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10 Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance

10 Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance

Hormones are like chemical messengers, and govern nearly every cellular action in our body.

While very important, our sex hormones like oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone, are actually not essential for our survival.

They’re responsible for sexual functioning and fertility, as well as in more of a “beauty” capacity – keeping our skin, hair & nails vital and youthful looking.

On the other hand, stress hormones (like cortisol & epinephrine, also known as adrenaline) are critical to our survival because they synthesise proteins, maintain cellular electrolyte balance, regulate heartbeat and blood pressure, and transport glucose into our cells – essentially feeding our brain.

These hormones are so crucial, that in times of chronic stress, cortisol (the “hormone of stress”) will be made at the expense of sex hormones. No wonder we can start feeling whacked out at certain stages of life!

SO WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HORMONES STOP PLAYING WELL TOGETHER?

We can often experience a ripple effect, LIKE MOOD SWINGS, even when there’s a slight hiccup in hormone function.

Also, due to the fact that the interconnected nature of your endocrine system, one hormonal imbalance can lead to an additional one, causing multiple symptoms and overlapping health issues.

The 10 signs you may have a hormone imbalance

  1. Poor sleep – not being able to fall asleep or stay asleep
  2. Fatigue that’s not alleviated by sleep
  3. Night sweats and hot flashes
  4. Resistant excess weight and body fat, especially around the belly
  5. Low libido or sexual dysfunction
  6. Acne or other skin issues
  7. PMS symptoms
  8. Foggy thinking (brain fog!) and difficulty concentrating
  9. Mental health issues – depression and anxiety in particular
  10. Mood changes like irritability and anger

THE MAIN CAUSES OF HORMONAL IMBALANCES

While there are many causes, here are the most common ones that have been identified:

  • Age and stage of life
  • Chronic stress
  • Medications (e.g. the Pill)
  • Toxins and endocrine disruptors like xenoestrogens
  • Poor nutrition and lack of adequate key nutrients
  • Blood sugar regulation problems
  • Disrupted circadian rhythm
  • Chronic inflammation (e.g. leaky gut & digestive system inflammation)

SIMPLE WAYS TO SUPPORT AND REBALANCE YOUR HORMONES NATURALLY

Eat whole foods: processed, packaged foods offering little to no nutritive value will also offer little to no fuel for your hormones.

Be sure to eat fresh over packaged foods, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and quality sources of free range and grass fed meats and eggs. Also, if tolerated – nuts, seeds, and legumes in moderation.

Grains and dairy may cause or exacerbate hormonal problems for some people.

Eat more good fats: Good fats are essential for hormonal health because sex hormones need fat as a building block – and your body can only use the ones you give it.

Opt for sources of good fats from whole foods, such as avocados, raw nuts & seeds, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, real butter or ghee (grass fed preferable), wild-caught salmon, and free range eggs – yes, you can eat the yolks!

Exercise daily: Working out on a regular basis, engaging in resistance (or strength) training, and incorporating a specific workout called HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been proven to be especially beneficial for keeping our bodies AND our hormones fit.

Better sleep: getting deeper, more restorative sleep can be the key to supporting your hormones, above all other measures (but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other ones!)

Stress management & self-care: the truth is – stress can be devastating for hormonal health.

We need to equip ourselves to manage the stress and “business” of everyday life through the actions that bring back balance and wellbeing to our bodies AND our minds – like good nutrition, exercise and sleep!

Learn better coping mechanisms (like breathing techniques), practice mindfulness and be sure to engage in daily self-care.

References:

https://draxe.com/benefits-high-intensity-interval-training/
https://www.womenshealthnetwork.com/hormonalimbalance/what-is-hormonal-imbalance.aspx

Hormone-friendly Cho-Coco Fat Bombs Recipes

Ingredients:

½ cup almond or other nut butter, no sugar-added (if nut-sensitive, use sesame tahini or pumpkin seed butter)
½ cup virgin coconut oil
3tbsp raw cacao powder
stevia, xylitol or monk fruit to sweeten to taste
silicone candy mould or mini-muffin pan

Optional add-ins:

  • splash of real vanilla extract or vanilla powder
  • cinnamon or ginger
  • pinch of Himalayan pink salt or Celtic grey salt

Instructions:

  1. In a large pan melt the coconut oil and nut butter over low heat.
  2. Stir in cacao powder and desired sweetener.
  3. Remove from heat and add vanilla (+ other add-ins), if using.
  4. You may want to pour mixture into a “spouted” cup to make pouring easier.
  5. Pour mixture into silicone candy molds or mini-muffin pan (about 1 Tb of mixture)
  6. Put in freezer or fridge until set.
  7. Remove from molds and store in the fridge in an airtight container.

Be mindful that each fat bomb is considered a full serving of fat – great for curbing the appetite, satisfying a sweet tooth and supporting your hormones with the building blocks they need!

