Digestion, Immune System, & The Microbiome

Digestion Immune System and the MicrobiomeIn North America, many of us are obsessed with cleanliness. Actually, we need to be exposed to bacteria, fungi, and viruses in order to have a healthy, strong immune system. By killing off our good bacteria with antibiotics, stress, cortisone, and chlorinated drinking water, we leave the field wide open to pathogenic, dangerous bacteria. Too many hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial soaps can change our PH and, in turn, mess with our immunological balance. Also, chemicals in plastics, cosmetics and clothing may negatively affect our microbiome which in turn affects the integrity of the small and large intestines.

 

The Human Microbiome consists of a collection of trillions of tiny microorganisms that make up who we are. They are part of us, not an addition to us. They help the body digest food and nutrients that the stomach is unable to digest. They also help in the production of some vitamins, like B and K. They program our immune system which needs their bacteria to teach it to function properly – to identify which should be there and which should not and then capture and destroy the bad guys. Even viruses living in our microbiome help to establish immunity against new and more dangerous viruses belonging to the same family. Our immune system takes care of most of our colds and flues in a way that actually causes the symptoms that we experience. The more diverse our immune system is, the smarter will be its reaction. When our microbiome is in balance, all is well. If disrupted, the lining of the gut becomes more porous allowing absorption of poisons, bacteria and viruses.

 

The majority of our microbiome is found in the digestive system; in particular, in the intestines. Our intestines include tight junctions that prevent the harmful bacteria from entering the body’s cells. When these junctions are weakened, as in the case of leaky gut, autoimmune diseases and allergies may arise. Stress, antibiotics, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, processed and fried foods, and hydrogenated and trans fats weaken these barriers. Probiotics, particularly acidophilus, good, clean water, foods high in fibre, and also sauerkraut, pineapple, bone broth, onion, garlic and kimchi strengthens these junctions by restoring the normal flora. New research is telling us that gut microbiome may also affect our central nervous system and brain health. The gut and its organisms have even been referred to as our “second brain” having the same grey matter as found in the brain.

 

The Immune System and the Microbiome go hand in hand. Dysbiosis, ie pathogenic bacteria that are out of control, create a persistent imbalance in this microbial community, and are implicated in IBS, Crohn’s, Colitis, skin issues like rosacea, eczema, and acne, and in most, if not all, autoimmune diseases. Dysbiosis is also involved in gut issues like bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, and/or heartburn. Once we clean up the terrain, the bugs will begin to live in harmony.

 

Change the terrain that supports and feeds the bugs. Don’t focus on the bugs! In order to enhance the immune system, change the environment that supports the growth of these pathogenic organisms. Sugar and a diet high in carbohydrates create a welcoming home for them. Sugar also lowers immunity by 80% for 2-5 hours after it is consumed. If the terrain is filled with toxic material and undigested food, that is where you will find the bugs.

 

Begin to make the changes that will bring the body back into balance. Drink abundant quantities of clean water, eat organic fruits and vegetables, fibre, fermented foods, and good quality protein. Eliminate all GMO foods. Stop consuming foods that you are allergic to, lower your stress levels, and get adequate sleep. Take good care of your microbiome and it will take care of you for many years to come.

 
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Sleep Issues

Sleep Issues Blog

The first sign of a problem with the brain is shortened sleep, in particular, napping during the day and not sleeping through the night. With even one hour loss of sleep per night, the brain slows down, we become more emotional and our thinking slows down. What is the major cause of sleeplessness? For most, it is chronic stress and anxiety, resulting in elevated cortisol levels, particularly in the evening, keeping us from enjoying a proper night’s sleep.

 

Sleep affects every organ system. The body does not do well without an optimal 7 to 8 hours per night. The more sleep deprived we are, the less effective our immune function, the more prone we become to injury and accidents and, even, to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.

 

27% of sleep deprived people are more likely to become overweight. Sleep is vital for learning and memory so is necessary for education and maximum productivity in the workplace. Sleep allows for the body to balance itself.

 

There are four major sleep cycles. In general, we go from falling asleep, to light sleep, to deep sleep, to REM sleep. These cycles are repeated many times throughout the night. Earlier cycles have longer periods of deep sleep and later cycles, more REM sleep. Deep sleep makes us feel refreshed and keeps us healthy. During REM sleep, the brain becomes more active, the body more relaxed, and most of our dreams occur. “REM sleep is important to your sleep cycle because it stimulates the areas of your brain that are essential in learning and making or retaining memories.” Longer periods of REM sleep occur in the morning hours.

