THE TRUTH ABOUT COLLAGEN | What does the research say?

The collagen industry has blown up over the past few years. In 2018 sales were up to $47 million, and collagen has been added to many different dietary supplements, bars, foods, and so on. Let’s talk about what collagen is and its role in your body. Also, are collagen supplements beneficial, and what is the current research?

What is collagen?

It is a protein, and it represents 30% of our total body protein. It is found in the connective tissue, which is essentially the glue that holds us together. This is found primarily in the tendons and skin, but also in the bones, ligaments, even some internal organs, blood vessels, and our lymphatic system. Collagen is everywhere in our bodies.

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There have been about 29 different collagens that have been identified. Types I, II, and III are typically found in the human body. Type I is most commonly found in our bones, ligaments, and skin, which represents our skin elasticity and strength. Type II is typically found in cartilage, while Type III is typically always found with type I. You’ll see that in your skin as well as blood vessels and internal organs, in addition to the others I mentioned.

All collagen has 19 different amino acids but it’s particularly high in hydroxyproline, glycine, and proline. This is unique because your hydroxyproline is not found in other proteins. However, collagen is lacking tryptophan which is one of our essential amino acids. This means it is required from the diet. Of course, there are some pros and cons to this, but it has been shown that the combination of hydroxyproline with glycine can be promising to increase human growth hormone.

Collagen cannot be absorbed in its whole form so it has to be broken down into smaller peptides. Hydrolyzed collagen peptides are typically what you see in many of the supplement forms. They will be broken down into two or three peptides that we can absorb in the gastrointestinal tract.

At the most basic level, when we are consuming collagen peptides, they serve as building blocks for other proteins or collagen production. This can stimulate fibroblasts activity, which can therefore influence a lot of the different benefits that we may see from collagen. It’s important to recognize that when you are consuming collagen, you can’t determine where that is going to go in your body. As we ingest it, it’s going to go into an amino acid pool, and our bodies are intelligent enough to determine where that needs to go. For example, if there is wound healing that needs to take place, then that amino acid pool is going to go towards healing the body. If it is skin elasticity or joint health, then it’s going to go where it needs to go. That means that people can experience different benefits.

Sources of Collagen

Now let’s talk about the sources of collagen. One of the most common sources of collagen you might have heard of is bone broth. The difference with bone broth versus stock is it’s typically simmered for over 24 hours, so you’re getting more vitamins and minerals.

Another source is supplementation. It’s important to remember we cannot consume collagen in its full form, and it needs to be broken down into these collagen peptides, so it is more easily absorbed and can contribute to protein synthesis. As it relates to supplementation, bovine hides are more helpful for type I and III collagen; so hair, skin, and nails. Collagen source from fish is helpful for your type I collagen fibers. Supplements containing chicken are going to be helpful for your type II,  which is more joint health and cartilage. However, the research still isn’t super clear on that. Although the research is growing, and we are continuing to see some potential benefits of collagen intake, we do want to remember it’s not completely clear, and there are a lot of bias studies. Some studies have been done by collagen supplement companies themselves.

Benefits of Collagen

Let’s look at the research for the benefits of collagen.

1) Joint Health

We want to recognize some of the trials in the studies have been very small, meaning a low subject sample. However, there are some promising things to show; there has been a decrease in pain associated with joint-related arthritis, as well as joint pain related to activity. In conclusion, collagen supplementation can potentially help, however, further research is really necessary to determine if this is a beneficial result. 

2) Skin Health

This is where the research has been promising in showing an improvement in the elasticity of the skin, the dryness of the skin, even clearness and complexity, and decreasing wrinkles. It also has impacted cellulite. There have been some larger double-blind placebo-based studies and some smaller trials. Again, we always want to remember some of these studies have been biased because they’ve been conducted by the supplement company. However, there’s definitely promising evidence here, too.

3) Muscle Growth

This is something that has been claimed by some. However, collagen does not improve muscle growth. Collagen is not a complete amino acid profile as we mentioned; it’s missing the essential amino acid tryptophan. However, collagen is a protein source and if someone is low in protein, this can be a beneficial clean protein supplement. 

4) Gut Health

This is something that is claimed by some supplementation companies, but there is no evidence at this point to support collagen supplementation will improve gut health. 

It could potentially help with bone health, too. However, the research is very minimal at this point but it’s something we can continue to pay attention to as research develops. 

What’s the take-home of collagen?

