The World According to Your Gut

Source: SweatlifeNYC

The gut is where everything good happens in your body. Or it’s where it should be happening. If your gut is unhealthy, then there is a lot of bad happening in your body that you aren’t connecting to the state of your gut. Well, you’re not alone. Most of us don’t put make that connection but I want to share some things I’ve learned lately that you may find pretty interesting yourself.

A few weeks ago, I joined Chalene Johnson’s Diet Beta Test group but it isn’t what it sounds like. It isn’t a diet as much as it is an experiment and you are in charge. What Chalene does is gather scientific information via research and interviews with experts then shares them in the beta group. It is broken down to weekly sessions so that you can go through the information at your own pace. There are three levels of this test group and this was level one.

I joined this beta test group because the objectives of the five week test were to help with weight loss resistance, balancing hormones, reduce inflammation, heal my gut (which I didn’t realize I still needed!) and even shifting my mindset around eating.

The program was broken down like this:

Week One: Education and learning 

Week Two and Three: Priming our systems with Intermittent Fasting for Week Four 

Week Four: Fasting (you choose the protocol that works best for you)

Week Five: Refueling the body post-fast

I know exactly what you are thinking. Fasting is starving yourself! No wonder people lose weight.

I’ve actually fasted before and have played around with intermittent fasting quite a bit so these weren’t new concepts for me. There are lots of podcasts, articles and blog posts out there talking about intermittent fasting and multiple day fasts so I was mentally on board. What’s important to know is that it is a myth that fasting is detrimental and that we completely mess up our metabolism. There are actually lots and lots of benefits from doing a multiple day fast a few times a year.

But first, let’s discuss Intermittent Fasting. This is the amount of time between the last meal of your day to the first meal of the next day. The goal is to shorten the eating window to eight hours a day. So a typical day would be eating your first meal at noon and your last at 8 p.m. The purpose of this type of eating schedule is to help you get rid of the glucose in your body and switch to burning fat.

The other benefits of IF are :

  • reduces triglycerides
  • reduces blood pressure
  • reduces inflammation
  • reduces oxidative stress (hello anti-aging!)
  • increases cellular turnover (helps us heal faster)
  • increases our fat-burning potential
  • increases our HGH (growth hormone)
  • increases our metabolic rate

Did that grab your attention? Yeah, mine too. So for the two weeks of Intermittent Fasting, I chose to have my bulletproof coffee (made with mushroom coffee by Four Sigmatic along with Brain Octane oil with a touch of ghee) first thing in the morning, then had some sort of salad with healthy fats for lunch, then a little protein, veggies and fat for dinner. With the Bulletproof Coffee, I had no problem waiting until noon to eat and is a great way to hack the fast without affecting blood sugar.

The second part of this Intermittent Fasting stage was to switch to eating ketogenic foods to support the shift of burning glucose in the body to fat as a way to fuel the body. So why is it bad to burn glucose? When we eat food high in carbs (glucose), our body has to release insulin to control our blood sugar. The higher the carb count, the more insulin has to be released. Excess insulin or unused glucose (the energy made from the carb-rich foods) is then stored in the fat cells of our bodies. See where I’m going? If we eat a high carb diet and don’t workout enough to burn it all off, we are going to gain weight, plain and simple. The excess insulin is also a concern because if we keep triggering the release of gobs of insulin every time we eat, our bodies need more and more to keep up with the demand. When that happens, you end up being insulin resistant. There is a whole lot of wrong that happens in your body when that happens and it’s a major health issue you should not ignore.

But a problem that kept lingering for me was weight loss resistance. I ate about as healthy as one can eat and worked out at least four times a week. I even stopped drinking alcohol this year to see what would happen. Not much in the weight department but I have slept and felt better than I have in years! Truth: I’ve had three glasses of wine and two mixed drinks since January 1 and I don’t miss it at all. If anyone is reading this that knows me on a personal level, you know this is big. Like big big.

So back to this Diet Beta Test thing. I follow Chalene Johnson on social media as well as her podcast so when this topic of weight loss resistance came up as an issue for her as well, I was all ears. There were some other things happening with her health and after consulting lots of doctors, the driver behind her program became about the gut health, not weight loss like you might initially think based on the name. I thought I knew all about a healthy gut but turns out I didn’t! I had been taking my probiotics and eating a low sugar diet so my gut should be great, right? Surely I didn’t have Leaky Gut Syndrome because I didn’t have any allergies, chronic skin conditions or digestive issues. But from the information I was learning from Chalene’s test group, there’s a good chance I did due to inflammation. We can be in a state of chronic inflammation and not even know it. This is what I was talking about earlier about not making the connection from what was happening in our bodies to our gut health. Inflammation is a key contributor to Leaky Gut. This can come from certain inflammatory foods and over time, they break down the gut lining. Maybe it’s eggs or dairy or corn or gluten or alcohol or sugar. You won’t know unless you get tested or do an elimination diet.

And can we talk about the gut lining for a second? There are things I learned from her interview with Dr. Zach Bush that I had no idea about! Did you know that our gut lining is one cell thick? One stinking cell. I also learned that there are special protein strands that lace those cells together to create a powerful barrier between what is in our gut and what is in our blood stream. When those protein strands get weakened and create gaps between our intestinal wall cells, our immune systems become compromised and then our body starts down the path of poor health. I also learned that if we keep taking the same probiotic over and over, we are creating this monoculture of bacteria that may not be all that beneficial. This was a major lightning bolt for me. You can listen to the podcast here.

As I dove more into who Dr. Zach Bush was and listened to Chalene’s post-interview closing, I learned about a product he sells called Restore. FYI, he didn’t mention his product once in his interview. By taking Restore daily, you can restore and keep the integrity of your intestinal wall despite the things that are working on destroying it, like maybe inflammatory foods. Of course, it’s important to get tested or do an elimination diet to find out what may be causing some of my food sensitivities, but there are some things I can’t control that may also be affecting me like the quality of the air or the soil. Chances are there is glyphosate in much of our environment. Unfortunately, so much so that it’s hard for the organic crops to stay organic because it even gets in the rain water. And why is glyphosate bad? Let me count thy ways but one of the main is that it kills bacteria, even the good ones. The ones we need for a healthy gut. So if all the good bacteria are gone, what happens? We become hot messes, that’s what, and society becomes an endangered species because we won’t have enough of the good stuff to kick out the bad.  I just started taking Restore this week so I’ll report back on how it goes.

So let’s get to week 4, the one you are all wondering about. I chose to do a three day fast while drinking Bulletproof coffee or my Four Sigmatic mushroom tea (blended it with Brain Octane oil with no added fat source like I did while doing IF), water, or bone broth. I did great the first two days but come the morning of day three, I felt horrible. I felt like I had the flu but this can happen as you make the shift to burning fat instead of glucose as fuel and transition into ketosis. I ended up drinking some bone broth and felt much better. I lasted until about 5:00 p.m. and I was ready to be done. The important thing is that you don’t shock your body and have a gourmet meal right away. You ease your digestive system back into having food so I ended up doing more bone broth and a few soft nuts. As I reintroduced foods I found that I felt bloated after having corn as well as eggs so I’ve avoided them ever since.

A nice side benefit is that I lost 6 pounds. I had gained one during my IF phase then lost six from that point. I was sure that once I started eating again that it would all come right back but I was wrong. I’ve kept the net five pounds off and it’s been a full week since I broke my three day fast. I haven’t lost five pounds since 2010 so this was big for me. The bloat was gone, my muffin top shrank and I fit into some pants that I had long given up on. Again, not to stress the weight loss but there is something to fasting as a way to reset the body.

I highly encourage you to look into IF, fasting, and the ketogenic diet to see if it is something that could benefit you as well. Of course, check with your physician before starting anything like this, especially if you are being treated for a medical condition.

If you want to learn more about Chalene’s Diet Beta Test, go here for more information.

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If you follow me on Instagram and watch my stories, you will already know some of this information because I’ve been sharing my Diet Beta Test experience over there. If you’re not following me, head over to IG and you can find me at @hallie_sawyer. I share things in my stories that aren’t posted in my timeline so once they’re gone, they’re gone. I share thing I’m trying, books I’m reading, essential oil tips, funny personal stories, and other things to help my audience learn, laugh, and inspire them to make changes in their lives, too.

 

Three Ways to Stop Suffering from Allergies (Part 3)

I hope you’ve learned a lot from the past two posts and you have a new appreciation for your gut and good ol’ clean water. I know I do! Not that we shouldn’t suffer once in awhile (good for the soul) but enough is enough. Allergic reactions come in many forms and while it can be a long haul for some of us to get things back in working order, you can use something right away to make an impact.

Essential oils are a great way to support the body’s response to seasonal threats as well and to help deal with your immediate symptoms.

For example:

Combo 1: 2 drops of cilantro, melaleuca, and lavender either in an empty veggie capsule, taken in 1 oz of water, or applied topically to the forehead, cheeks, chest or bottoms of feet

Combo 2: 2 drops of lavender, lemon, and peppermint taken in a veggie capsule, in 1 oz of water, or applied topically to the forehead, cheeks, chest or bottoms of feet

Combo 3: 1-2 drops each of lemon, lavender, eucalyptus and roman chamomile and applied topically to forehead, chest, cheeks or bottoms of feet.

When could you use these?

  • Take before gardening this spring
  • Take before going out to feed horses or cows (hey, you never know!)
  • Use when hiking during spring or fall
  • Protects against seasonal and environmental elements
  • Cleansing to the body’s systems
  • Calming and balancing effects, internally and externally
  • Promotes clear breathing and healthy respiratory functions
  • Helps you through changing seasons by protecting against environmental threats
  • Take daily during times of seasonal discomfort or to maintain clear breathing

The reason there are different combinations is because everyone’s body is different and we don’t all react to the oils in the same way. Also, there are multiple combos because different oils do different things. Lemon breaks up mucus, peppermint discharges phlegm and clears aways, and lavender calms irritation and lowers histamines. Roman Chamomile stimulates the body’s immune system, Eucalyptus relieves pain, clears mucus and inhibits the growth of bacteria. Cilantro inhibits the growth of fungi as well as removes toxins and cleanses the body. Melaleuca helps fight and prevent infection and so much more.

Once you are educated on how they work and have the right resources to guide you, you will be able to use them in a way that is empowering and actually helpful to you and your family. What I love is that they are non-toxic. While I’m fighting off an infection, my liver doesn’t have to figure out what to do with the oils. They aren’t something it has to detox my body from, therefore, my liver doesn’t have to work overtime.

Essential oils are multi-dimensional which means that these oils are just used for fighting allergies. I use all of these oils in many, many ways. You can only use your over-the-counter medication for the intended use.

Also, the body recognizes essential oils because they come from plants. We eat plants. They understand each other. Essential oils can penetrate the cells of our body and get to work inside the cells. That is where the magic happens.

As you drink bone broth, take your probiotics, drink lots of clean water and use essential oils, you are getting immediate relief as well as getting to the root cause of your allergy problem and solving it for good. The initial use of essential oils will help with the immediate symptoms but the lifestyle choices you make will determine how long or how little you continue to suffer.

I know it sucks to stop having sugar and drinking those beers/margaritas/martinis. I know it sucks to tell your kids they can’t have all that pop anymore. I know it sucks to try to get them to eat healthier. I’m still fighting that battle myself.

But you know what doesn’t suck? Feeling great. Not having a marching band play your head every day in the spring and fall. Being able to open the window at night and breathe in the fresh spring air or the crispness of fall. Not wanting to scratch your eyes out every second. I’ve been there and I refuse to go back.

