Gift giving is not my love language, is it yours?. But, I do love the holidays and the idea of mindful gifting. These are some of my favorite feel-good treasures that will support you or a loved one’s health journey. The holidays are an awesome time to ask for things or give things that will help you or a loved one feel, look, age, and function your best!
But, since people are always asking for specifics about what I have researched and love, here is a list of some of my favorite things right now that would make an awesome health promoting wellness gift!!
An Oura ring. I love this tool. It is so simple and gives me so much information about my body and how I am responding to food, lifestyle, etc. With this ring I effortlessly track- my sleep every night, my body temperature so I can see when I am ovulating (so easy to monitor my temperature rise with progesterone), and how I am recovering from stress and workouts with my heart rate variability and resting heart rate. So cool and easy peasy!! Link here for more info and $50 discount
Clean protein powder (because getting enough protein as we age is even more important). Be Well by Kelly- My favorite clean and easily absorbed protein powder. I use this daily in my smoothie. How much protein are you getting for breakfast? Want high protein breakfast recipes? Give a shout and I can send some your way!
Water Filter- Drinking water free of toxins, heavy metals and other creepy things is one great ways you can impact your health. This is what I have at my house and the one I have found to be the most economical with the best water quality. Berkey Water Filter . You can find out what is in your drinking water at the Environmental Working Group website.
Continuous Blood Sugar Monitor- If you know me you know I love helping people understand their own body and what is true for each person. Optimizing blood sugar has been huge for me and so many people I work with. It can help with sports fueling, hormone balance, weight struggles, energy throughout the day, sleep, anxiety, headaches, and more. Both Veri and Nutrisense are companies I work with that you can get a continuous blood sugar monitor and support to understand it (of course I can help too!!). Get 20% your first month at either with the links above.
My favorite gut microbiome 3 month protocol (link here)- I consider this a foundation of health. This is a great way to check so many boxes and support immune health, gut health, hormone health, brain health, mood, and more. I love helping people make efforts with the biggest long-term bang for their buck, this is my favorite one. My entire family does this 3 months every year. This was another xmas gift I have given to loved ones. Read more about your microbiome here and here
Lab tests– Some functional testing can be pricey, that is why I like using holidays as a chance to dig deeper and see what is going on under the hood, so to speak. 3 of my favorite insightful labs are- 1. I think everyone should get a yearly functional blood draw to check in and monitor health. 2. Stool testing is fun to dig into digestion and your microbiome, inflammation, and so much more. 3. Dried urine tests are awesome for looking at hormone health, levels, how you are detoxing them, and more.
Giving to an organization– I love giving in the name of someone instead of buying random stuff. Each year my family picks a few organizations to give to. We always try to pick a local one, one for the environment, and one for international women’s aid. Here are some of my favorite places to give. ACE (Action For Climate Emergency), my SIL works here so I know it is a top notch organization), The Sierra Community House (I have been delivering food for them for a year so I know and trust them), and Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (a great old pal of mine works for them and they are doing important work for women all over the world).
Clean cooking pans and food storage dishes. It’s not only what you eat but how you cook it and store it that matters. I love glass food storage containers, glass jars for liquids, ceramic dishes, and Le Creuset, Cast Iron, and Stainless Steel for baking/stove top.
Clean cosmetics and candles- check out Environmental Working Group for everything you need to know (I share lots of lists with this information in the Hormone Club and Spring Cleanse). The holidays are a great time to clean up your cosmetics.
Herbs and herbal medicines from favorite local shops include Sierra Roots Wellness in Tahoe, CA and Rebecca’s Apothecary in Boulder, CO. There are so many fun ideas like bath salts, essential oil blends, herbal teas, fire cider, herbal tinctures, etc.
Experiences- climbing gyms, concert tickets, ski days, museums, high ropes course, camps, theme parks, art classes, I love giving the gift of experiences!
Movement– I am still loving Betty Rocker (affordable and ass kicking workouts at home), TRX straps and the app to go along (again, a great way to get strong at home), and here in Truckee I am loving Liv Studio for pilates and my daughter loves their strength class.
Gear so you can get out more into the wild- Ski, climb, hike, swim, camp, run, play, anything. Headlamps, beanies, mugs, and gloves are some of my go tos.
I love self care feel good treasures like bath salts, an essential oil diffuser, twinkly lights, theragun massage tool, slippers, robes, puzzles, a journal, tea pots, tea cups. Anything that makes you go “ahhhhhh”.
Local organic foods. I love my CSA (community share of agriculture) from Mountain Bounty Farms. A CSA subscription makes an awesome gift! I also adore the local seasonal foods from Tahoe Food Hub here in Tahoe. Another stellar place to give a gift card to. Do you have a great local source for local, seasonal, organic foods? I would love to hear about them!
And of course, you can give any of the services with me at Mountain Rebalance as a gift! That includes one on ones and groups (Women’s Hormone Club)). I had to throw it in there:)
What is on your list this year? Have any good ideas that support health or feeling awesome? I would love to hear about them. Please share!!!
When in doubt- shop local, keep it simple and meaningful and always give loads of love.
Enjoy your holiday. For me, I choose peace and calm as much as I can, even in the chaos and pressure. One key to doing that is starting my dark days with lighting a candle, a hot cup of tea, and some quiet breathing.
I hope you feel strong and empowered and loved this holiday season. XO Janel
Janel Ferrin Anderson. FNLP, NC, DNM
I love helping people understand their body and what is going on under the hood. I help people use food, herbs, lifestyle, and nutrients to function their best.
Does anyone sleep like a baby during the holidays? You might after this!
With the extra holiday treats, rich foods, cocktails, emotional stressors, and holiday partys, sleep can definitely take a hit.
Although I work with people to resolve the underlying cause of poor chronic sleep……….. I find most people can use some extra support during the holidays. One of my favorite tools to use is herbs (but I have 10 other ideas below to check out too).
Whether you make yourself a nightly cup of tea, or add herbal tinctures to water- herbs are a wonderful way to support better sleep, especially during the holidays or times of extra stress.
