Common Is Not A Bad Word

I have a great spaghetti sauce recipe that I got from my mom many years ago.

I make it A LOT! It’s a family favourite.

In fact, it may just have been the first meal that I cooked when I got married.

Fast track a few years from that first meal and I became a nutritionist. And with that I thought, it became incumbent upon me to nutricize everything that we ate.  A pinch of chia.  A dash of hemp.

Well the team started to revolt.  Old favs, like gran’s spaghetti sauce, fell from grace.

And here is the thing.  The spaghetti sauce is a simple recipe made up of healthy ingredients.

I learned my lesson quick and hard. Don’t try and fix it if it’s not broken.

One of the seasonings that I use in my spaghetti sauce recipe is Black Pepper, a very common seasoning that I think is under appreciated and quite honestly not given the respect that it deserves.

Heap On Those Seasonings!

Herbs and spices play a big role in the kitchen and flavouring food is only of their amazing skills.

Have a look:

  • The strong aromatic flavour of herbs and spices stimulates the palette and the digestive juices
  • Each culinary herb plays some role in the GI tract
  • Every herb and spice have health promoting phytonutrients

And there is a growing body of evidence to support the notion that culinary herbs and spices have multiple anticancer characteristics including antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-tumorigenic properties.

Health Benefits Of Black Pepper

So back to that common old everyday spice Black Pepper.  Black Pepper is harvested from a flowering vine and cultivated for its fruit, the peppercorn.  Usually the peppercorn is dried and used as a seasoning.

Along with its often-partnered pal salt,  Black Pepper is used in many, many recipes that we google.

And it truly does bring a lot to the party.

Here are some of the amazing health benefits that Black Pepper has to offer:

√It stimulates the taste buds which signals the stomach to secret Hydrochloric Acid (HCL)

√It helps prevent the formation of gas

√It promotes sweating and urination 

√It is an antioxidant and  an antibacterial

√It is an anti-inflammatory

And perhaps its greatest benefit is that it aids in the absorption of other nutrients. 

Black Pepper has been shown to enhance the absorption of calcium and selenium as well as beneficial plant compounds such as those found in green tea and turmeric

Black Pepper deserves its spot on the top shelf of our spice rack and is a great example that sometimes, often times, common is just fine!


References

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27529277/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29497610/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/black-pepper-benefits#710.-Other-benefits

 

 

Why You Need to Include Bee Products in Your Anti-Cancer Diet

Honeybees do and make amazing things!  We are all familiar with honey but in addition to this sweet nectar of the bees, they also produce other health promoting goodness that are great to include in your anti-cancer diet.

Let’s take a look!

Bee Propolis

Bee Propolis is made by honeybees through a fascinating process of mixing saliva and beeswax. These ingenious little buzzers use propolis to seal and protect their hives. Bee propolis is high in antioxidants containing various flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids and a variety of vitamins.

Health benefits you ask?

Here are just a few.

Bee Propolis:

🐝 Aids in digestion

🐝 Improves immunity

🐝 Is anti-viral

🐝 Is anti-bacterial

🐝 Can be effective in relieving mucositis brought on by chemotherapy

Bee propolis is sold as a tincture, spray, paste or capsules so you would buy it in the form appropriate for what you want to use it for.

Chrysin is a polyphenol found in bee propolis (and honey as well).

Like many other flavonoids, chrysin has free-radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer activities (Mani 2018). Although few human studies have been conducted with chrysin, animal studies and in vitro studies suggest that it may protect against DNA damage (George 2017) and modulate several cell-signaling pathways involved in cancer progression, including those affecting inflammation, cell survival, cell growth, new blood vessel growth, and metastasis (Kasala 2015).

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees as they go flower to flower.

It is a mixture of pollen, saliva, and nectar or honey.

Bee pollen:

🐝 Is a complete protein

🐝 Is full of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and lipids

🐝 Increases energy

🐝 May help to lower blood pressure

Bee pollen is available in most health food stores.  They are tiny little gold nuggets and can easily be added to smoothies, mixed in with salads and sprinkled on top of yogurt.

Royal Jelly

Royal Jelly is a gelatinous substance produced by honeybees to feed the queen bees and larvae.

Royal Jelly:

🐝 Is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants

🐝 May help to regulate blood sugar

🐝 Is anti-bacterial and anti-viral

🐝 May help to support a healthy immune system

It is most commonly sold in its jelly form or in capsules.

