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meditation

What Meditation Has to do with Gut Health

What Meditation Has to do with Gut Health

When you think of meditation you probably don’t associate it with better digestion and gut health. I know I didn’t until I learned just how much stress influences our gut health and just how powerful meditation is for decreasing stress.

What Evolution Has to do With Healthy Digestion

Issues like leaky gut often come from living a high-stress lifestyle. Most of us are under a lot of stress in today’s world. When you’re feeling anxious or rushed, your body goes into fight or flight. This is a survival mechanism that’s been with us since long before our frontal lobes developed. Back when we had to struggle just to survive, fight or flight was useful, but nowadays we don’t have to fight off predators and run for our lives (at least not often). This response to external stress kicks in anytime something triggers our stress response.

When your body is in fight or flight it isn’t able to direct much energy towards proper digestion. The food we take in when we’re in a hurry, working, or worried just sits in our guts until we’ve calmed down enough to initiate digestion. But a person’s still gotta eat and that’s where things get tricky. If you want healthy digestion, more energy, clear skin and a calm nervous system, meditation is the answer.

How Meditation Helps Our Digestion

Learning and practicing meditation over time helps to decrease stress and turn off the fight or flight response that many people are all too familiar with. The nervous system and the gut are inextricably linked. Humans were never designed to be stressed out all the time, and when we learn to calm our nervous systems our health improves dramatically.

When you get used to tuning into your breath and releasing stressful negative thought patterns your digestion will improve, you’ll have more energy for fun activities and life will seem a whole lot less overwhelming.

Easy Ways to Incorporate Meditation in your Life

Simply taking even 5-10 minutes a day to sit down in a quiet comfortable place and focus on the breath is enough to make a difference.

Set aside time each day to do nothing but breathe. Allow any thoughts that arise to drift away without attachment.

Here’s a great list of apps you can use to help you easily make meditation a part of your life.

 

Balance your Hormones Naturally

Balance your Hormones Naturally

Hey beautiful wellness warrior! 

What does hormones have to do with managing moods?  Everything.  Hormones, such as estrogen and insulin, are chemical messengers that affect many aspects of your health as they travel in your bloodstream throughout your entire body. Some of the most common side effects of hormone imbalance include:

  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Low libido

What you need to know about your hormones organs and glands like your thyroid, adrenals, pituitary, ovaries, testicles and pancreas regulate most of your hormone production, and if your hormones become even slightly imbalanced it can cause major health issues.

The good news is there are ways to balance your hormones naturally.

8 Ways to Balance Hormones Naturally

1. All things yoga and meditation

I love how both yoga and mediation are good for so many things - but for hormone balancing they are brilliant!  Yoga is an amazing technology that supports the bodies natural rhythms and balances cycles.  Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms with a consistent practice for 8 weeks by more than half.  I consider these two practices as a given in my life and give a huge credit to them for helping me heal from my bipolar disorder - but I also know that one of the reasons why my 46 year old body is still so young is because of these practices that I have.

2. Supplement with Adaptogen Herbs and Essential Oils

Adaptogen herbs are a unique class of healing plants that promote hormone balance and protect the body from a wide variety of diseases.  They combating stress by improving Improving thyroid function, reducing anxiety and depression, stabilizing blood sugar and supporting adrenal glands.

The essential oils that I use for myself include clary sage on the ankles of my feet (the reflexolgy points of my girl parts).

3. Balance Omega-3/6 Ratio

Rule of thumb: Be sure to steer clear from oils high in omega-6s (safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, canola, soybean and peanut), and load up on rich sources of natural omega-3s (wild fish, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and grass-fed animal products).

4. Heal Your Gut

The health of our gut affects your digestive tract, but also causes hormone issues and can more specifically target your thyroid.  Most people who don't take care of their gut have an a deficiency of probiotics. Probiotics actually help your body produce certain vitamins that affect hormone levels like insulin.

The top foods and supplements that support healing the gut include: kombucha kefir, fermented vegetables, and high-fiber foods like vegetables and sprouted seeds.

In addition, supplements like digestive enzymes and probiotics can aid in repairing your gut lining, which in turn can balance your hormones.

Some of the main things that damage your digestive health include processed foods, gluten, hydrogenated oils and emotional stress so these helpful additions to your life will go a long way to supporting your well-being.

5. Get the Toxins OUT!

I know we all love to go to the beauty counter and buy the nicest smelling or latest make-up products but we take on siginificant amounts of chemicals and toxins into our body through the skin.  Over the years, I have cleaned up my make-up bag, my cleaners in my house, my laudry detergent and for sure don't lather body mosturizer on my skin that isn't full of chemicals.  I think my underarm deodorant was last to go natural because I am such a crazy sweater when I exercise (the fear of the stink in yoga class out-weighed my desire to not stick chemicals under my arm pits every day!)  The good news is that natural solutions are really very good and effective - and I only reserve the stronger toxic stuff for the special days where I am speaking or my wedding day ;)  

6. Get More Sleep

For anyone who struggles with mental wellness, you KNOW that you need sleep.  SO this is a given... but here is what you need to know about your hormones and sleep.  Lack of sleep and sleeping at the wrong time actually may be the worst habits people have that disturb hormone balance.

Why? Because hormones work on a schedule! Case in point: Cortisol, the stress hormone, is regulated at midnight. Therefore, people who go to bed late never truly get a break from the sympathetic flight/fight stress response, which has led to widespread stress-related health disorders in our country.

I know you might be a self subsribed "night owl" but to maximize hormone function, get to bed by 10 p.m.  If you struggle with sleep (even though you know it's good for you!), please check out my tips for getting your sleep back

8. Limit Caffeine

Too much caffeine is almost as bad as not getting enough sleep (and is part of that bad sleep cycle too!)   Caffeine elevates your cortisol levels, lowers your thyroid hormone levels and basically creates havoc throughout your entire body. 

My tip to help lower your caffeine is to start to crowd it out with other drinks that can give you a little boost.  One of my favorites to add to my day is matcha green tea.  I will even add the matcha tea bag with a green tea and mix them together.  This awesome matcha tea not only benefits hormone support but is also a cancer fighting friend! 

9. Supplement with Vitamin D3

I live in Canada and am always grateful that Christmas falls in our December month. Why?  Because by 4:00 in the afternoon I am already in the dark!  My ability to get out and get some awesome sunshine is super limited in the winter and I totally notice what happens if I get off track of taking a vitamin D3 supplement.  Let's just say it is more than the winter blues for me!

Most people should supplement with around 2,000 IU to 5,000 IU daily of vitamin D3 on days they’re not in the sun.  So if you are not getting out and playing in the sun, make sure you are supplementing your sunshine vitamin - your hormones will thank you for it!