brain injury inflammation

Inflammation and how it’s destroying everyone’s health

Inflammation is part of the body’s natural immune response. brain injury inflammationIt can be beneficial when you’re injured and tissues need care and protection. However, sometimes inflammation can persist longer than necessary, causing more harm than good. Chronic inflammation is at the root of so many illnesses we face today.

For example, brain networks in babies as well as future cognitive development reflect the degree of inflammation their mothers experienced during pregnancy, according to some new studies, leaving them vulnerable to conditions like autism, schizophrenia etc.

Inflammation cooks our genetics & accelerates aging, creating all sorts of pathologies (bipolar disorder, anxiety disorder, depression, epilepsy/seizures, brain tumors, obesity, arthritis, IBS, fibromyalgia etc.) Treating our inflammation can reverse many of these pathologies.

Common causes of inflammation:

1- Diet: Refined flour, refined and excess sugar, oxidized/rancid fats, trans fats, chemicals, preservatives.

2- Obesity: Obesity is an inflammatory state. Your body is struggling and it’s only going to get worse until you do something.

3-Poor gut health: Disruptions in the gut microbiome create intestinal permeability and contribute to systemic inflammation.

4-Stress: Stress stimulates pro inflammatory signalling. Chronic stress=chronic inflammation.

Dental disease, chronic infection, vitamin D deficiency also trigger inflammation in the body.

Our standard American diet is incredibly high in sugar. Sugar is inflammatory and makes our gut more permeable, creating even more inflammation. Inflammation leads to DNA damage, which leads to cancer changes. Reducing your carbohydrate intake, while getting the majority of your carbs from vegetables can really support your body, allowing it to slow and even reverse illness.

For those who need a lot of repair, studies are showing that ketosis repairs DNA, along with increasing mitochondrial function, and therefore increasing brain function. Intermittent fasting and eating high fat/low carbohydrate both put your body into ketosis (where it switches from carb fuel to fat fuel).

Exogenous ketones can be helpful in the beginning as they help to decrease appetite and make the insulin receptors work better (but they cannot replace doing the work). Once our insulin receptors work better, the body doesn’t have to produce as much insulin to get into the cell. So now we can produce less and that inflammatory cascade will start to go down.

How else can we lower inflammation?

  • Good omega-3 & other healthy fats (coconut, olive, avocado, nuts & seeds, fish, free-range eggs, grass-fed meat)
  • Turmeric and pepper together (spices in general are great for your health)
  • Vegetable based diet
  • Movement (30min 5x week min)
  • Sleep. Lack of sleep is really hard on the brain and creates plaque on arterial walls
  • Stress reduction. Make time for the things that feed your soul & help you feel grounded, peaceful, and recharged.

A healthy eating regimen, movement, stress reduction and proper sleep it’s really all we need to reverse most illness. The big people in charge are not interested in spreading this message, so we need to help each other♥️

If you’d like to learn more about how to turn the tables on your illness and paving the way to better health, send me a message and I’d be delighted to help you get started!

 

overworked, stress, HPA-D, HPA axis

HPA axis dysregulation (Adrenal Fatigue)

Most people are familiar with the term Adrenal Fatigue. Adrenal Fatigue is the common term we use for HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) axis dysregulation. HPA-D is typically due to our modern diet and high-stress culture. These modern stressors affect our HPA axis, which in turn affects nearly every organ & system of the body, including the gut, brain, thyroid, metabolism, catabolism & reproductive system.

overworked, stress

There are 4 major triggers that lead to HPA axis Dysregulation

  1. Inflammation (food sensitivities, dysbiosis etc)
  2. Insulin resistance/poor blood sugar control
  3. Circadian rhythm disruption (not enough daylight, too much light at night)
  4. Chronic stress (real or perceived)

Our body’s protective response to chronic stress is complex. Some of those processes related to HPA-D are:

  1. It down regulates our HPA axis, therefore decreasing our ability to produce cortisol
  2. Cortisol resistance due to decreased sensitivity in cortisol receptors (a reaction to chronic excess)
  3. Decreased bio-availability of cortisol tissue

Other risk factors for HPA-D include: poor diet, stimulants (caffeine, sugar etc.), exhaustive exercise, physical injury, toxins, chronic infections (H.Pylori etc), & autoimmune conditions. Basically all variations of chronic stress on the body.

What can we do?

  1. Diet: Reduce caffeine, avoid sugar, grains and dairy (all 3 are inflammatory) as well as any foods you suspect you may be sensitive to. Optimize you digestion by reducing liquids at meal time, chewing thoroughly and focusing on your food.
  2. Liver Support: Our liver detoxes, produces hormones, regulates various processes, transforms and/or synthesizes nearly everything our body use. Eat cruciferous vegetables and drink lemon water daily,
  3. Immune Support: Licorice root to increase 1/2 life of cortisol (therefore cortisol takes longer to clear the blood). B-vitamins (esp-B5), vitamin C, omega 3 fats,
  4. Reduce Stress: Rest, make time for you and the things that restore & recharge you.
  5. Sleep: Ensure your bedroom is dark, remove electronics, and avoid electronics entirely 1-2 hours before bed. Make sure you get 8 hours sleep. If you don’t feel tired, make a tea, grab a book and go to bed anyway. Or meditate until you’re suddenly asleep (my personal favorite). You can also check out this post for other ideas!fatigue, exhausted

If you suspect you might have adrenal fatigue, and not sure where to start, we can work together to get things turned around!

cholesterol city, animal products, meats, trans fats, refined carbs, processed foods

What’s the Deal with Cholesterol?

cholesterol city, animal products, meats, trans fats, refined carbs, processed foods

cholesterol city

Cholesterolis a waxy substance found naturally in the blood. Predominantly produced in the liver, but also found in animal products, refined carbohydrates & trans fats. There are 2 types of cholesterol: LDL (low density lipoproteins) & HDL (high density lipoproteins).

HDL, known as the “good cholesterol,” picks up cholesterol from the blood and delivers it to cells that use it, or takes it back to the liver to be recycled or eliminated from the body. LDL is commonly known as the “bad” cholesterol because it transports cholesterol from the liver throughout the body, and potentially allows it to be deposited in artery walls.

If your LDL levels are too high, the excess will build up on artery walls, causing a hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). This buildup also narrows the arteries, slowing or blocking the flow of oxygen-carrying blood to the heart, which can manifest as chest pain. If blood flow to the heart is cut off because of clogged arteries, the result is damage to the heart muscle – a heart attack.

Common risk factors for high cholesterol are genetic predisposition, diet, smoking, excess alcohol intake, obesity, high blood pressure and physically inactivity.

There is some debate over whether high cholesterol is in itself a cause of heart disease, or a symptom of an inflammatory condition that is the true cause of heart disease. According to the latter theory, chronically high levels of inflammation create small lesions on the arterial walls. The body then sends LDL to heal those lesions, but it ultimately accumulates and oxidizes, causing blockages. From this perspective, the best lifestyle approach to lower cardiovascular disease risk is to lower inflammation in the body rather than LDL levels.

So which theory do we address? Hey, why not both? 

If you’re looking to lower your cholesterol, here are some surefire ways to get your levels to a healthy place:

Plant based foods

Plant based foods

Eat more plant based foods – Animal products are where we find most of our dietary cholesterol. It’s also inflammatory. I can’t deny there are important nutrients found in meat, but we typically eat way too much. Instead of eating meat 14 meals per week, try 5 meals per week, and buy local, ethically raised, antibiotic-free, grass fed products.

Reduce sugar and flour, aka refined carbs from diet. They contribute to poor cholesterol levels by lowering HDL and also increase triglyceride levels.

Avoid trans fats (they increase LDL and reduce HDL). Trans-fats are found in many brands of margarine and in most heavily processed foods, as well as in snack foods such as chips, crackers and cookies, and in the oils used to cook fast-food french fries, doughnuts and movie popcorn. Basically any commercial oils.

Eat plenty of soluble fiber. Oats, slippery elm powder, flax seed, psyllium seeds, apple, citrus fruits, peas, carrots and ground flax seed are all good sources of soluble fiber, which has a powerful cholesterol-lowering effect by encouraging excretion.

More Omega 3 to reduce inflammation & raise HDL levels – Omega3 has been shown to lower triglyceride (blood fat) levels, minimize inflammation and clotting, and increase HDL levels. You can find it in deep sea oily fish (Salmon, Snapper, Mackerel, Anchovies, Cod, Sardines, Halibut), chia & flax seed, hemp hearts, walnuts, soybeans & grass fed animal products

Liver Support: Start each day with a half a lemon squeezed into some warm water first thing in the morning. This stimulates liver and gall bladder function, cleanses the bowel and primes digestion for the day. Eat plenty of antioxidant foods like cruciferous vegetables, dark leafy greens and any other dark colored fruits & vegetables.

Move your body Exercise increases HDL levels, improves circulation & exercises your heart.

Get Sunshine Sunshine converts LDL to vitamin D, which in turn lowers inflammation, which as we know can be part of the problem in the first place.

Stress-reduction Stress can prompt the body to release fat into the bloodstream, raising cholesterol levels. Try breathing exercises, yoga, meditation, hiking or whatever helps bring you peace.

CoQ10 This powerful antioxidant benefits heart health by protecting LDL from oxidation and by re-energizing the mitochondria in the heart cells, which is where energy metabolism occurs. CoQ10 can also help lower blood pressure. CoQ10 can be taken as a supplement or found in organ meats, soybeans, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, strawberries & sweet potato.

Lose the extra weight – I put this last because once you start doing the above, this will start to happen naturally

Remember, patience is key. Real, lasting change doesn’t happen overnight. Start with one change and give yourself the time to successfully integrate it into your routine permanently. Once you feel it’s taken hold, try another. Treating your life routine (diet, lifestyle etc.) like an Etch-a-sketch and changing everything at a whim is violent and destabilizing for your body’s internal environment (aka homeostasis).

Trust that once you start giving the body what it needs, it will start to dissolve that plaque buildup.

An excerpt from the wheat belly blog“Note that recent weight loss causes an initial drop in HDL, sometimes dramatic, that “rebounds” over time. HDL can also respond slowly. A typical response, for example, for a 240 pound man who starts with an HDL value of 35 mg/dl would be a drop to 27 mg/dl while losing 40 pounds, rebounding to 40 mg/dl 3 months after weight loss has ceased, then 63 mg/dl 1-2 years later.” The takeaway? Change takes time, and it’s not always linear.

plant loveFancy some guidance or support? Come and see me! 

Together, we’ll make managing your cholesterol as easy and as effective as possible.

zinc, exhausted

Is Zinc Deficiency the Reason You Feel Like Sh#t?!

Do you get sick often? Do your wounds heal slowly? Is your memory foggy? Is your attention wavering? Do you have chronically loose stools? Do you suffer from inflammatory skin conditions? Is your sense of taste & smell weak? Is your hair thinning, or even falling out? Has your libido gone down? Has your appetite? If you answered YES! to some of these, you might want to test your zinc levels.

Zinc is an important mineral the body needs for many, many functions. To name a few, Zinc

  • Directs body responses involving the maintenance of enzymes and cells. It contributes to the make up of over 300 types of enzymes and is needed for cell division & cellular metabolism.
  • Prevents oxidation(which creates free radicals and ages tissues), contributing to cellular longevity
  • supports serotonin and melatonin synthesis.
  • Prevents copper excess as they compete for absorption
  • Supports prostate and reproductive organ health
  • Required for DNA synthesis
  • Essential for proper immune function, wound healing, blood stability, formation of insulin, muscle contractability, normal brain function (contributing to mood stability and optimal memory)
  • Protein synthesis, contributing to healthy skin and hair
  • Hormone balance
  • Gut Health

Things that can exhaust your zinc stores are stress, over-training, and pregnancy. Things that can interfere with zinc absorption is poor gut health & excess copper levels.

Zinc deficiency is extremely common. Our soil is more depleted than ever before, rendering our food as a lesser source than it once was. Birth control also depletes our zinc levels. Foods that are still a good source are (highest to lowest):

  • Oysters (by a long shot)
  • Veal
  • Beef
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Tahini
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Chicken
  • Beans
  • Yogurt
  • Chickpeas
  • Cashews
  • Cheese
  • Almonds
  • Eggs

Do you intuitively crave any of the above foods? Listen to your body, it is always trying to communicate with you. It is also important to note that many foods, like grains, contain phytates which bind to zinc, making these foods a lesser source of zinc and sometimes interfering with zinc levels in the body. This is one of the reasons that long term consumption of a high-grain or vegetarian diet is considered a risk factor for zinc deficiency.

If you’re curious about whether you might be deficient, book an appointment with me and receive free zinc testing!

The Importance of a Balanced Microbiome

80-85% of our immunity is located in our gut wall. Our microbiome is like the right hand of our immune system. If it’s compromised, then your immune system is left to do it’s job with one hand tied behind it’s back. On top of that, exposure to a whole host of toxic by-products from the opportunistic bacteria that is now dominating your gut keeps your immune system fighting an uphill battle. Eventually the gut becomes damaged and leaky, allowing invaders and undigested food to escape the gut and enter your blood stream – which your immune system also has to deal with, in addition to being malnourished, compromised, unbalanced and intoxicated. This is also how many allergies/intolerances develop. Good news is once you restore a healthy balance, those allergies/intolerances often disappear!

Here are some key reasons we must support our beneficial bacteria

1-Our healthy indigenous gut bacteria can neutralize many toxic substances (like nitrates, indoles, phenols etc), as well as chelating heavy metals and other poisons.

2-Antibiotics wipe out good and bad bacteria, but leave some microbes untouched (like Candida) allowing it opportunity to overgrow

3-Without protection from a health layer of beneficial bacteria, we become vulnerable to anything that comes along, as well as the opportunistic bacteria already present (which require management from beneficial bacteria otherwise they overgrow & wreak havoc)

4-When our beneficial bacteria is compromised, not only do we lose its protection, but also the nourishment it provides in assisting digestion, producing vitamins, hormones and neurotransmitters. Did you know our gut derives 60-70% of it’s energy from bacterial activity?

5-If our microbiome is damaged, the best foods and supplements you can buy may not be broken down, digested and absorbed.

6-Our beneficial bacteria produce a constant steady stream of K2, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, amino acids, hormones, neurotransmitters and much more. Without a healthy colony, there will be periods in the day where you’ll be deficient, even with supplementation.

So what damages out gut?

1-Antibiotics (whether prescribed, in our meat, or sprayed onto our produce)

2-Chlorine in our tap water

3-Other prescription drugs (steroids, birth control, sleeping pills, heartburn medication)

4-Diet (sugar and processed carbs support fungi, parasites and opportunistic bacteria)

5-Chronic stress

6-Environmental pollution/toxins

Our bodies are all capable of dealing with a certain level of exposure (some more than others), but every body has a breaking point, and in our current modern day lifestyle, many bodies are chronically being pushed past theirs.

If you’d like to learn more, and find out how to support your own microbiome, check out some of my other posts here & here, or book an appointment with me here.

Wellness Wednesdays – Au Naturel Hair Care

Here are various pictures of how much I tried to hide my hair as a teen. Bottom right shows you just how stripped & lifeless my hair actually was

I’m always preaching to my girlfriends with hair & scalp complaints to ditch the commercial products and start using homemade, natural options instead. I hated (yes, hate is a strong word, but accurate) the hair I was born with for sooo long. People who had known me for years would tease me that they’d never seen my hair down. It would always be tightly restricted in bun(s) or braid(s). Otherwise it was a wild frizzy disaster – no matter how much i spent on top of the line shampoos, conditioners, leave in creams etc.

It was only when I started to experiment with baking soda shampoo and apple cider vinegar conditioning that i started to see my hair in a whole new light! The most notable was that my curls were more defined and less of a frizzy mess, and it shined like never before!

If you have troubled hair (or scalp), try this out for a few weeks and notice the results!

Shampooing 

  1. Mix together 1 part baking soda with 3 parts water in a clear jar for multiple use (adding a few drops of essential oil for fragrance if you like).
  2. Scrub the paste into your hair and scalp. Let it sit for a minute or two; then, rinse clean.

Benefits of Using Baking Soda:

  • It balances your natural PH so your scalp produces the proper amount of oil, clearing up dandruff, excess oil & an otherwise irritated scalp
  • It’s paraben, sodium laurel sulfate, DEA/Diethanolamine, dye and fragrance-free
  • It contains a single, all-natural ingredient (sodium bicarbonate)
  • It’s cheaper than any commercial shampoo on the market
  • It doesn’t create build up

It takes time for your body to adjust its oil production so don’t be surprised if your hair feels greasier (or drier) than usual when you first make the switch. As soon as your body adjusts, your hair will look and feel better than ever, and it’ll stay clean longer, too. Most baking soda shampooers find that they only need to wash their hair a few times a week

Conditioning

  1. Mix together 1 part cider with 4 parts water in a big jar for multiple use (adding a few drops of essential oil for fragrance if you like- my favorite is eucalyptus).

Apple cider vinegar moisturizes, adds shine and reduces frizz. Don’t worry about the vinegar smell if you choose to not use any essential oils, it’s 100% gone by the time your hair dries.

Dry Shampoo

If you find yourself in a pinch & don’t have time to wash your hair, just sprinkle some baking soda onto your roots, flip your hair upside, and tousle it all in. It’s way cheaper & cleaner than purchasing the chemical ridden cans of dry shampoo at the store, and works just as well.

Honestly you’ll wonder what took you so long to make the switch!

Let me know what your before and after is like.

This is my hair now, far less maintenance, no leave in creams, so much healthier

Curly but not frizzy 🙂

 

 

 

Emotional Eating

Let’s be real; we’re all emotional eaters with complex conditioning: genetic, biological, neurological, environmental, cultural etc. Whether you turn to food to sooth emotional discomfort, combat boredom, distract yourself, ease your stress, provide pleasure, rebel against yourself, to fill a void, I think we can all agree that when we’re emotionally eating, we are not in the present moment (eyes glazed over, lost in your thoughts, numb). Emotional eating is an addiction, and addictions are an external answer for an internal problem. You’re trying to change the way you feel, based on how you think it will make you feel. But does it?Continue reading

Mental Health, Digestion and our Microbiome

It’s now widely common knowledge that our gut microbiome influences our digestion, allergies, metabolism and mental health. We’re also realizing how much our brain can influence gut health.

gut-brain

Imbalances in our gut microbiome can eventually lead to systemic inflammation including in your brain, leading to brain fog, fatigue, anxiety, depression and so much more. Going in the other direction, stress (whether conscious or not, acute or chronic) inhibits our digestive function, leading to nutritional deficiencies and an imbalanced microbiome.Continue reading

Sweet Potato Burgers

A friend of mine who loves reading the old fashioned newspaper often saves me cut-outs of interesting food and/or nutrition articles. He’ll also forward me emails that land in his inbox from other news subscriptions. Recently he sent me a link to 19 Burgers You Really Need to Make This Summer – it’s an older article, and not nutrition focused, but I found a few that looked worth modifying and trying out. One of them was this Smoky Sweet Potato Burger  which I modified a little and enjoyed the results!Continue reading