Root causes of eczema

Are you experiencing eczema, or you know someone who is? Do you know how intimately connected the microbiome is to eczema and how you can begin to look at the root causes of eczema instead of just treating the symptoms?

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What is eczema?

If you have it, you know it all too well, but essentially, it’s atopic dermatitis. It can contribute to dry, itchy, red, bumpy, and scaly skin patches.

What causes eczema?

1. Altered microbiome

Research shows that there is a link with an altered microbiome in infancy that contributes to eczema. This can be dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, as well as leaky gut, i.e., intestinal permeability, that can contribute to this inflammatory condition.

What are some things that could cause an altered microbiome early on? Were you born via C-section or vaginally, breastfed or bottle-fed? Now, of course, those things you can’t change, but you want to know if that contributed to an altered microbiome right from the beginning. How was your mother’s overall microbiome? Were you exposed to antibiotics early on? When you were introduced to complementary foods? Also, did you have any other illnesses, antibiotics, or medications that could have contributed to that early on in life?

2. Food allergies

About 30 percent of children with eczema have food allergies. This could be things like soy, eggs, cow’s milk, nuts, shellfish, or gluten — all of these things can potentially be food allergies. It’s worth testing for those to really understand if that could be a root cause.

3. Nutrient deficiencies

Another root cause is nutrient deficiencies or insufficiencies. Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, zinc, vitamins A, B, C, D, and E can contribute to eczema.

4. Other conditions

Other conditions, such as hyperthyroidism, celiac disease, and secondary infections, can be associated conditions. It’s worth exploring if there’s something else other than leaky gut and nutrient deficiencies that are contributing to this inflammatory condition.

What are the other triggers of dry skin?

We can think about things like low humidity, UV radiation, chlorine, detergents, and other skin products that might be irritants. There are a lot of other things that could contribute. Let’s not forget emotional stress, too!

Emotional stress is one of the biggest inflammatory drivers. In working with patients, although I’m still trying to get to the root cause of what might be happening in their gut and microbiome, I am also absolutely addressing the stress component, which tends to exacerbate symptoms.

In summary, if you or someone you know is experiencing eczema, instead of focusing on topical solutions, it is imperative that you really begin to dive into the root cause(s).

If this is you or it’s somebody you know and love, make sure that you share this information with them. Make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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How to optimize your Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a critical vitamin and hormone that is essential for preventing many chronic conditions and improving overall immune health.

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What is vitamin D?

Vitamin D is considered a hormone. After we are exposed to sunlight, our bodies synthesize Vitamin D and then activate it in the liver and the kidneys. The activated form of Vitamin D helps to regulate the metabolism of calcium.

Deficiencies in Vitamin D can contribute to many chronic conditions such as autoimmune disease, osteoporosis, preeclampsia, and muscle and joint issues. More recently, research is showing that low Vitamin D levels are associated with poor recovery from COVID-19.  Vitamin D is very essential, and it is extremely overlooked in our normal blood work panels; thus, we should have our Vitamin D levels checked yearly.

How to optimize your vitamin D

What is the first thing that you can do?

1. Have your levels checked

You want to either ask your medical provider, functional medicine provider, or registered dietitian who could direct you appropriately to getting your levels checked. Then, you want to determine where your serum Vitamin D levels fall:

  • If you’re severely deficient, your level will be under 10 ng/mL.
  • If you are deficient, you are under 30 ng/mL.
  • 30 to 50 ng/mL is suboptimal
  • Optimal is 50 to 80 ng/mL.

Many will find themselves with low Vitamin D levels, such as 30 ng/mL.  If it’s at 30, that means you’re borderline deficient. If you have a higher level of vitamin D, over 100, you can have a risk of hypercalcemia. The risk is low, but it is there. That means you are not metabolizing calcium properly and you can break down your bones.

What we’re striving for is that 50 to 80 ng/mL range. That seems to be best for innate and adaptive immunity because Vitamin D plays a role in both of those. You’re able to fight infections better and tolerate viruses and bacterial infections.

What do you do after you have your levels checked?

2. Supplementation

This is going to determine how/if you need to supplement. For example, if you are extremely deficient (30 ng/mL or under), I always recommend that my patients get a prescription dose of Vitamin D. That’s 50,000 IU once a week for at least four weeks, and then you should reassess your serum Vitamin D level. This helps you get a good idea of how well you’re absorbing your Vitamin D, and simultaneously you can start to work on some of the root causes of why you may not be absorbing this nutrient properly.

Sometimes, it’s simply you’re just not getting enough, whether that be a lack of sunlight or not consuming enough Vitamin D-rich food sources. Other times, low Vitamin D can be related to absorption.

