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In good health,
If you enjoyed the video, subscribe to the Youtube channel to stay updated.
In good health,
If you enjoyed the video, subscribe to the Youtube channel to stay updated.
In good health,
For today’s video, I’m going to discuss three ways in which you can figure out if you’re dehydrated or not. Hydration is so important for your health, so making sure you’re actually getting enough water is key. 8 glasses a day isn’t the gold standard. Some people need more and some people need less. In this video, I’ll share three things you can monitor to figure out of you’re dehydrated or not.
Enjoy the video!
To good health,
Hello hello! I haven’t posted in a while, but that’s because of all the big things happening behind the scenes :D. I just launched my YouTube channel recently (yay!) and I’ll be posting 2-3 times a week there.
If you’re interested in following my new video content, you can subscribe at the link here: https://www.youtube.com/user/wholeandhappy/
For today’s video, I’m going to discuss my top five tips to make green smoothies taste better – for beginners. When you’re started out with green smoothies, it can be a bit of a shock to the tastebuds, so it’s best to take it slow and get those tastebuds used to the taste of greens. In the video, I discuss my top 5 ways to make green smoothies more enjoyable. Enjoy the video!
To good health,
A couple days ago, I saw a recipe for a “zero-fat salad dressing” on Jamie Oliver’s website. Hmm….zero fat? Why?
While the recipe was decent, I kept thinking about why it would be advertised as zero fat. I would have understood if it was called “zero trans fat” or “zero processed and refined fats”, but zero fat?
Fats are not the devil. Did you know that eating vegetables without fats means that you’re not going to absorb all the nutrients? If anything, you NEED to be eating fats with your salads.
Are you always getting colds? Are your colds frustratingly long?
You’re not alone.
Did you know that in the course of a year, individuals in the United States suffer 1 billion colds? Doesn’t that sound crazy? I had to double check the stats on that one and yes, it’s true . The average adult has a cold 2-3 times a year and children have colds far more often.
The cost of all this is a whopping $40 billion a year (again that sounds crazy, but here is where that number came from .)
We’re getting colds far too often and it’s resulting in too many lost opportunities. Who wants to be stuck at home with an awful cold 2-3 times a year?
What we need to do is prevent colds from happening in the first place. How exactly can you prevent colds? The answer is simple – build a strong immune system with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Popping supplements like vitamin C (which, by the way, has been proven to be ineffective in several studies [2,3,4]) or taking expensive herbs like echinacea (which also doesn’t seem to be that effective[5,6]) is not the answer.
At the end of the day, the best way to prevent a cold is to nourish your body and build a stronger immune system that can fight viruses on its own. Your lifestyle (exercise, sleep, stress management) are probably important, but nothing can beat a healthy diet with the right nutrients to boost your long-term immunity.
Here are three science-backed ways to prevent a cold:
Many people in North America have sub-optimal vitamin D levels due to low exposure to sunlight, especially in the winter. If you’re not getting regular sunlight and aren’t taking supplements, you could possible have low vitamin D levels.
Having low vitamin D levels impacts your body in many ways (you can read a bit more on vitamin D in my post here), but I’m not going to discuss that right now. Let’s talk about how vitamin D impacts your immunity.
In recent studies [7,8], researchers found a link between vitamin D and immune function. If low vitamin D results in low immunity, does that mean getting enough vitamin D will help prevent colds? Based on the science, yes, it seems to be the case. In several studies [9,10,11], people with higher vitamin D levels were less likely to catch a cold/flu.
Think about getting a vitamin D supplement if you’re always struggling with low immunity. The amount you need is best discussed with your healthcare provider, but you can read this post to get a better understanding of how important vitamin D is for you. Its benefits go well beyond preventing a cold.
Probiotics have been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting a cold or flu [12,13,14,15,16]. In most of the studies, they tested specific strains of bacteria, so these results may or may not apply to all probiotics. However, it seems that in general probiotics do have an impact on immunity .
