I know we've heard it a thousand times, "get your fruits and vegetables in every single day". We know that aiming for 5-10 servings each day will dramatically lower your risk of disease and increase energy and vitality. We know these fruits and vegetables are loaded with beneficial nutrients that fight oxidative stress, and nourish our bodies from the inside out. If we know and understand this information, then why is it that less than half of the Canadian population consumes their 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day? According to Statistics Canada, a merely 39.5% of people over the age of 12 reports eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Of this percentage, women were more likely than men to consume their daily servings.
Often when I am sitting listening to my clients, they know this information but it is the action where they get completely stuck! They know they need 5-10 servings of fruits and vegetables but who has the time for that? If you are wondering 'how do I have time to consume all of that in one day?' it's because you don't have a strategy in place. There are simple and effective ways you can increase your fruit and vegetable intake with a little bit of strategic action and intention setting. It can become that simple and a part of your everyday routine. I also, always come back to the self-love piece with clients, because I truly believe this is the root of health and the decisions/action you make each day around your health. That is another blog topic for another day though! Let's have a look below to understand a brief guideline of what one serving consists of.
5-10 Servings of Fruits + Veggies (ideally 2-3 servings of fruit and 7-8 servings of vegetables)
How much is one serving? Follow this guideline below.
The Colours in Fruits and Vegetables + What They Mean
Adding in brightly colored fruits and vegetables into your day and into your meals provides a delicious visual appeal. In addition to the visual appeal, there are three types of pigment in fruits and vegetables and each pigment has unique health benefits.
The first is chlorophyll which comes from the color green. Chlorophyll helps improve liver detoxification, is a powerful antioxidant that has anticancer effects, supports wound healing, protects the skin (from cold sores), improves digestion and weight control (by controlling appetite hormones).
The second are carotenoids which comes from the colors orange and yellow. These contain powerful antioxidant effects, which lower inflammation and protect our cells from oxidative stress, the primary cause of aging and degeneration. There are different types of carotenoids which include Beta-Carotene, A Carotene, Lutein and Zeaxanthin, and Lycopene. Each of these types of carotenoids have an array of health benefits from protecting eye health to having anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
The third are flavonoids which comes from the colors blue, red and cream colors. These are one of the most well-known to scientists and include approximately 6,000 types. The most common types are quercetin, catechins and anthocyanidins. These help improve blood flow to the brain, increasing cognitive function and they contain powerful antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.
Here are 7 Simple Ways to Increase your Intake
1. Smoothies + Juices
If you've worked with me or follow me on social media you know that I love to encourage the consumption of smoothies and juices. Yes, it seems so simple, but this is an amazing way you can load your body up with anti-inflammatory fresh fruits and vegetables. I like to refer to this as mega nutrient dosing the body. Make sure your smoothies contain both fruit and vegetables and not just fruit. We want to make sure we are getting all those dark leafy greens in each day which are loaded with B vitamins (our stress vitamins), chlorophyll and help support hormones and healthy digestion.
One smoothie and one juice a day is a great starting point. Both have different health benefits, remember juices don't contain beneficial fiber like smoothies. Smoothies are an amazing meal substitute since they are loaded with fiber, fat and protein (when made correctly), especially for breakfast and juices are an amazing snack in between meals as that instant pick-me-up.
Omelets are a simple way to load in the veggies. Cook up some delicious organic eggs and go heavy on the veggies to boost your intake. Chop a bunch of vegetables up and toss in with an egg for a satiating and filling meal. Lightly sauté your veggies in some coconut or avocado oil. My favorite vegetables to pair with eggs are onion, tomatoes, kale, spinach and brightly colored bell peppers. Fresh herbs on hand? Toss these in too!
You can take any traditional soup recipe or any of your favorite soup recipes and double the amount it suggests for veggies. This is a super easy way to increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus soups are incredibly gentle on the digestive system. If you suffer from a lot of digestive discomfort after your meals like cramping, constipation or bloating, try adding in soups that are gentler on the digestive process and make sure to load up on the anti-inflammatory veggies and fresh herbs.
