Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N.
The gut microbiome is a collection of good and bad bacteria that live in our digestive system with the majority being in our large intestines. There are actually more bacteria then there are cells in our body, approximately 10 bacteria for every 1 cell! They help us digest the food we eat, modulate our immune system, make vitamins such as vitamin K, B12, riboflavin and thiamine. Our gut microbiome affects our weight, our brain and when out of balance, is associated with autoimmune diseases such as Crohns, SLE, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, etc. They even have an effect on our gene expression and activity. There are only a few of the things that the gut microbiome effectsIt is a super powerful part of us that we can have a positive effect on with some simple lifestyle, diet and mindset modifications.
Symptoms of Dysbiosis? (Unbalanced Gut Microbiome)
There are a wide range of symptoms since our gut is connected to our entire body. These symptoms can show up in our brains, nervous system and even our skin! Some symptoms include;
- Brain Fog
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Upset Stomach
- Sore Joints
- Allergies; environment or food
How can we Positively Change our Gut Microbiome?
We can begin to positively impact our gut microbiome which in turn affects our health on so many different levels.
- Increase Fiber and Decrease Refined Sugar
We can do this by eating whole foods with fiber and reducing our consumption of refined sugar. Fiber is our friend and nothing to be scared of. It helps regulate our bowel movements and feeds our good bacteria. Vegetables, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber! Sugar has a negative effect on our gut microbiome and the more processed and refined sugar we eat the more and more depleted and out of balance it gets. Switching to all natural sweeteners such as real maple syrup, raw & local honey, coconut sugar or date sugar will help to minimize the negative effects. This also means being aware of what you are consuming and how much sugar it has in it. Sugar is sneaky and can be found in things you would never think of like Windsor Iodized Salt! Sugar is the third ingredient in our table salt. Getting rid of the sneaky exposures to sugar will help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome balance. Anything you eat that has an ingredient list you should read the ingredient list and review it to make sure you want to be putting that into your body.
- Daily Movement
Movement and exercise is linked to having beneficial effects on our gut microbiome. Studies are showing the connection between daily movement having an anti-inflammatory effect and balancing the gut microbiome. Any movement is better than no movement. Find what you love and what feels good to your body. It can be walking, yoga, biking, working out, running, jogging or any sport! If you find movement that you enjoy you will want to keep doing it every day!1.
Our bodies and all of our cells are listening to what we are thinking and saying. Positive affirmations and gratitude are a wonderful way to help shape your gut microbiome. We live in a society that has a lot of harsh and strict judgements on what beauty is, leaving many people feeling less than beautiful. These beauty constructs are simply not ture and you need to begin to believe it for yourself and begin to love your body. This also incorporates believing your body can heal. Our bodies want to be in balance, it is called homeostasis. Our bodies want to heal and repair and be vibrant and in balance. Given the right conditions our bodies will begin to restore this balance!
I hope you have learned something about your gut microbiome! Please feel free to reach out to share your experience or stories with me!
Cook MD, Allen JM, Pence BD, et al. Exercise and gut immune function: evidence of alterations in colon immune cell homeostasis and microbiome characteristics with exercise training. Immunol Cell Biol. 2016;94(2):158-163. doi:10.1038/icb.2015.108
Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of gratitude but have you heard of a daily gratitude practice?
As a Holistic Nutritionist, I consider all aspects of a person when helping them achieve their health and wellness goals, including mindset! A daily gratitude practice has such a positive impact on your emotional health and physical health!
Our minds are so powerful and science has proven this with the “placebo” effect and the “nocebo” effect. The placebo effect is when someone gets the same positive benefits from taking a sugar pill as the people who are taking the medication. This is just once example. The nocebo effect is the same premise but the opposite. It is when you believe something is causing harm or making you sick, it will actually make you sick and harm you! Our minds are so fascinating and these two effects show us that our mind is extremely powerful! The good news… we are in complete control of our minds and thoughts! With some easy lifestyle changes you can begin to change the way you feel!
A study conducted in June 2020 looked at research data on gratitude and the resulting effect on a person’s physical health markers. The results showed that in the majority of the studies a person experienced sleep quality improvements when incorporating gratitude. Also, there were improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar, asthma and eating habits.1.
