The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

The Microbiome, Pregnancy, and Children

We already know how important the gut is to the health and functioning of the body.  (Find my article A Healthy Gut in 4 Steps: This Week In Paleo here)

But did you know that the gut doesn’t just determine the health of our digestion or immune system but even the health of our brains and our offspring?

In fact, evidence is mounting that the microbiome (that collection of bacteria, fungi, and other creatures who colonize the colon, skin, etc) may determine whether you suffer from anxiety, depression, and may play a role in the development of autism in young children, among other things.

If you are pregnant, thinking of becoming pregnant, or have a young child, these are important things you should know. 

The Microbiome and Pregnancy

Before birth, the mother’s microbiome actually changes to produce extra lactobacillus (which helps the baby digest milk) as well as several other bacteria that give the infant an important start in the world, helping with their immune systems and digestion, as well as several other things.

These bacteria coat the vaginal wall in preparation for the infant’s trip through the birth canal.

However,  some mothers are placed on antibiotics while pregnant.  They are sometimes important but these broad spectrum antibiotics destroy both negative and positive bacteria, meaning fewer bacteria overall for the baby.

It is wise to seek a doctor with a well-rounded view and respect for the microbiome, one who is careful with prescriptions of antibiotics, especially during pregnancy.

The Journey of Birth

When it comes time to give birth, the journey through the birth canal is one of the most important moments for the microbiological quantity and quality of an infant.

That trip through the birth canal is vitally important for a new baby.  The microbiome of the vaginal wall infiltrates the babies mouth, eyes, ears, and gets into every mucous membrane, rapidly providing the important first colonization.

However, many babies are now born via cesarean section and therefore are not colonized by the bacteria on the vaginal wall, but rather by the skin of whoever they first spend time touching.  This is significant because the microbiota of the skin is different than what is present in a healthy gut.  

If C-sections are necessary (and they often are, though the medical community is beginning to admit they have historically been overused for many reasons) then many women are requesting or performing vaginal swabs to the mucous membranes of infants just after birth so that the infants can be colonized by the mother’s microbiome.

It might sound weird, but this could prove to be a vitally important procedure for the health, immune system, and psychology of children.

Since pregnant women spend nine months building this special colony for their baby, it’s a shame not to be able to pass it on, and may one day be shown to be quite damaging to the infant.  

Early Childhood

The first three years of life are vitally important for development of a child, especially their microbiome but many children experience ear infections early in life, or other issues which may be prescribed antibiotics.  

Studies on rats have shown that those kept sterile or “germ-free” develop social anxiety, even autistic-like features, as well as a penchant towards obesity and other diseases.

Not only that, but with animals from conventional farms being fed antibiotics to both prevent illness and promote fat storage, we are all are inadvertently consuming antibiotics through food when we eat conventional meat.  

Though there are times when antibiotics are necessary and can be lifesaving, it is generally agreed upon that they have been historically overused, often with little to no benefit and, it is being discovered, more and more detriment. In many cases, the condition would go away in time and may not even be a bacterial infection.

According to many medical professionals, it is often difficult to discern whether an issue is bacterial or a virus.  Because many doctors receive pressure from patients for relief or are determined to “cover their bases”, antibiotics have been overprescribed.  Pair that with the overuse of germ-killing products like hand sanitizer and it’s clear why there has been such a rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria, which can be deadly.

Probiotics

Most of us were probably placed on antibiotics at some point which threw our microbiome out of whack.  

And it’s important for us to work with the best information and knowledge we have to try to put a healthy gut back together. 

As adults, early childhood issues of the microbiome promote a range of conditions including obesity, diabetes, and associated illnesses, as well as diseases of the gut like Chron’s, and autoimmune conditions, allergies, and the like.

Psychologically there is growing evidence that an affected microbiome can stimulate anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

In several studies, as well as my work anecdotally, probiotics do seem to help many people improve mood, digestion, and symptoms of illnesses and conditions like irritable bowl syndrome. 

For those with depression and anxiety, I think it makes sense to take a probiotic and for anyone- children and adults- who have had to use rounds of antibiotics, I think it is valuable to take a probiotic.

The probiotics used in most supplements are those with heavy research backing their efficacy.  It’s hard to know just how much bacteria actually gets through the stomach acid with these probiotics, but several have special coatings to hopefully help them reach the colon intact.

I particularly like this probiotic for adults (find it here).  Though it has fewer colonies, it is supposed to be more effective, remaining intact through the stomach and small intestine so that it can reach the colon.

This is a probiotic recommended for children (find it here).  As with anything with kids, please make sure you get your doctor’s OK before giving these to your child.

Remember that a healthy diet is vital for the health of the gut as well.  As much as I’d love it, we can’t just take a supplement and be done with it.

If you’ve had success with probiotic therapy, I’d love to hear from you!  Which ones have worked for you?  Which haven’t?  And what have you done to improve your microbiome?

 

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Is weight loss harder the older you get?

Is weight loss harder the older you get?

Does it get harder to lose weight the older you get?

For many women who have already reached this point in their lives, the answer is an obvious YES.

Yet the question still remains of why this is the case, and if it is absolutely necessary. What is the science behind it? Can you avoid weight gain? How much of a challenge is it to keep the same shape and weight as before?

As it turns out, the answer is a bit unfortunate. There are real biological events that happen in your body as you age – particularly as a woman – that naturally lead to weight gain. But, fortunately, the more we know about them, the more equipped we are to take counter measures.

Here are the 4 most important reasons women in menopause gain weight:

1. Estrogen regulates appetite and fat storage

Arguably the most important facet of weight gain in menopause is decreased estrogen levels.

Estrogen receptors are located all throughout a woman’s body. They are particularly concentrated in the brain. This is important, because studies have shown that one type of estrogen receptor–estrogen receptor alpha (the other type is estrogen receptor beta)–plays an important role in energy homeostasis. That is – estrogen regulates how much energy your body burns.

In 2007, in a series of animal experiments described at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, researchers demonstrated how important estrogen is to the regulation of food intake, energy expenditure, and body fat distribution.

Professor of Psychiatry Deborah H Clegg led a group of researchers investigating two ER-alpha rich portions of the brain. There is a part of the brain called the ventromedial nucleus. This area has been long recognized to play a role in energy regulation.

Clegg and her colleagues used a new laboratory technique called RNA interference. This enabled them to deactivate the ER-alpha receptors in the ventromedial nucleus (but not other parts of the brain) in rats. When they did so, the animal’s energy levels and metabolic rates plummeted. The animals also developed insulin regulation issues, an intolerance of glucose, and weight gain, even though their calorie intake remained the same. 

This is so important it bears repeating:

Without estrogen in the ventromedial nucleus, rats ate the same amount of food as normal but developed severe weight gain, glucose issues, and low energy. Without estrogen, keeping everything else the same, they gained weight.

Plus, their weight was not evenly distributed. Instead, it went directly to the visceral, or abdominal area of the body. This area is linked to a much higher rate of inflammation and disease than fat in other locations.

Lowering estrogen activity in the brain throughout menopause and after has the same effect on women: the body natural starts to burn less fat, and to keep storing it in places like the abdomen.

2. Estrogen and progesterone combat insulin and cortisol

As I discuss at length in my program for weight loss, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s Solution (check it out here) – estrogen and progesterone play important roles in modulating insulin sensitivity.

Importantly, estrogen helps make you more insulin sensitive. As estrogen levels drop in menopause, this can be a big problem for keeping fat storage to a minimum, and especially around the abdomen, where it can be a health concern.

Importantly, estrogen and progesterone also help modulate cortisol levels. When estrogen and progesterone levels fall during menopause, it’s entirely likely that over time, the body shifts toward storing fat when calories are high (as opposed to building muscle), and reduces the amount of fat burned when calories are low (and burn muscle instead). This is an effect both of reduced cortisol suppression as well as reduced insulin sensitivity.

3. Muscle mass deteriorates more quickly than it used to

Oxidative stress, inflammation, and inactivity are important reasons that muscle mass decreases as women age.

Yet estrogen is also quite important. Estrogen helps move calcium into bones and therefore supports a strong skeleton.

Estorgen also helps build muscle.

Now, this might not make a lot of sense, since body builders are always talking about the importance of testosterone. Yet even male body builders recognize the importance of estrogen. The body needs a certain amount of estrogen to maintain androgen (male sex hormone, like testosterone) receptors, which then go on to stimulate muscle growth. Furthermore, estrogen receptor beta appears to encourage muscle growth itself. The process of muscle loss while aging – called sarcopenia – has been shown to be slowed by estrogen treatments (and estrogen receptor beta activity) in rats. Interestingly, these muscle-stimulating affects occur in both male and female mice.

4. When exercising the body doesn’t burn as much fat as it used to

Unfortunately, due to declining muscle mass and insulin sensitivity both, it becomes harder for the body to burn calories during workouts.

This is unfortunate, but  also not without its solutions. Women who switch to high quality weight-bearing exercises (which you can find, or example, in Noelle’s amazing Strong from Home workout program) do maintain muscle mass, and therefore high quality, effective workouts. They just have to good about it. This is partly why I recommend Noelle’s program so highly – it helps you craft a fitness plan that is the perfect amount of cardio, weight training, and challenge for you. 

You can be sure that the more you focus on maintaining muscle mass, the more intense and beneficial your workouts will be.

