The 80/20 Rule

As the holidays approach, I am sure many have already been confronted with temptations of sweets and other dishes that come with the festivities. I know I have. I adore this time of year getting together with friends and family sharing food and love all around. When it comes to being healthy, we have to be realistic when it comes to eating. We can’t be afraid in indulging ourselves at times especially during the holidays. Life is too short to miss out on the pleasures it brings. Eating the same types of foods day after day can get boring. Diets are meant to vary like when you go on vacation trying different local cuisines, are pregnant having an increased requirement for essential nutrients or are feeling under the weather with a slower metabolism to focus your body’s energy on the immune system. My commitment to eating when it comes to my health is to follow the 80/20 rule. 

The 80/20 rule means that the majority or around 80% of the time, you eat the nutritious foods that you know will be beneficial to your health. The other 20% allows you to give in to your taste buds with foods that may not be so good for you. This way, you can still feel good about your food choices overall. Let’s say you decide to help yourself to many rich dishes at Christmas dinner but know that it’s not the best for you when considering your diet. You can either choose to eat your meal while savouring the flavour and taking delight in it. Or you can choose to feel bad or guilty disabling you from enjoying the full experience of all the delicious food. The latter choice will negatively affect your digestion and may indicate an unhealthy relationship with food. Maybe it’s best to just stick to your diet if the guilt will overwhelm you and give your attention to praising yourself with strong discipline. Whenever you commit to starting a diet, always set yourself up to win. You make up the rules on what is allowed and what is forbidden. Complying to the rules you created that’s simple to abide by, results in feeling good about yourself while being more likely to eat healthier for a longer period of time.

Maintain a healthy balance like the 80/20 rule with the foods you choose to consume. It’s your habitual lifestyle that affects your overall health not what you eat over Christmas. After the holidays, my body may feel a little sluggish wanting to get back to my regular routine. When you have experienced how the right foods for you give you better energy, nourishment and well-being, you’ll want to return to that healthy eating lifestyle. Eat, drink and be merry this Christmas season. Happy holidays and all the best in the new year! 

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Seed Cycling for your Menstrual Cycle

Just as your menstrual cycle involves an egg and its potential to become a baby, seeds also have the possibility to grow into new life. It’s interesting how consuming seeds can help regulate one’s menstrual cycle. Why is it important to get consistent periods on a monthly basis? Aside from having the desire to conceive, regular menstruation that occurs every 28 days on average means balanced hormones for optimal health. The two hormones that are involved are called estrogen and progesterone.

Have you ever heard of a seed cycle protocol? In the past, I received good results after following it to regulate my menstrual cycle. What exactly is it? It’s a natural and easy method of eating certain types of fats found in seeds to help your body in the production of estrogen and progesterone during the two phases of your cycle. 

The follicular phase begins on day 1, the first day of your period. Estrogen production is needed more at this time and can be helped with the ingestion of the omega 3 fatty acids called ALA found in pumpkin and flax seeds. Progesterone needs to kick up its production after ovulation occurs, this is the start of the luteal phase on day 15, the middle of your cycle. Omega 6 fatty acids called GLA is a precursor to this hormone and can be found in sesame and sunflower seeds. Then the cycle repeats after day 28 when your period appears again.  

Whole seeds are great sources of fats when raw with minimal processing. Good fats are delicate and can easily go rancid upon exposure to heat, light and oxygen. To increase their absorption, grinding seeds in a dedicated coffee grinder or really good blender will help release their fat. Their tiny size makes it hard to break down with our teeth no matter how well we chew. Speaking of teeth, just a warning you may get some seed bits stuck in between them like I did! 

When preparing seeds for this protocol, it’s best to grind them right before eating. If that is not possible, using a dark airtight container and storing them refrigerated will help keep them fresh. Sprinkle seeds on top of salads, cereal or anything you’d like really. Just be careful when mixing into hot foods, remember high heat can destroy the beneficial fats. 

If you do not have the time to commit to grinding and eating seeds, supplementation is another option. Omega 3 fish oils containing EPA and DHA can be taken instead of pumpkin and flax seeds. Sesame and sunflower seeds can be substituted with evening primrose oil. For optimal absorption take supplements in liquid form instead of gel capsules and always with food. 

If you’re in need of improving your menstruation cycle, try following this protocol. See below for a short summary. Along with improving other lifestyle habits like diet, exercise and getting adequate good quality sleep, your cycle is bound to be regular. For more information on seed cycling, feel free to contact me to help get your body’s hormones into balance. 

