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 Clean and Dirty

clean_dirty

I am sad to admit that summer is over. We are settling into fall – back to school, cooler nights and leaves falling. Pretty soon the local farmers’ markets will come to a close for another season. I absolutely LOVE the markets – fresh and local produce, baking, eggs, chicken and meat. I won’t be able to buy organic, non-GMO, local produce from the men and women that care for and cultivate these tasty treasures.

So now what? Living in the prairies, if we want to buy organic and non-GMO produce we will be paying a big price. Unless you have won the lottery, you probably can’t fill your fridge with everything that is organic and not covered in pesticides. We have to make choices.

Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made our winter shopping easier. They have compiled the “Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen” for 2016.

The Dirty Dozen consists of the top twelve produce with “most” pesticides – i.e.: the produce on this list should be on your “organic” section of your shopping list. This year the list includes…

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Some of the EWG findings are shocking – including…

  • More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides

EWG’s Clean Fifteen is a list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. So the following 15 items don’t necessarily need to be “organic” – you can save some money on the produce on this list…:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwis
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower.

In case you need some evidence that pesticides on your produce are dangerous to your health, the EWG (and so many more organizations and governmental agencies) have found that “pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including: brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin, eye and lung irritation and impairment of children’s brain development”

So keep these Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in your wallet or screenshotted on your smartphone. You can reference the lists when you are contemplating buying those organic or non-organic strawberries! You may find that when you spend a few extra dollars per package, it is balanced out by not only your non-organic onions but the benefit to your long-term health as well. If you found this blog interesting and helpful in making you and yours healthier, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs on health and nutrition and signing up for our newsletter here. For more information on EWG – what they do, why they do it and how you can help, check out their website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

Kick Flu to the Curb!

 

chicken noodle soup

Having just survived a stomach flu, then a bad cold and yet another flu, I have done some serious research on not only how to naturally treat colds and flu symptoms but also how to prevent the illness from happening in the first place. One thing that is always recommended is to get a flu shot – especially for those “at risk”. I am not here to take a stance on whether or not to get the flu vaccine. I am, however, here to tell you what you and your kids or family can do help prevent this annoying life speedbump that won’t cost a fortune. I will also note what to do if you find yourself in need of cold and flu rescue!

So first things first – in order to stay healthy, you need to give your body what it needs – a constant supply of nutrients. Some studies show that “optimizing” vitamin D is a way to help prevent illness and shortening duration if you do get sick. Getting enough sleep is also vital to preventing illness. Even a couple nights of not enough sleep can leave the body worn down and unable to resist illness. (I have a 7 month old – hence my flu-cold-flu pattern!) Regular exercise has also been shown to reduce the number of times a person gets ill per year and the duration.

So that is what to do to “prevent”. But if you are stuck in the depth of flu-hell, prevention can take a hike. So here are some ideas on what you can do if you’re in the thick of it. There are so many natural herbs, oils and remedies out there – it is actually overwhelming! So I have picked my top faves. Some may seem unconventional and some may be “old news” but they are all worth a try for a variety of ailments and symptoms!

Hot Liquids– This one is a no-brainer but still a solid recommendation – load up on the hot herbal teas and hot lemon water at first sign of illness. The heat helps boost your immune system and a variety of herbs can help with infection.

Remove White Foods– At the first sign of illness, completely remove all white foods from the diet. This includes grains, sugars, milk, cheese, dairy, sweeteners, soda, etc. These foods suppress immune function and slow the body’s healing ability. Given the reason, it may be a good idea to remove these for your regular diet!

Nettle Leaf – Some natural doctors say this is the only herb needed for illness treatment. It contains large amounts of vitamins and trace minerals and helps the body stay hydrated and remove toxins.

Garlic– It’s a natural antibiotic, anti-fungal and antibacterial. For the most potent effect (and a sure-fire way to keep visitors at bay) finely mince 1-2 cloves of garlic and float in a small glass of water.

Cinnamon – Cinnamon is an effective antiviral and antibiotic. Mix 1 tablespoon with 1 teaspoon of honey and stir to make a spicy and very effective tea that helps relieve cough and congestion and lower fever.

Ginger – In capsule form, ginger can greatly help with nausea and vomiting associated with the flu. It can also help with high fever and headache.

Yarrow – I had never heard of this one! But apparently it is unsurpassed for flu and fever, and great for kids. If a lot is used in tea at the start of getting sick, it claims to shorten the illness to less than 24 hours.

Peppermint – It can be used as a tea or rubbed on the skin to bring a high fever down. It is antimicrobial and antiviral and kids usually love the taste.

Vitamin C – Perhaps the best vitamin for cold and flu, vitamin C in large amounts can greatly speed recovery.

