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5 Foods to Fight Inflammation

Here is the thing with inflammation: we do actually need it!

As part of the body’s immune response, we can’t properly heal without it. Like anything in life, inflammation becomes problematic when there is too much of it. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, chronic inflammation has been linked to many conditions and diseases not limited to acne, allergies, autoimmune diseases, intestinal problems, and joint pain.

Completely eliminating inflammation triggers like sugar, saturated fats, stress, infections, and toxins is not realistic given the world we live in. However, consuming a diet abundant in foods that tackle inflammation-triggering free radicals and toxins, can create some balance.

Here are 5 powerhouse foods we suggest for keeping inflammation at bay!

Tart Cherries

Cherries give you a double dose of inflammation-busting compounds! Tart cherries boast higher amounts of anthocyanins 1 and 2, a type of phytonutrient. Phytonutrients are anti-inflammatory botanical compounds.

Salmon

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which has been known to assist in reducing inflammation. You don’t need to make salmon the main course of every meal to reap the benefits. All you need to do is strive to minimize your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. Ideally, a fifth of a teaspoon of fish oil to a teaspoon of omega-3 fatty acids a day is the amount you need.

Ginger

While researchers haven’t sourced it’s anti-inflammatory properties just yet, studies have linked the plant to a drop in joint pain caused by the chronic inflammatory conditions like osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis as well as reduced post-exercise inflammation.

Kale

Kale is loaded with sulfur which prompts your liver to undergo two detox cycles rather than one. This second detox cycles stimulates your body to release more phase II enzymes, which break down toxins similar to how your digestive enzymes break down food. Phase II enzymes help with inflammation in that they cleanse your body by reducing the toxic load.

Walnuts

Walnuts are major powerhouses when it comes to reducing inflammation. They contain over 10 antioxidant phytonutrients, the highest levels of plant-based omega-3s and polyphenols that also assist in lowering inflammation.

References:

Chia, J. 10 Foods that Fight Inflammation. Retrieved from: http://www.prevention.com/food/food-remedies/10-foods-help-fight-inflammation?s=10

MacMillan, A. 14 Foods That Fight Inflammation. Retrieved from: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20705881,00.html

 

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TOP 5 Energy-Boosting Foods

It’s simply amazing what plain nature can do for your energy levels. Your body can only get so far on certain foods—that being processed items. Refined foods won’t give you the strength and power you need to sustain lasting, vital energy.

Regularly consuming nourishing foods can significantly help you maintain your energy levels. If you’re feeling frequently sluggish or chronically fatigued, there are some wonderful whole foods that will give you that much-needed, natural energy boost. Here are our top 6:

Kale:
Besides being loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, this dark leafy green contains chlorophyll, a compound that allows plants to assimilate energy from the sun. Similarly, when we eat kale, we also absorb this natural, vital energy.

Nuts:
Nuts like cashews, almonds, and hazelnuts are chock-full of magnesium, which is integral to the sugar-energy conversion process. Containing high levels of fibre and protein, they help to regulate blood sugar levels and curb hunger throughout the day.

Berries:
One cup of blackberries or raspberries contains 8 grams of fibre. High-fibre foods are great for energy preservation in that they slowly release sugar into the bloodstream. This way, you won’t experience sudden energy peaks and crashes.

Quinoa:
Quinoa is definitely considered a high-energy food with a carbohydrate content of 59.7 percent (mainly complex carbohydrates). With 5 percent dietary fiber and a low-glycemic index, this pseudo-grain won’t spike your blood sugar.

Lemons:
Lemons help you reclaim your energy levels through their powerful cleansing abilities. Overexposure to toxins can yield fatigue and other serious illnesses. Lemons flush toxins out of your system, alkalize your blood and provide support to your immunity and liver.

