How Can You Get Enough Vitamin D and How Much is Safe?

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Most of us know that getting vitamin D is important for bone health and absorption of calcium. But, vitamin D is also important for a:

  • healthy immune system,

  • digestive system,

  • heart and mental health,

  • blood sugar regulation,

  • fertility, and

  • resistance to cancer.

FUN FACT: Inflammation is mostly caused by the response of our immune system.

To ensure you get adequate amounts of vitamin D, you can implement any combination of the three vitamin D sources mentioned below on a weekly basis.

  1. exposure to the sun,

  2. consuming vitamin D containing food (not so much available), and

  3. through supplements

Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin makes it when exposed to the sun. Vitamin D acts like a hormone! That means it’s produced in one part of the body (e.g. the skin), and travels through to act on another part (e.g. the bones).

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, when you have more than enough, it gets stored in the liver, and isn’t flushed out in the urine like water soluble vitamins such as B and C.

It’s also the most common nutrient deficiency!

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How can I get enough vitamin D from the sun?

Our skin contains “pre” vitamin D. When exposed to UV rays from the sun, this “previtamin” is converted into vitamin D (calciferol).  That's why it's referred to as the "sunshine vitamin."

How much vitamin D your skin makes depends on many things. Location, season, clouds, clothing, all affect the amount of vitamin D your skin can produce from the sun.

One standard recommendation is to get about 5–30 minutes of sun exposure between 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. to the face, arms, legs, or back. This should be done without sunscreen, at least twice a week.

How can I get enough vitamin D from food?

Vitamin D is not naturally found in very many foods. The best sources include:

  • fatty fish and fish liver oils
  • some is also found in beef liver
  • some cheeses
  • and egg yolk

Because these are animal sources, they are in the D3 form. Some are even already converted into 25(OH)D which is thought to be 5 times more potent than the regular D3 form.

Naturally occurring plant sources of vitamin D2 are some mushrooms that have been exposed to the sun. That’s about it

Some foods are "fortified" (which means vitamin D has been added).

  • milk
  • some orange juices
  • breakfast cereals
  • yogurt

It will say on the label how much vitamin D has been added per serving.

Because vitamin D is fat-soluble, you can increase absorption of it from your food if you eat it with some fat (ie. healthy fat such as olive oil).

Between sun exposure and food, it still may be difficult to get even the minimum of 400 IU of vitamin D each day; this is why vitamin D supplements are needed.


LINK:  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/food-nutrition/food-nutrition-surveillance/health-nutrition-surveys/canadian-community-health-survey-cchs/canadian-adults-meet-their-nutrient-requirements-through-food-intake-alone-health-canada-2012.html#a331

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How can I get enough vitamin D from supplements?

Having enough 25(OH)D in the blood is associated with higher bone density. Studies show that supplementing with vitamin D may reduce the risk of falls and bone fractures

FUN FACT: Fish liver oil contains vitamin D, but not fish oil - it’s the liver that stores vitamin D.

At higher doses, however, vitamin D2 is less potent than vitamin D3.

But before you take vitamin D containing supplements, make sure you check that it won't interact with other supplements or medications you may be taking. Always read your labels, and ask a healthcare professional for advice.

Do not take more than the suggested dosage on the label of any vitamin D supplement, except under medical care.

The maximum amount recommended (for the general population) is 4,000 IU/day. Too much vitamin D can raise your blood levels of calcium (to an unsafe level), and this can affect your heart and kidneys.

The best thing, if you're concerned, is to ask your healthcare professional to do a blood test and make a recommendation about how much vitamin in supplement form is right for you.

Your healthcare practitioner may recommend higher amounts of vitamin D supplementation for a short time while under their care.

Conclusion

Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble vitamin which; many people have a hard time maintaining adequate levels of vitamin D.  

There are three ways to get enough vitamin D: sun exposure, through certain foods, and in supplements.

I've given you some ideas how you can get the minimum 400-600 IU or vitamin D daily.

If you're concerned, it's best to request a blood test that tests your vitamin D levels to be sure what's right for you. Always take supplements as directed.

