Health & Nutrition Blog – Healthy Planet Canada

Using essential oils to enhance your daily life

Using essential oils to enhance your daily life
Many of the products we use on a day-to-day basis are filled with synthetic chemicals. Body wash, shampoos, lotions, spot treatments, and bathroom cleaners… may smell great, but these synthetic substances are often filled with toxic ingredients that have a long-term harmful effect. Not to worry though, essential oils are a great natural alternative to these products. You’ll find much natural beauty, cleaning and skincare products containing essential oils rather than using harsh fragrances. This allows you to enjoy your products to the full extent while avoiding the synthetic ingredients that may interfere with the body’s hormones. What are essential oils? Though essential oils usually come in small bottles, they are full of potent aroma and benefits. When you open a bottle, the scent is immediately noticeable, similar to the perfume. This is because essential oils are made by steaming or pressing plants. During the process, the plant compounds that produce fragrance are captured. Each small bottle can take up to several pounds of the plant – it is extremely potent compared to the plant alone! The most useful essential oils you can start using today Lavender This floral scent is most well-known for its relaxing scent. Add a drop or two on your pillow before your sleep and you’ll be out like a baby. It is also very calming for the skin and can be used to treat skin irritations such as redness or burns. Alternatively, you can use it to calm the mind. During times of stress, you can rub some on the temples or the back of the neck to relax your body. Best options: Aura Cacia Lavender Oil 15mL, NOW Certified Organic Lavender Oil 30mL Tea tree This scent is most well-known for its purifying qualities. Use it to sanitize home surfaces, clean the air or put it on skin infections to kill pathogens. The applications are limitless. The leaves of the tea tree are antibacterial and antifungal, making it a great option to diffuse during cold and flu season. You can also dilute it with a carrier oil and apply to the skin as needed. Best options: Thursday Plantation Tea Tree 100% Pure Oil 10mL, NOW Tea Tree Oil 30mL Frankincense Though frankincense is not cheap, it has many health benefits. Frankincense has been used by the ancient Egyptians who used it for everything from perfume to salves to heal the skin. It is one of the best oils to add to your skincare routine, as it helps reduce the appearance of skin imperfections by rejuvenating skin cells. Best options: Divine Essence Frankincense Oil 5mL, Aromaforce Essential Oil 15mL Lemon If you’re planning to start making your own DIY house cleaning products, lemon is the best oil to add to your collection. It can be added to white vinegar (diluted with ½ distilled water) or diffused to clean virtually all areas of the house. Not to mention, lemon has an uplifting aroma – it’s the perfect mood booster. You can also use it to remove sticky labels from old pasta glass jars. Add a few drops of lemon oil and you can easily scrub off the label. Best options: Aromaforce Essential Oil Lemon Organic 15mL, Aura Cacia Lemon Oil 15mL Eucalyptus One of the main benefits of eucalyptus oil is that it helps clear breathing and open the lung airways. Stuffy noses don’t stand a chance with this calming scent. As you diffuse eucalyptus in the air, you can purify the air and surfaces of pathogens, while clearing your mind. It is a must-have for the cold and flu season! Best options: NOW Eucalyptus Oil 30mL, Aromaforce Essential Oil Eucalyptus Organic 15mL Building a collection of essential oils You don’t have to buy all these essential oils at once – try starting with one or two at a time. As you start incorporating them into your life, you’ll surely want to add more to your collection! They are a versatile and natural way to add some nice smells to your life. The bonus is that they have many beneficial purposes as well. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram.

Is it necessary to use a natural sunscreen?