If, after taking a prescription dose of Vitamin D for your deficiency you find your levels are still not optimal, consider the daily doses below:

<10 ng/mL – 10,000 units per day

10–20 ng/mL – 10,000 units per day

20–30 ng/mL – 8,000 units per day

30–40 ng/mL – 5,000 units per day

40–50 ng/mL – 2,000 units per day

It might take you six months to a year to figure out exactly how much you need to take. Also, it may differ during the winter months compared to the summer. However, once you’re able to figure that out with consistent testing, you should be able to maintain an optimal vitamin D level.

Sources of vitamin D

The following are rich sources of Vitamin D:

1. Cod oil

This is something you can supplement with. You can use the liquid version, gel cap version, or cod oil itself. Cod oil is one of your best sources of Vitamin D. Things like salmon, mackerel, and tuna fish are also high in Vitamin-D fish. There are other food sources, such as eggs, dairy products, and fortified foods, but they are lower in Vitamin D than cod oil.

2. Sunlight

Your natural production of Vitamin D is going to come from the sunlight. That occurs from natural pinking from the sun. This is influenced by many factors, such as your age, how much of your skin is covered, and even your skin tone. Somebody with a darker skin tone requires more Vitamin D due to their amount of melanin. Without clothing or sunblock, on average, you’re going to make about 10,000 to 15,000 IUs of Vitamin D in one pinking sun exposure.

Absorption of vitamin D

The last thing you need to consider when optimizing your Vitamin D is your absorption.

Why is it that your Vitamin D levels aren’t budging when you’re already supplementing with Vitamin D, eating the food sources, and exposing yourself to sunlight?

This is where we begin to look at other factors. Is there some kind of malabsorption occurring? Are your liver and kidneys not able to convert Vitamin D? Are you consuming enough fats? Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means you must consume adequate dietary fat to help absorb this vitamin. There could be lots of different things affecting your absorption of Vitamin D, such as GI issues, like celiac or Crohn’s disease, IBS, etc. All these things might need to be considered when you’re monitoring your levels.

Vitamin D affects so many aspects of your immune system and overall health. It is necessary that we monitor, supplement as appropriate, and consume foods to optimize our health.

Are you interested in seeing how we can help you with your nutrient levels, gut health, hormones, toxins, etc.? Schedule your evaluation here:

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Easiest way to decrease sugar cravings

Do you want to know one of the simplest ways to combat sugar cravings? Protein.

So many of you most likely have some kind of sugar cravings. Well, most often, these can be caused by three different things.

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Number one is blood sugar dysregulation. This can be caused by a high glycemic diet, poor macronutrient balance, or poor timing of meals.

The second is a bacterial imbalance and fungal overgrowth.  The bacteria itself can actually crave carbohydrates. Yeast overgrowth can contribute to sugar cravings as well.

The third is a dopamine response. Sugar can affect us like a drug, cigarettes, or alcohol.

Because of all these three variables, we need to make sure that we are combating these cravings through one very simple thing, optimal protein intake.

How to decrease sugar cravings with protein

We do want to make sure that we clarify the type of protein. If we compare a cup of fish to a cup of rice and beans, the cup of rice and beans has approximately 375 calories, 42 grams of carbohydrates, and only 12 grams of protein, compared to one cup of fish, which has 175 calories and approximately 42 grams of high-quality protein.

So, you can see and hopefully appreciate that the protein content is very important. When comparing animal protein to plant-based protein, you’re going to have a lot more carbohydrates that can contribute to, for some people, more sugar cravings compared to high-quality clean protein sources that are low-calorie.

The key thing to remember about protein is that it provides more satiety — a sense of fullness. Therefore, it’s great to eat your protein first in your meal which is ideally comprised of a protein, a fat, and a fiber source. Eating the protein first will most likely cause you to eat less in volume and calories and also have less cravings.

Eating protein throughout the day in balanced proportions, approximately 30 to 50 grams of protein per meal, depending on your weight, will provide optimal blood sugar regulation. If you’re having, let’s say, white rice or another higher glycemic carbohydrate, by having protein with it, it will decrease the glycemic index of the meal.

How much protein should you have?

Thirty to 50 grams per meal of high-quality protein is key for optimal health, especially preservation of our lean muscle mass, which is necessary for longevity. But if we want to dive a little bit deeper into that, in an ideal world, it would be 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight.

Here’s the take-home message: eating more high-quality protein consistently throughout your day, at least 30 grams per meal, is vital for decreasing sugar cravings.

