How to Improve Your Gut Health. Simple Steps that You Can Take Today!

Lately you’ve taken a keen interest in gut health. You realize you are having gut issues as you are struggling with bloating, constipation and sometimes diarrhea.

You’ve read about gut dysbiosis, leaky gut and natural ways to heal your gut after a round of antibiotics.

You are ready to make a change, but just don’t know where to start!

Good News! I have some simple steps you can take to improve your gut health. You can start taking these steps immediately. Keep reading to begin your journey in healing your gut!

Step 1: SLEEP

 

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Sleep can improve gut health

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our gut health, as well as our overall health. Not getting enough sleep can increase inflammation in the body and can lower the immune system. I wrote a blog post here on the importance of sleep.

There are a few studies that have been done that show sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome. Therefore, aim for getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. If this seems unattainable, then start small. Tonight, start going to bed 5 minutes earlier then you normally would, then slowly increase this time until you are getting the hours of sleep that work best for your body.

If you are having trouble getting into this routine, a visual reminder or an alert on your phone can help you to remember to go to bed earlier. I use the “Bedtime” icon in the clock app of my phone to remind me that it’s time to go to bed. This reminder helps me to keep on schedule and not be tempted to watch “just one more show” on Netflix.

Step 2: Stop Eating 3 Hours Before Going To Bed

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Stop eating 3 hours before bed

For those of you who love to snack before bed, this one may be hard. However, one of the best ways to begin the journey of gut healing is to STOP eating after dinner.

 

Digesting food takes a lot of energy for your body. If you eat a big meal, or a sweet high calorie snack too close to bedtime, then your body will not be able to properly digest this food. Your body needs energy to sleep and also needs energy to digest food and absorb nutrients. However, it cannot do both things at the same time efficiently.

Eating too close to bedtime will cause poor digestion. This means that your body will not have digested the food properly. Not enough of the food will be broken down properly, leaving excess food particles in your gut. This food then sits fermenting. This fermentation then feeds the opportunistic bacteria.

Eating at least 3 hours before bedtime gives your body the time it needs to digest the food, and break it down for the nutrients to be absorbed properly into the blood stream. Then when it’s time for bed, your body will be able concentrate on making necessary repairs to your body as you sleep.

Step 3: Exercise

Want to improve your gut health? Then start moving that body!

You don’t have to go out and join a gym or pay for a yearly online workout program to get your body moving. If this seems overwhelming or something you are just not ready for, then a simple daily walk is a great start. Plus going for a walk outside is great for your body and gut microbiome.

 

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Decide what you like to do and just start doing it! Pick a time of day that will work best for you. A time when you won’t be disturbed by kids or by daily demands. I wake up early and do my workout in the morning as I know I will have fewer distractions and won’t be disturbed by my kids.

Step 4: Hydrate

 

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Our bodies are made up of about 75% water. We lose water every day through breathing, going to the bathroom, and sweating. Our body is in a constant state of balance between fluid intake and fluid loss.

Drinking water daily helps to keep the body in balance. When the body is out of balance and doesn’t have enough water, that is when dehydration occurs. Not drinking enough water can cause constipation and acid reflux. Both of these issues can do a lot of harm to the gut flora.

Aim to drink about half of your body weight in ounces. My daily water intake goal is 70 oz. Some days I drink more then this, and other days I don’t quite make that goal.

I find drinking plain water can sometimes get a tad boring so I will usually add some lemon juice and ginger to my water. I will even add a few drops a Stevia if I’m looking for a bit of that lemonade taste without the sugar.

Fruit infused water is also another great way to stay hydrated while drinking water that has a yummy flavor to it.

Step 5: Eat Until You Feel 80% Full

At one point in time or another, all of us have over eaten. You know the feeling, your stomach feels heavy, you feel tired and your guts gurgle and are gassy. This over eating puts a lot of stress on your digestive system. Overeating causes food to ferment, and this fermented food becomes food for opportunistic bacteria, yeast and fungus.

 

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To avoid overeating, follow the 80% rule. This rule is simple: eat until you feel 80% full.

It’s as simple as that. This rule is covered in the book Clean Gut by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

Following this rule will help you to slow down when you are eating and to take mental note of how your are feeling while you are eating. As soon as you feel satisfied and full (but not overfull…..if you know what I mean), then STOP eating.

Take Back Your Gut Health!

Starting on the journey of healing your gut can seem daunting, however, these five steps will help you to get started.

The great thing about these steps is that none of them cost any money and you can begin incorporating them into your life TODAY!

What are you waiting for? The power to change your health is in YOUR hands!

What do you think?

Are these steps attainable for you? Comment below and let me know!

xo

The Gut Nerd

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click on any of my links and purchase the product, I will receive a small commission. Thank you! 

5 Easy, Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

“Can I have something to eat?”

 

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Now more then ever, this is what I hear many, many, MANY times in one day.  With my kids doing online school and being home all day,  thanks to Covid-19, the snacking meter has gone wayyyy up!

I make sure my kids are eating a balanced breakfast, lunch and dinner. Balanced meals usually have the three macronutrients in good balance.

A protein, a carbohydrate and a healthy fat. I make sure to drill this into my kids head so that they feel full and satisfied for longer periods of time.

Of course, this doesn’t happen every day as some days I am busy and can’t always be overseeing their breakfast and lunch preparations.

I always know when they haven’t had a balanced meal because about one hour after eating they’ll come up to me and say “MOM, I’m hungry!! Can I have a snack??”

SIGH!

OK, so NOW I need to make sure they are getting a snack that will be filling, healthy AND balanced so that this snack will hold them over until the next meal. Grazing like a cow is not what I want my kids to be doing.

In order for this balanced snack to happen, I decided to find healthy, kid approved snacks that would satisfy my kids and taste good at the same time.

Allow me to share these 5 easy, healthy snack ideas that my kids approve of and enjoy!

1) Dates with Nut Butter

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This recipe isn’t so much a recipe as it is two ingredients put together. This idea I picked up from an Instagram account that I follow @misty_gut_instinct. She loves gut health as much, if not more, then I do! Here is all you will need to make this quick and easy snack:

  1. Organic Pitted Dates: dates are naturally sweet and are great to eat when craving something sweet. They are also a great source of fibre. 1/4 cup (about 4 dates) give you 12% of the daily value for fibre. Dates are also rich in minerals like zinc, magnesium and potassium, PLUS B Complex Vitamins such as thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid.
  2. All Natural Nut Butter: There are many kinds of nut butter that you can use for this snack. Natural nut butters are the best as there are no preservatives in them.

Cut 1/4 cup of pitted dates in half, then take about 3 tablespoons of nut butter and spread it on each half of the date.

Place the snack on a plate and watch your kids devour the snack within seconds! The great thing about this snack is that it will be filling and satisfying for your child (or for you, if you are making the snack for yourself).

I enjoy this snack often. If I am feeling the need for something sweet, this snack helps to satisfy that need.

2) Healthy No Bake Date Bar Recipe

Another recipe with dates!

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Photo from Super Healthy Kids

This one looks like a brownie and tastes like a peanut butter cup! The best thing? The dates are high in fibre, the nut butter is full of protein, plus the cacao powder adds tons of chocolate flavor! I found this recipe here at Super Healthy Kids. Her website is loaded with tons of healthy snack ideas for kids!

3) Grapesicles

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Yes, you read that correct. What is a grapesicle? Well it’s just as it sounds. It’s frozen grapes on a stick. You can find the recipe here.

This snack is fun to make and very refreshing to eat.

One cup of grapes provides you with 1/4 of your daily Vitamin C needs, PLUS 20% of your daily Vitamin K needs. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin and is vital for blood clotting and healthy bones. Not only that, grapes contain antimicrobial properties.

So when your kids ask you for grapes…. the answer should be always YES!!

4) Monkey Toast

For this snack, all you will need is bread, nut butter, banana, raw honey, and chia seeds! You can get access to this quick and easy recipe here.

I suggest substituting regular bread for gluten free bread to make digestion easier. There are a good many gluten gluten free breads to choose from. I like the Udi brand as it is soft and isn’t as dry as some other gluten free breads can be.

100% natural peanut butter is best to use as there will be no preservatives added. I personally love the Adams brand all natural peanut butter. If you or your child cannot eat peanuts, then you can use any type of other nut butter. Some great examples of nut butters are: almond butter, cashew butter, and even sunflower butter. The Kirkland brand all natural almond butter is a great choice as it tastes great.

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Kirkland Almond Butter

Raw honey is the BEST honey to use! Not only is it delicious, but it is better for you then regular honey. Regular pasteurized honey has been heated and filtered so all the nutrients and health powers are gone. Raw honey contains bee pollen which is known to ward off infections and provide natural allergy relief plus boost overall immunity.

Bananas are sweet and a great source of potassium, and fibre which add to the nutrition of this snack.

Lastly, chia seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch! Just 1 ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain, 11 grams of fibre, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat and 30% RDI (reference daily intake) of Manganese and Magnesium and 27% RDI of Phosphor.

