Natural High

CONTRAST THERAPY 

On top of providing a massive energy boost, bursts of cold come with numerous health benefits.   When we challenge our body with the discomfort of freezing water it becomes more resilient and is given the chance to acclimate.  After we expose the body to extreme cold it stimulates brown fat to heat itself back up.  This is a “good” fat which facilitates temperature control and increases metabolism.  Let’s take a look at several other advantages of contrast therapy.

STRENGTHENS IMMUNITY 

In 1993, a study conducted by the Thrombosis Research Institute in England showed that participants who took daily cold showers saw an increase in the number of virus fighting white blood cells compared to individuals who solely took hot showers. Researchers involved with the study believe that the body’s attempt to warm itself up increases metabolic rate, which activates the immune system and in turn releases more white blood cells.

BOOSTS MOOD 

According to research at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, showers with intermittent cold water may stimulate the brain’s “blue spot”.  This brain’s main source of noradrenaline which tends to mitigate depression and anxiety.  Also, because we have a high density of cold receptors in our skin, the cold shower sends an immense amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, providing a natural antidepressant effect. 

ENHANCES CIRCULATON 

Good blood circulation is vital for overall health as we know it’s our blood that is delivering precious oxygen to our tissues and organs.  We also experience a quicker recovery time from strenuous tasks and exercises when our circulation is healthy.  Not to mention a sharper mind!   Using contrast therapy when you shower is an easy way to improve your circulation.  The cold water will shunt your blood to your internal organs to keep them warm while the warm water will counter that and move your blood toward your skin’s surface.  

HOW TO PERFORM CONTRAST THERAPY

While finding easy access to a cold plunge is not always realistic, finding one’s own shower is a piece of cake.   If you dig into contrast therapy online you’ll find people suggesting 20 minute sessions, however you can actually benefit from just a few minutes of contrast therapy and will save a lot of water!   Personally, I do about 3 minutes worth at the end of my showers.  

Here’s how it works: 

  • Ease your way into it.  Start with a normal shower, then shift into the hot/cold contrast.  For your first time start with 10 or 15 seconds of each, then work your way up to 30 sec or 1 minute.  
  • The hot is not meant to be scorching of course.  Just a bit warmer than your comfort level.  During the cold bursts try to relax and control your breathing.  
  • Stay calm.  Don’t tighten or clench up every muscle.  Focus your mind on the sensation of the cold and relax into it.  I like to count my breaths rather than watch a clock.  
  • If full body contrast therapy is not your thing, you can use a Thermipaq set to reap the benefits in a focused area.  For instance, over your liver or low back.  

This was crater lake… talk about a delicious natural cold plunge!

IMMUNITY SERIES #1: SLEEP

Clearly we are far from eradicating COVID 19 from our environment, but we do have the power to boost our own defenses.  As we learn how to increase our protection and tolerance to severe disease, we can diminish our fear of infection.   My intention is to spread vetted information on how we can best KISS. Keep Immune Systems Strong!  

Today’s post will delve into the Sleep point of the KISS star.. are you getting your zzz’s?

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:

During sleep our bodies produce cytokines and T-cells.   Both of these play a vital role in immunity.   Cytokines create an immune response by targeting infection and inflammation, while T- cells kill virus infected cells via toxic mediators.   Studies have shown that lack of sleep (both quality and quantity) does indeed weaken our immune system.   Those who are skimping on zzz’s are more prone to get sick after being exposed to a virus.   Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to ensure you support your body’s production of cytokines and immune cells.

SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS:

SLEEP: 