References:

Croes, N. (2012, September 20). Top 5 Energy-Boosting Foods. Retrieved from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-6208/Top-5-EnergyBoosting-Foods.html

Onwochei, M. (2011, March 21). Quinoa Superfood Diet. Retrieved from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/408099-quinoa-super-food-diet/


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7 Happy Belly Foods to Optimize Digestion

With well over half of our immune cells located in the gastro-intestinal tract, our digestion system is at the core of overall health. A healthy diet helps with regulating our digestive system for optimal performance.

Below, we have listed 7 “happy belly” foods to assist you in maintaining optimal digestion.

Chia Seeds:
From Mexico and Guatemala, chia seeds are tiny, tasteless seeds that are dark brown, white or black in colour. They are an incredibly excellent source of nutrients, antioxidants, fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and minerals.
• 2 tablespoons of chia seeds provides 10 g of fibre, helping to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and regulate bowel function
TIP: Add chia seeds into your smoothies, yogurts, and fruit bowls

Coconut Oil:
Coconut oil is a healthy substitute for butters and oils as it has a sweet, nutty taste and is solid at room temperature.
• It contains fatty acids and antimicrobial properties that assist In improving digestion, immunity, metabolism, and energy levels
TIP: Try to go for coconut oil that is organic, unrefined, and expeller-pressed

Ghee
A clarified butter free of many of the milkfats as well as sugar and lactose, ghee maintains its original freshness and taste for up to a year. Found at the local health food store or homemade easily with cultured organic unsalted butter, ghee prompts the secretion of stomach acids to break down food, thereby stimulating digestion.

Wild Alaskan Salmon
Wild Alaskan salmon is a great choice for digestive health as it is a delicious and rich anti-inflammatory food. Further, wild Alaskan salmon aren’t fed genetically modified food.

Zucchini
Satisfying and hydrating, zucchini packs a lot of digestive power with its high-fibre content.
• Zucchini has a cleansing effect on our digestive tract, particularly the intestines
• It cleanses the walls of the intestines and prevents carcinogenic toxins from settling in the colon
TIP: Leave the skin on the zucchini when adding to meals as that is where it is most nutrient-rich

Bone Broth
Not only is bone broth cost-effective and easy, but it is a mighty multitasker when it comes to maintaining our digestive health:
• The gelatin in bone broth attracts and holds liquids that help heal and seal the gut
• Bone broth is full of easy-to-absorb minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, sulfur chondroitin and glucosamine
TIP: Try to use bones that come organically-raised, pastured or grass-fed animals

Lacto-fermented veggies
Lacto-fermented vegetables are cultured vegetables such as pickles, sauerkraut and kimchi that are crunchy and tangy. They are strong detoxifiers containing significantly high levels of probiotics that help with breaking down food and ridding the body of heavy metals and other toxins. Lacto-fermented vegetables are inexpensive and simple to make, requiring nothing more than salt, vegetables and filtered water.

References

Andreeva, N. (2014, March 6). 7 Foods That Will Work Wonders On Your Digestion. Retrieved from: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12848/7-foods-that-will-work-wonders-on-your-digestion.html


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8 Superfoods that are a Must!

 

Superfoods are a highly nutritious category of food – high in essential nutrients and antioxidants.

Superfoods are backed by research for their nutritious value, their ability to fight disease and even reverse the aging process! Adding superfoods to your diet is a great idea for those seeking to boost optimum health

Here are 5 superfoods you should definitely try to incorporate in your diet:

1) Goji Berries

The goji, originally from the Himalayas, is touted as one of the healthiest foods on the planet. A small, red fruit that looks like a raisin, it has been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.

What’s so great about it?  Research shows that these berries have a positive impact on human health, performance and disease. They are a great source of protein, and a good blend of carbohydrates, fat and dietary fibre – hence a great additions to your diet.

Use them…. as you would raisins, or add them to soups and teas.

2) Kefir

Kefir is a cultured milk product – a fermented product. It contains live bacteria and yeast that have huge health benefits.

What’s so great about it?  Keifir is high in calcium and a great source of probiotics. Probiotics are great for re-establishing a healthy balance of bacteria, which can generally assist with digestion

Use it… Kefir is eaten as you would yogurt or a milk drink. Due to its rising popularity, you can find many kefir products on your grocery store shelf, including milks, yogurts and cheeses.

3) Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds are packed with an incredible amount of fatty acids, minerals and protein.

What’s so great about it?  Hemp has the ideal ratio of omega-3 and -6, which helps us achieve sustainable human health. Hemp has a full amino acid spectrum—meaning it provides a well-balanced, complete protein source, and amino acids are important for growth and maintenance of body tissue.

Use them…  Blend with fruit and juices in smoothies; use them raw in salads. Hemp foods are expanding in health food stores, and hemp seeds can also be found in oil form. You can mix it into a salad dressing, but don’t try cooking with it: Hemp oil isn’t heat stable.

4) Açaí

The açaí is a Brazilian berry that packs a punch of antioxidants. Açaí is known to help boost energy levels, improve digestion, promote sleep, promote healthier and younger-looking skin and cleanse the body of toxins.

What’s great about it?  Açaí is packed with antioxidants, amino acids and omega-3’s. Omega-3’s can benefit people who suffer from a number of ailments, including heart disease, diabetes and depression. It is also high in monounsaturated fats—the kind you find in olive oil—and contains omega-6 and -9, which can help lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.

Use it… as you would any berry—add some to your smoothies in the morning or throw them into your fruit salad.

5) Cocoa

Cocoa contains complex molecules that are active in our bodies, including several bioactive amines, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are potent antidepressant compounds.. Cocoa also contains potent antioxidant compounds called polyphenols, also found in red wine, which researchers believe are responsible for the cardiovascular and metabolic health benefits of chocolate.

What’s so great about it?  The benefits of cocoa are innumerable: Several studies suggest cocoa-derived polyphenols reduce blood pressure, improve insulin sensitivity, increase antioxidant capacity, protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation and raise HDL.


 


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7 Foods to Feed Your Brain

The foods we eat play a role in supporting the health of our brain and the nervous system. Certain foods play a great role in keeping your brain sharp if eaten regularly:

1) Blueberries 

Research shows that blueberries are one of the BEST brain foods. Published scientific studies show that blueberries are packed with nutrients that not only improve brain function, but that also protect delicate brain structures against oxidative damage. Rich in powerful polyphenol compounds, blueberries have been shown to uniquely protect the brain against free radicals, radiation, inflammation, aging, and the damaging effects of neurotoxins.1

2) Fish

Fish is very high in Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which are extremely important fats that support the cardiovascular, reproductive, immune, and nervous systems. Unfortunately, humans cannot synthesise EFAs so they must be obtained through diet or supplementation.

Deep-water fish, such as salmon and tuna are rich in omega essential fatty acids—which are ‘essential’ for brain function. Sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel, small locally caught white fish, and Alaskan sockeye salmon are also good options. Sourcing these fresh is typically a healthier option then canned fish

Taking a supplement is quite possibly better than fresh fish for supporting your omega-3 needs rather then potentially contaminated fish, as toxins such as mercury is always a consideration. Fish oil in supplements has been shown to contain relatively low levels of contamination, so often a better source of omega-3.6

3) Other Sources of Essential Fatty Acids

  • Nuts and Seeds are good sources of EFAs and vitamin E — focus on eating walnuts (one of the best), brazil nuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, sunflower, sesame and, pumpkin seeds, unhydrogenated nut butters, and tahini.
  • Chia seeds are the richest plant-source of healthy oils and contains more omega-3 than salmon.
  • Olive and Coconut Oil contain fats that have anti-inflammatory properties and olive oil is a source of omega 9 and vitamin K both of which are important to the brain.

4) Turmeric

Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent that has anticancer properties and may offer significant protection against Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s begins as an inflammatory process in the brain.

5) Other Fruits and Vegetables

Evidence suggests that diets high in fruit and vegetable content, particularly those of dark colour (blueberries, strawberries, spinach) may help protect against oxidative stress and may improve cognitive and motor function.8

  • Strawberries are famous for their antioxidant capacity and they contain compounds that also protect the brain and memory.
  • Avocados are high in good fats for the brain, avocados promote blood flow and are almost as good as blueberries in promoting brain health.
  • Dark Greens (e.g.kale, spinach, salad greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts)are all also high in vitamin K. These foods are important as Vitamin K not only assists with blood clotting and maintaining healthy strong bones but helps to limit neuronal damage in the brain.
  • Tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant which may protect against the kind of free radical damage to cells which occurs in the development of dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s.
  • Bananas are high in manganese which is important for growth, wound healing and brain function.

6) Dark Chocolate 

Dark chocolate is an anti-oxidant powerhouse. Dark chocolate is one of nature’s most concentrated sources of theobromine — a mild, natural stimulant which helps to keep us focused (different to caffeine and does not strongly stimulate the central nervous system). It also contains Phenylethylamine (PEA) which releases endorphins, our natural feel-good chemicals helping to lift our mood.

7) Proteins

A few types of proteins to consider for brain health include:

  • Goat’s milk products — Animal phosphorous is found in goat’s milk and is essential to the brain. It is virtually unavailable to the vegetable kingdom.
  • Egg yolk — Yolk is a leading source for choline, a nutrient that recently has been proven to boost brainpower by speeding up the sending of signals to nerve cells in the brain.
  • Cannelloni beans — Cannelloni beans are also loaded with Vitamin B1, thiamine which is essential for high mental performance.

References

Barham-Floreani, J. (2013, November 7). 8 Foods That Feed Your Brain. Retrieved from: http://welladjustedbabies.com/8-foods-that-feed-your-brain/#ixzz3Qz2MKiNN

 

 


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5 Key Components of Healthy Lunch

Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but that does not mean that lunch shouldn’t also be taken seriously. Lunch is your first step at overcoming that inevitable mid-afternoon slump. Aside from providing you with your much needed energy boost, a wholesome lunch will also provide you with the essential nutrients and help to keep calories and weight under control.

Fibre: Not only does fibre curb hunger by keeping the stomach fuller longer, it also helps to prevent high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes
• High fibre fruits to include in your lunch: apples, bananas, berries and dried fruits
• Avocadoes are also high in fibre and contain healthy-heart fat; add into sandwiches, wraps, salads and toast
• Make sure any breads you use for lunch are high quality, whole grain

Potassium: In addition to energizing, consuming potassium-rich foods regularly maintains fluid balance, help improve bone health and encourage heart and muscle function.
• Include these potassium rich fruits: dried apricots, bananas, nectarines and oranges
• Add spinach into your salads, smoothies, wraps and sandwiches as it is high in potassium

Complex Carbohydrates: Refined carbohydrates (breads, crackers, cookies) yields sugar crashes, causing your blood sugar to spike and drop rapidly
• Reach for complex carbohydrates that stabilize your blood sugar
• Some complex carbohydrates to include are fruits, vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, hummus

Balanced Eating: A combination of complex carbohydrates, protein and some good fats is ideal for marinating energy after lunch
• For a sandwich, pile some avocado slices (healthy fat), tomatoes, spinach and bean sprouts (complex carbohydrates) and tuna or shredded chicken breast (protein) on whole grain bread
• Load up your salad with lots of veggies and beans for protein

Hydration: Hydration at lunch is crucial in helping the body to transport nutrients, eliminating waste and keeping you feeling energized.
• Always pair a tall glass of water with lunch
• Steer clear of high caloric and sugary drinks
• It’s okay to have a small cup of coffee or tea at lunch for a mid-afternoon perk-up, so long as it is not loaded with sugar and dairy products

References

Robbins, C. (2014, April 8). Lunch Foods That Will Give You Energy for the Afternoon. Retrieved from: http://www.livestrong.com/article/84852-foods-eat-lunch-give-energy/

 


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The Top Harmful Effects of Sugar

With Halloween falling at the end of the month, it is inevitable that sugar is going to come up in the conversation. While it is understandable that your child will be consuming sugary treats this month, it is crucial to be aware of how sugar takes its toll on your health. Understanding sugar’s devastating effects can inform healthier choices for you and your family moving forward.

