Dr. Krause is a doctor of naturopathic medicine, an acupuncturist and podcast host dedicated to empowering people to take charge of their own health. Her unique approach is simplifying natural medicine and healthy habit formation.
She believes that health starts with what we eat, how we move and how well we manage stress.
Read on as we discuss cutting edge ways to improve diet, reduce stress, and increase mobility in order to keep your best health for as long as possible.
Talk to us about stress, what exactly is it?
My definition of stress would be the body’s inability to handle what’s coming at it and thus it ends up causing disease or dis-ease, if you will. And stress is not only mental, but emotional and physical as well. I will talk about physical stress too because a lot of people are aware of the emotional factors of it, but not a lot are aware of how stress affects your body physically and how it contributes to your age and aging for that matter.
Listen to this podcast episode with Dr. Krause and learn how to manage stress!
What are some of the major causes of stress?
First and foremost, it has to do a lot with what’s happening in the mind. You start to find that you have this feeling of always needing to be doing something and never doing enough. You’re never getting things completed. Then that kind of sometimes turns into a sense of over whelmed or doom for that matter, and those would be some of the mental science.
Then there’s gut signs and we might end up with IBS, alternation between constipation, maybe some diarrhea. So that could be part of it. Food allergies, kind of collecting foods you become sensitive to could be part of it as well. Headaches, pain, muscle tension, weight gain, you name it.
Pretty much everything you could think of in terms of a common symptom that we would chalk up for aging would be considered a sign of stress.
What are the top methods you recommend to your clients to reduce stress?
1. Get to know your body better and figure out how you’re responding to stress. I think that we are disconnected from our bodies and we don’t really know what’s causing what. Stress does manifest differently, but managing stress is identifying how stress is affecting you. So dive in and get to know your body a little bit better.
Now once we have an idea of how stress manifests in your body, then we start with knowing what time of day we are having these issues. The hormone that’s most related to stress is cortisol, and it fluxes during the day. So in the morning it’s in its highest and at night it should be the lowest to help you sleep.
But if insomnia is your number one symptom of stress, we’ve got to figure out what to do with cortisol, right in that evening time. And the biggest thing that’s happening with most folks is screen time. Too much time on the computer screens, the iPhones, the iPads, et cetera, or even watching TV too late. Then the other thing we’re looking at is how big of a meal and how late did you eat that meal?
So having a good bedtime ritual is one of my favorite solutions for helping with stress because most of us do not sleep well when we’re stressed out.
2. Manage some of your daily habits and work on better routines. So managing stress actually starts with managing some of your habits to help you to get further and get a little bit more chill. If you’re starting off your morning in a fury, or whatever many things that add to you feeling overwhelmed in any given moment, is going to make a huge difference on how well you manage stress. So take things out of your life that aren’t serving you, but also work on better routines. Get connected with your body and start to work on daily routines.
These habits, routines and dealing with it physically, even though it may be experienced mentally, we’re taking more of a physical approach as a solution.
3. Meditation and mindfulness. Meditation supports mindfulness. Being mindful throughout the day is really the goal that we’re trying to achieve. The biggest part of meditation is developing that ability to be focused on what we’re doing. And when we’re focused on what we’re doing, we’re not dwelling in the past or rehashing old crud or worrying about the future and stuff that may never even happen. Meditation doesn’t always mean you have to become a monk sitting for hours on end, but simply being mindful is really the main goal.
Find something that you enjoy to be mindful and what works for you.
4. Supplements. Yes, you can take supplements till the cows come home. You can take adaptogenic herbs as well. But know that getting the routine down, getting how you manifest stress in your body down in really recognizes that connection to your stress and your body. That’s going to give you the long term solutions more than a lot of the herbs and supplements can.
You also contend that foods can cause stress, or that the right foods reduce stress, talk about that.
It’s often a double edge sword because a lot of people end up stress eating or avoiding foods or stop eating because that’s their response to stress. Or the other side of it is not packing their food, not getting ready for the day or the week and finding themselves eating out quite a bit.
Also, when you eat more processed foods, or what I call Frankenfood, it’s food with dyes, colors, things not as nature intended, those kinds of things get into your digestive system and really wreak havoc and disrupt your gut microbiome, which is also disrupted by stress just naturally.
And so if you’re eating crappy Franken foods and then you’re combining it with a huge overload of stress, and then maybe you’re smoking or drinking to manage your stress, now you’ve got a lot of things that are beating up that gut. You end up having certain gut issues that can develop over time, which can then turn into skin rashes, and you just kind of have a whole down slide of different things that come when the gut is not doing well.
Foods that can help with stress….