So should you take a probiotic supplement? Well, not so fast. I don’t always recommend probiotic supplements to my clients since it really depends on the person and their health. And supplements can be expensive!
A less expensive (and perhaps more sustainable option) is to try incorporating probiotics into your diet with fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles, homemade water kefir or homemade dairy kefir (if you consume dairy). If you’re interested in learning more about kefir and other fermentation options, please check out Yemoos Nourishing Cultures (it’s where I buy my water kefir grains from).
And remember with any fermented product you buy, make sure it has live bacteria. Majority of the sauerkraut sold in the grocery stores has no live bacteria. Most “live” fermented products are only available in the refrigerated section of the store, not on the regular shelves. I recommend the Bubbies brand if you want to try sauerkrarut out – it’s available at most health food stores.
Yes, it’s all about those fruits and veggies! 🙂 If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ll know how much I stress the importance of eating enough fruits and veggies (if you want to learn more, read this post.)
Most people (even those who think they are eating well) are not getting enough fruit/veg in their daily diet. Only 13% of Americans eat enough fruits and only 9% eat enough vegetables . Too low! That means most people are missing out on key nutrients (vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals) that support immune function.
General fruit and vegetable (fresh and powdered) intake has been shown to reduce the occurrence of colds [18,19,20]. In addition, specific nutrients in fruits and vegetables have also been studied and shown to improve immune function (e.g. such as quercetin in apples  and lycopene in tomatoes ).
This is an interesting area of research and every year there are more studies showing a variety of health benefits of eating fruit and vegetables that extend beyond they vitamin and mineral content. No amount of multi-vitamins can replace a good diet. So get enough fruits and veggies (at least 5 or more a day as a bare minimum).
P.S. I wanted to give a special shout out to ginger and garlic. They’re not exactly considered fruits or vegetables, but they do have phytonutrients just like fruits and veggies, that can help boost immunity [23,24,25]. There’s no direct proof that they can prevent colds, but they definitely improve immune function.
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Are nuts healthful? Or are they leading you towards inflammation and obesity?
Everyone has a different opinion on this matter and the answer depends on who you ask. Let me give you a few examples.
If you ask someone trying to lose weight conventionally (with calorie counting), they’ll probably tell you to avoid nuts because nuts are “fattening”. Yes they contain fat (good fats, by the way) and are high in calories. But that isn’t enough for nuts to make you gain weight. Gaining weight and becoming obese is much more complex! Eating nuts in moderation won’t make you pile on the pounds and the science definitely does not support this view.
Now, if you ask hard-core paleo followers, they will tell you that many nuts have too many omega-6 fatty acids and this can skew your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. This, in turn, will lead to inflammation and eventually disease. Hold on. That’s a rather simplistic way of looking at a whole food. Nut oil or vegetable oil that is refined and heated to high temperatures will most likely cause inflammation, but can we really say the same for whole nuts in moderation? Not really. The science doesn’t support this view.
Nuts actually reduce inflammation according to many recent studies (see below).
Lastly, if you ask raw vegans what they think about nuts, they might tell you that they can’t possibly live without nuts and eat copious amounts daily. In fact, almost all raw vegan desserts have some sort of nut or seed ingredient in them! Are they right? Possibly, but they might also be overdoing it just a bit.
Based on the current science, it seems that nuts are a healthy choice for most people if they can tolerate them. But does that mean we can go overboard? Probably not. As with any food, it’s about eating the right amount. Not too much and not too little.
Yes, nuts have fats and are high in calories, but did you know that the human body can’t actually absorb all of the fat and calories? In one study , it was found that we absorb 30% fewer calories from almonds than what is listed on the food labels. What? Yes, you read that right – 30% lower! Why is that the case? Probably because nuts have cell walls that prevent the entire nut from being fully digested.
Now that we know that nuts aren’t as calorific as we think they are, let’s talk a bit about the studies done on nuts and body weight.
In a 2009 study , the researchers found that women eating more nuts did not have higher body weights.
