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Digestion: The Key to A Healthier You

If someone were to ask you about your digestion, chances are you would jump to the conclusion that they were asking about the quality and quantity of your bathroom visits, right? But it is so much more than that! We are going to explore exactly what it means to have great digestion and how important it really is.

Digestion, as we know it in the functional nutrition world, begins with our foods journey entering the mouth, where chewing initiates the production of saliva. It then continues on through to the stomach where protein is digested, we call this Upper Digestion or Phase 1. In the next step it dumps into the small intestine where liver and pancreatic enzymes join the party and at this point it no longer resembles the hamburger or salad that you ate; think of this as Phase 2. Enzymes and good bacteria do a majority of the digesting of fats and carbohydrates here. Vitamins, amino acids, and fatty acids are moved from the intestine through the gut wall to the blood stream. Once the food has completed its journey through the small intestine it moves on to the large intestine; Phase 3. The large intestine is where more of our nutrients and water are reabsorbed back into the blood stream leaving only the trash to be eliminated.

Whew! That’s a lot of changes just to get lunch to turn into ATP (the energy a cell needs to function).

What does it look like if our digestive system isn’t working right?

  • Indigestion
  • IBS – Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Reflux/GERD
  • Constipation
  • Weight Gain
  • Floating stools
  • Bloating/Gas
  • Colitis
  • Burping after meals
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Bad breath
  • Ulcers
  • Thin/Cracking nails
  • Thinning hair

Some of these symptoms are pretty serious, and it’s important to treat the root cause of the problem, not just the symptoms.

But what ARE the causes of digestive issues?

These and more can lead to a disrupted digestive system. I have patients who have been on prescription medications for years that are intended to be used for a maximum of 6 weeks, while others have had to have sections of their bowel removed due to chronic inflammation, as in Chrohn’s or colitis. If we don’t fix the underlying issue when our symptoms begin, often times the body will adapt and continue to deteriorate. It is always a good idea to look for the underlying condition so that we can resume a homeostatic or balanced gut function as soon as possible.

This problem is HUGE!!

In 2014 Americans spent approximately $2,000,000,000 (billion) on antacid tablets and liquids such as: Omeprazole, Tums, Prilosec, Rolaids, Zantac, Pepto Bismol, etc. I would say that digestion is a pretty big problem, and sadly none of these actually fix the underlying problem.

To begin to address the underlying cause, we need to talk about physiology for a minute. The normal pH of the stomach is very acidic, between 1 and 2, (like battery acid) so that we can absorb our minerals and digest our protein. Antacids change the pH of the stomach to anywhere between 5 and 11 which is very alkaline, and it can lead to reduced symptoms, however we no longer digest our protein or absorb our minerals very well. This type of fix is like the oil light flashing on your car dashboard and you removing the light-bulb! Not a good long term fix right??

Like the low oil in your car signaling the light to come on, low levels of digestive enzymes can trigger heartburn, indigestion and slow stomach emptying. Oftentimes what we need is an up-regulation of the quality or quantity of digestive enzymes to make protein digestion in the stomach more efficient and promote the emptying of the stomach contents into the small intestine. When this happens, it sets up a chain reaction for the rest of the digestive system to function more effectively! Its a win-win!

So what are some things we can do at home?

  1. Chew our food really well
  2. Try not to drink too much liquid during mealtime so that we don’t dilute our acid. If you’re over 50, you may need to consider a digestive enzyme since you make less stomach acid
  3. Avoid alkaline water unless you have a specific condition that warrants it
  4. Don’t eat and watch TV or eat and drive, or eat and play on your phone. Eating is part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is rest and digest, so just eat for best results
  5. Avoid high sugar foods
  6. Eat organic when possible to reduce your pesticide and herbicide exposure

If those aren’t enough, it may be necessary to get some whole food supplement or herbal digestive support from your local functional nutritionist or holistic healthcare provider

When digestion is working well, we are converting food into energy, we have less cravings, we optimize our fuel efficiency, we are providing our body with the needed nutrients to make repairs and build muscle and bones.

In summary, as we optimize digestion, we improve the breakdown of our food, we eliminate more efficiently, and we glean more energy and nutrients from our food allowing us to eat less and store less. What do you need to do to improve your digestion? Let us help you figure out which component needs support.



Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN

Cascade Chiropractic

2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130

Folsom, CA 95630


Fat Bomb Recipes

We made some delicious fat bombs today in a variety of flavors and wanted to share the recipes! I’ve included the links for those that we borrowed from other websites, but often times I find inspiration and then change them depending on my mood or what I have in my kitchen.

It’s good to remember that fat bombs use three types of ingredients:

  1. A fat base
  2. a flavoring/sweetener
  3. A mix in

Start with these things and you are on your way! Here are three recipes that are sure to please!

No Bake Brownie Bites


Fat bombs can be difficult to transport as they need to be kept chilled, we thought we would start with a recipe that keeps a little easier and could be thrown in a lunch box!

  • 1/2 C almond butter
  • 2 Tbs cocoa
  • 1/4 C Lilly’s chocolate chips
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C nuts
  • 1/4 C monkfruit powder (or sweetener of choice)
  1. In the bowl of a food processor add the walnuts and sea salt. Process until walnuts are finely ground.
  2. Add the cocoa powder, nut butter, vanilla, and Monkfruit (or sweetener of choice) and process until well combined and batter starts coming together.
  3. Depending on the thickness of your nut butter you may need to add coconut flour to help bind everything together. If so, add the coconut flour 1 Tbsp. at a time, and process until well combined, until you achieve the right consistency. (if you add too much flour, just add in a splash of non-dairy milk)
  4. Pulse in the chocolate chips.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Roll the dough between the palms of your hand to form small balls and place on the parchment paper.
  7. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 10-20 minutes or until firm.
  8. Store in a sealed baggie or container in the refrigerator.

Candy Mold Fat Bombs

Candy Mold Fat Bombs

This is my go to recipe at home. I’m not sure where I originally saw it, but it has definitely taken on it’s own personality in my kitchen. I like using little candy molds for mine, I can just pop one out and eat it as I go about making dinner or if I need a mid afternoon pick me up to keep my brain focused. If you have trouble sleeping through the night, try popping a fat bomb before bed! The fat will sustain you through the night and give your body the energy it needs to clean and repair.

Molds are also great if you are trying to get kids to eat them because they look fancy and fun!
  • 1/4 C coconut oil (melted)
  • 2 Tbs cocoa
  • 2 Tbs creamy or chunky almond butter
  • Add Ins:
    • coconut (unsweetened)
    • nuts (not peanuts)
    • mint
    • orange zest
    • lemon zest
    • cinnamon
    • seeds (chia, sunflower, etc)

Combine everything together in a bowl and spoon it into an ice cube tray or candy mold. Refrigerate or freeze until solid. Pop one out and enjoy!

Savory Avocado Bacon Fat Bombs


A lot of fat bombs are sweet, so we wanted to include a savory option that didn’t include a ton of dairy. The good fat in this one is from the bacon AND the avocado AND the butter. A triple whammy of delicious flavors!

  • 1/2 large avocado
  • 1/4 cup butter or ghee (softened)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small chili pepper
  • 1/2 small white onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper or cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 4 large slices of bacon
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 °C/ 375 °F. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Lay the bacon strips out flat on the baking paper, leaving space so they don’t overlap. Place the tray in the oven and cook for about 10-15 minutes until golden brown. The time depends on the thickness of the bacon slices. When done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool down.
  2. Halve, de-seed and peel the avocado. Place the avocado, butter, chili pepper, crushed garlic, cilantro and lime juice into a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Mash using a potato masher or a fork until well combined. Add the diced onion and mix well.
  4. Pour in the bacon grease from the tray where you baked the bacon and mix well. Cover with a foil and place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
  5. Crumble the bacon into small pieces and prepare for “breading.” Remove the guacamole mixture from the fridge and start creating 6 balls. You can use a spoon or an ice-cream scooper. Roll each ball in the bacon crumbles and place on a tray that will fit in the fridge.
  6. Eat immediately or store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Can You Exercise Your Way to a Healthy Body?

There is always a lot of talk this time of year about joining a gym, losing that extra weight, and getting back the body you used to have. But what if this whole concept of exercising our way to a healthy body is a myth?

Depending on your age, exercise can actually make you fat! The new term is “skinny fat.” People who look healthy on the outside, but aren’t on the inside. The body requires certain nutrients to be healthy, and regardless of your age, exercise AND diet are necessary to achieve health. For those over the age of 40 there are even more challenges. Did you know that once you reach the age of 40 your body burns energy differently? If you are under the age of 40, when you exercise you are more likely to burn available fat while exercising, however after 40 the body has a more difficult time accessing that stored fat and will go after your muscle instead.

This means that even if you go to the gym every day for months, do boot camps, zumba, spin class, walk your 10k steps each day, and park away from the grocery store, you can actually be increasing your percent body fat with these activities. The key is to know what fuel your body needs, and give it that!

Fuel is a very important key to changing our weight. Now we’re not taking about unleaded or premium, but instead we are talking about human fuel; calories. Putting in the wrong type of calories before we exercise would be like putting diesel fuel in a jet and expecting it to perform well. So what are the best sources of fuel for the body? There are three types of fuel, also called macros, that are vital to our health: protein, good fats, and carbohydrates (mostly in the form of fruits and vegetables). If you eat these at each meal you can be guaranteed to have a balanced and nutritious diet.

Let’s look a little more at why each of these macros are so important, and the role they play in our health. Our organs, including the heart, are made out of muscles. Clean sources of protein are necessary to make muscles, as well as hormones, and brain chemicals. Eggs, meat, raw (organic) dairy, nuts and seeds, pea and hemp protein are all good sources and can also be excellent sources of fat.

We also need good quality fats. Not all fats are created equal! Good fats come from olive oil,, coconut oil, organic butter, nuts and seeds, avocados, and other quality oils. Fats are important because they are required for the creation of new cells, hormones, and the insulation of our nerves. Also the brain is about 60% fat, and with the rising levels of dementia we should be paying attention to the types and quality of fats we put in our body. Bad fats to be avoided would include margarine (I can’t believe its not butter!), vegetable oil, canola oil, any trans fats, and ALL deep fried foods.

Finally, we need carbohydrates from whole, unprocessed foods. Our most nutritious source of carbs is vegetables and fruits. Vegetables provide us with minerals that they convert from the soil. They also provide us with the building blocks of energy production and the needed fiber to feed our good bacteria. While the carbs from whole grains (eg: quinoa, wild rice, steel cut oats) can be nutritious if organic, they need to be eaten sparingly, if at all. It’s important to understand that the body has a response to sugar, whether it is in the form of fruit sugar, a piece of toast, or a candy bar. Excess fructose converts into bad fat and triglycerides and can be the cause of not only weight gain, but also inflammation and pain in the body. I recommend no more than 1-2 fruits per day and generally the ones in season. Fruit instead of fruit juice also gives you the added benefit of fiber in your diet, which is always a good thing. Avoid higher sugar fruits when trying to lose weight, such as bananas, mango, dried fruit, pineapple, and papaya.

The Keto diet and the Paleo diet both focus on healthy, whole foods, while limiting processed foods and carbs.

Another factor that can impede our weight loss and health goals, other than diet and exercise, is STRESS! When we are exposed to stress over a long period of time our body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causes the body to store calories as fat, generally around the waist. There is really only one way to stop this process and that is to change your lifestyle and heal your adrenals. Now this is easier said than done, but it is a very important part of being healthy!

In conclusion, exercise is important, but it’s not enough! We have to give our body the nutrition it requires and that can change with our age. To get the most out of your exercise regime, make sure to consume about 15-20 grams of protein within an hour before exercise and AGAIN 15-20 grams of protein after you exercise, especially if you are over 40! This gives your body the fuel it needs to exercise and access your stored fat instead of consuming your muscle!

If you are looking for a low impact workout, check out my previous blog post for a great 7 Minute Workout!


Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN

Cascade Chiropractic

2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130

Folsom, CA 95630


Achieve Balance. Transform Your Life.

