Creating A Mindset For Health

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Creating a Mindset for Health

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.

And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

Very interesting health mindset study

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren't less active!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?

There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.

Researchers don't know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset. So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.

Health mindset strategy 1 - Aim for good enough.

Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week. It's inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn't necessarily a great mindset to have.

It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt - none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.

So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.

Health mindset strategy 2 - Stop making tradeoffs

When you try to earn a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you're making a tradeoff. You're telling yourself that, as long as you're good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.

And that's not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You're controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. Just live as though you're trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. You're doing your best, and that's good enough.

Conclusion

Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.

Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.

How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282

 

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-health-decisions-mindsets-numbers-and-stories-201112123946

 

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating

Superfoods: Broccoli and Kale

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What Makes Broccoli and Kale Superfoods?

Broccoli and kale are often touted to be “superfoods.” And, yes, they really are amazingly healthy for you.

If you’re wondering what exactly is in these green powerhouses that makes them so “super,” I am diving into the research to give you some nerdy reasons to make these a staple in your diet.

To start, they're both considered cruciferous vegetables related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, and Brussels sprouts.

These superfoods have a ton of nutrition, and other health-promoting compounds, they're inexpensive and easy to cook too!

Super nutrition

Broccoli and kale are full of nutrition: vitamins, minerals, fibre, etc. They're both considered to be nutrient dense which is a measure of nutrients per calorie - and these both have a lot!

100 grams of broccoli (about 1 cup, chopped) contains:

● 34 calories

● 2.8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g fibre.

● Good source of B vitamins (when eaten raw)

● 100% of your daily vitamin C

● Almost 100% of your vitamin K

● Good source of manganese

● Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals

One cup of loosely packed kale contains:

● 8 calories

● 0.7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including omega-3), 1.4 g carbohydrates, and 0.6 g fibre.

● Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene).

● Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate (B9)

● Rich in vitamins C and K

● Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, and calcium

As you can see, these two foods contain a lot of nutrients.

NOTE: Too much vitamin K may interact with certain blood-thinning medications. If you're taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before incorporating too much of these superfoods into your diet.

Broccoli and kale also contain other health-promoting compounds.

Super health-promoting compounds

Broccoli and kale tend to taste a bit bitter - but that bitterness equals healthfulness!

This bitter flavor is from some of the health-promoting compounds in these super plant foods. Things like glucosinolates (e.g., sulforaphane and isothiocyanates) and polyphenol flavonols.

There are a few different types of kale - from curly kale, to dinosaur kale, to red/purple kale. The different colours result from slight differences in the amounts of the compounds these plants contain.

One of the main active ingredients in cruciferous vegetables are glucosinolates. These antioxidant compounds are very useful to help detoxify and protect against cancer.

FUN FACT: It's the precursors to glucosinolates that are in cruciferous vegetables, not the compounds themselves. When fresh broccoli and kale are eaten (or even chopped/blended) raw the active compounds are produced. *This fact is incorporated into a trick I use in this week’s recipe*

NOTE: Glucosinolates may affect iodine absorption and thyroid health, particularly in people prone to thyroid disease. In this case, you may not have to ditch these superfoods altogether - just cook them first.

These superfoods also contain flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and they decrease your risk of cancer.

Kale also contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health and are protective against many cancers.

When cooked, kale contains another anti-cancer compound called indole.

Conclusion

Broccoli and kale are cruciferous superfoods. They are packed with nutrition and have a whole array of health-promoting compounds.

Almost everyone should be eating these regularly. Just be cautious if you're taking blood-thinning medications; and, if you have thyroid issues, cook them first.

Do you, or anyone you know, absolutely love (or hate) these superfoods? Do you have a favorite recipe to share? Let me know in the comments below.


Broccoli & Kale Superfood Soup

Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped

  • 2 large handfuls kale

  • 4 stalks celery, chopped

  • 4 stalks broccoli chopped

  • 8 cups broth

  • ½ cup tahini

  • 2 tsp sea salt

    Instructions

Sautee garlic in olive oil in a large soup pot. At the same time do steps #2 and #3.

Add half of the raw kale, celery, and broccoli to your high-speed blender (in that order). Cover with up to 4 cups of broth and blend.

Pour soup into the pot with the sauteed garlic. Do the same for the other half of the veggies and broth.

Heat soup and simmer for up to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Add tahini and sea salt. Stir well.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: If you want the soup to be extra creamy, you can re-blend after it's heated.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/broccoli/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2871?manu=&fgcd=&ds=

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/kale/

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/kale

https://www.thepaleomom.com/kale-superfood-and-delicious-too/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-broccoli-receptor-our-first-line-of-defense-2/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/second-strategy-to-cooking-broccoli/

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/crucifeous-vegetables#1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/broccoli#section1

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-proven-benefits-of-kale

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_phytochemicals_in_food#Polyphenols

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carotenoid#Properties

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucosinolate#Humans_and_other_mammals

 

Leg Day!

Want a good workout to tone your legs and get burn fat at the same time?

This week I put together this dynamic workout for my clients, and although it was hard, it was also fun, fast moving and extremely effective.