I love that this snack tastes delicious, is easy to make and is LOADED with nutrients that your body loves and needs. Your guts will thank you for this snack!

5) Vegetables with Hummus

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Hummus

This snack is super easy and super fast to put together. No recipe needed! All you need is a variety of vegetables and some hummus.

Hummus is a Middle Eastern dip and spread. It is typically made with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), lemon juice. tahini, olive oil and garlic. You can get a recipe for hummus here.

Hummus is a great way to get plant based protein into your diet! Hummus is contains, iron, folate, phosphorus and B vitamins.

Now add a variety of chopped vegetables and you have yourself a nutrient rich, fibre filled snack that your kids are bound to love!

Snacking Should Be Healthy

It is always better to avoid snacking, However, if you want a little snack to tie you over until lunch or dinner, these 5 snacks should do the trick.

Each snack is filled with nutrients that your body needs, PLUS they taste great so your kids will love them as well.

Which snack are you going to try? Which snack do you think your kids will like?

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know!

Happy snacking!

 

xo

Anna aka The Gut Nerd

Eating Healthy During a Pandemic – Start with a Healthy Pantry

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We are entering into week four ( or is it week 5?….) of our “self isolation” over here at The Gut Nerd household. We have finally found our groove when it comes to homeschooling, which is great, because for me, this has been the hardest part! I am no teacher…. let me tell you!

Like most people, I have decided to make my weekly grocery shopping trip into a bi-weekly supply run. This means, more meal planning and strategically looking at what foods to buy. We are all now having to be very strategic and thoughtful about what we buy for our families, how much we buy and WHEN we buy it.

As a nerd of all things to do with the gut, I want to make sure that what I am buying is still healthy and supportive to my gut health AND my family’s gut health.

If you are reading this post, then you too are wanting to help maintain a healthy gut through this pandemic.

Allow me to share with you what to stock in your fridge, freezer and pantry. A healthy pantry filled with gut friendly foods will help to keep your immune system strong and supported. Now, more then ever, it is important to eat foods that help nourish and maintain a healthy immune system.

Meal Plan

 

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Before I even begin making sure my pantry and fridge are properly stocked, I make a two-week meal plan. Having this meal plan allows me to see exactly what I will need for the next two weeks.

I will then walk through my entire house and add on any other items I may need, like laundry detergent, paper towel, body wash and of course…..toilet paper!!

Healthy Grocery List

I will then go about writing out my grocery list based on what I need for my meal plan…..plus any extras I want to add. You know, an extra can of beans here, an extra bag of frozen veggies there.

Since this pandemic began, a lot of items in the stores are very low in stock and some shelves are literally empty. Therefore, I will grab an extra item or two when I’m out.

Healthy Pantry

Items found in the pantry are items that will last from a few months to a few years. These items can be versatile AND healthy, believe it or not!

There is NO need to stock your pantry full of boxed macaroni and cheese, or prepackage ramen noodle bowls. Both of these items have zero nutritional value and will only cause inflammation in your gut, and feed the opportunistic bacteria.

This opportunistic bacteria in our guts, LOVE sugar and processed foods are high in sugars, chemical preservatives and unhealthy fats. Eating a bunch of these foods will only weaken your immune system, and NOW is when we really need to support our immune system and keep it strong, not weaken it!

Here are some ideas of what to stock in your pantry.

Canned Goods

When buying canned goods, make sure you read the labels. Whenever possible, choose canned goods that are low in sodium or have no added salt and few to zero preservatives.

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  • Plant Based Proteins: Canned beans such as kidney, black, navy and garbanzo are high in protein and fibre! If you don’t want to buy canned, you can always buy the dried beans and then soak them and cook them when needed. Dried beans will last in your pantry for up to 2 – 3 years. Canned beans will last for 3 – 5 years.
  • Canned Seafood: Canned seafood is also another way to get in those healthy omega 3’s and protein! Tuna and salmon are the most common type of fish to buy canned. When buying these items, try to buy them in water instead of oil.
  • Soups: Find organic soups if you can as these tend to have less sodium and preservatives. If you are unable to buy organic, then check the labels and do your best to buy lower sodium canned soups. Choose water or broth based soups instead of cream based soups whenever possible.
  • Canned Vegetables: Believe it or not, canned vegetables have just as much nutritional value as fresh veggies. Some canned vegetables can also taste just as good.

More Pantry Items

We all have more then JUST cans in our pantry! Here are some other healthy items that you can stock up on for your pantry.

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  • Legume Based Pastas: These types of pastas are gluten free and usually have double the protein and fibre of regular pasta. However, if you have kids and they prefer the “regular” pasta, then be sure to stock up on these too. Just remember to limit how much refined carbohydrates you eat.
  • Oats: This grain is versatile, high in fibre AND protein! It can be cooked on the stove or in the microwave. Oats can be added to muffins, smoothies and used for overnight oats! It is a filling grain and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.
  • Quinoa: Another grain that is rich in fibre and protein. This grain is a great substitute for rice and can be used as a base for a variety of meals. Keep in mind that this grain can be inflammatory for some.
  • Pancake Mix: Making pancakes from scratch is really easy, however, with flour being a hot commodity, purchasing a few bags of pancake mix is a good idea. When shopping for pancake mixes, be sure to look for brands that are high in protein and low in highly processed flour.
  • Jarred Foods: Look for jarred foods like an organic marinara sauce or salsa. If organic is not an option, then look for jarred sauces that are lower in sodium and preservatives.
  • Nuts and Nut Butters: Stock up on unsalted and raw nuts, plus natural nut butters….unless you are allergic to all nuts, then disregard this one. I suggest unsalted nuts and/or raw nuts as these will be the least processed. The same goes for nut butters. The all natural nut butters usually only have one ingredient in them. The fewer preservatives the better for inflammation and your gut. Also, nuts and nut butters are high in protein AND heart healthy fats.

Healthy Freezer And Fridge Items

Let’s not forget that there are a lot of items we can buy that will stay fresh in our freezers and fridges.

Frozen Food

From frozen fruit and veggies to frozen meals, there are many gut friendly healthy frozen options to choose from and stock up on during your next supply run!

 

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Photo by Christiann Koepke on Unsplash
  • Frozen Fruit: Fruit that is frozen is great for making smoothies and ice cream! Plus frozen fruit is yummy to snack on as is. Don’t forget that frozen fruit is also just as nutritious as fresh fruit!
  • Frozen Vegetables: There are endless varieties to frozen vegetables. You can use frozen vegetables in soups AND sauces. Riced cauliflower is a great alternative to use for rice and making mashed potatoes. Plus, like frozen fruit, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh veggies.
  • Frozen Proteins: There are lots of frozen proteins that you can purchase. Frozen chicken breasts, wings, frozen chicken burgers, frozen turkey burgers, frozen beef burgers, frozen veggie burgers and even frozen seafood. Keep in mind the sodium and preservatives in the frozen burgers. Preservatives can cause gut inflammation.
  • Toaster Waffles: Most frozen waffles are full of preservatives and highly processed ingredients, however there are brands of frozen waffles that are healthier versions. Some of these brands even have fibre and protein in them.
  • Frozen Cauliflower Pizza Crusts: If you want to get away from refined carbohydrates but really love pizza, then buy some of these frozen cauliflower pizza crusts. Keep in mind though that anything pre-made will have preservatives in it and that goes for these pizza crusts as well. They are convenient and will be good to have around in a pinch, but they may cause gut irritation or inflammation due to the corn starch in the product.
  • Frozen Treats: Keeping life in balance is important and enjoying a treat here and there is a must! Be mindful of the preservatives and sugar content of the treat you want to buy. Arctic Zero is a great brand of frozen treat to try. With only 9 Grams of sugar and 1 gram of fat per serving, it’s a great treat to indulge in when stuck at home.

Longer Lasting Perishables

Certain fruits and vegetables will last longer then others. Here are a few you can buy and stock up on.

 

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Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash
  • Eggs: these will last 3 – 5 weeks in the refrigerator, plus they are versatile and high in protein and Vitamin D.
  • Cheese: you can buy this in a block, slices, sticks or even shredded. However, store bought shredded cheese contains inflammatory preservatives. These preservatives are used to keep the cheese from clumping together. A better idea would be to buy the block cheese and then grate the cheese as needed.
  • Fruits: some fruits last longer then others. Apples, oranges, lemons, limes, uncut melons: these fruits can last up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
  • Vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, onion and garlic will last longer if stored in a cool dry place.
  • Olive Oil: this oil will last for 6 months if opened and for YEARS if left unopened.

Our Health Is Of Utmost Importance

A diet which supports gut health will help to support your immune system. This is ALWYAS important but even more so during this pandemic.

These perishable and non-perishable items will help you on your continued journey to obtaining and maintaining a healthy gut.

Making healthy food choices when out shopping or meal planning for the week, will help you to feel in control. These healthy actions are good for your mental health!

Did you find this article helpful?

Comment below and let me know! I would love to hear from you!