It is something that is throughout our entire body forming the connective tissue that is the glue holding us together. It is something that can be beneficial through supplementation, but we do want to look at that with a careful eye. Benefits it may have are helping with skin and joint health, but not so much with gut health. Not only do we want to look at it from a clear evidence-based perspective, but we also want to realize the collagen we’re consuming could go to different places in your body. It’s going to go where your body needs it most. So one person may have benefits of specifically skin health, where someone else might have more joint health-related improvements.

It shows promising results but we want to understand there are pros and cons with everything. You do want to make sure it is in conjunction with a healthy protein-based diet. You want to get your protein sources from food throughout the day that have complete amino acid profiles. So, if you are using collagen as an adjunct then it can be very helpful.

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Why you should consider eliminating gluten and dairy | Elimination Diet

If you haven’t considered eliminating gluten and dairy and you have health concerns, then read on. They may be contributing to your emotional, mental, and/or physical health issues. I’m sure you’ve heard a friend or family member say they’ve gone gluten-free or dairy-free, and they feel much better. Well, you simply don’t know if that will be the same for you until you eliminate it for yourself. And, doing a full or modified elimination diet versus doing a food sensitivity test can be way more valuable. Let’s discuss the different categories of adverse food reactions that you can have and how you could properly eliminate and reintroduce gluten and/or dairy.

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Food triggers are one of the most overlooked things that can be a major contributor to many different health concerns that you may be experiencing. Some common symptoms of gluten and/or dairy can be things like puffiness, bloating, digestive issues, joint pain, dark circles under the eyes, and general inflammation. Of course, these could be associated with other things, but this would be why you’d want to explore if them to see if they’re an issue for you. There are three adverse food reactions. 

1) Food Allergy

This is something you most likely would know that you had. This would be an immune reaction that could be mild to severe and it would happen immediately after you’ve consumed the food.

2) Food Intolerance

This could be something like lactose intolerance, for example, where it’s a non-immune reaction, but it means that your body does not have sufficient enzymes to be able to break down the food. 

3) Food Sensitivity    

This can happen from hours to days after you’ve consumed food that you might be sensitive to. This is where the GI system then impacts the immune system, causing all kinds of issues in your body from pain, sleep disturbances, puffiness, and so on.

How to do an Elimination

Foods stay in your system for different periods of time. Dairy stays in your system for approximately two weeks. Gluten stays in your system for approximately three weeks. So, the best way to do a modified elimination diet of gluten and dairy is to eliminate them both for three full weeks. That means not even a bite of bread or a beer or creamer in the coffee; zero of each of those foods for the entire three weeks.

How to Reintroduce

Then you will begin the reintroduction process which is the most important part. This is the part that most people forget, and it should be very intentional and be very structured. You would start with introducing one food at a time. Say for example you are going to reintroduce gluten, you would have a piece of bread in the morning and a piece of bread in the afternoon. Make sure to keep the ingredients very simple so it’s a clean source of whatever you’re reintroducing. Now you’ve had that twice on your first day, you’re going to wait an additional three days without having any more gluten. You will track all of your symptoms for the next three days; everything from digestive issues to pain and inflammation to sleep to mental and emotional health, and urinary complaints. That is going to tell you if you are sensitive to gluten or not.

If you have any kind of reaction, then you know that your body’s having a low level of immune response to that particular food. After you have finished that, then you would move to dairy. You would have it twice in one day, wait the three days, and determine if it is appropriate for you.

By doing this experiment of one, you are finding out the information yourself and know if these things are an issue for you. I think assessing food triggers is one of the most fundamental things that we should all do as part of evaluating what we’re putting in our body and how it’s impacting our health.

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Understanding Your Pain

What Should You Eat For Chronic Pain? | Nutrition for Chronic Pain

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What Should You Eat For Chronic Pain? | Nutrition for Chronic Pain

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Perhaps you’ve had pain for greater than three months, and you’re not sure how you can support nutritionally? Fortunately, there is so much high-quality evidence to support how diet therapy can make a profound difference in chronic pain.

Chronic pain is associated with pro-inflammatory states which are linked to peripheral and central sensitization. This is when the brain perceives that there’s pain, and even a heightened sense of pain with very little stimuli, yet there is no tissue damage.

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Additionally, the mitochondria, which is essentially the powerhouse of our cells, are also associated with chronic pain. The damage to the mitochondria can be driven by how we eat. Consuming pro-inflammatory foods, such as the Standard American Diet—the Western Diet—which is rich in sugary foods, alcohol, processed meats, and enriched grains, can contribute to inflammation and even damage the mitochondria. Therefore, with the Standard American Diet, there becomes an imbalance between our essential fatty acids, which we need for optimal health, and pro-inflammatory markers. That’s where a specific diet therapy comes in.

