The symptoms of stress! What you need to know!

Rest to Digest

Photo by Leio McLaren (@leiomclaren) on Unsplash

What are the symptoms of stress? How does it connect to the energy you have on a daily basis? So many questions. Here is what you need to know about stress and the digestion connection.

I never made the connection between stress and my inability to digest food properly. I mean who really thinks about that!?

My Experience

I remember when my children were still homeschooling and how much stress I was under with my large To-Do list! It was during that time that my health was taking a nose-dive and the food I use to be able to eat was not friendly to my body anymore.

It took me a long time to make a connection about the symptoms of stress and what was going on in my digestion.

3 Things You Need to Know About Stress!

“Fight or Flight”

I’m sure you have heard about the fight or flight response in your body. It comes from your body. It comes from a physiological response to stress by your adrenal glands.

These tiny glands sit on top of your kidneys and release adrenaline when danger is detected. Like when you want to run from a bear!

In my case where I live it may be a coyote to appear or even a skunk.

You can feel the rush as blood is redirected from your digestive system to our arms and legs so you can escape!

The “fight or flight” response causes undesirable symptoms of stress including increasing your heart rate and anxiety levels. So watch how much time you spend consuming social media content and the news! All this unused energy gets converted to fat.

Some Causes of Stress

Stress comes in many forms such as:

  • environmental toxins,
  • processed foods,
  • emotional stress
  • and physical stress.

Some stress is normal for the body in short, occasional amounts but chronic stress is what leads to digestive and energy problems.

The “fight or flight” response causes undesirable symptoms of stress includes imbalanced gut flora and anxiety levels.

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Symptoms of Stress

The lack of your body’s ability to efficiently digest, assimilate, and absorb your food is what causes gas, bloating, acid reflux, and even stomach pain.

Adrenaline lasts only a few seconds and is quickly followed by the adrenals releasing cortisol. When cortisol remains high throughout the day the manifested symptoms of stress include:

  • fatigue (especially around 3 pm)
  • sleep disturbance (from intestinal/stomach pain, gas and bloating)
  • anxiety (from an imbalance in gut flora)
  • unexplained weight gain around the middle
  • poor digestion (lack of sufficient stomach acid or poor combination of foods)
  • poor immune function from an unbalanced digestive system (resulting in frequent flues and colds)
  • brain fog (unbalanced digestive function from stress)

Just to name a few, these are all symptoms of stress. This is where I focus in my practice of holistic nutrition for women who are experiencing energy issues connected to digestive problems.

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A Digestion Support to Energize Women

So do you relate to not feeling rested in the morning?

Fatigue throughout the day, especially around 3 pm?

Stress during midlife

Your ability to adapt to stress decreases with age. Your adrenals will now have to make more cortisol and will steal from your progesterone supply in order to do so. This creates an imbalance of hormones in your body. So the symptoms of stress can be a real problem as you can see.

What do you do about the stress you experience every day? You may even feel that you will always feel tired and stressed.

This is why I created a program for my clients called the Freedom From Fatigue Solution.

In 8 weeks you can start to mitigate the effects of stress on your body by learning the systematic steps I took to get my digestive health and energy back on track.  

Is the Freedom From Fatigue Solution right for you?  Let's talk about your health goals and how I can help.  

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Why I Needed to Improve My Digestive Health

In order to improve my energy levels years ago, I needed to improve my digestive health first. I did not really know how to go about this, I did not understand how my body systems were interconnected or how the food I was eating made such a huge impact on my life.

Do you want to feel more energetic and alive?   Do you want to spend time with your family and friends, and fulfill your destiny on this earth?

Should I even say, “feel more alive!"

I have been where you are. If you are feeling sick and tired and not knowing why your body won’t cooperate, I can relate. I am now over 50 years and have lived the last 10 learning about how my body works so I can feel the way I want to feel. It was not easy to improve my digestion and learn what was causing my low energy levels.

Do you find you are on the same journey?

