Food and Energy

We all want energy. I can’t recall meeting anyone who didn’t want energy. Food is a necessary component of energy, but it can both provide and rob us of energy. Let’s take a closer look.

Calories are fuel we get from proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, but “empty” calories can only take us so far. Calories from food that provides vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber give the body energy to work, play, think, fight off disease, and build healthy cells. In addition, we need enzymes to digest and absorb these nutrients, or they don’t do us much good.

Two key points for more energy: Eat nutrient-dense foods and cultivate a healthy digestive system.

Eat twice as many nutrient-dense plant foods as animal foods. These include unprocessed whole grains, beans, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Eat them as closely to the way God created them as possible. Eat a variety of colors for a variety of nutrients.

Proper digestion and absorption of nutrients from food depends upon a healthy digestive system. Eating some raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds provides enzymes for digestion. Most cooked and processed foods contain no enzymes, so the body has to provide them via the pancreas, liver, small intestine, and salivary glands. Too much processed food, over time, can overwork these organs.

Healthy gut bacteria also plays an important role in digestion. Many factors can affect the gut microbiome and lead to digestive issues. Among those are the use of antibiotics and other medications, drinking fluoridated water, eating refined foods (sugar, flour, oils, chemical additives, etc.), artificial sweeteners, colors, and flavors, MSG, genetically-modified foods, a lack of fiber, water, and nutrients that nourish healthy bacteria, and chronic stress.

Improperly digested foods and an unbalanced microbiome can lead to inflammation in the digestive tract. Chronic inflammation can contribute to a “sick” gut. A “sick” gut interferes with digestion and absorption of nutrients. A lack of nutrients results in less energy.

Healthy Actions:

Chew food well to give starch-digesting enzymes in saliva time to mix with food before it’s swallowed.

Eat some raw, colorful fruits and veggies every day. Refer to the Dirty Dozen List (ewg.org) to avoid those most heavily sprayed with chemicals.

Eat a handful of raw nuts and/or seeds on most days. Add them to salads, oatmeal, or smoothies.

Eat enough fiber-rich foods to help feed the good bacteria in your gut. Drink enough water. Fiber and water work together to keep the digestive system healthy.

This is a good start! Give your digestive tract time to adjust as you begin to make changes. It may respond with some bloating and other discomforts as it starts to “clean house”. You may need to take a plant-based digestive enzyme with meals and/or a multi-strain probiotic until things settle down.

If you need a plant-based diet with meal plans, grocery shopping lists, recipes, and daily email coaching tips, check out my 6-Week Health Transformation Online Program.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your healthcare provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

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The Flu Vaccine–Yes or No?

It’s that time of year to decide whether or not you will get a flu vaccination. My advice as a health coach is to always make an informed decision about anything that affects the health of you and your family.

Information comes from everywhere–the internet, television ads, magazines, billboards, doctors, pharmacies, people you know, etc. Consider the sources–are they trying to sell you something or were they educated for marketing purposes (e.g. pharmacy companies educating doctors and clinics)?

Are you being made aware of any adverse effects? Are you reading the labels? Is what’s right for someone else right for you?

I believe in self-education, because no one knows your body like you do. Learn more about the flu vaccine at National Vaccine Information Center (www.nvic.org).

Personally, I do not get the flu vaccination. Instead, I strengthen my immune system to help fight viruses. My biggest concern with vaccines is the many toxic additives (like aluminum) that may contribute to chronic disease.

Here are a few things that I do at the first sign of illness:

Drink a cup of water with the juice of half a lemon and a dash of cayenne pepper. Sometimes, I add a little raw honey.

Take elderberry, which has been studied and shown to reduce the “shelf life” of viruses. It comes in syrup, tea, capsules, tinctures, and chewables.

Take vitamin D3 to help support my immune system. Have your levels checked every six months or so to see if you fall within the optimum range of 50-60 ng/ml. In the absence of adequate sunlight, especially during winter, levels can drop, providing less protection against the flu and other viruses.

Eat seasonal foods rich in vitamin C: citrus, organic peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, organic potatoes.

Eat seasonal foods rich in sulfur: onions, garlic, cruciferous vegetables, eggs, sardines (eggs and sardines also contain vitamin D3).

Make sure that my digestive system is working well to eliminate toxins by eating plenty of fiber-rich plant foods and taking a probiotic, since 70 to 80% of the immune system is in the gut.

Hydrate with lots of water and nourishing soups to help flush toxins and keep mucous thin so secondary respiratory infections don’t easily take hold.

Take very warm detox baths with a few drops of lavender essential oil, which has anti-viral and calming properties. Diffusing eucalyptus essential oil is wonderful for a stuffy nose and congestion.

Stop eating refined sugar. Instead of reaching for carbonated soft drinks, popsicles, ice cream, etc., try bone broth, fruit and veggie smoothies, homemade soups, green tea, and herbal teas (God’s pharmacy). I like peppermint, ginger, chamomile, raspberry leaf, elderberry, and holy basil (tulsi). Try stirring a little ground cinnamon into a cup of warm water with some raw honey.

Have some natural cough syrups on hand. Two I like are Olba’s Cough Syrupand Zarbee’s Naturals Kid’s Cough Syrup + Mucous.

Rest, pray, and nourish my spirit with the Word of God–“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory.”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

Register now for the free online Autoimmune Revolution from November 5-11.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Two Hormones that may be Contributing to Excess Belly Fat

To help balance your appetite, you need balanced levels of the hormones ghrelin and leptin.

Ghrelin signals hunger and then decreases for approximately three hours after a meal.  When levels remain chronically high, abdominal fat is often formed, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Leptin signals fullness, affecting your appetite and metabolism.  The right amount is beneficial for weight control.  Studies have shown that foods can either block or increase leptin levels.  You neither want too little or too much.

Eating low-nutrient foods (sodas, refined flours, refined sugars, etc.) can block the production of leptin, which can keep you from feeling full and result in overeating.

Eating low-nutrient foods can also, over time, lead to chronically high leptin levels, and the body can become leptin resistant.  This is similar to how chronically high blood sugar levels can lead to insulin resistance.  Most diabetics are also leptin resistant.  Both conditions can contribute to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.

The good news is that losing excess weight helps increase sensitivity to leptin!

Factors that affect ghrelin and leptin levels:

*MSG (monosodium glutamate) can decrease leptin levels (www.msgtruth.org).

*Omega-3 fats found in walnuts, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish, and seeds (flax, chia, hemp) help balance leptin levels.

*Eating approximately every four hours can help keep ghrelin levels from getting too high so your appetite doesn’t get out of control.

*Eating high-fiber foods can reduce ghrelin by helping you feel full.

*Refined sugars and refined grains increase ghrelin levels.

*Eating too few calories can interfere with ghrelin and leptin levels, actually contributing to weight gain.

*Eating protein at every meal and snack can help lower ghrelin levels.

*Less than seven hours of sleep each night can result in higher ghrelin levels and lower leptin levels.

*Too much stress affects everything, including ghrelin and leptin levels!

My Eat to be Healthy online program is now available!  This is the basic nutrition program that I use with my clients to help them lay a foundation of healthy eating.  I’ve packaged all the PDFs together into a do-it-yourself program, making it extremely cost effective–only $39!

You get 20 PDF documents that you can download to your computer or other device:

Eat to be Healthy Guide to give you a recommended plan of action.

Why Diets Don’t Work

Goal Setting Worksheet

Connecting the Dots template to help you keep track of what you eat and how you feel, along with a link to the Bristol Stool Chart so you can make poop observations.😛

The Healthy Plate Guide (ratio of protein, fat, starchy & non-starchy carbs)

The Healthy Plate Meal Planner Guide template (you can make copies)

and two weeks of Sample Meal Plan Menus

2017 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Seven Tips for Adding Healthy, Whole Foods

20 Healthy Snack Ideas

Guide to a Rainbow of Nutrients

Mindful Eating Tips

Water Works

Factors Affecting Weight Loss

Label Reading Guidelines

Eating Out Tips

List of Healthy Lifestyle Habits (three pages of recommended habits to learn)

Resources (a list of books, websites, apps, and more to help you eat to be healthy)

Scripture for Memorization and Encouragement (God-power vs. willpower)

As a special bonus, when you purchase this program through the link in this blog, I’ll send you a PDF of my 16-page Learning to be Healthy Recipes.

Of course, you can email me with any questions you have about the program and receive additional support, encouragement, and accountability in the private Facebook group:  www.facebook.com/groups/learningtobehealthywithlisa.

Here’s the link to get your Eat to be Healthy online program:

https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=U6KKG824BHUDJ

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

 

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Eating outside the “Box”

After Hurricane Harvey, my household grew by seven–my daughter, son-in-law, three grandkids, and two granddogs.  My husband and I are thankful that we have a dry house where they can stay as they recover from the five feet of water that destroyed their apartment.

School has resumed, and my beautiful grandchildren are up at 6:30 a.m. and out the door shortly after 7:00.  Like so many families, mornings don’t allow much time for breakfast, and convenience foods like toaster pastries and granola bars are easy to grab and eat on the go.  These foods are mostly simple sugars, with insignificant amounts of protein and healthy fat, which are needed to give strength and sustained energy for learning, playing, and growing bodies and minds.

When I quiz them about what they have for school lunches, so far it’s been cheeseburgers, pizza, potatoes, etc.  One of my grandson’s classmates felt sorry for him since he lost his home, so he gave him a Honeybun.  That was a thoughtful act of kindness, but you can see that there’s no shortage of refined carbohydrates available to our children.

My mission as grandma and nutritionist is to find creative ways (outside the “box”) to get nutrients into their bodies so they’ll have the fuel they need to meet academic, physical, and social challenges.  It starts with me being present in the kitchen and dialoguing with them about how food affects their brain and body.  We talk about eating outside the “box”.

I appealed to my 12-year-old grandson by telling him that he needs protein to build muscle.  I offered him a snack bag filled with a handful of raw cashews to put in his back pack.  I cooked some organic frozen corn in a little olive oil and organic butter, and he ate a bowlful for breakfast.  This was eating outside the “box” for him.

My other grandson and granddaughter wanted frozen waffles topped with pure maple syrup and hemp seeds (we call them sprinkles).  The hemp seeds add protein and healthy fats, which the brain needs to function at its best.  My granddaughter took raw cashews (good source of calcium) in her snack bag, and my grandson took raw sunflower seeds (good source of vitamin E).

Two of my three grandkids drank some chlorophyll water (we call it leprechaun juice because it’s green).  Chlorophyll is what makes leaves green.  It helps increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.  We use one from Nature’s Sunshine that’s made from alfalfa and contains spearmint oil, which is a natural remedy for indigestion and bloating.  I mix about one teaspoonful into eight ounces of water.

I remind them to drink water in the mornings to hydrate their brains so they’ll be ready to think.  We do a little math to explain the average amount they need to drink each day.  They divide their weight by two to get the number of ounces of water.  Since they often consume water in bottles, we decide how many they need to drink to meet their daily requirement.

I asked one of my grandsons if he would eat dragons’ tails (green beans) or broccoli for breakfast.  He said yes!  I told him that was eating outside the “box”.  Guess what I’m going to serve in the morning?

My grandchildren are helping me experiment with different “energy bar” recipes.  The first one I tried was the consistency of sticky cookie dough, which they enjoyed as an after-school snack and again this morning.  I mixed almond flour (a handful of ground almonds) with collagen powder (protein), raw honey, unsweetened applesauce, coconut flour, vanilla, unsweetened peanut butter, and dairy-free chocolate chips.  They were a hit!

I also try to use meal time to teach them to read ingredients on packaged foods and drinks.  Little by little, we must teach our children to learn to be healthy.  It’s foundational to their success!

Come on over to the Learning to be Healthy Facebook Group and share some healthy breakfast and snack tips or a favorite energy bar recipe!

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need.  Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Your Brain on Sugar

Refined sugar creates inflammation, which decreases blood flow to the brain.  This can trigger anxiety, depression, fatigue and headaches.  Studies done by Johns Hopkins University have even implicated sugar as a trigger for seizures!

Sugar lights up the brain’s dopamine pathways similar to that of drugs and alcohol.  Research done by Dr. David Kessler found that rats worked much harder for a milk shake high in sugar and fat, and the more sugar that was added, the more they consumed.

Stress increases cortisol levels, which can increase appetite and cravings for sugar.  Lack of sleep (less than six hours a night) contributes to stress and signals the brain to release hormones that increase appetite and sugar cravings.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that consuming sugar forms harmful molecules (AGEs) that can damage the brain, as well as the collagen and elastin that helps keep skin firm and supple.

Refined sugar comes in many forms.  Packaged foods often contain several sources of sugar.  Some of its many names include:

Sugar/Invert Sugar

Lactose/Maltose/Galactose/Dextrose/Fructose/Glucose (words ending in “ose”)

High-fructose Corn Syrup/Corn Syrup

Maltodextrin

Dehydrated Cane Juice/Crystals

Sucanat (better form of refined sugar)

Malt Syrup/Barley Malt

Turbinado Sugar

Honey/Agave (unless raw, it may be refined)

Beware of how much sugar you’re getting from all sources–sauces, dressings, cereals, crackers, nut butters, snack foods, etc.  Even if you’re eating a “health” food, check the ingredients!

Whole carbohydrates contain fiber, which decreases inflammation and cholesterol, which improves blood flow to the brain.  Fiber reduces how quickly blood sugar is elevated and helps release steady fuel to the brain, preventing sudden “crashes”.  Always check the labels of packaged foods for fiber content.  Aim for a minimum of 25 grams of fiber in your daily diet.

Replace liquid sugar (soft drinks, energy drinks, sweetened tea, etc.) with water, green or herbal tea, or lemonade sweetened with raw honey or raw stevia.

Only consume fruit juice in moderation.  Instead, eat whole fruit, which contains fiber.

When consuming an occasional sweet treat, add some fiber to it.  Top your ice cream with nuts.

Subtract the number of fiber grams per serving from the number of carbohydrates per serving to see how actively the food/beverage will raise your blood sugar.  Try to keep this number between 15 to 25 grams, especially if you are trying to lose weight or have blood sugar challenges.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist I& Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.learningtobehealthy.com/healthy-start-30-day-challenge.html

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

 

Date nut bread–a delicious and healthy Christmas treat!

Date nut bread is one of my favorite recipes that can be eaten for breakfast, dessert, or as a healthy snack.  If you are gluten intolerant or don’t eat wheat, substitute the whole wheat flour with almond flour or coconut flour.  If you don’t care for pecans, try walnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, almonds, etc.

The recipe:

2 eggs (whole or just the whites)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or expeller-pressed grape seed or avocado oil)

1/4 cup raw honey

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (or almond or coconut flour)

1/4 teaspoon mineral-rich salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

8 ounces coarsely chopped dates

2 cups raw pecans (or other nuts)

Beat eggs with honey and oil.  Mix flour, salt, and cinnamon, then stir into egg mixture.  Fold in dates and nuts.  Grease a baking pan with oil (coconut, olive, grape seed, or avocado).  Bake at 350 degrees until toothpick inserted into batter comes out clean.  A 9 x 5 x 2-inch loaf pan takes about 45 minutes.  An 8- or 9-inch square pan takes about 25 minutes.  Cool and cut into squares or slices.

The nutritional value:

Dates, nuts, and raw honey contain boron, a trace mineral which helps boost blood levels of estrogen and other compounds that help prevent calcium loss and bone demineralization.

Dates are high in natural aspirin and have a laxative effect.  They are linked to lower rates of certain cancers, especially pancreatic cancer.

Nuts are a key food among Seventh-Day Adventists, who are known for their low rates of heart disease.  Most nuts are high in vitamin E, shown to protect against chest pain and artery damage.

Nuts and cinnamon help to regulate insulin and slow down blood sugar spikes.

Whole-grain wheat contains selenium, a trace mineral important for the immune system and thyroid.

Extra-virgin olive oil is a good source of vitamin E, making it beneficial for heart health.

Egg yolks contain vitamin D and choline, a B-complex vitamin needed for liver and brain health.

Date nut bread makes a yummy Christmas gift.  I often bake it in mini loaf pans for this purpose.

Make your holiday celebrations delicious and nutritious!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com (Nature’s Sunshine supplements)

www.mealgarden.com/expert/lisahernandez

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.

Citrus fruit–nature’s seasonal medicine!

Citrus fruits supply a healthy amount of vitamin C, which helps protect our bodies from cell damage, as well as improve skin, gums, mood, and memory.  Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of calcium and iron.

A deficiency of vitamin C has been linked to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The National Cancer Institute has called oranges a complete package of every known natural anti-cancer inhibitor.

Citrus fruits contain pectin, a soluble fiber which helps control cholesterol levels and binds with toxins in the digestive tract to remove them from the body.  In animals, pectin was shown to inhibit the metastasis of prostate and melanoma cancers.

Pectin has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar by lowering glucose absorption in those with type 2 diabetes.

Limone is found in the oil of the peel of oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes, and in smaller amounts in the pulp.  Limone has been shown to cause the regression of tumors.  Studies have shown lower rates of certain cancers in those who regularly consume citrus peel.

Eat some of the pith (white part between the fruit and peel), as it contains high amounts of fiber, pectin, limonene, and other health-protecting compounds.  The peel also has beneficial amounts of these substances, but you need to wash the fruit well and buy organic.

Citrus fruits contain potassium, which helps keep bones strong and protect the cardiovascular system.

Citrus fruits contain flavonoids that help strengthen blood vessel walls and are widely used in Europe to treat diseases of the blood vessels and lymph system, including hemorrhoids, easy bruising, and nosebleeds.

Citrus flavonoids have also been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth, act as anti-inflammatories, and possess anti-viral activity.

An average orange contains about 64 mg of vitamin C, 238 mg of potassium, 61 mg of calcium, and 3 grams of fiber.

Orange pulp contains twice the amount of vitamin C as the peel and 10 times that found in the juice!

For the most health benefits, eat the whole fruit, preferably organic.  When consuming juice, squeeze it fresh.  There is much nutrient loss in packaged juices.  If you do buy juice, choose those with high pulp content to get more of the fiber and pectin.

Eat a serving or two daily during citrus season.  Choose from oranges, tangerines, kumquats, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.

Tip:  When choosing a vitamin C supplement, look for one that contains bioflavonoids.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach

1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”

www.learningtobehealthy.com

www.mealgarden.com/expert/lisahernandez

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com

www.pinterest.com/healthywithlisa

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.  It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.