8 Things I learned Using a Continuous Glucose Monitor Plus A Bonus Quiz To See How Glucose Is Impacting You

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM

As a fit and health savvy woman in my mid 40s I was really surprised how big of an impact blood glucose had on my body and how I felt and what a big impact I could make with this information.

Wearing a continuous blood sugar monitor has been a powerful way to connect with my body in a new way, to connect the dots between how I feel and what is going on inside, and to actually improve how I feel on a day to day basis (and the science tells me I am also preventing future degenerative diseases too, sweet). Wearing a CGM, as they are called, provided me with some concrete action steps and areas to focus on, especially at a time when my hormones are changing and my body is reacting to glucose/carbs differently.

Here is a list of symptoms that can be a result of dysregulated glucose according to the research and work of Dr. Mark Hyman and Biochemist Jessie Inchauspe- cravings, fatigue, brain fog, infertility, acne, wrinkles, insomnia, hot flashes, pms, anxiety and depression, headaches, stubborn weight gain, early cellular damage and aging from chronic inflammation, oxidation, and glycation.

Although these might not be a not a disease state, they absolutely suck. And there is so much we can do to reduce these symptoms that we consider ‘normal’. I want optimal health, not just what is considered ‘normal’. Focusing on glucose is one powerful way to impact so many symptoms and how our cells age.

First off, a few basics. Our blood sugar, or amount of glucose in our blood, is meant to rise and fall throughout the day. We do not want big spikes in our blood sugar, we want happy hills. We also do not want our blood sugar elevated for extended periods of time. Both of these can cause many symptoms as well as long term damage to cells. Both of these can be off despite eating well and basic blood work looking okay. The misconception is that unless you have diabetes or prediabetes this does not impact you. This could not be farther from the truth. This is one of the most misunderstood areas of health that I have seen. Plus, as estrogen changes for women in Perimenopause, our relationship to glucose and carbohydrates changes.

In my experience personally and with working with hundreds of women clinically, optimizing blood glucose is one major way to improve day to day health for all of us, especially women as our estrogen levels change. It is a powerful way to resolve multiple symptoms that seem unrelated AND prevent future health issues. Just because your bloodwork is ‘normal’ it does not tell you anything about glucose highs and lows during the day and night. Having optimal glucose can change a lot.

A cgm is a continuous glucose monitor. It attaches to your arm (no, it does not hurt) and it tells you how you are responding to food and stress all day and night. You read the data on your phone. You can instantly see how your choices impact your biochemistry.

Here are some of the big things I learned by wearing a CGM.

If you would rather skip that information, feel free to jump to the bottom and take the quiz to see if blood sugar ups and downs might be impacting your health and how you function.

#1. Stress was causing huge spikes in my blood glucose despite how I ate or moved my body.

This one blew my mind. No matter what I ate or how I moved my body when certain stressors came up my blood sugar would spike higher than it had all day and then drop low (what goes up, must come crashing down). Wow. These emotional stressors were often based around work or parenting. The incredible thing was how I was able to change this and pretty quickly. By monitoring with a CGM I could see what worked and what didn’t. I already had a regular mindfulness practice but I really worked hard at taking mindful breaks, noticing how the stress felt in my body so I could take action, and then taking action steps to reduce my stress response. The cool thing, it worked! Although this took several steps, 2 of my favorite and most effective in the moment stress reducers are 1. Heart Math and 2. Playing ‘Right Now’ (if you have worked with me you likely know/use both of them).

#2. My afternoon bonks, usually around 3pm, were all about my blood glucose

When I first started using the CGM I could see how my typical glucose bonks in the afternoon were exactly when I had a hard time working, felt fatigued, I also craved sugar, or a beer at that time to pick me up. The crazy thing was how this changed after a few months of mindfully working on my metabolic flexibility. Now, I can typically go from lunch to dinner feeling pretty balanced and without noticing any dips. If I want a treat or a beer I can choose that for pleasure instead of needing it for a pick me up!

