14- Day Calorie Challenge

Today is the day!

Laura Schoenfeld and I have been working on this challenge for months, and I’m so excited to share it with you today.

If you’ve listened to our podcast (The Ancestral RDs), you know that getting enough calories is absolutely crucial to good health.

In fact, both Laura and I have changed many of our client’s lives simply by increasing their calories.

Symptoms like fatigue, blood sugar crashes, anxiety, and more disappear practically overnight when you start eating enough. We’ve seen it happen firsthand.

In an effort to bring calorically-appropriate diets to the masses, we knew we had to create something that made it incredibly easy to eat enough.

Many of you don’t want to be counting calories, weighing your food, etc. We get it; it’s not that much fun!

So we created the 14-Day Calorie Challenge to help you. 

The challenge? To eat a balanced calorie and macronutrient-containing diet for two weeks to see how much your energy can improve.

We’ve created five two-week meal plans designed for people who want to follow a gluten-free,

Can SIBO cause fibromyalgia?

Although fibromyalgia is among the most common causes of chronic, widespread pain (believed to affect an estimated 5 million people in the US alone) it remains one of the least understood. (1, 2)

Researchers generally agree that the key problem in fibromyalgia is a change in how pain signals from the skin, joints and muscles are processed in the brain, leading to the characteristic and diagnostic long-term, body-wide pain. (1, 3) But, to date, no one has been able to definitively prove what causes these changes, and how. (3, 4)

However, growing evidence suggests that fibromyalgia may be caused by poor gut health — specifically, by a condition called “small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)”, in which colon bacteria begin colonizing the normally relatively sterile environment of the small intestine. (5)

Let’s explore this growing body of evidence, what it means, and it’s possible implications for ways to address fibromyalgia symptoms.

Fibromyalgia, SIBO and the Breath Test

The most direct, and perhaps the most important, evidence supporting the idea that fibromyalgia may be caused by SIBO came from a 2001 study by researchers at Cedar-Sinai Medical Center which first linked the two conditions.

Is Intermittent Fasting Really the Healthiest Choice for You?

Altered eating windows are all the rage these days. It’s difficult to go a day without hearing about the benefits of fasting; maybe you’ve already considered trying it (or have tried it) yourself.

There are many ways to fast, but one of the most popular intermittent fasting regimens is to skip breakfast to extend an overnight fast a bit longer. You’d then eat lunch and dinner as usual.

Many people who practice intermittent fasting do this daily or at least a few times per week.

Now, fasting is a way to make a slight caloric deficit a lot easier, which can be beneficial for those who are overweight, but it may not be the right choice for everyone — especially if you’re a woman.

So…how do you know if fasting is the right choice for you?

The Negative Side Effects of Fasting

I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the last few years, and I can confidently say that almost all of my clients feel better when they eat a solid breakfast.

Now, granted, I work with clients who fall into the following categories:

  • Women
  • Normal weight or very slightly overweight
  • Adrenal Fatigue
  • Digestive issues (usually goes hand-in-hand with adrenal issues)
  • Already eating a healthy diet

Given that I’m working with fatigued women with a normal BMI (or slightly above) who are already eating healthily,

Do Gut Bacteria Influence Autoimmunity?

Autoimmune disorders are conditions that occur when the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissues. There are many different autoimmune conditions, depending on which healthy tissues are attacked. Some examples include multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Autoimmune conditions are often thought of as “rare” (1) because most of the individual disorders affect a relatively small number of people (2). As a disease class, though, autoimmune disorders are actually among the most common conditions in the United States.

In 2012, the U.S. National Institutes of Health reported that a staggering 23.5 million Americans have at least one autoimmune disease. According to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA), however, even this remarkable number may be significantly too low, since it was calculated using data concerning diseases that are entirely autoimmune mediated. The AARDA estimates that, if all diseases believed to have any autoimmune component were included in the calculation, the real number of Americans affected by autoimmunity may actually be closer to 50 million.

That means that up to 20% of the population — or 1 in every 5 people — may suffer from autoimmune symptoms.

And autoimmune symptoms can be extremely severe.

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Does Polycystic Ovary Syndrome Start with Your Gut Bacteria?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder affecting 4-10% of menstruating women (1, 2, 3).

At the heart of the syndrome is the abnormally high production of androgens (male sex hormones) by the ovaries.

High androgen production creates a characteristic clustering of symptoms that define PCOS, which include (4):

  • Excess facial and body hair growth
  • New or worsening acne
  • Irregular menstruation or lack of menstruation
  • Anovulation
  • Infertility
  • Development of multiple small fluid-filled cysts on both ovaries

In addition to serious reproductive symptoms, the syndrome is associated with a high risk of developing life-threatening chronic metabolic conditions, including insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease (3, 4).

Despite nearly a century of research (5), scientists have struggled to understand the mechanisms that lead to PCOS (3, 4).

What causes the ovaries to start making too many androgens?

How are changes in reproductive function linked to chronic diseases like diabetes or cardiovascular disease?

We simply didn’t know.

But the latest research indicates that we might finally be on the brink of identifying at least one of the root causes of PCOS.

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The Role of Gut Bacteria in Fertility and Estrogen Dominance

I’ve talked before about the importance of optimizing your gut health before getting pregnant in order to promote a healthy pregnancy for both you and your baby.

But what about getting pregnant in the first place… Can your gut bacteria play a role in your hormone balance and fertility?

The science suggests that it very well might!

To understand why let’s take a closer look at infertility and one of its common causes: estrogen imbalance.

INFERTILITY & ESTROGEN DOMINANCE

When you hear the term “infertility,” you likely think of a person or a couple that cannot and will never be able to have children. In the medical world, however, infertility does not refer to a permanent state at all.

A diagnosis of infertility simply means that you have not been able to get pregnant after a year of normal, unprotected sex (1).

It’s actually a diagnosis that is far more common than you might realize. According to recent statistics, between 7% and 15.5% of American women experience infertility in any given year, and the majority of women (51.8%) meet the criteria for infertility at least once during their menstruating years (2).

Does Gut Bacteria Impact Your Pregnancy?

Thinking about starting a family?

If so, now is a very important time to consider your own digestive health — it has a much bigger impact on your baby’s health than you might think!

Gut Bacteria is Passed to Your Baby

For decades, conventional wisdom told us that the womb is a sterile environment, devoid of any microbes to protect your baby and its growing immune system. It was thought that your baby doesn’t get exposed to any bacteria until during birth when it passes through the vaginal canal. (1)

But recently, researchers have been able to detect some bacteria in the placenta and even in the intestines of a fetus. (2,3) They posit that this bacteria is derived from your (mom’s) gut microbiome, meaning your gut bacteria can travel via the placenta to reach your baby and affect its development.

So, your baby’s microbiome begins developing and acquiring bacteria from you far earlier than we previously thought.

That makes it even more important that you have the healthiest gut you can prior to getting pregnant — If you have a healthy gut, chances are that your baby will have a healthy gut and a healthy start to life too.

Lessons Learned Through 1 Year of Marriage and Powerlifting (Plus, Our Anniversary Celebration!)

This past weekend, I celebrated both 1 year of marriage and 1 year of powerlifting. Aidan and I celebrated our first anniversary with a trip to D.C. and a fancy hotel stay, and while away for the weekend, I started reflecting on the lessons learned through a year of marriage and a year of consistently working out.

I wanted to share the things I’ve learned and the things I’ve found to be important in both of these areas because the more I thought about it, the more many things overlapped (surprisingly!).

Be Supportive:

I spent the last quarter of 2016 and the first quarter of 2017 deep in the development, marketing, and finally, actual running of my online course, Build Your Biome. And, man, it was a lot of work. It was something I really wanted to get out into the world, and I needed support to be able to do that.

Through my long days (and nights, if I’m being honest) working on this program, my husband was there to support me. He cooked meals, did the household chores, and gave me pep talks when technology was about to make my brain explode.

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.