Women’s Health Month Wrap-Up

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As Women’s Health Month comes to a close, let’s examine the most powerful foods and nutrients that prevent dozens of ailments specific to women. The two biggies are omega-3s and fiber.

Omega-3s:

I cannot stress this enough— omega-3s are natural anti-inflammatories! They essentially help prevent every disease condition, and you learned this month, that they help prevent breast cancer, interstitial cystitis, PMS, and menopause. You also learned that they are essential for prenatal health.  So load up on the following:

  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Flaxseed
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Basil
  • Oregano

Fiber

Fiber is essential to maintain a healthy weight. You also learned this month how fiber helps ease menopause, PMS, and may help protect you against breast cancer. Beans, legumes, and a lot of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains are important here. Here are some top choices:

  • Oats and oat bran
  • Lima beans
  • Adzuki beans
  • Lentils
  • Kidney beans
  • Navy beans
  • Raspberries
  • Sweet peas
  • Acorn squash
  • Pears
  • Prunes
  • Avocados

Fiber and omega-3 are very central to the Mediterranean Diet. So, if there were any one diet I’d recommend, that would be the one! It also stresses limiting processed foods, which is imperative in order to achieve optimal health.

Apply these health tips and watch your health improve exponentially.  If you combine these nutritional tips with regular exercise and stress management prioritization, you will feel fantastic—that I can promise you!

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Easing Menopause with Nutrition

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Our last blog was about easing PMS symptoms. Many women would be thrilled to say goodbye to PMS as they start going through perimenopause and then menopause; however, they are then likely to become negatively impacted by any of the following menopause symptoms (many which are similar to PMS symptoms): night sweats, moodiness, vaginal dryness, loss of libido, weight-gain,  hair loss, headaches, and difficulty concentrating. The good news is that there are nutritional approaches to easing these symptoms! Here are my top-five recommendations.

Recommendation # 1: Load up On Vitamin-B Rich Foods and Omega-3 Rich Foods to Battle Moodiness

Not getting enough B vitamins or Omega-3s in your diet has been proven to contribute to anxiety, depression, and mood swings! Look to whole grains, beans, lentils, and lean meat for your B vitamins. Look to fish or flaxseed for your Omega-3s.

Recommendation # 2: Eat Fiber-Rich Foods

This will help you out doubly! By eating foods rich in fiber, you will stave off weight gain (by feeling fuller longer and reducing sugary cravings) and you will also help prevent mood swings (by balancing blood sugar). Some great fiber-rich foods include: flax, chia, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.

Recommendation # 3: Consume Plant-Based Foods with Isoflavones

Isoflavones, also known as phytoestrogens, are foods that naturally have estrogen in them; therefore, they will help balance out the estrogen that you are losing. Consider tofu, lentils, oats, flaxseed, or wheat germ.

Recommendation # 4: Limit Sugar, Caffeine, and Alcohol

All three are known to trigger the symptoms associated with menopause.

Recommendation # 5: Follow a Mediterranean-Style Diet

We wrote a blog earlier this year on the Mediterranean Diet. New research shows that a Mediterranean Diet can help prevent hot flashes by stabilizing estrogen levels, while a diet high in sugar and saturated fat can exacerbate hot flashes.

Eating healthy is the bottom line when it comes to managing menopausal symptoms. And don’t forget to exercise—that helps too!

PMS Prevention Tips

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How do you feel five to 11 days before your period? Bloated? Irritable? Tense? Anxious? Emotional? Exhausted? Mood swings? Do you get migraine headaches? Do you have insatiable cravings for sweets? If you experience any of these symptoms, then premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no stranger to you.  Guess what though? I have good news for you! You can ease these symptoms through nutritional changes. PMS is the result of hormone imbalances; here are some ways that you can balance those pesky hormones.

Kick Refined Flours and Sugars out of your Diet

Refined flour and sugar, found in almost all processed foods, are highly inflammatory to the body, which sparks hormone imbalances and exacerbates PMS symptoms.

Reduce your Caffeine and Alcohol Intake

Like refined flours and sugars, caffeine and alcohol can also spark hormone imbalances due to their inflammatory properties.

Reduce your Dairy and if you do Consume it, Choose Organic

Dairy products have a lot of hormones, causing you to have excess estrogen. Organic dairy has far less hormones, so if you do enjoy your dairy, go organic!

Let’s look at fresh ways to boost your health and lessen your likelihood of experiencing PMS

Eat a lot of Cruciferous Veggies

Broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts all belong to a group of veggies known as cruciferous vegetables; these powerful, detoxifying veggies remove excess estrogens from your body.

