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Gut Health 101: Nutrition Tips

Our gut health is impacted by every part of our daily lives, including diet, sleep, exercise, toxins, and more. However, the foods we eat are arguably the most influential factor.

Every aspect of life affects our gut health, just as the gut affects every other aspect of our health. It’s a two-way street. The health of our gut impacts everything from our skin to our immune system to our digestion.  While it’s essential to recognize the importance of a healthy gut, be wary of quick fixes, trendy products, and fad diets. As you know, the wellness world is full of these promising magic pills, that at best don’t deliver, and at worst, can be dangerous to your overall health.

At the end of the day, the best way to optimize your gut health is to get back to the basics. And let me tell you, the basics are very effective!

gut health 101: nutrition tips

Signs of an Impaired Gut

Is your gut health in tip top shape or could it use some help?  Let’s take inventory!  Here are some tell-tale signs of gut dysfunction:

  • Low energy
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Sugar cravings
  • Diabetes
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Skin issues
  • Acne
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep Issues
  • Brain Fog
  • Low immunity
  • Joint Pain

If you frequently experience any of the above symptoms, chances are your gut health could use a little (or a big) boost. So, how can you best support your gut? Nutrition is the best place to start! Here’s how you do it:

Step 1: Elimination

  • Eliminate all gluten, processed grains, conventional dairy, refined sugars, packages foods, pesticides, and GMOs.
  • Eliminate all vegetable oils (canola, sunflower, safflower, corn, grapesseed).
  • Be an ingredient pyscho (like me!) and avoid all gums, fillers, preservatives. A good rule of thumb: if you can’t eat an ingredient alone, skip it!

Step 2: Dive a Little Deeper

  • Reduce/eliminate all raw veggies, beans, and un-sprouted grains.
  • Watch your fiber . You might be consuming too much or too little.
  • Chill out on the nuts and seeds. These foods can cause inflammation, as they’re hard to digest, even when sprouted.
  • Chill out, in general. Meditate, take walks, spend time with people you love, get sufficient sleep, and exercise, but not too much.
  • If you’re still experiencing symptoms, try eliminating foods high in lectins, oxalates, FODMAPs and/or other anti-nutrients.

Step 3: Supplement

  • Take a probiotic – I love this one from Seed, which unlike most probiotics on the market, actually survives the acid in your stomach and makes it’s way into your gut intact.  My clients (and myself) have seen dramatic shifts from using this probiotic.
  • Drink bone broth!  Bone broth is rich in gelatin and healing to the digestive tract.

Some of these tips might feel extreme to you, but if your symptoms are truly that bad, these suggestions are hardly extreme. If you’re looking for additional support in making these changes, I would love to help. I offer a 90-day private coaching program to help you improve your digestion and effortlessly lose fat. This program can help you feel like yourself again!

gut health 101: nutrition tips

Here’s what one client had to say about her results:

“Holy crap has my perspective on food completely shifted. I initially went in my 3-month coaching program very impatient and wanting Amanda to tell me what to exactly eat, but this journey has been much more rewarding than that.

With biweekly talks, we were able to go very in depth about various defeating thoughts I have with food and even other aspects of my life that directly correlate to my emotional eating/disordered eating patterns. I no longer dread “healthy foods” or see it as an “all or nothing approach.” In fact, I am able to identify what foods make me feel worse in terms of energy, mood, digestion and what foods are better for me and that is something that is much more sustainable than solely focusing on numbers as I intended to do in the beginning. I also struggle with PMDD/irregular and painful periods, and I feel much more regulated and equipped to deal with my PMS. Also, it helped knowing that I was held accountable by her and having regular check-ins helped a ton, especially when you do face an inevitable challenge or setback.