What to do about it

As I just mentioned above, you can help preserve the efficacy of your workouts by choosing ones that focus on lifting heavy weights. You can get an awesome program designed just for this purpose with Noelle’s wonderful Strong from Home

You can also do everything you can to keep inflammation to a minimum. This will help keep your body from building up stress hormone levels and storing fat in your abdomen. This means eating a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet full of organic vegetables and fruits, organ meats (here’s a supplement in case you do not like to eat liver), eggs, fermented foods (on this page are my favorites) and the rockstar superfood cod liver oil can go a long way.

Finally, you can work on supporting your estrogen levels. I do not recommend hormone replacement therapy. Sometimes, a small dose for a short period of time can work great as an interim fix. But  in the long term, it is probably best to focus on supporting estrogen with simple diet and lifestyle choices. You can do this getting plenty of high quality carbs (such as fruits and starches) and fats (such as olive oil and coconut oil) which can help boost estrogen production.

You may also be served by playing with your intake of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are estrogens found in plants. They occur in high doses in soy and flax, and in lower but still sometimes effective doses in legumes such as black beans and chick peas. For some people they hurt estrogen production, but for many women in menopause it can actually help. Start with a small dose, such as a bowl of chickpeas or hummus, once a day to see if it helps make a change.

I talk in more depth about the effect of hormones on weight maintenance in my manual for permanent weight loss for women, Weight Loss Unlocked: The Paleo Woman’s SolutionIf you’re looking to find a way to keep losing weight as you age, this may be a great resource for you. Plus, it’s 100% risk free – you can try the plans without any hassle or risk. Check it out here.

Importantly, I personally have not gone through menopause! Everything I’ve shared here I’ve learned through research. Please if you have any comments or ideas or experiences share them below!

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

#105: Hormonal Balance and Sex, Recovering From a Binge, & PMS and Soy

#105: Hormonal Balance and Sex, Recovering From a Binge, & PMS and Soy

Hey loves,

It’s episode 105!

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for a new episode, and head over to iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe!

To leave a review for the podcast (OR JOIN IN ON THE APPLE WARS!!) go to: http://coconutsandkettlebells.com/review. I would appreciate hearing from you more than I could possibly say!

This week, Noelle and I discuss hormonal balance and sex, recovering from a binge, & PMS and soy.

Got a question you’d like us to answer? Email us at paleowomenpodcast@gmail.com.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Listen right now here:

Play in new window | Download

10% of the funds we receive from our sponsors is donated directly to our partner charity, Thistle Farms, a place where women survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution receive help and support through residential programs, therapy, education, and employment opportunities. Because we get paid per download, you are actively supporting Thistle Farms by downloading our podcast each week.

Topics

[18:27] Hormonal Balance and Sex
[39:30] Recovering From a Binge
[51:41] PMS and Soy

Links!

http://www.thistlefarms.org

Stefani’s website: http://paleoforwomen.com

PrepDish

Prep DishPrep Dish is a subscription-based meal planning service with both paleo and gluten-free options. When you sign up, you’ll receive an email every week with a grocery list and instructions for prepping your meals ahead of time.

After only 1-3 hours of prepping on the weekend, you’ll have all of your meals ready for the entire week. You’ll save time and have amazingly delicious meals like Smoky Paprika Chicken Legs, Turkey & Zucchini Lasagna, and Almond Butter Cookies.

Allison, a Registered Dietician, Chef, and the founder of Prep Dish is offering listeners a free 2-week subscription! Go to http://prepdish.com/paleowomen to take advantage of this special deal.

Thanks for your support, and for listening! We absolutely love being a part of your lives.

dy for the entire week. You’ll save time and have amazingly delicious meals like Smoky Paprika Chicken Legs, Turkey & Zucchini Lasagna, and Almond Butter Cookies.

Allison, a Registered Dietician, Chef, and the founder of Prep Dish is offering listeners a free 2-week subscription! Go to http://prepdish.com/paleowomen to take advantage of this special deal.

Thanks for your support, and for listening! We absolutely love being a part of your lives.

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

Fruit Is Life: Snacks for Any Occasion

I love fruit and I love chips. There’s no mystery there.

But I also love convenience, especially when I’m out on the town or on a great hike.  And mangos don’t always fit in my purse!

How do those things go together?  Easy:  freeze dried fruit.

It’s delicious, it’s nutritious, it fits in my tiny clutch handbags and doesn’t get my hands sticky and gross on the run.

 It keeps well and its light and easy to carry. It’s the perfect snack.

Fruit sometimes gets a bad rap in the paleo community because of it’s relatively high sugar content (compared to other things most paleo folks consume).

However, fruit has been shown time and time again to improve inflammatory markers in people with chronic inflammation, provide important nutrients like Vitamin C as well as flavanoids and other anti-inflammatory compounds, is a great source of fiber, and it tastes DELISH.

It’s nature’s gift, so enjoy it.

