Top 5 Fruits to Treat Constipation, According to a Dietitian

Top 5 Fruits to Treat Constipation, According to a Dietitian

Constipation is a common digestive issue that affects many individuals. It’s actually the most common digestive complaint in the United States. It occurs when bowel movements become less frequent or difficult to pass. While occasional constipation is usually not a cause for concern, chronic constipation can be uncomfortable and may require intervention.

Fortunately, incorporating certain fruits into your diet can help alleviate and prevent constipation naturally. In this article, we’ll explore what constipation is, its causes, how to prevent or treat it, and the top five fruits recommended by a dietitian for managing constipation effectively.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is defined as having fewer than three bowel movements per week or having difficulty passing stool. Symptoms of constipation may include straining during bowel movements, hard or lumpy stools, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. Constipation can occur for various reasons, including dietary factors, dehydration, lack of physical activity, and certain medical conditions.

Causes of Constipation

Several factors can contribute to the development of constipation, including:

  • Low fiber diet: A diet low in fiber can lead to hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
  • Dehydration: Inadequate fluid intake can result in dry and hard stools, making them harder to pass.
  • Lack of physical activity: Regular physical activity helps stimulate bowel movements by promoting the contraction of intestinal muscles.
  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement: Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement can lead to stool remaining in the colon for an extended period, causing it to become harder and more difficult to pass.
  • Certain medications: Some medications, such as opioids, antidepressants, and antacids containing calcium or aluminum, can cause constipation as a side effect.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-C), hypothyroidism, and diabetes, can contribute to constipation.

How to Prevent or Treat Constipation

Preventing and treating constipation involves adopting healthy dietary and lifestyle habits. Here are some tips to help prevent or alleviate constipation:

  • Eat a fiber-rich diet: Incorporate plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes into your meals to ensure an adequate intake of dietary fiber.
  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body hydrated and prevent stool from becoming dry and hard.
  • Be physically active: Engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, jogging, or cycling, to promote healthy bowel function and prevent constipation.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to your body’s natural cues and respond promptly to the urge to have a bowel movement.
  • Manage stress: Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises, as stress can contribute to digestive issues, including constipation.

Top 5 Fruits to Treat Constipation

When it comes to managing constipation naturally, certain fruits stand out for their effectiveness. Here are the top five fruits recommended by a dietitian for preventing and treating constipation:

1. Kiwi

Kiwi is rich in fiber, particularly soluble fiber, and contains an enzyme called actinidin, which aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements. Additionally, kiwi is packed with vitamin C, which supports overall gut health.

A study demonstrated that incorporating two gold kiwifruits into one’s daily diet, which equates to a standard serving of fruit, can be as effective as consuming fiber-matched psyllium in treating constipation among adults. Notably, this natural approach exhibited fewer side effects and contributed to improved stool consistency and reduced straining during bowel movements.

2. Pears

Pears are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, making them effective in softening stool and promoting bowel regularity. Incorporating pears into your diet can help prevent constipation and alleviate symptoms of existing constipation.

However, while pears are a healthy choice for many, individuals with allergies or sensitivities to related fruits should exercise caution. Additionally, those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) or those following a low FODMAP diet may consider avoiding pears due to their high sorbitol and fructose content. These compounds can trigger diarrhea, especially in children.

3. Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, which helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body and prevents dehydration, a common contributor to constipation. Additionally, bananas contain pectin, a type of soluble fiber that aids digestion and promotes regular bowel movements.

Bananas can either alleviate or exacerbate constipation, depending on their ripeness. An unripe banana might worsen constipation, whereas a ripe one could help alleviate it. However, the impact may differ based on an individual’s dietary habits and underlying health conditions such as IBS.

4. Prunes

Prunes, or dried plums, are well-known for their laxative effects and are often used as a natural remedy for constipation. They are high in insoluble fiber, sorbitol, and natural sugars, all of which contribute to their effectiveness in promoting bowel regularity and relieving constipation.

5. Apples

Apples contain a mix of soluble and insoluble fiber, as well as natural sugars and water content, making them effective in preventing and treating constipation. The fiber in apples adds bulk to stool, while the natural sugars and water content help soften stool and facilitate its passage through the digestive tract.

Incorporating these fruits into your diet can help promote regular bowel movements and alleviate constipation naturally. Whether eaten fresh, dried, or blended into smoothies, these fruits offer natural and effective ways to manage constipation and maintain optimal digestive health.

If you’re looking for personalized guidance on improving your gut health or addressing any digestive concerns, schedule a consultation with Julie Pace, Registered Dietitian at Core Nutrition Health and Wellness for a customized plan tailored to your unique needs to help you achieve optimal digestive wellness. Take the first step towards better gut health by booking your consultation today.

How to Make Informed Food Choices

How to Make Informed Food Choices

Making informed food choices is crucial for promoting both personal health and environmental sustainability. When we consider where our food comes from and how it’s produced, we empower ourselves to make decisions that benefit not only our own well-being but also our environment.

