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You Are Dining Out All Wrong!

30 Dec
ally_07About the Author: My name is Ally Kuehn. I am a 21 year old, senior at Ohio University majoring in Applied Nutrition and Dietetics. I am preparing myself to graduate in May 2017. My goals are to become happy and healthier person through nutrition, health and wellness.   Instagram: Kuehnhealth Website: Click Here to see KuehnHealth Blog

 

The struggle I have faced with my new diet and lifestyle change has been dining out.  In the restaurant, trying to get something on the menu that I would like and would be a healthier choice for me. My family and friends sometimes tease me for going for the healthier option on the menu or customizing it to fit my needs. Don’t let those comments get you down. Every time you pick up your fork you are investing in yourself! 

 Here’s some top tips that have helped me when dining out:

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 Order Up: What would you like to drink?

Personally, I get a craving for soda, lemonades, or alcoholic drinks sometimes with dinner. The hard thing at the restaurant is the waiter or waitress will refill your drink. Which isn’t bad at all, they are doing their job! But, if you ever find yourself craving those sugary or alcoholic drinks with dinner, have one. You don’t have to shame your choices or body. Then, after the one drink switch to water for the rest of the meal.

If you don’t have certain cravings. Just opt for a water with your meal every time. One time, I was asked what made me happy in life. I said “a nice, cold glass of water” and its still true to this day, as silly as that sounds! Water helps your whole body function and operate, so drink up friends! Cheers with my refillable water bottle, that I cart around everywhere.

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We ordered our choice of drink, now what are we eating?  

You’ve scanned through the menu several times. You cant pick what to eat, or it seems like the restaurant doesn’t have a lot of vegan or vegetarian options. Don’t worry I got you! Harvard Healthy Eating Plate guidelines are how I choose my meal. The overall goal of the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate guidelines is to consume all the food groups in certain portions. Half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. One fourth of the plate should be grains like quinoa or brown rice, and the last fourth of the plate should be protein like tofu or tempeh.

A struggle when dining out is the portions are too large. I often ask for them to bring a take out box at the beginning of the meal. I then proceed to put half of my meal in the take out box; to ensure I wont overeat. Another option, if the restaurant serves large portions is to eat your vegetables or fruits first and fill up on those. If you are not seeing anything that fits these guidelines don’t be afraid to make your own meal. Choosing items and sides that will be delicious and nutritious. Finding an a la carte menu or ordering an appetizer as your entrée. The possibilities are endless. Again, don’t let the haters bring you down. Whats on your plate should be what you like and will fuel your body. 

For more information regarding Harvard Healthy Eating Plate please follow this link: CLICK HERE

This is my final post for Nutrition Translator. If you like what you’ve read visit my page www.kuehnhealth.weebly.com. Thank you for reading this has been fun, I hope to see you again soon.

See you Later Friends!  Ally_36 (1).jpg

Ally Kuehn

 

 

 

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Top 15 Quick and Easy Vegan Snacks

4 Dec

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One of the most frequent questions I get during my nutrition counseling sessions is “What are some quick, healthy snack ideas?” It is a really good idea to have a snack between meals to spread your calories evenly throughout the day. Don’t let yourself miss breakfast, eat a small lunch and have no snacks….because by the time dinner comes around you will be starving! We all know that ALL HELL breaks loose when the blood sugar drops and “hangry” sets in!! Be sure your snacks are a combination of a complex carbohydrate, protein and a healthy fat. Be careful of too much added sugar in your snack! Click on the snack discription under the picture to take you to where you can buy in online! 
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Mountain Gold Superfood Blend with extra added Almonds

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Tiger nuts and Fresh Fig

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Sunwarior Protein Bar

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Avocado with Chickpeas and Sriracha

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Sweet Potato with Toasted Pecans, Walnuts, Cinnamon and Lakanto Maple Syrup

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Pistachios, Almonds and Fresh Berries

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Sunwarrior Protein Powder mixed with Unsweetened Flax Milk 

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Peanut Butter stuffed Dates dipped in melted Lakanto Sugarfree Chocolate 

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Granola with Flax Milk

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Ginger’s Healthy Habits Trail Mix