  1. Create a sleep ritual (a special set of little things) to do before bed to relax the body.  Here are a few ideas: stretching, meditation, breathing exercises or gratitude journaling.    
  1. Create an aesthetic environment that encourages sleep. Use serene and restful colors and eliminate clutter and distraction.  Scan your room for any lighting that might interfere with your body’s natural release of melatonin.  For instance, a light from a charger – keep all electronics out of your bedroom!
  1. Use your bed for sleep, reading and sex only (not for screen time ) 😌
  1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.  Our physical bodies are designed to operate on routine! 
  1. Be mindful of your alcohol and caffeine consumption.   Avoid excess caffeine, and no caffeine after 1pm.   Aim to consume no more than 1(for females) or 2 (for males) alcoholic beverages per day.  Give yourself a break from alcohol at least 3 days per week!  While alcohol will help you fall asleep, too much will have you “ping” awake in the middle of the night.  This will drastically affect your quality of sleep. 
  1. Create total darkness and quiet. Consider using eyeshades and earplugs.  If your room has a lot of windows, blackout curtains are essential!
  1. Enjoy outdoor fresh air for at least 1 hour daily.  Sitting outside can reduce blood pressure, lower heart rate, and decrease cortisol levels. When we are outside our body slows down, helping us feel peaceful and calm.  
  1. Write it out!  We’ve all experienced those nights where the monkey mind won’t leave us alone as we desperately attempt to drift off to la la land.   Our minds are designed to create thoughts rather than hold them – be sure to write out all of your ‘to do’s’ for the next day so your mind can be clear and relaxed when you hit that pillow. This will allow your energy to go toward sleep! 

9.  Raising your core temperature before bed helps to induce sleep.  If you have access to a tub, consider taking a hot salt & soda aromatherapy bath before bed.  

DIRECTIONS: mix 1- 1.5C of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) with 1- 1.5C baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to your bath.  Absorbing the magnesium through your skin and receiving the alkaline balancing effects of the baking soda will leave you in a relaxed state ready to fall asleep.  Add a few drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil to the tub for the ultimate unwind.  

Another popular option for warming your center is to use a hot water bottle which you can easily find online.   Personally, I find hot cold packs even more convenient than filling up a water bottle!  My go to, thermipaq, is affordable and high quality:   ThermiPaq Reusable Ice Pack and Hot Cold Pack

10. If you are really struggling to fall or stay asleep, there are many vetted supplements that will help you overcome your struggle.  

HERBS AND SUPPLEMENTS: 

  • Try 320 mg to 480 mg of valerian root extract standardized to 0.2 percent valerenic acid one hour before bed.  Herb pharm also makes an alcohol free version: alcohol free herb pharm valerian
  • Oral lavender tincture (be sure the bottle says safe for consumption, there are many lavender extracts that are made for diffusers only).
  • Take 200 mg to 400 mg of magnesium glycinate (citrate is for constipation, glycinate is what you want for sleep)  before bed. This relaxes the nervous system and muscles. I use pure’s brand – vetted and provides a 3 month supply. 1-3 of melatonin 1 hour before bed. 
  • GABA 

Note: When using supplements and herbs, it is important to change them up every month or so, this way your body will not become dependent on them. Also note that (with the exception of Magnesium) they are not intended for long term use.

NOW IS WHEN WE NEED TO K.I.S.S.

From my knowledge as a Licensed Health Coach and Physician Assistant S-2, I have designed a 5 point approach to Keeping our Immune Systems Strong.  

Clearly we are far from eradicating COVID 19 from our environment, but we do have the power to boost our own defenses.  As we learn how to increase our protection and tolerance to severe disease, we can diminish our fear of infection.   My intention is to spread vetted information on how we can best KISS. Keep Immune Systems Strong!   This blog series will address each point of the pictured KISS Star.  Today’s initial post is a general overview of each prong.  In the following weeks I will delve deeper into each component.

SLEEP 

During sleep our bodies produce cytokines and T-cells.   Both of these play a vital role in immunity.   Cytokines create an immune response by targeting infection and inflammation, while T- cells kill virus infected cells via toxic mediators.   Studies have shown that lack of sleep (both quality and quantity) does indeed weaken our immune system.   Those who are skimping on zzz’s are more prone to get sick after being exposed to a virus.   Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night to ensure you support your body’s production of cytokines and immune cells. 

EXERCISE

Research has proven that because it causes chronic inflammation, obesity impairs immune function.   Exercise in moderation not only keeps you at a healthy  body weight, but it also prevents your immune system from aging prematurely.   Physical activity can aid in flushing bacteria out of your airways and slows down the release of stress hormones.   Exercise also increases the production of macrophages, which are a type of white blood cell that destroys harmful viruses and bacteria in the body.  

DESTRESS  

Cortisol is the main hormone our  adrenal gland produces while under stress.   While we are in flight or fight mode cortisol does a lot of important things for us – for instance, it increases glucose levels in our bloodstream.  We want vital energy to get away from that saber toothed tiger!   However it also suppresses certain facets of our immune system. That said, chronic stress becomes a problem and makes us more prone to infection.    

