Healthy Living

5 Breakfast Foods That You Should Never Eat Again + Healthier Alternatives

We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and rightfully so! It’s the first thing we eat after about 9 hours of resting and replenishes our body with glucose which powers our brain.

However, with such a fast paced society it’s easy to choose a quick and easy option that typically contains little nutrition or to just skip breakfast all together! So today I wanted to write a blog on why breakfast is so important, some popular breakfast foods to avoid and various healthier alternatives to fuel your day- so let’s get into it! ⚡️

Why is Breakfast Important?

As the name suggests, breakfast “breaks” the overnight fasting period. In the morning, we feel tired because our bodies lack glucose- the body’s main energy source. Without this important molecule, the body breaks down fatty acids in order to get the energy it needs. This in turn actually reduces energy levels and leads to excessive hunger later on in the day!

Research suggests that eating in the morning helps maintain a healthy weight because it prevents overeating and impulsive eating. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to be tempted to reach for a quick fix such as fast food or vending machine snacks.

The key is choosing a healthy, nutritious breakfast that will replenish your body and not overwhelm it ✨

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

1. Eggs

Having an egg or two for breakfast is surprisingly not that healthy. Just two eggs contain 369 mg of cholesterol and 190.4 mg of sodium. Research suggests that consuming high amounts of cholesterol and sodium contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. It’s also useful to know that the daily recommended amount of sodium per day as set out by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. This amount can easily be exceeded in the morning by having eggs, bacon and toast.

So just by skipping out on eggs for breakfast, you also skip out on unnecessary cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats! 🥳

2. Bacon

Bacon is by far one of the unhealthiest breakfast foods out there! With high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, fat, oils and nitrates- bacon should definitely be avoided for breakfast. In fact, The World Cancer Research Fund released a statement which advises the population to eat as little red meat or processed meats as possible. This is because there is a strong correlation between red or processed meats and colorectal cancer. There’s also evidence that eating meat and dairy causes inflammation within the body. Inflammation can manifest as pain, redness, swelling and acne.

If you’re looking to make a healthy food choice that will have immediate health benefits, leave bacon off of your plate tomorrow morning!

3. Cereal

Cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods and the first thing that many people eat in the morning to start their day! However, cereal is actually not that healthy for you as its highly processed and contains high amounts of refined sugars, additives, preservatives and even artificial colourants.

Not to mention, most cereals are advertised as healthy so it’s hard to be completely sure. This box of cereal by Quaker Oats is the perfect example- check out some of the statements made and then what the ingredients actually reveal!

If you enjoy eating cereal in the morning, try finding a brand that doesn’t contain colorants and ingredients such as BHT. There are also much healthier and more filling options below so be sure to scroll on down! 🙌🏼

4. Yogurt

I’m sure you’re surprised that yogurt is on this list considering it’s advertised as a low-fat nutritious breakfast. But the thing is that most yogurts are actually not very healthy for you at all! And, you should also be very careful if you ever see “Low-Fat” on food packaging. In the US, foods labelled “fat free” must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, while “low fat” must adhere to 3 grams of fat or less per serving. Seems simple enough right? Well most fat free/low fat foods lack taste, so to make up for that, other ingredients are added such as sugar, flour, thickeners and other artificial ingredients.

Not to mention, dairy products are not environmentally sustainable and contain unfavourable “ingredients” such as white blood cells or pus excreted from the cow during the milking process. A litre of milk can contain up to 400,000 somatic cells before it is considered unfit for people to drink! Not very appetizing!

5. Breakfast Sandwiches

And lastly, let’s talk about breakfast sandwiches! Whether you make one at home or pick one up from Tim Horton’s before work- breakfast sandwiches contain a bunch of heavy ingredients that are bound to overwhelm your body. The typical sandwich contains white bread, eggs, bacon, cheese and sometimes even sausage. Just one Bacon Breakfast Sandwich from Tim Hortons has 1000 mg of sodium, 155 mg of cholesterol and barely any fiber at just 2 grams. Fiber is what makes us feel full, so not only will you still feel unsatisfied after a breakfast sandwich, you will also feel bloated and will be more likely to eat junk food later.

So just to put that into perspective- just one of these sandwiches accounts for 50% of your sodium intake without accounting for lunch, dinner or in between snacking!

There are much more healthier, filling and satisfying breakfast options!

Healthy Breakfast Options

1. Oatmeal

One of my personal favourites is oatmeal. It’s cheap, easy to make and can be made into so many different combinations! It’s also a great way to eat fewer calories and therefore lose weight. This is because oatmeal contains beta glucan which is a naturally occurring type of fiber that slows down digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer. One bowl also contains a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate and B vitamins!

So next time you go to the grocery store, grab oats instead of cereal! They’re much healthier and contain lots of healthy plant compounds and antioxidants 🌱

2. Fruit Smoothies

Fruit smoothies are surprisngly filling and will provide you with vitamins, minerals and even plant proteins! I typically use soy milk because it’s one of the healthiest plant milks and contains phytoestrogens which are greatly beneficial to our health. I also usually add 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter to add protein and to make my smoothies more thick and creamy 😋

Check out my Breakfast Smoothie blog for three different healthy and tasty smoothies that you can try tomorrow morning! 🙌🏼☀️

3. Refried Black Beans

Refried black beans are a healthy and protein packed breakfast option! Just one cup contains 15 grams of plant proteins and 15 grams of fiber which is great for weight loss. Research suggests that diets high in fiber help maintain a healthy weight, support healthy digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. Refried black beans are also so tasty and inexpensive- one can costs just under one dollar!

Try frying up some onions, garlic, soy sauce and black beans for breakfast instead of two eggs which negatively impact your cholesterol levels 🙌🏼

4. Avocado Toast

Avocado toast is a nice and quick option when you have ripened avocados around! Avocados are a healthy source of unsaturated fats, potassium, fiber and other vital nutrients such as vitamin K. In fact, many controlled studies have demonstrated that avocados can reduce total cholesterol levels significantly, reduce blood trigylcerides by 20%, lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22% and increase HDL (the good) cholesterol by up to 11%.

Try putting some sliced avocado on some whole grain toast with olive oil, pink salt and turmeric for a healthy and delicious breakfast!

5. Fruit Bowl

You can never go wrong with a fruit bowl! Fruits are a nice and light breakfast that will provide your body with the perfect fuel! Melons, berries and fruits such as bananas all contain beneficial compounds, nutrients and vitamins that aid in healthy digestion. Fruit is also high in fiber and natural sugars which prevent blood sugar fluctuations.

