The information that we can learn from functional lab testing is incredible, but the price tag can also be a lot. What do we do when we want to relieve symptoms and feel our best but not go broke in the process?
First off, what is functional lab testing?
Functional lab testing helps us see exactly what is going on in the body. They involve testing blood, urine, saliva, poop, hair, or interstitial fluids. They help us get curious around what might be driving symptoms (root cause), even if there is not a disease to diagnose. We look for optimal values, not just diseased states that require medical intervention. We use these results to support the a person and their body to function better so symptoms resolve, health goals are met, and balance is restored for health today and health in the future (even reducing risk of diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s, Cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc). Often people go to these when everything appears normal with their physician but they know something is off.
In my opinion these labs can be incredibly valuable but most often are not the first step and are often over used at the expense of patients/clients. Yes, there is a lot of value to the information but some basic cleanup helps first.
I encourage the people I work with to establish a few foundations before digging into specialty labs. These foundations include-
working on stress and the hpa axis,
improving sleep and circadian rhythm,
getting appropriate movement,
balancing blood sugar and energy,
optimizing digestion and gut health,
targeting detox pathways,
getting any nutrient deficiencies to sufficiency,
building a plate with balanced macros and loads of micronutrients,
cleaning up products/environment
reducing inflammatory foods, and
taking the time to learn about the body and how it works/changes so we understand what is normal and what is not (especially at midlife when so many things start to go haywire and what we used to do no longer works).
Working on the foundations create the environment for health to take root. It then becomes more clear what labs might be most beneficial, if they are even still needed at all.
There are endless Functional Labs these days but the ones I find most helpful and use the most are
Functional blood work (blood)- There is a lot of valuable information here when you look beyond standard values and biomarkers that your physician runs and when you understand how the values relate to one another and body systems. This is my favorite place to start. Functionally we look at a narrow value range to see where slight imbalances might be driving dysfunction and preventing health. We also look at biomarkers that tell us about inflammation, how our body is using nutrients, genetic factors, antibody values, and more. There is a lot we can do to turn the dial towards health when we review labs through a functional lens. This is a relatively affordable way to track and monitor body systems over time.
Dutch Hormone Test (saliva and urine)- This lab is incredible for seeing what is going on with many hormones and systems including- stress throughout the day (cortisol and DHEA), ovarian hormones and how we are metabolizing hormones (estrogens, progesterone, testosterone and all the symptoms that might arise when these are off), sleep (melatonin and cortisol), and even some neurotransmitters, etc. (If you are planning to use bioidentical hormone, bHRT, I definitely recommend this lab first)
Vibrant gut health test (poop)- I love this lab to see how digestion is functioning (enzymes, bile, stomach acid- how food is breaking down), if there are any microbiome imbalances (this can impact so much including cravings, headaches, weight gain, mood issues, hormones, energy, and more), how is gut inflammation (again, this can impact every part of our body), gut immune activation (food sensitivities, etc), leaky gut (the integrity of the barrier function of the small intestine which plays a role in so many chronic symptoms and drives inflammation), etc. Even if we are eating a wonderful diet of whole foods, if there are gut imbalances, we will likely struggle to reach health goals.
Nutrient Panel (blood)-We can look at current nutrient levels as well as genetics that might influence how we utilize certain nutrients. We can look at vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, etc. Often times there are gaps that we need to fill to reach our health goals.
Continuous Glucose Monitor (interstitial fluids)- This is definitely another favorite, especially for women as our hormones change in perimenopause/menopause. This tells us exactly how we are responding to stress, foods, sleep, movement, etc all day and night. We can see how the changes we are making impact our metabolism and is one of the greatest ways to find motivation to make change.
Other labs with value, only if needed after initial clean up or if necessary- Organic Acids Test, Heavy Metals, Mold Testing, Food Sensitivities, Allergy Tests, Genetic testing
I recommend not making the mistake of running a ton of expensive labs before you work on the foundations. I have so many clients that come to me with thousands of dollars in fancy lab work but who still are not sleeping well, pooping everyday, getting enough protein, digesting their food well, or understanding their body and how it works/changes, etc.
In midlife, with so much changing with hormones, and those changes impacting every single part of our life and body, often women are interested in running labs to see what is going on. Again, they can be helpful but most helpful is first learning exactly how hormones change, what is normal, what is not normal, how to impact them, and how to make changes to food, lifestyle, nutrients, herbs, etc to support each of the stages of hormonal changes in midlife.
