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!

How to Live Your Healthiest Happiest Life

Something I have always had a huge fascination with is centenarians and longevity. What can we all do in our day to day living to live a longer, healthier and happier life. This Spring I started my Integrative & Holistic Health and Nutrition Coaching certification and I was over the moon excited when one of the guest lecturers was Dan Buettner. Dan is the person behind the ‘Blue Zones’ which not only focuses on longevity secrets in terms of what you as an individual can do, but also how you can transform your community to live longer and better.

Dan, in partnership with National Geographic, has researched communities around the globe that have the highest life expectancy. Blue Zones are places in the world where people not only live longer, but healthier as well than anywhere else on earth – without medication or disability. To date, five Blue Zones have been identified:

  • The Italian island of Sardinia
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Costa Rica’s isolated Nicoya Peninsula
  • Ikaria, an isolated Greek island

So, what’s the secret? This is the part that I love. The number ONE indicator of how long you will live is how long you THINK you will live. It’s your attitude. Your positive spirit. Your optimistic outlook. And a close second? Your DAILY fruit and vegetable consumption.

In fact, 80% of the factors that determine your longevity are to do with lifestyle and environment, with the remaining 20% via your genetics. There are a few common denominators that they have found across the board with the five Blue Zones:

  1. Natural Movement – moving every single day. Not a specific type of ‘workout’ but natural movement like walking and yard work.
  2. Daily Ritual of Prayer – this doesn’t have to be faith based. Meditation or naps to help reduce your stress can also work. I think the key here is that it reduced your stress. We know that stress can cause everything from weight gain to cancer, so ensuring we do what we can to keep it low is really important.
  3. A Strong Sense of Purpose – I love this one. Do you have a strong sense of purpose? Do you wake up every single day with a positive intention or goal? Are you tuned in on why you are here on earth? And pardon the cliché, but do you know what your why is?
  4. Eat Wisely – the interesting thing about the diets of the five Blue Zones is that there isn’t a magic item that everyone was eating. They were eating mindfully. They were eating until they were 80% full. They were eating plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.
  5. Plant-based Diet – the five communities that were studies all had this in common. Very little meat, lots of beans, nuts, fruit and veggies. They ate their biggest meal in the morning. They pre-plated their meals rather than family-style, which had them eating less.
  6. Connection – while we can have the healthiest food on our plate, if we don’t have healthy and strong connections, we are not ‘getting it’. With all of the Blue Zone communities family was NUMBER ONE. Who you spend your time with is a key factor in your health and longevity.

I think this is some really good food for thought (insert obvious nutrition joke here). While what we are eating and how much we are exercising are important, they are not the be all and the end all. My favorite take-aways? Your attitude is the number one life expectancy indicator, so wake up happy, grateful and optimistic. And of course, the common denominator about connection and community. It is wonderful to have a positive attitude for your own health and wellness, but when you can take it one step further to those you love, you are really winning at the health and wellness game. And for parents, pre-plating your kids food can help ensure they are eating enough fruit and veggies at every meal.

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BOUTIQUE GYMS IN WINNIPEG DIVERSIFYING TO STAY AFLOAT THROUGH THE COVID-19 EPIDEMIC

While Manitoba’s chief public health officer has extended the current public health orders suspending non-critical businesses and operations in the province until April 28, boutique fitness facilities in Winnipeg are really feeling the pressure. Yoga studios, kickboxing gyms, and personal trainer fitness facilities have been ordered to be closed since March 17, 2020. With no income on April 1, and little to no government support for them, they are finding it difficult to stay afloat during this unprecedented time in history.

Like many, smaller fitness facility owners started their facilities to bring health and wellness to Winnipegers. During this pandemic, our health is being recognized as our number one concern, and their facilities are not able to provide the physical fitness component to their members’ lives. While they completely understand and respect the reasoning for social distancing and having to close non-essential businesses at this time, their livelihood is at serious risk.

As true health and wellness professionals, many owners are diversifying their offerings to provide fitness and much needed motivation and connection to their members. Examples include:

  • Infinity Health Coaching – providing both free and paid options for online strength training and HIIT workouts to all Winnipeggers, as well as online accountability one-on-one coaching for clients to help with nutrition, stress management and fitness.

 

  • Fit Women & Girls – providing online workouts, both Youtube and Live videos, through their social media channels to give those who are self-isolating added motivation and ideas on how to stay fit during this pandemic.

