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Nutrition

Swap your salt for better health

Not all salt is created equal.

 

Salt has earned a bad wrap in the media, and for good reason. Mainstream table salt is horrendous for your health – but not all salt is bad! Contrary to popular belief, you actually NEED salt in your diet to survive. Salt is essential to our human bodies –problems only occur because of the TYPE of salt in our diets.

 

Table salt started out innocently enough, but over time manufacturers found faster, cheaper, and easier ways to manufacture it causing the once natural salt to not even slightly resemble its original state.

 

Let’s look at why table salt is bad today:

1. It causes hypertension and heart disease

The more table salt you eat, the more water your body retains. This causes elevated blood pressure. Hypertension is prolonged elevated blood pressure which in turn leads to heart disease. When you have elevated blood pressure your heart has to work harder to pump blood throughout your body. When a muscle is constantly under pressure it becomes thicker and larger, which over time actually makes the heart much less efficient at pumping your blood. This is what eventually leads to heart failure!

2. It causes strokes

A stroke is caused when blood flow to the brain is cut off. This often happened when you have high blood pressure which narrows the blood vessels and the blood cannot reach the brain. Numerous studies have shown that increased sodium intake is linked to increased chance of stroke.

3. Table salt is bleached

No, natural salt is not the pristine white granules that pour out of the Morton Salt tub you have. In order to create a consistent product, manufacturers decided to bleach the salt. Traces of this bleach remain on each granule of salt, so every time you sprinkle that lovely table salt on your food you’re also sprinkling on bleach. If that’s not alarming, I don’t know what is!

4.  Table salt is completely devoid of vitamins and minerals

Naturally occurring salts provide trace minerals that benefit a healthy diet. Table salt has been so processed and stripped of its natural state that the only thing it contains is salt and iodine. Some table salts even strip out the iodine and then add it back in after it has been processed. The problem is that this form of iodine is not as natural and therefore not processed by the body. Therefore, table salt has virtually zero value to your health.

 

So, not to scare you off, but that’s some pretty serious stuff. The good news is you don’t have to give up salt! I actually LOVE salt, just not table salt.

 

The key is to find naturally occurring salts.

 

My two favorites are Pink Himalayan Sea Salt and Celtic Sea Salt.

Pink Himalayan sea salt is pink just like it sounds. Don’t be alarmed by the color – its all those minerals you are missing in your table salt! Pink Himalayan sea salt is actually already dried by nature and just dug up from the earth. The solids that aren’t edible are separated, and the remainder is the pink sea salt – how’s that for minimal processing? For that reason, pink Himalayan sea salt is one of the healthiest, most natural salts you can eat.

 
 

 

Oh, and by the way, you don’t need to go to some exotic store to get this stuff either. Check out this big tub I got from Costco. I just fill up my salt shaker with this and guests never know the difference!

 

Celtic Sea Salt is another great option. Celtic sea salt is completely unprocessed and unrefined. This sea salt actually is gray most of the time, and they grayer the better, because that means that more minerals are in the salt! It may look odd to you at first if you are used to pristine white table salt, but I promise that this stuff is even more delicious than you can imagine.

 
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Any unrefined, unprocessed and naturally occurring sea salt will do. You can find this stuff in a variety of stores, and will almost always be surprised with a new color combination.

 

Eliminate sprinkling table salt on your food, but also watch out for food items that already have salt added. There are ways around this, and you can add your own healthy salt to almost anything.

 

The first thing I started doing was buying unsalted, unrefined peanut butter. I really love salt in my peanut butter, so the natural stuff just wasn’t cutting it. I now mix in my own sea salt and it is absolutely divine!

 

Any time you can skip the table salt and add your own delicious, healthy salt – DO IT! Not only will your taste buds thank you, but your heart and brain will as well!

