Your Healthy Liver and Why It is SO Important

Your liver. You need it to live…but do you know why? The main purpose of your liver is to clean your blood, digest your food and rid your body of toxic substances. We want our liver to get rid of things as quickly as possible, but how quickly that happens can largely depend on your lifestyle choices.

Here is how your liver works: Raise your arm and have your palm facing you. From your elbow to your palm is the ‘stuff’ your body wants to get rid of, and is the vessel to take it to your liver. Your liver is your palm of your hand. Ideally, your liver will detoxify the waste and excrete it out your fingers. But sometimes there are blockages in your liver that stop things from leaving so quickly. And when the liver can’t get rid of things quickly enough and is being overworked, it will slow down and recycle things into the blood. The items that are recycled into the blood are estrogen and cholesterol. If this is happening often or for a long period of time, hormone imbalance and high blood pressure can be the result.

A big sign about how well your liver is working is through a fatty liver test with your doctor. If you liver enzymes are high. Elevated liver enzymes often indicate inflammation or damage to cells in the liver.

Another important thing to keep note of is your bowel movements. You should be having well formed, easy to pass bowel movements one to two times per day.

Signs that you liver might need some extra love include: fluid retention, skin breakouts, sore/red/stingy eyes, waking up between 2am – 4am and being extra hot, lumpy breasts that swell around your period, PMS, always being really hungry, not hungry for breakfast and always craving coffee in the morning, digestive issues, increased body fat and cellulite in ‘new’ places, poor energy, more short tempered than usual.

Now that we understand the basics of the liver, what can you do to make it function optimally for your body? Here are a few things that can negatively affect your liver:

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Over-the-counter medications
  • Over prescribed medications
  • Pesticides
  • Cosmetics
  • Trans Fats
  • Refined sugar
  • Viruses
  • Cholesterol
  • Estrogen

From a nutritional point of view, there are lots of things we can add to our diet to help. Nutrient dense food is really important for liver health. Salmons, berries, beets, spinach and quinoa just to name a few. Here is a list of specific foods we should be adding to our days for optimal liver health:

  • Beets
  • Beetroot juice
  • Phytoestrogens like flaxseed and whole organic soy
  • Dandelion tea
  • Nettle tea
  • Lemon
  • Coffee (in balance)
  • Grapefruit
  • Blueberries
  • Cranberries
  • Grapes
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Fatty fish such as salmon
  • Olive oil
  • Nuts
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Supplements to include:
    • Chlorella
    • Vitamin E
    • Milk thistle supplement

So there you have it. Like with any nutrition changes you are taking on, it is always a good idea to speak with your doctor or health care practitioner to ensure it is right for you!

Interested in learning more? Check out some of my nutrition programs here!

 

What’s Your Health IQ?

You may not a be health expert, but you do have some idea about what “healthy” is, right? Or do you? Health information can be tricky – there are so many conflicting opinions, new information shared, “diets” or ways of eating, recommendations from government and other professionals or experts. How do you know what is right and what is just smoke? This True or False Quiz will have you answer some basic questions about health. Not trends or specific personalized recommendations but general things about health that everyone should know.

1) Vegans tend to be deficient in protein and iron as they do not consume any animal products.
2) Carbs, like rice and potatoes, make you fat.
3) Everyone should take a multivitamin.
4) Eating potatoes are healthy – regardless of how they are cooked.
5) Stress can stop you from losing weight.
6) Red wine is healthy.
7) Hormones are only important as they relate to women and menopause.
8) Adults need 6 hours of sleep per night to be healthy.
9) Sugar is sugar. It is all the same.
10) Meditation is a complicated practice that requires a minimum of 60 minutes per day to be effective as a way to reduce stress.
11) If you have been overweight and sedentary your whole life, getting healthy now will not improve your longevity.
12) Drinking water and staying hydrated is only good for your skin and weight loss.

Here are the answers!

1) FALSE: Although arguable more difficult or inconvenient for those following a vegan diet, vegans have to be vigilant in ensuring they choose foods rich in iron and protein such as dried beans and legumes, dark green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, nuts and seeds, and wholegrain cereals and breads. The key is to ensure there is some present at every meal and snack.

2) FALSE: This has been an ongoing misconception for years. Carbohydrates are actually one of the three main building blocks (macronutrients) that make up all food. Protein and fat are the other two. These macronutrients are essential for the body to function. What is important when you are choosing carbohydrates is what nutrients they have in them – to ensure they are providing the most benefit to yours body.

3) TRUE and FALSE – This one is tricky. It mostly depends on what your diet is like. If you are able to get all of the necessary vitamins and minerals your body needs through food, then you probably don’t need one. However, most people tend not to be as “perfect” in their food intake – let alone have the time to cook all of that food – necessary to check off all of the vitamins and minerals on a daily checklist.

