Should You Get A Stool Analysis? + My Results

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Oh yeah, we’re sh*t talking’ today. I’m sorry… I had to. Dirty humor calls my name.

In all seriousness though, your poop can say a lot about you. This is often a taboo topic, and when I consult with people they preface their digestive symptoms with “I know this is gross but…” Let’s get one thing straight; poop is gross. We all know it. But when it comes to your health there is no reason to be ashamed of bodily functions. In fact I propose we be more aware and open about our extremities as it’s a big window into our insides. Let’s just be a little less open about it at dinner, ya feel me?

If you follow me on Instagram, I mentioned I got my stool results back. I even shared my results, and I’ll be reiterating them later on in this post. I’ll also be interpreting the results and what I’m doing about them. So with that I need to say, I’m not a doctor. Not even close. I don’t have the credentials to read and interpret other people’s lab tests and I can’t tell you what your results mean. But I can share my results and how my training and research played into interpreting them for myself. These tips and tricks may be applicable to many but not all.

So what is a stool test? No it’s not the classic “does it sink or float” test (but those do tell us something specifically with how fats are digested). A stool test is a comprehensive analysis of gut health markers, bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. If you’re someone who is latent with digestive discomfort, fatigue, skin issues, food intolerances, or really anything that ails you I recommend getting one. The gut is where most disease manifests. Hormone issues? Start in the gut. Breakouts? Start in the gut. Autoimmunity? Start in the gut.

So wouldn’t you want to know what’s going on in there? And before jumping on that candida or parasite cleanse you found online it would be nice to know if you even have candida! Spoiler, we all have candida (and H-pylori) it’s when there is an overgrowth that problems manifest.

A lot of people are harboring parasites, opportunistic bacteria, fungi and viruses that are stealing their nutrients, compromising the gut lining and depleting their energy. Once again, we all have bacteria, parasites and fungi but there are certain ones we don’t want hanging around or maybe there’s just an imbalance. For most of the people I work with cleaning up the gut transforms their lives and it’s a great starting point. Working for a Functional Medicine Practitioner I’ve seen an alarming amount of parasitic infections and know how powerful treating them can be towards health. Even if you think you’re symptoms don’t relate to gut infection, they still could be.

Regarding tests, some are more in-depth than others. They usually require a practitioner to order them for you, yet I’ve heard there are some on the market that can be ordered directly. I work for a Functional Medicine Practitioner and he ordered me the GI MAP through Diagnostic Solutions. Through my research it’s one of the best stool analyses for home use + my doctor strongly reinforced it. He’s also my boss…so I do what he says lol.

As mentioned, the GI MAP tests for opportunistic organisms, normal flora, parasites, fungi, intestinal health markers and even anti-biotic resistance strains. I wont be sharing the PDF of my results, but if you would like to see a sample report or lean more click here.

So without further ado, let’s chat about the standouts from my results.

  1. I have no parasites, fungus, virus or opportunistic bacterial overgrowth.

PRAISE JESUS. But low key, I was sad. I was banking all my symptoms on a parasite. Womp womp.

 

  1. Low Elastase-1

Elastase is a pancreatic enzyme that’s been show through research to be a golden marker for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency when low. The exocrine function of the pancreas includes secreting enzymes to break down protein, fat and carbohydrates from our food. When these levels are low, food is often left undigested in the intestines to rancidify, putrefy and ferment. This can create much of the bloating, gas, irregular stools and food intolerances we’ve all experienced in some point or another. Our pancreatic function naturally decreases with age, but I’m 22 years old and shouldn’t be experiencing THIS level of insufficiency. So how do we help our pancreas along? Taking a complete pancreatic enzyme is the first step; this will help break down your food. But more times than one, poor pancreatic enzyme secretion is due to low stomach acid. In order for those enzymes to be triggered in the first place, a very acidic chyme of broken down food must enter the small intestine. It is the intense acidity of the chyme that triggers a hormonal message to the pancreas to produce digestive enzymes. If the stomach does not have proper acidity in the first place (which most Americans struggle with low stomach acid) than the chyme will also lack acidity and you won't secrete as many enzymes as you would like. Another easy solution: take a Betaine HCL supplement. If that’s too much right out the gate, try ACV or lemon juice in 2-4 oz of water right before a meal. In my case I’m taking both HCL and a pancreatic enzyme. Keep in mind; because pancreatic enzyme secretion has a lot to do with the small intestine, low elastase could also be an indicator of small intestinal damage (like ulceration) or infection (like SIBO).