Onions and Garlic – You may want to sleep alone with this one! Slice onion and garlic and place all over the bottom of the feet (rub olive oil on first). Then wrap the foot in saran wrap and place a sock on overnight. Onions and garlic have been shown to pull toxins and help the body heal.

Apple Cider Vinegar Gargle and Drink– Yes Andrea (Fit Communication’s HUGE Apple Cider Vinegar supporter) I will do it! Drink a tablespoon in water (gargle first) at the first sign of illness and repeat hourly until symptoms disappear. This alkalizes the body and helps kill viruses and bacteria.

Hydrogen Peroxide– At the first sign of cold, flu, sinus infection, or ear infection, put a dropper full of hydrogen peroxide into each ear. Lie still with the hydrogen peroxide in the ear until it stops bubbling. Do this on both sides. This is especially effective for kids. Repeat every few hours until infection is gone.

Chicken Soup – It’s been used as a “cure-all” by our grandmothers and their grandmothers’ grandmothers – for good reason! Chicken soup stops certain white blood cells (neutrophils) from congregating and causing inflammation, preventing large amounts of mucus from being produced. The hot soup also thins the mucus. Adding freshly chopped garlic to your soup gives the system a powerful boost as the garlic kills germs outright. Adding red chili pepper flakes to increase the broth’s decongestant power.

Blow-dryer – As strange as this sounds, inhaling heated air may help kill a virus working its way up your nose. Set your hair dryer on warm and hold it at least 18 inches from your face. Breathe in the air through your nose for at least two or three minutes but preferably 20 minutes.

There you have it. Try these to prevent or seek relief from those nasty little bugs that wreak havoc on life. They are all natural remedies so they’re definitely worth a try!

If you liked this blog or found it helpful, you should sign up for our newsletter and check out some other of our health blog posts here!

 

Wellness Mission

Life's enjoyment

Most of us in today’s modern society have come to the realization that in order to live long and have a good quality of life, we need to be focused on our personal wellness.  Wellness is being is a “state or condition of being in good physical and mental health”. It’s a holistic view of health.

At Fit Communications we are passionate about the promotion of health and wellness for all Winnipeggers, Manitobans and Canadians.  As such, we are happy to share some ideas of things you can do on your own personal journey toward wellness – all in your neighbourhood, no matter where you live.

In my research, I was pleasantly surprised by how many “wellness” focused activities, groups and events there are in every corner of our great province. Great job Manitoba! In addition, some of the items discovered are free! So you it proves that you can be living well no matter where you are or how much money you make.

1)      Exercise – not only will exercise improve your physical condition.  Exercise will also reduce stress, release endorphins to create feelings of happiness, and increase relaxation. One fun way to exercise includes swimming. The City of Winnipeg, Steinbach, Thompson and most communities throughout Manitoba have public swimming pools. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps to partake. You can leisurely lap swim, jump off diving boards or take an Aquafit class. Many pools even have “free swims” to make it an affordable event for the whole family.

2)      Yoga – Although it has been around for centuries, its popularity has risen steadily in North America since the 1980s. Today, yoga studios both big and small can be found in nearly every community. Yoga is both a physical exercise as well as a form of medication and spiritual growth.

3)      Winter outdoor activities – staying active in the winter months does amazing things for our mental and physical wellbeing. A few local Winnipeg favourites include tobogganing at “Garbage Hill” in the west-end, snowshoeing at Fort Whyte Alive, skating on the rivers at the Forks or building a snow man in your backyard. Get outside and embrace winter!

4)      Events! Educate yourself and do your homework.  In order to know what options are available in your area, you have to do your homework. If you have the internet, it’s as easy as a Google search for your interest and your area. Check out these websites that post local wellness-type events:

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-you/manitoba-events

http://attachmentnetwork.ca/events/

http://www.manitobainmotion.ca/news/media/?id=79

5)      Cooking. Whether taking a formal cooking class from the town’s best restaurant’s top chef or a community centre class, taking a cooking class is a great way to learn how to choose, prepare, and eat nutritionally sound and healthy foods. This will help your physical self as you attain or maintain a healthy weight, as well as prevent and treat certain diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses. Taking one with a friend also makes this a great outing and bonding experience to increase your social wellbeing.

6)      Take an art or pottery class – unleashing your creative side. Express your emotions in a different medium. Locally owned galleries may offer classes or check your local community centre or City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide.

7)      Gardening. By gardening you are getting back to nature. This is probably one of the greatest things to improve your overall wellness. Much research has been done and shown that the benefits to gardening are multiple and cover a wide spectrum. Gardening and participating in community food growing projects can help yourself and your community. They can “contribute to improved social interactions and community cohesion…reduce the occurrence of episodes of stress…reduce physical pain and improve attitudes to healthy eating”. This is especially helpful in northern communities where fresh produce is costly to bring in. Visit http://ahta.org/news/benefits-gardening-and-food-growing-health-and-wellbeing for the full list of benefits to your physical and mental wellbeing.

8)      Get connected with like-minded people to do a variety of activities while building your social wellbeing.  Join a few Facebook groups – or join or create a “Meetup Group” http://www.meetup.com/  The website is all about “neighbors getting together to learn something, do something, share something…”If neither of those are really your thing, look to a local studio, store or community group that hosts workshops, events etc… You can join anything from walking or cycling to photography or parent groups.

I am sure there are many more ways to get fit, inspired or centered. If you have other ways, please share them – with us and your circle. Let’s pass on the positive energy!

Committing yourself to your own wellness isn’t a selfish or self-centered act only about you. It’s about building your community and being “present” with those close to you. Strive for constant self-improvement to live your best life – for life is short and we only get one chance to make the most of it!

Alzheimer’s – What you need to know.

Alzheimer's

September 21 is World Alzheimer’s Day. This disease may be one of the hardest to deal with as a family member. It is a disease that attacks the brain and can change the person you know and love into someone that doesn’t even know you. This must be emotionally draining for family and caregivers of the people with the disease.

So what is Alzheimer’s? It is the most common form of dementia (60-80% of cases) that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.

In Canada, women make up 72% of Alzheimer’s patients.

Alzheimer’s has no cure. However, there are treatments available and support for caregivers. Although Alzheimer’s treatments cannot stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life.

I know many people my age are dealing with parents and some level of forgetfulness. The obvious concern is that this may be the beginning of Alzheimer’s. However, almost 40% of people over the age of 65 experience some form of memory loss. When there is no “underlying medical condition causing this memory loss, it is known as “age-associated memory impairment,” which is considered a part of the normal aging process.”

But how do you know what is normal aging “forgetfulness” and what is dementia? The Alzheimer Society of Canada http://www.alzheimer.ca/ has a list for you to help determine if behaviors are “normal” or if they are a reason for you or your loved one to seek medical advice.

Normal Aging  Dementia
· Not being able to remember details of a conversation or event that took place a year ago · Not being able to recall details of recent events or conversations
· Not being able to remember the name of an acquaintance · Not recognizing or knowing the names of family members
· Forgetting things and events occasionally ·Forgetting things or events more frequently
· Occasionally have difficulty finding words · Frequent pauses and substitutions when finding words
 · You are worried about your memory but your relatives are not · Your relatives are worried about your memory, but you are not aware of any problems

If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, the best advice is to ask your health professional. If you would like more information about support in your area, tips for coping with normal age-related memory difficulties and ongoing research, please visit www.alzheimerer.ca.

Decoding the Bread Aisle

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The bread aisle at your local grocery store is a very confusing place. Between all of the choices including whole grain, enriched, ancient grains etc… how do you know what to choose? I am decoding the bread aisle to hopefully help you make choices best for your health.

White or Enriched Bread:

The main ingredient in enriched bread is refined, white flour. To produce white flour, manufacturers remove the outer coating — also known as the bran — and the germ of the kernel. The inside of the kernel is then ground into fine flour. Bread manufacturers replace many of the nutrients lost during milling when preparing the dough for enriched bread so that it contains the same nutrients as those in whole-wheat bread, but they do not replace the fiber lost during milling.

Sourdough:

Sourdough is a better choice than white/enriched bread as it has a lower glycemic index meaning that it doesn’t spike blood sugar as dramatically. Sourdough bread contains the bacteria Lactobacillus in a higher proportion to yeast than do other breads. More Lactobacillus means higher production of lactic acid, which means easier digestion.

Whole Wheat/Whole Grain:

Both are good choices. The word “whole” is what you want to look for on the label. It means the bread was made using the entire kernel, which offers the most nutritional value. Whole wheat means that the bread is made from the entire wheat kernel. Whole grain means that the bread can be made of any whole-grain kernel. That grain may be wheat or it could be another grain like spelt, oats, or barley. The bread might even be made using a mixture of different whole grains.

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.

Don’t be confused by “100 percent wheat”—that only means it’s completely made of wheat, but not necessarily unprocessed.

Multigrain:

Multigrain sounds super healthy, but this word alone (without the word “whole” attached) can be misleading. If you don’t see the word “whole” on the package, it means the bread might not be made from the entire kernel. Something can be multigrain and still be processed, bleached, or refined in a way that removes any real nutritional value.

If you’re not sure, check the ingredient list to see if the first ingredient is a whole grain and ensure there are more than 3 grams or more of fiber per serving.

Flax:

The flax seed is a nutrient powerhouse. It’s technically not a grain but has similar vitamin and minerals to grains but has far superior amounts of fiber, antioxidants, and Omega-3 fatty acids than do grains.

