Gut Health & l-Glutamine

*Recipe for these cacao mint bites below!

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Pure Encapsulations

If you’ve been with me for a while, you already know my gut health history; leaky gut, SIBO, gastroparesis, IBS, food allergies, food intolerances, elimination diets and the list continues…I wrote a two-part blog post in February in great detail about what I’ve been through, how far I’ve come, food trends I’ve experimented with, foods that I focus on, exercises that work for my body, and just about everything in between. You can read about that in part I and part II.

Over the last 8 or so years, I have seen countless doctors, been to many nutritionists, and tried every medication in the book. While some medications brought me temporary relief, I really noticed a change in my overall well-being was when I changed the way I was eating, changed my mindset around food, managed my stress levels, and started to incorporate more supplements (think probiotics / digestive enzymes) into my diet, and ESPECIALLY ones like l-Glutamine powder from Pure Encapsulations. I still see a gastroenterologist and a neurologist regularly because every once in a while I experience flares. I also do think that it is important to have this type of relationship with your doctor, one you can trust where he or she can recommend different supplements or ways to help improve your health instead of going it alone! I will say that I went from having my doctors on call & taking countless medications to now seeing my doctors solely on a yearly checkup and using natural supplements and foods to help improve my overall health and well-being! 

While I was at my worst with leaky gut, 3 of my personal doctors (primary care doctor, my current gastroenterologist, as well as the nutritionist I was seeing at the time) all recommended that I incorporate l-Glutamine into my daily diet. I tried out the powder (tasteless FYI!) for just about a month. At this time, I was younger and already taking many different medications. I didn’t want to add one more thing to the list, but I was looking for more of a quick fix (overnight really). I became lazy about adding it into my routine (which I don’t know how it is even possible, when all you have to do is add one scoop into your daily smoothies, yogurt, energy bites, water or really just about anything that isn’t warm!!), so after not doing it for one day, it would turn into a week, then a month and then I just completely stopped! Looking back, I wish that I never did because of all the positive benefits l-Glutamine can have on the body, especially if you are someone that has digestive issues or even someone that is very athletic and does high intensity training. 

Fast forward to now; I am adding it back into my daily routine about 2-3x a day, which is equivalent to about 6-9 grams daily. I am using a powder from Pure Encapsulations and taking about 1 scoop in the morning, afternoon, and in the evenings by mixing it into my smoothies, yogurt bowls, water, and adding it into my homemade energy bites. It is that simple! What I love about Pure Encapsulations’ l-Glutamine powder is that their products are made with hypoallergenic ingredients and the powder is completely tasteless making it super easy to add into just about everything. There are no unnecessary fillers or sweeteners, it is gluten free, and formulated by nutritionists / medical experts! You can read a little more about it here: https://www.pureencapsulations.com/media/l_Glutamine.pdf

As a re-cap: leaky gut, what I’ve experienced over and over again, in a nutshell is when your intestinal lining separates (the tight junctions of your gut) and “holes” are created, which allows toxins, undigested food, bacteria, any kind of substances, to escape into your bloodstream! You don’t want them there because it can cause havoc on your body = hormonal imbalance, weight gain, sugar cravings, bloating, food intolerances, constipation, etc.!  Think of it this way, your gut lining is normally supposed to act as a shield, to stop unwanted substances that are harmful, from escaping and entering your bloodstream. BUT, when the shield is broken, all hell breaks loose in the body. A battle you will not win, unless you fuel your body properly and heal your gut. So, what happens? Your body goes into panic mode. Your immune system reacts, attacks, brings out an immune response on these unwanted substances that have been leaked into your bloodstream. So? Then, each response = inflammation. The more unwanted particles that are released into the bloodstream, the more attacks, and the more inflammation your body will suffer from.

Chronic inflammation equals constant feeling of BLAH and health complications. 

Leaky gut is a problem in which your gut walls are allowing anything and everything into your body!  For me, when my leaky gut was at its peak, I had many of the symptoms below:

1.             Fatigue

2.             Food intolerance

3.             Migraines

4.             Abdominal bloating (hard bloat)

5.             Cramps 

6.             Brain fog

7.             Skin problems

8.             IBS C/D

Although diet can help by eating the right foods or steering clear of ones that can trigger symptoms, it isn’t always enough. You need to support the lining of gut and that is where supplements like l-Glutamine can come into play! l-Glutamine helps maintain the gut lining so this doesn’t happen; i.e. when things leak into your bloodstream that shouldn’t!

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How?

l-Glutamine is an amino acid produced in our bodies and then distributed to organs that need it, including the digestive system and the immune system.

For starters; l-Glutamine is 1 of 20 amino acids but it is the primary fuel used by cells in your gut lining. It is an essential amino acid that can have powerful effects on the process of healing the gut, maintaining a good level of intestinal health, and help in other areas of personal health as well, such as muscle recovery, energy, and digestion. The protective lining of the small intestines “eats it up” allowing the proper nutrients to pass through the lining and limiting the amount of toxins that pass through into your body over time. It is important for your body to maintain this protective mucosal layer and tighten up the openings in your gut lining to stop any undigested particles such as food to leak out!

Although the body is capable of producing this naturally, at times, our bodies need this, but we are unable to adequately provide enough of it! It can be found naturally in our bloodstream, produced in our muscles, and then distributed to the organs that need it! However, during times of stress, trauma, serious digestive issues,  exposure to chemicals over time, or even high endurance exercise training, our bodies are in need of more of l-Glutamine! During these situations, our bodies tend to be weaker and need to get this amino acid from supplements or other sources such as food. This is why it is beneficial to add in extra through a powder form in case you are not receiving enough from the foods that you are eating.

Side note: Some foods that you can eat to receive more benefits of l-Glutamine are:

1.             seafood

2.             bone broth

3.             grass-fed beef

4.             eggs

5.             spirulina

6.             broccoli, kale, spinach

7.             nuts

8.             fermented foods

All in all, it helps to protect the lining of the intestines and the stomach called the mucosa and low levels of glutamine may affect your digestion and lead to gastrointestinal problems. Here are some benefits:

1.             Promotes muscle health and function

2.             Supports post exercise recovery

3.             Helps to enhance the protective barrier of the digestive tract

4.             Supports GI Health

5.             Supports immune system function

Which is pretty powerful, considering all you need to do is add a few scoops of the powder form into your daily routine each day and enjoy the benefits listed above. My doctors explained that you will start to see noticeable benefits within a month. L-Glutamine is definitely something that you need to stick with and not become discouraged after a few days. It isn’t a quick fix, but something that will be extremely beneficial to your overall well-being in the long run. Nothing is a quick fix, but a health journey!