Seed Cycle Protocol

Follicular Phase: Day 1 to Day 14 (menses to ovulation):

2-3 tablespoons of ground raw flax seeds and/or pumpkin seeds daily.

(or 1500mg fish oil: EPA/DHA)

Luteal Phase: From Day 15 to 28 (ovulation to menses):

2-3 tablespoons of ground raw sunflower and/or sesame seeds daily.

(or 1500 mg evening primrose oil)

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Food Tricks on How to Treat Yourself this Halloween

When pondering on what to write about this month, Halloween came to mind. Do you like dressing up? Food has its own way of disguising itself in their nutrient content and health benefits. Looking around my kitchen I decided to blog about certain items I found that are powerful foods just waiting to be consumed as a treat to your body. 

Flax Seeds: When digested in their whole form, flax seeds are an insoluble fiber that goes right through the body undigested while adding bulk to your stool. It contains a tough exterior shell that needs to be broken down to release nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, magnesium, iron, lignans and proteins. Unless you chew each one really well, these seeds need to be ground before eating for our bodies to assimilate all the beneficial nutrients. One trick I found with these seeds is turning them into an egg substitute when baking. Combine one tablespoon of ground flax seeds to two and a half tablespoons of water and mix to obtain a thick liquid consistency to add to your eggless baked good treat.

Camu Camu Berries: Synthetically made vitamin C supplements alone have their benefits for boosting immunity, but this powerful vitamin is more effective when working with bioflavonoids. Together, these antioxidant treats are found in whole foods like citrus fruit, bell peppers and berries. When my family needs an extra antioxidant kick, I turn to camu camu berry powder. It works great for my three year old who doesn’t know how to swallow pill forms yet. Just a teaspoon of the berry powder contains almost seven times the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and since the powder is made from the whole berry, the additional intake of bioflavonoids enhances the vitamin’s activity. The trick is to hide it in drinks like juice or smoothies because the taste may not be likable.

Turmeric: Whether in its whole root form or as a powder, turmeric is one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods due to its active component curcumin. Making a habit of adding turmeric to your food is a great treat to do your body good. The trick to increasing turmeric’s absorption and effectiveness in the body is consuming it with black pepper and a fatty food. I sprinkle a little bit of the two spices here or there, like on eggs, potatoes, bone broth and even mixing them in warm milk with other spices to make golden milk.

Apple Cider Vinegar: Many assume too much stomach acid is the origin of their indigestion turning to the popular acid blocker pink drink or antacids to find relief. The trick to helping digestion issues is to work on maintaining a healthy colon while having adequate levels of digestive juices and enzymes.  An underactive stomach is common where foods are incapable of proper digestion because of the lack of stomach acid. Apple cider vinegar is a fermented food providing beneficial bacteria, a great treat to our gut. When two to four tablespoons are taken before a meal, its acidity prepares the body for food releasing more stomach acid to activate enzymes and produces more bile. I like to use apple cider vinegar in place for vinegar in recipes like for salad dressings or chicken adobo. 

Moringa: You are lucky if these leaves are available at your local Asian grocery store. I first ate moringa leaves after giving birth when my mother added them in soup to help with my milk supply. They are a little on the expensive side, but for good reason. These leaves are packed with magnesium, calcium, iron, quercetin, vitamins A, C, B6, K and so much more nutrients to list. They are also available in a dried powder form. My favourite way of using the powder is drinking it like a matcha latte. Dissolving the powder in a little bit of hot water while adding warm milk and a sweetener of choice does just the trick. It tastes similar to the green tea but with no caffeine and a higher dose of a nutritional treat.

Chia seeds: What is one trick to adding more fiber to your diet? Eating it as a dessert of course! Chia seeds are a great source of fiber, magnesium, calcium, iron and good fats. I like adding chia seeds with fruit, yogurt, ice cream or pudding as a sweet treat to get more fiber and extra nutrients in my body. It’s a great way to slow glucose entering into the bloodstream when eating dessert. Always soak chia seeds in water or a liquid of choice overnight since they absorb more liquid than their weight and can leave you dehydrated if ingested dry.

This Halloween, remember to treat your body kindly. Using these tricks help me maintain a healthy diet while providing me with all their nutritional benefits. Why not try them if you haven’t already? Happy Halloween and enjoy these tricks and treats!

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

When Menstruation Cramps your Style, Follow these 7 Steps to Minimize Pain

It’s your time of the month and you’re experiencing aching cramps. You take another pill to relieve the pain thinking this is normal. At least that’s what I used to say to myself… well, it’s not!  What was happening inside my body for pain to accompany my period? Before menstruation occurs, the body releases an egg to get fertilized and implanted in the growing endometrial nutrient rich layer of the uterus. If this does not take place, the unfertilized egg along with the uterine lining sheds, then you see your period. Contractions of the uterus must begin to get the blood flowing out. This is when prostaglandins are formed, a hormone like substance involved in many functions in the body. Some are responsible for the minute movement in the muscle layer of your uterus. Other types of prostaglandins are involved in inflammation that leads to the sensation of pain! When inflammation is present, the body responds by constricting its blood flow. Limited blood flow to the uterus decreases its oxygen supply that may be contributing to more pain with your menstruation. 

From my experience, this is what I learned over the years to help alleviate menstrual cramps so that they won’t return the next time around. 

1) Increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids abundant in seeds, nuts and fatty fish. Inflammatory prostaglandins are made from omega 6 fatty acids. Meat, dairy and eggs are all high sources of this fat. Focusing on eating less land animal products while consuming more omega 3 fats will decrease proinflammatory substances including the prostaglandins involved in pain.  

2) Incorporate a variety of green vegetables in your diet. Magnesium is found in chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. This mineral is known as a muscle relaxant to help lessen cramping of the uterus while allowing more blood and oxygen to flow through the tissue. 

3) Limit your intake of unhealthy foods like high sugar, fried and processed foods.  Ingesting too much of these junk foods may contribute more to the inflammation involved in menstrual pain.

4) Decrease overall stress to help relax muscles. A great stress reliever is regular physical activity which will also aid with overall blood flow. This allows more oxygen and other nutrients to travel throughout your body including the pelvic area.

5) Stay hydrated by drinking at least 8 glasses of water daily.  A lot of water is lost through your menstruation so it’s important to replenish your fluids. Bloating may indicate that the body is actually dehydrated. Water always keeps things flowing so your period can be over and done with. 

6) Supplement to replenish nutrients lost through your period. Taking a good quality multivitamin, omega 3 fish oils, magnesium or a B complex vitamin are good examples to add on top of eating healthy meals. As mentioned above, omega 3 and magnesium supplementation may help with cramps, B vitamins may offer pain relief too.

7) Place a castor oil pack over the abdomen to help decrease inflammation around the uterus. Castor oil is known to contain ricinoleic acid, when absorbed through the skin it can have anti-inflammatory properties. Make sure not to use castor oil packs during menstruation due to the fact it may lead to more bleeding than usual. 

I remember back in the day, I had the worse cramps that prevented me from doing my normal day to day activities. If you want to empower yourself rather than giving in to taking pain reliever medication like I used to in the past, please try these 7 steps. After learning more about my body and what it needs, I don’t have to take any more pain meds because I no longer have issues with my monthly period. Being mindful on how to be proactive in keeping menstrual cramps away so that they don’t have to happen is great selfcare.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Why Farmer’s Markets May Not Be For Everyone

I recently took a trip to Seattle visiting their popular Pike Place Market. There was a huge selection of products for sale. I can still remember walking through it smelling fresh seafood, grilled cheese sandwiches and even beautiful floral bouquets. This was my kind of farmer’s market! Have you been to your local farmer’s market? These days it’s not just about supporting local farmers, but about bringing a community together for local businesses to showcase their goods whether it involves food or not. Not sure if farmer’s markets are for you? Read more to find any “disadvantages” of what I have experienced at these markets.

Interactive shopping

Not only can you enjoy shopping outdoors, vendors sell their products on a more personal basis. They will be right there waiting to give you free samples along with information about what they are selling. It’s always great to try something before buying it. And If you have any questions about the product, they are there to answer them. I love learning more about the food that I eat.

Rare finds on deals when compared to your grocery store

My daughter loves blueberries and they are best purchased fresh when in season. I found that the best deals for these berries are in late summer at farmer’s markets and they are even available in larger portions! Not only do they taste so sweet and juicy, you’ll get the most nutrients from them since they were more ripely picked. When produce is high in supply and at its ripest, the sellers may be compelled to lower their prices to unload them quickly before they spoil.

Shorter shelf life

Ever notice when you pick plants from your garden the food doesn’t last as long as store bought produce? They may not be as crisp the next day or grow moldy unexpectedly. Having the convenience of a garden is being able to harvest the plant minutes before eating or preparing it in a meal instead of storing it in your fridge until it’s ready to be used. Produce are able to be picked closer at their ripened stage from local farms selling at the market because they don’t have to go through lengthy transportation commutes. This makes their produce life expectancy shorter than the ones found at your grocery store. 

Don’t expect to find all produce “Certified Organic”

You might be surprised to learn how close farms are located near your city. These farms may produce on a smaller scale and most likely not certified in labelling their products “organic”. I once asked a lady at her vendor if her carrots were grown organically because I wanted to buy a big bag for juicing. She replied that the cost of the carrots would probably be double in price if they were to be sold as organic. Even if farms do not use any chemical fertilizers and pesticides, it takes years for the soil to turn over into being qualified for growing organic produce. Labeling a food “Certified Organic” comes with a higher price due to the cost of getting and maintaining that certification. 

Limited availability

If you’re like me, I can easily get hooked on certain foods. For instance, there is a certain kombucha that I love made with green tea and less natural sugars in all their flavours. There have been days where I was prepared to fill up my growler only to find that they were not present at the market on that particular day. Unfortunately, you may find the availability of certain products inconsistent or nonexistent. In addition, outdoor farmer’s markets are seasonal and not available all year round.

Impulsive purchases

Free samples are the best way to attract customers. Just like my previous kombucha example, I made an unplanned purchase of maple syrup. After trying some samples, the seller asked which one l preferred in taste. I answered honestly that I couldn’t really taste a difference. He then recommended the dark syrup because it is the most concentrated in minerals when compared to the light or medium syrups. When you learn more about the health benefits of a product, you are more likely to buy it.

It’s not just about food

Supporting local businesses benefits them, our community and us as the consumers. Be prepared to spend a little more money and time shopping compared to a typical store. Conversing with the local business vendors and trying out samples all come with the experience. It’s a great way to get outdoors in the fresh air and learn more about the goods they are selling. 

I personally love shopping at farmer’s markets, however it may not be for everyone. As fall approaches, farmer’s markets are coming near to full harvest mode until the end of the season. If you are still unsure about them check out the nearest one to your home before the season ends, you might just like it! If not, more grocery stores proudly display signs that promote local products so make sure you support local when you can.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Feeding Your Gut

Did you know that your digestive system is simply a lengthened donut shaped tube inside you? Just picture a donut placed flat over your lips where the donut hole opens into your mouth. Stretching the donut down to your esophagus, expanding to form your stomach, then extending into a long tube of intestines where the other end is a hole in your derriere completes your digestive tract. This prolonged donut tube is a very important membrane that comes into contact with not only your food but many microorganisms too protecting the rest of your body from them. The presence of certain living organisms around these membranes can lead to having bad breath, a sore throat or stomach ulcers. 

An important part of our anatomy where tiny living organisms inhabit is inside our large intestine called our gut flora. A portion of these microbes are beneficial synthesizing vitamin K and B for our body to utilize. A healthy flora contains a balance of good and bad microorganisms that live harmoniously to help our digestive system. Our gut microbiome also has a strong connection to our immunity and brain. An imbalanced gut flora is when bad microbes overpopulate the good ones resulting in inflammation where the immune system is activated. If inflammation continues, a damaged colon membrane may follow leading to other problems in the body. 

Every individual has a distinctive diet creating a unique profile of living organisms inside their intestinal colon. These living cells soon multiply feeding on and helping breakdown the remaining indigestible material of food they are exposed to. Locals tend to have a different reaction after eating a meal from their area compared to a foreign traveller. The foreigner’s digestive juices, enzymes and gut flora are not accustomed to these new foods where indigestion like gas, bloating and diarrhea may occur. Even the act of changing to a healthier diet may have an effect on one’s digestion. Strong cravings for past foods may be due to the gut flora desiring what they were normally feeding on. It’s best to go slow, eating small portions when introducing new foods from time to time.

