Tag Archive for amino acids

Is Your GI Tract Out of Whack? How to Restore Your Gut and Your Mind

Is your GI tract out of whack? Your mental and physical health become impaired when your gut is imbalanced. Find out how to heal it here.
If your GI tract is out of whack, your mental and physical health will be too. Fatigue and fuzzy thinking, not to mention bloating and irregular bowel movements, are linked to your gut health. If your sick and tired of feeling less than your best it’s time to look at your gut health.

Your GI Tract is Your Second Brain

Scientists consider the GI tract (Gastrointestinal tract) the body’s second brain. It’s vital to your mental and physical health. The microbes in your gut are responsible for more than 80% of your immune system and can help your body fight off foreign invaders such as the cold or flu.

Your GI tract is also a key player in your brain chemistry. It breaks down amino acids in your gut turning them into neurotransmitters in the brain. If this process isn’t running smoothly (literally) your mood and health are compromised.

Is Your Gut Hurting or Helping Your Brain Chemistry?

As you know, amino acids are found in the foods you eat and the supplements you take. When your GI tract is balanced, your mood and energy levels are too. Allergies, stress, and toxins can cause severe damage to the lining of your gut; this disrupts your mood and mental health too. If your feeling down, depressed or drained testing your neurotransmitter levels can help identify if there is an imbalance; in your brain and in your gut.

Your GI tract is responsible for producing important neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA. The bacteria in your gut is in charge of making these inhibitory very important neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. In fact, more than 95 percent of the serotonin in your body made in your gut. If you struggle with depression or anxiety, your gut health is likely to blame.

Is My Gut Imbalanced?

Some of the most common symptoms and side effects of an imbalanced GI tract are:

  • IBS
  • Heartburn
  • Headaches or Migraines
  • Eczema or Asthma
  • Intense Seasonal Allergies
  • Fibromyalgia or Joint Pain
  • Chronic fatigue or Fogginess
  • Hives or Rashes
  • Mood Disorders and Anxiety
  • Autoimmune Illnesses
    • Ulcerative Colitis
    • Celiac’s
    • Crohn’s Disease
    • Rheumatoid Arthritis
    • Psoriasis
    • Multiple Sclerosis
    • Lupus
    • Scleroderma
    • Rosacea
    • Type 1 Diabetes

What Can Cause or Contribute to a GI Tract Imbalance?

  • Refined carbohydrates, processed or fast foods
  • Processed white flour
  • Foods high in sugar: The more sugar we eat, the fewer the binding sites available for Vitamin C and therefore a dampened immune response.
  • Artificial flavors and dyes (such as Blue #1, Blue #2, Red #3 and Red #40 and Yellow #6)
  • Preservatives (BHA, BHT, sodium nitrate/nitrite, sulfur dioxide and potassium bromate) and flavor enhancers (Monosodium glutamate and Disodium Guanylate)
  • High-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats)
  • Toxins such as processed wheat, soybean and corn oil that can contribute to leaky gut
  • Gluten or dairy
  • Antibiotics
  • Birth Control
  • Alcohol
  • NSAIDs such as Ibuprofen or Aspirin. NSAIDs can inhibit your body from rebuilding the intestinal lining.

How to Balance Your Gut and Your Mind

There are natural ways to balance your GI tract. The most important thing to do is talk to your practitioner and look at your histamine levels (high histamine indicates a food allergen). This will help to identify if there is a trigger in your diet, and without removing it, all the supplements in the world will not heal your gut. Repairing your gut may take some time, but when you are working with a trained practitioner like those here at Neurogistics, you will have support and accountability along the way. Other ways to repair your GI tract include:

  • Taking supplements to support immune and central nervous system such as glutamine that supports immunity and digestion and Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D
  • Avoiding chemicals, pesticides, and other environmental toxins
  • Taking Probiotics such as kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt
  • Reducing Stress through these mindfulness exercises

Significant changes in your GI tract and your brain can take just a few weeks to start working.  For more information on testing your neurotransmitter levels and balancing your GI tract look into our programs.

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Get More Greens in! Why Blending is Better than Juicing

Do you struggle with getting your greens in? Many of us opt for a juice or a salad when we are feeling like we need to get more veggies into our diets. The problem is, rarely do these on-the-go meals provide enough nutrients. They may seem healthy but could they be doing more harm than good?

