The first few months of the year tends to reignite motivation. We see an influx of weight loss and gut health resolutions, a surge in gym memberships, and I’m sure the diet industry makes a whole lot of money.
Last year I challenged my community to DROP their weight-related and resolutions and proposed a different challenge.
Over the first weeks of 2020, we dove into what I refer to as “The 8 Pillars of Health”. These are the things that create lifelong, optimal health. Side effects are not limited to, but can include healthy weight loss, improved energy, better quality sleep, sex drive, less bloating, constipation, and brain fog – for starters.
This is what we’re after, am I right?
So again for this year I’m bringing it back and I want you to focus on the following starting now and beyond:
…The things that move the needle forward.
…That move you towards optimal health- away from dis-ease, nagging symptoms, frustration, and guilt.
More than the number on the scale…
the latest restrictive diet trend…
counting every calorie or morsel of food that passes your lips…
In case you didn’t join us for last year’s challenge, continue reading to dive into each of the 8 pillars and my proposed action steps that will move you towards your ultimate gut health goals.
Pillar 1: Sleep
Yes, that important. I’d argue perhaps the most important for your gut health and your overall health.
But so easily overlooked and is usually the first thing to be affected by our busy lifestyles.
Sleep is crucial for healing and rejuvenating the body.
A lack of sleep can seriously impact the body’s ability to detoxify. And we want the gunk out.
There is a system that takes place in deep sleep responsible for clearing buildup in the brain.
Melatonin (the sleep hormone) has powerful anti-cancer properties.
Stabilizes blood sugar which benefits mood, cravings, energy levels.
- Optimize circadian rhythm.
- Promote melatonin production naturally.
- Create optimal sleeping space.
- Try to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day.
- Expose your body to the sun within 20 minutes of waking.
- Keep the lights low after 6pm.
- Remove tv and phones from bedroom.
- Avoid eating heavy meal before bed, especially crappy carbs.
- Sleep with a face mask and ear plugs if possible.
- Get black out curtains for your bedroom.
- Where do you currently measure up? What could you begin to implement today?
Pillar 2: Handling Stress Well
3 of 4 doctor’s visits are due to stress-related ailments.
Stress causes the body to lose its ability to regulate inflammation.
Cortisol (stress hormone) reduces the brain’s ability to function properly.
3 AREAS TO FOCUS ON WHEN HEALING CHRONIC STRESS:
- The foods we eat
- Moving the body
- Learning how to reset the nervous system
- Search ‘tapping for stress’ or ‘guided meditation’ on #Youtube and try it for 5 minutes.
- Create a budget you can stick to which will help keep yourself out of debt and minimize money stress.
- Move your body. Exercise boosts the feel good hormones and reduces stress hormones.
- Set boundaries – work to fill your space with things and people that make you feel good. Reduce the ‘need’ to say ‘yes’ to everything and everyone. They will be OK – you can’t pour from an empty cup.
- Take a social media break. Need I say more?
- Carve out ‘me’ time. Scheduling it allows it to act like an appointment.
Pillar 3: Eat a Diverse Diet
When it comes to gut health nutrition and dieting, we tend to get stuck in a rut or eat the same things over and over.
Our guts, genes, and health goals require a range of foods.
Some studies even argue eating diverse foods is more important than the quantity.
EATING A DIVERSITY OF FOODS:
- Provides different arrays of nutrients and build a varied population within our guts. We want this.
- Decreases risk of food allergy/sensitivities
- Reduces inflammation
- Promote array of antioxidant & nutrient support – all with different jobs/disease-fighting ability.
- Pick 2 NEW fruits or vegetables you can add to your cart this week. Share a pic!
- Utilize in-season produce.
- Try a new variation of a staple food. Example: colored potatoes, squashes, different lettuces.
- Keep your plate colorful. The more color, the more diversity!
Pillar 4: Exercise
WHAT EXERCISE DOES TO YOUR BODY:
- Helps burn calories.
