5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood

For those of you who have read my about me page, you know that I have been researching and improving my health for over 18 years.  Last year I completed a sports nutrition certification and realized, yet again, how many of the health issues we face today can be altered and slowly improved with just the right tweak in our diets.  I believed so much in it, that in just 1 year, I had completely turned my life around from removing the foods that were causing me pain and “flare-ups” of my diseases.  Depression was not going to get me once I identified what foods made me worse.

So today, I was minding my own business gathering ingredients for a nice big salad, when a processed food display jumped right up and tried to grab me.  <<< not really, but it almost did.  Chocolate is my weakness.  But this chocolate was on something that is a known flare for me and causes me to crash so much right after eating it I feel like I can’t move.  I become that tired.  So I knew what I had to do and I want to help you do the same.  Let’s grab some of these great foods instead!

5 Great Foods to Boost Your Mood:

  1. Go bananas <<< technically I linked to my favorite dry snack, but I love this version of dried bananas.  So what do these yellow fruits help us with?  Bananas employ mood-lifting power, with their combination of vitamins B6, A, and C; fiber; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein; and healthy carbohydrates.  What happens in the body?  You get a quick boost from the fructose as well as sustaining energy from the fiber, which helps prevent a blood sugar spike and ensuing drop in energy as well as mood.  Mind you, this is natural and not some made up thing like “high fructose corn syrup”.  <<< icky for autoimmune responses…well just plain bad honestly. So I always stay away from that.  At our house, we tend to use bananas in smoothies, but if they have been there and are ripe, I will actually cut them up and put them in the freezer for later use as “banana cubes” in my blender.
  2. Sunflower seeds (or butter) <<< I love this stuff times 10.  I was doing research a few years ago on a theory I had that my prior acid-blocking supplements (completely weaned myself off them using natural remedy) were causing an issue with my magnesium levels.  Why is this important?  Magnesium, in addition to regulating mood, is vital for many body functions to operate normally. Magnesium deficiency can be responsible for feelings of fatigue, nervousness, and anxiety (triggers increase in adrenaline), and it’s been linked to various mood disorders. However, stable magnesium levels can help the body and mind achieve a calm and relaxed state.  Some scientific studies have shown magnesium supplementation to be beneficial in treating major depression, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia.  Boom!  There it was yet again.  That feeling to go down the right path and unravel the mess my doctors, no offense to anyone, had caused in my gut.
  3. Dark chocolate is the bomb dot come in my world.  <<< the one linked I often see in my grocery store as a savior if I am desperate to have something chocolate.  I have to read all ingredients, but this one is safe for me.  The organic cacao powder is my go-to for smoothies, baking and drinks of the hot kind.  Yummy.  How does this help me?  Sorry men, but PMS time, seriously, come in the house with this in the shopping bag.  Here is why: Among its many nutrients, cacao beans contain a slightly stimulatory, mood-boosting caffeine derivative called theobromine. Theobromine, a molecule with a structure similar to caffeine, has been shown to support mood and increase focus:)  I am big into plant-based or phyto healing, so as this chocolate melts on your tongue, a number of reactions occur, including the release of serotonin in the brain and mood-elevating endorphins in the body.  Yummy.
  4. Pass me my green tea y’all.  <<< I linked my all-time favorite recent discovery of this muscle recovery tea I drink after a hard day of yoga.  So why is tea, especially green tea helpful?   Tea, the green variety more so, provides catechin antioxidants that have been shown to support brain function and promote proper balance of the stress hormone cortisol.  Further, a toasty mug of tea can supply you with L-theanine, an amino acid that might promote you being alert a bit more.  Also a report published in Public Health Nutrition showed that study participants who sipped four or more cups of green tea daily reported having a more positive mood.  I recently started making my green tea 30 minutes ahead of time in the fridge using cold water and mint leaves.  I then drink it cold and I know that provides a metabolism boost as well.
  5. Walnuts were also on my list of foods to eat.  <<< again, I have to be careful.  No glaze, no almonds (I personally found out they cause me stomach pain…who knew? Autoimmune is a tricky navigation.), no additives.  JUST walnuts!  Why are they helpful?  Walnuts contain a handful of components that contribute to the elusive good mood, including omega-3s, vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein, and folate.  Higher blood levels of omega-3s have been linked with better mood and lower rates of depression, while lower blood levels of omega-3s have been associated with higher rates of depression and negative feelings.  Boom!  Grab you some walnuts friends.  Or nutty friends…either way. Normal suggested dosage of omega-3 oils is one gram (1,000 mg) per day. You’ll get about the same amount, as well as a healthy dose of fiber and protein, in just half an ounce of walnuts.  I put them on my yogurt, but yogurt is a whole different story, so read the ingredients!  I personally have been enjoying some Brown Cow yogurt…but prior to that is was the Stonyfield Farms kind.  Again, navigate so that you can actually read all the ingredients as I discuss in my 4 Weeks to Wellness course.  You don’t want things you can’t read going into your body.  It really does flare all kinds of things that are just bringing you down.

