Nutrition Simplified: 4 Easy Steps

Nutrition Simplified: 4 Easy Steps

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Do you have goals to eat better, lose weight, or address a nagging health condition?

Most of us have goals related to our health, and many of those goals require changes to our nutrition. But, there is so much noise about how to eat well, it can be overwhelming!

So, to help you achieve your goals we’ve put together a simple list of 4 things to include with each meal that will set you up for success. This concept will streamline all your meal choices from here on out, and help you meet your goals. And it’s easy, we promise!

But first, a little background information…

Macronutrients

If we tell you that “macro” means large, the term “macronutrient” becomes fairly straightforward! Macronutrients, in short, are nutrients we need in large quantities.

Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre, and water (although water intake is a topic for another article!).

The Standard North American Diet (SAD)

Unfortunately, the Standard North American Diet (SAD), tends to include large amounts of highly-processed foods usually simples carbohydrates loaded with sugar and additives  which often results in low intake of protein and fibre. Imbalanced intake of macronutrients and consuming low-nutrient foods contributes to the development of many “diseases of civilization” such as heart disease (1), cancer (2), obesity, diabetes (3), digestive disorders (4), infertility, and mood disturbances including anxiety and depression (5).

The Balanced Meal Equation
To create a balanced meal, you want to ensure you’re consuming each of the necessary macronutrients; which will naturally reduce glycemic load. Glycemic load is the measure of how quickly sugars enter your blood stream. The goal is to have gradual increases in blood sugar, with sustained energy over time; rather than the huge spikes and crashes caused by the SAD. To accomplish this, it’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4!

Keep reading and we’ll give you some ideas about how to implement this concept, as well as what benefits you’re likely to experience from consuming all the macronutrients at each meal.

Complex Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of energy. Carbohydrates are digested mainly in the mouth as enzymes in our saliva break down these compounds into sugars that our body uses for short bursts of energy. Complex carbohydrates include categories of foods such as vegetables (excluding potatoes and corn) and whole grains (not refined flours), as well as beans and legumes, which are a lesser-known source.

Proteins

Protein is used for building, repairing, and regenerating muscles; and also make up the structure of nearly all body tissues. Proteins are digested mainly in the stomach, and typically take between 2-4 hours to pass to the small intestine for further absorption. Animal based foods such as meat, poultry, or egg whites provide high quality proteins. There are many plant-based sources of proteins as well including nuts and seeds, beans and lentils, and pseudograins such as quinoa or amaranth.

Good Quality Fats

Fats don’t make us fat! Quite the opposite is true. Fats are a part of every cell membrane of our bodies, they make up the majority of our brain and eyes, assist in hormone production, and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Fats are digested within the small intestine. Healthy fats that come from things like olive oil, coconut oil, fish, hemp, flax and avocado are critical to support the brain, hormone function, and stabilize energy.

Fibre

Fibre is a macronutrient found in carbohydrate-rich foods. There are two main types of fibre – insoluble, which doesn’t dissolve in water, and soluble, that does. Both types of fibre support our digestive function by promoting regular bowel movements and providing important sources of food to the good bacteria living in our guts. Insoluble fibre acts like little brushes, sweeping food through the intestines, while soluble fibre acts like little sponges helping to absorb toxins within the digestive tract and carry them out of the body as waste.

Fibre is not digestible and passes through our digestive system intact. Vegetables are a preferred source of fibre, and ideally 50% of each meal should be based around various vegetables. Some other ideal sources of fibre include whole grains, beans and legumes, many seeds such as flax or chia, and berries.

But, What About Special Diets?

One of the biggest benefits to following this 4-step dietary guideline is that it applies to every human on the planet regardless of their dietary preferences, ancestry, religious affiliations, beliefs about animal welfare, or health conditions. Every single one of us needs to consume all four of these macronutrients.

Within this frame work, you are able (possibly with the assistance of a nutritionist or dietitian) to adjust the ratios of macronutrients at a more advanced level to work for your beliefs and preferences whether you’re following a ketogenic diet, are vegan or vegetarian, or anything in between.

But, for most individuals in North America, just having an awareness of these four macronutrients and including them all at each meal is a huge step in a positive direction!

