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Do You Have the Right Tools to Save Yourself?

Do You Have the Right Tools to Save Yourself?

Hello there. It's Dr. Amy. And thank you so much for coming to another episode of save yourself. I'm Dr. Amy Shah. I'm a double board certified md and nutritionist, and I'm always thinking of ways that we can save ourselves. And this is the podcast where I go through all the different ways we can do that.
So, first of all, before we start, today's topic is going to be the toolbox. The gut, hormone, brain connection toolbox. So this is a collection of little things that you can do in your life that are going to optimize your gut brain hormone connection. 
So here we go. Our wellness toolbox. This is the toolbox that you're going to use to fix your gut brain hormone connection. So what's a toolbox? So imagine an actual physical toolbox where you have all these things in there, and then you take what you need, right? You take what you need.
Maybe you take a lot of the tools. Sometimes you only need a couple of tools to get going. You don't really need a full toolbox all the time. Some people will do all of it. And so that's what a toolbox analogy is meant for. This is your toolbox. If you know my work or you know me, you know that I'm a big believer in this gut brain connection. And it's connected to our hormones, it's connected to our immune system.
It basically dictates how we feel, how we act, our motivation, our drive, and, of course, our risk of disease and how we look and feel on a daily basis. So that's pretty big stuff. Your gut is where you digest food, but it's also where you make a lot of decisions. And the gut is always telling the brain what to do. And so when we improve that gut hormone brain connection, pretty much everything gets better, especially if you're someone in midlife who's like, I'm tired. I need to do something to improve my health. This episode will really help you. It's kind of the actionable tools, the things that you can do today to help yourself.
So number one, first and foremost, is fiber. Fiber should be at a level of 25 to 35 minimum grams a day. So why is fiber so important? Because it's literally the food for the gut bacteria. So if you're trying to improve your gut brain connection, you have to start with fiber. Fiber is in fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds. This is something that you don't necessarily need to supplement. But if you want to supplement, you can supplement with psyllium husk or an inulin fiber, it's clear. And you can add it to drinks.
Inulin actually has been shown to change the way you perceive food. So inulin definitely has an effect on the brain. So eating more fiber is the number one thing you should be doing. Number two is eating more probiotics. So more probiotic food. So you might think probiotics. Oh, I'll just take a pill. No, I prefer, optimally, that you get a lot of probiotics in your daily life.
And something like a raw apple cider vinegar with the mother is something that acts like a probiotic. Yogurt, especially check the yogurt. There's certain yogurts, like the ones with the M Ms on top and lots of sugar that don't actually have live bacteria in it. So you actually have to read it and see if there's live bacteria in America. You actually have to list on the package if there's live bacteria in the product, it makes it easy to see what foods are probiotic, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso. So some of the things I like to do is take a spoon of sauerkraut randomly, either before lunch or dinner or to have probiotic cottage cheese, or to have a yogurt as a snack or have some miso soup or include it in your day. Kimchi is something you can add to salads. You can add apple cider vinegar to water.
And that's a great way also to increase the level of probiotics in your life. So fiber, probiotics. Third one is magnesium. Magnesium has gotten kind of like a glow up. We call it glow up because everyone's talking about magnesium these days. It's really great for perimenopause, it's great for muscle soreness, it's great for brain health, anxiety, for sleep issues. Sleep issues seem to be the biggest reason that a lot of people like the magnesium. It's very relaxing.
It can take your stress hormones down. I like the glycinate version. There's also the 308 version. Both of those are good for brain health. The glycinate version is better for sleep and perimenopause. The 308 version is better for anxiety and brain health concerns. So those having adequate magnesium in your diet, through black beans, through leafy greens, through seeds and nuts, and then adding a supplement when you need it, is a great way thing to have in your toolbox as well. Another thing to have in your toolbox is sunlight.
Now, it doesn't have to be bright and sunny. It can be just daylight. Getting adequate light into your eyes is a way to optimize your brain gut hormone connection. If you get light into your eyes in the morning, it resets your clocks and it really refines what time it is to your brain and your body. And then it also tells your hormones, okay, it's time to fire. It also tells your GI tract, okay, it's time to turn on. Basically, when you get natural light, you're able to recalibrate all these clocks all around your body, and especially that master clock in your brain, and you will feel better. When your brain and body clocks are misaligned, you will feel perpetually jet lagged.
So people who are always in the dark, people who don't get enough sunlight in the daytime or get a lot of bright blue light at night, they all feel kind of jet lagged all the time, and that can affect your mood, productivity, et cetera, et cetera, along with a host of health concerns with disrupted circadian rhythm. So having sunlight or a sun lamp in your toolbox is very important. So you can get a sunlamp from Amazon. You want to get 20,000 lux of light, and you want to keep it between twelve and 15 inches from your face for 20 minutes. If you're using a sunlamp, especially for those of you who live in places where really cannot see the sun, ideally, you want to get natural light even if it's not sunny. Okay? So that's the next thing in your toolbox. The next thing in your toolbox is finding an exercise that you love is one of the biggest tools to improving your brain gut hormone connection. So movement, any kind of movement, whether it be dancing, swimming, high intensity workouts, it doesn't have to look the same for everyone.

But having some kind of movement in your life is an ideal way to improve that brain gut hormone connection. Another thing in your toolbox is protein. You want to get adequate protein. If you're someone who wants to optimize that brain gut hormone connection. Now, there's lots of debate on what should you be in a high protein diet? Should you be on a low protein diet? Should you be on. But that's not what I'm debating here. What I'm telling you is adequate protein for you. So that might look different than somebody else, but you don't want to be very low on protein.

Very low protein diets often lead to overeating. They lead to, especially in middle age, to accelerated muscle loss. People that have sarcopenia, so too little muscle on their bodies end up having more fractures. And this is not something that you want to do, especially as you get older. Also, there's a protein leverage hypothesis. This says that your body will keep wanting to eat until it gets a certain amount of protein. There's like a threshold. And so when you're eating a lot of snacks and you're not getting enough protein, your body keeps staying hungry and keeps craving more and more.

And so having adequate protein tells the gut bacteria to send signals to the brain that, hey, we got enough protein, time to stop the craving. So there is a lot of reasons to eat protein. Protein is something that the gut bacteria like. Of course, the protein is something that helps build muscle. So especially as we get older and we lose some of those hormones that are keeping our muscle mass active, we want to eat more protein and do more resistance training with that protein so we can be building muscle. Another thing in your toolbox is spices. You want to be having spices every single day. I think that's really an underrated way to improve your gut health and to improve your gut brain connection.

We know that things like turmeric and ginger and black pepper and nutmeg, these things affect your brain, and they can really optimize that gut brain connection. They act as prebiotics. So prebiotics are food again for the gut bacteria, and they act as antioxidants. Antioxidants are like, they catch all the free radicals in your body that are floating around and they help you antiage, basically. So you want to have a lot of spices in your life. Special spices like saffron are so amazing for your brain. But even simple spices like black pepper, garlic, turmeric, all of these are essential for good health. So you really want to be having more of those.

One thing that you don't want to have in your toolbox, and if you're trying to really improve your health, one of the things you might want to cut out as the tool in that kit is cutting out ultra processed foods as much as possible from your diet. That's something that will really improve your gut health, your hormone health, your brain health. Ultraprocessed food, again, is the food that could never be recreated in your kitchen or any kitchen. It's a non culinary food item. So think Doritos, think oreos, things that you just couldn't make even if you had all the ingredients, okay? So cutting those processed foods out and then cutting out liquid sugar, such as sodas, juices, et cetera, that's a way to really improve your gut hormone connection. And then reducing the amount of alcohol that you're using is another thing that you can put in that toolbox is like, hey, take a break from alcohol. That's part of your toolbox, okay? These are things that can improve your gut brain connection in ways that you probably didn't even know. So if you're someone who is saying, all right, I want to improve how I look, I want to improve how I feel, I want to improve my risk for disease, I want to improve how I age, I want to improve how I move through menopause, I want to optimize my body.

You want to start using some of these things in this toolkit, maybe by himself or in combination. There's so many other things like I didn't even mention, but supplements can be part of your toolkit. So the magnesium supplement, an omega three supplement, a vitamin D supplement, a vitamin K supplement can all be really great things. Things like vitamin C. It's best taken in food. So kiwi fruit is a great source of vitamin C. It has been shown to actually improve mood. Just kiwi fruit.

New study shows that. And so having fruits and vegetables and real foods in your toolbox is a great way to kind of improve your health. And remember, 30 different plant foods a week has been shown in studies to improve your health, to improve your gut bacterial diversity. And that includes seeds and nuts and spices. So having 30 plant foods in your toolbox can be really helpful as well. So these are some of the tools that you can use to improve your gut brain hormone connection. So the other tools that I didn't talk about are the non nutritional tools but they're still super important. The exercise, the mindset, work, meditation, sleep, sunlight.

I did mention sunlight but these are all things that you should have in your toolbox that can help you improve your gut brain hormone connection. And maybe the most important thing out of everything arguably is relationships. So improving your relationships around you, if someone is a vacuum and not a battery, probably want to spend less time if not zero time with them, the battery, the energizers, you want to spend more time with them intentionally and that's going to improve. That's going to be probably the biggest thing that's going to improve your gut hormone brain connection. So that's it. There's so many other things but this is a truncated toolbox toolkit for you with the most advanced tools that we know of to improve that brain gut hormone connection. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you for listening.

Stay tuned for another episode of save yourself.