Thank you guys for reading this and go out and clean your pantry today!  Stock up for better health!

Anything's possible

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Ease Depression with these 5 Steps

This article is not medical advice, but it is intended to help you on your journey.  While I don’t know if anything can actually prevent you from becoming depressed, I believe that my diligence helped me come out of it.  The signs that I personally experienced were from my own combination of invisible diseases.  I was diagnosed with “secondary depression” stemming from pain.

Symptoms you might experience:

  1. Loss of energy or fatigue even after sleeping.
  2. Feelings of worthlessness or guilt that you are to blame.
  3. Weight loss or gain…in my case it was gain.
  4. Thoughts of suicide or just nothingness…as in what would happen if you didn’t exist?
  5. Restlessness, insomnia, or wanting to sleep all day long.
  6. No pleasure in any or all activities, and/or no joy or happiness in other things that used to bring you joy.
  7. “Hermit” behavior and not speaking to anyone.

While there are certainly more symptoms, these are just a few that are warning signs your body is trying to tell you something.  What do you think your body is trying to tell you?  There could be many underlying health problems mimicking depression that can be corrected and/or helped once noted.

5 steps to take if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms:

  1. Have your thyroid checked, your vitamin levels and possibly even your adrenal glands.  If you open the link on thyroid, in the fine print of the article, it says this:  A 2005 study found that subjects with Hashimoto’s disease displayed high frequencies of lifetime Depressive Episodes, Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Social Phobia, and Primary Sleep Disorders.  What had I been trying to tell my doctor for over a year?  That there was a link.  When he refused, seriously, to listen to me I went to a functional medical doctor instead.  The body gives us these warning signs as a way of letting us know that we really are not in balance.  I could see that I was not, and definitely knew something brought it on because never in my life had I felt so empty.
  2. Get more Vitamin D.  I take this one right here, but have your levels checked first.  I started looking into the most pure form of phytotherapy, or plant-based nutrition supplements, and was personally sold by the methods of how this company preserved the nutrients in the most readily available form.  I read that Vitamin B-12 and other B vitamins play a role in producing brain chemicals that affect mood and other brain functions. Low levels of B-12 and other B vitamins such as vitamin B-6 and folate may be linked to depression.  So I also decided to take a gluten-free multivitamin.
  3. Check and see if you suffer from food intolerance as it a real thing. Like most people, I used to think that food intolerance caused unpleasant reactions like diarrhea, swelling of lips or tongue, etc. I would not have associated my food with what was happening in my brain and gut until I studied the effects of what I was eating.  I journal the questionable items which might have sugar or gluten to see if that is what triggers my response or mood shift now.  When I am away from foods I need to eat, and make do with foods that I should NOT eat, there is a consequence in my body.  My body warns me almost immediately now.
  4. This one is hard, but drink less caffeine.  Anxiety often happens along with depression, and too much caffeine can make you nervous, jittery, or anxious.  There is no clear link; however, it is well known that cutting out sodas and sugary drinks that spike your energy and then leave you in a slump and replacing with water will leave your blood sugar levels at a more normal balance, which will, in fact, help you in the long run.  Plus you might just sleep better this breaking the cycle.
  5. Exercise in some way shape or form daily.  People get mad at me for pointing this one out usually, but it brings us back to the endorphins. I wrote about this a while back, but it is true that endorphins help us.   In my own way, I always have dark chocolate here, so I hope you opened my old post up there as it has a funny clip, plus I do yoga and walk, get outside, etc.  Truly is life saving to get exercise.