FOUNDATIONAL NUTRITION

Every stage of our immune response depends on micronutrients.    Ensuring you are eating a variety of whole, nutrient packed is vital to keeping your immunity strong.  Certain nutrients are crucial to the function and growth of immune cells.  These include vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, vitamin C, and protein – including the amino acid glutamine.   The SAD (standard American diet) tends to consist of highly processed foods which lack these essential immune boosting factors.   Watch out for refined foods, stick to God’s garden! 

HERBS & SUPPLEMENTS

Mother Earth has provided us with a plethora of anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral herbs that can increase our protection against pathogens.  Research and trials have shown us how beneficial these plants can be to our immune health. 

SERTONIN SERIES Pt 5

Serotonin is a key hormone that deserves our full attention as it impacts our entire body!  Most people know that this hormone stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.   But it doesn’t end there.  Serotonin helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.  It also enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

While we cannot directly ingest serotonin from our foods, we can fill our plates with the key players in the serotonin making pathway. This blogpost is going to be #5 of a five part series – with each part focusing on a different player.  Today’s MVP is Fiber.

WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE CARE: 

  • Fiber is a key nutrient that keeps our blood sugar stable and our appetite in control by regulating the way our body processes sugar.   
  • It is unique as it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules like other carbohydrates can.  Instead, fiber remains undigested as it passes through our digestive tract.
  •  Even though we do not metabolize fiber, it still offers us many benefits.   For instance, fiber takes up space in our stomach which makes us feel fuller for longer.  This helps us maintain a healthy weight, because it prevents us from overeating. 
  • Diets high in fiber fuel healthy gut bacteria, which play a key role in serotonin levels through the gut-brain axis.

 

SEROTONIN SERIES Pt 4

Serotonin is a key hormone that deserves our full attention as it impacts our entire body!  Most people know that this hormone stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.   But it doesn’t end there.  Serotonin helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.  It also enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

While we cannot directly ingest serotonin from our foods, we can fill our plates with the key players in the serotonin making pathway. This blogpost is going to be #4 of a five part series – with each part focusing on a different player.  Today’s MVP is Magnesium.  

WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE CARE: 

  • Magnesium is a mineral found in the sea, plants, the earth, humans and animals.  In fact every cell in your body contains it and needs it to function!  
  • As the second most abundant intracellular cation after potassium, it is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that manage various biochemical reactions in the body.
  • To name a few of its important roles, magnesium is required for muscle contraction and relaxation, ATP metabolism (which is vital to energy production), bone formation, blood pressure, heart rhythm and normal neurological function.   

LOW LEVELS OF MAGNESIUM HAVE BEEN LINKED TO:   Hypertension, ADHD (attention deficit disorder), Alzheimer’s disease, type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and  migraine headaches  Scientific literature shows that magnesium intake has decreased over the years especially in the Western world.  Deficiency is not uncommon among the general population and Prominent cardiologists have even called magnesium deficiency a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis.

SEROTONIN SERIES Pt 3

Serotonin is a key hormone that deserves our full attention as it impacts our entire body!  Most people know that this hormone stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.   But it doesn’t end there.  Serotonin helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.  It also enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

While we cannot directly ingest serotonin from our foods, we can fill our plates with the key players in the serotonin making pathway. This blogpost is going to be #3 of a five part series – with each part focusing on a different player.  Today’s MVP is Vitamin B6.  

WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE CARE: 

  • Vitamin B 6 is important for our mood because it is needed to convert niacin (vitamin B3) into tryptophan, which is needed for serotonin synthesis.
  • Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in many foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement
  • Acting as a coenzyme, it performs a wide variety of functions in the body and is involved in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism

SEROTONIN SERIES PT 2

Serotonin is a key hormone that deserves our full attention as it impacts our entire body!  Most people know that this hormone stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.   But it doesn’t end there.  Serotonin helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.  It also enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

While we cannot directly ingest serotonin from our foods, we can fill our plates with the key players in the serotonin making pathway. This blogpost is going to be #2 of a five part series – with each part focusing on a different player.  Today’s MVP is Vitamin D.  

WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE CARE: 

  • Vitamin D is needed to activate Tryptophan, the essential amino acid that makes Serotonin
  • It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in a few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement.
  • It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet (UV) rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis.
  • It helps your body absorb calcium, one of the main building blocks for strong bones. Together with calcium, vitamin D helps protect you from developing osteoporosis
  • Your muscles need Vitamin D to move, and your nerves need it to carry messages between your brain and your body. 
  • Your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.

SEROTONIN SERIES

Serotonin is a key hormone that deserves our full attention as it impacts our entire body!  Most people know that this hormone stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.   But it doesn’t end there.  Serotonin helps with sleeping, eating, and digestion.  It also enables brain cells and other nervous system cells to communicate with each other.

While we cannot directly ingest serotonin from our foods, we can fill our plates with the key players in the serotonin making pathway. This blogpost is going to be #1 of a five part series – with each part focusing on a different player.  Today’s MVP is Tryptophan. 

WHAT IT IS AND WHY WE CARE: 

L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid, meaning the body cannot make it on its own. This protein building block is vital not only for serotonin production, but also to make melatonin and niacin (vitamin B3).   Clearly it is imperative that we make Tryptophan an integral part of our diet.   Check out these food sources!

MAKE YOUR BRAIN THINK – USE THAT OTHER HAND!

We’ve all tried it at some point or another, using that non dominant hand.  And let’s face it, it feels awkward!  But don’t we need to work those weak spots to grow stronger?  The answer is yes.   Here are 3 great reasons to use your dominant hand as often as you can. 

1.  It makes you think! The concept is analogous to repeating the same workout over and over again in the gym only to hit a plateau. If we do not challenge our body, we will stop progressing. Like our bodies, our brains stay stagnant, or even get weaker, if we do not challenge them. . If we keep plowing the same neural pathway again and again we deprive our brains of the chance to adapt and become stronger.  

2.  It opens your mind! Recent research based on brain imaging technology has shown the ‘left brained person vs. right brained person’ theory to be false.  However, what is 100% true is that our cerebrum is divided into two major parts: the right and left cerebral hemispheres.  Fascinating research suggests we can enhance the usage of both hemispheres by performing complicated movements with our non-dominant side because it creates new and stronger connections between both sides.  In fact, musicians who use both hands had a 9% increase in their corpus callosum, which is the connector between the two halves of our cerebrum.  When we use our non dominant hand we are activating the non dominant hemisphere which is related to an increase in intuition, creativity and the ability to empathize.   

3. It balances you out!  I’m convinced that the reason the majority of my massage clients have an overly fired up right quadratus lumborum (right lower back area) is because of driving.  Think about the fact that every time you have driven a car you are creating an asymmetry in your body as your right leg is typically more extended and doing the work, naturally shifting your pelvis off balance a bit.  While my dream of stand up driven cars is far from reality, one thing we can do is notice how bent we keep our left knee in effort to create some balance. Along these lines of rebalancing, using our non dominant hand as often as possible helps to bring our body back into balance.  The way we were designed to operate 🙂 

 IDEAS FOR USING YOUR NON DOMINANT HAND: 

  1. Eating
  2. Brushing and styling your hair
  3. Brushing your teeth
  4. Talking on the phone
  5. Texting 
  6. Using your mouse
  7. Opening doors with your hand or a key
  8. Cooking
  9. Writing
  10. Opening jars 
  11. In the john  – all of the above on that front!
  12. Buttoning your shirt
  13. Throwing a ball
  14. Shuffling Cards
  15. Lighting a match

ARE YOU GETTING ENOUGH FIBER?

FIBER: WHAT IS IT? 

Simply put, fiber is a type of carbohydrate.  And what exactly is a carb?  A carbohydrate is a group of organic compounds which contain a 2:1 ratio of hydrogen:oxygen, just like water (H20).   The two main types of carbohydrates are complex (starches and fiber) and simple (sugars).  

WHY IS FIBER SO IMPORTANT?  