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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9 root causes of acne

9 root causes of acne

Are you someone who suffers from acne — perhaps on your face, on your back, even on your arms? Maybe you’ve had it since puberty and still have not resolved it.

We’re going to dive into the gut-skin axis today and some of the reasons why you need to look inside as opposed to simply just putting on things on the outside — from a logical standpoint — or even taking medications to reduce it.

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What you need to know about acne

As it relates to the gut-skin axis, referring to the gut microbiome and its influence on the skin, we want to remember that our gut is 70 percent of our immune system. Therefore, inflammatory skin disorders can be associated with dysbiosis in the gut. 

Acne vulgaris presents as follicular hyperkeratinization, increased sebum production, and Propionibacterium.

Now we’re going to dive into nine root causes of acne that are definitely worth exploring in your journey to resolving this.

9 causes of acne

1. Hormonal changes

Acne will often present itself during puberty initially, but it can also present in things like PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome. We want to recognize that any kind of hormonal imbalance can contribute to this, so diving into why you are having hormonal imbalances is imperative.

2. Increase insulin and insulin-like growth factor

This can ultimately increase the pathogenesis of acne vulgaris and affect how follicular inflammation occurs. It is important to recognize that things like the regulation of blood sugar and, of course, how we eat throughout the day can influence acne.

3. High glycemic diet

This is often associated with our Western or Standard American Diet or SAD diet. Increased processed foods and increased sugar-rich foods can contribute to an environment where acne can flourish because it increases sebum production.

4. Alterations to the gut microbiome

This can present as intestinal dysbiosis, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), leaky gut (intestinal permeability), and other conditions, all of which can create inflammation systemically and contribute to acne.

Remember, 70 percent of our immune system is in our gut in the GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue), so dysbiosis can drive inflammation anywhere in your body.

5. Increased levels of linoleic acid

When we think about our ratio of omega-3s to 6, we often have way more 6s than the 3s. It’s not that omega-6s aren’t important. We just need an optimal balance.

Vegetable oils like peanut oil, corn, and palm oil in processed foods can contribute to advanced glycolytic end products which increase oxidative stress and inflammation, thereby potentially increasing acne.

6. Whey protein

This is really common! One of my number one things to explore immediately with anyone suffering from acne: whey protein. Whey is found in our dairy products, and whey can be a big trigger for acne. It doesn’t mean it is for everyone, but it is absolutely worth doing a formal elimination diet of dairy at the minimum and then reintroducing it to see if it is one of the drivers for you.

7. Low stomach acid

It’s estimated that approximately 40 percent of people that suffer from acne have low stomach acid. This can contribute to how we are breaking down proteins specifically, which is very common. 

8. Nutrient deficiencies

Deficiencies in essential fatty acids, vitamin A, E, zinc, B6, and selenium can contribute to acne. It’s very important to do a nutrient analysis to determine how much of each nutrient you are getting on a daily basis.

9. Toxins

We are exposed to so many toxins on a regular basis. Dioxin is one of the toxins that is

considered a persistent organic pollutant that can contribute to acne. We do want to factor in other environmental exposures as well. 

In summary, when dealing with acne, look beyond Accutane and topical solutions. Assess your gut-skin axis.

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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10 ways to measure your health that’s not the scale

How much power do you give the number on the scale? Do you know that there are so many other biomarkers of health that you can look at besides the number on the scale?

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10 Biomarkers of Health

1. Waist Circumference

This is one of the most valuable ways to measure your health. Measure the mid-point between your iliac crest, the top of your hip bones, and the bottom of your ribcage. Greater than 35 inches for females and 40 inches for males would indicate that you are at increased risk of health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, and other cardiometabolic issues. 

2. Waist to Hip Ratio

The hip circumference is located at the greater trochanter, the bony prominence on the side of your leg. Then, calculate your waist to hip ratio. If it is .8 or greater for females or .9 or greater for males, that would indicate an increased health risk.  

3. Body Fat Analysis

Certain modes of body fat testing are more reliable than others, such as DEXA scans, hydrostatic weighing, Bod Pods, and skinfold testing. If you have a very skilled practitioner at skinfold testing, that can be one of your easiest and more reliable ways to test it. Body fat analysis can tell you how much lean body mass and fat mass you have. It can also determine things like intracellular and extracellular water.

If you have increased extracellular water, for example, that can indicate that you may have increased inflammation. Your muscle is your organ of longevity. The more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism is, the leaner you are, and the less adipose tissue you have. Adipose is an inflammatory tissue. Using body fat as an assessment is an outstanding way to measure your overall health and longevity. 