What is a Daily Gratitude Practice?
This is something super simple that you can do at any point of the day but the morning or evening are the two best times! The best way for a daily gratitude practice to have an impact and become part of your life is to make it into a routine and a habit.There are two main methods of a gratitude practice. The first is writing down 3 things you are grateful for and the second is telling someone 3 things you are grateful for. This is an easy practice that takes no more than 2 minutes.
My husband and I have a daily gratitude practice and it has been such an awesome addition to our health routine. Every morning on our walk with our dog, we share 3 things we are grateful for with each other. This usually leads to us sharing stories or talking about these things which further reinforce our gratitude for them. I love to start my day with our gratitude practice. I feel like it sets us up for a really wonderful day of work, errands, family time, friend time or whatever else we have on the go for that day!
How to Begin a Daily Gratitude Practice
Step 1: Choose the morning or the evening
Step 2: Choose whether you want to share it out loud or write it down
Step 3: Set a reminder in your phone to help remind you for the first few days until it becomes second nature!
Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- Boggiss AL, Consedine NS, Brenton-Peters JM, Hofman PL, Serlachius AS. A systematic review of gratitude interventions: Effects on physical health and health behaviors. J Psychosom Res. 2020;135:110165. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2020.110165
Do you experience painful periods and awful PMS symptoms such as diarrhea, mood swings, food cravings, headaches, fatigue, swelling, bloating, ance, constipation?
Do you have PCOS, estrogen dominance, fibroids, endometriosis, infertility?
Or do you experience symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, fatigue?
Seed cycling is a natural method to help balance hormones and help alleviate these awful symptoms!
What is Seed Cycling?
Seed cycling is a natural way to balance your hormones, boost fertility and help alleviate uncomfortable and painful symptoms associated with women’s menstrual cycles. This method has been around for a very long time and used by alternative health practitioners to ease these symptoms. It consists of supplementing your diet with pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds at specific times of your cycle. The seeds are raw, ground and stored in the fridge to preserve freshness and stop them from going rancid. Some of the seeds need to be ground because our bodies have a difficult time breaking down seeds. By grinding them, we liberate the beneficial phytochemicals necessary to promote hormonal balance. Each seed has a specific role it plays in that part of your cycle.
The Basics of your Menstrual Cycle
Your cycle consists of two main phases; the follicular phase and the luteal phase. The follicular phase is the first phase of your cycle from days 1 – 14 (approximately). This phase begins the first day of your bleed and lasts until you ovulate. During the first week of your follicular phase (your bleed week) estrogen and progesterone are very low which causes the shedding of the uterine lining. The second week of your follicular phase is when your hormones begin to rise. Ovulation is said to occur on day 14. This is not always the case. This is based on a 28 day cycle and every woman’s body is unique and different. The best three ways to know when you ovulate is to track your cycles, assess your cervical mucus and to test your basal body temperature. The combination of these three methods will give you the most accurate timing of your ovulation. Ovulation is when estrogen peaks and you are feeling sexy and confident! Testosterone and progesterone are also on the rise! After ovulation you enter the luteal phase. Entering this phase, estrogen and progesterone are high. If an egg isn’t fertilized then your hormones decrease and you continue to cycle.
How to Seed Cycle
Days 1-14 : Follicular Phase
Eat one tablespoon of raw, ground flax seeds and one tablespoon of raw pumpkin seeds. The phytochemicals, fiber, fatty acids, and nutrients (zinc, selenium) in these seeds promote estrogen production while also aiding in removal of excess estrogens and xenoestrogens. This promotes a healthy balance of estrogen during the phase when it is the main hormone.
Days 15-28: Luteal Phase
Eat one tablespoon of raw, ground sunflower seeds and one tablespoon of raw, ground sesame seeds. This phase of your cycle is when progesterone is the star and when unbalanced, is associated with nasty PMS symptoms. The nutrients in these two seeds, especially zinc and vitamin E, assist with progesterone production to help you feed your best!
Note: If possible, it is best to choose organic seeds as this reduces your exposure to herbicides and pesticides. If you are unable to purchase organic, just purchase the conventional seeds! You will still see the wonderful benefits from Seed Cycling!
