How to Decrease Stress Through Nervous System Regulation

Polyvagal Theory is a term thrown around quite a bit in the world of counseling and functional medicine, but how does it play a role in our stress responses in the day-to-day? That’s what this episode focuses on. This is a deep dive into understanding what it means to be in a state of “fight, flight, or freeze,” and how to support your body in healing so that you can become more stress resilient!

Carly Stagg is a former nutritional therapist turned family nurse practitioner specializing in functional medicine. Her professional practice focuses on autoimmunity, hormone balance, and thyroid care, as well as complex chronic conditions such as mold, Lyme, PANS and PANDAS with a nurturing, gentle approach. She is passionate about the innate self-healing capacity of the body and especially practicing medicine in a way that supports the body in regaining balance rather than competing with its natural state. She currently sees patients via telehealth at Ritual Functional Medicine. She has partnered with Chelsea Blackbird in creating the upcoming School of Christian Health and Nutrition, a 9-month training program focused on empowering and equipping those who feel called to work in the field of health and nutrition.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Easy, Inflation-Proof Granola

I don’t know about your budget, but groceries are ridiculously expensive for us right now.

Because I try to limit the amount of overly processed foods my family eats, it seems even more daunting. However, one thing that has helped me as I try to adapt to these new ever-climbing prices, is to focus on buying foods that will actually fill everyone up.

For example, while tasty and a cultural fave, chips and cereal are not necessarily filling. My kids can eat an entire bag or box and still be hungry in 30 minutes. That is due to many factors, one being the fact that these foods were designed to be hyper-palatable and to keep you eating more while never actually nourishing you on a fullness level. The other reason is that many of these processed foods are devoid of essential nutrients, and notably devoid of sufficient fiber.

Fiber is extremely satiating because it can slow down the blood sugar spike we get after eating refined carbohydrates. Fiber works as a prebiotic for our “gut buddies,” as I like to call them. It acts like a miracle grow so that the bacteria in our gut garden thrives to support proper hormone function and neurotransmitter support, among so many other vital functions.

So that brings me to granola. If I make my own granola, load it up with fiber from nuts and seeds, will that be filling enough for my kids for breakfast or a snack?

The answer – yes!

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How Adverse Childhood Events Impact Your Health

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that controls impulses and helps to manage behavior. This area is rapidly developing all throughout childhood and adolescence. Many people don’t realize that chronic stress can shrink the prefrontal cortex and inhibit proper decision-making. So what happens when a child encounters trauma or chronic stress? This interview breaks down what adverse childhood events are, and how the brain and body responds to them.

Patrick Wanis, PhD, helps people rapidly change their behavior. As a Human Behavior & Relationship Expert, Wanis has developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is now teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis has also developed multiple online psychological and behavioral assessments on Emotional Intelligence, Empathy, Mindfulness, Relationship Breakups, Self-Defeating Behavior, Individual Core Values, and Authenticity. His clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers.

CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for expert insights and analysis on relationships, sexuality, human motivation, trauma, communication, body language, and persuasion. Over five million people have read Wanis’ books in English and Spanish.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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The Pantry Item That Could Be Wrecking Your Mental Health

Lately I have been on a rampage against commonly used inflammatory vegetable oils. They are everywhere, in every dressing, sauce, packaged good, and even in frozen vegetable mixtures and “healthy” items. Because of what I know about how these inflammatory oils impact our cell membranes and lead to oxidative damage, I get enraged that so many food companies and “health coaches” or nutrition experts promote their use.

The main oils I try to stay away from are vegetable, corn, soybean, canola, sunflower, and safflower. The reason these oils wreak havoc on cellular health is because they are in the category of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS). Omega 6 oils are not bad on their own, and we actually need them, but when we are consuming more omega 6 oils than omega 3s, excessive inflammation can occur. Also, these oils are very sensitive to oxidation under high heat, which can also cause damage on the cellular level.

In a perfect world, we would have a balance between omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats. In the era of processed convenience food, it just isn’t the case. Excess intake of vegetable oils like canola and soybean have been linked to anxiety, aggression, and poor cognitive function. While intake of omega 3 oils (found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds) has been shown to improve cognitive function and reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, and even chronic pain.

Most restaurant items contain inflammatory oils, because they’re cheaper. Even if you go to a restaurant and decide to make a “healthy” choice of ordering a salad, chances are that salad dressing is packed with canola or soybean oil, along with lots of sugar. I try to avoid restaurant salads as much as possible. The last time I mistakenly ordered a shrimp salad at a chain restaurant, it was so sweet it tasted like dessert!

But here’s the thing – I like eating out. It can be a fun treat, and my family usually eats restaurant food about once a week. I don’t want to be the food police at a restaurant. I don’t want my need to control or stress about food to ruin an enjoyable dining experience.

This brings me to my pantry. I have control over what I make at home. I love cooking from scratch, using whole food ingredients as much as possible. I love knowing that I am supporting my family’s brain health through nourishing recipes that keep us full and fueled for our busy lives.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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How to Heal Depression, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder

I remember when I was first diagnosed with all my mental illness labels, and how I was told I would struggle for the rest of my life. I felt isolated and insecure, believing I was the only person to struggle from something as heavy-sounding as “manic-depressive illness.”

Today, with mental illness labels becoming ubiquitous features to our modern society, we are becoming more accepting that mental health is something we need to support. But to heal? To reverse symptoms? THAT sounds like a foreign concept.