Busy adults and children rarely get enough greens in their diet. By greens we mean leafy veggies, filled with vitamins and nutrients and often hard to eat if your short on time or picky about taste. Stress makes us reach for the easy stuff, that juice or side salad. Stressed out parents struggle too. Whether you’ve got a picky eater or you’ve got very little time to take care of yourself, getting these vital nutrients into ones diet can be hard. No one has much time these days to focus on how many veggies they eat, but our bodies need them for optimal functioning. We need more vegetables and a great way to get them in our everyday diet is to drink them.

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Eggcellent Eggs

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Easter is just around the corner and a good reminder to add more eggs into our daily diets.  Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse; an easy source vitamins and, nutrients. Even better, eggs are a complete protein, meaning they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids including the serotonin precursor, tryptophan.     Just one egg is filled with brain healthy benefits. With only 75-80 calories per egg, 7 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and only around 1.6 grams of saturated fat, you can’t beat (excuse the pun) an egg for a perfect dietary staple.  They provide disease fighting nutrients, vitamin E, vitamin D and omega-3s. As a satisfying source of protein, they have been shown to help dieters feel fuller longer, and even those with high cholesterol can enjoy the benefits of egg whites. Even better, according to new USDA study, the cholesterol in one egg has gone down by 14 percent!

One crack of an egg will only run you about 15 cents, making it one of the most inexpensive sources of protein out there.  Eggs are not just for breakfast, they are a wonderful, heart healthy, alternative to meat and a good way to experiment with new recipes.

Instead of a fat-filled casserole try a heart healthy frittata. Frittatas are often seen on the brunch menu, but you can make them as a dinner option as well.  Throw in your favorite veggies, meat (turkey bacon, soy sausage, or ham if you prefer) and you have an amazing dish that is much lower calorie than quiche, and allows you to be creative in the kitchen. Try Bethenny Frankel’s vegetarian, low fat version or this Asparagus, Spring Onion and Pancetta Frittata

Instead of tiresome chicken or beef  try: Broccoli and Sausage Egg Muffins which can actually be a staple at any meal.  Check out the link!

Instead of frozen soggy waffles or cold cereal, try a breakfast taco (a Tex-Mex staple) instead.  While the breakfast classics may give you the carbohydrate rush you want to get going in the morning, it doesn’t provide you with nearly enough protein. Grab a tortilla, scramble some eggs (or egg whites), add potatoes or beans and a little salsa and you’ve got breakfast on-the-go that is good for you.

Another tip, make a dozen hard boiled eggs and keep them on hand.  You will have a breakfast on-the-go, protein to add to your lunchtime salad, or just a healthy snack that you can’t help but eat. Eggcellent!

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Bread Basket Woes: Why Gluten Free May Be the Way to Be

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

I am in an abusive relationship. Not with a man or a friend, but with bread.  Yep, my old pal Gluten and I are not getting along these days, I recently found out that an intolerance or allergy may be to blame.  Food allergy testing (via blood) will give me the results soon, but the likelihood is that I won’t be able to hang out with my “friends” pasta, pizza, or pretty much any refined carbohydrate,  the way I used to.  The news was heartbreaking, considering that the bread basket brings me as much joy as a shopping does for most women, but the worst part is I also was confused. What does this mean for my diet?  Some professionals said “you may have a gluten allergy or intolerance,” Some said “you probably have celiac disease.” I thought to myself, “isn’t all the same?”  Apparently not.   I turned to Google to help me figure it out; overwhelmingly it popped out millions of results but the clear question remained, what are the difference in these intolerances and what on earth can I eat?

The American Celiac Disease Alliance was a very easy website to navigate.  They said:   “It’s important to know if you have celiac, a wheat allergy or gluten intolerance; as they are all vastly different. Celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten-intolerance are treated similarly, in that patients with these conditions must remove wheat from their diet. It is important to note, however, that there is a difference between these three medical problems:

  • Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue, such as intestinal tissue, in response to eating gluten. Because of this, people with celiac disease are at risk for malabsorption of food, which cause nutritional deficiencies and may result in conditions such as iron deficiency anemia, osteopenia, and osteoporosis. 
  • Persons with a wheat or gluten-intolerance usually do not have severe intestinal damage, and therefore are not at risk for these nutritional deficiencies.  They also are not at increased risk of developing other autoimmune conditions.”

The American Celiac Association also goes on give the following distinctions between Celaic, intolerance, and allergy. “CELIAC DISEASE can be defined as a permanent intolerance to the gliadin fraction of wheat protein and related alcohol-soluble proteins (called prolamines) found in rye and barley. CELIAC DISEASE occurs in genetically susceptible individuals who eat these proteins, leading to an autoimmune disease, where the body’s immune system starts attacking normal tissue. This condition continues as long as these food products are in the diet.

