I’m a big fan of John Oliver’s commentaries, as evidenced by this previous post about r vs. the food industry. And while it may have been more appropriate to show a picture of John Oliver, it was more amusing to me to use the photo I used, and you’ll understand when you watch this video about John Oliver & his thoughts about sugar.
If you’re unfamiliar with what exactly the image is, it is in fact, a ‘Circus Peanut’ – a horribly sweet confection that is marshmallow-y in texture, and each one contains 22g of sugar. Watch and see how John Oliver uses it as a unit of measure.
Cold and flu season is upon us and it seems like everyone has their own strategy when it comes to the best way to avoid coming down with something. Whether it’s frequent hand washing, extra vitamin C or oil of oregano every day, everyone is looking for a magic bullet to avoid being stuck in bed with a box of Kleenex and heating pad.
The fact is that 70 percent of your immune system is located in your gut. For this reason, it’s basically impossible to have a strong and healthy immune system when your digestion and gut health are struggling.
And if you have a sweet tooth, are regularly under stress, use birth control pills or prescription medication, or have ever taken a course of antibiotics then chances are your digestion and gut health are not as strong as they could be.
Here are three things you can do to start to rebuild your gut health to supercharge your immune system:
1. Add More “Good” Bacteria with Probiotics There are billions of bacteria living in your gut. In fact, for every human cell in your body, there are 10 bacterial cells so they actually outnumber you 10 to 1! Ideally all the different kinds of bacteria live in harmony in your gut, keeping one another in check so that no one strain takes over.
However, when things get out of balance, because of one of more of the reasons I listed above, this delicate balance gets thrown off and certain strains of bacteria – the “bad” guys – take advantage and begin to take over.
A good way to start to kill off some of those “bad” guys is by bringing in more of the “good” guys to get them back in check. Probiotics are the “good” guys and there are a couple of different ways you can get more of them into your gut:
Probiotic supplements Look for a high quality product (you typically get what you pay for with probiotics) that is refrigerated and that contains both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium and as many bacteria as possible.
Fermented foods These foods are packed with naturally occurring probiotics. They include: raw sauerkraut, miso, tempeh, kombucha, kimchi, etc. If you like these and are able to find them or make them yourself, try having a few tablespoons every day with your meals. If you’re buying any of these foods, make sure the label says “raw” and “unpasteurized” since heating through pasteurization kills off the probiotics we’re looking for.
2. Include Prebiotics in Your Diet Prebiotics are the foods that feed the “good” guys in your gut. These are non-digestible foods (also known as fibre). You can find them in supplement form, but they are also abundant in foods such as:
Leeks Onions Garlic Jerusalem artichokes Jicama Bananas (especially green) and plantains Potatoes – cooked and then cooled Beans and legumes such as lentils Uncooked rolled oats Add as many of these into your meals and snacks as possible to encourage the good bacteria in your gut to grow and multiply.
3. Incorporate Gut Healing Foods When you’ve had an overgrowth of “bad” bacteria for some time, there is usually a fair amount of inflammation and damage done to the wall of your intestinal tract. Luckily, there are some foods you can incorporate into your diet that are very healing on the lining of the gastro intestinal tract. These foods will help you start to reduce that inflammation and heal that damage:
Bone Broth A good quality bone broth has amazing healing properties for the gut. Bones contain significant amounts of the amino acids proline and glycine which are important for a healthy gut and digestion and are almost non-existent in the muscle meat that most people consume.
Turmeric This bright yellow spice has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. You can include turmeric in soups and stews, curries, as a dry rub on meats, and even make a tea with it.
Essential Fatty Acids Essential Fatty Acids (especially Omega 3 and Omega 6) are excellent at reducing inflammation. Most of us get more than enough Omega 6 so concentrate on increasing your Omega 3 intake with fish oil, walnuts, chia, hemp and ground flax.
Want to learn more about improving your digestion and healing your gut? Download a free copy of the 4-Week Probiotic Diet. You can also join the 4-Week Probiotic Diet Facebook Group to have your digestion and gut health questions answered and connect with others learning about how to rebalance their internal ecosystem.
Not too long ago, I wrote a post with over 50 different AIP snack ideas. Many of these were recipes you could make at home, but I also included some really tasty, AIP-compliant (free of grains, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds, and nightshades) snacks that you could buy and enjoy while travelling or when pressed for time.
Well, if you’re AIP, Paleo, or just want your chance to get your hands on some delicious, allergen-free, snacks, you’ll want to enter this giveaway for Barefoot Provision’s AIP Survival pack, valued at $50! (Make sure to check out all of Barefoot Provision’s AIP-compliant foods).
This giveaway is open to residents of US and Canada. To enter, just fill out the widget below!
