This is the third Happy Hormones post in our Hormone-Focused Series from Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Brynn D’Avello. I suggest reading the first post The First Step to Happy Hormones and then the second post where we tackle how Blood Sugar Imbalance Affects Your Hormones before you dive into this post covering the Importance of Digestion to Hormone Balance.
As we discussed in the previous post in this series, as important and crucial as blood sugar regulation is to hormone balance in this latest installment we will discuss how digestion is a very, very close second. Since I know Beth has done a killer job breaking down the digestive process in her Digestion 101 series I am only going to touch on the highlights…. with a very special emphasis on the liver.
Digestion is a North-to-South Process, and to help strengthen it effectively we must naturally start at the top and work our way down. Most of us would assume that the first step to digestion is in the mouth, but you actually have to go a little bit higher than that. The brain. To activate salivary enzymes your brain must be engaged. That’s why your mouth waters when you smell something delicious. It’s getting the signal that food is coming its way, and saliva, in addition to chewing thoroughly, helps start the breakdown of food into useable nutrients. (You can read more here about the roles that our brain and mouth play in digestion) Once our food gets to the stomach, gastric juices go to work on proteins and then it gets passed on to the small intestine. Here is where the gallbladder kicks in. Bile is secreted to emulsify the fats in our food to assimilate the necessary elements, to be used effectively. Without good quality bile, fats are not digested properly. Fats are absolutely critical to the entire endocrine system. Our body cannot produce hormones without fats.
Between Meals Podcast Episode 02 Show Notes:
When it comes to health, I am often hit with loaded questions like: “How Can I Be Healthy?”, “Where Do I Start?” or “How Should I Eat?”
Nutrition and the world of health and wellness can be wildly overwhelming and contradicting. There are so many paths, directions and goals. My answers to these questions will probably surprise you.
In episode two of Between Meals we spend time getting back to basics, we talk about where to start and most importantly the mindset work that I believe is required before you ever even start with changing habits and implementing new approaches to your health.
For now Episode 02 of Between Meals is available here on Soundcloud, you can stream or download. The Between Meals podcast will be on iTunes, Spotify and other podcast feeds and players VERY soon.
If you follow me on Instagram, you probably read a condensed version of this 20 Things NOT Necessary to Being Healthy post in my feed this past week. The response from you all, was absolutely incredible, so many “amens” and “preaches”, loads of “thank you I’ve been feeling this way too” and “I really needed to hear that”. I received countless private messages and emails and so many of you shared my sentiments with your own community – first of all THANK YOU! I am happy to know that my thoughts resonated and also that I am not alone. It’s so easy to get caught up in it all. I also felt, given the response, this rant deserved a post of it’s own, so it would have the opportunity to live on more permanently and hopefully inspire even more folks, to feel free of this thought process and empowered to shift the focus.
I’ve recently been coming to the realization that the world of health and wellness, at certain times, can feel a bit like a “cool kids club”. With our social feeds abundantly filled with “wellness expert”s touting everything from a detox tea that is the answer to your weight loss woes, to diets that will evidently cure all or oils, powders and mushrooms that will make you better, smarter, prettier, more energized and ageless. It’s hitting a tipping point and it’s all so wildly confusing and overwhelming.
Beyond that, having the opportunity every week here in my own community to feed the most humble of meals to the underserved, to those without homes and those without the means, many times, to get themselves a meal of any kind – my focus has really shifted to making health as accessible and inclusive as possible.
Here’s a Reminder / Insider Pro-tip for You –
NOT a SINGLE ONE of these Things are NECESSARY to Living Well and Being Healthy:
11 Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System
Simple, holistic tips to fight illness and strengthen your immunity PLUS what you can do if you do get sick, to fight it quickly.
Go With Your Gut
I can tell you from personal experience that the very best way to ward off chronic illness, colds, flus, infections, allergies, food sensitivities and controlling / avoiding autoimmune disease is to heal and strengthen the gut! With 70-80% of our immune system’s cells occupying our gut, this is home base for our vitality and wellness. Our gut bacteria helps the immune system’s T cells develop—teaching them the difference between a foreign substance and the body’s own tissues. Without these important immune soldiers doing their job to protect us, the nasties get in, they slip by the troops, invade, wage war, take over and it’s not fun!