Survivors exist. Those of us who have gone through the labeling, the medicating, and the treatment and have come out on the other side with new tools that work long-term… we exist too. That is why I was so excited to invite fellow survivor Dr. Christina Bjorndal on the show.

Dr. Christina Bjorndal, ND is an authority in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and eating disorders.  Having overcome many mental health challenges, Dr. Chris is recognized as one of the top NDs to follow by two independent organizations. Dr. Chris has helped many patients achieve physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. She has written four books on mental health as well as created two courses – a 10-week course for individuals and a Clinician’s Integrative Mental Health 10 week course.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Real Talk About Trauma

For most of my life, I didn’t view my trauma as Trauma. Yes, I was diagnosed with PTSD; yes, I dissociated; yes, I struggled with nervous system dysregulation… but I minimized my trauma.

It was just one thing that happened to me on one day when I was a child. It wasn’t ongoing. There are people who experience much worse than me.

When I minimized the trauma, I minimized the effects.

Everyone dissociates once in awhile, right? It’s not uncommon to view yourself outside of yourself when you look back on memories, right? Everyone has episodes of depression during April, right? We all are just waiting for the next big tragedy, right? None of that really MEANS anything.

That’s what I believed.

Add to that thought pattern all the ways we talk about trauma: we use phrases like big T, little t… say things like, “real trauma is only seen in war veterans…” or “trauma is just part of life.”

I minimized my trauma, and I minimized the effects, over and over again.

In high school I wrote an essay about the unique scents of each season and the memories attached (it actually became a finalist in a state writing competition, you know I have to throw that in there). In this essay, I described how the scents of spring felt sad to me because they reminded me of my grandpa’s traumatic death on my front lawn. Even when I wrote the words at the age of 17, I didn’t understand the effects of that trauma the way I do now.

Now I understand that because of that trauma, I dissociated often. I stared off into space randomly, sometimes in the middle of engaging conversations. In the early aftermath of the trauma, I was frequently sick with stomachaches and infections, namely tonsillitis and bronchitis. When an emergency situation arose, I froze, and watched everything that happened outside of my body until I felt safe to return to it.

None of this was intentional, and that is important to understand when we are talking about trauma. These responses were the ways that my brain protected me from a repeat injury. These were signals from my brain to my body, so that my body could go on alert and keep me safe in the way it was designed to.

We all, at some point in our lives, will experience trauma. It may not impact your brain and body the way it impacted me. But it will happen, and it will impact you, if it hasn’t already.

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This Is Your Child’s Brain on Processed Food

This is a tough conversation, but it is important to be aware of the way our kids’ nutrition impacts mood, concentration, focus, and overall health. Nutrition plays a direct role in neurotransmitter function, so we can’t have an honest conversation about kids’ mental health without addressing nutrition!

Dr. Joan Ifland, PhD, MBA, FACN, is a Nutrition Researcher & Processed Food Addiction Counselor. Dr. Ifland is a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition and she holds her PhD in Addictive Nutrition. She has 20 years’ experience in the field of food addiction and recovery. The Founder of Food Addiction Reset, Dr. Ifland is a leading expert in the field, author of the textbook on the topic. Processed food marketed to children has a powerful impact on their brain function with long-term consequences.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Limiting Beliefs That Impact Your Eating Habits

Brittany Braswell is a Registered Dietitian who runs a private recovery coaching practice helping Christian women ditch food rules and negative body image so they finally get off the dieting hamster wheel and experience true and lasting freedom in Christ. She has been featured as a guest expert on podcasts, at virtual summits, in blogs, and at universities. She is the creator of two exclusive courses — one on improving body image, and another on recovering from disordered eating on her website here, both of which serve women using a Christ-centered approach.

In this episode, we tackle the tough topic of how our disordered relationship with food can often reflect a disordered view of ourselves and our purpose. Download here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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What to Do When Psych Meds Aren’t Working

More people are prescribed psychiatric medication than ever before, so why are we seeing mental health issues continue to climb? How can we support our loved ones when the traditional treatments aren’t working for them?

Dr. Julia Britz specializes in supporting people who are struggling with mental health issues such as OCD, disorders eating and psychiatric medication tapering. Her passion for working with individuals suffering from these lonely conditions is that she too was a “hopeless case”, but got better. Dismissed by doctors, she was told over and over there was nothing else she could try beyond pharmacotherapy, and so was inspired to create myocddiary.com, a site dedicated to documenting the daily life of OCD and related disorders. Through this project and holistic therapies, she found new levels of wellness, and in 2014 did a TED talk called “MyOCDdiary: an imperfect story.”  

She utilizes natural and integrative modalities including targeted amino acid therapy, peptide therapy, micronutrient therapy, bioresonance, botanical medicine and epigenetic analysis, many of which are discussed in this episode.

Download this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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Overcoming Cancer, Crohn’s, and Other Autoimmune Disease

Struggling with a chronic illness can feel defeating, and struggling with multiple chronic illnesses can feel debilitating. This episode is for anyone who suffers from autoimmune disease or any other limiting label.

Amber Satterfield is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and the Founder of Feel Good Nourishment, where she specializes in helping people who suffer from gut health issues and autoimmune diseases. She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 2008, followed by rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and cancer in the subsequent years. It wasn’t until she found functional medicine that she says her life & health changed forever. After her own journey, Amber became passionate about helping others do the same in their own bodies. Amber is now sharing her personal healing story in her new book, “Thriving with Autoimmune Diseases”, coming out later this year.

Download and listen to this episode here or find wherever you get podcasts.

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