Looking fresh faced and glowy in the dead of summer is challenging. With the heat comes the drab makeup and the blah, dehydrated skin. In the sweltering dead of summer heat, nothing feels quite like a refreshing face mist. Spritzing your face with a homemade infused face mist is cooling and refreshing on a hot day, post workout or as a pick-me-up for that mid-afternoon drop off.
Face mists make your skin less dull and more dewy, providing additional benefits from the botanicals you select for infusing. Traditionally with facial mists that are hydrosol distillations that include the essence of botanicals and endure an involved distillation process. While some store-bought versions use this method, many can also contain synthetic fragrances, alcohol, or other ingredients that can cause dryness and irritation.
Selecting eggs these days can be a bit overwhelming. There’s Free-Range, Organic, Caged, Cage-free, Pasture-Raised. There are brown eggs and white eggs, Omega-3 enriched eggs. Not only are there significant differences in the animal care with these various types of eggs, but in addition, depending on what the hens themselves ate and their access to sunlight, the end result in the eggs we eat, also show drastic nutritional differences, as well. Read on for What You Need to Know About Eggs. Let’s get right to it:
Look at the difference in the color of the yolks from a conventional egg (left), to a pasture-raised egg (right).
The Various Labels – What Do They Mean
Why Are We Talking About Fat?
The reason I write this post, is that even though, for so many us, we have woke to this knowledge and have worked hard to reframe our approach to nutrition and no longer fearing the fat, we still have so much work to do. After many decades of low-fat propaganda, the “fat makes you fat” rhetoric is still so deeply ingrained in the collective psyche. Many people STILL greatly fear fat, even though study after study shows that fat is not only harmless 1http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract but that it is in fact, quite necessary to many important functions in the body. I myself see this fear weekly in my nutrition clients, all over the internet and in my social feeds, at the grocery store, at restaurants, at the gym, etc and of course, all of the many side effects of low fat eating – we HAVE to change this dialogue!!
It is beyond challenging to decide where to even start on such a huge, huge topic. Chatting about dietary fat is a big undertaking and we are going to merely just scratch the surface with this initial post, decoding the myths and where the fat fearmongering began, along with the crucial reasons we need fat in our diet. So, let’s get to the basics.
First and foremost you need to know that fat is a necessity in our bodies. This vital macronutrient provides building blocks for the brain, hormone and cellular membranes throughout the body, it is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K and it is deeply hydrating!
By adequately increasing my healthy fat intake, more than any other change I have made in my lifestyle and diet, I have personally seen profound affects on my health, from my digestion to my skin including chronic hormonal and cystic acne, from my moods to my ability to concentrate, hormonal imbalances to libido (YUP!). Fat is a powerful anti-aging food, both internally and externally. Consumed as part of a healthful diet, fatty acids (the building blocks of fat) help stabilize blood sugar – allowing your body to release fat, protect it’s lean muscle, and surge with energy. When our focus is on creating meals that are rich not only in healthy fats, but also quality well-sourced proteins and fibrous green leafy veggies, we can thank especially the healthy fats for keeping us satiated. Staying satisfied for longer means so you won’t find yourself searching for the junky, processed snacks in between these healthy, whole food meals.
1. ↑ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
Cooking Fats and Oils: Which to Include and Which to Avoid
Fats and oils are a necessary part of cooking, but using the right ones are down right essential to living a healthy and vital life. Just like rest of what we eat, a good rule of thumb with fats and oils is to always opt for organic and you should avoid overly-processed, highly refined fats and basically anything that your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as traditional food (i.e. basically ALL highly-refined vegetable and seed oils) – but to be frank, there is a lot more to the story! Not only do the types and quality of fats and oils matter – but so does their proper use. Honoring the various smoke points and the molecular structure of the different fats is the best way to insure that you are using them appropriately, without causing damage to the fats and in turn, negative affects on our health.
Here is a quick resource guide including the various uses for each:
2016 will go down in the books as an intensely challenging and pivotal year for a great deal of us. If you too are counting down the days to starting over in 2017 with a vow to change and have a better year, let’s reflect on these resolutions and how to make them last. Mentally we need that idea of pressing a magic reset button in hope that we can leave our baggage behind in a four digit number and wash our hands of it. By the end of the year it’s as if our candle has been burned at both ends and we grasp at the belief of starting over at the stroke of midnight.