If you are looking to try the powder, I suggest start off with small amounts and see how your body handles it! I first had conversations with my own doctors as well as a nutritional pharmacologist from Pure Encapsulations. During the last month, I have started off with 1 heaping scoop about 2-3x a day and then will work my way up to more and adjust accordingly to see how my body handles it and reacts. I do notice that I can digest food easier, and that I am less bloated after high intensity types of workouts and that my body can recover faster from them. And, lastly, I am more confident to expand my food choices because I feel that my gut lining is building its strength back which will allow me to feel better overall.

If you’re interested in trying l-Glutamine powder from Pure Encapsulations, you can purchase it here: https://www.pureformulas.com/lglutamine-powder-227-grams-by-pure-encapsulations.html

I will continue to keep you all posted and provide updates as to how I feel by reporting back here and through IG!

 

CACAO MINT BITES!!

CACAO MINT BITES
1 cup oats
1 cup mixed nuts (I did almonds/walnuts) 
1/4 cup cacao powder
1/4 cup ground flax
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 cup cashew butter
3 heaping scoops of l-Glutamine powder
1 tbsp. peppermint extract
dash of maca powder
few dashes of cinnamon
3 tbsp. cacao nibs

Directions
1. First blend together the oats and the nuts together in your food processor until almost flour like consistency
2. Add the remaining ingredients and blend together until dough forms
*If not completely coming together add more cashew butter, 1 tbsp at a time of nut-milk or water. 
3. Roll into balls! 
Keep in fridge for up to 2 weeks or freezer for longer! 

Burn Outs: How to stay healthy when you’re feeling unmotivated // stressed

When life is stress free, simple, and everything is going to plan you seem to have everything under control; you’re making healthy decisions (that work for your body), you are eating well, sleeping enough, and making it to your workout classes. BUT, then there are always these these curveballs; holidays, exams, getting sick, added stress, break ups, a few days of getting “off track” or whatever personal things you might be going through where it becomes harder to manage and balance your normal routine- the one that makes you feel your best; both mentally and physically. It seems that the healthy habits that we’ve had instilled just go out the door, we almost become a little more anxious, a little more depressed, fatigued, and we don’t feel as if we are achieving our personal best. We just aren’t showing up for ourselves. 

Our own personal will power isn’t working, we might eat poorly, we are super unmotivated to exercise, and just all around not motivated to be healthy. I also want to reiterate, “healthy” in terms of YOU, what works for your body. Some of our bodies function perfectly fine on 5 hours of sleep, working out 4 days a week, and eating a plant based diet others need 8 hours of sleep, love working out between 5-6 days a week switching it up between cardio and weight training, and might eat a diet that is primarily planted based but loves fish and organic meats. It looks different on everyone, but we all feel the same life stressors to some degree and can all relate when it comes to finding motivation to just wake up and put one foot in front of the other when we just feel unmotivated and stressed AF. 

So what do you do (or what do I do) when I feel this way?! It can be really easy to throw in the towel one day and then let it spill over to the next days and the next, becoming this vicious cycle of self-sabotaging and then you can’t shake the rut/mood you are in. For me there are some important questions that I like to ask myself during these times and things that I like to do to either drag me out of these moments or prevent them before I dive head first.

1. First, simply just ask yourself how you feel?

Our minds are constantly stimulated with everything these days, we are always pulled in all different directions, hold ourselves to a certain standard, and yet it can be difficult to just figure out what is actually going on with US; ourselves. Always being on the go, we need to sometimes, stop, breathe, and check in. Often times when I feel BURNT OUT this is how I am feeling:

  1. Anxiety / Depressed
  2. I don’t feel as if I am achieving to the best of my abilities; my creativity levels are low
  3. Lack of focus // I loose site of my personal goals 
  4. I compare myself to others
  5. I am extremely tired; especially emotionally. 
  6. I get sick!! 
  7. I don’t want to work out; either no motivation, no energy, or simply put: do not care!
  8. My appetite is off: I either do not want to eat, I want to eat everything (crave sugar) 
  9. I feel off with friends and family; out of place 

2. What motivates you to make healthy decisions?

Instead of focusing on OUTWARD appearances, just ask yourself how you want to feel! Stop focusing so much on a number or how you think you need to look. For me, I like to focus on the feelings that I get after a work out; the endorphins or how my mind and body feels after eating foods that nourish me, give me fuel and energy for the day. Obviously, yes everyone indulges, but we aren’t necessarily talking about that here, so of course I do, but I am talking about when I am just stuck in a place that I need an extra push to stay motivated, stay balanced in order to feel less tired, sleep better, have more energy, be more productive with work, and be more focused. When I work out and eat the foods that provide me this type of nourishment then everything falls into place; I am more committed to working out, meeting friends, being social, increasing my productivity levels, sleeping more, not becoming sick as easily because I am taking care of myself both mentally and physically. 

Maybe here, you need to change up your routines:

  1. Switch up your workout routines: trade yoga for a HIIT workout or vice versa. Walk, swim, spin, or REST.
  2. Switch the time that you work out to see if that makes a difference with your sleep cycle, stress levels, your motivation, eating habits etc.  
  3. Find different studios to work out in, a different environment can make a difference (even if it is just for one week!) 

