Ask the Expert: What is MTHFR and How Does It Affect Me?

Though I have addressed the topic of MTHFR on this blog before, I wanted to dive deeper into it and learn from someone who could explain how it relates to our mental health and overall wellness.

img_1492Dr. Tracey Stroup is a Naturopathic Doctor, Certified Natural Health Professional, certified Digestive Health Specialist, Master Herbalist who also has completed courses in Iridology.

An estimated 40% of the population has this MTHFR gene mutation, which prevents us from being able to effectively use B vitamins or convert folic acid, repair on a cellular level, and use antioxidants to properly detoxify.

Common health conditions like migraines, chronic fatigue, infertility, autoimmune issues, mental health or other neurological problems – even heart disease – all can be greatly impacted by MTHFR.

In this podcast episode, Tracey discusses dietary and lifestyle changes plus supplement recommendations that can help us biohack our genes. As I’ve mentioned before, your genes load the gun, but the environment pulls the trigger!

Click to download to listen to this episode here or on iTunes here.

Kanye, Bipolar Disorder, Religiosity, and My Thoughts

While my entire Facebook feed is filled with articles and comments about Kanye West’s new album and recent conversion, I have stayed silent. Why?

Because number one, I don’t really know anything about Kanye to begin with (other than the time he hijacked Taylor Swift’s speech on the VMAs and the famous rant about George Bush not caring about black people). He has kids with weird names and a wife with an awesome body. That’s about all I know. Superficial? Maybe. I can’t tell you the name of any of his songs. They’re not on my running playlist.

Number two, what he does or says doesn’t have any affect on me personally. If he wants to sing songs about being rich and famous or songs about Jesus – cool. I typically don’t speak up about issues in pop culture unless I feel they have some kind of heart-twisting impact on me and my life… or if they have some kind of mental health connection.

So when I heard he suffers from bipolar disorder, that’s when the light bulb turned on. How did I miss this? Talk about a plot twist! It led me to take an interest in all the Kanye news of the last year or so. While many out there are debating whether his conversion is real or a publicity stunt, my first thought upon learning this is – is this all a manic episode?

Continue reading “Kanye, Bipolar Disorder, Religiosity, and My Thoughts”

Is Your Poop Telling You Something?

Yes, I’m going there. We’re talking about poop. Specifically – we’re talking about gut bacteria and its impact on overall health and well being.

This week’s special guest on the podcast, Dr Chris Jones, is a chiropractor, Doctor of Natural Medicine, and gut expert. He is the owner and director of Wellness Movement, an online health consultation business.

img_0702His mission is to help those with autoimmunity and chronic GI problems regain their health so that they can FINALLY FEEL BETTER.

One of the reasons I was excited to speak to Chris is because he has so many amazing stories of transformation through his testing and healing protocols. As a self-proclaimed gut health nerd, I wanted to hear more about what he thought of the gut/brain connection, the microbiome and autoimmunity, and of course – how nutrition and stress factors in.

Listen to the episode here. For more information about Dr Jones and what he does, head over to www.doctorchrisjones.com

“You Can Make a Difference in How You Feel” – Interview with Dr. James Gordon

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. James Gordon, Harvard trained psychiatrist, Director for the Center for Mind Body Medicine, and author of the new book, The Transformation: Discovering Wholeness and Healing After Trauma.

Our conversation blew my mind on many levels. Not only is Dr. Gordon an expert on dealing with trauma, he gives practical steps for addressing trauma that anyone can do!

What follows is a short transcript of the interview highlights, but the full recording can be heard on my show page here. Continue reading ““You Can Make a Difference in How You Feel” – Interview with Dr. James Gordon”

Living with the Stigma of Bipolar Disorder – Podcast Premiere

Exactly 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

But I didn’t go public about it until last year.

Why? The stigma. The jokes. The complete misunderstanding and misinformation about what bipolar disorder really is. 

Here’s what it is: 

  • It’s like depression with some really fun occasional breaks in between that help you get stuff done… but it can completely wear you out and shut you down. 
  • It’s like the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now,” mixed with Gary Jules’ “Mad World.”
  • It’s like Texas weather, dropping 50 degrees in a day, for a cold front that is unexpected, with a duration that is uncertain. 

But most of all – it IS manageable and it doesn’t have to hinder quality of life or functioning.

SWitunesLike I said, I hid it for a long time. I’m learning to manage it through a variety of tools – gut health, nutrition, movement, sleep, talk therapy.

On the first episode of my new podcast Sparking Wholeness, I share my entire journey in a way I never have before.

If you haven’t struggled with mental health issues, that’s amazing and I’m so happy for you. But chances are, someone close to you needs hope. Someone close to you needs a step toward healing. And that’s what this show is intended to do – it’s just another way to spark a little fire towards wholeness. 

Click here to download and listen to this episode, or click here for my show page – and to be able to subscribe to my podcast feed (please subscribe). It will be available on iTunes soon.

Please share this message with a friend.

Diet Before Diagnosis – Is There a Connection?

“I’m not blonde, and I’m not skinny. Therefore, I’m not attractive.”

That’s a line straight from my journal in 1999.

I have healed from many things in my past, but I don’t think I ever grieved for the young girl who thought that people would only like her if she was skinny.

According to my January 1999 journal entry, I was on a mission to weight 130 pounds. Thanks to Zoloft, I had gained a good 30 pounds or so from end of sophomore to beginning of senior year, and by the first semester of my senior year I spent a lot of time isolating, reading historical romances, and pining away for a college soccer player I cared about who played me like a fresh fiddle.

This diet gave me new life. A new identity. A new way to really love the skin I was in  – because it would come in a much smaller body. According to my journal, I was drinking two special protein drinks a day and going off of carbs, sugar, and caffeine. I was supposedly “retraining my body” to digest and store food, and there was an 85% chance I would NEVER gain my weight back. Continue reading “Diet Before Diagnosis – Is There a Connection?”

The Biggest Issues in Children’s Health Today – an Interview with Dr. Alina Olteanu

img_8840I recently sat down to interview Dr. Alina Olteanu, integrative pediatrician and owner of Whole Child Pediatrics of North Texas. Dr. Olteanu played a major role in helping my youngest heal from chronic ear infections and restrictive airway disease (which I share about here).

I was thrilled to pick her brain about children’s health in the 21st century, and let me tell you – she is a wealth of knowledge! You can find the full audio recording in Google drive format here, or a YouTube link here.

Below is a transcription of the interview. All that is missing from the recording are a few comments I made here and there, but I encourage you to listen to the audio or YouTube link to hear the emotion and passion in both of our voices as we discuss these fascinating topics. She definitely speaks my language on all things gut health and brain health. I hope you enjoy what she has to say and please share with a friend!

What brought you to integrative medicine? Continue reading “The Biggest Issues in Children’s Health Today – an Interview with Dr. Alina Olteanu”

What’s the Deal with Sugar Cravings?

I feel like I have ultimate credibility when it comes to sugar cravings. I battled them for most of my life. There are many factors at play there: gut dysbiosis, adrenal fatigue, low dopamine, and nutrient deficiencies, but one of the biggest hurdles is that I had a HORRIBLE relationship with food.

I was a chronic dieter. There were good foods, there were bad foods, and somewhere in that system of thinking I associated good food and bad food with Good Erin and Bad Erin. My food issues became intertwined with my value as a human.

While one of the best things I have ever done is address my gut health and nutrient deficiencies, I also have received so much healing from normalizing sugar.

If I want something sweet, I have it. When I allow myself the freedom to have whatever I want, nothing off limits, the appeal of the forbidden goes down. In fact, I’m better able to take a few bites of something and tell if it’s worth eating. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it isn’t.

img_8341 Continue reading “What’s the Deal with Sugar Cravings?”

Simple Salad Dressing Tips

If you and I toured the grocery store together for a little education on label reading and what to avoid and what to include, one of our first stops would be the salad dressing aisles.

Why? Well, most salad dressings are LOADED with ingredients that will do much more damage to your health and well-being than good. ESPECIALLY those lovely labels that trick you with words like “light” and “reduced fat.”

Now, knowing that most veggies contain fat soluble vitamins, which means we NEED fat to absorb them, why in the world would we throw on a dressing that is reduced fat?

>>Pause here. If you are following ANY kind of eating plan that promotes light or reduced fat dressing, it’s time for a new plan!<<

Don’t get me started. One of reasons I hated salads for years is because they never filled me up for more than an hour (there are other reasons I go into here, but I won’t go there now).

When I load my salad up with the RIGHT kind of fat, I feel fuller longer. It’s better for my mental health and way tastier. Most bottled dressings contain canola oil, soybean oil, and/or a bunch of random artificial chemicals and sugar. For example, even the Newman’s Own Olive Oil Blend, which seems to be a pretty safe option, contains soybean and/or canola oil added to it!

My favorite brands for dressings with yummy brain fats are Primal Kitchen and Tessamae’s. I’ve heard Bragg vinaigrette is awesome, but I haven’t tried it yet.

It is much cheaper and nourishing to my body and brain to make my own dressing. I put the ingredients in a small mason jar, shake them up, and store it in the fridge. I don’t like soggy lettuce and a lot of dressing, so I may use less than some.

Keep your oil and vinegar to a 3:1 ratio, and get creative with spices! Here is my favorite combination.

Favorite Salad Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons olive or avocado oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (or apple cider, red wine, etc)
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • Dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, dried parsley, lemon juice, lime juice, get creative!

Combine in a mason jar and shake. Serve immediately or store in fridge for up to a week.

 

 

The Truth About FAT

Fat is getting a lot of attention these days. Which is pretty awesome, because does anyone remember Susan Powter and the days of “fat makes you fat?”

Those days are over.

In fact, we now know that our brains MUST have fat. Personally, I think it’s pretty interesting that we have experienced a rise in mental illness and other chronic illnesses following the “fear of fat” campaigns. Could there be a connection? Maybe.

But not all fats are created equally.

Processed, trans fats – the hydrogentated oils we find in all our Doritos and Twinkies and good old standard American packaged food – is extremely damaging to our mental health. These fats increase inflammation and modern day research on mental illness tells us that an increase of inflammatory cytokines in our bloodstream could very well be at the root of mental illness.

To keep inflammation levels in check, we MUST have a healthy balance of fat in our bodies. We NEED fat for vitamin absorption, brain health (our brains are made of fat), heart health, metabolic support, and to keep our hormones functioning as they’re supposed to.

bowl being poured with yellow liquid
Olive oil contains oleocanthal, which has been proven to decrease inflammation similarly to ibuprofen!

Where to Find Healthy Fats

  • Avocados, olives, and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with animal sources like ghee, grass fed butter, wild salmon, grass fed beef and omega-3 rich organic eggs (always, always eat the yolks).
  • Whole nuts and seeds, and their butters like almond butter or tahini
  • Look for the highest-quality organic oils when shopping. Stay away from genetically modified vegetable oils like corn, canola, safflower, and soybean.
  • Words to look for: organic, first-pressed, cold-pressed, extra-virgin, and unrefined. Avoid expeller-pressed, refined, and solvent extracted.

How to Use Healthy Fats:

  • For cooking at high temperatures (stir frying and baking), try butter, ghee (clarified butter), or coconut oil
  • When sautéing foods, try organic extra virgin olive oil.
  • Oils like flaxseed, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, and pumpkin seed are best used unheated in sauces or dressings.

I try to get a healthy fat in at every meal. It keeps me full and my brain clear. I start my day with fatty coffee – French pressed coffee, MCT oil, coconut milk or grass fed butter and sometimes I add in some collagen protein. I blend it altogether and it’s like my own homemade latte. I try not to use bottled salad dressings, and instead make my own. And my pantry is ALWAYS stocked with various raw nuts to snack on or to add to meals.