Well Body

It Really Is A Gut Feeling

The feelings you experience are related to the health of your gut.  As our understanding of the microbiome evolves, new understanding of the gut-brain link is unfolding.  

The link between the gut and the brain, known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis., is a two way communication system.  Researchers are asking:  do the bacteria in our gut affect our psychology and behavior? 

The trillion single-cell organisms that reside in the intestines creating the microbiome influences our health in a variety of ways.  Recent discoveries reveal that the microbiome is involved in the synthesis of vitamins B and K; the production of short-chain fatty acids; inflammatory and autoimmune conditions as well as obesity.

Those minuscule creatures that lie in different parts of your gut, most of them sitting at the mucus layer just on top of your gut surface.   That allows them to be just microns away from receptors and sensors with which your gut records the chatter that goes on between them and measures what does on inside.  So the microbes know what state of mind you are in, and at the same time, our brain knows the signs that microbes send up to us.  The chatter between the brain in the gut is cross-talk with a huge impact on our immune system, hormones, mood and behavior.

 Most of us have experienced the relationship between stress, anxiety and a soft bowel movement…the brain impacting the gut.  However, studies, also, show a relationship between gut dysregulation impacting anxiety and depression.  Other studies have shown that  gluten-induced gut inflammation can show up in images of brain inflammation. Lastly, the majority of serotonin (a neurotransmitter related to emotional well-being) is produced in the digestive system.

Bottom line:  the cross-talk chatter between the brain and the gut depends on the health of the digestive system.  Improving the quality of your emotional life and cognitive function requires attention to the health of your gut.

Sugar Undermines Sobriety

Sweet foods, and even just the taste of sweetness, contributes to relapse from substance abuse.  Dietary interventions play an important role in recovery from a decade of epidemic opioid abuse.

Long before I became a nutrition professional I worked in a residential drug recovery program.  Everyone in recovery drank lots of coffee with lots of sugar and smoked a log of cigarettes.  Thirty years ago, we had no idea how these behaviors undermined the recovery of our clients.

Today, multiple research studies demonstrate that sugar stimulates two brain factors that are also stimulated with drug use.  D-1, dopamine (the reward factor) and Mu-1 the opioid receptor in the brain are similarly stimulated by both sugar and addictive drugs.  At the same time, acetylcholine (the satiety response) is reduced, sometimes to elimination.

In addition, research studies have shown that the withdrawal symptoms from sugar  has the same physical response, teeth chattering, anxiety and imbalance, as withdrawal from addictive drugs.

This overlap between mechanisms mediating drug reward and palatable food reward have significant implications for maintaining painfully achieved sobriety.  In short, activating the reward mechanisms in the brain with sweet foods can result in addictive drug cravings.

A diet low in sugar and sugar-like tastes and high in nutrients often depleted during addiction ranks high among the factors that support sobriety. Among the self-care skills required for recovery is learning how the recovery client can nourish themselves for long-term success.

In this epidemic of opioid abuse, the nutrition professional has become an essential member of the recovery team.  To view research citations, visit the blog at www.wellbelly.net/blog  



Supporting Research:









Gut Health Reduces Risk for Heart Disease

Your Gut Health Impacts Your Risk for Heart Disease

Researchers have linked the health of the gut microbiome to the risk for obesity and diabetes. Now, we have substantial evidence that the microbiome can impact the risk for atherosclerosis (narrowing of the arteries).

How does the gut microbiome influence disease?  Humans actually have 2 genomes:  human genes and the collective genes (the gut microbiome); trillions of microbes that coexist within each human gut.  In fact there are 100 times more genes in the microbiome than there are human genes in the body.  

These microbiota genes generate proteins, including hormones, neurotransmitters and molecules of inflammation that can enter the circulation and affect human health. This activity of the microbiota creates not only a second genome, it is also like an additional endocrine organ.

A recently JAMA published article gives considerable evidence to how the human gut microbiome may affect the development of atherosclerosis by influencing risk factors for heart disease and by directly effecting the initiation and progress of atherosclerotic plaques.

 Conclusion:  Improving the health of your gut microbiome can modify your risk for three major causes of death:  diabetes, obesity and hearth disease.

For more than a dozen years, Dr. Sandy Muran has helped her clients measurably reduce their risk for disease.  Contact her for more information at drsandy@wellbelly.net.

Coffee Jitters?


Jittery hands, rapid heart rate, difficulty sleeping….you have a sensitivity to caffeine.  Thanks in part to your genetics, you are caffeine sensitive…your body breaks down caffeine more slowly which makes it stay in your system longer. 

Here are ten ways to wake up without coffee and be kind to your body:

Turn on some tunes that make you happy

Stretch your body to increase blood flow

Break the fast with a morning meal that includes protein

Drink a tall glass of water to rehydrate from hours without a drink

Get moving with a short stretching routine

Replace the coffee ritual with another hot drink such as hot water with lemon or herbal tea.

A cold water splash on your face rattles your alert button

Expose yourself to sunlight

Smell your way to alert with essential oils such as peppermint and eucalyptus

Meditate with a few moments of deep breathing to oxygenate your brain

Good Morning!!!   Great Day!!!

Run for Your Neurons

Another?  new study on the benefits of exercise? Yes!  A new study with mice finds that physical activity not only increases the quantity of new neurons in the brain, but are qualitatively different than other neurons.

We know that the brain is a dynamic, active organ in which new neurons and neural connections are created throughout life, especially in the areas of the brain related to memory and thinking.

In this study, the neurons created by cardiovascular activity looked unique.  They ware larger, displayed more and longer dendrites after only one week of exercise than brain cells from inactive mice.

