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Spicy Food Nutrition | Nutrition Stripped


Is spicy food actually good for us?

From the health benefits to the myths and active compounds, we’re breaking it all down so you know everything you need to about spicy food and nutrition.

Some people love it, others tread lightly, while the rest avoid it at all costs; spicy food preferences differ greatly from person to person.

Yet albeit popular belief, spicy food actually has some pretty great health benefits that come along with the heat.

But before we jump into the benefits, what exactly is going on when we feel that heat?

What Makes Food Spicy

When we hear spicy, we automatically think of heat. Spicy food is hot, right?

Kind of, but not exactly. There are two specific compounds that start a chain of events in the body as soon as spicy food is consumed.

Let’s start with the most prevalent one!

Capsaicin

Capsaicin is a colorless, odorless compound. It naturally occurs in the fruits of plants within the Capsicum family. Think jalapeño peppers, cayenne peppers, serrano peppers, cinnamon and cilantro (the last two in much smaller amounts than the peppers).

This compound is an irritant, meaning it actually triggers pain receptors in your tongue, mouth, and throat. Stay with me! I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds.

Once these receptors relay the message to your brain, it’s actually perceived as heat. Hence the reference of heat with spicy food! This is the brain’s way of telling you to eat or drink something in response to the irritant, or to “put the fire out”.

Capsaicin will actually cause this irritation when it comes into contact with any human tissue, not just the mouth. Ever rub your eye after slicing a jalapeño? Same here, not great.

Allyl isothiocyanate

Allyl isothiocyanate is the second most common compound responsible for the spicy sensation. It’s also colorless but instead has a slightly irritating scent.

As opposed to being innately present such as the case with capsaicin, allyl isothiocyanate is actually created in response to chewing food items with the enzyme myrosinase naturally present.

In this case think wasabi, hot mustard or horseradish. While it’s also found in many cruciferous vegetables, it’s not found in high enough quantities to create the same intense sensation. Due to the fact that this particular chemical is so volatile (essentially meaning it vaporizes really quickly), the flavor and burning sensation hit the nose very fast.

The same pain response is sent to the brain as with capsaicin, but since the majority of its presence is in vapor form, the sensation subsides much more quickly than that of capsaicin!

Health Benefits Of Spicy Foods

This doesn’t exactly sound like it’s good for us, right? We’re tossing around words like pain, heat, and fire. Yet somehow the consumption of spicy food can lead to some pretty substantial health benefits.

Let’s talk about what those health benefits are and how spicy food contributes!

May Reduce Inflammation

Technically speaking, inflammation is a part of the body’s defense mechanism. There are two major types of inflammation, acute and chronic.

For acute inflammation, think of tangible, physical damage or trauma. The inflammation that occurs when you get a cut or break a bone to help protect the body

Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is long term inflammation, that when left untreated, can cause secondary complications and disease states.

Spicy food containing capsaicin has the potential to reduce chronic inflammation (1,2, 3). A reduction of chronic inflammation can reduce the chances of developing complications such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes as well as arthritis.

Wasabi may also reduce chronic inflammation (4, 5). While studies have not yet been conducted on humans, preliminary research is interesting.

Keep in mind that depending upon your specific situation, an addition of spicy food may not be the best idea for reducing inflammation. Always consult your registered dietitian and physician before making any significant adjustments to your diet.

May Promote A Long Life

Who doesn’t want to promote longevity through their diet?

Research has shown that consuming spicy food daily can reduce your chances of death by about 14%, specifically relating to death caused by cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases (4, 5).

May Help Prevent & Possibly Treat Ulcers

Have you ever heard that eating spicy food may cause an ulcer? Technically, this isn’t very truthful.

H. Pylori is the most common cause of peptic ulcers. It’s a type of bacteria found in the stomach. While almost 50% of the world’s population is infected with this bacteria, not everyone will develop an ulcer because of it.

The formation of an ulcer from H.Pylori is often caused by an excess of gastric acid, overuse of NSAIDs (think aspirin, ibuprofen), smoking, stress, and many more lifestyle factors.

Research has shown that capsaicin in spicy food actually inhibits the production of acid in the stomach, ultimately acting as a preventative measure against peptic ulcers (6).

Allyl isothiocyanate may also play a role in treating said ulcers after they develop. Additional human trials must be conducted to further support this conclusion, but some animal-based studies have shown that wasabi may help treat ulcers caused by H. Pylori as well (7, 8).

With all of this being said, every body is different and therefore every person’s diet should be different as well. Depending on your particular situation, there may be some contraindications to these recommendations. Be sure to consult your registered dietitian and physician before making any significant additions or changes to your diet.

May Increase Satiety and Decrease Leptin Resistance

Spicy food has the ability to slightly increase satiety as well as decrease both appetite and leptin resistance (9).

Just to give you a little background, leptin is a hormone that lets us know when we’re feeling full. Therefore, leptin resistance occurs when this process doesn’t happen appropriately and we’re then left feeling hungry all the time.

May Prevent Certain Types Of Cancer-Causing Mechanisms

Last but certainly not least, spicy food has the ability to possibly prevent certain cancer-causing mechanisms.

Capsaicin has been shown to protect against some chemical carcinogens and mutagens (chemicals that have been linked to cancer) (11). Not only this, but mice trials have also shown capsaicin to specifically inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells as well (12).

How Much Is Too Much?

Just as with most other things, too much of anything can be bad.

When it comes to spicy food, you want to be sure to listen to your individual body and do what’s best for you. While spicy food does have quite a few health benefits, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend subsequently adding it to every meal every day after reading this article.

Additionally, there are certain conditions and disease states that call for a reduction or possible elimination of spicy food intake. For example, spicy food may exacerbate symptoms of IBS, IBD, or gastroesophageal reflux in certain individuals. These are just three of the many examples that fall within this category.

