nutrition

Heme vs Non-Heme Iron: The Facts

When I was vegetarian, I had a severe iron and B12 deficiency. I used to go to my doctor weekly for B12 injections and take iron supplements daily. It wasn’t until I went fully vegan that my nutrient deficiencies started to disappear.

You may be wondering how going vegan helped, but it did in tremendous ways! Many plant-based foods are rich in iron and beneficial nutrients, however there is a common misconception that you must consume animal products in order to maintain healthy iron levels. This is far from the truth, and the reality is that animal sources of iron have harmful effects on the body when compared to plant-based sources. So today I wanted to write a blog and present some interesting research on the topic!

What is Iron and Why is it Important?

Iron is an important mineral that helps to maintain healthy blood. A lack of iron is called iron deficiency anemia which is the most common nutritional deficiency, affecting about 4-5 million Americans per year. Iron deficiency occurs when our body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen to our body’s organs and tissues. Without enough iron, we are unable to produce healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen which leads to fatigue, dizziness and headaches.

Iron is necessary for healthy brain development and growth in children, as well as helping to maintain healthy red blood cells.

How Much Iron Do We Need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-50 years:

  • Men: 8 mg daily.
  • Women: 18 mg daily.
  • Pregnant Women: 27 mg daily.

The higher intake amounts for women and pregnancy are due to blood loss during menstruation and the rapid growth of the fetus during pregnancy.

Heme vs Non-heme Iron

Now that we have talked a bit about what iron deficiency anemia is and the recommended daily intake, let’s differentiate between the two forms of iron.

Iron from food comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme is only found in animal flesh such as meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens. Non-heme iron can also be found in animal flesh (animals consume plant foods with non-heme iron) and fortified foods. 

About 40% of the iron found in animal sources is heme iron and about 60% is non-heme iron. Additionally, when heme iron is heated during cooking processes, much of it is denatured.

Although both forms of iron provide benefit to the body, high heme intake is associated with increased risk of several cancers, including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer.

Negative Health Effects Associated with Heme-Iron

The human body has no way to dispose of excess iron, which can lead to future health complications. As a result, excess iron is stored in our organs with the majority being put in our liver, heart, and pancreas. Too much iron in our organs can lead to damage and diseaseโ€”eventually leading to life-threatening conditions such as liver disease, heart problems, diabetes, and certain types of cancers.

Because heme iron is absorbed at a higher rate (15%-35%) than non heme (2%-20%), it’s much easier to consume too much.

Cancer

Meat is one of the largest dietary sources of heme. Many studies have suggested that the high heme content in red meat is associated with several diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Red meat (beef, lamb and pork) has 10 times the heme content compared to white meat such as chicken. Research has shown that an increased risk of several types of cancer is associated with diets high in red meat. On the contrary, consumption of substantial amounts of green vegetables is associated with decreased risk of colon cancer, likely because vegetables contain low levels of heme iron.

Significantly Increases your risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits and buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Many studies have demonstrated a positive association between heme and coronary heart disease. The earliest evidence of this association was actually documented in 1994- findings included an increased risk of myocardial infarction among men consuming red meat as the main source of iron.

In another study, meat intake was used as a measure of dietary heme. Men who consumed meat six times a week compared to men who consumed meat less than once a week had a 60% increased risk of CHD.

Benefits of Non-Heme Iron

If you’re feeling confused as to where to get your iron from moving forward, I have one word for you- plants!! Plant based sources of iron are packed with beneficial antioxidants, nutrients and Vitamin C which aids in iron absorption. In addition, a plant-based diet has demonstrated the ability to protect our cells from inflammation and chronic diseases. Plant based sources of iron allow you to meet your nutritional requirements, without causing negative health effects.

Here are some of my favourite plant-based foods that are rich in iron:

  • Lentils: Lentils come in three varieties: brown, green, and red. Lentils are not only packed with iron, but also high in potassium, fiber, and folate (a B vitamin). One cup contains 6.6 milligrams of iron.
  • Tofu/Tempeh: Tofu and tempeh soy-based products are a big part of the vegan diet! Tofu has a higher iron content of 6.6 milligrams per half-cup. One cup of tempeh has 4.5 milligrams of iron.
  • Spinach: one cup of cooked spinach contains 6.4 milligrams of iron. Try adding spinach to your smoothies, pastas or salads to naturally increase your iron intake!
  • Beans: are an amazing source of iron! Kidney beans (5.2 milligram / cup), soybeans (4.5 milligrams / cup), and lima beans (4.5 milligrams / cup) have the highest iron content.  

