Part 4 – Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

Gut Flora and Stress

An imbalance in your gut flora doesn’t just affect you physically, it can affect you mentally.  Studies show that having an overgrowth of certain bacteria in the gut can trigger a systemic stress response that keeps you in fight or flight mode, which is characterized by increased heart rate, high blood pressure, increased blood glucose, difficulty focusing and slowed digestion at all times.  Staying in fight or flight long-term can cause chronic inflammation that leads to chronic diseases.  Conversely, having the “right” balance of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus can turn off the hormonal signals that cause that chronic stress response.

Importance of Probiotics

Probiotics are live cultures that provide some type of benefit to the host-you.  In the case of gut dysbiosis, probiotics help repopulate the gut with good bacteria to help restore the balance.  There are two major ways to introduce probiotics into your gut.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are not a new thing.  Fermented foods are those that have been preserved using a process called lacto-fermentation.  During this process, bacteria feed on the sugars and starches naturally present in the food.  Fermentation does more than increase a food’s shelf life.  It makes the food more digestible, changes flavor and texture, reduces the presence of carbohydrates known for causing gas, and synthesizes vitamins like vitamin B12.

Supplements

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Part 3 – Healthy Digestion and Gut Health

Avoiding Chemicals and Processed Foods

Our typical diet is all about convenience.  When it comes to food choices, the top three criteria for many of us are convenience, potability and taste.  Processed foods contain many artificial ingredients and chemicals that your body doesn’t recognize them as food.  When you regularly eat foods like this, your body responds by attacking the ingredients it doesn’t recognize – end result?  A damaged gut!

Don’t be fooled by buzz phrases like all-natural, gluten-free or made with natural ingredients.  These phrases are designed by manufacturers to make you think a packaged food is a healthy choice even when it’s not.  Just because a processed food doesn’t contain gluten doesn’t make it healthy.  It may be filled with other gut-damaging ingredients like soy and sugar.

Make your own meals at home whenever possible using fresh, whole ingredients.  If portability and convenience are your concerns, spend a few hours on a day that you have some time prepping and preparing meals for the week.  Cook in bulk and separate food into single-serving containers.  Cut up fruit and vegetables and put them in baggies that are easy to grab on the go.  Buy raw nuts and unsweetened dried fruit in bulk and put single servings into sandwich bags.  Keep these bags on hand wherever you think hunger might strike unexpectedly.  Put some in your desk drawer at work, leave some in the car or keep them in your purse.

Continue reading “Part 3 – Healthy Digestion and Gut Health”

Part 2 – Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

  A Natural, Real-Foods Approach

Focus on filling your plate with natural, real foods.  Vegetables should take up the remaining 80 percent of your plate, while high quality proteins and fat make up the remaining 20 percent.  Fruits are full of beneficial nutrients, but should not take up a significant percentage of your plate.  You can add a piece of fruit to your balanced meal or snack.

Food Quality

Purchase organic fruit and vegetables that are free of chemicals and pesticides.  While getting organic produce from your grocery store is good, local farmers’ markets are better. 

Eat with the seasons.  If a fruit or vegetable doesn’t grow in the winter where you live, skip it at the grocery store until spring or summer, the time it naturally grows.  Your body was meant to eat with the seasons.  This helps prevent food sensitivities and ensures that you are getting a wide range of nutrients from foods that you may not normally eat.

Many conventional meats come from cows, pigs, and chickens that are fed a grain or corn rich diet.  Farmers give grain and corn to animals in an attempt to fatten them up quickly and inexpensively.  Since this isn’t the animal’s natural food source, it affects the quality of the meat.

The best meat carries three labels:  organic, grass-fed and pasture-raised.  Do your best to choose the highest quality meats while staying within your budget.

Continue reading “Part 2 – Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health”

The Importance of Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health

Your body uses nutrients like vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, protein and fatty acids to carry out every single one of its physiological processes, such as fixing damaged cells and making new ones.  Nutrients give cells what they need to work, grow and divide.  The only way to get most of the nutrients your body needs is through the foods you eat.