4. Body Mass Index

Body Mass Index is equivalent to your weight in pounds divided by your height in inches, multiplied by 703. The ideal range should be 18 to 25 for men and women. This is a great overall assessment, especially if you are overweight, however, if you have increased lean body mass then this is not the best measure for you. 

5. Hair Assessment

Is your hair dry? Is it breaking? Are you losing hair or getting premature grays? Things like dandruff and hair thinning can be associated with decreased essential fatty acids. You can have protein deficiencies and/or zinc deficiencies that contribute to things like alopecia. You want to think about what is the quality of your hair. Is it thinning? That can be associated with medical conditions like hypothyroidism. If you notice changes in your hair then you should suspect that something is going on in your body, such as nutrient deficiencies or other health conditions. 

6. Nail Assessment

Are your nails dry? Are they brittle or cracked? Do they have longitudinal lines or transverse lines? Are they spooning? Spooning nails can indicate koilonychia which can indicate a protein or vitamin B12 deficiency. White spots on your nails that aren’t associated with trauma can be associated with a zinc deficiency. Looking at your nails and your nail health can give you so much insight into your overall health. 

7. Mouth Assessment

Are you having any decay? Are you having any discoloration? Something like a Burtons line, a dark line along the bottom of the gum that could be associated with heavy metal toxicity. Are you having periodontal issues that can potentially indicate some type of bacterial overgrowth and also numerous vitamin deficiencies such as A, D, and E? Burning mouth syndrome, which is exactly how it sounds, can be associated with a vitamin B12 deficiency. So, it’s important to monitor your teeth for any changes. 

8. Tongue Assessment

Different fissures along the tongue can indicate digestive insufficiencies, such as central, longitudinal, transverse, and lambda fissures. A lambda fissure, like a zigzag, can suggest an upregulated GALT, gut-associated lymphoid tissue. It can also signify decreased pancreatic elastase enzymes and potentially hydrochloric acid deficiency. You can even see on your tongue if there’s a coating. This can be graded 1 through 4, depending on the number of anaerobic bacteria on your tongue. In summary, there is a lot of information on your tongue.

9. Skin Assessment

Do you have dry skin, eczema, or dermatitis? All these things can be associated with some type of inflammatory driver. They can also commonly be associated with essential fatty acid, zinc, and sometimes vitamin C deficiencies. 

10. Peripheral Nerves

Restless legs and peripheral neuropathy should prompt you to dig deeper. Of course, you can have chemotherapy-induced neuropathy and diabetic neuropathy.  Diabetic neuropathy, of course, results from insulin resistance. Many times, it can be driven by vitamin deficiencies. There are many ways to improve nerve health. 

In summary, there is more to health than just the number on the scale. This is just scratching the surface of a physical nutrition examination to help you understand that there are so many biomarkers of health. 

We are happy to help, so please reach out. We do virtual and in-person consultations, so we’d love the opportunity to help you on your journey. If this was helpful, give it a share and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Chronic pain is in part considered a neurodegenerative disease and is mismanaged in our country. We need to dig deeper into the biological and metabolic factors as well as the pathophysiology of chronic pain. This goes well beyond opioids and NSAIDs.

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What you need to know about chronic pain

Essentially, chronic pain will distort the cognitive and emotional processing of day-to-day experiences. The volume in chronic pain is dialed up, and our ability to inhibit or turn that volume down is decreased. Therefore, we have what we call sensitization. That means that our nervous system is hypersensitive. Everything is amplified, and the ability to dampen it is decreased.

In addition to that, it can be associated with anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, these may go hand in hand. Of course, it’s necessary and important to look at any type of adaptive movements or compensations that may be contributing. Beyond that, it’s important to look at toxin exposure, intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut, inflammation, dysbiosis in the gut, and hormone imbalances. Increased cortisol from chronic stress or decreased sex hormones, like DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, can influence our ability to perceive pain. 

Lastly, chronic pain does not equal tissue damage. With acute pain, there is often acute tissue damage which contributes to increased swelling, pain and increased white blood cells in the area. However, with chronic pain, there is no tissue damage. The tissues have healed, yet your brain is still perceiving that there is increased pain.

8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Let’s discuss eight things you can do to address your chronic pain.  

1. Stop the Opioids and NSAIDs

Long-term use of opioids can actually increase pain and your perception of pain. NSAIDs drive leaky gut, so intestinal permeability. That contributes to a release of lipopolysaccharides (LPs), which is considered an endotoxin. The more LPs that you have in your body, the more inflammation and the more pain you can experience. 

