Guts are like fingerprints. No two are alike.
The gut is a fascinating place. There are so many things that we just don't know about it. Humans have just touched on the surface of what really happens inside the gut. There is so much information out there about gut health that it can be overwhelming. Companies latch on to the word gut to try to sell you things you may or may not really need because it is such a hot topic right now.
I want to turn down all that noise for you and give you some information that you can feel confident with. So that you can have regular bowel movements, less constipation/loose stool, increased energy, glowing skin and more.
One of the things that we do know is that if you feed your body foods that it needs and you absorb them properly, your body will benefit from the nutrients. If your body cannot absorb these nutrients properly then these nutrients will be less effective. Why is this?
Our gut has 75-125 trillion bacteria living inside of it. If we don't have enough of the "good" kind, we can host a breeding ground for unproductive bacteria, mold, fungus, viruses and more nasty little buggers.
What also can create problems in the gut is a lack of hydrochloric acid (HCl). Initial digestion of food starts in the mouth but when it reaches the stomach HCl is what helps it break down (especially protein based foods). We can become deficient in HCl from stress, eating junky foods, too much meat/heavy proteins, toxins, fat and sugar combinations and prescription drugs. When there is not enough HCl to break down the food then by the time it reaches the lower intestine it starts to rot and putrefy. The rotting is what creates discomfort and bloating (but sometimes no symptoms at all!). The good HCl is greatly reduced and bad acid takes over. If you experience acid reflux, it is these "bad acids" coming up (not the good HCl), but sometimes it is also mucus coming up (as the gut lining starts to create a lot of mucus to protect itself from these bad acids).
If you are low in HCl and your food is rotting in your large intestine, it sucks. Why does it suck? Because the food that is rotting is creating a toxic ammonia gas that floats into your bloodstream which then goes throughout the body creating fatigue, anxiety, skin problems, poor sleep and more.
Have you ever been put on a candida diet by a healthcare professional to help with these aforementioned symptoms? They mean well but I am here to tell you that candida is not what is causing your problems. Time and again I see people on these diets (myself years ago too) and they just don't work because it isn't candida causing problems. People struggle so much on a candida protocol and it is for no good! I know because I have been there too.
Our gut is our centre. It is where the diseases and the illnesses stem from. If your gut is not functioning in pure health then we really start to see all sorts of health issues arise. Anytime I work with a client the first thing I look at is the gut. Whether they are seeing me to help clear up their skin, lose weight, balance their cycle, get pregnant, reduce anxiety or get more energy I always look at the gut first because everything starts there.
If you are someone that is experiencing gut issues, or symptoms that may be resulting from gut issues, don't fear. There are things you can do to help balance it out again so that you can function and be your most vibrant self. There is not one protocol that will work for everyone as we are all different. The strains of bacteria living inside of us are all different, depending on where we live, what we eat, how we take care of ourselves. But there are things that we can all do that seem to help bring back the balance.
First of them is celery juice. As simple as it sounds, celery juice is amazing because of the way it strengthens the digestion of the foods you eat throughout the day. Drink 16oz of freshly juiced organic celery first thing in the morning and let me know how you feel in a month (or how your bowels are doing!). Personally I feel so vibrant and alive as soon as I consume it.
It is also important to remove toxic heavy metals from the gut so it can function properly. We all have toxins because of our lifestyles and our toxic world. Foods that are amazing at getting rid of all those toxins are wild blueberries, spirulina, cilantro, parsley, garlic and red clover blossoms. It is also incredibly important to eat lots of fibre to help bind the toxins and take them out of the body. So eat your greens, whole grains and beans!
Drink enough water. Water is very important in keeping your colon hydrated so that we don't become constipated. Ensuring that you are drinking unchlorinated water is important so use a filtration system.
Medicinal mushrooms can also be of value. Cordyceps can help with liver function and detoxification and assist overall digestion. Turkeytail is also useful for the digestive process. I like blending my mushroom powder in a smoothie.
Looking for something else that is a good digestive drink? I love lemon balm tea for the adrenals to calm the body and promote peace. But I especially love it for its help with the gut. Lemon balm can help calm nerve receptors in the digestive tract.
