Health Archives - Stephanie Misanik Health Coach


November 6, 2017by admin0

It’s that time of year, folks!  The world around us is transforming before our very eyes.  The leaves are turning colors and falling to the ground, the temperature is cooling, and the oven is in overdrive.  The holiday season is filled with delicious food, family and friends.  If you come from a family like mine, holiday meal time is scrumptious, but not necessarily healthy and nutritious.  If you are on a journey to wellness and weight loss, the holiday season can bring on some fear and anxiety.  How can you navigate the holiday season and still stay on track with a healthy diet?

After many years of trial and error, here are my top tips and tricks:

Bring your own food  

This is by far my favorite thing to do.  When I started to eat a healthy diet, my family was not on board.  I got many side eyes and furrowed brows.  It was unfair of me to ask them to cook a separate meal for me or to not have certain food items that I knew I’d want to give into and eat.  Instead, I started bringing a few of my own healthy recipes and you know what happened?  They tried them too!  It spread like wildfire and it seems like every year, our Thanksgiving spread gets healthier and healthier.

Eat the healthiest options first

This is so important!  If you fill up on healthier options, you are much less likely to load your plate with sweet potato casserole because you’re no longer starving.

Eat before you go

A common holiday mentality is, “Why should I eat breakfast or lunch?  We are going to have a huge Thanksgiving dinner later!”  The problem with this thought is that by the time you get to Thanksgiving dinner you are so hungry, you have lost all willpower and will eat the first thing that you see.  Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch, go to your holiday dinner like you would any other dinner, not ravenous and ready to devour anything in sight.

Get a healthy eating buddy 

Humans are a “we” species.  We do much better when we have an accountability partner, someone just as dedicated to a goal as we are than if we are riding solo.  Find someone in your family that is also dedicated to being healthy and team up.  Together, you will be a powerful force of health able to take on even the most gluttonous of holiday feasts.

Keep up your exercise routine 

I know, the holidays are a busy time of year.  Full of shopping and travel, oh and work doesn’t just stop because the holidays are here.  Even though your schedule is fuller than normal, don’t let your exercise routine fall to the way side.  When you exercise regularly, you have better energy to power through all the holiday tasks and we are much more likely to make healthy food choices.

Pick one indulgence

You can have cookies and cheesecake any time of year, but pumpkin pie or your grandmother’s favorite holiday desert recipe only come around once a year.  Know what you’re going to have for desert before you approach the desert table.  Make it a conscious choice rather than getting a slice of everything in sight.

Create healthy versions of traditional recipes

Ingredients really do matter.  Use unsweetened coconut milk instead of cow’s milk, ghee instead of butter or margarine, honey or maple syrup instead of white, granulated sugar, brown rice or lentil noodles instead of traditional white noodles.  Baby steps, they make a big difference in the long run.

 

I hope these suggestions help you navigate the holiday season with comfort and ease.  Most importantly, be gentle with yourself.  Set attainable goals, and take it one day at a time.  Know that you are worth it and that you can do it.  Being healthy is a lifestyle, and it doesn’t always happen overnight.  If you slip up, don’t beat yourself up.  Simply acknowledge it and then jump right back on the band wagon.



September 7, 2017by admin1

“Sleep hygiene” is a term that refers to your sleep habits and rituals that surround your nighttime routine, not the cleanliness of your sheets and favorite pjs.  We live in a society of overachievers, and as a result, most Americans are perpetually exhausted and sleep deprived.  If only we dedicated as much time and attention to our sleep hygiene as we do to our jobs and other activities of daily living.  Today, I’m going to share with you how to enhance your sleep hygiene and thereby improve your quality of life.  There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep, it’s critical for an improved mood, increased energy levels and even weight loss.

 

Consistency is Key

If you’re a parent, think back to when you were teaching your child about bedtime.  Every night, that magical bedtime hour would roll around and you and your little one would march up to bed.  You may not have been aware of it, but you were training your child to develop their own sleep routine, teaching their body to fall asleep at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.  The same training applies to adults.

The trick for adults is to maintain the same sleep/wake time on the weekends as you do during the week.  It may be tempting to stay up until 2 am on the weekends, but it is not beneficial to your sleep hygiene.  I suggest maintaining the same bedtime and wake time every day, and give your body time to adjust to its own natural schedule.  Before you know it, you’ll be ditching the alarm clock because you simply won’t need it anymore.

 

Keep Your Room Dark and Cool

Your body’s sleep cycle is controlled by your circadian rhythms.  Light tells your body it’s time to be awake, and the dark signals your body that it’s time to sleep.  If there’s light in your room, whether it be natural light or artificial, it will disrupt your circadian rhythm and make it very difficult for you to fall asleep and stay asleep.  I recommend investing in some heavy duty or full blackout curtains to keep your room nice and dark and ensure a good night’s sleep.

The temperature of your room is also important for sleep hygiene.  When it’s too hot, you can wake up drenched in sweat, and when it’s too cold, you may wake up shivering.  Studies suggest that a temperature between 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit is best for sleep routine.  I suggest playing around different temperatures in this range and seeing what it most comfortable for your specific body.

 

Bye-Bye Screens

I know, this one is really challenging, but research suggests that the blue light from electronics has an enormous impact on our circadian rhythms and can majorly disrupt your quality of sleep.  Blue light actually inhibits the body’s ability to create melatonin, the hormone that helps us fall asleep and stay asleep.  I recommend keeping your bedroom an electronic free zone.  That means no television, no cell phone, no laptop and no ipad with the four corners of your sacred sleeping area.

 

Get an Exercise Routine

This may seem counter intuitive, but your daily activity levels have a major impact on your sleep hygiene.  Developing and maintaining a regular exercise routine not only helps you to lose weight and develop strength, it also helps to regulate hormone and energy levels.  Moving your body in some way each day will improve your quality of sleep simply because you will feel more tired.

I suggest playing around and finding an exercise time that works well for your body.  Some people find that exercising too late in the evening energizes them and impairs their ability to fall asleep when bedtime rolls around, but others love that feeling of an intense workout that creates full-body exhaustion a few hours before bed.

 

What are some of your healthy sleep habits?  I’d love to hear them!  Share below!



August 21, 2017by admin1

 

Coffee.

What would America be without it’s coffee?  After all, America runs on Dunkin’, right?  It’s more than just a drink.  It’s interwoven within our culture.  It’s family, it’s a date, it’s social.

It’s also super addictive, and I’m here to tell you that coffee had me in a death grip.  I wasn’t able to actually start my day without my venti cold brew from Starbucks.  I became so dependent on it that in the evening, I was finding myself planning how I was going to get my cold brew in the morning before I had to teach, meet with clients, or do anything in the realm of productivity.  The delightful people at my local Starbucks knew exactly how I liked my cold brew, extra almond milk with 2 packets of honey.  If a new person was working, the old timers would be sure they added just the right amount of milk.  They knew me by name and always had my drink ready for me.

 

My Coffee History: It’s a Love Hate Kinda Thing

I have been drinking coffee for as long as I can remember.  I have always been a type A, go go go kinda woman.  Even in middle school, I would stay up late into the evening studying or doing homework.  I remember making pots of coffee after school and would sip away at them throughout the evening to fuel my brain through math and history homework.  As high school approached and I eventually got my own driver’s license, I started to stop for a large coffee on my way to school, and another one after school.  I remember sitting at the diner with my high school friends joking about nicknames for each of us.  Mine was, you guessed it, “java girl”.