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Lupini Beans Pack

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Kona Coffee Macadamia Crunch Snacks

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Sprouted Watermelon Seeds

Happy Snacking! ❤ Colleen Poling, RD

Quick Guide: A Vegan Super-Powered Nutrient Packed Day

24 Oct

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Eating a vegan diet with some supplementation can provide you with all the nutrients that you need! No matter how you choose to eat, animal products or not, it is always important to make sure you are meeting your needs. With any diet, you have to be mindful about what you eat to be healthy! The cool thing about a vegan diet is it offers so much, because every bite you eat gives you diverse benefits including, fiber, antioxidants, protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals!

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The following ‘Vegan Super Powered Nutrient Packed Day’ along with the minimal Supplements will provide adequate sources of Calcium, B12, Zinc, Iron, Protein, Magnesium, Vitamin d, Omega 3 fatty acids, Iodine, Selenium , Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin K2, Antioxidants, Phytochemicals, Fiber and MUCH MORE!! The following ‘Day’ will also include some of the most recent superfoods that you HAVE TO TRY!!! Click on the foods, supplements and recipes for more info, and where you can buy them online!

Pre-Breakfast:

Breakfast:

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Lunch:images

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 During Long Exercise: 

Post-Workout:

Dinner:
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***Be sure you are drinking filtered water, and using filtered water to wash your veggies! It is soooo important to drink pure water! Also, if you are eating everything organic, than washing it with water full of BPA, Mercury, Lead, and pharmaceuticals (reduction list) then you are wasting your money and not to mention hurting your body! Brita just won’t cut it! Check out Multipure instead:  Water Filtration System

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❤ Colleen Poling, RD

Hack: Energy without Caffeine

24 Oct

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This past weekend was Portland Vegfest! I had a wonderful time listening to renowned vegan MD’s such as Neal Barnarn, Milton Mills, and other RD’s like Julieanna Hever! There were also products galore to sample. One of my favorites of the convention was Macaccino: The Organic Maca Root Superfood Energy Drink! Maca is a herb from the cruciferous family of plants (of the species lepidium meyenii). original
Here are the top 3 reasons I love it so much!
  1. Dense Superfood Nutrition: Maca is rich in fiber, protein, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sulfur, iron, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, 20 different amino acids (with seven essential amino acids), sterols, and more. It also has trace elements such as zinc and selenium. Great for vegans!!!!
  2. Energy without the jitters or crashing: Maca is a natural stimulant, but when you eat it, you don’t feel like you are taking a stimulant. The jitters commonly associated with energy drinks and coffee don’t happen!! Elevate your energy in the morning, on adventures, with the kids, at the office, at the gym, with each other. Not to mention it tastes delicious!!!!
  3. Amazing benefits: Maca has been reported to Improve Mood, Improve Stamina, Improve Libido, Aid in Muscle Recovery, Improve Circulation, Ease Symptoms of Menopause, Balance Hormones, Increase Sperm Production, Improve Melatonin Production, Improve Sleep, Relieve Depression, Lessen Anxiety, Reduce Cholesterol, Balance the Endocrine System, Improve, Immunity, Enhance Memory, Improve Menstrual Disorders, Strengthen Erections, Increase Physical Performance, Reduce Hot Flashes, Reduce Lethargy, Improve Hypothyroidism, Improved Skin. So exciting!!!!!!

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Top 10 Quick and Easy Breakfast Ideas

4 Oct

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1. Peanut Butter Overnight Oats: Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl. Spoon into a portable jar. Let sit overnight. Grab and go in the AM! Serves 1

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond milk 
  • 3/4 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 Tbsp natural salted peanut butter or almond butter
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup 
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

Toppings:

  • Sliced banana, strawberries or raspberries
  • Flaxseed meal or additional chia seed

2. Seedy Hummus Toast:

  • 2 slices toast, recommended bread + 1/4 cup hummus + 1 Tbsp hemp seeds + 1 Tbsp roasted unsalted sunflower seeds.

3. Avocado Toast: 

4. Rainbow Chard Banana Peanut Butter Wrap: Wrap the peanut butter, seeds, banana and basil in the chard leaf. Serves 1

  • 1 large rainbow swiss chard leaf, rinsed and dried
  • 1.5 Tbsp natural salted crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 1 Tbsp flaxseed meal
  • 1 Tbsp shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 handful basilchard

5. Raw Chocolate Nut Energy Bites: Blend the following ingredients in a food processor and form into small balls to eat on the go.

  • 2 cups dates
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp cocoa or cocao powder
  • Pinch of salt

6. Antioxidant Coffee Smoothie: Blend the following ingredients and pour in a glass with a lid. Makes 1 serving.

  • 1 cup coffee (Try this amazing mushroom coffee!) Frozen overnight
  • 1 banana
  • 1/4-cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseeds meal
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup plain unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon agave syrupmushroom-coffee

7. Breakfast Banana Bites:

  • Spend five minutes in the morning slicing bananas and topping each slice with a little nut butter and some shelled hemp seeds.

8. Berry Breakfast Parfait Cups: Layer these three components in a portable jar. Makes 2 servings

Cashew Cream: Blend together

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ¼ cup filtered water
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoon raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Nut and Seed mix: Pulse in food processor

  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried shredded coconut

Berry Layer:

  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh raspberriesjars

9. Chocolate Overnight Chia Pudding: Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl and store in portable jars. Makes 4 servings

  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup cacao or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

10. Stuffed Avocados: Top 4 halved avos with the following ingredients. Serves 4. 

  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, slightly drained (if unsalted, add 1/4 tsp sea salt)
  • 1/2 tsp each cumin, garlic powder and chili powder
  • Lime juice
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, chopped
  • 3-4 Tbsp salsa or sub hot sauce
Avocado slices

❤ Colleen Poling, RD

 

Superfood Moringa Cheesecake (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

16 Jun

Moringa: the Superfood you are not eating!!

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The Miracle of Moringa Tree Leaves (Moringa Oleifera), commonly called the ‘drumstick tree”, and ‘horseradish tree’ is native to India but has been planted around the world and is naturalized in many locales. Moringa is one of the most powerful health-enhancing plants. While many things found in Nature can have one or two health benefits, Moringa has many. India’s ancient tradition of ayurveda medicine sites 300 diseases that are treated with the leaves of the Moringa tree. Recent scientific research has proven that these humble leaves are in fact a powerhouse of nutritional value.

Benefits:
Detoxification – Moringa is used to reduce inflammation  and in this process takes out toxins.
Antibotic – Moringa is used as a topical and internal treatment for minor infections. Its antibiotic property is identified as Pterygospermin, a bacterial and fungicidal compound. Its chemical description is glucosinolate 4 alpha-L-rhamnosyloxy benzyl isothiocyanate.
Skin Treatment – Moringa leaf and seed oil has great healing benefits for the skin. They can be used to treat cuts, scrapes, sores, and rashes as well as cracking and other signs of aging. The Seed Oil is cell-regenerative, working to heal scars and wrinkles. It has also been used for eczema and shingles.
Anti-inflammatory – Moringa is also found to be effective in trauma initiated chronic swelling.
Diabetes – An extract from the Moringa leaf has been shown to be effective in lowering blood sugar levels within 3 hours of ingestion. Though less effectively than the standard hypoglycemic drug, glibenclamide. The effects increased with larger doses.
Adaptogen– Moringa works to bring the body to a balanced state of health – capable of toning down or strengthening the activity of the bodies hyper functioning systems, depending on your body’s needs.
Rejuvenating – restorative Chi tonic, increasing the bodies’ resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety, and fatigue.

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Superfood Moringa Cheesecake (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

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Ingredients:
 CRUST
  • 1 cup packed pitted dates
  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp cocao powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
FILLING
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
  • 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk 
  • 1 Tbsp organic moringa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • juice of 1/2 medium lemon
 Instructions
  1. Add cashews to a bowl and cover with boiling hot water. Let set, uncovered, for 1 hour, then drain thoroughly.
  2. Line an 8×8-inch baking dish with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Make crust by adding dates, walnuts, cocao powder and salt to a food processor. Blend until small bits remain or it forms into a ball. Remove and set aside.- it should stick together when you squeeze a bit between your fingers. 
  4. Press the crust into the parchment-lined dish
  5. Add your drained, soaked cashews to a high speed blender, along with vanilla, maple syrup, coconut milk, sea salt, oil, moringa powder, and lemon juice. Blend on high until creamy and smooth.
  6. Pour filling over the crust. Put in freezer to set.
  7. When ready to serve, set out cheesecake to thaw. Top with more moringa powder. 
  8. Enjoy immediately. Store leftovers in the freezer up to 3 weeks.

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Peace, Love, Superfoods

❤ Colleen Poling, RD

3 Daily Routines That Will Change Your Life

1 Jun

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Surprising Vegan & Organic Finds at Costco

29 May

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Today I ventured into Costco for the first time! I was a very overwhelmed at first with the huge carts and all the STUFF people were buying, especially with this being Memorial Day Weekend. Carts were full of junk food, electronics, paper products, clothes and anything else you can imagine. Although, this did bring me back to my childhood, when my dad would bring my brother, twin sister and I to Sam’s Club to buy giant boxes of Rice Krispie Treats, Jumbo Rope Licorice and Ice Cream Snicker’s Bars! That was heaven for a little kid. However, now as a conscious consumer, it was my goal not to get sucked in too far, and only buy what I needed. Much to my surprise I found some AMAZING vegan, and organic items. Check them out:

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List of Finds: Organic Frozen Berries, Organic Peanut butter, Organic Frozen Broccoli, Organic precooked Love beets, Organic Frozen veggies Galore, Dates (Non-GMO), Organic Tofu, Dried Figs (Non-GMO), Suju Mighty Greens Juice, Organic Hemp Seeds (serious deal here!!), Organic Chia Seeds, Nut Milk, LaraBars, Organic Edamame Spaghetti, Frozen Acai berries, Organic Apples, Organic Full Fat Coconut Milk, Vega One protein, Amy’s Organic Lentil Soup, Organic Cashews, Organic Hope Hummus, Organic Sweet Potatoes, Avocado Oil (Non-GMO), Organic Edamame, Organic Coffee, Organic Butternut Squash, Organic Vegan Protein, GT’s Kombucha, Organic Black Beans, Coconut Oil, Organic Bananas, Organic Agave, and even a Vitamix was there to buy!
I highly recommend getting a Membership!!!
❤ Colleen Poling, RD

The “Fuck Yes” Diet

24 May

fuckyesornoHave you heard of the Law of “Fuck Yes or No?” This law applies to relationships stating that:

  1. When you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, they must inspire you to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.
  2. When you want to get involved with someone new, in whatever capacity, THEY must respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with them.

Basically both you and the other person need to be Fuck Yes about something, otherwise you’re just wasting your time. Check out Mark Mason’s website if you are interested in learning more on this law with relationships.

How can this apply to ours diets? Consider this quote:

“Perhaps the most intimate relationship each of us will ever have is not with any fellow member of our own human species. Instead it is between our bodies and our food.” –Scientific America, 2013

You will never have a more intimate relationship, not with your partner nor your child in this lifetime then you will with food. Food can be enveloped into our emotions and feelings. Food is makes up our culture. Food is a huge part of our social lives. Food breaks down into tiny chemicals and becomes you. Food affects every aspect of our wellbeing, from our mood, energy levels, thinking capacity, brain power, sports performance, sex drive, and longevity. We have over 100 trillion cells in our bodies and these cells need nutrients to thrive. If we fail to provide them with the essential nutrients we are harming ourselves rather than healing ourselves. Let’s work on creating a more positive relationship with our food.

Just as we can provide self-respect with applying the Law of “Fuck yes or No” to relationships with people, we can do the same with food. Why? Because non-needy, high self-worth people don’t have time for food they are not excited to eat. Don’t have time for food that doesn’t nourish the body, mind and soul. And certainly don’t have time for complicated food relationships.

Simply ask yourself this:

  1. When deciding to eat a certain food, THAT FOOD and FOOD RELATIONSHIP must inspire YOU to say “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed to eat it.
  2. When deciding to eat a certain food, THAT FOOD RELATIONSHIP must in turn respond with a “Fuck Yes” in order for you to proceed with it.

OK, now you are probably thinking, how can a food say “Fuck yes or no” to me as a human would?

Let me translate specific human relationships you might have had to food relationships:

The Stage 5 Clinger:

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Human: You are the clinger, super needy, not able to let go. You are a total “Fuck Yes” to committing to the other person. Them, a “Fuck No”. You are ready to give the relationship 100%, you are devoting your time and attention to this person, texting, calling, analyzing every move. Giving up this person feels impossible. This person is like a drug to you. Your love drug. You are high every time you are with this person. You have lost all self-control with this person. Unfortunately, the person you are clinging to is not that into you. In fact, they are keeping you strung along. Keeping you wishing, hoping. Keeping you on edge for that next love drug high.

Food: You are addicted to a certain type of food, fast food, sugar laden foods, processed foods. The food is a drug for you. You feel cravings for it. You cannot see yourself living without these types of foods. You have been devoting your time, by investing your money and eating these types of foods daily. You have lost all self-control with these foods.

Solution: It is time to practice some self-respect, and be the rejecter! By detaching yourself from the foods you crave, you will soon say “Fuck No,” too. You will then find yourself choosing much healthier foods when you let this unhealthy relationship go.

The Mindless:

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Human: You go with the flow with relationships. The other person is into you, a “Fuck Yes.” This doesn’t bother you one way or another. For some reason, whatever comes along you take it. You can feel so-so about someone, and go with it because no one better is coming along. You are mindless, uninterested in how the relationship will proceed, but continue moving forward with it because it is available to you.

Food: You go with the flow about what food goes into your mouth. For example, the staff break room has donuts and you already full, but you still eat it anyway, because it is there. You mindlessly choose certain foods, because it is easy and convienent to you. You eat in front of the TV, computer and/or with devices in front of you. You have no concern about how the food is affecting your body. You are a complacent and basically a “Fuck No” in this food relationship. The food relationship is responding back to you, “Fuck Yes.” You two are not on the same page.

Solution: Stop being so complacent with your food choices, and get excited about what you are eating. Choose foods that are nourishing to you. Be more mindful when you eat, by really tasting, and connecting to the food. Maybe you need to try a cooking class, or go to a gardening class for some inspiration. Connect with your food in a way you would want to connect with another human being.

The Booty Call:

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Human: You are the booty call. You are called at late hours of the night for a fun time. You enjoy the time between the sheets, but long for something more. You two are not, “Fuck Yes” about the same relationship goal.

Food: Is your food Booty Calling you? Do you find yourself with late night binges? Do you have fun eating these foods in the moment, but are then left with feelings of longing, guilt or regret? Do you feel something is missing in this relationship? Do you long for something more? You and your food relationship are not on the same page. It seems that you are not a “Fuck Yes” in this relationship.

Solution: Give yourself stronger boundaries to follow as you would with a human relationship. You deserve better. Find out what is causing these binges. Is it a void you are trying to fill? Sit with your emotions instead of reaching for food.

The Asshole:

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Human: The person you are seeing is a complete fucking asshole, and you know it. They make you feel inferior. They undermine you. They disrespect you. They can be liars, cheaters, manipulaters, and can sometimes be abusive. You cry out, only wanting to be heard. You want from the deepest part of yourself for your partner to embrace you, connect with you, not abuse you. You want a deeper understanding and respect. This person is “Fuck No,” you are a “Fuck yes.”

Food: The food you are in a relationship does not love you back, because you do not first love yourself. You deprive yourself of food, or restrict your food, because you long from the deepest part of your soul to just be heard. You want control. Your relationship with food hurts you. It disrespects you, it lies to you, it cheats you. You don’t feel like you are enough. You cry, because you want it to embrace your whole self.  What you really want is to deepin the understanding of who you really are. This food relationship a complete asshole, and it is responding as a “Fuck No.” It is time you do as well.

Solution: Stand your ground. It is time to fight for yourself. Trying to control only leads to more suffering. Discover yourself by working with a counselor on why you feel incomplete and the need for control.

 

“If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it.” Evelyn Tribole

❤ Colleen Poling, RD

5 Cutting Edge Ways to Optimize your Health

26 Mar
Epigenetics-imageDid you know it is possible to increase your brainpower, immunity and cancer fighting ability with not only your diet, but also by how you live your life? Epigenetics is a growing field of research that focuses on changes in gene expression of our given DNA without altering the underlying genetic sequence. New scientific studies are supporting that by the way you eat and live your life, you can turn on or off certain genes. Making you more prone, or less prone to certain cancers, for example. You have the power to turn on or off certain biological characteristics simply by how you live day to day. Include these 5 tips in your diet/lifestyle everyday to optimize your health by making sure you get the most out of what your momma and dad gave ya!
1. Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
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Omega threes are vital to our heart health, cardiovascular health, memory, and to prevent inflammation.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid, and is the precursor of the longer chain omega 3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). EPA and to a lesser extent DHA can be made in the body from ALA.  Flax seed, chia seeds, walnuts, sacha inchi (incas peanut), are great sources of ALA. Fish and Algae are good source of EPA and DHA.
DHA has been shown to be extremely important for brain health. DHA turns on the growth of new brain cells, offers protection for existing brain cells, and enhances the of ability of one brain cell to connect to the next. This is called neuroplasticity. DHA also acts as an anti-inflammatory. Chronic inflammation of the brain plays a huge role in Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and virtually every other neurodegenerative conditions. DHA also produces glutathione, the master detoxifier, master of our immune system, and major antioxidant of the nervous system. Glutathione also helps regulate the function of how protein is produced. To make sure we are producing enough Glutathione, we need to make sure we are getting enough DHA in our diets.
A vegan and vegetarian diet provide little EPA and DHA, even those consuming a lot of walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds can be still be low in DHA. Try supplementing with Dr. Furman’s EPA/DHA supplement, it is derived from lab-grown algae and has no environmental contaminants. Vegans need to load up in this department for optimal neurological function. Non-vegans and non-vegetarians need to be careful as to where they get their fish, and what type of fish, due to the mercury content.
2. Turmeric
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Turmeric is a root with a deep orange/yellow color that has been used throughout history in Chinese and Indian medicine. We are just now catching on to the powerful healing benefits of Turmeric here in the west. Research is showing that Turmeric can possibly treat depression, and be as effective as the medication prozac. The main phytochemical in turmeric, called curcumin, fights against depression by reducing inflammation, modulating the level of neurotransmitters in the brain, and turning on a gene to make a growth hormone called Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). BDNF is known for making knew brain cells. Regular physical activity and getting enough DHA can also activate the gene for making BDNF.
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Black pepper combined with turmeric enhances the bioavailability of curcumin, which means you get more benefit from it. If supplementing, be sure to buy a supplement with organic curcumin extract that contains black pepper. Check out this amazing recipe for Golden Milk too!
3. Prebiotics & Probiotics
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Did you know that you are made of 90% microbes, and only 10% human cells? You do not look like a giant blob of bacteria because your human cells are much larger than your microbes. Your gut makes up much of the microbes, and they play a special role in your health. The bacteria inside you right now can affect your digestion, immunity, and even mental health. The emerging science on this topic is very exciting, and the variety of bacteria in your gut can say a lot about you.
A bacterial infection called Clostridium difficile, or Cdiff resulting in debilitating diarrhea, and sometimes death is common in patients visiting the hospital. Patients are treated with antibiotics, which kills all of their good and the bad bacteria in their guts. Sometimes the antibiotics fail, and this is where a Fecal Microbiota Transplant can come in. Fecal transplantation is the transfer of stool from a healthy donor into the gastrointestinal tract for treating the recurrent C. difficile. This treatment is very safe and effective. Fascinating, right?
Did you know that the gut bacteria of obese people are imbalanced too? The obese microbiome has an increased ability to extract energy from food, breakdown fiber, and absorb dietary fat, due to the abundance of the two dominant bacterial strains, the Bacteroidetes and the Firmicutes.  In one study scientists gave germ-free mice a fecal transplant with obese microbiota, and this resulted in an obesity! This diminished biodiversity in the gut’s ecology explains the loss of functionality to maintain proper physiology.
Increasing the diversity of the gut bacteria can help to manufacture some of the vitamins and cofactors needed for building bones, including B6, B12, K, and folic acid. Scientists also suspect that a healthy gut flora helps the body properly digest calcium, and increases vitamin D receptor expression.
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Here I am making homemade Sauerkraut at the San Diego Fermentation Festival this past Jan 2016!
There are a number of ways we can increase our gut diversity. Limiting antibiotic usage is important, and including more prebiotic foods and probiotic foods in our diet. Prebiotic foods feed the good bacteria in our gut. Prebioitcs include garlic, onion, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, dandelion greens, baobab tree powder. Also include probiotic foods daily,which contain the friendly bacteria themselves, such as kombucha tea, water kefir, kvass, rejuvelac, fermented veggies like kimchi, sauerkraut, and fermented soybeans like natto.
4. Medicinal Mushrooms
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Mushrooms have been used for centuries for their therapeutic benefits. Research has shown that certain mushrooms can increase the immune system, decrease inflammation, restrict blood vessel growth feeding tumors, cause programmed cell death of cancer cells, provide antiviral properties, restrict growth of harmful bacteria and even assist with conventional anti-cancer drugs to work more effectively so they can be given at lower doses. Mushrooms are functional foods, which support our systems on a multi-factorial level. Try including some of these medicinal mushrooms in your diet.
Reishi: The Queen of medicinal mushrooms. Reishi is highly researched, and has been shown to reduce stress, detoxify the liver, increase immunity, and promote better sleep. Reishi is an adaptagen, which means if you are feeling tired it will give you energy, or if you are feeling anxious it will calm you back down.
Lion’s Mane: Helps to improve memory, boosts creativity, helps with concentration, has anti-dementia effects, helps with neurological damage and can penetrate the blood brain barrier. Lions’s Mane is a think food. Plan on taking Lion’s mane consistently for maximum benefits and noticed results.
Chaga: Is considered “black gold,” and has one of the highest sources of antioxidants in the nature. It fights against pathogens, and balances out the immune system. Chaga is also very high in zinc.
Cordyceps: Supports adrenals and produces long lasting energy levels. Cordyceps is wonderful for endurance athletes because it increases oxygen uptake, decreases recovery time, and increases ATP levels. You will feel cordycep’s benefits relatively quickly after consumption.
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Check out FourSigmatic.com for their amazing mushroom powder drink packets. I highly recommend them!
5. Meditation and Mindfulness
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Neuroscience research has shown that staying in the moment, and being mindful changes the way your brain functions. It changes and  improves the way we experience ourselves in the world. It is not just mumbo-jumbo! We spend a lot of our day in the personal narrative of our life. We obsess about the future, we dwell on that conversation we had last week, or last year, and we remain entrenched in the storyline of our life. Researchers call this the “default network” and it’s dominated by cortical midline structures (CMS). While this “default network” has benefits, when we spend too much time in self-referential thinking, especially if we are caught up in negative thinking, it can lead to poor emotional and behavioral outcomes, including depression and anxiety.
Mindfulness practice is about attending to the present moment. It teaches us to notice how the body feels, right now, paying attention to the breath and observing, without grasping onto our current state of mind. By definition, mindfulness moves us away from our personal narrative about how our life should be and into how life actually is, moment to moment.With as little as a few minutes a day, studies have shown increases in grey-matter density in the hippocampus region of the brain, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. Studies have also shown that meditation decreases grey-matter density in the amygdala region of the brain, which is known to play an important role in anxiety, stress and the fight or flight response.Decreased grey-matter in the amygdala does not negatively impact the fight or flight response. If you get chased by a bear, you will still be afraid and want to run away. The decreased grey-matter helps you lower the stress and anxiety levels faster after a stressful situation, say getting chased by a bear or getting in trouble with your boss at work. Check out a guided youtube meditation or buy a guided journal to de-stress at the end of your day, or to start your day off stress free.
Happy optimizing!
❤ Colleen Poling, RD