 

Tell me - Have you tried sea salt? Do you like it, or did it take some getting used to? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

New Study Links Cancer to Gut Microbiome

gut health microbiome

For those of you that don’t know, the microbiome is all the talk in the health world right now. The microbiome is all of the microbes and genes that live inside our body and mostly reside in our gut. If you have been hearing lots of talk about a “healthy guy” or “probiotics” recently it is because new studies have emerged showing just how powerful our gut is.

 

For example, we once thought that our genes (human genome) were the most important factor in determining our fate. If you mom had cancer, you are more likely to get cancer. If your dad had heart disease, you’re more likely to have a heart attack. BUT, what research is showing is that our genes are just a small part of this crazy puzzle.

 

The gut microbiome actually contains 100x more genes than our human genome – can you see how this could affect your health more than just your hereditary genes?

 

This research is all very new and exciting, and I’m glad to see large corporations like the Cleveland Clinic taking steps to better understand our bodies as a whole.

 

In October, the Cleveland Clinic released the findings of a new breast cancer study where they found that patients with breast cancer had much more pro-cancer bacteria in their gut, within their breast tissue, and could even be traced in their urine. These types of bacteria were not found in patients without cancer, indicating that the gut microbiome could possibly become a good indicator on whether someone will get cancer (or other diseases).

 

In other studies, the gut microbiome has been linked to other issues like autoimmune diseases, gluten intolerance, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and even allergies. Some people even are referring to the gut microbiome as the second brain – it’s really that important!

 

With all that being said, lets talk about how to get and maintain a healthy gut microbiome!

1.      Greens, Greens, Greens

Acidic bodies are breeding grounds for bacteria. Nothing balances out acidity in our bodies like some green leafy vegetables. I know you’ve heard it a million times, but getting more greens is always on the top of my list.

2.      Eliminate sugar and processed foods

I know you are busy, and I know processed foods are easy, but seriously, so yourself a favor and learn how to cook. I get it, its intimidating at first, but you have your whole life to continue learning! Check out my recipes for some healthy ideas.

3.      Get dirty

Our obsession with sanitation is making us sick. Unless you work in a hospital or in close contact with sick people on a daily basis you do not need to carry around a bottle of Purel. Its actually beneficial to our microbiome to be exposed to bacteria and germs. Did you know that children with dogs have a lower risk of developing asthma and allergies? Not because they are exposed to a dog’s dander, but because dogs introduce a wider array of bacteria into their environment.

4.      Eat Fermented foods

Kimchee, sauerkraut, pickles, kombucha tea, yogurt and kefir (unsweetened please).  There are tons of great options in the supermarket now, so no excuses!

kefir fermented food

5.      Stress Less

When you are stressed your body naturally discharges steroids and adrenaline which makes your immune system release inflammatory cytokines. The microbiome helps keep our immune system in check, so when you’re stressed, your immune system is stressed, causing your gut to be stressed, which weakens the bacteria in our gut. So stop getting stressed and frazzled about everything! Easier said than done, but there are some great strategies to cope: meditation (my fave – try the Headspace or Breathe App), deep breathing, reading a book, taking a bath, going for a walk sans phone – whatever you do to relax, do that on a regular basis. If you’re chronically stressed at your job, consider why you are so stressed and if a move may be in your best (health) interest.

6.      SLEEP

and be consistent with it. I put myself to bed like a baby – right on schedule every night. No iffs, ands, or butts. Start getting into a consistent nightly routine to wind down and help you relax before bed – and try to wake up at the same time everyday (yes, even the weekends). Our circadian rhythms have an immense effect on our gut health.

7.      Sweat it out

If you know me, you know I love sweating for a number of reasons, but scientists have found that sweating actually makes our gut bugs happier. Physiological changes that result from exercise like influencing metabolism and altering immune function are known to affect the microbiota.

8.      Consider more Plant-based meals

Consuming less red meat and animal products can be beneficial to your gut. These foods are highly acidic in the body and can cause inflammation and intestinal diseases. Studies have even shown that the microbiota of meat-eaters versus vegetarians and vegans produces more of a chemical that is associated with heart disease.

