by Sarah Lawrence | Dec 3, 2020 | Digestion, Hormones & Neurotransmitters, Mind, Spirit, Emotions
Why your body poops easier when you’re at home
Poop. Every body does it. From Kindergarten, we dive into books like Everybody Poops. We are told that it is normal, natural and nothing to fear. Yet, as we age, poop talk becomes taboo. And the act of pooping feels taboo. We shy away from pooping at work, when we are out at restaurants or even at friends’ homes. Ever wonder why your body poops easier when you are at home? Let’s look to the latest on how gut health (and poop) relates to our circumstance and location.
You may already know that a healthy gut is linked to everything from mental health to stronger immunity. Society is comfortable with why we poop. But the when and how we poop remain fringe topics. After today, I hope we can change that.
German doctor and author Giulia Enders, wrote Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ. She gave a TED Talk in 2017 and described why she believes “bowels are quite charming.” Enders discussed a conversation she had with a roommate about bathroom habits and what she discovered about our anatomy that makes it so much easier to poop when you are in your own home.
Click to Read This Related Article: Herbs that Improve Digestion
The Tale of Your Brain and Two Sphincters
Basically, this is a tale of the brain and two sphincters! We have two sphincters that control our bowels. The one we are familiar with is the outer sphincter, which we can control. The inner one, Enders described as having more of a mind of its own. That inner sphincter opens a little bit and releases just enough gas or solid for the sensory cells near the anus to determine what happens next.
“There are sensory cells that analyze what has been delivered,” Enders explained, “and this is the moment when our brain knows, ‘Oh, I have to go to the toilet.'”
Once your brain gets the signal, it begins checking your surroundings and circumstances before deciding if now is a good time to release what is being held back by the internal sphincter. Finally, the outer sphincter and brain coordinate with the nervous cells to push poop back if you are not in a place where you feel comfortable using the toilet.
Control, Coordination and Communication
The control and coordination involved in the process is something that gave Enders a deeper respect for her body and digestive process. If we reframe the feeling of needing to poop from being something embarrassing to being a biological cue, then we may be able to tap into that same respect. By tuning into that feeling, Enders thinks of the inner sphincter as “putting a suggestion on her daily agenda.”
What would happen if we begin being more respectful of that smart sphincter’s suggestion? While we have the option of putting that suggestion on hold, we also have the option of listening to our body and responding promptly.
In her book, Enders notes that waiting to poop when you have the urge can mess with the communication between the two sphincters. Always delaying or denying yourself the ability to poop when the urge hits is what can create the disconnect. There is no harm in occasionally holding off until you can reach a convenient bathroom!
That said, I talk with clients every day about poop, digestion, and nutrition. Most people do not have any issues respecting their body’s hunger and thirst cues, sex drive, feelings of sleepiness, need to urinate or need to vomit. While some of those cues are more pleasant than others, it makes me wonder why we have made poo so taboo. After all, we teach our toddlers that Everybody Poops. Even though we now know why your body poops easier when you’re at home, it doesn’t mean that pooping away from home has to be a challenge! We need not be so wrapped up in embarrassment about something so universal, simple, and healthy!
As your Functional Nutritionist and Holistic Health Coach, I would much rather you pop into the public bathroom, work toilet or a friend’s guest bathroom and poop when you need to, than hold out and create a belly ache or constipation. Embrace your inner 2-year-old, poop when you need to! When you walk out of the bathroom, do it with a smile and the knowledge that your body is amazing and your bowels are major players in your health and well-being. If more of us normalize normal bowel habits then the days of blaming farts on the dog and feeling embarrassed about this basic, critical bodily function will be long gone. Wanna join me in a #pooprevolution?
Here’s the thing… I know it is not always practical or possible to poop when the urge hits. I also know that withholding and delaying bowel emptying can result in all kinds of distress. If you are struggling with digestive challenges, click my email at the top of the page and reach out. Depending on your exact circumstances, we can either work out a plan together or partner with a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist, like my colleague at the NH Health & Wellness Center, Falguni Vashi PT, DPT, PRPC. Do NOT let bowel and pelvic issues wreck your life. We can help.
by Sarah Lawrence | Nov 18, 2020 | Cooking, Digestion, Exercise & movement, Health, Immune & Inflammatory Balance, Mind, Spirit, Emotions, Nutrition
4 Simple Nutritionist Approved Ways to Get Started when You Feel Stuck
Do you have a desire to improve your health, but you find yourself not knowing where to start?
Does a holistic mind, body, and soul approach feel good to you? Let’s walk through some basics that may be just the thing you need!
Making small changes and shifting based on how your body responds is a simple way to get started on your health. The goal is balance, right? Having the energy to do the things you desire, while feeling really good and being productive so that you can be your best self… You deserve that!
Now, you may think that untangling health imbalance is complicated… and it can be! But, getting started is quite easy.
Here are my 4 Simple Nutritionist Approved Ways to Get Started when You Feel Stuck:
#1. Identify Areas That Need Support
The very first thing you need to is to identify the areas where you need support. Do you struggle with digestive issues or acne or PMS? Are you getting enough sleep? Do you need to lose a few pounds? Or maybe you need time management strategies to help balance time for work, home, social life and self-care?
#2. Track The Basics
Jot down how you sleep, how you feel, your energy level, when you poop (and the quality of your poop).
Why journal? Easy – taking a mental note doesn’t let you review and assess. Actually jotting down the basics lets you actually SEE what’s going on rather than guessing. It may seem overwhelming to journal like that… and if it does, I want you to ask yourself what’s more overwhelming: jotting down a couple things during the day or continuing to feel off your game and not knowing what to do about it?
The beauty of this step and this “ask” is that it’s all about your individual path to wellbeing; no one else’s. You
#3. Track Your Diet
Before you raise your hand and point out that this is another thing to jot in your journal, know that I get it… this is a slightly bigger ask. Thing is, this is no more difficult and really doesn’t take much time. Just jot down what you eat in addition to basics or use an app like MyFitnessPal, to track your diet each day (BONUS points if you track what you’re doing for fitness too!)
Thing is, you don’t have to track forever. This is a for now thing. This is a couple of weeks thing.
#4. Assess and Respond with One Shift
- You made a list of a few things that you think need support.
- You tracked the basics for a few weeks.
- The next thing to do is review your work and assess the situation.
It may surprise you to see that you feel snippy the day after you eat dairy or have less energy on days when you drink less water. Be on the lookout for shifts in focus and memory when you have a difficult night’s sleep and look for changes in your poop around your monthly cycle (yep, that’s a thing).
Once you have the data, one or two things will probably stick out. It may be obvious what action to take to support yourself. For example, if you bloat or breakout after eating dairy, then the logical step would be to ease off the dairy.
If nothing sticks out, go back to your list of things that you know need some work. My suggestion is to experiment for a few weeks and see what happens if you avoid gluten, dairy, caffeine and processed sugar. Those four things are known troublemakers that can disrupt hormones, sleep, digestion/absorption and blood sugar. So many health issues are rooted in those four factors.
Why This Process Works
This process is similar to the model I use as a Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner. The ART of Functional Practice includes Assessment, Recommendation and Tracking. Basically, we can’t know what steps to take until we have a clear picture of what’s happening. It’s why I don’t recommend particular supplements or targeted strategies to people in the produce aisle and the same reason neurosurgeons don’t diagnose people at the dinner table. Trusted practitioners take the time to use the tools and training that we know will get results and ensure your safety.
Tapping into the Functional process provides you with a framework not only for action, but for success! Take the four simple steps outlined above and get started. You’ll see that it’s easy to step out of overwhelm when you break it down and start slow. Track your basics and use that information to improve your quality of life as you continue your journey to overall wellbeing.
Start your journey from stuck to health savvy.
- Download your free journal page by clicking here (no strings attached – it’s instant access!)
- Print as many copies as you need AND commit to use them for at least 2 weeks.
- Post below and let me know if you like the worksheets and if this strategy is helpful.
Making a ton of changes all at once can actually cloud the picture! Try the 4 simple ways I outlined above and get started when you feel stuck… your mission is to start small, keep it simple and keep it up!
by Sarah Lawrence | Sep 25, 2020 | Digestion, Health, Hormones & Neurotransmitters, Immune & Inflammatory Balance, Mind, Spirit, Emotions, Nutrition
In a world where more people are turning to prescription and supplement sleep aids, a whole food solution for sleep and health may not be the first choice. However, as a Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner, whole foods and natural options are my go-to. If a good night’s sleep is a challenge for you, join me. I will share my secret bedtime drink for people who need better sleep.
Turmeric is one of the most researched plants on the planet. Over 8000 scientific studies explore and confirm turmeric’s medicinal properties. Everything from depression and diabetes, to inflammation and blood pressure regulation; even liver detoxification and immune system support!
This is an ingredient that you definitely want to have on hand.
