I recently watched the Lyme Summit #3 produced by Dr. Jay Davidson and was so impressed with the amount of information and the diversity of speakers included in it that I had to share some of the knowledge nuggets that I learned. In the summit, Dr. Jay Davidson covers the latest testing and treatments on Lyme. If you suspect Lyme, are dealing with Lyme, or are not seeing resolution of your chronic symptoms, I encourage you to check out this summit as it is a great resource for information.
Interestingly, Lyme disease affects more people annually than breast cancer. Many people can live their lives suffering from Lyme disease and not even know that they have it since symptoms may be few and lack the obvious like joint pain that is commonly associated with the disease. It’s known as the “Great Imitator” because the symptoms can mimic almost any chronic condition causing the individual to be misdiagnosed. If you feel you’re not at risk for Lyme disease given your location, think again. Lyme disease is more prevalent in northeastern states, but cases of Lyme have been reported in all 50 states.
Most people associate getting the bulls-eye rash with Lyme disease, but that does not commonly occur. Early symptoms can result in flu-like symptoms and fatigue within a week or two, and since most people forget about being bit by a tick by then, or don’t even think to associate their symptoms to the tick bite, correlation can be very hard to discern. It is also not uncommon for some people to not experience any symptoms until a strong emotional event or trauma occurs much later in life, which can trigger an immune response and causes the Lyme bacteria to become active.
Symptoms vary across the board and many symptoms can often be mislabeled as another chronic disease or autoimmune diagnosis like Fibromyalgia, MS, Parkinson’s, ALS, and chronic fatigue syndrome. Here is a list of common symptoms to look out for.
Lyme and Co-infections
Lyme disease is caused by a type of bacterium referred to as a spirochete called Borrelia burgdorferi. Once a person is infected with this type of bacterium, the spiral-shaped spirochete can invade various parts of the body, including the brain. Co-infections are common with Lyme since the infected host can harbor other parasites, bacteria, fungi, and viruses along with it. A few of the co-infections associated with Lyme include the following:
Testing for Lyme disease can be very complicated, expensive, and can often result in false negatives. If you suspect Lyme disease and have received a negative from a test, please don’t discount it. No Lyme test is 100% accurate. You may need to do a handful of other tests before a diagnosis of Lyme disease can be confirmed. Working with a Lyme literate medical doctor (LLMD) or another practitioner with experience in treating Lyme is highly recommended as it may involve a thorough history and exam before a definite diagnosis can be made. The standard two-step lab test recommended by the CDC is the most well- known test by physicians and is the most commonly used method of testing. It looks at antibodies the immune system produced after coming into contact with the Lyme bacteria. However, many people can have Lyme disease but not have antibodies that are being produced or picked up at the time of testing. This test may be covered by insurance and is more affordable than some of the advanced Lyme tests depending on your insurance, so it can be a good place to start. The following is by no means a comprehensive list of testing options for Lyme (as there are many), but rather some of the tests that the experts in the summit referenced:
IGeneX- Uses advanced techniques for Lyme testing and offers a broad range of panels to choose from. It’s one of the most popular tests amongst healthcare practitioners that I have found as it has gained a great track record for accuracy. A physician order is required for this test.
DNA Connexions- Uses advanced techniques for Lyme testing. One Lyme panel offered, which tests for 4 different genes that are the most common cause of Lyme disease along with 8 common Lyme disease co-infectors. You can test without a physician’s order.
VCSTest- Visual contrast sensitivity test is a test created by Dr. Shoemaker which measures your ability to see details at low contrast levels. It is not used as diagnostic tool for a specific health condition, but a positive result could indicate exposure to mold or biotoxins like Lyme along with a number of other different conditions. It does not require a physician’s order and can be taken from your computer or mobile device. When I did a little research on the test, it looked like it would be a good test to re-take to monitor the progress of treatment after a diagnosis of Lyme was confirmed.
ART- Autonomic response testing developed by Dr. Klinghardt is a form of biofeedback testing that uses kinesiology both with the diagnoses and treatment of Lyme disease. This specific form of testing can pick up on underlying issues that are commonly missed by conventional testing if carried out by a trained practitioner.
