Cheryl Lawrence is a Registered License Dietitian with 25+ years of experience in helping people achieve optimal health through healthy eating.
Operating as usual
Thanksgiving is coming and watch out!! It's a carb and fat holiday. Eat your breakfast and snack before Lunch so you can control the portions!!!
Everything is a carb and fat........ 1/2 cup of dressing; 1/2 cup mashed potatoes with gravy; 1/2 cup sweet potatoes; 1/2 cup green bean casserole; 1/2 cup fruit salad; 1/16 of a piece of pie!!
Spread your feast through out the day. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!
Everything You Need To Know About Gut Health
JAMES COLQUHOUN, FILMMAKER (FOOD MATTERS AND HUNGRY FOR CHANGE)
Fun Fact: Did you know that your gut is technically outside your body?!
I know this sounds extremely strange but technically, we have one long tube running through our body. The term for this tube is the ‘alimentary canal’ and is comprised of the mouth, oesophagus, stomach, intestines and a**s.
This tube is pinched closed by your mouth, a**s and certain sphincters along the digestive tract. However, technically this canal is not completely and permanently sealed shut from the outside world. Hence, from a physiological perspective, we say it is outside of your body. Crazy right?
The gut is ‘outside’ our body for a very important immunological reason. You see, our environment is naturally filled with billions of bacteria. This is not to scare you, as bacteria play a very important role in sustaining life on earth. However, our body is not equipped to let any ol’ bug from the outside world into our bloodstream.
Therefore, our gut contains a very sophisticated immune system to make sure that the bugs that we swallow and eat are not given free reign into our bloodstream. This is why bacteria and food are kept ‘outside’ our body and safely enclosed within your gut until deemed safe enough to pass through our gut’s immune defences and into our blood.
Until now, you may have thought that the chief function of our gut is to digest food but there is so much more that this amazing organ does! Read on for the scoop on this fascinating system that does more than merely make your poop…
How Immunity Works In Your Gut
To truly understand the role of gut health for immunity, we need to examine your Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT). The GALT thinly lines the mucosal layer of your gut wall and acts as a ‘filter’ and detection system for everything that travels through your gut and could be potentially absorbed into your bloodstream.
The GALT is richly populated with special clusters of immune cells known as ‘Peyer’s Patches’. The role of the cells within these patches is to identify harmful bacteria within your gut, ensnare these potential pathogens and disarm them before they can enter your bloodstream (and thereby hitch a ride throughout your body!) These Peyer’s Patches also stimulate a chain of immune reactions that stop further movement of invading bacteria throughout your gut lining.
Ultimately, this defense system is extremely important to stop harmful bacteria from invading your body!
What About Your Friendly Gut Bacteria?
Gut bacteria, gastrointestinal flora, microbiome, microbiotic health, gut flora and friendly bugs… The ‘good’ bacteria in your gut have more nicknames than Snoop Dogg’s employed throughout his career, but nonetheless they collectively refer to many strains of bugs that carry out wonderful work to keep our gut in tip top condition!
From an immunity perspective, having plenty of the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut helps to keep the ‘bad’ bacteria in check. When ‘bad’ bacteria are too prolific, they smother the lining of your bowel so that the sentry cells within the Peyer’s patches cannot perform their task of protecting you properly. The result? You are more vulnerable to pathogens that you pick up from the environment and may find yourself getting sick more often than you’d like!
Good bacteria also ferment fiber and resistant starch to form a fatty acid called Butyrate. Butyrate increases blood flow to your gut wall, which is great for healing! This fatty acid also provides essential energy to the cells that line your colon and is extremely important for the repair and growth of healthy colon cells. This is one of the reasons why resistant starch and fiber is associated with lower rates of colon cancer.
Inflammation In Your Gut
A healthy gut flora has been shown to reduce inflammation, a key factor that is associated with many diseases. These include everything from the common cold, through to cardiovascular diseases, cognitive issues, arthritis and even cancer. Probiotic treatments have even been shown to assist with certain types of eczema!
Why Have I Heard That I Have A ‘Brain’ In My Gut?
Our gut is full of nerves and neurotransmitters that form a neural network called the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). The ENS is wired directly to the brain, hence why stress and anxiety can exert such a powerful effect on our digestion. Research is only beginning to uncover how complex the functions of the ENS are, including the fact that our gut cells even produce the mood-enhancing neurotransmitter, serotonin! This mechanism has prompted some fascinating research into the link between our gut and certain behavioral disorders.
What Affects Our Gut Health?
