GI Tract Health Guru Discusses #1 Gut Dysfunction

gi tract

Here we will discuss the first of five most common gut dysfunctions that people often face when it comes to the health of their gi tract; digestion and absorption. The full list which I will go into depth with in future articles includes:

  1. Digestion and absorption
  2. Intestinal permeability
  3. Gut microbiota and dysbiosis
  4. Inflammation and immunity
  5. The nervous system

The amount of energy that we harvest from the food we eat is largely determined by the bugs in our gut. It’s important to note that the bugs rely on fibre. Therefore without fibre they will starve. Thus, a diversity of food is needed in order to keep our microbiome healthy in your gi tract. In other words, the wider the variety of foods we eat, the more strains of bacteria we will find in our gut.

Unfortunately, when the gut is not working optimally, a wide array of symptoms can occur. These symptoms include:

  • Gas, cramping and bloating
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Inflammation
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Food Cravings
  • Depression or poor mood
  • Frequent infections
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Insomnia

So, let’s get started and dive into the first issue affecting the health of our gi tract.

1. DIGESTION AND ABSORPTION

First, on a mechanical level improper breakdown of food can happen through:

  • Mastication (chewing)
  • Lack of bile, enzymes and acids

This may be a cause of malabsorption and poor nutrient assimilation. So, as insignificant as this step may sound;

“Chewing your food properly actually plays a vital role in easing the rest of the digestive process.”

Therefore, it is important to avoid eating when in a rush or stressed.  Take time and chew methodically to ensure proper breakdown of food can occur in your gi tract.

Next, adequate levels of stomach acid and enzymes are required for optimal food breakdown. The stomach needs to be acidic to break down protein. Therefore, an optimal pH of 1.5-3 is needed in order to do it’s work and activate pepsin (among other enzymes).

If our stomachs aren’t sufficiently acidic, we can’t digest protein properly. As such, we won’t be able to access many of the minerals in our food and properly trigger vitally important functions during later stages of the digestive process.

The Role Of HCL

The secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCL) is an absolutely essential part of the digestive puzzle. Furthermore, this highly acidic environment is our body’s first line of defense against foodborne pathogens.

As hard as it is to believe with the heavy promotion of antacids and acid-blockers, most people with heartburn often have low acidity (hypo-chlorhydric), not too much acidity (hyper-chlorhydric).

Bottom line, if you have any kind of digestive dysfunction, the level of HCL needs to be addressed or you won’t get anywhere with your gut healing.

Signs You Have Low Stomach Acid (And What That Means) with Dr. Lori Arnold

Signs And Symptoms Of Hypochlorhydria

  • Bloating or belching right after a meal
  • Sense of fullness after eating
  • Feeling like food sits in the stomach
  • Itching around the rectum
  • Weak, peeling or cracked fingernails
  • Acne
  • Undigested food in stool
  • Dilated blood vessels in face (rosacea)
  • Iron deficiency
  • Chronic intestinal infections
  • Food allergies or sensitivities

If some of these symptoms sound familiar, there is a good chance that you are not producing optimal levels of stomach acids.

Causes Of Hypochlorhydria

  • Stress
  • Poor diet
  • Consuming too little calories
  • Usage of PPI medication (proton pump inhibitors)
  • H2 blockers (also called H2 antagonists)
  • Antacids used for acid reflux and ulcers
  • H. Pylori bacterial infection

Antacids have also been shown to inhibit the absorption of many essential nutrients. This can include:

  • Zinc
  • Calcium
  • B12
  • Iron

Intrinsic factor (which is a glycoprotein produced by the stomach cells) is necessary for the absorption of vitamin B12. However, the body can develop antibodies to the intrinsic factor which can lead to the diagnosis of pernicious anemia. So be sure to follow up with a health care practitioner if you are concerned.

Hypochlorhydria Consequences

  • B12 deficiencies
  • Dysbiosis (lack of good gut bacteria)
  • Chronic Candida Infections
  • Mineral deficiencies (like calcium, zinc, manganese)
  • Small Intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Increased risk for asthma, celiac disease, diabetes, eczema, gallbladder disease, osteoporosis, psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid dysregulation

Do You Have Acid Reflux or GERD?

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

GERD is a digestive disorder that affects the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). The ring of muscle between the esophagus and stomach, creating a reflux of stomach acids into the esophagus. Also causing a burning sensation.

Did you Know?

20% of adults in the U.S. experience symptoms of heartburn weekly. 60% of the population experience it annually.

