I am constantly amused at the health claims I hear on TV commercials. Sometimes I find the commercial breaks more interesting than the show I'm watching!
I am even more amused when the companies get caught in the lie:
Nutella is paying just over $3 million to settle a class action lawsuit. Apparently, it had been misleading consumers to think it was a healthy food. A San Diego mom thought Nutella would be a good breakfast staple for her 4-year-old daughter after watching a commercial for the yummy spread. When she realized she had been misled she filed a class action lawsuit against Ferrero USA, the manufacturer.
Aside from the fine, Nutella’s website no longer makes any health claim; it rather focuses on the tag line – “Breakfast never tasted this good.”
So how “healthy” is Nutella?
A 2 tablespoon serving, which is what most people spread on a piece of toast, is 190 calories. It contains 11 grams of fat, 3.5 of which are saturated (18% of your daily recommended value). The 21 grams of sugar in a serving are equivalent to 5 teaspoonfuls!
Here is the ingredient list:
sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skim milk, reduced minerals whey (from milk), soy lecithin: an emulsifier, vanillin: an artificial flavor.
As expected, the first ingredient is sugar. Regarding the modified palm oil, it isn't really clear what has been done with the oil. In the past, Nutella used hazelnut oil, but then switched to much cheaper (and unhealthy) options. Soy lecithin is used to firm up the spread and keep things from separating. Unless organic, it is made with genetically modified soy beans. Vanillin, is a super cheap artificial flavouring. Most of the vanillin manufactured today is made from petroleum and benzene. Yes, you read that right. Benzene is a known carcinogen and we all know what petroleum is. Yuck.
I love Nutella as a treat. A jar should last you a couple of months when used only ocasionally - as a treat.
Welcome to the written version of The Total Package! We will start with hormones and their effect on appetite and fat loss and then move on to PMS an d menopause. Lastly, we will discuss thyroid imbalance.
Hormones are the chemical messengers in our bodies that are responsible for everything from our mood to our metabolism. They control the communication between our body and brain through the endocrine system. If all is well in our world, the system is incredible and efficient. Unfortunately, all is not well in our world. The processed food, the plastics, the cleansers (both for home and personal care), the stress, the air, the lack of sleep, the lack of daily exercise........so many things out there to mess up our endocrine system. Unfortunately, many of these things are out of our control. That is why it is so important to take ownership of the things that are within our control. The easiest area for us to make our own is the food that we eat. We can change our eating habits immediately. It might take a little longer to organize our life to ensure better sleep and more exercise and it will take some budgeting to afford 'cleaner' cleaning products - but, we can choose the apple over the cupcake instantly and effectively!
The challenge lies in the time it takes for our hormones to readjust to our better eating habits. It will take time for the adjustment to be made. We must be patient!
Let's begin with the annoyance many of you feel when you are eating well and exercising and yet are still unable to lose the fat that theoretically should be gone. Or how about that constant feeling of hunger? Or what about no hunger, but just cannot control that craving for something crappy? Or what about the late night snacking? You know it's wrong, but just can't seem to gain control over it.
The hormones that are mainly responsible for these frustrations are: LEPTIN and GHRELIN.
Leptin is produced by fat cells and works as an appetite suppressant. It keeps your metabolism high and works with other hormones - thyroid, cortisol and insulin. It is most active in the brain (meaning the most receptors are there), but there are leptin receptors throughout the body. When it is working properly, it helps the body tap into fat storage for energy and thereby reduce fat. When leptin levels are low, this hormone will signal the body to store fat. One would then assume that low levels are the problem, right? Nope. The key is maintaining the RIGHT amount and staying in a balanced state. Having too high a level of leptin is usually the issue.
When the body keeps producing leptin - a natural response to overeating - the leptin receptors get worn out and no longer recognize it. This is the same thing that happens with insulin resistance and the development of diabetes. Your body becomes leptin resistant and the signal that you are full never gets sent. You remain hungry and your metabolism slows right down. This condition also interferes with your T4 (a thyroid hormone) which further damages your metabolism.
It is crucial to find the right balance of leptin and create the right environment in the body for proper communication for all hormonal activity. Dare I state the obvious?! Let's just get them out of the way: Get more sleep. Reduce your stress. Exercise. Avoid processed foods. Limit alcohol and caffeine. Don't smoke.
There. Now, here are a couple of other things you can do to help bring balance back:
Replace vegetable oils with coconut oil and olive oil for the most part. Once in awhile, using vegetable oil is okay - however, in excess it causes inflammation which upsets balance in the body (among all kinds of other horrible things). Vegetable oils are part of the Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid group and we need to increase our Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids and lessen the Omega 6.
Eat more almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds - all good sources of Omega 3. Use flaxseed oil in your salad dressings (keep it in the fridge). Find grass fed beef which is far richer in Omega 3 than the corn fed (high in Omega 6).