We have gathered the main ones for you to consider before you delve deeper into the more intricate research. Remember, education is always your best defense!

1) Sugar causes blood sugar to rapidly spike and drop, fueling sugar addictions
Poor blood sugar levels can yield irritability, mood swings, headaches, fatigues and lead to even more sugar cravings. Unfortunately, cravings prompt the addiction cycle where each sugar fix lasts temporarily and leads to more cravings.

2) Sugar increases the risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease
Many large scale studies have revealed that the excess consumption of high glycemic foods (ones that affect blood sugar quickly) increase one’s risk for becoming obese, developing diabetes, and heart disease. Excess sugar is linked with dyslipidemia, which is a lipid profile known to increase heart disease risk. Further, sugar consumption leads to gum disease and many periodontal issues are linked to coronary artery disease. A recent study in the open journal Plos One, discovered that countries where people had greater access to sugar had higher levels of diabetes –rates of diabetes increased by 1.1% for every 150 kcal of sugar available for each person each day.

3) Sugar suppresses immune function
Many animal studies have been conducted to reveal how sugar impairs immune response, so more studies on human subjects are required. What we do know is that harmful bacteria, yeast and candida feed on sugar and these imbalances lead to increased infections and illnesses.

4) Sugar accelerates aging
Believe it or not, sugar can actually cause you to age at a faster rate. This is explained through glycation, a process in which some sugars attach themselves to proteins after travelling through the bloodstream, post-consumption. These new molecular structures promote loss of elasticity in aging body tissues such as your skin, organs and arteries.

5) Sugar can compromise learning and memory
Sugar can also impair your cognitive functions such as learning and memory. A six week UCLA animal study discovered that rats who had consumed a fructose solution (close to pop) forgot their way out of the maze. Rats who had consumed a nutritious diet and others those consumed a high-fructose diet that contained Omega 3 Fatty Acids were able to find their way out of the maze successfully.

6) Sugar dominates the essential nutrients
With so much hidden sugar in a lot of the foods we eat, it’s no wonder we are missing out on the key nutrients. USDA data reveals that people with the highest sugar consumption had the lowest intakes of essential nutrients, particularly, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B-12, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and phosphorous.

Tips on Managing Sugar:
• Don’t eradicate sugar completely, but rather reduce intake to non-toxic levels
• DO AVOID sugary beverages like pops and juices; don’t drink the fruit but eat it
• Stick to water which is always the best beverage
• Watch out for added sugars in foods you wouldn’t expect such as breads
• Limit your alcohol intake, which similar to sugar, increases the body’s insulin levels prompting the liver to store energy in fat cells
• Stick natural sugar alternatives like pure maple syrup, stevia, apple sauce, raw honey, sucanat & coconut sugar
• Bake cookies and cakes yourself using natural sweeter alternatives

References:

10 Ways Sugar Harms Your Health. Retrieved from: http://www.atkins.com/how-it-works/library/articles/10-ways-sugar-harms-your-health

Boseley, S. (2013, March 20). Sugar, not fat, exposed as deadly villain in obesity epidemic. Retrieved from: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/mar/20/sugar-deadly-obesity-epidemic

Sack, D. (2013, September 2). 4 Ways Sugar Could Be Harming Your Mental Health. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/where-science-meets-the-steps/201309/4-ways-sugar-could-be-harming-your-mental-health

The Dangers of Sugar: Is it Really that Bad? Retrieved from: http://www.cncahealth.com/explore/learn/nutrition-food/the-dangers-of-sugar-is-it-really-that-bad#.VNzJ6S58kQs