Are Nutrient Deficiencies Causing Your Health Issues?

You’re living a fast-paced life and it seems like you’re always being pulled frome one thing to the next. Somehow in there you manage to grab a smoothie, some toast, and the occasional sit down meal. But have you ever thought that your sporadic eating habits influence more than whether you feel full or not?

The food you take in is responsible for giving you all the nutrients your body needs to produce new healthy cells, hormones, and repair your tissues. The thing is, many of us aren’t getting enough nutrients, so we’re missing key building blocks that our bodies need.

Nutrient deficiencies can be behind some common health concerns. They can also be at the root of more serious diseases and chronic lifestyle issues. Read below to see if your health concerns can be traced back to nutrient deficiencies.

Many nutrition professionals generally advise that a healthful, balanced diet can provide most people with the nutrients essential for good health.

Fruit and vegetables naturally contain a number of beneficial nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and other biologically active components - or phytochemicals.

In fact, it has been documented that consumption of at least 5 servings per day is linked with a reduced risk of various diseases, including several cancers and heart disease.

However, with the overall lack of nutrient bioavailability due to things like:

  • inadequate fruit and vegetable servings
  • soil depletion
  • over-processing of food
  • treated water

It’s no wonder that many of us are indeed lacking in a number of key nutrients that we once came by very easily. We simply aren’t eating our Grandmother’s fruits & veggies anymore!

Do you have any of THESE health issues right now?

(You may be surprised to learn that there may be a connection to certain symptoms with actually having a nutritional deficiency!)

Muscle twitches or leg cramps?

A nutrient that is commonly found in plant foods, but also commonly lacking in our diets due to all of the reasons for poor bioavailability, is magnesium.

This talented mineral is involved as a cofactor for a range of biochemical reactions in the body, is involved in the structural development of bone, and plays a role in nerve impulse conduction, maintaining a normal heart rhythm and muscle contraction.

Helloooo dark chocolate! Yes, dark chocolate is high in magnesium, just like dark leafy green vegetables.

Hormonal issues causing chaos? Maybe your fats aren’t so good.

FYI, while hormonal imbalances are another topic entirely, here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of hormone imbalances:

  • Depression and anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia and poor sleep
  • Low libido
  • Infertility and irregular periods
  • Weight loss, weight gain or weight loss resistance
  • Digestive issues
  • Hair loss and hair thinning

Hormonal imbalances are complex, multi-faceted issues, meaning they are caused by a combination of factors such as your diet, medical history, genetics, stress levels and exposure to toxins from your environment.

Again, another topic altogether, but one of the major contributors to hormonal imbalances includes your diet - and specifically a lack of fats. Good fats, that is!

Hormones are built on fat, and your body can only use the building blocks you give it.

Think wild-caught salmon, hemp seeds, coconut oil, avocados, and a special mention of GLA (gamma linoleic acid) found in evening primrose and borage oils - studies have shown that supplementing with GLA can support healthy progesterone levels.

How’s your nail health? Maybe not as good as you think! Here are some signs to watch for:

What's considered ‘normal’ differs in everyone, but generally, fingernails should be clear, smooth, pliable and peachy-pink in colour.

White spots

Ever noticed white spots on your nails?

While this is most often due to mild trauma (like banging your nail against something hard), it can also indicate a zinc deficiency.

Horizontal lines, ridges and spoons

What about horizontal lines or ridges across your nails?

These are sometimes called Beau's lines, and may be due to a zinc deficiency but could be indicative of low iron or anemia. Nails can be spoon-shaped at the tips with iron deficiency as well.

Dry, brittle and peeling

Dry, brittle, thin or peeling nails?

Could just be dry nails, but possibly also…

  • a lack of protein
  • Vitamin D deficiency
  • Deficiency in one or more B vitamins

No half moons?

Ever noticed the lighter-toned half-moons at the base of your fingernail? Or perhaps you haven't noticed them because they're absent all together!

This is usually due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency and is also associated with anemia.

So, how do we get all the nutrients we need, and improve our health?

Even with striving to maintain a healthful, balanced diet, it’s apparent that many of us may not be getting all the nutrients we need for optimal health.

