Articles

Tea, Tea, TEA!!!

Now that Fall is here (well Winter apparently), it’s socially acceptable to drink 12 cups of tea a day, again!! Besides being a delicious, sugar and calorie free beverage, tea contains varying photochemicals and antioxidants that have the capability to aid in numerous functions within the body. Phytochemicals are biologically active compounds found in plants that give them their vibrant colour and individualized health benefits. While, antioxidants  (simply put) are molecules within the body that prevent oxidation of other molecules, limiting free radical production, thus preventing cell damage.  For this reason, tea is often consumed for its medicinal properties. …No wonder tea is the most commonly consumed beverage in the world (after water of course)!

The chart below is a beginners guide to 25 different flavours of tea and their potential to aid and/or enhance varying functions within the human body. Whether you need help focusing, relaxing, reducing bloating, or an immune boost to fight off that incoming Fall cold, one of these teas will have you covered!

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Type of Tea Potential Benefit
Ginger (my fave!!) Loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, activates the immune system, helps to reduce nausea, GI (gastrointestinal) discomfort, and menstrual cramping.
Green  Is said to be the healthiest beverage on the planet! — Contains numerous antioxidants, enhances cognitive function, boosts metabolism, reduces risk of attaining various types of cancers, may reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD), aids in weight loss.
Chai Enhances heart health, reduces nausea, and aids in digestion and weight loss.
Echinacea Boosts immune function –  helping the body to fight various infections and viruses.
Rose Hip Rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, has a vast range of anti-inflammatory properties, has potential to help with anti-aging of the skin.
Black Numerous antioxidant properties, boosts heart health, decreases LDL cholesterol levels, may enhance gut health.
Chamomile Calming and relaxing effects, thus often used as a sleep aid, in addition to helping to reduce inflammation.
Oolong Boosts metabolism, regulates insulin spikes, helps to reduce acne, enhances immune function.
Peppermint Often used to support GI health – potential to help to relieve nausea, indigestion, and stomach pain. Additional antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties.
Sage Beneficial for cognitive function and brain health – improvements in mental function and memory, as well as mood.
White Rich source of antioxidants, may aid in weight loss, contains compounds that have the potential to fight cancer (by suppressing cancer cell growth and inhibiting metastasis), may reduce risk of heart disease.
Hibiscus Mainly know for its benefits to cardiovascular health — particularly relating to its effects on blood pressure, and decreased oxidative stress. Additionally, may prevent certain types of cancers, specifically leukaemia.
Ginseng May help to reduce inflammation, boosts immune function, increases energy levels, strengthens focus and concentration.
Hawthorn Packed with numerous antioxidants, aids in optimal digestion, various anti-inflammatory properties, prevents hair loss.
Rooibos (Red Tea) Beneficial for bone health – has potential to increase bone density and stimulate bone growth, some antioxidant effects, beneficial for liver function and health.
Lemon Verbena Boosts antioxidant levels, improves skin and heart health, has potential to diminish anxiety. May help to lower inflammatory markers, in addition to decreasing the formation of fatty acids – thus has potential to assist in weight loss.
Eucalyptus Excellent source of various antioxidants, improves dry skin and dandruff, promotes relaxation by decreasing blood pressure and anxiety.
Cinnamon Improves heart health, promotes weight loss, reduces menstural cramping and inflammation, potential to reduce acne.
Violet Helps diminish inflammation and alleviate body aches and pain, helps to manage flu symptoms.
Dandelion Promotes optimal liver function, helps to prevent Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs), prevents certain types of cancers, aids in optimal digestion.
Bergamot (aka Earl Grey aka Hannah Tea 😉 ) Compounds found within the tea have potential to act as antioxidants and aid in digestion, as well as lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Fennel Relieves bloating, helps to subside menstrual cramping and to regulate blood sugar levels, has potential to aid in pain relief.
Lemongrass Lowers cholesterol, reduces anxiety, prevents infections, and relieves bloating.
Jasmine Boosts well-being by:  reducing stress and having soothing and calming effects, in addition to helping to regulate ones mood.
Cardamon Enhances digestion, boosts immune function, improves blood circulation, enhances sex drive, has potential to alleviate joint pain.

