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what your poops want to tell you by michelle cordeiro, cnp

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Quick poll: when you go to the bathroom do you wipe sitting down or standing up? 

It all started with Dan Harmon on a podcast talking about how he wipes his bum. Yep. Just so you know, Dan Harmon is a stander. He goes on to say that his friends all think it's super strange that he stands up, so naturally my roommates and I started discussing. Everyone in the house thought that his standing up routine was weird... 

Except for me. 

I was outed as a stander and was SUPER alone in it. So I started asking around and no matter what you think, the jury is out on this. I. AM. NOT. ALONE. Everyone I harassed for this personal info had such different (and STRONG) opinions on what was the right way to do the thing. I had created a shit storm (heh) of heated debates and I was loving it. 

I realized this is pretty in line with the fact that we just don't talk about our poops! We don't! So often talking with clients I'll find clues that lead to the root cause of an issue through something they take for granted. Something they wouldn't have mentioned if I hadn't asked because it never raised alarm bells to them. I mean really, who do we have to compare our poops to other than ourselves? 

Imagine a world where we knew what our poops were telling us? Where we talked (in beautiful detail) about the shape, size, colour and consistency of our number twos? I mean come onnn how fun would that be ;).

But don't worry, we're going to talk about it right now (no pictures, promise). 

HOW OFTEN 

Okay. In an ideal world, where everything was as it should be, we'd all be going three times a day (aka one meal in, one meal out). But this is hard to come by. Instead, ensuring that you have at least one decent (fully formed, easy to pass) poop a day is a good place to start. Two? Even better. Three? You're killing it. 

A simple way to test your 'transit time' (how long it takes for the food you eat to make it's way out of your body) is the beet test. YUM! Since beets turn your BM's (bowel movements) red, by tracking how long it takes to pass those beets can be a good sign of how long your transit time is. The shorter the better, though the ideal is around 18-24 hours since this is thought to be the average time it takes for your body to remove waste. A longer transit time could be a sign of constipation and might be something to think more about. 

SINK OR FLOAT

Is one right and one wrong? Technically no, but one thing floaters may be telling you is that there's a high fat content making up your BM's, a sign that you're not digesting fats as well as you could be. Bile (produced by your liver) is needed to break down and absorb fats, and fatty poops could mean that your liver isn't quite functioning as it should. Crazy, eh! One small clue from your poop could be a telling sign about a big-shot organ! SO IMPORTANT! 

Since there are other potential causes of this (some totally normal, such as excess gas in your GI tract from certain foods), working with a health practitioner to pinpoint the underlying cause is the best way to properly rule out any issues. 

So while as a general rule I would say you want your poops to sink, there are many reasons floaters are perfectly healthy too. This ONE sign isn't going to make or break your level of GI health, so look deeper at what's going on and (always always always) focus on how you're feeling. 

WHAT SHAPE

According to the Bristol Stool Chart (since I promised no pictures, you'll have to Google it), the ideal BM is long and either smooth or with cracks on the surface. So, there's that. 

Did you Google it? Are you going to buy one of the BSC mugs or novelty t-shirts? Because they make those... the internet is a weird place. 

You also want to look to your poop for signs of improper digestion, which might look like undigested food particles or stool that is small and hard to pass. If you're finding undigested bits, think first about going back to mindful eating and ensuring that you're chewing your meals down to a paste before swallowing. If you find you have trouble passing these small 'deer poops', it sounds like you may, again, be constipated. 

Rather than turning to laxatives, there are many lifestyle and dietary factors to look at. Laxatives have a place, but the overuse of them can lead to a bandaid fix on a long term problem, and could cause your bowels to become lazy and dependent over time. So use them wisely. Tune into your fibre intake, how mindfully you're eating, your exercise routine, diet and lifestyle to see where more sustainable changes can be made. 

SO WHAT TO DO? 

Need someone to talk to about what's going on with your number twos? I got you. I really think sharing these sometimes hard to talk about details with your health practitioner is extremely important. Whether it's me or someone else, finding a practitioner that you feel comfortable with is so so important to your optimal health. 

Because that's what we're after right? Health that isn't just getting us through the day but that allows us to thrive and feel really really good in our bodies. 

