ARE WE WIRED FOR “STRESS”?

Stress, talk to any given person and you will come to realize nobody is immune from some element in their lives that contributes to their stress level.  When we take the time to also understand what is affected in our body as a result of stress, we can open a big door towards understanding and a starting place where many  health issues set-up their roots.

Every part of our body is interconnected by a communication system of nerve cells, referred to as neurons, their job is to send messages through a combination of electrical impulses and chemical messengers.  This system is our nervous system, a set of wires that allows every body function to do their job!

This nervous system of ours is incredibly complex, especially the brain, which contains about 100 billion neurons.  In fact, the brain houses 98% of the neurons in our body. This control center is protected by the skull and its importance is demonstrated by the fact that although it makes up only 2% of our body’s weight, the brain uses about 25% of our oxygen supply and as much as 20% of the sugar we take in.

The brain has very high metabolism and it is highly affected y what we eat.  Although modern medicine has historically tended to discount the role of nutrition in mental health, studies have begun to show strong links between our nutritional intake and various neurological and psychiatric conditions.  Research has also shown that food choices made during pregnancy, lactation ad early childhood ma have long term consequences on a child’s mental development.  Other research suggests that good nutrition can improve you brain function and reduce your risk of brain disorders.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT!

If you typically follow my blog, you will start to see a pattern… and it’s a pattern that you can CHOOSE to deny, but that denial won’t change the truth of the evidence.  I believe that saying “you are what you eat” applies particularly to our brain.  A junk food diet short circuits the mental attitude and emotional responses, creating, in effect a trashy brain!  Ever been to a child’s birthday party and witness for yourself the transformation in all the kiddo’s AFTER the cake and icecream?  They get lit up with super charged energy then the crash and burn sets in and the temper tantrums, crying/whining phases begin.

When we look at the typical poor diet of the people in our country, it’s no wonder that nervous system issues like stress, depression, anxiety and insomnia affect millions of people.  Its also why we are seeing an increase in the amount of folks struggling with Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia.  We are trying to run our built in computer system on the wrong voltage setting and we are winding up feeling frayed, frazzled and even fried.  Simply put… A good mind is a terrible thing to waste, and we need to start caring for our brain and nervous system better.  Keep reading and lets go over the HOW part….

_________________________________________________________________________________

YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM

Our nervous system consists of:

  • the brain
  • spinal column
  • peripheral nerves

These 3 parts literally regulate everything that happens in and with our bodies.  Whether you realize it is happening conscious or unconsciously trust me it never get a vacation.  There really are two parts that play a vital role:

  1. The conscious or voluntary part of the nervous system is what allows us to perceive information through our senses, analyze and remember information and it’s what allows us to move our skeletal muscles to regulate conscious actions.
  2. The unconscious or involuntary branch of our nervous system is known as the” autonomic nervous system”.  It takes are of what we don’t have to think about, like the heart beating, digesting our food, regulating our body temperature and making sure we breathe.

The autonomic nervous system is further divided into two more branches:

  1. sympathetic nervous system: when we are excited, stressed or scared, the sympathetic nervous system tenses our muscles, makes our heart beat faster and moves blood away from our digestive organs to our muscles.  It gears us up for action, but shuts down digestion and elimination.  This helps explain why stress and anxiety make us tense, stress our heart and raise our blood pressure, give us indigestion and make us constipated.
  2. parasympathetic nervous system: is what is in charge when we are relaxing and trying to unwind.  it moves blood to the digestive organs, relaxes muscles and aids elimination.  There is a reason why people have traditionally made mealtime a time for relaxing and socializing.  It aids the digestion process.  Our body initiates healing and self-repair in the parasympathetic mode.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Our nerves work by a combination of electrical impulses and chemical messengers referred to as “neurotransmitters”.  When a nerve cell gets stimulated, it fires an electrical impulse that moves down the length of the cell.  At the far end of this neuron (nerve cell), the electrical impulse causes the nerve to release neurotransmitters into the gap (known as the synapse) between this nerve and the next one.  The neurotransmitters cross the synapse to the next nerve cell and either stimulate or inhibit it from firing another electrical impulse. 

We know that sleep, mood, appetite and behavior are all influenced by the different types of transmitter chemicals being released in our brain and nerves.  Depression, addiction, mania, schizophrenia, Alzhiemer’s Disease, Parkinson’s disease and ADHD are some of the major disorders now known to involve imbalances in neurotransmitters.

________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT NEUROTRANSMITTERS AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

Serotonin:  is most commonly associated with alleviating depression, serotonin receptors have been found to also control hunger, sleep, pain response, seizure and peristalsis as well as function of the limbic system and brain.

Acetylcholine: is involved in memory and muscle movement, making it a primary neurotransmitter in the voluntary nervous system.  Alzheimer’s disease is now believed to be caused by a destruction of the neurotransmitters in the brain that produce acetylcholine.

Epinephrine and Norepinephrine: these are referred to as “catecholamines” along with dopamine.  Catecholamines are responsible for peripheral nervous system effects (elevated blood pressure and blood sugar, muscular contraction and the release of a thyroid stimulating hormone from the pituitary) as well as central nervous system responses involving respiration and psychomotor activity.  They are the primary neurotransmitters in the sympathetic nervous system.

Dopamine: another catecholamine, responsible for sexual arousal and muscular coordination.  It is the neurotransmitter that is deficient in those who suffer from Parkinson’s Disease.  Again, destruction of the brain cells that produce this neurotransmitter is thought to be responsible.  Where there are low levels of glutathione (an intracellular antioxidant) or there is an excess amount of iron, dopamine degrades into free radicals.

