Advocating for Change

If you have been following me on here for some time, you know that I am involved with Beautycounter, a company that sells safe skincare and cosmetic products.You’ve heard me talk about their products, why I love them, and allll the stuff. But the main reason I love this company goes beyond their products-it’s what Beautycounter stands for in their mission of getting safer products into the hands of everyone.

I know I’ve it mentioned it before, but they aren’t just a company trying to sell products to make money. They are a company who cares about your health and believes we all should be able to walk into any drugstore store and buy products that are safe. But the thing is, the FDA hardly regulates the skincare industry. Companies are allowed to put known harmful ingredients into our skincare. And you know what? The last major law to regulate the skincare industry was in 1938!

But having more safe skincare options is not going to happen unless we, as citizens, push for more regulations in the skincare industry to keep our families safe. And is just what Beautycounter does as part of their mission. They advocate for change in the industry for more health protective laws.

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Over two weeks ago on March 5, 100 Beautycounter consultants traveled to Washington, DC to meet with representatives about the need for more regulation around skincare laws. They held over 100 meetings on Capitol Hill advocating for change seeking support for The Personal Safety Skincare Act which may be up for a vote this year. This bill would promote more transparency in the skincare industry and give the FDA more authority over the safety of skincare. Although the bill is not perfect by any means, it is a step in the right direction towards safety regulations.

Beautycounter Headquarters also encouraged consultants all around the country to schedule meetings with their own local legislature. Once I heard about this opportunity, I knew that I had to take part. I wanted my voice to be heard about an issue that I feel so strongly about. My reason for joining Beautycounter was never to just sell some products I liked. My reason for joining Beautycounter was because I am passionate about health, and want to make a difference in people’s lives and empower them in their health journey.

Advocating for Change
A few Atlanta-area Beautycounter reps with Ashley Jenkins, the District Director for Congresswomen Karen Handel.

So last week I, along with eight other Atlanta-area Beautycounter consultants, met with the District Director at our congresswoman’s office. One of the consultants opened the meeting by talking about Beautycounter and our mission, and then we each had the opportunity to share our reason for joining the company. It was amazing to hear everyone’s story for why this company’s mission was so important. Most of our stories included health issues (including cancer and infertility!) that led us to take a second look at the ingredients in our conventional beauty products. We then found Beautycounter and knew that everyone deserved better products that would not compromise health. Another consultant closed the meeting by briefly discussing the Personal Safety Skincare Act and encouraging her support on this bill.

Advocating for Change
At Congresswomen Karen Handel’s office

I left feeling so inspired and empowered in this movement that Beautycounter has set forth that I have the privilege to be a part. Beautycounter really is more than a company. When you buy their products, you are not just spending money to get some fun beauty things (although they are!). You are putting your money towards a movement that is advocating for you and your families health. WE ALL DESERVE BETTER.

Wondering how to get involved or show your support?

-Text “BetterBeauty” to 52886 to urge congress to act to act on harmful chemicals in personal care products.

-Purchase the new Beautycounter Red Intense Lipstick. This lipstick was created in celebration of our 5th anniversary and embodies our mission to get safer products into the hands of everyone. Wear the lipstick and tag a photo on Instagram @beautycounter with #ThisTimeItsPersonal. Also, help spread the word about our movement by sharing Beautycounter Red with a friend. For a limited time, buy 2 and save $10.

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The new Beautycounter Red!

Reach out to me if you have any questions about the skincare act or Beautycounter!

Have a wonderful Thursday!

Guest Post: Self-Love & Self-Acceptance

Guest Post: Self-Love & Self-Acceptance

I am so excited to have one of my wonderful friends and a fellow Nutritional Therapy Practitioner share on the blog today! Stef and I met in our NTP training class in Ann Arbor and became friends right away! (We paired up to be each other’s practice clients, and I think we spent more time chatting about each other than talking about our food journals and Symptom Burden Graphs. Whoops!)

I feel like her and I are soul sisters-you know those friends who you relate to on so many levels, can be vulnerable with, and totally understand one another, with no judgement? Well, that’s this girl for me. Many times, I feel like we are the same person, with similar interests, passions and struggles. Stef’s post today is about her journey toward self-love and body acceptance, something that I think we can all relate to. Stef and I talk a lot about this, especially as we both seek to get our hormonal health in balance and the challenges that come with it. I love what Stef writes in this post, and I know you will too! Enjoy!

