FIT FOR LIFE- IT TAKES GUTS

immune health

Seventy percent of your body’s immune system lies in the most unlikely of places- your gut.  The 5-8 POUNDS of bacteria in your gut acts as a mainline defense mechanism for your body- each bacterium a soldier in the fight.  Keeping your gut healthy by ensuring you have more good bacteria than bad, is crucial to keeping the rest of you healthy.

There are a five keys to a healthy gut…

  1.  Probiotics- Probiotics are your good (pro-) bacteria (-biotic).  Your gut already has Fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, etc are great natural sources.  There are many probiotic supplements that will support gut health, too.  Align and Culturelle are my favorite brands in America.  (I will update this post once I’ve sourced a go-to for my UK friends.)  Be sure to get a dose of probiotics every day.
  2. Prebiotics- Another interesting fact- those little bacterial soldiers are vegetarians.  They feast on the fiber that travels through.  This is just another reason why it is so important to have half your plate veggies and fruits.
  3. Cut down on sugars.  Bad bacteria have a raging sweet tooth.  Every time you indulge- whether it’s on Oreos, fruit juice, biscuits, or any other over-processed carbohydrate, you are giving your bad bacteria a feed.  In healthy individuals can stand to do this more often than those prone to stomach issues.  If you find yourself with digestive issues, do yourself a favor and tame your sweet tooth.
  4. Take time with your meals- Digestion starts in your mouth with the enzymes in your saliva.  Put a small piece of bread in your mouth- don’t chew.  Notice how the taste of the bread gets sweeter the longer it’s in there?  That’s because the amylase in your saliva is breaking down the complex carbohydrates into simple sugars.  Will you hate me if I insert a chirpy “Science is fun!” here?
  5. Stop grazing.  Your gut has a cleansing wave go through every 90-120 minutes, but only when fasting.  If you snack often, you won’t allow your body the opportunity to initiate the cleansing wave.  This can contribute to bloating, gas build up, and eventually overgrowth of “bad” bacteria in those with sensitive tummies.
  6.  Sleep.  If you are one of those that runs on 5 hours of sleep a night because you are so busy- stop it.  Sleep is not for wimps.  It is essential to keep you healthy so you can keep going.  If it makes you feel any better, sleep is an active event.  This is when your body does most of it’s restoration and repair.  Get at least 7 hours.
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FIT FOR LIFE- CUT THE SUGAR

cut-the-sugar

 

For all those who were at Fit for Life, I thought doing a follow-up post might be a helpful supplement to the 5 minutes I get with you on Thursday nights.  For last week’s talk, check out this post from last week’s talk.

FIT FOR LIFE RECAP

When you read a food label, 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. For some common UK foods, this is what it can look like…

 

Grams of sugar

Teaspoons of sugar

Caramel square 28  7
Buttons 17  4
Haribo 12  3
Rice Krispie Treat 9  2
Sweet Chili Sauce 20  5
Crunchie 24  6
Chocolate Digestive 5  1
Nature Valley Apple Crisp Bars 12  3
Special K 4  1
Coco Pops 12  3
KitKat 12  3
Baked beans 9  2

 

And be aware that even “healthy” snacks can contain a ton of sugar.  These are sugar’s more discrete aliases:  Corn sweetener • Corn syrup • Dextrose • Fructose • Sucrose • Glucose • High-fructose corn syrup • Invert sugar • Lactose • Maltose • Malt syrup • Raw sugar • Cane crystals • Cane sugar • Fruit juice concentrates • Evaporated cane juice

Other surprising foods with hidden sugars:  salad dressings, jarred tomato sauces, baked beans, bbq sauces and marinades, and of course- the beloved sweet chili sauce.

WHY CUT SUGAR?

When you eat sugar, your blood sugars shoot up (I know you didn’t have to read a blog post to hear that part, but wait for it…) and along with it your energy and mood shoots up as well.  You are on a sugar-driven serotonin high.  The problem is there is usually an equally sharp crash in your blood sugars, leading you to seek out more sugar to bring your mood and energy back up.  As this cycle continues, you can be left feeling more sluggish and low.

Also, sugar leads to inflammation.  When you eat sugar occasionally, you experience a minor inflammatory blip that, with an otherwise healthy diet, is something your body can handle easily.  When you indulge frequently, however, this blip, blip, blip turns into chronic (or long-lasting) inflammation that can overwhelm your body’s defenses and contribute to the development of diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.  Eek is right.

STOPPING THE CRAVINGS

I’ve already written a post listing 5 strategies to cut sugar cravings.  Let me add to that by giving you a practical tool to help you think through a nutritious, blood-sugar stabilizing snack.

fruit/vegetable + protein/healthy fat = perfect snack

The fruit and vegetable part of the equation is a no brainer.  Good proteins & healthy fats include…

  • avocado/guacamole
  • hummus
  • boiled egg
  • nuts
  • nut butter
  • tahini sauce (try this)

When you need a sweet treat, you can’t get any better than fruit (one of my favorites is frozen blueberries with a splash of oat milk.  Yes, you will get blue teeth.), but dark chocolate is great, too.  The darker the better.  When you go for 70% dark or higher, it only takes a small square to give you your fix.  The darker the chocolate, the more the antioxidants as well.

