The words, gut microbiome and dysbiosis, are practically household terms as research and information about the gut grows. Just the other day I overheard two women in a local coffee shop discussing tips on how to “get their gut balanced”. Despite increasing information there is also much confusion and oversimplification…the gut is complex! To help you stay well-informed let’s define – gut dysbiosis – and how it may apply to you.
Within your gastrointestinal tract lies trillions of microbes – bacteria, fungi, viruses, even parasites. This unique collection of microbes is known as your microflora…or your “inner garden”. As with most gardens, the climate, temperature, and soil all impact its well-being. The garden can easily shift out of balance compromising the health of the crop…not to mention becoming overrun with weeds if not well cared for. You can think of this as dysbiosis…an imbalance and/or an overgrowth of the weeds or “bad stuff”.
Three Ways Dysbiosis Can Impact Your Gut
- The most basic imbalance is too many unhealthy microbes in the gut. An overabundance of “bad” inflammatory bacteria, too much yeast (such as candida albicans), or an unwelcomed virus or parasite lead to dysbiosis. To treat this type of dysbiosis, medications, broad-spectrum anti-microbial herbs, lifestyle and dietary changes such as including fiber-rich foods, probiotics, and supplements are very effective. The key is identifying and appropriately correcting the imbalance with the correct intervention!
- Poor diversity or not enough microbes can be the culprit. It may not be as common as an overgrowth but lack of or under-abundance of bacteria…even the good…can be problematic! An under-abundance may indicate that the lining of the gut where the microflora lives may be compromised and needs repair. Improvement may be achieved with appropriate probiotics, prebiotics, gut lining supportive supplements (like glutamine), and healthy bacteria-friendly foods.
- Your bacteria settle in the wrong place. Microbes live all along the lining of your gastrointestinal tract…from mouth to anus. It is important they live and thrive where they belong… which is primarily in the large intestines (or colon). When they begin to overpopulate and take up residence in places where they don’t belong, such as the mouth or small intestines, that is when they begin to create problems. One of the most common disturbances is SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth). SIBO occurs when the gastrointestinal microbiome has shifted and the growing and thriving bacteria migrate from the colon to the small intestines. Antibiotics, herbs, diet, lifestyle changes, and even ensuring optimal thyroid and hormonal balance are important for correcting this imbalance…and avoiding reoccurrence.
How does dysbiosis happen?
There are many different reasons why we harbor the microbes we do…and often, your “story” related to your life and health history can be valuable in understanding how or why the gut has been impacted. Birth history, childhood, food choices, antibiotics, medications (prescription and over the counter), life circumstances, stress, environmental toxins, and food poisoning…all can impact our microbiome.
Could YOU have dysbiosis?
Digestive struggle of any kind suggests an imbalance or dysbiosis of the microbes in the gut. If you have stomach upset after eating, indigestion, GERD (reflux), heartburn, slow digestion, or bloating, it is important to address dysbiosis. If you have bowel problems, like excessive gas, lower belly pains, constipation, or diarrhea – then dysbiosis is the prime suspect.
Dysbiosis can be the “root cause” of seemingly unrelated disorders
I work with gut dysbiosis daily in my practice. Many of my clients are surprised when I suggest dybiosis as a possible underlying cause when they are not complaining of problems they associate with their gut. As research grows, it is obvious how much the gut is involved with overall health and its influence on our body systems and disease process. Dysbiosis may be silent gut-wise, while still causing trouble in other areas of your body. That is why universally I am typically recommending a probiotic that fits the client’s unique needs as we begin to work on diet and lifestyle habits to promote a diverse, healthy, and a PEACEFUL gut.
Here are a few examples that could be linked to dysbiosis:
- Hormonal imbalance
- Autoimmune disease/disorder.
- Joint aches and pains
- Neurological and psychiatric disease
- Eczema, weight loss, and chronic fatigue
- Weight loss resistance
Basically, any inflammatory process can be traced back to the gut. To get to the root cause quickly, additional testing is often needed and valuable: Stool, breath, and urine testing – all of which can provide a snapshot of your personal microbiome. Results and information from testing offer a better “road map” on how to effectively address the dysbiosis with a highly personalized nutrition and lifestyle plan.
What to do if you suspect you have dysbiosis:
- Talk to your doctor for a referral to a good gastroenterologist who is willing to work with you. Also find a nutrition expert who is knowledgeable in gut health to partner with.
- If you suspect SIBO…ask to be tested by your MD with a specific 3 hr. lactulose breath test. (Did you know that it is estimated that 60-80% of IBS suffers have SIBO!)
- Take the FREE JBS Gut Assessment to see how healthy YOUR gut is.
- Check out my 6-month Gut Restoration Program which utilizing specific advanced testing to help get to the root cause by providing a roadmap toward restoring the gut to good health. A blood test is used to evaluate the gut barrier and stool culture to determine potential pathogens and balance of microbiome. In addition, a highly specialized, tailored, and progressive approach is taken which involves evidenced based protocols and guidelines as well as regular visits to keep you on track toward optimal health.
Take good care of your ‘Inner Garden’ so you can enjoy good health – the ultimate fruit of your labor!
Your Partner for a Peaceful Gut! 🙂
ps. Want to take a deep dive to learn more about your gut?
Check out my recorded Webinar: The Gut: The Gateway to Good Health
for Free until January 1st!
Do you struggle with gut issues, acne, psoriasis, brain fog, or migraines?
Have you been told you have leaky gut or IBS?
Food sensitivity testing may be something you should consider! Helping clients get to the ROOT cause of their symptoms and health struggle is my passion. This is just one test that I often use to get to the core of the issue…literally!
As you may know, the gut is truly the “gateway to good health”. This is because approximately 80% of the immune system is in the gut… which is the largest area of contact with the environment. When the integrity of our gut begins to break down due to poor health, nutritional imbalances, stress, illness, etc., the lining of our gut can become compromised. When this happens it may activate the inflammatory response in your body in response to certain foods. The purpose of the testing is to show which foods and/or environmental triggers are creating a chronic inflammatory response.
Acute inflammation is critical and helpful short-term for the defense of infection or injury. However, with a food sensitivity… the immune system perceives food in the same way it perceived something that is harmful which results in chronic inflammation. By unknowingly eating foods on a regular basis that your body is reacting to, you set off this immune response. The body is reeved up- ready for a fight! It is chronically activated, never giving the body a break. When this occurs white blood cells can release harmful chemicals and generate damaging free radicals (inflammatory agents) as they encounter foods and chemicals that they are perceiving as “foreign invaders”.