As far back as I can remember, coffee for me has never been a social thing…it was always a crutch.  I needed it to study, to wake up, to focus, to simply think and get shit done.  Starting my day without a cup of the good stuff was simply not an option.  I was completely and utterly reliant on its magical powers.

Then in my early 30s, something changed.  Whenever I drank the magic elixir, I started to feel jittery.  I’d be on a caffeine high for about an hour, and then these waves of anxiety would start to wash over me.  I couldn’t quite catch my breath, and I would start to sweat.

So, I experimented.  Cutting coffee out completely simply wasn’t an option, so I decided to cut back.  Instead of a venti, I would get a grande.  It worked.  The anxiety started to dissipate, and I was good at one grande cold brew a day.  No sweats, no anxiety.  After a few months, my symptoms returned.  My body was trying to tell me something, and I just didn’t want to hear it.

 

Why Quit the Good Stuff?

Everyone knows the caffeine in coffee is a stimulant.  If you’re like me, you are reliant on it’s stimulating effects to get you through the day. Here’s some stuff you  may not know about coffee:

  1. The caffeine in coffee releases catecholamines, your body’s stress hormones.  It also increases insulin production.  Both stress hormones and insulin cause inflammation, and inflammation makes you feel lousy.
  2. A coffee habit decreases insulin sensitivity.  This makes it hard for you body to appropriately respond to high blood sugar levels and having consistently high blood sugar levels can lead to arterial deterioration and an increased risk for the development of cardiovascular disease.
  3. Unfiltered coffee is loaded with good antioxidants.  Unfortunately, it’s also loaded with diterpenes which are linked with increases levels of triglycerides, LDL and VLDL levels.
  4. The chlorogenic acids found in coffee have been shown to increase homocysteine levels, an indicator for an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  5. Coffee is super acidic and can cause digestive discomfort, indigestion, heartburn, GERD and even dysbiosis (an imbalance in the good bacteria of your gut)
  6. Coffee is extremely addictive.  The thought of taking on the withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting coffee is overwhelming to anyone looking to quit their coffee habit.
  7. Coffee alone has some serious health effects, but when you add a ton of sugar or artificial sweeteners to your coffee, your negative health effects are increasing ten-fold.  Not to mention, coffee is not an adequate breakfast replacement.
  8. 5-HIA, a component of the neurotransmitter serotonin, is found to be elevated in the urine of regular coffee drinkers, which means they may be at risk for lower serotonin production in the brain.  Serotonin is the happy hormone and is responsible for so many bodily functions including sleep, bowel function, mood and energy levels.  It’s such a vicious cycle.  Coffee can disrupt sleep, cause anxiety and promote depression.
  9. Regular coffee drinkers tend to have elevated urinary levels of important electrolytes like magnesium, calcium and potassium.  This can cause you to have an electrolyte imbalance which can potentially cause all kinds of systemic complications.
  10. Certain components in coffee can interfere with normal drug metabolism and detoxification in the liver.  It can prevent certain medications, including levothyroxine (thyroid medication) and tricyclic antidepressants from being properly absorbed.

It’s always nice to know the science, but here’s what I know.  Coffee stopped working for my body.  I began to have physical side effects related to my coffee consumption, and if I wanted to feel better, I’d have to bite the bullet and say no to my daily cold brew.

 

How I Quit:

I’d love to tell you that the day I realized coffee and I were no longer friends, I simply quit…but that would be a straight up lie.  I fought giving up coffee until the bitter end.  For months I would play this game, drinking my cold brew and thinking that today would be the day I wouldn’t experience shortness of breath, anxiety and profuse sweating.  But, alas, that day never came.

Last week, my body forced me to make a decision, and I chose to quit coffee for good.  To be 100% transparent, I have not totally quit caffeine all together, but the cold brew had to go.  Tea is my new best friend, specifically matcha tea.  The benefits of matcha tea might be in a future blog post, but here are just some of the benefits of matcha:

  • high in antioxidants
  • improves mental focus + clarity
  • detoxifying properties
  • good for hair skin + nails!
  • contains an amino acid known as L-Theanine which promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain
  • induces relaxation without the inherent drowsiness caused by other “downers”

In the morning, I replaced my cold brew with an adaptogenic matcha that I make at home, loaded with herbs including tocos, chaga and cordycep mushrooms, marine collagen and just a dab of raw honey.  It’s absolutely divine.

 

My Matcha Recipe:

1 tsp matcha (whisked)
1 tbsp tocos
1/2 tsp cordycep mushroom powder
1/2 tsp chaga mushroom powder
2 scoops vital proteins marine collagen
1 tsp raw honey
splash unsweetened coconut milk
6-8 oz hot filtered water

 

Tips for Quitting:

Replacing my coffee habit with a matcha tea really helped in the coffee withdrawal process.  Matcha still has a little bit of caffeine, so it eased my symptoms.  Having said that, I’m not going to lie and say it was easy.  Honestly, it wasn’t so much the physical symptoms of withdrawal as it was realizing just how habitual it was for me to get a coffee.  I had to really understand that I don’t need coffee to function.  I’m totally capable of showing up for life without my cold brew.

Here’s some helpful tips that really worked for me:

  • Pick a day and just do it.  Stop talking about it and just do it.  Mark it on your calendar, tell your friends, get some accountability going.  I am not a person that works well with slowly weaning off something.  I’m a rip the bandaid kinda girl.  But, do you, boo.  If you want to slowly wean off, go for it…but just do it.
  • Replace the ritual of making coffee with making a cup of tea.  I already talked about how I replaced my cold brew with matcha tea, but if matcha isn’t your thing, try chai, or earl grey.  Tea will still give you a low dose of caffeine without all the jitters of coffee.  It will also replace that morning ritual of brewing your coffee.  Added bonus: the smell of tea is great aromatherapy.
  • In my matcha recipe above, I talk about adding herbs to my tea.  If you’re new to the world of herbs and have no idea where to start, I suggest getting some ashwagandha and add 1 tsp to your tea.  Ashwagandha is a fantastic ayurvedic herb that helps to relieve stress and anxiety.  It can really help alleviate coffee withdrawals.
  • Get on yo’ mat.  I know I’m a little partial, but do some yoga!  Yoga helps me to really connect to my mind and body and to come into alignment with my purpose.  The physical practice helps energize me without the need for caffeine or any other external force.
  • Drink a boatload of water.  It will decrease any headaches you experience and will increase your energy.  There’s no magical amount of water to drink, just drink more than you do know and stop when you feel like you’ve had enough.
  • Switch to herbal tea in the afternoon.  I love a matcha or even earl grey in the morning, but cutting out caffeine after 12 pm has really helped improve my sleep patterns.  I have been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier.
  • Consider avoiding coffee shops for at least a week.  For me, after a couple days I was okay going back to Starbucks to do my writing and work.  I simply replaced my usual cold brew order with a black tea.  But I know for others, a coffee shop might be a big trigger, so do you.