Tree nuts appear to have strong inverse association with obesity.
What does that mean? The more nuts people ate in that study, the lower their risk of obesity!
So there you have it. Nuts won’t make you pile on the pounds as long as you’re eating them reasonably, of course.
Cholesterol is often linked to heart health, although it’s not that simple. Heart disease is more than just cholesterol. It’s also about inflammation. Did you know that nuts can help with both the cholesterol and inflammation?
As I mentioned earlier, heart disease is not just about cholesterol readings. There are other inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) that can help determine a person’s risk of heart disease and nuts can help bring that number down too. In one study from 2016 , scientists found that frequent nut consumption was associated with lower CRP levels. In other words, a LOWER risk of heart disease.
If you have high cholesterol or are at risk of heart disease, it might be worthwhile to eat nuts regularly.
Do you have diabetes or does diabetes run in your family? Might be worthwhile to add nuts to your meals.
The protein and fats from nuts can blunt the blood sugar response and in several studies, higher nut consumption has been linked to a lower risk of diabetes and better blood sugar control [16,17,18,19,20].
You’ve probably heard that chronic inflammation can cause all sorts of different diseases. What can we do to reduce inflammation? Eating a diet rich in fruits and veggies is definitely the way to go, but nuts can also lend a helping hand.
In many recent studies [21,22,23,24,25,26], nuts have been shown to reduce the levels of inflammation. This is especially important for diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, as these illnesses have been linked to chronic inflammation.
In a recent Mediterranean diet study , participants ate 30g of nuts/day (about 1 oz.) for a full year and saw a 35% decrease in one inflammatory biomarker (C-reactive protein) and a 90% decrease in another inflammatory bio-marker (interleukin-6)! That’s an impressive reduction in inflammation.
So to all those that are worried about their omega-6 intake from nuts causing inflammation – stop worrying. As long as you’re eating a balanced diet and not bingeing on the nuts, you probably have nothing to worry about. Study after study shows that nuts REDUCE inflammation.
So how much can you eat? Seems like 1 oz is a good amount (based on that Mediterranean study I talked about earlier).
Nuts have been found to lower high blood pressure slightly in several studies [28,29,30,31]. If you have high blood pressure, try incorporating nuts (particularly pistachios as they seem to have the most effect on blood pressure), into your diet and see if it makes a difference for you.
So there you have it – nuts are definitely healthy if you can tolerate them well and don’t have any digestive/auto-immune disturbances/allergies. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t go overboard.
As with anything, eat reasonable amounts. For nuts, that would be an ounce a day – not a whole bag of nuts!
What do I do? 1 ounce daily of unroasted and unsalted nuts/seeds. The key is unroasted. Roasting damages the delicate fats in the nuts and you don’t want that. And one more thing. I generally avoid almond flour and go easy on the nut butters because those are easier to overdo. If you feel like you’re getting a bit addicted to almond butter, it’s time to go back to eating plain almonds. 🙂
As a nutritionist, I often recommend supplements to clients when necessary. I am all for getting vitamins and minerals from your diet, but in some cases, a supplement is vital. There’s no other way out.
One such supplement is vitamin D. It’s hard to get enough vitamin D from the diet and if you live in a country with limited sunshine (especially in the winter), you could be vitamin D deficient . So your best bet is to take a supplement.
There are different kinds of supplements available and one question I get asked is:
Should I take vitamin D2 or vitamin D3? Which is bettter?
Years ago, the answer would have been “it doesn’t matter”. It was thought that vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 were interchangeable and the type of supplement you took made no difference. But is that really the case?
Let’s dig a little deeper.
Before we begin, let’s do a short vitamin D 101.
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is essential for good health, especially for bone health. It’s one of the few vitamins that the body can make itself, so we don’t need to rely completely on our diet to get enough vitamin D. Given that very few foods (e.g eggs and fatty fish) have vitamin D, it’s a good thing that our bodies can make it.