Although, it is quite common during pregnancy, in most cases it is related to dietary choices. In fact, studies also show that obesity plays a role in the onset of its symptoms. Therefore, in most cases, GERD can be relieved through diet and lifestyle changes.

Relief Tips For GERD

  1. Avoid wine, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes and peppermint. Also avoid onion, garlic, high fat meals and carbonations.
  2. Eating smaller portions.
  3. Weight loss.
  4. Quit smoking.
  5. Elevate your head in bed.
  6. Sleeping on left side (this can prevent stomach content being pushed into the esophagus).
  7. Not eating 3 hours prior to bed.
  8. Follow a low carb diet.
  9. Supplement with GABA, melatonin and licorice root extract. Also try aloe vera, slippery elm, and zinc-l-carnosine.
pancreatic enzymes

Pancreatic Enzyme Deficiency

The pancreas is most commonly known for its role in blood sugar regulation through its secretion of insulin. But the pancreas also secretes specific enzymes to break down fats, protein and carbohydrates which included:

  1. LIPASE – Lipase works with bile from the liver to break down fat molecules so they can be absorbed and used by the body.
  2. PROTEASE – Proteases break down proteins. They help keep the intestine free of parasites such as bacteria, yeast and protozoa.
  3. AMYLASE – Amylase breaks down carbohydrates (starch) into sugars which are more easily absorbed by the body. This enzyme is also found in saliva.

Causes For Enzyme Deficiencies

  • Stress
  • Toxicity
  • Nutritional insufficiency
  • Damaged gut microvilli
  • Free radical oxidation
  • PH imbalance

This can result in:

  • Indigestion/fullness 2-4 hours after meal
  • Bloating or flatulence 2-4 hours after meal
  • Undigested food in the stool
  • Fatty stool
  • Glucose intolerance
  • Malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies
  • Slow transit time (no your bus is not late, it means the time it takes for your food to go from entrance to exit)
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Increased risk for chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis, diabetes, celiac disease and gastric ulcers. Also, autoimmune conditions, Crohn’s disease, anemia, bone loss and even neurological problems

Today, there are several natural alternatives that stimulate enzyme functions. Therefore, do your research when looking to restore proper enzyme levels before resorting to medication.

Effective Digestive Spices And Herbs Aids

  • Ginger
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Ajowan
  • Piperine
  • Curcumin

Also, if you decide to take a natural supplement, look for ones that have lipase, protease and amylase. Vegetarian formulas are now available for you gi tract.

bile acids and salts

Bile Acids And Salts In Your GI Tract

Bile is a fluid produced by the liver and concentrated in the gallbladder. It serves to digest lipids in food and increases the absorption of fats and fat- soluble vitamins. Bile salts are made up of sodium salts of different acids manufactured in the liver. These are derived from cholesterol.

Therefore, in order to understand what scientists mean when they refer to bile salts, it is necessary to know a little chemistry.

An Explanation Of Acids, Bases And PH

I know, you thought you were done with biochemistry! But bare with me. When a base encounter an acid, a neutralizing reaction occurs. This reaction produces water and a chemical salt. It is this reaction that produced bile salts in the liver.

When bile salts are secreted into the lumen of the intestine, fecal bacteria and probiotics metabolize:

  • Primary bile acids
  • Cholic acid (CA)
  • Chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA)

Into secondary bile acids:

  • Deoxycholic acid (DCA)
  • Lithocholic (LCA)

Fiber plays an important role in getting rid of harmful toxins, cholesterol and fat as it forms a tight bond with the bile in the intestine. Soluble fibers cannot be absorbed by the intestinal wall, nor can the bile attach to it.

This fiber-bound bile ultimately leaves the body in a bowel movement with its load of toxins, cholesterol and fat in tow. Those who had their gallbladder removed can face bile salt insufficiency. Thus, may benefit from taking a bile salt supplement or a digestive enzyme supplement containing bile salts.

Signs And Symptoms Of Bile Salt Insufficiency

  • Sour or bitter metallic taste in the mouth, especially in the morning.
  • Incomplete digestion and absorption of fats.
  • Chronic diarrhea, which can be caused by obstruction (stones), liver toxicity, gallbladder disease and cholecystokinin (CCK) deficiency. Also, bacterial overgrowth and certain medications can cause this result.

Major risk factors for the development of gallstones are broken down into the 4-F’s:

  1. Fair
  2. Female
  3. Fat
  4. Fertile

Foods And Supplements That Stimulate Bile Production

  • Radishes
  • Dandelion
  • Bitter greens
  • Artichoke
  • Taurine supplement
  • Limonene

What’s Coming Up!