 

I really hope this blog post helps you get off the coffee, if that’s something you are considering doing.  I would love to hear about your experience kicking the good stuff, feel free to comment below, you never know how your experience could help others.

 

Resources:

van Dam RM, Willett WC, Manson JE, Hu FB. 2006. “Coffee, caffeine, and risk of type 2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study in younger and middle-aged U.S. women.” Diabetes Care (2) 398-403

Tuomilehto J, Hu G, Bidel S, et al. 2004. “Coffee Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus Among Middle-aged Finnish Men and Women.” JAMA 291: 1213-9.

Moisey LL, Kacker S, Bickerton AC, Robinson LE, Graham TE. 2008. “Caffeinated coffee consumption impairs blood glucose homeostasis in response to high and low glycemic index meals in healthy men.” Am J Clin Nutr 87 (5): 1254-1261

Lane JD, Feinglos MN, Surwit, RS. 2008. “Caffeine Increases Ambulatory Glucose and Postprandial Responses in Coffee Drinkers With Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care. 31(2): 221-222



August 9, 2017by admin0

I don’t know about you, but I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.  If you clicked on this blog post, chances are you are too.  Sometimes, this character trait serves me well.  For example, when I decided to take my health back, it was as simple as making the decision and with the snap of my fingers, I was officially vegan, no turning back, no easing my way in.  All or nothing.  As a result, my health transformation was swift and dramatic.  100 pounds in 1 year.

Other times, this trait haunts me.  This month my family is away visiting family in Greece, and momma is riding solo. Whenever I mention this to friends or colleagues, their immediate reaction is, “Wow!  No kids for a month?  Finally some time to kick up your feet and relax!”.

Call me crazy, but my first thought was, “I can get so much done while they’re gone!”.  Naturally, I loaded up my schedule so that my days involve me running around like a mad woman from sunrise to sunset, 7 days a week.  New clients, additional yoga classes, house remodeling, house cleaning/organizing, an increased workout/training schedule, the list goes on and on.  Oh and on top of it all, somewhere along the line I decided breakfast was no longer a priority.

Like I said, I’m an all or nothing kinda girl.

I’m here to report I made it about 2 weeks before my body gave me the middle finger and quite literally FORCED me to sit a day out.  And even then, I balked.

Here’s what I have learned about myself, what I constantly struggle with.  I CAN’T SIT STILL.  Not just physically, but mentally.  If I have to sit at home, ALL I can think about is all the more productive things I could be doing.  It is so hard for me.

Here’s what that really means…and I hate to admit it, but here it goes…

My name is Stephanie, and I’m a control freak.

Anybody that knows me personally is probably cracking up because to them it’s so obvious, but for me it takes me pretty much passing out from exhaustion to even become aware of this fact about myself.  Nevertheless, it’s true.  I fill my day with appointments, workouts, cooking, cleaning, and so on so that I can be in control.

I had a dear friend tell me, “If you fill every minute of your day up, you leave no time for God (insert your preferred word here – Universe, Mother Spirit, Mama Jama, Big Kahuna, etc etc) to guide you.”

BAM.

Well, I never thought of it like that…

Here’s the thing, I LOVE what I do.  I LOVE being a Health Coach and yoga teacher.  It fills me up and I cannot believe that I get to do what I do for a living.  I also LOVE to workout.  It is a meditation for me.  Maybe you are nodding your head because you too love your job and love to hit your yoga mat or the gym, but even people who love their job need to take a break.  I always associated the feeling of being “stressed out” with having to do things I didn’t like.  The reality is that the body doesn’t know the difference between stress from a job you hate and stress from an overbooked schedule of activities you love.  To the body, physiological stress is physiological stress.

I’m writing this blog post because I need to hold myself accountable.  I have committed to doing one relaxing act of self love everyday, and I encourage you to do the same.  I cannot be of service to other people if I am burnt out and running on fumes.

Last night, I took a bath with epson salts and listened to one of my favorite podcasts.  It was glorious and I haven’t felt that relaxed in months.  Needless to say, I slept like a baby.  Today I am sipping on this delicious golden milk matcha latte while writing and later I’m making time to hang out with some amazing people that I love, people that lift me up, nourish my soul and aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going down the rabbit hole.

What are your favorite self-love practices?  I need some suggestions!  What do you do to unwind, shut the mind off and just relax?  Comment below!



July 19, 2017by admin0

In 2017, it seems like everyone is on a specific diet.  People have become obsessed with good vs. bad fats, animal vs. plant protein, gluten free, dairy free, on and on.  Vegan, low carb high fat, keto, paleo, Atkins, South Beach…..ahhhh!!  One week coconut oil is the devil, the next week it is a superfood that kills cancer.  If you peruse the isles of your local book store, you will be inundated with the latest diet gurus and celebs selling their program on how to lose weight, each book contradicting the next.  It’s completely maddening and let’s just be real, who has time to sort through all of these diets and theories????

As a Health Coach, I was lucky to receive an education on all these dietary theories, hundreds of them, but even I find myself wanting to hide in the corner and throw my hands up in the air in complete defeat.

It wasn’t that long ago that we all just existed without trying to adhere to the latest fad diet, without diet gurus or celebrity chefs telling us how to feed our body.  We used to rely on good old intuition.  Back in the day, you just ate something, you intuitively knew what to eat and how to prepare it without having a complete mental meltdown.

It’s time to bring back intuitive eating.

Here’s the truth.  I’m going to let you in on a big nutrition secret.  Ready?

Being healthy is not complicated.  The body knows what it wants to eat, it’s the brain that gets in the way.

Classic example: You heard about a new diet and how your friend, Jane, lost 20 pounds in a month.  So, you hop in your car, run to the local bookstore and buy the book.  This time you’re really going to do it.  You follow the diet guidelines religiously.  No cheat days, no slacking. You are KILLIN it.  After a week of eating this way, you feel like shit.  You’re bloated, you’re tired, you’ve actually gained weight.  You feel like a failure.  You followed the diet to the tee, and you aren’t getting the same results as Jane.  You feel completely defeated.

Here’s the thing, you don’t have to read nutrition books or the latest diet fad to know what foods are right or wrong for you.

Instead, you need to start listening to your body and the ways in which it tries to communicate with you.  Start to build a deep relationship with your body and use this relationship to help you cultivate the ability to eat intuitively.

You don’t need to get expensive laboratory testing done to see what foods you should or shouldn’t eat, you already have free, round the clock access to the most sophisticated laboratory for testing how foods affect your mind, body and spirit.  You are living in it!  Your body is a super sophisticated bio-computer.  The trick is learning to listen to the feedback your body is constantly trying to tell you.

To tap into intuitive eating, the first step is to acknowledge that your body is a highly intelligent machine that at any given moment is conducting thousands of functions without you even having to think about it.  In every yoga class I teach, I make a point to leave a couple minutes to recognize and acknowledge the body.  To feel the heart beating, to feel your chest rise and fall with each breath.

Know on a deep level that you can trust your body, that you don’t need the latest celebrity to tell you how to feel healthy in your own body.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “This is all fine and dandy, but how do I really learn to listen to what my body is telling me?”

