Cholesterol

Lowering Cholesterol For Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health and Cholesterol
High cholesterol is something that many of us deal with at some point in our lives. Cholesterol is not inherently bad; your liver makes enough naturally for proper health. The problem occurs when we add more cholesterol to our bodies through food, such as meat and dairy. These foods also have saturated and trans fats which cause your liver to create even more cholesterol the result can be high cholesterol for some people. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, so keeping it under control is very important. Supplementation can be an effective solution for your high cholesterol but check with your healthcare provider to see if this approach is right for you. Monitoring your cholesterol levels while taking supplements through regular blood tests is advisable. Taking cholesterol-lowering supplements consistently is essential to see positive results. AOR Cholesterol Control For vascular health and healthy cholesterol levels, AOR’s Cholesterol Control contains a proprietary extract of bergamot which has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost good cholesterol (HDL). The antioxidant and inflammation-reducing properties of bergamot also help to prevent vascular damage. It’s vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. A. VOGEL Omega-3 Capsules A source of omega-3 fatty acids (not derived from fish or other animal sources) which support cardiovascular health. A. Vogel Omega-3 is made from fresh plant sources and is sugar-, gluten-, lactose-free, and vegetarian-friendly. CYTO MATRIX Lipo Matrix Overall cholesterol and triglyceride support your cardiovascular health. Herbal ingredients in Lipo Matrix help reduce total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol (through lipid metabolism) while increasing good HDL cholesterol. It is vegan, soy-, dairy-, gluten-free, and non-GMO. GENESTRA Col-Sterol Plant sterol intake has been shown to decrease dietary cholesterol absorption. Genestra Col-Sterol Plant Sterol Formula contains 1,300 mg of Brassica napus plant sterols in each easy-to-swallow softgel, decreasing total and LDL cholesterol while supporting cardiovascular health. NATURAL FACTORS Niacin Inositol Niacin (vitamin B3) assists in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs and is good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Natural Factors Niacin Inositol improves cardiovascular function by promoting good cholesterol and decreasing the bad. Natural Factors niacin is delivered as inositol hexanicotinate this minimizes the flushing effect and further side effects of other niacin forms. NFH Chol Sap-15 Delivering a plant sterol intake of 1.05 g/d, overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol can be lowered between 8-15% with NFH Chol SAP-15. In addition, plant sterols have been shown to support healthy immune function and reduce inflammation. NFH Chol SAP-15 is formulated with organic flaxseed oil, ensuring optimal absorption. Flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which are essential for maintaining good health. It’s non GMO, corn, egg, dairy, yeast, citrus, sugar, wheat, gluten, and starch-free, contains no preservatives, and has no artificial colour or flavor.

Slippery Elm: Healer or Hype?