Things that contribute to acquiring nutrient deficiencies:

  • Lack of nutrient bioavailability
  • Poor dietary choices
  • Restricted diets
  • Food sensitivities & intolerances
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Poor nutrient absorption (through the small intestine)
  • Some medications
  • Age

As always, getting your full complement of nutrients is encouraged through whole food sources, but sometimes our diet just isn’t meeting all of our needs and this is where supplementation may be necessary.


For better nutrient bioavailability, there are certain food pairings that increase the uptake and absorption of one or more nutrients = synergistic effect.

For example, pairing sources of Vitamin C with sources of Iron to increase the uptake and absorption of the Iron.

My favourite way to do this is in a fresh, vibrant spinach salad with juicy strawberries!

Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Berry Vinaigrette


8 cups baby spinach leaves (organic preferable)
4 cups strawberries, fresh sliced (organic preferable)
½ red onion, thinly sliced
½ cup walnuts, chopped & toasted (or other fave nut or seed, lightly toasted)

Dairy option: crumbled goat cheese

Dressing - in a small bowl, whisk together the following:

½ avocado or virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic (or raspberry-infused wine vinegar for a lighter, less sweet option)
2 Tbsp honey (unpasteurized preferable)
Pinch smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Salad preparation

In a large bowl, gently toss all salad ingredients.

Pour dressing over top and toss gently to just combine.

If using, sprinkle goat cheese over the top of salad or just on individual plates as it can get “mashed into” the salad very easily.

Spinach does not generally keep very long, and becomes wilted quickly. This salad is best served immediately.


The Wellness Business Hub: Yes, We Do Have Nutrient Deficiencies!
CanPrev: Nutrient Deficiencies - Why Nearly Everyone Has Them
Scientific American: Have Fruits & Vegetables Become Less Nutritious?
Dr Axe: Balance Hormones Naturally

The Stress Avoidance Cycle

Stress, like the rest of life, happens in cycles.

When problems occur in cycles it makes them much easier to ignore, and harder to catch. Be honest, have you ever known you had to make a decision that would let someone down, so you kept busy to avoid it? It feels convenient when the things that irk you, the ones you know you need to change, aren’t staring in your face demanding your attention. Eventually they come back around and you have to do the thing you’ve been dreading, but there’s that time in between where you can shrug off the thing you need to do it feel urgent.

This is how it feels to be in the cycle. It’s easy to put things off and avoid dealing with them, even though you know you’ll need to.

Add this to a busy life, and you might even feel justified in putting off your health, your exercise, important conversations with your partner, or anything really, because it’s not pressing right in front of you.

We’ve all been there before. I carry tension neck and shoulders and I used to think it was just part of my job (as though I had to sit at a desk for 40+ hours a week without a choice). I would use my work as an excuse to stay in this cycle of stress in my body before it would get bad enough to demand my attention.

Let’s see if this sounds familiar…

Phase 1 – Awareness

You know you’re not operating as well as you could be, but it’s not bad enough to divert your attention. You’re aware of the issue, but you keep going anyways.

In the back of my mind I know it’s been a while since I went to a yoga class. When I wake up, I my neck and back are stiff and it takes a few hours to shake it off.

Phase 2 – Pushing Through

This is when the problem starts to rear its head. Now the problem’s in your face, but for whatever reason, you’re pushing past it hoping to hold out a little longer before you address it. This is where the excuses come in… I don’t have time, it’s expensive, I’m waiting until I go on vacation…

For me, this would be back or shoulder pain starting to set into a specific spot. I can feel myself tightening up and my regular stretches aren’t enough to make a difference. My body feels uncomfortable on a daily basis.

Phase 3 – Knockout

Here’s where the issue demands your attention. At this stage, the problem is the loudest thing for you and it suddenly feels like the most important thing on your to do list. It’s got your attention and it’s taken you out of your regular routine so you can give it the focus it deserves.

This is when I’d wake up and be unable to move and it would be physically impossible for me to sit at my desk and focus on my work. I’d book an emergency appointment with my chiro, my massage therapist, and I just might give myself permission to take a bath and a half day off.

