In our minds, every week is wellness week, and this week we let expert, Nikki Yelton take the stage to give us the full scoop on how to get up, get out, and get WELL! Trust us, you don’t want to miss this??
Are you tired of struggling to get your health in order? Maybe you were that kid who was never sick growing up, but now you’re spending more time on the couch than out, living your best life! Nikki can fully relate to the seemingly, never-ending battle with health challenges, as her struggle with constant gastrointestinal (GI) and autoimmune symptoms left her feeling held back in her life. Her own personal health journey became her fuel to improving her health and helping other women get their life back, too. Nikki now uses advanced lab testing to help other women who are struggling with digestive disorders and autoimmune conditions to discover the root cause of their bloating and fatigue symptoms. She provides her clients with a step-by-step, personalized roadmap to heal leaky gut and reverse autoimmunity so that they too, can live an extraordinary life with more energy, joy, and purpose. Talk about SUPERWOMAN!
We were hooked when learning about this, so we asked Nikki to share some of her secrets on a healthier approach to managing our lives during these stressful times. Stay tuned, you’re in for a treat! ?
Welcome, Nikki, And Thank You For Sharing Your Tips And Tricks With Us! Tell Us, What Motivates You To Get Up In The Morning?
I think about this often and I always go back to the same thing. What motivates me the most, is knowing I have an important mission to help make sure people know they don’t have to settle with their symptoms for the rest of their life!
As a Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, I have the opportunity to share what I know, believe, and personally practice to help as many people as possible feel their absolute best, which is truly my purpose in life! Knowing there’s a chance I can help even one person is what gets me up each day.
I know what it’s like to feel held back by symptoms and NOT want to get out of bed in the morning because of fatigue, depression, and overwhelm. But I also know what it’s like to be on the other side of that! I overcame years of frustration with many health conditions that never seemed to add up. This was a blessing in a way because over the years, it’s become my passion to do the work God has called me to! I believe I can be a vessel, and advocate for others, to help them live the healthy life they dream of!
I Love That! We Could All Use Some Motivation Right Now! Sleep, Sleep, Or Lack Of Sleep… What Tips Do You Recommend To Your Clients, Who’ve Tried Everything, To Get A Good Night’s Sleep?
Sleep is SO important for your health! I would consider it to be one of the greatest “health hacks” out there. Sleep affects every process in the body. Without it, our bodies simply aren’t able to function, physically or mentally.
A good night’s sleep has shown to have the following effects on the body:
- Improves brain processing and memory formation
- Conserves energy
- Encourages healthy detoxification processes
- Heals and grows tissue
- Improves immune function
- Makes new neural connections
- Manages the gut microbiome
Adults should sleep 8 hours every night to reap these benefits, especially when it comes to the health of our gut and reversing autoimmunity. But in today’s hustle and bustle world, most of us are not even close to getting 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’ve tried the basics and still find yourself tossing and turning at night, I offer a few tips you can try for a good night’s sleep!
Keep a Consistent Sleep and Wake Cycle
To regulate sleep, it’s important to maintain consistent sleep and wake times, even over the weekend. To maintain a consistent cycle, get exposure to natural sunlight midday, or use a sunlamp to increase serotonin and melatonin levels. In addition, always limit blue light several hours before bedtime, so that you can experience good quality REM sleep.
Find Your Caffeine Cut-Off Time
We are all affected by caffeine differently, so I recommend finding your “cut-off” time. I suggest not consuming caffeine afternoon, to limit its impact on sleep. Also, pay attention to your liquid consumption before bed. It’s best to avoid liquids after 8 pm and sugars, heavy meals, and alcohol, as all of these negatively impact sleep quality and quantity.
Limit Distractions Before Bed
One of the worst things you can do for sleep health is to engage in conversations or activities that increase your brain activity. This means avoiding any kind of disagreement, confrontation, stressful conversations, or arguments before going to bed. It’s also wise to avoid the news, work emails, or financial apps.
Find the Right Sleep Aids For You
There are many vitamins, tools, and practices that naturally support healthy sleep. A few of my favorites include:
- Magnesium supplementation
- Herbal tea support
- Ingesting CBD oil
- Diffusing essential oils
- Taking an Epsom salt bath before bed
- Using a noisemaker or a sound machine
- Sleeping with a weighted blanket
- Cleaning your bedding, air, and environment often
- Working with a practitioner to find a personalized natural herbal supplement to support your stress and sleep
Create a Sleep Haven
According to the Institute for Functional Medicine, your sleep environment should be cool, dark, quiet, peaceful, comfortable, and clean. These recommendations are known to improve sleep quality and quantity when implemented consistently. You’d be surprised how much your sleep is affected when just one of these factors is off.
I’m Definitely Storing These Tips For Later, Especially The Idea Of Creating A Sleep Haven! Okay, What About Thoughts? How Important Are Your Thoughts To Living A Healthy Lifestyle?