This workout is made up of three components:

1.High intensity interval: Box Jumps

2. Superset: Prisoner Squats + Leg Curl

3. Giant set: Split Lunge + Hip Adduction + Plank

HIIT is a training technique in which you give all-out, one hundred percent effort through quick, intense bursts of exercise, followed by short, recovery periods. This type of training gets and keeps your heart rate up and burns more fat in less time.

A superset is when you perform 2 exercises back-to-back, a giant set is 3 exercises back-to-back.  This is a great way to build muscle, prevent boredom and save time. Because the exercises are performed without rest, they also keep your heart rate up giving you both an aerobic and anaerobic workout.

This Leg Day Workout is intended to be done at the gym, but can easily be modified for a home workout.

Scroll down for video instruction on each exercise and a printable version of the entire workout!


HIIT

Box Jumps X 10   VIDEO

 

Repeat for 2-3 sets, Rest 1 minute between sets


Superset

Prisoner Squat X 10   VIDEO

Leg curl on Swiss ball X 20   VIDEO

 

Repeat for 2-3 sets, 1 minute rest between sets, no rest between exercises


Giant Set

Alternating Split Lunge Jump X 20   VIDEO

Hip Adduction X 20   VIDEO

Plank for 45 seconds  VIDEO

 

Repeat for 2-3 sets, 1 minute rest between sets, no rest between exercises


Click here for a printout of the entire workout!

Eating For Beauty

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When it comes to beautiful, radiant skin - "You are what you eat!”

As a matter of fact, your diet as a vital part of your healthy skincare routine, gaining a glowing complexion, and as an aid in slowing down the aging process.

What to Eat for Healthy Skin

There are so many signs and symptoms that tell us that the skin is not as healthy as it should be: dullness, dryness, redness, blemishes, etc.

Healthy skin is a reflection of internal health. There are many creams and cosmetics to put on top of your skin. But, there are also lots of things you can do to nurture and nourish your skin to better health from the inside.

How better to do this than with food?

Your skin needs many nutrients: water, essential fats, vitamins, and amino acids. Here are five foods (and drinks and lifestyle tips) I highly recommend if your goal is healthier-looking skin. As a bonus, I have included a short list of some key foods to consider avoiding.

Let’s dive in.

Skin Food #1 - Water

The skin is about 70% water, so it makes sense that we should keep our daily water intake high to maintain healthy skin. But beyond that, we need water for metabolism, nutrient absorption, elimination and circulation—all of which have a major impact on our skin.

My top picks for healthy hydration are filtered water (add fresh lemon, ginger, cucumbers and herbs for more of an antioxidant boost!) and herbal teas, especially green tea.

Skin Food #2 - Fish, especially wild salmon

Fish contains many nutrients important for skin health - omega-3s, and vitamins A and D to name a few.

Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory to help cool the flames of inflammation. Vitamin A can help with blemishes and dryness, while vitamin D helps with skin tone.

Skin Food #3 - Bell peppers, citrus fruits, and broccoli

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body. It’s also known to help our skin stay firm and supple.

Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen. So foods rich in vitamin C are great for your skin. Cue: bell peppers, citrus, and broccoli.

NUTRITION FACT: Overcooking vitamin C-rich foods can destroy some of the skin-supporting vitamins. So, try having these lightly steamed or raw for maximum vitamin C levels.

Skin Food #4 - Bone broth

Homemade bone broth contains a lot of the amino acid glycine. Glycine is another essential component of the skin protein collagen.

Glycine helps speed the healing of the skin and the gut. Win-win.

Skin “Food” #5 - Sleep more & stress less

I know these aren’t exactly foods, but they’re an important part of naturally great skin. When we don’t sleep enough, or stress too much our body flips on systems that affect our whole body… including our skin.

Stress hormones can increase inflammation and lead to not-so-healthy looking skin. Prioritize sleep and stress management, and you can see results in your life, and in your skin.

Watch out for these foods

Some foods are allergenic or inflammatory. These can cause all sorts of issues in your body, including affecting your skin.

It's hard to come up with one list of inflammatory or allergenic foods for everyone. Each person is biochemically unique, so you may have to go through this and see what applies to you. There are a few common allergens that may be a good bet to eliminate from your diet.

The first is processed foods. These are pretty much not-so-good for everyone. And they can affect your health in so many ways, including how your skin looks & feels. Try ditching pre-packaged and fast foods in favour of whole foods as much as possible. Not just for your skin, for your whole body (and mind).

The second is gluten. While only a small number of people have serious reactions to gluten (i.e., celiac disease), many more people are intolerant to it. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and a few other grains. Many people have had several health concerns, including skin issues, clear up after eliminating gluten from their diets.

Third in line is dairy. It could be a hormonal response or even an insulin response. We don't quite know why, but many people who cut out dairy report better skin.

Conclusion

Skin health is not just about what you put on your skin, but what your skin gets from the inside too. There are lots of important nutrients and foods to help support healthy skin. Which also means, that there are lots of foods that can affect your skin in negative ways as well.

Hydrating, eating nutrient dense whole foods, and avoiding common allergenic and inflammatory foods might make all the difference for you.