I have learned through my own ritual work with the moon and seasons that everything is on a cycle and having our own practice to mark the beginning and end of them can help you manifest things you want to attract and release that which no longer serves you. The moon expands, gets full and bright and then retracts until its dark only to start the cycle again. In the fall, the leaves die and fall off of the trees, everything retreats and goes within for Winter and emerges with new life and birth in Spring. We are not immune to these natural cycles. It’s why we focus so much on the New Year! But before we can make room to bring new things into our lives, we must release the old and clear out the clutter. I am going to help you set this intention for release through a simple ritual I have experienced results with.
I am excited to bring you the first post in an ongoing series from Brook Albrigo, a Shamanic Reiki Master and very dear friend of mine. You have heard me speak previously about the very important roles that reiki and the subtle body have played in my healing journey, I have also shared very specific details of healing sessions with Brook. Brook will be joining us here monthly to share more about reiki and the strong influence in which energetics can play in healing, including simple tips to restore balance and promote vitality and wellness.
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When will the rollercoaster of emotions from the past few weeks stop? The severe divisions, the resulting solidarity being shown in protests and by people vowing to stand up for one another, the complete shock of realizing how profoundly the beliefs of others can potentially affect us. If the current events have left you raw, breaking down crying at the grocery store, or fumbling for control of your anger or incredulousness perhaps what I have to share can help you get your bearings amidst absorbing other peoples’ emotions and amplifying this difficult time. The beauty of this is that we are all waking up to just how deeply connected we are to one another.
In hindsight, as I was in Yosemite national park a week before election day, the powerful flow of the storm fed waterfalls and rivers were a premonition. I gathered strength from the waters, mountains and trees not knowing I was being prepared for the events that were to follow. As a shamanic healer I use a technique known as Nature divination- the practice of connecting to elements in nature to receive guidance. Messages come from particular nature spirits -like trees, plants, mountains or waterfalls. We believe in shamanism that everything has a spirit living inside of it that we can communicate with if we learn how to listen. On my solo adventures on hiking trails, I gave attention to each rock, tree and animal; tuned to receive messages. Lucky for me, I was alone and spared the curiosity of fellow hikers wondering why I was talking to a tree!
I was intensely concerned with the violence and conflict at Standing Rock in North Dakota and while the guidance I sought was regarding that situation, I found it to be relevant to what we are experiencing today as a human collective and have felt comforted by receiving this knowledge. When we feel helpless, sometimes that is a sign that we need to re-center and remember that we are part of a higher calling, a bigger picture, and we should listen to our guides that are right in front of us everyday. This is how I was able to maintain the past week and be of assistance to others.
I realized the tools and techniques needed to ground and care for ourselves may get lost in the daily shuffle of life but they are always there and I have created a simple list of self-care rituals to help us all through. We just need to decide our well being is worth making the time for and be willing to get a little bit out of our comfort zones.
On the regular I find myself saddened and unpleasantly surprised by the lack of easily accessible, reliable information and data concerning food, nutrition and health. Truthfully, looking back, it’s amazing how little I myself knew, before I started down this long, self-initiated, ongoing path of nutritional education and empowerment of the past 10+ years. I am often reminded these days that I live in a bubble of sorts, surrounding myself virtually and otherwise with bloggers, healers, nutritionists and content creators whose lifestyles mirror my own. Reading books, listening to podcasts and following doctors and researchers creating and sharing important information and research about health and nutrition. I tend to forget and maybe I even take for granted, how much I do know and often I find myself making sweeping assumptions that everyone else knows most of it, too. I know for so many of you this post and this information is old news, it’s a rerun, you’ve heard it before. But if this post reaches even one new person, if I can send my new nutritional clients, who are still cooking with vegetable oils, here to learn more, then it’s a success!