4) FALSE: This one should be easy to answer. HOW food is cooked or prepared is just as important as the type of food you eat. For example, with potatoes, a baked potato (without all of the “fixins” like butter, sour cream, bacon) is much healthier than French fries which are deep-fried and full of saturated fat and sodium.

5) TRUE: Stress can lead to unhealthy stressed induced behaviors such as overeating, exercising less, emotional eating and sleeping less. When our bodies are in chronic stress response, meaning we are stressed about 70% of the time, our cortisol levels are in a constant heightened state. When this happens, are cells are inflamed leading to chronic inflammation. Our body holds onto things, like fat cells, when we are chronically stressed and chronically inflamed. This makes it next to impossible to lose weight when we are chronically stressed out.

6) TRUE: YES! (thank goodness given the past year!) Research suggests that drinking an occasional glass of red wine is good for you. It provides antioxidants, may promote longevity, and can help protect against heart disease and harmful inflammation, among other benefits. Just remember though that this is limited to red wine (not all alcohol) and a glass of wine (5 oz) – not half or full bottle – per day!

7) FALSE: Hormones are so much more that something teenagers are full of and menopausal women wish didn’t exist (ha ha!). Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They travel in your bloodstream to tissues and organs to help them do their work. They affect growth and development, metabolism, sexual function and mood. When they are out of balance, they can lead to weak bones, diabetes, weight gain and a list of other problems.

8) FALSE: Sleep is SO important to be healthy. It is recommended that adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. Babies, young children, and teens need even more sleep to enable their growth and development. People over 65 should also get 7 to 8 hours per night.

9) FALSE: The biggest different between sugars are “natural sugar” – those found in foods such as fruits and veggies and “added sugar” – those that are added to a food during the manufacturing or cooking process. Natural sugars have fewer calories and less sodium with a higher water and nutrient content than added sugars. Added sugar on the other hand, does not contain protein or fiber, which causes your body to digest them even faster and spike your blood glucose levels which are linked to major health issues.

10) FALSE: A huge stress reducer, meditation is often misunderstood. Meditating doesn’t mean you have to be a hippie or a yogi or a zen master! In fact, the process of meditating is straightforward and easy: simply sit and practice. You can do it anywhere and it can be as quick as 5 minutes. There are many apps such as ‘Calm’ and videos on YouTube that can help you get started. You will be glad you did!

11) FALSE: Don’t let your past define you. It is never too late to make a change to be healthy. Anytime is the best time to make YOU a priority and put your health at the forefront. Be brave. Ask for help. You got this!

12) FALSE: Although drinking plenty of water can help improve skin appearance and weight loss, it does so much more than that. Your body depends on water to survive. Every cell, tissue and organ in your body needs water to work. It is essential to the healthy function of every system in your body, including your heart, brain, and muscles.

 

So? How did you do? If you got all answers correct – amazing! You are well aware of what your body needs for optimum health. If you didn’t get all correct but got most – good job! Keep educating yourself on what you can do to take your health to the next level. If you didn’t answer any correctly or just a few – don’t worry!! The fact that you took this quiz is evidence that you are aware of your own health – which is better than most people. Now you just need to learn more and perhaps get some additional help to get you where you want to go.

No matter where you scored on this quiz, remember no one is perfect. Everyone is at a different stage in their health journey. Congratulations on taking steps like doing this quiz, reading our blog and newsletter and choosing YOU!

If you ever need some more personalized, detailed assistance in your nutrition and healthy lifestyle, contact Andrea at Best You Nutrition.

Keeping Sport Safe – Safe Sport Speaker Series

The Canadian Sport Centre Manitoba and FIT Women and Girls are proud to bring together speakers from across Canada for the Keeping Sport Safe – Safe Sport Speaker Series. From May 10 – 20, 2021 you will hear from experts across the country on the issues facing sport in Canada with respect to Safe Sport initiatives. As part of sport administrators and coaches responsibilities for training with respect to Safe Sport in our great country, we have put together the following virtual Speaker Series:

TOPICS & DATES:

UNDERSTANDING THE UNIVERSAL CODE OF CONDUCT TO PREVENT AND ADDRESS MALTREATMENT IN SPORT
What is the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport (UCCMS)? What is its purpose? How will it affect you in your role in sport? In this session you will learn the answers to these questions and much more. It will include reviewing and understanding difficult grey areas such as “what is illegal vs. legal but harmful?” Whether you have never heard of the UCC before or are well-versed, this session will be informative and thought provoking.

