Breast Cancer Awareness Month – Thoughts on Prevention

Today marks the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I am a 7.5 year survivor of the earliest stages of breast cancer. Though I live with the daily reminders of having had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction that is starting to show some negative side effects, I consider myself lucky. I also worry about reoccurrences and spend a lot of time researching and applying my knowledge to my daily life so as to try to prevent that from happening.

After 5 years of walking in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, I have heard many stories of those who we lost to this disease and those of survivors. What shocked me was the number of survivors who went through more than one battle with this disease. It made me realize that I will always be at risk for a reoccurrence and I may not catch it as early the next time.

What I have learned in my education and research is that there are many factors that may have caused my breast cancer, but there is also a lot of conflicting information. The following is what makes sense to me.

I have learned that I carry the KRAS genetic mutation which, according to Joanne Weidhass’ research, puts me at a greater risk for developing both breast and ovarian cancer. I have learned that I was likely in an estrogen dominant state that may have contributed to my development of breast cancer. I have learned that eating soy, which I ate a lot of as a vegetarian thinking it was a healthy form of protein, likely put me into an estrogen dominant state. (There are arguments being made that eating soy can actually protect your risks of breast cancer but that is a separate debate for me to tackle in another post).  I have learned that eating sugar of any kind, in excess, can create a positive environment for the cancer cells to grow and thrive. I have also learned that eating sugar can put a person into an inflammatory state so that the immune system is weakened thereby allowing the cancer cells to grow. I have also learned that eating any foods that a person may have a personal sensitivity to can put the body into this same inflammatory state and thereby compromising the immune system.

My personal conclusion is that there had to be a flurry of circumstances, all coming together at the right time, to have allowed my preexisting cancer cells to express themselves. Due to my KRAS variant, I had existing cancer cells, but it was my lifestyle that caused their expression. I believe that eating soy, sugar, and white carbs all worked together to put my body into both an inflammatory state and estrogen dominant state. I have since learned that I have Celiac Disease which means that every time I ate gluten, I damaged my GI system, inflamed it, and thereby weakened my immune system so it could not fight off the cancer cells that should have died through apoptosis but instead were thriving because I was feeding them. It was my epigenetics brought on by my dietary lifestyle that I believe caused me to develop early stage breast cancer, and it was my self-advocacy that helped me discover at its earliest stages.

As I mentioned earlier, I still consider myself lucky. I caught it early, I went extreme with surgery and radiation, and I am 7.5 years out. But I know the risks of reoccurrence are real so I work every day to try not to replicate that host of circumstances that led to its original growth. I have learned which foods are inflammatory for me and have removed them from my diet. I have significantly reduced the amount of sugar I eat, well below the recommended 6tsp a day. Most days I don’t have any added sugar but there are days that I eat out or I am in the mood for a little sweetness, but I still stay under the recommended amount. I avoid soy at all costs. I drink my recommended amount of water daily. I try to eat as well as possible for my diet, including as many veggies, proteins, and good fats that I can.  I supplement my diet with chemical, gluten, soy, sugar, and food dye free vitamins based on my personal needs, to fill in the nutritional gaps I have. I exercise 5 days a week and I try to handle my stress as much as I can when in a house of 5 children and multiple pets. I also make every effort to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, not always successfully, but I try. These are all actions I can take to ensure that I am doing everything I can to prevent a reoccurrence.

I share this because I truly feel that these actions will help me thrive and I believe it can help others as well. Learning which foods may be putting you into an inflammatory state and then removing them from your diet can be one of the best actions you can take for your body. Removing added sugar is another actionable item anyone can take.  Eating foods that are anti-inflammatory, and filled with healthy macro and micronutrients, is key to building up a healthy microbiome and strengthened immune system. Adding vitamins to fill in those nutritional gaps that we all have for one reason or another will help provide a complete diet plan. Learning how to reduce stress and increase sleep also helps balance your hormones to keep you out of a state of inflammation. Getting enough sleep will put all your actions into effect.

Want to learn more on how you can help protect your health? Please feel free to reach out to me and we can talk more.

Common Weight Loss Myths Busted

Weight loss advice is so common (and contentious) now. There are competing opinions everywhere.

I say, forget about “who’s right” and let’s focus on “what’s right.” Because what gets results is what I’m focusing on in this post.

I respect you too much to make empty promises and try to sell you on something that doesn’t work.

There are too many weight loss myths out there. I’m going to tackle the top ones I come across in my practice.

Myth: Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss

Calories are important for weight loss. If you eat and absorb a ton more than you use, then your body’s wisdom will store some for later. Calories matter.

But, they are not the “be-all and end-all” of weight loss; they’re important, but they’re the symptom, not the cause. Let’s think about the reasons people eat more calories. Let’s focus on the causes.

People eat too many calories, not because they’re hungry, but because they feel sad, lonely, or bored. Or maybe because they’re tired or stressed. Or maybe even because they’re happy and celebrating. And all these feelings interact with our gastrointestinal, nervous and hormonal systems; all of which influence our calorie intake.

Myth: “Eat less move more” is good advice

Well, then we’re all in tip-top shape, right? Because people have been doling out this advice (myth) for years.

The premise of this is based on the above myth that calories in minus calories out equals your weight. So, eat fewer calories, and burn off more calories (because human physiology is a simple math equation, right?).

Even if people can happily and sustainably follow this advice (which they can’t!); it completely negates other factors that contribute to weight problems. Things like the causes of overeating we mentioned above. Not to mention our genetics, health conditions we’re dealing with or our exposure to compounds that are “obesogenic.”

Myth: A calorie is a calorie

Can we please put this one to bed already?

Science has confirmed several caloric components of food differ from others.

For example, the “thermic effect of food” (TEF) is that some nutrients require calories to be metabolized. They can slightly increase your metabolism, just by eating them. For example, when you metabolize protein you burn more calories than when you metabolize carbohydrates. Proteins and carbohydrates both have 4 calories/gram; but, the TEF of protein = 15–30%; and the TEF for carbohydrates = 5–10%.

Here’s another example of a calorie not being a calorie. Different fats are metabolized differently. Medium chain triglycerides (fats) (MCTs) have the same 9 calories/gram that other fats do; but, they’re metabolized by the liver before getting into the bloodstream and therefore aren’t utilized or stored the same way as other fats. #acalorieisnotacalorie

Myth: Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight

There is no magic pill for weight loss. No supplement, tea, food, or other potion will do the trick. Some can help with supporting your weight loss efforts while curbing cravings, providing energy, and focus. #slimplus

But the real magic is in adopting a sustainable holistic and healthy approach to living your life. What you need is a long-term lifestyle makeover.

Conclusion

Weight loss is hard! There are too many people out there trying to make it sound like they have the simple solution (or the latest and greatest!).

Don’t fall for the myths that say:

  • Calories cause weight gain, and fewer calories are the path to weight loss.
  • “Eat less move more” is good
  • A calorie is a calorie.
  • Buy this supplement/tea/food/magic potion to lose weight.

Now check out my magical “weight loss salad” recipe below (just kidding!)

Recipe (Myth-free salad, filling and nutritious):

Kale Cucumber Salad

Serves 2

Salad

  • 4 cups kale, divided
  • 1 cup cooked beans of your choice (white beans, chickpeas, etc.)
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa, divided
  • 1 cucumber, sliced and divided

Cucumber Dill Dressing

  • ½ cup tahini
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 2 tbsp dill
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp maple syrup
  • 2 dashes salt
  • 2 dashes black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic, minced

Instructions

Divide salad ingredients into two bowls. Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and blend until creamy. You may need to add water to thin. Add it slowly, a tbsp at a time until desired thickness is reached. Add dressing to salads and gently toss. Serve & enjoy! Tip: Extra dressing can be stored in the fridge for a few days

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-12-biggest-myths-about-weight-loss/

https://authoritynutrition.com/metabolism-boosting-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/5-chemicals-that-are-making-you-fat/

To Breakfast Or Not To Breakfast, That Is The Question

Three Must Eat Break-Fast Foods

Many question whether breakfast is as important as we hear it is. Those who practice intermittent fasting say it is ok to bypass the breakfast meal. Others will argue that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you can’t function properly without it. I am in neither camp. I do believe though that your first meal of the day, whenever you choose to eat it, is the meal that will break your fast, hence, breakfast or break-fast. What you eat when you choose to break your fast is very important.

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism, and weight loss. This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it. So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favorite new “go-to” breakfasts.

Breakfast Food #1: Eggs

Yes, eggs are the “quintessential” breakfast food. And for good reason! No, I’m not talking about processed egg whites in a carton. I mean actual whole “eggs”. Egg whites are mostly protein while the yolks are the real nutritional powerhouses. Those yolks contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and healthy fats. Eggs have been shown to help you feel full, keep you feeling fuller longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar and insulin. Not to mention how easy it is to boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in the fridge for a “grab and go” breakfast when you’re running short on time. And…nope the cholesterol in eggs is not associated with an increased risk of arterial or heart diseases. One thing to consider is to try to prevent cooking the yolks at too high of a temperature because that can cause some of the cholesterol to become oxidized. It’s the oxidized cholesterol that’s heart unhealthy.

Breakfast Food #2: Nuts and/or Seeds

Nuts and seeds contain protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Nuts and/or seeds would make a great contribution to breakfast. You won’t be fooled by “candied” nuts, sweetened nut/seed butters, or chia “cereals” with added sugars – you know I’m talking about the real, whole, unsweetened food here. Nuts and seeds are also the ultimate fast food if you’re running late in the mornings. Grab a small handful of almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds as you’re running out the door; you can nosh on them while you’re commuting. Not to mention how easy it is to add a spoonful of nut/seed butter into your morning breakfast smoothie. Hint: If you like a creamy latte in the mornings try making one with nut or seed butter. Just add your regular hot tea and a tablespoon or two of a creamy nut or seed butter into your blender blend until frothy.

Breakfast Food #3: Veggies

Yes, you already know you really should get protein at every meal including breakfast; but this also applies to veggies. You know I would be remiss to not recommend veggies at every meal, right? Veggies are powerhouses of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, and water. You can’t go wrong adding them into every single meal of the day so if you don’t already you should definitely try them for breakfast! And no, you don’t need to have a salad or roasted veggies for breakfast if you don’t want to but you totally can! You wouldn’t be breaking any “official” breakfast rules or anything like that. Adding some protein to leftover veggies is a great combination for any meal. Including breakfast. I’ve included a delicious recipe below for you to try (and customize) for your next breakfast. Recipe (Eggs Veggies): Veggie Omelet Serves 1 1 teaspoon coconut oil 1 or 2 eggs (how hungry are you?) ¼ cup veggies (grated zucchini and/or sliced mushrooms and/or diced peppers) dash salt, pepper and/or turmeric Add coconut oil to a frying pan and melt on low-medium heat (cast-iron pans are preferred). In the meantime grab a bowl and beat the egg(s) with your vegetables of choice and the spices. Tilt pan to ensure the bottom is covered with the melted oil. Pour egg mixture into pan and lightly fry the eggs without stirring. When the bottom is lightly done flip over in one side and cook until white is no longer runny. Serve Enjoy! Tip: Substitute grated, sliced, or diced portion of your favorite vegetable. Try grated carrots, chopped broccoli or diced tomato.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/eggs-worse-than-fast-food

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/eating-healthy-eggs/

https://authoritynutrition.com/12-best-foods-to-eat-in-morning/

 

Gut Health

How to Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of “the gut-brain axis”). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

Our gut’s role in our overall health

Our gut’s main role is to serve as a barrier. It lets things in that should get in, and keeps things out that should stay out.

Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

How to improve gut health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colorful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

Sometimes, it is helpful to take a food intolerance or food inflammatory test. This allows you to learn what foods may or may not be causing gut issues for you specifically. To learn more about this, email me at jklwell@verizon.net

Conclusion

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

CHOLESTEROL – WHAT DO THOSE NUMBERS REALLY TELL YOU?

Five Cholesterol Myths and What to Eat Instead

You knew there was a bit of an over-emphasis (borderlining obsession) about cholesterol, right?

Before we jump into some myths let’s make sure we’re on the same page when it comes to what exactly cholesterol is.

Myth #1: “Cholesterol” is cholesterol
While cholesterol is an actual molecule, what it is bound to while it’s floating through your blood is what’s more important than just how much of it there is overall. In fact depending on what it’s combined with can have opposite effects on your arteries and heart. Yes, opposite!

So cholesterol is just one component of a compound that floats around your blood. These compounds contain cholesterol as well as fats and special proteins called “lipoproteins”.

They’re grouped into two main categories:

HDL: High Density Lipoprotein (AKA “good” cholesterol) that “cleans up” some of those infamous “arterial plaques” and transports cholesterol back to the liver.
LDL: Low Density Lipoprotein (AKA “bad” cholesterol) that transports cholesterol from the liver (and is the kind found to accumulate in arteries and become easily oxidized hence their “badness”).
And yes, it’s even more complicated than this. Each of these categories is further broken down into subcategories which can also be measured in a blood test.

So “cholesterol” isn’t simply cholesterol because it has very different effects on your body depending on which other molecules it’s bound to in your blood and what it is actually doing there.

Myth #2: Cholesterol is bad
Cholesterol is absolutely necessary for your body to produce critical things like vitamin D when your skin is exposed to the sun, your sex hormones (e.g. estrogen and testosterone), as well as bile to help you absorb dietary fats. Not to mention that it’s incorporated into the membranes of your cells.

Talk about an important molecule!

The overall amount of cholesterol in your blood (AKA “total cholesterol”) isn’t nearly as important as how much of each kind you have in your blood.

While way too much LDL cholesterol as compared with HDL (the LDL:HDL ratio) may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease it is absolutely not the only thing to consider for heart health.

Myth #3: Eating cholesterol increases your bad cholesterol
Most of the cholesterol in your blood is made by your liver. It’s actually not from the cholesterol you eat. Why do you think cholesterol medications block an enzyme in your liver (HMG Co-A reductase, to be exact)? ‘Cause that’s where it’s made!

What you eat still can affect how much cholesterol your liver produces. After a cholesterol-rich meal your liver doesn’t need to make as much.

Myth #4: Your cholesterol should be as low as possible
As with almost everything in health and wellness, there’s a balance that needs to be maintained. There are very few extremes that are going to serve you well.

People with too-low levels of cholesterol have increased risk of death from other non-heart-related issues like certain types of cancers, as well as suicide.

Myth #5: Drugs are the only way to get a good cholesterol balance
Don’t start or stop any medications without talking with your doctor.

And while drugs can certainly lower the “bad” LDL cholesterol, they don’t seem to be able to raise the “good” HDL cholesterol all that well.

Guess what does?

Nutrition and exercise, baby!

One of the most impactful ways to lower your cholesterol with diet is to eat lots of fruits and veggies. I mean lots, say up to 10 servings a day. Every day.

Don’t worry the recipe below should help you add at least another salad to your day.

You can (should?) also exercise, lose weight, stop smoking, and eat better quality fats. That means fatty fish, avocados and olive oil. Ditch those over-processed hydrogenated “trans” fats.

Summary:
The science of cholesterol and heart health is complicated and we’re learning more every day. You may not need to be as afraid of it as you are. And there is a lot you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective to improve your cholesterol level.

Recipe (Dressing to go with your salad): Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

Makes about ¾ cup

½ cup hemp seeds

½ cup orange juice

1 clove of garlic, peeled

dash salt and/or pepper

Blend all ingredients together until creamy.

Serve on top of your favorite salad and Enjoy!

Tip: Store extra in airtight container in the fridge. Will keep for about a week.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cholesterol
http://summertomato.com/how-to-raise-your-hdl-cholesterol
https://authoritynutrition.com/top-9-biggest-lies-about-dietary-fat-and-cholesterol/

COFFEE – YAY OR NAY?!

Coffee – Who can drink it and who should avoid it?

Coffee is one of those things – you either love it or hate it. You know if you like the taste or not (or if it’s just a reason to drink sugar and cream). You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your gut, your mind, etc.).

Not to mention the crazy headlines that say coffee is great, and the next day you should avoid it!

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking.

