Word on the Street: 5 Takeaways from the NTA Conference
In early March every year the Nutritional Therapy Association holds their annual conference in the Pacific Northwest. The NTA is where I received my certification as a Nutritional Therapist and their annual gathering never disappoints. From cutting-edge leaders in health and nutrition to top notch companies and the MOST AMAZING FOOD on the planet… seriously. There was more butter, broth and kraut in one place than any natural grocery store!
“There was more butter, broth and kraut in one place than any natural grocery store!”
It was such an enriching weekend that I felt it would be a disservice to keep it all to myself. Below are highlights of my five favorite messages from over the weekend.
1. Go Organic and Never Turn Back
Tieraona Low Dog M.D. in her talk “The Greening of Medicine: Holism and Healthcare” illuminated the staggering statistics of what is happening to our health and challenges we face in combating disease. Stress and trauma, nutrient deficiencies and exposure to toxins were the main factors she outlined.
Stress and trauma is something we can take steps heal with proper support and shifts in lifestyle. Diet is as well, to some degree, but until public policy catches up with the research and science of how our food is grown, we will be at the mercy of major chemical companies and big agriculture for our well-being. They are not particularly in the business for your well-being…just saying.
“…until public policy catches up with the research and science of how our food is grown, we will be at the mercy of major chemical companies and big agriculture for our well-being.”
Toxic exposure of chemicals in our environment from BPA, to glyphosate and other pesticides are showing significant negative impacts from gestation through adulthood. The Endocrine Society’s Second Scientific Statement recently reported that there is an increase in breast cancer diagnoses in younger and younger women.
BPA is an endocrine disruptor found in plastics, and “endocrine disrupting compounds contribute to outcomes related to impaired reproduction, neurodevelopment, thyroid function, metabolism and increased propensity for hormone-sensitive cancers.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics is reporting increases in Leukemia and Lymphoma, which has been linked to many things, but insecticides used in our homes is one of them. Organophosphate compounds like Glyphosate, found in Round Up, and Paraquat are derivatives of nerve gas and have reported links to neurological difficulties.
Glyphosate is used often on GMO plants, and residue is often found on soybeans, corn, coffee beans, oats, wheat, barley and tea. Paraquat is now being widely used, especially on soy, corn, cotton and peanuts and has been demonstrated to increase risk for Parkinson’s Disease by 200%. It may be more dangerous than glyphosate. And don’t think because you eat primarily organic that you are safe. Run off from farms is also entering the water supply and these compounds are being found in our drinking water.
So what can we do until our lawmakers realize the food industry is at the helm of this chronic disease spiral?
“… go organic, filter your water and reduce the stress in your life.”
She suggested, go organic, filter your water and reduce the stress in your life. We can’t afford not to anymore. Use the EWG’s guide to buying produce if you can’t go 100% organic https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php. And also use this wonderful resource for finding safe, local fish in your area: https://purdue.edu/hhs/nutr/fish4health.
2. It’s not the Cow, it’s the How: Source your proteins wisely.
The word on the street over the weekend was ‘regenerative agriculture.’ Now what does that mean? In simplest terms: “It’s not the cow, it’s the how.” I attended two talks that stood out, one with Diana Rogers of www.sustainabledish.com who is producing a new documentary about this very topic and Amanda Hull and Andrew Gunther from www.agreenerworld.org.
For years the meat industry has been under fire for the mistreatment of cows and poor quality meat that has been produced. Often linked to disease, the meat from CAFO’s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) have been the main focus, and rightfully so. These animals are kept in inhumane conditions and fed food, grain, that is not their biological diet, causing disease in the animal and for the humans who consume them.
Sadly, those who are raising meat in traditional and more functional ways are being overlooked for what their meat actually offers us in real nutrition and how the animals and our planet fare better for their meaningful care.
“She busts every myth of the ‘plant-based diet’ being the only sustainable choice and the positive impact regenerative farming has.”
Diana Rogers brought a fresh look at the importance of biodiversity in our land and care for well managed grass-fed beef. Understanding how nature works in systems, with grass, grazers, predators, flora and fauna, her website and upcoming movie outlines so much more about this process and the nutritional, environmental and ethical case for better meat. She busts every myth of the ‘plant-based diet’ being the only sustainable choice and the positive impact regenerative farming has.
