Digestion

Protein -- the what, why and how

protein

what is protein?

Protein gives your body the structure and raw materials to anchor itself to the earth. Proteins are made up of individual building blocks called amino acids. A “complete protein” from sources like organic eggs and dairy products, fish, beef, and poultry contain all 8 essential amino acids. Your body needs protein for growth, repair, & maintenance of body tissues — muscles, blood, bones & hormones. Including:

  • Immune system function

  • Energy production when blood sugar is low

  • Metabolic & digestive enzymes

  • Hair, skin, nails, collagen, & elastin

signs of deficiency

  • Loss of muscle tone

  • Confusion

  • Slow wound healing

  • Irritability

  • Low libido

  • Food cravings

  • Too acid or alkaline

  • Fluid retention

  • Fatigue

  • Muscle weakness

  • Thin hair

  • Weak nails

  • Weight loss

signs of excess

  • Acidosis or dehydration

  • Constipation

  • Putrefaction in the gut if stomach acid is inadequate

  • Loss of bone

  • Muscoskeletal issues

  • Kidney dysfunction

  • Ammonia in the blood

How do I know how much protein I should have daily?

Here is a simple formula that helps you determine how much protein you should have daily.

1. weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg

2. weight in kg x 0.8 -1.8 g/kg = protein in grams

Example: 145 pound woman who exercises moderately every week.

1. 145/2.2= 65.90 kg

2. 65.90 kg x 1.3 = 85.67 protein in grams daily

Sedentary adults should get 0.8 g of protein per kilogram of body weight, while endurance runners and strength training athletes need up to 1.4 or 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram, respectively. Also, if you are pregnant or recovering from an injury, protein intake should also be increased.

Now, the ability to digest, assimilate, and absorb the amino acids and nutrients from the protein in order to build, heal, and recover the stomach will need adequate amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCL), AKA stomach acid.

Hydrochloric acid (HCL) activates pepsin enzymes to break down protein. A simple way to produce HCL is to chew slowly and thoroughly. If needed, take a digestive enzyme with HCL like this Pure Encapsulations brand, that I recommend to all of my clients.

Check out my next blog post about getting healthy and lean protein from animal products. And stay tuned for vegetable protein next …

A day in the life: Optimal Fiber Mini Menu

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Now that you know a little bit about the FIBER and the difference between insoluble fiber and soluble fiber – insoluble being known as the roughage part of raw vegetables and soluble as the kind that dissolves in water … you may wonder, how do I know I’m getting enough daily and how do I do it?

The optimal amount of fiber per day is 40 grams and here’s how you can get it …

Breakfast

Blueberry + Spinach  + Chia seed Smoothie = 8 g                                                                           (1/2 cup = 1.8g) + (1 cup = 0.7g) + (1 tbsp = 5.5g)

Snack

Carrot spears + Peanut butter = 5.5g                                                                                                   (1 cup = 3.6g) + (1 tbsp = 1.9g)

Lunch

Lentil soup with Avocado slices = 20.3g                                                                                              (1 cup = 15.3g) + (1/2 avocado = 5g)

Dinner

Vegetable sauté + Brown Rice = 10-12g                                                                                             (8-10g) + (1/2 cup = 2g)

Daily Fiber Content 44.8g

If getting adequate amounts of fiber is tough on certain days … Get a fiber-supplement like psyllium husk, only if needed.

And remember … Get active, go for a 30 minute moderate brisk walking to help food to flow out!

TIPS for improved digestion

Lemon Water

Why is digestion important?

Good health is impossible without being able to break down, absorb & utilize the nutrients that come into our bodies

Digestion involves working with other internal organs to ensure that the nutrients from the foods we eat are properly distributed throughout the body and that everything that isn’t needed or is harmful is eliminated. If nutrients are missing or not in balance, digestion won’t be optimal.

Digestive functions

  1. Break down and absorption of food into compounds your body can use for nourishment.
  2. Eliminating unused waste products of digestion, food waste, metabolic waste, toxic metals, and drug residues.
  3. Aiding the first line of defense in the body’s immune system.
  4. Eliminating waste + immune function. 60% of immunity lives in the tract.