If you’re looking to add more fruits to your diet, check out my tips for healthy eating on a budget! There are plenty of ways to add more nutrient dense foods to your grocery list that won’t necessarily cost you much more ☺️


Takeaway

I hope that this post has inspired you to start making healthier breakfast choices! It’s so important to realize how much our first meal impacts our entire day. Be sure to always start your mornings with the right fuel, and you will be able to tackle just about anything! ☀️😎

Thank you so much for reading and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more healthy eating posts 🌱

Healthy Living

The Hidden Dangers in Menstrual Products

Most people assume that menstrual products contain safe, non-toxic ingredients. However, that is unfortunately not the case for pads and tampons. The problem with Tampax, O.B and other conventional menstrual product manufacturers is that they use genetically modified cotton, as well as a list of other toxic ingredients such as wood pulp, plastics and dyes.

So today, I wanted to write a blog on the hidden dangers found in our menstrual products and what products to use instead! Because let’s face it- we should not be putting toxic chemicals inside of our bodies on a regular basis.

Periods: The basics

Before I dive into the horrible and unnecessary ingredients in both pads & tampons, I want to talk about why a menstrual period is such an important cycle that happens within the human body.

A period is a way for the body to cleanse itself, reproduce necessary hormones and shed off the lining of the uterus. We go through many phases both before and after our monthly cycles based on the hormones being released. Examples of this include the follicular phase, ovulatory phase and the luteal phase.

Throughout the week of our actual menstrual cycle, it is so important to allow your body to do a full cleanse! This can be experienced emotionally such as crying (PMS) or even just focusing more on your diet. What I want to get at here is that it’s so important to not add toxic chemicals to your cycle because this can later cause hormonal imbalances, bacterial infections or even a heavier flow. Chemicals and ingredients found in conventional tampons have many unadvertised side effects and dangers so let’s get into it and explore healthier alternatives!

Ingredients found in Conventional Pads and Tampons

The information that I retrieved about the ingredients found in varying menstrual products can be found on Tampax.com.

1. Genetically Modified Cotton

Genetically modified cotton was introduced in 1996 (only 25 years ago) and is thought to be one of the world’s dirtiest crops. Globally, cotton crops cover just 2.4% of the worlds cultivated land, but uses 6% of the worlds pesticides and 16% of insecticides- more than any other single major crop. This greatly increases the risk of residues being present in your personal products and can throw off the natural pH balance within your vagina.

Vaginal pH imbalances can lead to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and can cause allergy related symptoms such as itching.

Aside from the negative health effects associated with GM cotton, thousands of cotton farmers and their families suffer from pesticide poisoning every year. Some cotton farmers earn less than $2.00 a day for their cotton and spend up to 60% of their annual income on pesticides.

2. Rayon

Rayon is a semi synthetic fabric made from recycled wood pulp. It’s widely used in the fashion industry because of its ability to mimic the look and feel of other fabrics such as silk, cotton, wool and others. This may sound great for fashion and clothing, but it does not belong in our bodies!

Rayon is processed with many other chemicals to be broken down into cellulose, which according to Tampax “helps absorb and retain fluid”. However, rayon is processed with many chemicals such as carbon disulphide, sulphuric acid, ammonia, acetone and others. The carbon disulphide emitted from rayon has been proven to cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, headaches and chest pain when inhaled. Toxins released from rayon can also rarely cause tissue necrosis for people who regularly wear clothing made of this fabric.

The interesting thing is that most studies done on rayon are based on fashion or clothing, not on the effects of putting it inside of the body. It is considered one of the most dangerous fabrics, but is still one of the main ingredients in our menstrual products! #notokay

3. Propylene

Propylene is a plastic that is found in food containers like those that hold yogurt, cream cheese and butter products. It’s derived from petroleum and is found in some beauty products because it’s very cheap and is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

However, a recent study conducted in November 2020 demonstrated that micro plastics are released from propylene infant feeding bottles. In the study, 48 regions were surveyed to estimate the global exposure to infants up to 12 months. They found values ranging from 14,600-4,550,000 particles per capita per day, depending on the region.

This greatly demonstrates that propylene plastics release micro plastics into our bodies and can have damaging health effects. The vagina is an extremely sensitive organ and using plastic derived ingredients is a big no no!

4. Paraffin

Paraffin is a by-product of the petrochemical industry and has to be intensively refined with bleach and other harmful chemicals in order to be useful. Its production is not sustainable nor environmentally friendly, making it a harmful and unnecessary ingredient in our menstrual products.

On its own, paraffin is greasy and has an unpleasant odour. So manufacturers add preservatives, fragrance and bleach to make it more appealing. This ingredient is used by Tampax as a wax “to keep the [tampon] string clean”. However, paraffin is far from clean!

Paraffin on its own can cause inflammation and irritation, but with the concoction of other chemicals added during production, it’s the perfect storm to throw off your pH.

As I mentioned earlier, vaginal pH imbalances can lead to different bacterial and fungal infections.

5. PEG-100 Stearate

PEGS or polyethylene glycols are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in the cosmetic industry as thickeners, solvents and softeners.

Depending on the manufacturing processes, PEGs can be contaminated with measurable amounts of chemicals such as ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies ethylene oxide as a known human carcinogen and 1,4-dioxane as a possible human carcinogen. Additionally, ethylene oxide can also harm the nervous system and has been classified as a developmental toxicant by the California Environmental Protection Agency.

You would think that with all of the evidence behind the dangers related to this ingredient that it would not be used in menstrual products, however there is very little regulation as you can see! Most people assume that their personal products are safe and are willing to use them regardless of ingredients which is why big companies are still using cheap and unsafe ingredients. We definitely need more activism and awareness around this issue!

6. Titanium Dioxide

Titanium Dioxide is a pigment that is used in both pads and tampons to make them appear whiter. Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen “possible carcinogen to humans”.

This ingredient is widely used to provide a whiter appearance and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods and toothpaste. It can also be found in a variety of beauty products and lotions such as sunscreen.

Although it has been proven to likely be carcinogenic, this ingredient is still used in many products including menstrual products.

Healthier Alternatives for your Cycle & Your body

So now that you know why you should avoid conventional menstrual products at all costs, let’s explore some healthier alternatives and brands!

Natracare Products

This brand is my go to- you can find it at Loblaws or even Amazon! I love this brand because it lists the ingredients right on the box. I also love that they use 100% organic cotton, are plastic & fragrance free, totally chlorine free and are biodegradable!

If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to your personal care products, check out Natracare. They are about the same price as regular pads and tampons, but contain much cleaner ingredients!

Organyc Products

Organyc is also a safe and clean choice for menstrual products. They are very similar to Natracare and do not contain genetically modified cotton or any of the other chemicals that we discussed. You can find their products at Healthy Planet or order from their website.