You’re going to come into contact with items and people that are harmful to your health on a regular basis. You can’t avoid everything — sick co-workers, dirty seats on the bus, plant pollen — but you can still have some control over a healthier lifestyle. By getting rid of the following items, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy.
1. Old Makeup It’s understandable that if you spend money on something you want to get the most out of it. However, try to resist the urge to use up that makeup you’ve had sitting around for as long as you can remember. Makeup can go bad and be filled with bacteria that cause infections. You should replace mascara every two to three months, lip gloss every six months and foundation after no more than a year.
2. Air Fresheners You’ll be better off getting rid of the source of your bad smells than using commercial air fresheners. When you use air fresheners, you’re essentially spraying your home with chemicals. If you’re looking for a natural way to make your home smell nice, combine essential oils with water for a natural scent.
3. Flattened Pillows Old pillows should be thrown away for numerous reasons. Besides providing poor support for your head, old pillows are also crawling with bacteria and critters — literally. Dust mites, which are part of the spider family, like to accumulate in pillows. Many people are allergic to dust mites, meaning those year-round allergies you think you have could actually be from your pillow. There are differing opinions on how often to replace your pillows, but try to replace them at least every two years.
4. Old Shoes If you’re an active runner, you know the importance of a good pair of sneakers. When you find a good pair, it’s hard to let go. Just tell yourself it’s for the best. Running sneakers should be replaced every 300-400 miles. After that, they’re too worn down to fully absorb the impact of your foot hitting the ground, putting you more at risk for injury.
5. Nonstick Cookware While nonstick cookware might seem like a miracle for anyone who’s ever tried to scrub burnt food off an aluminum pan, the magic comes at a cost. Nonstick cookware contains a chemical-based polymer coating — this is what stops the food from sticking. However, when the surface is scratched, or when you heat the pan to over 500 degrees, toxins from that coating start leeching into your food. Yikes!
6. Dirty Contact Cases Contact lens wearers who don’t regularly replace their cases are more at risk for eye infections. In addition to washing out your case daily and drying it out upside down, you should replace the solution each day for clean lenses. After three months, throw out your case and replace it with a fresh one. Your eyes will thank you.
7. Grimy Kitchen Sponges Your sponge is not just the dirtiest thing in the kitchen; it might be the dirtiest thing in your entire house. Germs thrive in the damp environment, meaning that item you use to clean your counters and dishes is just spreading the filth around. Switch to a dishtowel instead — because it’s thinner, it’ll dry faster than the sponge. Additionally, it’s easier to remind yourself to replace a dirty dishtowel than a dirty sponge.
8. Antibacterial Soaps Being clean is good. Constantly using antibacterial soaps is not. You could be contributing to drug-resistant bacteria growing stronger. Overuse of antibiotic soaps has also been linked to the increase in allergies and thyroid dysfunction. Using a mild (antibiotic free!) soap and warm water is just as effective at getting rid of the bad germs as antibacterial soap, without the consequences.
9. Plastic Food Containers Even with the rise of BPA-free plastic, there’s no guarantee that any plastic you use will be 100 percent safe. Heating up food in plastic containers lets the toxins leak into your food. Even normal wear and tear can be harmful. You’ll be better off getting rid of your plastic food containers and using glass instead.
10. Expired or Unused Medicine When we’re sick, we tend to stock up on medicine until we feel better. At that point we forget about the drugs until we’re sick again. However, depending on how much time has passed, those drugs won’t help you feel better. Old medicine that’s past its expiration date should be taken to an authorized drug collector who can dispose of the medicine. Avoid throwing away your medicine or flushing the drugs — let the professionals handle it.
Replacing items every few months is a worthwhile sacrifice to make. Your body won’t thank you for using that old cough syrup, and you won’t be happy when the old mascara you use irritates your eyes. In addition to health reasons, you’ll also be more comfortable replacing items every few months, such as getting new running shoes or a new fluffy pillow. You’ll be much happier in the long run if you take the time to rid your life of what’s holding back your health.
This post contains affiliate links, which means I will get paid a small commission if you make a purchase using my link. It doesnât affect the price you pay, and IÂ wholeheartedly believe that this eBook would be of value to those looking into trying to improve their health through diet changes.
Iâve had the good fortune of receiving a review copy of the new eBook 3 Phase Paleo by Stacy Toth and Matthew McCarry, aka the Paleo Parents â who also happen to be the bestselling authors of two very excellent books: Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon. (Seriously, if youâve got a child who has food allergies and/or must eat a restricted, processed-food-free diet, I highly recommend Eat Like a Dinosaur. The illustrations, back-story and explanations were perfect for explaining to my son why he canât eat certain foods).