For this reason I offer free 15 minute meetups to chat, connect, ask questions and get feedback as to what's causing the funkiness in your gut. Often it's small changes that can reap big big results over time. 

Questions? As always, reach out!

BREW YOUR OWN KOM-BOOCH-A by michelle cordeiro, cnp

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Do you have any rituals that you love? 

Maybe it's waking up and making coffee, spending time in the kitchen, doing a crossword with your roomies (hey guys!), or long afternoon dog walks. For me, it's creating a big batch of home brewed kombucha and watching my baby SCOBY's grow and grow and grow. I LOVE IT. 

If you've ever brewed your own kombucha, you know what I'm talking about. And if you haven't, join me this summer for a Kombucha Making Workshop! I love these workshops and love giving away my boochy expertise, SCOBY's + Starter to get more home brewers going! Join me :) 

I started brewing kombucha about 2 years ago and have pretty much fallen in love with the process, my bebe SCOBY's and the drink itself (tastes great on it's own, flavoured with ginger, or spiked with an added shot of rum). A quick Google search and you'll find the list of potential benefits is quite hefty, but I've found that there are specific advantages that I notice most - more on that soon! 

KOMBUCHA, WHAT ARE YOU? 

Kombucha is a fizzy, fermented bevvie made from tea, sugar and a culture of bacteria and yeast (it's not gross, promise). The tea is fermented for 14-21 days which builds up the healthy acids and probiotics that do wonders for gut health. 

The bacteria and yeast component is called a SCOBY, which stands for Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast. The SCOBY (also known as the culture, the mother, the brain, the jellyfish...) eats up the caffeine and sugar to create organic acids that are present in the final brew. These wonderful acids are great for your health in many many ways, such as... 

THESE ADVANTAGES

We're talking less bloating, better digestion, increased nutrient absorption, energy boosts, immune system improvements, detoxification and on and on it goes. But I encourage (as with all things) to see how it makes you feel in your body and go from there. 

I find that kombucha does WONDERS to boost my stomach acid levels and reduce acid reflux, while helping my digestive system work a little more efficiently. For this same reason, it feels great to down some booch after a big meal when I feel sluggish and bleh. And I mean, it makes sense when you combine the fizz, the organic acids AND the added fresh ginger (that I rarely leave out of a brew because I love the SPICE). 

The probiotics found in kombucha help to reinoculate your gut with GOOD, disease-fighting bacteria that ward off bad bacteria from making a long term home in your belly. And while the amount and strains of these bacteria aren't as plentiful as taking a high dose probiotic supplement, by incorporating kombucha (and other fermented foods) into your diet, you're able to ensure you're getting a small dose of good bacteria each day. I like to think of the probiotics in kombucha as a good maintenance dose that you can easily incorporate into your life in a delicious and inexpensive way (when made at home of course!). 

When we think of detoxification, our liver is the main detoxifying organ needed to get the gross stuff (toxins, pollution, chemicals, etc) out of our bodies (if you want to know how to detox daily, check out this previous post right over here!). Glucuronic acid is created during the kombucha fermentation process and it's also made by our liver, binding itself to toxins to prevent them from being reabsorbed in our system. 

I like to think of this acid as a knight in shining armour that sacrifices itself for the greater good - because once the acid has bound to a toxin, it's forever removed from the body along with whatever is being detoxed. 

So when we think about all the chemicals we're exposed to on a daily basis, our bodies have to work pretty hard to keep up with proper detoxification. This is where supporting our liver becomes extremely important. By drinking or eating foods that increase our body's ability to detox, we're taking some of the workload away from the liver, allowing it to improve it's detox ability even more! I mean if you didn't already love drinking kombucha... 

INTERESTED IN BREWING YOUR OWN? 

Now let's get into the good stuff. HOME BREWING! 

ALL YOU NEED is a SCOBY to call your own, some previously brewed kombucha (i.e. starter liquid), some caffeinated tea (this feeds your SCOBY), sugar (this also feeds your SCOBY), a brewing vessel (any glass jar = perfect) and filtered water. 