 

Suggestions for improved sleep include going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day, even on the weekends; sleeping in a totally dark, quiet, and comfortable space; removing all electronic devices, particularly computers, tablets, and cell phones from the room where you sleep; avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco for at least 3 to 4 hours before bedtime; keeping all daytime napping short and before 4 or 5 pm. Try not to go to sleep hungry or stuffed. If you do wake up during the night, avoid checking the clock or looking to see if you have any new texts or emails. In a study of 20 volunteers, after 8 weeks of meditation and yoga, novices in meditation expressed 2209 new genes, most improving health and the body’s response to psychological stress.

 

Magnesium before bed is a great, safe source of calming and relaxation. Bananas are loaded with magnesium. You can enjoy a banana tea by washing a banana, removing the tips, cut it in half and boil it, with the peel on, in 3-5 cups of water for 4-5 minutes. Pour the liquid into a tea cup, add cinnamon and a little honey and enjoy! You may find that you sleep like a newborn baby.

 

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Magnesium

Magnesium blog

 

 

BENEFITS:

Relaxes every muscle in your body – including the heart

Relief from Insomnia

Reduces anxiety, depression, stress, sadness

Necessary to get calcium into the bones

Regulates blood pressure

Supports Insulin metabolism

Blood vessel constriction – may prevent migraine headaches

Improves PMS symptoms

 

 

Magnesium, as a macromineral, is essential for the bones, muscles, heart, brain, the immune system and the nervous system.

 

Foods rich in magnesium include dark chocolate (64 mg/oz), avocado (58 mg), nuts (82 mg/oz), legumes, tofu, whole grains, fatty fish, leafy greens, bananas, and seeds. 1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds offer 307 mg and sunflower seeds, 129 mg.

 

As a supplement, in a capsule, Magnesium is taken to bowel tolerance. If you experience diarrhea, nausea, or cramping, back off by one. With calcium, the recommended dose is a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium but for women, a 1:1 ratio or even a 1:2 ratio is often more beneficial, particularly for those experiencing PMS.

 

Magnesium can also be taken as a Tissue Cell Salt, small tablets that are dissolved in the mouth. Mag Phos 6X is excellent for muscle pain, restless leg, and, for some, as a sleep aid. The body uses what it needs and expels the rest without causing bowel disturbances.

 

Women have often been referred to as “mag wasters” meaning that they lose an unusual amount of magnesium throughout the day.  Magnesium loss is also experienced by Massage Therapists, both men and women, who often experience muscle cramps in their hands and fingers.

 

In our “Heart & Stroke – Women vs Men” webinar, we focus on how a woman’s heart differs in size, heart rate, and also the contrast in structure of the arteries and valves resulting in a substantial difference between the two sexes in terms of risks, symptoms, care, diagnosis, and treatment. We discuss how Magnesium helps to keep calcium in solution preventing it from precipitating out into artery walls which would result in the building of plaque. Also, how magnesium prevents Aluminum buildup in the body. Magnesium is essential for a healthy heart, maintaining a steady heartbeat and a normal blood pressure.

 

In our “Adrenal Fatigue” webinar, we discuss Adrenal burnout and exhaustion due primarily to stress, emotional, physical, and environmental. We discuss the importance of Magnesium, the inhibitory mineral for the Sympathetic Nervous System. Magnesium activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is instrumental in keeping you calm and relaxed.

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Kicking Sugar

NPP TIP Blog kick sugar1

Rarely do we experience obsessive cravings for chicken, broccoli, or green juice, so why sugar? It may be due to a habit, a blood sugar or hormone imbalance, poor sleep, stress, depression, anxiety, insufficient protein, nutrient deficiencies, food allergies, dehydration, or fatigue. Sugar can change your physiology. Giving into this craving or addiction can actually raise the dopamine levels in your brain, giving you a temporary feeling of well-being. A particular food may even trigger a pleasant memory, like the day your Dad took you for donuts to celebrate your fifth birthday. Continually giving into every sugar craving can foster an unhealthy relationship with food, leading to binge eating and a feeling of being out of control.