 

Conclusion

When it comes to iron, plant based sources are much healthier because they typically contain antioxidants and other crucial nutrients. In addition, plant-based foods have anti-inflammatory effects whereas animal derived foods are one of the main causes of inflammation in the Western diet. Try plant-based sources instead!

Be sure to follow me on social media, and check out my services page if you would like to work together. Stay healthy and stay glowing! โœจ

Sources

Ascherio A;Hennekens CH;Buring JE;Master C;Stampfer MJ;Willett WC; (n.d.). Trans-fatty acids intake and risk of myocardial infarction. Circulation. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8281700/ 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 19). Coronary artery disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm#:~:text=Print-,Coronary%20Artery%20Disease,This%20process%20is%20called%20atherosclerosis. 

Dutra, F. F., & Bozza, M. T. (1AD, January 1). Heme on innate immunity and inflammation. Frontiers. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2014.00115/full 

Hooda, J., Shah, A., & Zhang, L. (2014, March 13). Heme, an essential nutrient from dietary proteins, critically impacts diverse physiological and pathological processes. Nutrients. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967179/#:~:text=High%20heme%20intake%20is%20associated,pancreatic%20cancer%20and%20lung%20cancer. 

Iron. The Nutrition Source. (2020, October 19). Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/#:~:text=RDA%3A%20The%20Recommended%20Dietary%20Allowance,and%209%20mg%20for%20lactation. 

Kaluza, J., Wolk, A., & Larsson, S. C. (2013). Heme iron intake and risk of stroke. Stroke44(2), 334โ€“339. https://doi.org/10.1161/strokeaha.112.679662 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, January 4). Iron deficiency anemia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/.

acupuncture

5 Reasons to Choose Cosmetic Acupuncture Over Botox

I believe that everyone can age beautifully and gracefully without having to compromise their health with harsh anti-aging treatments. In today’s society botox is becoming increasingly more popular, especially in younger women in their 20’s. Luckily, an all natural and healthier alternative to injections has been gaining popularity- cosmetic acupuncture.

Cosmetic acupuncture is an amazing all natural beauty treatment that both younger and older women can gain benefit from! So today I wanted to write a quick blog on why you should choose facial acupuncture over botox any-day!

How does Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?

Cosmetic acupuncture is derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine beauty and is growing popularity around the world. It’s 100% natural, injection free and is often done at minimal discomfort. By stimulating certain areas of the face with hair-thin acupuncture needles, the body is encouraged to locally increase blood flow, collagen and elastin production.

How does Botox Work?

Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. It’s the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism.

It works by blocking signals from our nerves to our muscles. The injected muscle can’t contract which makes wrinkles relax and soften. However over time, this procedure can actually weaken facial muscles and cause even more aging in the long-run.


Now that we understand the key points of each treatment, let’s go over why cosmetic or facial acupuncture is more beneficial than getting botox.

1. Benefits your overall health

Unlike botox which just treats local concerns of wrinkles, cosmetic acupuncture has the ability to positively impact your health as a whole. This is because Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the body as an energetic system and many skin related issues stem from inner imbalances. This can be due to poor digestion, poor circulation to the face or inflammation. Using a combination of points located on the face and body, the root cause is able to be addressed rather than just masking superficial symptoms!

2. Influences the long-term health of skin

While botox typically lasts 3-5 months, cosmetic acupuncture lasts much longer and will continue to benefit your skin even when you discontinue treatment. By causing micro-trauma with the insertion of needles, facial acupuncture encourages the natural production of newer, stronger elastin fibers and collagen. This results in increased elasticity, firmness, reduced fine lines, brighter complexion and smoother texture!

3. Strengthens facial muscles + prevents atrophy

With the use of motor points, cosmetic acupuncture stimulates or relaxes muscles in the face depending on the individualโ€™s needs and goals. Instead of inhibiting muscle contraction like botox, cosmetic acupuncture aims to stimulate blood flow to the area. Increasing localized circulation allows your body to activate its own healing capabilities and naturally eliminates fine lines and wrinkles by supplying energy or Qi.

4. It Works!

Not only does facial acupuncture have the ability to promote anti-aging effects, it can also benefit many health conditions. In a recent article, facial acupuncture can also be used to treat various neuromuscular facial conditions such as Bell’s palsy, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome and trigeminal neuralgia.

5. Covered by Healthcare Benefits

If your healthcare benefits cover getting acupuncture by a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), then cosmetic acupuncture falls under receiving an acupuncture treatment!

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope that I sparked your interest in this amazing all natural beauty treatment ๐ŸŒธ

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to book a free consultation call with me! If you would like to book a cosmetic acupuncture treatment, please click here! I am currently accepting new clients in Toronto and would love to work with you ๐Ÿ’—

Sources

Kotlyar, Arkady. โ€œTreatment of Facial Pain with I Ching Balance Acupuncture.โ€ Medical Acupuncture, vol. 29, no. 6, 2017, pp. 405โ€“410., https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2017.1251.

Rekstis, Emily. โ€œWhat Is Facial Acupuncture? Skin Benefits, Cost, and Side Effects.โ€ Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 June 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/facial-acupuncture.

Healthy Living

5 Ways to Naturally Boost your Immunity at Home

It’s officially fall- my favourite season! I love this time of year because there are so many pretty colours and it also means that halloween is just around the corner! But with the transition from warmer weather to cooler temperatures, it’s so easy to get sick. However, if you take the necessary steps to protect your body against pathogens, you will have nothing to worry about!

Here are the best natural remedies for a strong immune system:

1. Echinacea Tea

Echinacea is in amazing herb that has the ability to naturally boost your immunity and shorten the duration of the common cold, flu, pharyngitis, cough & fever. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that Native Americans used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections such as wounds and a general “cure-all”. In addition, echinacea is loaded with plant compounds that function as antioxidants which help to support a strong immune system.

Traditional Medicinals is my favourite brand of echinacea tea because the ingredients are clean and it’s very affordable! You can find it at most general stores like Bulk Barn, Loblaws, No Frills or even Shoppers Drug Mart.

2. Freshly squeezed orange juice

Drinking orange juice is a great and tasty way to build strong immunity at this time of year. Oranges are naturally packed with Vitamin C which has the ability to help our bodies produce leukocytes (white blood cells). White blood cells are what fights off infection and helps our bodies recover from illness. In addition, oranges are also rich in carotenoids which help to protect our cells from oxidative stress, as well as supports cardiovascular health ๐Ÿซ€.

Check out my new Youtube video for a delicious orange smoothie recipe that is packed with carotenoids ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

3. Fresh Garlic

Garlic is a natural remedy that most people already know about because of their grandparents. But today I want to tell you the reasoning why garlic has such amazing immunity boosting effects! It all starts with allicin- an active compound that gives garlic its smell and taste. Allicin has the ability to ease inflammation and block free radicals that damage cells and tissues within your body. It also has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties meaning that it can naturally destroy select viruses and other harmful microorganisms.

I love adding garlic to my recipes for added nutritional benefits, but when I feel myself getting sick I prefer to eat it raw. I usually mash one clove, mix it with maple syrup and take it like a spoon of cough syrup. But if raw garlic is too strong for you, you can try boiling it in 1 cup of water and drinking the water as a tea ๐Ÿต.

4. Ginger

Ginger is one of the most commonly used herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine because of its amazing immunity boosting effects! Ginger is considered a warming herb so it’s perfect for combating seasonal sicknesses such as the common cold at this time of year. In addition, ginger can help to decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.

Try adding fresh ginger to your morning smoothie or even try drinking a ginger tea before bed.

5. Dressing Weather Appropriate

This one seems a bit obvious but it’s extremely important to wear adequate clothing for this time of year- I know in the mornings it can be warm, but pack a sweater anyway! This small gesture will prevent you from dealing with a runny nose for weeks on end. In addition, wearing socks around your house surprisingly helps improve your immunity. This is because a lot of body heat can be lost from walking on cold flooring!

Other helpful tips:

  • Taking a steam shower is a great way to detox, improve circulation and ease pain. By standing in a steam shower for more than 5 minutes while focusing on your breathing, your body will naturally loosen up built up mucous in the respiratory tract and provide relief. If you’re laying in bed at night and you feel congested, try taking a nice steam shower! It will not only help you breathe easier, it will also help you sleep!
  • Eat more whole plant-based foods. Plant-based foods are high in beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that can help your body fight off infections + aid in building a strong immune system!
  • Exercise. Exercising has so many benefits such as improving brain function and reducing the risk of developing certain diseases. Try visiting the gym at least 2 times a week to stay in top shape and allow you body to function at its best!

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope that at least one of these immunity boosting tips was helpful! Be sure to follow me on my socials to stay connected ๐Ÿ’—

Stay healthy & Stay glowing โœจ

acupuncture

Treating Infertility using Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient technique that has been used to treat many conditions and create inner balance for over 2,000 years. However, it wasn’t until recently that women started to explore Traditional Chinese Medicinal therapies as an option for fertility treatment. So today I wanted to write a quick blog on how acupuncture can help benefit infertility and help to increase your likelihood of conception.

What is infertility?

First things first, if you are struggling with infertility know that you are not alone. According to the CDC, about 10% of women (6.1 million) in the United States aged 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. This can be due to many contributing factors in both partners.

What causes it?

In women, the cause of infertility can include endometriosis, uterine fibroids and thyroid disease. In men, it can be due to low sperm count, low testosterone, a pre-existing condition or injury.

Certain lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of infertility in both partners:

  • Age (over age 35 for women and over 40 for men).
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Smoking.
  • Stress.
  • Eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STDs)
  • Over-exercising.
  • Obesity.

How is infertility treated?

Typically, your healthcare provider will ask you to record signs of ovulation such as basal body temperature, do blood work and perform a pelvic examination to try to narrow down the root cause.

Varying treatment methods may be offered such as medications or even surgery.

The Alternative Approach to Infertility ๐ŸŒธ

Now that we have explored a little bit about what infertility is, let’s talk about how acupuncture can increase the likelihood of conception.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body is viewed as an energy system. Each organ plays a role in the smooth flow of energy (or Qi) and maintaining an inner balance. When our inner balance is disrupted, many related symptoms and conditions can arise such as infertility.

How Acupuncture Can Help

Research suggests that acupuncture in combination with moxibustion can have positive effects when it comes to preparing the body for conception. This is because in most cases, the body or the uterus is too cold (doesn’t have enough energy) to carry and hold a baby.

When moxibustion is used to improve fertility, specific points over the ovaries and uterus are warmed to increase blood circulation. This in turn improves the availability of nutrients to growing follicles, assists with the elimination of toxins and improves the quality of the endometrial lining.

Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body. 

In addition, diet plays a huge role in the success rate of conception. Traditional Chinese Medicine takes factors such as the temperature of foods, current season and nutritional value into mind to create a personalized plan based on the patients constitution.

Conclusion

Acupuncture is amazing treatment approach to many health conditions. Regular acupuncture sessions can help to monitor stress levels as well as promote relaxation which may also increase the likelihood for a successful pregnancy. It’s one of my favourite aspects of alternative medicine because it really does provide incredible effects! To learn more about how acupuncture works, check out my blog All About Acupuncture.

If you are looking for an acupuncturist, feel free to book an appointment with me, I am currently accepting new clients! ๐ŸŒธ

Healthy Living

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Seeing Results from Working Out

Working out is a great way to improve your overall health and create a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that exercising has many mood related benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression and improving self-esteem. Aside from all of the amazing mental benefits, some people may wonder why they aren’t seeing physical results right away. So today, I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 key reasons why you may not be achieving your fitness results just yet!

1. Too many animal products in diet, not enough fiber

Okay so one of the most important things when wanting to achieve physical fitness results is making sure that you are consuming the right foods! The first thing that I recommend to new clients is to try to reduce their intake of animal products, and to up the intake of whole plant-based foods. The great thing about plant based foods is that they are low in calories, but high in fiber and volume which will keep you feeling full for longer. Animal products are often high in calories and contain unnecessary additives such as sulfates and sodium nitrate. Additionally, animal products contain cholesterol which can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

Research supports that the plant-based diet reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and the risk of developing certain conditions later in life. To look healthy, you have to actually be healthy on the inside too! And one of the best ways to start is to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try doing Meatless Mondays or just simply being more conscious of the foods that you put into your body.

2. Need to Switch-Up Exercises

Many people stick to doing the same exercises if they’re trying to target a certain muscle group, however the best way to build strength and achieve noticeable results is to try different exercises! Our bodies are great at adapting, so if you’re doing sit-ups every night, your body will eventually get used to the motion and they won’t be much of a challenge anymore.

Changing up your routine will allow your body to build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries and increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re looking for easy at home exercises, check out my brand new Youtube Video for some inspiration! I love doing these exercises because they’re simple, quick and don’t require much space or equipment!

3. Not Being Consistent

Consistency really is key! Taking a day or two off is fine if you’re just not in the mood to be active, however it’s so important to stay true to your goals and remember why you started! Being consistent with your diet, lifestyle and long-term goals is what will get you a step closer to achieving physical results.

If you have trouble staying consistent, try creating a schedule for the week or buying an agenda. Creating lists and goals are a great way to stay motivated and stay on top of things.

4. Not Setting Goals & Lack of Organization

Setting goals is important because it allows you to actively track your progress while seeing what you may need to work on. If you get into a new workout routine without documenting your weight or measurements beforehand, it may be hard to notice any difference.

The best way to start achieving (and noticing) your results is to set very specific goals. If you want to lose weight, document how many pounds that you want to lose, if you want to build muscle, specify which muscle group and create a plan of action. Always be organized and honest with yourself so that you know exactly what you want and how you can accomplish it!

5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

And lastly- unhealthy lifestyle habits! Living a healthy lifestyle means eating at regular times, not eating late, not drinking alcohol excessively, getting adequate sleep etc. Yes, working out and generally eating healthy is amazing and a step in the right direction, but it’s so important to follow healthy habits as well for your general well being!

This means making sure you meet all of your nutritional requirements, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and avoiding things that cause you to feel stressed. The reality is that these things can be triggers for you to overeat and therefore throw off your results. For example, if you didn’t get enough sleep, you may eat something sugary the next day to keep you awake. Or if you are going through an emotionally stressful time in your life, you may over indulge in sweets.

Setting boundaries, being organized and staying consistent are all great ways to start developing a healthier way of living!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Be sure to follow me on my other social networks for more health & fitness content โœจ

Sources

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

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 08(02), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

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

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

Recipes

No Bake Apple Peanut Butter Protein Bites

One of my favourite snacks to make are my apple peanut butter protein bites! Peanut butter is a great source of protein, while apples contain a healthy amount of fiber which will keep you feeling full for longer! ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ

Not to mention, my protein bites contain absolutely no preservatives, artificial colourants or flavours like most store bought granola bars. Even energy bars marketed as “healthy” contain an unnecessary amount of sugars and “natural flavours” which aren’t always vegan friendly.

I also love that they’re no bake and only take about 10 minutes to make!

Here’s what you need:

  • 4 apples
  • 2 cups large flake oats
  • 1 generous tablespoon of natural peanut butter
  • 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
  • About 2 tablespoons seed mix (I used flax and chia)
  • Cinnamon (optional)

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Serving size: makes about 12 energy bites

Directions:

  1. Start by grating the apples using a grater.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the grated apples, large flake oats, peanut butter, maple syrup and seed mix. Mix using your hands.
  3. Form mixture into about 12 bite sized balls and put aside on a plate.
  4. Sprinkle with cinnamon- all done!

Quick Tips:

  • Store in your fridge for up to 3 days to enjoy whenever you want to snack!
  • You can also use other seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin or even walnuts! Make sure to just have fun with it and customize your bites to just the way you’d like! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Be sure to subscribe to my blog and follow me on Instagram for more recipes & healthy lifestyle tips! โœจ

Healthy Living

A Quick Guide on Unhealthy Children’s Snacks

Does anyone else find it alarming that the most unhealthy foods are marketed for children? With colourful packaging and cartoon characters featured on the front, itโ€™s really hard to see past marketing and labelling sometimes!

But the sad reality is that the snacks that parents trust in the most are high in sugars, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. These ingredients have a list of negative side effects in children such as hyperactivity, behavioural changes and an increased risk of childhood obesity.

So today I wanted to write a quick blog on some common marketing tactics, daily recommended intakes for children, snacks to avoid and ways to incorporate healthier eating into your lifestyle!

Common Marketing Tactics

Let’s start by looking at some common marketing tactics in food and snacks intended for children.

Bright Colours:

Primary colours such as red, yellow and blue, as well as secondary colours green, orange and purple are more appealing to children than neutral shades. As children try to make sense of their environment, objects that are bright are more stimulating and interesting. This is why food and beverage companies as well as the toy industry use bright colours on their products.

Cartoon Characters:

Did you know that companies spend over $12 billion dollars a year trying to convince children to consume their products? And one of the most effective strategies is to attach a popular children’s character such as Shrek to the packaging! A recent study was conducted where children were presented with food in plain packaging and packaging that contained a licensed cartoon character such as Dora. The children consistently preferred the product with the character on it than the plain packaging.

This just goes to show you that food packaging has a huge influence on children and their perception of how a product may taste.

Games and Activities on the back

Almost all cereals have a game on the back such as connect the dots, mazes, match ups and even fun facts. This attracts children and stimulates different areas in the brain associated with happiness. In turn, this conditions them to enjoy the food more because it provides entertainment.

Daily Intake Requirements

Below you will find the daily recommended intake of sugar and sodium because they are often the main culprit in making children’s snacks completely unhealthy!

Snacks and Foods to Avoid

So now that we’ve talked about marketing strategies and daily intake requirements, let’s look at some foods that are advertised to children that contain absolutely no nutritional value ๐Ÿ™…๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

Goldfish

Goldfish is a big one! Advertised as a snack made with real cheese that contains vitamins & minerals, Goldfish are nothing but a result of good marketing- these snacks are anything but nutritious! Just one serving contains 250 mg of sodium and over 20 synthetic ingredients. Any food item that contains a list of ingredients on the back is a big no-no!

Not to mention, diets that are high in sodium are associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Eating a lot of salt is also associated with weight gain because it causes the body to retain more water which can show up as extra pounds on the scale. 

So if you’re looking for a healthy, nutritious snack that will provide your child with energy- Goldfish are not the right choice! Be sure to read on for some much healthier alternatives for your little ones โ˜บ๏ธ

“Fruit” Snacks

It’s no secret that fruit roll ups, fruit gushers and gummies are unhealthy. These “fruit” snacks typically advertise that they contain real fruit juice, while failing to mention that they contain a list of other ingredients such as synthetic colouring, artificial flavouring and corn syrup. Take Welch’s fruit snacks as the perfect example, they really try to gain consumers trust by advertising that fruit is their #1 ingredient. However, as you can see, just one packet also contains 11 grams of sugars, corn syrup and even red 40– a toxic colourant that has many known adverse effects.

High amounts of sugar in your child’s diet can lead to obesity which increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes later in life. Consuming too much sugar is also linked to behavioural changes such as hyperactivity or depression.

Never be fooled by “fruit” snacks, buying the real fruit is much healthier and cheaper in most cases!

Granola Bars

A lot of parents believe that granola bars are a healthy choice because they contain ingredients such as oats, nuts and dried fruit. However, most granola bars contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and other ingredients. For example, just one Quaker Chewy S’mores Bar contains 6 grams of sugar… but that’s not even the worst part! One bar also contains 25+ ingredients! One granola bar should never contain a list of ingredients. Also, most companies add in chocolate chips, marshmallows and cookie bits which make granola bars more of a dessert bar than anything else.

Creating healthy habits early in a child’s life is so important because it’s what determines their health in the long run! You can start by limiting sugar intake by avoiding overly processed snacks and foods at the grocery store.

Juice Boxes

Juice boxes are commonly packed with lunch because they’re thought to be a healthier option than pop or soda. But juice boxes also contain high amounts of sugar, artificial colourants and very little real fruit juice. Take Minute Maid Apple Juice for example, one box (only 250 ml) contains 21 grams of sugar. So if your child has two at recess or on lunch break, they are consuming 42 grams of sugar all at once which is already 2x the recommended intake amount!

No wonder many children are thought to suffer from “behavioural” issues- they are just experiencing side effects associated with consuming high amounts of sugar, sodium and other foreign chemicals in their developing systems. Sugar crashes reduce concentration, mental focus, memory and often cause emotional outbursts or tantrums.

Developing Healthy Habits

Don’t feel bad if you buy these snacks or feel discouraged if they’re all your child is willing to eat. The cool thing about children is that they are so open minded and can have lots of fun with any activity if you make it fun! Here are three simple ways that you can encourage your child to eat healthier.

Bake or cook once a week together

Most young children love anything that is hands-on. Try baking together once a week to add some fun into your lifestyle while incorporating healthier eating! This can include making pasta, salads, fresh bread, sushi or even gingerbread cookies for a special occasion! If you’re not sure how to let your little one be more involved in the kitchen, ask them to measure simple ingredients or help to mix everything together. The key is to make a healthy meal to enjoy together later while creating new memories. Children are a lot more likely to eat a meal that they helped to prepare! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Make fun shapes out of fruits and veggies

Okay so we now know that children are more drawn to brightly coloured objects and their favourite cartoon characters. So, try doing the same thing with fruits and veggies- make cool shapes that will draw your child in! You can make apple butterflies, a banana elephant or even go all out and create a full scene on the plate! You can really get creative here and even go a step further and ask your child to create a scene with you. The goal is to make healthy eating a positive and fun experience!

Create your own trail mix together

Instead of packing an unhealthy granola bar, make your own trail mix together and give it a cool name! You can go to a bulk store in your area and buy different kinds of nuts, seeds and dried fruits. When you get home, mix it all together and store it in a mason jar or container and pack it with lunch! Nuts and seeds contain lots of vital nutrients, vitamins and are a great way to boost brain power. You can even add in a few chocolate chips, pretzels or candied nuts to make it more tasty! โ˜บ๏ธ

Takeaway

The main reason why I wanted to write this blog is to show just how unhealthy most foods are that are marketed for children. I want parents to start seeing past marketing and to start seeing foods for what they usually are- cheap, unhealthy and unnecessary in any child’s diet. The simplest foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables will always provide more nutrients than something that has been extensively processed. It’s so important to realize how much money goes into targeting children’s food choices, so the best thing you can do is create a fun experience out of healthy eating!

I really hope you got something from this blog! As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.

Stay healthy and stay glowing! โœจ


Sources

Adcock, M. (2018, February 04). Why Are Children Drawn to Bright Colors?: Bicultural Mama. Retrieved from https://www.biculturalmama.com/2018/02/children-drawn-bright-colors.html

Cox, L. (2013, May 30). Why Is Too Much Salt Bad for You? Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/36256-salt-bad-health.html

Kubala, J. (2018, June 03). 11 Reasons Why Too Much Sugar Is Bad for You. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/too-much-sugar

Reducing Sodium in Children’s Diets. (2018, September 05). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/children-sodium/index.html

Sugar Recommendation Healthy Kids and Teens Infographic. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-recommendation-healthy-kids-and-teens-infographic

nutrition

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! โšก๏ธ

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 โœจ

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! ๐Ÿฅณ

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.

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! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

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 ๐ŸŒฑ

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 ๐Ÿ˜‹

Check out my Breakfast Smoothie blog for three different healthy and tasty smoothies that you can try tomorrow morning! ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผโ˜€๏ธ

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 ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿผ

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 โ˜บ๏ธ


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! โ˜€๏ธ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Thank you so much for reading and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more healthy eating posts ๐ŸŒฑ

Recipes

Healthy & Delicious Juicing Recipes

I recently posted a blog on how to eat healthy on a budget, so today I wanted to share 3 healthy, delicious and affordable juice recipes that you can make at home!

Drinking fresh fruit juice has several health benefits which include boosting your immune system, promoting digestion and aiding weight loss. Many people’s concern when it comes to using a juicer is that the fiber is lost, however juicing is a great way to cleanse your body with high amounts of concentrated nutrients!

Here are three different juice recipes that not only taste great, but are amazing for your health!

1. Green Cucumber Cleanse Juice

This juice is great for detoxifying and cleansing your body ๐Ÿฅ’๐Ÿ๐Ÿโœจ

Cucumbers are a great source of antioxidants and minerals that keep you hydrated while promoting healthy digestion. Pineapple provides a tangy sweetness that combats inflammation and also aids in detoxifying the body. While the ginger provides a nice warming effect to boost immunity and neutralize the cooling effect of the other fruits. This juice will leave you feeling amazing, while nourishing your skin, hair and digestive system!

2. Ruby Red Antioxidant Beet Juice

This juice is great for your blood, cardiovascular system and liver ๐Ÿ’ช๐Ÿผ๐Ÿฅ•๐Ÿ‹โœจ

Not to be mistaken with radishes, beets are the red root vegetables responsible for the beautiful red pigment seen in this juice. Drinking beet juice has several health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and improving exercise stamina. Beets also contain betaine which support your liver by preventing fatty deposits from forming! And, this juice is perfectly sweet with the addition of carrot and lemon to neutralize the earthy flavour from the beets. Try drinking this juice in the morning to wake up your senses and promote healthy organ function!

3. Orange Carrot Carotenoid Juice

This juice benefits eye health, boosts immunity and promotes the look of healthy skin ๐Ÿฅ•๐ŸŽ โœจ

Carrot juice is amazing for your skin because it contains Vitamin C and Provitamin A which protect your skin from free radical damage. Carrots also contain carotenoids which support eye health, boost immunity and promote liver health. Whereas the apples provide a nice sweetness that also reduce oxidative damage. The turmeric is great for reducing inflammation, redness and promoting the look of healthy skin. Needless to say, this juice will give you a beautiful natural glow!


Other common fruits and veggies that you can use for juicing:

  • Fruits: strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, grapefruit, oranges, papaya, mango, banana
  • Vegetables: celery, kale, spinach, leafy greens, parsley, cilantro, green & red pepper

Thank you so much for taking the time to check out my favourite juice recipes! Check out more recipes here and be sure to follow my Instagram page for updates!

Stay healthy and stay glowing โœจ

nutrition

Tips & Tricks for Healthy Eating on a Budget

Healthy eating is one of those things that many people may assume is expensive- but the reality is that it’s actually pretty affordable! As someone who has been plant based for 5+ years, I’ve had to navigate my way through different grocery stores to find fresh fruits, vegetables and other health foods. And let me tell you- I’ve learned a lot!

I used to spend a decent amount of money on foods like veggie burgers, fruit juices or even salad mixes but was finding that I was coming home with barely any food. When I got into reading ingredients on labels, I realized that most foods advertised as healthy literally costed pennies to make which inspired me to start buying ingredients rather than pre-made foods.

So today I decided to write a blog on some tips to help you make healthier choices at the grocery store on a budget!

1. Write out a list of recipes beforehand

One of the best ways to stay on budget and preplan healthy meals is to write down a list of recipes you would like to have throughout the week! I start by writing out the days of the week and what I plan on making each day. I then break down each recipe into ingredients that I will need- it’s the perfect way to buy the exact amount of everything without being wasteful!

For example, you could have black bean burgers for lunch one day this week, which would require you to buy basic ingredients such as black beans, soy sauce, onions and garlic which don’t cost very much. And same goes for writing down a recipe such as chickpea tuna– all you really need are chickpeas, some seaweed and plant based mayo which can be found at most grocery stores. The main thing is to start being mindful of the foods you buy, what you spend and what you’re choosing to eat weekly!

2. Get familiar with your local grocery stores

Another great way to eat healthy on a budget is to become familiar with your local grocery stores. There are certain stores that I would never buy produce from because it’s much too expensive (such as Sobeys, Metro or Loblaws) unless I really needed to. And other stores that I do most of my shopping at such as Fresh Co and No Frills. It’s important to get to know which stores are near you and becoming comfortable with the idea of shopping at multiple shops to find the best deals!

This also allows you to compare pricing. You’ll get used to to seeing the price point of foods you typically buy and allows you to spend more consciously!

3. Do the majority of your shopping in the fresh fruits and vegetables section

The reality is that the grocery store is full of processed foods and health items that claim to be good for you when you don’t need them to stay healthy. If you’re really looking to adapt to a healthy lifestyle, 80% of your grocery shopping should be done in the fresh fruits and vegetables section where most things are only a few dollars a pound. You can get a decent amount of bananas for $2.00 or a bag of carrots for less than $3.00!

I typically buy vegetables such as eggplants, onion, garlic, tomatoes, avocados, mushrooms and others, and it doesn’t cost very much. I also buy fresh fruits such as apples, bananas and oranges because they’re always in season and generally affordable! But as I mentioned, get familiar with your local grocery stores and check around for deals. You never know- maybe the bananas are cheaper at one store but the apples are cheaper at another!

4. Buy more beans and lentils

I’ve talked about the health benefits of black beans, lentils and even chickpeas in recent blogs but they’re also a great way to save money- they’re such a cheap health food! Packed with plant proteins and vital nutrients, beans are an amazing addition to your diet. There are two varieties: dried or canned. Dried beans are much cheaper but take longer to cook if you don’t have a pressure cooker. Whereas canned beans cost a little bit more, but still very affordable and are ready to use in recipes right away!

Whatever variety you choose, beans are a great addition to your diet and are affordable either way. I personally love dried lentils because they don’t take nearly as long to make as dried beans but are just as nutritious!

5. Check the price tab to compare pricing

A lot of people don’t know this (or maybe I just learned this late ๐Ÿ˜…) but the price tabs at the grocery story actually have a breakdown of price per weight. If you look closely under the price, you will see how many grams or millilitres an item is, plus how much it costs per weight/volume.

I find this particularly useful for bulk items to see if it’s actually worth it! A lot of the time when bulk items are on sale, it’s not much cheaper to buy more or the bigger size. And the little fine print under the price is the perfect way to find out!

I know this seems like pennies, but it’s honestly a great way to reduce your grocery bill and cut costs. We all know that things add up but taking the time to read pricing is a great way to make sure you’re putting your money to good use.

And above all: read ingredients

This one is important- if you’re looking to make healthier choices, always read the labels of anything you buy! I typically only buy items such as natural peanut butter, baking items and cooking seasonings but I always check the ingredients first. Knowing what you put into your body is a huge step to better health and allows you to be a more conscious consumer.

If you feel lost, keep in mind that most foods shouldn’t contain a list of ingredients and preservatives! You can also check out my blog on reading ingredients here.

Other helpful tips:

  • Avoid shopping when you’re hungry. I know this sounds ridiculously simple but it’s the best way to avoid impulse buys.
  • Avoid buying soft drinks, juices or pop. Making your own juice at home is much cheaper and healthier!
  • Don’t be afraid to buy ahead: if the avocados aren’t ripe yet but they’re a good price, buy them and ripen them by your window. Chances are the price will increase once they’re ready to use.

Takeaway:

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog on healthy eating! I hope that I inspired you to make some healthier choices this week because all it really takes is a bit of will power โ˜บ๏ธ

Be sure to follow my Instagram page for updates and check out my other blog posts here. โ˜€๏ธ