Up here in Minnesota, we're both blessed and at a disadvantage. We have the BEST produce when the farmers markets are open and available... but that's only a few months when the growing season is optimal! This months blog is all about local produce; the benefits of both buying and consuming it... and also, where to find it!
Surprisingly, there are some major benefits to consuming local produce. Those benefits may include the following:
1. Local food is FRESHER! It has less of an environmental impact, too. Local produce is typically picked and sold within 24 hours to ensure it's at peak ripeness and nutritional quality! When we have produce past the peak freshness, the nutrients that tend to deteriorate first are vitamin C (SO important for us active individuals), Vitamind E, A, and some B vitamins. Now that's not to sway you away from the produce at the grocery store, but it should encourage you to buy local when possible. :)
2. By shopping local, we're teaching and encouraging ourselves to eat seasonally, similar to our ancestors did. It's very natural and allows our body access to foods that are "cooler" in the summer, fresh fruits and vegetables have nutrients to help us tolerate the elements better.. while in the darker and colder days of winter, richer, warmer, higher fat foods, root veggies, and fermented or preserved foods are more available to support nutritional needs of us in those environments.
3. Eating local produce also helps us to eat more mindfully. It encourages us, as consumers, to ask the important questions like WHERE IS OUR FOOD COMING FROM? Who is growing our food? HOW is it being grown? As a dietitian, I always say, it's YOUR job as a food consumer to ask these questions to your local farmers about your food. Make educated food choices and understand WHY you're making them. My favorite quote by Willie Nelson says, "Take your kids to the farm so they don't think food comes from a box." Have you ever felt more satisfied with the food YOU made, that canned tomato sauce tasted better because your effort went into it. Mindfulness is a really awesome thing to practice.
4. Buying local helps us produce less waste, too. It shortens the distribution chain from farm to table.. inevitably decreasing produce losses along the way. Plus, you're not paying additional fees for travel and transportation. Buying a CSA means little to no packaged waste, too.
5. You're encouraging sustainable agriculture practices in your community! Eating locally encourages your local farmers to continue on their legacy while also increasing variety of crops produced. The more we do this, the less we rely on large food producers. We also know that our local farmers can farm with a deep passion and priority for soil health. This leads to increased nutrient quantity of the products produced in the soil. For example, strawberries produced locally are known to have higher levels of vitamin C.
6. Consuming local produce gives more power to the consumers and opens doors for you to connect with those who produce your foods. You can provide feedback, ask questions to better understand the farmers, the farms, and the legacies of those producing your foods. You can ask for more variety, your farmer's preferred way of cooking their produce, and anything in between!
A link to the Wright County Farmers Markets: http://thedrummer.com/drummer/outdoor-adventures/local-farmers-markets
We've all heard it a million times, "shop the perimeter of the grocery store! Only the processed foods are down the aisles!" * Insert dietitian eye role.
You know that ALL food is processed, right? If it wasn't, then we wouldn't have shelf stable products; your milk is pasteurized (processed), your meat is cut and packaged (processed), your vegetables are canned or frozen (processed), should I keep going? Now, dairy, meat, and vegetables are really the least of our concerns, am I right? What we should be focusing on when we hear the term "processed" are those empty calorie, filler filled products, let's use Cheetos for example. The second most abundant ingredient (ferrous sulfate), do you really know WHAT this is?? It's an iron additive or fortification... the product was so minimally nutritious they had to fortify it with benefits. We'll skip to the end and identify the yellow dye #6; side effects include: GASTRIC UPSET (using the bathroom frequently after consumption), hives, allergy-like symptoms, mood swings, and headaches. Anything that we're adding color to, is going to be a no-go in my book.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not reading the nutrition label of every product I eat, even as a registered dietitian. But, familiarizing ourselves with products that could potentially have harmful outcomes is important. And as a consumer, it's YOUR job to understand your food.... What you're choosing to fuel your body with. You have 100 years in this body, hopefully.. One body, fuel is as intentionally as you possibly can.
Choosing to cook from scratch allows us to use whole food sources, curate nutritionally dense foods for ourselves, and not have the anxiety associated with the unknowns of the ingredients in our foods. I know it's more time consuming and sometimes inconvenient, but I promise, the outcomes are much more beneficial, satiating, and they typically taste MUCH better! Here are a few dietitian approved tips for when you're feeling unmotivated:
Want more information or have a question? Please email Kennedy@fitevomn.com
Have you ever wondered why you feel more optimistic after eating fermented food or why you feel happy after you have your favorite food? Or why you've craved your most comforting food as your stress has climbed?
