smiley riley

Nutritional Support for Autism Spectrum Disorder

smiley riley

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. The number of children being diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum is a quickly snowballing challenge of our day. ASD is estimated to affect over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. This includes the diagnoses of autism, Aspergers, ADD & ADHD.

While lowering stress, incorporating connection, curiosity and play are crucial in therapy, nutritional support helps create a more receptive environment to the other therapeutic modalities at play. For children with ASD, a nutritious, balanced diet can make a world of difference in their ability to learn, how they manage their emotions and how they process information. Every single person and situation is unique and there are no guarantees, but if you believe your child has the potential for MORE in life, I encourage you to consider optimizing their nutrition.

The first thing to do is eliminate processed foods and excess sugar.

Sugar and processed foods are hard on the system and also feed the candida population in our digestive tract. Candida create holes in our gut (leading to allergies) and produce over 70 different toxins, both factors contributing to an exhausted, hyper-vigilant immune system & a heavy toxic load. They also create inflammation in the body and brain which is not at all supportive of living your best life. If you have enough in your budget I’d also consider adding in digestive enzymes & probiotics to improve the gut environment, support digesting and speed up results.

A special note about food dyes, MSG & aspartame: Most food dyes contain heavy metals (which are highly toxic and very difficult to get rid of once they’re in the body). MSG and aspartame are excito-toxins that literally excite our cells to death. It’s best to keep a close eye out for these as people with ASD are already dealing with a compromised immune system.

After processed foods and excess sugar are successfully removed, you may want to consider removing gluten and dairy to see how that might help.

When gluten and casein (dairy protein) break down in our gut they create properties called exomorphins, which mimic your body’s morphine-like endorphins. They have the same effect on the body as opiates, creating symptoms of euphoria and intoxication. It’s no surprise that the ones most allergic are addicted.  Statistically, about 60% of cases notice an improvement once gluten and dairy are removed.

Dietary changes can be a real challenge for anybody; people with ASD tend to be especially particular about the foods they eat. Start with one thing at a time, keep things low stress, and try and find substitutes for the foods you want to remove.

Remember… Attitude is everything. People with ASD have amazing BS detectors and can see right through your behavior. The best results come when you can remain calm, curious and playful throughout the process. As they say, first let THEM show you the way in, and then YOU can begin to show them the way out.

If you’d like support during this process, send me a message! I can help you learn to identify tricky food labelling, create grocery lists, introduce recipes that compare to what your child already enjoys and much more, helping make these dietary changes a lasting success!

Why am I passionate about helping people with ASD?

Because I can relate. I too am highly sensitive & particular. I’ve suffered digestive, emotional & social challenges from a young age. I have a Holistic nutrition education with 2 years into practice. I appreciate and respect our individuality & have always loved solving puzzles (which we all are) – through curiosity and a deep passion to understand. People generally feel safe and comfortable opening up to me, and I am passionate about connecting with others and helping them overcome obstacles.

Baked cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Cauliflower cookies

Cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Cauliflower cookies are a great snack and healthy enough to get away with eating a few. Ever since being on keto I’ve had to find a way to have treats that I still feel good about, otherwise I end up going off track due to feeling deprived. These babies help FOR SURE!

Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family. It . Eating cauliflower will provide your body with impressive amounts of vitamin C, vitamin k, beta-carotene,B-Vitamins, minerals and much more while supporting healthy digestion and detoxification.

Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, antioxidants, fiber, protein, magnesium and vitamin E. The health benefits of almonds include lower blood sugar levels, reduced blood pressure, cholesterol levels and inflammation. They can also reduce hunger and promote weight loss

Coconut contains one of the healthiest fats out there (MFCAs). They’re easier to digest, not readily stored as fat, contain antimicrobial, anti-viral, anti-fungal & anti-inflammatory properties, are smaller in size (allowing easier cell permeability for immediate energy), and are processed by the liver (which means that they’re immediately converted to energy instead of being stored as fat).

Chia Seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, fiber, protein, vitamins A, B, E and D, and minerals, including sulphur, iron, iodine, magnesium, manganese, niacin and thiamine.

Vanilla is a powerful antioxidant, contains antibacterial properties, helps reduce inflammation, and increases serotonin production.

Dark Chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidants (the higher the percentage, the higher the levels of antioxidants). The antioxidants found in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. They can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

How’s that for a sell? How can you possibly feel bad about eating these?

