How To Improve Gut Health.

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Fermented foods are one of the many excellent choices for gut health. 

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”
 
And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc.  We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.
 
There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.
 
This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.
 
For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.
 
A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.
 
The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.
 
So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

How to improve gut health
 
There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.
 
You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.
 
By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.
 
The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.
 
And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.
 
Conclusion
 
The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.
 
The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

If you would like a copy of my Top 10 Foods For Gut Health email me at info@jbarnesliving.com 


The Key to Good Thyroid Function

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Thyroid issues seem to be on the rise and health professionals are looking in different areas for a smoking gun. Some blame gluten (it is not a cause). Some assume everyone has an autoimmune condition like Hashimoto’s, even without a proper diagnosis.

And most approach the thyroid, like it is the problem and therefore giving it some key nutrients will solve the problem.

The issue with all the theories, is a failure to truly understand what affects the thyroid. The truth of the matter is that for most people with thyroid issues, lack of thyroid nutrients is not the problem. Nor is autoimmunity and it is certainly not gluten.

The problem is that too many other systems in the body affect how we produce and use thyroid hormones:

• Excess cortisol from the adrenals can lower thyroid function
• The liver does as well as it helps convert T4 to T3 (our active thyroid hormone) and plays a key role in affecting metabolism
• The gut bacteria also help convert T4 to T3. Gut bacteria also exerts influence on the HPT axis (hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid) which is the main signalling pathway for the production of thyroid hormones
• Excess insulin adversely affects thyroid function again by influencing the HPT axis

The thyroid’s relationship with the liver, the adrenals, the gut and the pancreas is important and these areas must be supported to help the thyroid. This is usually not part of most thyroid protocols and may explain why so many people fail to see an improvement even when they are prescribed thyroid medications.

So what can you do for your thyroid?

Eat thyroid foods such as sea vegetables like nori, kelp, or dulse, seafood and coconut oil.

Eat liver-friendly foods such as kale, broccoli, garlic, onions, apples, beets, lemon, limes, berries and Jerusalem artichokes and regular artichokes.

Consume plenty of fiber, probiotic and prebiotic foods to feed the gut and help it function as its best.

Reduce stress and support the adrenals. Adaptogens such as maca root powder and schizandra powder can be worked into recipes. Ashwaghanda, holy basil or licorice tea can all be consumed throughout the day. Pick the one you like. Also, developing a routine that can reduce stress and allow for proper relaxation is important.

Lowering stress will also help prevent blood sugar swinging up and down and prevent high insulin. Eating small meals throughout day as well as consuming many foods good for the gut, adrenals and liver will all play a role in keeping blood sugar stable.

A good thyroid protocol is not hard to accomplish and it is great that we can eat our way to better thyroid function and hopefully, have some relaxing fun along the way.

l love hearing from you send me your comments and feedback to info@jbarnesliving.com

 


Hormones and Your Hunger

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Hormones & Your Hunger

Did you know what you eat can affect your hormones?

Balancing hormones is complicated. But you have to start somewhere one of the many ways to balance your hormones is to eat foods that help keeps the body in balance.

Balance Blood Sugar

Bad eating habits and stress can cause our blood sugar to swing up and down throughout the day. When our blood sugar drops, we can experience anger, fatigue, weakness and depression. Normally, we then receive a signal to do something such as a sugar craving or a desire for a coffee or alcohol. If we respond to the craving, and consume something, this will bring our blood sugar back up. Caffeine, sugar and alcohol all cause the blood sugar to swing up high. This causes a high insulin release. And too much insulin can affect other hormones.

If we do not respond to the craving, then our adrenals send a signal to tell the liver to release stored glucose and bring up blood sugar. Blood sugar swings high and again, large amounts of insulin are released.

To keep blood sugar stable it is important to eat small meals throughout the day with fiber and/or protein. Blood sugar stabilizing foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, cinnamon and legumes can be very helpful. Complex carbohydrates are also good to help manage post meal blood sugar spikes as they are higher in fibre and digest more slowly. Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, potatoes, beans, peas and lentils are examples of complex carbohydrates. Adding a good fat to a meal also helps keep your blood sugar stable and are excellent for hormone health.  Examples are good quality olive and coconut oil, avocado, nuts and seeds.

Lowering stress also helps keep blood sugar stable.

When we are stressed, the adrenals work overtime to protect us from what they consider physical stress (even though we are not really in danger). This is our fight or flight response. It causes the adrenals to produce higher levels of adrenaline and cortisol.

Because we can only produce adrenaline for a few seconds, our fight or flight response is dependent on excess cortisol, and this is where the havoc begins. Excess cortisol has been linked to depression, blood sugar problems, reproductive issues, anxiety and weight gain around the middle.

To balance your blood sugar it is key to include a source of protein, good quality fat and complex carbohydrates as well as stress reduction as this will go a long way to balance your hormones.

A story about one of my client
One of my clients came to see me as she suffered from intense sugar cravings as well as mood swings, PMS and poor concentration. She was under a lot of stress to the point she had difficulty making the simplest decision. She has been following the hormone program for 2 months and has seen vast improvements. The biggest changes were her sugar cravings have reduced and she has reported that she does have a sense of calm and her focus has improved.

Here’s the good news
There is a way to turn your frown upside down.

And it does not involve buying expensive supplements or doing complicated exercise routines

It involves something you really like to do – eating.

l have developed a complete hormone balancing program that allows you to eat your way to rebalancing your hormones.

The Healthy Hormones 8 Week Program will help you re- balance your hormones, using the foods that the systems in your body need to function properly. Click here for more details

A “Hormone Reboot ” You Can Do In 30 Days?

Of course…l love to hear your feedback and comments what you would like to see more of in my blog posts. Email me your comments


A Hormone Reboot you Can do in 30 days?

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A Hormone Reboot You Can Do in 30 Days?

Have you ever felt that your body and you are not on the same page?
 
There’s a reason for that. There are players in your body, called hormones, that are making decisions for you.
 
And the food you eat may not be doing what is best for you
 
Does this sound familiar?

  • Getting through the day is a struggle
  • You feel tense and ready for a meltdown at any moment
  • Your body feels sluggish and achy
  • You have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep at night.
  • Weight gain seems to be your new best friend
  • And you crave sweet or salty foods all the time
  • One minute you are happy and the next minute the world is coming to an end

If  you suffer from any or all of these, then you are experiencing the effect of whacky hormones.

When they are balanced, they make you feel great and when they are out of balance, they make you feel miserable.

  • Here’s the good news…
     
    There is a way to turn your frown upside down.
     
    And it does not involve buying expensive supplements or doing complicated exercise routines

          It involves something you really like to do – eating.

I have developed a complete 8 week hormone balancing program that allows you to eat your way to re-balancing your hormones.  

Hormone health is especially important at this time as your hormones govern the vitality of your entire body.  This program is not a cleanse but a customized program that provides focused support to re-establish balance to your hormonal system as a whole.  This program will work with your specific hormone profile to re establish balance through diet, lifestyle changes and supplements.    

Click here for more details

The 8 week healthy hormone program starts March 19th so sign up now and get enrolled in the program so that you are feeling great for the summer months and onwards.
 
Book a 30 minute discovery session to see if the 8 week hormone program is for you.

A story about one of my client who completed the 8 week hormone program…
One of my clients came to see me as she suffered from intense sugar cravings as well as mood swings, PMS and poor concentration.  She was under a lot of stress to the point she had difficulty making the simplest decision.  She has been following the hormone program for 2 months and has seen vast improvements.  The biggest changes were her sugar cravings have reduced and she has reported that she does have a sense of calm and her focus has improved. 

Of course…l love to hear your feedback and comments what you would like to see more of in my blog posts.  Email me your comments 

Jennifer Barnes is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who specializes in hormone health and how to balance them naturally with food and life style changes.