Anna – The Gut Nerd.

xo

Sleep And The Immune System – How Lack Of Sleep Affects The Immune System

Sleep and The Immune SystemSleep.

Sleep is important for the body.

Not getting sufficient sleep can affect our health.

Did you know that sleep and the immune system are closely intertwined? In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of sleep and how sleep deprivation (or lack of sleep), can affect the immune system.

Sleep – What IS Sleep?

What exactly is sleep? Although we all sleep, most of us would have a hard time describing exactly what sleep is.

Here are some characteristics that define sleep:

  • Sleep is a period of reduced activity.
  • Sleep means you are usually lying down with your eyes closed.
  • When you are sleeping, there is a decrease in responsiveness to external stimuli.
  • Sleep is a state that is relatively easy to reverse.

 

Physiological Changes

The body goes through some physiological changes during sleep. The body’s blood pressure and temperature drops. Plus our breathing and heart rate become very regular during non-REM sleep.

Brain Activity

During sleep our brain activity changes from variable, random activity during wakefulness and REM sleep, to a more coordinated synchronous pattern during non-REM sleep.

How Much Sleep Should I Be Getting?

The amount of sleep each person needs will, to some degree, vary however here is a guideline for you:

Adult: an adult should be getting 7 – 8 hours of sleep to bolster the immune system

Sleep and The Immune System

Teens: teens need at least 9 – 10 hours of sleep

Younger Kids (Grade School age): younger kids should be getting 10 or more hours of sleep.

After reading the above guidelines, ask yourself if you are getting enough sleep.

The Importance of Sleep On the Immune System

We all know that sleep is important. But do you REALLY know WHY?

Sleep is a natural state that our bodies need to be in order for us to be healthy.

While we are sleeping our immune system produces and releases cytokines.

What Are Cytokines?

Cytokines Sleep and The Immune System

 

Cytokines are a category of small proteins that are important in cell signalling.

This type of protein targets infection and inflammation. Cytokines are both produced and released during sleep.

Certain cytokines MUST increase when you have an infection, inflammation or you are under stress. This is why sufficient sleep is so important.

Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines. Fewer cytokines means that your body has less of these important proteins to help fight off infection and inflammation.

Poor sleep or not enough sleep can increase inflammation, blood pressure, insulin resistance, cortisol (stress hormone), cause weight gain and cardiovascular disease.

Many studies have shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a virus. With this new Coronavirus going around, a good sleep is now even more important to help keep the immune system strong!

In one recent study on sleep, scientists discovered that a good quality sleep can bolster the T cells in your body that fight infection. A good sleep enhances the ability of the T cells to stick to and destroy cells infected by viruses and other pathogens.

How To Catch Up On Sleep

Of course, there are going to be times, when your sleep hygiene, no matter how hard you try, is not at its best. Having a baby, or young kids, or a child with a disability, can throw a wrench in a proper sleep schedule.

The good thing is that you can always nap to help to catch up on the sleep you need. Two naps no longer than 30 minutes, help decrease stress and offset the negative effects sleep deprivation has on the immune system.

The best way to take these naps is to have one 30 minute nap in the morning (mid-morning) and one in the afternoon (early afternoon).

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Sleep and Your Gut Microbiome

Sleep and The Immune System

 

As a nerd of all things gut related, I wanted to cover sleep and the gut as well.

There is growing evidence to suggest that gut microbiome can influence sleep quality.

Sleep is a physiological state that is linked to the immune system, however sleep and the brain-gut microbiome axis (BGMA) is largely understudied, leaving very little known about the effects of sleep deprivation on the gut.

One study found that short term sleep loss induces subtle effects on the gut microbiota. Partial sleep deprivation can alter the gut microbiome composition in as little as 48 hours. However, this same study found that longer periods of sleep deprivation do not have this effect on the gut microbiome.

A more recent study showed that good sleep quality was associated with a gut microbiome containing a high proportion of good bacteria from the Verrucomicrobia. Having a high proportion of this type of good bacteria was then associated with improved performance on cognitive tasks.

However, the way in which the gut microbiome can affect sleep remains unresolved. The molecules that interface between sleep and the gut microbiome remain unidentified currently.

This same recent study also found that microbiome diversity was positively connected with an unfragmented sleep and total sleep time, but was negatively connected with a fragmented sleep.

The results from this study suggests diversity of the gut microbiome promotes a healthier sleep.


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Sleep and How It Affects the Gut Microbiome Remains Unclear

From the few studies I was able to find and read, there are conflicting results. The relationship between sleep physiology and gut microbiome remains unclear.

Further investigations in large and more prolonged sleep studies are needed in order to assess how the microbiota is affected by sleep (or lack thereof).

In the meantime, be sure to make it your goal this week to go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you normally do. Give your body the sleep it needs to support your immune system. Be sure to read my other post on natural ways to strengthen your immune system for more ideas to support your body during this season of new and uncertain viruses!

Xo

Did you find this post helpful? Be sure to leave a comment and let me know. Or share your experiences with sleep and your immune health!

Protect Yourself From Viruses! Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Immune System

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Photo by Andrzej Pobiedziński from FreeImages

A new virus has gotten the attention of all of us this 2020. Well maybe not everyone, but unless you are living under a rock or out in the wilderness with zero internet connection, you have more than likely heard about the newest coronavirus!

The newest Coronavirus has a lot of people worried and scared as there is very limited information about this current virus, and to top it off, the amount of people affected has risen.

As worrisome as new viruses can be, one good thing to note is that there are always natural ways to strengthen your immune system and help prevent or slow down the spread of a virus or bacteria.

What Is The Coronavirus?

What exactly IS the coronavirus? The coronavirus is a large family of viruses. They are zoonotic meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. These types of viruses can range from the common cold to more severe viruses such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-Cov) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-Cov).

SARS-Cov was transmitted from civet cats to humans. MER-Cov was transmitted from camels to humans.

The current coronavirus is COVID-19. Not much yet is known about this newest virus. However, current knowledge about how this virus (COVID-19) spreads is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses (SARS-Cov).

How Is This Current Coronavirus – COVID-19 Spread?

Person to person:

 

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This virus is most often spread when in close contact with someone (about 6 feet).

The virus is spread mainly when the infected person coughs or sneezes. Respiratory droplets from the infected person comes into contact with another person.

These respiratory droplets can land on the mouths or noses of people who are nearby, or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Infected Surfaces or Objects

While it is possible to get the COVID-19 virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching your own mouth, eyes and nose, this is not thought to be the MAIN way the virus spreads.

What Are The Symptoms?

First of all, keep in mind that this virus has a limited geographic spread. So if you are living here in Canada, you are fairly safe from contracting this virus.

However, there are symptoms to look out for with regard to this virus:

Fever

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Cough

Shortness of breath

Breathing difficulties

Severe cases end up with pneumonia, kidney failure and even death.

But keep in mind, this virus, so far has been limited in its spread.

What You Can Do To Prevent Infection

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You have been filled in on all the scary bits and the possible symptoms to look out for when dealing with this new coronavirus.

Now let’s focus on ways to prevent you from becoming infected:

1: wash your hands regularly. Good ol’ soap and water will work.

2: cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.

3: make sure the food you eat is thoroughly cooked

4: avoid contact with a person who shows symptoms of a respiratory illness – eg. coughing and sneezing.

Natural Ways To Strengthen Your Immune System

The best defence in preventing illnesses and infectious diseases is to build a strong immune system. There are many ways to naturally support and build up your immune system.

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SLEEP: make sure you are getting enough sleep. Lack of the proper amount of sleep can directly affect the health of your immune system.

AVOID SUGAR: eating or drinking too much sugar impacts the immune system, so keep the sugars to the natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables.

VITAMIN AND HERBAL SUPPLEMENTS: help support your immune system with vitamins and herbal supplements. Vitamin C, Vitamin D and Zinc are three top vitamins to take to help strengthen the immune system. These vitamins are also ones you should take daily when you feel like you are coming down with a cold.

 

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Herbal supplementation is also a great idea to strengthen the immune system. According to Dr. Axe (author of Eat Dirt), bacteria and viruses in the intestines LOVE dampness and moisture. In order to change this, taking herbal supplements that warm the body, can help to kill off the bacteria and viruses. Bacteria and viruses cannot thrive in a warm and dry environment.

Some herbs to help fight off viruses and bacteria are echinacea, oil of oregano and andrographis. Herbs like astragalus, licorice root and ginger help to strengthen the immune system.

DRINK LESS ALCOHOL: excessive intake of alcohol weakens the immune system and makes it harder for your body to fight off infections.

 

EAT PLENTY OF FRUITS, VEGETABLES, NUTS AND SEEDS: these foods contain nutrients that are essential for our body and help to keep our immune system strong. Plus eating foods high in fibre will help to feed and nourish the good bacteria in your intestines. Good bacteria LOVE fibre!!

fruits-and-vegetables-natural-ways-to-strengthen-the-immune-system

STOP SMOKING: not only does smoking increase the risk of heart disease and cancer, smoking impairs the immune system. The effectiveness of the immune system is greatly reduced in those who smoke, leaving them more susceptible to pathogens (viruses and bacteria).