Do you have an awesome recipe or tips for people to eat more of these “skin-healthifying” foods? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Omega-3 vitamin C rich) Salmon Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Salmon Salad Serves 2

  • 6 - 8 ounce salmon filet

  • sea salt and pepper

  • fresh lemon juice

  • 4 cups baby spinach, arugula, mixed greens

  • 1 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes

  • ½ large cucumber, chopped

Lemon Vinaigrette

  • ⅔ cup olive oil

  • ⅓ cup fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl or shake in a resealable jar to emulsify; season with salt and pepper.

Instructions:

Season the salmon with salt and pepper and bake in 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

Prepare the lemon vinagrette

Remove the salmon from the oven and add a squeeze of fresh lemon

Place 2 cups of greens into each of 2 bowls. Top with veggies and salmon and a drizzle of dressing.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with a large mug of green tea for an extra skin-supporting bonus.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/beautiful-skin/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/overcoming-medical-dogma-eczema/

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-acne-nutrition

https://www.healthline.com/health/4-best-vitamins-for-skin#VitaminD2

https://chriskresser.com/nutrition-for-healthy-skin-part-1/

https://www.healthline.com/health/ways-to-boost-collagen

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen

 

Tips For A Healthier Thyroid

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The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your neck that releases hormones. Thyroid hormones help your body regulate a few things - not a big deal - just the metabolism of ALL cells. And this is critical for maintaining a healthy body weight and having the energy to live your life.

(Yes, your thyroid IS a big deal!)

It’s estimated that at least 3.7% of US adults have an underactive thyroid.

When you don’t have enough thyroid hormone, it’s called hypothyroidism. This can result in the slowing down of your metabolism and cause difficulty losing weight; and even weight gain. Some of the other symptoms can include fatigue, forgetfulness, dry hair and skin, constipation, muscle cramping, and feeling cold.

An underactive thyroid can be diagnosed from a blood test from your health professional.

How does the thyroid become underactive?

There are many reasons why your thyroid may become underactive. The most common is autoimmunity, where the immune cells attack other cells in the body. In this case, the cells of the thyroid gland.

It can also be the result of low levels of iodine, which is an essential mineral. Combining that with high levels of goitrogens (food substances that inhibit iodine from getting into thyroid) and you can be at risk for an iodine deficiency.

NOTE: Iodine-deficiency is not very common in the developed world, so supplements are likely not necessary, and may exacerbate certain thyroid issues. Check with your healthcare professional before taking supplements, and always read the label.

Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips For Healthier Thyroid:

Iodine - Iodine is naturally found in fish and seafood. Other foods that contain iodine are navy beans, potatoes, and eggs. Sometimes levels of natural iodine depend on the amount of iodine in the soil. Iodine is also added (i.e., fortified) to some foods.

Seaweeds—like kelp, dulse, and nori—are packed full of iodine for your body to transform into hormones. They also usually contain a lot of other beneficial nutrients, like calcium, potassium, and Vitamins A through E, so the stuff is truly the superfood you’re missing out on.

NOTE:: During pregnancy and breastfeeding iodine requirements increase by up to 60%, so pay attention to eat enough iodine-containing foods.

Selenium - There is evidence that selenium (another essential mineral) can support the thyroid. A recent review of several clinical studies showed that there is not enough evidence to recommend selenium supplements to people with certain thyroid conditions. Because of this, it’s best to stick with selenium-rich foods like Brazil nuts, mushrooms, meat, and fish.

1-2 Brazil Nuts packs enough selenium to meet your recommended daily allowance.

Protein - One of the common symptoms of thyroid issues is the inability to lose weight. If this is the case, one thing you can eat more of is protein. Protein has a "thermogenic effect" because your body has to spend energy metabolizing protein; this means that protein has a metabolism raising effect.

Reduce goitrogens - Goitrogens are plant-estrogens that prevent the iodine in your blood from getting into your thyroid where it's needed to make thyroid hormones. Goitrogens themselves are not that powerful, unless they're eaten excessively, or are combined with a diet already low in iodine. They are found in "cruciferous" foods such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale. Goitrogens can be deactivated by cooking the foods they're found in. Because these cruciferous vegetables are very nutritious, you may choose to cook them instead of eliminating them altogether.

Go Gluten-free - There is evidence of a link between underactive thyroid and gluten sensitivity. There may be a "cross-reactivity" where the immune cells that are sensitized to gluten can attack the thyroid cells by mistake; this is essentially how autoimmunity works and can affect more than just your thyroid. You might request getting tested for celiac disease if you are experiencing thyroid issues.

Avoid Triclosan - Triclosan is a common ingredient in many soaps and body washes, but it may have an adverse effect on your thyroid. A study published in Aquatic Toxicology in 2006 showed that even minor exposure to the chemical can affect how your thyroid releases hormones. Luckily, In December of 2017, the FDA issued a ruling banning over-the-counter products containing triclosan.

Take Up Yoga - A study in Yoga Mimamsa found that doing certain yoga poses can help your thyroid hormone release functions. During your next routine, try incorporating poses like boat pose, bridge, and king pigeon pose. These poses help to open up throat circulation and improve energy flow around the thyroid.

Lifestyle upgrades - Weight gain and difficulty losing weight are very common when it comes to thyroid issues. To maintain a healthy weight, it’s important to get enough regular exercise, enough quality sleep, and reduce stress.

