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Bye Bye Sleeping Through the Night

Posted on 29 January, 2020 at 10:30



Have you said “bye bye” to sleeping through the night?

 

Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

 

Do not fear, I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) for you!

 

The science of sleep is fascinating, complicated and growing

 

Sleep is this daily thing that we all do and yet we're just beginning to understand all of the ways it helps us and all of the factors that can affect it.

 

Lack of sleep affects just about everything in your body and mind. People who get less sleep tend to be at higher risk for so many health issues like diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer; not to mention effects like slower metabolism, weight gain, hormone imbalance, and inflammation. And don't forget the impact lack of sleep can have on moods, memory and decision-making skills.

 

Do you know that lack of sleep may even negate the health benefits of your exercise program? (Gasp!)

 

OMG – What aspect of health does sleep not affect???

 

Knowing this it's easy to see the three main purposes of sleep:

● To restore our body and mind. Our bodies repair, grow and even “detoxify” our brains while we sleep.

● To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, technically known as “synaptic plasticity”.

● To conserve some energy so we're not just actively “out and about” 24-hours a day, every day.

 

Do you know how much sleep adults need? It's less than your growing kids need but you may be surprised that it's recommended that all adults get 7 - 9 hours a night. For real!

 

Try not to skimp!

 

(Don't worry, I have you covered with a bunch of actionable tips below.)

 

Tips for better sleep

 

● The biggest tip is definitely to try to get yourself into a consistent sleep schedule. Make it a priority and you're more likely to achieve it. This means turning off your lights 8 hours before your alarm goes off. Seven. Days. A. Week. I know weekends can easily throw this off but by making sleep a priority for a few weeks your body and mind will adjust and thank you for it.

 

● Balance your blood sugar throughout the day. You know, eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber). Choose the whole orange instead of the juice (or orange-flavoured snack). Make sure you're getting some protein every time you eat.

 

● During the day get some sunshine and exercise. These things tell your body it's daytime; time for being productive, active and alert. By doing this during the day it will help you wind down more easily in the evening.

 

● Cut off your caffeine and added sugar intake after 12pm. Whole foods like fruits and veggies are fine, it's the “added” sugar we're minimizing. Yes, this includes your beloved chai latte. Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be come evening. (HINT: I have a great caffeine-free chai latte recipe for you below!).

 

● Have a relaxing bedtime routine that starts 1 hour before your “lights out” time (that is 8 - 10 hours before your alarm is set to go off). This would include dimming your artificial lights, nixing screen time and perhaps reading an (actual, not “e”) book or having a bath.

 

So how many of these tips can you start implementing today?

 

Recipe (Caffeine-free latte for your afternoon “coffee break”): Caffeine-Free Chai Latte

 

Serves 1-2

 

1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)

2 cups of boiling water

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)

2 dates (optional)

 

Cover the teabag and dates (if using) with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for a few minutes.

 

Discard the tea bag & place tea, soaked dates, tahini & almond butter into a blender.

 

Blend until creamy.

 

Serve and Enjoy!

 

Tip: You can try this with other nut or seed butters to see which flavour combination you like the best. Cashew butter anyone?

 

References:

 

http://www.thepaleomom.com/gotobed/

 

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

 

How to Improve Gut Health

Posted on 6 January, 2020 at 14:00


Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

 

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think. And we're not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We're talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

 

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It's here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We're just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain (have you heard of "the gut-brain axis"). Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too. These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health.

 

So, let's talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I'll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally.

 

Our gut’s role in our overall health

 

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

 

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

 

For one thing, our guts can "leak." Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it's not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can "leak." When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don't seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

 

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

 

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

 

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

 

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

 

How to improve gut health

 

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

 

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants. Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

 

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

 

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

 

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

 

And don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you. It’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function.

 

Conclusion

 

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

 

The main ways to improve both of these naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

 

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

 

Serves 12

 

1 L warm water

4 tsp salt

4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)

 

Instructions

 

 

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

 

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don't float (you can use a "fermenting weight").

