Bloated? Watch the Fruit!

apples

Last week I sent out an email asking readers to send me their burning questions.

What a great response I got! Thank you for taking the time to submit them. I loved reading them and I look forward to addressing many of them in upcoming blog posts. If you didn’t get a chance to ask me, it’s not too late – send them along!

One common concern for many women (including many of the women I work with) is digestive complaints, particularly bloating.

There seems to be an awful lot of bloated bellies!

There’s nothing worse than going for lunch midday only to return back to your desk feeling bloated like a balloon and having to continue on with your work. Talk about feeling unproductive.

I’ve even had women tell me that they get so bloated at times they look as if they’re 5 months pregnant!

So how does this relate to fruit?

Well fruit seems to be one of those foods people are often confused about. Is it healthy or not? Is it best limited? Are the sugars bad? Does it disrupt blood sugar? What do I think?

People are looking for answers!

I figured I’d tackle both of these topics at once, and how they relate to each other.

I‘ll start first though by saying I love fruit! I think it’s a perfect food, brimming with easily assimilated nutrients that can provide a quick source of energy when needed. It also has the highest water content of any other food, making it a very powerful cleanser, which we can use to our benefit when consumed properly.

Here’s the caveat though.

Fruit can be too cleansing for some people if they’re not internally clean enough for it, which is why it often exacerbates digestive issues, particularly bloating.

For example, if you have undigested food sitting in your stomach or intestines, or your bowel is impacted with waste matter (or you’re constipated), then when that cleansing fruit is thrown into the mix and hits those contents it’s going to “stir things up” or “awaken” old dehydrated waste matter. In other words it’s going to cause some movement.  Not necessarily a bad thing! But, at the same time it can cause a lot of uncomfortable bloating and gas…not very comfortable say if you’re at work.

You might recall one of the principles of proper food combining is to always eat fruit alone and on an empty stomach. This is because it’s the quickest digesting food. And while there are definitely some exceptions to this rule which you can read about here, generally people who suffer from digestive problems, such as bloating, do better separating fruit from other foods.

This is why the ideal time to enjoy your fruit is first thing in the morning before you’ve eaten anything else or well after other meals, such as late in the afternoon.

So is fruit healthy? That depends on what type of body it’s going into!

Now with that said, even when proper food combining is adhered to and/or bloating isn’t an issue, there are a few other scenarios where it may be best to limit your fruit intake to only lower sugar, sour/acid fruits, such as berries, grapefruit, green apples, pomegranate and cranberries, OR avoid them all together until your body is either clean enough for it, or your symptoms have subsided.

These scenarios include:

1) Systemic yeast problems or other fungal related-issues (i.e. Candida overgrowth). Unfortunately sugar feeds yeast –  even the natural ones found in fruit. I wrote more about this here and here.

2) Weight loss. Although you don’t necessarily need to cut out fruit, I find people usually do better limiting their fruit intake to a few pieces earlier in the day and emphasizing the lower sugar, sour/acid fruits mentioned above.

3) Blood sugar problems (i.e. diabetic, metabolic syndrome). In this case it’s usually best to stick with the lower sugar, sour/acid fruits mentioned above, or you can lower the glycemic index of the fruit by mixing it into a smoothie with (for example) greens and avocado, or by pairing your sour/acid fruit with a small serving of high quality seeds (i.e. berries with a tbsp of hemp hearts), which is a fairly benign combination.

Keep in mind that if you’re having fruit first thing in the morning, you can always follow it up with something else  20 minutes (or more) later. You don’t only have to eat fruit!

In closing, fruit is not an enemy to be vilified. Once your body becomes clean enough for it (and your digestion back on track), you’ll likely be able to enjoy it more abundantly without the unpleasant reactions.

Have a burning question that you’d like me to address in an upcoming blog post? Contact me and ask away!

xo Elaine

In the Kitchen with Joyous Health + Giveaway!!

High-rez Cover

Today I’m so thrilled to be featuring my dear friend Joy McCarthy here on the blog!

If you’re not already acquainted with Joy McCarthy, she’s the Joy behind the popular blog Joyous Health and one smart and sassy holistic nutritionist with a ton of credit to her name. She also just happened to write a fabulous book that came out earlier this year called Joyous Health: Eat and Live Well Without Dieting. In this beautiful book you’ll find simple and practical tips to creating a healthy lifestyle, along with lots of delicious recipes that will soon become fast favorites.

You’ll also have the opportunity to win one of two copies here today!

Now just to give you a little background about how I know this lovely lady…

I first met Joy when we were both students at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition here in Toronto, where we became friends. Since then I’ve had the great opportunity and pleasure of following along with her journey and watching her inspire the world one health tip and recipe at a time, as well as growing her successful business Joyous Health Inc. I even had the special privilege of standing up beside her as her maid of honor this past September when she married the love of her life. Really I couldn’t be more proud and inspired by my beautiful friend, and all that she has accomplished in both her business and life.

This past Friday night Joy had me over to her place for dinner so I could put some of the recipes from her book to the test. And who are we kidding? It was a chance for us girls to hang out and have fun in the kitchen, and do what we love to do best – eat delicious food!

me + joy

I have to say, what I liked most about the dishes we whipped up (besides how great they tasted), was just how simple they were to prepare. Because if there’s one thing I know about making healthy eating a priority, it’s that simplicity is key.

On the Dinner Menu

We made Baked Lemon Pepper Salmon with “Cream” Sauce with a side of Walker’s Spicy Brussels Sprouts, (both featured in her book). We also roasted up some cauliflower for an added kick of cruciferous veggies!

You’ll need to check out her book to get these delicious recipes but I’ll tell you that the “cream” sauce comes from tahini (sesame seed paste), and that it takes regular baked salmon to a whole new level of taste and flavour. Also, if you’re already a fan of Brussels sprouts (which I am), then you’ll love Walker’s spicy rendition. In case you’re wondering who this Walker fellow is, he’s Joy’s hubby!

SalmonDinner (2)

For dessert we had the Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark, and Joy was kind enough to let me share the full recipe here with you straight from her book.

If you’re a chocolate lover, make this as soon as possible!

chocolatebark(Photo Credit: Nicholas Collister)

Chili and Cinnamon Chocolate Bark

1/3 cup (75 mL) coconut oil

¾ cup (175 mL) raw cacao powder

¼ cup (60 mL) real maple syrup (add more if you like it sweeter)

1 tbsp (15 mL) cinnamon

1 tsp (5 mL) cayenne pepper

¼ cup (60 mL) raw cashews, coarsely chopped

Instructions

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt coconut oil. Slowly stir in cacao and real maple syrup. When fully combined, stir in cinnamon and cayenne. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour chocolate mixture onto the paper and sprinkle with cashews. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Break into pieces. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for a couple of months.

(Recipe Credit: Joyous Health Book)

A few side notes…

If you don’t have cashews on-hand you can pretty much use any chopped nut. We swapped the cashews for hazelnuts, and it still turned out great and tasted ah-mazing! Also, the bark was good to go after only about an hour of being in the freezer – just in time for dessert!

Now if you’d like to get your hands on a copy of this book you can do so here if you’re in Canada, or if you’re in the United States you can pre-order it here, before it comes out May 6th of this year.

Perhaps though you’ll be lucky enough to win one of the two copies that I’ll be giving away right here, c/o of her publisher Penguin Canada.

Official Contest Rules

(Contest is now closed)

Contest is open to residents of North America only.

To enter, leave a comment below sharing 1 or 2 of your favorite health tips or practices!

Contest closes Tuesday April 1st, 2014 at noon (EST).

2 winners will be chosen at random and announced back here later that same day.

I look forward to reading your responses!

If you haven’t already, come join me on my Facebook page where I post more health tips and inspiration, along with updates!

And the winners are…

winner 1

winner 2

Congratulations!! Please contact info(at)elainebrisebois.com with your mailing details to claim your prize.

Thank you to everyone who participated and shared their favorite health tips with me!

The Benefits of Homemade Bone Broth

benefits of homemade broth

Did you know that you can easily and inexpensively whip up your very own digestive health tonic?

That’s right!

Homemade bone broth, prepared by simmering the bones of healthy animals, packs a powerful punch of easily assimilated nutrients that not only support healthy digestion, but also boasts a number of other health benefits – which I’ll get to in a second!