Make sure to stay tuned for my next article on Intestinal permeability. AKA ‘leaky gut‘ syndrome.

Did you know leaky gut can manifest as many different ailments? This makes the diagnosis a challenge for health care practitioners. As such, many doctors don’t seek the root cause of illness but simply treat the symptoms. Learn why you need to take a different approach and what you need to do when searching for a solution.

Alimentary Canal Organs And Their Role In Digestion

Alimentary Canal Organs

So, I know what you might be thinking, why in the world do I need to know about alimentary canal organs and how my digestion works? Well, it is YOUR body! Shouldn’t you know what happens to the food you put in your mouth? Furthermore how it’s processed by your body?

The Digestive Process - University of Michigan Health System

Alimentary Canal Organs And The Digestive Process

The process of digestion starts in the mouth and buccal cavity. This is where large pieces of food are broken down mechanically by your teeth. Here, saliva is secreted by the salivary glands which are located on the lower jaw, between the tongue and teeth.

Saliva softens the food, making it easier for ingestion. It also helps break down starches to sugar. Once the swallowed food passes into the esophagus, the food is moved down the digestive tract by peristaltic muscular movements into the stomach.

Next, the food mixes mucus and stomach acids, secreted by the inner lining of the stomach. This step is responsible for killing bacteria in the food and breaking down proteins and carbs into simpler substances and usually takes an average of two hours.

The broken-down substance then continues through the digestive tract where it enters the small intestine.

function of small intestine

Function Of Small Intestine

Your small intestine are a highly coiled structure that stretches about 20 feet long and is divided in 3 parts:

As it receives food from the stomach, digestive enzymes, such as bile produced by the liver, breaks down fats. At the same time, pancreatic juices produced by the pancreas, break down proteins and carbohydrates.

The inner wall of the small intestine is covered by hair-like organisms (microvilli) that help food be absorbed which takes an average of 3 hours. Next, undigested food enters the large intestine.

Function Of Large Intestine

Spanning about 5 feet in length, the large intestine contains 3 parts:

Food generally spends around 19 hours in the large intestine—far longer than in the small intestines! There, the food mixes with mucus and bacteria that live in the large intestine to begin the formation of fecal matter.

function of the colon

Function Of The Colon

Another important step takes place in your colon as it absorbs most of the water and remaining vitamins and minerals. The 4 sections of your colon include:

  • Ascending
  • Transverse
  • Descending
  • Sigmoid

Furthermore, the bacteria present in your colon are responsible for producing some of the vitamin B’s and K which turn unabsorbed carbs into:

  • Methane gas
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Hydrogen

In addition, the large intestine flora is responsible to ferment soluble fibers. Producing approximately 20 to 30 grams per day of the short-chained fatty-acids (SCFA):

With a ratio of 3:1:1, 95% can be absorbed and the remaining 5% excreted. In fact, it is estimated that about 5% – 10% of total body energy comes from SCFA’s.

Lastly, the fecal matter reaches the rectum and triggers what is called, ‘the defecation reflex’. In other words, the urge to go the bathroom. It is here where the fecal matter exits by the anus and what we commonly refer to as a bowel movement.

So there we go, the complete role of alimentary canal organs and the digestive process, from top to bottom!

For more information be sure to click on the following links:

What Is Gut Microbiome?

gut microbiome

In this article we’re going to explain what exactly is the gut microbiome.  However, before we do let’s dive into how to the gut functions.  When you think about the gut, you might just think of it as part of your “digestive factory” processing the food you ingest. However, this is only a small fraction of what it and your digestive system are responsible for.

healthy gut

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The gastrointestinal tract, also called GI tract for short, is an organ system. It takes the food we eat, digests it to extract and absorb energy and nutrients, and then excretes the remaining waste as feces and urine.

In addition, it acts as a moderator for various important bodily functions. It is quite literally the “core” of our well-being. From immune cells to neurotransmitters. A properly functioning GI tract allows our health to thrive. However, in the same sense, an improperly functioning gut can cause a variety of illnesses and health conditions.

gut health

The Nervous System And Your Gut Microbiome

Contrary to popular belief, your gut actually possesses its own ‘nervous system’. Comprised of its own neurons and ability to produce neurotransmitters. This is called your enteric nervous system, which has been said to function independently of your central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Yes, that’s right, your gut quite literally has the means to act as a second brain!

