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Past hurts and traumas have very real effects on our health. Health disciplines across the board, from holistic healers, to acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine to modern mainstream medicine, all understand this connection.
Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Fat
Jon Gabriel, author of The Gabriel Method, who weighed 409 lbs at his heaviest, explains about emotional obesity. Emotional obesity is caused by traumatic events that cause our bodies to hold on to weight as a form of protection. Jon uses a number of techniques to overcome past trauma including visualization and doing a rewrite of past traumatic experiences. Remember when we talked about how diets don’t work and how cravings for junk food aren’t really your fault? When former life saving adaptations have become maladaptive and health damaging, this is part of the emotional obesity mechanism.
Past Hurts and Traumas Can Make Us Sick
Pediatrician, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris describes ACE’s (or Adverse Childhood Experiences) and toxic stress as childhood traumas that occurred before the age of 18 which have lifelong negative health effects. Some of these childhood traumas include: physical, emotional and sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance abuse, incarceration, parental separation or divorce and domestic violence. These ACE’s alter brain development, immune system development, hormonal systems and the way our DNA is read and transcribed. 17,500 adults studied, showed that the greater the number of ACE’s they suffered as children, the greater the negative health effects in their lives. Some of these negative health effects included greater susceptibility to: heart disease, hepatitis, depression, suicidal thoughts and cancer.
It’s Not Even Our Trauma
Research has shown that another adaptation is at work when it comes to trauma. Traumas suffered by our parents and grandparents may be genetically passed down to us. Information about traumatic situations can be passed down from generation to generation so that successive generations can more easily adapt to their environment. The trouble is, if our parents or grandparents lived through a war, and they pass that adaptation down to us, we may be living our lives as if we are constantly under attack and constantly in danger.
Methods for Healing Trauma
Fortunately there are methods available to us for healing past traumas. These methods include mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions and in some cases medication. Many of mental health techniques for healing center around the idea of changing our beliefs about the past situations. Some ways that we can change past beliefs are by doing visualizations and rewrites as Jon Gabriel describes. Positive affirmations (thoughts) to replace the negative thoughts should be done regularly. EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and Faster EFT are techniques we can learn to do ourselves and involve tapping on acupressure points while bringing up emotionally traumatic events, feeling the emotions of them, releasing and letting them go. Questioning away negative thoughts and feelings, as in Byron Katie’s The Work, is also an effective method. In this method we learn to question our stories we create about our life events and to see the positive in every situation we have gone through. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and focusing on gratitude are helpful techniques we have already discussed.
Tags: Abuse, ACE's, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Dieting, EFT, Emotional Health, Emotional Obesity, Faster EFT, Gratitude Journal, Mental Health, Neglect, Nutrition, Relaxation, The Gabriel Method, The Work, Visualization, Weight Gain, Weight Loss
What is the thyroid?
The thyroid is an endocrine gland. It helps to regulate metabolism and weight. Thyroid hormones influence every cell and process in the body including growth and development.
How does it work?
The thyroid produces three types of hormones: T3, T4, and T2. These hormones interact with all other hormones in our bodies. The liver converts T4 into T3 (the active form). T3 lowers cholesterol levels, regrows hair and helps maintain body weight by controlling metabolism. T3 can be disrupted by stress, infections, nutritional imbalances, toxins and allergens.
Hypothyroidism is and under-active thyroid, when when our bodies don’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Many, many people have sub-clinical hypothyroidism with no obvious signs or symptoms.
Symptoms of Hypothyroidism
- Some symptoms of Hypothyroidism include: tiring easily and lack of sustained energy, depression, feeling of a “heavy” head, falling asleep sitting up, weight gain, dry skin and chronic hives, hair loss, always feeling cold, low basal body temperature, stiff and popping joints, tingling and numbness.
Hyperthyroidism is an over-active thyroid, when the thyroid secretes too much T4.
Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism
- Some symptoms of hyperthyroidism are: protruding eyes, menstrual cycle irregularities, weight loss, heartbeat irregularities, emotional instability, lack of mental focus, nervousness, restlessness, and frequent bowel movements.
Possible Causes of Thyroid Dysfunction and What to Avoid
Some possible underlying causes of thyroid dysfunction include: radiation exposure, chronic stress, nutrient debt (from eating processed foods, low HCl and malabsorption), heavy metal accumulation, pesticides, halogens (bromides, fluoride, chlorine), dysbiosis, free radical damage (low antioxidants), low iodine levels, low selenium levels, yo-yo dieting, metabolic syndrome (insulin resistance) and goitrogens (in soy and cabbage family foods), Food allergies and sensitivities, and gluten sensitivity.
Testing thyroid function
Lab tests may be done to access the function of the thyroid including: TSH test, free T4 and free T3 test, and a thyroid antibody test to test for an autoimmune reaction. A self test can be performed as an initial indicator of low thyroid by taking our temperature, with a basal body thermometer, each morning, before getting out of bed, for at least three days. Average body temperature measurements should not be below 97.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.4 degrees Celsius.
