Carbohydrate restriction is a proven way to stimulate weight loss; removing foods like bread, pasta, cereals, rice, muffins and other grain products from your diet for a period of time assists with “retraining” and improving your body’s response to insulin, the ultimate key to any effective weight loss plan.
Keeping insulin levels low is the rationale behind low-carb diets and the reason I recommend the Glyci-Med way of eating in my book, The Hormone Diet. But the low-carb lifestyle can have drawbacks. Some people feel a slight decrease in energy or in mood when they limit carbs, and because these foods are a source of fiber, removing them often causes a nasty case of constipation!
Why is constipation so bad?
If things are not “moving along” properly at least once (optimally, 2-3 times) per day it is tough to feel healthy, let alone slim. Obvious negative issues associated with constipation include feeling bloated, pain in the abdomen, occasional cramping and abdominal distention.
Not only is constipation unpleasant, it is not without repercussions on other aspects of your health. Simply stated, the longer waste remains in your large intestine, the longer undesirable byproducts of digestion and elimination will be permitted to reabsorb into your system. This can result in headaches, fatigue, increased menstrual pain and cramping, acne and other signs of toxicity. Chronic constipation can increase the risk of certain types of cancers; breast and colon cancer rates have been found to be higher in women with a history of chronic constipation. I encourage you to do something today if this is a pattern of constipation in your past or if you experience an acute response to reducing grains in your diet. To find out what you can do, click here.
The changes in a woman’s body between the ages of 35 and 55 could be referred to as the “midlife expansion”. It is a time when weight gain occurs more easily, fat accumulates around the waist and stomach rather than on the hips or thighs and maintaining weight or body shape becomes extra difficult. This change in body shape occurs primarily because of the alternations in hormone balance in addition to the normal effects of aging. There is a natural tendency to lose muscle every year after the age of 30 without a focused effort to maintain it. But, weight gain does not have to be inevitable! For tips to help you avoid the midlife expansion, click here.
Abdominal fat fuels hormonal imbalance just as hormonal imbalance fuels abdominal fat. It’s tough to say which sets in first, but research firmly establishes that those of us who tend to accumulate pounds around the waist (apple shape) have a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure than those who carry excess weight on the hips and thighs (pear shape). One of the quickest ways to determine whether you are hormonally imbalanced is to measure your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). Calculating your WHR determines definitively whether the weight around your midsection exceeds that surrounding your hips and thighs.
Calculating your WHR determines definitively whether the weight around your midsection exceeds that surrounding your hips and thighs. Measure your waist just about a thumb-width below your belly button, the widest part of your waist. Measure your hips around the widest part of your buttocks. A waist measurement of more than 89 centimetres (35 inches) for women or more than 102 centimetres (40 inches) for men is pushing into the unhealthy range. Next, calculate your WHR by dividing the measurement of your waist by the measurement of your hips. If your WHR is greater than 0.9 for men or 0.8 for women, you are also at risk. For example, let’s say Mary’s waist measures 71 centimetres (28 inches) and her hips are 84 centimetres (33 inches). Her waist-to-hip ratio would be calculated as follows: 84 ÷ 71 = 0.84 (28 ÷ 33 = 0.84). Because 0.8 is considered unsafe for women, Mary is at risk and needs to lose some belly fat. What’s your waist-to-hip ratio?
In this anti-bacterial age, most people would never recognize bacteria as a good thing. But, in the right places and amounts, strains of beneficial bacteria exist that are valuable to our health and wellness. These beneficial bacteria, also called probiotics, are found mostly in our digestive tract and actually colonize within our systems just days after birth – especially if we were breastfed.
Under normal circumstances, friendly bacteria in our digestive system live in symbiotic harmony, but factors such as poor diet or medications such as the pill, antibiotics, and corticosteroids, can upset this balance and lead to a host of difficulties. Hence, the maintenance and protection of our healthy bacteria through proper nourishment and if necessary, supplementation, is very important to good health.
The Good News about Probiotics
All probiotics improve the balance of the intestinal microflora. Research has found these live microorganisms are cancer-protective, immune-enhancing and anti-inflammatory. Probiotics prevent infections and yeast overgrowth by blocking harmful bacteria from attaching to intestinal walls and by maintaining intestinal pH. They improve digestive function and assist with the production of a number of vitamins, including vitamins K, B12, B5 and biotin. Examples of the most abundant probiotic bacteria include lactobacillus and bifidobacteria species while saccharomyces boulardii is a common probiotic yeast. Bifidobacteria, the first probiotics to inhabit our digestive system, are present mostly in the large intestine whereas lactobacilli are normally present in higher amounts in the small intestine and vagina.
Bacteria Have Needs Too
For probiotic microorganisms to thrive, they must be given the proper environment and food sources. Prebiotics are non-digestible, oligosaccarhide (several types of sugar molecules linked together) ingredients in our food that are the food sources for probiotics. Often consuming these alone can assist with boosting probiotic bacteria. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin are molecules of fructose and/or glucose linked together. They feed, nourish and increase probiotic bacteria, especially bifidobacteria. Both inulin and FOS can naturally be found in chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke and of course, in supplements, but FOS are also found in foods such as onions, asparagus, garlic, bananas, barley, wheat, rye, and tomatoes.
Prebiotics have benefits beyond the positive effects on digestive flora. They are cancer- protective as butyrate, a known anti-cancer compound, is produced when the bacteria break down the oligosaccharides in our digestive tract. Prebiotics lower triglycerides, but just exactly how is unknown. They also regulate blood sugars, possibly through two mechanisms. Firstly, through short chain fatty acids which are produced during the break down of prebiotics and keep sugar use to a minimum and maintain low insulin levels (this can also aid weight loss). Secondly, prebiotics increase bowel transit time which may allow for less sugar absorption.
Yogurt naturally contains probtiotics, but supplements may be more effective if you are looking for a concentrated source. On average, a good maintenance dose is one to two billion of both lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, once a day, away from food. During antibiotic therapy, you should increase the dose significantly and take the probiotic for twice the length of time of your antibiotic treatment. You may experience gas and bloating at the onset of treatment. Simply reduce the dose and slowly increase it as your body adapts. If you use prebiotics, the dosage of FOS and inulin ranges from four to 10 grams per day. Some supplements may contain both prebiotics and probiotics.
A “diet saboteur” is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing – it may look healthy, but upon closer inspection you will find hidden sugars, hydrogenated oils, and even high sodium – and it can definitely put a damper on your weight loss goals. Here are a few common ones to watch out for:
Fat-free yogurt with added fruit. Plain yogurt is better for you as it typically contains 6grams of protein, 6grams of carbohydrates and a few grams of fat. A fat-free yogurt contains 27 grams of carbohydrates, 4 grams of protein and no fat. Purchase plain yogurt and add your own fruit. Or, if you really must have the sweetened yogurt, mix half of it with unsweetened or plain yogurt to decrease the amount of sugar per serving.
Packets of artificial sweeteners and foods containing artificial sweeteners. This includes diet pop! Although sweeteners do not seem to influence blood sugars, they have been found to alter insulin, resulting in increased cravings and hunger. Many sweeteners have also been linked to certain types of cancers.
Packaged nuts (almonds, peanuts). Most of these products contain hydrogenated oils or vegetable oils. Substitute with raw nuts you can purchase from a health food or bulk food store.
Cereals which are marketed as “healthy choices”. For example, Kellogg’s Vector cereal does contain more vitamins and minerals than other cereals, but it also contains a ton of sugar. The only breakfast cereal I would recommend is Kashi GoLEAN or slow-cooked oatmeal. Even with both of these options, you still need to add more protein to your breakfast (such as two or three egg whites) to remain in glycemic balance.
Too much fruit. Fruits contain natural sugars and just like anything else, too much is rarely a good thing. Aim for a maximum of three fruits per day and at least one of these daily servings should be berries. Other fruits you can enjoy include apples, pears, peaches, cherries or grapefruit. Avoid bananas and melons and never eat fruits on their own. Always enjoy fruits with foods that contain fat and protein such as nuts, yogurt or cheese.
