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Integrative Nutrition

5 Foods That Are Surprisingly High In Fiber

When it comes to fiber, there are more ways to eat them than just chomping on some prunes. (Which also totally might not be your thing to begin with.) Read More

Claire Leedy, INHC

Mindfulness and Meditation...Do They Really Work?



Well...yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation. 

  
Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.” 
 
“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body. 
 
Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”  
 
Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post. 
 
The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction 
 
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent! 
 
So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too. 
 
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health. 
 
I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too. 
 
Mindfulness for mood 
 
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood. 
 
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms. 
 
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. 
 
While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods. 
 
Mindfulness for weight 
 
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices). 
 
How can this be? 
 
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating. 
 
Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful eating." Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you're eating, like what's on TV or your smartphone.  
 
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk. 
 
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight. 
 
Mindfulness for gut health 
 
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes. 
 
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care. 
 
The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help. 
 
Conclusion 
 
Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more. 
 
Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it? 
 
Let me know in the comments below. 
 
Recipe (Relaxing Teas): Relaxing Herbal Teas 
 
There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great after meditation.  
 
Try any of these by steeping in boiling water: 
 
Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea) 
White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea) 
Rooibos tea 
Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves) 
Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger) 
 
Serve & enjoy! 
 
Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired. 
 
BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts) 
 
How to Meditate video 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0y1Lu0L8nU&index=5&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD 
 
How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day video 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtG8No-MMOM&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD&index=10 
 
Calm App 
https://www.calm.com/ 
 
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)  
https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app 
 
Daily Meditation Podcast 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/daily-meditation-podcast/id892107837?mt=2 
 
Hay House Meditations Podcast 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hay-house-meditations/id955266444?mt=2 
 
References: 
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation 
 
https://www.dietvsdisease.org/benefits-mindfulness-meditation/ 
 
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm 
 
https://authoritynutrition.com/mindful-eating-guide/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454654/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26186434 

Claire Leedy, INHC

Mindfulness and Meditation...Do They Really Work?



Well...yes, they do really work. The fact is, science shows definite health benefits for people who use mindfulness and meditation. 
  
Before we dive in, let’s just make sure we’re on the same page when we say “mindfulness” and “meditation.” 
 
“Meditation” is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present. It’s often used to calm the mind, ease stress, and relax the body. 
 
Practicing “mindfulness” is one of the most popular ways to meditate. It’s defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”  
 
Mindfulness meditation is well studied in terms of its health benefits. I’m going to talk about a few of them below, and refer to it as “mindfulness” for the rest of the post. 
 
The link between mindfulness and health = stress reduction 
 
Have you heard the staggering statistics on how many doctors' visits are due to stress? Seventy-five to ninety percent! 
 
So, if you ask me, it makes a ton of sense that anything that can reduce stress can reduce health issues too. 
 
Mindfulness reduces inflammation, reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and improves sleep. All of these can have massive effects on your physical and mental health. 
 
I'll briefly go over the research in three main areas: mood, weight, and gut health. But know that the research on the health benefits of mindfulness is branching into many other exciting new areas too. 
 
Mindfulness for mood 
 
The most immediate health benefit of mindfulness is improved mood. 
 
In one study, people who took an 8-week mindfulness program had greater improvement in symptoms according to the “Hamilton Anxiety Scale.” They were compared with people who took a stress management program that did not include mindfulness. It seems that the mindfulness training was key to lowering symptoms. 
 
Other studies show that mindfulness has similar effects as antidepressant medications for some people with mild to moderate symptoms of depression. 
 
While mindfulness isn’t a full-fledged cure, it can certainly help to improve moods. 
 
Mindfulness for weight 
 
Studies show that people who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness, have lower BMIs (Body Mass Indices). 
 
How can this be? 
 
One way mindfulness is linked with lower weight is due to stress-reduction. Mindfulness can reduce stress-related and emotional overeating. It can also help reduce cravings and binge eating. 
 
Another way it can work for weight is due to "mindful eating." Mindful eating is a "non-judgmental awareness of physical and emotional sensations associated with eating." It's the practice of being more aware of food and the eating process. It's listening more deeply to how hungry and full you actually are. It's not allowing yourself to be distracted with other things while you're eating, like what's on TV or your smartphone.  
 
People with higher mindfulness scores also reported smaller serving sizes of energy-dense foods. So it seems that more mindful eating = less junk. 
 
Mindfulness about food and eating can have some great benefits for your weight. 
 
Mindfulness for gut health 
 
Recent studies show a link between stress, stress hormones, and changes in gut microbes (your friendly bacteria and other critters that help your digestion).In theory, mindfulness-based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut's microbes. 
 
Also, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) seems to be linked with both stress and problems with gut microbes. In one study, people with IBS who received mindfulness training showed greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care. 
 
The research here is just starting to show us the important link between stress, gut health, and how mindfulness can help. 
 
Conclusion 
 
Science is confirming some amazing health benefits of the ancient practice of mindfulness meditation. For moods, weight, gut health, and more. 
 
Do you regularly include it in your life? If so, have you seen benefits? If not, would you consider trying it? 
 
Let me know in the comments below. 
 
Recipe (Relaxing Teas): Relaxing Herbal Teas 
 
There are many relaxing herbal teas that would be great after meditation.  
 
Try any of these by steeping in boiling water: 
 
Green tea (has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated green tea) 
White tea (also has a bit of caffeine, or you can choose decaffeinated white tea) 
Rooibos tea 
Peppermint tea (or steep fresh peppermint leaves) 
Ginger tea (or steep slices of real ginger) 
 
Serve & enjoy! 
 
Tip: You can add a touch of honey if desired. 
 
BONUS Guided Meditation “Recipes” (videos, apps & podcasts) 
 
How to Meditate video 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h0y1Lu0L8nU&index=5&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD 
 
How to Meditate in One Minute or Less Every Day video 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VtG8No-MMOM&list=PLerdqrUWzOkd7m9HQj1yfJiI09pwVhPcD&index=10 
 
Calm App 
https://www.calm.com/ 
 
Headspace App (free 10-day trial)  
https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app 
 
Daily Meditation Podcast 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/daily-meditation-podcast/id892107837?mt=2 
 
Hay House Meditations Podcast 
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/hay-house-meditations/id955266444?mt=2 
 
References: 
 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meditation 
 
https://www.dietvsdisease.org/benefits-mindfulness-meditation/ 
 
https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm 
 
https://authoritynutrition.com/mindful-eating-guide/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4454654/ 
 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26186434 

Claire Leedy, INHC

Adrenal Fatigue: What Is It?

Stressed? Tired? Craving sugar? Can’t sleep? All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And, since your adrenal glands produce stress hormones, adrenal fatigue (or “HPA Axis Dysregulation,”) is a popular theme lately. Your adrenal glands look like walnuts that live on top of both of your kidneys. These important glands produce many hormones, including stress hormones. But what happens when they become “overworked?” Read More

Integrative Nutrition

5 Health Conditions That Affect Women More Than Men

We all know that women’s bodies are different from men, but to what extent do we truly understand how women can take unique preventative measures to live a long and healthy life? Read More

Claire Leedy, INHC

What the Heck is the Paleo Diet, and is it For Me?




Paleo Diet 101
 

 
You may have heard of the "paleo" diet. It was the world's most popular diet in 2013. 
 
But what is it? Is it a fad? Is it right for you? 
 
Scientist and "Paleo Mom" Sarah Ballentyne, Ph.D. defines it as: 
 
“The Paleo diet is a nutrient-dense whole foods diet based on eating a variety of quality meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds.  It improves health by providing balanced and complete nutrition while avoiding most processed and refined foods and empty calories.” 
 
The name “paleo” is from the “paleolithic” time when earlier humans (thousands of years ago) were hunters and gatherers. It is thought to represent the era of nutrition before agriculture. 
 
What you can (and can’t) eat on the paleo diet?
 
Of course, being a "diet," paleo has food guidelines. The paleo diet was created to increase the amount of whole, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods; while reducing the number of gut-disrupting, hormone-disrupting, and inflammatory foods. 
 
But this doesn't mean there are only a couple of foods to choose from! There is a pretty wide variety of food to choose from in the paleo diet. 
 
You can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat (including organ meats), seafood, healthy fats, fermented foods, herbs, and spices. 
 
The paleo diet excludes processed and refined foods (e.g. sugar, vegetable oils, artificial sweeteners, etc.), grains (e.g. wheat, oats, rice, etc.), dairy, and most legumes (e.g. beans, lentils, peanuts, etc.). 
 
The paleo diet can be thought of as more of a "template," rather than a strict set of rules. 
 
It’s a diet that seems to be easy to maintain, and with little to no negative side effects. There is no measuring or counting of calories or carbs. And there are plenty of delicious and nutritious foods to choose from. 
 
Many proponents of the paleo diet even encourage experimentation by adding in a few of the (healthy whole) foods on their list of exclusions. High-quality dairy, white rice, or potatoes may be added to less restrictive forms of the paleo diet. 
[Text Wrapping Break]How does the Paleo diet affect health? 
 
Several clinical studies have been done to find out whether there are health benefits of eating this way. 
 
Some of the research has shown that the paleo diet can help with weight loss and belly fat. That alone may be reason enough to give it a try. 
 
Not to mention its effect on several modern-day chronic diseases.  For example, it can improve risk factors for heart disease. It has also been shown to reduce inflammation, improve glucose tolerance, and even reduce symptoms of some autoimmune diseases. 
 
It’s also thought to be “gut-friendly” because it includes a lot of high-fiber foods (i.e. fruits, vegetables, nuts & seeds), fermented foods (which contain gut-friendly probiotics), as well as being full of nutritious natural foods. 
 
Who should consider a paleo diet? 
 
Some people recommend the paleo diet for those with food intolerances or autoimmune diseases. Those at high risk for heart disease or diabetes may also be good candidates to give the paleo diet a try. 
 
If you react to gluten or lactose, this diet removes them both by eliminating all grains and dairy. 
 
Even if you don't choose to go paleo, the elimination of added sugars, processed and refined foods can (should?) be a goal to move toward. 
 
Conclusion 
 
The paleo diet is based on what hunters and gatherers ate thousands of years ago. It is a whole-food based, nutrient-dense diet that focuses on fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts, seeds, meat, seafood, and fermented foods. 
 
Science has shown that it can help some people to lose weight, reduce risks of heart disease, improve glucose tolerance, and reduce inflammation. 
 
At the very least, eliminating added sugars, processed, and refined foods are a great goal, even if you decide not to “go paleo.” 
 
Recipe (Paleo): Banana Muffins 

paleo-banana-muffins2

 
Serves 12 
 
3 large eggs 
5 mashed bananas 
½ cup almond butter 
¼ cup coconut oil 
1 tsp vanilla 
½ cup coconut flour  
1 tbsp cinnamon 
1 tsp baking powder 
1 tsp baking soda 
pinch of sea salt 
 
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with liners. In a food processor or stand mixer, blend eggs, bananas, almond butter, coconut oil, and vanilla.  
 
In a large bowl mix coconut flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  
 
Add blended wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until combined.Spoon batter into muffin tins, ¾ full. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. 
 
Serve & enjoy! 
 
Tip: You can top muffins with walnuts before baking. 
 
References: 
 
https://authoritynutrition.com/paleo-diet-meal-plan-and-menu/ 
 
https://www.thepaleomom.com/start-here/paleo-diet/ 
 
https://authoritynutrition.com/5-studies-on-the-paleo-diet/

Integrative Nutrition

The Role of Health Coaches

Have you ever thought about why rates of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses continue to rise, despite increasing healthcare costs? We tend to normalize illness based on how widespread it is in the United States, but illness is not the normal state of our bodies. Read More

Claire Leedy, INHC

4 Ways to Sneak Veggies Into Your Day

If you're like most people, you might believe that eating healthy requires a lot of work.  From planning out meals to grocery shopping to buying quality ingredients – it can seem like a mass effort sometimes.  That’s not to say the effort’s not worth it -- but a big effort that sometimes seems easier to simply avoid, right?    We all know that eating the right foods, especially vegetables, is essential to better health. But what if you're not a huge fan of shopping, chopping, and prepping?  As it usually goes, the things that are the best at keeping us healthy and nourished aren't always the easiest path to take.  It takes some practice and trial and error to find your sweet spot for infusing health into your day on a daily basis – and one great place to start is finding some simple ways to add more veggies into your day.      Here are my 4 favorite ways that you can add veggies into your day...     Read More

Integrative Nutrition

Take the Breakfast Experiment

In the world of modern nutrition, almost everyone is on one diet or another, and people dwell on fats, proteins, and lists of “good” and “bad” foods. Low fat, low carb, Paleo, vegan, Atkins…. Read More

Claire Leedy, INHC

How can the scientists and the American Heart Association get it so wrong?! 
Dr. Mark Hyman covers this and much more in this well written response to the latest media hype about coconut oil.

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