This ebook is perfect if you or someone you know is looking to improve their diet and overall health. Matt and Stacy ease you into better eating so you can take baby steps into slowly incorporating changes by phases: 1) Swap, 2) Remove and 3) Heal. This way, small changes can gradually become lifetime habits.
While the phases of the book may be old hat if youâre already following a Paleo lifestyle, there is still plenty of value to be had in the 78 recipes included in this book.
Because this is my honest review, hereâs what I didnât like about 3 Phase Paleo:
Honestly, Iâll never be able to love an eBook as much as I love a tangible, bound book that I can flip through, add sticky tabs, prop open and subsequently stain the pages of my favorite recipe. (On the up side though, the 3 Phase Paleo ebook is formatted as a letter-sized PDF so that you can easily print out the pages you do love and add it to your own recipe binder).
I canât say I love the design âÂ compared to their printed books,Â Eat Like a Dinosaur and especially Beyond Bacon, this book is nowhere near as visually appealing as the printed books, but to be fair, Iâm a bit picky when it comes to graphic design (coming from a design background myself), so I found some of the text to be a bit difficult to read, and Iâm anal enough to notice inconsistencies in formatting. However, none of these little nitpicky things take away from the quality of the content of 3 Phase Paleo.
Â To be balanced, here are some things I did like about 3 Phase Paleo:
My favorite thing about the book is the breakdown of the different phases, and how to go about actually applying them to your everyday life. The food swap list is a great first step. This is something I can see people printing out and putting on their fridge and referring to it before their weekly grocery shop.
The explanations for each of the three phases are solid and Stacy and Matt included links to additional information as necessary, here is where the format of an eBook is advantageous.
Thereâs a recipe index that lists the recipes by phase, with page numbers. (It would have been nice if the index also linked back to the specific page). I also appreciate that are indexes listing the egg-free and nut-free recipes for those of us with allergies and sensitivities. (Unfortunately though, these are only lists without page numbers and again, there are no links directly back to specific recipes).
And these are things that I loved about 3 Phase Paleo:
Itâs a great resource to have all these recipes together in one location.
If you donât own Matt and Stacyâs printed books, itâs a nice bonus that some of these recipes have actually come fromÂ Eat Like a Dinosaur or Beyond Bacon
So, if youâre looking for some awesome recipes to help you and your family transition to a healthier diet, youâll want to get the 3 Phase Paleo e-Book. The recipes alone are worth it, and then thereâs the bonus of all the additional information that support the reasoning behind why youâll want to do it; it’s good value at $22.95, and a great way to get started into healthier eating.
Vivian is the founder of the Real Food Guide and a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN) who believes that each individual needs to go on their own Real Food Journey to find what works. While she herself eats a diet of real food (aka a paleo diet), some people may find that they can flourish on a vegetarian diet instead. However, universal to optimal health and well-being is good quality, nutrient-dense, Real Food.
All of the links on TheRealFoodGuide.com are for information purposes, however some are affiliate links to books, products or services. Any sponsored posts are clearly labelled as being sponsored content. Some ads on this site are served by ad networks and the advertised products are not necessarily recommended by The Real Food Guide.
More and more consumers are becoming health conscious, which means more and more manufacturers are adapting their labels accordingly.
Unfortunately though, manufacturers tend to use their marketing to trick and sell, not to inform and protect.
Consumers have learned that whole, natural, nutrient rich foods are the best. What many consumers don’t know is how to tell if a product really meets their nutritional expectations. Manufacturers are taking advantage of that confusion to slip in phrases that seem healthy but mean nothing.
Here are six of the most common, most misleading terms to watch out for (and what you should look for instead):
Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but cutting carbs shouldn’t mean cutting grains altogether. Grains are an important dietary source of fiber, B-vitamins, along with other vitamins and minerals. They aid digestion and have positive impacts on blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
So if one grain is good, multiple grains should be better, right?
Yes, but only when there are actually multiple whole grains used in the product.
Many breads, cereals and other products carry large stamps that proclaim they are multi-grain, but they don’t use the whole versions of those grains. That’s the key distinction. Over-processed, over-refined versions of grains rarely (if ever) have the same health benefits of their whole counterparts.
What to look for instead: The FDA doesn’t regulate the use of the multi-grain claim. Instead, look for foods that have the “100% whole grain” proclamation, which is regulated. When in doubt, look at the ingredient list and make sure you see the word “whole” before each grain.
2. “Made with Whole Grains”
Sometimes the issue isn’t that the labels are inaccurate. Sometimes the problem is that they don’t tell the whole story.
Breads, pastas, cereals, baked goods and other treats that feature a large “made with whole grains” label may be telling the truth. They could have 100% whole oats, bran or other grains. However, that doesn’t mean those whole grains are the main ingredient.