 

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavor will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/

 

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

 

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

 

Fitness Fuel: What to Eat Before, During & After Your Workout

Posted on 12 December, 2019 at 18:30



You’ve just finished your workout and you know you need to eat something. But what?

Workout nutrition may seem rather complicated but it doesn’t have to be.

Here’s the latest on how to fuel your body before, during and after your workout so you can improve your performance, maximize recovery - and feel better!

Fuel your machine

You’d never head out on a long road trip without filling your tank with gas, right?!

Skipping your pre- workout fuel is the equivalent of hitting the road with an empty gas tank. You may get off to a good start, but you’ll likely be running on fumes in no time.

When you feed your body with the right nutrients before your workout, you’ll be able to lift more, run longer & faster, and speed up your gains. Plus you’ll feel so much better doing it!

So, what should you be eating Pre-workout?

Since our body’s preferred energy source is carbohydrates, your pre-workout fuel should be higher in carbohydrates and lower in protein and fat.

 

Protein and fat are harder for our body to digest, and this uses up extra energy that we could be putting toward our workout.

 

Aim to eat about an hour before your workout to give your body time to digest and absorb the nutrients.

 

Here are a few Pre-Workout options that work well for pre-strength or pre-cardio workouts:

 

● Wholegrain rice cake with 1 Tbsp nut butter

● Small apple and a handful of raw nuts (or nut butter)

● ½ cup of plain oatmeal with berries

Sports Drinks or Water?

Just plain water will do the trick during your workout. Experts recommend drinking between 3-8 oz of water every 15 minutes during your sweat session.

 

Also, you can hold off on the sports drinks unless you’re exercising for 90 minutes or longer, or are exercising in extreme heat.

 

Sports drinks help to replace carbohydrates and electrolytes but are not necessary for the average gym goer.

 

Why not skip the sugary, neon-blue commercial sports drink all together and just whip up your own for longer, sweatier workouts?

 

Just grab a ½ cup pure orange juice, top with filtered water and add a pinch of sea salt or pink salt. You’ve got a DIY electrolyte replacement drink for a fraction of the cost and infinitely healthier ;-)

What to Eat after a Cardio Session

It is still recommended that you eat your post-cardio snack 30-60 minutes after finishing up.

 

However, you’ll be using more carbohydrate stores during a sweaty cardio workout (think running or spinning) than you would during your lifting session.

 

This is why you’ll need to eat a snack or meal that is 3:1 or 4:1 carb to protein ratio - similar to your pre-workout ratio.

 

Try one of these snacks after your next cardio workout to replenish your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) used and to help you recover faster:

 

● Sprouted grain toast and nut butter

● 5-10 whole grain crackers & 2 Tbsp hummus or bean dip

● Small banana and a small handful of raw nuts or seeds

What to Eat After Strength Training or Lifting Weights

Once you finish that last rep, pat yourself on the back and then fuel up on the protein!

 

Aim to eat within 30-60 minutes post workout to help your body recovery and to build those muscles you’ve been working so hard for. This meal should be approximately a 2:1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates.

 

Here are a few examples of a balanced “post-lifting” meal:

 

● Grilled chicken breast with roasted vegetables

● 2 hard boiled eggs and whole grain crackers

 

You’ll also love this delicious smoothie - packed with protein, fibre and the anti-inflammatory benefits of tart cherries!

 

RECIPE

 

Very Cherry Recovery Smoothie

 

1 cup of non-dairy milk of choice

1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (unsweetened, less processed)

1 handful of fresh or frozen tart cherries (frozen will have a thicker consistency)

1-2 tbsp of chia seeds or hemp hearts

1 handful of greens (spinach or baby kale work well here)

2-3 ice cubes (more if you’ve used fresh cherries)

 

Blend, enjoy and watch those muscles grow!

 

________________________________________

REFERENCES

 

LiveStrong: Post Workout Carb-Protein Ratio

 

The Washington Post: The Best Way To Eat Before & After Exercise

 

CBC.ca: Sports Drinks Unnecessary, Counterproductive For Most People

 


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