Testing for Lyme disease is difficult because the Borrelia bacteria do not typically hang out in the blood. Because of this, provocation before blood or urine testing is recommended. Deep tissue massage or exercise were suggested that will help to provoke the Lyme bacterium from the tissues. One technique that Dr. Klinghardt has found to be very successful and one that he uses in clinic involve the use of ultrasound over areas where Lyme is suspected. The ultrasound will help to draw out the microbes within the tissues and bring them into circulation prior to collecting urine using a PCR test for Lyme. Another interesting technique noted was mentioned by Dr. Rudy Mueller. He uses glutathione as a binder to the mycotoxin, similar to using a chelating agent like DMSA for heavy metals, so that it can liberate it from the tissues and pull it into circulation.
Genetic analysis is becoming a popular trend for improving treatment in health. There are a handful of genetic variants that may impair critical functions in the body relating to detoxification and nutrition, so knowing what your genetic variants are or SNPs can help to better personalize treatment with Lyme disease. Some may feel that their genes determine their destiny, but this is far from the case! It is important to note that environment and circumstances trump genes, and genes can be turned on and off, which is known as epigenetics. Dr. Rob Miller is a genetics expert who uses genetic testing like 23 and me and ancestry.com to look at genetics for detox support. He started seeing a lot of Lyme patient’s and realized there were unique genetic components to all of them that were similar. He covered a myriad of information that would help to personalize treatment for a Lyme patient based on their genetic report. More information can be obtained from his site to learn more. He spoke quite a bit on the HFE 1 and the GAD genes. HFE 1 gene is involved with how we absorb iron. He noticed that this gene was much higher in those that could not beat Lyme disease no matter what they tried and those with this defect should be very careful with iron supplementation. The GAD gene takes glutamate and converts it to GABA. If a Lyme patient has too many GAD genes and they are given GABA for anxiety, they could potentially feel worse, so he suggested that it would be better to start on a low dose of glutamine instead and slowly increase the dose.
Mold exposure can be a trigger for Lyme and co-infections. It can also be the reason that you are not getting well if you have a chronic illness like Lyme disease. Insomnia, GI discomfort, irritability, nose bleeds, and headaches are just a few symptoms of mold. Someone can be exposed to mold and not have any issues, but it can eventually be set off with certain triggers like poor diet, emotional and physical stressors, and other environmental toxins. Mold can be hidden in areas such as bathrooms, HVAC systems, kitchens, carpeting, laundry rooms, and basements. Green Home Supply was a company recommended by Dr. Scott Richmond that can test your home for mold, and they also sell specialized enzymatic products for remediation. There are many labs that can determine exposure to mold, but the Great Plains Mycotox test is one in particular that Dr. Richmond mentioned. It screens for different mycotoxins using a sample of urine. Great Plains is a company I use for my clients, and they are definitely well known for advanced testing in chronic illness. If someone is sensitive to herbs and other treatments, he definitely considers mold to be an issue. When purchasing a new house, he suggested hiring a certified mold inspector to look at dust samples, air quality samples, environmental factors like radon, and signs of water damage, and be sure to ask the owners for disclosure.
Building up the health of the gut is essential to ensure adequate recovery. Eliminating inflammatory foods, difficult to digest foods, and any known food allergens or sensitivities goes right along with this. A whole food, Paleo approach to diet can be very beneficial to supporting the immune system and to lowering inflammation. Most experts agree that eliminating inflammatory foods like grains and refined sugar can be very beneficial for boosting immunity. Sarah Ballantyne (a.k.a The Paleo Mom) reviewed a wealth of information on the Paleo diet pertaining specifically to gut health. A plant-based Ketogenic diet, which Dr. David Jockers did a very interesting segment on, has also shown to benefit those suffering from Lyme disease. However, a Ketogenic diet is not for everyone, and it should always be individualized as with any diet. Darren Schmidt talked about the importance of detoxing and addressing any mold issues before going into ketosis and how cycling in and out of ketosis is the ideal route to go.