What time is best to use sleep herbs?
The herbs listed here are powerful tools for helping relax into sleep, so enjoying them at the right time is key. I find these are best taken about 20-30 minutes before you want to go to bed. Alternatively, if you wake up in the middle of the night you can add herbal tinctures to a bit of water to help you fall right back to sleep.
What forms of herbs are best?
I love using dry herbs to make tea or adding liquid tinctures to my water, as opposed to herbs in capsules. Capsules work great too but I enjoy the simplicity on my digestive system, being close to bedtime, of taking them as tea or tincture. They are easier to assimilate and less work for the body.
Making herbal tea to help ease into sleep-
My favorite herbal sleep formula (herbs are in dried herb form)-
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)- 3 parts (3 tsp)
Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)- 2 parts (2 tsp)
Passion flower (Passiflora incarnata)- 1 part (1 tsp)
Lavender (Lavendula agustifola)- 1 part (1 tsp)
Peppermint- 2 parts (2 tsp)
Catnip (Nepeta cataria)- 1 part (1 tsp)
Valerian Root (Valeriana officinalis)- 1/2 part (1/2 tsp
For the quantities listed here, you can make a big pot or big mason jar of tea or store some herbs in a jar to use later and just scoop out what you need. Generally I like about 2 tbsp herb per cup of hot water water for a strong medicinal tea
Steep desired amount of herbs in hot water for about 8-10 minutes. Strain and enjoy! Zzzzzz
Any of these herbs in combination or on their own will support relaxing into sleep. No need to stress about getting them all or in the exact amount. Only have chamomile? Great. Use that. I find valerian and passionflower most powerful.
I love getting my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs or a local apothocary. We also have a great tea store here in Truckee, Cha Fine Teas, that has a yummy sleep tea blend too.
If simple is better for you- There are wonderful pre made blends from your local natural grocery store that contain some of these herbs, just try using 2 or 3 bags per cup to get a stronger, medicinal effect, when needed.
I love tinctures! They are easy to use, easy to absorb, and very effective.
You can use single herbal tinctures or combination blends. For sleep, I love using the same ones I put in the herbal tea blend above. I find Valerian and Chamomile do a wonderful job helping me relax into sleep and I use those tinctures for extra sleep support most often.
About 20 minutes before you are wanting to go to sleep add 1-3 dropperfuls of herbal tinctures to a small glass of water and drink. Zzzzzzz. Additionally, if you wake up in the middle of the night these are my favorite tools to get back to sleep when your mind won’t stop racing.
Again, there are wonderful blends from company’s like Gaia Herbs, Wise Woman Herbals, or Herb Pharm. Use blends or single herbs but give them a try!
Some other tricks for getting good sleep during the holidays.
I love celebrating the holidays! But there are a few things I do to support my sleep even when I am eating and drinking and being merry. Usually it comes down to supporting my nervous system, balancing blood sugar, and setting clear boundaries. Some of the things I try to do, on top of using herbs, to support sleep (and energy and overall health) during the holidays are-
Start the day with a protein rich breakfast to support blood sugar all day (especially with all the extra treats that come with the holiday!!) Protein helps us keep our blood sugar from swinging too high or too low. What swings up/down during the day will likely do the same at night, waking you up as a result.
Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach (of course it’s best not to drink alcohol but if you do…). I make sure to have a meal rich in fat, fiber and protein before I start drinking and a big glass of water before each drink. This will slow the alcohol and sugar from entering your bloodstream too fast and keep you from drinking alcohol to quench your thirst.
Avoid eating treats when I am hungry. Eat food first, treats after.
Stop drinking after dinner. I know, it might sound hard but I find drinking soda, tea, or water after dinner helps a ton for feeling and sleeping better. It is always worth it. Alcohol may help you fall asleep but it will wake you up later.
Go for a walk after dinner. This is such a fun tradition and so great for blood sugar and the nervous system.
Set emotional boundaries- Under-react to everything- a great holiday mantra. Try to stay at emotional “sea level” during the holiday. It is not the time to resolve family issues.
Don’t be a martyr. Ask for help. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, everything. I will say it again, ask for help. Stress is sleeps rival
Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.
Get outside and move your body, no matter how busy you are
Guided imagery from apps like Breethe and Calm are very helpful for relaxing into sleep. Sometimes I like sleep stories, or guided imagery, or a body scan but my favorite is sleep hypnotherapy. All can be found on Breethe (and no, I do not get anything from them).
A ‘protein pill’ before bed, meaning a half of a slice of turkey or a chunk of salmon or small handful of pumpkin seeds. A pill size. This is not an ideal way to eat but a small protein pill might support dysregulated blood sugar from extra holiday indulgences so you can stay asleep. You can give it a try and see how it works for you.
What do you do to support healthy sleep during the holidays? Or do you sleep like a baby?
If sleep is an issue for you all the time there is a lot you can do to resolve the underlying cause of poor sleep. But since the cause is different for everyone, the solution has to be different too. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to get thinking if sleep is something you struggle with regularly-
Do I fall asleep okay?
Do I stay asleep all night?
Do I wake up feeling refreshed?
If I am lying awake is it my mind or my body keeping me up?
Is my room dark, cool, quiet, comfortable, electronic free, and do I like who I am sleeping next to?
Things that might be contributing to chronic sleep issues include-
stress and cortisol (stress hormone) dysregulation
blood sugar dysregulation (this applies to all humans, even athletes)
Hello. Welcome to Mountain Rebalance. I am obsessed with helping people understand their body better and use food/lifestyle/herbs/nutrients to get their body to function optimally. I work with people 1 on 1 and in group settings.
Is Expensive Functional Lab Testing Really Necessary?
Fad Diets – stop the madness!
Why the hell are people obsessed with the next easy quick fix solution?
Medical doc and holistic nutritionist dig in.
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM
I am obsessed with science, helping people understand their body better, and educating people about how to use food, lifestyle, herbs and nutrients to optimize how they feel and function. If you know me you likely know that I can get fired up about things. These are some of them.
