Food Thickeners, Here’s What You Need to Know

We’re all aware that packaged foods have additional ingredients. Some are more harmful for our health than others. While best practice for fueling your body for long-term health is to stick to eating whole foods, your busy lifestyle might have you leaning on packaged products to save time.

Packaged foods are a fact of life for most people in North America. No matter how busy your schedule is, I recommend to aim for a minimum of 80% whole foods to 20% packaged foods in your diet. For the packaged items you choose, it’s important to read your labels and understand what’s in the food your buying.

Thickeners like the ones I reference in this post can be found in all kinds of different canned, jarred or packed products. Each type of thickener has a different upside (why it’s used in the product) and downside for your health. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the list below so that you can limit the amount of thickeners in your diet.

Pay special attention to eliminate the thickeners below if you have an inflammatory bowel condition, or suspect leaky gut. This may mean making more foods from scratch, but this time investment is small compared to the time out required from aggravating one of these conditions.

Read your labels and know what you’re taking in!

Thickeners are one of many ingredients added to processed foods. And they do just that: thicken. They absorb water and form a gel-like consistency. They’re often used to make foods thick and creamy, without having to add a lot of fat.

Thickeners also tend to emulsify and stabilize foods they're added to. Emulsification allows fats and water to mix better and prevents them from separating (i.e., oil/vinegar salad dressing versus a thicker or creamier emulsified dressing). And "stabilizing" helps the product have a longer shelf-life before the "best before" date.

Thickeners are often found in canned dairy-free milk and any milk that comes in a carton, baked goods, soups/sauces/gravies, puddings/ice cream, etc. Some are even added to dietary supplements!

These thickeners are polysaccharides, which means they're long chains of many (poly) saccharides (sugars). They're typically difficult to digest, which makes them similar to dietary fiber. And this also means they can help you feel fuller longer without providing many calories or any nutrients.

They're naturally-derived but are heavily processed to extract the compound. (Did I say "heavily?")

Good to know: food additives are considered anti-nutrients because they reduce the absorption of dietary minerals like calcium.

Overall, for the general healthy population, in small doses, these thickeners don't seem to create massive health concerns. But, even though they're extracted from whole foods, they're far from it. Plus, there are lots of reasons to avoid them altogether.

Let’s briefly dive into five of the common ones.

Xanthan Gum

Xanthan gum is made by a bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris. This bacteria can cause diseases in plants (e.g., leaf spot). The xanthan gum is created when the bacteria ferment sugar. Xanthan gum is extracted from the liquid, dried, and ground.

Because it's like dietary fibre, xanthan gum has been shown to help reduce blood sugar spikes. Its thickening properties can help slow the absorption of sugar, therefore slowing the speed sugar can get into the bloodstream.

In high doses, xanthan gum can act as a laxative and can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It also may act as a prebiotic (food for our friendly gut microbes), but more research is needed.

Xanthan gum should be avoided by infants and people with severe wheat, corn, soy, or dairy allergies.

Guar Gum

Guar gum is made from legumes called guar beans. These beans are split, and the endosperm is ground to get the guar gum.

Like xanthan gum, guar gum may reduce blood sugar spikes, act as a laxative, and possibly a prebiotic.

In rodents, guar gum has been shown to increase intestinal permeability (i.e., leaky gut).

Cellulose Gum

Cellulose gum is made from wood pulp and cotton. To extract the cellulose gum, the pulp is processed with several chemicals, which are then removed.

Cellulose gum can cause bacterial overgrowth and inflammation in animals who eat large amounts of it. It’s been suspected to be linked with IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is made from red seaweed that's dried, ground, chemically treated, filtered, and dehydrated.

Carrageenan can increase intestinal permeability (i.e., leaky gut). It has been linked to gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcers, and colitis-like conditions in animals. It has also been used in high doses to cause tumors in animals for cancer research.

Unlike other thickeners, some rodent studies have shown that carrageenan can worsen blood sugar control issues.

Lecithin

Lecithin most often comes from soybeans, but can also come from eggs, canola, or sunflower seeds. It's heavily processed with chemicals and then purified.

Lecithin also contains phospholipids, triglycerides, sterols, free fatty acids, and carotenoids.