Slippery Elm
If you’ve ever looked for a natural treatment for heartburn, sore throat, or constipation, you may have come across slippery elm. This large elm tree often flies under the radar, but its inner bark has a slippery mucilage, meaning it contains a polysaccharide that becomes a useful gel when mixed with water. It can be added to teas, supplements, and medicines to soothe skin and mucosal membranes and help facilitate movement in the digestive tract. Mucous membranes exist throughout our bodies. They are the lining of the respiratory cavities (e.g., nose, mouth, and throat), and digestive and urogenital tracts. These membranes can become inflamed after spicy meals or when you’ve picked up the latest daycare virus. With inflamed mucosal linings, you may experience symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, a sore throat, and congestion. Soothing these concerns is often a target for natural treatments like slippery elm. Psoriasis A collection of case studies using nutritional modifications and slippery elm in patients struggling with psoriasis found that all subjects saw improvement in their symptom ranking over a six-month trial, as well as a reduction in markers for intestinal permeability. Many of the studies that mention slippery elm are small and outdated at this point, but new studies are assessing its benefits in digestion and cholesterol, and the results are exciting! Digestion: Constipation  Stress is a significant issue seen in healthcare today that can impact the health of your digestion. One condition often associated with stress is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People struggling with this can experience abdominal symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort, as well as changes in bowel movements (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, or both). Because of its connection to stress and brain function, healthcare providers lean on psychotherapy to address these concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis may all be worthwhile investments if you are struggling with IBS. Natural options, like slippery elm, may also work.  The fibre content in slippery elm is a bulk-forming laxative which may help with constipation. In patients with constipation-type IBS, the slippery elm formulation was found to significantly improve bowel habits and reduce other side effects. Another small study associated slippery elm with improved digestive symptoms, including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence. On closer inspection, the stool of participants also showed improvements in healthy bacterial populations and reduced markers for leaky gut. “Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.” The same soothing effect slippery elm provides for people struggling with IBS can also be used to treat heartburn and sore throats. This demulcent coats the throat, easing irritation and coughing symptoms. Some older anecdotal evidence suggests that slippery elm has the ability to soothe inflammation and swelling, improve mucosal irritation, and ease laryngitis and acid reflux—but more investigation is required to understand the mechanism of action and effectiveness. Cholesterol High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a very common issue in Canada, with 28 percent of people aged 18–79 fulfilling the criteria for diagnosis. While lifestyle changes are helpful recommendations in the management of high cholesterol, many people require medication therapy to bring cholesterol into the normal range and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The first line of treatment is a drug family called statins. As with any medication, statins are not without side effects that may impact results. Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.  A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that patients with untreated high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) who received 500 mg of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance (large-fruited elm) daily for 12 weeks showed a greater decrease in LDL and total cholesterol in comparison to the placebo group. In addition, none of the participants reported any notable adverse events. Having an effective treatment option for managing a prevalent health concern like hypercholesterolemia—without side effects—is very exciting! How To Use Slippery Elm  Slippery elm comes in convenient capsules and teas, but you can also add the powder form to a smoothie or try making your own soothing lozenges. Regardless of the form, always take doses a couple of hours apart. Lozenges Ingredients » ½ c slippery elm powder  » 6 Tbsp honey Instructions Combine the slippery elm powder in a bowl with your favourite honey and mix well.  Roll the mixture into small balls using your hands (use about ½ tsp for each ball).  Roll each ball in a little extra ...

Psyllium Husk – A Healthy Soluble Fiber for Constipation and Cholesterol

Psyllium Husk
Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.  People will find the most use for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).  Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.    Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.   Psyllium was found to help those with type II diabetes control their blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance, and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.  Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me? The primary complaint most people new to psyllium husk supplements will launch is bloat – how to beat the bloat? This is likely due to absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.  Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber; but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.  If you have esophageal narrowing, or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.  If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP to start with, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three doses per day with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage. You also want to make note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to medications, or around ~4 hours after any medications.

Spring Chickpea Salad

Healthy Planet is back with @sabrinavirdee and dropping yet another healthy recipe for the family. The ultimate side dish or a stand alone star, the Spring Chickpea Salad can be used in any setting! Lunch, dinner or a snack, you choose! #livelifehealthy⁣ Spring Chickpea Salad⁣Serves 4-6⁣INGREDIENTS⁣1 can of Kidney Beans drained and rinsed⁣1 can Black Beans drained and rinsed⁣1 can Corn drained (fresh corn if possible)⁣1 can of Chickpeas drained and rinsed ⁣½  Red Bell Pepper diced⁣½  Orange Bell Pepper diced⁣½ medium Red Onion finely diced⁣½ cup fresh Cilantro finely chopped ⁣2 Jalapenos seeded and finely chopped  (optional⁣)1/8 cup Apple Cider Vinegar ⁣¼ cup Olive Oil ⁣½ tsp Sea Salt⁣¼ tsp ground Black Pepper⁣   ⁣DIRECTIONS⁣1. In a large mixing bowl, add all of the ingredients and toss to combine. Taste and adjust as necessary until the flavors really pop—I usually add another teaspoon or two of vinegar.2. Cover and chill to marry the flavors—preferably overnight or at least 2 hours. Serve in individual bowls as is, or with a protein of choice!⁣⁣OTHER FUN WAYS TO ENJOY! ⁣1. Top with avocado’s for some healthy fats ⁣2. Pile it onto nachos or serve it as black bean salsa with tortilla chips.⁣3. Use it as a filling for burritos or quesadillas (leaving as much of the liquid behind as possible)⁣   Recipe created by: @sabrinavirdee