As always, be sure to consult your registered dietitian if you’re wondering whether or not spicy food intake is a good choice for you.

NS Recommends

Whether you’re a spicy food lover or completely new to the food group, we have some great recipes for you to try out!

  1. Spicy Tahini Roasted Cauliflower
  2. Spicy Coconut Curry With Sweet Jasmine Rice
  3. Gluten-Free Jalapeño Cornbread

You can also add spice to your old favorites! Try simply topping your dishes with a couple of jalapeño peppers or red pepper flakes. Or maybe use a little wasabi with your next sushi dinner.

A little goes a long way! We recommend starting small and working your way up. Just remember, you can always add a little more heat but you can’t always take it out.

Connect With Us

I would love to hear about your experience with spicy food! What are your favorite ways to incorporate spice into your cooking? Do you enjoy spicy food or would you rather do without?

As always, you can also connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstrippederica@nutritionstripped, #nutritionstripped.





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Wellness

NS TV • How to Create a Self-Care Practice For When You’re Stressed, Overwhelmed or Busy


Having a dedicated self-care practice to slow down, get grounded, and recenter when you notice you’re stressed, overwhelmed, or exceptionally busy can help you care for yourself, and also stay on track with your wellness vision.

But self-care can be the first thing that goes out the window when you’re stressed, busy, or feel spread too thin. We’ve all experienced that before. 

More importantly, having a practice that’s more preventative is really the golden standard I practice myself, coach clients on, and teach our students! 

When you go into auto-pilot, you don’t take time to slow down and give yourself time to rest and restore. 

A self-care practice gives you space to reground and recalibrate.

I’m going to share a simple exercise with you so you can uncover what self-care practice you’ll turn to when you’re feeling stressed, out-of-balance, overwhelmed or any other emotion that indicates you need to slow down.

After watching, grab my guide for creating healthy habits with ease that will help you put this into practice!

I think of self-care as the acts of love you show for yourself in order to take care of yourself. We need to show up for ourselves fully in order to show up for others in our lives and within our community and the greater good of the world.

Sometimes this may look like making a warming cup of tea, putting on your favorite pajamas, going outside to be in nature, and reading a book.

It could be the meal planning you’re doing on the weekend or making sure you have a super nourishing meal that fuels your body. 

It could be saying no and setting firmer boundaries, or sleeping in on the weekend, or my favorite spending time outside in nature to breathe in the fresh air.

Your definition of self-care will be different because we all live different lifestyles, have different priorities and challenges, the key is knowing what yours are and coming up with a toolkit to help you get realigned if you find yourself stressed or off-track. 

Try this exercise: grab a paper and pen and ask yourself the following questions. Write down whatever comes to you, and let the thoughts flow onto paper: 

  • What’s your favorite thing to do by yourself? 
  • If you had a whole day to yourself, what would you do? 
  • What things calm you when you’re feeling frazzled? 
  • What things ground you when you’re feeling out of control?
  • If you’ve had a long day at work, how do you chill?

Pull this paper out the next time you feel yourself getting off the self-care wagon and need a little recentering. 

Having a practice prepared ahead of time can take away the mental fatigue of trying to figure out how to best support yourself. 

And here’s a bonus tip! I recommend scheduling a weekly calendar appointment with a reminder on your phone to do your self-care practice. It’s great to have the practice to turn to when you’re feeling off, but it’s even better if you can give yourself this space on a regular basis to recenter each week.

Putting Self-Care Into Practice

Having a practice prepared ahead of time can take away the mental fatigue of trying to figure out how to best support yourself.

If making your self-care practice a habit sounds like something you want to explore deeper, grab my guide for creating healthy habits with ease! I walk you through my process for finding exactly what will work for you and how you can integrate it into your life and make it last over time. 

If you liked this video, let me know by sharing your biggest takeaway and be sure to follow or subscribe for more videos like this.



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Wellness

Guide To Eating Dairy Free


Your guide to eating dairy free – how to implement it in your own life, why people choose to do it and the positive impact it may have.

We’re hearing more and more about people choosing to maintain a dairy-free lifestyle. From wellness bloggers to your favorite aunt or even your best friend, I’m sure someone in your life has mentioned they were giving it a go.

While eating dairy-free may be “trending” at the moment, there are quite a few legitimate implications for the diet, as well as many possible nutrition benefits.

Whether you’re new to eating dairy-free or considering making the adjustment, here we’ll walk you through everything you need to know!

What Is Dairy?

Dairy is technically anything that contains or is made from cow’s milk.

Think of traditional milk (whole, skim, buttermilk or the various percents), cheese, cream cheese, butter, ice cream, and yogurt.

This also includes products that are made with these food items, such as dips, dressings, desserts, baked goods and many more.

Why Eat Dairy Free?

People generally choose to maintain a dairy-free lifestyle for one of the following four reasons: medical circumstances, nutrition implications, ethical considerations or skincare.

Dairy intake may exacerbate the symptoms of many disease states and intolerances. Lactose intolerance and ulcerative colitis are just a couple of examples of this. There are also some indications that dairy intake may increase the chances of developing prostate and stomach cancer (1,2).

Additionally, dairy can be a significant source of saturated fat, which has been linked to elevated LDL cholesterol levels (“bad” cholesterol), cardiovascular disease and higher overall serum cholesterol levels (3). Some choose to avoid dairy in order to reduce overall saturated fat intake.

Many people may also choose not to consume dairy because they do not want to support the unethical treatment and production methods utilized by dairies. Currently, about 80% of the United States’ milk production is a result of factory farming (4). To read more about the industry, check out our article on the ethics behind factory farming.

