IS YOUR GUT MAKING YOU CRAZY?

We Welcome Guest Blogger and Friend Sarah Bingham founder of Fast Food Healing.

Sarah is a licensed nutrition consultant with a master’s degree and more than thirty-five years experience counseling and lecturing on all aspects of nutrition throughout the country. Her current focus is in family nutrition, helping parents recover their children from conditions like autism, ADD, ADHD, asthma and other learning/behavior issues. She is also a dynamic and passionate speaker who communicates with clarity, humor and inspiration the simplicity of achieving wellness.

Sarah works as the Director of Nutritional Programs for Valle Counseling in Tampa, FL. She is a certified GAPS (Gut and Psychology/Physiology Syndrome) practitioner (see www.gaps.me). Sarah is the founder of Fast Food Healing LLC, a personalized in-home nutrition counseling business. Sarah always addresses body, mind and spirit as they are all critical to a healthy body.

Following is an article Sarah shared with us.  Did you know that 80-90% of your neurotransmitters (chemicals that effect your mood and brain function) are created in your gut? Also, the seat of your immune system is in your gut. Hence, that old saying, “I’ve got a gut feeling” is quite accurate. Hence, what research is beginning to put together is if your mood, mind or behavior are off, you have a very good chance of having a gut that is off and a poor immune system.

What do I mean by “off”? Your gut is loaded (about 4 pounds) with good guy bacteria. This good guy bacteria keeps in check the potentially bad guy bacteria that is also present. All of these microbes have important functions, like creating B vitamins, neurotransmitters, and anti-cancer substances. When the good guys are winning, your mood and ability to think are in great shape. Your immune system is also in good shape. But, when the bad guys are winning, you could be suffering from any one of these conditions: Irritable bowel, reflux, ADD, ADHD, asthma, autism, bipolar disease, food allergies and intolerance, depression, dyslexia, autoimmune disease and more.

What causes your gut to become out of balance? Antibiotics, stress, the birth control pill, most prescription drugs and a diet high in processed foods. So, take a mother to be who has eaten a processed diet her whole life, has had a few courses of antibiotics and is now pregnant. Her gut “flora” or bacteria are more than likely out of balance. A baby’s gut is sterile until going through the birth canal. At this point, the baby swallows some of the mother’s vaginal fluid, which is reflective of her gut balance or imbalance. Thus, the baby’s gut is inoculated with either good guy bacteria or bad guy bacteria. And the cycle begins again.

Sometimes it’s easy to bring your gut back into balance using probiotics, lactic acid fermented foods and good whole foods and sometimes it takes a major effort to accomplish a rebalancing of the gut. When I look out at our society with lots of depression, rage, anxiety, immune dysfunction and irritable bowel, I think we all need a major revamping of our gut flora. As Hippocrates said back in 400 BC, “All disease begins in the gut.”

love your gut

Eat This Food Once a Week for a Better Memory and Healthier Brain

Fish and alzheimer's

Having a few more “senior moments” lately? Forgotten where your keys are a few too many times this month? Walk into a room and wonder why you came in? They happen to all of us, and we joke about them with our friends, but for those concerned about getting Alzheimer’s or dementia, these moments are no laughing matter. However, new studies on Alzheimer’s prevention are coming out with some interesting suggestions – one of which is to eat more fish.

UCLA resident radiologist, Dr. Cyrus Raji, lead research that found that people who eat fish regularly have bigger, stronger, healthier brains, which protects against Alzheimer’s and dementia.

How often do you need to eat fish to reap the benefits? Just once a week.

But there’s a catch to ordering the catch of the day: While any kind of fish is beneficial, the benefits tank when the fish is fried. Nix the fish sticks.

Cultures with more fish-heavy diets around the world, like the Japanese, have significantly fewer cases of Alzheimer’s disease. But it’s not just the fish intake, it’s the entire lifestyle. Alzheimer’s has been linked to obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes – which can all be controlled through diet and exercise.

Here’s one of my favorite fish recipes. You’ll be amazed at how delicious salmon is with a hint of vanilla!

Garam Masala-crusted salmon with mint-yogurt sauce

Ingredients: salmon fillets with skin on, 1 whole vanilla bean, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), garam masala, Greek yogurt, mint, fresh greens, figs (optional).