May 10, 2021 @ 7PM CST

Presented by: TBA

REPORTING
Reporting inappropriate activity is a very sensitive and complex action that requires many processes to be in place. This session will cover questions such as who to report to? What records to keep? What and when to report? Who to disclose to? Where should reports be kept? Come away from this session with tactical steps and best practices to ensure your organization is well prepared in the event of incident reporting. Not only to protect your organization but also to support the athlete or coach reporting.

May 11 @ 12PM CST

Presented by: TBA

BOARD ROLES
This session takes a look at the impact of Safe Sport on Boards. What is the Board’s responsibility? In reporting issues? In policy? What training does your Board need around Safe Sport? What training does your staff need? Come away with this session with a checklist of things you and your organization can do to fall in line with best practices for Safe Sport.

May 12 @ 7PM CST

Presented by: TBA

HIRING PRACTICES
Keeping sport safe requires much more than a clear criminal record check. In this session, you will learn key steps and measures to put in place when looking to hire. From the job description, posting location, hiring committee and screening interview questions, you will be given the tools to equip you to hire the best candidate who will be great fit for your organization.

May 13 @ 12PM CST

Presented by: TBA

TECHNOLOGY & SOCIAL MEDIA
This session delves into the latest trends in dangers of social media and technology. From social media to chat rooms, texts and email, learn what is appropriate, what is not and what may seem like grey areas. Come away with tactical measures to put in place in order to protect yourself as a coach, your athletes and your organization. Also learn how to navigate “healthy touch” and how to use technology and social media as a catalyst to build positive and healthy coach-athlete relationships.

May 17 @ 12PM CST

Presented by: Winnipeg Police Services

GREY AREA BEHAVIOURS
Sometimes things may not be as clearly laid out as “appropriate” or “inappropriate” when it comes to safe sport. These “grey area” behaviours and circumstances are the ones with which we need the most help to navigate through. Using concrete examples and case studies, learn how to deal with these situations as a coach, athlete, parent and organization.

May 18 @ 7pm CST

Presented by: TBA

DIVERSITY, EQUITY & INCLUSION
Most sport organizations would say that they support diversity, equality and inclusion. However, is it just words? Learn what practical actions and steps you can take to be seen as an organization that welcomes and wants all people. That having a diverse and inclusive sport isn’t just about having a variety of people from different backgrounds, cultures and lifestyles for the sake of it. Believing that diversity and inclusion are what will enhance and grow the organization. Learn what you can do to make your sport or club more welcoming to different groups, not only for athletes and parents but for Board members and staff as well. Leave with a checklist to see where your organization is in terms of DEI and what you can do to improve it.

May 19 @ 12pm CST

Presented by: TBA

SAFE SPORT BEYOND POLICY
Once you have all of your boxes checked off and best practices in place, what else can you do to promote Safe Sport? What type of culture do you need to ensure a safe sport environment? How do you create this culture? How do we get more people to understand what the issues are that face sport in this arena and why is it important? As a parent, what should you look for when choosing a sport or activity for your child? What can administrators and coaches do to discourage “predators” from seeking out their sport/organization? This session tackles these questions and you will feel empowered with the knowledge to make changes to ensure sport is safe for all.

May 20 @ 7PM CST

Presented by: Jeff Powell & Sandi Kirby

All sessions for the Keeping Sport Safe – Safe Sport Speaker Series will be held virtually through Zoom. By attending 3 session, you are eligible to receive 3 NCCP points.

Each session will be approximately 45 minutes in length, followed by a Zoom question and answer and discussion period for approximately 20 – 30 minutes with the speaker and those attending through Zoom.

For ticket prices and to register, please click here!

Three Key Tips to a Healthy YOU

Nutrition is perhaps the only science that can have conflicting information about the same topic from source to source. It is constantly evolving and changing. One year everyone is swearing off eggs, the next they’re good for you. Remember when margarine was good for you?! Wow. There’s a new fad diet out every year that promises to be ‘the one’. There seems to be a new shake, pill or wrap every few months that has huge promises and the only consistent thing about them is that they over promise and under deliver every single time. It’s hard to navigate, know what is what, and not totally just throw your hands up in the air and say F it to all of it.

But hey, I’m here to give you some light at the end of the nutrition dark tunnel. Here’s the thing – there isn’t a quick fix. It’s never going to happen that way, so please stop trying to find it. #SorryNotSorry. It takes time to put the weight on, have unhealthy habits that create issues in your body, and for your energy to be depleted. In turn, it takes time to reverse these not-so-great things and get your weight where you want it, your health in check and your energy on high drive.

