Candida, Depression, Brain Fog, Weight Gain and More

Candida and Its Impact on Your Health

sugar

Most people are unaware that they have a candida issue.  Candida normally lives in harmony with other gut bacteria but if this balance gets disturbed this is when problems can occur and the candida yeast can proliferate.  It normally resides in the intestinal tract, mouth, esophagus, and genitals. However, it can lead to leaky gut and then it will enter the blood stream and make its way to any organ in the body. Thus, every organ in your body is at risk of damage. To make matters worse, candida emits over 70 different toxins into the body. 

Yeast prefers dark, warm places to grow and thrive such as in your nose, throat, mouth, and intestinal tract and genital area.  It thrives on sugar for growth and development. 

The body will always have some yeast but the goal is to rebalance the body and recolonize the good bacteria in our gut so that there is less of the candida yeast.  At normal levels, candida is harmless.

How an Overgrowth of Yeast Can Lead to Problems

Candida can cause Leaky Gut Syndrome, impacting gut health.  The overgrowth of yeast can take over, dominate the good bacteria in the gut and thus fungal dysbiosis occurs.  This yeast can change into a more invasive form that will secrete enzymes that break down the cell membrane thus causing a leaky gut.  To learn more about Leaky gut syndrome click http://trufoodsnutrition.com/5157-2/

Now that the gut is more permeable, toxins, can leak into the blood stream causing symptoms such as brain fog, fatigue and depression.  In addition to this, partially digested food particles can now leak into the blood stream, creating inflammation and possibly food sensitivities.  When the yeast crosses into the blood stream, an area that it does not belong in, the body can trigger the creation of antibodies by the immune system, leading to an autoimmune disease such as celiac disease or Hashimotos since these antibodies can cross react with the skin (psoriasis), joint tissue (rheumatoid arthritis) or even the brain (MS, Parkinson’s disease). While most people would never associate an overgrowth of yeast with an autoimmune disorder, it is something that does need to be taken into consideration. 

While yeast may have been your original issue, now you are faced with a host of ailments, many which your health professional cannot figure out or just gives you a medication for. 

Common Causes of Yeast Overgrowth

fast food burger

(for more information see my article on Candida and ADHD here )

  • Standard American Diet. This refined, highly processed and high sugar diet contributes to yeast overgrowth
  • Antibiotic usage. Even just one round of antibiotics can upset the balance in the gut. Don’t forget the added antibiotics from CAFO (confined animal factory operations) meat. 
  • Elevated hormone levels. This can be caused by medications such as prednisone, birth control pill, pregnancy and chronic stress.
  • Acid Suppressing medications such as Prilosec and Prevacid.
  • Alcohol: If you are a heavy drinker, you automatically consume too much sugar. While the alcohol excess is an issue in and of itself, the candida from the alcohol can make a bad situation worse.

Some of the More Common Candida Symptoms

Please note that many of these symptoms can also be symptoms due to other health issues. Always work with your holistic health professional to get to your root cause.

  • Fatigue
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches/migraines
  • Depression and other mood disorders
  • Brain fog, forgetfulness
  • Bloating, gas
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Urinary frequency
  • Itchy bottom
  • Sore throat
  • Athletes foot
  • White coating on tongue
  • Cravings for sugar, refined high carb processed snacks
  • Cravings for alcohol
  • Painful cracks at corners of mouth
  • Acne
  • Bronchitis
  • Chronic sinus infections

Restoring Balance in the Gut

gut

When addressing gut health and restoring balance, take into consideration other systems that have been affected due to the overgrowth of the candida. This includes (but not limited to) the adrenals, liver, blood sugar and immune system. 

  • Vitamin C: Add in foods rich in this vitamin as it is critical for the immune system. It also assists with the detox process. Foods to include would include broccoli, cabbage, watercress, and citrus fruits to name a few. 
  • Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s): Essential fatty acids are used in every cell in the human body. Because candida overgrowth leads to leaky gut syndrome and systemic inflammation, it is important to add in foods that are rich in Omega 3’s since they have been shown to reduce inflammation.  They can reduce the cause of the inflammation and reduce the inflammation that exists. Food sources include wild caught Alaskan Salmon, pasture raised eggs and grass- fed beef.
  • Probiotics: These are the friendly bacteria that live in your gut and help to break down your food. They are vital for a strong immune system. There is constantly new research on the importance of various healthy strains that reside in our gut. Healthy bacteria strains have been associated with maintaining a healthy weight, reduces risk of allergies, asthma, depression, anxiety and much more.  Thus, having a healthy gut is vital to all aspects of your health! Add fermented foods to your diet. These are rich in the good bacteria. Fermented foods include raw fermented sauerkraut and other vegetables, kimchee, miso, kombucha, kefir and raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. 
  • Prebiotics: Think of these as the food for your probiotics. For your probiotics to thrive in the gut, they too need their healthy food! This comes from foods that contain resistant starch.  Resistant starches go through the stomach and the small intestine undigested and reach the colon where it feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut.  Think of resistant starches as food for your gut to keep it healthy.  Resistant starches, also called prebiotics, can come from foods such as raw garlic, raw onion, leeks and chicory root. You can also supplement with products such as FOS or inulin.  These can cause stomach upset, gas and bloating for some.  Another option is to purchase acacia gum which is the resin from the acacia tree.  It comes in a powder.  This is a powerful prebiotic source and one that typically does not cause any digestive complaints. 
  • Caprylic Acid: This is a very effective antifungal. It is one of three fatty acids that are found in coconut oil.  It can kill candida cells and can restore stomach acidity to normal levels.  It is best to combine Caprylic acid with other antifungals during your candida cleanse.  Add in unrefined organic coconut oil into your diet. 
  • Antifungal Herbs: Herbs that have antifungal properties include olive leaf, oregano, Pau D’Arco, allicin from garlic, and grape fruit seed extract. You can start off by adding in raw garlic to your diet. Chop your garlic and let it sit for several minutes to activate the allicin.  Then use it raw such as in your salad dressing.
  • Enzymes: Once candida enters the blood stream and reaches into other parts of the body, such as your sinus cavity, or worse your brain, it can be difficult to eradicate. The candida has a sticky biofilm to protect it from antifungal herbs and medications. Because of the biofilm, the candida can continue to grow and flourish and the biofilm protects the candida from your immune system.  There are enzymes that can break down the cell wall, degrading the biofilm.  These enzymes include cellulase and hemicellulase. Thus, the body can now activate an immune response against the candida overgrowth. 
  • Foods to Avoid: the white stuff-think stuff made with flour and sugar. High simple carb foods convert to sugar in the blood stream, so not only do you need to remove the donuts and cookies but the pasta and the bread too.  While beans and legumes and non- gluten grains are a healthy addition to the diet, it is best to avoid them early on when eliminating candida.  They are high in carbs and should kept to a minimum at the very least.  Avoid and limit foods and meals such as beans and rice, quinoa bowls and non- gluten pastas and breads too.  Keep dairy and gluten out of the candida diet
  • Foods to Add in: Think whole foods! Add in more vegetables and proteins and fats. Limit starchy carbs such as potatoes and squash.  Meals could look like chicken, beef or salmon with a large salad with avocado slices with roasted asparagus or sautéed broccoli or steamed carrots with grass fed butter or ghee with a spoonful of fermented sauerkraut. 

 

Add in nutritional yeast to make cheesy recipes. Add in lemons and limes for more flavor.  Use spices and herbs. Try nuts and seeds in recipes and use them as a great snack. 

 

If you need to sweeten things up a bit, try stevia or pure monk fruit (read label as many monk fruit products are mixed with other ingredients)

 

Bottom Line: If you think you have candida, a health professional can order tests, use assessment and questionnaires and do a thorough health intake to determine if candida is causing your symptoms.  You don’t need to suffer with candida. It does take some time to eradicate, so be patient! Hopefully within a few months you will start to see improvements.

Sources

http://health.usnews.com/health-news/blogs/eat-run/articles/2015-12-23/5-signs-youre-suffering-from-candida-overgrowth-and-what-you-can-do-about-it

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. (2014) Therapeutic Nutrition. CA: Bauman College

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

Levin, W & Gare, F. (2013) Beyond the Yeast Connection. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Pub., Inc

Murray, M, Pizzorno, J, & Pizzorno, L. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. NY: Atria Books. 