There is a delicate ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 in our human body. On average, we are at a 20:1 (Omega 6:Omega 3) and we need to be at a 2 or 1:1 ratio.
Increase your zinc. Good sources are pumpkin seeds, oysters, kidney beans (most beans), sesame seeds (most seeds) and cashews (most nuts).
Eat slowly. It takes approximately 20 minutes for leptin to kick in and for you to start to feel full. This will help you not over eat.
Don't have a huge dinner. Make your last meal the smallest one.
Strength Train! Yay, Inner Athletes!!! More muscle mass means smaller fat cells and better hormonal balance.
Yes, I listed getting enough sleep in the obvious pile of things we need to do. But, sleep is when leptin is produced. In order to achieve balance, we need to let the body do it's thing when it is scheduled to do so. Aim for 8 hours :)
Next up: GHRELIN.
Starting every morning with a glass of lemon water is actually a ritual in Ayurveda and Yogic traditions, used to stimulate digestion for the day and clear the body of any toxins that may have settled in the digestive tract overnight.
We tend to reach for those warm beverages in the morning like coffee and tea, but try starting your day with some room temperature lemon water first to kick-start digestion. Use half a fresh lemon per large glass of water (or work up to half, starting with a quarter - but never that plastic craps!) Here are 5 health benefits of drinking lemon water that elevate drinking it for reasons beyond just taste:
1) Support immune function: Lemons are high in antioxidant vitamin C, known for its supportive role in healthy immune function, which may reduce the risk of respiratory infection. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) found in lemons demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects, and is used as complementary support for asthma and other respiratory symptoms. Lemons also contain saponins, which show antimicrobial properties that may help keep cold and flu at bay. Last but not least, ascorbic acid enhances iron absorption in the body; iron plays an important role in immune function.
2) Alkalize the body: Although the tartness of a lemon may make them seem acidic, lemons are actually one of the most alkalizing foods for the body. Lemons contain both citric and ascorbic acid, weak acids easily metabolized from the body allowing the mineral content of lemons to help alkalize the blood. This is important, as stress and our typical North American eating habits create an acidic environment in our bodies.
3) Aid digestion: Citrus flavonols are believed responsible for lemon’s traditional use as a digestive tonic. Believed to stimulate and purify the liver, lemon juice is traditionally understood to support digestive hydrochloric acid in the stomach further aiding digestion. Vitamin C status has been associated with reduced risk of peptic ulcers caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori.
4) Clear skin: Vitamin C and other antioxidants in lemons combat free radical damage. Free radical damage — especially as caused by UV exposure and environmental toxins — is responsible for many symptoms of aging. Antioxidant intake can help offset this damage, minimizing wrinkles. Further, lemon juice can be applied topically to scars and age spots to help reduce their appearance. Traditionally used as a liver stimulant, lemon water is also believed to help purge toxins from the blood, helping to keep skin clear of blemishes.
5) Promote healing: Ascorbic acid (vitamin C), found in abundance in lemons, promotes wound healing, and is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of healthy bones, connective tissue, and cartilage. As noted previously, vitamin C also displays anti-inflammatory properties. Combined, vitamin C is an essential nutrient in the maintenance of good health and recovery from stress and injury.
It is difficult to think of men’s health and not consider the prostate, since prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men.
Prostate problems, such as benign prostatic hyperplasia (prostate swelling), prostatitis (inflammation and/or infection), and frequent nighttime urination, are hard enough to contend with, but what’s more concerning is that prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Canadian men and is diagnosed at the same rate as breast cancer is in Canadian women.
Testosterone Not the Culprit
When it comes to prostate disease, the common belief is that prostate growth and cancer is fuelled by testosterone, but numerous studies indicate that estrogen, not testosterone, may actually be the culprit.
This makes sense, as all men lose testosterone as they age, all the while gaining estrogen–especially estradiol, the most powerful of the estrogens. Many research studies back this assumption, including a 2005 study from the University of Chicago which showed that testosterone is able to induce death to prostate tumours, while estradiol is essential for initiating their growth.
Another study from the Harvard Medical School looked at the association of free and total testosterone to prostate disease and cancer concluding that no correlation exists between testosterone (both free and total) and prostate cancer. The study also showed that low–not high—serum-free testosterone may be a marker for more aggressive disease.
The recommendations below will be beneficial for both men and women in the natural fight against all cancers.
One of the best ways to reduce excess harmful estrogens is to consume plenty of cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts). Researchers from Cancer Care Ontario report that consuming more than one serving of broccoli and cauliflower a week may reduce prostate cancer risk by 45 percent.
This is probably due to a group of powerful phytonutrients called indoles, the most powerful of which is indole-3-carbinol which has been shown in studies to help stimulate enzymes that weaken powerful estrogens, block carcinogens from entering prostate cells, and initiate the self-destruction mechanism in cancer cells.
