Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Grow Your Brain, Move Your Body

As kids are getting back into the groove of school, it is important to find ways to support their brain and body's development. One of the biggest things we see impact children's behavior and school work is sitting for long periods of time. On average students sit for 6.5 hours/day in school alone! All of which does not include extra time doing homework, playing on electronic devices, or watching TV. Studies have found that adding in movement and change of scenery every 20 minutes improves focus, memory, performance, as well as health outcomes.

The brain develops and learns through movement and play, whether it be through tummy time,  playing on the playground, participating in a sport, or going on a walk. A common trend within the last generation is increased screen and sitting time. The average screen time has doubled from 3 hours/day in 1995 to 6.5 hours/day in 2015 for all age groups. This increase has major health impacts; including, development delays, increased risk of obesity, and decreased sleep time. With increased screen time, kids are spending less time playing, talking, engaging in social interaction, exploring, moving, and reading – all of which improve mental, physical, and social development.

Screen Time Tips:
  • No more than 1.5 hours of screen time/day 
  • Avoid in kids younger than 18-24 months as they are unable to understand the 2D images
  • Use programming in a constructive way – interact and ask questions to promote learning
  • Avoid use during meals 
  • Stop use 1 hour before bed 
Another way we stifle learning is through “buckets” that limit movement and discovery. “Buckets” may include…
  •  Car seats
  •  Desks
  • Nursing pillows
  • Strollers
  • Bumbo seats
  • Bouncer and rocker seats

For an infant time spent in a “bucket” allows for little to no movement, which impacts reaching developmental milestones, integrating primitive reflexes, and establishing social interactions. It is important to limit “bucket” time to 20-30 minutes and avoid letting them sleep in a “bucket.” The same rules apply for toddlers and school age children. Incorporating physical activity into your child’s day will promote oxygen, blood flow, and neural connections. All are essential for healthy brain function and growth. Studies have also found that a combination of sensory (swinging, rolling, and jumping) and motor (crawling, rocking, tumbling, and spinning) based activities improve attention and reading. Therefore, getting your little one on their tummies for tummy time, engaging in games and play with your kids, or encouraging your teen to take a run before starting homework will help to stimulate healthy brain growth and function.

Learning and Movement Tips:
  • Move every 20-30 minutes of sitting- your brain “falls asleep” after sitting for 20 minutes
  • Tummy time for infant - 40-60 minutes/day split into 5-10 minute sessions 
  • Promote your kids playing at home - whether it is playing hide and seek, doing a puzzle, or going on a family walk
  • Have your kids take advantage of gym and recess time
  • Incorporate quick games, i.e. toss a ball to practice vocabulary words or getting to know you activities, as well as stretching into daily learning

Monday, August 14, 2017

Elimination Diet - Detoxifying and Rebuilding the Gut

Many of you have properly have heard of gluten and dairy free diets. You may have tried cutting these foods out of your diet or wondered if it is just another fad. Gluten and dairy foods consist of proteins that maybe reactive in the digestive track. These reactions vary from person to person, but may include sluggishness, bloating, and cramping. We recommended patients, young and old, to eliminate these foods to improve their overall healing and ability to function better in their environments. 

Dietary changes have the tendency to cause high levels of undo stress. It is my goal with this post to simplify and de-stress the process, so you and your family can make healthful lifestyle changes. 
The best place to start is with a diet diary to evaluate how toxic and inflammatory the diet is. A diet diary consists of writing down everything that you eat, drink, medications or supplements taken, as well as reactions to meals for 7 days. Whether the diet diary consist of missed meals, minimal veggies and fruits, or full of sugar it provides a starting place for change. When working with sensory kids it is especially important to pay attention to their dietary reactions, whether they complain of belly aches or you notice behavioral changes. 

Many people consume the Standard American Diet (SAD), which consists of a high intake of meat, dairy, fat, and refined sugar, as well as low intake of vegetables and fruits. As you may guess the SAD is not a very healthy diet, which correlates with the overall increase in inflammatory conditions and diseases – acne, behavioral issues, cancer, digestive issues, etc. 

