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The buds are blooming again, so why can’t you? Upgrade your nutrition and lifestyle routines so you can step into spring feeling like You Version 2.0!
Shed the Winter Coat
If your body has grown an extra layer of insulation this winter, you’re not alone. Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found that people tend to be 5-7 pounds heavier during winter months, likely due to a combination of evolutionary survival mechanisms, seasonal hormonal fluctuations, and lack of sunlight. But by making some easy changes to your meals, you can lighten your load to fit into your pretty spring wardrobe.
We continue to learn more about the importance of balancing blood sugar for weight loss and maintenance. When we eat carbohydrates like grains, vegetables and fruit, they get broken down into sugar in the blood. This causes a release of insulin, which ushers the sugar into our cells so they can use it as fuel. But if we eat simple carbohydrates like white breads and refined sugar, we develop insulin resistance and sugar piles up in the blood, which is then stored as fat. Not only does this contribute to weight gain, but it also paves the way for type 2 diabetes.
To balance blood sugar and keep the fat away, veer from white bread and grains in favour of whole grains like brown rice, millet, kamut and barley. Because of their high fibre content, these grains break down slowly to avoid blood sugar spikes. Be sure to enjoy lots of vegetables and berries, too. Berries are very high in fibre and have a low glycemic index, meaning they don’t spike blood sugar. A recent study found that blueberries improve insulin sensitivity and may be helpful in preventing type 2 diabetes (Stull, 2016).
To rev your metabolism, try adding simple activities to your day that increase your physical activity, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator. These tiny changes will increase your metabolic demand and encourage fat loss. Even pouring a small portion of black seed oil (Nigella sativa) on your salads, in your smoothie, or on a teaspoon can help! A recent study has found that this seed may have anti-obesity effects, in addition to its range of uses in traditional medicines in the Middle East (Hasani-Ranjbar, 2013).
Clear Out the Clutter
Spring cleaning goes for your body, too! Our natural detoxification pathways are burdened by crappy food, environmental toxicants, stress and not enough rest. Ensuring the digestive system is properly digesting and eliminating foods will support the body’s natural ability to detoxify.
On top of having anti-obesity and blood sugar lowering properties, black seed oil has been traditionally used to help constipation, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome. We can also nourish the digestive tract by ensuring there’s enough probiotics – or good bacteria – in the gut to make for a friendly environment. Stress and sugar are major contributors to gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance between good and bad bacteria. Supplementing with probiotic strains like L. acidophilus and B. bifidum can replenish gut flora and improve constipation and diarrhea.
Boost your liver detoxification by incorporating chlorophyll-rich greens like wheatgrass, spirulina and alfalfa into your daily routine. These can be found in a greens powder formula at your health food store and added to smoothies or water. Taking it in the morning can also make you feel more energized throughout the day. Look for a product with shelf-stable probiotics included to lighten your supplement load!
The kicked-up dust of spring cleaning and the pollen from growing gardens can send the lungs gasping for air. If you suffer from asthma or seasonal allergies, avoid known triggers and take your puffer with you. Talk to a naturopathic doctor about doing an elimination diet to uncover hidden food sensitivities, as well as about taking antioxidants like vitamins E and C and fish oil for its anti-inflammatory effect. Bonus? That black seed oil you’ve been taking for your digestion and blood sugar may also reduce symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma (Kalus et al., 2003), which will have your pocket book clicking its heels in joy!
Hasani-Ranjbar, S., Jouyandeh, Z., Abdollahi, M. A systematic review of anti-obesity medicinal plants- an update. J Diabetes Metab Disord. 2013 Jun 19;12(1):28. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23777875
Kalus, U., Pruss, A., Brystron, J., et al. Effect of Nigella sativa (black seed) on subjective feeling in patients with allergic diseases. Phytother Res. 2003 Dec;17(10):1209-14. https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.ccnm.idm.oclc.org/pubmed/14669258?dopt=Abstract
Stull, AJ. Blueberries’ Impact on Insuslin Resistance and Glucose Intolerance. Antioxidants (Basel). 2016. Nov 29;5(4). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27916833
Cassie Irwin is a naturopathic medical intern and Bowen therapist. Get to know Cassie at cassieirwin.ca and follow along on Instagram @cassie.irwin