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.