How to Handle Stress on the Job

Have you ever worked in an environment that was extremely stressful? At some time or another we’ve all experienced stress on the job. Stress is a given for everyone, but what sets us apart is how we handle stress.
When you are able to deal with stress effectively, you can then be more efficient and effective at work while supporting overall good health in the process. Today I’m sharing with you some ways to manage work-related stress.

If you’ve been having stress related to your work, here are a few ways to handle it.

  1. Stop and breathe.  If you feel stress mounting, the best thing you can do is to stop for a moment and just breathe. Take a time-out from what you’re doing and take ten slow, deep breaths to clear your mind and allow you to regain focus. The great thing about this technique is that you can do it anywhere.  I especially like to do this before I sit down to lunch – it helps to eliminate stress eating and digestive upset throughout the day.  Want to take it a step further?  Download a meditation app.  My new favorite is Insight Timer.  Pick how long you have (5-60 minutes), press play (I usually take a 10 min break in my car for this) and go with the flow.
  2. Jot down your thoughts.  When you start to feel stressed, find some privacy, pull out your journal or a blank piece of paper, and write freely for five minutes. Free, uncensored writing for just a few minutes will allow you to get the emotions out of your mind for good. Purge your stress onto paper so you can get back on track without stress weighing you down.
  3. Communicate.  Those thoughts you just wrote down?  Use them to create a bulleted list of issues that need to be discussed with your boss (or coworker) or compose a professional letter or email and send it requesting the best time to discuss in person.  Whether you need feedback, support or just need to be heard, you deserve a moment of your boss’s time in order to be a positive and productive team player.
  4. Use positive images.  Having calming images around you can work wonders to keep the stress level lower at work. An easy way to do this is to decorate your space with a calming colors, a sweet picture on your desk or even on your computer background. Turn your attention to these images when stress is adding up.
  5. Create a calming space.  Having soothing sounds or music around you even in the noisiest settings, can help keep you calm and relaxed.  Additionally, the smell of energizing essential oils can help you concentrate during your work day.  Lastly, an organized desk and office can help keep you focused.   Nature sounds (I’m a fan of beach & river sounds) or music are great ways to find peace and a small desk diffuser or essential oil pendant or bracelet can also help keep you calm.
  6. Shift your thoughts to positive ones.  Stress can sometimes lead to negative thinking patterns. You can counter this tendency with positive statements and thoughts. Think or say things such as, “All situations are temporary” or “I choose to remain calm and positive” when your mind starts to drift to negative thoughts during stress. Adding in positive thoughts throughout your day will leave little room for negativity and help to keep your stress under control.  Try adding your favorite affirmations to your screen saver!
  7. Unplug.  “Technostress is an important and growing issue,” says Dr. Rosch, who is also a clinical professor of medicine and psychiatry at New York Medical College, in Valhalla, N.Y.    Set aside blocks of time—between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m., say—when you turn your electronics off and focus on clearing your head.  Try setting up an auto-responder for your work email between 7pm and 6am.  How to deal with uninterrupted quiet time?  I know, it feels weird at first – especially if you tend to have racing thoughts and a tendency to be jittery.  You can start with a good book.  Not a boring, have to read book but something juicy or exciting that makes you forget how long you’ve been reading.  It’s good for the soul (and brain).  You just might see how different you feel by replacing 2 hours of TV with 2 hours of reading.
  8. Try CBD.  CBD is a cutting edge superfood that has hit the world by storm in recent months.  Just a few years ago ( the 90s), we learned that we have a vast system of special cannabinoid receptors.  This system helps us maintain a state of homeostasis and plays a major role in regulating stress.  Taking a pure, organic, non-GMO CBD oil can help you combat stress, reduce anxiety and fight inflammation by attaching to the receptors in our bodies signaling it to produce it’s own healthy response to high levels of cortisol, and other stress hormones.  I have been using it myself and can’t praise it enough!  I feel a sense of calm throughout the day, sleep is deep and emotional eating has drastically reduced.  Even my friends and clients who have used this same product agree and tout their own testimonials.  One of my clients recently told me that she uses it to deal with her ego maniac of a boss!  I encourage you to do some research  because 1. It’s fascinating and 2. not all CBD is created equal.  You want a pure, potent, high value product.  This one is my favorite and you can order it here (with a $50 discount and a 60 day money back guarantee :)).
  9. Try online therapy.  Everyone is going through something.  Sometimes you just need some professional support.   Talking with a licensed therapist online is a professional, private and affordable way to get your needs met by an expert without the hassle or price tag of getting to an appointment. Interested?  It’s as simple as messaging a counselor on a website or mobile app.  Here’s a great resource to get you started, click here: Better Help

These are a few simple ways to cope with stress on the job, and hey’re quick and easy to incorporate into your work day while reducing your stress levels.
How do you manage stress at work? Which of these techniques do you think you’ll try?