Conclusion

If you have concerns about your thyroid, then ask to be tested. That along with testing for celiac disease can help to confirm your best plan to move forward in good health.

Foods to support your thyroid include iodine- and selenium-containing foods, cooked cruciferous foods, and gluten-free foods. Don't forget to eat enough protein to help boost your metabolism. Also, consider reducing the amount of raw cruciferous foods you eat.

Supplementing with iodine or selenium should be done with a health professional’s advice.

And regular exercise, quality sleep, and stress-reduction are all part of the holistic approach to supporting your thyroid.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-thyroid

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/the-best-diet-for-an-underactive-thyroid/

http://www.who.int/elena/titles/iodine_pregnancy/en/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/meal-plan-for-hypothyroidism-and-weight-loss/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/meal-plan-for-hypothyroidism-and-weight-loss-week-2

Protein: How Much Is Enough?

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Protein - How Much is Enough?

Protein is not just for great for muscle building, it's critical for your health and wellbeing. Without it, you wouldn't be able to repair tissue damage, digest food, fight infections, build bone, create hormones, and think clearly and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein's great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.

Protein is important, and this is a given.

There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. In this blog, I go through those calculations with you. Then I list the amount of protein in some common foods.

How much protein is enough?

There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.

Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.36 g/lb) per day.

So, for a 150 lb healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.

Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It may be not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It's not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 0.6 g/lb per day.

Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that's common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.

How much protein is too much?

As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its "thermic effect." The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories). More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

BTW: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.

How much protein is in food?

  • 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g protein.

  • 3.5 oz of salmon has 20 g protein.

  • ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g protein.

  • large egg contains 6 g protein.

  • ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g protein.

  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds has 14 g protein

  • medium baked potato contains 3 g protein.

Conclusion

Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.8 - 1.3 g/kg (0.36 - 0.6 g/lb) per day. If you're a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you're an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.

Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it's best to find the right amount for you!

I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe (high-protein): Baked Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

  • 4 chicken breasts, bone in

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp pepper

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp paprika

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a layer of parchment paper on a baking dish.

Place the chicken breasts in the prepared dish. Brush on both sides with olive oil.

In a small bowl, mix spices until combined. Sprinkle the spice mixture evenly over the chicken on both sides.

Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through to at least 165°F at the thickest part.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with lots of veggies.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/do-you-eat-enough-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/

 

Turmeric: Is It Really A Miracle Spice?

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Turmeric - Is it Really a Miracle Spice?

Turmeric is a rhizome that grows under the ground like ginger. It has a rich, bright orange color and is used in many foods. Originally used in Southeast Asia, it’s a vital component for traditional curries. You can find dried powdered turmeric in the spice aisle of just about any grocery store. Sometimes they carry the fresh rhizome too (it looks like ginger root, but smaller and orange).

Turmeric contains an amazing anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound called "curcumin.” The amount of this bioactive compound is around 3-7% by weight of turmeric. Curcumin has been studied like crazy for its health benefits. Many of these studies test curcumin at up to 100x more than that of a traditional diet that includes turmeric.

Health benefits of curcumin

There are dozens of clinical studies using curcumin extract (which is way more concentrated than ground turmeric).

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound. It fights inflammation at the molecular level. Some studies even show it can work as well as certain anti-inflammatory medications (but without the side effects).

Curcumin is an antioxidant compound. It can neutralize free radicals before they wreak havoc on our biomolecules. Curcumin also boosts our natural antioxidant enzymes.

These two functions of reducing inflammation and oxidation have amazing health benefits. Chronic inflammation plays a major role in so many conditions. Including heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, dementia, mood disorders, arthritis pain, etc.

Curcumin has other amazing functions too:

● Boosts our levels of "Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor" (like a natural growth hormone for your brain) which is great for brain health.

● Improves “endothelial” function” (the inner lining of our blood vessels) which is great for heart health.

● Reduces growth of cancer cells by reducing angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis ( the spread of cancer), and even contributes to the death of cancer cells.

How to get the most out of your turmeric

Curcumin is not easily absorbed by your gut. For one thing, it’s fat soluble. So, as with fat-soluble nutrients (like vitamins A, D, E, and K), you can increase absorption by eating it with a fat-containing meal.

The second trick to get the most out of your turmeric is eating it with pepper. Interestingly, a compound in black pepper (piperine) enhances absorption of curcumin, by a whopping 2,000%!

If you want the health benefits of curcumin, you need to get a larger dose of than just eating some turmeric; this is where supplements come in.

Before you take a curcumin supplement, take caution if you:

● Are pregnant

● Are taking anti-platelet medications or blood thinners

● Have gallstones or a bile duct obstruction

● Have stomach ulcers or excess stomach acid
Always read the label before taking a new supplement.

Conclusion

Turmeric is a delicious spice, and it’s “active ingredient” curcumin is a great health-booster.

Curcumin has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which are great to bust chronic inflammation. It also has other amazing health benefits, like brain- and heart-boosting properties, and even cancer-fighting properties.

Curcumin supplements can be great for your health, but they're not for everyone. Check the label or speak with your practitioner before taking it.

Try my version of “golden milk,” and let me know how you like it in the comments below.