Meat and fish broth (also called stock) is still revered in traditional cultures all over the world not only for its nutritive and healing properties, but also for the rich flavour it imparts to many classic cuisines. Making homemade broths and stocks from the leftover parts of the animal not commonly eaten, such as the bones, marrow, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, was a way for our ancestors to make use of the whole animal in what is now commonly referred to as “nose to tail eating”. As these parts are simmered, they slowly start to release a number of healing compounds including easy to assimilate minerals and amino acids, as well as collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin sulphates – some of which are now sold as expensive health supplements.

Unfortunately in North America, the consumption of bone broth has dwindled over the years since the advent of our modern meat processing methods, and likely (one can assume) as more women left the home and kitchen to enter the workforce.

Commercially prepared, store-bought broths (and stocks) don’t contain the same nutritive properties as homemade bone broths and usually contain a host of other unhealthy additives such as MSG (monosodium glutamate), a known neurotoxin. For these reasons store-bought broths pale in comparison to homemade ones, since they don’t come even close to offering the same range of health benefits.

Speaking of health benefits, here are a few!

Health Benefits of Bone Broth

1. Improves Digestion

Bone broths provide gelatin (produced by the breakdown of collagen) which helps to soothe and heal the mucosal lining of the gut, thereby preventing (and improving) autoimmune conditions that happen as a result of a “leaky gut”.

Francis Pottenger, famous for his cat studies and research on the health benefits of gelatin, pointed out that gelatin unlike other cooked food, contains hydrophilic colloids that attract liquids (including digestive juices) to the surface of cooked food particles, thereby supporting digestion. And if you’re familiar with Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride and her Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPs) Diet, you’ll know that bone broths are a key component to her gut healing protocol.

2. Supports Healthy Joints and Builds Strong Bones

Bone broth contains compounds called glycosaminoglycans (from boiled down cartilage) such as glucosamine, chondroitin sulphates and hyaluronic acid that help to repair damaged joints and improve mobility and function. It’s also abundant in easily assimilated minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and other trace minerals important for healthy bone formation.

3. Supports Healthy Skin, Hair and Nails

Collagen is the structural protein found in the connective tissue of vertebrate mammals, and it’s plentiful in bone, marrow, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. It supports the growth of hair, strong nails, and smooth skin.

4. Improves Immune Function

It turns out there’s a reason your grandmother recommended chicken soup when you were sick with a cold! This study showed that eating chicken soup during an upper respiratory infection can mitigate some of the effects of infection. Bone broth is also rich in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine, arginine, and proline.

Preparation

Preparing your own bone broth is pretty simple; you just need a large stockpot or crock-pot, and some leftover (high quality) bones from healthy animals – meaning naturally-raised, pasture-fed, organic, etc.

The easiest method is using a crock-pot (my preferred choice), since you can safely leave it simmering away as you work, sleep and run errands, and not worry about leaving it unattended.

If you don’t have leftover bones from your own cooking, you can buy high quality bones very inexpensively from a butcher or at some healthy grocers. This is a great option, especially if you don’t eat or prepare a lot of meat at home yourself.

You can find a number of different bone broth recipes easily on the internet, or another great resource is the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Depending on what types of bones you are using, the cooking time will vary. Most resources I’ve come across suggest simmering your bones for a minimum of 6-8 hours, but chicken broth can be simmered up to 24 hours, and beef broth up to 48-72 hours.

Here I’ll share my easy recipe for easy homemade chicken broth.

Easy Crock-Pot Chicken Broth

1. Place bones and leftover chicken parts in a crock-pot.

2. Add in 1-2 tbsp of apple cider vinegar (this will help draw minerals from the bones).

3. Fill your crock-pot with cold filtered water, leaving enough room at the top so it doesn’t boil over.

4. Add vegetables of your choice (optional). I’ll often use 1 onion cut in half, along with 2 carrots and 2 celery stalks, both chopped roughly.

5. Cook on low heat for 8 to 24 hours. I usually let it go for the full 24hrs. Once it comes to a boil, skim off any “scum” that has risen to the top and continue simmering.