It is often impossible to determine what food is causing a reaction, since reactions that work on the innate immune system can be delayed for several hours, even as much as a few days. For example, you may have bloating, irritability, rash, or fatigue in the afternoon but may be reacting to something you ate at breakfast or for dinner the night before!
Food Sensitivity vs. Allergy
An allergy is a reaction that triggers the release of antibodies that results in immediate symptom onset. A true food allergy causes an immune response that can affect multiple organs and in some cases be severe or even life threatening. For example, if you have a shellfish allergy, you will know immediately after you eat shellfish! Food sensitivity symptoms are delayed and are typically limited to digestive problems, but they can lead to chronic inflammatory health issues as well.
What Company Is Best for Food Sensitivity Testing?
In my practice I use what I consider one of the most accurate and well respected tests available today. The Alcat Test is provided by Cell Sciences Systems Limited, Corporation, a licensed and FDA complaint laboratory. The Alcat Test is the only test of its kind to have been awarded 3 patents.
The Alcat Test is an immunobiological blood test to analyze the inflammatory response of white blood cells to foods and environmental factors. The test uses pure whole food organic extracts and all test substances are manufactured in a strictly controlled production process. The facility is a registered FDA medical device manufacturer and ISO 13485 certified.
Clinical assessments of the Alcat Test used to guide dietary modification have shown significant improvement in many common symptoms. The efficacy of the Alcat Test has been documented in more than 30 studies implementing rigorous double blind and often placebo controlled study designs.
References found: www.cellsciencesystems.com and I included some study referenced below!
The Alcat Test is designed to assess sensitivities to over 450 food, chemical and environmental substances. These sensitivities are shown to be associated with both acute and chronic conditions.
Chronic activation of the immune system has been linked to:
- IBS/ Bloating / Ulcerative Colitis/ Constipation/ Crohn’s Disease
- Fatigue/ Brain Fog
- Weight Gain
- Migraine/Tension headaches
- Eczema/ Psoriasis
- Arthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Cognitive Impairment
- Attention Deficit Disorders
- Fibromyalgia/Joint and Muscle Pain
- And more……
By identifying your particular list of “trigger” foods and avoiding them for 3-6 months can help heal the gut and reduce and/or elminate symptoms. One of the biggest misconceptions is that ALL food sensitivities have to be avoided forever! This is NOT the case, nor is this healthy in may cases. The key is to rest the gut and calm the chronic inflammation response. This test can provide clarity and freedom to help you know precisely which foods are friendly or unfriendly to your body. Together we take steps to be creative and find delicious meals and snacks to enjoy… while avoiding these foods for a time. At the same time we are always working on healing the gut in our efforts to help you reclaim your health and achieve optimal wellness!.
JUST A FEW STUDIES….
Investigators Berardi L, De Amici M, Castello C, Torre, Giunta, Legoratto, and Vignini studied 48 patients who participated in an elimination diet based on Alcat Test results. They found that the Alcat Test-based diet improved symptoms in 71% of patients. In particular, symptom improvements were most evident in patients with higher symptom scores, dietary changes and everyday conditions. Presented at 30th Congress of the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
Cellular Responses to Food in Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Investigators Fell PJ, Soulsby S, and Brostoff J conducted a double blind, placebo controlled study on 20 patients which demonstrated that an Alcat Test based elimination diet dramatically improved symptoms of IBS and had a statistically significant correlation between an Alcat score and symptom provocation. Published in Journal of Nutritional Medicine, Volume 2, Number 2, 1991.
NO DOUBT… it can be overwhelming when you find out you not only have more than one food allergy, but also food sensitivities and intolerances! Such was the case for one of my clients. Donna was one of those lovely southern women who always wore a beautiful smile, was ready with a hug, always looked put together, and just embraced LIFE. However, sitting in my office many years ago, her world was flipped upside down. Despite the cherry smile, tears took over as she admitted that she had a “love affair” with cooking and eating and felt her life would never be the same. We worked through meal planning, how to modify recipes, and strategies for eating out. I only saw Donna a couple times and I always wondered if she had found improvement and full recovery. (Looking back, I certainly wish I could have delivered the expertise and the more individualized care that I now offer at my own practice!)
Guess what…. Donna reappeared in my life with a friendly phone call not long ago. I immediately recognized the voice! She had been looking for me (since I had gone into private practice after we met) and wanted to drop something off! Well, I found out Donna not only reclaimed amazing health… but also reclaimed her LOVE AFFAIR with cooking…and wrote her own cookbook! Four years of culinary creations in her kitchen and she released “LICIOUS” – Floribbean Recipes for those with Multiple Food Allergies that Just Love Delicious Food .
This is one women who when….
“Life handed her Lemons ….so she made Lemon Quinoa!”
(yes she did! – page 28 of her cookbook and it is delicious!)
For more about Donna, her story…and cook book. Click HERE
Think Food Sensitivity and/or Environmental Testing may be Right for YOU?
Contact me today and let’s find out if this may help YOU get to the root of your health struggle!
Cheers to Your Health!
ps. I also offer many diverse testing options based on your unique situation and case.
A full listing will be available soon once the new website goes LIVE in July!
The ‘gut microbiome’ is a hot topic of conversation these days. But do you really know what it is and important steps you can take to care for it? The health of your gut goes much deeper than merely popping a probiotic. Let’s give you a little insight to take back to your circles of influence who are buzzing on the topic!
Did you know right now you are harboring within you an entire ecosystem?! There are literally trillions of bacteria in the digestive tract. They make up what is called the microflora, because under a microscope they look like little (micro) flowers (flora). We refer to it collectively as our microbiome which play an unbelievable role in synthesizing vitamins, producing natural antibiotics and degrading and eliminating toxins. You are truly made up of MORE bacteria than human cells!
Recent science (that is ever evolving) has taught us that the microbiome also dictates aspects of who we are – our personalities, our susceptibility to certain diseases, our mood, and even the size of our waistband. Most people are oblivious to it, paying no attention to it at all….until it begins to let us know it is hurting!
It is not just the stomach, intestines, or colon that make up the microbiome. It is the entire tube (GI tract) that runs through us which is 30 feet long has an opening on each end…the mouth to the anus. If we were to stretch this out it would equal the side of a telephone pole! The GI tract (or internal tube) maintains at 98.6 degrees and is a very moist environment, making it the perfect breeding ground for microbes – both good and bad bugs.