When your gut is healthy and your digestion is working properly, your body has access to everything it needs to keep itself healthy.  When your gut is imbalanced and your digestion is out of whack, your body cannot absorb nutrients no matter how clean your diet is.  Adopting a clean diet only one aspect of gut health.  You must also work to fix your damaged gut so you can absorb nutrients by taking the proper supplements, engaging in stress-reduction techniques and staying properly hydrated.

Identifying Digestive Problems

  • Bloating, belching, burning, and flatulence after meals
  • A sense of extreme fullness after eating
  • Indigestion, diarrhea or constipation
  • Rectal itching
  • Weak or cracked fingernails
  • Dilated capillaries in the cheeks and nose
  • Post-adolescent acne or other skin irritations, such as rosacea, eczema and hives
  • Iron deficiency
  • Chronic intestinal infections, parasites, yeast and unfriendly bacteria
  • Greasy stools
  • Easily bruised skin
  • Fatigue

Continue reading “The Importance of Healthy Digestion and Good Gut Health”

Garlicky Veggie-Packed Omelet

Gut Health Recipe

Gracious Garlic

A member of the lily flower family, garlic is a beautiful plant that can give your meal a tantalizing aroma and a unique flavor that can’t be found in anything else.  Use garlic or garlic powder to dress up dishes or create a savory flavor.

Garlicky Veggie-Packed Omelet

Delicious vegetables and garlic combine with fluffy eggs and egg whites to make a simple, satisfying and savory meal that will start off any day right! Protein-packed and rich in complex carbohydrates from the vegetables, this is a tasty way to get some valuable nutrition.
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 1
Calories 357 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tsp olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced button or cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup torn spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 2 large whole eggs
  • 4 large egg whites

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil or coconut oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  • Saute' onion for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and water, and saute' until mushrooms are softened, about 3-4 minutes
  • Sprinkle mixture with garlic powder and add spinach leaves and tomatoes, stirring constantly.
  • Whisk together eggs and egg whites and pour over the sauteed vegetables.
  • Immediately begin pushing the outer edges into the center with a spatula for one turn around the whole pan. Let omelet set for 2 minutes.
  • Gently slide the spatula under omelet and quickly flip.
  • Continue cooking omelet for another 3 - 5 minutes or until no longer runny.

 

Digestive Enzymes and Hormones

digestive enzymes

So, how can digestive enzymes help with hormone balance?  Food and digestion is at the center of our overall health and hormonal balance.  We all have heard “you are what you eat”.  This new term holds more truth:  “You are what you can digest and absorb.”  If our digestive function is compromised, we cannot fully benefit from the nutrients in our diet, no matter how high the quality of our foods.

Since we have many feasting opportunities ahead of us at this time of the year, I would like to help you digest food more efficiently.  It will help you feel and look better during times of feasts and beyond; and good digestion prevents putting on those extra pounds!

So what about hormone balance and gut health?  Good gut health is crucial to re-balancing your hormones regardless of the imbalance.  Poor digestive health is especially impactful on women because of their physical and hormonal
makeup.  All of our hormones are processed through our gut.  When our food is not properly digested, all of our systems are compromised.

Who needs digestive enzymes?

This is where digestive enzymes come into play in our digestive health.  Who needs digestive enzymes?  Anyone who displays any of these:

  • Occasional bloating and gas, particularly after eating
  • Feeling full after eating only a small quantity of food
  • Infrequent mild indigestion/heartburn
  • Bowel irregularities such as occasional diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Undigested food in stools
  • Allergies
  • Estrogen dominance
  • History of gallbladder problems
  • Lost gallbladder due to surgery

What to expect from Digestive Enzymes

Women who add digestive enzymes to their regimen often feel:

  • Lighter and energized after a meal
  • Improvement in digestion
  • Less food intolerances
  • Better bowel movement (less constipation or loose stool)
  • Less allergies ( this is because the liver gets a break from undigested food)
  • Improved energy and overall well-being (nutrients get properly absorbed)
  • Improved thyroid function (especially with Hashimoto’s)

You have probably heard that your gut is your second brain.  If your digestive system is on track you are set up for our whole body system to be on track.  The opposite is also true.