How does the body make vitamin D? When sunlight hits your skin, a substance in your skin called 7-dehydrocholesterol turns into vitamin D3, which is carried to your liver and then your kidneys to transform it to active vitamin D.
Now if you live in a place like Canada which there is not enough sunlight exposure for most of the year, you could have low vitamin D levels. What does that mean for your health?
Vitamin D is required for a number of functions in the body. We may think it’s mainly for bone health, but that is not the case. It’s so much more than that!
If you get adequate sun exposure throughout the year (e.g. if you live in a warm place close to the equator) and have been tested to have good vitamin D levels, you probably don’t need a supplement. Talk to your health care professional to help you make the best decision.
Now if you live in a climate which doesn’t allow for year-round sun exposure, you might have low level of vitamin D. Ideally, you should ask your family doctor to get your vitamin D levels tested so you can get a clearer picture. That way you’ll know exactly how much you need to supplement with.
What if your doctor refuses to get the test done? Tough call, but there’s no harm in taking a daily supplement to be on the safe side, especially if sun exposure is limited. The current recommended daily allowance is 600-800 IU per day for adults . But there is ongoing research stating that the current RDA is on the lower side and we actually need more [3,4,5].
I personally take 2000 IU per day in the summer and 3000 IU per day in the winter. This because I have limited sunlight exposure throughout most of the year. I also have darker skin, which means my body can’t produce as much vitamin D when exposed to sunlight as person with fairer skin.
I leave it up to you to decide what works best for you.
Just remember that the upper tolerable limit is 4000 IU per day , so if you plan on taking more than 4000 IU a day, definitely speak to a health care professional about getting your vitamin D levels monitored.
At your local pharmacy, you’ll most commonly see vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplements.
Vitamin D2 is called ergocalciferol and is made by irradiating plant matter with UV rays. Vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol is typically made by irradiating lanolin from sheep’s wool with UV rays .
Note: Given the method of production, vitamin D2 is more suitable for vegans who choose not to include any products made from animals. Just to be clear, the flesh of the animals is not typically used in vitamin D3 production, so vitamin D3 made from lanolin is still suitable for vegetarians (but not for vegans).
Let me share my personal story before we delve further.
In late 2011, I went back home on vacation and met with one of my dad’s friends who happens to be an orthopedic specialist. He recommended that both my husband and I should take vitamin D supplements because we live in Canada and aren’t getting enough sun exposure. He prescribed a three-week mega-dose of vitamin D2 which both of us took diligently. I also maintained my daily intake of milk at about 3 cups a day in order to get enough vitamin D. Six months later, I got a blood test done, hoping my levels would be normal. Were they? No way!
In spite of taking a mega-dose supplement and drinking so much milk, my vitamin D levels were dismally low (18 ng/mL)! The same for my hubby. It made no difference to the two of us.
Vitamin D2 didn’t work for us, but what does the research say about it?
Recent research shows that vitamin D3 is MORE EFFECTIVE than vitamin D2 in increasing and maintaining vitamin D levels in the body. That probably explains why vitamin D2 was not that effective for us.
Given its greater potency and lower cost, D3 should be the preferred treatment option when correcting vitamin D deficiency.
I’ve just highlighted a few studies here, but there are countless studies that show evidence that vitamin D3 is more effective [11,12,13,14]. As with anything, you’re bound to find a study or two that has different results, such as this one .
But the vast majority of studies on this matter, as well as this meta-analysis of several studies , confirm that vitamin D3 is a better choice.
If you’re thinking of supplementing with vitamin D, go for vitamin D3 as it’s more potent. If you’re vegan, go with vitamin D2, but do speak to your doctor about getting your levels tested regularly so you can up the dose if required.
Do you take vitamin D? What has your experience been? Leave us a comment below!
Do you know someone who swears by nutritional yeast? Some people even say it tastes like cheese.
What exactly is it and what is the point of eating it? Have you always wanted to try it, but aren’t sure it’s worth the trip to the health store?
