The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial SweetenersWhat is the truth behind artificial sweeteners? You probably know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like in soda pop, candy, baked goods, and many commercially-available kinds of cereal, just to name a few.  Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store.

Yes, ingesting refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin, and increases your risk for a whole host of issues.

A while ago, one of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still taste great, was artificial sweeteners.

The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet pop” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will…

Types of artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.

Today we’ll specifically discuss “artificial sweeteners,” which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.

They’re also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” and include things like:

  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low),
  • Acesulfame potassium,
  • Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda)

Health effects of artificial sweeteners

Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, others don’t. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Heart disease? Maybe yes, maybe no. Not to mention that much of the research has been on animals, which may or may not translate to people.

I did want to point out one ironic thing, to do with artificial sweeteners and weight.

One study found that people who tend to drink diet sodas have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn’t.

Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.

While these results don’t apply equally to everyone, they do somehow seem ironic, don’t they?

How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies?

Now that’s a million-dollar question!

There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.

  • Is it because people feel that they can eat cake because they’ve switched to diet soda?
  • Perhaps it’s because the sweeteners change the taste preferences so that fruit starts to taste worse, and veggies taste terrible?
  • Maybe artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more (real) sweets?
  • It can be that the sweet taste of these sweeteners signals to our body to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we didn’t actually ingest sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, to the point where we get sugar cravings.
  • Some even say (and at least one animal study suggests) that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it.
  • Maybe there is even a more complex response that involves our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.

Conclusion:

Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace them all with artificial sweeteners.

I highly recommend reducing your sugar intake, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn’t overly sweet.  This way you’re reducing your intake of added sugar, as well as not needing to replace it with artificial sweeteners.

Try having ½ teaspoon less of sugar in your hot morning drink. Consider reducing a ¼ cup of the sugar called for in some recipes. Try diluting juice with water.

Your body will thank you!

Recipe (naturally sweetened): Sweet Enough Matcha Latte

Serves 1

  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • 1.5 cup almond milk, unsweetened
  • 1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (optional)
  1. Heat almond milk and maple syrup/honey (if using) in a small pot.
  2. Add matcha powder to cup.
  3. When almond milk is hot, add about a ¼ cup to matcha and stir to combine.
  4. Add rest of the milk to the cup.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can steep a chai tea bag in the milk if you prefer chai tea over matcha.

References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030

https://authoritynutrition.com/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar-insulin/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-splenda-is-it-safe

https://chriskresser.com/the-unbiased-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners/

DISCOVER THE HAPPY SIDE OF HEALTHY…ONE RECIPE AT A TIME.

Check out the Eat More Burn More cookbook and learn why it isn’t a diet. It isn’t a new health craze. It’s a way of eating healthy and delicious food that is GOOD for you. Food you can feel good about putting in your body. Oh, and the $9.95 price tag isn’t so bad either. I’ll even throw in free shipping.

Take the steps to eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet today for your best life!

Raw vs Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Raw vs Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

raw vs cookedLet’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs cooked.

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the raw vs cooked debate isn’t that critical for most people.

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.” As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).
Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.

Foods to eat raw

As a general rule, water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

The reason why is two-fold.

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade; this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water-soluble.” So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water? Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water; this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

But, how much loss are we talking about? Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

In short, the water-soluble vitamins include the vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

Soaking nuts and seeds

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

Foods to eat cooked

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.

One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked

Spinach!

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

Conclusion:

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked vegetables just make sure you eat them.

Recipe (cooked spinach): Sauteed Spinach

Serves 4

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bag organic baby spinach leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 dash sea salt
  • 1 dash black pepper
  • Fresh lemon

1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

 

10 ways to get the most nutrients from your food. Think raw is always best? Then you seriously need this.

Check out The 3 Healthiest Ways to Cook Your Vegetables

Hope that helps clear up the raw vs cooked debate?

It would be great to hear your thoughts on the raw vs cooked real food debate below?

Arugula, Portobello, & Feta Frittata Recipe

Arugula, Portobello, & Feta Frittata Recipe

frittataToday we wanted to share this delicious frittata recipe. Over the past few months, we have shared many different recipes in our blog posts. Today we will share a simple and delicious low carb recipe that is quick and easy healthy recipes.

Frittatas are often prepared in well-seasoned cast iron skillets or stainless steel ovenproof pans or cookware. We never recommend using a nonstick Teflon pan.

This savory stovetop frittata is easy to make and really versatile. The most difficult part is deciding whether you should enjoy it for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

Check out this Arugula, Portobello, & Feta Frittata Recipe:

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time:
20-25 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

6 whole eggs
¼ c. half & half
3 T. water
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 T. extra virgin olive oil
6 baby Portobellos, washed, gills removed, stems chopped, and caps cut into thin slices
2 handfuls arugula, washed and dried

6 cherry tomatoes, washed and cut in half
2 oz. Feta cheese, cut into equal-size chunks

Frittata Recipe Directions:

In a medium bowl, whisk together 6 eggs, half & half, water, sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper until blended. Set aside.

Add olive oil to a 10” non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat. Add Portobello mushroom slices and chopped stems and cook approximately 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the mushrooms are browned, remove 3 uniformly sized mushroom slices from the pan and set aside.

Add arugula to pan and stir constantly until wilted, approximately 1-2 minutes.

With a spoon, spread ingredients into a uniform layer across the bottom of the pan, ensuring an even distribution of mushrooms and arugula throughout. Pour egg mixture on top and let cook for 1-2 minutes, or until the egg begins to set on bottom.

Reduce heat to just above the “low” setting and cover. Cook 8-9 minutes, then remove the cover and arrange the 3 Portobello strips, cherry tomato halves, and Feta chunks in a decorative pattern, if desired. If not, simply scatter those ingredients across the top of the frittata before covering again.

Cook for another 5-6 minutes, or until the egg is cooked through and the Feta has just begun to melt. Remove from heat and carefully transfer to a serving platter and cut into wedges.

Serve this Arugula, Portobello, & Feta Frittata Recipe warm or enjoy at room temperature.

Is My Poop Normal? OK Uncomfortable Topic! Let’s Dive In

Is My Poop Normal?

is my poop normal
Is My Poop Normal?

Today we are going to discuss the uncomfortable topic of is my poop normal? Yes, I’m serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)

You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.

You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something.

And what about fiber and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop.

What about the all-important gut microbes? If they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.

Here’s a trivia question for you:

Did you know that you no longer have to ask the question is my poop normal because there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

Meet the Bristol Stool Scale

The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.

You can see the chart here.

The scale breaks down type of poop into seven different categories ranging from type 1 which is very constipated, to type 7 which is diarrhea:

  1. Separate hard lumps (very constipated).
  2.  Lumpy and sausage-like (slightly constipated).
  3.  Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface (normal)
  4. Smooth, soft sausage (normal).
  5.  Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (lacking fiber).
  6.  Mushy consistency with ragged edges (inflammation).
  7. Liquid consistency with no solid pieces (inflammation).

Other “poop” factors to consider

You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.

Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.

What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.

And the colour? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest.

And if it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.

But if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.

What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?

Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that? Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK.

If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that.

Ask if you’ve had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.

If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath.

Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:

  • First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fiber in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
  • The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly.

These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!

Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.

Recipe (dairy-free probiotic): Super-Simple Coconut Milk Yogurt

Serves 6

  • 2 cans full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 probiotic capsules
  1. Open the probiotic capsules and empty contents into the blender. Blend with coconut milk.
  2. Transfer to a sanitized glass jar (make sure it’s not still hot – you don’t want those probiotics to die).
  3. Store it in a warm place for 24-48 hours. If it’s not thick enough for you, you can let it ferment for another 24 hours.
  4. Add your favourite yogurt toppings, and store the rest for up to a week in the fridge.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or probiotics.

Is My Poop Normal References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/poop-health

In our Holistic Lifestyle training we use the resource “How To Eat, Move and Be Healthy”. This is an important resource if you are looking to improve your health. The author provides a great healthy poop chart. You can check out this book here

So have you asked yourself the question is my poop normal?

Five Weight Loss Friendly Snacks You Will Love

Five Weight Loss Friendly Snack Ideas You Will Love

weight loss friendly snackToday we want to share five weight loss friendly snack ideas you will love. You see we realize that the words “weight loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

Right?

Let me give you my best weight loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What is my criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain protein and/or fiber.

Our Healthy Snacks List:

1 – Nuts A Weight Loss Friendly Snack

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening! Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening. Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.

 

2 – Are Fresh Fruits A Weight Loss Friendly Snack? 

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

Win-win!

Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you.

3 – Chia seeds A Favourite Weight Loss Friendly Snack

This is one of my personal favorites…

Chia is not only high in fiber (I mean HIGH in fiber), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk or coconut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!

4 – Boiled or poached eggs The Weight Loss Friendly Snack You Might Not Think About

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk. Now we do recommend pastured eggs.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5 – Finally  Vegetables For Your Weight Loss Friendly Snack

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fiber and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

Weight Loss Friendly Snack Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

  • 1  can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed
  • ⅓ cup tahini
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 dash salt
  • 1 dash pepper
  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.

Weight Loss Friendly Snack References:

Authority Nutrition 

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

It would be great to hear your weight loss friendly snack ideas in the comments below.

Food Intolerance | Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

food intoleranceFood intolerance or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

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

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or 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 speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

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.

Symptoms of food intolerance

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.

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, 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 intolerance:

  • 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.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

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.

Get Your free copy of my Weekly Diet Diary/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?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten free) for three weeks.

You may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that’s OK. I don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t need to!

Recipe (dairy-free milk): Homemade Nut/Seed Milk

Makes 3 cups

  • ½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

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

2.     Dump soaking water & rinse nuts/seeds.

3.     Add soaked nuts/seeds and 2 cups water to 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.

Serve & enjoy!

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

 

Food Intolerance References:

11 Warning Signs

Lactose Intolerance

Signs Your Are Gluten Intolerant

Food Sensitivities Health Infographic

Are you surprised that your symptoms may be a food intolerance?

 

All About Digestive Enzymes For Your Best Life

All About Digestive Enzymes

digestive enzymes

Not everyone should be taking digestive enzymes supplements, and not all of them are created equal.

As a Holistic Lifestyle practitioner, I find that many people with digestive issues want to jump straight into using a supplement. And many times I would rather try other strategies first. Not to mention, that some supplements can be harmful if used inappropriately.

So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.

What are digestive enzymes?

Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down the food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.

Oh, and they all end with “ase”.

As I just hinted, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally makes and secretes when we eat.

Now, all of the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms.

It is the individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.

The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:

  • Amylase – Helps to break down starch into its sugars.
  • alpha-Galactosidase – Helps to break down specific “fermentable carbohydrates” into its sugars.
  • Lactase – Helps to break down lactose into its sugars.
  • Protease – Helps to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Bromelain and/or Papain – Help to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Lipase – Helps to break down fats into its lipids.

Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?

I would always recommend that you see a qualified holistic lifestyle practitioner for an expert opinion on whether your issues can be related to digestion, and which, if any, supplements can help you.

In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes *may* help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose intolerance symptoms after eating dairy).

One reason for these symptoms can be those food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the microbiota where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this is definitely troublesome for certain people.

Don’t get me wrong, a healthy gut microbiota is absolutely essential for good health. And more and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.

What do I need to know? – Medical conditions

Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by your health care practitioner who knows your history.

Here are two critical things to be aware of:

1 – Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take caution.

2 – When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.

The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.

What do I need to know? – Possible Digestive Enzymes Side Effects

Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable holistic lifestyle practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.

If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them. Allergies are always a possibility, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them. And, as always, keep supplements away from children.

Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement

You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis or trying a few strategies first.

My first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.

The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.

Conclusion:

While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone.

I recommend that you:

  • Read your labels carefully (who should take them, how to take them, and when to stop taking them).
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medications speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you want expert advice on whether a specific supplement is for you, speak with a qualified health care practitioner.

Recipe (food containing bromelain & papain): Tropical (digestive) smoothie

Serves 1

  • 1 cup pineapple, diced
  • Use 1 cup papaya, diced
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • Add 1 cup coconut milk
  • ice if desired

Put all ingredients(except ice) into the blender and blend. Add ice if desired.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: The levels of enzymes in whole pineapple and papaya aren’t as concentrated as taking them in a supplement; so if you’re not allergic to these delicious fruits, you can try this smoothie.

Digestive Enzymes References:

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/digestive-enzyme-supplements/

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=514&lang=eng

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=516&lang=eng

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=196&lang=eng

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=508&lang=eng

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=515&lang=eng

Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

There you have it all about digestive enzymes and now we would really like to hear from you.

 

 

 

Bloating? | 5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

5 Reasons You May Be Bloating More After Age 45

bloatingBloating is generally the result of not being able to properly digest foods.  These not-so-digested foods feel like they’re just sitting around causing discomfort and a general feeling of being stuffed and “gassy”.

It can happen at any age but if it seems to be more frequent as you’re getting older it can very well be because of your stomach’s reduced ability to produce enough acid for proper digestion.

Normally, when we eat cells in our stomach release more acid which is important for so many digestive processes like breaking down foods and activating enzymes.  As we age this process can become less efficient and the result can feel like it’s wreaking havoc on the rest of the digestive system.

Unfortunately, this can have wide-ranging effects on all of our digestion abilities “downstream” and that can result in bloating.

Bloating Reason #1:

Sometimes our bodies are (or become more as we age) sensitive to the fiber in certain fruits or veggies.  This can also occur when we introduce new ones into our diet as it may take a while for our body to get used to them.

Pro Tip:  Try chewing your vegetables more thoroughly, or lightly cooking or steaming raw ones.  If a fruit or veggie seems to be consistently related to bloating try eliminating it for a few weeks and monitor your symptoms.

Bloating Reason #2:

Decreased stomach acid can reduce the activation of a key protein-digesting enzyme “pepsin”.  This means that the proteins you eat aren’t broken down as much and they can pass through your system somewhat “undigested”.

Pro Tip:  You may consider reducing the amount of animal-based foods you eat and see if that helps you out.

Bloating Reason #3:

One thing that can seriously cause bloating is when your digestive system slows down.  Then things seem to be a bit stagnant, just hanging around in there a bit (a lot?) longer than you’d like.

Ginger has been found to help with digestion and reduce nausea for certain people.  And peppermint is thought to help your digestive muscles keep pushing food through, so it doesn’t stay in one spot for too long.

Pro Tip:  Consider drinking a digestive tea like peppermint or ginger.  See my recipe below.

Bloating Reason #4:

All this lack of digesting in your stomach and small intestine puts extra stress on the large intestine.  The large intestine is the home of all of your wonderful gut microbes that have SO many functions in the body.  The problem is when undigested food enters the large intestine it can feed the not-so-great microbes.  These “unfriendly” bacteria produce waste material and gas as a part of their natural metabolism.  The more of these microbes you have in your system (they will multiply if they are constantly being fed by undigested food in the large intestine) the more gas that will be produced in the large intestine.

Pro Tip:  Try eating more fermented foods.  Fermented foods contain probiotics which will feed the good bacteria and microbes in your system to keep the bad guys at bay  This includes things like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi (as long as these don’t cause bloating for you!).  Make sure they’re unpasteurized and contain live cultures.  If you cannot tolerate dairy based yogurt and kefir dairy free options are available or you could make your own dairy free versions.

You can also consider taking a probiotic supplement. Just check the label first to make sure it’s right for you.

Bloating Reason #5:

With reduced stomach acid you also have a reduction of the “activation” of several of your digestive enzymes (protein-digesting pepsin being one of them).  In order for certain enzymes to go to work digesting your food, they need to be activated.  This usually happens with the assistance of stomach acid.

Pro Tip:  You may consider trying an enzyme supplement to assist your body in digesting food while you work on reestablishing your own production of stomach acid (a healthy diet and lifestyle can do this!).  But before you do make sure you read the labels because some of them interact with other supplements, medications, or conditions, and may not be safe for long-term use.

Conclusion:

You can try the “pro tips” I’ve given you in this post.  Or work with a practitioner on an elimination diet to help determine which foods you may be sensitive to? We recommend you go HERE for our BEST Elimination Diet Resource If bloating is a serious problem you should see your doctor or alternative health care practitioner.

Recipe (Tummy Soothing Tea): Ginger Tea

Serves 1

  • Fresh ginger root (about 2”)
  • Hot water
  • Lemon slices (optional)
  • Raw Honey (optional)

Pour the water into a saucepan and heat it on the stove.

Grate the ginger root into the saucepan.  Let it come to a boil, and then simmer for 3-5 minutes.

Strain the tea into a cup with a fine mesh strainer and add lemon and/or honey as desired.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip: Instead of grating & straining,  you can peel the ginger and thinly slice it into your cup before adding boiling water.  The pieces should be big enough that they will sink to the bottom.

References:

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

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating/

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/how-to-get-rid-of-bloating/

http://summertomato.com/too-many-vegetables-how-to-prevent-gas-and-digestive-problems-caused-by-healthy-eating

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/peppermintoil

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/ginger

 

Night Time Hot Flashes Reduced With These Foods

Foods to Reduce Night Time Hot Flashes

night time hot flashesDo you get night time hot flashes? Do they set the bed on fire (but not in that way)?  Let’s get you some solutions!

Before we do that, just some quick info on why hot flashes occur so we can try to affect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms.

What causes hot flashes?

As you can imagine it’s all about hormonal balance (or imbalance).

During the menstruating years, your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month.

When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH.

And guess what your body’s response to this is?

It releases adrenaline!

This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down and that few minutes results in night sweats.

What triggers hot flashes?

You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flashes.  Perhaps they’re related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, spicy foods, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals).

Maybe they’re related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications or intense exercise).

Or maybe they get worse as your weight slowly climbs (higher BMI)?  Did you know that some menopausal women who lost weight were able to eliminate their hot flashes and night sweats?  Win-win!

Let’s reduce those hot flash triggers naturally, shall we?

Food #1 – Flax 

Flax contains a “phytoestrogen” named “lignan”.  Phyto (plant) estrogens are thought to help our bodies better balance hormones by mimicking them and binding to certain hormone receptors.

Flax also contains fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids.  Both are powerhouses for better gut and heart health, additional benefit!

But here’s where it gets interesting.

One study looked at thousands of women who experienced at least 14 hot flashes per week.  Researchers had them add four tablespoons of flax meal to their day.

How much flaxseed per day? Yes, just four tablespoons.

After 6 weeks the number of hot flashes they had dropped in half and the intensity of those hot flashes dropped by more than half!

Scientists think that’s due mostly to the lignan content of flax seeds.

That’s some super-food!

It’s also pretty easy to increase your intake of flax.  You can add one or two tablespoons into your smoothie or sprinkle it on just about anything (breakfast, salad, nut butters, etc.).  Not to mention how easy it is to add to your baking.  (Hint, see recipe below).

Pro Tip:  Flax seeds should be ground up in order to get most of their benefits because much of the healthy compounds in them are securely stored beneath the hard outer shell.

Food #2 – Water

OK, maybe this is more of a “drink” than a food but hear me out.

When you get hot flashes you’re losing more water than you normally would.  Similarly to when you exercise.

Make sure you replace those critical fluids by drinking enough water.  A good habit is to make sure that you don’t get to the point of feeling overly thirsty by keeping a bottle, glass, or cup beside you all day long for frequent sips.

Water is definitely something to add (or increase) to your daily intake when you’re experiencing hot flashes.

Conclusion Food To Reduce Night Time Hot Flashes:

There are two critical things you should do if you experience hot flashes: increase your intake of both flax and water.

Recipe (flax): Gluten-Free Oatmeal Muffins

Serves 6

  • 1 banana (very ripe)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 egg
  • coconut sugar (optional) ¼ cup
  • ½ cup flax meal*
  • ¼ cup oat flour* or other gluten-free flour
  • (gluten-free) ½ cup oats
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup nuts or dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F and line 6 muffin tins.

Add banana, oil, egg, and sugar (if using) into your blender and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, stir together the dry ingredients (oats, flax meal, gluten-free flour, and baking soda).

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir. Do not over mix.

Add nuts or dark chocolate chips, if using.

Spoon into muffin tins. Bake for 15-20 min. Serve & Enjoy!

*Tip:  You can blend flax and/or oats to make your own freshly ground flax meal or oat flour.

References:

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

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-natural-menopause-tips/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/incorporating-flax-into-diet

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

So, your turn.

How will you use the ideas we shared here to help you reduce Night Time Hot Flashes Reduced With These Foods?

 

Weight Gain | The Optimal Foods to Eat For Breakfast When You’re in Menopause

The Optimal Foods to Eat For Breakfast When You’re in Menopause

weight gainDuring menopause women tend to experience weight gain.  While this isn’t great it’s pretty common and there are many reasons why.

Two reasons for weight gain during menopause…

Reason #1 For Weight Gain During Menopause


Reduced muscle mass.  Muscle mass uses energy (burns calories) so when we have less of it the body burns less energy overall, leading to weight gain.  Unfortunately, this weight gain may appear as increased belly fat.

Reason #2 For Weight Gain During Menopause

During women’s menopause,  there is an increase in the hunger hormone “ghrelin”.  With an increase in this hormone comes the tendency is to feel hungrier.  Menopause also decreased the “satiety” hormone “leptin” that helps us feel full after eating which can lead to overeating.

More ghrelin and less leptin = increased hunger and a decreased feeling of fullness…that’s a problem! Weight Gain!

What does all of this have to do with breakfast?

Eating the right type of breakfast has been shown to help maintain muscle mass, balance levels of leptin and ghrelin, aid weight loss and maintaining that lower weight.

What makes a food “optimal” for breakfast in menopause?

Foods that help to increase metabolic rate, fill you up and keep you feeling fuller longer help reduce the weight gain.

Let’s have a look at the characteristics of these “optimal” foods.

Protein 

Make sure to get protein in the mornings.  Eating protein is critical for women in menopause.

Protein helps to slightly increase metabolism and give your muscles the amino acids they need to stay strong.  It also helps keep you feeling fuller longer which is great to try to offset that hunger hormone known as “ghrelin”.

Protein also helps to reduce bone loss that can happen very fast during this time.

Which foods are high in protein?

  • Meat and poultry
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Eggs
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds (contain more fat than protein but still a great source of amino acids)

Read on and check out the great breakfast recipe for you to try tomorrow morning.  It contains eggs which some say are the “perfect protein”.

Fibre

Fibre is very important to help stabilize your blood sugars to reduce cravings.  The reason this is particularly important in menopause is because the risk of diabetes and heart disease increases after menopause due to an accumulation of visceral fat in the abdomen.  (Yes, I’m talking about the infamous “belly fat”!).

Also, did you know that certain fibres you eat actually feed your friendly gut microbes?  The ones that help you digest food and even make certain nutrients for you?

Which foods are high in fibre?

Here are just a few of the items you could add to your diet to increase fibre intake.

  • Vegetables (squash, peas, sweet potato, artichokes, collard greens, pumpkin, parsnips, Brussels sprouts etc.)
  • Fruit (pears, avocados, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries etc.)
  • Nuts (almonds, pistachios, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, walnuts, dried coconut etc.)
  • Seeds (sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax etc.)
  • Gluten-free grains (oat, quinoa, wild rice etc.)
  • Beans and lentils

Bonus points if you get at least some of you daily fibre from flax.  Flax not only contains fibre but it is also a source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.  Flax has even been shown to help reduce both hot flashes and the risk of breast cancer.  Win-win!

Conclusion:

What are “optimal” foods for breakfast in menopause?  Ones that give you ample protein and fibre.

Recipe (Protein and Fibre): Vegetable Egg Muffins 

Makes 12

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red pepper (diced)
  • 2 cups baby spinach (chopped)
  • 1 cup mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon flax (ground)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease or line a 12 serving muffin tin.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add oil and saute diced pepper until tender (about 5 minutes).

Add mushrooms and garlic to frying pan and cook for an additional minute.

Whisk eggs and flax together in a medium bowl.

Place veggies into prepared muffin tin.

Pour the egg/flax mixture over the veggies.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are firm to the touch and eggs are cooked.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  Use pastured eggs whenever possible.

Weight Gain References:

Authority Nutrition 

https://www.thepaleomom.com/is-breakfast-really-most-important-meal/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/just-the-flax-maam/

https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/nutrients/index

The Power of a Paleo Breakfast – THE PALEO BREAKFAST BIBLE  Great-Tasting, Nutritious Paleo-based Breakfast Meals to Start Your Day, To Eliminate Weight Gain | The Optimal Foods to Eat For Breakfast When You’re in Menopause – Get your copy HERE