Shannon12

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

You may feel tired, cold, or that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”. You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.Image result for lack of sleep Why does this happen?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories). But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in, calories out”!  In fact, it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.
  • low thyroid hormone
  • history of dieting
  • body size and composition
  • activity level
  • lack of sleep
We'll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones, your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and when to become more metabolically active.   Ideally, it should work to keep your metabolism just right. However, there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course such as autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium). Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight, their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.  While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat, it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know, more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate. Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism. Muscles that actively move and do work, need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  Thismeans that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.Image result for slow metabolism Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter. Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instea d of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day. Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night.   

Now there's an excuse to eat chocolate pudding that's also a delicious thyroid-loving mineral-containing recipe for breakfast or dessert. Check out the recipe below.

Recipe (Selenium-rich): Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

(Serves 4)
  • ½ cup Brazil nuts
  • 2 cups water
  • nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  1. Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth.
  2. Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.
Serve & Enjoy!

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/ https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/ http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

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Shannon12

High-Vibe Chocolate Mousse Recipe

Guilt-free decadence...this dessert is about to blow your mind! It's thick and rich, full of chocolate flavor. Avocados are one of the healthiest foods you can add to your diet and can help lower bad cholesterol as well as  they are high in fiber, vitamin C and E, several B vitamins, and potassium (about 40% more than a banana). What's great about using avocados is that they add the creamy texture to any dessert or smoothie.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients (serves 1-2): 1 large ripe avocado (or 2 Haas) 1/4 cup raw cocoa powder 1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk 2 tsp stevia (or other natural sweetener) 1 tsp natural vanilla extract *For a spicy twist add 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp chili powder Optional ingredients: toasted sliced almonds, chia seeds, mixed berries, almond butter, cocoa nibs.

Directions:

  • Purée the avocado until smooth, you can use your blender :)
  • Mix together the cocoa powder and milk until combined and then add to the pureed avocado.
  • Stir in the stevia (or other natural sweetener), vanilla extract, and any extra ingredients.
  • Mix well. Taste, add more sweetener as needed.
  • Transfer the mousse to individual bowls and store in the fridge until ready to eat.

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Shannon12

Bye Bye, Sleeping Through the Night.

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day? Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!  

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it. Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind.  People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation.  And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills. Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!). OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect??? Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:
  • To restore our body and mind: our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.
  • To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  • To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day.
Do you know how much sleep adults need?  It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night.  For real! Try not to skimp! (Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)  

Tips for better sleep

  • The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it.  This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off.  I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.
  • Balance your blood sugar throughout the day by eating less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavored snack).  Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.
  • During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active, and alert.  By doing this during the day, it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.
  • Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing.  Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte.  Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).
  • Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time, and perhaps reading a real book or having a bath.
So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?   Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte Serves 1-2 Image result for caffeine free chai latte 1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free) 2 cups of boiling water 1 tablespoon tahini 1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred) 2 dates (optional)
  1. Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.
  2. Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.
  3. Blend until creamy.
  4. Serve and Enjoy!
*TipYou can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavor combination you like the best.  Cashew butter anyone?  

References:

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/hacking-sleep

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Shannon12

Losing Strength? This Hormone Can Help

Yes, we're talking testosterone, the muscle-building hormone.  I'm not going to recommend that you take any anabolic steroid hormones or anything like that. Here are two solid tips on how you can boost your testosterone levels naturally with supplements.

Tip #1: Get enough zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps with a number of processes in your body (it helps over 300 enzymes).  Zinc helps your immune system, helps to produce critical proteins and DNA, and also helps with wound healing.  Enough zinc is necessary to maintain healthy skin and for optimal ability to taste and smell.  Zinc is an antioxidant and can be supplemented to support optimal levels of testosterone because it helps the enzymes that converts cholesterol into testosterone. Zinc is found mostly in red meat, poultry, egg yolks, and shellfish; some plants can also provide zinc such as beans and nuts.  The best dietary source is oysters.

The daily recommended dose of zinc for men is 11 mg/day (for women it's 8 mg/day).  Low zinc levels are rare but tend to occur in vegetarians/vegans, athletes, and people who sweat a lot (zinc is lost in sweat).  Low zinc levels have been linked to low testosterone levels.

Of course if you don't get enough zinc in your diet you can always supplement.  Before you do, however, consider a few things:

  • It is possible to get too much zinc so unless your doctor tells you never take more than 40 mg/day. For many people just 5-10 mg/day is enough to prevent deficiency.
  • Zinc supplements can also interact with certain medications so be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist to find out if zinc supplements are safe for you.
  • Zinc supplements are best taken 2-hours away from any medications (if it's safe to use it at all while taking those medications) and should be taken with food.

Tip #2: Get enough vitamin D

Vitamin D, the “sunshine vitamin” is actually the most common nutrient that we in North America just simply don't get enough of.  Not only is it not very abundant in foods but most places far from the equator don't get enough sunlight to produce adequate levels year round. Hello winter; goodbye sunshine vitamin. Vitamin D is known to help us absorb calcium from our foods and is also necessary for our immune system, nervous system, and muscular system.  As with zinc, if you're deficient in this nutrient you may experience increased testosterone levels after supplementing. Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly associated with bone conditions such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is found in fatty fish, organ meats, and egg yolks.  Unfortunately it isn't abundant in most other non-fortified foods. The bottom line with vitamin D is that you may need to supplement. Of course if you're always outside in the sun or eat fatty fish every day, you may be the exception.  You can always ask your doctor to check your blood levels to be sure because vitamin D is another one of those nutrients where more is not always better. Here are a few tips to supplement with vitamin D safely and effectively:
  • Read your labels and don't overdo it. Never supplement with more than 4,000IU/day unless supervised by your doctor.
  • As with zinc (and most other supplements) you should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you're taking any medications.
  • Take your vitamin D with some fat to help your body absorb this vitamin. It is often recommended that you take it with the largest meal of the day.
  • Note that vitamin D is also found in cod liver oil, and multivitamins, so you may not need to take it separately (read your labels).