Although this study was conducted with mice and not people, it’s a good bet that any physical activity that raises your heart rate for 20 minutes benefits the brain just as cardiovascular activity does for all the other organs.

Remember next time the sofa looks more appealing than putting on your running shoes think about all of those new, high-quality neurons that are going to interact on your behalf to prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Fire in the Brain

Fire in the Brain

A friend is moving cattle through a wild fire damaged area in the Sierras to  the protection of green pastures.  She describes the earth as a surreal canvas of black and white staying alert to the hidden danger of smoldering fire just beneath the surface.

Of the three primary threats to brain health, inflammation smolders beneath the surface while the brain protects the neurons with the amyloid plaques of Alzheimers Disease (AD). Inflammation is the natural immune system response to invaders; however, chronic exposure to invaders results in an immune response in overdrive – smoldering fire in the brain.

Once believed to be impenetrable, the blood/brain barrier is now known to be comprised by infectious invaders such as viruses, oral bacterias, spirochetes of lyme disease, fungi such as candida albican and black mold as well as proteins modified by binding with glucose to form AGEs, advanced glycation end-products.

Smoldering Fires

Just beneath the surface of everyday life are the the smoldering fires of brain inflammation grow into the flames of AD.

Elevated blood glucose leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.  In addition, excess glucose silently attaches to many different proteins, like remoras to a shark creating AGE’s (Advanced glycation end-products).  These AGEs cause free radicals to form.  Free radicals are unstable molecules which damage anything they bump into such as DNA, cell membranes and blood vessels thus reducing nutritional support to the brain and causing leakiness of the barrier between blood and brain.

Compromised gut health weakens our immune system defense against to the impact of exposure to viral and bacterial invaders.  Digestive incompetence; SIBO (small intestine bacteria overgrowth and Candidasis (overgrowth of fungi in the large intestine and colon) disrupt the fueling of the body with nutrients and damages the immune system.

Poor oral hygiene allows damaging bacterias in the mouth to dominate the oral micro-biome and permits the migration of these bacterias across the blood/brain barrier.

Fire Prevention

Preventing chronic inflammation prevents fire in the brain.  The following three habits cools systemic inflammation:

Balanced diet of clean, whole foods dominated by vegetables, healthy fats and proteins reduces blood glucose preventing insulin resistance and diabetes. Ketonic and paleo are examples of brain healthy dietary choices.

Gut health supported by adequate digestive enzymes and gastric acid; maintaining a balanced micro-biome builds the critical foundation of a resilient immune system.

Regular oral hygiene takes on a new importance as it discourages the growth of damaging bacteria.

Need a “Smokey the Bear” to make your way though the fire zone to green pastures of brain health?   Functional medicine physicians, nutritionists and holistic dentists know where to look for the smoldering fire beneath the surface and how to stamp out the Alzheimers flames in the brain.

Your Brain is Plastic

In 1998 Peter Eriksson revolutionized the scientific world when he discovered that the brain retains the potential for self renewal throughout life.  His discovery has become known as brain plasticity leading the way to our understanding of the dynamic possibilities of brain function.

Aging is inevitable but what nags baby boomers is when does “normal” aging become signs of impending Alzheimers?

Are misplaced keys, difficulty recalling a name or opening the refrigerator and forgetting why signs of aging or a developing cognitive problem?  Oh, gosh, knowing can be scary, do we really want to know?

The answer is “YES, Yes, Yes” we want to know because the emerging and exciting research tells us that we can prevent and recover from early cognitive decline.

Research and clinical experience of brain plasticity confirms that the brain health can be assessed, root causes of  problems identified and personalized treatment can be developed to reverse cognitive decline.

Better yet, with this new understanding of the root causes we can prevent decline before it occurs.

Baby-boomers are on the crest of an epidemic of Alzheimers disease (AD).  In 2012 AD was the third leading cause of death for those over 50.  By 2050, 160,000,00 will be diagnosed with AD.  Women will be particularly impacted:  women will represent 65% of those with AD  and women will be 60% of the caregivers to AD patients.

Step One – Know Yourself:

Early detection is the key.  Several quick tests are available at www.alzheimersreadingroom.com, and www.alzu.com to distinguish  a normal progression of an aging brain from a brain that can benefit from intervention.

Step Two – Know How

In this edition and up-coming months of the WellBelly newsletter and on the WellBelly Facebook page, we will learn about the root causes of cognitive decline and details on how to prevent and reverse existing problems.

Join me on this journey to experience your best potential no matter your age.


 Don’t be shy, take peek before you flush.
Just looking at your stool can tell a lot about your health.  In 1997, Dr. Heaton from the University of Bristol in England developed the Bristol Stool Chart to better understand diseases of the bowel.  Little did he know that he had developed a visual aid to evaluate the health of the whole body.
Go ahead, take a peek, if your stool does not look like type 3 or 4 you have digestive issues that can damage the health of your body in so many ways.  Discover how to restore the health of your gut with the Four WellBelly Steps.

Defeat Enemy Number One

Defeat Enemy Number One 

Everyday new research expands our knowledge of how essential  a balanced and diverse microbiome is to the health of your entire body.  We are learning how to cultivate a healthy gut, but now it’s time to turn our attention to the obstacles that can interfere with our best efforts.  Candida albicans (C. albicans) is a common yeast infection known as Candidiasis.  This critter is an aggressive survivor taking advantage of all opportunities to flourish with a sophisticated power to resist taming. Minimizing the impact of Candida albicans plays a central role in recovering your GI health. Read More:

Night Cap

I’m all about a good night’s sleep.  If you missed this on Facebook, I want to share a recipe with you for an anti-inflammatory night cap beverage that prepares your body for a restful night’s sleep.  ZZZZzzzz

Night CapNight Cap Recipe

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