All that said, there is so much information out there, where do you even start? What should you be concentrating on when it comes to health? There are three main areas that I stress with all of my nutrition clients:

Digestive Health

Immunity Health

Anti-inflammatory Health

You digestive system is key to health and longevity. It is how your system brings in nutrients to your body, delivers them to your cells and organs, and ensures you are nourished from head to toe. If it is not working in tip top shape, you will experience a host of issues including gas, bloating, constipation, upset stomach, diarrhea, feeling full and sluggish after eating, etc. Long term, this can result in chronic pain and disease. A healthy digestive system has you feeling light, pain free and a non-bloated or a flat(ish) stomach.

There is much you can do to improve your digestive health, but overall, my top three tips are:

  1. Remove – Pay attention to your body. Notice what foods are causing you digestive issues and remove those items. An elimination diet to determine this is something I always recommend to clients when working on nutrition habits.
  2. Replace – replace those items you have removed from your diet with foods that are high in probiotics and prebiotics. Supplementing with a good quality probiotic and digestive enzymes is also really important.
  3. Repair – it’s all about repairing your gut health. With the right foods and supplements specific to you and your system, you are on your way to a clean and productive digestive system.

Immunity health is a total buzz topic since Covid-19. To ensure a strong immune system, there is much you can do from a nutrition and lifestyle perspective. Staying active, having positive relationships, and getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, are all great habits for your immune system. From a nutrition stand point, the same plan from above to Remove, Replace and Repair works here as well. I would also add to increase foods that are high in glutamine (think cabbage, beets, spinach) and add an ounce of raw organic apple cider vinegar to your morning water.

Lastly, eating an anti-inflammatory, also known as the Mediterranean Diet, is something I can’t stop talking about. Chronic, sustained inflammation is linked to an increased risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, depression, anxiety, cancer and obesity. An anti-inflammatory diet can not only help lower your risk to these chronic diseases, but can also help with improvement of symptoms of arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, lupus, and other autoimmune disorders. And the great thing? It is a delicious way to eat. Interestingly, the foods you eat can significantly affect inflammation in your body.

The key elements eating this way are:

  1. 6 – 8 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  2. Replace animal protein with plant protein, beans and lentils, whole organic soy products every day.
  3. Increase your good fats every day, such as coconut or olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  4. Eat fish 2 – 6 times per week.
  5. A little bit of dark chocolate and red wine are great too!

The thing that I love to stress when working with nutrition clients is that it’s not about sacrificing all the things that you love nor restricting yourself when it comes to nutrition. It’s really about finding the foods that work best for your body and eating more of those. You don’t need to count every morsel of food, measure things constantly or use an app to simply have a meal. Eating nutrient dense food is key. Drinking lots of water is key. Eating foods that make you feel good is key. And having a sense of joy when you cook and eat is key. If you want to see long-term results in your health, it is imperative to understand what foods are best for you – the individual. What works for me might not work for you, so a cookie cutter approach or diet fad simply won’t work.

My advice? Pay attention to your body. Know what works and what doesn’t for you physical and mental health when it comes to food. And when you’re ready, talk to an expert about getting a plan that will get you and keep you on the right track.

If you’re interested in learning more about my nutrition programs, check out some of my current programs here!  Would love to help you get started on your journey to a healthier you.

Will Amateur Sports Recover After COVID?

Simply put, if a sport or activity was facing participation issues before the pandemic hit, recovering registration numbers will be a slow process. And with only 38% of girls participating in sport, female sports is going to be a slow comeback.

Currently, both in-school and after school sports are on hold in our province. Complete seasons have been cancelled in almost every sport, and could potentially face this for a second round in 2021. Kids are not only missing out on the exercise, fun and comradery that sports brings, but the high school level athlete is potentially missing out on scouting opportunities and scholarships for Fall 2021.

It has been said ‘we’re all in the same boat’ when talking about Covid. We’re perhaps in the same storm, but definitely not in the same boat. Same goes for sports. From a recreational and club level standpoint, sport has seen a decline of up to 97% in participation and membership in some sports. The physical and mental health benefits from sport to Canadian society cannot ever be underestimated.

Let’s look at Swimming for example. According to Swimming Canada, “With restricted access to pools, approximately only 30 per cent of all swimming clubs have reached their 2019-20 registration numbers. Slightly more than half the clubs have seen at least 75 per cent of their membership return. Swimming Canada membership numbers are at just under half of what is normally seen in October of each season (September and October are key months to swimming members returning to the sport).”

With 282,000 individual training sessions completed, there has not been any recorded or reported transmissions at a club or university swimming training session.