Gluten and dairy make up a large portion of the SAD, and are very reactive in our bodies. The proteins, gluten and casein, found in wheat and dairy products, respectively, are broken down by dipeptidyl peptidase-4 (DPP4) enzyme. However, many people have DPP4 insufficiency or deficiency. This causes the proteins to not be broken down fully, which creates peptides (smaller proteins): gluteo-morphine and caseo-morphine that mimic opiods. Opioids are substances that bind to receptors in the brain that produce morphine effects. Morphine has addictive properties. Therefore, people who lack DPP4 are more prone to having addictive responses to gluten and casein. Both gluteo-morphine and caseo-morphine peptides frequently cause feelings of spaciness, intoxication, high pain tolerance, repetitive behaviors, and contentment. This intoxication may result in craving and strong attachment to foods. 

Sensory kids like to eat SAD foods, especially mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, and French fries. These foods share texture in common, as they break down in the mouth without chewing. Many sensory kids have low muscle tone in their mouth muscles and decreased sense of smell and taste, which makes the texture of these foods appealing. 

When you have decided that going gluten and/or dairy free is right for you and your family – where should you start? I would recommend picking one, gluten or dairy, and do a transitional elimination diet. This form of an elimination diet focuses on transitioning from the current to gluten and/or dairy free diet, as the palate and brain evolve, and body detoxes. 
  • Detox Timing:
    • Casein = 3 weeks
    • Gluten = 3 months
Due to the body’s ability to detox from dairy quicker, many parents prefer to restrict dairy first and then move on to gluten after their kids begin to feel better. Detoxes are difficult no matter the age. So, start small by picking and transiting with your child’s favorite food. 
  • I.e. Mac and cheese
    • Buy Kraft Mac and cheese and organic, gluten free macaroni pasta (Bionaturae) w/ diary free cheese (Daiya)
    • Make both
    • Serve ¾ Kraft and ¼ gluten/dairy free
    • Work up from ½ Kraft and ½ gluten/dairy free, ¼ Kraft and ¾ gluten/dairy free, until your child tolerates full gluten/dairy free over a few weeks
    • If your child pays attention to you making them meals be sure to keep the Kraft box out on the counter-top while you are preparing the meal as long as it takes for the transition 
After the transition phase, it is important to have an action plan to introduce nutritious foods.
  • Restrict all dairy (casein) foods for 3 weeks
  • Restrict all gluten foods for 3 months
  • Monitor your child for symptoms during the restriction (i.e. food diary)
  • Get nutritious foods into your child
    • Juicing and smoothies – a great way to introduce them to fruits and veggies
      • Carrot apple juice is where I would recommend starting. If you kiddo is resistant about drinking it, try making juice popsicles. 
      • Sample Recipes:
        • http://www.marthastewart.com/334014/carrot-apple-juice 
        • https://thehealthyfamilyandhome.com/carrot-apple-and-celery-juice/
  • Use substitutes for gluten and/or dairy food substitutes as needed. Most of these can be found at your local co-op or in the health food section of your grocery store. 
    • Gluten Free Food List
      • Udi’s – bread, muffins, bagels
      • Lara and Clif – bars
      • Barbara’s, Glutino, Annie’s – crackers, cookies, cereal
      • Amy’s – pizza, mac and cheese, frozen entrees 
      • Bionaturae - pastas 
    • Dairy Free Food List
      • Silk – soy, almond, cashew based milk and yogurt
      • So Delicious Diary Free – coconut based milk, creamer, yogurt, ice cream
      • Daiya – plant based cheese 
      • Rice Dream – ice cream
      • Earth Balance – butter and mayo 
Some parents choose to reintroduce gluten and/or dairy after they have cleared from their child's system "just to see." It is important to wait until positive changes have been made before reintroducing (3+ months). Typically, parents notice a rapid increase in behavioral and digestive issues after gluten and/or dairy reintroduction. When ready to eliminate these foods again you can choose to follow the same steps as before or pick up where your left off, all of which depends on your child's needs. 

