Do you suffer from acid reflux, indigestion, slow gut transit time, or feeling like there’s a brick in your stomach after eating? Or perhaps you’re on a restricted diet for a chronic health condition but still react to an ever shrinking list of foods. If so, you need to work on restoring digestion.
Many factors affect digestion, including aging, poor brain function that affects gut function, poor diet, and more. Often the problem often isn’t the food itself, but a hyper sensitive immune system reacting to food proteins that are not broken down properly. Thankfully, you can improve your symptoms greatly with proper supplementation.
Breakdown of Food Proteins is Key for Good Digestion
For good digestion, you need sufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzyme activity in the gut. These both serve the important function of breaking down food proteins, which prevents the immune system from targeting them and causing symptoms.
HCl is naturally present in the stomach and is vital for digestion of proteins. Low HCl symptoms include:
Many people with poor digestion also have poor pancreatic enzyme output. Similar to stomach acid, these enzymes are critical to break apart food proteins so the immune system doesn’t react to them, causing inflammation.
Supplement with HCl and Digestive Enzymes for Healthy Digestion
Supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes can go a long way toward improving your digestion by supporting breakdown of food proteins as well as relieving symptoms.
Follow this advice when supplementing with HCl and digestive enzymes:
Oral Tolerance and Digestive Function
It’s particularly important for people with food sensitivities to support food protein breakdown with proper levels of HCl and digestive enzymes. At the root of this is the concept of oral tolerance Oral tolerance is how well a person’s immune system can tolerate acceptable foods while responding appropriately to bacteria or other harmful compounds.
While there are other factors that affect oral tolerance, it’s important for food proteins to be broken down small enough that the body accepts them and doesn’t mount an immune reaction causing symptoms.
You’ve heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” When we can’t digest food properly, it means our bodies aren’t getting the fuel to function at their best. If you suffer from symptoms of poor digestion or food sensitivities, contact my office.
I treat a lot of patients who are dealing with thyroid issues - primarily hypothyroidism.
But what I frequently find is that hypothyroidism is only a symptom of a larger problem, often some type of chronic autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s, which causes inflammation of the thyroid, leading to symptoms like weight gain, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, constipation, difficulty getting pregnant, and joint and muscle pain.
Thyroiditis is commonly treated with a synthetic form of the thyroid stimulating hormone, but a study shows that 10 sessions of Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) may provide anti-inflammatory effects which can increase thyroid function. Many patients who did 10 sessions of LLLT were not only able to stop taking their thyroid medication but the LLLT actually helped to regenerate damaged thyroid tissue.
If you’re suffering from hypothyroidism due to a chronic autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s, Well Balanced Body is pleased to offer Low Level Light Therapy treatment. Ten sessions are recommended in order to see the full effects of this treatment.
You can now book your light therapy sessions online!
New research shows increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables can boost your well-being in as little as two weeks. Although the study didn’t explain why, previous studies show eating more vegetables impacts brain, immune, and gut health — all of which affect your mood.
The New Zealand study divided more than 170 young adults into three groups. The researchers personally gave one group two servings on fresh fruits and vegetables each day. The second group was given vouchers and text reminders to consume extra produce. The third group was not given any produce or vouchers.
The first group given the extra produce in person consumed an average of 3.7 servings a day of fruits and vegetables. After two weeks they reported feeling improvements in mood, vitality, motivation, as well as a flourishing of well-being.
The other two groups reported no change.
5 Ways Eating More Produce Makes You Feel Better
When you look at the effects of a plant-based diet on health, the results of this study are no surprise.
Here are five reasons why eating more fruits and vegetables can make you happier and more motivated:
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that promotes relaxation. Brain scans show healthy gut bacteria promotes relaxation.
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower brain inflammation. A Harvard-affiliated study found that healthy gut bacteria lowers brain inflammation, thus lowering the risk of dementia. Brain inflammation is also linked with depression, anxiety, and irritability.
Eating more vegetables increases the gut bacteria that lower depression, anxiety, eating disorders, autism symptoms, and obesity. By now you get the picture. Studies continue to find links between gut bacteria and a variety of mood and mental disorders. Eating a wide variety of plenty of produce is the best way to create a healthy diversity of gut bacteria.
Regular bowel movements from increased fiber of a high-vegetable diet improve your mood. It’s no mystery why constipated babies are so fussy. Research shows a higher prevalence of mood disorders in those with chronic constipation. Although myriad factors can cause constipation, often it’s as simple as too little plant fiber. Eating ample amounts of vegetables and fruits promotes regular, healthy bowel movements (unless you have a gut disorder that makes digesting produce difficult). Constipation increases circulating toxins in the body, which can inflame the brain and leads to bad moods.
What Does a Serving of Vegetables Look Like?
The new recommendation from the American Institute for Cancer Research is to eat at least five servings a day of fruits and vegetables, but ideally you should eat seven to ten. Five of those servings should be vegetables and two to three fruit (to avoid consuming too much sugar). In other words, two-thirds of each meal should be vegetables.
A “serving” is a vague reference. Here are some ideas of what a serving looks like:
Most Americans don’t eat near enough vegetables. It takes some practice and discipline to develop a vegetable habit (vegetable for breakfast, anyone?), but once you do you’ll be motivated by how much better you feel.
Pre-prep veggies for quick salads, and make big batches of veggie soups and stews to facilitate the transition.
The cerebellum (the area at the back of the brain) is best known for its role in balance and coordination. However, the cerebellum does more than that — when it starts to malfunction, the results can be not only worsened balance, but also anxiety, insomnia, and hyper sensitivity.
The cerebellum is a primary integrator of information for the brain. Our body has hundreds of thousands of receptors that detect motion, vision, and where and how our body and joints are positioned at all times. These receptors constantly relay information to the brain so that we can move and function properly in our environment.
This information requires organizing before heading to the rest of the brain. The cerebellum condenses the information and “gates” it, meaning it releases it in manageable amounts to the brain’s cortex, the outer covering with its characteristic folds.
The cortex, which is responsible for higher-order functions of thought and action, decides if you need to carry out a specific action or thought in response to the information, such as turn left, answer a question, run from danger, make a decision, etc. The cortex then sends its information back to the cerebellum to help carry out actions.
When Things Go Wrong With The Cerebellum
The cerebellum is a common site of dysfunction. It can degenerate, meaning neurons die. The cerebellum is very susceptible to sensitivity to gluten and other foods, environmental toxins, and oxidative stress. It also can degenerate with age — why older people notoriously have bad balance. Children born with brain developmental disorders often have poor cerebellar function.
Poor cerebellar function is observed in various ways, such as poor balance, lack of coordination, or a tremor as you go to pick something up or bring a glass to your mouth (known as termination tremors).
Stand with your feet together, your arms at your side, and then close your eyes. If you sway more frequently to one side, that may indicate the side with more cerebellar dysfunction — it takes it longer to respond to falling on that side of your body.
Other tests your doctor may use to observe cerebellum function are coordination tests such as: finger to nose, walking heel to toe in a straight line, performing complex alternating movements, and ocular tracking (the eyes give insight into function).
Poor cerebellar function can also cause dizziness, disorientation, and nausea in cars, on boats, or when seeing things move swiftly, such as in a movie. Basically, the cerebellum is not able to respond appropriately to input from the environment.
Cerebellum Function and Anxiety & Insomnia
As the cerebellum loses function it begins to falter at its job of gating information delivered to the cortex. As a result, excess information slips through.
This means the cortex and areas in the brainstem receive more information than they can adequately manage. Much of the role of the frontal cortex is to act as a brake pedal on the brainstem, preventing the brainstem from spinning out of control. Our brainstem governs myriad functions, such as emotions, heart function, blood pressure, and digestion.
This poorly gated sensory overload can cause many symptoms:
Sensitivity to light and sound
Insomnia due to racing mind
Trouble staying asleep
Highly emotionally sensitive
Blood Pressure changes
Many factors work against us when it comes to healthy brain function that prevents an overactive brain and anxiety. They include a culture that cherishes overworking, inflammatory diets, unstable blood sugar, too much screen time, stressful lives, and not enough sleep.
Ask my office for information on how to dampen brain activity and help relieve anxiety and insomnia.
Many different factors can cause anxiety. One little-known cause is a genetic variation that prevents your brain from making enough GABA, a calming brain chemical that prevents anxiety. You can do a simple test with a supplement to find out if this genetic variation affects you.
GABA: The Brain Chemicals That Prevents Anxiety
When GABA is low, anxiety goes up, it’s difficult to sleep, and you always feel like you’re in a hurry or living under the threat of imminent doom.
GABA is made from another brain chemical called glutamate. Glutamate is the opposite of GABA in that it is excitatory and stimulating to the nervous system. Both are necessary for healthy brain function. Ideally, they operate in concert with one another, keeping the brain both sufficiently stimulated and calmed as necessary.
However, many disorders today, including anxiety, involved excess glutamate and insufficient GABA. Excess glutamate not only over stimulates the nervous system, it is also toxic to the brain and can age, or degenerate, it too quickly.
The Alpha-ketoglutaric Acid Challenge to Screen for Genetic Cause of Anxiety
A variety of factors can cause excess glutamate, however, for some it is faulty conversion of glutamate to GABA that is genetic. Consider this possibility if you have a family history of anxiety.
You can test whether you have this genetic conversion variation with a supplement called alpha-ketoglutaric acid (AKG). The body makes AKG into glutamate, some of which will be made into GABA, unless you have this genetic issue.
How To Do The AKG Challenge
To perform the challenge, take 3,000 to 4,000 mg of alpha-ketoglutaric acid. Some people have a response after taking it once; others have to take it for several days to respond. Use trial and error to test it.
If you do not have this genetic conversion issue, the AKG will cause either no symptoms or perhaps a little extra energy from the increased glutamate production, but not anxiety.
For the person with the genetic variation, however, the surge of glutamate production combined with the genetic inability to convert it to GABA will cause excitability, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and other GABA-deficiency symptoms.
If You Have a Positive Result with the AKG Challenge
If the AKG gave you anxiety or insomnia, then you know a perpetual GABA shortage may be an issue for you. Taking GABA support on a regular, lifelong basis may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, and catastrophic thinking.
Compounds that work well to support GABA pathways include l-theanine, l-taurine, vitamin B6, valerian, passion flower, and lithium orotate. These can be taken regularly.
Be careful with drugs that increase GABA, such as benzodiazepenes (Valium, Xanax, etc.) They cause many people to build a tolerance to them and withdrawal can be extremely difficult.
Some supplements such as phenibut act like benzodiazepenes and can also cause tolerance if taken regularly, so be mindful of those. Straight GABA is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier, so if it works, then this may indicate you have a leaky blood-brain barrier, which is commonly associated with leaky gut. Also, taking straight GABA regularly can cause you to build a tolerance as well.
Regular exercise, stress-reducing techniques, blocking blue light at night avoiding foods or supplements that raise glutamate (such as MSG or artificial sweeteners), stabilizing blood sugar, and avoiding foods that cause an immune reaction are some other ways to manage your anxiety naturally.