 

References:

http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20409593,00.html

https://www.betterhelp.com/

https://blog.puriumcorp.com/2018/03/28/cbd-1500-mouth-spray/

https://www.endoca.com/blog/cbd-for-stress-solution/

 

 

 

6 Quick Tips to Reduce Stress Today

When stress shows up in your life, what does it look like? Perhaps you feel mentally or physically drained. Your body may display signs like increased blood pressure, faster breathing, a rush of adrenaline, or you may feel confused, overwhelmed or even angry.  Stress happens to all of us and can’t be avoided altogether; but it does become a problem when you are under stress on a regular basis, or when your body is in a state of chronic stress.

Studies have shown a relationship between stress and health conditions like inflammation, insomnia, obesity, headaches, and poor immune function to name a few.  If you’re striving to be healthier, getting stress under control is a must.

Last week I learned that April is Stress Awareness Month so I thought I’d share a few tips to help reduce that pesky hindrance.

So, what can you do about stress?  Here are a few ways to lower stress in your daily life.

Try Meditation – Don’t worry, simply sitting with your thoughts and deep breathing for a few minutes counts!  Better yet, try a free app.  Dedicate a few minutes to yourself, put in those earbuds and close your eyes.  Let the guide do the talking and just follow along.  Meditation can help us reduce stress by allowing us to approach life from a more relaxed standpoint.  And it has been scientifically proven to change the activity of the brain. Mindfulness meditation, especially, has demonstrated a positive effect on reducing anxiety.

Practice Yoga & Tai Chi – Yoga and Tai Chi can not only help your body, they can also help to calm your mind and reduce stress in your everyday life.  Don’t know where to start?  Try following a YouTube video for beginners.

Modify Your Diet – You knew I’d go there… Did you realize that some foods can influence stress?  For instance, healthy high-fiber foods like sweet potatoes and brown rice have a calming effect, while high-fat foods, caffeine, and sugar can make you feel jittery or drained, increasing your stress response.  Ditch the junk!  Add more plant based meals to your diet and eat something green (preferably at every meal) at least once a day.  Need a little help?  Try my free Green Smoothie Challenge to increase your nutrition and crowd out the nasties.  Prefer to make a healthy, sizzling stir fry?  This article has some yummy recipes for your Meatless Monday Dinners.

Get Better Sleep – Lack of sleep can lead to stress and vice versa.  Take the steps above improve your sleep and help your body and mind deal with stress.  Still tossing and turning?  It happens to the best of us.  Here’s my favorite organic, Non-GMO natural supplement for sweet dreams (really, if you haven’t had deep restorative sleep in a while, try this.  It changed my life)

Get Moving – Regular exercise helps to boost serotonin levels; this helps you feel better and enhances your mood allowing you to handle stress more easily.  Challenge yourself to reach 10,000 step per day (use a free step counter app), schedule a weekend hike or family bowling night.  Zumba anyone (do people still do that?)?  Include a friend and have fun with it!  Getting support and bonding with your buddies works wonders for stress.  Sometimes you’ve just gotta let it out.  Plus it’s cheaper than therapy.

These are a few of the ways that you can alleviate stress in your life.

Need a little more support?  My friends at Better Help have a ton of online resources as well as licensed therapists online and ready to listen.

Which of these strategies will you include in your healthy lifestyle this week?

References:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

http://www.nature.com/nm/press_release/nm0714.html

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/expert-answers/stress/faq-20058233

http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress

https://happyhappyvegan.com/veganism-help-with-stress/

 

 

Antioxidant Foods vs. Supplements

Antioxidants are just that: they fight (anti) oxidation.  The chemical process of oxidation is like rusting metal. A molecule loses electrons and creates the infamous free radicals.  Oxidation is also the reason why apples, bananas, and avocados go brown when the skin is broken, and they’re exposed to air – they’re getting oxidized.

Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (to name a few). So, the antidote to oxidation is the antioxidant. Vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E are examples of antioxidants. So are other compounds in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds sacrifice their electrons to stop the oxidation process; this is why squirting some lemon juice on your sliced apples, bananas and avocados slows down the browning process.