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower (2-3 cups riced)
  • 2 tbsp almond flour
  • 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 2 eggs (or 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp of water per egg & let the mixture sit for 15-20 minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • dash or 2 of himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate (70% dark chocolate chips are easy enough to find, or you can use 80-90% bars to further reduce carbs)

Preheat oven to 400. Combine all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. If the mixture seems to dry, add a bit of coconut oil. Shape into balls & place on a baking sheet & gently flatten a bit. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Baked cauliflower cookies keto lchf

Enjoy :o)

Healthy Fat Bombs

Fat Bombs: Healthy Convenience Food

Coconut cacao Fat Bombs I remember about this time last year talking to a friend who was getting into keto and asking him “What do you eat then?” and one of the things that got me excited were fat bombs. Basically a combo of HEALTHY butters, oils and sometimes nuts of dried fruit. They’re super easy to make. You just warm everything to liquid in a saucepan and then put the mixture into a tray and freeze them. I use both an ice cube tray and a mini muffin tray.

They’re really the perfect convenience food. Fat is extremely satiating, it doesn’t support an appetite to overeat, and it’s frikkin delicious. I know many people are still nervous about eating high fat, thinking fat = body fat, but it doesn’t. Body fat storage is typically triggered by the kind of insulin response that excess carbohydrates generate, as well as stress (increased cortisol = increased insulin).

Honestly, try them!! Here are a couple recipe’s you can start with, but I encourage you to play around with it!

Coconut Cup Fat Bombs

Reese's peanut butter chocolate bombs

  • Warm equal parts cocoa butter and coconut oil on the stove top (both contain zero carbs)
  • Fill your tray with unsweetened coconut flakes (about 2 net grams of carbs per tbsp.)
  • Pour in the melted cocoa butter & coconut oil, place tray in freezer
  • After about 10 minutes, place a couple of chocolate chips on top, or not! (They would add about 0.3 g carbs)

Chocolate Peanut Butter Square Fat Bombs

  • Warm 3 parts peanut butter and 1 part 90% dark chocolate
  • Blend your favorite nuts (I like macadamia & brazil nuts as they’re the lowest in carbs), and mix in with melted nut butter and dark chocolate, creating a ratio of 1:1 blended nuts vs. melted mix.
  • Fill tray and place in freezer, going back in about 10 minutes to place 1-2 full nuts on top to give it a crunch.

Healthy Fat BombsThat’s it. So simple. You could also try putting solid nuts throughout instead of blending them, or swapping out the peanut butter for a different nut butter, like almond, which has about half the carbs as peanut butter. Also, sometimes adding mint extract gives them an after-eight taste which I LOVE!

What’s YOUR favorite fat bomb combo?

almond bread low carb keto

Delicious Keto-Friendly Almond Bread

This almond bread makes sandwiches and toast more sustaining for our energy levels as it’s higher in fat and lower in carbs (don’t worry, excess carbs are the cause of weight gain, not healthy fats). It’s gluten free, and keto friendly (2 slices equal 1g carbohydrate). This was a great staple for me when I started exploring keto eating.

This recipe utilizes the power of xanthan gum to hold all of the ingredients together, much like gluten would inside a normal loaf of bread. If you don’t have xanthan gum, you can use any other starch you have on hand 🙂

Cook Time       40 Mins

almond bread low carb keto

Almond bread     

Prep Time       15 Mins

Servings           8 (16 Slices)

Nutrition Per Serving

  • Calories 234
  • Net Carbs 1g
  • Fats 23g
  • Protein 7g

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup Butter melted (or olive oil if you’re avoiding dairy)
  • 2 tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 7 Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

LET’S START WITH THE EGGS

Make sure your eggs are at room temperature before you begin as this will reduce the likelihood that your bread will taste “eggy”. If you keep your eggs in the fridge, no worries, just pop them into a bowl of hot tap water for 3 mins. This will cool them down. Don’t worry, it won’t cook them! Crack them all into a bowl and mix them together well just by themselves.

BUTTER (OR OLIVE OIL) AND COCONUT OIL

I recommend grass fed butter as it’s high in omega 3 fats which we all struggle to get enough of and has tons of benefits. If you keep your butter in the fridge, warm it in a saucepan just enough for it to melt, then take it off the heat and just let it sit. You don’t want the butter to be hot because this will affect your eggs once you add it to the mixture. Add the coconut oil once the butter has melted.