GABA: is best known as the inhibitor of presynaptic transmission, or it keeps the brain from being “trigger happy.”  When in balance, GAA prevents anxiety and increases mental clarity.  Anxiolytic drugs of the benzodiazepine family (valium, Xanax) work off of the soothing effects of GABA receptor response.

There are some other neurotransmitters, like histamine, endorphins, enkephalins, substance P, and nitric acid.  I will save discussion of those for a later blog post.

Synapse

__
________________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT BASIC CARE SHOULD WE BE INITIATING TO NOURISH AND PROTECT OUR BRAIN AND NERVES?

I want to go overboard to be emphatic “our nervous system is the most nutritionally sensitive system in our body.”  Long before we develop actual physical conditions from poor nutrition, we will feel the mental and emotional effects of a lack of good nutrition.  What does that look like:

  • fuzzy thinking (brain fog)
  • absentmindedness,
  • mental confusion
  • nervousness
  • insomnia
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • memory loss

DID YOU KNOW? Exposure to heavy metals and other toxins are now being linked to a variety of neurological symptoms, ranging from depression to autism!

 

I am hoping to bring some understanding as to the biochemical make-up of the brain and nerves so we can better understand how to nourish these the right way.  The brain is  70% water, so it is super sensitive to being dehydrated and let me state that 3 out of 5 people I see in my office/practice are clinically dehydrated!  So, if you really want to think clearer and protect your gray brain matter, start by drinking half your body weight in ounces every day of clean pure water.

Moving on… 50-60% of the dry weight of our brain is made up of fat with 35% of that being omega-3 fatty acids.  So if you want to keep your brain healthy you need to be a “fat-head” by eating the right kinds of fats.  The most abundant omega 3 fatty acid in the brain is DHA, which the brain needs for function and it’s found in fish oil, especially the cold water fish.  DHA is available as a single supplement and is also found in a variety of Omega-3 products. Understand too, if you are on prescription medications for cholesterol, it is depleting the Essential fatty acids in your body too, so be sure to “supplement” these in the diet!

On the flip side, you want to avoid hydrogenated oils like shortenings and margarine and trans-fatty acids from processed and dried foods.  These fats do not do the brain good!

The brain also needs a strong supply of amino acids from protein.  The neurotransmitters I talked about earlier are built from amino acids.  Meals that have adequate protein tend to increase levels of dopamine and norepinephrine which results in more alert mind and better moods.

Foods high in the B-vitamins are essential for lowering the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  B-vitamins are involved in helping the formation of neurotransmitters like dopamine, epinephrine, and serotonin.

___________________________________________________________________________________

WHATS THE REAL SCOOP ON “SUGAR”?

Our brain consumes more blood sugar than any other organ and takes this sugar directly from the bloodstream without the need for insulin.  The amount of sugar in your blood directly controls the amount of sugar reaching our brain.

If we have too much sugar the results look like:

  • agitation
  • irritability
  • nervousness

If we have too little sugar the results look like:

  • mental confusion
  • irritability
  • shakiness
  • fatigue
  • cold nose and limbs
  • cravings for sugar

So actually, blood sugar issues are linked to:

  • forgetfulness,
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mental confusion
  • age-related cognitive decline
  • dementia
  • Alzheimer’s disease

Although our brain needs sugar as a key energy source, simple sugars actually contribute to the brain fog and mental decline.  Consequently, selecting complex carbohydrates, like fruits, vegetables and whole grains over foods that contain refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour and other process grains is where a major shift for most folks needs to begin.

Be sure to include high quality protein and fats with your meals as these will help stabilize blood sugar levels and keep our brain working better!

___________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WAYS WE ARE ACTUALLY “POISONING” OUR MINDS?

We are hearing more and more about “toxins” and where they fit into our daily lives.  Some of these toxins can seriously damage the brain, especially the ones that are fat-soluble like petrochemical solvents.  Since the nervous system is made up primarily of fats, anything that will dissolve fats and oils such as stain removers, gasoline and other solvents can easily penetrate the skin and they affect our nerves.

The renowned toxicologist Warren Clough was one of the chemists who went into the Nazi chemical plants at the end of WWII and collected their research on chemical weapons.  This technology, originally intended to  harm and kill enemy combatants, was later used to develop pesticides and herbicides.  The primary was that pesticides kill insects is by disabling their nervous systems.  Its not too difficult to connect the dots that the potential effect of pesticides on us humans, who ingest small, but continual dosages of these chemicals in our foods leave a time released damaging effect on our neurological system, of which we are beginning to see surface in the higher numbers of people being diagnosed with neurological diseases.

Many people are exposed to heavy metals on a daily basis.  The definition of heavy metals by chemists is actually problematic because there are heavy metals that fall in the category of necessary nutrients like iron, manganese and zinc.  Other heavy metals however, like mercury, plutonium and lead, are toxic.  There are also metals that are actually physically light, like aluminum, yet are also toxic to our body.  Some chemists suggest that the metals that damage the body should be called “toxic metals”.  For our purposes, heavy metals are defined not as metals that are heavy, but as metals that have a heavy burdensome effect on our body.

The toxic effect of heavy metals is a well-known issue because of their body ravaging effects on the workers in factories that manufacture products using these metals.  In a list of 38 symptoms associated with exposure to mercury, cadmium, lead, aluminum and arsenic, only 7 of these symptoms were NOT associated with the nervous system.. That means about more than three-fourths of health issues associated with heavy metals directly affect our nervous system.

Here’s a list of some of the substances to avoid IF you want a healthier nervous system:

  1. pharmaceutical drugs
  2. excessive consumption of alcohol especially from aluminum cans
  3. chemical solvents (stop cleaning your homes with these heavy hitting cleaners)
  4. pesticides and herbicides
  5. excessive consumption of coffee, black tea, and caffeinated sodas
  6. refined sugar and white flour
  7. hydrogenated oil
  8. animal fats from commercially raised animals.