When you wait until Phase 3 to get knocked out by your problem (a broken bone, a house fire, a heart attack, getting fired, your spouse leaving) you go through extra unnecessary pain.

Phase 4 – Dormant

Then the problem would be dormant for a while. Ahh, reprieve. It would feel so sweet, but it wouldn’t last long. This is where-- if there wasn’t a real, lasting change made at the root of the problem (did you take the time for that?)-- Phase 4 cycles back into Phase 1 and you repeat the process again.

Addressing the current issue with a chiropractor and massage therapist would be helpful and it would certainly stop the pain for a while. Without addressing the root of the issue—working long hours at an uncomfortable desk and not moving my body enough—I’d cycle back to Phase 3 within a month. Rinse. Repeat.

Sometimes you get lucky and can cycle between Phases 1 and 2 without having to actually confront the problem. While you might not reach Phase 3 and get knocked off track, you’re certainly not operating at a high level across the board in your life. This alone should be your wake-up call.

When you resist a problem in one area, you don’t just resist the pain, you gradually build resistance toward life. Soon the things you love don’t feel as sweet. You stop doing the things you used to, and you create a thick callus of resistance (physically and emotionally) that keeps you playing small in your life.

Getting Off The Cycle

The hardest part of this stress cycle is recognizing that it’s happening to you in the first place. When you live amongst other people who are cycling in the same way as you, it’s hard to pick out your own behaviour because you’d need to up-level to even see what’s going on.

At this stage, all at once, you’re forced to feel everything you’d been pushing down in the months or years before. In your resistance, you’ve shown life that it needs to raise its voice to get your attention. In response, life had to send you something big enough to get you to wake up and realize you’re not taking care of yourself.

This is how you get into trouble with your health.

This cycle is how relationships erode.

It’s how you lose touch with yourself and the things you love.

This is how you wake up one day and realize you barely recognize the life you’re living. (who made all these choices? How did I end up here?)

The thing is, it doesn't have to be like this. It’s up to you to make the choice. Are you going to stay stuck in this stress cycle waiting for life to blow up in your face? Or do you want to be proactive and step off the cycle so you can start thriving and trending in the direction you want your life to go?

Right now, it's summer. Traditionally, this is time for Phase 1. The weather is warm, the sun is shining, you’re soaking up extra vitamin D and you’re feeling good. But the stress you’re carrying is still lingering in the background, going unaddressed, likely waiting until September.

Are you going to wait for it to blow up, or would you like to do something about it now?

The choice is yours.

For those of you who are serious about stepping off this stress cycle and ending it once and for all, I’ve got some space open in my calendar to get you started.

Book your Stress-Less Breakthrough Call with me so we can identify where you’re at in the stress cycle and how to get you off it, for good.

Secrets From the World’s Longest Lived People

This month on the blog we’ve been talking a lot about exercise… what to eat before you exercise, how exercise can give you energy and regulate your hormones, and what’s the best workout for fat burning. This month wouldn’t be complete without touching on a BIG WHY for moving your body (and booty) which is the impact exercise has on your longevity.

When I was studying nutrition I read a book called Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. It had such a profound impact on me, I still think of the lessons shared in that book to this day. At the time, my great grandmother in Italy was celebrating her 100th birthday. So I was thinking a lot about longevity and wondering…Is it really possible to live a healthy 100 years?

Of all the recommendations in the book, one of the things that left an impression was just how much movement other cultures have in one day. Yet for some reason, we in North America (and I’m no different), lead a largely sedentary life. Daily movement is just one of the factors we’ll touch on here as I share some secrets from the world’s longest lived people- my great grandmother included.

Think living a long and healthy life well into your nineties or even one hundred years old is only for those lucky few who hit the genetic lottery? Think again.

Lifestyle factors,(think: the things you do everyday over the long-term) can add up to increase the number of quality years in your lifespan.

Look no further than the people of Blue Zones for proof of how powerful everyday habits are when it comes to staying healthy for the long haul.

The Blue Zones are regions around the world where people have very low rates of chronic disease and live longer compared to other populations.