We are exposed to toxins every single day. We eat, drink, and breathe environmental toxins and we also make toxins that a healthy body would be able to excrete. But what happens if we get too many toxins over time? If the liver, kidneys, and lymph can’t keep up with the toxic load the body has devised a storage plan for that extra trash and that is putting it into your fat!

Ever wonder why it’s so easy to put weight on, but so difficult to take it off? Well our detox pathways have a lot to do with that. If there’s no safe way for the body to eliminate toxins stored in the fat, because we have a dirty liver (or worse a fatty liver!) or our kidneys are not excreting efficiently, the brain says “NO!” to fat loss.

How else do these toxins affect us? They can contribute to:

  • Fatigue or difficulty sleeping
  • Indigestion or GI upset
  • Food cravings or weight gain
  • Reduced mental clarity
  • Low libido
  • Skin issues
  • Joint discomfort

Statistics show that chemicals are unavoidable:

  • 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the US
  • 800,000,000 pounds of herbicides used per year in the US
  • 167 industrial chemicals found in adults with no employment related exposure

The typical American diet favors processed foods that are high in bad fats (hydrogenated or GMO), refined sugar, and salt. Processed foods also often contain pesticides and artificial ingredients that can contribute to toxin buildup.

Some other daily exposures you may have overlooked are:

  • Tap water – city water is treated and chlorinated, however studies show that Rx medication cannot be filtered out, along with many other chemicals.
    • Solution: Get a water filtered
  • Toothpaste – fluoride is a known toxin and while it does harden teeth and bone, it also takes the “parking spots” in our body where iodine should be. Iodine is essential for thyroid and breast health and studies how nearly 80% of Americans are deficient in this vital mineral.
    • Solution: Use a fluoride free toothpaste and tooth polish at the dentist.
  • Aluminum cookware – cookware is an easy way to absorb chemicals and heavy metals into your body. The food picks up the toxins and then you ingest it.
    • Solution: Inspect your cookware regularly and replace with ceramic or stainless steel for a safer option.
  • Body care products – antiperspirants contain aluminum as an active ingredient to prevent sweating. How logical is that? Aluminum also crosses the blood-brain barrier (not good!). Other beauty and body care products often also contain synthetic chemicals to make them creamy, foamy, scented, etc. which are then absorbed through the skin and into the body.
    • Solution: buy aluminum free deodorant and all natural or organic body care products.

But how do we support our body’s detox pathways?

We are fortunate in that detoxification is a natural process that our body already does, but how can we up-regulate it to handle the toxic overload? First, we need to change the fat-soluble toxins (the ones that get stored in your fat) into water soluble toxins so we can remove them. This is Phase I and requires certain nutrients and antioxidants. Phase II neutralizes these toxins, using amino acids. Finally Phase III includes fiber and nutrients to aid in the elimination of these toxins from the body.

SP Detox Balance is a new product, developed by Standard Process, to combine phtyonutrients, protein, and fiber for the purpose of unlocking, neutralizing, and eliminating stored toxins from the body.

One to two delicious SP Detox shakes per day for 10-28 days is the perfect way to reboot your detox pathways and regain your health. In conjunction with drinking plenty of water, exercise, and wholesome meals you will be on your way to removing months, even years of stored toxins from your body!

Call our office to set up an evaluation appointment to see if SP Detox Balance is right for you!


Dr. Virginia S. Irby D.C.,DABCO, ACN

Cascade Chiropractic

2371 Iron Point Rd. Ste. 130

Folsom, CA 95630



Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application, by Romilly E. Hodges and Deanna M. Minch

Biomonitoring of Industrial Pollutants: Health and Policy Implications of the Chemical Body Burden, by Joseph W. Thornton, Michael McCally, and Jane Houlihan

Fast Food Fever: Reviewing the Impacts of the Western Diet on Immunity, by Ian A Myles

National Toxicology Program, US Department of Health and Human Services

Pesticides Industry Sales and Usage 2006 and 2007 Market Estimates, US EPA compiled by Arthur Grube, David Donaldson, Timothy Kiely, and La Wu

Concerns Over Glyphosate-Based Herbicides and Risks Associated with Exposures: a Consensus Statement, by Michael N Antoniou et al.