From Farm to Table: Understanding the Journey of Your Food

Understanding the journey of your food, from farm to table and making informed food choices, while embracing sustainability, is multifaceted and intertwines personal health and environmental stewardship. Each step in this journey involves making informed food choices that prioritize both individual well-being and the planet’s vitality.

Sustainability involves practices that uphold the ecological balance of our planet, ensuring the longevity of natural resources while promoting human health. From the selection of seeds to the harvesting of crops, every decision made by farmers contributes to the sustainability of our food system.

Informed food Choices & Sustainability

As consumers, our role in the journey is equally significant. Through informed food choices, we have the power to influence the course of our food’s journey. Opting for locally sourced, organically grown produce and supporting farmers who prioritize sustainable practices are integral steps in this process.

Also, embracing sustainability in our food journey extends beyond just consumption. It involves fostering a deeper connection with the food we eat, understanding its origins, and appreciating the efforts of those involved in its production.

In essence, sustainability is a collaborative venture that emphasizes the interconnectedness of human health and environmental well-being. By making informed food choices rooted in sustainability, we not only nourish our bodies but also cultivate a healthier planet for future generations.

Why It Matters

In today’s world, the concept of sustainability has transcended beyond buzzword status; it has become a cornerstone of responsible living. But why does sustainability matter, particularly in the context of our food choices and overall health?

First and foremost, sustainability ensures the preservation of our planet’s resources for future generations. By making informed food choices that prioritize sustainability, we mitigate the depletion of natural resources such as water, soil, and energy, safeguarding the integrity of ecosystems and biodiversity.

Also, sustainability directly impacts human health. Sustainable food systems promote the consumption of nutrient-rich foods that support overall well-being. By opting for sustainably sourced fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, individuals can enhance their diets while reducing the risk of chronic diseases.

Additionally, embracing sustainability fosters social equity and economic stability. Sustainable farming practices promote fair labor conditions and support local communities, ensuring that everyone involved in the food production chain receives fair compensation and opportunities for advancement.

In reality, sustainability matters because it serves as the heartbeat of a thriving, interconnected ecosystem where informed food choices lead to improved health outcomes for individuals and the planet alike. By practicing sustainability in our daily lives, we pave the way for a brighter, more resilient future.

Understanding Sustainable Farming

Sustainable farming, a cornerstone of informed food choices, goes beyond mere cultivation practices—it’s a commitment to nurturing the land while safeguarding the health of both consumers and the environment. At its core, sustainable farming prioritizes health by promoting agricultural methods that enhance soil fertility, minimize chemical inputs, and prioritize biodiversity.

In embracing sustainability, farmers adopt techniques aimed at conserving natural resources and reducing environmental impact. These methods include crop rotation, organic fertilization, and integrated pest management, which collectively foster healthier ecosystems and resilient food systems.

Also, sustainable farming champions the principle of “food with a story.” By connecting consumers with the origins of their food, it fosters transparency and trust in the agricultural process. This transparency empowers individuals to make informed food choices aligned with their values and concerns regarding health and environmental stewardship.

From reducing carbon emissions to conserving water and preserving wildlife habitats, the benefits of sustainable farming ripple far beyond the boundaries of the farm. It represents a holistic approach to food production—one that not only feeds the world but also nurtures the planet for generations to come.

Essentially, sustainable farming embodies the ethos of responsible agriculture, where the well-being of the land, the farmer, and the consumer converge in harmony. As consumers, embracing sustainability empowers us to support agricultural practices that prioritize health and environmental vitality, paving the way for a more resilient and nourished future.

The Impact of Your Purchasing Power

As consumers, the choices we make regarding the food we purchase and consume have considerable influence. Opting for locally sourced, in-season, and sustainably grown food not only contributes to our own well-being but also minimizes our ecological footprint. Shopping at farmers’ markets or participating in community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs are excellent avenues for making such choices.

Your purchasing decisions have considerable influence on the food system, shaping both personal health and the trajectory of sustainability. By making informed food choices, you not only nourish yourself but also contribute to the broader environmental and social landscape.

Consider the Impact of Food Choices

Every item you place in your shopping cart reflects a vote for the type of food system you wish to endorse. Opting for locally sourced, in-season, and sustainably grown products not only promotes your own health but also minimizes your ecological footprint. This conscious choice supports farmers who prioritize environmental stewardship and ethical practices.

Support Sustainable Practices

Choosing products with certifications such as organic or fair trade signifies your commitment to sustainability. These labels indicate that the food was produced in a manner that respects both people and the planet. By actively seeking out these designations, you incentivize businesses to adopt more environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices.

Embrace Sustainability

Embracing a mindset of mindful consumption empowers you to make choices that align with your values. Whether it’s opting for plant-based alternatives, reducing food waste, or supporting local farmers’ markets, each decision has the potential to drive positive change. Together, our collective actions can create a more equitable and sustainable food system for future generations.

Basically, your purchasing power extends far beyond the checkout counter—it’s a catalyst for change in the realm of food production and consumption. By leveraging this power to prioritize health and sustainability, you play a vital role in shaping a brighter and more resilient future for all.