They are located in regions of Greece, Sardinia, Costa Rica, Japan, and California, where a large number of Seventh Day Adventists reside.

Because these communities are home to the greatest number of people who live healthfully into their nineties and even hundreds, researchers have studied them to determine just how they age so healthfully.

Think for a minute about how awesome it would be to have several decades after “retirement age” to spend with your grandchildren, travel, pursue your interests and hobbies, or anything your heart desires. Isn’t that what you work so hard for now? So that at some point (vacation, retirement) you’ll get to reap the rewards.

The very important key to that scenario is being in great health now so you can feel well and stay mobile into your later years. Listen up, because here’s some great inside into how to do just that.

You definitely don’t have to live in an actual Blue Zone to guarantee longevity. You can adopt some of the well-studied lifestyle traits of these folks to promote health and longevity right where you are.

Here’s the top 5 life “hacks” of the world’s longest living people:

Eat a Plant-rich Diet

People who live in Blue Zone eat a mostly plant-based diet that includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, and whole grains. Animal foods aren’t avoided – they eat smaller portions of meat a handful of times per month.

You don’t have to become a strict vegetarian or vegan, but it’s important to eat a variety of plant foods daily - they contain fiber, vitamins, minerals, and powerful antioxidants that help decrease inflammation and protect you from chronic disease, like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

A simple rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables at every meal. Yep, every meal!

Include Healthy Fats

Eat heart healthy unsaturated and omega-3 fats in the form of olive oil, nuts, and fish.

Getting enough omega-3’s helps decrease disease-causing inflammation and keeps your heart and brain healthy.

Eating enough fat also keeps you feeling fuller longer, which can help prevent overeating that leads to weight gain - bonus!

Stop Eating Before You Feel 100% Full

Avoid the clean plate club. Eating slowly chewing your food thoroughly gives your brain and stomach time to register that it’s had enough to eat.

Blue Zone communities avoid overeating and eating beyond feelings of fullness, which again, can help prevent weight gain.

Drink Red Wine Moderately

Enjoying a glass of red wine per day increases your antioxidant intake, which is thought to decrease inflammation and help prevent heart disease.

Of course, moderation is key. Four ounces of wine is considered a glass and drinking more than that is associated with negative health effects. Read more in my blog about red wine here.

Move Your Body Throughout the Day

Have you heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking”? As in, it’s not good for your health to sit for extended periods of time.

Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting is linked to weight gain, obesity, and increased mortality. You don’t have to become a gym buff, just look for opportunities to add movement into your regular routines.

You might try:

  • Stretching while you watch tv
  • Take an after dinner evening walk
  • Park farther away from your destination
  • Choose stairs over elevators
  • Start an active hobby that you enjoy
  • Take standing and stretching breaks at work
  • Use a stand-up workstation, and fidget while you work (or dance!)

The world’s longest living people live active lives that include daily physical activities like gardening, walking, and manual tasks.


Mediterranean Bean Salad


  • 2 15-oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed (use black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans or chickpeas/garbanzo beans)
  • 1 English cucumber, chopped with skin on
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomato, halved
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup virgin olive oil (= longevity oil!)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 whole cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano or 2 tsp fresh herb
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Combine beans, cucumber, pepper, onion, tomatoes, and olives in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl or sealed jar with a lid, whisk or shake together olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper.
  3. Toss salad with dressing and enjoy at room temperature or refrigerate unused portions.


Power 9: Reverse Engineering Longevity

Why People in “Blue Zones” Live Longer Than the Rest of the World

13 Habits Linked to a Long Life (Backed by Science)

Exercise – How it Impacts Your Energy Levels

Continuing on our summer theme of exercise on the blog, this week we’re looking at how exercise impacts your energy level. When you’re working long hours or on the go a lot of the time, it’s easy to feel drained and want to plant yourself on the couch to recover. While down-time (especially quality sleep at night) is important, adding physical activity to your week can help boost your overall energy.

Maintaining regular body movement is important for managing stress and maintaining optimal hormone levels. Exercise helps your body function optimally over all. As you’ll see in this post, even a little bit goes a long way.