- Helps lower blood sugars by increasing insulin receptor sensitivity
- Turns on 500+ genes (hello #Superhuman)
- Helps body filter waste
- Helps control cravings, hunger cues
- Positively alters bacteria in the gut microbiome after only six weeks (without changing your diet)
So what holds us back?
What helps me:
- Scheduling it.
- Good music.
- Using it as part of ‘me’ time.
- Being accountable -grab a buddy!
- Schedule in 3 sessions of exercise into next week’s calendar.
- Try a new class at the gym.
- Grab a buddy and go for a walk in the morning, on your lunch break, or after dinner.
- Aim for 10,000 steps a day.
Pillar 5: Exercise the Brain
Protecting the brain is more important than ever as we watch Alzheimer’s climb the ranks to #6 leading causes of death, killing more people than breast & colon cancer combined.
Increased environmental toxins, heavy metals.
Continual rise of chronic diseases (we refer to Alzheimer’s as Type 3 Diabetes now).
Poor diet & lifestyle.
Also, consider how much time we do brain-mush activities like scrolling – I know, I’m guilty too.
The brain wants to learn new things. When it is bored, it begins to atrophy. It’s never too early to start.
- Switch things up:
- Take a new route home.
- Take a cooking class.
- Brush your teeth with your opposite hand.
- Physical exercise – there’s that guy again. Exercise turns on the BDNF gene that stimulates new brain cell formation.
- Read physical books, papers.
- Utilize motor skills often- coloring, drawing, painting, knitting, making a puzzle.
- Keep blood sugar balanced.
- Consume healthy fats.
- Consider nootropics- brain boosting supplements like L-theanine (found in green tea) or curcumin.
Pillar 6: Maintain Intimacy
When we think about gut health, we typically think of food and exercising first.
We take a linear approach: if I eat healthy and workout = I will be healthy.
But those are only 2 of the pillars…
One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is failing to address their relationships and the importance of intimacy, connection, and purpose.
1 – There is a direct pathway that connects our brain and emotions to our nervous system.
2 – We are wired to be intimate.
A study was done that showed sex may keep our brains sharp as we age.
Your personal beliefs and connections with others will move you towards optimal health.
How can we boost this area?
- Identify your purpose.
- Strike up a conversation with someone new.
- Inner-child journaling.
- Deepen a conversation with a loved one.
- Love makin’
- Read/pray/meditate with someone.
- Express gratitude towards a person.
- Join & participate in a group of like-minded people.
- Send a hand written note to someone.
How do you deepen intimacy in your relationships?
Pillar 7: Provide Body with Nutritional Support for Immunity
Our immune system is our defense and protectors.
For optimal gut health, we are always looking to support this body system in fighting off viruses or any other foreign invaders (in foods, water, drugs, products).
- Support the gut & brain -directly connected to immune function. Did you know 80% of your immune system lies in your gut?
- Stay hydrated: clean water, soups, herbal teas
- Reduce toxin exposure
- Color your plate
- Get good sleep – restoring and healing time for body
- Utilize spices: ginger, garlic, onions, oregano, turmeric
- Ditch the plastic in an effort to reduce toxins
- Have 3 different colorful foods on your plate
- Supplement with quality vitamin D and zinc
Pillar 8: Ensure Healthy Gut Biome
There are 150x more genes in your gut than your entire body. They interact with all areas of the body to tell it how to function. Think: metabolism, appetite, mood, immunity, brain power.
The term “biome” refers to the #gutbugs living in your intestines. The more diverse these are, the better.
What boosts the gut biome:
- Eating diverse range of foods (oh hey, pillar 3)
- Fiber: colorful fruits, vegs, legumes
- Fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha
- Probiotic supplement *as recommended
What hurts the gut biome:
- What hurts the gut biome:
- Medications, NSAIDS
- Processed foods, artificial sugars
- Conventionally raised meat, dairy
- Like Pillar 3 – work on creating diversity in the diet. Eating local, seasonally, swapping out foods each week.