EAT FERMENTED FOODS: as I have stated in many blog posts, fermented foods are a great way to get beneficial bacteria into your body, and eating these foods can help to strengthen the immune system. Some examples of fermented foods are: sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha and kefir.

PROBIOTIC SUPPLEMENT: if the thought of eating fermented foods is something you just can’t stomach, then look into taking a high quality probiotic. A high quality probiotic taken daily will help to strengthen and grow the beneficial bacteria colonies in your gut and in turn, strengthen your immune system.

YOU HAVE THE TOOLS

While you can’t 100% prevent sickness and infection, you CAN give your body a fighting chance by following the natural remedies above. Most of the natural remedy suggestions can be applied right away and do not cost a lot of money.

What about you? Do you have use any other natural remedies or suggestions to help strengthen the immune system?

If you do, comment below! I’d love to hear your suggestions.

xo

The Gut Nerd

Am I Dehydrated? The Physical Signs of Dehydration

Do you feel thirsty?

Am I Dehydrated? The Physical Signs of Dehydration

If you do, that means that you are already about 1 – 2 % dehydrated!

What does it mean to be dehydrated ?

What are the physical signs of dehydration?

How does dehydration affect your gut?

These questions I am going to answer for you in this blog post today.

So, grab some water, sit down, put your feet up and take some notes!

 

What Does It Mean To Be Dehydrated?

Being dehydrated means your body does not have the proper amount of fluids it needs to function properly.

physical-signs-of-dehydration

Our bodies are made up of about 75% water. We lose water every day in the form of water vapor when we breathe, sweat and go to the bathroom. In order to keep hydrated, our body is constantly re-adjusting the balance between water loss and fluid intake. When we are not taking in enough fluids, our bodies lose too much fluid and become unbalanced. This is when dehydration occurs.

 

 

What Are The Physical Signs Of Dehydration?

There are 3 Stages of Dehydration. Mild, Moderate and Severe. Mild and Moderate dehydration can be reversed by oral intake of fluids such as water with electrolytes that are lost during activity.

Symptoms of Mild To Moderate Dehydration

Mild to moderate dehydration can also be classified as acute dehydration. This type of dehydration usually occurs under certain circumstances like extreme heat exposure or prolonged physical activity.

Physical signs of mild/moderate dehydration:

  • Increased thirst
  • Dry mouth
  • Tired or sleepy
  • Decreased urine output
  • Urine is low volume – more yellow than normal
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Dry skin
  • Few or no tears
physical-signs-of-dehydration
Headache from dehydration. Photo by Steve Knight from FreeImages

 

This type of dehydration can be reversed fairly easily with water, electrolytes and rest. Mild to moderate dehydration can turn severe quite fast if not treated swiftly.

Symptoms of Severe Dehydration

If a person is not re-hydrated with water and electrolytes, severe dehydration will occur with worsening symptoms.

Physical signs of severe dehydration are:

  • Drop in blood pressure: this happens when a person tries to stand after lying down
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness that does not allow the person to stand or walk normally
  • Severely decreased urine output or no urine output.
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Poor skin elasticity (skin slowly sinks back to normal)
  • Lethargy, confusion
  • Seizure
  • Shock

 

 

When Should I Seek Medical Care for Dehydration?

 

Again, mild to moderate dehydration can be reversed with rest and fluid intake in the form of water and electrolytes.

However, call your doctor if the person with mild/moderate dehydration experience any of the following:

Fever over 101 but less than 103

Diarrhea for more than 2 days

Weight loss

Physical Signs of Dehydration
Photo by RobinHiggins

Decreased urine production

Weakness

 

 

Take immediately to emergency if these symptoms occur:

Confusion

Lethargy

Chest or abdominal pain

Headache

Seizures

Difficulty breathing

Fainting

No urine in the last 24 hours

 

Physical Signs of Dehydration
Photo by RobinHiggins

 

 

Acute Dehydration VS Chronic Dehydration

Acute Dehydration

Acute dehydration occurs under certain circumstances like extreme heat exposure or prolonged physical activity. As we have already discussed, this typical type of dehydration can be cured with rest and a proper amount of fluid/electrolyte intake.

Chronic Dehydration

There is also chronic dehydration. This type of dehydration shows up differently. You may have the same symptoms as with acute (mild/moderate) dehydration or you may not even notice that you are low on fluids. This happens because your body is trying to “make do” with less water and starts to become less sensitive to water intake.

Some chronic dehydration signs are:

Physical Signs of Dehydration

  • dry/flaky skin
  • Constipation
  • Constant fatigue
  • Ongoing muscle weakness
  • Frequent headache

What Causes Chronic Dehydration?

Causes of chronic dehydration vary, however here are some risk factors for developing chronic dehydration:

 

  • Living in warmer climates
  • Working outdoors
  • Having only sporadic access to water

Frequent diarrhea can also lead to chronic dehydration. Chronic digestive tract conditions can cause you to be prone to diarrhea which in turn can put you at risk for chronic dehydration. Some of these conditions are:

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • IBS
  • Nonceliac gluten sensitivity

How Is Chronic Dehydration Fixed?

With chronic dehydration, a person will need more than just water to restore the body’s electrolytes balance.

If you are suffering from chronic dehydration, you will need the help of a doctor to confirm this and than have a treatment plan set up.

Chronic Dehydration Test

Your doctor may perform the following tests to confirm chronic dehydration:

  1. Skin Tugor Test: this test is simple. Your doctor will gently pinch your skin and than see how long it takes for your skin to regain it’s natural shape. This will give your doctor an indication of just how dehydrated you are.
  2. Urinalysis: This urine test is to allow your doctor to see if you are producing too much or not enough urine.
  3. Chemistry Panel Testing: this is a blood test. This test shows the amounts of electrolytes (sodium, potassium) in your body. This test can also let your doctor know if your kidneys are efficiently getting rid of waste product.blood-test-for-dehydration

How Do You Treat Chronic Dehydration?

Treating chronic dehydration isn’t as easy as drinking water. At this point, if you are chronically dehydrated, your body will need more than just plain water. A few things you may need to do:

Physical Signs of Dehydration

  1. Drink fluids with added electrolytes. These types of drinks may be necessary to help recover lost fluids.
  2. Drink small quantities of fluids often instead of a large amount of fluid all at one time.
  3. If you are severely chronically dehydrated, you may need to be hospitalized so that you can have fluids given to you via intravenous directly into the bloodstream, until dehydration improves.

Your doctor may set a long term plan in place that will be geared toward preventing any future dehydration. There may be further testing done to find out what is causing the chronic dehydration in the first place – such as addressing any digestive or organ conditions.

If it is determined that chronic dehydration is related to your lifestyle or occupation, then your doctor will work with you to make changes to decrease the chances of dehydration.

Some options may be:

  1. Track your daily water intake. Writing down how much water you consume daily. Using an app to do this will help to keep you accountable and on track.
  2. Decrease alcohol consumption
  3. Watch stress levels:
  4. Cut back on caffeine if it’s causing you to lose fluids
  5. Cutting back on diuretic meds if you are taking them

How Can Dehydration Affect Your Digestive Tract?

Being dehydrated, especially chronically dehydrated, can have a detrimental effect on your digestive tract.

Dehydration can occur from more than just water loss. Medications, caffeine and alcohol intake can also cause dehydration.

Here are some effects dehydration can have on your digestive tract:

 

Physical Signs of Dehydration

Acid Reflux:Lack of water, calcium and magnesium can cause acid reflux. The stomach does not have enough water to produce stomach acid which in turn causes acid reflux. Drinking water can help limit these symptoms by temporarily raising the stomach’s pH.

Constipation: water keeps food moving down through the intestines. When your body is dehydrated the large intestine will soak up whatever water it can from the food in your guts. This will make the food hard to pass causing pain and constipation.

Bloating and Nausea: overeating causes pain and bloating. Sometimes we think we are hungry, when in fact we are actually thirsty! Thirst happens when you are 1 – 2% dehydrated. The body doesn’t know the difference and the feeling of hunger may be a masquerade for actually being thirsty. To help prevent this, drink a glass of water before eating. This will help to make you feel fuller so you won’t end up overeating.

Bad Breath: When you are dehydrated, you produce less saliva. This leads to bad breath.

How Much Water Should I Be Drinking?

The amount of water you consume a day depends on many factors:

Diet

Lifestyle

Activity levelsPhysical Signs of Dehydration

As a rule of thumb, aim for half of your body weight. Those with diabetes and other chronic illnesses will need to consult their doctor to determine the appropriate amount of water.

How Can I Stay Hydrated?

Now that you know what dehydration is, the causes of dehydration and how much water to drink, let’s go over HOW to stay hydrated.

Drink water throughout the day. This will help prevent dehydration and over exhaustion. Use the color of your urine to guide you. The clearer your urine is, the better!