While these things might seem insignificant to others who do not know what it’s like to be trapped in a world of nothingness, these tips really could help save a friend’s life.  Keep the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on a card as well.

Articles I have written on autoimmune can also help you in your research on gluten intolerance, leaky gut and more.

  • The great puzzle takes you back to my allergy tests.
  • Fog speaks on what it’s like to have brain fog.
  • War on me talks about my inside battle.
  • Motivational Monday on this day talked about tips I used to get by daily in pain.
  • The Thief is one of my faves and talks about old age being a bitch.

sadness

5 tips to boost your mind.

Brain based research has been around a very long time.  I remember the first time it came around when I was teaching…how can I use this information to better my teaching?  To engage students more?  I used techniques that were thought to be ahead of the times…each and everyday in my class.  I never thought that as I got older I would be applying that same idea to my research in depression and what causes us to become depressed.  I found so many links to neurotransmitters in the gut I was astonished.  I was finally getting somewhere and like each and every time I have found something important, I get this tingle.  I knew that I was on the right path to helping others like me.  Here are a few things I learned to boost my head:

  1. The dreaded word exercise.  You know the whole a body in motion tends to stay in motion theory?  Same for a body at rest. A 2010 study on primates published in Neurosciencei also revealed that regular exercise not only improved blood flow to the brain, but also helped the monkeys learn new tasks twice as quickly as non-exercising monkeys, a benefit the researchers believe would hold true for people as well.”  I just wanted to throw that in because sometimes I read scientific research for fun.  But let’s suppose you have brain fog like I do…it comes from things like fibromyalgia as well as my hemochromatosis.  Sometimes, I can’t remember things, so on days that I do yoga, I feel amazing and notice I have less brain fog.  I know this is the day I can read up on new things and process better.  So if you have a hard time learning new things, exercise before.
  2. The good fat…coconut oil.  Sooooo.  My family has a track record of some pretty ermmm crappy genes.  I have inherited a few, but the thing I am concerned about it that at such a young age, I started showing signs of the above brain fog I mentioned.  The brain needs glucose and it actually manufactures it’s own insulin to convert glucose in your bloodstream into it’s food…if it is starving, think Alzheimer’s patients.  What I would like to know, is where was this research about 17 years ago that I am about to share?  Maybe it was known…maybe not.  BUT, I wish I could have slipped my grandpa some bulletproof coffee.  What am I talking about?  This!  According to research by Dr. Mary Newport, just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or 7 level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.”  P.S. That link is to one neat coffee recipe I found.
  3. Fix your gut…but seriously.  I will never forget the day I started my second brain research.  It was amazing to me what my doctors had missed when they had put me on proton pump inhibitors, and I started telling everyone who would listen to get off them.  For those wondering, that’s acid blockers like omeprazole.  Anyway, my gut was a mess, my acid reflux was a mess, but the pills actually were making everything worse.  I got off them, and learned what gut health meant.  It could actually be it’s own post…and oh, it was.  Up there I linked it.  But seriously…your gut bacteria is actually closely linked to food.  That is why I counsel all my clients, ALL my clients, to tell me how they are eating.  We really get into it and I start to get them to see a pattern.  Because let’s face it, when you tell people your food is actually making you crazy, they get a little mad at you.  Even if they know they need to eat better and get off processed foods, and white sugar.  Probiotics are your friend.
  4. Vitamin D.  This one is quite easy, but often overlooked.  I went for years before anyone even thought to check my levels..and here I am not supposed to go out of the house without SPF 50.  But let’s not check her levels.  Hmmm.  Moving on.  IF appropriate sun exposure is not an option, cough porphyria, not an option, then get on readily available vitamin d.  Basically it’s liquid form.  Just get checked.  Don’t skip this.
  5. Meditate.  You knew it was coming probably.  Since I completed my 200 hours of Vinyasa yoga teacher study…I know that I need quiet time.  Okay, well, I kind of have a problem with noise now that I didn’t have before fibromyalgia anyway, but seriously, meditation is superb.  After only 20 minutes, we start to show a decrease in beta waves, which is basically like we are learning how to halt the processing part.  I know that I have probably put this in here at some point, but one such interesting brain researcher who I love is Jill Bolte Taylor.  Her understanding of the brain after her stroke is outstanding and I cry every single I watch it.  I can’t explain why…it’s just wonderful.  Okay, maybe I can explain a little.  I think about the part where she talks about not having to process and how she can just float…and everything seems to be a beautiful experience and that my friends, that is what meditation at the highest form would be like for me.  If I was there.  Which is why I keep practicing.  Because sadly, I have a hard time.  Imagine that.  This point is technical, but it’s really interesting. The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, and it turns out this is because we’re actually loosening the connections of particular neural pathways. This sounds bad, but apparently it’s not.

