Reduce Inflammation with These Key Foods

Inflammation is a hot topic among scientists and it’s not just for health headlines.

 

It’s a fact.

Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. is ongoing / lasts a long time).

Inflammation responses have been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.

In the last 20 years, we learned about how the inflammasome is activated through our innate immune response. Now, there are over 800 studies linking inflammasomes to cancer, and over 400 studies linking it to autoimmune disease, as well as heart disease and Parkinson’s disease.

 

But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from (info); why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it (action)?

 

Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

 

Why save the best for last? These delicious items make a major difference to our overall antioxidant levels and are perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods. Are they a sweet favourite of yours?

Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol”  are found in these small and delicious fruits.

In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.

(*Bonus – when you eat a lot of dark cherries, your melatonin levels go UP, which can result in better/deeper sleep!!)

 

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

 

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, and helps our body to deal with toxins.

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin, which helps with allergic type symptoms.

Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours.  Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in the recipe below.

 

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

 

Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats and damaged fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s”), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.

The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, especially omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax. When choosing oils, go for quality, minimal processing, and glass bottles.

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

 

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.

EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.

Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.

 

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric

 

Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?

Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.

 

This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.

 

 

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

 

Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy.

They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

 

Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!

 

Conclusion

 

There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.

You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”

 

 

Recipe : Anti-inflammatory Quinoa

(Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric)

 

Serves 2

¾ -1 cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 dash salt

½ tbsp turmeric

1 dash black pepper

2 cups broccoli, chopped

Prepare quinoa according to directions, or, in a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer on low until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).

Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.

Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.

Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.

 

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick. If you have flax oil or another omega oil at home, now is the time to pull it out – drizzle some on your finished dish!

 

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/13-anti-inflammatory-foods/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/

https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea/

https://authoritynutrition.com/matcha-green-tea/

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-cacao

http://leesaklich.com/foods-vs-supps/foods-vs-supplements-the-turmeric-edition/

 

Lowering Cortisol, the Stress Hormone

How to Naturally Lower Stress Hormone (Cortisol)

 

STRESS!!!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

 

And sometimes, even cute, inspirational quote squares don’t make it go away 😛

 

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response can sometimes go a little overboard. It’s supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve fought or flew. But, that doesn’t happen too much in our society – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

 

You’ve probably heard of the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.”  It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.

 

Did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

 

Do you experience any of these? Well, then read on because I have a list of foods, nutrients and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally!

 

Foods and nutrients to lower cortisol

 

Let’s start with one of the biggies that increase your cortisol… sugar.

Reducing the sugar we eat and drink can be a great step toward better health for our minds (and bodies).

 

High doses of caffeine also increase your cortisol levels.

If coffee makes you feel anxious and jittery, then cut back on the amount of caffeine you ingest.

 

 

Also, being dehydrated increases cortisol.

Make sure you’re drinking enough water every day, especially if you feel thirsty.

 

Eat a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods; this doesn’t just help reduce stress hormone, it helps all aspects of your health.

 

Lower your cortisol levels with tea and dark chocolate (not the sugary milky kind!). Have a bit to unwind.

 

Don’t forget your probiotics and prebiotics!

There is so much new research about the gut-mind connection, and how taking care of your friendly gut microbes is key! Make sure you’re eating probiotic rich fermented foods and getting a healthy dose of prebiotic fiber.

 

Lifestyle techniques to lower cortisol

It’s not just food, but there are things you can do with your time that can lower cortisol.

 

Reduce your stress with mindfulness.

Many studies show that reducing stressful thoughts and worry reduces cortisol. Try putting things in perspective, or asking, what might this be opening the door to?

 

Get enough exercise (but don’t overdo it).

While intense exercise increases cortisol levels temporarily, it can reduce overall cortisol levels. Just don’t be both intense AND lengthy. One, or the other is best for stress hormone management.

 

Get enough sleep!

Getting adequate sleep is way too underrated. Well, not by me, I have written a ton about it, lol. Sleep reduces cortisol levels and also helps improve your overall health in so many ways. Sleep!

 

Relax and have fun. Things like deep breathing, massages, and listening to relaxing music – actually any music YOU like – all reduce cortisol.

 

Be social and bust loneliness. Would you believe me if I told you that science has shown health risks from social isolation and loneliness? It’s true! Maintaining good relationships and spending time with people you like and who support you is key.

 

Conclusion

 

Too much of the stress hormone cortisol can have several negative impacts on your health. There are many proven ways to reduce levels of cortisol naturally.

 

In terms of foods and nutrients, have less sugar and caffeine. And have more water, fruit, tea, dark chocolate, probiotics, and prebiotics.

 

Lifestyle factors are huge when it comes to cortisol. To lower yours, exercise (but not too much), get more sleep, relax, and have more fun.

 

In the comments below, let me know your favourite ways to bust the stress hormone cortisol!