Covid Curves: 6 Tips to Jump Start Spring

Over the past several months most of us have experienced a “Home Life” comparable to Groundhog Day.  In the beginning of CoVID, you may have felt the desire to kick-start a new healthy eating plan, or tackle those in home workouts with a vengeance.  However, as time has waged on, the motivation may have started to dissipate and your daily exercise consists of a multitude of trips to the fridge to check if the light is still working (FYI: It is.) Then throw in fashion consisting of daytime and nighttime stretchy pants with no buttons or zippers, and it is safe to say most of us are experiencing a CoVID 15lb weight gain. But it’s not all our fault. When we are faced with a stressful situation our bodies release the hormone called cortisol. This reaction causes our blood sugar levels to rise resulting in a craving for foods high in fat, sugar and salt in order to replenish the glucose. Yet now as we prepare to go back out into our “New Normal” we are finding our skinny jeans are not so skinny anymore; our shorts from last year must have shrunk and with little chance of a new wardrobe on the horizon, weight loss is something we may need to seriously consider for our healthiest selves. However, we know diets do not work, restriction leads to binging, and truthfully finding balance in an unbalanced world seems impossible. So what can we do right now that will get those buttons done up and bring some consistency back into our days?   Here are 6 Weight Loss Tips you can start implementing today to deal with the COVID 15lbs.  Tip #1: Make a Plan:We technically all know what we should be doing, drinking those 8-10 glasses of water a day, choosing lean protein, whole grains, healthy fats, high fibre, and nutrient dense foods. Start reading the ingredient profiles of the foods you buy, aim for food lower in sugar and refined carbs. Making choices that support your goals is essential. However, when faced with the plethora of tasty treats, we can often forget our commitment to removing the new curves we have adopted. So the next time you make a trip to the grocery store, be prepared and take a list. On that list write your health and wellness goals on the top and plan out your meals for the next couple days. Then if you hear the box of cookies calling your name you can remember your “Why.” And maybe instead of buying a box of 24 deluxe chocolate chip cookies, head to the bakery section and settle on one or two. Even better, pick yourself up an antioxidant rich, dark chocolate bar. As you cruise the store stay on the perimeter and avoid the inner aisle that mostly consists of packaged, processed foods. Remember, a healthy immune system relies on both the Macro (protein, fats and carbs) and Micro (vitamins and minerals) but we must make sure we choose the right kinds.   Tip #2: Am I Really Hungry?How many times have you caught yourself elbow deep in a bag of chips or pint of ice cream only to realize that you can’t remember when you started. Often when we find ourselves mindlessly eating it is important to stop and ask  “Am I REALLY hungry? Or am I bored, lonely, upset?” Finding comfort in food is common and refereed to as emotional eating. Given the current state of the unknown, food can easily become our comfort and friend. The best way to start connecting to your hunger cues is to start being mindful of when you are eating, why you are eating, and how your food tastes. Take the time to savour your food and enjoy each bite.  There is no prize for she/he who finishes first.  Another way to bring mindfulness to your hunger cues is first thing in the morning. If your morning schedule is to eat first thing, hold back a bit and wait until you feel a little hungry. Then enjoy your first meal.  The purpose behind this is to set the tone of the day by honouring what you need. Start the day by tuning in to what your body needs and then responding to it.  As the day progresses continue to pay attention if you are hungry or looking for comfort. This is not about restriction but about connecting.    Tip #3: Use Your Hands:Now, we all know our parents have told us to use our utensils when we eat so this concept may throw you off but one issue I have seen time and time again is portion control. And with serving sizes becoming increasingly larger it is no wonder our waistbands are following.  Make a point of serving your food on plates and dishes; stop snackin ...