2. Support Key Nutrients

Chronic pain is considered a dysfunction of the mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells. You want to make sure that you’re supporting the nutrients for your mitochondria. Proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, for example, are crucial for the membrane health in your cells. 

3. Improve Glycemic Responses

Eat balanced meals with proteins, carbs, and fiber sources to prevent blood sugar dips throughout the day. If you’re eating a high glycemic food like candy, white bread, or enriched foods without any protein or fats, you can have poorly regulated blood sugar. You want to improve your membrane thresholds by stabilizing your glycemic response. 

4. Modulate Stress

This can be done through mindfulness practices, meditation, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, autogenic training, progressive relaxation, and much more. This is a crucial part of healing chronic pain and understanding your body’s signaling, which can be done through a variety of modalities. 

5. Purposeful Graded Exercise

It is important to start low and go slow in a very systematic progression. For example, if you were going to start walking, you would start walking for five minutes every other day. Once you’re able to do that without any increase in pain, then you can proceed to eight minutes. This will allow you to progress safely without getting discouraged.

6. Heal the Gut

Your gut is 70% of your immune system. This is what drives inflammation, and typically, chronic pain is associated with chronic inflammation. You want to get to the root of your gut issues. Gastrointestinal issues might not be obvious and could present as systemic inflammation, joint pain, and so on. 

7. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep

It is important to make sure that you are not only getting enough sleep, but you’re getting deep and REM sleep to fully restore and repair your body. 

8. Assess and Decrease Toxins

You can start by going to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and begin to choose one product at a time to switch to a cleaner product. This could be something as simple as switching from plastic water bottles to stainless-steel water bottles. You could change the products you’re using on your skin or your hair. Toxins, including medications, are things that can continue to perpetuate the chronic pain cycle. 

You can get better! You can heal your chronic pain. Look beyond just basic physical therapy, exercises, cortisone shots, and surgeries. You have to dig deeper into all of the things that play into chronic pain. 

We are happy to help, so please reach out. We do virtual and in-person consultations, so we’d love the opportunity to help you on your journey. If this was helpful, give it a share and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Is intermittent fasting for you?

Have you heard about intermittent fasting? Maybe you’ve had a friend or family member who’s been successful with it and you are wondering if you should, too? Let’s dive into what intermittent fasting is, the types of fast, its potential benefits and adverse effects, and how you can incorporate it safely into your life.

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Intermittent fasting is a broad term defined as periods of feeding and restricting. This can include many different forms. Think of intermittent fasting as an umbrella term.

Here are four common ways to intermittent fast:

1. Time-Restricted Feeding

This involves prolonging the amount of time that you’re not eating and shortening the time that you’re feeding. The most common example of this is a 12 hour fast from night until the next morning. For example, eating dinner at 7:00 p.m. and then eating breakfast at 7:00 a.m. If you were prolonging that further, you could fast up to 16 hours. A 12 to 16-hour fast is most common, although more is an option as well. 

2. Alternate Day Fast

This involves eating your normal calories on one day and on the next day you have a decreased caloric intake of approximately 600 calories.

3. Modified Fasting

This could involve reducing your caloric intake by about 10 to 20% on a day or multiple days a week. You could go as little as 600 calories. 

4. Fasting Mimicking Diet

This is typically done one time per month for five days. During the five days, you would consume a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, low in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. This would be done on five consecutive days once a month as a means of a cyclical fasting-mimicking period. 


The next big question is what the benefits of fasting are, and there are quite a few. It is important to recognize that there are a lot of mice studies and some human studies, so there needs to be more research with greater human subject samples.

Additionally, restricted eating, intermittent fasting, carbohydrate restriction, and caloric restriction can all have similar effects on the body. Autophagy, our natural cell recycling program, can be improved through all three of these.

Shorter-term studies on mice and humans show that there can be a positive effect on insulin resistance, blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids, as well as inflammation, weight loss, and even brain health. There’s no doubt that longer-term studies on humans are needed to support the long-term benefits of sustained weight loss. 

Who should use caution?

Now, who should use caution with intermittent fasting?

First, I believe that you should work with a health practitioner to guide you and coach you to make sure that this is the right time and the right plan for you. Anyone that is frail, pregnant, has a previous eating disorder, has disordered eating should not fast.

If you have low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, or insulin-dependent diabetes, you also should not fast. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that is overlooked is if you have an HPA Axis dysfunction, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal dysfunction. This is our main stress pathway in our body.

If you’re under chronic stress, it is not a good idea to do intermittent fasting. This perhaps may be the sole reason why I choose to not put many of my patients on intermittent fasting because. It can be yet another stressor on their body that they can’t tolerate at this time. I’m also very cautious to do intermittent fasting with women, especially if they are dealing with existing hormonal issues, such as cortisol dysregulation, estrogen dominance, or low progesterone.

