Tania Gustafson –
Mar 28, 2020 / 11:00 am | Story:
There are many things in life we can?t control. But the one thing we can control is how we take care of our health.
With all that’s going on in the world, people are talking about health now more than ever.
While some folks make health a priority every day, there are many who wait until something happens before making any changes. And still others are doing things they think are beneficial, but really aren’t doing much.
Regardless which one you identify with, there’s always something more you can do to improve and restore health. At any age.
Your health is either improving or declining. Even though you may feel like your health is constant, it actually fluctuates based on what you do to, and for your body on a daily basis.
Think of your car. It may be running just fine today. No breakdowns or weird noises, but you know that every kilometre you drive without proper maintenance, will wear it out faster. Same with our bodies.
Billions of cells in our body die every day and must be replaced. When we were young, the old cells were replaced with new ones that were equal to or better than the ones that died.
As we get older, the quality of those replacement cells diminishes. This causes the body to age, heal more slowly and potentially give way to disease.
Although we cannot stop the aging process entirely, there is much we can do to slow it. By keeping the quality and integrity of our cells elevated, we can effectively slow down the aging process, which in turn lowers the risk of disease, giving us a better quality of life, longer.
Stick with me while I unpack four immune boosters and busters that can help you get a better handle on your health.
The first big immune buster is stress.
A lot of stuff happens inside your body when stress hits:
- Cortisol and adrenaline are released
- Blood sugar is elevated
- Insulin spikes
- Heart rate goes up
- Digestion slows down
- Blood flow is directed away from the organs and out to the extremities.
All this helps you fight off hostile natives or run from the tiger lurking at the edge of your village. I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s highly unlikely you’ll be chased by a tiger when you walk out your front door, but regardless the source of your stress, your body responds the same.
For those living high stress lives, their bodies remain on high alert with all of these things happening, all the time. It’s the same as driving your car top speed, revs maxed, every single time you drive.
Your car wouldn’t last long if you treated it that way, and frankly neither would you.
Sugar (and processed foods as they are converted to sugar when digested) is our second big immune buster.
According to pediatrician Dr. William Sears: “Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria.”
I’d like to add any and all sweeteners to the buster list. At a 50% drop in immune function, you may want to reconsider those little indulgences for the time being or consider using green, organic stevia instead.
Big buster No. 3 is excessive alcohol
Dr. Sears defines “excess” as three or more drinks and says that amount will deprive the body of essential nutrients, creating an overall nutritional deficiency. “….like sugar, consumed in excess (alcohol) can reduce the ability of white cells to kill germs.”
Dieting is fourth on my immune buster list
It truly is something that can do your body more harm than good. Diets require restricting calories, giving up certain food groups, exercising like a fiend in order to lose weight.
You can absolutely lose weight on a diet, but at what cost?
Without enough of the right calories and proper, balanced nutrition to nourish your cells, the body becomes stressed and once again immune health is put at risk.
There are more busters out there, but now let’s focus on we can do daily to boost our immune systems and protect our health.
Big booster No. 1 is sleep.
A good night’s sleep allows the body to restore, repair and improve immune cells called T cells. Dr. Stoyan Dmitrov, PhD from the University of Tubingen, reported, “T cells are a type of… immune cells that fight against intracellular pathogens, for example virus-infected cells such as flu, HIV, herpes, and cancer cells,”
Keeping those T cells working is a good reason to turn in early.
Stay hydrated. Booster No. 2
Water, is needed for every function your body and brain does.
Picture your cells like grapes. On the vine supplied with water, they are nice and plump and juicy. Pick them, and after a while they become raisins.
Healthy cells means a healthy immune system. So be grape.
Booster No. 3 is exercise
Getting regular exercise not only strengthens your heart and lungs, and helps maintain mobility, it also encourages white blood cells to move about the body more quickly, possibly detecting illness sooner.
And the last big booster is nutrition
Choose hormone-free, grass-fed proteins whenever possible, healthy fats, and eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.
And when you put them together in a way that stabilizes blood sugar and balances the body, stored fat is released and weight drops off, cholesterol and blood pressure normalize, hormones are balanced, overall internal inflammation is reduced and immune function is increased.
There are many things in life we can’t control. But what we can control is how we take care of our health. Join the 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook for information and support in achieving your health and weight loss goals.
Tania Gustafson –
Mar 14, 2020 / 11:00 am | Story:
Spring cleaning shouldn’t just be for the yard and de-cluttering closets, our bodies need some attention, too. Flushing out waste and toxins will not only help you lose weight, it will boost your immune system, too.
Spring clean for a better immune system
Although I can still see some snow on the mountains when I look out my living room window, the buds on the trees and bulbs poking up through the ground are welcome signs of spring.
And the overflowing yard waste bins that lined my cul-de-sac this week emphasized how many are happy to finally get outside and enjoy the longer, warmer days, even if it is for spring cleaning.
In addition to cleaning up the yard and de-cluttering closets, spring is the perfect time to also clean out our bodies.
As the temperature climbs and we start to shed layers of heavy winter clothing, some may find they have put on a layer not so easily removed, one that can no longer be concealed by bulky sweaters or parkas.
And so begins the annual quest to get back that summer body.
For many, the putting on and taking off the extra layer that accumulates each winter is a normal, yearly occurrence.
And when we’re talking just a few pounds, the situation we find ourselves in amounts to little more than an annoyance.
For others, adding a few extra pounds each year has become cumulative and only when the extra weight becomes problematic – either practically when clothes don’t fit, medically when the doctor strongly recommends shedding some weight, or disliking what we see when we look in the mirror – do we take action.
But, “Where do I start?” you ask?
Regardless of which scenario you identify with, the plan to get started, get results and maintain them through all seasons is the same.
Through my experience and supported by clients’ results, I can say without a doubt the fastest way to lose that bloat, shed extra weight and start feeling energized, is by detoxing and cleansing.
Essentially, it’s spring cleaning for your body. The colon, liver and kidneys are our bodies’ filtration system.
Much like the oil filter in your car prevents dirt and foreign bits from damaging your car’s engine, your colon, liver and kidneys filters out the toxins and waste, keeping it from getting into the rest of the body.
Your car performs better and will run longer with regular maintenance.
Same goes for your body. Allowing toxins and waste to collect not only makes you feel sluggish, bloated and have low energy, it also weakens your immune system.
Time to flush it out.
When deciding on a detox and/or cleanse, make sure there is a sensible program around food to go with the supplements you are taking. Eliminating all food items and drinking some sort of nasty concoction for days on end is not healthy. Nor will it provide long-term results.
However, eliminating things that cause the body to retain bloat and waste, eating lean, clean and balanced, and flushing with lots of water and natural, plant-derived supplements, will.
Not only will these steps effectively detoxify the liver and kidneys, you’ll also cleanse and flush out that three to 10 pounds of waste you’re likely carrying around in your colons. Ewww, I know, right? Eliminating the toxic waste and eating clean, balanced foods will also support and boost your immune system.
And who doesn’t want that? Especially in light of what’s been happening around the world.
Of course, the obvious benefits of eating balanced foods while detoxing are:
- Loss of bloat and weight
- Zero hunger pangs
- Balanced moods and more energy.
Detoxing and cleansing is work for our bodies so exercise, with the exception of light walking or yoga, should be cut for the week of detox.
I say a week as that is a good length of time to see and feel measurable results.
Smokers, those who drink more than four alcoholic drinks per week and/or those who have greater than 5 pounds to lose, I recommended doing a two-week detox in order to receive the full benefits.
During and following a detox and cleanse, continuing to eat clean foods in a way that allows the body to remain in homeostasis (balanced) is critical to maintaining your results and keeping those filters from clogging up. It’s important to remember to eat in threes.
Remembering to eat a protein, fat and unprocessed carb together every three to four hours throughout the day (PFCs every 3) keeps:
- Blood sugar stabilized
- Balances hormones
- Keeps metabolism turned on
- Releases stored fat
- Protects muscle
- Increases energy and health happens.
Have you started your spring cleaning yet?
Tania Gustafson –
Feb 29, 2020 / 11:00 am | Story:
Congratulations, you’re over the halfway mark and coming down the home stretch in our eight-week journey to achieving your 2020 vision for better health.
For those reading for the first time and wondering what all the hoopla’s about, we, as a community, have been working our way through a three-phase program for improving health, losing weight and creating lifestyle habits that will last. As we finish up week five and head into week six, I wanted to share a few of my favourite food swaps, address the importance of staying hydrated and look at what we’re flushing (or not) down the toilet.
Food plays a huge role in almost every part of our lives. Aside from the obvious need to eat to survive, food brings people together. Celebrations, holidays, births, deaths, cultural festivals, traditions, even just having a friend drop in for tea, in every country around the world food is a big part of every occasion. It’s everywhere. And because food shows up in almost every area of our lives, learning to partake, enjoy and indulge healthfully is essential to our longevity.
Often times, those looking to lose weight and improve health think in terms of all they have to give up, especially when it comes to food. But it really doesn’t have to be this way at all. Instead, I prefer to shift the focus to education, showing people how they can eat the foods they love in a way that stabilizes blood sugar, putting the body in a position to release stored fat. Combine this with swapping out harmful ingredients for healthier options, and they can enjoy food in whatever situation they find themselves in, guilt free and in a way that’s serving their body.
I really do love chocolate, so do a lot of my clients, and I’m sure many of you reading this do as well. Would you believe I often indulge in brownies and chocolate cupcakes? True story. It’s not the cupcake that’s the problem, it’s what’s in it that makes the difference. For example, swapping wheat flour for organic, non-GMO sprouted spelt, coconut, almond, quinoa, arrowroot or cassava flour; replacing sugar with stevia, monk fruit, pureed date, applesauce, mashed banana, or sweet potato; and switching from vegetable oils (safflower, sunflower, canola, corn, etc.) and/or margarine (Becel, “I can’t believe it’s not butter,” etc.) to avocado, olive and coconut oils, not only increases nutrient value and decreases inflammation, but food tastes just as good, if not better.
I often share baked goods with clients to show that eating healthy not only doesn’t have to taste bad, it can be downright delicious. If you want to give healthy brownies or cupcakes a try, you can find the recipe in my “8 Weeks is All it Takes!”group on Facebook.
A few other swaps I recommend are; soda pop in favour of carbonated water where you add your own fresh lemon, lime or berries – the amount of sugar and toxins you’ll save your body from is astounding; coffee for herbal tea – coffee tends to remove liquids from the body, whereas naturally caffeine-free options hydrate; sauces and sour cream for homemade hummus and guacamole – dairy tends to bloat and is inflammatory, and ready-made sauces are filled with chemicals and petroleum products. Ew. There are literally hundreds of swaps you can do to make a difference, but you get the idea.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink water throughout the day and keep the body hydrated. Ladies, we need to be consuming two to three litres per day, and gents, you should be chugging back three to four litres. If not, those otherwise plump healthy cells that make up our body and brain stop looking like grapes, and start looking more like raisins. Trust me, you wanna be grape. Seriously though, every function in every one of our body’s systems, organs and in our brain, require water to make it happen. If you’re constantly running a quart low, don’t be surprised if you’re constipated, have difficulty sleeping, low energy, difficulty concentrating and focusing, suffer from depression, mood swings, headaches or muscle cramps. So drink up. And yes, you will make more trips to the bathroom. That’s a good thing because water flushes out fat, bloat, waste and toxins. Which brings us to my last point, just how often are you flushing?
Elimination is super important, but not often talked about. For some reason we get really uncomfortable with bathroom talk. Especially if things haven’t really been going with the flow so to speak. Bottom line, the number of meals you eat should be the same as the number of times you eliminate. Using the larger button on those water-saving toilets. Going number two. Pooping. If you’re eating three meals per day, you should also be pooping three times per day. Every time we eat, the body uses the nutrients and sends the waste down for elimination. But if it’s not being eliminated, I hate to say it, but you just might be full of crap. Literally.
Over time, toxins will make their way into the rest of your body, causing a whole host of issues you don’t want.
Start today. I invite you to include more fresh, whole foods in your celebrations. Swap out the chemically-laden, inflammatory nasties for nutrient dense ingredients. Drink water. Drink more water. And make regular deposits at the loo nearest you. You’ll be amazed how good you feel.
Tania Gustafson –
Feb 15, 2020 / 11:00 am | Story:
If you’re one of the many readers who set their 2020 vision for health and have been following along in this eight-week series, you should be at about the halfway mark and starting to see and feel some positive changes in your body.
Makes you want to keep going, doesn’t it?
So far I’ve covered how detoxing is a great way to clean out your body’s filtering systems – colon, liver, kidneys – and start fresh and clean, working towards achieving your health and weight loss goals. I also explained the importance of choosing clean, single-ingredient foods and eating them in a way that stabilizes blood sugar and why this is so important, not only for weight loss, but for overall health.
If you missed these earlier articles, you can get up to speed by joining my 8 Weeks is All it Takes group on Facebook and watching the weekly videos posted in the announcements section.
Moving on through week three and into four, we’re going to dive into unpacking the three different body types and identifying which one best describes you. Also, we’re going to explore how stress and sleep directly affect your weight and overall health.
When it comes to body type, you’ll fall into one of these three categories: ectomorph, endomorph or mesomorph. An ectomorph is someone who can lose weight easily and never seems to gain an ounce. An endomorph is just the opposite, someone who has to work harder to lose weight and can gain it back quite easily. A mesomorph is someone who falls somewhere in the middle and can lose or gain weight just about equally well. And as you may have guessed, everyone’s metabolism is different.
Think about a bicycle. Ectomorphs are lean and fast, much like a road bike. Mesomorphs are similar to a mountain bike. A bit more resistance than a road bike, but will get to the destination relatively quickly when you ride just a little harder. Endomorphs are like the cruiser bikes. No gears or anything extra to make pedalling easier, but when you put in the effort and stay the course you will get there.
That last bit is important to note. You will get there. Regardless how fast (or not) your metabolism is, or how quickly (or not) you lose weight, if you just keep “riding your bike” and moving forward, you will arrive at your destination and see results.
Body type is only one determining factor in reaching your health and weight-loss goals. Stress and sleep carry a lot of weight here too. No pun intended.
Let’s do a little survey. On a scale of one to 10, if one is nothing and 10 is maxed out, what number would you give your current level of stress? On the same scale, how would you rate the way you’ve been sleeping? Ideally, you want to be low on the stress and high on the sleep. Unfortunately, the opposite is true for most folks.
Stress triggers a chain of reactions that, if not broken, is extremely detrimental to your health. Cortisol is released into the blood stream, which causes the body to store belly fat. Blood sugar levels spike resulting in insulin spikes as the pancreas works overtime to try and bring the levels back in line and restore balance. Adrenaline is also released into the body, digestive function is slowed, sleep is compromised and blood flow is diverted away from vital organs to our extremities. Stress, whether real or perceived, equates to danger and these things are set in motion to prepare us to be able to stand and fight or turn and run away. Problem is, stress is not so much situational like when our ancestors had to run from a tiger or fight off attackers. They escape, stress is gone, body goes back to its original state. Today, most people who describe themselves as being stressed say it’s just “there” and they don’t see any way to change it. With no escape, the body remains in this heightened state, constantly working overtime.
Lack of sleep also comes with some side effects. Without enough hours of good quality sleep on a regular basis, the body cannot properly metabolize the food you give it. So even when you’re eating good quality food, you’re missing out on some of the nutrients. In addition, the hormones that tell us when we’re hungry or full (ghrelin and leptin) become imbalanced with lack of sleep, causing us to make poor food choices. Lack of sleep also lowers immune function, affects moods, concentration, focus, co-ordination, decreases your productivity, and increases internal inflammation.
So what can a stressed-out, sleep-deprived endomorph do to lose weight and increase overall health? First, although you can’t change your body type per se, any body type can increase metabolism with good quality food and eating to stabilize blood sugar. Truly, you’d be amazed what this can do. Next, set yourself up for a good night’s sleep by turning off all screen time 30-60 minutes before bed. Dim the lights and opt for reading, taking a warm bath, listening to music, etc., to wind down and prepare your body for sleep. And if you have a lot going on in your head, quickly jot down on paper everything running around in there, effectively emptying your mind and allowing you to fall asleep more quickly and have better quality sleep.
Finally, identify where your stress is coming from and put it into perspective. We mistakenly think that everything needs to be done yesterday or the world will come to an end. Know your limits, prioritize, and ask yourself, “Will anyone die if I don’t ________?” If the answer is “no,” let it go. And to break up stress and allow your body to come back down, get out and run like a tiger really is chasing you. You’ll be amazed at how great you feel.