My Top Superfoods

 

Many of us remember being told to “eat your broccoli” when we were young. Not all of us liked it at first. But luckily most people grow to like broccoli and other similar vegetables with time because they are part of a group of foods you want to focus on. I’ll tell you why.

 

To start, broccoli is part of a group called cruciferous vegetables that are related to each other in the Brassica family. This family of super plants also includes kale, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard greens, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts. These superfoods have a ton of nutrition per calorie, and other health-promoting compounds, they’re relatively inexpensive and easy to cook too!

 

They are one of the top groups of foods that I recommend clients focus on for a number of reasons including their ability to support

 

Nutrient Content

 

 

One cup of broccoli contains:

  • 34 calories
  • 8 g protein, 0.4 g fat, 6.6 g carbohydrates, and 2.6 g fibre.
  • B vitamins (when eaten raw)
  • Almost 100% of your vitamin C and K
  • Traces of all the other vitamins and minerals

 

One cup of loosely packed kale contains:

  • 8 calories
  • 7 g protein, 0.2 g fat (including omega-3), 1.4 g carbohydrates, and 0.6 g fibre.
  • Contains pre-vitamin A (beta-carotene).
  • Several B vitamins, including B1, B3, B5, B6, and folate (B9)
  • Rich in vitamins C and K
  • Lots of minerals including manganese, magnesium, iron, potassium, sulfur, copper, phosphorus, and calcium

 

NOTE: Too much vitamin K may interact with certain blood-thinning medications. If you’re taking one of these medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist before changing the amount of these superfoods into your diet so your medication can be set at the right level.

 

Reduce Inflammation

 

 

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while, you already know that one of the primary sources of arthritis pain is inflammation.

 

These cruciferous superfoods contain flavonols like kaempferol and quercetin. Flavonols have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Combined with other diet changes, this can make a huge impact on how great your joints feel.

 

Support Digestion

 

heartburn

 

Broccoli and kale and other cruciferous vegetables tend to taste a bit bitter – but that bitterness equals healthfulness! In recent decades, with the large number of refined flours and starches that we consume, our taste buds are no longer accustomed to this taste. But you can train your taste buds to like this flavour again!

 

It’s this bitter flavour that contains indicates the health-promoting compounds in these super plant foods. And this can help to promote the proper breakdown of food and nutrient extraction from the foods.

 

Improved Detoxification

 

 

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

 

One of the main active ingredients in cruciferous vegetables is glucosinolates. These antioxidant compounds are very useful to help detoxify, reduce inflammation and feel awesome again!

 

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

 

Other Health Benefits

 

Kale also contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin. Carotenoids are known for promoting eye health and are protective against many cancers. And when cooked, kale contains another anti-cancer compound called indole.

 

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

 

Bottom Line

 

Broccoli, kale and other cruciferous superfoods are packed with nutrition and have a whole array of health-promoting compounds. Everyone should be eating these regularly. Just make sure your consistent if you’re taking blood-thinning medications. And, if you have thyroid issues, cook them first.

 

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

How Artificial Flavours Cause Harm

 

You’re trying hard to avoid inflammatory foods that are exacerbating your joint pain, digestive issues and making it challenging to manage weight. So, you make a point of reading what’s on the packages you’re buying. But…

 

It’s easy to get drawn in by healthy food claims on the front of food packages and forget to actually check the ingredients on the back. And when you do check, you’re often confused by ingredient names as to what is healthy. It’s amazing how many unhealthy foods look deceivingly healthy on the front of the package! (aka “health washing”).

 

One thing to watch out for are the artificial ingredients in foods. But when reading the list, it can be hard to know what’s natural and what’s artificial. So, I’ll explain about artificial flavour… what it is, why it’s used, and what kind of problems it can exacerbate.

 

“Artificial flavour” is a group of ingredients that companies don’t have to disclose. They are allowed to keep them secret because they are considered proprietary. And it can be easy to gloss over this ingredient because we don’t know what it is made of, so we ignore it.

 

Why Do We Need “Flavours”?

 

 

Food companies use flavours to replace the real thing because it is cheaper and easier.

 

When you make an apple muffin at home, what gives it the apple flavour? Apples of course! Real, whole apples, chopped or shredded or made into applesauce.

 

But when you’re making thousands of apple muffins every day, it can be hard to use the real thing. Real apples have slightly different tastes from each other. And apples are perishable which can be costly. So instead, companies have synthesized in a lab the perfect and identical apple flavour to keep costs down and keep people buying the product over and over.

 

Are Natural Flavours Better?

 

 

In short, not necessarily. Chemically, natural and artificial flavours aren’t that different. The main difference is that the source of natural flavours must be from nature, whereas artificial flavours can be created synthetically in the lab. However, natural flavours can contain synthetic solvents added during the processing.

 

Doesn’t sound too “natural” does it?

 

What Problems do They Cause?

 

 

When you introduce artificial ingredients into the body, it reacts in different ways. For example, with the flavour MSG (monosodium glutamate), animal studies have shown reactions such as inflammation (think: joint pain), weight gain, diabetes and liver problems.

 

MSG is a highly processed and synthetic form of free glutamate. If you suffer from any of the issues above, then taking time to avoid this ingredient is worthwhile. Other ingredient names with higher levels of free glutamate to look for and avoid are:

  • yeast extract
  • hydrolyzed protein
  • textured protein
  • soy protein isolate and concentrate
  • whey protein isolate and concentrate
  • carrageenan
  • “flavours” or “flavouring” (e.g. natural vanilla flavour)
  • maltodextrin
  • milk powder
  • soy sauce
  • corn starch
  • corn syrup
  • modified food starch

Download a complete list here

NOTE: Lower levels of glutamate are naturally occurring in many foods These are bound to amino acids and therefore absorbed slowly by the body and are considered healthy for us.

 

Bottom Line

 

 

NOTE: Remember that regardless of the source (natural or artificial), flavours are not a part of real, whole food. My personal recommendation is not to buy foods that contain them. Why?

 

Because big food companies use artificial flavours to reduce costs, make the manufacturing process simpler, reduce waste and even enhance flavour way beyond what the natural ingredient would taste like.

 

They are not added to improve the “healthfulness” or nutrition of the food. And certain flavours can be the trigger for your inflammation.

 

Artificial flavours in the ingredient list are a good indicator that the food is not going to optimize your health. These processed foods are mostly “junk.” Don’t buy them. Make these Easy Apple Muffins instead.

 

Why You Should Consider the Mediterranean Diet

 

The Mediterranean diet is based on the traditional foods that people who lived around the Mediterranean Sea ate about 50 years ago. Back then, researchers noted that people in Spain, Greece, and Italy lived longer and had lower levels of heart disease than Americans.

 

As one of the most studied diets, the research focuses on what it is about the diet that is so healthy. For instance, eating a Mediterranean diet is linked with

As a bonus, it’s also an eating style that people are able to stick with long-term. This is because it focuses on healthy whole-foods without being overly restrictive. And it is relatively inexpensive.

 

What Food is Included?

 

 

The Mediterranean diet is full of healthy whole foods including:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Legumes
  • Whole grains
  • Fish, seafood and small amounts of meat and eggs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Herbs and spices

These foods are not only full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre but also, the food is eaten in social settings where it is shared and enjoyed slowly. This is a great example of the importance of how you’re eating in addition to what you’re eating.

 

The main beverage for the Mediterranean diet is water. Black coffee, clear tea and red wine (no more than one 4 oz glass per day with a meal) are also enjoyed.

 

What’s Not Included?

 

Most foods that aren’t included are ones that are highly processed and unhealthy like:

  • Desserts
  • Processed meats
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages or fruit juices
  • Refined grains and oils
  • Excess salt
  • Added sugars

 

Bottom Line

 

The Mediterranean diet is a whole-foods diet focused on plant foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains). It also contains fish, olive oil, and herbs and spices. It is high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, healthy fats, and fibre; all of which are health-boosting from your head to your heart to your joints… and the rest of your body.

 

Don’t forget that health involves more than food alone. The Mediterranean diet is more of a complete lifestyle including regular exercise, social and community involvement and overall enjoyment of life.

 

Do you think you could add or ditch certain foods to get closer to the Mediterranean diet? Do you have a favourite recipe that embodies this way of eating? I’d love to know! Here’s my favourite Mediterranean Salad. And if you want help investigating which diet is best for you and your goals, book a call with Bonnie here.

 

 

Add your recipe or comments below.

How Turmeric Helps Arthritis

 

You might have read about the benefits of eating turmeric and be wondering…should I eat turmeric help my arthritis?

 

Turmeric’s special components include an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compound called “curcumin.” And this compound has been studied extensively for its health benefits as it relates to arthritis.

 

In case you’re not familiar with it, turmeric is a rhizome that grows under the ground like ginger. When you see it at the grocery store, it looks a lot like fresh ginger, until you cut into it and see the bright orange color. It is used in many foods, especially traditional curries. Many people use the dried powder found in the spice aisle, but sometimes you can find the fresh rhizome too (it’s slightly smaller than ginger).

 

Health Benefits of Curcumin

 

 

Curcumin is an anti-inflammatory compound. That means it fights inflammation. It works so well that a study on rheumatoid arthritis showed that it worked better than anti-inflammatory medications (without the side effects).

 

Curcumin is also an antioxidant compound. It can neutralize free radicals before they create oxidative damage to our cells. Curcumin also boosts our own natural antioxidant enzymes for double benefit.

 

These two functions of reducing inflammation and oxidative damage have numerous health benefits including reducing heart disease, cancer, dementia, mood disorders, arthritis pain, etc.

 

With all these benefits, you might think of it as the king of spices!

 

How to Maximize Absorption

 

 

Curcumin is not easily absorbed by your gut. But since it’s fat-soluble, you can increase absorption by eating your turmeric with a fat-containing meal.

 

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

 

>>>>>>Check out why and how I include turmeric in my diet!

 

Can you Get Enough from Food?

 

 

Most of the clinical studies use a curcumin supplement which is up to 100x more concentrated than what you would likely receive from a traditional diet that includes turmeric.

 

So, if you’re trying to address specific health symptoms (such as arthritis) with curcumin, you might need to get a larger dose.

 

NOTE: Before you take a curcumin supplement, always read the label and take caution if you are taking prescription medications. And, if you’re not sure if a supplement is the right path for you, book a call to speak to Bonnie.

 

>>>>>>>>Book your free strategy call here.

 

Bottom Line

 

 

Turmeric is a delicious spice, easy to include in your diet, and its active ingredient (curcumin) is a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound.

 

One of curcumin’s great benefits is to bust the chronic inflammation that exacerbates the pain of arthritis. It also has other amazing health benefits for brain and heart function, and even cancer-fighting properties.

 

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

 

>>>>>>>>Reminder to book your free 20-minute strategy session with me here.

 

I want to know: What’s your favorite turmeric recipe? I have some of my favourites here:

Turmeric Chia Parfait

Turmeric Banana Smoothie

Can Arthritis Trigger Migraines?

 

One of the questions that I’ve had from clients is whether their arthritis might be triggering their migraines. I’m lucky that I don’t personally suffer from migraines but if you do, you’ll know how they negatively impact your quality of life. The pain, vision problems, nausea, etc. can be debilitating; especially if they stick around for hours or even days.

 

While the exact cause is not known, many foods and drinks are thought to be common triggers. And the pain from arthritis can be a trigger as well.

 

This post will cover how foods and lifestyle factors (including your arthritis pain) may be at the root of your migraines and what you can do to reduce your risks.

 

How Arthritis Can Be a Factor

 

 

If you experience arthritis symptoms in your back, it’s possible that it’s from bone spurs or lack of cartilage. These are issues that can radiate pain to the head triggering migraines.

 

In order to reduce your pain experience from arthritis, it’s essential to work on your symptoms from a few angles. Reducing inflammation and managing weight are 2 important areas to focus your efforts. Diet, gut health, stress management, and movement are all key factors and are good places to start.

 

Not sure where to begin? Feel free to book a complimentary strategy session with Bonnie here.

 

Foods and Drinks to Consider

 

One of the main ways foods and drinks trigger migraines is by their action on the blood vessels in the brain. When the brain’s blood vessels constrict and then dilate (widen), this seems to cause migraines. Also, certain foods can cause an inflammatory reaction in certain people worsening their arthritis symptoms, so that could be a mechanism as well.

 

It’s important to note that your symptoms may come on soon after you eat the food and other times it may be several hours or a day later. And not all of these will be a problem for everyone.

 

 

  • Cheese – This food is on the list because it contains “tyramine” which is from an amino acid in the protein found in cheese. Other foods high in tyramine include those that are aged, cured, dried, smoked or pickled. These include sauerkraut and tofu.
  • Cured or processed meats – Things like hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon are in this category; this is because of their nitrates and nitrites that can dilate those blood vessels in the brain. Even if these are not a trigger for you, it’s best to eliminate them from your diet because of other health issues they’re associated with like colon cancer.
  • Chocolate – The evidence is conflicting, as some studies show a link and others don’t. You may or may not be sensitive to chocolate’s effects on the brain; you have to eliminate it to find out.
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG) – often found in Chinese food and is a common migraine trigger. There is not a lot of research on this, but it’s something to consider eliminating from your diet to see if it makes a difference.
  • Alcohol – Red wine and beer seem to be the most common culprits. We’re not sure why, but it may be red wine’s compounds such as histamine, sulfites, or flavonoids.
  • Ice and ice-cold water – try not to eat or drink things that are too cold.
  • Artificial sweeteners (e.g. Aspartame) – in diet sodas and other processed foods. As with MSG, there is not a lot of research on its effects with migraines. But again, it is something to consider eliminating from your diet and see if that makes a difference.

 

Bottom Line

 

There are many triggers for migraines, and your arthritis symptoms may be one of them. The best way to know is by working with a practitioner and/or keeping a diet and lifestyle journal for a few weeks. Make note not only of the foods you’re eating but also your stresses, activities, and pain to see what connections you are able to make.

 

Do any of the above trigger migraines for you (or someone you care about)? Let me know in the comments below.

Magnesium for Arthritis and Other Conditions

 

Magnesium is a mineral that we don’t hear about too much, but it’s one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies and plays many important roles. It’s a powerful anti-inflammatory mineral and it’s essential that we get enough each day. Read on to learn why and how to do that.

 

What Does Magnesium Do?

  • Helps lower stress levels. Magnesium is often referred to as the “relaxation mineral.” Serotonin, a natural mood stabilizer found mostly in our digestive system, requires magnesium for its production.
  • Helps regulate heart rates for those who are having heart palpitations.
  • Regulates enzymes needed for energy production, maintaining a balance of minerals and making DNA.
  • Helps maintain brain function by relaying signals between our body and our brain. It prevents overstimulation of nerve cells, which could result in brain damage.
  • Helps regulate muscle contractions. It opposes to calcium to help our muscles relax. Magnesium is commonly recommended for treating muscle cramps.
  • Helps reduce the risk of arthritis and other diseases such as heart disease, and diabetes.

 

Give its importance, it’s surprising that many people don’t get enough Magnesium. Some studies say that up to 68% of adults are deficient in getting the recommended daily intake (RDI).

 

How Much Do You Need?

Adult men should consume 420 mg/day, while adult women should consume 320 mg/day. Your healthcare practitioner may recommend a particular supplement form and dosage based on your personal history and symptoms.

A magnesium deficiency could lead to various health conditions, including muscle twitches and cramps, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes. So, if you are experiencing some of these symptoms, you may consider a supplement.

IMPORTANT NOTE: if you are taking a magnesium supplement, it’s best to work with a practitioner who can direct you to the best form and dosage for your particular symptoms.

 

Great Sources

However, there is good news … there are plenty of magnesium-rich food sources as well. Try some of these…

 

 

Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, so consider using a magnesium gel or spray that contains magnesium (NOTE: I like the Ancient Minerals brand that can be purchased online here – contact me if you want assistance in ordering). In our house, we also use magnesium flakes for soaking in a foot bath or tub.

 

Bottom Line

But, the yummiest way of getting in your daily magnesium – is to include plenty of food sources high listed above. Check out some of the links to recipes!!

If you want to discuss more about your own personal needs for magnesium, email Bonnie here to book a time to talk.

Top Foods for Hormone Health

 

Before determining the best foods for your hormones, it’s important to understand what hormones we’re talking about, what they do and how they work together. This knowledge helps us to understand how the choices we make can improve their functioning.

 

What Hormones Do

 

Hormones are chemical messengers that regulate nearly every cell in our body in some way. There are many different types of hormones.  When I talk about foods and diet choices, I am often referring to appetite-regulating hormones (e.g. insulin, leptin, and ghrelin). But today I want to add in information on our reproductive hormones (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone) and stress hormones (e.g. cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine).

 

Our reproductive hormones are responsible for sexual functioning and fertility, as well as in keeping our skin, hair & nails youthful.

 

Our stress hormones perform functions such as synthesizing proteins, maintaining water balance, and regulating our heartbeat and blood pressure.

 

How Hormones Work Together

 

When we are experiencing stress, we produce increased stress hormones. Adrenaline works on short term stress, and cortisol has high momentum and works on the long term, chronic stress. Traditionally stress hormones were produced to prepare us for a short-term physical threat, but nowadays our stresses often occur as long-term emotional worries about finances, health or other personal issues.

Unfortunately, the hormone cortisol is made at the expense of sex hormones. So, our stress levels can create a ripple effect, causing hormone imbalances and the resulting negative health symptoms. Cortisol also increases our blood sugar levels which cause increased insulin responses contributing to our carb cravings.

This interconnected nature of our endocrine system is important to understand so that we can begin to decipher the root causes of hormonal imbalances that are causing our overlapping health issues.

 

Signs and Causes of Hormone Imbalance

 

 

Some signs that your hormone imbalances have gotten out of control include:

  • Poor sleep or fatigue that’s not alleviated by sleep
  • Night sweats and hot flashes
  • Excess midsection body fat
  • Low libido
  • Acne or other skin issues
  • PMS symptoms
  • Moodiness and brain fog
  • Depression and/or anxiety

 

Do you see yourself in any of the above? While there are many causes, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Chronic stress
  • Endocrine disruptors like xenoestrogens
  • Poor nutrition causing lack of adequate nutrients and poor blood sugar management
  • Excess blue light causing disrupted circadian rhythms
  • Digestive issues and leaky gut causing systemic inflammation

 

Foods to Support Hormone Balance

 

 

Cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts improve estrogen metabolism and reduce breast cancer risk. (recipe here)

 

Protein. Meat, fish, eggs and hemp seeds are important to maintain muscle mass to help boost metabolic rate. (recipe here)

 

Vitamin D and Calcium are important to support bone health. Great choices are canned salmon or sardines (with bones) or broccoli. (recipe here)

 

Fiber. This is important to eliminate excess cholesterol and estrogen. A great choice is flaxseeds which also contain omega 3 and phytoestrogens. (recipe here)

 

Healthy fats. Good fats are essential for hormonal health because sex hormones need fat as a building block. And your body can only use the ones you give it. Opt for whole food fats such as avocados, nuts & seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter or ghee.

 

Foods to Avoid

 

 

Sugar and processed foods are linked to poor blood sugar management which can impact the ability to manage mid-section weight and reduce the quality of your sleep. This includes alcohol intake (sorry!).

 

Caffeine can worsen hot flashes; however, this may depend on how you personally metabolize caffeine. If you consume caffeine regularly and suffer from hot flashes, try eliminating caffeine for 3-4 weeks to see if your symptoms improve.

 

NOTE: Gluten and dairy (irritating to the gut and inflammatory) may cause or exacerbate hormonal problems for some people.

 

Manage Stress

 

 

As discussed above, chronic stress is a great contributor to imbalances in our hormones. Diet changes alone can make a measurable difference, but adding in stress management will help a lot. So, try some of these additional tips to support your diet changes.

 

Techniques like deep breathing, Emotional Freedom Technique, meditation, and yoga practice can bring our bodies into a state of balance. This allows us to shift from a state of sympathetic nervous system dominance (i.e. fight or flight) to parasympathetic (i.e. rest and digest) which allows our body to shift into its natural state of balance.

Why Antioxidants are Key and How to Get Them

 

Antioxidants are key to helping our body function optimally, but do you know what the best source of them is and how they help us? Today’s post is for you!

 

Antioxidants fight oxidation that occurs in the body. Oxidation is a natural process, for example, a browning apple or rusting metal. It occurs as a normal process such as when metabolizing nutrients or exercising. What happens is that molecules lose electrons and create free radicals.

 

Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to many diseases such as cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. What’s the solution? Antioxidants!

 

Some examples of antioxidants are vitamins A, C, and E. So are other phytonutrients in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds donate electrons to stop the oxidation process. An example is when you use lemon juice on your sliced apples, it slows down the browning process.

 

Not all oxidation in the body is bad. The key is maintaining a good balance between the process of oxidation and the availability of antioxidants.

 

Things like exposure to too much processed-food, alcohol, smoke and other pollutants can throw off the balance. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create excess oxidation.

 

The best antioxidants to combat this are colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. The more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has. Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.

 

Antioxidants in food

 

Check out these antioxidants and which foods they come from:

  • Vitamin A – liver, dark leafy greens, orange fruits & veggies (e.g. mangoes & carrots)
  • Vitamin C – bell peppers, citrus, berries, and dark leafy greens
  • Vitamin E – leafy greens, nuts and seeds
  • Carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene, lycopene) – tomatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and salmon
  • Phenols – green tea, black tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine, and berries

 

Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound). They also have one of the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorption capacity) levels.

 

Are Food or Supplements Better?

While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as consuming antioxidants from colourful plants. There is a fantastic synergy of phytonutrients that you receive when you get your antioxidants from food.

 

You definitely can’t out-supplement a poor diet, and there is a risk that you could consume too much of one thing. While I’m not against supplements and do take them myself, I make sure to “test, not guess”, and use my results combined with my symptoms so that I know what I actually need. Email me here if you want to learn more!

 

Bottom Line

 

Antioxidants are essential to helping our body feel it’s best.

 

We get antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols from colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.

 

You can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements; you’ll be missing out on the synergies of nature!

 

Which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favourites?

 

If you want some help in getting more balance in your diet or are interested in testing to determine your personal needs, please send me a note by clicking here so that we can set up a time to discuss it.

Is Red Wine Good or Bad?

 

I recommend that when out celebrating, the rules for healthy eating and red wine drinking can be relaxed. Not completely forgotten mind you, but for celebrations that don’t come around very often, you deserve a special treat! My tips for eating out post covers my recommendations. And based on this, I often choose alcohol as my treat when I’m celebrating.

 

So today, I want to dive into greater detail on red wine (my personal favourite). If you’ve heard that red wine is healthy, that’s because there’s evidence for this. But there’s a bit more to it. Read on for the details.

 

The Good

 

The kind of antioxidants found in the skins of red grapes (and therefore in red wine), like RESVERATROL, have anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation and oxidation are considered the root causes of most disease, so consuming antioxidant-rich foods is a key component in disease prevention.

 

Moderate consumption of red wine has been linked to many health benefits, like decreasing the risk of:

  • Heart disease – improved cholesterol, triglyceride, blood pressure & blood sugar levels
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • diabetes
  • certain cancers
  • osteoarthritis

 

The Bad

 

The biggest issue with red wine comes from overconsumption. Alcohol is the Goldilocks of the nutrition world. And everyone’s ideal amount is unique to them. Your personal genetics will determine your risks for overconsumption so knowing that can be beneficial because the general guidelines may not be appropriate for you.

 

>>>>>>>If you are interested in learning more about how to test your genes for this and other health and wellness markers, click to email Bonnie.

 

 

When consumed in excess, any alcoholic beverage can negatively impact your health, contributing to alcohol dependence, organ damage, and increased risk of several cancers. Some studies have also shown negative impacts on hormone balance.

 

Also, many of the benefits from studies in red wine consumption come from cultures where a whole foods diet is predominant such as the French and Mediterranean diets. And the consumption of red wine in these cases is moderate (i.e. 4oz per day with the largest meal).

 

So, is it a good diet that provides benefits or red wine? Lol!

 

Bottom Line

 

Red wine is not essential. If you aren’t a fan of wine or choose not to consume alcoholic beverages, there’s no reason to start drinking red wine for the sake of your health!

 

Plenty of other diet and lifestyle factors, like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, getting regular physical activity, not smoking, and managing stress can provide the same health benefits.

 

If you enjoy drinking wine, red varieties contain higher amounts of antioxidants and health benefits over white varieties. But like any other alcoholic beverage, it’s also important to remember to limit wine consumption. The health benefits of red wine only apply when it is enjoyed in moderation.

 

A good rule of thumb for total alcohol intake is to limit consumption to one (1) drink per day for women and one to two (1-2) drinks per day for men, with the largest meal, 5 days a week. Binging with 5 drinks one night a week is not a substitute! The serving size for one standard glass of red wine is 4 oz.

How I Started Using Essential Oils

 

I introduced essential oils (EO’s) into my life when I was starting to reduce the chemical products in my environment to improve my health. But when I bought my first bottles, I actually didn’t know what to do with them, and it took me a while to integrate them into my routines.

 

Now that I’ve been using them for the last couple of years, I have learned that the power of essential oils is real. They are more than just nice scents. They can help balance mood, improve sleep, boost immunity and more!

 

Today I’ll give you the basics you need to know, which ones to get started with and how I use them.

 

The Basics

 

Some EO’s come from seeds while others are extracted from the leaves of the plant. These extractions can be done through a process called distillation (either steam or cold-press).

 

Because they are so highly concentrated, it takes a tremendous amount of plant to produce just one ounce of oil. A little bit goes a long way! A normal “dose” to use is only a couple of drops.

 

If you see instructions on your oil bottle that calls for much more than that, it may be because it is diluted with a carrier oil (fat-based liquid such as fractionated coconut oil).

How to Use EO’s

Essential oils can be used 3 ways. Aromatically (e.g. in your diffuser), topically (e.g. applied to the skin either neat or mixed with a carrier) or internally (consult with an aromatherapist for this use)

  • Aromatic Use – This is the best place to start for most people. Getting a diffuser and experimenting with different oils is a fun way to get to know what you like.
  • Topical Use — Some oils are mild enough to apply directly to the skin (i.e. neat), but many will need to be combined with a fat-soluble carrier for application. Either a carrier oil in a roller bottle or added to a lotion are ways that I use oils topically. Topical use can provide good therapeutic benefits when a particular location is targeted.
  • Internal Use— While there may be an indication for internal ingestion of EO’s for therapeutic purposes, many of the ailments that we experience do not need such a heavy dose internally. I will take EO’s internally when they have been properly combined into a supplement or I will use a drop of oil I would normally include in cooking such as oregano, cilantro, lemon, etc. For anything more than that, please consult an aromatherapist.

 

Which Ones Do I Start With?

 

Here are some popular ones to try first. They make great staples in your medicine cabinet too!

Tea Tree (aka Melaleuca): Cleanse, soothe and heal
  • Combine a drop with your facial cleanser (or moisturizer) for added cleansing properties
  • Mix a drop with pure aloe vera gel and apply after shaving to soothe skin
  • Add a drop to shampoo or conditioner and massage into the scalp to invigorate scalp

Lavender: Calm the nervous system
  • Roll on the bottoms of your feet for a restful night’s sleep – or use in a bedside diffuser
  • Apply topically to help heal pimples, skin inflammation and irritation – test a drop on your skin to test for sensitivity; dilution may be required
  • Calm your stress! Combine a few drops with soap and add to your bath

Lemon: Cleanse and elevate mood
  • Use to remove gum, glue, or any other sticky residues from surfaces
  • Use in a diffuser to purify the air, creating an uplifting & refreshing aroma
  • Add to a spray bottle with vinegar and water to clean tables, countertops, and other surfaces (check out a recipe I use here)

Peppermint: Cool and energize
  • Place a few drops in your palm, rub together and inhale to open up airways (if you have an athlete in the family, this is great right before their sporting event!)
  • Reduce tension or cool off by rubbing on the back of the neck
  • Use as a natural bug repellent

 

I also love…

  • frankincense (for reducing inflammation) – one of my favourite blends is frankincense, peppermint and lavender combined to reduce headaches
  • clary sage (for hormone balance)
  • grapefruit (as an appetite suppressant)

 

Bottom Line

 

Essential oils are incredibly powerful and serve many purposes for the home and body. They are convenient in small packages and with some basic knowledge and a few high-quality oils on hand, you can enjoy many therapeutic benefits.

 

Do you want to learn more? I record a monthly video on how I use my oils that I would love to share with you. Sign up to receive it by emailing Bonnie here.

>>>>>>>>Email Me to Receive Essential Oil Information Here

Stress Isn’t Bad After All

 

Most people agree that stress is bad for our health. Yet because stress seems hard to avoid and because so many others feel some level of stress, we often do little or don’t make it a priority to reduce our stress levels.

 

I’ve written many times about what stress does to the body and also about different ways that we can reduce stress. But what if we decided that stress wasn’t the issue after all? Could you wrap your head around that one?

 

My first “aha” moment on a new way of thinking about stress was when I watched a TED talk by Kelly McGonigal titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend”.

 

Kelly explained so eloquently that stress is only bad for us if we believe it is. And she noted a large and interesting study that demonstrated this idea. Those individuals who believed stress was bad for their health experienced negative health symptoms from stress. And those who didn’t believe that didn’t experience the same health issues.

 

Her main point was that we can reframe our stress as good. In other words, it’s our perceptions about it that makes the difference. For example, the sweaty palms of nervousness we can reframe as excitement and our body’s way of helping us to get the energy we need to achieve something big.

 

This new idea can be very empowering since that means we are in complete control of our stress. However, it can also be frustrating because then we don’t have anyone else to blame for our stress either!

 

How can we suddenly change our perceptions like this?

 

 

Stress has become a generic word and what we need to do is go deeper and find out what the stress is about. Stress could be the over-achiever’s word for fear. For example, if we’re running late and feeling stressed about it, underneath it we’re worried about what other people will think of us when we’re not perfect.

 

So, what can we do? Here are some ideas…

  • Change our language to shift our mindset
  • Use mindset activities such as meditation or EFT
  • Get a coach, therapist or another practitioner to help

 

Change our language

 

We need to do the emotional work around being worried about what others will think. And reframing the language we’re using can help to switch our thinking. For example, make the following substitutions:

  • Replace “busy”                        with “productive
  • Replace “nervous”                  with “excited”
  • Replace “I have/need to”       with “I want/get to”

 

Pick something that you find yourself stressing about and choose another word to substitute. Try that on for a few weeks and see how it shifts your perspective.

 

Practice Mindset Activities

 

 

You can probably think of many mindset activities such as meditation, journaling, deep breathing, tapping, etc. There’s no one right activity for everyone. It just needs to be something that you will consistently practice. These types of activities actually shift your brain chemistry so that you feel happier and more satisfied in your life.

 

Get a Coach or Other Practitioner

 

Sure, mindset work is easier said than done. And even though there are lots of options to help us with our mindset and beliefs about stress, additional help may be useful. For most people, an objective perspective can make a big difference. We don’t think twice about getting a coach to help us train for a competition or event, so we need to extend that idea into other areas of our life. Reach out and get the help you deserve.

 

I have listed a few ideas here for you to start with on your own. You can also share your ideas and learn more in our FB Group. Or, book a quick chat with me where I can learn about your goals, understand what you’ve tried so far and help you decide what step to take next. Let me be your strategist and book a free call to discuss some ideas here.

How to Stay Young as Long as Possible

Have you heard of the “blue zones” full of communities of people who stay young and live a healthy life well into their nineties or even over a hundred? Have you believed that it’s just for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again…your genes are not your destiny. The power for a long healthy life lies in your hands. Let me help you learn how.

Lifestyle factors (i.e. the things you do every day over the long-term) add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan. Making healthy choices not only makes logical sense, but these choices also impact our gene expression for the better. Did you know that food affects gene expression?

The Blue Zones I mentioned above are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations. They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California. But do you have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity? Nope!

My top recommendations on how to focus your health choices for maximum benefit to yourself is:

  1. Know your genetic variants and learn what they mean in terms of your risk factors
  2. Use that information in combination with your symptoms to create a focused plan that is unique to you.

Your personal plan will likely include a lot of common-sense healthy habits that promote health and longevity, but you will have the added benefit of knowing what is of particular importance for you to focus on.

 

Creating Your Focus for Longevity

Eat a Plant-rich Diet

Blue Zone residents eat a heavily plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. But, it’s important to note that even with a whole, foods, plant-heavy diet, animal foods aren’t avoided.

And there are certain genetic variants associated with better weight management and neurotransmitter function with higher levels of protein in the diet. So if you know your genetic predispositions, you can tailor your diet accordingly.

Include Healthy Fats

Longevity is associated with increased heart-healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, and fish. Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.

But eating enough fat is even more important for some people with specific gene variants who can improve serotonin levels and weight management with increased fat consumption compared to others.

Stop Eating Before You Feel 100% Full

This is associated with the Japanese Hara Hachi bu idea of eating until you are 80% full. Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness. They eat slowly, chew their food thoroughly and give their brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat.

However, this can be more challenging for those who have the genetic variant that predisposes them to snack because they have less control over appetite regulation. I discuss this here. In this case, I recommend focusing on making the habit to reach for healthy options since appetite regulation is more challenging.

Drink Red Wine

Enjoying a glass of red wine a day increases your antioxidant intake, which is thought to decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease. It’s important to note here that 4oz of wine is considered a glass! And drinking more than that is associated with negative health effects.

Also, if you have a genetic predisposition to alcohol dependence, then this habit may not be right for you.

Move Your Body Throughout the Day

Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time. Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality.

Looking for opportunities to add any kind of movement into your regular routines is a good idea. But if you know your gene variants, then you can tailor your focus to what your body will most benefit from and respond to (i.e. cardio vs strength training), and what your risk of injury is.

You might try:

  • Stretching while you watch tv
  • Take an after-dinner evening walk
  • Park farther away from your destination
  • Choose stairs over elevators
  • Take stretching (or dancing!) breaks at work
  • Use a stand-up workstation to move between sitting and standing during the day

Bottom Line

The world’s longest living people include the above strategies into their regular routines. But knowing your genetic variations can help you to focus on what will be most beneficial for you for health and longevity. Want to know how you can find out? Book a call with me here and I will explain all the details.