My Proof of the Gut-Brain Connection

(Warning: some readers may find parts of the following to contain TMI; sorry.) 

Over the past few years we’re hearing more and more about the gut being our second brain. Well-known neurologists such as Dr. David Perlmutter are writing books and articles about it ( Institutions such as the National Institute of Mental Health are spending millions of dollars on studies to understand the relationship between the brain in our head and the brain in our gut.

It wasn’t until just this month that I personally realized how much not only what I eat, but my experiences contribute to the state of my gut. If you’ve read my bio on this site then you know I live with Ulcerative Colitis (IBD), and generally I now live quite well despite this illness that used to have me living in my bathroom.

But in the early part of June, for no apparent reason the quality of my stool diminished. I wasn’t having diarrhea (which is one of the hallmark signs of an impending IBD flare for me), I was simply having small, mushy stools 3-6 times in the first three or four hours of my day. It didn’t stop me too much from living normally. I wasn’t living in my bathroom, but it did cause me to rearrange my work schedule to begin after noon. As the days progressed into a week, then two, then more, it was apparent I wasn’t having a “flare.” Just crummy quality stool, and too much of it.

Of course my nutritionist side kicked in. “What am I eating that could be causing this?” “Am I getting enough fiber? Vitamin D? Exercise?” “Could the warmer weather or Spring allergies be the cause?” “Did I pick-up an intestinal bug somewhere?”

When I mentioned this to my husband (he’s a gem considering the poor guy hears more about poop than any husband should ever have too!) he said, “Didn’t this happen last June, too?”

“Hmm, did it?” I asked myself as I headed upstairs to review my calendar from the previous year (Yes, I save my old calendars. I have them dating back to the early '90s!).

What I found out was that it had indeed happened in June of 2016. And June of 2015, and 2014, and 2013. “What the heck?” I wondered. As I looked through the calendars further I realized the connection.

In June 2012 that dear, sweet husband of mine had become gravely ill. After suffering at home for two weeks he was admitted to the hospital on June 12, 2012. That hospital admission would span 4 weeks until his release on July 13. Without going into all the details, that was the best day of our lives, because 2 weeks prior he’d been admitted to ICU and the doctor’s told me it was highly unlikely he’d walk out alive.

So, that’s it. That darn brain in my gut, which has already been on high alert for most, if not all, of my life, has been holding onto the stress, concern, and emotion of that experience with my husband from 5 years ago! (probably with a death-grip of fear it could happen again)

I’m now working on trying to figure out how to clear that stress and emotion from my body. I have re-engaged with my yoga and Reiki practices; I’ve spoken with a guru or two about how to clear these rooted emotions from my body; and I'm introducing more homemade probiotic rich foods into my diet again (I’d gotten lazy and lax about making yogurt and lacto-fermented veggies, but have a batch of each brewing away as I write).

In the meantime, things on the evacuation route are getting better each day. This coincides with the time-frame of the hubs being home from the hospital for about a week. His entire recovery would take more than a year, but just having him home, alive was enough to relieve much of the stress I’d lived with for the two months he was seriously ill. And as I look back through those calendars I keep, by the end of July in each of the past three years things have gone back to good for me on the poop front.

So, there you have it. Stress, Emotions, Past Experiences. They can indeed get stuck or rooted in our brains, as well as in our gut. And if you read the article I mention above from Dr. Perlmutter, all of this can cause or contribute to headaches, arthritis, eczema, allergies, autism, ADD, and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

So, the take-away from all of this is:

Clean up your Diet:

Most of what you eat should be comprised of good, whole, organic Veggies, Fruits, Protein, Nuts, and Seeds. Include moderate amounts of Dark Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, and Red Wine.

Drastically cut back on, or leave behind, simple carbs and sugar:

Crackers, Bread, Chips, Cakes, Cookies, Pasta, Pre-Made and Pre-Packaged foods are all pretty much empty calories.

Increase your Quality Fat Intake:

Think Nuts (whole, unadorned, not the flavored variety you like so much - sorry) Seeds, Avocadoes, Olive oil, Coconut Oil, Pasture-raised meats (you'll find probiotics in this meat as well).