The Diva Cup

I don’t want to speak much on something that I personally have never tried, but I have heard great things about the Diva Cup! Not only is it a more environmentally friendly option, it doesn’t contain many ingredients that will linger in your body afterwards.


Takeaway

As you can see, there is not much regulation that goes into the manufacturing of menstrual products. It seems that because most people trust the ingredients, big companies and corporations can get away with adding cheap and harmful ingredients to our personal products. That is why it’s so important to take your own health into account and start educating yourself on common ingredients. Before I wrote this blog, I knew tampons and pads contained harmful chemicals but I will admit that I’m a bit shocked by the amount of information there is on this already. Needless to say, we need to start voting with our money and stop buying products that we know are not good for us.

Always remember- you are the only one with your health in best interest! Most big companies will do anything to make a bit of profit.

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Check out my personalized services and be sure to follow me on Instagram for updates ☀️

Sources

Carbon disulfide – US EPA. (1992, April 11). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-09/documents/carbon-disulfide.pdf

Government of Canada, C. C. (2021, May 09). Titanium Dioxide : OSH Answers. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/chemicals/chem_profiles/titanium_dioxide.html

Joy, R. (2020, September 23). Is polypropylene a safe plastic to use in your home? Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/is-polypropylene-safe

Li, D., Shi, Y., Yang, L., Xiao, L., Kehoe, D. K., Gun’ko, Y. K., . . . Wang, J. J. (2020). Microplastic release from the degradation of Polypropylene feeding bottles during infant Formula Preparation. Nature Food, 1(11), 746-754. doi:10.1038/s43016-020-00171-y

Ltd, B. S. (2021, April 27). The Problem With Paraffin In Emollients. Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://balmonds.co.uk/blogs/blog/the-problem-with-paraffin-in-emollients

Mancini, F., Bruggen, A. H., Jiggins, J. L., Ambatipudi, A. C., & Murphy, H. (2005). Acute Pesticide Poisoning among Female and Male Cotton Growers in India. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health,11(3), 221-232. doi:10.1179/oeh.2005.11.3.221

Polypropylene. (2021, May 01). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polypropylene#Health_concerns

Rayon (Viscose). (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://cfda.com/resources/materials/detail/rayon-viscose

Schwebel, D. C., & Swart, D. (2009). Preventing paraffin-related injury. Journal of Injury and Violence Research,1(1), 3-5. doi:10.5249/jivr.v1i1.1

The Dirty Dozen: PEG Compounds and their contaminants. (2020, February 12). Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://davidsuzuki.org/queen-of-green/dirty-dozen-peg-compounds-contaminants/

Watson, S. (2019, July 11). Everything You Need to Know About Maintaining Your Vaginal pH Balance: Normal Levels… Retrieved May 11, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/health/womens-health/vaginal-ph-balance

nutrition

Balancing your Diet with Traditional Chinese Medicine Nutrition

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is such an interesting system! A lot of people don’t know this, but I have actually been studying Chinese Medicine since 2016, and am just finishing my final clinical hours to graduate (I’m actually super excited)! 🥳

I always found nutrition to be the most interesting aspect of TCM because it takes things such as taste, colour and temperature of foods in mind. As you may know, in our society most dieticians typically only take nutrient content and calorie amount in mind when constructing diet plans. Which is great, because it’s so important that we meet the dietary guidelines, however food can do so much more for us if we consider all aspects and qualities!

So today I decided to write a quick blog on Traditional Chinese Medicine nutrition, how it works and how I personally use it to help my clients balance their diets!

Yin and Yang

In Chinese Medicine, the concept of yin and yang is really important.

Yin is considered the light and is attributed to cold and deficiency. Whereas yang is considered the darkness and is more excess and hot.

Individuals who have a more yin constitution typically feel cold and tired most of the time, crave warmer foods and may have more specific symptoms such as night sweats or a pale tongue.

Individuals who have a more yang constitution typically feel hot, have trouble falling asleep, crave colder foods and have a red tongue which signifies heat within the body.

The interesting thing is that the tongue actually says so much about someone’s health and diet! A pale tongue means that there is cold within the body, and the patient should eat warmer foods such as cinnamon, soups or vegetable broths.

Whereas a red tongue means there is too much heat in the body, and the patient should eat colder foods such as cucumbers, salads or smoothies.

For more information on how tongue diagnosis works and tips on checking yours out at home, check out my blog Tongue Diagnosis: The Basics.

Balancing diet with temperature

Chinese Medicine practitioners use this very basis to come up with personalized diet plans. Yin and yang is huge and in my opinion, not mainstream enough!

From there, we can start using the temperature of foods to restore balance within the body. For example, as someone who has been vegan for 5+ years, I eat a lot of foods that are cold in nature. I used to always have cold hands and feet, I always felt tired and had pale dry skin.

Using moisturizer didn’t seem to make a difference and no matter how many sweaters I wore- I was still cold!

It wasn’t until I started studying Chinese Medicine when I learned about the concept of warming or cooling the interior. Which basically means to eat more foods based on temperature so that your organs have an optimal environment!

Because I balance my diet using temperature in addition to my dietary needs, I no longer have any negative symptoms and my digestive system has never been healthier.

This can be applied to people who experience pain as well! People who have pain typically have poor circulation, commonly known as blood stasis in TCM. Blood stasis results in a purplish tongue, pain and sometimes inflammation. Foods that move the blood (improve circulation) such as mung beans, black beans or green lentils would be greatly beneficial in this case!

Taste and colour

Taste is another interesting aspect that we look at! The five element theory attributes each organ to a taste, colour, season and element. The five element theory is mainly used when selecting an acupuncture treatment plan, but it can also come in handy when creating a personalized diet plan as well!

As you can see, each organ has a different colour. Meaning, we benefit from eating all of the colours that nature has to offer!

Here’s a quick breakdown of each colour, the connected organ and foods that are beneficial:

  • Green (liver): kale, bok choy, collards, cabbage, green lentils
  • Red (heart): tomatoes, cherries, red pepper, strawberries
  • Yellow (spleen): corn, potatoes, squash
  • White (lungs): onions, garlic, green tea
  • Black (kidneys): black beans, dark fruits, blueberries

Interestingly enough, green foods are high in antioxidants which help detoxify the liver and improves the quality of blood. Red fruits & veggies contain a compound called Lycopene which is what produces red pigmentation, and is also beneficial to our heart and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Yellow foods such as corn and potatoes contain starches that are beneficial to our gut microbe and white foods such as garlic or herbal teas can vent pathogens out of the lungs.

And lastly, dark foods such as black beans, blueberries and dark berries are high in antioxidants that are beneficial to our kidneys and water metabolism.