Amanda Hull and Andrew Gunther backed up these sentiments with the work of A Greener World and their tireless efforts to create standards for animal welfare and sustainability. This organization is bringing information to the consumer to help us understand that labeling in the US is not regulated, and the misinformation that ensues.
Currently, sustainability is not defined and just because something says pasture-raised doesn’t mean there is high welfare for the animal. A Greener World has created a certification so that you know your buying from a trusted farm with ethical and regenerative practices. Check out their Food Labels Exposed Guide and look for their labels in grocery stores and online as you buy meat from regenerative farmers.
3. Our Microbiome is everything when it comes to our health and longevity: Eat your vegetables.
This buzz word “Microbiome,” is a term that everyone should understand. We have come to understand that who we are as humans has everything to do with the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our digestive tract, our skin and even our genital tract.
We not only hold our DNA in our cells but we hold and are impacted by the DNA of all of those trillions of other bacteria, viruses and other microbes in our body. The health of our microbiome impacts not only our gut health, but also our brain and immune health.
Dr. Sarah Ballantyne explains how microbes aren’t necessarily good or bad, they each have specific functions, but that diversity is the key. And to maintain diversity, you have to consume the right kinds of foods.
“…fiber is the #1 factor for microbiome health.”
She states that fiber is the #1 factor for microbiome health. Now that doesn’t mean a whole loaf of wheat bread, quite the contrary. She outlined the variety of fibers needed, primarily from vegetables, fruits and mushrooms. Mushrooms made their own category which shows their importance to our gut health. She went on to explain that proteins and fats are also key to feeding our helpful microbes. When we feed our microbiome well, the supportive bacteria and microbes keep the more toxic and disease proliferating microbes at bay.
Dr. Dian Ginsberg was also a highlight as she echoed Dr. Ballantyne that plant diversity in our diet was the #1 important key to microbiome health. She explained, “the microbiome is causal, not a result of auto-immunity,” and that aging and leaky gut, a common auto-immune disease, were directly related and linked to the changes in hormones, particularly for women, as we age.
Free estrogen gets trapped in our body when we can’t eliminate it properly through appropriate detoxification via our digestive tract, causing the barrier of our intestinal lining to break down. Cancers, specifically breast cancer, are estrogen dominant, so the better our gut functions, the more we can eliminate the hormones and other toxins that create illness in our body.
Both of these doctors also spoke of the impact of stress on our microbiome. Chronic stress, disrupted sleep and too much or not enough exercise all had negative impacts on our microbiome, suppressing our supportive bacteria and nourishing the detrimental ones.
“Did you know that strenuous exercise for long durations actually had a negative impact on the microbiome?”
Did you know that strenuous exercise for long durations actually had a negative impact on the microbiome? What then should we do for our young athletes? Support their microbiome in every other way to maintain balance.
The bottom line: the more diversity of health-giving foods, reduction of stress, appropriate amounts of sleep and exercise will make for a healthier microbiome and a longer living you.
4. Technology is a double-edged sword: the truth about EMF’s
Technology, from electricity in your home to cell phones to the internet are all miraculous inventions that keep us warm, connected and able to do our work more efficiently. It is increasingly intelligent and vastly supportive in the world we live in.
It also has a dark side that we are learning more and more about. The earth, living things and our bodies work on direct currents (DC), like a battery, moving in one direction. We see this in the form of neuron signaling in the brain, heart and the cells in our bodies. Our mitochondria are the batteries of our cells.
Electric currents and wireless technologies, like electricity and wifi, are alternating currents (AC), pulsating up and down as well as forward. We use the term EMF or ElectroMagnetic Frequencies to describe these currents that are surrounding us in our every day life from these technologies. Unfortunately these pulsing currents are disrupting our direct currents.
Brian Hoyer NTP, of Shielded Healing, shared some surprising data and information about EMF’s and the impact it is having on our health. As a species we have become less connected to nature and the life giving force it brings. With houses built off the ground, using artificial light in our homes, wearing shoes with rubber or leather soles, traveling more in vehicles off the earth like cars with rubber tires, trains on metal tracks and airplanes above the earth, we are becoming less ‘grounded’ and connected to the healing circadian rhythms of the earth.