Here are some resources for you to help you get started.

Books

 

The Essential Life (Total Wellness Publishing)

This is what is mainly what I use to guide me in my everyday oil use. I don’t have all the oils memorized nor do I care to. I know a lot of the oils well just from every day use but I still look in my resource book when I have a specific condition, mood, or health issue I want to impact.

 

 

 

 The Blood Sugar Solution by Dr. Mark Hyman (click on photo)

This is a great book to learn about your body and how the various symptoms you have relate to the systems of the body. He gives some eye-opening health statistics and real life medical cases he has helped with natural health solutions. There are practical tips and advice for you to use to get yourself on the right road to long-lasting health.

 

 Superlife by Darin Olien (click on photo)

I referenced this in the post about hydration but there are lots and lots of great nuggets of information in this book. If you are needing a lifestyle change and don’t know where to start, he touches on five areas that will give you some direction.

 

 

Products

 

 

Probiotic 15-35 from Vitacost (use this link and get $5 back on first order)

–I use these almost daily and have been for a very long time. They’ve never failed me!

 

 

 

 

Essential Oils from dōTERRA

–These are the oils I use personally as well as the oils I share with others via samples, classes, and through great conversation. I’m 100% using these as our main method of handling our everyday health care needs. They helped us so much that I decided to share what I’ve learned so I can help others. I love leading people to empowerment and better health. Crazy in love with it all.

If you want to know more about the benefits of essential oils or need to know how to get them yourself, leave a comment below and I’ll reach out to you. They are the bomb dot com, I promise.

Collagen 

There are lots of options out there and this is just one of many. The important thing is to look at grass-fed sources, the kind that can dissolve in hot or cold liquids, or you can also choose a marine collagen from wild-caught sources. Amazon has lots of options with various price ranges. This helps build healthy bones, cartilage and tendons. It also contains important amino acids that helps repair intestinal lining.

Bone Broth (as protein or liquid)

Bone broth can also be used (also contains collagen) to provide the necessary vitamins and minerals to help all kind of areas of the body, not just the gut. The collagen in bone broth is the key to gut health but why not take something that can help other areas at the same time. You can make your own bone broth at home (there are recipes out there to use) but it’s definitely recommended to use all organic and grass-fed ingredients. Because I don’t to take the time, I need to buy it. Whole Foods has great options as well. I’ve seen BonaFide and Epic brands touted heavily on social media by health gurus so take that for what it is worth.

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So now you know! You weren’t born to suffer these allergies and can totally take back your spring and fall. There are lots of allergies out there, not just related to the change in seasons. These same methods can help with those as well. Again, be a sponge. Read all the things and do your research. You can stop the suffering just like I did. It may take some detective work and trying some new things but it’s so worth it.

 

{This post contains affiliate links}

 

Three Ways to Stop Suffering from Allergies (Part 2)

 

In Part 1 we talked about healing the gut to help stop the onslaught of suffering with each blooming tree. Repairing the lining of the stomach is super important and the number one priority. If it works like a sieve, anything and everything will get through. I also mentioned adding probiotics as a way to help build up the good gut flora. My next piece of advice is going to seem contradictory but stick with me.

 

Decrease high histamine foods and increase water intake.

 

Here is the tricky part…kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, etc. are high histamine foods. I know, I know, I just told you in the last post to eat these things because they are natural probiotics so here is the caveat. You can either wait to add these to your diet after you’ve been taking probiotics for a little while and your symptoms are starting to wane or, you could eat these things and take digestive enzymes simultaneously.