- Ditch the TUMS – try a digestive enzyme instead.
- Chew thoroughly & don’t eat in stressful environment
- Utilize my Gut Loving Foods List to incorporate some prebiotics and probiotics to promote gut health
Where do you stand? Will you agree to focus on these 8 pillars instead of jumping from diet to diet?
This is how we move the needle forward and begin to #HealThySelf.
Follow me on Instagram @amandarigby.rd for more tips!
Heavy metal overload is one of the 4 reasons why we get sick, stay sick, and have trouble ridding our body from a state of disease. The three other reasons are:
- Inflammation/hidden infections
- Emotional trauma/stress
- Environmental toxicities (food, water, products)
Knowing this allows to practice root-cause medicine. If we know the root cause, there will be no band aids, guessing, or shots in the dark.
Because many are dealing with multiple of the above at the same time, they will receive different diagnoses. These diagnoses include Diabetes, Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Autoimmune disease, Leaky Gut, IBS, chronic fatigue syndrome, brain fog, Autism, and the like.
In conclusion, there is no use of just knowing about these diagnoses. This is because it is equally important to know that these are the manifestations of a combination of the four causes mentioned above.
Once you arm yourself with this information, you will be capable of healing, as a result. Knowing the information means understanding what you’re feeling, dealing with, and fighting against. This helps you know that it is real and has a place of origin.
To take advantage of this information, you just have to know where to start. And to start things off, let me tell you what heavy metals are.
What are Heavy Metals?
Heavy metals have high degree of toxicity, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, and mercury. That is why they rank among the priority heavy metals that are of public health significance.
They are known to induce multiple organ damage – even at lower levels of exposure. These metals are likewise classified as human carcinogens (known or probable) according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
When it comes to heavy metals, the science is clear and ever-growing. Science connects heavy metal build up to the development of Alzheimer’s, reducing mitochondrial function, interfering with tumor-suppressing pathways, depleting glutathione (our strongest antioxidant), and more.
Metals like lead and mercury are able to cross the blood-brain barrier which can lead to neurotoxicity and mood disorders. Mercury also depletes glutathione, vitamin C, and inhibits B vitamins from being produced.
Where are Heavy Metals found?
· Water supply
· Dental fillings (silver)
· Food supply
· Household products
· Beauty products, lotions, fragrances
· Air pollution
· Pharmaceutical Drugs
But, there is some good news: we can fight back. By adding in specific nutrients, herbs, and practices, we are able to decrease the metal load in the body. Knowing what to eat and what to do will also provide nutrients that pull metals from our organs (especially the brain!), and promote the body’s ability to rid itself of these toxins.
The Top Tips To Reducing Heavy Metal Load
1. Optimize detoxification with some #liverlove.
The liver is burdened with the job of ridding the body from toxins, pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides in our food and water, etc.
Never before has it had as much work to do as our environment provides today. Because it is working double time now, it can become sluggish and backed up.
Therefore, utilizing specific herbs such as chlorella, spirulina, cilantro, parsley help to bind to metals and move them out of the body.
Also, eating foods like broccoli, kale, radish, garlic, and onions provide sulfur-containing minerals to aid in enhancing detox pathways.
2. Optimize gut function.
3. Reduce exposure to allergenic foods (dairy, gluten, corn, eggs, soy).
4. Consuming prebiotic and probiotic foods.
Download my gut-loving food list for options!
5. Increase antioxidants.
Antioxidants are the good guys. In general, they help defend the cells from harm and can even reverse damage.
We know heavy metals reduce antioxidants in the body. Further, it also creates more free radicals (stressors, cell damagers). Hence, these instances increase the need for additional support. Consequently, this is the reason why we need to increase the antioxidants in our body.
Studies show those with Alzheimer’s have brain lesions caused by free radicals. Add foods rich in color: dark berries, leafy vegetables, beets, nuts, beans.