For men, however, I have found that it can be very helpful, but there are some things to think about even beyond the things I just mentioned. It depends on your specific goal if intermittent fasting will help you achieve your goal. For example, if you are lifting to build muscle mass, you have to eat more calories. Intermittent fasting may not be the best fit because it may be very hard to get in all the calories that you need in a condensed period of time. It is important to think about what your goals are, your current health conditions, or the concerns that you’re working with. 

Tips for successful fasting

If you decide to give it a try, track how you’re feeling for at least one month. If fasting is helping you meet your goals, stick with it. If it’s not, stop. It’s that simple. If it’s a way of life for you, fantastic, but it’s not and your body’s not responding the way you thought, it’s okay to change gears and move in a different direction. 

  1. Make sure that you’re drinking a lot of water. 
  2. Clean your gut and health up first. 
  3. If you are waking up and drinking bulletproof coffee with ghee and MCT oil, you have already broken the fast. If you put creamer in your coffee, you’ve broken the fast. 
  4. Build up tolerance slowly. Start at 10 hours, 11, 12, and so on. For women, I would recommend no more than 14 hours and for men up to 16. 
  5. If you feel unwell at any point, stop the fast and reconsider if this is the right approach for you? 

Having metabolic flexibility, being able to fast and feed is very powerful and is evolutionary in nature.  If you decide to, make sure you are taking all the necessary steps and track your journey.

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Vagus nerve hack: visceral sympathetic release | celiac plexus, superior/inferior mesenteric plexus

Did you know that stress can inhibit the vagus nerve? When we are stressed, we are activating our sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” system.

We can access the sympathetic nervous system through our viscera. We can do specific visceral techniques on ourselves that can down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system so that we can upregulate the vagus nerve, which is the cornerstone of our parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest” system.

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How stress affects our viscera

Stress can affect us in so many ways, but let’s specifically speak to how it affects our viscera.

Stress inhibits or turns down the vagus nerve, which is what innervates our entire digestive tract. If we are stressed, blood flow moves away from the digestive system. If we’re in a sympathetic state, we are not able to digest, assimilate, and even eliminate our food as well as we should.

Additionally, if we have a high vagal tone, then we will have good protective epithelial or gut barrier function. If we are in a constant fight or flight system, then, unfortunately, we don’t have that protective barrier that can contribute to things like leaky gut, IBS, and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

So what can you do about it?

The visceral sympathetic release technique is something you can do on yourself that can downregulate your sympathetic nervous system. You can target the celiac plexus, the superior mesenteric plexus, and the inferior mesenteric plexus, which are all nerve bundles part of this system

While you’re lying down, you want to assess each of these three areas. 

  1. You will start about an inch under the xiphoid process, which is the bone right under your sternum. That is your celiac plexus. 
  2. Then, move down to halfway between your xiphoid process (bottom of your sternum) and your belly button to your superior mesenteric plexus. 
  3. About one inch above your belly button is your inferior mesenteric plexus. 

Assess for a temperature, edema, or tenderness in each of these areas. Wherever you notice any kind of restriction, decreased elasticity, swelling, or soreness, then that’s the area you want to address. As with any type of release, you want to have a very gentle approach, especially with the viscera. You are manipulating fascia, which does not need to be aggressive. You want to be very intentional about your technique and your pressure.

This is a great opportunity for you to tune in to your own body and viscera. As you move through the technique, you’ll find the key areas that you want to release and proceed to hold each spot. You can use both fingers, one on top of the other, to sink into the tissue until you feel one of those shifts in what you’re assessing.

Is there a decrease in tenderness? Does it feel like there’s less swelling around the area or is it more elastic?

You can assess for any change in the tissue or does it feel like a sense of relaxation?  That could feel like a sigh, swallow, yawn, or just a sense of calmness in your body. 

After you perform the technique, reassess to see how that tissue feels. You can reinforce that with diaphragmatic breathing to up-regulate your parasympathetic nervous system even more. This can be a great technique to do before you go to bed or before you eat, especially if you have gut issues. 

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Are you suffering from food intolerances?

Did you know that 15 to 20 percent of people suffer from some type of food intolerance? It is important to understand the differences between food sensitivity, food allergy, food intolerance as well as what specifically you can be intolerant to.

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There are three different types of adverse food reactions that you can have.