Summary:

If you aren't getting enough zinc and/or vitamin D every day your testosterone levels may be a bit low but don't overdo these two essential nutrients. Recipe (vitamin D and zinc): Honey Sesame Salmon  (Serves 4) 2-3 lbs salmon fillets ¼ cup soy sauce, tamari or coconut aminos ¼ cup sesame oil 1 lemon, juiced 2 tablespoons honey or coconut nectar 1” of ginger, shredded or 1 teaspoon ginger powder 1 tablespoon coconut oil 2 tablespoons diced green onions or chives 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Mix soy sauce/tamari/aminos, sesame oil, lemon juice, honey/coconut nectar and ginger together to make a marinade.
  • Place salmon in a glass dish and cover with marinade.  Let sit for a few hours or overnight.
  • Heat a large cast iron frying pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.
  • Place salmon in pan skin side down and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour marinade into the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
  • Sprinkle with diced green onions/chives and sesame seeds.
Serve and Enjoy! Tip:  Wild salmon can contain up to 4 times the amount of vitamin D as farmed salmon.  

References:

https://examine.com/nutrition/how-can-i-increase-testosterone-naturally/ http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/reference/table/ref_elements_tbl-eng.php http://thewellnessbusinesshub.com/yes-nutrient-deficiencies-heres-proof-can/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/ http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/atReq.do?atid=zinc.mono&lang=eng https://examine.com/supplements/Zinc/ https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/ http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=183&lang=eng https://examine.com/supplements/Vitamin+D/ https://authoritynutrition.com/8-ways-to-boost-testosterone/ https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show?ndbno=15087&fg=&man=&lfacet=&format=Abridged&count=&max=25&offset=0&sort=c&qlookup=&rptfrm=nl&nutrient1=328&nutrient2=309&nutrient3=&subset=0&totCount=5376&measureby=m https://authoritynutrition.com/9-foods-high-in-vitamin-d/  

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Shannon12

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong and it's Making You Fat and Tired

Everything You Think You Know About Healthy Eating is Wrong and it's Making You Fat and Tired

Oh my gosh – nutrition and diet info is everywhere! And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right? Well, maybe… Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because while this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health. Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.  

What you eat and drink

The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important.  Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we? You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat. Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness. Every day this is what you should aim for:
  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack. You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Enough protein. Making sure you get all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones). There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your uber-healthy salads.  Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don't need to overdo it here.  Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.

 

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink. Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought. Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues? Do you drink your food? When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”. Mindful eating means to take smaller bites, eat slowly, chew thoroughly, and savour every bite.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe. This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes. This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less.  Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Thought so! We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients. And don't forget about drinking your food. Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!) but drinking too much food can contribute to a weight problem and feelings of sluggishness. Don't get me wrong a green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack.  And don't gulp it down too fast. If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does try adding in a spoon of fiber like ground flax or chia seeds.  

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.   Recipe (Smoothie meal): Chia Peach Green Smoothie Serves 1 handful spinach 1 tablespoon chia seeds 1 banana 1 chopped peach 1 cup unsweetened almond milk Add ingredients to blender in order listed (you want your greens on the bottom by the blade so they blend better and have the chia on the bottom to absorb some liquid before you blend). Wait a couple of minutes for the chia seeds to start soaking up the almond milk. Blend, Serve and Enjoy!   Tip: Smoothies are the ultimate recipe for substitutions.  Try swapping different greens, fruit or seeds to match your preference. Bonus: Chia seeds not only have fiber and essential omega-3 fatty acids but they  contain all of the essential amino acids from protein.  

References:

  http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend   https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/   http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal   http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3061/2  

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Shannon12

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Three Ways to Avoid Overeating at Meals

Sometimes those holiday feasts are just amazing. And it's not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people, the decorations, and the ambiance. It is way too easy (and common) to indulge on those days. But it doesn't always stop there. Sometimes we overeat on regular days. Or at regular meals. Or All. The. Time. Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals. (Psst, turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it's too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food. But did you know that it's possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger? Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast. Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten. And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (...just sayin'). Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism. Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You've heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits? This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion. Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal. Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful. Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture. Breathe. This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less. When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full. So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite. Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish. But don't start there. (Don't worry, you can have some...just after you've eaten your salad). Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they're full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water. Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller. They're “satiating”. And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you're about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals. Recipe (Water): Tasty (and beautiful) Pre-Meal Water Ideas If you're not much of a plain water drinker or need your water to be more appealing to your senses here are five delicious (and beautiful looking) fruit combos to add to your large glass of water: ● Slices of lemon & ginger ● Slices of strawberries & orange ● Slices of apple & a cinnamon stick ● Chopped pineapple & mango ● Blueberries & raspberries Tip: You can buy a bag (or several bags) of frozen chopped fruit and throw those into your cup, thermos, or uber-cool mason jar in the morning. They're already washed and cut and will help keep your water colder longer. References: https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/ http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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Integrative Nutrition

Black Garlic: A New Superfood?

At first glimpse, you might not be so enthralled to put black garlic on your dinner plate. But looks can be deceiving. Does it resemble little jelly-like pebbles of coal? Sure. But its sweet, non-acrid taste and nutritional benefits might make you a believer... Read More