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.
Books- 5 Love Languages for Teens and Enneagram for Teens
Phone Charging Station- Our family rule, and it is NOT easy, is that all phones are on the phone charging station every night around 8-9pm depending on the kiddo (age). I can feel the kids anxiety increase as they scroll on their phones, they are my least favorite part of parenting. This at least gives them a break and allows their nervous system a moment to settle. We also needed to make sure we had good alarm clocks in everyone’s room and that they were set.
Essential Oil Diffuser– I love how the smell of a room can change the entire mood of the family. It is really important to me that we do this cleanly though, as artificial scents from candles or room fresheners can impact hormone balance and stress our body’s detox system. So we do this with essential oils and a diffuser. One of my favorite morning smells is Lemongrass while I love diffusing lavender and chamomile after dinner in the evening to help people wind down. There are so many to choose from though. I would love to hear what your favorites are!
Sleep tea or tinctures– My kids love tea and they love the ritual of tea as well. It is such a sweet offering and has endless benefits depending what your goal is. We also use a lot of herbal tinctures in water too. Either way, some of our favorite evening herbs include chamomile, catnip, kava, valerian, skullcap, and california poppy. You can easily purchase herbal tea mixes such as sleepy time, or tinctures at your natural grocery store. You can find some of my favorite tinctures here. These herbs work wonders in the evening to help teens wind down and fall to sleep. Some of my favorite herb companies include Mountain Rose, Gaia, and Wise Woman Herbals. But honestly, if nothing else, don’t underestimate the ritual of a cup of chamomile tea before bed.
Smoothies– Smoothies are such an easy and quick way to load up on nutrients. But of course not all smoothies are made the same. Check out my blog on building a smoothie and download my cheat sheet there too. My kids each have their own favorite. We did just master the chocolate Rebel Smoothie recipe which is the family favorite at the moment. And it is SO easy. I will post that recipe this week on Instagram @mountain.rebalance.nutrition. Whatever kind we make it is important to include a healthy fat and a good protein to make sure the energy from the smoothie is balanced and long lasting.
Chai tea– This is the smell of my house in the fall. I love it, the kids love it, it warms and soothes the soul immediately. My kids love making a cup for their friends now too. You can find this recipe here and read up on other fall rituals I love here. Buying a simple chai tea blend from the grocery works too, and mix it with honey and coconut milk or milk of choice. Ymmm.
Booster Foods– Let’s be honest, the older my kids get the less perfectly they eat. I am grateful that they do understand the important of eating healthy fats, clean proteins, and colorful fiber (fruits/veggies) but they also eat a lot of crap as they get more freedom in the world. Booster foods are such and easy way to load up on nutrient dense foods so I can feel okay about their not so great choices. Check out my favorite booster foods here. The trick is they need to be handy and visible.
Protein and Greens Powders– These are also booster foods but they deserve their own place because we use them daily. I love adding these to smoothies. Easy and done. Some of my kids will even slam a greens powder mixed in water. I always explain WHY these foods are so important and then I sit back and watch them add them now and again. Mom win. (remember, protein helps us build muscle, supports mood, and helps promote balanced energy. greens powders add loads of vitamins and minerals to keep our immune system strong and cells strong and skin glowing).
Supplements– Some people love them some people hate them. They are not meant to supply all our nutrients but they are meant to supplement where we are not getting enough. Again, my teens are not eating fish and veggies everyday all day so we choose to supplement during these intense years of growth and learning. We take them about 50-75% of the time just to keep it chill. My basics for them include Essential Fatty Acids, Probiotics, beef liver, and Vitamin D drops. Some of them choose to take magnesium at night to help them relax. But of course, not all supplements are created equal and this sadly can be so confusing. Feel free to check out the clean and high quality ones we use and you can purchase them here as well.
Print outs– You know me, list girl. They make things easy and THEY WORK. You can print out our family’s top 3- Lunchbox Cheat Sheet, Building a Plate cheat sheet, and Meal Planning Form (find links above in list). Because food really is medicine if you want it to be and this is a life skill they will take with them for decades to come. But we need to be organized, so lists.
Spirit Cards– This might sound silly but these cards have been so wonderful in our home. They open up the space to think about things and reflect on things in unique and mindful ways. I have given each of my kids their own decks in the past but I also have a family one that I spread out each morning on the kitchen table and each kid picks one when they wake up. They close their eyes and try to feel which one is calling to them. Each card has an animal or symbol on them and you can look up their meaning or take what you want from it. It is so touching how the kids respond. It really adds some morning magic. Simple and sweet, which is a treasure with teens.
Rescue Remedy– Have you used this? It comes in a spray or little candies. It is flower medicine and helps in times of anxiety/panic/overwhelm. I have a little tin of this in each of my kids bags for those moments that they need a life line. They don’t talk about it much but I see then disappear slowly over the year and it makes me happy they have a small tool, along with their breath, to help support calm.
Mindful Books– I love these books and I love when my kids can get to know their true selves and how they tick! Some of my kids enjoy them more than others. Sometimes I am reading from seemingly into space but then they will mention them and I know they picked up on it. Or they will discuss it with their friends or their teams or often we will discuss them at the dinner table. Despite eye rolling, any amount of self awareness is a success. I really believe that the more our kids can know themselves, and understand themselves and how they interact with the world the deeper and more positively they can experience life and others. This includes teachers, coaches, friends, partners, employers, and their own big feelings. Currently my 2 favorites for this year are A Teen’s Guide to the 5 Love Languages: How to Understand Yourself and Improve All Your Relationships and The Enneagram for Teens: Discover Your Personality Type and Celebrate Your True Self. Do you know your love language? Your kids? How about how your personalities get along? So cool.
There are so many parenting classes, books and open conversations when our children are younger about how to navigate things. I have found that parenting becomes even more important and even more challenging in more complicated ways when our kids become teens. Yes they are magnificent to talk to and are full of so many cool ideas, but I would argue they need even more from us at this time- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Since I am far from perfect at this, these tricks here help.
I can see a big difference in my kids when I make time to prioritize health. I feel good about helping them to eat and live to support their brain, muscles, spirit, mood, immune health and energy. How about you? Have you seen small things you do to stay ahead of health pay off? Or the opposite? What is on your back to school health list? I would love to hear!