 

  1. Low Secretory IgA

Also known as sIgA, secretory Immunoglobulin Antibodies are the intestinal line of defense. Protecting us from bacteria, parasites and viruses (which is why I’m surprised I had no infections), sIgA lives within our intestinal mucosal membrane. As mentioned this mucosal membrane is protective against pathogens, yet it also hosts our micro biome and has the ability to regulate pro-inflammatory responses. You NEED sIgA in order to have a functioning immune system. Think of the membrane as a slippery barrier within your intestines, lungs, skin, eyes (and private areas) where it houses all of the good bacteria, protecting the rest of your body from allergens and pathogens. SIgA itself even helps to increase good bacteria. 80% of our immune system resides in the gut, so having little to no mucosal membrane can set off a host of issues. Those with low sIgA are more likely to have intestinal membrane damage/dysfunction, food intolerances, IBS/IBD, chronic gut infections, past antibiotic use and HPA deregulation (trouble with stress). Ways we can build our sIgA and immunity back: fermented foods, colostrum, collagen, bone broth, probiotics, L Glutamine, MSM, gut healing herbs (slippery elm, marshmallow root, licorice root, fenugreek), cabbage juice, mushrooms high in beta glucans, and most of all a diet free of potential allergens. I recommend the AIP diet to start.

Those with high sIgA may be showing signs of an acute infection, acute stress, heavy smoking, heavy alcohol consumption or infections within the teeth/mouth. A raised level of sIgA is usually built up due to an infection, so GI pathogens must be ruled out. Usually additional testing or investigation is needed to determine what is triggering a heightened immune response. This is different for everyone, but by getting a GI panel/ SIBO test you can at least rule out GI infections. For the most part, stick to an AIP diet to eliminate potential food triggers.

 

  1. High “Normal” Gut Flora

With all of this talk about infections, remember that bacteria and other organisms are supposed to be within our bodies. We coexist as one. That being said, even normal non-pathogenic gut bacteria can get out of balance. I had high levels of Bacteroides Fragilis, Enterococcus spp and Escherichia spp. Good or not, there is still bacterial imbalance here. Due to my low sIgA levels it’s only normal to have bacteria out of balance. I also took massive doses of antibiotics as a child, smoked, ate like shit, drank a lot and was under tremendous stress. That’s a recipe for microbiota disaster. I am on an herbal protocol to eradicate high levels of this bacteria for 60 days, and then will focus on rebuilding once the “killing” phase is over. High levels of any bacteria can cause bloating, gas, digestive discomfort, joint pain, food sensitivities and more. It also is a main factor in my final test result…

 