Symptoms of poor digestion:

• Constipation • Loose bowels • Excess gas • Bloating • Acne • Skin rashes • Headaches • Migraines• Irritability• Stomach pain• Food sensitivities • Low back pain • Low energy • Dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria) • Candida• Heartburn • Indigestion

Common causes of poor digestion

• Processed & packaged food • Refined sugar• Low stomach acid• Dysbiosis • Stress • Not chewing thoroughly

Simple ways to improve digestion

SIP ON lemon water or 1 tbsp. of raw apple cider vinegar diluted in water for gastric juice production. Limit beverage intake during meals in order to prevent dilution of digestive juices.

DIGESTIVE BITTERS reduces digestive discomfort, improve digestive system, fuel for good bacteria, breaks down food

FERMENTED FOODS bring your colon back into balance. help your body digest and absorb food with live enzymes.

EAT IN PEACE eating in a peaceful environment with plants, softer lighting, less noise, encourages slower eating & better chewing

I encourage to take your digestion seriously as it houses our immunity, mood, healthy aging, and overall wellness. 

Getting to know your FIBER

Fiber

 

The road to health is paved with good intestines. Eating a diet rich in fiber helps to feed the good microbiota as those friendly-bacteria feast on the fermentable fibers. A diet rich in fiber also maintains healthy blood sugar levels by slowing down the rate that sugar is absorbed into the bloodstream. So what is FIBER?

Fiber is a plant-based nutrient that cannot be digested or absorbed in the gut. Therefore, fiber passes through the gut optimizing digestion and regularity, removing toxins, maintaining healthy weight levels, and reducing cholesterol. 

There are two different types of fiber: Soluble and Insoluble Fiber. 

Soluble fiber dissolves in water allowing it to absorb excess liquid in the colon, creating a thick gel  and bulk as it passes through the gut. 

Soluble fiber comes in fruits + vegetables like:

Avocados, sweet potatoes, asparagus, broccoli, pears, collard greens, carrots, mango, peas, apples, banana, beets, okra, potato, grapefruit, brussels sprouts, and peaches.

and... legumes, grains, nuts + seeds

Black beans, lima beans, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, hazelnuts, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, barley, oat bran

Insoluble Fiber

This fiber is found in the rough skin of raw vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and the bran portion of whole grains. It comes any plant food that is rough, stringy, has a hull, peel, pod, or seeds and it adds bulk to clean the colon and regulate bowel movements.

Insoluble fiber promotes fullness and moves through the gut to remove waste and toxins. This fiber is best in preventing constipation.

We're looking at... Whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, berries, pineapple, apple skin, cauliflower, sprouts, cucumbers, dates, prunes, melons, green beans, granola, cabbage, bok choy, leafy greens, onions, fresh herbs, broccoli, and eggplant.

In general, you will want to drink adequate amounts of water daily to help fiber pass through the colon smoothly.

If constipation is health challenge that you struggle with most, follow these tips:

  • Optimal grams of fiber per day: 40g
  • Make sure your mineral intake is sufficient. You may have to increase your sodium intake, especially during the first few days. Also, try 400 mg of magnesium citrate - it helps with constipation.
  • Eat good fats: Seeds, avocados, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil to improve digestion and reduce intestinal inflammation.
  • Make sure you don’t eat too much protein.
  • Get a fiber-supplement like psyllium husk, only if needed.
  • Be more active, go for a 30 minute moderate brisk walking.

 

Raise your vitality

citrus

My approach for a healthy and balanced life is to eat clean, real food, stay hydrated, sleep, think positively, and allow for pleasure. We are a ‘whole’ being, meaning that what we eat, how we think, and how we live directly affects our mind, body, and our spirit.

Food is the first step in achieving vitality and reconnecting to your true unique beauty. Food is our nourishment, when we eat high vibrational foods, their energy radiates through our body to heal the body, prevent disease, and change your mood.

