The Two Faces of Keto

Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson shares her views on the ketogenic diet on the Holistic Health Bites podcast
The ketogenic diet, a subject of much debate, is scrutinized in a comprehensive discussion exploring its origins, applications, and the significant controversy surrounding it. Initially developed in the 1920s as a therapeutic diet to mimic the benefits of fasting for seizure patients, its application has since broadened to address various metabolic health issues, including weight loss, diabetes, and heart disease. This diet shifts the body's primary energy source from glucose to ketones, produced from stored body fat, offering a potential solution to a myriad of health conditions.

However, the keto diet's reputation is marred by its transformation into a "fad diet," often comprising pre-packaged, low-carb foods that fail to provide essential nutrients, thus not supporting proper metabolism or cellular function. A distinction is made between such commercialized versions of the diet and a well-formulated ketogenic plan that emphasizes whole foods, quality proteins, and healthy fats. This authentic approach to keto promises numerous health benefits, including improved metabolic markers, mental clarity, reduced inflammation, and enhanced overall well-being.

Addressing a broader health crisis, the blog post emphasizes the need for a dietary intervention in a world where a significant portion of the adult population faces cardiometabolic challenges. The writer invites readers to join a Metabolic Reset Challenge, aiming to educate on integrating fasting, whole foods, and a reduced dependency on carbohydrates and processed foods into one's lifestyle. This initiative serves as a call to action for individuals seeking a sustainable path to improved health amidst a landscape dominated by quick-fix diets and nutrition misinformation.
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Mental, Emotional, and Environmental Stressors

Holistic Health Bites podcast with Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson featuring Rachel Headings discussing underlying stressors
Rachel detailed her struggles with numerous health issues from a young age, leading her on a path to functional medicine. She overcame challenges by addressing root causes through diet and lifestyle changes. She explained how chronic stress keeps the body in a constant "fear" state, impacting cells and health over time. Mental, emotional and environmental stressors all contribute to dysregulation of the HPA axis and stress response. 

Rachel recommended starting each day with solo time to self-regulate the nervous system and reduce stress-driven behaviors. Other tips included identifying stress signs, using supplements to calm the stress response, and prioritizing rest. For those experiencing burnout, she stressed the need to completely stop all activities and prioritize self-care and rest through nutrition, movement, social support and relaxing activities to allow the body to heal from chronic stress. 

Rachel suggested small, sustainable lifestyle shifts like improving morning routines, food choices, movement habits and mindset to take control of health, focusing first on nervous system support before addressing other issues. By gaining self-awareness and writing personalized wellness goals, one can gain freedom from past limitations. Journaling, expressing emotions and self-love help reprogram thoughts for ongoing mental and physical optimization.
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Mental Health and Metabolic Health

Holistic Health Bites podcast by Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson featuring Dr Christina Bjorndal discussing mental and metabolic health
Dr. Christina Bjorndal shares her journey into naturopathic medicine after a suicide attempt left her hospitalized, revealing how conventional medications failed to fully treat her mental health issues.  She emphasizes treating patients holistically by addressing their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being, not just symptoms, explaining the four pillars' interconnected roles in health.

Simple changes like reducing sugar, coffee and carbonation intake make a difference by supporting the body's natural functions, while eating nutrient-dense whole foods better nourishes the physical, mental and gut microbiome.  Mindfulness practices like recognizing unhelpful thoughts, relaxing into stillness and rephrasing narratives cultivate presence and self-compassion, countering inner critics and core wounds driving self-sabotage.

Dr. Bjorndal unravels cases by considering neurotransmitters, hormones and the immune-gut axis, gleaning insights from symptoms' origins to pinpoint each person's unique macro-system imbalances.  Our subconscious dialogues shape our lives, but conscious awareness allows redirecting thoughts to healthier beliefs, as she demonstrated overcoming rejection fears to transform her career path.


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Glucose-Ketone Index


On this episode of the Holistic Health Bites podcast, Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson explains the Glucose-Ketone Index. 

The Glucose-Ketone Index (GKI) presents a valuable tool for monitoring metabolic health by measuring the ratio of blood sugar to blood ketones, offering insights into one's energy production mechanisms. This index underscores the misconception that the body needs dietary carbohydrates to maintain adequate blood sugar levels, pointing out the body's innate ability to produce glucose from non-carbohydrate sources. It highlights the processes of gluconeogenesis, which allows the body to create new glucose, thus negating the necessity to consume carbohydrates for energy.

Insulin's role is highlighted as a regulatory hormone that manages blood sugar and signals the storage of excess energy, thus influencing the body's ability to burn fat or lose weight. To optimize insulin levels, the post recommends limiting intake of foods that cause the highest spikes in blood sugar and insulin, alongside adopting dietary practices that encourage lower insulin levels, such as intermittent fasting and reduced carbohydrate consumption. This approach advocates for a deeper understanding of the body's metabolic processes to achieve ideal body weight and enhanced energy levels.

Exploring the advantages of ketones as an alternative energy source, the post reveals how ketones take metabolic priority over glucose due to their ability to be used by nearly every cell in the body, their water solubility, and their capability to cross the blood-brain barrier to fuel the brain. The method for testing and interpreting one's Glucose-Ketone Index is detailed, offering a practical guide for individuals seeking to improve their metabolic health, achieve weight loss, and enhance energy levels naturally. Recommendations are provided for those struggling to achieve desired GKI levels, emphasizing patience and adjustments in diet, lifestyle, and eating patterns.
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Freedom from Cancer

Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson interviews Katrina Foe on her cancer story
On this episode of the Holistic Health Bites podcast, I welcome special guest Katrina Foe to discuss the importance of self-advocacy in health matters, the need for testing to identify underlying health issues, and the impact of environmental factors on health. She also emphasized the role of genetics and lifestyle choices in cancer prevention and treatment. The conversation focused on the importance of nutrition, particularly in relation to cancer treatment. She also touched upon the challenges and misconceptions related to transitioning to a ketogenic lifestyle. Towards the end, she discussed the importance of understanding cancer causes and effective treatments, and the potential benefits of alternative treatments for cancer.
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