The brain and the gut communicate via two pathways. Neural communications which include the vagus parasympathetic system and systemic communication which include the HPA axis, neurotransmitters, bacterial metabolites, and cytokines.

We have known for a long time that the vagus nerve plays a significant role in the
communication between the two organs. However, the importance of the systemic communication between the two have been also reinforced. In fact, evidence exists that the brain and gut still continue to communicate even when the vagus nerve is severed.

While many believe that the brain is the primary organ in charge of information transmission to the gut, your enteric nervous system actually sends far more information to the brain than it received from it. This reinforces the importance of gut health even further as research now shows that problems in your gut can have a direct impact on mental health.

Click here to read, The Brain In Your Gut .

10 tips for gut health

Gut Feelings

At some point you have probably heard someone say, “I had a gut feeling.” Well, recent research shows that there might be some truth behind this saying. Those butterflies in your stomach actually have a direct correlation with thoughts, emotions and moods.

Although we are not entirely sure how the link between the gut and our mental wellbeing functions, we know that certain neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) are largely mediated through the good bacteria found in the gut.

As a matter of fact, the gut produces a large quantity of the body’s neurotransmitters! In addition, it also possesses two thirds of the body’s immune tissue, has greater metabolic activity than the liver, and possesses ten times more microbialm cells than human cells!

It also possesses a genome (genetic material) 100 times larger than the human genome. Your body is literally filled with bacteria. Before you freak out—rest assured this is a good thing.

Click here to read, 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health .

Gut Microbiome And The Benefits Of Bacteria

These tiny microorganisms that make up your gut microbiome have an enormous impact on our overall health. Around 100 trillion bacteria live in the gut and provide important benefits such as;

  • Helping you detoxify from the toxins you are exposed to
  • Balancing the nervous system by serving as a source of neurotransmitters
  • Optimizing immune function
  • Absorbing vital nutrients

Most of the time, when we experience problems in these areas, we are quick to blame genetics or age, not realizing how our lifestyles play a big role in our gut health. This ultimately determines the functioning of many of the other systems as mentioned above.

Studies show that a whopping 70% of Americans have digestive related symptoms and diseases. The underlying causes of said gut-related diseases can be rooted back to;

  • Excess toxins
  • Allergens found in food including mold, pollens, and chemicals
  • Microbes such as ticks, yeast and parasites
  • Physical and psychological stress
  • Poor diet and antibiotic overuse

In fact, 40% of all adults and 70% of all children in the U.S. take one or more courses of
antibiotics every year, which wreaks havoc on their gut health and leaves them susceptible to other issues.

For further information click here to read, Gut Problems? 7 Key Steps For Healthy Digestion .

5 Ways to Keep Your Brain Healthy

Brain function

Brain function and brain health has become a popular subject in the last decade.  This is likely due to the noticeable rise in neurodegenerative disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s.   As such, people’s interest in taking control of their cognitive health has also increased.

Brain health has also become a widely popular topic in the world of sports and recreation. Since concussions are now recognized to have significant short and long term impact on injured players.

The fact is, unless you have neurodegenerative disorders in your family or have experienced a head injury, you probably won’t start thinking about your brain’s health until you start noticing symptoms such as;

Here’s the thing, the longer you wait to take action, the worse the problem can become.

You really should start thinking about your brain’s health today!  Look at taking preventative measures rather than waiting for signs of cognitive decline to appear.

So, how exactly do you keep your brain healthy? There are many simple ways to improve brain function and keep your mind sharp. Some of which you may already be doing!

Ways To Keep Your Brain Healthy

5 Tips To Help Keep Your Brain Function In Tip-Top Shape

1. Exercise Daily

Exercise has a whole host of benefits for your mental and physical health. Endorphins released during exercise work wonders warding off depression and bolstering the immune system.

Physical fitness also has been shown to increase mental sharpness as people age. Especially past the age of 40. Daily exercise helps maintain acuity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for judgement and decision making.

2. Try To Go Keto!

Yes, the foods we eat do have an impact on our mental and cognitive health. Research shows that consuming a diet high in healthy fats and low in carbohydrates (known as a ketogenic diet) helps promote brain health by pushing your body into a fat-burning state, creating what we call ketones as a by-product.

Ketones are a very efficient and sustainable source of fuel for the body and the brain. Burning mainly sugar (carbs) as fuel creates inflammation in the body and the brain while ketones are said to be a much “cleaner” fuel. A keto-adapted individual will experience less brain fog, less memory trouble and better focus.

Click here to read, “Keto For Dummies – Beginners Guide For Keto”.

