Top 14 Foods I Would Never Eat

I am a firm believer in the idea of the 80-20 rule when it comes to your nutritional health. Meaning, 80% of what you put into your body should be nutritionally dense, healthy food, which leaves room for 20% to be ‘other’. The more I learn about nutrition, and how it effects everything from disease prevention, our moods and energy levels, not to mention our waistline, I find myself getting closer to a 90-10 rule. At Fit Communications we have blogged often about super foods, how to have a healthy kitchen, food swaps for a healthy kitchen, and so this week we wanted to take a look at the foods we would never, EVER eat. Everyone has different goals and ways of getting there, so we hope this article is an eye-opener to a healthier direction for you.

1. Fast food burgers – I don’t eat red meat. I personally feel it is bad for your blood. It absolutely slows down my digestive system and makes me feel lethargic. The quality of the meat that is used is often really low and full of fillers when buying it from fast food chains (with the exception of A&W). This is something that tops the list of no go for me.

2. Fake cheese – this would include ‘Cheez Whiz’ or Cheese in a Can. It is a completely processed food with sometimes ZERO actual dairy products within. I try to avoid chemicals in my life – whether it be with food, house hold cleaners, skin care…natural is the way to health for me.

3. Pop – I cut out pop a few years ago. I wasn’t really a heavy pop drinker, but the odd one would ‘pop’ in every once in a while. It has literally zero goodness in it for you. And if you think ‘diet’ drinks are okay, think again. They are made with ingredients that actually have you craving more sugar. Moreover, they rot your teeth and your digestive system. I want no part of that.

4. Sandwich meat – “The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified processed meat as a carcinogen, something that causes cancer. And it has classified red meat as a probable carcinogen, something that probably causes cancer. IARC is the cancer agency of the World Health Organization.” That’s enough for me to say no thanks! Source: Cancer.Org

5. White bread – I honestly don’t like the taste of it. I didn’t eat white bread as a kid, as whole grain bread tasted better to me. And I also feel I have trained by taste buds over the years to enjoy health food over garbage. Traditional white bread (think WonderBread) doesn’t have one ingredient that brings anything good to your body. With so many other healthy options out there, an easy pass for me.

6. Sweetener – A good friend of mine who happens to be an incredible Health Coach, once looked at me as I emptied a sweetener pack into my coffee and said “You would be better off with white sugar. That is white sugar covered in chemicals to get the calories out.” Not exactly a statement with an appetizing vibe! When you start to understand WHAT your food is, and WHERE it comes from, some decisions are easier than others. That was the last coffee with sweetener I ever drank.

7. Pop rockets – What even is this? Let’s think about this – it’s a sugary candy that makes a popping sound and feeling on your tongue when it is mixed with your saliva. What do you think that is does on its way down through your digestive system? Don’t you want your digestive system to be clean and working as efficiently and effectively as possible? If so, this should be on your hit list too.

8. Microwave dinners, including pizza pops – A year ago I decided to try living microwave free for one month. Research has not yet proven that microwaves cause cancer or any other direct issue with the human body, but I personally don’t trust the idea of sending waves into your food and that it wouldn’t cause any change to your food’s make-up, and therefore be an issue within your body. Moreover, the ingredients of many microwaveable foods tend to be highly processed, lots of salt, and words I can barely read let alone understand what they really are. When grocery shopping for packaged goods, if there are ingredients that I don’t know what they are, I put it back on the shelf. I simply want to know exactly what I am eating. If someone offered you a plate of maltrodextrin, disodium inosinate, xantham gum and sunflower oil, would you eat it? Because that is what is in many frozen dinners…check the ingredients!

9. Microwave popcorn – Although popcorn can be a healthy snack, it can also be dangerous to your health, even exposing you to cancer-causing chemicals. For all the nitty gritty details and facts, check out this link.

10. Canned meat, for example spam – I am not a big meat eater. I eat seafood and chicken, and that’s about it. As mentioned above, I don’t personally think it is good for your blood, your digestive system or disease prevention. And really…what IS spam?? The major ingredients are:

• Pork ‘with ham meat added’ (whatever the hell that means)
• Salt
• Water
• Potato starch
• Sugar
• Sodium nitrate

And just so you know, the sodium levels are over half of what your daily intake should be. And if that’s not enough to get you off this can-o-meat, check out this link to see how it’s made. Yuck!

11. Orange ‘drink’ (versus orange juice) – this could easily fall under the category of ‘sugary beverages’…either way, I’m not into any of them. If a beverage is sugar packets, add water, stir and voila…it’s not for me. I’d rather get my calories from something tastier. I would like to point out at this point that I am NOT a calorie counter. The premise for the amount of food I take it is answered by asking myself two questions. First, am I hungry? Second, is this a nutritionally dense food choice? If I say yes to both, I eat it.

12. Mozzarella sticks – The idea of eating a basket of mozza sticks hurts my stomach. I have a sensitive stomach to crap what can I say! I will be either running to the toilet right away or be ‘bunged up’ for a day or two when I eat items on this list. No exception here.

13. Processed baked goods with a long shelf life – eating a fresh piece of pastry, cake or pie is amazing. You should definitely indulge in your favorites. But quality here is key. If you have a home-made torte, it’s not staying good for long. A couple of days in the fridge max until things just aren’t quite looking, or smelling, right. Baked goods such as Twinkies or brownies at your local convenience store, that have a six month or longer shelf life should make you worry. Why is this not going bad? If you made it in your home kitchen it would be bad after 2 – 3 days! It is covered with chemicals to keep it from going bad faster. Is that really something you want to be eating?

14. Convenience Store hot dogs or a hot dog on a stick – My first question is how long have those things been sitting on the warmer? And even if all food safety measures are being fulfilled, what is INSIDE that dog that you’re about to get into? Many are packed with pork and preservatives – and not with the ‘high end’ of the pork. It’s the bottom on the barrel, we were going to throw it out levels of meat that are squished into a casing and served. There are definitely healthier meat options for hot dogs – please choose wisely!

The Big “C” – What to Do When Your Friend or Family Member has Cancer

I’m fortunate enough to write this blog as someone who has not been diagnosed with “the Big C” so far in my life. I do, however, know too many people that I love who have been diagnosed. From my experiences with them and from what they have spoken to me about, I have come up with my own “do’s and don’ts list” when it comes dealing with someone that has cancer.

Do – know your relationship level with the person and act accordingly. If this person is a colleague at work and you are not very close, don’t sob on her lap about how awful this is and how bad you feel. Judge your relationship and act accordingly – even if it’s to just say how sorry you are to hear.

Don’t – just offer. DO! Don’t leave it up in the air or dependant on your friend to call if they want to talk. Call her. Text her. Email her – whatever. Just check in. And don’t offer to make a meal. Instead tell her you will make X and just to let her know when is a good night to drop it off. When you do drop it off, don’t stay. The reason most people turn down a meal is because they are in no mood to see people. Chances are they aren’t feeling well and the house is a mess. Don’t come in – even for a short visit. You could even just leave it on the front step with a note and leave after you ring the doorbell.

Don’t – take it personally. If she wants to open up and talk, great. If not, don’t get upset or hurt. You have no idea what she’s going through – even though you could imagine, you don’t know really know. Remember, this isn’t about you.

DO – Let her be sad, mad, angry, frustrated, regretful, blaming etc… This is her life. Getting this news changes everything. She’s allowed to feel all of these feelings.

Don’t – tell her it’s going to be fine. You have no grounds to say something like this. You don’t know. Hell, even the doctors sometimes don’t know.

Don’t – be a selfish asshole. A friend of mine told me about a time, when she had breast cancer, that her friend was over for dinner and kept whining about having to go on blood pressure or thyroid pills! She wouldn’t stop complaining about the fact that she would have to be on them for the rest of her life. OMG! It’s a PILL! My friend didn’t even know what her treatment or odds were like to live, and this twit is talking about her thyroid issue? Get a clue!

DO – be there. Whether it’s a phone call or to go for a spa day or to listen to her cry for 3 hours, just be there.

DO – learn about the disease. Each type of cancer is different and so are treatments. Take time to learn about the type of cancer so that you can be educated if and when you speak to her about it.

DO – share information. If you hear about a new treatment, drug, research or vitamins etc… let her know. Although it’s likely she knows all there is to know from googling the hell out of cancer, she may not have heard of your information. At the very least, she knows you care and are thinking of her.

DO – offer to help. Again depending on the relationship, offer to help drive to treatments or pick up kids from school, or make a meal or clean her bathroom. I find that offering this help to the spouse (if applicable) is most useful. This person is having to pick up the slack on top of having to deal with the illness as well. This person would be more likely to accept help than your friend – or at least that has been my experience.

DO – be positive and supportive. Don’t go overboard and be annoyingly positive – like everything is sunshine and lollipops. But do try to be a source of positivity and support. It has been proven that thinking positive and sending positive energy to injured body parts speeds healing. So try to encourage that.

DO – continue your normal relationship. Continue to celebrate birthdays, have girls’ night, watch The Bachelor, gossip about celebrities and more. Although having cancer has changed her life, it hasn’t ended it! She will likely want or need some sense of normalcy and distraction and a chance to just laugh and smile.

I know that some people may read this and agree or disagree. This is just what I, personally think is appropriate from my own experiences with family and friends. I’m hoping that you will never have to use this list because no one you know will ever get cancer. But if you do, this could be a good starting point on what to do next for your loved one.

Healthy Meals Under $20

HEALTHY (1)I heard an ad on the radio the other day from a grocery chain advertising that they have family meals for under $40 – hence “affordable”. I am not sure who is doing the grocery shopping for these families but I am pretty sure that most people would agree that a meal at home should not cost $40. In addition, I highly doubt that these meals are nutritious. I decided to challenge this $40 meal with making my meals for my family for under $20. This, of course, requires me to do all of the planning, preparation and cooking. However, I would argue that most of us have to do some level of planning, preparation and cooking when eating at home.

I have come up with my week-long “healthy under $20” meals that I am sure will meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of even the most picky of family members. I have tried to keep the meals fun and interesting and sight a bit of what makes each meal healthy.

Monday – Chicken Dinner:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken is packed with protein, phosphorus to keep bones healthy, niacin to help lower cholesterol and amino acids to help kids grow stronger and taller.
  • Steamed broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower – anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid
  • Baked potatoes – Potatoes, if cooked healthily, are good for you! They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fight cancer, control diabetes and help you maintain bone health.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday:

  • Ground turkey or chicken – choose one of these two options instead of the traditional beef variety. Add low sodium taco season and it will be just a yummy as beef and a lot better for you.
  • Shredded choice of dark leafy green lettuce (instead of iceberg) as these high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K.
  • Diced red or orange peppers – great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.
  • Tomatoes and salsa – tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  • Whole grain wraps or hard shell tacos and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday – Spaghetti Dinner:

Whole grain spaghetti or spaghettini with tomato sauce – choose a tomato based pasta sauce instead of cream-based. Not only will this be better for your waste-line but also for your health. When tomatoes are cooked, their antioxidant power is increased as it increases the amount of phytochemicals they contain. Add a side salad with choice of colourful toppings.

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner:

Eggs and ancient grain toast, grilled tomatoes and orange juice or a veggie packed omelet.

Eggs have been given a bad rap but they are really an amazing food – they are loaded with nutrients – you can even get omega enriched eggs now. They contain vitamin A, folate, vitamin B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.

Ancient grain breads have more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium than wheat.

Friday – Fish & Chips:

Your choice of fish and preparation – you can even do homemade and healthy “battered” fish. Fish is loaded with important nutrients such as omegas, protein, vitamin D and iodine.

Serve with baked yam fries. – very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

Saturday – Pita Pizzas:

  • Start with whole wheat pita bread – The “whole wheat” label means the wheat in that product hasn’t been refined so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Unrefined products also have many more nutrients like B vitamins and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper.
  • Top with tomato/pasta sauce, mushrooms (contain selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more), chicken, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple (contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing), ham etc…and top with your favorite cheese.

Sunday – Stir fry:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen stir fry veggies – frozen veggies are just as healthy as the fresh variety as they are flash frozen and all of the nutrients are preserved. Serve over and rice noodles or brown rice

 

Other ideas include roast chicken dinners, homemade soups, salads topped with chicken and baked whole wheat garlic toast. There are so many options. You are only limited by your imagination and, of course your family’s preferences.

So this week, challenge yourself to take the time to prepare some or all of these healthy meals for your family. You will be giving so much more than your gift of time, but the gift of health.

If you enjoyed this blog, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs focusing on nutrition or sign up for our newsletter!

GMO 101

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A breakfast consisting of corn flaked cereal with low fat milk and a side of cut up papaya sounds pretty darn healthy doesn’t it? Well, think again. Thanks to GMOs you are likely eating herbicide and pesticide-laced foods wrecking havoc on your health. But what are GMOs? GMO foods or Genetically Modified Organisms are foods produced from organisms that have had changes to their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding.

GMO crops were first introduced in the 1990s with the Flavr Savr tomato. It was supposed to have delayed ripening properties. This invention of GMOs was thought to perhaps be the answer to end world hunger. This is because the crops could be made to resist pesticides and therefore could increase their yields and decrease costs. However, as we still have world hunger, this was obviously not the case. Instead, the bugs and weeds, like many organisms through time and evolution – learn. They learned to become resistant to the chemicals that were dousing on the crops. This then led to increased use of the chemicals to try to battle these enlightened bugs and weeds. And as I’m sure you know, the more chemicals sprayed on our foods, the worse they are for our health.

Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. The harmful health effects vary from increased allergic reactions to increased direct and indirect cancer rates. They have also shown to cause birth defects, infertility, accelerated aging and immune problems.  They may also reduce antibiotic effectiveness due to consumption through both vegetables and milk. Each year there are many more studies and results published that contribute to the evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on ‘Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.’ They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling.” (Institute for Responsible Technology)

With all of this undeniable evidence stacking up, there has been mounting pressure for Canada to, at the very least, have mandatory labeling of GMO foods and to even ban GMO food production and imports altogether. Unfortunately, Canada is behind the 8-ball on this one. We are one of only a few developed nations in the world that don’t have either of these yet.

Because we have no laws requiring labelling of GMO foods, we are left to fend for ourselves. Without education, how would you know if you are eating a GMO or not? For example, the corn you are buying at the grocery store, unless organic, is probably a GMO. Same goes for your zucchini, squash and papaya! And here you thought you were doing great buying fruits and veggies! Well, so did I.

The only sure way to ensure you are eating non-GMO is to look for the certification and logo “Non-GMO Verified Project” and/or it is certified 100% organic – this is different from simply being labelled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can find these at some of the big chain grocery stores. Another option is to check local farmers’ produce or markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Finally, your best bet is to start organic gardening to grow your own produce.

If you can’t do any of the above options – whether due to cost, time of year or your location, then you can at least avoid the products that are the worst GMO foods for you. Here is the list:

Corn – It is one of the most prominent GMO foods. GMO corn has been tied to a number of different numerous health issues including weight gain and organ disruption. You can’t simply think about corn as the corn on the cob you buy at the store. Also remember that these products are based on GM corn: corn flakes, corn chips, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, corn ingredients in processed foods, glucose, fructose, eggs, milk and meat (as these are fed to livestock and cows).

Canola – One of the most chemically altered foods and the second highest GM crop in Canada, canola oil is obtained from grapeseed through a series of chemical actions. Included here are products such as canola oil, margarine and some honeys.

Soy – It is modified to resist herbicides. Monsanto (GMO superstar) still controls the soy market and approximately 90 percent of soy is being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone. Included in this list of things to avoid are: tofu, soy oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy beverages, soy puddings and egg, milk and meat (as GM grains are fed to livestock and cows).

Sugar – Almost 100% of all of the white sugar beets grown in Canada are Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets. I’m OK with losing this one – as white sugar is cancer feeder anyhow.

Aspartame – Aspartame is a toxic additive and it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

Papayas – GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Although imported to Canada and the U.S. they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union.

Peas – Peas that have been genetically modified have been found to cause immune responses in mice and possibly even in humans. A gene from kidney beans was inserted into the peas creating a protein that functions as a pesticide.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Tomatoes – these have all been modified to resist viruses and have longer shelf-life.

Dairy, Eggs and Meat – Your dairy, eggs and meat products may contain growth hormones – this is aside from GM grains the animals are fed. Purchasing these items as organic is key.

Finally, steer clear from pre-made canned soups and frozen foods.

So there you have it. Scary, isn’t it!? I know that I have had my eyes opened to just how important it is to know where your food comes from. My hope is that the more people know about this, the more likely we will have pressure put on our government to work on protecting us from harmful GMO foods and in turn work on making the organic healthy foods more affordable for all.

As with previous blogs about health, we have to be in the driver’s seat of our own health and wellness. That includes learning as much as we can in order to make informed decisions for us and our families. If you feel that this blog has helped you in your own journey toward healthy living, you may be interested in ready more of our blogs on nutrition and health or sign up for our newsletter!

Sources: naturalnews.com, naturalsociety.com, gmoinquiry.ca, Institute for Responsible Technology

 

Veggies 411

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Thank goodness for chefs!  They have made me fall in love with vegetables! No matter what restaurant you visit nowadays, you can find some truly decadent vegetables! Curried cauliflower, grilled brussel sprouts, roasted peppers, spinach salads, glazed carrots, barbequed asparagus or garlic anything! I LOVE my veggies!

We all know vegetables are good for you. But why? What do they actually do for your health? Well I am in no way a dietician or nutritionist but I certainly have done my research! After doing some digging, I have come up with a fairly comprehensive list of veggies, some of their “groupings” and their health benefits. I included some of the benefits of each vitamin or mineral as I go because I also am curious as to what each “does” for our health.

Within the list below, I am sure you will find a few that you can work into your daily diet – whether it is in a soup or a salad at lunch or as a yummy side at dinner. Make it happen. Not only will your health thank you but so will your taste buds!

Allium foods are the super flavors! They have natural antibiotic properties and can help boost immunity, reduce inflammation and fight infection. They include leeks, onions, shallots, scallions and garlic.

Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B complex – especially B6 and folic acid. Asparagus reduces inflammation and even fights depression.

Beans and peas are much higher in protein than other vegetables. This is why they are a great “meat” alternative for all those veg-heads out there! They also contain fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.  They include peas, lentils, and beans – soybeans, lima, kidney and garbanzo.

Bell peppers are great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.

Carrots are known to improve eyesight due to their high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A. But did you know that they also help protect against cancer? They’re also a good source of vitamins B, C and K, fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate.

Cruciferous vegetables are anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid Included in this group are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

Dark green leafy vegetables are high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K. Included in this group are kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, parsley and red/green lettuce.

  • Kale, (one cup of raw kale provides 460 percent of your daily vitamin K (prevents osteoporosis and aids in blood regulation and even reduces menstrual pain), 74 percent of your vitamin A and 107 percent of your vitamin C!
  • Spinach also offers an abundance of vitamin A (cancer fighter, eye support, skin protector and immunity builder) and folate too.

Eggplants are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Their high amount of soluble fiber contributes to healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Squash are rich in carotenoids (cancer and heart disease prevention), vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Sweet potatoes and yams are very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

So there you have it! You receive a slew of health benefits by eating these colourful delights! Ensure your plates are as colourful as possible to ensure you are getting enough of your veggies. Your Mom would be so proud!

If you enjoyed this blog or found it informative, you may want to check out some of our other nutrition blogs or sign up for our newsletter!

 

Fruit 411

fruits-and-pills

Everyone knows that fruit is good for you. However, very few of us know why certain fruits can prevent or treat specific diseases, illnesses or ailments. I know that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” – but why? My curiosity has once again gotten the better of me so I decided to research the health benefits of a broad spectrum of fruits. Most, if not all, of these fruits can be found year round at your local supermarket.

Apple – The skin of an apple has a high amount of fiber – to lower cholesterol and keep you regular. It also contains quercetin that can protect you from heart disease and possibly allergic reactions. Apples contain antioxidants that may help lower the chance of developing diabetes and asthma.

Apricots contain lycopene which protects your eyes and prevent heart disease and skin cancer.

Bananas have more potassium than most fruit and may help lower blood pressure levels, reduce your risk of stroke and improve muscle function. They also are a great source of resistant starch – a healthy carb that fills you up and helps boost your metabolism. All the fiber in bananas helps to restore normal bowel function.

Blackberries help reduce the risk of stroke and cancer.

Blueberries are the top choice for antioxidants – which prevent cancer and macular degeneration. Blueberries are great for brain function and memory and may help lower the risk of developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. They also contain a good amount of manganese – which assists in your metabolism. Blueberries have even been shown to prevent Urinary Tract Infections.

Cantaloupe is high in beta-carotene, which may help reduce the risk of developing cataracts.  The Vitamin A in cantaloupes make it a great for your skin as it boosts cell reproduction, making it a natural exfoliator. Cantaloupe can help reduce inflammation, prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, boost immunity and help protect your skin from sunburn.

Cherries contain more of the antioxidant anthocyanin than any other fruit. Anthocyanin may help reduce inflammation and ease the pain of arthritis and even lower cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of cancer.

Cranberries are antibacterial so they can help treat and prevent urinary tract infections, prevent kidney stones and ulcers. They may slow the growth of some cancer cells.

Dragon fruit – These fruits aren’t scary at all as it turns out! They have a ton of essential fatty acids, which we need but can’t be made by our body. These essential fatty acids lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol.

Grapes – Red grapes, like red wine, contain resveratrol, an antioxidant that may lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Grapefruit -Pink grapefruit contain lycopene and flavonoids, which may help protect against some types of cancer and have been shown to reduce cholesterol. It may also improve your metabolism.

Guavas – help treat high blood pressure, colds, constipation and diarrhea.

Kiwis have more vitamin C than oranges and help in the development and maintenance of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. They can also help lower your risk of heart disease and of cataracts. They have also been shown to boost the immune system and prevent the effects of asthma and reduced coughing and wheezing. They also might help reduce the occurrence of colon cancer.

Mangoes are high in the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help protect vision and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration

Oranges – We know oranges are a good source of vitamin C. But they also are good sources of potassium and folate – an important vitamin for pregnant women that can help prevent neural tube defects.

Papayas are a good source of folate and contain papain, an enzyme that aids digestion. Plus, their high vitamin A content aids in maintaining the health of the skin. This vitamin A coupled with vitamin E may help protect against heart disease and colon cancer.

Peaches regulate the immune system and help to fight off infections.

Pears can help prevent constipation, reduce blood cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.

Pineapple contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing.

Plums contain an antioxidant called chlorogenic acid which may decrease anxiety.

Pomegranates promote normal blood pressure levels and reduce the risk of heart attacks. They also help reduce the effects of arthritis and have the ability to treat erectile dysfunction.

Prunes don’t just act as a natural laxative. They are also a source of boron which may help prevent osteoporosis.

Pumpkins are loaded with beta-carotene, which combined with potassium may help to prevent high blood pressure.

Raspberries are rich in antioxidants that may help prevent and treat esophageal, cervical and colon cancer.

Strawberries are loaded with antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties to slow down the growth of cancerous tumors.

Tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.

Watermelon has twice as much lycopene than a tomato!

So there you have it! The A-Z (ok only to W and missing a few letters but…) of fruits that not only are deliciously, naturally sweet, but are super good for you! I am pleased to know that you don’t have to break the bank to get antioxidant loaded fruits. I was surprised to learn that cantelopes, apples, watermelon and kiwis were such powerhouses!

Please note, that the information I have provided is based on my own research. I am not a doctor, nutritionist or dietician nor an expert in the field. If you have specific questions about your health and which fruits may be best for you, please consult your health professional. All I can do is share what I have learned and hope to inform and inspire you to learn more about how to improve your health to make today a happier and healthier YOU!

If you found this blog informative, you may want to check out more of our blogs on nutrition! You may also be interested in signing up for our newsletter!

10 Things I’ve Learned Since Losing My Mom

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I lost my Mom to cancer in December 2013. It was a fast transition from illness to death. No matter how old you are, losing your Mom is a terrible thing. In looking at the positive side of things, I have put together a list of the things I’ve learned since losing my Mom.

1) No one is safe from cancer- my mom wasn’t a saint but she was pretty effing close. She was always giving of herself – she made everyone feel welcome and important. You just need to know that sometimes bad things happen to good people.

2) You must fight for the health care you want. You have to be your own advocate for your own care. Expect more of your health care team – ask lots of questions and don’t be satisfied with what they tell you if you need or want to know more.

3) “Everything happens for a reason” – I disagree. This is something people say in crappy or sad situations to perhaps make themselves feel better or see the light. But sometimes things don’t happen for a reason. Sometimes shit just happens.

4) Family is number ONE. My parents always stressed this. Sometimes friends come and go, but family is family. You can, and should, always be able to count on them. My Mom taught us to nurture these relationships and stress this point with my own kids.

5) People show their love in different ways. Some people are great with flowery words to express their love. Others show their love by doing and giving. My mom was a “gifter”- she loved to give gifts. She took time and pride in giving the best gifts. It was her way of showing how much she was thinking of you. This may be part of the reason she celebrated every single holiday, event or milestone. It was more opportunities to show her love. So remember that not everyone shows love in the same way, but if you are lucky enough to feel someone’s love, cherish it greatly.

6) Celebrate the little things. My Mom was the best at this. If we passed a swimming level – celebrate! If it was the day of the dead in Mexico…we should have a party for it! I love that!

7) Do things for your kids – with your time. It means more than anything money can buy. Volunteer at their school, go for a bike ride together, do crafts together, bake cookies, throw the football around. No one will ever remember how awesome it was that dad bought you an iPad or mom watched T.V. with you. But they will remember the way that you made them feel special, cherished and loved.

8) Have no regrets – don’t wait to take that trip, start that business or tell that special someone you love them – tomorrow may look very different than today. Our mom was our biggest supporter. No matter how crazy the idea would be, I can still hear her say ‘that’s a great idea! How can I help?’ She always believed in us and the notion of ‘going for it’.

9) Take care of yourself. Start today. You can do things starting now, no matter your age, your health or your lifestyle, to be a healthier and happier version of yourself.

10) Grieving is a process and is different for everyone. Respect others’ right to grieve their way and in their own time.

As sad as I am that I have lost my Mom – my son will never meet her, I will never see her warm smile or watch her laugh until she cries or go spring plant shopping with her or eat her amazing love-filled prime rib – I am so eternally grateful for the 38 years I was blessed to have her as my Mom. For not only did I have the lessons she taught me while she was here, but also those that I have learned from her passing.

Seeds Broken Down

Seeds

Are you as confused as I am regarding “seeds”? What type should you eat? What are the benefits? Do you eat them whole or ground? How do you store them?

I did some quick research to find out some of the claimed health benefits of flax, hemp and chia seeds. I hope that this helps alleviate a bit of the confusion. I know that it did for me!

One of the things that all three seeds have in common is that they are all rich in essential fatty acids like Omega 3. So if you want to keep your heart healthy and lower cholesterol levels, you should try to consume a lot of any one of these seeds.

Other than this, all three seeds tend to have slight differences in storage and health benefits.

FLAX:

Flax seeds come from the flax plant and come in two varieties: brown and yellow. They both have very similar nutritional benefits.

Flax contains 8 grams of fiber per one tablespoon. Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diets.  Eating fiber helps regulate your bowels and helps to keep bloating at bay.

Flax reduces the risk of breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men because flax contains lignans. Lignans alter the way your body metabolizes estrogens into safer forms.

Storage: Ensure that you purchase flax seeds in the pre-ground variety as the whole seeds don’t break down when you eat them. You can also purchase them as whole seeds and grind them yourself easily in a coffee grinder. This will be a more cost-effective method. Whole seeds can stay fresh for up to a year. They should be stored in a cool dry place. If you do buy the ground version, it should be stored in your freezer.

 

HEMP:

Hemp seeds are produced by the hemp plant.

Hemp seeds contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system. This reduces the instances of disease and helps excrete toxins from the body.

Hemp produces phytosterols, which helps reduce cholesterol.

Hemp contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.

Hemp seeds are very rarely allergens, unlike many other nuts and seeds.

Storage: Hemp can come in the form of seeds, oil or meal. Unlike flaxseeds, you don’t need to grind them to reap their benefits. Unfortunately, the down side of hemp is that the seeds can quickly go bad and so are best kept cool and used quickly. One other thing to note is that you shouldn’t heat or cook the seeds as it will destroy the nutritional benefits of the fatty acids. So it is best to add hemp seeds to foods that do not require cooking or sprinkle on after cooking.

 

CHIA:

Chia Seeds are derived from the flowering annual herb in the mint family.

Chia seeds contain many antioxidants and are a complete protein. They balance your blood sugar and give you steady, long lasting energy.

Chia seeds are also a great source of fiber and have both soluble and insoluble fibers.

Chia seeds are high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and protein. All of these nutrients are essential for bone health.

They can also be helpful in losing weight as the gel that is formed around the seed has no calories and makes you feel full.

Storage: Chia seeds easily store for 2 – 4 years without refrigeration, and even longer if refrigerated. They only require a dry, cool location. Even chia meal still has a long shelf life of 1 – 2 years. All 3 varieties of these seeds tend to be readily available at local grocers or health food stores. What is nice is that you can add these seeds to pretty much anything – salads, yogurt, and smoothies.

 

If you decide to add one (or many) of these tiny gems into your diet, I am confident that it will benefit your health. Remember though that this is just my opinion based on my own research. If you are on medication, definitely consult your health professional to ensure that the seeds won’t interfere with your medication. If you would like more information on any of these seeds, I would urge you to do some research of your own or consult a nutritionist or alike. Remember that you are only given one body and likely the only one looking out for your own health. So make sure you respect your body and treat it as best as you can.

 

Sugar Sugar

FC_SpreadWordHealth

By now, most of us have heard that sugar is bad for you. But why? The evidence I have read to support why is staggering. We have all heard that sugar promotes tooth decay. However, this is only one of the tens of health problems sugar is linked to.

A hundred years ago, people consumed an average of 15 grams of sugar a day.  Today the average person consumes 73 grams of sugar, most of which is in the form of high fructose corn syrup – which is in most processed foods we buy.

Commonly used white sugar is bleached with chlorine bleach – which is an obvious dangerous substance to ingest.

Sugar has no essential nutrients. In fact, people who consume lots of sugar don’t have important nutrients they need, especially vitamins A, C, B12, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, chromium, copper, magnesium and iron. It also interferes in the absorption of minerals.

One of sugar’s main components is fructose, of which there is no physiological need. We can eat it in moderation – in fruit, for example, and our liver can metabolize it properly into glycogen. However, eating too much of it will result in it being stored as fat. This overload on the liver can result in fatty liver disease.

Diseases and Conditions Sugar is Linked to and Why:

High Blood Pressure: Sugar causes elevated uric acid levels which ultimately raise blood pressure (systolic/high number).

High Cholesterol: Sugar raises total cholesterol and triglycerides, increasing the bad cholesterol (LDLs) and decreasing the good cholesterol (HDLs) which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

Inflammation: Sugar causes free radicals to form that cause inflammation in the body at the cellular level. This leads to changes in skin tone and appearance. Common effects include deep wrinkles, saggy skin, and dark circles under the eyes.

Immune system deficiency (arthritis, asthma and MS): Our immune functions are reduced after eating high sugar foods which makes the body more susceptible to infections. Sugar consumption lowers the white blood cell count, which in turn weakens your immune system.

Obesity:  By its rapid absorption, sugar promotes excessive food intake.  The body changes sugar into fat at much greater rates than it does starches.

Cancer:  Many studies have shown that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer. Having constantly elevated insulin levels (a consequence of sugar consumption) can contribute to cancer. Diets high in sugar will increase free radicals and oxidative stress, basically setting the stage for the disease.  Cancer cells feed on sugar and need it to survive as cancer is uncontrolled growth and multiplication of cells.

Additional Problems and Effects:

  • reactive hypoglycemia, Crohn’s Disease, and ulcerative colitis
  • food allergies
  • cataracts and nearsightedness
  • gallstones, appendicitis, hemorrhoids, varicose veins
  • epileptic seizures
  • emphysema, varicose veins, hormonal imbalance, kidney disease

How much is too much?

We all need some sugar to feed our body cells. However we need to limit our consumption of real sugar to less than 10 grams a day (over and above that which we normally get from fruits & vegetables). As mentioned above, with the development and overload of processed foods, most people’s intake of sugar is far above what is should be.

It can be argued that sugar is only one of the culprits of many of the aforementioned health issues. However this is one that we can do something about. It isn’t about uncontrollable environmental poison, heredity, or lifestyle. We can all afford to eat less sugar. We need to do this and ensure we help our children do this in order to prevent diseases and conditions and lead healthier lives.