3. How is your diet? 

    1. Are you restricting or giving your body what it needs?

Often times, when I personally over think every little detail about what I am eating, I tend to stress out my body even more. When I just focus on eating foods that I love and that I naturally gravitate towards, I respond much better, physically and mentally. This also frees up mental stress and doesn’t lead me to binge, over eat, regret, or feel guilty about foods that I love eating! This is why I also think changing up your food choices // diet // is crucial! I know that when I am bored with eating the same thing every single day, there will be one or two days where I will just eat everything in sight because NOTHING is satisfying me and I truly think it is not because I am actually hungry, it is because I was either; depriving my body of foods that I wanted, bored, stressed/burnt out from following a strict mundane routine, and my body is lacking nutrients that it is missing. I hate to think of certain food as something that is off limits or you can’t enjoy/have, but rather as something as fuel, something that you need, something that your brain needs to get you through your days, your toughest days. When I am bored with the food that I am eating I look up new recipes from other bloggers, check out different cookbooks, use different spices, order healthy take out (to change it up), or I might even switch it up and have a breakfast for dinner type of thing - anything to trick my body to think it is having something different and new. I think it is important to eat label free and not worry or spend too much time focusing on following a certain diet trend. Figure out what works for you with your meals and snacks and stick to it and understand that some days you will be more hungry than other days and that is totally normal!

How are you feeling mentally? 

    1. Talk it out // Write it out

Check in with your intellect. Find someone you can confide in and trust with your feelings. If you have no one to turn to in these moments or turn to immediately; write it out! It will help get everything off your mind and on to paper. Sometimes just talking it out or writing it out can make all the difference, make things feel more manageable. Plus, a friend or family member can help you put things into perspective. They can offer advice, suggestions, tips, and just be there to listen to you even if they can’t relate to exactly how you are feeling.  

    2. Gratitude Journal: Every night or each morning write down three things you are grateful for, three things that you love about yourself, three people you are happy that are you in your life, and three things that you want to accomplish that day. This will help you stay positive, motivated, and appreciate everything you have in life when things are tough! 

4. What is your inner dialogue?

Sometimes I can get so far deep inside my head that I can’t even believe I am saying what I am saying. Whenever I am being extremely negative, I try and stop and think imagine if I was saying this to my best friend or someone that I cared deeply about- to their face; out loud. You’ll probably stop right there with those thoughts. 

Another thing; write down all the excuses as to WHY you CAN’T do something that day or week; here are some of mine that always pop up in my head:

  1. I am so stressed out that I am going to drink this wine because I’ve had the worst day 
  2. I have no time to meal prep this weekend so I’ve already blown it before the week even started 
  3. Everyone else is drinking more, so I will have another one
  4. (OR maybe you live with roommates or a boyfriend)….They eat unhealthy, so that means I have to eat that way too. 

Just begin to change your mindset, shift your focus, and start to think more positively. Easier said than done, but a little change in attitude can go a long way. Examples:

  1. If you live with roommates or a significant other and they do not like to eat the way you do; try cooking for them! Teach them how to; show them the foods you love; make it a habit, but make it fun!! 
  2. Before you go out to eat with your friends take a look at the menu and see what you might want to order so you don’t order something that might upset your stomach or make you feel terrible. That way you can enjoy yourself, be stress free, and have a really good time with your friends NOT worrying about what you are eating while you are there or what everyone else is eating
  3. Take a few breathes before you are about to eat: there is always that transition period when you come home from work and about to eat dinner or decide if you want to go work out; but you are so hungry! Decide how you are feeling, what will make you feel your best. If you always choose to stay home, eat and not work out, maybe have a snack waiting for you when you get home with your work out clothes ready so you can be out the door within a matter of minutes! 

5. Are you over doing it? 

Sometimes I have a hard time saying no, resting, relaxing, and taking breaks from eating too healthy, and working out too much. You need to let your body rest and recover between workouts. When you do this you will see your best results! So, instead of hitting the cardio machines every single day, switch up your workouts with yoga, swimming, yoga, lifting weights and then give your body a break in between. On those off days if you just can’t stand to sit still take a light walk or stretch it out! If you don't rest you will hurt yourself and you will burn out! Also, with the holidays or social commitments it can be hard to say no to every single thing going on and not feel guilty and in the end you are the one that suffers. If you have a few things going on that week, I like to figure out which one is going to be the most important and beneficial for my well-being and go! Maybe I go to every single event I have in one week or maybe I make it to 2 out of the 4 things I had scheduled, no guilt. Do what is best for you and do not feel selfish about it. You can’t run on an empty tank. 

6. Are you prioritizing your sleep?

For me, I notice that when my sleep schedule is off, everything is off: stress levels, anxiety, digestion, mood, you name it. I tend to not get stressed out, my energy levels are always pretty high but when I am working a lot I do suffer from burn outs a few times and it’s mainly because my sleep has been lacking. Things that throw off my sleep schedule;

  1. Working out too much // causing me to be over tired
  2. Not eating well (too much sugar, not eating enough, or eating too much closer to bed )
  3. Working late at night // computer screen // phone screen near bed
  4. Caffeine too close too bed

Other tips/suggestions

  1. Find your circle; your friend group that supports you
  2. Get rid of things in your life that do not hold a purpose there (unfollow people, clutter in your apartment etc)
  3. Stop comparing yourself to other people; we only see a little bit of everyone’s life; not the whole picture
  4. Find a friend to work out with & sign up for the classes; commit ahead of time
  5. Set goals, daily goals, weekly goals & write them down on paper in clear view. Every night before I go to bed I make a tentative to do list of what I want to accomplish the next day; for a few reasons - it doesn't cause me to over think while laying in bed, I don't waste time in the morning thinking about what I need to do for the day, and I get up and start on my day right away and have a clear focused plan. 
  6. Tell yourself you are going to do something & say it out loud! You are more likely to stick to it! It can be something as simple as: I am going to finish this paper, I am going to that workout class tonight, I am going to meal prep on Sunday, etc.
  7. Two apps that might be helpful:
    1. Headspace: It is a meditation app that teaches you how to meditate! Just a few minutes each morning or any time of the day can really change your whole day/shift your focus. Make you more aware and mindful of your thoughts! 
    2. Self-Control: It is an app that manually lets you block your own access to distracting websites, your mail servers, or anything else on the Internet. Just set a period of time to block for, add sites to your blacklist, and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites—even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

Burn outs can be outright annoying and happen to everyone! I feel that the majority of the time I am not stressed out, have pretty much all things under control, but I do hit roadblocks, my body does become tired, weak, and over worked. We think that because aren't being productive that something is wrong but it is also so important to give your body adequate time to rest and recover so you can always (for the most part) be your best self. You can run on an empty tank! Remember the why, why you show up each day, why you want to accomplish certain goals, why you want to work out, why (or what) makes you feel good about eating a certain way, and how all of this makes you feel your best mentally. I think that when you realize that, focus on that aspect you will be able to push yourself to a certain degree but recognize when you need to back off and be able to check in with yourself each day before you completely burn yourself out! 

REMEMBER ITS OK TO NOT BE OK. TO FEEL TIRED OR JUST NOT 100%. ALL THE TIME. 

Stress

I feel that we all handle stress differently and it means different things to different people. The way we react to stress, the way our bodies handle it, how it affects our mental state, and so forth. For me, I used to be the type that was so far one way on the stress spectrum where you said the wrong thing and I might burst into flames, tears, and I would be in a constant state of STRESS (all capital letters with 100 explanation points at the end) when I had one too many commitments, events, work related projects, school work, and really just about anything that was happening in life. Yet now, I actually feel that I have more things going on, I am traveling more, more pressure with work since I work for myself, yet I feel that I am somewhere towards the other end of the stress scale. Yes, I stress, but I welcome stress because I think that some stress is positive in life because it motivates you in a way yet I feel way less explosive, reactive towards stressful situations, and my body handles it in a much more positive way. 

My intention with this blog post is to share how I better manage my stress, maintaining a healthy and happy gut, tips and suggestions for you through things like foods, probiotics, or just simple ways that I keep a positive outlook during these periods…

In a nutshell I found that:
Sleeping the right amount
Exercising just enough, so not too much but not completely putting off moving all together Eating to fuel my body, balancing out my food, eating variety
Not overeating
Staying hydrated all day long
Maintaining a social life

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…was key in staying as positive as I could during stressful times. It might sound easy and it is, but it can be hard when we are faced with multiple demands from friends, family, school, work, and whatever else you have going on! I used to over do it on exercising, eat too much or not the right foods for MY body, sleep was not a priority, my social life took a back seat, and I wasn’t thinking about how I was treating my body and how it made me feel nor affected my stress levels and my reaction towards it. 

For me, it always starts with a healthy gut to help manage and combat stress. If my gut is working properly it always seems that the rest of my body is functioning at its best; that always means that I am getting enough sleep, I am eating well, and moving my body enough throughout the week. It also means turning towards foods that are going to fuel my body, give me energy, not weigh me down, or supplements that contain probiotics. For the last month I have been taking Silver Fern Ultimate Probiotic supplements and I have been waiting to share with you all to see how my body handled them! I mentioned them a bit when I had my event two weeks ago in NY but I wanted to share them here in this dedicated post in the different ways to combat stress, because I truly do believe that it starts with maintaining a healthy gut and one way you can do that is introducing probiotics into your daily regime. 

I’ve been on the hunt for a good probiotic and I had seen Silver Fern around for quite some time and I couldn’t wait to start incorporating it into my morning routine and see the positive affects it would have on my body, especially my gut health. From someone that is prone to leaky gut, SIBO, (have had both in the past, which you can read about here & here.) and has IBS, gastroparesis, it is extremely important for me to make sure I take care of my body through certain foods and supplements in order feel my best more often than not AND NOT stress out my body which can be a major issue for me resulting in the return of my leaky gut, SIBO, migraines and terrible gut health. It is important to find a high quality probiotic that can help replenish, help promote, and rejuvenate your gut; the microbiome! 

For me, having a strong healthy gut means that I stress less, I think more positively, I am more focused, I sleep more soundly, and handle stress differently; better. Why? I am not constantly bloated, inflamed, or feel that every time I eat that I am intolerant to foods that I am eating. My digestive system seems to be working properly, it is on track, and when my gut feels strong and healthy my mood is elevated because I am less prone to leaky gut, SIBO, cravings, IBS- C or D. When my gut health is off, then I am even more stressed out on top of everything that I have going on because it is all that I can think about because of the physical pain that it seems to be causing; the more bloating, the more issues you have with your digestive system, the harder it is to eat, fall asleep, exercise, and really just go about your day and focus! 

Why I love Silver Fern Ultimate Probiotic: 

Contains a prebiotic to help activate the probiotic bacteria in the intestines
Improves digestion, bloating, and keeping you on track! 
Helps support the growth of the GOOD bacteria
Reduces inflammation and supports nutrient absorption
 

ALSO contains strains of probiotics that aids in digestion, help with IBS, crown’s, and help reform an ailing gut. 

Many of these mentioned above is everything that I can suffer from when I am completely stressed out…so, adding a probiotic into my routine has been sufficiently beneficial to my overall health and well-being. They also have drink mixes (6 different flavors) too that make it so easy to add into your waters and carry for on the go! I’ve been mixing the packets into my water with a little lemon when I feel extra stressed, after a hot yoga class, or after a night out! I don’t feel any adverse side affects and they contain no added sugar! 

For the probiotics so far I am taking 1 each morning with my usual lemon, apple cider vinegar water daily. Within a week I noticed that bloating was better and I wasn’t suffering from ups and downs with digestive issues. I really think it has improved my gut health just within a month of taking them and I am happy to have included this into my daily routine! 

Now on to other things!

Mental Health / Positive Thinking: 

Sometimes the more I stayed in, isolated myself, the more I retreated, the more negatively it impacted my health - my mood, anxiety, stress levels, gut health, and overall happiness. However, I think that having a positive outlook on situations, life in general does boost your overall self esteem and happiness and therefore in turn can make you less stressed. Hear me out: The more you see your friends, family, or spend time with positive people that build you up, the happier you are. This doesn’t mean to forgo your school, work, or other deadlines, but all I try and commit to is seeing friends 2 times a week during the week and once on the weekends.

I schedule plans for dinners, workout classes, walks, hikes, cook with friends, meet for coffees or smoothies. I felt that the more I was socializing with my friends and spending time with people that mattered in my life, my cortisol levels lowered, my body was less inflamed and I was able to talk through any stressors that I might be experiencing instead of holding it in and causing my body to become tense! Not having a social life before or neglecting that part of my health would actually make me feel more negative about myself, my work, I was sleeping less, had more anxiety, and reached for foods that might not make me feel the best. I think if you isolate yourself so much and become envious of others; you start to focus less on the good, your own work, and your own well being, but when you are having fun, whether it is working out with a friend, eating a healthy dinner, walking, or doing whatever you like to do you are more focused on the present moments. When I was canceling on my friends or neglecting time with them, I would work out or work longer hours, but I wasn’t working efficiently. I was also over doing it with workouts. For me, when I work out TOO much, my cortisol levels rise and my body becomes inflamed and I can actually feel the physical pain from it! This would not allow me to sleep well, I would over eat, become irritable and would be completely drained and burnt out yet I couldn’t cut the pattern. When I finally started to cut back on workouts and started to focus more on my yoga classes and walks, my body was more at peace, my anxiety was completely gone, I was less bloated and I felt extremely better and happier. I think it was because I learned that I would rather spend time with my friends than workout every second of the day and feel miserable. Now I focus on moving every single day in however I see fit whether that is walking, swimming or going to yoga a few times a week. 

A side note, taking Sliver Fern Ultimate Probiotic has greatly helped with this as well. After strenuous workouts it is so important to take the time to properly recover from them, especially your gut! Often times high intensity training can lead to leaky gut as well as the physical and mental stress!  By keeping your gut healthy with Silver Ferns, lets say, and stress levels low by finding the right workout that works for your body, you can help your stress levels and actually have more product workouts, recover faster, crash less often, and suffer from less gastrointestinal problems! 

                           Here are things that increase my stress and my body’s ability to handle it: 

Consumption of excess sugar
High levels of caffeine consumption
Working out too much (intense workouts, HIIT etc) 
Lack of sleep
Excess alcohol
Lack of fresh air, being outside (vitamin d!!!) 
Isolating myself from others
Lack of proper diet that I thrive off of

Foods that combat stress! 

Taking a digestive enzymes before you eat can help better digest your food and jumpstart the process if you are problems with that! I know that if I am overwhelmed, my digestion is the first to feel it and I can have a hard time either having an appetite, wanting to eat, or properly digesting my food! Which is why once again probiotics are key and an enzyme might be beneficial too! 

Foods such as Omega 3 fatty acids that rebuild healthy cells and fight again inflammation. I also focus on high fiber foods such as vegetables, nuts, seeds, and do not shy away from healthy fats. During times of stress, for me personally I find it extra important to eliminate or stay away from sugar as that always feeds that bad bacteria in my gut, causes me to crave sugar more, causes more stress not only to me, but in my body as well. Instead if I am craving sweets this is what I gravitate towards: 

roasted sweet potato with dairy free yogurts, chia seeds or ground flaxseeds, with nut butter or coconut butter

dark chocolate with zero sugar

almond milk heated with 1-2 tbsp raw cacao plus a pinch of each: cinnamon, ginger, turmeric

a simple smoothie filled with spinach, raw cacao, ground flaxseed, almond butter, maca powder, and blueberries for a low sugar berry option or 1 date or half a banana to keep it lower in sugar. 

chia puddings made with raw cacao + low sugar granola; I tend to stick to paleo granolas as they are made with nuts, coconut oil and usually only sweetened with honey or maple syrup and they are higher in protein. 

energy bites on my blog

For foods during stressful times; instead of reaching for foods that might make you feel good in the moment I tend to reach for foods that are going to ease my stress, help calm down any anxiety, and sooth my stomach: 

Wild salmon, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts, hemp seeds, organic eggs

Dark chocolate, spinach, blueberries, sweet potatoes, citrus fruits, root vegetables, herbal teas (ginger, lemon, cinnamon, turmeric), raw cacao, apple cider vinegar, beets, lentils, bananas, almond butter, fennel, acorn squash, butternut squash, avocados, etc! 

During these times, I try my best to up my protein and fiber to keep myself satisfied and my brain functioning properly. This also helps me combat any sugar cravings, which I rarely have, but during stressful times, it is what most people probably reach for. It will only affect your stress levels later, causing you to crash which is why it is important to eat more variety, well balanced, and foods that will make you actually feel less stressed, or bring less stress to the body! 

Other things that I focus on now or when I find my calendar to be overwhelming that helps keep my mind at ease and my body less stressed is: 

  1. Keep a gratitude journal; focus on the positive & good that you have in your life. Each morning or night write down 3 things that you are grateful for or 3 GOOD/POSITIVE things that happened that day. It will start to make you appreciate what you have going on in your life and allow to stop focusing on comparing yourself to others 
  2. Read! This allows me to mentally escape what I have going on work wise and anything else going on. Instead of scrolling the internet, IG, or watching TV I try and find a really good book I can get lost in
  3. Schedule in time for friends each week. They say that your personality is the make up of the closet 5 people in your inner circle, so make sure you are spending your time wisely with the people that benefit you.
  4. Find a workout routine that works for you and not what everyone else is doing. I focus on yoga and walking. I used to go very early in the mornings but it would constantly make me late for work and then I would go extremely late in the evenings but it would hinder my sleep cycle. Find what works for you.
  5. Create a month by month calendar of everything you have going on so you can see the bigger picture. It may seem overwhelming at first, but then you can tackle each day, day by day and remember what you have going on. 
  6. Create a to do list every night before you go to bed, so you wake up each morning knowing what you have going on for the day
  7. Organize your entire morning the night before: regarding the clothes you are wearing to work, the breakfast you are eating, workouts you are doing or not going to be doing (rest day?!), plans you have after work, etc. Then all you have to do is wake up and go!
  8. Take breaks during the day! When you are feeling extremely overwhelmed, stressed, tired; take a break and allow yourself to do that! I normally would push thru them and it would only make things worse. Now, I take rest days, I take walks outside even if its just 15 minutes, I take workout breaks if I can, or completely stop what I am doing and come back to it when I have a clear frame of mind. 
  9. Practice self care! I love epsom salt baths, face masks, and really anything that you can do at home that is affordable to you! This will be super relaxing to your mind, gut, and make you feel at total ease and help reduce any inflammation and tension you are holding on to in your body! 
  10. Focus on complaining less! It can be really hard and a rut that you are stuck in, but when I found myself complaining less about the work that I had to do, I became way more positive about situations that I was in and more grateful. Remember it is a GOOD thing to be busy. You are lucky!!! 

Stress is obviously unavoidable and happens to all of us! I think that by creating a routine for yourself, focusing on nourishing nutrient dense foods, adding in probiotics that support your gut health, and committing to maintaining a social life can really help shift your mental attitude as to how you react to stressful situations. The more you isolate yourself and seclude yourself, the more tense and inflamed your body will become, causing your cortisol levels to rise (at least this is what happens to me!), but the more you focus on staying active both mentally and physically and treating your body and self with care the easier it will be for you to handle moments of what feels like complete chaos! 

My Nighttime Routine

For the longest time it would take me forever to fall asleep. I would toss and turn for hours, stare at the clock, scroll mindlessly though my phone, think about everything that I needed to do the following day, eat for no reason, and even get out of bed and sometimes work! I also would wake up 4-5 times a week around 3 AM so hungry and suffer from terrible anxiety attacks. They were so mentally exhilarating that it would cause me to stay up for the rest of the night.  I knew I needed to establish a night time routine and make it a habit so I could sleep better in order to have a more productive day, because on the nights that I could not sleep the entire next day I was irritable, experienced migraines, would crash around 2 PM, my digestive system was terrible, terrible being an understatement, and I had NO energy or motivation to do anything! My brain was mush. 

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My Morning Routine

I am a firm believer that how you start each morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. I am not the type of person to hit the snooze button 5 times, in fact, I don’t really need an alarm clock to wake up! I actually prefer to wake up naturally because truthfully the sound of an alarm clock annoys me and I would rather that NOT be the first thing I hear when I wake up each morning. Granted if I have to wake up at 4 AM for some reason, then yes an alarm clock is needed, but most mornings my body naturally wakes up around 5:30-7 AM. I can not sleep in for the life of me…

Each morning may be different depending on how my day is looking. Since I do not have to head into an office or necessarily be somewhere most days by 9 AM, I still like to get up each day around the same time and have a routine because even though I am working from home, I am still working! I think that it is even more important that I establish a schedule now that I work from home because it allows me to wake up, focus, get dressed, be more productive since I am my own boss, and begin my day without wasting time. 

Since my days are pretty out of the ordinary and different week by week and honestly some days I don’t even know what I have going on that day, I like to start (and end too!) my days the same; relaxed, calm, slow. 

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maintaining life while traveling

when you are traveling the LAST thing you want to be thinking about is stomach pains, when and where you are going to be working out to ease your anxiety, whether you can eat anything on the menus of the places you are going to be visiting, how bloated you’re going to be and will any notice, if you’re going to have symptoms of IBS-D or C, how you’re going to maintain your normal routine at home, and really any other fear or stress that could cause your body to tense up, preventing you from FULLY enjoying yourself on your trip, and completely change your personality to the point that you would rather stay home.

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Anxiety: Yoga poses, Foods to help, Sleep!

ANXIETY! SLEEP! Falling asleep can be one of the most difficult things to do. Sometimes I think so hard about falling asleep that I think I psych myself out, become even more anxious about it and end up not sleeping at all! I also wake up most nights, anywhere from 2-4 AM hungry and experience major anxiety attacks. Anxiety is a difficult thing for most people to understand unless they have truly experienced it first hand. You may not always be able to see it physically on a person and it can be easy for someone to tell you to calm down, but in reality you just can't. Whenever I've told someone about them they respond "oh" or if I ever have one in public during the day, which is not often, they are always in the middle of the night, usually the people I am with back away and are completely helpless as to what to do and think I am crazy. 

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Why I Decided to Eat Meat Again

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while and when I asked many of you the other week what you wanted me to talk about, this topic, had the most hits. I was surprised and had so many thoughts flood through my mind. 

Mainly wondering a few things. If people were/are feeling sick, experiencing low energy levels, and an overall sense of ‘blah’ maintaining a vegan lifestyle like myself when I was a vegan, curious to start incorporating meats again, or if their body is actually craving meat and wondering how to approach this.

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Balancing Act

Question: Do you feel that you’re doing everything “right” but still feel run down, bloated, experience flares, and that you are still getting sick?

This one I get A LOT. My answer: All the time. In a perfect world, I would love to be able to completely manage my stress, rid myself of my anxiety attacks, sleep the same number of hours each night, and know what foods worked exactly for my body ALL the time, but I am human and I don’t. I don’t have it balanced ALL of the time, and you should understand and realize, not everyone else does either. HOWEVER, I do have it together more times than I don't, considering how far I have come- where I am today and where I was before- there is a major difference. I juggle my to do lists as well as my commitments every single day to the best of my ability and at the end of the day be as satisfied with it as I can as well as stay positive about what I have accomplished; relinquishing what I can not control. That is key. 

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Tuesday Threads 2: Social Situations & Digestive health

This week I wanted to address how to deal with digestive health issues in social situations, traveling, or even around the holidays. How do you defend yourself and your lifestyle choices. How to overcome those feelings of being insecure. Simply, how to just be YOU. 

First and foremost. WHO CARES. Why do you need to defend yourself to anyone. If living your life, the way that you want to, makes you happy, makes you feel your best, does it matter? It shouldn’t, but of course it does. We all have feelings of insecurity, we all want to be liked, accepted, and thought of by other people as how we see ourselves. Even I feel that way, we are all human. Every day I have moments of self doubt, feel insecure about my body, my self worth, and question my own life and the path that I am on. It can be even harder when you are struggling with something that someone else, your friends, significant other, parents, strangers, whomever simply do not understand. Such as, digestive health issues, anxiety, eating disorders, you name it. It took me a while to be comfortable sharing the types of digestive health issues that I had and being so opened about it to my friends, family, and you- my instagram/blog world. You go through stages, you’re embarrassed, scared, nervous to talk about it, fear others will judge you, you hate that you have them and everyone else seems to be so “perfect,” and it begins to control and define your life. The worst, when you are starting a new relationship. Oh My God. You hold a grudge against your friends, family, and anyone in your circle and maybe even ostracize yourself from social settings because you are tired of explaining yourself, fear of eating certain things and feeling terrible after, scared to turn down drinks and being made fun of etc. Seriously, so exhausting and actually quite depressing!! 

