The Optimal Foods to Eat For Breakfast When You’re in Menopause

During menopause women tend to gain weight.  While this isn’t great it’s pretty common and there are many reasons why. Two reasons why women gain weight during menopause… Reason #1 Reduced muscle mass.  Muscle mass uses energy (burns calories) so when we have less of it the body burns less energy overall, leading to weight gain.  Unfortunately, this weight gain may appear as increased belly fat.  Reason #2 During menopause there is an increase in the hunger hormone “ghrelin”.  With an increase in this hormone comes the tendency is to feel hungrier.  Menopause also decreases the “satiety” hormone “leptin” that helps us feel full after eating which can lead to overeating. More ghrelin and less leptin = increased hunger and a decreased feeling of fullness…that’s a problem! What does all of this have to do with breakfast? Eating the right type of breakfast has been shown to help maintain muscle mass, balance levels of leptin and ghrelin, aid weight loss and maintaining that lower weight. What makes a food “optimal” for breakfast in menopause? Foods that help to increase metabolic rate, fill you up, and keep you feeling fuller longer. …

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 …

The Coconut Oil Craze – Should I Jump on the Bandwagon Too?

Yes you should (end of post). But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? And which type is best? Let’s dive into some of the fascinating research and find out. Coconut oil is a special kind of fat Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats. It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day. The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now. And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal. Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs. What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them; they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver, and they’re …

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked. Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people. Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice). And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”). Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.  Foods to eat raw As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw. The reason why is two-fold. First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade; this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B …

What is the Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load?

Glycemic this and glycemic that. Does it matter? You’ll notice that they both begin with “glycemic.” That’s one tip that they have to do with sugars and carbs. Not only how much sugar is in foods, but more importantly, how it affects your blood sugar levels. In general, diets that are high on the glycemic index (GI) and high in glycemic load (GL), tend to increase the risk of diabetes and heart disease. FUN FACT: Starches like those in potatoes and grains are digested into sugar; this is because starch is just a bunch of sugars linked together. Digestive enzymes break those bonds so that the sugars become free. Then those sugars affect your body the same way that eating sugary foods do. Glycemic Index (“how fast”) The most common of the two terms is “glycemic index” (GI). As the name suggests, it “indexes” (or compares) the effect that different foods have on your blood sugar level. Then each food is given a score from 0 (no effect on blood sugar) to 100 (big effect on blood sugar). Foods that cause a fast increase in blood sugar have a high …

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines. It’s a fact. Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time). Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few. But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it? Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations: Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favorite of yours? Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese). Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol” are found in these small and delicious fruits. In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds. Anti-inflammatory Food #2: …

The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it! Yes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.” There is no denying it anymore. And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain. I find it amazing (but not too surprising). What exactly is the “gut-brain connection”? Well, it’s very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it! There seem to be multiple things working together.  Things like: The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain; The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain; The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut; The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body; and, The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes. This is complex. And amazing, if you ask me. I’ll briefly …

Adrenal Fatigue: What Is It?

Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep? All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately. Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones. But what happens when they become “overworked?” You’ve heard of “adrenaline junkies,” right? Adrenaline and cortisol are the stress hormones that give you the commonly known adrenaline rush; when you’re totally alert and living in the moment. This feeling is known as your body’s “fight or flight” response. Some people (perhaps you?) just love that intense feeling. The release of hormones in the fight or flight response is your body’s normal reaction to stress.  Stress can sometimes be positive, like when it helps you swerve and prevent a crash. After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates, your body goes back to normal, and all is good. But what would …

Foods to Reduce Night Time Hot Flashes

Do you get hot flashes? Are they mostly at night? Do they set the bed on fire (but not in that way)? Let’s get you some solutions! Before we do that, just some quick info on why hot flashes occur so we can try to effect the root cause of these hormonal symptoms. What causes hot flashes? As you can imagine it’s all about hormonal balance (or imbalance). During the menstruating years your estrogen allows for your ovaries to respond when “luteinizing hormone” (LH) says to release those eggs every month. When it gets to the point where your estrogen levels start dropping (i.e. perimenopause) those ovaries start to simply ignore the LH. And guess what your body’s response to this is? It releases adrenaline! This causes your body to heat up for a few minutes until it cools itself back down. What triggers hot flashes? You may have already identified some of the triggers of your hot flashes.  Perhaps they’re related to the food and drinks you consume (e.g. coffee, spicy foods, sugar, citrus fruit, large meals). Maybe they’re related to lifestyle factors (e.g. stress, alcohol, smoking, certain medications …

How Can I Get Enough Vitamin D?

When we think of “vitamins,” we know they’re super-important for health. But vitamin D is special. It’s difficult to get enough vitamin D; vitamin D is, therefore, a very common deficiency. So, let’s talk about how much of this critical fat-soluble vitamin we need, and how you can get enough. The three ways to vitamin D are exposure to the sun, consuming vitamin D containing food, and through supplements. Why is vitamin D important, and how much do we need? Vitamin D helps us absorb calcium from our food and acts like a hormone to help us build strong bones. Vitamin D can also help with immune function, cellular growth, and help to prevent mood imbalances such as depression and seasonal affective disorder. Not getting enough vitamin D can lead to bone diseases like osteomalacia. Inadequate vitamin D can also increase your risk of heart disease, autoimmune diseases, certain cancers, and even death. The “official” minimum amount of vitamin D to strive for each day is merely 400-600 IU. Many experts think that this is not nearly enough for optimal health. To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, …