    • The resulting inflammation and atrophy of the intestinal villi (small, finger-like projections in the small intestine) results in the malabsorption of critical vitamins, minerals, and calories. Signs and symptoms of the disease classically include diarrhea, short stature, iron-deficiency anemia and lactose intolerance. However, many patients will also present with “non-classical” symptoms, such as abdominal pain, “irritable bowel”, and osteoporosis.
    • Patients may also be screened for celiac disease because of the presence of another autoimmune disease, such as type I diabetes or thyroid disease, or a family history of celiac disease, without having any obvious symptoms. Serum antibodies can be utilized to screen for celiac disease. However, the key to confirming the diagnosis remains a small intestinal biopsy, and the patient’s subsequent clinical response to a gluten-free diet. Clinicians in the United States must maintain a high index of suspicion for this disease, as it is significantly under-diagnosed in this country. Interstingly enough, Rates of certain cancers of the gastrointestinal tract are much higher in people with celiac sprue, and there is evidence that this risk is decreased with a gluten-free diet. 
    • People with active celiac disease are at increased risk for other auto-immune conditions, (such as diabetes mellitus type 1, Graves’ disease and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis) especially those with continued gluten exposure.

Great alternative for Crackers

Wheat Allergy:

    People can also have other medical problems, besides celiac disease, when they eat wheat and related proteins. Wheat allergy is one of the top 8 food allergies in the United States. Allergic reactions after eating wheat may include reactions in the skin, mouth, lungs, and even the GI tract. Symptoms of wheat allergy can include rash, wheezing, lip swelling, abdominal pain and diarrhea. The branch of the immune system activated in allergic reactions is different from the branch thought to be responsible for the autoimmune reactions of celiac disease.

Gluten Intolerance: People can also experience ‘intolerance’ to gluten. Food intolerances are not thought to be immune mediated. GI symptoms with wheat or gluten intolerance may include gassiness, abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and diarrhea. These symptoms are usually transient, and are thought NOT cause permanent damage.

Unlike a food allergy or food intolerance, celiac disease is an inherited condition.  This means family members may have it, too.  For this reason, if someone in your family is diagnosed, it is recommended that first degree relatives (parents, children, siblings) are screened as well.  Finally, celiac disease involves the activation of a particular type of white blood cell, the T lymphocyte, as well as other parts of the immune system, which may increase the risk of developing GI cancers, in particular lymphomas, in persons with celiac disease.  Since food allergies and intolerances do not involve this particular immune system pathway, these patients are not at increased risk for these cancers.

While celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten-intolerance may be treated with similar diets, they are not the same conditions. Due to the genetic component, and risk of nutritional deficiencies, other autoimmune diseases, and GI cancers, it is very important for a person to be properly diagnosed.

So what contains gluten?  Gosh, what doesn’t but the wonderful thing is that we now have so many options for gluten-free breads, pastas, and sweets that it may not be too difficult to avoid. The website “What Contains Gluten” has simple and amazing information on living gluten-free.  Here is what they say:

Following is a list of foods containing gluten. Avoid these foods at all costs, unless you can find a gluten-free version of them:

• Bread
• Rolls
• Pretzels
• Muffins
• Biscuits
• Cookies
• Bulgar wheat
• Couscous
• Scones
• Bran
• Barley water drinks
• Cakes
• Pastries
• Pie crust
• Macaroni
• Spaghetti
• Pasta
• Durham
• Pizza
• Anything made of breadcrumbs
• Sponge puddings
• Malted drinks
• Yorkshire pudding
• Stuffing
• Pancakes
• Crispbreads
• Crumble toppings
• Semolina
• Some varieties of breakfast cereals
• Breaded meat
• Breaded vegetables
• Muesli

So here I wait for my results, with the holidays coming up and a sweet tooth that is longing for a slice of pumpkin pie.  By then I should know if I should avoid it at all costs (for my health) or give in and have some temporary discomfort.  Fingers crossed the pie and I can remain friends.  However, if the results come back in the red I am optimistic that there are other options out there or ways to indulge occasionally.  I spoke with Champane Frias at Neurogistics who said there are many enzymes  and supplements you can take to help improve digestion with Gluten sensitive’s “You can use digestive enzymes such as Bioset Chewable Digestion enhanced with gluten digestive for those times that you just can’t avoid it, like Aunt Suzie’s famous apple pie, that you only get to have once a year on Thanksgiving.”She said.  This will help with the enzymes that I am not producing.

 There are some great alternatives to gluten and many companies who are capitalizing on this.  Whole Foods and local natural health food stores have gluten-Free pie crust, pies, and deserts. Recently I have switched to Udi’s gluten free bread instead of my old favorite whole-wheat.  Rice pasta has become a staple; although it tastes a little different it is worth it by the end of the meal.  The discomfort and pain of a big bowl of ravioli or pasta primavera can only be tolerated for so long. I having been finding great blogs and webistes that have recepies that make life with out gluten feel luxurious rather than deprivation. Gluten Free Hot Products is a great blog with coupon and great recipe ideas. With this new insight I will be creating a new healthy relationship with food; restaurants that have gluten free options, as well as digestive enzymes, to support me in times of “need”. Armed with the supplements in hand, this Thanksgiving I will be visiting my old, delicious, friends Stuffing and Pumpkin Pie. I am aware that it could be a painful and possibly abusive exchange; however, I’m hopeful that the  supplements doing their job, and the new education I will embark on once I find out what is really going on with my relationship with Gluten.

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Quick Protein-Filled Snacks

By Emily Roberts

The importance of rotating protein is often under-minded when we are dieting or attempting to get kids to eat whats on their plates.  We often go for whatever is easy and quick rather than whats really beneficial for our brains and bodies.  In our past post The Power of Protein, we talk about the importance of protein and briefly on rotating proteins:

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

Below are some great ideas to get new proteins into your old routine, as well as easy snack ideas for children and adults alike:

Edamame: Instead of chips reach for this heart-healthy, protein filled snack.  With 11 grams for a 1/2 cup, you are doing yourself a favor.  Sprinkle some sea-salt on them, put them in a Tupperware and take them along to the office or in your child’s lunchbox.

Greek Yogurt or Cottage Cheese: Instead of boring fruit on the bottom yogurt (still a good source of protein) try something exciting like Fage 2% Greek Yogurt, it has 17 grams of protein.  Add a little Agave Nectar and a handful of nuts and you have yourself a perfect snack!  Kids love it with fruit and granola.

Hummus or Baked Chickpeas: Instead of your usual dip or spread try hummus with veggies or baked chips, its a great alternative to or usual spreads.  Kids eat it up, and by adding this in we are getting in protein from a legume, something most of us don’t get unless we are eating beans or lentils.  The snack packs are a great, portable, snack idea or for throwing in a lunch pale. Baked Chickpeas are a fantastic way to appease your crunch and salty cravings and helps to fill you up.

Beef Jerky: Instead of salty chips or rice cakes.  It can be high in sodium, however 1 serving shells out 70 calories and 11 grams of protein, with only 1 gram of fat.  Try a few pieces instead of your usual afternoon snack.  Kids love the chewy texture and its super portable. There are some organic brand out there that are pretty healthy.

Let us know what protien snacks you and your kids like, we’d love to hear them!

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The Depressed Brain: Alternative Treatments

By Emily Roberts MA, LPC

It is estimated that 25 percent of the American population will experience depression at some point in their lives.  What we do know is that depression is treatable, and a variety approaches have been proven effective for reducing and overcoming symptoms.   Many consumers and those who suffer from depression symptoms are under the impression that medication is the only option.  This is not the case.

A study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and GlaxoSmithKline (a pharmaceutical corporation), indicates that cognitive therapy is at least as effective as medication for long-term treatment of severe depression, and it is less expensive.  This is not to say that medication is not effective, but rather that there are often options, such as talk therapy, that are overlooked by the average consumer.  We are told by commercials, friends, and even our physicians that depression can be treated with medications, but there are other options.

A recent article by Dr. Daniel Amen confirmed that natural supplements are effective in treating the neurological imbalances causing depression symptoms. Dr. Amen, author of Change Your Brain Change Your Life, is a renowned physician, child and adult psychiatrist, and brain imaging specialist.  He discusses the surprising outcomes after speaking to a group of UC Psychiatrists:

As a group, they were very interested in learning about using natural supplements as a way to treat their patients. You have to understand that in most traditional psychiatry programs in the U.S., the use of natural supplements as a treatment option is NOT part of the curriculum. Most psychiatrists get absolutely NO training in this.