Nichols, T. & Faas, N. (2005) Optimal Digestive Health. VT: Healing Arts Press.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and If Life is So Good, Then Why AM I Still Depressed? Discover the root cause for your depression and learn what to do to feel better and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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How to Know if You Have Hypothyroidism

Your Thyroid: Did your Test Results Come Back Normal?

(But you still feel like crap)stressed person

 

 

An underactive thyroid is not always the easiest thing to pinpoint when you have so many symptoms that seem random to you.  And only more recently are doctors starting to recognize that an unbalanced thyroid can have an impact not only on your physical health but your mental health as well.  The symptoms of hypothyroidism can also look like symptoms of other health issues, thus getting the proper diagnosis can take a long time.  If you see your doctor and share your symptoms of stress, fatigue, anxiety or depression, she may place you on antidepressants.

This may occur even after the blood work with the TSH test done. 

Stress, depression, anxiety, tiredness, and other emotional and mental states can mask a thyroid imbalance.  Depression is now the number one mental illness (it used to be anxiety) but are we not looking deep enough to find out what may be causing the high rate of these mental health issues?  Not to say that hypothyroidism is at the root of all mental health issues but it should be looked at thoroughly and from a functional range standpoint before  it can be ruled out.

 If you had your thyroid tested you ideally want your TSH levels to be in the range from 1.8-2.8 mIU/L.  (others state that most feel better when their TSH is in the range of .8-2.5) 

Normal TSH lab results are considered in the range of .50-5.00. Some labs have updated this and set the upper limit to 3.0 mIU/L.  What if your levels fall into this range yet you have many of the low thyroid symptoms?  Hopefully your doctor did a complete panel to look also at your T4 and T3 ranges.  It is possible to have signs of hypothyroidism when your TSH  levels are within what is considered the “normal range”. 

The issue most often arises when your doctor only tests TSH and this is in the “normal” range. The worst part is when you hear the doctor say “Your blood work is great.  You are fine”.  Yet, you don’t feel fine.  Instead they tell you it is in your head and prescribe an antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication.

Reference ranges on lab work may differ from one lab to the next and from one geographic location to the next. Experts recommend testing 120-200 patient samples for establishment of a statistically significant reference interval.  What I don’t like about these ranges provided on standard blood work is that it is there to diagnose disease for the most part, not to prevent disease. The other issue I have is that these ranges are based on the patient samples. Look at the average American nowadays. Does the image of health come to your mind or one of an unhealthy overweight person?

Functional ranges look at a smaller range so that health issues can be addressed before it turns into a full -blown disease.  

Make sure all parts of the thyroid get tested. You can have normal TSH and still have low thyroid.  Your T4 converts into T3 which is the active form of thyroid hormone and this conversion happens in the liver and needs an enzyme group  and selenium to make this conversion. Some doctors test TSH and T4 and still all looks good. You want to see the T3 test results too!  Essentially you want all the pieces to the puzzle not just a few. 

 

Functions of the Thyroid

  • Supports hair and skin health
  • Supports bone density
  • Controls respiration rate
  • Supports conversion of beta-carotene to vitamin A
  • Maintains body temperature and tolerance to extreme heat or cold
  • Helps maintain muscle tautness
  • Controls metabolism-it controls the speed of every chemical reaction in all cells
  • Controls the rate at which cells burn fuel for energy
  • Supports mental acuity and memory
  • Supports serotonin synthesis
  • Sets heart rate tempo
  • Regulates cholesterol

 

  What Causes Hypothyroidism?

millet stalks

  • Most common cause is auto-antibodies such as in Hashimoto’s disease (an autoimmune condition)

o   Hashimoto’s is 7x more common in women, age of onset is usually 40-60 but 1-2% of school age children can be affected.

  • Genetics can play a role in autoimmune hypothyroid
  • Those with Hashimoto’s also have a prevalence for celiac disease
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Medications such as lithium, excess estrogen (i.e.: birth control pills), estrogen dominance
  • Cofactor deficiencies such as iodine, zinc, c, selenium, iron, vitamins A and B complex (can be caused from excessive dieting, anorexia)
  • Stress/elevated cortisol
  • Excess halogens (i.e.: chlorine/chloride, bromide, fluoride)
  • Leaky gut syndrome
  • Food sensitivity
  • Candida

The Difference Between Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos

Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid gland. The antibodies react against the proteins in your thyroid gland causing gradual destruction of the gland itself.  This makes it unable to produce the thyroid hormones your body needs.  It is essentially attacking self and seeing self wrongly as an invader. If your thyroid issue turns out to be Hashimotos than you have an autoimmune disease (AI).  All AI diseases need immune and gut support from a holistic perspective. 

With Hashimotos disease, you can have periods where your thyroid is functioning properly or even over active and you may have temporary hyperthyroid symptoms and then you return to hypothyroidism symptoms.  This cycling back and forth is common with Hashimotos. For instance, you may feel for a period, anxious, can’t sleep, have diarrhea, and weight loss and then followed by a period of depression, fatigue, constipation and weight gain.  Eventually, as the attack continues, the gland will over time have less ability to function.

Hypothyroidism is not a disease but is a condition.  It is a state of a sluggish thyroid.  With hypothyroidism, you have a problem with your gland. With Hashimotos you have a problem with your immune function. 

How Do I Know if I Have Low Thyroid/Hypothyroidism?

person sleeping

Symptoms Include:

  • Loss out outer 1/3 of eyebrow
  • Yellow bumps on eyelid
  • Chronic constipation
  • Depression, moodiness
  • Fatigue/chronic
  • Excess hair loss/thinning hair
  • Weight gain/slow metabolism
  • Cold hands and feet
  • PMS
  • Cry easily
  • Dry flaky skin
  • Nervousness
  • Slow heart rate and/or heart palpitations
  • Muscle weakness
  • Feel better post exercise
  • Can’t breathe deeply enough
  • Poor memory/brain fog
  • Low body temperature
  • Excessive sleeping
  • Trouble getting up in the morning
  • Increased number of infections
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Lack of sweating when exercising
  • High cholesterol
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Digestive issues (GERD, acid reflux, upset stomach, bloat, gas )

If you suspect low thyroid, see you doctor and ask for a hormone panel that looks at not just your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) but your T4 and Free T3 and an antibody test as well to look for autoimmune hypothyroid. If your doctor does not want to do a complete thyroid panel you can get the test done yourself from  www.directlabs.com. Here you can order the free T’s, TSH and antibody panel for $159.  Most holistic nutritionists and ND’s can interpret and explain the results to you.  (note: testing is available in most states but not all)

                                             

Thyroid Dysfunction Causes

glass of water

Insulin imbalance: This can happen when you are eating a diet filled with processed, refined carbs and sugar along with weight gain.  This poor blood sugar control can also contribute to dysbiosis which is when the gut microbiome is out of balance.  This impaired gut health can lead to poor immune function, can stress the adrenals, slows your body’s natural detox process and can lead to hormonal imbalances.  These health issues can also contribute to poor thyroid function.

Stress: Not just one stressful event, but the daily chronic stress can place a burden on the adrenal glands and can alter the brains communication with the thyroid.  Stress can slow the conversion of T4 to the active form, T3, can slow the detox process of the liver, and can contribute to leaky gut syndrome.  This can lead to immune dysfunction which contributes to an increased risk of Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune thyroid condition. 

If you have adrenal fatigue, your thyroid gland can eventually wear out and lead to sluggish thyroid function. 

Gut infection: It is possible that correcting a gut infection such as H pylori can have a positive impact on the thyroid, especially for those with Hashimotos.  There is not a lot of research in this area but a study of ten patients did show this to be effective.  In order to heal a gut infection one must support gut health first with diet and nutrition and then address the gut infection.  If you address the infection first without supporting your body it is possible that it will be difficult to rid the body of the infection. 

Toxins: Research is showing that toxins may be responsible for changes in thyroid function.  This research focused on flame retardant chemicals.  Living in a home with a high amount of flame retardant chemicals has been shown to be linked to an increased rate of thyroid cancer.