But don’t think that all oxidation in the body is bad. It’s not. Your body naturally oxidizes compounds all the time when it’s doing healthy things like metabolizing nutrients or exercising.

As with many things in life and health, the key is maintaining a good balance. In this case, as the balance between oxidation and antioxidation.  We can throw off that balance with exposure to too much alcohol, smoking, or environmental pollutants. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create too much oxidation.

The best sources of antioxidants to combat this effect are nutritious whole foods, like colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. In fact, the more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has.  Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.

Antioxidants in food

Let me list out a bunch of antioxidants and the foods they’re found in:

  • Vitamin A – Found in liver, dark leafy greens (e.g., kale), orange fruits and veggies (e.g., mangoes, carrots & squashes)
  • Vitamin C – Found in bell peppers, citrus, berries, and leafy greens
  • Vitamin E – Found in leafy greens, nuts (e.g., walnuts), and seeds (e.g., sunflowers)
  • Carotenoids (e.g., beta-carotene, lycopene, etc.) – Found in tomatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and salmon
  • Phenols – Found in green tea, black tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine, and berries

Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical (i.e., plant chemical) compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound).

The antioxidant capacity can be measured in a laboratory; this is called the “oxygen radical absorption capacity,” or “ORAC.” And blueberries have one of the highest ORAC levels.

FUN FACT: Some studies estimate that the highest source of antioxidants in the average American is not from berries, it’s from coffee! Can you imagine how much healthier people can be if they added a few more servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to their days?

Antioxidant Foods vs. Supplements

While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as many hoped. Compared with eating a nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich colorful array of plants, antioxidants supplements have fallen short.

Many studies of antioxidant supplements haven’t shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. And these are diseases that are known to be reduced in people who eat a lot of foods that are naturally full of antioxidants.

In fact, too much of any individual antioxidant, like when overdoing supplements, can be harmful. Too much vitamin A is linked to increased risk of hip fractures and prostate cancer. Too much beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Too much vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer, lung infections, heart failure, and even death.

One of the reasons why we think that antioxidant foods work oh-so-much better than antioxidant supplements is because of synergy.   The concept of synergy means that by taking one component out of healthful food (i.e., the antioxidant), it loses the effect it has when combined with all the other healthy components it came with from nature. This is the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C supplement. The orange is going to have more than just vitamin C, and many of those compounds will work together for overall health better than just isolating one and having higher-than-normal doses of it.

Conclusion

There are antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. They’re highest in colorful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.

You can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements. You can however, keep a superfood product like Purium’s Bio Fruit for when you don’t have the fresh stuff around.  It’s made from gently dehydrated non-GMO organic fruits (nothing else added) to give the antioxidant boost you need when you’re pressed for time.  Another one of my favorite drinks is a glass of Apothe-Cherry (made from 100% Dark Tart Cherries – super antioxidant rich) before bedtime as tart cherries contain melatonin.  So stick with the fresh foods when you can, go for the convenient option when you need to.  Tell me, which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favorites? Let me know in the comments below!

Recipe (Antioxidant-rich): Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2

  • 1 handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 – 1 banana, fresh or frozen
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
  • 1 dash cinnamon

Directions:  Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.  Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use any greens you have on hand in place of the spinach, if you wish.

 

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/antioxidants

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/soreness-and-blueberries

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/supplements-a-scorecard

https://examine.com/nutrition/4-science-based-superfoods-you-should-be-eating/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/family-health-guide/swan-song-for-antioxidant-supplements-the

Prebiotics 101

“Pre”biotics?  Yes! They’re the food that we feed our probiotics, the friendly gut microbes that are oh so important for good health.  Our gut microbes are alive, and they need to eat too. Their favorite foods are called “prebiotics” and include dietary fiber and resistant starch. The same fiber that keeps us feeling full slows down digestion and provides roughage that keeps us regular. Resistant starch helps promote healthy blood lipids. Both of types of prebiotics (fiber and resistant starch) are linked with many health benefits.

Technically-speaking, a prebiotic has three qualities:

  • It needs to be undigested and reach the colon intact;
  • It needs to be digested by our gut microbes; and,
  • It needs to stimulate our health-promoting good gut microbes.

Now that we know what prebiotics are let’s dive into their health benefits.

Health benefits of prebiotics

Prebiotic fiber helps keep us regular by bulking up our poop. It gives it substance and form, so it’s not too runny or liquid. In fact, more fiber is often recommended to help with symptoms of diarrhea. Prebiotic fiber used to be thought of like a broom that sweeps food through our guts, but we’re learning more about its health benefits beyond this role.