And that’s a real shame. Because there are many supplements that have A level (strong) or B level (good) scientific evidence that they are effective in treating a number of mental disorders. Here are some examples:

  • St. John’s wort, SAMe, and sage have A level evidence that they help with depression.
  • 5-HTP, omega-3s, saffron, and DHEA have B level evidence that they reduce symptoms of depression.
  • St. John’s wort, 5-HTP, and inositol have B level evidence that they calm anxiety.
  • 5-HTP has B level evidence that it helps with weight loss.
  • Ginkgo biloba and sage have A level evidence that they enhance memory.
  • Huperzine A, vinpocetine, acetyl-l-carnitine, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3s have B level evidence that they boost memory.
  • Melatonin has A level evidence that it improves sleep.

For more on Dr. Amen Click Here

What has been confirmed by the scientific community is that most forms of depression can be traced to imbalances in neurotransmitter levels, more specifically Serotonin levels.  These levels can be depleted through genetics, or environmental triggers (stress, trauma, and lifestyle).  Serotonin is one of the primary inhibitory (calming) neurotransmitters in the central nervous system.  Serotonin plays a role in so many areas of the body, and is one of the first neurotransmitters to become depleted.  It is involved in balancing mood, apatite, sugar and carbohydrate cravings (due to low Serotonin levels), sleep cycle regulation, pain receptors (including headaches and muscle pain), and many more.  When looking for alternative options to treating depression, testing ones brain chemistry is extremely important in identifying the neurotransmitters that are out of balance, and is another option for treating depression.  For more information on neurotransmitter testing and depression Click Here.

*If you or someone you know is suffering from depression please contact your practitioner immediately.

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The Power of Protein

By: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Its 3 PM. Your starving, so you reach for that 100 calorie pack of starch to curb your hunger…and your not satisfied?  Well who would be, there is no protein in it, its all carbs.  We all know protein is important for keeping us full and keeping us strong.  However, studies find that most children are not getting enough and many adults fall short on their daily intake as well.  The reason this is so important, is without the rotation of different proteins and the quantity, out bodies will not make the natural amino acids that keep  us focused, stable, and happy. 

The Facts: Amino acids are the building blocks for Neurotransmitters; amino acids are created by our genetic make-up, but also our diet.  Protein and supplementation are the main sources of changing and increasing amino acid availability in ones body. 

Are You Getting Enough?: To calculate how much protein you need on a daily basis take your body weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2, this will give you amount in grams that your body needs at a minimum (unless otherwise noted by your doctor or other health professional).  For example:  140 pound woman needs approximately 64 grams per day.

Where to Get it:Nuts, lean meats, dairy products, soy, legumes, whey protein powder, and seafood are all great sources.  For kids a serving size is approximately 2 oz, depending on their weight. For adults a serving size is 4 to 6 oz.

Protein for Kids:  even for the pickiest eaters daily protein intake can be achieved.  This especially important when school starts and focus is needed.  In the morning try almond or peanut butter and toast, instead of a pop-tart or sugar filled pastry.  For a mid morning snack, freeze a yogurt and put it in their lunch box, it will be cold by the time snack-time rolls around.  For lunch, turkey and cheese roll-ups, rather than pizza. For dinner, adding in tofu or chicken to your child’s meal will increase their amino acid availability and keep them satisfied longer.

***If your child refuses, whey protein powder is easily hidden in smoothies, milk, and oatmeal.

Why Rotate?: If we eat the same thing everyday our body is going to get used to the amino acids in that food, making it difficult to create new strains of amino acids, thus less neurotransmitter availability.  Therefore, making changes in protein increases your availability to create new strains.  Simple fixes are, chose fish instead of chicken on your salad.  Add protein powder to your morning oatmeal instead of just milk, or try adding in a mid morning snack of yogurt and nuts.

So next time your starving, think about this, will that snack fill me up?  Adding in protein keeps you fuller, longer, carbs alone will leave you feeling hungry and tired.  Instead of that bag of chips try a bag of trail mix, or cheese and crackers .  You will find yourself more focused, in a better mood, and best of all SATISFIED.

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5 HTP Liposomal Liquid is here!

Neurogistics has the only twice tested liposomal delivery system 5HTP.  This superior form of 5HTP allows for quick absorption with a sweet taste.  The dosage of this very absorbable form of 5HTP is lower since the absorption rate is higher.  5-HTP is the amino acid intermediate to the mood regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. 5-HTP crosses the blood brain barrier converting into serotonin in serotonin producing nerve cells. Besides benefiting mood, supporting serotonin levels can also help fight sugar and carbohydrate cravings and improve sleep quality by converting into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep/wake cycle.

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