3. Get Enough Sleep

The fog of exhaustion will cloud your mental ability. Our brains store daily memories while we sleep. You need rest in order to remember even mundane details of daily life. You might even consider taking a short nap after learning something new or important, to help store it in your long-term memory.

Sleeping less than six hours a night has been shown to decrease mental sharpness even after one night. I am sure if you have young kids, you know exactly what I am talking about. What’s more, good quality sleep has also been shown to help the brain detoxify, which is crucial for keeping the brain healthy and sharp.

4. Flex Your Mental Muscles

You can improve your logic, problem solving, mental orientation and corrective thought process by working on puzzles and doing difficult mental tasks. For instance, start doing crossword puzzles. Studies show that older people who do crossword puzzles have better scores on a variety of cognitive tests than those who don’t.

To be fair, researchers aren’t sure if the puzzles cause better mental ability or if people with better mental ability tend to do more crossword puzzles. Nonetheless it can’t hurt to try! Don’t like puzzles? Try memorizing your friends’ and family’s phone numbers and birthdays.

5. Express Yourself Creatively

Creativity has more than one advantage when it comes to keeping your mind sharp and keeping a positive attitude. Creativity forces you to think and flex your mental muscles!  The results of creative work have been shown to reinforce self-confidence and help individuals enjoy their daily life. Try your hand at;

  • Writing poetry
  • Sewing
  • Taking up a musical instrument
  • Gardening
  • Painting

If you don’t feel artistic or creative, baking or writing in a journal are other great ways to express yourself. Try applying creative approaches to daily tasks like shopping on a budget or creating a new recipe with limited ingredients. Keep a good attitude about your ability to find solutions in everyday situations.

Your brain is an extraordinary machine, and although there is still a great deal we do not know about it, it doesn’t stop us from wanting to expand its capabilities. Don’t blame age for declining cognitive abilities. Instead, test out some of the methods listed above and keep your brain sharp!

Are You Eating Enough Colour?

Are you Eating Enough Colour

We’ve all heard the phrase “eat your greens”.  But, what we should really be eating is the rainbow.  Phytonutrients come in all different colours—green, yellow-orange, red, blue-purple, and white.  Different colours contain different compounds.  Each of which have unique healing properties.  In order to promote good health eating a variety of colours is crucial.



What Are Phytonutrients?

The term “Phytonutrients” refers to the several thousand healthful, non-nutritive compounds found in plants. These compounds are referred to as “non-nutritive” because they do not supply calories like proteins, carbohydrates, or fats do.

Despite this, they benefit the body in several ways.  Studies show that people who eat more plant foods have reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

In the plant itself, phytonutrients provide many functions.  They protect the plant from pests and environmental stressors, and impart colour and distinctive tastes and smells.

In the human body, phytonutrients;
  • Stimulate enzymes that help the body get rid of toxins
  • Boost the immune system
  • Improve cardiovascular health
  • Promote healthy estrogen metabolism
  • Stimulate the death of cancer cells

This is all pretty powerful stuff!

The Impact Of ‘Colour’

Organic fruits and vegetables are rich sources of phytonutrients.  Same with legumes, herbs/spices, nuts/seeds, and teas.  Aiming for one to two of each colour per day is a healthy goal to strive for.

Darker-coloured plants are generally higher in phytonutrients.  However, fruits and veggies from the white family do have potent contributions to make.

What Do The Different Colours Mean?

red foods

Red foods contain phytonutrients that may help reduce the risk of certain cancers and protect the brain, heart, liver, and immune system.

Examples of red foods:
  • Beets
  • Bell pepper
  • Blood oranges
  • Cranberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapefruit (pink)
  • Goji berries
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Plums
  • Pomegranate
orange foods

Orange foods help protect the immune system, eyes, and skin.  They also reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Examples of orange foods:
  • Apricots
  • Bell pepper
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Mango
  • Nectarine
  • Orange
  • Papaya
yellow foods

Yellow foods are beneficial because they contain compounds that are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.  They protect the brain, heart and vasculature.  In addition to your eyes, and skin.

Examples of yellow foods:
  • Apples
  • Asian Pears
  • Bananas
  • Bell Peppers
  • Star Fruit
  • Squash
green foods

Green foods contain compounds that are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.  They too protect the brain, heart and vasculature, liver, and skin.  In addition, green foods that help with liver function also help balance hormones.