 

High Blood Pressure? Try these “super” foods!

Dark Choc and Nuts

Why is it that no matter what ailment you are suffering from or disease you are trying to prevent, many of the items listed below are recommended. When researching how to lower blood pressure, the “usual suspects” were recommended.

Blood pressure is the pressure exerted by circulating blood upon the walls of blood vessels. A person’s blood pressure is usually expressed in terms of the systolic pressure over diastolic pressure and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm HG). Normal resting blood pressure for an adult is approximately 120/80 mm Hg. High blood pressure is referred to as hypertension – stage 1 (140-159 and 90-99) and stage 2 (160+ and 100-109).

When diagnosed with high blood pressure, people are usually told to improve their diet and start exercising. Luckily, there are specific foods you can eat that will target high blood pressure and may even reverse the condition. It is no surprise that these foods also work to fight off diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

But how do they work, why are they recommended and how do you incorporate them into your daily routine?

Whole Grains – Whole grains are grains that are still completely intact and have not been refined to remove the bran and germ. Whole grains retain the entire grain kernel, making them high in fiber and other nutrients. The high level of potassium and magnesium in whole grains is linked to lower blood pressure.

Breakfast: oatmeal or oat bran muffins for breakfast.                    
Lunch: healthy sandwiches made on whole grain bread for lunch.

Low-Fat Dairy – Dairy products are high in both calcium and vitamin D. These two nutrients boost each other’s health benefit and are more powerful at lowering blood pressure when consumed together. A calcium deficiency can increase the risk of developing high blood pressure.

Breakfast: try skim milk with a whole grain cereal.                      
Lunch: stir in fruit and granola with low-fat yogurt.

Spinach -It’s full of magnesium and folate which are both powerful tools in fighting high blood pressure.

Breakfast: add some fresh spinach leaves to an egg white and turkey wrap.  Add some salsa for a an added kick of flavour and antioxidants!
Lunch/Dinner: Add fresh or packaged spinach leaves to just about any lunch salad and replace lettuce on sandwiches with fresh spinach leaves Toss some spinach leaves with other fresh veggies and add them to pasta dishes for a healthy dinner main.

Nuts, Seeds and Beans – Unsalted sunflower seeds and other nuts are also full of magnesium. Beans are also high in potassium and fiber, and the combination of nutrients found in beans make them an excellent choice to help lower blood pressure.

Lunch: Nuts, seeds and beans can all easily be added to salads, soups and sandwiches.
Snacks: Edamame, soybeans that are still in the pod, can be boiled in minutes and taste great eaten straight out of the pod.

Bananas – An excellent source of potassium, bananas can significantly impact blood pressure levels. When your potassium levels fall below recommended levels, your body will hang onto sodium, which raises blood pressure. However, the opposite is true! When potassium levels are high, the body will release stores of sodium.

Breakfast: Eating bananas is quick and easy – add sliced bananas to whole grain cereal or oatmeal or add to protein shakes or smoothies.                 
Lunch: For a healthy mid-day snack, add top whole grain bread with some peanut butter and banana slices.

Baked Potatoes – YES! Baked potatoes!! Potatoes are fat-free and cholesterol-free, and are a rich source of magnesium and fiber. Much like bananas, baked potatoes pack a whopping punch of potassium into every serving. Eating baked potatoes can help lower blood pressure by helping to keep potassium levels high and sodium levels low.

Lunch/Dinner: Enjoy baked potatoes alone, or with a spoonful of fat-free sour cream. For added flavor, add some fresh minced garlic or freshly chopped chives. For added protein, top with cooked ground turkey – yum!

Dark Chocolate – Again a big YES! Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants and vital nutrients. Just one ½ ounce serving of dark chocolate a day may help to bring blood pressure levels back down to the normal range – which is like an invitation to eat it!

Snacks: Dark chocolate bars or grate some chocolate shavings over fat-free yogurt, fat-free ice cream or decaffeinated tea. Don’t go crazy here though. As this is high calories, it can be too much of a good thing!

Green Tea – The theory is that the polyphenols in tea are high in antioxidants that help protect the heart and fight off free radicals that can elevate blood pressure.

Breakfast: Try a cup of hot green tea in place of your morning coffee.

Avocados – Avocados are high in monounsaturated fat, which are high in antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin B6, magnesium and folic acid. Avocados contain more potassium than bananas. This combination of nutrients is what makes avocados a healthy blood pressure lowering food.

Lunch: Add slices to salads, sandwiches and wraps.
Snacks: Mash up some avocados and add some fresh diced tomatoes, fresh garlic and lime juice to make yummy and anti-oxidant rich guacamole.

As you can see, there are many foods that may help lower your blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, follow your doctor’s orders for treatment. However, you can try adding these foods for either a natural remedy or to build on your existing treatment. Not only for your blood pressure but for overall good health!