Women are often surprised to learn how many years hormones change before menopause and how there is a methodical process to it all that when we understand is quite empowering. It is often surprising to learn how much these changes impact including- sleep, mood, weight, cravings, energy, drive, motivation, relationships, endurance, immune function, skin, libido, and more. It is also often surprising when we learn how much we can impact this process and how we feel.
Have you had any functional lab work done? Was it helpful? Explained well? Are you interested in any? Have you addressed the Foundations first?
So are they worth it? I would say Yes, but…
Yes Functional Lab Test can give us incredible insight but you want to make sure you work with someone who can explain them clearly, give you solid action steps to turn the dial towards health, that you address the foundations first and learn about the hormone changes that happen in midlife.
Lookout for new and affordable health bundles coming soon from Mountain Rebalance!
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM
It is my mission to help people understand their body better, how it works, how it changes, how it is impacted by our world and how we can improve symptoms and function while preventing future health issues. I use science, education, food, lifestyle, herbs, and nutrients, to shift the body towards better function. I focus on midlife mountain women but am happy to work with anyone.
$65/month for 10 months, charged monthly ($150 discount!!!)
As always, Alumni can also choose sign up for the Full 6 week Hormone Club in January at the Alumni discounted rate of 50% off!! Promo Code HormoneAlumni50%. (**Only for women who have already done the Hormone Club once before). Or do the entire year!
For anyone feeling overwhelmed with information, or who is struggling to resolve chronic symptoms, or who wants to understand their body and function their best- what we are missing today are health maps.
Making health maps fires me up! Because they work. And because it feels like the missing piece in healthcare today.
So many people are getting lost with so much health information coming at them. Getting lost in fad diets and quick fixes that don’t work. Getting lost with practitioners who give up when goals are not reached. Getting lost with practitioners who dismiss their symptoms or don’t have the tools to help. Getting lost with protocols that don’t consider the individual. We need a clear framework to stay grounded and on track, at a pace that is right for each of us.
If you want to step forward and take charge of your health in a calm and effective way so you can feel your best and reach your goals, read on.
Maps keep us from getting lost
Maps allow us to move at our own pace
Maps bring clarity and understanding of the big picture
Maps allow us to feel calm and grounded knowing that if we get stuck in a rut or vear off trail we know exactly where we are how to come back on the path
Maps show us all the places we might want to stop on the way
Maps remind us of how all of our efforts fit together to get us to where we are going
I invite you to calm and clarity with me. The answer is a health map. Let me explain.
In working with hundreds of people to resolve symptoms, balance hormones, improve digestive function, reverse autoimmune issues, prevent future health issues, and establish robust energy- I have learned 4 truths.
1.First off we are all different. Not only in where we are coming from health wise and genetically but also in how motivated we are to make changes. There is no one size fits all protocol, approach, or pace. People need time to heal in a way that works for them and we need plans that focus around the individual.
2. Health is intricate in today’s modern world. We are still wired in 50,000 year old biochemistry but our modern world does not match this. There is so much that impacts how we function and contrary to what we might have been taught, all of our body systems are in fact connected. There is no magic protocol or pill that works for everyone. When you work methodically, addressing the roots of health and each of the body systems impacting your condition, there is a lot you can do to turn the dial towards improved health. This is true for people who are already doing a lot right and this is especially true for complicated conditions.
3. I have learned that people are motivated by understanding WHY specific recommendations are made and are empowered by understanding the workings of their own body. This gives them agency, independence, and motivation.
4. There is a ton of information is out there for you to take in. It is often helpful but can be overwhelming to know what is true, what is effective, what order to approach things, what will work for you, or how it all fits together. So many people come to me frantically trying so many different tricks (diets, herbs, supplements, lab testing, etc) but don’t understand how it fits into the big picture, what to focus on, and where to turn next.
One solution I have found that works incredibly well for people looking to feel and function their best not just today but for decades to come is making health maps.
Health maps allow us to see the big picture and stay grounded.
Health maps show us where there are short cuts and where we need to stick to the route.
Health Maps are a framework that allow us see how all of our body systems are connected and do not exist in isolation as we have been trained to think. Often times what moves the dial most, we may have not even considered as a factor contributing the the problem (for example how our detoxification impacts our hormones, or how our microbiome impacts our mood, or our stress impacts our weight, or how gluten impacts autoimmune, etc).
Health maps provide us space to move at our own pace on our health journey and leaves room for all of the layers to unfold at their own time.
Health maps give us clear steps to turn the dial towards greater health and function. We can start with the simple stops first and move forward only as needed.
Health maps remind us WHY we are making certain efforts and remind us that they are part of the process, not the end stop
Health maps can bring us back on track if we do get lost on our health journey or if we are not getting to where we want to go.