Lastly, in recent years there has been some buzz about dairy consumption and acne. Some recent studies suggest that consumption of dairy products may result in an increased likelihood of developing acne over time (5).

Should I Eat Dairy Free?

So how do you know if you should be eating dairy-free?

Unless you’re avoiding dairy consumption for ethical reasons, your best bet is to talk to a licensed professional.

If you have a medical condition that you’re trying to manage or are simply wondering whether or not dairy is right for you, talk to a registered dietitian who can help you to determine what is best for your body and your specific needs.

If acne is your concern, seek out a board-certified dermatologist in your area who can help you determine the right path for you.

Guide To Eating Dairy Free

After you’ve determined that eating dairy-free is right for you – where should you start?

Depending on how reliant you are on dairy, it may seem pretty daunting to suddenly remove all dairy products from your diet.

Instead of abruptly removing all dairy products and resorting to your other food groups, finding viable substitutes can make the transition much easier.

Dairy Substitutes

Here are some of our favorite substitutes for traditional dairy products!

Milk

Most grocery stores are packed with non-dairy milk for you to try out. Almond, cashew, oat, hemp, soy, coconut and rice milk are some of the most common. When shopping for milk substitutes, try to stick to unsweetened versions whenever you can.

Don’t forget that you can always make homemade nut and seed milk too!

Cheese & Cream Cheese

Dairy-free cheese products are a great way to keep that creamy mouthfeel in your favorite meals.

Always look for the certified vegan label when shopping for these products. That immediately tells you it’s dairy-free so you don’t need to double-check the nutrition label. If on the other hand, you don’t see that indication, just flip the product over and check out the nutrition label.

Whey, casein and sodium caseinate are all proteins derived from dairy. Just be sure you don’t see any of these ingredients, then you’re good to go.

You can also make dairy-free cheese right at home – this almond ricotta is one of our favorites!

Yogurt

Almond, cashew and coconut yogurts are great alternatives to dairy yogurt. Just as with plant-based milk, try and select unsweetened versions as often as you can.

You can always add some fruit, granola or even a little raw honey to add some dimension to the flavor.

Chia seed pudding can also be a great way to switch it up!

Butter

If you’re not eating butter, oftentimes you can use other sources of fat in its place. Olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are great options! You can cook your eggs in them or even season and sauté your veggies with them.

And don’t forget about nut and seed butters, these are great on toast or with crackers.

If you’re looking for a buttered toast type of feel, there are some great plant-based butter products out there today. Just be sure to check out that ingredient list first!

You want to avoid substitute butter that has hydrogenated ingredients or have an excess of added sugar.

Dressings & Dips

Many of these products are traditionally prepared with dairy. Thankfully, there are a few tricks and products we can use to navigate them when eating dairy-free.

Avocado is one of our favorite substitutes for dairy in dips and dressings. Whether you’re buying one of these products or making them at home, you can always count on a good avocado alternative.

We also love using cashews to get that creamy texture, like in this dairy-free queso or this lemon cashew cheese dip.

Label Reading When Eating Dairy Free

An easy trick for always ensuring that your products truly are dairy-free is to check out the allergen section of the nutrition label.

The FDA has created a Food Allergen Label Law that requires all manufacturers to denote when any of the top 8 food allergens (milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soy) are present in their products.

When reading labels, look towards the bottom of the label for the title “contains:”, if you see milk listed there, you know the product is not dairy-free. If on the other hand dairy is not listed, you should be in the clear.

Will I Be Nutritionally Deficient?

The short answer to this is no.

Vitamin D and calcium are the primary nutrients I hear about when someone is debating whether or not to removing dairy from their diet. Yes, your intake of these vitamins and minerals may decrease if you were previously consuming dairy regularly, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way!

You can also find small amounts of Vitamin D in fatty fish, egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified foods. If you’re living in a state where sunlight is a rarity at certain times of the year, you may also want to consider a supplement (whether you’re consuming dairy products or not!).

Calcium is found in seeds, sardines, salmon, almonds, beans, lentils, greens, edamame, tofu and more! There are plenty of ways for you to maintain adequate calcium levels without dairy.

With that being said, everyone is different. Always consult your health care practitioners before making any major decisions about your health.

Does Eating Dairy-Free Work?

If you have a medical or nutrition implication for maintaining a dairy-free diet, I can say with certainty that it truly will be worth your while.

It may seem like a big lifestyle change, but the benefits you can reap truly are amazing. Not only does the research show this, but I’ve also experienced this first hand with many of my clients.

Let’s take one of my ulcerative colitis clients as an example. She came to me with biweekly flare-ups even though she was diligently taking medication daily prescribed by her doctor. Based on her particular situation, I ended up recommending a dairy-free diet as well as additional diet and lifestyle changes. One month later, she had not experienced a single flare up and felt astronomically better.

If your dietitian recommends eating dairy free for an ailment you’re dealing with – trust them! The benefits undoubtedly outweigh the inconvenience of it all. If you’re dealing with a disease state or nutritional implication for a dairy-free diet and are looking for guidance from a dietitian, we would love to help you out.

Additionally, plant-based alternatives to dairy products aren’t just for people eating dairy-free! They’re a great way to add some variety and introduce new nutrients to anyone’s diet.

NS Recommends

Here are some of our favorite dairy-free recipes for you to get started with!

Connect With Us

I would love to hear from you – what has your experience been with dairy-free eating? I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who would love to hear about your experience too. As always, you can connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstripped@nutritionstrippederica, #nutritionstripped and #nswellnesscoaching.





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Wellness

How To Make Any Salad Delicious


A step-by-step guide for how to make any homemade salad delicious.

Let’s be honest, homemade salads don’t necessarily have the best reputation. We’ve all pushed a sad pile of greens around a plate once or twice before!