TerraZyme, my go-to Digestive Enzyme Complex, is a proprietary blend of active whole-food enzymes and supporting mineral co-factors that are often deficient in cooked, processed and preservative-laden foods.  TerraZyme’s powerful combination of digestive enzymes support the body’s constant production of enzymes critical for healthy biochemical functions throughout the body including healthy digestion of food nutrients and cellular metabolism of nutrients to energy.  TerraZyme includes a variety of whole-food enzymes that help with digestion of proteins, fats complex carbohydrates, sugars and fiber.

Here is a list of benefits
  • Supports healthy digestion and metabolism of enzyme-deficient, processed foods.  Speeds conversion of food nutrients to cellular energy
  • Promotes gastrointestinal comfort and food tolerance
  • Supports healthy production of metabolic enzymes
  • Provides important mineral co-factors for systemic enzymatic activity
Enzymes do more than we think

Enzymes are not only necessary for digesting food nutrients and converting nutrients to energy in cells, they also function as catalysts in almost all cellular functions and chemical reactions throughout the body.  They are also necessary for breathing, thinking, immune function, hormone regulation, detoxification, and thousands of other biochemical functions.

The body’s constant need to produce digestive enzymes can result in chronic deficiencies in metabolic enzymes that re critical for optimal health and cell function.  One example of an important metabolic enzyme is superoxide dismutase (SOD) which protects cells from free-radical molecules.  Metabolic enzymes are also Continue reading “Digestive Enzymes and Hormones”

All Things Progesterone!

Progesterone Fertility Guide

article overview
  • How Progesterone Works
  • Progesterone Deficient?
  • Hormone Testing
  • Support Progesterone Levels
  • How to Use Progesterone Cream
  • Progesterone & Miscarriage
  • Progesterone & PCOS
  • Progesterone & Endometriosis
  • Progesterone During Pregnancy
  • Summary

Hormonal balance is an important factor when it comes to healthy fertility and getting pregnant as well as feeling balanced overall.  During the course of a menstrual cycle various hormones are working together in a complex symphony to trigger the various components of ovulation and menstruation.

Progesterone is one of these key hormones.  After ovulation, progesterone production is triggered by Luteinizing Hormone (LH) which stimulates the corpus luteum (remanant egg sac) in the ovary to produce progesterone.

One of the main actions of progesterone with fertility is to help support a developing embryo

If pregnancy occurs, the production of progesterone from the corpus luteum continues for about 7 weeks (it is then produced by the placenta for the duration of the pregnancy.  If pregnancy did not occur, the period begins 14 days after ovulation.  When fertilization does not occur the corpus luteum disintegrates, which causes the level of progesterone to fall and the endometrial tissue to disintegrate and shed as menstruation.

What Does Progesterone Do?

  • Maintains the lining of the uterus which makes it possible for a fertilized egg to attach and survive
  • Makes cervical mucous accessible by sperm
  • Allows the embryo to survive
  • Prevents immune rejection of the developing baby
  • Allows for full development of the fetus through pregnancy
  • Helps the body use fat for energy during pregnancy
  • Prevents secondary sexual development
  • Increases libido around ovulation
  • Activates osteoblasts to increase new bone formation
  • Protects against endometrial, breast, ovarian and prostrate cancer
  • Normalizes blood clotting

Are Your Progesterone Deficient or Estrogen Dominate?