Fresh fruit is obviously best, but there’s something wonderful about the convenience of freeze-dried that I just love.  Unlike regular dried fruit which is often coated in sugar, it’s fairly easy to find freeze dried fruit that has no added sugar.

Sugar isn’t even necessary with these delicious morsels of happiness, anyway.

And while there’s about as many brands of freeze dried fruit out there as you can imagine, these are a few of my new favorites which I have been thoroughly enjoying of late.

Jicama Chips

These jicama chips are no joke.  Did you even know they made chips from jicama?? Maybe it’s not dried “fruit” per se, but its awesome and delicious and I couldn’t write a snack post without letting you guys know about these little gems.

These particular ones are a bit spicy with chile and lime!  Yum!  Find Chile-Lime Jicama chips here.

Apple Chips

I’m also a huge fan of apple chips.  They’re so sweet/sour/yummy.  Apple is an awesome source of fiber and a lower glycemic fruit choice compared to some others.

These apple chips in particular are my fav.  They’re made from just apples and cinnamon, no added sugar.  Find Bare apple chips on Amazon here. 

Banana and Coconut Chips

Does it get much better than bananas and coconut?  This particular snack comes with dried coconut and chewy dried banana mixed together.  What a great snack with fruit, fiber, and good fats!  Find banana coconut chips here. 

Strawberry Chips

Of all the fruits, there is a very large body of evidence that strawberries are quite anti-inflammatory.  They’re also one of my favorite fruits EVER.  I like to get my dried ones from Steve’s Paleo Goods (find them here) but for freeze-dried strawberry chips, these do the trick.

Find strawberry chips here. 

I hope you all enjoy these yummy snacks!!

What are your favorite paleo snacks for on-the-go?

 

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So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.

#104: Protein Intake and Ketogenic Diets, Hormonal Fluctuations, & Assessing Weight and Health

#104: Protein Intake and Ketogenic Diets, Hormonal Fluctuations, & Assessing Weight and Health

Hey loves,

It’s episode 104!

Be sure to check back every Tuesday for a new episode, and head over to iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe!

To leave a review for the podcast (OR JOIN IN ON THE APPLE WARS!!) go to: http://coconutsandkettlebells.com/review. I would appreciate hearing from you more than I could possibly say!

This week, Noelle and I discuss protein intake and ketogenic diets, hormonal fluctuations, and assessing weight and health.

Got a question you’d like us to answer? Email us at paleowomenpodcast@gmail.com.

Subscribe: iTunes | RSS

Listen right now here:

Play in new window | Download

10% of the funds we receive from our sponsors is donated directly to our partner charity, Thistle Farms, a place where women survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution receive help and support through residential programs, therapy, education, and employment opportunities. Because we get paid per download, you are actively supporting Thistle Farms by downloading our podcast each week.

Topics

[10:15] Protein Intake and Ketogenic Diets
[33:05] Hormonal Fluctuations
[43:06] Assessing Weight and Health

Links!

VOTE for The Paleo Women Podcast: http://coconutsandkettlebells.com/vote
Noelle’s website: http://coconutsandkettlebells.com

Stefani’s website: http://paleoforwomen.com

PCOS Unlocked: The Paleo Women’s Solution

Nutritional Therapy Association

NTa logoIf you’re interested in helping people find resolution with nutrition and lifestyle changes, the Nutritional Therapy Association can help you pursue your passion.

The NTA offers foundational holistic nutrition education through two distance learning program, the Nutritional Therapy Practitioner Program, and the Nutritional Therapy Consultant Program. Each program allows you to have the flexibility of self-paced study, while still providing in-person support with instructor-led workshops. When you sign up for one of the programs, write the name “Paleo Women” in the referral section on the application, and you’ll receive $100 check back in the mail to put towards supplies.

To learn about how you can become a NTP or NTC, check out the course catalogs and program information at http://nutritionaltherapy.com.

PrepDish

Prep DishPrep Dish is a subscription-based meal planning service with both paleo and gluten-free options. When you sign up, you’ll receive an email every week with a grocery list and instructions for prepping your meals ahead of time.

After only 1-3 hours of prepping on the weekend, you’ll have all of your meals ready for the entire week. You’ll save time and have amazingly delicious meals like Smoky Paprika Chicken Legs, Turkey & Zucchini Lasagna, and Almond Butter Cookies.

Allison, a Registered Dietician, Chef, and the founder of Prep Dish is offering listeners a free 2-week subscription! Go to http://prepdish.com/paleowomen to take advantage of this special deal.

Thanks for your support, and for listening! We absolutely love being a part of your lives.

--------

So, just as a heads up - some links above may be my affiliate links, which means I get a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Doing so is no additional cost to you, but helps me tremendously. Your support is SO greatly appreciated, so thank you in advance if you choose to do so. Check out my entire disclosure to know exactly how things work.