I really think if you are wanting to make a real, lasting impactful change on your relationship with food, and are prepared to be vulnerable, you should seek out Amanda. I am sure we can all seek out well meaning advice from health professionals, but Amanda is someone who allowed me to be vulnerable and truly felt she understood my struggles and could sympathize with them. If this sounds kind of like therapy, it’s because it was in some respects and was definitely more than giving you a meal plan and telling you to “suck it up.” I am so excited about the new perspective and tools I have and am only beginning to see the real lasting changes I have made.”

Are you ready to get started? Read more about my services, here!

Non-Toxic Cookware 101

There are many common cookware products that can potentially harm your health. In a time when health is of the utmost importance, there are several safe, effective, and non-toxic cookware alternatives!

With the arrival of COVID-19, we’re all out of our normal routines. Life as we knew it has ceased for the time being. One challenge we’re faced with right now, amongst many others, is home cooking. While some of us may be used to cooking at home daily, it’s a new practice for others. And what better time to learn the healthiest cooking practices than during this time of quarantine and social distancing?

First things first: when it comes to fat loss and gut health (my areas of specialty), eating real, whole, natural foods is always the top priority. Honestly, this is your straight shot to success. However, once eating real food becomes a daily habit, we shift our focus to food quality, and lastly, food quantity. Then, come the lifestyle changes, including sleep quality and quantity, stress management, toxin exposure, and more. If you want to learn more about the most effective dietary and lifestyle practices to implement during this quarantine, you can download my FREE ebook, “The Self-Quarantine Guide!

As you can see, adopting diet and lifestyle changes can drastically improve your health. However, with the sudden increase of home-cooked meals, I want to zero in on a lifestyle change that is essential during quarantine: the type of cookware you use.

 

The Hidden Dangers of Toxic Cookware 

It may come as a surprise to some of you to learn that the type of cookware you use on a daily basis has the potential to hinder or support your health. There are multiple cookware items found today that seem convenient and harmless, but they might be negatively affecting your health in more ways than one. Let’s take a look!

These cookware tools are the most common, yet also the most dangerous. Do your best to avoid these at all costs:

Non-Stick & Teflon

Non-stick and Teflon pans are, without a doubt, the most popular cooking tools. Obviously, they’re convenient and easy-to-use, as they prevent food from sticking while it cooks. However, these materials also contain PFC’s (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances) – toxic chemicals known to disrupt hormone regulation and potentially cause thyroid problems.

Aluminum

Aluminum, once again, serves as a convenient cooking option. It’s what our grandmothers used to cook with because it’s lightweight and easy to use and clean. It’s also widely used for parties and catered events as disposable cookware – yes, this includes aluminum foil. But, guess what? The aluminum easily leaches into the food it contains. Although seemingly harmless, the consumption of aluminum has been connected to health conditions, like Alzheimers and other neurological issues.

Non-Toxic Cookware 101

The Better Non-Toxic Cookware

GreenPan

GreenPan, made from a non-stick ceramic material seems to be a great alternative to Teflon. The material used is said to be free of chemical toxins.  I’m still a bit hesitant (although I do use these from time to time) because testing is limited.

Le Creuset

Le Creuset is made from stainless steel and enamel. It’s definitely one of the safer options, but some sources do say that there is the potential of lead and cadmium leaching into your food.

 

The Safest Non-Toxic Cookware 

The Always Pan

I recently discovered the Always Pan, which has quickly become my favorite cookware set. Made with an aluminum base, this pan is coated with a non-stick ceramic material that is free of PTFE- and PFAS. When taken care of properly, the Always Pan is one of the healthiest and most convenient cooking tools. Bonus: it’s the perfect size and shape to do the work of eight different cookware pieces. The Always Pan includes a nesting stainless steel steamer basket, modular lid, and nesting spatula (finished with natural mineral oil).

Cast Iron

A cast iron skillet is easily one of the most versatile, yet traditional cooking tools available.  It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven. Keeping it correctly seasoned and well-cared for may seem high maintenance, but it’s well worth it. However, it’s important to note that a cast iron pan is not a great option for those who have high iron levels or are at risk for iron overload.

Stainless Steel

Lastly, a stainless steel pan is another safe, non-toxic cooking tool. These pans are affordable and readily available. Unfortunately, they are not non-stick, which is a major downside.

As you can see, there are many safer, healthier, non-toxic cookware alternatives. By easily switching out your aluminum and/or Teflon pans, you can help ensure your family’s health while you enjoy many home cooked meals!

The Truth About Heart Disease

Based on the book “Put Your Heart in Your Mouth,” by dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride.

 

Is everything we think we know about heart health wrong? It just might be. For starters, the belief that saturated fat causes heart disease is wrong, based on recent research and publications. Unfortunately, the correlation between saturated fat and heart disease has been ingrained in our brains for so many years that it seems almost impossible to convince people otherwise. Yet, I’m going to try. 

The Truth About Heart Health

 

Is Saturated Fat to Blame?

Case and point: let’s talk about the “diet-heart hypothesis” proposed by Ancel Keys in 1953. This hypothesis led us to believe that low fat and low cholesterol diets were the answer to preventing heart disease. Keys’ infamous diagram showed the correlation between fat consumption and mortality from heart disease. While he studied 22 countries, only 6 of these countries were included in the diagram. Ironically, these 6 countries were the only ones that “proved” his theory. Interestingly, the same correlation doesn’t exist when the remaining countries are added. 

So, if this correlation is false, why are doctors still telling you to avoid fat and cholesterol? Shouldn’t they know better? Disappointingly, the research and information doctors receive is from the same source as the general public: drug companies. At the end of the day, the health industry is a game of politics and drug companies will do whatever it takes to make a dollar (or millions).

Despite the influence of drug companies on the health industry, the evidence is very clear: saturated fat does not cause heart disease. I won’t bore you with the science, but here are a couple of notable studies: 

  • Since WWII, the Japanese have been eating more and more animal fat, yet fewer and fewer of them die from heart attacks. Actually, mortality from most diseases decreased in Japan as they ate more animal fat. 
  • In the USA between 1930 and 1960, mortality from heart disease increased 10 times, while the consumption of animal fat decreased. 
  • Dozens of studies conducted in different countries show that people with heart disease eat the same amount of fat and cholesterol as people without any heart disease. The studies do show, however, that eating vegetable oils and margarine is strongly associated with heart disease. 
  • Many studies show that in old age, cholesterol is protective. 

 

The Health Benefits of Cholesterol 

Did you know that cholesterol found in foods has virtually no effect on our blood cholesterol levels? It may be shocking, but it’s the truth. In fact, humans cannot live without cholesterol. Cholesterol is vital to our cell membranes by making the walls of the cell firm and helping to communicate with other cells. Cholesterol protects us from infections, memory loss, and many diseases, like multiple sclerosis and other nervous system diseases. We need cholesterol to produce hormones, regulate our metabolism, energy production, mineral assimilation, and muscle, bone and brain formation. It is an important part of bile production, necessary for absorbing fat soluble vitamins, including Vitamin D, which most of us are deficient in. Recent research also shows eating full-cream dairy products can cure infertility in women. 

Low levels of blood cholesterol has been repeatedly recorded in criminals who have committed murder and other violent crimes, people prone to suicide, people with aggressive social behavior and those with low self-control. Clearly, cholesterol is not only essential for our physical health, but also our mental health.  

Arguably, the most important function of cholesterol is it’s healing properties. Cholesterol is sent to any area of damage or inflammation to begin repair. Healing involves the birth, growth, and functioning of the immune system and other cells that are made out of cholesterol and fats. So, when a blood test finds high cholesterol, we must look at what is causing damage to the body. While atherosclerosis is purely an inflammatory condition, cholesterol is often blamed as the cause- simply because it is found at the site of the crime. 

Causes of Inflammation in the Body

If cholesterol is a response to inflammation in the body, what is the root cause of inflammation?

 

  • Man-made chemicals, like personal care products, cleaning chemicals, detergents, prescriptions, over the counter drugs. 
  • Smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke 
  • Industrial pollution 
  • Pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers 
  • Tap water containing chlorine, fluoride, nitrates, and other contaminants 
  • Processed foods 
  • Various infectious microbes 
  • Gut dysbiosis 
  • Nutritional deficiencies 
  • Lack of sun exposure 
  • Sedentary lifestyle and habits
  • Excessive stress 
  • Free radicals 
  • Electromagnetic Pollution 
  • Radiation 

 

In a healthy body, after any injury or increased inflammation, cholesterol is sent to the scene to help the body repair itself. However, in the case of atherosclerosis, inflammation never stops. Why is this? 

Metabolic Syndrome. 

Metabolic Syndrome is defined as a cluster of health conditions that occur together, like increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. This increasingly common disease is due to our overconsumption of processed carbohydrates and high levels of glucose/insulin. As a result, inflammation increases and leads to atherosclerosis. Truthfully, heart disease was basically nonexistent before the invention of processed foods. 

How to Prevent Heart Disease

Given the increasing presence of heart disease in today’s society, what steps can we take to prevent this dangerous condition?

 

  • Stop eating processed foods, including breakfast cereals, wheat, processed sugar and salt, trans fats (vegetable oils), and soy. 
  • Eat fresh nature-made foods, traditionally-prepared: 
    • Fatty meats (avoid lean meats) and high-cholesterol and pro-healing foods, like: 
      • Animal brains 
      • Organ meats 
      • Caviar 
      • Cod Liver Oil 
      • Fresh egg yolk 
      • Butter 
      • Cold-water fish and shellfish 
      • Lard 
      • Meat and bone-stock 
    • Fish & shellfish 
    • Fresh fruit 
    • Raw, organic dairy 
    • Unprocessed nuts/seeds 
    • Soaked/sprouted beans/lentils 
    • Natural fats 
    • Fermented/sprouted, whole, unprocessed grains 
    • Unprocessed honey and dried fruit 
    • Fermented foods 
    • Freshly-pressed fruit and vegetable juices 
  • Stop polluting our bodies with man-made chemicals, like house-cleaning products, cosmetics, herbicides, pollutants, and more. 

Fundamentally, our bodies are miraculous creations that heal and repair themselves, as long as we allow them to do so. When our bodies become ill from polluting ourselves with chemicals, processed foods, and unnatural lifestyle habits, it becomes inflamed. Consequently, it calls for help with signals of pain, stiffness, and unpleasant digestive symptoms. Instead of supporting our bodies with what it needs to heal, we turn to prescription drugs to stop the pain, which only silences the body’s cry for help. 

What would happen if we started treating the root cause of inflammation, instead of simply masking symptoms? I’m willing to bet heart disease and inflammation would actually start to decrease, and as a result, our society, as a whole, would gain a better quality of life. 

If you’re looking for help to reduce inflammation and improve your overall health, I would love to chat with you. Book a free discovery call, here!

 

LESSONS IN WELLNESS FROM TONY ROBBINS

Last weekend I attended the Tony Robbin’s Unleash Your Power Within conference in San Jose, CA, along with 12,000 other people.  This was my first Tony Robbins conference, and I had no idea what to expect.  Going into it, I was nervous, excited, and terrified all at the same time, and I came out of it feeling inspired, motivated, and most importantly, free. Even now, a week later, I feel more free than I’ve ever felt in my whole life.  I feel the freedom to completely be myself, speak from my heart, and love unconditionally.  I’m also feeling (mostly) free from all of my old limiting beliefs that were holding me back from achieving what I want in life.

 

It’s challenging to describe exactly what went down in the 4 days I was there, but there was a lot of tears, jumping around, dancing, hugs, and laughter with strangers.  Oh, and yeah, I walked on fire!!!  The most important lesson I took away from the weekend is that we all have the power to create our dream lives and it all begins with what we put our focus on and staying in “peak state” using physiology.  The only thing holding us back is ourselves.

