Creating a Mindset for Health

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference? That thing is MINDSET! Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset. And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought. Very interesting health mindset study Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study. Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people’s health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers. What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if they actually weren’t less active! How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if …

Need a Mood Boost? Eat This.

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right? Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods. While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods. First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health. Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings. Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods. Mood-boosting foods Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So, make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. …

How Much Sugar is Too Much?

It’s official! Organizations and governments are (finally) declaring a maximum amount of daily sugar intake. While this is a step forward, there are still a few problems. One – they don’t all agree with each other. And, two, I don’t necessarily agree with them either. We all know sugar is NOT a health food. It isn’t full of nutrition, and excess consumption is not associated with great health. The problem is that sugar is everywhere. It’s naturally occurring. It’s also added to just about every processed food there is. And this “added sugar” is a factor in many chronic diseases we see today. Sugar is inflammatory. Too much is associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and cavities. Too much sugar is a huge health risk, no matter how you look at it. So let’s talk about how much sugar is “too much.” Added sugar vs. naturally occurring sugar. What do some of the officials say? Before we talk about the “official” numbers (and why I don’t agree with them), you need to know the difference between “added” sugar and “naturally occurring” sugar. Fruit and other healthy whole foods …

Mindfulness and Meditation… Do They Really Work?

Well…yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation. Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.” “Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body. Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post. The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors’ visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent! So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too. Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and …

Here’s How to Make Cooking More Fun

If you don’t love cooking, maybe I can help to make it more fun for you? I know that sometimes I don’t find cooking to be all that fun. I can get into a rut just like everyone else. So that’s why I’ve listed my best “fun” cooking tips for you. Fun Cooking Tip #1 Check out new recipes. Sometimes just seeing the beautiful food photos and reading the recipe can spark some inspiration and fun in your kitchen. You can head to your local bookstore. Or look up your favorite nutritionists, chefs, bakers, and other online foodies. Maybe do a quick search on Google or Pinterest to see thousands of new ideas. Perhaps you have some ingredients in your fridge that are just waiting to be eaten. Pro Tip: Searching through recipes can be so fun and inspiring, and can also end up taking waaaay longer than planned. So, consider setting your timer when you start browsing. The last thing you want is to take too much time looking, that you don’t leave enough time for cooking. Fun Cooking Tip #2 Make grocery shopping fun and inspiring. When you’re …

Heartburn – Can I Help it with Foods and Lifestyle?

The odds are that you or someone you know experiences heartburn. Around half of North American adults experience it at least once per month. Somewhere between 10-20% have it at least once per week! Heartburn, also known as reflux, occurs when the strong acid in your stomach creeps up into your esophagus. It can feel like a burning sensation; hence the name “heartburn.” Other common symptoms include bloating, burping, difficulty swallowing, or a sore throat. Often there is a bitter or sour taste as well. Don’t get me wrong, stomach acid is good! Stomach acid is essential for good health and optimal digestion. We need the acid in our stomach to protect us against harmful microbes (i.e. bacteria) that lurk in our food and drinks. Stomach acid also helps us break down our food, and digest nutrients. But we need that acid to stay in the stomach, and not get up to our esophagus! Stomach acid doesn’t usually burn the stomach itself; this is because the stomach is protected by a layer of mucus. But your esophagus doesn’t have that same protection. It has a valve that is supposed to …

Phytic Acid, The Mineral Reducer

Do you soak or sprout your nuts, seeds, grains and legumes? Is it to help improve their digestibility? To help increase their nutrition? Perhaps, it’s to reduce phytic acid? Phytic acid is naturally present in most nuts, seeds, grains and legumes; it is the plant’s storage form of the mineral phosphorus and is used as energy when the plant starts to grow. The highest levels of phytic acid are found in rice bran, wheat bran, wheat germ, almonds, and walnuts. Phytic acid and minerals Have you heard of phytic acid being referred to as an “anti-nutrient?” Phytic acid binds to the minerals iron, zinc, and calcium preventing them from being fully absorbed when eaten; this is why phytic acid is known as a “mineral reducer.” FUN FACT: Phytic acid’s effects only apply to mineral-containing foods in the current meal. Once digested, there is no mineral reduction on any future meals and there is no impact to the minerals your body has already absorbed. Phytic acid’s health benefits Phytic acid isn’t all bad – it has some health benefits too. It can act as an antioxidant. It can also help reduce …

Paleo Diet 101

You may have heard of the “paleo” diet. It was the world’s most popular diet in 2013. But what is it? Is it a fad? Is it right for you? Scientist and “Paleo Mom” Sarah Ballentyne, Ph.D. defines it as: “The Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.” The name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture. What you can (and can’t) eat on the paleo diet Of course, being a “diet,” paleo has food guidelines. The paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods; while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods. But this doesn’t mean there are only a couple of foods to choose from! There is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the paleo diet. You can include fruits, vegetables, …

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

Oh, the words “blood sugar.” Does it conjure up visions of restrictive eating, diabetes medications, or insulin injections? Blood sugar is the measure of the amount of sugar in your blood. You need the right balance of sugar in your blood to fuel your brain and muscles. The thing is, it can fluctuate. A lot. This fluctuation is the natural balance between things that increase it; and things that decrease it. When you eat food with sugars or starches (“carbs”), then your digestive system absorbs sugar into your blood. When carbs are ingested and broken down into simple sugars, your body keeps blood sugar levels stable by secreting insulin. Insulin allows excess sugar to get it out of your bloodstream and into your muscle cells and other tissues for energy Why keep my blood sugar stable? Your body wants your blood sugar to be at an optimal level. It should be high enough, so you’re not light-headed, fatigued, and irritable. It should be low enough that your body isn’t scrambling to remove excess from the blood. When blood sugar is too low, this is referred to as “hypoglycemia.” When blood …

The Stress Mess: How It Messes With Your Health

We all have some level of stress, right? It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic). Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances and can even be life-saving. Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well. It’s the chronic stress that’s a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health. Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health. Let’s dive into the “stress mess.” Mess #1 – Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed. Stress increased the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood “thickness,” as well as how well your cells respond to insulin. Mess #2 – Immunity Did you notice that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or …