For example, prebiotics can also help to maintain normal bowel structure and function, and even enhance blood flow to the cells of the colon.  Those are some of the health benefits of prebiotics themselves. But we get even more health benefits when our friendly gut microbes eat and digest them.

For one thing, our gut microbes use prebiotics to make short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs (e.g., butyrate) can feed the cells of our colon to keep them healthy. SCFAs also inhibit the growth of bad gut microbes, and can even increase mineral (e.g., calcium and magnesium) absorption. These effects are all linked to the slight acidity caused by the acids in those SCFAs.

Dietary fiber also binds to healthful phytonutrients (phyto = plant). These phytonutrients are lost when the fiber is removed from the food. But, when we eat the prebiotic fiber, our gut microbes release these phytonutrients so we can absorb and use them.

Where to get prebiotics

Dietary fiber and resistant starch are the main sources of prebiotics.  Prebiotic fiber is found mostly in plants; both fruits and vegetables.

Resistant starch is any starch (a type of carbohydrate) that goes through most of our digestive tract without being digested. It’s not broken down by our digestive enzymes because it’s “resistant”… until it gets to our gut microbes in the colon. Resistant starch is found in starchy foods like whole grains and root vegetables.

One of the big differences between fiber and resistant starch is that all of the fiber we eat is indigestible. All of it reaches our colons. Resistant starch, on the other hand, is just a small percent of the starch we eat. Most starch is digested and absorbed along our digestive tract, and that part is not considered to be prebiotic. Only the small amount of starch that is resistant to digestion and makes it down to the colon to feed our probiotics is prebiotic.

Prebiotic fiber is found in fibrous fruits and vegetables. It’s essentially what’s removed when we make juice – the pulp. It’s one of the reasons why eating whole fruits and vegetables is more healthful than replacing them with juice.

Here are some great sources of dietary fiber:

  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Pears

Resistant starch is found in:

  • Whole grains (e.g. oats)
  • Potatoes
  • Cornmeal
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Green bananas

Starches can be made resistant by cooking and cooling these foods before eating them. The cooling process allows the starches to re-shape themselves into a structure that is harder to digest (i.e., more resistant).

Conclusion

Prebiotics are fibre and resistant starches that feed our gut microbes. And when we feed our gut microbes, they help keep our gut healthy and have other health benefits too.

Do you ever juice your amazingly healthy fruits and vegetables and have a ton of leftover pulp? What do you do with it? I have a great recipe for using that oh so healthy prebiotic fibre in a delicious way.

Recipe (Juice pulp): Brownies

Serves 12

  • ¾ cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (prebiotic)
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour (prebiotic)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups juice pulp, firmly packed (prebiotic)
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup maple syrup

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8”x8” baking tray with parchment paper.  Add cocoa powder, coconut flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to a large bowl. Stir to combine.  Whisk eggs, pulp, oil and maple syrup.  Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir to combine well. Use a spatula to scrape the batter into the baking dish.  Bake for 30 mins until the top is firm and edges just start to pull away from the dish.  Allow the brownies to cool.  Serve & enjoy!  Tip: I like to blend the wet ingredients in my blender to make cleanup easier.

References:

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/juicing-removes-more-than-just-fiber/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/resistant-starch-colon-cancer/

https://extension.psu.edu/prebiotics-how-to-feed-your-good-bacteria

https://www.monash.edu/medicine/ccs/gastroenterology/prebiotic/faq

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-fibre

Is Network Marketing a Legitimate Business?

I normally bring you posts that cover different areas of wellness with information, tips and recipes to help you along your health journey.  This week, I decided to start adding posts for keeping your business healthy.  Yep!  I’m speaking to my fellow health coaches and online entrepreneurs.  If you don’t fall into this category, you’ll still benefit.  I promise!

Although I’m a health coach and work with clients one on one, I also work with an incredible organic, non-GMO superfoods company.  My sales help my clients reach their health goals, bring in commissions and if someone decides to join my team, they can make a living sharing our product and I grow my income from their work as well.  This type of work is called Network Marketing.  We are sharing our product with our network of family, friends, coworkers etc.  We grow our sales, teams and lives.