Take one of your favorite premade sauces, sauté a ton of vegetables and add into the sauce to heat on the stove top. Use the sauce as an easy way to increase your veggie intake even if you don't want to make from scratch and want to use a store-bought jar of sauce. If you aren't making the sauce from scratch, just make sure to choose a brand that’s organic with no additives, preservatives and sugar added.
5. Chopped Veggies and Fruit Always on Hand
Always have your veggies and fruit chopped ready to go. Keep your veggies, like carrots, broccoli, celery, and cauliflower soaked in water in the fridge to keep them fresh. If they are already precut ready to go you are more likely to eat them or to snack on them periodically throughout the day. Pick up some glass containers or mason jars that you can neatly store them in.
6. Do a Plate Check
Always do a plate check before eating. Every single one of your meals throughout the day-breakfast, lunch and dinner should contain half a plate of vegetables. If your plate is only 1 quarter full, time to add some more veggies into your meal before diving in. Your shopping cart shouldresemble this as well. Awareness is everything when improving your health and habits. If you don’t have the awareness you can't make the changes. Also, consistency is key! Take it day by day but make it a non-negotiable for your health to increase your fruit and veggie intake on a consistent basis not simply on the occasion.
7. Snack on Fruits + Veg
What do you currently snack on? Chips? Chocolate? Cookies? Crackers? Opt for fresh fruits and veggies instead. Make a delicious fruit salad or chop up veggies and top with your favorite nut butters or dips like guacamole or hummus. Here are a few of my favorite combos: Celery or Carrots + Nut or Seed Butter, Cucumber or Peppers + Hummus, Broccoli or Cauliflower + Beet Dip. Also, it is important to note that typically for digestion it is best to eat fruit alone, this is unique however to the individual. If you find you are experiencing digestive discomfort by combining your fruit with other foods make sure to have it separately, approximately 2 hours away from other foods giving your body time to digest and consuming fruit on an empty stomach. If however you feel fine try adding delicious nut butters onto an apple, pear or any of your other favorite fruits! Adding a healthy fat to the fruit can help balance blood sugars and improve insulin sensitivity.
Try implementing these strategies and watch how simple it really is to hit those numbers each day! I would love to hear from you as to what your easy ways are to increase your fruit and veggie intake each day?
- Stephanie XO
Our digestion and the health of our gut is by far one of the most important fundamentals of overall health and wellbeing. If the health of your gut is imbalanced and you are experiencing digestive issues like gas, bloating, constipation and abdominal discomfort then this article is for you. It's no picnic experiencing these symptoms and you may be wondering what the heck is going on? Well, over the years of perhaps not being in tune with your digestion, or in tune with how to support the gut naturally, we can start to experience some of these not-so-pleasant digestive symptoms. The bright side is you are in full control of how you feel, and if you are experiencing any of these digestive symptoms it is simply a sign that something is off, and it's your body's way of communicating that it needs healing. Here are 7 highly encouraged tips for you to follow if you are experiencing any digestive issues.
1. Remove Offenders
First step to healing the gut is to remove offenders. This includes food sensitivities, intolerances and allergies. You can try removing the most common offenders such as gluten, wheat, dairy, soy, peanuts, shellfish and corn. Ditch the unhealthy oils, refined sugars, GMO's, processed and packaged foods that contain additives and preservatives which hinder proper digestion as well. Then, start to consume a real food, wholesome and nutrient dense diet, consisting of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, seeds, lean organic meats like fish and chicken and legumes. Keep in mind if you have been diagnosed with any chronic digestive illnesses such as Crohn's, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or Ulcerative Colitis it is best to work with a registered or certified Holistic Nutritionist to give you a more specific food protocol based on your diagnosis.