  1. High Beta- Glucuronidase

I spent a whole night googling this. I had never heard of it. And the very first thing that came up in conjunction with this result was…..cancer. AHH!! Can you feel my freak out?! I was then calmed by several of my friends and family members who were concerned for my sanity after a nightlong google binge, and started to collect more data. B- Glucurononidase is an enzyme produced by bacteria within the GI track and can be correlated to high levels of normal gut flora. DING DING DING! Light bulb moment, and if you read through the last point you’ll understand why. You can also have high levels of B-Glucuronidase due to other bacterial imbalances. Circling back to the cancer thing, there is a correlation between high levels of this enzyme and colon cancer. But this is not an ultimatum. What I’m really concerned about is how these high enzyme levels are impacting my hormones. I won’t dive too deep into the science, but your liver through a whole host of Phase I and Phase II conjugation pathways packages toxins and hormones up in order to be eliminated. Those packages are then excreted into bile where they will eventually leave via your poop. Lovely picture I know. However, B-Glucuronidase knows exactly how to undo all of that pretty packaging to let your hormones and carcinogens run free! And when I say run free, I mean this enzyme dislodges the toxins and estrogens from your feces and allows them to recirculate throughout the body. So even if you’ve done a million cleanses and detox programs, this b-glucuronidase can undo it. It gets to the toxins before they even leave the body. This can cause estrogen dominance and put a hefty burden on the liver. Ways to help: take a high dose of calcium-d-glucarate which can inhibit the enzymes undoing, remove as may forms of environmental estrogens and endocrine disrupters as possible (plastics, soy, house cleaner, laundry detergent, beauty products, tap water) and follow a clean paleo/AIP style diet high in green leafy vegetables.

 

That’s a wrap! Those are the highlights of my stool analysis and hopefully all of my non-stop googling has helped you in some way. If you want to get a stool test find a local Functional Medicine Practitioner or Functional Nutritionist to order you one. I’m serious when I say this completed a piece of the puzzle to my health journey. It’s worth the investment and can give clear direction on next steps towards healing.

 

Thanks for reading, friends.

 

References:

https://blog.bulletproof.com/calcium-d-glucarate/

https://www.gdx.net/core/one-page-test-descriptions/Pancreatic-Elastase-Test-Description.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12604981

https://www.biohealthlab.com/test-menu/immunity/

 

Adaptogens Won't Fix Your Hormones

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Shocking title, I know. We'll get to that. Adaptogenic herbs, also called adaptogens, have become the cool kids on the health and wellness block. If you follow any well known nutrition Instagrammer or blogger you'll see fancy potions, lattes and treats swimming in seas of maca, reishi and ashwaganda.

"Ashwa-who?"  Bless you.

Adaptogenic herbs are nothing new. They've been around for centuries in Eastern, Native American and African medicine practices. They have many uses, but pharmacologically an adaptogen is defined by these three criteria:

  1. The substance is relatively non-toxic.
  2. An adaptogen has a "non specific" activity and acts by increasing resistance  to a broad spectrum of advert biological, chemical and physical factors.
  3. They tend to help regulate an organ function.

Basically, they are a series of herbs, roots, fungus, berries, seeds and other plant matter that help the body become more flexible and resilient to whatever ails you. They help you adapt so to speak.

Adaptogens are praised for improving immunity, decreasing stress, strengthening digestion, increasing energy and of course "fixing" hormonal imbalance. Sounds great right? 

Truth is, they are great and they DO work (for some, because everyone's different). I am in no means discrediting their immense power to aid in one's healing journey. They've helped in mine. However they aren't the answer, they're just a bandaid. So many people, especially women, are jumping on the herbal bandwagon in hopes to heal their hormones. Yet I see so many women still struggling even while taking adaptogenic herbs. What no one is talking about is the lifestyle and diet factors that MUST be addressed and are a much bigger force behind hormonal disturbances. These bloggers, Instgrammers and health gurus are essentially making expensive, fancy potion drinks but not reaping the full benefits because these other areas aren't up to par. And they're conniving YOU to spend your hard earned money on substances that may never get to the root cause.

In order to achieve true hormonal "balance" (which actually doesn't exist because hormones are in constant fluctuation, but the real trouble is when they are not with in proportion or range) it takes nutritional, lifestyle and mental growth. While putting maca powder in your tea every morning could surely give you energy, wouldn't you like to experience vibrant energy with out the need to rely on a substance?

The good news! There are many ways to address the root cause of wonky hormones. So before you reach for a $5o mushroom powder, focus on these areas first.