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I’m so excited to guest post on Simply Health. Jenn and I became fast friends in our Nutritional Therapy Practitioner program last year. She’s one of those women you feel like you’ve known forever– but it’s only been a year! We sat down next to each other in our first NTA workshop last January and have been great friends ever since. Jenn has been nice enough to let me share her little piece of the internet with me today and I’m so excited.

Since many of you do not know me, I thought I’d share a little bit about myself. Like Jenn, I am a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and am a banker by day, holistic nutritionist by night. I see clients and write for Whole Hog Nutrition, my blog, where I share meal ideas, tips to practice self-care and my personal trials and tribulations.

Self Love and Self Acceptance

Many of my posts these days are related to body acceptance. Over the past year, I have been working to heal myself from Hypothalamic Amenorrhea, or lack of menstrual cycle. Before starting this journey, I was competitive runner. I coached, trained and raced distances from 5Ks to marathons. Though I ‘looked’ the like picture of health on the outside, on the inside, I was struggling. I lost my period, sex drive and was perpetually fatigued. I struggled with sleep and dealt with bouts of anxiety and depression. My friends and family warned me that I was running too much, but I thought they didn’t understand. The truth is, I just wasn’t ready to hear it.

Self Love and Self Acceptance

Running was a part of my identity and wasn’t ready to give it up. Years later, after an eye-opening conversation with my boyfriend, Andrew, I was finally ready to address the elephant in the room; overtraining. I vowed to cut down on exercise after completing the 2017 Boston Marathon and get serious about my health.

After Boston, my lifestyle really changed. I went from running 35-50 miles a week, at the peak of marathon training to ‘jogging’ three to five miles when it feels right. I cut out racing and coaching. Gained almost 10 pounds and started prioritizing sleep. Though this journey has not been easy, it has been worth it.

Self Love and Self Acceptance

I’ve learned the importance of self-acceptance. That my body is the least interesting thing about me. My family and friends love me no matter what I look like. Sometimes it’s much easier to obsess about a training goal then address what’s really going on in your life. But let me tell you, these changes have not been easy.

The other day, I was talking to Andrew about my HA journey. I was struggling with areas of self-doubt and wanted to share it with him. This was a very vulnerable moment for me, admitting to someone I love that I do not always love myself. This conversation got me thinking.

You know the red car theory, right? The idea that we notice things that we have personal connection to. The connections can be based our experience, desires or interests. These connections shape what we see and observe. An example; when your best friend buys a new car, you see it everywhere.

My red car has been self-love and acceptance. This journey has shaped the way I see and observe the world around me. Like I mentioned in my rant a couple of weeks ago, diet culture is all around us. We are bombarded with messages, telling us we are not enough. Sometimes those messages sink in and trap us in a negative feedback loop. I’ve been there and done that. Instead of playing victim to diet culture, I’ve come up with a few simple tricks to stop it right in its tracks.

Self Love and Self Acceptance

CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET

Get rid of anything that does not bring you joy. For me, this meant go through my closet and getting rid of things that didn’t fit or I just wasn’t into. I either donated the items or sold them to a local consignment shop. The act of removing the stress of ill-fitting clothes from my life empowered me to own my body.

BUY NEW CLOTHES

Invest in yourself. Buy clothes that fit and make you feel good. I learned early on in this journey, if I am not comfortable in my clothes, I am not comfortable in my skin. I went out and replaced things slowly, starting with jeans. I treat myself to a new top, jacket or pair of work pants when needed but do my best not to go overboard. I like the idea of having a closet filled with things I love and wear.

PRACTICE SELF CARE

Self-care is a personal act. Do what works best for you. The main goal here is to show yourself some grace. This can be something that is simple as focusing on sleep. Relaxing. Reading. Bubble baths. Wine. Anything, really. If you can’t think of an act of self-care, spend some time reflecting on what makes you tick and do that.

REFRAME YOUR THOUGHTS

Start each morning with an empowering affirmation. Here are some examples:

Self Love and Self Acceptance

I am enough, I have enough. (my personal favorite)

I am worthy.

I am loved.

I love myself.

I am deserving of love and attention.

CLEAN UP YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS

Social media can be toxic. We’ve all heard the quote, the stories we tell ourselves reflect how we think, act and feel. I think social media has the same power. Follow people who make you feel good. Unfollow those who don’t. And if it’s all too much, take a hiatus. You won’t miss much, I promise.

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For more from Stef, make sure to check out her blog at www.wholehognutrition.com . 

