Building a Strong Immune System

The Corona virus has changed the world forever. Physical distancing, proper hand washing technique and facial touching with clean hands only are vital habits we need to practice. More than ever is the time we must know how to strengthen our immune system. On my last trip to the grocery store, the shelf that contained vitamin C supplements were all picked over, however there are more factors than vitamin C that support our immunity. Other nutrients and most importantly time are necessary for our immune system to develop. From the moment we are born, our immune system innately is learning how to fight.

I had to undergo a C-section when my breeched daughter was born. Caesarean babies avoid the microbe filled vaginal canal that stimulate their immune systems. Antibiotics are given to the mother prophylactically to reduce the risk of infection including after surgery while the scar heals. Antibiotics non-selectively kill all microorganisms inside the body whether good or bad. This compromises the gut flora which is known to be connected to our immune system. It also affects the quality of breast milk where the mother passes on her microflora. Then comes the vaccination schedule for baby to receive in order to stimulate their immune system against a number of different diseases. This was the beginning of my daughter’s life where her immune system was not exposed to a natural rite of passage.

The cycle of passing on immunity involves getting an infection to develop antibodies, immunoglobulins and other immune protecting substances for mothers to give to their babies through their breast milk. When the transmission of an infection and/or breastfeeding does not occur, there is no life-long immunity developed to pass on to the next generation, breaking the cycle. This gives the need for artificial immunity through vaccinations. By this method, the immune system is affected differently because vaccines do not give life-long immunity, instead a vaccination schedule is followed.

As a mother it was my responsibility to care for my child even though I had many disadvantages in her early life presented to me. I could not give my daughter a natural vaginal birth nor exclusively breastfeed due to not being able to produce enough milk for her. So how did I build her immunity?

Gut friendly foods

Recovering from giving birth, I began to rebuild my gut microbiome by supplementing with good quality probiotics while eating fermented foods along with a whole foods diet. By doing this, the beneficial bacteria would eventually pass through my limited breastmilk to give to my daughter. At six months when my daughter was ready for solids, I supplemented her gut with infant probiotics and fed her plain yogurt with prebiotic high fiber fruit and veggies. Having a healthy gut also means having a healthy immune system.

Sunshine and Vitamin D supplementation

Due to our Canadian climate and modern lifestyle, we have limited opportunities to being exposed to sunlight making it necessary for vitamin D supplementation. When I was breastfeeding and to this present day, I supplement both our diets with a liquid vitamin D3, liquid form is the most absorbable for our bodies to take in. When my daughter was a baby, I tried to sit by the window whenever the sun shone through and I try to take advantage of spending time outdoors with her weather permitting. Vitamin D plays many roles in our overall health, especially with immunity.

Real foods

The nutrient and microbe content in live, natural whole foods is always greater than foods that were processed especially with the addition of chemicals and preservatives. Eating a whole foods diet not only nourished me to recover after my C-section, it also provided nutrients for my daughter’s immunity during breastfeeding. When introducing solid foods to her diet, I cooked her meals in homemade bone broth to heighten the nutrient content. Our bodies respond best to real nutrient dense foods compared to artificial nutrients such as supplements which are still needed at times due to their higher doses and convenience. Vitamin C works synergistically with other nutrients like bioflavonoids, vitamin E and vitamin A found in fruits and veggies. It is best to consume a variety of wholesome foods in our diet to obtain their vast array of nutrients for our body to function optimally.

Sleep training

Teaching my child how to sleep was the most challenging experience I endured as a new mother. Sleep is so important for everyone’s growth, development and recovery. Even if she missed a nap or did not sleep well at night her stress level showed by being irritable or overtired. My hard work paid off, because my almost four year old daughter averages 11 hours of sleep every night! Sleep is commonly overlooked when it comes to immunity, rest while managing stress levels is just as important as our nutrition when it comes to our health.

Exposure to nature

We are living in a chemical world. Many of our food, household cleansers, body products and other unnatural chemical uses negatively affect the way our body functions. Minimizing chemical exposures in our lifetime is challenging, however it does not mean you should shelter yourself from the rest of the world. We are meant to explore nature because our bodies are very much a part of its environment. Nature is never static, we are meant to be active doing regular physical activity to function optimally. Walking barefoot on safe grass, eating a bit of soil on carrots from your garden or even forgetting to dust inside the house one week puts our immune system to work. Having too sterile of an environment leaves our immune system dormant from exercising its normal capabilities.

I remember my daughter’s first birthday when she cried after touching the icing on her smash cake. To this day, she hates getting her hands grimy. Now because of Covid-19, she knows how to wash her hands skillfully like a surgeon. There is a balance between clean hygiene and exposing ourselves to nature’s hidden dangers. It’s scary when my daughter comes down with a fever, however I always tell myself it’s a sign of her immunity strengthening. After this pandemic will it be safe to drop our guard? For now let’s just stay home, keep our hands clean and physically distance ourselves from others as much as possible.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

When low on Zzzzzs, You may Need Vitamin Bs

Sleep. I love sleep, but why do I find myself procrastinating at night to get to bed? Ever since I became a mother sleep has always been my number one struggle. When lack of good quality sleep occurs, the hormone cortisol rises to help keep us alert affecting our stress levels and our overall hormone levels. Sometimes I feel like I have been sleep-training myself along with my daughter. Having a sound machine, blackout curtains, a comfortable bedroom temperature, a bedtime routine and even ensuring enough physical activity during the day are all considerably helpful for a good night’s rest. However, what does one do when awake and in need of an extra energy boost to get through the day?