Too much estrogen in the body

One of the main reasons women are progesterone deficient is because they have too much estrogen in the body.  Estrogen dominance can happen for many reasons:

  • Commercially raised meats and dairy contain large amounts of estrogens, and consuming them can cause hormonal imbalance
  • Pollution and stress mimic estrogen at the estrogen receptor sites.
  • Eating a large amount of processed soy products can also mimic estrogen.
  • PCOS and endometriosis can also have an estrogen dominate action.
Not enough progesterone in the body

There are many signs that may show up in the body if you do not have enough progesterone in your system during the correct times of your cycle.

You can use this checklist as a guide for determining estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency.

Hormone Testing

There are a couple of test options.  Tests range from charting your menstrual and basal body temperature, finding out the length of your luteal phase taking a saliva or blood test to find out your progesterone levels.  The questionnaire above will help to point out signs of progesterone deficiency while tests help to confirm it.

BBT Charting

Basil Body Temperature charting can help to determine the availability of progesterone in the luteal phase.  There will be a slight rise in temperature after ovulation has occurred and progesterone has increased.

Length of luteal phase

If the date of ovulation is fewer than 11 days before your period, this could suggest luteal phase defects.  You can detect ovulation using BBT charting, OPK strips.

Saliva testing

Saliva tests are better for testing progesterone and estrogen levels.  You can order an “at home” saliva test that you will take at a certain time during your cycle and then send away to a lab for analysis.  They will mail you back the results so you can find out if you have any hormonal imbalances.

You can find more info on hormone testing here!

Contact us if you would like some help determining which tests to do and with help for deciphering your results and how to correct any imbalance.

How to Support Progesterone Levels

Reduce your exposure to xenohormones

We have become an estrogen dominate society from all the excess estrogen in our foods and environment.

Reduce your exposure by avoiding these xenohormone producers:

  • Solvents and adhesives
  • Meat from conventionally raised livestock (non-organic)
  • Car exhaust
  • Almost all plastics
  • Petochemically derived pesticides, herbicides and fungicides
  • Emulsifiers found in soaps and cosmetics

Go here for more help with reducing toxins in every day living.

Vitex for hormonal balance

Vitex is one of the most powerful herbs for women’s fertility and menstrual health.  Vitex supports hormonal balance in the body by having an effect on the hypothalamic-pitituitary-ovarian axis (hormonal feedback loop), correcting the problem at the source.

Directions for use:

Capsules:  1,000 mg a day – take vitex all month except during menstruation

Vitex works slowly to normalize the body.  Maximum benefits are often achieved after 6-12 cycles with vitex.

Use Natural Progesterone Cream

Natural progesterone cream can help to supplement your body’s own progesterone levels and lead you back to a state of natural balance.

Natural progesterone cream comes from plant fats and oils called diosgenin which is extracted either from Mexican Wild Yams or soybeans.

How to Use Progesterone Cream

Application through the skin has been found to be one of the most effective ways to use natural progesterone.  It is absorbed through the skin into the underlying fat which helps to slowly allow progesterone into the blood.  This way of application helps the progesterone to be “time released” into the blood stream.  To mimic the body’s progesterone cycle, it is best to use progesterone cream twice a day.

The best areas for application are places that have capillary blood flow such as:

  • Face
  • Neck
  • Upper Chest
  • Breasts
  • Inner arms
  • Palms of hands and feet

When it comes to dosage, more is not better.  Too much progesterone can  cause hormonal imbalances, just like too little can.  General suggested dosage is 15-30 mg during the two weeks before your period.

Begin using progesterone directly after ovulation which is usually day 12 – 14 in our cycles and ending usage once menstruation begins.  Once you become pregnant, stay on the progesterone and contact your healthcare provider.

loading dose

A loading dose is useful for women who have had many months or years of anovulatory (no ovulation) cycles, which can create extreme progesterone deficiency.  Each cycle that passes without ovulation can increase estrogen dominance as progsterone stores are depleted.  Very thin women who have little body fat can become estrogen dominant very easily s there is not fat to store extra progesterone.  In either of these situations, use a higher dose of progesterone the first one to two months of progesterone cream use.  This helps to replenish the progesterone stored in the fat of the body.  After 2-3 months the dose can be lowered to the usual dosage.

