Why Fiber Is So Great

Why Fiber Is So Great

Did you know that there is a nutrient in your food that can keep you feeling full, doesn’t have any calories, and help you live longer?!

Most of us don’t get enough of it!

It’s fiber, and it’s definitely worth taking a look at your intake.

Let’s talk about how much fiber you need to get every day.

According to the Institute of Medicine, men under the age of 50 should aim for 38 grams of fiber and women under 50 need 25 grams. Meanwhile, if you’re over 50, men need 30 grams and women need 21 grams.

There are two basic kinds of fiber: soluble and insoluble.

Your body can’t absorb either, so it passes through your body (which is why it makes a good food choice to keep your internal plumbing humming).

SOLUBLE FIBER

dissolves in water and forms a gel-like material as it moves through your system. It can help lower your blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It’s found in oats, apples, chia and flax seeds, citrus fruits, carrots, peas, beans, barley, and in psyllium powder.

INSOLUBLE FIBER

is especially good for people who tend not to have regular bowel movements because it helps move waste through your system. It’s found in nuts, legumes, some veggies (cauliflower, potatoes, green beans), and if you aren’t gluten sensitive you also can get it in whole wheat flour and wheat bran.

Both kinds of fiber are incredibly good for your health. Here are some things that a fiber-rich diet helps with:

  • Bowel movements.Fiber can help with both constipation and loose stools.
  • Digestive system. Fiber can help prevent hemorrhoids and diverticulitis. Studies show a fiber-rich diet also might lower your risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Lowers cholesterol. Soluble fiber lowers LDL “bad” cholesterol, and it shows promise for reducing blood pressure as well as inflammation in your body.
  • Blood sugar.Soluble fiber can help ease blood sugar spikes, and insoluble fiber appears to help reduce your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.
  • Some studies show that an increased fiber intake is correlated with a reduced risk of dying from heart disease and all cancers.
  • Healthy weight.Fiber keeps you feeling full, which can help you from eating too much.

So, how do you know if you’re getting enough? It’s worth taking a couple days to track your fiber intake – you can do this by reading labels, but since many fiber-rich foods don’t actually come with food labels, it’s a lot easier to use a food tracking app or website (there are hundreds available, but two reliable ones are myfitnesspal.com or cronometer.com).

Note! When you start tracking your fiber, try not to suddenly load up on fiber-rich foods if you’re not used to eating them. There’s a chance your digestive system might rebel a little. You can save yourself some misery if you gradually increase your intake over a few weeks. 🙂

OK, now it’s time for a recipe! This makes a great healthy snack or breakfast.

I really like this because you can customize it any way you want. To boost the fiber (along with antioxidants and other micronutrients), you can add nuts and/or berries or other fruits. A dash of cinnamon will add even more blood-sugar-stabilizing effects!


RECIPE

This recipe will keep in the fridge for several days.

Make-Ahead Chia Pudding

(makes 2 servings)
¾ cup dairy-free milk (choose your fav)
¼ cup chia seeds
½ tbsp honey or maple syrup
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator at least 6 hours, until it becomes thick and pudding-like. Sometimes the chia seeds clump together at the bottom of the bowl, so you might need to stir the mixture to ensure they fully absorb the liquid.

Taste and adjust sweetness as needed. Place in a serving bowl and add the optional nuts/fruit.

I hope you enjoy it!

To your radiant health, with love

Low Carb Diet 101

Low Carb Diet 101

It is well known that the Western diet/Standard American Diet (SAD) are high in processed carbohydrates (especially sugar) which results in gastrointestinal and systemic inflammation. This further contributes to the development of increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut) which can lead to all kind of diseases and imbalances (allergies, autoimmune diseases, blood sugar imbalances, obesity etc). By eating refined carbohydrates and not enough fiber we feed the pathogenic bacteria and fungi (especially those higher up in the digestive tract). By eating complex carbohydrates with fiber, we feed the beneficial bacteria in the lower part of the gut.

High carb diet also favors weight gain. Excess carbs are stored as fat.

Now let’s explore a low carbohydrate diet.

Low carb diets have been popular on and off since the dawn of the Atkins fame (and maybe even earlier?). But, what exactly defines low carb? Does eating this way actually help with weight loss? Are there any other health benefits to eating fewer carbs?

Let’s see.

What is a carb?

