Heartburn - Can I Help it with Foods and Lifestyle?

The odds are that you or someone you know experiences heartburn. Around half of North American adults experience it at least once per month. Somewhere between 10-20% have it at least once per week!Heartburn, also known as reflux, occurs when the strong acid in your stomach creeps up into your esophagus.

 

It can feel like a burning sensation; hence the name "heartburn." Other common symptoms include bloating, burping, difficulty swallowing, or a sore throat. Often there is a bitter or sour taste as well.Don't get me wrong, stomach acid is good! Stomach acid is essential for good health and optimal digestion.

 

We need the acid in our stomach to protect us against harmful microbes (i.e. bacteria) that lurk in our food and drinks. Stomach acid also helps us break down our food, and digest nutrients. But we need that acid to stay in the stomach, and not get up to our esophagus!

 

Stomach acid doesn't usually burn the stomach itself; this is because the stomach is protected by a layer of mucus.

 

But your esophagus doesn't have that same protection. It has a valve that is supposed to prevent things from going the wrong way (i.e. keep food, drink, and acid down; not allow it back up). And when your esophagus is exposed to stomach acid too often, it can cause the infamous burning, inflammation, and other potential issues.

 

I'm going to share a bunch of tips that may help you overcome your heartburn symptoms naturally.Of course, if symptoms last for a long time, or get worse, it's probably a good idea to see your doctor.

 

Tip #1 – Foods to eat (and avoid)

You may notice that when you eat or drink certain things, you get heartburn soon afterward. These triggers may be different for everyone; but often include onions, garlic, chocolate, citrus, tomato, mint, spicy foods, greasy foods, coffee, carbonated drinks, or alcohol. If any of these affect you, reduce them or even try cutting them out to see if it makes a difference.

 

Heartburn might also result from a sneaky food intolerance. Try eliminating grains, dairy, and processed foods for a few weeks and see if that helps. Now, you may be wondering: “If I eliminate these foods/drinks, then what can I put in their place?”

 

Try increasing fiber intake. Yes, this means more whole, unprocessed foods, especially veggies! In fact, potatoes may be a great addition to meals if you suffer from heartburn. Try getting at least five servings of veggies every day.

 

Tip #2 – How and when to eat Eat slowly. Use meal times to release stress. Chew your food very well. Don’t eat meals that are too big. And don’t eat too close to bedtime. You want to avoid lying down with a full stomach. We’re talking finishing eating 2-3 hours before lying down, so schedule your dinner or snack with this in mind.

Tip #3 – Lifestyle techniques

Sometimes strenuous exercise can make heartburn symptoms worse. If this happens to you, then focus on low-intensity exercises like walking and cycling.

 

If symptoms come on as you’re lying down to sleep, try adding a pillow or two so your head is a bit higher than your stomach.

 

Another interesting tip is to try sleeping on your left side. Lying on your left side works because the valve that prevents the acid from "leaking" into your esophagus is located on the right side of the stomach. So, when you're lying on your left, the acid is away from that valve.

 

 

Conclusion

Heartburn is a very common condition where stomach acid creeps up into the esophagus (where it’s not supposed to be).

 

If you suffer from symptoms of heartburn, there are many things you can do. There are foods and drinks to avoid and veggies to increase. You can eat slower, chew more thoroughly, and don't lie down within 2-3 hours of eating. Also, try low-intensity exercise and sleeping on your left side.

 

Try these simple, natural strategies. They can help prevent or relieve heartburn symptoms for you.

 

Recipe (Not Too Greasy or Spicy): Baked Potatoes

1 small bag of mini potatoes

4 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp salt 1 tsp black pepper

 

Instructions

Scrub potatoes and boil them until they're soft. How long will depend on their size, so check them by feeling how easily they're penetrated with a fork or knife.

Drain the water and toss the potatoes with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Place in a roasting dish at 425F for about 15 minutes.

 

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Don’t have mini potatoes? Use large potatoes or sweet potatoes and chop them to the size of mini potatoes.

 

References:

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/get-rid-acid-reflux/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/heartburn-reflux-gerd

https://authoritynutrition.com/heartburn-acid-reflux-remedies/

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

The Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

You probably know the negative health effects of eating too much sugar, especially "added sugars" like in soda pop, candy, baked goods, and many commercially-available cereals, just to name a few.  Added sugar is hiding just about everywhere in the grocery store.

 

Yes, ingesting refined sugar spikes your blood sugar and insulin, and increases your risk for a whole host of issues.

 

A while ago, one of the food industry’s responses to the demand for lower-calorie foods that still taste great, was artificial sweeteners.

 

The idea behind them is that you can still get the sweetness, without the calories; like when you have a “diet pop” versus a regular one. Theoretically, this was going to help people maintain a healthy body weight, and hopefully not increase anyone’s risk of heart disease, diabetes, or obesity.

 

But, it doesn’t always work out the way we think it will...

 

Types of artificial sweeteners

Sugar substitutes fall into several categories, but what they all have in common is that they have a sweet taste and fewer calories than plain sugar.

 

Today we'll specifically discuss "artificial sweeteners," which are synthetic chemicals where a tiny bit tastes very sweet.

 

They're also known as "non-nutritive sweeteners," and include things like:

  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low),
  • Acesulfame potassium,
  • Aspartame (Equal & NutraSweet), and
  • Sucralose (Splenda).

 

Health effects of artificial sweeteners

Negative health effects from artificial sweeteners are cited all over the place, and while many studies show effects, others don't. Cancer? Maybe yes, maybe no. Heart disease? Maybe yes, maybe no. Not to mention that much of the research has been on animals, which may or may not translate to people.

 

I did want to point out one ironic thing, to do with artificial sweeteners and weight.

 

One study found that people who tend to drink diet sodas have double the risk of gaining weight than those who didn't.

 

Another study has shown an increased risk for metabolic syndrome and diabetes for those who consume diet drinks every day.

 

While these results don't apply equally to everyone, they do somehow seem ironic, don't they?

 

How do artificial sweeteners affect our bodies?

Now that’s a million-dollar question!

 

There are so many ideas out there to try to explain it, but the reality is we don’t know for sure; plus, it might play out differently in different people.

 

  • Is it because people feel that they can eat cake because they’ve switched to diet soda?

 

  • Perhaps it’s because the sweeteners change the taste preferences so that fruit starts to taste worse, and veggies taste terrible?

 

  • Maybe artificial sweeteners increase our cravings for more (real) sweets?

 

  • It can be that the sweet taste of these sweeteners signals to our body to release insulin to lower our blood sugar; but, because we didn’t actually ingest sugar, our blood sugar levels get too low, to the point where we get sugar cravings.

 

  • Some even say (and at least one animal study suggests) that saccharin may inspire addictive tendencies toward it.

 

  • Maybe there is even a more complex response that involves our gut microbes and how they help to regulate our blood sugar levels.

 

Conclusion

Understand that added sugar is not good for you, but the solution may not be to replace them all with artificial sweeteners.

 

I highly recommend reducing your sugar intake, so you naturally re-train your palate and start enjoying the taste of real food that isn't overly sweet.  This way you're reducing your intake of added sugar, as well as not needing to replace it with artificial sweeteners.

 

Try having ½ teaspoon less of sugar in your hot morning drink. Try reducing a ¼ cup of the sugar called for in some recipes. Try diluting juice with water.

 

Your body will thank you!

 

Recipe (naturally sweetened): Sweet Enough Matcha Latte

1 teaspoon matcha powder

1.5 cup almond milk, unsweetened

1-2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

  1. Heat almond milk and maple syrup/honey (if using) in a small pot.
  2. Add matcha powder to cup.
  3. When almond milk is hot, add about a ¼ cup to matcha and stir to combine.
  4. Add rest of the milk to cup.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can steep a chai tea bag in the milk if you prefer chai tea over matcha.

 

References: http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030 https://authoritynutrition.com/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar-insulin/ http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-review-splenda-is-it-safe https://chriskresser.com/the-unbiased-truth-about-artificial-sweeteners/

Why Our Waist Circumference Matters 100x More Than What We Weigh

The scale is usually a negative thing in our life right?

 

You may have this weird kind of relationship with your “weight”.  

 

I mean, it doesn't define you (obviously), BUT...

 

What you weigh can and should matter, but only to a certain extent.

 

Let's look at your waist circumference (well...you look at yours and I'll look at mine).

 

Waist Circumference (AKA “Belly Fat”):

Do you remember the fruity body shape descriptions being like an “apple” or a “pear”?  The apple is kinda round around the middle (you know – belly fat-ish, kinda beer belly-ish) and the pear is rounder around the hips/thighs.

 

THAT is what we're talking about here.

 

Do you know which shape is associated with a higher risk of sleep apnea, blood sugar issues (e.g. insulin resistance and diabetes) and heart issues (high blood pressure, blood fat, and arterial diseases).

 

Yup – that apple!

 

And it's not because of the subcutaneous (under the skin) fat that you may refer to as a “muffin top”.  The health risk is actually due to the fat inside the abdomen covering the liver, intestines and other organs there.

 

This internal fat is called “visceral fat” and that's where a lot of the problem actually is.  It's this “un-pinchable” fat.  

 

The reason the visceral fat can be a health issue is because it releases fatty acids, inflammatory compounds, and hormones that can negatively affect your blood fats, blood sugars, and blood pressure.

 

And the apple-shaped people tend to have a lot more of this hidden visceral fat than the pear-shaped people do.

 

So as you can see where your fat is stored is more important that how much you weigh.

 

Am I an apple or a pear?

 

It's pretty simple to find out if you're in the higher risk category or not. The easiest way is to just measure your waist circumference with a measuring tape.  You can do it right now.

 

Women, if your waist is 35” or more you could be considered to have “abdominal obesity” and be in the higher risk category.  Pregnant ladies are exempt, of course.

 

For men the number is 40”.

 

Of course this isn't a diagnostic tool.  There are lots of risk factors for chronic diseases.  Waist circumference is just one of them.

 

If you have concerns definitely see your doctor.

 

Tips for helping reduce some belly fat:

  • Eat more fiber.  Fiber can help reduce belly fat in a few ways.  First of all it helps you feel full and also helps to reduce the amount of calories you absorb from your food.  Some examples of high-fiber foods are brussel sprouts, flax and chia seeds, avocado, and blackberries.
  • Add more protein to your day.  Protein reduces your appetite and makes you feel fuller longer.  It also has a high TEF (thermic effect of food) compared with fats and carbs and ensures you have enough of the amino acid building blocks for your muscles.
  • Nix added sugars.  This means ditch the processed sweetened foods especially those sweet drinks (even 100% pure juice).
  • Move more.  Get some aerobic exercise.  Lift some weights.  Walk and take the stairs.  It all adds up.
  • Stress less.  Seriously!  Elevated levels in the stress hormone cortisol have been shown to increase appetite and drive abdominal fat.
  • Get more sleep.  Try making this a priority and seeing how much better you feel (and look).

 

Recipe (High fiber side dish): Garlic Lemon Roasted Brussel Sprouts

1 lb brussel sprouts (washed, ends removed, halved)

2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

dash salt and pepper

 

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400F.  

In a bowl toss sprouts with garlic, oil, and lemon juice.  Spread on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper.

Bake for about 15 minutes.  Toss.

Bake for another 10 minutes. Serve and Enjoy!

Tip:  Brussel sprouts contain the fat-soluble bone-loving vitamin K.  You may want to eat them more often.

 

References

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/research-abdominal-fat-and-risk

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/visceral-fat-location

http://www.drsharma.ca/inspiring-my-interest-in-visceral-fat

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-definition/abdominal-obesity/

http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/weights-poids/guide-ld-adult/qa-qr-pub-eng.php#a4

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-proven-ways-to-lose-belly-fat/

https://authoritynutrition.com/20-tips-to-lose-belly-fat/

Brussels Sprouts and Grape Flavor Burst

Brussel Sprouts and Grapes This one's got a little character to it and just the right zing and zang to satisfy your pallet. Brussel sprouts are amazing for alkalizing the blood and cleaning out the digestive system, but often times they get a bad rep for being boring.

Well not THESE brussel sprouts!! We add just the right amount of grapes to be a tastefully sweet contrast to perfectly overload the senses with a burst of flavor in one of my favorite dishes.

Eat it as a side to most any meal or make it with some quinoa to have as a main course for plant based eaters.

Ingredients: • 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved • ½ lb. seedless red grapes, halved • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil • 2 cloves crushed garlic • ½ tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt • ¼ tsp. ground pepper • 1 tbsp. balsamic glaze

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine Brussels sprouts, grapes, and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together until the Brussels sprouts and grapes have a nice light coating of the olive oil and seasoning. Spread everything out on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes, flipping half way through, until Brussels sprouts are golden brown. Transfer to your favorite serving dish and drizzle with 1 tbsp. balsamic glaze. Enjoy!

Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple Soup

soup

Ingredients: Makes 6 cups (4-6 servings) • 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks (about 8 cups) • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil • 2 onions, chopped • 2 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped • 1 tsp. sea salt • ½ tsp. black pepper • 4 cups low sodium, organic chicken broth • ½ tsp. curry powder

Directions: Preheat oven to 425. Divide squash, onions and apples in two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle one tablespoon of olive oil over each tray of fruit and veggies and seasons with salt and pepper. Gently toss all the ingredients together until they all have a light coating of olive oil and seasonings. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Once the ingredients cool to room temperature, put them in the blender (one tray at a time) and add two cups of chicken broth and ¼ tsp. curry powder. Blend for 30-60 seconds or until the soup is rich and creamy.

Pour into a large pot and repeat with the second tray. Warm the soup over a medium-high heat until heated through. Adjust the seasonings and enjoy!

Raw Carmel Brownie Bites

Here is a super amazing shareable dessert I found on the Vedge. We will blend up a gooey, authentic tasting [but less guilty] caramel center – which has an amazing creamy and soft texture. I could eat this caramel forever and never be tired of it. True Story! And what would a raw dessert be without some kind of chocolate? (Hey, the brownie part doesn’t count!) A creamy chocolate mixture to top it all off!

I think you are going to make A LOT of friends with these little slices of heaven. So share!!!

Raw carmel bites

 

This decadent raw treat has 3 different desserts combined into one amazingly delicious, gooey, chocolatey, caramely dessert heaven! Oh boy enjoy!!
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Prep time
Total time
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Serves: 12 large slices

INGREDIENTS

Brownie Base:
  • 1 cup pecans or walnuts, soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup cacao powder
  • 1 cup medjool dates (about 12), pitted
Caramel Filling:
  • 1½ cups medjool dates (about 18), pitted
  • ½ cup boiling water
  • 1½ cups full fat coconut milk or cream from a can
  • ½ cup almond butter, macadamia butter, cashew butter or other nut butter
  • 1 Tbsp mesquite powder
  • 1 Tbsp lucuma powder (optional)
  • pinch of salt
Chocolate Topping:
  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk or cream (whatever is left from the can from the caramel filling)
  • ½ cup date soak water or maple syrup
  • ½ - ⅔ cup cacao powder
  • ¼ cup coconut oil

METHOD

Make the Brownie Base:
  1. Prepare a square 7" x 7" pan or container, and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor, combine the pecans and cacao powder and process into a flour. Add the medjool dates and process into a dough.
  3. Press the brownie base into the pan using the base of your hands. Set aside.
Make the Caramel Filling:
  1. Put the pitted medjool dates in a small bowl and pour ½ cup of boiling water over them. Leave them to sit and soften for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the remaining caramel filling ingredients in a high speed blender (I use aVitaMix).
  3. Drain the medjool dates, gently squeeze out the excess water. Add the dates to the blender and set aside the date soak water.
  4. Blend the mix, using the tamper stick as needed. Be careful blending this as it's a very thick mixture, working up the speed slowly, use the tamper stick, and if you're having trouble blending it add some more liquid like water or coconut oil.
  5. Once the mixture is blended smooth, pour over the brownie base. Use a spatula to smooth the top. Set aside the pan in the freezer.
Make the Chocolate Topping:
  1. In a high speed blender, combine the chocolate topping ingredients. If you don't have ½ cup date soak water left, add more maple syrup to bring it to ½ cup.
  2. Blend until smooth, and pour over the caramel filling the pan. Use a spatula to smooth the top.
  3. Leave it to set in the freezer for at least a few hours, overnight is ideal. I like to keep it in the freezer, but if you want it a little bit softer store it in the fridge.
  4. Slice and enjoy!

Strawberry Avocado Jalapeño Salsa {Gluten-free and Vegan}

strawberry salsa This is perfect for sports season! It's a slightly sweet, kinda tart, and a little bit spicy, Strawberry Avocado Jalapeño Salsa, and is just as amazing as it is beautiful. We have already had some hot weather here, so I have been enjoying summery treats a little early. This salsa is simple to make and just full of so much flavor. I don’t always love fruit in savory dishes, but this one is incredible. I have a feeling this is going to be a staple snack around here this strawberry season!

Strawberry Avocado Jalapeño Salsa

1 pint strawberries, diced

1 avocado, diced

1 jalapeño, seeds removed and finely minced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1 handful fresh cilantro or parsley

juice of 1 lime

salt and pepper to taste

In a medium sized bowl, combine all of the ingredients, toss together and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from: Strawberry Avocado Jalapeño Salsa