The Fine Print

Do you read food labels? If not, you are not alone! Many people get drawn in by the claims the large print says on the package: 100% whole wheat! Contains 20% of the recommended daily intake of fibre! All Natural Ingredients!
 
But what is really inside some of the most commonly consumed foods? Let’s take a closer look at one of the most common staples for lunch – sandwich bread. We’ve all had sandwiches. And most likely many of us have made sandwiches for our own kids using this very brand of bread I’m talking about today. What I found in the ingredients is exactly why we need to be reading the fine print on everything we eat.
 
Aside from the gut irritating gluten, the added sugar/glucose-frutose and the soybean and/or canola oil (the fact that they can’t definitively say which one was used is in itself concerning) there are two ingredients that stood out to me and should be avoided.
 
1) AZODICARBONAMIDE: This is an industrial chemical used to make yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather. And yet it is in our BREAD. It is used as a dough conditioner in bread and other baked goods.
 
This chemical has been banned in Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand and has been found to cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, food allergies and other adverse reactions.
 
2) CALCIUM PROPIONATE: This is an anti fungal that is added to bread and other baked goods to prevent mould growth. It is claimed that small amounts seem to be okay however, chronic exposure, especially in children eating it daily in sandwiches, etc, has been linked to irritability, restlessness, inattention, sleep disturbances, behaviour and learning problems, skin irritations, migraines and food intolerances.
 
The bottom line is that commercial bread is adding all kinds of things to the bread that is unnecessary and can cause some scary health issues.
 
This post is not to say that bread is bad. It is only to bring awareness to what we are putting in our own mouths and the mouths of our children and to get back to eating real, whole foods. Traditional bread that our grandma’s made contained 4 things: flour, water, yeast and salt, not this long list of additives and chemicals.
 
Have a great homemade bread recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to see it – please post it in comments!

Breathe

Have you ever paused in traffic, or on a busy sidewalk, or even in a huge line-up in the mall at Christmas and wondered, “What the heck are we all doing?” All bustling from place to place, everything so urgent, so important that we lack the courtesy to even be kind to one another anymore.

Being in the health and wellness field I’m in the wonderful position of being a listening ear, a trusted ally, a confidant.  And in the 10 years that I have been that person professionally for others, there have been a few common threads – one in particular that I feel connects more than have admitted.

We’re too busy.  We are trying to do too much, too fast, too often.  We have too many balls in the air – it doesn’t even resemble juggling anymore – it’s more like dodging the balls that are being fired at us faster than we can think or react.  How are we supposed to do all of this and be the very best and have the cleanest house and smartest kids and be fit and eat well and get that promotion and be that considerate partner to our spouse…walk the dog two times a day, keep up with laundry mountain, bake allergen free cupcakes for the kid’s fundraisers, keep up with social media, answer all those texts….oh and have time to compare ourselves to everyone else we see online who seems to have it all together and have great hair?

Even as I type this my mind keeps flitting to my to-do list, wondering if I actually even have time to be writing this right now.  But I need to.  So many of my lovely clients and dear friends have been coming to me lately, telling me of their feelings of being overwhelmed, of feeling lost, feeling inadequate, getting panic attacks in the middle of nowhere.  Anxiety and depression are real but many of us don’t even have time to acknowledge that is what is going on or know where to start in getting better.

I wish we could all just stop.  And breathe.  And look around us and see there are really very few things that TRULY matter.  Hold those things and people close to you and press pause on everything else.

There’s been a big movement to go through all of our physical possesions and purge what does not bring us joy.  Well, maybe we should purge our lives of the things that steal our time and attention, our health and our joy – the things that don’t matter, that won’t mean anything in 5 minutes let alone 5 years.  Let those things go.  And breathe.

You Are What You Eat – or ARE You?

 

You’ve all heard the expression you are what you eat.  But I like to say you are what you absorb.  The vast majority of people have issues with their gut.  Years of eating processed foods, foods exposed to toxins from pesticides and pollution, or eating allergen containing foods can all lead to problems with the gut making it difficult for your body to digest and breakdown foods and absorb the required nutrients.

What exactly is digestion and absorption?  Digestion is the process in which your body breaks down the food you eat into smaller components that can be absorbed.  Absorption is the transferring of the food components into the bloodstream to be circulated to all parts of the body.

 

Causes of Poor Absorption

 

  • Low stomach acid – low stomach acid is caused by stress, diet that is high in meat and refined grains, chlorinated water, antacids, coffee and nicotine.
  • Dysbiosis – an imbalance of the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. Dysbiosis is caused by a high sugar diet, antibiotic usage, birth control pill, steroid medications.
  • Dehydration – water is a necessary component of breaking down food particles.

 

What You Can Do

 

Luckily, the body wants to repair itself and we can help our bodies become better at digesting and absorbing foods again.  Here’s what you do:

 

Foods to Eat:

-fresh squeezed lemon juice and water first thing in the morning

-whole foods as much as possible

-lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables

-probiotic foods daily

-protein at all 3 meals

-water!

 

Foods to Avoid/Decrease:

-wheat and wheat containing products

-dairy products

-sugar and products containing sugar (high fructose corn syrup etc)

-processed foods

-additives, preservatives, dyes, artificial ingredients

-caffeine

-alcohol

 

Also, avoid eating when you are rushed, stressed or upset and try not to eat too close to bedtime.  Taking these steps can ensure that you are making the most of the food that you put into your body and can set yourself up for optimal health.

Does eating fat make you fat?

What’s the Deal With Fat:

Low-fat, no fat, fat free…the supermarkets are flooded with products announcing one way or another that their product is fat free and therefore making shoppers think it’s healthy.  Or is it?  Why has fat gotten such a bad rap?

For years all fat was lumped into the same category and said to raise cholesterol, increase risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more!

While it’s true that not all fats are healthy, and in fact, some (like trans fats) should be avoided, fat is an essential macronutrient that our bodies depend on for many, many things.  So how do you know which fats to eat and which you should ignore?  And why do our bodies require fat anyways?

Why We Need Fat:

Most of the fat we need is made by our bodies, but there are some fats our bodies cannot make – we can only get these fats by eating them or through supplementation.  These fats are called “essential” fats because it is essential that we get them from food. Essential fatty acids (EFAs) include Omega-3 fats (found in foods such as fish and flax seed) and Omega-6 fats (found in foods such as nuts and seeds).  These are the parent oils these other fatty acids can be made from.  EFAs are components of the cell membranes, hormones and the nervous system – they are crucial to the regulation of emotions and mood, brain function and nerve impulses.

What EFAs Do:

•Speed up metabolism in those who are sedentary or obese
•Required in the making of neurotransmitters, for making all hormones and for healthy brain function and mental clarity
•Required for proper functioning of the immune system (activates T cells)
•Regulate the action of insulin
•Important for growth of blood vessels
•Keep the skin and other tissues supple and lubricated
•Are a human growth factor – stimulate growth
•Help us recover from fatigue
•Part of our DNA
•Facilitate oxygen transfer into cells
•Provide energy! Fat provides more energy than even protein or carbs
•Act as carriers for fat soluble vitamins in the body like vitamins A, D, E and K

When Fats Become Bad:

Hydrogenation of oils lowers the quality of oils and converts some of the unsaturated
fatty acids into trans fats.  Trans fats increase blood cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol and increase the risk of atherosclerosis which is hardening of the arteries. Trans fats can displace essential fatty acids in our system, which can cause an alteration of cell membrane function. Trans fats in the heart and the smooth muscle might be a factor in the development of cardiovascular disease.  Examples of trans fats are: deep fried foods, margarine, essentially any soft spreadable fats.

The Bottom Line:

Now that we know healthy fat is actually our friend, what should we be eating?  Sources of healthy fat include fish, nuts, olive and coconut oils, avocados and avocado oil, nuts and seeds.  Along with all the benefits listed above, healthy fats also provide our bodies with loads of energy and help us stay feeling full longer – even more reasons to make sure this powerful macronutrient is included in every meal.