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! 

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! 

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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