Vegan Lasagna Recipe

We think we have a Vegan Lasagna recipe good enough for even the toughest lasagna critics… Why do we think that? Well, simply….because it is. Follow this recipe and prepare yourself to hear all the ooooo’s and aaaaaaahhhh’s from family and friends.   Vegan lasagna can be tough to imagine for a lot of people.”Where does the cheese come into play?”. “What about the noodles, certainly those aren’t vegan”. We hear you and we are here to tell you….it is possible. Substitute the rich ricotta cheese your Aunt loves so much with a mind boggling Vegan Sunflower Seed version. What about the perfectly cooked Italian pasta sheets layered in between the sauce and cheese? Completely surprise them with long slices of zucchini in place of the pasta to keep the dish light, healthy and fresh without the heaviness of what boxed pasta’s brings to the table. Below we will give you a step by step and help you create what will surely jump up to the top of the list of your favourite meals to make for friends and family. What we always recommend is that you have an open space available and all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach. A clean and open space always produces the best results. Vegan Sunflower Seed Cheese: 1.Soak Sunflower Seeds for no less than 3 hours. Over night is ideal. 2. Set up your VitaMix 3. Drain Seeds and blend till you get a creamy consistency 4. Add your remaining ingredients and blend 5. Taste Cheese and feel free to add lemon juice for more of a zing, salt and pepper for taste or nutritional yeast for xtra cheesiness. We always encourage cooking from scratch, it is far more satisfying when you take your first bite and realize you created all this with your own hands. What we do realize is this takes time that not all of us have. We have offered some healthy, and delicious items you can pick up at your local Healthy Planet and use in place of the hand made versions.   Lasagna “Pasta Sheets”: 1. Thoroughly wash your Zucchini 2. Slice lengthwise with your favourite knife and or a Mandolin for perfect slices each time 3. Place inside fridge until you are ready to combine everything together to make your lasagna!   Building the Lasagna: 1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F 2. Search through your baking pans and find the a 9/13 inch baking pan or something close to it 3. Start with enough red sauce to completely cover the bottom of the baking pan 4. Lay down a layer of baby spinach until covering the red sauce 5. Lay your “pasta” sheets (zucchini) and cover the spinach 6. Spread a healthy amount of pesto completely covering the zucchini 7. Lay down another layer of baby spinach 8. Lay down another layer of zucchini 9. Spread healthy amount of Vegan Ricotta completely covering zucchini (You can use half the amount that you made) 10. Repeat the same steps starting from the beginning 11. With your entire lasagna now covered in Vegan Ricotta place your sliced Roma Tomatoes on top (we love to place in a manner that represent square pieces, 1 piece representing 1 square slice) 12. Place Vegan Lasagna into the oven covered in Aluminium, after 45 min, remove cover and bake for another 15 min. Pull from oven when finished cook time and let sit for 15-20 min to set and cool. Now that the entire house has had a chance to smell the Lasagna cooking for the past hour, have the table ready, lay your favourite salad down along with your favourite Vegan Garlic Bread and then bring out the star of the evening, delicious, healthy, hearty, show stopping Vegan Lasagna. Soak up the the complements and watch the shock at how tasty this Vegan Meal is. Enjoy!   Vegan Cheese Ingredients: 3 cups raw Sunflower Seed rinsed 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast 1 medium lemon, juiced 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (optional // for flavor + richness) 1 tsp sea salt + pinch black pepper   Vegan Lasagna Ingredients: 1 14-ounce pesto 2 large bags Baby Spinach 1 ripe Roma Tomato (for topping) 3 medium zucchini squash thinly sliced with a mandolin or sliced by hand Sunflower Seed “RIcotta” Cheese 1 28-ounce jar tomato sauce How good is this Vegan Lasagna!?!? We knew you would love it and hope you share it with friends and family and continue a healthy and alternative way of feeding loved ones. Tag us at #Healthyplanet on Instagram and show us your Vegan Lasagna! Healthy Planet looks forward to sharing even more amazing recipes certain to put smiles on your loved ones faces. Enjoy!