___________________________________________________________________________________

SPECIFIC NERVOUS SYSTEM PROBLEMS

The stress response is a normal and healthy response to danger.  To describe this, experts often use the example of being chased by a tiger.  If you were ever to come face to face with a tiger, you would want your body to generate as much energy and strength as needed to run away from or fight of the tiger.  That is why the stress response is also called the “fight or flight” response.

The stress response involves a shift in our nervous system that strongly activates our sympathetic nerves, releasing more epinephrine, and inhibits the parasympathetic nerves.  This causes our pupils to dilate, to let more light in for clearer vision.  The digestive process stops because this is not the time to be sitting down for lunch!  The bladder and rectum contract because there is no time for a pit stop.  And the heart rate increases to get lots of oxygen and nutrition to our muscles since the body senses we need to run or fight for our lives!

These responses are supported by our adrenal glands, because the sympathetic nervous system also stimulates the adrenals to release stress hormones, including more epinephrine and cortisol.  Our brain is affected by all of this because our higher brain centers where we have our cool/calm and rational thoughts shut down, causing us to react instinctively from lower brain centers.  If you have ever swerved without thinking to avoid an accident on the highway, this is what just happened.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT QUALIFIES AS UNHEALTHY DAMAGING STRESS?

Truth be told, most of the “dangers” in our modern lives are not actual physical dangers like encountering lions, tigers and bears, (oh my)… But a stack of unpaid bills can feel like a threat to our survival, but doesn’t allow for an instinctive physical response.  Instead, most modern issues require us to calmly and rationally make decisions about how e can solve the problem.

 

This is where stress transforms into anxiety!  When the fight or flight response is triggered by situation where there is no really physical danger, it inhibits our memory and our ability to think clear.  Test anxiety is an example of this.  When a student comes face to face with their own fright of taking an exam, epinephrine and cortisol levels rise and the student is unable to access old memory.  So often we hear students say I knew that before I walked into the room, but when I took the test, my mind just went blank!

 

In addition, unlike swerving to avoid a car accident, these dangers of modern society often last for months and for some people years!  The continuous activation of the stress response, over and over again has a cumulative effect, which leads to a feeling of “burn-out”, a state of emotional and nervous exhaustion.

 

This burned out feeling is common to soldiers who faced constant real stress on the battlefield.  It was called shell-shock in World War ( and battle fatigue in World War II.  Today, it is called Pot-traumatic stress disorder.  Whatever you choose to call it, you don’t need to go to war to experience the battle fatigue, or post traumatic stress disorder, you just need to experience poorly managed stress over an extended period of time.

___________________________________________________________________________________

DID Y OU KNOW?  Caffeine is the #1 enemy to our nervous system!

Public Enemy #1 for our sympathetic nervous system activity and cortisol levels is “caffeine”. This is how it wakes us up and puts us on alert.  If we are in parasympathetic mode, caffeine returns us to a state of sympathetic fight or flight chemistry.  What is so insidious about caffeine is that when we are in a relaxed state an we are presented with a potential stressor like an overdue bill, we are less likely to perceive the overdue bill as stressful.  But when we are in stress chemistry already, we are more likely to perceive the overdue bill as stressful.

This means that when we are happy, potential problems tend to roll off of us and don’t overwhelm our happiness.  But once we are in sympathetic mode, potential problems are taken over the top serious and our stress escalates, putting us into a downward spiral.  Knowing that caffeine can cause this it seems more intelligent to forego the caffeine and choose to achieve the same alertness with an adaptogen like Eleuthero and just skip the stress and anxiety altogether!

______________________________________________________________________________________

HOW CAN WE MANAGE OUR STRESS THAT HELPS VS. HURTS?

Studies are all over the place that prove that stress has a negative impact on our body and yet stressful experiences happen to everyone.  Truth is STRESS isn’t going anywhere, it’s been here from the beginning of time.  What we need are the tools and skills that can help us manage the effects of the stress in our life so we can bounce back!

 

#1: STOP AND TAKE A DEEP BREATH

The fastest way to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to restore calm ad clear thinking is to breathe deeply.  Sympathetic breathing is the direct opposite, it is rapid and shallow, so breathing deep activates the relaxing side of the nervous system.

A simple technique:  breathe in while counting to four…. and exhale counting to four, and keep repeating this until you “feel” yourself calming down.

#2  WHAT ARE ADAPTOGENS?

There is a class of herbals referred to as adaptogens.  the mediate the output of our stress hormones so you feel calm and more relaxed.

#3 BREAK OUT THE B-COMPLEX

B-vitamins are particularly important for the nervous system and for energy production.  By depleting these vitamin, refined carbs, increase our anxiety and nervousness.  To satisfy those carb cravings, look for products made with whole grains and unrefined sugars, and consider taking a good anti- stress vitamin and mineral supplement. ( I will post my suggestions at the end of this post complete with links for you)

#4 PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

Remember when I said that the body produces specific stress hormones and the body starts pumping more blood to the muscles to equip the body to “run”.  The body is being primed for action.  So doing some sort of physical action will help burn them off.  Ever noticed how just taking a walk when you feel stressed helps relax you?  So do what ever physical activity you enjoy:

  • walking
  • swimming
  • golf
  • yoga etc.

#5 PAMPER YOURSELF

According to Dr. Paul Pearsall, author of The Pleasure Prescription” a pleasurable experience does more good for the body than a stressful experience does harm.  Pleasure enhances health, energy and emotional well being.  It causes muscles to relax and even triggers healing.  So rather than waste your time trying to a void stress, plan time for pleasure.  Go get a massage, learn a hobby, soak in a hot tub, listen to soft music, diffuse calming essential oils. Surround your self with soothing softer colors and avoid primary colors even the color choice of your clothing makes a difference.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC STRESS CYCLES?