 

  • Winnipeg Women’s Kickboxing & Muay Thai – providing online workouts four times per week to their members who wish to pay a nominal fee to help the facility stay afloat during this pandemic. 45 minute workouts include body weight and free weight exercise, cardio-vascular routines and kickboxing single and partner drills.

 

  • The Yoga Barre – providing free barre and yoga classes via their Instagram story @tyb.live. They also have a Karma Class Pass for a nominal fee for members to have more in-depth workouts each day.

 

  • Various Provincial Sport Organizations, such as Cycling Manitoba and Manitoba Rowing Association, are coaching their High Performance and provincial team athletes via online workouts using technologies such as Facebook Live or Zoom.

While this is an unprecedented time in history, it is important to find the positives each time, and do our best to keep our health and wellness top of mind. With the immense amount of added stress, physical fitness is more important now than ever. Exercise has direct stress reducing and mood boosting benefits as it helps increase the production of the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, also known as endorphins. Exercise also reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. Kudos to the leaders in Winnipeg’s fitness industry for diversifying their offerings for their clients needs.

 

14 Steps to a Healthy Digestive System

I believe there are two major systems that we need to pay smart attention to when it comes to our health. First, your immune system – ensuring it is strong and clean will keep you away from sickness and disease longer. Second is your digestive system. After losing my mom in 2013 to cholangiocarcinoma, cancer of the bile duct, I made a mindful decision to really start to pay attention to my digestive health. When you think about it, everything comes in and out of our digestive system, and 80% of our immune system is IN our digestive system. So, having a clean and healthy one makes perfect sense if we want to live longer and healthier right?! If you’re still with me, keep reading.

Issues with your digestive system can come out in many forms, including Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), bloating, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, indigestion, gas, acid reflex and more. Basically, everything that is super uncomfortable and can be super painful. But digestive issues don’t stop there. They can cause problems throughout your entire body. Allergies, autoimmune disease, acne, chronic fatigue, mood disorders, brain fog and even cancer can all be results of digestive system issues.

Now that we know what we DO NOT want, what can we expect from having a clean and healthy digestive system? First, when your digestive system is healthy, you absorb nutrients much better and in turn feed your cells more vitamins, minerals, protein, carbs, water and (good) fats. In turn, it more efficiently gets rid of yeast, allergens, toxins and the like.

Secondly, when your digestive system is healthy, your immune system is stronger. Definitely a win-win. Third, a health digestive system reduces inflammation in your body. When your body is experiencing ‘bad inflammation’ you are putting yourself at risk for a host of issues and diseases including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, depression and cancer. Lastly, a healthy digestive is great for your brain health. For more on brain health and what foods are best to eat for that big ol brain, see here.

What can YOU do, starting today, to get your digestive system healthier? LOTS! Here are my top 14 tips:

  1. Eat foods that are high in fiber including whole grains, raw vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts and beans.
  2. Add a pre and/or probiotic to your day. I use Pearls Acidophilus Probiotic by Nature’s Way. This will increase the good bacteria in your stomach, which is what you definitely want.
  3. Incorporate digestive enzymes into your day. They help your digestivetract properly break down foods that contain difficult-to-digest proteins, fats and carbohydrates. I typically take one before a large meal, or a meal that my body isn’t used to – so basically when I eat out. If your system is in rough shape right now, I would suggest one before every meal to get started.
  4. Hydrate yourself! Are you drinking enough water? I am the worst for this. But it really is key to a healthy digestive system.
  5. Try to eat consistently at the same time every day. Whether you are intermittent fasting or eating morning, noon and night, make your times the same each day.
  6. Eat the same foods as often as possible. Your digestive system will get used to breaking down the same foods and make it easier on your system. It isn’t as boring as it sounds – same healthy ingredients, different ways.
  7. Workout! Another great reason to get moving is that it is great for your digestive health.
  8. De-stress! I know – easier said than done on this one for sure. But think about how crappy your stomach feels when you are stressed out. People over eat, under eat, get constipated, have diarrhea – a whole slew of digestive problems. Do your best to lower your stress levels.
  9. Do not overmedicate yourself. Whether we are talking antibiotics or over the counter medications, try to heal your system naturally before you run for a pill. Of course, sometimes these are needed, and you should listen to your doctor or health care professional, but running for an Advil for a dull headache or a Tums because you feel like you need to burp is wreaking havoc on your body.
  10. Eat real food! Especially nutrient dense foods like kale, spinach, salmon and more. For my list of best foods to add in, see here.
  11. Eat healthy fats! A scoop of raw organic coconut oil in the morning is great for this. Also, think of nuts, avocados, fatty fish and extra virgin olive oil.
  12. In the morning, add a one ounce shot of raw organic apple cider vinegar to your water. It’s not the best tasting thing, but don’t worry, you’ll get used to it. And what it does for your digestive system is exceptional, so worth the sour face in the beginning.
  13. Slurp down a spoon full of aloe vera in the morning. It’s a fairly refreshing taste, and can be purchased at your local health food store. This helps clean your system daily.
  14. Listen to what feels good in your body! After finishing a meal, if you have heartburn, indigestion, feel sluggish, have diarrhea – why are you going to eat this again? Food should not do this to you! For some reason, your body is not agreeing with what you just ate or drank. So, stop. And just the same, if after eating a meal you feel energetic, sharp in the mind, and your body feels good, do that more. Sounds simple right?! We think so too, but people reach for antacids instead of not eating what hurts them.