The first is a food allergy which is considered an immunologic IgE mediated hypersensitivity. Essentially, this causes a fairly immediate immune response. The second is considered a food sensitivity, which is an IgG-mediated response, also causing an immune response. This is a different antibody, which has a much longer half-life, an average of 23 days, compared to IgE, which has a very short half-life.  Lastly, food intolerance is what we’re going to focus on today. This is a non-immunologic reaction that causes an intolerance to a specific component of a food. 

8 Food Intolerances You May Be Experiencing

Let’s dive into eight different food intolerances that you may be experiencing. Let’s use lactose as our example. 

Lactose is referred to as a FODMAP (Fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols.) If you have lactose intolerance, it will draw in osmotic pressure in the intestine, which means that it can create bloating, diarrhea, and cause pain because it is a poorly absorbed fermentable carbohydrate. 

Essentially, someone with lactose intolerance does not have the enzyme lactase to break down the food. Now let’s discuss the different types of food intolerances.


FODMAPs can be different carbohydrates. Oligosaccharides, for example, include things like onions, garlic, and wheat. Disaccharides can include yogurts and cheeses. Monosaccharides can be things such as honey, apples, fructose, etc. 

Polyols can include different types of sugars. All of these can attribute to poor digestion in the gut. If we are not able to break down FODMAPs then that means that there’s probably something going on with our gut like dysbiosis, leaky gut, SIBO, and so on. 

2. Histamine

As I mentioned with FODMAPs, there’s typically a reason why someone is having some type of histamine intolerance. It is often due to dysbiosis in the gut, GI inflammation, and/or SIBO. There also could be a genetic predisposition to histamine intolerance, which means someone may not have the enzymes to break down the histamines.

Diamine Oxidase (DAO) is the enzyme that is required for the metabolism of histamines. This can cause sensitivity to things like wine or age cheeses. 

We’ve all had histamine responses, whether you’ve found a bug bite or you’ve had an allergic reaction; this is a normal response. However, some people can be very intolerant to histamine foods. 

Addressing the gut is number one and a DAO enzyme can be helpful. It does not necessarily fix the entire problem, but it can be helpful if you’re consuming histamine foods and you have an intolerance. 

3. Tyramine

This is a naturally occurring trace amine that’s derived from the amino acid tyrosine. It can be found in plants, animals, fermented, and even foods such as aged cheeses, smoked fish, cured meats, and so on. Just like the other foods, you can eliminate them for a period of time including things like leftovers. Any kind of spoiled food or leftovers can be rich in tyramine.

Once again, you want to try to uncover any potential root causes. Medications like antidepressants or antibiotics can make you more sensitive. 

4. Lectins

Lectins are found in most plants, meat products, and legumes. Although many people eliminate these, research doesn’t fully support this as key food intolerance. Lectins are such an important food group because it is in most of our plants, so we have to be careful when eliminating them.

5. Nightshades

Nightshades are comprised of many healthy foods like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes. This is also somewhat of a controversial food intolerance. There are people who definitely report that nightshades can make them feel worse and present with general inflammation, specifically joint inflammation. It’s also something that is often included in an autoimmune protocol like the Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) diet. Some elimination diets are focused on eliminating nightshades as well. The evidence here is definitely lacking in showing that this can cause a problem. It can be worth exploring if this is suspected for you, however.

The good thing about nightshades, among some others, is that you can eliminate them for a very short amount of time to be able to assess. If it’s something you’re eating regularly, you can eliminate them for a few days and then reintroduce them and see how you do. 

6. Oxalates

Oxalates are also a common one that you see in a lot of different diet protocols and this can come from oxalic acid. Ultimately, it could come from three sources: your diet, fungi, and possibly Candida. If there’s a candida overgrowth, that can increase your oxalic acids. It can also come from your metabolism. Vegetarian diets tend to be higher in oxalates. If Candida overgrowth is present, which is very common in that population, there can also be a higher oxalic acid content. 

We normally hear about high oxalates with kidney stones. That is one of the biggest drivers of a kidney stone. So how can we treat this? Hydration is critical, so make sure that you’re drinking a ton of water. You can increase things like citrate foods such as lemons and limes. You can also focus on potentially decreasing oxalate foods, but just remember that those are very healthy foods, such as our berries and spinach. Most importantly, address your gut and systemic inflammation, especially if there is Candida.  

7. Food Additives

This could include things such as MSG, gums, and nitrates. These are all things that don’t have enough literature to support them. That does not mean at all that they don’t exist. Some people can determine just through their experimentations with food that they are sensitive to very specific ingredients in these foods.

