Organic versus Conventional Produce

Organic versus Conventional Produce

Organic versus Conventional Produce

First of all, what do these terms actually mean?

Organic refers to the method of farming that is being used. When it comes to produce, these agricultural practices are aimed at improving soil and water quality, reducing pollution, and promoting a self-sustaining cycle of resources on a farm. Compared to conventional farming, certain practices are not permitted for organic produce, like using synthetic fertilizers or sewage sludge, using synthetic pesticides, irradiation, or genetic engineering. (1)

There are a few natural pesticides and a few synthetic pesticides that have been approved for organic agriculture. In the EU there are 385 approved substances for conventional agriculture and only 26 for organic.

A diet high in pesticide residues has been linked to a higher instance of cancer as well as fertility problems. A study conducted in Sweden showed that people eating a conventional versus organic diet, were exposed to 70x more pesticide residues. (2)

Is organic produce more nutritious?

In terms of nutrition, the scientific evidence is still largely inconclusive. The nutrient content in produce can vary greatly based on where and how it is being grown, the nutrients available in the soil, and that doesn’t even take into account conventional versus organic.

Several studies have shown that organic produce generally contains more antioxidants than its conventionally grown counterparts, as well as some micronutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and iron. Because organic produce can’t rely on pesticides to protect themselves, they do tend to grow a stronger internal defence system – hence the higher levels of antioxidants!

Organic produce has also been shown to have lower levels of nitrates. A diet high in nitrates has been linked to an increased risk of some cancers. However, the benefit of eating fruits and vegetables greatly outweighs the nitrate concerns.

What if I can’t afford organic?

While overall it’s fair to say that buying organic is better for our bodies and the environment than conventional, sometimes it’s not possible either for accessibility or budget reasons. But there’s a great way to decide what produce should get priority over others.

The Environmental Working Group out of the United States regularly releases a round-up of the most and least pesticide contaminated produce. Their “Clean Fifteen” is the least contaminated produce which you should be OK buying conventionally. The “Dirty Dozen” is the produce with the most pesticides that you should try to buy organic as often as possible. (3)

The 2019 “Dirty Dozen” is:

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Tomatoes
  • Celery
  • Potatoes

And the 2019 “Clean Fifteen” is:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Frozen sweet peas
  • Onions
  • Papayas
  • Eggplants
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwis
  • Cabbages
  • Cauliflower
  • Cantaloupes
  • Broccoli
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melons

(1) https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/organic-food/art-20043880

(2) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5658984/

(3) https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Why you probably need to eat more veggies

Vegetables are pretty much the only part of our diet that have never really come under question from a nutritional standpoint. Everyone more or less unanimously agrees that they are an essential part of a healthy diet.

Veggies are an amazing source of essential vitamins and minerals, are a great source of fiber which is important for our digestive health, and also contain a variety of phytonutrients that contain anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and other disease fighting properties.

Vitamins & Minerals

While many of the vitamins & minerals you find in veggies can also be obtained elsewhere, there is no other source that offers such bang for your buck. That is to say, you get an incredible number of these vitamins and minerals for a relatively low amount of calories. In fact this is one of the most trickiest combinations to create with today’s modern diet – getting the required amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet without over consuming the number of calories your body requires. If you’re not eating enough veggies, then the chance is high that you aren’t hitting the requirements your body needs.

Our body relies on vitamins and minerals for a whole variety of different functions, from energy production to our nervous system and immune system, and we need to obtain them from our food. Not all vitamins and minerals can be stored by the body, which is why it’s important to be consistently consuming vegetables to keep our needs met.

The main vitamins and minerals you’ll receive from vegetables are: vitamin A (as its precursor, beta-carotene), vitamin C, the B vitamins (except B12), vitamin K, calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and sulphur.

Phytonutrients

Phytonutrients can only be found by consuming plants, and these compounds are what give fruits and veggies their vibrant colours. By figuratively “eating the rainbow” when it comes to veggies, you’re ensuring you get a wide variety of these health protecting nutrients!