These changes that you are making in your family’s life are more than just a diet, they are lifestyle changes that will allow them to think, function, and live at their fullest potential. Check out Blue Hills Chiropractic Pinterest board https://www.pinterest.com/bluehillschiropractic/ for kid’s healthy meal ideas. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Natural Seasonal Allergy Remedies

No matter the season there are a variety of allergens in our environment that cause our bodies to respond, sometimes more re-actively in the form of allergies. Typically, seasonal allergy symptoms include congestion, runny nose, sneezing, and itchy eyes. If you are curious if allergens are high, check out The Weather Channel's allergy tracker. 

Allergens fluctuate based on the season, below are Wisconsin's:
  • Spring – tree pollen
  • Summer – grass pollen
  • Fall – weed pollen, mold, and dust mites
  • Winter – mold and dust mites
To help support your immune system and relieve allergy symptoms there are a variety of natural remedies. However, be sure to check with your healthcare provider to determine what would work best for you.
  1. Raw Local Honey
    • Consuming local honey is key because it contains pollen that bees have collected in your environment. Your body can respond and recognize the pollen as a non-threat to your immune system, which prevent the allergic response.
    • Dose: 1-2 TBSP/day
  2. Apple Cider Vinegar
  3. Bromelain and Quercetin
    • These enzymes are found in colorful veggies and fruit, especially in pineapple. They act together to support the immune system and break up mucus. One of my favorite supplements for sinus health is Sinuplex. http://www.metagenics.com/mp/products/sinuplex
    • Dose: 
      • Bromelain: 100-200 mg/day – Be sure to take an hour or two before or after meal
      • Quercetin: 400-500 mg 3x/day 
  4. Probiotics
    • Most of your immune system resides in your gut and it is important to keep your healthy gut flora happy. Taking a daily probiotic will improve your immune system, digestion, and mood.
    • Dose: 50 billion IU/day
  5. Stinging Nettle

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Perks of Pelvic Balance during Pregnancy

Pregnancy is a natural process that allows the female body to modify itself to create the proper environment for fetal growth and development. Our bodies are designed to carry and birth babies. However, pregnancy is commonly treated as an illness that requires a diagnosis or intervention for best outcomes. As natural health care providers, we strive to provide our mamas with information and care that allows their bodies to function at its fullest potential during pregnancy, labor and delivery, and postpartum recovery.

Let's start with a brief anatomy lesson. The female pelvis is evolutionary built for child birth. It is wider to allow for uterine expansion and exit of the baby. The pelvis consists of bones and ligaments that house and attach the uterus. These components need to work together for optimal birth outcomes.

Pelvic Bones:
  • Hips (ilium. ischium, and pubis)
  • Tailbone (sacrum and coccyx)
Pelvic Ligaments:
  • Round ligaments – connect the uterus near the fallopian tubes to the labia majora
  • Uterosacral ligaments – connects cervix to the tailbone
  • Sacrotuberous ligaments – connects the tailbone to the sitz bones
During pregnancy, the expanding uterus and hormonal changes impact the pelvic bones and ligaments. Pelvic shape or physical traumas to the tailbone may result in tightening and twisting of the ligaments, which impacts prenatal comfort, fetal positioning, and birth outcomes. Chiropractic adjustments are a safe, gentle way to decrease pelvic tension and allow the body to adapt and function as it was designed to. Below are a few benefits of getting adjusted during pregnancy, as well as recommendations we give our mamas.

