Plant-based means more vegetables for all, including omnivores.
We asked one of our favorite therapists how we can start to cultivate a self-care practice. Lauren Cohen of Hope & Humor Therapy agreed to teach us how to do it in just 5-minutes a day.
Let's Talk About Self-Care
"Let’s talk about self-care. I mean, really talk about self-care. There are a lot of myths floating around about it these days. It has become synonymous with spa days, weekend getaways, long trips to the beach; things that can feel out of reach for most of us, most of the time. We ask ourselves, “How am I supposed to practice self-care? I can’t just take a day off and flit about town; I can’t be away from work/my family/school/my responsibilities for that long! COME ON!”
In an instant, self-care becomes this giant, insurmountable task, and it gets placed on a long-ignored shelf next to cookbooks that we never open and treadmills that we never use.
Well, I’m going to let you in on a secret: self-care doesn’t have to be that way. The crux of self-care is for you to take action to maintain your physical, mental and emotional health. There’s a whole range of things that you can do to cultivate this practice. It does not have to be this giant, sweeping gesture that you do for yourself every once in a while, (maybe). It can be something small that you do every single day." -Lauren Cohen
Try This Self-Care Exercise
"At 2 pm every day, stop what you are doing, find a quiet place, take a moment, and ask yourself what you need right now. Literally, internally ask yourself, “What is the best thing that I could do for myself in this moment?” Then go do that thing.
(Alternatively: if 2 pm is the worst time of day for you to try this, then pick another time that works better for you. Commit to that time. Put a reminder on your phone. Then do it.)
(Alternatively: if you can’t meet that particular need at that exact moment, commit to a time when you can. Put it on your calendar and then do it.)
At the end of the week, notice if you feel any differently about yourself and your life. After extended use of this technique, people have reported having more positive feelings about themselves and feeling better able to handle life’s challenges. You’ll be surprised what this simple change can spark in you!
I wish you luck in this endeavor and encourage you to try all forms of self-care!" - Lauren Cohen
Self-Care is Caring
Like Lauren said, it's really easy to allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the idea of caring. There are all the choices, decisions, responsibilities and the idea that caring takes up too much time and energy. Start small. It makes a world of difference. Remember, that taking care of yourself makes the world a better place.
Gut Health is Total Health
Why is Gut Health Important?
Up to 90% of disease can be traced in some way back to your gut. You have over 10,000 species of bacteria living in your gut and on your body. We all have "good" and "bad" bacteria. However, your lifestyle determines the balance of your flora, thus your overall health. You can support your gut by feeding and restoring your beneficial bacteria.
Food sensitivities, constipation, diarrhea, auto-immune conditions, and low immune system status have a lot to do with with the health of your gut. Most of what we are talking about in gut health is the small intestine and the large intestine. There are microbial and other mechanisms to ensure your stomach, liver, pancreas are operating at their best too, but mainly we focus on the large and small intestine when we address repairing and restoring the gut.
Ways to Repair & Restore Gut Lining Without Supplements
Increase Microbial Diversity
- Intake adequate fiber and fiber diversity. Bacteria uses fiber to breakdown, ferment and use for fuel. This protects our immune system, hormone balance and more. Rotate new plant fibers/resistant starches weekly. For example, try rotating Japanese sweet potato, lentils, then al dente rice, etc in your diet. Rotate your fiber sources for maximum diversity.
- Intake a diversity of foods in general: Our ancestors ate about 600-800 different foods per year, the average western diet is 15-30 different foods annually. Rotate through your foods and try new things. For example, if you usually buy baby spinach for your salads, try arugula, then romaine. If you typically only eat black beans, try pinto and white beans too. Buy a variety of proteins, don't just have chicken with every meal. Your body will love you for mixing it up.
- Try natural fasting breaks: 10-16 hrs is a good fast time, if you do not have blood sugar problems. Start with 10 hours of fasting - that would look like not eating anything after 8pm and then eating breakfast at 6am. Longer intermittent fasting should be supervised, especially if you suspect blood sugar imbalances.
- Eat organic and non-GMO foods as much as you possibly can to reduce your exposure to pesticides like glyphosate. Glyphosate kills gut bacteria, bind minerals and alter the way we naturally detoxify, and use Vitamins A and D - which are critical to immune health
Change Exposures to Your Environment
- Get DIRTY!
- Don’t be afraid to get dirty, work in the garden, go for a walk - preferably in nature
- STOP using hand sanitizers all day every day.
- Filter your drinking water. Chlorine in city drinking water is killing off bacteria and decreasing diversity
- Eliminate Chlorine Cleaners - Again, chlorine is killing off too much bacteria and is not supporting our total health
- Replace with: water and essential oils or white distilled vinegar or some commercial natural brands
- Eliminate anti-bacterial soaps, sanitizers, etc.
- Be around animals
- Protect yourself from EMF’s from cell phones, laptops, wifi as much as possible - these too are having an impact on gut microbial health and our ability to restore and repair at night (try turning your phone on airplane mode at night or leaving it outside your bedroom as you sleep).
- Stress reduction - Stress increases gut permeability which leads to leaky gut. Find ways to calm and reduce stress. Try yoga, walking after dinner, body work, reading, therapy, whatever you gotta do to increase your relaxation response.
Dig Deeper with Targeted Protocols & Supplements
Become a Detective
Find the foods and food chemicals that are causing the most problems for you.
- One way we do that is with the MRT food sensitivity test and LEAP protocol (a customized elimination diet plan) combined with a supplement protocol.
- Reduces inflammation and symptoms in 6-12 weeks for many people.
- Additional lab testing
- Beth may determine another test is right for you such as a comprehensive stool test.
Increase Beneficial Bacteria
- Increase strains of akkermansia and faecalibacterium with these foods: apples, cranberries, pomegranate, grapes (purple), navy beans. These bacteria are very important to gut but are diminished in most Western cultures. If you can’t tolerate these foods, there are other ways to support their growth.
- Take a high quality pro-biotic - we like MegaSpore and Saccromyces Bouillardi. It's always important to eat fiber with probiotics.
Build a Personalized Supplement Plan that Repairs and Restores Gut Lining
Supplements we often use for gut repair are:
- Butyrate/Short Chain Fatty Acids
- Zinc Carnosine
- Essential Fatty Acids
- Anti-Oxidant Support with Glutathione, L-carnitine, lipoic acid, CoQ10
- Amino Acids that Repair: L-theonine, L-Serine, L-proline, L-cysteine
We highly recommend working with a Functional Medicine Dietitian or Doctor to develop a plan and supplement protocol that's right for you. Guessing is usually not a good idea and often wastes your time and money. It is also very important to know the source of your supplements. It's not a great idea to buy cheap in this case.
Find out why we should collectively stop talking about "cheat day" like it's the best day when it's really the worst.
If this message resonates with you in any way, or you want to learn more, please check out our upcoming e-course. It's the place to be for getting empowered and building a better relationship with food, your body, and life.