. But remember people post the highlights mainly, and are posing for that picture. Candid pictures are few and far in between on my feed these days .

Be proud of that messy bun, sleep deprived look. No need to pretend to be anything more than you 🦋

Pantry Cleanout

Here is a list of my pantry “staples” for after you complete this cleanout!

A lot of us have been stuck inside our homes more than planned this winter due to the pandemic. Take advantage of the time at home by focusing on a healthier you! Here are five tips to help ditch processed foods and move toward a more whole-food diet. Don’t stress about being perfect, as always baby steps! Be sure to check out my posts on a cleaner healthier home and eating organically.

#1 Use It or Lose It!

We all have that pantry or fridge filled with salad dressings and condiments. Start by looking at the expiration dates and go from there. Use the rest of this list to decide whether toss it. If it has unhealthy oils (look at the #2) or unrecognizable ingredients (probably artificial ingredients, preservatives or chemicals) and isn’t a main staple in your house, trash it. If it is a staple, look for a healthier brand alternative! Check out my gluten or dairy post for swaps, or reach out!

#2 Examine Your Fats

Most people are “fat phobic” so they use fat-free options which are actually worse for our bodies. The alternatives are not natural and make more work for our body to process. A lot of these oils are rancid and only allow for more oxidative stress to occur which results in increased inflammation in our body. So do yourself a favor: toss those vegetable oils and use some good quality grass-fed butter!

Where to start:

  • Toss out fats that are unhealthy for you! These include any generic vegetable oils (canola, safflower, sunflower, soybean, corn, cottonseed, peanut).
  • Replace with tallow, lard, ghee, duck fat, coconut oil, avocado oil, grass fed butter, and olive oils. I personally love cooking with ghee!
  • Toss anything that says “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” as these are trans fat.

#3 “Search Out” Sugar

Most of us know sugar is not needed in our diets, but let’s face it: it’s delicious! There are better and healthier options to enjoy your baked goods and sweet fixes. You don’t have to be perfect; enjoy that cake or ice cream when warranted. Real sugar is ALWAYS better than an artificial or zero calorie alternatives which are unnatural and require our body to work harder to process as well as unwanted side effects such as digestive and hormonal symptoms.

Where to start:

  • Toss anything with high fructose corn syrup, artificial sugars, or bleached and altered sugars.
  • Here are the most common artificial and sugar alcohol sugars to avoid:
    • Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet). It’s mostly used to sweeten diet soft drinks.
    • Saccharin (Sweet’N Low, Sugar Twin). It’s used in many diet foods and drinks.
    • Sugar Alcohols (Erythritol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol)
    • Saccharin (brand names: Sweet ‘N Low® and Sugar Twin®
    • Sucralose (Splenda). It’s in many diet foods and drinks.
  • Chose unprocessed cane sugar such as raw turbinado, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and raw honey (my fav). Your body needs sugar to function, everything in moderation!

#4 Ditch the Chemicals

If you have followed my other posts, you are probably aware that this is a fav subject of mine. The chemicals found not only in our foods but also in household items are extremely disruptive to our bodies. Once you become educated on what is in the food we eat and what we use to clean our homes, it isn’t a surprise that chronic illness and poor health continues to climb. For the purpose of the pantry cleanout, we can simply say that fake ingredients can cause direct damage to our endocrine, digestive, cardiovascular, immune, and neurological systems while offering no nutritional benefit. As a result, they have no place in our homes or on our plates.

Where to start:

  • Look for ingredients such as food dyes, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, MSG (which has many names), artificial flavorings, and thickening agents.
  • If you don’t recognize the ingredient or it is an acronym, chances are that it’s processed and our body can’t recognize or use it either.
  • Fortified and enriched foods. Unfortunately, many fortified or enriched foods are heavily processed and packaged making it harder to process. These enrichment is added because they often come with high sodium, fat, and sugar content which depletes nutrients!
  • I know this is an expensive step, so start small! Swap out your pantry staples such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, and frequently eaten snacks for healthier ones and go from there. That is where most cheap oils and chemicals are hidden.

#5 Replace Refined Grains

A lot of people suffering chronically have issues with grains. Grains are not meant to be eaten with every meal and snack despite the food pyramid recommendation of whole grain servings a day. Gluten can be very inflammatory in our bodies and unfortunately grains are not the same as they were when our ancestors ate them. If you can tolerate grains, eat them in the whole form and soak them, if applicable. If you are just trying to live a healthier lifestyle and can tolerate grains, don’t beat yourself up for the pizza or cake. Live your life but know how to make smart choices!

  • Bleached or enriched flours are not whole grains. If you tolerate grains, try flours in their whole or sprouted form.
  • Use flour alternatives for those who cannot tolerate grains (such as coconut, cassava, tigernut–my fav flour).
  • Soak your grains (click for a detailed guide) It removes something called Phytic Acid which aids with digestion of grains and helps the absorption of nutrients. Print this out and put it on your fridge for future

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.

Supplements: Real Food vs. Supplementation

How do you choose where to buy and what supplement to get?