One of lecithin's metabolites (what your body metabolizes lecithin into once it's absorbed) is linked to heart disease. On the other hand, it does lower serum cholesterol. Overall, the jury seems to be out on its heart health effects.

Conclusion

Thickeners are highly processed food additives derived from nature. They are found in many processed foods because they thicken, reducing the amount of fat needed.

In the body, they can act as a dietary fibre, and may have some of the health benefits of that. But, they can also contribute to gastrointestinal issues, especially in higher doses. They can also be allergenic in small doses.

Do you read your labels to see which thickeners are in your foods? Are you going to look out for these additives? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Thickener-free): Creamy Salad Dressing

Serves 8-12

1 avocado, ripe
½ cup coconut milk - use one without added thickeners or make your own (you may need more to thin)
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp dill, dried
1 tsp chives, dried
1 tsp parsley, dried
½ tsp basil, dried
4 dashes salt
4 dashes pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until creamy.

Add more coconut milk or herbs/spices to reach desired consistency and flavour.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Add cilantro for additional flavour.

References:

https://www.thepaleomom.com/is-it-paleo-guar-gum-xanthan-gum-and-lecithin-oh-my/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/xanthan-gum

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/guar-gum

https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/cellulose-gum

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/carrageenan

Intermittent fasting: Is it the key to losing weight?

It can be tempting to jump on the latest diet trend, especially if you need to lose weight. It’s not very often that I’ll recommend a diet to one of my coaching clients. My philosophy is usually to stick to whole foods and nutrient-dense meals that keep you full and satisfy your cravings.

In this post I share about intermittent fasting and some research to suggest that it helps with weight loss, particularly belly fat. It’s important to note that there are other ways to lose belly fat (which tends to have a lot to do with stress, hormones and lifestyle) than by fasting. The intermittent fasting approaches outlined below may be helpful for someone who is obese and needs to change their lifestyle.

Intermittent fasting is also recommended during a healing period for those with gastrointestinal irritation and inflammation because it provides the GI tract with a break from food.

For the majority of you reading this, my suggestion is rather than intermittent fasting, stick with whole foods, make nutritious choices and stop eating for the day 3 hours before you go to bed. 🙂

In a nutshell, intermittent fasting is just that: fasting intermittently.

It's limiting calorie intake during certain hours/day or days/week. It's more of an eating pattern than a diet. It limits when to eat, and not so much what to eat. And that’s part of it’s appeal to people who don’t want to count calories or use a food log to track what they eat.

Some would say that it's a more natural way to eat because humans evolved without refrigerators, drive-throughs, or 24-hour convenience stores. We now have access to food (including junk food) all day long, so eating several meals per day plus snacks may be less natural than fasting from time to time.

There are lots of variations on this theme. They include:

  • 16/8 which is 16 hours of fasting, and eating only within the other 8 hours (often 1:00 pm. - 9:00 p.m.);
  • 5:2 days of fasting, where you eat regularly for five days of the week, then take in a low number of calories/day for the other two (non-consecutive) days.

Is intermittent fasting effective for weight loss?

Intermittent fasting can help to lose weight because it can help you to eat fewer calories, and burn more calories too.

Lots of people say they have success with it. But what do the studies say?

According to one review study, intermittent fasting helped people to lose 3-8% of their weight over 3-24 weeks.  In this study, people also lost 4-7% of their waist circumference (i.e., belly fat).

Another study of 100 people with obesity showed that after a year, the people who fasted on alternate days lost more weight than people who didn’t change their eating pattern. But, (and here’s where it’s interesting) they didn’t lose any more weight than those on a calorie restricted diet. Out of the people who were to follow the intermittent fasting protocol, 38% of them dropped out.

Sticking with a plan is one of the keys to weight loss success. So, if you can’t stick to a weight-loss plan, you’re less likely to lose the weight and keep it off.

Before you consider intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting is not for everyone. I want to make that very clear. Often times I have clients who are busy professionals ask me about intermittent fasting because they’re looking to get out of preparing breakfast in the morning. Intermittent fasting is a strategy that can help you lose weight if you need to, or it can be helpful for those who have digestive irritation and need to give their bodies a break from food. I don’t recommend using it as a way to encourage laziness—as in not preparing breakfast before you leave for work in the morning.

With that said, people who are underweight, or have eating disorders, also shouldn’t fast. Neither should women who are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Certain medical conditions can be worsened with longer periods of fasting. Also, people taking certain medications can be prone to side effects with intermittent fasting as well.

One of the reasons people drop out of the intermittent fasting eating pattern is that it’s hard to stick with the fasting part, especially when you’re doing fasting days. They eat more than the allowed (low-level of) calories when they’re supposed to be fasting. And when they finish fasting, they may overindulge due to the reaction of the appetite hormones and hunger drive while fasting. This sets up a restrict-binge cycle that’s not healthy for your body or your hormones, nor will it help with weight loss. If you have the tendency to restrict your eating as a means to control your calorie intake, intermittent fasting is not recommended for you.

Also, the hours and days of fasting can be very difficult. So having strong social support will be key to those intermittent periods of fasting. Sticking to a (healthy, nutrient-dense) diet designed for weight loss is the key to success, and intermittent fasting can be difficult for many people to stick with.

Conclusion

Intermittent fasting is a weight loss diet that may work for some people. It can help you to lose weight and reduce belly fat. But, it isn't safe for everyone. Many people should not try intermittent fasting because it can be risky. It can also be difficult to stick with.

For the best chance of long-term weight loss success, finding a diet, you can stick with is key.

What about you - Have you or someone you know tried intermittent fasting? What were the results? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Whole food): Almond Butter Energy Bites

Makes about 12 energy bites

1 cup oats
⅔ cup almond butter
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup flax seeds, ground
2 Tbsp. honey
1 pinch finely ground sea salt

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and stir.

Using a tablespoon to measure, roll into about 12 energy bites.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can roll the bites to coat them in cocoa powder for a bit of extra flavour and to prevent them from being too sticky.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/intermittent-fasting-guide/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/not-so-fast-pros-and-cons-of-the-newest-diet-trend

Creating a Mindset for Health

As a holistic practitioner I look at the WHOLE person, not just your parts. Thinking holistically just makes sense to me. Why would we pretend that your thoughts have nothing to do with how your body responds? If you’ve ever cried before, you’ve proven there’s a connection between your physiology (how your body reacts) and your thoughts and emotions.

We don’t often make this connection when it comes to larger issues in our health. Looking at your mindset is a hidden key to creating a well-rounded picture of your health. Sooner or later the way you think about and talk to yourself will catch up with you because your body is always listening.

This post talks about how to create a mindset for your health and I reference a pretty cool study that gives a great example. If you thought your mindset had nothing to do with your physical body, think again.

So much of health is all about habits and actions, but where do these all stem from? What if we don’t have to make as many changes as we think we do? What if there was one powerful thing that makes a lot of difference?

That thing is mindset.

Mindset is sometimes called “the story we tell ourselves.” It’s our attitude toward things in our life. And we have control over our mindset.

And research is showing that it may be far more powerful than we thought.

Very interesting health mindset study

Here’s a quick story about a fascinating study.

Researchers at Stanford University looked at a bunch of people's health and wellness lifestyle habits, as well as health markers.

What they found was that the people who thought they were a lot less active than they actually were, had a higher risk of death than the general public. And, they also had up to 71% higher risk of death than people who thought they were more active. Even if the story they told themselves about being “not very active” wasn’t true!

How is this even possible that people who simply thought they were less active had higher risks, even if it wasn’t true?

There are a couple of ideas why. One is that maybe if we feel like we're less active, it may make us feel more stressed. And stress isn't good for our mental or physical health. Second, there may be a bit of a mind-body connection where the body embodies what the mind visualizes.

Researchers don't know why, but what matters is that there is a good mindset.

This means that our mindset, the way we think about ourselves and our habits is extremely important…just as important as actually having good habits.

So, let me give you a couple of strategies to boost your mindset for health.

Health mindset strategy 1 - Aim for good enough.

Almost no one eats perfectly seven days a week (not even me, and I’ll be the first to admit it). It's inevitable that obsessing over the quality and quantity of everything we eat or drink isn't necessarily a great mindset to have.

It can bring on binging, shame, and guilt - none of these are great ways to get healthy. We want to get healthier by making better choices and building better habits. And these are usually best done incrementally - one step at a time.

So, instead of having a black and white approach where everything is good or bad, why not try aiming for good enough to empower ourselves to make better choices, instead of perfect choices.

If it helps, tell yourself that you’re doing an experiment. Allow yourself to try out a new habit or way of eating and give yourself permission to experiment with it, instead of aiming for perfection. Sometimes you need to use this mind trick to get yourself over the hump of getting started and sticking to it.

Health mindset strategy 2 - Stop making tradeoffs

When you try to “earn” a gluttonous weekend by eating clean during the week, you're making a tradeoff. You're telling yourself that, as long as you're good most of the week, you can go wild on the weekend.

And that's not awesome because the mindset is jumping from one extreme to the other. You're controlling what you do all week, and possibly thinking about how to indulge over the weekend. A better mindset is to live as though you're trying to do well every single day. Like you care about your health and wellness. Caring about your health can still include the occasional treat. When you're consistently doing your best, that's good enough.

Conclusion

Mindset for health can be a powerful tool for better physical health. There’s a proven mind-body connection that research can measure.

Thinking positively, and dropping the black/white and good/bad labels, can help you reach your health goals.

How is your mindset for health? Which of these tips resonate with you the most? How are you going to implement them in your life? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Hydrating mindset refresher): Chia Berry Water

Serves 1

1 Tbsp. chia seeds
¼ cup raspberries
¼ tsp mint
2.5 cups water

Instructions

Add the water, mint & raspberries to your blender and blend until combined (add ice, if desired). Fill your favourite water bottle with the mixture and add chia seeds. Shake before drinking.

Serve & enjoy! This is a great source of fiber and a refreshing tasty drink to have during the day.

References:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mind-over-matter-how-fit-you-think-you-are-versus-actual-fitness-2017081412282

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/making-health-decisions-mindsets-numbers-and-stories-201112123946

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weekend-overeating

What’s better Antioxidant Foods or Supplements?

We live in a short-cut society. We want things big, and awesome, and we want them NOW. Unfortunately, this desire for instant gratification can be backwards or even harmful when it comes to our health.

There are supplements on the market for just about everything today; joint health, eye sight, heart health, and intestinal support. But do we really know how these supplements stack up against whole-food nutrient sources?

Getting your nutrients in supplement form is tempting because it’s so convenient, especially multivitamins (more on them here) but don’t let your busy lifestyle cheat you out of getting your nutrients from whole foods.

Supplements have their place. As I’m writing this there is a bottle of GABA on my desk (GABA is a neurotransmitter known to produce a calming effect in the body). The trouble with supplements comes when we think they can replace whole foods.

In today’s post we’re looking at antioxidant and how whole food sources stack up against supplements. I give you simple ways to get more antioxidants in your diet, especially if you’re known to skip meals, because you need them.

Antioxidants are just that: they fight (anti) oxidation.

The chemical process of oxidation is like rusting metal. A molecule loses electrons and creates the “free radicals.”  Oxidation is also the reason why apples, bananas, and avocados go brown when the skin is broken, and they're exposed to air - they're getting oxidized.

Another way of thinking of oxidation is that it’s a form of “stress” inside your body.

Free radicals in the body cause inflammation and can contribute to diseases like cancers, diabetes, and heart disease (to name a few). So, the antidote to oxidation is the antioxidant. Vitamins like vitamins A, C, and E are examples of antioxidants. So are other compounds in foods like carotenoids and phenols. These compounds sacrifice their electrons to stop the oxidation process; this why squirting some lemon juice on your sliced apples, bananas and avocados slows down the browning process.

But don’t think that all oxidation in the body is bad. It’s not. Your body naturally oxidizes compounds all the time when it’s doing healthy things like metabolizing nutrients or exercising.

As with many things in life and health, the key is maintaining a good balance. In this case, as the balance between oxidation and anti-oxidation.

We can throw off that balance with exposure to too much alcohol, smoking, or environmental pollutants. Even over-exercising or too much sun exposure can create too much oxidation.

The best sources of antioxidants to combat this effect are nutritious whole foods, like colourful fresh produce, e.g., blueberries, purple cabbage, etc. In fact, the more colourful and darker the plant is, the higher levels of antioxidants it usually has. Chemicals that give the plants their deep colours are often the antioxidants themselves.

Antioxidants in food

Here’s a list of common antioxidants and the foods they’re found in:

  • Vitamin A - Found in liver, dark leafy greens (e.g., kale), orange fruits and veggies (e.g., mangoes, carrots & squashes)
  • Vitamin C - Found in bell peppers, citrus, berries, and leafy greens
  • Vitamin E - Found in leafy greens, nuts (e.g., walnuts), and seeds (e.g., sunflowers)
  • Carotenoids (e.g., beta-carotene, lycopene, etc.) - Found in tomatoes, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and salmon
  • Phenols - Found in green tea, black tea, coffee, cocoa, red wine, and berries

A lot of these foods are quick and easy to eat, How can you add more green tea to your day? Think beyond your main nutrients (protein, fat and carbs) to the micronutrients that you’re getting from whole foods every day. You could add a handful of nuts as a snack, or eat a salad with coloured vegetables for lunch to get more antioxidants into your day.

Blueberries are probably one of the most studied antioxidant foods. They contain a range of phytochemical (i.e., plant chemical) compounds and are very high in anthocyanins (the blue-coloured compound).

The antioxidant capacity can be measured in a laboratory; this is called the "oxygen radical absorption capacity," or "ORAC." And blueberries have one of the highest ORAC levels.

Hey all you coffee lovers: Some studies estimate that the highest source of antioxidants in the average American is not from berries, it's from coffee! This doesn’t mean that coffee is the highest food offering antioxidants, just the highest one consumed. Can you imagine how much healthier you would be if you added a few more servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to your day?

Antioxidant Foods vs. Supplements

While antioxidant supplements have been tested, their results haven’t been as good as many hoped. Compared with eating a nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich colourful array of plants, antioxidants supplements have fallen short.

Many studies of antioxidant supplements haven’t shown any benefit against heart disease, cancer, or other diseases. And these are diseases that are known to be reduced in people who eat a lot of foods that are naturally full of antioxidants.

More isn’t always better. In fact, too much of any individual antioxidant, like when overdoing supplements, can be harmful. Too much vitamin A is linked to increased risk of hip fractures and prostate cancer. Too much beta-carotene increases the risk of lung cancer in smokers. Too much vitamin E increases the risk of prostate cancer, lung infections, heart failure, and even death.

One of the reasons why we think that antioxidant foods work so much better than antioxidant supplements is because of synergy. The concept of synergy means that by taking one component out of healthful food (i.e., the antioxidant), it loses the effect it has when combined with all the other healthy components it came with from nature.

This is the difference between eating a whole orange and taking a vitamin C supplement. The orange is going to have more than just vitamin C, and many of those compounds will work together for overall health better than just isolating one and having higher-than-normal doses of it.

Conclusion

There are antioxidant vitamins (A, C & E) and other antioxidants like carotenoids and polyphenols. They're highest in colourful fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some meats, tea, coffee, and cocoa.

You can’t replace a diet full of nutrient-dense antioxidant-rich whole foods with supplements. So stick with the foods.

Which antioxidant-rich foods and drinks are your favourites? Let me know in the comments below.

Recipe (Antioxidant-rich): Blueberry Smoothie

Serves 2

1 handful baby spinach leaves
1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
1 banana
1 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. flax seeds
1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or coconut water)
1 dash cinnamon

Directions

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Use any greens you have on hand in place of the spinach.

References:

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/encyclopedia/food/antioxidants

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/soreness-and-blueberries

https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-coffee

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/supplements-a-scorecard

https://examine.com/nutrition/4-science-based-superfoods-you-should-be-eating/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/family-health-guide/swan-song-for-antioxidant-supplements-the

Which Foods Can Help With High Blood Pressure?

Guess how many people have high blood pressure?

A billion!

It’s said to be the “#1 risk factor for death and disability in the world.”

If you have high blood pressure, it's best that you are monitored by your healthcare professional. And if you're on medication for high blood pressure never change that without speaking with a medical professional.

In this post I’ll share what exactly blood pressure is, and which foods and lifestyle factors can help with it.

What is high blood pressure?

It’s something your doctor commonly checks. You can even do it yourself in many pharmacies, or purchase at-home blood pressure monitors. There is an inflatable tube placed around your arm that gets blown up and tight. It measures how hard your blood is pushing against the walls of your blood vessels.