DEPRESSION: I think everyone has felt down in the dumps at one time or another.  Feeling down, sad, tired or unmotivated because of a temporary los or setback is actually normal.  However, some people can hit those lows and just can’t get back up again and they become clinically depressed!

If you are suffering from depression,  know that you are not alone. Statistics suggest that about 18.8 million folks suffer from depression, which is just a tad shy of 10% of the adult U.S. population.  Adults are not the only ones suffering from depression.  It is becoming increasingly more common in our teens and children too.

The modern medical world treats this with drugs called antidepressants.  The most commonly used anti-depressant drugs act as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and include:

  • prozac
  • paxil
  • zoloft

These SSRIs create a false sense of detachment and the excess serotonin creates an elevation of mood.  There is some evidence to suggest that they are linked with violent and antisocial behavior too.

Fortunately, we can increase serotonin levels with nutrition.  Serotonin production is directly linked to levels of L-tryptophan, which is an amino acid in the brain.  Eating more complex carbs, like whole fruits, veggies, and whole grains help stabilize L-tryptophan levels in the brain.  Refined carbs and simple sugars give a quick fix. they life the mood but drop it like a rock shortly there after.

AGE-RELATED MEMORY LOSS

the brain is sensitive to damage from inflammation and free radicals, so another part of feeding the brain is to eat plenty of antioxidant rich fresh fruits and veggies, organically grown where you can. 5-9 servings a day of these health protecting foods daily.

When we can’t get adequate amounts of fruits and veggies, a whole food supplement that features antioxidant rich fruits and botanicals is a convenient substitute. A blend to reach for should contain naturally occurring antioxidants which include polyphenols, flavonoids, xanthones and vitamin C.

I will list choices I recommend at the end of this post.

SOMETHING TO TRY AT HOME…

The eye’s pupil contracts under the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system and enlarges under the sympathetic nervous system.  So one can tell whether a person is in sympathetic or parasympathetic mode by looking at the pupils.

Examine the eyes of a friend or loved one to see what nervous system mode they are in.

 

To make this activity even more fun have friends or family members smell different essential oils to see whether their pupils enlarge or contract.  Different essential oils affect the nervous system in different ways.

 

Oils like lavender, ylang ylang and chamomile typically activate the parasympathetic nervous system, making one’s pupils become smaller.  Oils like lemon, rosemary and pin will activate sympathetic nerves making the pupils larger.

All the suggested Essential Oils can be found at: www.harvestedhealth.mynsp.com

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENTS TO SUPPORT THE NERVOUS SYSTEM:

NERVOUS SYSTEM PACK( 30 day):

Benefits:
Feeds and soothes the nervous system.
Builds the body’s ability to adapt to stress.
Helps calm nerves and supports restful sleep.
How It Works:

Stress-J contains a powerful blend of four calmative herbs known to help support proper nervous system function. It promotes relaxation and well-being.
AdaptaMax provides adaptogenic herbs that help the body combat stress and adapt to stressful situations, including stress on the immune system, fatigue and stress-related aging. Nerve Eight helps support proper nervous system function, reduce cellular stress, promote sleep and provide digestive support. Nutri-Calm provides B-complex vitamins, antioxidants and other essential nutrients that support and calm the nervous system and encourage restful sleep.

Ingredients:

Each packet contains 2 Stress-J capsules, 2 AdaptaMax capsules, 1 Nerve Eight capsule and 1 Nutri-Calm tablet.

Recommended Use:

Take the contents of one packet in the morning with breakfast, and one packet in the evening with a meal. Follow this pattern for 30 days.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

NUTRI-CALM:

Benefits:
Supports the nervous system
A natural formulation designed to maintain a sense of calm and peace of mind
May be used for occasional stress
How It Works:
Nutri-Calm is a unique formulation, containing C and B-Complex vitamins along with natural extracts, designed to maintain a sense of calm and peace of mind.
Ingredients:
Provides vitamin C, thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin, B6, folic acid, B12, biotin and pantothenic acid, plus schizandra fruit, choline, inositol, bee pollen, PABA, lemon bioflavonoids, valerian root extract, passionflower flowers extract and hops flowers extract.

_______________________________________________________________________________________

BRAIN PROTEX:

Benefits:
May help block the enzyme acetylcholinesterase, helping to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter.
Supports circulation throughout the body as well as to and within the brain.
Protects capillaries and strengthens the blood–brain barrier.
Helps support and protect proper brain function.
Neutralizes free radicals.
How It Works:

This formula is designed to give the brain protection against free radical damage. It is especially helpful for those who desire extra support for brain health, nerve function and alertness.
Brain-Protex combines protective herbs, antioxidants and phospholipids that favorably impact age-related memory loss, boost mental acuity and curb free radical damage to the brain. Huperzine A is a substance that occurs naturally in Chinese club moss, a plant used in traditional Chinese medicine. It may help prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which seems to be an indicator of overall memory function. Ginkgo supports cerebral circulation, which may promote proper concentration, memory and alertness. Alpha lipoic acid may also play a role in long-term memory. This formula also contains the powerful antioxidant lycopene.

Ingredients:
Soybean lecithin complex (phosphatidylserine, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol), ginkgo leaves, lycopene, alpha lipoic acid and Chinese club moss whole plant extract.