Medical experts and research studies have long recognized the effects of diet and lifestyle on the risk of chronic diseases (1). Therefore using food as your medicine helps you to clear out any toxicity and thereby creating ample space for energy, clarity and making life-affirming decisions.

You see, just like we are made up of energy, so is food. That’s why certain food may deplete your energy or cause harm to your body and why other foods increase your energy and uplift you. Eating foods that are natural and in their pure form will have higher vibrations than most conventional food because they contain living enzymes that are essentials for optimal digestion, assimilation, absorption, overall health and beauty benefits.  

Unfortunately, processed, packaged and conventional food, (tortilla chips, you guys, is my frenemy) which can typically hang out in your pantry for months cause inflammation and make your body more vulnerable to illness and disease. Because your body is so intelligent, it doesn’t recognize these chemical-laden foods as real food, and therefore is unable to metabolize and cleanse from the body effectively. Yep, that’s why you, your BFF, and your sister struggle with bouts of weight gain, brain fog, harsh PMS, acne, stress, and autoimmune disorders, amongst other issues!

Bottom-line? Eating real, whole, nutrient-rich foods is essential for increasing your vitality. Eating a colorful array of vegetables, fruits, plant-based protein, pasture-raised meat & eggs, whole grains (if you’re tolerant to them), and pure clean beverages is going to take you to the moon and back.

Here’s a pro-tip: To eat the rainbow on the daily, choose a vegetable that represents a color from the rainbow and do the same for fruits. With these vegetables you can make a sauté or salad and with the fruit you can whip up a fruit salad or blend them into a smoothie. Activate your well-being! 

 

 

References: Prevention of Chronic Disease by Means of Diet and Lifestyle Changes from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK11795/

EASY post-holiday cleanse tips

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Welcome 2018!

Here are some simple and effective ways to ease into health this year. As always, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of pure water and herbal teas. 

  1. Eat your greens, especially the cruciferous kinds like broccoli, arugula, kale, cauliflower, and radishes– these guys stimulate the detoxification.  
  2. Lose the gas and bloat, ease constipation, and other general gut problems by eating more raw or steamed plant foods, add more fiber and fermented foods.
  3. Reduce stress by taking Epsom salt baths, clean and organize your home, get a facial or massage, and get plenty of rest will help center and refocus yourself.
  4. Get sweaty – eliminate toxins from poor-quality foods, alcohol, and salt. Increasing cardiovascular exercise through exercise, saunas, or steam rooms helps remove these toxic chemicals and pollutants from your body making you feel lighter and improves skin glow. Plus, this makes your brains feel-good chemicals kick-in.

Healthy Gut, Healthy Glow

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Are you constantly being challenged when it comes to your digestion? Do you deal with gas, bloat, lethargy, constipation or diarrhea after you’ve eaten? These are often signs that there’s some dysfunction in the gut.

A slow-moving digestive system means that your body isn’t absorbing any nutrients, which can result in illnesses and degenerative diseases. So, why not take some preventive measures and take on natural and simple rituals daily.

I have definitely noticed an improvement in my digestive health since I started to become more conscious of what I was putting in my body and in what state of mind I was in when I was putting that food in my body. Everything in our individual whole-ness is interconnected, it only makes sense that how we live, eat, and think affects our ability to be healthy.

First thing in the AM, drink a tall glass of warm lemon water. Not only does the fresh squeezed lemon awaken your senses but it also stimulates your stomach to secrete stomach acid, which helps break down your food. It’s important to get the proper digestive flow started in the morning so that you are supported throughout the day.

Get going:

Chew your food. This one is part of my philosophy and a practice that takes mindfulness and patience. Chewing is extremely important because it’s the first step in the digestive process. It begins in the mouth when the teeth chomp on that food that the enzymes start to help you digest that food.

Eat in a parasympathetic state. In other words, relaxing and enjoying your food helps you to digest and assimilate you’re meal. When you’re in a sympathetic state, your body goes in stress mode and stops digesting.

Eat real. None of the garbage that has an inflammatory effect wrecking havoc to your gut flora and digestion. These include preserved and refined foods, sugars, gluten (if you’re sensitive to it), pasteurized dairy and conventional raised meats.

Eat fermented foods. Sauerkraut, kimchi and beverages like kefir, and rejuvelac all contain enzymes and probiotics to help enhance your digestion and absorb your vitamins and minerals. Eating plenty of these or even taking a high quality supplement helps to balance your gut flora.

Take digestive enzymes or bitters. There are three main digestive enzymes that help in the chemical breakdown of food. Amylase enzymes break down carbohydrates, protease break down protein and lipase breaks down fat.  Other enzymes that are helpful are papain and bromelain, derived from papaya and pineapple. Also, consider taking HCL (hydrochloric acid, AKA stomach acid) with enzymes. Stomach acid blends our food into smaller components. Most people think that heart burn comes from too much acid in the system but in reality it’s the opposite. The stomach tends to secrete less stomach acid and with age it becomes harder to even produce it. Bitters is an herbal extract that increases the secretion of digestive enzymes and helps to breakdown proteins into smaller and absorbable molecules. Taken daily helps to eliminate symptoms of poor digestion like gas, bloating, indigestion, and allergies.   

Bone broth. This nutrient dense and healing liquid gold is essential to healing the digestive tract from damage and inflammation. Bone broth is rich in gelatin and amino acids that improve nutrient absorption.

Exercise. Moving the body helps food go down the digestive tract. Low impact movement like walking is very beneficial. Twisting poses in yoga while deeply inhaling and exhaling help massage the internal organs, easing digestion.

Ayurvedic stomach massage. Breathe deeply while you lay on your back using a natural oil to gently massage your abdomen clockwise in big circles starting from below the navel and around into smaller circles until you reach your navel. This healing stomach massage breaks up matter so that it can move around the digestive tract smoothly while also helping to release stress and tension. 

The pros & cons of coffee

coffee

Coffee has never really been my thing to get me started in the morning – to wake up, the aroma, or my catalyst to have a BM… until this past holiday season. I would steal a couple of sips from my partner at breakfast before I headed out of the house, before I could drink any more. But even those two sips would awaken my mind and my heart. Honestly, it was insane to see such a quick reaction.  Obviously, it was a "guilty pleasure" I fell in love with.

The first 3 days after Opie left for the holidays, I didn’t have any coffee. I had forgotten about it and everything was fine. Then for fun one Friday morning I had a cup and then another to follow, then the morning after, and after. I craved that first sip of exhilaration. Then I found my bedtime being pushed back a couple of hours and I could not for the life of me have the strength to get up in the morning. I had feelings of urgency and anxiety about getting work and life done. I knew then that the black liquid gold was the culprit.

There are goods and bads to coffee. Maintaining a healthy balance of consumption is vital for keeping the cons at bay. So, it is my honor to give you the pros and cons of daily consumption and how to get to your sweet spot.

Coffee is great on paper. It contains more antioxidants than green tea and cocoa. This protects the body from cell damage. It’s main component is caffeine, a powerful stimulant that is absorbed into the bloodstream and travels into the brain where other neurotransmitters are increased leading to the firing of neurons. Caffeine can last up to 7 hours in the body...we can do so much in a span of 7 hours, right? 

PROS

  • Coffee contains caffeine, the stimulating component that makes you feel less tired and energized
  • Coffee improves cognitive function --mood, boosts short-term memory, reaction time, and concentration
  • Increases adrenaline levels, so you’re prepped for intense physical exertion if you need to be
  • Coffee reduces risk of developing depression
  • Caffeine sends signals to fat cells to break down body fat
  • Coffee drinkers have lower risks of developing diabetes II, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Coffee is a liver-lover. Coffee protects against common liver diseases like cirrhosis, hepatitis, fatty liver disease and protect against liver and colon cancer
  • Coffee improves exercise performance. Caffeine enhances endurance, strengthens muscle contraction and reduces your perception of pain

CONS

  • Drinking high consumptions can cause irritability, nervousness, and anxiety
  • Caffeine interferes with the body’s natural regulatory rhythms and can impact quality of sleep and can cause insomnia, leading to perpetual imbalances
  • Caffeine can cause headaches
  • Caffeine can cause indigestion
  • Caffeine can reduce fertility in women
  • Caffeine can make menopause symptoms worse

Caffeine can strongly impact the digestive and adrenal system. If you’ve been following me for a while, you’ll know that I bring things back to the digestive and adrenal system (my fave topics).  Caffeine stimulates the stomach to produce stomach acid which can aid in digestion but over time can actually reduce stomach acid production. Low stomach acid production can lead to indigestion, heartburn and low absorption of nutrients.

Drinking coffee raises your adrenaline and cortisol levels, triggering your fight-or-flight mode. If you’re constantly in this mode, your adrenals and nervous system can eventually burn out. In other words, you always feel exhausted. 

If you’re hooked on coffee, you’ll know it. Caffeine alters mood and behavior and can lead to physical dependence. If you are a habitual coffee drinker and you stop drinking it even if its anywhere from 12-24 hours, you will mostly likely notice withdrawal symptoms.

Unfortunately, if you’ve been a huge coffee drinker for some time, the harsher the duration of withdrawal symptoms you may have. Symptoms typically last a few days to a week for light to moderate drinkers but can be as long as two months or more for heavy drinkers.

COMMON WITHDRAWAL SYMPTOMS

  • Caffeine headaches. They start just behind the eyes then move up the front of the head
  • You’re so sleepy you can’t keep yourself straight
  • Lack of energy and motivation to get things done
  • Lack of concentration, focus or coordination
  • Brain fog
  • Constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

GIVE YOURSELF SOME TLC

Caffeine affects everyone differently, so if you’re starting to experience some negative side effects like heart palpitations, anxiety or indigestion, consider cutting down to find your balance.

Since caffeine can stay in the body for up to 7 hours, you may want to consider only drinking it in the morning or switching to decaf or half caffeinated-half decaf.

Cutting cold turkey may cause intense withdrawal symptoms, especially if you are a heavy drinker. Consider tapering gradually. For example, if you typically drink 16 oz a day, cut down to 12 oz for a couple of days, then 10 oz, and so on. This will allow your body to acclimate to its natural rhythms.

Stay hydrated. Your brain and cells need water for optimal functioning. You will feel better. Trust me.

Allow yourself to rest. The first couple of days may be the hardest, so if you choose to cleanse from coffee, it’s best to do so during the weekend or when you know you will have time to rest and get extra sleep.

Sweat it out. You may be tired to exercise but breaking a sweat will release dopamine, your brains pleasure chemical.

Eat the rainbow. Colorful fruits and veggies will give your body the nutrition it needs, giving you energy and a positive mind space.

Eat adequate levels of lean protein and healthy fats to stabilize blood sugar levels. Lean animal meat like poultry and fish and healthy fats like avocados, nuts and seeds will provide sustainable energy and satiation for hours.

WHAT’S UP WITH DECAF?

Decaf coffee isn’t totally caffeine-free.  The USDA only requires products to be 97% caffeine-free in order for manufacturers to make the claim on the label, so there’s still a mild stimulating effect.

HOW TO KEEP COFFEE HEALTHY

  • Keep consumption at 8-12oz, which is about 80-200mg of caffeine per cup
  • Order it black, or add a little whole milk or a nut milk
  • Leave out the sugar
  • Replenish with water. For every ounce of coffee, you want to double that in water. Example: 8 oz coffee = 16oz water.

Most people enjoy the ritual of drinking coffee but you can begin new rituals with these ALTERNATIVES if you give it up:

  • Green tea
  • Licorice tea for adrenals and energy
  • Siberian ginseng for concentration
  • Rich black tea with milk, like chai
  • Dandy Blend, a herbal blend of dandelion and chicory root. This one is great because it looks like coffee and even tastes like it.

Now that I love coffee, I don't mind taking a little swig of it here and there and drinking alternatives. Now, go find your sweet spot.

What have been some of your experiences with coffee intake? Leave a comment below.