But think about those gourmet salads you can get at a restaurant — pretty delicious, right? We’re here to tell you that you can easily make these beautiful salads right at home.

We’ll teach you one step at a time how to make a delicious, nutritious salad in your own kitchen.

How To Make Any Salad Delicious

Salads are a great staple you can rely on. They’re perfect for work lunches, lazy dinners and can even be used as a side. Once mastered, they’re a quick, convenient way to pack a whole meal into one bowl.

A great dish must have a balance of interesting flavors and textures. Salads are no exception! By the time you finish this article you’ll have the skills and tools you’ll need to create a well-balanced, delicious salad.

Step 1: Use A Base You Actually Enjoy

Yes, when we think about a traditional salad we immediately picture a plate of greens with some vegetables and dressing mixed in. But does every salad have to start with a plate of greens? Absolutely not.

Start with a base you really enjoy. If leafy greens aren’t your style, try a whole grain like farro, quinoa or millet. You can even keep the grain warm for a warm winter salad bowl. Or maybe you’d enjoy a bean-based salad even more – you don’t have to do anything, only choose items you enjoy!

When using greens, be sure to keep things interesting. Instead of reaching for the typical head of ice burg lettuce, try something with a bit more flavor. You can even mix different leafy greens together like baby spinach and arugula or kale and romaine.

Lastly, don’t forget to season your base. While the dressing will introduce some flavor, seasoning your greens with a bit of salt and pepper makes a world of a difference.

Step 2: Use Herbs & Spices

Don’t forget to use herbs and spices in your salad! We always remember to add that touch of basil or dash of pepper to our other favorite recipes, but when it comes to salads we often tend to forget.

Herbs (especially fresh herbs) can add wonderful depth and complexity to your salads, not to mention a boost of nutrients. Try adding some cilantro, basil, chives or parsley to your next homemade salad!

When it comes to spices, choose options that you tend to gravitate towards in other areas of the kitchen. If you like heat, toss in some red pepper flakes or maybe a little cayenne pepper. Or if Greek is more your style, try some dried oregano and thyme instead.

There’s no wrong way to do it. Just play around with some different combinations until you find what works best for you!

Step 3: Make Your Own Dressing

If we’re teaching you how to make a delicious salad at home, we need to touch on the homemade dressing.

A homemade dressing can have a huge impact on the flavor profile of your salad.

If you’re new to making dressings at home, a classic vinaigrette is a great place to start. Olive oil will start off as your base, then add in the vinegar of your choosing (balsamic, red wine, you name it!). Use a three to one ratio of oil to vinegar.

From here, you can add in any little boosts of flavor that sound good to you – dijon mustard, garlic, honey, you name it! If you’re looking for a more concrete place to start, you can use our definitive guide to salad dressings.

Step 4: Think Beyond Dressing For Fat

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I need more than just a salad, no way that will keep me full!”? We’re willing to bet at least once.

There are two things you can do to ensure that your salad is not only delicious but also filling.

First, be sure to use full-fat dressing. Non-fat and low-fat dressings take away the good, healthy fats we’re looking for here. Fat is our primary source of satiety, without it, we’re left hungry, craving-ridden and unsatisfied.

Second, add some additional fat to your salad. You can top it with some sliced up avocado, roasted almonds or maybe even some smoked salmon.

Fat gives a complex, creamy mouthfeel and a boost of flavor, so don’t be afraid to add a bit more on top.

Step 5: Be Sure To Add Some Crunch

You want to ensure your salad has some variety in terms of texture. If the entire salad is soft and soggy, chances are you’re going to get really bored really fast.

Use a mixture of raw and cooked vegetables to add some complexity. The raw vegetables will give some turgor and crunch to the salad while the cooked vegetables will enhance the flavor.

Don’t be afraid to add some crunch on top, too! Roasted nuts and seeds like almonds, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts, and pumpkin seeds are great. You can even add a bit of toasted coconut for a more tropical, summery flavor.

Whatever you choose, just be sure to mix it up. The more uniform the salad is, the quicker you’ll get tired of it.

Step 6: Variety Is Key

I know when I find something I love, I stick with it.

While it’s great to have some trustworthy go-to recipes to rely on, we don’t want to overdo it. Try and switch up your recipes and try new ingredients as much as possible. This will keep you from falling into an inevitable salad rut where you never want to see another salad again.

Simply switching up the dressing or protein source can make it feel like a completely new salad. You can even use pesto as a dressing to give it a thick, creamy texture!

NS Recommends

You’re almost ready to start creating your own delicious salads! To help you along the way, here are some of our favorite tools for preparing and storing salads:

Recipes To Try

Now that you’ve got the basics down pat, here are some recipes you can use to test out your skills and get some inspiration!

Connect With Us

Show us your cooking skills on Instagram!

The next time you make a delicious salad at home, share it with us! You can show us by tagging us on Instagram with @nutritionstrippederica and @nutritionstripped or you can share it with the Nutrition Stripped community by tagging #nutritionstripped or #nswellnesscoaching.

We can’t wait to see your delicious salads!





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Wellness

Double-Dutch Chocolate Skillet Cookie | Nutrition Stripped


How to make baking cookies even easier? Make it a skillet cookie.

If you’ve been on Instagram lately, then I’m sure you’ve been hit with the skillet cookie and skillet brownie craze. We’re joining in on the fun because hey, who doesn’t need another gluten-free and vegan-friendly skillet cookie recipe to try and share?

This Double-Dutch Chocolate Skillet Cookie is gluten-free friendly and vegan-friendly (great for those with food allergies) so you can share it with all your friends and family for any special occasion, or if you just want a sweet treat around in the house.