Use a natural sunscreen
Can sun exposure cause cancer? Can sunlight boost your immune system? There seems to be a constant debate as to whether sun exposure is truly needed. Because if they are not, why risk the harmful effects such as increasing the risk of skin cancer? Most people know they need to put on sunscreen before they spend the day in the sun, but it’s important to remember that you don’t need to avoid the sun entirely. We need sunlight to produce vitamin D, balance our circadian rhythm and keep our bodies strong and healthy. The concern with UV rays Sunlight from the sun is composed of three types of light energy: visible, infrared, and ultraviolet (UV) rays. UVA and UVB rays are known to be light rays that react with the melanin in your skin cells and can cause serious skin damage. Your body’s skin cells are designed to absorb the dangerous UV rays, but there comes a point where the amount of ray exposure exceeds what your cells can absorb. When you develop a red sunburn, it is a sign that your melanin cells have reached their limit. After this point, the UV rays can create free radicals and oxidative damage in your body. Oxidative damage can result in a wide range of conditions – in mild cases, it may increase the levels of inflammation and prevent your organ systems from working optimally. In severe or chronic cases, the DNA in your cells can become mutated and develop into cancerous tumors. Not everyone develops sunburns, but the people who do likely notice it does not take long for their skin to reach this point. One of the reasons why there is so much debate regarding safe sun exposure is because every person has a different risk factor. Heredity and environment play a huge role. If you are fair-skinned and get sunburned easily, sun exposure for long periods may be more dangerous for you. If you have darker skin and do not get sunburned, you can have safer sun exposure. It’s all about knowing your own body! Why natural sunscreens offer a safer alternative There are two main types of sunscreens on the market, physical sunscreens, and chemical sunscreens. Chemical sunscreens are designed to sit on your skin and absorb the UV rays, so they do not enter your cells. However, the active ingredients used to accomplish this important task can also enter your body and bloodstream. These ingredients are not recognized as safe and can be harmful in high quantities or with daily use. The main UV filters oxybenzone, homosalate and octocrylene have been linked to increased risk of cancer, which defeats the purpose of its protective functions. On the other hand, physical (mineral) sunscreens are designed to form a barrier to physically shield the UV rays, which bounce off harmlessly. The ingredients are not absorbed into the skin and are considered more natural because they do not use harmful chemicals. Because physical sunscreens form a barrier, they must be applied as the last layer on the skin, over your daily skincare and makeup. Its active ingredient, zinc oxide, can sometimes have a white cast, though many natural brands have formulas that prevent this from happening. Choosing natural sunscreens ensures you are not applying more toxins and harmful chemicals on your skin, while still protecting yourself from excess UV rays. Best options: Badger Sport Sunscreen Clear Zinc SPF 40 Unscented 87ml, All Good Sport Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 89ml, Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ 6oz Other ways to protect yourself from the sun Even though sunscreen is the foundation of safe sun exposure, you can take steps to protect yourself on a daily basis. Wearing clothes that cover the areas where the sun is most likely to hit (forehead, shoulders, arms, legs) can offer sufficient protection if you must be outside. Keeping a hat or a light sweater can be great options to keep around. Keep in mind that the sun is strongest from 11 am to 2 pm, so avoid spending time in direct sunlight during these hours, and you’ll be cutting the risk dramatically! Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram.

Why You Should Start Making Castor Oil Packs a Part of Your Routine

Start Making Castor Oil Packs a Part of Your Routine
Castor oil may be known as folk medicine dating back to ancient times, but today it serves many useful purposes. If you’re looking for a cost-effective way to increase healing, reduce inflammation and improve circulation, adding a castor oil pack to your routine will be your best bet. What are castor oil packs? They are not as complicated as they sound. Castor oil packs involve using a cloth soaked in castor oil, then placed on the skin. A heat source such as a heating pack or hot water bottle is then placed over the cloth. The combination of heat and castor oil over your body brings many healing benefits. Benefits of castor oil packs Castor oil packs can be used for a variety of chronic diseases, or simply to support your daily health practices. Many people use their castor oil packs over their liver (area under the right ribcage) to support detoxification, but you can place it on any painful, inflamed area of the body, such as swollen joints and muscle strains. It can also be placed over the abdomen for constipation or indigestion, or over the lower abdomen for uterine fibroids and ovarian cysts. How to use a castor oil pack Start by picking your star ingredient, the castor oil. Only this particular oil should be used because it contains high levels of ricinoleic acid, which is responsible for its beneficial properties. Because the castor oil pack is a therapeutic treatment, it is best to prioritize getting the best quality castor oil. Make sure to choose one that is cold-pressed, organic and comes in a glass bottle. This ensures the chances of the oil being rancid are low. Best options for castor oil: St. Francis Castor Oil 250m, Heritage Castor Oil Black 240mL Next, you’ll need an old cloth big enough to cover your desired area, preferably one that is undyed and cotton, but use what you can find. If you would like to keep electronics out of the pictures, you can use a hot water bottle pack. Otherwise, an electric heating pad can be used. Layout your cloth in a container. Soak it in castor oil so that it is completely saturated. Prepare the area where you will be using the pack. It is best to wear old clothes because castor oil is known to leave stains. Place the castor oil cloth over the desired area. To keep your clothes and heating pack clean, you can lay another old cloth or towel over the castor oil pack, then add your heat source. Lie or sit down, resting in this position for 30-60 minutes. Making castor oil packs a part of your routine If you’ve never used castor oil packs before, they made seem time-consuming. But think of your castor oil pack as your wind-down routine before bed. It can be a very relaxing process once you get the hang of it. Start with using them once a week, then work your way up to three times a week for maximum benefits! Please note: castor oil packs are not recommended for pregnant women or during menstruation. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram.

