TouchStone Health Photo
TouchStone Health Photo

Gut Friendly Fiber – Why We Don’t Get Enough!

Posted on: November 11th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

by Jill Jackson, Certified Nutritional Practitioner, NNCP

Did you know that only 5% of US citizens reach their recommended daily fiber intake? That leaves 95% of the population in a fiber deficiency! I am sure Canadians would be the runner up in this shocking statistic. Our bodies are meant to consume fiber, anywhere between 25-50 grams daily depending on our gender, age, and level of health. Let’s consider what fiber is and why we may not be consuming enough.

Fiber has never really had a definition that has been accepted universally. Some health practitioners use the words dietary fiber, crude fiber, or even roughage interchangeably. Here is what we do know about fiber. Fiber is a combination of plant polysaccharides that are resistant to digestion combined with lignins (a class of organic polymers that help make up plant walls/structure). Simply put, fiber is exclusively a plant nutrient meaning it cannot be found in animal products.

I believe fiber consumption has decreased for two main reasons. One, low fiber diets are highly popular without many realizing it! Low-carbohydrate diets have gained popularity dating back to the 1960’s, their rules often removing potentially healthy and high fiber grains. After the low-carb craze, emerged the keto diet, even worse when it comes to fiber intake! No matter what diet is being consumed, if there is low intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, there will be low intake of fiber. However, we know a low carb diet cannot be the issue alone because for many Americans and Canadians 40-60% of their diet is carbohydrate, just not the right kind, leading us into my second fiber related concern. Westernized society relies heavily on packaged and fast foods. The processing and milling of these foods can remove most, if not all of it’s fiber content. In some African countries where there is the least amount of food processing globally and only small amounts of animal products consumed, daily fiber intake can reach 75-100 grams! A contrast to the mere 10-15 grams Americans consume daily. But why should we care about our fiber intake?


Low fiber diets are are associated with chronic constipation, gastrointestinal disorders, colon cancers, diverticulitis, high cholesterol levels and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Fiber is best known to bulk our stool and increase (or slow down) our transit time leading to healthy bowel movements, but it does so much more than that! As our understanding of fiber increases, we have learned that fiber also appears to nourish our gut microbiome (the ecosystem found within our intestines). After a chain of reactions within the gut, fiber acts as a food source for our
“good” gut bacteria contributing to an overall healthier gut microbiome. Fiber also helps with weight management and blood sugar management, the two going hand in hand. Fiber has seen to help draw out toxins and parasites within the body as well. It is a myth that all fiber does is help us use the washroom, it has many roles!

The final question you may be left with, how do I increase my fiber? The easiest way to answer this is through a quote from one of my favorite nutritional textbooks it says “Whenever we increase out intake of plants in comparison to animal foods, we are increasing our fiber intake” – Staying Healthy With Nutrition by Elson M. Haas, MD. It really is simple, we must increase consumption of plants whether it be legumes such as split peas or chickpeas, whole grains like oats and quinoa or fruits and vegetables like pears, avocados, berries, broccoli, or collard greens. (Not to forget nuts and seeds like flax, chia, and pistachios!) When considering your carbohydrate consumption go for the whole grains as opposed to white, processed breads and foods. With a little forethought fiber consumption can be easy!

I hope this blog post has helped you to gain a deeper understanding of how easily fiber consumption can be missed as well as how easy of a problem it is to fix! I challenge you to make an effort to boost your fiber intake this week and I am sure you will reap the benefits of increased energy levels, digestive wellness, and overall stronger vitality.

In Wellness,
Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

Eating the Rainbow: why is it important?

Posted on: October 21st, 2021 by TouchStone Health

by Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

Eating a wide variety of colours is the best way to ensure that you are receiving the most vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants possible from your food, ensuring optimal health. I suggest having 2-3 different coloured fruits and vegetables with each meal. Different colours hold different important nutrients. The following are the
colours of the different rainbow in association with their health benefits.

RED FOODS Red foods contain the antioxidant lycopene, a strong protectant against cancers. It also helps to prevent diabetes, heart disease and lung disease. Some examples of red foods are pomegranates, cherries, red bell peppers, tomatoes, strawberries, red apples, and red chili peppers.

ORANGE FOODS Orange foods containplenty of vitamin C and beta-carotene. In the body, beta-carotene converts to vitamin A. This is especially important for our eye health, and immune function. Examples of orange foods are carrots, tangerines and oranges, mangoes, pumpkin, and squash.

YELLOW FOODS Yellow foods are also very high in vitamin C. Vitamin C assists our immune function as mentioned above but it also plays an important role in detoxification, improving circulation, speeding up wound healing and protecting against cancers. Brighten up your bowl with yellow foods such as pineapple, yellow bell peppers, lemons, and spaghetti squash.

GREEN FOODS Green foods are rich in thenatural chemicals sulforaphane, isocyanate and indoles which inhibit the action of carcinogens. Green foods are also often high in fiber and folate which will improve digestion. Vitamin K which is essential for bone and blood health is also highly present in green foods. The options for green foods
are almost endless, but here are a few suggestions: kale, avocado, cucumbers, edamame, broccoli, grapes, kiwi, spinach, and zucchini.

PURPLE AND BLUE FOODS Blue and purple foods contain antioxidants called anthocyanins important for delaying age related disease and helping to improve memory. Anthocyanins also prevent damage to cells, preventing cancers. Blue and purple foods include blueberries, blackberries, purple cabbage, prunes, eggplant, purple potatoes, grapes, and plums.

BROWN FOODS Brown foods play a big role in preventing heart disease. They contain vitamin B, folate and are often high in fiber. Brown foods do not mean large pieces of meat. When discussing brown foods, we are referring to plant-based foods such as legumes, chickpeas, and lentils.

Consuming the rainbow is an easy step towards vitality and disease and cancer prevention! Take your health into your hands when deciding what foods will go on your plate!


Warming Vegan Lentil Dahl

Posted on: September 23rd, 2021 by Anna Totzke

by Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP 

Hello friends! I bring to you the perfect curried fall recipe. This recipe is easy to make and is vegan, gluten-free, and sugar free. It also works great for meal prepping and will freeze nicely! I hope you give it a try. 

Serves: 6-8 Prep time: 15 mins

Cook time: 20-25 mins Total time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini 
  • 1 large red bell pepper 
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 3/4 cup of dried red lentils 
  • 1 cup of full fat coconut milk 
  • 850 ml of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp of fresh minced or grated ginger 
  • 1 1/2 tbsp of curry powder 
  • 1/2 tbsp turmeric 
  • 1/2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 small onion 
  • 1 large carrot 

Directions:

Begin by chopping all vegetables (bell pepper, carrot, zucchini and onion) into very small cubes. 

In a large pot or deep pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil (or oil of your choice) over medium heat and add in onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-5 minutes or until onion begins to go translucent. 

Add in the rest of the vegetables and remaining oil and cook for another 3-5 minutes till vegetables begin to lightly soften. 

After rinsing your lentils, add them to your pot along with your vegetable broth. Add in all spices (you can adjust the amounts to your preferred taste) and add coconut milk. Mix everything together well. Bring to a simmer and allow mixture to cook for another 10-12 minutes, stir frequently to prevent the bottom burning. (Lentils should become nice and soft.)

Enjoy warm on its own or served with rice and naan bread! 

Preparing for Labour with Acupuncture

Posted on: September 3rd, 2021 by Anna Totzke

Anna Totzke, Registered Acupuncturist

Research shows that Pre-Birth Acupuncture Treatments have many positive effects including:

-A shorter duration of labour

-35% reduction in medical inductions

-32% lower cesarean rates

-31% reduction in requests for epidural

-An overall increase in natural vaginal deliveries

For Research: https://touchstonehealth.ca/…/acupuncture-in-pregnancy/

Creatively Cooking Canadian

Posted on: July 26th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

What Eating Local Has to Offer

By Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

As a passionate nutritionist eager to take on a challenge, I decided to poke my nose into the ever-rising interest of local cooking.

At first like many, I assumed the term “locally cooked” was best left as selling-point for expensive restaurants used to charge staggering amounts for a tiny plate of food. However, after some research I realized it can be done easily from the comfort of your own kitchen and at a reasonable price.

Currently “Local Food” is defined as food sold that is grown or made within your residing province or food sold across provincial borders within 50km of the originating province or territory.

Why Cook Local?

As a research project, I compared two recipes. One a non-local favorite recipe I frequently made and the other a locally sourced recipe. I found the manufacturers address or the farm address for all the called for ingredients in both recipes. I calculated the mileage that the food had to travel to get to my plate in my hometown of Waterloo Ontario. Upon comparison I was shocked! The ingredients of the non-local recipe had to travel from all over the world some 5,008 miles, whereas the local recipe had logged only 31.68 miles of travel. What does this mean?

For starters, cooking local ensures the freshest and most nutrient dense food. Fruits and vegetables that must travel large distances to reach your grocery store are often picked prematurely to guarantee they do not go bad throughout the duration of travel. Sadly, this causes nutrient value loss. The foods do not contain as high amounts of vitamin and minerals as they would if the produce were allowed to naturally ripen. Local fruits and vegetables can be picked at the peak of their freshness and ripeness, ready to be farm to fork within hours. You really are paying for top quality food when you buy local!

Local cooking also supports local businesses and farms. In 1931, 31.7% of the Canadian population lived Farms that were their livelihoods. As of 2006 only 2.2% of the Canadian population lived on a farm. This means the ratio of farmers went from 1 in every 3 rd person to 1 in every 46. Farms that mass produce often can run locals out of a job but eating local does the opposite, supports them and their families while also promoting biodiversity and sustainability.

Overall, it is considerably better for your health and the health of the environment.

Where to Look to Shop Local?

If you are located in Canada near the country, a quick drive to farm territory might be a great place to start. Where I am from, local produce stands can be found at the entrance of most farm driveways. A majority of the stands work via the honour system and the children of the farmers often love to be a part of creating the sales signs and seeing you purchase. This can be an inexpensive way to support local.

Another option would be choosing a grocery store that opts to carry some local products or finding a farmers’ market. Grocery stores will often distinguish what products are locally made, sometimes down to the exact farm, and farmers markets will be sure to do this as well.

I am confident you will thank yourself when cooking with local Canadian foods. Not only will your tastebuds be exploding with Canadian flavours, but the farmers will be tipping their hats to you in genuine appreciation.

564-572 Weber Street North, Unit 3A
Waterloo, Ontario
N2L5C6