6. Let stand and cool a bit before straining the broth through a strainer or mesh sieve.

7. Once cool, transfer to glass mason jars and store in the fridge for up to 5-7 days, or place in the freezer for longer storage. Before using discard any fat that has accumulated at the top, and be sure to do this before placing in the freezer.

*Note: I prefer to add sea salt to taste at the end of cooking

After the broth has cooled in your refrigerator, you’ll notice that it looks jiggly like jello. Don’t worry; it will turn to liquid again once it’s reheated on the stove.

A jiggly broth is a sign that your broth is gelatin-rich – a good thing! If it’s not it may be a sign that you didn’t use enough of the right kind of bones, or you didn’t simmer them long enough. Either way, you can still enjoy the broth for its many other benefits besides gelatin.

Use your broth wherever a recipe calls for it, such as a base for soups and sauces, or drink it straight from a cup – this is what I like to do in the cool winter months!

Are you a fan of homemade bone broths? Share your tips, tricks and recipes in the comments below

Resources:

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon with Mary G. Enig

Broth is Beautiful article by Sally Fallon

Is Coffee Really That Bad? (Plus My Favorite Substitutes)

marilyn and coffee

Is coffee really that bad?

I get asked this question a lot.

Oftentimes it’s nervously asked by one of my new clients who’s concerned that I might “make them” give up their morning cup of coffee. Most of the time though they’re usually pleasantly surprised by my answer.

The truth is, I really enjoy a rich and creamy cup of coffee myself and I do drink it moderately from time-to-time, so it would be pretty hypocritical of me if I told you to ditch the coffee forever.

My relationship with coffee has been somewhat complicated over the years, kind of on-again-off-again, and there’s been many times when I’ve cut it out for weeks, and even months. Somehow though, it always manages to creep its way back into my life, and cup. I really do enjoy the taste!

Coffee is one of those “gray area” substances that is highly dependable on individual tolerance. I know if I drink too much it leaves me feeling anxious, jittery, and often with a stomach ache.

I find this is highly dependent though on my mental and emotional state at the time, meaning if I’m already feeling stressed, coffee only exacerbates those symptoms. When I drink a cup from a state of feeling relaxed and calm, such as when I’m leisurely reading the paper on a Saturday morning, it really doesn’t bother me too much.

In the context of an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle I don’t think one cup per day is going to do too much harm (for most people). Meaning that if you’re doing everything else right, I think you can enjoy your cup of coffee.

I won’t pretend that I think coffee is healthier than it is though to make you (or myself) more comfortable about drinking it, regardless of some of the health benefits that may be touted for it.

It’s kind of like how I feel about red wine. I really enjoy a glass from time-to-time but I’m not going to fool myself into thinking I’m drinking it for the antioxidant compounds that supposedly make it healthy. I can get that from eating grapes, plus I’m pretty sure the alcohol negates any of those benefits! No, I drink it because it’s one of those pleasures that I really enjoy, and in the context of an otherwise healthy diet and lifestyle, I feel like I can.

So, if you’re doing most other things right I don’t think a cup of coffee per day is going to be harmful to most people. However I’ll be sharing my tips below to show you how you can upgrade your coffee consumption to lessen some of its negative effects, along with a few great alternatives that can help you transition away from it if you choose.

Now for the bad news…

As I mentioned earlier, coffee is highly dependent on individual tolerance and there are certain people who could benefit from eliminating it completely – at least for a short period.

Who should NOT drink coffee?

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant and given the right conditions can easily throw the body and delicate endocrine system out of whack, contributing to a cascade of unpleasant symptoms.

People who suffer from depression, mood disorders, anxiety, insomnia, hormonal imbalance, inflammatory bowel disease, IBS (especially if stools tend to be loose), or GERD, may want to try cutting out coffee completely since the caffeine can exacerbate these symptoms. I usually suggest people cut it out for at least 4 weeks to see if they experience alleviation in symptoms. At this point if they do notice a marked improvement they may decide it’s worthwhile to leave it out completely or to enjoy it only on occasion.

Now if you decide that you can’t part with your morning cup of coffee and want to minimize some of its negative effects, there are a few things you can do to upgrade your coffee hygiene.

Tips for Upgrading Your Coffee Hygiene

1. Put a buffer on it. Coffee is dehydrating and has an acidifying effect on the body. Balance this out with a glass of water before and after. Coffee should never be the first liquid that passes your lips in the morning.

2. Keep it to one cup per day (preferably before noon). This way it will be less likely to interfere with your beauty sleep.

3. Buy organic and brew it yourself at home. Coffee beans are among the top most heavily sprayed crops in the world which means if you’re not buying organic you’re also exposing yourself to pesticides in each and every cup you drink. Bonus: You’ll also save a ton of money if you skip the Starbucks every day!

4. Skip the sugar and artificial sweeteners. A little pure, preferably organic, cream or your favorite dairy alternative, such as coconut milk, is all you need. If you must use sugar try to go for one of the healthier varieties such as coconut sugar, raw honey, or stevia.

5. Avoid (or limit) it on days when you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or frazzled as caffeine will only exacerbate these symptoms.

6. Cut your consumption in half. This is easier than going cold turkey especially if you drink many cups per day. If you’re a 4-cup per day coffee drinker try to reduce it to 2 cups. If you’re a one-cup per day coffee drinker you might try reducing it to half a cup or to every other day, OR, maybe just the weekend!

What about Decaf?

If you want the taste of coffee without the jolt of caffeine decaf can be a good option. Just be aware that most decaf coffee contains trace amounts of caffeine which can still affect people who are very sensitive. Be sure to opt for a brand that uses a Swiss-water process to strip the caffeine, as many commercial brands use harsh chemicals that can remain in the coffee making it worse off than its caffeinated counterpart.

Now with all said and done I’d like to share with you some of my favorite coffee alternatives. These are great if you’re trying to transition away from coffee but still want a beverage that somewhat resembles that creamy, rich, coffee taste. Of course tea is always an option too (green, white, twig, rooibos and herbal), but if you’re a coffee lover like me, you know that sometimes a cup of tea just doesn’t cut it.

All of these substitutes can be enjoyed in the same way you would drink your coffee – straight-up, with a splash of cream or nut milk, as a latte, or even as an iced or blended coffee in the warmer months.

Natural Coffee Substitutes

1. Chaga

A medicinal mushroom known for its super high antioxidant content, as well as its immune-modulating and anti-inflammatory properties, chaga is pretty magic if you ask me. It also just happens to somewhat resemble the taste of coffee in the opinion of many, including my own.

It’s available in a few different forms but what I’m referring to here are the dried mushroom pieces that you can brew as a tea.

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil, turn down the heat, then add dried chaga (1-2 tsp per serving). The longer you simmer it, the stronger its flavour, and the more it resembles coffee.

You can simmer if for as little as 10 minutes if you’re in a hurry, but you can also simmer it for much longer (up to 5 hours) if you have the time. I’ve never simmered it longer than an hour personally. I’ve also heard of people brewing it in their slow-cooker for much longer and I think that sounds like a fantastic idea and will likely try that out myself soon. Will keep you posted!

Strain and serve. Reserve the strained pieces and store them in a glass jar in the fridge. They can be re-brewed up to 4-5 times.

I like mine with a splash of pure cream, or sometimes I’ll blend it into a latte with coconut milk or almond milk, or use it as a base for a hot chocolate.

I usually make a big batch and store extra in the fridge in a mason jar for easy reheating on the stove top.

2. Dandy Blend

This instant herbal beverage contains a blend of extracts of roasted barley, rye, chicory root, dandelion root and sugar beet. It has a rich, smooth full-bodied coffee flavour minus the caffeine. It’s also extremely versatile so you can pretty much replicate any coffee drink. My preference is straight up with a bit of pure cream or nut milk.

Instructions:

Add 1 tbsp of Dandy Blend to one cup of hot water and stir.

I’ve also heard through a colleague that chaga and Dandy Blend taste great combined, but I’ve yet to test this theory for myself. It sounds like it would be delicious though!

Other coffee substitutes that I’ve experienced with and enjoyed are Teecino, Cafe-Lib, and Krakus.

Are you a coffee lover? Have you recently cut back or eliminated it from your life? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below and if you have any favorite coffee alternatives please share!

Photo Credit: (1)