 

So, how do you kick your sugar cravings? Start your day with a high protein breakfast, followed by a protein at every meal. Increase your daily intake of healthy carbs, like vegetables, and decrease or, preferably, eliminate the starchy carbs, like white potatoes, pasta, and bread. Choose high fibre foods, like almonds, chia seeds, avocados, and berries, which will slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, therefore preventing blood sugar spikes. Stay hydrated throughout the day with 8-10 glasses of water. When the craving does rear its ugly head, drink a glass of water and then distract yourself. Try knitting, needlepoint, or a 1000 piece puzzle. Grab your sneakers and go for a walk. Sink into a warm, soothing bath, prepared by dissolving one or two cups of epsom salts and/or 4 or 5 drops of compatible essential oils. EFT tapping can work wonders to stop a craving in its tracks. My favourite instructional videos are by Jessica Ortner on YouTube. Or, if all else fails, take a nap.

 

Thinking about weaning slowly off sugar? This is rarely the solution. Kicking sugar is one issue that requires going cold turkey. Your first few days may see withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, anxiety, or irritability. Each of these symptoms may be accompanied by a strong craving for something sweet that is hard to resist. Take heart and persevere! The results will definitely be worth it. Remember, it takes 21 days to create a new habit although you should begin to feel better after 5 days. The cravings will diminish, the hunger will disappear, and your feelings of well-being will grow.

 

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Organic Chicken

NPP TIP Blog chicken soup

Organic Chicken Breasts are delicious – roasted, stir fried or as a soup. Chicken has become a staple dish for most non-vegetarians. It is one of the best sources of protein, necessary to build muscles and keep bones healthy. It is rich in minerals like phosphorus and calcium and also selenium which may cut the risk of arthritis. Containing tryptophan and B5, both having a calming effect on your body, Chicken can help relieve stress. With beneficial magnesium, it can also reduce PMS symptoms and muscle pain. It is rich in B Vitamins for heart health, particularly B6, helping to lower homocysteine levels and niacin helping to lower cholesterol. A great source of Omega 3, Chicken is low in saturated fat. The lowest fat content is found in the breast meat.

 

Why organic? If not, the chicken you are cooking may have been injected with antibiotics and/or hormones and grown with the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides. Organic chickens are also free range, meaning allowed to roam freely rather than crowded into cages, although free range does not necessarily indicate organic. Remember, we are what we eat!

 

A steaming bowl of chicken soup filled with vegetables and delicious chicken pieces has long been the secret health cure of mothers and grandmothers through the ages for colds, respiratory infections and flu and has often been referred to as “Jewish Penicillin”.

 

Years ago, I found a delicious recipe for an immune boosting Astragalus-Ginger Chicken Soup – my go to whenever I feel under the weather.

 

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a large pot, 1/3 filled with filtered water, toss in some sea salt, ground pepper, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
  2. Heat the water just below boiling. Add two split organic chicken breasts, bone in but fat and skin removed.
  3. Add a 3″ piece of ginger, cut into strips.
  4. Slice and add
    • 4 carrots,
    • 4 celery stalks,
    • 1/2 onion,
    • 2 garlic cloves,
    • 6 shitake mushrooms, and
    • 6 slices of astragalus root
    • Cook on low heat for 30 minutes.
    • Pull off the leaves of a large bunch of kale and set them aside.
    • Chop up the kale stems and throw these into the soup.
    • Continue to cook for an additional 30 minutes and then add the kale leaves.

Continue cooking (not boiling) for 30-60 more minutes. I recommend only organic ingredients, where possible. Add the sliced chicken, vegetables, salt and pepper to taste, and the delicious hot broth to your favourite bowl and enjoy! Yummy and filled with nutrients.

 

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Organic Onions

Organic onions new

The onion, like garlic, is a member of the lily family of plants. The homeopathic remedy for the common cold, allium cepa (cepa meaning onion), is prepared from red onions. Boericke’s Materia Medica refers to this remedy as “a picture of coryza with acrid nasal discharge and laryngeal symptoms and eye secretion”.

 

Onions are thought to have originated in Central Asia, from Iran to Pakistan and north into southern Russia. Since the sixth century, the  onion has been respected as a great way to spice up any dish and, also, in India, for its healing properties. Most onions are white, red, or yellow appearing globular in shape although there are many varieties of shapes and colours, including green; each offering its own distinctive taste. Onions have provided cooks with an inexpensive way of enhancing the flavour of almost any dish. Many delicious recipes begin with the browning, sautéing, or carmelizing of yellow onions.