You’ve got questions and I’ve got answers. Here’s a mini-primer on what nutritional yeast is and why you should (or shouldn’t) be eating it. Read on, folks 🙂 .
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast, usually made from the strain called Saccharomyces cerevisiae, that is sold as a food product.
It’s important to note that the yeast is deactivated or “dead”, so it’s not a live yeast which will continue to grow. And it’s not the same as the Candida albicans yeast.
Nutritional yeast is sold in the form of flakes or as a yellow powder and can be found in the bulk aisle of most health food stores. It has been popular with vegans and vegetarians for a long time and it’s usually used as a condiment or “supplemental food” since it has some B-vitamins and other nutrients.
You’ll hear that it tastes like cheese, but that may be a stretch. It has a strong flavour that is somewhat reminiscent of cheese, but also has a hint of nuttiness and umami flavour.
Well, you certainly don’t HAVE to eat it, but it’s a decent food to add for a bit of variety to your diet.
And if you like the taste, it’s a great way to boost the flavour of your meals as well as increase their nutritional value. That’s a win-win!
1. PROTEIN – A two tablespoon (heaped) serving of nutritional yeast contains 8 grams of protein! How much is that?
Let’s put it into perspective. That’s almost as much as half a small can of tuna or 1/2 a scoop of protein powder. So it’s definitely not a big amount, it’s still a good way to get some supplemental protein into your diet, especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian.
2. VITAMINS AND MINERALS – Nutritional yeast, if unfortified, naturally contains significant amounts (more than 30% of the RDA) of vitamin B1, vitamin B3, selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B5 and molybdenum.
While you can definitely get these vitamins from other foods, there’s no harm in getting a decent amount from from nutritional yeast. I look at the yeast as a natural “supplement”. I’ll have a bit with my meals 3-4 times a week. It’s important to note here that while some nutritional yeast products are NOT fortified, many ARE fortified with additional vitamins such as folic acid and vitamin B12. Is that a good thing? Yes and no. Read more in the *starred* section below.
3. FIBER – Two heaped tablespoons of nutritional yeast contain 4 g of fiber and we all know how important dietary fiber is for good health (if you want to learn more about the benefits of fiber, you can read my post here), especially for digestive health.
The fiber in nutritional yeast is a special kind of fiber known as beta-glucan. So why are these beta-glucans so important? It’s a type of soluble fiber that helps improve cholesterol, heart health, and blood sugar levels. Sounds like something worth eating, doesn’t it?
OK, so here’s where things get complicated. When it comes to nutrition, things are not always black and white – it’s 50 shades of grey :P.
While unfortified nutritional yeast is fine to eat in moderation for almost everyone, I can’t say the same about fortified nutritional yeast. If you’re planning on eating unfortified nutritional yeast, you can skip this section, but if you aren’t sure, read on.
First things first, what does fortified nutritional yeast have that regular nutritional yeast does not?
Fortified nutritional yeast can contain a number of different synthetic vitamins depending on the brand, but the most commonly added vitamins are folic acid and vitamin B12 because yeast does not contain much of these nutrients naturally. While I’m not against fortifying with vitamin B-12, there is a slight problem with folic acid fortification. Most people can use folic acid just fine and not have any issues with it, but there is a portion of the population that cannot.
People who have a certain genetic mutation known as the MTHFR mutation cannot use folic acid. MTHFR? I know it looks like a curse word, but “MTHFR” is a shortened form of methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase. Thank goodness there’s a shorted version!
If you have the MTHFR mutation, that means it is more difficult for you to break down synthetic folic acid (like the folic acid added to fortified nutritional yeast). Since synthetic folic acid can’t be converted into the usable form, it can build up in the body. This can eventually lead to a variety of health problems (which you can read more about here).
If you don’t have the MTHFR mutation, you don’t have to worry, but if you do, stick to unfortified nutritional yeast. If you have no idea if you have the mutation and want to err on the side of caution? Then stick to unfortified nutritional yeast as well.