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References

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Calm Inflammation with Anti-inflammatory Foods

The fire within.  Photo by Cullan Smith on Unsplash

How do you calm inflammation in your body with food? Inflammation is not just a “buzz” word! Inflammation is connected to fatigue issues.   Being overly tired and feeling like “someone pulled the plug on you” is a sign along with other symptoms you may be having.

Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that chronic inflammation can be detrimental to our health.

Inflammation also has been linked to many diseases including but not limited to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.

It is also linked to problems with detoxification within our gut and liver. Symptoms can lead to low immune function, causing a lack of energy and vitality along with the inability to feel well.

However, there is something you can do about it!  Anti-inflammatory foods that are rich in antioxidants are proven to be helpful in reducing inflammation in the body.

Here are some of my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Berries, Grapes, and Cherries​​​​

Are the following sweet foods your favorite?

Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Phytochemicals (phyto=plant) such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol” are found in these small and delicious fruits.

In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.

Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the naturally occurring chemical called “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound helps neutralize harmful toxins in the Phase 2 liver detox pathway that we are exposed to in our food, water, and air.

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.

Be mindful to choose red peppers over the other colors. Red peppers are fully ripe and have more anti-inflammatory properties than the other colors.

Healthy Fats

Choosing the right fats is so important for your health. The fat controversy is still alive and well. It is recommended to keep your daily intake of saturated fats below 10 percent and increase your consumption of unsaturated fats.

However, damaged or “trans fats” are very inflammatory. So it is best to consume more anti-inflammatory foods that are listed below:

fresh avocados

extra virgin olive oil,

small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel),

and wild fish (e.g. salmon).

Omega 3 foods like chia seeds, hemp seeds, and flax seeds.

Green Tea

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.

EGCG is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s. I think we can all use more of this compound, don’t you?

Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.

Turmeric

This list would not be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?

Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.

This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

You can easily add turmeric to your egg dishes, smoothies, soups or teas.

Dark Chocolate

I had to save the best for last! This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy.

They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuroinflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!

Conclusion

There are just so many delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colorful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.

Feeling sick and tired all the time can be reduced by adding these amazing foods to your weekly meal plans. I would love to talk with you about how I can help you do just that. Just click the link below and schedule a free call with me.

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Your Health is Worth It

Are you feeling tired and unable to find the energy you need to do the things you want to do?  This can be so frustrating!  I know you want to be all that you were created to be.

Does this sound like you?

  • You do not bounce out of bed like you use to and feel that you just did not get enough rest.  
  • Falling asleep seems to take forever and once you do, you may wake up one or more times before your alarm.
  • You spend your days feeling stressed with so much to do and can hardly get dinner on the table.   
  • If you could start a new hobby or work more for yourself,  that would help you feel like you were fulfilling your life’s purpose.   
  • Having more energy means you can say yes to a volunteer opportunity at your favorite community charity or church.  Giving back in your community would give you so much joy. If only you could find the energy to do so.
  • You love spending time out with your friends but sometimes you just feel too tired to do so.
  • Taking longer walks or joining an exercise class seems like a chore.  Even too much exercise makes you tired
  • Eating nutritious foods seem boring to you and you struggle to eat from scratch during the week since eating healthy makes you think you need to be a gourmet cook.  Prefab and oven ready is so much easier!
  • You experience digestive and intestinal disturbances no matter what you do to fix your diet.  


No need to suffer, click the button below to book a complimentary End Your Fatigue strategy call.   Let's get acquainted and see if we can work together.


Here are 3 things you can start doing right now:

  1. You need to shut off you screens at least 1 hour before bed.  Blue light interferes with the production of melatonin which prepares you for sleep. That means no bright lights, no TV, no stimulating activities.  

Instead read quietly or drink a calming tea like chamomile or passion flower tea.

  1. Stop eating refined sugar and processed foods.  If you take white or brown sugar out of your diet, you will start to see a big difference in your energy levels.  

Sugar is in so many things.  Added sugars are detrimental to your health in the form of processed foods and drinks containing empty calories and lacking nutrition.