Magnesium – The Key Nutrient for Fatigue

Magnesium is one of those nutrients we don’t hear about too much, despite the fact that it’s one of the most abundant minerals in our bodies. Moreover, it’s the fourth most abundant mineral that we have! Magnesium – the key nutrient for fatigue helps you to have more energy, better sleep and less muscle cramps amongst many other health functions!

So what role does magnesium – the key nutrient for fatigue play?

Do we really need to be consuming magnesium or taking supplements?

Magnesium has many positive health effects including:

  • Supporting the adrenal glands in producing energy hormones.
  • Relaxing the bowel muscles and helps to ease constipation.
  • Helping to stop chocolate cravings.
  • Lowering our stress levels. In fact, magnesium is often referred to as the “relaxation mineral.” Serotonin, which is a natural mood stabiliser found mostly in our digestive system, requires magnesium for its production. Therefore, it is recommended that we take magnesium to help manage our stress, anxiety, and mood disorders. In turn, a magnesium deficiency can affect our stress level and emotional state.
  • Also magnesium helps you to sleep by relaxing your muscles and helping to produce melatonin.
  • Magnesium is used in hospitals and given to patients intravenously who are having heart palpitations – the magnesium helps slow down their heart rate.
  • Numerous chemical reactions in our body, including making DNA.
  • Helps maintain our brain function by relaying signals between our body and our brain. It prevents overstimulation of nerve cells, which could result in brain damage.
  • Regulate muscle contractions – it works opposite to calcium to help our muscles relax. Magnesium is commonly recommended for treating muscle cramps and also PMS.
  • Magnesium has also been linked to helping reduce the risk of many diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes. Several studies have shown that migraine headaches are associated with low levels of magnesium.

Despite magnesium being so abundant in our body, many people don’t get enough of it.

Some studies say that up to 68% of adults don’t get enough magnesium in accordance with the recommended daily intake (RDI).

So how much magnesium should we be consuming on a daily basis to keep our body functioning as it should?

Adult men should consume 420 mg/day, while adult women should consume 320 mg/day.

There could be consequences from consuming too much magnesium or not enough magnesium:

  • Too much magnesium can cause various symptoms, including diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and irregular heartbeat. Therefore, you might not want to take a supplement that contains magnesium if you are already getting enough magnesium through your food and other sources.
  • A magnesium deficiency (called hypomagnesemia) could lead to various health conditions, including muscle twitches and cramps, osteoporosis, fatigue, high blood pressure, asthma, heart disease, and diabetes.

Now that we know the importance of magnesium, where do we find magnesium?

Good news! There are plenty of magnesium-rich natural food sources.

  • Pumpkin seeds (check out the recipe below for making Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter)
  • Raw almonds and cashews (raw nuts are better than roasted nuts – roasted nuts lose magnesium during the roasting process)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Black beans, peas, and soybeans
  • Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale)
  • Whole grains (oat bran)
  • Herbs (coriander, chives, dill, sage)

Magnesium can also be absorbed through the skin, so consider using a magnesium oil or lotion that contains magnesium.

But, clearly the easiest (and yummiest) way of getting in your daily magnesium – the key nutrient for fatigue, is to include plenty of food sources high in this multi-tasking mineral, such as creamy pumpkin seed butters!

RECIPE:

Creamy Pumpkin Seed Butter

Ingredients:

2 cups raw pumpkin seeds

1-2 tsp olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the pumpkin seeds on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly golden.
  4. Cool for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Put the pumpkin seeds in a food processor.
  6. Run the food processor for approximately 4-5 minutes, until the pumpkin seeds begin to have the texture of butter. If necessary, stop the food processor and scrape the sides.
  7. Continue running the food processor for another 2-5 minutes until the pumpkin seeds have the texture of butter. Next add some of the oil, as needed, until the desired consistency is obtained.
  8. Finally pour spoon the pumpkin seed butter into a glass jar and store in a cool, dry place.

REFERENCES:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-does-magnesium-do

http://www.magnesium.ca/

Sweet Potato and Lentil Curry

Whenever I post a photo of this recipe that I had for dinner, people in my Fight Fatigue with Nutrition facebook group ask for the recipe! So I’ve written up the recipe for you! Here it is!

It’s nice to have warm, comforting meals in the cold winter evenings. This tasty sweet potato and lentil curry recipe is my favourite dinner to have at the weekend. Check out my similar butternut squash & lentil curry recipe here.

The brown rice is lower in sugar than white rice and as it is wholegrain it contains more B vitamins and magnesium.

Serves 2

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 35 minutes

Ingredients

1tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Red Onion

1inch Root Ginger

¼ tsp Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt

¼ tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tbsp Ground Cumin

1/4 tsp Ground Coriander

1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric

300ml Passata

1/4 block Coconut Cream

125g  Red Lentils

1 Medium Sweet Potato

I large leaf Cavolo Nero

600ml Filtered Water

150g (75g/serving) Brown Rice

Instructions

Firstly melt the coconut oil in a large frying pan.