Eat foods with high water content. 80% of hydration comes from liquids, 20% comes from foods. Incorporate fruits and veggies that naturally hydrate. Some examples:

  • Watermelonhydrating-foods
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery
  • Grapes
  • Strawberries

If drinking water gets boring, get creative! Add fruit flavors by infusing fruit into the water. Lemon Ginger Water is a great change of pace from just plain water.

Avoid alcohol or caffeine when outdoors. Ice cold cocktails sound refreshing but they aren’t very hydrating to your gut. Alcohol and caffeine suck the moisture right out of you. Avoid this as much as possible, especially if you are outside in the hot sun all day. Or be sure to drink a glass of water for every drink you consume.

Avoid peak hours of extreme heat. Stay inside during peak hours of extreme heat when temperatures and UV rays are at the highest. Usually between 10am and 2 pm.

All of this talk of hydration has left me feeling 1 – 2% dehydrated!! Time to go and load up on some fluids!

Did you find this post helpful?

Share your thoughts and comments below! I would love to hear from you!

 

xo

The Gut Nerd

 

 

What Is Gut Dysbiosis? Can It Be Fixed?

what-is-gut-dysbiosisThese days there are a lot of people dealing with a huge range of health issues. Many of these issues have a direct link to the gut. Your intestines are home to millions of bacteria. These bacteria are both beneficial (good) and opportunistic (bad).

Both bacteria are meant to live in harmony with one another; the good bacteria keeping the back bacteria in “check”.

Problems within the intestines begin to occur when too many opportunistic bacteria colonies are in the gut and not enough beneficial bacteria colonies. This is when gut dysbiosis can occur. Keep reading to find out what gut dysbiosis is and what can cause gut dysbiosis.

What Is Gut Dysbiosis?

Gut Dysbiosis is when there is a microbial imbalance in the intestinal tract. This imbalance occurs when the bacterial colonies in your gut become out of balance. Gut Dysbiosis is most commonly reported as a condition in the gastrointestinal tract and mainly in the small intestines. This is known as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or small intestine fungal overgrowth (SIFO).

bacteria-gut-dysbiosis

Typical microbial bacteria colonies found in the body are beneficial, helpful and necessary. These beneficial colonies carry out functions that help in areas such as digestion.

When the balance of this good and bad bacteria is disturbed, the good bacteria have a hard time keeping the bad bacteria’s growth in check. This then leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

Causes of Gut Dysbiosis

When the balance of the flora (bacteria) in the bowels is disrupted; dysbiosis can occur. But what causes this disruption?

The current lifestyle of western living plays a big role in the negative impact on the microflora of the GI tract. This negative impact on the gut microflora are a result of:

  • High sugar intake
  • diet high in processed foods

    high-processed-foods-can-lead-to-gut-dysbiosis
    Processed Meats

  • drinking 2 or more alcoholic beverages a day
  • antibiotics
  • low fiber intake
  • pesticides (such as on unwashed fruit or veggies)
  • high levels of stress or anxiety which can weaken your immune system
  • poor sleep

Symptoms of Gut Dysbiosis

Symptoms of gut dysbiosis may vary depending on the types of bacteria that are out of balance. Common symptoms include:

  • nausea
  • constipationWoman-with-diarrhea
  • diarrhea
  • bloating
  • fatigue
  • anxiety
  • depression

Dysbiosis can also occur in other parts of the body, however for this blog post, I have chosen to focus solely on the gut.

Can Gut Dysbiosis Be Diagnosed?

If you want to find out whether you have gut dysbiosis, then you will need to see your doctor. Your doctor will go over your medical history, assess your symptoms and then may order one or several of the following diagnostic tests.

Organic Acid Test (OAT)

Your doctor will collect a urine sample and then send it to a laboratory. The lab technician will test the urine for certain acids that bacteria can produce. If acid levels are abnormal, this may mean that certain bacteria are out of balance.

My youngest daughter sees an integrative doctor. Every six months to one year, we take an organic acid test. I collect a urine sample from my daughter and send it to a lab to be tested. Based on the information from the organic acid test, the doctor knows which bacteria are out of balance and then we adjust my daughter’s diet and vitamin therapy accordingly.

Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis (CDSA)

You will be given special equipment to take home to obtain a stool sample. You will then send this sample to the lab to be tested. The lab tech will test the poop to see what bacteria, yeast or fungi are present. The results of this test will tell your doctor if there is an imbalance or overgrowth.

Hydrogen Breath Test

hydrogen-breath-test
Photo courtesy of andrea-digestive-clinic.com

Your doctor will have you drink a sugar solution and breath into a special balloon. The air in the balloon can be tested for gases produced by bacteria. Too much or too little of certain gases can indicate a bacterial imbalance. This test is often used to test for small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).

How To Bring Balance Back To Your Gut

If you have gut dysbiosis, there are many options you can choose to help bring your gut flora back into balance.

Medication

If you are seeing a doctor, he may suggest medications to help control the bacteria. Some medications he may suggest are:

  • Ciprofloxacin: an antibiotic that treats gut infection resulting from dysbiosis.
  • Rifaximin (Xifaxan): an antibiotic that treats symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common condition associated with dysbiosis.
  • Co-trimoxazole (Septrin): an antibiotic that treats gut and urinary tract infections that result from dysbiosis.

Keep in mind that these antibiotics given are for severe cases. The use of antibiotics can be helpful, but can also exacerbate the issue and continue the vicious cycle of gut dysbiosis.

Natural Ways To Help Balance The Gut Microbiome

There are many dietary changes that can be made to help restore balance in your bowels.

Foods to Remove From Your Diet

Remove processed inflammatory foods from your diet. Such as:

  • Pre-made packaged food
  • Foods high in sugar (corn syrup)Avoid Excessive Sugar
  • Processed meats: deli meat or canned meat
  • Dairy – this can be inflammatory for some
  • Breads, Oats: these foods can be inflammatory for some and cause a gut imbalance

Take one of these foods out at a time and begin to eliminate them from your diet until your gut dysbiosis is healed.

Having more colonies of beneficial bacteria will help to balance out the gut and keep the opportunistic bacteria in check.

Foods to Add To Your Diet

Here are some foods to start incorporating into your diet to help feed and strengthen this good gut flora.

  • Pre-biotic: add prebiotic (fermentable fibres) to your diet. The beneficial bacteria in your gut LOVE fermentable fiber! These bacteria feed off of this type of fiber which is exactly what we want when restoring balance to our gut microbiome. Here are some examples:
    • asparagus – great anti-inflammatory benefits

      asparagus-is-a-prebiotic-food
      Asparagus

    • dandelion greens – great fiber rich substitute for greens in your salad
    • leeks and onions – both contain high amounts of inulin fiber. This in turn promotes growth of healthy gut bacteria
    • apples – high in pectin which is a type of prebiotic fiber
    • flax seeds – promotes healthy gut bacteria and regular bowel movements
  • Fermented Foods: add fermented foods to your diet. Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. These probiotics help restore a healthy gut microbiota and intestinal barrier. Here are some examples:
    • unpasteurized sauerkraut
    • kombucha
    • kimchi
    • yogurt (homemade is best)
    • keifer

A Few More Things

Aside from diet, here are a few more things you can do to help bring balance back to your gut microbiome.

  1. Focus on good sleep habits: get 7 – 8 hours of sleep per night. This will help to support good gut health
  2. Exercise: developing a daily exercise program will help to keep your gut microbes healthy.

    exercise-to-restore-gut-microbiome
    Exercise

  3. Find ways to manage stress: yoga, meditation, deep breathing – these are 3 ways to help your body to manage stress.

Make some of these a daily part of your life to help support your gut microbiome.

Although gut dysbiosis can be an issue, there are ways to help realign your body so that your gut is functioning properly again.

Start implementing these tips slowly and you will be surprised at how much better you will feel over time. None of this information is a quick fix. Remember, healing a broken gut takes time. However, with small steps in the right direction, you will help your body and get your gut back on track.

Have you experienced gut dysbiosis? If so, what did you do to help heal your gut? Share in the comments!

Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it helps you!

xo

The 131 Method Online Program – Does It Work?

131-Method-Online-Program-Does-It-Work
131 Method Online Program

If you’ve read my blog post on the 131 Method Book, you already know that this book was a game changer for me.  This book helped me so much that I decided to purchase the Online 131 Method Program.

I decided to give the 131 Online Program a try because I wanted more in-depth information on the process and phases of the 131 Method.

The online program goes into much more detailed information about the reasons and the science behind each phase.  I wanted to learn more so doing the online program seemed like the next logical step.

Now that I have completed the online program I thought some of you may have some questions so this post is all about the 131 Method online program and the ever burning question….does it work?

What IS the 131 Method Online Program?

The 131 Method online program is a 90 day eating lifestyle designed to teach the basics about how certain food may be affecting you.  If you are struggling with constipation, bloating, water retention, skin rashes, diarrhea, the inability to lose weight etc….. please know that all of these issues may have a direct connection to the food you are putting into your body.

These foods may be causing gut inflammation and hormone imbalances.