Your hormones dictate all of your body's physiological process; metabolism, immunity, menstrual cycle, reproductive organs, and so on. Eating a well balanced diet will influence these hormones and these processes even further, so, it's only natural that they correlate with one another Serotonin, your happy hormone, is one of the main ones produced in your gut.
So, when you eat your favorite foods or drink your favorite drinks, this is why you feel happier. Other naturally serotonin producing foods may include almonds, yogurt, beans, eggs, and meat. Fermented products are incredible for our gut, producing lots of prebiotics for our probiotics to munch on; things like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, anything pickled or fermented will do the job!
Serotonin and Cortisol, do you know what these two hormones function to do (Hint: I gave aware serotonin above)? Serotonin, the happy hormone, and cortisol, the stress hormone work against one another. Meaning, the more serotonin your body is producing, the more your body is up taking cortisol, or diminishing stress and vice versa. This is why, when we allow our stress to build up and build up, until we feel completely overwhelmed and like our world is crashing in on us.
Stress, boredom, and fatigue are all common triggers for cravings for those comfort foods. Studies show that a diet too high in protein or too low in fat can actually depress our moods. Our brain needs fats (brain food) and carbohydrates to adequately produce hormones. Additionally, our brain is 73% water, when it comes dehydrated, I want you to think of a dry sponge. This slows our decision making skill, decreases coordination and balance, and so much more.
A few ways to eat your way to happiness:
Eat regularly (I recommend every 2-4 hours) and make sure you're adequately hydrated
Make sure you're getting a MINIMUM of 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Vitamin C will help to combat stress, too.
Ensure you're getting enough protein, not too much & not too little (ask your FitEvo nutrition experts if you're having trouble identifying this for yourself)
Choose foods rich in iron and omega-3's
Avoid excess sugar (added sugar, not natural sugars). Research shows that the more sugar you have, the more the probiotics in your gut will crave sugar
Do your best to TRY to consume something fermented each day
Watch your alcohol intake.
Expose yourself to the sun! Vitamin D increases our happy hormones, too!
MOVE YOUR BODY! Endorphins are produced during movement.
By supporting the gut with healthy foods, we can combat stress, and increase the production of our happy hormone all day long! However, we have to remember that food is so much more than simply food. Food is tradition, religion, health, happiness, joy, it's family dinners, nights out with friends, and so on. So, enjoying what you eat will bring you small pieces of happiness, too. Ask your Fitness Evolution nutrition experts for any other questions on this topic, we'll be HAPPY to help. :)
Leaky gut, what a great use of words to catch someone's eye! Keep reading to find out more.
So, what is leaky gut? Leaky gut is when the lining of your intestine has holes or gaps. See photo below. On the left, you'll see what a healthy gut looks like and on the right, you'll see what Leaky Gut looks like: Large gaps that allow pathogens to get in between the junctions.
When pathogens get in between the junctions, they enter the bloodstream and cause inflammation, potential immune system reaction, and may lead to the following symptoms: bloating, food sensitivities, fatigue, digestive issues, and skin problems.
Naturally, our barrier will allow some pathogens through, and it should because if it didn't, we'd never experience sickness, inflammation (yes, inflammation can be a positive thing, sometimes, too!), and more. There are certain things that pre-dispose individuals to a leakier gut; genetics, GNA, inflammation rates, heavy alcohol intake, stress, diets low in fiber, high in sugar, and saturated fats, and so on. Naturally, we do know that leaky gut plays a role with diseases or syndromes like celiac disease, Crohn's disease, or irritable bowel syndrome. However, leaky gut is still relatively unknown to the healthcare field. Continue reading to learn more about what we KNOW.
Probiotics & Leaky Gut:
Probiotics will interact with the epithelium and tighten those loose junctions, so bacteria don't pass through and cause those negative reactions. Probiotics inhibit the growth of bad bacteria by increasing the acidity of the surrounding environment. However, it should be noted that your probiotics need to be ALIVE when you consume them. So, think of yogurt, kefir, or kombucha. These must be COLD when you consume them, meaning, they must also be required to be stored in the fridge. Even consuming these probiotics with HOT or warm food will destroy or kill the probiotics. So, no more yogurt with your cups of coffee! It should also be noted, that if you feel gassy or bloated or need to use the restroom after consuming probiotics, this means they're doing their job! You may feel "bubbly," and if this is the case, try taking your probiotics at night! Probiotics are not a once weekly supplement, if you're looking to reap the benefits. This is something that needs to be consumed daily and then fed PRE-biotics like garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, artichokes, chicory root, oats, cocoa, flaxseeds, seaweed, and more.
