Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

INFLAMMATION! INFLAMMATION! INFLAMMATION!

This topic seems to be absolutely everywhere these days. Who in the health and wellness field is NOT talking about the infamous inflammation?

Some say it’s the root cause of all disease.

Everyone wants to tell you how to kick it to the curb.

Let me give you a rundown on my favorite anti-inflammatory foods. And for bonus points, I'll even tell you which anti-inflammatory, antioxidant compounds they contain.

Paleo Diet 101

Paleo Diet 101

The "paleo" diet has been pretty popular in the past few years. And while its name is rooted in ancient hunter-gatherer traditions, recent studies have come to support some of its health benefits.

In a nutshell, it's a whole food, nutrient-dense way of eating that removes processed foods. And that's pretty good, right?

Well, let me give you some of the goods on the paleo diet so you can decide for yourself.

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

How Do I Keep My Blood Sugar Stable?

You've probably heard every health and wellness expert talk about blood sugar at some point, right?

Well, this means it's probably important for your overall health.

While your body has mechanisms in place to maintain stable blood sugar, there are many nutrition and lifestyle strategies that you can implement to help it out.  Maintaining stable blood sugar will improve your overall physical and mental health.

Read more about blood sugar and steps you can talk to keep your blood sugar stable.

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is thought to be one of the (many) health issues that can be attributed to our high-stress lifestyles.

Because there is no widely accepted definitive test for adrenal fatigue, it's still quite controversial.

Fatigue, cravings, inability to sleep, and mood swings are real.

And common.

Let's dive into what we know about adrenal fatigue and learn some ways to deal with it.

The "Gut"/Brain Connection

The "Gut"/Brain Connection

You know that you can have gastrointestinal symptoms when you’re stressed or nervous. We’ve all experienced that.

 But, you may have also heard about the "gut-brain connection." That your gastrointestinal system, lovingly called the "gut," not only talks to your brain (yes, talks "to" your brain) but is kind of its own brain (a "second brain").

And that it may influence your actual brain.  

Read on to find out more about the Gut / Brain Connection

The Coconut Oil Craze

The Coconut Oil Craze

Everyone seems to be talking about coconut oil these days. It's almost as if it is a miracle cure for everything!

But if you want to know what’s really true about coconut oil, you’ll have to read my post.

Spoiler alert: Not only should you jump on the bandwagon, but I’ll let you know three reasons why it can actually help you with fat loss.

Naturally Lower Your Stress Hormone Cortisol

Naturally Lower Your Stress Hormone Cortisol

Stress is everywhere these days. We feel it when we wake up, when things happen during the day, and we even take it to bed with us.

It’s chronic. And it’s not awesome for your health.

When we’re stressed our body reacts in a couple of ways, one is by releasing the stress hormone cortisol.

And you can imagine that there are natural ways you can lower it.

So check out my list of recommendations to reduce cortisol. 

Coffee Confusion

Coffee Confusion

Coffee is healthy. Coffee is not healthy. Drink it. Avoid it.

Why all the confusion?

If you want to know whether you should drink coffee or avoid it, today’s post is for you. Coffee affects different people differently. It has some health benefits, but there are people who should avoid it.

Is this you? What should you consider before your next cuppa joe?

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

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

Have you heard the recommendation to eat certain foods (or all foods) raw?

Do you already eat a variety of healthy foods, and want to know how to get the most vitamins and minerals out of them?

You’re probably not surprised that there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach to maximizing the vitamins and minerals your body absorbs from foods.

Let me go over which types of foods are best eaten raw, and which ones are best eaten cooked to maximize their nutritional benefit.

Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances or "sensitivities" can affect you in so many ways.

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

I'm not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

What I'm talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

Symptoms of food intolerances

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

Symptoms like:

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain
  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Exhaustion after a good night's sleep
  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's or rheumatoid arthritis
  • Rashes or eczema
  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is "foggy"
  • Shortness of breath

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

How to prevent these intolerances

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

I know, I know...this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms. 