As a mother of teen girls, a women going through perimenopause myself, and as a women’s health practitioner it blows my mind every day how much we don’t know and are not taught about our hormones.
Can you imagine if we were taught at a young age and throughout life how exactly our hormones change each month, how that impacts our body, our mood, our mind and our soul, what is normal and what is not normal symptom wise, how to understand what our body is saying, and can you imagine if we were taught from the get go how we can impact our hormones every day so we feel and look our best?
This is not rocket science.
This should be basic knowledge.
It is called body literacy or body intelligence and we deserve to know it.
Hormones are meant to fluctuate but we should not be suffering endlessly. Not monthly, not in puberty, not postpartum, not as we transition in perimenopause around our 40s, and Menopause to our wise years around our 50s on. There is so much we can do to impact these shifts, so we can lean into the rhythm and wisdom of these powerful hormones. And if we do not listen to symptoms or imbalances in our monthly cycle when we are younger, they will likely talk louder and louder as we make hormonal transitions as we age.
Our hormones are like canaries in the coal mine, they are the first to falter if something is off in our body. If we are having symptoms that are debilitating like cramping, heavy periods, headaches, aches, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog, anxiety, infertility, stubborn weight gain, low libido, skin issues, skipped periods, or other hormone related symptoms- these are messages that we need to pay attention to not just symptoms to cover up. Those symptoms might be common but they are not normal and they are telling you something, and they will talk louder if we do not listen.
Yes, of course there is a place for covering up symptoms so we don’t suffer but getting to the underlying root of what is driving those symptoms is typically not mysterious or out of our control. It is knowledge we all deserve to have. And it is something we can impact every day. If we listen to these messages and respond, they will not have to talk louder and louder (aka worse symptoms).
First, we need to understand how our hormones work monthly. Then we need to understand how they change as we get older. After we understand what is going on in our own body, and we learn what we can do to impact that, then we can choose to take clear and methodical steps to optimize how we feel and age at any age. We are in the driver’s seat of our hormone health and can take control of how we feel.
But we don’t have that choice if we are not taught this.
Why aren’t we taught this?
I am hell bent on helping women understand their body better and helping them to feel their best. I want to bridge the gap that is so sorely missing between women, their doctors, and their health (aka how they feel every day). That is why I am teaching the Women’s Hormone Club and why I am working with my daughters on a hormone project that I am stoked to release soon (stay tuned!!).
Our hormones are powerful. When they are not fluctuating optimally we likely feel like crap at different times of the month, depending what is off. When they are functioning optimally, and we can align with their different energies, our month can flow in ways that feel incredible. When functioning optimally, we can lean into estrogen, as it climbs during the first half of our cycle and we feel driven, social, and sharp. And then, when ovulation occurs, we can lean into progesterone, as it climbs during the second half of our cycle, and we might feel more creative, reflective, and internal at that time. As they both drop right before our period we might have cravings and feel a bit low as progesterone and estrogen are tied to brain neurotransmitters and insulin, our blood sugar hormone. As these hormones rise and fall our mood is impacted, our body, our brain, every part of us. It is empowering to feel these shifts and understand them. Choices we make everyday impact how these fluctuate and how we feel.
The time to focus on your hormones is now, no matter how old you are. But it is definitely time in your late 30s and 40s to get things dialed so as you transition into menopause things go as smoothly as possible. You do have control over this and you don’t have to suffer. We can’t remove all the sensations but we can turn the dial. Body Literacy is power.
As we move through our 40s progesterone starts to decline first, automatically putting us at risk to all the symptoms that happen in estrogen dominance. Because it is largely about the relationship of these two hormones. So it is even more important than ever that things are functioning optimally. Following a drop in progesterone, estrogen starts to go all over the place before it settles at a lower level. Again, we want an optimal environment in our body as these shifts occur so we ease from one phase to another as much as possible. There is so much we can do to ease this transition. Again, knowledge is power and small efforts are everything.
Your gut matters. Food matters. Detox matters. Stress matters. Blood sugar matters. Poop matters. Muscles matter. Sleep matters. Inflammation matters.
What do you think? Have we been taught enough about our body? What it is saying? Are we trained to listen to it? And then know what steps to take to feel our best? No way. Not yet, but I am hopeful this is changing and hell bent on making this happen. I encourage you to join me in this effort. Stay tuned for more!
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM
I am determined to help people understand their body better and help them make changes to impact their health. I see people one-on-one and in group settings both in Truckee and online. I practice truly holistic healthcare and team up with people who want to function their best.
I don’t know about you, but I love back to school shopping. Not at the mall or for clothes or school supplies, but to dial out our wellness routine for back to school in the fall.
When school starts back up life gets busy. But is important to me that we eat and include habits that support optimal focus, energy, immune health, and mental health. As always, we are not perfect in my house, but I find having these 12 things in place sets us up to win and at least have a solid base for functioning our best.
If you know me you know I love lists. They keep me grounded, calm, and are an easy way to circle back to what is important to me. Plus the fall is such a wonderful and grounding time for a clean start. So here it is, my Top 12 Back To School Wellness Shopping List for the teens in my house.
Books- 5 Love Languages for Teens and Enneagram for Teens
Phone Charging Station- Our family rule, and it is NOT easy, is that all phones are on the phone charging station every night around 8-9pm depending on the kiddo (age). I can feel the kids anxiety increase as they scroll on their phones, they are my least favorite part of parenting. This at least gives them a break and allows their nervous system a moment to settle. We also needed to make sure we had good alarm clocks in everyone’s room and that they were set.
Essential Oil Diffuser– I love how the smell of a room can change the entire mood of the family. It is really important to me that we do this cleanly though, as artificial scents from candles or room fresheners can impact hormone balance and stress our body’s detox system. So we do this with essential oils and a diffuser. One of my favorite morning smells is Lemongrass while I love diffusing lavender and chamomile after dinner in the evening to help people wind down. There are so many to choose from though. I would love to hear what your favorites are!
