Posted on February 23rd, 2018 by Irene Stronczak
Hormones are chemical messengers and without them, proper functioning in our body does not occur. They control everything from reproduction, digestion, metabolism, emotions, and even hunger and satiety. When our hormones function properly, we feel great and when they do not, we can have health issues that make us miserable.
Let’s look a few key hormones systems and you will get the picture as to how important they are.
Hypothalamus: It signals the production of other hormones and in doing so, helps regulate things like hunger, moods, sleep, body temperature, and sex drive.
Thymus: It produces the hormone thymosin, which helps regulate the immune system. The thymus shrinks as we age but scientists are not sure it is supposed to, which means that, perhaps, good nutrition could help maintain immune function as we age.
Pancreas: Insulin produced in the pancreas is a key hormone and its sole function is to help blood sugar get into the cells so we have the energy we need for our cells to function. However, too much insulin has been implicated in many health issues.
Thyroid: Hormones produced by our thyroid are associated with metabolism and heart rate. If you have trouble losing weight – your thyroid may not be functioning optimally.
Adrenals: There are many hormones produced by the adrenal glands but their main function is to help us cope with stress, both physical and mental. Because of this, the adrenals rule the roost in the body. This is because protecting us from danger is considered to be one of the most significant systems in the body and because of that, when we are stressed, the adrenals can cause all kinds of havoc with other systems.
Pituitary: This is a master endocrine gland that produces hormones that tell other glands and organs to produce more hormones. However, hormones from the adrenals like cortisol or insulin from the pancreas can exert pressure on the pituitary and interfere with other hormones relationships where the pituitary is involved.
Of course, the hormones that often concern most people are the reproductive hormones.
In women, the ovaries produce estrogen, progesterone and small amounts of testosterone before menopause. After menopause, it is the adrenals that produce these hormones to keep women healthy.
For men, the testes produce testosterone and small amounts of estrogen and progesterone.
These are just a few hormonal relationships – it really is complex and often hormone problems are a result of several hormones exerting influence in a way that causes more than one issue. Food and lifestyle and supplements can help immensely to feed the various body parts so they work in a more balanced way. A consultation with a menopause expert can help you do this.
Balanced hormones are the key to a having a body in balance. Even small imbalances can cause an issue. Getting a proper diagnosis is key and from there decisions can be made to help correct the issues.
Posted on February 16th, 2018 by Irene Stronczak
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.
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):
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:
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:
If none of these apply, then monitor how your body reacts when you have coffee. Does it:
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
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)
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until creamy.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: You can use tea instead of milk if you prefer.
Posted on February 5th, 2018 by Irene Stronczak
Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere!
And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you. Right?
Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat. This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it’s certainly not the “holy grail” of health.
Let’s focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.
What you eat and drink
The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important. Don’t get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that’s simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone.
When the intense focus on how much we ate didn’t work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn’t we?
You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don’t forget to also pay attention to what you eat.
Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods). This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.
Every day this is what you should aim for:
How you eat and drink
Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.
Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.
Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food?
When it comes to how you eat let’s first look at “mindful eating”.
Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe.
This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.
This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full?
We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.
And don’t forget about drinking your food.
Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness.
Don’t get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. And don’t gulp it down too fast.
If your smoothies don’t fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.
Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.
Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie
Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend).
Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk.
Blend, Serve and Enjoy!
Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions. Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference.
Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.
Posted on February 5th, 2018 by Irene Stronczak
Sometimes those holiday 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.
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.
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:
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.
Posted on February 1st, 2018 by Irene Stronczak
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:
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”.
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:
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
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!
Posted on July 15th, 2014 by admin
Green tea consumption may help prevent ovarian cancer in women. In a recent study scientists elevated the relationship between caffeine-containing beverages and ovarian cancer risk by comparing 781 women diagnosed with a primary invasive or borderline epithelial ovarian cancer and 1,262 women without the disease. Women who consumed one or more cups of green tea per day experienced a 54% reduction in ovarian cancer risk compared with those who did not drink green tea. Those who reported drinking an average of less than one cup per day experienced a smaller reduction. Green tea, which is commonly consumed in countries with low ovarian cancer incidence, should be further investigated for its cancer-prevention properties. Because the disease is difficult to detect in its early, treatable stages and a foolproof screening test is not widely available an effective means of preventing the disease remains the only feasible approach to reduce ovarian cancer mortality. Green tea has been used as a medicine in China for least 4,000 years. Today the scientific research is providing hard evidence for the health benefits long associated with drinking green tea. The National Cancer Institute published the results of an epidemiological study indicating that drinking green tea reduced the risk of esophageal cancer in Chinese men and women by nearly 60% . The University of Purdue researchers recently concluded that a compound in green tea inhibits the growth of cancer cells. There is also research indicating that drinking green tea lowers total cholesterol levels as well as improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to bad (LDL) cholesterol. The secret of green tea lies in the fact that it is rich in catechin polyphenols , particularly epigallocatechin gallate ( EGCG ). EGCG is a powerful anti-oxidant, besides inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, it kills cancer cells without harming healthy tissue.
Posted on July 15th, 2014 by admin
So you’ve seen the advertisement, grocery shelves are loaded with fortified yoghourts but what exactly are probiotics? Should you be taking them?
Pro=for life,biotics=bacteria, so essentially they are live bacteria that are good for life. The body has more bacteria in it than cells.In fact 10 x the amount. They are live non-toxic bacteria beneficial to human health and play a crucial role in not only the gastro-intestinal system but overall health as well. There is research linking probiotics to improvements in digestion, nutrient absorption, intestinal repair, and immune health. They have also been linked to prevention of diseases and cancer, and increasing overall cardio vascular health.
Fermented foods are part of most cultures lifestyles; such as yoghourt,sauerkraut,miso,and tempeh.
Probiotics ferment dietary substances such as fiber that our bodies can’t normally digest. They act as a natural detoxification system for our bodies and can regulate and help with constipation..They stimulate and fortify the the body’s own natural defenses so are part of a good immune strengthening strategy. Hence they have been found to help reduce respiratory infections and treat and prevent travellers diarrhoea. They are useful in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis. Also many women will get yeast infections or diarrhea when prescribed an antibiotic, taking a supplement of probiotics can help prevent or reduce symptoms of diarrhoea, or yeast infections.
So what can reduce our natural host bacteria? Antibiotics, many chronic diseases,constipation,oral contraceptives,travel,aging,diet and food poisoning.
So how can you add probiotics to your diet? What supplements are available? adding fermented foods such as yoghurt are a good idea ,use organic and non sweetened when possible, or make your own. Supplements commonly contain popular species such as lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.Make sure when buying supplements to look for guaranteed potency throughout the shelf life, human strains and exact species. Clinical research as well with that particular brand. There are now many strains available with different indications check with your health care provider for your specific concerns.
There are many benefits of probiotics and they play a crucial role in your health make sure you are getting enough.
Posted on July 15th, 2014 by admin
What is acidosis? What is an acid base balanced diet?
The modern day diet here in North America of primarily meat and grains creates a significant acid burden. Acids are produced normally as a result of normal metabolism. However our poor diet with a lack of alkaline green leafy vegetables and fruits causes hyperacidity where the amount of acids produced is more than normal. Combine that with stress, inflammation and toxins in our environment our body becomes acidic. Acidosis increases with age. Also as we age our kidneys do not eliminate acids as well. So many women have a low grade chronic acidosis.
What happens when our bodies become acidic? The body uses any buffering substances available to neutralise them because even small changes in pH (a measure of acidity and alkalinity) can be harmful. The lower the ph the more acidic the body becomes. So the body keeps Ph in our blood and other tissues within a narrow range. Acidosis or an acidic pH has been linked to risk ofchronic diseases including cancer and osteoporosis. To maintain a steady pH,alkaline salts of calcium are released from the bone, this can lead to osteoporosis and poor bone health. Acids are also stored in connective tissue and can cause inflammation.
How to measure your pH.Ask your pharmacist for a kit of pH papers and test either saliva or urine, urine is more accurate. Test over twenty four hours and record the results. The first reading is done in the morning with the first urinary void. An ideal range is between 6.2 to 7.4.The morning reading is normally more acidic and the evening one due to the kidneys eliminating overnight and during the day.
What can you do about acidosis? First it is important to change your diet. The ideal diet needs to be approximately 75% alkaline forming foods and the rest acidic. Are you getting your 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables? These foods are naturally alklanising.They have minerals such as potassium and magnesium which act as a buffer. Green leafy vegetables like spinach pack the greatest punch. Reduce your intake of acidic foods such as cheeses, cold meats and dairy. Excess protein diets above 75g a day has been found to generate a negative calcium balance. Of note is the fact that the highest rate of hip fractures occur in women who consume large amounts (60-80g) of animal protein daily. Exercise regularly and avoid stress as much as possible. Deep breathing helps as well.Also the use of an alkalinising supplement may help. This is a mineral supplement designed to bind and remove and neutralise excess acids. Simple sodium bicarbonate can be used and potassium citrate. Also a combination such as alkalinising powder containing a blend of potassium, magnesium and calcium carbonates can be used. Ask your local pharmacy to make this up for you. Alkaline broth with celery,spinach,and carrots and seaweed helps alkalinise the body, and remove toxins.A greens supplement is also a good idea.
So keep your car battery acidic and your body slightly alkaline.