Many factors in our modern environment negatively impact our gut health. From a young age, most of us are given antibiotic medications, which interfere with our microbiome. Whilst antibiotics are designed to attack pathogenic (bad) bacteria, they indiscriminately wipe out our good bacteria as well!
Pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural chemicals have similar actions to antibiotics; after all, they are applied to kill bugs that attack plants, right? Sadly, these residual chemicals wind up in our gut when we eat non-organic food and hurt our friendly tummy bugs too! Remember, agricultural run-off makes its way into our waterways, so unfiltered water can also be contaminated with compounds that reduce our gut flora.
Being ‘over-hygienic’ in the home can also contribute to imbalances in your gut flora. In particular, anti-bacterial sprays and lotions unfavourably impact your microbiome. Our bodies naturally require some exposure to dirt and germs to build a healthy, robust immune system but an over-emphasis on ‘cleanliness’ can interfere with this natural process.
Key Steps To Support Gut Health
PROBIOTICS: These restore the ‘good guys’ in our gut, especially if you’ve been through a recent round of antibiotics.
EAT ORGANIC: Avoid the pesticide sprays that kill off bugs on our plants… and in our gut!
GO GREEN: Use non-toxic cleaning aids in your home.
USE ANTIBIOTICS AS A LAST RESORT: Antibiotics can be life-saving in certain situations, however unnecessary use clears out our good gut bacteria.
KEEP UP THE H2O: Our bodies need to be hydrated to keep bad bacteria propelling through our digestive tract to be easily eliminated.
GIVE YOURSELF DIGESTIVE REST: Our gut cannot rest and repair when we overeat or eat too often. Whilst there are many benefits to eating small, regular meals, try to avoid snacking constantly.
EAT PLENTY OF FIBER, RESISTANT STARCH AND PREBIOTICS: This is A-Grade Fuel for the friendly bacteria in your gut.
INCLUDED FERMENTED FOODS: These support healthy gut flora too!
Posted on Oct. 6, 2015, 6 a.m. in Anti-Aging Research Science Cancer Functional Foods
Purple-fleshed potatoes contain compounds that suppress the growth of colon cancer tumors (cell and mouse models).
Purple potato - image from Shutterstock
Purple-fleshed potatoes are a rich source of anthocyanins – potent plant-based antioxidant compounds. Jairam K.P. Vanamala. from Penn State University (Pennsylvania, USA), and colleagues previously discovered that baked purple-fleshed potato and its extracts suppress early and advanced human colon cancer cell proliferation and induced apoptosis (cell death). In the current study, the team conducted an initial laboratory study in which they observed that baked purple-fleshed potato extract suppressed the spread of colon cancer stem cells while increasing their deaths. The researchers the tested the effect of whole baked purple potatoes on mice with colon cancer and found similar results. Explaining that as well as anthocyanins, purple potatoes, contain resistant starch, which serves as a food for the gut bacteria, that the bacteria can covert to beneficial short-chain fatty acids such as butyric acid – a substance that regulates immune function in the gut and suppresses chronic inflammation, the investigators point out that the portion size for human consumption equates to about the same as eating one baked, large purple-fleshed potato per day.
[08/03/15] Fruits and veggies take on an alluring new taste when grilled. Try skewering squash, eggplant, and zucchini this summer.
The Institute of Medicine advises that men consume roughly 13 cups of water a day, and women need about nine cups a day
How is the water going down?
What have you been up to?
Well the weather now is Hot!! Did you know how swimming compares to other exercises? 30 min of slow crawl swimming burns 260 calories, avg. running - 350, avg. biking - 250
[06/15/15] Walking has benefits that most individuals don't think of: reduce stress, improve sleep quality, and enhance mental function.
Don't Skip Breakfast!!
Many have long held to the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. After all, it “breaks the fast” of the last 8+ hours and gives the body a metabolic boost for the remainder of the day, right? Most health care practitioners feel that breakfast is an important meal for boosting metabolism, aiding in weight loss, enhancing cognitive function, and balancing blood sugar and appetite. It would appear that this long-held belief is suddenly being put on trial, as various studies in quest of discovering the truth about breakfast are cropping up in science and medical journals in recent years. Whether it be from a desire to give solid reasoning for the beloved bacon and eggs every morning or to allow the persistent breakfast skippers to continue in their routine, the results of these relatively new scientific pursuits are interesting, to say the least.
Dehydration is simply when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it should. Water makes up 60-80% of our entire body mass, so it makes sense that when we don’t consume enough, all kinds of issues start to occur! Consuming plenty of water each day is critical for your body to work at its best, so if you’re not getting enough, your body sends a whole range of signs that let you know you need to top up!
1. Your Head Is Pounding
Your body is constantly using up the liquid in your body, consisting not just of water, but essential mineral salts such as sodium and potassium. When your hydration levels drop, a chemical reaction occurs in your blood which your brain is highly sensitive to. Your brain reacts by triggering a headache. The headache gets worse the more water you lose, as the more your blood volume drops, the less oxygen flows to your brain. This causes your blood vessels to dilate and your headache to get worse!
2. Pipes Are Clogged
Water helps move food waste through your bowels and out your body. If you don’t have enough water in your system, it won’t be able to move your food waste efficiently, resulting in constipation.
3. Standing Up Makes You Dizzy
Without enough water in your system, your blood volume and pressure drops causing us to feel light headed or dizzy. One of the key signs of dehydration is when you stand up quickly and get a sudden rush of lightheadedness.
4. Hunger Cues Are Increased
Early signs that you need to drink more can be as subtle as feeling peckish more often. If you’ve eaten enough food during the day but still feel the need to keep snacking, especially on water-based foods such a fruit, this your body’s gentle indicator that you don’t actually need more food, you’re just dehydrated! Try a glass of water instead and see for yourself!
5. Your P*e Is Extra Yellow
An obvious sign of dehydration is when your p*e has turned a darker shade of yellow. This means your urine is over-concentrated with waste. This happens because water helps to flush out waste efficiently. When you’re fully hydrated, there’s a higher ratio of water to waste, turning it a lighter colour, and flushing out your system more effectively.
6. All You Can Think About Is Sleep
When you can’t shake feelings of fatigue, it may be time to up your water intake! When you’re hydrated, water moves into your bloodstream from your cells to help maintain the right amount of blood to regulate blood pressure. When you’re dehydrated, your blood volume, and in turn, blood pressure drops, reducing the amount of oxygen content in the blood as well. This lack of oxygen slows our muscle and nerve functions, making us easily fatigued!
7. Things Are Heating Up
Your body requires adequate water to regulate body temperature. When we overheat, we sweat! Sweat helps the body to lower its temperature through evaporative cooling. Because sweat is mostly made up of water, when you’re dehydrated, you won’t sweat much, and can quickly overheat.
8. A Dry Mouth Sets In
An obvious indicator that your body is desperate for hydration is a dry mouth and slightly swollen tongue. Your mouth is a naturally moist environment, so when it’s dry, it’s time to grab a glass!
9. Muscles Start Cramping
Adequate hydration and electrolyte balance is essential for proper muscle contraction. When you’re dehydrated, your electrolyte balance is affected. When sodium and potassium stores are low, you can end up with painful muscle spasms! If fluid levels are low, a muscle or even just a section of muscle can contract or spasm involuntarily. Hydrating can help prevent continued cramping, so drink up!
10. Your Skin Just Isn’t Bouncing Back
To keep skin looking young and to prevent sagging, hydration is important. A simple test to see if you’re dehydrated is the ‘pinch test’. Pinching your skin to see how fast it bounces back. If it snaps back to normal quickly, you’re hydrated. If it takes a while, you’re likely in need of some hydration! This likely occurs with moderate to severe dehydration (10-20% or more of your body is dehydrated), for example, heat stroke and excessive perspiration. Hydrate immediately but slowly to prevent shock changes in blood volume and pressure.
How Do You Remind Yourself To Drink More Throughout The Day?
FROZEN OR FRESH WHICH IS BETTER?????
You may think it's common sense that frozen fruits and vegetables are not as nutritious as their fresh counterparts, but I am happy to report that this is not true! Think about it, fresh produce is often picked, boxed, transported over long distances, and then left to sit on store shelves for up to several weeks. The time lapse between picking fresh produce and purchasing it at a store can often cause a loss of some nutritional value as it's exposed to light and air. Both taste and texture may also be diminished.
Meanwhile, before getting to the freezer, frozen fruits and vegetables are picked, quickly blanched (cooked for a short time in boiling water or steamed), and immediately frozen and packaged, generally when nutrient levels are at their highest. So frozen fruits and vegetables are processed at their peak, in terms of freshness and nutrition. This means that the vitamins and nutrients are preserved until the next time the package is open.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Food Information Council (IFIC) both report that nutrients in produce are generally NOT lost during freezing (and canning), and they provide the same essential nutrients and health benefits as fresh. Another bonus of going frozen: it’s often less expensive. Though fresh fruits and veggies may be more visually appealing and taste better, they don’t last as long in your fridge and may not be the most nutritious.
At the end of the day, any fruits and vegetables are better than none at all. Just remember:
◦Buy fresh produce in season and buy local when possible
◦Buy non-seasonal produce frozen (if possible)
◦Even using canned fruits and veggies without added salt or sugar is also a good choice
Here are some great ways to include fruits and veggies in your daily routine:
◦Keep a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter and in the office
◦Have some cut-up vegetables in the refrigerator at all times for easy snacking
◦Add fresh or frozen fruit to your breakfast in cereal, oatmeal or yogurt
◦Choose fruit for dessert (frozen grapes anyone?!)
◦Add a mix of frozen vegetables when you prepare soups, sauces and casseroles
Stop Focusing On What To Avoid In Your Diet
Maybe you’ve started off on a new health or dietary approach by making a list of all the foods and beverages that you are going to avoid. This approach is not very effective in the long term for a number of important reasons:
•You end up feeling deprived. It is impossible not to notice all the things you used to eat and drink and then you end up feeling as if you’re missing out.
•You haven’t found replacements for the things that you love. Nothing seems to be as tasty as the things you are “not allowed” to eat anymore.
•Others are eating the things you love to eat and drinking the beverages you are trying to avoid. This adds to your feelings of deprivation, as you feel left out and alone in your quest for health.
•The commercialization of food has made it difficult to find foods that are tasty, nutritious and don’t cost the earth. This is primarily due to the fact that most people aren’t looking for such foods and also because there aren’t many people who have mastered the art of taking healthy, fresh food and turning it into a healthy meal or even delicious “healthy” sweet treats.
•You may become confused about which foods and beverages you should avoid and even why you should be avoiding them, because reading food labels has become quite a confusing experience. Unless you get some guidance, you may not know what the manufacturer is talking about on the label.
Start Focusing On What To Include
A far simpler approach is to start focusing on what you need to include in your diet. When your focus shifts to addition versus subtraction, you have a completely different mind-set.
Instead of constantly looking for what to leave out, you are now looking for what you can include. You stop feeling deprived and feel empowered instead.
These Are Some Examples Of The Items That You Can Start Adding To Your Diet:
•More fresh vegetables and juicy fruits instead of prepackaged foods – and if you make healthy salad dressings, pestos and nut dips, your fresh produce is tasty as well as healthy.
•Fresh nuts and seeds instead of roasted, flavored nuts – which you can combine with sun-dried tomatoes for a great on-the-run snack or with some goji berries, raisins, or cranberries for a healthy sweet hit.
•Baked instead of fried corn crackers – and if you make some salsa and hummus you can have a tasty mini meal with great fats instead of the corn and potato crackers most people eat, which contain damaged trans fats.
•Fresh fruit and vegetable juices instead of sodas – a simple trick is to take some sparkling water, add some fresh orange or pineapple juice as well as some fresh berries, mint and a few slices of fresh lime. Watch the envy while everyone else drinks normal, artificial sodas and you sip naturally colorful, interesting “cocktails”.
•Use herbs and spices to make fresh salad dressings and sauces instead of dressings and toppings which are filled with additives. Make fresh salad dressings with chopped herbs, or tasty pestos or even simple hummus with some chopped chives or coriander stirred through the final product.
•Use best quality, cold-pressed olive, nut and seed oils instead of damaged, shelf-stable oils. Make your own flavored oils by adding some crushed sprigs of garlic and rosemary.
•Best quality, 70 percent dark chocolate instead of additive-filled chocolate bars. Melt some of this good quality chocolate and stir it through some fresh coconut and allow to set in the fridge for a few hours.
•Flavorful, fruity herbal teas instead of boring tea and coffee – there are delicious herbal teas available, some of which are naturally quite sweet.
•Snacking on dried fruit and nuts instead of lollies/candies or crisps – goji berries with macadamia nuts, sun-dried tomatoes with walnuts, cashew nuts with fresh dates. Dried cranberries, pineapple and mango are great occasional treats as they are pretty high in fructose content which isn’t healthy in large quantities.
The “Bad Foods” End Up “Falling” Naturally Out Of Your Diet
The wonderful result of taking this approach means that you end up “losing” the foods you’ve been trying to avoid, as there is no longer space for them in your diet. After all, you can’t eat all the nasty items as well as the healthy additions – you’d be busy all day and feel pretty ghastly too!
Slowly, but very surely, the items that you know are not good for you will automatically fall away, because they’ve been replaced by the healthier alternatives.
It isn’t as if you even have to try very hard, as you’ll be bringing home the foods and beverages you’re adding. By default, the ones you don’t want in your life will stay where they belong – on the shelves at the supermarket!
Have You Felt The Benefits Of 'Focusing On Adding'?
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