Let’s start out by saying that you should aim to get all nutrients from your diet. Using supplements should not be a long-term fix. They are great while you are healing or fighting an illness, if your diet lacks certain nutrients (vegetarians or vegans), or if you need help stabilizing your blood levels. You should always find out the root cause of the low levels you are supplementing for. Supplementation will help you feel better but can mask a bigger problem, such as an absorption or a diet issue.

You can find a supplement for just about anything. You might purchase a vitamin or herb supplement alone, or as a combination (such as a multivitamin). Not only are there a ton of combination choices, there are a TON of brands and even different forms of supplements (pills, powders, liquids).

To make it even more confusing, supplements are not FDA regulated. This basically means that it is the company’s responsibility to make sure its products are made at a safe dose and can deliver that dose to the consumer. This leads to potency and quality issues with many supplements. Most of the values are listed at the time of manufacturing or before it leaves the facility. After this, it is up to the company to decide how the supplements are transported and stored.

The scarier part is many supplements have fillers and chemicals in them. The term “natural” does not mean it’s safe or good for you (this goes for food also). So you can be secretly ingesting drugs, chemicals, or metals. For this reason, I splurge for the higher-quality supplements that I know were handled properly and/or refrigerated. Otherwise it’s kinda a Vegas scenario, and you are just guessing and hoping that not all the nutrients are oxidized or rancid. Sadly, most of our supplements have either issue, and you are just buying a vegetable capsule with little nutrition value.

To avoid bad supplements filled with unknown fillers and chemicals, I suggest buying your supplements from a company that receives their products directly from the manufacturer and transfers them properly. I buy all of my supplements from Emerson’s Wellevate or Fullscript because of their reputation and known quality. Emerson’s Gold Partner brands test every lot of every ingredient in the products they manufacture, far exceeding FDA requirements. Check out the Supplement tab for more info about ordering from these sites.

After reading, I hope you choose a diet change rather than strictly supplementation use. When I was my “sickest,” I was on over 15 supplements under medical guidance. Supplements are great for helping your body function properly at a cellular level, but it isn’t the magic answer. I may have seen slight changes in sleep or mood, but no drastic change until I modified my diet and healed my gut. As always please consult your medical provider before adding in new supplements as they can be toxic or interact with medications.

Why are you looking for supplements?

Your “why” for looking into supplements is the first question. Are you having issues, or are you looking for health benefits that you don’t get by diet?

Many nutrients can be consumed from a good diet. Unfortunately, according to the CDC, only 1 out of 10 adults meet the daily requirement of fruit and vegetable consumption.

On top of our lack of consuming fruit and veggies, most Americans suffer absorption issues because of diet and medication use. If you are not absorbing your food properly, no amount of food and/or supplements will help. If this is the case, you will likely end up deficient in something.

People are either aware of a deficiency or have a hunch they are deficient in something they can get through supplementation. We tend to rely on supplements over the real food source. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that your nutritional needs should be met primarily through your diet, and supplements are just that… supplementary to your diet.

Who needs supplements?

Supplements are for those who cannot get all of the required nutrients through diet. A lot of children (with increasing picky eaters), vegetarians/vegans, and elderly fall in this category. Most people with health issues end up on a ton of supplements because they have misdiagnosed absorption issues.

Generally speaking, if you’re healthy and eat a wide variety of foods — fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish — you likely don’t need supplements. The simple fact is that supplements do not provide the same nutrition, fiber, or antioxidants as real food.

My favorite supplement recommendations

I really believe in food first. Unfortunately our diets have become high in Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and are in most of the trending health foods. We need to pay attention to out fat and omega ratios. As well as increasing quality of our foods adding in variety is important to support a healthy microbiome. Although this should be the goal for each of us to live a healthy life! This being said, I have my “go to” favorites to ensure our cells are functioning properly. Without all the proper nutrients and amino acids, our cells can’t do their jobs properly to provide us energy and detoxification. Here is my list of favorite supplements.

Tips to get more nutrients without supplementation:

  • Chew your food 20-30 times to allow for proper digestion and absorption
  • Eat grass fed and pasture fed animal proteins (meat, eggs, dairy) for more higher quality minerals and omega ratios
  • Limit PUFA’s in your diet that cause inflammation
  • Add in collagen and gelatin to your diet (coffee and soups are an easy way to sneak these in)
  • Buy the rainbow at the store and cook your vegetables and fruits while your gut is healing to absorb nutrients more readily.

Buyer beware facts from Harvard (because you l=will believe there data over my words).

  • Beware of extravagant claims! If it sounds too good to be true… it usually is. Also keep in mind: just because a celebrity endorses it does not make it a safe product!
  • Beware of the idea that if a little is good, more is better. Many can lead to more issues and toxicities.
  • Beware of interactions between supplements and medications. Always tell your doctors and pharmacists about any supplements and herbal medications you plan to take, and ask about the risk of potential interactions with your prescription and over-the-counter medications.
  • Beware of meaningless terms. The list includes “all-natural,” “antioxidant-rich,” “clinically proven,” “anti-aging,” and other vague but seductive claims that a product will promote heart health, prostate health, sexual prowess, energy, weight loss, fat loss, muscle power, and the like.
I hope this was helpful! Feel free to reach out to me for recommendations but always speak to your doctor before starting anything new. Just as we are not all the same, not all supplements are the same. It’s important to buy quality products if you are going to supplement…but remember your diet should always be the first stop to increase your bodies needs.

