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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Arthritis: An Inflammatory Condition

Have you or someone you’ve known experienced some kind of arthritis? Perhaps it has been debilitating and or it has affected your quality of life? Let’s define arthritis and discuss the drivers of osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis, and what you can do to prevent it.

Many people experience aches and pains as they age. Is this normal? Not really. Is this common? Yes. Is there something that we can do about it? Yes. You do not have to embrace the deterioration of your body as you get older. There are things that you can do to prevent osteoarthritis, as well as rheumatoid arthritis.

Let’s talk about some misconceptions about osteoarthritis. First, “everyone gets it”, which is not true. Second, is that it is genetic, and that is also not true. It is in fact, a matter of diet, lifestyle, and the environment.

Osteoarthritis is pain and inflammation in the joint or multiple joints. Research shows, however, that osteoarthritis is due to inflammation in other parts of the body. Specifically, it can be related to high insulin levels.  With diets, specifically the Western diet that is high in sugar and processed foods, can lead us to high insulin levels and poor blood sugar regulation. This is one of the key drivers in osteoarthritis. We want to remember this key thing, osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. If we are having any type of systemic inflammation or excessive inflammation in our body, this can drive osteoarthritis. Often, you will see that a person that is experiencing severe osteoarthritis all over their body. They are in a very inflammatory state.

Rheumatoid arthritis, on the other hand, is an autoimmune condition. It affects 1.5 million Americans, but the interesting fact is that it has been happening at younger and younger ages. This is when the synovial fluid becomes thick and murky and creates degeneration in the cartilage of the joints. The joints can become very stiff and painful. One of the biggest drivers of autoimmune conditions, once again, is going to be a predisposition genetically, the environment, and activities of daily living. One of the biggest contributors to autoimmune disease specifically rheumatoid arthritis is a leaky gut, otherwise known as intestinal permeability. Our immune system begins to attack healthy tissues, too.

Before we get into what would be most helpful, let’s talk about what you should not do; take chronic nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs). These will ultimately turn off your immune system, contributing to poor regulation. Although it may mask symptoms temporarily, it is not optimizing your immune system for the long-term.

In both cases of arthritis, a major goal is to reduce inflammation. Also, reducing your insulin, eating less sugar, eating to balancing your blood sugar, and keeping them stabilized throughout the day is critical. Improving your gut health and determining what foods are inflammatory for you is necessary. Doing so will help you to optimize your overall immune health and be able to prevent these types of inflammatory conditions.

As it relates to movement, please consider seeking out a qualified movement professional to help you on your journey to make sure you are moving well and without compensation.  Even though it’s inflammatory, you want to optimize the joint positioning, referred to as joint centration. Think about the shoulder joint, a ball and socket joint. When the ball isn’t in that center position of the joint, it will shift forward and often start to cause pain and irritation in the joint. So you’ll want to make sure that you’re stabilizing the joint and strengthening around it. Essentially, you’ll want to load the joint in its pain-free non-restricted range of motion.

There you have it; powerful ways to prevent and improve arthritis as you go into your older years.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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5 INFLAMMATORY TRIGGERS you should know about

Do you suffer from chronic conditions such as chronic pain, joint stiffness, muscle stiffness, digestive issues, skin issues, delayed onset allergies that have seemed to haunt you later in life, or perhaps any other chronic health condition you’ve been suffering from? In this case, you may have what we refer to as systemic inflammation, where your body had a loss of tolerance and it is not able to manage inflammation well on its own. Seventy five to ninety percent of all human disease is linked to excessive or persistent inflammation, so it is really important to figure out what may be inflammatory for you in your body. Let’s discuss five different categories of inflammatory triggers.

1) Food. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a western-style diet filled with rich, processed foods, fatty foods, and sugary foods. It is the classic pro-inflammatory diet that a large majority of Americans consume. Additionally, there are also 12 potentially inflammatory foods that could be driving your health conditions. Some of these foods may seem healthy and very well can be, however that doesn’t mean they are healthy for everyone. This could be anything from soy, peanuts, processed meats, red meat, shellfish, and the list goes on. Click HERE for a video on 12 inflammatory foods. Your friend may be able to eat gluten, but you may not be able to.

2) Bugs. This could be a parasite that is causing an infection and ongoing inflammation in your body. It is really important to be tested for this especially with chronic health conditions that you’re trying to determine what the root cause is and a comprehensive stool test including a parasite test will evaluate for that specifically. This could also be something like a tick-borne illness contributing to an ongoing infection that your body is trying to manage.

3) Toxins. This can include internal toxins as well as external toxins. External toxins are things like herbicides, pesticides, and cleaning chemicals. We also have it in the products that we use on our bodies. On average, a woman uses 168 chemicals before they leave the house in the morning and a male uses 87. A female teenager uses even more than that. So, we want to think about the toxins that we are exposed to in our daily environment but also in our outside environment. Mold is a common example of a toxin that many people are exposed to without knowing. We can also have internal toxins. Yeast overgrowth, for example, is an internal infection your body many be trying to manage or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). There’s a lot of toxins that we are exposed to in our environment, even if we try to control what we can control.

4) Trauma. This can be anything from chemical trauma, mechanical trauma, or emotional trauma. One of the biggest aspects of trauma is going to be stress. Stress is one of the number one things that contribute to inflammation in the body. There is also physical trauma.  You could roll your ankle or hurt your knee while you’re running, etc., which can cause acute inflammation. If your body can’t manage it, then it can become systemic inflammation.

5) Hormone dysfunction. Oftentimes we think of just the sex hormones when we think about hormone dysfunction. However, the hormone dysfunction that typically is the kick starter for most people is our stress hormones (think cortisol!) and especially right now in life. This is such a challenging time for so many of us that the stress hormones really can drive thyroid issues and other sex hormone issues such as estrogen dominance or progesterone and testosterone deficiency. Everything works in a hierarchy. Don’t forget about our hunger hormones, too. Leptin is a hormone produced by the fat cells in your body. Its main role is to regulate fat storage and how many calories you eat and burn but not if it’s dysregulated. Weight gain anyone??  If you are consuming too many carbohydrates and sugar, insulin can also become dysregulated.  Hormone dysfunction is complex, multifactorial, and can surface in many ways.

You will have a greater inflammatory response when more of these receptors from all these different categories light up. Think of this as molecular signaling. So if you are a person that is eating inflammatory foods, you’re under a lot of stress, you already have a thyroid issue, then your inflammatory response is likely going to be greater. Therefore, you will lose tolerance and you will have systemic inflammation which puts you at great risk for many diseases. This can range from heart disease to cancer to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, MS, and Alzheimer’s. You want to think about how you can manage these five categories, and looking at all of them clearly and carefully to determine what are the driving forces for you that are contributing to you not feeling your best.

At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about…feeling your best. How can you optimize your health, how can you take ownership of your health, and make sure that you are living with vitality and not just skating through the world? You CAN feel energized, motivated, and live you’re best life.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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

How to do an elimination diet

Have you been experiencing fatigue, chronic pain, allergies, sinus issues, depression, anxiety, bloating, cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea, and/or constipation? Or maybe you just aren’t feeling your absolute best? If so, you might want to consider the elimination diet. The elimination diet is the gold standard for uncovering food sensitivities and food intolerances that are frequently overlooked as a major contributor to a whole host of inflammatory conditions. It’s been used by allergists and registered dietitians for decades and is currently used frequently in functional medicine.  It can be extremely valuable in finding information.  It uncovers foot triggers that can help you determine what foods are best for you…and of course, what foods are not. There is no one-size-fits-all.  Everyone is unique.

What does the elimination diet do?

The elimination diet helps to decrease inflammation, identify food triggers, reduce intestinal permeability i.e. leaky gut., decrease inflammation, reduce toxic burden, and it is high in phytonutrients and it is not calorie restrictive. If you have already been diagnosed with leaky gut, autoimmune, or any other inflammatory condition (nearly 90% of all conditions), then this would be something that is highly recommended to initiate a gut healing protocol to remove these potentially inflammatory foods. It is not a calorie-restricted plan, so it is not meant to be a weight-loss diet. Instead, it is meant to be an “information diet”, which means it is not a forever plan. This diet is comprised of all whole natural foods, there’s nothing processed. You are eliminating all of the potentially inflammatory foods. Some of those foods include coffee/tea, alcohol, corn, soy, peanuts, processed meats, red meat, gluten, dairy, and so on. (See below) You would be eliminating these foods for at least four weeks.

What foods do you eliminate?

  • corn
  • dairy
  • gluten
  • eggs
  • peanuts
  • white sugar
  • shellfish
  • soy
  • beef
  • processed meats
  • pork
  • coffe, tea, chocolate

How to prepare

For this to be successful, it is vital to have a preparation period. One to three months’ preparation time is recommended to prepare for it so that you can just go into it with ease. The last thing you want it to do is to create stress, ie. Inflammation, on your body.  You’ll want to make sure it is the right time in your life and things are relatively calm. It is extremely challenging to eat out when you are on the elimination diet. Lastly, it’s often easier if you slowly work out one to three foods at a time and find replacements for them before you begin. You want to be fully prepared, which is why it is strongly recommended to work with a professional to guide and support you through the process.   

How to reintroduce

The reintroduction phase is the most important part and many people fail to do this. They sometimes get frustrated and eat something that has multiple inflammatory triggers like pizza that includes gluten, dairy, and tomato sauce. Then, they don’t feel their best and don’t really know why. Was it gluten? The dairy? The tomato sauce with all the preservatives? This is why it’s really important to do a very careful and systematic reintroduction of foods. To give you an example of how that looks, you would do the elimination diet for 30 days. Then, on day 31 you choose a food that you really want to bring back into your life. Let’s say it’s eggs. So, what you would do is have eggs on day 31 in the morning and in the afternoon. You would wait four days, and you would see what kind of symptoms or adverse reactions you may have. A food reintroduction tracker is very helpful for this information. You might have nausea, bloating, abdominal pain, joint pain, etc. If you have negative or adverse symptoms within that four-day window, then eggs, right now, are a ‘no go’. You would wait at least three months before you reintroduce them again. This might mean that your gut needs more time to heal or that eggs are never going to be part of your diet. You can then make a conscious decision to include this in your life knowing the effects it has on you, or now that you have that information, limit or eliminate it. The goal is to find this information, so you know exactly what is helping you feel your best. That means having energy and living with vitality, versus feeling like crap every day, but not really knowing why.

Summary

The elimination diet is extremely valuable when you’re dealing with multiple medical symptoms. It is very challenging for many because they don’t realize just how many of the foods they are consuming on a regular basis. Most people need a lot of support and guidance through the process.  So, again I strongly encourage you to reach out to a registered dietitian or functional medicine doctor to help you through this process.

If you are interested in feeling your best and you need help, reach out to schedule an appointment to get you started on your journey.