Foods to Ease Anxiety

Did you know that some foods will help ease anxiety and encourage “feel good” hormones in your brain (ie. serotonin)? With the hectic, busy lives we live these days, it is helpful to know what foods help you reduce anxiety and support your immune system for your best health.

Here’s a list:

Walnuts – high heart healthy fats, magnesium and Omega 3s

Oatmeal – a regular serving actually changes brain chemistry and activates serotonin. Also helps combat pain and bring on calm feelings. Not to mention the bonus of fiber since it is a complex carbohydrate.

Bananas – this fruit improves the transportation of tryptophan into the brain to be converted to serotonin

Salmon – Not only full of Omega 3s, but is rich in tryptophan (a precursor to serotonin)

Spinach – Nutrient dense powerhouse. A mood booster rich in magnesium, a natural way to relieve tension and relax muscles

Chia Seeds – touted as a tryptophan powerhouse. These little seeds help boost mood and promote restful sleep. Easy to sprinkle on salads, add to smoothies, and to garnish meats.

Perhaps some of these were a surprise to you, or perhaps you knew them all. Oatmeal was the one that I didn’t expect because I always focus on eating it for it’s fiber content. Find ways to include these in your daily eating and you will reap the benefits of less anxiety and a healthier body.

source: The Trails Mix July 2019 issue 146

Servin’ the side dish: Asparagus

This post is aimed at giving you new ideas to make vegetables interesting and tasty again. Whether it be for kids or your significant other, Asparagus is worth a second look. Here’s why:

a 1/2 cup serving delivers folate, vitamin C and iron. Plus 1/2 days worth of Vitamin K, which helps absorb Vitamin C.

Here are some ways to mix it up using asparagus:

  • Steam until bright green and slightly crispy. Overcooking them makes them limp and bland green, much less tasty.
  • Chop spears into bite sized pieces and add to a stir fry or fried rice recipe
  • Dredge spears in flour, dip into beaten egg, then roll in breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until golden. Or throw coated spears in your air fryer until golden brown.
  • Cut spears and cook in microwave for 3 minutes until slightly tender, then toss with rice or pasta, sprinkle with butter and shredded cheese.
  • Include lightly steamed asparagus with greek yogurt dip as a veggie tray snack for events or while doing homework/work before dinner.

resource: 7 Foods Your Kid Doesn’t Like (yet), Parenting Magazine, May 2019 modified by eatlivefit.net

Sugary Drinks plus Sitting are Metabolism Killer

Several recent studies are looking into how sitting still for hours (ie. work) and combinations of lifestyle choices have on our bodies. Here is a great example of how the combination of more than one influence can have an impact on our overall health. This article was posted recently to That Sugar Film’s website and is worth the read.

“As tasty as they may be, any joy gleaned from drinking these beverages is momentary, with the impact to the body significant and enduring if you are knocking these back on a regular basis.

It is well documented that excess sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) consumption is correlated with weight gain,1 and a few sips provide a sugar high from which we soon come crashing down, only to crave more.

Beyond these, there are other impacts on the body we should be concerned about.

Sugary drinks and metabolic function
A recent review noted that one SSB a week, such as a can of soft drink, could raise blood pressure. Two cans increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This is because sugary drinks provide large doses of quickly accessed added sugars, such as fructose and glucose, which the body has to work hard to rapidly metabolise. This places immense strain on body organs and systems. Long-term, this may lead to various issues with health, including cardiometabolic diseases such as heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes.

Individuals may experience metabolic syndrome, a cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure, abdominal weight gain, increased blood triglycerides, decreased HDL (‘good’) cholesterol, and insulin resistance.

To further add to this growing area of research, a recent trial undertaken by the Baker’s Institute2 studied the impact of sugary drinks on the metabolic function of the body in a ‘real world’ situation, where prolonged sitting with no activity and up to 750ml of soft drink consumed between meals each day is common.

The study
The small, randomised control trial took 28 overweight and soft drink sipping participants, aged 19-30 years, and compared the impact two sugary drinks had on blood glucose and lipid metabolism with water consumption. The drinks were taken after breakfast and lunch at mid-morning and mid-afternoon.

The researchers found when sugary drink consumption was combined with 7-hours of sitting, circulating fatty acids and triglycerides levels were reduced, indicating suppressed lipid metabolism. Simultaneously, blood glucose and insulin levels were significantly elevated.

What does this mean for us?

“The acute metabolic effects outlined in this study are very worrying and suggest that young, overweight people who engage in this type of lifestyle are setting themselves on a path toward chronic cardiometabolic disease,” says senior study author Professor Bronwyn Kingwell.

“This highlights significant health implications both for individuals and our healthcare system.”3

The moral of this sweetened and seated story? Sugary drinks are not required in the human diet. Regular overconsumption of added sugars can increase the risk for weight gain and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, liver and heart disease.

So, sub them out for water (sparkling or plain, and maybe infused with fresh slices of fruit) and make sure you move regularly throughout each day to reduce the risk of some pretty serious health conditions.”

By Angela Johnson (BHSc Nut. Med.)

References

  1. World Health Organization 2015, Sugars intake for adults and children: Guideline, viewed 31 October 2018, <https://www.who.int/elena/titles/ssbs_adult_weight/en/&gt;
  2. Varsamis, P et. al 2018, “Between-meal sucrose-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glycaemia and lipid metabolism during prolonged sitting: A randomized controlled trial,” Clinical Nutrition Journal, viewed 31 October 2018, <https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(18)32392-6/&gt;
  3. Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute 2018, Study reveals the damaging metabolic effects for inactive, young, obese people who consume soft drink regularly, media release, Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute, 17 September, viewed 31 October 2018, <https://www.baker.edu.au/news/media-releases/soft-drink-metabolic&gt;

Note of Motivation

Many of you set new goals as you began the new year and right about now, the newness is most likely wearing off. It may even feel too difficult to carry on. The comfort zone may be coming back to haunt you, teasing you to come back. Don’t let it creep back in! You started a new path and to see change, you need to keep keepin’ on!

Shake Off The Holiday Weight And Get Healthy Again

Welcome back from the holidays!  With 2019 knocking on the door, now is the best time to get working on getting back into shape and healthy.  Found a great article about the value of gut health and it’s impact on your overall health.  Read on..

“…I see a common theme among most of (my patients around the word)them: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to lose weight. And sadly, this is not just in my experience. The obesity epidemic continues to worsen; a shocking 38 percent of us are struggling with obesity and 33 percent of us are overweight! Those numbers are only expected to rise, so I”t’s clear that what we’re doing isn’t working. Despite having the most gyms, workout videos, diets, weight loss pills, and potions, we are the sickest, most overweight generation in human history.

So what’s the deal with weight gain?

I have previously written about the impact of stress, hormonal imbalances, toxins, viruses, poor diet, and inflammation on our weight, but one often overlooked factor is the microbiome. Essentially, the microbiome is a universe living inside of you, composed of trillions of bacteria. Sound gross? Well, you wouldn’t be alive without them. Your immune system, brain, and mood are all largely controlled by your microbiome, and we are constantly discovering more connections between gut health and weight. I, too, find that many patients are not able to lose weight until they deal with their underlying gut problems—so my goal is to get them healthy to lose weight rather than lose weight to get healthy. Here are the ways your gut can make it seem impossible to lose weight:

1. Bacterial imbalance

Think of your microbiome as a big city. The “microbiome metropolis” is filled with different “cities” or bacterial colonies. And strong diversity of your healthy probiotics is needed for optimal health and metabolism. Research has found that people who are overweight and obese have lower microbiome diversity. People with weight loss resistance also tend to have a lower amount of Bacteroides, Verrucomicrobia, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and a higher amount of Actinobacteria and Firmicutes.

2. Gut-sleep connection

Your sleepy-time hormone (melatonin) is made in the brain—but there’s also a lot of it in your gut! And the health of the bacteria in your gut is essential for healthy melatonin levels. In short, an unhealthy microbiome will mess up your sleep. The problem? Losing out on sleep can make fat cells 30 percent less able to deal with your fat-storing hormone, insulin.

3. Short-chain fatty acid levels

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) get made in your gut as a result of bacterial fermentation. In short, the bacteria also feed off of the food you eat and they make SCFAs, which are really important because they prevent gut problems like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Research is finding that our SCFAs also promote weight loss and the three types of SCFAs (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) all decrease cravings.

4. Leaky gut syndrome

Studies have shown that people with markers of leaky gut syndrome also had increased levels of fat and a larger waist circumference, which suggests that intestinal permeability can increase fat around our organs and contribute to metabolic syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome can also lead to increased blood-brain barrier permeability (leaky brain), and this low-grade brain inflammation can further complicate losing weight by messing up our hormone balance.

Your gut health game plan:

1. Consider gut labs

You don’t have to be experiencing gut symptoms to have an underlying gut problem. By running functional medicine labs to assess for leaky gut syndrome, SIBO, candida overgrowth, and short-chain fatty acids, we can find out what’s really going on in your gut.

2. Increase your bacterial diversity

Probiotics are a great tool to balance your microbiome, and a combination of bifidobacteria, enterococcus, and lactobacillus has been shown to have a positive effect on small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. I am also a fan of soil-based probiotics to further broaden the varieties of microbes in your gut. Probiotics work by influencing the balance of the microbiome and encouraging healthy bacterial populations. Eating a variety of fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, and coconut kefir also offer different bacterial strains, promoting healthy bacterial diversity.

3. Promote healthy short-chain fatty levels

SCFAs are made when you eat healthy prebiotic and high-fiber foods. Load up on nutrient-dense leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and watercress and other super plant foods! If you need to increase the fat-burning butyrate, I suggest bringing Hi-Maize Resistant Starch into your diet to boost butyrate in your large intestine. Hydroxymethyl butyrate can also be supplemented.”

                                                                – reference to Dr. Mirkin’s Ezine Newsletter 2018

Reach out if you are ready to learn more about gut bacteria or want to design a plan for your own healthy start to 2019 and the rest of your life.  eatlivefit@hotmail.com

Fruit Juice Myth

Fruit juices like grape juice and apple juice are touted to be healthy alternatives to eating the whole fruit.  I have even seen fruit juice concentrates in more products lately as the food industry tries to keep up with our demands to eat healthier.  Don’t be fooled, fruit juices are just NOT as “healthy” as you may think.

If you’re avoiding soda due to the astronomically high sugar content but replacing it with popular fruit juices, I have some bad news. Most fruit juices out there contain tons of sugar.   While many of them boast “no added sugar,” drinking too much of even the most naturally sourced sugars can impact your health the same way drinking a can of Coke.  Here’s an example, a cup of Welch’s 100% Grape Juice brings 36 grams of sugar, while 10 ounces of Minute Maid Apple Juice has 32 grams, each with more sugar than plenty of your favorite sweet treats, like a York Peppermint Pattie (26 grams) and a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar with Almonds, with 19 grams.  Yes, the source of sugar is different than a spoonful of sugar, however, these drinks are missing the most important nutrients found in a regular orange, fiber and vitamins.  So, before you reach for a fruit juice alternative or hand your child that sippy cup full of juice, be aware that a little is fine each day, but it needs to be consumed in moderation.  Grab an apple or a handful of grapes instead.