A lot of people (myself included) have looked at these “opportunities” as scams.  Most people that do not know anything about how network marketing businesses work, probably consider someone like me as “lost” or someone who will eventually “figure it out” after losing a ton of money (and I have lost a ton of money).  But the reality is, that the right company can help you grow financially (as an entrepreneur) and emotionally.  I’ve learned some of the best life lessons form network marketers.  I spent too much time and money with a company that was not suited to me but am now in the right place, with a product and mission that align with my values and goals.

Starting a business is scary.  It takes grit.  You are forced to believe in yourself and move forward even when things look like they are going to bust.  It also takes time.  A LOT of TIME.  I’ve been a certified coach for 2 years but I’m just barely starting to get paid for the work I love to do.

Health coaches and network marketers in particular must also create several sources of revenue simply to protect ourselves and also to explore areas that may be impactful in ways we never imagined.  It’s not easy but nothing that’s worth it rarely is.  As a health coach, I’m focusing on my paying clients while maintaining my own healthy lifestyle (walk the walk) as well as maintaining a relationship with my social followers (how else will people reach out to me?).  As a network marketer, I’m constantly experimenting with our products (I don’t sell stuff I don’t use), attending trainings and introducing the product line to my audience.  How do I pay for it all?  Well I have a 50+ hr/wk job to make it happen.  The Goal?  Stop working for someone else so I can make a difference doing what I love on my own terms without worrying about my financial health.

Have you been there?  Have your friends and family smirked or shaken their heads when you talk about your online business?  Is it even a “real job”?  It can be tough to answer without feeling attacked and reacting defensively when you’re first getting started.  Believe me, I know.

If you want to read on for some inspiration and the steps you need to follow to move forward and do good in the world by doing what you love, check out this short blog post.  You’ll love it!  I was thrilled to read it.  There’s even a free offer for additional training to help you succeed in your online business.  Enjoy!  if you read it and get any value from it, please reply to this post.  I love hearing from fellow health coaches and network marketers making a difference in their own lives and the lives of the people they work with.  You Rock!

I’m Sick.  What Can I Do (Naturally)?

Getting a common cold doesn’t have to be so… common. There are things you can do naturally to make getting sick less likely.  But, if you do happen to get sick, there are things you can also do to help support your body to fight it off.

Good hand hygiene and overall healthy habits can reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. And good nutrition can help your immune system fight off a cold quicker. Imagine your germ-fighting immune cells all hungry and tired, versus them being nourished and full of energy.  And that’s what this post is all about.

First I’ll give you some tips to reduce your risk of getting sick in the first place. Then, I’ll let you in on some of my strategies to recover from that cold you may still get from time to time.

Natural tips to reduce your risk of sickness

Here are some great ideas to incorporate into your daily life to reduce your risk of getting sick.

1 – Wash your hands. A lot. Your hands can trap and transport all kinds of microbes that cause sickness. And I’m not just talking about colds here, but lots of different germs.  NOTE: Antibacterial soap is not recommended! Not only is it no more effective than regular soap and water, but it can contribute to antibiotic resistance.

2 – Get enough nutrients. I know this is way oversimplified, but I would be remiss to exclude it. Every cell in your body, including your immune cells, need enough of all the essential nutrients. The more nutrition you have, the better and stronger you will be, especially with vitamins A, C, and E. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, and organ meats. Vitamin C-rich foods include bell peppers and citrus. Vitamin E-rich foods include nuts, seeds, and leafy greens.  want to ensure you get your daily dose even if you don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal?  Here you go.

3 – Probiotic foods. Helping our health-promoting gut microbes with more of their probiotic friends is in order here to help keep the immune system strong. Try 1-2 servings/day of fermented foods and drinks like sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kefir, and kombucha.  Can’t stomach these options?  Here’s my favorite way to keep a healthy gut.

4 – Prebiotic foods. Feeding those friendly gut microbes their favorite foods can help them to grow and flourish. They love fibrous foods like onions, asparagus, berries, bananas, sweet potatoes, whole grains, and seeds. Aim for 2-3 servings/day.

5 – Get enough sleep. Did you know that our immune system cycles with our circadian system? When we sleep our immune cells produce antibodies to fight infections. Try to get at least 7 hours every single night, even when you’re feeling great.  Can’t seem to shut that eye?  Alright, here’s a natural way to increase your melatonin for deep restful sleep.

Natural tips to recover from that sickness

When you do get an infection, not only do you need more nutrients to fight it off, but your body also has a harder time absorbing and using the nutrients you take in. Sometimes this is because of reduced hunger, sometimes due to gastrointestinal reasons. Either way, nourishing your body is even more important. When you do get sick, make sure you are implementing tips 1-5 plus the tips below that are crucial for getting over a common cold.