Benefits for Mom:
  • Balances pelvis for easier pregnancy and birth
  • Decreases tension and discomfort in ligaments and pelvis
  • Stimulates parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)
Benefits for Baby:
  • Creates more space for baby in utero for development
  • Helps baby get into proper birthing position. This may decrease the chances of baby getting stuck (dystocia) and requiring interventions.
  • Body Ball – sitting on a body ball helps to keep pelvis balanced and mobile. It is great to rock hips forward, do figure eights, or bounce on after a long day at work or during contractions.
  • Cat/Cow Pose – moving through this yoga position will help to gently move the tailbone, improve breathing and relaxation, and strengthen the pelvic floor.
  •  “Hammock” for Baby – leaning against the wall or in child’s pose increases space in the uterus for baby.
  • Round Ligament Massage – gentle massage to the tight muscle fibers of the round ligament will release pressure and discomfort.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Welcome to the Fabulous Vagus Nerve

The last post discussed how our nervous system interprets and handles different types of stress (physical, emotional, and chemical). There is a fine balance between our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems ("Gas vs. Brake Pedal"), and how our body responds to stress. This week we are going to touch on the Vagus nerve, which acts as an internal brake pedal.

The Vagus nerve is a long, wandering nerve that sends branches to almost every organ and gland in our thorax and abdomen. It is the 10th cranial nerve starting in the brain stem, exiting out through the skull (jugular foreman), and traveling down to the throat, chest, diaphragm, and abdomen. Below is an image of where some of the Vagus nerve's branches go.

With so many branches the Vagus nerve has to relay information to and from the brain to control a variety of functions.

Vagus Nerve Communication Pathways:
  1. Brain to Body - Our brain informs the body that everything is safe in the environment and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system ("rest and digest") to control our throat, esophagus, heart, lungs, diaphragm, stomach, and intestines. Allowing the body to absorb, digest, grow, heal, and build a healthy immune system. 
  2. Body to Brain - Our body interprets the world around us sending information about pain, temperature, and touch from the ear, throat, chest and abdominal organs up to the brain.
Vagus Nerve Functions:

  • Anti-stress hormone production (acetylcholine and oxytocin) 
  • Swallowing and digesting food
  • Keeping our heart beating and lungs breathing 
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Supporting immune and stem cell function

Vagus nerve's ability to decrease inflammation is a critical component to pump the brakes, which allows the body to properly grow and develop. In a study comparing two rats in the same environment, one had its Vagus nerve stimulated and the other turned off. The rat with its Vagus nerve stimulated had drastically decreased gut inflammation and improved immune function compared to the other rat. How does Vagus nerve get turned off? Based on its geography as it exits the skull it is prone to physical stress from birth trauma. When it is turned off the body is stuck in a stressful "fight or flight" state. This imbalance will impact the child's ability to develop and interact with their environment.

Results of a Turned Off Vagus Nerve:

  • Decreased...
    • Social, emotional recognition and expression
    • Speech and communication
    • Sensory regulation
    • Calm and relaxation
    • Slowing down heart and breathing
    • Digestion motility and relaxation
    • Immune boosting and anti-inflammatory

When children present with a few or all of theses changes they are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Therefore, having your child's nervous system checked for stress and subluxations will determine the health of their Vagus nerve. With care their nervous system will start to heal as it switches from gas pedal/"fight or flight" to a brake pedal/"rest and digest" state, which promotes healing and relaxation. Ultimately, allowing them to grow and flourish in their world!

For more information on the nervous system, kids health, and much more please check out our Perfect Storm Workshop. http://www.bluehillschiropractic.com/perfectstorm.html

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Running on Empty: How Stress Impacts the Nervous System

One of our key focuses as a pediatric clinic is supporting the developing nervous system. As most parents, teachers, and health providers can attest there has been a drastic increase in the number of chronic pediatric conditions within in the past decade. Whether it be autism, ADHD, anxiety and depression, asthma, ear infections, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Most of our patients have been diagnosed with one of these conditions when they come to the clinic. As chiropractors, we focus less on the "labels" and more so on the neurological adaptations their bodies have undergone due to chronic stress. 

