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

HOW TO EAT HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

Traveling soon? Perhaps a long-awaited vacation? Business trip? Something completely different?

No matter where you’re going, you’re probably going to appreciate some quick and easy healthy food ideas. These can help you stay on track and help you bring, and find, real food. While these tips can all be used right here at home, this is extra-important when you’re traveling. Traveling can throw your regular healthy habits off when you’re skipping time zones or even just being in a different place.

As a health coach, I have a senses of pride when my clients skip junky convenience foods. Let me give you some great strategies that can help you do this while you are on the road.

Pro-tip: When booking your hotel room, ask if you can have one with a mini-fridge. This will help you store some of your healthy snacks and groceries while you’re there.

BRINGING YOUR OWN HEALTHY SNACKS

Well, this is important because not only will it keep you from becoming a “hangry junk-seeker”, but it can also hold you off until you’re able to stop at a proper grocery store for say…actual real food!

Hear are a bunch of my favorite on-the-go snacks to have in your bag and/or cooler:

  • If you’re going to have a cooler, or eat them within a couple of hours, try fresh fruit or boiled eggs (don’t forget the ice packs)
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds (I love walnuts and pumpkin seeds)
  • IDLife Nutrition Bars or Organic Bars of your choice
  • Sliced veggies (carrots, celery, cucumber, broccoli, etc.) with a dip (hummus or guacamole) you can even buy single serving packs at Costco
  • Find good quality protein bars or make your own before heading out
  • Good quality, whole food, no sugar added granola
  • Savory snacks like roasted chickpeas or kale chips
  • High quality protein powder to make your own smoothies (I like IDLife Nutrition vegan vanilla bean). Be sure to also pack a mini-blender, like a Magic Bullet, if needed
  • Freeze avocados and then travel with them in poster tube. Only do this in the US as traveling with avocados can be against some FTC rules and regulations.
  • And don’t forget your drinks. Bring some water with you. If flying, choose water in the airport or on the plane.

HOW TO FIND HEALTH FOOD AT YOUR DESTINATION

Of course, you can always Google your destination and search for grocery stores or healthy restaurants. But there are a couple of websites and apps that may be helpful for you.

  • FindMeGlutenFree – A website that searches for gluten-free restaurants around the US
  • HealthyOut – An app that helps you find restaurants that cater to your dietary preferences, be they gluten-free, low calorie, low-carb, etc.
  • FoodTripping – Designed for road trips, this app helps you find alternatives to fast food

KEY TAKE AWAYS

Travelling often comes with unnecessary junk food that can derail your healthy lifestyle. Planning ahead and being prepared can be simple, and help you keep your health goals on track even when you’re out and about!

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HOW TO EAT MORE FRUITS AND VEGGIES

Yes, it seems everywhere you turn, health and wellness experts are telling you to eat more fruits and veggies.

You totally get it.

Yes, they’re full, and I mean FULL, of nutrition (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, etc.).

Yes, people who eat more fruits and vegetables live longer, healthier lives. Not to mention protecting their bodies and minds from just about every chronic disease out there.

Yes, eating more vegetables can help you maintain a healthy body weight, and even lose some fat (as long as you don’t bread and fry them, or cover them with cream sauce).

Your question is not “Should I eat more fruits and vegetables”, but “How can I actually do it?”

Believe me, as a health coach, I am chock full of amazing, creative, and delicious ways to help you eat more fruits and veggies.

Before we dive in, always start from where you are. If you are not used to any fruits and veggies, try for just two a day. Build up from there. Don’t get overwhelmed thinking you need to overhaul your entire diet in one day. Wherever you’re at now, I challenge you to increase it by two per day.

Now let’s dive into my helpful ideas on exactly HOW to add more fruits and veggies to your diet!

SNEAK THEM IN TO OTHER DISHES

OK, this one may be, shall we say, “sneaky”, but I am all about your health so hear me out.

Some dishes are super easy to enhance with a a bit of strategically placed produce.

  • Add 1/2 apple, a handful of frozen spinach, or extra berries into your smoothie
  • Dice or shred up an extra bit of carrot, broccoli, zucchini, or pepper into your soup
  • How about chicken, tuna, or salmon salad? Dice up a stalk of celery and throw it in
  • Love to bake? How about substituting 1/4 cup of the sugar for 1/4 of unsweetened apple sauce?
  • Used to having a small salad? How about making it a bigger one?
  • Making tomato sauce? Add in some extra mushrooms  or peppers

MAKE THEM TASTE MORE DELICIOUS WITH A MEAL

  • Use veggies as your sandwich bread by making a lettuce wrap
  • Don’t be afraid to spice them up! Try sauteing them for 10 minutes with a drizzle of oil and flavor them with pepper, garlic, ginger, or cumin
  • Replace white rice with cauliflower rice. Make a fried cauliflower rice meal using coconut oil, cauliflower rice, carrots, onions, garlic, celery, mushrooms and egg and add some coconut aminos for flavor.

OPTING FOR THEM AS SNACKS

  • Why not throw a banana, apple or clementine into your lunch bag?
  • Ditch the chips and dip – instead try some carrot, celery, broccoli, cucumber, or cauliflower with a dip like hummus, guacamole, or babaganoush?
  • Love sweetened yogurt? Try whole fat plain Greek yogurt and some of your own berries
  • Need some protein? Add some sugar free all natural almond butter to a green apple or a green tipped banana

YOUR CHALLENGE

Take two of these suggestions and try them tomorrow. Just add two more fruits and veggies to the number you are at today. Two more.

And if you’re not an instant fan, well, try again. Research shows that sometimes it takes our taste buds several tries before actually liking a new flavor. Try it, you might find some new faves.

Got kids? These suggestions will work for them too. It will be even more fun if they have mom and dad trying it with them.

HOW HORMONES EFFECT YOUR ENERGY AND WEIGHT

Are willpower and self-control the real solution to low energy and high weight?

Maybe not…

It actually might be your hormones.

And we’re not just talking about sex hormones here, we’re talking about the hormones that directly affect your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite. Things that actually control your energy and weight.

Let’s go over a few of the critical links between your hormones, and how they effect your energy and weight. The links may be stronger than you think.

WHAT ARE HORMONES

Having healthy, happy hormones is all around the “health waves” these days.

And for good reason! Your hormones are part of the master control system of your entire body.

Hormones are compounds made by one part of the body that are used to communicate with another part. For example, insulin is made in the pancreas. When your blood sugar gets too high, insulin is released into the bloodstream. Then it goes to your muscles and other cells to tell them to absorb the sugar out of the blood. If there is still too much sugar in the blood, it tells them to store it as fat.

Your hormones control not only your blood sugar, but also your metabolism and your appetite (plus a host of other things). You probably know that having health blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite is a foundation for your optimal energy and weight.

So how can your hormones get out of whack to zap your energy and pile up the pounds?

 

COMMON HORMONAL IMBALANCES

In optimal health, your hormones would work great, and you’d have ample energy and be at a great, healthy weight.

But often there are problems with this whole setup. One common issue is that there may be too much or too little hormone released to have the desired effect. This is known as hypo- or hyper- “hormone” (i.e. hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism).

Another common issue is that even if the right amount of hormone is released, the cells they communicate with can start ignoring them. This is known as “resistance” (i.e. insulin resistance).

As you can imagine, if your hormones have such critical jobs, including controlling blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite, they can definitely cause issues with your energy and weight.

 

HORMONES AND ENERGY

Your metabolism is key for controlling your energy. Metabolism itself is basically how much energy (calories) you burn. One of the main players of this is….you guessed it! Your thyroid hormones.

Your thyroid releases hormones that affect the metabolism if all the cells in your body. If it’s too low and your metabolism goes down (hypothyroid), you may feel cold, hungry, and tired. If it’s too high and your metabolism is too high (hyperthyroid), you may feel hot, jittery, and lose weight.

What you actually want is an ideal metabolism, ideal energy use, ideal temperature, and, ideal weight.

 

HORMONES AND WEIGHT

Your weight may be controlled by hormones more than you think! Insulin controls your blood sugar and whether that sugar is going to be stored as fat or not. When your blood sugar is too low, you may start craving sugar or carbs.

You also have hormones that control your appetite! How hungry and full you feel are controlled by the hormones ghrelin and leptin. When those get out of whack you may find yourself wanting to eat because your body thinks you’re hungry and not satisfied… even if that’s not true.

Craving food (especially sugary food) and not feeling full are going to be huge drives for you to eat more. Even if your body doesn’t truly need it, the hormonal signals tell you that you do.

And don’t forget that stress hormone cortisol. When it is too high for too long, it tells your body to store fat. And not just fat, belly fat!

 

SUMMARY AND WHAT YOU CAN DO

Your body is very complex and uses hormones to control  huge number of functions. They control your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite, amongst others. These directly affect how much energy you feel, how much you weigh, and even where your body fat is stored.

Here are a few “hormone stabilizing” tips that might help you with your energy and weight:

  • Get regular exercise to use up excess blood sugar before your insulin has your body store it as fat
  • Try stress-relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation, or even coloring to reduce your (belly-fat inducing) cortisol
  • Support your thyroid with iodine-containing sea vegetables, fish, legumes, or even an egg
  • Balance your blood sugar with extra fiber from raspberries, avocados, or flax seeds
  • Reduce your blood sugar spikes by replacing your juice or soda with fruit-infused water
  • If you need some support with your energy levels and/or weight, contact me, Jodie Lin, for a strategy session to see how I can help you.

REFERENCES

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-thyroid

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fast-weight-loss-changes-hunger-hormone