Saturday, April 5, 2014

Holistic Health Happiness

Remember a few posts back, I introduced to you Heather Schiller, my Pilates instructor and holistic educator and I told you that I would be writing a blog post dedicated to all the fun information she provided us, well, today is the day!

While I won't go over everything (you don't have enough time to sit and read it all, plus it's a good excuse to visit Heather for more info!) I will touch on the few things that definitely stood out for me!

Every week of Pilates was dedicated to helping combat and learn about 1 area of improvement so I have separated them here for you, so you can learn about each thing as we did.


"Inflammation is an immune response to injury, toxins, allergy or infection.  It surfaces as redness, pain, heat, and swelling in the affected area."  We have all seen and felt inflammation when we experience a bruise, cut, or sprain, but we can also experience inflammation in our gut, which is the most problematic place to experience it.

"More than 70% of our immune system cells are found in our gut, so what we eat largely contributes to how our immune system responds."  The unfortunate thing about this is that every body is different and therefore what affects one person maybe a wonder to another.  This is why it is important to stay from diets that focus on ALL people because no 2 people are the same.  Work with a naturopath, nutritionist, dietician, holistic health coach, etc. to go through tests and find out what is hurting and helping you in terms of food and use that knowledge to create your own "diet."

There are 6 main causes of inflammation:
1. toxicity
4.nutritional deficiency or excess
6.emotional trauma (mental stress)

Foods that elevate our blood sugar contribute to inflammation, such as processed foods, refined sugars, starches, refined white flour, fast food, etc.  Interesting items that can contribute to inflammation are vegetables in the nightshade family like eggplants, peppers, tobacco and tomatoes.  These foods have alkaloids that can affect nerve-muscle function, digestion, and joint flexibility.

So, since a lot of these things happen to us without our knowledge or ability to prevent them, we need to take precautions to help our bodies' immune system work at its best.  We can do that by consuming anti-inflammatory foods!  This includes fresh vegetables and fruits, green tea, healthy oils, Omega-3 fatty acids, meat, nuts, seeds, beans, etc.  By consuming a diet rich in fresh and organically rich foods, we can help heal the digestive lining and prevent other forms of inflammation throughout the body.


A lot of people are unaware as to what oxidative stress is and the best example I can give is when you cut an apple in half.  If you dribble lemon juice (high with antioxidant vitamin C) on one half and not on the other and let the 2 halves sit out in the air, you will notice that the one half will turn brown (without the lemon juice) while the other one stays fresher longer (with the lemon juice).

 (The one on the right shows more signs of aging as a result of being exposed to the air where as the left apple has been preserved a bit longer with the antioxidant properties of the lemon juice :D)

Oxidative stress is something that is going to happen to us regardless of whether we want it to or's called aging.  For most of us, however, we help this process along by subjecting ourselves to high amounts of stress (!!), too much sunlight, process foods, pollution, excess smoke, alcohol, and drugs(prescription included).  Our energy lessens, our skin becomes wrinkly, our posture is hunched, and more and more healthy complications start adding up. 
(This could be you ^^) image by Sandy Powers

How do we combat this?  It's not by slathering tons of anti-aging lotions or getting a daily shot of botox.  I hate to tell you, it's what we all know to be true: eat your vegetables and fruit!  Foods in high doses of antioxidants will help to provide clear eyes, strong gums and teeth, healthy muscles, tissues, and organs and provide a greater energy.

Well, what foods are high in antioxidants?  Essentially all fruits and vegetables provide us with these in their own way.  The green fruits and vegetables help protect against cancer, improve eyesight, and help reduce birth defects.  The yellow/orange fruits and vegetables give us Vitamin A which maintain healthy mucous membranes and healthy eyes, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, and improve immune system function.  The red fruits and vegetables may help reduce risk of several types of cancer, especially prostrate cancer.  They also protect cells from damage.  Purple and blue fruits protect cells from damage and improve the health of blood vessels, skin and the brain in addition to having been link to improved memory function and healthy aging.  White fruits and vegetables may help lower cholesterol and blood pressure and may help reduce risk of stomach cancer and heart disease.


This information was provided to us by Heather, but from an article in Specific Carbohydrate diet Lifestyle by Jordan Reasoner.

Everything that happens to our gut impacts us.  The gut is responsible for almost everything that happens in our body.  If it's sick, we are sick.  If it hurts, we hurt.  Heather talked to us about Leaky Gut Syndrome and the best way to explain it is that the intestinal lining has become more porous, with more holes developing and the screening out process our intestines are responsible for will no longer function properly leaving a lot of really nasty stuff in our bodies. 

"The intestinal lining is the first mechanism of defense for our immune system.  The outer layers of intestinal cells (epithelial) are connected by structures called tight junctions.....During normal digestion process the tight junctions stay closed, forcing all molecules to effectively be screened and only pass into the blood stream through the mucosa cells."