Add or Increase Probiotics:

If you're new to probiotics start very, very slowly. Just a 1/4 to -1/2 teaspoon of homemade yogurt a day to begin. Or, the same amount of the juice from lacto-fermented veggies. There are a lot of good things in probiotic-rich foods but it takes your body a little time to get used to them. Too much, too soon, could make you feel very unwell. Contact me to help you learn more about introducing probiotics:

Allow yourself to make time for you:

Yes, I know, you're busy and everyone needs something from you, and you don't have time for yourself. Well, my best advice? Make it. Make yourself your first priority. And know that it’s more than okay to do this. You have permission to care for yourself first and others later. Without daily self-care we’re not as good or as healthy or as happy and fulfilled as we can be. You'll feel better for yourself as well as for your loved ones. Don't wait for a health crisis before you make the time to care for you. I give you the permission. 

Pour without the Glug & Slosh

The other day, a client was complaining about the cardboard Tetra packs because they glug and splash their contents all over her counter and stovetop. At first, I couldn't understand the problem. I've never had the issue she mentioned - no glugging, spilling or sloshing. But, as we talked further I realized she was holding the package upside down while pouring the liquids. 

Yes, there is a right and a wrong way to pour from these cartons, just like pouring motor oil into your car's engine.     

Here's the trick:

Hold the box so the spout is at the top, so farther away from your cup, pot, or pan, and pour. 

I'll admit, I don't buy a lot of food in these containers - usually just broth or soy milk - but when I do this is how I use them and I've never had any muss or fuss.   

Good luck!

Shrimp Saute

SCD, GAPS, AID, AIP, Paleo. Gluten-free, Grain-free

I know, I know, you're all going to want me to post a recipe for this picture.
But, that's what I love about cooking (compared to baking), you don't need a recipe! Just akitchen stocked with fresh, whole foods, and a little experimentation. Try it, see what you come up with.

A few nights ago I had shrimp unthawed and wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with them. Then my neighbor called and asked if I'd like some veggies. "Boy, oh, boy, would I."  Fifteen minutes later I was stocked with fresh-from-the-garden Swiss Chard and Tomatoes. I had leftover Spaghetti Squash in my 'fridge and some fresh Broccoli and Basil, too.

This was a one-pan meal - a little butter went into the pan first, then the shrimp, some chopped garlic, the chard, tomatoes, and broccoli. All was seasoned with some Sea Salt, a dash of White Pepper, Basil, and saute'd on medium heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Once on the plate I finished it off with some excellent Extra Virgin Olive Oil (I never cook with this divine oil) and another pinch of Sea Salt. And, Voila! Bon Appetit!    

Anti-Inflammatory Foods - Eating to Reduce Inflammation

At the root of many of today's illnesses is chronic Inflammation. Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD - Crohn's disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Microscopic Colitis), Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Heart Disease, Vascular Dementia, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and Stroke are just some of the diseases thought to be affected or caused by chronic inflammation.  

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It's What's for Dinner (SCD-style)

Around my house we make dinner, every night.

This is pretty typical of how and what we eat -
Good quality protein,
Lots of veggies,
Complex carbohydrate

You can't see it very well, but there's a lovely bunch of spaghetti squash nestled underneath all the tomatoes, garlic, mushrooms, bok choy, spinach, and shrimp.

There is no recipe, sorry. On this one, as with most nights, I see what's in the 'fridge and put something together.

You can't go too wrong with garlic, olive oil, and tomatoes as a base.

Copyright @ Elizabeth Roberts Nutrition

Copyright @ Elizabeth Roberts Nutrition

Acidic vs. Alkaline - What does this mean? Why is it important to my health?

There is a lot of discussion on the internet about whether you should have an acidic or an alkaline body for optimal health. But nobody really explains what this means, why it is important to know, or how to help your body achieve its best state.

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Thanks for visiting my website - Elizabeth Roberts Nutrition and Blog - Living with IBD.

If you've read through my site then you know I'm living with Ulcerative Colitis (UC) & I'm now a Nutrition Consultant working with others who are living with UC to teach them how to improve their "Eating Lifestyle" and hopefully live happier, fuller lives despite what can be a pretty nasty and isolating illness. 

I'm on the other side of my UC adventure - meaning I am now living really well with few to no UC symptoms. So, here is where I'll share my story about my journey to get where I am today, and to share what I'm doing tomorrow.

Welcome to my world. . . I look forward to getting to know and help you.