 

Onions are low in calories, fat, and carbs. According to Michael Murray, ND, they are “very good sources of vitamin C, B6, biotin, chromium, and dietary fibre and, in addition, good sources of folic acid and vitamins B1 and K”.  They also contain sulphur, phytochemicals, anthocyanins, flavinoids, and particularly quercetin, which is beneficial for disorders including cataracts, cardiovascular disease, and for reducing body fat. Quercetin is found primarily in the outer layers of the onion so it is recommended that as much as possible of the skin be used. It also has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

 

They have been known to lower blood pressure and blood sugar and also to improve bone health, gut health, and heart health.  Centuries ago, onions were included in remedies used to treat headaches, colds, and heart ailments. They contain inulin and fructooligosaccharides and are rich in prebiotics so helpful to increase the number of friendly bacteria in the gut which will improve immune function.

 

Studies have shown that the organosulfurs in onions may suppress tumour growth and that there may be a connection between allium and a reduced risk of cancer. A 2019 study found that quercetin had links to lower blood pressure. Another recent study showed that peri-menopausal and menopausal women who ate onions at least once a day had a greater bone density and a reduced risk of hip fractures.

 

Why organic onions?  These are preferred in order to avoid consuming the chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals used during the growth process. Also, conventionally grown onions will most likely have been irradiated to prevent them from sprouting. Onions should be stored at room temperature, away from sunlight, in a well ventilated area. Green onions can be stored in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator, safely for about a week. Leftover cut onions will stay fresh for a day or two in an airtight, sealed container in the refrigerator or may be frozen for later use in soups or casseroles. To avoid tears, refrigerate the onions for an hour or two before chopping. Also, keep them as far away from your eyes as possible, to avoid the sulfur-based gas emitted from the onion.

 

Eggs & Onions (2 servings)

My husband David’s favourite egg breakfast.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or butter
  • 1 organic onion, diced
  • 4 organic eggs, beaten
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • turmeric and/or oregano, to taste (optional)
  1. Heat olive oil or butter on medium heat in a non-stick green pan
  2. Saute the diced onions until translucent, but not browned
  3. Pour the seasoned beaten eggs onto the hot pan
  4. Stir until the eggs are cooked through
  5. Serve hot with a side of organic blueberries and sliced strawberries
  6. Crumble goat cheese over eggs, if desired

 

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Organic Brussel Sprouts

NPP TIP Blog brusells sprouts

Organic Brussel Sprouts were actually named after their prominence in Belgium. They are cousins to cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens, and kale – all cruciferous vegetables said to help decrease belly fat.

 

High in Folic Acid and iron, they are perfect to support a healthy pregnancy. These miniature cabbages are also excellent sources of vitamins C, A, and K. One cup offers you 4 grams of protein, 4 grams of fibre, and 270 mg of ALA, so an excellent source of Omega 3 at a cost of merely 56 calories. Rich in kaempferol, an antioxidant, studied for its ability to reduce cancer cell growth and chronic inflammation, makes it also valuable in reducing cardiovascular disease. Alpha-lipoic acid, also found in this vegetable, has been studied for its effects on insulin levels.

 

Heart healthy Brussel sprouts help regulate blood sugar, support digestive health, and vision, and help feed the beneficial gut bacteria. They are important for mood, inflammation, and immunity. Their sulphur content helps reduce ulcer risk by limiting H. Pylori overgrowth. One of these sulphur compounds, glucosinolates, has been researched for its anti-cancer properties. Brussel sprouts have been shown to reduce the risk of many types of cancers, including breast, skin, and prostate.

 

Generally, in season during the fall and winter months, roasted, grilled, steamed, or stir fried in extra virgin olive oil with sea salt and garlic, they make a delicious addition to any meal. Avoid boiling or overcooking as this may release the sulphuric “rotten egg” smell. Try sautéing Brussel sprouts in butter. Add 1/2 of a fresh lime squeezed onto the cooked sprouts followed by salt & pepper and enjoy!

 

Roasted Balsamic and Honey Brussel Sprouts & Sweet PotatoOrganic Brussel Sprouts Reciepe

  • 1 lb organic Brussel sprouts, trimmed
  • 2-3 organic sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 5-6 organic extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

 

Combine: (to taste)

  • 2 tbsp of your favourite organic balsamic vinegar
  • 3-4 tbsp organic honey
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts, olive oil, salt & pepper; coat evenly
  3. Spread vegetables onto the baking sheet
  4. Roast in the preheated oven until browned, about 30-45 minutes
  5. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey & balsamic vinegar mixture

                                                        ENJOY!

Gilda By Line11