Classic Pot Roast

Classic Pot Roast

Two Glasses with Detox Green Smoothie

For many people a pot roast is reminiscent of Sunday dinners with the family.

A few minutes spent in the morning, or the night before, on prep and it can sit in your crockpot or Instapot so you will be rewarded with a lovely meal at the end of the day.

Round out your meal by adding in a tossed salad, or some steamed broccoli – and dinner is on the table in a flash, with built in leftovers for lunches! This roast is even better the next day.

As we discuss in depth in our Nutrition Simplified article, consuming all four macronutrients – complex carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and fibre – at each meal is a foundational concept for a healthy diet. With this recipe, we wanted to highlight how truly simple (and comforting, and delicious!) eating macronutrient balanced meals can be.

Root Vegetables such as carrots provide a source of complex carbohydrates within this dish. Complex carbohydrates are important sources of energy for our bodies.

Beef provides complete proteins needed by the body. If possible, look for grass fed beef because they tend to be leaner and therefore, contain less calories. Proteins help build, repair, and maintain our body’s tissues, plus they make the antibodies that boost our immune system, fight infections, carry oxygen throughout the body, boost metabolism, and reduce food cravings.

Olive oil provides a source of healthy fats, primarily monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). MUFAs are known to be heart-healthy and has benefits such as improved cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and reduced risk of heart disease. Including healthy fats in a meal increases satiety, and helps you feel fuller for longer.

Of course, beef contains fats as well; and if you have chosen a grass fed animal product, you’ll be getting even more healthy fats! Grass fed beef tend to contain lower amounts of saturated fats and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats, and higher amounts of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats such as Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA).

Onions contain about an equal amount of soluble and insoluble fibres. Generally speaking, fibre helps faciliate regular bowel movements and providing an important source of fuel for the good bacteria in our guts. Specifically, soluble fibre acts similarly to a “sponge” soaking up water and toxins to carry them out of the body; and insoluble fibre acts almost like a “broom”, sweeping food along the digestive tract to keep it moving.

Lastly of note, cinnamon helps balance blood sugar by lowering insulin resistance.

A pot roast might seem like an indulgent comfort-meal. But, with these healthy ingredients, balanced macronutrients, and simple crock-pot preparation… you can’t go wrong! We hope you enjoy this.

Classic Pot Roast

For many people a pot roast is reminiscent of Sunday dinners with the family. A few minutes spent in the morning, or the night before, on prep and it can sit in your crockpot or instapot so you will be rewarded with a lovely meal at the end of the day.

Ingredients
  

  • 3-4 lbs roast ideally grass feed, chuck or round
  • 1 lbs carrots peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 2 sweet vidalia or yellow onions roughly chopped
  • 1 lbs root vegetables of choice golden beets, parsnips, or turnip all work
  • 2 stalks celery cut into 2" chucks (optional)
  • 2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-2 tsp sea salt to taste
  • 1 tsp pepper freshly ground is best
  • 1 tsp dried thyme optional
  • 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon optional
  • 4 cloves garlic thinly sliced
  • 2 cups beef broth or bone broth
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp starch arrowroot or tapioca work well
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • ½ cup parsley chopped (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Combine salt, pepper and dried spices. Season roast with spice blend on all sides.
  • Optional - Heat oil in a skillet. Sear the roast, browning each side for 4 – 5 minutes. Searing helps seal in the moisture, though if you are pressed for time, you can skip this step with little loss of flavour.
  • To your slow cooker add carrots, onions, root vegetables, celery (if using), and garlic.
  • Place meat on top of vegetables in the crock pot, then add the broth and balsamic vinegar. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.
  • After 8 hours, pour off the liquid, through a mesh strainer, and into a medium pot. Heat over medium-high heat, bringing to a simmer.
  • In a small bowl combine water and starch, mixing to blend smooth. Add starch mixture to the medium pot, stirring to blend and thicken the gravy.
  • Pour gravy over beef and vegetables and serve. Enjoy!
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/ 

 

4 Herbs To Help With Menopause

4 Herbs To Help With Menopause

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

Managing the symptoms of menopause can be a very challenging time for women. During menopause the common symptoms experienced by women include hot flashes, insomnia, night sweats, reduced sexual drive, decreased bone density, weight gain as well as changes to mood. Experiencing these symptoms can be very disruptive to daily life and as a result, women across cultures have long searched for remedies for these intrusive symptoms. This article will focus on plant-based teas and supplements, and what the current research says about their potential to help manage menopause-related symptoms. 

Evening Primrose Oil

Evening primrose oil (EPO) is a common supplement used by menopausal women to address their symptoms. EPO is extracted from the seeds of the evening primrose plant and has been shown to have many health benefits. The reason health professionals believe it is beneficial for women’s health, including the management of menopause symptoms, has to do with its high concentration of healthy fatty acids. To learn more about how healthy fats help regulate menopause symptoms, take a look at our article about Nutrition Strategies To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms.   

Specifically, EPO has become popular for its treatment of hot flashes. In a 2013 study, 56 menopausal women were provided with two daily EPO supplements for six weeks. The study showed that there was improvement in hot flash severity, and a smaller improvement in frequency, and duration of hot flashes (1). It is hypothesized that EPO produces these effects by lowering blood pressure, however more research is needed to test this hypothesis. The research on EPO however is mixed, as a 2010 literature review concluded that other the counter medication include EPO does not have consistent evidence to support its effectiveness in hot flash management (2).

Most often EPO supplements come in the form of a capsule. Check with a qualified health professional to see if this would be appropriate for you.

Ginseng Tea

Ginseng typically refers to the root of a group of related slow-growing plants. This herb has been used in traditional medicines for centuries for its various health benefits such as strengthening the immune system, regulating blood sugars, and assisting in the management of menopausal symptoms. 

In one study, 72 women were supplemented with ginseng daily for 12 weeks. Afterwards, the women had improved scores on the menopausal symptom questionnaires including the Kupperman Index and Menopause Rating Scale (3). These questionnaires focus on vasomotor symptoms, such as hot flashes and flushes, as well as mood symptoms such as nervousness and depression. As a result of daily ginseng supplementation, the women also showed other health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels (3). 

Ginseng has been shown to not only be effective in the management of menopause symptoms, but also in managing the functional implications of these symptoms. Menopausal women often report lower libido and poorer sexual experiences. One study evaluated how ginseng supplementation improved sexual function for menopausal women. 31 participants received three ginseng capsules daily. This supplementation significantly improved self-reported scores of sexual function and arousal, indicating that ginseng may be an effective alternative medicine for improving the sexual life of menopausal women (4).

Ginseng can be taken as a supplement in the form of a tablet or can be consumed as a tea, although with teas it is difficult to know if you are receiving a therapeutic dose. Before taking ginseng, you should speak with your family physician or naturopathic doctor to ensure there are no possible interactions with any medications you may be taking, such as medications to lower your blood sugar, or particular classes of antidepressants.

Red Clover

Red clover is an herbaceous flower that historically has been used to help manage varying health conditions including menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, night sweats, low bone density, and also has positive effects on high cholesterol. The reason red clover is believed to be effective at managing these symptoms is because it contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are molecules made in plants, that have a similar chemical composition to estrogen, which declines in women during menopause. To read more about phytoestrogens and why they may be recommended for menopausal women, check out our menopause article.

The evidence for the effectiveness of red clover in managing menopause symptoms is mixed. In one study, 177 menopausal women took supplementation of red clover phytoestrogens for 12 months. Bone density was found to be significantly higher in the group that took the red clover supplement compared to the placebo group (5). In another study, 60 menopausal women received red clover supplement for 90 days. Women who received the supplement showed improved scores on the Kupperman Index and experienced decreased menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats (6).

While the above studies demonstrate positive results, a broad-scope literature review found that red clover appears to “have at best only minimal effect on menopausal symptoms” (7). The apparent mixed results in the literature demonstrates that if you, your loved one, or your client, is wishing to try red clover supplementation for management it’s a good idea to check with your health professional to make sure this is the right fit for you! 

Black Cohosh

One of the most popular supplements for women’s health is black cohosh. Black cohosh is a flowering plant that has been shown to have multiple benefits for women’s health including the management of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), improving the effectiveness of fertility, improving menstrual cycle regulation, and managing menopause symptoms. It can be taken either as a tablet or made into a tea.

Similar to red clover, black cohosh contains phytoestrogens, which are thought to mimic the actions of estrogen in the human body, and therefore mitigate symptoms related to menopause. One study enrolled 80 menopausal women to receive black cohosh supplement for 8 weeks. This trial showed that black cohosh was able to reduce both the severity and frequency of hot flashes (8). Not surprisingly, these study participants reported that when taking the supplement their quality of life increased as well, likely due to their better managed symptoms (8).

In a separate study of 174 women, 32 received black cohosh supplementation while 143 received menopausal hormonal therapy. Both groups showed improved menopausal symptoms indicating that black cohosh supplementation may be a feasible alternative for menopausal women, in place of hormonal therapy (9).

In addition to the physical symptoms of menopause, consuming black cohosh also has benefits for the mental health of menopausal women. A recent systematic review recently examined a variety of herbal medicines for their efficacy on managing symptoms of depression and anxiety. With supplementation of black cohosh, the authors noted a reduction in psychological symptoms associated with depression and anxiety in menopausal women (10).   

In Summary

While there are many herbal medicines with evidence to support menopausal symptoms, it is important to always consider potential complicating factors, such as other medications you may be taking. Before consuming any herbal medicines, it is smart to speak with your health care professional, such as a naturopathic doctor about what is best for you. Whether it be through a tablet supplement or an herbal tea, herbal medicines may be a helpful solution for better managing your symptoms related to menopause. 

 

References 

  1. Farzaneh, F., Fatehi, S., Sohrabi, M., & Alizabdeh, K. (2013). The effect of oral evening primrose oil on menopausal hot flashes: a randomized clinical trial. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 288, 1075-1079. doi: 10.1007/s00404-013-2852-6
  2. Kelley, K., & Carroll, D. (2010). Evaluating the evidence for over-the-counter alternative for relief of hot flashes in menopausal women. Journal of the American Pharmacies Association, 50(5), 106-115. doi: 10.1331/JAPhA.2010.09243
  3. Kim, S., Seo, S., Choi, Y.M., Jeon, Y., Lim, K., Cho, S., Choi, Y.S., & Lee, B. (2012). Effects of red ginseng supplementation on menopausal symptoms and cardiovascular risk factors in postmenopausal women: a double-blind randomized controlled trial.  Menopause, 19(4), 461-466. doi: 10.1097/gme0b013e3182325e4b
  4. Oh, K., Chae, M., Lee, H., Hong, H., & Park, K. (2010). Effects of Korean Red Ginseng on Sexual Arousal in Menopausal Women: Placcebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Crossover Clinical Study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(4), 1469-1477. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01700.x
  5. Atkinson, C., Compston, J., Day, N., Dowsett, M., & Bingham, S. (2004). The effects of phytoestrogen isoflavones on bone density in women: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trail. The American Jounral of Clinical Nutrition, 79(2), 326-333. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/79.2.326
  6. Hidalgo, L., Chedraui, P., Morocho, N., Ross, S., & Migeul, G. (2005). The effect of red clover isoflavones on menopausal symptoms, lipids and vaginal cytology in menopausal women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Gynecological Endocrinology, 21(5), 257-264. doi: 10.1080/09513590500361192.
  7. Geller, S., & Studee, L. (2007). Botanical Dietary Supplements for Menopausal Symptoms: What Works, What Doesn’t. Journal of Women’s Health, 14(7), 634-649. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2005.14.634
  8. Mehrpooya, M., Rabiee, S., Larki-Harchegani, A., Fallahian, A., Moradi, A., Ataei, S., & Javad, M. (2018). A comparative study of the effect of “black cohosh” and “evening primose oil” on menopausal hot flashes. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 1(7), 36-38. doi: 10.4103/jehp.jehp_81_17.
  9. Friederichsen, L., Nebel, S., Zahner, C., Butikofer, L., & Stute, P. (2020). Effect of CIMicifuga racemose on metabolic parameters in women with menopausal symptoms: a retrospective observational study (CIMBOLIC). Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 301(2), 517-523. doi: 10.1007/s00404-019-05366-8.
  10. Shahmohammadi, A., Ramezanpour, N., Siuki, M., Dizavandi, F., Ghazanfarpour, M., Rahmani, Y., … & Babakhanian, M. (2019). The efficacy of herbal medicines on anxiety and depression in peri- and postmenopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Post Reproductive Health, 25(3), 131-141. doi: 10.1177/2053369119841166.
Nutrition Support To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms

Nutrition Support To Help Manage Your Menopause Symptoms

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

The word menopause is often perceived as a daunting word to many women. By definition, menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her body stops menstruating. Specifically, menopause is confirmed 12 months after her final period. However, this is a simple definition, as the symptoms associated with menopause can last for years. Most commonly, symptoms include weight gain, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, changes to mood, and changes in muscle composition. These symptoms are mainly triggered by decreased levels of estrogen and progesterone.

Throughout adult life these hormones are responsible for regulating processes such as menstruation and pregnancy. They are also responsible for developing feminine physical characteristics such as wide hips and breasts during puberty. These hormones are also known to work with neurotransmitters to provide an overall mood boost. However, during menopause the decline in these hormones leads directly to symptoms that many women find challenging to navigate. This article will walk you through helpful nutrition tips to help manage these symptoms, so you can stay focused on life’s important activities! 

Top 5 Nutrition Tips To Help Manage Menopause Symptoms

Have Healthy Fats

If you are experiencing weight gain as a symptom of menopause, consuming fatty foods is likely something you are avoiding. However, recent research shows that including healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids, in your diet may be beneficial for women currently managing menopause.

One meta-analysis reviewed multiple studies which had a total of 438 menopausal women participate. Supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids was found to reduce both the frequency and severity of night sweats (1). It is important to note that there was no conclusive evidence found for the reduction of hot flashes or weight gain. So, while more research is needed, incorporating more healthy fats into your diet may be something you should consider if you are experiencing menopausal night sweats. 

Commonly, omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish such as salmon and mackerel, and seeds such as chia, flaxseed, and hemp seeds. If you are looking for inspiration on how to incorporate more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet, check out our recipe page. Our One Pot Mediterranean Mackerel Pasta is loaded omega-3 fatty acids to best support you! 

Pick Phytoestrogens

While the term phytoestrogen may sound intimidating, it is actually referring to estrogen compounds that are produced naturally by plants (instead of being produced by the human body). These plant-based compounds mimic the effect of estrogen in our body, but to a much weaker extent. This can be helpful at managing symptoms during menopause, when our natural estrogen levels are declining. The most well-known source of phytoestrogen comes from the soybean; however, they are also found in chickpeas, berries, flaxseeds, grapes, and more.

There has been controversy about the potential negative effects associated with the consumption of phytoestrogens, as it has been suggested that they can disrupt our body’s hormone balance. However, research points to the conclusion that in moderate levels there is unlikely to be any resulting negative impacts in humans (2). The same research alludes that it would take significant highly levels of consumption of phytoestrogens to have any toxic effect (2).

One research study examined 51 menopausal women who were provided with a high phytoestrogen diet over six weeks. The participants showed a decreased in symptoms including hot flashes, night sweats, and flushing (3).

Try this delicious Flaxseed Pudding Parfait as an excellent breakfast or snack option to help you incorporate more phytoestrogens into your diet! 

Consume More Fruits And Vegetables

Everyone recognizes fruits and vegetables as a healthy component of our diet, so it likely comes as no surprise that these foods are beneficial for supporting the symptoms of menopause. Fruits and vegetables are packed with a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber which benefit all of our bodily systems, including our endocrine system, the system responsible for our hormone levels.

