Kick Your Constipation To The Curb Naturally!

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At some point in your life, you have or will suffer from constipation. It is energy depleting and can be painful, uncomfortable and embarrassing. Constipation is a condition of the digestive system that refers to infrequent bowel movements. For some, constipation may refer to hard feces that are extremely difficult to pass. For others, it may refer to the need to strain to have a bowel movement or a sense of incomplete evacuation.

Regardless of the case, constipation STINKS...(no pun intended!)

I've dealt with constipation on and off my entire life. I've been there and I feel your pain. I know what it's like to have doctors tell you "it's all in your head" and recommend laxatives. Then, you become dependent on Miralax, Milk of Magnesia, and Dulcolax, and if you miss one day of your dose, you are doomed! Your friends and family tell you to "eat more fruits and veggies" and to up your fiber intake, when in reality, that's all you eat! You are sick and tired of temporary band-aids that do way more harm than good for your body. You are not alone, my friends, and there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your situation.

Here are some of my top 10 steps to take to get things moving properly through your gut:

1. Drink more water! Did you know that up to 75% of Americans are dehydrated? The problem is so much more prevalent than most of us realize. Water is needed to help the food pass through our small and large intestine, along with the colon and rectum, as it can take up to 24 hours for food to pass from the mouth to the anus. In the intestine alone, one gallon of fluids is absorbed daily to help with digestion. In the colon alone, 5 to 10 pounds of fecal matter can be stored because of dehydration caused by lack of water.  Keep drinking AT LEAST 8 glasses of water a day with lemon and throw in some high-quality sea salt.

2.  Consume more healthy oils, such as flax oil, avocado oil, or cold-pressed coconut oil (great for the adrenals). I challenge you to eat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil right off the spoon and it can lube your system like a well-tuned motor. You will feel lighter, more energetic, and less bloated. My favorite brand of coconut oil is Nutiva.

3. Increase your fiber intake! Changing your diet to incorporate 50-75% fresh fruits and veggies will change your daily elimination habits, as they add amazing sources of fiber to your diet. When planning your meals, plan your veggies and fruits first, and then add the carbs and protein. Experiment with a new veggie or fruit frequently. Look for local farmers’ markets to buy fresh and local produce. If you already eat tons of fruit and veggies, experiment with adding more flax meal to salads and smoothies!

  • Apples, bananas, strawberries, and oranges have around 4 grams of fiber. Don't forget to eat the apple peel...that's where most of the fiber is.
  • Dark color vegetables. The darker the color of the veggie, the higher the fiber content. Medium sized artichokes contain a whopping 10 grams of fiber.
  • Collard greens and swiss chard have 4 grams of fiber per cup.
  • Half a cup of spinach contains 7 grams of fiber.
  • Broccoli has 5.1 grams of fiber per cup when boiled.
  • Raspberries contain 8 grams of fiber per cup.
  • Mangos have 5 grams of fiber. 
  • Persimmons have 6 grams of fiber.
  • Add chia seeds and ground flaxseeds to smoothies, puddings, oatmeal, groats, baked goods, soups, and salads. One tablespoon of chia seeds have 5.5 grams of fiber. Two tablespoons of flaxseeds contains 3.8 grams of fiber & omega-3 fatty acids.

4. Experiment with these amazing natural digestive aids. 

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5. Drink a green juice with extra lemon, ginger and turmeric to increase bile flow and support your liver which helps in elimination. A great constipation juice remedy is combining 3 stalks of fresh rhubarb (only the stalks, not the leaves!), 1 apple, 1 quarter or peeled lemon, and 1 teaspoon of raw honey into a blender or juicer. The rhubarb stalks contain large amounts of insoluble fiber - the kind we need to keep things flowing!

6. Consume more cultured foods, such as sauerkraut or fermented drinks. Natural fermentation of foods not only preserves nutrients in food and breaks the food down to a more digestible form, but it introduces beneficial bacteria in your digestive system which improves bowel health and aids in digestion. The best part about fermented foods is that you can make them at home very inexpensively. I'll be posting my favorite sauerkraut recipe shortly!

7. If you can pinpoint where you are constipated, place a warm water bottle on your stomach and do circular massages, clockwise.

8. Yoga - Yoga helps revitalize the body, releases stress, lowers blood pressure, increases balance and energy, and improves mood. It increases the flow of blood and oxygen in the system and since most of the postures involve pelvic movement, a yoga practice can improve your digestive system! Instead of turning to a quick-fix laxative that usually comes with painful side effects, try these two yoga positions for constipation and experience relief.

  • Child's Pose - This pose relieves constipation pain by pushing on the lower abdomen with the knees. Start by sitting with your knees bent resting on top of your feet. Move from the top of your hips forward, keeping your back straight, and eventually bringing your torso forward so that your shoulders and arms lie outstretched in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds and let the weight of your knees pushing into your lower abdomen provide relief.
  • Wind Relieving Pose - Start by lying down on your mat. Make sure your spine and tailbone are rooted comfortably into the ground. Bend the right knee and bring it up towards your right shoulder. Make sure to avoid your ribs and chest. Place your hands on top of one another on top of the bent shin and pull your shin towards your right shoulder. Repeat on the other side to relieve the bloating and painful gas associated with constipation.

9. Magnesium - Magnesium, also known as the relaxation mineral, relaxes the muscles in the intestines which helps to establish a smoother rhythm. It attracts water to help soften those hard stools and makes them easier to pass. Experiment with Natural Calm, a powder that helps restore healthy magnesium levels and balances your calcium intake. Can be bought at many natural foods stores, however best prices are on Amazon or Vitacost

10. Try out my REFRESH 11 Cleanse/Elimination Dietwhere you eat healing natural foods that are easy-to-digest for 11 days. I will guide you day by day and step by step as discover how to find the foods that work for your body and which may be inflaming you. By removing gluten, dairy, soy, processed foods, or added sugars, you will be able to give your gut a break and restore your digestive system. During the last four days, you will slowly re-introduce a "trouble" food (such as grains) and it will become very noticeable if your digestive symptoms reappear. 

Happy Heart Health Month from Namaste Holistic Health!

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Happy February!
I hope that you’ve kicked the New Year off with a bang and set intentions for 2015 to be a year full of dreams fulfilled and health and happiness achieved. How about those resolutions or new healthy habits? Are you ditching the soda and drinking more water? Cutting back on processed foods? Making self-care a priority?

Although January has ended, it gives us no reason to throw our New Year’s Resolutions out the window. February brings us Valentine’s Day and perhaps my favorite holiday, Heart Health Month. This is a time to focus on this amazing organ that sustains us and provides life-giving oxygen and nutrients to all parts of our body. So my question for you is...

What have YOU done for your heart lately?

Regardless of your relationship status, I encourage you to see this holiday of romance through a different lens. Why not make a date with your health and your heart this year? Since every day should be a celebration of love and not just this sanctioned holiday, I encourage you to focus on being your own loving Valentine! There isn’t a more beautiful expression of love than prioritizing your health and learning what being heart-healthy means for yourself and your family. And r
emember, we can be so much more present for others when we take care of ourselves first.

Here are some of my favorite strategies to kick-start your way towards a heart-healthy lifestyle this month:

1. HEART HEALTHY FOODS
There are certain foods that protect our hearts because they contain omega-3’s and other healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, fiber and phytonutrients that help keep our heart tissues healthy and happy. The following are a list of heart-healthy foods I encourage you to incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Fruits – Oranges, strawberries, peaches, plums, nectarines, pomegranates, avocados, blueberries
  • Avocados – The folate in avocados lowers risk of heart disease and stroke and is rich in oleic acid, a fat that helps lower your bad “LDL” blood cholesterol and raise your good “HDL” cholesterol
  • Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, bok choy, daikon, brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, cauliflower, turnips, arugala, radish, kale
  • Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, swiss chard, romaine
  • Garlic, Onions, and Leeks – The sulfur-containing compounds in these vegetables help to relax and enlarge blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow
  • Raw Cacao  –  Unlike processed chocolate, the antioxidants that protect our cells and limit inflammation are preserved in raw cacao. Raw cacao is full of flavonoids that reduce blood clotting and has been studied to increase flexibility of blood vessels. It's your lucky day, chocolate lovers! If you can't find raw chocolate, look for dark chocolate that has 75-85% cacao and stay away from any dark chocolates with ingredients you can't pronounce!
  • Beans and Lentils – Studies show that people who ate beans and lentils at least four times a week had a 22% lower risk of heart disease than people who ate them less than once per week. I encourage you to soak your nuts for 12-24 hours for proper digestion!
  • Slow-cooked Oatmeal – This fiber-rich superfood is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and potassium. It's also known to lower levels of bad “LDL” cholesterol and help keep arteries clear. Please opt for slow-cooked steel-cut over instant oatmeal!
  • Raw Nuts – Raw nuts such as walnuts, almonds, and macadamia nuts are known to boost the good mono and polyunsaturated fats. I encourage you to soak your nuts for 12-24 hours for proper digestion!
  • Fish – Memorize this acronym, SMASH, when looking for fish rich in omega 3’s:  Sardines, Mackerel,Anchovies, Salmon, and Herring. Always look for wild, not farmed! 
  • Ground Flaxseed – An amazing plant source of omega-3's that are full of fiber, lower cholesterol, contain lignans which reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer, and taste great in smoothies, oatmeal, and salads

2. MOVE YOUR BODY
Moving your body is an important part of your heart-healthy routine. Moving your body can mean something as simple as walking your dog around your neighborhood, kayaking, bike riding, trying out a pilates or cardio class at a local studio (I highly recommend Pilates X), or going to a Tai Chi class. Always find opportunities for fitness by parking further away, taking the stairs, or doing yard work. Yes, even the gardening and house cleaning you do counts as exercise! As long as you are active, you can control your weight, boost circulation, lower your blood pressure, and improve your cholesterol levels. Aim for 30 minutes of physical activity a day!

3. REDUCE YOUR SALT INTAKE
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and by reducing your salt intake, you can help lower blood pressure. Experiment with herbs in place of salt such as basil (delicious in salads, soups, pastas), thyme(great with roasted veggies & chicken), mint (sprinkle on salads, grains, or infuse into your water), or dill (great on salmon, in soup, on roasted carrots and turnips). Always make sure you read food labels to see how much salt is in prepared foods. When in doubt, ask for sauce and salad dressings on the side when you eat out because restaurants tend to over-do the salt.

4. PRACTICE YOGA
Research shows that yoga can reduce blood pressure, improve arterial elasticity, regulate heart rhythm, and increase the heart's efficiency. Regardless of your age, size, strength, flexibility, or beliefs, yoga is for everyone. Intimidated by yoga studios? Try a beginner class with me at Marina Vista Park or sign up for a 15-day free trial at www.yogaglo.com and have access to thousands of amazing classes in the comfort of your own home!

5. REDUCE STRESS & BREATHE
Stress raises blood pressure, heart rate, and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Something as simple as breathing deeply for five short minutes upon waking and before sleep can make profound changes in your life.With your eyes closed, practice inhaling deeply into the belly and exhaling slowly. If that doesn't work, try this one-minute breath meditation. Breathe in for 5 seconds. Hold your breath for 5 seconds. Release for 5 seconds. Hold for 5 seconds. Practice this breath pattern for one minute a day and see how you feel after a few days!        

6. CATCH UP ON YOUR SLEEP 
Did you know those if you sleep fewer than seven hours a night, you are putting your heart at risk? The less sleep you get, the higher your blood pressure is, along with the levels of cortisol, making your arteries more vulnerable to plaque build-up. Try to avoid caffeine after noon and find a stress-free ritual that allows you to wind down before you head to sleep. Hey, why don't you practice the one-minute breath meditation before you climb into bed!