Recreational, club and university swimming are often likened to a feeder system for high-performance programming in sports. The younger swimmers are the future of the sport – they are the future Olympians and Paralympians for our country. If we miss two years of recreational sport now, does a 2024 or 2028 Olympic hopeful team exist? This is a critical issue for the future of sport and could impact Canada as a nation.

As we all know, the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed to Summer 2021. 2016 saw one of the most successful Olympics for the sport of Swimming our country has ever seen. Penny Oleksiak broke the Canadian record for most medals (4) won by a single Canadian athlete in any Summer Olympic Games and was the youngest ever Canadian gold medalist. The six medals won by Team Canada in swimming was the most since the 1984 Olympics. The sport was on a high…and for the 2021 Team Canada hopefuls, there is much in question about what will happen for not only the future of the sport, but for their own road to the Olympics.

Winnipeg’s own Kelsey Wog is currently ranked in the top two for swimming in Canada. Her races, 200 Breaststroke and 200 Individual Medley, have the chance of landing her a spot on the Canadian Olympic Team this Spring. She has been dreaming about this moment since 2016. For any high-performance athlete in any year, the dedication and work ethic needed to succeed is off the charts. During a world-wide pandemic, things have taken on a new set of issues.

“All the uncertainty is the most difficult thing, not being able to know if I will have access to a pool or training facility tomorrow.  It has also been tough on (all) athletes because Olympic years’ are special and everyone puts everything into them, and now athletes are needing to put everything into this year again, yet it may not be possible to do because of Covid restrictions, so that is stressful and mentally draining.”

While continuing to train when she can, Wog has managed to trust the process and continue to strive towards her Team Canada goals. But it isn’t always easy.

“Having confidence and believing that you can do it while trusting the process, knowing you have given it your best effort and that you are prepared.  I have really struggled with confidence and believing in myself that I can do it, and this is something that I have worked on.  For me to me believe in myself, I needed to be confident in the work I had put into training, and trust that I have done everything that I possibly could to be ready for the race,” says Wog.

Wog is a huge proponent for girls in sport, and wants to see every young girl try the sports that excite them. Her support network, including her coaching team, family and friends, has been there for her every step of the way, which has helped her navigate this strange time as an athlete. The encouragement from her parents has been, what she feels, key to her success.

While there isn’t an easy answer as to how sport is to get through this time in history, it is important for us to understand that missing sports is a big issue for our country right now. We miss cheering on our Jets, watching the road to the Olympics for some of our hometown favorites, cheering our daughters on at their volleyball games. It is part of our culture and something that brings us together as a community. We need to ensure that we put in a valiant effort for the return to sport as a province and as a country, and do our best to keep ourselves and our kids active so the return to sport won’t be a question of if, but rather when.

5 Steps to Improve Your Digestive System and Strengthen Your Immunity

I must admit, as an Integrative Nutrition Coach, two things that I am a smidge obsessed with are digestive health and immunity health. The greatest part is that they totally go hand in hand. The reason is because 70% of our immune system is found IN our digestive system. In turn, if you want a stronger immune system, (and really, who doesn’t?) the key can be found in your gut.

Digestive health is something I am super passionate about working on with my nutrition clients. It affects the way we feel physically – think bloating, gas, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea; it affects the way we are feeling emotionally – anxiety, depression and mental health are all connected to our gut health; it affects our energy levels – always feeling tired, sluggish, low energy or just not in the mood for life. If these are issues that you are dealing with, I am hosting a Virtual Digestive Health Workshop and would love for you to join. See here for more info! 

When the microbiome in our gut is balanced with good bacteria, it boosts immunity, prevents disease, and supports emotional well-being. There is such a strong connection with our digestive health and our brain, including overall emotional and mental health. In this week’s blog I wanted to give you my five best actionable tips to get your digestive system on track, and help you on your way to a healthier life!

  1. Take a good quality probiotic. This will provide good bacteria to your tummy setting you up for success. Taken first thing in the morning with water on an empty stomach is what I would suggest. Probiotics can be taken by babies, kids, adults and seniors and I would encourage probiotics to be the taken at all ages and stages of life. My favorite? Pearls Acidophilus by Nature’s Way.
  2. Increase your intake of probiotic and prebiotic foods. I am a huge fan of the concept of ‘crowding out’ when it comes to our nutrition. By this I mean not thinking of all the things that you CAN’T have, but rather all the amazing foods you can add in. In turn, the good food fills your plate and your day and there is no room left for the not-so-good stuff. You crowd it out! For probiotic, think kimchi, yogurt, quinoa, kombucha and artichokes…lots of that ‘pickled’ kinda vibe foods. When it comes to prebiotics, we’re loading up on fiber, fruit and veggies. Some of the best are onions, garlic, bananas and blueberries.
  3. Take Digestive Enzymes. In the beginning, you will want to take one of these before every meal, but once your digestive enzymes are all caught up and working for you, you’ll only need them once in a while. Before a heavy meal or before you eat something you usually don’t – like a dinner out or something off the beaten path of what you usually eat.
  4. Drink up the Apple Cider Vinegar – this is one of my favorite items to really help with your digestive system. While it is definitely a flavour to get used to, diluted raw organic apple cider vinegar will have your tummy and your immune system happy as a clam. A little goes a long way, so about an ounce diluted in water first thing in the morning will really help you out.
  5. Increase your intake of foods with Glutamine. These foods include beets (which by the way, are pretty much the Earth’s gift to humans in my books!), spinach, cabbage and parsley.