Sleep tea or tinctures– My kids love tea and they love the ritual of tea as well. It is such a sweet offering and has endless benefits depending what your goal is. We also use a lot of herbal tinctures in water too. Either way, some of our favorite evening herbs include chamomile, catnip, kava, valerian, skullcap, and california poppy. You can easily purchase herbal tea mixes such as sleepy time, or tinctures at your natural grocery store. You can find some of my favorite tinctures here. These herbs work wonders in the evening to help teens wind down and fall to sleep. Some of my favorite herb companies include Mountain Rose, Gaia, and Wise Woman Herbals. But honestly, if nothing else, don’t underestimate the ritual of a cup of chamomile tea before bed.
Smoothies– Smoothies are such an easy and quick way to load up on nutrients. But of course not all smoothies are made the same. Check out my blog on building a smoothie and download my cheat sheet there too. My kids each have their own favorite. We did just master the chocolate Rebel Smoothie recipe which is the family favorite at the moment. And it is SO easy. I will post that recipe this week on Instagram @mountain.rebalance.nutrition. Whatever kind we make it is important to include a healthy fat and a good protein to make sure the energy from the smoothie is balanced and long lasting.
Chai tea– This is the smell of my house in the fall. I love it, the kids love it, it warms and soothes the soul immediately. My kids love making a cup for their friends now too. You can find this recipe here and read up on other fall rituals I love here. Buying a simple chai tea blend from the grocery works too, and mix it with honey and coconut milk or milk of choice. Ymmm.
Booster Foods– Let’s be honest, the older my kids get the less perfectly they eat. I am grateful that they do understand the important of eating healthy fats, clean proteins, and colorful fiber (fruits/veggies) but they also eat a lot of crap as they get more freedom in the world. Booster foods are such and easy way to load up on nutrient dense foods so I can feel okay about their not so great choices. Check out my favorite booster foods here. The trick is they need to be handy and visible.
Protein and Greens Powders– These are also booster foods but they deserve their own place because we use them daily. I love adding these to smoothies. Easy and done. Some of my kids will even slam a greens powder mixed in water. I always explain WHY these foods are so important and then I sit back and watch them add them now and again. Mom win. (remember, protein helps us build muscle, supports mood, and helps promote balanced energy. greens powders add loads of vitamins and minerals to keep our immune system strong and cells strong and skin glowing).
Supplements– Some people love them some people hate them. They are not meant to supply all our nutrients but they are meant to supplement where we are not getting enough. Again, my teens are not eating fish and veggies everyday all day so we choose to supplement during these intense years of growth and learning. We take them about 50-75% of the time just to keep it chill. My basics for them include Essential Fatty Acids, Probiotics, beef liver, and Vitamin D drops. Some of them choose to take magnesium at night to help them relax. But of course, not all supplements are created equal and this sadly can be so confusing. Feel free to check out the clean and high quality ones we use and you can purchase them here as well.
Print outs– You know me, list girl. They make things easy and THEY WORK. You can print out our family’s top 3- Lunchbox Cheat Sheet, Building a Plate cheat sheet, and Meal Planning Form (find links above in list). Because food really is medicine if you want it to be and this is a life skill they will take with them for decades to come. But we need to be organized, so lists.
Spirit Cards– This might sound silly but these cards have been so wonderful in our home. They open up the space to think about things and reflect on things in unique and mindful ways. I have given each of my kids their own decks in the past but I also have a family one that I spread out each morning on the kitchen table and each kid picks one when they wake up. They close their eyes and try to feel which one is calling to them. Each card has an animal or symbol on them and you can look up their meaning or take what you want from it. It is so touching how the kids respond. It really adds some morning magic. Simple and sweet, which is a treasure with teens.
Rescue Remedy– Have you used this? It comes in a spray or little candies. It is flower medicine and helps in times of anxiety/panic/overwhelm. I have a little tin of this in each of my kids bags for those moments that they need a life line. They don’t talk about it much but I see then disappear slowly over the year and it makes me happy they have a small tool, along with their breath, to help support calm.
Mindful Books– I love these books and I love when my kids can get to know their true selves and how they tick! Some of my kids enjoy them more than others. Sometimes I am reading from seemingly into space but then they will mention them and I know they picked up on it. Or they will discuss it with their friends or their teams or often we will discuss them at the dinner table. Despite eye rolling, any amount of self awareness is a success. I really believe that the more our kids can know themselves, and understand themselves and how they interact with the world the deeper and more positively they can experience life and others. This includes teachers, coaches, friends, partners, employers, and their own big feelings. Currently my 2 favorites for this year are A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages: How to Understand Yourself and Improve All Your Relationships and The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self. Do you know your love language? Your kids? How about how your personalities get along? So cool.
There are so many parenting classes, books and open conversations when our children are younger about how to navigate things. I have found that parenting becomes even more important and even more challenging in more complicated ways when our kids become teens. Yes they are magnificent to talk to and are full of so many cool ideas, but I would argue they need even more from us at this time- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Since I am far from perfect at this, these tricks here help.
I can see a big difference in my kids when I make time to prioritize health. I feel good about helping them to eat and live to support their brain, muscles, spirit, mood, immune health and energy. How about you? Have you seen small things you do to stay ahead of health pay off? Or the opposite? What is on your back to school health list? I would love to hear!
Janel Ferrin Anderson DNM FNLP NC and mom
Hello, Janel here. I am a functional medicine and holistic nutrition therapist. I obsesses over how the body functions and helping people to use food, nutrients, lifestyle, and herbs to optimize how they feel and function. I believe in science and research but am also deeply rooted in intuition and the wild.
Waking up in Norway with a cold plunge in the icy fjord, followed by a delicious breakfast of salmon on dark bread and berries with yogurt while plotting the long days mountain adventure was a dream for this food and mountain loving girl.
I love travel when the food and activities of the day help you feel your best.
Norway is top for me in this department.
The green forests, snowy peaks, sod roofs, icy fjords, clean air, charming and colorful houses, and delicious foods all helped Norway win my heart.