Top 5 Health Benefits of Consuming All Macronutrients

Balanced Blood Sugar Levels

Blood sugar spikes caused by consuming refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white pasta and baked goods) and sugars, or meals with imbalanced macronutrients (for North Americans that typically due to meals lacking in protein and/or fibre) lead to an increased output of the hormone insulin (which is pro-inflammatory), along with other undesirable outcomes like further cravings, and rapidly changing blood sugar levels. A “blood sugar roller coaster” is the cause of many common symptoms including fatigue, dizziness, nervousness, and irritability. Because protein and fat are digested more slowly, and further down the digestive tract than carbohydrates, they help to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugars into the blood. Staying off that blood sugar roller coaster helps protect against many chronic diseases including high cholesterol, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Weight Loss

When macronutrient needs are well met satiety is increased, making you feel fuller longer. This can have positive impact on metabolic rate as well, increasing calorie burn without added exercise. By reducing glycemic load, the body is also required to produce smaller amounts of insulin to keep blood sugar levels at normal levels. Because insulin is our “fat storage hormone” supporting the body to naturally require and produce less insulin can benefit weight loss and weight management strategies greatly.

Improved Mood

When macronutrients are balanced at each meal, we have all the building blocks for happy hormones like serotonin and endorphins. Plus, we’ve all been “hangry”, right? Staying off that blood sugar roller coaster also means less blood sugar crashes that can lead to feeling anxious, depressed and irritable.

More Energy

A well-balanced diet means your body is better able to turn food into fuel, and that your cells communicate more effectively. When consuming balanced macronutrients energy levels tend to be higher and more stable.

Reduced Inflammation

A high-fibre diet can help reduce inflammation by modifying the pH in the gut, reducing gut permeability, and supporting our good bacteria. A diet including adequate amounts of all macronutrients also helps reduce inflammation because of lower insulin secretion. Although it serves many valuable biological purposes, in addition to being our “fat-storage hormone”, insulin is also pro-inflammatory.

How To Consume All Macronutrients At Each Meal

Here, we’re outlining some simple meal ideas that include complex carbohydrates, protein, good quality fats, and fibre just to get you started with imagining what these macronutrients would look like on your plate!

  • Steel cut oats with ground flax seed and raw nuts
  • Mixed green salad with chicken breast and olive oil vinaigrette
  • Roast beef with root vegetables
  • Shrimp and vegetable stir fry
  • Smoothie with spinach, protein powder, MCT coconut oil, and chia

In Summary
This is not complicated, it’s as simple as can be! Improving our diets can start with increasing our individual and collective awareness of the macronutrients we require from our foods, and doing a little mental 4-point checklist at each meal to ensure we have our bases covered.

If you feel you would benefit from one-on-one support to move your diet to a more balanced state, please reach out or book an appointment, we’re here to help!

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342583/ 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866629/pdf/nihms-188521.pdf 
  3. https://diabetesjournals.org/spectrum/article/21/3/160/2008/The-Pathophysiology-of-Cardiovascular-Disease-and 
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6520976/ 
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7322666/ 

 

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits
Ashwagandha, also known as Withania somnifera, as well as Indian ginseng and winter cherry, is a small evergreen shrub. It grows in India, the Middle East, and parts of Africa.

Ashwagandha has been used for over 3,000 years in ancient Ayurvedic medicine practices to help relieve stress, increase energy levels, improve concentration and many more benefits. It’s now grown in popularity in the western world over recent years for its various health benefits as well (1).

So, let’s have a look at some of the amazing health properties that Ashwagandha can provide us!

Top 10 Health Benefits of Ashwagandha

  1. Balance Blood Sugar
    Ashwagandha can reduce blood sugar levels in both healthy people and those with diabetes (2, 3)
  2. Treat Cancer
    Ashwagandha can help treat several types of cancer, including breast, lung, colon, brain, and ovarian cancer. The mechanism of action is through inducing apoptosis, which is the programmed death of cancer cells and impeding the growth of new cancer cells (4, 5, 6, 7)
  3. Reduce Stress
    Ashwagandha can help to reduce stress and levels of cortisol by up to 30% in chronically stressed individuals (8)
  4. Reduce Anxiety
    Ashwagandha can assist in reducing anxiety and improving sleep issues (9)
  5. Improve Depression
    Ashwagandha can help reduce symptoms of depression (10)
  6. Improve Male Fertility
    Ashwagandha can help boost testosterone and fertility in men by improving sperm count and sperm quality (11,12)
  7. Improve Body Composition
    Ashwagandha may help improve muscle strength, muscle mass and body composition and reduce body fat percentage (13, 14)
  8. Reduce Pain and Inflammation
    Ashwagandha can reduce inflammation, including inflammatory markers such as natural killer cells and c-reactive protein, and can act as a natural pain reliever (15, 16)
  9. Protect Cardiovascular Health
    Ashwagandha can reduce total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (17, 18)
  10. Improved Cognitive Function
    Ashwagandha can improve memory, reaction time and attention span for many individuals (19)

