You’ve heard that leafy greens are good for you but how do you get them onto your family’s plate?

Leafy greens are a staple at my house now but it wasn’t always the case.

Here are my top five tips for getting the leafy greens in:

1. Fermented foods; fermented foods are probiotic and enzyme-rich and are so beneficial that they’re also on my list of foods that I try to get in everyday. I love adding leafy greens to my ferments and a little goes a long way.

Here is one of my jars of fermented veggies featuring kale from my garden.

Find all the details for my upcoming online fermentation workshop

 

2. Soups; with the cooler weather here soups will be making a comeback. Add finely chopped leafy greens (such as spinach, parsley, Swiss chard, beet greens, collard greens…) generously to soups at the very end of cooking. The leafy greens won’t affect the flavour but will definitely boost the nutrient content.

Check out my delicious Hearty minestrone with a silky sweet potato base recipe

 

3. Meat loaf; meat loaf can handle a lot of greens and even the fussiest eaters won’t balk at the greens once they taste this flavour-packed recipe. Try it as a meatloaf as described in the recipe or use the seasoned meat for stuffed tomatoes, zucchinis or peppers.

Sexy meatloaf recipe

 

4. Pesto; you may have heard me talk about pesto before but it’s such a delicious way to get the greens in as well as a great way to conserve them, that it deserves another mention.

Check out my easy seven minute pesto demonstration video

 

5. Smoothies; smoothies are an easy way to get greens into your day. If you’re used to all-fruit smoothies, start slow and replace a small part of your fruit by a mild-tasting leafy such as romaine lettuce, mache greens, organic spinach, parsley or baby bok choy . As you get used to the colour and the flavour you’ll gradually be able to increase the amount of greens you add in. Having the greens washed and ready to go increases the likelihood of this happening.

I hope this inspires you to use up those greens before they wilt.

I’m touching base to let you know that I’ll be hosting a free online info session on August 29th  from 10:00 – 11:30.

The session will be recorded for folks that register.

Click here for all the details.

I will be talking about why weight loss is about much more than calories in and calories out.

We’ll discuss the importance of insulin and how balancing that important hormone will have an impact on weight loss, cravings, inflammation, energy levels and even the quality of our sleep.

Thomas S Cowan MD states:* ‘’ Basically, people gain weight because of insulin… despite the persistent belief that weight gain is all about calories, without insulin it is impossible to gain weight and become fat, no matter how many calories someone takes in.’’

Dr Jason Fung says:** ‘’ Under normal conditions, high insulin levels encourage sugar and fat storage. Low insulin levels encourage glycogen and fat burning. Sustained levels of excessive insulin will tend to increase fat storage. An imbalance between the feeding and fasting will lead to increased insulin, which causes increased fat and voilà –obesity.’’

Join me for an info session where I discuss exactly how you can balance your insulin levels using delicious whole foods and simple lifestyle changes.

I never intended to become a weight loss specialist. What I’m realizing though is that weight issues open up the conversation.

My real pleasure comes from seeing the significant improvements that people experience as a side effect of nourishing their bodies with whole foods, balancing insulin levels, improving digestion and maximizing elimination. That’s the good stuff. The weight loss is just the icing on the cake.

My real passion is making the good stuff doable and delicious. I’m all about the win-wins

There is a lot of evidence that proves that we aren’t simply victims of our good or bad genes and that we have a lot more power and control over our health.

I also believe that our food is our fuel and one of the great joys of life.

Our food should nourish and delight us and so it should be chosen carefully, honoured and savoured.

Fat doesn’t make you fat. Chronically high insulin levels make you fat.

Fat is delicious. It’s is the vehicle for flavour in our food. Food that is fat-free or low-fat tastes like cardboard which is why food manufacturers have to add loads of sugar, artificial flavours or worst of all, artificial sugar to make them palatable.

Here’s what Dr Willett of Harvard writes:
”Diets high in fat do not account for the high prevalence of excess body fat in Western countries; reductions in the percentage of energy from fat will have no important benefits and could further exacerbate this problem. The emphasis on total fat reduction has been a serious distraction in efforts to control obesity and improve health in general.” Reference here

Fats keep us satiated; boost the immune system, lower inflammation, protect our brain and help regulate hormone production.

But before you go clicking your heels for a bucket of KFC, let me say that not all fats are created equal.  As healthy as some fats are, others could be contributing to your inflammation and heart disease.

Food manufacturers will have us believe that because something is labelled all vegetable it’s considered healthy.

Squeezing oil from non oily vegetables requires a surprising amount of heavy duty processing: pressing, solvent extraction, refining, de-gumming, bleaching and deodorizing are all necessary to make these oils tasteless and shelf-stable.These highly processed fats do nothing for our health and actually contribute to inflammation.

How many years was natural, wholesome butter demonized to be replaced by edible plastic aka: margarine? Some folks are still separating the yolk from the egg whites because of a fear of fat or cholesterol.