ARE YOU CURIOUS ABOUT HOW HOLISTIC NUTRITION AND HEALTH COACHING CAN HELP YOU UPGRADE YOUR HEALTH NATURALLY?
Would you like to learn how to incorporate heart-healthier foods into your busy lifestyle? Or how about how to plan heart-healthy meals and snacks for the entire family to enjoy? If you are struggling with a health condition, digestive issues, pain and inflammation, or just want to improve your sense of well-being, holistic nutrition and health coaching could be the right solution for you. Schedule an initial complimentary consultation with me today by clicking here, or pass this offer on to someone you care about! 

NAMASTE HOLISTIC HEALTH NEWS AND UPDATES

  • KIDS YOGA - I will be teaching a kids yoga class (ages 3-7) in a local Long Beach park starting in mid-March on Sunday afternoons. In this 45-minute class, we'll incorporate asana (yoga poses) and pranayama (breath work) into highly imaginative play. Each class will help build strength, increase flexibility, improve concentration, and will be tons of fun! Advance registration is recommended, as class is limited to 10 students only. If you are interested, please email me at koko@namasteholistichealth.com! Classes are $5.00/child.
  • BEGINNERS YOGA - I will be teaching an adult beginners yoga class in a local Long Beach park starting mid-March on Sunday afternoons. We'll focus on connecting gentle movement with breath in a flow-style class. This 50-minute session will bring relaxation, energy, and joy. Advance registration is recommended, as class is limited to 10 students only. If you are interested, please email me at koko@namasteholistichealth.com! Classes are $7.00/adult.

In honor of Heart Health Month, I am offering the following promotions:

  • $25 OFF my 11-Day Guided Cleanse, www.namasteholistichealth.com/whole-foods-cleanse/.Use the coupon code: HEART11
  • $40 OFF my 28-Day Clean Eating Program,  www.namasteholistichealth.com/reboot-28/. Use the coupon code: HEART28
  • $50 OFF my 3-month Coaching Program, www.namasteholistichealth.com/coaching/. Use the coupon code: HEARTCOACHING

In Love & Health,

Koko Collado <3

Koko's Spirulina & Oatmeal Energy Muffins

Spirulina is a dark blue-green algae that contains the highest form of protein found anywhere in the world. It has 60-70% complete protein, meaning it has all eight essential amino acids and 10 non-essential ones that support optimal health and vitality. This amazing superfood is highly digestible, protects the immune system, fights the aging process, curbs appetite, promotes weight loss, supports cardiovascular health, makes the body produce more red and white blood cells which kills germs and viruses, and reduces allergic reactions. I suggest adding a tablespoon to a smoothie, a fresh juice, or add to a drink at night. Just one ounce contains 16 grams of protein!

My favorite brand is Hawaiian Pacifica and can be found on Vitacost.com by clicking here!

Attention Beginner Spirulina Users: I highly recommend blending it into your smoothies or baking with it in the recipe below initially. Let's just say, the smell can scare some people away. Trust me, it tastes MUCH better than it smells! Enjoy! 

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 25-30 minutes| Makes: 16 muffins | Difficulty: Easy 

Ingredients 

• 2 cups Organic Steel Cut Oats 

• 1 tablespoon Spirulina Powder 

• 1 tablespoon Maca Powder 

• 2 cups Non-Dairy Milk of Choice

• 1 cup Light Coconut Milk 

• 1 cup Organic Blueberries (Fresh or frozen) 

• 1 Ripe Banana 

• 1 Scoop of Plant-Based Protein Powder of your choice (I recommend Sunwarrior Warrior Blend Vanilla or Nutiva Hemp)

• 1 tablespoon of Coconut Palm Sugar 

• ¼ cup of Unsweetened Coconut 

• 1 tablespoon of Raw Hemp Seeds 

•1 tablespoon of Ground Flax Meal

• 1 tablespoon of Ginger (fresh or ground) 

• 1 tablespoon of Cinnamon 

 

Directions 

• Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. 

• Spoon into muffin tin sprayed with coconut oil. 

• Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes (moist) or 25-30 (well-done). 

• Serve it with organic maple syrup, raw honey, coconut nectar (my favorite!) or natural sweetener of choice! 

 Enjoy!