Eating Like a Caveman: Controlling Insulin

Summer is the perfect time to give your diet a reboot and start thinking about the kinds of fresh foods and meats that our forefathers from wayyyyyy back ate, which is more of a Paleo Diet, which is becoming quite popular again, for obvious reasons. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that a back-to-basics approach to diet is the way to go for each and every system in our bodies. Today’s diet has too much sugar and it’s making us store our fat. It’s time to reclaim it. Use summer as the stepstone toward better health, with expert Brad King’s advice! Insulin has an especially dramatic influence on enzymes called lipases. Lipases are like little Pac Men who run around your body, releasing body fat from its cushy containers so it can be shuttled into muscle cells to get burned off (yeah!). When insulin levels are high, it hits the “off” switch on lipases, putting them into a holding pattern until further notice. In fact, the most prominent lipase involved in fat burning is called Hormone Sensitive Lipase, or HSL for short.[1] HSL is the premiere key holder that unlocks those fat storage containers which make you leaner. Unfortunately, the more insulin that’s present, the less HSL is available to release fat for energy and the end result is you become fatter (not so yeah!). As insulin is blocking fat burning it’s also creating an internal environment that is ripe for fat storage. It accomplishes this act through the aid of another lipase enzyme—this one’s called Lipoprotein lipase, or LPL for short, and it is so effective at bloating fat cells that some obesity researchers even call it ‘the Gatekeeper of Fat Storage’. It’s next to impossible for the body to store fat without a certain amount of insulin floating around. As you can see, insulin is something we need, but we don’t want too much of it. Otherwise, we end up with a body that acts as a 24/7 fat-storing factory (as too many people already experience)! Controlling Insulin Almost any food—including the mere thought of food—can cause insulin release, but carbohydrates are the primary driver to a flood of insulin. High-carb foods—especially the highly processed and refined variety—cause glucose levels in your blood to shoot way up.[2] However, the body doesn’t work very well when glucose gets too high, so it sends out a stream of insulin to control the rising tide of glucose. Gobs of insulin will definitely drive glucose down, but it will also turn the vast majority of that glucose into newly formed fat. On the other hand, when insulin levels are under control, the body swiftly transitions into fat burning mode. Normal insulin levels cause lipases to spring into action. Also, a hormone often viewed as insulin’s opposite, glucagon, starts to rise. Glucagon travels around the body, ordering fat cells to relax and let go of the fat they’re clinging to. It’s accurate to view eating and lifestyle as a hormonal event. In a primitive dietary world made up of fresh—and local—produce (including roots, shoots, seeds and nuts) and wild game meat, our hormones were never a problem – in other words there weren’t many, if any, obese cavemen or ladies . If a caveman was lucky enough to stumble upon a beehive filled with honey or a bush sprouting plump berries, insulin was there to process the carbohydrates properly. But for the most part, the diet that our pancreas was designed for, only called insulin into action on a part-time basis. Our modern-day fast food/processed/high glycemic diets forces our pancreas to work double or triple shifts! Our body was simply not designed to metabolize all these carbs. The real kicker is that, because of our ravenous appetite for insulin-stimulating processed foods, the weight we’ve been accumulating over the last few decades is pure, unadulterated fat, which isn’t just unsightly but brings with it a whole host of health issues to boot![3] Magré, J., et al. (1998) Human hormone-sensitive lipase: genetic mapping, identification of a new dinucleotide repeat, and association with obesity and NIDDM. Diabetes. 47:284-286 Ludwig, D. S. (2000) Dietary glycemic index and obesity. J. Nutr. 130:280S-283S. Due A, Larsen TM, Mu H, Hermansen K, Stender S, Astrup A: Comparison of 3 ad libitum diets for weight-loss maintenance, risk of cardiovascular disease, and diabetes: a 6-mo randomized, controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 2008, 88(5):1232-1241  http://www.pno.ca/?p=1336&option=com_wordpress&Itemid=201

3 Questions to Consider Before Starting a Cleanse

The body is amazing. It has the ability to process all the “stuff” that is thrown at it every day. From food and water to natural body toxins, the body has the ability to deal with all it all. Over time, you may notice that your body isn’t working as efficiently. It may be time to support your normal, healthy system by doing a cleanse, but how do you know if it’s right for you? Here are 3 questions to consider before starting a cleanse: 1. Are you currently under an acute illness? If your body is actively dealing with a temporary, acute illness it may not be the best time to start a cleanse. Doing so may aggravate your body, making you feel terrible. 2 Are you eliminating efficiently? When doing a cleanse you need to make sure that any natural body toxins that are stirred up during the process are able to exit the body. If you are temporarily not eliminating efficiently substances are reabsorbed, making the whole process pointless. 3 What are your intentions? Cleanses are meant to support the body’s systems when you feel they may need a little extra assistance. They should not be used as a quick fix weight loss tool. Any weight loss that is achieved usually comes back after the cleanse is completed. Nevertheless, a cleanse can be a great way to kick start a healthier lifestyle, including a weight loss journey, by allowing you to take a break from your usual routine and spend some time taking care of your body.   Referenece: http://naturalfactors.com/articles/3-questions-consider-starting-cleanse/

Weight Loss is More than Just Cutting Calories

It is not uncommon to hear a friend or family member say that they are trying to lose weight. In fact, the vast majority of us spend our entire lives struggling to maintain a weight that is healthy or desirable. There are certainly many people that are over-eating or under-exercising for their caloric requirements. But what about the rest of us? For some individuals, it doesn’t matter how little we eat because the weigh scale doesn’t seem to budge! Weight loss can be quite complex with many contributing factors and the simple reality is that cutting calories is not a clear solution for losing weight. Here’s why. Calorie Counting Is Good… In Theory: When we eat food, we are consuming energy. When we exercise or create movement, we are burning energy. When attempting to lose weight, the simplest goal is to eat less energy relative to the amount of energy that your body outputs. In fact, it has often been stated that an energy deficit of 3500 kcal will lead to fat loss of exactly one pound because that’s how much energy is provided when you break down fat. And this will work in many people. But this simple equation does not take into account the type of macronutrients or micronutrients that you are actually consuming, nor does it consider the strong influence of hormones as we’ll discuss below. A Calorie is Not Just a Calorie: Most people that have done their own dietary research know that the human body does not respond to refined carbohydrates (ie. added sugars) the same way that it does to protein, fats or even complex carbohydrates. When we eat natural sugars found in fruit that are paired with the high fibre content, we have a blunted rise in blood glucose and insulin. If you eat the same number of calories from a donut, your sugar spikes and excess sugars become converted and deposited into fat. Similarly, low-carbohydrate diets have consistently shown greater weight loss when compared to low-fat diets with equal caloric intake. Physiologically, the body treats fats, proteins and carbohydrates quite differently. What About Hormones? The thyroid is largely responsible for maintaining a proper metabolic rate, meaning that it dictates how fast or slow our cells burn energy. This explains why those with low thyroid function can present with weight gain or the inability to lose weight. If you haven’t had your thyroid function checked by your doctor, this is a great place to start. However, just as your thyroid needs to be balanced to maintain a healthy weight, so does your estrogen, progesterone, testosterone and cortisol. Factors such as stress, poor liver function and nutritional deficiencies can all imbalance these crucial hormones. The Importance of Stress: When we are stressed, our body releases cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that tells the body to release sugar into the blood. This is great to provide energy to get through a short stressful event, but what about when cortisol is elevated for days, weeks or months at a time? Imbalanced sugar levels can lead to fat deposition over the long haul! Stress management is so important, in fact, that some research has found stress-management programs with no dietary changes to be more effective for weight loss than dietary changes alone. Sleep and its role in Weight Management: A large-scale study examining sleep habits in over 86,000 postmenopausal women found a strong association between both lack of sleep and excess sleep with obesity risk. Other studies have found shorter and longer sleep durations to be associated with greater body mass and greater abdominal fat measurements. Sleep deprivation’s association with obesity appears to be due not only with behavioral changes (such as exercising less when you’re tired), but also to hormonal dysregulation. Sleeping less than 6 hours per night results in blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance and, ultimately, widespread inflammation in the body. Environmental Toxins: There is now a mountain of evidence to show that toxins in our environment can play a great role in body size. Ongoing exposure to chemicals with names like hexachlorobenzene, polybrominated biphenyl and phthalates can wreak havoc on your hormones and your weight loss attempts. Start eliminating the plastics and use glass containers or water bottles instead. Reduce your daily makeup and cosmetic exposure when possible. Avoid unnecessary air-fresheners, chemical-laden cleaners and pesticides. These small changes will all add up.         As you can clearly see, there is much more to consider than just calories in and calories out when it comes to weight loss. Eating real food, getting restful sleep, avoiding toxic chemicals, improving relationships and minimizing stressors in your life will all help to normalize your hormones and improve your weight in the long-run. Got some weight loss t ...

The 5 Worst Pieces of Weight Management Advice I’ve Heard

By Sarah Skalzub, RHN It all sounds so good, the endless promises and guarantees that just by following a miracle diet you’ll lose weight fast, keep it off—and get that bikini body, instantly.  You’ve heard it all before, and seen many fad diets come and go, but one thing I’ve learned, whether I’ve tried them out, or sat back at watched, is that these fads never last. Here are the top five horrible pieces of weight management advice I’ve heard, that, well to put it bluntly, just don’t work long-term. 1. “Whatever you do, just don’t eat this.” Whenever a diet asks you to cut out a major macronutrient (that your body needs to function properly!), you know it’s not going to end pretty. Quick refresher: macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, all of which are essential for your body to function at its best. Carbohydrates are what your body uses as energy for your daily activities. Fats— good fats of course—are essential for many different functions in your body. And protein is the building block of muscle, and you need it to help your body repair and rebuild tissue daily. . While fat-free or no-carb diets may be beneficial to individuals with certain health concerns, if it’s weight loss you’re after, you might want to try an approach more sustainable that’s going to give you the energy and strength to take your full life head-on, day after day, not deplete it. Eating a well-balanced diet including all your good quality macronutrients is a great start for successful weight management. 2. “I found the magic pill.” It hurts to hear, but there’s no one little pill you can take to make the weight magically melt off your body for the rest of your life. Anyone who promises their magic pill (or bean) will solve everything you wish was different about your weight, is selling lies and making a lucrative profit off of your personal goals— which they have no ability or interest in helping you achieve. Let’s be real: long-term weight management is all about moderation, and eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients–that’s what will give you the energy you’ll need to live an active life. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to weight management.. 3. “You’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days!” Doesn’t this sound fantastic?! While you might be able to achieve this, by fasting or drastically cutting your calories, this is not sustainable, and chances are as soon as you go back to your routine, the weight will find its way back to your waistline. Long-term sustainable weight management will happen when you develop a routine and slowly start to crowd the not-as-great stuff out by adding in more good-for-you foods. Keep in mind: this won’t happen overnight—this small-changes approach is one that can last a lifetime, and get better over time. Kind of like a fine wine. 4. “Count every calorie/macro” Not all calories are created equal, and when it comes to being ultimately healthy from the inside out, you want to ensure you’re providing your body with foods that are a great source of micronutrients—not just the right amount of calories. For example, say a bag of potato chips has the exact same amount of calories as a slice of whole grain bread with some avocado sliced on top, seasoned artfully with fresh dill and lemon juice. Which one of these is going to serve your body better? You’re going to eat that bag of potato chips, or eat avocado toast (that has whole grains, B vitamins and good fats). There are certainly some days that enjoying potato chips may be what you need. Most days you may decide to reach for the avocado toast. For long-term weight management, look at the nutrients a piece of food contains before the calories. Guess what? Many plant-based foods are naturally nutrient dense. Let’s hear it for nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds! 5. “It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you follow this workout routine” Don’t get me wrong, movement is definitely part of a healthy routine. But just because you went for a run in the morning or hit the gym, doesn’t mean you get a free-pass to eat whatever you want later on. Just like getting a workout in at sunrise doesn’t mean your body needs a whole cheesecake for a dessert, it also doesn’t mean that you need to track every calorie you burned in a spreadsheet. If you did a sweaty workout at the gym or in a group exercise class you’re going to want to supply your body with the right building blocks to replenish energy, repair and rebuild. What could help you achieve your goals while keeping you feeling good about your choices? Try whipping up a high-protein smoothie post-workout. Using your favorite Vega® protein product, toss in some ...