Did you know these two processes go hand in hand? We often spend time thinking about our gut health and our sleep quality - but not necessarily in the same breath. But we need too.
Your sleep affects the health of your gut.
Sleeping is when your body gets a chance to repair. This is especially important for the gut as intestinal cells are replaced and regenerated every 3-5 days! This is much faster than other cells in the body (except blood cells).
While you’re sleeping your body is getting rid of damaged gut cells and replacing them with healthy ones. But you need high quality sleep for this process to run as efficiently as possible.
THE POWER HOUR
To get high quality sleep you should aim to maximize your sleep between 10pm and 2am. This window is known as the power hour because it is when the most restorative sleep takes place.
These are my 3 non-negotiables when it comes to improving sleep (and...
Our digestive system - the gut, gastrointestinal tract, GI tract, food tube - is SO important. It digests our food, which allows us to live. That’s a pretty big deal.
But, its importance extends well beyond that. The gut is intricately connected to many other body systems.
The one that I want to talk about today is the immune system.
A huge portion of your immune system is housed within the GI tract. In fact, 70-80% of the body’s immune cells are found in the gut (1).
And even more significant than all of those immune cells is all of the bacteria & other microbes. There are more bacterial cells than human cells in the human body.
The abundance and diversity of these microbes directly reflects the strength of your immune system. More microbes = stronger immune system.
It makes sense then that if we want to keep our immune system healthy & happy (which most of us want) that we should focus on gut health. Specifically our gut microbes.
To survive & thrive...
Turmeric is a native plant to Southeast Asia. Like its plant relative ginger, the part of turmeric that we consume is the rhizome (subterranean stem).
Turmeric has an earthy, bitter, slightly spicy flavour. It is used as a principal spice in Indian curries. And is an important tool in Ayurvedic medicine, used for its strong anti-inflammatory properties. Mentions of turmeric have been found in medical texts in India, China, Tibet & the Middle East for more than two thousand years (1).
North American researchers began to look into turmeric as an anticancer molecule after epidemiological studies reported 10-50% lower rates of certain cancers in India (2).
The word turmeric is often used interchangeably with curcumin, however this is somewhat misleading. Curcumin is just one of the active components of turmeric, but the most researched. Turmeric is the whole plant, which contains curcumin in addition to other active components. Most supplements will contain isolated...
Greens are easily forgotten in the winter. We tend to crave more cooked vegetables and warm meals. This is normal. But every now and again I find that I crave a salad.
In the winter it’s important to counteract the cooling nature of raw vegetables with foods that are warm in nature. It’s harder for our body to digest raw vegetables in the winter. Eating too many of them can leave us feeling heavy & bloated.
There are many ways to counteract the cooling nature of raw vegetables. I used two of these techniques in this recipe. The first is to pair raw vegetables with warm, cooked foods (ie. the sweet potato in this salad). The second technique is to use warming spices when flavouring foods. In this case I have used chili and cinnamon, both warming spices that also pair fantastically with sweet potato & avocado.
This recipe is part of my #cleanereatingchallenge to learn more about it check out my Instagram (@emilyfreistatternd) where I will be sharing tips to...
Have you ever noticed that you crave different foods in the winter than you did in the summer? Do you find your tastes change? That you’re cooking different foods for dinner?
Our bodies are designed to eat differently in the winter versus the summer. To honour this difference it is important to eat seasonally. And it will keep you feeling at your best.
Simply put, it means eating what is in season. In the summer there is an abundance of fresh green vegetables like lettuces, peas, and beans; and there are amazing berries and stone fruit. In the winter we have hearty vegetables that can be stored like potatoes, winter squash, and root vegetables; you may also find greens like kale, swiss chard and collards.
In the summer the abundant fruits and vegetables are often enjoyed raw, in their natural state. And this is what we crave - fresh, crisp, bright flavours. In the winter the fruits and vegetables usually need to be cooked. And once again, this...
Trouble sleeping? Feel like you’ve tried everything?
Have you considered your bedtime routine?
An important area to examine when you are not sleeping well is your nighttime routine. A good nighttime routine is crucial to set the stage for good sleep.
There are so many events throughout the day that may impact the quality of your sleep. But the hour before getting into bed is one of the most critical times to explore. What you do in the hour before bed sets the stage for the sleep to come.
A nighttime routine is personal for everyone so I like to have my patients decide on 3 or 4 things that they will do every night before they get into bed. With any routine repetition is key so it is important to do the same things every night (as much as you can). This repetition will solidify the routine in your head and signal to your brain that sleep is coming soon.
Turn your phone off
Step away from the computer
Dim the lights
Brew a tea or...
A healthy digestive system is vital to overall health. It is responsible for breaking down the foods we eat into important vitamins, minerals and macronutrients. It is also responsible for preventing certain toxins from getting into the bloodstream.
When the digestive system is not working properly symptoms like bloating, pain, acid reflux, burping, and flatulence begin to appear. Almost everyone experiences one or two of these symptoms every once in a while, this is not cause for concern. However, if new digestive symptoms are beginning to occur more frequently you may want to look closer at your digestive health.
One of the first places to look is what you are putting in your body, ie. the food you are eating. If you are consuming high amounts of processed, high-sugar foods there is a good chance your body will fight back at some point and let you know it can’t survive on those foods.
A second, less common, place to look is at your eating patterns and behaviours. The food we...
Sleep is a vital component of health. While you are sleeping your body repairs, heals, and rests. If sleep quality or length is affected the body sends off warning signals. These include the obvious - feeling fatigued - but also impaired digestion, poor concentration, decreased mood, and pain.
These tips address sleep-related problems I commonly see in practice. They are basic suggestions that have the potential for major impact.
Too many thoughts spiralling in your head can delay or prevent the onset of sleep. To remedy this try journaling before bed. Leave a notepad and pen on your nightstand and write down any thoughts, ideas, worries and/or next day to-do lists. This will clear your head and allow your brain to focus on sleeping.
Leave a window open or use a fan to improve air flow in the bedroom. The fabric of your bedding can also contribute to heat at night. Switch out synthetic sheets for organic cotton or...
Forest fire season has begun in BC. Along with the hazy skies and smoky smells there are health concerns associated with poor quality air. The smoky air can cause irritation of exposed surfaces like eyes, nasal passages, sinuses and throat. This irritation is felt as dryness and discomfort.
There are also tiny particles floating in the air (from the burn) that are small enough to penetrate your lung tissue. This is a big problem. Once these particles pass through the lung tissue they are able to get into the blood. From there they can travel anywhere in the body and cause inflammation and damage.
Stay inside. As a lover of nature, it’s not often that I recommend people stay indoors. But if the air quality is poor you are likely doing more harm than good by being outside. This includes exercise too; try and focus on gym workouts, yoga classes, and at-home activities. When indoors keep your windows closed and use your air...
Intermittent fasting seems to have buzzword status at the moment. But it also seems to trigger a lot of questions… What is it? Why would I do it? Is it safe?
Intermittent fasting has a historical origin. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did not have the luxury that we do of always having food at our fingertips. They did not know when they were going to have their next meal or what it would consist of. Often there would be long intervals between meals - enter intermittent fasting. However, for them it was not voluntary, it was a normal part of life.
There are a variety of ways to employ intermittent fasting. The more common types are:
This type is employed as it sounds. You alternate days of fasting with days where you consume a normal amount of calories. The fasting days are usually non-consecutive and you do consume food on the fasting days, but it is limited (~25% of your normal caloric intake).
The 5:2 diet is a form of alternate day fasting. This diet...