Is your smoothie healthy? 3 ways to make sure your smoothie is as nourishing as you think it is

3 ways to make sure your smoothie is as nourishing as you think it is
While we’re enjoying the last of the hot weather, long days and cold drinks, it’s a good time as any to make sure we are enjoying them to the fullest. There’s something about summer that just makes smoothies taste more refreshing, so here at Healthy Planet, we will be making them as much as we can before the warm weather ends. However, not all smoothies are healthy, despite what their advertising and claims may tell you. With these simple tips, you can rest assured that your smoothies will taste delicious and while nourishing your body with essential vitamins and minerals.   3 simple rules to make a healthy smoothie  Use coconut water or water instead of concentrated juice Many smoothie makers add concentrated juices to their smoothies to make up the bulk of the flavour. But the concentrated juices they add may contain added sugars and preservatives that you may not be aware of. The safest bet is to ask for or use coconut water (no sugar added, it should be slightly sweet naturally) or just plain water. If it is a good combo of fruits and vegetables, you shouldn’t taste much of a difference. Rather than relying on concentrated juice, opt for smoothies with frozen fruit as the main flavour. Unsweetened coconut water option: Blue Monkey Organic Coconut Water 1L   Add at least one source of fat in your smoothie Having lots of fruits in your smoothie isn’t the end of the world, but if your smoothie is only made up of fruits, your blood sugar may quickly spike and drop. If you’ve ever felt hungry or tired right after drinking a “healthy” smoothie, you may have experienced a blood sugar roller coaster. In order for a smoothie to have some sustenance, you need to add a little source of healthy fat. This helps slow the absorption of sugar into the body, so you stay full longer and still get that yummy flavour. Healthy fat options to add to your smoothies: ¼ avocado 1 tbsp nut butters 1 cup coconut milk ½ tbsp chia or flax seeds Do not replace a whole meal with a smoothie unless absolutely necessary Ideally, your meals involve some chewing action. Your digestion thrives when you take the time to chew your food properly, and even though you might not feel it, a smoothie containing lots of fruits and vegetables still requires optimal digestion so that you absorb all the nutrients. The process of chewing helps your digestive system release digestive juices and enzymes, which are needed to break down the foods in the smoothie. You can eat a little snack with your smoothie, or take the time to chew your smoothie, at least in the first few bites. It makes a big difference in how you digest it! How to keep smoothies a part of your healthy routine Even though smoothies should not replace meals, if you’re on the go and a smoothie is the only thing you have time to drink or eat, it’s better to have a smoothie than skipping a meal! Make sure you are adding in a source of healthy fat and protein to get the same optimal nutrition you would get in a regular meal. With strategic planning, you can up-level your smoothies and make them work for you! Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram. 

How to Choose the Best Vitamin C Supplement

best vitamin c
Currently, vitamin C is one of the most popular supplements on the market. This powerful nutrient often makes a comeback to the display shelves every flu season. Given the unique circumstances of 2020-2021, it is no surprise that vitamin C has continuously been flying off the shelves more often than usual. Not only is vitamin C an important player in the immune system, but it also helps improve iron absorption, build collagen, prevent oxidative stress, strengthen arteries, and support brain health. Even with all these benefits, humans are the only mammals that cannot create their own vitamin C. This means that we must prioritize getting vitamin C through our diets every day. The main food sources of vitamin C are raw fruits and vegetables, and taking a supplement can ensure we are getting optimal doses every day. Types of vitamin C supplements It is easy to get overwhelmed looking at all the vitamin C options in the health food store. Not only does vitamin C come in different doses, they also come in different forms. Ascorbic acid The scientific name of vitamin C is ascorbic acid – the two names are used interchangeably. The ascorbic acid form is the most researched and widely available form of vitamin C. Compared to other forms, it is relatively cheap, though not as absorbable. Taking high doses can result in an accumulation of unabsorbed vitamin C in the intestines, leading to diarrhea. To counter the acidity of the vitamin, ascorbic acid should be taken after a meal so that the food can neutralize the pH. Ascorbic acid is also water-soluble and easily excreted through urine. As a result, this form tends to stay in the body for around 4 hours. When supplementing, taking frequent doses (1-3 times/day) ensures consistent levels of vitamin C. Best option: NOW Ascorbic Acid Powder 454g Calcium ascorbate (buffered vitamin C) Do not be confused when you see the word “calcium” on your vitamin C supplement. While ascorbic acid is acidic, ascorbate is bound to a mineral such as calcium, in order to make it neutral and better absorbed. For those that are prone to stomach upset, taking a buffered vitamin C can be easier on the digestive system. Because vitamin C is bound to a mineral, a lower dose of ascorbate can yield the same effect and absorption rate as an ascorbic acid that has a higher dose. Best option: New Roots Calcium Ascorbate Vitamin C 60 Capsules Vitamin C with bioflavonoids You may have seen some vitamin C supplements that contain an extra active ingredient known as bioflavonoids. These bioflavonoids are polyphenolic compounds naturally found in plants. Natural sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, will contain their own bioflavonoids. Many well-formulated vitamin C supplements will mimic this by adding bioflavonoids to their product, increasing absorbability. Best option: Natural Factors Vitamin C 1000mg Plus Bioflavonoids & Rosehips 90 Tablets Liposomal vitamin C Liposomes are like little fat-soluble containers that carry the vitamin C cargo to the cells, where it is absorbed directly. Because they are fat-soluble, they can easily enter the cell membrane. Each cell is surrounded by a bilayer of fatty acids. Normally, water-soluble vitamin C has a tricky time getting absorbed directly because water and oil do not mix. By encasing the vitamin C in a layer of its own layer of fatty acids, the bioavailability of liposomal vitamin C increases dramatically. Vitamin C is absorbed into the cells directly, so almost all of it can be used for various body functions. Plus, because it is not water-soluble like ascorbic acid, liposomal vitamin C stays in the body longer and only needs to be taken once a day. Best option: Cyto Matrix Liposomal C 225mL Which vitamin C should I choose? Now that you understand the different types of vitamin C supplements, you can make a better choice for yourself. While the more absorbable forms of vitamin C are more expensive, they also tend to have a better effect and can yield better results. Depending on how much vitamin C you consume in your daily diet, how often you can remember to take your supplements, and your personal budget, you may decide to pick one type of vitamin C over the other. Author Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram. 