Fiber is a key nutrient that keeps our blood sugar stable and our appetite in control by regulating the way our body processes sugar.   It is unique as it cannot be broken down into sugar molecules like other carbohydrates can.  Instead, fiber remains undigested as it passes through our digestive tract.  Even though we do not metabolize fiber, it still offers us many benefits.   For instance, fiber takes up space in our stomach which makes us feel fuller for longer.  This helps us maintain a healthy weight, because it prevents us from overeating.  Which by the way is one of the secrets to longevity!  Take it from the Okinawans who have some of the highest life expectancy in the world.  When it comes to eating, they embrace the “Hara hachi bu” style – which means “Eat until you’re 80% full.”    

THERE ARE TWO MAIN TYPES OF FIBER: SOLUBLE VS. INSOLUBLE  

INSOLUBLE

  • cannot dissolve in water, instead it absorbs water
  • moves food through your digestive system 
  • often referred to as “bulky” fiber
  • promotes regularity
  • gives you a sense of satiety 
  • cleanses your GI tract 
  • lowers the risk of colon cancer 
  • Slowly (if at all) fermented by our gut microbiota

SOLUBLE

  • dissolves in water
  • once dissolved becomes gel-like and absorbs sugar and fat from other foods
  • slowly releases these sugars and fats throughout the day to give us energy 
  • helps stabilize blood sugar 
  • aids in lowering blood cholesterol
  • easily fermented by our gut microbiota, in essence it feeds our good bacteria
  • makes short-chain fatty acids which provide nourishment to our colon wall.   

Clearly,  both soluble and insoluble fiber are vital to our health. Within these two broad categories of fiber, there are actually seven types of fiber that are worthy of mention which I will delve into at the end of this post.  First I want to be sure to provide you with a list of high fiber foods. 

Like any shifts in your diet, when increasing the amount of dietary fiber be sure to start slow and gradually increase.

How much fiber should we eat daily? 

In the past century, the amount of fiber we eat has decreased by about 90%!   In fact, most Americans are only getting about 15g of fiber per day when really we should be aiming for closer to 38g (males) and 25g (females)each day.  Although these numbers vary slightly depending on your age and gender.  See these tables below for the current fiber RDI.   I would be remiss in my health coaching duties if I didn’t remind you that too much of a good thing is not always good.   Aim to stick close to the RDI, too much fiber can create bloating and stomach upset.   Not to mention diarrhea which would leave you deplete of minerals and nutrients.   

RECOMMENDED DAILY FIBER INTAKE

ADULTS (<50yo)ADULTS (50yo +)
MALE38g30g
FEMALE25g21g

CHILDREN & ADOLESCENT: 

1-3 yo19g
4-8 yo25g
9-13 yo26g (f), 31g (m)
14-18 yo26g (f), 38g (m)

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT???

Ideally we are getting both our soluble and insoluble fiber from our foods rather than supplements because whole, natural food is best for our body and our gut bacteria.  High fiber foods contain key health promoting nutrients that supplements do not.  While fiber supplements such as psyllium and wheat dextrin can contribute to your daily intake, it is important to first discuss the idea with your primary care physician.  There is no evidence that usage of fiber supplements is harmful, however they can in some cases cause intestinal upset and interact with certain prescription medications.  Because fiber slows down digestion, it may decrease the rate at which some drugs are absorbed. So again, have a conversation with your doctor if you are considering supplements

Personally, I aim to get my fiber through food but on the rare occasion my digestion feels like it needs a little oomph I resort to psyllium. Like any supplement, it is crucial to find a  quality, vetted brand. Organic India is my favorite.    You can take psyllium in the morning or night, I prefer to take it before bedtime.  PLEASE NOTE YOU MUST TAKE  PSYLLIUM WITH WATER.  Because it absorbs water so quickly, it needs to be taken with a full glass of water to reduce the choking hazard.   I find a little goes a long way and only take ½ a TB in 1 cup of water, which is ½ the recommended serving size. Some of my clients feel the same way, but others use a full TB.  I’m an advocate of always starting with the lower dose to see if you can achieve your results.   You can always go up from there if need be.  

OK.. last but not least… here are the 7 forms of fiber mentioned earlier!   