The first thing we want to do is address the inflammatory markers. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best and well-researched diets that has been shown to decrease inflammation. Think of a diet comprised of fish, legumes, olive oil, low in grains, and high in vegetables – also referred to as an anti-inflammatory diet.

5 ways that you address your chronic pain through diet

1) Decreasing Inflammation

The best way to do this is through an elimination diet. Eliminate the potentially pro-inflammatory foods for at least three weeks and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time. These include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, coffee, tea, corn, soy, processed meats, red meat, chocolate, tea, coffee, and shellfish. If you don’t want to do a full elimination diet, you can do a modified version—eliminate gluten and dairy, for example. These two definitely can play a role in inflammation, and specifically chronic pain. If you’re eating a lot of sugar, this is also a great place to start. Sugar is a massive pro-inflammatory agent, so decreasing sugar in your diet would be very beneficial.

 2) Calorie Reduction

When we are consuming fewer calories than required by our basal metabolic rate, then we can not only increase our brain’s ability to generate new neurons by decreasing free radicals, but we can also increase ATP, the energy source of the cells, and we can increase our number of mitochondria. These all could play a huge role in inflammation and pain.

3) Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, can help turn on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation. There are many different ways to include intermittent fasting in your life. Fasting from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock in the morning would be a 12-hour fast. You can slowly increase that to a 16 hour fast, or you can do 24-hour fast two days a week. There are many options to suit your lifestyle and it is strongly recommended to start slowly.

4) Specific Nutrient Supplementation

Omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, and magnesium have all been shown to impact chronic pain. There are other nutrients that also help specifically with chronic pelvic pain, such as vitamin E, B1, and B3. 

5) Gut Health

Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut. If there is an inflammation issue, we should start in the gut. So, do you need to include prebiotics, probiotics, or do you need a specific gut health protocol? If you are not managing gut health properly, then you are not managing chronic pain and inflammation well, either. 

These are just a few of the ways that we can use diet to influence chronic pain.  When we have that central sensitization of the nervous systems, our brain still perceives that there’s pain, yet there is likely no tissue damage. Our nervous system is heightened, and we can begin to associate chronic pain with pro-inflammatory markers. We can use diet to decrease inflammation and optimize our micronutrient, antioxidant, and phytonutrient profile to begin to bring our body back into a state of balance and healing. 

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What do your gut bacteria do? | 10 Functions of Gut Bacteria | Microbiome

Everyone talks about the microbiome and gut bacteria, but why is it so important? What are the actual functions of the bacteria?

Before we get into the 10 functions of your gut bacteria, let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy. The small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet of our intestine, should be a relatively sterile environment. The large intestine, however, is where we house the majority of the bacteria, especially the beneficial bacteria. When we get something like a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), it is in essence where the bacteria have now been relocated and overpopulated into the small intestine where it is not supposed to be. We have trillions of bacteria in our gut, and we have a thousand different species. There are also 5,000 different bacterial strains. With that said, everyone is unique, however, there are combinations of collections of bacteria that are present in healthy individuals.

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10 Functions of Gut Bacteria

So, let’s get into the 10 functions of gut bacteria and why it is so important that you have an optimal balance.

  1. Nervous System Modification

This is a really powerful function of our gut bacteria. We want to think of three key neurotransmitters which are essentially are chemical messengers that are formed from the gut bacteria.

  • Serotonin: This is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in our gut.
  • Dopamine: Fifty percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, is located in our gut.
  • GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid): This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases feelings of fear and anxiety and produces a feeling of calm.

All of these are associated with this amazing gut-brain connection.

2. Breaks Down Food Compounds

Essentially, the gut bacteria metabolize the food and medications that we consume.

3. Pathogen Resistance

Think of our gut bacteria as one of our protective mechanisms. It will protect us from pathogens and toxins.

4. Protection Against Any Epithelial Injury

It protects against infections, just like it does with toxins and pathogens.

5. Bone Density Modulation

The gut bacteria can influence our bone density.

6. Promotion of Fat Storage

The gut bacteria can influence the hormones that store fat. Additionally, the Standard American Diet (SAD), that is, the western diet, is influencing gut bacteria, which has been linked to obesity.