There is no shortage of evidence supporting the increase in dietary intake of fruits and vegetables in menopausal women. The Women’s Health Initiative Dietary Modification trial evaluated the diet of an impressive 17,473 women in the united states. This diet modification included the reduction of unhealthy fats, and the increase of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, for one year. Results showed that this diet was correlated with weight loss, and a reduction in hot flashes and night sweats (4). Even more fascinating is that women who lost >10% of their baseline body weight had higher likelihood of reducing their other symptoms including hot flashes and night sweats (4). 

Even fruit and vegetable supplements, have been shown to be effective for helping menopausal women manage their symptoms. In one study, 91 menopausal women grape seed oil tablet supplements for 8 weeks. The participants a significant reduction in hot flashes and insomnia, as well as improved mood and increased muscle mass (5).

As we try to fit fruits and vegetables into our daily meals, coming up with creative recipes can be challenging. For new inspiration, check out our Cauliflower, Kale, and Lentil soup for a fresh way to get your fruits and vegetables.

Eat More Quality Proteins (Including Eggs)

Menopausal women are likely to experience a decrease in muscle mass and bone density secondary to their declining estrogen levels (6). Therefore, it is important for menopausal women to include in their diet, food that will keep their bones and muscles strong, such as protein. Protein is found in eggs, lean meat, fish, and vegetables such as beans and lentils. Protein supplements have also become a popular way for individuals to increase their protein consumption.

One study examined 131 postmenopausal women who took daily protein supplements for 1 year. Individuals who took the supplements, compared to a placebo, had significantly better bone mineral density (7). Another study found that daily protein consumption showed promise for preventing age-related muscle loss (8). 

One way to incorporate more protein into your daily diet is to consider eating eggs for breakfast. Our Spinach Scramble with Fruit is an excellent source of protein (and fruit)! 

Say No To Sugar

Consuming high amounts of sugar isn’t recommended for anyone, however avoiding sugar, specifically refined sugar, has extra benefits for menopausal women. Of course, eating refined sugars leads to sharp rises and declines in your blood sugar levels. While this is known to have a well-studied impact on mood, the link is even stronger for menopausal women. Evidence shows that women who had diets higher in refined carbs and sugars had a higher incidence of depression (9).

Additionally, menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes and night sweats, have been found to be associated with increases in blood sugar (10). Research also shows that menopausal women with diets high in refined sugar have poorer bone quality (11). 

For a sweet option low in refined sugar, take a look at our Raspberry Apple Crisp recipe! 

In Summary

The symptoms that come along with menopause can be challenging to cope with. However, research tells us that through dietary changes, it is possible to manage these symptoms. Filling your body with the good – such as healthy fats, phytoestrogens, fruits and vegetables, and proteins – while avoiding refined sugars may be able to help you, your loved one, or your client manage their menopausal symptoms.

 

References

  1. Mohammady, M., Janani, L., Jahanfar, S., & Mousavi, M. (2018). Effect of omega-3 supplements on vasomotor symptoms in menopausal women: A systematic review and meta-analysis. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 228, 295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.ejogrb.2018.07.008
  2. Patisaul, H., & Jefferson, W. (2010). The pros and cons of phytoestrogens. Frontier Neuroendocrinology, 31(4), 400-419. doi: 10.1016/j.yfrne.2010.03.003.
  3. Washburn, S., Burke, G., Morgan, T., & Anthony, M. (1999). Effect of soy protein supplementation on serum lipoporteins, blood pressure, and menopausal symptoms in perimenopausal women, Menopause, 6(1), 7-13. doi: 10100174.
  4. Kroenke, C., Caan, B., Stafanick, M., Anderson, G., Brzyski, R., Johnson, K., … & Wallace, R. (2012). Effects of a dietary intervention and weight change on vasomotor symptoms in the Women’s Health Initiative. Menopause, 19(9), 980-988. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e31824f606e
  5. Terauchi, M., Horiguchi, N., Kajiyama, A., Akiyoshi, M., Owa, Y., Kato, K., & Kubota, T. (2014). Effects of grape seed proanthocyanidin extract on menopausal symptoms, body composition, and cardiovascular parameter in middle-aged women: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. Menopause, 21(9), 990-996. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000200.
  6. Maltais, M., Desroches, J., & Dionne, J. (2009). Changes in muscle mass and strength after menopause. Journal of Musculoskeletal and Neuronal Interactions, 9(4). 186-197. doi: 19949277
  7. Konig, D., Oesser, S., Scharla, S., Zdzieblik, D., & Gollhofer, A. (2018). Specific collagen peptides improve bone mineral density and bone markers in postmenopausal women – a randomized controlled study. Nutrients, 10(1), 97-101. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097.
  8. Paddon-Jones, D., & Rasmussen, B. (2009). Dietary protein recommendations and the prevention of sarcopenia. Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 12(1), 86-90. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32831cef8b.
  9. Gangwisch, J., Hale, L., Garcia, L., Malaspina, D., Opler, M., Payne, M., … & Lane, D. (2015). High glycemic index diet as a risk factor for depression: analysis from the Women’s Health Initiative. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(2), 454-463. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.103846.
  10. Thurston, R., Khoudary, S., Sutton-Tyrrell, K., Crandall, C., Sternfeld, B., Joffe, H., … & Matthews, K. (2012). Vasomotor symptoms and insulin resistance in the study of women’s health across the nation. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 97(10), 3487-3494.
  11. Hardcastle, A., Aucott, L., Fraser, W., Reid, D., & Macdonald, H. (2010). Dietary patterns, bone resorption and bone mineral density in early post-menopausal Scottish women. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(3), 378-385. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2010.264
Is Ginseng Good For You?

Is Ginseng Good For You?

Detoxifying vegetables and fruits

What is Ginseng?

For thousands of years, ginseng has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of conditions. Because of its health benefits, it has been gaining in popularity in Western societies, as a main stream therapeutic food.

Ginseng has been shown to help lower blood sugar, lower cholesterol, reduce the risk of cancer, reduce stress, boost energy, and even to help manage sexual dysfunction in men. It can be easily chewed or added to your favourite tea, soup, or smoothie.

Ginseng is a type of slow-growing perennial plant. Ginseng contains two significant compounds: ginsenosides and gintonin. These compounds complement one another to provide health benefits such as inhibiting inflammation and increasing antioxidant capacity in cells. (1) 

Various other plants are mistaken for the ginseng root! Don’t be fooled by Siberian ginseng (Eleutherococcus senticosus) and crown prince ginseng (Pseudostellaria heterophylla). These are not the ginseng plants discussed in this article. The true ginseng plants are those that belong to the Panax genus.

There are many different types of ginseng: but the most popular are American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian ginseng (Panax ginseng). American and Asian ginseng vary in their concentration of active compounds and effects on the body. It is believed that American ginseng works as a relaxing agent, whereas the Asian variety has an invigorating effect (2, 3). 

But, what is ginseng good for?

Top 7 Health Benefits Of Ginseng

#1. Ginseng Helps To Lower Inflammation And Reduce Oxidative Stress

Ginseng, as well as many other herbs, have been shown to help lower inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in the body. Inflammation can create numerous health issues in the body including pain, headaches, cognitive problems, depression, anxiety and poor sleep.  Oxidative stress is when the body has too many free radicals circulating around the body and not enough antioxidants to combat this which results in damage to cells, tissues and organs.… Managing inflammation and oxidative stress are crucial in supporting a overall healthy body and brain (18). 

#2 Ginseng Improves Memory And Brain Function

The majority of people tend to have reduced ability to concentrate and remember things. In fact University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public and with reduced attention span there is more difficulty with memory. Ginseng has neuroprotective properties to help support healthy brain function! In fact, studies have shown that people who consume ginseng on a daily basis have improved memory quality and secondary memory (5). A 2016 study on the effects of Korean red ginseng on cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease with a median age of 75 years old provided the patients 4.5 grams of Korean red ginseng per day. After 12 weeks taking ginseng, the study showed that it helped to improve frontal brain lobe function (14).