Some of the food there is not my favorite (brown cheese anyone?) but there are so many foods that not only taste delicious but also work with my body. Think wild mushrooms, brightly colored berries, wild salmon, an assortment of nuts and seeds, warm soups and yummy stews, and dark delicious bread.
This place is heaven. Here are a few shots from our trip there in June about 6 years ago now that I am still savoring and trying to relive with my Viking Sauce……….
Anderson’s Viking Sauce
I use this delicious sauce to flavor yogurt, or in soda water to make a delicious berry drink, or even on a spoon as an immune boosting tonic. Give it a try! It is rich, complex, and soothes the body and the soul.
What you will need
Elderberries- 2/3 cup dried (or 1.5 cup fresh)
Assorted berries- 1 cup
4-5 cups of water
1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
1 inch of ginger, grated or sliced thin
2 cups of raw local honey
Bring water, berries, ginger and cinnamon to a slow boil in a pot on the stove. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and leave to cook for about 1 hour until it reduces down.
Turn off stove and allow to cool a bit
Strain mixture into a big bowl (I use a muslin bag)
Combine with honey and mix
Store in a glass container in the fridge and use on everything! My favorite way to use it is on plain full fat yogurt with nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts and sunflower seeds and berries. But a sparkling soda water with a splash is utterly delish too. YUM
I would love to hear about one of your favorite vacation places and the food that can bring you right back!
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM
Janel helps people use food and lifestyle to optimize how they feel and function. She specializes in gut health, hormones, resilience, and mountains. She is a lover of the wild and physiology of the body.
Research is continually showing that a balanced, rich, and robust microbiome is one of the major drivers of short term and long term health.
If I could only recommend one area for people to focus to ensure better overall health it would be on protecting and enhancing their microbiome. This is a core Foundation of Health.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming to me to even discuss the microbiome due to the fact that your microbiome is connected to every body system and cell in your body.
Your acute problem might be hormone imbalance, headaches, stubborn weight gain, chronic pain, insomnia, depression, fatigue, immune issues, skin rashes, boating, etc……………but the root cause could be in your gut and specifically, your microbiome.
I have found that no matter what you are trying to heal or repair or rebalance, addressing the microbiome will help everything function better. But this is no magic bullet because it actually takes time and sustainable small efforts, but the payoff is big.
I will share 1 important function of the microbiome with 1 step you can take to optimize it at a time.
But before we go there……… The basics. Your microbiome is a unique ecosystem made of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes. We have far more microbes than we have human cells and they cover all the various parts of our body including our gut, skin, mouth, and lungs. These microbes dictate how we feel and how we function and how we age. The science around this is exploding right now as we learn about their important role in aging, energy, disease, autoimmunity, chronic symptoms, weight gain, hormone health, immune health, chronic inflammation and more.
NOTE- If one of these tips does not feel right, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It is usually NOT the new habit but instead the state of your gut. You may need to restore a microbial imbalance before you can use ideal tips. Moving slowly is always best.
Let’s dig in! 1 bite at a time.
#1- A Boundary
Bite Size #1- Your microbiome is a major guardian, protecting you from what enters your body.
According to Dr. Kiran Krishnan- Microbiologist at Microbiome Labs, Our gut is where we are most exposed to the outside world. This is why most of our immune system resides here.
Our digestive tract is actually considered OUTSIDE THE BODY. The guards that protect what is allowed to come into the body are the MICROBES in our MICROBIOME (and the mucus layer they directly impact). If there is an imbalance in your microbiome, there is not proper protection. (1)
“If your microbiome is robust and diverse there is amazing protection and improvement in our health and wellness in the short term and long term” says Dr. Krishnan. (2)
We want to absorb nutrients from our food but keep out harmful substances such as mold, viral toxins, bacterial toxins, environmental toxins, undigested foods, etc.
When this barrier function is not working (aka leaky gut), we can absorb these substances and the result is chronic inflammation. And the thing is, this chronic inflammation goes above and beyond digestive issues. In this case we might see symptoms like- brain fog, achy joints, headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and more inflammatory symptoms and disease progression associated with again.
A leaky gut, which is the root of so many chronic issues, starts with an imbalance in the microbiome, the guards are down and the mucosal barrier is disrupted. And again, digestive issues are not even present in these situations yet, the gut is the root of the problem but the symptoms are elsewhere.
I have heard this roughly likened to a castle wall (the thin layer of the gut wall) being guarded from invaders by soldiers standing guard (the microbes in your gut). When the guards are few in number, or are made of disruptive characters, invaders can easily get in and the wall is destroyed. The guards are VITAL.
One of the most harmful things that can move across the boundary from the gut into the body and cause problems in this situation are Endotoxins, or toxins made in the body. These include LPS or lipopolysaccharides that are made from gram negative bacteria. They belong in the gut but NOT in the bloodstream. When they enter the body through a leaky gut from an imbalanced microbiome it becomes a highly toxic compound that acts as a root cause for hundreds of chronic illnesses says Dr. Krishnan. And again, these are NOT digestive issues. (2)
Tip #1- One way you can protect the health of your microbiome is to EAT A WIDE VARIETY OF FOODS, including all of the colors at every meal. Diversity is KEY as the different microbes eat different foods (think a variety of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans). Try new foods each week and enhance your microbiome.
Each of the different microbes in our gut feed off different foods. This is why a diverse diet is key to long term health above and beyond nutrient wise. Even if you eat a salad every day, change it up, get new veggies, add different nuts, seeds, fruits, fresh herbs, spices, healthy oils, clean proteins, etc. Download my rainbow food tool here to help.
REMEMBER- if eating a diverse diet does NOT feel right, get CURIOUS around what might be going on in your gut and your microbiome. You may need to rebalance your microbes first. (See my video here on HEAL vs IDEAL)
#2- Microbes make POSTBIOTICS that communicate with other parts of your body
Bitesize #2- POSTBIOTICS ARE FUNDAMENTAL FOR OVERALL HEALTH in all parts of the body, not just in the gut.