1. Digestion

This is truly where it all starts. I could dedicate a whole blog post on this topic related to hormones. The subject is that intricate and important. For the purpose of the post let's point out a key concept. For starters, you need to eat a nutrient dense diet rich in colorful veggies, fat and animal protein. These should be staples and fruit, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains come after fulfilling the protein, fat and veggie consumption. If your diet consists of things that come from a package, box or frozen food isle you just can't expect to be completely healthy. And if you're eating the shelf stable super market staples, then digestion is certainly not up to speed. In order to create hormones, we must be able to properly break down the protein, fat and minerals from our food. Protein and fat specifically act as building blocks to many essential hormones. If we have low stomach acid and decreased pancreatic enzymes then proteins will sit undigested in the stomach or small intestine, putrefying the proteins and fats rancidify. To continue, if there is a dysbiosis of gut bacteria (meaning more "bad" bacteria, an over growth of a particular organism or shortage of "good" bacteria strains) food can not be broken down to the microscopic level needed to transport to the cells. If you have any digestive issues chances are your food is not being broken down/ and or absorbed correctly. Fixing digestion sets the stage for proper hormonal production. This piece is just the tip of the iceberg, there is truly so many things that can go wrong in digestion that play a role in hormones. But like I said, that's another post. If you suspect digestive irregularities I recommend working with an NTP like myself or a Functional Medicine Doctor.

2. Blood Sugar Regulation

Another key piece of the puzzle, if not one of the BIGGEST pieces. Everyone has this misconception that blood sugar regulation involves going keto or low carb. This is true for some but not everyone. It's about the type of carbs, carb timing and your bodies ability to utilize carbohydrates for fuel. For some it can be as simple as cutting out all processsed  carbohydrates and switching to whole foods or grain free. For others a low carb or carb timing approach may work better. If the blood stream is saturated with too much glucose for a long period of time (we're talking months-years) there is the potential to develop insulin resistance. Insulin resistance then causes an increase in cortisol levels and if left elevated over time (once again months or years), the body compromises production of other sex hormones and shuttles the materials to make cortisol instead. This reduction in Estrogen, Progesterone and DHEA can lead to an inversely high testosterone in women and eventually evolve into PCOS. PCOS is a game of blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance, not hormones. How can we prevent this? For starters test your blood glucose after meals, if you're hitting 110-120 or above 2 hours after meals and it takes the body over 4 hours to fall back into normal range, it may be time to decrease the carb load. Also, eat your carbs as a part of a balanced meal. Snacking of fruit, grains, chocolate cause blood sugar spikes because of the absence of protein and fat. If you're going to consume carbs, eat them in increments of 20-30 g with a meal of protein, fat and non starchy veggies. You can also experiment with carb timing. For example, many people have success with eating carbs after a moderate-high intensity workout because the body seems to be more insulin sensitive, which is great! The glucose will then be taken into the cell quickly and efficiently for fuel. Eating carbs at night before bed is also a good technique. Keep breakfast and lunch high in protein, fat and non starchy veggies then at dinner add in the higher carbohydrate foods. The body utilizes those carbs more effectively as we sleep, and can help with blood sugar regulation during our resting hours.

3. Emotional Stress

If your blood sugar and digestion are dialed in, time to check up on your stress levels. Emotional stress in particular not only elevates cortisol levels, but goes deeper penetrating the mind, soul and body. It truly disrupts us on all playing fields. You see, when we have an issue in the physical body it often translates to an imbalance within the mental body as well. The body and mind are one after all. So if the physical fixes provide no relief I advise you to look deeper. What are you unhappy with? Are you constantly on the go with minimal breaks? When was the last time you had a moment to yourself? Even if you don't think you're stressed, sometimes we have become so accustomed to that way of feeling it no longer registers consciously as stressful. Unfortunately, the physical body doesn't know the difference between being chased by a lion or being stuck in traffic. As a result we are stuck in a chronic stress response. Hormone fluctuations caused by stress will never be fixed if stressors aren't removed or dealt with in a much more positive manor. Plain and simple. We are energetic beings and must be in tune on all levels for optimal function.