Examples of green foods:
  • Avocados
  • Asparagus
  • Green Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Okra
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers
purple foods

Blue/Purple/Black foods contain compounds that are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.  They too protect the brain, and heart and vasculature.  It’s interesting to note that out of all the colours, this is the category that most people eat the least of.

Too little blue/purple can result in issues with the brain.  This is because these foods protect the brain from damage.  In addition they also promote healthy cognition and memory.
Examples of blue/purple/black foods:
  • Berries
  • Eggplants
  • Figs
  • Plums
  • Prunes
  • Raisins

White/Tan/Brown foods – When thinking of white/tan/brown foods, processed foods may come to mind.  Foods such as;

  • Bagels
  • Cereals
  • Breads
  • Pastas
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Crackers

Avoid those and focus on foods that are beneficial to your health such as;

nuts and seeds
  • Nuts
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Legumes
  • Spices
  • Seeds

The compounds in these earthy coloured foods are anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory.  Additionally, like green foods, there are certain compounds that can assist with liver and hormone health.

Examples of white/tan/brown foods:
  • Ginger
  • Apples
  • Cacao
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Coffee
  • Coconut
  • Dates
  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Tea

Eating by Colour

Easy Ways To Eat Your Colours

Start by observing the colours you eat.  Humans are creatures of habit.  As such we generally tend to eat the same foods over and over again.  This does our body a disservice.

In order to get more phytonutrients into your diet, you are going to have to mix things up!   It has been estimated that 80% of people are missing one or more of the phytonutrient colours in their diet.  Which sounds likely when you think that most people stick to eating processed foods that are brown, yellow, or white.

Think of a typical breakfast menu – waffles, pancakes, ready-to-eat cereal, sausage, and eggs.  This doesn’t provide very many phytonutrients now, does it?  Opting for a fruit smoothie with blueberries, peaches, raspberries and spinach would be way more beneficial. There’s four of the seven colours done for the day.

Click here for “Breakfast On The Go – Mixed Berry Smoothie” recipe.

Note: When implementing this way of eating, keep in mind that fruits contain sugar.  Even though it’s a natural form of sugar, fruits can still spike insulin levels.  As such, be sure to load your cart with heaps of colourful vegetables and just a few fruit.

Click here to read, “Is It Time To Stop Eating Fruit?”

Simple Ways To Jump Start A Phytonutrient Diet

First, make it your goal to try one new plant food (fruit, vegetable, nut, seed or legume) per week.  Explore ethnic stores for greater variety.  Second, stock up on organic frozen vegetables for easy cooking or organic berries as they tend to retain their phytonutrients well.  Third, keep fruits and vegetables where you can see them.  This will help you to remember to eat them.

Next, keep a bowl or container of fresh cut vegetables on the top shelf of refrigerator.  Always within easy reach.  If you must eat something sweet after dinner, choose a fruit for dessert (fruit kabobs, berry compotes, fruit salads, etc.)  Have dishes with lots of vegetable variety (e.g., soups, stir-fry).

Try and choose darker vegetables over lighter to maximize nutrient content.  Make the switch from mashed white potatoes to sliced carrots or mashed cauliflower.  Also, toss in red pepper, tomato sauce, garlic, onions or broccoli to omelets.

You can also add rinds of oranges or lemons to your water.  Try a little bit of every colour at a salad bar.  Be generous with your use of herbs and spice.  Devote some time at the start of your week to prepare your meals and recipes.  This will make eating whole foods throughout the week so much easier!

Make It Easy!

To make things easier for myself, I re-arranged my fridge to emphasize the food colours.  Forget separating fruits and vegetables.  I now separate things by colour.  It’s made preparing my meals and shakes so much easier.  I open the fridge and grab at least one or two items from each group.  It’s a good reminder to add variety to my dishes and it looks pretty!

It is also a great way to teach kids about the importance of healthy, colourful foods.  Make them choose which colours they want to eat.  Try making it into a little game.  Have a colour chart that they can check off each day to make sure that they are eating all the colours of the rainbow.

Now go on, eat the rainbow.  Your cells will thank you for it!

Adrenal Fatigue? 7 Tips to Fight Back Naturally

adrenal fatigue

Everyone has felt stress at some point in their lives.  That feeling of being so overwhelmed and overworked that you can’t eat or sleep.  Unfortunately, stress has become ingrained in our culture.  We associate it with hard work and success, assuming that we can’t have one without the other.   Though some stress is necessary, we often bite off more than we can chew.  We fail to realize that the more stressed we are, the less efficient we are.  We ignore the negative effects stress has on our bodies but unnecessary stress can lead to a multitude of symptoms including:

  • Adrenal fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances

.

adrenal glands

What Are Adrenal Glands And What Do They Do?

