Top Ten Food Swaps for Healthy Living


When we think about eating healthier and more nutritionally dense food, often people think about it being restrictive. They think about all the massive changes they need to make to their current eating habits, and all the things they can no longer enjoy. There needs to be a major shift in mentality if you truly want your food habits to become healthy long-term. You need to think about all of the things you are adding to your body to nourish and care for your cells. You need to think about how great you will feel from eating healthy – increased energy, better mood, and slimmer waistline. I would suggest that for anyone who wants to put their nutrition at the forefront, to do away with the word ‘diet’, as this constitutes a concept of it being temporary and restrictive. Rather, change the wording and mentality to eating healthy – because your body deserves it.

When first starting out, there are some simple changes you can do that can make a huge difference. Here is my list of ten food swaps to get your nutrition working for you today!

  1. Ditch the Soda. Both regular and diet soda can wreak havoc on your health. Soda is loaded with sugar or aspartame, phosphoric acid and caffeine all having various adverse health effects. Drinking soda can lead to obesity, is bad for your teeth, and can lead to dehydration. Swap it for infused water, which is simply water with fruit, lemons and/or herbs such as peppermint or cilantro. There are tons of recipes online for different flavors, or just put your favorite berries or citrus flavors in your water bottle.
  2. Ditch the Flavor Shots in Your Water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is very important, especially in the summer. But adding a quick squeeze of high sugar or aspartame-loaded flavor combats the goodness of the water. Instead, opt for infused fruit water or consider adding a splash of chlorophyll, apple cider vinegar or kombucha. All of these additions have different health benefits and can be purchased at your favorite health food store.
  3. Buy Ready to Eat Veggies. Do you ever throw out vegetables that you haven’t got around to eating? If you’re anything like me, this drives you nuts! It is literally throwing money into the garbage. Although ready to eat veggies (pre-cut, pre-washed) are slightly more expensive, if you eat them instead of tossing them in the trash, it ends up working out. With busy schedules sometimes we don’t have time for a lot of food preparation, so if you can grab some carrots or broccoli that are ready to go, you may tend to eat more of them.
  4. Swap Your Dips. Who doesn’t love a great dip with their snacks? These are often loaded with unwanted calories, sugar and bad fats. But the idea of dry broccoli is definitely not winning me over. Instead, try using salsa or hummus. If you really have a craving for something creamier, swap your sour cream for Greek yogurt.
  5. Swap the Whites for Browns. This one is huge! If you are currently eating white rice, white bread, white pasta, white flour, crackers, cereal…its time has come to an end! Loaded with sugar, these trigger a release of insulin and an hour or two later your hunger returns. This can lead to diabetes, obesity and issues with your heart health. Instead opt for whole grain foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, flour and cereal.
  6. Swap Your Cooking Oils. Sometimes it’s not just about what you’re eating but what you’re cooking it in. If you are currently using margarine or any type of vegetable oil (canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut oils) it is time for change! Swap any of these out for either raw organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Swap Your Flavored Yogurt. Often flavored yogurt is full of sugar in the fruit mixture at the bottom. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and mix in your own fresh fruit. Adding blueberries, raspberries or even banana brings the same amount of delicious flavor and has the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit, without the same sugar content.
  8. Swap Out the Creamy Soup – I love soup! In fact I could probably have it every day and never get bored. Processed soups are often loaded with sodium and items I have never heard of in the ingredient list (I mean really, what is ‘monosodium glutamate’ anyway?). If you are having soup, try swapping out cream-based soups for tomato-based or broth soup. Making soups at home is a great way to bring a healthier soup to the dinner table.
  9. Swap Out Your Sandwich Meat. I gave up processed deli meats a few years ago when learning about the adverse health issues that have been studied on the effects of eating this food long-term. Studies have shows eating deli meats can cause cardiovascular issues and an increase risk for certain types of cancer. Swap out your bologna, pepperoni and turkey breast for pieces of meat from the bone such as chicken or turkey.
  10. Swap Out Regular Ground Beef. An easy switch when strolling through the meat aisle is choosing extra lean ground beef opposed to regular ground beef. If beef is not on your menu, try extra lean ground chicken or turkey.

Remember it is not about denying yourself the things you love, rather making slight adjustments and adding healthy and nutritionally dense food to your plate.

Budget Friendly Healthy Grocery Tips


With the current price of food at its highest in history, and no signs of this slowing down anytime soon, this week’s blog looks at tips to eat healthy on a dime. There are lots of ways you can save money at the grocery store and still walk away with healthy, nutritionally dense food choices for you and your family. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

  1. Buy in bulk – whether it be at your local grocery store or specialty health food store, there are lots of healthy options in the bulk department. Chia and flax seed, whole grain pasta, lentils, spices – you name it, you can buy it in bulk. And not only are you saving some dough, you’re also saving the environment with less packaging.
  2. I know organic is typically more expensive. And although I find it to be a priority, everything does not have to be organic. A good rule of thumb is if it has a thick peel, you are good to go non-organic. Dr. Andrew Weil, one of my all-time favorite health gurus, names the ‘dirty dozen’ to always buy organic, and the ‘clean 15’ that you are okay to buy non-organic here.
  3. Keep your eye open for sales at your favorite health food store, grocery store or pharmacy for supplements on sale. In Winnipeg, Vita Health always has a flyer with items on sale and in-store specials that I love to take advantage of. Buy one, get one, or reduced prices on supplements happen all the time at supermarkets and large pharmacies…buy them on sale and you’re sure to save a buck.
  4. Collect points – shopping rewards, air miles, or in-store ‘bucks’…be sure to collect them. They really do add up. You might still pay regular price on your food, but if you can get a free flight at the end of the year or a bulk purchase percentage off, it is definitely worth it.
  5. Grow your own. If you can, you must! Plant a garden that you can eat from. In the winter of course this is a difficult one to start, but growing your own herbs year-round is something you can do. Once the spring hits be sure to plant lots of freezable options. This way you ensure pesticide free food while at the same time being able to eat at a significantly reduced cost. It is some work, but work you will most certainly enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  6. Community Gardens are a great way to get to know people in your neighborhood while at the same time save money. They work similar to a food swap – ‘I’ll trade you some tomatoes for some corn’ mentality. Find out if your area has one and get involved.
  7. Farmers Markets might be my all-time favorite place to be. Buying your organic produce from a farmer and his/her family feels great…and it’s cheaper too. I could easily spend $40 at a market and have fresh fruit and veggies for us all week.
  8. Cook for yourself. Be rid of the processed foods – they tend to be added with ‘food’ and ingredient items you don’t understand, are packaged incessantly, and are much more expensive. Have a day with friends where you make soups, sauces, dips and items that you can freeze. It is a fun day to spend with your buddies while making whole, natural, nutritious and delicious food. There are tons of recipes online to make anything and everything you can imagine.

Eating healthy can be done on a dime, and I promise that down the road your body and bank account will thank you for it.
If you enjoyed this blog, read more about our favorite nutritional tips.

Top Ten Favorite Green Foods For My Health


In this week’s blog, I wanted to explore the concept behind ‘greens’. When grocery shopping this past week, I looked down at my cart and noticed that everything I had put in so far was green. I definitely eat a very healthy and balanced diet (including other colors of course!), although not everyone is on that same field. So this week’s blog is my Top Ten Favorite Green Foods, why I love them and why you should consider adding them to your daily nutrition routine.

1. Broccoli – this high fiber food truly is a super food. Broccoli lowers cholesterol, aids in digestion and naturally detoxes the body. Packed with Vitamins D, K and A this tasty vegetable has enormous anti-inflammatory benefits. Some people find it difficult to digest raw, so a light steam can help with that. I eat this daily with hummus or on it’s own.

2. Avocado – loaded with nutrients, this healthy fat is great for your heart, kidneys and overall cell function. Its ability to reduce inflammation has shown links to cancer reduction and help with arthritis. It is also high in fiber which can help with weight loss and keep your digestive system on track. Avocados also help your body absorb nutrients from other vegetables, meaning it works for you! I put avocado with my eggs every day. It’s also a great topper on salads, chicken, toast, or salmon.

