2016 May

May 27, 2016

Gut health leads to overall health. Really take this statement in!

Do you often feel tired and bloated? Do you struggle with digestive problems or autoimmune issues? Have you tried to lose weight with different diets and workout routines to no avail? It’s time to start looking elsewhere. It’s time to start looking at your gut.

Hippocrates said it over 2,000 years ago, and it’s just as true today: “All disease begins in the gut.”

Let’s discuss how you can take action starting today and get that belly flatter so you can get your mind right to help reset your gut and avoid those cravings.  We always tell clients, if you can just make it 2 or 3 days of avoiding the food traps and your go-to comfort foods that keep you from reaching your goals, then it only gets easier.  Maybe if you know the science of why you should, at least go three days–you will be more motivated to hang in there and prepare ahead of time what you are going to eat and drink.

Let’s get a bit scientific: The cell cycle or cell-division cycle is the series of events that take place in a cell leading to its division and duplication of its DNA (DNA replication) to produce two daughter cells. In bacteria, which lack a cell nucleus, the cell cycle is divided into the B, C, and D periods. The B period extends from the end of cell division to the beginning of DNA replication. DNA replication occurs during the C period. The D period refers to the stage between the end of DNA replication and the splitting of the bacterial cell into two daughter cells.[2] In cells with a nucleus, as in eukaryotes, the cell cycle is also divided into three periods: interphase, the mitotic (M) phase, and cytokinesis. During interphase, the cell grows, accumulating nutrients needed for mitosis, preparing it for cell division and duplicating its DNA. During the mitotic phase, the cell splits itself into two distinct daughter cells. During the final stage, cytokinesis, the new cell is completely divided. To ensure the proper division of the cell, there are control mechanisms known as cell cycle checkpoints.

Gut flora, or gut bacteria and yeast, is the trillions of microbes (100 trillion, in fact) in your intestines that help digest food, synthesize vitamins, regulate metabolism, and make up your immune system. In a nutshell, if your intestinal flora is unhealthy, so are you – and there’s no way around it.


What Can Affect Gut Flora?

There are several things that can harm a healthy digestive gut flora like chronic stress, diets low in fermented fibers, diets high in processed foods, too much dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and sugars, chronic infections, dietary toxins like industrial seed oils and wheat, and medicines like birth control, antibiotics, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).

In particular, antibiotics are especially harmful. After only one round of antibiotics it takes one year for your gut flora to restore to healthy normal levels. Probably the most disturbing thing is that gut flora doesn’t automatically regenerate after you damage it. You have to actively work to restore it.

Some of the vitamins that these bacteria help synthesize are K, B7, and B12. A deficiency in any of these vitamins can lead to hair loss, skin problems, diabetes, obesity, internal bleeding, cancers, anemia, strokes, degenerative disorders, and other disorders of the autoimmune, gastrointestinal, and respiratory systems.

When your gut bacteria is off, you can develop rheumatoid arthritis, depression, autism spectrum disorder, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Okay, so what in layman terms does the above science mean? During the phase where the DNA is replicating is basically this:  if you have been eating like crap, stressing out, been exposed to chemicals like paint or other environmental toxins, etc.. then your body will copy those cells and this is why you start feeling terrible.

The cells in your gut as well as your mucous membrane turnover in 3 days. The mucous membrane is the thick protective lining and functions to stop pathogens and dirt from entering the body & prevent bodily tissues from becoming dehydrated. Mucous membranes are rather delicate; they are able to absorb a number of substances and toxins, but are vulnerable regarding pain. If the lining is torn or broken, mucus is incapable of performing its roles of preventing infection and retaining tissue moisture levels. Leaky gut is a real issue (google it! I personally struggle with this and think it may be because my mother smoked the whole time she was carrying me. You know, the whole “blame it on your mother thing.” 🙂

Enough science…..I’m ready now, tell me how to reset my gut!

Individuals that keep good gut flora and avoid the fruits and veggies that are in the top 12 dirty dozen laden with chemical fertilizers and pesticides seem to have better gut and immune health (see list below on dirty dozen).  Nearly three-fourths of the 6,953 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2014 contained pesticide residues – a surprising finding in the face of soaring consumer demand for food without synthetic chemicals. Also, they didn’t kill off all the good bacteria with antibiotics and antibacterial hand wash & had relatively low stress.

Eating fruits and veggies from the clean 15 list supports optimal gut health (see list below on clean 15).

The environmental working group encourages going organic when it comes to items on their Dirty Dozen List, they do clearly state that conventional produce is certainly better than none at all: “The health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure.”

Prepare for your renew your gut plan

  1. Remove fiber from your diet. Fiber should be removed because when you have an overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast, that fiber will go to feed it. Just like fiber feeds good bacteria when you have it, it will feed the bad bacteria, too. Your goal is to encourage the good bacteria, not to help the bad bacteria to flourish. Starve those bad bacteria!
  2. Add in probiotics slowly, through both probiotic supplements and fermented foods. Click here for probiotics IUltraFlora_Balance_60C_LUL067T2_150cc_rt_0refer clients to from Metagenics. Fermented foods will help reintroduce good bacteria and yeast to your system (examples: raw milk yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi). If you are dairy-free check out the brand SoDelicious Coconut yogurt plain/no sugar added. There are hundreds of varieties of kimchi made from napa cabbage, radish, scallion, or cucumber as a main ingredient. Japan, China and Korea make pickled preparations of cabbage, turnip, eggplant, cucumber, onion, squash and carrot. No Japanese meal is complete without a portion of pickled vegetable. American tradition includes many types of relishes–corn relish, cucumber relish, watermelon rind–all of which were no doubt originally lacto-fermented products.
  3. Introduce those things that will help heal your gut lining.

Try this 3 day GAN Plan (gut anew-meal plan):
No need to count calories but don’t stuff yourself either as that doesn’t allow the gut to rest and recover.

Below is a suggested plan with meat choices below as well as eating only from the clean 15.  If you want even better results try the Metagenics 10 Day detox.  Click here to see the meal plan and details in pdf format. To cut cost you could just order the AdvaClear supplement and the Ultraclear Renew Plus detox powder if you have your own shaker cup since I’m including the plan on the link above.  You will also need to take this “How Toxic Are You?” quiz before and after the cleanse. FYI…I usually order 2 Ultraclear Renew Plus myself as I do little mini-cleanses in between cleanses or do a scoop when I feel worn out or have slipped up on my diet and need to flush out the toxins or sugar. I don’t mind spending money on my health knowing that Metagenics has clinically proven and pure products.

Fish: Alaskan, wild-caught salmon, Herring, Mackerel, Trout
Meat/Poultry: Chicken, Cornish, Lamb(leg, chop, lean roast), Turkey, Wild game,buffalo, elk, venison
Avoid nuts so your gut can rest and avoid the sharp, not well chewed pieces.

Breakfast choices: pick one (If you just pick the fresh juice you will have to snack earlier because this a lower calorie option with no protein.)

protein shake (my favorite Metagenics UltraMeal Cardio 360– a pea and rice Medical Food powder blend) or choose a vegan protein powder of your choice from a reputable source.
Fresh juice 6 oz. (organic carrots, celery, kale, cabbage, pinch of salt)
2 organic eggs in dairy free or real butter pan cooked
2 organic boiled eggs & 1/2 avocado

Snack choices: pick one

Fresh juice 6 oz
2 organic boiled eggs
2 tablespoons of almond or cashew nut butter (I get mine from Kevela.net)

Lunch choices: pick 3 veggies from the clean list or choices below & one protein

steamed broccoli 1/2 cup with either Braggs Amino Acids, dairy free butter or healthy oil (olive, avocado, coconut)
steamed or raw cabbage 1/2 cup
10 stalks steamed or baked asparagus with olive oil and salt
1/2 cup sweet peas

6 oz Fish-steamed or broiled (mahi mahi, salmon, shrimp, grouper) or other meat

Snack choices:  pick one
protein shake (vegan mixed with water or unsweetened almond milk)
1/2 grapefruit
1 kiwi
1/2 avocado

Dinner choices: pick 3 clean list veggies or choices below & 1 meat

1/2 cup eggplant steamed or pan cooked with dairy free butter or avocado or safflower oil (top with Bragg’s Amino Acid)
1 cup raw (food processed cauliflower with lime juice, salt, rice wine vinegar, cilantro optional)10 steamed stalks of asparagus
1/2 avocado

Clean 15 Fruits & Veggies

  1. Avocados
  2. Corn (This may be clean but I avoid for other reasons:  is your body really deficient in corn as it lacks good nutrients in my professional opinion.)
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honey dew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery (get organic)
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach (get organic)
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Bell Peppers
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Article by: Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM, Owner/Dir. of Training at Energy Fitness – Downtown Memphis since 2002

Not a client? Live in town and interested in our personal training or nutrition coaching? Click here for a FREE Consult (value $87) or give us a call at 901-466-6242

Check out our customized online training ($40-$80) here:  Online Customized Training

Interested in our Massage or Body Wraps? Click here.

Energy Fitness, 552 South Main Street, Memphis, TN 38103

May 18, 2016

Is your back tight? Do you sit a lot and have not so great posture? Did you just sit up straight? Let me introduce you to a muscle that can help your hips regain the ability to properly move in their full range. The psoas (pronounced “SO-az”) is a large and powerful muscle that is responsible for stabilizing the base of your spine. It actually connects up with another muscle called the iliacus and together they are called the iliopsoas (“Ill-ee-oh-SO-az'”). It can affect lots of people anywhere from office workers who sit a lot to active individuals especially runners, cyclists and rowers.

A tight or strained psoas can lead to lower back pain and can limit your free range of motion. Worse, a tightened psoas can put pressure on the lumbar vertebrae, leaving you susceptible to injury.

Look at the muscle anatomy picture below. As you can see, this muscle covers some real estate:  Attaching superiorly at the spine (to the transverse processes and lateral surface of thoracic vertebra 12 to the last lumbar vertebra and corresponding discs) and traversing down and forward through the pelvis to attach to the inside of the upper leg (lesser trochanter).  Understanding and visualizing the position of this muscle should help you appreciate the relationship of the psoas to the function of the trunk/spine, pelvis, and extremities.

psoas anatomy pic

Here are some other places that the psoas can refer to: (referral pain can be felt at a site other than where the cause is situated)

  • groin
  • upper thigh
  • contributes to scoliosis
  • abdomen
  • genitals
  • stiffness in hips or groin in morning when you get up
  • rotates legs outward
  • can’t stand up straight
  • stooped posture
  • leaning to one side



It is involved in everything!  As soon as I began to respect the stress and excessive loads that I was placing on my psoas (there are two, one on each side), my groin strain went away and so did my back and SI pain. SI is sacroiliac and refers to the SI joint. I injured this when I had laxity in my joints post-miscarriage between having my two boys as my body still had some the hormone relaxin. Because of my previous SI joint injury, as well as an old hamstring injury from college cross country, I have to be ever diligent on self care to keep active and injury free.

Releasing the psoas muscle is a relatively simple procedure that requires just a few minutes of your time and the use of a small ball. The psoas is actually located under your intestines.  To work it, you may need to come in at an angle. Look at the picture below and see where I have the ball located.  To really get in there you may have to bring the opposite knee out to the side of your body as to put more weight on the ball. Bring the knee up towards your ear until you feel the right amount of pressure.

psoas release with larger ball psoas release with tennis ball

  • Place a small soft ball on the floor. The ball should be slightly larger and softer than a tennis ball.
  • Lower yourself onto the small soft ball, about one to two inches outside of your belly button, near the area that hurts. You will feel a slight discomfort as you lower yourself, this is your psoas responding to the pressure. Hold for 20-60 seconds. Once you feel the discomfort fade then roll inside or 2″ up or move ball over laterally as to get other parts of the muscle. If I get lazy and don’t do for a while then it’s a bit more than slight discomfort, in fact it’s darn right breath-takingly painful. This short lived pain is worth the long term pain relief from setting my psoas free. 🙂 If you get in the habit of doing this in the beginning every other day the pain will lesson and you can then say do only on Sundays, or for runners before and after an intense running session.
  • Come up on your elbows and arch your back. This action will cause a more forceful stretch and, in turn, will cause your psoas to release.
  • Visit your physical therapist if the discomfort persists. This is the most effective way to loosen your psoas.
  • You can avoid a strained psoas by regularly engaging in stretching exercises which promote flexibility and mobility.
  • Try the stretch below on the left that I call “Frog Pose” for the adductors (inner thigh muscles). Kneel with your toes pointing out to the sides; rest your elbows or hands on the floor. Exhale, spread your knees, and lower your chest to the floor as you extend your arms parallel and forward. Note: this stretch is one of the most intense for the adductors. If you’re extremely flexible, you will be able to lower into a straddle split with your knees flexed. I have yet to see normal people do this, including myself! Breathe and hold these stretches anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Yes, I said 3 minutes… ouch!!
  • Another stretch below you may want to try that also helps to release and keep that psoas from staying locked up is the hip flexor stretch (the bottom right 2 pictures).  Be sure to tuck your butt/hips under and keep your posture straight. For a more intense stretch as if it doesn’t hurt enough raise the arm to the ceiling of the leg that is back.

Frog pose toes out294

Not a client? Live in town and interested in our personal training or nutrition coaching? Click here for a FREE Consult (value $87) or give us a call at 901-466-6242

Check out our customized online training ($40-$80) here:  Online Customized Training

Interested in our Massage or Body Wraps? Click here.

Energy Fitness, 552 South Main, Memphis, TN
Tonya Tittle, M.S., ACSM
Owner/Dir. of Training