Does Gut Health Impact Mental Health?

When we think about our mental health, I’m sure most of us don’t think about our gut.

But did you know that your mental well-being may be influenced by the microscopic creatures living in your gut microbiome? The connection between gut health and mental health is one that has recently been gaining more attention, as scientists believe that the gut microbiome has enormous potential to yield new “psychobiotics.”

Psychobiotics are beneficial bacteria (probiotics) or support for such bacteria (prebiotics) that act on your bacteria-brain relationships. (1)

When I say “bacteria-brain relationships”, I’m referring to the “gut-brain axis,” an important concept that I’ve talked about before, but I’ll briefly outline it again below.

The gut-brain axis is comprised of two kinds of nervous systems: the central nervous system (CNS) and the enteric nervous system (ENS).

  • The CNS consists of the spinal cord and brain, and contains a crucial feature called the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve you have, running from near the hypothalamus all the way to your intestines where it reaches the other big player in the gut-brain axis, the enteric nervous system.

Can Taking Prebiotics Heal Lactose Intolerance?

75% of the world’s population suffers from lactose intolerance, and if you’re one of that 75% you know how *ahem* uncomfortable the symptoms can be.

However, new research released in January of this year might have a solution for those dealing with this annoying condition: prebiotics.

If you don’t know already, I’m a huge fan of prebiotics (probiotics are great, too, but I think they get all the glory!).

Never heard of a prebiotic? Prebiotics feed probiotics. They are specific types of carbohydrates that selectively feed beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics are the bacteria living in your gut, and prebiotics feed them to keep them alive and healthy.

The Study

In this study, researchers gave lactose intolerant individuals increasing dosages of GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides, a specific type of prebiotic) over the course of about a month as they avoided dairy in their diet. They began participants at 1.5g of GOS and worked their way up to 15g. Each dose was given once per day.

After a month of being on GOS, participants stopped taking it and started including dairy products in their diet for the next 30 days.

How Do You Know If You Have Bad Gut Bacteria?

You’ve probably heard the words “microbiome”, “gut bacteria”, or “flora” quite a bit these days.

Maybe you’ve even read a few articles on why you should pay attention to your gut bacteria and how important they are for your overall health.

You know that “bad bacteria” aren’t great for your health…But now you’re wondering – how do I know if I have bad bacteria? Hint: you might have bad bacteria even if you don’t have digestive issues.

Let me walk you through it!

What is Unbalanced Gut Bacteria?

When you hear the terms “bad gut bacteria” or “unbalanced gut flora”, this can refer to a number of different conditions. The most common include small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), an imbalance of gut flora in the large intestine (commonly referred to as “dysbiosis”), pathogens, or parasites.

Let’s do a quick rundown of each of these conditions:

SIBO

The small intestine should be relatively sterile when compared to the large intestine, which houses the majority of our bacteria in what is called the “microbiome”. When bacteria translocate to the small intestine for any reason and overgrow,

Can Your Gut Bacteria Help You Lose Weight?

Are you struggling to lose weight?

Perhaps you’ve tried restrictive diet after restrictive diet, exercise programs, and more – only to find that your weight doesn’t budge.

What if the answer to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight has been inside of you all along?

The Microbiome

Your digestive system is home to a vast ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that are diverse and complex. (1)

The different bacterial species all work together, much like a community, to ensure your digestive system and body functions appropriately. (2) The correct balance of microbiota can help your metabolism, increase your immunity, and can even enhance your brain functioning. (3)

Gut bacteria is acquired from birth, passed from mother to child (4), and there are many factors that could affect and alter your gut microbiota throughout your life, including:

  • The environment you live in. A large study investigated the differences in gut bacteria in rural and urban dwellers and found that urban people living in America had vastly different bacteria in their stool than those living in rural Malawi and Venezuela. They found that urban American fecal matter was the least diverse out of the groups,

Want to See What’s Inside Build Your Biome? Here’s a sneak peek!

I’m so excited to open up the Build Your Biome course again, and I hope you’ll join us!

In this video, I go over the 8-week course outline. You’ll see exactly what you’ll learn in the course, plus get a sneak peek inside the website itself to see what the videos look like!

Want to join the program? Click here to register!

A European Adventure – Visiting Paris, Lisbon, Sintra, Reims, and Epernay

I just got back from an absolutely incredible trip to Portugal and France!

As a wedding gift, my long-time best friend Kristin gave me a flight to Paris with her for a much-needed girls trip (our first one together!). (Also, sorry Aidan, apparently this wedding gift is just for ME :)).

We knew we wanted to visit somewhere other than France since we had both been to Paris before, and spent a while deciding where to go. First we though Barcelona might be fun, but since we had both been there before too, we wanted to find somewhere new to the two of us.

We were looking at cheap flights from Paris to other destinations in Europe and stumbled upon Portugal! Now, I’m a big traveler and of course I have a huge list of destinations that I want to go to…surprisingly, Portugal hadn’t been on it. But, boy, it DEFINITELY should’ve been.

I absolutely loved our time in Portugal, which I’ll tell you about in a bit!

First stop, Paris!

So we flew into Paris and stayed one night at the Terrass Hotel in Montmartre (complete with an awesome rooftop bar –

2016: My Year in Review

Wow, I still can’t believe 2016 is almost over!

In a lot of ways, 2016 wasn’t a great year. Dealt with some health issues, had to move, politics were absolutely insane, felt like a I didn’t make a ton of progress in my business…

But in many ways it was amazing.

I’d like to share an exercise with you to review my (and your!) 2016. I hope you’ll think about these questions, too!

1. What are you most grateful for in 2016?

2016 brought me a new family 🙂 I married the love of my life in June, and I couldn’t be happier about it! Not only did I get an awesome husband, but I married into an amazing family as well. Here’s all of us (being silly, of course!) below:

I am most grateful for my husband, who is the most supportive, amazing person I have ever met. He pushes me to be better, comforts me when I’m feeling down, and is the best adventure-partner I could ever ask for.

We lost our cat this year, sadly, but we also brought home a new kitten!

I’m Married!

I’m Married!

Yay! After 10 years of being together, my fiance (now husband!) and I were married on June 4th in New York City, the place we’ve called home for the last 5 years.

We had a private ceremony with immediate family only, ate arepas from our favorite restaurant, and drank far too much alcohol with our loved ones. We’ll celebrate with our extended family and friends in October!

Just wanted you all to know why my name changed around here 😉

I’m working on an awesome new website with my new name and a new url to match…coming soon!

When Chronic Illness Comes Knocking…

when-chronic-illness-comes-knocking

When you’re diagnosed with a chronic illness, life can feel really uncertain for a while. Sometimes you can’t do things you used to be able to do, and it can feel like your entire world has turned upside down. You have to slow down; realize that life is a little different.

It’s frustrating. It sucks.

I was recently diagnosed with a condition called Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (IST for short). Essentially, it means that my heart beats faster than most people. This doesn’t sound too bad until you start to realize that even standing can be uncomfortable and difficult sometimes. Intense cardiovascular exercise? Forget it. And when you’re a business owner whose business is all about promoting health, being sick almost feels like an identity crisis.

Then we found out our apartment had mold. This makes sense, since problems with the autonomic nervous system (the system that controls things that happen automatically like breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, etc) seem to be connected to mold exposure. We’ve been in our apartment for 5 years, so I’ve likely had five years of mold exposure unbeknownst to me.

So now not only am I dealing with a chronic illness,

Want to Study Nutrition and Integrative and Functional Medicine? Here are 4 Graduate Degree Options

Want to Study Nutrition and Integrative and Functional Medicine Here are 4 Graduate Degree Options

Lately I’ve been looking for Ph.D or DCN (doctor of clinical nutrition) programs, because…well, I guess I am a glutton for punishment. I haven’t applied to any yet, and I’m still very much in the consideration phase of planning, but in my search I found a few graduate programs that looked very promising so I wanted to share!

I get emails pretty much daily asking how to pursue integrative and functional medicine especially from a nutrition perspective, and many ask about my experience at the University of Western States. I’ve talked about it a bit on The Ancestral RDs podcast in Episode 7, so if you haven’t listened to that, I highly recommend doing so.

I’ll add some information here about my experience as well, and introduce you to a few other programs that sound very exciting.

Master’s Degrees:
University of Western States M.S. in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine

I believe UWS was one of the first schools to offer any sort of graduate degree in functional medicine, which is why I was very excited to learn more when I first heard about it. My experience there was overall a good one, and I definitely learned a lot that I use in my practice to this day.