The adrenal glands (also known as suprarenal glands) are the triangle-shaped endocrine glands that sit on top of your kidneys.  The adrenal glands are hormone producing glands similar to ovaries, testicles and the thyroid.  They are the regulators of your body as they’re responsible for regulating stress responses and play an important role in the maintenance of a healthy immune system.

Adrenal glands are key contributors to:
  • Proper thyroid function
  • Balance of hormones
  • Maintaining one’s ideal weight
  • Stabilizing emotions
  • Controlling cravings

Multiple studies have proven that the health of the adrenal glands will dictate the health and recovery of many types of chronic illnesses.  Since chronic stress is the main cause of overactive adrenals, it’s important that we find a way to control and eliminate stress.

Click here to read, “CFS – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms & Natural Solutions”.

Moreover, proper nutrition, adequate rest, and exercise is also very important. Unfortunately, an astounding amount of people suffer from adrenal fatigue due to lifestyle factors that are often overlooked.

What is Adrenal Fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is a common side effect of stress and has three phases:
  1. The Alarm Phase – when the body is acknowledging stress
  2. The Resistance Phase – when the body is trying to fight stress
  3. The Exhaustion Phase – when the adrenals become tapped out.

Depending the phase a person is in, the levels of cortisol (produced by the adrenals) will range from high or low at different points in the day.  Cortisol levels should be at their peak in the morning.  So, when we wake up we feel refreshed and ready to go.  Alternatively, they should be at their lowest at night when it’s time to go to bed.  Any variation of these levels will affect a person’s well-being.  Especially if stress is experienced for long periods of time.  Hence the last phase being exhaustion.

Click here to read, “Bedtime Woe’s? – 5 Simple Tips For Blissful Zzzz’s”.

Other than exhaustion, additional symptoms of adrenal fatigue include:
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Cravings for salt
  • Chronic infections
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sugar
  • Muscle twitches
  • Lack of libido
  • Light headed
  • Poor concentration
  • Sleep disturbance (typically waking up between 2-4 am)

So what can you do?  There are numerous natural ways to support the adrenals.

adrenal fatigue

Are Your Adrenals Fatigued?

I see the following scenario regularly in my practice.  A busy mom with a demanding career comes in complaining of;

  • Hot flashes
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of libido
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Feeling low

For the last 15 years she has been dealing with;

  • Work deadlines
  • Kid’s sports
  • Homework
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning

She goes from morning to night with little sleep.  Her adrenals are tired but she pushes through the chronic fatigue and insomnia.  She notices other symptoms such as headaches, inability to lose weight, and mood swings.  This common scenario is what many natural health professionals refer to as, “adrenal steal”.

Unable to function properly due to years of stress, the adrenals are forced to steal key hormonal building blocks from other hormones like:

  • Progesterone
  • DHEA
  • Estrogen
  • Testosterone

Hence contributing to hormonal imbalances and a slew of side effects that come with them.  Keeping the adrenal glands in check is the best way for women to avoid fatigue and keep their hormones happy.

How to Fight Adrenal Fatigue

chiropractor

See a Chiropractor – Chiropractic care plays a crucial role in adrenal health.  Physical, chemical or emotional stressors can cause stress on the spine and nervous system.  The goal of chiropractic care is to balance and optimize the entire nervous system contributing to healthy adrenal function in addition to a multitude of other health benefits.

early to bed

Go to Bed Early – You should be sleeping 7 to 8 hours and preferably going to bed before midnight.  Make sure you allow some time to wind down and relax to help your cortisol level lower before bed.

clean eating

Eat Clean – Avoid processed foods and sugar.  Focus on good fats, moderate protein, and tons of veggies that are phytonutrient rich.  You are what you eat, so feed your body the right fuel.

vitamins

Take an Adrenal Support Supplement – Consuming whole, organic foods rich in phytonutrients is great for adrenal support.  However, supplementation is sometime needed to support proper adrenal function.

Beneficial supplements Include:
  • B complex
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Omega 3 fatty acids

Also beneficial are botanical adaptogens.  They can be taken to help support the adrenal glands throughout the stress response process.

Examples of botanical adaptogens include:

  • Ashwagandha root
  • Rhodiola rosea extract
  • Suma
  • Schisandra chinensis berry extract
yoga, meditation

Exercise – Regular exercise is known to combat stress, which helps to improve adrenal function.  But be aware that if your adrenals are exhausted, intense exercise may be more detrimental than beneficial.  Try yoga or meditation.

Click here to read, “Put A Little Namaste In Your Life”.

cortisol saliva test

Get Tested! – Measuring cortisol levels can help determine adrenal health.  The Cortisol Saliva Test also know as the Adrenal Stress Test, has become the preferred way of evaluating cortisol levels.

A newer test, the DUTCH test, is another method one can use.  The test involves a urine steroid hormone profile.  This measures hormones and hormone metabolites (called conjugates) in a dried sample.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) technology used by chiropractors, is another way to evaluate stress.  It measures and tracks a patient’s autonomic nervous system state.

Think your adrenals are suffering from adrenal fatigue?  Start by taking an inventory of your life stressors and see which ones you can kick to the curb following the 7 tips above.

6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

Gut health, gut bacteria , gut flora, microbiome. Bacteria inside the small

Bacteria is not always your enemy, in fact when it comes to digestion and gut health, the “good bacteria” is your best friend, so you should treat it as such!

Here’s why…

Your digestive system is home to the largest part of your body’s immune system and determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to what goes in there.

Your Gut Health Depends On What You Eat

I know it can be challenging to make conscious choices, considering our modern, fast-paced lifestyles and the abundance of convenient fast foods that are easy to reach for.

The problem is, when we don’t take the time to figure out what healthy eating means for us, and plan for healthy meals, we can end up with chronic health issues and diseases that can be directly correlated to what’s happening in our gut.

healthy gut

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Finding The Optimal Gut Bacteria Balance Is Key

Did you know that your body contains around 100 trillion bacteria and that these bacteria make up an estimated 3 -5 pounds of your body weight? Of the 100 trillion bacteria some are “Good and some are “Bad”. When these bacterial colonies become out of balance it can lead to what is called gut dysbiosis, which is one of the main causes of digestive health issues. The good news is, small lifestyle changes can go a long way to helping your gut and you feel better.

You have the power to create good health that begins in your gut!

Here Are 6 Simple Ways To Get Started:

1. Eat well. There’s really no rocket science to it!
Choose from these prebiotic-rich foods as and example; garlic, onions, asparagus and bananas. Try to avoid processed sugar of any kind. Remember that bad bacteria thrive on sugar, so it’s important to avoid the sweet stuff wherever you can. Don’t forget about hydration. Your body, your gut and your brain needs a lot of water on a daily basis in order to function well.

2. Boost your food choices! Take a probiotic supplement.
Consider introducing a high-quality probiotic supplement into your daily health routine. This will help improve the health of your gut and your immune system. Probiotics come in a variety of formulations. My recommendation is to look for supplements that are kept refrigerated (or on the shelf but deemed “stable”), originally come from a human source, and contain both acidophilus and bifidobacterial (big words for the good stuff!).

3. Digestive Enzymes
Consider taking digestive enzymes with your meals. Digestive enzymes help your body break down food into nutrients that can easily be absorbed. Besides breaking down food, enzymes can help heal your gut and support your immune system. Lifestyle choices affect our body’s ability to produce enzymes. Processed, sugary foods, use of antibiotics, and other prescription medications can contribute to a decrease in digestive enzyme production and can cause a variety of gastrointestinal symptoms.

4. Reduce stress. Beware of your cortisol.
The effect of ongoing stress is literally is like a car going 100 miles an hour with the brake pedal on! That’s because our digestion function shut down in order to divert blood to other parts of the body to ward off the threat. This compromises your digestive and immune systems, so you need to do whatever you can to reduce your stress load. For instance, doing some deep breathing exercises is just one way to start putting a buffer in between you and high levels of stress.

5. Get your sleep right. It’s essential for good overall health!
Have you ever noticed when you’re tired that you’re prone to reach for coffee and other stimulants to keep you going? Get some rest! The trick again, is to start with something small like going to bed an hour earlier every night and turning off all electronics before you do. Sleep is truly important to help our bodies reset, recharge and rebalance.

6. Regular Chiropractic Adjustments
Your nervous system controls every function in your body including digestion. Misalignments or subluxations in your spine can compromise digestive function. Reg- ular chiropractic adjustments realign your spine, restore nerve function, and help your body to work optimally

Building a healthy relationship with good gut bacteria also means building a healthy relationship with your entire body. As you can see what we eat, our environment and our physical and mental health all contribute to a healthier better functioning gut! Start today in small ways to make changes, and you’ll soon find you really can improve your gut health!