Bloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods. These not-so-digested foods feel like they're just sitting around causing discomfort and general feeling of being stuffed and "gassy".
It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you're getting older it can very wll be because of your stomach's reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.
Normally when we eat, cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes. As we age this process can become less efficient an the result can feel like it's wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.
Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effectts on all of our digestion abilities "downstream" and that can result in bloating.
Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies. This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet aas it may take a while for our body to get used to them.
Pro Tip: Try chewing your vegetables more throughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones. If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.
Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme "pepsin". This means that the proteins you eat aren't broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat "undigested".
Pro Tip: You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.
One thing that can seriously cause blaoting is when your digestive system slows down. then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (or a lot?) longer than you'd like.
Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people. Pepermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn't stay in one spot for too long.
Pro Tip: Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger. Check out my awesome recipe here.
All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine. The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body. The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes. These "unfriendly" bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism. The more of these microbes in you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.
Pro Tip: Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your sytem to keep the bad guys at bay. This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don't cause boating for you!). Make sure they're unpastureurized and contain live cultures. If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.
You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it's right for you.
With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the "activation" of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them). In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food they need to be activated. This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.
Pro Tip: You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!). Before you do, make sure to read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medicatios, or conditions, and may not be safe to use long-term.
You can try the "pro tips" I've given you. Maybe you'd prefer working with a practioner on an elimination diet to get to the bottom of which foods you may be sensitive to? If bloating is a continued problem for you please set an appointment to see your doctor or licensed health care provider.
I am so excited I have to rant. I arrived at the farmers market this evening and sent my son a text message saying "they have ramps". His reply was simply "RAMPS!" Even though he is only 13 years old he knows what a treasure ramps are.
Yes, it's that time of year again. We only get roughly 2 weeks every year. What are ramps you ask? Well, they are wild leeks but I know they are mother nature’s gift to the humankind. I cherish these oniony garlicky tasting gifts from GOD.
If you follow me on Facebook you know that the highlight of my week is going to the Cameron Park Farmer's Market that takes place every Friday from 4pm - 8 pm beginning early May and ending late October.
This week I stopped by one of my favorite vendors B & E's Trees. Bree Breckel the "B" in B & E's Trees sells beautiful bourbon aged maple syrup. Turns out growing along with all those syrup producing maple trees they have Ramps...lots and lots of them. This week Bree had several bunches with her. I couldn't resist taking a couple of pounds off of her hands.
My husband has been traveling on business and is going to completely miss this year’s ramp season. Being the awesome wife that I am, I will whip him some treats so he can enjoy them upon his return. I don't always love to cook so I am going to keep it simple. Sometimes when natural food is this good it is best left for simple preparations. I am thinking compound butter and ramp pesto. The butter is going to be a real treat on top of his home baked bread.
For dinner tonight I am going sauté the ramps in a bit of olive oil and finish them off with a pinch of salt. The ramps will be served along side fresh caught wild trout that I picked up at the People's Food Co-Op. I also scored baby purple potatoes.
Bottom line, if you have an opportunity to score some ramps where you live, I recommend you do it.
If you love ramps as much as I do and have a great recipe to preserve them into well after the season has ended, please e sure to share. I think we have a couple more days left of ramp season 2019.
During menopause many women tend to gain weight. While this isn't great it's pretty common and there are many reasons why.
There are two main reasons why women gain weight during menopause.
Reduced muscle mass. Muscle mass uses energy (aka burns calories) so when we have less of it the body burns less evergy overall, leading to weight gain. Unfortunately, this weight gain may appear as increased belly fat.
During menopause there is an incrase in the hunger hormone "ghrelin". With an increase in this hormone comes the tendency to feel hungrier. Menopause also decreases the "satiety" hormone called leptin that helps us feel full after eating which can lead to overeating.
More ghrelin and less leptin = increased hunger and a decreased feeling of fullness...NOW THAT'S A PROBLEM!
So, you are probably wondering...What does all this have to do with breakfast?
Eating the right type of breakfast has been shown to help us maintain muscle mass, balance levels of leptin and ghrelin, which aids in weight loss and/or helps us maintain that lower weight.
What make a food "optimal" for breakfast in menopause?
Foods that are loaded with nutrients, fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer. Let's take a look at these "optimal" foods.