The Breakdown

Once you sign up for the program, you will be sent an email.  In this email will be a link to the online program.  Once in the online program, you will need to set up a profile before you can access the lessons.

In this profile set up, you will put in your goals and what you hope to achieve when on the program.  The initial goal that I put in was to stop the insatiable cravings for ALL THINGS SWEET….especially chocolate chips after dinner…. every single night.

Every week you will be sent an email letting you know what week and phase you are doing.  You will be given access to your 131 program syllabus one phase at a time. This is done so as to not overwhelm you.  There is a lot of information in each phase.

Welcome

Once you have created your profile, I would highly suggest you listen to the welcome lessons first.  These quick 10 – 15 minute tutorials give an overview of the program, how and why it’s recommended to take before and after photos, plus how to navigate through the online program.

Once you’ve listened to these lessons, then you can begin listening to the required lessons under the “IGNITE” tab.

IGNITE

131-Method-Online-Program-Does-it-work
Welcome and Ignite Phase

Ignite is where you begin. There are required lessons and optional lessons.  The required lessons explain all about the ignite phase, what you are doing in the ignite phase and most importantly – WHY.

You are given meal plans if you aren’t sure where to start or what to make.  You are given a VERY indepth shopping list.  I suggest you take this list and only buy things from it that you are going to need based on the recipes you plan on using.  The shopping list can seem very daunting so please know that you don’t need to buy everything on this list.  Buy what you need based on the recipes you are going to make.

There are a bunch of downloads pertaining to the Ignite phase that you can print off.  Here are a few:

  • Shopping List
  • Shopping Tips
  • Meal Plan Ideas
  • Nutrition Solutions for Common Side Effects
  • Inflammatory Foods Guide
  • How To Track Your Macros
  • Carb Count in Every day Foods

What Is the Ignite Phase?

As I’ve explained in my previous blog post, the Ignite Phase of the 131 Method focuses on turning you from being a sugar burner into a fat burner.  And to do this you lower your carb intake and increase your fat intake (good fats, of course).

“This phase is meant to kickstart your metabolism, balance your hormones, reduce inflammation and begin to build a healthy gut” (quote from the 131 online program).

How do you do this? You’ll learn how to do this in the Ignite Phase through timing your meals and changing your macros.

The lessons in the Ignite Phase cover:

  • What you’re doing in Ignite
  • Inflammation
  • Ketosis and Ketogenic Eating
  • What are Macros and How To Track
  • Intermittent Fasting for Fat Burning
  • Fasting for Health

These lessons are audio and are 15 – 20 minutes in length.  You can listen to these lessons pretty much anywhere.  Plus if you prefer to read the lesson, they have transcripts of each lesson that you can print off or read online.

Once you have listened to all of the required lessons, you can then listen to the optional lessons.  There is one optional lesson for Ignite and it’s titled “Leaky Gut”.

After you have listened to all the lessons, you can then begin prepping for your 4 weeks on Ignite.

There is a section of the program titled “Recipes”. There are over 600 recipes!  If you have listened to the “WELCOME” section of the program, then you will know how to work your way around the recipes.  If not, refer back to the “WELCOME” section.

Tomato-Basil-Mini-Tarts-131-Method-Online-Program-Does-It-Work
Tomato Basil Mini Tarts – Ignite Phase of the 131 Method

Once you have it figured out, you can pick and choose recipes based on the phase you are in.  Once you have your recipes you can then shop for the items you will need to make the recipes you have chosen.

From there, you being your IGNITE PHASE and SLAY IT!

Pros and Cons of the Ignite Phase

This is an honest review and I am now going to share with you my pros and cons of the Ignite Phase.  Keep in mind that this was solely my experience.  I am sharing this with you to help inform you, so you can decide for yourself whether this program is for you.

Pros:

  • The lessons were easy to understand and quick to go through
  • The meal plans were great to use when I had no idea where to start
  • The print offs were a great tool to have on hand
  • Intermittent Fasting is an option – not something you HAVE to do.

Cons

  • The recipe section can be a bit daunting to figure out if you haven’t gone through the “getting started” tutorial.
  • Intermittent Fasting can be daunting
  • Getting the hang of an app for tracking macros can be confusing – especially if you have never used an app like this.
  • If you struggle or have had issues with constipation, you really need to be aware of this and listen to your body.

Nourish

 

131-Method-Online-Program-Does-it-work
Nourish Phase

After 4 weeks on the Ignite Phase, you are now ready to move on to the Nourish Phase.

Once again the “required lessons” tab will fill you in on what the Nourish Phase is, what you will be doing in the Nourish Phase and most importantly – WHY.

Here are the lessons for Nourish. Again, you can print off the transcripts or listen to each lesson via audio.

  • What you’re doing in Nourish
  • Micronutrient Management
  • What you need to know about meat and too much protein
  • Hunger, Appetite and Emotional Eating
  • Fasting for Health

Optional lessons are available to listen to on this phase as well.

Another tab you can access as well is called “Club Content”.  This section will have extra information that you can access with regards to your current phase.  Most of these links are quick articles or videos on the 131 Method website.

What is the Nourish Phase?

This phase is building on what you have learned in the Ignite Phase.  The main objective of this phase is “to accelerate gut healing and optimize all functions of the body by increasing the intake of micronutrient dense superfoods”.

You’ll also continue to learn how you’ll monitor your macros, intuitively intermittent fast and how to “decrease animal protein, while increasing plants”.

You should be able to listen to all the audio lessons in about an hour and a half.  The last days of the Ignite Phase is a great time to start preparing for the Nourish Phase.

Again, there are TONS of recipes to choose from in the Nourish Phase.  One of my favorite recipes is the Carrot Walnut Burger!

Carrot-Walnut-Burger-131-Method-Online-Program-Does-It-Work
Carrot Walnut Burger

The key to rocking another phase is to be prepared!  Having your meals planned goes a long way in being successful in this lifestyle.

Now you have the broad basics of the Nourish Phase, let me go over some pros and cons of this phase.

Pros and Cons of the Nourish Phase

Pros

  • If you struggle with constipation, this phase will fix that!  All of the plants you eat will keep you regular!
  • Trying new foods is always fun! Figuring out which vegan recipe you like is a good, mind opening experience.
  • You’ll notice how your skin glows by the end of the 4 weeks…for realz!  My skin was amazing in this phase.

Cons

  • If you have kids who are used to having meat every day with every meal, this phase will not be their favorite.   Because of this, you may find it hard to choose dinner recipes that you all enjoy.  You may have to improvise or make two meals.  I found recipes that I could add meat to as a side dish.  I also tried to feed my kids some of the straight vegan meals, but none of them went over very well.
  • The prep time is a lot more on this phase.  Especially if you know your kids won’t like the recipe, you’ll need to take a little more time to find recipes that can work with meat being added to it.
  • Grass fed/grass finished beef is expensive. Yes, the purpose of this phase it to focus more on plant based eating (which means only eating meat 3 times a week).  However, as important as it is to eat healthy good quality meat, the cost can be an issue for a lot of people.

Renew

This phase is the final phase in the 131 Method online program.  As with all the lessons on this program, the Renew Phase will be explained to you and you’ll be given the Why’s as well.

131-Method-Online-Program-Does-it-work
Renew Phase

If you need some meal ideas, then the meal plans under the downloads are a fabulous place to start!  Some other downloads under the Renew Phase are:

  • What You Are Doing In Renew
  • Meal Plans
  • Exercise While Phasing

What is the Renew Phase?

This phase is better known as your “real life” phase.  You will take a break from intermittent fasting and let your hunger be your guide.  Then you will learn what your are eating and HOW you are eating every couple of days.  This is called Macrophasing.  The required lessons are as follows:

  • What You’re Doing in Renew
  • Macrophasing Explained
  • Your Meal Plan in Detail
  • Fasting for Health
  • 131 Lifestyle, What To Do Next

Like with the other two phases, these lessons are 15 – 20  minutes each.  They are in audio form or you can read the transcripts.  This phase will require a bit more planning as your macros will be changing often throughout the week.

 

One-Pot-Chicken-and-Rice-131-Method-Online-Program-Does-It-Work
One Pot Chicken and Rice – Online 131 Method Program

The meal plans are great guidelines to help give you ideas and make everything less confusing.

This last phase was the BEST and the WORST for me.  Here are my pros and cons for this phase.

Pros and Cons of the Renew Phase

Pros 

  • You eat healthy, high quality carbs!  I did enjoy the other two phases, but enjoying a wider variety of carbs, that are not just veggies, is a nice change
  • You can make the days work for you! Plan on going out for lunch? Awesome! Switch up your days to make that lunch date work for you.
  • NO intermittent fasting! Listen to your body and eat when you are hungry!

Cons

  • Some people get really, really hungry – all the time – in this phase.  It was hard for me to determine if it was true hunger or emotional hunger.
  • Listening to your body and eating when hungry takes practise and the first time around you may struggle with this.
  • Due to the higher carb intake, you may experience some weight gain.