Sugar contributes to a lot of fatigue issues.  When your body has too much sugar in your blood, the result is inflammation and unstable blood sugar which leads to fatigue.  Food labels to watch for contain fructose, sucrose, dextrose, glucose and high fructose corn syrup.

  1. Drink more water.  

Water helps to detox your body, metabolize nutrients and hydrate your cells.  Just drinking ½ your weight in ounces of water per day can help you to feel better.


If you want a strategy that works this time, book your free End Your Fatigue strategy call with me by clicking the button below.

You feel your best years are behind you and just want to feel well.  But what does well feel like since you have settled for feeling so tired all the time.  It seems normal.

Do you have some of these symptoms?

  • Catching a cold is the norm and when you do get sick, it seems to take a month for you to get back to yourself again.  Only then you fear getting another virus that will keep you from your goals.
  • Sore throats
  • chest colds
  • laryngitis
  • occasional fevers every year are just no fun and you think that this is normal for you at your age.


You spend at least $200 a month on supplements and you feel you have chosen the ones for you but still you have not found the solution to your problems.


If only you could find a solution!  You know your hormones are out of whack and your immune system is not the best.   Where is that magic pill?


You turn to Google searching for answers. However, you continue to be groping in the dark with quick fixes that never bring you lasting results.  It like “throwing spaghetti at the wall.”


No more groping in the dark and hoping.   Book your complimentary End Your Fatigue strategy call with me by clicking the button below.  Let's talk. No obligations. Let's get acquainted.

I sympathize with what you are going through.  After I turned 40 it seemed all downhill from there.  My body started turning on me too. I needed to learn the right way to nourish myself and eliminate the irritating foods until my body was better able to digest them.  

I needed accountability and a coach to help me find my way. I needed education about my hormones and digestive system.

If you haven’t joined my closed Facebook Support Group yet, please click Here.

I know you want to live your fullest potential.  You know you need help but fear of failure is holding you back.  

Investing in your health is what will give you the ability to move forward but you are scared of spending your hard-earned money in the wrong places and seeing very little results.

What you need is a system or a Roadmap.  If someone could give you a Roadmap to get to where you need to go, you would take it right?

You’ve been to your MD and probably a naturopath but need a better Roadmap and coaching partner.  Someone that will give you the steps to take, accountability and encouragement along the way


Take a minute to book your free End Your Fatigue strategy call with me by clicking the button below.

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3 WAYS STRESS CAN MESS WITH YOUR HEALTH and ENERGY

Photo by Matteo Vistocco on Unsplash

Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving.  This type subsides after the cause of the stress is over which is usually short-term.

It's the chronic stress that's a problem.  It is these stress reactions that are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health and cause unwanted symptoms of headaches, illness, sleepless nights and weight gain.

Stress may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic).

Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.

Let's dive into the 3 effects of  "stress mess."

Effect #1 Immunity

It’s that time of year when the weather is changing that adds more stress to your system.  This is when you need to be careful to support your body or you could end up getting sick.

It’s bad enough when you do not have enough energy on a daily basis but to get sick on top of it makes life more challenging.

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you're stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

Well, that's because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

Did you hear that 70% of your immune system resides in your gut?  

Effect #2 Gut Health

Stress puts a strain on your intestinal microbiome otherwise known as the ecosystem of your gut bacteria and gets it out of balance.

Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as "intestinal permeability." These "leaks" can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body.

The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other. These are called gap junctions.

Picture this: Have you ever played "red rover?" It's where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right through.  

Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in creating the imbalance in your intestinal system which leads to these gaps in the lining being open too long!

This can lead to a host of health problems relating to your fatigue issues including painful joints, allergies and skin conditions.

Effect #3 Poor Sleep Quality

So many women I talk to are not sleeping well.  I think we have too much on our minds and list of things to do don’t you?  The amount of stress we as women have can be detrimental to our sleep.

Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

And when you don't get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.  

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health.  Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren't doing you any favors especially when you wake up feeling exhausted.

If you have read this far and are interested in getting on a call with me to discuss how to increase your energy and reach your health goals, click on the button below for a complimentary 30-minute call.  No obligations. Let's talk.

