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Health Tips

The Gut Microbiome and Why Your Health Depends On It

Brittany Carlson

What is the Gut Microbiome?

The Gut Microbiome refers to the microorganisms in the gut, which is the bacterial layer lining the small intestines.

Other Names for the Gut Microbiome

Intestinal flora or gut bacteria

Functions of the Microbiome

  • Protective layer between the small intestines and the blood
  • Promotes growth of the intestinal lining and immunity—80-85% of our immune system resides in the gut!
  • Makes it difficult for pathogens to grow
  • Produces anti-bacterial agents
  • Helps produce vitamin K and vitamin B
  • Important for muscular activity, without it we have reduced motility

Why is the Microbiome So Important?

  • The microbiome is the most metabolically active organ in the body
  • 99% of DNA from our body is from the microbes in our gut (1% of our DNA is human and the rest is microbial). So what does this mean? Genetic expression comes from our gut!
  • Our bodies make more neurotransmitters in our gut than we do in our brain-- 90% percent of dopamine and serotonin are made in our gut
  • The microbiome is the right hand of the immune system and remember from above, 80-85% of our immune system is located in the gut wall

Where Does the Microbiome Begin to Form?

Babies receive most of their gut flora from their mothers during vaginal births and through breast milk. Babies that are born through c-section or are bottle fed have a very different microbiome. Dr. Natasha Mcbride, physician and known for her groundbreaking work with GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome), believes that these babies will eventually catch up through daily life—for example, sucking on their toes and from hugs and kisses from friends and relatives.

What Happens When the Microbiome Becomes Imbalanced and There is Gut Dysbiosis? 

  • Affects metabolism, fat storage and our ability to lose weight
  • Increased risk of anemia
  • Pathogenic growth occurs in the gut bacteria
  • Nutritional deficiencies in  essential minerals, vitamins, amino acids and fats.
  • Leaky gut can occur which means that unbroken down macronutrients can leak into the bloodstream. More on Leaky Gut Here.

 What Negatively Affects the Microbiome?

  • Antibiotics; all of us are exposed to antibiotics both through medication and in the foods that we eat (non-organic meats, for example). They are hard to avoid so we need to consider supplemental methods to balance the microbiome.
  • Poor diets that are high in processed foods and sugars
  • Prolongued periods of starvation or overeating
  • Stress

 How to Help the Microbiome?

  • Eat fermented foods like kimchi and coconut kefir, pickled beets and cucumbers and onions
  • Take a daily probiotic
  • Eliminate processed foods 
  • Drink bone broth

Here's the Deal on Leaky Gut + Inflammation

Brittany Carlson

What is Leaky gut?

Leaky gut is another way of saying that your intestinal wall is permeable, which means unbroken down macronutrients can leak into the bloodstream. Leaky gut is specific to the small intestine, the organ that connects the stomach to the large intestine (colon), and is where the assimilation of nutrients happens.

Assimilation of Nutrients in a Healthy Gut

A healthy gut is lined with villi, finger like projections that are waving in the digestive tube. These waving projections are responsible for the uptake of nutrients from the small intestines into the blood stream, and into to the cells to be used as fuel. 90% of what we eat is transported through the villi so we need them to be strong.

What Happens in an Unhealthy Gut?

When the intestine is damaged, the villi get squashed and they are no longer waving to take up nutrients to deliver to the blood and cells. This is what happens when inflammation occurs in the gut.

The cells lining the intestinal wall are designed to sit closely together to restrict nutrients that are not fully broken down from getting into the bloodstream. When the gut is leaky, unbroken down food particles leak through fissures in the gut and into the bloodstream. These unbroken down food particles are foreign to the body, and immune cells will attack them as if they were a pathogenic invader. Even if you ate a piece of kale, since it is not completely broken down, it will be foreign to the immune system, and will be attacked.

What Causes Leaky Gut?

  •  Inflammation in the intestinal wall

  • Food sensitivities

  • Diets high in sugar and simple carbohydrates

  • Alcohol

  • Caffeine

  • Stress

Why is Leaky Gut a Problem?

  • Cells do not receive proper nourishment

  • Immune cells in our intestinal lining are compromised—70% of the immune system is in our gut lining!

  • The body is less resistant to infection

  • We are susceptible to autoimmune diseases where the body starts to strike itself; all auto immune diseases are born in the gut. Dr. Natasha Campbell-Mcbride, physician and known for her groundbreaking work with GAPS (Gut And Psychology Syndrome),  and many other pieces of research have stated that autoimmune diseases are a digestive disorder.

Tips to Heal and Avoid Leaky Gut

1. Take a Probiotic

Probiotics help to rebuild the microbiome (intestinal flora), strengthen the immune system, and reduce chronic inflammation.

2. Add Apple cider vinegar to your glass of water upon waking

Try adding a teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar to lukewarm or warm water. Acids improve digestion and limit growth of unfriendly bacteria.

3. Take an L-Glutamine Supplement

L-Glutamine is the preferred source of fuel for the small intestines to rebuild and repair. It acts as a band-aid for further damage and protection. It also improves metabolism and detoxification. You can also add foods rich in L-Glutamine, such as bone broth, spirulina, asparagus, turkey and wild fish.

4. Try an Elimination Diet. Foods that trigger leaky gut contain gluten, dairy, corn, eggs and soy.

If you are experiencing brain fog, depression, bloating, gas, or having trouble losing weight, this could be caused by a leaky gut. If you would like support in resolving this issue, schedule a complimentary consultation with me. 

How to Beat Belly Fat

Brittany Carlson

What is Belly Fat? 

Belly fat is actually metabolically different than other fat found under our skin. Belly fat is caused by a rise in insulin levels, also known as the fat storage hormone.

 What Elevates Insulin Levels?

  • Low fat diets. For example, low fat yogurt and low fat milk or cereals. “Low fat” typically = added sugar or salt to make up for the missing fat.

  • Diets high in oxidized oils

  • Excess alcohol

  • Diets high in processed foods

  • Diets high in sugar

What's the Big Problem with Belly Fat?

  • Belly fat is anabolic, meaning fat cells are hungry for more fat cells, resulting in more fat around your waistline before you know it.

  • People who retain belly fat also gain weight back quickly after they lose it. These are the kind of people whose weight tends to yo-yo.

  • Belly fat can often indicate an unhealthy liver. Excess fat cells in our liver will often appear on the body as belly fat.

  • Belly fat negatively affects metabolism, leading to insulin resistance and type II diabetes.

So What's the Solution?

  • Consume foods that digest more slowly. Foods such as complex carbohydrates (squash, carrots, whole grains) and healthy fats (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, and ghee), decrease insulin levels and cause belly fat to simply melt away". You can starve those fat cells!
  • Shift to a paleo or plant based diet 
  • Eliminate refined sugars and carbohydrates that jack up insulin levels

Remember, food isn't just calories. As Dr. Mark Hyman, physician and international leader in the field of Functional Medicine says, food tells your cells what to do with every single biteSo upgrade your biological software, don’t give your body bad information!

Why You Should Eat Sulfur-Rich Veggies on the Reg

Brittany Carlson

Sulfur rich veggies haven't really been outed yet. We hear a lot about antioxidant-rich vegetables like dark leafy greens but not so much about the sulfur veggies. Recently, however, these vegetables have been gaining momentum, stemming from Dr. Terry Wahls, the well-known author of theWahls Protocol. Dr. Wahls advises her patients suffering from multiple sclerosis to consume at least three cups of sulfur rich veggies a day. Sulfur should be on everyone's radar though as it is absolutely essential to your health. The more you get, the better.

So what is sulfur? 
Sulfur is a compound found in the human body as well as in certain foods, which is crucial to your body's health and physiology.

What does sulfur do for your body? 
* Supports your body’s ability to detoxify unwanted toxins and chemicals. 
* Helps break down protein to produce collagen, which is important for maintaining your skin and joints. Many people that suffer from arthritis take a sulfur supplement to calm joint pain. Collagen also builds healthy and beautiful skin, hair and nails. 
* Keeps your blood vessels elastic, which is essential for blood to reach the heart and the brain. This helps fight cardiovascular disease and protects the central nervous system. 
* Assists in the production of glutathione, which is considered one of the bodies most powerful antioxidants and is crucial for longevity. A poor diet and environmental toxins reduce glutathione production in the body.

Which vegetables contain sulfur? 

The Cabbage, Onion and Mushroom families are all rich in the sulfur compound. Here are some specific sulfur rich veggies to be sure to add into your daily diet. Focus on eating a variety of these vegetables as they all have different health benefits.

Brussels sprouts, and check out the recipe below! 
Bok choy

Recommendation: Eat at least 1-2 cup of sulfur rich vegetables a day, ideally three!

The Best Ginger Miso Baked Brussel Sprouts

1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/3 cup chickpeas
optional: parsley to garnish (and eat!)

For the Ginger Miso Sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon miso
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger powder


  • Heat oven to 400 degrees

  • Toss brussel sprouts and chickpeas with olive oil and salt.

  • Bake brussel sprouts and chickpeas for about 40 minutes until lightly browned and starting to crisp. Stir veggies halfway through cooking.

  • While brussel sprouts and chickpeas are baking, combine all of the dressing ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

  • Once veggies are done, transfer to a serving plate and drizzle in dressing. Enjoy!