Food Choices & Food Labels

Interpreting food labels empowers us to make informed food choices. Terms like “organic,” “free-range,” or “non-GMO” offer insights into how food was cultivated or processed. Familiarizing ourselves with label terminology facilitates decision-making aligned with our values and preferences.

Navigating food labels is crucial for making informed food choices that prioritize both health and sustainability. Here’s a breakdown of key terms and what they mean:

  • Organic: Products labeled as organic are produced without synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Choosing organic options supports sustainability by promoting healthier soil and reducing chemical runoff into the environment.
  • Non-GMO: Non-GMO labels indicate that the product does not contain genetically modified ingredients. Opting for non-GMO foods supports health and helps preserve biodiversity by avoiding genetically engineered crops.
  • Fair Trade: Fair Trade certification ensures that products are sourced from producers who receive fair wages and work under humane conditions. Supporting Fair Trade products promotes social equity and sustainability in agricultural practices.
  • Grass Fed: This label indicates that animals were fed a diet primarily consisting of grass or forage. Grass-fed meat and dairy products often contain higher levels of beneficial nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, promoting both animal welfare and human health.
  • Sustainable Sourced: Products labeled as sustainably sourced are harvested or produced in a manner that minimizes environmental impact and promotes long-term ecological balance. Choosing sustainably sourced foods supports health by ensuring the availability of nutritious options for future generations.

Understanding these labels empowers consumers to make informed food choices that align with their values and contribute to both personal health and global sustainability.

Key Takeaways

To sum it up, making informed food choices involves considering various factors beyond taste and convenience. By understanding the journey of food from farm to table, prioritizing sustainability, and paying attention to label information, we can contribute to both personal well-being and environmental preservation.

Let’s celebrate National Nutrition Month® by embracing choices that go beyond the dining table, nurturing our bodies, communities, and the planet at large.

Whether your goal is to improve your health through nutrition or live a more sustainable lifestyle, we are committed to supporting you in achieving your health and wellness goals. Call or book an appointment.

Plant-Based Foods for Weight Loss and Health

Plant-Based Foods for Weight Loss and Health

In a world where health-conscious food choices are on the rise, adopting a whole food plant-based diet has emerged as a powerful strategy for weight loss and overall health. This approach prioritizes nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods derived from plants, offering many health benefits for those seeking a healthier lifestyle. To gain a deeper understanding of the benefits of plant-based foods for weight loss, let’s start by exploring one of its fundamental components: fruits and vegetables.

Eat A Rainbow of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

A whole food plant-based diet is full of fruits and vegetables, packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. These colorful antioxidant rich foods not only support weight loss by providing a low-calorie density but also contribute to overall health with their disease-fighting properties. Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your daily meals ensures a diverse range of nutrients. Be sure to include these delicious low-calorie, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables on a regular basis:

  • Non-starchy vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and brussels sprouts. Roast, steam, or stir-fry them, they’re delicious in any form.
  • Leafy Greens: Spinach, swiss chard, and arugula are powerhouses of essential nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Pack them into salads, blend them into smoothies, or into your morning scramble.
  • Fruits: Berries, apples, pears, and citrus fruits are naturally sweet, satisfying cravings without sugar spikes. Snack on them fresh, frozen, or blended into refreshing smoothies.

Plant-Based Proteins for Sustained Energy

Contrary to common misconceptions, plant-based diets can offer adequate protein for building and maintaining muscle mass and supporting weight loss. Legumes such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans, along with tofu and tempeh, are excellent sources of plant-based proteins. These foods not only provide the necessary amino acids but also offer fiber, promoting gut health and and satiety. Be sure to get a variety of these powerhouse proteins:

  • Lentils and Beans: These small but mighty proteins keep you feeling full and fueled. Try them in hearty stews, satisfying salads, and creamy dips.
  • Tofu and Tempeh: These soy-based proteins are delicious and versatile making a delicious plant-based alternative.
  • Seitan and Nutritional Yeast: This wheat gluten-based meat alternative and deactivated yeast can provide a satisfying texture and a savory umami boost, perfect for stir fries and vegan roasts.

Whole Grains for Sustained Energy Release

Whole grains are a vital component of a well-rounded plant-based diet. Opt for organic grains like quinoa, wild rice, and oats, which are rich in fiber and complex carbohydrates. These foods provide a steady release of energy, helping to curb cravings and maintain stable blood sugar levels, essential for weight management. Here’s a few of my favorite recipes to help you incorporate whole grains into your meals:

Weight Loss Friendly Fats: Nuts, Seeds, and Avocados

Including sources of healthy fats is crucial for a balanced diet. Nuts, seeds, and avocados offer a satisfying dose of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are heart-healthy and can support weight loss. The key is moderation; incorporating these nutrient-dense fats in moderation can enhance flavor and satiety without compromising your weight loss goals.

Minimizing Processed Foods and Added Sugars

To truly embrace a whole food plant-based approach, it’s essential to minimize processed foods and added sugars. Whole foods in their natural state provide a broad spectrum of nutrients without the empty calories and artificial additives found in processed alternatives. This shift not only aids in weight loss but also supports overall health and longevity.

Practical Tips for Transitioning to a Whole Food Plant-Based Lifestyle

As you embark on your journey towards a whole food plant-based lifestyle, consider these practical tips to make the transition smoother:

Gradual Shifts for Long Term Success

Rather than making drastic changes overnight, gradually shift towards a plant-based diet. Start by incorporating more fruits, vegetables, and plant-based proteins into your meals. This approach allows your taste buds and digestive system to adapt, increasing the likelihood of long-term success.

Experiment with Flavorful Plant-Based Recipes

Explore the wide variety of plant-based recipes available, from hearty salads to savory stews. Experimenting with flavors and textures not only keeps meals exciting but also dispels the myth that plant-based eating is bland or monotonous. Embrace herbs, spices, and diverse cooking methods to create delicious, satisfying dishes.

Stay Hydrated and Listen to Your Body

water infused with fruits and herbs

Proper hydration is a key aspect of any healthy lifestyle. Water not only supports overall bodily functions but can also aid in weight loss by promoting a feeling of fullness.

Fruit-infused water serves as a delightful and refreshing solution for individuals who find plain water unappealing. By infusing water with a medley of fruits, such as citrus slices, berries, or herbs, one can transform the taste without adding extra calories or sugars. This infusion not only enhances the flavor but also provides a subtle hint of natural sweetness, making it a more enticing option for those who struggle to meet their daily water intake goals.

Conclusion

Starting a whole food plant-based journey for weight loss and overall health is a rewarding choice. By prioritizing fruits, vegetables, plant-based proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats, you not only support your weight management goals but also promote a resilient and thriving body. Remember, the key lies in making sustainable choices that resonate with your unique preferences and lifestyle.

Schedule a personalized consultation to tailor these principles to your unique journey. Whether your goal is weight loss, a healthier lifestyle, or mastering plant-based eating, together we can create a plan that aligns with your health needs and goals.

Book your consultation and take the next step towards a vibrant, plant-powered life.

Best Foods and Nutrients to Boost Fertility

Best Foods and Nutrients to Boost Fertility

Are you struggling to conceive and wondering if nutrition could be the missing link? You’re not alone. About 15-25 percent of couples experience difficulties achieving pregnancy after a year of trying. But here’s some good news: research suggests that nutrition can play a key role in improving fertility for both women and men.

By making some simple dietary changes, you could increase your chances of conception. In this blog post, we’ll explore the foods and nutrients that can help boost fertility and those that may hinder it, starting with the overall dietary pattern. So, grab a healthy snack and let’s dive in!

The Importance of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet To Boost Fertility

Bowls of Anti-Inflammatory Foods including Berries, Fruits, Oatmeal

Research has shown that maintaining a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory dietary pattern is associated with higher fertility in both women and men. Inflammation can negatively impact fertility by disrupting ovulation and menstrual cycles in women and reducing sperm quality and quantity in men.

Individuals who consume inflammatory diets high in fast foods and sugary drinks, and low in fruits and vegetables may experience longer periods of time to achieve pregnancy. On the other hand, those who follow anti-inflammatory diets like the Mediterranean, Prudent, Nordic, and Okinawan diets, have been linked with greater chances of successful pregnancies, whether or not they use fertility treatments.

Anti-inflammatory diets are rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins, and may also include fish, nuts, seeds, olive or canola oil, and soy-based foods. Dairy products, red or processed meats, and sweets are consumed in smaller amounts or none at all.

Anti-inflammatory diets are high in unsaturated and omega-3 fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and low in sugars, refined carbohydrates, and saturated and trans fats. By prioritizing an anti-inflammatory diet, individuals can take important steps towards improving their fertility and overall health.

Foods and Nutrients that may Boost Fertility in Women

Incorporating specific foods and nutrients into a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet may potentially boost fertility in both women and men. One important recommendation is to consume seafood or seafood alternatives (if vegan or plant-based) like algae-based Omega-3 supplements, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts.

Essential Fatty Acids

Bowls of Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds

There is evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA and EPA, may play a role in improving fertility in both men and women.

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can improve sperm count, motility, and morphology in men, as well as increase the production of cervical mucus and improve hormonal balance in women. Omega-3s may also improve the quality of eggs in women undergoing fertility treatments.

Additionally, omega-3s have been linked to lower levels of inflammation in the body, which is important for optimal fertility as chronic inflammation can negatively impact reproductive health.

However, more research is needed to fully understand the impact of omega-3s on fertility, and it is always recommended to speak with a healthcare provider before making any significant dietary changes or starting new supplements.

Studies have shown that consuming seafood may increase the chances of getting pregnant, but not all seafood is created equal. For an alternative to seafood, plant-based sources of Omega-3 such as algae-based supplements, chia seeds, flax seeds, and walnuts can provide similar benefits.

Vitamin B-12

Another key nutrient for fertility is Vitamin B12, which is found primarily in animal products. Those who eat a vegan diet should make sure to supplement with Vitamin B12, or consume B12 fortified foods, such as plant-based milks, breakfast cereals, and nutritional yeast.

For women undergoing assisted reproductive technology (ART), having adequate levels of Vitamin B12 may increase the chances of a successful pregnancy. Studies have shown that higher levels of Vitamin B12 in the body are associated with better pregnancy outcomes, while lower levels of the nutrient can lead to infertility and miscarriage.

Vitamin B12 supplements can also benefit male fertility by improving sperm count, motility, and protecting sperm cells from DNA damage. This essential nutrient is crucial for the production of healthy red blood cells and DNA synthesis, which are essential for fetal development.

To meet the recommended daily intake of Vitamin B12, adults should aim for 2.4 mcg per day. Pregnant women require slightly more at 2.6 mcg, and breastfeeding mothers should aim for 2.8 mcg. Vitamin B12 is naturally present in animal-based foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products. For those following a vegan or vegetarian diet, Vitamin B12 fortified foods like breakfast cereals, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast can provide a good source of the nutrient.

Additionally, taking Vitamin B12 supplements may be an effective way to increase levels of this important nutrient, as the body is able to absorb more Vitamin B12 from supplements than from food alone. Incorporating sufficient levels of Vitamin B12 into a balanced, healthy diet can help improve fertility outcomes for both women and men undergoing ART.

Folic Acid Supplementation

Folic acid, also known as Vitamin B9, is important before and during pregnancy to reduce the risk of neurological problems in the developing baby, such as spina bifida. It may also help women have more regular ovulation and get pregnant sooner. Folic acid aids in DNA and RNA synthesis, which is crucial for optimal reproduction. Consult with your healthcare provider or personal dietitian to determine the appropriate dosage of folic acid for you.

Soy Isoflavones

Bowl of Edamame

A Harvard study found that folic acid and soy isoflavones can have positive effects on women trying to conceive. Studies have shown that soy isoflavones, plant-based compounds that act like estrogen, may have a positive impact on fertility. In fact, women who consume soy or isoflavone supplements may have a higher chance of successful pregnancies, especially when undergoing fertility treatments. While initial animal studies suggested possible harmful effects, most studies in humans have not found any negative impact of soy on fertility. As such, incorporating soy-based foods into your diet or taking soy supplements may be a helpful addition to your fertility regimen.

Foods and Nutrients that May Improve Men’s Fertility

There is evidence that certain foods and supplements can improve a man’s fertility. Studies have shown that consuming a nutrient-dense diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and lean proteins like poultry and seafood can improve sperm quality and quantity. Additionally, certain nutrients like Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta-carotene, selenium, and zinc have been linked to higher quality semen.

Antioxidant supplements have also been shown to improve semen quality by reducing DNA damage and increasing motility. It’s important to note that individual results may vary and it’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement regimen.

Antioxidant supplements may improve sperm quality. Studies suggest that low levels of antioxidants in men can result in negative impacts on sperm such as DNA damage, membrane damage, and reduced motility. Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, folic acid, coenzyme Q10, and the essential minerals selenium and zinc are known for their antioxidant properties.

However, excessive amounts of antioxidants can be harmful, and it’s best to consult with a healthcare provider to determine a supplementation protocol tailored to your health needs and goals.

Strategies to Boost Fertility

Eliminate Intake of Artificial Trans Fats

Cheeseburger, Fries and Coca Cola

It’s recommended to reduce intake of both trans fats and sugar-sweetened beverages, which may negatively impact fertility. Research suggests that a higher intake of trans fats can lead to a higher risk of ovulatory infertility, while sugary beverages can cause insulin resistance and disrupt menstrual cycles.

Reducing intake of trans fats may improve fertility, according to Harvard researchers. Trans fats are naturally found in dairy and meat from ruminant animals and in partially hydrogenated oils. However, artificial trans fats are being phased out of the U.S. food supply due to their harmful effects on heart health. While dairy products containing trans fats do not seem to negatively affect female fertility, a healthy vegan or mostly plant-based diet can easily eliminate the consumption of trans fats.

Eliminate Added Sugars and Energy Drinks

Variety of Energy Drinks

Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and energy drinks may lower fertility in both men and women, according to several studies. Consuming as few as seven drinks per week can have an impact. However, diet sodas and fruit juice do not seem to have the same effect. One possible explanation for this link is that sugar can interfere with women’s reproductive hormones, ovulation, and egg maturation, while in men, it may lead to lower sperm concentration. However, I recommend avoiding artificial sweeteners due to their potential negative impact on the gut microbiome. Studies show that the mother’s microbiome influences the baby’s microbiome.

Overall, Add More Plants on Your Plate to Boost Fertility

A plate of Vegetable Wraps with Dip

Eating a diet rich in plants can have several benefits for fertility. Here are some ways eating more plants can boost fertility:

  • Improving Hormonal Balance: Plant-based foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which help balance hormones that are crucial for fertility. For example, foods rich in Vitamin C, such as leafy greens and citrus fruits, can boost progesterone production and support the menstrual cycle.
  • Reducing Inflammation: Chronic inflammation can negatively impact fertility by damaging reproductive organs. Plant-based foods are rich in anti-inflammatory compounds that can reduce inflammation and improve fertility.
  • Supporting Ovulation: Plant-based foods are a good source of complex carbohydrates and fiber that can help regulate blood sugar levels, which is essential for healthy ovulation. Studies have shown that a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables can improve ovulatory function.
  • Boosting Sperm Health: Plant-based diets are high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that can improve sperm health. For example, foods rich in folate, such as leafy greens, can boost sperm motility.
  • Reducing Exposure to Toxins: Plant-based diets are typically lower in toxins, such as pesticides and heavy metals, that can negatively impact fertility. By reducing exposure to these toxins, plant-based diets can improve reproductive health.

Overall, incorporating more plants into your diet can improve fertility by supporting hormonal balance, reducing inflammation, supporting ovulation, boosting sperm health, and reducing exposure to toxins.

To Sum It Up

It can be challenging to deal with fertility issues, but research shows that nutrition can be helpful for both men and women. A diet that is high in nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats are some of the best foods and nutrients to boost fertility.

If you need help planning and making nutritious changes to your meals and supplement regimen to boost your fertility, schedule an appointment with me for a personalized plan, I would love to help.

Brain Health: How To Keep Your Brain Healthy & Your  Mind Sharp

Brain Health: How To Keep Your Brain Healthy & Your Mind Sharp

When a disease or disorder takes over the brain and robs it of its language and memory, the disease takes away you. After all, your brain is what makes you you. While there are some risk factors that are not modifiable, research has shown there are lifestyles practices that you can do to keep your brain healthy and your mind sharp that can help you live a longer, healthier life.

The Brain

You may have heard someone refer to your brain as the “control center” of your body. This would make sense, since it controls every process that regulates your body. Your brain, a corrugated three-pound mass, is a complex symphony of electrochemical reactions that is active every second of every day. Many of these reactions are unconscious. For example, the brain makes the lungs expand when needed and the heart pump blood continuously. It also stores memories, processes sights, sounds, taste and smells and controls emotions and hunger. For those reasons, it’s important to keep your brain as healthy as possible for as long as possible to stave off chronic—often incurable—diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. Fortunately, science shows us how to do this.

6 Pillars of Brain Health

Your lifestyle choices have a profound effect on your brain health. For example, what you eat and drink, how much you exercise, how much you socialize, how you manage stress, and how well you sleep are all vital to your brain health.

Your brain health is influenced by these six core pillars:

  1. Physical Exercise
  2. Stress Management
  3. Restorative Sleep & Relaxation
  4. Social Interaction
  5. Physical Health
  6. Food & Nutrition

In this article, we’ll go through each one of these pillars of brain health and discuss specific and actionable strategies that can you can do to optimize and protect your brain health.

Prioritize Exercise For Brain Health, Body & Mind

Exercise is one of the most important daily habits to prevent cognitive decline. While there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for the optimal dose of exercise to optimize your brain health, there are evidenced-based exercises associated with health benefits for the brain. Keep in mind, the best exercise program for one person may be vastly different from that of another person.

Aerobic exercise, also known as “cardio” or “endurance” exercise, helps to get your heart rate up and your muscles warm. Examples of aerobic exercises include biking, swimming, running, and climbing stairs. This type of exercise benefits your brain because it helps to preserve existing brain cells and also promotes the growth of new ones.

Another type of exercise is strength or “resistance” training such as pushing or pulling weights or lifting other heavy objects (like groceries). This type of exercise is to help build and maintain muscles and bones. Strength training also helps your brain by enhancing your concentration and improving your decision-making skills.

Stress Management

If you’ve been alive long enough, you’ve experienced some form of stress. Whether you’ve experienced physical, emotional, or psychological stress, you know what that automatic “flight or fight” response feels like. When this occurs, you may feel your heartbeat pounding in the side of your neck, start sweating profusely, or feel as though you are about to hyperventilate. All of these reactions occur automatically and are initiated by your brain when it detects a threat.

Once the threat is gone, the stress response relaxes and your body and brain can regain their normal stress balance. However, sometimes that stress lingers on for days, weeks, or months and becomes long-term or “chronic” stress. It’s this chronic stress that can negatively impact your brain. Chronic stress can shrink the part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex, that’s responsible for memory and learning which can cause cognitive decline. In addition, chronic stress can increase the part of your brain, the amygdala, that can make you more susceptible to stress.

While you cannot eliminate stress completely, you can learn effective techniques to better manage stress and preserve your brain health.

Quality Sleep For Brain Health

Sleep is essential for keeping your brain healthy and your mind sharp. Without it, you can’t create or maintain new pathways in your brain that allow you to learn and create new memories. In addition, sleep deprivation makes it hard for you to concentrate and respond quickly. Research has shown that a chronic lack of sleep or even poor sleep quality increases your risk of disorders including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease and obesity.

So what can you do to support quality sleep?

One of the most important things you can do to get enough sleep is to create a regular sleep schedule. By going to bed and waking up at about the same time every day—including weekends and even when you’re traveling—you “train” your body and brain to get on a healthy sleep schedule.

Another strategy to help you get more sleep is to create a relaxing bedtime routine. That routine can start one to three hours before you need to sleep and can include things like dimming lights, putting your screens away, listening to relaxing music, reading a book, or taking a warm relaxing bath.

Stay Connected Socially To Optimize Brain Health

Strong social connections are vital to your brain health. Socializing can stimulate the brain in many ways including stimulating your attention, memory and strengthening neural networks. As you age, it can become more difficult to stay connected, however, it is essential to do so. One study suggest that loneliness can increase your risk of dementia by as much as 40%.

While it can be beneficial to have large social circles, it’s important to remember to choose quality over quantity. Not all relationships are created equal. Stressful relationships or particular social circles can negatively impact your health. Invest your time and energy into relationships that energize you as opposed to the relationships that drain you.

Control Medical Conditions To Protect Brain Health

Depending on your personal health situation, you may be advised to take medications or supplements to manage a health condition. These can be important to reducing your risks for serious conditions and slowing down the progression of diseases. Some medical conditions are linked to the deterioration of brain function these include high blood pressure, diabetes, and excess weight. These conditions can increase your risks of cognitive decline and developing dementia. Therefore, it’s important to prevent or manage these health conditions to ensure the best possible health outcomes.

As always, consult with your doctor and/or dietitian before taking supplements to support brain health in order to decrease your risk of drug interactions and to ensure you are getting a high-quality supplement.

Nutrient Dense Foods For Brain Health

There are several foods and nutrients that promote a healthy brain by slowing cognitive decline and reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic diseases. You may have heard of the MIND diet that’s designed to help prevent dementia and to slow the decline of brain function as you age. The MIND diet emphasizes foods that are rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, and other nutrients that are vital for optimal brain health.

Keep reading to learn a few of the key foods and nutrients that may help boost your brain health.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

One of the best sources of omega-3’s are chia seeds with one ounce providing 5,000mg of ALA omega 3 fatty acids. Hemp seeds contain 3,000mg of ALA omega 3 fatty acids in just 3 tablespoons. Walnuts are another source of healthy fats and ALA omega 3’s. Studies have shown that eating walnuts can have significant improvements in memory and cognitive performance. Am I the only one who thinks it’s pretty interesting how walnuts resemble the brain? Lastly, flaxseeds are a nutritional powerhouse that are also an excellent source of ALA omega 3’s. Chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, and walnuts can easily be incorporated into your diet.

Plant-Based Nutrition For Brain Health

Healthy Breakfast Oatmeal Bowl Plants contain more than vitamins and minerals, they’re also a great source of fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals. Eating a plant-rich diet helps more than your brain, it’s also associated with better heart health and weight management.

Some of the top plants for brain health are brightly-colored fruits and vegetables like berries, leafy greens, and broccoli. You should aim to fill half your plate with a diversity of colorful vegetables to maximize your antioxidant and nutrient intake.

Cocoa & Dark Chocolate For Brain Health

These powerful plant compounds can help improve blood flow to the brain and reduce inflammation. Two of my favorite brain foods, cocoa powder and dark chocolate, contain high amounts of flavonols in the form of epicatechin a substance that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

Flavonols are a class of flavonoids that have biological activity such as antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, anti-inflammatory and vasodilation effects, and have been considered as potential anti-cancer agents.

In order for the brain to function optimally, cerebral blood flow needs to be maintained to support oxygen and glucose supply to the neurons. The main polyphenols that can enhance cerebral blood flow come from berries, cocoa, soya, tomatoes, grape seeds, wine, and tea.

According to research, ingestion of a single dose or a one-week treatment with cocoa rich in flavonol increases cerebral blood flow in grey matter and reverses endothelial dysfunction which suggest its potential in the treatment of cerebrovascular problems.

Coffee & Tea For Brain Health

You may be wondering which type of tea is best to drink for brain health. When it comes to teas, black and green teas contain the most antioxidants. Green tea is one of the healthiest because it’s packed with antioxidants, polyphenols, and a catechin called EGCG. which may boost your brain function.

The EGCG also helps to protect brain cells from oxidative stress in order to reduce your risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and dementia.

Likewise, consuming up to two to four cups a day of coffee is beneficial to your brain. Research shows drinking black coffee is linked with the prevention of cognitive decline and can reduce your risk for having a stroke and developing Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

Vitamin D For Brain Health

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in brain health. You have vitamin D receptors which are found throughout your brain tissue. The biologically active form of vitamin D has shown neuroprotective effects including the clearance of amyloid plaques which is an indicator of Alzheimer’s disease. If you are unable to get adequate vitamin D through your diet, supplementation may be needed.

Reservatrol For Brain Health

Reservatrol is a natural polyphenol that’s found in red wine and the skin of red grapes. As a natural food ingredient, multiple studies have demonstrated that resveratrol has a very high antioxidant potential.

Resveratrol may reduce cell damage and protect against the formation of plaques in the brain. However, if you plan on getting this powerful antioxidant from red wine, remember, too much alcohol is not good for the brain, so be sure to drink in moderation.

While there are many resveratrol supplements on the market, due to its poor solubility, bioavailability, and potential adverse effects, it’s best to get your dose of resveratrol from natural food.

Keep In Mind

There are many things you can do to optimize and protect your brain health. They include a number of healthy habits such as getting exercise, reducing stress, getting enough sleep, socializing with others (or with pets), and following recommendations for medications and supplements. When it comes to food and nutrition for brain health, try to get enough omega-3s, more plants, spices, dark chocolate, coffee, tea, vitamin D, and a bit of red wine.

Remember, taking proactive steps to support your brain health can lead to significant improvements in your overall well-being and quality of life. By incorporating these evidence-based strategies into your daily routine, you’re investing in a healthier, more vibrant future. If you’re ready to take the next step towards optimizing your health and protecting your brain, schedule an appointment with our team today. Let us help you unlock your full potential so you can live your best life.

Why Fiber is Important for Your Gut Health and How It  Can Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

Why Fiber is Important for Your Gut Health and How It Can Reduce Your Risk for Colorectal Cancer

About ninety percent of colorectal cancers and deaths are thought to be preventable. Although there is no for sure way to prevent colon cancer, there are things you can do to lower your risk. Eating foods high in fiber, avoiding overly processed foods, exercising regularly, not smoking, limiting alcohol use and cancer screenings are all factors within your control that can significantly reduce your risk for chronic diseases, including cancer. Read on to learn why adequate intake of fiber is essential to nourish your gut health and to reduce your risk for colorectal cancer.

Why Do You Need Fiber?

Fiber and gut health go hand in hand. It feeds the good bacteria in your gut therefore, the more fiber you eat, the more beneficial “good” bacteria you will have in your gut. Another important reason to consume fiber is because research has shown fiber plays a vital role in reducing the risk for colorectal cancer. You may be wondering what exactly is fiber? Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can’t digest. Think of fiber as your best friend when it comes to getting rid of toxins in the body. It can not be broken down so it passes through the body undigested carrying out potential toxins with it. In addition, dietary fiber can provide many health benefits from regulating blood sugar, preventing constipation, hemorrhoids, and even some types of cancers like colon, breast and prostate cancer.

Types of Fiber

There are two types of fiber both of which are beneficial to your health.

Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help to lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol. Foods that are high in soluble fiber include :

  • oatmeal
  • chia seeds
  • blueberries
  • citrus fruits
  • carrots
  • apples
  • Brussels sprouts
  • sweet potatoes
  • beans

Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and helps move food through your digestive system which helps to prevent constipation and promote regularity. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include:

  • kale
  • almonds
  • cauliflower
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • green beans
  • vegetables

What is Fiber?

The National Academy of Medicine defines fiber as :

  • Dietary fibers that naturally occur in plants that are nondigestible carbohydrates and lignans.
  • Functional fibers that are extracted from plants or synthetically made and are not digestible to provide health benefits.

Fiber and Disease Prevention

Fiber is associated with a decreased risk of developing various health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, constipation, obesity, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and diverticular disease. In addition, fiber can benefit the gut microbiome by producing anti-inflammatory effects that alleviate chronic inflammation associated with many health conditions. Dietary fiber may decrease the risk of colorectal cancer by increasing stool bulk, diluting fecal carcinogens, and by decreasing transit time, therefore reducing the contact between carcinogens and the lining of the colon or rectum.

In addition, a high fiber intake has been linked to a lower risk of developing metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of conditions that increases your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. These condition include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the midsection, and high cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

How Much Fiber Do You Need?

Women should aim for 20-25 grams of fiber per day, while men should aim for 30-40 grams of fiber per day. Unfortunately, most Americans fall short of meeting their dietary fiber intake with most only consuming 15 grams per day. Consuming a whole food plant-based diet makes getting the recommended daily fiber intake easily attainable.

A plate full of high fiber crunchy colorful veggies with dip.

Tips to Increase Fiber Intake

  • Snack on raw veggies or eat a serving (1/4 cup) of almonds instead of snacking on chips and crackers.
  • Add in beans or legumes at meals to replace meats. Use extra beans or legumes in chilis or soups.
  • Be sure to eat whole fruit instead of drinking fruit juice. It is better to blend fruit in smoothies instead of juicing in order to keep the fiber intact.
  • Eat the rainbow (colorful veggies) when making salads. Top salads or oatmeal with 1-2 tablespoons of chia seeds, flaxseeds, or nuts.
  • Replace white breads, rice, and pasta with minimally processed foods such as farro, millet, whole grains, and brown rice.

One of my favorite high fiber, anti-inflammatory recipes is my Sweet Pea and Potato Curry Soup. It’s filled with anti-inflammatory spices, plant protein, fresh garlic, sweet potatoes, sweet onions, and coconut milk. It’s so delicious, easy to make, and ready to eat in 30 minutes or less.

To Sum It Up

High fiber foods are great for your overall health. However, adding too much fiber too quickly can cause unwanted digestive issues. Increase fiber gradually over time so that your digestive system can adjust to the change. Remember to drink plenty of fiber with high fiber foods as well. If you need more personalized guidance on how to add more fiber in your diet, schedule a free consultation . Visit the Colon Cancer Coalition to get the facts about colon cancer.