“Brain ON” Blue Milk (dairy & gluten free)

August 21, 2017
"Brain ON" Blue Milk

Brain ON Blue “Milk”

It’s Back to School time – which means kids need to switch from summer brain to their focused school brain.  This delicious dairy-free milk gets it’s amazing blue hue from a very special living superfood called blue green algae. Algae is a superfood that supports healthy brain function, mood, and energy.  Learn more about this amazing superfood: E3 Live or E3 Live Brain ON.  It’s a great time to try E3 Live – because they are currently offering free shipping use code: FREESHIP.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup of almond, coconut, pea protein or another alternative milk (I often recommend taking a break from cow’s milk/dairy if there are focus & attention or digestion issues)
  • 1 scoop or package of E3 Live or E3 Live Brain ON
  • 1-2 teaspoons of white* chia seeds (optional)
  • Splash of vanilla extract (I like to use alcohol free for smoothies)
  • Optional – 1-2 teaspoons of your favorite natural sweetener – like raw honey, organic stevia, or a couple of pitted dates.
  • pinch of Real Salt (brings out flavors and sweetness)
  • Optional – a couple of ice cubes.  Thickens and chills it.

Directions:

  1. Put the milk and E3 Live into the Vitamix or shaker bottle – swirl around until combined well.
  2. Add the chia seeds and soak for a couple minutes.
  3. Add the vanilla, salt and sweetener, and blend to combine.
  4. Add the ice cubes if desired, blend well.  Serve & enjoy.

Other great additions – 1/2 scoop of vegan protein powder, cinnamon, frozen banana, blueberries, raw cacao, dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs.

*Chia seeds offer ALA omega 3s, fiber and a wide range of vitamins and minerals. I like to use the white chia seeds in kids smoothies – because they blend in invisible.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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5 Tips for Dealing with Anxiety & Stress

December 24, 2016
Holiday Stress?

If you struggle with anxiety and stress, you are not alone.  One of the most common complaints that I hear from clients – kids and adults alike – is feelings of anxiety.

We are all under so much pressure day in and day out, and running from one thing to the next – it is easy to feel like a hamster running on those hamster wheels all day long!!  And with to do lists a mile long, presents to buy, travel and parties, bills piling up…the stress & anxiety levels can definitely go up during the holidays.

Excess stress can lead to elevated blood pressure, and overtime it can also cause elevated cholesterol levels, weight gain, hormone imbalances, digestion issues, mood imbalances, blood sugar issues, and can even be a trigger for diseases. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, showed a 4.2 % increase in heart-related deaths between December 25th and January 7th, some of which could be attributed to elevated stress levels – read more.

But fortunately, there are several natural and healthy ways to deal with and reduce anxiety and stress all year long.

5 tips to reduce stress & anxiety:

 

1. Swap your morning cup of coffee for a cup of matcha tea (or take an L-Theanine supplement)

I love a good cup of Joe, but if you are trying to reduce your stress levels – that might not be the best way to start your day because it can amp you up too much and make you jittery and anxious.   You might be thinking – “But, Sara! I need my caffeine to get going in200 mg of zen the morning!”  The perfect solution is the switch your morning cup of coffee for a cup of matcha tea.  Matcha tea has just enough caffeine to give you a nice energy boost, without making you jittery. And the bonus – matcha tea also has a compound called L-Theanine – which is an amino acid that helps to promote a calm focused feeling. L-Theanine is such a powerful way to reduce anxiety and promote calm feelings, that it is sometimes called “Nature’s Xanax“.  It does this by enhancing the brain’s alpha waves – which creates a deep feeling of relaxation without any sedation or drowsiness.  L-theanine may also help to clear excess free glutamates from the brain, which may contribute to anxiety (free glutamates are found in processed foods, especially those which contain monosodium glutamate – so I always tell clients with anxious kids to skip the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos and Doritos – and any other foods which contain MSG)! If you want the benefit of the L-theanine without the caffeine – you can take an L-theanine supplement too – which is nice to do in the evening to calm down before bedtime.  L-Theanine does not contain caffeine, so you can take it any time of day.  Although it won’t make you feel sleepy, the calm feeling L-theanine provides, can enhance sleep at night.  A 2004 Australian study found L-Theanine to be more effective at inducing relaxation than Xanax!