  1. In a pan, heat EVOO with 1/2″ fresh vanilla bean, infusing the oil over medium heat.
  2. Coat a salmon filet in garam masala liberally, and place it in the pan, flesh-side down, with the oil and vanilla.
  3. Sear the salmon, then flip and finish cooking skin-side down.
  4. Pro-tip: You know the salmon is perfect when it begins oozing out white all over.
  5. Mix a tablespoon of Greek yogurt with fresh torn mint.
  6. Plate the salmon over fresh greens (with quartered figs if they’re in season), and top with a dollop of yogurt sauce.

The Best Diet & Fitness Regimen for Happiness

Feeling out of sorts? Unfulfilled? Blasé? Bored? Depressed? Anxious? Frazzled? Sad?

Sure, you could take a pill for that and feel a little better – maybe – but I’ve got a better answer for you: Diet and exercise. Change your eating habits and your physical lifestyle, and you can completely change your outlook and your life! Mind and body work together to produce your emotions, and how you treat your body fuels everything that happens inside it. Don’t believe me? Try this for one week and report back:

Crunchy Chicken Tacos

Eating (and Drinking) for Happiness

Green tea is my coffee substitute of choice because, while caffeine can cause anxiety and jitteriness, green tea works as a stimulant and calms you down with an amino acid called L-theanine. One study showed that taking L-theanine before a test helped students stay calm.

Salmon, walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and flax seeds have some of the highest levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3’s help brain function, and as you know, your brain controls nearly everything. One study from Ohio State University found that students who increased their intake of Omega-3 fatty acids experienced a 20 percent reduction in anxiety.

Eggs, shellfish, tuna, and grass-fed lean beef are high in Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins. We need a wide range of B vitamins for our brains to function best, and when we’re not getting them, our brains can make us feel depressed, anxious, and irritable.

Avocados, legumes, bananas, fish and dark green leafy vegetables hare rich in vitamin B6, another B vitamin associated with improving mood and reducing anxiety and depression.

Yogurt and probiotics have been shown to reduce “behaviors associated with stress, anxiety and depression” in mice, according to a 2011 study published in Discover magazine.

For more tips on what to eat to improve your mood, click here! 

The thing about running quote

Exercising for Enthusiasm!

My favorite study reports that aerobic exercise is an effective treatment for many forms of depression. It’s not news – this study came out in 1999. Depressed adults who engaged in aerobic exercise actually improved as much as those on Zoloft. In 2006, another study was conducted that found that exercise led to a 30 percent rate of remission (which is as good, or better than, drugs).

You don’t have to take up one specific exercise – just pick one you enjoy. Jogging, swimming, long walks on the beach, hiking, tennis – anything that gets you moving!

For the best results, you need 3-5 workout sessions per week that last 45 to 60 minutes. Ideally, you should reach 50 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate.

SuperFood Breakfast Parfait

superfood parfait

Behold: The Breakfast of Champions! I’m serious! Whether you’ve got a tough day of work ahead of you, or you’re about to take final exams (or the LSAT), or you need a little extra fuel for your morning cardio workout, this quick and easy parfait has everything you need to rock your morning. Let’s take a close look at what’s in here –

While we love our Greek Yogurt (and what its pro-biotics do for our digestive systems), sometimes we make our parfaits with almond milk and hemp protein powder. Of course, you could do all three, but our vegan customers appreciate the flexibility of going without the dairy. Almond milk is packed with Vitamin E, protein and magnesium, and is derived from one of the healthiest nuts in the world, but is low in calories. For additional protein, one of my favorite additives is hemp protein powder because it contains all of the essential amino acids (which you can easily find in meat, but less easily with protein alternatives).

We’ve also included blackberries, rich in cancer-fighting, cell-renewing anti-oxidants, and walnuts. There are some foods that are so packed with health benefits, it’s better than taking a daily vitamin. Walnuts, in my opinion, are one of these true SuperFoods.

Walnuts have been linked to protecting against heart disease, strengthening the circulatory system, increasing sperm count in men trying to conceive, and – their age-old claim to fame – helping the brain function better with Omega-3s. Added bonus – walnuts have also been linked to helping people lose weight. In fact, this article calls it “the king of nuts,” because “A handful of walnuts contains almost twice as much antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other commonly consumed nut.”

Really, we could have packed the cup with walnuts and called it a day. Just kidding!

Combined, these superfoods give you the slow-burning energy you need to feel fantastic, at least until lunchtime.