After 4 weeks on the Renew Phase, you can choose to start back on the Ignite Phase or keep doing a Renew-type lifestyle.  If you want to keep doing the 131 online program, you will need to pay monthly to still have access to all the recipes and information

Overall Pros and Cons Of The 131 Online Program

I am now finished the online program and wanted to share the overall pros and cons.

When it comes to a diet and lifestyle change, the 131 online program is a total 180 to what most people are accustomed to.  You MUST be in the right mindset for this lifestyle to work.  With that being said, let’s go over my pros and cons of this program.

Pros

  1. The 131 online program is filled with lots of support and information.  Have a question regarding the program? No problem! There’s a tab where you can ask a dietician. Simply type in your question and they will get back to you with an answer.
  2. Each phase is explained in great length.  As long as you listen to the required lessons, the phases will be straight forward and make sense.
  3. Need some moral support? The online 131 program has a tab you can go to and connect with others who are doing the 131 program as well.  You can share your victories, your struggles, your questions, etc…..
  4. Recipes galore!  There are so many recipes to choose from and more are added all the time.
  5. This program is always changing.  More phases will be added in 2020 which is exciting.
  6. The program works!  There are no hard and fast rules. You make this program/lifestyle work for YOU!

Cons

  1. Once you sign up for the program, you are inundated with emails.  Some are helpful such as knowing what phase and week of the phase you are in.  Some are annoying and can be overwhelming.
  2. There is a lot of information to take in!  This can be daunting and if you are not in the right mindset, then this will turn some people off and they wont complete the program.
  3. Phase One (Ignite) can be a major problem for some people.  This phase could exacerbate acid reflux and constipation issues.  If you have any problems with one these issues, I would suggest adjusting your macros accordingly.  DO NOT start with your fat macro being at 70%, start lower….. a lot lower.  Really listen to your body.
  4. Phase Three (Renew) can cause weight gain for some people.  Most of this weight gain is minimal and more then likely just extra water due to the complex carbs. However, this could be a deterent for some people.  Especially those who are struggling with a dieter’s mind.

To Sum Up My 131 Online Program Experience

The 131 online program has helped me to really understand how the body works and how it can respond and react to certain foods.

I am so VERY in-tune with my body now and know when something I’ve eaten is causing me problems and possible inflammation.

When I make unhealthy food choices, like eating copious amounts of chocolate and baked goods, I sleep horribly and then wake up feeling bloated and puffy and sometimes even slightly nauseous.

A great side effect for me on this program has been weight loss! Losing weight was not something I was trying to do, but it has been great to have my clothes fit just a little bit better and to see more muscle definition in my body.

Before and After
before and after photo on the 131 Method program

The pros of this program for me, far outweigh the cons.

I highly recommend giving this online program a try.  If you are tired of the dieting/weight loss/weight gain yoyo; if you want to stop your sugar craving;  if you are looking to balance your hormones….this program is WORTH the time and effort!

You have nothing to lose (except perhaps a bit of weight) and EVERYTHING to gain (like in-depth knowledge of how your body works best).

Have you done the 131 online program? If you have, leave a comment below and let me know YOUR experience!

xo

The Gut Nerd

Restoring Gut Flora After Diarrhea

 

Diarrhea

Everyone at some point in their lives will experience the joys of diarrhea. Yes, this entire post will be discussing diarrhea. Specifically what it is, how and why you get it, plus how to restore your gut flora after the onslaught of constant bathroom breaks is done.

Having diarrhea chronically is just as bad as being chronically constipated. Before we get into chronic and acute diarrhea, let’s discuss exactly what diarrhea is, shall we?

WHAT IS DIARRHEA?

Diarrhea is characterized as loose, watery stools or the frequent need to have a bowel movement. Diarrhea can be acute or chronic.

WHAT CAUSES DIARRHEA?

Woman-with-diarrhea

There are many causes that result in diarrhea.

  • VIRAL INFECTION: Rotovirus is a common cause of childhood diarrhea. This is a viral infection that causes diarrhea and vomiting. Initial symptoms of rotovirus are fever and vomiting followed by three to eight days of watery stools.
  • BACTERIAL INFECTION: several types of bacteria can enter your body through contaminated food or water and cause diarrhea. Common bacteria that cause diarrhea are E. Coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. These are all foodborne illnesses that you can get from contaminated food.
  • TRAVELLERS DIARRHEA: this is another foodborne illness caused by eating food or drinking water contaminated with bacteria, viruses or parasites. Travelers diarrhea is usually acute and clears up fairly quickly.
  • ADVERSE REACTION TO MEDICATION: many medicines may cause diarrhea. Medicines that may cause diarrhea are antibiotics, antacids and some cancer treatments.

ACUTE DIARRHEA

Acute diarrhea usually only lasts a few days. This type of diarrhea could be from a viral infection or from something that you have eaten or a reaction to medication you are taking. This type of diarrhea is fairly common and clears up fairly quickly. Some examples of acute diarrhea: viral infection, bacterial infection, travelers diarrhea, adverse reaction to medications.

CHRONIC DIARRHEA

Chronic diarrhea lasts longer, at least 4 weeks. Chronic diarrhea is usually the result of an intestinal disease or disorder. Some examples of intestinal disease that may cause chronic diarrhea are:

  • SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth)
  • CELIAC DISEASE
  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • ULCERATIVE COLITIS
  • FOOD ALLERGIES: could cause chronic diarrhea. Some examples of food allergies that may cause diarrhea are:
    • lactose intolerance
    • fructose intolerance
    • sugar alcohols: sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol may cause diarrhea in some people.
  • ABDOMINAL SURGERY: you may develop chronic diarrhea after abdominal surgery. This type of surgery includes:
    • gallbladder
    • large intestine
    • small intestine
    • spleen or stomach
  • LONG TERM USE OF MEDICINES: medicines taken for a long time may cause chronic diarrhea. Medicines such as antibiotics, can change the gut flora and cause bacteria overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria which can cause chronic diarrhea.

TREATMENT FOR DIARRHEA

 

Drinking Water

What do you do when you have diarrhea? How do you treat it? While you are dealing with diarrhea, the best thing to do is to replace lost fluids. Drink water and an electrolyte supplement to help replenish lost electrolytes as well as lost fluids.

If the situation becomes serious and you become severely dehydrated, then you will need to be hospitalized and put on an IV to get fluids into your body.

If a bacterial infection is causing the diarrhea then your doctor may need to prescribe you antibiotics.

My oldest daughter contracted salmonella when she was six years old.

She was a thumb sucker.

One day she went on a field trip with her class to see baby chicks at a farm. They all washed their hands after touching the baby chicks however my daughter had also been sucking her thumb before washing for hands.

I did inform her before the field trip to NOT put her thumb in her mouth until AFTER her hands were washed but she was a six-year old at the time and it was such a habit to put her thumb in her mouth that she did it without even thinking.

Salmonella works fast let me tell you! She felt sick by the time she got home that afternoon and by that evening she had a fever and was throwing up!

Then came the diarrhea!!

It went from bad to worse to so disgusting that it didn’t even look like diarrhea anymore.

The poor little girl!

She had so much pain and cramping. I can’t remember if she had to go on antibiotics, but I know it was at least seven to eight days of nasty loose, bloody-swamp-water-looking stools, before the diarrhea started to clear up.

If I knew then, what I know now, about the importance of balanced gut flora, I would have started implementing some flora replenishing steps as soon as she was feeling even just a little better.

Once she was no longer infected with salmonella, she was still very weak and pale. It took her months to look and feel better. Now I know this was because her intestinal tract was depleted of all good bacteria and very unbalanced. At the time, I went back to feeding her, her regular diet, which wasn’t an unhealthy diet by any means. However, she could have used some extra help in the rebuilding of good gut flora.

Here is what I would do now to help restore gut bacteria after diarrhea. I would feed her foods that helped to replenish her gut bacteria.

FOOD TO HELP REPLENISH GUT BACTERIA

Once your body has healed and the diarrhea has stopped, you can now begin to replenish your gut with good, helpful, beneficial bacteria.

All the good and bad bacteria have been pretty much wiped out with that bout of diarrhea.

It takes about one month for your gut microbiome to recover after having diarrhea. You will want to take care of your intestines during this time and help to re-establish a healthy balance of your gut mircobiome.

The foods you eat following a bad case of diarrhea will have a big impact on how quickly your guts recover. Let’s look at some foods to eat that will help to replenish beneficial bacteria in your gut.

3 FOODS TO HELP REPLENISH GUT BACTERIA

 

How To Heal Gut Flora After Antibiotics

  1. FERMENTED AND CULTURED FOOD: some examples of fermented and cultured foods are; sauerkraut, kimchi, keifer and naturally pickled vegetable. Try to eat a variety of fermented foods as this will provide your gut with bacteria diversity which will help to restore your gut faster.
  2. PREBIOTIC FOODS: you will want to feed your new beneficial bacteria. These bacteria LOVE fiber rich foods. Foods high in soluble fiber are considered prebiotic and will work best at feeding your good gut bacteria. Here are some examples of prebiotic foods: broccoli, chia seeds, beans and legumesraw-vegetables
  3. RAW VEGETABLES: organic vegetables are best as they won’t have pesticides on them. These pesticides will kill off the good bacteria basically working against what you are trying to do! Raw veggies are a great source of fiber. If your body is having a hard time with raw veggies, then steam them. Steaming cooks the veggies slightly making it easier for your body to digest.

