Health Tips

What You Need to Know Before Doing a Cleanse

If you’re thinking about doing a cleanse, spring and summer really are the best times for it. There’s so much fresh produce in season that emphasizing fruits and vegetables becomes easy without needing to resort to frozen items.

Cleansing generally means cleaning your system out, particularly the gut, but it could look different for everyone. Perhaps it means a 3-day juice fast or a month-long elimination diet. Maybe you just want to avoid gut-irritating foods for a few weeks while sticking to raw fruits and veggies.

Doing a cleanse isn’t necessary more than once or twice a year, but it’s important to do it right (and safely) from the start.

Why and How to Cleanse

There are many ways to cleanse, but the key benefit is giving your body a break--it’s an opportunity to rest and recover from being constantly inundated with food (especially food that doesn’t support optimal health).

If you choose to do a water fast, your digestive system gets a chance to play catch up and discard anything it doesn’t need--without having to worry about more incoming food to digest. Homemade bone broth or juice can nourish you during your fast without demanding too much from the gut. The amount of days can vary, but generally 1-3 is fine for this type of cleanse.

Not feeling up for a water fast? You might experiment with intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating instead. This means you only eat or drink within a 10-hour window during the day, and then consume nothing else besides water from early evening until morning (about 15 hours). Time-restricted eating has been shown in studies to improve blood glucose levels and help cells clean out and discard waste.

If you’ll be focusing on fresh vegetables and fruit during your cleanse, try adding the juice from half a lemon to warm water in the morning and sip green tea throughout the day. This homemade beet kvass recipe is also great for gently flushing toxins out of the liver.

Note: While fruit is always a better choice than cookies and pastries, trade high-sugar options, like bananas and melons, for berries, cherries and citrus fruits.

Other Points to Keep in Mind

While you’re cleansing, be sure to get plenty of rest. Keep your exercise light and short, and include relaxation activities like yoga and meditation in your day. Try to avoid having your cleanse fall on particularly busy weeks or the same month as your cousin’s wedding!

The most important thing to remember about doing a cleanse? It’s about support, not starvation. Do it as a kindness to yourself, not because you’re feeling self-conscious about bikini season. When you give yourself proper care and nourishment, it’ll reflect positively on how you look and feel from the inside out.

Need Guidance? 

Request a consultation with me to make sure your cleanse is safe and health-supportive! Contact me here to set up a time to talk.

How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

How to Reduce Anxiety with Fermented Foods

Can fermented foods make you a happier person? Can they even up your social game? It may seem farfetched but, apparently, it’s not.

When I’m not eating a clean diet, including fermented foods, and taking a good probiotic, I start to feel more stressed and overwhelmed. In the past, I didn’t know how to reduce anxiety so I’d wake up at 3 am worrying about everything! Of course, the last thing I’d want to do after a poor night’s sleep is socialize and make new friends.

The Anxiety-Gut Connection

Stress can disrupt the balance of your gut flora, which then affects hormones, such as cortisol. Waking up in the middle of the night is a byproduct. These types of symptoms are enhanced if you drink wine to calm your nerves.

The gut flora/microbiota also regulates hormone balance. If you suffer from PMS and PMS-related anxiety, it’s likely due to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.

The Role of Fermented Foods

In a recent study of young adults, an association was found between fermented foods and a reduction in social anxiety. Researchers found that among students who were prone to being anxious and hyper, those who ate fermented foods were less anxious overall.

Another study from McMaster University showed that mice treated with antibiotics became more antisocial. Once their good bacteria levels returned, their behavior returned to normal. Who knew it could be that simple?

Getting Started

If you’re wondering how to reduce anxiety in your life, it might be worth increasing your daily intake of beneficial bugs by adding sauerkraut, kimchi and lots of greens to your diet. Making them is super simple, and I share a bunch of recipes on my site for beginners and adventure seekers alike.

While I prefer homemade ferments, you can find them at the grocery store. Just be sure to look for them in the refrigerated section. Fermented foods found on a shelf have been pasteurized, which means the beneficial bacteria and enzymes are dead.

Free Consultation

If you have any questions about how to reduce anxiety with fermented foods, or how to improve the health of your gut, email me to book a free consultation. I would love to hear from you and get you started on your healing journey.

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: Which Is Right for Me?

By now, you probably know a bit about the enormous benefits probiotics provide for the body (especially if you follow this blog!). But if you’re not sure why you should be eating prebiotic foods, or have never heard of such a thing, let’s clear up the confusion.

Prebiotic foods are carbohydrates that feed your gut bacteria. They are grouped into 3 types: non-starch polysaccharides, soluble fibre, and resistant starch. Non-starch polysaccharides include things like guar gum, inulin and pectin; soluble fibre includes flaxseed and cruciferous vegetables; and resistant starch is found in items like plantains and white rice.

Things like guar gum are often used as thickeners in ingredients like canned coconut milk, and if you eat plenty of vegetables, you’re probably getting adequate soluble fibre. But what about resistant starch?

The Scoop on Resistant Starch

If you’ve been following a low-carb diet for a while, you may want to consider adding resistant starch back in to encourage good bacteria growth in your gut. Low-carb diets usually limit or exclude sources of resistant starch. But rather than adding inches to your waistline, these special starches get eaten by the beneficial bacteria. Just make sure you limit your intake to a small portion each day, and don’t go overboard.

Here are my favorite sources of resistant starch:

  • Potato starch

  • Green plantains

  • Green banana flour

  • Starchy vegetables like carrots, beets and sweet potatoes

Can I Take a Prebiotic Instead of a Probiotic?

The short answer? No.

You need both prebiotics AND probiotics for a healthy gut bacteria balance. Prebiotics will just feed the bad bacteria if the good bacteria from your probiotics isn’t present. And if you’re not taking a prebiotic supplement like inulin and you and don’t eat many vegetables, you’re in danger of the bad bacteria growing out of control and causing health problems.

More About Prebiotic Foods

More and more research about prebiotics is released every day, and it’s all part of a larger conversation about optimal gut health and supporting your beneficial bacteria. If you’re interested in learning more, read this article by respected researcher Chris Kresser about prebiotics and resistant starch.

And if you’d like some personalized guidance in incorporating more prebiotics and probiotics into your diet, get in touch to schedule a Breakthrough Session with me.

5 Spring Vegetables to Brighten Your Plate

One of the most exciting things about the arrival of spring is the bounty of bright, colorful produce that crops up, fresh and ready for indulgence. Farmers markets reopen, a sure harbinger of the sunny months to come, and I happily return to perusing my local market and browsing the bright flowers, produce and spring vegetables in all their natural goodness.

The health benefits of eating in-season produce are undeniable, and seeking these items out is also an opportunity to support local businesses and farmers by specifically looking for what’s being grown and offered in your area.

What's in Season?

What’s particularly seasonal may vary from region to region, but here are 5 staple spring vegetables that I can’t wait to eat as we welcome spring.
Radishes and their fantastic crunchiness are wonderful spring vegetables to use in a variety of ways. Chop them up and toss them into salads or slice them as an addition to my Essential Sauerkraut Recipe.
Fresh, thick spears of asparagus are delicious no matter how you prepare them. Roast them, steam them or even peel them into ribbons to make a shaved asparagus salad. The choice is yours!
The ever-versatile pea is back and ready to be sprinkled into rice or quinoa Buddha bowls for a burst of sweetness, or to be used as a side dish to your slow-cooked Easter lamb dishes.
Part of the carrot family, fennel has a number of health benefits. Good for your gut, your heart and your body as a whole, fennel can be sliced into salads (with a bright dressing for some springtime color) or even chewed raw after lunch as a natural breath freshener.
Whether you’re dressing it up as a side or sneaking it into recipes for some added health boosts, spinach is full of vitamins and minerals to get your body ready for an exciting, active spring ahead. Try it in place of or in addition to kale in my superfood-heavy Protein Packed Breakfast Shake.
What’s your favorite spring vegetable? Let me know in the comments below!