Brewing your own booch will save you significant funds because each jar of home brew costs just pennies compared to the $4-$6 you'll spend on a store bought bottle. It also allows you to control exactly what goes into it, including the quality of the ingredients. Avoid added sugars and load up on healthy flavouring ingredients to take this concoction to the next level! 

Convinced? Curious? Questions? 

Join me for a workshop or reach out to learn MORE!

Detoxing: Does it have to be scary? by Michelle Cordeiro, CNP

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I did a juice cleanse a couple years ago. For two days all I drank was juice and the whole time I was patting myself on the back for doing such a great thing for my body (I'm often my own personal cheerleader). But then I started to think about what happens after the cleanse? Was two days enough to purge my body of all it's toxins? Am I just good to go for another year now?

Of course not.

And this is why, while there could be value in juice cleansing, it's also important to adopt ways that you can keep the toxins moving OUTTA THERE every day, rather than saving them all up for your yearly cleanse.

Detoxing doesn't mean making huge, crazy, unsustainable changes to your diet for a day or two. And it also doesn't have to mean swearing off your favourite foods or those happy hour gin and tonics (at least not in my books!).

Gentle detoxes help your body get rid of all the junk that accumulates from pesticides, pollution, plastics, alcohol, smoking, non organic animal products/produce, conventional skincare, tap water, makeup and the list goes on and on. Even if you only eat organic salads and green smoothies all day, you can still find benefit from detoxing! Your liver already has so many jobs and functions to perform, think of detoxing as your way of easing the workload.

Now remember that there are 6 channels of elimination (liver, colon, lymph, kidneys, skin and lungs) and it's beneficial to target all of them when detoxing.

But start slow! Incorporate 1 or 2 of these into your day and see how you feel. The best way to start is choosing practices that easily fit into your life and schedule so they can become a lasting change in your lifestyle. My favourites are the ones I can do right when I wake up so 1) I don't forget (heh) and 2) my day is set up on a positive tone.

Let's start easy peasy:

WATER (+ LEMON)

Targets: liver + kidneys + colon

I adopted this habit years ago thanks to a past roommate and have stuck to it ever since. Every morning I wake up and drink 1L of water FIRST THING. Drinking water throughout the day is important, but starting your day with a litre (or as much as you can!) helps to rehydrate your body after a good night’s sleep.

The more water you drink the less headaches you'll get, your BM's will be more regular and it helps to alleviate dry skin. The addition of lemon is wonderful for your main detox organ - your liver! The lemon helps to alkalize your body, because although lemons are acidic, they have an alkalizing effect when ingested which helps to prevent diseases and boost your energy.

Had a couple drinks last night? Rehydrate your body and show your liver some L.O.V.E by squeezing at least 1/2 a lemon in that glass! And if you're loving this already and looking for something more, try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar as well. This combination helps to increase stomach acid and beneficial enzymes to properly break down your food. Great for digestion. Great for detoxing. What do you have to lose?

CHLOROPHYLL

Targets: colon

THIS. STUFF. I honestly can't get enough of chlorophyll since opening my first bottle a year ago. It's what makes plants green and healthy, yes, but is also great for your liver and therefore a key detox addition. 1 tablespoon in a litre of water (it can be that same morning litre referenced above!) helps to pull toxins through your body and clean up your colon.

If you have bad breath (or know someone who does...) this is often a sign of things not moving through your gut properly. One of my favourite benefits of drinking chlorophyll is that it's actually an internal deodorizer! SO COOL. It helps to kill odour causing bacteria in your gut and therefore kill the bad breath and body odour that's caused by this funky buildup. If it's your first time trying it, go for the mint flavour to ease into it even though I think it tastes delicious on its own (and if you've attended any of my Kombucha Workshops you know this is a staple flavour of mine!). The addiction is real.

GET SWEATY

Targets: skin + lungs + lymph

This might be an obvious one, but can't be stressed enough. A daily sweat sesh can expel toxins through your skin, one of the major but often forgotten about channels of elimination. Saunas, hot yoga, an outdoor workout (especially when the weather warms up) or whatever movement gets your body nice and sweaty!

One thing you might not think of is to always shower directly after - this washes off the toxins that you've just expelled and prevents them from being reabsorbed through your skin.