Keep Your Memory Sharp the Mediterranean Way

Cold Spaguetti & Avocado salad
If I told you I had a pill that had no downside whatsoever and it helped reduce age related memory loss, would you take it? Guess what, it’s exercise! Open your door and walk 15 minutes in one direction and 15 minutes back.

You’ve probably heard of the Mediterranean diet and entertained visions of mounds of pasta drizzled in olive oil. Make that whole-grain pasta, and you’ve got yourself a deal. But the fresh fish, in-season produce, olive oil, wine, and yes, pasta, of the Mediterranean isn’t the whole story. Europeans walk. Everywhere.

It’s this balance of healthy whole foods (no Mediterranean mama would serve you out of a box or can) and exercise that is the real key to a healthy lifestyle – and long memory.

Let’s break down the diet first. Seafood and olive oil are everywhere and are both sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that help your brain function better. In Mediterranean cuisine, fresh green olive oil is often drizzled lightly over vine-ripened tomatoes from the morning market, with basil leaves picked minutes before from the terra cotta pot in the garden. The concentration is on eating whole fresh foods, and walking to and from that morning market!

  • Try grilling white fish lightly brushed with oil and served with a squeeze of lemon on top of fresh asparagus, or serve on top of zucchini “pasta” with cherry tomatoes and pine nuts.
  • Diets rich in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and chard also help memory function. Try Greek Spanikopita (cooked spinach wrapped in phyllo) or Turkish Cacik – a spinach yogurt dip with garlic, lemon juice, dill, parsley, mint and EVOO.
  • And let’s not forget coffee. Greek coffee, Italian espresso, or French café latte – caffeine has been shown to slow memory loss (black tea works just as well). Unfiltered coffee can raise your HDL cholesterol though, so if that is a concern, stay away from espresso and French Press methods. Check with your doctor before adding caffeine to your diet if you have high blood pressure, IBS, or Crohn’s disease.

But most importantly – remember to walk every day. Remember that, and you’ll be amazed at how much more you remember for the rest of your life.

Six Good Mood Foods to Chase Away Everyday Crankiness

Good Mood Foods!

When we were little, we were cranky when we were tired, or hungry. And extra cranky if we were tired AND hungry! As adults, we may be better at masking our crankiness, but it’s still there. But, until workplaces add adult naptime into their policies, most of us will have to regulate our mood with food.

  • Eat every 4 to 5 hours to keep your blood sugar level, unless you have hypoglycemia. If you eat every 2 hours, you end up with too many calories from  grazing all day.
  • Limit foods that spike your blood sugar, like refined sugars, corn syrup, white flour, white rice & white pasta. In other words, walk past the snack machine and eat an apple! What you need to know is that the white stuff (white rice, bagels, many breakfast cereals, english muffins, etc) is that even though it doesn’t say it contains sugar, your body treats it just like sugar because it is metabolized very very quickly. Look for 100% whole grains, and if you see the words “enriched” or “bleached,” stay away! Better yet, eat whole foods. Fruit has sugar too, but in the form of complex carbs that metabolize slowly – you’ll feel satisfied longer and have an even flow of energy to burn.
  • Exercise does more than improve your mood by increasing endorphins – it’s been shown put people in a positive healthy mindset. Most people will follow through with good food choices after having exercised.
  • Combining high quality protein with a high quality carbohydrate will slow the absorption of the carb in your blood stream, keeping your blood sugar from spiking. Spiked blood sugar makes you hungrier, and causes energy-crash, but by eating carbs and protein (the best choice in your vending machine is the Snickers bar), you’ll maintain your energy and your sense of humor.

Best Choices for Feel-Good Food

  • Omelet and fresh fruit – This has that protein and carb balance for even energy.
  • Grilled chicken salad or salad with nuts – A power-packed lunch to keep you awake during afternoon meetings.
  • Beans and lentils – these are high in protein and good carbs, with the added benefit of fiber which slows carb absorption and controls blood sugar.
  • Non-fat Greek Yogurt – has twice the amount of protein as any other yogurt. Mix it with your favorite extracts – try cinnamon and honey, or fresh blueberries.
  • Oranges – are rich in folic acid, and filled with fiber and pectin. These help lower homocysteine levels which support mood and brain health.
  • Dark Chocolate or Cacao (70% or more) is sure to improve the mood of chocoholics!