Ashwagandha Risks

While it is generally considered safe, large doses of Ashwagandha might cause stomach upset, diarrhea, and vomiting. Liver problems might occur, but this is very rare.

Ashwagandha may also interact with thyroid, blood sugar and blood pressure medications and is not advised to consume when pregnant or breastfeeding. Ashwagandha might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. For this same reason, Ashwaganha is not recommended for people that are on immune suppressant drugs. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using Ashwagandha.

Ashwagandha may slow down the central nervous system. Healthcare providers worry that anesthesia and other medications during and after surgery might increase this effect. Stop taking Ashwagandha at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery (20)

How Do I Take Ashwagandha?

The recommended dosage of Ashwagandha depends on the type of supplement because extracts are more potent than whole Ashwagandha root or leaf powder. So, it is important to follow instructions on labels or seek advice from a qualified health professional. Standardized Ashwagandha root extract is commonly taken in 450–500mg capsules once or twice daily.

You can purchase whole Ashwagandha powder and add in your smoothies or sprinkle on your oatmeal or yoghurt. You can purchase If consuming Ashwagandha as a tea, it can be difficult to determine if you are getting enough to establish a therapeutic dose. However, if you’re just looking for a supportive herbal addition to your diet, tea or Ashwagandha Moon Milk are great options!

For more Ashwagandha supplement options, check out our online dispensary. This is one of our favourites:

If you have taken Ashwagandha in the past, or opt to try it now, come find us over on Facebook or Instagram and let us know how it worked for you!

REFERENCES
1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19633611/
2. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23125505/
4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17003952/
5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17003952/
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20840055/
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24046237/
8. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/
10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23439798/
11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19789214/
12. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23796876/
13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26609282/
14. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21170205/
15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26397759/
16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19504465/
17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16713218/
18. https://blog.priceplow.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/withania_review.pdf
19. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28471731/
20. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-953/ashwagandh

What is Chlorella?

What is Chlorella?

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Chlorella is a type of algae that grows in fresh water. It has long been recognized as a superfood! There are over 30 different species, with the two most commonly researched being Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa. Chlorella is typically sold in tablet form or as a powder in health food stores and supplement stores. Chlorella has a strong, earthy flavour that might be described as “green,” to put it nicely… but, the benefits are definitely worth the intense flavour! If you find you don’t enjoy the green taste, you may prefer taking it in tablet form, or mixing it in with fruits and vegetables in a smoothie.

Nutrients in Chlorella

Chlorella is a good source of protein, vitamin A, iron, and zinc. It is one of the few vegetarian foods sources that is a complete protein source, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids that we need to consume in our diets. A one-ounce (28g) serving of chlorella contains:

Calories: 115
Carbs: 6.5g
Protein: 16.4g
Fat: 2.6g
Fiber: 0.1g
Vitamin A: 14364 IU
Vitamin C: 2.9mg
Thiamin: 0.5mg
Riboflavin: 1.2mg
Niacin: 6.7mg
Vitamin B6: 0.4mg
Iron: 36.4mg
Magnesium: 88.2mg

Health Benefits of Chlorella

  • Detoxification: Chlorella is great to consume during detox, as it can bind to heavy metals and other toxins, helping to eliminate them from the body. It can also effectively lower the amount of dioxin in the body, an environmental pollutant that accumulates in certain foods. (3)
  • Immune system support: Chlorella helps enhance immune functioning and accelerate wound healing (4). One study suggested that taking chlorella supplements for a short period of time can stimulate the immune system in healthy adults. (5)
  • Cardiovascular health: Chlorella may help lower high blood pressure and lower cholesterol levels. (4)
  • Diabetes: Chlorella may assist in managing blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, factors in pre-diabetes and diabetes. (6)
  • Antioxidant protection: Chlorella contains multiple antioxidants, which protect against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a phenomenon that occurs when there are more damaging “free radicals” in the body than there are protective antioxidants to neutralize them. Oxidative stress is a contributing factor in end-stage diseases such as cancer development. (6)

Chlorella vs. Spirulina

Chlorella and Spirulina have often been compared to each other. Although they are both forms of algae, with many similar health benefits, they do have unique differences. Spirulina grows in both fresh and salt water, where as chlorella grows only in fresh water. Chlorella also boasts higher levels of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, iron, and vitamin A; while Spirulina contains selenium to support the immune system and thyroid health. However, both are great sources of protein, B-vitamins, and antioxidants, and can be a nutritious addition to the diet.