I find that L-Theanine can even be an effective replacement a glass of wine for taking the ‘edge off’, it can also help to lower blood sugar, and ward off sugar cravings too.

 

2. Get some magnesium (the “calming mineral”).

Magnesium is a mineral, a very important mineral at that – it is responsible for over 350 biochemical processes in the body – from glucose regulation to ATP production, bone & heart health, hormones, and much more. Most people are already deficient in magnesium – and  stress only makes us more depleted. Magnesium is often called “the calming mineral, or the “chill pill” – so if we are deficient, it is no wonder we could be feeling anxious.  To increase your magnesium, you could eat more magnesium rich foods like nuts, seeds, Magnesium malateleafy greens, and….chocolate!!  But go for the dark chocolate, because it is raw cacao where the magnesium is found, and dark chocolate has less sugar than milk chocolate.  You can also take a magnesium supplement – just know that not all types of magnesium are created equal – some are poorly absorbed, and some can have stool softening effects. So it is important to choose the right form of magnesium – I avoid the oxide form, which is poorly absorbed, and has a laxative effect.  I prefer these forms of magnesium: malate, glycinate, orotate, and citrate (citrate is highly bioavailable, but it can also cause loose stools, so start with a low dose like 150 mg).  Magensium can also be absorbed through the skin, so soaking in a bath with magnesium-rich epsom salts can boost your magnesium levels.  Or you can spray a magnesium oil on your skin too.   When I am under stress, I find that increasing my magnesium supplements can help me feel a lot calmer. This is the magnesium supplement that we take at our house: Designs for Health Magnesium Malate.

 

3. Try essential oils.

Believe it or not, essential oils can have a very powerful effect on our mood. I like to diffuse them, use them topically, and I even will put a couple drops of lavendar into my foot soak and onto my pillow for a calming effect at night. Interested in learning more about essential oils? Contact sara@rebalancelife.com

 

4. Balance your gut bacteria.

Whenever someone tells me they have anxiety – I ask how their digestion is, because believe it or not – many cases of anxiety begin in the gut. Our gut has actually been called our second brain! So addressing gut issues is a great tool for dealing with anxiety. One thingDigestive Defense I like to recommend is trying to add a high quality probiotic. I usually recommend a specific strain – called Bacilius coagulans – because it is it is a soil based probiotic – which means it helps to “seed” your gut with good bacteria and crowd out the bad. It is also generally very well tolerated and doesn’t tend to cause bloating. So that is my favorite strain, and it is not the most common one either. You can also eat fermented foods and drinks too – that will help to tip the balance of good bacteria back in your favor too. I have heard that just doing this has helped people reduce their anxiety levels.  This is the probiotic I take and recommend:  Pure Prescriptions’ Digestive Defense.

 

5. Stimulate your Vagus Nerve.

NervanaOur gut is connected to our brain via something called the Vagus Nerve. The vagus nerve plays a critical role in our parasympathetic nervous system – the side of our nervous system that is responsible for relaxation, rest, and recovery.  When the sympathetic nervous system is turned on all the time – we are stuck in a stress response – this can lead to anxiety, poorly controlled stress, and can cause our digestion and hormones to get out of balance.  When there are problems with the vagus nerve, it can lead to all kinds of issues – ranging from anxiety to focus, and even digestion issues like slow motility. When we have out of control stress levels for long periods of time, our vagus nerve can get weak.  In order to get it working again and doing its’ job to calm us down, we need to stimuate it. One way to stimulate the vagus nerve is by gargling – very vigorously several times a day.  Singing loudly can also stimulate the vagus nerve, and so can the gag reflex- although some people may not wish to gag repeatedly every day.  If those things don’t sound appealing to you – you might want to consider the Nervana device.  I recently found and started using this amazing device called Nervana – it looks like a music player – but really what it is doing is stimulating the vagus nerve. Kind of like a workout for the vagus nerve!! I have been using it twice a day, and I have found that my digestion and mood have definitely benefitted.

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Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Is Stress Making You Gain Weight?

September 17, 2016
Businesswoman under stress working in the office

Are you eating right and exercising – yet gaining weight?

 

STRESS could be to blame.

We can be eating a perfectly healthy diet – and hitting the gym regularly, but if our stress levels are out of control, then our metabolism is not working optimally.

A little stress is a normal part of life, but so many of us are stuck on the proverbial “hamster wheels” today – we are just going and going and going. High stress levels are a recipe for metabolism melt down and can lead to weight gain, and in some cases weight loss.

When we are under stress all of the time, our sympathetic nervous system is turned on – that means that our body is stuck in the fight or flight state – so that means that our heart rate, blood sugar, insulin, and blood pressure is elevated, while, our digestion, elimination, immune system, and reproductive system all go dormant – “ain’t nobody got time for that when we are running from a sabre tooth tiger!”

Cortisol’s role.

A steroid hormone produced in the adrenal cortex, cortisol is often referred to as “the stress hormone,” because during times of stress, the body pumps out more cortisol.  During a normal day, our cortsiol should be slightly elevated in the morning, to give us that “get up and go”, and it should be low at bedtime to help us settle down to sleep.  But sometimes, when we are under a lot of stress, and fueling up all day with caffeine and carbs, our cortisol levels can get out of whack.   Feeling “tired but wired” at bedtime is a classic symptom of a messed up cortisol rhythm.  Or needing 3 cups of coffee to get the engine running each morning is another. Cortisol issues can also show up as weight storage in the midsection – because of the chronically elevated blood sugar and insulin it causes. Chronically elevated cortisol can eventually lead to insulin resistance, which means the body is not able to use carbs to energy, and it is storing carbs as more fat.

Over time, chronic stress can mess with our sleep, raise cholesterol levels, contribute to dehydration and blood pressure issues, and eventually it can cause our other hormones to get out of balance too – causing things like estrogen dominance, hypothalamic amenorrhea, and adrenal fatigue.   Stress can be a trigger that sets serious diseases like heart disease and autoimmunity in motion too.

Genes loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger.” *

What do hamsters do when they are not running like mad on those wheels?  They are resting and recovering.  We need to take a cue from them and get off those wheels occasionally. So although it might seem impossible to get off the hamster wheel – we have to remember – that we have a choice.  There are a number of things that we can choose to do to reduce stress levels.

Lifestyle changes for getting control of stress:

  • Get the blood sugar under control – I recommend always getting healthy fat, protein, and/or fiber every time you eat – I call it the “Rule of Three,”  which helps to keep the blood sugar stable.  Having blood sugar out of control can lead to mood swings, fatigue, and stress cravings.
  • Eat more whole foods – processed foods lead to nutrient deficiencies and often contain glutamates which are excitatory to the brain. I find that a lot of kids with anxiety eat too many foods with MSG and other chemicals in them (get rid of the Flamin’ Hot stuff).  Free glutamates in the brain leads to anxiety, depression, focus and attention issues, and potentially can even lead to autistic-type behaviors.
  • Heal the gut – when our digestion is out of balance, we are not able absorb nutrients or properly detox chemicals – this can make us feel out of balance, and lead to mood and brain issues.  Our gut is considered our “second brain” – and so when there is chronic stress and anxiety – often there are digestion woes too.
  • Get Your ZZZs – high levels of stress can really mess up our sleep – big time.  If you have that feeling at night where you are tired, but too wired to sleep – your stress levels are too high – and you could even have adrenal fatigue.  Time to do prioritize your sleep by turning off electronics 1 hour before bedtime (no exceptions), and do some calming things before bedtime – like taking an epsom salt bath (rich in magnesium), meditation, or having a cup of calming tea – like golden milk tea.  There are also a number of supplements that can support sleep.
  • Exercise Smarter – If our stress hormone cortisol is high, and we hit the treadmill or do aerobics for an hour – that could seriously backfire.  Long bouts of cardio raise our stress hormone cortisol – which only makes our metabolism more sluggish, and causes us to store more fat in our midsection. The good news?  We can do much shorter, more effective workouts to get the metabolism working again – interval training, weight training, yoga, and walking are all good for the metabolism.
  • Learning to say ‘no’ – Overcommiting ourselves can cause stress levels to go through the roof.  So be careful what you commit to. If you are a people pleaser – instead of saying no, you could start out by saying “not now.”  If your boss is trying to load up your work, and dumps another project on your desk with “stat’ written across the top…ask which other responsibilities can be put on hold to make this a priority?  In the end, learning to say no (or not now) is better for your employer, because you will have less sick days, less backaches, and more focus and energy.

