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 disease—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! ✨

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), 334–339. 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 individual’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 🌸

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 💗

Sources

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

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

acupuncture

All About Acupuncture

Whenever I tell someone that I am a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), they always have so many questions! So today I wanted to write a blog on what exactly acupuncture is, how it works and some of its origins. The cool thing about this ancient technique is that it originated in China over 2,000 years ago- so as mystifying as acupuncture may seem, it has been around for longer than most people realize!

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles in strategic points around the body. These points were first mentioned in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine which dates back to approximately 100 BCE. This information continued to be passed down from generation to generation, until the acupuncture points were refined and it became a standard practice in China.

Today, acupuncture has gained popularity around the world and is a regulated health profession in many countries. Research suggests that acupuncture can be used to help treat a number of conditions and diseases such as pain, insomnia, digestive issues, migraines, anxiety and depression.

How does it work?

In biomedical terms, acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system using specialized points to activate your body’s own natural healing capabilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine however, our organ systems play a pretty big role. Take the digestive system for example, the main organ responsible for digestion is the stomach or spleen. If a patient presents with no appetite and feels tired all of the time, I would choose acupuncture points on the “Stomach Meridian” to promote healthy digestion and help the overall digestive system function better.

*I did not create this image, credit goes to its rightful creator.

It’s important to differentiate between both Eastern and Western Medicinal systems because both systems look at the human body completely differently. Utilizing all of the knowledge that we have as a modern society, while applying it to ancient concepts can be an amazing integrative approach to any treatment plan.

What does it feel like?

In most cases, patients report feeling a dull sensation after the needle is inserted. But because acupuncture needles are so thin, most people don’t feel a thing! My personal acupuncture style is to make sure that my patient feels comfortable at all times. This can be done by engaging in an open conversation, asking questions and reading body language.

How to prepare for your very first acupuncture treatment!

Booking your first acupuncture treatment can be intimidating but it’s something that you should be thrilled about! Taking your health into your own hands and trying new things is something to celebrate!!

Here’s a list of things that I always remind my clients to do before our session:

  1. Make sure you eat beforehand! Because acupuncture works at a superficial level, it’s hard to predict how you may feel afterwards. Eating a nutritious breakfast will help you to feel fully energized and provide your body with everything it needs.
  2. Wear loose and comfortable clothing. This allows your practitioner to locate and needle acupuncture points precisely.
  3. Don’t drink coffee before your session- aside from coffee preventing relaxation, it also affects the appearance of your tongue. The tongue is a crucial indicator of internal health and can be used to aid in diagnosis.
  4. Try and book your appointment on a day off. Booking on a day off will allow you to fully relax and immerse yourself in the experience.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and learned something new about acupuncture! I am currently accepting new clients for Registered Acupuncturist treatments, so please check out my services page!
Stay healthy and stay glowing ✨

Uncategorized

I am officially a Graduate of Traditional Chinese Medicine!

I am so happy to announce that I have officially graduated from the Traditional Chinese Medicine program at Humber College! For those of you who have been following my journey on Instagram, you know just how much this means to me! For those of you who are new, or solely following my blog- let me me tell you, it has been a crazy experience to say the least 😅

Through studying full-time for four years, taking 44 different courses and completing over 500+ clinical hours, this diploma was well earned!

My next plans…

I have always been so passionate about natural health, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Throughout my studies, I was most interested in courses based on nutrition, herbal medicine and using tongue diagnosis to aid in treatment plans. I really like how TCM views the body system in a completely different way and uses alternative therapies to restore balance within the body!

My plan is to incorporate everything that I have learned into brand new services offered under Natural Glow Wellness. As a natural healer, I see great potential in using food as medicine to promote optimal health. In short, my all natural treatment plans will combine modern day nutritional needs with concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine diet.

I also plan on offering all natural beauty treatments such as Gua Sha facials, facial cupping and virtual tutorials to teach my clients how to incorporate ancient skincare tips into their routine ✨

I do have some big plans, and I am so excited to start working on everything! As a practitioner, I am really excited to start promoting a healthy lifestyle and teaching others how to achieve optimal health through simple tips and tricks.

The Future of Natural Glow Wellness

Natural Glow Wellness will always encompass the idea that the earth has everything that we need to thrive. My business will always be based on being kind and providing my clients with the best services with one goal in mind- to promote optimal health.

I am so excited for this new chapter in my life, to begin formulating new treatment plans and to get new clients on board! Thank you so much to everyone who has believed in me, trusted in me and supported me! Your support honestly keeps me going and motivates me to create new content.

If you have any questions, feedback or would even like to chat about natural health- feel free to email me at NaturalGlowellness@gmail.com. I am always looking to network!


Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and stay tuned for my upcoming new services and the relaunch of my Natural Glow Wellness Instagram page

Shoutout to @Clairview.Studio for the professional photos, be sure to check them out for all of your headshot needs! ⚡️

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! ⚡️

Why is Breakfast Important?

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

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

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

Breakfast Foods to Avoid

1. Eggs

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

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

2. Bacon

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

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

3. Cereal

Cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods and the first thing that many people eat in the morning to start their day! However, cereal is actually not that healthy for you as its highly processed and contains high amounts of refined sugars, additives, preservatives and even artificial colourants. Not to mention, most cereals are advertised as healthy so it’s hard to be completely sure.

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

4. Yogurt

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

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

5. Breakfast Sandwiches

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

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

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

Healthy Breakfast Options

1. Oatmeal

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

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

2. Fruit Smoothies

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

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

3. Refried Black Beans

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

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

4. Avocado Toast

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

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

5. Fruit Bowl

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

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


Takeaway

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

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