You may notice I didn’t talk about what to REMOVE from your nutrition plate to help with your digestive system. There are a few obvious ones such as sugar, refined carbohydrates, and soda. But there might be quite a few other foods that you may need to remove to improve your digestion. We are all bio-individuals, meaning what works for me might not work for you. For example, eating Greek yogurt might be great for my digestive system, but wreak havoc on yours. With so much in nutrition we have to do what works and feels best to us as individuals.

Remember, if you want to learn more about getting your digestive system on your side with the help of food, join me at my upcoming virtual Digestive Health Workshop! 

Girls & Women in Sport Virtual Series

We are thrilled to announce that we are working with the Canadian Sport Centre of Manitoba for an exciting five-part Virtual Speaker Series dedicated to Girls and Women in Sport in Canada from November 3 – 19, 2020.

Sponsored by Red River Co-op, we have brought together some of the leading experts to help participants increase their knowledge with a variety of subject areas as they relate to girls and women in sport in our great country.

Attending all five sessions will also provide professional development points for coaches and administrators in Canada. This Virtual Series will provide excellent information and knowledge on the following topics for coaches, administrators, parents, physical education teachers, government and private business interested in the world of girls and women in sport:

  • Keeping Girls in Sport
  • Coaching the Female Athlete
  • Careers in Sport
  • Why Girls Participate
  • Mental Health

SCHEDULE

Date & Time Event Speakers
November 3 @ 12:00pm CST Keeping Girls in Sport Addie Miles
November 10 @ 12:00pm CST Coaching the Female Athlete TBC
November 12 @ 12:00pm CST Careers in Sport Leah Hextall
Venla Hovi
November 17 @ 12:00 CST Why Girls Participate? Allison Sandmeyer-Graves
Chandra Crawford
Gabriela Estrada
November 19 @ 12:00 CST Mental Health Leah Ferguson
Dr. Adrienne Leslie-Toogood

To register, head over the the Canadian Sport Centre website. This incredible Series is only $75 for all five sessions, or $20 per session if you prefer to do fewer sessions. If you are a coach, please include your NCCP number so you can receive professional development points.

See you there!

Hormone Imbalance in Women

Our hormones…when they are in balance we can feel energized, healthy and full of life. When they are off, it can feel like hell. And for women, our hormone balancing act starts when we hit puberty and really keeps coming at us until after menopause. And unfortunately, it is something that we never really talk about, never learn about and don’t discuss with our doctors or health practitioners until we are experiencing intense symptoms. But we’re going to change all that with this week’s blog dedicated to hormone imbalance in women.

What are the symptoms of hormone imbalance?

Hormones play a very important role in our overall health. Depending on which hormones are not in balance or not working properly, your symptoms can be drastically different. For women, the most common hormonal imbalance is PCOS – Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and affects one in every 10 women in ‘childbearing age’. That said, your normal hormonal cycle naturally changes during puberty, pregnancy, breastfeeding and menopause. And if you are coming into or going through menopause right now, your hormonal balance is a key part to your daily life.

According to Healthline.com, symptoms of a hormonal imbalance specific to women include: heavy or irregular periods, including missed periods, stopped period, or frequent period

  • acne on the face, chest, or upper back
  • thinning hair, hair loss or excessive hair on the face, chin, or other parts of the body
  • weight gain or trouble losing weight
  • darkening of skin, especially along neck creases, in the groin, and underneath breasts
  • skin tags
  • vaginal dryness and/or vaginal atrophy
  • pain during sex
  • night sweats
  • fatigue
  • increased sensitivity to cold or heat
  • constipation or more frequent bowel movements
  • dry skin and/or puffy face
  • unexplained weight loss (sometimes sudden)
  • increased or decreased heart rate
  • frequent urination and increased thirst
  • muscle aches, tenderness, and stiffness and/or muscle weakness
  • pain, stiffness, or swelling in your joints
  • increased hunger
  • depression
  • decreased sex drive
  • nervousness, anxiety, or irritability

That’s a serious list. But if you can relate to even just a few of these symptoms, it might be time to consider how your nutrition is affecting your hormone balance. As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, this is one of my fields of concentration. And I would love to help you! Workshops and free health consultations are coming up…email me at andrea@fitcommunications.ca for more info. But let’s first give you a few great tips on how nutrition can help.

