Gut Health, Probiotics, Enzymes and all that good stuff!

Gut health is such a mysterious pillar of wellness. It is not easy to define which things our bodies can tolerate and which things that they can’t. As we age, different foods become harder to digest and it is more common to grow food intolerances. Unfortunately, bloating is common and we’ve all had meals that have left our stomachs in knots. The hardest part to me about all of this is that our gut is technically our “second brain”. There is a nerve that physically connects our brain to our gut called the Vagus Nerve. This connection can lead to imbalances in our bodies, whether it be bouts of anxiety, depression, etc.

So, how do you even begin to figure this all out?! Every situation looks different, but here is the story of my journey with my gut. I share this in hopes that anyone with a similar story can gain insight into what may be going on inside.

My Gut Health Story:

My story with my gut is complicated and frankly still is. About two years ago, I started having extremely bad stomach pains. It got to the point where I did not want to go out knowing that my night would probably end in a stomach ache. The most frustrating part was that I really could not decipher which foods made my stomach feel that way. The pain was inconsistent and not telling of what was going on inside of me.

We all know that the internet is a scary place, but I definitely learned this on my journey. “Cut out all grains, all dairy, sugar, etc. indefinitely”, you name it. I did not want to go this route as it felt extremely restrictive. I came across a lot of credible sources that shared information with me about elimination diets, probiotic supplements and foods.

After a lot of reading, I decided to follow an elimination diet for 3 weeks solely to figure out which foods were causing the discomfort. I don’t like to use the word “diet”, but in this scenario it was a short term protocol with the purpose of getting down to the bottom of some health issues. For three weeks, I cut out a specific list of foods. After the elimination phase was over, I would add one thing back each week that was typically harder to digest. This ranged from gluten, dairy, legumes, and so on. I learned from this protocol that my gut was extremely sensitive to dairy. Sigh. My diet did not include an abundance of dairy, but I knew it was time to limit it.

Beyond the Elimination Diet

Aside from this, I spent a lot of time doing research on a probiotic to start incorporating into my routine. I wanted the very best option, as probiotics surely are not cheap. A good probiotic has the true power to monitor the gut and make changes in gut health for good. They have the power to to destroy harmful organisms which allows the growth of good microbes in the gut. On top of all of this, they can help us digest foods more easily and absorb more of their nutrients. I was on a mission and I was not giving up.

A plethora of peers recommended Silver Fern Probiotics to me. I was hesitant at first about the price, but I was not in a place to put a price tag on my health. I read countless reviews, did the groundwork, and placed an order. About two and a half weeks after I started to take these probiotics, I noticed huge changes. My stomach pain and bloating had been immensely reduced. I began to have less social anxiety about going out and ending the night in pain. These probiotics worked WELL and they worked FAST. I’ll spare you on too many details, but my tummy was definitely happy again. 🙂

Where I’m at Now

About two months ago, I visited Greece. Before my trip, I had not consumed any dairy in two years. When traveling, I am ALL about gaining experiences and fully immersing myself into a country’s culture. I could not go on the trip and not try the local feta, right?! After some more research, I decided to buy digestive enzymes to eat before all meals that contained dairy. I still was going to continue taking my probiotics everyday, but use the enzymes as a precautionary step.

Overall this went pretty well! At first, I definitely felt some discomfort as dairy was a foreign substance to my body. I also definitely over did it as I was super excited to try all of the local foods. By the end of the trip, I was able to figure out a routine with dairy that didn’t upset my stomach too much. I limited my intake each day and made sure I was eating the highest quality that I could find. I learned that my body responded better to goat’s and sheep’s milk cheeses. With the help of these enzymes and my daily probiotic usage, I was able to find a love for dairy again.

I’m not here saying that it has been the perfect gut health journey since Greece, but I am extremely happy with the progress I have made. My gut has been so much stronger, and I have been able to enjoy some forms of dairy here and there. Two years later, I still take the Silver Fern supplements everyday and completely trust everything about the brand. I know that consistently taking the probiotic for two years has yielded in positive, permanent changes in my gut health. That is something for me that you can not put a price tag on.

My meal recently, enjoying homemade Shakshuka with my favorite cheese that I discovered in Greece — Halloumi.