Precautions

Chlorella is generally considered safe and well-tolerated. With that said, chlorella can cause side effects, especially during the first few weeks of taking it. This includes flatulence, green discolouration of stools, nausea, stomach cramps and diarrhea.

It should also be noted that chlorella may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, and it may not be indicated for those with certain autoimmune conditions or pregnant people due to its ability to stimulate the immune system. Consult your doctor or another qualified health professional before including chlorella in your diet if these apply to you.

How To Use Chlorella

Chlorella can be purchased in tablet, capsule, extract, or powder form. “Broken cell wall” chlorella is recommended, as it has its hard outer shell has been broken open, so the body can better access and absorb the nutrients inside. Powdered Chlorella can be added to smoothies, pesto, or salad dressings for a nutritious boost.

Chlorella Supplements

If you’re more likely to take a chlorella supplement than cook with it, we’ve got you covered!

 

If you try out a chlorella supplement, or our Detox Green Smoothie With Chlorella, come join us over on Facebook or Instagram and let us know what you think!

References:

1)      https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/569428/2

2)      https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2765/2

3)      Nakano S, Takekoshi H, Nakano M. Chlorella (Chlorella pyrenoidosa) supplementation decreases dioxin and increases immunoglobulin a concentrations in breast milk. J Med Food. 2007 Mar;10(1):134-42. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2006.023. PMID: 17472477.

4)      Merchant RE, Andre CA. A review of recent clinical trials of the nutritional supplement Chlorella pyrenoidosa in the treatment of fibromyalgia, hypertension, and ulcerative colitis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001 May-Jun;7(3):79-91. PMID: 11347287.

5)      Kwak JH, Baek SH, Woo Y, Han JK, Kim BG, Kim OY, Lee JH. Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of natural killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial). Nutr J. 2012 Jul 31;11:53. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-11-53. PMID: 22849818; PMCID: PMC3511195.

6)      Panahi Y, Darvishi B, Jowzi N, Beiraghdar F, Sahebkar A. Chlorella vulgaris: A Multifunctional Dietary Supplement with Diverse Medicinal Properties. Curr Pharm Des. 2016;22(2):164-73. doi: 10.2174/1381612822666151112145226. PMID: 26561078.

Detoxification 101

Detoxification 101

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Modern living is full of exposures to toxins. These toxins are in the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we put on our skin, and the chemicals we use to clean our homes. We are constantly exposed to toxins.

The human body has an amazing ability to detoxify itself through various mechanisms. The liver is our main organ of detoxification. It is a very resilient organ that filters toxins or metabolites out of our blood, transforms them into less harmful substances, which then allows them to be purged from the body.

In modern day, people often look at “detoxes” and “cleanses” as a “quick fix” to lose weight, feel better, and have more energy and we often hear these words being used interchangeably but is there a difference between a detox and a cleanse? And do they actually work?

What Is The Difference Between A Detox And A Cleanse?

Detox” and “cleanse” are frequently used interchangeably, but when it comes down to it, these processes serve two different purposes. A cleanse refers to supporting existing pathways, in essence “opening up doorways” within the body, such as the bowel and urinary system. A detox, on the other hand, refers to liberating and removing toxins at a deeper level, such as those stored in our cells or fat deposits.

Cleansing is regulated by the nervous system and detoxifying is regulated by our endocrine system. Cleanses are more of an ongoing lifestyle approach, where as detoxes are a short-term purpose-driven approach.

What Is A Cleanse?