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it's worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

Lactose (in dairy- eliminate altogether, or look for a "lactose-free" label - try nut or coconut milk instead).

Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains - look for a "gluten-free" label - try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

This is by no means a complete list, but it's a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" can affect up to 13% of people.

If you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

Click here to download a free copy of my Weekly Food Tracking Sheet to help you track.

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it's not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you'd never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.     

What if it doesn’t work?

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.

You may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that's OK. I don't want you to continue suffering if you don't need to!

Half-Ironman Race Weekend

This weekend is kind of a big deal for me.  Last year a friend and I decided to train for and compete in a Half-Ironman triathlon.  We swam, we biked, we ran, we stretched, we practiced, we made hotel reservations.  When we got to Racine, the site of the race, the weather forecast looked perfect, no rain and moderate temperatures.  The night before the race we got to Racine early, had dinner with our support crew, and were back at the hotel to try to get some rest before the race.  

The next day everything was going according to plan.  The weather was cooperating and we got our transition area set up.  

Then we heard the announcement, "Please do not walk to the swim start yet.  We're tracking severe weather and will keep you posted."  That's when the previously calm waters of lake Michigan started swelling and waves began crashing onto the beach.  The rain started coming down in sheets.  We were promised a race update in 30 minutes.  

Always the optimist, I was reassuring my training partner we would be racing.  But then we got the announcement that the swim would be cancelled and they would give us another update at 10:00.  Eventually they decided to cancel the swim, shorten the bike, and do the full run.  The storm was still in full swing and we decided to go home foregoing the race.

A Half-Ironman distance triathlon is a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run.  Training for this race takes dedication, time, and lots of sunscreen.  By the time race day comes around, anyone who has been part of the training is offering well wishes and hopefully congratulations after the race.  

Last year we got the well wishes but missed out on the congratulations.  

I could easily make my peace with not racing that day as I've done many Half-Ironman races before.  This would have been my training partner's first Half-Ironman distance triathlon.  Her disappointment remained for weeks.

On our drive home we looked for other races in the area that we could still register for.  Unfortunately, most of the races in our area at that distance had already taken place so we would have to wait until next year to do our race.

This weekend is the "Take-2" of our quest for a Half-Ironman finish.  

The race is in Geneva, NY in the Finger Lakes region.  We have been training all summer preparing for the 70.3 miles we'll cover during the race.  We are ready and we are excited.  

And we have a contingency plan -- if the race is cancelled, we are doing the Seneca wine trail. 

 

Haven't Changed Anything in Your Diet But You Feel Like You're Getting Fatter?

You are positive that you're not eating more food or “junkier” food but you're still gaining weight.

Is this possible?

Yes!  You are NOT crazy!

And here's why:

We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.

There's definitely more to the story than just what you're eating, right?

A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.

But, let's go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you're eating the same.

Things like:

  • Aging
  • Hormones
  • Sleep
  • Stress

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.

Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.

The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.

When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you're eating the same way you always have.

Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.  Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.

Sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. 

And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night's sleep.

The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.

It's true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain.

Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine.

Stress

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.

And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?

While you can't necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga.  Or even mindful eating.  What about those new adult coloring books that are all the rage now?

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you're eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you're eating the same way you always have.

Recipe (Thyroid-friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl

Serves 2

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 1 avocado (thinly sliced)
  • ½ cucumber (diced)
  • ½ red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 1 green onion (chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ½ garlic clove
  • dash salt and pepper

Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.

Serve & Enjoy!

Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go.  Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.

5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

5 Reasons You Bloat More After Age 45

Yes, it's very possible that you are bloating more now that you're 45 or older.

Want to know one reason why?

Because our stomachs become less efficient at creating acid when we eat and that stomach acid is a critical step to proper digestion of foods.  Reduced stomach acid can have wide-ranging digestive effects, including the feeling of bloating.

And, while that may not be awesome you just know I have a bunch of great tips and a recipe that can help you out, right?