 

Recipe – high-fiber, prebiotic, de-stressing Chocolate Pudding

Serves 6

3 ripe avocados

¼ cup cacao powder (unsweetened)

¼ cup maple syrup

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 dash salt

 

Instructions

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Try adding a pinch of cinnamon or vanilla pod in place of extract for a deeper flavour.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/ways-to-lower-cortisol/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-cortisol

https://authoritynutrition.com/16-ways-relieve-stress-anxiety/

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/

http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/understanding-the-stress-response

Is my Poop Normal? And, what does Bristol have to do with POO?

 

14That quote above is a little overused, but I think the picture is funny.

They say that food can look like the body part it helps. You know, walnuts, full of omega 3s, look like brains, and kidney beans look like, you know. And those laxative little figs up there, look like our friend the poop emoji, don’t they? Yes, poop. I want to talk poop today.

If you are anything like me – same generation, same taste in music – you probably know and love yourself some 90s Bristol.

Is My Poop Normal?

Now, I don’t know if you share my sense of humour. But, if you are anything like me – same generation, same taste in music – you probably know and love yourself some 90s Bristol.

Some things that are famously from Bristol in the late 90s include Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, and loads of Drum n Bass artists like Roni Size. (Earlier, there was Bananarama. Later, there came Stanton Warriors.)

What you may not know is that 90s Bristol is the original home of grading our POO.

Yep, you heard right.

This topic may be uncomfortable, (or you might think it is Awesome!) but either way it’s so important for you to know what makes a healthy “poop” because it can tell you a lot about your digestion.

And if your digestion is off, this could be an indication that something else is going on that you need to address.

Yes, I’m serious! (And don’t you sometimes wonder anyway?)

 

You already know that your poop can reflect your physical, and sometimes even emotional, health.

I know some folks may get constipation or have diarrhea when they eat something that “doesn’t agree with” them or when they’re super-nervous about something.

 

And what about fibre and water? If you’re not getting enough, it’ll probably show in your poop. Actually fibre is good for some folks, not so good for others…but it is good for the all-important gut microbes.

Speaking of which, if they’re not happy, it’ll probably show in your poop.

💩

Here’s a trivia question for you:

Can you name the poo grading scale I was hinting at earlier?

 

Did you even know there is an “official” standard for poop? I mean a university-created chart! One that is used to help diagnose conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)?

And no, it is not the “Bristol Massive”, lol.

 

Meet the Bristol Stool Scale

The Bristol Stool Scale was created at the prestigious University of Bristol in the UK back in 1997.

You can see the chart here.

LINK: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale

Bristol stool chart. Image credit: Kylet, 2011
A lovely visual from Medical News Today

 

 

The scale breaks down poop by type. Seven different categories range from type 1 – which is very constipated, to type 7 – which is diarrhea.

We want to be middle of the road, thank you very much.

1 – Separate hard lumps

(What I affectionately call rabbit plops, aka very constipated).

2 – Lumpy and sausage-like

(Slightly constipated)

3 – Sausage shaped with cracks in the surface

(Normal)

 

4 – Smooth, soft sausage

(Normal – extra points if you can coil it like the emoji)

5 – Soft blobs with clear-cut edges

(May be lacking fibre)

6 – Mushy consistency with ragged edges

(Inflammation)

7 – Liquid consistency with no solid pieces

(Inflammation)

 

Poop Emoji

Other “poop” factors to consider

You probably guessed that the shapes described in the Bristol Stool Scale are not the only thing to consider for poop health.

 

  • Think about how often you go. At least once per day, up to 3 times per day is pretty good. Less than one, or more than three can mean there is something going on.
  • What about how hard you have to try to go? You want it to be as effortless as possible.
  • The consistency is more than just soft or hard, too. The degree of stickiness is informative. No one wants to wipe and wipe, to be frank. We want a smooth clean exit. When your little sphincter snaps shut, we want things to be basically clean, and for the wipe to be a formality.
  • And the colour? It should be brown from the bile that you need to break down the fats you ingest. If it is too dull (yellowish) or too sandy, that can be a sign of oxalate dumping. If it’s green after a day of massive veggies, or red after that large glass of beet juice, you’re just fine.
  • But if you see an abnormal colour, like red or even black, that you can’t explain based on what you ate or drank in the last day or two, you probably want to get that checked out.

 

What do you do when you have “imperfect” poo?

 

Well, the first thing to consider is how imperfect it is, and how often it is like that?

Once in a while, things aren’t going to be perfect, and that’s A-OK.

If you’re super-stressed, then try deep breathing, meditating, or having a warm bath. If you know you need to get more fiber or water, then try increasing that. If you haven’t had enough probiotic foods, then try getting more of them.

Probiotics are beneficial microbes often taken as dietary supplements, and in fermented and cultured foods to help make our digestion run smoothly, but really, probiotics can be found all around us. Probiotics are in and on us, in what we refer to as our microbiome, and they are in the forest air, the dirt at the farm, and in the water at the lake too.