As I enter the homes of my nutritional clients, as well as my close friends and family members, the number one thing I see among their food choices, that I immediately want to remove from their pantries and toss aggressively into the garbage: is vegetable and seed oils. In my opinion, vegetable oils are far worse than any carbs, white sugar or high fructose corn syrup. This deadly, Frankenstein-eque, lab-created “food” (if you can even call it that) is wreaking more havoc on people’s health than possibly anything else and sadly it’s being overlooked by so many. Much of this comes from Western medical practitioners who are woefully uneducated in nutrition or those whose nutritional education is sorely dated, built on antiquated and debunked health myths of previous generations. Or maybe it’s the fact that big food industry in our country has a large stake in corn and soy production and these have become, by far, the cheapest crops we are growing, thanks to government subsidies. Take a look at most packaged and processed foods and I can almost guarantee you will find one or both of these foods somewhere on the label.
The edible oil industry in our country, “Big Ag” and their marketing “geniuses” sought to demonize tropical oils and other saturated fats and in turn, in the same breath to promote their own vegetable oils, like corn and soybean oil. This great movement toward the excessive use of polyunsaturated fats and the demonization of saturated fats came with the advent of the “Lipid Hypothesis” — which featured fraudulent research made by a terrible scientist named Ancel Keys who made unsubstantiated claims that saturated fat and cholesterol were the cause of heart disease and ignored research and data that didn’t support his argument. We can see how well all that has gone!
The fats used in this study were hydrogenated, processed fats, known to be extremely irritating to the body, particularly the vascular system. Cholesterol acts as a healing agent to repair and protect the arteries and veins. Therefore, the more irritation, the more cholesterol will mobilize to save the day! Research now shows us that dietary cholesterol intake has VERY LITTLE to do with over all cholesterol levels, so this part of the theory was off target as well. Today, the Lipid Hypothesis continues to be promoted by most medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies, as well as the modern food processing giants, who profit from such flawed research. Saturated fatty acids from healthy sources nourish the vascular system, enhance immune function, protect the liver from certain toxins (including alcohol), aid in calcium absorption, and increase cellular membrane integrity. Keep in mind that heart disease was considered a rare condition before the 1920’s, but spiked dramatically from 1910 to 1970 as Americans began consuming less saturated animal fats and increasing amounts of vegetable fats in the form of margarine, shortening and adulterated, refined oils of all types. Our not-so-distant ancestors consumed healthy sources of saturated fats each and every day with no adverse health effects whatsoever! 1Fats: Safer Choices for Your Frying Pan and Your Health By Caroline Barringer, CHFS, NTP
After going through the Nutritional Therapy program at the NTA to become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner I have found myself more inspired than ever to want to help people, to share what I know and to do whatever I can to help make a change in our health, our very broken food system and to empower people to make the very best choices for themselves and their families. So let’s start with one of the most important topics: 4 Reasons to Avoid Vegetable and Seed Oils!
What are Vegetable Oils?
Vegetable oils are oils that are extracted from seeds, germs or beans, such as corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, or rapeseed (canola oil), etc. Non existent until the early-1900’s, vegetable oils are one of the most unnatural “foods” you can find. Vegetable oils are PUFAs, which stands for Poly-Unsaturated Fatty Acid. In chemical terms, that means that the fatty acid has more than one (poly) double bond in the carbon chain. They’re unsaturated because they’re missing out on what saturated fatty acid has — hydrogen atoms. In a sense, that makes the bonds sort of incomplete. So, imagine a chain of links that are sort of missing a joint or two, on each and every link — it wouldn’t be very strong or stable. These messed up and broken chains make for highly unstable fats that are prone to oxidation in the presence of heat and light, during cooking, sitting on the shelf in the grocery store or in your kitchen pantry and even in your body and they turn rancid, which our body reacts terribly to. Our body attempts to respond to and neutralize the oxidization by utilizing its stores of antioxidants. This oxidization process causes cell mutation, which we see in chronic inflammation, the source of most of the worst illness plaguing our society, cancer, heart disease, etc.
It’s really pretty simple. Because of their instability, and the negative effects on the body’s systems these oils have in excess, PUFA are just plain bad.
The most common vegetable oils on the market are:
- soybean oil
- canola oil (rapeseed oil)
- sunflower oil
- corn oil
- cottonseed oil
- “vegetable” oil
- safflower oil
- peanut oil
- grapeseeed oil
- rice bran oil
- shortening (made from above oils)
- fake butter or spreadable butter-type spreads (I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter, Earth Balance, Smart Balance)
Thankfully less and less people are cooking with these oils at home these days, however unfortunately it’s still not enough to just not buy these cooking oils at the store. Be aware that many/most processed foods contain these oils so you have to be sure to read labels. Salad dressings, condiments like mayo, sauces, crackers, cookies, chips… check your ingredients. You can also bet that most restaurants are cooking in vegetable oils, because they are so cheap! Unless a restaurant specifically states otherwise, their fried foods are all cooked in soybean, cottonseed or some other highly toxic vegetable oil.
(Note the term “vegetable oil” does NOT apply to healthy plant oils like olive oil or coconut oil, which are extremely healthful)
4 Reasons to Avoid Vegetable Oils
1. ↑ Fats: Safer Choices for Your Frying Pan and Your Health By Caroline Barringer, CHFS, NTP
I am so excited to introduce you all to Brook Albrigo, a very dear friend of mine. You have heard me speak previously about the very important roles that reiki and the subtle body have played in my healing journey, I have also shared very specific details of healing sessions with Brook. I am very honored to announce that Brook will be joining us here monthly to share more about reiki and the strong influence in which energetics can play in healing, including simple tips to restore balance and promote vitality and wellness.
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If someone had told me 6 years ago that I would become a Shamanic Reiki Master I would’ve laughed in their face and told them to get their head checked. Those words just didn’t exist in my vocabulary until the day, immobile and injured, I sought physical pain relief and found healing on an extraordinary level.
The path that followed was one I never for one moment felt that I chose, but rather that it chose me. I had to surrender to it or be dragged kicking and screaming. Either way, THIS was happening!
Before I discovered healing through energy work, I was completely comfortable in my routine of self destructive and toxic co-dependent ways. I was living in New York City, working in the beauty industry, sometimes working weeks without a day off. I was convinced all the sacrifice would pay off – it’s all part of the ‘city hustle’ and you can sleep when you’re dead, right? The stress and disregard for self care was so out of control that I had developed insomnia, digestive issues, a constant eye twitch and I couldn’t calm my nerves enough to take the subway home without at least two drinks in my system.
Looking back and knowing what I know now, this was all just a major distraction. A diversion I had unknowingly created to avoid the real issues underneath the surface. I was more willing to sacrifice my health, happiness and overall well-being than face the hard truth – I simply did not love myself. Even worse, I hated myself. I had been on antidepressants for years trying to numb this feeling of never being enough or worthy. I was adept at smiling and pretending that I had it all together, but deep down was this great deal of self loathing and suffering. While initially antidepressants did help me get through a tough time, I had come to rely on them for too long and wanted to eventually come off, but did not think I was capable. All of these circumstances combined with my Saturn Return (an event that happens to all of us about every 28—30 years which brings about major change), the perfect storm was created.
Read the rest of this entry »
I received compensation from Alcon for the below post, but all opinions expressed here are mine.
Glasses and contact lenses have been a part of much of my life. When we moved to California over three years ago, I actually had to give up wearing contact lenses as I began to suffer from dryness, allergies and itchy eyes – nearly daily. This certainly complicated things as wearing glasses in the kitchen, dealing with the steam of the oven or the dishwasher fogging up the lenses, can complicate things while cooking. Plus, glasses while at the gym or yoga practice, sliding off your sweaty face is also annoying and cumbersome. After some changes to my lifestyle, managing ongoing allergies and getting back to tip top eye health, I am back to wearing contacts again and I am loving my new DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses. Daily disposable contact lenses are totally new for me, but I am loving the freedom to enjoy my on-the-go lifestyle without the hassle of glasses and I love that each day, my contact lenses feel fresh and new. If you would like to try them, visit DAILIESChoice.com to learn about the Alcon DAILIES® Choice Mail-In or Online Rebate Offer and how to save up to $200 on a year’s supply of DAILIES TOTAL1® contact lenses!*
Research shows that much like the rest of our bodies, what you eat can also help support eye health as you age. Of course, as always, it is recommended that you eat plenty of fruits and vegetables rich in color, like orange, yellow, red and dark green as these are particularly likely to include the vitamins great for eye health. Foods rich in antioxidants are also known to help protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the leading cause of blindness among older Americans; as well as cataracts and other eye-related conditions. It is documented that people who supplement their diet with Vitamin C, antioxidants, zinc, beta-carotene, and vitamin E experienced about a 25% reduction in risk of developing serious AMD1https://www.macular.org/antioxidant-vitamins-and-zinc-areds.