Make sure to get protein in the mornings. Eating protein is critical for women in menopause. It helps to slightly increase metabolism and give your muscles the amino acids they need to stay strong. Protein also helps keep you feeling fuller longer which is great to try to offset that hunger hormone known as "ghrelin".
Which foods are good choices and high in protein?
Check out the my breakfast recipe VEGETABLE EGG MUFFINS Give it a try tomorrow morning. It contains eggs which some people may say is the "perfect protein". You can even make these ahead of time to save time in prepping breakfast during those busy mornings.
Fiber is very important to help stabilize your blood sugars to reduce cravings. The reason this is particularly important in menopause is because the risk of diabetes and heart disease increases afer menopause due to an accumulation of that annoying visceral fat in the abdomen. (Yes, I'm talking about the infamous "belly fat"!).
Also, did you know that certain fibers you eat actually feed your frindly gut microbes? Those microbes help you digest food and even make certain nutrients for you!
Which foods are high in fiber? Here are a few that you can add to y ou diet and increase to increase fiber intake:
Plus you get some bonus points if you include some of your daily fiber intake from flax. Flax not only contains fiber but it is also a source of protein and great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Flax has been shown to help reduce both hot flashes and the risk of breast cancer. So...WIN-WIN!
So bottom line, the most "optimal" foods for breakfast during menopause are ones that give you both proteain and fiber.
Here is a recipe that will help you get both that much needed protein and fiber. Check out my VEGETABLE EGG MUFFINS.
We all have some level of stress, right?
It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).
Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.
Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.
It's the chronic stress that's a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health.
Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.
Let's dive into the "stress mess."
Mess #1 - Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes
Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.
Stress increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood "thickness," as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.
Mess #2 - Immunity
Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?
Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.
Mess #3 - "Leaky Gut."
Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.
The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.
Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though. Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!
Mess #4 - Sleep Disruption
Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.
And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.
More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health. Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favours.
Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.
Put less pressure on yourself?
Ask for help?
Delegate to someone else?
Finally, make that decision?
No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:
Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.
Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.
There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.
You can ditch that stress mess!
Well...yes, they do really work. The fact is, not only has it worked for me personally, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation.
Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.”
“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body.
Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”
Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post.
The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent!
So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too.
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health.
I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too.
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood.
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms.
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression.
While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods.
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices).
How can this be?
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating.
Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful eating." Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you're eating, like what's on TV or your smartphone.
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk.
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight.
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes.
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care.
The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help.
Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more.
Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it?
Let me know in the comments below.
Think living a long and healthy life well into your nineties or even one hundred years old is only for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again.
Lifestyle factors, i.e. the things you do every day over the long-term – can add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan.
Look no further than the people of Blue Zones for proof of how powerful everyday habits are when it comes to staying healthy for the long haul.
The Blue Zones are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations.
They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California, and where a large number of Seventh Day Adventists reside.
Because these communities are home to the greatest number of people who live healthfully into their nineties and even hundreds, researchers have studied them to determine just how they age so healthfully.
Do you have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity? Nope! You can adopt some of the well-studied lifestyle traits of these folks to promote health and longevity right where you are.
Blue Zone residents eat a mostly plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Animal foods aren’t avoided – they eat smaller portions of meat a handful of times per month.
You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but it’s important to eat a variety of plant foods daily - they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and protect you from chronic disease, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
A simple rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. Yep, every meal!
Eat heart healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, and fish.
Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.
Eating enough fat also keeps you feeling fuller longer, which can help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain - bonus!
Avoid the clean plate club. Eating slowly chewing your food thoroughly gives your brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat.
Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness, which again, can help prevent weight gain.
Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time.
Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality. Be sure to look for opportunities to add movement into your regular routines.
You might try:
The world’s longest living people live active lives that include daily physical activities, like gardening, walking, and manual tasks.
The power of essential oils (EO’s) is real - have YOU made them part of your everyday life yet?
We’re going to lay out all of the basics so you can get on this one bandwagon that’s here for the long haul. And when you learn about the history of EO’s, you’ll know that they’re not even new. In fact, EO’s have been around for centuries!
Some essential oils come from seeds while many others are extracted from the leaves of the plant. Because EO’s are so highly concentrated, it takes a tremendous amount of plant to produce just one ounce of oil.
