Starches That Help You Lose Weight

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When I first starting learning about carbohydrates, I knew what I knew by what I would read in the mainstream health info. 

Said in my best newscaster voice…

Carbs are bad, unless they are whole grain.

Carbs make you fat. Go Keto.

Carbs give you energy, but don’t eat too many.

Make sure to count your carbs and cut out the sugar.

Carbs, aka carbohydrates or starches, get such a bad reputation. They have been labeled as bad, unless they have fiber, then they might be good. But is this the truth?

Let’s use the term starches (you will understand in a minute) to make this easier…

The reality is that starches are neither good nor bad. Some starches are more life giving and others are more life depleting. You probably have heard the basics of what are better than others, but today, I am going to talk about a specific kind of starch that can help you lose weight and get your blood sugar under control. 

These starches are quite life-giving!

Why do starches get such a bad reputation? When starches are digested they typically break down into glucose. When that happens, that spikes your blood glucose and causes the plethora of issues that go hand in hand with imbalanced blood sugar. 

Let’s dive deeper and get a tad sciency…

What Is Resistant Starch? 

Resistant starch is a kind of starch that is not digested in the small intestine, hence its name. It is a carbohydrate that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine. As it ferments, it becomes a yummy food for the good bacteria in the gut, helping to increase the health of your gut. This yummy food is called a prebiotic. 

There are many kind of prebiotics such as inulin from Jerusalem artichokes and chicory. Or soluble fiber from psyllium husks. Or even vegetables such as green bananas (the more ripe they become, the more they turn into a regular starch) and plantains and potatoes. Keep reading for specific foods high in resistant starch and how to use them…

Resistant starch is super helpful in controlling your blood glucose (blood sugar) and helping you to lose weight. This happens because the good bacteria in your gut processes it, creating beneficial molecules that promote balanced blood sugar and healthy gut flora. In layman’s terms? Resistant starch resists digestion and does not spike your insulin or your blood glucose. 

Yay, for resistant starch!

It goes even further than improving your gut health; Resistant starch increases your feeling of being full, helps to relieve constipation, decreases cholesterol, and lowers your risk of colon cancer. 

Food Sources and How To Add More Resistant Starch

The amount of resistant starch changes with heat. Cooking a starch, like potatoes or rice, and then cooling it off and not reheating it, transforms that starch into a resistant starch. For example, cooked rice that has been cooled is higher in resistant starch than rice that was cooked and not cooled. That is one way. Another kind of resistant starch, like those found in oats, green bananas, and plantains lose some of their power when cooked. 

Choose foods such as:

  • Whole grains such as oats
  • Beans, peas, and lentils
  • Plantains and green bananas
  • Cooked and cooled rice and potatoes
  • Other prebiotic foods such as chicory, dandelion leaves, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks

Here are 5 easy ways to incorporate resistant starch into your diet:

  1. Cool cooked beans and legumes for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator to increase the level of resistant starch. Add them to salads, soups, or as a taco topping. You can also use canned whole beans or refried beans.
  2. Try making overnight oats by soaking them in yogurt, almond milk or another non-dairy milk, or milk.
  3. Cook rice, potatoes, and beans a day in advance and cool in the refrigerator overnight. It’s ok to reheat the starch before eating. Reheating doesn’t decrease the amount of resistant starch. It’s the initial cooling process that is important. 
  4. Add 1-2 tablespoons of powered potato starch to your yogurt or smoothie
  5. Eat more prebiotic foods as mentioned above by adding them to salads or in soups. Try eating them daily if you can. 

Just remember, when increasing your fiber intake, especially resistant starch, start slowly. Resistant starch can change the bugs in your gut and cause gas, known as the die-off affect. As the good bugs come in, they have a little war with the bad bugs and this can cause gas and bloating. As your gut adjusts to this, so will you and that should occur much less.  Remember all types of fiber have health benefits so eat a variety of fiber-containing foods.

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How To Get Rid Of Heartburn Without Antacids

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The burn.

It is an unmistakable sensation that consumes your entire focus. As it slowly climbs up your throat, the burn begins to intensify and every swallow – every moment – feels on fire.

You eat more cool foods. Doesn’t work.

You drink more water. Doesn’t totally work.