How to Develop Intuitive Eating: Step by Step

Are you ready for a little bit of homework?  Grab your journal, or even the notes section on your cell phone.  Start small.  Every morning, write down EXACTLY what you ate for breakfast.  Then write down how you feel immediately after eating and then again two hours later.  Do this for 2 weeks straight, every morning.  Switch your breakfast up, try some eggs and bacon one day, some cereal the next day, oatmeal, a muffin, maybe a bagel and cream cheese, some sauteed veggies and toast.  Get some variety in your breakfast and start to make the connection between what you eat and how it makes you feel.

After the 2 weeks, you will understand yourself better and how different foods make you feel.  Start to cut back or eliminate the foods that make you feel yucky.  After the 2 weeks, you can start to expand this food journaling experiment to your whole daily intake.  Be a detective.  Eat a variety of foods and don’t worry about adhering to a particular diet.  Start to discover how different foods and liquids affect you.  Notice how your body feels and how each change of diet affects you not just physically, but mentally as well.

Have you ever tried a diet that didn’t work for you?  How did you know it wasn’t right for you?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments below!



July 3, 2017by admin0

In the world of kid’s menus and school lunches, an overabundance of commercials featuring cute little cartoon characters promoting the latest sugary cereal or processed snack, the thought of teaching our children what it means to eat healthy food can be completely and utterly overwhelming.  I’m not going to lie, as parents, the deck is really stacked against us.

We have come to a point in our human evolution where we have been programmed to think that hot dogs, pizza, mac and cheese, chicken nuggets and french fries are ideal foods to feed growing little humans.  I have to admit that when my oldest was younger and I wasn’t yet tuned into the effect of food on health, I too thought that those were the only options.  It doesn’t help that any restaurant you visit, no matter the quality of the establishment, the kids menu tends to consist of those same items.  When our kids go to school, they are fed the same food, pizza Friday, chicken nuggets and french fries.  It’s really maddening when you stop and think about it for a minute.  Our kids are being constantly bombarded by highly processed, chemicalized foods that are completely devoid of any nutritional value.

Unfortunately, none of this is a coincidence.  The meat and dairy industries have a vested interest, and they are using our kids as pawns to build their massive fortunes.  Getting a kid hooked on meat and dairy at a young age ensures they have a lifelong customer.  It’s just business to them.  This is a topic for another blog post, but if you are interested in learning more about this, I highly suggest hopping on Netflix and checking out the following documentaries: Food MattersWhat the HealthForks Over KnivesEarthlings (this is a really hard one to watch, just to warn you – not kid friendly), Food Inc., and Cowspiracy.

When I changed my eating habits to be healthy, I made a conscious effort in my approach to spreading health through my family.  Let’s be real, nobody likes to be told how to eat.  I also didn’t want to start cultivating eating disorders in my children by making them neurotic about food.  I want them to have the power to make their own decisions, to eat what makes them feel good, not to be terrified of making the wrong decision.

I wanted to share with you what has worked for me in hopes that it will help you:

  1. I’m the cook in my house, so that helped.  Let me assure you, you do not have to be a chef to eat healthy.  Most of my meals are simply some roasted potatoes and veggies.  If you can turn on an oven, you can eat healthy.  Anyways, back to my point.  If you are the cook in your house, let’s be honest…you have the power to transform your kitchen and the foods you are feeding your children.  Here’s my suggestion, start small.  If your kiddos are used to the typical pizza dinner or grilled cheese and chips for lunch, see how you can make those options a bit healthier.  There’s a big difference between ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut and making your own pizza at home with cauliflower crust and fresh veggies.  It’s also a super fun bonding time with the kids.  My 2-year-old LOVES to make her own pizza, it gives her the power of choice.  It starts in the grocery store, she gets to pick the veggies she wants on her pizza.  When we get home, I let her help me cut the veggies up and then she generously sprinkles them on the cauliflower crust, which you can make on your own (here’s a great vegan cauliflower crust recipe) or if you don’t have time, you can find a frozen one in the freezer section of most grocery stores.  When it comes out of the oven she is gleaming with pride and excitement that she created her own food from start to finish.  It makes my heart smile, and it empowers her as a young woman to make her own food choices.  It’s a far cry from mommy forcing her to eat a plate full of green beans.
  2. It’s a process.  It won’t happen overnight and it won’t happen just because you want it to happen.  It’s going to take effort on your part.  What I’m really saying is…it starts with you.  If you think you can sit and eat junk food and drink soda all day and expect your kiddos to eat healthy just because you tell them to, it’s going to be a rough journey.  They watch us.  Even when they are sleeping, they instinctively know that mommy is pigging out on a bag of bon bons.  Trust me, they always know.  We are the adults and we have to lead by example.
  3. Kid’s birthday parties used to FILL me with anxiety when I started on this journey.  We all know that the typical food options at a kid’s party are soda, pizza, cake and candy.  And probably some ice cream.  I let them eat it.  I know, shocking!  I can’t say that I’m happy about it, but I allow them to make their own decisions.  Inevitably, they get a tummy ache, and that, my friends is a teachable moment!  I talk them through why they might have a tummy ache, maybe it’s because of the overload of sugar and processed chemicals in the food they ate?  Does that mean my kids won’t sell their souls for candy?  No.  They’re kids living in American society.  But, they are aware that it’s the candy and processed food that gives them a belly ache.  For me, it’s all about giving them space to cultivate awareness and that in time, they will make the best decision for their body.  Pro tip: eat a healthy meal BEFORE you head out to the birthday party.  Then they won’t be super hungry at the party and may even opt out of the junk food.
  4. Quality really matters.  Let’s look at a good ol’ PB&J.  There is a huge nutritional difference between traditional white bread and some hearty, sprouted grain bread like Ezekiel.  White bread is super processed and essentially devoid of any nutritional value, but sprouted grain bread is loaded with vitamins and minerals and isn’t highly processed.  Sometimes PB&J sandwiches are unavoidable, but slab that PB&J on some sprouted grain bread, add some chia seeds and bee pollen and substitute the peanut butter from some Justin’s Almond Butter and suddenly your PB&J just became loaded with nutritional value.
  5. Ingredients matter.  This is something I talk about all the time.  When you can, buy organic and local fruits and veggies and stick to organic meat if you consume meat.  I know organic tends to cost more, but conventional meat is LOADED with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics and tiny little humans just aren’t able to handle that kind of toxic exposure.  Their livers and kidneys are still developing and simply cannot detoxify such large amounts of toxins and chemicals.  Here’s a great study on the absorption of pesticides in conventional vs. organic food in children.  We have seen such a spike in childhood illnesses, everything from autoimmune diseases to cancer to autism since increasing the use of pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in our meats and produce.  Here’s another great article on the subject.  If organic is out of your price range, consider joining a CSA (check out Local Harvest to find one near you) or shopping at your local Farmer’s Market.  Both are great and much more affordable options to getting good local and organic meat and produce.  Another great option is to stick to the Dirty Dozen, which lists the most pesticide laden fruits and veggies every year, the produce that you should buy organic and the Clean 15 which lists the produce you can get away with buying conventional.
  6. Let them eat what you eat.  This whole idea that kids need to have different meals than adults is just silly.  In my house, I make a bunch of veggies, some rice or potatoes and usually a chicken breast for my partner.  They get to choose which veggies they want, but this whole idea that they need a different “kids meal” is not happening.  Who has time for that?  When we go out to eat, we don’t even look at the kid’s menu unless they have healthy options, which I am proud to say some establishments do indeed offer.  I usually just order them something healthy off the regular menu and the three of them split it.  It usually ends up being way cheaper AND they are eating healthy food, not your standard hot dog and french fries.  If the restaurant doesn’t have any regular menu items that I think they will eat, I have never had a problem ordering a plate of steamed veggies and rice.  The kids tear it up.
  7. Pack lunches.  If you saw what they are feeding our kids in school, I know you would be outraged.  I also know this takes a little bit of effort, but keep it simple.  Some sliced fruit, the PB&J from #4 and a handful of baby carrots is a super easy and quick to prepare lunch that I make regularly for my oldest daughter.  It doesn’t have to be a super fancy spread, keep it simple so that it can be sustainable.  Involve your kids in packing their lunch.  Ask them to pick their top five favorite fruits and start rotating them.  I really love these eco friendly stainless steel lunch boxes from UKonserve.  They last forever and don’t have any plastic.

