National Nutrition Month
For the entire month of March, I shared nutrition facts on my Facebook and Instagram pages. I really wanted all of these to be in one spot, so here is a summary blog post with ALL of the days. This is a LONG one, folks. But if you read through it all, you'll learn SO much.
Note: I didn't know it was National Nutrition Month until March 3rd..oops! So I started there ;)
March 3 - Hippocrates Quote
This quote is one of my favorites. Somehow we have moved away from the inherently knowing that what we eat affects what happens in our body. I’m not sure if we have been taught this by our culture or just a blatant lack of knowledge or care. I’ve had countless conversations with people complaining of ailments or pains and usually, I’ll ask what they eat. Typically, I get a blank stare or an insulted “Why would you ask that?” Face. Newsflash: we literally become what we eat...our cells regenerate in our body in cycles, which range from a couple days (like taste buds) to months (red blood cells) to years (our bones), but we have some control in how they are manipulated by the quality and source of our food choices.
March 4 - Chew your Food.
So maybe you knew this one….anddd you just forgot what it really means! You have to CHEW your food. Chew it until it is liquid before you pass it on to the next step in the digestive process. Trust me, sounds simple, but it’s HARD! The coolest part though? This simple step can completely transform what happens with that food IN your body. And NEWSFLASH. All you shake drinkers...you need to “chew” your shake too! You can’t just slurp it down into your belly. Let it rest in your mouth and move it around for the digestive enzymes to start the process before moving it along.
March 5 - One size does not fit all.
I heard a great quote recently, “The ‘I’m having what she’s having’ is NOT a real diet!” Ahh, preach! When it comes to nutrition EVERYTHING is individual. This is why giving out nutrition advice freely is difficult...it is all part of a context. YOUR context. Your life’s context matters - your history matters - who you are and what you need IS unique. Don’t let companies and marketing ploys tell you otherwise. It’s about gaining knowledge and information and tweaking it to fit YOU.
March 6 - Organic & Gluten-Free
Picking up with that marketing..we have to remember that marketers are paid to learn how to get products in your hands. Just because it’s organic, gluten-free granola doesn’t mean that it isn’t laced with sugars and syrups and will cause huge blood sugar problems. My favorite way to avoid the confusion? Avoid processed foods all together...BUT I know that may not be realistic 100% of the time. So READ the ingredients. Look for words you don’t know. Look for hidden forms of sugar (my #21DSD groups can really help teach you these skills!). Be aware and don’t assume that all companies are looking out for you when they create their labels.
March 7 - Anti-nutrients
This is an important one! Anti-nutrients are plant compounds that reduce the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients. Examples of these anti-nutrients: Phytates (phytic acid), which is mainly found in seeds, grains and legumes, reduces the absorption of minerals, including iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium. Lectins, which are found in all food plants, especially in seeds, legumes and grains, may be harmful in high amounts, and interfere with the absorption of nutrients. This is one of the reasons the #Paleodiet does not include foods like grains and legumes. There are ways to add these foods into your diet, but it involves soaking, sprouting, fermenting, boiling...or a combination of all of these techniques...and of course, always paying attention to the signals your body sends you! (AKA if the beans are really a “magical fruit” for you...your body is not digesting them and trying to let you know!)
March 8 - Calcium Part I
Calcium Part I: Many people think that if we are deficient in a vitamin or mineral, you just need to eat a whole lot of that one specific micronutrient to bring up your levels….buuuuut unfortunately our bodies are more complicated than that! Calcium, for example, requires many co-factors in order to be absorbed and properly used by the body. These are a balanced systemic pH level, proper hormonal function, adequate hydration, sufficient amounts of other minerals + vitamins, proper essential fatty acids, and functioning digestion.
March 9 - Calcium Part II
Calcium Part II: One of the misconceptions is that milk and dairy products are the best sources of calcium...that’s simply not true (but again, a great marketing strategy!) Some better sources are dark leafy greens, like collard greens, spinach, turnip & mustard greens. Sardines are actually the highest source of calcium (next to tofu, which I do not recommend because of sourcing!) Almonds and sesame seeds...there are many possibilities! One of my favorite resources for this type of information is whfoods.com (standing for World’s Healthiest Foods).
March 10 - Our body's systems
REST & DIGEST - or - FIGHT or FLIGHT. That is how your body was designed to function. Your nervous system is either relaxed and calm or stressed and on high alert. This rest & digest state, or the parasympathetic branch of your nervous system, is used for functions like digestion and maintaining homeostasis. The fight or flight response, or the sympathetic state, is designed to keep your alive and ready to fight or find cover in that danger. What state are YOU in?! The biggest problem I see in clients is that they do not fully convert to that parasympathetic state whenever they are eating. If you are multitasking, looking at your phone, standing, stressed out at work, eating in the car or on the run, etc…how is your body going to calm down enough to digest your food? Well...we hope it does, but it doesn’t sound to hopeful! Before you eat, say grace, take 5 deep breaths, LOOK at your food, think about 3 things you are grateful for..whatever it is that can get you settled and grounded and ready to eat!
March 11 - Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a popular vitamin, but did you know ALL OF THIS about it?! Yep, protects against free radicals in our bodies which means it is an antioxidant <3 Do you really know what an antioxidant is? Perhaps that will be one later this month ;) It is required to produce collagen, which is the framework for our skin and bones. It also keeps our brain healthy by making neurotransmitters! The best sources? Well everyone knows citrus fruit, but there are many, many more! Broccoli, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, bok choy...the list goes on and on :)
March 12 - Liver Supporting Foods
Our LIVERs need help! Our liver has SO MANY responsibilities in the body including production of bile, cholesterol, special proteins for blood plasma and to carry fats, storing and releasing glucose, converting ammonia, cleaning the blood of drugs and toxins, regulating blood clotting, resisting infections….and on and on and on! So you can see why we need to add in foods that will support our liver! The foods listed above of course are not all inclusive, but a great place to start: beets, avocados, garlic, lemon, cruciferous veggies, egg yolks, and leafy greens! Load up friends!
March 13 - Eat Healthy Fat!
With Dr Mark Hymen’s new book “Eat Fat, Get Thin,” I have seen this message getting out there a lot more, which is awesome. As I shared earlier, I was the Low-Fat Queen. I would be pained over making sure that I ate the least amount of fat as possible in the day. Why? Because every product out there was low-fat and everywhere I looked, I was told to eat low-fat. It boggled my mind why someone would by the “full-fat” yogurt with the fat-free sitting right next to it! #yikes. Again, no wonder I’ve ended up with my current health situation. So know this today...eating fat does NOT make you fat. In fact, it makes you healthy! Fat is a MACROnutrient. Fat is responsible for the integrity of our cells...the very thing we are made up of! Without strong cells, we cannot expect to have good health. It also provides long-lasting, sustaining energy, it helps us absorbs nutrients (hello, fat-soluble vitamins :)) and helps maintain our body temperature.
March 14 - Avocado!
Avocados are incredibly fat-dense nutrition-bombs! (See previous fact about why we need those healthy fats!) If you are low in potassium, everyone says “eat a banana!” But truth is avocados have MORE potassium..plus other great nutrients like folate, vitamins C, B5, B6, E and K. Not hating on bananas...simply trying to let you know that you have other options ;)
March 15 - Magnesium
If you listen to The Ladies Dish podcast, then you KNOW that magnesium is my FAVORITE mineral. It is important to over 300 functions in the body - so how can you not love it?! This has been key in regulating my Chocolate cravings! Yes, that’s right. When I feel that chocolate craving, I try to bump up my magnesium intake, and it usually subsides (although sometimes you just want to #treatyoself). Where can you find it? Pumpkin seeds are great sources, as are spinach, swiss chard, sesame seeds, beet greens, summer squash, and cashews.
March 16 - Eat your Macros
We have a tendency to demonize our macronutrients. First everyone was all hating on fat with the low-fat and fat-free craze..then we seemingly moved on to carbs and low-carb was the best way to go. The truth is you need ALL of your macronutrients to have your body run effectively. Each macro plays an important role in your body and if you try to eliminate an entire “portion,” you will watch your health deteriorate.
March 17 - Eat the Yolks!
Love this one today because it has a few meanings. #1) Balanced Bites is recording a podcast LIVE today and I am so excited to be here in Portland helping Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe! Liz is author of #eattheyolks and someone I look up to in the nutrition & paleosphere. #2) I’m SO TIRED of seeing egg white pictures on my news feed. WHY?! Egg white only offers you protein and essentially no micronutrients. None of vitamins A, D, E, B1, B3, B6, B9, B12, choline, calcium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium that the YOLKS offer! A healthy diet definitely has room for some delicious and nutritious egg yolks. I’ll tell you why I used to eat egg whites & throw away the yolks...I thought they would make me gain weight or raise my cholesterol...NEITHER are true. Don’t believe me? Then read Eat the Yolks ;)
March 18 - Leaky Gut
Leaky gut syndrome (intestinal permeability) is a condition many millions of people are affected by and don’t even know it. It’s a topic I’ve taken a big interest in my practice because almost all of my clients demonstrate signs & symptoms of leaky gut...and I’m certainly working through sealing my own! Stress, toxins, bacterial imbalances, drugs, pathogens, organ malfunctions, food particles & more cause GI inflammation. This inflammation causes a weak GI wall, which allows particles to pass through into the body where they shouldn’t be. This leads to food intolerances, immune system issues, and in some cases, autoimmune conditions. Many people think that you have to break out in a hive to have a food reaction, but truth is that bloating, fatigue, joint pain, skin issues (acne, rosacea), digestive issues, weight gain are all symptoms as well. Left untreated, leaky gut can lead to severe health issues like IBS, arthritis, eczema, depression, anxiety, headaches & migraines, and muscle pain.
March 19 - Sugar consumption
This is why #nationalnutritionmonth is so desperately needed. According to a report published on nutritionfacts.org on 3/4/16, 17% of calories in the American diet came from added sugar. The addition of these addictive and dangerous substances is rampant in the processed food industry. If I could give just 1 piece of advice to every person on this planet, it would be to avoid added sugar. I am honored to be a #21DSDCoach to help educate my clients about the dangers of sugar while helping them remove it from their diets and their lives. IT. IS. CRITICAL.
March 20 - Vitamin D
Many folks are afraid of the sun, but the LACK of Vitamin D is something big to fear! In fact, Vitamin D is what controls calcium and phosphate levels in the blood and contributes to bone growth + strength. It is responsible for the creation and function the the “T-Cells” in your immune system that protect against bacteria and disease. Without enough Vitamin D, the body can have higher levels of inflammation. If you are still afraid of sun beams, then at least make sure you are supplementing with D3 (vs D2 that is often added to milk and other products). It is best to get tested so you know your levels. (FYI: I live in FL and I was lacking! Never imagined it!)
March 21 - No Low-Fat Dairy
Now that many folks are starting to get word that the low fat diet has actually done more to harm our waistlines and health than help, I’m sure this does not come as much of a surprise (although the guidelines still push for low-fat dairy options). Besides the research & studies that have found people who consume high-fat dairy foods have lowest risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, the fat-soluble vitamins that come packaged with fat from Mother Nature are no longer able to be absorbed when you remove the fat (more on this tomorrow ;P)..therefore the nutrition you could get from the dairy is diminished when you remove the fat, making it mostly another sugar bomb.
March 22 - Fat Soluble Vitamins
Healthy fats are super important for building healthy cells, producing hormones and - yes, as I hinted yesterday - absorbing vitamins. Vitamins A, D, and K work together synergistically, but they also work with essential minerals like magnesium, calcium, and zinc. This hints that the best way to get all of these vitamins and minerals is by eating a well-rounded, nutrient-dense diet. You may be deficient in these fat-soluble vitamins if your fat intake is too low or if your fat absorption is compromised. As I often preach to my clients, everything starts with proper digestion!
March 23 - Fermented Foods
One important thing we all must learn is how to eat to build a healthy and diverse microbiome. Our gut contains over 70% of our immune system. In fact, a healthy gut and a healthy body are pretty much synonymous! One way to ensure this is to eat probiotic-rich foods, or fermented foods! Some examples are sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, kefir, raw milk yogurt, kvass..Start by adding in a little bit each day and be ready for changes :)
March 24 - Electrolytes
We often hear about electrolytes...and perhaps you picked up a Gatorade a time or two in the past trying to “replenish electrolytes” especially after physical activity...and the intention is great (although the Gatorade with its food coloring, plus added and artificial sweeteners...not so great!) Electrolytes have so many different roles within the body, so an imbalance can cause symptoms pretty quickly, like dizziness, muscle aches, anxiety, joint pain, fatigue, digestive distress & many more. Some ways to boost your electrolyte intake or balance? Coconut water (without added sugar) is great! Plus hydrating foods like cucumbers, watermelon, celery, citrus fruits, kiwi, pineapple may help!
March 25 - H2O
This is a big one! Besides drinking enough water (aim for ½ your body weight in oz per day as a starting point!), WHEN you drink that water is important. If you are only drinking when you eat, you are potentially causing yourself digestive issues! Our stomach uses acidic gastric juice to breakdown our food. Once it is acidic enough, it passes out of the stomach. IF you are chugging water during your meal, you are diluting that stomach acid (or worse - if you take a note from my book, I used to pop a TUMS after every meal. AH, it still makes me shutter!). Try to stop drinking water 30 minutes before and 30 minutes after your meal. You’ll notice how salty those restaurant meals really become when you practice this ;)
March 26 - Bad Oils
A little lesson today...omega 6’s and omega 3’s are called essential fatty acids, meaning we can’t produce them in the body - we have to get them from our food supply. Our ancestors used to get these FA in a ratio of 1:1. Nowadays, we are consuming WAY more Omega-6’s...up to a ratio of 16:1!! Excess Omega-6’s leads to inflammation in the body, which is essentially the cause of majority of western diseases. Vegetable and seed oils (ex: soybean, cottonseed, sunflower) are marketed as “healthy oils,” and I’m not sure how. It is actually very disgusting to watch how these oils are made - the bleaching and deodorizing through the extraction process, yuck! I’m not sure how these oils are allowed to be labeled as “food.”
March 27 - Antioxidants
Did the word “age” catch your eye? I like Dr. Mercola’s short description of antioxidants - “Antioxidants are nature's way of providing your cells with adequate defense against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS). As long as you have these important micronutrients, your body will be able to resist aging caused by your everyday exposure to pollutants.” Free radicals are highly reactive metabolites that your body naturally produces in response to things like cigarette smoke, sunlight, pharmaceutical drugs, exercise, and inflammation. They are responsible “biological oxidation” and collect in cell membranes, breaking them down and making them weak. As you can imagine, this topic can get pretty complicated! Antioxidants help in protecting your body against the build-up of these free radicals (it actually all has to do with electrons - remember those from HS Chem?!). Best sources of antioxidants? Organic veggies & fruits, nuts (esp walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts), herbs & spices, and green tea (high quality ones, that is!)
March 28 - Names for Sugar
Sugar is SNEAKY and lurky in your food sources as over 60+ names!! It’s like having the name Katelyn, but being called Katie, Kate, Katy, Kati, Katey...you get my point! Make sure you READ your nutrition labels and don’t just “trust” the big fancy buzzwords on the front. Keep an eye out for the many different types of sugars, malts, syrups, anything ending with -ose, sweeteners, and juices. Join my 21DSD group to learn more!
March 29 - Vitamin B12
I’ve tried to highlight at least 1 vitamin each week this month, so I’m going to end with Vitamin B12 because it’s really important for a lot of functions in the body, especially those listed above. It also helps with healthy pregnancies, production of red blood cells, healthy immunity. Unfortunately, you have to have a well-working digestive system to absorb B12, especially adequate levels of HCL (stomach acid - again, avoid the Tums and water at meal time!). Where can you get it? Well, B12 found in foods like chicken, meat and fish were found to be the most absorbable (vs plant sources and even eggs!). The BEST sources: salmon, beef & chicken liver, sardines, tuna, turkey, beef tenderloin, organic yogurt, raw milk. Also note: high levels of potassium from supplements can hinder the absorption of B12 (potassium from whole food should be fine!
March 30 - Food is Energy. Nourish your body.
Would you deprive your child, your friend, your parent of nourishment? Would you feel badly if they were constantly complaining of being hungry? Make sure you treat yourself and your body the same! Do not fear good food! The food that you put into your body is converted into energy. You become the food you eat. Keep your choices clean, colorful, and from Mother Nature!
March 31 - JUST EAT REAL FOOD
Thank you for being on the #NationalNutritionMonth journey with me! I hope you learned a lot about nutrition, real food, and your body. Whether you eat gluten-free, Paleo, Zone, GAPS, AIP, whatever fancy term you want to use for how you eat...keep your food choices to real food, listen to your body’s signals, and you won’t go wrong. Purge your pantry and house of the sugar & fake sugar, processed, refined, gluten, poor quality foods. THOSE are not nourishing to your body and health...they are stress and depleted of nutrition. IF YOU WANT TO FEEL GOOD, YOU HAVE TO FUEL GOOD. Happy eating!
Welp, that's all folks! Yeah I know...That was a small novel.
Do you have a favorite day/fact? Drop it in the comments below! : )
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