I homeschooled both of my boys and gave up full-time employment since my first son was born in 1996. I stayed home and devoted my entire life to raising and educating my two sons.

My stress levels were very high and I had to take on way more than I could handle outside of this as well, including extracurricular activities.

I had to step down from leadership in my homeschool group because I just did not have the energy to keep going. I often got sick and my energy levels were very low in the winter and it took me weeks to feel better.

Do you ever catch yourself saying, “My hormones are out of balance!”

Well, my hormones were also out of whack and it got worse after I turned 42. I started to have digestive problems and stomach pain. I then became sensitive to molds and perfumes and humid weather in the summer with a high smog count. I ended up on an inhaler during the hot humid summer months and I experienced numerous sinus and bladder infections. My health was at an all-time low.

Maybe you can relate.

Also, I did not realize that stress was connected to the chemical burdens on my body from the food I was eating which tended to be a lot of processed foods which I thought were ok for me to consume on a regular basis.

I took out everything I could and attempted to use any type of detox formula that promised a positive outcome. However, I only suffered nausea and started to develop skin conditions to the point of getting very bad eczema on my legs and my face. Needless to say, I was a mess.

Maybe you have found yourself searching for the “magic pill” to turn your health around.

I couldn’t figure out what happened to me. I developed an irritable bowel and I was afraid to eat anything with sugar lest I come down with an infection. This was my wake up call.

The colonoscopy and endoscopy found nothing. This made me more upset because I knew something was terribly wrong with my system.

How many doctors have you seen?

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It was when I started having dreams of tables of food that I could not eat and started to lose a lot of weight that I decided, “enough already”!

I spent loads of money on supplements, detox formulas, naturopathic doctors and time until I found the right person to work with me and get me back on track.

Do you find yourself in the same circumstances?

I was determined to get well and find the energy to be strong and vibrant for my family. With the right practitioner, I was able to start moving forward and soon did not need a puffer anymore, my digestion improved and my energy started returning.

Being tired all the time was starting to be a thing of the past.

Another tool was positive self-talk. I kept saying to myself that I was going to be stronger than before. I also included a lot of prayer and belief in my healing. And so I am today.

I have overcome a lot of my former health challenges and struggles to maintain a body of balance every day. At 54 it is always a work in progress!

This is a health journey I am still on and that is why I am now a holistic nutrition professional. I want to help women like you increase your energy by overcoming the same things I have struggled with after the age of 40.

By addressing nutritional deficiencies, stress-reducing lifestyle habits along with gut health protocols to optimize digestion and absorption of nutrients from your food, you too can find the energy you need to do the things you love to do.

Click here to find out how to work with me.

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Vitamin D and Your Immune System

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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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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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Your Changing Metabolism and Energy Levels

Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

​Photo by Maaike Nienhuis on Unsplash

Remember your metabolism is the way your body uses nutrients and oxygen for energy and everything you do.

It seems as we get older, this process seems to slow down.  This affects your energy, body temperature and physical fitness.

You may feel tired, cold or feel that you've gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.   You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Since I have turned 52, I have noticed a huge difference this year.  There is no just letting myself go.  It takes real work now to feel good.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow your metabolism?

There are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don't worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it's so complicated I'm only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  1. low thyroid function
  2. your history of dieting
  3. your size and body composition
  4. your activity level
  5. lack of sleep

I will briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active.   Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right.  But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.  Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested.

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food. 

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you're eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one. 

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have. 

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

Which leads us to...

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you're also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Losing sleep also affects your energy and weight gain leading to major fatigue issues.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 

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Does What You Eat Make a Difference?

It's not how much you eat but what


Does what you know to eat make you tired and fat?

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…

Everyone has heard (and maybe lived through) the intense focus on how much you eat.  This has gotten way too much attention because 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. 

When the intense focus on how much we ate didn't work in the long-run, it wasn’t really a surprise. We kinda knew that already, didn't we?  You can eat a ton of veggies and it will be so much better than eating a ton of bread and pasta!

You can certainly still continue to count your calories, carbs, and fat but don't forget to also pay attention to what you eat. 

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 your 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.


References:

http://summertomato.com/wisdom-wednesday-salad-dressing-is-your-friend

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-reasons-you-are-not-losing-weight/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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What is Your Metabolism and Why Does it Matter?


This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean? And how is it related to fatigue?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It's how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can't control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”. 

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  1. Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  2. Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  3. Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate:

 “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) -- how much energy your body uses when you're not being physically active.

“total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) --  measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.  This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you'll burn.

But that's not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

How big you are counts too! 

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you're not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don't want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they're doing “work”.  This type of exercise for you would look like walking, swimming, biking or climbing stairs.  Other aerobic exercises could make you more tired if you are suffering from fatigue at this time.   So best to stick with gentle aerobic exercise.

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently. 

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

And don't forget the mind-body connection.  There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.  If you lack good quality sleep, you can gain weight because your metabolic rate slows down. Lack of sleep stresses our bodies.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

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Three strategies to Help You Avoid Overeating at Meals

Did you know that overeating can cause an energy drain and make you feel very lethargic for the rest of the day?

I have been to family gatherings and watched a couple people pass out on the couch from eating too much food.

It is literally their body shutting them down to have the energy to process the food.

Don’t you just love those summer backyard BBQ’s and annual potlucks?

And it’s not just the abundance of delicious food but also the people,

It is way too easy (and common) to indulge at these special gatherings.

But it doesn’t always stop there.

Sometimes we overeat on regular days.  Or at regular meals.  Or All. The. Time.

I have to admit that I do not eat as much in the summer as in the fall and winter.  How about you?

Here are three tips to avoid overeating at meals.

(challenge: turn these into habits and ditch the willpower!)

Tip #1: Start with some water

When your stomach is growling and you smell amazingly delicious food it’s too easy to fill a plate (or grab some samples with your bare hands) and dive into the food.

But did you know that it’s possible to sometimes confuse the feeling of thirst with that of hunger?  Your stomach may actually be craving a big glass of water rather than a feast.

Some studies have shown that drinking a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food eaten.  And this super-simple tip may even help with weight loss (…just sayin’).

Not only will the water start to fill up your stomach before you get to the buffet, leaving less room for the feast but drinking enough water has been shown to slightly increase your metabolism.

Win-win!

Tip #2: Try eating “mindfully”

You’ve heard of mindfulness but have you applied that to your eating habits?

This can totally help you avoid overeating as well as having the added bonus of helping your digestion.

Just as being mindful when you meditate helps to focus your attention on your breathing and the present moment being mindful when you eat helps to focus your attention on your meal.

Do this by taking smaller bites, eating more slowly, chewing more thoroughly, and savouring every mouthful.  Notice and appreciate the smell, taste and texture.  Breathe.

This can help prevent overeating because eating slower often means eating less.

When you eat quickly you can easily overeat because it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to know that your stomach is full.

So take your time, pay attention to your food and enjoy every bite.

Bonus points: Eat at a table (not in front of the screen), off of a small plate, and put your fork down between bites.

Tip #3: Start with the salad

You may be yearning for that rich, creamy main dish.

But don’t start there.

(Don’t worry, you can have some…just after you’ve eaten your salad).

Veggies are a great way to start any meal because they’re full of not only vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals but they also have some secret satiety weapons: fiber and water.

Fiber and water are known to help fill you up and make you feel fuller.  They’re “satiating”.

And these secret weapons are great to have on your side when you’re about to indulge in a large meal.

Summary:

Have your glass of water, eat mindfully, and start with your salad to help avoid overeating at meals.

 

Join my private Facebook Group–> Better Digestion, and Better Energy! ===> Click Here

 

Luana

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-of-water/

http://summertomato.com/the-science-behind-mindful-eating-what-happens-to-your-body-during-a-mindful-meal

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