Address Lyme and Co-Infections Last
If someone is dealing with Lyme disease, they are almost guaranteed to be dealing with other toxicities, viruses, infections, and pathogens. Healing the gut, adrenals, and supporting the organs of elimination should be addressed first. Drainage was a big topic covered, which includes supporting the liver, gallbladder, kidneys, colon, and lymphatics. Nick Ellenson discussed doing coffee enemas several times a week for liver/gallbladder and detox support. More information including the exact preparation and brands of coffee to use for the coffee enemas can be found here. Homeopathy, acupuncture, ionic foot baths, and castor oil packs were a few other drainage modalities mentioned. Removing parasites after addressing the gut and drainage also takes high priority as it can be extremely difficult to heal from Lyme with them present. Parasites can harbor Candida, heavy metals, and other infections, and they can also clog up the bile ducts, because of this, it’s crucial to get them out to begin to heal. After a parasite infection is removed, then one can begin to work on other areas like heavy metal toxicity, mold, and viruses if present, then begin moving towards tackling Lyme and other co-infections last.
CBD Oil for Symptom Management
Philip Blair discussed the use of CBD oil from hemp for rebalancing the endocannabinoid system and for the management of symptoms related to Lyme disease like pain, anxiety, and insomnia. He stated that people who took antibiotics for Lyme but still had symptoms are due to the cytokines caused by Lyme disease. CBD oil can help because research shows that it crosses the blood-brain barrier and calms inflammation in the brain. He recommended specifically the Elixinol brand and stated that it is best to take all forms under the tongue (gargled and swirled around in mouth) for maximum absorption and benefit. An initial dose of 15 mg 2 times a day was suggested, which can then be titrated up until results noted. He also mentioned that Omega-3s are an important component of healing the endocannabinoid system, so cod liver and fish oil, walnuts, flax seeds, and egg yolks are good sources to include in the diet.
When you’re dealing with any chronic illness, it’s important to address not only the physical side but also the emotional and spiritual side so that the body has a better chance of healing. Emotional traumas can often be the trigger for the disease, so it’s not just about genetics and lifestyle. Trina Hammock states that Lyme disease on the emotional level is set off by a separation conflict by your family or clan, and a great deal of healing can occur once this is resolved. Emotional trauma will show up in different parts of the brain, which Hammock states look like tree rings that you can see on a no-contrast CT. If you have similar patterns or conflicts resurfacing in your life, she states that your subconscious will bring them back up to get you to resolve them. Emotional work takes time, just like healing does, but once you move through it, you will feel more at peace with life and your gains in health will be noticed.
Disclaimer: The information was taken as notes during the summit and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
Know Thy Food
,Spring is almost here! And in the plant world, that means full bloom! As I am planning new additions to my garden and spending more time perusing the farmers market now that the weather is warming, it got me thinking a lot about how much of an impact these two habits have become in my life. As a dietitian who has counseled hundreds of patients suffering from chronic symptoms and as someone who has personally gone through my fair share of health challenges, I have developed a strong passion for not just healthy food that will nourish the body, but also sustainable, locally sourced food. By implementing these not so common tips, you too may begin to build a stronger connection with the food that you eat, resulting in improved health all around.
Get To Know Your Local Farmers
The benefits to both the consumer and producer are huge! With the growth in the organic movement, more people are recognizing the importance of chemical-free produce and are taking an interest in what farmers are using on their crops and how they are raising their livestock. When you buy directly from farmers, you are supporting both small, independent farms and your community, and in doing so, you learn where your food comes from and how it is produced. The seasonal fruits and veggies that you will find at the market will be extremely fresh and tastes better too! You don’t get this luxury by visiting your local supermarket. You’ll soon catch yourself leaving those mealy, bland grocery store tomatoes behind once you discover new seasonal treats like Chocolate Cherry and Cherokee Purple tomatoes that are bursting with flavor!
When I first started going to farmers markets, I would go casually once or twice a month. But over time, and as I began to talk to the farmers and learn about their family and farming practices, I found myself going every weekend in rain, snow, or shine to get the freshest and tastiest produce available. It’s also therapeutic, in a way, knowing where my food comes from, the nourishment that we receive from it, and the support that I am providing to these hard-working families.
So where does the large majority of our food even come from? Factory farming is where the majority of the meat and dairy in the U.S. is produced. Factory farming is an operation that raises large numbers of animals for food. Because many of these animals are intensely confined, they have to give them antibiotics in their feed so they can stay “healthy” and not wipe out the entire livestock. The animals are also given antibiotics to help them grow. (1) And they are fed a diet that is grain based and most often genetically modified, which is not their normal diet and can make them sick. What does this translate to us? When you consume animal products that have been raised on a foreign, antibiotic enriched diet, this chronic low dose exposure has the potential to damage our microbiome.