Cassava Flour: A Superior Gluten-Free Alternative

Cassava Flour: A Superior Gluten-Free Alternative
Cassava – a root vegetable, long since a staple in the diet of millions of people across the world who depend on it to provide them with daily energy requirements.  For cassava flour to be produced, the cassava is grated, dried, and ground into a powder – this can be used to substitute for traditional wheat flour in recipes, particularly as it is gluten-free and allergen-free.  In terms of comparison, many people dislike alternatives to wheat flour because they lack the same texture, taste, and appearance for baking.  On the other hand, cassava flour is generally regarded as the most similar flour alternative to wheat flour and can be used not only for baking needs – but also for pasta dough, to thicken gravy and soups, or even as pie filling.  The substitution is a simplistic 1:1 in baking, so it makes it easy to change recipes. Cassava Flour for Those with Gluten-Intolerance, Allergies, or Sensitivities  Cassava flour is considered non-allergic and is extremely well tolerated in people that tend to have reactions, sensitivities, or allergies to gluten-containing grains, corn, nightshades, and soy.  As it’s a tuber, it also provides a suitable substitute for those with nut or drupe allergies that cannot use almond flour or coconut flour but still want a grain-free option. This makes cassava flour a Paleo-friendly option, and popular among those on autoimmune diets like GAPS as it is highly digestible. Are Cassava Flour and Tapioca Flour the Same Thing? Not exactly.  Both tapioca and cassava are derived from the same root, but tapioca is only made from the starchy part of the root (often bleached) and contains less dietary fiber, contains more calories, and has a more neutral taste.  Cassava has a mild, slightly nutty taste.  Compared to tapioca and many grain alternatives, cassava is low in calories, fat content, and has more nutritional value than refined white flours (wheat and rice).  As cassava flour is less starchy than tapioca, many find it more suitable for digestion. Cassava flour contains some fiber and vitamin C compared to alternatives, and raw cassava is high in many minerals, nutrients, and B-vitamins.  The flour contains resistant starch, which can feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, and promote overall colon health. Not only associated with gut health benefits but resistant starch is also linked to improved insulin sensitivity.  Doesn’t Cassava Contain Cyanide? Yes – as do many plant foods, including almonds and spinach.  This only applies if the cassava is eaten raw, and is not a concern with any cassava flour.  Any and all commercially produced cassava flours (and tapioca flours) do not contain levels of cyanide – the cooking process, heating process, soaking, peeling and drying all eliminate the cyanogenic glycosides naturally present in the tuber.  Cassava Flour – A Safe Alternative to Traditional Flours As a tuber similar to sweet potatoes and yams – and eaten widely around the world, cassava offers us a nutritional alternative to gluten-containing grains for use in recipes. Those with nut allergies or coconut allergies have an option that is well-tolerated and gentle on the stomach.  Its ease of use in recipes makes it a staple for anyone following a gluten-free diet or Paleo diet that still wants to incorporate baking into their daily life.  Quality Cassava Flours Available with Healthy Planet: Bob’s Red Mill Cassava Flour Otto’s Naturals Cassava Flour Anthony’s Goods – Premium Cassava Flour

Nutritional Yeast: Not Just Cheesy Goodness

Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast has long been known to vegans as a ‘go-to’ condiment for its cheesy, savory taste and supplemental B-12. If you’ve avoided nutritional yeast all this time, thinking it a ‘fad’ food – it is time to reconsider. Not only is it rich in protein, minerals, and B-vitamins: it also contains naturally present anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It also tastes great on popcorn, in a stir-fry, or especially in a tofu scramble. Nutritional Yeast vs. “Brewers” Yeast vs. “Baker’s Yeast – Candida Fears So, what exactly is nutritional yeast and how does it differ from the ‘yeast’ used traditionally in baking? Can this type of yeast contribute to candida overgrowth? Firstly, no – this type of yeast, nutritional yeast, cannot contribute and does not contribute to yeast, fungal, or candida overgrowth. In fact, studies seem to conclude the opposite, and nutritional yeast may be beneficial in those suffering from fungal concerns. In Sensitive individuals, it may cause headaches to those that are sensitive to the amino acids naturally present in high amounts, like tyramine and glutamate.  These are not related to candida concerns.  Nor can nutritional yeast “cause” candida overgrowth.  While nutritional yeast is derived from the same species of yeast as that used to bake bread and brew beer, they are ultimately different end products and should not be treated the same.  Brewer’s yeast is a by-product of the beer manufacturing process, while Baker’s yeast is an ‘active’ form of yeast that is used in baked goods and bread. The pasteurization and production process of nutritional yeast renders the yeast ‘inactive.’  This elimination of yeast cells during processing means it won’t fuel candida growth – which is more often fueled by sugars and refined carbohydrates. Foods containing live yeasts, prebiotics, or live bacteria can sometimes make symptoms worse.. things like kombucha and sauerkraut.  Antibiotics can also contribute as a huge factor when the good bacteria is killed, and the yeast can proliferate. In extremely rare documented cases, Brewer’s yeast (but not nutritional yeast), along with other ‘live’ forms of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was found to cause a response in those that were highly immunosuppressed.  This can be noted in cases of probiotic use as well, which is why it is also always advised to avoid the use of probiotics, bacterial cultures, or yeasts in those taking immune suppressants or those with auto-immune conditions unless confirmed by a medical professional.  It is important to know these occur very rarely and are not linked to a specific type of type, probiotic strain, or culture.  What about Mold Concerns? Again, there is no evidence to support that nutritional yeast, in particular contains mold toxins or fuels mold toxicity in those that are suffering.  Some suggest that “yeasts almost always contain high levels of mold toxins,” but do not cite any sources of this in relation to nutritional yeast. There are no research-based studies to support this claim.  One study cites brewer’s yeast as containing mold, but the amount varied wildly among the samples tested, and we do not know the origin of the yeast used or the conditions in which it was produced or stored.  They also make the mistake of suggesting that “when you eat yeast, it encourages a yeast-like fungus called ‘Candida albicans’ to grow in your body.” This is not the case.  Not all yeasts are the same strain, and not all yeast contribute to fungal growth or overgrowth – particularly when it comes to Candida.  Nutritional yeast is a dried, and inactive form of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Again, the keyword there is inactive.  Beta-Glucans as Protective Against Mold Toxicity Beta-glucan, a component naturally present in nutritional yeast, was shown to support gut health, integrity, and product against fungal and mold toxins – mycotoxins, in particular.  The most effective form of beta-glucan is actually derived from the same strain as nutritional yeast.  Beta-glucans are considered ‘sugars’ that are formed in the cell walls of yeast – more complex than what we think of as simple sugars like fructose, they are polysaccharides.  These actually prevent the rapid absorption of simple sugars from food and are often used for heart disease because they bind to cholesterol.  Beta-glucans have been shown to stimulate white blood cells, protect against invading pathogens, and can scavenge free radicals from toxin exposure, environmental illness, or mold exposure.  This is vital both in cases of candida infection and mold-related illness.  For those concerned that they will ‘overstimulate’ the immune system, and create a cytokine ‘storm’ as seen in immune responses to viral infections – this does not ...

How to Optimize Protein Intake for Weight Loss or Mass Building Goals

How to Optimize Protein Intake for Mass Building Goals
We’ve been led to believe that higher protein intake is always better – it has to be better than carbs, or fat – right? Both carbohydrates and fat have been demonized in recent years as both boogeymen origins of inflammation and illness, but it is truly not that simplistic. As we’ve started to gain a better understanding as more research and studies come to light, we can now look at fat and recognize it depends on the quality and type of fat used, what it is being consumed with, and how it is being incorporated into a healthy diet. No longer is the emphasis on removing fat from the diet, only to replace it with things that are much worse and inflammation-promoting. The same applies to carbohydrates – refined sugars and refined grains lead to inflammation. On the other hand, complex carbohydrates from vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds can all be extremely antioxidant-rich, protecting against illness and disease. In most cases, a healthy diet is one that encompasses a variety of whole foods and nutrients – both micro, and macro. At the same time, the key importance is to avoid refined foods and grains, artificial sugars, vegetable oils, and red meats. While specific types of diets or lifestyles like the ‘ketogenic’ diet are a great tool for weight loss or managing medical conditions, they are not a ‘one size fits all' approach that will work for everyone. Many of these diets are not sustainable long-term. At the end of the day, they are simply that – a tool. How You Can Incorporate High-Protein into a Healthy Diet Protein plays an important role in many bodily processes and is essential to healthy growth, development, organ function, and mass. But can there be too much of a good thing? Most research seems to indicate that a higher protein intake, above the recommended daily amount, is not required to gain and may actually place more stress on the kidneys as opposed to improving health. The RDA recommendation is about 0.36 grams per pound, while for athletes or intensive trainers, it ranges up to ~0.86 grams per pound. On a 2500 calorie diet for someone weighing in at 160-175 pounds, this roughly equals ~70 grams of protein (or ~280 calories) for the average individual per day, which is easily attainable from either animal-based sources or plant-based sources. For those that are athletes, active, malnourished, or trying to lose weight: incorporating more protein into the diet also does not appear to do any harm, provided it is not a primary source of calories long-term, and the protein choices are smart ones. Getting most of those 2500 calories from healthy protein choices does not seem feasible, does it? Long-term, your kidneys would have a difficult time, and you’d likely smell of ammonia…    What healthy protein means is – reducing intake of red meats, processed meats, and conventional dairy, while instead opting for fish and seafood, eggs, plant-based protein like legumes, and vegetables. Is Plant-Based Protein Comparable to Animal Protein? It is a misunderstanding that plant-based foods are not comparable to animal-based proteins in terms of quality and benefit. While animal-based protein may seem to promote a stronger anabolic response for muscle mass building and utilization, plant-based protein can meet the same nutritional demands. While you would have to eat a much larger serving of vegetables to get the same amount of protein and amino acid profile as some beef, beef is also more difficult to eat more of and tends to promote an inflammatory response compared to foods with high levels of antioxidants and polyphenols, like vegetables. Further, most plant foods do in fact contain all the essential amino acids needed by the body – just in much smaller amounts, depending on the food. This is why high-quality plant-based sources like beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, leafy greens, etc. are combined together in meals to ensure these needs are met with ease. In one of the largest studies conducted on the matter, including 30 (!) years of data, the risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer were increased primarily with processed and unprocessed red meats (particularly pork) – but not from fish, seafood or poultry. Conversely, a higher intake of plant-based protein was associated with all lower mortality risks and better health. Selecting The Right Protein Powder for You Protein powders and protein supplements can play an important role in meeting daily protein needs, as an easy way to reach a high level of protein without cooking or stressing. This is especially true for bodybuilders or athletes that do not constantly have the time to be cooking and eat healthy, high-protein meals. The importance then lies in selecting a protein powder that meets your nutritional goals and dietary restrictions. It is essential to select one that is free from ...

Are you Missing out on this Superior form of Vitamin C?

Vitamin C
Did you know that vitamin C is one of the only vitamins that your body cannot produce on its own? We rely completely on our diet to satisfy all our vitamin C needs. And with its many benefits, there are no shortages to the number of amazing effects we receive from this powerful vitamin. As a potent antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect each of your cells from free radicals, heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, while keeping your immune system balanced and ready to fight! Whole food vitamin C vs. ascorbic acid Whole food vitamin C refers to fruits and vegetables that naturally contain vitamin C. Supplement companies have been able to work with farms to cultivate crops and freeze-dry these foods to use them as daily doses. Since the vitamin C content depends on how the crops were grown and how fresh they were before being freeze-dried, it is more difficult to control the vitamin C that you get from these types of powders or supplements. However, the form of vitamin C from whole foods is far superior to anything made in a lab from a synthetic source. Our bodies were designed to use and absorb vitamin C in conjunction with other compounds like flavonoids, and both are found naturally in fruits and vegetables. They also contain many other vitamins and minerals together that allow your body to easily recognize and absorb larger amounts of vitamin C. Should I throw away my vitamin C supplements? To be clear, supplements made with ascorbic acid are not harmful. These supplements have their own purpose, but whole food vitamin C for daily use can be more absorbable and natural. If you prefer relying on ascorbic acid for its accurate dosing, you can choose a vitamin C supplement that contains bioflavonoids in its formula to reap all the benefits. Option: AOR C + Bioflavonoids 200 Veggie Caps Whole food vitamin C supplement options Camu Camu This sour berry is a superfood that has one of the highest levels of vitamin C and other powerful plant compounds. They are harvested all the way from the Amazon rainforest and minimally processed to retain all their nutrients. Option: Ecoideas Camu Camu 120 Capsules Acerola Acerola is a type of cherry that is native to the tropical regions of the Western Hemisphere, such as Barbados, Mexico, and the Caribbean. They are a mix between cherries and berries, with their taste being somewhere in between. Most people find them very pleasant tasting. Option: Flora Acerola Powder 50g Oranges When it comes to vitamin C, we can’t forget about oranges. Orange juice is often advertised as an ideal source of vitamin C, and they’re not wrong. However, many companies add sugar, fillers, and preservatives to the orange juices, and many don’t contain many oranges at all. To truly reap the benefits of vitamin C from oranges, consider a supplement that sources oranges as their main ingredient. You will get way more vitamin C than eating a couple of oranges! Option: Mega Food Daily C-Protect 63.9g How to incorporate whole food vitamin C into your daily routine Many whole food vitamin C options will come in powder form, as they are simply freeze-dried versions of the original fruit. Because of this, they will not contain any fillers or preservatives that you may find in even the most expensive supplements. Think of it as an easier way to eat larger quantities of vitamin-rich fruits, without having to worry about freshness or the expensive price tag. To enjoy these foods on a daily basis, you can add them into smoothies, chia seed pudding, oatmeal, yogurt, or even plain old water. Once you make it a habit, you’ll be on your way to getting superior vitamin C without thinking twice! Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram.

How to Prevent Nutrient Deficiencies while on the Birth Control Pill

Birth Control Pill
Oral birth control, or “the pill”, has done many great things for women. It’s given freedom, but like many prescription medications, there are side effects that cannot be neglected. Yes, it can prevent unwanted pregnancy and improve period problems. On the other hand, the long-term health consequences aren’t frequently discussed, and they can have a significant impact on your daily life. Once you understand how the pill works and how it can really impact your body in the long term, you can take a proactive approach to prevent these side effects. Common side effects of the pill Being moody all the time  Depression  Increased risk of stroke  Increased risk of thyroid and adrenal disorders  Increased risk of heart attacks Fatigue Hair loss Dry skin Low libido Change in periods Leaky gut  Depletion of key nutrients: magnesium, zinc, B vitamins and vitamin C How does the birth control pill work? The pill acts on all your hormones, not just your sex hormones responsible for the pregnancy. This means that everything from your metabolism to your stress can be affected.  Your natural estrogen and progesterone hormone levels will change and fluctuate every cycle. When you take the pill, you are giving yourself a dose of synthetic estrogen and progesterone, with a week of sugar pills (no hormones). These synthetic hormones suppress your natural hormone fluctuations, so you won’t be able to release an egg each cycle (ovulation) and get pregnant.  During the week you are taking the sugar pills, you will experience a bleed and have a “period” as a result of hormone withdrawal. It’s not the same as a natural period, which is why your period problems likely went away after starting the pill.  Why the pill does not fix hormone problems  When it comes to hormones, the pill is a band-aid solution. While you’re on it, you can suppress your own hormones and perhaps your PMS symptoms too. But once you stop, you’ll likely be right back where you started. The more times you’ve taken the pill does not mean you are working towards your hormones being more “balanced”. In fact, the longer you stay on the pill, the more you suppress your body’s natural processes and hormonal fluctuations.  How to protect yourself from the negative side effects of the pill It’s not always feasible to get off the pill, so the best thing you can do is support your body with the right nutrients. Key nutrients such as magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin C and zinc are depleted by the pill, so you can choose to eat more nutrient-dense foods or use supplements. Supplement options New Roots Pure Magnesium Bisglycinate 130mg 120 Capsules AOR Advanced B Complex Ultra 60 Time-Release Tablets Mega Food Complex C 72 Tablets NFH Zinc SAP 60 Capsules Nutrient-dense foods Leafy greens Oysters Grassfed beef Beef or chicken liver Camu camu Avocado Coconut water Staying on the pill Whether you choose to stay on the pill or not, you can be proactive in making sure your body is still receiving and absorbing all the key nutrients. The more you know about the side effects and nutrient deficiencies, the better you can prepare yourself. Author Grace Tien is a women’s health holistic nutritionist. She helps her clients optimize their nutrition habits so that they can get rid of afternoon slumps and live each day full of energy. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at on Instagram.
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