Our thoughts are powerful, especially when it comes to living a healthy lifestyle. Creating healthy habits and being intentional with your time can feel really hard! However, sometimes your mindset is actually the biggest roadblock when it comes to progress. We often forget that the brain is also an organ, and just like the gut, the heart, or the lungs, it needs the care to be healthy. To heal, we have to look at the body as a whole, and that includes our thinking patterns.
One of the biggest mindsets I work on with my clients is recognizing that baby steps are still progress, and that struggle is a natural part of the healing process! So many of us set goals for the perfect version of ourselves and then when we don’t live up to those expectations and stick to the habit 100%, then we feel discouraged and defeated. I see this “all or nothing” mentality far too often and I’ve even been guilty of it myself in the past. But the “all-in” versus “I’m doomed” thought process is not productive, nor will it help you heal! Stress will wreak more havoc on your body than any, so-called “setback.”
It is SO important to focus on growing and progressing from your current self! Perfection is not the secret to a healthy life, but it’s consistency. I encourage all of my clients to celebrate every win, no matter how small. There’s no such thing as a win too silly to celebrate! Positive thinking and gratitude go a long way. I like to take a few minutes each day to reflect on all the things I’m grateful for and celebrate my own wins, so if you’re working to live a healthier lifestyle, I encourage you to do the same!
SO Good! I Love The Reminder That An Attitude Of Gratitude Can Make All The Difference In Our Daily Lives. What About Our Gut… Why Is Gut Health Such An Important, But Hard Topic To Talk About With Clients?
Gut health is literally everything. When the gut is off, the whole body is off. The gut microbiome is a community of living organisms consisting mainly of bacteria. There have been TONS of different species of bacteria identified in the microbiome. The thing about these bacteria is that there are the bad microbes you’re familiar with, but there are also many good microbes, which are SUPER important. To maintain a healthy gut, the goal is to strengthen an army of diverse good bacteria to fight the bad microbes and heal leaky gut as one example.
The gut is not only essential for digestive health, but it actually acts as the nucleus of the body! 80% of our immune system is located in the gut and 90% of our serotonin is in the gut tissues. It only makes sense that if something is off with our gut health, other organ systems and processes will be affected as well. The microbiome is intertwined with all 5 axes of health — immunity, metabolism, hormonal balance, cognition, and gene expression.
I specialize in gut health because I’m on a mission to help men and women reverse autoimmunity. The best way we can do that is to heal the gut the right way. Every client I’ve worked with who has an autoimmune condition also has a leaky gut which is not a coincidence. As I said before, 80% of the immune system is located in the gut therefore, once we heal the leaky gut, autoimmunity is actually REVERSED! This can sometimes be difficult to talk about with clients initially because it can seem like such an overwhelming road ahead and a daunting task; but the truth is, it’s actually very simple when you have the right system and a step-by-step process to heal the gut the right way.
Unfortunately, I see so many clients that come to me trying all sorts of things at once, but their symptoms persist. For example, they’re taking supplements such as probiotics and glutamine, drinking bone broth, and even eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet; and as great as this is (I recommend those same things as well), we cannot skip over addressing what caused the microbiome to become imbalanced in the first place. For most people, this means understanding root causes like gut infections, food sensitivities, and even reduced stomach acid or malabsorption. Leaving these issues unaddressed can lead individuals down a path to spinning their wheels for years.
This was my story over a decade ago and the reason why I got into the functional medicine space in the first place. I struggled with multiple autoimmune conditions and tried everything with no success; that is until I healed my gut and actually got my life back! This is why I decided to specialize in gut health and autoimmunity and it’s been amazing to see what happens when we heal the gut the right way! I’ve seen lives transform and so many get their life back. It is pretty incredible and inspiring!
This Is So Inspiring To Hear! You Mentioned Autoimmunity…Let’s Talk About That Some More, Is It A Real Thing?
Autoimmunity is very real. Autoimmunity affects 50 million Americans and sadly most people are completely unaware that they suffer from an autoimmune disease. To make matters worse, there are about 100 different known autoimmune diseases. Some people are at greater risk of developing autoimmunity than others, including women, African Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
Some of the most common autoimmune diseases are:
- Celiac disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Grave’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Crohn’s disease
- Type 1 diabetes
- Ulcerative colitis
Research is still needed to understand the exact cause of autoimmune conditions. What we know is that autoimmunity occurs when the body attacks healthy tissues as a way to protect us. When this happens, the body can no longer identify pathogenic or harmful proteins to the body. As a result, organs and systems are attacked by the body, mistaking them for foreign invaders. This creates a state of inflammation in the body that is unique to the individual.
Although autoimmune diagnoses are on the rise, I see many clients suffering for years, even decades, with symptoms of autoimmunity that have gone undiagnosed. The most common symptoms include general fatigue, gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, chronic headaches, joint pain, and swollen glands. Autoimmunity is so difficult to diagnose because, to have a proper diagnosis tissue destruction needs to be evident and although not everyone is at that point, many can be heading in that direction if left untreated. This is detrimental because once you finally get a diagnosis, you’re probably deep into an autoimmune condition.