Fizzy water (Perrier, etc.). Although fizzy water has little or no calories, it is very high in sodium and can cause water retention and bloating. Choose sodium-free options or better yet, drink pure water with lemon instead.
Coffee, lattes, teas. Too much caffeine interferes with fat metabolism. It influences blood sugar and insulin balance and can contribute to more abdominal fat. Although it is beneficial for weight loss to consume caffeine before a workout, high amounts of caffeine consumed throughout the day can be detrimental to your health. Drink green tea instead and limit your coffee intake to once daily. Avoid sugary drinks such as caramel or vanilla lattes that are high in calories.
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, and excessive caloric restriction. We should eat every three to four hours to make sure our metabolic engines keep running at top speed. Never skip meals and travel with snacks such as pieces of string cheese, raw almonds and cashews. Skipping meals and caloric restriction messes with blood sugar balance which may cause us to overeat later in the day. Skipping meals also raises stress hormones which inhibit weight loss and damage metabolism.
An interesting change is occurring in health, fashion, fitness and beauty care—it’s not just a girl thing anymore. You can thank David Beckam, the British soccer player well-known for wearing toenail polish and sarongs, for making this trend acceptable.
In the midst of this evolution, a proactive approach to healthcare is emerging and more men are adopting preventative measures like taking supplements, exercising, sleeping well and eating a balanced diet. In fact, new skin care products specifically for men are cropping up everywhere, and last year men had nearly 1.1 million cosmetic procedures—up 31% from 2002. Here are the basic vitamins every savvy guy should take to keep looking his best:
1. A good quality, highly absorbable multivitamin: Minerals and vitamins are needed for almost every biochemical process in the body, including a healthy metabolism, maintaining energy levels and for the production of hormones and brain chemicals crucial to wellness and optimal body composition.
2. EPA/DHA fish oils: Fish oils are naturally anti-inflammatory and are protective to the heart, brain, eyes and blood vessels. They help to protect the brain from the deleterious effects of a stressful lifestyle; they improve concentration and reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also highly moisturizing for the skin.
3. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid are essential for anti-aging and overall health. Antixodants such as these slow the aging process and work to prevent cellular damage which occurs from pollution, exposure to the sun, exercise, stress and normal metabolic processes in the body. Antioxidants are the internal fountain of youth, and they protect against cancer.
4. Calcium/magnesium: These two minerals are essential for healthy bones and for building muscles. Magnesium is involved in over 300 enzymatic processes and is a natural muscle relaxant. It may aid sleep as well. Calcium helps with muscle contraction and helps healthy bones, nails and teeth.
5. Whey protein powder: Anyone concerned with fitness should consume whey protein. Whey has been found to be more effective for fat loss than meat protein, which is good news for any carb-restricting, protein-consuming urban male. Whey protein isolates can also serve as source of glutathione, the most potent antioxidant in the body. It also has beneficial effects on the immune system as well as prostate health.
Standing in the shower running your hands through your hair, you suddenly realize that your hair is falling through your hands and right into the drain! It’s like a moment from a nightmare. You hope you’re going to wake up and have everything go back to normal—but unfortunately, it’s not a dream.Losing your hair, especially as a female, is traumatic. For reasons of vanity, obviously, but then also because it’s something that you feel you have absolutely no control over. This problem affects millions of women leading to depression, anxiety, a loss of self esteem and withdrawal from friends, family and daily activities. Losing your hair can mean losing your vitality and lust for life—it’s never something that should be taken lightly by your health care provider. Any sudden hair loss should be taken seriously. Some physicians might say: “It’s because you’re getting older” or “It’s because of your hormones,” but if you think you’re losing hair, your physician had better listen, because most likely, you are.
To find out about the possible causes and treatment options on thatsfit.ca.