________________________________________________________________________________

STRESS RELIEF TCM:

Benefits:
Nourishes the nervous system.
May optimize gastric function.
Supports circulatory health.
How It Works:
Chinese Stress Relief TCM Concentrate contains the same combination of 14 herbs found in Chinese Stress Relief but in a highly concentrated blend. These herbs and natural substances are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to support emotional balance and calm a stressed fire constitution. The Chinese call this formula an shen, which can be translated to mean “to pacify the spirit.” These herbs may help to nourish the nervous system and subsequently help improve gastric function and strengthen the urinary system. The key ingredients are oyster shell, haliotis shell and fushen. In Chinese medicine, oyster shell is considered to be calming and is used to relieve anxiety. Haliotis has properties similar to oyster shell. Oyster shell and haliotis are principally made of calcium carbonate, which may support gastric and circulatory health. Fushen is used in Chinese modalities as a stabilizingherb for restlessness and to relieve anger.
Ingredients:
Concentrated extract of oyster shell, albizzia bark, polygonatum rhizome, haliotis shell, fushen sclerotium with root, acorus rhizome, curcuma root tuber, ginseng root, jujuba seed, polygala root, coptis rhizome, cinnamon twig, ginger rhizome and licorice root.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

DHA:

Benefits:
Supports healthy brain development and function.
Provides circulatory system support.
How It Works:
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a fatty acid that is absorbed into the fatty perimeter of cells. There it exerts its biochemical properties. DHA is highly concentrated in the brain and retinal neural tissues. It is required for brain development and important in maintaining and protecting the neural tissues.
Ingredients:
250 mg docosahexaenoic acid, 50 mg eicosapentaenoic acid and natural lemon oil.

Thank you for liking, sharing and following my posts…. If you are interested in scheduling an appointment you can do that by going to http://www.mkt.com/harvested-health-llc and click on the desired service.  I’d be honored to take this healthy journey together!

________________________________________________________________________________________

SUPER OMEGA-3 EPA:

Benefits:
Promotes brain health
Encourages healthy circulatory function
380 EPA / 190mg DHA per capsule
Supports the cardiovascular system
How It Works:
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of four basic fats that the body derives from foods. While many of the other fats are harmful, omega-3s benefit the body and are especially good for the heart. Super Omega-3 EPA is a source of two fatty acids, EPA and DHA. Super Omega-3 EPA softgels contain approximately 1,000 mg fish oil, with a ratio of 33:16 EPA to DHA (380 mg EPA, 190 mg DHA) per softgel. It also contains lemon to significantly reduce the aftertaste from fish oil and to reduce gas. (Contains fish such as anchovy, sardine and mackerel.)
Ingredients:
Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Healthfully yours,

Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.

Harvested Health LLC

www.jodibarnett758.com

 

Advertisements

Why Is The Digestive System So Crucial?

I work with lots of clients who come to me with a variety of symptoms and  with almost all of them I recommend digestive system support and they are confused..

Getting folks to realize the road to good health is paved with good intestines… is tricky business.  There are more organs in your digestive system than in any other system in the body.  Up to two-thirds of all your body parts are used just for digesting. You also use up to two-thirds of your daily energy just to complete the process of digesting.  The two things the body expends the MOST energy on is “digesting” and “elimination”.

___________________________________________________________________________________________

The digestive system is complex and intricate, it plays a major role in the health and well being of the body.  It provides the means by which the body transforms the food we eat into energy to feed the “machine”.  It consists of:

  • mouth
  • esophagus
  • stomach
  • small intestine
  • liver
  • pancreas
  • gallbladder

The first stop is what happens in the mouth. When we chew the food the body produces saliva, which comes complete with an enzyme called ptyalin (amylase).  This enzyme helps to start dissolving food making it easier to swallow. Once the food is then swallowed, it travels down the esophagus to the stomach.  The stomach then works like a washing machine churning the food into a pasted referred to as “chyme”.

The stomach uses hydrochloric acid (HCL) which the Adrenal glands contribute to encouraging the stomach to produce, and the enzyme pepsin to begin breaking down proteins.  When we eat something with sugar or drink water, those are absorbed directly into the blood stream while in the stomach.  The food that is not absorbed moves on down the line to the pyloric sphincter which is at the very end of the stomach.  this sphincter serves as the gateway to the small intestine.  When the food eaten has been broken down well enough, it is released into the small intestine, which is made up of three parts:

  • duodenum,
  • jejunum
  • ileum

The small intestine is where the MAJOR digestion and ABSORPTION of nutrients takes place.  These nutrients are then absorbed into the blood stream and some are transported to the liver.

The average peep, eats from 40-50 tons of food in their lifetime… Did you know it takes your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, gallbladder, pancreas and liver JUST to digest a glass of milk?

Other organs that play a major role in digestion include:

  • pancreas
  • gallbladder
  • liver

The pancreas is a gland located behind the stomach and it manufactures various enzymes and hormones: amylase for breaking down starches, and insulin and glucagon for blood sugar regulation.  These are pumped directly into the duodenum.  A duct also connects the duodenum to our gallbladder.  This pear shaped sac squeezers out bile, which bile is basically our body’s version of a detergent agent that contains acids that dissolves fats.

Our liver is the largest organ in the body, and the body’s main chemical factory.  It performs more than 500 different functions.  Besides producing bile, the liver:

  1. processes nutrients
  2. converts dietary proteins into new protein needs for the blood system
  3. stores fats, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins
  4. releases proteins, carbohydrates & vitamins as needed
  5. absorbs poisons and toxic substances before neutralizing them

Once the food makes it past the small intestine, any remaining matter is then passed into the cecum, which is the beginning of the large intestine, or colon.  It is in the large intestine that fecal matter is formed.  Water is reabsorbed, B-vitamins are absorbed, and the matter itself is moved along through the rest of the colon.  The large intestine ends at the rectum and anus.