What to do: What do you do when you’re out with your friends and you may have gone over board either with the alcohol or have eaten foods you are intolerant to or that simply do not agree with your stomach/should be completely avoiding if you have IBS, leaky gut, SIBO or any other digestive health complication. What do you do when you are feeling so terrible; reads: severe bloating, cramps, severe abdominal pain, headaches/migraines, anxiety attacks, brain fog, IBS-D/C and you desperately want to cancel but either have canceled one too many times, simply can't miss it, or fear the repercussions from your social circle. It is sometimes so hard to plan ahead when you simply do not know how you are going to feel that day. 

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Tuesday Threads 1 : Digestion

After writing part I and part II of the digestion posts, I had an overwhelming outreach of questions, thank you's, and comments. I was blown away as to how many of us suffer from digestive health issues as well as how many of us feel isolated, lost, and completely helpless as to finding solutions and simply how to feel your best. Hearing from you all made me happy, because I love being able to talk about this aspect of my life since it is a huge part and it also made me feel a sense of community. I wanted to keep that going and answer as many of the questions as I could. While reading through, many had similar underlining tones and I realized that if one person is asking this question, I am sure someone else is thinking it as well. (or at least I think!) So, it brings me here to Tuesday Threads. I wanted to start a bi-weekly section on my blog and eventually weekly to answer your questions about digestion, anxiety, and really anything else there is! Every other week I will lump the questions together, anywhere from 5-8 at a time, that are similar and talk about them. I don't want to limit the questions to be about digestion, but since that has been much of the focus thus far, it is a starting point, but there is so much more to life and my life that I want to share. I also, don't want it to be primarily question based, some weeks I may dedicated posts to one topic and so forth, but for now, I wanted to start this new section on my blog this way. so here it goes:

how long did it take to heal your stomach? How long did you have to avoid certain foods? (such as coffee, fruits, nightshades, grains, etc).

I like to think that I am constantly healing my stomach and the process is never ending. This isn’t supposed to sound daunting or for you to throw in the towel, but there may be days, weeks, or months that I feel amazing but that doesn’t mean I am going to go crazy and eat all the foods I couldn’t before. However, if I am feeling good and I know that I will be attending an event or meeting a friend, I might order something that has the potential to bother my stomach. This “potential” thing, is something that I enjoy; whether it be dessert, something with a little caffeine, or whatever else.  I do this for many reasons- life is all about balance and being positive towards the foods that you are eating.  I eat very well on a day to day basis, I work out regularly and because of this there is wiggle room for my body. I know my limit on alcohol, coffee, sweets, etc and will stop at that. Too much will cause days or weeks of re-healing my stomach, my mental state, migraines; my body- something I am not interested in, when I know that the cause was self inflicted.  This isn’t a negative mindset for me, or a “I will be better on Monday” thinking process, this is “I am enjoying the company of someone else,” mindfully indulging and being at peace with my decision. 

If you are looking for a timeline, know that everyone will be different. I started experiencing all of these problems in college (almost 10 years ago, yikes!) and there were times where I had to avoid all grains, gluten, dairy (still do), nuts, coffee, anything too acidic, raw veggies, honestly it seemed like I had to avoid everything. When I took rounds of antibiotics I felt as if I could eat everything, I probably took a round of antibiotics every 6 months and each time they worked less and less. For one summer, honestly all I could eat was chicken and grapefruit, they were the only two things that didn’t bother my stomach. It was bad and that was probably my lowest point. After about 3 or so years of that routine, I quit cold turkey on the medication, changed doctors, and experimented with different foods myself. It wasn’t until then I saw a change. In the last three years, I have only had to go take antibiotics once because my SIBO and leaky gut came back pretty bad. I had terrible bloating, migraines, I was having pretty bad reactions to foods that were normally “safe” for me, and overall felt a sense of tiredness, depression, and was completely rundown. My sugar cravings were at an all time high and I was not satisfied after any meal, I was either constantly hungry or couldn't eat at all without feeling sick. Considering all things, that is actually amazing since I went from taking medication every 6 months for 3 years to only 1x in three years. So, there is no timeline, it is essentially up to you. How serious you want to be in the healing stages. If you focus on eating the foods that will make you feel your best and truly heal your stomach you will be on your way to feeling better more days than not. You will have set backs, I still do! I may be great for a month or 3 months, then I will have terrible flares for a week or 2 in any given month. It is usually brought on by stress, hormonal, food related, lack of sleep or some other issue. I would say, notice how you feel after certain foods, if you feel any adverse affects (bloating, headaches, skin rashes, IBS-C/D, brain fog, mood swings etc) then stop eating it. Give your body a few weeks off, test it again and see if there are the same affects. I still do this on a constant basis and for now I’ve found a happy medium on when I can enjoy foods that normally bother my stomach or that I’ve had to completely stay away from the in the past. You will know immediately upon eating certain foods whether it agrees with you or not.

Things to take away: if it bothers you, stay away and test it again in a few weeks. Change up your “diet” everyday, do not over eat the same foods every day, experiment with spices for flavor, find moderation and balance in all foods - what works for YOU, not the person next to you or your friends. Let others inspire you, but not dictate how you should eat. It is beneficial for our bodies to constantly change up the foods that we are eating. I know that every few months my body changes and I go through periods of not being able to eat foods that I could in the past because I may have over done it; which is why I think variety is so key. I will also say, that my body thrives on finding a routine and balance; mentally, physically, and how I eat. More to come on that.

How did you find out?

Tests! After first, doctors explained to me that this was something that I would have to deal with for the rest of my life and there was nothing that could really be done.  This was not the answer I wanted to hear. I decided to see a gastroenterologist, a specialist, in hopes to figure out ways to help alleviate the pain that I was going through and was given the routine tests. The first was the upper GI exam, where I had to drink liquid barium, which coats the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine and shows up on the x-ray. Second, was called Radioisotope gastric-emptying scan, also called the egg & toast test. I had to eat eggs that contained a small amount of radioisotope and then lie under a scanning machine.  If the scan shows that more than 10% of the food was still in your stomach 4 hours after eating, then you are diagnosed with gastroparesis. For me, I think the eggs just made it past my throat after 7 hours. It was taking SO long they finally sent me home. Third, I had a colonoscopy to check for cancer. Lastly, I went through many CAT SCANS and blood tests to check for further issues or illnesses.  It was a long & scary process and I sympathize with anyone that has gone through it or is currently going through it now. After all of the tests were completed and the results were given, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, IBS-C, and distension of the abdomen.  Pretty much you feel as if you have a watermelon in your stomach at all times, constantly full, severe pain and really just feeling like crap. I also showed symptoms of leaky gut and small bacterial over growth causing me to develop a high sensitivity to fructans. Which, is why I stay away from sugar (even limit honey, dates, maple syrup; tolerate small amounts) and many fruits. I also have to avoid dairy, because of an allergy, which should be avoided regardless if you have stomach issues such as mine. So, all those fruit free smoothies and low sugar snacks I make are not just a fad or me following a trend, its been a way of life for me for MANY many years. If you think something is off, follow your intuition and see your doctor! Don’t try and self diagnose or follow what others are doing. Hopefully I am here to inspire you through my journey, but you know your body best!