4. Toxicity

This one should really be called liver congestion or sluggish liver, but I think you get the gist. I had a hard time placing this on a scale of importance. The liver is really, really important when it comes to hormones but I truly believe if you focus on blood sugar, digestion and emotional stress the liver could even itself out. The liver is a jack of all trades, doing a little bit here and a lot a bit there (except he's no jack at all). One trade involves regulating, manufacturing and directing hormones. This includes thyroid hormones, and I always recommend looking at the liver if someone suspects low thyroid. That being said we live in a very toxic world that is placing a constant burden on our liver to remove chemicals and excess hormones from our bodies. There are so many chances in a daily routine for the liver to become overwhelmed. We wake up and immediately breathe air that has been polluted by chem trails and fumes, drink water laced with fluoride, eat food covered in pesticides and meat fed GMO grains and antibiotics, wear synthetic makeup, put on heavy metal based deodorants, wear clothes that have been chemically treated after manufacturing, use plastics, touch BPA recipe paper, clean our homes with toxic substances and not to mention being vaccinated at birth with formaldehyde, ammonia and all the other shit they put in those things. We are exposed to an overwhelming amount of toxins that bombards the liver with more duties. This inhibits our liver to work on things like hormone metabolization. So it could go one of two ways: either the liver is supported by diet change and can function optimally, or your liver is still sluggish even with diet change due to external toxins and you need extra support. It's up to you and your practitioner to decipher which situation you fall under. But for basic advice: ditch the chemicals, buy organic, get a Berkey water filter and eat a shit ton of veggies.

To reiterate the purpose of this lengthy post, adaptogens won't fix your hormones. They may play a big role in their modulation and your bodies ability to handle stress, but won't do jack squat if those other areas are in check. Don't fall prey to all the Instagrammers and bloggers making $15 herbal drinks. If anything, I recommend working with an NTP like myself or a functional medicine practitioner to find the root cause of your problems.

Questions? Comment below. Would love to hear from you!

Is FOMO Sabotaging Your Health?

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I think every human with more than 4 friends and some form of social media experiences FOMO. Ya know, fear of missing out. The term is so overused I’m sure defining it would only bore you. We’ve all read that one Facebook article about how FOMO is detrimental to our mental health, but what about physically? Experiencing fear of missing out is one thing, but do you give in? Do you go to that party and pound tequila shots all night long only to wake up with a twisted gut and feelings of guilt? Or maybe you say, “fuck it” and order pizza with friends because you’re tired of being left out due to dietary restrictions. I hate to break it to you: but if you have health concerns or goals, giving into FOMO is a no-go.

Reality Check 101:

Maybe you have digestive problems. Pizza with the gals won’t help with that.

Or you keep gaining weight no matter what you try. Tequila shots only mask that.

Having concerns about draining energy? Taco Tuesday feeds into that.

You have a real, diagnosed medical condition of any kind. Late night food runs hurt that.

 

This is harsh, but very real. I’m 22 years old, FOMO runs through my freaking veins. I see girls I went to high school with slamming margs in Cabo on spring break and downing gourmet doughnuts the size of my head. Why can’t I do that? I wonder. Their lives are so exciting! Then you go binge drink, eat late night Whataburger (for all my TX peeps out there) and wake up depressed, swollen, in pain and still longing for more.

“Kara cut to the chase” Ok, ok you probably get it by now. But I want to make this clear: fomo is destructive to health goals. For me, dabbling in these temptations only made things worse and now I’m fighting tooth and nail to get back where I started. I went from 80% to 50% in a matter of months and just want to tell girls my age it doesn’t have to be this way.

You don’t have to drink like everyone else. You don’t have to eat shitty to be cool.

Eating healthy, engaging in meaningful relationships and nourishing your body is cool. If anyone challenges that you can send ‘em my way!