What does nutrition have to do with it? How can nutrition help?

When we have cellular inflammation (which can be due to microbial invasion or diet here) our insulin levels tend to increase. What we need to do is avoid this inflammation and in turn, avoid insulin spikes. We do this by choosing foods to help balance our inflammation and hormones levels all out.

There are a few theories on what foods we can choose to help with hormone balancing, but all really have the same concepts in mind. For example, according to Barry Sears, lowering your excessive carb intake is key. You plate should be 1/3 low fat protein and 2/3 colorful fruits and vegetables. Adding in good fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds and olive oil is also key. He also suggests eating three meals per day, 5 hours apart, and including supplementing with Omega-3 fish oil and polyphenols (this is what makes fruits and veggies so colorful!)

Next, we have to talk about sugar. According to Sarah Wilson, sugar is what makes us fat while adding appetite and hormone havoc to our bodies. According to Wilson, the maximum daily sugar intake should be 6 – 9 teaspoons per day. But the average person eats 23!! This excess sugar intake can cause a host of issues from diabetes to cardiovascular disease to increased inflammation and everything in between. It really is the sweet and silent killer of our generation.

What about menstrual wellness? Can the way we eat affect our periods and pre-menopausal symptoms?

In short, YES. Eating a low-glycemic diet is important, ensuring our liver is working optimally through detoxification. By this, I mean eating an abundance of cruciferous veggies (think broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, bok choy), increasing our intake of phytoestrogens like whole organic soy and flaxseed, and beets seriously becoming your new best friend. We also want to ensure we keep our lifestyle health in check with both stress reduction for 15 minutes per day (walk outside, meditate, yoga, stretch!) and regular exercise.

As an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, helping women through their hormone imbalances and figuring out what foods can help and which ones can hinder is an integral part of what I love to do. Getting on the road to health and happiness by using food as medicine is key. For more information, feel free to contact me anytime at andrea@fitcommunications.ca

 

 

 

Binge Eating Disorder

Eating disorders is a near and dear subject to my heart. As a woman who is always doing my best to cheer women on, how could it not be something that is? In Canada, approximately one million women have an eating disorder, and it is one of the leading causes of mental health issues resulting in premature death in our country. It affects girls and women of all ages. Did you know that 81% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat? And 51% of 9 and 10-year-old girls feel better about themselves if they are on a diet.

Recently, through my education at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York, I listened to a lecture by Amy Pershing, the Clinical Director at the Center for Eating Disorders and Founding Director of “Bodywise,” a comprehensive treatment program for binge eating disorder (BED). Binge Eating Disorder, or BED, is an eating disorder that I had personally never heard of before, and was shocked to find out that it is the most common eating disorder in North America by 5 times. This week’s blog is to share some of the knowledge I learned as it may be helpful to our readers both personally or for someone they love.

Those with Binge Eating Disorder are often viewed by outsiders as people with low self-esteem, a lack of willpower, depressed and that it is not a ‘real’ eating disorder. What is important to remember here is that shame does not create sustainable change. Shaming anyone into doing or changing anything simply does not work. In fact, it typically does the absolute opposite.

Approximately 30% of those diagnosed with BED are NOT overweight nor obese. I find this a really interesting point, as many would assume binge eaters would definitely overweight. But that is not the case. I feel it is important for our readers to know should they worry someone in their life might be dealing with this disorder. But what DOES it mean to have BED?

In a nutshell, there is a lack of control and ability to stop the food eating binge, and tremendous amounts of guilt and shame go along with the binge. To be diagnosed with BED, three of the following must also be happening:

  1. Eating more rapidly than normal
  2. Eating until uncomfortably full
  3. Eating large amounts of food when not hungry
  4. Secretive eating
  5. Feeling disgusting, depressed or guilty after a binge

The above actions must happen one or more times per week for three months, and is not associated with bulimia nor anorexia. This is an eating disorder in and of itself.

Other than the obvious negative feelings about oneself that comes with BED, there are also numerous health issues that can also happen. These include but are not limited to:

  • PCOS – Polycystic OvarySyndrome
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Over production of cortisol (‘stress hormone’)
  • Sleep apnea
  • Asthma
  • Stress
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Sleep deprivation

People who are suffering from Binge Eating Disorder see food in a different way, meaning they have a relationship with food that is not necessarily healthy. Often food is used for emotional regulation, self-punishment, distraction, boundary setting, soothing, rebellion, or using food subconsciously.