3. Spinach – this delicious one is full of vitamins and minerals – everything from A, C, E and K, to protein and flavanoids to calcium, iron and magnesium. It’s basically loaded with good things for every part of your body. Great for your heart, brain, skin, hair and bones. I put spinach in my breakfast wrap every morning right before the eggs on top to give them a slight steam which adds even more benefits to spinach. A spinach salad for lunch is also a frequent occurrence in this household. Add with your favorite veggies, a few Hemp Hearts and some extra virgin olive oil…you are set. Added bonus? Eat spinach with a high vitamin C fruit such as berries to help pack even more of a punch.

4. Brussels Sprouts – everyone probably remembers having brussels sprouts as a kid and hating them. But they seem to have made a come back in my kitchen in more recent years. Packed with vitamins and minerals, they are noted as one of the top 20 healthiest foods by the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. Studies have shown links to fighting cancer, preventing diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They also increase your energy – so really how can you go wrong. After steaming these veggies I love to either roast them or toss them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil or raw organic coconut oil. It’s important to remember the foods we choose are important, but equally important is the way and in what we cook them.

5. Kale – with three grams of protein per serving, this high antioxidant super food is making its way to my fridge every week. It is said to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Studies have shown links to cancer fighting properties, cardiovascular strengthening and can help you lose weight. I find it a harder one to digest so a light steam or baking them in raw organic coconut oil in the oven is a great way to add this one to your day.

6. Bok Choy – as part of the cabbage family, bok choy is loaded with nutrients, omega 3s and anti-oxidants. Cancer prevention is often tied in studies to bok choy and other green leafy vegetables. I find this one great to chop up and add to stir fry. I also make a great cold salad with chickpeas, bok choy, yellow and red pepper and cucumbers. Delicious!

7. Aloe Vera – there are numerous health benefits to drinking aloe vera. A spoonful in the morning helps with digestion, antioxidant support, healthy immune system, reduces harmful toxins, increases nutrient absorption, balances stomach acidity and helps sooth muscle and joint discomfort. For more info on this morning move, see here.

8. Chlorophyll – liquid chlorophyll is an easy one to add to your water to dash into your day. It helps keep your red blood cells clean, healthy and plentiful by rebuilding and replenishing those cells. In such, our energy levels are boosted. Other benefits include detoxifying your liver, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-candida and promotes healthy iron levels. It helps build your blood. And if you think about that statement, your body completely depends on it.

9. Green Tea – I’m not a huge fan of the taste, so when I find I’m ‘over it’ I simply supplement. This way I ensure I get the health benefits on the days I’m not drinking it. Numerous health benefits from this anti-oxidant super star include improved brain function, burns fat, lowers your risk of certain types of cancer, lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by protecting your brain, lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes, and promotes longevity. All that for a cup of tea? Do it!

10. Supplementing – now at the risk of this all sounding overwhelming, I wanted to give two suggestions of how to get your greens in when you don’t manage to eat them all. I have two absolute favorites. First is Green Envy. A one ounce shot in the morning gives you your greens for the day. That doesn’t mean go and eat fast food for the rest of it, but it is a great way to ensure your greens are in no matter what. This can be purchased at both Superstore and Costco. My second suggestion is my absolute favorite new obsession – Magnum Performance Greens. I mix this in my shaker with Spirulina and water while I work out. I have noticed a significant improvement is my energy maintenance while working out and my hair and nail health. I still ensure the above are on my plate every day, but this is truly a tasty added bonus. You can purchase it online or at many local health food stores.

If you enjoyed this blog, we have lots of great info every week on our dedicated health blog. Here are a few more articles you might enjoy about nutrition –

WHO Announcement – What It Means and How to Adjust


The WHO (World Health Organization) broke many people’s hearts on October 26, 2015 when it announced that processed meats cause cancer. Who doesn’t love a great steak? Bacon and eggs? Jets Dog? Corned beef sandwich? Heck, even a turkey breast sandwich on rye? Yum!