Dealing with gut issues can cause your good bacteria to die which inflames the ileum (final part of the small intestine) which can cause the body to stop making vitamin B12. B12 is super important for keeping the body's nervous system healthy so I often suggest B12 as a supplement when rebuilding the gut's flora.
What you can also do to rebuild your gut flora? Stop purchasing yogurt that contains "probiotics" because you are just wasting your money. Most of the microorganisms in products that claim to have probiotics die before they even get where they need to go. The best way to rebuild your flora is to eat unwashed (or lightly rinsed) organic fruits and vegetables (straight from the garden is key) because they contain the best micro-organisms that you can get, right on their skin/leaves. This can be a bit tricky in cold winter climates so grow your own sprouts as these are top level for beneficial bacteria. You can also take a quality probiotic from the health food store, but eating these organic fruits and vegetables are the first step.
Things to stop doing? Stop eating so much meat as it is really difficult on the digestive system. Try to avoid prescription meds as much a possible. Avoid junky foods. And try to stop racing around while you eat. Sitting and enjoying a meal and connecting with your food helps the digestive process in ways that you can't even imagine.
Along with that, don't forget that our feelings and our digestion are directly linked. Ever felt nervous about something and get really loose stool? Ever felt so sad you couldn't eat? Yup, directly linked. In Ayurveda, "Samana Vayu" is the energy enabling us to absorb nutrients from our food and is also responsible for digesting life experiences. So if you are experiencing digestive discomforts look at what is going on in your life. Are you emotionally stressed? Are you rushing when you eat? Eat in peaceful surroundings and chew slowly. And when you are going through a time of emotional transformation acknowledge that and choose to eat foods that are gentler and give yourself space to digest these experiences.
I wish you all the best in your journey to better gut health. Remember, health is a journey. It isn't a one time thing, but something you work on your whole life.
Love and light xo,
vegan, sugar free, gluten free
Papaya is an amazing fruit for supporting and healing the gut. It has more than 500 powerful digestive enzymes that help reduce inflammation, aid digestion and mend the intestinal walls. It can be very helpful for you if you are constipated. The caratenoids, vitamins and minerals in papaya are also incredible for the skin and can help with eczema, acne and psoriasis. Important to note that the popular Hawaiian varieties of papaya are GMO contaminated. Try to purchase Maradol papayas from Mexico and Central America.
-fresh fruit (berries, pineapple, oranges, kiwi, etc.)
1.Cut papaya in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and discard.
2.Scoop some coconut yogurt into each half and top with fresh fruit and any other toppings you love (raw honey, bee pollen, hemp seeds, shredded coconut).
3.Eat with a spoon, scooping the papaya as you go.
To all my fellow chocolate lovers out there, I can't wait to share these delicious little treats with you!
I created these healthy versions of the Reese peanut butter cups for a dessert night demonstration I recently did. They were such a hit that I felt they needed to be shared with more people!
My chocolate nut butter cups are a very simple make ahead holiday dessert that you can pop into the freezer and pull out when you have friends over for coffee, place on your holiday cookie platter or save for your own sanity snacking when the Christmas to do list becomes overwhelming.
If you don't normally use cacao butter you might be wondering what it is and where to find it. Cacao butter is what is typically used in vegan raw chocolate making to give it that creamy taste and texture. Cacao butter is the creamy fat that is extracted from the beans of the cacao tree. Also known as cocoa butter, it can be used in cooking and baking but also as a beauty product (moisturizer, lip balm, stretch mark cream, edible massage, etc.). It is rich in healthy fats and vitamin E, which is an important vitamin for the functioning of the nervous system.
Cacao butter can be hard to find at your regular grocery store. In my community I have found it at both Nature's Fare and Bulk Barn. You want to make sure you purchase it organically as cacao is a heavily sprayed food.
Chocolate Nut Butter Cups
Vegan, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free
Makes approx. 24 mini cups
-3/4 cup coconut oil
-4.5 Tbsp cacao butter
-1 & 1/8 cup organic cocoa powder
-1/2 cup maple syrup
-a heaping 1/4 tsp sea salt (plus more for topping)
-1/2cup nut or seed butter (almond, peanut, sunflower, etc.)