Many processed foods brag about their one good ingredient to keep customers from looking any further. Why? Because a quick look at the ingredient list for those products tells a completely different story.
Ingredient lists arrange components by percentages. The first ingredients listed are the biggest components, and it all descends from there. Many items touting “whole grains” actually list sugar or refined flours as the main ingredients.
What to look for instead: Keep looking for the “100% whole grains” claim, but always, always, always look at the ingredient list as well. Don’t just look to see if an item is on the list. Look for its placement, and don’t let one good component blind you to the other ingredients.
3. “Made with Real Fruit”
Juices, fruit snacks, baked goods and other supermarket goodies love to claim that they are made with real fruit. Although that claim is often true, more often than not, it’s true on a technicality.
Blueberries are a fruit favorite for their high levels of fiber, antioxidants, vitamin C and other nutrients. Prepackaged goods from cereals to muffins love to claim they are made with real blueberries. That would be great, if the company’s definition of blueberry didn’t mean blueberry bits made of sugar and food dye.
Those sugar bits may have once been blueberries, or have a miniscule percentage of blueberry, so it’s not really lying, is it?
Another “made with real fruit” trick is to promise one fruit but deliver another. Those blueberry bits may actually be dyed chunks of pear. That cranberry juice may be 80% apple.
What to look for instead: Always look at the ingredient list and pay attention to the order. If an item claims to be made with real fruit, make sure fruit is at the top of the ingredient list. Check and see if it contains the fruits it claims and make sure the fruit appears higher than any additional fruit varieties.
4. “Lightly Sugared” or “Low Sugar”
This is, perhaps, the easiest marketing ploy to explain and avoid.
Most processed foods are guilty of adding too much sugar. To reassure customers that their products are healthier, manufacturers began adding guarantees that their product was “lightly sugared” or “low in sugar.”
The issue is that these claims are based on comparisons, and they are, therefore, highly subjective. A product that is low in sugar or has 20% less sugar may still contain high quantities of sugar well outside any person’s recommended daily intake. It just might be slightly less than the previous version of that product.
The FDA does not regulate these types of claims. As a result, lightly, low and less mean whatever that food’s marketing team decide they mean.
What to look for instead: The FDA does have rules about the terms “no sugar” or “sugar free,” so look for those labels instead. When considering a “lightly sugared” snack, cereal or drink, don’t just take the label’s word for it. Look at the nutrition facts to find the true percentage.
5. “Good Source of Fiber” (And Other Nutrient Claims)
Manufacturers love to trick consumers with claims of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber and other beneficial nutrients.
What they don’t love is including the natural sources of these nutrients.
For example, breads, cereals, snack bars, cookies and even ice cream have begun claiming to be high in fiber. While natural fibers from produce, beans and whole grains deliver a variety of health benefits, these processed foods often contain maltodextrin, polydextrose or inulin instead. These synthetic sources of fiber are not proven to provide the same health benefits as natural fiber.
Similar tricks include “benefits of” or “supports,” phrases that allow an unhealthy food to piggyback off of the health benefits of other items. Those not-really-made-with-real-blueberries products can reference the high levels of antioxidants in blueberries without mentioning that their product doesn’t actually contain any.
What to look for instead: Touting fiber and vitamins is also a handy trick to keep consumers buying the product without checking the ingredients. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, don’t trust the front of packaging labels. Instead, always, always, always look at the ingredient list.
6. “All Natural”
What label is more misleading and meaningless than “all natural?”
This label preys on consumers’ trust and capitalizes on the blurred distinction between “natural” and “organic.” After all, how can they call a product natural unless it is?
Like “low sugar” and “multigrain,” the term “all natural” is not closely regulated by the FDA.
The FDA has a loose definition of natural that means a product doesn’t have “added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances” However, there is little to no regulation or oversight to this definition. As a result, marketers capitalize on the grey areas of the definition. Synthetic versions of natural products (like sugars, acids, fibers, etc) aren’t really synthetic substances, right?
What to look for instead: Look for certified organic foods. Unlike “natural” foods, certified organic products have to follow the National Organic Program’s definition of organic, as well as pre- and post-harvesting production.
It may seem daunting to switch to whole, organic foods. These same misleading manufacturers have been telling us for years that real food doesn’t taste as good as their over-processed, synthetic products. Just like their packaging labels, however, that is a lie. Real, healthy foods are delicious alternatives to empty calories and chemical snacks.
When in doubt, buy whole, buy local and buy organic. These three measures ensure you get truly natural ingredients — grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, meats — that have been grown and prepared with safety, health and nutrition in mind.