What Vitamins Should I Take While Following a Low Carb Diet?

As far as vitamins when cutting out carbs, I will always recommend a good quality multi vitamin.  This assures you will get all of the vitamins and minerals that the body needs.  There are many multi vitamins that are gender specific as you should be taking women’s multi if you are a woman and men’s multi if you are a man.  Also, if you are over 40 you should be taking a vitamin geared to your age group as well as they will have added ingredients to protect you from age related issues like hormonal imbalances, heart protection, cancer prevention etc.

Fish oil is my second recommendation and this will take care of both at the same time.  When following a low carb diet it is important to add more good fats.  I personally take MCT oil daily.  This oil comes from coconut and body builders and dieters use it to help them burn fat and stay in ketosis.  In case you are unaware, ketosis means the body is using fat for energy instead of sugar (carbs).  You can read more about both ketosis and MCT oil on my previous blogs.  You can use MCT oil in your shakes, salad dressings or just take a shot of it with your meals.

Other fats that you should include in your diet are coconut oil, olive oil, butter and avocado’s.  Smoothies as a snack is a great way to get in more MCT oil and dense nutrients.  My smoothies include a protein powder, MCT oil, a greens powder and berries powder.  I also add liquid fish oils.  You couldn’t possibly eat all day long and get the amount of nutrients in this shake.  Also, I never use fresh or frozen fruit as they are too high in carbs.  I literally put water in my shaker cup, add the protein, oils, and powders, shake and go.  It’s low carb and easy to make.

Cancer Prevention

Angiogenesis Inhibitors – Cancer Prevention

Everyone knows someone who has had cancer or lost someone with cancer.  We know some of the causes of cancer like smoking, poor diet, chemical exposure etc. but do we really know what happens to the body when we get cancer?   Know this….cancer cannot survive and grow without blood vessels!

In 1961 Dr. Folkman saw something while doing some medical research that gave him a hunch.  “What if cancerous tumors, in order to expand, needed to trigger the growth of new blood vessels to feed themselves? And if that was true, what if a way could be found, to stop that growth? Could cancers be starved to death? Dr. Folkman had ample reason to be self-confident — second in his class at Harvard Medical School, he was already considered one of the most promising doctors of his generation. But even he never guessed that his idea would eventually grow into a multibillion-dollar industry that is now racing through human trials with drugs that show unparalleled promise of being able to control cancer, as well as other deadly diseases.” – Dr Folkman.  His book is called Dr. Folkman’s War and it is fascinating information.

‘Angio’-means blood vessel and ‘Genesis’- means growth:  Blood Vessel Growth.  If we cut ourselves our body sends out signals to create blood vessels to heal the wound which is a good thing but what happens if these signals do not shut off?  That’s cancer.   Anti-angiogenesis are things that inhibit the blood vessel growth.  Foods that are natural angiogenesis inhibitors that you want to include in your daily diet (which will strengthen your immune system and should be organic) would include mushrooms such as shiitaki, reishi and maitake mushrooms, berries, citrus fruits, red grapes, red wine (yay!), artichokes, turmeric, kale, garlic, tomatoes, olive oil and dark chocolate (yay again!).

I personally take Host Defense Turkey Tail mushrooms every day as they have proven to be natural angio-genesis inhibitors.  I also take Host Defense “My Community” which is a blend of 17 different mushrooms.

I strongly recommend watching this video by Dr Li.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjkzfeJz66o  It is from Ted Talks and is called “Can we eat to starve cancer”?  It is fascinating and you will want to share it with your friends.  Know that mushrooms such as Turkey Tail, Maitake, Shiitake and Reishi are natural angiogenesis inhibitors but the film lists many foods good for anti-cancer.  It’s a must see and once you watch it you will want to share it with your friends.  I hope so anyway!

Protein Smoothies

Protein Smoothies

I am on the road most days and tend to skip breakfast, even though I am completely aware that breakfast is the most important meal of the day…it kick starts the metabolism.  I can also be lazy so I don’t bother with a blender except if I am making one for my husband as well in which I may add frozen fruit and/or a banana.  The basic recipe for me is:

  • 1 Scoop Protein (I use protein concentrate not isolate as it is slower released and keeps me fuller longer)
  • 1 Tbls liquid fish oil (you can never taste the fish oil as they make them very tasty these days)
  • 1 Tbls Progressive Phytoberry (this is loaded with berries and fruits among many other ingredients, which is very high in anti-oxidants)
  • 1 Tbls Progressive Vege Greens (you won’t believe how many amazing ingredients in this greens product and they now have a new pineapple/coconut flavor)
  • 1-2 Tbls MCT oil (this is a great fat burner)

This is your basic recipe.  You can use whatever protein powders, greens or powder fruit blends as you choose.  I put water in my shaker cup (the one with the metal mesh ball in them), add all of the ingredients, shake and go.  It literally takes 5 minutes max.

If I use a blender, I will add one or more of the following:

  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup frozen blueberries (you can use fresh)
  • ½ cup frozen strawberries (you can use fresh)
  • Any other types of fruit
  • You can add spinach or kale for added greens
  • The recipes are completely endless depending on your taste, just do it

I could not eat ALL DAY long and get half of the nutrients that I get in this shake.  You can even freeze it for later and have a frozen smoothie.

Coffee: Is it good or bad?

So What’s the Scoop?  Is caffeine good for you or bad for you?

Every single day billions of people wake up to caffeine.  There’s a Tim Hortons on every corner and Starbucks is not far behind.  We spend billions of dollars on coffee not only to wake us up and give us energy but because it tastes great!  Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America.  Personally I cannot have caffeine.  I am very, very sensitive to it.  If I have just a little, my world is spinning, my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like I am fighting fainting.  BUT I LOVE COFFEE and so like everyone else, I still drink it but I drink only decaf.

How does caffeine work in the body?  According to Authority Nutrition “Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.  From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.  Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.  It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.  Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.  Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness.  It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.  This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.  Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly. For instance, the amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness.”

So let’s go through the good and the bad about caffeine

The Good:

  • Very high in anti-oxidants
  • Increases energy
  • Better alertness
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Enhance exercise performance
  • Boosts mood
  • Helps bowels with elimination
  • Supports gut health

Newer Studies Show That Caffeine May:

  • Decrease risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Helps to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Wards off type II diabetes
  • Prevents gallstones
  • Liver protective
  • Cancer protective (due to the anti-oxidant value)

The Bad:

  • Could cause anxiousness
  • Could cause nausea
  • May reduce risk of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reduce the risk of developing gout
  • Aids in longevity
  • Highly addictive
  • Headaches and migraines when weaning off caffeine
  • Trouble sleeping

The studies are still on-going.  The bottom line is, enjoy your coffee or caffeine laden beverages but don’t over-do it.

Is Coconut Oil Good For Me? It’s a Saturated Fat!

Coconut oil is a saturated fat so isn’t that bad for me?  What fats are good for me?

“I am so confused about what fats are good and what fats are bad for me.  My best friend is a huge fan of coconut oil and is trying to get me to use it.  She is taking it mostly for weight loss however also uses it instead of any other fat in her diet because she says it’s really healthy for you.  How can fats make you lose weight and do you think coconut oil is the best for this?”

Not all fat is created equal!!!  Coconut is actually a saturated fat which we have been told to stay clear of, however this saturated fat behaves so differently in the body than all other saturated fats.

Coconut oil is about 85% – 90% saturated fat which is why it is solid at room temperature and has a long shelf life as well it is extremely stable under high heat.  Butter is about 60% – 65% and beef fat and lard is about 40% saturated fat.  Olive oil is only 15% saturated.  So how is it possible that this fat is actually good for us?   It’s because of the MCT or MCFA oil it contains.  MCFA stands for medium chain fatty acids.  Unlike LCFA’s (long chain fatty acids) that you get from liquid oils, dairy and fatty meats, MCT’s are metabolized differently in the body.  The statement from health officials that ALL saturated fats are bad for you and can cause heart disease is outdated.  Newest studies show that this information is seriously flawed.

  • MCFA’s differ from LCFA’s because they are smaller and easily digested putting less strain on your digestive system. LCFA’s require special enzymes in order for the body to utilize them
  • MCFA’s are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat. LCFA’s are stored in your body as fat and can be deposited in your arteries in the form of cholesterol
  • MCFA’s help to stimulate your metabolism leading to weight loss

Also, don’t confuse man-made saturated fats with natural saturated fats.  Man-made saturated fats are healthy fats that have been manipulated through a process called hydrogenation.  You will see hydrogenated fats or partially hydrogenated fats in the ingredients list of many, many foods.  Hydrogenation means that they can take a good healthy fat, add hydrogen atoms to it while heating the oil, producing rancid, thickened oil (thus solid at room temperature).   I call it plastic fat.  This extends the products shelf life.  The medical and scientific communities are now agreeing that hydrogenated (plastic) oils should be avoided.  These are also called trans fats and everyone has heard of these.  Some cities and states have now banned their use.  These are the same fats that we have always known to be healthy and heart friendly for over 60 years until they manipulate them.  Trans fats are the true enemy!