This is also a great dessert option for those of you who really love chocolate! This Double-Dutch Chocolate Skillet Cookie is as the name says, double the chocolate by using cocoa powder to make the cookie batter chocolate and contains dark chocolate chips to really seal the deal.

What Is A Skillet Cookie?

A skillet cookie or a skillet brownie is a cookie or a brownie made in a skillet which is typically cast-iron. The popularity of this dessert recipe is because of the beautiful presentation, but also because making a skillet cookie requires slightly less effort. Instead of rolling out individual cookies or creating drop cookies, you simply pour the entire cookie or brownie batter into a well-greased cast-iron skillet and bake.

There are several ways you can enjoy this Double-Dutch Chocolate Skillet Cookie from serving it with fresh sliced strawberries, a dollop of your favorite whipped cream, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream to really take it to the top.

A little bit goes a long way in terms of the portion size here! Because you can technically use this exact recipe to make drop cookies which would yield about 24 cookies (I’d say for most of us 2 cookies would be an appropriate serving), just be mindful of the triangles you cut. If you ever need support on what portions and serving sizes are right for your unique body, be sure to check out my free framework workshop where I share information on that!

Stripped

Cocoa and chocolate

Chocolate has many health-related benefits, most of them coming from an active compound in cacao, called theobromine. Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid that acts as a natural vasodilator (a.k.a. dilates your blood vessels to allow more blood flow and oxygen), a diuretic (a.k.a. increasing urination to rid the body of excess fluids), and a heart stimulant.

You can see how these benefits just mentioned can have a positive effect on reducing high blood pressureheart healthcholesterol-lowering benefits, PMS, and possible mental focus/acuity.

Chocolate and cocoa contain:

  • Calcium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sodium
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc
  • Theobromine } 2057mg/100g
    • Darker varieties of chocolate will contain higher amounts of theobromine compared to milk/lighter chocolates.
  • Flavonoids



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Wellness

What Is Seed Cycling? | Nutrition Stripped


The newest hormone-balancing diet trend. From the diet’s guidelines to the true science behind it all, we’re giving you the full scoop on seed cycling.

Chances are if you’ve been on social media within the wellness realm lately, you’ve seen a post or two referencing seed cycling. It’s one of the newest diet trends claiming to help balance hormones in order to increase fertility as well as modulate unwanted menopause and menstrual cycle symptoms.

We all know that seeds are packed with nutrients, but are they the key to hormone-balancing success? Let’s find out!

What Is Seed Cycling?

Seed cycling (sometimes referred to as seed syncing as well) is a naturopath-derived eating pattern. The diet recommends eating certain seeds in specific amounts during designated phases of your menstrual cycle.

The first 14 days of your menstrual cycle are referred to as the follicular phase (or phase 1) while the following 14 days are referred to as the luteal phase (or phase 2).

The diet also recognizes that not all menstrual cycles are regular. For those with a shorter cycle or irregular cycle, many naturopaths recommend following the phases of the moon as a general guideline. In this case, day 1 of your cycle would begin with the new moon.

Followers are suggested to abide by the diet for at least 3 months to see optimal results.

Seed Cycling Guidelines

Before we dive into the why and how let’s walk through the basic guidelines of the diet.

Seed Cycling Phase 1

On days 1-14 of your cycle, the diet recommends consuming a tablespoon or two of raw ground pumpkin and flax seeds.

Seed Cycling Phase 2

On days 14-28 of your cycle, the diet recommends consuming a tablespoon or two of raw ground sunflower and sesame seeds.

Why Are We Eating Seeds?

So we’ve got the logistics down — the concept of seed cycling suggests to consume specified seeds for designated periods of time during our menstrual cycle. But why seeds?

Supposedly, the nutrient composition of said seeds will positively impact your menstrual cycle.

In order to fully understand this diet, we need to first review the phases of the menstrual cycle as well as how seed intake may impact them.

Hormones And The Menstrual Cycle

In a normal menstrual cycle, two phases occur which directly impact hormone production in the body.

P.S. This is a greatly simplified description of the menstrual cycle – the purpose is just to give you an idea of what hormones are being produced when.

The Follicular Phase

The first phase of the cycle starts on the first day of your period. During this phase, the amount of estrogen in the body increases as the eggs in the ovaries mature.

The rise of estrogen is a result of the release of the follicle-stimulating hormone by the hypothalamus (essentially the control center for hormones). The purpose of this rise in estrogen is to strengthen the uterine lining to prepare for a pregnancy.

Following the rise in estrogen, estrogen production slows due to a rise in luteinizing hormone and a decrease of follicle-stimulating hormone.

The Luteal Phase

The second half or phase of the cycle begins once an egg has been released. At this point, levels of progesterone will increase. The purpose of the increase in progesterone is to make it easier for a fertilized egg to implant in the uterus.

If pregnancy does not occur during this phase, progesterone levels will subsequently decrease and the cycle will start all over again.

Seeds And Hormones In Seed Cycling

This next part is where the seeds come in. Generally speaking, it all comes down to how eating seeds impacts the major hormones in the menstrual cycle – estrogen and progesterone.

Lignans

According to seed cycling promoters, the key player in seeds is the lignan family. Lignans are a type of polyphenol found in seeds. They’re also found in other plant-based food items such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

Lignans are a dietary source of phytoestrogens.

Phytoestrogens are commonly referred to as ‘dietary estrogens’. Phytoestrogens have a very similar chemical makeup to estrogen, allowing them to act similarly to estrogen in the body when consumed (1).

Seed cyclers essentially believe the phytoestrogens found in pumpkin, flax, sunflower and sesame seeds can facilitate the increase and decrease of estrogen and progesterone accordingly throughout their cycle.