Ways to Incorporate Your Seeds?
You can incorporate these seeds into your diet in many different ways and in many different dishes from breakfast, dinner, dessert and even snacks!
- Add them in your smoothie
- Sprinkle on your yogurt
- Add some into your oatmeal
- Sprinkle on your salad
- Mix into dips such as hummus
- Eat them as a seed butter and dip your apples in them or spread on toast
- Sprinkle on top of your chia seed pudding
- Add to your baked goods and desserts
- Mix in with your nut butter
- Add then into your granola
There are many different ways to incorporate these seeds into your diet during the different phases of your cycle!
My Personal Experience
I was skeptical at first of seed cycling for hormonal balance but decided to try it since I had nothing to lose and was suffering with awful symptoms from hormonal imbalance. That was over a year ago now and I am such a huge supporter and fan of seed cycling. It is an easy and effective way to help balance your hormones and minimize those awful symptoms. I love to add the seeds to my smoothie in the morning! It ensures I always get my daily dose of seeds and it tastes delicious!
Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N
Hello everyone! I am so excited to be joining the team here at Touchstone Health. My goal as an R.H.N (Registered Holistic Nutritionist) is to create personalized protocols that suit you, your lifestyle and help you be successful. I take the work out of it for you and give you what you are looking for! I have two specialities that I am extremely passionate about: autoimmune diseases and maternal health.
Helping people with autoimmune diseases such as Crohns, colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, celiac, Hashimoto’s, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis is something that is very close to my heart. I am so passionate about helping you take your life back because I have an autoimmune disease that took over my life for many years. I was too sick to see my friends, do well in school, to be active and be me. This was something that consumed me since I was a child and was only diagnosed when I was in my early 20’s. My husband also has an autoimmune disease that took over his life. Through a personalized diet, lifestyle and supplement protocol, we are both in remission and living our best lives! I have been on both sides of an autoimmune disease. I know what it’s like to be sick and I also cared for a loved one while they were sick. Each side is difficult in their own ways. I have the perspective to help guide you through this difficult time. We are both walking proof that you can live the life you want with an autoimmune disease. Having an autoimmune disease myself means that I have tried and tested everything out there. I will give you honest and real feedback since I was in your shoes.
I am also extremely passionate about maternal health, preparing for pregnancy, prenatal, and post-partum health for women. There is so many simple things you can do to improve your fertility, your health and how you feel during pregnancy and postpartum. These simple things will also help improve the health and happiness of your baby. I am passionate about maternal health because this information is not readily available to women or families even though there is lots of scientific research behind them. Empowering and educating women on their bodies during this incredible phase of their life brings me so much joy! I want to be part of your journey to help you and your family be as healthy and happy as you can! I help women prepare their bodies for pregnancy, optimize their health and mindset during pregnancy, prepare for post-partum and for recovery during post-partum. I help you organize and manage your time and your life to achieve all that you want to achieve during this very busy time! I have tips and tricks to nourish your body and your mind through each of these stages.
Holistic nutrition is so much more than just food. I look at everything in your life; the food you eat, your sleep hygiene, your lifestyle, your genetics, your community, how you move your body, and how happy you are. Each of these things play a role in how you feel and they all need to be addressed to help you be the best version of yourself! I am here to help walk you step by step through your journey.
I am very grateful and excited to help guide you through your health journey to achieve your goals!
Ps. Here are a few of my favourite healthy recipes!
We trust this email finds you well and safe. It has been an interesting time in the world and hoping amongst all the changes that have occurred that you have been ok, you have been supported and are keeping well.
We also wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the clinic reopening.
Dr. Jocelyn Hayes, Chiropractic Physician and Anna Totzke, Registered Acupuncturist are both back in office at this time, while Dr. Melanie Reidl, N.D. is still practicing via telemedicine and phone and Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D. is back in office June 25th but also practicing via telemedicine and phone.
The clinic operations have changed and below is an update as to how we are keeping in alignment with the Ministry of Health Standards to keep you safe.
If you are interested in booking in, please do so here and we look forward to seeing you again to help support you in your health journey in any way we can.
564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A Waterloo, Ontario N2L5C6