Food for thought…

2017 Healthy Holiday Gift Guide

Twenty of my favorite things that are sure to please the health addict on your list. 

I've tried to include things that go beyond the holiday season - less "things" and more experiences or gifts that will impact someone's life beyond December.

Know that gifting doesn't have to be expensive - often times the most thoughtful gifts can cost nothing at all. Make an "I Love You Jar" for your sweetie filled with little heart papers on reasons why you love them. That will surely brighten their day far beyond the Christmas season.

Everyone in our family decided to cut it back this year. Fewer gifts, more quality time. Less money, more fun. My mother-in-law had a beautiful idea: Pick one gift for yourself, one gift as a couple (but more of an experience, trip, activity to do together), and then one family trip together. No sweat about money, just enjoy the holiday's and everyone's company. I love that. <3

Without further adieu, here are my top healthy picks:

1.      Jade Roller – Tighten and de-puff your face with this magic wand. This roller improves circulation, improved skin elasticity, and gets all the blood flowing in the face to make you glow girl, glow.

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2.      Essential Oil Diffuser – Breathe in those essential oils, exhale relief…. Ahhhhhhh

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3.      Spiralizer – Trust me – get a sturdy one. Zoodles for days.

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4.      Matcha - Use code “simplyrealhealth” from my girl Sarah Adler. This stuff is more expensive than others you can find in stores, but trust me, you get what you pay for.

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5.      Whisk –  If you’re looking for the perfect gift combo, matcha with a whisk (and maybe a cute mug too) is heaven on earth for your health-conscious friend.

 
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6.      Protein? - Maybe not the sexiest gift, bt I guarantee your health-concious friend will love it (Caution – you may get jealous of her glowy skin so you might want to buy two and keep one for yourself 😉)

 
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7.      Headspace subscription – https://www.headspace.com/login This one is on my list this year. If you have never tried meditation and want to get into it, this is my favorite way to recommend getting into it. Guided meditation is such a great entry point for those who are new to meditation. No sitting in silence trying to figure out if you’re doing it right – simply pick a track, put on some headphones, relax and follow the guide. It is seriously life changing.

 
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8.      Cookbooks – Some of my favorites I’m crushing on this year:

a.      Simply Real Health Cookbook – a no-fuss guide to eating simple, clean food

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b.      Nutrition stripped Cookbook – Whole food cookbook – vegan (but you’d never know it)

 
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c.      Body Love – Great for those who have struggled with food drama in the past

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d.      Slow Beauty – Self-care and slowing down in a busy world (a must for our generation)

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9.      A beautiful Art Print from my super talented girlfriend Natasha - She doesn’t boast, but she’s a pretty incredible artist. On top of that, she’s eco-conscious – all of her packaging materials are recycled, she gives back (donates a certain portion of her sales at different points during the year), and is just an awesome human. Go check her stuff out – it’s breathtaking.

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10.   Shoes – Can’t go wrong with shoed. Throwback New Balance? Yes, please. Slick new Adidas? Yep. Gym to street-style? Sign.me.up

 

11.   Classic Sweatshirt –guaranteed to never go out of style

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12.   Foam Roller - I personally love this one because of the varying sizes on the roller. Great for all areas of the body, and perfect to do while watching your favorite show.

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13.   Honest Co. Moisturizer - My fave pick of the season. #Glowgirl

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14.   Mortar and pestle – It has to be cute if its sitting on your counter, right?

15.   Solve for Happy – Written by a former Google Exec, Mo Gawdt breaks down the science of happiness from an engineering perspective. His fresh take on the subject is a must read, and is truly inspiring after you hear his full story.

16.   Dry Brush - I’ve started this ritual this year and have noticed such a difference in my skin. Its relaxing and perfect to add to your bedtime ritual.

17.   Sakara Life Tea Collection or if you’re feeling a splurge – The Sakara 5-day organic meal delivery service. I love this company, love their mission, and love, love, love their products.

 

18.   Thrive Market Membership – Seriously, their prices are unbeatable. Sorry, but #byewholefoods. For the same price as a Costco Membership you can get discounts all year round on organic, pure ingredients that cost way more in stores.

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19.   Spice Set – Great for the new grad or bachelor on your list. This spice set is the perfect starter kit or refresh for someone’s kitchen.

 
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20.   Honey in the cutest packaging - But also because we need to support the bees! We need bees in this world people! They are seriously endangered, so help the bee farmers out! You can eat the whole honeycomb so don’t be afraid to dig in!

savanah bee company honeycomb.jpg

Label Reading Secrets You NEED to Know

I have to admit - this post is semi-embarrassing for me. I'm supposed to know better than this. I realized though, that if I can be duped this easily, then so many others who are even less educated about what is in our food supply are being duped as well. 

I love grocery shopping - seriously, my husband jokes it's my favorite hobby (he might be right). I love just getting lost, finding something on sale, deciding what I'm going to do with it... yadda yadda. Until I have a really busy week and I just want to get in and get out as fast as I can. 

Last week, I knew I wanted to make some yummy soup since the weather was cooling down. I needed some crunchy bread or crackers to complete the meal. I didn't like the options in the bakery, so I headed for the crackers. If you've ever been in the cracker aisle, you know its a sh*t show, right? I was in a rush, the box was pretty, everything else said wheat or multigrain, or just looked gross, but theeesseeee - these were made with REAL chickpeas! They're even called Good Thins! Great - popped them in the cart without a second thought. 

good thins read labels

Monday night I heated some soup up, threw some of these bad boys on the table and sat down to a lovely dinner with the hubs. One bite and I knew I had been duped. These were way too good to be made with chickpeas. I'm all about being healthy, but c'mon, you know when you taste something that is too good to be true.

Sure enough, one look at the ingredients and I felt like an idiot. 

Not only are they not really made with chickpeas, these are just chock full of nasty ingredients I choose to almost always stay away from. 

Now, I'm going to tell you something most health bloggers won't:

I ATE THEM ANYWAYS.

YUP. I paid $3 bucks for these dumb crackers and I'm not just throwing them in the trash. I think its ridiculous when health bloggers make you feel like an idiot for eating something like this. I fully understand most everyone is on a budget. We aren't all millionaires and our entire pay checks cannot be devoted solely to groceries. AND THATS OK.

Will I buy these again? Nope. Am I going to beat myself up for fall prety to false advertising? NOPE, and neither should you. 

I'm here to tell you, we're human, and that's OK. Health bloggers make mistakes (they usually just don't tell you about them).

 

Here are my top tips for not being duped by big food companies:

 

1. Quick scan the ingredients list

if you see more than 5 ish ingredients (and a bunch of stuff in parenthesis) PUT IT BACK. 

 

2. Could you make this at home?

If not, put it back. I'm all for convenience, so if paying a little more for chopped veggies fits your schedule this week - have at it. Is there a sauce you know how to make but just don't feel like it - grab that baby! I highly doubt you know how to, or could replicate Cheetos in your kitchen, so put that back.

**I'm not saying you can never have Cheetos, but trust me, once you start eating healthy, your body won't even want those Cheetos**

 

3. Don't be fooled by gimicky words.

Did you know that "All Natural" actually means nothing.? Its not a regulated term, so its plastered all over everything. Same goes for "Natural" and "whole grain". Learn that labels that matter. (I'll be sure to write an extensive blog post on this later). 

Look for "non-GMO project verified" 

Certified Organic

Glyphosate Residue Free 

 

I'm super pumped about this last one. As some of you may or may not know, glyphosate is a chemical which is sprayed on the majority of crops in this county. Its the main ingredient in Roundup Weed killer and is widely used in farming. Unfortunately, the USDA and FDA do not test food for glyphosate nor do they regulate its use. In numerous peer-reviewed studies, Glyphosate has been linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, reproductive problems, liver and kidney damage, antibiotic-resistance, and much more. This topic is one for another blog post, but I urge you to investigate this harmful chemical and try to stay away from it at all costs.

