31 Days of Health. Day 20: Reduce Starches

Reduce your starch intake is the name of the game today!

To understand starch, you must first understand glucose. Glucose is a single unit of sugar or, carbohydrate, and it is the most used source of fuel by your body and brain. When one glucose unit bonds with another…
…and another…
…and another…
a large chain of glucose is formed – this is called starch. Starch is stored energy for both plants and humans. For example, when glucose is unavailable for fuel in your body, such as during a period of fasting, or increased physical activity, starch is obtained from the liver to be broken down into glucose for energy use.

Plants that are known for significant starch content include potatoes, peas, corn, legumes/beans, and grains. A higher starch content = higher carbohydrate content = higher calorie content. But it’s not exactly the calories that are a concern. It is the carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates are the most readily digested macronutrient. Why? Because they all break down to glucose, and your body needs this simple sugar to keep you alive! Once glucose is obtained, it is absorbed into the bloodstream and used by cells to carry out all sorts of processes constantly happening throughout your body and brain. However, there is a cap on how much glucose is needed at one time. Excess glucose is stored in the liver in the form of starch; or in the adipose tissue as fat.

Heavy intake of starches leads to frequently elevated blood sugars, and/or increased storage of fat. Therefore, a higher intake of starchy foods may lead to reduced insulin sensitivity (as a result of having frequently elevated blood sugars), and weight gain. As you may recall from Day 7 (Avoid Sugar), excess fat mass is inflammatory, which can lead to several chronic diseases and other ailments.

Don’t get me wrong, starches are not on the No-No list. Many foods that contain starch also contain a good dose of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and sometimes even protein! Balancing them with other non-starchy foods, including healthy protein and fat sources, is the ideal way to incorporate these foods into your diet. I do, however, recommend choosing starchy vegetables over grains most often as vegetables will offer a greater range of nutrients; and when choosing grain foods, choose whole foods over processed types more often (i.e. bulgur wheat over whole grain bread).

So for today, plan to eat less potatoes, peas, corn, legumes, or grain foods such as rice, pasta, bread, and cereal.

Enjoy!

31 Days of Health. Day 19: Pump up the Potassium

I am very excited to talk about potassium today! Potassium is a mineral that many people are not getting nearly as much as they need. And a very interesting fact about potassium is that most folks typically associate bananas with potassium. But guess what!? Bananas have LESS potassium per ounce than MANY other foods!!!

The daily recommended intake (DRI) for potassium is 4,700 milligrams (mg). Most Americans are consuming about half of that. (Getting to the why you need potassium in just a sec! But first, let’s compare!) One medium banana weighs about 4oz and contains 422 milligrams (mg) of potassium. Now check out the quantities of potassium in the following foods, each weighing 4oz:

Beet Greens: 1,072mg
Fresh Spinach: 658mg
Swiss Chard: 647mg
Potato: 631mg
Yellowfin Tuna: 621mg
Sweet Potato: 560mg (remember Day 5?? 😊)
Lima Beans: 473mg

Other foods that contain about the same amount of potassium, if not more, as bananas per ounce include bok choy, tomatoes, broccoli, beets, and papaya. You’ll find there is quite the trend here for fruits and vegetables being great sources for potassium….Another benefit of a plant-focused diet!

Consuming plenty of potassium daily is associated with normal blood pressure. High blood pressure is linked to high sodium diets, and interestingly, a diet low in fruits and vegetables while high in heavily processed foods contains excessive sodium. Alternately, diets high in fruits and vegetables, hence high in potassium, are linked with regular blood pressure, and therefore a reduced risk for stroke. And let’s think back to Day 13’s healthy challenge to eat a plant-based diet – remember all the benefits that come with limiting animal products!? Are you starting to see the connection to an improved quality of health??

I hope you value your life more than enough to avoid risking a stroke.

Pack in that potassium! Eat more fruits and veggies!
Alyssa

If you need some help getting your potassium intake straightened out, I LOVE talking heart health. I believe in following your heart, so I believe in taking care of that baby. Get in touch with me if you’re ready to get to work. Thanks for being here!

31 Days of Health. Day 17: Get Adventurous

You know what I believe is a key component in achieving fabulous health? Having an adventurous spirit! It appears that most people associate adventure with extreme activity like frequent traveling, rock climbing and bungee jumping. While those definitely make the cut, being adventurous is simply trying something new; something outside of your comfort zone. And it totally applies to food, too.

You don’t have to be a trendy “foodie” to consider yourself an adventurous eater. If you’ve never even heard of, or seen an heirloom tomato before, you have an opportunity lying before you! If you are not open to trying new things, you will stay exactly where you are. If you want something you never had, you have to do something you’ve never done. How can you expect to achieve a different (healthier) lifestyle by doing the same things day after day?

Your task for today is to try something you haven’t had – or done­ – before. Is there a food that’s been buzzing in your ear lately? What little messages have you been getting, making you feel like you should do something a little differently? Fear of the unknown keeps us stuck exactly where we are. Think of the last time you did do something that was new for you, and what your experience was like following. Or, think only about what the positive outcomes will be as a result of trying something new.  Feel that satisfaction and excitement of busting down that wall and discovering what’s available to you on the other side! Then it’s on to the next one!

Let’s get it!

31 Days of Health. Day 13: Eat a Plant-Based Diet

Do you think you can go just one day without any animal products in your diet? That is today’s suggested healthy action. Research has continued to show that plant-based diets are associated with a higher quality of life. Plant-based diets can lead to a healthy weight, reduced chronic diseases such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer; reduced frequency of getting sick, and overall longer life!

I am not an advocate for eating vegan, nor do I follow a vegan way of life. But nixing the animal products for a day, or at the very least significantly reducing them in a day, brings a different, delicious dose of wellness into your life. I don’t think it’s necessary you go hardcore to make this happen for one day. It is actually quite simple to do, especially if it is only for a day. Here are the foods that should be ignored to qualify your intake as plant-based:

  • Eggs
  • Beef, poultry, pork, fish, and any other source of meat
  • Dairy milk, cream, yogurt and cheese
  • Butter

Sources of protein can come from legumes, or tofu. If you like cooking with butter, you can try cooking with olive oil; if you like putting butter on bread, try extra-virgin olive oil. Throw some garlic and herbs into the oil to give it a little flavor if that is something new for you. Which, trust me, it’s a stark difference in taste! If you like drinking milk, you can try almond milk, or other nut-milks. Non-dairy yogurt is available if you want to explore some more options. If you like cream in your coffee or tea, try it black or with coconut milk (the canned, actual coconut milk – not coconut beverage sold in the same section as dairy milk).

Do continue to keep this reminder pulsing every day: keep food as close to nature as possible. So instead of bread, you could have brown rice, bulgur, or quinoa. And instead of having olive oil with that bread, you could eat a few olives.

Plant-based diets tend to offer a whole lot more fiber and phytonutrients that you aren’t getting from animal-sourced foods. I suggest trying the plant-based diet – or a mostly plant-based diet – just for one day to assist you in exploring ways to reduce your intake of animal-based foods. It is not wrong to eat these foods, but for some people, they take the place of more veggies, fruit, or whole grains (btw, I am getting sick of these two words because it seems many folks are misunderstanding and abusing them, so please note that when I refer to whole grains, I mean a minimally processed, whole food: not cookies made with whole wheat flour). The low intake of fiber, alone, associated with a typical American diet is one that significantly raises the risk for colon cancer. To me, it is a no-brainer: why play this game of Russian Roulette?

If you’re ready to try this action today and you need some assistance, I am here to help you through! Comments are below, or contact me directly if you’re looking for some healthier oomph in your life!

Thanks for reading, and I will see you here again tomorrow!
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 10: Give Some Thought for Food

Hello there, and welcome to Day 10!

Today is relatively simple. I just want you to do some thinking. Think about the food you eat! Where did it come from? How was it made? What nutrients are present in that food? Read a package’s nutrition facts and ingredients label to get your mind reeling!

Food for Thought #1. I recommend looking at the ingredients first. The nutrition facts give an estimate of how many macronutrients are present, along with a few select micronutrients such as sodium, calcium and iron. But that is only a teeny-tiny snapshot! Reading through the ingredients can be very eye-opening concerning what you are putting into your body, and what the nutrition facts aren’t telling you! For example: the FDA does not require manufacturers to indicate Trans Fat on the nutrition facts label if it is less than 0.5g. Unfortunately, you then think you’re making a healthier choice because Trans Fat says 0g, meanwhile there is actually 0.4g and you choose to eat 3 servings, taking in 1.2g of Trans Fat. How the hell are you supposed to know if there is trans fat?? Here’s your keyword: partially hydrogenated oil.

Similarly, added sugars may be hiding in your food, as they will not be indicated on the nutrition facts label when less than 1g. Again, you will have to look to the ingredients label and look for *sugar* *corn syrup solids* *high fructose corn syrup* *honey* *dextrose* *glucose syrup* just to name “a few.”

Food for Thought #2. I’m going to bring this back to something I noted on Day 7. Stick with food that is closest to nature. The simpler your food, the better it is for your body. Or in other words, the less processing a food must go through, the better. Packaged food needs to be preserved so that it can last a long time. Some preserving ingredients can include salt, sugar, and nitrates or nitrites. You can also find fillers and dyes in highly processed foods. Altogether, the more processed a food, the more sugar, unhealthy fats, sodium, or possibly carcinogenic ingredients you will find.

Give your body some much needed love, and keep your intake of jarred, boxed, bagged, and frozen foods to a minimum! Sure, this might threaten your available time if you typically like the convenience of these foods, but remember that all things are temporary, embrace the adventure, and explore what other benefits are available to you on the other side!!

Let me know in the comments what chain-reaction thoughts you had with today’s health challenge!

Happy Thursday,
Alyssa

Hey – there is so much more to this, and I’d hate for you to feel confused, or lose steam, along your healthy changes journey. Sign up with Healthie today to keep your momentum propelling forward! You have worked hard, and you totally deserve it. First consultation is always free with no commitments necessary! Win-Win 😊