Healthy Living

My Life Story: Becoming the best version of myself

Hey guys! I have been having so much fun creating content, researching nutrition and writing blogs on various health topics that I’m interested in. But I thought now would be a great time to tell you about my life and my story. This is my first time really opening up about certain things in my life on social media and I hope that I can inspire someone who may be going through something similar. Because honestly, if I overcame depression in some of the darkest points of my life, I know that you can too!

The interesting thing is when you go on someone’s social media profile, it’s easy to assume their life is perfect because social media only shows the happy (and edited) moments of peoples lives. Most people don’t openly talk about their struggles or what they’ve had to go through to get to where they are today. But I want to change that, about myself at least. I am going to share my experiences and what led me to become who I am today. Because the tough times that I went through really helped me learn, grow and have hope that everything does in fact happen for a reason.

Unhealthy family relationships and grieving…

When I was 15, my father passed away very suddenly. It was extremely scary because he did not have any health complications, and it all happened in the span of one morning. My mom, my sisters and I were all devastated and in a state of shock for months. During that time, my sisters and I had to plan my dads funeral which to this day was the hardest thing that I have ever done. We didn’t have time to grieve, or be upset, we only had time to try and plan things the way that my dad would have liked.

My dad owned his own construction company and worked so hard. He woke up every single weekday at 5:00 AM to do jobs and sometimes wouldn’t be home until 10 at night. He made sure to provide my mom, my sisters and I with everything we could have ever imagined. Money was never a problem, and I strive to work as hard as he did. I am going to make him so proud.

I can honestly say that in that time, I lost a part of myself that I know I will never get back. Even looking back as a 24 year old now, I really wonder how I did it at 15. I was only in grade 10, and within a few weeks I started failing more and more classes. I barely made any friends in high school because I was so depressed. So many people spread rumours about me while I was away and I had teachers commenting on my situation while I was in class.

Luckily, I had my boyfriend and he was a nice distraction from everything going on in my life. My boyfriend and I met one year before my dad passed away, and he was really there for me throughout the whole funeral process. He made sure to always provide me with comfort and support, and to this day I love that he helped me through such a tough time. We were both only 15 when this happened, and he took it upon himself to make sure I was okay.

In terms of getting support from my mom and my two older sisters, I felt almost embarrassed to talk to them about how I felt. My father passing away really affected them and they refused to get any sort of help. They spiraled down a really bad path and became very toxic towards me. I had my mom tell me that my dad never loved me and that I didn’t even know him, which really hurt me. At the time, I let them emotionally abuse me because I knew they were acting out of a place of hurt. I’m also the youngest in my family, and speaking up was definitely not an option.

About a year after my dad passed away, my mom and sisters ended up kicking me out of my house. I was blamed for their depression and anxiety and I was told that they would be better off without me. I was sent out in the middle of the night while it was pouring rain, and my boyfriend ended up meeting me at a McDonald’s. It really was a life defining night. I ended up at my best friends house, and stayed there for a few weeks. I still tried my best to go to school everyday but had no motivation to really do anything. I missed my dad, and I missed the way that my family used to be.

After about a month of living at my friends house, I ended up having to go back home. When I went home, I asked my family if they wanted to do counselling with me, but was told that my relationship with them wasn’t worth it. Me going back home gave my mom and sisters every bit of power that they wanted over me. I didn’t have privacy and was put down on a daily basis.

Losing Everything

Shortly after, we ended up losing our house and our car because we were failing to make payments on things that my dad got us. We moved into this small, old house in a lower class neighbourhood and things really did get progressively worse.

The emotional abuse was starting to turn into physical abuse. All of my birthdays started getting ignored and I was treated as if I wasn’t apart of my family anymore. A lot of it was because my mom and sisters assumed that I had my boyfriend, and I didn’t need them which is just ridiculous. Of course I needed them, and I tried my absolute hardest to include them in my life.

I continued living each day, but never felt genuinely happy. I was depressed, anxious and constantly on the verge of crying. I felt so lost and like nothing I did was ever good enough. If I did something wrong, I would have my mom and sisters behind me to harshly judge me and then give me the silent treatment for weeks. It took a huge emotional toll on me and I always felt left out. This sense of “not belonging” followed me every day and I felt so uncomfortable in social situations because of it. I started to judge myself the same way that they were judging me, and really started to dislike who I was as a person. I assumed the things they were saying about me were right.