When you’re completely exhausted, the last thing you want to do is lace up your shoes for a workout (nor should you- listen to your body!). But if you’re feeling that way often and you’re tired of being tired all the time, you may want to rethink the idea of regularly exercising.

Exercise is one of the most powerful tools we have for increasing our energy levels and you don’t need to do a lot to reap the benefits… plus, it’s completely, 100% free! How’s that for a powerful health tool?

In fact, a University of Georgia study found that performing 20 minutes of low intensity exercise could decrease fatigue by up to 65%!

A physical activity as simple as walking, yoga or a leisurely bike ride (for only 20 minutes!) can do so much more for your energy than a cup of coffee or an energy drink ever could. Not to mention the downsides of a temporary caffeine boost.

So how does exercise actually increase energy?

There’s a lot of amazing things going on in your body during a workout session. When you exercise, your body increases its production of serotonin, endorphins and dopamine -- all of which are powerful mood boosters.

Dopamine, in particular, has been found to make us feel more alert and motivated. This is exactly why it pays to take that 20-minute walk during your lunch break instead of scrolling through your social feeds.

In addition to releasing these helpful neurotransmitters, exercise has been found to help us sleep better.

When your body gets the rest it needs on a regular basis, you’ll have the energy to get through your busy day -- and maybe even some to spare!

But, can exercise actually works against you?

While a regular sweat session is typically a great thing for your body, there are some circumstances where a workout can actually affect your energy in a negative way.

Working out at night can make it very difficult to wind down and get a restful sleep. Experts recommend avoiding vigorous exercise up to 3 hours before bedtime.

For those with especially hectic schedules, this can be a challenge since it may be the only time of day they can fit in a workout.

However, consider moving your workout to the morning to increase your energy for the whole day. But if you simply can’t, try sticking to a lower intensity nighttime exercise routine so you can wind down when it’s time to sleep. A long walk, or a grounding yoga routine can be just the thing to activate your muscles, without increasing your heart rate significantly.

Too much of a good thing

Yes, you can get too much of a good thing. Exercising too much can actually have the opposite effect on your energy levels.

One study looked at the effects of over-exercising. Participants were put through a rigorous physical training regime for 10 days followed by 5 days of active recovery.

Not only did participants notice a decrease in performance, they also complained of extreme fatigue and difficulty sleeping.

So how much exercise is enough?

It is recommended by many healthy lifestyle experts to get approximately 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous exercise each week to maintain good health. You’ll know you’re getting the right amount of exercise if you notice your energy levels are increasing (pay attention!)

If, after up-leveling your exercise efforts you’re (still) feeling lethargic or are having difficulty sleeping, there’s a good chance you may be overtraining.

One last point about Exercise & Energy -- the food you eat also plays a huge role in your energy levels! In addition to getting regular exercise, be sure to fuel your body with whole foods throughout the day to keep your energy levels up and maintained. See my blog post on what to eat before and after exercise.


Energizing Power Balls

This Energizing Power Ball recipe is a great way to fuel your body pre-workout or to give you a mid-afternoon energy boost.


1 cup of rolled oats
½ cup of nut butter (use sunflower, pumpkin seed or hemp butter for a nut-free option)
¼ cup of raw/unpasteurized honey or pure maple syrup
½ cup of hemp hearts or chia seeds

Optional additions: add a handful of chopped dried fruit and/or unsweetened shredded coconut


  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Roll dough into balls, approximately the size of 1 Tbsp.
  3. Chill and enjoy; place a few in the freezer and enjoy them frozen for a slightly different taste experience!

HIIT workouts: what are they – and are they the best for fat burning and stress management?

Working out has benefits for stress-relief and your waistline. I see many of my clients push their limits at work and then go push themselves some more in the gym. Doubling up like this is not as beneficial as you’d think. So as you read about the benefits of HITT in this post, know that you’ll need to cater your workouts to your stress level and the amount of energy you have on any particular day.

When you’re under a lot of stress, you’re not doing yourself any favours by taking on an intense workout. The truth is, your body doesn’t know the difference between eustress (the good stress you’re under while in a workout) and the chronic stress that can contribute to lifestyle diseases because it’s the same nervous system state. But what HITT training can help you do (over time) is train your body to calm down from intense stress more quickly.

With any exercise program, it’s important to listen to your body and obey your energy level. For women, if you’re in the first 5 days of your cycle, when your energy is directed toward internal processes, it’s not a good idea to do an intense workout. During day 8-24 (assuming you’re on a 28 day cycle) your body naturally has more energy to put into a workout. Listening to your body is the most beneficial way to get the most out of any workout plan.

If you follow the fitness industry, you’ve probably heard of the benefits of HIIT (or High Intensity Interval Training).

The short, yet powerful workouts are touted as the best way to improve your overall conditioning, burn fat, and even balance hormones! (but that’s another article!)

So, what is HIIT anyway?

HIIT workouts involve working at an intense effort level for a short period of time followed by short recovery periods.

Tabata workouts are one great example of a HIIT style workout.

A Tabata session involves 20 seconds of intense all-out effort, followed by 10 seconds of recovery. This is repeated 8 times through for a workout total of 4 minutes only and is said to promote fat loss and increase aerobic power - all in a very short period of time.

Seems like it might be too good to be true...

But, is HIIT really all it’s cracked up to be? And does it actually burn fat?

When it comes to the research, the answer is YES!

One study compared MICT (Moderate Intensity Continuous Training) vs. HIIT and the effects that it had on visceral abdominal fat. The study found that both types of training reduced overall body fat; however HIIT did this in half the time. Half the time!!

Another study from the International Journal of Obesity compared 2 groups of exercisers to determine the benefits of HIIT for women.

The women were divided into two groups: the first group did 40 minutes of steady state aerobic exercise for 15 weeks. The second group did 8 second sprints followed by 12 seconds of recovery for 20 minutes.

The results of the HIIT study?

HIIT participants lost up to 7.3lbs and the steady state exercisers gained up to 2.7lbs. HIIT participants also saw significant reduction in overall body fat as well as subcutaneous abdominal fat - the is the fat just beneath your skin.

Other key benefits of HIIT

  • Reduces fasting insulin levels and decreases risk for Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease
  • It significantly improves your cardiovascular fitness. The International Journal of Obesity Study also found that HIIT participants improved their VO2 max (aerobic power) by up to 23%
  • It balances your hormones! Research shows that high intensity exercise boosts Human Growth Hormone (HGH), which is a powerful anti-aging hormone that helps us maintain lean muscle mass (think revved up metabolism!) AND bone density, which reduces risk of osteoporosis. This can also help your body manage stress, but only if you’re not in a state of exhaustion when you’re working out.
  • It’s easy to fit into a busy lifestyle since it doesn’t take a lot of time.
  • They’re portable. You can get an effective HIIT workout using minimal or no equipment whatsoever which makes it great for staying in shape while you’re on the road.

How often should you do HIIT workouts to achieve these results?

HIIT workouts do have a lot of benefits, and it has been documented that they only need to be done 2-3 times a week.

But, because they require such a high level of effort, they can put more strain on your joints, thus increasing your risk of injury if done too frequently.

This 15-minute bodyweight HIIT workout “recipe” is a great way to burn fat and stay fit when you’re tight for time and space.

The Workout “Recipe”:


  • Jump Squats (beginners can do a regular bodyweight squat without the jump)
  • Push-ups (beginners can start from their knees)
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Burpees

How to perform

Beginners: Do 30 seconds of each exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest. If needed, modify the jump squat to a basic body weight squat (no jump). Pushups can also be modified by performing from knees rather than toes.

Once you’ve completed all 4 exercises, rest for 1-2 minutes.  Repeat for 2-3 sets total.

Intermediate:  Do 40 seconds of each exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest. Once you’ve completed all 4 exercises, rest for 1 minute to 90 seconds. Then repeat for 3 sets total.

Advanced: Do 50 seconds of each exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Once you’ve completed all 4 exercises, rest for 1 minute and repeat for 3 sets total.