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.

Five Foods to Ease Seasonal Allergies

Five Foods to Ease Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies also known as hay fever or allergic rhinitis can be a nuisance causing itchy throat, runny nose and water eyes. These symptoms develop when the immune system overreacts to allergens like plant pollen, dust or animal dander.

Treatment usually involves an over-the counter medication. However, lifestyle changes and adding certain foods to your diet may help mitigate the nuisance of allergy symptoms. Below are five foods/spices that you may want to add to your allergy fighting arsenal to help alleviate those annoying allergy symptoms.

1. Ginger

Ginger Root

Ginger has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of colds, nausea, joint pain, migraines and inflammation. Because of ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties, it may help to alleviate symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

A study in the BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies assessed the efficacy and safety of ginger extract in comparison with loratadine for allergic rhinitis treatment. It was concluded that ginger extract is as good as loratadine in improving nasal symptoms and quality of life.

However, the ginger extract caused less side effects like drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness and constipation. Adding ginger to curries, stir fires and baked goods or making ginger tea is a great way to incorporate this powerful spice into your diet.

2. Turmeric

Golden Milk

Turmeric is a traditional Indian spice with a powerful compound called curcumin that provides anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic benefits. A study in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology that showed an improvement in nasal airflow and a positive effect on immune response in patients with allergic rhinitis who took curcumin.

Fresh or ground turmeric can be used in cooking or taken as supplements. When cooking with turmeric, it’s recommended to pair turmeric with black pepper because it can increase the bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2000%. The piperine in black pepper helps your body absorb more curcumin.

Try this delicious Golden Milk recipe that’s infused with turmeric and ginger to your bedtime routine which may help you get a more restful sleep.

3. Vitamin C Rich Foods


Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant which helps to counteract the inflammatory allergic responses that cause allergy symptoms like sneezing and runny nose. Taking vitamin C during allergy season can help slow down the overreaction of environmental triggers by decreasing histamine production.

Adding broccoli to your diet will provide you with a good source of vitamin C. In addition, broccoli contains naturally occurring compounds which may protect against respiratory inflammation causing conditions like asthma, allergic rhinitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to findings published in the journal of Clinical Immunology. Below are foods that are rich sources Vitamin C that you can incorporate in your diet:

  • Broccoli- higher in vitamin C than oranges
  • Sweet yellow peppers
  • Berries
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Tomatoes
  • Kiwi

4. Green Tea

Green Tea

Sipping on hot tea can help you to feel better when you have a stuffy nose or sore throat. Green tea is is a natural anti-inflammatory and is rich in antioxidants. The antioxidant compound called EGCG that’s found in green tea may help ease allergy symptoms.

In addition, green tea is rich in quercetin, a plant compound that promotes anti-inflammatory protection against allergens. Quercetin gives green tea its color and helps to block allergic reactions caused by pollen, dust and animal dander.

The antioxidants in green tea may provide you with many other health benefits from improved brain function, fat loss, protection against cancer, and lowering the risk of heart disease.

5. Tomatoes

Fresh Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene an antioxidant that can help reduce inflammation caused by an allergic reaction. One study suggests eating 2-4 servings of tomatoes daily helps to alleviate symptoms that were associated with asthma, such as wheezing and shortness of breath.

It’s important to note, previous studies have shown the absorption of lycopene is greater from processed tomatoes than fresh tomatoes. The processing of tomatoes breaks down the cell matrix and makes lycopene more bioavailable.

A study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the addition of olive oil in diced tomatoes during cooking greatly increases the absorption of lycopene.

Not only does lycopene offer anti-allergic benefits but also offers other health promoting benefits such as protection against certain types of cancer, promoting heart health and protecting your skin against sunburn.

To sum it up, while there are no foods that can prevent seasonal allergies, choosing foods that are nutrient-dense with anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic compounds can help to alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms and reduce inflammation..

Finally, it is best to consult with a registered dietitian nutritionist or your healthcare provider before adding supplements to your daily regimen or changing your diet significantly in order to avoid a food-drug interaction.

How to Manage Diabetes During the Holidays

How to Manage Diabetes During the Holidays

It’s that time of year for family gatherings and holiday parties where food is abundant. Temptations are everywhere and daily routines can easily get disrupted. So, how do you stick to your meal plan and keep your diabetes under control during these times? Here’s a few tips to help you stay on track and not feel like you’re missing out.

Have a Back-Up Plan

Often times there’s no way to know what types of foods will be available at parties or family gatherings. Make sure you have a back up plan just in case the food options aren’t exactly what you need.

  • Bring a healthy dish
  • Eat as close to your normal eating schedule as possible to keep your blood sugar steady
  • Don’t skip meals thinking you can save up for a big dinner as this can cause a drop in blood sugar and/or a spike
  • If you indulge, eat smaller portions

Be Physically Active

During this time of the year, the weather may not allow for getting out and moving around as much. With food the center of attention during the holidays, you can not afford not to move around. Find a way to get moving for at least 15-20 minutes after a meal as this will help with the digestion process and help keep blood sugars under control. Can’t go outside due to weather? Turn on some tunes and have a family dance off.

Eat Smaller Portions

Headed to a holiday buffet? Grab the smallest plate you can find and fill it with non-starchy foods to better manage your glucose. Now that’s not to say you can’t have a little bit of something that only comes around once a year, just be mindful of how much your eating.

Load Up on Veggies

There are so many flavorful and colorful vegetables to enjoy that are packed with fiber which helps to keep your blood sugar under control. Eating vegetables that are high in fiber will help to keep you fuller for longer which helps to prevent overeating and sugar cravings. Consider taking a colorful salad, steamed veggies or a broccoli salad.

Be Selective with Sweets

Instead of having the traditional pecan pie, swap it for a healthier version with cinnamon pecan energy bites. By doing this, you’ll save yourself calories and carbs without sacrificing any flavor. However, if you do choose to indulge, eat a smaller portion and limit other carbs like breads and potatoes during the meal.

Wishing you and your family a safe, happy and healthy holiday season!

Good Mood Foods to Fight the Blues

Good Mood Foods to Fight the Blues

When you’re feeling down, what do you do to improve your mood? Do you binge watch your favorite movies? Maybe you meditate or go for a run? Any of these can make you feel better or improve your mood temporarily.

But, what if you were able to eat a certain way every day that could reduce your risk for getting depression, or even improve a bad mood after it started? Would you want to know which foods are considered to be “mood boosting foods”? If so, keep reading.

Using Food to Protect your Mental Health

Many people experience depression at some point in their life. Depression can create a major obstacle to accomplish even the smallest of task and can contribute to chronic disease or make existing health problems worse.

When your mental health suffers, your entire body can feel the effects. Fortunately, evidence suggest dietary changes can improve your mood and quality of life and possibly prevent the need for medication intervention.

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry analyzed the dietary patterns and risk of depression in 3,486 participants over a five year period. Individuals eating whole foods reported fewer symptoms of depression compared to those who ate mostly processed foods.(1) In addition, when comparing a vegetarian diet verses an omnivorous diet, vegetarians reported better moods verses the meat eaters, according to a study published in Nutrition Journal. (3)

How can Food Affect your Mood?

We know that what we eat affects us physically, for example, food affects our energy levels, blood sugar, weight, etc. Your mental health may be just as affected by your diet as your physical health.

The relatively new field of “nutritional psychiatry” is finding that the foods and nutrients you eat can improve how you feel emotionally-both in the short and long term. This is because of the complex array of actions that nutrients and foods have on your overall health and wellness.

Food provides you with essential nutrients to make important mood-boosting compounds like serotonin, food feeds your gut microbes, and food can decrease or increase inflammation. Therefore, choosing nutrient dense foods are vital to optimize and protect all aspects of your health.  

Food is often referred to as “fuel” for your body, but actually, what and how you eat has a profound effect on almost every aspect of your physical and mental health. To keep it simple, think of it like this, calories provide fuel to give us energy to move, think, digest, breathe, etc.

Essential vitamins and minerals from food are used to make neurotransmitters (chemical messengers for our brains and nerve cells to transmit messages to each other). Fiber and some starches that is found in plant foods feed your friendly gut microbes that have their own nervous system which communicates with the brain to make neurotransmitters.

Neurotransmitters and Mental Health

Neurotransmitters have very important roles when it comes to moods. You may have heard of serotonin that has been linked with poor moods and depression when serotonin levels are low. The brain uses the amino acid tryptophan to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter mostly responsible for feelings of well-being and happiness.

Several medications prescribed for depression try to improve levels of serotonin. Likewise, food can be used to raise serotonin levels, but without the negative side effects that many medicines cause such as nausea, diarrhea, or even weight gain.

Recent evidence shows that 90 percent of serotonin receptors in the body are located not in the brain, but in the digestive system. Therefore, it is vital to maintain a healthy gut. Tryptophan can be found in plant-based foods such as pumpkin seeds, leafy greens. watercress, sunflower seeds, mushrooms, broccoli, soybeans, and peas.

12 Antidepressant Nutrients

In 2018, in a study published in the World Journal of Psychiatry the authors created an antidepressant food score by conducting a systematic review to derive a list of Antidepressant Nutrients. They compiled a list of twelve nutrients that are considered to have “antidepressant” roles in the body. They include:

  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA)
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Thiamine
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

Top Anti-Depressant Plant Foods

The top four plant foods with nutrients known to support mental health are leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, lettuces and peppers.

  1. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are super nutritious and are especially high in folate, vitamin C, Vitamin B1, potassium, iron, magnesium, beta carotene, and various bioactive compounds. Examples of leafy greens to include in your diet include:

  • spinach
  • beet greens
  • watercress
  • mustard greens
  • turnip greens

2. Peppers

All varieties are excellent sources of vitamins A and C, potassium, folic acid, and fiber. All colors of peppers have nutritional benefits, however, red peppers may have the higher antioxidant and phytonutrient levels due to their ripeness. Vitamin C can help to fight off depression and anxiety. They are a good source of phytochemicals such as flavonoids and lycopene which may offer protection against heart disease and cancer. Examples of peppers to include in your diet are:

  • Bell Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Serrano Peppers

3. Lettuces

Eating leafy greens may slow mental decline. Lettuce may help in lowering cholesterol levels, moderating sleep, reducing inflammation, controlling anxiety, and may provide a consistent supply of antioxidants. As a rule of thumb, the darker the leaf the more nutrient dense. Four main categories of lettuce include:

  • Romaine
  • Iceberg
  • Loose Leaf
  • Iceberg

4. Cruciferous vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables are nutritional powerhouses. They have many health benefits and are rich in compounds known as glucosinolates, which may help to fight cancer. Certain enzymes in cruciferous vegetables may help protect cell DNA from damage. The chemical chromium this is found in cruciferous vegetables may increase your body’s levels of brain chemicals related to positive feelings, energy and alertness. Some examples of cruciferous vegetables to include are:

  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • kale
  • cabbages
  • argula
  • radish

More Tips to Support Mental Health

  • Add a wide variety of colorful plants to your diet. More color, more nutrients.
  • Choose unsweetened fruits and vegetables over juices.
  • Add more fiber rich foods. More plants in your diet will naturally increase the fiber in your diet.
  • Add Whole grains and legumes which are high in fiber.
  • Include fermented and probiotics rich foods such as kefir, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, kimchi, etc.
  • Buy fermented and probiotic foods in the refrigerator section as these contain live active cultures.
  • Reduce sugar intake, by using less sugar and substitute with fruits like berries or cinnamon.
  • Avoid highly processed foods that are in high trans-fat, saturated fat, refined flours, and sugars which are linked to higher levels of inflammation.

To Sum It Up

The connections between what you eat and how you feel are strongly linked. Focusing on eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, legumes and seeds supports mood boosting benefits and may ward off depression. Ultimately, the benefits consuming a wide array of plant-based foods in your diet go far beyond improving your mood including reducing your risks for heart disease, diabetes and some types of cancers.

*If you are experiencing severe depression or other mental health issues, you may need additional therapies beyond food, if this applies to you, consult with your licensed healthcare provider.

5 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

5 Health Benefits of Hemp Seeds

Not to worry, these hemp seeds won’t get you high-but they will provide a lot of health promoting nutrients. While hemp is a variety of the cannabis (marijuana) plant, hemp seeds have little to none of the psychoactive compound THC that’s found in marijuana. Technically, the seeds are a nut and are super-nutritious in healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various minerals. They can be eaten raw, or used to make milk, oil, cheese substitutes, or protein powder.

1. May Help You Sleep Better

Hemp is very.high in magnesium, which is a mineral that naturally helps your muscles to relax and promotes restorative sleep. Its nutrient profile helps to support high quality sleep because the combination of the amino acid tryptophan and vitamin B6 which serves as a precursor for melatonin. To promote good quality sleep, I recommend consuming a serving a few hours before bed.

2. May Reduce PMS & Menopause Symptoms

Tired of the cramping, mood swings, and cravings? Hemp Seeds have essential fatty acids (EFA) which may help alleviate the vast majority of your PMS symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the psychiatric symptoms of PMS including depression, anxiety, and lack of concentration and may also reduce the somatic symptoms of PMS including bloating, headache, and breast tenderness. Because hemp seeds are high in GLA several studies have indicated that they may reduce menopausal symptoms too.

3. May Protect Your Heart

Hemp seeds contain high amounts of arginine, which turns into nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide makes your blood vessels dilate and relax which can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease. The gamma-linolenic acid found in hemp seeds has been linked to reduced inflammation which may decrease your risk of heart disease.

4. Can Improve Skin Disorders

Anti-inflammatory compounds in hemp seeds may help conditions such as atopic dermatitis and acne which can result from chronic inflammation. Acne may be linked to dietary causes and a deficiency in omega-3s. The high omega-3 content in hemp seeds may help to manage and reduce acne symptoms.

A 2018 review investigated the effects of dietary changes on skin diseases. While they found evidence that eating more omega-3s may improve symptoms of acne, determining the extent of the effect will need more research.

5. Provides A Great Source of Protein

A 30 gram serving (3 Tablespoons) of raw hemp seeds contains almost 10 grams of plant-based protein. They contain all nine essential amino acids and is well-absorbed by our bodies, according to research. Considering swapping the protein powders and add some protein-rich hemp to your smoothies or oats to switch it up.

Overall, hemp seeds are considered safe when eaten in moderation. However, if you are pregnant, taking anticoagulants, suffering from digestive issues, or recovering from cannabis dependence- discuss with your healthcare professional before adding them to your diet.

How to Prevent & Lower High Blood Pressure

How to Prevent & Lower High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is the most prevalent underlying condition in COVID-19 deaths in Mississippians, according to the Mississippi State Department of Health. In the United States, nearly half of adults have hypertension and only about 1 in 4 adults with hypertension have their condition under control. Having hypertension puts you at higher risk for heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of deaths in the United States.


Blood pressure is the pressure of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries. Arteries carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body. A normal blood pressure level is less than 120/80 mmHg. The guidelines used to diagnose high blood pressure may differ with each health care professional.


Unfortunately, high blood pressure usually has no warning signs or symptoms, and many people do not know they have it. Hence, high blood pressure is also known as “the silent killer.”


  • Get a least 150 minutes of physical activity each week ( 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week)
  • Eat a plant-rich diet, limit salt and alcohol
  • Obtain and maintain a healthy weight
  • Manage stress
  • Implement the DASH diet (Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension)


The recommended potassium intake for an average adult is 4,700 milligrams per day. Foods that are rich in potassium are important in managing high blood pressure because of the effect potassium has on sodium. Potassium also helps to ease the tension in your blood vessel walls, which helps to lower blood pressure.

Foods that are rich in potassium includes:

  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Cantaloupe
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • White Beans
  • Edamame
  • Beets
  • Dried Apricots
  • Sweet Potato
  • Butternut Squash
  • Greens (All green leafy vegetables are high in nitrates as well which may improve the flexibility and function of your arteries)
  • Quinoa
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini

Treatment for high blood pressure most often starts with lifestyle changes, including losing weight, if needed, stopping smoking, decreasing salt in your diet, cutting down on alcohol consumption and getting regular exercise.

Controlling your blood pressure should be a priority in your healthy living and lifestyle. Unfortunately, the damage that high blood pressure causes does not cause any symptoms until serious damage has been done. Taking control of your health is one of the most important acts of self-care that you can do. There are so many things in life that are out of your control, why not control the things that you can?