What to Add In
Things to add in to our diets and lifestyles to nourish the thyroid include:
- “Clean” whole foods (as opposed to processed foods) to help reduce her exposure to toxins in the diet, particularly pesticides as they interfere with iodine uptake.
- Shop the outside perimeter of the grocery store looking for nutrient dense, unprocessed whole foods.
- A primarily plant based diet of brightly colored vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, will provide her with plenty of fiber and antioxidants.
- Meals including protein and healthy fats to help us feel more satisfied and support blood sugar stability. healthy fats such as butter, coconut oil, egg yolks and omega 3 oils (like those found in cold water fish, walnuts and pecans, will not make us fat but instead nourish the thyroid and help to regulate our weight).
- Slow down, careful chewing, avoiding or limiting convenience foods (which lead to inflammation and thyroid problems), as well as drinking between meals (not with meals) so as to not dilute HCl.
- Drinking pure or filtered water, which does not contain any fluoride or Chlorine.
- Sea foods and Sea vegetables, (such as: kelp flakes or mixed seaweed flakes), rich in trace minerals and iodine, have a salty flavor and can be added (undetected) to soups and stews. Note: Iodine containing foods are recommended for non-autoimmune thyroiditis only. For autoimmune thyroiditis (Hashimoto’s), they should be avoided.
*For more information on Hashimoto’s and molecular mimicry, see my tip on going gluten free.
Tags: Allergies, antioxidants, Depression, Dieting, Dysbiosis, Fat, Food Sensitivities, Gluten, HCl, Hyperthyroid, Hypothyroid, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, Pesticides, Processed Foods, Sea Vegetables, Seafood, Slow Down, Stress, Stress-Hormones, Thyroid, Vegetables, Water, Weight Gain, Weight Loss, Wellness Journal, Whole Foods
Soft drinks are addictive
If you are a regular soft drink consumer, one of the best things you can do for your health is to stop drinking soft drinks. Soft drinks contain sugar, in the form of fructose, caffeine and a number of unsavory chemical flavors, coloring and preservatives. Sugar and caffeine are very addictive substances. In fact, sugar consumption increases dopamine and stimulates pleasure centers in our brains exactly the same way heroin does.
Soft drinks cause blood sugar dis-regulation
Consuming caffeine and sugar in this way can set you off on a roller-coaster ride of highs and lows as your body struggles to return to homeostasis after their consumption. Blood sugar rises rapidly. The pancreas creates insulin to deal with the sugar. As the blood sugar spikes, the liver deals with the sugar by storing it as fat. The caffeine creates a stress response which raises blood pressure and the liver dumps more sugar into the bloodstream. An hour later our blood sugar crashes leaving us looking for another sugar high. The sustained level of sugar intake of a regular soft drink consumer, makes it impossible to lose weight and can lead to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Fructose makes us fat
Most soft drinks are sweetened with fructose which is far worse for our health than regular sugar because fructose must be processed by the liver which then stores it as fat. For this reason, fructose consumption has been associated with obesity. Fructose has also been linked to increased levels of triglycerides which increases risk of heart disease. The blood sugar roller coaster effect after fructose consumption also puts us a risk for insulin resistance and decreased leptin signaling. Leptin controls appetite and fat storage.
Artificial sweeteners are no better
Finally, if we think we can avoid soft drinks negative effects by choosing the diet version, think again. Diet sodas are often sweetened with Aspartame. Aspartame has been associated with neurological disorders, brain tumors, liver problems, birth defects, diabetes, and other ailments. Artificial sweeteners also disrupt appetite regulation and sends messages to keep eating more.
The best thing we can do for our health when it comes to soft drinks is to just avoid them all together. Try switching to spring or sparkling water, adding cucumber, lemon or lime for flavor. Chilled herbal teas are flavorful and refreshing. Lacto-fermented drinks like kefir or kombucha can also be a healthier alternative.
Tags: Addiction, Aspartame, Blood Sugar, Caffeine, Fat, Food Additives, Fructose, Herbal Tea, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Insulin Resistance, Kefir, Kombucha, Leptin Resistance, Soft Drinks, Sparkling Water, Spring Water, Sugar, Sugar Cravings, Water, Weight Loss
The Sumo Diet
If you want to put on weight, go on the Sumo wrestler’s diet. Sumo wrestlers would purposely wake themselves up in the night to eat in order to put on weight. This is a great way of adding excess body weight because we don’t need fuel while we’re sleeping. Night fed rats were also shown to put on more weight than their day time fed counterparts. Ideally we should eat before we need the fuel or before we are going to be exerting ourselves.
Eat When You Need Fuel
Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Our ancestors might have had a big breakfast to fuel up for a day of hard physical labor but if we have a big meal and then go sit at a desk job, that old adage isn’t serving us in the same way. It really depends on when we need the fuel. We should try to eat before we need the fuel and not eat when we don’t need fuel.