So far there have been more than 5000 phytonutrients identified, but scientists are still working to figure out exactly what role they play in our health. What has been seen already is that individual phytonutrients themselves don’t have such a strong effect on our body, but multiple in unison do, as it occurs in nature, which is why it’s much more important to eat vegetables in their whole form rather than using supplements.

Phytonutrients aren’t considered essential, unlike vitamins and minerals, but their health protecting abilities make them an important component of our diet. They have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, help reduce inflammation, protect our immune system, help prevent chronic diseases, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

A wide variety of vegetables across different vegetable families is also important, as phytonutrients within families tend to be fairly similar. Research has shown that a wide variety of many different phytonutrients is more important that a large quantity of only a few.

Fiber

Vegetables and other plant-based foods are our bodies’ main source of fiber. Having sufficient fiber in your diet is essential for ensuring your digestive system health. It makes sure everything keeps moving through our system, provides a source of nutrition for the beneficial bacteria in our gut, and stimulates the growth and maintenance of these beneficial bacteria. Different types of fiber feed different types of bacteria, so again variety is the name of the game.

Read more about the importance of fiber here.

So how many veggies do you actually need to eat?

Recommendations can vary from country to country base on their individual nutrition guidelines. Many recommendations now focus on a plate-based approach, which generally means ensuring that at least 50% of your plate is made up of vegetables.

Generally the guidelines suggest around  5-8 servings per day of fruit and vegetables, even up to 10 (with a strong emphasis on vegetables). One serving is roughly ½ cup of cooked veggies or around 80-90 grams. Raw leafy greens would be 2 cups for one serving.

Ready to boost your vegetable consumption?

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Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Foods to Boost Digestion Naturally

Food is so much more than fuel – it can be a powerful tool to use for ensuring your body is running as it should and is in proper balance.

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, like:

  • Feeling excessively full after a meal
  • Acid reflux or heartburn
  • Burping
  • Bloating / Cramps
  • Gas
  • Constipation / Diarrhea

Looking to your diet may give you some relief.

Starting with food as a tool is an easier and cheaper way than immediately reaching for the supplements, so read on for some great additions to your diet that could just make all the difference!

Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar with water

We need those digestive juices going in order to properly break down our food in the stomach! Drinking 1-2 tablespoons (15-30mL) of fresh lemon juice or apple cider vinegar diluted in a glass of water prior to a meal can help the stomach kick-off this process. Try it out before larger meals and see if it starts to make a difference! However, this is not for you if you struggle with acid reflex or heartburn as it could cause additional irritation / damage to existing sensitive areas.

Beets or Beet Juice

Beet are rich in a compound called betaine, which improves our stomach acid levels. It’s often added to supplements contained HCl (stomach acid), but you can get some naturally just by adding some beets into your meal or having some beet juice! If you’re new to eating beets, don’t be alarmed, but it does naturally colour your stool – nothing to be afraid of!

Papaya & Pineapple

Both these tropical fruits contain enzymes that we can use in our own digestive system. These proteolytic enzymes are crucial for the proper digestion of protein (among other functions). The enzymes in the fruit, papain and bromelain, aren’t exactly the same as what our body produces, but they can function in the same way. These two fruits are the most common sources, but you can also get proteolytic enzymes from: asparagus, ginger, kefir, kimchi, kiwifruit, sauerkraut, and yogurt.

Artichoke

Artichoke can help improve bile production by the liver. The liver is where the bile is produced, then it is passed on to the gallbladder, which is triggered during digestion to secret the bile into our small intestines. There it emulsifies the fats we have eaten and helps ensure we are digesting them properly.

Turmeric

This golden spice has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and helping your digestion can be added to the list of positive benefits! In addition to its antioxidant properties, it can help promote the secretion of your digestive juices, and may improve gallbladder function. It may also help with symptoms like heartburn, gastric pain, burping, and gas.

(Check out my recipe for a Golden Turmeric Latte!)

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is the hot/spicy component of hot peppers and may help protect the stomach lining. However you should avoid it is your are already struggling with stomach inflammation or acid reflux / heartburn.

Ginger

Ginger is already fairly well-known for it’s anti-nausea properties (I know I took it in copious amounts as a car-sick suffering child!). It can also help protect the digestive tract like turmeric and capsaicin.

Digestive Teas

Teas can be such an amazing way to take advantage of different plant’s positive properties. Enjoy a tea after a meal from one of the substances above, like turmeric or ginger, for digestive benefits. Or try chamomile that can also be anti-inflammatory and sooth heartburn or irritation of the digestive tract. Tea containing fennel seeds can also be very helpful (they are usually included in any “digestive blend” teas). Fennel seeds help the muscles of the digestive tract relax and can reduce gas, bloating, and cramps.

Fermented foods

A great source of probiotics, fermented foods help ensure that your gut has the right balance of bacteria and promotes good bacteria while inhibiting the bad. They will help boost your immune system (did you know 97% of your immune system is in the gut!?) and your resistance to infection. These are foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented veggies, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, miso, and tempeh.

Fibre

Making sure you get enough fibre is vital to ensuring your digestive system is function properly – especially in terms of keeping everything moving in an orderly fashion! Adults need 25-30g of fibre (or more!) per day, and many are just not getting enough. Whole fruits and veggies contain fibre (make sure you keep the skins on for the extra boost – especially with potatoes!). You can also get fibre from nuts and seeds, whole grains, and lentils / legumes.

(Read more about fibre here!)

 

Digestive struggles?

Getting an outside opinion can always help us see things that we’re missing! Sign-up for a free breakthrough session to chat about how we can work together to boost your digestion.

How to Eat for Better Digestion

How to Eat for Better Digestion

How to Eat for Better Digestion

Your digestion is not just about what you eat, but also how you eat.

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, then there are quite a few things that you can improve upon when it comes to mealtimes to help make the process a whole lot easier on your body.

1. Don’t eat in front of a screen

Whether it’s the TV, computer, or cell phone, eating in front of a screen can seriously upset your digestive process. For one, you’ll be distracted from eating and your brain won’t necessarily be able to pick up on your hunger & satiation signals as effectively – meaning you’re more likely to over eat. Another reason is that across all these devices is the possibility of our stress response getting trigger; messages coming in, work to do, or a dramatic scene on your favourite show. If we are in a stress state then our body isn’t going to be in the right state to properly digest our meal.

2. Don’t talk shop at the table

Similarly to staying away from screens during a meal, you also want to try and stay away from stressful conversation topics while eating. If you’re at work, leave the meeting debrief for after lunch. If you’re at home, wait until another time to talk about your finances or complain about the rough day you had. Your digestion will thank you!

3. Slow down!

When we eat quickly, we are again disrupting our system from efficiently being able to send us hungry and satiated signals, increasing your chance of overeating. On top of that, the first stage of physical digestion is in the mouth – chewing your food to break it down and mix it with enzymes in your saliva. Properly chewing your food takes a huge burden off the rest of your system, so aim for 20-30 chews for every single mouthful!

4. Take care not to over eat

We all have those foods that we could just keep eating and eating! But when we over eat we are putting a higher demand on our digestive system. Over eating is when you know you should stop – you’re clearly getting the satiated signals from your body, but you keep going, resulting in that uncomfortably full feeling. Your stomach feels full and heavy, you’re probably burping, and maybe even experience acid reflux. If you’re taking the previous three steps into account you’re going to be less likely to end up at this point.

5. Skip beverages during a meal

If you’re struggling with digestive issues, you could try skipping drinks during a meal. Even water can throw off the acidity level of your stomach and if you often feel overly full, it would also be contributing to this, especially if you’re drinking carbonated beverages. Try skipping drinks 15 minutes before until 15 minutes after a meal and see how you feel. If you need some liquid to help keep your mouth moist try and keep it to small sips as needed.

6. Play detective

If you’re struggling with digestive issues you might be getting triggered by a certain food, or type of food. Keep a food journal where you also note down how you’re feeling throughout the day. This way you might be able to see specific patterns in how your food is making you feel. It might also be a question of quantity – sometimes we can do OK with a small amount, but can have issues once a certain threshold is passed.

 

Digestive struggles?

Getting an outside opinion can always help us see things that we’re missing! Sign-up for a free breakthrough session to chat about how we can work together to boost your digestion.

Tips to Healthfully Navigate the Holiday Season

Tips to Healthfully Navigate the Holiday Season

Tips to Healthfully Navigate the Holiday Season

Navigating the holiday season can be tricky! Especially if you’re trying to keep up with your healthy habits.⁠

Rather than throwing in the towel and waiting for January 1st to start all over again, this season is all about maintaining your hard work. Imagine how amazing you will feel come the new year if you’re able to keep up your healthy lifestyle – anything will be possible!

Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season:

Meal plan & prep ahead on the weekend. While I go on about meal planning a lot, I don’t necessarily do it every week. But it is KEY for surviving these busy periods!⁠ Not only will you save money on your grocery bill by being as efficient as possible and minimizing take-away and convenience foods, but you’ll also be getting more more nutritious meals that will keep you full and fuelled for longer. Not to mention the precious weeknight time you’ll save on preparing dinner.

Bring a homemade packed lunch. Not only will you probably save money and cut down on food waste, but you’ll be making sure to get a nutrient-dense lunch in before any evening activities.⁠

Front-load your nutrition. Focus on getting lots of veggies & protein in early in the day, since these will likely be lacking if you’re out for dinner.⁠ That way you can roll with whatever comes in the evening, knowing that you got some solid nutrition in already!

Don’t deny yourself some indulgences! If you’re out at a party, start off with the “healthier” fare, but definitely still go for those cravings as well. The healthier options will fill you up first, helping to ensure you can still have those indulgences mindfully. This way you’re less likely to go overboard. ⁠

Swap out a couple alcoholic drinks for some non-alcoholic cocktails. Keep your alcohol consumption in moderation by, at the least, alternating with a non-alcoholic alternative. There are loads of fancy mocktail possibilities, and I bet most people won’t notice! You’ll definitely thank yourself in the morning when you sleep better and minimize the chance of a hangover.

Prioritize sleep. Sleep is key for recovering and building resiliency to stress. Not to mention this time of year kicks off cold and flu season, so your immune system could do with the boost. Even if sleep comes at the expense of something like exercise, this is a period of the year where this swap is worth it.⁠

Know your non-negotiables for managing stress, and keep up with some form of self-care.⁠ While you might need to cut down on your self-care time to properly balance your schedule, make sure you’re not cutting it out completely! That time to yourself will help you recharge and have more energy to give to everything else that is going on.

Practise saying no when needed. Recognize your limits or propose alternatives when certain requests are just too much.⁠ Everyone is busy at this time of year, so most people will understand if you turn down an invitation. Or think of alternative activities that won’t take all of your energy. Did a friend invite you to a holiday party that you know will be exhausting? Propose meeting for a lunch instead so you still get that time to connect. Or, maybe you want to throw a party of your own to see all your friends in one go, rather than attend a million different functions.

What’s your strategy for approaching this holiday season? Leave a comment and let me know what you’re going to try out!

8 Ways to Improve your Evening Routine for Better Sleep

8 Ways to Improve your Evening Routine for Better Sleep

8 Ways to Improve your Evening Routine for Better Sleep

Spending too much time at night staring at the clock and counting sheep? Maybe you keep calculating how much time you’ll have to sleep as you watch the minutes slip away; 7 hours… 6 hours… Making yourself more stressed out and less likely to fall asleep!

Ensuring you get enough sleep is vital to helping your body recover from the stressors of the day and build your resilience against whatever may come. Unfortunately for many of us, we just aren’t logging the hours we need, and nothing is more frustrating than getting into bed, tossing and turning, and feeling like we’re wasting time staring into the darkness as sleep alludes us.

An evening routine and ritual can seriously help your system slow down and get ready to drift off to sleep. Our body needs this time to transition especially after we’ve been on the go all day. As a child, or with your own children, you probably had a nightly ritual that you went through before bed. So why do we tend to cut these routines out as we get older and just try to suddenly change from one activity to the next?

Your evening routine should be unique to you, and you should do the things you need to help yourself unwind. To help you get some ideas, check out my latest YouTube video with 8 different ways you can up-level your evening routine and help yourself fall asleep faster. Every minute counts!

Drop a comment below with which tip you’re going to try out tonight!

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