First, the good news: turmeric is affordable and available. Second, it has a neutral taste. Third, it is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Hint: it’s the star of our bedtime elixir recipe!
Traditionally, turmeric is used in teas, curries, broths and herbal supplements. Those are great ways to get turmeric into play. But, as a healthy foodie, you are probably familiar with adding turmeric to a meal.
Here’s my truth:
I’ve had a relationship with turmeric for years. It’s been in my soups and stews. I toss in with my potatoes and pasta sauces. It even gets added into my morning smoothies! As a student of Ayurveda, I learned that daily use of turmeric could have a profoundly positive impact on my health. So, we’ve been in a hot little relationship ever since!
Turmeric tea sipped throughout the day is a go-to if I’m feeling bloated or at all inflamed. I simply slice a piece of turmeric root and a piece of ginger. Then, I grate them and add to a pot with water. Finally, simmer, steep and sip.
Incorporating turmeric into my nighttime routine has been magical. You deserve something magical, too!
Turmeric And Coconut Milk Bedtime Elixir
Turmeric-infused coconut milk is delicious and warming. Try this before bed to improve digestion. It can calm the nervous system and help prepare you for restful sleep. Best results will be seen over time. The ingredients work to nourish and replenish your body.
- 4 cups coconut milk
- 2 tsp powdered turmeric or 2 tbsp peeled, fresh turmeric
- 2 tsp powdered ginger or 2 tbsp peeled, fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 tbsp maple syrup, raw honey OR a squirt of liquid stevia
- 12 peppercorns, gently crushed
- First, combine everything except the coconut oil into a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
- Next, let the mixture bubble gently for about 5 minutes, then shut off the heat.
- After about 5 minutes of cooling, strain the mixture through cheesecloth (or a fine strainer if you prefer a smoother texture).
- Finally, taste and add maple syrup, honey or stevia if desired!
The Amazing Benefits and WHY You Should Consider This Turmeric Coconut Bedtime Elixir:
- Coconut Milk And Coconut Oil – The fiber and fat content of coconut are what help coax sound sleep. Fiber and fat support balanced blood sugar.
- Ginger – Natural anti-inflammatory that can help relieve symptoms of arthritis, bursitis and other musculoskeletal issues. Particularly calming for the digestive tract. For sleep, it’s the melatonin present in ginger that seals the deal!
- Nutmeg – Acts as a natural relaxant in small doses.
- Black Pepper – piperine in pepper enhances the absorption of curcumin. It contains nutrients, including manganese, iron and vitamin K. Also, commonly used to calm digestive issues.
Bonus Tip –
Some golden milk recipes include cinnamon. As a Functional Nutritionist, I encourage you to skip cinnamon at bedtime. Why? Because cinnamon is more of a stimulant. Traditional aromatherapy uses cassia and cinnamon oil to promote alertness. While the scent is warm and comforting, the spice helps stimulate digestive fire. So, save cinnamon for the morning cup!
by Sarah Lawrence | Mar 23, 2020 | Health, Immune & Inflammatory Balance, Mind, Spirit, Emotions
Think a bath is too simple to ease stress? Think again!
Does a daily bath seem like a leisure-time indulgence? Did you know that something as simple as an Epsom salt bath can actively help relieve stress? It’s true! This simple self-care technique not only feels great but also supports your health. So, let’s talk stress and solutions! Let’s talk self-care… I’ve seen the way people roll their eyes when talk shifts to self-care, and I bet you have too. In some ways, self-care feels like a four-letter word because it’s gotten this rap as being something self-ish and self-centered (as if those are always bad things?!)
As a Certified Functional Nutrition & Lifestyle Practitioner, Certified Holistic Health Coach, Aromatherapist, Reiki Master and Laughter Yoga Teacher, I talk to people everyday who are trying to figure out how to relieve stress and live healthier. And one common denominator in most of my clients lives is STRESS!
Of all the burdens on the body, it’s stress that tends to make people feel unwell and stress that perpetuates the cycle of neglected nourishment and neglected self-care. The stigma around self-care is that we’re somehow selfish or self-centered or self-absorbed rather than being giving, nurturing and caring for others in our world. So, we side-step the basics needed for our own well-being under the guise of being strong and selflessly caring for others. How backwards it is that our perception of self-care can make us feel as though we don’t deserve the same care and compassion that the world expects us to provide for others!
I’m going to invite you to stop sabotaging self-care, to re-member yourself, to restore your commitment to your own health and well-being, to nourish and tend to your spirit, your body, your self.
One of my favorite self-care strategies is to soak in a deliciously steamy tub. I love adding Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) and baking soda to create a relaxing, silky soft soak.
Your skin will absorb some of the magnesium from the Epsom salt, which can help relax your muscles; the baking soda may help neutralize bacteria and fungus while calming skin irritation and lifting oil and debris.
Together, the Epsom salt and baking soda create a delightful tub. Aromatherapy can amplify relaxation. Adding a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda before stirring it into the water can enhance your experience. Roman Chamomile and Lavender are my favorite essential oils for relaxation. A drop of Eucalyptus or Frankincense may be added to ease congestion and support the immune system.
SIMPLE DETOXIFYING EPSOM SALT BATH
2 cups Epsom salts
2 cups Baking Soda
Optional: 5 drops pure essential oil (add these to the baking soda before adding to the bath)
Add the ingredients to a bathtub filled with warm water (not too hot!). Soak for 20 minutes.
To take it to the next level, dim the lights, set a candle on the counter and turn on your favorite piano music.
Take your time.
It’s a strategy for health. It’s nourishing.
Recharge your batteries. You absolutely deserve it!
P.S. Click here to get more FREE goodies to help you reclaim your health… right now! Some of my best tools will be delivered to your inbox within hours!
P.P.S. You might also be interested in this post…
by Sarah Lawrence | Mar 17, 2019 | Health, Hormones & Neurotransmitters, Immune & Inflammatory Balance, Mind, Spirit, Emotions
I’ve been wanting to start this section of the blog for a long time. I’ll be using the Beyond Food columns to share information about things you can do to nourish yourself and improve your health that are not food. Let’s explore the many things that can nourish us… starting with a smile!
Back in 2012, researchers at the University of Kansas found that smiling has a positive effect on our happiness and physical health. In the study, they measured how participants responded to stress while making a fake smile, creating a real/natural smile and then while having a neutral face. The results showed that smiling during a taxing task—not just after—can help the body and mind recover more quickly from the stressful event. Previous studies have shown similar benefits that last after stressful events have passed.
Bottom line. Smiling is good for you.
Let’s look at some of the reasons WHY…
When you smile, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are responsible for making us feel happy, and they also help lower stress levels. The movements of the muscles in your face are interpreted by your brain, which in turn releases endorphins.
Faking a smile (or a laugh) works as well as the real thing—the brain doesn’t differentiate between real or fake as it interprets the positioning of the facial muscles in the same way. This is known as the facial feedback hypothesis. The more we smile and laugh, the more often we feel happier and relaxed.
- endorphins act as the body’s natural pain killers. Laughing and smiling can be very effective in chronic pain management. It also helps with short term pain issues.
- endorphins decrease cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that becomes more active when we feel stressed. It contributes to unpleasant feelings and anxiety but also impacts heart rate and blood pressure. By lowering cortisol and keeping it balanced, we can reduce negative feelings and feel better!
Smile more often:
- Smile and laugh regularly. Your brain does not know the difference between a fake or real smile, and by doing so more often you will feel better, and become more likely to smile and laugh more spontaneously.
- Try to smile when you are in the midst of something challenging. Personally, I think about something that makes me genuinely happy and I lift the corners of my mouth, soften my eyes and smile into the thought… but the research shows you can just make a smile and go from there.
- Spend time with people who smile. Just like laughter, smiles are contagious… it is hard to keep a straight face when people around you are smiling.
by Sarah Lawrence | Mar 16, 2019 | Cooking, Health, Hormones & Neurotransmitters, Immune & Inflammatory Balance, Mind, Spirit, Emotions, Nutrition
Blueberries contain high levels of flavonoids.
Flavonoids are super supportive of brain function.
In one study, participants with the most flavonoids in their diets had better cognitive function over a ten-year period than those with the least. Another study linked daily blueberry consumption to improvements in memory and increased blood flow to the brain. Proanthocyanidins (a category of flavonoid), protect the watery and fatty parts of the brain against damage from some environmental toxins. Impressive.
Plus, these little gems taste great, are rich in fiber and antioxidants and support overall health too!
Start incorporating more blueberries into your daily diet. Check out my recipe below for a beautiful blueberry sorbet that can help!
This sorbet is so lovely.
4-5 cups frozen blueberries
juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (optional)
torn mint leaves
Add all ingredients except mint to your food processor and pulse until desired consistency. Top with mint. Scoop and serve OR pour into a freezer-safe container to serve later.