Honey

Honey is the most well known of the bee creations. It has a wonderful flavour and is a much healthier sweetener than regular sugar.

Honey:

🐝 Is a prebiotic food. It has oligosaccharides that can promote the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria

🐝 Possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and antioxidant properties

🐝 Is the oldest wound-healing agent known to mankind

Carbohydrates dominate the composition of honey taking up approximately 95–97% of its dry weight. Honey also includes proteins, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids.

Evidence has shown the presence of nearly thirty types of polyphenols in honey. Polyphenol levels in honey vary depending upon the floral source, the climatic and geographical conditions.

Sore Throat Remedy

Got a sore throat?  Try this!

Mix together:

  • 1 cup warm (not boiling) water
  • 1 tsp honey
  • ½ lemon, juice

Drink up to soothe your sore throat.


References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29161583/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5549483/

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/article/propolis-contains-compound-which-inhibits-triple-negative-breast-cancer-animal

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3985046/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31438508/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2221169115303233

https://mmed.mosuljournals.com/article_159191_aa1b9268093c56c786ff149a3fd30d26.pdf

https://academic.oup.com/fqs/article/1/2/107/3860141

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5424551/

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

Supporting your immune system can help you to fight off cancer, deal with the side effects of treatment and lower the risk of recurrence. 

But to do so effectively requires a comprehensive strategy that will provide your immune system with what it needs to function at its best.

Poor diet, stress, lack of sleep and too little exercise can negatively impact your immune system and impede its ability to defend against illness.

 

5 Key Strategies To Strengthen Your Immune System

 

  1. Eat a balanced diet to support the health of the immune system and the gut and to help lower inflammation

Add more nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. Variety is the key as well as healthy proteins that provide amino acids, the building blocks of the immune system. Complex carbs like grains and legumes provide substantial energy that the body needs to function properly. Vitamins and minerals are catalysts for all body functions, especially the immune system.

      2. Take supplements that help the immune system fight pathogens

Supplements that support the immune system help to fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses. They do not harm good bacteria. Examples of immune-support supplements include elderberry, echinacea, astragalus, plant sterols, garlic and algae such as chlorella or spirulina.

As our gut houses a large part of our immunity, it is very important that we make sure we give it some love as well. Probiotics, glutamine products or formulas, plant sterols, antimicrobials such as oil of oregano, aloe vera or grapefruit seed extract, essential oils* such as clove, cinnamon, thyme or lavender all support gut health and can support our immune system.

*Note: If ingesting essential oils, make sure they are food grade and mix with a carrier oil such as coconut oil.

  1. Exercise. It improves circulation and allows cells and the immune system to function better

So get up and get moving.  Go for a walk.  Do some stretching.  Shimmy on the dance floor.  Do whatever you enjoy to get your muscles flexing and your heart pumping.

  1. Implement stress management techniques

Some stress can be helpful for the immune system. Too much stress can use up valuable nutrients that are needed to help the immune system function. So find ways to relax and calm the adrenal glands down and lower the stress hormone cortisol.

  1. Make sleep a priority

The immune system needs the time you sleep to repair and regenerate itself.

Here are some tips for you to help you improve your sleep:

  • Deal with your stress – it can keep you awake at night.
  • Go to bed at the same time every night and get at least 7–8 hours of sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, dark room and no sound distraction. Our immune system loves the chill!
  • Avoid caffeine or eating a large meal close to bedtime.
  • Disconnect from electronics like computers, cell phones and even TV at least an hour before bedtime.

 

So with these strategies forming your template, design your plan and work each and every day to strengthen your immune system.

 

 

fasting insulin levels

Why Is It Important to Know Your Fasting Insulin Level?

Insulin is a hormone.  It is made and secreted by the pancreas.

Functions of Insulin

The functions of insulin include:

  • Regulation of fats, proteins and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Helping cells to absorb glucose from the bloodstream
  • Helping to regulate levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Insulin helps to remove the glucose from the blood and put it into fat and tissue cells where it can be stored for energy.

The production of insulin is stimulated by eating. When all is running tickety-boo, insulin rises when we consume food, does its job and then goes back to its resting levels.  Our bodies always need some circulating insulin, even when we are not eating.

When food has not been consumed for a period of time, usually between 12-20 hours, this level of insulin is called the fasting insulin level.

