004: Portion Sizes

 
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In our world of portion-distortion, navigating your meal sizes can be a challenge. Fear not! With this guide on portion sizes, you can get mealtime control back in your hands... literally. 

 
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Rule of Thumb

Men: 2 portions of each food group for most meals
Women: 1 portion of each food group for most meals

003: Probiotics

 
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1. What are they?

Probiotics are bacteria that are taken in the form of food or supplements to help replenish and rebalance your natural ecosystem of microorganisms. Your microbiome (or the entire genetic material of all the microorganisms in or within your body) is responsible for many processes in your body, including hormone production, energy/nutrient extraction from food, managing appetite and body weight, and immune modulation. Certain stressors such as antibiotic use, standard American diet, and chronic stress can obliterate the delicate balance of bacteria/fungi/viruses and cause a myriad of symptoms (e.g. indigestion, skin disorders, fatigue). Taking probiotics regularly can help you defend against it.

2. Where do probiotics come from?

Probiotics are typically sourced from dairy, humans, or fruit. 

Top food sources of probiotics: Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Miso, Kefir, Yogurt

3.  Am I getting enough probiotics with my yogurt?

Not all yogurts are created equal, so the amount of live, active microorganisms you are getting may vary. Some yogurts may tell you which species and how many colony forming units (CFUs) it contains. Note that the CFU is based on how much was in the yogurt when it was made and may not reflect how much you are actually getting in the product. 

4. How much should I be taking daily?

If you are not suffering from any conditions, the maintenance dose for good health is between 1-10 billion CFU. 

5. Are all probiotics the same?

No, there are different strains have been shown to be beneficial for different conditions: 

  • Lactobacillus acidophilus (L. acidophilus)
    • Functions: Readily colonizes on the walls of small intestine, supports nutrient absorption, aides in the digestion of dairy foods
  • L. plantarum
    • Functions: Controls immunity, decreases inflammation, and maintains gut integrity. It has been shown to be effective in the treatment of food allergies.
  • Bifidobacterium longum (B.longum)
    • Functions: Maintains the integrity of the gut wall, scavenges toxins
  • B. bifidum
    • unctions: Breaks down complex carbohydrates, fats, and proteins so that the body can utilize them for energy.
  • L. rhamnosus
    • Functions: Useful in preventing traveller's diarrhea
 
 

002: Prebiotics

 
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1. What are they?

Prebiotics are a type of undigestible plant fiber that promotes the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics act as food for the good bacteria within your microbiome (the entire genetic material of all the microorganisms [bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and viruses] that live in and on the human body). The more food the bacteria have, the better they work. 

Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that are taken in food/supplement form which help maintain an optimal balance of bacteria in your body.  

2. Why are they important?

Prebiotics are the ultimate support system. The good bacteria in your microbiome play an important role in many physiological processes in the body, including digestion, metabolism, and the immune function. With modern day stressors (e.g. Standard American Diet, antibiotics, stress) the balance of the microbiome is often disrupted creating the need for supplemental probiotics. Without having any prebiotics within your gut, there is little incentive for the probiotics to stick around and repopulate. 

3. Where can I find them?

Prebiotics naturally occurs in bananas, onions, garlic, tomatoes, leeks, asparagus, turmeric, okra, Jerusalem artichokes, and chicory. They can also be purchased in powdered forms from your local health foods store. 

4. How much should I take? 

When it comes to prebiotic supplements/powders, it is best to start small and work yourself up. While side effects are rare, if extremely high doses are ingested, you may experience abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. Rule of thumb: Have at least 1 prebiotic-rich food daily. 

5. When should I take them?

To avoid discomfort, prebiotic powders are best consumed with a meal. Prebiotics are found naturally in many plant-based foods, but excess consumption may be irritating to some IBS and SIBO patients. Always check with a healthcare practitioner if prebiotics are right for you. 

 
 

001: Hygge

 
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What is it?

Hygge (hue-gah) is a Scandinavian term for "coziness". It emphasizes creating a cozy atmosphere, and ultimately, a cozy life, to offset the gloomy Northern European winters. There is no right or wrong way to hygge: just do what brings you joy!

Why is it important?

While the effect of coziness on health has not been extensively studied, the fact that Denmark has been named one of the happiest countries in the world is more than a nice coincidence. Living a hygge-lifestyle may contribute to increased levels of everyday happiness, togetherness, relaxation, and contentment.


 

5 Ways to Add More Hygge to Your Life

1. CELEBRATE

Celebrate the "un-special" moments. One of the beauties of the hygge lifestyle is the priority that is given to the little things in life. Why wait for major holidays (which also can be majorly stressful) to celebrate? Did a spot-on parallel parking job? Your coffee tastes heavenly? Perfect! Let's enjoy the moment and celebrate! 

2. #REALFOOD

Nourish your body with real food. Rather than scarfing down on granola bars and diet-drinks that barely qualify as food, give your body what it truly deserves: REAL FOOD. Sit down with each meal, sans phone, and savor each bite. 

3. BRING OUT YOUR INNER-MARTHA

Build your space. Aesthetics are a huge part of the hygge lifestyle. Whether you want to throw some cozy blankets, light some candles, or play soothing music, a few small touches can turn your home into the ultimate comfort-zone.

4. HUGS NOT THUGS

Keep your tribe close. Surround yourself with those who uplift you and bring joy to your heart. Countless studies demonstrate that spending quality time with loved ones is crucial to mental health and perception of happiness.

5. Command + Z 'UNDO'

Make up an un-do list. North Americans are notorious for overstuffing their agendas with lengthy to-do lists, and unsurprisingly, our levels of stress and dissatisfaction are also sky-high. Prioritize the tasks that are important to you  and let the rest fall by the wayside.