Utilize saunas, hot yoga, and exercise to move the toxins out of the body.
7. Consider removal of mercury fillings.
**A biological, specifically-trained dentist is needed for this procedure.
Make sure you’re pooping 2x daily to fully eliminate heavy metals from the body.
In addition to this, use ground flax seeds to smoothies, eat oatmeal, increase fruits and vegetables, and increase your water intake.
Further, you can also consider Magnesium if you’re experiencing constipation.
Whenever possible, I try to incorporate seaweed (binds to metals in gut), wild blueberries (binds to metals in brain), selenium (just 2 Brazil nuts daily!) to really support the removal of metals. I utilize a Heavy Metal Detox smoothie daily to try to get all of the good guys in!
I treat my patients assuming they are loaded with heavy metals. From there, I work to incorporate these practices to promote the removal of heavy metals.
So, if you’re curious, schedule an Ask Amanda session to receive a kit to perform a heavy metal test to assess your load and assess your results.
Love, light, and healing.
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Frustrated over $8 strawberries and blueberries? I know I feel ya. I’d love to eat fresh berries year-round (which is why I’m trying to grow my own strawberries and also have been making a lot of smoothies with frozen berries #hack). But the reason your strawberries are $8 over the past few months is that they’re out of season!
That’s the problem when it comes to eating seasonally. But eating with the seasons can actually help boost your gut microbiome. So, your craving for strawberries and blueberries can wait!
When you eat seasonally, you can welcome great prices and quality taste on things like apples, asparagus, avocados, bananas, carrots, celery, kale, kiwi, citrus fruits, strawberries, pineapples, spinach, turnips, and the like with the upcoming spring months.
What does it mean to eat seasonally?
Eating seasonally means to change one’s diet in accordance to the foods readily available by nature.
Consequently, not only will eating seasonally save you some money on your grocery budget, but it will also provide you with the most delicious, freshest, belly- (and environmentally) friendly foods.
Benefits of Eating Seasonally:
This is because the fruits and vegetables that are in season are fresh. Also, the fully ripened produce has the best flavor, texture, and color. It is just how it is meant to be.
Compared to getting picked early or grown in less natural conditions, the foods that are truly ready in each season have a higher nutrient value. The reason behind this is because they’ve been given the right amount of time to grow and obtain nutrients from the sun and soil.
In relation to this, on average, produce travels anywhere from 2,000-6,000 miles to get to us and our supermarkets! The nutrient density of the foods declines as soon as they are harvested so you can imagine what we are left with. Studies have shown upwards of 70% of nutrients being lost by time we get to it.
Abundance = lower price
When certain foods are plentiful, the price won’t be as high. Say goodbye to your $8 strawberries whenever they are in season! It’s also cheaper for farmers to produce. Cash in on this.
Seasonal food is more likely to get grown closer to home. This then allows you to know where your stuff came from!
It being local or organic also reduces the use of pesticides, herbicides, and genetic modification because it doesn’t need as much ‘help’ to grow or transport.
Eating seasonally allows your taste buds to explore new flavors. As a result, it helps you pick things you may never have tried, and get creative with incorporating them into your dishes!
Eating seasonally allows you to provide your gut microbiome with a diverse array of foods – which it loves. Therefore, having diversity in the gut helps boost the immune system.
Once we begin to eat and live by the tune of how nature intended, not only do we become more aware, appreciative, and connected to our food supply, but our bodies thank us.
In conclusion, the foods that are ready during specific seasons provide exactly what the body needs: detoxification from the long winter of heavier foods (as seen in the plethora of leafy greens in the spring), hydration (as seen with more berries, watermelon, cucumbers in the summer) and cooling (as seen in the emergence of apples in the fall to help rid the body of heat to prepare for winter).
These foods were here before us and will remain here after us – they must be on to something.
Below are a list of foods and their corresponding seasons. Print these and put them on your fridge or shopping list!
To eating with the seasons and happy bellies!
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