The Silver Fern Difference

As mentioned before, there are so many benefits to taking a high quality probiotic. From restoring the gut flora to helping improve your stomach acidity, they really do have so much power. When we opt for lower quality probiotics, often the strands are already dead on the shelf. If they aren’t dead yet, there is a high chance that they will die upon entering a gut with high acidity. If you have taken a probiotic before, you are probably familiar with the strands they contain and the amount of CFUs. Many bottles advertise thousands of different CFUs. This is often a marketing tactic, so again you have to do your research. It really is about the quality of the strands you are putting into your body, not the quantity.

The Silver Fern Brand has had third party testing done to guarantee 100% survive-ability rate once the probiotic reaches your gut. Silver Fern Brand’s Ultimate Probiotic contains potent high quality strains that offer an endless amount of benefits to our bodies.

Probiotics help produce digestive enzymes in the gut like lactase. As we age, we produce a significantly less amount of digestive enzymes. This yields in a difficulty digesting our foods and absorbing their nutrients. This is why when we get older, we may develop food intolerances that we have not had before. Its why I decided to add digestive enzymes to my routine before meals. They are made to help replenish your gut with missing enzymes and help you break down foods that are difficult to digest. The Silver Fern Ultimate Digestive Enzymes are THREE TIMES stronger than common enzymes on the market. They help your intestines directly with complete protein digestion.

My General Gut Health Advice:

I have never been a science person, but the science behind our gut health and the impact of probiotics and digestive enzymes really fascinates me. Please remember that I am not a qualified health practitioner, and if you are facing serious gut health issues, you should definitely consult your doctor. I am sharing with you my general gut health advice that can hopefully help give insight into stomach discomfort you may be dealing with and beyond.

When purchasing any probiotic or digestive enzymes, do endless amounts of research. This is one area of my life that I really do not put a budget on. The gut is our second brain, and when there are imbalances it can really effect our mood and mental health. Try out different supplements and really tune in to how they are impacting your body. These days, it is extremely easy to get caught up in the trends on social media. It is important to be able to sort through this and be able to find out what works for you and your body. Don’t over complicate things. If a company has high quality practices, it will not be hard to find information on the products that they offer.

If you have the time and the patience, you could explore an elimination diet! This helped me immensely and I was able to see which foods really did trigger bloating and discomfort. I also have made a conscious effort to include fermented foods into my diet. Although these do not travel directly to our gut and provide us with probiotics, they serve as a great source of nutrients for the bacteria in our gut. Another supplement I take often is collagen, which helps support the lining of our guts.

Everybody is different!

You know the drill, but we really all do have different imbalances in our gut and what works for me may not work for you. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are experiencing serious issues; there could be an underlying issue that is causing everything. There are actions that we can take each day to help improve our gut health, even if there is something more serious going on on the back end.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to read this! I could write a handful of posts all about gut health and different things that help me, but I will keep this one at an appropriate length. If you have any questions about my personal journey, I am an open book and am always happy to chat with you.

This post has been sponsored by the Silver Fern Brand, but all of the opinions and recommendations are wholeheartedly my own. I am extremely proud to be partnering with a company that has had such a positive impact on my health the past couple of years! Cheers to good gut health and less food intolerances 🙂

xo,

Cori

Leaving Corporate America, The Road Less Traveled

One year ago today, April 19th, I walked out of the doors of my job within Corporate America as an Oracle based technology consultant. I left those doors without a plan, without a new full time job, without a consistent compensation. One thing I did leave those doors with was excitement, confidence and dedication towards my unknown career path going forward. I knew in my heart I had a passion for health and wellness that I would put forth every ounce of energy I had to pursue.

I am not writing this to convince you to quit your corporate job. I’m not here to tell you that everything will be sunshine and rainbows on the other side. That is not the case, and likely will take a lot of hard work to get to that point. I am also not here to say anything in a negative light regarding Corporate America. My time as a consultant was incredible and truly shaped me to have the confidence that I found within myself to go out on my own. My mission here is to share my story hoping that it helps anyone in the same boat in their career.

Why leave?

When I started school at the University of Georgia in 2012, I had my mind set on obtaining a business degree. That’s what everyone seemed to be doing. You get into the school of business, you go off to work full time at a Big Four company, and life is grand… right? That mindset stuck with me throughout my first year at a Big Four firm. I was doing all the “right” things, I felt successful, and I had a comfortable salary.

When you follow along with the status quo, it can catch up to you quickly. I started to become stressed and unhappy, which took the energy out on my relationships. I began to feel like I was a small fish in a large sea, and that was difficult for me to make an impact in my environment. Although all the signs were there, I thought I was on the right path and that I had to stick through it. Because what would others think if I left? Who would I be if I wasn’t the Management Information Systems major working 60 plus hour weeks at a Big Four Firm? Frankly, how would I survive without this salary and pay my bills?

It took a LOT of soul searching, but I realized that my mindset was extremely skewed. What mattered most to me at the end of the day was my happiness and my mental health. The reality is that sometimes happiness is not the easiest path to choose. Often it means letting go of something that may have once served you. It may mean walking away from a path in life that most people are on, and that is OKAY. Your job, your major, your salary — none of these can ever define you.

My plan post quitting

The hardest part was not being able to tell my coworkers exactly where I was going. I had a bunch of part time jobs lined up, but they didn’t need that entire elevator pitch. And honestly, I was hesitant since it surely was not the traditional route that most of my peers take.

The main part time job that was going to be keeping me afloat was working at a Technology Specialist for a local company, and that company happened to be owned by my dad. I kept this a secret for a long time. I am extremely proud of the business my dad and his partner have grown and was excited to be a part of it, but I know the stigma that comes when working for a parent. So, I kept quiet to most, when really, I was gaining valuable experience.

At his company, I continued practicing what I had learned in my major. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t my dream job, but I knew that it would give me the flexibility to explore the health and wellness industry. I would no longer be traveling and working 60 plus hour weeks and would now have the time to follow my passions.

As far the health and wellness side of things goes, I decided to create my blog. I dedicated a lot of my time growing my account and page with this newfound freedom. When I had the chance, I went out and met friends I had connected with through Instagram, attended Natural Products conferences and networked with my favorite health companies. I also got a job at SoulCycle and made an incredible group of friends who I consider family within the fitness industry.

When I started my blog, I started to reach out to local companies to see if they needed any extra assistance. I am so thankful that Georgia Grinders responded, and I was able to meet with the awe-inspiring founder of the local nut butter company. Jaime was one of those people who came into my life for a reason at exactly the right time. We had very similar stories, and she was a complete breath of fresh air. From that day, I knew I had gained an incredible role model and friend who would end up being a big part of my life. I started off working for Georgia Grinders at local farmers markets and events on the weekends. This opportunity led me to meet so many amazing health-minded people within the Atlanta community.

Where I am today

You are now probably thinking… so when did you sleep?! I always prioritize sleep, but I did not have much free time beyond my part time commitments. Although the funny thing was, I was not very stressed. I knew I was chasing my passions, and that one day all this hard work would lead to something bigger.

Today, one year after leaving Corporate America, I am extremely proud to be the full time Digital Media Manager for Georgia Grinders. I wake up each day feeling grateful for all of my hard work that got me to this point. My focus is now on helping grow Georgia Grinders, while growing my personal brand at the same time. I’ve taken a complete 180 turn from my college major and career, and I have not looked back.

What excites me most is knowing that this is just the start of my journey, and there will be so much more to come. I did not decide one night that I wanted to leave Corporate America, it was something that came to fruition over time with a lot of dedication. But if you find yourself in the same boat, there is absolutely no harm in putting yourself out there and beginning to explore other options. I cannot say it enough — your job, your career, your salary, none of these will ever define you. Tune into your needs and blur out any thoughts or judgement from others. It is your life, your happiness, and people will be a lot more understanding than you would expect.

How to tap into industries outside your major

So, what happens when you know you want to make the change? What happens when you want to explore other industries outside of your degree? Where do you go from here? Each situation is different, but this is the general advice that I share with others going through the same thing:

Put yourself out there any chance you get. Do this by stepping into uncomfortable situations, even when it scares you. These situations are the ones that are going to help you grow the most. Ask a lot of questions and learn to be okay with hearing the word no. If something doesn’t work out, it was likely not meant to be. Take that disappointment and channel it into the manifestation of the next best thing.

Talk to experienced people in the industry, make incredible impressions and follow up with your contacts promptly. Reach out to as many people as you can and listen to their stories and expertise. Read articles and do endless amounts of research. Be sure to attend any industry related events. When you are passionate about something, the easiest part is sharing this with others. People can see it in your eyes, hear it in your voice, and feel it shine from your heart.

Take the road less traveled

Making any change does not happen overnight. If you want it badly enough, you surely have what it takes to make it happen. About a couple months into becoming discontent with my career, I traveled to Ojai, California. It was in a gift shop here that I found a key chain that read “Take the road less traveled”. This quote stuck with me (and my keys) and truly changed my life. It was in that moment that I realized I had what it took to be anything but ordinary. I was ready to take the step forward to follow the passions in my heart. So much has changed for me this past year for the better, and I cannot wait to see what the future brings.

If you are in a similar situation and are thinking of making a career change, please reach out! I am always happy to talk more about my experience and share my knowledge. Thank you SO much for taking the time to read this; it truly means the world to me to have you here.

Xo,

Cori

All Things Expo West 2019

Twice a year, the New Hope Network puts on the largest natural foods conference; one is on the east coast (Expo East) and one on the west coast (Expo West). Thousands of companies come together in one convention center and debut what is new and exciting with their brands. It helps connect them to different retailers, vendors, distributors, bloggers and influencers. These Expos really have the power to help bring different brands and companies to the next level. They also serve as a really fun way for bloggers and influencers to network and meet other people in the same industry.

I have been fortunate enough to attend the last three conventions and get a first glimpse of what is coming down the pipeline from some of my favorite natural products companies. It is a blast to meet the faces behind the brands and get to try out their new offerings. There are samples everywhere, thousands of booths, and a whole lot of foodies. This past month, I attended Expo West 2019 in Anaheim, California. I cannot wait to share all of the scoop with you guys!

From a trends perspective, CBD, collagen and turmeric are definitely being used in a wide variety of products in the industry. They all have incredible benefits for you, but it seemed like there was product overload in these areas. There are so many amazing products and companies out there, but I definitely recommend doing your research before purchasing any. Sometimes, it really is easiest to stick with what you know and not over complicate. Simply because I choose to use or purchase something, absolutely does not mean that you need to. With that being said, here are some of my top favorite finds at Expo this year!

Kite Hill

Kite Hill Foods is one of my favorite brands that carries dairy-free cheese alternatives. My long time favorite has been the chive flavored almond milk cream cheese. They launched a few new exciting products this year: everything bagel almond milk cream cheese, strawberry flavored almond milk cream cheese, and dairy-free, ricotta filled tortellini! The tortellini was incredible and they had it prepared in an olive oil and garlic based sauce with peas. I definitely plan on remaking this soon, as I have already spotted the tortellini in my local Whole Foods! If you are gluten-free, unfortunately, the tortellini is not gluten free.

Siete Family Foods

Siete Foods has one of the most friendly and fun brands out there. I always love running into the team at different shows and events. This year, they debuted their new grain free taco shells and sprouted bean dip! If you are not familiar with the brand, they offer great grain-free alternatives for Mexican-inspired cooking. From their grain free tortillas, to their incredible vegetable based hot sauce line, they really have it all. They keep continue to come out with exciting new products and I cannot wait for more!

Chosen Foods

Chosen Foods is one of my long time favorite companies that sells healthy cooking oils. I always use their avocado oil and avocado oil sprays to cook because they are high quality and have a higher smoke point than most other oils. They recently launched their line of 9 flavored avocado oil sprays! My favorite flavor is definitely the garlic, and they have other fun ones like dill and citrus pepper. Chosen Foods is also coming out with a guacamole and an avocado spread which I am super excited about.

Wildbrine

Wildbrine has been known in the natural products industry for their kraut and fermented products. They stole the show this year with their new plant based bries and butter. The brie was extremely authentic to traditional brie in regards to the rind. It tasted great and will come in three flavors: classic, shiitake and beet. Their plant based butter was also amazing; I’m super excited that there is now another clean, vegan butter out there. All of their new products that they debuted are also cultured. This may have been one of my favorite samplings at the show!