How did this happen?

Short answer, I have no idea. Long answer, I have a few, one which I will eventually tackle on my blog to come. Other reasons, potentially: years of taking antibiotics, poor diet when I was younger and throughout college, and simply not properly taking care of my body. Thinking exercise was enough and looking healthy on the outside was enough to get by- and that is the key word, I was simply getting by. Turning to medication, antibiotics and over-the-counter medications was a no brainer and I never thought twice about what I was putting into my body. If I had a cold or if I was suffering from something more serious, medication was the solution, always. I never thought how it would affect my body and mental state in the long run, it was more of how quickly can I heal with the strongest medication there was/is available. Now, my attitude towards medication is completely different. If I have to ever take antibiotics, I will do my research. I will admit that I have to take medication every single evening for my migraines and if I don’t I will end up in the hospital. Unfortunately, I am the type that is prone to them, and have more than 15 migraines (not headaches, migraines- there is a big difference) a month and without the medication I simply can not live my life day to day. I will also make sure that I am nourishing my body while I am taking medication or antibiotics for any reason. Now, knowing that there is potential that healthy bacteria in my gut, is killed while taking antibiotics, I do everything in my power to feed my body. I’m more of aware of the foods to turn to, the superfoods, probiotics, and the types of foods that I need in order to restore my gut health. You can read more of some of the healing foods I turn to here, on my two part digestion post.  

When I was younger and in college, I never thought twice about the foods I was eating; take out, coffee, alcohol, dairy, I was a self proclaimed pepsi addict, or I just didn't eat. I honestly didn't realize how much food affected everything; from your skin, your mental state, your gut health, sleep, or your hormones. Now, for the most part, I try and think of how certain foods will make me feel and eat foods for clear skin, to balance my hormones, help with my gut health, improve my migraines and so forth. It can be challenging and time consuming, but it is better than feeling worn out, sick, bloated, or irritated ALL the time. Meal prepping is key and is beneficial to always have food on hand during the week. It gives you a peace of mind knowing there is food already prepared that can be literally thrown together within a matter of minutes. This way, you always have the option to eat healthy and for the most part feel your best, energized, and ready for the day. 

What are my triggers?

I have different triggers for each thing that my body goes through; migraines, IBS, leaky gut, gastroparesis, SIBO, anxiety attacks, but in a way they are all related and connected to one another. Most of the time when I am experiencing my flares, it isn’t an isolated situation. I am not sure if I consider myself lucky or just fortunate that I have been able to for the most part nail down my triggers for my migraines. For me, I have to be careful around red wine, even the smell alone can trigger, packaged deli meats, any product containing nitrates, some white fish (shrimp), the weather (high levels of humidity) and the hardest ones to manage; lack of sleep and stress. Whenever my doctor tells me to get more sleep and stress less, I am like….??? Stress and lack of sleep is also a major contributing factor to my IBS which in turn affects my gastroparesis as well as leaky gut and SIBO. The less sleep I get throughout the weeks and the worse I am about managing my stress and taking care of my well being the more migraines I will suffer from, the more bloating I will physically feel, the less I will be able to eat, the more negative reactions to food I will feel, the more my IBS will act up and so forth! I will have a build up of toxins in my body that will cause tremendous bloating, IBS-D and C, and pain in my abdomen. In a future post, I will come back to stress, sleep, and anxiety. You can see how important it is to truly take care of yourself. It isn't selfish in doing so. It is allowing you to live your best life. I won’t go into too much detail about foods that I have to avoid because for example, my body changes constantly. At times I’ve had to remove eggs, salmon, peanut butter, chicken, or apples out of my diet to name a few, then months will pass by and I am able to eat said foods without an issue. As mentioned before I do limit sugar tremendously (agave, high fructose corn syrup, any types of syrups and stick to small quantities of dates, honey and maple syrup in recipes). I also do limit nightshade vegetables, grains, and make a conscious effort to constantly add variety each week to my meals as well as mindfully eat/chew every single meal. It sounds silly, but eating your meal without distractions makes a huge difference especially if you suffer from digestive issues. I think that if you are at the beginning stages of figuring everything out and feel helpless, keeping a food journal is a great idea. At the same time, I am very against them. Personally speaking, I believe they can trigger old habits or start new ones for people, cause you to overthink / become anxious around food, and allow you to become to rigid in your lifestyle. I do believe that jotting down notes after certain meals if you felt “off,” noticed signs of headaches, fatigue, bloating, or brain fog is a great idea! I used to do that, now I do it mentally. I make a mental note of how I felt both mentally and physically and make the decision to myself if I want to either cut the food out of of my diet completely, take a break from it and reintroduce it again in a few weeks, or keep it only have it every so often. As you can see your body probably changes as does mine. I am constantly figuring out what foods work and which ones do not, but have a better grasp and understanding of what foods I need to stay away from and which foods nourish my body, simply by experimentation. Which, I believe is the best way to figure out if any food will work for you or not, rather than listening to someone else. You need to figure out what works for you, and you only.

So this is a start. There are so many more questions that I want to touch upon and have received that I can't wait to dive deeper into. Questions range from my work outs to alleviate digestive pain, anxiety, and migraines, how I went from being a vegan to eating meat, how to deal with these issues while traveling, social pressures, and so many more that I love. I am hoping that these answers, questions, discussions are meaningful, helpful, and become something that I can continue to write about every two weeks for now and eventually once a week.  I would love to hear from you! Comments, questions, whatever; leave here or send in an email if you feel more comfortable!