Why You Need Vitamin K

 

Have you ever heard of vitamin K? Many people haven’t, so don’t worry. But if you haven’t heard of it, then this post is important for you to read. You will understand why you need this vitamin!

 

This vitamin is named after the word “koagulation” (the Danish spelling for “coagulation.”) Vitamin K is the vitamin that helps the blood to clot or coagulate. But it does a whole lot more for our bodies as well.

 

Vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (they are A, D, E & K). IN this post, I’ll explain what vitamin K does and how you can get it from your diet. Once you read this post, you will have a better idea of why you need this little-known vitamin.

 

Vitamin K’s Functions

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, the “K” stands for the vitamin’s ability to help clot our blood. And this is a critical life-saving measure to prevent blood loss from cuts and scrapes.

 

Vitamin K also works hand-in-hand with calcium in the blood. It helps to reduce our risk of fractures and cavities. It does this by making sure the calcium in our body goes to our bones and teeth where we need it, rather than into our tissues where it can cause damage. Having too much calcium in our blood can lead to kidney stones and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis). So, vitamin K helps to reduce our risks of those diseases too.

 

It also helps with insulin. Not only is vitamin K critical for making insulin, but also to keep your cells sensitive to it. This means that vitamin K can help you better regulate your blood sugar levels.

 

Vitamin K has a few other functions too. It can help to regulate your sex hormones. In men, it helps to maintain good levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, it can be helpful by reducing certain hormones causing their symptoms.

 

Finally, vitamin K can help protect against cancer by switching off cancer genes. Wow!

 

Vitamin K-rich Foods

 

 

There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2.

 

Vitamin K1 is found in plants; while vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented plants.

 

Vitamin K1 supports blood clotting. It is found mostly in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, collard greens, parsley, and Swiss chard), and asparagus.

 

Vitamin K2 also supports blood clotting and has additional health benefits. Bone mineralization and effects on cancer genes and sex hormones are primarily from the K2 version. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolk, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Two of the best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and liver. Chicken, beef and egg yolks will have a bit too. Look for the MK-7 form in a supplement if you don’t eat animal products.

 

Since vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to eat it with a bit of fat. This helps to increase absorption from the food into your body.

 

If you do want to supplement, make sure you follow the label directions. Some of the cautions include the fact that Vitamin K can interact with several types of medications (especially blood thinners), so make sure it’s right for you before taking it.

 

Bottom Line

 

Vitamins K1 and K2 are essential fat-soluble vitamins. They help to clot our blood, strengthen our bones, and regulate our sex hormones, just to name a few.

 

Vitamin K1 is found in green veggies, like cruciferous and leaves. K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.

 

I hope you now feel like you’re in the know about this amazing vitamin. Did you learn something new? Did you want to add something I missed? Remember, you can book a call to discuss your needs with me here.

>>>>>>>>>Book your nutrition SOS call here

 

Let me know in the comments below.

Foods for Healthy Skin

 

Do you ever experience skin issues such as dryness, redness, blemishes, etc.? For most people, their first “go-to” remedy is something topical. But did you know that skin reflects what’s going on inside the body?

 

Many creams and cosmetics that we put on top of your skin do more harm than good. So, today’s post focuses on the foods you can eat to nurture and nourish your skin to better health from the inside.

 

Your skin needs many nutrients to stay healthy such as water, essential fats, vitamins, and amino acids. I have updated this previous post with some new foods (plus a lifestyle tip) I highly recommend if your goal is healthier-looking skin. As a bonus, I have included a short list of some key foods to avoid as well.

 

Water

 

 

Hydration is key for healthy-looking skin! Water and other hydrating fluids are great to help your skin stay moist and supple.

 

And for a bit of an extra anti-inflammatory hydrating boost, try adding a squeeze of anti-inflammatory lemon to your water. And here are some more ideas on keeping your water interesting!

 

Fish

 

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

 

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

 

Examples of fish with high levels of omega 3s are salmon and sardines. And here is one of my favourite ways to make salmon.

 

Vitamin C-Rich Foods

 

 

Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen that supports the structure of your skin. So, foods rich in vitamin C are great for your skin. My top recommendations are: bell peppers, broccoli and brussels sprouts (these have even more than citrus fruits!). Two of those foods can be found in this recipe.

 

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

 

Bone broth

 

 

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

 

Glycine helps speed the healing of the skin and the gut. And, it’s easy to make using this recipe here.

 

Sleep more & stress less

 

I know these aren’t exactly foods, but they’re an important part of naturally great skin. When we don’t sleep enough, or stress too much our body increases stress hormones. This can increase inflammation and lead to not-so-healthy looking skin. Prioritize sleep and stress management, and you can see results in your life, and in your skin.

 

Here are some tips on increasing sleep and reducing stress.

 

Foods to Avoid

Some foods are inflammatory. And this can cause all sorts of issues in your body, including affecting your skin.

 

It’s hard to come up with one list of inflammatory foods for everyone. Each person is biochemically unique, so you have to listen to your body and see what applies to you. However, there are a few common foods that are inflammatory for everyone and are best to eliminate from your diet.

 

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

 

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

 

 

Bottom Line

 

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

 

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

 

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

Optimal Fuel for Your Workout

 

You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to need optimal nutrition before, during and after your workout. Movement is essential to your health (and keeping your joints healthy!) and fuel for your workout is just as important. If you feel confused about what to eat, you’ve come to the right place.

 

Here’s the latest on how to find the optimal fuel for your body before, during and after your workout so you can improve your performance, maximize your recovery, and feel great!

 

Fuel Before Your Workout

 

You don’t want to be working out with an empty gas tank. But you don’t want a stomach full of food either! If you get the timing right for your pre-workout meal, with the right nutrients, you’ll be able to lift more, run longer & faster, and speed up your gains. Plus, you’ll feel so much better doing it!

 

Since our body’s preferred, easy-to-access energy source is carbohydrates, your pre-workout fuel should be higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat. Protein and fat take longer for our body to digest and our body needs the energy available to put toward the workout. So, more protein and fat are better at other times in the day.

 

Timing – aim to eat about an hour before your workout to give your body time to digest.

 

Here are a few Pre-Workout options that work well for pre-strength or pre-cardio workouts:

  • Small apple and a handful of raw nuts (or nut butter)
  • ½ cup of plain oatmeal with berries

 

Fuel During Your Workout

 

 

Just plain water will do the trick during your workout. Experts recommend drinking between 3-8 oz of water every 15 minutes during your sweat session. Also, you can hold off on the sports drinks unless you’re exercising for 90 minutes or longer, or are exercising in extreme heat.

 

Sports drinks help to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes but are not necessary for the average gym user. Even better is to skip the sugary, neon-blue commercial sports drink all together and just whip up your own beverage for longer, sweatier workouts.

 

Coconut water is a great natural substitute or, here is a homemade electrolyte recipe for a fraction of the cost and infinitely healthier:

  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • ¼ lemon, squeezed
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • ¼ tsp pink or sea salt

 

Fuel After a Cardio Workout

 

It is recommended that you eat your post-cardio snack about 30 minutes after finishing up because your muscles are primed and ready to begin accepting nutrients.

 

And because you have been using more carbohydrate stores during a cardio workout (e.g. running or spinning) you’ll need to replace them by eating a snack or meal that is 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio – similar to your pre-workout ratio.

 

Try one of these snacks after your next cardio workout to replenish your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) used and to help you recover faster:

 

 

  • Carrot sticks & 2 Tbsp hummus or bean dip
  • 1 piece of fruit and a small handful of raw nuts or seeds

 

Fuel After a Strength Workout

 

With strength training, you’ll still want to consume your post-workout snack or meal within 30 minutes, but you’ll be changing the ratio of carb to protein here. This is important in order to recover and rebuild those muscles you’ve been working. This meal should be approximately a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

 

Here are a few examples of a balanced “post-lifting” meal:

  • Grilled chicken breast with roasted vegetables
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs and carrot sticks

 

 

Finally, I want to let you in on a little secret for faster recovery from your workout. Tart Cherry Juice!! Research shows that tart cherry juice helps to reduce inflammation, particularly from osteoarthritis!! You can incorporate tart cherries into your diet using this challenge or this smoothie.

 

Do you have a go-to recovery snack that you love? Please share it in the comments below.

Optimize Your Immune System

 

As we get into cold and flu season, it’s important to know about the easy changes you can make to optimize your immune system and reduce your risk of getting a cold. It’s no fun to be kept from doing everything that you enjoy! And, if you do happen to get sick, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.

 

These are actually things that you can do all year long to support your arthritis and joint health. But they’re also important to focus on so we don’t get sick when the weather turns cooler and we start to spend more time indoors.

 

First, I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.

 

Get Sick Less Often

 

 

Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting sick.

  • Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause sickness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.

 

NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance. If you don’t have soap and water available, I recommend using this OnGuard essential oil spray (you can make it DIY too).

 

  • Get enough nutrients. I know this is oversimplified, but it’s extremely important! Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients to work properly. Just because you’re eating enough calories doesn’t mean that those calories contain sufficient vitamins and minerals to help your body work the way you want it to. Especially important are the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E.
    • Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats.
    • Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers and citrus.
    • Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.

 

 

  • Eat prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favourite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds.

 

  • Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian rhythm? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you’re feeling great.

 

Recover from Illness Faster

 

 

When you do get an infection, you need more nutrients to help your body fight it off, so nourishing your body is even more important. Be sure to continue to use the tips above plus the additional ones below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.

 

  • Drink lots of fluids. Being sick can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the cold. And ginger is a natural antibacterial that can help support the immune system.

 

  • Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.

 

Bottom Line

 

There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And getting enough nutrients, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year-round.

 

If you do get sick, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some healthy fluids and extra rest.

 

Do you have something you swear by when you get sick? Let me know in the comments below.

Grapefruit: When You Need to Use Caution

 

Grapefruit is a vitamin C-rich citrus fruit that’s low in sugar and contains micronutrients such as vitamin A, potassium, and fibre. And the pink and red varieties also contain lycopene, which is beneficial for your heart.

It’s definitely a food with a lot of health benefits. However, like some other foods, it can impact your enzyme activity. With grapefruit, the enzyme it affects can create problems with certain medications so it deserves special attention.

 

Enzymes and Detoxification

 

Certain foods can increase or decrease enzyme activity. In some cases, this can increase or decrease the clearance of toxins and other substances by your liver.

 

Sometimes it’s beneficial to support the enzyme activity with food to improve your body’s detoxification process. For instance, cruciferous vegetables can speed up the rate that the liver detoxifies certain carcinogens, toxins and products of oxidative stress.

 

>>>>>>>>If you would like to know how your genes influence your detoxification enzymes and which ones you need to support, email Bonnie here to set up a time to discuss.

 

How Grapefruit Can Impact your Meds

 

 

Grapefruit (as well as Seville oranges, limes, and pomelos) contain a compound called “furanocoumarin.” It’s this compound that inhibits (stops) the enzyme CYP3A4 from working properly.

 

When working properly, this enzyme breaks down and metabolizes many compounds we ingest, including dozens of medications.

 

When the enzyme is inhibited, this slows down the function of the enzyme. This then slows down the rate that medications are metabolized and eliminated from the body.

 

If you slow this process down, this leads to higher than normal levels of medications in the blood – up to 137% higher! In a sense, you are overmedicating which can cause problems and increase unwanted side effects.

 

Grapefruit affects the metabolism of some of the following categories of medications:

  • Blood pressure – causes blood pressure to drop too low
  • Birth control – increases the risk of blood clots
  • Chemotherapy
  • Anti-infection
  • Cholesterol-lowering
  • Immunosuppressive – often taken with rheumatoid arthritis
  • Urinary tract agents
  • Some over-the-counter cough medication

 

When the medication is taken within 24-72 hours of consuming grapefruit (yes, up to three days later!), there can be a potential side effect. And for some medications, the grapefruit effect can be serious. Serious effects include heart and muscle issues and kidney toxicity, just to name a few.

Bottom Line

 

Since one glass of grapefruit juice can affect the enzyme’s function for over 24-hours, it’s advisable to stop eating the grapefruit altogether while you’re taking certain medications.

If you love eating grapefruit and are taking medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist to see if this affects you. Some medications are not metabolized by this enzyme, and even if they are, this grapefruit effect may not pose a serious risk.

 

If you need to replace grapefruit in your diet, try another citrus fruit (like oranges or lemons). Or, talk with your doctor about swapping for another medication that’s not affected by grapefruit. Here are a couple of recipes that use orange and lemon juice…

>>>>>Orange Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

>>>>>My Fave Blueberry Lemon Salad

 

Do you know someone who loves grapefruit or its juice, and is taking medications that have the grapefruit effect? Share this post to let them know that they should double-check with their doctor or pharmacist before enjoying this awesome fruit.

Does Tea-Drinking Support Joint Health?

 

Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.

 

Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits thought to be related to its antioxidant properties. Tea contains flavonoids known as catechins that are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits.

 

There are different types of teas, the most commonly consumed is black and green. Here are some of the benefits and differences.

 

Antioxidants

 

 

First, they both come from the camellia Sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea because of how they’re processed.

 

Green tea leaves are steamed, this keeps the green colour. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.

 

Black tea leaves are NOT heated. They continue to oxidize (and turn black) until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have less antioxidant ability than green tea.

 

NOTE: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability further.

 

Caffeine

 

 

Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per cup. If you are a fast caffeine metabolizer, then this can be a beneficial source of antioxidants for you. If you are a slow metabolizer, then the caffeine remains in your body for an extended time causing problems such as high blood pressure. So, it’s important to know your genetics! If you are interested in this kind of testing, contact Bonnie here.

 

Health Benefits

 

Tea drinking, in general, is associated with good health. Both green and black tea drinkers tend to have higher levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers.

  • Joint health – Although green tea has higher polyphenol levels, both green and black teas can help ease joint pain in arthritis sufferers. The EGCG in green tea is stronger than vitamins C and E and help to prevent collagen-induced arthritis.
  • Heart health – Green and black tea drinkers have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.
  • Cancers – Antioxidant flavonoids reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Blood sugar – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. Some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity. Just don’t add sweetener!

 

Bottom Line

 

 

Both green and black teas are from the same plant but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does, but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.

 

Overall, tea drinkers, have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea has a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases. And you can use matcha (green tea powder) too if you like (recipe for a matcha latte here).

 

When you enjoy your tea, avoid adding milk and/or sweeteners as these reduce some of its health-promoting properties.

 

Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below. And try one of my favourite green tea treats here.

 

Want to know more about whether drinking tea would be beneficial for you? We are all unique and some people react differently to the caffeine in tea than others. And matcha is more concentrated than regular green tea. To learn more about it may connect with your personal symptoms, book a call with Bonnie here.

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.