 

Kid Update:

After a year (a WHOLE YEAR) of me eating a plant-based diet, my oldest daughter started to become a little more willing to try some of mommy’s veggies.  Slow and steady wins the race, y’all.  Soon after, she made the executive decision to be a vegetarian and has remained so for awhile now.  She chooses to no longer eat meat because she has a general understanding of how the animals that she thinks are so cute end up on the plate for dinner.  Will she be a vegetarian forever?  Who knows, she’s 7.  What is more important is that she is involved in making decisions about how she fuels her body.

My two babies have been a bit easier because they have been around healthy food since birth.

Lo Lo, my almost 3-year old loves any and all raw veggies.  She will munch on a head of lettuce or a bowl of spinach and eat a green pepper like it’s an apple.  This is because this is all she knows.  I don’t keep junk food in the house.  When we shop, I involve her in the process, she knows what foods make her feel good and which make her belly hurt.  A “snack” for her isn’t a candy bar, it’s apples with some almond butter, or maybe some fresh cherries or blueberries.  She also generally chooses to not eat meat, although she will eat chicken from time to time.  I ensure that it is good quality chicken.

Vasili, my baby boy, is a slim eater, so I’ll keep you updated.  He eats what I eat, so he is vegan, unless Yia Yia and Papou sneak him some meat when he goes to visit.  That’s a whole other blog post.  His favorite food is broccoli, and who can blame him?  Mini trees are so cool looking and they taste delicious.

Don’t give up, keep your head held high and know that they are watching you.  Bring mindfulness around what you are feeding yourself, and your kids will follow.  All they want is a happy and healthy parent.  You are the example.  You got this.

 

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200


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June 8, 2017by admin2

Last week I shared with you my journey into veganism.  It has been amazing, has brought me health, significant weight loss, a connection to nature and so much more spiritual growth that I have a hard time even putting into words.  But, it's in my nature to be a curious person, so last December I conducted an experiment.  I pissed off every vegan I knew and dove head first into a ketogenic diet for a month.

Go big or go home, that's my motto.

Here's the thing, I believe that there is no one diet that works for everybody.  Although I was having success with a plant based diet, I kept hearing about this new low carb/high fat keto craze and my curiosity got the best of me.  So, I made the conscious decision to try it for a month and see how I felt.  How can I help coach others in their own health journey if I myself don't remain open-minded and ready to learn?

For those of you that don't know, let me just break down what the Ketogenic Diet is at it's core (also called Low Carb High Fat - LCHF).  Keto peeps change their metabolic state by switching from glucose as their primary source of energy to ketones.  The premise is that ketone bodies are derived from fat and are a much more stable, steady source of energy than glucose, which is derived from carbohydrates.  Entering ketosis usually takes anywhere from 3 days to a week. Once you’re in ketosis, you’ll be using fat for energy, instead of carbs. This includes the fat you eat and stored body fat.  I was told to get ready to lose weight, be more alert, and less hungry.

So, what does a ketogenic plate look like?

  • 65-75% fat
  • 20-30% protein (animal protein)
  • 5% carbs

5% carbs translates to about 25 g of carbs/day. A sweet potato, for example, has about 27 grams of carbs.

Essentially I went from eating a lot of grains, no animal protein, tons of veg and low to moderate levels of fat to zero grains, a ton of animal protein and a super high amount of healthy fats.

Lots of avocados.  Lots of veggies (this part I liked), but I would add a ton of grass fed butter or ghee to everything.  Kerrygold butter lined the shelves of my fridge.  I even started making Bulletproof coffee, commonly known as butter coffee.  I would add a couple tbsp of grass fed butter and a couple tbsp of MCT oil (or coconut oil) to my coffee in the morning.

Needless to say, it was a far cry from my previous, plant-centric diet.

I even reintroduced cheese.

Here's the thing though, to give the keto diet a fair review, I stuck to my core principal that ingredients matter.  All of the meat I purchased was grass fed, all the dairy and butter were also grass fed, the chicken and eggs were pastured, no processed foods and all organic veggies.  I think this is where a lot of people make a big mistake with keto.  Let's be honest, organic, grass fed meat and dairy and pastured chicken and eggs are freaking expensive.  Usually what happens is it is just not sustainable financially.  I know a few people that follow a keto diet and load up on conventional, hormone, antibiotic and pesticide laden meat and "cheese like" products because it's cheaper.  I'm not blaming them, I get it.  My first grocery store bill on a keto diet was over $200 dollars, almost double what it had been under a vegan diet.

So, what happened?

At first, I went through a MAJOR carb withdrawal.  It was crazy!  I literally felt like I was on another planet for 3 days.  I remember sitting on my couch and having a conversation with my cleaning lady and as she was talking I kept asking myself within the comforts of my own mind, "Is this real or am I dreaming?"  It was unlike anything I have ever experienced.  I also had a major headache that hit on day 2.  I made sure to stay hydrated and kept chugging along.

After that initial cab withdrawal, I did return to my body.  After 7 days on a keto diet, I lost almost 10 pounds.  I was pretty intrigued.  Maybe there was something to this!  Something else I also started to notice is that I wasn't as hungry as I used to be.  In the morning, I would have my butter coffee and that would keep me full until about 2 in the afternoon.  My lunches and dinners were comprised of a piece of meat or fish and a bunch of veggies sauteed in grass fed butter.

To be completely transparent, I do not have a gall bladder.  This is a problem when consuming a high fat diet as the gall bladder stores bile, which is necessary to emulsify any dietary fats we consume.  If you don't have a gall bladder, the liver releases a constant small stream of bile directly into your intestines, which isn't enough to break down a high amount of fat. I knew that I was going to have problems with this, so I supplemented with ox bile.  That stuff is intense.  It's quite literally freeze dried bile from an ox.  You take it before eating a high fat meal and it mimics that bolus release of bile that would normally come from your gall bladder.

It took a solid week of experimenting with ox bile dosage and to be honest, I don't think I ever found the right dose.  If I took to much, you would find me puking my guts up in a fetal position on my bathroom floor, passing a ton of cow farts.  It was more painful that being in labor.  If I didn't take enough, I would get a similar pain, although slightly less intense (similar to bad acid reflux) because my body was having a hard time digesting the high amounts of fat I was consuming.

