Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Food for Thought

I'm starting to really get into this Fitness Nutrition book, and it's presenting a heavy focus on digestion, which I like... 

Random Fact:
Did you know that your liver weighs approximately 3-4 lbs? It’s your largest gland. Think: a football.

Also – your pancreas is pretty important too – its main function includes secreting juices that contain digestive enzymes.

It also helps produce:

  • Insulin (regulates how fats and carbohydrates are metabolized in the body, helps muscles and fat tissue take in glucose from your blood. It also slows down the release of glucagon), and
  • Glucagon (is released when blood glucose is too low – think “glucaGONE – so we’ll give you more glucose!” heehee… It does this by helping the liver turn glycogen into glucose)

Both of which are important for keeping your blood glucose levels in check. It’s a balanced system when working functionally, and each one is present to make sure the other one doesn’t go crazy on your system.

In short: Insulin is the glucose-downer, and glucagon is the glucose-upper.

Food for thought:

There was a study in Sweden to learn what helps with pancreatitis. Vegetables appeared to help in preventing the development of pancreatitis due to the high levels of antioxidants. Unfortunately, fruit doesn’t quite help as (it’s believed that) the fructose content is too high to be of benefit.
Interesting article that gives more info about the study, and worth a read:

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bethany Townsend and Crohn's Disease - The Bikini Colostomy Bag Picture

I'm sure you all know about the articles and pictures about: The Bethany Townsend Bikini Picture - Tanning with a Colostomy Bag

It's been everywhere, and the exposure that this has gained makes me very happy in more ways than I can express. 

Bethany, I don't know you, but from the bottom of my heart and with tears in my eyes: Thank You for putting that image out there. I respect you, and wish you the best. 

Crohn's Disease is a very serious condition, mostly caused by diet and stress - although there are other causes (genetics, various "bugs" that you catch that trigger it, etc.), and it impacts the bowels in a way that makes it near impossible to gather nutrients from food that are vital to the body.

My mum's life was ended due to Crohn's 15 years ago. It's so important to me now, because a scary statistic: People who have a first degree relative who have suffered from Crohn's have a 1 in 10 chance of developing it themselves. This is why I eat healthy now, and why I try my best to look after my digestive health. The knowledge of this disease wasn't great over a decade ago, and there were really two options:
  1. Get part of your bowel removed and wear a bag for the rest of your life, or 
  2. Suffer and pray that you go into remission and that when the flare-ups happen you don't die.
Unfortunately, there was such a big stigma with using a colostomy bag that many people who suffered from this refused to go through with that type of operation. My mum was one of them, and would suffer from regular flare ups, with the last one being her demise. 

The biggest issue was that there wasn't enough attention given to this disease. Not enough research, not enough public knowledge, and not enough hope for people suffering from it. 

Another big issue is that 15 years ago, a doctor was telling my mum to drink "Ensure", a meal replacement, during the times where her flare ups made it impossible for her to eat without spending hours in the washroom. Over these times, she lost so much weight that she was unrecognizable to everyone who knew her. Ensure contains dairy and chemicals, that's all. And each time she drank this "doctor recommended" meal replacement, she got worse. He told her to eat yogurt, which also caused more problems. But he insisted that it would help "protect" her stomach and intestines. Also - he would prescribe a new anti-biotic seemingly monthly, and would encourage her to NOT quit smoking as the stress on her body from nicotine withdrawals could trigger stress-related flare ups of the disease. He wouldn't look after her digestive health or suggest a pro-biotic to counteract the anti-biotic, and he wouldn't suggest a dietician for her to see so that she could get a handle on the disease. When I look back now, it seems as though the only thing he was interested in was pumping her full of pills. (I can't even remember the several different medications and pain-killers she was taking.)

Now, at least they know that dairy causes mucous to build up in the intestines and stomach, and is BAD for people who suffer from Crohn's Disease. It creates inflammation, and blocks even the slight amounts of nutrients that the bowel can still absorb from being absorbed.

My wish is that research of this disease continues so that the thousands of people who suffer from it don't go through the same fate as my mum. I'm not a fan of posting bikini pictures to get attention for a cause, but if this helps inspire others who suffer from the disease, and gains exposure for the disease so people take it more seriously and become more educated about it, then I am happy.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

The Best Juice I've Ever Made

I'm not even joking. 

Most of my juice recipes have been quickly uploaded to Instagram (this will be too, of course...), but this particular juice was deserving of a blog post! I went out on a limb with this one, and oh. my. goodness.
It almost tastes like a citrus cream pie, with a burst of spice... It's like the orange was beaten up by the other ingredients, and then they decided to all go into a swimming pool on a hot day.
I don't really know how to describe it, or what to name it, so here goes...

Punch in the Orange

Ingredients and Method: 

  • 2 small oranges, or 1 large one, peeled
  • 1 lemon, peeled
  • 5 small-medium carrots (organic! They taste better, it's a fact!)
  • 1 medium parsnip (trust me on this...)
  • 3" long knob of turmeric (not too thin, not too thick. No jokes please... lol)
  • 1" - 2" long knob of ginger (decently thick chunk, and adjust to how spicy you like things. Not too spicy though, because it will overpower the citrus flavours!)
Juice all of these ingredients in a high-powered juicer! Then, the best part... In a blender, add the juice and then blend in the following ingredients: 
  • 1-2 frozen bananas
  • 1/2 tbsp cinnamon (you can use less if you aren't a big cinnamon fan, but I recommend keeping it to this measurement)
  • 6 small pitted dates (or 2 of the larger ones, pits removed)
  • 1 tbsp of citrus flavoured Ascenta NutraVeg Omega 3 Oil. This stuff is vegan, and it's delicious, and a great way to get your vegan Omega 3s in each day! 
Now blend everything together! 
Then, pour into a glass. Sprinkle a little cinnamon on top, and you're good to drink down the deliciousness of that orange being knocked around by the other ingredients! (They mean well... They're just misunderstood.)

Some quick facts: 
  • Parsnips are a great anti-inflammatory, they're high in fibre, they're considered an antioxidant, and they contain folic acid, iron, calcium, copper, potassium, manganese and phosphorus. Damn, son! These are good. 
  • Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, prevents anemia (I never knew that!), and helps control bad cholesterol. I'm still new to using turmeric, so I'm still learning about it and how to incorporate it into my food in the fresh form (I used to just use powdered). 
Here's some pics of the juice. Because it's a beautiful, beautiful thing. 

The Juice - In All It's Orange Glory

Ascenta NutraVeg Omega 3 Oil

Some happy, happy ingredients - just waiting to be consumed <3

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Ayurvedic Body Type

What is your Ayurvedic Body Type? 

Something Interesting - I did a quiz to see what my craving type was, and it concludes that I fit under the Pitta Dosha type. So I decided to check out what that type is all about... Very interesting!

Here's the info: Pitta Dosha

And here's a quiz: Cravings Quiz by Alex Jamieson

I've never read about this stuff before, so I think I'll look into it a little. It's very mind-body focused, which makes a lot of sense. Our minds are impacted by what we put into our bodies, and our bodies are impacted by what goes on in our mind. It really is a joint effort we have working for us here, eh!

I know a lot of these things are often generalized, and much like horoscopes - anyone can read the descriptions and say "oh, that's me to a T!", but it's still interesting. I personally find I relate a lot to the Pitta Dosha, and not as much to Kapha Dosha... But the Vata Dosha speaks to me as well. I guess I'm "Pitta Vata Dosha". Is there a term for that? Is it similar to being a Leo on the cusp of Cancer (me)?

So much interesting stuff to read about. The world has so many unique things to learn...

Yoga Glow

Have any of you readers out there tried it?

I haven't, but it looks like fun.

I really like going to classes, but I find that on any given day, I can find an excuse not to go.

For the gym - it's different. I have a gym downstairs in my building, PLUS the massive GoodLife location on Yonge St. just north of Sheppard. (Gotta love Toronto for all of the GoodLife locations!) There's literally NO excuse to skip workouts (even when I do, sigh... Lazy Nikki).

But with going to a Yoga Studio, or any types of classes with a set schedule, I find that it's easier for me to make excuses. I got lucky with Yoga Tree in that they have classes I can take right before or right after work, but that then extends my work-day by a couple of hours. It just doesn't work for me on a regular basis. Once in a while is fine, but not every day.

And then there's today. It's 2pm, and I want a nice relaxing Yoga Class. I don't want to leave home and rush to a studio, and I'm in the type of mood where I don't want to be around groups of people because I don't feel comfortable in my mind, body or practice today. So that's where this online streaming of classes comes in.

So I'm going to give it a try, and see how it goes! It's $18 per month which isn't steep at all, and the first 15 days are free to use. You can cancel at any time in those 15 days to not get charged for a first month. (No, I'm not advertising this hahaha...)