Click here for all the details about my upcoming online info session

Thanks to Dr. Ancel Keys and a study called the Seven Countries Study, we’ve been preached to repeatedly to ride the low-fat wave.

The theory that was proposed as a result of the Seven Countries Study was that dietary fat was directly linked to heart disease.

The problem with this theory was that it was an assumption based on correlations and didn’t take into consideration various factors such as sugar, industrialization or the refining and transformation of food.

The correlations between dietary fat and heart disease have since been dispelled
but it takes time to slow down the speeding bus that was the low-fat movement and I still often come across the same fear today that fat is bad.

Some of the problems with studying food are that:

  • Statistical methodology requires elements to be isolated in order to study their effects. No food is ever eaten in isolation. We never just eat a molecule of vitamin A. Food is far more complex than its component parts.
  • Not all food is created equal. It isn’t fair to compare an organic, grass-fed, full-fat yogourt to a sugar-laden, artificially-flavoured, low-fat version. Your body will not react the same way even though they’re both labelled yogourt.
  • We are all incredibly unique and what feels good for some doesn’t work as well for others. There can never be a perfect diet just like we couldn’t all fit into the same pair of jeans. Some of us need a lot of fat in our diets and some do well with less.
  • The context in which the food is eaten will affect how the body processes that food. A healthy salad eaten during a period of high stress may not sit as well in the same person as a piece of pizza eaten in a relaxed state surrounded by friends. It’s not that pizza is healthier but mindset and context matters a lot.

The more I learn, the more I’m convinced that simple is better. Tuning in to our body’s signals and going with the least processed or fiddled-with option is always a better bet than following the latest trend.

I hope you’ll join me for an info session where I discuss my views on food as well as the details on my best prevention tool for gently guiding clients towards healthier diet and lifestyle choices.

We are going through scary and destabilizing times. 

If you are feeling afraid and powerless, there are strategies you can implement for you and your family in order to stay healthy. The current practices that are being suggested by health officials are to prevent you from contracting the virus. 

To add to this approach, you can be more proactive with your own health and fortify your body and immune system so that should you contract the virus, you can hopefully shorten the duration and minimize the symptoms.

This means you have power now. 

My teacher and mentor Lorene Sauro R.H.N. created the following document. I am sharing it with you to provide you with ideas and tips. I’m here to help should you have any questions. Also know that I am now set up to offer remote consultations via zoom.

Understand that the immune system needs many things to fight. There is no magic bullet or quick fix. Take a look and see what you can easily add to your diet and daily routine to support the immune system. 

This is just one more way to do our part. The more regular folks like us take steps to support our immune system and strive for better health, the more we can avoid putting pressure on the overworked healthcare system. 

Be gentle with yourselves. Make trying new foods and activities fun and gradual. No one expects you to overhaul your diet overnight, but know that everything you do will add up over time. 

I hope this inspires you to take charge of your health and that you can learn to love the foods that will love you back.

Medical Disclaimer
All information contained in this document is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent health problems. For all serious health issues, please contact a medical or nutrition practitioner. The information provided is based on the best knowledge of the author at the time of writing, and we do not assume liability for the information, be it direct or indirect, consequential, special exemplary, or other damages. In all circumstances, it is always wise to consult your physician before changing your diet, taking supplements, or starting any exercise or health program.


Understanding a Healthy Immune System

Supporting the immune system is not about taking one supplement or avoiding certain foods. There is no quick fix. It’s about a comprehensive strategy to provide your body with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise all have an effect and can lower the body’s ability to fight infections and viruses.

Along with nutrient-dense foods that help the immune system to be strong, there are other dietary and supplement considerations.

Here are five key strategies to help support the immune system:

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation.
  2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens.
  3. Exercise.
  4. Implement stress management techniques.
  5. Make sleep a priority.

There are many options listed below. Don’t be overwhelmed. Just start with simple suggestions you know you can implement and then add what you can to build a complete strategy. This will serve you well both now and for years to come.

Inflammation

When the immune system fights pathogenic bacteria or viruses, it calls up many elements from its arsenal to neutralize the problem. Inflammation, either localized or throughout the body, is part of the tools your immune system uses to help fight anything it sees as harmful to you. Sometimes it’s wrong, as in the case of allergy or autoimmunity. And sometimes it’s right, as in the case of viruses and pathogens.

Too much inflammation can cause severe damage. For example, if there is too much inflammation in the lung, breathing can be impaired, which can be life threatening.

Controlling inflammation is also important. Many people are chronically inflamed. Should they contract a virus or bacterial infection, even more inflammation is going to occur, increasing the risk of a serious outcome.

Gut Health

The gut, and the good bacteria that reside there, is a major player for a healthy immune system. You can’t be healthy without a healthy gut. Unfortunately, it’s complicated, but there are foods and supplements that can help, and working with a health practitioner can help should you need a more comprehensive strategy.

What Can You Do to Support Your Immune System?

1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation.

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

Nutrients the immune system loves (and these are just a few suggestions):

Ideally you should choose to buy organic. Lowering your exposure to toxic chemicals is just one way to lower inflammation and take some pressure off the body and the immune system. Do the best you can.

  • Essential Fatty Acids: Found in chia, flax, hemp, cold-water fish such as salmon and tuna, butter, eggs, raw nuts and seeds
  • Vitamin A-Rich Foods: Eggs, butter, cod liver oil, sweet potatoes, carrots, tuna, squash, spinach and other green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin C–Rich Foods: Citrus fruits, carrots, kiwi, bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and other berries, broccoli, cabbage and sauerkraut
  • Vitamin E-Rich Foods: Olive oil, avocados, sunflower seeds, walnuts, salmon, turnip greens, mangos  Vitamin D-Rich Foods (and sunshine): Besides getting out in the sun,cod liver oil, salmon, mushrooms, milk or fortified milk substitutes, eggs
  • Zinc-Rich Foods: Meats, lentils and legumes, dairy products, vegetables, oysters, sesame seeds, cashews and other nuts, legumes, chocolate and cocoa, baker’s and brewer’s yeast

Consuming foods that have been studied to have anti-inflammatory properties is a good idea:

  • Omega 3-rich foods such as cold-water fish like salmon and tuna, chia, hemp, flax
  • Herbs and spices: Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, garlic, cloves, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage, rosemary, basil, peppermint, coriander, cilantro/coriander
  • Many vegetables have phytonutrients that are anti-inflammatory: Tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy, carrots, cauliflower, asparagus
  • Many fruits have anti-inflammatory phytonutrients: Berries, pineapples, papaya, citrus fruits, apples, cherries, avocado, sea buckthorn
  • Hemp oil extract or full-spectrum CBD oil – has anti-inflammatory properties

Lowering Inflammation

Avoid any known food sensitivities. This can also increase inflammation if you are reactive to specific foods. However, don’t look at lists that claim certain foods are “inflammatory.” Reaction to foods is an individual thing – the inflammation that a person may experience belongs to the person, not a food. The sensitive food is the symptom, and the cause is gut health issues. If you think this may be an issue for you, experiment by removing the food for a couple of weeks and see if you notice a difference.

Gut Health

The simplest way to start is to feed the gut the food good bacteria loves and remove the food it doesn’t. Fortunately, the good bacteria, just like the immune system, love foods that are full of nutrients. That’s not a coincidence. Adding foods that contain good bacteria also helps.

Here are some examples of foods that help the gut:

Probiotic and/or Fermented Foods:
Contain good gut bacteria that affect the adrenals, the thyroid, the liver and how our hormones function

 

 

  • Cultured vegetables, miso, tempeh, sourdough, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha, wine (red or white), unpasteurized beer
  • Raw honey contains 10 strain of good bacteria and has antimicrobial properties
  • Fermented foods also contain prebiotics so win-win.

Prebiotic Foods: Feed our resident good bacteria and aid good gut bacteria

  • FOS and inulin foods: Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onions, dandelion greens, asparagus, bananas, blueberries, almonds, broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, radish, chia, flax, tomatoes
  • Pectin foods: Apples, pears, lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi
  • GOS foods: Dairy products, legumes
  • Resistant starch foods: Wheat, rye, spelt, kamut, barley, oats, corn, brown rice (and cooled white rice), potatoes, sourdough, quinoa, sweet potatoes

Supporting other aspects of the gut Bone broth provides amino acids that help the intestinal wall lining. Colostrum, aloe vera and collagen also help nourish the gut lining, and all have some anti-inflammatory properties.

Ode to Mighty Mushrooms: Mushroom are immune system stars. They have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, they are all prebiotics, so they feed good gut bacteria. They’re available both fresh and dried (be sure to rehydrate dried by soaking in water for 30 minutes). Extract powders can also be added to recipes and smoothies or made into teas and supplements. Several companies have created products that contain several types of mushroom combinations and are available as tea or liquid extracts.

2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens.

For the Gut: Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender.

Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

What is an antimicrobial supplement or food? There are many supplements which contain phytochemicals that are known as antimicrobial. This means they have the potential to help the immune system fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They help “inhibit,” not “kill.” They can be useful for helping to eliminate excess pathogens and do not harm good bacteria.

Immune System Supplements: These supplements are misunderstood because they’re often called “immune boosters.” Many assume this means they will make the immune system more active, and in the case of the inflammation, more will be produced. This is not accurate, and the correct term is “immune balancers.” They can be very helpful to the immune system to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria.

Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

3. Exercise.

Exercise improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better. Go for a walk if you can, and if you like to jog, then do that too.

Look for apps or YouTube videos for exercises you can do at home.

Purchase a DVD online for yoga, Pilates or any other any type of exercise that appeals to you.

Get up frequently if you are sitting a lot and just walk around your house or apartment for a few minutes.

4. Implement stress management techniques.

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system and inflammation. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed by the immune system in other areas of the body. Even if you feel really stressed for periods of time during the day, it’s important to find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

 

Here’s some ideas:

  • Take regular breaks from the news or your work.
  • Distract yourself: Call friends or family and have a good chat. Watch a favourite movie or one that makes you laugh.
  • Practice meditation or mindfulness – there are YouTube videos and online apps that can help if this is not something you currently practice.
  • Listen to your favorite music; sing along and dance if you like.
  • Make time for your favourite hobbies.
  • Take an adrenal supplement – there are many. Look for them online or ask at your health food store. Talk to a health professional for more advice.

5. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

 

 

 

 

Here’s some tips:

  • Lower stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Try to create a proper sleep environment with a completely dark room and no sound distraction. Sleep masks and ear plugs can help where necessary.
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.
  • Read a book, take a warm bath or practice some deep breathing or relaxation exercise before bedtime to quiet the mind and prepare the body to fall asleep more easily and get a better-quality sleep.
  • Consider taking an herbal sleep formula or magnesium, if needed, to help you relax so that you can have a better sleep.

These are just a few suggestions. Think about these and know that you have the ability to help yourself and your family have a healthier immune system.

What I do has nothing to do with quick fixes.

If you’re interested in losing a few pounds and then going back to what you’ve always done. Then I’m likely not your gal.

If you are ready to tune in to your body’s signals and learn how foods and lifestyle changes can affect your health and immune system, then you’re at the right place.

Food is powerful.

I believe we can have it all; delicious food, great health and vitality, easy weight maintenance, better hormone balance and less inflammation.  All this is possible without cravings, feeling deprived or without living in a restrictive or punishing diet mentality.

I also think we have way more power over our health than we’ve been led to believe.  This little bit of information has been left out of the dialogue for way too long. Many common diseases and problems are preventable and avoidable.

We are a band-aid society. We’ve learned to slap band-aids on symptoms and never slow down enough to address the root causes of all those pesky symptoms.

Health is basic and fundamental. Without it, we are left with very little and we often can’t do the things we’ve been preparing for and saving for all these years. 

If you don’t think you have time to address the little red flags your body is sending you today. Rest assured; your body will make sure you pay attention once it’s reached its limits.  It will lay you flat! It’s called dis-ease .

The problem is we’ve never learned how to interpret or even tune in to the red flags or the messages our body is giving us.

Changes that are rooted in learning and understanding the why behind the suggested change become meaningful and long lasting.

Join me for an info session on how you can take charge of your health

I’ve distilled the success of my clients into 3 main factors that are the cornerstones for overall health and well-being.

Addressing these 3 key areas is like money in the bank for ensuring a productive, happy healthy future and making sure that you can actually do and enjoy all those things that you’ve been working so hard for.

  1. The first factor is balancing insulin levels. Dr Jason Fung discusses the impact of insulin in his book, The Obesity Code. Insulin is a master hormone in the body. Balanced stable insulin levels will have a huge impact on our ability to lose weight and keep it off.  Chronically high insulin levels will have an impact on energy, inflammation, cholesterol levels and hormone balance not to mention our risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Insulin affects our mood, anxiety and sleep. It’s a big one!
  2. The second factor is digestion. Hippocrates said: all disease begins in the gut. Strong digestion is foundational to good health. Proper digestion will ensure that all of those great nutrients from the whole foods we give our body can actually be accessed and  made available to the cells to do their job. Check out my blog on digestion.
  3. The third factor is proper elimination. Ensuring proper elimination and supporting our detoxification organs is also crucial for overall health. We are exposed to countless toxins from our environment, from our food as well as toxins that are generated from within. There are plenty of natural ways to ensure proper elimination and lessen the toxic load.

If any of this resonates, please listen to this recorded info session describing the Metabolic Balance program and why it’s my best tool for addressing the three factors described above.

I love the therapeutic approach to food that Metabolic Balance provides as well as the holistic-food first approach to health.

I hope you’ll join me for a virtual info session.

Check out some testimonials here

In most developed countries, cardiovascular disease and cancer are ranked as the top killers. Research clearly shows that these conditions are very strongly linked to lifestyle choices.

What does that mean? It means that we are not simply victims of our genetics or the luck of the draw; we actually have way more power over our health than previously believed.

It has been estimated that 30% of all cancers could be prevented through diet. Another large study showed that folks who ate the highest amounts of fruits and vegetables had a 20% lower risk of heart disease as well as a variety of other illnesses such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, asthma and even cataracts.

Wise diet and lifestyle choices are like money in the bank for safeguarding the quality of our tomorrows.

Allow me to showcase one single fruit; the mighty apple to give you an idea of how powerful whole foods can be for overall health.

Cancer: Apple consumption is linked to a reduced rate of lung cancer in several large studies.

Cardiovascular disease: Apple consumption is directly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Researchers attribute this to the high flavonoid content of apples.

Asthma and pulmonary function: Specific antioxidants and flavonoids in the apple appear to have a positive impact on asthma and pulmonary function.

Diabetes: Apple consumption has been associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. This could be due to the quercetin content; a component found in the peel of the apple.

Weight loss: Higher apple intake is associated with improved weight loss according to a study of overweight women in Brazil.

Cholesterol: Apples lower cholesterol and the main benefits seem to come from the fiber. Again, eating the whole fruit is best.

Detoxification: Apples are one of the best sources of glucaric acid, a compound of calcium D- glucarate.  Calcium D-glucarate is a powerful detoxifier of estrogen and has been linked to preventing breast, prostate and colon cancer as well as removing carcinogens and toxins from the body.

Skin and energy: Apples are one of the best sources of malic acid. Malic acid is commonly used in skin care products and for energy complaints such as chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.

Apples are available worldwide. They pack well, and their nutrient content remains largely unchanged after months of storage. Selecting organically grown apples is beneficial for the environment and for your health since growers must rely on more natural methods. Best of all they are delicious.

I’ve highlighted the apple but almost every natural whole food has its own reason to shine when it comes to giving your body what it needs to function optimally. Food is powerful.

Call me to learn more about how the Metabolic Balance method can help you manage your weight, regain your vitality, reduce inflammation, balance hormones and prevent health problems naturally using only delicious whole foods – including an apple a day.

With cold and flu season upon us as well as all of the hype about epidemics and outbreaks, I thought that now would be a good time to talk about the immune system.

Louis Pasteur said: ‘’It’s not about the germs, it’s about the terrain’’.

Our immune system is the terrain that Pasteur was referring to.

We are so concerned about sanitization and destroying pathogens that sometimes we forget about our biggest ally and our built-in defense system; our immune system.

It seems like the media always wants us waging war against something. These days it’s war against germs and viruses.

I recently had a kitchen session with a client that suffers from pretty severe eczema on her hands. When I watched her scrubbing her poor hands like a surgeon prepping for surgery, I questioned whether the intensity of the scrubbing was contributing to her skin problems.

In her defense, there is so much fear surrounding germs. Just listen to the news for 30 seconds and it’s easy to understand why some of us are over-scrubbing and over-sanitizing.

Don’t get me wrong! We need to use our common sense here. I’m not opposed to cleanliness or hand- washing. Good hygiene and sanitation will always be extremely important.

But I think it’s pretty clear that we’ll never manage to obliterate all of the bad bugs lurking in our environment, no matter what the Lysol commercials try to tell us.

In fact we’re seeing that the bugs are quite crafty and can mutate and develop resistance to our warring chemicals, antibiotics and sanitizers. So what’s the answer? Stronger chemicals, more vaccines?

A strong immune system is designed to protect the body against infection and cancer. Here are some key elements to help keep your immune system in top shape:

Manage stress
Increased blood levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol suppress immune function. We’ll never eliminate stress from our lives but it’s our job to take the necessary steps to keep it in check. What do you enjoy? Make the time to reconnect with things you love. Connecting with nature and brisk walking is an amazing stress buster and brings a little balance back into our lives. Meditation and mindfulness are scientifically proven to reduce the hormones of stress.

Sleep
Adequate and good quality sleep is incredibly important for healing and regeneration. Aim for a solid 7 hours or more, reduce blue light exposure and keep your bedroom cool. Here is a quick summary of tips to ensure quality sleep from Matthew Walker’s book: Why we sleep.

Avoid sugar
Sugar suppresses the immune response. The more sugar you eat, the more the immune system is compromised. Refined foods are stripped of the nutrients that your body needs to maintain a strong defense. Studies have shown that consuming 100g of sugar can reduce the action of a specific type of white blood cell called neutrophils by 50%. Neutrophils are major players in our immune system. How much is 100g of sugar? Just to give you an idea; an energy drink can contain up to 69g of sugar. It is estimated that the average American consumes about 125g of refined sugar per day. That means that we are in a chronic state of immune suppression.

Support the gut
70-80% of our immune system lives in the gut. Eating naturally fermented foods does amazing things for immune health and provides us with natural probiotics and enzymes that help with the digestion and absorption of essential nutrients. Most cultures have some version of fermented food. These ancient foods boast amazing qualities that range from prevention of bowel disease and cancer to improving allergies and autoimmune conditions.

Leafy greens
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, parsley, beet greens and Swiss chard are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that are essential for immune system health. Watch my easy pesto video for a delicious way to get more leafy greens into your diet.

Vegetables and sprouts
Vegetables and sprouts are naturally packed with the nutrients your immune system craves and they are delivered in a form your body can utilize. A wide variety of vegetables is a great insurance policy against succumbing to infection. If you’re into smoothies, here is a great way to maximize the nutrition of your morning smoothie.

Vitamin C
Supplemental vitamin C may be called for since we burn through this vitamin with stress. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and a major player in immune health. Naturally fermented sauerkraut is an excellent source of vitamin C.  Win win!

Vitamin D
We get most of our vitamin D from exposure to sunshine. Vitamin D is essential for immune health. Most of us living in the northern hemisphere can benefit from supplementing during the winter months. In a study conducted by Dr William Grant, it is estimated that by simply raising vitamin D levels; the death rate could be reduced by 16% and the economic burden be reduced by  more than 14 billion dollars.

Zinc
Zinc increases immunity and helps fight colds. Vegans and strict vegetarians need to be especially mindful since many animal products such as lamb and grass-fed beef are great sources of zinc.  It is believed that women taking the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy may be more susceptible to zinc deficiency.

Healthy Weight
Obesity is associated with higher rates of inflammation and decreased immune status. Studies in animals and people affected by obesity show impaired immune response as well as an increased risk of infection. Hospitalized patients that are obese are more likely to develop secondary infections and complications.

I hope I’ve provided some food for thought and helped shift your focus to some of the things you can do to naturally boost your own precious terrain.

If you would like to learn more about how a holistic approach to health and nutrition can benefit you; call me to book a free 30 minute consultation.

To say that we are what we eat isn’t completely accurate; we’re actually what we manage to breakdown, digest and assimilate.

Weak digestion is a very common problem. Some of the most obvious symptoms are heartburn, indigestion, bloating, cramping, gassiness, constipation and diarrhea.

Other issues that can be linked to poor digestion are food sensitivities and allergies, chronic fatigue, weight issues, skin issues such as dry skin, acne and rosacea, brittle nails, pernicious anemia, osteoporosis, many autoimmune conditions have been linked to the gut and of course conditions like irritable bowel syndrome are directly linked to poor digestion.

If you would like to learn practical tips and tools that you will be able to start implementing in your life right away healthier food, please join me for an information-packed workshop.

 

Here are my top 4 tips to improve digestion:

1-Don’t eat when stressed or anxious

Our fast-paced and stressed-out lives are not conducive to healthy digestion.
Our bodies have evolved to be very efficient. For our early ancestors, when the stress hormones got turned on, that was a signal to prepare to fight or to run for their lives.

When stress is high, our bodies are just not capable of efficient digestion.

Be mindful of how you are feeling around meal time and avoid eating if you are feeling especially anxious or stressed. Hydrochloric acid or HCl is an essential part of healthy digestion as we will discuss later. Stress turns off the natural secretion of HCl in the stomach.

The old fashioned tradition of giving thanks or saying grace before a meal is actually a huge plus for digestion since it forces us to slow down, allowing the body to prepare to receive nourishment. The anticipation of the delicious flavours, the smell and the sight of food all prime the system to begin digestion.

2- Chew, chew, chew
The importance of careful chewing can’t be emphasized enough. Digestion begins in the mouth with the mechanical breakdown of food and the mixing of food particles with enzyme-rich saliva that begins the chemical breakdown of certain foods. When we gobble down our food, we skip this step putting a huge strain on the rest of the digestive process.

Get in the habit of putting down your utensils between bites and don’t fill your fork until the bite in your mouth is chewed thoroughly and swallowed.  Many clients have noticed that simply slowing down and being a little more mindful at mealtimes has made a huge difference with digestive issues.

3- Incorporate fermented foods  
Fermentation has been used for thousands of years. Every culture has a tradition of fermented food. Perhaps the most popular and widely known fermented food is yoghurt.

Germans have traditionally fermented cabbage to make sauerkraut, Koreans also have a delicious version of fermented cabbage and radish called kimchi, the Jewish tradition is known for  naturally fermented pickles, eastern European countries ferment milk to make kefir, the Japanese ferment grains or soybeans to make miso and China ferments tea to make kombucha.

Fermenting food is a great way to preserve food for later use but the fermentation process provides many other health benefits. Fermenting foods actually boosts the food’s enzyme and nutrient content making foods more bioavailable and it provides beneficial bacteria that are indispensable for digestion.  Digestion is a highly enzyme-dependant process making fermented foods superstars for digestive health.

Eating a little fermented food with each meal is a tasty and easy way to support digestion and provide the body with beneficial bacteria.  Beware of pasteurized products or products that skip the fermentation step and simply add vinegar. Here are some of my favourite brands:

Kefir provides about 30 strains of beneficial bacteria to support digestion compared to yoghurt that provides about two or three strains.

Kefir can be found in any grocery store, I suggest buying plain unsweetened kefir and sweetening it yourself with good quality sweeteners like maple syrup or raw honey. Raw honey is also a great source of natural enzymes to support digestion.

Here is a delicious recipe you can try with kefir.

 

4-Increase stomach acid.
Our stomachs are designed to be very acidic. Hydrochloric acid (or HCl) is secreted by the cells that line our stomach and provide acidity that is crucial for several reasons; it is necessary for digesting the protein we eat by activating key enzymes, it acts as a natural antiseptic by inhibiting pathogens that hitch a ride into our systems through the food we eat, it is necessary for mineral absorption, and finally it determines the speed at which our stomach empties.

When we don’t produce enough hydrochloric acid, the food we eat sits around in the stomach longer than it should which can lead to putrefaction and fermentation in the stomach (think of hamburger meat left out in damp 37 degree Celsius weather) contributing to a lot of discomfort, gas and bloating. In an attempt to process and digest the food, the stomach continues to churn and mix its contents. Occasionally, the contents will back up into the esophagus creating a burning sensation commonly known as heartburn, or acid reflux.

The conventional mindset is to suppress stomach acid when that burning sensation arises. However, it’s important to note that if there was sufficient acid available in the stomach to efficiently deal with the ingested food in a timely manner, then there wouldn’t be any burning or reflux in the first place.
By suppressing or neutralizing stomach acid with antacids, we are in effect further impairing digestion that was likely weak in the first place.

If you have ever taken antacids, or suffer with GERD, heartburn or acid reflux, I highly suggest you read the following article.

In his book Why stomach acid is good for you, Dr Jonathan Wright estimates that about 90% of American’s don’t produce enough stomach acid.

Here are some reasons why low stomach acid is so common:

Stress: stress interferes with the secretion of HCl.

Age: many experts believe that HCl secretion declines as we age which explains why overindulging and overeating don’t go over quite as well as we get older.

Processed and refined foods: our standard North American diet (SAD) that is to say, highly refined and processed foods, impairs the natural secretion of stomach acid and robs the system of necessary nutrients that are needed for the digestive process.

Alcohol: too much alcohol can interfere with stomach acid as well as the use of certain over the counter and prescribed medication.

Here are some things you can do to boost stomach acid naturally:

Raw apple cider vinegar before meals. Raw apple cider vinegar is a fermented food that is full of beneficial enzymes and beneficial bacteria. Apple cider vinegar will also help correct the pH of the stomach. Take 1 tablespoon in a little warm water before meals.

Digestive bitters have been used for thousands of years and are a natural way to support digestion.

Digestive enzymes and HCl with pepsin.  Most folks respond incredibly well to the lifestyle and diet changes that I’ve listed above and don’t require additional support. However, occasionally digestive enzymes or supplemental HCl can be appropriate. Always consult with a health professional before taking supplements.

A final word on overweight and digestion:
Poor digestion is often a contributing factor to weight issues. If the food you are eating isn’t efficiently being broken down, metabolized and absorbed, the system will continue to signal hunger in an attempt to nourish itself. This applies especially if the foods eaten are highly processed and enzyme depleted. Switching to more natural and nutrient-dense foods, while supporting digestion and elimination, always results in some pretty noticeable changes.

If you would like to learn more tips to make healthier food choices, please join me for an information-packed workshop.

I was having dinner with a colleague the other evening and we were discussing how lucky we were to be doing work that was so satisfying and, well, fun.

He previously worked in a high pressure job in the corporate world dealing with deadlines and giant amounts of stress. A near burnout was his red flag to make the scary career change and listen to his heart and what his body was telling him. My experience working with seniors and a very sick dad is what prompted me to empower myself and take control of my health and happiness.

We both agreed that the reason our new careers are so uplifting and motivating is because we get to share with every single one of our client’s amazing transformations and journeys. Hearing from clients on a daily basis, how their diet and lifestyle changes have improved their health and wellbeing is motivating.

Being immersed in the holistic nutrition field and having principles and facts re-affirmed constantly, through research and reading, is another factor that inspires me and has led me to embrace the changes that I’ve implemented in my life. Looking back, these changes have happened gradually and gently but have amounted to a pretty major shift in the healthy direction.

I often wish that I was a better writer to be able to share some of these amazing testimonials, tips and tidbits of information with you to inspire you the same way that I am inspired. When I do sit down to write or try to put something together, I become paralyzed, constantly tweaking and reworking blog posts that end up never getting shared.

How long should the text be? How do I tie everything together so it flows? What if people think it’s dumb? What if people get tired of hearing from me? I have at least half a dozen texts sitting around that I haven’t been brave enough to share.  I never thought of myself as a perfectionist but apparently I was wrong.

A mentor recently shared this statement that resonated: ‘’Go with good enough. When you’re waiting for perfect, the world will never get your help’’

So I’m going for it! I’m committing to 6 blog posts/newsletters (I’m still not sure what the difference is) over the next 6 months. They may not be coherent, they may be too long or too short, and there may even be an occasional typo, gaawwd.

I would also like to invite you to a workshop that I’ve put together that was also designed to inspire you: Foods that heal, foods that harm. In this workshop I will share my top health tips; practical tips and tools that you will be able to start implementing in your life right away. We’ll also demystify some common misconceptions and provide you with tools to make better choices at the grocery store. I hope you can join us.