Simply put, a cleanse is the naturally stimulated elimination of waste products. It is a way to help open the exit channels or “doorways” that naturally eliminate toxins from the body. The channels that help to do this includes:

  • Bladder (urine)
  • Bowel (stool)
  • Skin (sweat)
  • Lungs (exhale)

There are multiple cleansing strategies that can be used to support natural elimination, such as: adequate clean water intake to help usher out toxins through the bladder; probiotics and fiber to help ensure regular and healthy bowel motion to excrete toxins through our stools; skin brushing, sweating, and sauna, to help with releasing toxins through the skin; and deep breathing, belly breathing, or yoga to help expel toxins from the lungs.

Castor oil packs are another great cleansing tool and can be used on different parts of the body. It helps move the lymphatic system, places the body into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), which is optimal for the body to detoxify and repair! Plus, it helps stimulate peristalsis and pooping!

In addition to toxins, a cleanse aims to remove everything from fecal matter to parasites and fungi stuck in your system. It can also help to purge unhealthy gut bacteria and replace them with more beneficial bacteria.

What Is A Detox?

Detoxification, or “detox” is a process of removing toxins from inside individual cells, and focuses on metabolic pathways to do this. Detoxification helps to make toxins non-toxic or less toxic, and able to be cleansed out of the body. Detoxification typically involves individual cellular structures, the liver and kidneys, some mucus membranes, and even the brain.

The tools that can assist in supporting detoxification usually include various vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants that are needed as cofactors to help the liver breakdown toxins through its phase 1 and phase 2 detoxification pathways. Sometimes herbs, phytochemicals and neutriceuticals can be used to help liberate buildup toxins that have been stored deep down in our cells causing us problems.

A typical detox diet could involve a period of fasting, followed by a strict diet of fruit, vegetables, fruit juices, and water. Sometimes a detox also includes herbs, teas, supplements, and colon cleanses or enemas.

When Would You Do A Cleanse Or Detox?

Are you experiencing signs and symptoms that your nervous system, endocrine system or immune system are not working well together? These three systems all help to remove the build-up of excess toxins from the body. If you are struggling with various skin, digestive issues, or fatigue – it may be your body crying out for a “bath”, so to speak. Remember, symptoms are just your body’s language to tell you things are out of balance

The human body naturally detoxifies itself more efficiently in the spring and fall. So, those are the ideal times for implementing a cleanse and/or detox, to help synchronize with your body’s natural rhythms during these seasons.

Is It Safe To Do A Cleanse Or Detox?

The goal of a detox is similar to the goal of a cleanse, but they don’t work in the same way.

The most important factor to remember is that you SHOULD NOT do a detox until all your “exit doors” (bowel, bladder, lungs and skin) are all functioning well and are “open”. It is imperative to ensure all “doorways” are open prior to attempting a detoxification. Liberating toxins with a detox, before addressing the body’s ability to release those toxins through the “exit doorways”, can be more dangerous that doing nothing. In short, when your body releases stored toxins from the cells, they need to be expelled from the body. If your exit pathways are not working well, then these toxins released from the cells can circulate around the body causing more harm and damage than if they’d been left in “storage”. This could completely mitigating any potential positive gains from a detox. Not ensuring exit doors are open can lead to constipation, severe headaches, rashes, fatigue, brain fog, and more.

Your body also needs to be in a parasympathetic state (a calm and relaxed state) and not sympathetic state (fight or flight response, such as when we are stressed). Stress inhibits our ability to detoxify and cleanse. For example, if we are stressed we are less likely to have a bowel motion. So, incorporating deep breathing, mediation, yoga and other stress management techniques are crucial to optimize any cleansing or detox experience.

As we detox, we may go through a period of feeling worse before feeling better, so be sure you plan a time to do this when you are not too stressed, will have time to rest, and don’t have too many things on the go.

Who Should Not Do A Detox?

At-risk populations include children, adolescents, older adults, those who are malnourished, pregnant or lactating women, individuals with an eating disorder, and people who have blood sugar issues, such as diabetes. Although it is good practice for anyone to consult a health professional for guidance around cleansing and detoxification, for individuals with the pre-existing conditions such as the above, getting appropriate guidance from your doctor or other qualified health professional is critical.

 

The bottom line is: a detox is not a quick fix. Cleansing and detoxification are natural processes that can be supported through dietary and lifestyle changes. Making small daily adjustments to encourage the body’s natural abilities to continue to detox can be a great start for long-term health and wellness!

If you’re ready to support your body’s detoxification process, you can download your copy of our 1-Week Detox Meal Plan today!

1-Week Detox Meal Plan