In my opinion, this is unacceptable, especially when we can be addressing and preventing these diseases through diet and lifestyle changes! The most helpful treatment for autoimmunity is to reduce inflammation in the body on an individual basis and one of the most effective ways to decrease chronic inflammation in the body is through the foods we eat!
I’m Definitely Soaking Up All Of This Great Information! Speaking of Inflammation, Where Does All Of The Inflammation In The Body Come From? What Role Does Inflammation Play In The Body’s Overall Well Being?
When the body is in a state of inflammation, it’s really hard to feel your best. Inflammation is typically a common denominator in almost all health conditions and imbalances. It can affect any organ system and bring on a whole myriad of symptoms that may not seem related, but all stem back to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is your immune system’s response to any “threat.” If there are foreign invaders like bad gut bacteria for too long, your immune system uses inflammation to go on the attack. And when chronic inflammation becomes widespread, it starts to affect other organs throughout your whole body.
For this reason, healing is very difficult if not properly addressed at the roots because inflammation can come from several factors, including eating inflammatory foods, stress, working out too much without proper recovery, toxin accumulation, liver congestion, infections, (especially gut infections) that result in intestinal permeability (or leaky gut), and consuming healthy foods that you’re sensitive or intolerant to. This is barely scratching the surface, but these are the most common root causes of inflammation that I’ve seen in my clients consistently over the years.
Left unchecked this can lead to a vicious cycle because the inflammation leads to chronic illnesses such as autoimmunity and leaky gut, and then the chronic illness leads to more inflammation. I call this the leaky gut cycle. Chronic inflammation causes more damage to the gut lining and creates an environment where bad gut bacteria thrive. It’s a crazy cycle, but if you find the source, you actually can heal from the inside out! To recap, the most beneficial treatment for autoimmunity is to reduce inflammation and one of the most effective ways to decrease chronic inflammation in the body is through the foods we eat.
Once someone reduces inflammation through a diet, lifestyle, or a customized supplement plan using lab work as a guide then these areas that are out of balance can start to re-balance again. Conditions like acne, high blood pressure, leaky gut, autoimmune disease, and high cholesterol can all be improved by reducing the inflammatory response in the body.
Incredible, Sounds Like Inflammation Is A Major Key For Health Issues! Tell Us A Bit About Glutathione, What Role Does This Play In Inflammation? Why Is It So Important To Our Health?
If I could pick a favorite antioxidant, it would be glutathione! Glutathione is a molecule naturally produced in the liver and helps aid in important detoxification processes. It’s composed of three amino acids: l-cysteine, l-glutamic acid, and glycine. As with most antioxidants, glutathione is essential to a healthy gut and an optimal immune system. Adequate glutathione also regulates and supports detoxification, toxin elimination, energy levels, metabolism, and healthy aging.
Glutathione is found naturally in every cell and is made within the body, specifically in the liver. That being said, we can’t assume that we have optimal levels of glutathione at all times. In today’s highly stressed and overly processed world, many factors can deplete glutathione levels, leading to elevated oxidative stress and leaving us feeling unwell.
Important functions of glutathione include:
- Making DNA
- Breaking down free radicals
- Heavy metal transportation out of our cells
- Regenerates other antioxidants in the body
- Protection from free radicals and oxidative damage
- Supporting enzyme function
- Supports mitochondrial functional
- Supports the body’s elimination processes
- Processing fats in the liver and gallbladder
- Cellular detoxification of toxins and waste
Luckily, there are a handful of ways you can naturally support healthy glutathione levels in the body through diet and lifestyle. Foods that are rich in glutathione or glutathione precursors include sulfur-rich foods like arugula and garlic, cruciferous vegetables such as Brussel sprouts, liver, vitamin C-rich foods, and more. There are also several supplements that I would recommend based on your unique chemistry. It’s best to work with a practitioner who can help test your glutathione levels and make the appropriate suggestions for you!
All We Have To Say Is WOW, You’re Incredible At What You Do! Nikki, Thank You For Taking The Time To Share Your Expertise With Us!
If you’re ready to get started and work with a qualified Integrative Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, you can connect with Nikki on Facebook, or send her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to chat about getting started with a program, or follow her on Instagram. She also offers a free Leaky Gut & Autoimmune Starter Kit you can download here. In the starter kit, you’ll learn 3 daily habits that improve your leaky gut and autoimmune issues along with the 8 best foods to eat + 3 easy-to-follow recipes for an entire day of autoimmune healing meals! Nikki works with clients virtually from all over the country through her coaching programs, courses, and membership programs designed to help her clients reduce inflammation to feel their best in less time!
Health Studio Labs and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on Health Studio Labs is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise, or other health-related programs.