Probiotics are gaining popularity to maintain a healthy gut by ingesting beneficial live microorganisms found in these supplements. However, without a proper diet, these supplemented living organisms will never take root and thrive on its own inside your colon requiring more supplementation. So what is a “proper diet”? Eat a vast array of food! Rotate an assortment of foods in your diet making the majority of your intake high in fiber. Fiber is a prebiotic that the good microbes eat to survive populating your gut while keeping the bad organisms in check. The numerous varieties of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes are all great high fiber prebiotic sources to help digestion and keep your bowels moving. By being regular, a balanced intestinal flora is maintained to remove excess unhealthy microorganisms with your waste. To receive probiotics naturally in your diet, consume more fermented foods that contain live beneficial bacteria like sauerkraut, tempeh, raw cheese and kombucha. 

Just remember the type of foods you choose to nourish your body also nourish the population of good and bad microbes growing inside your colon. What does your diet consist mostly of? A nutritious diet maintains a well-balanced flora along with a healthy digestive membrane and body overall. 

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

When Eating Can Lead to Nutritional Deficiencies

When I was a little girl and was asked, “What do cows eat?” the answer to my knowledge then would be grass of course. My three year old daughter asked me the same question the other day and my answer is a little more complicated than before. Having previously worked for a lab in the food industry, our beef samples would be categorized in the type of feed they were given. The groups we received were corn fed, grain fed (soy fell somewhere among those two mixes) and grass finished. Grass finished cows would have eaten grass not for their entire life, but for some span of their lifetime right before being slaughtered. With the high consumption of beef and dairy products, man has coped with supplying the demand of our growing population by creating the industrialized process. The evolution of food production has forced us to abandon outdated harvesting methods that provided us with more nourishment than today. Eating too much of certain foods in our modern diet can actually lead to nutritional deficiencies. 

Improper Digestion

Eat slowly, chew food properly and be in a relaxed state are simple guidelines to eating a meal. We live in a fast-paced world where time is of the essence. I recall my mornings of trying to sleep in a few more minutes before getting out of bed and rushing to get out the door after fitting in a quick breakfast. Then at work, I only had an hour for a lunch break and if I was fortunate not to be too busy, breaks for snacks if I remembered to pack them. In the evening when I returned home, I would be famished where I would tend to overeat during dinner. 

When too much food is eaten at any given time, the digestive system needs to produce enough stomach acid and digestive enzymes to ensure everything is broken down for proper nutrient absorption. When a meal is eaten too quickly, it most likely does not get chewed properly leaving more work for the digestive system while not being able to signal to the brain when the body is actually full. The liver may get backed up in processing the consumed macronutrients and the pancreas that releases digestive enzymes may be insufficient in breaking down everything. Being stressed while eating hinders digestion even more. Gut health also plays a major factor of how well absorption takes place through the intestinal wall. Ensuring proper digestion is vital in obtaining maximum nutrients from food for a healthy body. 

Repetitive foods

Thanks to the advances in transportation and food storage, all food products are accessible all year round in any part of the world. People tend to stick to certain staples that they enjoy eating and are familiar with in preparing. I know my daughter loves her broccoli and asparagus the best, however there are so many other nutrient packed vegetables that I attempt to introduce to her from time to time. When a variety of foods are present in a diet, the body can absorb more of an array of nutrients. Eating the same foods day after day can have a negative effect on how the body reacts to them. Antinutrients such as sugar or caffeine and foods high in oxalates or phytic acid are a few examples that can block nutrient absorption. Being aware of these nutrient blockers and rotating foods or eating different foods on a regular basis can help expose the body to a wider assortment of nutrients.

Changes in Farming Practices

Conventionally grown animals no longer have habitual access to grass, sunlight and space to roam freely. By taking away their natural environment their nutrient content is drastically reduced especially in fat soluble vitamins E, K2, D3 and retinol. Instead of obtaining those nutrients from an ideal environment, inferior synthetic vitamins like the sunshine vitamin D are added to our milk or even in chicken feed to produce fortified eggs when they should be naturally occurring. 

Crop rotations were the past norm in farms where each year different seeds would be planted to replenish and balance the soil’s nutrients. Today, many farms are challenged with making an income from their crops forcing them to grow the same food year after year due to its high demand. Are we receiving more nutrients from organic produce compared to conventionally grown when nutrients are not being replenished back into the soil? Know where your food comes from by purchasing local in season crops when available to ensure you are getting the freshest maximum nutrition and always look for pasture raised animal products to get the most natural nourishment from those foods. 

