nutrition

Proteins: Why You Should Choose Plant-Based Sources

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

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

What are proteins?

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

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

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

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

Animal Proteins vs Plant Proteins

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

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

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

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

How much protein should I consume?

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 Healthy & High Sources of Plant Based Protein

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

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

Conclusion

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

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


Sources:

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

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

nutrition

5 Benefits of Going Plant-Based

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

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

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

1. You will reduce inflammation in your body

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

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

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

2. You will lower your cholesterol levels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sources

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

nutrition

The Power of Antioxidants

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

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

Free Radicals and Oxidative Stress

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

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

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

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

All About Antioxidants!

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

Different Types

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

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

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

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

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

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

Health Tip

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

Sources

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

 

Healthy Living

Skincare 101

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

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

Here are 5 tips to promote healthy looking skin:

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

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

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

2. Drink lots of lemon water and fresh fruit juices

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

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

3. Start using a natural oil before bed like Rosehip

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

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

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

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

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

5. Avoid wearing makeup

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

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


Conclusion

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

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

Stay beautiful and keep glowing!