To say I was frustrated would be an understatement.  About halfway into my experiment, I had to drop the butter coffee.  My body just could not handle so much fat.  As I am writing this blog pot, I can almost feel that pain starting to develop right at the base of my sternum.

In addition to all these problems with such a high fat consumption, I noticed that after week 2, my energy levels started to drop pretty quickly.  When I was eating plant based, I always felt light and happy.  Similar to how plants sway in the wind under the morning sun.  Hang in there with me, I know it's far out there, but I have a point.  When I was doing keto, I started feeling heavy, sluggish and low in energy.  Similar to a big ol' cow slowly munching on grass in the middle of the field.

I know, it's kinda weird.  I had always heard that we take on the energy of what we eat.  And I always thought that people that subscribed to that belief were juuuuust a little out there.  But, this was 100% my experience.  I could feel myself taking on the energy of a cow when I was eating a lot of beef products.  Lazy, heavy, slow, sluggish.  When I switched to more chicken, I reminded myself of a chicken, flighty, jumpy, high anxiety, clucking at everyone around me.  It was bizarre.

Another thing happened.  I became very aware of the souls of the animals I was consuming.  To be clear, my journey into veganism had everything to do with my own health and nothing to do with a political statement or animal rights.  But, as I was cooking this giant slab of flesh and tasting the blood of the animal in my mouth, I became disgusted.

Before I went plant based, I (like most people) believed that I needed animal meat to survive.  After all, where the hell was I going to get my protein???  But now that I had been plant based and knew that I didn't need meat to survive and that plants have tons of protein (and had major muscle gains while consuming a vegan diet), I could no longer justify eating meat.  I simply felt unaligned with my own moral and ethical principles that I didn't even know I had.

After four weeks, I put my keto cookbooks back on the shelf.  I had had enough.  Enough pain, enough misalignment.  It was back to plants for this chick.  It took my body a good month of being plant based again to recover.

I think keto may work for some people, but I'm definitely not one of those people.  But, I'm glad I did it.  I became clearer on what fuels my body, what makes me thrive.  I also am so incredibly grateful for the deeper insight I gained, the clarity on my own moral principles.

Have you experimented with keto or do you follow a keto diet?  I would love to hear about your experience.  If you feel so inclined, comment below.  I remain open minded, knowing that this diet might work for some more than others.  In general, however, my main motto still remains: eat whole foods, mostly plants, most of the time.

Back to plants.

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



May 22, 2017by admin0

Welcome back for Week 3 of my Gut Health Series!  If you missed Week 1 and Week 2, click here to check it out!  This week, I will be talking about specific short term diets that are great for restoring your gut flora.  I am in no way sponsored by any of these companies, I truly think they are beneficial to gut health restoration.

The following diets/protocols may seem intense, but if you are a person that suffers from IBS, eczema, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, GERD, candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, hormone imbalances, and/or other autoimmune diseases, you are probably sick and tired of beating your head against the wall in search of symptom relief.  If you have found that you’ve tried every medication and either they don’t work or they cause more symptoms, maybe it’s time to explore the impact of nutrition.  It never hurts to keep an open mind and learn what your options are.  You deserve to be healthy and happy.  Here are my top three diets for gut flora restoration that I learned about while attending the Institute for Integrative Nutrition:

 

The Body Ecology Diet:

This diet was developed by Donna Gates, M.Ed., ABAAHP.  She is an international best-selling author, teacher and lecturer on digestive health and anti-aging protocols.  She spent over 25 years studying Eastern healing systems and Western fad diets and has a deep understanding of how your gut health affects ever system in your body.

The BED is a great, back-to-basics approach to restoring gut health and vitality.  If you struggle with candida, chronic fatigue, depression, weight problems, early aging, ADHD, autism, hormone imbalance and/or auto-immune disorders, you may benefit from the BED.  The BED is not a diet but rather a lifestyle. The BED (gluten free, sugar-free, probiotic rich) and their associated products are specifically designed to help cultivate, nourish, cleanse and repair the inner ecosystem of your digestive system.

I highly recommend checking out their website where you can learn more about the BED, their products, different courses they offer and more.  It’s a website loaded with all kinds of helpful information.

 

Low FODMAP Diet

FODMAP is an acronym that stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols.  These are big fancy names that refer to a collection of molecules found in food that are often poorly absorbed by some people, especially people with a dysbiosis (imbalance) in their gut flora.  It is recommended to follow a strict low FODMAP diet for 8 weeks, preferably under the supervision of a Health Coach or dietitian.  After the 8 weeks, foods can be gradually reintroduced, noting how you tolerate each food and adjusting your food plan accordingly.  If you are interested in doing an 8-week trial of a low FODMAP diet with me, please click here to schedule a free Initial Consultation.

 

GAPS Diet

The GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) diet was originally derived from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) created by Dr. Sidney Valentine Hass to naturally treat chronic inflammatory digestive conditions that result from a damaged gut lining.  SCD became popular when a mom, by the name of Elaine Gottschall, healed her own child of Ulcerative Colitis and then became an advocate for SCD.  She even wrote a book entitled “Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet”.  The GAPS diet focuses on removing foods that are hard to digest and are damaging to the gut microbiome and replacing them with nutrient-dense foods, allowing the intestinal lining to heal and seal.

The GAPS protocol is broken down into three protocols: Nutritional, Supplementation and Detoxification.  The Nutritional Protocol restricts all grains, commercial dairy, starchy veggies and all processed carbs while focusing on easily digestible and nutrient dense foods.  The Supplementation Protocol is tailored to the individual, but generally includes a commercial probiotic, essential fatty acids, cod liver oil, and targeted digestive support.  The Detoxification Protocol cleanses the liver and colon through juicing, GAPS milkshakes, and enemas while reducing the general toxic load by restricting man-made chemicals and heavy metals.

If you visit the GAPS Diet website, you can find a Certified GAPS Practitioner to work with.

 

I hope this Gut Series was helpful and answered some of your questions about gut health.  Personally, I think the topic of the microbiome is fascinating!  Research into this vast unknown is just in it’s infancy, but scientists have discovered some amazing things so far.  If you are interested in learning more about gut health, please feel free to email me at info@stephaniemisanik.com.  Here’s to happy, healthy bellies!

 

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



May 15, 2017by admin0

 

Welcome to week 2 of my Gut Health Series!!  If you missed week 1, you can check it out here.  In week 1, I shared some general information on what the microbiome is, what determines the makeup of your gut microbiome, how to tell if your gut microbiome is out of balance and what you can start doing now to restore your gut health and flora balance.  This week, I want to dive into the topic of probiotics and prebiotics.

