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Fresh or Frozen Fruit & Veggies – What’s best

This is a question that comes up from time to time. 

Foods with high amounts of vitamins B and C are best fresh because the vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they’re usually dissolved in food processing. In the fresh produce section, go for bell peppers, citrus fruits, cabbage, and berries. 

Studies suggest frozen veggies have just as many nutrients as (if not more than) their fresh counterparts.  Foods that are best frozen are those with high amounts of fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamin A, carotenoids, and vitamin E, because they’re more stable during food processing and storage (like blanching and freezing).

So when hitting the frozen aisle, go for carrots, leafy greens, and broccoli.  Boiling or steaming some veggies (like broccoli and carrots) may actually boost levels of free radical-trapping antioxidants and phytochemicals like carotenoids and polyphenols. 

The best bet for getting the most nutritional value out of cooked veggies is to go easy on the temperature and cooking time.  Ideally cook with little to no water.  

Personally my preferred cooking methods are steaming and sauté.

Processed Foods Containing Artificial Food Colours and Dyes

Did you know that more than 3,000 food additives, preservatives, flavourings, colours and other ingredients are added to  foods?  Based on research showing the hazardous impact on health especially regarding negative effects on children’s behaviour, many of these have been banned in other countries.  For example, as reported in the featured article:

“Boxed Mac-n-Cheese, cheddar flavoured crackers, Jell-O and many kids’ cereals contain red 40, yellow 5, yellow 6 and/or blue 2, the most popular used dyes in the United States. Research has shown this rainbow of additives can cause behavioural problems as well as cancer, birth defects and other health problems in laboratory animals. Red 40 and yellow 6 are also suspected of causing an allergy-like hypersensitivity reaction in children. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest reports that some dyes are also “contaminated with known carcinogens.”

In countries where these food colours and dyes are banned, food companies like Kraft employ natural colourings instead, such as paprika extract, beetroot, and annatto.  Where it’s banned: Norway and Austria. In 2009, the British government advised companies to stop using food dyes by the end of that year. The European Union also requires a warning notice on most foods containing dyes.

The grocery stores are full of processed and refined foods that have chemical preservatives and offer very little nutritional value.  If you can’t pronounce the ingredient you shouldn’t consume it.  Keep it simple, nourish your body with a whole food based diet.

Importance of Plant-Based Nutrition

Did you know that chronic disease has been attributed in part due to a diet dominated by processed foods and animal based foods? Overconsumption of meat, oils, dairy, soda, eggs, sugar, salt and refined grains. Researchers have shown that a plant-based diet may help prevent, treat or even reverse some of our leading causes of death. This includes heart disease, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

Following a plant-based diet can also improve digestion, increase energy, improve sleep, significant improvement in physical functioning, general health, vitality and mental health. Studies have shown plant-based eating can not only improve body weight, blood sugar levels, and ability to control cholesterol, but also emotional states, including depression, anxiety, fatigue, sense of well-being and daily functioning. Only one way of eating has ever been proven to reverse heart disease in the majority of patients: a diet centered around whole plant foods and eliminating oils/fats. If that’s all a whole-food, plant-based diet could do—reverse our number-one killer—shouldn’t that be the default diet until proven otherwise? The fact it may also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers seems to make the case for plant-based eating simply overwhelming.

Excess Sugar, Dairy & Alcohol

What you put in your body has a direct impact on your health.

Most of us are aware that sugar in all forms can lead to health problems like: weight gain, lowered immunity, blood sugar problems, diabetes, acidic blood, adrenal fatigue and candida. Too much sugar, dairy and alcohol not only contributes to a number of health conditions but also affects our skin.  Excess sugar in the bloodstream causes the formation of harmful molecules that bind with protein and selectively target collagen.  This leads to wrinkles, sagging skin and even acne.

With regards to dairy, many people lose the enzyme that breaks down lactose as they age.  This can cause inflammation which manifests as redness and saggy skin.  Dairy is highly acidic, despite it containing calcium that acts as an alkaline agent by nature. Milk is rich in natural acids that can cause calcium deposits to build up and potentially cause arthritis and long-term inflammation. It also doesn’t necessarily keep our bones strong as we once believed. Most plant-based foods do a much better job (such as chard, kale, almonds, figs) and don’t contribute to chronic inflammation.

And last but not least, alcohol… Too much alcohol, just like too much sugar, affects our kidneys, liver, stomach and small intestines, which explains some of what is happening in your body. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal disturbances and disruption of sleep are some of the results. Excess alcohol also results in dehydration and can accentuate wrinkles.  It causes enlarged blood vessels as well as dilated capillaries, making the face look red and flushed.  Remember, the key is moderation!

Skipping Meals

In order to lose weight, we must cut calories from our diet. Does this mean that skipping meals and cutting even more calories can help us lose weight even faster?