-1Tbsp maple syrup
-sea salt to taste
-mini cupcake liners
1.Make a double boiler (a bowl placed over a pot of simmering water). Melt the coconut oil and cacao butter. Add the maple syrup and whisk to combine. When all mixed, remove from heat. Mix in the cocoa powder and salt. Adjust sweetness/saltiness according to taste.
2.Pour just enough chocolate into each cupcake liner so that there is a thin layer on the bottom. You should use less than half the chocolate, the rest will be used for later. Place in freezer for 15 minutes to set.
3.Make the filling. Mix all the ingredients together. Adjust for taste.
4.Spoon about 1tsp of filling into your hands. Roll it into a ball and flatten with your palm to be just a bit smaller than the size of the cupcake liner.
5.Remove liners from freezer. Place a disc of nut butter in each liner. Drizzle the rest of the chocolate on top to cover all the nut butter discs. Sprinkle salt on top to garnish.
6.Place in freezer for about one hour to set. Once ready, these can be stored in the freezer or in the fridge in a sealed container.
Love and light, xo
By now you have probably figured out whether or not your hormones are out of whack. Fatigue, emotional ups and downs, trouble falling/staying asleep, PMS, sore breasts around your cycle, the need for caffeine to stay awake, overly oily/dry/acne prone skin, menopausal symptoms, irritability and infertility are all linked to hormones that are not in alignment.
Hopefully you have been able to implement some changes to your diet and life that are helping you to balance your hormones. Foods that cleanse and support the liver (cruciferous vegetables, bitter foods, etc.), maca root, deep belly breathing and morning lemon water are all good starts to getting your hormones in check (for more information on hormone balancing see here).
But I want to give you another tool to help your body come back and stay in alignment.
It's called seed cycling.
Seed cycling can help you balance your hormones so that your menstrual cycle can balance out, you can gain more energy, your skin can become smooth and conception can happen (if that is your goal).
And guess what? It's really easy. With seed cycling you will be rotating different seeds during your cycle to support optimal hormonal balance. The vitamins, nutrients and oils in seeds help support your body's creation, release and metabolism of hormones. The lignans in the seeds help bind excess estrogen and the omega 3's help keep the hormones in balance.
The seeds used in seed cycling are flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds. Flax seeds in particular have been shown to lengthen the luteal phase and result in a less likely chance that you will not ovulate. The zinc in pumpkin seeds helps the body release progesterone, as well as the zinc in sesame seeds. The selenium in sesame seeds also helps the body release progesterone. Try to seed cycle for about three months, or longer, for optimal results.
How To Seed Cycle
During your Menstrual (when you menstruate) and Follicular Phase (the few days following menstruation) :
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Flax Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Pumpkin Seeds daily
During your Ovulatory (just after the follicular phase when you release an egg) and Luteal Phase (the phase following ovulation):
Consume 1Tbsp raw ground Sesame Seeds and 1Tbsp raw ground Sunflower Seeds daily
Grind your seeds in a clean coffee grinder or mini food processor every morning, or if you are short on time, grind your seeds for a few days worth and store them in the fridge to keep them fresh. As with any food, it is best to buy your seeds organically. This lessens the chance that your hormones will be disrupted by hormone disrupting chemicals found on and in conventional foods.
An easy way to eat your seeds every day is to consume them at breakfast. Sprinkle them on your oatmeal, put them in your smoothies/smoothie bowls or on top of your yogurt. You can also sprinkle them on your salads or blend them into energy balls.
Love and light xo,
Are you one to turn to pumpkin spice lattes once the air turns crisp and the leaves start changing colors?
I am too, however, I'm not really a coffee drinker and I usually feel ill after drinking most latte type drinks from coffee shops as they contain high amounts of sugar, caffeine and chemicals. I recently created this healthified version for Moga Moms and am very pleased because it also helps balance horomes!
And seriously, who doesn't need help with that these days?
Feel free to scroll down to make this drink right away so you can get cozied up, put on your slippers, snuggle in your comfy chair and read what I am about to tell you about balancing your hormones naturally.
Ok so first let's talk about what it should feel like to have balanced hormones:
Sound like you? Maybe some of it, but probably not all of it I bet. Most of us have some sort of hormonal imbalance (including men and women at all stages of life). Maybe this sounds more like you:
So why are we all walking around with these hormonal imbalances in the first place?