More specifically, when flax and pumpkin seeds are consumed during the first half of the cycle, they will promote the increase of estrogen. Then when phase 2 takes place where sesame and sunflower seeds are eaten daily, this will help encourage accurate progesterone levels.

Zinc

Many seed cycle proponents also mention zinc in their explanation for using the chosen seeds at their chosen times. Particularly in flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.

It is believed to help increase levels of estrogen during phase 1 and increase progesterone levels in phase 2.

Vitamin E

The vitamin E content of sunflower seeds is also mentioned as a contributing component. It supposedly increases progesterone levels in phase 2.

Who Is Seed Cycling For?

Now that we understand the supposed benefits of seed cycling, who is this diet specifically for? It’s recommended for those who have hormonal disorders such as PCOS or infertility.

The diet is also often suggested to those with irregular periods, extreme PMS symptoms, endometriosis and women experiencing menopause to help decrease symptoms and regularize periods.

Should You Try Seed Cycling?

Are seeds healthy for us? Absolutely. Do we recommend ‘seed cycling’ for hormone balance? Not necessarily, and let me explain why.

Health Benefits Of Seed Intake

Yes, lignans are present in seeds. More specifically, flax seeds and sesame seeds have the highest amount of lignans present out of all food items to date (2).

Additionally, clinically speaking, phytoestrogens are often associated with the possible prevention of heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer and high blood pressure in postmenopausal women (3, 4, 5).

Excellent!

Ultimate Lack Of Research

Even still, the full understanding of phytoestrogens and their impact on said disease states is not yet fully understood (6). There is even some research that has shown that phytoestrogens have an insignificant impact on the cycle of premenopausal women (7).

As far as zinc and vitamin E are concerned, while vitamin E has been associated with a decrease in PMS symptoms, it was through supplementation as opposed to seed intake (8). They’re vital components to a healthy diet, but neither of them has been directly associated with estrogen or progesterone level production (9).

Furthermore, there is currently no significant research on the recommended seed cycling guidelines. There is also minimal evidence proving a significant impact on hormone levels from seed intake in general.

In our opinion, there just isn’t enough research out there to warrant a form recommendation for seed cycling to balance hormones specifically.

The Bottom Line

There isn’t enough research that specifically proves a connection between cycle-timed seed intake and improved hormone levels.

Should you still consume flax, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds? Of course! They’re all packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Seeds have been proven time and time again to positively impact your health.

They can help keep your heart healthy, digestion on track, cholesterol levels in check and even boost satiety after meals.

We just don’t necessarily believe following a seed cycling protocol is the key to your menstrual cycle woes. Should you try it then? Absolutely! But again, for the reason to reep the nutrient benefits of seeds, not necessarily for the purpose of balancing your hormones.

What To Do Next

While seed cycling may not be the answer to your current predicament, there are so many other diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help balance and maintain ideal hormone levels.

Everyone is different, therefore everyone’s diet and lifestyle interventions need to be individual as well. Whether you’re looking to manage your PMS symptoms, work through PCOS or infertility, working with a trained health professional is your best bet.

A registered dietitian can walk through your diet and lifestyle habits to help you determine the best plan moving forward. Click here to work with our team! 

What Are Your Thoughts on Seed Cycling?

I would love to hear from you – what has your experience been with seed cycling?  Had you heard of it before? Maybe you tried it out for yourself?

I’m sure there are plenty of others out there who would love to hear about your experiences as well! As always, you can also connect with us on Instagram via @nutritionstripped@nutritionstrippederica, #nutritionstripped and #nswellnesscoaching.





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Crispy Homestyle Breakfast Potatoes | Nutrition Stripped


These Crispy Homestyle Breakfast Potatoes are the one-pan no-fuss meal that has us excited to get out of bed in the morning!

Chances are you have had some version of this recipe before. The concept of roasted potatoes and veggies together in perfect harmony is by no means unfamiliar territory. Some of my earliest memories are of digging potatoes in the garden with my mother and knowing that the final product would be well worth the effort!

We love to whip up a big batch of these crispy potatoes and veggies early in the week, store them in our favorite glass containers. and enjoy them for days to come. Breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In other words, these Crispy Homestyle Breakfast Potatoe are the perfect recipe to incorporate into your batch-cooking repetoiré. They are packed with healthy vitamins and nutrients, and easy to reheat and enjoy.

 

Stripped

Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers don’t get nearly enough attention for their vitamin C content! They contain almost double the amount that oranges and citrus fruits contain. Try incorporating them with iron-rich foods to help increase the non-heme or plant-based iron sources.

Red bell peppers also contain large amounts of carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C, which together provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. They also contain great amounts of fiber which helps support digestion, keeps us fuller for a longer period of time and releases a steady flow of energy.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been shown to help support the immune system due to their high amounts of minerals, especially selenium, zinc, and manganese. All of these minerals are incredibly important for immune function.

Mushrooms also contain unique molecules that help prevent oxidative damage to our DNA cells and proteins. Mushrooms are great for fighting inflammation in the body, such as in type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

Balance is Key

We love to start our day off with a perfectly balanced breakfast, and so should you! Here are some of our favorite breakfast recipes that go perfectly with these Crispy Homestyle Breakfast Potatoes.



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Teen Positivity With: Mar Clark

Hello everyone we had the chance to interview Mar who is big on teens being positive. It’s kinda unique because her message about teen positivity is very strong and affective.

She is very kind hearted and passionate about what she does. She currently has 4k followers on instagram make sure to go to her page and go through it.

How old are you?

17

Your big on teen positivity how do you help your followers stay positive?

Everyday I post something positive for my followers to read. Whether it’s a quick reminder or advice!

Why do you believe teen positivity is so important?

Teen positivity is very important because there is so much negativity and cruelty that surrounds us everyday. Many teenagers are bullied either on social media or in school. I was once struggling and felt so alone. My goal is to bring more positivity into the world and help those who may be struggling. I want to remind them that they are NEVER alone! 

Do you have any advice for teens in your field? 

My advice is if you have a positive mindset there will always be a positive outcome! I live by this everyday. Also, never give up because anything is possible. encourage yourself to follow your dreams! on YOU can accomplish what YOU want to in life! Thank you for reading this:)

If you liked this article checkout our recent interview with Teen Products Seller: Alexa Ober.

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Child Prodigies Renee Mendonca & Rhea Mendonca Are Trailblazers In The Anti-Vaping Campaign Globally

HOW DID YOU START WINGS OF HOPE?

We started WINGS OF HOPE at the age of 10. Death of our beloved Grandpa, who was our CONFIDANTE, FRIEND and ROLE MODEL due to Pulmonary Fibrosis crumbled our lives.

He was a chain smoker from the age of 14. From that day, we vowed to save young lives caught in trauma due to addictions. This is how WINGS OF HOPE was born.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO  LAUNCH AMERICAN CHAPTER OF WINGS OF HOPE?

Recently when we immigrated to the United States. We were spending sleepless nights, as we observed our underage peers vaping E-Cigarettes. When we conducted a survey, we were baffled to find that out of 3,000 students, 97% use flavoured E- Cigarettes, 90% vaped Juul, 85% of the ages of 12 – 17 year olds vape.

Our classrooms were transformed into VAPING DENS. My twin sister Renee Mendonca and I, Rhea Mendonca felt that we couldn’t remain silent anymore and watch the youth being robbed of their lives due to this evil addiction of Vaping E- Cigarettes. This inspired us to form the American Chapter of Wings of Hope.

WHAT TRIGGERED YOU TO WRITE TO PRESIDENT TRUMP, GOVERNORS OF 50 STATE IN USA, ?

The death of our 17 year Instagram friend due to VAPING left us devastated. So we took matters into our hands by putting pen to paper and started writing letters to President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Governors of the 50 States in America demanding to ban E- Cigarettes in whole of USA.

We received letters of appreciation from Governors of the 50 States in America.

Due to the magnitude of our actions, we realised at the age of 16, it created a SNOWBALL EFFECT. New York was the First State to ban Flavoured E-Cigarettes, followed by 10 States in America.

WHAT EFFECT DID YOUR LETTER HAVE ON E-CIGARETTE COMPANY JUUL?

We accidentally came across the advertisement by E-Cigarette Company, JUUL on Social Media “SAVE ROOM FOR TASTY TREATS AND REWARDS”.

We wrote a letter to E-Cigarette Company, JUUL, them expressing our disapproval how they were using social media to target underage teenagers where Middle and High School students live.

We also protested about the sweet dessert flavours they were using such as Gummy Bears, Cotton Candy, Creme, Mango to entice teenagers and hook them to Nicotine. It was a JESUS MOMENT for us.

We felt we were like MISSIONARIES sent to America to save lives of youth due to VAPING. E-Cigarette Company, JUUL withdrew all Social Media Marketing Campaigns and flavored pods targeted at youth. 

HOW DID TO TURN INTO STRONG OPINIONATED YOUNG LEADERS?

At the Dinner table, my mom would throw at us different Global issues and each of us had to give our opinion. This developed us into young leaders who were not afraid to voice our  opinion and to stand up for injustice in this world. 

HOW CAN VAPING ADDICTS CONTACT YOU?

Wings of Hope is a youth led organisation to help youth all over the world. Till date we have helped 1,50,000 youth from USA, UK, Nigeria, South  Africa, Kenya, Nicaragua, Haiti, Mexico, Columbia, Cuba, Congo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Australia and India.

The vaping addicts can send us a SECRET LETTER about the trauma they are facing and ask for help on on our INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT @wings_ofhope and Email- wingsofhope555@gmail.com 

HOW DO YOU SPREAD AWARENESS OF DANGERS OF VAPING?

We share our wisdom on QUORA, MEDIUM and write on international teen magazines to caution the youth of dangers of VAPING.

We also utilized the use social media to spread awareness to the youth. We also made youtube videos urging President Donald Trump, E-Cigarette Companies to STOP E-  Cigarettes in whole of USA.

I HAVE HEARD YOU HAVE COMPOSED YOUR OWN LYRICS TO SPREAD MESSAGE OF ANTI-VAPING?

WE KNOW YOUTH LOVE MUSIC. SO WE USED OUR TALENT OF WRITING AND SINGING TO COMPOSE OUR OWN LYRICS AND “ BREAK FREE FROM ADDICTIONS” to inspire the youth to choose LIFE and give up VAPING. SING A SONG.

WHAT WAS SPECIAL OF YOUR 17TH BIRTHDAY?

For our 17th birthday we traded our birthday presents to save the lives of the youth addicted to vaping by asking all our friends, relatives and well wishers to donate to our favorite charity ST JUDE HOSPITAL as our BIRTHDAY GIFT.

We felt truly blessed to celebrate our birthday – FOR A  WORTHY CAUSE BIGGER THAN OURSELVES. We raised $1,50,000 dollars.

WHAT INVALUABLE GIFT DID U GET FROM YOUR MOM?.

At the beginning of every school year my mom would handover us an EMPTY BUCKET.

My mom said, “Everyday I want you to fill this bucket with a minimum of 10 GOOD DEEDS”

At the end of the day, she would ask us what good deeds we have done towards our peers, teachers, blue-collared staff, strangers and animals. This ritual imbibed in us a practice of being an angel in our community. Doing good came naturally to us.

How do u celebrate THANKSGIVING?

We had a special RITUAL at THANKSGIVING. At the begnining of the year, each of us had a GRATITUDE JAR with our name on it.

Every morning we had to write a minimum of 10 things we are grateful for and drop it in the Gratitude Jar before rushing off to school.

At Thanksgiving we would empty our jar and read aloud what each one is grateful for.

It was a competition. My mom was the judge for the event. The person with most items in the GRATITUDE JAR won a PRIZE.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE NIGHT RITUAL? 

From the age of 3 at bedtime, my mom she would always share with us life lessons and stories of great women and men like Mother Theresa, Bill Gates, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela.

We grew up believing we were sent to this world with a MISSION TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THIS WORLD. This is our favourite NIGHT RITUAL TILL DATE. We look forward to this time together. It is a time of bonding, sharing and celebrating the good in this world. 

HOW DO U FEEL WINNING THE INTERNATIONAL UN YOUTH SERVICE AWARD FOR EXCEPTIONAL COMMUNITY SERVICE GLOBALLY?

We feel honored and happy to receive the AWARD. We do not do it for the recognition, but do it to save the lives of youth caught in the web of vaping. Our hearts break into a million pieces every time we read that a youth has died due to vaping.

BIOGRAPHY: 

Rhea Mendonca and Renee Mendonca, 17 year old twins are social entrepreneurs, activists, humanitarians, composer and singer of songs.

They are currently  Seniors at Susan E Wagner high school. They are Co- Founders of Wings of Hope, a Global Not For Profit Organisation, Co-Founder and President of Model UN Club in their School.

They are advisors on QUORA, writers for the International Teen Magazine, Youtubers, Bloggers at Medium.

They have podcasts about our Wings of Hope, Not For Profit on spotify, apple podcasts, itunes. So far, Wings of Hope  has helped 1,50,000 youth from countries like Haiti, Africa, Nicaragua, Srilanka, Pakistan, India addicted to VAPING. 

When children of their age were playing with toys, riding bikes, playing video games Renee and Rhea every Sunday used to spend their time visiting ORPHANAGES, HOMES OF DESTITUTE GIRLS AND terminally ill AIDS home giving motivational talks to orphans in destitute and aids home from the age of ten. 

Mendonca twins, Renee Mendonca and Rhea Mendonca besides holding Leadership roles in their school are HONOR ROLL STUDENTS and belong to the prestigious NATIONAL HONORS SOCIETY. They are Mathematics and Science National Level Olympiads Champions.

If you liked this article checkout our article about vaping: Is vaping good for teenagers?

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What are the benefits of eating fewer carbs?

Keeping Fit And Trim With A Low Carb Diet

They say that losing weight and keeping it off is tough, but the good news is that there is a way to keep obesity at bay without going hungry.

Despite the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noting that nearly one in five children/youths aged six to 19 in America has obesity, teens don’t need to go hungry to feel their very best.

One diet you may have read a lot about is the ‘keto’ or low carbohydrate diet. For many teens, it’s attractive because you don’t have to count calories and you can easily eat out without having to tell anyone you’re on a diet. Is the low carb diet effective though? What does science say?

Low Carb Diets Can Help You Burn More Calories

Although the emphasis of diets like keto are on consuming low percentages of carbohydrates, weight loss can be enhanced if you also burn more calories.

A 2018 study by scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital found that eating fewer carbohydrates can help you burn more calories, thus aiding in weight maintenance as well as weight loss.

If you have successfully taken off excess pounds, take note: most people regain the weight they have lost in one to two years, partly because their body adapts to eating fewer calories.

By adding low carb in to the equation, you can boost your metabolism and keep weight off in the long-term. Eating low carb can also stand you in good stead when you reach adulthood.

This is because as a teen, your metabolism is faster than it will be when you hit your 30s, 40s or 50s. By becoming accustomed to a low-sugar, high-protein style of eating, you can keep your internal machine running at full steam ahead, thus keeping adult obesity at bay.

Start Your Day With A Low Carb Breakfast

Your body is still growing, and if you do sport at school or on an extra-curricular basis, you will need plenty of energy throughout the day.

The good news about low carb diets is that they can help you battle fatigue and keep energy levels stable all day.

University of British Columbia study found that having a high protein, low-carb diet can help keep your glucose levels stable, not only for the hours following breakfast, but also for a full 24 hours.

This means that you are less likely to feel fatigued and to reach for unhealthy, sugary foods to give you a lift. One of the best things about a low carb breakfast is how easy it is to make.

A spinach or mixed veggie omelette can be made in under five minutes, yet is super yummy. You can also have a cheat breakfast once in a while, following lazy keto principles and enjoying foods like bacon and eggs, or a low-carb muffin topped with melted cheese.

Lazy keto essentially involves keeping your carbohydrate content to under 20 grams a day.

Is Low Carb The Only Solution?

In order to lose weight, it’s important to find a diet that most suits your lifestyle. Research has shown that low calorie diets and low carb diets can be equally efficient.

The key is to be consistent and to back a sound nutritional regimen with daily physical activity. Aim for a combination of cardio and weights workouts to build muscles and burn calories.

Doctors recommend that teens aged 13 to 18 enjoy at least one hour of moderate to vigorous activity a day. At the very least, you should be aiming for three half-hour sessions.

Think activities that might appeal to your friends as well – including dance, cycling, and choreographed weights routines.

This way, you can head to the gym together for a workout and a healthy low-carb smoothie afterwards.

If you would like to lose a little weight, think about the different options open to you. Sometimes, simply being more active can help tone and shape you in the way you wish.

If obesity is an issue, then embrace a healthy diet, consulting with your parents and doctor on an appropriate and ‘doable’ duty for your lifestyle.

Written By: Katlyn Upson

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