Our first step is to determine the unique stressors that trigger neurological change. We typically encounter three main categories of stress:
  1. Traumas/Physical 
    • Birth 
    • Trips and falls
    • Posture
  2. Toxins/Chemical
    • Pollution (air, soil, and water)
    • Nutritional deficiencies and food choices
    • Vaccines 
  3. Thoughts/Emotional
    • Stressful pregnancy and birth
    • Anxiety about school, sports, work
    • Stress at home, school, friends
Each of these stressors may create an imbalance in the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls the body's automatic responses in the organs, glands, and blood vessels. There are two branches of the ANS:
  1. Sympathetic Nervous System: Fight or Flight/ Gas Pedal
  2. Parasympathetic Nervous System: Rest and Digest/ Brake Pedal
Both systems are integral to our survival, but they cannot be active at the same time. We should spend the most time in a Brake Pedal state (80%) and less time in the Gas Pedal state (20%). However, the stressors (stressful birth and delivery, constant worrying, skipping meals, not getting enough sleep, rushing to activities, etc.) we encounter tend to send our systems into sympathetic overdrive/always stepping on the gas pedal. This sympathetic shift occurs anytime our body perceives a threat and needs to enter protection mode (fight or flight), which causes our an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration, as well as a decrease in blood sent to our brain and digestive organs. In these "stressful" events our body is shunting blood away from areas that promote growth and development. It is especially important for our mamas-to-be and kids to be in the Brake Pedal state as much as possible to promote a healthy functioning nervous, immune, and digestive systems. 

Ways to Step on the Brakes:

  1. Getting adjusted - Resets the nervous system and promotes a Brake Pedal state. 
  2. Belly breathing - Placing one hand on your chest and the other on your tummy. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in. Focus on which hand raises first. It should be the tummy hand. If it isn't, try again. With every belly breath, you are increasing the amount of oxygen circulating throughout your body, which promotes relaxation.
  3. Bach's Rescue Remedy - Gentle homeopathic remedy that helps reduce stress and anxiety (kid, adult, and pet friendly options) http://www.bachflower.com/rescue-remedy-information
  4. Get outside - Play at the park, walk, or jog. Getting out into nature helps improve breathing and circulation. Spending time with family and friends is a bonus. 
  5. Hugs - Giving a loved one a 30 second hug releases oxytocin. This hormone is released when the body is a in safe, relaxed place. Simply hugging your child or partner will create a calming effect for both of you. 

Friday, March 31, 2017

Prenatal Nutrition: Basic Building Blocks for Baby

Whether you are trying to conceive or are currently pregnant, providing your body with the essential nutrients is important for proper fetal development. Most mamas only take a prenatal vitamin and assume it will be enough to create a new life. However, one of leading causes of infertility is maternal nutritional deficiency. Let's dive into the basic building blocks, both dietary and supplemental, that it takes to build a baby.

Macronutrients are the basic building blocks that allow our bodies to generate energy, in the form of calories. The 3 macronurtients are:
  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbohydrates
Diets throughout history have consisted of a balance between these nutrients. Fat made up 50-80%, protein between 10-30%, and carbohydrates between 5-35%. Both history and research suggest that the ideal ratio for fertility and pregnancy is a high fat, moderate protein, and low to moderate carbohydrate diet.

Our bodies require fat for healthy cellular structure and function. Breast milk is a perfect example of how nature gets it right, as it is made up of 55% fat, 38% carbohydrates, and 7% protein. Also, eating fats with vegetables (i.e. olive oil on a salad or steamed veggies) helps your body better absorb vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins will support a healthy cell function in mom and growth of baby. Protein is important for muscle creation. However, studies have found that pregnant hunter gather women are mildly adverse to protein intake. This is due to a decrease in the body's ability to make urea, a waste product of protein metabolism. Typically, a pregnant body will crave less protein. If the body require more protein, she will crave more. The prental body needs 10-15% protein, which equates to 50-75 grams (g): 1 egg has 6 g, 1 cup of chicken breast has 43 g, 1 cup of black beans has 39 g.

