13 Tips to Better Sleep
August 26, 2021
We all know how important it is to get a good night's sleep, yet it seems to elude most of us occasionally or, even worse, chronically. As our days are jam packed with things to do and more stress than ever before, getting a good night's sleep is critical to maintaining a healthy body.
I've put together a list of things I have personally done to help get a more restful sleep.
1. Create a Sleep Sanctuary. Make your bed every day, turn down the covers at night, invest in quality bedding. Keep your bedroom clean and clutter free.
2. Set the thermostat to a cool setting - for me that is 74 or cooler.
3. Mimic Mother Nature by lowering the lights throughout the house at night. Dimmer switches, table lamps and battery operated "candles" create a cozy, relaxed feeling at night.
4. Turn off the TV and remove it from your bedroom.
5. Minimize exposure to electronics at night. Dimming your devices is helpful as is setting a Do Not Disturb schedule on your phone. Preferably leave your phone in another room, but who am I kidding, I know I can't do it.
6. Eat something. Often we wake up because of low blood sugar which then triggers the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol. If you find yourself waking around 1:00 - 3:00 a.m., try eating a light snack of fat and protein before bed - something like a piece of cheese, handful of nuts or peanut butter and crackers.
7. Create a Bedtime Routine. A relaxing bath, hygiene rituals, setting out clothes for the morning, a cup of herbal tea.
8. Reading or a podcast story before bed are a great way to relax your mind and lull you to sleep. A white sound machine/app or a fan may also put you to sleep.
9. Improve your breathing. Focus on some cleansing deep breaths before you drift off to sleep and then train yourself to keep your mouth closed while sleeping. James Nestor, author of Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art, says we "short circuit" the systems in our body and our overall energy when we breathe through our mouths. Learn more here: https://www.mrjamesnestor.com/
10. Minimize pain in your body. We all get aches and pains - whether it is from too much physical exertion, injury, arthritis or something else. Taking 2-4 Intenzyme Forte before bed is a great benefit to me to minimize inflammation.
11. Hormone fluctuations can disturb sleep. Neuro Calm and Cortisol Manager are two supplements that may help stabilize hormones and promote a more restful sleep.
12. Go to bed when you're tired and sleep in when you can.
13. Try not to stress if you're not sleeping through the night. Our ancestors recognized something they called "Second Sleep". If you wake in the night and find yourself fretting about something or staring at the ceiling, change your focus or even get out of bed for a few minutes, use the restroom, get a drink of water or a warm cup of herbal tea, read - just don't check your email or turn on the TV. Adjust your bedding and pillows, get relaxed and quietly fall back to sleep.
I hope these tips help you drift off into a blissful, healing sleep. Good night.
Bucket List - Florida Keys
June 1, 2021
Last month my dad and I completed a bike ride through the Florida Keys. At 83, my dad is a life-long avid bike rider. It’s not uncommon for him to ride 20 miles for breakfast or to take a 30 mile leisure ride, traveling the back streets and bike paths threaded throughout our town. Getting out on his bike at some point most everyday gives him a purpose and a sense of freedom and youthfulness. When I was a kid, he’d often take the whole family out on a “Mystery Bike Ride” with my mom, sisters and me trailing behind like a proud mama duck leading her brood of ducklings. For years he’s talked about biking through the Florida Keys - a bucket list item to be sure. This year, we decided there’s no time like the present!
Dad and I traveled to Miami to begin our biking adventure. The full distance along Highway 1 from Key Largo south to Key West is 100 miles. We started out at Tavernier, Mile Maker 90. On day 1 of our two day ride, we rode 46 miles against a strong coastal head wind, with 80% humidity, intense sun and 80+ degree temperatures. We crossed at least 20 bridges, including a one mile long bridge and a second 2.2 mile long span across the milky turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. We spent the night in Marathon, just north of the 7 Mile Bridge.
On day two, the prospect of crossing the famous 7 Mile Bridge with strong winds and a long incline, required some reconsideration. The intensity of the winds blowing from the south the day before took some of the wind from our collective sails on day 2. We opted for a comfy van ride for a portion of day 2, and got back in the saddle 15 miles outside of Key West. We road to Mile Marker 0, steps from the southernmost point in the United States, where we celebrated our 60+ mile ride with a beer at the Blue Parrot in downtown Key West.
So many thoughts went through my mind as my dad and I rode for miles together, sometimes side by side and others with me following behind. We traveled through beautiful neighborhoods where we avoided coconuts laying on the bike path, along serene paths lined with swampy mangroves and curly tailed lizards darting across the trail, over windy historic bridges with nothing but the ocean surrounding us, and through congested city streets. I said lots of prayers for our safety along what was often a treacherous route - and was happy my husband couldn’t see the perilous traffic I was surrounded by more than once while crossing a bridge, with the wind pushing me sideways. In many ways I felt like I was giving my dad an opportunity to complete his adventure and I know he felt he was passing on a spirit for adventure to me.
I’ll always remember the beautiful ocean views and the thrill of the ride itself, but more importantly, I will remember the week I spent with my dad, admiring his self-proclaimed “bum at heart” spirit, enthusiasm and commitment to keep going, regardless of age. And more than anything, I’m grateful.
Antibiotics, Colonoscopies and Your Gut Microbiome
April 6, 2021
In recent years, the health and diversity of the trillions of bacteria living in the human gut have been recognized as an important component relevant to overall wellness. While several factors can influence gut health, today I’m going to address two common occurrences that may disrupt the gut microbiome: antibiotic use and colonoscopy prep.
Antibiotics are live savers designed to kill bacterial infections. Broad-spectrum antibiotics kill a wide variety of bacteria, both good and bad, while narrow-spectrum antibiotics target specific bacteria. Unfortunately, we have all become familiar with the overuse and misuse of antibiotics and the proliferation of antibiotic resistant strains of destructive bacteria.
Perhaps in response to the overuse of antibiotics, fear of taking antibiotics has become a concern among some people. In particular, some are concerned about disrupting or destroying their unique strains of gut bacteria and as a result, may resist taking a course of prescribed antibiotics.
What actually happens to your gut when you complete a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics? According to Drs. Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, orally administered, broad-spectrum antibiotics cause significant destruction to the gut microbiota. One course of antibiotics can require months to recover from – with some studies suggesting the microbiome may not recover completely. Long lasting destruction absolutely occurs when just two courses of broad-spectrum antibiotics are taken within a single year, altering the pre-antibiotic microbiome permanently.
It’s critical to avoid overuse of antibiotics – particularly for illnesses that are not bacterial in nature, such as a cold or flu. Don’t be afraid to discuss your concerns about the type of antibiotic treatment being recommended with your doctor. However, it’s also important to remember that several things, not just antibiotic use, can alter the bacteria in the gut. Stress, diet, gastrointestinal illness, overuse of antibacterial products, constipation and diarrhea can impact the balance of good and bad gut bacteria. While the vast majority of our gut bacteria should reside in the large intestine, sometimes bacteria overpopulate the small intestine, causing an undesirable condition called Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO).
Sometimes our microbiome may not be as healthy as it could be. Destroying or crowding out some of the undesirable bacteria and tipping the scale in favor of the good bacteria have many advantages to overall health. In fact, research in Japan has just begun to link the presence of certain types of undesirable gut bacteria with colon cancer.
Colonoscopies are procedures that require a complete clearing of the contents of the bowel. Remember that the bowel, aka large intestine, is home to the vast majority of our gut bacteria. Artificially cleansing the colon with strong laxatives has an impact on the bacteria living there. Early research indicates that the gut microbiome is impacted after a colonoscopy, but recovery most likely occurs within a month or so. However, there is much more to learn about the impact colonoscopy prep has on the health of the gut microbiome.
Our gut bacteria are constantly evolving. Studies have shown that those we live with influence our gut bacteria strains. Diet and lifestyle play an important role in the health and variety of our microbiome. We need a diverse mix of bacteria to keep us healthy, with a focus on keeping the good bacteria happy. Probiotics allow us the opportunity to populate our guts with desirable strains of good bacteria.
There are several pro-active steps you can do to support your gut flora during and after completing a course of antibiotics or recovering from colonoscopy prep.
Eat a diet rich in fermented foods.
Include plenty of fiber rich foods in your diet which act as prebiotics to your gut bacteria. Prebiotics are essentially food that feed your bacteria.
Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Avoid overuse of antibacterial cleaners.
Hug your pets – they have good bacteria.
Dig in the garden.
Take a high quality probiotic. See my recommendations below.
When I recently completed a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics, I supported my system with four products:
Saccharomyces Boulardii + MOS by Jarrow Formulas is supportive to take during antibiotic treatment and during times of potential digestive distress – such as traveling.
Flora 300-14 7 Day Intensive by Innate Response is an excellent product to inoculate your system with desirable, diverse and beneficial bacteria after completing a course of antibiotics or colonoscopy bowel cleansing.
Fem-Dophilus by Jarrow Formulas supports vaginal and urinary health. After a course of antibiotics, the delicate vaginal flora can be disrupted.
Ther-Biotic Metabolic Formula by Klaire Labs is my choice to regulate and improve energy, weight, and glucose metabolism. Lactobacillus gasseri has been shown to be effective in promoting weight loss.
Remember we are all unique, what works for one may not work for another. Listen to your body. Of course, always discuss your concerns with your doctor.
Please visit my Online Dispensary to learn more about the recommended products. https://us.fullscript.com/welcome/thegirlandtheegg
The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-Term Health; Justin and Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs
“Stress may harm gut health as much as junk food” Medical News Today, 17 October 2017, Honor Whiteman
“The effects of bowel cleansing for colonoscopies on our microbiome” American Microbiome Institute, January 8, 2015
“A gut feeling: Microbiome changes may mean early detection of colorectal cancer” Science Daily, June 12, 2019
The Microbiome Diet: The scientifically Proven Way to Restore Your Gut Health and Achieve Permanent Weight Loss; Raphael Kellman, MD
Colleen Forgus is a professional chef and certified holistic nutritional therapy consultant.
As a Certified Nutritional Therapy Consultant, I am not licensed or certified by any state. I have received a certificate of completion from the Nutritional Therapy Association, Inc. A license to practice Nutritional Therapy is not required in the state of Arizona. Laws and regulations regarding certification and licensure requirements differ from state to state. Nutritional Therapy is not meant to diagnosis, treat or cure. If you have any questions, always consult your physician.