Health maps allow us to see where each ‘fad diet’, supplement, lab test, practitioner, or health hack fit into the bigger picture and may or may not have a place
Health maps provide a framework to track our efforts and progress so we don’t get lost along the way or end up going in circles.
So how do Health Maps work in practice?
In my groups we map out each topic clearly so you have a framework to come back to and work from. People can adapt it to their life and preferences but remain grounded in how all of our body systems impact our goal. You can take the small, clear and methodical steps around each stop on the map AND come back to the big picture when you want.
In The Hormone Club we map out everything that impacts our hormones and how this changes as we age. The amount of hormone, type of hormone, how it is detoxed, how it is received in our body, how they change over time, how they work together or against each other, how they are impacted by various body systems, and all the ways we can impact them to feel and age our best. Our hormone maps allow us to work at a pace that is right for each person. We can choose the lowest hanging fruit first and move on as needed.
In The Energy Club we map out energy and blood sugar as this impacts every body system and changes as we age. We map how we make energy, what impacts it, what might be causing us challenges, how it changes over time, how different body systems impact it, etc. Again, we go for the easiest and most impactful steps first and then move around the map as needed to reach our unique health goals at a pace that works for each individual.
When I work one on one with people we dig into everything YOU. We map out all the body systems that might be impacting your health and possibly holding you back from reaching your goals. We consider what labs might be relevant, what efforts you have already made and track those, and where you want to go. Then you get to pick where to start, how fast to proceed, what your end goal is, and how you want to get there. Some people like to lead and some like to follow. It works either way with a map.
I also love mapping out complicated conditions and Root Causes that can impact our entire body such as what drives inflammation, what chronic stressors are, what impacts the health of the microbiome, causes of headaches, insomnia, constipation, mental health, digestion top to bottom, and more.
Want to see my inflammation map? Email me and I will send it to you.
So I guess you could say I am a map maker and trail guide as well as a nutritionist and doctor of natural medicine. I love working alongside people who want to step into their health in an empowered way but who also want results.
What do you think?
Can you see how having a map can keep us grounded and on the path towards greater health in a calm and grounded way? So we can work at our own unique pace?
Have you ever felt overwhelmed and confused about what matters and what efforts to prioritize to feel and function your best?
Stop getting lost down health rabbit holes that worked for someone else and start moving calmly and methodically on your own path to health. Find someone to make you a health map! They rule.
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM
It is my mission to help people understand their body better, how it works, how it changes, how it is impacted by our world and how we can improve symptoms and function while preventing future health issues. I use science, education, food, lifestyle, herbs, and nutrients, to shift the body towards better function.
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).
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-
Are you a female over 45? (estrogen changes change the way we tolerate glucose/carbs)
Do you wake up in the middle of the night and have a hard time falling back to sleep?
Do you ever get tired after a meal, where you want to take a nap?
Do you regularly bonk around 3-4pm?
Do you have a hard time going 5 hours between eating a meal or snack? Meaning, you stay full for less than 5 hours?
Are you finding it hard to lose new weight around your midsection?
Do you get hangry?
Do you get headaches or jittery when you skip a meal?
Do you eat processed foods or refined grains like pasta, cereal, muffins, breads, chips, etc? Or sugary drinks like chai, kombucha, juices, or smoothies?
Do you drink alcohol or other sugary drinks on an empty stomach?
Are you often hungry all day?
Do you eat small meals, or snacks, or drink beverages other than water or herbal tea all day?
Do you eat a sweet breakfast like oats, smoothies, cereal, baked goods, granola, or fat free yogurt?
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.
Do you have small pieces of excess skin on the neck or armpits (skin tags)?
Do you have any family members that have blood sugar challenges?
Do experience anxiety during the day?
Do you experience brain fog?
Are you an athlete that relies on carbs or sugary foods for fuel?
Do you currently have prediabetes, diabetes, gestational diabetes, heart disease, fatty liver disease?
Do you want to avoid diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s?
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!
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!
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.
An online course designed for savvy folks who want to feel, look, and age their best.
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
Balanced mood and less anxiety/depression
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. Learn exactly how to flatten your glucose curve so your body functions its best. No gimmicks, just physiology and tangible tools so you know exactly how to move forward.
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 and improve our health.
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.
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
Improved moods including less anxiety
To reduce midlife weight gain
To prevent future diseases associated with aging such as Alzheimer’s, Arthritis, etc
Support using a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to see exactly what is going on in your body minute by minute during the day
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
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 bodyand 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!!
“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
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.
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.
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
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)
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.
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
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.