6 – Drink lots of fluids. Being sick can be dehydrating. Fluids like water, chicken soup, and green tea are warm, hydrating comfort drinks. Chicken soup is a source of electrolytes, especially if homemade from a real chicken with lots of vegetables. Green tea has been shown to boost some of our immune cells, and this can help to better fight off the invading germ.

7 – Rest and recover. When your body is fighting an infection, it’s busy working hard for your health. Give it a break and relax while you’re feeling under the weather.

Conclusion

There are lots of things we can do to stay healthy and reduce infections naturally. Washing your hands is a proven way to reduce your risk. And staying healthy in all other ways helps a lot. Getting enough nutrition, eating probiotic and prebiotic foods, and getting enough sleep are key year round.

If you do get sick, keep up all of your good habits above, and make sure to add some warm, healthy fluids, and extra rest.  What do you do when you get sick? Let me know in the comments below.

Today’s recipe is brought to you by Maggie of Smashed Peas & Carrots (click on the picture!):

All Natural Cough Remedy Smoothie

  • 1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (or juice for a less thick smoothie)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 inch peeled piece of ginger
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • Dash of cayenne pepper

Instructions:

  1. Place all ingredients into the base of a blender.
  2. Blend on high until everything has processed.
  3. Pour into glass and enjoy!
  4. Good for 2-3 days in refrigerator.

 

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-to-eat-when-sick

https://www.thepaleomom.com/natural-approaches-to-cold-flu-season/

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/preventing-the-common-cold-with-probiotics/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dExiRwh-DQ

http://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/

http://smashedpeasandcarrots.com/natural-cough-remedy-smoothie/

 

Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.  It’s a fact.  Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).  Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.

But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?  Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favorite of yours?  Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol”  are found in these small and delicious fruits.  In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.  I keep Costco bags of frozen berries on hand.  They’re nice to blend in a smoothie but eating them frozen for a sweet treat is also pretty awesome.  If you want to make sure you always have organic berries on hand for a delicious beverage, you can also try Bio Fruit (use code: CoachMarisol for your discount) for when you don’t have the fresh guys around!

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.  I pack this super-healthy vegetable together with sources of Omega 3s in this week’s recipe (see below).

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.  Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colors.  Peppers that are any other color are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.  The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.  Looking for a delicious chocolatey way to get your fats?  Try this!  (use code Coach Marisol for your discount) It is nutrient dense, packed with protein and loaded with marine omega fatty acids.   Sooo good.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.  EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.  Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.  Matcha is a powder.  You can make it hot or cold.  It’s pretty yummy blended with some almond milk and half of a frozen banana.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric

Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?   Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.  This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.  I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.  Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

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

 

Conclusion

There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.  You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”

 

Recipe (Broccoli, Coconut Milk, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Detox Soup

Ingredients

  • I head of broccoli or one bag of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp oil (coconut, olive, sesame or avocado)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • Lots of garlic – minced (I probably use half a head…)
  • 1 -2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2-3 Ribs Celery, chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • dash black pepper
  • Dried or fresh herbs of your choice (optional)
  • Any other veggies hanging out in the fridge that need to be used asap
  • 1 can coconut milk (organic, full fat)
  • 1 liter stock or bone broth (your choice)

In a stock pot, sautee all veggies, garlic & onion with oil , spices and herbs if using.  After a few minutes, add your stock and simmer until veggies are tender.  Should take 5-10 minutes.  Once they are tender, turn off the stove and add can of coconut milk.  Puree in a blender or with an immersion blender.

Serve & enjoy!  Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or chilies for an extra spicy kick.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/13-anti-inflammatory-foods/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea/

https://authoritynutrition.com/matcha-green-tea/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-cacao

http://leesaklich.com/foods-vs-supps/foods-vs-supplements-the-turmeric-edition/

Vitamin K: The Amazing Nutrient You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Vitamin what? K?  Yup!  Why’d they skip vitamins F, G, H, I & J?  Great question!

That’s because the “K” stands for “koagulation” which is the Danish spelling for “coagulation.” Vitamin K is the vitamin that helps the blood to clot or coagulate. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what this amazing, underappreciated vitamin does for our bodies.

It’s one of the four fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E & K.  Let me tell you about all those functions this little powerhouse does for us. Then I’ll list out some vitamin-K rich foods.  Once you read this post, you can consider yourself officially in the know about this little-known vitamin.