A carb, or carbohydrate, is one of our three main macronutrients. Carbs, along with protein and fat that are needed for optimal health in quantities larger than vitamins and minerals which are micronutrients.

Carbohydrates come in three main types:
  • Sugars
  • Starches
  • Fiber

Sugars are the smallest (molecule) carb. There are many different kinds of sugars, beyond the well-known table sugar (sucrose) or fruit sugar (fructose).

Starches are longer chains of many sugars bound together. Starches are broken down by our digestive enzymes into sugars. These sugars are then absorbed and metabolized in much the same way as if we ate sugar itself.

Fiber, on the other hand, is also a long chain of sugars, but these are not broken down by our digestive enzymes. Fiber passes through our system, feeds our friendly gut bacteria, and then takes food waste out the other end.

Because fiber isn’t digested like sugars and starches, it’s often excluded from the carb calculation.

How we metabolize carbs

When we eat carbs, our body absorbs the broken down sugar into our blood, thus raising our blood sugar. Depending on how high and fast our blood sugar rises, our body releases insulin to tell our cells to absorb that sugar out of our blood and use it as energy now or store it for later.

This is part of the theory as to why eating low carb diets may help with weight loss – by preventing the release of insulin, thus preventing the storage of excess calories.

But, our bodies are a bit more complicated than that!

Low carb for weight loss?

Yes, our bodies are burning fat more efficiently than sugar (carbs). While burning sugar a lot of free radicals are created. Low carb diet helps with insulin balancing (insulin resistance).

A few studies recently put low carb diets head-to-head against low-fat diets for weight loss.

How many carbs is low carb?

There isn’t one single definition.

The average American eats about 300 g of carbs per day. Some people consider eating under 250 g of carbs per day to be the first threshold of a low carb diet. That’s really not that low in carbs, it’s lower carb, rather than low carb. Plus, if you’re new to cutting carbs, this level is easy to maintain and a good start (if you want to cut your carbs).

Taking that a step further, eating about  50 g per day of carbs is considered a typical low carb diet.

On the extreme side, eating less than 50 g of carbs per day is considered to be very low carb – it falls under the ketogenic diet range. Eating so few carbs can actually change your metabolism into a ketogenic state. That means we are burning fat for energy (fat burner vs. sugar burner).

Other health benefits of low carb diets

Low carb diets have the benefit of preserving muscle mass during weight loss. They can also improve heart health biomarkers like cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

Not to mention that eating fewer carbs can improve how our bodies manage those carbs in terms of insulin and fasting blood sugar levels.

There can definitely be some non-weight-loss health benefits to eating fewer carbs!

Conclusion

Eating a low carb diet can be healthy, as long as it contains enough of all the essential nutrients. Some people may lose weight by eating fewer carbs, and others won’t.

Low carb diets can help to improve how the body manages blood lipids and blood sugar, so it can be a healthy choice for some people.

As with most things in nutrition, there isn’t a one size fits all rule. Low carb diets can be a good choice for many people, but it’s not the magic bullet that some people claim.

What about you – have you tried (or do you currently) eat low carb? How many carbs do you eat per day? Have you had any great (or not so great) health effects from it? Let me know in the comments below.


RECIPE:

Low Carb Baked “Breaded” Chicken
Serves 4

2 pounds chicken drumsticks
½ cup almond flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp rosemary or thyme
½ tsp garlic powder

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450F. Cover a large baking dish with parchment paper. In a large food storage bag, combine all ingredients except chicken. Place a couple of pieces of chicken in the bag and shake until coated. Repeat with the rest of the chicken. Place chicken on a lined dish and bake uncovered for 20 minutes. Turn over and bake 15 minutes longer. Ensure the internal temperature of chicken reaches 165F.

Serve & enjoy!

I opened up a few spots for strategy sessions. Let’s have a virtual latte and create the roadmap to radiant health for you. Just click on the link to schedule  https://my.timetrade.com/book/6ZDTG

To your radiant health, with love,

How Stressed Are You?

How Stressed Are You?

We know stress is aging us at a faster pace. We also know that chronic stress is one of the root causes of modern diseases. Managing stress is as important as diet. Even if you have a perfect diet, stress can damage your health. We also know that we can’t avoid stressful situations. We can choose how to react to those situations.

Let’s have some conversation about stress.

