1. 90-95% of your serotonin (the “happy” neurotransmitter that helps you synthesize vitamin D, and affects cognition, memory, mood, alertness, reward learning/addiction/cravings, and several other processes) is produced in the gut. Low serotonin levels can cause anxiety and depression, among other challenges. Plastics, overly-processed foods, heavy metals, herbicides/pesticides, and antibiotics/antibacterials/antimicrobials damage the gut, destroy the microbiome (the trillions of microbes living upon and within us that keep us healthy and in balance) and are known hormone and neurotransmitter disrupters (as well as being known carcinogens). Certain strains of probiotics (namely B. longum, L. rhamnosus, L. helveticus, and L. reuteri) have been shown to be more effective than anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds in treating these disorders in clinical trials. But it’s important to note that probiotics, like all supplements and medications, can cause side effects – and will work differently for different people, depending on your unique body chemistry. Also, their quality is not well regulated, so always research and check reviews before trying.
2. If you have intense sugar, salt, or chocolate cravings, that’s your hormones telling you that they are out of balance and need help. Back in the day, when we were hunter/gatherers, we spent the majority of our time walking, building, swimming, cooking, hunting, etc. Nowadays, we spend our days sitting in front of screens, and in vehicles and on planes, or else orking on construction sites with smoke breaks and diet coke by our sides. There’s very little time for exercise. This sedentary lifestyle tells our bodies that they must store fat quickly to stave off the winter famine that’s about to ensue. The problem is that instead of rest and food scarcity when winter comes, we do holidays! This influx of fat, carbs, sodium and sugar, in conjunction with added stress, speeds up our hormone production to get all the nutrients we take in rapidly stashed as fatty tissue all around our midsections to bulk us up. Once we’re nice and padded, our hormones get the signal to slow way down so we can spend the cold months “hibernating” indoors without producing too much energy to rest. But we’re not resting; we go straight from working, to running errands and carting kids around. We are obsessed with food, and binge constantly; even when we do exercise, we’re often focused on food and screens. (I somehow manage to plant myself right in front of Rachel Ray at the gym every. single. time.) This dynamic, combined with the massive quantities of hormone and neurotransmitter disrupters we come into contact with on a daily basis (including blue light – the type of light emitted by electronic devices), keeps our hormone levels in a continuous “yo-yo” cycle. Balanced endocrine function is imperative to feeling good. In order to achieve it, we have to learn portion control (including proportions of protein, carbs, sodium, fat, and sugar in every given meal), limit our screen time (especially before bed), and filter blue light whenever possible.
3. The vagus nerve is the largest of the 12 cranial nerves. It works with the parasympathetic nervous system (the system that regulates our automatic functions) to control the heart, lungs and digestive tract. It tells us when we’re in danger and prepares our body for “fight or flight.” When we are overloaded with stress, and our hormones are out of whack, this response is triggered and causes a panic attack. We now also know that the vagus nerve is the primary conduit for communication between the gut and brain. The brain is kind of like the cockpit, and the gut is mission and traffic control. Glyphosate (the chemical in Round-Up weed killer – which is hyper-absorbed by foods that have been genetically modified to do just that) permeates and destroys the lining that protects the gut wall (which is where serotonin and other potent neurotransmitters are produced). When the lining erodes entirely in a given area, the wall loosens and allows toxins to spill in. This is known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. Dysbiosis (imbalance of our carefully balanced microbiome), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) and Leaky Gut are often strong predictors of autoimmune disorders, because the gut also acts as the control center for the immune system. ALL healing starts with healing the gut! And the saying “gut instinct” isn’t just an expression. Our guts literally tighten when exposed to energy and toxins that are incompatible with health. Trust your gut when it tells you to avoid something!
4. The “war on germs” has produced the deadliest bugs known to man (hence the term “superbug”), and has made all preexisting parasites, viruses, and bacteria stronger and more resilient. Humans need germs! (And this is coming from possibly the biggest germaphobe on the planet.) Each of the microbes that comprise our distinctive microbiomes acts as a “traffic control officer.” They support and protect our immune systems and regulate the millions of chemical functions and reactions happening in our bodies at every moment. When we kill them off in droves (think antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizer), our physical and emotional health suffers immensely. Plus, low-level exposure to “bad” germs on a regular basis is what allows us to create antibodies to fend them off. Your body needs to become intimately acquainted with the microorganisms it’s naturally surrounded by at all times in order to recognize and utilize the beneficial ones, and learn how to fight the ones that make us sick. THIS DOES NOT MEAN WE SHOULD STOP WASHING OUR HANDS, BODIES AND HOMES! It means we need to be more mindful about what we’re washing them with. When we wash with natural plant-based surfactants we scrub the excess germs off, rather than killing them. This makes a HUGE difference! When we attempt to kill them and they survive, we damage their DNA (and ours) and force them to mutate (not to mention what happens to marine life when those chemicals get flushed into our waterways).
5. Many people experience pain, discomfort, and/or dysfunction during sex and never report it because they’re embarrassed. Some don’t even tell their partners. There are several physical and emotional challenges that can cause problems with desire and performance. Sexual experiences are an essential element of our overall wellbeing. Pleasurable sex is important! Please talk to your doctor, or other trusted health professional, if you are not enjoying sex. Some people have physical limitations that make intercourse impossible, but that does NOT mean they can’t enjoy the intimacy and release that orgasms bring. There are many ways of triggering orgasms and being intimate that don’t involve intercourse. We must end the stigma around discussing sex if we hope to offer better sexual health to our future generations. Be open with your partners and doctors; they will appreciate the honesty, and you will get the help you need.