Loading dose:  1/4 tsp twice a day (40mg a day) for two weeks before to your period

Regular dose:  1/8 tsp twice a day (20mg a day) for two weeks before your period

inducing ovulation using progesterone

Use natural progesterone from days 5 – to 26 in the cycle (stopping on day 26 to bring on menstruation).

Using the progesterone prior to ovulation effectively suppressed ovulation.  After a few months of this, stop progesterone use.  If you still have follicles left, they seem to respond to a few months of suppression with the successful maturation and release of an egg.

Preventing miscarriage and progesterone

Low progesterone during pregnancy can be one cause of recurrent miscarriages.  Progesterone is responsible for creating a healthy environment in the womb by maintaining the uterine lining.  It also reduces the chances of blood clots ad the immune system responding to the fetus as if it was a foreign substance.  Progesterone is one of the main pregnancy hormones

Progesterone and PCOS

Progesterone cream can help to oppose the estrogen dominance that occurs with PCOS.  By using progesterone cream you are able to mimic a natural cycle and help the body to establish its own cycle, including ovulating again.  With progesterone cream, changes in diet and exercise, PCOS could become obsolete.

There are two ways to use progesterone cream for PCOS.  The first is the suppression cycle.  To suppress the cycle one would use progesterone cream on cycle days 7-26.  If you do not have a menstrual cycle you would choose a date on your calendar and mark it as day 7.  Suppressing the cycle allows the body to rest by stopping the cycle of eggs not being released and estrogen/androgen dominance.  Use 60-100mg of progesterone cream a day during the suppression cycle and repeat this for 3-4 months for best results.

establish a cycle with progesterone cream

To help your body create a cycle including menstruation and ovulation, use progesterone cream on day 12 of your cycle and continue until day 26.  By stopping on day 26 your progesterone levels will drop, helping to start your menstrual cycle.  If your cycle does not start, just treat your cycle like you are having one and start again on day 12.  It is best to use a calendar so you can keep track of everything.  After 3 or so months it is suggested to take a break for 1 month so you can see if yur cycle has jump started itself.

Progesterone and endometriosis

If you have endometriosis, use progesterone from days 8-26 of your cycle to reduce the effects of estrogen on the body (estrogen stimulates endometrial growth).  Take a short week off to refresh your receptor sites.  Once the outbreaks of endometriosis are tolerable reduce the usage to days 12 till menstrual cycle.

Progesterone use during pregnancy

Natural progesterone is safe to use during pregnancy with the consent of your doctor or midwife and may prevent first trimester miscarriages that are due to low progesterone but should be used with caution when nursing as it may stop lactation.

In the first trimester of pregnancy progesterone is the sole responsibility of the ovaries, but they often fail to produce sufficient levels to maintain the pregnancy.  By the second trimester, the placenta itself is responsible for producing progesterone and it hikes the level of this hormone to 486% higher than the non-pregnant norm.

If you are taking progesterone and get pregnant, you must continue taking progesterone until  at least the 16th week.  Work with your practitioner; they will monitor your levels to make sure they are healthy for pregnancy.

Summary

Healthy progesterone levels are important during conception and pregnancy.  You can find out if your levels are where they should be by getting tested.  If you do find your levels are low there are many natural ways to promote healthy progesterone levels such as:

  1. Reducing Xenohormones
  2. Using Vitex
  3. Applying progesterone cream

If you become pregnant, continue to use the cream and consult with your doctor or midwife right away.

Let us know how we can help!