If you’ve made it this far you probably know FOMO is real for you (or you’re just my family and read all my blog posts. Hey Mom!) So now what? Here are:

Steps to FOMO Freedom to Take Charge of Your Health

  1. Establish a strong “why.”

You’ve heard it all before, “what’s your why?” Yes, so cliché. But if you don’t know why you want something, then will you ever stick to it? Dig deep here. What is being sick, tired, bloated (or whatever ales you) preventing you from doing with your life? If your health were to get worse, what would you regret missing out on? Not taking care of yourself now can lead to bigger FOMO in the future. My why is: So that I don’t pass on the symptoms I’m feeling to my children, and so I don’t degenerate early from autoimmunity or cancer. This is personal to me. When confronted with a temptation, I can then compare it to my why and address if it’s worth it or not. Once you have your why, write it down. Keep it as your lock screen on your phone, set it as a reminder, stick post it notes with your why around the house. Whatever it takes to create the habit!

  1. Talk to your friends… or get new ones.

If you have health goals and can’t afford booze and fast food any longer, it’s time to chat with your friends. Explain to them what you’re going through and ask them to support you. Maybe that means having one weekend night where you pick the restaurant. Or suggesting get-togethers like hikes, yoga, a jog, getting green juice, or anything that fits your situation. If they’re not willing to support you or a falling out occurs just know it’s okay. Acknowledge the time you all spent together for what is was, be grateful for it and get back out there. Easier said than done. But believe you can find new friends that engage in healthy activities, join groups online, reach out to that girl you’ve always wanted to chill with or get coffee with some people from the gym. Healthy friendships help build our own health.

  1. Start documenting YOUR life.

If you cant beat them, join them! I can explain. If you constantly spend your time looking at other people’s lives on social media, are you even living your own? Post that recipe you made the other day, snapchat the walk you took through the park, write a blog post about the workout you just did. I know this from experience (hence my blog). This may sound so lame, but posting about your life reminds you how awesome it is! Whenever I post about the amaze-balls matcha lattee I just had from a local coffee shop it makes me stop and reflect. You have no choice but to relive that moment all over again, and feel truly grateful for your experiences. That post then motivates you to do more things you love, eat things you love and just be a person that you love. Of course social media has its down falls. We can obsess about likes, followers, picture quality, blah blah blah, But the act of documenting something is suddenly engaging, and almost gives you those feelings of “fitting in.” Side note relating to #2, I’ve met some great friends off Instagram all because I started documenting my life and not focusing on others.

 

I’ve rambled on long enough. Just know I love you guys; I care about your wellbeing; I’m here for you. Your 20’s (or 30’s) don’t have to be filled with destructive habits that degrade your body or soul. This is a message I’m passionate about and truly believe in. Have questions? Comment below or message me on Instagram. I would LOVE to hear from you!

4 Lessons I Learned at the 2017 NTA Conference

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1. I'm an antisocial, anxious fan girl.

I'm not even entirely sure what this means. But one of the first things I learned about myself on this trip was crowd anxiety is real, I like hiding in my hotel room and I'm a creepy fan girl.  I'm an only child. For some that inspires them to be outgoing and sociable, but personally it takes real effort to break out of my social shell. So a near 10 hours a day for 3 days fully engulfed in the world of crowds left me anxious as hell and on the verge of a panic attack. I also thought I wouldn't be some fangirling groupie trying to get my fav books signed and trembling at the sight of mentor nutritionists. But once again, I was. Hardcore. I met Rob Wolf and practically shit myself if that says anything. But by the end of the conference all my people skills flew out the window and I was a hot mess. The end.