As you can see there are many overlapping theories and modern day nutritional facts that do support each other!

Check out the rest of the chart and try to incorporate more colourful foods into your diet this week!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on modern day nutrition and Chinese Medicine diet. I really hope I did a good job explaining certain concepts and didn’t lose you half way through haha!

The main thing I want you to takeaway is that there are plenty of ways to balance our bodies with food and nutrition! The earth has over 80,000 edible plants and herbs that aid our health and fight against disease. Start choosing fruits and veggies that are colourful, nutritious and always keep your health in mind above anything else!

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”.

For personalized nutrition advice/health coaching, please click here to check out my services!

nutrition

Proteins: Why You Should Choose Plant-Based Sources

When you search the word “protein” on Google, what’s the first thing that comes up on images? Meat and eggs. I can understand why most people only think of animal products when it comes to proteins, but today I am here to change that and prove that there are so many amazing plant based sources of protein that contain all of the amino acids that we need!

This blog will get into what proteins are, the differences between plant and animal sources, the daily recommended amount and 5 high plant based sources of protein⚡️

What are proteins?

First things first, what exactly are proteins and why do we need them? Proteins are one of three macronutrients that the body requires to properly function. The other two are fats and carbohydrates. Proteins play an important role in various bodily processes such as fluid balance, blood clotting, immune system responses and hormone regulation. They are crucial building blocks in our bodies and are also responsible for muscle mass.

Proteins consists of large chains of amino acids- there are 20 of them in total. The human body is capable of synthesizing (or creating) 11 of them and the remaining 9 are known as “essential amino acids” that must come from our diet.

A common argument against consuming plant based proteins is that they are incomplete and must be paired together in order to create complete proteins. Complete proteins are foods that contain all of the 9 essential amino acids. They are typically associated with animal products, however many plant based foods are complete proteins as well such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp and soy. In addition, it’s important to note that all 9 essential amino acids can be found in plant based foods, in varying amounts.

Meaning that if you follow a whole food plant based diet, you will have nothing to worry about as you will be consuming a wide variety of plants which all contain varying amounts of essential amino acids!

Animal Proteins vs Plant Proteins

Okay so now that we talked a bit about what proteins are and why they’re important, let’s get into why plant based sources are healthier than animal sources.

Plant based sources of protein tend to be lower in calories and fat than animal sources, and higher in fiber and essential nutrients. Therefore, by transitioning to plant based sources of protein, you will increase your nutrient profile and reduce your daily caloric intake.

Take a peanut butter sandwich and 3 eggs for example. Both are popular breakfast foods and you would be very surprised to find out that they contain about the same amount of protein but very different nutrient profiles. A peanut butter sandwich is packed with whole grains, healthy carbs and nutrients whereas eggs contain unnecessary cholesterol, sodium and animal fat.

Plant based sources also keep you feeling full for longer as they are higher in fiber which promotes healthy weight loss and digestion. In addition, when you consume animal products, your body undergoes oxidative stress which depletes the body of beneficial nutrients to neutralize cell damage.

How much protein should I consume?

With any nutrient, it’s possible to consume too much or too little. With protein, it’s no different. However, unlike other nutrients, proteins have a very interesting threshold that one must stay within in order to obtain just the right amount for their body weight and fitness desirability.

It’s very rare to become protein deficient in our society. Essentially all of our foods contain protein, it’s just a matter of choice between plant based sources vs animal sources. The tricky part is getting too much protein. So many body builders, gym fanatics and fitness coaches advocate for eating more protein to get more muscle mass. But getting more protein than the daily recommended amount hasn’t necessarily been proven to build more muscle mass.

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the amount of protein that each person should consume is based on their age, sex and level of physical activity.

The general guidelines for a healthy amount of protein ranges from 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight (2.2 lbs) to 2 grams for more active individuals.

Consuming more protein per kg of body weight has been linked to weight gain, constipation, and increased risk of cancer and heart disease. But this is mainly because most individuals associate protein with animal products, meaning that someone who is trying to obtain more protein will most likely do so through consuming animal products.

But as mentioned earlier, if you swap plant proteins in place of animal proteins, you will increase your nutrient profile and boost your metabolism at the same time.

5 Healthy & High Sources of Plant Based Protein

Here are 5 amazing sources of plant based proteins that are both healthy and delicious! Beans and lentils are great additions to add to any diet as they contain a healthy amount of protein, carbs and fiber. These nutrients and macronutrients are great for weight loss, better digestion and a faster metabolism!

  • Peanuts: Just one cup of peanuts contains about 25 grams of protein. But if snacking on them isn’t your thing- two tablespoons of peanut butter contains 8 grams of protein. Match that with 2 pieces of whole grain toast (4g protein each) and you already have a breakfast containing 16 grams of healthy plant based protein! 😋
  • Black Beans: Black beans are delicious and a great addition to any meal! Just one cup contains 15 grams of protein and lots of fiber which is great for weight loss.
  • Chickpeas: Chickpeas are one of the best plant based sources of protein with 39 grams per cup. Check out my chickpea tuna recipe for a creative way to incorporate them into your diet⚡️
  • Lentils: Lentils are so tasty and perfect for when it’s chilly out. My favourite thing to do is pressure cook one cup of dry lentils with soy sauce, onions, mushrooms and garlic. Just one cup of these bad boys contain 18 grams of protein.
  • Tempeh: Tempeh is the perfect substitute for bacon. If you’ve never tried it before- you definitely should! It can be found in the vegetarian/vegan section of most grocery stores. Just one block typically contains 19 grams of protein.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on proteins- I really hope that you learned something that will benefit your health! The main reason why I wrote this blog is to change the way that people think of protein! Animal sources are not the only sources of protein out there.

There are so many amazing plant based sources that contain all of the amino acids that we need! It’s just a matter of consciously making those swaps 🙂


Sources:

Macho-González, A., Garcimartín, A., López-Oliva, M., Bastida, S., Benedí, J., Ros, G., Sánchez-Muniz, F. (2020, July 20). Can Meat and Meat-Products Induce Oxidative Stress? Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7402184/

Hernandez-Alonso, P., Salas-Salvado, J., & Ruiz-Canela, M. (2015, April 07). High dietary protein intake is associated with an increased body weight and total death risk. Retrieved January 10, 2021, from https://www.clinicalnutritionjournal.com/article/S0261-5614(15)00091-6/fulltext

nutrition

5 Benefits of Going Plant-Based

Plant based diets have been a hot and trending topic for a few years now. Many people argue that it’s harder to obtain nutrients however current scientific research suggests otherwise. Diets low in animal products and high in plant based foods have been proven to be healthier and provide so many benefits! These benefits range from improving overall health to directly reducing pollution associated with animal agriculture. 

I have personally been plant based for 5 years now and have not looked back! I love the benefits that come with eating plants and I also love how much more energized I feel.

So, in order to motivate you with your health transition, I will be providing 5 reasons why a plant based diet is amazing for you and our planet. Remember, the goal isn’t to become vegan, it’s to become more plant based and conscious of where our food comes from 🙂 

1. You will reduce inflammation in your body

If you consume animal products such as meat and cheese, there is strong evidence that you probably have high levels of inflammation. Inflammation is beneficial when it’s against bacteria or foreign pathogens. However, the common Western diet causes chronic inflammation which alters the way that we feel and promotes disease in the long run. Inflammation can manifest as many things in the body such as pain, fatigue, swelling and redness. This is why diets that are high in animal products are typically linked to acne and rosacea. 

In contrast, a plant based diet is full of nutritious ingredients that contain helpful molecules like phytonutrients, antioxidants and fiber which reduce the effects of inflammation. 

Thus, when you enjoy a plant based diet, you are also able to enjoy the anti-inflammatory properties that come with it! 

2. You will lower your cholesterol levels

Cholesterol is crucial for us to survive and is necessary in a healthy diet. However, our bodies can produce more than enough for us to live and thrive. Therefore, we do not need to directly consume cholesterol in order to have it in our bodies. Unfortunately cholesterol is found in virtually all animal products making the population vulnerable to conditions associated with high levels of cholesterol in the blood. High levels of cholesterol promote heart disease, high blood pressure, and various other health conditions.

In contrast, a plant-based diet has no cholesterol (yep you read that right, NO cholesterol!) and very little saturated fats. Many studies have also shown that people who make the change to a plant based diet have reduced their blood cholesterol by more than 30%, decreasing their risk of certain conditions and diseases.

3. You will decrease your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes

Unfortunately, more and more people around the world are developing Type 2 Diabetes because of their diet. Type 2 diabetes used to be only associated with adults and was commonly referred to as Adult-Onset diabetes. However, in recent years more children are being diagnosed as Type 2 Diabetic due to improper diet and lack of exercise. Various studies have shown that animal products like red and processed meats can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Thus, you will radically reduce your chances of acquiring type 2 diabetes if you leave animal proteins behind. 

Whole plant-based diets are recommended as a powerful tool for preventing, managing, and reversing type 2 diabetes. 

4. You will reduce the amount of toxins and oxidative stress in your body

Many animal products need to be treated with chemicals in order to extend their shelf life and freshness. Two common chemicals known to have side effects used by the industry are sulfates and sodium-nitrate. Sulfates are commonly added to food items to prevent the growth of bacteria and fungi, preserve color, and freshness. However, sulfates can produce asthma like symptoms according to the United States Food and Drug Administration. 

Sodium nitrate is commonly used as an additive in hotdogs, bacon, deli-meat, and jerky. This chemical is a bit more dangerous because it is associated with risk of heart disease. Many animal products are coated with chemicals that are only used to benefit the manufactures whereas a whole grain vegan diet will remove the vast majority of the chemicals associated with animal products. 

5. It’s the best thing you can do for the planet

Alright so if you’re like me, you care about the planet and the precious wildlife that inhabits it. Animal Agriculture is the leading cause of pollution, deforestation, habitat loss and ocean dead zones. It’s also responsible for the unnecessary slaughter of 3 billion animals each day. To put that into perspective, our human population would be extinct within days if we were killed at that rate- that’s crazy!

In the Amazon rainforest alone, cattle ranching surprisingly accounts for 80% of deforestation rates. Animal Agriculture is not sustainable because in addition to the land needed to actually raise the livestock, an extensive amount of land is used to grow animal feed. Water use is crucial because the animal needs it to survive, and it’s also needed to grow food for the animal. It’s estimated that you will need more than 2,000 gallons of fresh water in order to produce only one pound of beef in the United States. This means that one pound of beef has an equal amount of water that a human would need to drink in 3,785 days (10.3 years)!

By making the conscious change to a plant-based diet, you can reduce the demand for animal agriculture and directly help our environment. And by becoming plant-based, you will also save an average of 100 animal lives yearly, which feels pretty cool when you think about it! 😎

Here are some quick tips that helped me go plant based:

  • Documentaries are full of great and credible information! Check out the documentaries The Game Changers, What The Health, Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives on Netflix.
  • Become more conscious of what you’re eating. Thinking of the process your food has to go through really helps you make better food choices.
  • Try doing your own research and have fun with it! I strongly encourage having a healthy relationship with food ⚡️

⚡️If you would like help in making healthier food choices, feel free to check out my one-on-one virtual health coaching service!⚡️


Sources

American College of Cardiology President: Why Cholesterol Still Matters. (2019, January 13). Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/why-cholesterol-still-matters/

A Vegan Diet for Diabetes Control. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pcrm.org/news/health-nutrition/vegan-diet-diabetes-control

Barbaresko, J., Koch, M., Schulze, M. B., & Nöthlings, U. (2013). Dietary pattern analysis and biomarkers of low-grade inflammation: A systematic literature review. Nutrition Reviews,71(8), 511-527. doi:10.1111/nure.12035

Katherine Zeratsky, R. (2020, April 18). The unhealthy preservative hiding in processed meats. Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/sodium-nitrate/faq-20057848

Ferdowsian, H. R., & Barnard, N. D. (2009). Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Plasma Lipids. The American Journal of Cardiology,104(7), 947-956. doi:10.1016/j.amjcard.2009.05.032

Lowering Cholesterol With a Plant-Based Diet. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/lowering-cholesterol-with-a-plant-based-diet

McWilliams, J. (2014, December 15). We’re Eating Ourselves to a Warmer Planet. Retrieved from https://psmag.com/environment/gluttony-global-warming-eating-warmer-planet-96495

Pan, A., Sun, Q., Bernstein, A. M., Manson, J. E., Willett, W. C., & Hu, F. B. (2013). Changes in Red Meat Consumption and Subsequent Risk of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. JAMA Internal Medicine,173(14), 1328. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.6633

Perkins, S. (2018, December 17). Are Sulfates in Food the Same as Nitrates? Retrieved from https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/sulfates-food-same-nitrates-3150.html

Sutliffe, J. T., Wilson, L. D., Heer, H. D., Foster, R. L., & Carnot, M. J. (2015). C-reactive protein response to a vegan lifestyle intervention. Complementary Therapies in Medicine,23(1), 32-37. doi:10.1016/j.ctim.2014.11.001

Sodium Nitrite: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/sodium-nitrite.html

Type 2 diabetes. (2020, August 26). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/type-2-diabetes/symptoms-causes/syc-20351193 

What You Need to Know About Sulphites. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/What-you-need-to-know-about-sulphites.aspx

7 Things That Happen When You Stop Eating Meat. (2019, July 02). Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/7-things-that-happen-when-you-stop-eating-meat/

Healthy Living

Natural Glow Wellness is now offering Personalized Services!

