Eat Your Stress Goodbye!

Eat Your Stress Goodbye – Stress Reducing Diet

When you’re stressed out, the foods that you’re turning to are most likely going to be traditional ‘comfort’ foods – think big meals, take-out, fatty foods, sweet foods, and alcohol. Let’s face it – we’ve all found some comfort in a tasty meal and a bottle of beer or glass of wine when we’ve been stressed out or upset about something. However, this isn’t a good permanent solution. 

 When you’re turning to unhealthy foods you can feel better temporarily, but in the long run, you will feel worse. When your body isn’t getting the right nutrition, you can begin to feel less energetic, more lethargic, and in some cases less able to concentrate and focus. When you are stressed, you don’t get blood flow to the gut and will not digest nutrients that are needed for overall health and especially hormonal balance!  

All of this can lead to even more stress, further disruption of gut health and hormones!

If you’ve been feeling more stressed out than usual lately, it’s important to know which foods are best to choose and which to avoid when it comes to combating stress and helping you to deal with feelings of stress and anxiety. The best way to fight stress is to have a healthy, balanced diet which includes a moderate amount of each of the different food groups.

 Filling up on foods such as whole grains, leafy vegetables, and lean proteins as the basic staples of the diet is the best way to ensure that your body gets the optimum amounts of nutrients to fight both physical and mental health problems. When it comes to choosing the foods to eat, some have a range of great properties which help the body to combat stress. Choosing these stress-busting foods will help to heal and calm your mind permanently, rather than providing a temporary fix.

The first thing you can do is breathe – really!  Taking deep breaths helps our body relax so we can absorb our nutrients from our food.  

 

Foods that Fight Stress

 

  •       Avocado – Avocados are a creamy and versatile fruit which can be eaten in a range of different ways whether you enjoy it raw, made into sauces, dressings and dips, or in a smoothie. These nutrient-dense fruits have the properties to stress-proof your body, thanks to their high glutathione content which specifically blocks the intestinal absorption of certain fats which cause oxidative damage. Avocados also contain higher levels of vitamin E, folate, and beta-carotene than any other fruit, which boosts their stress-busting properties. However, be careful with portion control when eating avocado, as it is high in fat.

  •       Blueberries – If you’re feeling stressed out and reaching for the snacks, swapping chocolate or chips for one of the best superfoods is a great way to help you deal with your stress levels and achieve a higher level of calm. Blueberries have some of the highest levels of antioxidants, especially antho-cyanin, which means that this berry has been linked to a wide range of health benefits including sharper cognition, better focus, and a clearer mind – all of which can help you to better deal with stress.
  •       Chamomile Tea – Of course, it’s not all about what you’re eating when it comes to managing stress; what you’re drinking can also alleviate or worsen the stress you’re feeling. Drinking liquids which are high in sugars and caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks or soda, can actually increase your stress levels if consumed regularly. Chamomile tea has long been used as a natural bedtime soother, and it has also been used in clinical trials, which determined that chamomile tea is effective in reducing the symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder.
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  • Chocolate – Although it’s usually seen as an unhealthy treat, there is an undeniable link between chocolate and our mood. Studies have shown that eating chocolate can actually make you happier. However, that doesn’t mean that you can start munching on chocolate bars every time you’re stressed out – chocolate works best as a de-stressor when eaten in moderation and as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Dark chocolate in particular is best for you, as it contains more flavonols and polyphenols, two hugely important antioxidants which can help combat stress, more than many fruit juices.
  •       Beef – Grass-fed beef is not only kinder to the planet and to animals, it’s also good for people, too. Grass-fed beef has a huge range of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and Vit-amins C and E, which can help your body to fight stress and anxiety. If you’re looking for more reasons to spend a little more money on organic, grass-fed beef, it’s also lower in fat than grain-fed beef whilst being higher in omega-3.
  •       Oatmeal – Oatmeal is great in that it can be a filling comfort food, but also has a large number of healthy properties to actually make you feel better from the inside out. A complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal causes your brain to produce higher levels of the feel-good chemical serotonin, helping you to feel calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that kids who choose oatmeal for breakfast tend to be much sharper throughout the morning in school compared to kids who had alternative morning meals.
  •       Walnuts – If you’re looking for a healthy snacking option which will help you to stay better in control of your stress levels, walnuts are a great choice. There is no denying the sweet, pleasant flavor of walnuts and they can be a tasty snack for in-between meals or as part of a desert. A versatile nut, walnuts are great for salads, or add them to a sweet treat such as coffee and walnut cake.
  •       Pistachios – another food which is great for snacking on and can also help to combat stress and anxiety in the long term is pistachios. Studies have found that simply eating two small, snack-size portions of pistachios per day can lower vascular constriction when you are stressed, putting less pressure on your heart by further dilating your arteries. Along with this, the rhythmic, repetitive act of shelling pistachios can actually be quite therapeutic!
  •       Green Leafy Vegetables – leafy, green vegetables should be a pivotal part of anyone’s diet. Along with helping to combat stress, leafy greens are full of nutrients and antioxidants which help to fight off disease and leave your body feeling healthier and more energized. Dark leafy greens, for example spinach, are especially good for you since they are rich in folate, which helps your body to produce more mood-regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin, which is a ‘feel-good’ chemical. Making leafy greens a part of your diet will help you to feel happier and less stressed out overall.
  •       Fermented foods – last but not least, eating fermented foods such as yogurt can help to keep your gut healthy, which actually in turn will help to improve your mental health and reduce stress levels. The beneficial bacteria which are found in fermented foods such as yogurt actually have a direct effect on your brain chemistry and transmit positive mood and behavior regulating signals to your brain via the vagus nerve.