  1. Lectin is a natural fiber found in the cell walls of plants.  It falls under the soluble category and is a key player in the game of blood sugar control.  By stalling glucose absorption, it dampens the glycemic response of the foods we ingest.  Say see ya to blood sugar spikes!  Our gut bacteria can easily ferment pectin and it has been shown to lower LDL (the “bad” cholesterol).    FOOD SOURCES WITH THE HIGHEST AMOUNT: Citrus fruits: Pears, apples, guavas, quince, plums, gooseberries, and oranges 
  2. Like pectin, lignin is abundant in the cell wall of plants however it is not a soluble, but rather an insoluble, fiber.  As mentioned earlier this means that instead of dissolving in water, lignin will actually absorb water.   No wonder it helps keep us regular!   While insoluble fiber speeds things along in the GI tract, it decreases the amount of time cancer causing agents can spend interacting with our tissue.  Researchers believe this to be the reason it is considered protective against colon cancer.   FOODS HIGH IN LIGNINS: Root veggies, Fruits with edible seeds (tomatoes, strawberries, avocados), Green beans, Flaxseed 
  3. Cellulose is another insoluble fiber that helps comprise the cell walls of plants.  Since your body cannot digest it, cellulose will latch on to other food pieces you have ingested and help move them along your digestive tract.  Again, promoting regularity and keep your GI tract clean.  FOOD SOURCES HIGHEST IN CELLULOSE: Legumes (peas, beans, lentils); cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, bok choy, arugula, Brussels sprouts, collards, watercress and radishes); bran and nuts 
  4. Inulin is a soluble fiber, so we know it helps control blood sugar spikes. What’s neat is that it is also a prebiotic that can be used as food for the beneficial microflora that live in our large intestine. Better yet, inulin has been shown to create an environment in the colon that prevents the growth of harmful bacteria such as e. Coli.  One thing to keep in mind is that because this fiber is so easily fermented by our gut bacteria, if it is consumed too quickly or in very large amounts it might cause GI discomfort.  Our ancestors ate tons of roots and tubers where inulin concentration is quite high, in fact they consumed up to 15-20g!  Today, the average american consumes closer to 2g of inulin per day.    One of my favorite ways to ensure a safe amount of inulin in my diet is to drink teecino, a delicious coffee substitute made from chicory root.   Having experienced a lot of anxiety in my life, teecino has also been a saving grace while cutting down my caffeine intake.  Other foods high in inulin are: burdock root, dandelion root, asparagus, garlic and leeks
  5. Another soluble fiber that is considered a prebiotic for our gut bacteria is beta glucan.  Like most soluble fibers it helps control spikes in our blood sugar and increases satiety.  It is also closely linked to heart health and improving serum cholesterol levels.  Because of its powerful effect on our immune system, beta glucan is becoming a hot item in many research studies.  While many people promote beta glucan supplements, there are many yummy foods that will give you plenty of this soluble fiber.   FOODS HIGHEST IN BETA GLUCAN:  nutritional yeast, oats, barley, shiitake mushrooms, reishi mushrooms, seaweed and algae. 
  6. Depending on where it is along its journey through our digestive tract, resistant starch is similar to both soluble and insoluble fibers.  Most starches are rapidly broken down into glucose in our small intestine.  “Resistant” starch, however, resists digestion until it reaches the colon, just like insoluble fiber.  Then, like soluble fiber, it is fermented by the good microbiota that live in the colon. Needless to say, resistant starch helps to protect the GI tract from harmful bacteria, control blood sugar, maintain a healthy weight and regulate digestion.  Not to mention, it is one of the best sources of short chain fatty acids which, again, help to maintain the health of colonic cells.  FOODS HIGHEST IN RESISTANT STARCH: oats, brown rice, green bananas, legumes (esp fava beans!) 
  7. Psyllium is a soluble fiber and is what is found in most fiber supplements, such as metamucil.  In fact because psyllium comes from the husks of the Plantago ovata plant’s seeds it is only available in supplement form.  Like all soluble fibers, psyllium binds with water in the gut to create a gel-like substance which grabs on to sugars and inhibits reabsorption of cholesterol in the GI tract.  Because it absorbs so much water from the intestines, psyllium is referred to as a ‘bulk forming laxative’ as it adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass.  With its lubricating and absorptive properties, you can think of this fiber as a gentle internal scrub brush for the colon.   Lastly, psyllium is a prebiotic, once again meaning it acts as food for that ‘good’ gut bacteria.  Again, here is my favorite brand: