Wellness

Bloating through the Holidays!

It’s one of the best times of the year!

We hopefully gather with those closest to us and share the abundance of festive treats and cocktails!

And then either before bed or the next morning, we feel like *%#!

Let’s give your body some tools to help you better deal with the excess eating.

Once we ingest food, it is digested by the stomach and intestine, gets absorbed into the blood and goes to the liver!

Before the gluttony begins, lets prime the digestive track for the abuse it is about to undertake.  Canadian Bitters provide imperative support to the workhorse of the digestive system – the liver.  Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine or toxins, gets filtered by the liver.

We like to take Canadian Bitters 20-30 minutes before the hors d’oeuvres start. These bitters will help better fend off heartburn, indigestion, constipation, bloating, and gas – helping us to better digest our meals and hopefully sleep a little better.

Once the eating begins and somewhere towards the middle of the meal, we like to add in digestive enzymes to the mix.  They will add in more HCL (Hydrochloric acid) to stomach, as well as enzymes designed specifically for each macronutrient, to help the stomach break down your food, as well as eliminate and kill bacteria and viruses.  This process will help the liver better assimilate/store quality nutrients and detoxify/eliminate toxins.

Both our suggested digestive enzyme products have HCL, with the Thorne Biogest leaning more to help those who consume a moderate to higher fat load (Low-fat/keto) and the ATPLab Enzymatik Control geared towards a more standard or vegetarian diet.

Let’s spend this holiday season enjoying good meals with our loved ones and less time complaining about the gastric distresses afterwards.

If you get off track, no worries – we will be back after the holidays with a recipe to get you back on track.

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Wellness

The Phases of the Menstrual Cycle

Women have been menstruating since the beginning of time. In fact, it is a normal and healthy part of life for women to experience their menstrual cycle every month until menopause occurs.

This is what Sex Ed class should have really taught us – the three phases of our menstrual cycle.

Follicular Phase

This phase occurs from approximately day 1-14. Day 1 as we have mentioned before is the day you bleed (womp womp womp…don’t forget to pack some tampons!)

The end of the bleeding phase is marked by ovulation. While we’re bleeding, the ovaries are prepping themselves to ovulate again (getting ready for showtime!)

There’s a gland at the base of our brain called the pituitary gland that releases a hormone called FSH – follicle-stimulating hormone. This hormone causes several follicles to rise on the surface of the ovary. Think of these follicles as little army girls all bunched together rising to a challenge. These follicles each have their own egg.

Eventually, one of these follicles becomes dominant (aka the chosen one) and within it, develops a single mature egg.

This reminds me of the hunger games when Katniss Everdeen volunteers as tribute. – “No! I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”

This mature egg produces the hormone estrogen. Estrogen increases over the follicular phase and peaks the day or two prior to ovulation.

In response to the increased estrogen, the lining of the uterus (endometrium) becomes thicker and more enriched with blood in the second part of this phase (when you’re done bleeding).

Around days 9-12 you may notice a slight increase in sex drive. This is when a brief surge of testosterone occurs. Pretty interesting how our bodies elevate your libido and increase your testosterone before you ovulate (aka prime baby-making time).

Around Days 12 through 14, is the release of LH – Luteinizing hormone is released and marks the beginning of the ovulatory phase.

Ovulatory Phase

This is the phase between the follicular and luteal phases. This is the release of the mature egg that happens on about day 14. This is in result to the surge in LH (Luteinizing hormone) and FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) over the previous day(s). After the release, the egg enters the fallopian tube where fertilization may take place if sperm is present. If the egg is not fertilized, it will disintegrate after one day. Despite the fact your egg only lives about 24 hours, sperm live up to 3-5 days and you’re still considered fertile for 5-6 days of each month!

Luteal Phase

The luteal phase is days 14-28 where FSH and LH decrease. The corpus luteum (tissue that forms in the ovary) produces progesterone. If the egg is fertilized, the corpus luteum continues to produce progesterone which prevents the uterine lining from shedding. If fertilization has not occurred (aka no baby on the way), the corpus luteum disintegrates, which causes progesterone levels to drop and signals the uterine lining to shed aka the entire cycle starts all over again!

Our bodies are so unique in how we have this awesome flow of hormones rising and falling throughout our cycle. Now that we have a better understanding of what happens at a biological level, let’s unravel the truth about what a period should really be like.

Let’s take you there in my next blog – “Is my Period normal?”.

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Wellness, Holistic Nutrition

Ready for the Great White North?

It’s that time of the year again when sunlight is limited, we start to cover up, we get outside less, and tend to move/exercise a little less. This cocktail sets our immune system into a compromising position, making us susceptible to the common cold/flu.

Let’s build our winter shield!!!

Probiotics

“…Modulation of the immune system is one of the most plausible mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of probiotics on human health.”[1]

It is said that 70% of immune system is based in your gut flora and positive effects these good bacteria (probiotics) have on your gut, are imperative building blocks of your immune system.  Coach Kayla goes in depth in her blog – “Relationships – Gut & Immune System”.

Especially during times when our immune systems are challenged, a balanced gut flora is imperative in efficiently digesting our meals and therefore getting the fullest nutritive value of our food, further strengthen our bodies.

Food sources: kefir, grass-fed yogurt, sauerkraut, fermented vegetables

Zinc

“Zinc is known to play a central role in the immune system…”[2]

The all-powerful mineral – Zinc!  As stated above, Zinc plays a central role in regulating the immune system.  It is a major player in the creation of DNA, growth of cells, building proteins, healing damaged tissue, and optimal levels help to regulate testosterone.

Food Sources – Shellfish: oysters, crab, lobster; beef, poultry, pork, legumes, nuts & seeds.  Some plant foods like legumes and whole grains are also good sources of zinc, but they also contain phytates that can bind to the mineral, lowering its absorption.

Recommended supplement: ATPLabs Synerzinc

Magnesium

“Low magnesium intake is linked to chronic inflammation, which is one of the drivers of aging, obesity and chronic disease”[3] – optimal magnesium intake can lower the chronic load on the immune system and therefore helping it to function more effectively.

Magnesium is involved in hundreds of biochemical reactions in your body: energy conversion, muscle contraction and relaxation, gene maintenance, nervous system regulation aka “chill pill”, and is essential to optimize vitamin D levels[4].

Unfortunately, studies suggest that about 50% of people in the US and Europe get less than the recommended daily amount[5]

Food sources: Pumpkin seeds, spinach, dark chocolate, avocado, halibut, mackerel, salmon

Preferred supplement: ATPLab SynerMag

Vitamin C

Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system.”[6]

Good old Vitamin C!  Have an orange and you’re all covered?!  Maybe not!

Vitamin C is a free radical scavenger – when the body is stressed, Vitamin C helps clean up the mess aka “Anti-oxidant”.  

Why not only one orange? There is about 100mg of vitamin C in an orange, but it is often suggested we need 1,000 mg during these challenging winter months.

Food sources: sweet red peppers, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach

Preferred supplements: NewRoots Vitamin C8, ATPLab SynerC

Vitamin D

“…laboratory studies show that vitamin D helps control infections and reduce inflammation.”[7]

Saving the best for last!! 

This vitamin/pro-hormone packs quite the punch with regards to your immune system and overall well-being!

The best way to optimize your vitamin D levels is to get early morning, non-sunscreen-protected, sun exposure – helping to set your circadian rhythm as well.  Up here in the Great White North, 15-20 minutes in the summer months would suffice but in the winter months you would need closer to an hour – hence the winter vitamin D supplementation.

Food Sources: Salmon, sardines, mackerel, liver, red meat, egg yolks, but nothing beats the SUN!

Preferred supplements: Thorne Vitamin D3/K2, ATPLabs Vitmain D3

Remember that each of the above-mentioned supplements have their individual strengths but together they form quite the synergistic and formidable armour!

For more guidance on your individual needs, feel free to reach out to our Holistic Nutrition Consultant, Kayla DIGaetano.


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4006993/

[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9701160/

[3] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20536778/

[4] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471760/

[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22364157/

[6] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29099763/

[7] https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-d/

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Wellness

Understanding the Menstrual Cycle aka Your Period

Ever wondered why the term menstrual cycle coined the nickname “periods?” It received its nickname because they arrive periodically in a (hopefully) regular monthly pattern.

Menstruation as defined on womenshealth.gov, is a “woman’s monthly bleeding, often called your period. When you menstruate, your body discards the monthly buildup of the lining of your uterus (womb). Menstrual blood and tissue flow from your uterus through the small opening in your cervix and pass out of your body through your vagina.

During the monthly menstrual cycle, the uterus lining builds up to prepare for pregnancy. If you do not get pregnant, estrogen and progesterone hormone levels begin falling. Very low levels of estrogen and progesterone tell your body to begin menstruation.”

The chart below is a breakdown of what occurs during your monthly cycle

Cycle Days (Approximately)What happens on your period during this time
Day 1 -5The first day of menstrual bleeding is considered Day 1 of the cycle. Both estrogen and progesterone have dropped. Your period can last anywhere from 3 to 8 days. Bleeding is usually heaviest in the first 2 days.
Day 6 -14Once the bleeding stops, the uterine lining begins to prepare for the possibility of a pregnancy.
Day 14-25Around day 14, an egg is released from one of the ovaries and begins its journey down the fallopian tubes to the uterus. If sperm is present fertilization can occur. In this case, the fertilized egg will travel to the uterus and attempt to implant in the uterine wall.  
Days 25-28If the egg was not fertilized or implantation does not occur, a signal occurs to the uterus to prepare to shed its lining, and the egg breaks down and is shed along with the lining. The cycle begins again on Day 1 menstrual bleeding.             

Pretty wild that our bodies are constantly working, and we don’t even know it!

I know a lot of women find having their periods annoying and will skip it if they can (using hormonal birth control) and especially if they have unpleasant pre period symptoms. It becomes the dreaded week of the month where all you want to do is stay in bed, eat ice cream and binge watch Netflix. And I don’t know about you but my period “conveniently” comes whenever I have an important event or vacation etc…

So I get it- it can be annoying BUT the more I realize and learn, it’s a blessing to have it and I think we don’t praise the importance of getting our periods enough! As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, your periods and menstrual cycle tell you a lot about your health. Getting your period is one of our detox pathways, it’s also a vital sign for overall health (if you have enough nutrients), it’s correlated with hormone health and it’s an important sign for those who want to conceive.

Stay tuned as in my next blog we’ll dive deeper into the phases of our periods. We’ll go into detail about what happens at each phase of our cycle, and why each phase is important! These phases Day 1-14 (Follicular), Day 14-ish (Ovulatory) and Day 14-28 (Luteal Phase).

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Wellness

Period 101

If you’re like me and didn’t gain much insight during sex-ed class about your period – you’re not alone.

I’m here to finally give you the spiel on what you’ve been waiting for.

Before we dive into our Period Blog Series, I think it’s important to go over some terminology that will appear in upcoming posts. This way, this blog can always be a place of reference if you’re in need of a refresher!

“Your period is not just your period. It is an expression of your underlying health. When you are healthy, your menstrual cycle will arrive smoothly, regularly, and without symptoms. When you are unhealthy in some way, your cycle will tell the story” – Lara Biden ND

Basically, based on how often we get it, how we get it, how heavy it is, the amount of pain/discomfort we experience, our bodies are giving us signs of what’s truly going on. We’ll discuss this in future blogs to come.

I’m here to tell you that the symptoms you experience are very common but not normal.

As much as the time of the month is a real pain in the uterus (pun intended) – your period is providing you insight into your health. Let’s start paying attention.

Here’s a short list of the terminology that will be used.

Menstrual Glossary

Fallopian Tube: One of the two tubes on either side of the uterus that carry the egg from an ovary to the uterus

Follicle-Stimulation Hormone (FSH): A hormone that stimulates the maturation of the ovarian follicles in preparation for ovulation

Follicular phase: The first half of the menstrual cycle (starts the day of menstruation and ends with ovulation begins). In this phase, estrogen is high, and the ovarian follicles mature in preparation for ovulation.

Luteal Phase: The second half of the menstrual cycle that occurs after ovulation and progesterone is higher.

Luteinizing Hormone (LH): A hormone that triggers ovulation and the development of corpus luteum (tissue that forms in the ovary after ovulation)

Estrogen: A female sex hormone produced by the ovaries and is dominant in the first half of the menstrual cycle

Ovaries: The female reproductive organ that produces eggs and hormones

Ovulation: When the ovary releases an egg.

Ovulatory Phase: The time between the follicular and luteal phases when LH surges (triggering the release of an egg)

Progesterone: A hormone that helps regulate your cycle. It helps thicken the lining of the uterus to prepare for a potential fertilized egg.

Testosterone: A sex hormone secreted by the ovaries and adrenal glands that rises before ovulation. It is highest in men but is also necessary for women

Now that we got some of the important lingo out of the way, our next blog will be breaking down the monthly cycle. Remember your period isn’t just the days you bleed, it’s also what happens the rest of the month!

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