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.
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.
References [ + ]
1. ↑ http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2010/01/13/ajcn.2009.27725.abstract
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 overly refined 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
References [ + ]
1. ↑ Fats: Safer Choices for Your Frying Pan and Your Health By Caroline Barringer, CHFS, NTP
If you keep up with me on social media you may probably already know that I not only finished the Nutritional Therapy Association Program in June and graduated, but I totally aced my exams and I am now an officially certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. Woohoo!! I have also already begun seeing a small amount of clients. It’s been a whirlwind of a year and I went ahead and just hit the ground running since graduation – then I realized that I never updated and finalized this series. This is the last post chronically my journey to becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner with the Nutritional Therapy Association, speaking to the final 3 months of the program. I plan to, from here, create one final post that is an FAQ of sorts, that I will continue to update as people reach out to me with questions about my experiences, since sadly I don’t always have the time to reply to each and every email, as much as I would love to. If you have any questions in regards to the program or my certification, please feel free to leave a note here in the comments or reach out via email.
My Path to Becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner – Months 7, 8 & 9
This post continues to share my journey of becoming a Nutritional Therapist with the Nutritional Therapy Association, covering Months 7, 8, and 9, April, May and June. To read more about how I came to selecting this program and to read about Month 1 of the program, see my first post. To read about months 2 and 3, month 4 and months 5 & 6 you can read more at those respected links.
My Path to Becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner – Month 4
This post continues to share my journey of becoming a Nutritional Therapist with the Nutritional Therapy Association, covering Month 4, January. To read more about how I came to selecting this program and to read about Month 1 of the program, see my first post. To read about months 2 and 3, read my second post.
After our first workshop weekend and the holiday break, we hit the ground running at the start of January. We dove straight into Mineral Balance and then Hydration, the final two modules focused on the foundations. The foundations being, Digestion, Blood Sugar Regular Regulation, Fatty Acids, Mineral Balance and Hydration and of course, a properly prepared nutrient-dense, whole food diet. It was nice to finish with hydration, really honing in the classic “last but not least” cliché.
As we have continued to submerge ourselves into the content with the Nutritional Therapy Program, especially the foundations, I am continuing to connect deeply with the NTA’s individualistic approach to nutrition. Honoring that we are all bio-chemical individuals, means that there is no one catch-all diet, plan or protocol for every person. We are all very different. There are certainly constants and research that suggests specific nutritional approaches to be ideal, such as the avoidance of refined sugars, processed foods, hydrogenate oils, etc. As my intuition has always directed me to suggesting that people “nourish their own individuality”, this program really supports my personal approach. It feels good to feel validated and to continue to hone my skills in approaching food, nutrition, and overall health and wellness in this manner. I love that this program teaches a very foundational and functional approach to nutrition, not relying solely on on specific diet or slapping supplements on symptoms, especially those associated with the consequences, as a bandaid! This approach is not just how I live my own life, it is what I feel called to encourage others to do as well! I want to help people find their inner guiding voice and couple that with an arsenal of nutritional knowledge, to be able to intuitively navigate their way towards healing.
I am also continuously grateful for the virtual platform that the NTA program is built on. I have discovered, that I learn so much more effectively when I am able to take in the content at my own speed, when it fits best into my life, vs. the structure of a timed class-setting. I also love that in addition to a virtual class setting, with multiple platforms to reach out to each other, there are three times throughout the program where we gather to have in-person workshop weekends, where we can connect with our fellow students, instructors and previous students, which really gives me something to look forward to.
My Path to Becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner – Months 2 & 3
This post continues to share my journey of becoming a Nutritional Therapist with the Nutritional Therapy Association. To read more about how I came to selecting this program and to read about Month 1 of the program, see my first post.
Months 2 & 3
I am combining months 2 & 3 together, as month 2 (November) was a regular, in-session month but at start of month 3 we had our first intensive in-person workshop weekend, followed by our holiday break.
The intensity and speed at which we were covering the first modules in month 1, has certainly calmed down a bit and with me finally catching up to my classmates (and our curriculum calendar), I am feeling much less pressure. I feel like I can breath and I can really let the content sit with me and permeate a bit more. For what it’s worth, the intensity I am speaking about, these are all things our instructors advised us of, going into the program. So I was certainly aware of this fact from the start and I wasn’t alone in feeling that way, I am sure. The content and reading materials are already starting to click quicker as new topics arise, pulling in previous content that we covered.
Most exciting about these past two months, was our first in-person workshop weekend, where we had the opportunity to meet our fellow classmates, as well as go over the content in person and ask questions of our instructors. Additionally we further honed our skills of client interviewing, analyzing Nutritional Assessment Questionnaires and Food Journals and making nutritional recommendations based on all of these tools and we learned and practiced the hands-on functional evaluation skills, for the modules we had already covered.
If you haven’t researched the NTA or if you’ve never worked with a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner you may not know what the terms Functional Evaluation and Lingual-Neuro Testing refer to:
Functional Evaluations are one of the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner tools for assessing a client’s health. Using the innate connection between nerve endings at skin level and the body’s internal organs, NTP’s can determine where dysfunction is occurring. Reflex points connect to the neuro-vascular and neuro-lymphatic pathways which surround every organ system in the body. When an organ is in stress, these pathways accumulate fluid around them (called venous or lymphatic congestion) to support healing. This congestion results in tenderness of the reflex points.
Lingual-Neuro Testing (LNT) is a valuable biofeedback tool that enables a health care provider to determine the usefulness of a nutritional supplement before it is dispensed to the client. LNT accesses the body’s innate ability to discriminate between what it needs, and what it does not need, in order to correct a specific problem–a weak organ or a nutritional deficiency, for example. This simple and effective technique makes the difference between a generic nutritional therapy plan and a personalized one.
My Path to Becoming a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner
When I started Tasty Yummies, I was never inclined to create a journal of my own personal health journey, so I often refrain from getting super personal with my healing protocols and health challenges. I have consciously avoided flooding these pages with every discovery in my own ever-evolving health and dietary challenges or with every personal plan of action. Without any certification or credentials I often found myself feeling restricted from sharing too much of the self-initiated research I was doing, as I am hyper-aware of the barrage of claims made by bloggers without credible research or science to back it up. Mostly, I have always wanted Tasty Yummies to simply be a safe space to celebrate delicious, nourishing real food, and hopefully, a place to provide inspiration to empower others to take control of their health and to be open to discovering new foods themselves, whatever their restrictions or personal path may be. I have always sought to create a place to share my personal stories when appropriate and to cultivate a virtual connection among a supportive community of open-minded souls.
The fact remains however, that this website and my recipes wouldn’t exist without the many challenges I have experienced in my ongoing journey towards healing. Hidden within my own personal struggles emerged the desire to share, share, share! While none of my issues, in my mind, should be classified as “severe” or life threatening and while I don’t have epic before and after photos from an intense and acute health transformation, I would certainly still consider many of my health struggles to be chronic and some still unresolved. I am quite literally learning right along side many of you.
As a child I dealt with a weakened immune system, allergies and asthma, migraines and troubled digestion. As life moved on, I discovered a severe gluten intolerance, and have now been gluten-free over 10 years – while this major dietary adjustment has certainly helped with some of these symptoms, I continued to suffer. In the early years of my adult life, even after going gluten-free, I struggled with weight gain and acne, chronic sinus infections, lack of energy and so much more, further adjusting of my diet has tackled much of this, but last year I was also diagnosed with IgA nephropathy, an autoimmune form of kidney disease. Consequently in the process of treating the kidney disease I also discovered through the help of my naturopathic doctor, that I was struggling with what we believe to be leaky gut, likely from the months of pharmaceuticals prescribed to me for the kidney disease. While I am still smack in the middle of this ongoing work to get my kidney disease in remission and my body to a point where I can feel good each and every day, I continue to share the recipes I am creating in my own kitchen, often part of my own healing path, in hopes that they may inspire some of you, within your own individual health journey, to feel less overwhelmed as you reconfigure your diets.
Why I want to Know More.
As a result of my own individual research and constant trials with nutrution, diet and supplementation, through my lens of seeing food as medicine and knowing that real food heals, I have come to the understanding that we are all bio-chemical individuals and there is no one protocol, diet or plan for all of us, there can’t be, we are all such beautiful and unique beings. I myself have always refrained from labeling my diet or pushing myself and this blog towards one specific label, as I find this to be ever-evolving process and for me, labeling my diet is not something I have ever felt called to. As with most everything in my life, my intuition instead constantly leads me towards balance and simplicity and learning to listen to my body’s innate cues, rather than adopting a static list of firm Do’s and Don’ts. I have found myself on a path of constant independent learning, research and exploration to find what works for me and through my search to help myself, I have oftentimes found I am able to help others as well, something I have learned I truly love and now feel called to do even more.
I have come to realize that in sharing my recipes, through instructing yoga, hosting retreats and teaching cooking demos, these are all amazing ways I am able share my passions and hopefully empower others to take control of their own health and their well being. But, I have been feeling that when it concerns food and our health, that I wanted to make an even bigger impact, I want to be able to host cooking demos and speak with conviction and credibility about how we can deal with chronic comprised digestion, blood sugar regulation issues and I want to share the precise scientific reasons why certain ingredients are making an appearance in my recipes. I want to be able to better respond to folks seeking to make recipes fat free and explain to them in a concise way, why it is so important to include healthy fat in our diet and the list really just goes on and on. Finally, I have met so many incredible, yet desperate people over the years looking for answers, I have many family members and friends that struggle with their health daily and I want to help however I can, anyone who comes to me inquiring. I want to crush these old, antiquated myths surrounding eating and our diets and reveal the truth about food and it’s healing powers.
All of this lead me to the Nutritional Therapy Association.
Why the Nutritional Therapy Association?: