Smart Snacking: Bring Some Balance into Your Diet.

Hello everyone,

The most common complaints I have in clinic are people struggling with energy levels, especially in the afternoon. It all comes down to balancing macronutrients during meals, and smart snacking. Finding some quick, easy and affordable snack options to keep energy levels high, blood sugar balanced and hunger at bay is easy with a little inspiration. Protein-rich, nutrient-filled snacks like the ones below can be a great way of bumping up your nutrition intake for the day – and are a delicious excuse to take a break from study and have a little down time. Some other great examples are:

  • Raw almonds/nuts/seeds
  • Dates filled with nut butter
  • Brown rice cakes with almond butter and cinnamon
  • Veggie sticks (carrot, celery) with hummus
  • Green apple smeared with peanut butter

I’d love to hear any of your go-to snack ideas too!

Simple Snacks

Greek Yoghurt, Cinnamon and Nuts

Simple as that. Just add a sprinkle of cinnamon to a few spoonfuls of Greek Yoghurt, top with any nuts or seeds you have (I love buckinis and walnuts!) and enjoy! Add some berries for an extra Vit-C and antioxidant hit! We also have a couple of homemade granola options in the  “breakfast” recipes section on our website.

Here’s a simple example: 

Mix together: 2 C Organic Steel-Cut Oats, 3/4 C Coconut Flakes, 1/2 C Chopped Almonds, 1/2 C Chopped Walnuts, 1 tsp Cinnamon Spice, 1/2 tsp Nutmeg/allspice, ½ tsp cardamon, 2 Tsp Chia Seeds, 4 Tsp organic virgin pressed coconut oil, Melted, 1/2 C Maple Syrup/Rice-Malt Syrup, 1 tsp vanilla. Optional: Dried cranberries/apricots. Pour the granola mixture onto the prepared baking sheet. Spread into an even layer to ensure an even roasting. Bake for 30 minutes or until granola is a nice golden brown, stirring every 10 minutes to ensure an even bake.

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Healthy Sweet Potato Wedges

First things first, preheat your oven to 180°! You want it nice and hot so the wedges go extra crispy. Just cut your sweet potato into chunks, arrange on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper or some cumin if you feel like spicing things up! Place in the oven and 30-35 minutes later you’ll have some perfectly cooked sweet potato wedges.

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Bliss balls

Bliss balls are the best grab-and-go snack – make a batch for yourself today and you’ll be set for the week! These Almond butter and Protein Bliss balls are perfect for regulating your blood sugar levels and providing a healthy boost of good fats! Yum!

Here’s a simple example:

Add to food processor: 2 scoops vanilla protein (any pea/rice, organic variety), 1 tbsp almond butter, 2 tsp maple syrup, 2-3 dates (pitted), 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds, 1 tbsp coconut flour, pinch of sea salt, 1/4 cup of water. Process until ingredients start to bind together. Roll into balls and top with extra almond butter and cinnamon.

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Smoothies

Smoothies are another easy snack option. Just blend up some easy-to-find, pantry-staple ingredients and pour into a glass – or jar!

Everyone’s Favourite: 

SUPER CHOC BANANA BERRY SMOOTHIE – SERVES 1

This sweet, chocolatey, berry goodness will make you feel as though your having a cheat day, however your body will thank you for the high intake of nutrients, and antioxidant-rich superfoods. This will aid your body to fight free-radical, remove toxins, detox, and rebuild. 

Ingredients:

1 Frozen Banana

Handful Mixed Berries

2-4 Pitted Medjool Dates

1-2 tsp Cacao Powder

1 tsp Chia seeds

1 tsp Maca Powder

1 tsp Beetroot powder

1 Tsp of Goji Berries

½ Avocado

2C milk of choice (Soy, Almond, Coconut)

Handful Ice

 

Method:

Blend all ingredients together to form a smooth consistency. Enjoy!

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Don’t forget to check out all the recipes available for free on the website for some more delicious inspiration!

Healthiest Regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Hidden Food Allergies: The underlying cause of chronic illness

Hello everyone,

Here is a question that we probably never think to ask ourselves… Is it possible that the foods that we eat (even supposedly healthy foods) are the cause of our chronic illnesses?

Migraine Headaches, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Asthma, Depression, Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue, Panic Attacks, Eczema, Chronic Allergies, Arthritis, Sleep Disorders including sleep apnea and snoring all may have a common cause… hidden food sensitivities. Attention Deficit Disorder, Chronic Ear Infections and even Autism in our children have also been linked to foods that they may be sensitive to.

All of us are familiar with overt food allergies… this is the kind of allergy where the food is consumed and within minutes or hours a reaction occurs, which can range from hives all the way to anaphylactic shock. This is known as a Type 1 food allergy, which involves the IgE antibody, and is very easy to self-diagnose… you eat the food and you have a reaction.

The IgE antibodies attach themselves to “mast cells” which, when activated by the offending food, release histamine and other chemical mediators producing classic allergic reactions such as hives, wheezing, swelling, stomach cramps, diarrhea, or more rarely, anaphylaxis. These cells are located in the linings of the digestive tract, urinary tract, skin, and airways, and surround small blood vessels.

Less well known and much harder to self diagnose are the Type 3 food allergies. A different antibody causes these reactions… IgG. The mechanism by which IgG antibodies evoke their allergic reactions is through the formation of immune complexes of antibody attached to food particles. The complexes circulate throughout the body via the bloodstream, rather than being attached solely to mast cells; they may affect any tissue, organ or system of the body.

Whereas the Type 1 allergies only occur in 2-3% of the population and are obvious when they happen, the Type 3 allergies may occur in up to 95% of us, and may not show up for 2 to 3 days, or sometimes up to a week, later. This is why they are known as “delayed-onset” allergies or sensitivities.

There are two main difficulties encountered when figuring out what is really going on with the foods that we eat and which ones we are reacting to negatively. First, because there is not an immediate response, it is difficult to pinpoint which food caused the problem… was it the broccoli that you ate 3 days ago or the bread you’ve had every day for the past week or the sesame oil that was used to prepare the stir-fried chicken and vegetables from the carry-out the other night?

The second complicating factor is that the actual reaction that you have may be in a form that you do not normally associate with an allergy. You know those cluster headaches you’ve had since you were a teenager? Or that irritable bowel issue that seems to crop up at the weirdest times? Or that low-level depression that your doctor keeps telling you is just a Prozac deficiency? Or that skin condition that prescription creams don’t seem to work for anymore? The list goes on and on… and the reason goes back to a keen understanding of the complex nature of how the body works… it all happens because these IgG antibodies can attach themselves to any tissue or organ that you have… and then disrupt normal functioning!

A disturbing fact is that most of us are reacting to anywhere from 3 to 10 different foods in this manner, sometimes up to 20 foods. And they are often foods that we think of as being healthy for us… milk, wheat, vegetables, fruits, nuts. Foods implicated in type 3 allergies are frequently favorite foods commonly eaten in large amounts.

It is important to note that a food intolerance, for example lactose intolerance due to insufficient lactase enzyme to digest milk sugar, is not a food allergy; however, intolerant individuals often suffer from allergy to cow’s milk. Casein, a milk protein, is one of the most common allergens in the Standard American Diet (SAD). Soy protein is also high on the list of common offenders, making soy products a poor substitute for dairy, unless testing has deemed it a “safe” nonallergen.

Other common food allergens include gluten (from wheat and other grains), yeast, corn and eggs. Chemical food additives, preservatives, and food colorings can also contribute to the problems of food allergy.

You may ask why it is that we come up with these allergies in the first place. I believe the answer is found by closely examining our dietary habits today compared to those from the vast majority of our history. Throughout history, we have eaten foods that were grown locally, picked fresh, and did not contain additives, preservatives, colorings, flavorings, etc. Furthermore, we ate the foods that were available to us according to our climate and the particular time of year.

Today, we eat what is known as a “monotonous” diet, even though we may not really be aware of this fact. Monotonous means repeating the same foods over and over again; not necessarily boring. There are many foods that we eat that appear and taste different, even though the base ingredients are the same… thus is the magic of modern food technologies. Many of the prepared foods that we eat use the same ingredients as flavorings. Furthermore, our diets today contain a large percentage of grains, compared to ancient cave man diets, which had no cereal grains.

Of course, none of us eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, and you can usually count on two hands the variety that we do eat. In other words, our repertoire of foods has become less and less varied as time goes on. The constant, repeated exposure to the same food is the reason the body creates a mechanism to make you change your habits… the creation of the IgG antibodies is your bodies attempt to make you pay attention and make a change in your diet.

Unfortunately, in today’s medical climate, we respond to the health problems we have by prescribing pills instead of making substantive changes in our lifestyles, including changing what we eat. In fact, we are so far removed from that process now that we don’t even realize what is occurring.

So how do we find out which foods may be the ones to avoid? Skin testing, by the scratch test, as well as certain IgE blood tests identify type-1 food allergies only, but not type 3. Delayed type food allergies require an ELISA blood test that detects IgG antibodies to the problem foods.

Once the hidden food allergies have been identified, then the hard work begins… these foods need to be avoided! When tested, food allergies get reported in two levels… foods to avoid and foods to rotate.

The foods to rotate are ones that have registered a minor allergy and should be eaten no more often than every 3 days. Foods to avoid need to be avoided for up to 6 months, then reintroduced one at a time to test for continued reactivity. Retesting is sometimes warranted. Occasionally, there are foods that need to be avoided for longer periods of time.

Sometimes avoiding these foods may produce cravings and withdrawal or increased suffering instead of relief. There are often times strong emotional ties to certain foods, and the breaking of these cycles can be a trying experience. Eventually the withdrawal symptoms will subside and then you start feeling better. If cravings occur, they will usually only last a few days!

At the same time, care should be taken not to eat a monotonous diet consisting of “safe” foods, or new allergies may develop to these foods over time.

There are a whole host of nutritional and herbal supplements that may be helpful in dealing with these hidden food allergies and your body’s response to these food. They include:

  • Digestive Enzymes – a plant based digestive enzyme will help your digestive tract be more efficient at breaking down foods into their smallest parts.
  • Methyl Sulfonyl Methane (MSM) – this is a naturally occurring form of sulfur that helps to calm your body’s over-reaction to inhaled or ingested allergens.
  • Essential Fatty Acids – these “healthy” fats are anti-inflammatory in nature and help with overall gut and immune system function.
  • Quercetin  – this bioflavanoid works to stabilize mast cells, thus it is known as the natural anti-histamine.
  • Probiotics – these “good bacteria” play a vital role in the normal functioning of the gut and help with digestion and assimilation of food. They also play an important role in proper elimination and immune function.
  • Glutamine – this amino acid is basically “fuel” for the gut cells to help them reproduce and function properly.
  • A Multi Vitamin – including Vitamins A, B-6 & C and Minerals like Magnesium & Zinc, which all play important roles in proper gut function and repair.

All of these supplements help to eliminate the food allergy, improve gut health, remove toxins from the body, fight inflammation, and improve immune system function.

So, as it turns out, there are many foods that you may think are healthy that actually are at the root of many of your chronic health conditions. Chances are that the foods you are reacting too are ones that you eat on a regular basis (maybe even have cravings for) and you likely have no idea that they are cause for concern.

Care to try an experiment? Determine which food is the most common in your diet and then completely eliminate it for 3 weeks. I’m willing to bet you start to feel better… and that may come in the form of better energy, better sleep, better mood, or the beginnings of control with your blood sugar, blood pressure or even a little weight loss.

Healthiest Regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Hemp: The Ancient Super Plant

Hi everyone,

I’ve had quite a number of enquiries regarding hemp products of late, and with the recent proposal for low-THC hemp food products to be sold in Australia being approved by ministers in April, we can expect to see hemp food products filling up our shelves over the next six months. Industrial hemp, unlike marijuana, has extremely low levels of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the chemical component that causes psychoactive effects such as hallucinations. Cultivation of hemp for industrial purposes has been done by many civilisations for over 12,000 years, with such uses as rope, canvas, paper, and clothing. It has also been used in Chinese medicine for over 3,000 years.

Genetic Difference between hemp and Marijuana

A recent publication of a new study shows the genetic difference between hemp and marijuana. (1) After more than 12 years of research, the team found a single gene responsible for the genetic differences between hemp and marijuana as noted:

While hemp produces a non-euphoric cannabidiol (CBD) with approximately 0.3 to 1.5 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration, marijuana is packed with between five to ten percent (or even higher) psychoactive THC concentration.”

The researcher believe they have ‘indisputable evidence’ that hemp and marijuana should be regarded as separate plants.

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Botanical Name: Cannabis Saliva

Hemp seeds, or hemp hearts, are rich in healthy fats, minerals and is classed as a complete protein (this means it contains all 9 essential amino acids). Hemp seeds are usually consumed after the hard outer shell is removed, leaving just the soft, creamy ‘heart’ behind. The seeds have a slight nutty flavour, making them incredibly versatile for use in cooking, baking, for adding to smoothies and salads.

Health benefits of Hemp Seeds

  1. Excellent source of Nutrition

Hemp seeds are composed of more than 30 precent healthy fats in balanced ratio of Omega 3 & 6, Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), antioxidants, amino acids (25% protein), fiber, iron, zinc, carotene, phospholipids, phytosterols, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin E, chlorophyll, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, copper, potassium, phosphorus, and enzymes. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a necessary building block for some prostaglandins; Hormone-like chemical in the body that help smooth muscles, control inflammation, body temperature, aid in healthy growth of cells, nerves, muscles and organs throughout the body.

*GLA may be beneficial for PMS and menopausal Symptoms

GLA in hemp seeds produces prostaglandin E1, which reduces the effects of the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is thought to play a role in the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). GLA in hemp seeds may also help reduce the symptoms of menopause. (2)

Essential fatty acids in Hemp Seeds:

The oil contained in the hemp seed is 75-80% polyunsaturated fatty acids (considered ‘good’ fats) and only 9-11% of the lesser desired saturated fatty acids. Hemp seed oil is reputed to be the most unsaturated oil derived from the plant kingdom. EFAs are involved with producing life’s energy throughout the human body and without them, life is not possible. Fatty acids are utilised in the body to synthesis hormones, aid in tissue repair, provide energy ‘fuel’ and assist in neurotransmitter activity. 60% of the brain is actually fat!

  1. Heart health

Hemp seeds contain a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega-6 Linoleic Acid and Omega-3 Linolenic Acid – for cardiovascular health and general strengthening of the immune system. In these numerous health-healthy compounds, including the amino acid arginine. L-arginine is a precursor to nitric oxide in the body. It has been shown to enhance blood flow and help the body maintain optimal blood pressure. Nitric oxide signals the smooth muscles cells in the blood vessels to relax, so that vessels dilate and the blood flows more freely.

This help the arteries stay free of plaque; and when the body has inadequate nitric oxide, the risk of coronary artery disease increases. The GLA found in hemp is an anti-inflammatory, and may assist in reducing risk factors associated with heart disease such as blood pressure, blood clots and an increase in recovery after a heart attack.

  1. Skin Health

Fatty acid deficiency can manifest in a variety of ways, but skin problems such as eczema, thick patches of skin, and cracked heels are common associations. Hemp seeds are a rich source of fatty acids in optimal omega 6 to omega 3 ratio. Research suggests hempseed oil may improve symptoms of atopic dermatitis, and potentially provide relief from eczema. (3)

  1. Plant based-protein

If you are following a plant-based diet, hemp makes a healthy source of complete protein. With all essential amino acids and an amount of protein similar to beef (by weight), hemp seeds are an excellent option. Two-three tablespoons of hemp seeds provides about 11g of protein, complete with amino acids lysine, methionine, and cysteine. Two main proteins in hemp seeds, albumin and edestin, which is comparable to soy and egg whites. Hemp’s edestin content is among the highest of all plants. It is also easy to digest because of its lack of oligosaccharides and trypsin inhibitors, which can affect protein absorption.

  1. Digestion

Whole hemp seeds contain both soluble and insoluble fibre, which may support digestive health. Soluble fibre dissolves into a gel-like texture, helping to slow down digestion; this helps you feel full for longer and is one reason why fibre may help with weight management. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve, and helps to add bulk to the stools. This helps food move through the digestive tract more quickly for healthy elimination.

Fibre plays an essential role in digestive, heart, and skin health and may improve blood sugar control, weight management, and reduce risk of colon cancer. However, de-hulled or shelled hemp seeds (also known as hemp hearts) contain very little fibre, as the major of fibre content is in the shell.

Final thoughts

The use of hemp for food and medicine may be as old as the human race itself. Recent interest in the seed arises from the awareness of the nutritional need for omega-6 and omega-3 essential fatty acids, as well as the need for cheap sources of protein to feed a burgeoning population in Asia and the developing world. In addition to its nutritional value, hemp seed has demonstrated positive health benefits, including the lowering of cholesterol and high blood pressure.

With news of hemp seed products being approved for sale in Australia, companies will no doubt be developing hemp and hemp-like products in processing techniques have been the start of such seemingly remarkable foods as a hemp seed tofu and a low fat cheese substitute that even melts and stretches like real cheese. I don’t like overly promote processed foods, so if we were to start adding in hemp, it would be in the form of hemp seeds, pure and simple. I also don’t think that hemp should replace other animal/vegetarian protein sources-but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have a place in your diet. Just as soy products had become a marketing promotion for ‘healthier’ alternatives, Hemp soon will too; and with all processed food products moderation is key.

Healthiest Regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment.

Hemp Scientific Research

  1. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nph.13562/full
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21069097
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16019622

Love your guts: Solutions for Optimal Digestive health and Function

Hello everyone,

Gut health has become hot topic in the media of late, but in traditional Naturopathic Philosophy it is a core essential for optimal health. Not surprising then, that management of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) is a key step in managing almost all other body systems. The gut is a complex machine and dysfunctions can have profound influence over other body systems. As a result of this complexity, managing digestive disorders isn’t always a simple process, and there are many other contributing factors that can lead to GIT dysfunction.

Within the digestive system there are six main areas that we can influence based on the Naturopathic principles. These areas must be functioning optimally in order to maintain health and wellbeing. These are viewed below:

Diet

The food we consume provides the body with energy and nutrients requires for metabolic pathways, but also has a strong influence on digestive health. For example, a diet high in refined carbohydrates and saturated fats may result in dysbiosis (imbalance) of the gut.

It’s important to make food choices that help to support and nourish the digestion including fruits, vegetables, fibre, good quality proteins, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and wholegrains. Some individuals with food intolerances/sensitivities may benefit from elimination diets, and FODMAPS, however, these diet should be a short-term option.

Enzymes

Most food consumed contains nutrient complexes that are too large for the body’s cells to utilise. In a healthy system, digestive organs secrete acids and enzymes that break down nutrients to make them small enough for the cells to metabolise. When digestive secretions are reduced due to an imbalanced system, nutrient absorption is also compromised and may need prescribed digestive enzymes to function properly.

Bacteria

As more research continues into the world of the human micrbiome, our understanding of the importance of the balance of microflora in the GIT is increasing. Microbial imbalances can refer to pathological bacteria being present in the gut but also inadequate levels of beneficial bacteria, both of which can result in unfavourable ‘terrain’. this can have detrimental impact in the gut and on many other body systems, particularly immunity. This balance can be restored through the use of anti-microbials, good quality probiotics and diet/lifestyle corrections. The foundation of Naturopathic medicine.

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Barrier

There are three main lines of defence in preventing bacteria from penetrating the gut barrier. First line, immunoglobulin A (IgA);which binds bacteria and therefore, keep those bacteria in the digestive tract where they can do less damage.

Second Line of defence is mucous. This is a physical barrier between the gut lumen and the epithelium which prevent bacterial adherence to epithelial cells. Nutrients such as glutamine, zinc, vitamin A, fibre, turmeric and Aloe Vera increase levels of IgA and improve mucosal integrity.

The third line of defence against bacteria in the GIT is the epithelial cells. These cells have selective permeability designed to exclude detrimental particles and absorb beneficial items such as nutrients from food. In sub-optimal digestion, the tight junctions between these cells can open, causing leaky gut. This allows foreign particles to penetrate the gut barrier.

Immune

Did you know 70% of immunity is in your gut?

Immune balance is influenced by the gut microbiome, and in turn, gut microbiome is influenced by immune balance. Immune-driven inflammation in the gut can lead to barrier dysfunction, so it’s important to address immunity when considering gut health.

The immune system can be treated with individual specific immune protocol and the gut microbiome can be brought back into balance. Probiotics, zinc, vitamin C and glutamine all assist in maintaining the health of immune cells, and balance of the microbiome environment.

Enteric Nervous System

Have you heard the commonly held belief that the body’s second brain is the gut? This is referred to by the enteric nervous system (ENS) and its role in digestive health. The ENS regulates the behaviour of the GIT including motility and gastrointestinal secretions. managing stress an supporting the nervous system can have a massive impact on the gastrointestinal system. This can be particularly apparent in individuals with medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

And remember you are more microbiome than you are you. Feed them before they feed on you. Support your system with a balanced, whole food diet, learnt to manage stress, exercise, particularly outdoors and spend time tuning into your spiritual side. This is all part of loving your self and loving your guts!

Healthiest regards,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment.

Let’s Talk Dirty: Health Protocol for Constipation

Hello everyone,

In a naturopathic perspective, health begins with digestion. It’s where all the action happens including the breakdown of food products that are used within the body for important metabolic pathways such as ATP production (energy fuel), detoxification pathways, cellular catabolism (building) and rebuilding muscle. As a complementary and alternative health practitioner, we often ask in-depth questions about your digestion, including bowel habits, as your poo can tell us a lot about your health.

Quick Disclaimer: ***Before reading this health information – please note that a sudden change in bowel function can be the indication of a more serious condition – if you have had a sudden change in bowel function without any obvious reason to attribute the change to, then you should inform your Physician about this change and determine if further evaluation is needed before you attempt to treat this condition on your own; especially if you are over the age of 50.

Constipation is not respected enough as to it’s potential negative effects on health in Western medicine – and our societal discomfort with even discussing this important issue is part of the problem.

The first thing to understand is that your gut is your “first brain”. Proper gut function is the very beginning of good health – and often times the font of disease. If there is a back up in the sewage system then the gut can’t function properly.

Also, the way that we “define” constipation in medicine is dead wrong. I have seen responses from GPs telling people the following… “if someone has a bowel movement every 3 days, that is normal for him or her – that’s just their own rhythm.” That would be similar to telling someone with cancer, that for him or her it is “normal” to have cancer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

What nature intended is food in; food out. Ideally, if you have 2-3 meals a day, you should have 2-3 bowel movements a day. At the very least, you should have 1 bowel movement daily. Food transit time should be somewhere between 10 and 14 hours.  Think of it this way, your stool travels through the colon, absorbing toxins ready to be excreted. If your not opening your bowels every day, toxins are in your system longer making it easily accessible to your micro biome, and can easily enter your blood stream.

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“The Bristol Stool Chart is an excellent tool in practice used by most medical practitioner and complementary practitioners. Your poo can tell a lot about your health.”

Diet:

  •  There are 3 areas in the diet that can positively or negatively affect constipation; water, fiber and good bacteria.
  • Without adequate amounts of water the stool can become too hard and slow the whole process down. You should strive to drink at least half your body weight in ounces every day. And most of this should be consumed in-between meals – drinking too much water (or anything else) while eating only works to dilute digestive juices.
  • Fiber is important because it adds bulk to the stool and encourages the message to your intestines to “move things along.” Fiber comes from grains, beans and legumes, fruits and vegetable. The lack of adequate fiber in the Standard American Diet (SAD) is a constant negative factor is normal bowel function. The more a food is processed the less fiber it will contain. Although there are accepted guidelines as to the amount of fiber you should get in your diet – the real number is best determined by evaluating your bowel function – more is generally better.
  • The dead cells of the good or friendly bacteria, as they run through their life cycle in the gut, make up about half of the bulk of stool. So when there is a lack of this, constipation is often the result. The relatively recent idea that we should live in a sterile environment continues to contribute to imbalances in our guts. Furthermore, people that have had their appendix removed may have a harder time maintaining a balanced intestinal flora. Eating fermented foods and avoiding tap water and antibiotics from meat can be helpful in maintaining a healthy biomass of good bacteria.
  • Lastly, hidden food sensitivities can be the cause of chronic constipation. Eliminating such common offenders as gluten, dairy, corn, soy and/or eggs might fix what has been a lifelong problem.

Lifestyle: 

  • The biggest lifestyle issue revolves around exercise. The more you move; the more you move! Consistent exercise will helps massage the internal organs, including the digestive tract, and encourages peristalsis, the wave-like motion that constantly pushes things along.
  • Also to be considered are certain prescription medicines. Medicines can have a myriad of effects in the gut. Obviously, antibiotics will kill the good bacteria. Medicines that stop acid production in the stomach interfere with your ability to properly digest food – and the body doesn’t want to move undigested food along. Many pain medications can slow down the digestive tract; constipation can be the result.
  • Additionally, constant use of laxatives can lead to dependence and partial or complete loss of proper bowel motility.

 

  • Lastly, there are times when emotional issues show up in the body by causing constipation. Quite literally, you might ask yourself what it is that you are “holding on to” emotionally that can relate to not letting go of physical waste.

Supplements: 

  •  

     

     

    For various underlying causes

  • Magnesium: that draws water to it as it travels through the bowels, helping to encourage bowel movements. It can also produce a laxative effect.
  • Fish oil acts as a bowel lubricant and a natural stool softener.
  • Probiotics: Improve gastrointestinal integrity and maintain a healthy bacteria ecosystem within the colon.
  • plant-based digestive enzymes enhanced with enzymes to help folks with gluten and casein (dairy) sensitivities.

Healthiest Regards

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment

Flu Season: A holistic Approach to Staying Well this Winter.

 

Statistics: 

Every year in late summer and early fall we begin to hear about the coming flu, how dangerous it is, and how the best way to protect ourselves is by getting the flu shot. Both of these statements are patently false.

First of all, the flu is not really dangerous. When the CDC, Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, tells us every year that so many people die from the flu, if you look at the numbers closely you will see that they actually say that so many people die from flu and pneumonia each year. For example, in 2005, deaths for both flu and pneumonia combined were 61,000. But deaths from influenza alone were only around 1800 people. And, in fact, deaths from influenza since 1979 have been fairly consistent, averaging around 1300 people each year.

The second issue is that of the flu shot being useful in protecting ourselves. There is an organization, the Cochrane Collaborative, that is an international collective of individuals who evaluate scientific data from all over the world and publish their findings in the form of reviews. When reviewing scientific data, they throw out studies that are biased and/or designed poorly.

Their reviews of studies looking at the effectiveness of flu vaccines quite clearly show that there is little or no evidence that the flu vaccines are useful in the following populations… babies under 2 years old, children with asthma, adults, elderly adults. Furthermore, Cochrane reviews also show that healthcare practitioners that get flu shots do not protect the elderly in nursing homes that they take care of.

The real reason we get the flu is the combination of a few simple factors that, when adjusted, make it much easier to avoid the flu and much easier to treat the flu if contracted.

Factor number one has to do with our lifestyle habits that make our immune systems less effective at fighting off the influenza virus. There is more detail about this in the lifestyle section, but here is a synopsis of the issue. October begins a 3-month long sugar eating, lack of sleep, stress-inducing time period that we expose ourselves to. Beginning with Halloween, and then Thanksgiving, the Holidays, and culminating with New Years, we get too much sugar, not enough sleep, and stress galore trying to accommodate family and friends, buy the perfect gifts, etc.

The other factor has to do with our Vitamin D levels dropping. Did you know that there really isn’t a flu season along the equator? That’s because proper exposure to the sun, year round, keeps Vitamin D blood levels elevated; which plays a major role with appropriate immune function!

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Diet: 

  • For dietary concerns there are “do’s” and “do not’s”

    The “do not’s” really revolve around sugar… in all of its various forms. That obviously means cakes and cookies and candies and doughnuts. It also means avoiding too many processed and refined carbohydrates. Too much pasta, bread and cereal can be just as detrimental. Also, take an inventory of how much high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) you are ingesting in your diet. You might be surprised to find that some of your foods, like soups or salad dressing, contain this health-damaging form of sugar. Here is a link to an article for more details about HFCS.

    Fruit juices are also a source of concentrated fructose that should be avoided.

    The ‘do’s” have to do with foods that give your body, and in particular your immune system, what it needs to function optimally at this time of year. It may seem obvious, but I’ll state it anyway… more fresh fruits and vegetables will serve you well. Please also remember that water is essential for all cells to work properly, including your immune cells. Water also helps loosen and break up mucus in the chest and sinuses, so ensure you’re getting adequate supply of water throughout the day. Aim for around 2-3 Litres/day.

  • Adding spices such as ginger, garlic and turmeric to your cooking. Making healing soups, casseroles and stews to warm the body is a wonderful healing tool.
  • Herbal teas including liquorice, eucalyptus, elderberry, ginger and parsley can be soothing and healing for the body.
  •  

    For the Vitamin D issue – there are really no viable ways to get enough Vitamin D from your diet – you must supplement with it – see the supplement section below for more information.

Lifestyle: 

  • The following issues are of equal importance – so don’t just grab on to the one thing here that is easy for you to do. Give each of these areas equal and fair attention!
    • Wash your hands. Often. There is no question that the major way that you get exposed to the influenza virus is from the hands of someone else.
    • Get your sleep. Your immune system is acutely affected by lack of quality sleep. Try to stick to a fairly rigid sleep routine during the cold and flu season. This may be hard to do because of parties, visiting relatives and too many things on your to-do list. It may seem like you’re missing out on some of the fun… but you’ll be the one having fun when everyone else is in bed with the flu.
    • Get your exercise. Again, don’t stray from your scheduled exercise regimen just because of the time of year it is. If walking is your gig and it’s too cold outside, walk inside at one of the local malls. Make sure that at least 4 times a week you are getting some aerobic and some weight-bearing exercise in.
    • Tend to your stress needs. Maybe the biggest factor in a dysfunctioning immune system is stress. And the cold and flu season is the most stressful time of year for many people. So start by pledging to be more observant of how you are feeling and when you are feeling stressed. And when you are, find a way to sooth yourself immediately… don’t wait for “later” because for busy people, later often never comes. Be willing to care for yourself as much as you care for everyone else.

Beneficial Supplements: 

  • There are supplements to use now to help prevent the flu and ones to use if you happen to get the flu.

    For Prevention:

    • Vitamin D3: Activated form of Vitamin D known as Cholecalciferol. It is bioavailable to the body for ready absorption. Getting your vitamin D blood levels to at least 50ng/ml will give you an amazing level of protection, i’d even recommend aiming for up to 80ng/ml. For most people this will require at least 5,000IU – 10,000IU a day. I also recommend that you get your vitamin D blood level checked to best know the appropriate dosage for you.
    • Herbal Remedies: Elderberry extract is a powerful remedy that sort of makes a blockade to viruses being able to enter into your cells. This can be used in anticipation of a situation that you know you are going to be exposed to the flu.
    • Vitamin B Complex vitamin and Zinc.

    For Treatment:

    These supplements are best used at the very first sign of getting the flu. So, if you wake up in the morning feeling that scratchy throat or sinus congestion, you want to have these things in your home already – don’t wait until you get sick to go find these supplements.

    • Vitamin D3. Using high doses of Vitamin D-3 at the beginning of symptoms is a very effective way to avoid getting the full-blown flu. For most people, taking anywhere from 25,000iu to 50,000iu a day for a few days does the trick.
    • Iron Phosphate Mineral Therapy salts. For first sign inflammation and sickness such as a runny nose, tickling throat and headaches. Tablets are safe to use, and safe in efficacy. Usual dose is 2 tablets chewed every 15-30mins until feeling better, used in acute cases, and or chronic 3-4 tablets chewed daily. (Usually this is a preventative measure).
    • Zinc has been shown to be effective at helping to prevent the spread of the influenza virus in the body. These lozenges also contain Vitamin C, Slippery Elm and Bee Propolis. Use up to 3 a day.

*Disclaimer: This article should be used as a reference guide ONLY. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you experience any symptoms of the flu. Never self-diagnose as it can be dangerous, causing unwanted side effects and possibly cause chronic conditions. 

If you have any questions, feel free to get in contact with me

Healthiest regards throughout the colder months,

Tegan, Nutrition Nourishment 

 

Healing Herb of the Week: Turmeric

Hello everyone,

In today’s blog, I’m going to talk briefly about turmeric, its main actions and its clinical uses. Turmeric, particularly its active constituent, curcumin, has become a popular supplement in our western world, for inflammatory concerns, however, turmeric has been long used for medicinal purposes, and its discovery dates back to 2500BC. It was traditionally used to colour french robes a mustard colour and also the robes of hindu priest, before both Indian and Chinese Traditional Medicine therapies began to use turmeric for the treatment of inflammatory and digestive disorders. I’ve written this out in a convenient and easy to read fact sheet format.

Turmeric

Botanical Name: Curcuma Longa

Active Constituents: Curcumin. This is a collective description for a group of phenolic compounds called curcuminoids. It also contains Essential Oils, 1.5-3% total mass, along with resins and starches/fibres.

Part Used: Root (Rhizone) 

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Main Actions:

 Demonstrated to modulate over 150 different physiological pathways in the body. 

Anti-oxidant: Scavenges free radicals, enhances the activity of endogenous antioxidants such as glutathione peroxidase. Induces Phase II detox pathways, more potent than Vitamin C. Reduces inflammation and protects the cells from oxidative damage.

Gastrointestinal Activity: 

  • Hepaprotective, which means it protects the liver from chemical induced damage.
  • Antispasmodic, meaning it relieves spasms within the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Cholagogue. Main action in stimulating bile form the gall bladder to help break down fats in the body.
  • Hypolipid. Aids in protection against oxidative damage from crystallise plaques in the arteries. This is why it may be benefically in Cardiovascular disease to help lower LDL cholesterol (known as the ‘bad’ type) and reduce total cholesterol plasma levels.

Scientifically Proven Alzheimers Fighter.

Alzheimers is characterised by a build-up of amyloid beta plaques (a tangle to protein fibres) in the brain. The active form of Vitamin D activates type I macrophages and churchmen activates type II, to help protect further damage from the disease.

Cancer-Preventative: Inhibits invasion, proliferation (rapid-growing) and metastasis (spread) of various cancers.

Immunomodulation: This relates to the immune system and its ability to fight foreign invaders that attack the body on a daily basis. Turmeric has shown to increase White Blood Cell production, and circulating antibodies.

Clinical Uses: In practice, varies medical practitioner can therapeutically use turmeric and its concentrate, curcumin, for concerns such as cancer, psoriasis, peptic ulcersm dementia, Rheumatoid arthritis, Auto-immune disorders, Carodivascular disease, liver disease and diabetes.

Actions Overview: Anti-oxidant, Carminitive, Anti-inflammatory, anti-platelet, hypolipidaemic,anti-ulcerative, hepatoprotective, immune enhacing and chemoprotective.

Clinical Indications: Suffers of Oestoarthritis/Rheumatoid Arthritis, Cancer patients, dyspepsia, liver insufficiency, alzheimer patients, high cholesterol and peptic ulcers.

Caution: Relatively safe to use, however, caution needs to be taken when prescribing for patient with gallstones, and anti-platelet medications, due to turmeric increasing these areas of metabolism within the body.

Dosage: 4-10gram daily in divided doses (dried whole root). This can be incorporated into herbal teas, curries or stews. With supplementation, generally its active constituent curcumin, it can be found upwards of 300mg.

My final thoughts: As a Whole Food Nutritionist and an avid reader of current/past scientific research studies, I encourage the use of turmeric in your diet, rather than curcumin, in supplementation form. This is due to turmeric containing the addition of Essential Oils and Resins/fibres, found within the original plant material, that can provide exceptional anti-inflammatory and into-oxidant benefits that unfortunately curcumin cannot live up to in terms of proven medicinal therapies. Turmeric has been used as a food accessory nutrient for thousands of years, and the benefits have long been know. It’s only recently that we have been able to extract the curcuminoid compounds form the plant materials for use in supplemental forms of therapies.

As much as I have seen these supplements benefits clients, it is no match to adding turmeric into the diet, along with other healing herbs such as garlic, ginger, parsley, thyme and coriander. These herbs are not only safe to use in our diet, they can add so much flavour and depth to our cooking at home, without the need to adding sugars or salts to find a suitable flavour.

I hope your’ve been able to increase your current knowledge on turmeric and curcumin from this fact sheet. I encourage you to always seek medical advice before starting a new supplementation, as these can have cautions, interactions, warnings and contra-indications just a prescription medications do.

And As Always

Healthiest Regards

Tegan- Nutriton Nourishment

 

Heavy Metal Toxicity: Background, Symptoms and Treatments

Hello everyone, 

Many of the elements that can be considered heavy metals have no known benefit for human physiology. Lead, mercury, and cadmium are prime examples of such “toxic metals.” Yet, other metals are essential to human biochemical processes. For example, zinc is an important cofactor for several enzymatic reactions in the human body, vitamin B-12 has a cobalt atom at its core, and haemoglobin contains iron. Likewise, copper, manganese, selenium, chromium, and molybdenum are all trace elements that are important in the human diet. Another subset of metals includes those used therapeutically in medicine; aluminium, bismuth, gold, gallium, lithium, and silver are all part of the medical armamentarium. Any of these elements may have pernicious effects if taken in quantity or if the usual mechanisms of elimination are impaired.

The toxicity of heavy metals depends on a number of factors. Specific symptomatology varies according to the metal in question, the total dose absorbed, and whether the exposure was acute or chronic. The age of the person can also influence toxicity. For example, young children are more susceptible to the effects of lead exposure because they absorb several times the percent ingested compared with adults and because their brains are more plastic and even brief exposures may influence developmental processes. The route of exposure is also important. Elemental mercury is relatively inert in the gastrointestinal tract and also poorly absorbed through intact skin, yet inhaled or injected elemental mercury may have disastrous effects. 

Some elements may have very different toxic profiles depending on their chemical form. For example, barium sulfate is basically nontoxic, whereas barium salts are rapidly absorbed and cause profound, potentially fatal hypokalemia. The toxicity of radioactive metals like polonium, which was discovered by Marie Curie but only recently brought to public attention after the 2006 murder of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, relates more to their ability to emit particles than to their ability to bind cell proteins.

Exposure to metals may occur through the diet, from medications, from the environment, or in the course of work or play. Where heavy metal toxicity is suspected, time taken to perform a thorough dietary, occupational, and recreational history is time well spent, since identification and removal of the source of exposure is frequently the only therapy required.

A full dietary and lifestyle history may reveal hidden sources of metal exposure. Metals may be contaminants in dietary supplements, or they may leech into food and drink stores in metal containers like lead decanters. Persons intentionally taking colloidal metals for their purported health benefits may ultimately develop toxicity. Metal toxicity may complicate some forms of drug abuse. Beer drinker’s cardiomyopathy was diagnosed in alcoholics in Quebec, and later Minnesota, during a brief period in the 1970s when cobalt was added to beer on tap to stabilize the head. More recently, a parkinsonian syndrome among Latvian injection drug users of methcathinone has been linked to manganese toxicity.

Currently, millions of people living in and around Bangladesh are at risk for organ dysfunction and cancer from chronic arsenic poisoning from the water supply. In an effort to bypass ground water sources rife with bacterial contamination, tube wells were sunk throughout that area, deep into the water table. Bedrock rich in arsenic gives these deeper water stores—and the crops they irrigate—a high concentration of arsenic, and toxicity is epidemic throughout the area. Childhood lead poisoning linked to the ingestion of old paint chips in the North American setting is another good example of environmental contamination.

Metals have been used as instruments of murder. Arsenic is perhaps more rightly classified as a metalloid, but it is consistently the single substance most commonly thought of as a poison. Metals have also been used in warfare as chemical weapons. Again, arsenic was the primary component of the spray known as Lewisite that was used by the British during trench warfare in World War I. Exposure produced severe edema of the eyelids, gastrointestinal irritation, and both central and peripheral neuropathies.

This article provides a brief overview of general principles in the diagnosis and management of metal toxicity. The Table below reviews the typical presentation of the most commonly encountered metals and their treatment in summary form. It is not intended to guide clinical decision in practice or for self-diagnosis***

Typical Presentation of the Most Commonly Encountered Metals and Their Treatment

Metal Acute Chronic Toxic Concentration Treatment
Arsenic Nausea, vomiting,

“rice-water” diarrhoea,

encephalopathy,

MODS, LoQTS,

painful neuropathy

Diabetes, hypo pigmentation/ hyperkeratosis

cancer: lung, bladder, skin, encephalopathy

24-h urine: para,

50 µg/L urine,

100 µg/g creatinine

BAL (acute, symptomatic)

Succimer

DMPS (Europe)

Bismuth Renal failure; acute tubular necrosis Diffuse myoclonic encephalopathy No clear reference standard **
Cadmium Pneumonitis (oxide fumes) Proteinuria, lung cancer, osteomalacia Proteinuria and/or ≥15 µg/ g creatinine **
Chromium GI hemorrhage, hemolysis, acute renal failure (Cr6+ ingestion) Pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer (inhalation) No clear reference standard NAC (experimental)
Cobalt Beer drinker’s (dilated) cardiomyopathy Pneumoconiosis (inhaled); goiter Normal excretion:

0.1-1.2 µg/L (serum)

0.1-2.2 µg/L (urine)

NAC , CaNa2 , EDTA
Copper Blue vomitus, GI irritation/ haemorrhage, hemolysis, MODS (ingested); MFF (inhaled) vineyard sprayer’s lung (inhaled); Wilson disease (hepatic and basal ganglia degeneration) Normal excretion:

25 µg/24 h (urine)

BAL, D-Penicillamine, Succimer
Iron Vomiting, GI haemorrhage, cardiac depression, metabolic acidosis Hepatic cirrhosis Nontoxic: < 300 µg/dL

Severe: >500 µg/dL

Deferoxamine
Lead Nausea, vomiting, encephalopathy (headache, seizures, ataxia, obtundation) Encephalopathy, anaemia, abdominal pain, nephropathy, foot-drop/ wrist-drop Pediatric: symptoms or [Pb] ≥45 µ/dL (blood); Adult: symptoms or [Pb] ≥70 µ/dL BAL, CaNa2 , EDTA, Succimer
Manganese MFF (inhaled) Parkinson-like syndrome, respiratory, neuropsychiatric No clear reference standard **
Mercury Elemental (inhaled): fever, vomiting, diarrhea, Inorganic salts (ingestion): caustic gastroenteritis Nausea, metallic taste, gingivo-stomatitis, tremor, neurasthenia, nephrotic syndrome; hypersensitivity (Pink disease) Background exposure “normal” limits: 10 µg/L (whole blood); 20 µg/L (24-h urine) BAL, Succimer DMPS (Europe)
Nickel Dermatitis; nickel carbonyl: myocarditis, ALI, encephalopathy Occupational (inhaled): pulmonary fibrosis, reduced sperm count, nasopharyngeal tumors Excessive exposure: ≥8 µg/L (blood)

Severe poisoning:

500 µg/L (8-h urine)

**
Selenium Caustic burns, pneumonitis, hypotension Brittle hair and nails, red skin, paresthesia, hemiplegia Mild toxicity: [Se] >1 mg/L (serum); Serious: >2 mg/L **
Silver Very high doses: hemorrhage, bone marrow suppression, pulmonary edema, hepatorenal necrosis Argyria: blue-grey discoloration of skin, nails, mucosae Asymptomatic workers have mean [Ag] of 11 µg/L (serum) and 2.6 µg/L (spot urine) Selenium, vitamin E (experimental)
Thallium Early: Vomiting, diarrhea, painful neuropathy, coma, autonomic instability, MODS Late findings: Alopecia, Mees lines, residual neurologic symptoms Toxic: >3 µg/L (blood) MDAC , Prussian blue
Zinc MFF (oxide fumes); vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain (ingestion) Copper deficiency: anemia, neurologic degeneration, osteoporosis Normal range:

0.6-1.1 mg/L (plasma)

10-14 mg/L (red cells)

**

** No accepted Chelation regimen; Contact toxicologist regarding treatment plan.

For more information regarding toxicity of metals, metal detox, sources of metals or treatment, click on the following links

http://naturopathconnect.com/articles/heavy-metal-toxicity-symptoms/

https://draxe.com/heavy-metal-detox/

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/31-surprising-sources-of-toxic-heavy-metals.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4144270/

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/poisoning

And please be sure to check the number for your local poisoning hotline in case of emergency.

Healthiest Regards

Nutrition Nourishment

Eat With The Seasons: How Seasonal Produce Improves Your Health

Hello Everyone,

At last we say goodbye to long, hot summer days and warmly welcome the cooler change of autumn. With it’s falling leaves, cooler, foggy mornings with the sun rising over the country paddocks, the cows and horses begin to stir and look up at the orange and pink sky. Autumn is by far my favourite season, and especially when i live so close to nature on my nan and pop’s farm.

 

Before we started the mass import and exportation of goods a few decades ago, we had no choice but to eat seasonally. That’s all that was available. We had watermelons in summer, when it was hot, and root vegetables in winter. It makes sense, as watermelon will cool us down in the heat of summer and root vegetables are made into soups or roasted – keeping us warm in the cool.

Understanding what your body needs will not only improve the health of our planet, but yours as well. Eastern medicine and philosophies have understood the interconnectedness of the body, mind and spirit for centuries, but only recently has it found its way into Western lives.
These days though, you can pretty much buy anything you want all year around in a supermarket, as it’s more than likely been imported. But learn from farmers’ markets: if it’s not available, chances are it’s not in season – a good sign you’re not meant to be eating it then anyway.

Eating local is a way to cut down on food miles and emissions. Economically, you support your own community, not large companies. Environmentally, your food travels less, and you know more where it’s coming from. Other benefits include solidarity with food producers doing things on a smaller scale, and the opportunity to eat more natural, whole foods. On that note, eating more natural foods is also good for your health — an aspect of local eating that isn’t always the center of the discussion about reducing food miles.

So, what are the health benefits of eating local? If you needed any more convincing in order to get shopping local, here are a few of the health advantages.

 

Local Matters

Just as the leaves start to lose their moisture so do we, both internally and externally. We will likely experience drier skin, coughs, dandruff and constipation. To prevent or reduce these symptoms, eat foods that nourish and moisten, such as nuts and seeds and their oils (tahini, olive, almond and flax oil), wholegrains like barley and millet, and apples, pears and avocado. Foods that build up our blood in preparation for winter are figs, pears, pumpkin, and beetroot. The flavour associated with the lungs is pungent so ginger and wasabi are especially helpful during this season.

Eating local is a way to cut down on food miles and emissions. Economically, you support your own community, not large companies. Environmentally, your food travels less, and you know more where it’s coming from. Other benefits include solidarity with food producers doing things on a smaller scale, and the opportunity to eat more natural, whole foods. On that note, eating more natural foods is also good for your health — an aspect of local eating that isn’t always the centre of the discussion about reducing food miles.

So, what are the health benefits of eating local? If you needed any more convincing in order to get shopping local, here are a few of the health advantages.

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Eating local means fresher food

When produce doesn’t travel across the country, or sometimes the world, its freshness means higher nutrient value. Once produce is packaged its optimal nutritional level decreases, specifically some vitamins such as C, E, A and some B. There are other factors that come into play, such as exposure to artificial lights and air, and temperature changes. Of course produce that has traveled still has nutritional value, but produce consumed immediately after its harvest is not only healthier but tastier as well (ever compared a freshly picked strawberry to a grocery store one?). This is due to the fact that the fruits and vegetables are allowed to ripen longer on their branches, vines, bushes, etc. rather than being picked early so as not to spoil during transportation and packaging. Local produce that is destined for local markets is picked at its prime ripeness, meaning your food will not only be healthier but also taste better.

Eating local means seasonal

Eating local also means following the natural flow of the seasons if you’re eating whatever the closest farmers have to offer (such as picking up a CSA box). For ecologists, this means following the natural flow of diversity and discovering local varieties, which might not exist in increasingly uniform grocery stores. This certainly helps to avoid the issue of eating the same foods all year round, which is not ideal for your health. In addition, Japanese research found that spinach harvested in the summer vs. the winter had three times more vitamin C. Additionally, food that is grown seasonally and close by might contain more nutrients that we specifically need at that point of the year. It’s very easy in our big, box store world to forget what foods we should be consuming at which points throughout the year, but finding a balance with what we eat and the seasons can benefit us as well as the planet.

Eating local means being engaged

Many of our current environmental and health issues are due to modern agriculture, and if we engage with our local, natural sources of food, we not only help out local producers, but help our own health. Modern food is packed with sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, all of which have been linked to chronic diseases. Getting our food from local sources (ideas below), means having a lot more fresh produce on our hands.

Engaging with what has traditionally been grown in an area is becoming increasingly popular. The website of the Decolonize Your Diet movement speaks of food as medicine; not just for the body, but for the soul as well. The site encourages eating the local, indigenous foods of an area in order to reconnect with culture and health. Good resources for indigenous eating may be found through their work.

In this same vain, the Guardian posted an article recently on the ability of indigenous diets to fight modern diseases. It explains that many micronutrients have been lost in the modern, processed way of eating, which are still present in local foods. Above and beyond the health benefits, such a shift could help bring humans closer to the Earth, and foster a more concrete link between consumers and producers. The story cites millet, spirulina, roots and tubers as regional foods grown in different parts of the world that contain disease-fighting micro-nutrients. In addition to the alternatives of indigenous crops to modern agriculture, wild foods also offer nutritional bonuses. And, when it comes to such nutrient-dense foods, it’s quality (not quantity) that matters, meaning that only a small amount of a wild food can contain large health benefits.

Fortunately, eating more locally is becoming easier as it becomes more popular. Farmer’s markets have sprouted up all over, some even during the winter. So what have you got to lose? Get out there and get cooking local!

Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

 

Healthy Habits: Get Smart on Reading Food Labels

In an ideal world, we’d have the time to cook every one of our meals from scratch using only the freshest, healthiest ingredients. But realistically—between juggling school, work, friends, family, and other responsibilities—most of us resort to prepackaged food a little more often than we’d like to. That said, eating packaged snacks isn’t the worst thing in the world. If you have a good handle on how to read a food label, you can make sure that even your packaged meal options are as close as possible nutritionally to the food you would choose to make at home.

Today I’m sharing a few tips to help you decode those ubiquitous food labels. Reading the Nutrition Facts can feel a little like trying to decipher a secret code. There are numbers and percentages, and you’re not sure which ones to pay attention to and which ones to ignore.

Start With Serving Size

Serving size is perhaps the most important thing to look at when you’re reading a food label. The serving size influences every other number that follows, so ask yourself how many servings you are actually eating. If the serving size is 1 cup and you’re eating 2, you will be doubling every other nutrient number on the label as well. Unhealthy snack foods are notorious for listing much smaller serving sizes than what the average person ends up eating. So, if you are going to gobble up that whole ‘snack size’ bag of chips, at least beware that there may actually be 2.5 servings per bag according to the manufacturer.

Make Your Kilojoules Count

Many people are in the habit of counting kj’s and ignoring the rest of the label. But what are kj’s exactly and how much do they matter? Kilojoules provide a measure of how much energy (heat) your body gets from a serving of food. Keeping track of kj’s is indeed one factor that can help you manage your weight (lose weight, gain weight, or maintain it). But it is by no means the only number that matters. Instead of just counting kj, focus on how nutrient dense a food is. If it has lots of protein, fiber, healthy fats and vitamins in a moderate number of calories, it’s a good, healthy choice. Consuming ‘empty kilojoules,’ or foods with little nutritional value, is the thing to avoid.

Pay Less Attention to Recommended Dietary Intakes (RDI)

The Reference Daily Intake or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) is the daily intake level of a nutrient that is considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97–98% of healthy individuals. The amount of kilojoules a person actually needs will vary depending on a number of significant factors such as age, gender, physically activity, goals, and countless other factors.The Nutrient Reference Value’s (NRV’s) for Australia and New Zealand have a website that provides excellent information regarding nutrients, dietary energy and energy requirements for individuals of different groups. However, it is important not to over think those percentages, and just focus on choosing whole foods with a good dose of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

Know That Not All Fats Are Bad Fats

Fats are listed first on the Nutrition Facts, and they’re also the thing that most people are afraid of, however, you don’t need to be fat-phobic if your aware of what fat actually is and how to differentiate good fats from your bad fats. The good fats can provide the body’s precursors for hormones, increases insulin sensitivity and improves skin health. Trans fats and Saturated fats are the bad fats to look out for. If you would like more information on fats in the diet, See our Macronutrient Series on fats Part 1 and Part 2.

Get the Skinny on Sugar, Carbs, and Fiber

Since there is no percent listed for sugar, it can be even trickier to tell whether the amount of sugar per serving is a lot or a little. Many people might be surprised to hear that 4 grams of sugar equals about one teaspoon. So that a can of soda with 40 grams of sugar? That’s a whopping 10 teaspoons of added sugar! Sugar does nothing to nourish your body, so it is full of the empty calories I mentioned before. Avoiding added sugar is important in items like yogurt, tomato sauce, protein bars and condiments. But what many people don’t know is that all carbohydrates (except fiber) break down to glucose or blood sugar. The kicker here is fiber; fiber doesn’t turn to glucose, so the more fiber a product has the less carbohydrates are turned to glucose. Instead of being afraid of carbohydrates too, just choose natural sources of carbohydrates that are also high in fiber like root vegetables. If you would like more information regarding sugar, be sure to check out our blog post Macronutrient Series on Carbohydrates that take an in-depth look into sugars and how the body utilises them.

Keep an Eye on Ingredients

Keep an eye out for a few red flag ingredients that are common in processed foods. With nut milk’s increasing popularity, it is important to avoid carrageenan, an additive that is linked to intestinal permeability (leaky gut), gastrointestinal inflammation and malignant tumors. Nut milks without carrageenan may be easier to find in the refrigerated section than among the shelf-stable cartons. Also, try to steer clear of cheap oils like safflower, sunflower, soybean and cottonseed oils. These oils have recently been replacing trans fats in a lot of foods, but they’re no better for you. Avoiding these is a great way to try and balance out fatty acids in the body. And as a general rule, the fewer ingredients you can’t pronounce, the better! It’s likely that many of them are preservatives and chemical additives.

Comparison Shop

One of the best ways to make healthy food choices is to comparison shop. Unless you’re a nutritionist, it can be hard to look at a food label in isolation and know whether it’s good for you or not. But if you are comparing two similar items side-by-side and notice that one is higher in fiber and protein but lower in sodium than the other, you can at least feel confident that you are making the healthier choice.

I hope you now feel a little more confident navigating the frozen or snack food aisle!

As Always,

Healthiest Regards

Nutritionnourishment

For more information please click on the following links below.

https://www.nrv.gov.au

http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/Pages/default.aspx

https://www.eatforhealth.gov.au/eating-well/how-understand-food-labels