Monday, April 28, 2014

Migraines & Food: What to eat to soothe your headache

Ouch! My head hurts. Pain killers can dull the pain but, wouldn't it be nice to skip the feeling that there is a construction site in your skull. Here are some ways you can eat your way to fewer migraines.

Why & When do Migraines Occur?
According to the Journal of Head and Face Pain (May 18, 2005), migraines are more likely to occur in the spring than any other season. When a person is experiencing stress or the weather changes a migraine is also more likely. Dehydration is major trigger, even for those not prone to migraines. Skipping meals can also trigger migraines, as does eating certain foods.

Foods that May Trigger Migraines:
A quick Google search will identify MSG as a commonly associated food with migraines. According to the Journal of Head and Face Pain (May 20, 2005), MSG is also scientifically supported as a cause of migraines. The difficult part is that MSG is hiding in many things from canned beans, to packaged foods, to soya sauces and condiments, to restaurant food. Look for the following ingredients on packages: MSG, HVP (hydrolyzed vegetable protein), natural flavouring or flavouring. Caffeine may also be a trigger (soda pop, coffee, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate bars, cocoa). 

According to a 2003 study, the following foods may also trigger headaches in children and adolescents: cheese, chocolate, citrus fruits, hot dogs, monosodium glutamate, aspartame, fatty foods, ice cream, caffeine withdrawal. Of note, red wine and beer are also thought to be triggers for migraines. 

How to Get Ride of Your Migraines:
Since you can't avoid weather changes or spring, it can start with simple acts to try to relieve stress. Stress relief can come in many forms: a hot bath, a yoga class, meditation, deep breathing, exercise or avoiding people/situations you find stressful. Drinking more water and trying to eat regularly can also help. As for what you're eating, its a great idea to avoid foods that are known triggers: MSG, caffeine, HVP. 

Migraines may also be triggered by a food allergy. Common food allergies include: egg, beef, pork, peanuts, nuts, fish, shellfish, citrus, chocolate, soda, corn, cinnamon, cow's milk, wheat, rye, barley, soy, legumes, tomato. The Oligoantigenic diet is a diet plan in which you avoid all common food allergies for two week. You eat broccoli and related vegetables (kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, kohlrabi, rutabaga, and turnips), fruit (choosing one of apples, bananas, or pears - starting with only one fruit is the best way to ensure that the fruit is not the food causing the symptoms, which is sometimes the case). After 3 days, you can add other fruits. 

Seems to much for you? It's worth trying it for a week and seeing what happens. Then, you can you can add in one food a day that you are really missing. This isn't ideal but, if that's all you can do then its better than not trying. But, ONLY add in one food a day, and you MUST keep a food dairy if you're not going to do the full two weeks. When the next headache comes, you'll need an accurate food dairy to look back at - look at the last 3 days to see what foods you've added in. One of those, or a combination of them could be a migraine trigger.  

My Confession:
Argh, I know I'm supposed to drink more water in a day - it helps my joints move better, avoids headaches, is nicer to my kidneys, promotes better detoxing and keeps my wrinkles from looking to prominent. But, sometimes I forget...and, then I get a headache. So, I've kept a glass on top of the water cooler in my house and office to ensure I drink a glass every time I walk by.  

Links to the Studies Mentioned Above:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy

With so much information out there about what-to-eat and what-not-to-eat during pregnancy, it's nice to have a resource that can guide you through the mess of facts, and lead you through pregnancy with delicious foods that fuel you, nourish baby and help you stay nausea-free. (Fairwinds 2009)

A book by Allison Tannis - Available at bookstores around the world and online.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Oh, Chocolate! Look What You've Done to My Skin.

Yes, chocolate can help you fight wrinkles. That smooth, melting, velvety chocolate that you love to eat is full of antioxidants that can help your skin prevent damage that leads to the formation of wrinkles. Bite into this delicious treat and say goodbye to your wrinkles.

Better than Red Wine and Green Tea
Before you load your purse with a dozen chocolate eggs you need to know that not all chocolate is created equally. Chocolate is from cocoa beans. This bean is a great source of many antioxidants that help your skin neutralize free radicals before they damage the structures in your skin that keep it tight and youthful looking. Sunlight, cosmetics and toxins in your diet can cause free radicals to form in your skin. These nasty molecules damage all parts of your skin, including the collagen and elastin that keep your skin tight, strong and elastic. Antioxidants, such as those found in cocoa beans can stop these free radicals and thus help you fight wrinkles. In fact, cocoa has more antioxidants than red wine or green tea.

Dark is Best
When cocoa beans are converted into chocolate eggs or bars it can loose a lot of these antioxidants. The best source of these wrinkle-fighting antioxidants is a cup of cocoa or a dark chocolate bar. Those milk chocolate bars are not great for your skin. They contain saturated fat that can reduce the ability of the antioxidants in the chocolate to benefit your skin. Cocoa has about one-third of a gram of fat per one cup serving, compared with eight grams of fat in a standard-size 40 gram chocolate bar.

Fights Wrinkles and Inflammation
Eating chocolate is thought to improve your skin’s ability to fight wrinkles and inflammation. Chocolate has been linked with improved heart health as it can fight inflammation. The skin is also prone to inflammation as damage caused by free radicals can trigger inflammatory reactions. The result is redness and puffy skin.  Eating a piece of dark chocolate for dessert or enjoying a warm cup of from-scratch cocoa in the evening may help you prevent puffy eyes the next morning.

It’s finally okay to eat chocolate. Dig into that natural, dark chocolate and enjoy it skin healthy benefits.

My Confession:
I LOVE chocolate. It's soooo delicious. But, I actually only eat organic, fair-trade chocolate...and just a few squares at night. Mmmm...enjoy!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tips On How To Eat More Raw Foods...and More!

Tips on How to Eat More Raw Foods:

1) Focus on eating raw more often, versus an all-in approach
2) Start your day with a green smoothie
3) Stock the fridge with delicious raw food
4) Fill your pantry with tempting nuts, seeds and dried fruits
5)  Make it fun by adding hummus or other raw-dips to your meal
6) Pull out your food processor and blender to spark kitchen creativity
7) Check out a raw food cook book for some inspiration

Why You Should Incorporate More Raw Foods Into Your Day:
Go on and choose to eat a few more nuts, seeds, beans, fruits or vegetables in your day. Research studies have found that those who eat a diet rich in raw, plant-based foods have lower cholesterol levels and high carotenoid levels. Such foods are naturally low in sodium, saturated fat and calories. Plus, they are rich in fiber and enzymes to promote digestive health. Oh, and don't forget foods in a raw food diet tend to be alkalinizing too. 

Nutritional Pitfalls to Watch Out For:
Be sure to seek out foods that are rich in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and lycopene as research shows these tend to be low in long-term raw food vegetarians. Good sources of these foods include nuts, seeds, beans, dark leafy green vegetables and supplements (vitamin B12, iron and calcium are important for raw vegetarians).

My Confession:
The more I read studies about the benefits of eating fresh whole foods the more I crave salads, trail mix and a big juicy apple. Plus...they just taste good! Mmmm.

References (if you're interested):
Long-term strict raw food diet is associated with favourable plasma beta-carotene and low plasma lycopene concentrations in Germans. British Journal of Nutrition 2008;99:1293-1300.

Zhou B, et al. What influences appetite more: eating approaches or cooking methods? J Med Invest 2014;61(1.2):118-25.

Koebnick, C. et al. Long-term consumption of a raw food diet is associated with favourable serum LDL cholesterol and triglycerides but also with elevated plasma homocysteine and low serum HDL cholesterol in humans. J. Nutr. October 1, 2005 vol. 135 no. 10 2372-2378

Fontana, L et al. Low bone mass in subjects on a long-term raw vegetarian diet. Arch Intern Med 2005;1165(6):684-689.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

High Cholesterol: Cutting Out Dairy

So, you have high cholesterol? Or, perhaps high triglycerides? As such, you've been advised to make changes to your diet and lifestyle. The idea is to cut down on such fats in your blood stream so they don't cause damage that can lead to illness including heart disease or stroke. You may have been told to avoid high-fat dairy (whole milk, cheese, yogurt). But, does cutting the fat out of your dairy intake make a difference on your bad blood fat?

Dairy is a source of many saturated fats, including cholesterol, as well as some helpful fats like CLA. There could be benefits to cutting out whole fat milk if you're trying to consume less saturated fat. But, how effective is it?

A recent study published in the April issue of Nutrition Journal, suggests that restricting your dairy intake may not be an effective means to improve blood fats. The study was conducted by New Zealand scientists who admit it's not perfect and had limitations: a randomized study with about 180 patients who increased or decreased their dairy intake, which was reported on dietary forms. The study did not see very large changes in the levels of bad fats in people's blood streams after they restricted their dairy intake. Here's the study: The Study:

...As such, it's important to look at other ways to improve your blood's fat profile.

Helpful Ways to Eat Your Way to Better Triglyceride and Cholesterol Levels:
- Eat more fibre
- Consume omega-3 and -6 fatty acids
- Promote growth and colonization of Lactobacillus Probiotics in your gut
- Beta-sitosterol
- Garlic
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds
- Eat less processed, baked and fried foods

My Confession:
High cholesterol is a family trait that I've been struggling to keep in check through a diet rich in whole foods (fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans), omega-3s (particularly fish), grains with fibre and...trying oh, so hard to stay away from fried and baked goods (even though they taste soooo good!!!).

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Going Green: 5 Easy Tips

It’s not always easy being green. Sure, we can recycle, buy local and use public transit – but, we’d all like to do more. Here are five easy things (you may not have thought of) that you could do to make a big green impact.  

1. Carry A Cup
FACT: One million paper coffee cups and 200,000 water bottles are sent to landfill from Toronto alone each day. We all love to enjoy a little beverage during our busy days – have it be a steaming cup of java from the local coffee shop or a cold, refreshing bottle of water while you’re on the go.  Put a reusable cup or bottle in your purse or car. Almost every java stop will gladly fill your reusable cup for you. This small, green gesture can really add up! 

2. Savvy Green Cleaning
There are hundreds of magic cleaning products that claim to solve all your household problems in a squirt or swipe. But, what happens to these chemicals once they go down the drain? 

Choosing to buy ‘green’ (environmentally friendly) chemicals to clean your house is a great way to reduce the amount of disruptive chemicals our lakes and rivers are exposed too. Plus, it’s healthier for your family. But, be wary of ‘greenwashing’ – products making unregulated claims and vague promises like ‘natural’ or ‘green’.  How do you find the truly green clean?  Look for the EcoLogo symbol. The EcoLogo certification is one of the most recognized stamps of ‘green’-approval. It certifies that a product and its company follow stringent environmental standards – and, you can smile with pride as the EcoLogo was developed by the Government of Canada.

3.  Make a List
FACT: The average person wastes more than 20 pounds of edible store-bought meat each year. Make a list and check it twice.  When you head out to your local health food store, take a list with you. Plan out your meals for the next few days and purchase what you need.  By planning ahead, you can reduce your food wastage. Making a list is an easy way to go green…but, don’t fret – if you don’t follow our list use the freezer to avoid having spoiled meat.

4. Buy Bigger
Ever stopped to think about the amount of packaging used to transport your vitamins and other healthy goods home? Ever thought about buying big instead? Buying larger sizes may reduce the amount of packaging you throw out – for example, consider buying the bigger size of your favorite multivitamin. As for soaps, consider refilling the containers at your local health food store. These are great ‘green’ ways to reduce the amount of packaging tossed to the curb on garbage day.

5. Beautifully Green
FACT: The average adult uses about nine personal care products per day. Do you know what’s in them? Carcinogens, reproductive toxins and other nasty chemicals can be found in many cosmetics. And, you put those on your skin! Yuck. Buying mineral-based cosmetics, soaps made with natural ingredients and skin creams without parabens are some beautiful ways to go green. 

Reminder: Earth Day is April 22

My Confession: 
I'm a big user of "clean" cosmetics. And, those mineral eye shadows are lovely, or in the words of my preschooler "so shimmery and shinny".  Worried about your skin? Wondering, "How do I stop wrinkles?" One of the easiest things to do is stop putting harmful chemicals on your skin.