 

 

What is Functional Medicine?

Conventional medicine asks “what”, Functional Medicine asks “why?” to get to the root cause.

Let’s start with the “standard of care” first.

Medical providers are taught in school to wait until your lab results are outside the “standard lab range” – which is based on a statistic – and then you can be diagnosed with a disease and they can find a pharmaceutical drug or drugs to match up with that disease and send you on your way.  Until you get side effects from that drug, and another one gets prescribed.  You feel like a number or a chart!

Functional Medicine sees that you are an actual PERSON with thoughts, feelings, and emotions.  And it’s important to take those into account!  We consider lab values – but they are viewed from an optimal point of view to help you feel your best and to prevent or even reverse disease.  Why wait?  We consider your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual states. If any of these are off balance, it can create disease.
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Metabolic Syndrome: What is it and Why Should You Care?

METABOLIC SYNDROME: What is it and why should you care?

Metabolic Syndrome is a cluster of symptoms that put you at much greater risk for developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and even cancer.

Look at your body. Are you apple or pear shaped?
If you are pear shaped, your risk for heart diease and diabetes is actually less.

What are the risk factors?
• Waist circumference: Men 40 inches or greater; Women 35 inches or greater
• Fasting triglyceride level of 150mg/dL or greater
• LDL: Men < 40, Women < 50, OR if you are on a statin • High blood pressure: > 140/80 OR on a BP medication
• Fasting blood glucose (sugar) level > 100
*The more risk factors you have, the greater your risk is for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and others.

How can you be evaluated to see if you are at risk or to know if you have Metabolic Syndrome? With something called a metabolomic profile. This is a blood test and requires an overnight fast.


Some things that will be evaluated:

• HbA1C (glycated hemoglobin): an estimated average of your daily blood sugar over about a three month period.
• CRP: produced by the liver, a non-specific marker of inflammation, a strong independent risk factor for atherosclerotic (thickening of arteries) heart disease. This can be elevated with smokers, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and sedentary lifestyles.
• Insulin: a better indicator of the onset of type 2 diabetes than blood sugar, because it will be elevated in very early stages of diabetes. Insulin holds the key to getting sugar, or glucose, into your cells where it belongs. When you have higher levels of insulin, it means your cells are becoming resistant to that key to get all the extra glucose in, and it is producing more to work harder with more keys. So there are more keys working, but your blood glucose level may show to be “normal” even when you are well on your way to a diagnosis of diabetes!!
Leptin: A hormone that normally signals your brain when you are full and to suppress your appetite. With increased fat, steroid use, alcohol, hypothroidism, or depression, you may have a higher level of circulating leptin. Despite what you may be thinking, THIS IS NOT GOOD. The problem is, this increase in leptin causes an interruption in the signal to your brain, and resistance develops (just like with insulin). So leptin is then unable to get the signal to the brain to suppress your appetite! Instead it causes an increase in inflammation. This can cause your arteries to thicken faster and has been associated with heart attacks and strokes.
Adiponectin: This is an ANTI-inflammatory protein that stimulates the release of insulin to get the sugar in the cells. Low levels are associated with metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and others. When adiponectin is too low, it will cause more inflammation, increase your risk for heart disease, and lung and other cancers.

What Can You Do About This?

Exercise regularly! This doesn’t mean an hour every day. A 15-minute work-out is only 1% of your day. Make time NOW, or you won’t have the time later.
• This is no secret, but if you are a smoker, you just gotta find a way to quit.
• Eat more more more more veggies. There are several recipes here if you’re struggling with ideas. Another idea is to start slow and just eat broccoli three times a week for a few weeks. Then add in more! Veggies can save your life. Choose fruits like berries. Cut out the processed foods and eat WHOLE FOODS (they have one ingredient – itself!); cut down on added sugars, and read labels. If there are more than five ingredients, probably not a good idea, especially if the sugar is first and if you cannot pronounce the ingredients!
• If you snore or do not sleep well, get evaluated for sleep apnea and make sure it is treated.
• Eat fish (smaller are better. Wild Alaskan salmon is the best salmon) 2-3 times per week and make sure you get enough omega-3s (EPA & DHA). You can put the supplement in the refrigerator to decrease the fish burps!