 

Tony shared so many gems, and I couldn’t help but see how all of his teachings relate to our own wellness journeys:

 

EXECUTION TRUMPS KNOWLEDGE.

Knowledge is not power…it’s potential power.  You can read all of the books, blogs and Instagram captions about diet plans, exercise programs, wellness, and self-love, but the power comes only when you actually execute those plans.

 

IN ORDER TO GROW, YOU MUST GET UNCOMFORTABLE.

The obvious link here is exercise.  In order to get muscle to grow, you have to stress it.  If you’re in the gym doing the same things day in and day out, and not challenging yourself, you’re not getting stronger.  Movement and exercise play a huge role in Tony’s teachings. In just getting moving, you have to power to change your state!

 

IT’S NOT ABOUT THE GOAL, IT’S ABOUT WHAT THE GOAL WILL GIVE YOU.

So many of my clients come to me with a weight loss goal, but what they really want is beyond that –  joy, confidence, energy and vitality for life.  And the truth is, they can access those feelings with or without the weight loss.  Seeking those feelings instead of the weight loss leads them to make better overall healthy choices.  And 9 times out of 10, if we choose to live our life in that way, the weight suddenly falls off.

 

WE GET WHAT WE TOLERATE.

This obviously holds true for all areas of life, but especially when it comes to our health.  If we’re overweight, lethargic, not working out, and eating unhealthy foods, we’re doing that because that’s what we’re choosing to tolerate.  But if we make the decision to no longer tolerate that, then there is no longer a choice about how to live our lives.  Raise your standards!

 

THE 2 MILLIMETER RULE.

Tony uses the metaphor of golf, but I like the metaphor of two boats sailing the sea.  Both boats are sailing in the same direction, but one of the boats makes a slight 2 millimeter turn.  You might not be able to notice the very small directional change in the beginning, but eventually the boats will be so far away from each other.  Small changes over time make a big difference.  Don’t underestimate them.

 

TURN YOUR SHOULDS INTO MUSTS.

Turn all of the shoulds (work out, eat healthier, meditate) in your life into musts.  A should never gets done, but the second you make the decision that you MUST do something, you will find a way to make it work no matter what.

 

UNCOVER AND CHANGE YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS.

Whether we know it or not, we all have limiting beliefs that are stopping us from getting to our health goals.  Tony says that we don’t get what we want, we get what we believe we are.  Some common limiting beliefs are:  I’m big-boned, I have to eat 3 meals a day, I can’t lose weight, I’ve tried everything, I’m not strong enough, I don’t have time, I’m too old, I have too much going on right now, I need more protein, I can’t survive on salads, I have no energy because of this or that chronic illness, etc.  If we can uncover which beliefs we’re holding onto, we can change them to a more empowering belief that will support and help us achieve our goals.

IF YOU WANT TO CREATE SOMETHING, OBSESS OVER IT.

Think about the last time you accomplished something you’re proud of.  Chances are you became completely committed and obsessed with it, leading you to take massive action to get to it.  Become obsessed with your health, your workouts, your clean eating, and I guarantee you’ll reach your goals in no time.

 

GET THE BEST COACHING.

Sure you can teach yourself how to get to where you want to goal, but in hiring a coach, you’ll get there 10x quicker!  Remember, I am always here if you want to hire your own wellness coach.  I hired my own health coach in 2017 and it was worth every penny, and I’m currently in the process of hiring a business coach this year.  Coaches are one of the best investments you can make!

 

FINAL WORDS.

Tony had a way of saying things that really resonated with me.  One thing he said on the first day of the conference was “You don’t need food for energy.  It’s your psychology that’s fucked up, and you’re trying to fill it with food.”  As someone who regularly practices fasting, I completely and whole-heartedly agree with this.

 

Did any of these lessons resonate with you?  Comment below and let me know!