& that’s the TEA.

 

Happy Tuesday! Get outside and enjoy some fresh, crisp Fall air (& bring some tea)!!!

Anna x

Recipes

Curried Sweet Potato & Butternut Squash Soup

This soup will forever be my favourite! It’s a perfect recipe for fall because its filled with tasty seasonal vegetables.  Making this soup is a bit labour intensive as it involves a lot of peeling and chopping, but it’s so delicious, it’s worth it!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 diced white onions
  • 1 tbsp curry powder (add extra is you like spice!)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups peeled, diced butternut squash
  • 1 cup peeled, diced sweet potato

Instructions:

  1. Peel and cut squash and sweet potato into 1-inch thick cubes.
  2. Finely chop garlic and onions.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and sauté the diced onions, stirring frequently, until transparent (~ 2 minutes).
  4. Add curry powder, garam masala, garlic, and salt to pot, and stir.
  5. Add chicken stock, cubed squash and sweet potato.
  6. Cover mixture and bring to a low boil, over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes (or until squash and sweet potato are tender), stirring occasionally.
  7. Purée this mixture in a blender until creamy and smooth.
  8. Return mixture to pot, and simmer on low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  9. Garnish with a drizzle of greek yogurt (mainly to make it look pretty) – if you find the soup too spicy, this will help lessen the spice!

This soup is tastiest when fresh, but can be stored in the fridge for up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer for as long as a month.

Enjoy!

Happy FRIDAY!!! Have a great weekend!

Anna x

Articles

7 Tips to get your sleeping schedule back on track

Now that September is here and summer is coming to an end, it’s time to get back into a routine. Having a consistent sleeping schedule is important for numerous reasons, one being to get you back in gear, and tackle the rest of the month of September!

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Here are some tips to help you get your sleeping schedule back on track:

1. Practice relaxation before bed – Methods of relaxation may include: meditation, deep breathing, journaling, taking a hot shower or bath, reading (bonus if its a boring book, because you’ll be able to fall asleep in no time!), yoga, stretching, or drinking a hot caffeine-free beverage. All of these tasks will help you to relax and clear your head before bed, often making it easier to fall asleep. Practicing the same relaxation technique, consistently is best so your body recognizes when it is time to wind down. 

2. Reduce, or completely avoid blue light exposure 2 hours prior to bed… Put your phone away! – Your bodies natural clock, known as your circadian rhythm is greatly impacted by light. Your circadian rhythm affects your brain, body, and hormones, enabling your body to recognize the appropriate times to stay awake, and fall asleep. Exposure to light throughout the day has been researched to improve both sleep quality and duration. During light exposure your body slows the production of hormones such as melatonin – this hormone enables you to relax, promoting sleep. Thus, daytime light exposure limits the feelings of fatigue and drowsiness. Exposure to light at nighttime has the opposite effect. Exposure to light at night tricks your brain into thinking it is daytime, thereby reducing the production of melatonin, thus delaying the time it takes you to fall asleep. Therefore, limiting your exposure to light, in particular blue light that is emitted from your phone about two hours prior to bed will help you fall asleep, faster.

3. Maintain a consistent sleeping schedule  – Again, your bodies circadian rhythm functions on a consistent cycle – your body is able to naturally orient its sleeping schedule with sunrise and sunset. Having a consistent sleep/ wake cycle is vital to both short and long-term sleep duration and quality. Inconsistent sleep/ wake cycles facilitate irregular sleeping patterns and poor sleep quality, and have potential to negatively alter your bodies circadian rhythm and levels of melatonin. Waking up and going to bed at similar times will not only allow for a deeper and more restful sleep, it will also benefit your sleeping patterns long term.