Consistently skipping meals will lead to a low metabolism and will cause you to gain fat. In many cases you’ll be famished and end up overeating at the next meal.
Your metabolism is the process that’s responsible for burning fuel and keeping the body in proper working order. When your body gets food it typically digests it quickly. This time is desired by people who are trying to lose weight because the body is using fat stores to burn the food that has been digested. However, after the food has been digested, the metabolism goes into a kind of “sleep mode.” This means that the body is not burning as many calories. The longer you wait between meals the more time your body will be in this sleep mode and the fewer calories you will burn. Eventually, if you chronically skip meals, your body will get used to being inactive, and it will slow to a crawl, resulting in significant weight gain.

Focus on eating high quality whole foods that will keep your blood sugar stable. Space your meals and snacks approximately 3 hours apart. This will have a positive effect on your hormones which will lead to a consistently strong metabolism. Your body will burn fat more efficiently and you will maintain lean muscles. Remember, you can’t starve a fat cell.

Preparation and always being ready no matter what the situation is the key to eating enough food to sustain a healthy metabolic rate and shrink your fat cells. The key to avoiding skipping meals is planning, preparation, and an excellent program!

Weight Loss Motivation Tip

I’ve been specializing in weight loss and nutrition in Calgary and Cochrane for almost 10 years. At times it can be very difficult for people to stay on track with their goals. First and foremost be please be patient. One of the biggest motivation busters is the dreaded weight loss plateau. You’ve been doing everything right, exercising and eating well, and the numbers on the scale have been steadily dropping. Then suddenly nothing and the scale doesn’t move for several days in a row. Please understand that this is perfectly normal so no need to be discouraged. Congratulate yourself on the success you’ve had so far.

A plateau at… some point is a natural part of the weight loss process. When you hit a plateau, you may try something slightly different to jump-start things. Commit yourself to expending an extra 100 calories a day with walking or some other form of physical activity. Keep a food log to ensure you’re staying on track with your eating. You may want to cut out dairy or grains for a week. You’ll be surprised with how effective a couple of small changes will make and soon you’ll be back on course!

Superfood Seeds

Nuts and seeds are a complete protein and essential if you are vegetarian or vegan. A complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals. Some seeds and nuts are better than others and some stand out as having a diverse spread of amino acids. Two contenders in the seed category are chia (Salvia hispanica) and hemp (Cannabis sativa), both of which contain all of the essential amino acids.

Besides containing a great source of dietary fiber, trace minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids, chia seeds are made up of 20 percent complete protein, making them an excellent alternative to meat. Chia seeds are so nutritious, in fact, that ancient Aztec warriors are said to have relied on them for strength during battle, only having to eat a single spoonful for 24 hours of nutritive support. Hemp seeds are similarly nutritious; the shelled varieties contain 11 grams of complete protein per 30-gram serving. I recommend purchasing Organic whenever possible. Both Chia and Hemp are fantastic in yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies and on salads. Here is a great Chia breakfast pudding recipe, enjoy!

Chia Seed Pudding

Vegan, gluten-free, no bake/raw, oil-free, refined sugar-free, soy-free

Yield
3-3.5 cups (serves 4-6)

Soak time
overnight + 2-3 hours

Prep Time
10 Minutes

Total Time
10 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw almonds, soaked overnight
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 vanilla bean, chopped into a few pieces (optional, but recommended)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Dash of fine sea salt
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup or 1/3 cup packed pitted Medjool dates, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Place almonds in a bowl and cover with a couple inches of water. Soak overnight or for 8 hours. If you are in a rush, soaking for 1 to 2 hours works in a pinch. Drain and rinse almonds after soaking.
  2. Place almonds in a high-speed blender along with the 3 cups filtered water, chopped vanilla bean (if using), vanilla extract, and salt. Blend on the highest speed, for about 1 minute until the almonds and vanilla bean are pulverized.
  3. Place a nut milk bag on top of a large bowl and pour the almond milk into the bag. (You can also use cheesecloth placed over a fine mesh sieve, however a nut milk bag yields the smoothest result and is faster.) Squeeze the bag and press out all the milk. The pulp will remain in the bag/cloth (you should have about 1 cup of pulp).
  4. If using dates as your sweetener please ensure your blender can pulverize them super smooth, otherwise use liquid sweetener. Rinse out the blender. Carefully pour the almond milk back into the blender and add the pitted dates. Blend on the highest speed until the dates are pulverized and the milk is super smooth. Add milk back into the bowl.
  5. Whisk in the chia seeds (and the maple syrup, only if not using the dates). Place in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours, until thickened and cold. Give the mixture a good stir every once in a while to redistribute the chia seeds.
  6. Layer the chia pudding with mango, raspberries, and top with Coconut Whipped Cream. Chia seed pudding will keep in the fridge for up to 3 to 4 days. It freezes well too, just thaw in the fridge before ready to enjoy.

Tips: For a quicker version, simply use 3 cups of store-bought unsweetened almond milk, 1/2 cup chia seeds, and 2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup. Whisk everything in a mason jar and chill in the fridge for 2 to 3 hours.

Soaking Legumes

Humans have eaten grains, legumes, nuts and seeds for thousands of years. Traditionally, people soaked these foods before cooking them to promote easier digestion. Somewhere along the way, we forgot about this important step and now consume these foods without the proper preparation. All grains, legumes, nuts and seeds contain anti-nutrients that require neutralization. Nuts and seeds contain enzyme inhibitors that block digestion – potentially causing negative effects on the health of the body. Grains and legumes contain phytic acid that robs the body of important minerals like magnesium, calcium, zinc, copper and iron. Over time, when we consume these foods without properly preparing them, serious health issues like leaky gut, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and autoimmune problems can arise.

For Kidney, Pinto, Navy, White, and Black Beans: Place 2 cups of beans into a large mixing bowl and cover with warm water. Stir in 2 pinches of baking soda. Leave at room temperature and soak for at least 18-24 hours total. Every 7 hours, drain the beans, cover with warm water again and stir in another 2 pinches of baking soda. Drain, rinse, and cook in a large pot or slow cooker. Avoid using a pressure cooker as the extremely high temperature and pressure will denature the protein and can destroy other nutrients in the legumes.

Lentils: Place 2 cups of lentils into a large mixing bowl and cover with warm water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Leave at room temperature and soak for at least 7 hours. Drain, rinse, and cook in a large pot or slow cooker. Avoid using a pressure cooker as the extremely high temperature and pressure will denature the protein and can destroy other nutrients in the legumes.

Garbanzo Beans: Place 2 cups of beans into a large mixing bowl and cover with warm water. Stir in 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar. Leave at room temperature and soak for at least 24 hours. Drain, rinse, and cook in a large pot or slow cooker. Avoid using a pressure cooker as the extremely high temperature and pressure will denature the protein and can destroy other nutrients in the legumes.

Soaking Nuts and Seeds:

All nuts: Place 4 cups of raw, shelled nuts into a large mixing bowl. Cover with water and stir in 1 tablespoon of Celtic sea salt. Soak (see chart below for specific soaking times). Drain and then place in a dehydrator, or spread the nuts on a large baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper and dehydrate them in a warm oven (under 150ºF) for 12 to 24 hours.

Almonds: 7-8 hours
Brazil Nuts: 4-6 hours
Cashews: 3-6 hours
Flaxseeds: 7-8 hours
Hazelnuts: 7-8 hours
Macadamia Nuts: 6-7 hours
Pecans: 7 hours
Pine Nuts: 7 hours
Pistachios: 4 hours
Pumpkin Seeds: 7-8 hours
Sesame Seeds: 7-8 hours
Sunflower Seeds: 4 hours
Walnuts: 6 hours

Post Workout Nutrition

Efficient recovery following high levels of exercise requires refuelling post workout. During your workout your main source of energy comes from carbohydrates – either as stored glycogen or consumed glucose. Without adequate intake of the necessary carbs between workouts, your body will draw on stored fuel to keep going, converting glycogen (stored sugar in the muscles and liver) to glucose. It’s important to replenish glycogen stores post workout so you’re ready for your next session.

Research shows that consuming a three-to-one or four- to-one ratio of carbs to protein immediately after exercise is the most effective combination of macronutrients to support glycogen replenishment. This is most effective when consumed within 30 minutes after exercise.

Choose simple, easy to digest carbs for most efficient absorption. Fruit such as grapefruit, bananas, dates or melons are ideal with a 12-15 almonds. A high quality protein shake blended with fruit is great and my personal go to!

Are All Supplements Created Equally?

I’m a firm believer that high quality food and supplements are extremely important for optimal health. A healthy diet is the most important and depending on a person’s individual needs there are times when supplements are required.

How much thought do you give to the manufacturing of products you take every day? For instance, did you know that the Metagenics United States manufacturing headquarters in Gig Harbor, Washington is an approved foreign site manufacturer with Health Canada? Health Canada has issued a Metagenics Canadian site licence after assessing the good manufacturing processes (GMP) of its plant in Gig Harbor and found it to be compliant with the Canadian GMP regulations, using USP, AOAC, or other recognized pharmacopeias as acceptable methods for testing. Metagenics also carries a TGA GMP Compliance Certification, which Canada accepts based on a mutual understanding with Australia’s GMP processes for registered products. The bottom line? Metagenics goes above and beyond in all facets of production to help ensure the safety, efficacy, and purity of every product. They do this because they are passionate about the quality of their products, deeply value my trust as a partner in my clients’ health, and aim to always deliver safe, effective, personalized nutritional solutions you can rely upon.

In 2016 alone, they:

  • Allocated US $3.6 million directly to quality testing
  • Conducted 3,000+ raw material tests and approximately 48,500+ quality control tests
  • Completed 210 voluntary ELISA tests to a standard that is twice the minimum required by Health Canada (we test to 10ppm versus the guideline of 20ppm)
  • Maintained a tightly controlled supply and distribution chain

You may have heard about a recent settlement between GNC® and the US Department of Justice over the sale of illegal dietary supplements. Metagenics is dedicated to producing only the highest quality products and take specific precautions throughout the manufacturing process to avoid the type of issues outlined in this settlement and maintain compliance with both US FDA and Health Canada requirements.

Metagenics is available to Health Care Practitioners only. If you are interested in purchasing products please contact me directly. For product information please visit www.metagenicscanada.com.