With years of comprised digestion, intestinal bacterial overgrowth and finally being diagnosed with a parasite, I personally spent a solid decade to 15 years, getting terrible sinus infections, several times a year, every year, most times it then eventually evolved into bronchitis and upper respiratory infections. I got every single strain of every cold, flu and stomach bug that passed through town – I even battled the Swine Flu when that was a thing. On top of all of that, I suffered for many, many years with a variety of environmental allergies – ALL of this stopped when I finally healed my gut and prioritized proper digestion. It’s magical really. But, it’s not. It’s simple.
As you’ll hear echoed many times throughout this article, and if you spend more than about 5 minutes chatting with me at any given time, our gut is vital to our immune health and it’s the control center for our bodies to decide what is friend and what is foe. I highly encourage you to prioritize optimizing your gut, both for the cold and flu season ahead, as well as the future of your overall health and wellness.
Along with tips on strengthening and healing your gut, here are some tips to Naturally Boost Your Immune System:
The First Step to Happy Hormones honors the very delicate balance of our endocrine system by treating dysfunction on a foundational level rather than simply managing or masking symptoms. This is the first post in a Hormone-Focused Series from Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Brynn D’Avello.
My favorite books come from the 1800s, (primarily Jane Austen’s novels), but Brontë, Dumas, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky populate my “pleasure reading” shelves as well. The common outcry of women in literature of that period was, “Oh my poor nerves!” Today’s self-diagnosis is, “My hormones are out-of-whack.” Interestingly, the nervous system and the endocrine (hormone secreting) system work together frequently. Epinephrine and norepinephrine are classified as neurotransmitters and hormones.
When clients come to me for nutritional help to balance their hormones I tell them that it’s not a simple process and will require work on my part to investigate where the imbalance is originating to know how to support the underlying foundations of their body. It also takes commitment on the part of the client to change their habits. Endocrine function is a system of complex relationships. The goal is to support the entire system, not just to manage the symptoms. Each client has their own unique needs, and it is important to lay the right foundation for digestion, hydration, blood sugar regulation, mineral and fatty acid balance through a nutrient-dense diet.
What Are Hormones Exactly?
Basically, they are chemical messengers that carry information and orders to organs in the body. They are targeted for specific cell receptors around the body and are used to keep your body in homeostasis, or in balance. We all know that hormones are a key component in reproduction, and while many of us probably only think about them in relation to PMS hormones are critical in many other body processes. Other functions hormones are responsible for are regulating metabolism and energy balance, glandular secretions, some immune system activities; they play a part in the contraction of smooth and cardiac muscles; they control growth and development, and help establish circadian rhythms.
Much like some of the other basic nutrition topics we’ve been covering recently, I know for many of you, this information on Why to Choose Grass-fed Meat, it may be old news. Feel free to skip on by and wait for the next post, but if this information is new to you or you want a refresher or to learn more, I got you. As you have heard me say, time and time again, every day, every single day, I encounter people outside my little sheltered food/nutrition bubble, who haven’t yet received this information and knowledge that many of us take for granted, being deeply rooted in our daily food choices for some time. Rather than assuming that everyone already knows this stuff, I would rather create simple posts that are easily accessible to them/you to share, inform and empower you with the knowledge to make better decisions for you and your health.
Not all meat is created equal. But, I am sure most of you know that at this point. As you also know from recents posts here on Tasty Yummies, fat can absolutely be an incredibly nutrient rich part of your diet, but this same macronutrient when of the wrong variety, can also cause numerous diseases, inflammation, digestive issues and more. The diet of the animals we eat, can greatly change the fat in it’s tissues (and consequently the meat that we eat), among other nutritional differences. According to a study 1http://www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/research/Review%20Grassfed%20Beef%202010.pdf conducted by California State University’s College of Agriculture, grass-fed beef nutrition includes significantly more omega-3 fatty acids (2 to 4 times more yhan grain-fed) and more conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than grain-fed beef. The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in grain-fed meat is much worse than grass-fed and it’s not because the omega-6 content of beef fat skyrockets with grain feeding; it is however because the omega-3 content is basically nonexistent in the grain-fed animals. Due to the modern, standard American diet (SAD), many people are highly omega-3 deficient and therefore the ratio to bad omega-6 fats is severely imbalanced due to it’s prevalence in a SAD, which can lead to a chronic exacerbated inflammatory response, a general state of systemic inflammation, and the development of the various diseases with an inflammatory root.
Conjugated Linoleic Acid of CLA is a strong polyunsaturated fatty acid that must be obtained from our diets. CLA has been shown to discourage weight gain and build muscle, as well as support metabolic and cellular health by helping to transport fatty acids into the mitochondria and boost immune health. It has even been shown to lower the risk of cancer. 2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941017 High-quality grass-fed beef and butter from healthy, grass-fed cows or other animals are the top sources of CLA.
Grass-fed beef, is also one of the best protein foods around, is also higher in precursors for vitamin A and E and cancer and heart disease-fighting antioxidants compared to grain-fed beef. It is also higher in B vitamins, vitamin K and trace minerals like magnesium, calcium, and selenium. Grass-finished beef has higher proportions of cholesterol neutral stearic fatty acids and less cholesterol-elevating short chain fatty acids, such as myristic and palmitic acid. Grass-fed meat truly shines in the micronutrient profile for one major reason: Grass-fed cows get more nutritious food.
Ideally these animals are grass-fed for their whole life. Only exclusively grass-fed cows live out their entire lives on grassland. The rest may start their lives on open pasture and are then eventually moved to a feedlot. Often meat being sold as “grass-fed” is an animal that was fed grass for a short time, early in it’s life, but finished with grain, to increase weight gain, to fatten them up and reduce costs and increase profitablity. Just 80 days of grain feeding was enough to destroy the omega-3 content of the beef. CLA content plummeted in the same amount of time. The longer the animals were fed grains, the lower the quality of the meat. This is one of the many reasons that 100% grass-fed or grass-fed and grass-finished should be sought out.
Read more about the cost of grass-fed meat and how the labeling of grass-fed animals can be downright deceitful. While the FDA no longer governs this label claim, you should still look for it and additionally look for seals such as American Grassfed or PCO Certified 100% GrassFed for assurance that the claim was verified and means the animals were 100% grass fed and raised on pasture. You can also look for The Certified Grassfed by AGW seal. 3http://greenerchoices.org/2016/12/30/grassfed-general-claim/ Even more reasons to get to know your farmer or rancher and ask the important questions directly to the person that actually knows. As Michael Pollan says “shake the hand that feeds you“!
References [ + ]
1. ↑ http://www.csuchico.edu/grassfedbeef/research/Review%20Grassfed%20Beef%202010.pdf 2. ↑ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941017 3. ↑ http://greenerchoices.org/2016/12/30/grassfed-general-claim/
Is your olive oil the real thing? Can you trust that what you are cooking with is safe? I know you are all concerned about fake, substandard olive oils. We’ve all seen the news reports and media coverage of the market being flooded with olive oils making big health claims, yet many being found to be mislabeled and adulterated with other substandard oils like soybean or canola – it’s SO important to find an olive oil you can trust. There are so many reasons I choose to cook with Terra Delyssa Olive Oil and why I personally stand behind and recommend it, to my nutrition clients and to you, my readers, as well as my very own family.
Terra Delyssa does not hide it’s origin. Their olive oils are one of very few that are actually offered to consumers directly by the farmers / producers. Obtained from the first cold press of freshly hand picked olives grown on farms that have been passed on and run for many generations, cultivating and producing Olive Oil, the traditional way, known to the region of Sfax in Tunisia, situated on the Mediterranean coastline.
Terra Delyssa fully controls their olives from tree to bottle, crushing all of their olives within 24 hours of harvest, testing every single batch in their state of the art laboratory. By honoring of traditional production methods of hand selection and true cold-pressing this keeps the oil’s acidity low, while maintaining it’s high levels of antioxidants and phytonutrients high.
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