Major prenatal nutrition goals:
  • Eat real, whole foods
  • Maintain steady blood sugar levels
  • Maintain steady blood pressure levels
  • Incorporate essential nutrients to support developing baby and maintain mom's health
  • Reduce risk of gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, over or under weight gains
  • Promote best post-partum recovery
Supplementation is important during pregnancy to provide mom with the essential nutrients to create a new life. Prenatal vitamins are essential, but quality matters. It is recommended to avoid options that are full of filler, artificial ingredients and colors, low doses or missing ingredients. I recommended taking whole food based prenatal vitamin with methylated B vitamins. Methylated B9 (L-5 methylterahydrofolate) and B12 (methylcobalamin) are the active forms of these vitamins and are easier for mom's body to use in developing her baby's nervous system.

Links to a few of my favorite prenatal vitamins:

Beyond a prenatal vitamin there are 3 other essential nutrients for building baby.

Vitamin D3 is a hormone that influences almost every cell in your body, and has been linked to boosting fertility rates in women and men.

Vitamin D benefits:

  • Improves reproductive health
  • Improves sperm quality and count
  • Higher fertilization and implantation rates
  • Lower risk of miscarriages
  • Reduces risk of pre-eclampsia, premature delivery, and pregnancy complications
  • Enhances immune system
  • Decreased risk of infection, asthma, and eczema in baby 

It is recommended to have your vitamin D levels (serum 25(OH)D) checked prior to supplementing.  Optimal vitamin D levels are between 50-100 ng/mL. A minimum of 50 ng/mL is recommended to be hormonally healthy. Maternal levels greater than 65 ng/dL are optimal for transferring vitamin D to infant while breast feeding. The general recommended dosage is 2,000-4,000 IU per day to meet your body's needs; however, higher dosage may be necessary depending on you level.

Fish Oil/Omega 3 Fatty Acids (EPA and DHA) are important in promoting fertility and development of your baby's brain, eyes, and heart during pregnancy.

Fish oil benefits:

  • Regulate hormones and increase blood flow to the uterus
  • Help normalize menstrual cycle 
  • Promote ovulation
  • Increase white cervical mucus to help the sperm reach the egg
  • Produce healthier sperm
  • Higher rates of conception
  • Lower rates of miscarriage and premature birth
  • Decreases chances of developing postpartum depression
  • EPA is necessary to grow a healthy circulatory system (heart and blood vessels)
  • DHA is important to build a healthy central nervous system (brain and spinal cord)

Sources of fish oil:

  • Dietary: fish, eggs, meat, nuts, seeds, dark greens, and leafy vegetables
  • Supplements: 1,000 - 3,000 mg/day

Probiotics help to establish a healthy microbiome. Microbes (bacteria, viruses, and fungi) colonize our mouth, gut, genitourinary tract, skin, and breastmilk. Supplementing with probiotics (10-20 billion c.f.u/day) will support a healthy immune system and digestion during pregnancy. During vaginal delivery mom gives baby their first dose of microbes. She continues to share and help baby's colonization through skin on skin contact and nursing, which helps the developing immune system and digestion.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Take Care of Your Ticker

February is heart health month, but it's important to keep this subject on our minds year-round. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans. You probably know someone who has suffered from heart disease. So let’s learn a bit more about your heart and learn five simple lifestyle tips to reduce your chance of heart disease.

The Basics:
-          The Cardiovascular System: consists of the heart and blood vessels (arteries and veins), as well as the blood that circulates oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and immune factors throughout the body.
-          The Pump: an adult heart pumps 5 quarts of blood per minute, which is 8,000 quarts of blood per day!  
-          Heart Disease: an overarching diagnosis of a variety of health concerns involving the heart and blood vessels including:
o   high cholesterol
o   high blood pressure
o   heart attack
o   stroke
-          How it starts: typically, heart disease begins with cholesterol plaque build-up or increased pressure on the arteries causing them to narrow. Narrowed arteries limit the amount of blood and oxygen allowed to circulate throughout the body, which leads to chest pain, erectile dysfunction, heart attacks or strokes.
-          Why it starts: genetics play a role in heart disease; however, lifestyle and environment factors are highly influential in your risk for heart disease. 