Also important is reducing inflammation. Lowering consumption of omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils, high-fat, grain fed meats, dairy products) and increasing intake of omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseeds, hempseeds, walnuts, salmon, mackerel, tuna, and krill) have been shown to greatly reduce prostate cancer tumour growth rates.
Zinc-rich foods: A deficiency in the mineral zinc has been connected to poor prostate health. Zinc is not only nourishing to the prostate but also essential for male hormone production. Foods with high zinc content include pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, mushrooms, spinach, whole grains, and seafood (especially oysters).
Garlic: This powerful herb has been preventing disease since Hippocrates recommended it centuries ago. Today studies show that those who eat fresh garlic daily have lower rates of cancer than those who do not. Traditionally, one clove per day has been used as a cancer preventive. Garlic is thought to help prevent cancer in many ways, for example by aiding in the breakdown of the hormone testosterone and by enhancing immune function.
Lycopene-containing foods: The red pigment in tomatoes is thought to reduce prostate cancer risk. Lycopene is made more available once the tomatoes are cooked. Enjoy homemade tomato soups, stews, and sauces. Other foods that offer this cancer-fighting boost include strawberries, watermelons, and pink grapefruits.
High-fibre foods: We often think of heart health in relation to high-fibre foods, but a lack of fibre is also linked to cancer. The fibre in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains help to eliminate toxins from the body. Try leafy green vegetables and whole grains such as barley, quinoa, buckwheat (or kasha), wild rice, brown rice, and oats.
Pomegranate juice: This juice contains polyphenols and other antioxidants that researchers have proven beneficial for prostate health. Well-publicized results of the first clinical trial of pomegranate juice in men with prostate cancer were published in Clinical Cancer Research in 2006.
The trial involved 50 men who had received surgery or radiation for prostate cancer, but were identified as at risk for further recurrence. Researchers measured the rate of time it took for the men’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) to double, indicating a potential progression of the condition.
Men who consumed 8 ounces (250 mL) of pomegranate juice daily were able to delay their PSA doubling time from an average of 15 months to an average of 54 months (four and a half years). Some men in the study had suppressed PSA levels after three years, despite having no other treatment than the daily pomegranate juice.
Now researchers in California have shown that drinking 8 oz (250 mL) of pomegranate juice daily increased blood flow to the heart and could help prevent heart disease. The juice was shown to have no negative effect on weight gain or blood sugar levels.
Fortunately, this fruit juice is available year-round at supermarkets and health food stores.
Here is a treat recipe that uses this healthy juice.
3 cups (750 mL) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (60 mL) raisins
1/4 cup (60 mL) dried apricots, chopped
1/4 -1/2 cup (125 mL) honey (to taste)
1 cup (250 mL) pomegranate juice
Base and Topping
2 cups (500 mL) spelt flour
1 1/2 tsp (7mL) ground ginger
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) rolled oats
3/4 cup (185 mL) raw sunflower seeds
3/4 cup (185 mL) coconut butter (or coconut oil if you can't find butter)
1/4 cup (125 mL) brown rice syrup or honey
To prepare filling, combine dried fruit, honey, and pomegranate juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until mixture thickens, about 5 to 10 minutes.
To prepare base and topping, preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Grease a 9 x 13-in (23 x 33-cm) baking pan. Mix together all base ingredients in a large bowl, blending in coconut butter with fingertips until mixture looks like moist crumbs. Set aside 1 1/2 cups of mixture for topping, and press remaining crumbs firmly into bottom of baking pan. Bake 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and spread with cranberry filling. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top and bake another 30 minutes. Allow to cool before serving.
Makes 12 bars.
The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research held an 8 week study where volunteers did strength training 3 times a week - one group added stretches at the end, the other did not. Those who stretched tripled their muscle strength!
If you’re training hard, but still not seeing the results you would like, it could have to do with a lack of proper nutritional support. You deserve to reap the benefits of the time and effort you have put into training.
What you eat immediately after exercise is critical for muscle recovery, and a good ratio of carbohydrate to protein (generally 4:1) is important. Carbohydrates help replace what was burned during exercise, thereby speeding recovery and protein initiates the muscular repair process and helps the carbohydrates enter the blood stream more quickly.
Having an apple with some nut butter or some greens with a sprinkle of nut/seeds and goat cheese is great after a workout. A cup of quinoa or brown rice salad works well, too.
Of course, there is always the smoothie! A scoop of protein powder with some water/almond milk/coconut milk and frozen fruit is quick and yummy.
Here's a great recipe:
Apple Cinnamon and Oatmeal Shake:
· 3 Tbsp of rolled oats
· 2 Tbsp of almond butter
· 1 apple, chopped
· ¼ tsp of nutmeg
· 1 ½ tsp of cinnamon
· ½ cup ice
· 1 cup almond milk
· ½ — 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder
Add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.