Elimination Diets

When do you use an elimination diet and why?

Elimination diets are usually people’s last resort, but 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 had 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 later able to add in foods they were sensitive to.

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 think, “I 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 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 sight, out of mind” will be beneficial when you are tempted to cheat or get 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 more easily realize what triggers you when you reintroduce 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 to?

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 its 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 without knowing. The most common sensitives due to the inflammatory process in the gut can be linked to non pasture raised eggs, conventional dairy, gluten, processed sugar, and soy. I have a separate blog post on a leaky gut and cover the science of why these foods cause inflammation in the body. To summarize, our gut becomes “leaky” as our body develops inflammation, which ultimately results in foods not being properly absorbed and toxins leaking into the body, causing chronic inflammation and food sensitivities to inflammatory foods.

To personalize your elimination diet, a professional should look at where you are stuggling. You can have your food antibodies tested, but I don’t like to start here. You can go through a doctor or purchase a kit and do this at home via finger stick or hair sample. Contact me for my recommendations; there are a ton of options. Some PCP’s can run these under insurance,

There are two primary antibodies you can have tested: IgE and IgG. The IgE antibody test measures for actual allergies, and in regards to elimination diets, it would be for food allergies. You are probably aware if you are having an actual allergic reaction (hives, itching, rashes) to foods, but it never hurts to test to rule out allergens. The IgG antibody test shows what your body is sensitive to. 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: eggs, dairy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and soy. Caffeine, foods high in histamine or tyramine, and certain additives like MSG and preservatives can also cause inflammation in the body on top of these common allergens. If we don’t eat a varied diet, we are allowing inflammation to occur, specifically if we eat one of these commonly triggering foods often.

When you do an elimination diet, you eliminate all triggers of the diet for a given amount of time (6-8 weeks is best practice) and then each week, you slowly reintroduce one food back into your diet. Doing this properly can take a lot of time and is why simply getting your food antibodies tested may be a good idea.

Yet this is not necessary and can always be done after trying a food diary and some trial with eliminating common foods to identify intolerances. The easiest way to start is by eating your normal diet and recording how you feel. You can then choose what to test 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 affects you mentally and digestion-wise.

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

Food diaries

So now, you’ve decided on the food(s) that you are going to eliminate. Regardless of whatever led you to your choice of food group — pure curiosity to see how you feel, a hunch from noticing symptoms after eating certain foods or from an actual antibody test — you need to keep a food diary to track your symptoms. 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 at least 6-8 weeks until you add foods back in. This will allow you to properly track your food sensitives and symptoms. I was amazed at what caused my brain fog and anxiety after eating. I was sensitive (without knowing) to so many things I ate daily.

Reintroducing Foods

You should reintroduce foods slowly (even though I know you are dying to add in everything at once). You should do this by adding and monitoring one food group (example: eggs) for a few times a week. Remember to only add one food back into your diet at a time. Reactions can occur anywhere from 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.

1. Find the right time to reintroduce foods

Firstly start introducing foods when you are in a good place mentally, with some space in your schedule. When your digestion is calm you feel relaxed is a good time, rather than when you’re trying to move house, just about to go on holiday or going through redundancy. 

2. Be aware some reaction to food reintroduction is normal

I completely understand you might have some anxiety about this process, but it’s really helpful to remember that there may be a mild increase in digestive symptoms when you start changing your diet.

When we change our diet we can sometimes feel a bit of gurgling in the stomach, or a bit more gas escaping from our bodies. This can be down to

  • the gut microbes feasting on the fibre they have missed,
  • some ‘bad’ bacteria dying off,
  • or your body remembering how to digest certain foods again. 

Symptoms like bloating or gas doesn’t always mean it’s not working or that you should stop the trial. You will need to work out what is mild discomfort, what can you tolerate, and what is too much

I’d always recommend listening to your body, and stopping the process if it feels too uncomfortable. (And of course if you have a known allergy you shouldn’t eat those foods at all unless under the supervision of a medical professional)

3. Start low and slow

Take very small increases in foods to begin with, at a pace you feel comfortable with. Start with very small amounts of your chosen food and build up. For example 1/2 cup of milk on day one, 3/4 on day two and so forth. Do not eat cheese, milk and icecream all on the first day- you will react!

4. Focus on eating properly

During the food reintroduction phase you may find it helpful to focus on the basics of eating again.  This could include

  • chewing your food really well
  • sitting upright at a table
  • getting into a relaxed state before you eat by deep breathing. 

A little science behind how we become sensitive to foods

Every time we eat something, it comes with its own bacteria and it helps feed our gut microbiome. Our gut has its 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 result 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, conventional 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 later add in foods you reacted to, at least 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 by 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