The body then reacts to these "foreign" bodies in the blood and fights like crazy.  the liver gets called into action and tries to screen out particles that your intestinal lining was supposed to take care of.  More often than not, the liver cannot keep up with the constant flow of waste into the blood and all the toxins and other pathogens start to accumulate in the body.  Now, the immune system kicks in and goes essentially ape-shit to get the bad things out of the body.  This causes inflammation.  Because your body takes care of the big problems first, it is preoccupied with the inflammation and ignores the smaller fights like filtering out the blood, calming the inflamed areas of the body, fighting bacteria, etc. and this is where you find yourself fighting chronic fatigue, MS, IBS, Colitis, etc.  It is suggested that if you are having any food sensitivities to more than a dozen foods, you likely have a leaky gut.  

"When you have a Leaky Gut condition, the damaged microvilli along the intestinal lining cannot manufacture the digestive enzymes they need to break down the food for proper digestion.  The resulting condition allows food molecules to flow into the bloodstream that have not been completely broken down into the nutrients your body needs."

Causes of Leaky Gut:

Chronic Stress
Lack of Zinc

To get properly diagnosed definitely see your naturopath, holistic health coach, or family doctor and then discuss treatments with them, but here are a few that are standardly the route to take to fix Leaky gut Syndrome:

~diet restriction:  eliminating sugars, starches, grains and any other foods alleviate the inflammation and starves out the yeast overgrowth.  Check out the SCD Diet for more information.

~nutritional supplementing: supplementing with a good multi-vitamin, large amounts of Vitamin D and Zinc will help help the intestinal lining to return to normal.

~probiotics: The diet gets rid of the bad bacteria and you need a constant feed of good bacteria so Acidophilus is a must.

~digestive enzymes: These help to properly break down the foods we eat.

To find out more about Leaky Gut Syndrome in more detail, head here.

It was during this discussion that Heather introduced us to Kefir, which is an acquired taste but insurmountable in health properties.  You can buy Kefir and Kombucha from your local organic store and I bought a bottle of Kombucha from Organza to try.  It was carbonated and "neat" tasting.
 (image taken from:


10 ways to increase energy:

1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine ~ it dehydrates, causes blood sugar to go up and down and makes mood swings more frequent.
2. Drink water ~ before you go to sugar or caffeine, have water and wait to see what happens
3. Eat dark, leafy green vegetables ~ green is associated with spring, the time of renewal and refreshing and vital energy.
4. Use gentle sweets ~ avoid sugar and chemical artificial sweeteners and opt for maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave nectar and stevia or use sweet vegetables like yams, carrots, and beets.
5. Get physical activity ~ go for a walk. Get some oxygen flowing.
6. Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation ~ when you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy.
7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat ~ eating too much meat can lead to low energy but so can too little so just experiment.
8. Take time for yourself ~ find activities that restore your energy and enjoy alone time. ( I took up painting!)
9. Get in touch with your spirituality ~ whatever you believe and however you connect, do it.
10. Get rid of relationships that drain you ~ see if you can transform those relationships by communicating and setting boundaries.  And if nothing works, end the relationship.

It was during this week that Heather encouraged us to try a new leafy green in our meals, like kale, collard, or otherwise.  However, during the time, I neglected to follow through, however now that I am juicing every day it will be a better way to do it!  I use all sorts of leafy greens in my morning juice and have even begun to include spirulina into my drink.  Spirulina sounds disgusting, smells like a fish tank, but has amazing health benefits.  When mixed in my juice I cannot even taste it! 

 It has been shown to be one of the most powerful alkaline foods to take in, as well it is fantastic for cleansing the liver, all of the good things.  It is pretty spendy (the bag in the picture cost me about $24), but I only use about a tsp to a tbsp in each drink (depending on how courageous I am feeling).  I posted the recipe for my favorite green drink on my Facebook page, but I will include it here for those of you who read this, but are not on my Facebook page!

In addition to juicing to get in my fruits and vegetables, I have also received my first supply of Juice+ and we will see how that goes!  I have been diligent for the last 2 days haha, so let's hope that continues, but it's something that I understand the science of, and therefore am passionate about!  For those of you that hate swallowing pills, they even have gummy versions, but I would eat them all at once, so that was a no go for me.

My last bit of news is that I participated in a TRX class at Pilates Manitoba 2 days ago and it was probably one of the hardest workouts I have ever done in my entire life.  They are circuits and you are using essentially your entire body mass.  I was fine at all them except the abs ones....I was actually close to throwing up, that's how awesome it was. Anyhow, I think I will go back and do it next week because it totally kicked my ass.  Also, I felt ALL my muscles yesterday as a result, so that is good hahaha!

Have a great weekend and eat healthy, drink lots of water, get lots of rest, and be happy!! <3

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