Like what you read? Feel free to comment below on your experience with digestive strength or issues. And be sure to sign up for our newsletter here for the best information on health for women!

Eating Nutrient Dense Food – What It REALLY Means

A few years ago, I made a significant shift in my thinking as it relates to my health. When we think about health long term and making sustainable decisions that can last a life time, the idea of constantly counting and measuring our food can be not only overwhelming but exhausting in its own right. Rather, making decisions about the food that you eat should be simple. Eat nutrient dense real food. Food should be something you enjoy cooking, eating and digesting, not something that you and your body have grown to hate.

But what does it mean to eat ‘nutrient dense food’? This is simply the amount of nutrients you get for the amount of calories you take in from a given food. High level of nutrients with low levels of calories is the goal. And ‘nutrients’ are macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).

The easiest way for me to think about this is how much processing has to go into this to make it something I can eat. Is it a fairly simple food? Can I pick it from a tree or garden? If so, it’s usually bang on. When I am making decisions at the grocery store I think to myself – is this going to help me on my healthy journey or create issues or blocks for me? Think about how eating this food is going to make you feel – is it easy for me to digest? Will it support a strong immune system? Will it help me with my energy and sleep? Nutrient dense food will do all of this and more.

So, what are the best of the best? Here are my top nutrient dense foods:

  • Salmon
  • Kale
  • Garlic
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Berries, especially blueberries
  • Eggs
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Veggies, especially Broccoli
  • Nuts
  • Legumes
  • Quinoa
  • Spinach
  • Avocado
  • Seeds, especially Chia Seeds and Hemp Seeds
  • Red Peppers
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Beets

Equally as important to WHAT we’re eating is what we’re cooking it in and topping it with. You can have great intentions by eating salad every day, but if you’re deep frying a piece of chicken in corn oil to put on top of your salad and dousing it is high sugar, high calorie dressing, you’re missing the health boat. When I look at the calorie count for restaurant salads I am blown away. Many are over 1500 calories…FOR A SALAD!! Yes, you’re getting you veggies in, but need to be mindful of how you’re getting them in too.

Making at home salad dressings is a great way to keep things on the up and up. Using apple cider vinegar, healthy oils such as avocado oil, coconut oil, hemp oil or extra virgin olive oil are a great base. Adding seasoning that is low in sodium is a great way to pack in the flavour. And you can never have enough Turmeric by the way…it’s loading with tons of health benefits.

When cooking meat or veggies, the same rules still apply about what we’re cooking things IN. Cooking spray or corn oil are crap. Stick to any of the above suggested oils or try ghee or butter. Remember – real is good, fake is bad.

When you’re adding sauce to your food, be sparing. Especially with store-bought sauces. Did you know that BBQ sauce has on average 12 grams of sugar per serving and ketchup has 8? These are HIGH! Same goes for salad dressing – you take away your ‘good meal’ idea when you cover it is sugar. Four grams of sugar is approximately one teaspoon of granulated sugar. And who only puts one serving of something usually on things? Portion control is key for sure here too.

Here’s what I think it really comes down to. When you are choosing your food, you are choosing for health or not for health. It’s not a statement of judgement. It’s simply the truth. That doesn’t mean you’re never allowed to have a piece of cake again. But when you are making your meals and choosing your food, be mindful of is this healthy for me? And even more specifically, is this going to support my immune system strength and my digestive system health? If yes – put it in the cart. If not, make another choice. It really is all about our choices and how they affect the way we feel inside and out.

Our Top Skincare Tips for Women Over 35

Aging is a fact of life. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be blessed to do it for many, many years. But let’s be real – most of us want to stay looking young and having that fresh-faced glow. From genetics to lifestyle factors, there are so many elements involved in maintaining younger looking skin. A few key lifestyle factors include daily exercise, not smoking, limiting your alcohol intake, sleeping eight or more hours per night, and keeping your stress levels low.

At 42, I definitely look younger than I am. I am often asked what my secret is to younger looking skin. The above lifestyle factors are definitely important, but some specific nutrition and skin care regime moves really help. In this week’s blog, I will share my favorite anti-aging skin care tricks with you.

Nutrition plays an important role in how your skin looks. Caring for your skin from the inside out. To me, that means few if any refined or processed foods, little to no sugar, little to no meat. Things to add would include eggs, avocados, hemp seeds and coconut oil. Drinking plenty of water to keep you skin hydrated is also really important. Overall, increasing the antioxidants in your diet with fresh fruits and veggies is also key.

Next, the weather elements can wreak havoc on your skin in Canada. Think about how your hands feel on a cold day if you forget your mitts. They feel dried out, sore, and even cracked. The same thing happens to our faces and necks if we don’t cover up. In the summer, the sun can do tons of damage too. Ensuring you use a moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or more is key. Cover up with a hat and high-quality sunglasses, or stay in the shade if you can – the more exposure to the sun the older our skin will look.

In terms of skin care, I try to keep it simple. One of the most important things we can do for our skin is to ensure we wash our faces and remove all of the makeup every single night before we go to bed. I try my best to be chemical free in my home and with my skin care products, so ensuring I use a gentle wash that is glycerin, paraben and sulfate free is important. I also like to read the ingredients to see what is really in there.

Next, I use a gentle exfoliator two to three times per week. In the summer, it is really important to do this at night NOT during the day, as that leaves your skin wide open for more damage. I use ‘Everyone for Every Body Face Exfoliator and Mask’. It’s super affordable and gentle on my skin…I have sensitive skin, so that is important when I am looking for great skincare products. Exfoliating gives your skin a young glow and leaves your face feeling fresh and healthy.

Once my skin is clean, I use Clinique’s Clarifying Lotion. It is a true game changer for great skin. The purpose of this step is to take away flakes and refine pores to showcase a clearer complexion. It removes dead cells from the surface of your skin helping moisturizer immerse deeper into your skin.

Once every week or two, I like to use Brie’s Botanicals Renew Serum. I have oily skin, so my face works best if this is used about every ten days. Her entire skin care line is really terrific, she is a local Winnipeger and a total gem of a human. If you haven’t used any of her products, I would strongly recommend checking them out here.

The final step is moisturizer! I honestly sometimes feel like I have tried the majority of what is in Sephora for this one. I need something that is not going to clog my pores, is anti-aging, has an SPF (daytime), and has little to no chemicals in it. I’m sort of high maintenance! For daytime, I use Origins Plantscription SPF 25 and I absolutely love it. For nighttime, I found this super cool Canadian company called Annanda Chaga Mushrooms. From my many years in the sun and not always protecting my skin, I started getting brown spots on my cheeks in my late 30’s. I wanted to do something about it that wasn’t going to chemically peal my face off! This company has a terrific nighttime moisturizer called Chaga Mushroom Skin Cream. I’m obsessed. Use this code to get 10% off your order if you’re interested in trying them out.

Every person’s skin is different. While we all want to have beautiful, glowing skin, it is also important to remember that we earned every single one of those laugh lines and wrinkles and they are beautiful.

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The Scoop on Poop

I wonder why children have such a fascination with their poop. They like to talk about it, they like to show it to anyone who will look including parents and siblings. Whether it floats or sinks, is green or brown, thick or thin, they have to let you know what’s up.

I’m not sure at what age this no longer become socially acceptable to talk about your poop out loud. Even my 10-year-old calls me into the bathroom from time to time to show me her poop. Maybe this isn’t a normal thing and it’s just my family that does this? If you’ve ever had a child that has had issues with constipation, then you more than likely have seen your fair share of poops and have requested to see it on the daily. Gross, I know.

Regardless of when we stop talking about it as children and grown-ups, we all need to ensure that we’re having a look at our “bowel movements” as an indicator of what’s happening inside of us. Good or bad, we need to see in order to know when it may be time to either change something in our diets or seek medical attention.

Poop, (aka stool or feces) is a normal part of the digestive process. Poop is made up of waste products that are being eliminated from the body. It may include undigested food particles, bacteria, salts, and other substances. Poop can vary in its color, texture, amount, and smell. Differences are fairly normal and most times you see changes (including on the colour chart below) they usually resolve in a day or two. However, some changes in poop indicate a more serious condition.

So… what is “normal”, healthy poop?  

Well to start, it should not be very difficult or painful to pass. It should be brown (medium to dark), have a soft to firm consistency and come out in one piece or a few pieces. If you there is blood in your stool get medical attention right away.Most people go once per day, some twice – some even more or less. However, it is suggested that, at minimum, you should go at least 3 times per week.

What colours can and should poop be? Other than brown, there are a whole array of colours your poop can be! Here’s an easy chart to see what colour means what and why it may be happening…

 

Colour of Poop Possible Concerning Reason as to Why? Other less concerning reasons as to Why?
Black Gastrointestinal Bleeding Iron Supplements, black licorice, bismuth medication
White or Gray Liver or Gallbladder Issues Anti-diarrhea medication may cause this.
Green Too much bile and not enough bilirubin. Spinach, kale, or other green foods.
Red Gastrointestinal Bleeding Hemorrhoids or after eating beets, red berries or tomato juice.
Orange Blocked bile ducts Rifampin Antibiotic can cause orange poop or eating orange foods rich in beta-carotene – carrots, sweet potatoes
Yellow Too much fat – possible absorption issues or difficulty producing bile.

Most people will experience variations in color at some time. Usually, this is because of diet or some other minor cause. However, anyone who experiences changes in poop color that last for two or more weeks or has red or black poop, should see their doctor.

The point of all this all is not just to say the word poop 17 times in one blog (believe it or not!). We all need to monitor any changes in the smell, firmness, frequency, or color of our own poop as it can indicate if there is a problem. Don’t be scared or embarrassed – check out your poop (18!) daily!

 

 

 

 

 

10 Best Foods for Brain Health

Our brains. What an interesting place they can be! Our brains take messages from the world and give them meaning for us. They store so much information in our memory – from the way it feels to have a hug from your mom to what chocolate tastes like to what you learned in grade 12 Algebra. The brain controls our thoughts, memory and speech, movement of the arms and legs, and the function of many organs within our body. Treating our brain as best we can is imperative for long term health.

When I first started Intermittent Fasting one of the things that attracted me most to it was the idea of helping to clean our body and brain for more optimal health. Essentially, when we sleep, our brains and body cells are being cleaned. We wake up feeling fresh and energized after a good night sleep. When we continue to fast for a little bit longer, it allows our body to continue to clean its’ cells rather than jump right into digestive mode. I really like that concept.

But other than intermittent fasting, what can we do from a nutrition side of things to help our brains be the healthiest they can be? There are a few foods that are known to be great for boosting brain health. These foods include:

  1. Berries – a strong antioxidant, berries help our memory stay sharp as we age.
  2. Dark Chocolate – this powerful antioxidant helps support cellular aging.
  3. Broccoli – high in antioxidants and vitamin K, this super veg is a winner on all fronts for your big brain.
  4. Avocados – this good, healthy fat is great for your brain and your mood by helping release the ‘feel good’ chemicals in your brain.
  5. Oily Fish – What makes oily fish so good is that they contain the active form of Omega 3 fats, EPA and DHA, in a ready-made form, which enables the body to use it easily. The less work our body has to do to use the nutrients, the more energy we have for other body tasks.
  6. Seeds and Nuts – another win for omega 3 fats and antioxidants with these powerhouses.
  7. Kale – this veg promotes great gut health. There is a HUGE connection between our gut health and our brain health. We would suggest reading more on this here.
  8. Eggs – vitamins B6 and B12, folate and choline are all found in eggs which are great for brain health and boosting memory.
  9. Coffee – the caffeine and antioxidants in coffee are great for brain health. So maybe it’s not just our imagination that we feel sharper after our first cup of joe!
  10. Turmeric – according to Healthline.com, Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, meaning it can directly enter the brain and benefit the cells there.

Reducing our sugar intake, switching white carbs for better sources of carbohydrates such as whole grain bread or quinoa, and not over doing it with alcohol, are all things we should make note of when we talk about our brain health. Staying physically active is also really important, as is staying mentally active – doing brain games, crosswords and sudokus for example are all great for our brain and overall longevity and health.

It’s really important to remember that we are our own best advocates for our health and wellness. It is up to you and you only to ensure you are making good choices when it comes to your nutrition and overall health. You need to make YOU a priority, and part of this is eating a nutrient dense diet and staying active through all stages of your life.

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