If you can handle synthetic folic acid and are fine with consuming synthetic B vitamins, then you can buy the fortified version. You can find it online (Amazon, etc) or at your local health food store.
Now, if you’re someone who has to avoid synthetic folic acid due to the MTHFR gene mutation or for other reasons, then stay away from the fortified products. At this time I am only aware of two brands that make an unfortified version – Dr. Fuhrman’s Nutritional Yeast and Sari Foods. If you know any other brands, leave them in the comments below.
It can be used like any other condiment. Just sprinkle a bit on top of any savory meal or snack and you’re good to go. Nothing fancy. If you want to try more interesting ways to use nutritional yeast, try these recipes:
Do you use nutritional yeast? What do you think of it? Leave a comment below – we love reading them :).
Losing weight is a complicated affair these days. Each and every diet book author differs in their opinion on what we should eat and what we shouldn’t. Just looking at the nutrition aisles at the local bookstores will make your head spin 😮 . While all these books seem different, there is one thing they all have in common. What is that?
Restriction. Restriction. Restriction.
Each and every diet is about restricting something. Sometimes restriction is important, but when you’re over-restricting for no particular health reasons, it sucks the joy out of life.
What if I told you that instead of cutting out so many foods, there is one really simple diet change that could help you lose weight without restriction? It’s not a miracle solution nor is it a solution do be done in isolation, but it will help you in your weight loss journey.
That one simple change is eating more fiber.
There are two important types of fiber: water-soluble and water insoluble.
While both types of fiber are important for good health, for losing weight the evidence shows that soluble fiber may do a better job. That is because it reduces appetite better than insoluble fiber . This way you are less likely to overeat!
While you’ll see the words “added fiber” on the labels of all sorts of processed foods, it is best to get your fiber from whole foods like:
Specific foods rich in soluble fiber include black beans, lima beans, chickpeas, avocado, oranges, pears, Brussels sprouts, oats, etc. For a full list, click here.
Eating granola bars with lots of added fiber is really not the same thing as eating fresh whole fruits and veggies!
Let me explain.
If you were to eat a fiber-enhanced granola bar like FiberOne  , you would get 9 gram of fiber (not bad!), but you will also get almost two teaspoons of processed sugar along with it and not much in terms of nutrients.
For almost the same amount of fiber, you would need to eat just a little over 1/2 cup of lentils  and you would get a lot more nutrients. Look at the numbers yourself.
Granola bar (1 bar) vs. Lentils (1/2 cup)
140 calories vs. 116 calories
9 grams of fiber vs. 8 grams of fiber
7 grams of sugar vs. 2 grams of sugar
2 grams of protein vs. 9 grams protein
10% calcium vs. 2% calcium
6% iron vs. 19% iron
0% thiamin vs. 11% thiamin
0% folate vs. 45% folate
0% niacin vs. 5% niacin
While the granola bar isn’t that bad, it doesn’t really pack a nutritional punch. If you want to get the most out of your fiber intake, stick to whole foods so you get a wide range of nutrients. Processed foods are rarely as nutrient-dense as whole and unprocessed foods.
Most of us aren’t getting nearly enough fiber. The average American woman consumes about 10 to 15 grams of fiber a day . That’s just about half of what’s needed to meet the basic recommendation of 25 grams.
Some experts think that the amount of fiber we actually need could be more than that. There is no magic number, so you’ll need to experiment and see what works best for your body. Aiming for 25-38 grams a day  would be a good place to start. Men should aim for more than women.
If you’re planning to switch to a high-fiber diet, remember to do it gradually to give your body time to get used to it!
So go on and add some fiber to your diet – your body will thank you!
Note: If you’re on a fiber-restricted diet due to medical reasons or if you have a digestive disorder, it’s best to speak to a medical professional before you eat more fiber.
Let us know what you think! Leave us a comment below (scroll after the other posts section) 🙂