How do you feel? Do you find it a struggle to get through the day feeling sane?  Stress is a key factor for all health issues, and it may be driving you crazy. And to say that you should work on stress management seems like an easy answer, but there isn’t anything easy about it. People who suffer from issues due to chronic stress can present with many symptoms. The problem we face is whether we are suffering from overactive adrenals and high cortisol or underactive adrenals and low cortisol.

A salivary or urine hormone test could determine this, but you may not want to incur that expense. Use this checklist to help you determine whether you’re dealing with overactive or underactive adrenals. You can have one or the other or be somewhere in between. This means that some days you’re pumping too much cortisol, making you feel anxious and irritated. And some days you may be suffering from low cortisol, leaving you feeling sluggish and blue.

Strategies need to be able to support overall adrenal health. Underactive adrenals will take time to correct– two months to a year – depending on the person, the condition of the adrenals, and the nature of the diet and lifestyle. Overactive adrenals can respond more quickly with proper diet, supplement and lifestyle suggestions.

Strategies for Underactive Adrenals and Low Cortisol

  • Check for digestive issues and support good digestive function.
  • Supplement with B vitamins.
  • Try an adrenal adaptogen or adaptogen formula.
  • Try foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, and potassium as these can be helpful.
  • Go to bed and get up at the same time and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Rest when your body signals you to do so.
  • Try adrenal glandulars (which can be helpful) or reishi, schizandra, licorice (contraindicated for those with high blood pressure), or maca.
  • Get counselling for emotional issues as this can be helpful.

Strategies for Overactive Adrenals and High Cortisol

  • Practice deep breathing exercises throughout the day.
  • Supplement with B vitamins and vitamin C.
  • Consume foods rich in vitamin E and potassium foods.
  • Try magnesium to counter feelings of agitation, especially before bedtime.
  • Try adrenal adaptogens – relora, rhodiola, ginseng, schizandra, holy basil, or ashwagandha.
  • Focus on getting a better-quality sleep.
  • Try any of these supplements to help you relax at night – GABA, 5HTP, valerian, hops, or passionflower. Raw honey with cinnamon is also helpful.

Develop a lifestyle to combat stress. This can include counseling, developing time management skills, reframing, or just doing activities you enjoy.

Foods That Help Balance the Adrenals

Supplements are helpful, but foods can also help balance cortisol. The following can easily be added to smoothies, soups, baked dishes, or salad dressings.

  • Reishi mushrooms – dried or powder
  • Maca root – powder
  • Schizandra berries – powder or dried berries
  • Goji Berries – powder or dried berries
  • Holy Basil – powder or grow your own in an herb box
  • Ashwagandha – powder

Supporting the Gut for Adrenal Health

Studies have found that both prebiotics and probiotics help support the adrenals and help manage cortisol levels. GOS, a prebiotic found dairy products, is helpful for stabilizing moods and lowering cortisol. Probiotics, found in supplements and fermented foods, help lower cortisol and anxiety.

CHAI CHIA SMOOTHIE

  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice
  • 1–2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1–2 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/2–1 tsp ashwagandha powder
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup frozen raspberries

To your radiant health, with love

P.S. PAYING IT FORWARD
Inspired by one of my business coaches I am offering free coaching sessions for 5 people. If you think you could benefit from it here is the link to schedule it. https://my.timetrade.com/book/6ZDTG

Can Plastic Make Us Fat?

Can Plastic Make Us Fat?

We as a nation we are getting fatter and fatter. Our diet and sedentary lifestyle are to blame for, mostly. But research in the last ten years is increasingly proving us that there is more to the story. Exposure to chemicals is also an important factor in the growing epidemics of metabolic diseases, including obesity.

Just a few data to illustrate the seriousness of the problem:

  • Nearly 70% of US adult population is overweight or obese.
  • Childhood obesity has tripled since 1970.
  • 85 million Americans have prediabetes
  • 30 million have diabetes

If the trend is continuing this way, 1 in 3 will develop diabetes.

We are facing a health crisis and we should take it seriously.

My intention is not to make you feel depressed or hopeless, but in contrary to give you some valuable information that you can implement in your life.

Let’s talk briefly about “those pesky chemicals. What are they, where are they coming from?

We are exposed to harmful chemicals daily. They are in the food we eat, the air we breathe, in our home (flame retardants, spill resistance furniture, carpeting, mattresses, curtains, especially shower curtains, cleaning items, air fresheners, laundry detergents, fabric softeners). They are in our skincare products and makeup (moisturizers, foundations, nail polish, lipsticks, makeup removers), in our water, receipt paper etc.