Stomach Acid: Why you absolutely need it. And probably more of it.

Bloating, gas, acid reflux…we have all had it before, and it’s not exactly the most fun, or the most comfortable. It’s normal for these types of things to happen every once in a while. How fast we eat, our stress levels, and what foods we eat all play into these kinds of digestive discomforts. But if this is happening on a more regular basis, there could be another reason. Well, there could be lots of reasons, but one common reason that we often overlook is our lack of stomach acid.

Upon first thought, stomach acid may seem like a bad thing, but it is actually what you need in order to digest your food properly. And most of us (around 90% of Americans) actually produce too little stomach acid. Too little stomach acid can result from chronic stress, a poor diet, eating too fast, frequent use of acid blocking medications and other medication, or heavy alcohol use.

Stomach Acid: Why you absolutely need it. And probably more of it.
Image from Harvard Health

When stomach acid is chronically low, several things have the possibility of happening:

Acid Reflux/GERD/Heartburn
I know it seems counterintuitive to think that acid reflux or GERD comes from a lack of stomach acid since it seems like too much acid would be the issue, but hear me out. When you have insufficient stomach acid levels to digest food, the fats start to rancidify, proteins putrefy and carbs begin to ferment. And what happens when things ferment or start to go bad? Bubbles are produced, right? So that’s similar to what happens in your stomach. The partially digested food is just sitting in your stomach and fermenting, which leads to the reflux of food going back up your esophagus. The esophagus is not made to handle acid, which causes the burning feeling.

The reason acid-blocking medication or antacids seem to help acid reflux is because they either neutralize the acid or suppress acid production so that it doesn’t burn the esophagus. So yes, it may help to relieve your symptoms. But that’s just it. It will never fix the problem. Because if acid reflux is caused by lack of stomach acid, constantly suppressing or neutralizing that acid will only keep your stomach acid low. That means that you may never have the stomach acid levels needed to properly digest your food, absorb its nutrients, kill off unwanted bacteria and have an overall healthy GI system. Taking an antacid every once in a while won’t hurt, but taking them constantly could end up doing your body more harm than good.

Stomach Acid: Why you absolutely need it. And probably more of it.
Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Bacteria Overgrowth
Most bacteria cannot live very long in a highly acidic environment, so when we have a proper pH in the stomach (pH of 1.5-3.0), then the bacteria or parasites that enters our body through our food or environment can be killed quickly. If our stomach acid is too low, the microorganisms can survive in our stomach, causing stomach pain, diarrhea or constipation. If something more serious enters you like certain strains of E.Coli or Salmonella, and stomach acid is too low to kill these bad buys, you can experience wayyy more serious symptoms and illnesses. (This is one reason why I always take HCL with Pepsin capsules with me when I travel overseas since the food is usually more questionable.)

Nutritional Deficiencies
Too little stomach acid can also result in deficiencies in amino acids, iron, copper, zinc, calcium, vitamin B12 and folic acid. If food is not broken down as it should be from insufficient levels of stomach acid, your body cannot access and absorb the nutrients from the food you are eating.

Other chronic digestive issues
The pH of the stomach triggers a cascade of enzymes to be released throughout the GI tract to further break down our food. However, if the pH is too alkaline, then these enzymes will never be released and food will continue to travel through our digestive system only partially digested. Once in the small intestines, the large food particles can wear down the lining of the intestinal wall, eventually passing through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. Since these particles are larger than they should be, the body will not recognize them, eliciting an inappropriate immune response. This is what the term “Leaky Gut” or “Intestinal Permeability” refers too. Food “leaks” through the intestinal lining and into the bloodstream. This is a common reason for food sensitivities.

In addition, as these partially digested foods continue through the GI tract, they continue to ferment. In the large intestine, this can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria, disrupting the healthy bacteria that should be living and thriving there. This can then lead to IBS related symptoms or other chronic inflammatory issues.

Stomach Acid: Why you absolutely need it. And probably more of it.
Drinking lemon with water is a great way to stimulate the production of stomach acid.     Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

So what can be done?
If you think that you may have low stomach acid, there are a few natural ways that that can encourage acid production. The first one is to drink water with lemon, especially in the morning and before your meals. The enzymes in the lemon help to stimulate stomach acid production. The same goes for Apple Cider Vinegar and water…but in my opinion, lemon tastes wayyy better. Eating slowly and chewing your food thoroughly is also helpful. Your body needs to be in a relaxed state in order to digest food properly. Taking Hydrochloric Acid with Pepsin (<<I take this one) can also be helpful. I mentioned above that I always take them when I travel internationally, but I have also found to be helpful when I suspect my stomach acid is low or before a big protein-rich meal. If you go this route, start off slow with one capsule before meals or make sure to work with a practitioner. If you get a warming feeling in your stomach when taking HCL capsules, then that means you have taken to many and should back off. There are many online resources for HCL Challenge tests if you want more guided instruction, but like always, it’s best to work with a trusted practitioner.