Of course, once you are feeling better, you usually go back to your regular way of eating, However, keep in mind that if you want to restore your gut microbiome to a healthy balance, you will need to avoid these three foods.

3 FOODS TO AVOID WHILE REPLENISHING YOUR GUT BACTERIA

  1. SUGAR: it’s always good to limit your refined sugars to no more then 25grams a day. However, when you are rebuilding your gut flora, you will want to avoid sugar altogether. Opportunistic bacteria thrive on sugar and we want to limit the production of these bad bacteria as much as possible.red-meat
  2. RED MEAT: limit your red meat (pork, beef) to once or twice a week while your gut heals. Too much red meat can lead to an unfavorable shift in your gut bacteria.
  3. UNDERCOOKED EGGS OR SEAFOOD: avoid raw eggs and seafood (sushi) while your gut flora is rebuilding a strong population of friendly bacteria.raw-seafood

 

HOW TO PREVENT DIARRHEA

You now know what causes diarrhea, and how to heal your gut flora after a bout of diarrhea.

So how do you go about making sure you don’t get diarrhea again? Here are a few tips to help prevent diarrhea.

hands-washing-female

  1. WASH YOUR HANDS: to help prevent spreading a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, wash your hand frequently with soap and water.
  2. THAWING FROZEN FOOD: always thaw your frozen food in the refrigerator
  3. LEFTOVERS: refrigerate leftovers right away. Do not leave out.
  4. FOOD PREPARATION: wash cooking areas and food preparation areas frequently

BE MINDFUL

If you have read any of my previous posts, then you will start to notice a trend. Our guts NEED bacteria to keep us healthy. But in order to have the good, high quality bacteria, we have to nourish our body with foods that feed the BENEFICIAL bacteria and starve the OPPORTUNISTIC bacteria.

This is why it is so important to be mindful of the food that you put in your body.

I would love to know your thoughts. Have you experienced gut issues after a bad bout of diarrhea and if so, what did you do to help heal your gut?

xo

The Gut Nerd

 

5 Steps To Heal A Leaky Gut Naturally

healthy-gut-leaky-gut

It seems that the term “leaky gut” is becoming more and more popular. This term is heard, written and spoken in every method of communication: TV, newspaper, magazines, online and social media.

Do most people even know what “leaky gut” means?

What images pop into your head when you hear the word “leaky gut”? For me, I picture some sort of green goo oozing slowly from a bunch of small openings.

green-gooThis image is actually not too far off!

The good news about leaky gut is that there are steps you can take to heal a leaky gut naturally! But first let’s discuss what it means to have a leaky gut.

What Is A Leaky Gut?

What exactly does it mean to have a leaky gut?

To keep it simple, having a leaky gut means the lining of your intestinal wall has minuscule holes in it. Through these teeny tiny holes, bacteria, food particles, and antigens have all started to slowly escape the confines of the intestinal tract.

This, my friends, is the simplest definition of leaky gut.

Still confused?

Think of your gut lining (intestinal epithelial lining) as a VERY thin, yet tightly woven stocking. The stocking weaving is super tight, and only minuscule nutrients and minerals are allowed to pass through this weave. These minerals and vitamins are allowed to pass through because of the “tight junction protein” gatekeepers. These gatekeepers (TJP) only let the nutrients your body needs, through their gates. They do not allow antigens, food particles or bacteria to get through their gates.

Now imagine that these gatekeepers (TJP) have become weak, and there are no new, strong gate keepers to take over. These weak gatekeepers do not have the strength to keep the gates closed and now all the riffraff (bacteria, food particles, antigens) are escaping the intestines and getting into the bloodstream.

THIS IS LEAKY GUT.

 

What Causes Leaky Gut?

So how does leaky gut, or intestinal hyperpermeability happen? Here are some factors that are believed to play a role in leaky gut.Avoid Excessive Sugar

Excessive Sugar Intake: a diet high in sugar, especially fructose, harms the barrier function of the intestinal wall.

NSAID AvoidNon-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID): examples of NSAID’s are: ibuprofen and aspirin. Overuse or long term use of these drugs can increase intestinal hyperpermeability and contribute to leaky gut.

Excessive alcohol intake: too much alcohol consumption may lead to a leaky gut.Margarita

Inflammation: Chronic, ongoing inflammation can contribute to gut hyperpermeability.

Nutrient deficiencies: deficiencies in Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Zinc may increase the chances of a leaky gut.

Stress: Chronic stress is a contributing factor to many GI disorders including leaky gut.

Leaky Gut PicturePoor gut health: there are millions of bacteria in the gut: some good and some bad. This gut microbiome must be in perfect balance. When this balance is disrupted, the gut lining is affected which in turn can lead to leaky gut.

Yeast overgrowth: there is yeast naturally in the gut. However, problems can occur if there is an over growth of this yeast.

 

Signs And Symptoms Of Leaky Gut

Leaky gut, also known as intestinal hyperpermeability, shares a lot of its symptoms with other health conditions, which makes it very difficult for doctors to identify.

Because of this, “leaky gut” is not recognized in the mainstream medical community. Leaky gut is more theoretical than scientifically proven at this point. However, there is growing evidence to show that gut microbiota (good gut bacteria) plays an important role in supporting the gut lining and increasing the amount of tight junction proteins!

Here are possible symptoms of a leaky gut:

  • Chronic diarrhea, constipation or bloating
  • Difficulty ConcentratingNutritional deficiencies
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Skin problems such as rashes, eczema
  • Joint pain
  • Widespread Inflammation

 

 

Diseases Associated With Leaky Gut

 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): symptoms are abdominal pain, excess gas, diarrhea and constipation. IBS is a digestive disorder. Studies have shown that those with IBS have increased intestinal hyperpermeability.

Celiac Disease: this is an autoimmune disease that is characterized by a severe allergy to gluten. Several studies have found that intestinal hyperpermeability is higher in those with celiac disease.

Crohn’s Disease: is a chronic digestive disorder characterized by persistent inflammation of the intestines. There are a few studies to show an increase in intestinal hyperpermeability in those patients with Crohn’s.

Food Allergies: a few studies have shown that those with food allergies often have impaired or weakened gut lining. A leaky gut may allow food proteins to cross the intestinal barrier causing the immune system to respond. An immune response to a food protein (an antigen) is the definition of a food allergy.

5 Steps To Heal a Gut Naturally

Now that we have discussed the reasons for a leaky gut, the symptoms of a leaky gut and the diseases associated with a leaky gut, we should discuss ways for YOU to help improve and heal a leaky gut.

White Pasta

Here are 5 ways to improve your gut, strengthen the gut lining and ultimately heal your leaky gut.

  1. Limit Refined Carbs: opportunistic bacteria (bad bacteria), absolutely LOVE sugar! They thrive on sugar! Cut out highly processed foods like white pasta, white bread, white rice, chips, candy. All of these foods help to increase the bad bacteria, and in turn continue to weaken the gut lining and continue the cycle of a leaky gut.
  2. Eat Fermented Foods: fermented foods are great for helping to boost good bacteria in the gut thus strengthening your gut lining and improving your gut health. Some examples of fermented foods: Keifer, sauerkraut, and kimchi just to name a few.Fermented Food
  3. Take A High Quality Probiotic: probiotics are beneficial bacteria in a pill. Once these bacteria make it to your digestive tract, they can start strengthening your gut lining.
  4. Eat Plenty Of High Fiber Foods: soluble fiber found in fruits and veggies feeds the beneficial bacteria in your gut. So make sure to get at least 30grams of fiber a day! The more fiber your beneficial bacteria get, the more they will grow and help to keep the opportunistic bacteria to a minimum, in turn strengthening that gut lining!
  5. Limit The Use of NSAIDS: keep usage of aspirin and ibuprofen to a minimum to prevent damage of your gut microbiome.

Eating whole foods, with little to no processing is the key to healing and maintaining a healthy gut lining and gut microbiome.

If you want to learn more about your gut, consider reading these books:

Gut: The Inside Story of Our Bodies Most Underrated OrganGut: The Inside Story Of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Giula Enders

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be The Root Cause Of Your Health Problems And 5 Surprising Steps To Cure It by Dr. Josh Axeeat-dirt

The Microbiome Solution by Dr. Robynne Chutkan

 

The Microbiome Solution
The Microbiome Solution

 

Also, see below for research articles relating to this post.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17593135

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4266989/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19679262/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20038852/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16099460

 

Comment below and let me know your thoughts on leaky gut or share your experiences with healing your leaky gut.

xo

Anna aka The Gut Nerd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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