 

 

 

 

Treating Thyroid Problems Naturally

Thyroid Function Must Be Controlled Before You Get Pregnant

Treating thyroid problems naturally right away is important if you are wanting to have a baby.  Preconception planning is essential to a healthy pregnancy for women with thyroid problems.  Women with untreated or neglected thyroid problems may affect their baby’s growth and brain development.  Untreated thyroid problems may also lead to infertility, miscarriage or a baby born with birth defects.

It’s important to see a doctor bout thyroid issues.  Make a plan with your doctor.  If you desire natural treatments it is important to speak with your doctor to see if that is a possibility for you.  Here I will present some ways to supplement and support proper thyroid function.  If you are interested in any of these, talk to your doctor – we can help with a plan of action to help.

Iodine Rich food sources

A diet rich in whole foods should always be the first way to support overall health, including thyroid health.  Poor diet and nutritional deficiency is one of the top reasons for thyroid problems.  Choose organic foods when possible, as the thyroid is very sensitive to environmental toxins.  Too much iodine can also cause goiter, so do not go overboard.  More is not always better.  It is about balance.  It is important to get a balanced amount of iodine in the diet.  People with hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency may benefit from increasing the recommended daily allowance of iodine rich foods.

  • Raw cranberry
  • Whole-fat yogurt
  • Raw dairy products
  • Navy beans
  • Strawberries
  • Potatoes with skin left on
  • Himalayan Crystal Salt

Continue reading “Treating Thyroid Problems Naturally”

Can You Treat Inflammation Holistically?

I am often asked, can you treat inflammation holistically?  My answer is “Yes!”  By looking at the reason we are suffering from inflammation, we can develop a plan to treat the issue holistically.

Smoking and inflammation

It’s pretty common knowledge that smoking is bad for your health and contributes to the development and exacerbation of a slew of diseases.  Researchers have recently developed a theory as to why smoking is so closely related to so many inflammatory conditions.  Apparently nicotine is able to activate a specific kind of white blood cell called a neutrophil, and while normally neutrophils work to protect the body, they are also responsible for tissue damage due to excessive inflammation.  So one way to decrease inflammation is to quit smoking.

Conventional treatments for inflammation
Non-sterodial anti-inflammatory drugs (NASIDs)

As you might know, the most common over-the-counter treatment for inflammation is a drug called ibuprofen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID).  These can be amazing drugs for the occasional ache or pain, but they are not designed to be taken regularly and do not treat the underlying cause of inflammation.  Symptoms of NSADIS include stomach ulcers, hypertension and rashes.  Taken long-term or too often, they can be dangerous, linked to heart attacks, strokes and stomach bleeds.

Corticosteriods

Another common type of anti-inflammatory medication are corticosteroids.  These drugs work by suppressing inflammation-causes genes.  They often come in the form of cortisone injections, and can be very effective at decreasing inflammation.  They also come with a lot of side-effects and the body can also start to build up a tolerance. Continue reading “Can You Treat Inflammation Holistically?”

Allergies and Chronic Inflammation

Allergies and chronic inflammation go hand in hand.  Allergies are another common sign of chronic inflammation.  If you suffer from seasonal or year-round allergies, you have probably wondered why they seem to affect you but not some of your friends or members of your family.  It’s because people wit allergies have an immune system that is launching an immune response to harmless substances (like pollen), as if they are a threat to the body.  This activates an immune response and causes that annoying persistent sneezing, mucus, and inflammation.  The immune systems of your fortunate allergy-free friends is simply not perceiving those substances as harmful.

The body will provide a tone of subtle signs when someone starts to develop chronic inflammation, and this is where conventional medicine can sometimes fall short.  Your doctor will be well aware of inflammation caused by infection or injury and fully recognize autoimmunity and autoimmune disease, but they don’t seem to pay much mind to the subtle signs of chronic inflammation.  And if they do, they will prescribe a medication that will treat the symptoms and not the root cause. Continue reading “Allergies and Chronic Inflammation”