Supplements to Reduce Stress:

Many people can benefit from supplements** that can help us to reduce our stress hormones and activate our calming neurotransmitters so we can get those stress hormones back in a normal rhythm:

  • Amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters – which are important brain chemicals that can affect mood, attention, anxiety, focus, and even pain..  When neurotransmittersscreen-shot-2016-09-17-at-2-32-39-pm are out of balance, we feel out of balance too.  Taking the right amino acids can be very useful for reducing stress, anxiety and balancing mood. Two of my favorites that are very well tolerated are L-theanine and GABA.
    • L-Theanine is naturally occuring in green tea (camellia sinensis). It has been shown to reduce anxiety while increasing mental alertness and acuity.  L-Theanine can help to clear out free glutamates from the brain – which can help to calm.
    • GABA is another calming amino acid that helps to calm the brain waves and promote relaxation.  I find that these amino acids can be useful in the evenings – as an alternative for a glass of wine to relieve stress.
    • Pure Tranquility Liquid contains GABA, L-Theanine, and glysine which also has a calming effect – it is a liquid, so it allows for dosing flexibility and is good for those that can’t swallow pills.
  • Adaptogens are herbs that do what their name suggests – they help the body adapt to stress, they also support the immune system, metabolism and energy.
    • Ashwaganda, which is also known as Indian Ginsing, is a very beneficial adaptogen – it supports healthy joints, and tissue, immune system, energy production, and benefits the thyroid as well.
    • Rhodiola is another wonderful option, and studies have found that it may help to moderate stress, reduce fatigue, support short-term memory and concentration, improve neurotransmitter levels, and support energy metabolism.
  • Magnesium is known as the calming mineral. Most people are deficient in magnesium, and high stress levels tends to further deplete magnesium levels, so you might want toNatural Calm consider upping your magnesium during stressful times too.  Avoid the oxide form, as it is poorly absorbed and have more of a laxative effects.  Good sources of magnesium include citrate, malate, and glycinate.  One product that a lot of people like to use is Natural Calm, which is a powder that is stirred into a glass of water.  It can often support a healthy sleep.  It can lead to loose stools if you take too much.  So start with a half a dose, and gradually work your way up. If it gives you loose stools, back off your dose.  Read: Magnesium & The Brain, The Original “Chill Pill”
  • B vitamins are important for creating neurotransmitters, and are also excreted during times of stress. So that is why it is often recommended that people supplement with high quality B vitamins, like B Supreme to better handle stress.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids. Chronic stress leads to systemic inflammation – which increases the risk for heart disease, mood imbalances, and many diseases including cancer.  New studies are revealing that depression and other mood disorders are actually inflammation in the brain.  Important brain food – omega 3 fats such as those found in fatty fish are important for lowering systemic and chronic inflammation.  This is important for our brain, mood, heart health, reducing chronic pain, and preventing many diseases including cancer.  You want to go for a high quality brand that is rich in both DHA and EPA, like Nordic Naturals’ Pro Omega D.

Chronic stress can be the “switch” that turns on disease and slows down our metabolism. In order to have a healthy metabolism & a healthy life – we need to prioritize getting our stress levels under control. Chapter 7 of my book The Perfect Metabolism Plan is dedicated to strategies for lowering stress and improving sleep.

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* this quote is attributed to a number of people including Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Diane Schwarzbein, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn.

** If you are currently taking prescription medications or under a doctor’s care, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Are you “Giving” Your Health Away? Five Tips to Get it Back!

May 7, 2015
bigstock.stressedoutmom

Being a mom is one of the most rewarding jobs of all – but it also requires a lot of giving and sacrificing, which can mean that mom frequently ends up at the bottom of her own priority list. Overtime, this can end up taking a toll on her health.  And although this situation is common with moms, it can really happen to anyone, especially if you are a:

people pleaser, doer, giver, over-achiever, go-to person, or superwoman (or man).