NOTE: Coffee does not equal caffeine. Coffee contains between 50-400 mg of caffeine/cup, averaging around 100 mg/cup. Coffee is one of the most popular ways to consume this stimulant. But… a cup of coffee contains a lot of things over and above the caffeine. Not just water, but antioxidants, and hundreds of other compounds. These are the reasons drinking a cup of coffee is not the same as taking a caffeine pill. And decaffeinated coffee has a lot less caffeine; but, it still contains some.

Let’s look at caffeine metabolism, its effects on the mind and body, and whether coffee drinkers have higher or lower risks of disease. Then I’ll give you some things to consider when deciding if coffee is for you or not.

Caffeine metabolism

Not all people metabolize caffeine at the same speed. How fast you metabolize caffeine will impact how you’re affected by the caffeine. In fact, caffeine metabolism can be up to 40x faster in some people than others.

About half of us are “slow” metabolizers of caffeine. We can get jitters, heart palpitations, and feel “wired” for up to 9 hours after having a coffee. The other half is “fast” metabolizers of caffeine. They get energy and increased alertness and are back to normal a few hours later.

This is part of the reason those headlines contradict each other so much – because we’re all different!

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body

NOTE: Most studies look at caffeinated coffee, not decaf.

The effects of coffee (and caffeine) on the mind and body also differ between people; this is partly from the metabolism I mentioned. But it also has to do with your body’s amazing ability to adapt (read: become more tolerant) to long-term caffeine use. Many people who start drinking coffee feel the effects a lot more than people who have coffee every day.

Here’s a list of these effects (that usually decrease with long-term use):

  • Stimulates the brain
  • Boosts metabolism
  • Boosts energy and exercise performance
  • Increases your stress hormone cortisol
  • Dehydrates

So, while some of these effects are good and some aren’t, you need to see how they affect you and decide if it’s worth it or not.

Coffee and health risks

There are a ton of studies on the health effects of coffee, and whether coffee drinkers are more or less likely to get certain conditions.

Here’s a quick summary of what coffee can lead to:

  • Caffeine addiction and withdrawal symptoms (e.g. a headache, fatigue, irritability)
  • Increased sleep disruption
  • Lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Lower risk of certain liver diseases
  • Lower risk of death (“all cause mortality”)
  • Mixed reviews on whether it lowers risks of cancer and heart disease

Many of the health benefits exist even for decaf coffee (except the caffeine addiction and sleep issues).

NOTE: What’s super-important to note here is that coffee intake is just one of many, many factors that can affect your risks for these diseases. Please never think regular coffee intake is the one thing that can help you overcome these risks. You are health-conscious and know that eating a nutrient-rich whole foods diet, reducing stress, and getting enough sleep and exercise are all critical things to consider for your disease risk. It’s not just about the coffee.

Should you drink coffee or not?

There are a few things to consider when deciding whether you should drink coffee. No one food or drink will make or break your long-term health.

Caffeinated coffee is not recommended for:

  • People with arrhythmias (e.g. irregular heartbeat)
  • People who often feel anxious
  • People who have trouble sleeping
  • People who are pregnant
  • Children

If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:

  • Give you the jitters?
  • Increase anxious feelings?
  • Affect your sleep?
  • Give you heart palpitations?
  • Affect your digestion (e.g. heartburn, etc.)?
  • Give you a reason to drink a lot of sugar and cream?

Depending on how your body reacts, decide whether these reactions are worth it to you. If you’re not sure, I recommend eliminating it for a while and see the difference.

Recipe (Latte): Pumpkin Spice Latte

Serves 1

3 tbsp coconut milk
1 ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon)
¼ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp pumpkin puree

½ tsp maple syrup (optional)
1 cup coffee (decaf if preferred)

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/coffee-good-or-bad/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee
http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/a-wake-up-call-on-coffee
http
://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/can-your-coffee-habit-help-you-live-longer-201601068938
http://suppversity.blogspot.ca/2014/05/caffeine-resistance-genetic.html
https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-coffee-should-you-drink/

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those social feasts are just amazing.

And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance.

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days.