BRUSH YOUR BODY

Targets: skin + lymph

THIS! Go get a dry brush and spend some time (I promise it only takes a couple minutes) before showering brushing your body and you will become addicted, honestly. Not only does it brush off dead skin cells, it helps to open up your pores so your skin can better eliminate toxins from your body. We all know that the skin is the largest organ right? So it only makes sense that we treat it with some kindness and help it perform one of its many functions: detoxification!

Dry brushing helps to detox by getting your lymphatic system moving (known as the drainage system of your body), removes dead skin cells (which is why I stand in the shower while I brush..) and helps with proper circulation and blood flow. You can freestyle your technique somewhat, but make sure to start at your feet and brush upwards towards your heart in short strokes.

DRINK SOME BOOCH

Targets: liver

If you know me, you know I love my kombucha. Having been home brewing for the past two years I've read, seen and experienced the benefits of drinking this bubbly tea. But when I'm talking detoxification and booch, I'm talking more specifically about the glucuronic acid produced during the fermentation process. This organic acid is also made by your liver to bind to toxins and escort them out of the body.

The benefit to also drinking booch as a source of this acid is that you're again reducing the toxic load on your liver by lending it a hand in the organic acid producing department. Once this acid is bound to a toxin, it sacrifices itself to get that toxin out of your body; so drink up! Kombucha is great to drink first thing in the morning, during an afternoon slump or when you've devoured a large meal (mindfully of course!).

Simple changes, and I swear by them. Simple changes make healthy habits easier, more accessible and readily available to you on the daily. Give these a try and keep me posted on how you do.

Feel like you need a detox that goes a little deeper? Shoot me a message, I got you.

 

Massage for IBS by Rowan Nancarrow, RMT

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Trust Your Gut

It's an old proverb and most of us have heard it since we were children. But what do you do when your gut rebels in ways you don't understand? 

Many of us suffer from digestive issues in some shape or form. Whether it's food intolerance, stress-related sensitivities or inflammation, sometimes our guts work in ways that don't make sense to us. More and more people are being diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, a "diagnosis of exclusion" that just means a collection of symptoms that affect the large intestine. Defined by symptoms like cramping, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation, it is usually brought on by food sensitivities, stress and lifestyle factors such as lack of movement or postural issues.

So what do we do about this? It's hard enough just to find time to feed ourselves, let alone figure out what foods make us feel better and which exacerbate pain and digestion issues. 

What a great time to think about abdominal massage! Massage therapy is an amazing modality to treat many of the issues that can manifest in the abdomen, such as stress, constipation, metabolic function and emotional well-being, and isn't always considered as a first line therapy for digestive discomfort. Let me change your mind... 

Constipation & Bloating

Folks dealing with IBS symptoms are all too familiar with the feeling of uncomfortable, full bellies. Massage can help to directly move gas and waste through the digestive tract to relieve the discomfort associated with contripation and bloating. 

Improve Metabolism & Overall Digestive Function

By regularly treating this area, massage helps to bring blood flow and oxygen to the gastrointestinal tract, which over time leads to a healthier, more active metabolic function. This is especially helpful for individuals with slower metabolisms. 

Decrease Stress Levels

Massage therapy in the abdomen will actively release tension in the muscle, viscera and fascia of the area. This decrease in muscular tension can helps reduce cortisol levels, the "stress hormone" that, while necessary, can have adverse effects if it builds up in excess in the blood system.  

Increase Emotional Well-Being

The abdomen houses the enteric nervous system, an autonomous functioning system which connects to the central nervous system through the vagus nerve. This system releases up to 30 neurotransmitters and plays a key function in satiety and emotional fulfillment. Massage therapy can help increase the functioning of this nervous system by stimulating the diaphragm, decreasing our heart rates, stimulating the release of digestive enzymes and therefore stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system to help up relax. 

Never had massage in your abdomen? You'll be shocked to find out that your low back pain may actually be referred pain from constipation, or that the tightness in your shoulders is your body's way of holding tension from gas and bloating. 

Whether you suffer directly from IBS or you're just not sure what's going on with your gut, try working with a registered massage therapist to traverse the unknown - our gut health- and to re-establish that age old trust in your gut. 