The length of the digestive tract is some 30 feet.  There is about 25 feet of small intestines and about 5 feet of large intestine.

There is a major purpose for the digestive system and it revolves around “CHANGE”.  The digestive system changes carbohydrates into simple carbohydrates or sugars.  It changes proteins into smaller molecules called amino acids which are building blocks for our body.  It changes fats into fatty acids/glycerin.  Whole foods are changed into usable forms called nutrients, which are directly absorbed into our blood stream.  It is often said, “You are what you eat,” but I say “You are what you are able to absorb!”

DID YOU KNOW?  

  1. The liver can function even if as much as 90% of it is removed
  2. after you eat, it usually takes 24 hours in healthy adults to complete the  process of digestion

________________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT ARE SOME PRIMARY PROBLEMS and INADEQUACIES  WITH THE DIGESTIVE SYSTEM?

#1. TRANSIT TIME:

One of the most common issues associated with the digestive system is transit time.  Transit time is a measure used to denote how long it takes for food to be broken down and roll through the 30 foot system from end to end.  Normally, it is about 24 hours, it takes around 3-6 hours for a meal just to be converted to nutrients.  Problems occur when transit time is either too slow or too fast.

Muscles all along the digestive tract contract in an action called peristalsis which is what propels the food through the process.  These propulsive waves also force waste to move into the rectum for elimination.  This should happen from 3-4 times a day…. (HOW MANY TIMES ARE YOUR BOWELS MOVING?)…I always say “think babies and puppies”. Typically they have to eliminate shortly after eating.  Usually once most of us hit our late teens and I’m seeing this much sooner now in my practice, that we no longer eliminate like babies/puppies… Folks are lucky if they have a bowel movement once a day.  So now think about the fact that the digestive system can only process 3-4 meals a day!  So when you eat the next meal the very 1st one should be ready for exit.

I frequently tell my patients that if they are only having one bowel movement a day they ARE constipated.  I hear over and over again.. but one bowel movement a day is what is “Normal” for me… But this is NOT the case if you have more than one meal a day!  Folks, our current health system deals mostly with drugs & surgery.  They tend to prescribe laxatives that can be habit forming and fibers that contain food dyes known to be carcinogens.  If we have digestive issues, it is also common to use antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, antacids, steroids, and/or intestinal removal.  What we really need is a better understanding of how the digestive system functions, and how We can care for it naturally.

TEST YOUR TRANSIT TIME: drink just beet juice or liquid chlorophyll. after you drink it, it should take about 24 hrs. to see red coloring in your stool.  If your red transit time is too fast like 12 hours, you are eliminating too fast and not absorbing all your nutrients  if it is too slow, say 48 hours, your constipated and leading to toxicity.

#2. INADEQUATE ENZYMES

Food has to be properly digested to allow absorption.  This only happens with the help of enzymes.  without digestive enzymes, which speed up the digestive process food would take the same amount of time to digest as it does when rotting in warm open air.  By design, we do have sufficient enzymes to ensure digestion. but what is not generally known is that today our enzymes have to combat shelf-life food.  Modern foods did not exist when our Creator originally figured out our lifetime supply of enzymes.

Foods today are processed, boxed, canned refined, heat treated, pasteurized, radiated, microwaved, and packaged.  Our enzymes were designed for food that is fresh, partially digested by nature, and alive.  That does not describe shelf-life foods.  Preservatives, chemicals, additives, and heat also destroy any additional natural enzymes present within food, not to mention the natural enzymes we were born with.

______________________________________________________________________________________

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The lining of the stomach has 35 million tiny glands that pour out two to three quarts of gastric juice daily?  When food is introduced the juice flows faster.

Enzymes are also needed for detoxification. They turn fat-soluble materials and waste into water for easier elimination.  We see that fewer enzymes equals more toxicity.  Enzymes help ensure the removal of harmful allergens, pollution, heavy metals and toxins from the body.  Enzymes also maintain a normal pH level in the digestive system, which is critical in reducing inflammation.

 

#3. LACKING SYSTEM PROBIOTICS

We are hearing more and more about the need for probiotics. They are similar to enzymes, our body produces and needs friendly bacteria. They participate in digestion and absorption. They stand guard to also do battle in our defense against harmful organisms from making our digestive system their home.  Probiotics even help supplement our diet by manufacturing vitamins and providing immunity.

 

Probiotics are found in both the small and large intestines.  But the colon contains the majority of these friendly buggers.  A normal peep should have about 1000 trillion of these good buggers in the intestine.  They can even account for 10% of total body weight!  The most familiar strains are:

  • lactobacillus acidophilus
  • bifidobacterium longum (acidophilus & bifidophilus)

They have some specific jobs to perform and those would be:

  1. producing additional enzymes
  2. producing antibiotic substances to fight bacteria bad guys
  3. forming B-vitamins
  4. reducing liver stress
  5. preventing constipation
  6. boosting immune system

What is happening is many are functioning with a very reduced population of beneficial probiotic colonies in their gut due to the over use of antibiotics (which our commercial meats are loaded with), chemical exposure, and overly processed fast/boxed/microwaved foods.  Which is why EVERYONE would benefit by supplementing daily with probiotics.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

#4

HIATAL HERNIA

Many are misdiagnosed with digestive symptoms with something called a hiatus.  The diaphragm, which is our breathing muscle separates the chest from our abdomen, contains an opening called the hiatus.  This is where the esophagus passes through to reach the stomach.  Occasionally part of the stomach protrudes through the hiatus, creating a hernia that permits the black-flow of acid or chyme up in to the esophagus, or we call it acid reflux disease.  Doctors can confuse heart disease or ulcers with a hiatus hernia because the symptoms are very similar.  Sometimes they simply trat the issue with antacids.  A hiatus hernia can cause great pain, difficult breathing, heartburn, etc.