Specifically, the WHO stated that eating processed meat such as sausages and ham causes cancer, while unprocessed red meat may also be carcinogenic. The WHO’s cancer research unit now classifies processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” based on evidence from hundreds of studies, and linked it specifically to colon, or colorectal, cancer. The report outlined that eating 50 grams of processed meat each day — the equivalent of two slices of ham or a few slices of bacon — can increase the risk of these cancers by 18%.

To be fair, there are many other things can be just as, if not more harmful, than enjoying your Keg prime rib roast. By not exercising, having a diet lacking adequate fruit and vegetables, sun tanning and smoking can all increase your risk of getting cancer. This also doesn’t take into consideration other potential risk factors including gender, family history and age.

That said, now that we have this information, what do we do about it? To start with, we need to know what exactly is a “processed meat”?  The WHO defines processed meat as “any type of meat that is salted, cured or smoked to enhance its flavor or preserve it. Processed meat generally contains pork or beef, but may also contain poultry.” Red meat refers to “all types of mammalian muscle meat,” such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.

Sadly, my fear is that the people that will take this information to heart have likely already made this change to their diets. It has been suggested for years that eating too much red meat is not good for you. People should choose lean, unprocessed white meats and fish more often for overall better health. In addition, many of us already knew that bologna and other processed food are packed with chemicals to make them a) last longer and b) taste better. So those of us that already knew all of this will only be slightly affected by this announcement.

Will it really make a difference with the masses? If someone is driving thru a burger joint for the King Burger with Cheese, or are regularly frying up hamburger to add to a “Helper”, are they really going to stop these food choices because of this announcement? My fear is no. For there are so many other things that we know are killing us but people still continue to choose them as a part of their lives. Even if you are uneducated on the topic of health, you can pick up a package of cigarettes and see images of people and organs dying. But people still smoke. However, at least the information to try to make us healthier is out there.

Part of the problem with making the change into our daily routines is information and suggestions for realistic changes or substitutions. From school lunches to quick family meals, here are some suggestions for healthier alternatives to some of our newly “forbidden” foods.

Instead of: Bologna, salami or corned beef sandwiches

Try: Sliced chicken/turkey (unprocessed, not sandwich meat), tuna, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches

Instead of: Hot dogs, hamburgers

Try: Homemade turkey, chicken or veggie burgers or dogs

Instead of: Hamburger helper with ground beef

Try: Hamburger helper with ground chicken or turkey or even Tuna Helper

Instead of: “lunchables”

Try: Homemade bento box! You can include a variety of healthy choices including veggies and dip, hummus and pita (a complete protein together), fruit and cheese.

Thankfully the WHO is looking out for us and continuing to help make us all healthier. At Fit Communications, we are trying to do the same thing for Canadians by sharing knowledge such as this announcement to help reach more people. Please share this blog post with others so that we can all work towards leading our healthiest lives.

Fit Communications Top Ten Favorite Health Tips

Media Relations

At Fit Communications we definitely live our brand – every day we try to do our best to make healthy decisions for ourselves through nutrition, fitness and overall health and wellness. It takes time to get to the point where it is a lifestyle and you seem to naturally know what to do and how to do it. It takes lots of time and practice and being your own “guinea pig” often to see what works best for you and your personal system. This week’s blog is a look at our Top Ten Health Tips that we adhere to each and every day.