Avoiding Late Night Eating Problems
Ideally we should eat our last meal 3 hours before we go to bed to avoid excess weight gain, acid reflux and to prepare the body for a period of fasting overnight while we sleep. Staying up late and eating late throws off our metabolism and internal biological clock.
We Need Our Sleep
Sleep is not merely a waste of productive time. Sleep is a necessary part of your overall health. We need 8 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Lack of proper sleep can lead to a decline in mental and physical health including: reduced cognitive function, memory loss, weight gain, obesity, depression, headaches, anxiety, accidents, diabetes, decreased immune function, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and lack of emotional control. A lack of sleep also exacerbates chronic illnesses already present.
While we sleep, our body goes into a detox, repair and mental and immunological integration faze. Without sleep we miss out on all of these processes.
Sleep For Better Brain Health
Sleep makes you smarter. While we sleep, and as we dream, our brain sews together (integrates) the pieces of our experiences into memories, discovers the rules for our lives and fosters insight. Studies have shown that students performed better on problem solving and memory and recall tests when given a chance to sleep on it. Our brain strategizes and figures out answers to our problems and possible paths of action and the meaning of our lives while we sleep. A lack of this process can lead to lack of mental health including depression.
In order to get good sleep we need complete darkness. Light at night disrupts our anti-cancer, melatonin production. It is for this reason that shift work is listed as a possible carcinogen. Blue light emitted from fluorescent and LED lights are not healthy for us during the night. Using blue-light blockers on technology, blue light blocker glasses and incandescent lights at night will help with this.
Stay In Sync With The Sun
Ideally to synchronize our biological clocks, we should be rising with the sun, being exposed to natural sunlight during the day and darkness at night. Spending daylight hours outdoors will help with this, especially at high noon, so taking a walk on our lunch break is a great idea. Not only that, but spending time outdoors in nature also helps with good quality sleep.
Shutting off all electronics and stopping work 1 or 2 hours before bed can help with a good nights sleep. Doing activities that help you to relax and wind down will also help you sleep. Have a hot bath, listen to relaxation recordings, read something uplifting or write in your gratitude journal and have a good nights sleep.
Omega 3 fats are essential fats. Essential means that our body can not produce them and we must get them from our diet. Long chain Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids containing DHA and EPA. These fatty acids are needed for the brain, heart, eyes, joints, digestion, muscle activity, blood clotting, cell division and more. They also contain phospholipids which are building blocks of the cell. Deficiencies in long chain Omega 3s can lead to heart problems, depression, poor memory and inflammation. The best sources of long chain Omega 3s are cold water, fatty fish such as wild salmon, sardines, anchovies and herrings. It is suggested that we have 1 or 2 servings of fresh cold water fish per week. If you don’t eat fish you can also supplement with long chain Omega 3 oils such as wild, cold water salmon oil and antarctic krill oil. 250-500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA are recommended daily.
It is important to note that Omega 3s from plant sources are short chain Omega 3s and do not contain the essential DHA and EPA. Instead plant based Omega 3s, including flax seeds, chia seeds and walnuts, are a source of ALA. While ALA is a precursor to DHA and EPA, our bodies do not efficiently make this conversion.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 oils should be balanced 1:1 but in our modern diet of processed foods and highly processed oils, our typical Omega 6 consumption is ten times higher than our Omega 3 intake. This imbalance inevitably leads to health problems as mentioned above.
The bottom line? Make sure you’re getting your essential Omega 3 in your diet.
Eat your veggies! How many times have you heard that?
As children many of us weren’t naturally drawn to vegetables. Instead we preferred dense calorie sources such as sugars and fats. One of the reasons is because we were genetically programmed to go for caloric rich foods when we could, because dense calorie sources meant energy, and energy sources meant survival. For us modern day eaters, these dense calorie sources are easily come by, too easily!
As adults however we can use our common sense to realize that an array of brightly colored vegetables are important for our health. Vegetables are a low calorie, nutrient dense food source. An array of brightly colored produce provides us with much needed antioxidants, minerals, micro-nutrients and phyto-nutrients. These nutrients are broken down and used in chemical reactions in our bodies to run our bodily functions. Without these nutrients our bodies cannot function optimally. Because of this, nutrients from these foods help protect us from disease and slow the aging process.
Vegetables are also a great source of dietary fiber. Fiber from a variety of produce helps to feed our microbiome and flush waste through our digestive tract. Certain vegetables, being mostly water, are also hydrating.
We should aim to eat six to eight servings of brightly colored produce each day. Growing our own vegetables is a great way to get high quality, inexpensive, nutrient dense vegetables. Vegetables can be added to soups, stews and casseroles to boost their nutrient content. Some of the most nutrient dense ways to consume produce are lacto-fermented vegetables, fresh vegetables juices and sprouts.