Its combination of healthy fat and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss and maintenance — many dieters have found that flax seed has been a key to keeping them feeling satisfied.

Ancient Grains:

Ancient grain crops come from seeds that have been around for thousands of years and as such are free of hybridization and GMO manipulation.

Ancient grains include amaranth, buckwheat, kamut, millet, quinoa, spelt and more. Benefits of some of these include more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium that wheat. In addition, quinoa is gluten free and amaranth is a complete form of vegetable protein.

 

Still confused?  To simplify this list, choose whole grain whenever possible. Regardless of flax, ancient or wheat, “whole” is what will do your body best.  You can go a step further by determining what benefits of each is what your own body needs.

Drink More Water!

water

Drink more water. We hear it all the time. I think by now we all know that drinking lots of water is good for you. But why? I’ve narrowed it down to 8 solid reasons why you need to drink up!

Balance of Body Fluids. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.

Kidney function. Kidneys process nearly 200 litres of blood daily. Their job is to clear out waste and transport urine to the bladder. To ensure that they operate at maximum capacity, they need enough fluids – like water!

Bowel Function. When you don’t get enough fluid, the colon pulls water from stools to maintain hydration – resulting in constipation.

Weight loss. The reasons for this are two-fold: one is that substituting water for higher calorie beverages can cut calories. The second is that drinking lots of water help you to feel full.

Improved workouts: When your muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired more quickly. So drinking water will provide your body with extra energy to make more out of your time at the gym.

Clearer skin. Drinking water can flush out the toxins in the body that can cause the skin to inflame resulting in clogged pores and acne.

Stay alert. One of the most common symptoms of dehydration is tiredness.

Natural Headache Remedy – Drinking water helps to relieve and prevent headaches which are commonly caused by dehydration.

If you have a hard time getting enough water in your daily routine, try a few of these tricks:

  • Buy a water bottle. Have this bottle and fill it up in the morning. Set goals as to how many bottles to drink each day. Don’t worry about feeling water-logged or bloated. You will be surprised to see how quickly your body adjusts to your body’s new hydration.
  • Keep your water bottle at your desk. You are more likely to drink water if it is right there – easily accessible and ready to drink.
  • Drink what you like. If you aren’t a fan of “plain old” water, try adding either a sugar-free water-flavouring or lemon. An added bonus is that the lemon also flushes out toxins and improves your immune system.

So if you haven’t been convinced by this blog to drink more water, I have one more thing to add…drinking water is free!  (the good ‘ole fashioned “from the tap” variety at least!) Don’t we all like free stuff?  Cheers!

 

 

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!

De-stress Advice for Parents

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So the kids are back in school. Mothers and fathers are breathing a sigh of relief while at the same time undergoing associated stress. There are a slew of things to take care of during the school year: organizing and packing lunches, driving and picking up, homework monitoring and after-school program maintenance and scheduling.

Part of the stress on parents is spurred by the much-needed, but often busy, after school programs. Not only is it a question of what activities to have your children sign up for but also the cost, the driving, planning dinners around it, carpools, equipment, uniforms etc…

So what do parents do to stay calm and level-headed?

My suggestion is to enroll yourself in an activity. I believe that this is possible for anyone. Although easier for some more than others, it is hugely important for parents to take time for themselves in order to relax and recharge for the following reasons:

1 – Improve or maintain health good health: registering in a leisure activity can include a form of physical fitness – whether it is going to the gym, signing up for a kickboxing class or a masters swim team, they all will benefit you in some way physically – as a part of a healthy lifestyle

2 – Reduce stress: whether it is a spin class, cooking class or a yoga class, there are aspects of any of these activities that help to reduce stress. Even stepping away from the house and the kids and doing something on your own, for YOU, helps to slow your breathing and gain perspective. Yoga has meditative qualities and breathing exercises that make you stop to focus on yourself.

3 – Lead by example: children learn how to relax and spend leisure time by watching their parents. Do you read? Do you have a hobby? Do you exercise? Do you know how to relax? Do you take time for yourself? By doing these things teaches children the importance of balance and making “you” a priority.

4 – Perspective: I know that when I return from a walk or a yoga class, I am much more “level-headed” than before the activity began. These activities force one to step away from the current, sometimes crazy, situation and just breathe. Simply breathing and not “thinking” per se allows you to relax, focus and gain perspective. Is the puzzle spread over the flood a tragedy? Is the sink full of dishes going to be the end of the world? If the floor doesn’t get vacuumed today will anyone be worse off in life?

So my advice to parents during “back to school” time is to get “back to you”. Put yourself on the ever growing “to-do” list. Ask for help when you need it. Make yourself a priority. Do not feel guilty or make excuses why you can’t. You and your family will be better off for it.