High histamine foods may not the main problem as much as the need to reduce the amounts of histamine in your body. So let’s say you’re eating high histamine foods in your diet on a consistent basis and then the spring allergens hit like gale force winds. The perfect storm happens. You may not know it but there are other signs that you have high histamine levels and not connect the two. I found this list of signs from this article at FoodMatters.com of someone who may have high histamine buildup in the body:

High histamine types tend to:

• Cry easily

• Hear their pulse in their head on the pillow at night

• Itch and scratch a lot

• Have seasonal allergies

• Have a low pain threshold with regular headaches and other aches and pains

• Produce excessive mucous

• Feel nauseous easily

• Have a high sex drive and easy orgasm

• Experience inner tension or ‘driven’ feelings

• Have episodes of ‘blank mind’

• Suffer with depression and sometimes suicidal thoughts

• Have abnormal fears, compulsions, rituals

• Be a light sleeper or experience severe insomnia

• Appear to tolerate a lot of alcohol or drugs

• Have a fast metabolism with high body temperature.

• Be of lean build with little body hair

• Have a large nose or ears, long fingers and toes (and often a longer second toe than the first)

• Have excellent teeth

Interesting stuff, right? This article suggests that people may be histamine intolerant and don’t produce the necessary enzymes to break histamines down, therefore, causing the build up. Two digestive enzymes, DAO and HNMT, are great for breaking down histamines and by taking vitamin C and B6 can help boost those specific enzymes in the body.

Histamine rich foods are things like :

  • alcohol
  • processed fish (tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • cured meats
  • eggs
  • aged cheese
  • fermented foods
  • vinegar
  • some fruits and vegetables (see the article I linked to above for the specifics)
  • processed foods

Sounds like a typical American diet, doesn’t it? So when it’s suggested to cut these things out, people tend to panic. Don’t think this means forever. We are just trying to reduce the histamine levels so that you can get things under control again. It’s like shooting a firehouse at flimsy door. Eventually, it’s going to give way. So we need to shut off that firehose for bit so we can fix our door, making it stronger than ever. However, I think you’ll find that when you replace the things on this list with other whole foods that make you feel amazing, you may not want to add these things back in. That’s what happened to me and I changed my lifestyle permanently when I realized how good I could feel again. Did I slip up and fall back into old, unhealthy patterns? Hell, yeah I did. But I felt like shit and I got right back to eating what made me feel great again. It’s amazing what can happen for us when we listen to what our bodies are telling us! 🙂

The second part of this post will be quick but still very important. By increasing our water (squeaky clean only) intake, we can reduce our reaction to allergens. I wrote a blog post early last week about hydration which is super important to read. Take a second to go through it and come back. Did you read the part about cellular dehydration increasing histamine levels? Yeah, that part got me, too. It explained so much! Again, drinking water has to be the right kind of water for our body to really use it. It can’t contain any particles or solids at all for it to get into our cells. Guess what? Tap water all the way to filtered water has particles and solids, just at varying levels. High quality water is imperative for our bodies to work right and to keep our systems working at optimal levels.

Distilled water with added minerals is the way to go if you can’t get high quality spring water in a glass bottle. However, the integrity of spring water these days is just as in short supply as the water we see labeled as “purified”. Distilled water has absolutely nothing in it so while is fantastic for truly hydrating us down to our cells, the lack of minerals gets us into a little bit of trouble. If we don’t get enough minerals, our bodies will pull it from the bones to use what it needs to work. The easy fix is to add 1/2 teaspoon of unrefined Himalayan crystal salt to a gallon of water.

Recap:

  • Reduce the amount of histamines
  • Increase digestive enzymes either through supplementation or taking Vitamin C and B6
  • Increase cellular hydration by drinking very high quality spring water or distilled water with 1/2 tsp. of unrefined Himalayan crystal salt

This is not a cure all nor is it a rigid set of rules. These are suggestions and tips that may help you get the results you want and have shown to work in the past. We are all walking science experiments and just because something doesn’t work for you, doesn’t mean something else won’t. Be a detective and keep digging. Having a healthy and well-lived life is worth it and that is hard to do when you or your loved ones are constantly sick and miserable.

Have a great weekend!