We know ‘em and love ‘em.  Doers are the ones that we can count on to just get stuff done. They just “show up,” and do the work. Important members on any committee, they are the top performers in a sales department, and often are very compassionate people who enjoy contributing and making a difference in the lives of others. This is all great!  But just remember:

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”  – Jack Kornfield. Author of The Wise Heart

You see, the more you do and give, the less energy you have left over to take care of yourself.  Overtime, this can cause your health to slide.  This is one of the most common reasons that people come to work with me actually!  Because allowing work, life, school, extracurricular, and family commitments to push our health off the list of priorities can eventually show up years later as – weight gain, lowered immunity, an aching back, mood imbalances, digestion issues, adrenal fatigue, headaches, and even an increased disease risk.

Some Signs You Could be “Giving” Your Health Away:

  • Do you find yourself saying “yes” to things that you wish you hadn’t?
  • Do you end up with projects that seem to take over your life and require you to stay late and work weekends?
  • Do you (or others) have unrealistic expectations of yourself?
  • Do you feel guilty when you take time to do what you like to do, or when you (try to) relax?
  • Do you find that you have no time to exercise or eat healthy meals?
  • Have you been suffering from too much stress and a lack of sleep?
  • Are you feeling resentful of your work or other people in your life?
  • Are you finding that you just don’t have the energy or joy that you are used to?
  • Have you fallen sick more than usual lately? Or maybe even you are dealing with a serious health issue.
  • Are you suffering from digestion issues?
  • Do you go to work when you are sick?
  • Are you struggling to keep up with all your responsibilities?
  • Have you noticed that you have gained weight, which seems stuck right in your midsection?

Five Tips to Get Your Health Back on Track:

  1. MAKE time & plan for health. Let’s be honest – it’s not that we don’t have time for our workouts or healthy cooking – the truth is, we are not making time for it. I can fall prey to this one too if I do not schedule it and plan ahead.   Before I know it, the day has gotten away and I haven’t gotten in a workout, walk, or yoga class. When I put it into my calendar – and make it a priority – then it happens.  The cool thing about exercise – is a little bit here and there really adds up. Studies show that just 10-15 of minutes a day can benefit the metabolism. In fact – you are better off not doing cardio for 2 hours – because that can raise your stress hormone cortisol- which can backfire and lead to weight gain! For those days that are just too busy to even find 10 mins to workout – just park farther away, take the stairs instead of the elevator, or stand up and pace around the room next time you are on a conference call.  I find that planning ahead is also important for eating healthy meals.  If I don’t plan, that is when all of a sudden it is 6:00 and the kids are tapping my shoulder asking what is for dinner. When I plan ahead and decide what to cook for the week, make sure to get to the store and do some prep ahead of time – I notice that I am actually looking forward to cooking, and not dreading it.  There still will be those days when I don’t have the time (or energy, ingredients, inspiration) to cook – so we have a number of healthy go-to restaurants that don’t break the bank that are our go-tos for easy weeknight meals.
  2. INVEST in our health.  A common complaint about eating healthy that I hear is that it is too expensive. Again, it comes down to our priorities – we have no problem dropping $100-200 bucks to get our hair done, spend thousands of dollars to go on vacations, drive the nicest cars, and wear beautiful clothes. But do we balk at spending a little more for the organic strawberries, organic green juices or for the organic/grass fed meats? This can differ from country to country – Europeans generally spend more on their food than Americans – it is just something that they prioritize.  In my mind, I would rather skip the vacation than eat cheaper food for a year, because it is cheaper to pay the grocer now, instead of paying the doctor later (anyone that has seen a hospital bill lately can attest to this).  Check out this video called The Organic Effect – it is about a family that was not eating organic and the amounts of pesticides that were in their system, and how just 2 weeks of eating organic impacted the amounts of pesticides in their systems!  When we invest in something – we make a commitment to it.  Other ways to invest in your health include – joining a gym, hiring a trainer or a Nutritionist. Some more economical options are to buy an exercise video, a healthy cookbook or nutrition book, or to participate in an online program or a group cleanse.
  3. Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 4.29.25 PMLearn to say “no.”  This is a big one for people pleasers, and something that I have been working on for years. Although I have come a long way, I still struggle with it – overcommitting and saying “yes” when I should really say “no.” But I keep reminding myself that when I say “yes” to everything – I spread myself too thin, and then I don’t do any one thing really well.  Just remember – if someone asks you to do something, it is okay to say “no.”  It sounds so obvious – but for people pleasers – it is not easy!  Instead of saying “no” right away, you can say “let me check my schedule and I will get back to you.”  People appreciate it when you don’t commit to something that you don’t have the time or energy to put in your best effort on.  Find out if the deadline is flexible, because perhaps you could take it on – at a later time. If your boss is piling on more work – ask “which of my other projects can take a back seat to this one?”   Just note – if you have been someone that says yes to everything, it will take some time to adjust. But learning to say no and paring down, can be life-changing, and perhaps even life-saving because it reduces our stress and allows us more time for ourselves (and our health). My friend Chassie Bell of Chassie Bell Design and I were chatting about this recently, and she recommended the book Essentialism-The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which is all about getting more done in less time, by focusing on what is really important. I ordered it, and am excited to get more focused and effective.
  4. TAKE time for ‘soul food.’ I am not talking about the black beans and rice kind of soul food. I mean taking time to incorporate joy into your life. Soul food is something that you do just because you enjoy it, not because you should. Maybe it is reading, or writing, taking yoga class or going for walks.  Maybe it is spending time with family or friends.  Take a moment to write down 3 things that you like to do – that brings joy to your life. The thing is, if you are a people pleaser, or a Yes person – you might not even know what your soul food is anymore!!  So take some time, figure out a variety of things that bring joy into your life – and try to make sure you are making time for it regularly.
  5. Stop Chasing Bad Info. Get the goods that actually works. One of the biggest issues today with our health is that there is really a lot of bad information outbook-blog-image there. It is no wonder so many of us are frustrated with our weight and our health!!  We can’t get good results from bad information!  Trying to lose weight and get healthy by counting calories and cutting fat – is not going to get you results – in fact, it could be making your metabolism worse!!  Have you been eating less and exercising more, and frustrated with the excess weight in your midsection?  Have you been trying to eat healthy, and have no idea why your blood sugar is elevated?  I understand – I have been there too.  The real secret to reaching a healthy weight and lowering our disease risk is to heal the metabolism.  That is why I wrote The Perfect Metabolism Plan – to give you the good information that really works – to finally get your health and weight in balance.  It is not a diet book.  It outlines the 10 keys needed to reboot your metabolism – which is the real secret to reaching a healthy weight and achieving vibrant health.   From fixing your blood sugar issues to reducing stress and getting hydrated – The Perfect Metabolism Plan is so much more than a diet book – it is a book that can change your health.

Prioritizing your health doesn’t mean that you still can’t be a doer, a giver, or an overachiever – it just means that you need to remember to save some time and energy for yourself – so you don’t end up in the midst of a health crisis.  When we prioritize our responsibilities, and invest in our health, we take better care of ourselves, and we can be more effective in all areas of our lives.

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Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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Got Anxiety? Consider Your Second Brain

September 26, 2014
Anxiety

You know the feeling that you get when you are nervous?  Like there are butterflies in your stomach?  Have you ever had that “sinking feeling” in your gut after you made a big mistake?  Sometimes we have those “gut reactions” to situations – where we can’t really explain it, but we just feel like something seems amiss.  It is totally normal to experience some nervousness, anxiety, fear, and even panic occasionally. In fact – we should learn to listen to our gut, because sometimes, our gut feelings can guide us in ways that our brain can’t.

But what about when these feelings start to become chronic, overwhelming, and negatively affect someone’s life?

Whenever someone tells me that they have a lot of anxiety or a related mood disorder – my first question is “how is your digestion?”  The typical response is, “terrible – but what do my digestive issues have to do with my anxiety?”  It is all about the second brain.

Our Second Brain

Our gut and our brains are connected so closely that Dr. Michael Gershon coined our gut “the second brain”. Lined with a complex and extensive set of neurons, called the enteric nervous system, “gut reaction” helps to explain what our second brain does – it guides our feelings, moods, certain behaviors, and reactions.

Our enteric nervous system/gut is responsible for manufacturing important neurotransmitters that play a role in our mood and brain function. So when there has been a gut imbalance or a leaky gut, there often can be mood imbalances and neurological manifestations, because the gut is no longer able to effectively absorb nutrients or convert them into these important brain chemicals. For example, over 90% of our serotonin, often referred to as “the happiness hormone,” is found in our guts. Low serotonin can lead to depression, anxiety, and other mood imbalances. Other neurotransmitters that can be involved in anxiety include GABA, dopamine, and epinephrine.  So you can see how gut issues can affect our emotions.

Digestive Issues Very Common

The trouble is – gut imbalances are rampant – 1 in 5 Americans regularly suffers from digestive complaints.  They are so common that we often just suffer through them, thinking that is just “normal” for us, and that there is nothing that we can do. But it is important to not ignore digestive issues because the gut is the foundation of our health. If allowed to continue, gut health issues can develop into other problems – affecting the brain, mood, joints, skin, thyroid, immune system, and more.

Digestive troubles over time can lead to poor absorption, which can develop into nutrient deficiencies, imbalances in neurotransmitters and amino acids – all of which can drive depression, anxiety, mood disorders; and other problems like ADHD and even addictions.

Getting Relief

Although this may not work for everyone, there are a number of things to try if your second brain is causing you anxiety:

Heal the root cause, the gut:

  1. Identify & remove food intolerances, chemicals, and other key foods that could be contributing (such as MSG, sugar, etc).
  2. Take probiotics – there is mounting evidence that bacteria in the gut has a powerful effect on emotions. Taking probiotics can help to decrease the bad bacteria that can lead to anxiety and other mood disorders.  Read this article to learn more.
  3. Heal the gut – organic bone broths and key supplements can help to rebuild the mucosal barrier. A healthy gut has a strong mucosal barrier, which prevents toxins and proteins from leaking out of the gut.
  4. Consider some other supplements – omega 3 fatty acids such as those found in a high quality fish oil supplement can be very helpful for mood and brain function. Vitamin D can be helpful – it is often referred to as the “happiness vitamin.” A high quality multi-vitamin with methlyated forms of the B vitamins are important for the creation of neurotransmitters.  I also find that adaptogens such as Ashwaganda can be very helpful with anxiety and mood disorders (ashwaganda is also supportive of the thyroid too).

Get some relief from the symptoms:

Until the gut is healed, it might not be effectively making neurotransmitters, which can cause someone to feel imbalanced, unfocused and anxious. Often, this is one reason that can drive people to abuse drugs and alcohol – they are trying to correct or self-medicate these imbalances.  It is possible to test the neurotransmitters and take supplements that can help the body to produce more of the depleted neurotransmitters to feel more balanced.

  1. Test – one single urine collection at home is taken and sent in and can be tested to see which brain chemicals are out of balance.
  2. From that test, key amino acids and other key supplements can be identified that will help to rebalance the neurotransmitters and provide some relief to the symptoms.

The Gut & the Immune System

The gut is also the foundation of the immune system, so someone that frequently gets colds or infections, might want to look at improving their gut health to boost their immune system.  One food that heals the gut and boosts the immune system is organic bone broth – so there is truth to the Old Wives Tale that chicken soup heals a cold (also helps to prevent one too).

Further Reading:
This is a very in-depth topic.  If you are interested in learning more about how the gut affects the brain, mood, and other areas of health, here are some additional articles:

Our gut is the foundation of our health.  As Hippocrates so wisely said over 2,000 years ago:

All disease begins in the gut.”

Please note: If you are experiencing extreme stress, anxiety or overwhelm – please seek out help from a mental health practitioner right away. The national Suicide Hotline can help you to find the necessary resources if you are in a mental health crisis: 1-800-273-8255.

Sara Vance Article written by Nutritionist Sara Vance, author of the book
The Perfect Metabolism Plan A regular guest on Fox 5 San Diego, you can see many of Sara’s segments on her media page. She also offers corporate nutrition, school programs, consultations, and affordable online eCourses. Download her free 40+ page Metabolism Jumpstart eBook here.

*This article is for educational purposes only. The content contained in this article is not to be construed as providing medical advice. All information provided is general and not specific to individuals. Persons with questions about the above content as how it relates to them, should contact their medical professional. Persons already taking prescription medications should consult a doctor before making any changes to their supplements or medications.

©2015, all rights reserved. Sara Vance.

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