Article: Female Hair Loss is Tramautic: Diet Tips and Vitamins That Can Help
Many peopled, myself included, think one of the most attractive parts of a the opposite sex’s body is their stomach—and maybe a nice set of shoulders…In any case, the last place you want fat hanging around is at your waist. It seems this is the first place it goes when you gain a few pounds and it is the last place to leave. Believe it or not, those pesky fat patches have more to do with hormonal balance than a pregnant woman eating pickles and ice cream!Love handles aren’t just unattractive, carrying weight around your abdomen is bad for your health—worse than carrying weight on your hips or thighs. Excess fat around the waist, or an apple body shape, is suggestive of insulin resistance, a condition that is linked to the development of heart disease and diabetes. It is also indicative of an imbalance in cortisol levels. Cortisol is a stress hormone, which, if chronically high, can result in increased deposition of fat around the abdomen. To further complicate the situation, feeling stressed out or depressed may worsen the problem.
Insulin is the chemical signal that allows sugar to enter your cells to be used as fuel. Insulin levels also have a direct impact on body composition, as these sugars are later stored as fat if they are not consumed as a source of energy. Insulin resistance causes levels of insulin in the blood to increase. This increase is related to a reduced sensitivity of the body tissues, like muscle, to normal levels of the hormone. As a result, the body tries to overcome this by secreting more insulin from the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes ensues when the pancreas fails to sustain this increased demand for insulin production.
It is currently estimated that one out of every four Americans has insulin resistance. A primary cause is excess intake of sugar or carbohydrates typical of many diets today. This includes foods such as pop or candy as well as cakes, muffins, pastries, chips, crackers, pizza and many other processed foods. Insulin resistance may also be attributed to lack of exercise, overindulging in alcohol, stress, a family history of diabetes, high blood pressure and excess body fat, especially around the abdomen. Click here to discover six sure-fire ways to lose “the love handles”.
By Jill Hillhouse B.P.H.E., R.N.C.P
Wouldn’t it be great if we thought of food as something that we always eat in the right proportions to nourish us, provide us with the right nutrients not to mention something we truly enjoyed? The problem is that a lot of the time we don’t really think about food – we follow eating scripts. In his book Mindless Eating, author Brian Wansink says that we encounter certain food situations so frequently that we develop automatic patterns or habitual behaviours in order to deal with them. We all have breakfast scripts (a coffee and a bagel from the drive-thru), snacking scripts (something crunchy, sweet or salty), restaurant scripts (oh, I never get to have that at home), plate-cleaning scripts (just clean your plate), and so on. Simply being aware of and observing these habits and patterns can help us shift our behaviour so that eating is nourishing and enjoyable rather than a source of frustration, guilt and regret.
Our television script – what and how we eat when we watch television – may be one of the worst offenders. It is well documented that people who watch more TV are more likely to be overweight than people who watch less. When people watch TV, not only are they not burning calories by doing something physical, but they tend to snack more even if they are not hungry. The TV-script goes something like this – we turn on the TV, we sit down in our favourite spot, we find our program, and we go to get a snack at or before the first commercial. Apart from actually encouraging us to eat with its powerful food advertising, TV prevents us from paying attention to how much we eat. We eat more than we would if we weren’t watching TV because we are distracted. TV can even prevent us from remembering that we already ate a meal or snack while triggering more habitual patterns so that we eat again. A recent poll of over fifteen hundred people found that 91 per cent typically watch TV when eating meals at home. This doesn’t bode well for the waistline. So be aware of your eating scripts, especially the TV one, and try some of these tips to star in your own new health script.
1) Put it in a bowl – a small one. Too often we eat snacks right out of the package while watching TV which inevitably leads to overeating. Put the serving you are eating into a small bowl so you can actually see and be aware of your quantities. Oh, and put the package away so there is no re-filling.
2) Choose consciously and wisely. A glycemically-balanced snack will keep your blood sugar steady and help prevent more cravings. Try apple slices dipped in almond butter or raw veggies with a home-made yogurt dip.
3) Think hot. Hot drinks are more satisfying and make you feel fuller. But they can also be full of high-glycemic calories if we are not careful. Select a mug of hot water, ginger and lemon or choose from literally dozens of naturally caffeine-free herbal teas that line the grocery store shelves.
Jill Hillhouse, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, works alongside Dr. Natasha Turner as a member of the Clear Medicine team. Nutrition plays a viral role in our 3-Step Clear Medicine Lifestyle System, an integrated medical program aimed at restoring complete hormonal balance, which involves care from an MD, ND, Nutritionist and a Personal Trainer. Contact us at 416.579.9105 or email email@example.com for more information.
By Dr. Amy Tung, BSc., ND
The holiday season is a wonderful time to relax, unwind and spend some quality time with the people we care about. With all the festivities of company get-togethers, dinner parties for friends and family and trips to all-inclusive resorts, it’s not easy to stay on track and always eat healthy. Being conscious of our food choices and making wise choices, is the best way to avoid over-indulging and to keep our weight and health in the best shape it can be for the new year.
Avoid skipping meals
Always eat your breakfast with some form of protein, and never bank your calories during the day by not eating. If you do, it will only backfire and cause you to eat much more. Have your breakfast protein smoothie for example, and have your smaller snacks throughout the day to ensure balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day. If you are hungry before a party, have a small healthy snack, such as a green apple with a teaspoon of organic almond butter. Arriving at a party completely starving is a definite way to overeat without even realizing it.
Whether it’s as simple as taking the dog out for a daily walk, or taking a brisk walk after a large meal, look for easy ways to keep active. Even small amounts of exercise are beneficial. If you have an exercise routine in place, try your best to stick with it. Even if you are really short for time, try to stick with even half of your routine. Also, don’t forget all the great winter sports you can do with your friends and family like; skiing, skating, snowboarding, snowshoeing and hiking. These are all great ways to burn those excess holiday calories and to feel good
Fiber is Our Friend
Consuming more vegetables is a great way to load up on all our antioxidants and other nutrients. As well, the fiber in vegetables helps us feel full longer and gives our stomach the sensation of satiety, much more than other types of foods. Eating raw veggies as snacks, appetizers, in salads, and side dishes is a great way to keep your appetite in check. Other sources of fiber are; ground flax seed or Salba. Add a few tablespoons of either source to your morning smoothie to start your day off right by balancing your blood sugar and appetite for the rest of the day.
Stay Well Hydrated
Mild dehydration is a common cause for increased appetite, so ensure you are drinking a minimum of 6-8 cups of water a day. If you know you will be drinking at a party in the evening, ensure you are well hydrated prior to the party. Also, have a glass or two of water before you start drinking alcoholic beverages, and have one in between drinks to slow down your alcohol consumption. Some alcohol is fine, but remember that alcohol is a sugar and is very high in “empty” calories. It also puts a huge burden on our liver and digestive system. A few drinks during the holidays is fine, but make sure you keep your alcohol consumption moderate, and don’t overdo it.
Keep Your Saturated and Trans Fat Intake Low
Consuming large amounts of full fat dairy products and red meats increases our saturated fat intake. Saturated fats are found in animal products like dairy products (cheeses, dips, desserts, etc), and red meats – beef, lamb, etc. Hydrogenated fats are found in fast food, deep fried foods and baked or processed foods that contain sunflower and safflower oils, margarine or shortening. These are unhealthy fats and have been linked with increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease and increased risk of some cancers. These unhealthy fats should be eliminated or reduced as much as possible for optimal health.
If you are the host/hostess of a dinner party, consider cooking using healthier substitutions in recipes whenever possible, such as replacing sour cream with organic plain yogurt and reduced-fat cheese products. Fortunately, one of the best foods to enjoy during the holidays is turkey. Turkey is one of the leanest types of meat, particularly turkey breast, which is leaner than dark cuts. When selecting other types of meats, buy leaner cuts whenever possible. When it comes time to eat at the party, have a small portion of a “treat” and keep the rest of your plate full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats.
The important thing to remember is to enjoy your holidays and the time that you have off. Keep your eating in moderation and don’t overindulge. If you do slip up once in a while, don’t beat yourself up over it. Aim to do better the next day. Be kind to yourself and to your body, with means making the healthy choices whenever possible.
Click here to find out more about Dr. Tung and the many practitioners that work with Dr. Natasha Turner at Clear Medicine.