The diversity of our microbiomes is diminishing with each passing generation, in large part because we interact so much less with forest air, farm dirt and lake water, and also because we kill off these great bugs every time we take medicine, eat fast food, and sanitize our living space. One of the main reasons probiotic supplement are so popular, is that this lack of diversity is connected to many modern ills, and we hope to mitigate that risk.

Luckily, it is not blind hope. A 2017 review of 45 major probiotic studies concluded that probiotic consumption amongst healthy adults “can improve immune, gastrointestinal, and female reproductive health”, and that probiotics do improve the concentration of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

 

Probiotics can even help us achieve BMs that resemble that cute, smiley poop emoji.

Well, those are not quite the words from the study, but you get the idea. Probiotics can digest some of the otherwise undigestible fibre in your sushi roll and foster a healthy gut environment, having a positive impact on several health outcomes.

 

So, we are clear that probiotics are legitimate stars, so be sure to get enough.

 

Oh, and don’t forget the two most basic pieces of nutrition advice:

  • First, eat a variety of nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods, and unless you have a very irritated gut, including a lot of fruits & veggies (and their “fibrous” skins, wherever possible). The fibre in these is not only helpful for pushing food through your gut, but they also feed those millions of amazing helpful critters that live there (your friendly gut microbes.)
  • The second piece of advice is to eat slowly, and mindfully, chewing thoroughly.

 

These are good habits for anyone and everyone, even when you have perfect poop!

Of course, long-term issues might require a more thorough review with a qualified health care practitioner. Don’t suffer from poop issues for too long before seeking help.

xox

Dana

 

 

Helpful recipe

Dairy-free super-simple Coconut Milk Probiotic Yogurt

Serves 6

2 cans full-fat coconut milk

probiotic yogourt starter, or try 2 probiotic capsules,

 

  1. Open the starter or probiotic capsules and empty contents into the blender. Blend with coconut milk.
  2. Transfer to a sanitized glass jar (make sure it’s not still hot – you don’t want those probiotics to die).
  3. Store it in a warm place, about 30 C, for 24-48 hours. If it’s not thick enough for you, you can let it ferment for another 24 hours.
  4. Add your favourite yogourt toppings, and store the rest for up to a week in the fridge.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Fermenting food is not an exact science, but some strains will turn milks into yogourt and some not so much. If this doesn’t work out as you’d like it to, try different brands of coconut milk and/or especially of probiotics.

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bristol_stool_scale

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/poop-health

 

 

How to Improve Gut Health

How to Improve Gut Health

Hippocrates was a bright guy. He said, “All disease begins in the gut.”

 

And while this may not be 100% true for every disease in every person, more and more research shows that our gut (digestive system, usually referring to the intestines, specifically) has a bigger role in many diseases than we used to think, which is why I’ve written about it so much. (If you like this post, you can go deep and read more about “the gut-brain axis” and microbes here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)

And if you’ve read my other posts, you know we’re not just talking about heartburn, constipation, diarrhea, IBS, IBD, etc. We’re talking about all kinds of issues like allergies, pain, mood disorders, and nutrient deficiencies.

There are a lot of reasons for this.

Our gut is the portal to the outside world. It’s almost like a tube shaped barrier passing through us, and which we interact with.

It is here where we take in disease-causing viruses, and helpful and unhelpful bacteria and parasites. We also take in nutrients (and toxins) through our gut. The nutrients we ingest and absorb are the building blocks of every single part of our body. We’re just learning the connections between our gut and other areas of our body, like our brain. Not just our gut per se; but, its friendly resident microbes too.

These guys also have newly discovered roles in our gut health and overall health, which is why I can’t stop talking about them.

Today though, I am starting back at the overview, much less technical for folks and also more practical.

So, let’s talk about the roles that our gut and our gut microbes play in our overall health. Then I’ll give you tips to improve your gut health naturally, with a recipe to boot 🙂.

 

Our gut’s role in our overall health

Our gut’s main role is as a barrier. To let things in that should get in, and to keep things out that should stay out. Think of “absorption” of nutrients as things we want to let in; and “elimination” of waste as things we want to pass right through and out.

This seemingly simple role is super-complex! And it can break down in so many places.

For one thing, our guts can “leak.” Yes, like a long tube with holes in it, it can allow things to get into our bloodstream/bodies that can wreak havoc (bacteria, undigested food, and toxins). You name it, whatever you put into your mouth can be absorbed by your gut and get into your bloodstream, even if it’s not supposed to. And when your gut wall gets irritated, it can “leak.” When this happens, you get inflammation, which is a starting point for many diseases that don’t seem linked to the gut but have a sneaky connection there.

 

FUN FACT: About 70% of our immune system lives in and around our gut.

 

A healthy gut is not a leaky gut. It maintains its barrier and shuttles things through to be eliminated. Maintaining a healthy gut barrier is the first pillar of gut health.

The second main part of your gut are the billions of friendly health-promoting microbes. Gut microbes help us digest and absorb nutrients. They fight off disease-causing microbes, make some vitamins for us, and have all kinds of other health benefits, like mental health benefits, reducing inflammation, and stabilizing blood sugar.

So, keeping your gut microbes happy is the second pillar of gut health!

 

How to improve gut health

There are a lot of natural ways to improve gut health. Let’s start with what to stop. It’s always best to eliminate the cause, so let’s stop giving our guts junk to deal with. How about eliminating added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol? Try that for a few weeks, and you may be amazed at how much better your body (and gut) feels.

You may also want to eliminate other gut irritants.

Dairy and grains contain common compounds known to irritate some people’s guts. Sometimes you only need to eliminate them for a few weeks to see if it makes a difference for your health.

By eating nutrient-dense foods, we allow ample macro- and micro-nutrients into our gut to maximize the chance for absorption. These nutrients help our bodies build and repair our gut, and every other body part as well. Some of the most nutrient-dense foods include dark leafy greens, colourful fruits and veggies, liver, and fish.

 

The second pillar of gut health is our microbes. By ingesting probiotic-rich foods and drinks, we can help to replenish our gut microbes. These are found in fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi. Make these a part of your daily diet.

Whole foods are full of gut-friendly fiber. Not eating enough fiber increases the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Fiber plays lots of roles in our gut, including whisking away some of those pesky bad bacteria and toxins so they can be eliminated. Fiber also helps to feed our friendly resident microbes that help us absorb and digest our food better. What foods have a lot of fiber? Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and even cacao.

And it’s easy to forget some of the simple, but key links there are between what we do with our bodies and how well they function, but don’t forget the uber-important lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, relaxing more and stressing less, and getting the right amount (and intensity) of exercise for you.

Conclusion

The function of your gut is key to your overall health. The microbiota-gut-brain axis is an active area of research now. There is a tonne of research digging into the vast and varied interconnections between our gut and our brain.

There are two pillars of gut health: maintaining a good barrier and maintaining healthy gut microbes.

There are a number of foods that we can feed our gut that can help our moods, and reducing our stress can have a significant impact on several digestive diseases.

The main ways to improve both of the main pillars naturally is by eating nutrient-dense whole foods. Foods filled with nutrition, probiotics, and fiber. And eliminating common gut irritants like added sugar, processed foods, and alcohol.

 

Recipe (Probiotic-rich): Fermented Carrots

12 Servings

 

1 L warm water
4 tsp salt
4 carrots, medium, peeled, sliced

1 clove garlic, smashed (optional)

Instructions

Make a brine by dissolving the salt in water.

Place carrots into a clean canning jar, like a Mason jar, packing them in tight. Make sure to leave about 1 inch of head space at the top.

Fill the jar with brine, making sure to cover the carrots completely. Weigh the carrots down to make sure they don’t float (you can use a “fermenting weight”).

Close the jar and let it sit at room temperature for 1-4 days. The longer it sits, the more the flavour will develop. Feel free to open and taste.

Serve & enjoy!

 

Tip: Use this as a side dish, or even a snack.

 

References for this and all the other posts on this topic:

Avetisyan, M., Schill, E. M., & Heuckeroth, R. O. (2015). Building a second brain in the bowel. The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 125(3), 899–907. http://doi.org/10.1172/JCI76307

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4362233/

Bonaz, B. (2013). Inflammatory bowel diseases: a dysfunction of brain-gut interactions? Minerva Gastroenterol Dietol, 59(3):241-59.

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23867945

Bonaz, B., Bazin, T., & Pellissier, S. (2018). The Vagus Nerve at the Interface of the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 12, 49. http://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00049

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808284/

Brzozowski, B., Mazur-Bialy, A., Pajdo, R., Kwiecien, S., Bilski, J., Zwolinska-Wcislo, M., … Brzozowski, T. (2016). Mechanisms by which Stress Affects the Experimental and Clinical Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Role of Brain-Gut Axis. Current Neuropharmacology, 14(8), 892–900. http://doi.org/10.2174/1570159X14666160404124127

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5333596/

Burokas, A., Moloney, R.D., Dinan, T.G. & Cryan, J.F. (2015). Microbiota regulation of the Mammalian gut-brain axis. Adv Appl Microbiol, 91:1-62. doi: 10.1016/bs.aambs.2015.02.001. LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25911232

Carabotti, M., Scirocco, A., Maselli, M. A., & Severi, C. (2015). The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Annals of Gastroenterology : Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology, 28(2), 203–209.

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4367209/

Dash, S. R., O’Neil, A., & Jacka, F. N. (2016). Diet and Common Mental Disorders: The Imperative to Translate Evidence into Action. Frontiers in Public Health, 4, 81. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2016.00081

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4850164/

Dinan, T. G., & Cryan, J. F. (2016). Mood by microbe: towards clinical translation. Genome Medicine, 8, 36. http://doi.org/10.1186/s13073-016-0292-1

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4822287/

Eriksson, E. M., Andrén, K. I., Kurlberg, G. K., & Eriksson, H. T. (2015). Aspects of the non-pharmacological treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. World Journal of Gastroenterology : WJG, 21(40), 11439–11449. http://doi.org/10.3748/wjg.v21.i40.11439

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4616219/

Furness, J.B., Callaghan, B.P., Rivera, L.R. & Cho, H.J. (2014). The enteric nervous system and gastrointestinal innervation: integrated local and central control. Adv Exp Med Biol, 817:39-71. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_3.
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Gao, J., Xu, K., Liu, H., Liu, G., Bai, M., Peng, C., … Yin, Y. (2018). Impact of the Gut Microbiota on Intestinal Immunity Mediated by Tryptophan Metabolism. Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 8, 13. http://doi.org/10.3389/fcimb.2018.00013

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5808205/

Jiang, H., Ling, Z., Zhang, Y., Mao, H., Ma, Z., Yin, Y., Wang, W., Tang, W., Tan, Z., Shi, J., Li, L. & Ruan, B. (2015). Altered fecal microbiota composition in patients with major depressive disorder. Brain Behav Immun, 48:186-94. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.03.016.

LINK:  https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0889159115001105?via%3Dihub

Johns Hopkins Medicine. The brain-gut connection. Accessed March 7, 2018.

LINK:  http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/healthy_aging/healthy_body/the-brain-gut-connection

https://authoritynutrition.com/does-all-disease-begin-in-the-gut/

Knight, R., Callewaert, C., Marotz, C., Hyde, E.R., Debelius, J.W., McDonald, D. & Sogin, M.L. (2017). The Microbiome and Human Biology. Annu Rev Genomics Hum Genet, 18:65-86. doi:10.1146/annurev-genom-083115-022438.

LINK:  http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/full/10.1146/annurev-genom-083115-022438?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub%3Dpubmed

LeBlanc, J. G., Chain, F., Martín, R., Bermúdez-Humarán, L. G., Courau, S., & Langella, P. (2017). Beneficial effects on host energy metabolism of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins produced by commensal and probiotic bacteria. Microbial Cell Factories, 16, 79. http://doi.org/10.1186/s12934-017-0691-z

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423028/

Lerner, A., Neidhöfer, S., & Matthias, T. (2017). The Gut Microbiome Feelings of the Brain: A Perspective for Non-Microbiologists. Microorganisms, 5(4), 66. http://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms5040066

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5748575/

Ma, N., Guo, P., Zhang, J., He, T., Kim, S. W., Zhang, G., & Ma, X. (2018). Nutrients Mediate Intestinal Bacteria–Mucosal Immune Crosstalk. Frontiers in Immunology, 9, 5. http://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.00005

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5787545/

McKean, J., Naug, H., Nikbakht, E., Amiet, B. & Colson, N. (2017). Probiotics and Subclinical Psychological Symptoms in Healthy Participants: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. J Altern Complement Med, 23(4):249-258. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0023.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27841940

Opie, R.S., O’Neil, A., Itsiopoulos, C. & Jacka, F.N. (2015). The impact of whole-of-diet interventions on depression and anxiety: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Public Health Nutr, 18(11):2074-93. doi: 10.1017/S1368980014002614.

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25465596/

Pellissier, S. & Bonaz, B. (2017). The Place of Stress and Emotions in the Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Vitam Horm. 2017;103:327-354. doi: 10.1016/bs.vh.2016.09.005.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28061975

Pirbaglou, M., Katz, J., de Souza, R.J., Stearns, J.C., Motamed, M. & Ritvo, P. (2016). Probiotic supplementation can positively affect anxiety and depressive symptoms: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Nutr Res, 36(9):889-898. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2016.06.009.

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27632908

Rogers, G. B., Keating, D. J., Young, R. L., Wong, M.-L., Licinio, J., & Wesselingh, S. (2016). From gut dysbiosis to altered brain function and mental illness: mechanisms and pathways. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(6), 738–748. http://doi.org/10.1038/mp.2016.50

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4879184/

Science Daily. Sympathetic Nervous System. Accessed March 7, 2018.

LINK:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/terms/sympathetic_nervous_system.htm

Sender, R., Fuchs, S. & Milo, R. (2016). Revised Estimates for the Number of Human and Bacteria Cells in the Body. PLoS Biol 14(8): e1002533. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533
LINK:  http://journals.plos.org/plosbiology/article?id=10.1371/journal.pbio.1002533

TILLISCH, K., LABUS, J., KILPATRICK, L., JIANG, Z., STAINS, J., EBRAT, B., … MAYER, E. A. (2013). Consumption of Fermented Milk Product With Probiotic Modulates Brain Activity. Gastroenterology, 144(7), 10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043. http://doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2013.02.043

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3839572/

UpToDate: Chron Disease. Accessed March 9, 2018

LINK:  https://www.uptodate.com/contents/crohn-disease-beyond-the-basics

UpToDate: Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Accessed March 9, 2018.

LINK:  https://www.uptodate.com/contents/irritable-bowel-syndrome-beyond-the-basics

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-nutrition-gut-health

Wang, W., Wang, F., Fan, F., Sedas, A.C. & Wang, J. (2017). Mind-Body Interventions for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Patients in the Chinese Population: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Int J Behav Med, 24(2):191-204. doi: 10.1007/s12529-016-9589-0.
LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27646279

Zheng, P., Zeng, B., Zhou, C., Liu, M., Fang, Z., Xu, X., Zeng, L., Chen, J., Fan, S., Du, X., Zhang, X., Yang, D., Yang, Y., Meng, H., Li, W., Melgiri, N.D., Licinio, J., Wei, H. & Xie, P. (2016). Gut microbiome remodeling induces depressive-like behaviors through a pathway mediated by the host’s metabolism. Mol Psychiatry, 21(6):786-96. doi: 10.1038/mp.2016.44.

LINK:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27067014?dopt=Abstract

http://neurotrition.ca/blog/your-gut-bugs-what-they-eat-and-7-ways-feed-them

Haven’t Changed Anything in Your Diet But Getting Fatter?

You are positive that you’re not eating more food, or “junkier” food, but you’re still gaining weight…

 

Is this possible?

 

Yes!  You are NOT crazy!

And here’s why.

 

We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight.

There’s definitely more to the story than just what you’re eating, right?

 

A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat.

 

But, let’s go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you’re eating the same.

 

Things like:

  • Aging;

  • Hormones;

  • Sleep;

 

 

Aging

 

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains.

 

Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.

 

The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit. We can also manage around these changes.

 

Hormones

 

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  It is one hormone that could be to blame. There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course.

 

When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you’re eating the same way you always have.

 

Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.  Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.

 

Sleep

 

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.

And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night’s sleep.

The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain.

It’s true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain.

 

Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?

 

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine.

 

Stress

 

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body.

And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right?

 

While you can’t necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

 

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga.  Or even mindful eating.  What about those new adult colouring books that are all the rage now? Filling a mandala or nature colouring book might be a better pastime than Candy Crush.

 

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.

 

 

Recipe

Thyroid friendly iodine: Seaweed Sushi Bowl

Serves 2

 

1 cup cooked rice

1 avocado (thinly sliced)

½ cucumber (diced)

½ red pepper (thinly sliced)

1 green onion (chopped)

2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

½ garlic clove

dash salt and pepper

 

Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.

 

Serve & Enjoy!

 

Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go.  Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.

 

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/lose-weight-in-menopause/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

 

1-2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless, organic)

dash salt & pepper

1 tablespoon avocado oil

1 tablespoon Omega oil blend (reserve)

 

Preheat oven to 450F.

Cooking hot, fast and uncovered produced a nice juicy bakes chicken, and not a tough steamed or dry roasted one.

Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with avocado oil.  Do not cover or tent with parchment paper.

Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Make sure to check with instant read thermometer before removing chicken breast from the oven.

Cooking time varies depending on thickness of meat. It’s very easy.

  1. Thin under 2 inches thick: Bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Thick over 2 inches thick: Bake for 35 minutes.

Cook in both cases ensure it has reached a minimum internal temperature of 150 degrees F.

After baking it’s important to cover let chicken breast and allow it to rest. The chicken breast will reach internal temperature of 165 degrees F during this time.

Drizzle wit omega oil. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

Brazilian Chocolate Chia Pudding

Brazilian Chocolate Chia Pudding

Serves 4

½ cup Brazil nuts

2 cups water

nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (totally optional)

½ cup chia seeds, any colour (not ground chia)

¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

 

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth. (I don’t strain, I keep it all!)

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

 

Serve & Enjoy!

Tips:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries. Also, buy your Brazil Nuts in a place with high turnover, getting them fresh is a MUST! They should taste creamy, mild and delicious.

Why is My Metabolism Slow?

You may feel tired, cold or that you’ve gained weight.  Maybe your digestion seems a bit more “sluggish”.

You may be convinced that your metabolism is slow.

Why does this happen?  Why do metabolic rates slow down?

What can slow my metabolism?

Metabolism includes all of the biochemical reactions in your body that use nutrients and oxygen to create energy.  And there are lots of factors that affect how quickly (or slowly) it works, i.e. your “metabolic rate” (which is measured in calories).

But don’t worry – we know that metabolic rate is much more complicated than the old adage “calories in calories out”!  In fact it’s so complicated I’m only going to list a few of the common things that can slow it down.

 

Examples of common reasons why metabolic rates can slow down:

  • low thyroid hormone
  • your history of dieting
  • your size and body composition
  • your activity level
  • lack of sleep

We’ll briefly touch on each one below and I promise to give you better advice than just to “eat less and exercise more”.

 

 

Low thyroid hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism.  When it produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down. The thyroid hormones (T3 & T4) tell the cells in your body when to use more energy and become more metabolically active. Ideally it should work to keep your metabolism just right. But there are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. Things like autoimmune diseases and mineral deficiencies (e.g. iodine, zinc or selenium) for example.

Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your thyroid hormones tested*

 

 

Your history of dieting

When people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down.  This is because the body senses that food may be scarce and adapts by trying to continue with all the necessary life functions and do it all with less food.

While dieting can lead to a reduction in amount of fat it unfortunately can also lead to a reduction in the amount of muscle you have.  As you know more muscle means faster resting metabolic rate.

Tip: Make sure you’re eating enough food to fuel your body without overdoing it.

 

 

Your size and body composition

In general, larger people have faster metabolic rates.  This is because it takes more energy to fuel a larger body than a smaller one.

However, you already know that gaining weight is rarely the best strategy for increasing your metabolism.

Muscles that actively move and do work need energy.  Even muscles at rest burn more calories than fat.  This means that the amount of energy your body uses depends partly on the amount of lean muscle mass you have.

Tip: Do some weight training to help increase your muscle mass.

 

Which leads us to…

 

Your activity level

Aerobic exercise temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move and do “work” and you can tell because you’re also getting hotter.

Even little things can add up.  Walking a bit farther than you usually do, using a standing desk instead of sitting all day, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can all contribute to more activity in your day.

Tip:  Incorporate movement into your day.  Also, exercise regularly.

 

 

Lack of sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate.  The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.

Tip: Try to create a routine that allows at least 7 hours of sleep every night. 

 

Recipe (Selenium-rich) Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 4

 

½ cup Brazil nuts (pictured)

2 cups water

nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth (optional)

½ cup chia seeds

¼ cup unsweetened cacao powder

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon maple syrup

 

Blend Brazil nuts in water in a high-speed blender until you get smooth, creamy milk.  If desired, strain it with a nut bag or several layers of cheesecloth. (I don’t strain, I keep it all!)

Add Brazil nut milk and other ingredients into a bowl and whisk until combined.  Let sit several minutes (or overnight) until desired thickness is reached.

 

Serve & Enjoy!

Tips:  Makes a simple delicious breakfast or dessert topped with berries. Also, buy your Brazil Nuts in a place with high turnover, getting them fresh is a MUST! They should taste creamy, mild and delicious.

 

* About Thyroid tests:  if you feel really bad and have many signs of thyroid imbalance, get more than your TSH (the standard) tested if possible. Knowing the status of your T4, T3, Reverse T3 as well as checking for anti-thyroid antibodies such as TPO can completely change your options and radically change how you feel and what you do next. If you can, speak to a functional doctor or naturopath for these tests.

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/metabolic-damage

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/thyroid-and-testing

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/6-mistakes-that-slow-metabolism/

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

http://summertomato.com/non-exercise-activity-thermogenesis-neat

Understanding Metabolism

What is Metabolism?

This word “metabolism” is thrown around a lot these days.

You know that if yours is too slow you might gain weight.  But what exactly does this all mean?

Well technically “metabolism” is the word to describe all of the biochemical reactions in your body.  It’s how you take in nutrients and oxygen and use them to fuel everything you do.

Your body has an incredible ability to grow, heal, and generally stay alive.  And without this amazing biochemistry you would not be possible.

 

Metabolism includes how the cells in your body:

  • Allow activities you can control (e.g. physical activity etc.).
  • Allow activities you can’t control (e.g. heart beat, wound healing, processing of nutrients & toxins, etc.).
  • Allow storage of excess energy for later.

So when you put all of these processes together into your metabolism you can imagine that these processes can work too quickly, too slowly, or just right.

Which brings us to the “metabolic rate”.

Metabolic rate

This is how fast your metabolism works and is measured in calories (yup, those calories!).

The calories you eat can go to one of three places:

  • Work (i.e. exercise and other activity).
  • Heat (i.e. from all those biochemical reactions).
  • Storage (i.e. extra leftover “unburned” calories stored as fat).

As you can imagine the more calories you burn as work or creating heat the easier it is to lose weight and keep it off because there will be fewer “leftover” calories to store for later.

 

There are a couple of different ways to measure metabolic rate.

 

One is the “resting metabolic rate” (RMR) which is how much energy your body uses when you’re not being physically active.

The other is the “total daily energy expenditure” (TDEE) which measures both the resting metabolic rate as well as the energy used for “work” (e.g. exercise) throughout a 24-hour period.

 

 

What affects your metabolic rate?

In a nutshell: a lot!

 

The first thing you may think of is your thyroid.

This gland at the front of your throat releases hormones to tell your body to “speed up” your metabolism.  Of course, the more thyroid hormone there is the faster things will work and the more calories you’ll burn.

(It’s very important to not only check your TSH numbers when you get your thyroid checked! That is more than I can get into here, but it is critical. A lot of the time there are things impacting thyroid function that will not be tested for. If you have any concerns, please reach out, I’mm happy to steer you in the right direction!)

But your thyroid’s not the only thing that affects your metabolic rate.

 

How big you are counts too!

Larger people have higher metabolic rates; but your body composition is crucial!

 

As you can imagine muscles that actively move and do work need more energy than fat does.  So the more lean muscle mass you have the more energy your body will burn and the higher your metabolic rate will be.  Even when you’re not working out.

This is exactly why weight training is often recommended as a part of a weight loss program.  Because you want muscles to be burning those calories for you.

 

The thing is, when people lose weight their metabolic rate often slows down which you don’t want to happen.  So you definitely want to offset that with more muscle mass.

Aerobic exercise also temporarily increases your metabolic rate.  Your muscles are burning fuel to move so they’re doing “work”.

 

The type of food you eat also affects your metabolic rate!

Your body actually burns calories to absorb, digest, and metabolize your food.  This is called the “thermic effect of food” (TEF).

You can use it to your advantage when you understand how your body metabolizes foods differently.

Fats, for example increase your TEF by 0-3%; carbs increase it by 5-10%, and protein increases it by 15-30%.  By trading some of your fat or carbs for lean protein you can slightly increase your metabolic rate.

 

Eating smart

Another bonus of protein is that your muscles need it to grow.  By working them out and feeding them what they need they will help you to lose weight and keep it off.

Another thing is, when you are choosing carbohydrates, choose those that are more fibre than sugar or starch is a smart way to control your blood sugar balance and metabolism hormones.

When choosing fats, choose more the omega fatty acids (Omega 3/6) or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) for the best metabolic effect.

 

And don’t forget the mind-body connection.

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that things like stress and sleep have on the metabolic rate.

 

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to metabolism and how so many different things can work to increase (or decrease) your metabolic rate.

 

Check out below –  lean protein recipe: Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken Breasts

Serves 4

 

1-2 lemons, sliced

1 tablespoon rosemary

1 tablespoon thyme

2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

dash salt & pepper

1 tablespoon Avocado oil

1 tablespoon Omega oil blend (reserve)

 

Preheat oven to 450F.

Cooking hot, fast and uncovered produced a nice juicy bakes chicken, and not a tough steamed or dry roasted one.

Layer the lemon slices on the bottom of a baking dish.  Sprinkle with ½ of the herbs and ½ of the sliced garlic.

Place the chicken breasts on top and sprinkle salt & pepper.  Place remaining lemon, herbs and garlic on top of the chicken.  Drizzle with avocado oil.  Do not cover or tent with parchment paper.

Bake for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Make sure to check with instant read thermometer before removing chicken breast from the oven.

Cooking time varies depending on thickness of meat. It’s very easy.

  1. Thin under 2 inches thick: Bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Thick over 2 inches thick: Bake for 35 minutes.

Cook in both cases ensure it has reached a minimum internal temperature of 150 degrees F.

After baking it’s important to cover let chicken breast and allow it to rest. The chicken breast will reach internal temperature of 165 degrees F during this time. 

Drizzle wit omega oil. Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can add a leftover sliced chicken breast to your salad for lunch the next day!

 

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-energy-balance

https://authoritynutrition.com/10-ways-to-boost-metabolism/

Thai Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

Thai Sweet Potato and Carrot Soup

1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil
1 cup diced onion (I used the sweet kind, Walla Walla)
2 cloves grated garlic (I buy locally grown only)
2 tablespoons Thai curry paste (If on autoimmune diet, sub with a safe homemade blend)
1-2 teaspoons hot sauce (mine was mild, omit if following autoimmune diet)
3 scrubbed and diced organic sweet potatoes
2 cups scrubbed and diced organic carrots
3 cups low-salt vegetable or chicken broth (I used homemade organic chicken bone stock)
Salt and pepper to taste (I used Redmond salt)
1 cup light or regular coconut milk
½ cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds, make sure they are fresh)


Optional: A squeeze from a lime wedge, some green peas, a few dabs of goat or sheep cheese, a little grate of turmeric root, a drizzle of omega oil, a sprinkle of coconut or hemp seeds

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sweat it for 3 to 4 minutes before adding the garlic, ginger, curry paste and hot sauce. Saute for another couple minutes.

Add the sweet potatoes and carrots, seasoning well with salt and pepper. Mix together well so the vegetables are well-coated and then pour in the broth.

Bring the mixture to a boil, before reducing to low. Simmer for 25 minutes or until the veggies are tender.

Remove from the heat, and use an immersion/stick blender to puree the soup, being careful to protect yourself at the kitchen from flying flecks of hot soup. You also can use a high-speed blender to puree the soup in batches, being careful to let it let out steam and to avoid backsplash.

Return to the pot and stir in the coconut milk, and add toppings or add-ins to taste.

Serve the soup with an optional lime wedge and sprinkling of pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds or shredded coconut. This also tastes great with some green peas, extra turmeric and/or a little goat cheese stirred in.