But it doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)


Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

 

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

 

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

 

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas

If you’re not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water:

  • Slices of lemon & ginger
  • Slices of strawberries & orange
  • Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick
  • Chopped pineapple & mango
  • Blueberries & raspberries

Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning.  They’re already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

WHAT IS METABOLISM

What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight. But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body. It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive. And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:
● Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
● Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
● Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:
● Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
● Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
● Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate. One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid. This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism. Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

But that’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does. So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be. Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program. Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen. So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate. Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food. This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%. By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow. By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don’t forget the mind-body connection. There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

Recipe (Lean Protein): Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

2 lemons, sliced
1 tablespoon rosemary
1 tablespoon thyme
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
dash salt & pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive old

Preheat oven to 425F. Layer ½ of the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish. Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper. Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake for 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through. If you want the chicken to be a bit more “roasty” then remove the lid/foil and broil for another few minutes (watching carefully not to burn it).

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

BEING YOUR OWN ADVOCATE – ORDERING YOUR OWN LAB WORK

There are so many things we should know, need to know, about our bodies so that they are running efficiently and we are feeling optimal. Unfortunately, today’s doctors are rushed and under many insurance constraints.  They therefore often can’t or they won’t run full panels to tell us what is really going on inside. We don’t have the ability to see what is going on, how our bodies are working, until it is too late. The standard care of practice’s goal should be prevention, but we often only learn about our health concerns after something major like diabetes, heart attacks, or strokes occur. We need to prevent these diseases from happening, not get treated because they already happened.

As an example of what I am talking about, during my annual physical two years ago, I mentioned to my doctor that I was concerned about all these symptoms I was experiencing. I was fatigued, had a lot of hair loss, could not lose weight despite eating sugar free and processed free, would get dizzy upon standing, had low blood pressure, was always cold, and had ongoing, undiagnosed, GI issues. All of these symptoms should have been a red flag that something was going on. Instead, she ran the standard TSH thyroid test, and a standard iron test. My TSH was way above optimal but she said it was fine, my iron was on the low end but again no concerns, and made no suggestions for my symptoms. I begged her to run a more in depth thyroid panel, she agreed to run the Free T4 one time only, and nothing more. My Free T4 was below optimal range but within the Western standards. I finally took it upon myself to dig deeper, and after several additional doctor visits, I finally had a lab run the full thyroid panel, a more in depth iron panel, and a celiac panel (something she would not even consider). Well, I quickly learned from my results that I am in early stages of Hashimoto’s, I have Celiac Disease, and my ferritin levels are way too low, even for Western standards. These are all things she should have been looking out for had she listened better instead of being rushed, and tested better.  Knowing this information helped me change my nutrition plan, I had to remove wheat, barley, and rye. I also kept sugar out and removed dairy. I took the appropriate supplements and made a huge impact on my body and health. If I had not, I would have continued down a destructive path that could have led to ongoing pain, weakness, inflammation, possible heart disease, and/or cancer.

You need to be an advocate for your own body. If something feels wrong, then follow up on it. Ask your doctor what tests can be run to rule in or rule things out. If your doctor can’t or won’t do any additional testing or provide you the answers you need, then you can get your own lab tests done. Ordering the right lab tests can help you prevent, slow down, or reverse certain diseases like Anemia, Autoimmune Diseases, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Hormonal Imbalances that can lead to PCOS, Endometriosis, Female Cancers,  High Homocysteine levels that can lead to Risk of Stroke, Insulin Resistance that can lead to the aforementioned  diseases as well as ongoing Inflammation in the body which impacts your Immune System, and possibly even Cancer.  Functional Medical doctors are a great resource as they look at the whole body and search out the root causes of symptoms and can recommend the right labs to order and help you interpret them. Health coaches can help point you in the right direction to discovering what is at the root of your symptoms by listening, asking the right questions, and leading you to the right tests to ask for and then helping you with the right nutrition and exercise to reverse the symptoms. Don’t just take no for an answer. You have options. Only you know your body and if something feels off, take the initiative to do something about it before it is too late.

To learn more about ordering your own lab tests, you can visit https://yourlabwork.com/jklwell

To find a Functional Medical Doctor, visit https://ifm.org>find-a-practitioner

To work with a Health Coach, visit https://jklwell-healthcoaching.com