Megan Cooper, Author at Studio ME Fitness - Page 2 of 9

Megan Cooper

The Coconut Oil Craze – Should You Jump on the Bandwagon Too?

Yes you should (end of post).

 

But what exactly is it about coconut oil that makes it so healthy? And which type is best?

 

Let’s dive into some of the fascinating research and find out.

 

Coconut oil is a special kind of fat

 

Coconut oil is fat and contains the same 9 calories per gram as other fats.

 

It is extracted from the “meat” of the coconut. Coconut oil is a white solid at room temperature and easily melts into a clear liquid on a hot day.

 

The idea of adding coconut oil to your diet is NOT to add on to what you already eat but to substitute it for some of the (possibly) less healthy fats you may be eating now.

 

And here’s why – Because not all calories or fats are created equal.

 

Coconut oil contains a unique type of fat known as “Medium Chain Triglycerides” (MCTs). In fact, 65% of the fat in coconut oil are these MCTs.

 

What makes MCTs unique is how your body metabolizes them;  they’re easily absorbed into the bloodstream by your gut, where they go straight to the liver, and they’re burned for fuel or converted into “ketones.”

 

This metabolic process, unique to MCTs, is what sets coconut oil apart from other fats.

 

Coconut oil MCTs may help with fat loss.

 

Coconut oil’s MCTs have been shown to have a few different fat loss benefits.

 

First, it can help to increase feelings of fullness, which can lead to a natural reduction in the amount of food you eat.

 

Second, because of their unique metabolic route, MCTs can also increase the number of calories you burn;  this happens when you compare the calories burned after eating the same amount of other fats.

 

In fact, a few studies show that coconut oil may increase the number of calories you burn by as much as 5%.

 

Third, some studies show that eating coconut oil can help reduce belly fat (a.k.a. “waist circumference”).

 

Just remember not to add coconut oil to your diet without reducing other fats and oils!

 

How much coconut oil should I eat?

 

Many of the studies that showed increased fullness, increased metabolism, and reduced belly fat only used about 2 tablespoons per day.

 

You probably don’t need any more than that.

 

What kind of coconut oil is the best?

 

There are so many coconut oil options available in grocery stores these days that it can make it difficult to know which is best.

 

I recommend you stay away from “refined” ones, and opt for “virgin” coconut oil. That is because it is processed at lower temperatures and avoids some of the chemical solvents used in the refining process;  this helps to preserve more of the oil’s natural health-promoting antioxidants.

 

Pro Tip: Always (and I mean ALWAYS) avoid “hydrogenated” coconut oil. It can be a health nightmare because it contains the infamous “trans fats.”

 

One thing you should also consider is that each oil has a specific high temperature that you should avoid surpassing (e.g. its “smoke point”). For virgin coconut oil, that temperature is 350F. That means you can safely use it on the stovetop on a low-medium setting, as well as in most baking.

 

Conclusion:

 

Substitute some of the fat you eat with virgin coconut oil;  this may help you to lose weight and belly fat by naturally helping you to eat less, as well as slightly increasing your metabolism.

 

Oh, and it tastes great too!

 

Recipe (Coconut Oil): Homemade Healthy Chocolate

Serves 12

Ingredients:

⅓ cup coconut oil, melted

1 cup cocoa/cacao powder

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 dashes salt

4 tablespoons slivered almonds

Directions: 

Melt coconut oil, and whisk in maple syrup, salt, and cocoa/cacao powder until smooth.

Stir in slivered almonds until evenly distributed.

Pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Store in fridge or freezer to avoid melting.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Substitute other seeds, chopped nuts, or dried fruit instead of the almonds if you wish.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-coconut-oil/

https://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-oil-and-weight-loss/

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/coconut-oil/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-brain-coconut-oil

The Gut-Brain Connection: How To Feed Your Brain

If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

Yes, it’s true. Your gut is considered your “second brain.” There is no denying it anymore.

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain.

 

I find it amazing (but not too surprising).

 

 

What exactly is the “gut-brain connection.”

 

Well, it’s very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it!

 

There seem to be multiple things working together.  Things like:

  • The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain
  • The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain
  • The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut
  • The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body and
  • The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.

This is complex. And amazing, if you ask me.

 

I’ll briefly touch on these areas, and end off with a delicious recipe (of course!)

 

Vagus nerve

 

There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain.

 

And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…

 

Not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!

 

The enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters

 

Would you believe me if I told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?

 

I knew you would!

 

And that’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”

 

And, if you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty “smartly”…don’t you think?

 

And guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”

 

In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!

 

The immune system of the gut

 

Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defense system would be located there too, right? Seventy-five percent of our immune system is in our gut!

 

And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?

 

Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.

 

Gut microbes

 

Your friendly neighborhood gut residents. You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!

 

But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.

 

How do these all work together for brain health?

 

The honest answer to how these things all work together is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.

 

But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!

 

So, how do you feed your brain?

 

Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.

 

But two things that you many consider eating more of are fiber and omega-3 fats. Fiber (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) help to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.

 

 

Recipe (Gut food fibre, Brain food omega-3): Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats

Serves 2

Ingredients: 

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup oats (gluten-free)

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 banana, sliced

¼ cup chopped walnuts

optional: bananas (add morning you plan to eat)

 

Directions: 

  1. Blend blueberries in the food processor until smooth.
  2. Mix blueberries, oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds in a bowl with a lid. Let set in fridge overnight.
  3. Split into two bowls and top with cinnamon, banana, and walnuts.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Your gut microbes love to eat the fiber in the blueberries, oats, seeds, and nuts. Meanwhile, your brain loves the omega-3 fats in the seeds and nuts.

 

 

References:

 

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

5 Healthy Snacks

Five Healthy Snacks You Will Love

 

The words “weight-loss” and “snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

 

But that might also bring thoughts of “tasteless,” “cardboard,” and “completely unsatisfying.”

 

Right?

 

Let me give you my best weight-loss friendly snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

 

What’s my criteria you ask?

 

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way;  foods that contain protein and/or fibre.

 

 

1 – Nuts

 

It’s true – nuts contain calories and fat, but they are NOT fattening!

 

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

 

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier and leaner.

 

 

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fiber, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

 

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

 

 

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your purse or bag.

 

2 – Fresh Fruit

 

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

 

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fiber; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. And fresh fruit is low in calories.

 

 

Fiber is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike.”

 

 

Win-win!

 

Try a variety of fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.

 

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you.

 

 

3 – Chia seeds

 

This is one of my personal favourites…

 

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

 

 

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

 

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

 

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of nut milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!

 

4 – Boiled or poached eggs

 

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

 

 

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

 

 

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

 

 

Yup, you read that right!

 

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

 

5 – Vegetables

 

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

 

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

 

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

 

Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?

 

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

 

 

Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

1  can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed

⅓ cup tahini

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 dash salt

1 dash pepper

 

 

  1. Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini, and olive oil in place of the sesame oil.

 

 

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/

https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/best-fruits-diabetics/

https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/

https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

Member Spotlight

“When I moved to Minneapolis in January of last year from Williamsburg, Virginia, I didn’t really know what to do with myself in Minnesota winters. I found myself going to work, going to happy hour, and watching TV. It was also a bit of an adjustment switching from walking around a college campus to sitting at a desk all day. I could feel myself becoming more and more lethargic. One day my mom told me: “You’ve got to start working out regularly, it’ll make you feel so much better”. I fought this idea for a few weeks because I was not a huge fan of gyms… or working out, but eventually decided that it could be a great place to get out of my apartment and meet people and to get into shape.
I eventually started researching small gyms in the city, and decided to try Studio ME. After my first class at Studio ME, I was hooked. The class sizes were just right, I could get personalized attention but the focus wouldn’t all be on me, and everyone is so incredibly friendly! Plus, I could tell that I was getting a good workout. After my first TRX class, I could barely walk and definitely could not lift my arms above my head. And it was amazing.
Since I’ve joined, I’ve seen such incredible results. I’ve called my family multiple times just to tell them about a new PR I’ve hit on the water rower or if moved up in weights in Kettlebell. But it’s not just the noticeable changes during class, it’s the daily changes as well. I don’t crave the sugary foods as much and if I sit for more than an hour straight I get super fidgety and HAVE to move. I even notice that walking is easier, which I definitely did not think was a thing.
Studio ME has definitely changed my life for the better. My lifestyle is drastically healthier and I am so much happier since joining. The instructors and crew are such incredible people, encouraging and never-judging. I’m excited to be a part of this amazing community!”

 

Can My Symptoms Actually Be a Food Intolerance?

Food intolerances or “sensitivities” can affect you in so many ways.

 

And they’re a lot more common than most people think.

 

I’m not talking about anaphylaxis or immediate allergic reactions that involve an immune response. Those can be serious and life-threatening.  If you have any allergies, you need to steer clear of any traces of foods you are allergic to, and speak with your doctor or pharmacist about emergency medication, if necessary.

 

What I’m talking about, is an intolerance, meaning you do not tolerate a specific food very well and it causes immediate or chronic symptoms anywhere in the body. Symptoms can take hours or even days to show themselves. And symptoms can be located just about anywhere in the body.

 

This is what makes them so tricky to identify.

 

Symptoms of food intolerances

 

There are some common food intolerances that have immediate and terribly painful gastrointestinal symptoms, such as lactose intolerance or celiac disease. These can cause stomach pain, gas, bloating, and/or diarrhea;  symptoms can start immediately after eating lactose or gluten.

 

On the other hand, other more insidious symptoms may not be linked to foods in an obvious way.

 

Symptoms like:

 

  • Chronic muscle or joint pain

 

  • Sweating, or increased heart rate or blood pressure

 

  • Headaches or migraines

 

  • Exhaustion after a good night’s sleep

 

  • Autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s or rheumatoid arthritis

 

  • Rashes or eczema

 

  • Inability to concentrate or feeling like your brain is “foggy”

 

  • Shortness of breath

 

If your body has trouble digesting specific foods, it can affect your hormones, metabolism, or even cause inflammation and result in any of the symptoms listed above. And these can affect any (or all) parts of the body, not just your gastrointestinal system.

 

 

How to prevent these intolerances

 

The main thing you can do is to figure out which foods or drinks you may be reacting to and stop ingesting them.

 

I know, I know…this sounds so simple, and yet it can be SO HARD.

 

The best way to identify your food/drink triggers is to eliminate them.

 

Yup, get rid of those offending foods/drinks. All traces of them, for three full weeks and monitor your symptoms.

 

If things get better, then you need to decide whether it’s worth it to stop ingesting them, or if you want to slowly introduce them back one at a time while still looking out to see if/when symptoms return.

 

Start Here: Two common food intolerances

 

Here are two of the most common triggers of food intolerances:

 

  • Lactose (in dairy – eliminate altogether, or look for a “lactose-free” label – try nut or coconut milk instead).

 

  • Gluten (in wheat, rye, and other common grains – look for a “gluten-free” label – try gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa & gluten-free oats).

 

 

This is by no means a complete list, but it’s a good place to start because lactose intolerance is thought to affect up to 75% of people, while “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” can affect up to 13% of people.

 

So, if you can eliminate all traces of lactose and gluten for three weeks, it can confirm whether either or both of these, are a source of your symptoms.

 

Yes, dairy and grains are a part of many government-recommended food guidelines, but you absolutely can get all of the nutrients you need if you focus on replacing them with nutrient-dense foods.

 

A reliable way to monitor how you feel after eating certain foods is to track it. After every meal or snack, write down the foods you ate, and any symptoms so you can more easily spot trends.

 

And, as mentioned earlier, symptoms may not start immediately following a meal. You may find, for example, that you wake up with a headache the morning after eating bananas.

 

You might be surprised what links you can find if you track your food and symptoms well!

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you eliminate something, you need to make sure it’s not hiding in other foods, or the whole point of eliminating it for a few weeks is lost. Restaurant food, packaged foods, and sauces or dressings are notorious for adding ingredients that you’d never think are there. You know that sugar hides in almost everything, but did you also know that wheat is often added to processed meats and soy sauce, and lactose can even be found in some medications or supplements?

 

When in doubt you HAVE to ask the server in a restaurant about hidden ingredients, read labels, and consider cooking from scratch.

 

What if it doesn’t work?

 

If eliminating these two common food intolerances doesn’t work, then you can go one step further to eliminate all dairy (even lactose-free) and all grains (even gluten-free) for three weeks.

 

You may need to see a qualified healthcare practitioner for help, and that’s OK. I don’t want you to continue suffering if you don’t need to!

 

Recipe (dairy-free milk): Homemade Nut/Seed Milk

Makes 3 cups

½ cup raw nuts/seeds (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, or sesame seeds)

2 cups water

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

  1. Soak nuts/seeds for about 8 hours (optional, but recommended).
  2. Dump soaking water & rinse nuts/seeds.
  3. Add soaked nuts/seeds and 2 cups water to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about one minute until very smooth.
  4. Strain through a small mesh sieve with 2 layers of cheesecloth. Squeeze if necessary.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: You can double the recipe and store the milk in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

 

References:

 

http://www.dietvsdisease.org/11-warning-signs-you-have-a-food-intolerance/

https://authoritynutrition.com/lactose-intolerance-101/

https://authoritynutrition.com/signs-you-are-gluten-intolerant/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-sensitivities-health-infographic

Digestive Enzymes

All About Digestive Enzymes

 

Not everyone should be taking digestive enzyme supplements; and not all of them are created equal.

 

I find that many people with digestive issues want to jump straight into using a supplement. And many times I would rather try other strategies first. Not to mention, that some supplements can be harmful if used inappropriately.

 

So, let’s dive into a few of the common digestive enzymes, what they do, and who should NOT take them.

 

What are digestive enzymes?

 

Technically, “enzymes” are compounds that help critical biochemical reactions to happen in your body. These reactions can be anything, from making neurotransmitters like serotonin, to burning food for energy, to breaking down food we eat into smaller pieces that our guts can absorb.

 

Oh, and they all end with “ase”.

 

As I just hinted, “digestive enzymes” are specifically those enzymes we use for digestion. They’re enzymes that our digestive system naturally makes and secretes when we eat.

 

Now, all of the “macronutrients” we eat (carbs, protein & fat) need to be broken down into their individual (smaller) parts so that we can properly absorb and digest them. They’re just too big otherwise, and if we don’t absorb them properly, we can get symptoms of fatigue, malnutrition, digestive distress, or a host of other symptoms.

 

It is these individual (smaller) parts that our body amazingly rearranges and uses to create other larger molecules that our body needs.

 

The most common digestive enzymes you’ll see on product labels are:

 

  • Amylase – Helps to break down starch into its sugars.
  • alpha-Galactosidase – Helps to break down specific “fermentable carbohydrates” into its sugars.
  • Lactase – Helps to break down lactose into its sugars.
  • Protease – Helps to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Bromelain and/or Papain – Help to break down protein into its amino acids.
  • Lipase – Helps to break down fats into its lipids.

 

Who should consider taking digestive enzymes?

 

I would always recommend that you see a qualified health care practitioner for an expert opinion on whether your issues can be related to digestion, and which, if any, supplements can help you.

 

In general, the most common digestive symptoms that enzymes *may* help with are bloating, cramping, and/or diarrhea. Particularly if it happens after eating certain foods (think lactose-intolerance symptoms after eating dairy).

 

One reason for these symptoms can be that food particles are not broken down properly, and the larger pieces travel further down the digestive tract to the microbiota where those little critters start breaking them down themselves. And this is definitely troublesome for certain people.

 

Don’t get me wrong, a healthy gut microbiota is absolutely essential for good health. And more and more research is showing just how it can affect not only our digestion, but also our immune system, and even our mood.

 

What do I need to know? – Medical conditions

 

Of course, you should read the label of any products you take, and take them as directed, especially if they’re not specifically recommended for you by your health care practitioner who knows your history.

 

Here are two critical things to be aware of:

 

1 – Digestive enzymes that break down carbohydrates into sugars are not recommended for diabetics, or pregnant/breastfeeding women.
This is because taking them breaks down more carbohydrates into sugars than your body normally would; so, anyone at risk of blood sugar issues should take caution.

 

2 – When it comes to enzymes that break down proteins into amino acids, there are a few people who should avoid them because of potential interactions. That is if you have an ulcer, or are taking blood-thinners or anti-inflammatories, or if you’re having surgery.

 

The reason is because the digestive enzymes that break down protein are thought to cause or worsen ulcers, as well as have the ability to “thin” the blood and prevent normal clotting.

 

What do I need to know? – Possible Side effects

 

Using digestive enzyme supplements for a prolonged period of time may well justify an appointment with a knowledgeable practitioner. There may be strategies other than daily supplementation that can serve you better.

 

If you find that your symptoms get worse, or even if they don’t get better, you should probably stop using them.

Allergies are always a possibility, so if you know or suspect you’re allergic, then you should avoid them.

And, as always, keep supplements away from children.

 

Before considering a digestive enzyme supplement

 

You shouldn’t just jump to supplementing with digestive enzymes without a proper diagnosis, or trying a few strategies first.

 

My first recommendation for digestive distress would be to relax more, eat slower, and chew more thoroughly. This helps to break down food and can put less stress on your digestive tract.

 

The second step would be to try eliminating certain troublesome foods from your diet (dairy & gluten, for example) and see if that helps.

 

Conclusion:

 

While many supplements are safe products, they’re not all for everyone.

 

I recommend that you:

  • Read your labels carefully (who should take them, how to take them, when to stop taking them).
  • If you have a medical condition or are taking medications speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you want expert advice on whether a specific supplement is for you, speak with a qualified health care practitioner.

 

Recipe (food containing bromelain & papain): Tropical (digestive) smoothie

 

Serves 1

 

1 cup pineapple, diced

1 cup papaya, diced

1 banana, chopped

1 cup coconut milk

ice if desired

 

Put all ingredients(except ice) into the blender and blend. Add ice if desired.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: The levels of enzymes in whole pineapple and papaya aren’t as concentrated as taking them in a supplement; so if you’re not allergic to these delicious fruits, you can try this smoothie.

 

References:

 

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/digestive-enzyme-supplements/

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=514&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=516&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=196&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=508&lang=eng

 

http://webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca/nhpid-bdipsn/monoReq.do?id=515&lang=eng

 

Natural Medicines Database, Bromelain, Papain, Retrieved January 21, 2017 from https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com

June Member of the Month

Meet Emily! Emily has been a member since August of 2015. It has been so fun getting to know Emily and her family and help her reach her goals. They are a big part of our community so I am really excited to recognize her month. Let’s hear from her…

“I joined Studio ME almost two years ago now. After a couple years of full-time work and grad school followed by a year of total sleep deprivation with a newborn, my husband and I were both feeling unhealthy and knew it was time for us to take control of our health and start modeling a healthy lifestyle for our son. Studio ME had opened up near my work and I suggested that Chad check it out. I had no intention of joining him since group fitness classes had never really been my thing. However, I don’t think it was even two weeks before I signed up for my first class. I couldn’t help myself after I saw how excited he was about it – both in terms of the physical results he was seeing and the fun people he was meeting. I started to feel like I was missing out!

The first week was pretty rough since I was really out of shape. However, I couldn’t believe how encouraging and supportive everyone was – even people who were in better shape than I will ever be. That is one of the things I really love about Studio ME – the classes are so accessible for all different fitness levels. I also love the variety of classes – I get a well-rounded workout and am never bored – SO much better than my days on the elliptical in my condo workout room! But the best part of Studio E for me is the social aspect. Having a young son means that free time is limited and “mom guilt” rises to the surface if I spend too much time away. Therefore, I love that Studio ME checks off multiple boxes at once – I get a great workout and I socialize with really great people. Even my son looks forward to coming to the gym to drop one of us off or getting to hang out during a movie night!

My fitness goals aren’t super crazy – I just want to be healthy and strong so I can do fun and active things with my family. I am hoping to get under 20 seconds on my 100 meter sprint soon, work on building quad strength so I burn out less quickly on hilly bike rides, am looking forward to doing some brewery 5Ks this summer. It has been really fun to see how much strength I built just in this last month from pushing myself to get to so many classes and I look forward building on that!”

Congrats Emily! Cheers to many more successes!

Raw vs. Cooked – Which Contains More Vitamins and Minerals?

Let’s finally put an end to the debate of raw vs. cooked.

 

Of course, in the grand scheme of a well-balanced, nutrient-dense, varied, whole foods diet, the cooked vs. raw debate isn’t that critical for most people.

 

Where this can become a consideration is for vitamin and mineral deficiencies (or “insufficiencies”). These may be due to digestion or absorption issues, or avoidance of certain foods (due to allergies, intolerances, or choice).

 

And I’ll tell you that the answer isn’t as simple as “raw is always better” or “cooked is always better.”  As with most nutrition science, it depends on several factors. Some vitamins are destroyed in cooking, while others become easier to absorb (a.k.a. more “bioavailable”).

 

 

Here is the skinny on vitamins and minerals in raw foods versus cooked foods.

 

Foods to eat raw

 

As a general rule, water soluble nutrients, like vitamin C and the B vitamins, found mostly in fruits and vegetables, are best eaten raw.

 

The reason why is two-fold.

 

First, when these nutrients are heated, they tend to degrade;  this is from any heat, be it steaming, boiling, roasting, or frying. Vitamin C and the B vitamins are a bit more “delicate” and susceptible to heat than many other nutrients.

 

Of course, the obvious way to combat these nutrient losses is to eat foods high vitamin C and B vitamins in their raw form (like in an awesome salad) or to cook them for as short a time as possible (like quickly steaming or blanching).

 

Fun fact: Raw spinach can contain three times the amount of vitamin C as cooked spinach.

 

The second reason why foods high in vitamin C and the B vitamins are best eaten raw is that they’re “water soluble.”  So, guess where the vitamins go when they’re cooked in water?  Yes, they’re dissolved right into the water;  this is particularly true for fruits and veggies that are boiled and poached but even for foods that steamed as well.

 

Of course, if you’re a savvy health nut, you’ll probably keep that liquid to use in your next soup or sauce to preserve those nutrients that are left after cooking. Just don’t overheat it or you may lose what you were aiming to keep.

 

But, how much loss are we talking about?  Well, of course, it ranges but can go from as low as 15%, up to over 50%.

 

In short, the water soluble vitamins like vitamin C and the B vitamins degrade with heat and some of what’s left over after they’re heated dissolves into the cooking water. So be sure to cook your fruits and veggies as little as possible, and keep that cooking water to use in your next recipe.

 

Soaking nuts and seeds

 

Regarding raw nuts and seeds, it may be beneficial to soak them. Soaking nuts and seeds (for several hours at room temperature) allows some of the minerals to become “unlocked” from their chemical structure, so they’re more absorbable.

 

Foods to eat cooked

 

Cooking certain orange and red “beta-carotene rich” veggies (e.g. tomatoes, carrots, & sweet potatoes) can help make this pre-vitamin A compound more absorbable.

 

Fun fact: One study found that absorption of beta-carotene was 6.5 times greater in stir-fried carrots than in raw carrots!

 

Of course, eating your fat-soluble vitamins with a bit of fat will help you to absorb more of them, so that’s one factor to consider.