Exercise & the gut:
Research shows that exercise increases gut function by reducing the time stool is in your system. So, if you're constipated, the best thing you can do for your uncomfortable body is move it! This also leaves the harmful bacteria that are body is trying to excrete through stool, less time to sit within our gut and do damage. Athletes or active individuals have a more diverse set of good bacteria (I reference this in a recording about our gut on the Fitness Evolution Facebook page, so go check it out!). Research has also shown that higher concentration of good bacteria defends against obesity, chronic inflammation, help with oxygen uptake, and improve the barrier functions of your intestines!
In summary, what your Fitness Evolution nutrition experts are trying to tell you, is this: move your body, take a live culture probiotic, and ask us for any and all questions you may have! Leaky guts can be healed, it simply takes time, proper guidance, and patience. It takes about 10 days to 2 weeks for your body to have some kind of positive effects from intake of probiotics, this doesn't mean it's healed, but the process is started! We're here to help. You can find us at firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com
This ones for the girls! The further I get into my professional career, the more questions I encounter by women of all ages, inquiring about how their body is influenced by nutrition... and it's typically influenced by the lack of understanding about how our hormones change as we age. So, we're going to focus on Estrogen and Progesterone and our cycles for this blog! A totally taboo topic that we need to be talking about.
First, lets understand the basics of what both estrogen and progesterone may do for us. Heres a brief summary:
Phase 1: Menstruation through ovulation: DAY 1-14
During the first day of our periods through ovulation, our female hormones; estrogen and progesterone are at their lowest. Physiologically, this promotes our body to relax, decreases inflammation, improves our recovery, increases our VO2max AND our endorphins; meaning, we have an improved pain tolerance and we often feel happier! Contrary to popular belief, this is actually the BEST time to go to the gym because you should be at your absolute strongest & most powerful. You're more likely to PR while menstruating. In one study, it was found that women were making greater strength gains and producing more force when they strength trained, while they were mentstruating due to their hormones being at their lowest.
Phase 1: Focus Foods:
If you're feeling SORE: focus on Omega-3's, Leucine (BCAA's) and tart cherry juice. All of these work together in the body to decrease inflammation, improve recovery time, and minimize muscle soreness.
If you're feeling FATIGUED: focus on protein rich foods & iron. Remember, when you're menstruating, your body will get rid of iron through menstrual blood. This means you can hit a homer with red meats.
If you're feeling GI DISTRESS: focus on Omega-3's, magnesium, maintain optimal hydration and actually SALT. GI distress can be triggered by electrolyte deficiencies. Lots of these things help with... CRAMPS!
My go to for muscle cramps: a topical magnesium lotion. A magnesium balm post-workout can minimize muscle soreness, too!
Phase 2: Post-ovulation through cycle end: Day 15-30ish
Beginning about day 15 of the menstrual cycle, estrogen and progesterone are climbing higher and higher until they reach their peak highness. When this happens, you will feel symptoms such as fatigue, a decrease in strength, poor thermoregulation... meaning, you may sweat more than normal or run warmer than usual. And lastly, you may feel bloated, however, this is likely just related to fluid retention. All of this happens because progesterone elevates your body temperature and makes it harder for you to sweat and cool yourself.
Phase 2: Focus Foods:
If you're feeling HOTTER than normal: make sure you're optimally hydrated BEFORE you get your period. Planning ahead 5-7 days to make sure you're optimally hydrated will play a MAJOR role in preventing PMS, high heat perception, and cramping.
Nitric Oxide rich foods: beats, tart cherries, pomegranate, watermelon, spinach, etc. This is going to minimize cramping, decrease inflammation, and promote dilation of our blood vessels which will benefit anyone who suffers from menstrual headaches/migraines.
If you're noticing mood swings, fatigue, gas, diarrhea, constipation, etc.: this is because estrogen and progesterone effect your hypothalamus which effects your mood, heart rate, breathing, digestion and much more) focus on leucine (BCAAs). Leucine will actually work to mitigate some of these responses on high hormone days. Leucine can cross the blood brain barrier and actually prevent some of these negative side effects from happening, especially fatigue.
I feel as if all of our lives, as women, we've been made to feel like our cycle is something to be dissatisfied with or ashamed of. But, now, I hope this blog gives you a little more reason to celebrate being a female (As I write this on international women's day), the courage to test your limits and your strength, and break new personal records here at FItEvo. My biggest tip to you is this: keep a journal of how you're feeling, even monthly, and penciling in which of the above strategies you're taking during these specific weeks of your cycle and see how your performance in the gym improves. Scientifically, you should see some incredible improvements!
As always, if you've got any questions, please feel free to stop me in the gym or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org