#3. My hot flashes and insomnia were all about my blood glucose

When my blood sugar was dysregulated during the day, meaning more ups and downs than optimal or when it was elevated for a large part of the day from snacking or stress, my blood sugar was all over the place at night too!! The ups and downs during the night were directly linked to my insomnia and to my hot flashes at night!! This was another ‘ah ha’ moment for me and fun to watch change. No more hot flashes for me.

#4. Burning fat and losing my new midsection weight was NOT about working out more, instead it was about becoming metabolically flexible and optimizing my glucose curve

As an active mountain athlete it was weird when I started getting a little thicker around my midsection, especially while I had increased training for an ultra marathon. It didn’t seem to matter how much I worked out, my mid section was getting thicker. I am by no way saying we should all look the same way we did in our 20s but something was definitely changing. The wild thing was after working with my glucose and metabolic flexibility I found that I lost my midsection weight by actually doing less and instead by lowering my glucose curve. Science is so cool and our metabolism is incredible. For me reducing stress and increasing metabolic flexibility (aka burning fat) was key.

#5. My anxiety and sleepiness were often a blood sugar high or low

Being able to check my blood glucose when I was feeling anxious or sleepy was powerful way to connect the dots. Turned out most of the time I was anxious or overcome with the need to nap during the day, my blood sugar was either spiking high or had dropped very low both from dysregulated glucose over time. Especially with my hormones changing my sensitivity to glucose in my 40s, and with both of these symptoms becoming worse recently due to this, this was an incredibly empowering connection to make. Both of these symptoms have improved with better metabolic flexibility and when they do occur I know exactly what I need to do.

#6. Salty processed foods like chips and corn nuts and corn chips spiked my glucose way more than I thought. I was better off with a snickers!

I learned a lot about what foods specifically helped and what foods hurt my glucose curve. This can be different for everyone. Some were obvious, like drinking alcohol on an empty stomach and pancakes for breakfast. But often some foods surprised me, like choosing corn nuts as a treat instead of candy after a day skiing and seeing my glucose spike 100 points (keeping spikes under 30 or 40 is optimal). I was also shocked at how the order that I ate food made such a big difference in how high by glucose spiked. So cool.

#7. Lunch was really important for me to get dialed

When I first started out on this I was not great about lunch. It was the hardest meal of the day for me to get dialed. On days that I did not do a good job with lunch, my entire afternoon and evening was disrupted with symptoms already mentioned. Now, after months on this, lunch is much easier for me as I see how important it is. But the coolest thing is with more metabolic flexibility now I am able to coast through on days I am not as organized. This is one of the incredible things about optimizing glucose- You feel better day to day but it also snowballs to improve your resilience in the long term.

#8. Athletically, using a CGM allowed me a deeper understanding of when I could run fasted, when I needed to fuel up, how different workouts stressed out my body in different ways, how different choices caused spikes to high even for athletes, and when I could cruise in zone 2 burning fat.

For any athletes out there, using a CGM is great fun and an incredible way to see exactly what is going on in your body. I was not shocked to see how some of my trail food was spiking my glucose but seeing it really helped me make better choices. This was not my primary focus but it remains an insightful way to optimize how my body is functioning in both the short term (aka on a run) and the long term (spikes from endurance food can do long term damage to cells and puts you on a glucose rollercoaster).

My big takeaways for me…..Knowing exactly what is going on in my body rules. There are small and easy action steps to dramatically impact glucose, that help with metabolic flexibility and can reduce so many symptoms while helping my cells stay younger, longer. These are much easier to implement when I can see exactly how they are impacting my body. Optimizing my glucose has had a huge role in reducing so many of my personal symptoms and so many of the symptoms of the people I get to work with.

I honestly learned a ton more but these were some big ones. These are lessons and tricks I will carry forward which I hope will be many and healthy. Please reach out with any questions or share what you have learned from using a CGM. Or better yet, join in October to dig in!

Take this quiz to see if glucose could be impacting your health and symptoms-

  1. Are you a female over 45? (estrogen changes change the way we tolerate glucose/carbs)
  2. Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep?
  3. Do you ever get tired after a meal, where you want to take a nap?
  4. Do you regularly bonk around 3-4pm?
  5. Do you have a hard time going 5 hours between eating a meal or snack? Meaning, you stay full for less than 5 hours?
  6. Are you finding it hard to lose new weight around your midsection?
  7. Do you get hangry?
  8. Do you get headaches or jittery when you skip a meal?
  9. Do you eat processed foods or refined grains like pasta, cereal, muffins, breads, chips, etc? Or sugary drinks like chai, kombucha, juices, or smoothies?
  10. Do you drink alcohol or other sugary drinks on an empty stomach?
  11. Are you often hungry all day?
  12. Do you eat small meals, or snacks, or drink beverages other than water or herbal tea all day?
  13. Do you eat a sweet breakfast like oats, smoothies, cereal, baked goods, granola, or fat free yogurt?
  14. Are you a woman with signs of excess testosterone? Such as hair on the back/face/chest, acne or oily skin, fertility problems, PCOS, thinning or balding hair on your head.
  15. Do you have small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)?
  16. Do you have any family members that have blood sugar challenges?
  17. Do experience anxiety during the day?
  18. Do you experience brain fog?
  19. Are you an athlete that relies on carbs or sugary foods for fuel?
  20. Do you currently have prediabetes, diabetes, gestational diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease?
  21. Do you want to avoid diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s?
  22. Is your A1C over 5.4% Or is your fasting blood sugar over 100? Or triglycerides over 80mg/dl? (functional levels for optimal health vs western disease focused levels)

If you answered yes to 2 or more of these you could likely benefit from optimizing your glucose curve. Most of us can!

A continuous glucose monitor is NOT essential for improving your response to glucose, it just helps. Wearing a CGM is an option at my new Fall Group Class Offering all about energy, glucose, and metabolic flexibility.

Optimizing glucose is one part of The Women’s Hormone Club. It is one of about 8 key steps to help ease through Perimenopause and Menopause with as few symptoms as possible. These two groups go together or can be taken separately. I teach both of them because it is my mission to help people understand their body better, how it changes, and how to impact health from a grassroots approach. Doing that in a group setting is the greatest bang for your buck plus coming together with community is powerful. Are you joining either group? I hope so!

Check out some testimonials of other women who have used CGMs or learn more about the class

Sign up for The Energy Club now. Class starts October 1st.

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC, DNM, FNLP

Janel is obsessed with helping people understand their body better and taking steps to feel and age their best. She has relentlessly studied the science of how food and lifestyle impact health and believes in filling this missing gap in healthcare. When we take a root cause approach we can impact all of our body systems today and for the long haul.

https://mountainrebalance.com/?p=1366. Evey January! Online and In Person Options (Truckee/Tahoe CA)

Learn more about the Spring Cleanse Here

Mini Course- Functional Foundations Bundle- Gain instant lifetime access after you purchase this package

The Energy Club- Metabolic Flexibility and Balanced Blood Sugar- The root of day to day and long term health

An virtual course designed for savvy folks who want to feel, look, and age their best and who want to truly understand their body.

Get the tools you need to understand your metabolism and how energy is made so you can feel and function your best.

Optimal blood sugar is one of the main drivers of both longterm health and how we feel day to day. It is one part of the Hormone Club but such an important one at midlife that I made a mini course just to help people get this one dialed.

Join for the live classes or get the recordings and go at your own pace. Course starts October 2nd 2023

Metabolic Flexibility and balanced blood sugar are the foundation of-

  • Quality restful sleep
  • Balanced energy (no bonks)
  • Healthy body composition (anyone’s middle section getting thicker in mid life?)
  • Fewer pms symptoms, perimenopause and menopause symptoms like hot flashes, anxiety, brain fog, weight gain, headaches, etc
  • Improved physical endurance
  • Fewer cravings
  • Balanced mood and less anxiety/depression
  • Less fatigue
  • Reduced brain fog
  • Preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, and other diseases associated with aging
  • Reducing inflammation, oxidative damage, and glycation (all associated with early aging).
  • Improving immune function
  • Reference- Inchauspe, Jessie. Glucose Revolution. Short Books. 2022. New York, NY

“Learning about blood sugar and using a CGM opened up a whole new world of health for me; one that has made a huge impact on my health and even on my journey of improving my hypothyroidism. I had no idea how important blood sugar and metabolic health is for all people, and I can’t recommend Janel’s guidance around this subject enough! This info is useful to everyone no matter your current health or situation. ” -S. Douglas from Colorado 2022

As we get older our body responds to foods and stressors differently. No gimmicks, just physiology and tangible tools so you know exactly how to move forward to boost metabolic health and energy.

We don’t need to deprive ourselves!! We just need to learn how to stoke our metabolic fire and burn slow long lasting energy all day.

Learn how this works and what you can do to minimize symptoms, optimize hormones, and feel your best.

What you will get with this online course-

  • a list of clear steps to take to optimize metabolism and blood sugar
  • 4 live classes (will be recorded) where you will get to ask questions and dig in to topics that interest you
  • 8 video lessons about metabolism, glucose, energy, sleep, aging, intermittent fasting, cravings, movement, and more
  • Bonus videos- creating habits, causes of anxiety, hierarchy of hormones, disrupting a relationship with alcohol, daily breath work practices
  • a weekly menu planner with meals to boost your metabolism and optimize glucose levels
  • a beautiful recipe book to download
  • bonus handouts on sweeteners, mitochondria, supplements and more
  • a community of like minded individuals to connect with and share stories
  • opportunity to add a continuous glucose monitor and support with learning the best ways to use it (order this right away if you want to add this)

Jump right in or add the CONTINUOUS GLUCOSE MONITOR to support your journey and see exactly how your body is responding to foods and lifestyle. Track your progress. I will be there to support this process for you and walk you through what we are looking for (more below). See what I learned wearing a cgm here

Can’t make it live? No problem. You can send in your questions and get the recording. .

Wednesdays online at noon pacific, for 30-60 minutes, starting October 4th, for live office hours. The 4 meetings will be 10/4, 10/18, 11/1, 11/15 (recorded if you can’t make it).

Second half hour of class will be set aside for additional questions about a CGM

If you choose to add a CGM we will meet one extra optional time, on October 3rd for 30 minutes, to get you rolling with your monitor. We can all put them on together!

IF YOU ARE ADDING A CGM YOU ARE GOING TO WANT TO SIGN UP NOW AND GET YOUR CGM ORDERED. I would do this by September 1 to make sure you have it on time.

“More than anything I was surprised to see how getting on top of my blood sugar changed both my days and nights. During the day I was no longer ruled by hunger. Before I worked on this I would bonk during the day if I did not eat or get crazy cravings. After I worked on this I would forget to eat until I got hungry! It was wild. I would go 4-5 hours and then feel hunger pains instead of low energy or anxiety throughout the day. At night I was shocked to see how my sleep improved and night sweats stopped. Everything feels more balanced.” Christine L. Tahoe client 2021 age 48


The Energy Club- Metabolic Flexibility and Balanced Blood Sugar- The root of day to day and long term health. An online program this fall $199

We are not talking about limiting any foods but instead how to eat and live to support your best metabolic health so you can feel strong, look your best, ease through menopause, and prevent future health problems.

What is holding you back? Join Now!

Who is this class for? Anyone wanting-

  • Better Sleep
  • To feel empowered by learning about your body and how it works
  • To reduce afternoon bonks
  • Better physical endurance
  • Fewer hormonal symptoms associated with pms, perimenopause, menopause (this is step 1 of hormone balance)
  • More balanced energy
  • Increased focus
  • Improved moods including less anxiety
  • To reduce midlife weight gain
  • To prevent future diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, Cardiovascular disease, Cancer, etc
  • Optional support using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to see exactly what is going on in your body minute by minute during the day
  • Discussions around pros/cons of Intermittent fasting, ketosis, etc

Registration Closes September 30th

“It came to no surprise that my low energy and low output was a direct correlation to my massive blood sugar swings. After a decade of running 100+ mile races and eating nothing but carbs it was time to make a change. Thanks to the CGM I was able to make direct correlations to the things that I ate and the way that I felt. I better understood bonking on a hard run and how eating the right foods at the right times was able to stabilize everything. Being able to see the data in real time helped validate the way that I felt and gave me immediate ways to feel better.” N.P. Tahoe client 2022

Take a quiz to see if glucose could be impacting you.

Thinking about adding an optional continuous glucose monitor? Here is some info-

  • A CGM tells you minute by minute how your body is responding to food and lifestyle
  • Each sensor fits on the back of your arm and lasts for 2 weeks. No, it does not hurt at all to put on! I promise.
  • You choose how many you get. Starting with 2 is a great idea.
  • You scan the sensor instantly with your phone and get all the data right at your fingertips in a clear and simple app
  • This is the most effective way I have found for people to make changes that have the greatest impact on their health
  • This is a very black and white way to learn about your unique body and how it is responding to food and lifestyle. You will see exactly how high and how low your glucose levels are going through out the day.
  • This will tell you if blood sugar is impacting sleep, anxiety, endurance, etc and how you can make changes
  • I have worked with many different ones and have settled on Veri as the best/easiest. You order through them and can get a discount on your first month with my link. There are many options but the simplest is 3 months of app with 2 sensors for $100/month for 3 months.
  • This is not necessary for the Energy Club, but a wonderful addition if you are interested in the support.
  • You will get a link to do this after you purchase the package. You will get my discount on your first month too!!

Questions? Please reach out to me- janel@mountainrebalance.com

 “Wearing a monitor to let me watch blood sugar fluctuations through the day and night has given me insights to what’s going on “under the hood” that I could only previously (usually wrongly, it turns out) guess at. It’s unobtrusive, painless, and has guided me to make informed changes to my diet and lifestyle that improve my health. The real-time measurement of my blood glucose let me see the impact of different types, amounts, and timing of foods on my blood sugar levels. I’ve recommended it to many friends and family members.” L.A. 2022 Tahoe Client

Booking Provided by Healthie

Get 10% off if you sign up in August! Use Promo code- AUGUST10%

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM

Janel is obsessed with helping people understand their body better and use nutrition and lifestyle to function their best.  Janel specializes in hormone health, digestion, energy, and resilience.  She has dug deep into the science of food, nutrition, and physiology to provide a missing gap in health care.  Janel teaches group classes as well as works one-on-one with people who want to take control of their health.  When not working or chasing her kids around she is likely playing hard in the mountains and rivers of the West. 

A Few Of My Favorite Things- Holiday Giving/Receiving Guide, Health Edition

Happy Holidays

Gift giving is actually not my love language 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!

Last year I gave you lots of creative ideas (and recipes) and areas to focus on, have a look!

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!!

  1. Dry Farm Wines– clean, toxin free, organic, low sugar wine and olive oil.   I love this wine and I can actually sleep and not get a headache when I enjoy a glass.  This olive oil I can actually drink straight, it is the best and highest quality olive oil I have ever tasted.  I actually bought it for my family last year for xmas! Get a free bottle at the link above
  2. 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
  3. Homemade Granola– Make it, jar it, wrap a bow and deliver with love.  Here is my favorite recipe.  
  4. Books- I love books. Some of my favorite health promoting books right now include- Wild Power (menstrual power), Wise Power (menopause power), Happy Mind Happy Life (brilliant and simple), Sierra Trail Runs (awesome new book about trails on the Eastern Sierra), and Nourishing Meals Cookbook (an awesome family friendly clean cookbook with delicious meals).
  5. 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!
  6. 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.
  7. 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.  Veri  is the company 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 the links above.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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).
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. Plants– Indoor herb gardens are great gifts but I love plants like aloe and spider plants too.  Sprouting seeds and sprouting jars are fun also and are a powerful way to support health!! Check out my video on sprouting seeds here
  14. 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.
  15. Experiences- climbing gyms, concert tickets, ski days, museums, high ropes course, camps, theme parks, art classes, I love giving the gift of experiences!
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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”.
  19. 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!
  20. 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.

Energy Club

Mini Course- Functional Foundations Bundle- Gain instant lifetime access after you purchase this package

Need Help Sleeping During The Holidays? Here Are A Few Tips-

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 during the holidays (plus, let’s be honest, if you are in your mid 40s sleep is probably a challenge anyway).

Although the right remedy depends on what is driving sleep problems……….. I find most people can use some extra support during the holidays.   One of my favorite tools to use in this situation 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 to break down.

Making herbal tea to help ease into sleep-

Here is my favorite herbal sleep formula/recipe (herbs are in dried herb form but again you can use tinctures directly into water also)-

  • 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 either make a big pot/ jar of tea or store some dry 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 used 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, kava, 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.

Check out my video about making herbal teas here.

Using tinctured herbs to support sleep

I love tinctures! They are easy to use, easy to absorb, and very effective.

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. These become more important in our 40s/50s as hormones are changing. 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-

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Avoid eating treats when I am hungry. Eat food first, treats after.
  4. Stop drinking alcohol 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.
  5. Go for a walk after dinner. This is such a fun tradition and so great for blood sugar and the nervous system.
  6. Set emotional boundaries- “Under-react to everything”- is a great holiday mantra. Try to stay at emotional “sea level” during the holiday. It is not the time to resolve family issues.
  7. Don’t be a martyr. Ask for help. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, everything. I will say it again, ask for help. Stress is sleeps rival
  8. Stop eating at least 3 hours before bed.
  9. Get outside and move your body, no matter how busy you are
  10. 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).
  11. 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, might be helpful. 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.

If your sleep challenges have more to do with hormones at midlife, well, you just must join me for The Hormone Club!

What do you do to support healthy sleep during the holidays? Or do you sleep like a baby?

Look for The Sleep Club coming soon!!!

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-

  1. Do I fall asleep okay?
  2. Do I stay asleep all night?
  3. Do I wake up feeling refreshed?
  4. If I am lying awake is it my mind or my body keeping me up?
  5. 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)
  • nutrient deficiencies such as magnesium or B6
  • estrogen and progesterone fluctuations
  • low melatonin (sleep hormone) production
  • gut dysbiosis (parasites, fungal overgrowths, lack of certain microbes associated with sleep, etc)
  • environment- cool, dark, quiet, no electronics, etc
  • lack of a sleep routine or set wake time
  • chronic pain
  • chronic inflammation
  • caffeine, especially with certain genetics
  • under or over exercising
  • and more

Having a hard time sleeping is a message from your body that something is off. Don’t make your body talk louder than it has to. Get curious! In the meantime, drink tea:). And for periodic sleep disturbances, try the list of 10 ideas above and see how you sleep. And join us for the Women’s Hormone Club, where we will be discussing sleep!! Do you think we know enough about our body and our hormones? I don’t! Read Fired Up Friday #4 about women, our hormones and how we need to know our body better than anyone!

Happy Holidays, Sleep well, XO Janel

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

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.

CHeck out the Women’s Hormone Club

Fired Up Friday Series

#1 The Gap In Healthcare- We Are Missing A Huge Piece

#2 Total Body Burden. It’s All About Accumulation, Not Just One Root Cause.

#3 Please, Don’t Be A Good Patient

#4- Why The Hell Aren’t We Taught About Our Hormones, What’s Normal, And How We Can Impact Them?

Coming soon-

  • 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.

Fired Up Friday #4- Why The Hell Aren’t We Taught About Our Hormones, What’s Normal, And How We Can Impact Them??

This really fires me up.

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.

Chart from Functional Nutrition Alliance FXNA

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.

This chart is from Lara Briden’s Brilliant book Hormone Repair Manual

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.

https://mountainrebalance.com/?p=1366 Women’s Hormone CLub

Fall Wellness- Back To School List For Teen Health- Top 12

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.

Back To School Wellness For Teens – Top 12

  1. Phone charging station in kitchen so the kids do not sleep with their phones (and alarm clocks set in rooms so they have not excuses)
  2. Essential oil diffuser and our favorite oils
  3. Sleepy tea or tinctures to help ease into sleep
  4. Smoothie recipes updated and printed out and breakfast ideas for middle and high schoolers printed out (link here)
  5. Chai herbs refilled and handy (and chai protein powder)
  6. Booster foods, organized and out
  7. Protein and greens powders
  8. Supplements in organized boxes (EFAs, probiotics, beef liver, magnesium powder)
  9. PRINT OUTS- Lunch box handout printed out and Building A Plate printed and on fridge and Meal planning forms printed out
  10. Spirit cards
  11. Rescue Remedy
  12. 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 (or a few drops in a spray bottle to clean surfaces, we use this on counter tops and the table). Some of my favorite morning smells are Lemongrass, Rosemary, or peppermint. 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. These herbs work wonders in the evening to help teens wind down and fall to sleep. 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 herbal tinctures here. 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.wellness. 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. My favorite clean protein powder right now is from BeWell with Kelly. The easiest fat to toss in is MCT oil or ground flax seeds.

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. I often sneak in a scoop of unflavored collagen to get some protein in their morning.

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. Somedays they think of a question they have about the day first. Then, they close their eyes and pick the ‘right one’. 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 and lets them tap into their intuition, 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. A few other ones I am loving for the family are Wolfpack by Amy Whamback and Queen Bees and Want to Bes. What are your faves?

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.

Every Winter https://mountainrebalance.com/?p=1366
This Fall!! Join the fun

Norway- Mountains, Water and FOOD To Fuel The Body and The Soul

Viking Sauce recipe below!

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……….

Morning ritual- hydrotherapy!


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.

Your Microbiome- Bite Sized Series

Tend to your microbiome and watch your health transform from your head to your toes

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.

To simplify things, we are going to take a ‘bite sized’ approach over time to look at the important roles of the microbiome and what you can do to protect your microbiome.

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.

A short bit on stewed apples and short chain fatty acids


#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).   

These microbes are incredible.   The Estrobolome is one thing we dig into and work on during the women’s hormone club every winter.       

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.

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.

  1. Your gut microbes impact your neurotransmitters 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. Your gut microbes also impact how 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

BITESIZE #5- Your Microbiome Impacts How Well you DETOX AND CLEAR various toxins

Our modern world is full of substances we need to detoxify and clear out of our body. We are built to do this. However the amount of toxins we are exposed to has increased exponentially and can in increasingly challenging to keep up with. One way to support detoxification is by tending to our microbiome and making sure we have plenty of healthy bacteria and that we are feeding them well.

The healthy bacteria in our gut help to break down toxins in our body and eliminate them through our
stool. New research shows this is even helpful with the breakdown and excretion of heavy metals (11).

On the flip side, when we have unfriendly microbes in our gut they produce harmful metabolites that need to be broken down (detoxed) and add to the the detox burden in our body.

Establishing a healthy microbiome helps on boths sides of the coin, so to speak.

Tip #5- Reduce the number of unnecessary over the counter and prescription medications you take. Reducing the amount of harsh chemical cleaners and antimicrobials will also help.


Find my 4 month Microbiome support protocol probiotics/prebiotics here. I think most people could us a set 3 months each year to work on seeding and feeding their microbiome if they want to function and age their best.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7677487/– Article on Mucus membrane as a barrier function and the importance of the microbiome
  2. https://healthmeans.com/talk/6406?currentTime=0 – Leaky Gut, Endotoxemia, Inflammation and Microbiome Reconditioning. Dr. Kiran Krishan
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28956703/ – Research on the microbiome and the immune system
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/what-are-postbiotics
  5. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/postbiotics/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/postbiotics#health-benefits
  7. BiomeFx Lab Interpretation Guide. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e8cc993f9169c7045248796/t/61730a83e0a05800d54c9c47/1634929286312/BFx+-+Interpretation+Guide-Digital.pdf
  8. Does soil microbiome contribute to gut microbiome? Pubmed article. PMID: 31450753
  9. The Gut-Brain Axis & the Psychobiome https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BexCxqoe1cE
  10. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ec53P3M7ksQ– Mood disorders and your gut

Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM

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

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Fired Up Fridays #3- “Please, Don’t Be a Good Patient”

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.

Fired Up Friday #2- TOTAL BODY BURDEN

Fired Up Friday #1- The Gap in Healthcare

Janel Ferrin Anderson NC, FNLP, DNM

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

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