The friendly microbes in your gut feed off prebiotics and the result of this process are compounds called postbiotics. These postbiotics, or compounds made by the microbes in your gut, are one important way the microbiome communicates directly with the immune system, the brain, the skin, our hormonal system, and every other cell in the body. This is huge and we are learning more about this everyday as research in this area is growing fast.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a type of postbiotic. The one SCFA we hear a lot about is Butyrate. Butyrate is a POSTBIOTIC that is made when certain bacteria in the gut feed off certain fibers. You have to have the good bacteria and you have to feed them the right foods to get these postbiotics that we need for optimal health.
Butyrate makes us more sensitive to insulin, it helps us to use fat for fuel, it feeds helpful microbes so they can grow, it talks directly to the immune system, and it is the main fuel for the gut wall so the gut can repair itself and provide a healthy boundary (7).
Other postbiotics impact our neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and influences our mood in this way. Others impact the brain through the vagus nerve and there is a lot of research happening in that area now. Other postbiotics include B vitamins, vitamin K, amino acids, and antimicrobials that keep harmful microbes from growing. Yes, the microbes in your gut make those!!(4).
There is growing evidence that certain postbiotics positively impact allergies, eczema, colic, defense against viruses, weight loss, joint pain, eye issues, heart disease, constipation, diarrhea and other IBS and IBD symptoms and may even have anti tumor properties (5,6).
We are continuing to learn a ton about postbiotics and how they important they are for our health and homeostasis. Make sure you have a healthy and diverse microbiome, that you are feeding those microbes well, and that you have the right environment for healthy microbes to grow- and boom, your body will make these essential postbiotics for you.
Tip #2- Tending to your microbiome is a bit like farming, you need to seed it, feed it, and provide the right environment for the good microbes to grow. When it comes to seeding the right microbes it is important to either eat fermented foods daily, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso, yogurt, or fermented veggies or take a researched and proven effective probiotic regularly (don’t waste your money with ones that do not have research behind them). I recommend people take specific probiotics a few months each year. Click here to see my favorites and 3 month microbiome protocol.
#3- Female Hormonal Balance, Estrogen and The ESTROBOLOME
Bitesize #2 Your ESTROBOLOME impacts how much estrogen is in circulation in your body and in result influences how you feel month to month and during PUBERTY, POSTPARTUM, and PERIMENOPAUSE
Your gut is directly connected to your female hormones in several ways but one major way is through your ESTROBOLOME, which is part of your gut microbiome (7).
This is some cool and simple science that relates to how you feel during your menstrual cycle each month AND how smoothly you transition from one hormonal phase into another (aka puberty, after having babies, perimenopause and menopause).
In order to feel our best as women we want estrogen in just the right amount at the right time. Estrogen is made in many different areas of the body including in the ovaries. It is received all over the body (which is why we feely symptoms of estrogen imbalance all over our body) to do its many jobs. After, estrogen is detoxed in the liver and sent out with the bile to the gut to leave the system with our feces. The microbes that make up your estrobolome in your gut impact how much estrogen moves out of your body and how much is reabsorbed back into the system, so how much estrogen you have at any given time. It does this through making an enzyme (a postbiotic, see above) called betaglucaronidase that regulates how much estrogen is absorbed back into the bloodstream. These microbes in your estrobolome also turn certain plant foods into phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that help if there is too much estrogen or if there is too little estrogen (7).
So the estrobolome influences both if you are estrogen dominant or if you are low in estrogen, and in result influence all the symptoms that go along with those major imbalances (bloating, cramps, hot flashes, anxiety, sleep problems, tender breasts, etc).
You can actually test and see how robust and diverse your microbiome is, including seeing how your estrobolome is functioning. This is part of the Gut Zoomer at Vibrant Labs or the BiomeFx from Microbiome Labs, two labs that are doing incredible research into the gut microbiome.
Tip #3- One way to protect your microbiome is to set aside time every single to mindfully relax and reduce the stress coming in. Certain harmful bacteria only grow in a stressful environments and can cause a imbalance in your gut microbiome (growth of harmful microbes and inactivation of helpful microbes causing all sorts of downstream problems). So, start today, set aside at least 5 minutes every day for mindful relaxation- breathwork, guided imagery, walk quietly in nature, listen to a favorite calming song, take a bath, or………… Your Microbiome Will Thank You.
BITE SIZE #4 – The Microbiome and MOOD
“You simply cannot improve mood disorders without improving the gut. Your gut has at least 50% control over your mood” -Microbiologist and Microbiome expert Kiran Krishnan.
The new research around the microbiome and mood is the most exciting area of research to me right now. It’s a tough call between microbiome and immune health, hormones, endurance, and pain but I think mood is at the forefront of exciting new research. But the changes the people I work with feel in their mood as we optimize their gut is incredible and reflects the research.
The microbiome directly impacts your brain and mood, including anxiety, depression, stress response, brain inflammation, degenerative disease susceptibility, and day to day focus (9).
The gut talks directly to the brain and the brain also talks directly to the gut. We call that bi-directional communication. They impact each other. It goes both ways. This happens from the start of life all the way to the end of life. The more diverse your gut microbiome, especially with certain species, the better your mood and brain function. Did you know your gut is called your second brain?!
There are a lot of different ways that the microbiome specifically impacts mood but I am going to highlight just a few here.
Your gut microbes impact your neurotrasmitters a few different ways. Serotonin is your happy neurotransmitter, dopamine is all about feeling good and Gaba helps you to feel calm (10). Many of your neurotransmitters are made by microbes in your gut or influenced by them. These are transferred from the gut to the brain through the vagus nerve. Your gut microbes also impact how precursors such as tryptophan convert to melatonin and serotonin. Furthermore on the flip side, there are specific microbes like Campylobacter that make neurotransmitters that actually create anxiety in your brain (10). You need the right microbes to get these neurotransmitters right.