You take antacids. Ahhh, relief, but only for a bit until is comes back full force.

Heart burn. GERD. Acid Reflux. However you name it, it is just not comfortable.

And, you may be thinking that it will never go away and this is something you are destined to relive over and over – every burning moment – asking yourself, ” Is there any way I can get rid of the burn completely?”

There most certainly is! But first, you need to understand what is actually going on…

What Causes Heartburn

Conventional wisdom has kind of misled you. You probably have been told or read somewhere that if you experience reflux or heartburn it is because you have too much stomach acid (also known as Hydrochloric Acid or HCL). This is actually not true. For proper digestion and gut health, your stomach needs to have the stomach acid in order for it to regulate symptoms such as acid reflux, IBS, leaky gut, and other gastrointestinal problems. And that stomach acid should be within a pH range of 1.5-3.0 — super acidic. If your stomach acid raises above a 3.0 pH, you can have some real problems!

Let me put on my practitioner hat for just a moment (this is super important to know!)…

HCL is essential as a first line of defense in gut health – it defends your body against pathogens, bacteria, parasites and it helps to properly digest your food.

When your body is relaxed, HCL is released into the stomach, breaking down the fats and the carbohydrates and the proteins of your food. This helps your food’s nutrients be absorbed. But it does more than that…

When the food mixes with the stomach acid and enzymes and other digestive secretions, it will reach that optimal range of pH (1.5-3.0), allowing the foods to move into the small intestine to continue on it’s digestive journey.

Problems pop up when there isn’t enough stomach acid. The pyloric sphincter – the valve that releases so the food can move into the small intestine – doesn’t want to open. This leads to food just hanging out in the stomach way longer than it should. Eventually, it sends the food back up the other way and, since it was just in a bath of stomach acid, it can burn the esophagus. This is the burning sensation you are feeling.

Heartburn is actually caused by too little stomach acid!

Common issues of low stomach acid look like:

  • Bloating, belching, or gas immediately after eating
  • Indigestion
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Food sensitivities or allergies
  • Seasonal allergies
  • Nutrient deficiencies such as iron (anemia)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Immune weaknesses
  • Weak or cracking nails
  • Acne
  • Dry skin or eczema
  • Chronic yeast infections

And, of course, heartburn/acid reflux! 

You may be asking, can I just take an antacid and fix the problem? They help in the short-term, but  in the long-term they are not helping the root cause — your digestion. Acid-blockers, acid suppressors (i.e., Tums), and PPIs (proton pump inhibitors) work in the short-term because they lower the acidity in your stomach and neutralize the acidity in your esophagus, so that when the food starts to come back up, the burn is gone or lessened. Now, your already low stomach acid is compromised even more and your symptoms are only masked, rather than fixed.  As Shaggy on Scooby-Doo would say, “Zoinks!”

What Causes Low Stomach Acid?

Life, my friends. Living life in our modern world makes it super easy to lower your stomach acid and create some real digestive distress! Some of the most common reasons are:

  • Chronic stress
  • Processed food, such as sugar, wheat, dairy, and refined carbohydrates
  • Regular use of NSAIDS (such as Ibuprofen)
  • Alcohol 
  • Mineral deficiencies
  • Environmental toxins, such as pesticides and chemicals in beauty supplies
  • Stressed thyroid and adrenal glands

But don’t lose hope — you CAN get rid of that heartburn. Here are a few of my favorite ways to calm the burn and start feeling chilled out again:

  1. Slow down your eating AND chew your food. This is probably the very first rule of thumb! Did you know that your digestion actually starts in the brain? It does! And, if you are eating in a fast, stressed state, then the proper enzymes and the correct amount of stomach acid are not going to be released. Bringing yourself into a parasympathetic state (calm and relaxed) will allow your body’s natural digestive cues to begin and your stomach better able to release the food as described above.
  2. Eat whole, natural foods. Try avoiding a lot of processed foods and refined sugars. These foods will upset the pH of the stomach acid and place extra stress on the body. Remember, healthy digestion does not like to be in a stressful state!
  3. Get your stomach acid to a 1.5-3.0 pH. How do you do that? Take 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (ACV) with a little bit of water before each meal. This will help stimulate stomach acid production. You can also take 1 dropper full of digestive bitters (i.e., Urban Moonshine) before and after each meal. Bitters are very gentle and stimulate the stomach to produce the proper amount of stomach acid. If you’ve eaten your meal and you get heartburn, take a your bitters to reduce the heartburn. 
  4. Drink plenty of water. Water helps your organs to function properly and they help in the digestion process. Stay hydrated to offset heartburn in the first place!
  5. Eat more gut-nourishing foods. Try foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented foods/vegetables, bone broth, collagen, coconut oil, and grass-fed butter or ghee.
  6. Eat more gut-soothing foods. The gut also needs soothed and this can help with bloating and decreasing gas. Try foods such as ginger, fennel, peppermint, raw honey, or aloe vera. You can even use essential oils in those forms to get some benefits.

You are not destined to live in the burn forever, but when it does rear it’s ugly head, ask yourself WHY and allow it to be a way for you to dive deeper in healing the root cause!

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5 Ways To Instantly Lower Your Stress

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Life’s chaos are like ribbons.

They wave and dance in and out of your life but, when some of those ribbons brush up against your skin? WHAM! 

A sting of pain — Some of those ribbons have thorns and others may feel like sandpaper and others get wrapped around you, holding your down and not letting you walk forward in life.

Another word for life’s chaos? Stress.

As my friend, Katie, and I sat and talked, I brought up the word “harmony” and how harmony resonates with me when talking about stress, rather than referring to stress as balanced or managed. Katie’s face softened, a smile emerged, and a glimmer of resonance filled her face as she sunk into the concept of stress harmony. 

Here is the real deal — life is chaotic. It is never truly balanced and nor should it be. We need to have stress to fuel our drive to be great. 

We need to have stress to inspire us to create. 

We need to have stress to persevere. But the question is, where is your line in the sand? 

Stress only truly becomes toxic and burdensome when it is either heavy and negative or when it becomes chronic. When life hands us lemons and we decide to suck on the lemon instead of turning it into lemonade, that’s when harmony flies right out the window.

That’s when we feel overwhelmed and frustrated and out of control. 

We all know that too much chronic stress is unhealthy for us. Every Tom, Mary, and Joe tells us so. But on a deeper level, stress can set up us for future pains and aches and major health issues. Immediately, you might experience:

  • Low energy
  • Headaches
  • Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
  • Food cravings
  • Depression and other mood imbalances
  • Blood sugar imbalances

But, in the long term, you may experience:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Weakened immune system
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Skin irritation
  • Respiratory infections
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Insomnia
  • Burnout
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
  • Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Stress is not just physical or mental/emotional, there is so much more that can cause stress in your life. Stressful situations are energy and how you perceive those situations directly affect your own personal energy — good or bad.  The key to bringing it into harmony is to address it in real time — not just when you get a chance or when your schedule allows for it. It is easy to forget and push it aside, downplaying the effect that it has on you. This is the first step of letting it get out of control.

Here are 5 easy ways you can get back into harmony from a mind, body, and soul perspective:

  1. Get grounded. Grounding, aka Earthing, has gotten much attention. Research has shown that grounding neutralizes free radicals, improves sleep, decreases pain, decreases stress, improves inflammation, strengthens the immune system, just to name a few benefits. And it is easy to do — all you have to do is get your bare feet or hands in dirt or on a natural surface to reap the benefits. Getting grounded is essential to start healing your stress. Check out my blog on grounding to get all the details.
  2. Explore nature. Nature has a calming effect that can instantly decrease our stress levels. Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Whatever you call it — forest bathing, ecotherapy, mindfulness in nature, green time or the wilderness cure — humans evolved in the great outdoors, and your brain benefits from a journey back to nature. Take a bike ride around your neighborhood or check out local trails to go hiking. Simply sit out on your porch or in your yard. Or you can…
  3. Go for a walk. It is well known that moving the body improves your health, but being strategic in how you use exercise to manage your stress levels is key. When the body is stressed, it is already in a very heightened state. Engaging in exercise that is too aggressive or that will raise the stress levels even more (yes, exercise does place stress on the body) may not be what your body needs when trying to calm down. Going for a walk is a great way to move the body, loosen the muscles, increase feel-good endorphins to the brain, and give you thinking time to work through your stressful problems. Start with 15 minutes and increase it as you can.
  4. Practice gratitude. Being grateful and being stressed can not co-exist. They simply can not happen at the same time because they are on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum. When you are feeling stressed, take a moment to breathe and then practice gratitude for the things that are good in your life. Stress is all perspective and when you actively and consciously make an effort to change your perspective towards gratitude, you begin to break the chain of negative thinking, opening your thoughts and your brain to being able to figure out how to work through your stressful situation. Practicing gratitude is super easy! You can simply start saying out loud what you are grateful for and why or you can pull out your journal and write it down. Need more ideas of how to practice gratitude? Check out my infographic here. 
  5. Breathe and reframe. The breath is powerful. A shallow, tight breath increases the body’s stress and an open, deeper breath can instantly calm the body. Learning how to expand the breath to come from the entire torso rather than just the chest is a great tool to use in the moment of stress. How do you do it? Take 5-10 deep breaths allowing your torso to expand in all directions (like you are trying to create a barrel shape). Breath in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and exhale for 4 counts. But it doesn’t stop there. Since stress is about a person’s perspective on the situation, it is even more powerful to couple breathing and reframing the mindset in real time. I like doing this with power statements. For example, Perform the breath described above and immediately say a power statement such as “I am in control.” Repeat the process until you have completed all the breaths. You can use the same power statement or a different one, it really is about what you need in that moment. 

Learning how to take back control of your stress is possible. Living in a chaotic world does not have to be. Stress is all about perspective — when you can learn how to calm down your body and reframe your perspective, life starts to open up!

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5 Ways To Turn A Bloated, Gassy Belly Into A Flat Belly

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Family gatherings, friend’s celebrations, and company parties can be a blast. But they can also be a recipe for digestive disaster. With the abundance of delicious foods, sugary treats, and more dehydrating beverages consumed than water, your belly might be churning with a feeling of gassy horror.

As your pant’s grip tighter around your stomach, you unbutton the button and untuck your shirt. 

You think to yourself, “Why didn’t I wear that loose dress?”

Praying that no one sees your unbuttoned pants, you get up to try and walk off the bloated, gassy feeling. 

You get engaged in a delightful conversation, but all you can do is smile with discomfort as your stomach churns and a bubble of uncomfortable pressure forms. 

You just want it to go away but you realize that this happens so often. Not just at parties but in everyday life like after your favorite meals or while you are at work. 

Bloating and gas are two of the most common gastrointestinal symptoms. It is not totally understood as to why they occur but there are some factors that play a large role in how much they present themselves. According to a research article in the Journal Of Neurogastroenterology And Motility, it says:

“Bloating is usually associated with functional gastrointestinal disorders or organic diseases, but it may also appear alone. The pathophysiology of bloating remains ambiguous, although some evidences support the potential mechanisms, including gut hypersensitivity, impaired gas handling, altered gut microbiota, and abnormal abdominal-phrenic reflexes.”

Even though there seems to be a multitude of reasons that bloating occurs, a large part is related directly to our digestion and our gut health. Hippocrates, coined as the father of modern medicine, says, “All disease begins in the gut.” And, I would say that that includes bloating and gassiness.

out of order text on persons belly
Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Let It Rip

The reality is that we just want flat bellies. Let’s be real —the average person is not going around saying “Hey, that is not good for my gut health.” But, the average person is more likely to say that she wants to fit into her skinny jeans without having to button them while laying down. The average person is also more likely to say that unexpected explosions of gas is super embarrassing!

Here are 5 of my favorite tips to not only gain a flatter belly, but to also take care of your gut health and digestion:

Slow Down Your Eating 

In a world of never-ending to-do lists and obligations, it can feel like we are constantly rushing from one thing to the next. 

Often, meals are eaten in a hurry — while driving in your car, in 15 minutes before your next client walks through the door, while running the kids around to after school activities. The problem is that eating quickly usually means swallowing some air along with your food, which can contribute to that uncomfortable feeling in your stomach. It also means that you are mindless in your eating.

True digestion starts in the brain and when you are not connected to your food, all the processes required for proper digestion are not triggered. 

  • Put your fork down between bites.
  • Think about chewing each bite. Tune into what you are eating and taste the foods and the textures. Be involved in your eating.
  • Eat smaller meals if you don’t have time to eat more slowly.
  • Sip, don’t gulp water during your meal.

Eat Fermented Foods

A large part of gut health is the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut microbiome. Not only does a healthy gut microbiome help with digestion of your food, but it also helps with keeping a strong immune system and central nervous system. Research suggests your gut bacteria are tied to your probability of things like diabetes, obesity, depression, and colon cancer. 

Not only are fermented foods an excellent way to increase the healthy gut bacteria, but they increase the bioavailable of nutrients in your foods — meaning, your body can better absorb the nutrients from your foods. Another benefit? According to the NTA (Nutritional Therapy Association), fermented foods have also been shown to reduce phytic acid, an anti-nutrient that can wreck havoc on your gut health.

  • Eat a serving of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha, or any fermented veggies most days.
  • Get sneaky by putting them on salads or as a topping for your burger. 

Hydrate, Without The Carbonation

Drinking water is probably the last thing you want to do when you feel like your belly is about to explode. 

But, it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. With proper hydration, your body can better transport nutrients through your digestive tract. 

Ditch the sodas and other carbonated beverages. Not only can they be full of sugar, but they also will add gas to your system and increase bloating. 

  • If you need to dress up your bottle of water, add a few slices of lime or lemon or cucumbers. You can also add fresh fruit to mix it up.
  • Carry quick electrolyte and/or mineral packs to add to your water for flavor and to help your body better absorb the water. Try Trace Minerals “Power Pak” or Nuun brands.

Go For A Walk

Movement is important to beat the bloat for two main reasons: It reduces stress and it stimulates digestion. Get off the couch because feeling bloated and sluggish is no reason to skip your workout or moving your body. 

You can move gas quickly through your system with a little huffing and puffing.

  • If you suffer from slow digestion, a 15 minute walk after each meal would be a great way to improve digestion.
  • Turn on some loud music and dance the bloat away. 
  • Play tag with the kids.
  • Do some yoga or light activity if walking feels like too much for you.

Be Aware Of What You Eat 

This sounds so simple, but it is often quite overlooked.

You probably are already aware that sugar and a lot of fried foods can cause an upset, gassy stomach, but did you know that it goes beyond that? I like to believe that there are 3 main areas to be aware of:

  1. If you have any known or suspected food intolerances, that could trigger gassiness and bloating. It also can irritate the gut and cause further damage. 
  2. Decrease the amount of sugar you consume because sugar is directly related to inflammatory problems and digestive distress. If you just took down two scoops of rocky road ice cream and thought, “Ugh! Sugar gives me gas,” you may be on to something. Some people have trouble digesting certain sugars, like lactose and fructose, or have underlying digestive imbalances from Candida or SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth). If you’re in one of these groups, sugar can leave you with bloating and painful gas, even hours after eating it.
  3. Processed foods can cause much discomfort. Processed foods not only contain allergens for many, but they also often contain high levels of sodium and refined wheat and grain products. When your intake of excess sodium is too high, your body may start to retain water. This often happens because our bodies are trying to dilute salt to maintain a balance of electrolytes. Refined wheat and grain products are quite irritating for some people, worsening if you have an allergy or if your gut health is already not strong. 
  • Take a serving of digestive bitters right after a meal. One to try is Urban Moonshine.
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods as often as you can.
  • Consume 1 Tbsp of Apple Cider Vinegar to help normalize your stomach acid pH levels.
  • Decrease the amount of sugar you eat daily. Also, limit the amount of artificial sweeteners you consume.
  • Journal your triggers to see what might be causing you digestive distress.

As you can see, beating the bloat is not always about eliminating, rather incorporating foods and activities that will improve your mental and physical state.

Remember to love yourself first. Being self-critical can contribute to that little thing we call stress, which isn’t doing anyone any favors!

References: 

Seo, A & Kim, Nayoung & Oh, Dong. (2013). Abdominal Bloating: Pathophysiology and Treatment. Journal of neurogastroenterology and motility. 19. 433-453. 10.5056/jnm.2013.19.4.433. 

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