With the increasing introduction of man-made technologies that emit EMF’s, these types of lights and frequencies are being proven to disrupt our melatonin production and mitochondria function, lowers dopamine, prevents proper detoxification, affects fertility, increases inflammation, risks of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s/Parkinson’s and auto-immune diseases like allergies and leaky gut. The World Health Organization classifies radio frequency radiation (wireless communication) as a type 2B carcinogen, in the same category as cigarettes.
We are not going to get rid of our technology, and much of it is out of our control, coming from outside of our homes from cell towers and power lines and dirty electricity. What we can do though, is create environments where our bodies are not exposed to these frequencies and can actually detoxify and recharge naturally to counteract their effects.
“Our bodies are designed to detoxify and regenerate our gut and brain when we sleep, so creating a sanctuary that significantly reduces or eliminates EMF’s in our sleeping environment, allows our bodies to recover from the stress and heal.”
Brian explains that the best place to do that is in your bedroom. Our bodies are designed to detoxify and regenerate our gut and brain when we sleep, so creating a sanctuary that significantly reduces or eliminates EMF’s in our sleeping environment, allows our bodies to recover from the stress and heal. Mimicking our ancestral environment is the key, keeping electronics out of the bedroom, using lighting more similar to the natural circadian light patterns and shielding the room to eliminate various EMF’s and geopathic stress is what it takes to protect ourselves.
Learn more about what you can do and why this is so important at Brian’s website: www.shieldedhealing.com
5. Behavior Change is Possible
To round out the weekend, one of my fave speakers and functional medicine pioneers was Chris Kresser L.Ac. He is the co-director of the California Center for Functional Medicine, founder of the Kresser Institute, podcast host of Revolution Health Radio and author of The Paleo Cure and Unconventional Medicine.
“He shared the shocking statistic that 60% of people in the U.S. have a chronic disease and 40% have multiple chronic diseases.”
He shared the shocking statistic that 60% of people in the U.S. have a chronic disease and 40% have multiple chronic diseases. He explained that these diseases are primarily driven by behavior and environment NOT necessarily our genetics.
The five key strategies to improving our health and increasing our lifespan, by as much as 13 years were:
- Maintain appropriate body weight
- Eliminate smoking
- Drink moderately
- Eat a healthy diet specific to your ancestry
He reported that only a staggering 6% of Americans engage in these top five behaviors. Why is this when they seem so commonplace?
Information is not enough, telling people what to do doesn’t work…it all comes down to habits. Fifty percent of what we do every day is a habit. Habits increase our brain’s efficiency.
There are three steps to every habit: Cue, Routine, Reward. We are reward driven creatures and our habits are governed by dopamine. Once developed, a habit can never be extinguished, BUT, we CAN develop new and more powerful habits. By creating new cue’s for new behavior and then rewarding yourself for that behavior, you can develop the habit you desire.
There are four steps to this process.
- Identify the routine, or behavior to change (i.e. snacking between meals).
- Identify the current reward, why are you really doing that behavior (i.e. are you really hungry, are you just stressed or bored, etc.)? This may require testing different hypotheses to truly identify this reason.
- Isolate the cue. Where are you, what time is it, what emotional state are you? (i.e. I snack when I get home after work)
- Make a plan and implement. Choose a routine that actually meets the real need. Make conscious choices and even an implementation intention like “When I (cue) get home from work I will (behavior) take a hot bath to (reward) relieve stress to feel better.”
“Setting up your environments and enlisting a supportive person, whether a coach or accountability partner, can make these kinds of changes more effective and less daunting.”
Setting up your environments and enlisting a supportive person, whether a coach or accountability partner, can make these kinds of changes more effective and less daunting.
I hope some of these lessons will help you on your journey to creating healthy habits and lifelong wellness for you and your family. If you ever need support in any of these areas, please feel free to reach out to us for support or direction.
We are creating new curriculum at the end of this year that will incorporate much of this wisdom for the young adults in your life to set them up for creating healthy habits for life. Stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter to stay apprised.