Alright guys! The day is finally here- I am officially launching my services!

After 5+ years of studying Pre Health Sciences, Nutrition & Traditional Chinese Medicine, I have decided to launch my personalized services to help you live your best life! I am super excited about this because I will finally be able to do what I love while helping others feel and look great.

Sara Mastrangelo, Owner of Natural Glow Wellness

Here’s a quick breakdown of what my services will include.

If you are interested in working together, please click here! I am offering a discount on my services for a limited time 🙂

Become Healthier with Sara!

One-on-one Health Coaching Sessions 

How would you feel if I told you that you can achieve your personal health goals through a healthy diet? It’s true! The food we eat plays a huge role in our moods and in our physical appearance. Through my health coaching sessions, I work with clients to narrow in on the foods they eat, and teach them how to make better choices at the grocery store.

You like eating pizza? That’s okay! My health coaching sessions aren’t going to force you to diet or stop eating the foods you love- we are just going to go over healthier choices and how to distinguish good quality ingredients from harmful preservatives.

I love studying nutrition and over the years I have learned how to master making regular unhealthy foods into delicious healthy versions. Food is meant to make you look good and feel amazing. Not make you have unnecessary cravings gain weight and feel bloated afterwards! Let’s get healthy and restore our relationship with food.


nutrition

Carbohydrates: Everything you need to know

Carbohydrates also known as sugars are very important macronutrients. However, they are usually given a bad reputation because of their association with weight gain and diabetes. But the reality is that not all carbohydrates are bad for you, many of them are actually very important for your health because they fuel your brain and body with vital energy!

Knowing how to choose the proper carbohydrates for your diet is so important. Not all carbohydrates are made out of the same components, so not all of them will have the same effect on your body. Choosing the proper foods that provide your body with the right carbohydrates will benefit you in so many ways!

So, without further ado let’s dig into the benefits, the properties, the different types of carbs and how to differentiate the good from the bad!

What exactly are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates or Carbs are small molecules that are mainly made out of Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen atoms. Fiber, starch and sugar are all classified as carbs. They are broken down by our digestive system into smaller molecules such as glucose in order to provide us with the fuel that we need for our daily routines.

All sugars are considered carbohydrates, but the term “sugar” is only commonly used to describe small carbohydrates that have one or two sugar units. Carbohydrates are commonly broken down into three different categories depending on the number of sugar units:

  • The simple carbohydrates like glucose and fructose only consist of one sugar unit, and are commonly known as monosaccharides. 
  • A carbohydrate like sucrose, or lactose contains two sugar units and is classified as a disaccharide.
  • Other more complex carbohydrates like starch and glycogen are part of the polysaccharide and oligosaccharide groups.

Why do we need carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates are important because they help fuel our body and organ systems with energy. When you eat a meal that contains carbohydrates, your body will use chemicals to break down the carbs into smaller pieces. From there, the sugars that your body has broken down will enter your bloodstream. As soon as the sugars enter the blood, your pancreas will release a hormone call insulin. Insulin is responsible for transporting sugars from your blood into your cells, where simple carbohydrates can be used as a great source of energy for your body and brain. Our central nervous system, cardiac muscles and kidneys all need carbohydrates to properly function!

This process is usually straight forward, however, unhealthy carbs can affect the rate that this process occurs. 

Simple sugars vs processed sugars

Diets high in simple sugars and processed sugars are strongly linked with coronary heart disease, diabetes and fatty liver. Simple carbohydrates unlike complex carbs are absorbed very fast, causing a quick and immediate burst of energy that we all are too familiar with! That’s because the rush that you feel after you eat something very sweet is caused by the high amount of added simple sugars, which are in the form of refined sugars and processed syrups. Refined sugars provide no nutritional value, they lack vitamins, minerals and fiber. These sneaky sugars are one of the reasons why carbohydrates are shunned and considered bad!

However, not all simple sugars are refined sugars, so not all sugars should be thought as bad.  

So, as I previously mentioned, simple sugars in the form of refined sugars are terrible because they are only added calories and should be a huge no no in your diet.

But not all simple sugars are actually bad for your health. Many simple sugars are very nutritious and are found in healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. These types of sugars are considered as naturally occurring carbohydrates, which are completely different than the bad ones! Unlike the processed simple sugars, natural carbs are full of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They are great fuel for your brain and digestive system!

 Well, the same goes for complex carbohydrates!

Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates unlike simple carbohydrates are absorbed by your digestive system slowly, and provide a lower but steadier release of energy. However, complex carbohydrates can also be divided into two groups, refined and unrefined.

The complex carbohydrates that are considered refined, have no nutritional value. They have been stripped from all of their nutrients, similarly to the refined sugars that I previously mentioned. Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, pasta, pizza dough, and many processed breakfast cereals can have unhealthy effects on your blood sugar levels. This is because when you eat high amounts of complex carbs, your body quickly absorbs the sugars and releases insulin. Insulin is used to remove the excess amount of sugars from your blood, however the quick release of insulin can have negative effects like increased appetite, causing you to crave more food and ultimately making you gain weight. Research has also shown that refined grains can drastically affect your mood and energy levels. And if that is not enough, they also contribute to the build-up of fat, diabetes and heart disease.

Thus, understanding which complex carbohydrates are the best for you and your body is crucial for a healthy diet.

Carbs that are actually good for you

Don’t let all of the bad stuff that I mentioned about refined simple sugars and refined complex carbohydrates make you feel like you need to avoid carbohydrates! Carbohydrates are necessary for our health and the key is to avoid refined carbs.

Healthy complex carbohydrates are not rare, they are easy to find, so let me help you! 🙂

Here are some healthy sources of carbohydrates that have amazing nutrient profiles:

  • Chickpeas are a great source of protein and complex carbohydrates. One cup of these lil guys will set you up with 10 grams of fiber, which is one third of the recommended daily fiber intake. Chickpeas also provide your body with a healthy source of calcium and phosphate, two elements crucial for bone development. Click here to check out my chickpea tuna recipe which is a great source of healthy carbs!
  • Old-fashioned oats are also a great way to increase your daily source of healthy natural complex carbohydrates. Half a cup of oats will provide you with 27 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of proteins and various other minerals and vitamins. 
  • Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite sources of complex carbohydrates because they not only have 26 grams of healthy carbs, they also provide beta carotene which is an amazing antioxidant that takes care of you and your skin!! 
  • Black beans are super healthy for you. They will provide you with an incredible amount of nutrients that will help you feel full for longer compared to other foods. One cup of black beans will set you up with 41 grams of carbohydrates, 15 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and various other nutrients that are crucial for your health and wellbeing. 
  • Quinoa is a perfect way to enjoy all of the benefits associated with whole grain foods for people who are intolerant to gluten. Yes, you read that right, quinoa is a seed not a grain. So, none of the problems associated with gluten will affect you if you stay on a quinoa vibe 😎
  • Lentils unlike quinoa and whole wheat bread are very cheap. They are a great source of protein, fiber, and carbohydrates. Lentils are also very low in fat, making them a great choice for a filling and healthy meal! 

Conclusion

I really hope that you learned something new about this very interesting macronutrient! Carbs are not bad for us at all, and it’s crucial to realize that there are good carbs (naturally occurring) and bad carbs (refined, processed).

In any case, read the ingredients of each food you consume and try your best to avoid anything that’s processed. Your mind and body will thank you 🙂

nutrition

The Power of Antioxidants

As you know, I love making smoothies and fresh fruit juices every morning! One of my favourite ingredients to put in my smoothies are mixed berries because they’re high in antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in the body and decrease the risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease & cancer.

But before we get into the amazing benefits of antioxidants, we must first discuss free radicals and oxidative stress.

Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress

Free radicals are unstable molecules that are highly reactive. They are constantly being formed in our bodies and are necessary for certain functions such as helping our cells fight off infections. However, there must be a balance between free radicals and antioxidants, otherwise oxidative stress will occur.

Over a long period of time, oxidative stress can accelerate aging, damage DNA and even lead to cell death.

Certain lifestyle factors and dietary habits can promote free radical formation and therefore cause oxidative stress:

  • Smoking Cigarettes
  • Alcohol Consumption
  • Toxins
  • Air Pollution
  • Intense Exercise
  • Too much sun exposure
  • Dietary Habits- Red & Processed Meats
  • Antioxidant Deficiency

All About Antioxidants!

Alright so now that we have talked a lil bit about free radicals and oxidative stress, let’s talk about antioxidants! So as I mentioned earlier, antioxidants are molecules that fight off free radicals in our bodies preventing oxidative stress. Our bodies can generate antioxidants such as glutathione, but we should really be getting our source from fresh fruits and vegetables. Plant based foods are a great way to get your fix because they contain varying kinds of antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E.

Different Types

There are two types of antioxidants: water-soluble and fat-soluble.

Water soluble antioxidants work in the fluid inside and outside of cells, whereas fat-soluble antioxidants work largely in the cell membrane. The three most important dietary antioxidants include Vitamins C, E and flavonoids.

  • Vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress induced damage. It’s also an essential nutrient that boosts our immunity and promotes the look of healthy skin.
  • Vitamin E is fat-soluble and also protects against oxidative stress. Vitamin E is great for the skin because it protects our cell membranes and helps neutralize free radicals.
  • Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are found in plant based foods. They’re beneficial in reducing oxidative stress, boosting immunity and promoting overall health.  

Plant foods that are high in antioxidants include berries (blueberries, strawberries, goji berries, raspberries), artichokes, kale, spinach and beans.

It’s so important to make sure that you are getting a decent amount of antioxidants daily! Antioxidants are crucial to our health and are an amazing skin food.

My favourite way to add antioxidants to my diet is making smoothies every morning! Even if berries aren’t in season, frozen berries are a great choice and they’re about the same cost wise.

Health Tip

Next time you go to the grocery store, grab a bag of frozen raspberries, mixed berries and blueberries. Throw some in a blender with some fresh bananas and soy milk and you now have the perfect skin food! 🙂

Sources

Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Understanding antioxidants. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-antioxidants

 

Healthy Living

Skincare 101

A lot of people ask me what my skin care routine is and to be honest, it’s pretty simple! When it comes to skincare, less is more. Our skin is so delicate and is the first to react to pollutants in the environment. So it’s so important that we’re not overwhelming our skin even more with harsh ingredients and chemicals that are commonly found in most skincare products.

It’s also important to take diet and nutrition in mind when discussing skincare. Not many people know that the appearance of our skin is actually highly influenced by the foods we eat.

Here are 5 tips to promote healthy looking skin:

1. Eliminate Oils, Sugars, Dairy Products & Processed foods from your diet

I know this sounds extreme, but honestly the pay off is huge. Foods that are high in oils, sugar and dairy are horrible for the appearance of your skin! Every now and then I’ll indulge and eat something sugary and the next day my skin looks red & rough.

This is because sugar contributes to inflammation as well as breaks down collagen and elastin (which are important components to youthful looking skin!) It’s fine to snack every so often, but having a constant intake of foods high in these ingredients will increase redness, the look of fine lines and decrease elasticity. Youthful looking skin starts on the inside!

2. Drink lots of lemon water and fresh fruit juices

I am a huge advocate for drinking lemon water and making fresh fruit juices in my blender throughout the day! Drinking lemon water is a great way to detox impurities from your skin and body. It’s also packed with antioxidants and vitamin C which stimulate collagen production and reduce signs of aging.

I also love making fruit juices because it’s an easy and quick way to add nutrients to your diet. Check out these soy milk smoothie recipes! They’re high in phytoestrogens, antioxidants, and minerals which are all great skin foods.

3. Start using a natural oil before bed like Rosehip

Using rosehip oil on your skin will honestly change your life! Not to be mistaken with rose oil made from rose petals, rosehip oil comes from the fruit & seeds of the rose plant which is commonly grown in Chile. I honestly love this oil because it makes my skin feel amazing and gives it a natural glow. Rosehip oil contains antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, as well as essential fatty acids which all promote healthy skin. It also brightens the look of skin, boosts collagen formation, reduces inflammation and reduces hyperpigmentation.

The main thing when buying rosehip oil is to make sure that it comes in a tinted glass bottle and is certified organic. I typically buy this kind from Amazon and it works wonders!

4. Add facial rolling or Gua Sha to your skincare routine

For those of you who don’t know what Gua Sha is, it’s a technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to promote blood flow and circulation in the body. It’s done by gently scraping the affected area with a natural rock such as jade or rose quartz to promote healing. Doing Gua Sha on the face, commonly known as facial rolling is really beneficial because it moves impurities out of the skin by increasing blood flow to the area. It also naturally tones facial muscles, improves the skin’s elasticity and softens fine lines.

I typically do facial rolling 1-2 times a day just after applying rose hip oil.

5. Avoid wearing makeup

Have you ever really read the ingredients on your makeup? The amount of ingredients in one palette is literally insane! Just think of how many chemicals we put on our face for one night out. Our pores get clogged, our skin gets red and a breakout happens as a result- that’s why it’s so important to limit the amount of times you wear makeup. Don’t get me wrong, doing makeup and getting dolled up is fun but it’s so crucial to let your skin breathe.

If you do like wearing makeup, try to choose a cruelty free brand. Brands that are cruelty free typically contain better ingredients and don’t involve animal testing. I really love the brand Anastasia because it’s one of the only brands that doesn’t cause me to breakout the next day. Everyone’s skin is different, but I’m sure you’ll be doing your skin (and our animal friends) a favour by choosing a cruelty free brand instead.


Conclusion

Honestly the key to healthy skin is a healthy diet. Foods that are good for your skin include cashews, berries, fresh fruit juices and leafy greens. If you have an alkaline plant based diet, you will be getting tons of phytonutrients and minerals which the body can use to make collagen. Whereas if you have a diet high in processed foods, sugars, oils and dairy products, it will manifest on the skin as inflammation, redness and acne.

Always remember to let your skin breathe, eat foods that nourish it and use a natural oil such as rose hip that is high in antioxidants. 🙂

Stay beautiful and keep glowing!

nutrition

Busting The Soy & Estrogen Myth

So, we have all heard the myth that soy products affect hormone levels in both men and women, causing drastic side effects like spikes in estrogen or causing breast tissue to grow. However, these myths were popularized by certain individuals with their own agenda and thus, I have decided to write a blog on the benefits of phytoestrogens which are the main component in soy products.

Functional Foods

The idea that food contains nutritional properties as well as organic functions is becoming more accepted by the scientific community. Functional foods are foods that make us healthy and are common in diets high in whole plant based foods. Functional foods have the ability to regulate body functions in order to protect against diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, coronary heart disease and many others.

Phytoestrogen vs Mammalian Estrogen

Functional foods consist of many different groups, however phytoestrogens are a large component. Phytoestrogens are a very special type of molecule that help our bodies feel good and look great.

Phyto means derived from plants, thus phytoestrogen is estrogen that naturally occurs in plants such as legumes, soy, flaxseed and mulberries. Phytoestrogens are beneficial to our health because when our bodies break down phytoestrogens, the molecules that are formed help regulate biological reactions. Meaning that phytoestrogens can connect to some receptors as mammalian estrogen, however phytoestrogen is like a key that can open a door, but leaves the screen door closed- which blocks out all of the bad things.

In contrast, mammalian estrogen which is naturally produced by us or consumed in dairy products, can fully open the door which leaves us vulnerable to diseases & chronic problems.

Estrogen & Other Hormones in Dairy Products

The interesting thing about estrogen & food intake is the fact that not many people associate dairy with it, even though cows must be genetically altered in order to continuously produce milk. The hard truth is that dairy is a much more significant source of female hormone exposure. Commercial dairy cows contain high amounts of estrogen and progesterone and are impregnated just to sustain the demand for cows milk. Even dairy products that are labelled as organic, or no hormones added contain high amounts of hormones because many of them are naturally produced by cows, even if they have not been given additional hormones.

  • One study concluded that when men and children consume milk, estrogens are absorbed and gonadotropin secretion becomes suppressed, followed by a decrease in testosterone secretion.
  • This study also concluded that milk consumption was responsible for significantly increased levels of estradiol and progesterone in adults and children.

Phytoestrogen Benefits

Phytoestrogens are classified into 7 groups- the main groups are isoflavones, lignons and coumestans:

Isoflavones are mainly found in soy products.

Lignons are commonly found in plants & grains rich in fiber such as wheat, barley, oats, beans, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, carrots.

Coumestands are found in peas, beans and alfalfa shoots.

Phytoestrogens are a crucial component of a healthy diet, research has shown that phytoestrogens are very beneficial in the reduction of menopausal symptoms. The health benefits of Eastern diets is generally associated with the consumption of high quality proteins found in soy. In Eastern countries, soy is part of the traditional diet and contains an average of 15-50/mg a day of isoflavones from soy. Whereas the Western diet only contains an average of 2/mg a day of isoflavones from soy. The lack of soy in the Western diet is preventing many of us from benefiting from all of the great qualities attributed to phytoestrogens.

Research

So since I have introduced the foods that contain phytoestrogens, as well as why phytoestrogens are beneficial when compared to mammalian estrogen, I think now would be a great time to show the research that support these claims!

  • The first area of research that has shown substantial evidence that phytoestrogens are beneficial in the human body is Menopause. Research has shown that supplementation of genistein (one of the 7 groups of phytoestrogens) may promote the reduction of menopausal symptoms. Researchers have also found that eating more soy products can alleviate the severity of hot flashes in women experiencing menopause.
  • Another condition that has had positive effects from soy products is Osteoporosis, which is the reduction of bone density. Research has shown that genistein which has a structure similar to estrogen, can bind to the same receptors as mammalian estrogen. This helps regulate estrogen levels which can cause bone deterioration if imbalanced.
  • Phytoestrogens found in soy products have also been shown to successfully improve blood sugar levels in Diabetic patients.

Conclusion

Non-GMO Soy products are beneficial in our everyday diet and research has demonstrated that phytoestrogens have a positive effect on our health. It’s unfortunate that there’s a very common misconception between phytoestrogen and mammalian estrogen. However, if you are concerned about elevated estrogen or hormonal levels your body, the best thing you can do is ditch dairy products, or limit your consumption.

Sources

Bhathena, S. J., & Velasquez, M. T. (2002). Beneficial role of dietary phyto- estrogens in obesity and diabetes. American Journal of Clinical Nutri- tion, 76, 1191–1201.

Monteleone, P., Mascagni, G., Giannini, A., Genazzani, A. R., & Simoncini, T. (2018). Symptoms of menopause – global prevalence, physiology and implications. Nature Reviews Endocrinology., 14(4), 199–215.

Ricci, E., Cipriani, S., Chiaffarino, F., Malvezzi, M., & Parazzini, F. (2010). Effects of soy isoflavones and genistein on glucose metabolism in peri- menopausal and postmenopausal non-Asian women: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Menopause, 17(5), 1080–1086.

Petrine, J. C., & Bianco-Borges, B. D. (2020). The influence of phytoestrogens on different physiological and pathological processes: An overview. Phytotherapy Research. doi:10.1002/ptr.6816

Maruyama, K., Oshima, T., & Ohyama, K. (2010, February). Exposure to exogenous estrogen through intake of commercial milk produced from pregnant cows. Retrieved September 16, 2020, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19496976