Janel Ferrin Anderson DNM FNLP NC and mom
Hello, Janel here. I am a functional medicine and holistic nutrition therapist. I obsesses over how the body functions and helping people to use food, nutrients, lifestyle, and herbs to optimize how they feel and function. I believe in science and research but am also deeply rooted in intuition and the wild.
Waking up in Norway with a cold plunge in the icy fjord, followed by a delicious breakfast of salmon on dark bread and berries with yogurt while plotting the long days mountain adventure was a dream for this food and mountain loving girl.
I love travel when the food and activities of the day help you feel your best.
Norway is top for me in this department.
The green forests, snowy peaks, sod roofs, icy fjords, clean air, charming and colorful houses, and delicious foods all helped Norway win my heart.
Some of the food there is not my favorite (brown cheese anyone?) but there are so many foods that not only taste delicious but also work with my body. Think wild mushrooms, brightly colored berries, wild salmon, an assortment of nuts and seeds, warm soups and yummy stews, and dark delicious bread.
This place is heaven. Here are a few shots from our trip there in June about 6 years ago now that I am still savoring and trying to relive with my Viking Sauce……….
Anderson’s Viking Sauce
I use this delicious sauce to flavor yogurt, or in soda water to make a delicious berry drink, or even on a spoon as an immune boosting tonic. Give it a try! It is rich, complex, and soothes the body and the soul.
What you will need
Elderberries- 2/3 cup dried (or 1.5 cup fresh)
Assorted berries- 1 cup
4-5 cups of water
1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken up
1 inch of ginger, grated or sliced thin
2 cups of raw local honey
Bring water, berries, ginger and cinnamon to a slow boil in a pot on the stove. Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and leave to cook for about 1 hour until it reduces down.
Turn off stove and allow to cool a bit
Strain mixture into a big bowl (I use a muslin bag)
Combine with honey and mix
Store in a glass container in the fridge and use on everything! My favorite way to use it is on plain full fat yogurt with nuts like walnuts and hazelnuts and sunflower seeds and berries. But a sparkling soda water with a splash is utterly delish too. YUM
I would love to hear about one of your favorite vacation places and the food that can bring you right back!
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM
Janel helps people use food and lifestyle to optimize how they feel and function. She specializes in gut health, hormones, resilience, and mountains. She is a lover of the wild and physiology of the body.
Research is continually showing that a balanced, rich, and robust microbiome is one of the major drivers of short term and long term health.
If I could only recommend one area for people to focus to ensure better overall health it would be on protecting and enhancing their microbiome. This is a core Foundation of Health.
Sometimes it feels overwhelming to me to even discuss the microbiome due to the fact that your microbiome is connected to every body system and cell in your body.
Your acute problem might be hormone imbalance, headaches, stubborn weight gain, chronic pain, insomnia, depression, fatigue, immune issues, skin rashes, boating, etc……………but the root cause could be in your gut and specifically, your microbiome.
I have found that no matter what you are trying to heal or repair or rebalance, addressing the microbiome will help everything function better. But this is no magic bullet because it actually takes time and sustainable small efforts, but the payoff is big.
I will share 1 important function of the microbiome with 1 step you can take to optimize it at a time.
But before we go there……… The basics. Your microbiome is a unique ecosystem made of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microbes. We have far more microbes than we have human cells and they cover all the various parts of our body including our gut, skin, mouth, and lungs. These microbes dictate how we feel and how we function and how we age. The science around this is exploding right now as we learn about their important role in aging, energy, disease, autoimmunity, chronic symptoms, weight gain, hormone health, immune health, chronic inflammation and more.
NOTE- If one of these tips does not feel right, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. It is usually NOT the new habit but instead the state of your gut. You may need to restore a microbial imbalance before you can use ideal tips. Moving slowly is always best.
Let’s dig in! 1 bite at a time.
#1- A Boundary
Bite Size #1- Your microbiome is a major guardian, protecting you from what enters your body.
According to Dr. Kiran Krishnan- Microbiologist at Microbiome Labs, Our gut is where we are most exposed to the outside world. This is why most of our immune system resides here.
Our digestive tract is actually considered OUTSIDE THE BODY. The guards that protect what is allowed to come into the body are the MICROBES in our MICROBIOME (and the mucus layer they directly impact). If there is an imbalance in your microbiome, there is not proper protection. (1)
“If your microbiome is robust and diverse there is amazing protection and improvement in our health and wellness in the short term and long term” says Dr. Krishnan. (2)
We want to absorb nutrients from our food but keep out harmful substances such as mold, viral toxins, bacterial toxins, environmental toxins, undigested foods, etc.
When this barrier function is not working (aka leaky gut), we can absorb these substances and the result is chronic inflammation. And the thing is, this chronic inflammation goes above and beyond digestive issues. In this case we might see symptoms like- brain fog, achy joints, headaches, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and more inflammatory symptoms and disease progression associated with again.
A leaky gut, which is the root of so many chronic issues, starts with an imbalance in the microbiome, the guards are down and the mucosal barrier is disrupted. And again, digestive issues are not even present in these situations yet, the gut is the root of the problem but the symptoms are elsewhere.
I have heard this roughly likened to a castle wall (the thin layer of the gut wall) being guarded from invaders by soldiers standing guard (the microbes in your gut). When the guards are few in number, or are made of disruptive characters, invaders can easily get in and the wall is destroyed. The guards are VITAL.
One of the most harmful things that can move across the boundary from the gut into the body and cause problems in this situation are Endotoxins, or toxins made in the body. These include LPS or lipopolysaccharides that are made from gram negative bacteria. They belong in the gut but NOT in the bloodstream. When they enter the body through a leaky gut from an imbalanced microbiome it becomes a highly toxic compound that acts as a root cause for hundreds of chronic illnesses says Dr. Krishnan. And again, these are NOT digestive issues. (2)
Tip #1- One way you can protect the health of your microbiome is to EAT A WIDE VARIETY OF FOODS, including all of the colors at every meal. Diversity is KEY as the different microbes eat different foods (think a variety of veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans). Try new foods each week and enhance your microbiome.
Each of the different microbes in our gut feed off different foods. This is why a diverse diet is key to long term health above and beyond nutrient wise. Even if you eat a salad every day, change it up, get new veggies, add different nuts, seeds, fruits, fresh herbs, spices, healthy oils, clean proteins, etc. Download my rainbow food tool here to help.
REMEMBER- if eating a diverse diet does NOT feel right, get CURIOUS around what might be going on in your gut and your microbiome. You may need to rebalance your microbes first. (See my video here on HEAL vs IDEAL)
#2- Microbes make POSTBIOTICS that communicate with other parts of your body
Bitesize #2- POSTBIOTICS ARE FUNDAMENTAL FOR OVERALL HEALTH in all parts of the body, not just in the gut.
The friendly microbes in your gut feed off prebiotics and the result of this process are compounds called postbiotics. These postbiotics, or compounds made by the microbes in your gut, are one important way the microbiome communicates directly with the immune system, the brain, the skin, our hormonal system, and every other cell in the body. This is huge and we are learning more about this everyday as research in this area is growing fast.
Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a type of postbiotic. The one SCFA we hear a lot about is Butyrate. Butyrate is a POSTBIOTIC that is made when certain bacteria in the gut feed off certain fibers. You have to have the good bacteria and you have to feed them the right foods to get these postbiotics that we need for optimal health.
Butyrate makes us more sensitive to insulin, it helps us to use fat for fuel, it feeds helpful microbes so they can grow, it talks directly to the immune system, and it is the main fuel for the gut wall so the gut can repair itself and provide a healthy boundary (7).
Other postbiotics impact our neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, tryptophan and influences our mood in this way. Others impact the brain through the vagus nerve and there is a lot of research happening in that area now. Other postbiotics include B vitamins, vitamin K, amino acids, and antimicrobials that keep harmful microbes from growing. Yes, the microbes in your gut make those!!(4).
There is growing evidence that certain postbiotics positively impact allergies, eczema, colic, defense against viruses, weight loss, joint pain, eye issues, heart disease, constipation, diarrhea and other IBS and IBD symptoms and may even have anti tumor properties (5,6).
We are continuing to learn a ton about postbiotics and how they important they are for our health and homeostasis. Make sure you have a healthy and diverse microbiome, that you are feeding those microbes well, and that you have the right environment for healthy microbes to grow- and boom, your body will make these essential postbiotics for you.
Tip #2- Tending to your microbiome is a bit like farming, you need to seed it, feed it, and provide the right environment for the good microbes to grow. When it comes to seeding the right microbes it is important to either eat fermented foods daily, such as sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, miso, yogurt, or fermented veggies or take a researched and proven effective probiotic regularly (don’t waste your money with ones that do not have research behind them). I recommend people take specific probiotics a few months each year. Click here to see my favorites and 3 month microbiome protocol.
#3- Female Hormonal Balance, Estrogen and The ESTROBOLOME
Bitesize #2 Your ESTROBOLOME impacts how much estrogen is in circulation in your body and in result influences how you feel month to month and during PUBERTY, POSTPARTUM, and PERIMENOPAUSE
Your gut is directly connected to your female hormones in several ways but one major way is through your ESTROBOLOME, which is part of your gut microbiome (7).
This is some cool and simple science that relates to how you feel during your menstrual cycle each month AND how smoothly you transition from one hormonal phase into another (aka puberty, after having babies, perimenopause and menopause).
In order to feel our best as women we want estrogen in just the right amount at the right time. Estrogen is made in many different areas of the body including in the ovaries. It is received all over the body (which is why we feely symptoms of estrogen imbalance all over our body) to do its many jobs. After, estrogen is detoxed in the liver and sent out with the bile to the gut to leave the system with our feces. The microbes that make up your estrobolome in your gut impact how much estrogen moves out of your body and how much is reabsorbed back into the system, so how much estrogen you have at any given time. It does this through making an enzyme (a postbiotic, see above) called betaglucaronidase that regulates how much estrogen is absorbed back into the bloodstream. These microbes in your estrobolome also turn certain plant foods into phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) that help if there is too much estrogen or if there is too little estrogen (7).
So the estrobolome influences both if you are estrogen dominant or if you are low in estrogen, and in result influence all the symptoms that go along with those major imbalances (bloating, cramps, hot flashes, anxiety, sleep problems, tender breasts, etc).
You can actually test and see how robust and diverse your microbiome is, including seeing how your estrobolome is functioning. This is part of the Gut Zoomer at Vibrant Labs or the BiomeFx from Microbiome Labs, two labs that are doing incredible research into the gut microbiome.
Tip #3- One way to protect your microbiome is to set aside time every single to mindfully relax and reduce the stress coming in. Certain harmful bacteria only grow in a stressful environments and can cause a imbalance in your gut microbiome (growth of harmful microbes and inactivation of helpful microbes causing all sorts of downstream problems). So, start today, set aside at least 5 minutes every day for mindful relaxation- breathwork, guided imagery, walk quietly in nature, listen to a favorite calming song, take a bath, or………… Your Microbiome Will Thank You.
BITE SIZE #4 – The Microbiome and MOOD
“You simply cannot improve mood disorders without improving the gut. Your gut has at least 50% control over your mood” -Microbiologist and Microbiome expert Kiran Krishnan.
The new research around the microbiome and mood is the most exciting area of research to me right now. It’s a tough call between microbiome and immune health, hormones, endurance, and pain but I think mood is at the forefront of exciting new research. But the changes the people I work with feel in their mood as we optimize their gut is incredible and reflects the research.
The microbiome directly impacts your brain and mood, including anxiety, depression, stress response, brain inflammation, degenerative disease susceptibility, and day to day focus (9).
The gut talks directly to the brain and the brain also talks directly to the gut. We call that bi-directional communication. They impact each other. It goes both ways. This happens from the start of life all the way to the end of life. The more diverse your gut microbiome, especially with certain species, the better your mood and brain function. Did you know your gut is called your second brain?!
There are a lot of different ways that the microbiome specifically impacts mood but I am going to highlight just a few here.
Your gut microbes impact your neurotrasmitters a few different ways. Serotonin is your happy neurotransmitter, dopamine is all about feeling good and Gaba helps you to feel calm (10). Many of your neurotransmitters are made by microbes in your gut or influenced by them. These are transferred from the gut to the brain through the vagus nerve. Your gut microbes also impact how precursors such as tryptophan convert to melatonin and serotonin. Furthermore on the flip side, there are specific microbes like Campylobacter that make neurotransmitters that actually create anxiety in your brain (10). You need the right microbes to get these neurotransmitters right.
Your stress response and HPA axis is directly influenced by your gut microbes in a few different ways. When you have a diverse and robust microbiome you are able to return to calm quicker after any stress response (in other words, your microbes dictate how well you return back to rest/digest or if you stay in fight/flight after stress). Specific microbes in your gut are linked to a better stress response and less anxiety and depression by way of specific peptidoglycans (a post biotic) that the microbes make in your gut (9). This postbiotic was key to helping develop the brain and central nervous system in utero (so moms gut makes a difference). After birth this postbiotic is still important as research shows it helps reduce perceived stress and it also is what helps puts the brain into theta waves or ‘flow state’ (enhanced focus, reduced mental fatigue). It improves sleep and decreases cortisol. Wow!! I told you postbiotics were important and yes, we know what strains are important.
LPS- Lipopolysaccharides are made by certain bacteria in your gut and do not cause a big problem when they stay in your gut (another postbiotic but this time a pesky one). However, when they leak through a leaky gut into the blood they are able to cross the blood brain barrier and increase neurotoxicity and brain inflammation and is a huge driver of all mood disorders(9). LPS in the brain also impacts how neurotransmitters like dopamine in the brain are received, it can block the receptor and this is huge for addiction (10). New research shows that LPS are also connected to alzheimers and parkinsons.
So, again, if you want to improve mood and brain function, don’t forget about your microbiome. And the cool thing, there is so much you can do!!!
Tip #4- Did you know that dirt actually helps improve the diversity of your microbiome. There is research that shows playing in the dirt can and does improve the diversity of your microbiome in your gut! That might look like organic gardening in your backyard, playing in the mud on a river trip, having a picnic out on the trail, doing yard work, climbing around rocks, building a fort out back, raking the leaves, or any way you can mess about on the earth/dirt (8). Yay! Play on.
Hello and welcome! I am Janel and I am obsessed with the science around how the human body functions and what impacts it. I help people use food and lifestyle to feel their best and to support short term and long term health. There is always a way to optimize how our unique body functions. Get curious with me. Learn more about me here and learn about working with me here
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.
What we eat has a huge impact on how we function and our health but equally important is how we break down those foods and how we absorb those foods. The best foods in the world can only work their magic if we are able to access and use the nutrients.
We now know that our food is way more than just calories. The foods we eat are information for every cell in our body and are what our cells need to grow healthy tissues, fire our nervous system properly, fight viruses and bacteria, grow bones, think clearly, detox chemicals/meds/hormones/etc, make enzymes/hormones/neurotransmitters, and so much more.
But first we need to properly break down our foods and then absorb our foods effectively. So many of us are not doing this efficiently and while this can prevent us from using all the nutrients improperly digested food can also cause acute problems such as bloating, gas, diarrhea, inflammation, and more. No thank you.
No matter what health issue you are working on, starting with the gut from top to bottom will support any/all of the work you do. No matter what fancy protocol you are following, gut function is key.
Here are 5 simple ways to enhance digestion so you can fully use all the nutrients you are eating to support your health today and for decades. Try adding a new one each week and see how your feel.
1.Breath 3-5 times before you eat. Taking the time to breath calmly before you eat impacts digestion in a few magnificent ways. We cannot digest our food when we are stressed. We need the parasympathetic part of our nervous system (aka rest and digest side) to be activated in order to secrete stomach acid, digestive enzymes, and bile, which are all needed to break down our food and absorb the nutrients in them. The time it takes to stop, slow down and breath also allows us time to smell our food which also activates digestive secretions and blood flow to the gut so we can properly break down our food. So many of us are rushing around throwing food into our mouth and not setting up the environment for digestion. (I even do this when I am eating on the trail and especially if I am ever eating at work or on the run.). So for a week try breathing 3-5 times before you eat and see how you feel.
2. Chew, Chew, Chew. Chewing is one of the first steps involved with digestion. Digestion is a cascade of events that relies on the completion of the steps before it. When you chew your body is queued to make secretions needed for digestion/absorption. The longer you chew the longer your body has to get ready for digestion and in addition, the longer you chew the greater the surface area of your food so these digestive juices can easily act upon it, breaking it down more effectively and efficiently. Chewing alone can relieve gas, bloating and abdominal pain for many. “Eat your drink and drink your food” is a quote I love and one that helps me remember how important it is to chew our food until it is liquid and soft (plus ‘chewing’ our liquids like smoothies allows our body time to release those important digestive secretions that it won’t release if you guzzle down your smoothie or juice too fast). Try counting how many times you chew each bite today and then try chewing until your food feels like a liquid. Try chewing 30-50 times and see how it feels. If you tune into how that feels it can become a habit to chew your food like that regularly and in result improve how your body functions and feels. And guess what, you can do this if you are eating on the trail too!
3. Drink raw fermented apple cider vinegar in water 20-30 minutes before you eat a meal, similarly lemon water works for this. The low pH of apple cider vinegar on an empty stomach encourages your stomach to produce hydrochloric acid, which is essential to break down proteins and to absorb important energy nutrients like iron and B12. Stomach acid also helps kill pathogens that enter through the mouth. It’s a common misconception that heartburn and GERD are symptoms of too much stomach acid, but in reality, these are typically an indication of not having enough stomach acid (PMID: 27574495). We want our stomach to be very acidic, around a pH of 1–2. Start small but shoot eventually for 1-2 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or 1/2 a lemon) in 8 ounces of water 20-30 minutes before you eat. If you feel a warming under your ribs on the left side that means you can scale back or eliminate this as you have sufficient stomach acid. Although this is a gentle practice, if you have inflammation due to GERD or any issues with stomach acid please work with your healthcare provider.
4. Try herbal bitters with your meals. Herbal bitters are a wonderful addition to support digestion as they stimulate gastric juices such as hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes, and bile to support the breakdown and absorption of food. I like spraying bitters in my mouth or before a meal but my kids like spraying them in their water. You can take them with your food or after. They definitely live up to their name (they are super bitter) but as you reintroduce this important flavor back into your life they will become more tolerable. Bitters also support fewer sugar cravings. There are many wonderful small batch herbal bitters that you can find at farmers markets or in your local health food stores but I love the ones from Herb Pharm which come in a spray bottle for easy use. I love encouraging people to use these during our spring cleanse where we focus on loading up on fresh seasonal foods and elixirs to support our liver and our body’s ability to detox.
5. Stimulate your vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve is what controls your digestive juices and motility of your digestive system. We need it working properly in order to break down our foods and pass them through the system in a timely manner, we don’t want things moving too fast or too slowly (aka poop). We even rely on good vagal tone to keep the bacteria in our gut in the right places so they don’t cause problems elsewhere (aka bloating, burping, gas, etc). Low vagal tone has been implicated in everything from Parkinson’s, to bloating, constipation, Fibromyalgia, IBD, hormone problems and more. It is the biggest nerve in the body and communication goes both ways from your brain and gut and from your gut to your brain. If our gut is not happy it tells our brain and if our brain is stressed it impacts our gut. A few ways to easily tone your vagus nerve is to hum, sing, gargle, or chant every day. I try to hum every morning when I am filling up my lemon water and tea water. Deep breathing is another wonderful way to stimulate your vagus nerve. Monitoring your heart rate variability is a great way to tune into the health of your vagus nerve.
This is only a start but these 5 pack a big punch in supporting your body to digest and absorb the food you are eating better. In result YOU function better and address many annoying signs and symptoms.
The best foods in the world will not work and can even cause problems if you are not breaking them down effectively, absorbing them and moving things along in a timely manner. Plus, our digestive system is the gateway between the outside world and the inside world. It is directly connected to our immune system, our nervous system, and the health of every cell in our body. Poor digestion can be the cause of so many problems that don’t feel like they have anything to do with the digestive system (think headaches, fatigue, joint pain, hormone problems, insomnia and more).
This is one reason I love Functional Nutrition. We focus on the roots of health, the root cause of symptoms and HOW THE BODY IS FUNCTIONING, not just covering up symptoms. People often (and understandably) spend time chasing symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, insomnia, bloating, etc. Before you jump in on a fad diet or herb make sure your body is functioning. When you address the roots you can make an impact on the entire body. Using food and lifestyle to support the body to function its best is powerful way to optimize health no matter where you are in life or on the health spectrum or no matter what other medical therapy you are using. Starting with the basics- GUT HEALTH and DIGESTION– is one of the first steps for all of us.
Give these a try and let me know how it goes.
Join the SPRING CLEANSE and we will be adding all of these (along with loading up on nourishing foods to cleanse, detox, rejuvenate and release the heavy energy of winter).
Hope to see you soon.
Janel Ferrin Anderson. NC, FNLP, DNM
Janel is a board certified nutrition consultant, a certified functional nutrition practitioner and has her doctorate in Natural Medicine. Janel is obsessed with helping people understand their body better and helping them get to the root of what is causing health problems. Using food, lifestyle, herbs, supplements and testing she helps people shift the terrain towards health.
So many people that come to work with me struggle with low energy, despite looking like the image of health on the outside for some.
They are often told by their doctors that they look perfectly healthy, everything is great, maybe just depressed?
From a disease perspective I get it. No disease there. But from a health perspective there can be a lot going on and a lot to work with to turn the dial. When we consider that there is a spectrum of health, not just Diseased or Healthy, we find there is quite a bit we can do with food and lifestyle to turn the dial towards better health, function, and greater energy.
One of my missions is to fill the gap between disease and perfect health, empowering people learn about what is going on in their body and what they can do to optimize how they function not matter where they are on the spectrum of health.
Nothing woo woo here, just systems biology coupled with modifiable lifestyle choices to improve how we feel and function.
When we look at how energy is made and what impacts it, there are 4 areas that stick out to me, as a functional nutritionist, where food and lifestyle can make a difference even for people already eating diverse whole foods.
Blood sugar highs and lows
Thyroid health and how the system is functioning
Mitochondria and the nutrients needed to make energy (not just calories)
The amount of Stress we are under, how we process that stress, and how our adrenals and HPA axis (hypothalamus/pituitary/adrenal axis) are handling it
It is almost painful to omit DIGESTION from this list but for the sake of not beating a dead horse I will leave it out of the top 4 😉 . Of course eating enough food, sleeping, and moving regularly help here too. I wanted to address things people are not always thinking about.
1. Blood Sugar Regulation
Optimizing blood sugar is important for all of us, not just diabetics. So many of the people I work with are shocked how much this is impacting their energy on a day to day basis. I was even shocked when I tuned in to my blood sugar. Blood sugar is impacted by what we eat, when we eat, how much stress we have in our lives, how we move our body, how well we sleep, our estrogen, and more. Our blood sugar levels naturally go up and down during the day but we want hills, not mountains. What goes up will come down and often crashing down hard bringing with it symptoms of blood sugar imbalance such as: afternoon fatigue, sleepiness, cravings, anxiety, waking up in the middle of the night, headaches, irritability, and more. If you want to optimize your energy it is essential to optimize your blood sugar. Retraining your body to burn fat is a great way to do this as is balancing fat/fiber/protein at every meal and snack. Because blood sugar is so important for energy, sleep, and hormone balance we work on this in our 6 week Women’s Hormone Club, at the 10 week Foundations of Health and I address this with my one on one clients. How balanced is your blood sugar? Do you have any symptoms indicating you could use some work here? Tuning into your ups and downs during the day can be incredibly insightful to optimizing blood sugar and feeling more balanced energy.
One of my favorite ways to help balance blood sugar is getting enough protein for breakfast. I find most people miss this chance to manage blood sugar in a way that trickles down to the rest of the day.
2. Thyroid Health
Our thyroid impacts our metabolism and how we use protein, carbs, and fat to make energy, it impacts our oxygen consumption, our sodium/potassium regulation, cardiovascular function, red blood cells, digestion, and is used by every cell in our body. 1, 2. If we do not have enough thyroid hormone or cannot properly use our thyroid hormone our entire body will slow down and fatigue is a common symptom. Our thyroid depends on clear communication between our brain and our thyroid (the HPT axis), it depends on having the proper nutrients to make thyroid hormones (which also includes how well we are digesting and absorbing those nutrients), on our microbiome to convert thyroid hormone to a usable form, if we have antibodies to our thyroid gland or antibodies to certain thyroid enzymes, and on our cell’s ability to receive and use thyroid hormone 3. If any part of the system is not functioning optimally, even if there is not a diagnosable disease to treat, or even if someone is taking thyroid hormone but not utilizing it well, energy will be impacted. Getting a clear idea of thyroid function and making sure your thyroid has what it needs to function is an important step to optimize energy and one that affects women considerably more than men. Even if your TSH looks perfect there could be more at play. Food and lifestyle are key players in the thyroid system (HPT) and getting a full thyroid panel is key if there are energy issues or any signs of a slow down in the body.
Some of my favorite thyroid supportive foods include- brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, kelp, eggs, and greens.
3. Mitochondria and the Nutrients Needed to Produce Energy
Our mitochondria are where energy is made in our body. We not only need fat, carbohydrates, and oxygen to make energy but we also depend on many other factors to keep the system pumping out ATP, the energy currency in our body. If we do not have enough of any of the following factors, energy production will be decreased, leaving us with less energy. This includes iron to help move oxygen from our lungs to our mitochondria, B vitamins to help the mitochondria convert carbs/fat/protein into energy, and all 20 amino acids needed for coenzymes throughout the process. In the case of these three we depend not only on getting enough from our diet but also on digesting and absorbing them properly. If we do not have enough stomach acid or have any issues with the villi in our small intestine or have a lack of digestive enzymes or bile, we might have a hard time absorbing and digesting these critical nutrients even if we are consuming them. We also need plenty of antioxidants to maintain the integrity of the mitochondria, we need sufficient sulfur, CoQ10, Carnitine, N-acetyl cysteine, vitamin D, magnesium, fatty acids, and alpha lipoic acid for energy production, all coming from the foods we are or are not eating and how we are breaking them down. 4 5 6 Even heavy metals, mold, and toxins can impact our mitochondria 11. Do your mitochondria have what they need to function optimally? Are you sure?
4. Stress and how we are managing it
Every time we are faced with a stressor in life, either emotional, physical, nutritional, environmental, immune wise, from blood sugar swings, etc our hpa axis responds by releasing cortisol from the adrenal glands so our body is prepped to react. This is a great thing as we need cortisol for many reasons, unless is it kept in ‘ON’ mode for too long that is. Our brain does not differentiate if we are being chased by a tiger, are stressed about bills, are up late watching a suspenseful thriller, have a nutrient deficiency, are overtraining, have a chronic infection, mold exposure, or any other stress we might be facing. It is all stress on the body and is a bit of a mismatch between how we evolved and our current environment. Some stress is a good thing (hormesis) but too much stress can negatively impact the HPA axis or hypothalamus pituitary adrenal axis 7 8. We are meant to handle stress but not a never ending onslaught of stressors 10 (allostatic load). In this case we might see dysregulated cortisol which can manifest as low energy in the morning (despite getting plenty of sleep) and low energy throughout the day, among other things signs of HPA axis dysregulation 8 9. Although ‘adrenal fatigue’ is outdated and not recognized as science based condition (the adrenals are not fatigued instead cortisol is regulated by the brain), hpa axis dysregulation is very real and can be a leading contributor to feeling low energy and fatigue 10. Removing what stressors we can and learning to process our emotional stress better are two important components to supporting the HPA axis and optimizing our energy during the day. Sometimes we need to do a little digging to figure out what is causing our stress response to be turned on chronically.
A couple of favorite herbs/foods to support stress management include sipping lemon balm tea, and taking Adaptogens like Reishi, Rhodiola, Maca and Ashwanganda.
If you are feeling less energy than normal there are ways to use food and lifestyle to support your body and increase your energy (Of course ruling out any serious condition with your physician is an important step).
Tracking is a great way to start tuning in to what is going on in your body. Start noticing and writing down when you feel good, when you feel low, what you are eating, your lifestyle choices during those times, known stressors, mood, poop, sleep, how much you are resting, etc. There are labs and tests that can help you dig deeper too, such as nutritional panels, a functional thyroid panel, serum labs such as iron/ferritin/vitamin D/magnesium, dried urine and salivary hormone tests, blood sugar monitoring, organic acids tests, and more. Optimizing digestions is always important to make sure you are able to use the nutrients you are eating. Stay curious and reach out to a trusted wellness professional for help.
Digging deeper with functional labs can be extremely helpful if things feel off in your body. When we look at functional labs we are looking for optimal function instead of just for disease. Test don’t guess! Check out functional labs I often use for energy issues.
Some of my favorite functional booster foods to support optimal energy include
liver (supplement if you don’t want to eat organ meat)
sprouts (broccoli, alfalfa, mung, etc)
bee pollen, royal jelly, and honey
nuts and seeds
What do you do to optimize your energy?
This is intended to serve as education regarding food and lifestyle to support health. It is not meant to treat or diagnose any health condition. Please consult your physician with any health issues.
Janel works with people one and one and in group settings out of her office in Truckee/Tahoe. She helps people better understand what is going on in their body and explores with them how to use food and lifestyle to optimize health. Janel is a board certified nutrition consultant, a certified functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner and has her doctorate in natural medicine. She is endlessly interested in WHY things function the way they do.
I love smoothies for easy, fast, and nutrient dense snacks and meals. But, be warned, all smoothies are not created the same.
You want to make sure you are not getting a dessert in a cup, which many of them are.
How do you do this?
Make sure you are getting good protein (around 20-30 grams), a healthy fat (from mct oil, nut butter, or find others on my smoothie guide), not too much sugar and some fiber too (nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies, etc). This combo will ensure you are satiated and that your blood sugar does not spike. These spikes then come crashing down causing all sorts of problems systemically and can bring on symptoms such as bonking in the afternoon, anxiety, problems sleeping, daytime sleepiness, and more. Yuck. These highs/lows can also impact hormones and cause problems with sleep too. Most people I know do not have time for any of that.
We want to drink smoothies that are loaded with nutrients, support our health, and give us long lasting and balanced energy.
Use my smoothie guide below to formulate your own or check out my recipes.
DELICIOUS and health promoting smoothies are easy to make in a flash.
A green smoothie bowl for when you crave using a spoon and want some crunch
Can you find the protein and fats in all these smoothies? Are you including enough of these important macros in your smoothies? Use the smoothie guide above to buff yours out.
I would love to hear about your favorite smoothies! Share with me on instagram @mountainrebalance or leave in the comments below.
Janel Ferrin Anderson FNLP, NC, DNM
Janel loves helping people understand their physiology better and supporting them to use food and lifestyle to function their best. Learn more about Janel here and more about the groups she leads here. Janel is a board certified Nutritionist and certified functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner out of Tahoe.
Talking about fueling for endurance sports is about so much more than what to eat or drink during an activity. Well, that is if you care about health as well as performance anyway.
Although I am not a specific sports nutritionist or sports coach, I am an endurance athlete and a functional nutritionist that has worked with hundreds of athletes around optimizing how their unique body functions, including optimizing digestion, immune function, hormone health, energy challenges, sleep issues, mental health issues, injuries that won’t heal, and more. When we work from a grassroots level, focusing on the individual, it is amazing how people become more resilient and endurance ability improves as their body starts to function optimally.
Looking at Endurance through a functional lens helps us to see that above any protocol or plan, we bring our unique selves to the training formula and as it turns out that is the most important consideration.
It is crazy how varied the claims are about training and fueling and it’s no wonder so many people are left confused.
One side claiming keto is the most efficient. another side saying it’s dangerous and claiming we need fast carbs continuously. Intermittent fasting and fasted runs are either the best or the worst approach. Sports gels and gues are one man’s ticket to victory and another persons ticket to diarrhea. One woman claims high intensity interval workouts are most important while her best friend swears by long and slow workouts.
What if I told you they are all correct?
The truth is you need to find what’s right for you and your unique biology along with your unique goals. As Andrea Nakayama says, “nutrition is not just a handout”.
The key finding what is right for you is considering a systems biology perspective. When you do this you will be less likely to miss any key areas that might be keeping you back from performing your best AND you will support the proper body systems to ensure endurance activities don’t lead to long term health problems at the same time.
My sports fuel theory has always been ‘drink enough, eat enough, and refill after’. This seemingly over simplistic approach only makes sense after we look at Endurance functionally. (See my favorite trail foods below too though)
The basis of functional nutrition is considering what makes each person unique, considering all the body systems and how they interact, seeing each of our symptoms as something our body is trying to tell us, understanding that everything we do impacts how we function (including our mindset), looking for the root cause of symptoms instead of covering them up, and using food and lifestyle to optimize how a person functions now and in the future.
A big part of this is learning to track your unique body and learning to tune in and listen to what it is saying before it has to speak too loudly. See my favorite ways to do this below.
Signs you might have some work to do optimizing how you function-
Not having perfect poops every single day? Having any digestive problems? Or having problems sleeping? Any issues with your immune system? Experiencing energy ups and/or downs? Anxiety? Brain fog? Fatigue? Injuries not healing? Lacking strength? Not recovering well? These are all signs that need your attention if you want to perform your best or if you want to feel your best in 10, 20, 30+ years from now.
Have a listen/watch!
Listen to the discussion I had with my guru and teacher extraordinaire (I will be honest, she is my cerebral girl crush), Andrea Nakayama, about this topic. You can download the filled out matrix here as well to help you think into this systems based and empowering approach to endurance. It can be your trail map to using functional nutrition for health.
In my discussion with Andrea we talk about physiology and research around all the following functional topics and how they relate to Endurance
Mediators– what positively or negatively impacts endurance ability?
Digestion/Absorption (how endurance sports impact our gut and how our gut impacts our performance). We might have to do another entire talk on this one as it is so important.
The microbiome (so much great research around how our microbiome can specifically support our endurance efforts and vice versa. A healthy microbiome = health).
Immune function (long intense exercise impacts our immune function so how do we support our body so we stay resilient and strong. Plus, what is the difference between acute and chronic inflammation)
Energy production, how mitochondria function, fuel sources, and the aerobic vs anaerobic pathways
We dig into hormones and neurotransmitters including our stress hormone cortisol, thyroid hormones (so important for energy production and often overlooked and misunderstood), and sex hormones (because our monthly cycle is our 6th vital sign ladies!).
The value of high intensity training, strength training, mobility, and aerobic base training (which is the best? learn why we do them and you decide. I say include them all).
We run out of time but touch on mindfulness, community and staying positive (this is such a huge part of endurance so we may need to do another talk just about mental endurance and the power of our mind)
We talk about fueling and hydration tips also
Here is the completed functional matrix for Endurance Athletics- Loads of fun here to think about
Some of my favorite functional ways to track your unique body, to “look under the hood” so to speak, include-
Continuous blood glucose monitor or finger prick blood sugar monitor
An Organic Acids Test to look into fat/carb metabolism, nutrient levels, oxidative stress, mitochondria function, exposure to toxins and mold, gut dysbiosis, and neurotransmitters
A full functional thyroid lab to look in to the HPT axis
A saliva cortisol test to get a better look at you HPA axis
A gut zoomer to look into digestion, absorption, gut inflammation, the integrity of the gut wall, the diversity of microbes, or if there are any gut infections
Ketone meter to see if you are using fatty acids for energy
Nutrient panels to see if you are burning through any nutrients or needing to boost certain ones
Functional blood serum labs to get an overall picture of how your body systems are functioning
A urine hormone panel to look at sex hormones, sleep hormones, neurotransmitters, metabolites
Heart rate variability via a watch or Oura ring (my favorite way)
Basal body temperature to track your thyroid and ovulation/progesteron
Heart rate chest strap to measure your heart rate at different intensities
Genetics, when indicated
And footnote- don’t be surprised if your doctor isn’t interested in this testing as to them you seem to be in perfect health. The thing is, perfect health is not the only other option than diseased/medicated. The truth is there is a huge spectrum in the middle and we are talking about optimizing that. Find someone who will help you.