Once you have your butter and coconut oil melted together, slowly stream the oils in while whisking until all is incorporated. You’ll have a nice, smooth blend and texture.

DRY INGREDIENTS

Combine the almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt together into a small bowl. Mix all of these ingredients together with a fork until well combined.

Then, little by little, add the dry mix to the eggs, whisking between scoops. It should get quite thick.

BAKING TIPS

Set your fan forced oven to 180C (355F) and wait till its fully heated. If you have a convection oven, drop the temperature by 5C (20 degrees Fahrenheit). If you are using a glass loaf pan, do the same. Glass retains heat longer. You can set your timer for 10 minutes less than the time in the recipe because all ovens are different.

Make sure when you make this recipe, if you are not using a silicone tray, that you place baking paper on the tray whilst baking, otherwise it will stick to the sides.

Once small cracks appear on the top and it goes a golden-brown color, test with a toothpick or clean dry knife right into the center of the bread. If it comes out clean, the bread is done. if not, you can add that extra 10 minutes and check it again.

ONCE THE BREAD IS DONE

Let the almond bread cool before slicing. I usually slice up half for the fridge, then place the unsliced half into the freezer for the following week.

This recipe was discovered at https://www.fatforweightloss.com.au/recipe/keto-bread/

I removed the images and digressions for simplicity, but left in all the little details because they personally helped me 🙂

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!

 

cauliflower rice

Ketosis & Intermittent Fasting

Ketosis (which can be induced by eating a ketogenic diet or intermittent fasting) bring many benefits to our health:

  1. Ketones help modulate inflammation
  2. Ketones improve mitochondrial function
  3. Reducing carbohydrate gives your body a chance to modulate it’s insulin response
  4. Ketosis reduces hunger, increases energy & improves cognitive function (making intermittent fasting easier)
  5. Ketosis preserves lean body tissues
  6. Having more balanced blood sugar creates more stability (emotionally & physically)
  7. Ketosis & intermittent fasting help break sugar & alcohol addictions

    almond bread low carb keto

    Almond bread

It also helps with weight loss. A lot of people gain weight due to overeating carbs, especially processed ones, so ditching those carbs will help prevent further weight gain. In addition, being in a state of ketosis means your body will be burning through more body fat so eventually you will start to see the weight coming off.

Remember though, it takes time for your body to adapt to change, so the trick is to ease into it. For example, week one cut out all processed foods including soda, pastries etc. Week two remove added sugars (in your coffee, oatmeal, smoothies etc.). Week three make some almond bread and cauliflower rice and start reducing bread, rice and other grains etc. etc. As exciting as it is to start something new, there is nothing more discouraging than feeling shitty – and you will if you make dramatic shifts.

cauliflower rice

Cauliflower Rice Goes well with everything

While you are making these small & steady shifts, try and reduce your window of eating. If your first meal is typically 7am and your last intake of food is 10pm, try to shave an hour off each end, a week at a time. That being said, if you’re hungry, please eat, but slowly your body will adapt to this (especially as you increase daily fat intake and reduce carbohydrate intake).

Exercise also helps create ketones & improve brain function, so increasing your daily activity can help your body adapt to this shift. But don’t go crazy on the exercise, especially at first, as you don’t want to add more stress to your body as it is working to adapt to this change.

If you have a serious medical condition, talk to your doctor and have them support you in making this shift (hint: if they don’t want to, your should find a new doctor).

Lastly, be patient, enjoy the process, and remember that not all progress is linear. If you have a high-carb day, reflect on why, let go, and keep moving forward. Your good days will build momentum overtime and you will notice a huge difference.

I’ve been eating low carb and exploring keto eating since early May and I’ve experienced reduced hunger, increased energy and overall more emotional and physical stability. I’ve also lost 5 lbs, which is not what this is about for me, and I’m sure a big portion of it is water weight but it’s nice to look overall less puffy/inflamed.

If you have any questions or curiosity about the above info – send me a message! I’d love to hear your thoughts & help you solve any questions you may have!

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.