Simple Mills

Simple Mills has incredible grain free baking mixes, cookies, crackers, etc. and this year they added an incredible brownie mix to their line! It tastes super fudgy and very similar to a regular brownie. I’m looking forward to enjoying a batch soon with some dairy free ice cream!

New Barn Organics

New Barn is an awesome brand that sells a variety of almond milks and almond milk based ice creams. This year at the show, they sampled their new almond based dips with great ingredients and even better flavors! My favorite was definitely the habanero. They would be a great option for those who do not eat chickpeas as a hummus replacement. I eat chickpeas, and plan to be buying lots of these dips!

Georgia Grinders

Near, dear, and extremely close to my heart, Georgia Grinders came out with Hazelnut butter that is just plain perfect. The only ingredients are slow roasted hazelnuts and sea salt; clean and simple – just how I like it. I actually attended Expo West with Georgia Grinders as the new Full Time Digital Media Manager! This hasn’t quite been discussed on my page yet, so if you’re reading this, you’re the first to know! I’m beyond excited for this new leap of faith in my career and am thrilled to work alongside a brand that values a commitment to quality and simplicity as much as I do.

Sir Kensington’s

Sir Kensington’s has a fabulous line of condiments and dressings that they recently expanded to include flavored balsamic vinegars! I was able to try them out at the show on top of some vegetables and they were great. Vegetables are definitely a rare find at the show so I totally appreciated these samples. My favorite one was the Dijon Balsamic, but they all have really unique and delicious flavors.

Miyoko’s

Miyoko’s is another one of my favorite dairy free cheese and butter companies. I use their mozzarella frequently as it definitely melts a lot easier than other vegan cheeses I have tried. The product pictured above was my new favorite. It is the Biergarten Garlic Chive cheese and it is absolutely to die for, especially on pretzels. They also debuted their new line of cheeses which are completely nut free and made with a base of sweet potatoes. Miyoko’s did not have any official packaging out yet, but I am excited to see them on shelves soon! The nut-free cheeses tasted incredible and I assume they will melt just as easily as their other offerings.

Chameleon Cold Brew

Oat milk in my lattes has to be one of my favorite morning treats ever. Chameleon Cold Brew is making that a lot easier by combining their organic cold brew with organic oat milk in the bottles pictured above. They will come in a couple flavors and they all taste great!

Birch Benders

My love for Birch Benders pancake mix runs deep, and I was so excited that they expanded their line to include syrups! Their syrups are sweetened with monk fruit and have added MCTs in them. Birch Benders also launched a plant based and a Keto pancake mix. Both were delicious and will have a frozen boxed waffle to accompany them. My favorite mix is still the Paleo pancake mix and the Paleo frozen waffles, but I think it is super awesome that they are expanding to meet the needs of so many consumers. Yay!

Hu Kitchen

Hu Kitchen is coming out with Paleo chocolate chips! They are called Gems and are absolutely perfect for all of your Paleo baking needs. I’m really pumped about this as I will no longer have to chop their bars up for baking. As far as the bars go, they launched a delicious Earl Grey Cashew Butter Chocolate bar. They were sampling their Orange Dream Vanilla Cashew Butter and Cashew Butter and Raspberry Jelly bars which launched last fall at Expo East. Hu Kitchen is definitely one of my favorite Paleo chocolate companies out there. Make sure check out their storefront in New York City if you ever have the chance. Rumor has it there may be a new location soon… stay tuned!

PS. They are also launching grain free crackers! Be on the lookout on their Instagram page and website.

Taste Republic

Taste Republic has an amazing line of fresh, gluten-free pastas. You can find their pastas in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. I get mine at my local Whole Foods and Sprouts. Some of their pastas are paleo/grain-free, and they just added cauliflower linguine to the line. It is just as delicious as their other pastas and I’m thrilled about this awesome grain-free pasta option! All of their pastas only take a few minutes to cook which is when you really know that they are fresh. The pastas are also available on their website, but the cauliflower linguine is currently sold out.

Banza

Banza was sampling their delicious new chickpea rice. I’ve posted about it a lot on my feed and in my stories, but it is always great to see the friendly faces behind this brand. They were sampling a fried rice recipe with their rice that I will definitely be recreating soon!

Mother Raw

Another one of my favorite brands that I found at Expo was Mother Raw. They offer a line of extremely clean dressings and dips. All of their products are made with a base of extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Mother Raw sells an awesome plant based, nut-free queso, too! I loved all of the dressings, but the Caesar and the Maple Fig were two of my top choices. Check out this brand for simple, good for you products that can really help elevate your meals.

Eating Evolved


The delicious Paleo chocolate brand, Eating Evolved, is also coming out with Paleo baking chips! One of my favorite products of their’s is their cashew milk chocolate bar, so I am excited that they are launching cashew milk chocolate chips as well. Eating Evolved is expanding their line of Paleo coconut butter cups to include nut butter cups. The inside of these new cups are filled with either almond or cashew butter and are absolutely delicious. All of the ingredients for their new cups are just as clean as the one’s found in their other products!

Hilary’s Eat Well

My favorite veggie burger company, Hilary’s, came out with a new grain-free super cauliflower burger. It is definitely my new favorite item of their’s. The new burgers really remind me of a potato pancake and are super comforting. I can’t wait for these to hit the shelves soon.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

My absolute favorite ice cream company, Jeni’s Ice Cream, launched three new amazing dairy free flavors! The came out with Roasted Peanut Butter & Strawberry Jelly (my favorite), Cold Brew with Coconut Cream, and Texas Sheet Cake. They are all so amazing and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how they turned out! If you live near a Jeni’s Ice Cream Shop, the new dairy free flavors are available there now.

Bonafide Provisions

Bonafide Provisions came out with incredible Keto broths, and the one with lemon, turmeric, coconut and MCT oils was to die for. I think I went by their booth everyday to snag a cup. I’ve been a longtime fan of their clean, nourishing broths and this new Keto focused launch surely did not disappoint. Bonafide also did a beautiful packaging re-brand which will be in stores soon!

Soozy’s Grain Free

Soozy’s has incredible, grain-free muffins that can be found in the freezer section of your grocery store. I get mine at my local Kroger, and they can be found at any of the Kroger brand stores. They came out with grain-free DONUTS this year which tasted just as amazing as their muffins.

Naturally Clean Eats

When I make a bar recommendation, you know it it means that I really love them because I am not the biggest bar girl. I absolutely loved the bars from Naturally Clean Eats; they are clean, vegan, gluten-free, and most importantly they do not require refrigeration. The owner, Jessica, could not be sweeter which is always a plus! She sells delicious flavors like Spiced Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and just recently came out with a new Oatmeal Raisin bar which launches in May. Her packaging is stunning and I can’t wait to bring these with me on the go.

Vital Farms

The Vital Farms brand is truly an awesome one to me as they are super transparent with their practices, their mission, etc. I am pumped that they are launching a Ghee butter as it is something that I highly enjoy cooking with. The new ghees are definitely going to be as stellar as the rest of their line!

Culina Yogurt

Another one of my favorite Expo finds was the dairy free yogurt from Culina Yogurt. Their delicious plant based yogurt is sold in mini plant pots which is super environmentally friendly and could not be cuter. It is hard to come across a creamy, delicious plant based yogurt and Culina completely nailed it. Culina’s flavors are: Plain and Simple, Bourbon Vanilla, Strawberry Rose, and Blueberry Lavender. They are super unique and I’m so excited that I will be able to purchase these in Sprouts soon!

Fourth and Heart

The current ghee brand that I use and love, Fourth and Heart, launched a new turmeric ghee and it is delicious. They also launched ghee-based protein bars which were great. I had never tried their chocolate ghees before, but I will now definitely be purchasing them going forward. Yum!

Beanfield’s

Beanfields carries a line of delicious bean-based chips with awesome flavors. I love the texture of their chips and they are definitely quite addicting. On top of their already amazing line, they debuted their new flavors at the show that are made with a base of white beans. The chips are a little lighter and come in Salt and Vinegar, Spicy Queso, Himalayan Pink Salt, Jalapeno Lime and Cheddar.

I hope you enjoyed! If you have any specific questions about any of the products or companies listed, please do not hesitate to reach out!

xo,

Cori