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/

 

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

 

Mood Boosting Foods

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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 mineral selenium. 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.

Also 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. 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

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.

Minerals: Tiny But Important Nutrients

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When we are talking about nutrition, essential minerals are chemical compounds that your body absorbs through food so that it can function at it’s best. Minerals perform many important tasks in the body – they help your muscles, brain, and entire central nervous system run. They help your metabolism, impact hormone regulation and build bones.

Simply put, you need them, but many people don't get enough.

Although I recommend taking some high quality supplements (See my recommendations HERE), as part of your health and wellness plan, the best sources for minerals are from whole foods, so you can take them as nature intended.

Here are some of the essential minerals (and foods that contain them) you'll want to focus on getting into your diet:

  • Calcium: Green leafy vegetables kale, dairy products, almonds, chickpeas, dried fruit, flaxseeds, broccoli, bok choy, watercress.
  • Iron: Most organic, grass-fed meats, seafood, beans, dark, leafy vegetables, raisins, dried apricots, peas. 
  • Potassium: Avocado, squash, spinach, sweet potato, wild-caught salmon, dried apricots, coconut water, white beans, bananas.
  • Sodium: All vegetables, dairy products, meat, shellfish, salted nuts, table salt, and my favorites--sea salt and himalayan pink salt.
  • Magnesium: Spinach, chard, pumpkin seeds, brown rice, black beans, yogurt or kefir, almonds, dark chocolate (yay!), avocado, figs, banana.
  • Phosphorous: Pumpkin seeds, organic meats, dairy, tofu, lentils and beans, tempeh.
  • Sulfur: Arugula, coconut juice, milk, or oil, cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, radish, watercress), dairy, garlic, dried fruits, eggs, legumes and dried beans.
  • Chloride: table salt or sea salt, tomatoes, rye, seaweed, olives, lettuce, celery.

And here is some good news if you enjoy a glass of wine....Wine (red and white) contains all 13 of the minerals necessary to sustain human life? Mineral waters also contain most, if you're not a drinker!

Starting today, make sure you include more mineral-rich whole and organic items in your shopping cart. Foods like kale, dried apricots, nuts, beans, and others, contain a lot of minerals……So load up on these!

Note for my vegetarian and vegan friends:  Adding vitamin C-containing food with your iron-containing food can help you absorb it. For example, if you make a spinach salad, throw in some fresh orange slices, or toss your sauteed kale in fresh lemon juice.

 

3 Must Eat Breakfast Foods

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Protein is essential for good health, and getting enough in the morning can set you up for a productive day filled with great food choices.

In addition to contributing to building muscle, protein provides energy (for both important meetings and chasing toddlers). It also fills you up, so you’ll feel satiated from the get-go and won’t overeat later in the day.

So I'm going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some nutrient rich veggies and heart healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.

 

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Eggs really are all they’re cracked up to be......cholesterol and all!

First, they’re an excellent source of protein for both meat eaters and vegetarians. Eggs also contain important nutrients that can be difficult to include in your diet.

Choline, for example, is a cousin to the B vitamins and is needed to make a neurotransmitter that’s key to learning and memory. Studies also show it can help protect against cognitive decline and dementia and that people who eat more have lower anxiety levels. The bad news: the vast majority of Americans don’t get enough in their diet.

The good news: Egg yolks are the most concentrated source you can find of Choline.

Eggs are also rich in B12, a nutrient that is important for immunity and energy. A deficiency can lead to feeling tired and weak 24-7 (and you definitely don’t have time for that).

 

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast.

Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you're running late in the mornings.  Grab a handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds and an apple or orange as you're running out the door; you can nosh on them while you're commuting.

Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter, chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds into your morning breakfast smoothie.

Delicious Tip: If you like a latte in the mornings try making one with nut butter.  Just add your regular coffee, a splash of almond milk , 1 teaspoon coconut oil, and a tablespoon of cashew butter or almond butter into your blender & blend until frothy. 

 

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies.

Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water.  You can't go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don't already you should definitely try them for breakfast!

And no, you don't need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don't want to but you totally can!  Adding some protein to veggies is a great combination for any meal.  Including breakfast.

 

Need a recipe to pull it all together?  Try making my Veggie Egg Muffins

 

What To Eat For Gorgeous Skin!

Friends,

Winter is here and for a lot of us that can mean extra dry skin!  If you are like me, you want radiant, glowing,  youthful skin......and good nutrition plays an important role!

Studies show that certain foods have the power to nourish and hydrate skin from the inside out. By changing up our diet in the winter to focus on these hydrating foods, we not only achieve a healthy glow, but also reap the benefits of boosted immunity and energy levels. So what are these magical foods to keep our skin glowing and fresh?

  1. Avocados: loaded with Vitamin C, E, and monounsaturated fats, avocados help our skin lock in moisture and increase blood circulation. The folic acid in avocados also improves the skin’s appearance.
  2. Orange fruits + veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, red peppers, pumpkin, papaya, mangos): vegetables and fruit of the orange/yellow variety are packed with beta-carotene, an antioxidant known for fighting dry skin and protecting it from sun damage. Many of these fruits and vegetables also have Vitamin C and A which repair body tissue and produce collagen.
  3. Fish and Fish Oil:  Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids, the nutrients from fish and fish oil not only protect the heart, but can improve skin color and radiance, reduce the redness caused by rosacea, protect against the sun’s damaging rays and boost hair quality.
  4. Spinach: rich in iron, omega-4 fatty acids, and vitamins A/B/E. All of these are a great source to protect skin and improve the immune system while also providing hydrating qualities too.
  5. Nuts + seeds: with omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A/B/E, monounsaturated fats, and a load of antioxidants, nuts and seeds are a surefire way to hydrate our skin. All of these elements promote the skin’s elasticity and help regenerate cells, which in turn fight against pollutants and free radicals.
  6. And of course……. Drink lots of water!  Drinking 8-10 glasses of water and tea per day can help flush out toxins, prevent the skin from drying, increase cell turnover and keep you skin looking hydrated and fresh.  Herbal teas are a great way to stay hydrated or you can choose a green tea variety to help reduce inflammation for extra beautification.

4 Minute Plank Workout: Tabata

4 Minute Plank Workout:  Tabata

Wondering how on earth you can get a workout done in 4 minutes flat?  The answer is simple:  TABATA.  It’s an interval workout of 20 seconds of maximum effort, followed by 10 seconds of rest, for 8 cycles.  The result:  A quick, super intense workout in just minutes!

This Tabata workout is made up of 4 different plank exercises.  Complete each set of 4 exercises twice.  During the 10 seconds of rest, you can either rest in "child's pose" or hold a plank

The best way to do Tabata is with exercises that target your whole body – which is why I love these 4 plank moves.  They are perfect for firing up all of your muscles, especially your core.

Tabata: 20 Seconds Work | 10 Seconds Rest X 8 from lisacohenfitness.com

 

Want to lose weight, get healthy, and transform your life? Sign up today for my FREE Breakthrough Consultation. 

 

 

Legs Legs Legs

Want a good way to tone your legs and strengthen your core without having to lift heavy weights?

Photo by kaspiic/iStock / Getty Images

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 combines a high intensity interval component, one superset and one giant set.  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.


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


Yoga For Busy People

It is well known that there are many benefits to having a regular yoga practice. Many of my clients have the best intentions for fitting yoga into their day, but sometimes a busy life can get in the way. We are all in different phases of life, whether juggling work, school, kids, errands or household responsibilities and sometimes, yoga is the last thing we have time for.

However, there are still ways to get your daily practice in, even if you only have 5 minutes.

1.   Practice deep breathing.  Place your hand on your lower stomach so you can connect deeper to your own breath and body, close your eyes and take deep breaths through the nose and into the belly. Breathe deeply.  You can practice deep breathing virtually anywhere; on road trips, commutes to and from work, on the airplane, bus or train.

2. Start small.  Start by incorporating a few poses at the end of your workout as part of your cool-down routine, just like you would stretching. Here are some great yoga poses for after workout. Hold each pose for 3-5 breaths.

 Click to zoom

Click to zoom

3. Sun salutations.  A great way to incorporate yoga into your day is to move through a few rounds of Sun Salutation. Sun Salutations awaken the energy in your body. This is an easy sequence of poses and is a great way to get out of your head and start to link mind, body and breath.

 Click to zoom + full workout

Click to zoom + full workout

4. Online classes.  Online classes have come a long way over the years and are an excellent resource. There are videos ranging from 15 minutes to 90 minutes – perfect to fit your individual needs or fitness level.  I love Yogaglo.  They have a wonderful line up of teachers and a huge variety of classes.

5.  Make it a priority.  As with anything, if you really want to do it, you have to make time for it. You have to make it a priority. If you are like me,  you might find it challenging to balance family life, career and health.  However, I make it a priority to practice yoga by carving out little chunks of time every day.  It is not all about the physical practice in my favorite yoga studio, (although that is a big part of it). It’s also taking time for myself and practicing mindfulness every day.