7. Immune System Stimulation

Seventy percent of our immune system lies within our gut. So when we have optimal gut bacteria, this gut bacteria is influencing how our immune system responds to foreign invaders, toxins, and pathogens that they might be exposed to.

8. Promotion of Angiogenesis

When we have more blood vessels in the gut, this can be very powerful for future advances in treatments for gut infections.

9. Biosynthesis of Vitamins and Amino Acids

Water-soluble vitamins are plentiful in the diet, but also can be synthesized by the gut.

10. Metabolism of Therapeutics

This is ultimately how we process our medications and supplements. So keep in mind, that if you are planning to take things, you have to make sure that your gut is optimized so that you can metabolize these appropriately.

Now that you know the functions of gut bacteria, you know how important it is to optimize it. You can do that through numerous things, and you can see some other videos for different suggestions to optimize your gut health. But, we do want to think about everything from prebiotics, the fiber that the probiotics feed on, probiotics whether that’s through fermented food or supplementation, and then, of course, stress management, a high-fiber diet with 25 to 35 grams a day, drinking plenty of water, eating a whole, natural food diet to ensure that you are optimizing the diversity of your gut—that is one of the key things that your gut loves, diversity.

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

Do you have forward head posture, or do you have a friend or family member who does? Perhaps you’re always telling them to stand up straight, but they just can’t seem to do it. Let’s talk about the neurology and physiology behind forward head posture and most importantly, what you can do about it.

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Three things that contribute to forward head posture:

  1. Decreased tone in the trapezius muscle and increased tone in the sternocleidomastoid muscle

This is typically due to some kind of breathing dysfunction. That can be from an airway issue such as nasal valve collapse, deviated septum, chronic allergies, jaw issues, enlarged tonsils, just to name a few, which contributes to poor breathing mechanics, breathing more from the neck and shoulders as opposed to the abdomen and diaphragm. It can also be caused by a stressful event, trauma, or even chronic ongoing stress. This specific imbalance in these muscles is what contributes to forward head posture. Additionally, people that have asthma or COPD will almost always have a forward head posture.

2) State of the nervous system

If you are in a chronically stressed state, perhaps a fight or flight state, or even a freeze state where you feel shut down, how you hold your posture will be impacted. Your posture is your story and how you present yourself to the world. Do you walk into a room with confidence and standing up tall, or do you feel shy, reserved, and rounded forward? All of your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and activities impact your posture. We can’t simply think about your forward head posture as a plumb line.  It is so much more than that. 

3) Scars

No matter where the scar is or how old it is, it can affect your breathing, emotions, and movement. Scars contribute to postural changes, shifts in the nervous system, and contribute to muscle imbalances. It’s important to look at any scar in your body no matter where it is or what it’s from, and begin to address the scar from a fascial perspective. This means that doing scar work can influence your emotions, breathing, and movement. 

Now that you have three causes, let’s talk about three solutions. So, when we’re thinking about how we’re going to shift this forward head posture, we have to think beyond just simple exercises such as chin retractions and thoracic mobility. We have to think about the cranial nerves because they are impacting our nervous system, facial expression, and whether we’re in a state of social engagement, which means we’re mindful, joyful, and grounded. We’re going to address this more so from a cranial nerve perspective and optimizing breathing so that you can make a change immediately. You can also have a cumulative effect the more that you do these.

What I would recommend before you start the exercises is to have someone take a side view picture of your forward head posture. Then, take one again after you finish the exercises to see if there is a change. There absolutely should be at least a subtle change if not a very noticeable change. 

Three solutions for forward head posture

Three solutions for forward head posture

1) The Basic Exercise

With this, you’re putting input to the back of your head and looking with your eyes to create more blood flow around the brainstem. This is where the vagus nerve originates. What happens when we’re not in a state of social engagement is our first two vertebrae can become slightly misaligned. By bringing blood flow to the area and stimulating the vagus nerve can bring the first two vertebrae back into alignment, which means we’re back into a state of social engagement. This can impact your forward head posture almost immediately.

To perform the basic exercise, interlace your fingers and bring them behind your head. Look with your eyes only in one direction until you sigh, swallow, or yawn. When you’ve done that, repeat on the other side. This should take approximately 30 to 60 seconds, however, it can take longer depending on if your nervous system is ready to relax 

2) The Salamander Exercise 

This is also a cranial nerve reprogramming exercise, which will help to create more space in the chest cavity, the heart, and the lungs, therefore impacting breathing and forward head posture.

To perform the salamander, assume a table position. Look with your eyes first and then your head as you bring your ear to your shoulder and hold that for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side again making sure you lead with your eyes, then side bend your head bringing your ear towards your shoulder. 

3) The Trapezius Twist

This is essentially waking up all of the trapezius muscles. It’s not stretching or strengthening them. It’s just waking them up, which means there will be an immediate change in posture, breathing, forward head posture, as well as overall posture. Especially after you’ve been sitting for some time, get up and do these three twists! You won’t be disappointed.

To perform this exercise, start with your arms grasped together at waist level rocking back and forth. Next, move your arms up to the heart line rocking them back and forth. Lastly, raise your arms slightly above your shoulders and once again rock them back and forth. You should do about five to ten repetitions at each position. 

There you have it, some causes for forward head posture and most importantly some solutions. We do have to remember that with forward head posture it becomes a vicious cycle because the more forward the head is the more blood flow that is constricted from the vertebral arteries. This means less blood flow to the brain. It also is affecting our airway which means it’s impacting our lymphatic system, hormonal system, and causing inflammation in the body. It’s really important to understand the neurology and physiology of forward head posture and begin to think about it from a much different perspective rather than simply corrective exercises like the chin tucks, upper back stretches, and retractions. We want to think of it especially from a nervous system perspective.

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IS YOUR GUT PREVENTING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS?

Did you wonder how your gut and your gut bacteria can be impacting your weight loss? Research proves time and time again that the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) is something that promotes inflammation in our gut and changes the colonization of our gut bacteria and gut flora over time. Even as simple as one energy-rich meal such as a Big Mac and French fries can release lipopolysaccharides, an endotoxin, into the bloodstream, contributing to this immune response.

The second thing that we know for sure is that when you are in an inflamed state, your hormonal, lymphatic, and GI system will be greatly impacted. Therefore, it will affect your ability to lose weight.

In essence, you have to optimize gut health, balance the bacteria, and feed the gut good bugs, what it needs and craves, which is not the Standard American Diet. I’d like to go over five key things that you want to think about for optimizing your gut health so that you can lose weight.

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1) Decreasing Omega-6’s and Increasing Omega-3’s

Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oil, canola oil, and palm oil commonly found in packaged and processed foods. Even healthy food can contain these ingredients. These omega 6’s can impact your overall health and contribute to inflammation, therefore your gut. Not only do you want to decrease your omega 6’s, but you also want to increase your omega 3’s. Think of your fatty fishes, walnuts, and flaxseed. All of these can be beneficial and working on increasing these healthy fats will have a positive effect on your gut flora. Make sure to prioritize getting healthy fat with every meal.

2) Include Fiber

You want to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.  Most Americans fall short of this. If you are eating a high plant-based diet, and you’re getting some grains, seeds, and nuts in; you should be well on your way to getting the appropriate amount of fiber.  If you’re not, then supplementation would be advised.  Think of your fiber as your prebiotics. In order for us to have the positive effect of the beneficial bacteria of probiotics, they have to feed on the prebiotics.

3) Include Fermented Foods

That could be fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir. You do want to make sure that they contain active live cultures that have beneficial probiotic. If you are not consuming fermented foods regularly, you could consider supplementation to ensure you’re populating your gut with good bacteria.

If you already have existing gut issues, consult with a functional medicine practitioner to ensure you are taking the right one at the right time.

4) Eat More Plants

You want to make sure you have 60-70% of your plate coming from plants. This does not mean to exclude your healthy lean proteins, it just means eat more plants. Fill your plate with a variety of colors because this is exactly what the gut feeds on. This is what it wants and craves. Make sure that you are eating enough variety, because the more diversity in your foods that you have, the better your microbiome diversity will be.

5) Reduce Stress

Stress is one of the biggest drivers for gut bacteria changes. Not only is it well known that it causes inflammation in the body, but it is impacting the gut flora. Even just the thoughts that you have can impact your gut bacteria. Begin to identify what stressors you have and how can you manage stress in your life. You’re not going to get rid of stress, but how can you become more mindful and grounded? How can you respond with clarity and creativity? Use different techniques to be able to cultivate this in your life, so that you can manage the stressors that come your way.

So there you have it, five different ways that you can begin to influence your gut bacteria, microbiome, and 70% of your immune system in order to optimize weight loss. If you’re a person that has been dealing with weight gain, and you recognize that there are some gut issues, start here! It is imperative to have optimal gut health for everything else in your body to function well.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

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How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

With anxiety, depression and stress on the climb, have you ever wondered how you can understand your reactions to life’s challenges and stressors? Or maybe you wondered how you can become more resilient? Did you know that you can map your own nervous system? This is such a powerful tool that can help you shift the state of your nervous system to help you feel more mindful, grounded, and joyful during the day, and more importantly during your life. Before we discuss how to map your nervous system, let’s break down the autonomic nervous system a bit more.

The terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” are typically what we refer to when discussing this autonomic nervous system. However, there are three different aspects of the autonomic nervous system referred to as the polyvagal theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. The vagus nerve, referred to as the wandering nerve in Latin, is one of the longest nerves that originates in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat, circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve is the major constituent of the parasympathetic nervous system and 80 percent of it’s nerve fibers are sensory, which means the feedback is critical for the body’s homeostasis. This amazing vagus nerve is constantly conveying information back to our brain. For example, when we take slow deep breaths, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. This will cause the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which signals back to the brain to create this relaxation response. Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to bring the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

Three nervous system states

  1. First, our “fight and flight” response is our survival strategy, a response from the sympathetic nervous system. If you were going to run from tiger, for example, you want this response to save your life. When we have a fight response, we can have anger, rage, irritation, and frustration. If we are having a flight response, we can have anxiety, worry, fear, and panic. Physiologically, our blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline increase and it decreases digestion, pain threshold, and immune responses.
  2. Second, we have a “freeze” state, our dorsal vagal state, which is our most primitive pattern, and this is also referred to as our emergency state. This means that we are completely shut down, we can feel hopeless and feel like there’s no way out. We tend to feel depressed, conserve energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed, and feel like we can’t move forward. Physiologically, our fuel storage and insulin activity increases and our pain thresholds increase.
  3. Lastly, our “social engagement” state is a response of the parasympathetic system, also known as a ventral vagal state. It is our state of safety and homeostasis. If we are in our ventral vagal state, we are grounded, mindful, joyful, curious, empathetic, and compassionate. This is the state of social engagement, where we are connected to ourselves and the world. Physiologically, digestion, resistance to infection, circulation, immune responses, and our ability to connect is improved.

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Adapted by Dr Stephen Porges

As humans, we have and will continue to experience all of these states. We may be in a joyful, mindful state and then all of a sudden due to a trigger, be in a really frustrated, possibly angry state, worried about what may happen to then feeling completely shut down. This is human experience. We are going to naturally shift through the states.

However, when we stay in this fight or flight or this shut down/freeze state, that is when we begin to have significant physiological effects and also mental/emotional effects. As I mentioned earlier, this could be an emergency state. This can also be a suicidal state, if we are in this shut down mode for too long. If we are in a fight or flight state, we can have constant activation of our stress pathway, also known as the HPA axis, and we can really impact our stress hormones, sex hormones, our thyroid, etc. This stress will have significant inflammation effects on the body as well. All of these states can have considerable effect on our overall health, positive or negative, of course. Also, you can not get well if you are not in your “safe” state. No treatment intervention or professional will help you if you are not safe. This is why it’s really important to identify the states for each of you.

How can you map your nervous system?

  1. Identify each state for you.

The first step is to think of one word that defines each one of these states for you. For example, if you are in your ventral vagal state, this is also called the rest and digest state, you could say that you feel happy, content, joyful. etc.

When you are in your fight or flight state you could use the words worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

In the freeze state you could use the words shut down, numb, hopeless, etc.

The first step is identifying the word that you correlate with each of those three states. This is really important because then you’re able to recognize which state you are in and identify with it quickly. This will allow you to really tune into your body and understand how you feel in that state, so you can help yourself get out of it.

2. Identify your triggers and glimmers.

You’ll want to identify triggers for your fight/flight state as well as your freeze state. These could be things like a fight with your boss, an argument with your spouse, a death of a loved one, if someone cuts you off while driving, etc. It is whatever things that cause you to feel stressed. You want to eventually have at least one trigger, if not many, written down for each of those states.

Glimmers are the things that bring you to that optimal nervous system state. It could be something as simple as petting a dog or something bigger like going on a vacation.

Click here for Deb Dana’s Worksheet to Map Your Nervous System

Summary

Once you can identify what those states are for you, then you can recognize what your triggers and glimmers are for that state. You can really begin to make a profound difference in your nervous system state. You can take ownership of what’s happening to your body, you can tune in to what’s happening, and know how to regulate your emotions and your responses to stress. Ultimately, this is how we can begin to develop resilience. This means being able to have respond appropriately to life’s challenges, go to that fight or flight state for a short period, and then return back to your state of social engagement. That should happen a few times a year not multiple times a day, or every day for that matter. To truly enjoy life, returning to your state of safety where you are mindful, grounded, and joyful, is a practice. It can start with mapping your own nervous system.  

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

How to test your vagus nerve

How to improve your vagal tone

What To Eat To Improve Your Nerve Health | 10 NUTRIENTS

Do you suffer from nerve pain? Whether it’s sciatica, median nerve tension, carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, chronic nerve pain into the hands, or maybe it’s even chemotherapy-induced or diabetic neuropathy? It’s important to address the root causes of any nerve pain, and most importantly, optimize your nutrition so that you can improve your nerve health.

Here are 10 different nutrients that you can consume through foods or supplementation that can optimize your nerve health.

1. Vitamin B12

This is important for the myelin sheath, which is surrounding the nerve. It’s been shown that even high doses of vitamin B12 can potentially repair damaged nerves. Good sources of vitamin B12 are yogurt, fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and sardines.

2. Vitamin B6

We need vitamin B6 to be able to absorb vitamin B12. Rather than supplementing with B6, which can potentially cause damage to the nerves, you can get this through your foods. Good sources of vitamin B6 are tuna, salmon, chicken, and spinach.

3. Vitamin B1

This is important for our muscular system and nervous system. It also converts carbohydrates to energy in the form of ATP which is our energy source. This is something that we only get a small fraction of through the metabolism of it so this is something you could supplement with, in addition to getting it from foods. Good sources of vitamin B1 are navy beans, other forms of beans, green peas, and sunflower seeds.

4. Vitamin B2

This is necessary for the absorption of B6 and B12. Good sources of vitamin B2 are soybeans, spinach, almonds, and asparagus.

5. Antioxidants

This can be powerful to optimize the myelin sheath and prevent any damage to the nerve. Good sources of antioxidants are berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, dark leafy greens, fatty fish, and walnuts. Try to eat a rainbow every day!

6. Ginger

This can be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Try using a couple of teaspoons in hot water or you can incorporate it into salads, soups, and stews. It is very helpful for nerve inflammation and pain.

7. Omega 3

This is important in repairing the myelin sheath that the nerve is wrapped in. Good sources of Omega 3 are fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

8. Water

We are made up of 70% water. All of our nerves, bones, ligaments, and connective tissue is inside of our lymphatic system which essentially is water. It’s our aquarium. We want to make sure that we are well hydrated so that our nerves can function at their peak.

9. & 10. Magnesium and Potassium

Magnesium helps the nervous system to relax where potassium is helping to transmit those signals or messages efficiently. Good sources of potassium and magnesium are pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and fresh fruit.

These ten nutrients may not eliminate your nerve pain, but they can definitely help optimize your nerve health. Remember, you always want to get to the root of the issue.  You want to look at this from an integrative perspective and recognize that the nutrients that you are consuming or not consuming are going to impact how you are recovering from your nerve injury.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schedule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

The truth about your thyroid

Are you a person that sets a New Year’s resolution every year, but doesn’t quite follow through with it? Maybe you know a lot of friends and family members that set goals, but by the end of the year, you ask them if they’ve done them

Did you know that one in seven adults is diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and 60% of the people with a thyroid condition are unaware that they even have an issue? Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease and affects 1-2 % of the population.  It is also more common in women than in men. It is really important to understand the common signs and symptoms, risk factors, proper testing, why do you get thyroid issues, and why is it so prevalent?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits underneath the Adam’s apple. It is important for just about every organ system in our body. It secretes two hormones, T3 (Triodothyronine)and T4 (Thyroxine) and the thyroid impacts everything such as body temperature, metabolism, growth and development, brain development, among many other important essential functions in our body.

What are some things that can happen when the thyroid goes awry? The ten most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid are:

  1. Dry skin and hair
  2. Weight gain
  3. Fatigue
  4. Hair loss
  5. Menstrual irregularities
  6. Edema
  7. Muscle/joint aches
  8. Constipation
  9. Depression
  10. Cold intolerance

What are the things that disrupt the thyroid?

1. Stress

When we think about the hierarchy of how our thyroid might be affected, number one is always the adrenals. So when we have chronic activation of our stress pathway that means that we are chronically releasing cortisol. Cortisol negatively impacts our thyroid function. Our adrenals impact our thyroid which then in turn can impact our sex hormones. If we want to think about reverse engineering why you may have gotten a thyroid condition or how we would want to address the root cause, it’s important to always include stress management as part of the equation.

2. Toxins, infections, radiation, medications

Other things that will impact the conversion of T4 to T3 are things like infections, radiation, medications, trauma, and toxins. Examples of toxins are things like herbicides, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, and plastic water bottles.  Take the Toxic Exposure Questionnaire HERE. Medications such as Lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder, various cancer drugs, and Amiodarone, used to make the heart beat more regularly, can contribute to hypothyroidism.

3. Nutrient deficiencies

Some of our key nutrient deficiencies that will drive thyroid dysfunction because the thyroid needs these things for proper conversion are ferritin (iron), vitamin D, Vitamin A selenium, zinc, and iodine. These are all key players in making sure that we are identifying the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction and also treating it appropriately.

Testing

Now that you know the common symptoms and causes, let’s look at testing. As it relates to testing, the most common lab value that is tested is TSH, the thyroid-stimulating hormone. This is a reflection of the pituitary gland, the master gland, which is what secretes this particular hormone. When thyroid levels are low in the body. The pituitary gland will make even more TSH.  This can be totally normal and you can still have thyroid dysfunction. So, it is necessary, and critical, to have a full thyroid panel if you are suspecting symptoms. I would look at the patient’s history, clinical presentation, risk factors, and then determine if thyroid testing is appropriate. But, you need a full panel. That would include your TSH, Free T3, Free T4, total T3, reverse T3, TPO antibodies, and thyroglobulin antibodies. It is important to have all of those to get a full picture of what’s happening and you can look at specific ratios.

If you’ve been dealing with any of these issues please make sure to reach out so that we can help guide you on the right path.  Recognize that hormone replacement is appropriate, in many cases, and it’s just a matter of finding the root cause so that you’re not just simply putting a Band-Aid on what’s happening. That’s why it’s really necessary to figure out what nutrient deficiencies you may have and what potential toxins you have been exposed that are contributing to your condition. You want to make sure that you continue to work towards finding the underlying causes of your thyroid condition, so that you can continue to feel your best, and living the life that you deserve.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schdule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

4 REASONS YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER NSAIDS

Do you have arthritis and you’ve been told by your physician that you should be taking some kind of anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications? You’ve maybe settled on Ibuprofen, or perhaps you have tried some prescription medications. Well, let’s talk about why we may want to reconsider.

Let’s start by saying that osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. It is important to recognize all the potentially inflammatory triggers that could be impacting your pain and function: food, bugs, toxins, trauma (both physical and emotional), and hormone dysfunction. Let’s not forget the movement compensations over many years that are also contributing to your painful patterns. It is not simply that you have poor genetics, or you played football when you’re younger, or you hurt your knee many years ago. Those may play into it but they are definitely not the only driver and you do not need to be debilitated by your pain and function. There are many negative side effects of NSAIDs.

1. Impacts the GI System

It can significantly impact your GI system. It can affect the lining of the GI system, even in the stomach, and can contribute to GI bleeds. Now let’s remember that 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut. If you are negatively impacting your gut lining by taking NSAIDs regularly, then you are impacting your ability to regulate inflammation. Remember, osteoarthritis is inflammatory.

2. Linked to Heart Issues

NSAIDs have been linked to more heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related conditions.

3. Affects Kidneys

It can impact your kidneys and the blood flow to the kidneys.

4. Decreases Pain Threshold

Your pain threshold is lower. So, what may have just been a little bit of pain, such as a one or two out of 10 is now a five or six. This is because you cannot manage or process pain as you could before with chronic NSAID use.

This goes without saying but physical therapists are the best way to improve your overall function, decrease pain, and help you to do exactly what you want to do. Please reach out to us we would love to help you. Also focusing on things like breathing, yoga, meditation, all of the things have been shown to help with being able to manage pain more effectively.

I know that you think I might suggest ice or heat, but we’re going to ditch those. Neither one of them is going to have a positive or therapeutic impact on your arthritis. It may feel good, but it is not doing anything to help. When you’re using ice it’s decreasing blood flow to the area creating vasoconstriction, so it does not decrease inflammation despite what people think. Also, heat can potentially bring a little bit of blood flow to the area, but it’s such superficial heat that it’s very minimal. Although it might feel good once again it is not necessarily doing anything to improve your function. You want to try to move as much as possible because that has been shown over and over again through research that is the most effective treatment for arthritis.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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