Stress Busting Tips

Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step to fighting fatigue and other health challenges.

Can you:

  • Put less pressure on yourself?

  • Ask for help?

  • Say "no"?

  • Delegate to someone else?

  • Finally, make that decision?

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

  • Deep breathing

  • Meditation

  • Walk in nature

  • Unplug (read a book, take a bath)

  • Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)

  • Connect with loved ones

Please click on the button below for a complimentary 30-minute call.  No obligations. Let's talk.

Conclusion

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

Stress has been shown to increase  affect your immune system, gut health and sleep quality.

There are things you can do to both reduce the stressors and also to improve your response to it.

Be aware of what is causing your stress and eliminate one thing that is not serving you well.

You can bust through the stress with less!

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Stress and the Fatigue Connection


Stress!! Can it it lead to adrenal fatigue?  

Did you know that your fatigue issues may be connected to stress?

Does this sound like you? You are stressed and cannot sleep. You are constantly tired and crave sweets and even salty foods?  

Stress is a physical and emotional reaction to danger either real or not.  Even the day to day demands on our time cause the same stress response in our bodies as real danger.

Since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue is a common subject matter these days.

Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones.

But what happens when they become “overworked?”

The fight or flight response to physical danger causes an increase in the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.  This is your body's normal reaction to stress.

Stress can sometimes be positive when it helps us avoid dangerous situations like crashing into a vehicle in traffic.  Our heart rate increases and we are given the strength to respond on demand.

After a short time, the fight or flight response dissipates and your body goes back to normal.

But what would happen if you felt constant stress? Like all day, every day? This is called “chronic” stress.  

Too many women like you are living in chronic stress. Why do you think that is? Maybe there is just too much to do in a given day.

What do you think happens to your poor adrenal glands when they’re constantly working?   Have you ever felt this rush of “false energy”? This is another reason you may feel “wired but tired”. 



Do You Have Adrenal Fatigue?

When your adrenal glands start getting tired of secreting stress hormones day in and out, you can start getting other symptoms:

  • fatigue,
  • difficulty sleeping,
  • mood swings,
  • weight loss or gain,
  • joint pain,
  • sugar cravings,

And even frequent infections like colds and the flu are signs that your adrenals are probably overworked.

There are no medically accepted blood tests for adrenal fatigue. In fact, it's not recognized by most medical professionals until the point when your adrenals are so fatigued they almost stop working. At that point, the official diagnosis of "Adrenal Insufficiency" or "Addison's Disease" may apply.

However, if you do have symptoms, you should see your doctor to rule out other conditions. He or she can give you some wellness strategies that can help to reduce your stress (and symptoms).



What To Do If You Have These Symptoms?

There are many actions you can take to reduce your stress and improve your health and energy levels.

Stress reduction is key to overcoming fatigue issues. There are tons of ideas how you can reduce your stress. My favorites are:

  • scheduling your day ahead of time so you you don’t have to think about it.  I just look at my day planner and see exactly what I am to being doing and where I am to be.   
  • Practicing quiet time (even for just 20 minutes is so important.)
  • Deep breathing
  • Walking in nature, 
  • Go to bed earlier and sleep longer (7-8 hours)
  • taking a bath.
  • spend time with friends
  • Plan a fun activity


Of course, I also recommend reducing sugar and processed food intake and eating more fruits and vegetables. Better nutrition can only help your body. So make sure to prioritize this in your life.




Conclusion

Your adrenal glands produce hormones in response to stress. Adrenaline is released for only a few seconds.  After that cortisol is the main hormone released in a stress response.

After long-term daily stress, your adrenals may get tired.  It is sustained high cortisol that is the problem. Normal levels are fine since it is what wakes you up in the morning.

Adrenal fatigue is a controversial disease that doesn’t have a true diagnostic test, nor specific evidential symptoms.

The most important thing you can do is to get tested to rule out other potential conditions. You can also try stress reduction techniques like meditation, walks in nature, light exercise, more sleep, or even a calming bath.