Eat a lot of Omega-3s

Sardines, salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed all boast omega-s, which are anti-inflammatory and can help balance your hormones.

Eat Foods High in Fiber

You want to get as much fiber as you can as your approach your period; fiber will help balance your blood-sugar and will prevent those intense cravings. Fruit and veggies, oats, beans and legumes are awesome choices. Also consider adding ground flaxseed to your salads and smoothies for a boost of fiber.

Eat Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium helps to balance hormones and is especially helpful at preventing or easing migraine headaches. Leafy greens, cashews, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and fish are all great choices that are high in magnesium.

Lastly, be sure to MOVE! Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week. Exercise also helps to balance your hormones and can help prevent irksome PMS symptoms.

I hope these tips help all of you ladies who are literally TIRED of PMS!

Nutrition Tips to Diffuse Stress

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So many health problems stem from stress; stress is inflammatory and we know that inflammation is the precursor to almost every disease. As women, our many commitments and expectations cause us to feel frantic at times, anxiety-ridden, stretched, and stressed. Did you know that there are nutritional approaches to reducing stress, to uplift your spirits when you are depressed or overwhelmed? Follow these five simple tips to reduce your stress and the risk of dozens of resulting health ailments.

  1. Say no to Processed Food. Processed food steals your zest and energy; it can result in lethargy and lack of motivation.

 

  1. Limit Alcohol Consumption. Alcohol is a depressant.  Many women I know turn to wine whenever they are stressed to the max. A glass or two is completely acceptable; just don’t make it the number-one go-to whenever stress gets to you.

 

  1. Reduce your Sugar Consumption. Sugar can mess with your mood the same way processed food does. The first thing to rid is soda. For natural sugars found in fruit, balance it out by eating some protein like nuts or seeds whenever you eat fruit.

 

  1. Eat Nuts and Seeds Nuts. Speaking of nuts and seeds, they are awesome mood boosters. When you desire to reach for a processed-food snack like chips, crackers, or cookies, press the pause button and turn your attention to raw nuts and seeds.

 

Walnuts for example, which literally look like little brains, are made up of 15 to 20 percent protein and contain linoleic (omega-6 fatty acids) and alpha-linoleic acids (omega-3 fatty acids), vitamin E and vitamin B6, making them an excellent source of nourishment for your nervous system. A healthy nervous system results in clearer thinking and a happier mood.nuts2

Cashews are high in magnesium, which is also known for calming the mind and stress. Almonds are also high in magnesium and they are rich in phenylalanine, an essential amino acid necessary for the production of dopamine, one of your feel-good neurotransmitters.

 

  1. Consume Fermented Food

Do you know that your gut is connected to your mental health? Many neurotransmitters are created in your intestinal tract and in order for that creation to take place, your gut needs to have a healthy flora balance.  Fermented foods are loaded with probiotics, which will exponentially increase the “good” bacteria in your gut. Try adding kombucha, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and kefir to your diet. Kombucha is a tasty carbonated beverage (a great alternative to soda). Tempeh is great in stir-fries and who doesn’t love a bowl of miso soup?

Kefir is my favorite fermented food; it’s like a drinkable yogurt and it’s as delicious as a milkshake!

 

Okay ladies; don’t let stress get the best of you. Follow these nutrition tips, get plenty of rest and exercise and you will notice the stress melt away!

 

Happy Mothers (to-be) Day: Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy

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This is for all of you expectant moms out there; this Mother’ Day, give yourself the gift of a healthy pregnancy! Here are some nutrition tips to consider for the two (or more) of you!

Protein

Consuming sufficient amounts of protein is critical for women during pregnancy. Experts suggest that women should consume 75-100 grams of protein during pregnancy. Protein helps the fetal tissue, including the brain, to grow and it is also important for the blood supply. Some research shows a decreased risk of preeclampsia and other pregnancy complications with adequate protein intake. Here are some great sources of protein: grilled chicken breast (36 grams for a four-ounce serving), Greek yogurt (about 17 grams for standard container), mixed raw nuts (about 9 grams per 1/3 cup serving), green peas (about 8 grams per cup), and tofu (10 grams per quarter block).

Iron

It is very important to consume ample iron during pregnancy increase your blood volume and prevent anemia. Awesome sources of iron include leafy greens (spinach, kale, collards, and chard), lentils, beans, raw nuts, turkey, fish, and lean beef.

Folate/Folic Acid

Folic acid is the single most important nutrient to consume in order to help prevent neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It is often recommended to take a folate supplement during pregnancy. Folate is a B-vitamin. B vitamins are water-soluble so it is near impossible to consume too much; in other words, what you do not use, you pee out.

Omega-3s

Omega-3s, particularly DHA, is critical for the healthy development of your baby’s organs and brain. The best source of DHA is fatty fish like sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel and other fish choices that are not likely to have mercury. Make your fish choices using this chart from the Natural Resource Defense Council.

Probiotics

Last, but not least, turn to fermented foods (kefir, kombucha, tempeh, sauerkraut) for their probiotics. It is your gut that determines the health of your baby’s gut. Probiotics are the absolute best way to increase the healthy flora in your gut so that baby’s gut will be healthy too!

Happy Mother’s Day! Here’s to the healthiest pregnancy imaginable!

 

Food Choices to Reduce your Risk of Breast Cancer

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Approximately one in eight women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  And sadly, the death rate for women with breast cancer is higher than any other form of cancer except for lung cancer. While there is not a food recommendation that can guarantee that you will not develop breast cancer, I will discuss some food choices that will help keep your risk for breast cancer as low as possible.

#1: Eat Plenty of Fruit and Vegetables

Aim to eat at least five cups of vegetables and fruit a day. A recent study has found that carotenoids (nutrients) in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer. Make those salads as colorful as possible; experiment with fruit and veggie combos (spinach, strawberry and a sprinkling of feta cheese; diced tomatoes, avocados, and mangoes; arugula, pecans, pears, and dried cranberries). The more colorful your fruits and veggies diet, the more variety of powerful carotenoids!

#2: Load up on Fiber

A study of 99,534 women, published earlier this year, found that those who ate more fiber in early adulthood had up to a 19% lower risk of developing breast cancer, depending on how much more fiber they ate. Some great high-fiber food choices include: apples, pears, berries, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, oats, almonds, chia seeds, and sweet potatoes.

#3: Eat Foods High in Omega=3 Fatty Acids

Several studies have suggested that the higher your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, the lower your chances of getting breast cancer. Fish is the greatest source of omega-3s. If you are not a fan of fish, consider a fish oil supplement. Other food choices that have an attractive amount of omega-3s include flaxseeds and walnuts, both of which I love adding to a bowl of oatmeal!

When you are deciding what to eat, think of the return on investment you get when you make healthy food choices. Not only does that choice help you to maintain a healthy weight, but also, it may be helping to reduce your risk of developing diseases like breast cancer. Choose the apple over the candy bar and the grilled salmon over the burger and watch your quality-of-life improve!

Mottos for Women

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Women’s Health Month is here and I will be blogging about women’s health tips and concerns throughout the entire month! Let’s start with a self-esteem booster. Why is it that women, ladies and young girls, are constantly in the public’s eye to look perfect? However, what most women do not realize is that they are absolutely beautiful just the way they are. Listen up all women and girls, we need to open our eyes and keep our heads held up. Would you like a little guide to feel better about yourself? You’ve come to the right place.

Rule #1: Numbers don’t define you- Any number that’s in your life doesn’t matter. Your pants size, weight, body fat percentage, bra size, age, the amount of weight on the barbell, or the pounds lost doesn’t determine your self-worth and how you feel about yourself because they are in fact, just numbers.

Rule #2: Being positive is key. Say no to negative thoughts- By doing so , you will highlight and enhance your unique individualized strengths and you will neutralize your weaknesses. The fact is, nobody is perfect, but everyone is perfect in their own way. You, yourself possess characteristics, abilities, talents, desires and goals that are wonderfully just for you. Instead of focusing on the “flaws” you possess, why not enhance the things you should and do love about yourself? Cancel out these negative thoughts with more positive ones.

Rule #3: Eat healthy to become a better version of yourself- By eating plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein, you will be on the road to feeling fabulous, but DO NOT feel guilty when you treat yourself with your favorite snacks. You are allowed to live your life and indulge every now and then. Nutrition should be a stress-free topic and should benefit your life.

Rule #4: Health and fitness is supposed to decrease your stress, make your life better and most importantly, make you feel good about yourself- Your life shouldn’t be revolved around fitness to the point that it becomes an obsession. Once it has reached that point, feelings of guilt come into play when you take a day off. Once you complete a successful workout, you should feel confident and hold you head up high. This health and fitness should bring your self-esteem to its all-time high.

Rule #5: Practice self-compassion daily- Do you realize beating yourself up day after day for the silly, simple mistakes you make is counterproductive? If you didn’t, well now you know. Trying new things and taking chances is a part of life. We are all going to mess up and how you react to those little mistakes is how you’re going to feel about yourself. You aren’t perfect; nobody is perfect. Love the person you are every day.