2. The gut holds all the answers.

Well....90% of them. I'll be making a post SOLELY regarding what I learned about the gut through the conference because it's so much head spinning info. BUT there is an overall message that became clear: health lives in the gut. So first off, what is the gut? The gut begins in the mouth and ends with our....well...ya know. It's one large tube that harbors billions of bacteria, fungi, parasites, neurons, immune cells and more. It serves a multitude of functions from physical digestion to perceiving intuition, and if integrity is compromised it can compromise any of our bodily functions. Ok I'll give you an example. Ever eaten something and felt irritable or moody? Maybe even depressed or anxious? Well, it's now becoming clear that food and digestion affect our moods. If we eat something we have a possible intolerance or allergy to, EVEN if it's ever so mild, it changes our gut microbiota. The barriers of our intestinal walls become permeable (which they shouldn't be); the living organisms in our gut have feeding frenzy creating unwanted gas and fermentation; and undigested food particles from the allergen trigger an immune response. Yes, an immune response to food. Our very cells that protect us begin to recognize that food as an invader, and if we continue to expose ourself to that food it leaves us in a highly inflamed state. In response our gut bacteria grow out of balance, which effects the neurons in our gut that send messages to the brain. Causing fatigue, irritability, depression, anger, anxiety and more. If we don't take care and repair the gut, nothing works correctly. I knew this information, but really took it for granted. Gut microbiota and the balance of its organisms is essential to health. If we focus on any other area before the gut we may end up with lack luster results. So remember that fangirling antisocial anxiety I have? I could probably use some gut work fo sho.

3. Physical healing is impossible if we don't dump our emotional baggage.

I heard an inspiring talk by Dr. Deanna Minich that flipped my world around. She spoke about disease and how it clearly mirrors our life stories. Instead of looking at disease as something that was caused by a lifetime of inadequate nutrition or toxin exposure, look at disease as a symbol of what a person is manifesting or harboring. So the question here is, what does your disease say about you? Take Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome: what are you inflamed or irritated about in life? Are there emotions brewing inside contributing to your condition? As Dr. Minich posed these questions I couldn’t help but ponder my own health concerns. I deal with ongoing leaky gut, water retention, joint inflammation, fatigue and more. Through years of practice Dr. Minich found that “leaky gut = leaky life.” WOW. Let that sink in. A leaky life lacks integrity, boundaries, structure and body, much like the lack of substance in leaky gut. So is your leaky life and lack of integrity contributing to leaky gut? For me, I found a strong correlation and quickly realized that if I don’t take out my emotional garbage, my physical health may continue to suffer. So if you have an illness feel free to symbolically explore it’s meaning. I hope this helps you as much as it helped me.

4. My current "healthy" diet held hidden poisons.

You must think I’ve lost it by now. You follow me on Instagram, see the food I make and are probably thinking “you’re bat shit crazy, you eat perfectly healthy gtfo.” All right y'all hear me out on this one. With the ketogenic diet being all the rage I dove into the realm of stevia and sugar alcohols because they are "natural" sugar free alternatives that don’t effect insulin levels. Well, that’s not entirely true. Since sugar alcohols and stevia aren’t sugar they theoretically shouldn’t cause blood sugar jumps and insulin secretion. However, for some just the taste of sweetness tells the brain sugar is coming and the body prepares by secreting insulin. Quick reminder: insulin is pro inflammatory. To be honest, I never felt the best consuming those types of sweeteners and knowing this I now understand why. I was tricking my brain, and my body secreted unnecessary insulin causing underlying inflammation. On top of that, the manufacturing process to make sugar alcohols and stevia is quite deceptive. The starting product is often treated under extreme heat, pressure and with added chemicals companies are not entitled to tell you about. Mira Dessey gave a fabulous talk about food aditives that pretty much scared the shit out of me and knocked some sense into my head (in the best way possible). I would often look at a can of coconut milk and think “oh it’s just guar gum ill be fine!” Or stared at the bag of lime flavored grain free chips thinking “citric acid can't be that bad!” Sure, in small amounts over a long period of time it's fine to consume. But if guar gum, citric acid, stevia, sugar alcohols, yeast extract, natural flavors and other preservatives make it into your diet daily (as it did with mine) things can add up. So just be mindfull of how many adultered products you use daily. They can cause digestive issues, blood sugar imbalances, food intolerances and underlying inflammation in the long run.