  1. Workout for 60 minutes, five times per week. I know this seems to some like a lot, so start where you can. If that is 45 minutes, three times per week at the onset, great! The point is to get moving. Your body and mind will love you for it. For us, the gym is almost like meditation. We both feel at our very best, my most confident and at our best mental state during and post-workout.
  2. Take supplements. Each person is different and has different needs, so there isn’t a fool proof list of what you should be taking. Depending on your age, health, sex, activity level would determine what you should be taking. At minimum we would suggest a multi-vitamin and a fish oil supplement. Along with that, between us we take calcium, vitamin C, D and B-complex, green tea supplement, immunity boosters, pro-biotics, CAMU-C, magnesium and milk thistle.
  3. Have some turmeric every single day. It is great for everything from anti-inflammation to anti-cancer. For more information on turmeric and a few of our other favorite spices, see here –
  4. Eat a plate of raw veggies every single day. There are so many to choose from with tremendous benefits. Try to get these anti-cancer “superfoods” on your plate each and every day: spinach, broccoli, carrots and red pepper.
  5. Eat some seeds! We both have a minor obsession with Manitoba Hemp Harvest and their Hemp Hearts. Seriously – have you tried these things? UNBELIEVABLE! But there are other terrific options out there as well, all with tremendous health benefits. For more information about seeds and what might be right for you, read this –
  6. Get lots and lots and LOTS of sleep. Easier said than done – I’m sure some are thinking. If you are having trouble sleeping or something about your life just doesn’t allow for that now, talk to your doctor. Sleep is our bodies’ way of cleaning itself and reviving our energy. After reading much about centenarians, they always say they had a great relationship with their bed – some would sleep up to 12 hours a day. Do your body and your mind a favor and get adequate sleep.
  7. Drink more water. This can be a tough one as most of us usually wait until we are thirsty to drink. However, experts say that thirst is the first sign of dehydration. The magic ‘8 glasses a day’ rule is no longer, but try to get a glass in every time you pass your kitchen sink.
  8. Keep it clean. We personally don’t believe in cleanses. We would much prefer to do something daily to keep our systems clean and running at its best. To do that, try two things. For starters, partake in intermittent fasting. Secondly, take a few things in the morning that naturally cleanse the system – aloe vera (by the spoon) and chlorophyll added to your water (see #7!).
  9. Meet with your doctor regularly. It is way too often that we hear of people finding out they have a disease or sickness when it is too late to do anything about it. Getting routine checkups, pre-screening and testing regularly and discussing any health concerns you may have with your doctor is imperative.
  10. The 80/20 Rule. Try to make nutritionally-wise decisions 80% of the time, and the other 20% they can slack off a bit. Now that doesn’t mean in the 20% you smoke cigarettes and eat salami! Just don’t think that you have to be perfect. Once it feels like you have a hang of that, bump it up to 90/10. We promise it will become easier as time goes on.

Those are our Top Ten Health Tips. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.


How to Have a Healthy Pregnancy

Healthy Pregnancy

Being pregnant doesn’t have to mean that you now have a justified reason to eat everything and anything you want, stop working out and become sedentary. In fact, this is the time of your life to do exactly the opposite. Never has it been more important for women to eat well and be healthy, for it is no longer just about you. It is about that little bambino inside. You want to create the optimal conditions for baby’s development while living within you!

One of the first things to remember about staying healthy and fit during pregnancy is to consult your doctor – with pretty much everything. If you aren’t sure if you should be doing something or eating something, ask the professional.

Secondly, every body and every pregnancy is different. So what is great for one person may not even be possible for another. Now being in my third pregnancy, I now know that even the same person can have radically different pregnancies.

So if you are expecting, this is what I personally think are “DO’s” for pregnancy health:

  • Look at the Big Picture. Don’t just view being healthy as eating well and exercising. Also look at your own emotional and psychological well-being. Take time for yourself, pamper yourself, meditate, do yoga, have warm baths or whatever provides you with a “zen” experiences. Baby will be much better off if mama is happy and relaxed. Try not to let stress of work or everyday life get in the way of your emotional health.
  • Be Active. “They” say that you can do anything you did before you got pregnant after you are pregnant. So if you ran before, you can still run. If you did aerobics or spin, you can keep doing that too. As mentioned before, ensure you confirm with your doctor (in case of any ‘weirdisms’ you have in the pregnancy). If you stay active and fit during pregnancy, not only will this help your body stay healthy during pregnancy, it will also likely make labour easier and will help your body bounce back more quickly after your baby arrives.
  • Eat well. Again, this is the time in your life when you need to feed your baby the best food you can for optimal growth and development. Things that are at the top of the list nutritionally are:
    • Water Intake – Aim for eight 8-ounce glasses per day, plus one 8-ounce cup for each hour of light activity.
    • Prenatal Vitamin – This should balance out and fill in any gaps in what you are getting in your daily food intake. (check amounts in your vitamin for the ones listed below)
    • Folate and folic acid — 800 micrograms daily – Why? Prevent birth defects
    • Calcium – 1000 milligrams daily
    • Vitamin D – 600 IU daily
    • Protein – 71 grams daily
    • Iron – 27 milligrams daily
    • Lots of fruit and veggies – naturally loaded with vitamins and minerals listed above
    • Omega 3 – 300 mg DHA daily – not only is this good for the baby’s neurological development but studies have shown that there is a connection between Omega 3 deficiencies in pregnant women and post-partum depression. The baby will drain the Omega stores from the mother in order to develop. Therefore, if this is not supplemented or increased in the mother’s intake, then it will leave them deficient.

Pregnancy is an incredible time of a woman’s life – if she chooses to or is lucky enough to experience it. It is also the best time for women to take care of themselves. Not only for their own health but for that of your future “little bugger!” This information is based on my own experience and research. Remember that you should always consult with your health care professional for your own personal health and circumstances.

Seeds Broken Down


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 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 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 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


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.


Food – Friend or Foe?

The topic of a person’s relationship with food is one that truly intrigues me. Why do some people have such a hard time with food? Why do some people use it for comfort? Why do some people use it for a sense of control? Why do some people eat far too much and some people eat far too little? Why do some people feel guilt for eating the wrong foods, while others bask joyfully in the deliciousness of it all? Why do we punish ourselves when we eat too much or too little? Why do we use food as a reward for when we succeed? This subject is something that I am truly inspired by, and my thoughts are often provoked by it all.

Today, one in three North Americans are obese. By the year 2020, that number is expected to rise to 45%. Today, one in three people are also overweight, which leaves only one in three at a “healthy” weight. The reasons for this epidemic are as individual as the people who face it – for every person there is an individualized unique set of circumstances, issues, non-issues and battles. Each person must be treated for his or her overweight or obesity individually. Unfortunately there is no magic potion. No magic pill. No magic answer.

It is definitely not due to a lack of trying. Last year, Jenny Craig sales were just short of $500 million. NutriSystem raked in over half a billion dollars in sales and Weight Watchers sold over $1.2 Billion in products and services. The money spent on weight loss products and services grows each and every year. And North Americans continue to get more overweight each and every year. So if we are spending more, trying more, adhering more, why are we not winning the battle against obesity?

Temporary fixes to obesity are what those companies hang their hats on. In fact, 98% of those who lose weight gain it back. But why? What is going on with our relationship with food (and exercise) that as a society we are not keeping the weight off? Losing it for the wrong reason. Losing it the wrong way. Not dealing with the emotional side of it all. Just as people gain it in an individualized manner, they lose it and gain it and lose it and gain it just the same.

Overall, North Americans spend over $70 Billion per year on weight loss programs and products. SEVENTY BILLION DOLLARS on something every single year that is not working! If we spent $70 Billion dollars on feeding the world we could eliminate world hunger! But we keep trying to drop weight, keep it off and struggle again and again and again. So what gives?

I believe that a massive shift in perspective about our bodies and our minds needs to happen. Once you start loving yourself and your body so much there is no way you would want to see any harm done unto it, the way you treat yourself will change. The foods that you consume will change. The amount you eat – be it too much or too little – will change. The day we all start to support the ideology that food is for health and wellness not for punishment or for reward is the day that we begin to change.

I would like to use this blog as a place for people to come and learn about health, nutrition, fitness and wellness, as our mission at Fit Communications is to spread the world of health every day. But we also want to use this blog as a forum for opinions, thoughts and issues that face YOU. So please, share with us in your comments about your take on this. When you think of the term ‘relationship with food’ what comes to YOUR mind?

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!