Outside, external influences often upset the balance…this unbalance is called dysbiosis. How we choose to control the external influences determines the delicate balance of good and bad bacteria. It is up to us – we must care for them and understand what can influence them. It is crucial to good health and requires more than a probiotic…which can help or harm your unique microflora depending on the situation.
Factors That Affect the Microbiome:
Food we eat, medications, stress, anxiety, genetics, time spent outdoors, exposure to animals, toxin and chemical exposure, antibiotic use throughout our lives, how we were born — C-section or vaginally — whether we were breast-fed, how much we sleep, and more…impact the microbiome.
For most of us, our guts are a mess…whether we know it or not. An unbalanced gut doesn’t always show up in symptoms of the gut…it can influence development of other illnesses (check out the connection to thyroid), show up in symptoms of the skin, sinuses, weight issues, fatigue, and much more. Our current culture has created a microbiome that looks very different from what nature intended for each of us. So how do we intentionally nourish our gut?
Increase These Foods to Support your Microbiome :
- Eat organic, non-GMO....when possible support and buy from your local organic farmers. These foods are low in pesticides and have not been genetically modified which can alter your flora and damage your intestinal lining, causing leaky gut.
- Mindfully select a rainbow of colorful vegetables and some fruit every day. They will provide fermentable fibers that feed our healthy flora. Aim for at least 1 or more cups with each meal and 3 or more colors per meal!
- Include coconut products like coconut oil, milk, yogurt and kefir. Coconut is filled with medium chain triglycerides which feed the cells lining our intestines and has yeast-killing properties. New to coconut oil? Coat your pan before cooking your eggs or check out my Cauliflower Sweet Potato Mash recipe!
- Incorporate Ghee, which is clarified butter…and dairy free. Ghee is filled with butyrate, a critically-important fatty acid for the care and feeding of cells in our colon.
- Include healthy anti-inflammatory oils and fats. Such as fish, flax, avocado, grapeseed, and olive oil. Look for cold-first pressed organic non GMO oils. For more on choosing quality oils see my blog post. Also include raw nut butters like almond and cashew as well as raw nuts…see my blog on nuts.
- Choose grass-fed, pasture-raised, or free-range organic animals when possible. This will limit the hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides that we are expose our microbes to when eating animals raised in typical feed lots. Also, the meat from grass fed animals have higher quality, anti-inflammatory fats than corn fed animals.
In addition to food, supplements may be needed to support the gut such as digestive enzymes, natural motility agents, pre and probiotics, zinc carnosine, glutamine, magnesium, HCL and betaine…especially those with low stomach acid. Each person is different and has unique and specific needs. You should never start supplements without guidance from a qualified practitioner who can help you use food to work synergistically and ensure there is no contraindication with your medicine or health issues when taking supplements or herbals.
Testing may also be important to consider…whether it be traditional labs, stool cultures, food and environmental sensitivity testing, to help determine root cause to an imbalanced microbiome and provide a roadmap for recovery!
It is Equally Important to Remove These Foods:
- Processed food high in sugar, white flour, baked goods, food dyes and preservatives. These foods and chemicals promote the growth of the wrong kind of bacteria in our gut. This includes fruit juices, dried fruit, and all added sugar or artificial sweeteners except stevia.
- Gluten, dairy, soy, corn (and for some eggs and peanuts). These foods are the most common triggers for reflux, constipation and abdominal discomfort, as well as other non-gut related symptoms.
- Foods high in histamines. Shellfish, processed or smoked meats and sausages, wine. Many people are affected by histamine intolerance caused by the body’s inability to break down histamine in the gut causing crazy allergy reactions. Reactions to histamines can look like allergic reactions, including nasal congestion as well as headaches, dizziness and digestive discomfort.
Since 70-80% of your immune system is in the gut, this makes taking care of the microbiome essential to good health.
Are you struggling with IBS, gastroparesis, GERD, SIBO, chronic constipation, skin issues, sinus troubles, autoimmune disease like Hashimoto’s or Ulcerative Colitis? Then it is time to take action to optimize your microbiome and immune function!
“Everyone has a doctor in him or her: we just have to help it in its work. The natural healing force within each one of us is the greatest force in getting well” -Hippocrates
I would love to partner with you on your journey to heal your gut and care for your microbiome!
Pop as a snack, toss in a salad, swirl into a smoothie, whip to make a cream sauce, or spread on a a cracker….whatever you do, go NUTS!
Nuts are a trendy staple in most diets. Clearly the message is out….nuts are good for us! A frequent question among clients is…which are BEST? Let me be clear, we are not talking about the nuts covered in chocolate, sugar, and salt, but instead raw or soaked :). All nuts do have benefits due to fiber, magnesium, and healthy fats, however, some do have a little advantage. Most of us should be mindful to enjoy a variety of nuts and seeds in order to capitalize on the health benefits and versatility. If you haven’t joined the nut craze…it is time to go NUTS! (ps. If you can’t tolerate whole nuts, ALL can be made into “nut butter”!)
Top Nuts To Include For Ultimate Benefits!
Here is my basic ranking of nuts if I had to put them in order. One thing to consider… avoid eating only one type of nut (like almonds), or you will miss out on the essential nutrients and balance the other nuts provide. Branch out and explore a variety of options for your daily intake. Let your creativity shine!
- Walnuts: In folk medicine, walnuts were thought to be the best brain food because of their distinctively brain-like appearance. They are an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 essential fatty acids, in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). One of the few plant sources of omega 3’s to help keep our ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 stay in check. Both 3’s and 6’s are important but we want more of the Omega 3’s! Walnuts are rich in antioxidants, a very good source of manganese, copper, molybdenum, and the B vitamin biotin. Toss in oatmeal, roast them with a bit of sea salt and maple syrup. If you don’t like the taste whirl into your smoothie. Check out my favorite nut mix below.
- Pistachios: You may be surprised by pick #2. Aside from being a great source of protein, fiber, and heart-healthy fats…pistachios are excellent if you are prone to stress eating. Shelling them gives your hands something to do which can have a very soothing, calming effect on the mind—and the appetite! Also, you can enjoy the greatest amount of nuts per serving (about 49 nuts) with pistachios than any other nut. Check out these amazingly fun and delicious pistachio recipes!
- Brazil nuts: Often these are the unsung hero of the nut bowl since Brazil nuts are packed with selenium, a mineral rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This nut contains more selenium than any other food in a small amount. It is important for reproductive health, thyroid function, and has been shown to improve mood, and decrease anxiety. Brazil nuts are commonly eaten raw or blanched and are also high in protein, fiber, thiamine, copper and magnesium. Two a day is like a superfood supplement, but you can overdo it! So let this nut complement the nut bowl, not overshadow it! Keep in mind that the amount of selenium in Brazil nuts differs greatly depending where they are grown.
- Cashews: Particularly rich in copper and magnesium. Copper plays a role in iron utilization in the body and magnesium is important for regulating muscle and nerve function, along with blood sugar control. They are also super versatile and are able to be used as a cheese (for those that can’t tolerate dairy), cream sauce, milk, and so much more. Cashews offer people trying to kick dairy a delicious alternative. Think outside the box and check out this delicious Cashew Garlic and Herb Cheese!
- Almonds: Most clients expect me to name this as the top nut since it seems we have gone almond crazed these days between almond butter, almond milk, almond creamer, almond flour, almond tea….do I need to go on? Some of us may need a break from this nut. However, it has wonderful qualities besides taste…almonds contain vitamin E which assists in achieving healthy, glowy skin, improves immune function, and protects the body from oxidative damage. Almonds also contain magnesium, calcium, and folate. Like most nuts, they are also high in monounsaturated fat which reduces inflammation and lowers risk of heart disease. Try them raw or roasted, processed into a nut butter, pulsed into a flour, or rough chopped and tossed in a salad.
- Pecans: I find it interesting how few client eat pecans and perceive them as unhealthy. Perhaps it it because we associate pecans with pie and ice-cream;)! However, this nut contains about 19 different vitamins and minerals as well as antioxidants! The monounsaturated fats in pecans may help improve your cholesterol profile, and they actually contain three times the flavonoids (a type of antioxidants) of almonds and 10 times that of walnuts! Toast and toss in a green salad or quinoa salad. Check out these recipes for a twist on some of your favorites!
If you are stuck on only eating almonds or walnuts….GO NUTS and get out there and explore the vast world of nuts. Be sure to chew well to get all the health benefits. Nuts may be hard to digest and full of insoluble fiber…so if YOU don’t break them down yourself (chew, chew,chew) , they will go through you partially digested and you will not get the full benefit of nutrients to absorb!
Remember…it is not what you EAT but what you ABSORB!
Leave a comment and let me know YOUR best way to include nuts….
….share a recipe or best “nutty secret”.
Here is my favorite snack to get my anti-inflammatory, fiber and magnesium punch for the day!
Till next time! Julie
Julie’s Favorite Snack Mix:
- Mix together 1/4 cup raw almonds, 1/4 cup walnuts, 1/4 pumpkin seeds + 1/3 cup goji berries. Mix together in bowl and toss into mini mason jars for a snack on the go!
(Add in’s: raisins, dark chocolate chips, sesame seeds, cereal, or whatever you love)
Ever wonder why everyone seems to be taking medicine for thyroid or gut related issues?
Over 20 million people in the United States have some form of a thyroid condition, and up to 60% are unaware that they have a condition. One in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder during her lifetime. The number of people suffering from thyroid disorders continues to rise each year.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), where the body doesn’t make enough thyroid hormone, is one of the most common thyroid disorders. It may be characterized by weight gain, constipation, dry skin, hair loss, brain fog, depression, memory loss, intolerance, hoarse voice, fatigue, muscle weakness and pain, and wide range of other unpleasant symptoms.
The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which are secreted into the blood and then get carried to every tissue in the body. Every cell in the body has receptors for thyroid hormones. These hormones are responsible for the most basic aspects of our body’s function, impacting all major systems. They directly act on the brain, the GI tract, the cardiovascular system, bone metabolism, red blood cell metabolism, gallbladder and liver function, steroid hormone production, glucose metabolism, lipid and cholesterol metabolism, protein metabolism, and body temperature regulation. Optimal thyroid function is essential to good health.
I work with clients experiencing clinical and subclinical symptoms of hypothyroidism, but are told by their doctor that their thyroid function is fine based on one or two labs drawn each year. Using a functional and integrative nutrition approach, I help clients get to the root cause of their health issues. Often this involves looking deeper at their biochemistry and lab work to identify IF their thyroid function is contributing to their issues.
What you may not realize is the connection of poor gut health to the health of your thyroid?
Specializing in gut related disorders, it is routine for me to work with clients who have chronic IBS, gastroparesis, leaky gut, celiac disease and Crohn’s who also have a thyroid condition. Many years ago, I always wondered why this seemed to be the case. Now the research is clear… gut bacteria plays a major role in regulating the thyroid.
Bacteria is necessary in converting the inactive thyroid hormone T4 into the active form of thyroid hormone, T3. About 20% of T4 is converted to T3 in the GI tract…this requires an important enzyme called intestinal sulfatase. Guess where this enzyme comes from: yep you guessed it….healthy gut bacteria!
Intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance between pathogenic (bad bacteria) and beneficial bacteria in the gut, significantly reduces the conversion to T3. Also, low stomach acid is all too common in those over 50, individuals taking antacids (PPI’s), and is a very common condition in those who have gut issues. Inflammation in the gut also reduces T3 by raising cortisol. Cortisol decreases active T3 levels while increasing levels of inactive T3. Intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, can be an underlying cause of autoimmune related thyroiditis (when the thyroid is attacking its own tissue). Essentially, there is a breakdown in the gut barrier which exposes the bloodstream to harmful foreign molecules. The immune system reacts an inflammatory response, and can eventually lead to a mistaken immune attack on the body’s tissues, like the thyroid gland. This autoimmune condition is thought to be related to 80-90% of the cases of hypothyroidism, the most common of which is Hashimoto’s.
Often individuals with poor gut function may have thyroid symptoms but “normal lab results”. Often because only a TSH and/or Total T4 lab value are checked (not that important T3!). So what can YOU do to be proactive if you think you may have signs/sympotms of a failing thyroid?
Here are tests you want to make sure you have done to rule out any underlying thyroid condition:
- Discuss with your doctor having a comprehensive thyroid panel done that includes: TSH, T3, T4, Free T4, Free T3, Reverse T3, and thyroid antibodies.
Toxins, infections and certain foods act as triggers, while other foods and some supplements can reduce autoimmunity. If detected in the early stages, there is much you can do to optimize the health of your thyroid. However, it is important to know that each person is unique. The thyroid is not always that straightforward, a personalized approach needs to be taken. Here are some basics!
8 Basic Tips For a Healthy Thyroid:
- Heal the Gut & Cut Out Inflammatory Foods: This will look different for each person based on the situation. However, it is important to identify the cause of your gut related issue. This involves identifying and removing inflammatory foods. Gluten (see below) and dairy are common…dairy especially if you are experiencing sinus like issues, migraines, post-nasal drip, and diarrhea. Refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, and processed artificial foods are also inflammatory! Specific food sensitivities are common and testing may be necessary. (Food Sensitivity Testing used at JBS). Next it is essential to rebalance the gut with healthy bacteria, restore the integrity of the lining of the gut, and feed it with food and supplements that will help the gut thrive.
- Eat protein: Although a vegan eating plan may work for some, it is not typically best for those who suffer from a thyroid condition. This is because two essential nutrients are needed for thyroid function, zinc and selenium. (A deficiency can prompt a thyroid condition). These nutrients play a role in the important conversion from T4 to T3. Low protein diets (or only plant based protein) often doesn’t provide enough. Selenium and zinc can both be found in animal protein sources (fish, chicken, turkey, beef). Brazil nuts are highest in selenium…some practitioners may recommend 2 Brazil nuts/day to meet the recommended dose. (However, depending on the source of the nut, amounts can vary.)
- Don’t Overdo The Cruciferous Veggies: Avoid large amounts of cruciferous and brassica vegetables (cabbage, turnips, Brussels sprouts, rutabagas, broccoli, cauliflower, and bok choy). Although healthy and full of nutrition and essential vitamins and minerals, they can be goitrogenic (form goiters in the thyroid) for some people when consumed in excessive amounts. Steaming or cooking these foods briefly to reduce their goitrogenic effect is a good idea, instead of eating them raw. For those who enjoy juicing, be mindful about how many different cruciferous vegetables are in your juice. (Even Dr. Oz admitted he had to cut back on juicing after developing signs of hypothyroidism!)
- Avoid Gluten: Gluten-free really isn’t a fad. Gluten-containing foods can increase inflammation in the body and has been shown to have a connection with autoimmune disease. It’s common that when people have one autoimmune condition like celiac disease, they are at risk for another autoimmune condition like Hashimotos. I have seen patients with elevated thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TBO) improve symptoms and actually feel much better after following a strict gluten-free diet. Be mindful not to overindulge in too many gluten-free processed products…go for naturally gluten free foods.
- Skip the Soy: Isoflavones found in soy may hinder thyroid function. Large amounts of soy products can aggravate hyperthyroidism and iodine deficiency in adults. This again is where some vegetarians may run into trouble if they replace meat with numerous soy products: soy milk, soy yogurt, and tofu. After a while everything is processed and can slowly negatively affect your thyroid if you already have a genetic predisposition. Also read food labels and be aware of how much soy may be lurking in your foods…such as mayo, condiments, snack foods, and more!
- Include Healthy Carbs: Carbs do get a bad rap, but some people may not be getting enough. To my paleo and ketogenic friends, you can actually worsen your thyroid function if you strictly limit your carbohydrates. Your body perceives you are in starvation mode and the thyroid is the first hormone that becomes jeopardized. Carbohydrates promote the release of insulin, and insulin is required for proper thyroid hormone metabolism. Excessively limiting carbs has its consequences on your thyroid. Everything in moderation. Consider complimenting meals with small amounts of carbs such a fruit, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, root vegetables, and brown rice.
- Remove Environmental Toxins: There are so many chemicals in products we use every day that are toxic to the thyroid and our bodies in general. Things that we assume are safe are not! Things like personal care items, cosmetics, cheap supplements, cleaning products, plug ins, air freshener, and detergents all contain toxins. (Check out 12 – ingredients to avoid). Some people are more sensitive than others, but for those with thyroid issues… it is essential. Personal care and cosmetic products contain endocrine disruptors like fragrance, parabens, petroleum distilattes, and more. Also consider switching to safer cleaning products. (DIY HouseHold Cleaners)
- Focus on Stress Management: This may be the most important step! Stress impacts the thyroid in multiple ways, especially when cortisol levels rise or fall. It also reduces that conversion again of T4 and T3…and so much more as it works on other glands like the pituitary and the hypothalamus, critical to the thyroid function. If stress is an issue consider taking mindful steps to reduce it. Consider mindful breathing exercises, yoga, tai chi, counseling, exercise, etc. Make time in your life to foster healthy relationships that bring you joy and connection.
Lifestyle change is essential! If you are planning to take steps to improve your thyroid, take it one step at at time. For me, I started with food, then began to take inventory of my exposure and next took steps to eliminate toxins and exposure in my environment. Remember, each person is unique and a personalized plan is needed.
If you think your thyroid may not be functioning optimally, or you have gut related struggles and display typical signs and symptoms….I would love to hear from you!
Take steps TODAY to reclaim your health and achieve your wellness goals!
On the Journey together! ~ Julie 😉
Do you have a LOVE AFFAIR with chocolate….did you wake up this Valentine’s Day morning with IT on your mind…knowing TODAY is your day to indulge? You are not alone…the world’s love affair with chocolate has grown over the years. Americans consume around 18 billion dollars worth of chocolate every year, with dark chocolate being the greatest trend due to its rich and intense alternative. This has certainly peeked the creativity of culinary artists experimenting with new ways to include dark chocolate in almost any form of food.
So the real question…..are there really benefits of dark chocolate…and what type and how much?
REJOICE dark chocolate lovers…the answer is YES! But only with awareness and mindfulness may you truly reap the health benefit. It is important to consider the source, type, and how it is made since dark chocolate can be high in unhealthy fat, sugar, pesticides, preservatives, and food coloring/dyes.
Fortunately...savoring small amounts of quality (preferably organic) dark chocolate (~1.5-2oz) that is minimally processed and contains 75-95% of cacao will deliver health benefits!
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
- Improve your MOOD: The high amount of polyphenols found in chocolate are phytochemicals shown to improve depression, anxiety, and other symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome. A recent study showed that performance on cognitive test significally improved in elderly individuals with mild cognitive impairment if they consumed a cacao drink continuing high levels of flavonols for 8 weeks, compared to those who consumed a drink low in flavonols. (Flavonols are a member of the polyphenol family found in natural plant food sources.)
- Acts like a probiotic in your GUT: Your healthy bacteria in your gut loves to eat chocolate too! Nutrients found in chocolate, such as the polyphenols, antioxidants, and fiber are not easily digestible. However, when good bacteria feeds on the fiber, compounds that are smaller, better absorbed, and non-inflammatory are released. This can impact the inflammation that occurs in cardiovascular tissue and why is is thought to help the heart.
- Can help your HEART health: The heart is really where it’s at when it comes to benefit. Research shows that the flavoinds in chocolate can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids can also significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy older adults. It may also help improve insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction, both of which have a positive effect on the heart. A study published in JAMA found that those who ate chocolate twice a week who previously suffered a heart attack, compared to those who never ate chocolate, had a 66% lower risk of death from heart disease! (Remember folks…moderation! Chocolate alone won’t save your heart!)
- May stimulate your BRAIN to help you be more alert and attentive: Did you know that a good afternoon “pick me up” just may be the dark chocolate you are avoiding? A square or two of dark chocolate (remember, the darker the better) can have a significant stimulatory effect on the brain, which can make you more alert and attentive. Although researchers are not quite sure why, cocoa has this type of effect on the brain that researchers do know increases the occipital beta EEG readings, which corresponds directly with attention and alertness. (See below Cacao vs. Cocoa.) One of my favorite afternoon pick-me ups: Mix of raw almond, pumpkin seeds, goji berries, and cocoa nips!
So we know the ganache and fruit filled truffles and organic dark chocolate bars peppered with candies and sweetened dried fruit is not your ticket to good health! But instead a good quality dark chocolate will literally have an impact from head to toe.
(Check out the AMAZING truffle recipe below full of benefit this Valentine’s Day and beyond!)
CACAO VS. COCOA
What’s the difference between cacao and cocoa?
In a nutshell, cacao is the purest form of chocolate we can consume (and the best). It’s derived from the Theobroma Cacao, which translates to “Food of the Gods.” The cocoa bean is the basis of all chocolate and cocoa products, including cacao nibs. Every chocolate maker has a secret roasting formula of time and temperature to bring out a unique set of flavors from the bean. When the bean is cracked open and the papery husk is removed, the cacao nib comes into being.
Cacao contains more than 300 compounds, including protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, iron, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. Cacao is also high in sulfur, which helps form strong nails and hair.
Cocoa powder is basically finely ground cacao nibs, making them another minimally processed alternative to dark chocolate bars. You can sprinkle cocoa powder on foods, add it to smoothies, or use it to make hot chocolate or brain-healthy dark chocolate snacks and desserts. Avoid cocoa powder that is labeled “Dutch” chocolate or lists alkali in its ingredients. The alkalization process destroys cocoa’s flavonoids — antioxidant, anti-inflammatory compounds that provide many of cocoa’s health benefits.
My 2 favorite brands for organic cacao nips and cocoa powder is Natives Naturals and Sunfoods Superfoods!
VALENTINE’S DAY TREAT (with Benefits)
Self-love starts with taking care of our body…even during the holiday season;). BUT make sure that food is still delicious and indulgent. I have been looking for an inspirational treat to share with you to keep you eating healthy, but loving every minute of it. Known as Canada’s Spice Queen, organic spice purveyor, and founder of Spice Sanctuary, Trusha Patel shared one amazing recipe (I am actually making it RIGHT NOW) and I wanted to share it with you!
High in protein from cashew butter and almond flour, sweetened with B6 and iron-rich blackstrap molasses (although I prefer using 100% maple syrup), covered in heart-healthy and antioxidant-rich dark chocolate and infused with a super balanced spice blend traditionally used to make golden milk or a turmeric latte, these Golden Milk Dark Chocolate Truffles will definitely do the trick.
Turmeric is always a key ingredient in making Golden Milk and revered for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and liver cleansing properties and definitely a spice we should all be consuming more of. (We sure do in my 10-Day Detox program!).However, turmeric does need to be used in a specific way for it to be properly absorbed and utilized by the body. Use with black pepper (but not if you have an ulcer or gastritis) and a good fat such as coconut oil. I love this recipe for Valentine’s Day since she has added both anti-inflammatory AND aphrodisiac spices into the recipe ….cardamom and ginger! …Oh my!
GOLDEN DARK CHOCOLATE TRUFFLES
(Recipe from Trusha Patel, founder of the Spice Sanctuary)
- ¼ cup cashew butter
- ¼ cup almond flour
- 2 tsp. blackstrap molasses (or substitute maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional but makes the truffles sweeter)
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder*
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder*
- pinch of black pepper*
- OR ¾ teaspoon Golden Milk Spice Blend from Spice Sanctuary*
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 40 grams good-quality organic dark chocolate, melted
1. To make the truffle filling, mix cashew butter, almond flour, and molasses in a bowl using a fork or electric whisk.
2. In another bowl, combine the coconut oil and spices and mix well before adding into the cashew butter mixture and folding it in thoroughly.
3. Take a small spoonful into your hand and roll the mixture into a round ball, approximately half an inch in diameter, and place on baking parchment on a tray. Repeat until all the mixture has been rolled. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
4. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. Using a spoon, dip the truffles into the melted chocolate before returning to the tray again. Repeat until all the truffles have been covered in chocolate. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes and serve.
The chocolates are best stored in the fridge in an airtight container and best eaten within a few days…which shouldn’t be a problem at all.
Happy Valentine’s Day & Heart Month!
Cheers to Indulgent Healthful Bliss,
ps. drop me a line and share YOUR favorite dark chocolate recipe or treat!
Are you still suffering from holiday or vacation remorse… with a little extra around the middle and lack of energy and motivation? Since the start of the New Year, I have heard from clients beating themselves up over overindulging in 2016. I am going to encourage you to look forward (not back!) and commit to making 2017 a year of good health and positivity. Give yourself grace and space to make healthful change possible. Consider setting aside the next week to get your digestive system (and health) back on track.
Start now to fast track your way to meeting YOUR wellness goals in 2017!
Consider initiating all or several of these steps over the next week.
- Begin the day with a large glass of water with lemon: Stock up on fresh lemons (or limes) and squeeze a generous amount into your 8-12oz. glass of water first thing when you wake. For ultimate digestion and bowel movement add to warm water. This will help stimulate your liver function and kick-start digestion. In addition, it provides a dose of vitamin C and refreshment.
- Banish added sugar, alcohol, red meat, fast food, and bread: These are known causes of inflammation and gut distress. Replace with whole unprocessed foods that you love and will love you back …choose foods that are not packaged and come from the Earth!
- Commit to cooking at home: Have you seriously thought about where your food comes from and who prepared it? Hidden calories, food additives, oxidized oils are often hiding in food prepared by restaurants, deli’s, and fast food. Eating at home gives you control over quality ingredients, calories, and portion sizes. Cooking can also be a relaxing activity that you can enjoy with your loved ones. (I once knew a CEO of a major hospital who took time to prepare meals with family…making time to cook has to be a priority for it to happen!)
- Take time for gratitude and meditation: Meditation is a gentle, effective way to cleanse your mind and body. Meditation can also help curb food cravings, put you in touch with how your body is feeling, and ground you in order to help develop new, healthier habits. Try meditating for 10 to 20 minutes each day. Need a fun and non-threatening introduction – try this app.
- Replace coffee with herbal tea: Give the coffee and caffeine a rest and try some herbal teas. Sipping on teas that contain ginger and dandelion have the added benefit of supporting your digestion while flushing out toxins. Two of my favorites from Traditional Medicines are the Ginger Aid and Roasted Dandelion.
- Do a mini fast overnight: Aim to finish dinner by 7 p.m….and eat breakfast around 7am; this will give you approximately 12 hours in between meals. This can function as a miniature fast. Intermittent fasting can give an overworked digestive system a rest and can cleanse the liver, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.
- Move at least 3-4x/week: Exercise helps stimulate digestion and mental clarity. You don’t have to start your new year cardio plan just yet; even light yoga or a brisk walk around the block will help revive your digestive system.
- Set aside time for self-care: Carve out time for YOU – you are important. Take baths, read a novel, do restorative yoga, or treat yourself to a massage or acupuncture. Taking time to care for your body will help balance life and provide perspective.
- Consider digestive support: If you tend to have delayed gastric emptying (sluggish digestion) or low stomach acid, you may benefit from digestive enzymes or digestive support to help optimize breakdown and absorption of food.
What is holding you back from taking time to take care of your digestion and health? YOU are important. Don’t wait, commit TODAY to following these tips for 1 week to reset your digestion!
Optimal digestive function is essential to good health; as well as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight and energy level.
Cheers! Julie 🙂
These steps and so much more… are part of my 10-Day guided Detox program designed to optimize your body’s natural process of detoxification. This allows key organs such as your liver, kidneys, and gut to function at their best!
(ps. If you missed the program that just kicked off this month….I will be offering it again in the Spring – come join us!)
At the start of the New Year millions of Americans will turn their focus to weight loss. With that, often comes the commitment to eliminate certain foods from their diet. However, when it comes to good health, it isn’t always all about the food. Many other habits may be holding you back from achieving your goals…more than just that slice of chocolate cake! Here are several habits to consider eliminating in 2017 to have the healthiest year yet!
- Negative Self-Talk: Too often we “speak to ourselves” in ways we would never speak to our children, spouse, or anyone else. Women especially find it easy to extend grace to others, but very difficult to be kind to themselves. Your self-talk can deeply impact your emotional and physical health…not to mention your progress towards your goals. Positive self-talk is a conscious choice. You are ENOUGH, you are BEAUTIFUL, and you are CAPABLE! Start to mindfully give yourself more compliments, acknowledge your strengths, and when you find yourself turning toward negativity…re-route your thoughts to positivity!
- Foods You Hate: As a dietitian, I am passionate about my clients discovering foods they love to eat that will support their wellness goals. Too often I have people forcing down kale (or another “superfood” they think is the “best choice”) leaving them unhappy and unsatisfied. This often leads to overindulging in something less healthy later on. If you are not eating healthful foods that you enjoy, you likely will not meet your health goals. For a sustainable healthy diet, experiment with other foods to find out what you do love…. you will be healthier for it!
- Perfectionism: Striving to achieve a goal is awesome, striving for perfection is unhealthy. Giving yourself unrealistic or unattainable goals is detrimental to your mental and physical health. The desire for perfectionism can have many different causes. Often getting to the root cause (especially if it is impacting your life) can be essential to good health. A coach or a therapist can be valuable. Try to focus your energy on progress and appreciating the journey closer to your goal…vs. perfectionist.
- Calorie Counting: As a dietitian, I feel strongly about avoiding this all together! To often this creates a negative relationship with food. Research is clear that weight loss is not just calories in and calories out. It is important to look at food as fuel for the body, mind, and spirit to help equip you to do the things you love. It needs to be positive. There are other ways to monitor food intake to help you stay on track with your goals. One way is balancing the macronutrients in your diet – protein, fats, and carbohydrates.
- Mindlessness: Mindful eating and living for some individuals can be the “agent for change” they are looking for. Be mindful about when, how, and why you are eating. Bring your thoughts to the present so you can be more productive and focused. Plan meals and snacks in advance and avoiding distractions when eating. Set boundaries around your sleep schedule and time with family and friends. These are all ways to be more mindful and intentional that will help you be aware of your action and set you up for success.
- Stress That is Bringing You Down: Whether you have clinical anxiety or you have been stressing too much in 2016, this can compromise your overall health. Stress can be a strong contributor to weight gain, digestive problems, physical pain, skin issues, bloating, and more! Take time to consider what is driving your stress and consider self-care practices such as massage, acupuncture, diffusing essential oils…or team up with a good therapist.
- Your #1 Holding You Back: Most of us can identify key areas, if not our #1, holding us back from truly unleashing our full potential and achieving our goals. What is keeping you from being your best self and living life abundantly? Fear, anxiety, a job that drains your energy, an unhealthy relationship? Let it GO! Remove yourself from people who don’t support you or encourage you; consider making changes in your job or find a new one; let go of unnecessary obligations that keep you from focusing on your goals. Find resources and help if you feel helpless to make changes on your own so you can live your full potential!
I believe 2017 can be your YEAR TO SHINE!
Get out there and eliminate the things holding you back. Give yourself GRACE; be KIND to you and others; BELIEVE you can achieve your goals: expect set-backs; APPRECIATE the journey….and most of all DON’T GIVE UP!
Searching for guidance, support, motivation, and inspiration to achieve optimal health…I would love to hear from you!
Need a jump start…it’s not too late to join my 10-Day Guided Detox that kicks off on January 21st!
Let’s make 2017 Amazing! Julie
HAPPY NEW YEAR! As we get ready to kick off the new year with our goals and aspirations for 2017, I took some time to reflect on the past year. I like to look back as I determine my top areas to focus on moving ahead. I thought it would be fun to reflect on my top favorite ” foodie finds” from 2016 that I have fallen in love with and now can’t live without!
Check out my top 8….then leave a comment and share your “favorite food finds” that support your wellness goals.
ps…and if you give one of my top 8 a try…. come back and share your thoughts!
- I Love Beets: No more excuses of why you can’t indulge in all the benefits of beets! Toss in smoothies, slice on salads, eat as a snack….options are endless . Despite this little gem as my “go to”….I do still prefer getting my organic beets and roasting them…especially this time of year when they are local and in season! But let’s face it, sometimes life calls for a little convenience! (ps. if you saw my cake recipe in the last newsletter – these work great!)
- Braggs 24 Herbs & Spices Seasonings: I have tried so many spice blends but am often less than pleased with lack of flavor or versatility to use with a wide range of foods. This blend seems to be great on anything…sprinkled on salads, dips, added to dressings, mixed with roasted or steamed veggies, added to soups! Not only is this blend delicious, but adds a punch of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to your meals… a win-win in my book!
- Clean Soups by Rebecca Katz: If you want to master delicious soups filled with amazing flavor and ingredients… this is the book for you! This goes beyond your basic soup cookbook and gives the true meaning of “food as medicine” in each and every recipe. Colleague and culinary guru, Rebecca Katz, is known for her amazing gift of of healing and health for those impacted by cancer. From broths and stocks, blended soups, to more hearty soups…each recipe is perfected to brilliance! (I include many of her recipes in my 10-Day ECF Detox – perfect for gut-healing and detoxifying!)
- Good Karma Flaxmilk with Vanilla: I admit… 12 years ago when I had to give up milk, it was hard. But when I switched to organic soy milk, it seemed to fit the bill for all my needs for years. However, due to my own health issues and concerns with soy… last year I said goodbye to my daily soy milk and switched to organic coconut and almond milk. The downside to the change is no protein, and I didn’t like either in my coffee. After trying almost everything, while refusing to go with sweetened creamers… I found cold-pressed flaxseed milk. It was the right creaminess with the extra protein and now a regular staple!
- Cardamom: It wasn’t until the past 2 years that I had been introduced to this amazing spice.Related to ginger (another favorite) it can be used to combat nausea, acidity, bloating, gas, heartburn, loss of appetite, constipation, and more. This spice helps the body eliminate waste through the kidneys, and why I will use this in my detox regimens. I would love to say I am uber creative with this spice, but mainly I toss it in teas, hot cereals, pancakes mixes, and have used as a rub for chicken! Check out more about benefits of cardamom! If you don’t have this spice in your cabinet…perhaps it’s time to jump on the bandwagon.
- Organic Red Lentil Rotini: Non-GMO, organic, gluten free, high in fiber (11 grams), high in protein (21 g), rich in minerals and essential vitamins, cholesterol free…..and cooks in 8-10 minutes! Besides the fact it is in a box (but is recyclable)….you can’t go wrong with this product when it comes to nutrition benefits. Taste is great and since it is so high in protein, it makes a super fast meal paired with veggies and your favorite sauce. Try homemade marinara or pesto… or my new favorite – Creamy Avocado Pasta!
- Avocado Oil: This has been the year of avocado for me. I can’t get enough… and almost panic if I am without…avocado in smoothies, avocado cream sauce, dressings, and now oil! I love using this in place of my EVOO when roasting veggies, making dressings, and sautéing at high heat when making stir fry (Check out my blog – are you hurting your health by choosing the wrong oil!) Be sure to look for cold-pressed and non-GMO.
- Truly’s All Natural Deodorant: OK, so I know this is not “food”. However, with only 4 ingredients (organic coconut oil, organic powdered sugar, baking soda, and beeswax) it practically qualifies. (grin). I had to share due to my enthusiasm. My 2 year search for an all-natural deodorant (that works!) in order to avoid the toxic aluminum and other ingredients has ended. Numerous bottles can be found in my drawers that failed to deliver anything close to my clinical strength deodorant. This was the BEST find of 2016 for me. Works perfectly and covers me in any and all sweaty and stressful circumstances. Truly’s is my new “true love” for my personal hygiene needs!
Do you want to achieve your wellness dreams in 2017… beat the bloat, lose the weight, regain control of your health, renew your vitality, discover the root cause of your health struggles? If so, give me a call. I would love to hear about your wellness dreams and help you discover abundant health in the New Year!
In the meantime, leave a comment about YOUR favorite 2016 FOODIE finds!
Wishing you a healthy and vibrant 2017! Julie
Here it is again – the importance of SLEEP! Around the holidays is often a time to skimp on sleep. But it is the MOST important time to be proactive and make sleep a sacred part of your wellness routine. The stressors of holidays can take a toll on our health without time to rest and recharge.
Before your head sinks into the pillow at bedtime, there are some very simple things you can do to prepare mind and body for a night of deeply restful sleep. The evening hours are a time when the busyness of your day should begin to wind down. It’s important to create a bedtime ritual that will help tame the thoughts that may still be racing through your mind and which can prevent you from falling or staying asleep throughout the night.
In addition to the lifestyle tips for better sleep that are described in my blog- Sleep – Essential to Mind-Body , try adding some of the following naturopathic and holistic approaches to your evening routine.
7 Strategies to Support Sleep
- Enjoy a warm bath including Epsom salts and/or lavender oil. Diffuse essential oils while bathing or in the bedroom. (Check out Natural Partners for discount on essential oils and diffusers)
- Consider adding a quality magnesium glycinate – this type of magnesium is well absorbed and particularly good for aiding in sleep since over 50-75% of us are deficient!
- Listen to the relaxing sounds of ocean waves, classical music, or chimes. There are specialized acoustic recordings that are orchestrated to affect specific brain wave patterns for relaxation or sleep.
- A guided recording of progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing exercises, restorative yoga poses, can help the body create the ‘relaxation response’.
- Herbs and other botanical or aromatherapy treatments are useful for calming down after a stressful day. Lavender used topically or diffused in your bedroom can be effective. Try a cup of chamomile tea. Additional teas and tinctures may be effective such as valerian, passionflower, or lemon balm.
- Try meditation, beginning with just 10 minutes a day. Meditation has numerous health benefits and recent studies show it can significantly affect quality of sleep. (Check out a user-friendly introduction with 10 minute/day – HeadSpace)
- Be sure to have your vitamin D and B-vitamin levels checked annually. Both can contribute to poor sleep due to underlying deficiencies!
Do not undermine the importance of sleep when it comes to your health. If you have difficulty concentrating, feel anxious during the day, can’t lose the extra 5 pounds, and have trouble managing stress…check in with the amount and quality of sleep you get each night.
If you are not getting 7-9 hours of sleep, it is time to make a change!
Remember, without adequate sleep….all the healthy lifestyle changes you make will have little impact on your health.
Make it a priority to rest and reboot for amazing health!
ps. Need some support to individualize an effective plan that is right for you? Contact me.… jump start your New Year with amazing health!
One of my favorite ways to concentrate on sleep and rest is through my 10 day Detox challenge!