Get in touch to chat more about how massage could help your digestive troubles or book an appointment with Rowan Nancarrow, RMT by going here.


HOW STRESS IS MESSING WITH YOUR DIGESTION - AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT by Michelle Cordeiro, CNP

How much is stress contributing to your digestive woes? 

How much is stress contributing to your digestive woes? 

Oh hello there. If we haven’t met, I’m Michelle! A Holistic Nutritionist from Hamilton who is no stranger to funky digestive issues LET. ME. TELL. YOU.

And I’m going to paint you a picture and maybe you can relate, because this was my story for YEARS.

You’re bloated (oh yes).

You’re gassy (are you ever).

But you're trying to eat well (isn't that frustrating!?)

Now what if I told you that this could have less to do with what you’re eating and more to do with how stressed out you are while eating...

Let’s talk it out.

Picture having your favourite meal in front of you while you’re propped up on the couch watching Game of Thrones (and if you don’t watch G.O.T, think “on the edge of your seat, freaking out, screaming at the TV” kind of situation going on). You. Are. Stressed. Out. And you’re barely looking at your food as you gulp it down in a stressed blackout.

Besides the obvious issue of not enjoying your food, there is an even worse chemical reaction (or lack thereof) going on.

When you're stressed, that’s all your body can focus on. Your sympathetic nervous system ensures that only the bodily functions that are absolutely necessary are utilized to their fullest. You become more alert, your adrenaline starts pumping and you are ready to utilize any quick energy sources your body has to offer - which does not include the slow and calculated process of digestion!

Being stressed out (deadlines, TV, traffic, kiddies, anxiety, news updates…whatever it may be that day) puts your body into immediate survival mode, pumping blood to allow you to run faster and produce enough stress hormones to deal with whatever’s going on; in your body’s opinion, digestion can wait.

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Stress even has the power to reduce the amount of stomach acid being produced which causes the food to stay in your stomach longer than it should, resulting in fermentation in your gut. Fermentation that creates gas which makes you bloated, makes you burpy and can result in acid reflux (the worst!).

This is such a common story and so important to realize so you can focus on decreasing your stress especially around meal times. This doesn’t have to be a huge change either, just stay mindful!

Take a few deep breaths.

Just take a moment before eating to appreciate what you're about to eat. Give yourself some love for taking the time to make this food (or making the incredible choice if you're ordering out!). Appreciate the fact that you have access to this beautiful meal and nourishment. Appreciate whoever it is that you're sharing this meal with (human, pet or house plant) and give your body some time to prepare for this meal. Not only will this help your digestion but I promise your food will even taste better!

Put down the cell phone.

Whether it's answering texts, emails or being available for phone calls, this is stressful. Being available through your phone at all times is stressful. Leave it aside. Don't scroll through Instagram mindlessly, don't feel the need to respond right away, just let whatever you can deal with later, be dealt with later. I always think about my family growing up and letting the landline ring if we were eating dinner. When you eat, let that landline ring!

Turn off Game of Thrones.

Or whatever show it is that you're binge watching right now. Even if it's not the most stressful show in the world, watching it is still taking your attention and focus away from the food you're about to devour. Limiting the distractions is important, and especially if those distractions make your blood boil and your heart race for Shaggy Dog (last reference, I swear).

Chew your food until it’s absolute mush.

Okay this is kind of a weird one to get used to and you might look a little crazy, BUT TRY IT! Have you ever seen a WHOLE KERNEL OF CORN in your poop!? I have, and it's alarming and a true sign that you aren't chewing enough. And I know this may seem basic but you'd be surprised at how little we chew our food. Keep chewing! It helps break the food down to ease the burden on your digestion and speed up the process. Chew until you can't decipher what's in your mouth anymore. Chew until your food is mush and you think you've chewed enough and then chew some more. Eventually this does become more of a habit and isn't something you'll need to think about. But for now, chew chew and chew some more!

And then focus your attention and energy on the task at hand; eating the heck out of that delicious piece of food and allowing your body to use all it’s wonderful tools of digestion. It makes all the difference.


Reach out and let me know how you do! I love getting all the juicy details in my inbox: movewithguts@gmail.com.