In terms of food that can help you with stress, these are foods that are easy to digest. And from the Chinese medicine dietary therapy principles, which have been around for about 5,000 years, and that kind of trumps any diet out there that we’ve seen in the last couple of decades, these are…
- Foods that are warm, not raw, soups, stews, things of that nature, things that are cooked slowly and say a crock pot or over the stove for a longer period of time, these are more digestible foods. These are just a lot better for your gut.
- Veggies and higher fiber foods. These guys are going to help nourish your gut lining. We need short chain fatty acids that are created from fibers to help our gut lining stay strong and battle stress.
Raw food versus cooked food, which is healthier?
I do see the point in which if you’re cooking your food, you’re going to lose some of its nutrition. That is if you cook your food at high heat and you’re using the wrong types of oils. What it means is you can’t take olive oil and crank it up to high heat and expect that you’re going to get all the nutrition out of that food that you’re trying to cook. The olive oil will be rancid and you’re not going to get the nutrients.
Say you want to blanche or steam or lightly boil some carrots, for example, yes you’re gonna get some of the nutrients into that water. Make a sauce out of that water, or drink that water, however way you get it in, you’re going to get your B and C vitamins there because they’re water soluble. Now to get your fat soluble vitamins, which are vitamins A,D,B and K, out of your food, you got to bust those cells of the food apart. These vitamins are liberated when you cook with fats, so you will get those nutrients by sauteing carrots or putting in a crockpot with a little bit of oil.
The other thing is that as humans, we don’t have the capability to break down cell walls of plant material. You have to heat these foods up to a high enough degree to bust open the cells to be able to consume it.
Many folks out there have had a smoothie where they took fruits straight out of the freezer, threw in some spinach and cold almond milk, for example, and some protein powder, blended it up, and just went right straight to drinking it. That is a cold drink. And what does ice do when you put ice on your skin? It numbs the area. If you numb your stomach, you’re not able to release the digestive enzymes that you need to break down that food properly to get your nutrition from it.
There’s a lot of different things that I can argue about with the raw foods, but in particular it’s not optimal for digestion.
There’s also the evolutionary biology argument, which also makes a lot of sense. An ape today in a zoo, for example, spends five hours chewing food but its digestive system is using up most of its energy. And they have to, because they’re eating raw foods and it takes a long time to digest. Whereas as human, we use most of our energy running our brain and secondarily running our digestive system. And when we eat cooked food, our body can process it much faster, freeing up that energy for our big brain.
My point is that the best thing you can do for your body is have your food a little bit predigested for you. And that’s what cooking does. But if you’re a raw foodie and just can’t really cook food that much then blanche really quickly, or steam really quickly. You’re gonna get the benefits because you’re heating that food up just enough to bust open those cells to get the nutrients that you need.
Another key point on your website is that daily mobility is critical to a long healthy life, please define mobility first
I sum up mobility as seeing your joints being able to put your body to move freely without restrictions. One of those most basic positions would be a squat. We spend so much time sitting in chairs, often in a bad position in other countries, they squat a lot to eat, to chat. But our bodies should be able to go down and be able to sit with your butt basically resting on your ankles. A lot of folks that I see are having issues with knees and ankles, and shoulders too of course. But knees and ankles are important because if someone’s not squatting regularly, they’re also going to have ankles and knees that don’t move as well. Ankle mobility is a big deal and mobility is related to joints in my book.
A lot of people have either had ankle sprains, or injured themselves in terms of back, and having back pain because the ankles and feet aren’t moving well. I think a lot of people have extremely rigid feet, maybe because of core shoes, but also quite possibly because we’re looking at just not using their feet to full capacity.
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What are the best forms of exercise for improved mobility?
One of the mobility drills that I work with folks is trying to stand on your tippy toes. So these are interesting mobility things that I like to think about in terms of feet, knees, ankles, and then shoulders.
Also, get an old fashioned eraser. Those are rectangular erasers that most of us in our age range had in school. And use that eraser to work around the joints. Just kind of giving yourself a self-massage around the joints daily. Then going in to working on moving all your toes, and stand on your tippy toes, trying to balance on your heels. Then putting your ankles through a series of motions and just move all your joints.
I think getting a really good mobility routine down and sticking with that routine because it’s not something that you can do for a little bit and quit. It is a daily routine. If you want to be running into your eighties and be playing with those grandkids, or crawling around on the floor and not spending the whole next day in bed because you’re so sore, you got to do the mobility, you have to do it
Reader’s Take away…
I think the biggest thing that I’d love folks to take away from this is to start connecting with yourself. Start to realize what is changing in your body as you get older and what things might be related to how your body’s managing stress. And take a look at that. Make a little note, make a little chart maybe if you will, and start to work on how you can improve your routines to help get you less stressed over time.
***Check out Dr. Krauss’ YouTube channel as she discuss mobility enhancement technique!***