THE TRUTH OF IT

I hate to say it, but you are going to feel awful when you first cut sugar.  You will likely be bugged at life and slightly obsessing over sweets. Sorry, champ.  This WILL go away after 3-5 days (not research based, but from personal and client’s experiences), at which point you will feel GREAT from stabilized mood and energy levels.  That initial hump, though, is the pits.  Fight through, though.  It’s worth it.

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FIT FOR LIFE- FILL YOUR PLATE

fresh

For all those who were at Fit for Life, I thought doing a follow-up post might be a helpful supplement to the 5 minutes I get with you on Thursday nights.  For an overview of healthy eating, read this article.

Thursday night I emphasized eating more vegetables.  We really only had time to see what you normally eat vs what your plate should actually look like,which is this…

Healthy Plate

 

But here is a look at what setting up your plate this way does for you…

4 compelling reasons you should eat more vegetables

1- To keep your gut healthy

A healthy gut isn’t just important for bathroom-related reasons.  Did you know that 70% of your immune system is in your GUT?  I know, right?!  One of the essentials of a healthy gut is maintaining good bacteria.  The good bacteria’s favorite food?  Fiber.  Whether it comes from vegetables or fruit or whole grains, your gut will be it’s healthiest when it gets the fiber it needs.  Your target is 25-30 grams a day, but no need to keep tally of your fiber grams if you are eating vegetables for half of your lunch and dinner.

2-  To keep your heart healthy

Fiber not only feeds your good bacteria, but it keeps your cholesterol where it should be as well.  Go natural, though- foods fortified with fiber typically don’t do you much good.  Fiber also helps your body fight against inflammation which can cause damage to your blood vessels and muscle tissue (read that: your heart).

3- To cut down on calories without cutting down on food.

Anyone who has tried to lose weight knows that the second you have to start cutting back on food is the second you can’t stop thinking about food. Vegetables are naturally nutrient dense, but low in calories.  It’s a win-win situation.  Don’t go overboard, though, in efforts to cut your calories.  Starchy carbs and fruits keep your energy levels up throughout the day.  They also prevent bouts of hanger resulting from low blood sugars.  Protein is necessary to keep you full between meals, as well as for a proper functioning body.  Everything from healthy skin to your body’s detoxification systems rely on protein.  A quarter of your plate each for carbs and protein should give you what you need.

4-  To prevent lots of scary stuff.

The nutrition label focuses a lot on carbs, proteins, and fats, but the truth is, those are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to nutrients your body needs to function properly.  Vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals are crucial.  Think of all the things that can go wrong when you don’t get enough…  low Ca? Osteoporosis, low Vitamin D? Depression, low iron? weakness/fatigue, low Vitamin C? Inability to heal, scurvy, low Vitamin A?  loss of eyesight.  Low on phytonutrients?  More vulnerable to illness  and inflammation.
In short- EAT YER GREENS!  Veggies should be half of what you eat at lunch AND dinner.  If you can hit that target, the rest will usually fall into place.  

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Chipotle Grilled Peach Flatbread

Chipotle Grilled Peach Flatbread

Smoky, spicy, sweet, filling- but light all at the same time.  This chipotle grilled peach flatbread is quick and simple, but still looks fancy pants.  It is inspired by a flatbread from Los Angeles that I gave a resounding kick in the pants with the chipotle vinaigrette.  I like spice, so there is quite a bit of adobo sauce in the recipe.  Feel free to adjust up or down depending on your own preference.

Chipotle Grilled Peach Flatbread

Chipotle Grilled Peach Flatbread

2

Take advantage of the short season of stone fruits and leftover rotisserie chicken with this flatbread.

15 minTotal Time

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Ingredients

  • 2 store bought flatbreads or naan (sub gluten free if needed)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 peaches
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 T adobo sauce (from canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
  • pinch sugar
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • leftover rotisserie chicken
  • 2 T chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Soak the red onion in a small bowl of water. By the time you have done the rest of the steps, the harsh bite of the onion should have mellowed perfectly.
  2. Heat grill over medium-low heat, brush with oil, and place peaches, flesh side down on grill. Grill for a couple minutes- peaches are ready when they are soft, but not mushy. (Of course, you can do this on an outside grill as well!)
  3. While peaches are grilling, mix together the chipotle vinaigrette ingredients- oil, vinegar, adobo sauce, and pinch of sugar (you can omit the sugar if you really wish, but a pinch isn't going to kill you, and it really helps the flavors marry). Also, cut back or increase chipotle sauce per your taste.
  4. Take flatbreads, top with mixed greens, rotisserie chicken, onion, peaches, cilantro, and drizzle chipotle vinaigrette.
Cuisine: main | Recipe Type: gluten-free, dairy-free
http://www.dishinitout.co.uk/chipotle-grilled-peach-flatbread/

Chipotle Grilled Peach Flatbread

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