There is a lot we can learn from just tracking our body with a pen and paper (or fancy app) too
You can make a matrix all about you to track changes over time or get an idea of what are might need more attention and balancing
You can make a timeline for yourself to help you connect the dots and track various efforts and training.
You can track your monthly cycle and symptoms associated with it by tracking your basal body temp, cervical fluid, menstruation, symptoms
A few of my favorite foods to fuel long endurance adventures include
Boiled potatoes and salt (always)
White rice and bacon squares (this is what I am eating in this picture and as you can see it brings me a lot of joy on the trail:) Ymmm)
Salted nuts and raisins
Avocados and bean burritos
Homemade cookies, bars, gummies (you can download a few of my favorite recipes below)
Dried dates and mango sticks
Honey sticks and other bee products like royal jelly and propolis
Puréed sweet potatoes and applesauce
Olives and soft stick beef jerky (seriously)
Packaged foods and hydration that I like- Scratch Labs electrolytes, LMNT electrolytes, Trail Butter, Spring gels, Rx bars, Snickers, Honey Stinger gluten free waffles, Amy’s gluten free bean burrito (this one warms up great in the pack all day;)), Kion Aminos
Pre endurance adventure foods– about 2 hours before I head out I love to eat sourdough toast with almond butter and bananas or a bowl of hot millet cereal with maple syrup and walnuts. 30 minutes before heading out I drink a scoop of amino acids in water (I try to do it again every 90 minutes or so).
Post endurance adventure foods- I always eat some carbs and protein within 30 minutes of finishing up on the trail. That often includes a mango and protein smoothie or my superfood recovery smoothie.
The Adrenal Thyroid Revolution- Book by Aviva Romm
Above all else, Functional Nutrition teaches us to be curious about our body and what is going on before it has to talk too loudly. Enjoy the trail and as Thick Nhat Hahn says “Kiss the earth with every step”
Janel Ferrin Anderson DNM FNLP NC
Janel is obsessed with helping people understand their unique body and figure out how their food and lifestyle choices impact their health. Janel helps people explore the root cause of signs and symptoms and how to tune into what their body is saying. Janel is a board certified nutritionist, a certified functional nutrition practitioner, has her doctorate in natural medicine, and is a certified family herbalist. She is a passionate mountain athlete, food junkie, and science nerd. Janel works one on one with clients and teaches many groups. Learn more about Janel here
Badass For The Long haul (currently being reorganized)
Get all the information you need to prepare and use ‘Food as Medicine’ and enjoy your kitchen in magnificent and health promoting new ways. This is for anyone looking to find joy in their kitchen as they cook for health and dig deeper into nutrients, frameworks, superfoods, and “food as medicine”.
This is a one stop shop loaded with support to empower you to use food, drinks, and herbs for health and enjoyment. It goes from simple daily salads and roasted veggies to week long anti-inflammatory meal plans, to healing elixirs, videos and recipes on making fermented sauerkraut, broths, sprouts, and so much more.
The Healing Foods Club is simple to use and will meet you where you are. It includes –
RECIPE BOOKS INCLUDING ONES FOR SPECIFIC HEALTH GOALS
PRINTABLE TOOLS TO HELP MAKE USING FOOD AS MEDICINE EASY
NUTRIENT AND INGREDIENT INFORMATION
VIDEOS ON HOW TO MAKE SOME OF THE MOST HEALING FOODS
Get dozens of beautiful recipe books loaded with clean recipes and information around specific themes and health issues
Themes include clean recipes and nutrients to support healing after surgery, to support cardio health, a paleo plan, immune health, hormone balance, pescatarian recipes, 7 day anti-inflammatory elimination menu and recipes, snacks, breakfasts, seasonal guides, gut healing gaps recipes, mocktails, sauces, seasonal elixirs (my favorite), athletic fuel, low sugar anti-candida and keto treat recipes, and more.
Get a file of easy to print-out guides to support ease and health in your kitchen. This is one of my favorite things about the healing foods club.
These tangible tools include Building a Plate, Rainbow Foods Checklist, Packing Kids Lunches, a Smoothie Guide, a meal plan organizer, Nutrient Dense Foods to Focus On, an Eating For Health Grocery List, tricks for making things easier in the kitchen, and more
Loads of valuable information about using food as medicine and being empowered around ingredients and nutrients.
Get access to information on nutrients such as Zinc, B vitamins, learn about healthy fats, alternative sweeteners, where troublesome ingredients might be hiding, gluten facts, how much protein you might need for your unique body, foods for anxiety, foods high in essential nutrients, my favorite superfoods and how to use them (another favorite), guidelines on specific therapeutic diets, helping empower your kids to make healthy choices, favorite herbs, and more
Short Instructional Videos and Demos
These short and simple videos demonstrate tips and techniques while walking you through how to prepare the most important healing foods around
I am adding to these regularly!! Try one a month with me. Videos include how to grow sprouts, make nut milks, juice in a blender, brew herbal teas, make bone broth, veggie broths, sourdough, fire cider, yogurt, microbiome supports, elderberry syrup, how to roast veggies, and more
Support in organizing and preparing your kitchen and cooking tools
Learn what my favorite kitchen supplies are for using food as medicine. Organize your kitchen with me!! Pictures, descriptions, etc
This is all done on your own time at your own pace and you can come back to this for years. With more being added over the year you will always have more to try. Plus, it is all in one easy place to find!
Optional Facebook Group coming soon to stay connected with others in this community and share ideas, successes, recipes, techniques, and look for inspiration and support.
And hundreds more including breakfasts ideas, lunches, dinners, snacks, healing foods, seasonal elixirs, and how to plan for the week.
Janel Ferrin Anderson NC FNLP DNM
Janel is obsessed with helping people understand how food and lifestyle impact the physiology of their body. Janel is a science nerd with a passion for good food, leaning into the seasons, and playing hard in the wild. Join her in using Food as Medicine, for the body and the soul. Janel is a board certified nutritionist, a certified functional nutrition practitioner, she has her doctorate in natural medicine and is a certified family herbalist and ayurvedic yoga therapist.