I created my own way of healing and invite you to join us in the Head|Heart|Health Club to learn more.

Quiet the mind

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Autoimmune help on Christmas Eve.

Hi friends.  I wonder how many of you suffer from autoimmune diseases and just don’t realize it?   It’s been one year since I gave up processed foods, sugar, flour and any word on an ingredient list I couldn’t pronounce or immediately recognize.  I have good days and bad days just like anyone else.  It’s been almost 2 years since I started figuring out what triggers my “flare ups” and mood swings.  I still don’t have it down to a science the way I want to.  For example, yesterday my children and I made a gluten-free eggnog cake.  Sounds delicious huh?  It was.  I have everything on Pinterest🙂  Anyway, after eating it and drinking my tea, I began to feel weird.  I got a bad headache and my throat started hurting…signs there was something that was triggering an autoimmune reaction.  Later, bloating.  When I woke up today, red eyes that were sticky.  If you have been following me for a while, you might recall when I started putting all this together.

Bad food triggers bad responses.  Period.

I was doing research on neurotransmitters and the brain…but more specifically how food triggers reactions in the stomach to the brain thus causing depression and/or mood swings that come out of no where.  Anyway, that was last year and you can find it by searching for “New Year, New Brain?” over there on the side search thing a ma jig.  I can’t stop researching.  I probably can…but I haven’t yet.  So a friend suggested a while back that I get a light box to help with my moods during the winter as it’s harder on me.  Fibromyalgia flares up in the cold, there are people making things I can’t eat, and after 38 years of basically eating whatever anyone put in front of me, including sushi, it’s difficult for someone who loves food to be able to cope with what my body is doing to me.  It doesn’t help that every single time we go out, no matter how hard my dad tries, he passes me the bread when we get it and I say no thank you and he keeps saying “I’m so sorry.  I forgot.”

So I came across this interesting talk, and I wanted to put it out there as a reminder that there really are things we can still control without pharmaceuticals.  I know that I am the rare person trying to reverse this without “drugs”, but more and more people are thinking about this I hope.  So here it is, Brain Chemistry Life-hacks:

My husband was just shaking his head at me as I listened to this “guy”, you know a clinical neuroscientist, because he tells me to move more.  I know exercise is important.  I do.  I get it.  That’s why I go to yoga, but I don’t go enough.  So I need to change that.  I need to go at least 3 times a week.  It can be 2 yoga days and 1 walking day, but it does matter.  I have GOT to do better…at something I used to like doing.  The mind is very powerful and we have to learn how to control it as I believe it’s the key to helping people like me fight off the diseases.  Once my body is brought back into fully functioning mode, I have to take care of it better.

Getting autoimmune help is just a matter of learning your body and how it reacts.

So if you are like me, you have autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia or anything that causes flares/pain, pay attention to what you are doing.  Eating.  Putting into your body.  Stay away, far far away, from sugar.  Do not feel bad you are not putting “cocaine” as Steve Ilardi calls it into your body…he gets to that at around 8 minutes in.  Listen carefully (as a side note, I use only coconut palm sugar or pure maple now as it breaks down differently.  I also take Omega-3 supplements, mine, so see the tab Vitalize You for how to purchase what I use.  Everything I take is all-natural, with no additives, and is made using phytotherapy or plant based methods.)  It became so important to my health, that we started a business called Vitalize You Wellness.

This video runs about 10 minutes and if you are having a hard time during the Holiday season, really pay attention.  You can help your own moods, depression, and life.  You can.  So my gift to you is to think about happy thoughts, get a light box if needed, take care of yourself, go to yoga or exercise, grab a buddy, and don’t ruminate on those negatives in your head.  Don’t.  Experience changes the brain.  Change your thoughts.

** Author’s note, this was written before I went through 200 hours of yoga teacher certification, completely re-trained my body to move again, and then was additionally trained in using yoga to help with pain and arthritis.

Gift 2 you

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War on me…

The invisible war inside me threatens to take me down.

I suspect that if I were to take the posts about my food issues and put them together in a book, it would be helpful to many people.  I will briefly try to explain what has happened to my body as best I understand it.  When I was born, I was born with the C282y gene that the Irish people needed.  It not being the potato famine and all that, it continues to function in the way it would have by holding onto iron.  Basically, it is thought that this protein functions to regulate iron absorption, and mine is “broken” so to speak. Luckily, the porphyria cutanea tarda kicked in and gave me blisters all over and turned my urine dark.  Warning!  Warning!  Anyway, you can see other posts about all that.  Just use the search button.

So we have a kid loaded up on iron, fed by well water, eating collard greens like they are going out of style and taking her Flintstone vitamins.  Anyone see what’s happening?  Yes, you over there.  Poisoning myself.  That would be correct.  Because my body has no way of getting rid of the access iron.

Now let’s throw in mononucleosis at age 15 which left behind some Epstein-Barr virus and find out that EBV latently persists in the individual’s B cells for the rest of the individual’s life.  Hmmm.  Not sure what happened with this, but I KNOW it was reactivated about 4 years ago which started causing a number of problems and thus spawning more invisible diseases.

Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis was found when my body starting attacking itself several years ago.  To use a bit from the Mayo Clinic:  Hashimoto’s disease is a condition in which your immune system attacks your thyroid, a small gland at the base of your neck below your Adam’s apple. The thyroid gland is part of your endocrine system, which produces hormones that coordinate many of your body’s activities.
Read that part again about coordinating MANY of your body’s activities.  READ it.  MANY.  I exhibited every SINGLE one of the symptoms for all of these diseases, but never in my life had a light-bulb gone off as when my good friend told me to read about Hashimoto’s.  I’m going to let you use the link above if you want to read more about Hashi’s but seriously it was the worst diagnosis.  I just didn’t know it yet.

When I started to feel like I had the flu every single day for the last 3 years, I should have known something more was coming.  The truth is, I did know.  I knew I had fibromyalgia, I knew I was living with pain and the swollen tender points daily, but what I didn’t know was that it was so hard for people to understand and/or believe.  From what I can tell, it is usually triggered by an underlying cause.  Read more about fibromyalgia here.

All this bring me up to date, but what I left out was what I did in between to feel better.  As the years went on, the extreme sensitivity to cold got to me.  My bones ached to their very core.  Still do, but cold is worse.  My stomach bloated like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon.  I would have to go to the bathroom more than normal people, but still couldn’t lose weight.  It was painful.  I went through all kinds of tests, again that portion is in the blog if you search.  Giving up gluten as BEST I could was not good enough.  I really had to be serious.  Then I suspected there was another trigger,  so I gave up sugar in November.  That was very, very, very difficult.  I felt like Paula Deen came over and took away my Southern License.

I am not teaching.  I actually could not continue.  The pain, fatigue, constant contact with infection had my body fighting hard just to stay alive.  Not to mention the phlebotomies, and the fact that now my blood cells are considered Microcytic Anemia stage.  I was dizzy, it was hard to get my breath, and my exhaustion was at the highest it had been since I could remember.

I will not go down without a fight.

I started a process by researching all-natural supplements and what would help my body.  I got off acid-blockers as my stomach was already having issues with digestion so that did not actually help.  I started taking apple-cider vinegar in water.  I added probiotics, see the tab here called Vitalize You for more on that, and I added vitamin D as well as a gluten-free supplement called It’s Vital.  I still have bad days.  Flare-ups, and days I stay in my pajamas, but the good days are now finally catching up to the bad days and for that I am thankful.  I am working with my all-natural supplements business and I am spreading awareness of “invisible” diseases because they sure as hell aren’t invisible on the inside.  Not at all.

Changed

Here is the Work With Me tab if you are interested in learning more on how I changed my life.

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Redemption…

I read this post today and felt someone needed to hear it.  I am not going to beat a dead horse; however, I am going to say that unfortunately, a few people in my life have not understood where I was coming from or what I was going through the past 4 years.  I was quiet with my other diseases as I thought it was expected.  When my friend suggested I start this blog, well, I did so under an avatar because I wanted to be honest about what was happening.  I personally believe “normal” is just a setting on a dryer too, and too often people hide what is going on inside their heads for fear of repercussion.  That isn’t who I am, and never will be.

So today, a friend shared this:

I am grateful for my supportive friends and family who have gone out of their way to make special meals and take me to special restaurants.
I feel so blessed to be where I am today, compared to the beginning of my journey…when I slept under two blankets in my Los Angeles apartment, when I had constant brainfog and needed to sleep for 11 hours to feel rested, when I was anxious all of the time, when I was losing my hair, when I had carpal tunnel in both hands, when I was addicted to caffeine and sugar… when I felt that I couldn’t do anything.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was ending, it became a butterfly”

This is a very personal quote from my Hashimoto’s journey. I thought my life was over as a result of this diagnosis, but I now realize that Hashimoto’s has made me a better person, the person I am today.
Mark Hyman, MD once said: “I didn’t choose this type of lifestyle, my body chose for me”, and this really resonates with me.

The person who wrote this is Dr. Izabella Wentz.  I don’t know her at all.  In fact, I just found her site today.  What I like about what she said, is that it’s honest.  The doctor who told me about mine acted like it was no big deal.  Period.  No one, and I mean no one, put anything together for me.  They left me alone to hurt, and sometimes, I would cry in their office as I asked them what more we could do.  I got blank looks and was told perhaps I needed antidepressants.

So after copious amounts of research, I have finally put together a timeline of what actually went “wrong” in my body.  I know what happened.  I also know how to “fix” it.  The crazy thing is, this lady put it together around the same time too and I think she has a better understanding of What’s Really Going on in Hashimoto’s?

The bottom line is, because of my Iron Overload, and the push to make me anemic, it tipped the scale in the wrong direction.  Trying to “fix” (I use that word loosely as there is no cure) my PCT/HH by numerous phlebotomies led my body into a state of attack I was in no way prepared for.  Ever.  Because all of my conditions have the same symptoms, with the exception of the latest, the food intolerance, I didn’t know what was going on.  I have a path and I strongly encourage anyone out there suffering with Hashimoto’s not to wait too long to start healing yourself.

redemption