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.

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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.

 

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.

 

Are your eyes, skin, and immune system indicating that you might be lacking in vitamin A?

One of the first signs of a possible vitamin A deficiency is poor night vision, an inability of the eyes to adjust to darkness.  Additional signs that a lack of vitamin A may be affecting the eyes are difficulty distinguishing between blue and yellow, dry or inflamed eyes, and styes.  When eyes are exposed to long periods of watching television, computer screens, or glaring lights, more vitamin A may be required.

Skin, hair, and nails can also reflect inadequate vitamin A levels.  Some signs of possible deficiency can include weak or brittle nails and hair, skin that is dry and/or scaly, dry or dull hair, tiny bumps on the backs of the upper arms, dry mouth, roughness on elbows, dandruff, and skin pigmentation abnormalities.

Vitamin A is also crucial for a healthy immune system, adrenal glands, and thyroid, and for building strong bones and teeth.  A deficiency can lead to a loss of vitamin C, and zinc is needed to transport vitamin A from the liver to where is it needed in the body.  Breathing polluted air may increase the need for vitamin A.

There has been much research on the relationship between vitamin A and cancer risk.  Animal studies have shown that cancer-causing carcinogens remain more active when there is a vitamin A deficiency.  Vitamin A has a protective effect against cancer on the tissues of the skin, throat, and lungs.  Many studies have suggested that cancers of the bladder, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon/rectum, uterus, cervix, and prostate benefit from beta-carotene (gives plants their yellow and orange color), which is converted to vitamin A in the body.

Researchers found that vitamin A can significantly reduce the immune-depressive effects of radiation and chemotherapy treatments!

A high intake of carotenes (plant forms of vitamin A) is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease.

The best way to get your vitamin A is from food, and since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin, you must eat enough good fat to help absorb it.  In contrast, vitamin A is destroyed by harmful fats like hydrogenated and other refined oils, as well as deep-fried foods.  These are in most processed foods!  Animal foods like butter, milk, cheese, and eggs contain vitamin A, but when the fat is skimmed off milk, so is the vitamin A.  If you throw away the egg yolks, you won’t get the vitamin A.  When it comes to animal foods, they are only as healthy as the animals they came from.  The animals get vitamin A from eating their natural diet (grass-fed), and if they were given antibiotics and/or hormones, it can affect our health.

Eat fruits and vegetables that are yellow-orange like carrots (that’s where carotene got its name), squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, orange and yellow peppers, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, and pineapple.  The deeper the color, the greater the beta-carotene content.  Green vegetables are also rich sources of beta-carotene.  The chlorophyll that makes them green overpowers the yellow-orange pigments and is a good cleanser for the digestive tract and blood.  Spinach, kale, and beet greens actually contain more beta-carotene than carrots.

To get more carotene from vegetables, lightly cook them to rupture the cell membranes, and eat them with healthy fats and protein.  Sometimes, I eat half of a baked sweet potato for breakfast.  I pre-bake the potato the night before, and then squeeze it out of its skin into a pan the next morning.  While it’s warming on the stove, I add some organic butter or ghee, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, dried cranberries, and walnuts or pumpkin seeds.  You could use coconut oil in place of the butter.

The recommended daily amount of beta-carotene is 1,000 to 5,000 RE (retinol equivalent) in the form of beta-carotene, which is non-toxic.  Preformed vitamin A can be toxic and should only be taken under the advice of your health care provider.

Nature’s Sunshine makes an excellent supplement called Carotenoid Blend. (www.learningtobehealthy.mynsp.com).

An average carrot contains 1,000 RE.

Baked Carrots:

Wash, cut off tops, and peel outer layer (optional) of several whole organic carrots.  Lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with extra-virgin olive, avocado, or coconut oil.  Use your hands to coat the carrots with the oil.  If desired, sprinkle with some mineral-rich salt, garlic, black pepper, fresh herbs, etc.  Bake at 350 degrees until fork tender.  The amount of time will vary, depending on the thickness of your carrots, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

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 (Carotenoid Blend by Nature’s Sunshine)

www.facebook.com/learningtobehealthy

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.

Focus on learning with healthy fats!

Besides water, our brains are composed of mostly fat.  They need both to properly transmit signals.  When these signals are weak, it becomes more difficult to concentrate, remember things, and to control moods.

Omega-3 fats play an important role in allowing brain cells to transmit signals.  They also help the body to release serotonin, which can improve moods and relieve depression.

Children’s brains need omega-3 fats to help them stay calm and focused in the classroom.

Wild-caught fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel are excellent sources of healthy fats.  Avoid farm-raised fish.  If you choose to take a fish oil supplement, buy one that’s certified mercury free.  I buy Sunshine Heroes Omega-3 with DHA to give to my grandkids.

Avocados contain omega-3 fats.  Serve slices with eggs for breakfast, or send some guacamole in your child’s lunch.  By the way, omega-3s are in the yolks of eggs, so if you’re just eating egg whites, you are throwing away “brain food”.

Nuts and seeds are easy and convenient sources of omega-3 fats, especially walnuts, hemp seeds, flax seeds, and chia seeds.  Create your own trail mixes for school lunch boxes.  I fill a shaker bottle with raw hemp seeds to sprinkle on waffles, pancakes, peanut butter toast, oatmeal, etc.  My grandkids love them and call them “sprinkles”.

Flax Pancake (one serving):

1 egg (from pasture-raised chickens)

2 tablespoons ground flax seed

1 tablespoon unsweetened full-fat yogurt (with live probiotics)

1/2 teaspoon unsweetened almond extract (or vanilla)

a dash of mineral-rich salt (optional)

Whisk ingredients together and cook in a little unsalted organic butter, ghee, or coconut oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side.  Top with some pure maple syrup, hemp seeds, walnuts, berries, yogurt, applesauce, almond butter, cinnamon, etc.

Note:  You can substitute the yogurt with applesauce or plant milk (hemp, oat, almond, etc.).  It can be a little tricky to flip, so check for doneness on one side before you turn it.  Also, slide the spatula fully under the pancake and turn it quickly.

Variation:  Use 2 eggs and an additional tablespoon each of ground flax seed and yogurt.

Everyone needs omega-3 essential fatty acids, not just kids!  I often take a flax oil supplement, which is an incredibly rich source of omega-3s and has also been shown to help balance hormones.

Keep learning to be healthy!

Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist, CNHP

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

www.learningtobehealthy.com (Download your free 10-page guide:  10 Simple Steps to a Leaner, Healthier You!)

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.