For more strategies on improving memory, we’ve shared our Top 10 Brain Boosting Foods and tips for Improving Your Memory Through Nutrition.

#3. Ginseng Improves Erectile Dysfunction

Research has shown that ginseng may be a useful alternative for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men (6). Ongoing life stressors, toxins in our environment, hormone disruptions, and mental health concerns can all be contributing to problems in the bedroom. It seems that compounds in ginseng may protect against oxidative stress in blood vessels and tissues in the penis and help restore normal function (8).

One study found that men treated with Korean red ginseng had a 60% improvement in ED symptoms, compared to 30% improvement produced by a medication used to treat ED (9). Ginseng has been shown to raise testosterone levels, which is the hormone responsible for sex drive. This has been helpful in both male and female populations.

For more on improve sex drive and sexual dysfunction we’re written about our Top 5 Foods To Boost Your Libido and the Top 10 Health Benefits of Sex.

#4. Ginseng Can Help With Cancer

The recent stats show that 1 in 2 Canadians will get some form of cancer in their lifetime. So, anything we can do to help prevent or lower the risk of this occurring is important. Ginseng is one of many therapeutic foods that has been shown to support cancer prevention. A review of several studies concluded that people who take ginseng may have a 16% lower risk of developing cancer (10).

Ginseng may also help improve the health of patients undergoing chemotherapy by reducing side effects and enhancing the effect of some treatment drugs (16).

If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition and cancer you can check out our article listing 5 Nutrition Strategies For Cancer Prevention or our Top 6 Cancer Preventative Foods.

#5. Ginseng Boosts Energy Levels

We all need a pick me up now and again… and ginseng might just be the answer! Ginseng may help to  boost physical and mental energy in people who feel weak and tired. One study of 21 men and 69 women found that ginseng showed good results in helping people with chronic fatigue (11).

#6. Ginseng Supports Flu Prevention

We all know the importance of preventing the flu and other respiratory viruses, and ensuring strong and healthy lungs. Research on the effects of ginseng in mice suggests a possible link between ginseng and the treatment and prevention of influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) (12).

Another study also identified that red ginseng extract could help improve the survival of the cells that line the lungs that are infected with the influenza virus (13). Early evidence indicates that ginseng extract could enhance the effect of vaccinations against diseases like influenza, as well (15).

For more on supporting the immune system, we’ve written the following:

#7. Ginseng Assists with Balancing Blood Sugar Levels

Studies suggest that ginseng may help lower blood sugar and assist in the treatment of diabetes. Ginsenosides may affect insulin production in the pancreas and improve insulin resistance using other mechanisms.

One study showed taking 6 grams of Korean red ginseng for 12 weeks, along with the usual anti-diabetic medication or diet, in individuals with type 2 diabetes not only enabled participants to maintain balanced blood sugar levels, but they also had an 11% decrease in blood sugar levels, a 38% decrease in fasting insulin and a 33% increase in insulin sensitivity (17).  

Ginseng Risks

When planning to use ginseng, it’s important to make sure you find a legitimate supplier, as many online companies sell supplements that aren’t authentic, helpful, or effective.

Summary

So, whether you incorporate a ginseng tea into your morning routine, cut up some ginseng and put in your smoothies, or find a supplement that is right for you, your body and brain may love you for it!

References: 
1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24122014/ 
2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24467543/ 
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23717099/ 
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3659583 
5. https://www.salubrainous.com/ginseng-for-memory/ 
6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16855773/ 
7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24458001/ 
8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15005641/ 
9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8750052/ 
10. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27616903/ 
11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23613825/ 
12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4072342/ 
13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3297520/ 
14. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2015.0265?journalCode=acm& 
15. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8879982/ 
16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25347695/ 
17. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16860976/ 
18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24814037/