Our typical diet may be lacking in nutrients for proper cell function. Most people reach for caffeine, but is that a nutrient? Coffee, tea, sodas, energy drinks or sport beverages tend to be high in caffeine and sugar. Is sugar a nutrient? In a situation where your body is experiencing stress, maybe from inadequate amounts of sleep, anxiety or lack of energy, I would recommend B vitamin rich foods. Are you eating enough whole grains, legumes, green leafy vegetables and quality protein? Higher doses may be needed to aid in prolonged stressful periods and that’s when I reach for my B complex vitamins.

There is an array of B vitamins that are vital for various activities in our cells. They are named with different numbers due to their time of discovery of functions in the body. For example, niacin the B3 vitamin is involved in the metabolism of glucose, the starting fuel for creating energy.  Another example is cobalamin the important B12 vitamin involved in the production of red blood cells that deliver our oxygen supply. B vitamins are vital for the overall health of our cells, the functioning of our nervous system and our metabolism including energy production. 

In the past, I was definitely deficient in one of the B vitamins because of my dry cracked lips in the corners of my mouth. I thought it was an allergy from my lip moisturizer, however my lips remained cracked even after I stopped using it. I remember learning about B vitamins and their deficiency signs and decided to start taking them again. My lips returned to normal! Ever since university life, my adrenals have been affected with stress and lack of good quality sleep. Even now after becoming a mother, I have learned that staying up late and sacrificing sleep is not worth it when it comes to my health.

It is recommended to take the entire group of B complex compacted in one capsule instead of consuming a specific vitamin individually which can mask a B vitamin deficiency. Don’t be alarmed when you begin taking these supplements that your urine is bright yellow in colour. Being water soluble the unabsorbed vitamins exit through your kidneys. Some may even have a vitamin B sensitivity when supplementing called a niacin flush. These supplements may be stimulating so it’s best to take them earlier during the day with your breakfast or lunch. Inside our colon some B vitamins are capable of being produced by our intestinal microbes, a good reason to maintain a healthy gut flora.

Processed foods such as white bread, pasta and instant cereals are all lacking in these important B vitamins that some come fortified synthetically. It’s best to eat a natural whole food diet. Nutritional yeast, brewer’s yeast, molasses and the earlier mentioned foods are all great B vitamin sources. If you are enduring extended stressful conditions, tackle stress management first. Make it a habit of having adequate good quality sleep, regular exercise and deep breathing sessions to help relieve stress. After ensuring a healthy diet, supplementation may still be needed to help the body function under stress. Speak with your professional health care provider to see if supplementation is required and for additional help with any underlying related stress issues.

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

Defensive Eating

Happy New Year! My family and I recently celebrated Chinese New Year at a Chinese restaurant. It was the first time I tried the Peking duck served with crepes. Of course I had to order my daughter’s favourite chow fun noodles. We also included garlic Chinese broccoli for some healthy greens in our dinner for eating defensively. Have you ever heard of defensive eating? There are certain foods known to protect your body from other foods that may be negatively affecting your health. Please let me explain by these examples below. 

Balance Blood Sugar Levels

The best nutritional way to maintain a balanced blood sugar level is by getting enough fiber in your diet. Preferably raw vegetables if your digestion agrees, however anything high in fiber will do like flax seeds, legumes or steel cut oats. Fiber cannot be fully digested slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Drinking fruit juice is a sure way to raise sugar levels in your blood since all the fiber from the fruit has been removed. Even eating whole fruits alone can spike your blood glucose. Try adding chia seeds to balance your blood sugar. These seeds are high in fiber and taste great with fruits or smoothies.

Neutralize carcinogens

Substances found in cruciferous vegetables such as indole-3-carbinols, sulforaphanes and other phytocompounds are known to help regulate genes and remove wastes from the body. Foods full of cancer-causing chemicals should be consumed along with these veggies. An example of this is when eating barbeque, any cooked food with black char on it is carcinogenic. Protect yourself by eating coleslaw with your ribs or adding sauerkraut on your hotdog. Cabbage in these foods contain many cancer fighting components. Other examples of cruciferous vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

Combat free radicals

Whether it’s oxidation from fried foods, tobacco smoke, lack of sleep or any other stressor, antioxidants found in foods are great for fighting against free radicals that cause damage to the body. From having a youthful appearance, keeping the mind sharp or strengthening the immune system, there are so many benefits from having a regular intake of antioxidants. Eat foods with vibrant colours to obtain their health advantages. Snacking on a handful of blackberries full of vitamin C with brazil nuts having a high selenium content is a delicious way to counterbalance the free radicals that came with your fried eggs at breakfast.

Reduce inflammation

Turmeric is one of the best foods known to calm inflammation showing up in different ways. Managing pain, skin flare ups or maintaining healthy arteries are all reasons to eat turmeric. Adding black pepper increases the uptake of its active component curcumin exponentially. Whether consuming turmeric in the root or spice form, try it in curries, teas or hiding it in your meals like I do.  I like sprinkling the spice in my eggs, potatoes and bone broth soups. Help offset the inflammatory effects of sugary, fatty and nightshade foods by incorporating turmeric in your diet.

We eat to give our body essential nutrients to grow, repair and function in life not just to satisfy our hunger. When giving into our cravings that may not be so beneficial to our health, it’s best to practice eating defensively. This way you can still enjoy various cuisines while giving your body the tools it needs to cope with any of their unwanted effects. This new year make small steps to adding these defensive foods into your diet. Your body will thank you years later! 

Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant

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