Support Your Microbiome
The human microbiome consists of trillions of microbes that inhabit our bodies, and imbalances in the microbiome have been associated with cancer, autism, asthma, diabetes (type 1 and 2), inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, as well as many other diseases. (2) It is well known that antibiotics alter the gut microbiome, and the alterations that occur can last months to years. (3) Overexposure to antibiotics both in medical use and from the consumption of animal products that were raised on antibiotics has also been linked to the rise in antibiotic-resistance. One study found that the abundance in antibiotic resistance genes were highest in the antibiotics that have been on the market the longest as well as those that had been approved for animal use. (1)
Industrial agriculture uses high amounts of toxic pesticides and fertilizers that pollute the environment, compromise ecosystems, and alter our gut microbiome. Synthetic chemicals that are used on crops are a global concern as these endocrine disrupting chemicals can interfere with our delicate hormone balance resulting in both developmental and reproductive abnormalities. (4) There is also growing concern regarding the impact that they can have on our gastrointestinal tract function. A study conducted on rats found that exposure to low doses of pesticides caused morphological changes in the intestinal epithelium, increased intestinal permeability and bacterial translocation, and was associated with an imbalance in the intestinal microbiota. (5) When purchasing produce, you will want to look at the Dirty Dozen list, which is a list composed by the Environmental Working Group where they ranked 48 items from worst to best for pesticide residue load. Strawberries, spinach, nectarines, and apples are some of the worst ones that are at the top of the list, so you will want to buy organic to avoid high pesticide exposure. Others like sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, and cabbage are at the bottom of the list meaning they have lower amounts of pesticide residue. I recommend buying and growing organic as much as possible, but if you’re on a budget or unable to get organic, this list is great to help you prioritize your purchase. (6)
Get More Bang For Your Buck
Farmers markets allow you to ask farmers how they raise their animals and how they grow their crops without having to just rely on the certified organic seal or grass-fed label. You’ll find many sustainable farms that don’t use pesticides, but they are not certified organic. Talk with the farmers and ask them if they use chemical fertilizers or pesticides and how they deal with pests. Ask them about the diet of their livestock and if they’re raised on pasture or given antibiotics. Purchasing antibiotic-free, grass-fed, pasture-raised meat and eggs, as well as pesticide-free produce, are just a few ways that you can control and limit the amount of toxins that you are exposed to as well as a way to get more nutrition from the food that you eat. Pastured animal products have been shown to have a superior nutrient profile compared to their grain-fed counterparts. Research shows that grass-fed beef is lower in total fat, and higher in omega 3 fatty acids, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), Vitamins A and E, and the antioxidants glutathione and superoxide dismutase. (3)
My little one helping me in the garden
Grow Your Own
There are numerous benefits to growing your food. It saves you money- especially on organic produce, allows you to eat in season, increases your intake of fruits and vegetables, guarantees that your food is fresh, and it can be a valuable tool that helps you to teach your children healthy nutrition and eating habits. I love growing my food and having it easily available. A little effort on the front provides a healthy abundance of food that lasts all season.
Get The Most Nutrients Out of Your Food
When you eat food that has been picked fresh from your garden, or that was grown locally, you are provided with one of the richest sources of nutrients and beneficial microbes that can be offered. Most of the food that we eat is shipped long distances before it reaches our plate and is picked before it is ripe. Farming practices specifically related to soil fertility have a big impact on the nutritional quality of the produce that ends up in your mouth, but other factors include storage and temperature. For instance, research done on stored spinach showed higher loses in folate and carotenoid content when stored at temperatures of 50 and 68 degrees. The same loses were shown with cooler temperatures at 39 degrees and longer storage times at 8 days. (7)
Gardening Made Easy
You don’t have to be an experienced gardener either nor do you need a lot of space. Raised bed gardens are my favorite way to grow because it cuts down on weeding and makes planting and tending to the soil so much easier than having to amend existing soil. If you’re tight on space, use pots to plant strawberries, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, zucchini, squash, and a wide assortment of herbs. For trailing plants use cages, trellises, or stakes to allow them to climb. However, the one thing you do need to have is enough sun. If you live in a shady spot, purchase from your local farmers as you will still be able to reap the benefits as if you were growing it your own.
Candida albicans is a fungus that is found in the body in over 70% of the population, and it naturally colonizes the gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity, and reproductive tract of healthy individuals. We want it in balanced proportions within our microbiota because an imbalance can cause a myriad of chronic symptoms and infections, some which can be life-threatening. It’s only when disruption occurs to the immune system, the intestinal barrier, or the local microenvironment of the individual that Candida can proliferate and become a problem. Infections from Candida happen when it invades and damages epithelial cells or when it penetrates through epithelial barriers. (1) An imbalance in the intestinal microbiota, better known as dysbiosis, is closely linked to many diseases as well as the cause for many symptoms. However, Candida is just one of many causes for the development of dysbiosis.
As a healthcare practitioner, Candida conversations have come up often in practice. It’s something that is well known and often gets blamed as the cause for many ailments. You may have even decided to do a Candida cleanse when it was suspected to be the root of your issue. A quick search online linking your symptoms to a Candida overgrowth can very easily result in numerous articles that make it quite convincing that this is indeed your problem. However, if you did a Candida cleanse and you continue to have the same symptoms, then there are likely a couple of things going on. If you didn’t get testing done to confirm that it was Candida, then there is a possibility that your symptoms weren’t due to a Candida overgrowth. Another possibility is that the Candida cleanse was not effective at restoring balance either due to the protocol that was followed or by not following it long enough. Or it could just be that there is something else going on either in isolation or in conjunction with a Candida overgrowth, which most often is the case. If the conditions were favorable to allow Candida to overgrow in the first place, then it’s highly likely there could be other imbalances within the microbiota or damage to the barrier integrity that could be at play.
Symptoms of Candida
The most common symptoms typically associated with a Candida overgrowth are a vaginal yeast infection and oral thrush. However, given that Candida is a highly adaptable species, under certain circumstances, it can cause infection throughout different organs within the body. It can cause digestive issues like that found in irritable bowel syndrome such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, and intestinal pain. (2,3) Other signs and symptoms of Candida can include depression, irritability, anxiety, joint pain, hormone imbalance, chronic fatigue, headaches, respiratory problems, bladder infections, and skin issues; (3) however, this is just a partial list. Overall, the symptoms are nonspecific and can manifest in many ways.
Testing for Candida Overgrowth
Functional lab testing is very useful to help get to the root of an issue, and it is something I often utilize with my clients. My philosophy is why guess when you can test, and it is the foundation of Functional Medicine. Two tests that I use to look for an overgrowth of Candida are a stool test from BioHealth Laboratory and an Organic Acids Test (OAT) from The Great Plains Laboratory that detects D-Arabinitol. Both can help to identify yeast, but I also do a comprehensive assessment and do not solely rely on the test itself when determining the best plan of care. If you suspect Candida may be your problem or you completed a Candida cleanse and you still have symptoms, then it’s worth seeking out a functional health practitioner that can order one of these tests for you. If you have confirmed that Candida is not the culprit, then consider the following conditions that are linked to many health problems.
Conditions With Overlapping Symptoms Or That Commonly Follow a Candida Overgrowth
Symptoms of a Candida overgrowth can be very similar to the following imbalances, and they can also commonly accompany a Candida overgrowth. Since dysbiosis can make one more susceptible to other microbes, consider investigating into the following if you’re not getting better.
Parasitic infection- You don’t have to travel out of the country to get parasites. Millions of people in the United States are affected by a parasitic infection each year. (4) Parasites can enter the body through contaminated food and water, undercooked meat, and improper hand washing. Symptoms of foodborne parasitic infection can include diarrhea, abdominal and muscle pain, weight loss, skin lesions, neurological symptoms as well as many other symptoms depending on the organism. (5) Also, depending on the person’s immune status, some organisms may cause no symptoms with the symptoms only appearing once the individual becomes immunocompromised. (6)
Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)- SIBO is just like the name implies, it’s an overgrowth or an increase in the number and alteration in the type of bacteria in the small bowel. It is a complex condition that has many potential causes some which include low stomach acid, autoimmune disorders, prior bowel surgery, diabetes, narcotic and proton pump inhibitor use. Some of the most common symptoms of SIBO are diarrhea, flatulence, abdominal pain, and bloating. However, it is possible there may be no gastrointestinal symptoms present, which can make it even trickier to diagnose. (7,8) You can perform a breath test that measures both exhaled hydrogen and methane to determine the presence of SIBO, but looking at your symptoms as a whole is just as important with the interpretation of these tests.
Leaky Gut- Leaky gut or intestinal permeability simply put is when the tight junctions within the gut don’t work properly, which can cause foreign substances to leak into the bloodstream. These foreign substances can be undigested food, toxins, and bacteria. Symptoms vary widely from person to person and are extremely broad. A few symptoms associated with intestinal permeability include bloating, gas, cramps, food sensitivities, aches, and pains. (9) The gut infections and imbalances mentioned above can lead to a breakdown of the gut barrier, but other potential causes include food sensitivities, medications, stress, and exposure to toxic mold. There are also a number of different diseases that have been found to be associated with alterations in the intestinal barrier. (10) Identifying and treating the underlying condition while addressing diet and lifestyle factors are critical to building up the health and ecology of the gut microbiome. I typically don’t test for intestinal permeability as I tend to focus on the underlying causes and will address that. Once the underlying causes are addressed, and diet and lifestyle modifications are made to assist in balancing and healing the gut, symptoms will typically resolve.
Because the symptoms of a Candida overgrowth along with a handful of other conditions are nonspecific, it makes it very challenging to treat appropriately without the right tests. Further, you may not be as diligent about following a specific protocol that’s aimed at restoring balance if you are not 100% sure that it was your problem to begin with; this is why it’s so important to know what you’re up against! Various functional lab tests can help to determine the cause of your symptoms. All of the conditions mentioned above can be tested using saliva, breath, urine, or stool samples, and they are often completed in the comfort of your own home. In some cases, insurance may not cover for these tests. If insurance does not cover, don’t let this deter you from getting tested. If you have been suffering from chronic, recurrent infections or symptoms, then it’s worth the price of paying out of pocket because it can save you from paying the cost later in life.
How to decrease sugar intake and overcome a sugar addiction
The average American consumes 66 pounds of added sugar, per year, if eating the standard American diet; this translates into about 19.5 teaspoons every day. (1) Added sugar is found in processed and packaged foods and is added for a variety of reasons: It improves taste, balances spicy, bitter, and sour components of sauces and marinades, acts as a preservative, and makes certain foods more palatable so people will eat them. Sugar is added to many foods, not just the ones that are intentionally made to be sweet, so it’s easy to eat a decent amount of added sugar in one day without even touching the sweets. Then we have the holidays that are typically entertained around an assortment of sugary foods, drinks, and desserts. After a full month of holiday parties, events, and gifts filled with peppermint bark, Christmas cookies, chocolate truffles, and other rich desserts, you’ll find yourself starting the New Year with a raging sweet tooth, making the health goal you have set for the New Year that much challenging.
Sugars addictive nature has been well researched, and numerous studies are indicating that it’s addicting in the same way as other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and heroin. Documentation both in human and animal studies show that drugs of abuse and certain types of palatable foods like high sugar foods, cause a release of dopamine into the nucleus accumbens, which stimulates the brain’s pleasure or reward centers. Further, clinical studies using brain imagining show the same dopamine receptors lighting up in some obese people after ingesting palatable food as when alcoholics and drug addicts use alcohol or addictive drugs. (2,3) Could sugar be the most popular drug? It appears to be that way given the effects it has on the body, minus the short-term side effects. But what about the long-term side effects?
The ingestion of sugar causes inflammation within the body, and when consumed in excess over an extended period, can lead to many chronic diseases, not to mention tooth decay. Some of the top health problems include increased risk for heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. Some less common side effects that are not usually associated with sugar intake include mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory loss, and impaired learning. The effects of sugar are different for everyone. Some people are more sensitive to sugar than others, and in those highly sensitive individuals, significant behavioral changes manifest that can significantly impair their quality of life. In children, the effects that sugar can have can be seen more on the extreme side from tantrums to outbursts and other behavioral and learning problems.
Improve sugar cravings and decrease sugar intake
Living In a state of gratitude
Living in a state of gratitude allows for new possibilities in your life to take form. It takes conscious effort to begin shifting your state of being, but when you do, it can dramatically change your life. If you’re trying to improve your health, happiness, or any area of your life, you must first come from a place of gratitude. However, this fast-paced, busy lifestyle that we live in can cause us to easily get disconnected from our body, which can also cause us to focus on what we don’t have or what is going wrong in our lives. Unfortunately, when we get overloaded with everyday life, it sometimes takes a hardship, a decline of health, or a holiday to make us slow down and review what it is in our lives that bring us joy and makes us truly grateful. When we are grateful, it makes us lighter and happier, and when we feel good, it makes it easier to reach our health goals; because let’s face it, in times of stress and negativity, we are the most vulnerable. Let’s first take a look at negative emotions to see why it can be difficult to break away from them so that we can begin living in a state of gratitude.
Negative Emotions Are Addicting
Emotional addictions can be just as powerful as addictions to all drugs of abuse if they become frequent and are repeated long enough. Serotonin, dopamine, and GABA are just a few of the neurotransmitters in the brain that influence our emotions, feelings, and passions. They can easily get out of balance due to a variety of things, such as diet, disease, external stimuli, as well as both environmental and genetic factors. Further, when we experience any strong negative emotion like agitation, worry, judgment, or low self-esteem, the body begins to crave more of the same and will seek out situations that will produce the desired result.
If you’re unconscious of negative thought patterns in your life, they can literally take over and control how you begin to think, feel, and act. For instance, you start your morning with agitation towards your spouse or coworker, only to find you are feeling rushed and overwhelmed to finish a project, which carries on to feelings of sadness about some lack within your life. If you do not put awareness towards this emotional addiction, then it can continue building momentum and carry on with you. Pretty soon, a few days, a week, or even a month passes and you either blow up, have a meltdown, or just crash. Consequently, your health and mood begin to suffer because strong emotions are stored in the body’s tissues and can manifest in disease and illness if suppressed; it’s a vicious cycle. It would make life much easier if we were wired to be addicted to happy thoughts and emotions like we are with negative ones…right!
There are obviously many physiological and physical reasons that one could be emotionally addicted or conditioned to the negative pattern of thinking and feeling, but first, it’s important to recognize this so that you can begin to develop new patterns of thinking and feeling. It doesn’t happen overnight, but with anything, the more you practice and the more you put attention towards it, the easier it becomes.
Exercises to Begin Living in a State of Gratitude
Gratitude is an extremely powerful emotion because it not only produces the feel-good chemicals in the brain and body, lowers cortisol, and improves health, but it can be used in almost any unpleasant situation in life to shift your energy from the negative to the positive. Things in life happen all the time that we don’t always have control over. By incorporating a few of these principles, you’ll find yourself naturally gravitating towards gratuity!
Awareness is being conscious of your thoughts and feelings, the messages that your body is trying to tell you, and the environment in which you are in and the people you interact with. One way to raise awareness is to set an intention in the morning or in the evening to be more present in your day. When you are present, it allows you to be grateful for what you have now, and it draws more of the energy to meet that vibration to you, just like in the Law of Attraction- what you focus on, you attract.
Studies have shown that as long as the necessities of life such as food and shelter are met, additional wealth or material goods have very little effect on happiness. Happiness is not attained by something outside of us; it’s an internal state. Meditation is incredibly powerful in so many ways, but two specific things that it can do is create more happiness and peace in your life and allow connection to happen with your higher self, which is so important in this crazy world! When you are connected with your higher self, your life begins to flow with ease.
3. Act of Giving
We’ve all heard the expression, what you give out you receive back. One way this works is that it elicits feelings of gratitude when you give of your time, attention, words, or actions. It also makes you happy, and when you’re happy, you’re automatically living in a state of gratitude.
4. Verbally Express Your Gratitude
One of the easiest ways to bring more gratitude into your life is by saying it. The next time someone does something nice for you or does something small to show they care, make sure to tell them. It may not seem worth expressing at the time, but words can have a powerful effect, both in how it makes you feel as well as the other person.
So instead of letting the emotional addiction control you, practice allowing gratitude to flow through you and begin to see the leaps in your health and happiness that you’ll make because of it!
I'm Meagan Reynolds- a certified functional medicine practitioner and dietitian located in Nashville, TN. I help women reverse Hashimoto's symptoms so they can regain their energy and heal their brain and body.