Vitamin K’s amazing functions

As I mentioned earlier, the “K” stands for the vitamin’s ability to help clot our blood. And this is a critical life-saving measure to prevent blood loss from cuts and scrapes.

Vitamin K also works hand-in-hand with calcium in the blood. It helps to shuttle the calcium to our bones and teeth where we need it. This reduces our risk of fractures and cavities. Having too much calcium in our blood can lead to kidney stones and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), so vitamin K helps to reduce our risks of those too.  It also helps with insulin. Not only is vitamin K critical for making insulin, but also to keep your cells sensitive to it. This means that vitamin K can help you better regulate your blood sugar levels.

Vitamin K has a few other functions too. It can help to regulate your sex hormones. In men, it helps to maintain good levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, it helps to reduce certain hormones.  Finally, vitamin K can help protect against cancer by switching off cancer genes.  It’s a pretty amazing and versatile vitamin.

What to eat to get vitamin K

There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2.

The type depends on which foods you eat. Vitamin K1 is found in plants; while vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented plants.

Vitamin K1 supports blood clotting (remember “koagulation?”). Vitamin K1 is found mostly in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, collard greens, parsley, and Swiss chard), as well as asparagus.

Vitamin K2 also supports blood clotting and has additional health benefits.   Bone mineralization and effects on cancer genes and sex hormones are primarily from the K2 version. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolk, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Two of the best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and goose liver.

Since vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to eat it with a bit of fat. This helps to increase absorption from the food into your body.  If you do want to supplement, make sure you follow the label directions. Some of the cautions include the fact that Vitamin K can interact with several types of medications, so make sure it’s right for you before taking it.

Conclusion

Vitamins K1 and K2 are essential fat-soluble vitamins. They help our blood to clot, our bones to get strong, and regulate our sex hormones, just to name a few.

Vitamin K1 is found in green veggies, like cruciferous and leaves. K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.

I hope you now feel like you’re in the know about this amazing (but not-so-well-known) vitamin. Did you learn something new? Did you want to add something I missed?

Let me know in the comments below.

PS:  Need your greens but don’t have time to shop, cook and all the rest?  You can try More Greens with a $50 discount from yours truly!  Just click here to shop and use code: CoachMarisol at checkout.  You’re welcome!

Recipe (Vitamin K1 & K2-rich): Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:
Raw Garlic – 3 cloves, minced (9 grams)
Pink Salt – 1/2 tsp (3 grams)
Raw Parsley – 2 cups (120 grams)
Extra Virgin Olive oil – 1/2 cup (108 grams)
Raw Walnuts Nuts- 1 cup, chopped (117 grams)
Parmesan cheese – 1/2 cup, grated (50 grams)
Directions:
1. Put shelled walnuts, parlsey, cheese, garlic and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse again.  Drizzle in the olive oil while the machine is running just long enough to incorporate the oil, about 20-30 seconds.
2. Use immediatley or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.  Will last several days chilled.
To serve:
Toss with zoodles or your favorite pasta (I like Banza chickpea noodles), use as a dip or as a spread for grilled fish, chicken or veggies.

https://www.eatthismuch.com/recipe/view/walnut-parsley-pesto,57050/

https://chrismasterjohnphd.com/2016/12/09/the-ultimate-vitamin-k2-resource/

https://chriskresser.com/vitamin-k2-the-missing-nutrient/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/wiki/vitamin-k/

How Do I Know if I Have a Leaky Gut?

 

“Leaky gut” is a popular topic in the health and wellness spheres 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 not as simple as a hose or pipe; 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?

FUN FACT: About 70-80% of our immune system is housed around 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. 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.   Unfortunately, becasue we are now bombarded with pesticide infused fruit, veggies, grains and meat alongside genetically modified organisms in our food supply, we may unknowingly be eating foods that we are intolerant to.

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 (microbiome) 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.

What happens in the gut doesn’t just stay in the gut.  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.

Even some neurological symptoms are linked with leaky gut. For example, brain fog, fatigue, headaches, migraines, inability to sleep, and general moodiness can also be related.

Finally, a number of chronic inflammatory diseases are thought to be linked with 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. Include probiotics and at 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.

Need a simple routine to sooth your gut, calm your symptoms and improve digestion?  Check out our Gut Health Pack.  Loaded with organic superfoods for the bio-available nutrients you immediately need, aloe to calm and support your digestion and a revolutionary probiotic blend that helps remove GMOs from your gut!  My readers get a generous $50 discount on their first order so Enter code: CoachMarisol for yours!

