Microbiome…What Did You Say?

The first time I heard the term microbiome during my training to become a Certified Health Coach I looked it up to see what it meant. Here is what Wikipedia has to say: A microbiome is “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space. The term comes from a Nobel Prize recipient, Joshua Lederberg (5/25/1925-2/2/2008), an American molecular biologist who among other things discovered that bacteria can mate and exchange genes. Pretty cool stuff huh!

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https://www.broadinstitute.org/news/4199

The term I use as a Health Coach is “gut flora” which sounds just a little less scientific. The truth is our digestive system is important for us to understand if we wish to remain healthy. It often is not the first place we think to look when we’re not feeling well but it is the system that processes and absorbs nutrients so if it’s off we are not getting our nutritional needs met.

Microbiome comes up a lot in the work I do with people in my health coaching practice seeking to improve their health. What I have learned and pass along is that we can be healthy but if out gut flora is not balanced we run the risk of compromised immune or nervous systems and this can also create and imbalance in our hormones resulting in mood and in some cases more serious mental health issues. Let’s take a look at the digestive system to gain a little insight into what it does to keep us healthy.

 

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http://www.health-lesson-plans-teacher.com/digestivesystem.html

We actually start digesting food the minute we come into contact with it. In fact smelling food starts our salivary glands working even before the food enter our mouth. When we take the time to chew our food (chewing until food becomes fairly liquid is best) it enters the next leg of the journey pre-digested helping the process along. The food then travels to our stomach where it mixes with acids before going into our large intestine first and then on to our small intestine where the nutrients are absorbed. The health of our gut flora is most critical at this point as the villi in the small intestine absorb our nutrients. If the villi have been damaged by too much unhealthy fats, chemicals and sugars they are unable to gather nutrients from the food we eat.

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Our liver works to process the toxins that travel with our foods. Some of these toxins are excess sugars and fats, pesticides, heavy metals and other foreign substances.

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http://www.health-lesson-plans-teacher.com/digestivesystem.html

My mother was always saying “chew your food” while my father would say “where’s the fire slow down”. As a rather hyper kid mealtime was one more thing that got in the way of being outside running around which helped me manage all that energy. I was fortunate to have had an abundance of fresh real foods available to me as a kid growing up in northern California, pre Silicon Valley Santa Clara County. There were small farms and ranches all around me so fresh produce, nuts and fruit was available at farm stands and in the grocery stores year round. We ate wild meats most often such as venison, wild fowl and fish so the possibility of hormones or antibiotics that are so commonly in meats we find in the store now was not there.

I grew up in a generation where healthier food options were the norm. I can remember when McDonalds opened in Gilroy and fast food became available. Children since the 1970s have increasingly been exposed to more fast foods, processed foods, chemicals and GMOs in their food supply. Food production standards claim to be higher but they are not taking into account the fact that so much of what most people eat is not live food. The most important thing I can teach the people who come to me seeking improved health is to eat real, fresh food free from chemicals and GMOs. Skip the processed, fast foods and beverages that provide nearly zero nutritional value and wreck havoc on our digestive systems.

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It’s in our control to begin to eat healthier and to treat our bodies well. If we assume our body will withstand the unhealthy foods and drinks we consume without adverse effects over time we will find ourselves with health issues at some point.

Visit a local farm or farmer’s market this week and find some real food.

Be Well

http://leanne_yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com

Musing about Peace – Ask the Children

A mamma house sparrow has taken up residence in my yard next to the pond. She started making her nest early in May by pulling apart the string I’d strung for my snow peas. We came to an understanding about the string which meant I cut pieces into manageable sizes for her to carry off without disrupting my pea fence. I love it when things can be negotiated and resolved, when we can share our resources so all life can benefit. I also love watching her care for her babes as they grow into strong healthy birds who will likely make other nests in or around my yard. Supporting the perpetuation of life in this small way is extremely rewarding to me.

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This week has brought much news about places in our world where negotiation and resolution is all but lost. Where coming to an understanding about resources and land have gone woefully wrong. As I listened to the news of the Middle East and the escalation of force I couldn’t help thinking about the people there who are simply trying to get by one day at a time like me. People who are exhausted by the constant threat of violence at the hands of leaders who can’t seem to listen to their “enemy.” How can we live in a world where our neighbors live in constant fear of war, of guns and bombs that in fact do kill, and not have a better answer? Do we abandon the children of the world who are truly the most vulnerable by saying that’s just how it has been…what’s to be done about it?

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http://www.veteranstoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Operation-Gaza-Hope-640×405.jpg

A commercial jetliner flying over the Crimean Peninsula carrying people who innocently thought they were going on vacation or off to visit family and friends is shot down as if it posed a threat. How has it come to a place where we have allowed the insanity of disagreement to escalate into acts such as these and not yet in human history been able to come up with a better solution? Again children are among the victims.

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http://gdb.rferl.org/8C62AF4D-9FEE-4509-BB32-9785154F3D35_mw1024_s_n.jpg

And the crisis at our southern borders directly linked to the abuse of children in Central America. Do we turn our backs on them? Do we say “not our problem” and send them back to the hell they came from? Can we really think that we are free from responsibility in this crisis? Did we not provide the weapons to the now drug lords in Central America who are forcing children into drug use and distribution or death? Do we really believe there is no link to the increase in the availability of drugs like heroine in our cities? These are some of the faces crossing our borders illegally…do they pose a threat to us?

Immigration Overload Hot Spot

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At 10 I sat with my father at the dinner table long after the rest of my family had left to discuss my thoughts about war. I have older brothers and was very worried they would be drafted and have to go to Vietnam. My brother Jay was in fact drafted and went to Vietnam. I remember asking my father why we can’t all lay down our weapons. All decide that they are destroying our peace, freedom and in some cases our lives. What is it that keeps us holding tight to the hatred, greed and violence that breeds this behavior? At 10 it was very simple I wanted all weapons destroyed. My father interjected and said that so long as there is more than 1 person on this Earth there is potential for conflict. At 10 I rejected that thinking and stood my ground stating we can learn how to live in peace. It is not as clear to me now how we go about this peacemaking but my conviction remains and I believe that if we are truly motivated by the right things we will find a way. Perhaps we start by asking the children of the world and truly listening to what they have to say.

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Peace and Brightest Blessings

 

 
 

 

 

Social Media & Life

Originally posted on Kira's Good Eats Kitchen:

I woke early this morning to my dogs begging to go out for a walk. It’s one of those days where the air is heavy with rain but it has yet to start so I was a bit slow moving. I grabbed some tea and their leashes and off we went. During our hour long walk we passed fishermen in boats and on the shoreline and a tall stand of cattails growing along the edge of the lake. fishing (640x480)wind

beautiful wildflowers and manicured gardens of all sorts. peawildflower1

The scenery was breathtaking and I felt truly blessed. cottage

As we walked we passed a woman walking her black lab. She didn’t look up to greet us as everyone else we passed had done. She was walking and texting (a skillset I have not achieved) and I found it unsettling that we did not exchange even a hello. I thought how sad she is…

View original 275 more words

Social Media & Life

I woke early this morning to my dogs begging to go out for a walk. It’s one of those days where the air is heavy with rain but it has yet to start so I was a bit slow moving. I grabbed some tea and their leashes and off we went. During our hour long walk we passed fishermen in boats and on the shoreline and a tall stand of cattails growing along the edge of the lake. fishing (640x480) wind

beautiful wildflowers and manicured gardens of all sorts. peawildflower1

The scenery was breathtaking and I felt truly blessed. cottage

As we walked we passed a woman walking her black lab. She didn’t look up to greet us as everyone else we passed had done. She was walking and texting (a skillset I have not achieved) and I found it unsettling that we did not exchange even a hello. I thought how sad she is missing all this beauty and the joy of sharing it with others. We continued on our walk and came upon a bunny sitting pensively as my dogs approached. She was careful not to move hoping she wouldn’t be noticed…fully present and aware of her surrounding. For this pretty little rabbit it is a matter of life and death that she is paying attention to what goes on around her.

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Being more fully present is something we may wish to consider as a healthier approach to living as well. I got to thinking about what I would have missed had I chosen to stay in bed and not taken this walk. If I had gotten up and gone straight to the computer to write my blog post and newsletter this morning. I remembered this youtube piece I’d seen recently by Gary Turk called “Look Up” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY and it solidified my resolve to walk away from my computer, iphone and other devices more often. To make a conscious effort to be fully present when I am with the people I love…and to seek out new people to love and new adventures.

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After all, at the end of the day would like to see first hand a sight like this…or hear about it on social media?

First you need only look: Notice and honor the radiance of everything about you… Play in this universe. Tend all these shining things around you: The smallest plant, the creatures and objects in your care. Be gentle and nurture, Listen… As we experience and accept all that we really are… We grow in care. Anne Hillman

Be Well

http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com https://twitter.com/Kiraskitchen5

To Eat Gluten or not to Eat Gluten…is that the Question?

So what is all the fuss about gluten…and why would anyone want to “go gluten free?” I work with many people who ask me that question as they try to understand what exactly constitutes a gluten free diet. Many people now are wondering if they might want to consider eliminating gluten from their diet, but the messages in the public’s eye are often confusing leaving us unsure.

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Fortunately, there is a lot of information now about the benefits of a gluten free diet. In addition, the availability of real, whole foods that we can eat and not feel deprived is very encouraging. I emphasize real whole foods because there is a ton of processed gluten free foods out there that are not healthy so buyer beware. It is much better to avoid those processed products as it is challenging to truly know whether they contain gluten or not and in many cases they offer little to no nutritional value.

The question about who should consider removing gluten from their diet is not one that can be easily answered without knowing where people are on the spectrum of gluten sensitivity. There is a difference between wanting to eliminate gluten for improved energy and being gluten intolerant or having Celiac Disease. The spectrum regarding gluten below can help to show how many types of people are benefitting from removing gluten from their diets and some of the reasons they have chosen to do so:Image

For people electing to eliminate gluten they often find that they have better energy, their thinking is clearer as is their attention. They also find the added benefit of weight loss if they are looking to shed pounds. These folks have the option of “choosing” to eliminate gluten. For others who suffer from the health risks related to consuming gluten it is not a choice. For people on the higher end of the scale, who are allergic or intolerant it is not an option. These individuals often can develop the most severe gluten issues such as Celiac Disease. Now recognized as a major health issue, people with Celiac Disease struggle with diet and health related issues exacerbated by gluten.

Celiac Disease is an immune system reaction to gluten which affects about 1 in 140 people in the United States alone. It is a digestive disease that damages the lining of the small intestines (the villi) where much of our nutrients are absorbed into the body causing one to not be able to absorb needed nutrients. Celiac is a complicated disease as it not only a digestive disorder it is also an autoimmune disorder. It is genetic and so the likelihood you will have it increases dramatically if a family member is diagnosed with it or if there is a family history of autoimmune disease. For people in this situation it is important to know whether you have the disease and to take action to eliminate all gluten from your diet immediately. I advise people with symptoms related to gluten sensitivity to ask their doctor about how to get tested make sure, and to eliminate gluten as a precaution while they await test results. A typical course of testing may involve an endoscopy but there are many screening blood tests for celiac disease as well. The most sensitive and commonly used, whether symptoms are present or not, is the tTG-IgA test. Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) – The tTG-IgA test will be positive in about 98% of patients with celiac disease who are on a gluten- containing diet.

Common symptoms related to Celiac Disease are unexplained iron-deficiency anemia, fatigue, bone or joint pain, arthritis, bone loss or osteoporosis, depression or anxiety, tingling numbness in the hands and feet, seizures, missed menstrual periods, infertility or recurrent miscarriage, canker sores inside the mouth, an itchy skin rash called dermatitis herpetiformis to name a few. Symptoms vary with each case making it challenging to identify. If you experience these symptoms and are not sure why speak with you doctor about whether you should be screened.

For those people in the optional low risk category who like to bake there are some good alternatives to regular flours on the market now so fear not. I love to bake and have found several good quality ingredients that are consistently certified GF.

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A favorite recipe of mine now available on my website is a bread made with brown rice flour, millet, quinoa and flax meal and it is super simple, http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/recipes. I have also added some good resources to determine if you want to seek medical support to address your gluten related issues.

http://www.celiac.nih.gov

http://www.cureceliacdisease.org

http://www.gluten.net offers information and recipes

Books:

Gluten Free Diet: A Comprehensive Guide by Shelley Case – http://www.glutenfreediet.ca

The Gluten Free Nutrition Guide by Tricia Thompson – http://www.glutenfreedietician.com/

Real Life with Celiac Disease by Melinda Dennis – http://www.deletethewheat.com

Hope you found this helpful. If it is sunny outside where you live get out in it for at least 30 minutes to absorb some that that vitamin D we all need for our immune systems function.

Be Well

Summer’s Bounty

It is the first day of summer which means that our gardens will start to swell with yummy fresh vegetables soon. I love tending gardens even when they get away from me and start growing plants that were not invited. I tend to be one of those gardeners that likes the organic nature of how things grow so neat rows really don’t matter to me. Some of my neighbors might wish I was less of a cottage type gardener but they are kind and marvel at how much produce I can pull out of my tiny little patch of ground.

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 My garden looks more like this one…

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Than it does like this,,, though I truly appreciate all forms of gardening and love browsing catalogs and online to see what creative ideas are out there. I value each individual plant and try to understand it’s purpose even if it is considered a weed. Prior to cultivation many of these so called weeds were staple foods in tribal peoples diets so I think it wise to consider and honor them. This honoring of “weeds” is not an excuse for not keeping my garden weed free…I gave up on that many years ago and still have great fresh vegetables each year.

So the snow peas in my wild little garden are setting flowers now and the baby kale is so tender you can eat it right off the plant…no preparation. I will try to plant my second harvest of snow peas again today since the resident chipmunks decided they liked the pea seeds this year and neatly removed all of them promptly after I planted them.

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I’ll also get the zucchini plants under my form of control (move them off the grass I plan to mow) and then mow the wild lawn before getting into the canoe for a leisurely paddle on the lake with friends. There will soon be more zucchini than can be eaten so hello friends and neighbors welcome to zucchini harvest!

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I guess what I’m trying to say here is that gardens are not meant to be perfect or orderly. Life is not, so why try to create that order in our gardens. Seek the beauty in each plant no matter how seemingly unimportant it appears to be. This coming from someone who knows. Get outside and play on this first day of summer!

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“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round Earth rolls.”         John Muir

Blessed Be

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http://leanne-yinger.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/events

 

 

 

Stay Vacation in Paradise…HOME

My stay vacation in Berkshire County is nearing at an end. I’m happy to say I’ve accomplished many of the house projects I set out to do this week and I had a ton of fun on the cheap. One the favorite things this week was taking a walk with my daughter Kristen and my two dogs on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/ashuwillticook-rail-trail.html where we found a momma duck and her ducklings. She was right out of the children’s story book Make Way for Ducklings. She seemed unfazed by my dogs who by all rights are bird dogs though they have been humanized by me and would rather swim than retrieve birds. Kristen is as much of a birder as I am so we were pretty happy to get photos.ImageImage

After a day of heavy rain I took a walk at Wahconah Falls State Park http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dcr/massparks/region-west/wahconah-falls-state-park-generic.html. The falls were high which I expected, as was the mosquito population but it was completely worth the trip. I took many photos and a 1 minute video of the falls to play when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life. I also got my first 100 mosquito bites for the season.Image

I feel a sense of accomplishment in having my vegetable garden planted and the perennial garden beds somewhat less weedy though that project never ends.The exterior trim around my new kitchen patio door and window are painted a lovely brick red making them stand out. It’s amazing how a little paint can completely brighten things up. I am blessed to have had a kitchen remodel (nearly completed) by a very talented contractor/carpenter. This remodel allows me to offer individual and small group cooking classes in my home kitchen which I truly love. And I get to chat with people like my lovely daughters while cooking too! Image

Today I’ll be on the lake in a canoe with a dear friend. There are many other projects to be done but they will have to wait. In my health coaching practice I encourage others to make room for play in their lives. I’m a work horse so taking time to play and live the balanced life I teach others about can be a challenge for me. Here’s what I do  to remind myself the importance of balance and play: enjoy every moment, seek happiness without any reason to be happy, be yourself and truly love that self, share, know you can cope with difficulties, find time to play and experience the joy in this life. We are here to love and be loved, to experience joy and to share ourselves with others. 

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Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us…in the world and in nature…and within us…in our bodies and our spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Blessed Be