Refined Processed Foods

Today we are so fortunate to have food easily ready for us with a longer shelf life. Refining foods and stripping away their nutrients as seen in white flour to make breads and pastas while adding preservatives will definitely make food last longer. The risk of it spoiling decreases when there is no true sustenance for microorganisms or other parasitic life to feed on. However, it is good enough for us to consume as long as it pleases our palate. These foods can be a luxury, however always make sure to read the ingredient list before buying. Ensure the majority of the contents come from real foods being listed first and minimize the ingestion of unnatural chemicals where they should be read last on the list or non-existent. Moderation is key when using these convenient foods.   

Synthetic Supplementation

Supplements are needed to make up for nutritional deficiencies, however synthetic nutrients are inferior to substances naturally found in nature. When you eat an orange for its vitamin C content, you are also taking in other nutrients like bioflavonoids that work together with the vitamin in having a beneficial synergistic effect in the body. Supplements are good for their convenience in dose and availability rather than eating fifty oranges to receive a higher amount of vitamin C content. Whenever possible, try finding supplements sourced from real whole foods like dried camu camu berry powder for a high dose of the antioxidant vitamin.  

Why do we eat? Food gives us strength and nourishment. It brings us comfort, a sense of belonging when shared with others and satisfies our hunger cravings. When working with a Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant, the information mentioned above most likely will come up to improve one’s diet. Diet is a lifestyle, not a temporary fix. Education on food, achieving optimal digestion and receiving specific nutrients that the body needs all take part in the foundation of improving one’s health. When the body is empowered with nourishment from real whole foods, it thrives.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Estrogen Dominance: Goldilocks and the 3 Estrogens

Reading is important in my life. However, some days it can be challenging to find time for it. I am teaching my daughter that books should be a significant part of her life too. Even though she can’t read yet, she loves her books. One of her favourite places to go to is the library. Not only does it have many great books to choose from, the environment is very friendly with lots of space to play and socialize with other kids. I love sitting down with her enjoying a new story with pictures and interacting together.

Everyone knows about the story of Goldilocks and the three Bears. The protagonist is shown to invade the home of a bear family helping herself to their belongings with extreme pickiness, only to fall asleep in Baby bear’s bed waking up face to face with them. Estrogen dominance would explain Goldilocks’ behavior. When the body has an imbalance of too much of the hormone estrogen, it is known as estrogen dominance having indicative signs as seen in her actions, please let me explain.

When you picture Goldilocks in your head, many envision a young girl with beautiful long blond hair and maybe even healthy glowing facial skin. Estrogen is responsible for those characteristics. Too much of these hormones can disrupt those beneficial qualities. I picture Goldilocks with dry thinning hair and a blemished face where adolescence may have arrived earlier than expected. This description can occur in the presence of too much estrogen in the body as well as mood swings, PMS, weight gain and fatigue.

What happens in the body when estrogen is present? Hormones remain inactive until it binds onto a cell receptor acting as messengers to cells. Once activated, the cell receives the message to change its activity. Proteins begin to be synthesized creating a cascade of events. In the female body, there is a delicate balance between estrogen and the other sex hormone progesterone that allows important life events to occur. These experiences are going through puberty, the regulation of each menstrual cycle, pregnancy including after baby is born and menopause. In the case of too much estrogen activity, you observe a girl like Goldilocks.

Phytoestrogens

This porridge is too hot… too cold… just right!

Giving into strong food cravings is something many PMS sufferers may experience from imbalanced levels of estrogens. Goldilocks was hungry but picky and moody (sounds like PMS to me) about finding the perfect bowl of porridge. What would be even more interesting is if the porridge consisted of oatmeal. Oats are phytoestrogens, plants that are able to mimic estrogen by binding to their receptor sites.  This is not necessarily a bad thing. By doing this, it can alleviate signs of menopause or increase milk production after giving birth. Phytoestrogens may even help balance the body’s hormones by competitively occupying receptors giving a weaker effect on turning on a cell’s activity while helping the liver remove excess unbound estrogens circulating in the blood. Other foods known to be phytoestrogens are soy, flaxseeds, barley, legumes, yams, beer and alfalfa.

Xenoestrogens

Somebody has been sitting in my chair and has broken it!

When Goldilocks chooses the smallest chair as not too hard, not too soft but just right, she ends up breaking it. Could it be possible that she was heavier than average? Estrogen dominance may lead to weight gain. Having a high number of fat cells, xenoestrogens are most likely to stay hiding around them. What are xenoestrogens? They are outside chemicals mimicking estrogen that enter our bodies through ingestion by the mouth, inhalation through the lungs and absorption on the skin. These imposters have a stronger affinity to latch onto estrogen receptors than phytoestrogens or the real hormone itself making them difficult to remove from the body while changing the cell’s activity for a longer length of time. Phthalates in plastic food storage containers, parabens in body care products, growth hormones injected in conventionally produced meats and pesticides sprayed onto produce are all chemicals known as xenoestrogens.

Endogenous Estrogens

Somebody is sleeping in my bed!

Fatigue during the day leading to Goldilocks’ need for a nap could be a sign of estrogen dominance. Did she have a headache or difficulty falling asleep at night? These are also signs of too much estrogens in the body. The last type of estrogen that may cause a hormonal imbalance are endogenous estrogens which are naturally made in the body. In women, estrogen is produced in the ovaries, adrenals, liver and breast tissue. A rise in estrogens in the body usually occurs when the liver is unable to keep up with the removal of old hormones. It is important to maintain a healthy functioning liver eating a well-balanced diet to have regular bowel movements for estrogen removal along with managing stress. Excess stress can also be a contributing factor to high estrogen levels. The stress hormone cortisol is produced from the same precursor as progesterone. When cortisol levels rise, progesterone lowers affecting the progesterone and estrogen balance. When estrogen receptor activation becomes chronic, menstrual issues, infertility or abnormal tissue growths may result.

If this information sounds relatable to anyone you love, please share this short read. If you see signs of estrogen dominance in yourself, feel free to contact me to see if my consulting services are right for you in getting your hormones back into balance. All females have an innate wisdom to nurture even if they have no intention of being a mother at all. Practice caring for yourself and others by avoiding exposures to xenoestrogens, consuming phytoestrogens mindfully while eating a healthy diet and managing stress levels effectively. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Mommas and future Mommas out there!

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Chocolate for Breakfast

April is a triple birthday month in my family. This year my mother turned 75, my daughter turns 3 and my niece turns 2! Being a mom of a toddler, I try my best to prepare healthy meals that she will like eating. A breakfast my mother made that I enjoyed as a child is called champorado. It is a Filipino chocolate porridge consisting of white rice, milk, sugar and chocolate. I make my own healthier version instead. It’s pretty simple and versatile to prepare. 

I love chocolate and so does my daughter Anna. I remember being 7 months pregnant giving in to my strong craving making chocolate cake one evening and her response was full of excitement. I knew she loved chocolate after eating it because that time was the most I felt her move during my entire pregnancy. In fact, I am certain that was the moment when she turned in my belly being born breech!

There are so many chocolate products available out there. The minimally processed unsweetened cacao powder is the type I like to use for my porridge where it maintains most of its nutrients being full of antioxidants, fiber and minerals. Natural cacao does contain caffeine so I recommend not to eat it at night for those who are pretty sensitive to its stimulant effects. That’s another reason why consuming chocolate for breakfast is the perfect way to wake you up in the morning! The next time you need a breakfast idea, why not try making this recipe below? All you need is a whole grain, natural sweetener, liquid of your choice and chocolate.

Whole grain: oats, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, millet

Whole grains are excellent sources of B vitamins. These vitamins play a vital role in our energy production and glucose metabolism. Slower to cook grains like steel cut oats (vs. rolled oats) and the other ones listed above take longer to digest making us feel satisfied instead of spiking our blood glucose levels. These whole grains also contain fiber, protein, minerals and other vitamins making them a healthier option for breakfast.

Natural sweeteners: raw honey, dark maple syrup, chopped dried dates, mashed bananas, apple sauce

In its more natural state, chocolate does have a bitter taste. Try reducing its bitterness with these nutrient dense sweet alternatives. In most commercial brands of chocolate, sugar is the main ingredient before chocolate even makes it on the list. White sugar is highly processed and lasts forever being no good inside our body.  

Milk of choice: cow’s milk, nut milk, seed milk, oat milk, rice milk…

From food sensitivities, beliefs or just personal taste, everyone has their own milk preference. For a creamier porridge, you can use milk in your recipe in place of water. I like to add it last with all my other toppings to help cool it off. 

Toppings of your choice: fruit, nuts, seeds, cinnamon, vanilla, coconut oil, the list is endless

One of the reasons Anna loves eating chocolate porridge for breakfast is because she gets to help make it. She loves adding her own toppings right before eating every spoonful. 

Chocolate: natural unsweetened cacao powder 

Natural cacao powder contains just that; no added sugars, milk ingredients or other unnatural components. It contains more antioxidants than regular dark chocolate. Since it is made from the whole cacao bean, just a spoonful gives quite a bit of calories due the presence of fat. Another thing to watch out for is its high copper content which usually is not stated in the nutrition facts label. People with a high copper and low zinc imbalance must take note of this. Cacao powder is packed full of other nutrients like magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, chromium and manganese. It’s a good thing so many people crave for chocolate!

Anna’s “Choco Cake” Breakfast (makes 2 servings)

½ cup oatmeal in 1 cup of water

Mash in ½ frozen or fresh ripe banana

Cook and mix everything together for 5 to 10 minutes

Take pot off heat cooling with milk of choice

Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of cacao powder away from high heat to maintain antioxidant effectiveness

Serve in bowls and add toppings of your choice. This recipe was inspired from my childhood eating my mother’s Filipino chocolate porridge. Just like champorado, Anna’s “Choco Cake” can be eaten cold too. There are so many possibilities to make this chocolate delight. Sometimes I change the whole grain adjusting for its cooking instructions even when making it for Anna. You can make anything taste good with chocolate. However nothing beats the texture of her regular oatmeal that she loves eating in the morning. Even if you are a picky eater, you should try changing things up. You might like it. 

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Why Say Grace Before Eating?

As we are in the midst of lent, I find myself challenged by fasting or eating simple meals. The main purpose of eating should be for nourishment to give us the essential nutrients that our body needs with the addition of providing us with energy. Where does energy come from? Photosynthesis involves sunlight to produce energy in the form of plant food. We then consume these plants or animals that have fed on plants.

However, when you think about it everything is energy. All matter in this world like the air we breathe, the seat you’re sitting in or the food we eat, are made up of atoms. These atoms are composed of electrons, protons and neutrons which are tiny particles of energy. Even thoughts from our mind can affect the energy around us. There is energy in our thoughts and how we feel. For example, think about being under stress.

I recall one time having breakfast while being so nervous before appearing on stage in front of many people. My perception of just thinking about being in front of a crowd was frightening to me, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was not only until my onstage event was over that I could finally calm down because I changed my thoughts to being relieved that it was over. Once this occurred I ended up vomiting my breakfast.

All my nervous energy resulted in having a flight or fight response where the body utilizes all its resources for immediate survival because the mind perceives to be in a stressful situation. It is so important to be in a relaxed, rest and digest state in order to obtain proper digestion.

Still not convinced about how our thoughts affect the energy around us? The placebo effect is influenced by not only the thoughts or beliefs of the person who is taking the placebo, but also the person(s) involved in administering the placebo. These thoughts can be so powerful that even a sugar pill can make a dramatic difference in one’s health. 

Masaru Emoto was a Japanese scientist whose life’s work was dedicated to studying ice crystals under the microscope.  He found that when expressing positive thoughts upon water like gratitude and joy, then freezing and photographing the ice crystals, the most beautiful pictures were taken. Symmetrical and intricate snowflake patterns appeared. However, when water has been exposed to negative thoughts like anger and hatred, the opposite occurs. Irregular and dim coloured shapes were formed in the ice crystals.1 He has written a number of books explaining his research that I highly recommend. 

I don’t know about you, but I would rather consume beautiful symmetrical snowflake crystals than ugly misshaped ones. Our food is composed of a percentage of water, so it is possible how what we are thinking and feeling before and during a meal can affect the quality of the food we eat. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you believe in a higher power or not. Saying a prayer before a meal, blessing the food or just the act of having appreciation may make a difference in the energy and nutrients it will provide you. 

Since the majority of our body is composed of water, a person’s overall thoughts and feelings can be affecting their own body’s vitality. So remember to always give thanks. Being grateful will allow more things to come into your life to feel thankful for. Whenever I see a complex and pretty snowflake that has fallen from the sky, it reminds me of how beautiful God’s creations can be. It also makes me wonder if the snowflakes have been affected by heaven where God and his angels radiate their pure positive energy.

1Emoto, Masaru (2004). The Hidden Messages in Water

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant