FIT Talk With Tania  

You are what you absorb

Using supplements

New health trends are always popping up and because of that, I’m always learning, researching and growing.

One of the most eye-opening things I learned a while back has recently become a bit of a buzz in health. You are not necessarily what you eat, you're only what your body can absorb. Lightbulb moment for sure right?

The way your body absorbs and utilizes nutrients is almost more important than the nutrient consumption itself. For example, often times you may be eating the right amount of a protein, but your body may not be digesting it properly. And if it can't digest a food, it can't break the food down into small enough molecules and therefore be unable to fully absorb it.

In this instance, it doesn't make sense to just add in more protein to your next meal. Adding more of something your body isn't capable of using is tantamount to raising your voice and slowing your speech trying to get a point across to someone who doesn't speak the same language as you do. Yelling at them won't make them capable of understanding you anymore than adding more protein won't make your body capable of absorbing the nutrients.

Creating the right conditions within your body so that your body is better able to absorb, metabolize and digest that protein is what does the trick. And the right supplements can most definitely help support your body to better absorb.

For some people, however, there is a bit of a “resistance mindset” to the suggestion of certain supplements. Or any supplements for that matter. I addressed this in one of my columns a while back but it bares repeating. I still can't pinpoint it but I have two thoughts.

First, there's the belief that we can get all the nutrients we need just from food. And while it is possible, the likelihood that we're all eating enough high quality, organic, non-gmo foods 100 percent of the time is just not feasible. Even my vegetarian and vegan daughters aren't eating 10 to 13 servings of fruits and veggies per day.

Second, I think it has to do with a mindset about "being sold to." That the chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist, functional medicine doctor, etc., is only trying to sell you something. And nobody likes that, present company included.

As a health professional myself, trust me, health pros become affiliates for a certain product(s) because of the benefits they experience for themselves and see in their clients and patients. Period.

It's not about how much money they can make, it’s about how many people they can help. Do ask your practitioner if he or she uses the products they're recommending to you. Their answer will tell you a lot.

It is, however, important to note that we need certain supplementation to help properly absorb the food we eat so that it will all be used for good and benefit your body in the way it was intended.

So when your health and wellness expert, whom you trust and whose reputation is on the line, suggests a product, (or treatment) believe them. After all, wasn't that why you booked the appointment in the first place, to get their advice?

You'll listen to your trainer about fitness (heck some people even pay more for a trainer who will put you through crazy, intense workouts), to your chiropractor about how to lift and carry things, to your nutritionist on what foods to eat, what to look for on labels and why you should avoid it, your naturopath on what foods to avoid, so why suddenly become skeptical when any one of those practitioners recommends a supplement?

I've thought long and hard about this and aside from the obvious, “I don't have time” or “Not sure I can spend the extra money right now,” try replacing “I don't have time” with “That's not a priority” and you'll see perspective get shifted real quick.

The other one I hear a lot is, “I can't afford it,” which, for a vast majority of people isn't really as true as they'd have themselves believe.

Try this. Open up all your cupboards, your pantry, freezer, etc., and grab a calculator. Tally up the cost of all the non-essential, empty-calorie food you have. How about the dollar value of drive-through trips for the month? Dinners out? You see where this is going, right?

The vitamins your naturopath suggested or the digestive enzymes your nutritionist recommended somehow got replaced with some random brand that popped up while you were scrolling social media. Or maybe “Dr. Google” told you it wasn't necessary at all.

It really doesn't matter what the reason or excuse may be. The Bottom line is Tik Tok, Facebook, Costco or Amazon should never have more influence over the people who take the time to know you, are educated in their field and who want what’s best for you.

For more information on supplements, absorption, and digestion, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Counting calories is the wrong way to lose weight

Stop counting calories

For decades, one of the most common ways people have tried to lose weight is by counting calories.

We've been led to believe that by simply taking in fewer calories than we burn off, those unwanted pounds will fall away and be gone forever.

On paper and in our heads this makes sense. After all, if you normally consume 2000 calories per day and then drop down to 1500 calories per day, the math supports that you should lose weight. And you will—at first.

Like many other diets out there, this “calories in vs. calories out” is based solely on numbers, without taking into account things like nutrition, health, fitness goals, etc. It's possible to hit your number target for the day in any number of unhealthy ways, many of which actually work against the way the body was designed to function, resulting in a slower metabolism and even compromised immune function.

Restricting or cutting out entire food groups, excessive exercise, consuming pre-packaged, low-calorie meals, skipping meals in order to “save” those calories to be consumed later in the day, all focus on one thing, calories. How to keep them from entering the body, and/or how to burn off as many as possible of the ones that got in. Sound exhausting?

In order to lose just one pound, the body has to either burn off or create a deficit of 3,500 calories. That's a big number. And focusing on that number— counting, doing the math, buying low-cal packaged foods, working out like a crazy person, checking your FitBit or Apple Watch —hoping to hit those targets is work. A lot of work.

As I said earlier, you can get results doing this but for most people, it's short-lived. It’s no wonder statistics say less than one percent of people can maintain a diet for life. Honestly, diets are liars. They make promises and never deliver long-term.

Aside from the obvious stress of counting calories and the pressure to be perfect in order to achieve results, this approach doesn't address any of the six components of health – stress, sleep, water, nutrition, exercise and supplements. In fact all it does is really just create more stress, mentally from trying to be perfect and get those numbers to line up, and physically due to the lack of attention paid to creating health.

On the flip side, when we focus on building up the body and doing things that create health, making our calories count, rather than counting the calories, great things begin to happen. In fact the only time I look at calorie consumption with my clients is if they aren't eat enough. Yep, that's right. More often than not the people I work with are not eating enough. They come from that place of restriction and are afraid that if they eat more they will gain weight when in fact their bodies are not taking in enough nutrients to get the job done.

Not providing your body enough nutrients causes your body to go into starvation mode, saving and storing almost everything it does get, as fat. Once you understand this and start giving your body what it needs, it's amazing the wonderful things that begin to happen in very short order.

Choose whole, single-ingredient foods, put together in a way that stabilizes blood sugar. Drink lots of clean water, get out and move every day, reduce stress, get enough sleep so you feel rested in the morning and use quality supplements to fill the gaps in meals, nutrition and nutrients.

Repeat that daily for best results. By doing so, you’ll create healthy habits that, when maintained consistently over time, will help you to not only look and feel better, burn fat, lose weight and turn on metabolism, they will also help balance your hormones, reverse disease, increase energy, improve concentration and focus and strengthen your immune system. That’s a pretty cool list of side effects.

So, as you think about your next meal, snack, grocery shop or dinner out, focus on the food rather than the number of calories. When you buy, prepare, serve and order more whole, single-ingredient foods, your meals will naturally be higher in vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and fibre, while at the same time contain far less sugar, no additives or preservatives.

And yes, there will also be a lot fewer calories. Naturally.

If you're looking for more ways to make your calories count and take back control of your health, join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes! group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Hydration when water alone is not enough

Your body needs hydration

Your body is about 70 percent water. And because you are mostly water, it shouldn't be a surprise that every function your body does, requires and relies on adequate amounts of water in your body in order to complete that function.

According to the Mayo Clinic's Healthy Lifestyle page under Nutrition and healthy eating, water is responsible for; “regulating your body temperature, moistens the tissues in the mouth, eyes, and nose, lubricates joints, lessens the burden on the kidneys and liver by flushing out waste products, carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells, protects body organs and tissues, helps prevent constipation, and helps dissolve minerals and other nutrients to make them accessible to the body.”

Not only does water play a role in the physical functioning of the body, but it's very important for our brain as well. In an article by Dr. Joshua Gowin, published in Psychology Today, Dr. Gowin writes, “Our brains depend on proper hydration to function optimally. Brain cells require a delicate balance between water and various elements to operate, and when you lose too much water, that balance is disrupted. Your brain cells lose efficency.”