As thank you for tuning in today, I’m sharing a delicious no cook brownie recipe that was shared with me by a client. I recently pulled it out and thought I’d whip up a batch for the holidays.

I’m not much of a baker because I don’t do well following recipes but this recipe is Kimmy proof.

I suggest soaking the nuts overnight to improve their digestibility. The nuts and the chia seeds provide beautiful healthy fats and great fiber. I decided to make my brownies into little balls that I then rolled into more cocoa powder. I keep mine in the freezer for when that chocolate craving hits. When clients confess to chocolate cravings, my mind always goes to a possible lack of magnesium in the diet. This is quite common since we burn through magnesium like crazy with stress; cocoa is a great source of magnesium.

If you’d like to learn more, Kim will be sharing her tops tips for better health in a workshop. Learn simple things you can do to begin shifting your health today.

Perhaps you want to start taking better care of yourself, lose a couple of pounds or just feel better overall? Water is always step one.

Do you suffer from digestive disturbances, heartburn or constipation? Do you get a lot of urinary tract infections? Do you have dry skin? Is your urine very dark? You may be ignoring your body’s many cries for water.

Before reaching for a Tylenol next time you get a headache. Try a couple of glasses of water and wait about 15 minutes; it’s surprising how many headaches are due to dehydration. It isn’t uncommon to see long standing conditions disappear simply by adding water.

Despite its importance, most people I meet don’t drink enough water. About 20% of the population don’t drink any water at all and about 42% drink a mere 2 glasses a day or less.  Did you know that the thirst signal can actually be confused for hunger when your body is in a state of dehydration?

A lot of folks get discouraged when they attempt to increase their water intake because they’re constantly running to the washroom.

Have you ever forgotten a plant outside and let it get really dried out? Did you notice that when you first watered it when it was in that very dried up state, the water just poured right out the bottom?

Our bodies react similarly when severely dehydrated. Attempting to guzzle two or three liters a day when you usually only manage a glass or so, will result in the water pouring right back out.

The key is to start gradually. I generally suggest increasing your water intake by one cup first thing upon waking and maybe one cup between lunch and dinner and do that for a week. The next week add another cup in the morning and another cup in the afternoon and so on.

Keep in mind that our bodies are most contracted and acidic in the morning since a lot of detoxifying happens during the night while we sleep. So starting your day with one or two glasses of water is really a gift and a great habit to get into.

The more water you drink and as your body rehydrates, the more you will notice the thirst response returning.

 

Join me for a practical workshop if you would like to learn a simple formula to calculate your personal water prescription.

Concerned about weight loss? 

We are all exposed to toxins from our environment, from our food, the air we breathe, personal care products etc. Whatever toxins the body cannot metabolize will get stored far away from the major organs such as the liver, heart or lungs. Most toxins are stored in the fat and in joints, basically out of harm’s way and away from essential operations.

So when you ask your body to release fat, it automatically implies that you will be releasing toxins into the system. Your body will never release these harmful and reactive compounds into the system and into the circulation if you are not giving your body the means to eliminate them through the bowels, urine or sweat. Metabolism will slow down or even come to a screeching halt if it has to, rather than expose the tissues to harmful toxins.

When clients come to me for weight loss, I always get them to chart how much water they are taking in on a daily basis so that they can make the connection between weight loss and sufficient water intake.

What they always notice is; days when weight loss stopped or plateaued are always preceded by days when they were out and about and didn’t manage to get all of their water in. When they resume their proper water intake, weight continues to come off.

I hope this has inspired you to drink a bit more water this holiday season.  I promise it will help you maintain your weight and help prevent putting on those unwanted pounds. Increasing water intake is simply a habit that needs to be changed.  Find a trick or method that works for you.

I find that having water in plain view is my best incentive to drink. I also prefer water at room temperature. One client claims it tastes sweeter that way.  I also like to power drink in the morning so that I can quit early in the evening to avoid too many trips to the bathroom at night. Some clients keep elastics around their reusable water bottle. If for example you calculate that you need to fill your water bottle five times a day, you would place five elastics around the bottle and remove one each time you’ve polished one off.  Some clients get more water in if they drink from a straw. There are also apps that you can download onto your phone to remind you to drink.

Try to drink most of your water between meals. Drinking large amounts with meals will dilute digestive juices, reducing digestion and assimilation. Sipping small amounts with meals is fine.

Finally, keep in mind that nothing replaces pure water. Coffee, tea, soda and concentrated juices will upset our water balance and can act as diuretics, causing us to eliminate more water than the beverage contains.

Pure water is nature’s best medicine.

Would you like to learn more practical tools for overall health and prevention or just get inspired to make wiser choices? Join me for a workshop where I will share my top tips; practical things that you will be able to implement right away that will have noticeable impact on your diet and health.