The most well known are BPA, PVC, DDT, Phthalates, Atrazine, PFOA, Dioxine, Parabens, MSG and many more.

There are two ways they can make us fat.

A subgroup of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDC) called OBESOGENS can stimulate fat storage by increasing the size and numbers of fat cells, change endocrine regulation of fat tissue and alter insulin sensitivity.

They can also act as ENDOCRINE DISRUPTORS (for us ladies in 40+ have to pay close attention to XENOESTROGENS, that are able to cause estrogen dominance) by blocking the hormone or stimulating hormone receptors (Xenoestrogens: meaning fake estrogens).

The approach “eat less, exercise, more” (calorie restrictions) doesn’t really work anymore. Yes, you can lose some weight while on “the diet” but it won’t be too long when the pounds start piling up again. Also, I want you to remember this; most of the toxic chemicals are lipophilic (means they like fat) and the excess is stored in our fat tissue. When we start losing weight and the body is not prepared properly, a large number of toxic substances will be released and circulating in our bodies. Not a good thing!!!

Also, important to remember, we are not talking here about high doses of toxic exposure that will take us to the ER. Those are very small amounts, but the chronic exposure will add up.

What can you do to avoid toxic chemicals and how to get rid of them?

Come back next week…I will be sharing simple, practical tips you will be able to implement and help yourself and your family.

Here is one tip:

Stop wasting your hard-earned money on plastic water bottles. It is more contaminated than tap water, it costs you a lot of money and besides that, it’s very bad for the environment. And don’t be fooled by BPA free claims!!! There are BPS and BPF equally bad, if not maybe worse.


RECIPE:

DETOXING GREEN SMOOTHIE 

Handful of kale and spinach
Bunch of cilantro
1 smaller cucumber
1 teaspoon chlorella
1 teaspoon ginger powder (or about 1 “ fresh ginger)
½ of avocado
1 teaspoon ashwagandha and maca
1 ½ cup water (or if you like more liquid consistency add 2 cups )|
½ cup blueberries

Blend everything well in a blender

 

To your radiant health, with love
Dr. Ilona

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut?

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut?

Leaky gut is a popular topic in the health and wellness world these days. It’s been blamed for many symptoms and conditions that seem to be all-too-common. Allergies, intolerances, joint pain, even autoimmune diseases can all be linked back to leaky gut.

But what exactly is leaky gut? What causes it? What kinds of issues are related to it? And most of all, what can you eat for leaky gut?

What is a leaky gut?

Simply put, your “gut” (a.k.a. “intestinal tract”) is a tube that makes up part of your digestive system. It’s an amazing tube made of live cells tightly bound together. Your gut helps your body absorb fluids and nutrients, digests your food, and houses billions of friendly gut microbes.

It’s also selective to what it allows past its barrier. Your intestinal tract purposefully keeps some things from being absorbed, so they pass right on through to the other end to be eliminated as waste. You don’t want to absorb many harmful microbes or toxins into your body, right?

Did you know about 70-80% of our immune system is housed in our gut, so it’s ready for foreign invaders?

Absorption of fluids and nutrients happens when they’re allowed through this cellular tube into the circulation. And this is great! As long as what’s being absorbed are fluids and nutrients., only. The blood and lymph then carry the nutrients to your liver, and then around to the rest of your body; this is so that all your cells, all the way to your toenails, get the nutrition they need to be healthy and grow.

How does a gut become “leaky?”

The gut can become leaky if the cells get damaged, or if the bonds that hold the cells together get damaged. Leaky gut can be caused or worsened by a number of diet and lifestyle factors. Dietary factors like too much sugar or alcohol or even eating things that you’re intolerant to can all contribute to leaky gut, toxins in our food and water, pesticides and environmental toxins.

Lifestyle factors like stress, lack of sleep, infections, and some medications can also be culprits in this area. Sometimes, if the balance of gut microbes inside the gut is thrown off, this can also contribute to a leaky gut.

Any contributing factors that alter the balance in your gut may cause our gut to become “permeable” or leak. At this point incompletely digested nutrients, microbes (infectious or friendly), toxins, or waste products can more easily get into our bodies.

Scientifically speaking, a “leaky gut” is known as “intestinal permeability.” This means that our intestines are permeable and allow things through that they normally would keep out. They “leak.”

As you can imagine, this is not a good thing.

What are the symptoms of a leaky gut?

 Because so much of your immune system is around your gut, the immune cells quickly recognize a “foreign invader” and start their response. This is normal and good if the gut is working properly and not allowing too many things to “leak” in.

But when that happens too much, and the immune system starts responding, the notorious inflammation starts.  Once the immune system starts responding it can look like allergies, food intolerances, and even autoimmune diseases.

Because the first place affected is the gut, there are a number of symptoms right there. Things such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, nausea, vomiting, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea. Not to mention that if foods, even healthy foods, aren’t properly digested, their nutrients aren’t properly absorbed. Poor absorption can lead to lack of essential vitamins and minerals for the optimal health of every cell in your body.

Some of the symptoms can also occur on the skin.  Acne, dry skin, itchiness, rashes, eczema, and hives can all be symptoms related to leaky gut. Even rosacea and psoriasis can be linked here due to their autoimmune component.

It’s possible that even some neurological symptoms are linked to leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked to a leaky gut. Things like Crohn’s, colitis, celiac disease, IBS, and MS. Even things like heart disease and stroke are possibilities.

What to eat for leaky gut?

The general recommendation is to stop eating inflammatory foods and eat more gut-soothing foods.

Incorporating a gut-soothing diet means cutting out grains, legumes, and dairy. Add to that list, food additives, alcohol, and refined sugars.

In their place, add in more green leafy and cruciferous veggies. These are full of nutrients and contain fiber to help feed your friendly gut microbes. You also want to add more sources of vitamin D which can come from fish and egg yolks, and also from the sun. Eat more probiotic foods like sauerkraut, dairy-free yogurt, and kombucha (fermented tea). Make sure you’re getting enough essential omega-3 fats found in seafood and seaweed.  Finally, make sure you’re getting some coconut oil and bone broth. Coconut oil has special fats called MCTs (medium-chain triglycerides), and bone broth has essential amino acids.

Conclusion

Leaky gut, or “intestinal permeability” can happen when your gut gets damaged due to too much sugar and alcohol, or eating foods you’re intolerant to. It can also be from stress, lack of sleep, or imbalance in your friendly gut microbes. The symptoms of leaky gut are vast – spanning from digestive woes to skin rashes, even to autoimmune conditions.

It’s important to cut out problem foods and drinks and add in more gut-soothing things like green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, and probiotic foods. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

Could you have leaky gut?

I would like to hear from you. Comment below.

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

You probably know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially “added sugars” like in soda pop, candy, baked goods, and many commercially-available cereals, just to name a few.  Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store.

Yes, ingesting refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin, and increases your risk for a whole host of issues, (because it creates inflammation in our bodies).

A while ago, one of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still taste great, was artificial sweeteners.

The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet pop” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will…

Types of artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.

Today we’ll specifically discuss “artificial sweeteners,” which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.

They’re also known as “non-nutritive sweeteners,” and include things like:

  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low),
  • Acesulfame potassium,
  • Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda).

Health effects of artificial sweeteners

Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, others don’t. There still needs a lot of research to be done, but there is a body of evidence proving that they are linked to cancer, cardiovascular diseases, neurotoxicity, not to mention the effect on gut health. “Artificial sweeteners may change our gut bacteria in dangerous ways” was an article published in Scientific American. A group of Israeli scientist came to a conclusion that artificial sweeteners change the population of microbiota that regulates metabolism, the conversion of food to energy or stored fuel. So they make more calories available to us, calories that will eventually find their way to our hips and thighs.

This explains other studies finding that people who tend to drink diet sodas have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn’t.

Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.

How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies?

Now that’s a million-dollar question!

There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.

  • Altering the microbiome
  • Is it because people feel that they can eat cake because they’ve switched to diet soda?
  • Perhaps it’s because the sweeteners change the taste preferences so that fruit starts to taste worse, and veggies taste terrible?
  • Maybe artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more (real) sweets?
  • It can be that the sweet taste of these sweeteners signals to our body to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we didn’t actually ingest sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, to the point where we get sugar cravings.
  • Some even say (and at least one animal study suggests) that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it.
  • Maybe there is even a more complex response that involves our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.

Conclusion:

Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace them all with artificial sweeteners.

Alternatives to artificial sweeteners: Stevia, Monk fruit, Coconut palm sugar, raw honey etc.

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