Posts tagged #health

Processed Foods May Kill of the Bacteria that Keep You Thin


Every time you eat a meal, you're not only feeding yourself, but the hundred trillion bacteria that thrive in your intestines. This colony of bacteria plays a huge role in health, and believe it or not, the bacteria in your gut influences your metabolism. Obesity once was a rarity, but the last few decades have seen an explosion of weight gain. Recent studies have shown obesity to be associated with a shift in the bacteria in the gut.  Alterations in the gut bacteria can impact your metabolism. But How? Gut microbes alter the signalling pathways in the gut, effecting the inflammation pathway, encouraging insulin resistance (pre-disposing for diabetes) and depositing energy as fat storage. 

Junk food & Your Gut

You are what you eat, and so are the bacteria that live in your intestines.  A study in Nature magazine illustrated how incredibly fast (3-4 days) the human gut can change after a shift in what you eat. Imagine how junk food can effect your gut microbiota.  Studies have shown that beneficial bacteria are in more abundance in a high fiber diet, and are drastically different with a western diet.

What Does This Mean For You?

Since all of those bugs in your intestine can be either helpful or harmful, it's important to reconsider what you are eating. Not only do we eat to ensure that we have the best health possible, but also to propagate a healthy microbiota.  Eating a purely western diet--high in animal products, low in fiber, high in fats--encourages a completely different microbiome than one that is high in fiber, fruits and vegetables and low in processed food. The best mantra is to eat food with a purpose, on purpose. As for treats, they're just that--treats, and not all you eat.

Posted on May 21, 2015 .

Losing Sleep & Gaining Weight (Its a Lose-Lose!)

Sleep is vital for optimal daily function and overall health. Losing as little as 30 minutes of sleep per day can have long term health consequences for both body weight and metabolism according to a new study

It's well known that sleep deprivation is associated with obesity and diabetes, but this latest study shows that even a mild sleep debt of only 30 minutes can have a significant effect on your metabolism.  This additive sleep dept may lead to insulin and blood sugar disruption, causing a predisposition to (or exacerbation of) type 2 diabetes.

What can you do to get better sleep?

  • Avoid long naps during the day, it can disturb the normal pattern of sleep/wake cycle (power naps may be beneficial)
  • Avoid stimulants, such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol close to bed time. Alcohol is known to speed the onset of sleep, but it disrupts sleep in the second half of the night as the body metabolizes the alcohol
  • Avoid large meals close to bedtime
  • Establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine
  • Turn off all electronics and turn down lights 2 hours before bed, as these disrupt melatonin production
  • Exercise regularly. People who exercise regularly are more likely to sleep better (even adding a 10 minute walk improves the likelihood of a good night's rest)

Why Eat Organic?

There are many reasons to eat organic, not just for the health of the person eating organic foods, but also for the health of the planet.  By choosing organic, or at least avoiding the foods that are most heavily sprayed with pesticides, you can reap the following benefits:

You will dramatically reduce your daily intake of pesticides.  Conventionally used pesticides are neurotoxins and can contribute to poor cognitive function, poor sensory/motor function, and fatigue.

You will be getting more nutrients from the food that you eat.  Organic farming operations usually use more sustainable farming practices which help to stop soil erosion and preserve the nutrient content of the soil so that it can better sustain life.

You can positively impact the ecosystems in which farming takes place.  Chemicals that are sprayed on conventionally grown crops do not stay on the crop but can run off into the water and effect not only the fish, but every organism that feeds off that water 

You are helping out the people who grow the food.  The toxic effects of pesticides are much greater than in the general public because they are dealing with them in greater amounts.  Also, by reducing the demand for conventional produce by choosing farmers  that don’t rely on pesticides and genetically modified seed.

You are avoiding the antibiotics, growth enhancing hormones, and other medications given to conventionally raised feed animals.  Because animals are raised eating corn and are raised in unsanitary environments, many medications are needed in order to keep these animals from becoming sick. 

By buying less conventionally grown produce you are not just helping yourself by decreasing you  intake of pesticides but you are also voting for a more sustainable system of food production for the whole world.


Posted on February 4, 2015 .

How to Deal with the Long, Dark Days of Winter

In the wintertime, the days are short with the sun setting before you get home from work or school.  Add to this the days that are cloudy and you have a winter that can be depressing.  If the winter weather is getting you down, here are some things that you can do:

  •  Supplement with Vitamin D:  This is an important hormone that your body makes in your skin when it is exposed to sunlight.  Some of the important things that vitamin D can affect are mood, the immune system, calcium absorption, heart health, and fertility. Check with your health care provider before starting supplementation (Vitamin D is a hormone, and too much or too little can cause problems).
  • Exercise: A solid exercise regimen has been show to be as effective as anti-depressant medications (SSRIs) in decreasing the symptoms of depression.  A fun way to incorporate exercise is to join a local community sports team or find some other form of exercise that you enjoy doing like hiking, cycling, skiing, or swimming. 
  • Replace Deficient Nutrients:  There are quite a few nutritional factors that can set somebody up for depression.  These include inadequate protein intake, and deficiencies in vitamin C, B-vitamins, folic acid, essential fatty acids, or trace minerals.  Women who are taking birth control pills can have lower levels of the above nutrients because they are used up during the metabolism of the hormones.  Deficiencies of the above nutrients can also affect the synthesis of neurotransmitters in the brain, as well as the production of energy in the body. You can be tested to determine which specific nutrients you may be deficient or sub-optimal in.
  • Meditate. Meditation has been shown to improve mood, decrease inflammation and normalize stress hormones. A simple act of closing your eyes for 1 minute with deep breaths has major benefits! 
Posted on January 11, 2015 .

Happy Healthy Halloween: Tricks and Treats

Halloween is one of the most anticipated events of the year for children. However, for those children with food allergies, trick or treating can be frustrating and even dangerous. Food Allergy Research & Education is raising awareness and encouraging teal pumpkins to be placed outside homes that offer non-food treats for kids with allergies.
Ideas for non-food treats:

Flickr Creative Commons

Flickr Creative Commons

Ideas for non-food treats:

  • Tattoos
  • Glow Sticks
  • Bubbles
  • Silicone Wristbands 
  • Mini play-dough containers
  • Halloween pencils & crayons
  • Witch fingers or spider rings
  • Shoe laces

In addition to food allergies, there's another reason to keep the candy to a minimum; candy has empty calories and is lacking in any significant nutritional value. Want to hand out some fun healthy options instead? 

  • Cutie Tangerines
  • Raisins
  • Real Fruit Strips/Leather
  • Apple sauce snack packs
  • Granola bars
  • Juice boxes/packs

Get creative! Check out my pinterest page and other Pinterest boards for lots of fantastic ideas!

Posted on October 22, 2014 .