Photo by Jared Rice on Unsplash

Recipe (Stress-reducing bath salt):
Lavender Bath Salts

Per bath

2 cups Epsom salts

10 drops lavender essential oil

As you're running your warm bath water, add ingredients to the tub. Mix until dissolved

Enjoy your stress-reducing bath!

Tip: You can add a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers.


References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/adrenal-fatigue-pt-1/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/adrenal-fatigue-real/

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How to Lower Stress This Christmas

It is coming up to the busy holiday time called Christmas.  But how do you lower your stress response this Christmas season?

Thanksgiving has passed and the stores are filled with sales for the coming gift-giving season.  Can you feel the stress already?!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

When you are suffering from fatigue, you are probably wondering how to get through the next few weeks of the holidays without burning out.  After all your to-do list is getting bigger each day it seems.

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after escaping the danger.   In today’s culture, our stress response is chronic and does not just happen once in a while.

The main stress hormone is called “cortisol.”  After your adrenaline kicks in, it’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning upon waking, and slowly declines in the  afternoon preparing  your body for sleep.

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?  No wonder you feel tired if you are in chronic stress mode!

Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!


How to Lower Your Cortisol with Food and Nutrients

  1. The first enemy of cortisol balance is sugar.   So it would be wise to reduce this ingredient in our diets for better health and lower your stress response.

  1. High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels. If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.  Also because fatigue is part of your health complaints, then consider cutting out caffeine and using an alternative drink instead.

  1. Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol. Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.  The body requires water for so many functions including giving you more energy.  Don’t stress yourself by being dehydrated.

  1. Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn't just help reduce the stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.  These include foods that improve gut health such as probiotic rich, fermented foods such as kefir and sauerkraut along with prebiotic fiber foods found in legumes, whole grains, and some fruits and  vegetables.

Lifestyle Habits to Lower Cortisol

Lifestyle is a big factor in your stress response. 

The following habits you can adapt to reduce stress:

Mindfulness. Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol.

Exercise. While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels.  Taking a brisk walk will relieve your stress.  But be careful to not overdue it or you will be stressed from the intensity of the exercise.

Sleep.  Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways.  It is recommended to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night and adapt a sleep routine.

Self Care.  Habits like deep breathing, going for a massage, meditation, reading a good book, and listening to relaxing music all reduce cortisol levels.

Nurture Relationships. Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is so important.  Staying connected to positive people will inject you with positive energy that helps reduce stress.

Conclusion

Fatigue is linked to an increase in cortisol levels. 

Elevated cortisol levels have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.  In doing so, you can reduce your levels of fatigue and find more energy in your day.

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine.  Increase your intake of  water, fruit, vegetables, probiotics, and prebiotics.

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.

In the comments below, let me know your favorite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

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Five Ways to Improve Your Sleep to Beat Fatigue

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

Would you like to know the five ways to improve your sleep?  Not getting the rest you need can make you feel “tired and wired”.  Are you feeling exhausted or “running on stress hormones” all day?

 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
  • certain types of cancer;
  • 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.

Even if you want to exercise, lack of sleep can interfere with your energy to even start.

So what are the three main purposes of sleep?

  1. To repair and detoxify our body
  2. To improve our brain's ability to learn and remember things, also known as “synaptic plasticity”.
  3. To conserve energy so we can function in our lives and do the activities we need to do.

You may be surprised that adults need 7-9 hours of sleep every night.  I think we can all work on that one! Agreed!  But how do you even start!?


Five Ways to Improve Your Sleep

1. Establish a Regular Sleep Schedule

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.  Every. Single. Night. 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.


2. Balance Your Blood Sugar

Balance your blood sugar throughout the day.  Eat less refined and processed foods and more whole foods (full of blood-sugar-balancing fiber).  Choose the whole apple instead of the juice.  Include protein in every meal.  Also a bit of fat at the meal in the form of olive oil, coconut oil or nuts will also help to balance your blood sugar with your meal.


3. Expose Yourself to Light

During the day get some sunshine and exercise.  If you are in the winter months with less sun, try exposing yourself to light by using something like a HappyLight which you can buy on Amazon.  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.  


4.  No Caffeine After Noon

If you drink  coffee, limit your caffeine and added sugar intake until after 12 pm.    Both caffeine and added sugar can keep your mind a bit more active than you want it to be in the evening. Try calming teas at night like chamomile or peppermint tea.


5. Dim the Lights One Hour Before Sleep

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, turning off your screen time and perhaps reading a hand-held book or having a bath.

These are not full proof if there are other underlying causes such as abdominal discomfort or adrenal fatigue that needs to be addressed.  

If you feel you need more individualized care to support you in restoring these functions, please book a call with me and we will see if we can work together.


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Does Gut Health Affect Your Energy?

Improving your gut health is important for better absorption of the nutrients in the food you eat.  Absorbing your nutrients will provide you with energy to get through your day.  So if you are suffering from fatigue, this is a clue that you may have an imbalance in your gut.

I knew that this was true for me especially when I would eat foods I could not digest well and felt very lethargic and experienced brain fog a few hours later. 

Your gut is also known as your digestive system and includes the ecosystem of microbes that must exist in balance in order to digest and absorb nutrients in your small and large intestine, as well as detox out of your body substances that will only cause you to feel unwell.  The health of your gut influences the health of your entire body.

Your fatigue issues can tell you a lot about the health of your gut.

A Greek physician also referred to as the Father of Medicine was named Hippocrates who said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

Recent research shows that our gut (digestive system) has a bigger role to pay in many diseases than we used to think. These would include but not limited to allergies, pain and inflammation, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this. Our gut is open to the outside world and acts as a barrier to toxins. It is here where we take in disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and parasites. We also take in nutrients 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 called the gut-brain connection.   Have you also heard of "the adrenal-gut connection"?  This is regulated by the HPA axis which is the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal axis. 

The adrenals which sit on top of your kidneys are very connected to the health of your gut.  When you are stressed the hypothalamus sends a signal to the pituitary gland to tell the adrenals to produce cortisol.  Cortisol that is pumping constantly will give you energy but will also interfere with the balance of your gut bacteria which consists of both good and bad bacteria that must exist in a balanced ecosystem in your gut for optimal health and increased energy.

So being constantly stressed is not good for the health of your gut. Also getting enough sleep and exercise will help to reduce the cortisol levels and therefore may help to bring your gut back into balance.

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

Click Here to book a call with me and discover how I may be able to help you get your gut back into balance.


The Gut - Health Connection

Your gut’s first pillar of health is its main role as a barrier. Your gut is a long tube with a job 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 of our body.

The role of your gut is super-complex and can break down in so many places.

For one thing, your gut can "leak." That means the lining of your intestines can open and allow undigested food particles, bacteria and toxins to enter our bloodstream.  This can wreak havoc on your whole system causing you to feel unwell and and have a variety of symptoms in including fatigue. 

The result of this irritation causes inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases. Inflammation is a cause of many fatigue issues.  It has been at the root of a lot my own fatigue issues even though I did not know it at the time.

Now do you see how your fatigue issues can be linked back to the health of your gut?

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

Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second pillar of gut health is its role of producing and maintaining the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make B 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. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving ourselves junk food. You can start with 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 are common gut irritants. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your energy levels.

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

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, you can help to replenish your gut microbes.

These are found in fermented foods like:

  •  kombucha,
  • kefir,
  • miso,
  • sauerkraut, and
  • kimchi. 

Make these a part of your daily diet.  If you do have food sensitivities you can try fermented foods such as dairy in the form of Kefir or bread in the form of sourdough.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity.

Fiber helps us to:

  •  eliminate toxins and some also
  • act as food for your good microbes called prebiotics 
  • help you absorb and digest your food better.

What foods have a lot of fiber?

Some examples are: fruits, whole grains, beans, vegetables, nuts, and seeds

Summary and Main Points to Remember:

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.

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

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Reading the Nutrition Facts Table in Four Easy Steps

Nutrition Facts for a loaf of bread.

Do you read the nutrition label on the side of your food packaging?  Why does it matter?  Maybe you have not connected your fatigue issues to the food you are eating.  However, I do believe you probably are eating as healthy as you can and just are not sure what the nutrition facts mean to you.