#5. HYDROCHOLORIC ACID (HCL) IMBALANCE

We have been fed that stomach acid is bad, if you take a look the antacid industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.  Although antacids can be helpful, they are not the answer for what causes heartburn or indigestion in the first place.  Stomach acid, or hydrochloric acid, breaks down protein ad fights off microbes.  It stimulates the pancreas and small intestines to produce additional enzymes, as well as bile.  The truth is that treatment aimed at neutralizing stomach acid can actually make your digestive issues worse not better.  The other connecting factor is most are also dealing with adrenal fatigue issues too, and the adrenal glands also participate in sending proper signal to the stomach for proper HCL production.  So it’s usually a two-fold issue happening.  Which is why when someone is dealing with major stress issues, the digestion is affected.

DID YOU KNOW? The small intestine can be likened to a second brain.  It contains as many neurons as your spinal column, and 95% of your serotonin which is the brain’s mood regulating chemical is contained in your small intestines, elaborate network of nerves.  That’s why we feel strong emotions like fear, love and anticipation in the gut as well as our minds.  The intestines can also be affected in the same way that the brain is from lack of serotonin.  Inadequate serotonin in the bran can cause depression; in the gut, it can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.

Many are fearful when I recommend they need to take a HCL + pepsin supplement for reflux or bloating issues after they eat.  They are afraid it will contribute to more burning, Yet the stomach has a mucus lining which forms a barrier between the stomach wall and the acid produced.  This is natures’ ways of protecting the stomach from the strength of its contents.  The lining of the stomach sheds cells at the rate of half a million every minute  They are replaced so rapidly that the stomach has what amounts to a new lining every three days.

The question we should be asking… should we be trying to stop HCL production with antacids?  As we get older, (usually after age 40), we tend to make less HCL anyway.  Add to that a poor diet, overeating, and inhaling your food, and you may find you have digestive and immune issues.  Low levels of stomach acid can produce protein malnourishment.  This leads to acidic blood (a pH imbalance), setting the stage for toxins, illness, and disease.  It can also lead to mineral deficiencies.  As the blood becomes acidic, your blood will look for minerals anywhere in the body to counter the pH issues.  It will even steal the mineral calcium from the bones, which contributes to osteoporosis.  and when do most folks notice osteoporosis or osteopenia is an issue?…. over the age of 40!

 

Here is a basic equation for this type of digestive issues:  low stomach acid= acidic blood=low minerals.  Symptoms of this cycle looks like these symptoms:

  • bloating
  • flatulence
  • heart burn
  • diarrhea
  • constipation
  • acne
  • chronic candida
  • food allergies
  • immune problems

____________________________________________________________________________________

WHAT DOES “NATURAL’ SUPPORT OF YOUR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM LOOK LIKE?

For optimum health, the digestive system requires:

  1. improved diet
  2. exercise
  3. plenty of clean water
  4. fiber
  5. detoxification
  6. and boosting the nutritional deficiencies with supplementation

DIET: this area is where most folks miss the mark in a major way.  Properly balancing what you are eating is important. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat out, or have a piece of cake etc. It means those choices should be occasional not habitual.  The body needs clean proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  so fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains ad seeds have to be included in the mix.

Proteins need to be lean, clean and high quality.  Carbohydrates are better when they are complex vs. simple.  Fats should be unsaturated and essential fatty acid choices.  Which fall into the Omega 3,6,9 categories.

  • flaxseed
  • fish oil
  • avocadoes
  • black currant oil
  • borage oil
  • greens
  • nuts seeds

All have Essential fatty acid elements.

We also have the most amazing tool to aid in digestion that is both powerful and inexpensive, that would be our TEETH… most folks fall into the WOLF my food category, they chew what they are eating maybe 5-10 times as virtually swallow the rest whole.  You want to concur over eating?  Take the time to chew 25 times before swallowing, I don’t expect you to physically count your chews, but use your tongue and feel what is in your mouth, if you cannot feel chunks, then swallow.  You will thank yourself with better digestion, and you will end up eating less.  It takes approx. 25 minutes for the Vagus nerve to send signal to the brain that you are full.  So the longer you take chewing and swallowing you will find you end up eating less.

 

EXERCISE:  This is a touchy subject for lots of folks.  Yet the truth of the matter is we spend more time sitting than any of us care to admit.  We sit while driving, while watching TV, while we are on our computers, Cell phones etc.  Exercise of ANY kind is beneficial to assisting the peristalsis and improving the muscular integrity of your abdomen.  The body is designed to move, we have lots of “hinged” body parts for that very reason.

WATER:  o avoid being constipated, we have to properly hydrated.  Many people believe they drink plenty of water throughout the day, but they ignore some elements they may be also doing that naturally dehydrates the body, like coffee, alcohol and carbonated drinks.  So for every cup of those you drink you need to add an additional cup of water to compensate.

FIBER: It is a proven fact with todays standard go to diet choices that people are not coming close to getting near enough fiber in their diet.  supplementing with fiber is highly recommended.  There are five kinds of fiber:

3 soluble fibers:

  1. pectin
  2. mucilage
  3. gum (not chewing gum by the way)

2 insoluble fibers:

  1. cellulose
  2. hemi cellulose

Introducing dietary fiber through supplementation is highly recommended but to add gradually and it’s important that you are drinking enough water at same time.

DID YOU KNOW?

The average person carries between 5 – 25 pounds of undigested fecal matter in their bowels at all times.  It contributes to the “pouch” look that most of us don’t want to have.

