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.
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,
I am writing today's post on transitioning to a plant based diet. There are a lot of people in the world today that are looking for a better, cleaner way of eating that makes them feel good. People are sick. People are tired. People and sick and tired of feeling like crap, being ill, being overweight, having hormones out of whack, feeling sluggish, having migraines, being infertile and being exhausted.
Right now is the time for change. Really.
Have you seen the proposed new Canada Food Guide? While it isn't perfect it is definitely a step in the right direction, leading people to eat more plant based foods and skip out more often on animal products. I say hallelujah for this because finally the consciousness of people is starting to shift to realize that yes, eating plants is healthier for your body and the environment. Finally all of us radical plant loving 'hippies' can start to have the labels removed. Not that I mind being a plant loving hippie. Not in the slightest.
Maybe you are wanting to add more plants to your diet, maybe you already are a vegan or vegetarian but need more information on how to properly be feeding that glorious body of yours, maybe you want to completely revert to eating only plants or maybe you just want to know what all of the fuss is about.
Well it's good you are here because I am about to give you the lowdown. The REAL lowdown. So you can stop being confused and start nourishing your body in a way that makes you FEEL good, LOOK good, BE good. Inside and out.
Here we go!
What is a Whole Food/Plant Based Diet?
-There are 20 different amino acids that can form a protein, and eight the body can’t produce itself. These are called Essential Amino Acids (E.A.A). We need to eat them because we can’t make them on our own. For a protein considered “complete” it must contain all 8 of these E.A.A. If you are missing just one of the 8 E.A.A then important body functions can’t be performed (such as enzyme building).
-Protein makes up about 20% of our body weight.
-So what does it mean for a vegetarian/vegan? If we don’t supply the body with enough protein it can’t repair and rebuild muscles which can lead to muscle loss and fatigue. This is especially crucial for people who are active. When we exercise hard or for long periods of time we use protein stores to fuel our body to keep us going (after the carb stores have run out).
-Amino acids are found in all foods. More abundant in “animal foods” (chicken, beef, eggs, dairy) but we can get enough by eating a variety of plant based whole foods in different combinations.
-Women need about 46 grams of protein per day, men need 56 grams. By eating one cup of beans (dried) you are getting 16grams of protein.
-Pasteurized milk is not actually a great source calcium because it loses its calcium and enzymes needed to digest calcium during pasteurization. Many people are unknowingly intolerant to milk. (For more info. on the calcium misconception, read my blog post on Making Nut and Seed Milk).
My diet consists of about 70% organic foods. I eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. I eat fish occasionally if I know how it was caught. I try to limit my dairy consumption and if I am eating dairy I am usually choosing goat. I try to eat as seasonally as possible and focus on foods that are locally grown and GMO free. We cook a lot at home and we’ve found that the more we prepare ahead of time, the more likely we are to choose healthy choices.
I am not an anomally. Of course I know more about foods than the average person but anyone can educate themselves these days. It took me about 3 years to get to the point with my diet that I’m at and happy with today. It just takes time, perserverance and a willingness to step outside of your comfort zone.
Light and love xo,