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.

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.

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! 

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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