Now I’m not saying that low stomach acid is the reason for all digestive issues. There are a lot of things that can play a part in the overall health of your GI tract. However, stomach acid is a huge player in digestion, and low levels affect way more than we typically think about or realize!

**Please note that this post is not intended to treat or diagnose, but only to provide information related to health and wellness.**

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I love the holidays, except this one thing.

Hi friends!

I know I’ve been MIA for awhile, but we have successfully moved! David has started his new job, and I’ve been focusing on getting the apartment set up, exploring the area (I LOVE that we are so close to Trader Joes and Aldi’s! Normal things make me way too excited right now!), and navigating through all the things that come with moving (i.e new licenses, new car tags, changing our address on EVERYTHING.) This week I finally feel like I have a little bit of time to sit down, work on some Beautycounter things, brainstorm for the blog, and just catch up on life, emails, etc.

I wanted to pop in here as we gear up for the holiday season! I love this time of year so much-decorating the Christmas tree, extra time with family and friends, Christmas music (Can you say N’Sync Christmas? It seriously never gets old…), and all of the holiday festivities…food included!

I love the holidays, except for this one thing.

But one thing I am not a fan of around this time of year is all the hype I see in the “health and wellness” sphere about how to stay “healthy” around the holidays by keeping off those holiday pounds. Articles are filled with advice on how to trick yourself into feeling full before the Christmas party, or the best workout to burn enough calories for those Christmas cookies, or even how to make healthy swaps in your traditional recipes. And to be honest, I used to love reading these types of articles. These articles are telling us how to be “healthy,” and that’s what we all want, right? However, as my view of real health has changed over the years, I now know that:

  1. Weight does not equal health.
  2. Weight has nothing to do with your self-worth.
  3. Mental health goes hand in hand with physical health.

I’m sure the authors of these kinds of articles mean well, but to me, these types of things provoke a feeling of guilt and shame for enjoying the festivities of this season.  It makes it seem like we should say “no” to the eggnog and cheese plates, and instead stick with the fruit and veggie trays with low-fat dip.

I love the holidays, except for this one thing.

I know you are probably confused and saying, “Huh? Is a holistic nutritionist actually telling me to eat cookies and pies and all of the things?!” And in a way, I am. Although, I still believe in nourishing your body with nutritious foods, I also believe in nourishing your mind with experiences and food that will make you happy. Eating a couple cookies or a large holiday meal does not make you unhealthy, any more than eating a green smoothie makes you healthy. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed with our family and friends, and that does not mean restricting ourselves from foods and experiences that may actually make us less stressed and happy.

And let’s be real, you are not going to be eating cookies and cake and pies for every meal over the next month. Your body is smarter than you think and will guide you back to eating protein and healthy fats and carbs again. And IF you gain a little bit of weight in the next couple of months, know that it was from truly enjoying the season with those that you love and experiencing the festivities around you, which is what really matters. (But see above…Weight does not equal self-worth, so the fear of gaining weight should not even matter. Easier said than done, I know. But still. Read it again…your weight has nothing to do with your self-worth.)

I love the holidays, except for this one thing.

The holiday season is a time to enjoy. Enjoy the people around you. Enjoy the festive food and cozy holiday drinks. Enjoy the true reason for the season. It is meant to be enjoyed. It is not meant to be feared. Instead of being consumed with what our culture tells us is healthy, fill your mind with gratitude for your many blessings. And that, my friends, is what will make you the healthiest this season.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

 

Tuesday Takeaway: For the Love of Veggies

I really do love my vegetables. My husband even told me that if I ate any more vegetables for dinner last night that he was taking me to the hospital. (Exaggerate much, honey?) But I know not everyone loves their veggies as much as me. Despite knowing how beneficial they are, you may struggle with figuring out how to get in the minimum 5 servings of vegetables recommended each day. Maybe you find them boring, or maybe you just don’t like the taste. But I don’t think eating vegetables should be some chore you force yourself to do. Getting enough vegetables can be simple and delicious at the same time…I promise!

Easy and delicious ways to eat more vegetables
Beautiful vegetables from the Farmer’s Market!

Here are a few simple ideas to help you increase your vegetable intake with minimal effort and a whole lot of taste:

  • Salads! Salads are a great way to get a variety (and a large amount!) of vegetables in your diet. I know many people find salads boring and unsatisfying, so the key to an exciting salad is the toppings! I love adding roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, some form of protein, nuts/seeds, and whatever other veggies I have on hand. It’s important to include enough protein and healthy fats to ensure that you are getting enough calories to leave you satiated and satisfied. I also typically make my own salad dressing of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Another tip: Buy a rotisserie chicken to use for your protein! That makes it so easy to prep salads for the week. Chop the veggies, pick the chicken and add to greens. Easy and done! Love this guide to making the perfect salad!
Easy and delicious ways to eat more vegetables
Massaged kale salad with avocado, beets, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I used olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sea salt as the dressing. Note: This was NOT my entire meal. I definitely need more food than that to fill me up!
  • Smoothies! Smoothies used to be about all the fruit, but these days, green smoothies are all the rage. Adding vegetables to your smoothie is a great way to get a heavy dose of nutrient dense vegetables! And I promise, you won’t even be able to taste the vegetables! I love adding frozen kale or spinach to my smoothies, and most recently, I’ve been adding frozen cauliflower. The cauliflower actually gives it a creamier texture and you would never even know it came from a vegetable! I also add frozen beets when I have them, and beets are great in supporting my gallbladder. When making a smoothie however, always make sure to add some form of protein and healthy fat. Otherwise, the sugar from the fruit and lack of protein and fat will spike your blood sugar and leave you feeling hungry a couple hours later. My favorite proteins to add are peanut butter/almond butter or a good quality protein powder. (I use this one!) I typically top my smoothies with raw nuts, coconut, chia seeds and flax seeds for some healthy fat. Avocado is also a great vegetable to blend into your smoothie!
Easy and delicious ways to eat more vegetables
All the good stuff! From bottom to top: unsweetend vanilla almond milk, protein powder, frozen kale/spinach, frozen cauliflower, beets, and some fruit thrown in there somewhere. Oh, and I always add lots and lots of cinnamon. So good.
Easy and delicious ways to eat more vegetables
End result! Topped with a few leftover blueberries, unsweetened coconut, chia seeds, raw almonds and pumpkin seeds
  • Easy swaps! Swap out a more processed food with a vegetable. Consider replacing your toast in the morning with homemade breakfast potatoes, or use a lettuce wrap for your burger instead of a regular bun. Ummm…or this? Amazing! I also love using cauliflower rice in the place of regular rice. Or spaghetti squash instead of pasta! There are endless options! I’m not saying carbs are bad here-it’s still important to the carbs your body needs, but I’m just saying there are several easy swaps you can make to increase your daily veggie intake.
  • Change up your cooking method! Vegetables don’t have to be boring (i.e raw or steamed)! Grilling is a perfect option for the summer, especially since my husband loves to grill, and I don’t have to do anything! We usually add olive oil and random spices/seasonings. I also love roasting vegetables in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes or so, depending on the vegetable. I coat the veggies in coconut oil and sea salt before roasting. Also consider sautéing greens like spinach or kale. Sautéing a whole bag of spinach ends up being like four bites, so you get a lot of nutrients in just a few bites. I love sautéing greens in olive oil, garlic, lemon zest/juice and sea salt.
Easy and delicious ways to eat more vegetables
Sautéing kale!
  • Add healthy fats to your vegetables. Contrary to popular belief, eating plain steamed vegetables is actually not that healthy. Yes, you will get some fiber eating that way, but in order for your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins of A, D, E and K, you must also eat fat. Grass-fed butter and coconut oil are delicious fats to add to your vegetables. Not only will they taste a heck of a lot better, but your body will be able to utilize those fat-soluble vitamins to your benefit.

I encourage you this week to focus on increasing your vegetable intake. Start slowing by adding in one more serving each day-increasing fiber too quickly can cause digestive distress. Over time, your body will adjust and use all those healthy nutrients to keep you healthy! Start small and try and idea above that peaks your interest. Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday Takeaway: All About Hydration

I know summer seems to be winding down, but temperatures are still at their peak. Even going for a short walk outside leaves me dripping in sweat and reaching for my water bottle! Whether you are sweating on a hot day or watching Netflix on the couch to stay out of the heat, our bodies still depend on a certain amount of water each day to function optimally.

The importance of drinking water
Photo by Levi XU on Unsplash

Water makes up 55-60% of our total body mass and works on a cellular level in the body. Cells make up your tissues, which make up your organs, which make up your organ systems, which then make up you. Therefore, when you are dehydrated, it can affect every part of you. I would even say that water is the most important nutrient in the body-you can go eight weeks without food but only a few days without water!

Roles of water in the body:

  • Improves oxygen delivery to cells
  • Transports nutrients
  • Cushions bones and joints
  • Absorbs shocks to organs
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Removes waste and toxins
  • Empowers the body’s natural healing process

 

So how much water does our body actually need? We all have probably heard that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day, but I don’t think we can set that standard for everyone. There is no way one statement can apply to all 7.5 billion people in this world. However, I do I believe there is an easy way to find a good estimate for your body.

Daily Water Consumption Formula

Minimum number of ounces per day= Body Weight (lbs) / 2

Ex. A person weighing 150 pounds should drink at least 75 ounces of water each day.

There is a small caveat to this though. If you drink any kind of diuretic beverage, like coffee, alcohol, teas, soda, etc., then your body will need more water each day. This is because diuretics promote urination, meaning your body is eliminating water AND electrolytes needed to keep your body hydrated.

This water consumption calculation still may seem high to you, but I think many of us are not drinking nearly enough water during the day. Headaches, fatigue, cravings, cramps, irritability, anxiety and depression can all be early signs of dehydration. More mature signs of dehydration include heartburn, joint pain, migraines, constipation, back pain and even colitis. It’s interesting to think that increasing your water intake can improve your headache or even lesson your cravings!

This week, I encourage you to notice how much water you are drinking and how you feel. Find ways to increase your water intake, even if it’s just an extra glass of water a day. Set a glass of water by your bed at night for you to drink first thing when you wake up in the morning. Buy a larger water bottle (this one is my favorite!!!) to have at your desk at work. Keep a glass of water near you when you are cooking dinner or relaxing on the couch.  Even consider replacing one of your morning cups of coffee with water!

The importance of drinking water
Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

If you don’t like drinking plain water, consider adding lemon or fruit to your water using a water bottle like this or a pitcher. My current favorite is strawberries and fresh mint and letting it sit overnight. Yum!

Water is vital to the proper functioning of our bodies, but we must drink it in order to reap the benefits!

Anyone else thirsty after reading this?!?

Tuesday Takeaway: Three Deep Breaths

I thought I would start a new series on Tuesdays called Tuesday Takeaway! Every Tuesday I will post a simple health tip with a brief explanation on the benefit it can have on your overall health. I challenge you to take this simple piece of information and put it into practice in your daily life…you never know what good may come from it!

Take three deep breaths before each meal.

How many of you rush through your meals, eat on the run or snack while standing over the counter? I know I’m guilty of this. We live in a fast-paced world where it’s easy to prioritize other people and things before ourselves. The problem is that in order for our food to properly digest, we must be in a parasympathetic, or relaxed, state because digestion actually begins in the brain. What happens in the brain when you start to eat will affect every part of your digestion, from consumption to elimination.

Believe it or not, taking three deep breaths before you eat could improve your digestion.
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

You know how you start to salivate when you smell something amazing cooking on the stove? Or when you sit down in front of a meal, hungry and ready to dig in? The brain triggers the salivary glands to begin producing saliva which contains an enzyme called salivary amylase. This enzyme starts the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth. So, when we rush to eat, we do not allow the brain to stimulate the production of this needed enzyme. Therefore, carbohydrates are not broken down as they should be, but still continue through the digestive tract, creating issues further down.

In the small intestine, pancreatic enzymes will be unable to complete the digestion of the starches, and over time, these undigested food particles will wear down the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, eliciting an inappropriate immune response. In the large intestines, bacteria will feed on these large, undigested food particles, resulting in gas, bloating, bowel irregularities or an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Eek!

Also, know that if you eat in a stressed state every once in a while, it’s okay. It happens to the best of us. But if you notice digestive discomfort the next time you rush through a meal, take it as a helpful reminder to slow down in the future. There is a lot more that goes into proper digestive function, but if three deep breaths before a meal could help, then why not give it a shot?

Let me know if you try out this week’s Tuesday Takeaway! Three deep breaths…you got this.