Recipe: Golden Milk with Turmeric

Serves 2

  • 2 cup almond/cashew/coconut milk

  • 1 ½ tsp turmeric, ground

  • ¼ tsp cinnamon, ground

  • ¼ tsp ginger, ground

  • pinch of black pepper

  • 1 tsp honey

Instructions

Blend all ingredients together in a high speed blender until smooth.

Warm over medium heat, whisking frequently. Heat until hot, but not boiling.

Pour into a mug & enjoy!


The Scoop On Multi-Vitamins

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Multivitamins are exactly what they sound like: multiple vitamins. They're supplements that contain several different vitamins in each one. They can also contain minerals and other ingredients like amino acids or fatty acids. And because there are multiple ingredients, there usually provide a very low dose of each ingredient.

There are 13 vitamins and at least 16 minerals that are essential to health. You need certain amounts of all of these nutrients for optimal health. In fact, nutrient deficiencies can impact immunity, reproduction, growth, hormone balance and many other important processes in your body.

You may have heard or read on the internet that if you follow a "balanced diet," you'll definitely get enough vitamins and minerals. But the truth is, many people in the US are nutrient deficient.

Do multivitamins work?

So, what exactly do we know about the health benefits of multivitamins?

Here’s a quick summary of the science:

● Multivitamin use is linked with improved moods. Interestingly, if someone has nutrient deficiencies, they may have mood imbalances. So, if the multivitamin addresses an underlying deficiency, this makes sense.

● In terms of memory and cognitive performance (ability to think), there seems to be an improvement in people who regularly take multivitamins.

● In terms of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, there seems to be a slight improvement.

● In terms of heart disease, the results are mixed. There may be an increase, or a decrease, or no effect on risk of heart attacks.

● In terms of cancer, there is a slightly reduced risk of certain cancers in men.

● In terms of mortality (death), there doesn't seem to be a clear increase or decrease in mortality rates for people who take multivitamins.

So the evidence is clear that multivitamins aren’t a magical “good health and vitality pills” They’re not guaranteed to improve your mental or physical health, or help you live longer; but, they do have some health benefits.

Are multivitamins safe?

Just about every study that looked to see if multivitamins were health-promoting, also looked at side effects. They have consistently shown that multivitamins are very safe.

Super high doses of some nutrients can be harmful, but multivitamins are safe for most people. Unless you have a knowledgeable practitioner advise otherwise, you want to stick to the dose on the label.

However, it is not uncommon for some supplements to have been tested and found to contain different ingredients than what's on the label. Sometimes they contain ingredients that are not good for your healthy.

Always check labels and avoid products with the following ingredients:

  • Magnesium Stearate

  • Artificial Coloring or Flavoring (especially in children's viramins!)

  • Titanium Dioxide

  • Magnesium Silicate

  • Anything in a propyl or ethyl group

  • GMO’s

Choosing supplements that are from reputable companies is so important. When shopping for supplements, there are a few things you can keep an eye out for to help ensure that your supplements are free of synthetic additives.

Here are some things you can do:

  • Research ingredients that are banned in Europe, since they have stricter food regulation laws there.

  • Buy non-GMO, organic and vegan where possible or necessary.

  • Buy pure whenever possible – bulk powders, pure liquids and capsules (rather than tablets) are less likely to contain harmful ingredients.

  • Have a conversation! Any solid business – whether it’s the supplier or the actual manufacturer – should be happy to answer your questions.

  • Be extra careful when buying “cheap” products online – if something is unusually inexpensive, it probably means it just has less of the actual substance in the package to begin with.

Conclusion

Multivitamins are not a short cut to optimal health. There is limited evidence that they improve health for most people. But there are some benefits.

Since they contain low doses of many different nutrients, they're also safe (as long as you are taking a high quality product.)

Of course, taking a multivitamin is not going to overcome the negative effects of a poor diet. I always recommend eating a balanced diet of whole foods with lots of nutrients coming from complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Check out my Superfood Salad recipe below! It is chockful of nutritional goodness!

Recipe: Lisa’s Superfood Salad

Serves 2

  • 2 handfuls of dark greens (e.g. kale, spinach, arugula, etc.)

  • ½ cucumber, chopped

  • 1 avocado, chopped

  • 1 bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 carrot, grated

  • 2 handfuls grape tomatoes

  • 1 handful fresh blueberries

  • 2 Tbls hemp seeds

  • 2 Tbls sunflower seeds

  • 2 Tbls pepitas

Salad Dressing:

  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard

  • 2 tsp honey or maple syrup

  • 1 dash salt

  • 2 dashes black pepper

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

Make the dressing by whisking together the vinegar, mustard, honey/maple syrup, salt, and pepper. Slowly drizzle in olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Pour over salad before serving.

Top with salmon, shrimp, chicken or beef for added protein

Serve & enjoy!

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/do-multivitamins-work/

http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0022955/

 

How To Improve Your Gut Health

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Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

And while this may sound like an over simplification, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

Our gut’s role in our overall health

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

How to improve gut health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

Conclusion

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

For best results you will need Fermenting Jars  or "fermenting weights", to keep the carrots submerged in the brine.

