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Nutritional Questions Answered

  |   By Stephanie Gray

Once the New Year hits, fitness and nutrition is at the top of everyone's mind. Add your upcoming wedding to the mix and chances are you're feeling a little overwhelmed. Whether you're worried about catching the flu or trying to make your hair grow, feeling and looking your best, is probably on your mind. I had the chance to chat with the lovely ladies of Nutritional Balance, Jill and Bree, both Registered Nutritionists, and asked them some of the top questions I've received from brides about diet, nutrition and health.

1. I’ve just started upping my exercise routine and have noticed I’m getting hungrier. I’m trying to lose weight so I don’t want to eat too much, but want to make sure I have enough energy. What should I do?

If you are hungry…EAT!  Eating regularly is what is going to keep your metabolism running and keep you shedding the pounds.  It’s when you skip meals that it slows down and you start to store fat.  Eating small meals throughout the day and never skipping breakfast can help keep your metabolism in great shape.  Increasing your protein is also very important when you are working out as it helps to repair and strengthen the muscles, sustains your energy and fights hunger. Snacks like a banana before your workout (depending on the person, half hour – hour before) will help keep your energy levels up so you are able to get the most out of your time at the gym. A meal or a good quality protein shake shortly after your workout will help repair the body.

2. My wedding is coming up this winter and I’m worried about getting sick. Are there any foods or supplements to help me build my immunity?

Ahhh.  We love this topic. It is so common for people to come down with the sniffles in this cold winter season. Our body has a hard time adjusting to the weather change. When we are entering into this season and you start to feel run down, your body becomes more susceptible. This is when you can take action. Things like avoiding sugar, caffeine and dairy can help. Sugar and caffeine have an effect on the immune system and at this time, you want it to be as strong as possible. Dairy can create excess mucous which is something you don’t want when you are feeling a cold coming on. Load up on the fruits and vegetables and cook with garlic. These foods obviously contain vitamins and minerals that help fight off illness. Drink LOADS of WATER. This is huge. Water is a life saver, literally! This will help flush out toxins of any kind and keep you feeling great and hydrated. Adding freshly squeezed lemon will add some flavor if you’re bored and it will help detoxify the body. Take your vitamins! Vitamin C is essential in this less then unpleasant time. You can take extra to boost your immune system, so apart from your approximately 1000mg/day, when you are feeling run down, up your amount to 5000 – 6000mgs/day until you start to feel better. Another supplement to boost the immune system is probiotics which will help heal the gut and directly effects your immune system.

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Nutritional Questions Answered

3. My nails are constantly breaking, is there something I can eat to make them stronger?

Calcium, iron and protein are all good for healthy nails. Many people deal with milk sensitivities/allergies and worry they are not getting enough calcium.  Sources of calcium – broccoli, almonds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, parsley and collard greens are among some of the calcium foods.  Iron comes from meats like beef, chicken, lamb, also legumes, salmon, eggs and whole grains.  Also supplementing with essential fatty acids, EFA’s, (some food sources are nuts and seed, olives, avocados) will strengthen and help with growth.  Lastly, unhealthy nails can often be a result of not absorbing nutrients properly so work to improve digestion.

4. I’ve been so stressed lately planning the wedding, I either can’t get to sleep or wake up throughout the night. I don’t want to take any pills, but really want to get a good night’s sleep. Any suggestions?

Weddings are stressful; there is no doubt about that!  Stress also affects us all differently. When it affects your sleep, it is definitely taking away from your beauty rest! Here are some quick tips that can help relax you into a deep slumber.

- Don’t eat too close to bedtime; your body needs a three-hour window to allow its metabolic rate to slow down which is needed for your body to start to unwind. - Foods like whole grains and whole grain products like oatmeal and good quality cereals help increase serotonin levels in the brain. This will promote a deep and reparative sleep. - Have a cup of herbal tea. You want to avoid the caffeine as it will stimulate the nervous system thereby keeping the body from shutting down. Try a cup of chamomile or check out your local health food store. They will have special blends of herb teas that will help soothe you to sleep. - Magnesium and calcium are minerals that helps relax that body. Increasing foods such as beans, peas, nuts, seeds, dark greens (spinach) and whole unrefined grains are good sources of magnesium. - Workout in the day and yoga before bed. - Try not to take naps as it can disrupt your sleep habits at night - Take a warm bath. It's a great way to relax your body. Make sure the water is not too hot; you don’t want to overdo it as too long in hot water can exhaust your body and drain its vitality. Using bath salts such as Epsom salts helps to relax the body and tired muscles. Epsom salts also help remove toxins from the body.

*Also note when starting supplements, you want to talk to a health care professional such as a Naturopath, Nutritionist, or your doctor. Contact Nutritional Balance for more information.

Do you have a diet or health question for Jill or Bree? Email us and we'll forward your questions on! The answers will be posted next week!

This article was originally published on Jan 05, 2011
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