There are many reasons why BED can happen, and what I feel is really important to know is that it can happen to people of all ages and lifestyles. Young kids who are forced to ‘grow up quickly’ often use food as a sense of comfort and secretly eat to feel loved. Athletes after finishing a competition or are in ‘off season’ often binge eat as they are feeling the need to rebel or take control of food off the playing field or stage. People who restrict their food intake for what appears to be healthy reasons may binge weekly on a ‘cheat day’. All of these are examples of BED, and it is not simply ‘overeating once in a while’. It is an eating disorder associated with mental health that needs to be worked on with a professional.

A statement of assumption in the lecture that really stuck out to me was this:

            Thin is always better.

            Thin is always possible.

            Thin people are better people.

None of these three sentences are true. None of these three sentences have value. But they are seen as truth in our society all too often. Being thinner will not make all of your problems go away. And bullying someone based on their body size or weight is never okay. You never know what someone is dealing with behind closed doors, so I ask for you to move through your day with kindness and love, and know that it isn’t always sunshine and roses for everyone each day.

If you or someone you know may be affected by BED or any other eating disorder, please ask for help. Here is a great place to start:

COVID-19 – Anxiety in Kids

Our new normal of COVID has undoubtably affected everyone. As adults, we have lost jobs, moved work to home, or have become a front-line worker. Parents have become teachers or stay at home “working parents” a top of our already demanding work and life schedules. We have become hyper-sensitive to sterilization and cleanliness, we are wearing masks and keeping our distances. There is no doubt that these changes are creating anxiety within even the most chill of people. For those that were already experiencing anxiety, these changes are taking things to a whole new level and come with its own set of challenges.

Our children are not exempt from this increased anxiety. Think about it… our kids were ripped out of school, out of activities, away from their friends and even their normal routines. Now add on the threat of “the end of the world” and discussions about daily cases and death tolls. All of this is in a home where parents are stressed to the max with all of their own personal issues surrounding the pandemic. Even as the restrictions are lifted, it is met with its own set of stressors such as wearing masks, fear of touching anything and getting back to school – with people they haven’t seen in months. This is enough to make even the most laidback child a nervous wreck.

It is difficult enough for adults to recognize anxiety in themselves, let alone reach out for help. As such, children are at a much bigger disadvantage. They likely don’t even know what anxiety is, let alone how to ask for help or how to deal with their feelings. Even those kids that do reach out may not be received with an open-minded and supportive response. And those parents or caregivers that do want to help their children, may have no idea how.

So what can we do as parents? Well as a mother, I have done quite a bit of research on the subject and here is what I would suggest:

    • Have conversations with your kids and ask them how they are feeling about “all of this”. Listen and don’t undermine or write off their worries. “You don’t have to worry about that” and “you’ll be fine” is not necessarily going to work. Their fears may not be as irrational as you think. I mean, did you think we would be here six months ago?
    • Don’t talk about, or watch the news with your kids. Kids don’t need to know case numbers or death tolls. Nothing that they hear will help to protect them and it will likely only increase their worries.
    • Do confirm that it is perfectly normal for them to experience the feelings that they are having. They shouldn’t feel badly about how they feel. Confirm that they are always able to come talk to you about this (or anything!)
    • Don’t ignore that we are in a very strange environment. They know. DO tell them about all the steps you, your family and school are taking and as scary as all of the precautions are, that they are being done to keep them safe.
    • Introduce them to “Deep Breathing”. The sheer act of slowing down and consciously breathing is one of the easiest ways to relax and help gain perspective. Try either of these sites for some neat ideas that are made for kids. yoremikids.com and copingskillsforkids.com. The second one is a great resource for parents in dealing with COVID-19 specific anxiety. It gives ideas for plans and strategies to combat a variety of feelings.
    • Look for help. There are SO many free services and exercises available on line. One that I think is great is from Anxiety Canada. They have many things directly related to and for children and youth.
    • Finally, try to give yourself a break and be a good role model. Show your kids how to relax and how to positively deal with stress and anxiety. They will learn more from watching you than listening to you.

It is likely that most children, teens and adults alike will or have experienced some level of anxiety as it relates to our new situation and the pandemic. If you are thinking that this is perhaps something more serious that should be addressed, there are many resources available to help.  Here is a link provided by Rupertsland that is full of resources.

Remember, if you are reading this, you are showing that you love your kids and want what is best for them. That makes you a super parent so for doing that so go easy on yourself – you’re doing a great job!