Posts Tagged ‘diet’

Ch-Ch-Chia – Seeds to Incorporate in your Diet

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Chia seeds are healthy for you but most of us just remember the infamous Chia Pet plants and have not incorporated the super food in our diets. Chia seeds have been around since the Aztec and Mayan times. They are tiny black or white seeds that have 11 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams of fat, including omega-3 fatty acids, and include minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus (per one once).

Many nutritionists want their clients to consume chia seeds to give added support to the immune system, increase cardiovascular health and protect the brain. Why not add them to your diet? Everyday we are told to increase your omega-3s (get tested to see your results) and chia seeds can also be the answer for those that don’t consume a lot of foods high in omega-3s. Vegetarians should seriously consider adding chia seeds to their diet.

What other benefits might you receive from incorporating chia seeds in your diet?

  • high in antioxidants that fight free radicals
  • high in fiber and low in carbs
  • high in protein so may reduce appetite
  • high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and protein

There are some studies that how eating chia seeds can lower triglycerides, inflammation, insulin resistance and blood pressure.

How would you use chia seeds in your diet?

  • add to your morning cereal
  • add them to your smoothies
  • make chia pudding
  • add as a thickener to any food

Be wary, some people experience bloating and/or gas if you eat too many or eat them raw. Start with small quantities and put them in liquid to soften them into a gel/slurry. This may help digesting them properly.

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Ways to Naturally Boost your Immune System

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Boosting your immune system naturally sounds enticing, but is it feasible? The immune system consists of many moving parts and they all need to work together for optimal health. Many vitamins and supplements claim to have immunity boosting effects, however boosting immune cells in your system is not always a good thing. The body is always naturally creating immune cells, so creating more than your body needs can actually do more harm than good. As we get older, the strength of the immune system decreases, which means that it is easier to contract infectious diseases. Scientists are not sure why this happens, but they have found a relationship between decreased T cells, that are responsible for fighting off infections. Some believe this may be due to atrophy that comes with aging, but it has not been confirmed. A reduced immune system as you age has also been demonstrated in how elderly respond to vaccines, as opposed to children. Nevertheless, vaccines have been found to reduce the overall chance of infections. A healthy immune system, regardless of age, requires healthy nourishment.

healthy lifestyleResearch has found that those who live in poverty, thus are malnutritioned, are more susceptible to infectious diseases. It is important to ensure you are fueling your body with real whole foods, so this means reducing the processed foods and increasing fruits and vegetables. If you suspect that you are lacking certain micronutrients in your diet and may be deficient of certain vitamins, it may be a good thing to incorporate supplements into your diet, but be sure to ask your physician first. Taking megadoses of supplements will not boost your immune system more, as mentioned previously you do not want to add more cells than your body really needs. There has also been found that there is a correlation between the mind and the body. This means that leading a high-stress lifestyle may be detrimental to the immune system. Incorporating daily exercise and meditation can be great ways to reduce stress. Exercise is also incredibly important for overall health, thus also having a positive impact on your immune system. Living an active lifestyle can seem daunting, so it is important to find an activity that you enjoy. It can range from walking 30 minutes a day to a yoga class, as long as you are moving your body in some way. Overall, living a healthy lifestyle is the best way to boost your immune system!

The Alkaline Diet

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The Alkaline diet’s goal is to cut out foods that produce more acid like processed foods, dairy, eggs, and meat. On the contrary, foods like some legumes, fruits, and vegetables can contribute to an increased production of alkaline. Proponents of the alkaline diet argue that it can enhance overall well being and can promote weight loss due to the lower production of acid.This diet consists of healthy whole foods that benefit kidney and bone health. The pH scale measures whether a substance is alkaline or acid. The scale is between 0 and 14, anything below 7 is an acid, 7 is neutral, and 7 to 14 is alkaline. The kidneys are responsible for controlling the pH levels in the blood by either expelling or soaking up compounds. Over time, the adjusting of pH levels could have a consequence on your health. Bone density is a measure of the strength of your bones, and the lower your bone density the higher the likelihood of osteoporosis. This means your bones are weaker and more likely to break. Research has found the diet high in acid foods leads to calcium to be sucked out from the bones, thus reducing bone density. Diets that are higher in acid can also cause kidney stone as well as kidney failure. The pH in the stomach is more acidic as opposed to blood which tends to be more alkaline. It is important to remember that certain foods paired together can affect the pH of each individual item. The alkaline diet promotes a diet that is high in legumes, fruits, and vegetables. It is also lower in processed food and animal protein, which is something health experts are proponents of. If you are considering giving the alkaline diet a try, you should speak to your physician beforehand to ensure it is a good option for you.

There have been debates about the negative effects dairy can have on health, and one of the most common topics is whether the type of fat found in foods with dairy cause an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Dairy products are high in fat, specifically in saturated fat, which is a major contributor to obesity. On the other hand, many believe that certain dairy products such as fermented yogurt actually may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes or at least not have an effect on the risk of developing it. Dieticians recommend limiting saturated fat intake by 10% of the total amount of calories consumed, which is about 20 grams of saturated fat per day for the majority of people. To put this into perspective, a single ounce of cheese has about 8 grams of saturated fat. Studies performed to see if there is a connection between dairy and diabetes have been inconclusive because they don’t take into account the types of dairy people are consuming.However, results from several studies do indicate that low-fat dairy consumption has a slight decrease in risk for type 2 diabetes. Specifically, it was found that a quality, low-fat, fermented yogurt was the most beneficial. The other side of dairy proponents say that quality full-fat dairy products like cream, yogurt, and cheese lower type 2 diabetes risk. A study from Framingham Heart Offspring found that those who consumed low-fat and high-fat dairy products reduced risk of prediabetes by 25%-39%. While studies like this did find these results, it is still not clear what dairy products are the best. Due to this unclarity, the dietary guidelines for dairy consumption say that 3 servings per day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, especially fermented yogurts like kefir, are optimal.

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Celiac Disease

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We have all heard of people who are on gluten free diet; there are some who follow this diet by choice and others who follow this diet because they have no choice. Those who must follow a gluten free diet for their well being have celiac disease. Celiac disease is when someone is essentially gluten intolerant. If someone with celiac disease were to eat gluten it would cause the immune system to attack the person’s small intestine, which could cause many of the following issues: rashes, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, even death.

celiac disease ribbonIf you are diagnosed with celiac disease you shouldn’t panic as there are more options in grocery stores and restaurants for those who are gluten free. Gluten free diets are being normalized so it’s not too rare now.

On the other hand, if you are following a gluten free diet by choice, you may be omitting some important nutrients, such as fiber and whole grains. Some reports indicate that following a gluten free diet is healthier and in some cases it can be, but you could also be eating more unnecessary calories and more added sugars when consuming prepackaged, gluten-free foods. Always read the labels so you know what you are eating.  Additionally, whole foods are typically better and more nutritious then any type of packaged and processed food.

Remember not to be alarmed if you are diagnosed with celiac disease, because you have many options nowadays.  Those with celiac and on a restricted diet indicate that living gluten-free is pretty easy and eventually you won’t even miss gluten. If you are living gluten-free by choice consider making exceptions to get important nutrients you cannot get in gluten free diets.

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Food Intolerance or Allergy?

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Food intolerance is difficulty digesting different foods, or in other words  non-allergic food hypersensitivity. Food intolerance differs from food allergies because it doesn’t trigger the immune system and allergies do. An example would be people who are lactose intolerant. It can often be difficult to determine whether you are suffering from an allergy or if you are intolerant to certain foods. One important difference when deciding which one you have is that food intolerance takes longer to emerge than allergies. Allergy symptoms occur relatively quickly while food intolerance can take up to 48 hours to show. You may experience bloating, migraines, irritable bowel, and hives among many other things. Food intolerance can often be chronic while allergies can be outgrown. One out of five people outgrow their peanut allergy. However, some people with intolerance to certain foods have found that abstaining from these foods for a while and then reintroducing them has built tolerance, so they no longer suffer side effects after consuming it. There are blood tests you may have done in order to determine whether or not you are sensitive to any foods. These tests are called Alcat and they are offered on our website

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Four Cancer Myths

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There are many misconceptions about what causes cancer. Having misconceptions and misinformation causes needless worries that can create anxiety and worry. Nowadays you hear information in the news about all the possibilities that have potential cancer causing qualities.  Here are some common cancer fallacies:

  1. Sugar doesn’t necessarily “feed” cancer. Yes it is true that many cancer cells take up blood sugar more quickly than healthy cells, but all cells in our body require sugar for sustenance. Avoiding sugar completely doesn’t guarantee you that you won’t get cancer. As a matter of fact, blood sugar comes from foods with carbs too. It is important to maintain your blood sugar and insulin at healthy levels to maintain proper health and to avoid diabetes and other diseases that can have negative effects on your health.
  2. Going on a gluten-free diet does not reduce the chances of getting cancer. Gluten can be found in wheat, triticale, and barley and is actually a source of protein. Research shows that avoiding gluten does not reduce risk of cancer whatsoever. Not consuming gluten can actually cause you to miss out on their anti-inflammatory, whole grain, cancer protective fiber.  Of course, if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac, you should avoid all gluten to maintain your health.
  3. You don’t have to eat a ton of fruits and vegetables to reduce cancer risks. Many think that in order for fruit and vegetable consumption to reduce chances of getting cancer you have to eat an impossible amount of it daily. In reality you only have to eat 5 servings a day for it to help reduce risks of getting cancer. You should aim to eat about 2 ½ cups of various fruits and vegetables. Eating a variety of different fruit and vegetables adds different phytochemicals and nutrients which may have cancer protecting qualities.
  4. You don’t have to go vegetarian. Plant rich diets are linked to lower cancer risk, but that doesn’t mean you can only eat plants. You can still eat poultry, fish, dairy, and meat –  like everything, eat those foods in moderation. A good option would be the Mediterranean diet which is plant based, and also includes smaller portions of meats, poultry, dairy, etc.

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Chocolate – Healthy or Not?

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Some argue that chocolate may help prevent cardiovascular disease and better your memory, but is it true? There have been studies conducted to see if chocolate really was correlated with the prevention of heart disease and dementia and it seems that it’s not really the chocolate that is helping but the flavanols that the cocoa beans contain. Flavanols are bioactive compounds that have a unique blend of phytonutrients which can only be found in the cocoa bean. Although there has not been enough clinical trials to determine whether or not flavanols can help prevent heart disease, flavanols can relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow to the brain.

chocolateChocolate is made with many components but cocoa solids and cocoa fat are the main ones. Cocoa solids are rich in flavanols but the cocoa fat doesn’t have any flavanols at all. Using those two components, plus other ingredients, you can make the four most popular types of chocolate; cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate.

Cocoa powder is produced by fermenting, roasting, and crushing cocoa beans into a paste-type of substance. Then the fat is removed and ground into a fine powder. Naturally processed unsweetened cocoa powder is great for you because it is rich in flavanols and low in calories.

Dark chocolate is made of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. The amount of flavanols you get from dark chocolate varies: You might be getting a high dosage of flavanols but in the process you will also be digesting a lot of calories.

Milk chocolate contains cocoa powder, cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It has less cocoa than dark chocolate therefore having less flavanols.  In order to get a high dosage of flavanols from milk chocolate you would have to consume over 1,000 calories of it.

Chocolate is a great source of flavanols but just make sure you watch how much chocolate you eat because it is also high in calories.  Eating chocolate is a great alternative to eating baked goods, so if you eat it in moderation it shouldn’t do you any harm!

Flavanol-rich Food for Thought

In a meta-analysis of 10 chocolate studies, researchers found that eating dark chocolate reduced LDL cholesterol by more than 6 mg/dL. This isn’t a big drop, but it is significant when combined with other healthy foods that lower cholesterol.

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Flavanols, the substances found in dark chocolate that are thought to be protective, have been long known to be good for the cardiovascular system. Flavanols are thought to work by slowing cholesterol absorption. Dark chocolate is also a strong antioxidant and may help protect the cardiovascular system that way as well. Other studies show that dark chocolate can improve endothelial function and lower blood pressure – two measures of cardiovascular health.

These findings confirm results from another meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition last year. In this similar study, researchers also found that dark chocolate lowered LDL cholesterol levels by about 6 mg/dL.   It’s easy to add dark chocolate to your diet and it’s you can order your own lab tests to check your cholesterol blood levels.

Another meta-analysis of seven studies including 114,009 people, looked at chocolate intake and the risk of developing a cardiovascular disorder.

Researchers found that those who consumed the highest level of chocolate, versus the lowest level, had a 37-percent decrease in cardiovascular disease, and a 29-percent reduction in stroke.

So, if you enjoy chocolate and want a treat occasionally, you don’t have to feel guilty. It’s important to remember, however, that dark chocolate is also high in calories. If you are going to have dark chocolate, eat only a moderate amount so you don’t increase your body weight. You might also consider walking an extra mile or two to walk off some of the calories. That way you’ll get a double benefit – dark chocolate and the benefit of exercise.


Wellsource, February 2013 Newsletter
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2011.
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010.
British Medical Journal, 2011.

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Medical Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her health care provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. The writer is not a physician or other health provider.