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Archive for the ‘digestive health’ Category

What is the Gut Microbiome?

Posted on: July 31st, 2020 by TouchStone Health

Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N.

The gut microbiome is a collection of good and bad bacteria that live in our digestive system with the majority being in our large intestines. There are actually more bacteria then there are cells in our body, approximately 10 bacteria for every 1 cell! They help us digest the food we eat, modulate our immune system, make vitamins such as vitamin K, B12, riboflavin and thiamine. Our gut microbiome affects our weight, our brain and when out of balance, is associated with autoimmune diseases such as Crohns, SLE, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, MS, fibromyalgia, etc. They even have an effect on our gene expression and activity. There are only a few of the things that the gut microbiome effectsIt is a super powerful part of us that we can have a positive effect on with some simple lifestyle, diet and mindset modifications.

Symptoms of Dysbiosis? (Unbalanced Gut Microbiome)

There are a wide range of symptoms since our gut is connected to our entire body. These symptoms can show up in our brains, nervous system and even our skin! Some symptoms include;

  • Bloating
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Brain Fog
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Upset Stomach
  • Gas
  • Acne
  • Eczema
  • Sore Joints
  • Allergies; environment or food

How can we Positively Change our Gut Microbiome?

We can begin to positively impact our gut microbiome which in turn affects our health on so many different levels.

  • Increase Fiber and Decrease Refined Sugar

We can do this by eating whole foods with fiber and reducing our consumption of refined sugar. Fiber is our friend and nothing to be scared of. It helps regulate our bowel movements and feeds our good bacteria. Vegetables, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of fiber! Sugar has a negative effect on our gut microbiome and the more processed and refined sugar we eat the more and more depleted and out of balance it gets. Switching to all natural sweeteners such as real maple syrup, raw & local honey, coconut sugar or date sugar will help to minimize the negative effects. This also means being aware of what you are consuming and how much sugar it has in it. Sugar is sneaky and can be found in things you would never think of like Windsor Iodized Salt! Sugar is the third ingredient in our table salt. Getting rid of the sneaky exposures to sugar will help you maintain a healthy gut microbiome balance. Anything you eat that has an ingredient list you should read the ingredient list and review it to make sure you want to be putting that into your body.

  • Daily Movement

Movement and exercise is linked to having beneficial effects on our gut microbiome. Studies are showing the connection between daily movement having an anti-inflammatory effect and balancing the gut microbiome. Any movement is better than no movement. Find what you love and what feels good to your body. It can be walking, yoga, biking, working out, running, jogging or any sport! If you find movement that you enjoy you will want to keep doing it every day!1.

  • Mindset

Our bodies and all of our cells are listening to what we are thinking and saying. Positive affirmations and gratitude are a wonderful way to help shape your gut microbiome. We live in a society that has a lot of harsh and strict judgements on what beauty is, leaving many people feeling less than beautiful. These beauty constructs are simply not ture and you need to begin to believe it for yourself and begin to love your body. This also incorporates believing your body can heal. Our bodies want to be in balance, it is called homeostasis. Our bodies want to heal and repair and be vibrant and in balance. Given the right conditions our bodies will begin to restore this balance!

I hope you have learned something about your gut microbiome! Please feel free to reach out to share your experience or stories with me!

Citation

Cook MD, Allen JM, Pence BD, et al. Exercise and gut immune function: evidence of alterations in colon immune cell homeostasis and microbiome characteristics with exercise training. Immunol Cell Biol. 2016;94(2):158-163. doi:10.1038/icb.2015.108

The Power of Gratitude!

Posted on: July 25th, 2020 by TouchStone Health

Written by: Alexandria Muirhead, R.H.N.

I’m sure you’ve all heard of gratitude but have you heard of a daily gratitude practice?

As a Holistic Nutritionist, I consider all aspects of a person when helping them achieve their health and wellness goals, including mindset! A daily gratitude practice has such a positive impact on your emotional health and physical health!

Our minds are so powerful and science has proven this with the “placebo” effect and the “nocebo” effect. The placebo effect is when someone gets the same positive benefits from taking a sugar pill as the people who are taking the medication. This is just once example. The nocebo effect is the same premise but the opposite. It is when you believe something is causing harm or making you sick, it will actually make you sick and harm you! Our minds are so fascinating and these two effects show us that our mind is extremely powerful! The good news… we are in complete control of our minds and thoughts! With some easy lifestyle changes you can begin to change the way you feel!

A study conducted in June 2020 looked at research data on gratitude and the resulting effect on a person’s physical health markers. The results showed that in the majority of the studies a person experienced sleep quality improvements when incorporating gratitude. Also, there were improvements in blood pressure, blood sugar, asthma and eating habits.1.

What is a Daily Gratitude Practice?

This is something super simple that you can do at any point of the day but the morning or evening are the two best times! The best way for a daily gratitude practice to have an impact and become part of your life is to make it into a routine and a habit.There are two main methods of a gratitude practice. The first is writing down 3 things you are grateful for and the second is telling someone 3 things you are grateful for. This is an easy practice that takes no more than 2 minutes.

My husband and I have a daily gratitude practice and it has been such an awesome addition to our health routine. Every morning on our walk with our dog, we share 3 things we are grateful for with each other. This usually leads to us sharing stories or talking about these things which further reinforce our gratitude for them. I love to start my day with our gratitude practice. I feel like it sets us up for a really wonderful day of work, errands, family time, friend time or whatever else we have on the go for that day!

How to Begin a Daily Gratitude Practice

Step 1: Choose the morning or the evening

Step 2: Choose whether you want to share it out loud or write it down

Step 3: Set a reminder in your phone to help remind you for the first few days until it becomes second nature!

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Citation

  1. Boggiss AL, Consedine NS, Brenton-Peters JM, Hofman PL, Serlachius AS. A systematic review of gratitude interventions: Effects on physical health and health behaviors. J Psychosom Res. 2020;135:110165. doi:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2020.110165

My Favourite Gluten Free Recipes to help you create your Menu

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by TouchStone Health

Going Gluten-free (GF) can be intimidating and many people don’t know where to start.  Whether you’re trying it out to see how you feel, needing to do so for health reasons or trying to cook/bake for someone who is GF…it can feel overwhelming.

Here is a list of some tried and true recipe ideas that I have enjoyed.  If you know me, you know I’m not a great cook…I don’t enjoy spending a lot of time in the kitchen and the last thing I want is needing to go to various stores to get different ingredients.  These recipes are generally – easy to make and you can buy most ingredients from either your local grocery store (Zehrs health section is usually the best match for me) and Bulk Barn.

See what you think and I hope these recipe ideas taste great for you too. (And most of these recipes are dairy free as well or allow for dairy-free substitutions.)

Breakfast Ideas

Grain-free Berry Granola – Healthful Pursuit

Banana Oat Blender Pancakes – Kitchen Treaty

Coconut Flour Chocolate Crepes – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Hash – Healthful Pursuit

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal – Oh She Glows

Soft and Chewy Sugar Free Granola Bars – Oh She Glows

Almond Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Quinoa Granola – Comfy Belly

Blueberry Syrup – Nourishing Meals

Gluten Free Raspberry Scones – The Roasted Root

Mochaccino Chia Breakfast Pudding – Joyous Health

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread – My New Roots

SMOOTHIES – here are Greatist’s 54 Top Smoothie Recipes

SMOOTHIE BOWLS – here are Greatist’s Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes  and some more that are Dairy Free Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Lunch Ideas

Spiralized Thai Salad Recipe – Against All Grain

Sea Salt Rosemary Zucchini Chips – Joyous Health

 My Favourite Detox Salad – Eat Yourself Skinny

Veggie Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce – Avocado Pesto

Soft Gluten Free Sandwich Bread – A Little Insanity

10 Minute Grain Free Paleo Bread – Shiny Happy Food

Dinner Ideas

Coconut Cauliflower Rice – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl – Minimalist Baker 

Spicy Buddha Bowl – Crazy Vegan Kitchen

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust – Blissful Basil

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Detoxinista

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto- Eat Yourself Skinny

Curried Cauliflower Soup – Cookie and Kate

Dessert Ideas

Black Bean Chia Brownies – Joyous Health

One Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Oh She Glows

Fudge-tastic Brownies – Healthful Pursuit

Grain-free and Vegan Flourless Fudge Cookies – Healthful Pursuit

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake – Comfy Belly

Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Against All Grain

Fudgy Chocolate Tarts – Against All Grain

Banana Bread – Comfy Belly

Flourless Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins – Running with Spoons

Flourless Banana Bread Muffins – Running with Spoons

Fudgy Paleo Beetroot Brownies – The Roasted Root

Chocolate Avocado Pudding – Pop Sugar

Cassava Banana Bread – Paleo Running Momma

Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips Paleo – Paleo Running Momma

Sweet Potato Brownies – Paleo OMG

Snacks

Chocolate Gelatin Bars – The Healthy You Project

Crunch Raw Protein Balls – The Healthy Family and Home

Homemade Gummy Candies – Healthful Pursuit – Use a juice of your choice

Date Energy Balls – Detoxinista

Mint Chocolate Truffle Bites – A Virtual Vegan

Classic Almond and Cacao Energy Balls – Deliciously Ella

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

JUICING vs. BLENDING: The Juicy Facts on Which is Better for your Health

Posted on: March 20th, 2014 by TouchStone Health

Written by: Dr. Melanie Reidl, ND

You’ve probably heard about the ongoing dual between the benefits of juicing versus blending your drinks.Both of these stellar kitchen habits have their benefits, but is one really better than the other? Will you feel better drinking a smoothie over a juice, or the other way around? It’s a confusing topic, so today I’d like to provide you with the facts so that you make the best choice for your health!

Blending is the act of pureeing whole foods (ex. bananas and hemp seeds) with liquids (ie. almond milk and water), thereby retaining all portions of the initial ingredients. Nothing is discarded, the fiber is left in the drink, and your finished product can be a thick or thin consistency.

Juicing, on the other hand, separates the fiber from the liquid in fruits and vegetables by processing them through a juicing machine. What’s left over (and usually discarded) is the pulp of your produce, and you’re left with a nutrient-rich, concentrated vegetable/fruit drink. So as you can see, both blending and juicing are delicious forms of liquid nutrition.

In order to create these nutrition powerhouse beverages, you’ll need to invest in a good blender or juicer. I’ve done some research on the pros and cons of each option to make your purchasing decision a bit easier.

Blenders come in all shapes, sizes, powers and prices. I can speak from experience that investing in a good blender that does the job right the first time is a GREAT decision. Blenders range from $99 basic Magic Bullets, to $500 Vitamix high powered blenders. Basically, the more you spend, the greater capabilities and power your blender will have. I HIGHLY recommend the top of the line Vitamix if you’re looking for a kitchen appliance upgrade. This highly powered machine can blend hard produce like apples and beets into a liquid juice, almonds into almond flour or almond butter, or act like a food processor for bean dips and homemade salad dressings. I promise you won’t regret buying a Vitamix!

Smoothies are the most common use for blenders, since they are a quick, nutrient-rich, and refreshing meal or snack at any time of the day. Your options for smoothie ingredients are virtually endless, and you can create a fully balanced meal in one drink. A smoothie is also easily digested in the body since it has already been broken down into smaller parts, and the nutrients are also readily absorbed. I recommend keeping your smoothies on the ‘green side’ by loading them up with veggies first, and then adding in some fruit for sweetness. This is a wonderfully simple way to ensure that you’re getting enough greens into your diet each day.

Juicing machines can run you anywhere from $50 to $500 dollars. A cheaper juicer will likely operate with centrifugal force and the teeth will shred the ingredients through a fine mesh filter. These juicers do not work well for leafy greens, and are best suited for hard or juicy produce such as cucumbers and apples. A centrifugal juicer operates with more power and tends to heat things up as they pass through, causing some destruction of natural enzymes in your foods. The alternative is a masticating juicer, which slowly crushes and squeezes more liquid out of your ingredients. This type of juicer is generally a bit more expensive, but it is capable of juicing your greens such as kale and wheatgrass. Because this type of juicer works at a slower speed and does not heat the produce, the enzymes stay intact and the juice will stay fresh for longer.

There’s no doubt that juicing is a wonderful means to consuming more fruits and vegetables in a day, especially if you can afford it. I generally recommend that you keep your juices at 70% vegetables and 30% fruits so as not to spike your blood sugar from all of the natural sugars. Pure fruit juices should be avoided as they can pack in enough carbs and sugars for an entire day. It is also important to choose organic produce if finances permit, otherwise you are drinking up a whole lot of conventional pesticide-laden food.

So now for the verdict; is juicing or blending a better choice as part of a healthy lifestyle?

The answer is both. Different habits seem to work better for different people, and a machine that collects dust is no good in any diet. The optimal choice comes down to which method you will be able to incorporate into your lifestyle, and which one you’ll enjoy drinking on a day to day basis. If your blender makes a mean kale, banana and avocado protein smoothie – get blending!  And if your juicer makes a potent immune elixir of ginger, pear and lemon – keep on pressing!

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