The time of rebirth and renewal is almost upon us with the coming of Spring. This is the time of year to start planning your end of winter detox and cleanse, put in your orders at our Indigo Health Store for temperature sensitive items so you can avoid expensive shipping charges and plan for some spring cleaning.
End of Winter Detox and Cleanse: There are many ways to cleanse and I have provided you with a general guide. There may be reasons why yours might need to be modified, such as diabetes or a complete inability to take it easy during the cleanse. If you need one modified for you, set up a brief appointment and we can customize it together.
Time to order temperature sensitive items: The overnight shipping charges on temperature sensitive items are so expensive that I send this little reminder to you as warmer weather approaches. Items to order include probiotics, prebiotics, suppositories, flax or fish oils (some are stored cold) and Very Berry.
Spring Cleaning: Spring is a great time to do some home environment cleaning up – out with the old and in with the new. Here are some areas to think about: replace your pillows, flip your mattresses, wash your curtains, change air filters, wipe down blinds and fans, air out and/ or wash throw rugs and bedspreads, clean out drawers and closets, change out shower head filters and switch from your warm mist to your cool mist humidifiers. Next month I will give you some additional tips on preparing for allergy season and switching out your cold season herbs for your warm season herbs.
The foundation of good health starts with a healthy, happy digestive system. The gut is where many of the most important processes happen in the body such as eliminating toxins, absorbing nutrients, filtering out viruses and bacteria, and supporting the immune system. When our gut is in optimal shape, our body tends to be healthier overall. Below are five areas everyone can address in order to help improve their gut function. However, keep in mind that each of us has an individual picture of health. That’s why it is always a good idea to talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about your own digestive wellness.
1. Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial strains of bacteria that occur naturally in the body. They help break down food, aid in digestion, make some nutrients more bio-available, and combat the overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria. The use of pharmaceuticals, antibiotics, and chronic stress all compromise health levels of beneficial bacteria, making it harder for them to do their job. Many of us need daily supplementation with a high quality probiotic. Naturopathic Doctors are experts in knowing what brands, strains and doses are appropriate for individuals. It is important to maintain the quality of your supplement by keeping it refrigerated. Also, help feed good bacteria with soluble fiber and fermented foods.
2. Food Sensitivities: One thing to eliminate from your diet to immediately improve your gut health are foods to which you have allergies and sensitivities. Food sensitivities are not as obvious as food that you have an anaphylactic reaction too — such as hives, inflammation, difficulty breathing or rashes. That deals with a different part of the immune system. Food sensitivities are foods that you might eat on a regular basis that your body has developed a chronic low-grade intolerance for. If the problem is left untreated, your body can become over-reactive to many kinds of foods, even some you don’t eat regularly. Your Naturopathic Doctor can test you for food sensitivities so that you can eliminate them from your diet.
3. Elimination: One of the most critical parts of a healthy gut is good elimination. Naturopathic Doctors can tell quite a bit about your overall state of health by the number of bowel movements you have a day as well as the quality. Soluble and insoluble fiber will help with elimination, as does movement in the form of exercise and stretching. It is important to have the right balance in your transit time between when you eat and when you have a bowel movement. If you are constipated, it means that toxins and body waste are sitting in your intestines. You run the risk of reabsorbing some of the toxins. If your transit time is too quick, your body doesn’t have time to absorb the nutrition from your food.
4. Hydration: An important aspect to elimination and a healthy gut is proper hydration. We need water to flush toxins, absorb nutrients through osmosis, and help the body from becoming constipated. Make sure to include clean sources of water in your daily routine. Staying hydrated throughout the day is more beneficial to your body than hydrating with several glasses of water all at once. While flavored beverages can be appealing, added sugars, caffeine, dyes, and other chemicals can negate any positive effects. Water is necessary in and of itself, so make sure to get enough pure, clean water in your diet as necessary.
5. Stress Reduction: Our gut is often thought of as our emotional center. We get butterflies in our stomach, or nausea with stage fright, or we may have a gut feeling. In truth, chronic stress, anger and anxiety can have a negative impact on our gut health. It is important to be mindful of the amount of chronic stress you have in your life. Conscious breath, or taking deep refreshing breaths several times during the day can help release any stored up tension in your gut. If you find yourself storing stress, try taking a walk outside, phone a friend, or listen to music that soothes you.
Gaby, A. (2011). Nutritional Medicine. Concord, N.H: Fritz Perlberg Publishing.
Murray, M. T. (1997). Chronic Candidiasis: Your natural guide to healing with diet, vitamins, minerals, herbs, exercise, and other natural methods. Rocklin, CA: Prima Health.
Yogurt is a fermented food made from both dairy and nondairy bases that provide strains of beneficial bacteria for your gut. Not only does your body get the benefits of healthy probiotic strains, depending on the kind of yogurt you are eating you also get the benefits of calcium, phosphorus, riboflavin, and potassium. My favorite yogurt is Siggi’s, a traditional Icelandic skyr yogurt. There are several non-dairy forms of yogurt for those who can’t tolerate dairy. There are several soy based yogurts from companies like Wild Wood Organics, Whole Soy & Co. For those avoiding soy, there are also rice alternatives from Ricera and coconut alternatives from So Delicious. When choosing a yogurt product, look for active live cultures, low sugar content, and organic ingredients.
5 Delicious Non-Dairy Yogurt Options. (http://voices.yahoo.com/5-delicious-non-dairy-yogurt-options-3922320.html?cat=5)
The World’s Healthiest Foods. “Yogurt”. http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=124
This desert is lightly sweet from the natural sugars in the fruit and touch of honey. Use any non-dairy or dairy yogurt in the recipe. In addition to the benefits of the probiotics in the yogurt, you will be getting the antioxidants from the fresh berries, and the immune boosting beta-glucans from the oats. This healthy recipe also provides nutrients such as calcium and B vitamins.
4 cups old-fashioned organic oats
2 cups grated organic coconut
1 cup sliced raw almonds
1/4 cup raw honey
3/4 cup organic butter or Smart Balance
1 cup organic granola cereal
1 1/2 cups flavored coconut yogurt
1 cup sliced organic strawberries
1 cup organic blueberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss oats, coconut, honey, almonds, canola oil together and place onto a cooking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool. In serving glasses, layer granola, yogurt, and fruit as desired. Serve immediately, or cover, and chill for up to 2 hours.
There are over 400 species and thousands of strains of bacteria that are supposed to inhabit the lower intestines and colon. These 400+ species are collectively called probiotics, which means “for life”, and were initially discovered in the early 1900’s. These bacteria have many roles in good health such as making short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), polyamines, vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids. Another function, especially in the case of Lactobacillus species, is to prevent food from decay, preserve antioxidants and vitamins, remove toxins and keep pathogenic organisms at bay. A third and major role of probiotics is to maintain proper immune function. Among the various effects on the immune system, a specific action is to stimulate the action of white blood cells like the macrophages, natural killer cells, monocytes, and neutrophils. When buying a probiotic, you want a multi-strain product called “broad spectrum”. It should have at least 8-15 different types of probiotic bacteria. Avoid supplements with fillers or preservatives. Make sure it is a product that has been kept cold in the store and then keep it in your fridge when you get it home. Look for supplements that contain prebiotics as well like: inulin and FOS. Talk to your Naturopathic Doctor about the right product and dosing for your health.
Jeanne A. Drisko, MD, CNS; Cheryl K. Giles, MD; Bette J. Bischoff, RD. (2003). Probiotics in Health Maintenance and Disease Prevention. Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 8, Number 2.
John A. Catanzaro, N.D. and Lisa Green, B.Sc. (1997). Microbial Ecology and Probiotics in Human Medicine (Part II). Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 2, Number 4.
Yehuda Ringel, Eamonn MM Quigley and Henry C Lin. (2012). Using Probiotics in Gastrointestinal Disorders. The American Journal of Gastroenterology Supplements 1, 34-40.
Slippery Elm is an herb that can help rebalance an over-extended or inflamed GI system. Because Slippery elm contains mucilage, it becomes like a slick gel when mixed with water and taken internally. This gel coats and soothes the stomach and intestines, as well as reduces inflammation because of its antioxidant effects. Slippery elm also stimulates the GI system to secrete more mucus, which protects the gastrointestinal tract. It is important to not use Slippery Elm for long periods of time without consulting your Naturopathic Doctor. Because of its ability to coat the lining of the intestines, it could decrease your ability to absorb essential nutrients. It is not indicated for long-term use.
University of Maryland Medical Center. “Slippery Elm”. (http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/slippery-elm-000274.htm#ixzz2LyZaX7FJ)
Abdominal massage is a great therapy to help get sluggish intestines moving and help with constipation, bloating, gas and elimination. Abdominal massage helps stimulate peristalsis, which are contractions in your GI tract that help move waste through. It also aids in digestion by pressing on strategic acupressure points. To begin, start on the lower right of your stomach and gently press upward towards your sternum, around the top portion of your stomach, down to your lower left side, and then across your lower abdomen back to your starting point. Do this several times, always moving in a clockwise direction. If you feel a great deal of pain when you press lightly into your stomach, it might be important to check in with your Naturopathic Doctor. Abdominal massage should be done at least twice per day until improvement is felt.
For a video demonstration, visit the link below.
Simple Massage To Improve Digestion & Elimination. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOvK8PUlWig)