What foods contain trans fats?

  • Deep fried foods
  • Margarine
  • Cookies, cakes & pies
  • Crackers
  • Microwave popcorn
  • Donuts
  • Biscuits
  • Breakfast sandwiches
  • Frozen pizza

You can get a full list of foods that contain trans fats everywhere on the internet

Cooking with Fats:

In my kitchen, I only use 3 fats.  1. Coconut oil 2. MCT Oil   3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

I use MCT oil and/or Olive oil with balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings.  Never heat the olive oil or MCT oil.  They are not stable under heat and will cause oxidative damage.  Also, most vegetable oils are GMO.  This would include about 90% of the soy, corn and canola oils.  Vegetable oils are also very high in omega 6 which creates an imbalance in the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats.  Excess omega 6 cause a plethora of health issues.  The only fat that is stable under heat is coconut oil so don’t use any other fats to cook with.

More Benefits of Adding Coconut Oil to Your Diet:

  • Coconut oil stimulates metabolism and burns fat
  • Coconut oil is actually amazing at raising the good HDL cholesterol
  • Alzheimer’s disease protection
  • Provides energy
  • Heart healthy
  • Brain health
  • Skin health
  • Immune system support
  • Thyroid support
  • Anti-viral
  • Anti-bacterial
  • Anti-protozoal
  • Anti-microbial

What is Free Radical Damage and Anti-Oxidants?

What is Free Radical Damage and Anti-Oxidants?

If I took an apple and cut it in half and left it out…what happens to it?  It turns brown right?  That’s basically free radical damage…rusting of the cells.  Once oxygen hits the apple it starts to go through oxidative damage.  Now, if I cut it in half and immediately coated the exposed areas with lemon, it won’t turn brown.  I learned this when I was a teenager working in catering.  We made the fruit salad then poured lemon juice to cover it.  I didn’t understand then what I know now.  Basically the anti-oxidants from the lemon (vitamin C etc.) protected the apple from free radical damage.

What is Your Immune System?

Immunology, the study of the immune system, is a complex subject which encompasses all of the cells, chemicals and organs that defend the body against disease: from cold and flu to allergies, from bone marrow to lymph nodes, and from leukemia to AIDS.

Did you know – Your immune system routinely kills cancers?  Your immune system is your body’s defence department. It is able to identify and destroy foreign invaders (bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites) before they cause harm to the body. Once detected, they are tagged for termination and eliminated by immune cells. The immune system battles cancer cells as well. When working optimally, the immune system can identify and eradicate abnormal cells – especially those made abnormal by a virus or carcinogen, before they become problematic.

What Is the ORAC Value in Food?

ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity, or basically how many free radical scavengers are in a food.  The higher level of ORAC the higher anti-oxidant capacity.   It is essential to protect your body all year long through optimal immunity – not just during the traditional cold and flu season. Where to start? Begin with daily preventative measures by increasing foods high in ORAC and anti-oxidants.

What Foods and Supplements are Best to Supply High Anti-Oxidants and ORAC Value?

There are so many things that help keep the immune system strong and fight free radical damage.  Below is a list of foods high in ORAC and anti-oxidants:

Herbs have huge ORAC value and are much higher in the ORAC list than any foods.  Some of the highest would include: cloves, cinnamon, oregano,  garlic, cayenne pepper, turmeric, cocoa, cumin, parsley (dried), basil, ginger, sage and thyme to name a few

Additionally

  • Berries are the highest on the ORAC list for fruit but most fruits are high in ORAC
  • Dark chocolate (yippee!)
  • Red wine (another yippee!)
  • Artichoke
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Most vegetables

There are simply too many foods to list.  For a full list of ORAC value in foods, click this link:  http://www.phytochemicals.info/list-orac-values.php

Vitamins and Supplements

There are many, many, many supplements available now that offer great anti-oxidant protection.  I make a protein shake every morning and add a powdered greens, powdered berries, fish oil and probiotics.  I couldn’t eat all day long and get the amount of nutrients that I get in my shake.  So, if you want to increase your anti-oxidants and protect your body against free-radical damage which causes major diseases including cancer, add the foods mentioned above and consider adding some of these supplements:

  • Superoxide dismutase (SOD)
  • Glutathione
  • Vitamin A, C, E, Selenium (ACES)
  • Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA)
  • CoQ10 (Ubiquinone)
  • Resveratrol (Red wine extract)
  • Carotenoids (Beta carotene for example)
  • Astaxanthin
  • Green Tea