OVERALL, decide to make a change, and make it. If you are struggling, give yourself credit for every little step. If you feel like you are “in a mess”, you didn’t get there overnight. Lifestyle changes take time, and you need to feel supported. If you need accountability, which we all do, get your family involved and/or find a buddy! And as always, I am here for you.

 

What’s the Deal with Antibiotics?

What’s the Deal with Antibiotics?

 

We know about the bug that causes infection, thanks to Louis Pasteur and we know about antibiotics to cure them, thanks to Alexander Fleming. This ingenuous “cure” might work for infection, but chronic disease is a different story.  And thanks to big pharma, our nation has developed the mindset that there is a “pill for that.”  And, this is part of the reason that antibiotics are overprescribed – some patients aren’t happy until they get one.

This is where our gut comes in.  We have 100 trillion bugs or bacteria in our gut – that’s about 100 times more than we have cells and genes in our entire body!  Think of the gut like a piece of real estate – we want to keep it clean and house it with good and responsible residents.  If bad residents enter, we want to get them out, but we need to keep the good ones.  The good bacteria control immunity, regulate digestion, protect against infections and even produce vitamins and nutrients! And the bad ones of course prevent these good things from happening, or at least make them weaker.  Antibiotics get rid of the bad bacteria, but they also get rid of some of the good ones.  Wiping out the good guys can allow for overgrowth of bad guys – causing food allergies, fatigue, skin issues, digestive issues, mood disorders, and sugar cravings that lead to increased fat!

Antibiotics treat BACTERIAL infections.  They do NOTHING for viral or fungal infections, and can actually make you worse.  A study in The American Society for Microbiology demonstrated that the gut residents could be disrupted for up to an entire year with just one week of antibiotics!  So, if you’re health care provider tells you that you have a viral infection, that means your body will fight it on it’s own and you do NOT need an antibiotic.

Keep your real estate happy and safe! If you need to restock the good residents, read more about it here.

 

Good Guys, Bad Guys, Probiotics, & Prebiotics

Our gut (stomach & intestines) is the brain and master planner of our entire body.  It is like a little factory in there with very important workers!!  We need to take care of our good workers and make sure that the toxic, bad ones do not take over.  Our job on the outside is to take care of our good guys on our inside.  We are the CEO of this company/factory and they rely on us!  With conventional medicine, we are over-prescribed antibiotics.  Many people believe that if they are sick, they need antibiotics.  First of all, if you have a viral infection, an antibiotic is not going to help you get better.  In fact, it will slow your healing and kill off the good guys whose job is to help you heal and be healthy.  If you do have a bacterial infection, antibiotics can be helpful.  They will kill the bad guys, but they will also kill the good guys, especially if it’s a broad spectrum (non-specific) antibiotic like a z-pac.  So the antibiotics are like a machine gun coming into our factory and wiping out as many workers, good AND bad, as it can.  Our gut factory has 500 different species of bugs (bacteria) and TEN times more bacteria than we have cells in our body!!!   That’s A LOT OF workers!!!  And they weigh 4-5 lbs and have about 500 MILLION neurons!

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Postpartum Health

Please click here for healthy postpartum tips!

 

How to Use Exercise to Reduce Your Risk of Dying

     Do you remember the time when incurable acute illnesses & infectious diseases were the main cause of death? With advancements in medicine & vaccines, & changes in lifestyle, this is no longer the case.  Instead, we are now facing an epidemic of

         preventable chronic conditions 

such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer and, according to the CDC, 70% of deaths today are caused by lifestyle-related chronic diseases.  This endless suffering is sweeping our nation and accounts for over 85% of health care costs, and $117 billion each year is due to poor physical activity In fact, $147 billion alone was attributed to obesity in 2008, which was over $1,400 more than those of normal weight in 2006. The more we spend on health care, the less we get. In 2005, 133 million Americans were living with one or more chronic illnesses and 63 million were sick with numerous chronic disorders. By 2020, those numbers are expected to rise to 157 million and 81 million, respectively.  What we are doing is not working.  Cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) level is a major factor in one’s risk for chronic illness and death, and the gold standard for measurement is VO2max.  Exercise is a key intervention that demonstrates a significantly positive impact to combat the rising numbers of chronic illness and corresponding mortality rates.  The higher the CRF, the lower the risk. Based on my review of 9 primary research articles and one meta-analysis, the evidence was overwhelming in that 30 minutes or less of HIGH-INTENSITY INTERVAL TRAINING (HIIT) increases VO2max significantly more than 60 minutes of traditional moderate-intensity continuous exercise, such as walking, running, or biking!

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