Well first we have to acknowledge that our planet is full of chemicals. Pesticides on our food, toxins in the air, chemicals in our drinking water. We slather ourselves in chemical laden beauty products and use toxic cleaners in our homes.
The toxins that we absorb through our skin, lungs and digestive tracts disrupt our hormones. They stress our bodies. Hectic jobs and our never ending to do lists also stress out our bodies and throw them out of whack. Something else throwing our bodies out of whack? Birth control pills. BC pills create hormonal imbalances, especially for women who have been on them for years. The hormones in BC pills (as well as hormones for HRT) end up in our water supply so people who aren't taking them are still unknowingly absorbing them.
Something to note: when I talk about hormones I'm not just talking about estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. We have many different hormones in our bodies interacting with each other and keeping things regular (or trying to). Reproductive, adrenal, intestinal, digestive, thyroid and liver hormones are all working in your body.
But one of the hormones that really gets thrown out of whack is estrogen. Have you heard of estrogen dominance?
Estrogen dominance happens because of a number of different environmental factors including pesticides, chemicals in the air, hormones in meat, petrochemical compounds found in consumer products (think shampoo, makeup, lotion, etc.), car exhaust, plastics, industrial solvents, estrogen from urine of women taking HRT and birth control pills, stress, obesity, caffeine, deficiency of nutrients B6, folate and magnesium among many other things.
Symptoms that may signal an estrogen imbalance are: heavy bleeding during periods, clotting, fibroids, swollen or tender breasts, endometriosis or painful periods, abnormal pap smears, PMS, mood swings, trouble sleeping, memory issues, cold hands or feet and hair loss.
If you are estrogen dominant or believe you have any kind of a hormonal imbalance you need to consume foods that support balanced hormones and foods that help detox excess hormones.
Before we discuss what kinds of foods these might be, there is one other thing to note. Sometimes our own hormones can act as toxins as well.
Let's take adrenaline for example. We pump out adrenaline when we become stressed. Have you heard of fight or flight? If we were to encounter a bear in the woods we would make adrenaline to either fight the bear of flee. Once the danger has passed our body should be able to stop making the adrenaline. But because we are living in a world where we are stressed out all the time our body doesn't stop making adrenaline. So whether it is a bear you are encountering or the demands of everyday life, our bodies are all having trouble shutting the adrenaline production off. When our body can't shut adrenaline production off it becomes a toxin that our body has to try to get rid of.
So what are we going to do about it? How are we going to balance our hormones naturally and start to feel better? How do we get more energy, lessen the PMS, sleep better, improve our appearance and have level emotions?
Let's start with some key foods. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy), fibre (specifically soluble fibre from apples, oatmeal and ground flax), bitter foods (dandelions, collard greens), sulfur rich foods (onions and garlic), green tea and fermented foods (kimchi, sauerkraut, tamari, sourdough) all help to improve the liver/digestive/intestinal organs to help with the detox of excess hormones. Sea vegetables help balance the thyroid which helps balance cholesterol leveles (related to healthy hormones) so ensure you are getting these as well.
Maca root powder and schizandra berry are very helpful with hormone balancing as is milk thistle. Maca tastes good when added to chocolatey foods or avocado (like a chocolate smoothie or guacamole) and schizandra berry is good with citrus. You can get milk thistle as a tea.
Lemon/ginger water in the morning helps to detox the body first thing and stimulate the digestive system. Infrared saunas, dry skin brushing and certain essential oils can help with detoxification of excess hormones. Activities that help release stress such as yoga and meditation, taking a hot bath or simply doing things that make you feel good can help release stress. Deep breathing also helps to release stress and promotes detoxification.
And how can you avoid hormonal imbalance in the first place? Try to limit your toxic exposure. Use natural beauty products, make your own household cleaners, eat certified organic foods and drink purified water.
Following these tips can help get your hormones back on track and get you feeling really good again. In the meantime, check out this steamer recipe below for a fall drink that feels good and is good for you too.
Pumpkin Pie Maca Steamer
1.5 cups plant based milk (almond, coconut, rice. etc.)
1/2 tsp maca root powder
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup (or more/less to taste)
1/2 tsp vanilla
Place all ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking frequently. Remove from heat when milk starts to simmer. Pour in a mug and enjoy!
Love and light xo,