How to slow, prevent, recover from heart disease:

  1. Water: Take your weight in pounds, divide it by 2, drink that many ounces of water a day, repeat every day.  Water helps your body do everything it needs to do, including reduce your blood pressure. Drinking coffee, tea, soda, or juices increase blood pressure in comparison to water, so cut back on the caffeine, drink more H2O.
  2. Plant Based Diet: This diet offers a variety of health benefits including, high fiber, antioxidants, and unsaturated fats. Another benefit, is increasing the alkalinity/decreasing acidity of the blood that decreases the amount of cholesterol the body will lay down to protect the blood vessels. Consuming fats (olive, coconut, avocado, and macadamia nut oil) with vegetables and fruits improves the absorption of important vitamins, such as A, E, D, and K. These vitamins play an important role in heart health.  Can’t imagine a world without meat?  Start with replacing meat with a vegetarian option once a week, then increase from there.  No meat Monday for example.  Need good ideas for vegetarian meals? There are a ton on pinterest.
  3. Not All Saturated Fats Are Bad: 1 tablespoon of coconut oil has equal amounts of saturated fats as an 8 ounce steak. What determines why one is healthier than the other? Coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides or omega-3 fatty acids. Whereas, animal fats are rich in omega-6 and 9 fatty acids. Overall, omega-3 fatty acids are easier to metabolize, anti-inflammatory, and are cholesterol free. 
  4. Exercise: Get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily. Most people assume they need to go the gym in order to exercise; however, simply getting active and doing something you enjoy counts. Whether that be jogging, yoga, walking your dog, hiking, or swimming, etc. Exercising will release happy hormones (endorphins), improve blood flow, reduce blood pressure and stress. Sitting is considered to be the new smoking, based on how much time we spend in our cars commuting to and from work and sitting at our desks. Our sedentary lifestyles are increasing our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. 
  5. Human Pet Interactions: Petting and talking to your dog has been linked to overall heart health improvement: reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate, and heart attacks. Also, time spent with your dog will help to lower anxiety and release of calming hormones (dopamine and serotonin).  Don’t have a pet but need to find out where to get one?  Start local with the Humane Society of Barron County.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Estrogen Equilibrium: Seed Cycling for Hormone Harmony

As a clinic that focuses on promoting and supporting women's health at all ages, we encounter a variety of hormonal related issues such as:
  • Regulating an irregular/painful period
  • PMS
  • Acne
  • Difficulty conceiving and/or miscarriages 
  • Coping with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
  • Transitioning into menopause
What do all of these issues have in common? Hormone imbalance between estrogen and progesterone. Specifically, most women are dealing with estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance often develops from excessive amounts of estrogen in our environment, called xenoestrogens. Examples of xenoestrogens:
  • Pesticides 
  • Cosmetics (parabens)
  • Plastic products (BPA, phthalates)
  • Hormonal birth control
In addition to the issues listed above, estrogen dominance due to xenoestrogens can lead to more serious issues like thyroid dysfunction or cancer of the breasts, ovaries, or uterus. 
So how can you help your body find balance? In addition to avoiding xenoestrogens where you can, a gentle, natural method is seed cycling. Seed cycling incorporates different seeds and oils into your diet during different phases of your menstrual cycle, which will help promote estrogen detoxification and progesterone production. Overall, helping to restore natural hormone balance in your body.

How to seed cycle:
  • Follicular Phase (Day 1-14): 
    • Flax seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Pumpkin seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Fish or Flax Oil - 2 capsules/2x day
  • Luteal Phase (Day 15-28):
    • Sunflower seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Sesame seeds (ground) - 1 TBS
    • Evening Primrose Oil - 2 capsules/2x day
Getting started may feel overwhelming; however, you may be able to find all of this at your local grocer if they have a well stocked natural/organic section, but if not check your local co-op. Personally, I purchase Bob's Red Mill brand seeds and like Garden of Life or NOW brand as over the counter supplement options. I would recommend starting on Day 1 of your menstrual cycle. To simplify the process, grind your organic, raw seeds one to two days in advance and store them in the refrigerator to preserve the healthy properties. Then eat your mixed seeds (2 TBS) and take your oil supplements daily. I like to add my seeds to a smoothie, yogurt, or oatmeal. Avoid snacking on the whole seeds throughout the day, as it will decrease their efficacy. It takes time to balance your hormones and re-establish a healthy menstrual cycle; typically, three to four months. Therefore, it's important to be patient and gentle on yourself as you start making lifestyle changes that will impact your overall well-being. 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Ooh Genes: MTHFR mutation

Our health is determined by two key factors, our genes and environment.  Genes are the blue print for our body and its function. We inherit two copies of each gene from our parents. Although, we all have different backgrounds studies have found there to be little variation in the human genome, less than one percent. The small difference in our DNA contribute to our unique features, both physically and mentally, as well as how we respond and adapt to our environment. Epigenetics is the study of how our environment alters our gene expression. We are exposed to a variety of chemical toxins, fillers, pollution, and negative thoughts on a daily basis. Our bodies are built to seek and destroy potential enemies; however, if our immune system is weakened and an enemy slips by or constantly bombarded by enemies it causes our defense and repair system to  go awry, which will cause changes in our DNA. Therefore, our overall health is influenced by the food we eat, nutrients we absorb, water we drink, air we breathe, and the thoughts we think.  These environmental stressors have the ability to turn on and off genes, thus making some people more prone to heart disease, depression, and breast cancer.

A common gene to be turned off is MTHFR. A healthy MTHFR gene is responsible for making a surplus of the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR). The role of this enzyme is to convert folate (B9) active form L-methylfolate that is usable by the body.  L-methylfolate is essential in creating neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine, and neural tube development. Also, MTHFR is responsible for converting the amino acid homocysteine to methionine and glutathione. This conversion process is important for protein production, as well as disease prevention. 
The severity of MTHFR gene mutation is based on having one or two gene mutations. 

Conditions Associated with MTHFR Mutations:
  • Infertility
  • Miscarriages
  • Spina bifida
  • Depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Hypertension
  • Hyperlipidemia
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Migraines
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Alzheimer Disease

  • Eat an Anti-Inflammatory Diet - Eliminating gluten, dairy, and processed foods will help decrease inflammation and toxins that the build up in the body. Eating organic vegetables and fruits, as well as limited grass fed, free range, antibiotic free meat and eggs will provide your body essential methylated nutrients and less toxins.
  • Eat a Plant Based Diet - Dark, leafy greens (i.e. kale, collard greens, spinach) and vegetables (i.e. asparagus and broccoli) contain methylated forms of folate. 
  • Support a Healthy Gut - One of the key functions of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is to absorb nutrients. It is important to support this function by taking probiotics and eating prebiotics, fermented foods, and bone broth. 
  • Supplement with Methylated B vitamins: Supplementing with methylated folate (B9) and cobalamin (B12) is important because you are providing your body with the active, usable form of the vitamin. 
  • Avoid Environmental Toxins - MTHFR mutations decrease the body's ability to eliminate toxins; therefore, it is important to avoid environmental toxins (BPA, EDTA, phthalates, etc.), heavy metals, unfiltered water, cleaning products, and synthetic hormones.
  • Detoxing - With an impaired ability to eliminate toxins, it is important to support the body by  drinking water, taking detox baths, exercising, and dry brushing. 
Genetic testing is the only way to definitely determine if you have a MTHFR mutation.  However, eating a healthier diet, promoting gut and immune health, and eliminating environmental toxins will improve overall health and wellbeing.