8. Salicylates

This can be naturally found in many fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, gums, and cosmetics. These can cause a whole host of symptoms such as asthma, gastric issues, tinnitus, headaches, and nasal and sinus polyps. This is something that is found in foods as part of our essential fatty acid breakdown. We can have a dysregulation of arachidonic acid metabolism, which can be inflammatory. 

It is important to know what we are eating and how it may be affecting us. 

If it was helpful please give it a share. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Muscle is the organ of longevity

Did you know that muscle is your organ of vitality and longevity, and we need a lot more of it?

As we think about optimizing our health and our longevity, we have to critically think about our muscle mass and strength. In fact, it can start declining in our late 30s and 40s. There’s so much opportunity to be able to build and maintain muscle mass as we move into our older years. You can even gain muscle mass after 50 and 60.

We want to think about preventing sarcopenia, which is a loss of muscle mass. That is one of the biggest predictors of poor recovery from falls as we get older. Let’s dive into why muscle is your organ of longevity, what are some things that can happen with poor muscle mass, and what you can do about it.

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Quite simply put, increased muscle mass will have improved health outcomes, not only from a physical standpoint but from a metabolic standpoint. Conversely, low muscle mass is associated with fatigue, injuries, frailty, falls, and even death.

Why is muscle mass important in the body

Now let’s go through why muscle is so important for our body. 

1. Provides Structure 

Perhaps one of the most obvious things is that it provides us with a structure and integrity to allow us to move dynamically through the world.

2. Reduces Systemic Inflammation

Increased muscle mass decreases inflammation. Conversely, increased adipose tissue or fat tissue is inflammatory in nature, especially coming from the visceral fat. Visceral fat will increase inflammation as well as insulin resistance. So you can see how increased muscle mass will decrease those factors and optimize our blood-sugar metabolism and hormonal function. 

3. Regulates Our Metabolism

It is necessary for fat oxidation, glucose metabolism, and detoxification. This is, quite frankly, one of the most important functions of muscle.

4. Whole-Body Protein Metabolism

It plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism. This is where protein synthesis occurs. Think of it as this reservoir that contains all of our amino acids. We have to consume proteins to be able to optimize our amino acid intake, as well as muscle metabolism. 

How to preserve our organ of longevity

As I mentioned, we are all losing muscle mass as we age. When we’re younger, we rely more on things like testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone to optimize our muscle mass. As we get older, we have to rely more on things like nutrition, training, and perhaps for some, supplementation. Now to get into what we need to preserve our organ longevity. 

1. Consuming Enough Protein and Essential Amino Acids

As it relates to protein synthesis, we have to consume enough protein. But what does that mean? That’s always a big question.

Consuming enough protein means that for women you are consuming at least 20 to 30 grams of protein per meal and for men 30 to 40 grams per meal. That is assuming that you are eating at least three meals a day.

Now if we want to get a little bit more specific, you can say 1 to 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight. Now, the next aspect of this is that we have to consume all of the essential amino acids. There is some controversy over this. That means that if you are a vegetarian, you have to think about combining protein sources.

For example, brown rice and peas will make a complete protein. Chicken, fish, or turkey is already a complete protein. We want to think about having all of these essential amino acids consistently throughout the day so that we’re feeding this positive nitrogen balance, which is ultimately our amino acid balance. 

2. Progressive Overload Training

You have to have some form of training with progressive overload. That means that it is a structured program where you are consistently changing either the intensity, duration, volume, or weights.

We have to be able to constantly break down protein and build protein. It is a beautiful cycle that changes every day based on what we’re doing.

Essentially, your muscles need to be constantly stimulated. If they’re not stimulated, there’s no way for us to increase or shift our muscle to fat ratio.

Regardless of age, if we take a 20-year-old for example, we know that a 20-year-old is going to be able to build bigger and stronger muscles than an 80-year-old. However, an 80-year-old with proper resistance training and progressive overload is still going to be able to develop larger muscles. We want to consider that age should not be a factor in this and wherever you are right now is a great opportunity to start.

3. Supplementation

Last but not least, there’s supplementation. Supplementation does not work alone, and it is absolutely necessary to have an optimal diet with enough protein as well as a proper training regime. There is enough scientific literature to prove that creatine is a promising supplement that can help with building muscle mass. Essentially, it’s bringing water into the muscle cell to enlarge it which will develop more muscle force and mass. 

There you have it… all the reasons why muscle is your organ of longevity. It is so important to think about how you can live into your older years the way that you want and to feel strong and healthy from a metabolic, hormonal, and physical standpoint. My entire career, I’ve been trying to get anybody that will listen to me to strength train because I think it is so valuable. I hope that you consider this if you’re not already.

Give this a shot. Let me know how it goes. If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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