Nutritional Support for Pregnancy

Life has been pretty exciting lately. Major highlight: my best friend of over 2 decades is expecting! It’s such a trip. I’ve had other friends have children over the last decade or so, but nothing has felt quite like this. We grew up together, shared so many experiences together, and have become so close. It’s the most excited I’ve ever been about it, and it’s inspired me to post some tips for all the mamas-to-be out there. During your pregnancy, eating healthy is more important than ever, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Nutrients

  • Quality Protein: Most women need around 80 grams of protein every day for a healthy pregnancy. It’s literally the building blocks for you and your baby.
  • Healthy Fats: Consuming adequate fats is absolutely vital to baby’s organ and brain development. Also a fat-rich diet will help to reduce stretch marks!
  • Vegetables and Fruits: Vegetables and fruits have a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that are helpful during pregnancy. Eating a varied diet including lots of green leafy vegetables can also help raise Vitamin K levels.
  • Water: A woman’s blood volume increases during pregnancy, and her body needs to supply fluid to replenish the amniotic fluid the baby is in. Drinking enough water (around a gallon a day) can help fight off morning sickness and also helps prevent constipation and make sure mom and baby are properly hydrated.
  • Probiotics: Best obtained from fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. Babies are born with a sterile gut and rely on mom’s bacteria to get them going. Don’t underestimate the importance of this. We are only cracking the surface as to what our bacteria does for us (help digest food, create nutrients, send messages to our nervous system) . There are some major medical conditions out there (autism being one of them) that are linked to poor gut bacteria.
  • Omega-3s, DHA, RHA– Adequate good fats are absolutely essential for baby’s development. You can find them in cold water fatty fish like salmon, fresh tuna, or sardines, as well as chia, flax or hemp seeds. It can be hard to to get enough from diet on a regular basis, so you may want to supplement with Cod Liver Oil which also contains vitamin A & D (find a reputable brand).
  • Folate– Well known for its preventative effects against spina bifida and other developmental struggles, folate is another important supplement. Some foods rich in folate are lentils, broccoli, avocado & dark leafy greens.
  • Iron– Anemia can cause serious complications during delivery, and is easy to prevent. You can take a high quality supplement or try cooking with cast iron pans, eating red meat/grass fed liver, beans, pumpkin seeds, molasses and dark leafy greens to help optimize iron levels.
  • Vitamin D – Important for development, you can supplement or get it through sunlight, red meat, fatty fish, mushrooms, cheese, or egg yolks.

Foods

  • Chia & Hemp Seeds: Great sources of Omega 3, fiber, fat, and protein. Will also help keep your colon cleared out, making room for your baby/reducing discomfort.
  • Berries (especially blueberries): Rich in antioxidants, which are important during pregnancy because they reduce oxidative stress. They’re also low in sugar – Bonus!
  • Leafy Greens: Lots of what you need is packed into these foods. They’re rich in folate, easily digested fiber, high in antioxidants, calcium, iron, and much more.
  • Avocados: High in healthy fats, fiber, B-vitamins (including folate), calcium & potassium
  • Lentils: High in protein, fiber and iron!
  • Pumpkin seeds: High in B-vitamins (especially folate), calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and much more!
  • Sauerkraut: A tablespoon or 2 daily would be a fantastic source of probiotics.  It’s high in fiber, as well as vitamin A, C, K, and B vitamins. It’s also a good source of iron, manganese, copper, sodium, magnesium, and calcium, in addition to contributing a moderate amount of protein to your diet. It’s super easy to make too!

A quick word about supplements

Supplements are not regulated. Many of them are synthetic/unnatural and so the bio-availability is highly questionable. It’s always better to get your nutrition from real, whole food. But life is not perfect, I get it. I take fish oil daily, B vitamins when life is extra busy and multi-vitamins when I don’t make the best food choices. If you decide to supplement, please take a moment to research the brand you’re buying from; don’t buy blindly.

Nutrition Aside..

It’s important to do whatever you can to embody wellness as you start to prepare for the arrival of this tiny human. Some suggestions would be:

  • Take the time to make space (mentally, emotionally & physically)
  • Prioritize sufficient down time & relaxation
  • Get a massage (or give yourself one)
  • Check out some prenatal yoga classes
  • Connect with your baby (touch your belly, talk to them)
  • Download the “I’m expecting” app, which provides you with info on what stages your baby is at, and what food is a comparable size (My friend’s is currently the size of an onion!)
  • Build your support system. Friends and family (bonus if there’s someone who’s been through their own pregnancy, Midwives, and Doulas. Here are some Doula packages my friend Elizabeth Foster offers.

Last but not least, take it all in and enjoy the journey! What a beautiful thing it is to create life♥

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.