Get a More Restful Night’s Sleep with Bedtime Yoga and a Boosted Sleepy Time Tea
My yoga practice, while ever evolving, has played a role in my health and healing for about 10 years now. The beauty of the practice, whether it’s a powerful 90 minute vinyasa flow or a 30 minute restorative session of just a few long-holding poses – yoga has the power to refresh, to heal and to replenish the body.
I have shifted from the more powerful, long, morning vinyasa practices of my past to instead beginning my days with strength training sessions at the gym in the morning, with light yoga asana weaved throughout and these days I try to always finish my day with a little restorative yoga before bed. I have a new found appreciation for yoga’s power to ease me into a restful and quality sleep, through deep breathing and the physical release of tension.
No matter what poses you include and no matter the reason you were brought to your mat in the first place, yoga always places an emphasis on the combination and synchronization of breath and movement. This combination activates your parasympathetic nervous system which helps to alleviate stress and calm the body, together these can make a regular bedtime yoga practice a very effective sleep remedy.
Sleep is such an important and often neglected part of our lives, but this is when our body repairs on a cellular level, it digests and detoxifies, removing toxins, so it’s vital that we be getting 6-8 hours every single night. Maybe you can’t shut your brain off or maybe you toss and turn all night struggling to get comfortable. Whatever the reason, there are studies galore that prove the increased health risks associated with sleeplessness.
Give yourself 10 minutes before bedtime to include this simple sequence of gentle poses paired with this boosted sleepy time tea featuring Vital Proteins‘ Collagen, to let go of your day and prepare for a lovely night’s rest. You can even get yourself set up right on the bed, so you can stretch it out and roll right under the covers for your savasana.
Before your start your bedtime yoga ritual…
Digestion 101: A North to South Process
Here we are, at the end of the road. The large intestine is the final step in the process of digestion. By this point you probably more than understand the concept of digestion being a north to south process. We have talked about it at length starting first the brain and the mouth, and the importance of being in a parasympathetic state and properly chewing your foods, then of course the stomach and the dire need for proper hydrochloric acid production, how the accessory organs, the pancreas, liver and gallbladder continue the process of digestion, releasing bile, enzymes, various hormones and allowing the small intestines to finish digestion but more importantly do it’s very important job of assimilating nutrients and finally last but not least, the large intestine.
How it Should Work
The large intestine, or the bowel, is compromised of 3 sections, the cecum, colon and the rectum. The leftover chyme from the small intestines, passes through the illeocecal valve and first into the ascending colon. At this point in a healthy digestive system, what is left as chyme (the digested food) after the small intestines, is indigestible fibers, lots of water, sloughed off cells and bile. The large intestine is all about absorption and recycling.
As in the esophagus and the small intestine, the contents of the large intestine are pushed forward by a sequence of muscular contractions called peristalsis (a type of motility or muscular movement). After passing through the illececal valve the remains travels from the ascending colon, across the transverse colon where waste forms, into the descending colon, to the sigmoid colon and then the stool moves out of the body.
Digestion 101: A North to South Process
As we continue more south in digestion, after first the brain and the mouth, then the stomach we move from the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum and it’s interaction with the accessory organs, the pancreas, liver and gallbladder and into the function of the small intestine.
After we leave the duodenum, the small intestine is less about the actual process of digestion, from a sense of breaking down the food we eat and it is more about the assimilation and absorption of nutrients.
The first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, acts more as a part of the stomach than the small intestine and the jejunum, ileum and villi are responsible for assimilation.
How it Should Work
The small intestines have a dual role as an organ and a gland.
As we talked about in the previous post, The Accessory Organs – The Pancreas, Gallbladder and Liver, the small intestine releases mucous to keep things moving and it also releases two hormones: secretin and cholecystokinin.
Secretin stimulates the pancreas to release bicarbonate to lower the pH of the chyme and pancreatic juice. The CCK stimulates the gallbladder to release bile (to read more about these processes please see post #3).
By the time that the chyme has left the duodenum, thanks to the processes of the accessory organs, the chyme should be almost entirely digested.
- The carbohydrates have been broken down into glucose molecules
- Proteins are broken down into amino acids and polypeptides
- Fats are broke down into fatty acids and glycerol molecules
Peristalsis, a series of wave-like muscle contractions moves these absorbable molecules into the jejunum and the ileum, the middle and end parts of the intestine.
Within the small intestines, we have millions of villi, tiny finger-like projections that protrude from the epithelial lining of the small intestines. These villi and their microvilli absorb the nutrient molecules directly into the bloodstream, where they are carried throughout the entire body.
Digestion 101: A North to South Process
As we move further south from the stomach, while the small intestines are next in line for the food, but we first take a small pause/detour to discuss “the accessory organs of digestion”. The pancreas, liver and gallbladder, each play a very important role in the digestive process and each can be affected with their own dysfunction as well.
The stomach, small intestines and large intestines are all part of the system of digestion we call “the alimentary canal”, “the gut tube” or “digestive tube”. Between each of these organs we have valves or sphincters that keep the food where it is supposed to be and move it along when the time and the environment is right. These accessory organs are not a part of this tube or system but they play a major role in the process.
There is a synergistic and symbiotic relationship with the small intestines and these accessory organs, so we will discuss first how these play a role before we move into the function of the rest of the GI tract.
The duodenum is the start of the small intestine, but it almost acts more as part of the stomach, in it’s roles of breaking things down further playing a larger part in the process of digestion, vs the rest of the small intestine being less of a digestive organ and more about absorption or assimilation.
THE PANCREAS, GALLBLADDER AND LIVER:
How It’s Supposed to Work
When the pH of the chyme (the digested food moving from the stomach into the small intestines) is in it’s normal range, 1.5 – 3.0 , which we talked about in the stomach post. This is very acidic and necessary to the stomach performing it’s duties. As it hits the pyloric valve and into the duodenum with it’s proper pH, this is where the roles of the accessory organs come into play. This highly acidic chyme is what triggers these functions.
The duodenum no longer wants this highly acidic chyme and in order for the enzymes to work correctly it has to take that chyme to a neutral pH of 7.0. This happens by way of sodium bicarbonate, which is released by the pancreas to alkalinize the chyme. This release of sodium bicarbonate is signaled by secretin, a hormone released by the small intestines, which as you might have already guessed, is triggered by the (proper) acidic level of the chyme, that pH of 1.3 – 5. (Ahem, here is that reminder to look north, if the stomach isn’t producing proper HCl, then none of this will function properly, either!!)
Digestion 101: A North to South Process
As we continue more south in digestion, after the brain and the mouth, next up we have the stomach. Before we get started, I wanted to remind you that you will constantly hear me reiterate as we go through this step-by-step process to “always look north” and I want you to truly understand what this means, exactly. I am referring to the fact that often times dysfunction that presents itself from further down the line, is actually due to a malfunction more north. For example, as you will read about in this second post and as we talked about briefly in the first, (the brain and the mouth), if you are eating in a stressful state and your body doesn’t make the necessary switch to that parasympathetic mode (rest and digest), then before your stomach ever had a chance to function properly, the brain basically threw it under the bus. So, while the symptoms may present themselves in the stomach (or even further south) it may not make sense to supplement, treat or approach the symptoms specifically until we instead move more north to investigate if these malfunctions are treatable with just some simple lifestyle and mindset shifts.
This is not at all to say that all digestive dysfunction starts in the brain, that would make my job and my own healthy journey so much simpler. In fact, there are many reasons why dysfunction can exist, as you will see, but beginning the investigative process at the start, way up north, allows us to rule out the possible, more simple resolutions before we move deeper and into more challenging treatments.
How it’s Supposed to Work
After we chew our food, it turns into what we call a “bolus”. The bolus passes through the esophagus and the cardiac valve (the lower esophageal sphincter) and the bolus then enters our stomach, At this stage gastric juices are released. I like to think of the stomach as a blender. Mucous, pepsin and hydrochloric acid are all released for the “churning and burning” stage of digestion. Both mechanical and chemical breakdown happens at this stage.
The hydrochloric acid (HCl) being the most important of these gastric juices as it creates an acidic environment that disenfects the food and aids in the breakdown. Despite popular belief the stomach is absolutely meant to be acidic. In a healthy individual the pH of the stomach during digestion should drop to 1.5 to 3. We have a thick mucosal layer in our stomach, that acts as a barrier that protects the cells from the acid.
As many of you know, my digestion has been the source of much on and off distress over many years of my life. While I found the greatest relief by going 100% gluten-free after discovering an intolerance over 11 years ago, my digestion in the time since, has still not been without challenge and discomfort and at times, straight pain. As I began the journey to heal my body of my newly discovered autoimmune condition last year, we first needed to address my still, not-so-great digestion. This foundational approach to the healing of consequences, such as autoimmune conditions, by first treating digestive dysfunction – is a common approach, especially for functional and naturopathic doctors and nutritionists, who know that without properly functioning digestion, we cannot expect to ever find health and vitality. Without proper digestion we can be sure that we aren’t going to adequately assimilate the necessary nutrients through the food we are eating, no matter how healthy we eat and no matter what supplements or medications that we take. In working with a naturopathic doctor, we discovered early last year that I was struggling with leaky gut, and even found at the start of this year, after a year of dealing with the leaky gut, yet still not feeling 100%, that I had an unwelcome parasite and an excess of pathogenic bacteria (both likely the results of having a leaky gut, for who knows how long). It’s been a long year, to say the least.
Through the process of my own personal journey, I have and I continue to learn so much about digestion. This personal, ongoing path towards healing and all of the knowledge and know-how I have collected along the way, is what ultimately prompted me to go back to school to become a certified nutritional therapist. I wanted to truly learn and understand all of this in much deeper and fuller way, to allow me to not only continue to help and heal myself and my loved ones, but to also share this knowledge with others and hopefully help them help themselves, in the process.
So much of what we have been learning in school, about nutrition and more specifically, digestion, has really struck home for me. Much of what we cover are very simple concepts that I truly believe most people need to understand, and support – all of this ultimately has inspired me to share with you guys more about the process of digestion! I know so very many of you, too, are plagued by these varying epidemic levels of dysfunction and I want to empower you with the knowledge to overcome them.
In this series of posts I am going to break down the north to south process of digestion, covering how proper function should occur and also discussing the typical dysfunctions that can derail this process along the pathway. I am also going to offer advice, tips, foods, supplements and other remedies, both traditional and not, to hopefully bring you healing.
Digestion 101: A North to South Process
Digestion is a north to south process, it begins in the brain and ends in elimination. More often than not, while we feel the signs and symptoms of poor digestion further down the line, in the stomach or the upper or the lower GI, simply treating those symptoms with band-aid-like approaches, natural or not, likely won’t get to the root of the problem. To properly address any digestive dysfucntion and truthfully many other nutritional deficiencies, dysfunctions, illness, allergies, etc – we must first start up north, acknowledging possible dysfunction and continue moving south until we address all possible culprits.
Just as proper digestion is a north to south process, so is dysfunction. So, to properly understand and diagnose digestive dysfunction, we have to start all the way at the top, up north in the brain. Yes, the brain is one of THE most crucial elements of digestion. One of the most important take-aways, I hope this first post gives you, is an understanding that remedying digestive malfunction and dysfunction doesn’t always rely on supplements and major dietary changes, oftentimes if can be simple lifestyle changes that can make all the difference in the world. All of the tips I offer in this first post, won’t cost you a dollar, you don’t need to track down supplements or special foods and in fact, you can start today. So, let’s peel back the layers of digestion, before we supplement our way out and instead, let’s support the process as it’s supposed to happen.
As a side-note, these northern-most points in the digestive process are probably my most favorite to cover, they are the starting points of the entire process, but they also require so little, in terms of support.