 

One vegetable that’s best eaten both raw and cooked

 

Spinach!

 

And I’m not just saying this to get everyone to eat it any way possible (although, I would love for this to happen…unless you’re allergic, of course).

 

Spinach contains so many beneficial compounds that it’s great eaten both raw and cooked.

 

Eating raw spinach preserves the water-soluble vitamins C & the B vitamins.

 

Eating spinach cooked allows the pre-vitamin A, as well as some of the minerals like iron to be better absorbed. Not to mention how much spinach reduces in size when it’s cooked, so it’s easier to eat way more cooked spinach than raw spinach.

 

Conclusion:

 

The old nutrition philosophy of making sure you get a lot of nutrient-dense whole foods into your diet holds true. Feel free to mix up how you eat them, whether you prefer raw or cooked just make sure you eat them.

 

Recipe: Sautéed Spinach

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1 bag baby spinach leaves

1 dash salt

1 dash black pepper

Fresh lemon

 

  1. In a large cast iron pan heat olive oil.
  2. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach, salt, pepper and toss with garlic and oil.
  4. Cover pan and cook on low for about 2 minutes.
  5. Saute cook spinach for another minute, stirring frequently, until all the spinach is wilted.
  6. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Enjoying the cooked spinach with the vitamin C in the “raw” lemon juice helps your body absorb more of the iron.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/cooking-nutrient-content/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/10-ways-to-get-the-most-nutrients

Hormones out of whack?

Hormones out of whack?

 

Of course, listen to what your doctor says.

 

And also listen to what your body says.

 

We both know that what you eat and how you move can make a HUGE improvement in some of the symptoms of menopause or hormone imbalance.  Not to mention how common it is for ladies to gain weight at this time of life. (Ugh!)

 

And as we both know eating better and moving more can help you stave off other issues like heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

 

What do I specifically recommend to help you “eat better and move more”?

 

 

First – Hydrate:

 

Drink more water.

 

The general consensus is to drink 8-10 glasses per day.  And, if you don’t feel you need that much you definitely need to at least drink enough throughout the day so that you’re not thirsty.

 

I know that’s easy to say but really it’s also easy to do.

 

Try having a full glass first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything.

 

Don’t like plain water?  Add in some berries or chopped frozen fruit.

 

Prefer tea?  Steep some sliced lemon and/or ginger or your favourite caffeine-free herbal teabag.  This counts toward hydration as well.

 

You can also keep a large bottle or mug beside you all day wherever you work so it’s always easy to grab and have sips throughout the day to make sure you’re not getting thirsty.

 

Second – Bump up your intake of whole plant foods:

 

Things like (yes, you guessed it) vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds.  We’re going for quantity here.  Try to include them in every meal and even most (if not all) of your snacks.

 

Want another reason to eat more plants?

 

Plant-based diets are associated with fewer hot flashes.  Bonus!

 

Plus, my recipe below is your “no excuse” solution to getting more veggies wherever you go.

 

Third – Don’t forget high-quality protein:

 

While you’re chomping your plant foods don’t forget to include some good quality protein (and healthy fats) from eggs, fish, meat, nuts and seeds (and their butters).

 

With animal foods we’re aiming for quality so try to get organic, wild, and/or pasture-raised if you can.

 

Fourth – Some things you want to cut back on:

 

Reducing and/or eliminating alcohol, caffeine and processed foods can have a tremendous impact on balancing your hormones naturally without the help of pharmaceutical medications.

 

With those increases in hydration, whole plant foods, and quality protein, you simply won’t have as much room for alcohol, caffeine, and processed foods with added salt and sugar.

 

You already know that’s good news, right?

 

Fifth – Move:

 

If you don’t do this already try to move up to 5 hours per week.  You can gradually increase that over time, and believe me, you will thank yourself!

 

To do this, include things like walking (especially outdoors in the sun, if possible), or even some weight-training.

 

You’ve heard the saying that the best exercise is the one you’ll actually do?

 

Well, go ahead and do it. 🙂

 

Sixth – Get enough sleep:

 

I’m talking 7-9 hours per night.  Seriously!

 

Sometimes menopause can bring on (or ramp up) sleep problems.

 

The most important thing to do is set a daily routine where you’re relaxing with no screen-time (computers, tablet, phone, tv) a couple hours before your bedtime.  Electronic devices emit strong blue light which can prevent the release of melatonin, your sleep hormone.  Try reading a book or having a bath.  It’s also important to have dim lights in your surroundings to reduce your exposure to blue light before bed.  Regular indoor lighting is usually blue light.  Ideally you would use amber or red lights, or even be ultra-stylin’ with blue-blocker sunglasses.

 

Seventh – Find great stress relieving activities:

 

Do whatever works for you.  Just make sure you do it regularly as a preventative measure to avoid accumulated stress.

 

Have you tried meditating, deep breathing, or having a warm bath?  What about the newest craze of colouring?

 

Bonus points for using exercise as a form of stress relief.

 

Conclusion:

 

You now have an arsenal of great ideas to stave off those menopause symptoms naturally.

 

Now go ahead and make two of these mason jar salads to eliminate any excuse of not being able to get fresh veggies when you’re out and about.

 

Recipe (Veggie): Mason Jar Salad

Serves 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dressing

3 tablespoons almond butter

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons sesame oil

 

Salad ingredients

½ granny smith apple (diced)

4 radishes (sliced)

2 celery stalks (diced)

4 tablespoons of your favourite nuts or seeds (walnuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)

4-6 cups of your favourite greens (spinach, kale, mixed greens, etc.)

 

  1. Add first four ingredients to a small bowl & whisk until smooth.
  2. Add apple to dressing (so it’s covered and won’t brown) and divide between two mason jars.
  3. Layer the radishes, celery, nuts/seeds, and greens on top and seal.
  4. When ready to eat shake up the jar, open and enjoy or pour it into a large bowl to mix more thoroughly.

Tip:  Wide-mouth jars work best for this ah-mazing way to bring veggies with you wherever you go!

 

References:

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-menopause

https://authoritynutrition.com/11-natural-menopause-tips/

https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/menopause-time-change/what-can-you-do-hot-flashes-and-other-menopausal-symptoms

Chipotle Chicken Sweet Potato Recipie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Servings 6

Ingredients:
3 medium sweet potatoes
1.5 lbs (about 3 smallish) boneless skinless chicken breast
1/4 cups olive oil
3 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
3-4 whole chipotle pepper, minced
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon cumin
3 teaspoons chili powder
salt and pepper
2-3 cups spinach
5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated (optional)
Chopped cilantro, for garnish if desired
Greek yogurt, for serving if desired

 

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash your sweet potatoes and prick all over with a fork. Place in the oven and bake for 50-60 minutes or until fork tender. Place your chicken in a baking dish and rub with a tablespoon of olive oil, salt and peper. Place in the oven with the potatoes and bake for 25 minutes.

Once chicken is cooked, allow to cool and then shred the chicken into a bowl. When the sweet potatoes are done, cut in half and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.

In a medium-size bowl combine the rest of the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, chipotle peppers, oregano, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a skillet over medium heat and wilt the spinach and then add to the chicken bowl. Toss the spinach and shredded chicken together and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Scrape the sweet potato out of the peel, leaving a medium size layer of flesh inside with the peel so that it can stand up on its own and place in a baking dish. Brush the skins with with a little of the chipotle sauce and bake for 5-10 muntes until nice and crisp. While the skins bake, mix the spinach, potato flesh, chicken and chipotle sauce together.

Remove skins from the oven and stuff with the chicken mixture and top with shredded cheese if desired. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the skins are hot and crisp.

Serve with fresh chopped cilantro and greek yogurt if desired. You can even add some guacamole or sliced avocado.

*Yogurt and guacamole not included in Nutritional Information.

**You may want to prep but not bake/crisp up the potatoes until serving if you aren’t eating them all that day.

Page 2 of 912345...Last »