The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.

The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?

Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!

Step 1: Serving Size

The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good.

Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it's tricky.

All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.

In Canada, in the next few years, serving sizes will be more consistent between similar foods. This will make it easier to compare foods.

The new labels will also have more realistic serving sizes to reflect the amount that people eat in one sitting, and not be artificially small.

Let’s use an example - plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.

As you can see, right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.

FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).

Step 2: % Daily Value

The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.

Please remember that the % DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.

You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.

NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it's missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn't an agreed "official" %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.

Step 3: Middle of the table
 (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)

Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.

Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g - 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).

Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day.

It's easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).

Carbohydrate is also bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber intake.

Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well.   Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.

Walnuts are a great source of fiber.

Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)

The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.

Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you'll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.

Conclusion

I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful. While you can take it or leave it when it comes to making food decisions, it’s here to stay. And it will change slightly over the next few years.

Do you have questions about it? Have you seen the new labels with a %DV for sugar? If so, leave me a comment below.

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Healthy Eating! Get the Facts!

What do you know about healthy eating?

There is so much nutrition information and diet advice on the internet and in magazines!

And each expert and association tries to lead you in their direction because they know best and their advice is going to help you.  Right?

Well, maybe…

Even though how much you eat is important to some extent (see my previous article on Three Ways to Avoid Overeating), this has gotten way too much attention. While this does affect your weight and energy level, it's certainly not the “holy grail” of health. 

Let's focus a bit more on the often overlooked (and proven) benefits of what you eat and drink and how you eat and drink it.

What you eat and drink


The “calories in, calories out” philosophy (i.e. how much you eat) is being drowned out with research on other factors that may be just as important and is only part of the story. 

Don't get me wrong limiting calories, carbs or fat can certainly help you lose weight but that's simply not the only factor for long-term weight loss and maximum energy for everyone. 

You can eat a ton of veggies and it will be so much better than eating a ton of bread and pasta! 

Ideally, you need a varied diet full of minimally-processed foods (i.e. fewer “packaged” “ready-to-eat” foods).  This simple concept is paramount for weight loss, energy, and overall health and wellness.

Every day this is what you should aim for:

  • A colourful array of fruits and veggies at almost every meal and snack.  You need the fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Consume all of those essential amino acids (bonus: eating protein can increase your metabolism).  It is the amino acids you are wanting to absorb that build your muscles.
  • Healthy fats and oils (never “hydrogenated” ones).  There is a reason some fatty acids are called “essential” (e.f.a.’s) - you need them as building blocks for your hormones and brain as well as to be able to absorb essential fat-soluble vitamins from your healthy salads.

Use extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil, eat your organic egg yolks, and get grass-fed meats when possible.  You don't need to overdo it here.  

Just make sure you're getting some high-quality fats.

How you eat and drink

Also pay attention to how you eat and drink.

Studies are definitely showing that this has more of an impact than we previously thought.

Are you rushed, not properly chewing your food, and possibly suffering from gastrointestinal issues?

Do you drink your food?

When it comes to how you eat let's first look at “mindful eating”.

Mindful eating means:

  • take smaller bites
  • eat slowly, chew thoroughly
  • and savour every bite.

Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This gives your digestive system the hint to prepare for digestion and to secrete necessary enzymes.

This can also help with weight loss because eating slower often means eating less. 

Did you know that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full? Yup!

We also know that more thoroughly chewed food is easier to digest and it makes it easier to absorb all of those essential nutrients.

And what about smoothies when you are on-the-go?

Yes, smoothies can be healthy and a fabulously easy and tasty way to get in some fruits and veggies (hello leafy greens!).

A green smoothie can make an amazingly nutrient-dense meal and is way better than stopping for convenient junk food – just consider a large smoothie to be a full meal not a snack. 

And don't gulp it down too fast.  Try to chew a little bit to mix your saliva enzymes with it before you swallow.

If your smoothies don't fill you up like a full meal does, try adding in ground chia seeds and some almond butter or slices of avocado.

Summary:

Consider not only how much you eat but also what and how you eat it.


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