If your vessels are stiff, the pressure increases. It's important to get your blood pressure checked regularly because for many people there are no symptoms as it slowly creeps higher and higher.

This measurement is important because elevated high blood pressure for too long can cause serious damage. In extreme cases, it can result in blindness, kidney damage, stroke, or even a heart attack.

Here are a few of the foods and drinks that can help with blood pressure.

Eat more plants - This is key

If there is one thing you can to eat to help with lowering blood pressure, it’s plants.

Plants increase your intake of many critical nutrients. Especially vitamins C, E, and folate; and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and sulfur. Not to mention the all-around health booster known as fibre. All of these nutrients are needed for optimal heart and blood health.

Some plants to eat more of include leafy greens (kale in particular), legumes, nuts/seeds, broccoli, cauliflower, and tomatoes.

Two plants I want to highlight in particular are flaxseeds and beets. A few tablespoons of ground flaxseeds a day is one of the best foods to help with high blood pressure. Beets contain a blood pressure lowering substance called nitrate. Beet juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure within hours of drinking it.

Eat fewer processed foods

We've all heard the advice to reduce sodium intake for high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, most of the sodium in our diet is from the salt added to processed foods. It's not from the dash or two on your homemade cooked-from-scratch dinner. Reducing processed food intake not only reduces sodium and sugar intake but also increases intake of more nutrient-dense less processed foods. Win-win.

Ditch the fast-food, takeout, restaurant meals, and convenience snacks. Replace them with some of the plants I mentioned above.

Ditch the caffeine… particularly if you’re sensitive to it

Coffee has been shown to temporarily increase blood pressure. Its effects can last for up to three hours after drinking it. It may not be so bad if you're not sensitive to it, but caffeine affects some people more than others. Some caffeine sensitivity symptoms include shakiness, worry, irregular heartbeat, or difficulty sleeping.

If you find caffeine affects you, then try switching to decaf or eliminating it altogether.

Tip: Since caffeine can affect your blood sugar, it’s wise not to drink coffee or have other sources of caffeine right before your doctor’s appointment or blood pressure test.

Drink hibiscus tea

This is not hype. There is science behind the blood pressure lowering effects of hibiscus tea.

Several clinical studies have shown that it works. In one study, people drank two cups of strong hibiscus tea every morning. Those two cups were made using a total of five tea bags. This lowered the subjects' blood pressure as much as a blood pressure medication.

Lifestyle

In addition to food, know that a number of lifestyle factors can be helpful too.

  • First of all, if you smoke, make a plan to quit.
  • If you drink alcohol, stay within the recommended daily limits.
  • If you're seriously stressed, try yoga, deep breathing, walking in nature, or any other activity that calms you and reduces your stress.
  • If you don’t exercise, start small. Also try not to overdo exercise if you already have high blood pressure.

Conclusion

High blood pressure can be a silent, and all-too-common issue.  Elevated blood pressure puts you at risk for serious diseases.

If you have elevated blood pressure, you should be regularly monitored by your healthcare professional, and never change your medications without his/her input.

Some of the key food and lifestyle upgrade tips that can help with blood pressure are:

  • Eat more plants, particularly ground flaxseeds and beets
  • Eat fewer processed foods
  • Cut out caffeine if you're sensitive to it
  • Drink hibiscus tea
  • Quit smoking
  • Moderate your alcohol consumption
  • Reduce stress
  • Exercise wisely

Which of these are you going to try first? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe (Blood pressure balancing): Smoothie Bowl

Serves 1

1 cup kale
½ cup berries (your favourite kind)
½ cup beets, raw, diced
½ banana
2 Tbsp. flaxseeds, ground
1 dash cinnamon
½ cup almond milk, unsweetened

Instructions

Add all ingredients to blender in order listed. Blend until smooth.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Feel free to top with a few berries or a sprinkle of cinnamon.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-high-blood-pressure

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/natural-treatments-for-common-medical-problems#Highbloodpressure

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-prevent-high-blood-pressure-with-diet/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-to-treat-high-blood-pressure-with-diet/

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/hibiscus-tea-vs-plant-based-diets-for-hypertension/

http://www.healthline.com/health/foods-good-for-high-blood-pressure#overview1

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/18-foods-to-lower-blood-pressure/

https://www.dietvsdisease.org/does-coffee-raise-blood-pressure/