2. Cook Your Veggies
A raw food diet can sometimes be tough on the digestive system and if we are already experiencing digestive symptoms this can simply worsen them. Try cooking your vegetables to ease the digestive process. By cooking your vegetables you begin to break down the vegetables and the fibers they contain making the digestive process easier. To support digestion you can boil, steam, sauté or roast them. You can also try mashing your veggies or try eating your vegetables in soups to further support digestion and to increase your body's ability to absorb all of the amazing nutrients.
3. Consume Your Dynamic Duo (Probiotics and Prebiotics)
This is absolutely the dynamic duo of gut health. Your gut health depends on the trillions of strains of healthy bacteria. Your digestion and immunity depends on the health of these bacteria and its communities. We are in fact made more of bacteria than we are cells, and bacteria outnumbers cells in the body 10 to 1. Crazy right? Bacteria can be unhealthy or healthy bacteria, and when we have an outnumbered amount of bad bacteria, that’s when digestive issues can arise. Probiotics are those "healthy bacteria", which we can get from several food sources. Fermented food such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, kefir and any other fermented vegetablescontain those probiotics that will support healthy digestion. Prebiotics on the other hand are also important to aid in digestion, because they are the food and fuel for the probiotics. Without proper levels of prebiotics the healthy bacteria cannot thrive, grow and multiply in the digestive tract. So where can you get prebiotics? There is a unique strain of resistant starch which is in white potatoes, which is a prebiotic and you can get it in a concentrated supplement form. Other prebiotics food sources include artichokes, garlic, dandelion greens and onions. Pair the consumption of probiotics and prebiotics daily, and you are well on your way to optimal gut health!
4. Support Your Liver
Without the health of your liver, digestion can't do its job. The liver plays a vital role in processing all of the foods we take in and is responsible for removing toxins from the body. It is our ultimate detoxifying center! When it is bombarded with toxins, pesticides, chemicals, additives and other harsh substances, it can get overwhelmed making it hard to eliminate. As a result your digestion can then be affected. There are many liver friendly foods that can help support the detox pathways in the body and aid in the elimination of toxins, such as cruciferous vegetables (brussel sprouts, broccoli and cabbage) beets, apples, lemons, limes, berries, turmeric, dandelion root, green tea, avocados and garlic. Make sure you are also drinking lots of quality, filtered water, aim for 8-10 glasses daily of water to support the livers detoxifying process.
5. Start Consuming Bone Broth
Have you ever tried bone broth? Bone broth is one of the best sources of collagen. The tissue that makes up the lining of the intestinal tract needs collagen. It acts as a protector to the digestive tract, helps heal leaky gut syndrome and can soothe the lining of the GI tract. Since we know the liver plays a vital role in digestion, bone broth also boosts the supply of glutathione in the body. Glutathione is made in the liver and is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body detoxify.
6. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
In order to break down food particles you need hydrochloric acid, also known as stomach acid. Over time and as we age the levels of stomach acid can often decrease. Stomach acid levels can decrease over time from chronic stress, overuse of antibiotics, eating too quickly, poor diet, regular consumption of food sensitivities, and small intestinal bacterial growth. In order to support the natural process and healthy levels of hydrochloric acid, try regularly consuming apple cider vinegar. Mix approximately 1 tablespoon of raw, organic apple cider vinegar in a cup of room temperature water and stir. Drink this before a meal and this will help raise those levels naturally, easing the digestive process. Try not to drink more water during your meal as this can actually dilute the stomach acid levels in the body. Best to drink fluids throughout your day in between meals.
7. Slow Down and Chew
Our autonomic nervous system is composed of two main branches. We have sympathetic mode, which is fight or flight and parasympathetic mode which is rest digest and repair. When we are constantly eating our meals on the go, while we are driving, working or talking on the phone we aren't mindfully eating, and chances are we are in "fight or flight" mode. Fight or flight mode raises cortisol levels in the body (our stress hormones), making it hard for the body to properly digest foods, and assimilate nutrients for absorption. It also lowers our digestive juices and hydrochloric acids in the body. Take time out in your day to eat, make sure you're in a calm and relaxing state, chew your food mindfully, and aim for twenty chews before swallowing until your food is a nice mushy consistency. Eating while in parasympathetic mode and chewing your food has a positive effect on digestion.
Know that you are in control of this process. There is a lot you can do to heal your digestion. There is no need to live with the constant struggle of digestive issues such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, acid reflux and constipation. Remember these are not normal and are all signs that something is off and you need to make some changes. If you are seeking further advice and want expert support make sure to seek out a trained practitioner that specializes in digestive health.
Imbalanced hormones are incredibly common amongst many women! I hear the common complaints of hormonal acne, bloating, cramping and more. Wondering why has become such a common problem? Well, there isn't one reason why hormones can become imbalanced. They can be tricky and complicated. Many components of your chosen lifestyle can create this imbalance and there are SO many types of "imbalances" from PCOS, PMS, Endometriosis, Estrogen Dominance, Hypothyroidism and more.
Let's first look at some of the surprisingly common symptoms associated with Estrogen Dominance (which can result in Infertility, PCOS, PMS, Uterine Fibroids, Thyroid Dysfunction and Endometriosis).
So that is quite a long list, I know. If you commonly experience several of these, chances are you need to do some work balancing those hormones. Now, let's look at what creates imbalanced hormones. Ever wondered why and how hormones even become imbalanced in the first place? The holistic view understands that it's not one reason but a compound effect over time from the environment and our diet.
Here are a few things that over time can contribute to imbalanced hormones:
Balancing hormones is not a quick fix, it takes time and consistent action and is recommended to work with a Holistic Nutritionist or Naturopath who can help you understand what foods should be eaten and any nutritional supplementation to support the process. But for the sake of this lovely article, we are going to chat about one of my favorite ingredients to add into your regimen for balancing those lovely hormones of yours and that is turmeric.
Turmeric is an Ayurvedic spice used in Indian cuisine that has powerful anti-inflammatory benefits. On top of this anti-inflammatory effect it has on the body it improves estrogen metabolism. So, if you have high estrogen, turmeric is an amazing addition into your daily routine because of its anti-estrogenic properties. Lastly, turmeric supports the liver. The liver is responsible for clearing out excess estrogen from the body, clearing toxins from the blood, producing bile and converting food to energy. The active component of turmeric, curcumin has been shown in studies to support the detoxification ability of the liver, enhancing it's ability to clear out any of those nasty unwanted toxins which contribute to imbalanced hormones. Turmeric also protects again oxidative stress and can increase glutathione, which is an enzyme that the liver produces, which acts as a powerful antioxidant.
What Should You look For When Choosing Turmeric?
When choosing turmeric look for one that is certified organic and non-irradiated. Spices are one of the top most irradiated foods, this means nutrients are damaged through the irradiation process. Be aware that foods which have been irradiated cannot be labeled as USDA certified organic.
How Should You Consume This Delicious Spice?
You can add it into any of your dishes when sautéing to add a bit of flavor and spice or you can consume it my favorite way, which is as a golden milk latte. Follow this simple and easy recipe below.
Golden Milk Latte Ingredients:
Turmeric also has blood sugar lowering capabilities, and when paired with cinnamon (best quality source is ceylon cinnamon) it can help support blood sugar control in the body. In this recipe we have added in some great sources of quality fats (which we need for hormones to properly function) through the coconut oil and coconut milk. This recipe is perfectly paired and is waiting for you to replace it with your morning cuppa!
Daily, I also take my life saving lorna vanderhaughe supplement called estrosmart which contains turmeric as one of the ingredients. I would love to hear what's your favorite way of adding in Turmeric to your daily regimen?
*Please consult a practitioner and your physician before taking any new supplements. Link on anti-estrogenic properties - Link to lorna vanderhaughe - Link to root alive
Stephanie Morrison is a certified holistic nutritionist, registered yoga and meditation instructor with a passion for guiding others along their healing path. She uses a combination food, supplementation, homeopathics and lifestyle recommendations to create balance in the body and address the root cause of her clients health symptoms. She works in private clinic setting specializing in hormonal, digestive and emotional health.