AND…

Heartburn is not the result of excessive stomach acid; it is the result of not enough!

BENEFITS OF ADDING FIBER:

  • causes us to feel full
  • decreases appetite
  • helps with weight-loss
  • eases/speeds bowel movements
  • reduces bad cholesterol
  • delays blood sugar absorption
  • grabs onto toxins
  • sweeps feces out of the body
  • lowers chance of colon cancer and hemorrhoids.

DETOXIFICATION:

The cleansing or purging of the intestines or detoxification actually dates back to Egypt.  The Greeks also used it, as did the American Indians.  Detoxification has been around for ages.  But never has it become more important in our history than it is right now./  Foods have become denatures, devoid of enzymes, overly sugared, and just plain poisoned.  As food and water are steadily more toxic, our digestive systems are becoming  more overloaded.  The need for detoxification of the digestive system is paramount.  The number one reason today for most doctor visits is for digestive issues.

PRODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS:  In my practice I have like any practitioner my “favorite” go to products.  I’ve listed links to those products below.

Digestive System Pack (30 day supply):

Benefits:
Supports healthy digestion by breaking down all types of food.
May promote immune system health.
Supplies friendly bacteria to help rebalance the population of flora in the gut.
Aids in the elimination of toxins.
How It Works:
Proactazyme facilitates digestion and improves nutrient absorption. Anti-Gas TCM supports both the digestive and detoxifying functions of the body and supports the natural elimination of excess moisture and toxins. Bacillus Coagulans is a self-stable probiotic that is blended with prebiotics conducive to the growth of friendly bacteria.
Ingredients:
Each AM packet contains 3 Proactazyme capsules. Each PM packet contains 1 Anti-Gas TCM and 2 Bacillus Coagulans capsules.
Recommended Use:
Take the contents of one AM packet throughout the day before meals (one capsule before each meal). Take the contents of the evening packet with your evening meal. Follow this pattern for 30 days.

FOOD ENZYMES:   (these are on special the rest of this week)

Benefits:
Supplements the body’s production of important enzymes.
Provides a blend of enzymes to digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Provides hydrochloric acid and bile salts to help digest proteins and fats.
Helps relieve occasional indigestion.
How It Works:
Enzymes break down food into compounds for absorption into the bloodstream. This combination of enzymes offers more complete digestive support when taken with meals. This formula includes pepsin, which is used for pre-digesting proteins in the stomach. Betaine HCl helps create an acidic environment to facilitate the activity of pepsin. After food reaches the small intestine, the enzyme pancreatin further digests protein, carbohydrates and fats in the small intestine. Pancreatin also helps to support the pancreas. Alpha amylase digests starches. Bile salt makes fats soluble, preparing them for further digestion by lipase. The enzymes bromelain and papain aid in the digestion of proteins. One capsule will help you digest a minimum of 30 grams of protein, 30 grams of carbohydrates and 20 grams of fats.
Ingredients:
Betaine HCl, bile salt, bromelain, lipase, alpha amylase, pancreatin, papain and pepsin.

NATURES THREE:

Benefits:
Provides intestinal systems support.
Provides naturally occurring fiber from psyllium hulls.
Promotes regularity in maintaining healthy bowel movements.
Relieves occasional constipation.
How It Works:
There are two basic types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, found in foods such as fruits, seeds, brown rice, barley and oats works mainly by helping to produce a softer stool. It also chemically prevents or reduces the absorption of certain substances into the bloodstream. Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains, vegetables, legumes and the outside of seeds, works like a sponge, absorbing many times its weight in water and swelling up inside the intestines. The result is elimination that is more efficient.
Nature’s Three provides: Psyllium which has the highest level of soluble fiber known—more than eight times that of oat bran. Oat fiber –a wholesome source of water-soluble fiber. Apple fiber – provides a host of health benefits. Each 10-calorie serving provides 2 g of dietary fiber.

Ingredients:
Psyllium seed hulls, apple fruit fiber and oat inner husk bran.

CLEAN START DETOXIFYING MILD PROGRAM (14 DAY):

Benefits:
Supports the natural, everyday cleansing of waste from the body.
Gently moves intestinal contents through the digestive system.
May help to maintain natural energy levels.
Promotes a feeling of well-being.
How It Works:
Environmental pollutants can build up in the body, slowing natural cleansing and detoxifying processes. CleanStart® is our most popular cleanse to help support the primary detoxifying processes of the body. This flagship product is available in a mild formula for those seeking complete yet gentle cleansing support. CleanStart Mild contains Bacillus coagulans to support the friendly bacteria in the intestinal tract. Use CleanStart Mild to help “jump start” your cleansing and detoxifying program. After cleansing, try Detox Basics™ daily detoxifying program for ongoing detoxification support.
Ingredients:
Each Cleansing Drink Mix packet contains psyllium hulls, vegetable fiber, natural wild berry flavor, potassium citrate, aloe vera whole leaf, malic acid, carotene extract, stevia leaf extract, sodium copper chlorophyllin, bentonite. Each capsule pack contains 3 capsules of Gentle Move® and 1 capsule of Enviro-Detox™.
Recommended Use:
Take contents of one cleansing drink mix packet 15-30 minutes before breakfast and 15-30 minutes before dinner. Take contents of capsule packet with breakfast and dinner (twice daily).

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

If you’d like a personalized nutritional program put together for you and your health needs.  You can go to http://www.jodibarnett758.com and click on the services tab, when you click on a specific service it will take you to the shopping cart to pay for your services and we can get you on my appointment schedule.   You can also click on the “products” tab and it will take you to over 500 + products that as a practitioner I use and recommend in my practice.

Thank you for taking the time to read, like and share my posts.

Healthfully yours,

Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.

Harvested Health LLC