Your stress response and HPA axis is directly influenced by your gut microbes in a few different ways. When you have a diverse and robust microbiome you are able to return to calm quicker after any stress response (in other words, your microbes dictate how well you return back to rest/digest or if you stay in fight/flight after stress). Specific microbes in your gut are linked to a better stress response and less anxiety and depression by way of specific peptidoglycans (a post biotic) that the microbes make in your gut (9). This postbiotic was key to helping develop the brain and central nervous system in utero (so moms gut makes a difference). After birth this postbiotic is still important as research shows it helps reduce perceived stress and it also is what helps puts the brain into theta waves or ‘flow state’ (enhanced focus, reduced mental fatigue). It improves sleep and decreases cortisol. Wow!! I told you postbiotics were important and yes, we know what strains are important.
LPS- Lipopolysaccharides are made by certain bacteria in your gut and do not cause a big problem when they stay in your gut (another postbiotic but this time a pesky one). However, when they leak through a leaky gut into the blood they are able to cross the blood brain barrier and increase neurotoxicity and brain inflammation and is a huge driver of all mood disorders(9). LPS in the brain also impacts how neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain are received, it can block the receptor and this is huge for addiction (10). New research shows that LPS are also connected to alzheimers and parkinsons.
So, again, if you want to improve mood and brain function, don’t forget about your microbiome. And the cool thing, there is so much you can do!!!
Tip #4- Did you know that dirt actually helps improve the diversity of your microbiome. There is research that shows playing in the dirt can and does improve the diversity of your microbiome in your gut! That might look like organic gardening in your backyard, playing in the mud on a river trip, having a picnic out on the trail, doing yard work, climbing around rocks, building a fort out back, raking the leaves, or any way you can mess about on the earth/dirt (8). Yay! Play on.
Hello and welcome! I am Janel and I am obsessed with the science around how the human body functions and what impacts it. I help people use food and lifestyle to feel their best and to support short term and long term health. There is always a way to optimize how our unique body functions. Get curious with me. Learn more about me here and learn about working with me here
This week my son had an appointment with a new doctor whom I was hoping to get a fresh opinion from. I was super upset I could not make it myself but thankfully my husband could take him, as it took months (actually years due to COVID) to get scheduled with her.
After adding my questions to his list, the last thing I said on the phone before they went in is was “Please, just don’t be a ‘good patient'”. Despite being a doctor himself, he knew exactly what I meant.
There are a ton of great docs out there, but as anyone knows who has actually had to be part of the receiving end of the medical system, you need to advocate for yourself pretty aggressively to get good care. In fact I have seen it change dramatically with just a few extra questions.
We have personally been on the receiving side of the medical system with my son for 15 years now and I have learned the hard way the importance of asking extra questions and not just nodding and doing as we are told.
Additionally, I worked as a doula in hospitals with women at their births for 8 years. Both in the exam room and labor room I saw time and time again how asking the right questions changed care significantly.
Now, having worked with hundreds of men and women around gut health, hormone health, and all sorts of chronic problems and as a health educator I am always reminding people to ask their medical providers the right questions to make sure they are receiving the best care.
In my experience, taking the time to speak up for yourself, ask questions, have treatments explained to you, and demand you are heard and seen as a whole unique person is critical in receiving the best care for both short and long term health.
This is of course going to look differently for everyone. Because of how insurance works and how the medical system works this can at times be challenging. However, a few great strategies I have learned over the years to help get better care-
Make sure your sings and symptoms are not dismissed. If they are, find a new provider or at least more practitioners to add to your team who will listen.
Clearly tell your provider your health goals
Know what tools this particular provider has to work with. If you are seeing surgeon they are going to give you surgical options, if you are seeing a medical doctor they most often work with medications and likely do not have nutritional information, if you are seeing an herbalist they use herbs, and so on. Be aware of the perspective you are getting.
Be curious and respectful, asking questions such as-
What would happen if I don’t do this treatment or take this medication right away?
What might a more conservative doctor suggest?
What might a more liberal doctor suggest?
Have you ever heard of people using food or lifestyle to impact this issue?
In your opinion what might be driving this problem?
Do you think there is a way to impact what might be driving this problem?
Would this medication or protocol cause any side effects?
Have you heard of any new research in this area that I could look up?
How does this protocol or medication impact my body? Meaning does it deplete me of any nutrients or digestive function or impact my microbiome?
Do you know of any other practitioners who can also help with this issue?
Can you help me understand what is going on in my body?
Is there any reason I would not want to take this medication or have this surgery?
What are the pros and cons of this treatment.
Are there any other labs that might tell us more information about what might be going on?
Does this seem urgent to you?
Respectful? Yes, of course, this person likely has a great perspective to offer. But “good” (aka nod and accept whatever is suggested without understanding why or being curious)? No way.
Too many times I have seen people lumped into a category and receive the status quo treatment that often involves masking symptoms. The current medical system and insurance business make it challenging for doctors to spend the time to fully see patients as the unique individual they are. I think any doctor will agree with that.
For me personally nothing felt scarier then my husband showing up for that important appointment and smiling, nodding, and being a ‘good patient’. I have seen time and time again how care changes dramatically when you are not a “good patient” but instead advocate for yourself.
So yea, I get fired up around this.
Please, don’t be a ‘good patient’. Ask questions, speak up for yourself and if your medical provider resents that then find a new one or find additional people to add to your wellness team. People who are curious about not just what but WHY. Your body is amazing and unique, you should be treated as such.
Janel works with people in Truckee CA and online who want to understand their body better and get curious around the science of how food and lifestyle impact their health. She works one-on-one with people and in several groups that happen each year. Learn more about Janel here. Learn more about working with Janel here
Gas and bloating are signs that something is off digestively.
I find it most helpful to address and reverse WHY gas and bloating might be happening, but there are of course ways to reduce symptoms while working to reverse the root cause.
What are some root causes of gas and bloating?
Insufficient digestive secretions such as enzymes, hydrochloric acid, bile.
Bacteria that belong in the large intestine that have migrated and are living in the small intestine and fermenting certain sugars
A bacterial or fungal overgrowth
Problems with motility (peristalsis or your migrating motor complex)
Eating too fast or swallowing air
There are a lot of ways to improve symptoms. Three things that can help while you explore and reverse WHY you might be experiencing gas and bloating are to try
eating more cooked vegetables instead of raw ones,
pureeing foods more,
using carminative tea.
Cooking and pureeing veggies makes them easier to break down digestively. Some people need to avoid certain veggies until the imbalance is corrected but cooking and pureeing works for many, depending on the cause.
When your body talks (aka signs and symptoms) it is telling you something, not working against you. Get curious!
A few things to notice and record if you experience gas and bloating are- When do the symptoms occur during the day? What makes them worse? What makes them better? When did they start? Are there certain foods that you can’t eat? How long after you eat do they occur? First thing in the morning? For women, are they cyclical? Do your symptoms occur with other symptoms? What does your poop look like? Any undigested food there? Are you eating when you are stressed?
Gut tests are also a great way to look into digestive health, gut inflammation, digestion secretions like bile, enzymes, hydrochloric acid, immune activation, microbes and more.
There are all sorts of fun details to dig into.
There is a lot you can do to bring balance back to your gut. And since gut imbalances can lead to all sorts of other problems, again, it is best to resolve what is driving them instead of just covering them up or living with them. I have seen people’s life change when they improve their gut.
I get fired up about the idea of Total Load or Total Body Burden. This is a big concept that gets overlook when we are looking for 1 cause for our health issues or 1 magic bullet to solve our problems.
I see a lot of people getting stuck looking for this 1 thing driving their problems. I also see medical providers dismissing things because it does not directly cause one specific problem. People often forget the impact of the accumulation of things over time. Welcome Total Load.
This is a foundational theory in functional and holistic nutrition and it helps us to see how food and lifestyle can shift the terrain in the body towards greater health in a powerful way.
The theory of Total Load is an important and empowering one to consider if you want to both improve chronic symptoms or how you feel now AND if you are hoping to prevent future health issues from surfacing as you age. It helps us see how working on many little things can have a big impact on our health even if we can’t find 1 cause for things.
The basics go like this-
We all have a metaphorical bucket. Various things fill our bucket over time. When we are physiologically healthy or resilient our body can usually keep up with this burden. But when our bucket overflows from either 1. too much coming in or 2. from not moving things out or 3. a small bucket, we can become overwhelmed and we might experience signs, symptoms or illnesses.
This bucket concept can be used to think about our EMOTIONS, our IMMUNE HEALTH, TOXINS/DETOX, DIGESTION, and much more.
This concept also helps us to remember that each person is unique, that we are impacted by things differently, that all of our body systems are in fact connected, that everything we do makes an impact on how we feel and function, and that 1+1 does not always =2 when we are talking about things accumulating over time.
Let’s dig into what impacts our bucket size-
The first important thing to realize is that each of our buckets are a different size and drain at a different rate. So what determines this resilience or our body’s ability to handle this burden? The size of our bucket and how fast it drains depends on several things including-
Our genetics and what genes are expressing themselves (various SNPS impact how well we do or don’t detox and may need more support),
It depends on our nutrient reserves and how many phytonutrients and antioxidants we consume/digest/absorb,
It depends on how well we sleep and our circadian rhythm,
Lifestyle habits that support detoxification such as sweating, moving our body, not eating 24 hours a day, etc
Next, let’s consider what fills our bucket day to day and over time–
Singularly the things that fill our bucket might not cause a problem but over time they have the potential to accumulate, contribute to dysfunction, and overwhelm our body’s resources and ability to process them or heal. These substances that contribute to our body burden or total load include-
Toxins from the air we breath and water we drink
Chemicals on our food such as fertilizers, pesticides, etc
Heavy metals and EMFs
Chronic infections such as Lyme, Epstein Barr, etc
Mycotoxins from mold, bacterial overgrowth in our gut, yeast overgrowth such as candida
Endotoxins (toxins that come from inside our body such as LPS)
Chemicals from cleaning products, fire retardants, skin care products, furniture, flooring, etc
Problems with digestion/absorption and our microbiome
So again, we are built to be resilient, we have evolved to handle various stressors and our body is detoxing all day. However, we did not evolve to face the amount of stressors filling our bucket today. In addition, to compound the problem, our food supply is less nutrient dense today with our depleted soils and monocropping and our modern lifestyle habits often do not support resilience. I have heard this referred to as an evolutionary gap and we are in it.
But this is not all doom and gloom. Quite the opposite.
Often we can’t find one cause for our problems (although how great when we can!). But when we can’t find the one cause of our signs/symptoms or chronic disease or the one magic bullet to find relief doesn’t exist, there is still a lot we can do to impact how we feel and function. We might not always have the answer but we can improve our body’s resilience and ability to process the things coming at us.
If you have have frustrating chronic issues such as skin rashes, headaches, joint pain, fatigue, memory problems, chemical sensitivity, etc or if you want to optimize how you age, there is a lot you can do today with food and lifestyle to make an impact and improve your body’s resilience.
Start with improving how you drain your bucket, reduce what is filling your bucket, optimize digestion/microbiome, and give it time.
During the Nourishing Spring Cleanse and Liver Love we will be supporting our body’s and liver’s ability to ‘lighten the load’. It is no magic bullet but it is one way to make an impact and give your body a needed rest. We work on removing insults while adding nutrients and lifestyle to support our body’s detox ability.
During Foundations of Health we will be introducing all the most powerful lifestyle habits slowly over time to increase resilience as well as eating for health and optimizing digestion. This program was designed to build resilience no matter where you are at. We work on all the things that increase our ability to drain our bucket as well as reduce what is coming in.
Most people have ‘aha’ moments as they take this TOTAL LOAD concept forward into their lives. Does this resonate for you?
Here is one of my favorite recipes for a clean home cleaning product to replace a toxic one-
1-1/2 cups Water
1/2 cup White Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dish Soap
12 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil (optional)
What can you do to give your body a break and lighten the load?