Due to this level of concentration, essential oils are incredibly powerful, so a little bit goes a long way!
Essential oils are basically the natural aromatic compounds extracted from seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Diffusion is one of the most popular ways to enjoy the aromatic benefits of essential oils.
This refers to a lipid- or fat-based liquid used to dilute EO’s. Olive, coconut, almond, jojoba and argan oils are the most common ones.
The process of extracting essential oil from plant material.
Steam distillation is the most common distillation method that uses low-heat pressurized steam to circulate through plant parts and extract oils.
Cold press distillation uses a mechanical press to squeeze essential oils from plant parts, and is the most commonly used method for obtaining citrus oils - a classic ingredient in DIY household cleaning products. This is to preserve their aromatic bounty!
Despite being suddenly catapulted into popularity, essential oils are not a new thing.
The ancient Egyptians were among the first to use aromatic essential oils for daily life, and pure EO’s were prized and saved for priests and royals. Other ancient societies, such as those in China, Greece and Rome used EO’s for aromatherapy, illness, and personal hygiene.
Are you a newbie to EO’s?
Here are 4 of the most popular ones to try first, and a few suggested uses. They make great staples in your medicine cabinet too!
TEA TREE OIL: Soothing, cleansing & healing
Combine 1–2 drops with your preferred facial cleanser (or moisturizer) for added cleansing properties
Mix 1-2 drops with pure aloe vera gel and apply to skin after shaving
Use diluted with water and/or vinegar as a surface cleaner - see recipe!
Add a few drops to shampoo and massage into the scalp - use in your conditioner too
Add a drop to toothpaste or swish with water for a quick and easy mouth rinse - but do not swallow or ingest
LAVENDER: Soothing & calming
Add a few drops to your pillow or bottoms of your feet for a restful night’s sleep - or use in a diffuser near your bed
Apply topically to help heal pimples, skin inflammation and irritation - be sure to test a drop on your skin to test for sensitivity; dilution may be required
Soak away stress! Add a few drops to a warm bath
LEMON: Cleansing, revitalizing & uplifting
Use to remove gum, glue, or any other sticky residues from surfaces
Use in a diffuser to purify the air, creating an uplifting & refreshing aroma
Add to a spray bottle full of water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces - recipe!
PEPPERMINT: Cooling & energizing
Apply a few drops directly to the skin of the back of your neck to cool off
For a refreshing aroma, diffuse at night by your bedside
Feeling tense? Rub on head and neck for a soothing, calming sensation
Add to shampoo or conditioner for a stimulating & invigorating scalp massage
Use as a natural bug repellent
Other popular ones for beginners are essentials oils of frankincense, clove, eucalyptus, clary sage, sweet orange, grapefruit, and rosemary.
Essential oils can be used topically, which means you can apply them directly on the skin, mix them with carrier oils or mix with other personal care products.
DILUTE — A category of essential oils that should be mixed with a carrier oil. The carrier oil will help transport the EO’s onto the skin.
NEAT — A category of essential oils that can be applied topically without dilution because of a chemistry that is considered mild.
INGESTION— While there may be indication for internal ingestion of EO’s for therapeutic purposes, many of the ailments that we experience do not need such a heavy dose internally and may be more effectively addressed through inhalation (diffusers, personal inhalers, etc.) or topical application (salves, massage oils, baths, etc.).
Be sure to consult a professional aromatherapist before ingesting essential oils. Always make informed choices and do your own research when choosing to use EO’s.
Essential oils are incredibly powerful and serve many purposes for the home, and in daily health routines. With some basic knowledge, and having a few high-quality oils on hand, you can DIY dozens of homemade products, and enjoy many therapeutic benefits.
Natural All-Purpose Household Cleaner
½ cup plain white vinegar
2 Tb baking soda
10-15 drops tea tree, lavender, lemon, eucalyptus &/or rosemary essential oil (or any combo of these) for their disinfectant properties
In a clean 12-ounce spray bottle (glass is best), mix the vinegar, essential oils and a splash of water before adding baking soda *important*.
Then fill to top of bottle with water, and gently shake to mix ingredients. Then spray area, wipe with a clean cloth, and allow it to dry. Dirty areas are now clean and disinfected!