He goes on to note that when we're dehydrated, it's more difficult to stay focused and pay attention, short-term and long-term memory can be affected, and the ability to do mental math is compromised as well. Not to mention the poor metabolism digestion, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, headaches and irritability that often show up when you're a quart low. Headaches used to be my “tell” many years ago when I wasn't so intentional with making sure to drink water throughout the day.

A good amount would be to aim for consuming two to three litres for women and three to four litres for men everyday. Oh, and just a little FYI, when you're feeling thirsty, you're already dehydrated.

Even though most people know they should be drinking more water, one of the things I hear a lot is, people don't like the taste of water.

They drink juice, soda, coffee, tea, alcohol, throughout the day but very little water. And because all of these items are nutrient deficient and some even cause the body to get rid of water, 75 percent of people in North America are chronically dehydrated. Over time, this becomes problematic when you think of all the bodily functions constantly disrupted and stressed because of it.

Along with the majority of people suffering from chronic dehydration, many are also not getting the electrolytes they need. Electrolytes are minerals such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, bicarbonate found in the blood, sweat and urine.

Like water, electrolytes are also vital to certain bodily functions. Healthline posted on its website that electrolytes are, “..crucial to keeping your nervous system and muscles functioning and your internal environment balanced”.

For example, calcium is needed for muscle contraction whereas magnesium is needed for muscle extension as well as helps with digestion and elimination. Sodium, in the right amounts, helps to keep the right amount of water inside and out of the cells. Electrolytes help keep you hydrated and regulates your internal pH, another element required to be in balance so that we may have good health. Symptoms such as dizziness, muscle cramping, weakness or twitching, mental confusion, irregular heartbeat, and/or digestive issues such as cramping, constipation or diarrhea may indicate an electrolyte deficiency or imbalance.

Proper hydration and electrolyte balance are important anytime of the year, but as the weather is warming up and we're getting ready for the summer heat, it's even more important.

Here are a few things you can do to help increase your water intake and stay balanced.

• Use a water bottle that you like. Determine how many of them you'll need to drink to get in what you need everyday. It's not such a big deal if you tell yourself you need to drink three water bottles everyday, rather than 12 cups, right?

• Try replacing one caffeinated and/or sugary (this includes fruit juice) beverage with a glass of water.

• Download a water app on your phone and/or use reminders to have a drink.

• Eat water-filled foods.

• Choose whole, clean foods in a wide variety, to get more nutrients.

• Add an electrolyte packet to one or two of your water bottles everyday. The flavour itself tends to make people drink more water which is a great start.

Everyone needs electrolytes but it's especially important if you are working at a physical job, work out hard, sweat a lot, spend time outside in the heat, lay on the beach all day, have poor circulation, already experience muscle cramping, dizziness, easily distracted in your day, and/or you don't drink the amount of water you know you should be.

For more health tips and to participate in the next 21 Day Reset, go to 8 Weeks is All it Takes on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

Trace minerals—What they are and why we need them

Healthy trace minerals

We've all heard that our bodies need vitamins and minerals in order to stay healthy.

Most people—especially given the health concerns over the past few years—are now taking vitamins, if they weren't before. Vitamins C, D, and B are a good place to start if you're one of those who hasn't started, or didn't know where to start. But what about the minerals? Trace minerals to be precise.

Some, like iron, you likely have heard about, and may be even supplementing already. But iron's not the only one.

Trace minerals are compounds that are essential to your body's proper development and function. They are essential because your body does not produce them, you must get them from your food and/or supplementation and although small amounts are all that is needed, a lack of these important minerals can lead to a variety of health concerns.

Too much of a good thing isn't a good thing either, mind.

If you think you may be lacking in one, some or all of these nutrients, I recommend booking in with your doctor or naturopath for some blood work to see where you're at. That being said, improvements can always be made by eating a healthy, balanced, varied menu, free of processed foods and then supplementing with a good antioxidant and nitric oxide support to reduce inflammation and support better absorption of all the goodness you're putting in. After all, you're not just what you eat, you're really only what you can absorb.

So, let's look at the nine primary trace minerals deemed essential in maintaining overall health. Each individual mineral comes with its own benefits.

• Iron – It is used by the body to make hemoglobin and myoglobin to carry oxygen throughout the body and to the muscles. Look to add foods like spinach, broccoli, beets and the tops, chicken, beef, turkey, mussels, oysters, sardines, salmon, tuna, haddock, perch, beans, peas, apricots, raisins, nuts and seeds to support iron levels.

• Manganese – It supports tissue and bone health and also helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Foods like mussels, brown rice, hazelnuts, chickpeas, spinach, pineapple, whole wheat bread, black tea, potatoes contain manganese.

• Molybdenum – It assists the body in breaking down amino acids and sulphites and prevents harmful toxins from building up. Eating foods like legumes, kidney/lima/navy beans, nuts, soy, dairy, leafy veggies, eggs, liver, tomatoes all contain molybdenum.

• Copper – It enables the body to make red blood cells and supports healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, heart and immune health. Organ meats, oysters, spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, nuts and seeds, lobster, leafy greens, dark chocolate, all contain come copper.

• Iodine – It is key in production of thyroid hormones, as well as proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy. Seaweed, cod, dairy, shrimp, tuna, eggs, prunes, lima beans, are all great choices to help get more iodine into your body.

• Zinc – It supports the immune system, helps support a healthy inflammatory response is key for growth and DNA synthesis. Foods like oysters, lamb, seeds, beef, chickpeas, lentils, cocoa powder, cashews, avocado, mushrooms, spinach, are some examples of ways to add some zinc into your day.

• Cobalt – It enables the body to make red blood cells, helps prevent infections and is essential for the formation of vitamin B12. Dark chocolate, cheese, rice, figs, fish, meat, nuts, green veggies, butter, fruit are all foods you can add in to support cobalt levels.

• Selenium – It protects again heart disease as well as some types of cancer, is antioxidant rich to assist in reducing oxidative stress which brings down inflammation, and balances hormones. Brazil nuts, seafood, lean meat, rice, eggs, oatmeal, are all things you should be incorporating in to support selenium levels in your body.

As you can see, there are a lot of foods that cross over and support more than one trace mineral. That is great news because it means by adding in some of those foods, you can target and support more minerals.

Variety and nutrient diversity is not only key to creating optimal nutrient levels, it also plays a role in creating a healthy gut as well.

For more information and support on how to create and maintain balanced nutrition, join the 8 Weeks is all it Takes group on Facebook.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

More FIT Talk With Tania articles

About the Author

Nutritionist Tania Gustafson, owner of FIT Nutrition, has been active in the health and fitness industry since 1986 when she entered as a fitness instructor and trainer.

In 2011, Tania partnered with internationally renowned nutrition and fitness expert Mark Macdonald, and in 2017 officially earned the title of Master Nutrition Coach in conjunction with Venice Nutrition and the International Board of Nutrition and Fitness Coaches (IBNFC).

Tania is one of only five health professionals licensed and certified in Canada to deliver this proven, three-phase program of blood sugar stabilization, not dieting.Tania is committed to ending the dieting madness both locally and globally and educates her clients on how to increase health with age.

Tania is able to work with clients across Canada, the U.S. and U.K. to restore health and achieve their weight loss goals.Tania is a wife, mother of three adult children, global entrepreneur, speaker, workshop facilitator, writer, blogger, podcast host, travel junkie and self-proclaimed gym rat.

For more information and to book your complimentary health assessment go to www.fuelignitethrive.com. Check https://www.facebook.com/fuelignitethrive/  and https://www.facebook.com/groups/8weeksisallittakes/

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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