Just to recap, the microbiome refers to the to the catalog of microbes and their genes within the human body.  It’s referring not only to the microbes that exist within our body, but also all of our microbes’ genes.  When we refer to “probiotics”, we are talking about the specific bacteria, and sometimes yeast, that make up this vast microbiome.  Each of us has about 3.5-4.5 POUNDS of microbes living inside us, happily cohabiting our bodies.  These probiotics are predominately found in our digestive system, but also exist in our lungs, genitourinary tract and elsewhere throughout the body.  The two main genera of probiotics found in our digestive system are lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.  Within each genus are different species and strains.  Each strain of probiotics performs a different function and are vital to many bodily processes including:

  • Lactose digestion – Probiotics help us digest and break down lactose. That’s why some people can tolerate yogurt and kefir but not regular milk.  The good bacteria in the cultured yogurt eats up the lactose.
  • Regulation of the immune system and inflammation – Probiotics reduce the levels of toxic pathogens that are harmful to our health. Active lactobacilli and bifidobacteria produce high levels of lactic acid, making the intestinal environment more acidic, which inhibits the growth of undesirable bacteria, molds, mold spores and yeast.
  • Cancer protection
  • Detoxification – In our culture, we are constantly being exposed to chemicals and metals. Probiotics in our gut help us to metabolize those chemicals and detox from heavy metals including arsenic, lead, and mercury.
  • Allergies
  • Lipid (fat) regulation
  • Anti-hypertensive
  • Oral health
  • Nutrient utilization – Probiotics help with the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats and protein during digestion by promoting the release of digestive juices and enzymes from the stomach, pancreas and gall bladder
  • Mineral absorption, specifically calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium and iron.
  • Regulation of peristalsis – Probiotics help ensure healthy, regular and smooth bowel movements.
  • Production of vitamins (specifically B + K)

Bifidobacterium, is found mostly in the large intestine, or colon, and are responsible for energy production and maintenance of the colon cells.  In most of our body we run on glucose, but not in the digestive system.  In the digestive system, we run on glutamine in the small intestine and butyrate in the large intestine.  Glutamine and butyrate maintain the cells in the digestive system and make sure that the cells are able to reproduce and produce energy.  The fibers we ingest in beans, nuts, whole grains, and veggies get fermented by bifidobacteria, creating short chain fatty acids which in turn produce butyrate.

Research on the benefits of probiotics and gut health in general is in its infancy.  There is SO much we don’t know.  Here’s a bit about what we do know:

  • Premature babies sometimes get an awful medical condition call necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC), which can be fatal. Research shows that probiotics can be helpful in combating this condition.
  • A specific probiotic yeast called saccharomyces boulardii has been researched for over 50 years and is known for helping with diarrhea from all causes.
    • If you are planning on traveling out of the country, it’s great to take some of this probiotic before boarding the plane to prevent diarrhea when eating and drinking the water in different regions of the world.
    • Research shows that it helps kill the bacteria and toxins related to Clostridium difficile, a very serious and potentially life-threatening bacterial infection of the colon, that the regular antibiotic treatment protocol doesn’t kill.
  • A good balance of probiotic bacteria helps run your metabolism and therefore determines whether you are heavy or thin.
  • Probiotics help us produce more T regulatory cells which act as the brakes to the immune system. They let the immune system know when to shut off.  That’s why probiotics are great for people with autoimmune conditions because they help slow down the inflammatory cascade.
  • Probiotics help with symptoms of IBS.
  • Probiotics help people who are prone to reoccurring respiratory infections and bladder/yeast infections.
  • Probiotics help regulate serum lipid levels (cholesterol and triglycerides)
  • Probiotics help with type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

Not that long ago, probiotics were a big part of the human diet as we were regularly ingesting cultured and fermented foods.  Then came the advent of refrigerators, and now we eat mostly processed, non-fermented foods and we don’t get the benefits of dietary probiotics.  Don’t get me wrong, refrigerators are great.  They keep food fresh for longer and prevent a lot of food related sickness and waste due to spoilage. However, it’s important to take the time to incorporate cultured and fermented foods into your diet, especially when you are out of balance or feeling stressed.  Here’s a list of cultured and fermented foods that you can start incorporating into your diet today:

  • Pickled vegetables
  • Pickled ginger
  • Miso soup
  • Raw pickles
  • Sauerkraut – Just make sure it doesn’t have preservatives in it, it won’t have the same benefits if it’s loaded with preservatives
  • Full-fat plain Greek yogurt – When companies sell low-fat yogurt, they are simply replacing that fat with sugar, and the sugar feeds the bad bacteria in the gut, worsening any imbalance you already have. If you can, avoid getting low-fat or flavored yogurt because of the high sugar content.  Instead, get plain, high-fat Greek yogurt and add your own fresh fruit.
  • Natto
  • Tempeh
  • Kim chee
  • Root and ginger beers – Make sure they aren’t pasteurized.
  • Olives
  • Pulke
  • Kombucha – Check your labels and make sure they are lower in sugar.
  • Buttermilk
  • Raw vinegars – My favorite is Bragg Organic Raw and Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar.
  • Fermented sausages
  • Sourdough bread
  • Essene bread (sprouted grain bread)
  • Micro-brewed beers – Again, make sure they haven’t been pasteurized.
  • Wine
  • Artisan cheeses

When starting to eat more fermented foods, start slow.  If you have any imbalance in your gut flora, introducing fermented foods may cause some bloating or even bowel changes.  Try to eat live foods every day, and slowly increase the amount over time, noting how you feel and adjusting accordingly.

You can also supplement with probiotics.  Probiotic supplements are typically a combination of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, but may also include streptococcus and/or bacillus.  The main ones you want are lactobacillus and bifidobacteria.  These bacteria are measured in colony forming units, where 10 units = 10 billion live organisms.

Dosage:

  • To maintain gut health: 1-3 billion units/day, up to 10 billion.
  • If you just completed a round of antibiotics: 50 – 100 billion units/day for 3 – 4 weeks to restore balance.
  • If you have ulcerative colitis and are experiencing a flare up, research shows great success with 2.6 trillion units/day to calm the inflammation.

Some probiotic supplements also have prebiotics in them.  Prebiotics are a non-digestible starch that humans can’t digest, but the bacteria can.  Think of prebiotics as the food for your good gut bacteria.  When the good bacteria digest the prebiotics, they produce short chain fatty acids which in turn produce butyrate, an essential component to maintenance and function of the large intestine (see the paragraph above on bifidobacteria).  For many people, they can cause gas and bloating.  If you are new to supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics, start with a straight probiotic and then eventually add a prebiotic to your regimen.

Prebiotic benefits:

  • Resist gastric acidity, are not digested by human enzymes, are absorbed into the intestine
  • Fermented by intestinal microflora (lactobacillus + bifidobacterium)
  • Selectively stimulate growth and/or activity of intestinal bacteria and promote health and well- being

Okay, that’s a lot of info!!!  And that’s just the beginning.  We are just now learning about all the benefits of maintaining a healthy gut.  It’s mind blowing the effect an unbalanced gut can have on your health, mood and life!  This week, print out the list of cultured/fermented foods above and do some shopping!  You will probably find yourself in a whole new aisle of the grocery store.  Try something you’ve never tried before!  Remember, start small and increase slowly.  If you notice a lot of bloating, don’t give up as this is an indication that your gut is imbalanced.  Simply decrease your daily dosage of cultured food/drink and keep going!

Stay tuned for next week for part three of my Gut Health Series!!  If you have IBS, eczema, psoriasis, GERD, or ulcerative colitis, you don’t have to give up, there are specific diets that can be implemented in the short-term to restore your microbiome and improve your health. See you next week 😉

 

Plants for Life,
Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200



May 8, 2017by admin10

You may have seen the term “gut health” popping up all over the internet and your Facebook feed lately.  Such a vast and elusive term, any one-liners or articles pertaining to the subject often leave the reader confused and terrified that there are billions of big bad bacterial organisms raging war inside their intestine.  No need to fear!  Over the next few weeks, I’m going to break it all down for you in a special Gut Health Series so that you can really understand:

  1. What is gut health?
  2. How to determine whether yours is out of whack
  3. All about probiotics and prebiotics, including supplementation
  4. What foods and diets are best to restore and bring balance to your gut microbiome

Let’s get started!  First, what the heck is the gut microbiome?  Let’s back up and define the term “human microbiome”.  The term “human microbiome” was first coined by Joshua Lederberg in 2001 and refers to the catalog of microbes and their genes within the human body.  It’s referring not only to the microbes that exist within our body, but also all of our microbes’ genes.  The human microbiome can be considered a counterpart to the human genome (all of our genes).  In fact, you are more of a host to microbes than you are a human.  The genes in our microbiome outnumber the genes in our own genome by about 100 to 1.  Pretty amazing if you sit and think about it, you are more microbes than you are human!

The term “gut microbiome” refers specifically to the microbiome that exists in your gut.  We used to think that the gut microbiome was 3.5 – 4.5 lbs of just bacteria, but we now know that it also includes some fungi, viruses and even parasites.  All of these organisms live in harmony within your gut, and what’s really cool is no two people have the same gut microbiome composition.  We are all unique and diverse.  There are tons of factors that determine your gut microbiome makeup including (but not limited to):

  • Where you were born
  • Whether you were breastfed or formula fed
  • Your stress levels
  • The foods you ate in your first few years of life
  • Whether you were given antibiotics as a baby
  • If you were delivered vaginally or by C-section

We know that the gut microbiome is really established in the first couple years of life.  When a baby is given a week’s worth of antibiotics, for example, they may never fully recover their original gut microbiome composition for the rest of their life.  It is so important to support a baby’s microbiome development, for reasons I will discuss over the next few weeks.  I’m not saying that a baby should never receive antibiotics, but just that the administration of antibiotics to babies should be done in a very conscious way, looking at all the options and choosing the solution that is most appropriate for the long-term health of the baby.

There are a number of signs that your gut health is out of balance:

  1. Constipation or diarrhea: Your poop is important!!! To determine if your gut health is out of balance, the first thing you should look at are your elimination patterns.   If after a meal you feel super bloated, have to run to the restroom, or if you suffer from chronic constipation, your gut is most likely out of balance.  If you are not having regular, smooth bowel movements, the FIRST thing you should look at is your gut health.
  2. Excessive gas, burping, bloating and/or indigestion: The painful and uncomfortable problem of indigestion occurs when your stomach produces way too much acid during the digestive process and that acids starts making its way up your esophagus.  If you have uncontrollable gas, burping, bloating or indigestion, it’s a telltale sign that you have an unbalanced digestive tract.
  3. Obesity: Believe it or not, your gut microbiome balance is a huge determining factor in whether or not you are obese. The more balanced and diverse your gut bacteria, the healthier your weight will be.
  4. Type 2 Diabetes: There is a direct connection between an unhealthy gut and the onset of type 2 diabetes. Studies show that people with type 2 diabetes (compared to those without) have higher levels of the bad bacteria residing in their gut.
  5. Skin conditions: Your skin is your biggest organ and can be a great indicator of health issues. If you suffer from acne, rosacea, psoriasis, dermatitis or eczema, it may be a reflection of an unbalanced gut microbiome.
  6. Poor immune system functioning and autoimmune diseases: You may be surprised to learn that 75% of your immune system lies in your GI tract. Certain foods (specifically sugar, gluten and dairy) can contribute to the onset of leaky gut syndrome, which leads to a body-wide inflammatory response and the onset of many autoimmune diseases including: hypothyroidism, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis and many more.  For more information on leaky gut syndrome, please refer to last week’s blog: Hypothyroidism: My Dad’s Journey
  7. Chronic stress, anxiety and depression: If you suffer from any of these mental health conditions and have tried everything you can possibly think of to combat your mental illness, I highly suggest taking a look at your gut health. There are 500 million neurons embedded in the intestinal wall.  These neurons make up the enteric nervous system (ENS) which plays a huge role in the production of 30 different neurotransmitters (including serotonin, the main neurotransmitter associated with depression).  The ENS is often referred to as the “second brain” and plays a huge role in regulating mood, reducing stress/anxiety and maintain good overall mental health.

The good news is that research shows that the best and most effective way to regulate your gut microbiome is with a whole food, plant based diet.  Don’t worry, if the thought of eliminating animal products from your diet is super overwhelming to you, start with just adding some more vegetables to your daily dietary intake.  I am a big believer in the mantra “ingredients matter”.  In other words, the best vegetables and fruits for your gut health are local and organic.  Almost every town or city has a farmer’s market, and they are thriving this time of year.  It’s a much cheaper alternative to the traditional grocery store, and allows you to find seasonal, local and often organic fruit and veggies.  Buying organic is important because you avoid ingesting tons of nasty pesticides and chemicals.  Buying local is critical because the fruits and vegetables will be coming from local dirt…meaning local microbes!  The bacteria on food is so good for you (in most cases), and you want to gobble it right up!

So how exactly does a whole food, plant based diet help improve your gut health?  One word – polyphenols.  Polyphenols are phytochemicals, meaning compounds abundantly found in natural plant food sources that have a ton of antioxidant properties and are fantastic for gut health.  There are over 8,000 different polyphenols found in foods such as green tea, kale, wine, chocolates, fruits, vegetables and extra virgin olive oil, just to name a few.  When you think of polyphenols, think of all the beautiful colors found in fruits and veggies.  Have you ever heard the term “eat the rainbow”?  Polyphenols are the rainbow!  Polyphenols are so important because they modulate inflammation and provide a lot of cell signaling and messaging to the rest of the body.  The good bacteria in your gut (aka probiotics – more on this term next week) and polyphenols have a special symbiotic relationship.  When ingested, the probiotics in your gut begin to digest the polyphenols in the small intestine, thereby activating the polyphenols, allowing them to do their good work.  Essentially, polyphenols serve as food to the good bacteria in your gut. A study out of the UK found that people who eat at least 7 servings of veggies and some fruits everyday have decreased mortality from all causes by 24% and decreased cancer rates by 33%.  So, the best way to naturally increase the good bacteria in your gut is to eat more plants!

Hopefully you now have a better understanding of what gut health is and how to recognize if perhaps your gut microbiome is out of balance.  Next week, we will talk about probiotics and prebiotics: what they are, why they are beneficial to your health, and how to properly supplement.  In the meantime, I challenge you this week to eat more veggies and notice if you have better elimination patterns, less indigestion, better mood and clearer skin!  If you are looking for a jumpstart into the land of veg, check out my $21 for 21 Days: Green Smoothie Challenge starting on June 5th.  It’s a super delicious way to increase your daily fruit and veg intake without the hassle of slaving over a stove!

See you next week for part two of my Gut Health Series!

 

Plants for Life,

Stephanie Misanik, INHC, RYT-200