What Diet(s) I Do, or Don't, Prescribe to.

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What a title! Are you confused yet? Lol. I was actually confused just writing it, do you capitalize the O in or? What about the T in to? UGH. Grammar probs. If you’re reading this Grandma, I’m SORRY. Granny is a bit of a grammar nazi. No hate though. Love you ;) Enough about grammar, you came here to read about diets. Specifically, what diet I would “call” myself.

Am I Paleo? Keto? Sugar free? LCHF? Raw?

When I first started to give a shit about my health I considered myself gluten free and then evolved to strict paleo. I deeply identified myself with paleo for about 2 years, scared to even eat peanut butter. Then about a year ago I found my health declining again and shortly read every book I could get my hands on about the ketogenic diet. I quickly submerged myself in the world of counting macros & obsessing about how many carbs were in broccoli. I lost about 10-15 lbs and it was the best I’ve EVER looked. I thought I had found my saving grace! Until… my adrenals crashed and I was back to square 1. But I wasn’t ready to let go of my keto identity and all the weight I’d lost, so I kept pushing until square 1 turned to square 0. I had to leave work, and spend a month recovering at home.

I was then introduced the book Medical Medium, where it’s recommended to do a 28 day raw food cleanse consisting of only raw fruits and vegetables. Once again, I dove right in and shortly thought I would be vegan forever. But even that failed after the month was up (shocker), gaining back all the weight I lost and then some. I was hypoglycemic, moody, bloated, swollen, in pain and had irregular periods. So I quickly reverted back to keto to try and fix things. 

Side note: If you want a post on vegetarian/ vegan diets and why they don't work for MOST, comment down below. 

Guess what happened.I burnt out AGAIN, and here I am today. Today I sit here on my couch, confused, worried about my health, and not identifying with a damn thing. But the ironic thing is, I couldn’t be happier about it.

In the past I wanted to identify with a diet SO badly. I craved that niche and romanticising that one day I’ll be telling this inspiring story about how paleo or keto or veganism saved me! But all I did was hit rock bottom. Just like relationships, you can’t force a diet to love you. I now notice striving to find my food niche led me down a hurtful road of binging, restriction, self-hatred and food confusion.

If I’m not paleo, keto or sugar free then what am I?

Kara. I’m fucking Kara. I’m a person, not a diet. I eat veggies, meat, fish, fat, fruit and sometimes-even sugar. I never eat gluten or dairy, but sometimes I eat butter. Sugar hates me, but chocolate is my weakness. I'm a fat advocate, but I don't want to call myself keto at the moment.

As human beings we constantly change and are so multifaceted it’s almost impossible to label our selves. Do you think our primitive ancestors gave a flying fuck about how many carbs they ate? NO. No they didn’t. They just ate what was available and made them feel good enough to thrive.

Now I understand in this world we can’t just “eat what’s available,” cuz God knows there’s a plethora of shit out there. But we can find the foods that make us thrive. We CAN find food freedom and happiness surrounding the way we eat. You DON’T have to prescribe to a diet if you don’t want to. Or if you do, more power to you. I’m not telling you to not try a diet if it interests you. I’m encouraging you to remember that food does not equal identity.

But don’t get me wrong; I’m still going to strive for optimal nutrition. That’s just who I am. If I read a book about a diet I’m interested in, hell ya I’ll try it! I might even profess myself as eating that certain way for a period of time. But the cool thing is, we have the ability to change our mind. Paleo might work for you right now, but in two years things may need to shift in a different direction. WHO KNOWS! All I know is I want to try a  life with out labels. I'm just a nutritionist trying to help others and get my crap together. Ya feel? 

Thanks for listening to my rant. Let’s just eat and be happy, kay? Much love, friends <3