 

To sum it up, you must be your own food detective.

I dream of the day that everything is clearly labeled, honest and fair, but until that day, you must do your own research and take your health into your own hands. 

 

How to Regain Your Health after a Dose of Antibiotics

Antibiotics are one of the miracles of the modern world.

They stave off disease by killing harmful bacteria that used to kill or debilitate us humans years ago. Unfortunately, they don't discriminate. They take out ALL the bacteria in our system, leaving us without the good bacteria to support long term health. 

I recently had to take antibiotics for a nasty infection. I was not pleased to say the least. I have been on a mission to heal my gut for quite some time now, and the thought of killing all the good bacteria that I had worked so hard to cultivate was sad. I knew this medication was necessary, so I decided to do all I possibly could to keep that good bacteria coming back in full force. I want to share this important information with you so that you can protect and heal yourself the next time you need to take these drugs.

DURING and 1-2 weeks AFTER your antibiotics:

1. Avoid ALL Processed Sugars

This includes hidden sugars in grains/breads, any extra sweeteners in your coffee creamer or drinks, and of course any sweets (even chocolate, sorry). Bad bacteria thrives on sugar, so don't feed the beast!

2. Take a Potent Probiotic

I already had Garden of Life RAW Probiotics on hand, but I recommend a probiotic that delivers over 40 billion IU's per dose. 

3. Amp up your intake of fermented food.

Fermented foods provide good bacteria to your gut and are generally well absorbed. Add in kimchi, kombucha tea, sauerkraut, and kefir 

4. Sip on Some Bone Broth

Bone broth contains gelatin which helps soothe the digestive tract. It contains nutrients to help boost immunity, and is a warm relaxing way to rest. Speaking of rest...

5. RELAX

Slow down. You don't need to continue your stressful workouts, or keep buzzing around like a bee. Slow down, take some me time, and let your body do its thing. It's amazing what the body can do when you give it a chance.

I hope these steps help you stay well if you find yourself in a situation where antibiotics are necessary. As a reminder, you know your body better than anyone else. Make sure you are talking with your doctor about the best steps for your own personal wellness. Don't be a fly on the wall at your appointments. Do your research and have informed conversations with your doc while you are there.

 

Be Well,

Amanda

Why Lemon Water is the Secret Everyone is Talking About

What’s so great about lemon water anyway?

You’ve likely heard everyone talking about the benefits of warm lemon water in the morning. Or maybe you’ve seen posts of health bloggers nice warm cup in the morning on Instagram.

It seems so simple, which is why it is so often overlooked by newbies to the health scene. There are so many SIMPLE changes you can make that will drastically improve your health, but too often all of these seemingly easy strategies don’t get implemented because people don’t understand WHY they are good for them.

Warm lemon water in the morning sets you up for a healthy day. By drinking this first thing in the morning you will:

·        Alkalize your body

o   Lemon water allows your body to keep a higher pH level, helping your body fight off diseases. An acid body has a host of problems and is often linked to cancer and many diseases. We want to keep our body as alkaline as possible to prevent disease.

·        Improve digestion

o   By ingesting lemon water first thing after a restful night’s sleep you are activating the digestive juices to get your metabolism revved up  and ready to take on the day

·        Gently cleanse your liver and digestive tract

·        Reduce inflammation

·        Reduce depression and anxiety symptoms

o   Lemon water has a high potassium content – depression and anxiety are often linked to not having enough potassium in your blood.

·        Lose weight

o   Lemons contain pectin fiber, which helps you feel full throughout the day.

 

Now that you understand all the wonderful effects lemon water can have on your body I hope you start incorporating this simple ritual into your everyday morning routine. I have been drinking warm lemon water consistently for over a year now and can honestly say its a life changer. Such a simple habit to create huge change. 

Be well,

Amanda