Serves 12

  • 1 L warm water
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)
     

Instructions:

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can order fermenting jars on the link above, or use a "fermenting weight")

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

Serve & enjoy as a side dish or snack

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

 

Food And Your Mood

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No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  While we don't know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (the major ones that regulate mood are serotonin, dopamine, gaba and norepinephrine). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings.

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the minerals selenium, magnesium, and zinc. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you're eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

First: Pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in very many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. In fact, 2 brazil nuts provide more than your recommended daily dose of selenium.  Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second: Make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body's main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal.  (organic choices of animal protein and plant protein)

Third: Complex carbohydrates like sweet potato, quinoa, and whole grains are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone).

Fourth: Fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

INTERESTING FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3  fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behavior by 50%.

Last: But not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say sugar and processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a diet high in sugar and processed foods can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent!

But, have you ever noticed that some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily?

Food companies study how to maximize the "pleasure" centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste can light up our taste buds and make us feel good…....Temporarily.

A few other things to avoid if you are experiencing low moods:

●      Alcohol (nervous system depressant)

●      Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)

●      Sugar (worth mentioning again.......messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

Conclusion

Can a good diet replace medicine or therapy? Not for everyone. But people at risk for depression should pay attention to the food they eat. It really doesn’t matter if you need an antidepressant or not. A healthy diet may work even when other treatments fail. And at the very least, it can serve as a supplemental treatment—one with no bad side effects, unlike antidepressants—that also has a giant upside.

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. It can be a vicious cycle. If you need a mood boost, stick to nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (especially leafy greens), nuts and seeds, green tea, eggs, fish, organic poultry and grass-fed beef.  Take a break from the common mood-busting foods like processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

 

Recipe:  Mood Boosting Fig and Ricotta Toast

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Ingredients for 1 serving

  1. 1 slice crusty whole-grain bread

  2. 2 tbls ricotta cheese

  3. 1 fresh fig

  4. 1 teaspoon sliced almonds, toasted

  5. 1 teaspoon honey

  6. Pinch of sea salt

Toast bread. Top with ricotta cheese, figs and almonds. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sea salt.

5 Cholesterol Myths It's Time To Stop Believing

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For a long time, doctors and dietitians’ advice was to skip high-cholesterol foods.

But just like we discovered that eating fats doesn’t always make you fat (yay!), research increasingly confirms that cholesterol in food doesn’t necessarily raise cholesterol levels in your blood. We’ve known this for a while, but I still get this question from clients and readers. (There’s also lots of new evidence on how saturated fat affect cholesterol, which I’ll definitely get into in another post, soon.)

Before we jump into some myths let's make sure we're on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol

While cholesterol is an actual molecule what it is bound to while it's floating through your blood is what's more important than just how much of it there is overall.  In fact depending on what it's combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart.  Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood.  These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

They're grouped into two main categories:

●      HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.

●      LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).

And yes, it's even more complicated than this.  Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn't simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it's bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad

Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats.  Not to mention that it's incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn't nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol

Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver.  It's actually not from the cholesterol you eat.  Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)?  'Cause that's where it's made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces.  After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn't need to make as much.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible

As with almost everything in health and wellness there's a balance that needs to be maintained.  There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance

Don't start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol they don't seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?  Nutrition and exercise!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies.  I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day.  Every day.

Don't worry the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.

You can (should?) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats.  That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil.  Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

Summary:

The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we're learning more every day.  You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are.  And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

Recipe (Dressing to go with your salad): Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

  • ½ cup hemp seeds
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • dash salt and/or pepper

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.  Serve on top of your favorite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge.  Will keep for about a week.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol

http://summertomato.com/how-to-raise-your-hdl-cholesterol

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/

 

 

 

3 Tips For Kicking Your Sugar Habit

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I know the thought of quitting sugar can be scary. But I promise, it’s not as daunting as it sounds.

In fact, my 5 Day Sugar Free Challenge is designed to gently ease you into a sugar-free life. By filling your diet up with delicious veggies, fats and proteins, we gradually help break your sugar addiction so you can get back to what your body truly needs to feel it’s best.

Ready to (gently) kickstart your sugar-free life? These three tips are so easy to incorporate that you won’t even know you’re detoxing.

1. Eat Real, Whole Food.

When you stop eating sugar you start eating real, whole foods just like our grandparents did. When you eliminate sugar, you’re eliminating processed food. Cutting out the crap from your diet gives you a total body reset.

Many packaged foods are full of hidden sugars.  Simple changes like focusing on fresh produce, avoiding store-bought sauces and making your lunch can lead to big results.

2. Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.

Avoiding juiced fruits is a small but significant step towards quitting sugar for good.

Liquid sugar, even from an apparently healthy source, can overload your body's natural detoxification system. The liver stores excess fructose that it can’t break down in the form of triglycerides, which can lead to insulin resistance.

Drink water or green tea during the day. I usually recommend 60-80 ounces of water and 1-2 cups of green tea daily.

Eat 2-3 pieces of whole fruit for an easy way to reduce your daily sugar intake without even really trying.

4. Rethink breakfast.

Cereals may promise to get your day off to a healthy start, but many popular brands contain up way to much sugar. (Check the label)

Start your mornings with veggies (spinach, kale, mushrooms) with a side of protein like eggs and add some fat like a 1-2 tablespoons of walnuts or sliced avocado.

My Supercharged Avocado Toast totally hits the mark!

Supercharged Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

  •  1 Avocado
  • 1 Cup White Navy Beans (cooked)
  • ¼ Lemon (juiced)
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt
  • 4 slices Whole Grain, Organic Bread
  • 1/4 cup Hemp Seeds

Directions:

In a bowl, mash the avocado, white beans, lemon juice and sea salt together with a fork. Continue to mash until you get a guacamole-like consistency.

Divide the avocado bean mixture onto the toast. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and enjoy!

Hope you love it as much I do.

Yours in health, 
Lisa C.

Don't forget to check out my 5 day sugar-free challenge starting Monday.

Why Is My Metabolism Slow?

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“No matter what I do, I can't seem to lose weight. I think I'm cursed with a slow metabolism.”

I hear this often from my clients, and the good news is that no, you're not cursed and yes, you can fix your metabolism.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

●      low thyroid hormone

●      your history of dieting

●      your size and body composition

●      your activity level

●      lack of sleep

We'll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low Thyroid Hormones:

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body.  Diets that restrict calories below 1000 per day can slow down your metabolism.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.

However, you already know that unless you are severely under weight, gaining weight is not a good strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

Tip: Do weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to...

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day and exercise regularly.  10,000 steps a day is the encouraged level of activity. 

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  Turn off your electronics an hour before bed.  Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.  Meditate, practice deep breathing, or take a hot epsom salt bath.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

 

 

Coffee - Good Or Bad?

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Coffee - Who can drink it and who should avoid it?

Coffee is one of those things - you either love it or hate it. (Do you love the taste, or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream.)

Not to mention the headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It's a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you're used to drinking.

NOTE:  Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.

Let's look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel "wired" for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is "fast" metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much - because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

●      Stimulates the brain

●      Boosts metabolism

●      Boosts energy and exercise performance

●      Increases your stress hormone cortisol

●      Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

●      Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)

●      Increased sleep disruption

●      Lower risk of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's

●      Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes

●      Lower risk of certain liver diseases

●      Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality")

●      Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

●      People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)

●      People who often feel anxious

●      People who have trouble sleeping

●      People who are pregnant

●      Children and teens

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

●      Give you the jitters?

●      Increase anxious feelings?

●      Affect your sleep?

●      Give you heart palpitations?

●      Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?

●      Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend cutting back to 1 cup or eliminating for 3 days.  Notice if you feel a difference in your symptoms.

Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 1

  • 3 tbsp coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin puree
  • ½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/coffee-good-or-bad/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/a-wake-up-call-on-coffee

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-your-coffee-habit-help-you-live-longer-201601068938

How To Improve Gut Health

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How to Improve Gut Health

 Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

Our gut’s role in our overall health

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

How to improve gut health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

Conclusion

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

Serves 12

  • 1 L warm water
  • 4 tsp salt
  • 4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)

Instructions:

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can use a "fermenting weight").

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

 

Simple Tips For Getting A Good Night's Sleep

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Have you said “bye bye” to the days when you used to sleep through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program?

Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

●      To restore our body and mind.  Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.

●      To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

●      To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.  For real!

Try not to skimp!

(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

Tips for better sleep

●      The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule.  Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  Seven. Days. A. Week.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

●      Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.

●      During the day get some sunshine and exercise.  These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert.  By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

●      Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm.  Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

●      Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off).  This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

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Serves 1-2

  • 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
  • 2 dates (optional)

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

Blend until creamy.

Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?

Metabolism 101

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What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

●      Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).

●      Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).

●      Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”. 

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

●      Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).

●      Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).

●      Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.  One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.

But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too! 

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial! 

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you're not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you. 

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. 

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don't forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 lemons, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
  • dash salt & pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F.  Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.  If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Could You Have A Food Intolerance?

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A food intolerance or "sensitivitiy" can affect you in many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I'm not talking about immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and consult with your doctor about medical treatment.

What I'm talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

●      Chronic muscle or joint pain

●      Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

●      Headaches or migraines

●      Exhaustion after a good night's sleep

●      Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's or rheumatoid arthritis

●      Rashes or eczema

●      Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is "foggy"

●      Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances.

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them. Get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it's worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances.

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

●      Lactose (in dairy  - eliminate altogether, or look for a "lactose-free" label - try nut or coconut milk instead).

●      Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains - look for a "gluten-free" label - try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it's a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" can affect up to 13% of people.

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

Click here to download a free copy of my Weekly Food Journal to help you track.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it's not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you'd never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

 

Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk

 Makes 3 cups

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2-4 madjool dates
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of sea salt

1.     Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).

2.     Dump soaking water & rinse almonds

3.     Add soaked almonds, dates and  3 1/2 cups waterto a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.

4.     Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary. (This takes some time, so be patient!)

5.  Whisk in the cinnamon and salt

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

 

References:

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

Joyful Joints

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Did you know that 30% of people over the age of 18 in the USA complain of joint pain?  Study

Are you one of them?

Joints are the junction where your bones come together and are connected by cartilage and connective tissues.  Common areas of pain in the joints are the sacrum, spine (low back, mid back and neck), hips, knees, ankles, shoulders, elbows, wrist, fingers, toes and jaw.

Joint pain, whether it stems from an old injury, accident or an inflammatory conditions like arthritis is common, but there is much you can do to avoid living with constant joint pain by focusing on proper exercise, nutrition and hydration. 

Stretching (also yoga) is one of the best exercises that can be healing and beneficial for your joints. It can keep your tissues hydrated, muscles long and lean, and your joints fully moveable.....referred to as full range of motion. When any of your joints gets restricted, through injury, lack of movement, or inflammation, then the whole body can be thrown off balance.

Here is what you can do to keep keep your joints heath and happy no matter what age you are:

  • Keep Moving.  Exercise daily or simply take a walk to stay active.
  • Nourish your body with a whole foods diet.  Include plenty of healthy fats (avocado, olives, olive oil, fish -especially salmon, nuts and seeds)
  • Take a high quality fish oil supplement
  • Stay Hydrated.  Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water daily.
  • Stretch or Do Yoga

Here is a Stretch Routine that will keep you fit and keep your joints happier all at the same time!

Enjoy!
Lisa C

 

Safer Skincare: 4 Harmful Chemicals To Avoid

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You may already know that beauty products can be a major source of our exposure to unhealthy chemicals. And since the skin is the body’s largest organ and absorbs most of what is put on it, we need to make sure all of our beauty products are healthy and non-toxic!

Here is an assignment I give to all of my health coaching clients.  Take the time today to count how many beauty products you are using.  I 'm talking about everything from your makeup bag to your shower.  Now read the labels on those products.  Look them up on the Environmental Working Group ( EWG)  Skin Deep Database to see how they rate for things like hormone disruption and toxicity. 

* The Environmental Working Group or EWG Skin Deep Cosmetics Database lets you search more than 62,000 products and rates them based on the ingredients listed on the label.  The EWG scores products on a scale of 1-10, with 1-2 being least hazardous. 3-6 being moderate hazard and 7-10 being high hazard.

Did You Know?

  • There are over 80,000 chemicals used in commercially available products. Many do not have any safety data.
  •  Only 10% of of the chemicals found in beauty products have safety data
  • The United States has not passed a federal law regulating what companies can put in personal care products since 1938
  • In the past 20 years the US has banned a mere 13 ingredients found in personal care products–the European union has banned 1,300.
  • Anything that you put on your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Consider that we use birth control patches, nicotine patches, and hormone creams because our skin acts as a conduit  to the rest of our body.
  •  Research has shown there is a connection between toxic chemicals exposure and disease.

Here is a list of a few of  the harmful chemicals that we know to avoid.  If you want to fast forward to see 5 very easy and natural beauty swaps that you can make today, CLICK HERE.

1. Triclosan

Found in: toothpaste, deodorant, antibacterial soap

Triclosan was all the rage as antibacterial products became ubiquitous in the 1990s. Even the FDA agrees that there is no health benefit to humans who use triclosan, and in 2013 ruled that manufacturers using it had to demonstrate that there were no long-term detrimental effects. Triclosan (in liquid products) and triclocarban (in bar soaps) have been linked to hormonal disruptions, bacterial resistance, impaired muscle function, impaired immune function and increased allergies. Instead, use naturally antibacterial and antiseptic agents like tea tree oil.

2. Parabens

Found in: makeup, moisturizer,  shampoo, personal lubricant and spray tan products

The FDA acknowledges several studies linking parabens, which mimic estrogen, to breast cancer, skin cancer and decreased sperm count, but has not ruled that it is harmful. According to the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, longer chain parabens like propyl and butyl paraben and their branched counterparts, isopropyl and isobutylparabens, may disrupt the endocrine system and cause reproductive and developmental disorders. Look for ingredients with the suffix “-paraben” as well—paraben-free products will be labeled as such.

3. “Fragrance”

Found in: moisturizers, deodorant, lotion, face cream, shampoo, conditioner

Federal law doesn’t require companies to list on product labels any of the chemicals in their fragrance mixture. Recent research from Environmental Working Group and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found an average of 14 chemicals in 17 name-brand fragrance products, none of them listed on the label. Fragrances can contain hormone disruptors and are among the top 5 allergens in the world. Our advice? Buy fragrance-free wherever possible.

4. Oxybenzone

Found in: sunscreen

Oxybenzone is one of the highest-risk chemicals found in sunscreen. It acts like estrogen in the body, alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women. Studies on cells and laboratory animals indicate that oxybenzone and its metabolites may disrupt the hormone system. Opt for sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium oxide or avobenzene instead.

I know that is a lot of information, but it’s important we all know the facts! Knowledge allows us to make confident, empowered decisions about the products we buy  Plus, it is easy to  avoid or reduce your exposure to these toxins with a few simple swaps to your beauty routine.  Check out my recommendations here:

Natural Beauty Swaps

If you are new to my website....Welcome and thanks for being here!  I specialize in helping women lose weight, balance hormones, and get healthy and fit so that they feel like the most vibrant version of themselves and have the energy to focus on what matters most to them. 

Shoot me an email I'd love to chat about your health and wellness goals.

Yours in health,
Lisa C.