If our bodies stop responding well to insulin, in many cases due to poor diet and lifestyle choices, this can lead to a condition called insulin resistance.  In the earlier stages of insulin resistance, the pancreas will notch up its production of insulin to keep glucose levels normal.  So if your fasting glucose levels are tested within this paradigm, all may look well.  However you may not be getting an accurate picture of what is truly going on.  Because while your blood sugar level may be within normal range, it could be due to your body compensating for blood sugar issues by elevating your insulin levels.

Insulin resistance in its early stages does not often present with symptoms. Symptoms begin to appear once insulin resistance leads to secondary effects such as higher blood sugar levels. When this happens, the symptoms may include:

  • Lethargy
  • Hunger
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Weight gain around the middle (belly fat)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol levels

Many diseases are linked to elevated fasting insulin levels including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • Type II diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Migraine headaches
  • Increased risk of heart attack and stroke

A simple blood draw, testing for your fasting insulin level, could be a very important indicator of your health.

Ways to decrease insulin resistance

There are diet and lifestyle changes that can go a long way to decreasing insulin resistance:

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates. Eat a balanced whole foods diet with a focus on plant-based eating
  • Get regular exercisefasting insulin levels
  • Get consistent good quality sleep
  • Increase intake of daily fibre aiming for 30-40 grams per day

 

 

 

 


References

https://www.diabetes.co.uk/insulin-resistance.html

https://www.walkinlab.com/labcorp-insulin-fasting-blood-test.html

https://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2019/5/Overlooked-Danger-of-Excess-Insulin/Page-01

 

 

Yes Eat Eggs

Yes Eat Eggs!

Eggs are pretty much the perfect food.

A large egg has approximately 71 calories, 5 grams of fat, less than 1 gram of carbohydrates and approximately 10 grams of high-quality protein.

They contain many nutrients that you need in your diet including vitamins A, several B’s, D, E & K.  They also have phosphorus, selenium, calcium, zinc and choline.

Cracking an egg opens up 2 very distinct inner parts, the egg white, called albumin and the yellow egg yolk.

The egg white acts as a protective cover for the yolk and makes up the majority of the egg’s total weight. The yolk makes up about 30% of the egg’s total weight, contains about 80% of the egg’s total calories and contains almost all of the fats in the egg. The yolk is the main source of nutrition for the developing embryo.

Egg Whites

Egg whites are:

  • low in calories
  • low in fat
  • richer in protein than egg yolks

Egg yolks

Egg yolks contain more vitamins than egg whites.   As well, vitamin A, D, E and K are found only in egg yolks and not in egg whites.

Of note, 90 percent of an egg’s calcium and 93 percent of its iron content is in the yolk.

Here are a few other interesting facts about eggs

Brown vs. White Shells

An egg’s shell colour has nothing to do with its nutritional value.  It is due to the breed of the hen that laid it. Hens with white feathers tend to lay white eggs and hens with red feathers tend to lay brown eggs.

What the Yolk Colour Means

Diet determines the colour of the egg yolk.  If the yolk is a dark yellow colour the hen was probably fed green vegetables. A medium-yellow yolk is likely a diet of corn and alfalfa.  A light-yellow yolk could be the result of eating wheat and barley.

Why shells stick more with fresh hard-boiled eggs than with older ones

If you use fresh eggs to make hard-boiled eggs, they are harder to peel than older eggs.  In fresh eggs, the egg white tends to stick to the inner shell membrane due to the less acidic environment of the egg than in an older egg.

As an egg ages, the egg shell becomes porous, absorbs more air, and releases some of its carbon dioxide. This makes the albumen more acidic, causing it to stick less to the inner membrane. The egg white also shrinks a bit, so the air space between the eggshell and the membrane grows larger, resulting in boiled eggs that are easier to peel.

For ideal peeling, use eggs that are 7 to 10 days old.

Hard-boiled eggs are a great way to eat eggs.  You can make them in bulk and they are handy-dandy portable.

How to Make the Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg

  1. Add eggs to your pot and cover with water
  2. Bring to a boil
  3. Once the water is boiling, remove from heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes
  4. Drain and cover with cold water until eggs are cooled off

 

References:

https://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/10-amazing-facts-about-eggs-you-need-know.html

http://www.differencebetween.info/difference-between-egg-white-and-yolk

https://www.livestrong.com/article/526471-what-are-the-benefits-of-egg-yolks/

https://www.popsugar.com/food/Why-Fresh-Eggs-Difficult-Peel-When-Hard-Boiled-7429332