Maybe me being interested in things like diet and nutrition was pointless. And maybe social media was a waste of my time. And what if everyone does think I’m stupid? I began emotionally abusing myself more than anything.

Getting kicked out

Like I said, things were getting worse and worse. My older sister had physically attacked me on multiple occasions and my stuff was getting stolen while I was at school. I accepted everything because I didn’t know that many people and felt trapped more than anything.

It wasn’t until the day that my mom decided to physically attack me that I decided it was time to go.

After getting in another dumb argument, I had my mom grab me by my arms and try to throw me out of my house in front of my sisters. I was so embarrassed and still remember my mom trying to provoke me to fight her back. It was really shocking because I watched her go from a loving mom, to someone who was overcome with depression and hate for me. It hurt. I locked myself in my room and had my two sisters banging on my door threatening that they would call the police on me if I didn’t leave.

I was only 20, I had no idea how to move out or really how to do anything. It was also my final week of exams at George Brown College and if I failed, I could lose everything. I was so scared but I knew that it was time.

Moving on from my family

I moved into my boyfriends house because I had no other choice at the time. It was so difficult for both of us because it was still exam week, and we could not afford to fail any classes. Luckily, our hard work paid off and we ended up passing everything, but it was not easy. I was literally crying every night, I even tried going back “home” a few times to try and apologize, only to be turned away. I brought my mom pink roses, because that was her favourite colour but none of my efforts were noticed.

At that age, I was only apologizing because I was deeply depressed, I had just lost my dad to a sudden death and I could not emotionally deal with losing my family as well. It’s crazy to think that my older sisters actually looked me in the eyes and turned me away now that I think of it. I would personally never treat any family of mine in such away, but to each their own.

After about three months, my boyfriends parents ended up helping me get a nice studio apartment. We rented a moving truck and drove to my old house to pick everything up. I wasn’t surprised to find all of my belongings on my old street including my mattress on the pavement with my sheets still on it with my clothes and shoes scattered everywhere. All of my old neighbours watched as I grabbed my things and I knew that they were told a different version of the story, but I had to just move on. Now wasn’t the time to worry about what people thought of me, I had to just move on.

I got into my new place and I honestly loved it. I finally had a safe space, privacy and somewhere that I could call my own. My boyfriend and I decorated it nicely with what we had, but we honestly had no money. We owed his family money for the apartment, and I also had to pay some stuff off from when I lived at home.

Luckily, I am First Nations which means that I can receive a three year sponsorship for any program I choose. I chose the Traditional Chinese Medicine program because I always loved natural health and nutrition, and I was also greatly inspired by my dad. I knew that I would be able to make a difference in the world and also help people get back on track in terms of health.

The sponsorship is really what allowed me to study what I loved. At that time, there was no way that I could afford a college education. It really motivated me and helped me gain the knowledge that I currently have.

I started the Traditional Chinese Medicine program in 2016 and at the time I had no family, no friends and no idea of what I wanted my future to be. I travelled to campus every single day which was a 2 hour commute, and tried my hardest to stay on top of things. But I was depressed, anxious and confused. I was falling apart inside and worrying about my grades didn’t make it any better.

What I gained from my experience…

Looking back now, I am shocked by what my own family put me through in my teen years and early adulthood, but I am so thankful that I didn’t give up!

I graduated from my program this year and I even started my own business to inspire people. It definitely was a long and emotionally difficult journey, but it was so worth it.

Honestly, it sounds cliche but the best lessons in life are free: the tough times, the heartbreaks, losing everything, feeling broken. Because in those times it’s then that you have to pick yourself back up. You realize that it’s you and only you. And although that thought may seem scary, it’s actually quite liberating!

I no longer care nearly as much about what people think of me because no one will ever be able to hurt me the way my family did, and from that I now have strength.

I started meditating, becoming more spiritual and reflecting inwards. If I felt anxious, upset or depressed, I started finding the root for my emotions. Of course, the majority of them stemmed from my past but knowing this allowed me to properly confront them and heal. Knowing my weaknesses, allowed me to also know my strengths.

I started liking who I was again. I know that I am smart, I know that I am heard and I know that the way that my family treated me was because they were hurt. I don’t have to let any of those times define me, because they don’t. If anything they make me stronger.

We all hold so much power inside of us. And I know that the school system or good times in life will never teach us or define us the way that the bad times can. I have learned that when you go through something difficult, you should take a step back and ask yourself what the situation is teaching you instead of letting it emotionally affect you.

Don’t become the emotion, observe it.

Every single thing we go through is teaching us something whether we see it or not.

We have to go through certain events to become the people that we are today. These events are what shapes us and makes us more empathetic, less judgemental and more understanding.

If you erase the pain and difficulty of your past, you also erase all of the knowledge that you gained from it. My life events shaped me into who I am today.

I have found what it’s like to be happy and most importantly I have found myself. I would never let anyone treat me the way that I was treated before, and I would never treat others the way that I was treated!

Takeaway

It’s been about 5 years and my family has still not reached out to me after kicking me out of their lives. For a while, I spent every day hoping that one of them would contact me. But I have moved on. I no longer need people like that in my life and I am better off without them. I’ve met so many amazing people since then who actually respect me as a person.



Thank you so much for taking the time to read about my life story and my personal experiences. It took me quite some time to write this blog because it has a lot of emotion in it, but I really hope it inspired you in some way!

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.


Healthy Living

How to Become More Motivated

We’ve all been there- feeling unmotivated and drained at times. However, if you don’t push yourself to accomplish your goals and achieve your dream life, no one will. It’s so important to be motivated, set goals for yourself and make sure that you are always on top of things. You have to be your number one supporter and really believe in yourself!

I know that it’s definitely easier said than done, however I know that you have the will power and drive to make changes in your life that will positively benefit you. The sacrifices and time it takes to design a better life is well worth it, trust me! I’ve learned that being motivated can attract better things and better people into your life, and you may even be able to inspire others along the way 🙂

Here are 5 tips that help me stay motivated and achieve my goals:

1. Write down 3 goals each morning

Okay so this is actually so important! Checking your phone when you first wake up is so damaging to your mental health and your mind. We are so impressionable in the mornings, meaning that if we get a message with bad news or a mean photo comment, it’s really going to affect our morning and possibly slow us down. The best thing to do is wake up, make yourself a nice smoothie or lemon water and write down 3 things that you would really like to accomplish in the day.

Whether it’s doing your laundry, or practicing a hobby- it will get you further than not setting goals for yourself. Just imagine where you could be in six months if you started accomplishing just 3 tasks daily!

2. Align your lifestyle with your goals

When I started this blog three months ago, I was still doing things that were setting me back. For example, watching Netflix at night before bed. It seems harmless, but the 45 minutes spent watching Dragon’s Den, could have been spent on my brand and my life instead.

That’s when I started aligning my life with my long-term goals. Instead of watching TV at night, I started brainstorming ideas for future blogs and posts. This simple switch made a huge difference in my life because it made me value my time above anything else. So take it from me, if you spend your time wisely you will value it a lot more.

3. Practice being more grateful, positive and thankful

Seeing the glass as half full rather than half empty is just a better mindset to have. The interesting thing about our mentalities is that we get to choose how we feel in certain situations. Instead of feeling frustrated that you haven’t advanced as much as you’d like in 2 weeks, be grateful with the progress that you did make. Each time you find yourself frustrated or stressed, take a step back and really ask yourself why you feel this way.

Confronting your feelings and stopping any negativity in its tracks is a great way to re-wire your brain and become more mindful in the future. I’ve always said that a negative mind cannot give you a positive life!

4. Work hard and always keep your progress private

The sad reality is that not everyone is going to be happy for you when you start accomplishing more and doing better. Keeping your future goals and current progress to yourself is important because you do not want to allow the energies of others to affect your motivation or ambition. For example, if you tell your friend that you are starting a new blog and they don’t act super happy for you, you may start to doubt yourself. Whether you realize it on a conscious level or not, this affects you and can easily de-motivate you.

Keep your progress to yourself and keep working hard. Like I said, you are your main supporter!

5. Network and make it happen!

Connect with like-minded individuals and make it happen! If you’re into health, start following health related accounts or local gyms on your social media. If you’re into music, start following local artists or musicians. You would be surprised by how many amazing people you can actually meet through Instagram. I personally reach out to a lot of accounts, and it’s so cool when you meet someone who shares similarities. If this intimidates you, ask yourself what do you have to lose versus what do you have to gain from reaching out to others online?

It’s a great way to connect, get inspired and push yourself even further. When you start surrounding yourself with better people, you too will be able to better yourself.

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

 

fitness, nutrition

Vitamin B12 Basics & Mass Supplementation in Livestock

We have all heard about Vitamin B12 and have possibly asked someone following a vegan diet where they get their B12 from. However, many people don’t actually know where B12 is made, how we obtain B12, and how much we should consume based on the scientific consensus. Thus, I have decided to write a blog on a few key points on this very important vitamin. 

What is Vitamin B12?

Vitamin B12 also known as Cobalamin is a water-soluble vitamin that plays a very important role in many bodily functions. Vitamin B12 is one of eight B vitamins, and is involved in keeping the body’s nerves & red blood cells healthy and even helps in making DNA. This vitamin is only produced by a few organisms such as bacteria and archaea (single celled organisms similar to bacteria).

These organisms were commonly found in grass, soil, and water streams. Usually the B12 producing bacteria are eaten by cows and other animals grazing on the fresh grass. Once eaten, the bacteria resides in the cow’s digestive system (specifically in the gut, or stomach) and produces vitamin B12 as a by-product from its metabolism. This molecule is essential for cows and other grazing animals. However, this beautiful and natural process is not very common anymore. 

Industrialization and factory farming have completely changed this natural process in order to maximize profit, and dominate the food market. So, the tiny little organisms previously mentioned, are not part of this process anymore, the fresh grass and pure water are also not in the picture anymore either.

B12 And Supplementation in Livestock

In order to sustain the dietary need for Vitamin B12, a new process needed to be created called supplementation. The majority of animal products purchased today are now supplemented with B12 in their animal feed, and/or through injectable B12. Crazy right?  

Supplementation is now required because animals used for food do not have access to fresh air, grass or water. Even if livestock is “free-range” or raised outside, there is a lack of Cobalt in the soil which is crucial for the tiny little organisms to survive. Fields that contain less than 2ppm of Cobalt are deemed unfit for grazing and therefore Vitamin B12 is supplemented into animal feed or injected directly.

It is crucial for people to understand that everyone who consumes animal products is indirectly supplementing with B12, without even knowing it!

There is nothing wrong with supplementation of B12. In fact, the Institution of Medicine has recommended anyone who is vegan, vegetarian or over 50 to directly supplement with B vitamins. However, this does not mean that you should recycle all of the stuff added into animal feed in your body to enjoy the benefits of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 derived from animal products also comes with all of the harmful factors found in meat. Therefore, you can limit your intake of animal products containing added B12, and instead you can add fortified foods like soy milk (full of phystoestrogens) or nutritional yeast to your diet which are more pure ways to get your daily dose.

Vitamin B12 is crucial for us, this tiny little molecule helps red blood cell formation, aids in neurological functions, DNA production, and many other physiological processes. Thus, we need B12 to be present in our diets and everyday lives in order to achieve optimal health. 

Nutritional Yeast: A Natural & Healthy Way to obtain B12

Nutritional yeast is a great way to naturally get your daily dose of B12. Nutritional yeast is a kind of yeast that’s grown specifically to be used in food products and has a cheesy, nutty flavour. I personally love it and use it on everything! Not only does it add flavour to foods & sauces, it also has many health benefits:

  • It contains so many B vitamins! One tablespoon of nutritional yeast contains 30-80% of the RDI (reference daily intake) for B vitamins.
  • It’s a complete protein. That’s right- just one tablespoon has 2 grams of protein and all nine essential amino acids!
  • It contains lots of trace minerals. Trace minerals are important because they aid in gene regulation, growth, immunity & metabolism. One tablespoon contains 2-30% RDI of trace minerals such as zinc, selenium and manganese.

I usually get nutritional yeast from a bulk food store such as bulk barn because that’s where it’s the cheapest!

Recommended Daily Intake

The National Institute of Health recommends that adults (over 14) should consume about 2.4 mcg of vitamin B12, pregnant woman 2.6 mcg, and breastfeeding woman 2.8 mcg.

However, Dietary B12 supplements usually in the form of Cyanocobalamin are not totally absorbed when consumed, for example only 10-mcg of a 500-mcg oral supplement is actually absorbed by our bodies. So don’t get spooked out by the large dosages advertised on the tablets because Vitamin B12 is water soluble, meaning that any extra B12 in your body will be excreted through urination.  

However, vitamin deficiencies are very common and many of us may be deficient without even knowing it. 

Vitamin B12 deficiencies are commonly associated with anemia, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss. Other side effects of B12 deficiencies may be numbness and tingling in feet, depression, confusion, poor memory, and various others. However, People deficient of B12 can be treated with B12 injections in order to increase the vitamin absorption in the body.

The main reason why people become Vitamin B12 deficient is because of inadequate absorption. Older adults who suffer from digestive conditions such as Atrophic Gastritis typically have difficulty absorbing vitamins & nutrients due to a lack of stomach acid, thus, B12 deficiencies are more common amongst older individuals. People who have been diagnosed with intestinal conditions such as Crohn’s and Celiac disease also have difficulties absorbing vitamin B12 from their diets. That’s why direct supplementation of B12 from fortified foods and B12 oral supplements are the best remedies for a diet with low levels of B12 absorption. 


Sources

Bernhardt, C., Zhu, X., SchĂĽtz, D., Fischer, M., & Bisping, B. (2019). Cobalamin is produced by Acetobacter pasteurianus DSM 3509. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology,103(9), 3875-3885. doi:10.1007/s00253-019-09704-3

Rizzo, G., LaganĂ , A., Rapisarda, A., Ferrera, G. L., Buscema, M., Rossetti, P., . . . Vitale, S. (2016). Vitamin B12 among Vegetarians: Status, Assessment and Supplementation. Nutrients,8(12), 767. doi:10.3390/nu8120767

Herbert, V. (1988). Vitamin B-12: Plant sources, requirements, and assay. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,48(3), 852-858. doi:10.1093/ajcn/48.3.852

Vitamin B-12. (2017, October 17). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-vitamin-b12/art-20363663

Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, and Choline. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1998.

Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/#en12

Vitamin B12. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.dsm.com/markets/anh/en_US/Compendium/ruminants/vitamin_B12.html

fitness, 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

nutrition

Negative Effects of Drinking Coffee & Natural Ways to Boost Energy

Coffee is the most popular beverage in the world with over 400 billion cups being consumed each year. It is estimated that over 50% of the American population over the age of 18 consumes coffee daily- that’s 150 million people drinking coffee every single day! You may think of coffee as one of those things that isn’t that bad for you, but it does have an impact on your natural ability to stay awake and focused. Not to mention, buying a coffee or two everyday eventually adds up and becomes an unnecessary expense over time.

Let’s talk about some negative side effects that are associated with consuming coffee on a regular basis, and then explore some healthier alternatives!

Caffeine works on the Central Nervous System (CNS) and is classified as a drug. Because caffeine stimulates the CNS, it’s classified as a “Stimulant”. Stimulants typically increase mental alertness and energy levels by elevating heart rate, blood sugar, blood pressure and constricting blood vessels. The energizing effects of caffeine usually last 2-5 hours which later result in withdrawal symptoms or an energy crash. It’s important to note that most drugs have addictive qualities and it’s best to manage your consumption when it comes to caffeinated drinks or snack foods.

Consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime has been proven to substantially reduce amount of sleep. One of the most common side effects associated with stimulants is that they have a negative impact on your sleep schedule. A study found that drinking a cup of coffee 6 hours before bedtime has significant disruptive effects on sleep and reduces the amount of sleep time. This means that if you go to bed at around 10:00 pm, it’s best to not drink a cup of coffee past 4:00 pm, otherwise it may result in insomnia related symptoms.

There are many general side effects associated with consuming caffeine daily. These side effects include headaches, sleepiness, low energy levels, mood swings and feeling shaky or jittery throughout the day.


Now let’s talk about some healthier alternatives to get more energy throughout the day that won’t affect your sleep schedule.

Drink a banana smoothie in the morning

Banana smoothies are loaded with vitamins, minerals and electrolytes. Drinking a banana smoothie every morning is a great way to naturally boost energy and activate your metabolism. Bananas are high in potassium, and contain three naturally occurring sugars- sucrose, fructose & glucose. Because bananas are also high in fiber, glucose levels are sustained in blood which provides a steady source of energy for a longer period of time! This means no coffee crash!

Try Drinking Ginseng Tea

If you genuinely enjoy drinking something warm in the morning or throughout the day, try drinking ginseng tea instead of coffee. Ginseng is an excellent herb for tonifying your energy or your Qi. It’s a great alternative to drinking coffee because it has been proven to effectively fight fatigue and naturally boost energy levels. Not to mention, ginseng is full of beneficial vitamins and minerals! Drinking ginseng tea has many other favourable health benefits too such as powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, improving brain function and boosting the immune system.

Take a cold shower when you wake up. I know this sounds dreadful, but many studies actually suggest that taking a cold shower is a great way to wake yourself up. Cold showers increase mental alertness, reduce stress and promote weight loss. If you have trouble waking up in the morning, try running a cool shower and focusing on your breathing. You’ll feel so fresh and revitalized when you get out!

Focus on your diet & nutrition. A lot of people feel tired throughout the day because they are not getting adequate nutrients. Snacking on foods such as apples, strawberries, oranges and berries is a great way to get nutrition and boost energy at the same time. In the long run, make sure that your meals are nutritious and avoid eating out!


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog post! I hope that I inspired you to be more conscious of what you consume daily and make healthier choices!

Healthy Living

5 Healthy Ways to Lose Weight

Losing weight is one of those things that can be completely dreadful or a fun way to change your lifestyle habits depending on how you look at it. I cannot stress how important attitude is when it comes to learning anything new, or changing any aspect in your life. So the main tip that I want you to take away from this blog is to please have fun with your weight loss journey!

Here are 5 healthy weight loss tips that will help you look good, and feel even better:

1. Get more dietary fiber

Did you know that 95% of Americans do not get enough dietary fiber? Dietary fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is naturally found in plant based foods. Research suggests that foods high in fiber are good for your metabolism, regulate digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer. Because most vegetables are low in calories but high in volume or weight, they’ll keep you feeling full on less calories. The great thing about veggies is that the majority of their volume comes from water!

The four main symptoms associated with lack of fiber in ones diet include constipation, weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations & diet related nausea. This demonstrates just how important dietary fiber really is in aiding our metabolism and overall health. To get more fiber in your diet, try substituting meat in your pasta for sautéed vegetables. You can even make a veggie pizza, or roast vegetables with a bit of oil in the oven. Yum!

2. Cut out soft drinks

When I say soft drinks, I mean everything except for fresh fruit juice and water. It’s crazy how many new drinks, sodas and flavoured waters come out annually that literally serve no nutritional value! Take Vitamin Water for example, it’s advertised as a fast and healthy way to get a daily fix of vitamins and minerals. The truth is however, that these “healthy drinks” are loaded with an unhealthy amount of sugar, synthetic vitamins and a mix of colorants. It’s important to realize that fresh fruit/vegetable juice or water is so much healthier to drink than anything that comes from a plastic bottle!

One simple switch that will pay off huge is to start adding fresh lemon juice to your water instead of drinking store bought juice. By drinking lemon water instead, you will reduce your daily caloric intake. Research has shown that polyphenol antioxidants which are found in lemons significantly reduces weight gain and promotes healthy skin.

3. Read ingredients

Reading the ingredients of everything you consume is so important! You would be surprised by how many harmful chemicals and preservatives are added to every day foods. That’s why it’s extremely important to read the ingredients of anything processed that you buy. You will find that a good 75% of ingredients in most foods are random chemicals that you’ve never heard of and are hard to pronounce! These ingredients serve no nutritional value and are only added to extend shelf life. This is why snack foods are so cheap- the ingredients are simply not real and are lab-made. Make sure you’re consuming real foods that contain whole and quality ingredients. Ditch foods that come in plastic packaging and are high in sugars, oils and additives.

For more info on specific ingredients to avoid, check out my blog on the Top 5 Common Food Additives to Avoid.

4. Substitute your snacks

This one is huge. Whenever you get hungry or are craving something, don’t be afraid to snack! The key is to make sure you’re snacking on something healthy. If you want something sweet, don’t reach for Oreos right away- instead, have something that’s satisfying and good for you such as dates or even a tangerine. Eating store bought cookies only trains your body to crave unnaturally sweet foods and creates an endless cycle. If you train your body to eat foods that are fresh and not artificially sweetened, you will not only lose weight, but you will also break an unhealthy pattern. Your body cannot crave what you are no longer consuming!

5. Avoid eating at night

Eating food late at night is a simple way to put on weight without even knowing it. Many studies have demonstrated that the body is more likely to store calories as fat rather than burn it as energy because food is digested differently at varying times of the day. Throughout the day, our food is metabolized faster because we are up walking, running and burning off energy. But at night, our organ systems slow down in order to prepare for rest.

If you find yourself getting hungry at night, start having a bigger dinner. Most people who experience hunger at night didn’t eat enough throughout the day. My favourite thing to do is make plenty of sides when I cook! You can add sautĂ©ed vegetables, chickpeas, beans, or potatoes to virtually any meal. Plus they’re healthy, high in vitamins and will keep you feeling fuller for longer. Although, there is nothing wrong with having a small snack such as fresh fruit at night!