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 conditions, 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, probiotic foods, and pure, organic, non GMO superfoods and supplements. It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and amino acids.

Recipe (gut soothing): Slow-Cooked Chicken Broth

Serves 6-8

  • 1 whole chicken, cooked, bones with or without meat
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery, chopped
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Herbs and spices as desired (salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, bay leaf)
  • 2 handfuls spinach

Instructions:

  1. Place chicken bones, and meat if using, into a slow cooker.
  2. Add chopped vegetables, vinegar, and herbs/spices.
  3. Cover with hot water (about 2 litres/8 cups).
  4. Cook 8 h on medium or overnight on low.
  5. Add spinach 30 minutes before serving.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can strain it before serving, or serve it with the cooked vegetables as soup.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-is-leaky-gut-and-how-can-it-cause/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/what-should-you-eat-to-heal-leaky-gut/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-leaky-gut-real#section3

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/leaky-gut-syndrome/

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/837168

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/531603

Protein – How Much is Enough?

Protein is not just for great skin, hair, and nails; it’s critical for health. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to repair damage, digest food, fight infections, build muscle and bone, create hormones, and even think and have good moods. Higher protein diets can help fight high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Not to mention protein’s great benefits for metabolism boosting, satiety (feeling full after a meal), and weight management.

Protein is important, and this is a given.  There are a few factors to consider when calculating how much protein we need. I go through those calculations with you and also list the amount of protein in some common foods.

How much protein is enough?

There isn’t a real rule that applies equally to everyone. There are a few factors to consider when figuring out how much protein you need.

Start with the minimum recommendation of 0.36 grams per pound per day.  So, for a 150 lb healthy non-athlete adult, this is about 55 g protein/day.  Mind you, this is a minimum to prevent protein deficiency. It’s not optimal for good repair, digestion, immune function, muscle/bone building, hormones, thinking and great moods. It’s not enough for athletes, seniors or those recovering from an injury, either. If you fall into one of these camps, you may need to increase the minimum protein intake. Aim closer to 0.6 g/lb per day.

Athletes need more protein for their energy and muscle mass. Seniors need more to help ward off muscle and bone loss that’s common in old age. And injured people need more for recovery and healing.

How much protein is too much?

As with fat and carbohydrates, eating too much protein can cause weight gain. Extra protein can be converted into sugar or fat in the body. The interesting thing about protein is that it isn’t as easily or quickly converted as carbohydrates or fat; this is because of its “thermic effect.” The thermic effect is the amount of energy required to digest, absorb, transport and store a nutrient. To digest protein, your body needs to spend energy (i.e., burn calories).  More calories than when metabolizing fats or carbohydrates.

 If you’re concerned that high protein intake harms healthy kidneys, don’t be. If your kidneys are healthy, they are more than capable of filtering out excess amino acids from the blood. The problem only occurs in people who already have kidney issues.

FUN FACT: Plant proteins are especially safe for kidney health.  If you prefer plant protein, please note that you will have to add supplements your diet for maximum bio-availability, proper levels of iron & amino acids.  Interested in a vegan option that allows you to ditch the multivitamins and offers your daily requirement of  macronutrients along with organic superfoods that support health cholesterol, blood glucose levels and digestion?

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How much protein is in food?

  • A 3.5 oz chicken breast has 31 g
  • A 3.5 oz can of salmon has 20 g
  • ½ cup cooked beans contain 6-9 g
  • A large egg contains 6 g
  • ¼ cup nuts contains 4-7 g
  • 1 medium baked potato contains 3 g
  • 1oz Chia Seeds contains 4-6 g
  • 1 cup Quinoa contains 8 g

Conclusion

Protein is an essential nutrient we should all get enough of. “Enough” is about 0.36 – 0.6 g/lb per day. If you’re a healthy non-athlete adult, you can aim for the lower level. If you’re an athlete, senior, or injured person, aim for the higher level.  Too much protein can cause weight gain, so it’s best to have just enough.

I’d love to know: Are you one of those people who needs more protein? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe with Meat AND Plant Protein:

Slow Cooker Pulled Chicken with 5 Ingredient Peanut Sauce

Click the photo for Robyn’s Super easy crock pot recipe – it’s genius!

Want more easy high protein, low carb  dinner ideas?  Check this out:

https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/recipes/7-low-carb-high-protein-dinner-can-try-home/

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-protein

http://www.health.harvard.edu/healthy-eating/do-you-eat-enough-protein

https://authoritynutrition.com/how-much-protein-per-day/