Now add the chopped onion, chopped ginger, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric and stir. Fry for 5 minutes or until the onions start to look clear.

Now cut off a quarter of the coconut cream block and place in the pan

Next add in the passata and water. Pour in the red lentils. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring regularly. If it starts to dry up, add in extra water.

While the curry is cooking, soak the brown rice for 5 minutes. Then rinse and pour it into a pan of filtered water at the ratio 1:2 brown rice:water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 minutes on a low heat.

Finally cut up 2 inch by 1 cm pieces of the cavolo nero and add to the curry in the last 10 minutes.

Scoop half of the sweet potato and lentil curry onto a plate and serve with the brown rice. Enjoy!

Store leftover curry in the fridge for 24 hours. Freezable.

What Is SIBO and How Do I Know If I Have It?

There may be something lurking within the gut, when and where it is least expected.

We’re probably already in tune with keeping the large intestine healthy, balanced and well-populated with good bacteria (got probiotics?).

But, what about the health of the small intestine that is located before it in the digestive tract?

The truth is, this is where the serious business of nutrient absorption happens before the waste products are sent through to the large intestine or bowel to be expelled.

As you can imagine, there’s quite a slippery slope that ensues when the flora in this critical stretch of digestive highway goes out of balance.

What is SIBO and what are the symptoms?

At its most basic level, SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth is when bacteria or other microorganisms, good or bad, grow out of control in the small intestine – an area that would normally have a low bacterial count, as compared to the large intestine.

Microorganisms setting up shop in this area (colonisation) end up damaging the cells lining the small intestine. This is otherwise known as leaky gut or an increase in intestinal permeability.

This, in turn, impairs the digestive process and overall absorption of nutrients which can exacerbate nutritional deficiencies, allow toxins, infections and undigested protein molecules to enter the bloodstream that then cause widespread inflammation, food sensitivities, autoimmune disorders, and other immune reactions.

The most common symptoms of SIBO are:

  • Malabsorption issues and malnutrition
  • Weight loss (or gain)
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating or distention
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Acid reflux or heartburn (GERD)
  • Excessive gas or burping
  • Constipation and/or diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Skin issues like rashes, acne, eczema and rosacea
  • Aches & pains, especially joint pain

As mentioned, one of the biggest concerns with SIBO is that you’re not absorbing essential nutrients, like protein, carbohydrates and fats properly. This can cause deficiencies of iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

What causes SIBO?

According to experts, the causes are not clearly defined but contributing factors to being diagnosed with SIBO can include:

  • Ageing
  • Metabolic disorders including diabetes
  • Chronic pancreatitis
  • Diverticulosis
  • Food poisoning
  • Injury to the bowel
  • Recent abdominal surgery

Coeliac disease is also associated with an increased risk for developing SIBO, and can be of a particular concern, as it disturbs gut motility leading to poor functioning of the small intestine.

Another common condition associated with SIBO is Irritable Bowel Syndrome. As a matter fact, studies have found that SIBO occurs simultaneously in more than half of all cases of IBS. It has even been reported that successful elimination of bacterial overgrowth in the small intestine resolves symptoms of IBS too.

The use of certain medications, including immunosuppressant medications, and proton pump inhibitors (acid reflux medications) as well as heavy metal toxicity, low stomach acid, inflammatory diets, and yep, you guessed it, stress are all thought to be contributors as well.

How can you test for SIBO?

It is typically diagnosed using a breath test in which the patient drinks a lactulose sugar-containing drink and exhaled gases are measured.

If there are too many bacteria, excess gases (hydrogen, methane or both) will be produced. It should be noted that the reliability of this test is considered less than ideal, but is the only test available at the moment. You can find out more information about the SIBO breath test HERE.

What’s the treatment for SIBO?

Most nutritionists advise to adhere strictly to the “SIBO diet” for at least 4 weeks – which may include any (or all) of the following protocols:

  • Herbal antibiotics, including oregano oil
  • A low FODMAP/SCD, biphasic, GAPS and/or AIP diet; unfortunately, this includes avoiding garlic & onions
  • Supporting the migrating motor complex with foods and prokinetic supplements
  • Stress management; yes, this can help heal your gut!
  • Repopulating the good bacteria using probiotics, and then feed with prebiotics.

To learn more about the options for treating SIBO, contact Nutritionist Kate for a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call.

References

World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth Syndrome”

World Journal of Gastroenterology: “Irritable Bowel Syndrome and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: meaningful association or unnecessary hype?”

Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology: “Gastrointestinal motility disturbances in celiac disease”

SIBO-friendly Beef Bone Broth Recipe – Slow Cooker Version

Ingredients:

* no onions, leeks or garlic

2lbs beef marrow bones, thawed, grass-fed preferably

3 large carrots, unpeeled

1/2 medium celery root (not stalks)

Combination of fresh “antibacterial” herbs: few sprigs of each – rosemary, oregano & thyme

2 bay leaves

1Tbs apple cider vinegar, unpasteurized

¼ – ½ tsp himalayan pink salt

Water to desired dilution

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C
  2. Wash and chop veggies into large pieces – large enough that they won’t turn to mush.
  3. Place your bones onto a baking sheet and place into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Tie your herb sprigs into a bundle with cooking-safe string.
  5. Once your bones have roasted, pull them out of the oven and put them directly into a slow cooker. Add the veggies and the herb bundle into the cooker with the bones.
  6. Fill a 6-quart slow cooker with fresh water up to about ¾ inch under the rim. Add the bay leaves, apple cyder vinegar and salt.
  7. Cook in your pot on low; you should have a gentle, rolling boil after an hour or so.
  8. Remove the herbs after about 4 hours, otherwise your broth may look strange from the colours seeping out!
  9. Remove the veggies once they’re very soft, but not yet mushy.
  10. Let the bones cook for a total of 12-48 hours. Strain the broth, let cool a bit, and store in glass jars for up to ONE WEEK in your fridge. You can also freeze the broth if you don’t use it right away.
  11. The appearance of a gel-like substance (natural gelatin) is normal and desired – enjoy the gut-friendly goodness!

Green Tea Versus Black Tea

Tea is said to be the most popular beverage in the world. It’s been consumed for thousands of years by millions, perhaps billions, of people.

Tea has also been shown to have many health benefits. And some of these benefits are thought to be related to tea’s antioxidant properties. These properties are from its flavonoids known as “catechins.” Flavonoids are anti-inflammatory and have a range of health benefits that I talk about in this post.

Green tea versus black tea – What’s the difference?

What do green and black tea have in common?

First of all, they both come from the camellia sinensis shrub that’s native to China and India. Green tea contains slightly more health-promoting flavonoids than black tea. How is this?

The difference lies in how they’re processed.

If the leaves are steamed or heated, this keeps them green. The heat stops oxidation from turning them black. Then they’re dried to preserve the colour and flavonoids which are the antioxidants.

Hence you have green tea.

If the leaves are not heated, and are crushed and rolled, then they continue to oxidise until they’re dry. This oxidation uses up some of the flavonoids’ antioxidant power, so black teas have slightly less ability to combat free radicals than green tea does.

PRO TIP: Adding milk to your tea reduces the antioxidant ability.

Both green and black teas contain about half of the caffeine in coffee. That translates to about 20-45 mg per 8 oz cup.

Green tea versus black tea – Health Benefits

Tea drinking, in general, seems to be associated with good health.

Heart health – For one thing, both green and black tea drinkers seem to have high levels of antioxidants in their blood compared with non-tea drinkers. They also have lower risks of heart attacks and stroke. Drinking green tea, in particular, is associated with reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL oxidation, all of which are risk factors for heart conditions.

Overall, drinkers of green and black tea seem to have a lower risk of heart problems. Green tea has also been shown to reduce risk factors (i.e., blood lipid levels) a bit more than black tea has.

Cancers – Antioxidants also reduce the risk of many cancers. Studies show that both green and black teas can reduce the risk of prostate cancer (the most common cancer in men). Also, green tea drinkers have a lowered risk of breast and colorectal cancers. Black tea is being researched for its potential to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.

Overall, antioxidant flavonoids in tea seem to help reduce the risk of some different cancers. Green tea may have a slight edge over black tea, but both seem to be associated with lower cancer risk.

Diabetes – Both green and black teas can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also reduce diabetes risk factors, like elevated blood sugar levels and insulin resistance. For example, some studies have shown that both green and black teas can help reduce blood sugar levels. Other studies have shown that green tea can also improve insulin sensitivity.

Once again, green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea, but both are blood sugar friendly (just don’t overdo the sweetener).

Contact Nutritionist Kate by clicking HERE to learn about the health benefits of consuming tea and other foods.

Conclusion

In conclusion, both green and black teas are from the same plant, but are processed differently. Green tea retains more of the beneficial antioxidants than black tea does; but both are associated with better health than non-tea drinkers.

Overall, both green and black teas are healthy drinks, and tea drinkers, in general, seem to have fewer health conditions than non-tea drinkers. Green tea seems to have a slight edge over black tea when it comes to measurable risk factors of some common diseases.

Furthermore, when you enjoy your tea, try to minimise or even eliminate adding milk and/or sweeteners; these reduce some of the health-promoting properties of tea.

I’d love to know: Are you a tea drinker? Which tea is your favourite? How do you like to enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Green tea): Matcha Energy Bites

Serves 6 (makes 12-18 bites)

Ingredients

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
4 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp matcha green tea

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

1 tbsp coconut oil

Instructions

Add all ingredients into food processor and pulse until blended.

Shape into 1-1.5″ balls.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: If you use sweetened coconut, then you can eliminate the honey/maple syrup.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/brewing-evidence-for-teas-heart-benefits
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/what-you-should-know-about-tea
http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea
http://www.healthline.com/health/know-your-teas-black-tea#benefits3
http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/matcha-green-tea
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/caffeine-in-green-tea
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/tea-a-cup-of-good-health
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/tea

Foods for Healthy Skin

Foods for Healthy Skin

There are so many things that can go wrong with the skin: dryness, redness, blemishes, etc.

Healthy skin is a reflection of internal health. There are many creams and cosmetics to put on top of your skin. But, there are also lots of things you can do to nurture and nourish your skin to better health from the inside.

How better to do this than with food?

Your skin needs many nutrients: water, essential fats, vitamins, and amino acids. Here are five foods (and drinks and lifestyle tips) I highly recommend if your goal is healthier-looking skin. As a bonus, I have included a short list of some key foods to consider avoiding.

Let’s dive in.

Skin Food #1 – Water

No doubt hydration is key for healthy-looking skin! Water and other hydrating fluids are great to help your skin stay moist and supple.

And for a bit of an extra anti-inflammatory hydrating boost, try boosting your water with anti-inflammatory green tea (sugar-free if possible).

Skin Food #2 – Oily Fish

Oily fish such as salmon contains many nutrients important for skin health – omega-3s, and vitamins A and D to name a few.

Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory to help cool the flames of inflammation. Vitamin A can help with blemishes and dryness, while vitamin D helps with skin tone.

Skin Food #3 – Bell peppers, citrus, and broccoli

Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in our body. It’s also known to help our skin stay firm and supple.

Vitamin C is necessary for your body to make collagen. So foods rich in vitamin C are great for your skin. Cue: bell peppers, citrus, and broccoli.

FUN FACT: Overcooking vitamin C-rich foods can destroy some of the skin-supporting vitamins. So, try having these lightly steamed or raw for maximum vitamin C levels.

Skin Food #4 – Bone broth

Homemade bone broth contains a lot of the amino acid glycine. Glycine is another essential component of the skin protein collagen.

Glycine helps speed the healing of the skin and the gut. Win-win.

Skin “Food” #5 – Sleep more & stress less

I know these aren’t exactly foods, but they’re an important part of naturally great skin. When we don’t sleep enough, or stress too much our body flips on systems that affect our whole body… including our skin.

Stress hormones can increase inflammation and lead to not-so-healthy looking skin. Prioritize sleep and stress management, and you can see results in your life, and in your skin.

To learn more about foods for healthy skin, contact Kate for a free 15 minute call.

Watch out for these foods

Some foods are allergenic or inflammatory. These can cause all sorts of issues in your body, including affecting your skin.

It’s hard to come up with one list of inflammatory or allergenic foods for everyone. Each person is biochemically unique, so you may have to go through this and see what applies to you. There are a few common allergens that may be a good bet to eliminate from your diet.

The first is processed foods. These are pretty much not-so-good for everyone. And they can affect your health in so many ways, including how your skin looks & feels. Try ditching pre-packaged and fast foods in favour of whole foods as much as possible. Not just for your skin, for your whole body (and mind).

The second is gluten. While only a small number of people have serious reactions to gluten (i.e., coeliac disease), many more people are intolerant to it. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and a few other grains. Many people have had several health concerns, including skin issues, clear up after eliminating gluten from their diets.

Third in line is dairy. It could be a hormonal response or even an insulin response. We don’t quite know why, but many people who cut out dairy report better skin.

Conclusion

Skin health is not just about what you put on your skin, but what your skin gets from the inside too. There are lots of important nutrients and foods to help support healthy skin. Which also means, that there are lots of foods that can affect your skin in negative ways as well.

Hydrating, eating nutrient dense whole foods, and avoiding common allergenic and inflammatory foods might make all the difference for you.

Do you have an awesome recipe or tips for people to eat more of these “skin-healthifying” foods? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Omega-3 vitamin C rich): Not Your Typical Salmon Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients

4 cups baby spinach (or mixed greens)

1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes
½ large cucumber, chopped

8 oz smoked salmon, or 1 can salmon, roughly chopped
Drizzle of your favourite (gluten-free, dairy-free) dressing

Instructions

Place 2 cups of greens into each of 2 bowls.

Top with veggies and salmon.

Drizzle with dressing.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Serve with a large mug of green tea for an extra skin-supporting bonus.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/beautiful-skin/
https://www.thepaleomom.com/overcoming-medical-dogma-eczema/
https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-acne-nutrition
https://www.healthline.com/health/4-best-vitamins-for-skin#VitaminD2
https://chriskresser.com/nutrition-for-healthy-skin-part-1/
https://www.healthline.com/health/ways-to-boost-collagen
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/collagen

The Gut-Brain Connection

The gut-brain connection. If there was ever a call for “digestive health,” this is it!

Yes, it’s true. The gut is considered the “second brain.”

There is no denying it any more.

And because of the new scientific discoveries about the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the amazing influence your gut microbes can have, it’s no wonder what you eat feeds not only your body but can directly affect your brain.

I find it amazing (but not too surprising).

What exactly is the gut-brain connection?

Well, the gut-brain connection is very complex, and to be honest, we’re still learning lots about it!

There seem to be multiple things working together. Things like:

  • The vagus nerve that links the gut directly to the brain;
  • The “enteric nervous system” (A.K.A. “second brain) that helps the complex intricacies of digestion flow with little to no involvement from the actual brain;
  • The massive amount of neurotransmitters produced by the gut;
  • The huge part of the immune system that is in the gut, but can travel throughout the body; and,
  • The interactions and messages sent by the gut microbes.

This is complex. And amazing, if you ask me.

I’ll briefly touch on these areas, and end off with a delicious recipe (of course!)

The vagus nerve

There is a nerve that runs directly from the gut to the brain.

And after reading this so far, you’ll probably get a sense of which direction 90% of the transmission is…

Not from your brain to your gut (which is what we used to think), but from your gut up to your brain!

The enteric nervous system and neurotransmitters

Would you believe me if I told you that the gut has more nerves than your spinal cord?

I knew you would!

And that’s why it’s referred to as the “second brain.”

And, if you think about it, controlling the complex process of digestion (i.e. digestive enzymes, absorption of nutrients, the flow of food, etc.) should probably be done pretty “smartly”…don’t you think?

And guess how these nerves speak to each other, and to other cells? By chemical messengers called “neurotransmitters.”

In fact, many of the neurotransmitters that have a strong effect on our mood are made in the gut! e.g. a whopping 95% of serotonin is made in your gut, not in your brain!

The immune system of the gut

Because eating and drinking is a huge portal where disease-causing critters can get into your body, it makes total sense that much of our defence system would be located there too, right? 70% of our immune system is in our gut!

And you know that the immune cells can move throughout the entire body and cause inflammation just about anywhere, right?

Well, if they’re “activated” by something in the gut, they can potentially wreak havoc anywhere in the body. Including the potential to cause inflammation in the brain.

Gut microbes

Your friendly neighbourhood gut residents. You have billions of those little guys happily living in your gut. And they do amazing things like help you digest certain foods, make certain vitamins, and even help regulate inflammation!

But more and more evidence is showing that changes in your gut microbiota can impact your mood, and even other, more serious, mental health issues.

How do these all work together for brain health?

The honest answer to how these things all work together and make the gut-brain connection is that we really don’t know just yet. More and more studies are being done to learn more.

But one thing is becoming clear. A healthy gut goes hand-in-hand with a healthy brain!

So, how do you feed your brain?

Of course, a variety of minimally-processed, nutrient-dense foods is required, because no nutrients work alone.

But two things that you many consider eating more of are fibre and omega-3 fats. Fibre (in fruits, veggies, nuts & seeds) help to feed your awesome gut microbes. And omega-3 fats (in fatty fish, walnuts, algae, and seeds like flax, chia, and hemp) are well-know inflammation-lowering brain boosters.

If you’re struggling with brain fog, fatigue and low mood and would like to know more about foods to feed your brain, contact Kate to book a free 15 minute fatigue breakthrough call!

Recipe (Gut food fibre, Brain food omega-3): Blueberry Hemp Overnight Oats

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup oats (gluten-free)

1 cup almond milk

1 tablespoon chia seeds

2 tablespoons hemp seeds

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 banana, sliced

¼ cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1. Blend blueberries in the food processor until smooth.
  2. Mix blueberries, oats, almond milk, chia seeds, hemp seeds in a bowl with a lid. Let set in fridge overnight.
  3. Split into two bowls and top with cinnamon, banana, and walnuts.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Your gut microbes love to eat the fiber in the blueberries, oats, seeds, and nuts. Meanwhile, your brain loves the omega-3 fats in the seeds and nuts.

References:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626
http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-probiotics
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/fix-gut-fix-health
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

Why Am I Always Hungry?

Why am I always hungry? There are many reasons to feel hungry. Of course, the most obvious one is that I am actually physically hungry. Perhaps your stomach is empty, your blood sugar has dropped, and your hunger hormones are having a party.

But other times, the hunger may not be physical hunger. It may be a craving, blood sugar imbalance or an emotional trigger. These are common reasons why some people eat too much. It could be brought on by a certain type of diet, stress, or other things going on in life.

It’s easy to mistake “psychological” hunger for “physical” hunger.

I’m going to talk about the difference between both of these types of hunger, and give you some tips how to figure out which is which.

And, of course, I will give you a very filling recipe too!

Physical hunger vs. psychological hunger

Your “physical” hunger is regulated by the body through your hunger hormones. And of course, it should be. You don’t want to be completely drained of fuel and nutrients for a long time. So, you’re programmed to seek food when your body physically needs it. Some of those physical needs are that your stomach is empty or your blood sugar has dropped.

“Psychological” or “emotional” hunger is eating to overcome boredom, sadness, stress, etc. It’s based on a thought or feeling. It’s what happens when you see a great food commercial or smell a bakery. It’s not from your empty stomach or low blood sugar.

So, here’s how to tell which is which.

Eight steps to figure out if you’re physically hungry or not

1 – The first thing you need to do is stop to evaluate. Scarfing down that protein bar at the first sign of hunger isn’t necessarily going to help you.

2 – Now that you’ve stopped. Pay attention to where this hunger is coming from. Can you actually feel or hear your stomach growling? Did you skip a meal, and haven’t eaten in hours? Or are you seeing and smelling something divinely delicious? Perhaps you’re bored, sad, or stressed? Take a peek into all these areas and really pay attention.

3 – Have a big glass of water. Now observe your hunger feeling for at least a minute. Really dig into the source of the feeling. It can be easy to jump to a conclusion, but that may or may not be the right one. So listen to your body and mind very deeply.

4 – If you do find that your feelings may be the source, then face them. Acknowledge and observe them. They may just be needing comfort and recognition, even if they sound like they need food. Try deep breathing, having a stretch, or going for a quick walk to release some of these emotions; this also gives your mind a chance to focus on something other than the feeling of hunger.

5 – If you’re pretty sure that your body physically needs nutrition, just wait a few more minutes to make sure.

6 – Now you can be fairly sure whether your hunger was from emotions, boredom, thirst, or actual physical hunger.

7 – If it’s physical hunger, feel free to eat healthy and nutritious food. To fill you up the food you eat should be high in protein, fibre, and water. Eat slowly and mindfully. Chew well and savour every bite of it.

8 – Rinse and repeat at the next sign of hunger.

To learn more about this, contact Kate for a free 15 minute breakthrough call.

Conclusion

The feeling of hunger can manifest for many reasons. Of course, if you’re physically hungry and need the food and nutrients, then this is what it’s for!

But often, there is an underlying psychological or emotional reason you might feel hungry.

Now you know my eight steps to figure out if your physical body is hungry, or if you’re bored, sad, or stressed.

Use this process over and over again to feed your body what it actually physically needs (and not overdo it).

Recipe (Filling): Slow-Cooker Roast Beef and Potatoes

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 onions, sliced (do this and go to step 1 before preparing the rest of the ingredients)

4 lb beef roast

1 lb potatoes, peeled & chopped

1 lb carrots, peeled & sliced

2 celery sticks, sliced

2pinches dried thyme or sage or parsley

2 cloves garlic crushed

2 pinches salt & pepper

Instructions

Place a layer of sliced onion at the bottom of the slow cooker. Put the lid on and turn up to high; this will start caramelizing the onions while you wash and slice the rest of the ingredients.

When all ingredients are ready, take off slow cooker lid and add meat and the prepared vegetables, garlic, herbs, and spices.

Cook on high for 3 – 5 hrs, or on low for 6 – 8hrs, or until done.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can substitute different vegetables if you like. For example, you can use sweet potatoes in place of the regular potatoes; or parsnips instead of carrots.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ghrelin/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/dealing-with-mysterious-hunger
https://authoritynutrition.com/18-ways-reduce-hunger-appetite/
https://authoritynutrition.com/15-incredibly-filling-foods/

5 Healthy Snack Ideas for Fatigue

The words “fatigue” and “sugary snacks” often appear in the same sentence.

Let me share my best fatigue-fighting snacks that aren’t just nutritious but also delicious!

What’s my criteria you ask?

They have to be nutrient-dense whole foods where a little goes a long way; foods that contain protein, healthy fats and/or fibre.

Here are my 5 healthy snack ideas for fatigue:

1 – Nuts

It’s true – nuts contain fat, but they are NOT fattening!

Well, I’m not talking about the “honey roasted” ones, of course. Those probably are fattening.

Studies show that people who eat nuts tend to be healthier, leaner and have more energy.

By the way, nuts also contain protein and fibre, which means a small amount can go pretty far in terms of filling you up. Not to mention the vitamins and minerals you can get from nuts.

Did you know that almonds have been shown to help with weight loss? At least 10% of the fat in them is not absorbed by the body, and almonds can also help to boost your metabolism!

Tip: Put a handful of unsalted/unsweetened nuts into a small container and throw it in your handbag.

2 – Fresh Fruit

As with nuts, studies show that people who tend to eat more fruit, tend to be healthier. (I’m sure you’re not too surprised!)

Yes, fresh fruit contains sugar, but whole fruits (I’m not talking juice or sweetened dried fruit) also contain a fair bit of water and fibre; not to mention their nutritional value with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Fibre is something that not only helps to fill you up (known as the “satiety factor”) but also helps to slow the release of the fruit sugar into your bloodstream and reduce the notorious “blood sugar spike” followed by the energy crash.

Win-win!

Try a variety of low glycaemic index fruit (apples, pears, berries, etc.) and pair that with a handful of nuts.

Tip: Can’t do fresh? Try frozen. Plus, they’re already chopped for you.

3 – Chia seeds

This is one of my personal favourites…

Chia is not only high in fibre (I mean HIGH in fibre), but it also contains protein and omega-3 fatty acids (yes THOSE omega-3s!). As well as antioxidants, calcium, and magnesium.

Can you see how awesome these tiny guys are?

They also absorb a lot of liquid, so by soaking them for a few minutes, they make a thick pudding (that is delicious and fills you up).

Tip: Put two tablespoons in a bowl with ½ cup of amond milk and wait a few minutes. Add in some berries, chopped fruit or nuts, and/or cinnamon and enjoy!

4 – Boiled or poached eggs

Eggs are packed with nutrition and most of it is in the yolk.

They contain a lot of high-quality protein and a good amount of vitamins and minerals.

And recent research shows that the cholesterol in the yolks is NOT associated with high elevated cholesterol or heart disease risk.

Yup, you read that right!

Tip: Boil a bunch of eggs and keep them in your fridge for a super-quick (and nutritious) snack!

5 – Vegetables dipped in hummus

I don’t need to tell you how great these are for you, but just maybe I need to sell you on the delicious “snackability” of these nutrition powerhouses.

Veggies contain fibre and water to help fill you up, and you don’t need me to tell you about their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, right?

You can easily open a bag of baby carrots and/or cherry tomatoes and give them a quick rinse (they’re already bite-sized).

Tip: Use a bit of dip. Have you put almond butter on celery? How about trying my new hummus recipe below?

For personalised healthy snack ideas, contact Kate to book an appointment.

Conclusion:

Go ahead and try one, or more, of these healthy snacks. Prepare them the night before if you need to. They will not be “tasteless,” like “cardboard,” or “completely unsatisfying.” Trust me.

Recipe (Vegetable Dip): Hummus

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained & rinsed

⅓ cup tahini

1 garlic clove

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 pinch sea salt

1 pinch black pepper

Instructions

Put all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. You may need to thin it out with a bit of water, so add it 1 or 2 tablespoons at a time and blend.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Don’t like sesame? Use an avocado in place of the tahini.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-most-weight-loss-friendly-foods/
https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/almonds/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/almonds/
https://authoritynutrition.com/is-fruit-good-or-bad-for-your-health/
https://authoritynutrition.com/foods/apples/
https://authoritynutrition.com/fresh-vs-frozen-fruit-and-vegetables/
https://authoritynutrition.com/11-proven-health-benefits-of-chia-seeds/
http://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/eggs/

Butternut Squash & Lentil Curry Recipe

It’s nice to have warm, comforting meals in the cold autumn evenings. This tasty butternut squash & lentil curry recipe is my favourite dinner to have. It makes the most of butternut squash which is in season in the UK in autumn.

The brown rice is lower in sugar than white rice and as it is wholegrain it contains more B vitamins and magnesium.

Serves 2

Time to prepare & cook: 1 hour

Ingredients

1tbsp Coconut Oil

1 Red Onion

1 Garlic Clove

1inch Root Ginger

1/2 tbsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Ground Coriander

1/4 tsp Ground Turmeric

345ml Passata

1/4 block Coconut Cream

125g  Red Lentils

1 Butternut squash

I large leaf Swiss chard

1 tsp Olive oil

600ml Filtered Water

150g (75g/serving) Brown Rice

¼ tsp  Himalayan Pink Crystal Salt

¼ tsp Black Pepper

Instructions

Firstly preheat the oven to fan 180C.

Now chop the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds with a dessert spoon and discard. Chop a grid into the surface of the butternut squash flesh. Place the butternut squash halves in a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil.

When the oven is ready, add the butternut squash halves into the oven and cook for 40 minutes.

Next melt the coconut oil in a medium pan.

Now add the chopped onion, and salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander and turmeric and stir.

When the onions start to look clear, add in the chopped garlic.

Boil some water. Cut off a quarter of the coconut cream block and place it in a small glass. Pour in 200ml boiling water to dissolve the block.

Now add in the passata and water. Pour in the red lentils. Next pour in the coconut cream. Also cut up 2 inch pieces of the Swiss chard and add to the curry. Simmer on a low heat for 25 minutes stirring regularly. Add in extra water if necessary.

While the curry is cooking, pour the brown rice into a pan of filtered water at the ratio 1:2 brown rice:water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 25 minutes on a low heat. Do not stir.

When the butternut squash is cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Once cool. use a dessert spoon to scoop out the butternut squash flesh and put into the curry.

Serve the butternut squash & lentil curry with the brown rice. Enjoy!