Fluoride: A British study found a strong correlation between the areas where fluoride content was highest with a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism.  It was found that areas that had fluoride levels above .3 milligrams per liter (mg/L), the risk rose by 30%.  In the US the minimum standards for drinking water fluoridation are set at .7 mg/L. This means that if you live in the US your risk of hypothyroidism may be even greater.  If you want to know if fluoride has been added to your water, get a water report at http://www.ofmpub.epa.gov

Support Your Thyroid with Nutrition

balanced meal

  • Go gluten free: based on surveys many have found that a gluten free diet is one of most helpful interventions when dealing with hypothyroidism. Check your thyroid medications to make sure they are gluten free as most are but some are not! Visit glutenfreedrugs.com to check your medications.
  • Go Casein Free: Some people also find they do better without dairy in the diet as well. Dairy sensitivity testing is an option or remove dairy for several weeks and note how you feel.  Check packaging for hidden dairy.  Go to enterolab.com for stool testing 
  • Check your gut health: gut disorders such as celiac and h-pylori can interfere with the absorption of thyroid medications. If you want to know more about the gut and thyroid connection read “Hashimoto’s- the root cause” by Dr. Wentz.
  • Balance your blood sugar: Include protein and fat with every meal, eat every two to three hours at first and then as blood sugar balances you can go longer without eating; avoid fruit juice and processed foods; eat within one hour of wakening; don’t fast and if you eat carbs add some protein and fat to them.
  • Get your adrenals checked for adrenal fatigue: Questionnaires are available online, read Adrenal Fatigue by Dr. Wilson or take an adrenal salivary index test from direct labs. (Most doctors will mention this saliva at home test) Support your adrenals by reducing caffeine, add in relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation, include Adaptogenic herbs, get plenty of rest and balance blood sugar!
  • Include iodine rich foods for thyroid support such as sea vegetables and sea food, shellfish, iodized salt (switch out table salt for Himalayan or Celtic sea salt). Iodine’s main function is the synthesis of thyroid hormones. (note: test first, if you have Hashimoto’s you may not need iodine and may want to avoid iodine supplementation)
  • Water Filtration System: Fluoride in the water can block the uptake of iodine. Purchase one that also removes chlorine. The one that I use is the Berkey (www.berkeyfilters.com)
  • Tyrosine which can be found in cottage cheese, beef top sirloin, turkey and eggs
  • B complex: to get more of your B’s in the diet include nutritional yeast, organ meats, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts seeds, mushrooms and avocado and leafy greens (animal products are the only natural source of B12)
  • Selenium: low selenium correlates with low thyroid. Add in brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms, garlic, beef, fish, seafood, turkey and chicken (celiac malabsorption can cause selenium deficiency)
  • Zinc: pumpkin seeds, seafood, meat, eggs, lamb, peas,
  • Essential Fatty Acids: salmon, sardines, mackerel, canned white tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, pastured eggs, flax oil,
  • Ashwagandha: This Adaptogenic herb is known to help you adapt to stress and can help to balance hormones, including the thyroid. It can be useful to balance cortisol, promote insulin sensitivity, and stabilize your mood.
  • Guggul: This herb may enhance the conversion of T4 to T3.  
  • Vitamin A: butter, egg yolk, whole milk, shrimp
  • Vitamin D3: cod liver oil, seafood, eggs, liver, shiitake mushrooms, oysters, salmon, sardines, herring,
  • Vitamin C: yellow bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, limes, broccoli, kale, snow peas, watermelon, cabbage and white potato
  • Iron: iron supplementation is not recommended for postmenopausal women or adult males as too much iron can be toxic. Iron is a competitive nutrient competing with 10 other vitamins and minerals and thus iron should be taken away from your multivitamin/mineral.  Iron rich foods include liver, oysters, mussels, beef, fish, poultry, kidney beans, lentils, potato with the skin on, cashew nuts and tofu.
  • Thyroid Supplementation: use natural whole thyroid products as you need all parts of the thyroid, not just T4 and/or T3. If you have Hashimoto’s then start with a T3/T4 medication and then while supporting the body,  switch to a natural whole thyroid supplement-the reason being that for some the whole thyroid product may initially cause more antibody production. 
  • Eat balanced meals throughout the day, add color, variety to your plate, eat whole living foods!
  • AVOID: Bromine. This is found in pesticides, plastics, commercial baked goods, soft drinks and fire retardants. Bromine may play a role in poor iodine uptake and may lead to iodine insufficiency.
  • AVOID: processed soy products. Avoid sulfa drugs or antihistamines unless necessary. 

A Word of Caution: Please note that a holistic nutritionist will address hypothyroidism and Hashimotos differently. For instance, you may need to reduce goitrogenic foods in the raw state for hypothyroidism but not for Hashimoto’s. For AI, you will need to support the immune system.  Work with a professional who can help you feel better.  If your test results do determine low thyroid, it is still very important to rule out an AI thyroid condition! 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Sources:

Arem, R. (1999) The Thyroid Solution. NY: Ballantine Books

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing. NY: Penguin Group

Bauman, E., & Friedlander, J. Therapeutic Nutrition. Part 1.  Pengrove, CA: Bauman    

   College. 

Gaby, A. (2006) The Natural Pharmacy. NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. The Science and Practie of Herbal Medicine. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

Marz, F. (1999) Medical Nutrition. OR: Omni Press

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/05/31/screening-thryoid-drugs-often-fail-to-relieve-symptoms.aspx?

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23378454

http://fluoridealalert.org/issues/health/thyroid/

https://news.kent.ac.uk/app/uploads/2015/02/Flouride-research.pdf

https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/basics.htm

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Blood Sugar and your Mental Health

Blood Sugar Imbalance and its Impact on your Mental Health

roller coaster

Riding the blood sugar roller coaster day after day can impact your mental health.  The highs followed by crashes may accentuate the symptoms of a mood disorder.  Research has tied processed, refined sugar consumption to an increased risk of depression and can worsen the outcomes of schizophrenia. 

Blood sugar in the form of glucose is the basic fuel for all brain operation and activity.  If it is inadequate, mental health systems can start to shut down.  Glandular imbalances will result as the glands struggle to regulate the sugar level. This can cause symptoms such as high adrenaline which can look like anxiety, panic attacks or violence. 

Just by making tweaks to your diet you can improve your blood sugar regulation and your mental health.

The Impact of Blood Sugar Dysregulation on our Mental Health

By now, most of know that sugar and processed foods are bad for our heart, cholesterol and waistline.  But not as much attention is giving to what it does to our brain. 

Here is what Happens

bread pasta rice

  1. You eat a meal or have a drink with excess sugar. Say you start your day with a bagel, muffin or donut, or have cereal with milk, banana and some OJ.
  2. The pancreas releases insulin to bring glucose to the cells but because of the high amount of sugar, the insulin response is excessive
  3. About 2 hours later so much sugar has been put into storage that you now have low blood sugar and are feeling weak, shaky, brain fog, fatigue, change in mood (depression) and cravings
  4. The body responds to this as an emergency so it dumps adrenaline into the system. This causes anxiety, racing heart, irritability, anxiousness, panic, outbursts and more
  5. You reach for a processed carb or sugar product to get your sugar levels back up. Thus, the cycle begins again.

This cycle contributes to chronic inflammation in the body.  Chronic inflammation is not only associated with physical health conditions such as heart disease but also with brain function such as depression and brain fog. 

A surge of adrenaline is not always a bad thing. In prehistoric times if you were being chased by a wild animal you got a surge of adrenaline to run away.  Adrenaline prepares you for vigorous muscular activity.  It raises your heart rate and turns off digestion so now you are prepared for fight or flight.  In modern society it is not the wild animal that raises our adrenaline but instead the constant demands we put on our body such as stress from our processed, nutrient deficient, highly processed diet.

   Symptoms of Imbalanced Blood Sugar (highs and lows)

  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Abnormal weight (too high or too low)
  • waking after 2-3 hours of sleep at night and cannot fall right back to sleep
  • Dizziness
  • headaches
  • irritability if meals are missed
  • nervous habits
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • phobias
  • violent outbursts
  • Unable to concentrate (ADD)
  • Anti-social behavior
  • Crying spells
  • Nightmares
  • confusion
  • tightness in chest
  • constant hunger
  • tremors
  • obsessive compulsive behavior
  • poor word finding ability
  • brain fog
  • blurred vision
  • insomnia
  • cravings for sugar, sweets, soda, coffee, alcohol, refined carbs
  • fainting
  • cannot tolerate bright lights or loud sounds
  • joint pain
  • no appetite at breakfast, may wakeup feeling nauseous, skip breakfast
  • highs and lows/mood swings within a one day period

 

What Causes Blood Sugar Dysregulation (in addition to diet)

fast food burger

  • Standard American diet
  • Inadequate physical activity
  • Irregular eating patterns
  • Skipping meals
  • Eating imbalanced meals (meals with mostly refined carbs and little in the way of quality protein/fats)
  • Refined carbs (bagels, pasta, muffins, cookies, pastries, donuts, bread, rolls, etc.)
  • Gluten intolerance and other food allergies/insensitivities
  • Excess caffeine intake
  • Alcoholism
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Thyroid disorder
  • Stress
  • Excess blood sugar lowering medication
  • Insulin resistance
  • Birth control pills
  • Fructose

Physical Symptoms of Blood Sugar Imbalance

  • Darkened skin along jawline or neck (this occurs due to elevated insulin levels present with elevated blood sugar)
  • Extra abdominal fat-this can include fat on back, chest, sides of waist and shoulder blade area
  • Base of neck fat pad-this fat tends to be very inflammatory
  • Enlarged breasts in men (elevated blood sugar in men stimulates activity of enzymes that shifts testosterone to estrogen which promotes growth of breast tissue)
  • Note: you may not always see these physical signs

How to Balance Blood Sugar

balanced meal

Some foods that will help to balance blood sugar include almonds (very filling), quinoa (great substitute for rice), millet (it has a combination of fiber and phytonutrients), hummus (protein packed), avocado (filled with healthy fat), lentils (good source of protein) and walnuts (make a great snack with omega 3’s).

Consume foods that release energy slowly into the blood stream such as vegetables, berries, and nuts and seeds.

 

Treatment of blood sugar imbalances involves a combination of dietary and lifestyle measures that minimize the shock to the pancreas and the adrenal glands and stabilize carbohydrate metabolism.  It is better to address it now because highs and lows in blood sugar will eventually lead to highs only (meaning diabetes and insulin resistance)

  • Decrease the consumption of simple carbs and sugars, caffeine, alcohol,
  • Eat three meals per day and at least 2 additional snacks. DO NOT SKIP MEALS (once you have balance blood sugar then you can try intermittent fasting)
  • Provide a balance at each meal/snack of protein, complex carbs, healthy fats and fiber.
  • Eat foods closer to the form they are found in nature.
  • This can look like:

o   a protein smoothie with avocado and greens included for breakfast (skip the fruit or add in berries or ½ a banana)

o   snack on handful of almonds mid-morning

o   for lunch have chicken salad on a bed of lettuce (if you must have bread, opt for one slice only) with a Bubbies pickle and a side salad

o   mid-day snack on raw vegetables and hummus

o   for dinner have salmon, roasted sweet potato and a vegetable such as asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower. 

o   AVOID packages foods, sugary foods, artificially sweetened foods and drinks, refined carbs such as pasta and bread, white rice, dried fruits such as banana or apple chips and processed corn products

 

 

  Beneficial Nutrients

  • Protein: it is used to mitigate the symptoms of hypoglycemia because it can keep sugar stable while keeping metabolism high. Protein takes longer to be digested than simple carbs and this will prevent sudden drops and spikes in blood sugar levels.  The glucose from digested protein (and from complex carbs is released into the bloodstream gradually which helps to regulate blood glucose levels.)  Consume 2-4 ounces of animal protein or 4-6 ounces of plant protein at each meal. For snacks reduce the amount to half.  Protein amounts at breakfast can be slightly increased.  High quality sources of protein include grass fed meats, wild caught fish, bean/legumes and raw dairy. 
  • Cobalamin (B12): along with other B vitamins helps to convert consumed foods into glucose that can be utilized by the body.  Thus, a B12 deficiency can result in low blood sugar levels. Eating foods rich in B12 will help to increase energy levels by converting food into glucose.  In supplement form take 300 mcg. 3 times daily on an empty stomach.  Best forms include methylcobalamin, adenosycobalamin and hydroxocobalamin.  Most B complexes do not contain enough B12 so it is best to take an additional B12 supplement. Food sources include grass fed beef, lamb, chicken, wild game, organ meats, grass fed milk, cottage cheese and fish/shellfish.
  • Niacin (B3): It is needed to produce insulin.  It helps to promote proper digestion by helping with the production of stomach acid used in the metabolism of carbs.  It can also be useful for treating depression and anxiety associated with hypoglycemia.  Niacin will cause a “flush” within minutes of ingesting.  Food sources include fish, meats, peanuts, whole grains mushrooms, seeds, eggs and almonds. Supplement form take 100 mg. 2 timers per day with meals.  Check with your doctor. before taking, as it can interact with some medications.

 

Bottom Line:

just because you do not have diabetes does not mean you are safe from blood sugar ups and downs.  Balance your blood sugar by eating protein and fat along with your complex carbs.  Don’t skip meals and opt for a diet of 80% whole foods and 20% of your processed, junk food.  If you are suffering from any mental health disorder, this is a simple step to take. 

 

References

  1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health
  2. http://www.alternativementalhealth.com/conquering-anxiety-depression-and-fatigue-without-drugs-the-role-of-hypoglycemia-2/
  3. http://diabeteslibrary.org
  4. http://www.askdrmaxwell.com/hypoglycemia-causes-and-natural-treatments/
  5. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/12/22/how-eating-sugar-can-cause-mental-illness.aspx
  6. Golan, R. (1995) Optimal Wellness. New York: Ballantine Books.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

Going Gluten Free

The Increase of Arsenic in a Gluten Free Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN, Herbalist

brown rice

 

You may opt to go gluten free for various health reasons.  Avoiding gluten means avoiding gluten containing grains which are wheat, rye, barley, and spelt (and oats if it does not say gluten free). 

Many people who avoid these grains substitute with gluten free products. While I don’t recommend this substitution due to the still high processed carb and sugar content, there are also other reasons to be concerned.

Are you Getting too Much Arsenic in your Diet by going Gluten Free?

wheat-with x thru it

 

Many gluten free products contain brown rice and or white rice.   It is not so bad if you consume brown/white rice from time to time but if you eat gluten free products daily, chances are, you are consuming a lot rice.

  Some of these products contain 90 times more arsenic than what is allowed in drinking water.  Even low levels of arsenic can contribute to headaches, fatigue, brain fog, digestive issues respiratory illness and more.  Arsenic is found in brown rice at higher concentrations than what is found in white rice. Organic rice will contain arsenic too. 

Rice is grown in flooded fields and it absorbs more arsenic from the environment than any other crop.  Arsenic is a chemical element found naturally in our environment.  It is present in our soil, water and air.  Organic arsenic is used in pesticides and fertilizers.  When used this way, the arsenic can stay in the soil for years after crops are harvested.  For example, much of the rice harvested in the US is grown on former cotton fields where farmers used arsenic based pesticides to control weevils. 

Who Should Watch Their Arsenic Intake

Arsenic can accumulate in your hair, skin, nails and even in your internal organs. 

  • Pregnant women
  • Children and infants
  • People who eat a lot of rice
  • People who are on a gluten free diet

Symptoms of Arsenic Toxicity

(from low level, long term exposure (i.e.: gluten free diet))

This is not an exhaustive list but some of the more common/frequent symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Higher rates of skin, bladder and lung cancer
  • Increase in heart disease
  • Skin and nail changes
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • headaches

How to Know if You Have High Arsenic Levels

Just because you are on a gluten free diet doesn’t mean you require testing.  This should be determined on an individual basis and is between you and your health care provider. 

On average, there is 10-20 milligrams of arsenic in the average human body.  Exceeding these levels can contribute to health problems.

  • Arsenic 24- hour urine test: this is the preferred test
  • Raid Urine Spot Test: this test is not as accurate
  • Blood Test: this can be used in conjunction with the 24-hour test and do monitor levels
  • Hair Mineral Analysis: You can request this test on your own and have your holistic nutritionist or ND go over the results with you.

How to Reduce Arsenic in Your Diet

 

  • Rice, wine and fruit juices can contain higher arsenic amounts than other foods
  • Organic foods do not necessarily contain less since arsenic is found in the soil
  • Talk to your doctor about giving rice cereal to your infant: consider other foods as your baby’s first food. Babies should have no more than one serving of rice cereal per day.
  • Limit the amount of gluten free products you consume such as gf pizza, bread, pasta and so forth.
  • Alternate your grains: Learn how to cook and bake using other grains such as millet, teff and quinoa
  • Brown rice contains 30-80% more arsenic than white rice. This is because it still contains the bran and germ portion of the kernel which is where most of the arsenic concentrates. 
  • If you do use brown rice opt for basmati as it will contain less arsenic. For white rice, opt for basmati as well, to reduce exposure.
  • Rinse your rice before use. This can reduce 25-30% of the arsenic content.

Bottom Line

Eat a well-balanced diet. You don’t have to eliminate rice products entirely from your diet but instead mix it up with other grains and fruits and vegetables. For instance, if you always eat your burger and sandwich on a gluten free bun, try a lettuce wrap or paleo coconut wraps.  Instead of having rice as a side dish, have quinoa, cauliflower rice, teff or millet.  Instead of brown rice pasta try lentil or quinoa pasta.  There are many options!

Research shows that while chelation may be good to remove heavy metals it may not be as effective to remove arsenic.  Instead a dietary protocol including  mineral supplementation can help to remove arsenic.  Depending on your level of toxicity, it may take up to 2 years to reduce toxic levels. 

 

Recipes

Here are some a couple gluten free recipes that do not contain brown rice/Visit my blog page for many more recipes

 

 

Sources

http://theceliacmd.com/2015/03/arsenic-in-rice-the-gluten-free-diet-facts-and-tips/

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/11/arsenic-in-your-food/index.htm

http://drlwislon.com/articles/ARSENIC.htm

Haas, E.& Levin, B. (2006) Staying Healthy with Nutrition.  CA: Celestial Arts

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

 

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7 Reasons to Add this Booster Food into your Diet: Nutritional Yeast

Why You Should Add this Booster Food to your Daily Meals: Nutritional Yeast

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, BCHN®, Herbalist

Nutritional Yeast: What is it?

nutritional yeast in bowl

 

It is not a plant nor animal food but rather a fungus like mushrooms.  It is a good addition to a vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free and dairy free diet. 

I have Candida, I am avoiding foods that contain yeast, can I eat nutritional yeast?

The yeast you find in breads and beer is a live and active yeast.  Nutritional yeast comes in a dried flake form and is not an active yeast.  This means you cannot use it to make bread or beer but more importantly it will not lead to overgrowth of yeast/candida in the body.  Therefore, because it has been deactivated it cannot cause or contribute to candida. You may read otherwise on the web but nutritional yeast is safe to it. 

What causes overgrowth of candida (healthy people will always have some candida) is a diet high in sugary/processed foods and drinks, antibiotic use and birth control pills to name a few root causes.  To learn more about what candida is, what are more causes, symptoms and more importantly, how to address it read this article

What are the Benefits of Adding this Food into my Diet?

  • Beta Glucan fibers found in nutritional yeast help to maintain the body’s defense against pathogens (this was found in a study in which participants consumed a spoonful daily)
  • Another study in which participants consumed one half a spoonful found that mood states improved and they had significant boost in feelings of vigor.
  • It is a great addition to vegan and vegetarian diets due to its protein and B vitamin content. It also has a cheesy taste so many use it to replace cheese in their diet. 
  • It contains all nine essential amino acids.
  • It is a rich source of 14 minerals and 17 vitamins
  • It has antiviral and antibacterial properties
  • It may be useful for candida, chronic acne, diarrhea, and immune system support.
  • Athletes use it for an energy boost

How Do I use it in My Recipes?

zucchini pasta tomato nutrtional yeast

You can add nutritional yeast to many dishes that you make.  Add it at the end to hot and cooked dishes as high temperatures may destroy the nutritional benefits of the yeast.  For instance, add some to your cooked chicken curry dish or to your favorite pasta sauce. 

  • Sprinkle it on your stove topped cooked popcorn
  • Add it into hummus, pesto, pasta sauces and cold soups
  • Sprinkle onto your salads and cooked vegetables
  • Use it as you would use grated cheese
  • Add to bean and rice or whole grain dishes.

Recipes with Nutritional Yeast

Will my local Grocery Store Carry Nutritional Yeast?

  • Your local traditional grocery store may not but many are adding healthier options. For instance, many Wal Marts and King Soopers now contain nutritional yeast products. Whole Foods and other local natural grocery stores and vitamin shops should carry nutritional yeast. 
  • Otherwise order online from www.thrivemarket.com, amazon or many other healthy whole foods or vitamin websites.
  • Because I only use a small amount per day I store mine in a glass jar in the fridge to maintain freshness. Otherwise, store in your pantry or cupboard. It should keep for up to 2 years. 

What You Need to Know

  • Those with Gout may want to keep the amount to ½ a teaspoon per day due to its purine content
  • You may have heard that some nutritional yeast products contain lead. These brands have no detectable lead in them-Bob’s Red Mill, NOW, Bragg’s, Dr. Fuhrman, and Red Star.  However, no matter what the brand, it is safe to consume 2 tablespoons per day. 
  • Some nutritional yeast products contain B12 while others do not. Read the label. If you are a vegan or vegetarian and avoid meats, it is still best to supplement with B12 in a methylated form. It is a myth that B12 is naturally found in nutritional yeast-it must be added in. 
  • It does NOT contain MSG as you may hear this rumor. Yeast is a natural source of the umami flavor or natural glutamic acid.  The glutamic acid is bound to other amino acids. The glutamic acid that is MSG is not bound.  When you consume glutamic acid from real foods, your body controls how much is absorbed.  Excess glutamic acid is passed off as waste not stored in your body.  MSG that is added to fast food and processed foods is an excitotoxin that overexcites your cells. 

 

Sources

http://nutritionfacts.org/2017/02/14/benefits-of-nutritional-yeast-to-prevent-the-common-cold/?

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/04/04/nutritional-yeast-aspx

Bauman, E. & Friedlander, J. (2014) Foundations in Nutrition.  CA: Bauman College

Wood, R. (2010) The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Books

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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10 Reasons Why you Should Add this Grain (Seed) into your Diet

Millet:  10 Reasons to Add this “Grain” to your Diet

By Karen Brennan, MSW, NC, Herbalist, BCHN ®

millet grain

 

What is Millet?

It is a gluten free grain that is tiny in size and round and may be white, gray, yellow or red.  Technically millet is a seed not a grain but it is categorized with grains from a culinary perspective.  It is thought to have originated in North Africa and has been consumed since prehistoric times. 

What are the Benefits to Eating Millet?

  • Heart protective: The magnesium and fiber content is what makes this such as heart healthy grain. Since it also contains potassium it can aid in reducing high blood pressure. 
  • Lowers your cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes risk: Adding WHOLE grains (not processed grains) such as millet into your diet has been shown to lower your risk for certain cancers and heart disease and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Fiber content: Millet contains insoluble fiber which can help prevent gallstones. The fiber content is also protective against breast cancer.  Eating fiber rich grains also lowers the incidence of colon cancer.  Fiber in millet is ideal for lowering your LDL (your “bad” cholesterol).
  • Protective against childhood asthma: This is also due to the magnesium content. Studies have shown that children consuming a diet of whole grains (and fish) have lower incidence of asthma. 
  • Nutrient Dense: Millet is a good source of protein, copper, manganese, phosphorus, B vitamins and magnesium. One cup of cooked millet contains 6 protein grams, 41 carb grams 2.26 fiber grams, 1.74 fat grams and 207 calories. Of all the cereal grains, millet has the richest amino acid profile and the highest iron content. 
  • The magnesium content is also beneficial for migraines and high blood pressure
  • Contains plant lignans: These are converted by healthy gut flora in our intestines into mammalian lignans which is thought to protect against breast cancer and other hormone related cancers and heart disease.  
  • Can improve digestive health: Because of its fiber content, millet can aid with elimination and constipation as well as excess gas, bloating and cramping. It is the easiest of all the grains to digest due to its high alkaline ash content. 
  • Can aid with detoxification: Millet is rich in antioxidants which are beneficial in neutralizing free radicals.
  • Helps to fight fatigue: It is considered among the top foods to eat to fight fatigue due to its B vitamin, iron and macro nutrient content.

 

 

How Do I Cook with Millet?

Basic cooking method

  • Before you use your millet grain you should rinse it under running water to remove any remaining left over dirt and debris.
  • After rinsing, you can cook it as one part millet to two parts liquid such as water or broth. After it boils, reduce the heat to low and cover and simmer for roughly 25 minutes.  The texture cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want a creamier millet, then stir it frequently and add a little more water to it every now and then. 
  • If you want a nuttier flavor, then you can roast the grains prior to boiling. Place the grains in a dry skillet over medium heat and stir frequently. When the millet has a golden color then remove from the skillet and add to the water. 

Simple Serving Suggestions

  • Use as you would quinoa to make a grain/veggie/protein bowl. Add raw or cooked vegetables (use left- over veggies from last night’s dinner) and add a protein such as tempeh, chicken or fish.  Toss it with a homemade dressing and you have a simple meal to take to work for lunch!
  • Use with your meal instead of potatoes or rice as your starch
  • Use ground millet in bread and muffin recipes
  • Add cooked millet to your soups
  • Combine cooked millet with chopped vegetables, GF bread crumbs, eggs and seasonings. Form into patties and bake at 350 degrees F. until done. 

Buying and Storing your Millet

millet stalks

  • When not using your millet, store it in your pantry, in a cool and dark place and it will keep for several months.
  • You can also store it in your refrigerator. (I store mine in a mason jar in the fridge)
  • If your millet has a harsh aftertaste, this means it is rancid and you should discard it.
  • It’s shelf life is not as stable as some other grains so do not purchase this one in bulk.
  • I recommend purchasing your millet from small companies. In CO you can purchase your millet from CJ Milling www.cjmilling.com.  If you don’t have a local source then opt to purchase millet from the refrigerator section of your natural grocery store.

How Do I use Millet Flour?

  • Millet flour has a distinct sweet flavor. Purchase in small amounts since it can turn bitter rapidly. If you purchase from a small local company, ask how fresh the flour is.   You can also grind your own millet into flour in a high- power blender.  Store the flour in the freezer to maintain freshness. 

What Else Should I know about Millet?

  • Millet contains goitrogen, which is a substance that can interfere with thyroid hormone manufacture. Thus, if you have a thyroid issue, just don’t eat millet every day. But still feel free to consume it in moderation.
  • Although it is a gluten free grain/seed, those with celiac disease should start off with a small amount to see if they tolerate it. This is because millet does contain prolamines that are similar to the alpha-gliadin of wheat.  That being said, millet is usually well tolerated by those with celiac disease. 
  • Millet is a GMO free grain and is not sprayed according to  Jennifer at CJ Milling in CO.  She stated that millet is a very safe grain to grow even conventionally since it is not a GMO nor sprayed crop.  You may see organic millet in your store-this is where you save your money and buy this grain/seed non organic. 

 

 

Sources

Murray, M. (2005) The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.  NY: Atria Books

Rogers, J. (1991) The Healing Foods Cookbook.  PA: Rodale Press.

Wood, R. (2010)  The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia.  NY: Penguin Press

http://www.Whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=53

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need.  Call today at 303-522-0381

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today!

 

 

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Adaptogenic Herbs for Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

 

Adaptogens for a Stress, Anxiety, Depression, Fatigue and Immune Support

ginkgo-flower-picture

What are Adaptogens

Adaptogenic herbs are herbs that allow the body to adjust to stress.  It essentially helps you resist the stress, whether it be physical or a biological response. For example, adaptogens can be useful for those coping with daily work stress, anxiety or depression, stress from training/long bouts of exercise or the stress placed on the body during injury, healing and surgery. 

They can enhance the body’s natural response, and help balance the body.  Some of these herbs can have a strengthening effect on the adrenal glands.  This is important because the herb can have the action of relieving stress. 

These herbs can affect the brain, nerves, endocrine glands, and the immune system by helping re-regulate, normalize and enhance function.  There are multiple theories as to what is occurring and even scientists are unsure of how these substances work.

Adaptogenic Herbs  for Stress and Mood Support

As you will see from the list below, you can kill two birds or more with one herb meaning you may be able to choose one herb to address your depression, fatigue and immune system.  While medications often have one purpose, herbs can be used for many different conditions and ailments. 

There are many supportive Adaptogenic herbs; this is a short list of some of the more well-known herbs.  For anxiety and depression, a class of herbs called nervines can also be very useful. 

Check with your doctor prior to adding in any herbs to your regimen as herbs can interact with medications. 

What You Should Know About Herbs Before You Make a Purchase

tincutre bottles

Always start with one herb at a time.  It is best to do this rather than buy a blend.  Often the blends have lower doses of each herb or have extra ingredients you may not need.  Also, if you have a reaction to the product you won’t know which herb it was.  Start low and slow.  Work up to the amounts mentioned. 

Adaptogens are best used for 12 weeks and then take a 2-week break or switch to a different adaptogen, as your body can adapt to the herb over time, thus reducing its effectiveness for you.  We all react differently to herbs so it may take a few tries to find the right herb for you and your health concern. 

Purchase a reliable product.  Many cheaper or store brand herbal products have been found to not contain the amount stated on the label and in other instances they do not contain the correct parts of the herb. For instance, if you are going to use Rhodiola, you want a product that uses the root, not other plant parts. Brands that I like include Gaia herbs, Herb Pharm, and Bayan Botanicals.  I’m sure there are other high quality brands but it pays to do some research first.  The dropper on a one ounce tincture bottle is equal to 30 drops.  This way you don’t have to constantly count drops!

Don’t rely on just herbs. If your body is under a great deal of stress, support the body with whole nutrient dense foods as well.  While an herb can do wonders, it needs the support of a nutrient rich diet too. 

All the herbs or supplements in the world won’t help you if you continue to “eat like crap”. 

Adaptogens for Depression

Since herbs can have a direct effect on the nervous system they can enhance mood

  • Asian ginseng root (less frequently leaf): This is one of the most studied herbs in the world. It is considered one of the most stimulating herbs.  For this reason, it makes a great herb for those who are exhausted.  Use it for insomnia, fatigue and depression.  Tincture: take 20-40 drops up to 3x per day.  Capsule: powdered herb take 2 400-500 mg. caps 2-3x per day. For powdered extract take one capsule of 400-500 mg. 2 times per day.  Start out with a lower dose and work up to the 400-500 milligram dose as for some people who have anxiety or insomnia this herb may be too stimulating.  Speak with your doctor first if you are taking warfarin, MAOI antidepressants, or blood sugar medications. 
  • Holy basil plant (Tulsi): Use of holy basil can prevent increased corticosteroid levels that indicate elevated stress levels. It can be used as a “natural antidepressant” for situational depression such as coping with a traumatic event such as death of a loved one.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3 times per day.  Tea: add 1 tsp. of dried leaf to 8 oz. of hot water. Let it steep for 5-10 minutes. For therapeutic benefits, drink the tea up to 3 times per day. 
  • Rhodiola root: This herb is known to enhance energy, improve alertness, reduce fatigue and improve depression. It can be a good herb to use also for ADHD and for someone who is recovering from a head injury.  It can support someone who has a depleted immune system due to chemotherapy, radiation or from excessive physical training.  It can be useful for someone suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome.  Tincture: 40-60 drops 3x per day.  Avoid Rhodiola if you have bipolar, or are paranoid.  From some it can cause insomnia. 

Adaptogens For Anxiety

Adaptogenic herbs, because of their effect on the nervous system, can relive stress and anxiety

  • Ashwagandha root: This is one of my personal favorite herbs. This is a calming adaptogen and is also useful for stimulating the thyroid gland. It is useful for anxiety, fatigue and stress induced insomnia.  Avoid this herb if you are sensitive to nightshade plants as this herb is in the nightshade family.  Do not use it if you have hyperthyroidism.  It can increase the effects of barbiturates. Tincture take 30 drops 3-4 times per day, as capsule take 400-500 mg. twice a day. 
  • Schisandra (fruit and seed): This herb is calming and can aid in stress induced asthma or stressed induced palpitations. . It can provide a feeling of alertness without the stimulating effects that you would get from caffeine.    It also supports the immune system. (People who suffer from acute and chronic stress can have a weakened immune system).  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3-4 times per day.  Capsules: 1-2 400-500 mg caps, 2-3 times per day. Do not take if using barbiturates. 

For Fatigue

 

  • American ginseng (root and less often leaf): This can be useful for those with mild to moderate adrenal fatigue. It can also be useful to reduce symptoms of jet lag. Tincture: 60-100 drops 3 times per day. Capsule: 2, 500 mg. caps 2 times per day.  Do not use if taking warfarin.
  • Ashwagandha: see information under anxiety
  • Asian ginseng: see information under depression
  • Eleuthero root and stem bark: This is a mild herb and thus good for the young and the old. It is unlikely that it will cause overstimulation and this is an herb that can be taken long term.  It strengthens the immune system and provides stamina.  You can use it when under a great deal of stress at work. It can help improve alertness and cognitive function when dealing with work related stress.  Tincture: 60-100 drops 3-4 times per day.  Do not use with cardiac medications
  • Shatavari root: this is a good herb to try for fatigue, chronic fatigue syndrome, and to support the immune system. It is also considered a nutritive tonic.  It is also a diuretic.  Tincture: 40-80 drops 3 times per day.  Avoid if you have diarrhea and bloating. 

For Immune support

Stress weakens our immune system.  Adaptogenic herbs can help strengthen the immune system and improve the immune response.

  • Eleuthero: see information under fatigue
  • Holy basil: see information under depression
  • Rhodiola: see information under depression
  • Shatavari: see information under fatigue
  • Schisandra: see information under anxiety

 

Bottom Line

Choose an herb that can address more than one issue you are having.  Start out with one herb only and start out low and slow. Seek guidance from your holistic health professional or doctor before adding in herbs to your regimen.  When adding in herbs, give it time.  Support the body with a whole foods diet too. 

Sources

Balch, P. ( 2012)   Prescription for Herbal Healing.  2nd Edition.  NY: Avery Publishing

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine.  Oregon: Herbal Reads

Gaby, A.(2006) The Natural Pharmacy. Revised and updated 3rd edition.  NY: Three Rivers Press

Hoffman, D. Medical Herbalism. (2003) The science and practice of herbal medicine.  VT: Healing Arts   

   Press.

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine.  CA: Basic Health Publications

Moore, M. (1996) Herbal Tinctures in Clinical Practice.  3rd Edition.   AZ: SW School of botanical Medicine

Skenderi, G. (2003) Herbal Vade Mecum. NJ: Herbacy Press

Winston, D. & Maimes, S.(2007) Adaptogens: Herbs for Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief.  VT: Healing

   Arts Press.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition and Herbalist is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

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Detox Salad

Detox Salad

detox-salad-pic

 

While I am not a huge fan of detox diets, this is a salad that can be added into your meals and contains vegetables and herbs that aid in detoxing the body.  This salad can be used as a side dish and or you can add some protein to it, maybe some avocado slices, etc. and take it to work for lunch the next day. 

Ingredients

  • 1 small head broccoli
  • ½ head cauliflower
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • ½ a bunch parsley
  • ½ a bunch cilantro
  • 1/8 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/8 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 T. nutritional yeast
  • Ratio: 3 T. EVOO and 1 T. lemon juice
  • s/p to taste

Directions

  1. Place the broccoli florets into food processor and process into small pieces. Remove and place in large bowl
  2. Next add in the cauliflower and process until very small pieces and then add to bowl with broccoli.
  3. Next add in the carrots the food processor and then add to the bowl with broccoli and cauliflower
  4. Chop up the parsley and cilantro and add to the bowl. Add in the yeast
  5. In a separate bowl, blend the EVOO and lemon juice. Add s/p to taste. Pour over broccoli blend and mix in.  Depending on how much broccoli blend you have and your taste preference, you may need to increase the amount of the dressing. 
  6. Note: you can adjust this recipe to your taste. Next time try basil and garlic or sliced almonds. 

Cilantro: this herb is great for cleansing.  It contains compounds called flavonoids. These antioxidants bind to heavy metals and aid their removal from the body via urine. These compounds can also help fight inflammation caused by toxic overload.

Cauliflower and broccoli: these foods contain organosulfur compounds, essentially a fancy way of saying they contain sulfur.  Sulfur rich foods can reduce inflammation, and bind to and aid in the excretion of heavy metals. They also can protect the liver from toxins.  I bet you can’t say that about your fast food burger!

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition, is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit   www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

PMS Symptoms: There is an Herb for that!

PMS Symptoms Every Month?  There is an herb for that!

herbal-tea

 

I originally provided this article for a reporter wanting information on supplements and holistic remedies for PMS symptoms.  However, she did not use the information I provided as she wanted it from an OBGYN. 

I’m not sure what kind of information those readers are going to receive since a traditional doctor typically knows very little, if any, information on herbs and supplements for hormonal issues (or for many other health issues for that matter). In my personal experience the only solution offered was birth control and synthetic hormones.

 It’s ironic that since I am not a doctor I cannot give any medical advice (obviously) but a doctor who has typically zero training in herbs and supplements (and nutrition) can give all the information they want on these topics.  Sadly, they often provide incorrect information. 

Herbal Solutions for your PMS

Start with one herb at a time to see how your body responds (we all respond to herbs differently).  Start with the PMS symptom that is giving you the greatest difficulty and address that one first. 

There are other herbal options for PMS but this list is a great place to start and you should be able to find most of these in your local health food store.  It is best if you avoid store brands from generic chain stores as research has shown that these products often do not contain what they claim to contain. 

To balance hormones and prevent mood swings:

woman-holding-face-in-hands

  • Shatavari root/2 droppers 2-3 times per day. This herb is considered an adaptogen.
  • Kudzu root: also, to balance hormones. Good for PMS acne and mood swings. Take 2 droppers 2-3 times per day
  • Maca root: hormone balancer and helpful for menopausal symptoms. Use one heaping teaspoon and up to one tablespoon 1-3 timed daily. You can add this to your morning smoothie. 

Hormonal Acne:

woman-with-acne

  • Burdock root: start slow with this herb! Start with one dropper and don’t double dose until 4-7 days later. Doing so too soon may increase your acne!
  • Dandelion root: this is a gentle liver stimulant. Take 1-2 caps 2 times per day.

Heavy Bleeding

stinging-nettle-leaf

  • Shepherds purse: 1 dropper 1-3 times per day or
  • Yarrow leaf or nettle leaf (1 dropper 4-6 times per day)

Bloating

dandelions

  • Dandelion leaf is the “go to” herb for in this case. Use one dropper 1-3 times per day

Cramping

 

  • Cramp bark: 1 dropper 3-6 times per day
  • Add in magnesium supplementation and dark leafy greens as cramps may be caused by magnesium deficiency.

Don’t forget!

Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library

Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year!  I will show you how. 

RSVP to trufoodsnutrition@yahoo.com as space is limited.

Sources

Balch, P.  (2012) Prescription for Herbal Healing, 2nd Edition. NY: Avery

Blankenship.V.  (2016) Holistic Healing for Women’s Health.  Sage Herbal Foundations Program. Colorado Springs, CO. 

Cech, R. (2016) Making Plant Medicine. Oregon: Herbal Reads

Hoffman, D. (2003) Medical Herbalism. VT: Healing Arts Press

Mars, B. (2007) The Desktop Guide to Herbal Medicine. CA: Basic Health Publications

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like her fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page

“New Year. New You” 12 Tips to Stick with and Achieve your Health Goals this Year

New Year. A New You!

12 Tips for you to Achieve Your Health Goals Finally!

By Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, BCHN, Herbalist

person sunset background

 

“This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds, (or start going to the gym, or improve my blood work numbers, etc.…)

Sound Familiar?  

Why do we stick with it for only a few months, only to go back to our old ways?

 

Bottom Line: We do too much, too fast and go about it haphazardly.  We place a great deal of stress and burden on ourselves to change and to do it right NOW!  Then when you slip a little, say miss a day at the gym, you feel defeated and soon one day “off your diet” turns into one week, then one month….

 

 

Change takes time.  You didn’t get to your health issues overnight.  Be patient. 

Here are 12 tips (one for each month) to get you on track to a healthier lifestyle.  Adding in these tips, one at a time, will make them sustainable and they will become part of your routine.  These basic tips are effective for anyone looking to lose weight, balance blood sugar, improve blood work scores, gain energy, improve sleep and much more. 

 

 

Focus on only one step every 2 to 4 weeks.  Don’t go out of order. They are in this order for a reason. Don’t move on to the next step if you are still adjusting to the one prior to it.   

 

1. Consume 16 ounces of Water First Thing in the Morning:

water

This is very effective for weight loss, increased energy and removing waste from the body.  Do this before you eat.  Make it a habit just like brushing your teeth in the morning.  Many of us are walking around in a dehydrated state and don’t even know it. 

 

2. Add in General Supplementation:

IMG_1586

Diet is important but unfortunately our soil is not a mineral rich as it was 70 years ago; the foods you eat today do not contain the same number of vitamins and minerals that it did pre-WWII era.  Add in at the very least, quality multivitamin, magnesium supplement (I like Natural Calm powder to add to water)

 

3. Focus on WHERE you Eat:

2-people-eating

Many don’t think this is a big deal but it really is a huge deal!  I cannot stress this enough!  Where do you eat? In the car, in front of the TV, at your desk at work, in front of the fridge, while walking, while on the phone or computer? 

 

 

Focus on eating only when sitting down at a table.  And not while working.  Studies show that those who take 20-30 minutes to eat lunch while not working were more productive than those who thought they could get more done if they ate and worked at the same time.  Have you ever been staring at your computer, a meal by your side and then look over and realize the food is gone and wonder who ate your food? You didn’t even realize you consumed it, let alone enjoy your meal.  If you want to improve your health you need to start paying attention to this step!!

 

 4. Add in Fermented Foods:

sauerkraut

 

Save your money and skip the probiotic supplement and instead add in a variety of fermented foods and drinks such as plain goat milk kefir, kombucha, fermented sauerkraut and other fermented vegetables, miso (fermented soy) and tempeh.  Add in one serving per day.

 

 If you have any digestive or bowel issues you may have to start very slow and work your way up to a serving. Some people with a compromised digestive system can only handle a few bites of fermented vegetables per day the first few weeks until their gut health improves. 

 

The benefits of fermented foods is lengthy.  For now, just know that it can aid in weight loss, support your immune health and assist with mood, focus and attention issues and much more. 

 

 5. Focus on Chewing:

This pertains to number 3 as well. Now that you are not eating mindlessly while doing other tasks, now is the time to focus on slow eating.  At first count every now and then how many times you chew each bite of food and look at the time and see how long it takes you to eat a meal. 

 

Are you chewing 3-5 times per bite? Are you inhaling your food?  Are you done eating before everyone else?  Do you feel bloating after every meal or experience indigestion after a meal? Then it’s time to slow down and chew each bite 10-20 times.

 

 It sounds like a lot but the breakdown of each bite of food is important for digestion and assimilation of needed nutrients. It also gives your body time to send the signal to your brain to stop eating and that you are full.  Eating slowly can aid with weight loss, improve digestion, relieve you of gas and bloating and slow down the process of sugar and carbs entering the blood stream. 

 

 6. Swap out Foods that Contain Artificial Sugar:

soda-juice-grocery-aisle

 

Just because you may not drink diet soda, does not mean you do not consume artificial sweetener.  Many products such as frozen meals, protein powders, weight loss products, low fat products, protein bars, yogurt, bottled juice and tea beverages contain artificial sugars (sometime more than one). It is hidden in many places. 

 

Once you read labels you will be shocked to find out how many products contain this fake product.  I get asked often “If I had to choose between sugar and fake sugar which is the best choice?”  While I do not like either in processed form, I would have to say go for the real sugar.  Fake sugar is now linked to diabetes, overeating of more processed carbs and sugary foods and it disrupts the gut microbiome.

 

Swap out diet soda for seltzer water with lemon, the low-calorie yogurt for plain Greek yogurt or plain goat milk yogurt, swap out the protein bar with a different protein bar (there are so many to choose from), and swap out frozen meals for crock pot meals.

 

 7. Think in Colors:

vegetables-fall

 

If you have young children, you can get them involved and make this a fun game.  Pick a color to focus on each day or each week. For instance, focus on eating red fruits, vegetables and spices this day or week.  This could look like sweet potato, red bell peppers, curry powder, cumin powder, paprika, strawberries, pomegranates, radish, apples, red potatoes, tomatoes and so forth.  Have fun with it. 

 

The more color you get into your diet, the better this is for your health.  Each color contains different phytonutrients that are beneficial for your health.  So, if you eat just broccoli and green beans all the time you are missing out of many other plant nutrients by avoiding the rest of the rainbow. 

 

 8. Eat more Protein, less Carbs for Breakfast:

eggs

If you eat a bagel on the run, a muffin at the coffee shop, a bowl of cereal or just a piece of fruit, you are setting yourself up for low blood sugar, cravings, irritability and fatigue for the rest of the day.  Unless you are heading out for a long bout of cardio you don’t need all those carbs in the morning.  Start your day with a moderate amount of protein (i.e.: 2-3 eggs or scoop of protein powder in your green smoothie), add in some quality fats such as a few slices of avocado or handful of nuts/seeds and a small number of carbs such as one half an apple.  

9. Bring lunch to Work Three Times each week:

Do you and your co-workers decide where to order from each day for lunch?  Do you eat out more than 4 times per week?  Besides saving money, you will do your body good to prepare a meal from home and bring to work. Already bring lunch 3 days per week?  Then shoot for five!  This doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be a “Mason Jar Meal”, leftovers, quinoa bowl, salad with protein, etc.

By doing so you will eliminate processed carbs, poor quality proteins and unhealthy fats from your diet on these days.  Trust me, your body will thank you!

 

 10. Make it a Rule: Vegetables or Salad at every Dinner:

salad

While it would be great if we could eat vegetables at every meal and snack, I realize this is not very practical for most. 

 

Make it a goal that at every dinner you have a dark leafy green salad and/or several vegetables.  For instance, if it’s a salad, get creative and see how many different vegetables you can include in it.  For vegetables, roast a medley instead of just one.  

 

 11. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Gluten:

 

While whole grain wheat per se I do not think is evil, what is causing some problems today is the processed wheat and the amount that we consume.  In the past, we did not consume wheat at every meal and snack and it was not refined.

 

Refined grain is stripped of its nutrients, protein and fiber, so all you are left with is the starchy portion which contributes to disrupted blood sugar, cravings, obesity and systemic inflammation. 

 

Ezekiel bread is better because it is not as processed but even this should be limited to one to two pieces per day.  So, the problem is not whole grains (unless you have celiac disease, gluten allergy or gluten sensitivity), the problem is the bread, pasta, bagels, muffins, cereals, etc.… made from refined processed gluten/wheat. 

 

Swap it out for whole grains or alternative flours such as teff, millet, quinoa, basmati white rice, coconut flour, almond flour, tiger nut flour and cassava flour. 

 

 12. One Day Each Week Omit Processed Dairy

 

Pasteurized dairy is typically from cows fed a GMO diet, cows that are given growth hormones and antibiotics.  If you have health issues such as GERD, mood issues, weight issues, bowel issues and so forth, you may want to consider swapping out your milk, yogurt and cheese for fermented dairy such as kefir, raw, organic cheese and goat milk products as some tolerate goat’s milk better than cow’s milk. 

 

For some they don’t notice a difference until they swap out all the dairy products for 2 to 4 weeks.  This is up to you and is based on your health issues and whether you have a casein allergy or are lactose intolerant. 

 

You can try nut milks and coconut milk and coconut yogurt as substitutes as well

 

 Evaluate and see how far you have come in 12 months!

Keep a log and write each one at the beginning of each month on your calendar.  In 12 months see how far you have come.    Congrats!

Don’t forget!

Jan 15th, Sunday 2-3:30 @ Castle Rock, CO Philip S. Miller Library

Start the new year off right and sustain your goals this year!  I will show you how. 

RSVP to trufoodsnutrition@yahoo.com as space is limited.

 

 

If you are sick and tired of feeling sick, tired, fatigued, depressed, anxious and more and have given up hope then Karen’s simple, effective, individualized and sustainable approach may be what you need. 

Karen Brennan, MSW, CNC, Board Certified in Holistic Nutrition (candidate) is the author of Tru Foods Depression Free Nutrition Guide; How Food Supplements and herbs can be used to lift your mood and owner of Tru Foods Nutrition Services, LLC. 

For more information visit her site at  www.trufoodsnutrition.com

Get her Food Swap Guide here to get started on your health journey today! Want more information, then like here fb page here

As a nutrition professional, Karen does not treat, cure nor diagnose. This information is for educational purposes only.

Share this:Share on YummlyShare on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on VKShare on RedditEmail this to someonePrint this page