4. Exercise Regularly – but not before bed 🙂 – Not only is exercise beneficial for your health, it also improves your sleep quality and duration! Exercising promotes melatonin production, reduces stress, tires out your body, and positively impacts your bodies circadian rhythm – all of these help to improve both sleep quality and duration. However, exercising within 2 hours prior to bed will have the opposite effect. Exercising increases hormones like adrenaline and epinephrine – these hormones increase one’s alertness and stimulate the body, keeping you awake. To reap the potential benefits exercise has for your sleeping patterns and duration, keep your exercise regime to at least 2 hours prior to your bedtime. 

5. Lavender! (Oil, mist, diffuser, incense) – Lavender has been extensively studied to have a calming effect on individuals. Lavender lowers blood pressure, and decreases heart rate – allowing individuals to reach a more relaxed state. For these reasons, lavender enables you to not only fall asleep faster, but also into a deeper sleep.  I find lavender to be the most useful method for me when I have trouble falling asleep. Every night before bed, I apply a lavender roller, topically to my wrists and temples or mist my pillow with a lavender spray. I also like putting lavender essential oils into my diffuser or lighting lavender scented incense a couple hours before I go to bed. This way, when I am ready for bed, my bedroom is filled with the lavender scent!

6. Make your sleeping space a comfortable environment – Making sure your room is a relaxing, clean, and comfortable space is necessary for a good nights rest. This may mean adding additional pillows, plants, artwork, or candles to your bedroom to allow it to become a more welcoming and inviting space, in which you enjoy spending time. Keeping your professional and/ or school work and work desk outside of your room to avoid added stress, decluttering and keeping your room clean so it does not make you feel overwhelmed, or having your room at a consistent temperate, light, or volume can also help to make your bedroom a more comfortable and relaxing space. Removing these and various other distractions that may cause added stress, and ensuring your room is a relaxing, comfortable, and enjoyable space will all benefit to help you get a good nights sleep.

7. Consider a Melatonin supplement- Melatonin supplements will also help you to get your sleeping schedule back on track. As discussed, melatonin is a hormone that is produced within your body to help regulate your sleep cycle. Melatonins main job is to naturally regulate ones sleep-wake cycle. Taking a melatonin supplement increases the amounts in your body, thus it is often used as a sleep aid. Prior to regularly taking a melatonin supplement, consult a health professional regarding dosage, side effects, uses, and drug interactions. Taking a melatonin supplement too often can impact the amount of melatonin that your body naturally produces, and negatively impact your circadian rhythm. I often use a melatonin supplement as my last option if I’m having trouble falling asleep. 

If none of these tips seem to work, sometimes a glass of wine before bed can help too. 😉 

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Happy Sleeping! I hope you have a restful week!

Anna x

Recipes

How to make homemade peach jam… with just three ingredients

Summer isn’t over quite yet! Follow these simple steps to make your own homemade, fresh Ontario peach jam.

Ingredients:

  • 12 medium sized Ontario fresh peaches (or enough peaches to make 6 cups of prepared fruit)
  • cup of granulated, white sugar
  • 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and blanch peaches – this should take ~5 minutes.
  2. Remove peaches from boiling water, and immediately place them into a cold water bath – this should allow for the skins to come off smoothly.
  3. Remove skin and pits from peaches, and cut (or mash) peaches into small bite sized pieces.
  4. Add peaches, sugar and lemon juice to a large pot over low-medium heat.
  5. Cook this mixture for 10 – 15 minutes, mashing any large chunks of peaches as they begin to soften; stir constantly.
  6. Continue stirring mixture on medium – high heat until the set point is reached (jam slowly slides off of the back of a spoon).
  7. Remove jam from heat, continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken and foam subsides.
  8. Follow proper canning procedures – ensure to leave ¼ inch headspace.
  9. This recipe makes ~ 5-6, 250 mL jars of jam. Enjoy!

 

Although this recipe it a little higher in sugar, it is low in comparison to other jam recipes. BUT, it is important to remember, everything in moderation … including moderation!!! Besides putting this peach jam on all my favourite carbs (!!), I also like mixing it into plain Greek yogurt, drizzling it over top of vanilla ice cream or as a glaze for meats.

Enjoy the last of what summer has to offer! Have a great week!

Anna x

 

 

Articles

What is Turmeric and why should I be eating it?

Turmeric is an Indian perennial herb, of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. Of the 3 bioactive compounds found in Turmeric, curcumin is the most potent and active compound. Curcumin’s main role is to act as an anti-inflammatory by suppressing various molecules known to play major roles in inflammation. In addition to Turmeric’s main use as a natural anti-inflammatory compound, Turmeric also increases the antioxidant capacity of the body, helps to control cholesterol levels and maintain optimal heart health, enhances cognitive health, and boosts thyroid function. Turmeric toxicity is very rare. 

Turmeric is an Indian perennial herb, of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. It is native to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia.  The distinct bright yellow powder obtained from the rhizome of the plant, was first used as fabric dye, before being used as a popular spice and source of colouring and flavouring in cooking. More recently, and similar to the practice of traditional Indian medicine, Turmeric is now used for its vast medicinal properties. 

Curcumin is one of the three curcuminoids present in Turmeric, along with demethoxycurcumin, and bisdemethoxycurcmin. Of the 3 bioactive compounds found in Turmeric, curcumin is the most potent and active compound – providing the greatest beneficial properties, while also giving Turmeric its vibrant, bright yellow colour. Curcumin gives Turmeric its anti inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Although Turmeric has many medicinal purposes, its main use is as an anti-inflammatory. Medicinally, Turmeric has been used to reduce inflammation, by applying it topically to the skin, ingesting it orally, or by inhalation. Turmeric’s main mechanism of action works by inhibiting the role of inflammatory cytokines and enzymes, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), a molecule that plays a role in inflammation.

Research has concluded that Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties, enhances one’s immune system response, and provides long-term improvements in both pain and inflammation. Turmeric acts an effective and safe anti-inflammatory medication, particularly when treating autoimmune diseases. 

In addition to Turmeric’s main use as natural anti-inflammatory compound, Turmeric also:

  1. Greatly increases the antioxidant capacity of the body – Curcumin has the power to neutralize free radicals, while stimulating antioxidant promoting enzymes within the body.
  2. Helps to control cholesterol levels and maintain optimal heart health – Curcumin improves the function of the endothelium – the tissue that forms a lining, protecting various organs – particularly the heart, and blood & lymphatic vessels.
  3. Enhances cognitive health (specifically relating to aging and dementia) – Curcumin dramatically increases levels of BDNF, a hormone in the brain that promotes the growth and development of new neutrons, helping the body to fight numerous degenerative processes in the brain.
  4. Boosts thyroid function – Turmeric is a rich source of various vitamins and minerals (iron, copper, fibre, potassium, Vitamin B6) which enables and helps  to maintain adequate thyroid function.  

Turmeric toxicity is very rare. The approximate UL for Turmeric is 3,000 milligrams (mg), daily. Typically, excess Turmeric consumption does not cause significant side effects, although some individuals experience diarrhea, stomach pain, dizziness, or nausea. Typical doses of Turmeric range from 500-1500 mg/ day.  In order for Turmeric’s desired beneficial effects to be noticed, 500 mg should be consumed per day. Curcumin is fat soluble – for optimal absorption, take Turmeric powder or supplements with a fatty meal. In addition, Curcumin is best absorbed with black pepper. I like adding Turmeric to my smoothies, oatmeal, and stir- fry veg!

Happy Wednesday!

Anna x

 

References:

Aggarwal, B., Yuan, W., Li, S. and Gupta, S. (2013). Turmeric exhibits anti-inflammatory and anticancer activities: Identification of novel components of turmeric. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 57(9), pp.1529-1542.

Grzanna, R., Lindmark, L. and Frondoza, C. (2005). Ginger—An Herbal Medicinal Product with Broad Anti-Inflammatory Actions. Journal of Medicinal Food, 8(2), pp.125-132.

Kocaadam, B. and Şanlier, N. (2015). Curcumin, an active component of turmeric (Curcuma longa), and its effects on health. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 57(13), pp.2889-2895.

Ricciotti, E. and FitzGerald, G. (2011). Prostaglandins and Inflammation. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 31(5), pp.986-1000.