5 STEPS TO HEAL YOUR GUT

Do you experience food sensitivities and triggers? Perhaps you might have been told that you have a leaky gut or SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)?

Maybe you just have chronic inflammation or a health condition and you’re not sure where to start with healing your gut? But, you know how important it is to heal your gut. So let’s dive into how you could do that.

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Our food supply has changed so much since the end of World War II and our agricultural industry is very different than it used to be. We have many more GMOs, herbicides, and pesticides that are used in our food. We also have much more processed food, and therefore that has greatly impacted the health of our microbiome.

In addition to that, we have more stress, more sugar, more antibiotics, a lack of sleep, and lots of caffeine. All of these things are attributing to systemic inflammation and poor gut health. Just one round of antibiotics can shift your microbiome forever.

5 R Approach to Heal Your Gut

1) Remove

We want to remove any potential triggers. This could look very different for each person but here are some examples. This could be doing an elimination diet to remove potentially inflammatory foods. It could also be a modified elimination, like removing gluten and dairy. It could include antibiotics, anti-microbials, or antifungals to eliminate some kind of infection like SIBO or yeast overgrowth.

Removing stressors if you are maintaining a high-stress lifestyle can be very important in your healing.  You can’t remove the stress of course, but you can begin to manage and reduce the stressors in your life.

Ideally, you want to have a health professional to help you during this process. They can assist you with looking at all things that are happening in your life: sleep, stress, movement, relationships, and social aspects.

2) Replace

 Now that we removed all of these potential triggers, you’ll want to replace them with proper nutrients and anti-inflammatory food, and phytonutrients. Maximize your fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and healthy fats, for example. This can also include supplementation as well.

As we get older our digestive enzyme activity begins to decrease. That can be one factor in some gut issues. Using supplementation to support you during this time can be very beneficial because many times you’re not absorbing the nutrients as you should, especially in the case of leaky gut or intestinal permeability.

The protective barrier of the epithelial lining in our gut becomes less protective and then pathogens can come into our bloodstream causing an immune reaction. When you have SIBO, you’re not absorbing the nutrients in the small intestine like you should be. These are just a few reasons why we might need supplementation.

3) Reinoculate

This can be with probiotics. Bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are two of the primary strains that could be very beneficial in contributing to this anti-inflammatory effect and increasing the diversity of the bacteria of the microbiome. You can supplement and then you can also work towards increasing fermented foods regularly in your diet. If you’re not able to consume a small amount regularly, ideally daily, then it may be best to supplement in addition to that. If you’re able to eat it on a regular basis, then that’s the best approach.

4) Repair

Specific nutrients, as well as medicinal herbs, have been very beneficial in healing the gut lining. Things like glutamine, 14 grams per day, have been very beneficial in healing the epithelial lining of the gut. Also, things like licorice, vitamin D, omegas, and much more can be given to begin to help repair the gut.

5) Rebalance

This is where you want to look at all the aspects of your life critically and make the appropriate lifestyle shifts to bring your body back into its most optimal state of wellbeing. 

You want to remember that this approach could look very different for each person. The timeline can look very different for each person as well.

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Chew Your Food To Heal Your Gut

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Chew Your Food To Heal Your Gut

Do you experience bloating, digestive issues, constipation, diarrhea, and/or just don’t feel right after a meal? Did you know how important chewing is in your digestive process and how it could help heal your gut?

In order for us to have proper digestion, we have to be in a parasympathetic state; think rest and digest. If we are in a fight or flight mode, for example, our blood flow is moving away from our digestive system.

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Chewing is one of the things that actually helps calm the nervous system. That is one important aspect of why we want to chew our food very well before digesting it. The saliva that is produced in the salivary glands produces digestive enzymes, and these enzymes help break down the food in the mouth, and as it moves into the esophagus.

The first enzyme is called lingual lipase which helps break down our fats. The second is amylase which helps break down our starches. And the third is called lysozyme, which is an antibacterial enzyme. This is important for preventing dental cavities and other infections in the gums.

The more chewing that we do, the more salivary enzymes are released. This influences not only our autonomic nervous system because we need these specific cranial nerves for chewing and swallowing, but it’s also influencing the enteric nervous system, which is our gut. That is, in fact, its own nervous system.

So when this is happening, we’re getting an increase in smooth muscle contraction, intestinal secretions, the release of some of these enteric hormones, and dilation of blood vessels. It is very powerful when we begin the process of chewing thoroughly. 

5 Things You Can Do To Maximize Chewing

What are five different things you can do to maximize your chewing, and digestive process?

1) Breathe

Before you sit down to eat, try taking at least three diaphragmatic breaths. You want to think of calming your nervous system, bringing blood flow to this area, and bringing yourself to this parasympathetic state so that you can enhance your digestive process. 

2) Allow for at Least 30 Minutes of Meal Time

Give yourself plenty of time to be able to sit down, eat your meal, and enjoy the experience rather than rushing your meal. This will also prevent you from overeating because you’re giving your body enough time to tell the brain that you are full. 

3) Non-judgement

This is a mindfulness practice, but it’s also important for digestion. When we’re judging ourselves, our food, and the environment, unfortunately, we are typically not totally present, and we’re not being mindful of our food. That often takes us out of that parasympathetic state. So, encouraging a positive eating experience lends itself to optimal digestion. 

4) Avoid Water Before Meals

Drinking water before meals can dilute the stomach acids, so it optimizes our natural enzymatic activity. 

5) Chew 20-30 Times

Chew your food at least 20 to 30 times. In our Ayurvedic medicine, chewing at least 30 times has been extremely beneficial.

 If you’re thinking about healing your gut, start with chewing your food.

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

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Is your anxiety or depression coming from your gut?

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Is your anxiety or depression coming from your gut?

Is your anxiety and/or depression coming from your gut? So many people are suffering from anxiety and/or depression, so it’s important to look at the connections between the gut and the brain, and the gut’s influence on mood and behavior. This is an important aspect of looking at mental health and addressing some underlying physical causes. 

The gut-brain connection is fascinating, and it is essentially our bidirectional communication between our gut and brain. It has multiple pathways, including the hormonal, immune system, and nervous systems. For the purpose of today, let’s focus on two aspects: the hormonal and nervous systems.

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The hormonal connection is based on neurotransmitters which are essentially chemical messengers; we also refer to them as hormones. They are signaling from the gut to the brain and the brain to the gut. We have 90% of our serotonin, which is our hormone that provides feelings of happiness, located in our gut. 50% is the dopamine in our gut, which is our feel-good hormone. We also have GABA, gamma amino butyric acid, which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety. All of these are located in our gut! Therefore, gut issues, infections, inflammatory diets can influence our mood and behavior. 

Our gut bacteria form these neurotransmitters, so different strains of bacteria will influence these different neurotransmitters. For example, Streptococcus and Enterococcus produce serotonin. Escherichia produces norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Bacillus species also produce norepinephrine and dopamine. Bifidobacterium produces GABA. Lactobacillus species influence our acetylcholine, which is important for relaxation response, and GABA. 

The nervous system pathways of the gut-brain connection, on the other hand,  primarily exist through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates from the brainstem; it’s the 10th cranial nerve, and it’s actually a pair of nerves. It innervates muscles of the face, throat, heart, respiration, digestion, and our entire elimination track. It is one of the most important nerves of our digestive system. Therefore, we are influencing this gut-to-brain connection when we are either stimulating the gut from a viscera and/or probiotics or vagus nerve stimulation exercises such as breathing. 

It is imperative that we begin to look more closely at these powerful connections and that we look beyond the genetic and environmental components to see why someone may be experiencing anxiety and depression or other mental health issues. Things such as leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), systemic inflammation, inflammatory foods, and the standard American diet will undoubtedly influence these neurotransmitters and the vagus nerve. This attributes to changes in our serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels, thereby impacting our mood and behavior. 

What can you do about it? Find a functional medicine provider to help you navigate the physical causes of anxiety and depression. You could also start with testing: leaky gut, SIBO, stool testing to look at your microbiome. 

You can also start by making small changes. Focus on eating an anti-inflammatory diet, optimizing your sleep, and working on stress reduction connections.

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

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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.

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

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IS YOUR GUT PREVENTING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS?

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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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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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WHY DO YOU HAVE CRAVINGS | 4 reasons

Did you ever wonder why you get cravings and why these cravings can be so overpowering they prevent you from sticking to your nutrition plan? There are four key reasons for cravings.

1. Dopamine response

You may have heard someone say they’re addicted to sugar or you may even be addicted to sugar. Sugar can cause a dopamine response, just like it can with things like alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. This can cause a neurochemical and biochemical response in the body, therefore attributing to cravings. Think of it as a feed-forward mechanism.

2. Gut bacteria

We have a trillion different bacteria in our gut that all like different things like fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. When we don’t give them what they want they get pissed off. These specific bacteria are, in essence, seeking out certain foods so it’s important that we have a diverse healthy diet filled with lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients. If we feed it with exactly what it needs and wants, we won’t have cravings for other things, perhaps like carbohydrates, salt, or sugar.

3. Habits

You may go hours and hours without eating and without checking in with your body, and then all of a sudden, you are starving. This is a perfect example of how your habits and not being internally aware of what you need can attribute to your poor eating habits and choices. This will impact the cravings that you have for sugar, carbohydrates, and energy-rich foods that are giving you a quick burst of energy because you have let the tank stay empty way too long.

4. Blood sugar

This is really imperative in making sure that you are decreasing cravings. Let’s start with the basics. Every four to six hours you should be eating unless you are hungry. Now there are some exceptions if you are doing intermittent fasting. If there is already some existing blood sugar dysregulation, that would mean that you probably have to eat a little bit sooner than that, but ultimately that is our goal. Now to do that, we have to have a balance of nutrients; a protein, a healthy fat, and a fiber source. If we’re getting these balanced meals every four to six hours, then we should be able to keep our blood sugar stabilized. If you happen to just wake up, eat a bunch of sugar and carbohydrates such as oatmeal with honey and blueberries, our blood sugar is going to go way up, and then crashing down. Then, you will crave carbohydrates. So, make sure you are consistently incorporating a protein, a fat, and a fiber source in each of your meals to optimize your blood sugar control and prevent cravings.

In essence, being able to regulate cravings is within your control 100 percent. There are lots of ways to address it. Even if you have some preexisting health conditions, like insulin resistance, or dysregulation of your blood sugars, etc.; this could impact your cravings. However, try to work on these key fundamental things so that you can decrease your cravings and ultimately feel your best.

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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What is SIBO?| Is this the cause of your digestive issues?

Have you heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but you don’t know what to do about it? You may be wondering  if this is the cause of your digestive issues? Is this what’s making you feel so terrible? Let’s start by saying that SIBO is very complex and there is not one easy roadmap to treat SIBO. It is really important to understand what it is, the anatomy behind it, the risk factors, some of the symptoms that you could experience, and most importantly, the underlying causes. SIBO is exactly what it sounds like, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It is not necessarily an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, although it can be pathogenic, it is in essence, an overgrowth. The small intestine is meant for digestion and absorption of nutrients, where the large intestine is meant to house our beneficial bacteria. When we have a backflow of this bacteria into the small intestine, that’s when we can begin to overpopulate and have an overgrowth.

Let’s go over some brief functional anatomy so that you understand what’s happening. When you start chewing your food, you produce salivary enzymes to help begin the digestive process. The food is then passed through our esophagus, i.e. the food pipe, into the stomach. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down the food even further. We have our gallbladder that releases bile to help break down the food moving into the small intestine. Our pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help further break down this food. Once the food moves into the small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet long, so it’s not small, digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. The small intestine connect into our large intestine. There’s an ileocecal valve that prevents any backflow. From here, we then move the food into our rectum for waste removal. We can think of the large intestine as the house for the good bacteria and our storage for waste and excretion.

What symptoms can you have with SIBO?

One of the most frequent complaints is bloating. This is when the gases build-up from the bacteria eating the food. When the gas is releases, it causes pressure or distension in the abdomen. The small intestine is not made for any kind of buildup. When this buildup occurs and we’re not able to process it or digest it properly, this is when you can begin to have symptoms of nausea and acid reflux. The other two symptoms that are very common are constipation and/or diarrhea. You may have both and it could be alternating, or you could gravitate more towards one or the other. This can often be referred to as SIBO-C or SIBO-D. In addition to all the common digestive complaints associated with SIBO such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping, and abdominal pain, you can also have other health issues. This can range from skin issues to significant fatigue to anxiety or depression, and the list goes on.

What are the risk factors for SIBO?

1. Disease states. That can be an autoimmune disease or any other chronic disease that can be a driving factor.

2. Surgery. Specifically abdominal surgeries that create adhesions from scar tissue. This can impact the motility of the small intestine.

3. Medications. This can be any kind of pharmaceutical drugs or antibiotics that you may have been taking, chemotherapy, etc. All of these can drive SIBO.

Now, what are the underlying causes of SIBO?

This is often much more difficult to figure out, and sometimes requires a lot of investigation. The underlying cause essentially is when the system fails. When this protection mode and the normal process of digestion is not happening the way that it should. This can happen for various reasons.

1. If we do not have the appropriate amount of stomach acid in the stomach to be able to begin to break down food properly.

2. If there is an enzyme deficiency, which means that you do not have the capability of being able to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

3. The immune system. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut specifically in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). You can appreciate that if this system begins to fail and our immune system becomes more heightened, this can be an underlying cause of SIBO.

If you have IBS or have chronic digestive issues, you may look into this as a possible cause. You can get tested for SIBO here.

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

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

THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR BELLY FAT

Do you have abdominal fat that you just cannot seem to get rid of? You’ve tried different nutrition plans and exercise programs, and it just won’t budge. You also know that there is a lot of risk of having abdominal weight gain, but you’re just not sure what to do about it. Although you may not want to hear this, abdominal weight gain is linked to high cortisol levels, which is one of our key stress hormones that is released during the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, our stress pathway. When we have chronic stress, we have chronic cortisol release, among other stress hormones that are linked to abdominal weight gain, obesity, and increased visceral and subcutaneous fat.

There are two types of fat that we’ll see in the abdominal region, one of which is subcutaneous fat, and two is visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat produces helpful hormones, one of which is leptin which suppresses your appetite and helps to burn fat. Two is adiponectin which helps regulate fats and sugars.  So, if there’s any increased abdominal fat, then this will impact the production and function of these hormones. The visceral fat will be found around the liver, intestines, other organs, and even underneath the abdominal wall. An interesting thing about visceral fat is that the more visceral fat you have, the harder and thicker it becomes. It becomes denser, so that’s when you may feel that your stomach feels hard and not as elastic as it once did. This of course can increase inches to your waistline. In addition to that, you also have increased cytokines in your visceral fat. There are more cytokines in the visceral fat than there are in subcutaneous fat. These proteins are linked to low-level inflammation and inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases. Lastly, it also releases more retinol-binding protein, which will contribute to more insulin resistance.

Based on research, having increased abdominal fat is linked to colorectal cancer, dementia, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Just remember that abdominal weight gain does not discriminate among genders. So, men and women both can get abdominal weight gain. Women are more susceptible to it after they’ve gone through menopause because their estrogen levels have decreased, which is linked to high cortisol levels over time and chronic activation of the stress pathway.

Now, what can you do about it?

1) Stress management: This could include practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, and trying to be aware of your responses during your day to day actions of life. We cannot get rid of stress, but we can learn how to respond to our stressors more effectively. We can respond with clarity and creativity, rather than reacting. When we can begin to do this we can shift our nervous system into a state of more social engagement, safety, a grounded, mindful state rather than in a fight or flight or freeze state.

2) Anti-inflammatory diet: This can be very challenging for many people. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with processed, high sugar, high fat foods. Aim to have a diet low in sugar, processed foods, and try to eat more clean and natural whole foods.

3) Exercise. First, determine what level of exercise is appropriate for you. If you are in a state of chronic stress, then doing high-intensity interval training is not appropriate because that is also a stressor that can put you into a state of complete overload. Identify the appropriate level of exercise, be consistent with your exercise, and remember that exercise is not the same as movement. We exercise 30 minutes a day, but we should be moving all day long. We should be consistently increasing our movement levels, which means sitting for no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time before we get up and move our bodies. Our bodies are meant to move, they crave movement, and if we don’t do it, we lose it.

4) Sleep. Sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise combined. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.  But, It’s not only about how much sleep you’re getting but it’s about the quality of sleep you’re getting. How much REM and deep sleep are you getting? Are you giving yourself enough time to down-regulate your nervous system before you go to sleep, are you using your phone up late at night or watching TV and stimulating your nervous system as opposed to calming it down and preparing for a restoration process? If you are chronically sleep deprived, this will increase the stress response in your body and contribute to weight gain, specifically around the mid-section.

Good luck in addressing your abdominal weight gain, i.e. stress belly.

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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GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION 101

The gut-brain connection is so powerful in your immune health, hormonal health, and nervous system. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling then you know exactly what the gut-brain connection is. The gut-brain connection is a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain. The gut, meaning our second nervous system or our enteric nervous system, and our brain, our first nervous system. This bi-directional communication happens through multiple pathways, including hormonal, immune, and our nervous system.  The objective of the gut-brain connection is to maintain normal gut function, as well as appropriate behavior.

The first brain has 100 billion neurons and our second brain, our gut has about 500 million neurons. You can see how powerful this neural connection is, and this neural connection happens primarily through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates in the brainstem and then wanders down to the gut. It signals in both directions. For example, if you are getting anxious about a presentation that you have to give you might feel that in your stomach, but if you are eating some kind of inflammatory foods, then that can cause you to potentially feel anxious.

Now, the next connection is hormonal, and this is based on the neurotransmitters or the chemical messengers that we have that communicate between the gut and the brain. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in the gut that is produced by the gut bacteria. Serotonin is provides us with a sense of happiness. We also produce 50 percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, in our gut. Another hormone we produce is called GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety.

Last but not least, our gut-brain in connected via immune pathways. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. So, when we have any kind of gut issue, we typically have an immune or inflammatory issue. In the case of leaky gut, for example, when you begin to have pathogens and toxins that are crossing the epithelial lining and moving into the bloodstream, this is going to cause an immune reaction. If this continues, this can cause a leaky brain because those pathogens and potentially undigested food can cross the blood-brain barrier causing inflammation in the brain feeling things like brain fog. So, as you can see there is a very strong immune system connection as well.

You may be asking, what can I do to optimize my gut-brain connection? The first thing you can do is try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which simply means a whole food, natural, clean diet. Make sure that there are lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables and fruits. If you are experiencing any specific gut or health issues, please make sure to reach out to us we’d be more than happy to help you.  We can see you virtually or in person.

The next thing is to manage stress. Stress is one of the biggest things that can impact the gut-brain connection on both levels. You can help to decrease your stress through mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, journaling, reading, or whatever is helpful for you, perhaps even speaking with someone.

Next, is making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Also make sure that you’re getting an optimal amount of sleep as well as quality sleep.

Lastly is movement. Instead of thinking of exercising 30 minutes a day, try to just move as frequently as you can throughout the day. This will help to optimize your immune system, nervous system, as well as your hormonal system by getting in regular quality movement.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

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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