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Your thyroid is incredibly important to your everyday health — did you know that these foods can support thyroid health?

First things first, I’ll break down the basics of why your thyroid is important, what it does, and the factors that can affect how well it works. Then, I’m sharing 7 foods that support thyroid health — hint: you’re probably already eating a lot of them!

Thyroid 101

The thyroid is basically your body’s silent workhorse — it releases the vital hormones that control your major bodily functions. This includes digestion, metabolism, heartbeat, temperature and how you use energy. When it’s not working correctly, you can gain unexplained weight, experience fatigue, feel anxious and more. (1)

According to the National Women’s Health Information Center, about 20 million people suffer from a thyroid disorder in the United States. You can tell that something is “off” with your thyroid when you experience issues like weight gain, depression, anxiety and you’re not sure why. Since the thyroid controls your body’s “thermostat” it directly affects appetite and energy, which both play a major role in how you feel every day.

Thyroid Disorders

When something’s going on with this butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck, you could experience these thyroid disorders and their common symptoms.

Hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid that doesn’t produce enough hormones (2)
  • Unexplainable weight gain
  • Digestive issues like bloating, constipation and gas
  • Feeling cold all of the time
  • Anxiety and unexplained moodiness
  • Potential brain fog and weakened memory
  • Feeling lethargic, lacking motivation and frequent feelings of fatigue
Hyperthyroidism — an overactive thyroid that produces too many hormones (3)
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Experiencing insomnia
  • Having chest pains
  • Feeling anxiety and experiencing your heart racing
  • Sweating a lot
Goiter — when the gland is abnormally large (4)
  • Can be extremely large, but simple ones can be brought under control before this happens
  • May cause difficulty breathing and swallowing
Thyroid Nodules — when a small lump is found in the gland (5)
  • Typically, not noticeable
  • Some nodules though may produce too much thyroid hormone and can cause hyperthyroidism
  • Nodules that become too large can cause difficulty breathing or swallowing
Thyroid Cancer — cancer cells are found in the gland (6)
  • Most thyroid nodules aren’t cancerous, but they should all be checked by a medical professional to rule this out
Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis — experiencing inflammation that’s reduced thyroid function (7)
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling cold
  • Having a depressive mood
  • Experiencing dry skin
  • Having puffy eyes
  • Feeling constipated
  • Unexplained weight gain
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Joint and muscle pain and fatigue.
What Factors Affect Thyroid Health?

Your thyroid is affected by a slew of factors — ranging from genetics to your lifestyle habits, stress, environmental toxins, and your diet.

Diets that are deficient in iodine, selenium, and zinc are at-risk of thyroid issues. Additionally, poor gut health plays a part in causing imbalances, too.

Fortunately, you can control your diet, and that means filling up on foods that support strong thyroid health. Below, I’m sharing 7 easy additions you can easily incorporate into your diet today.

These 7 foods support thyroid health — hint: you're probably already eating a few of them! #nutritionstripped

7 Foods That Support Thyroid Health 1. Seaweed

Seaweed is the rockstar here — just one dried sheet contains well above the daily recommended value of iodine, an important nutrient that the thyroid turns into thyroid hormones. (8)

2. Brazil Nuts

A handful or two of brazil nuts — about 6-7 nuts — can contain more than your daily recommended value of selenium. Studies have shown that selenium kickstarts the production of active thyroid hormones. (10) Brazil nuts also provide zinc, another important nutrient for your thyroid — a deficiency could cause hypothyroidism. (11)

3. Berries

Foods that are high in antioxidants are amazing for your thyroid, too. One study suggests that people with hypothyroidism have higher levels of free radicals. (12) Here’s a peek at the NS recipes that contain berries.

4. Eggs

One egg contains about 20% of your daily recommended value of selenium and 15% of your daily recommended value of iodine. Check out some NS recipes that have eggs.

5. Garlic

Garlic is thyroid-friendly because it supports blood-sugar metabolism and can fight inflammation. They may balance out foods that are rich in fats and carbohydrates, too. Read more about garlic in the Food Index.

6. Olive Oil

Healthy fat, as found in olive oil, can help maximize your metabolism and regulate weight — all tied to a happy thyroid. Olive oil is also packed with the antioxidant polyphenols that have been studied for their anti-cancer properties. (13)

7. Lentils

Lentils are great sources of plant-based protein, but they also provide iron to the body. Research has shown that iron deficiency has been linked to poor thyroid function. (14) Here are the NS recipes that use this ingredient.

  1. Underactive thyroid: Overview. PubMed Health. (2017, August 10).
  2. Hypothyroidism – National Library of Medicine – PubMed Health. (n.d.).
  3. Hyperthyroidism – National Library of Medicine. PubMed Health. (n.d.).
  4. PubMed Health. Goiter – National Library of Medicine. (n.d.).
  5. Bomeli, S. R., LeBeau, S. O., & Ferris, R. L. (2010, April). Evaluation of a thyroid nodule.
  6. PubMed Health. Thyroid Cancer – National Library of Medicine. (n.d.).
  7. PubMed Health. Selenium supplementation for Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. (2013, June 06).
  8. Zimmermann, M. B., & Boelaert, K. (2015, April). Iodine deficiency and thyroid disorders.
  9. Hormone Health Network. Thyroid Disorders. (n.d.).
  10. Rayman, M. P. (2000, July 15). The importance of selenium to human health.
  11. Betsy, A., Binitha, M., & Sarita, S. (2013). Zinc Deficiency Associated with Hypothyroidism: An Overlooked Cause of Severe Alopecia.
  12. Erdamar, H., Demirci, H., Yaman, H., Erbil, M. K., Yakar, T., Sancak, B., . . . Yetkin, I. (n.d.). The effect of hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, and their treatment on parameters of oxidative stress and antioxidant status.
  13. Rigacci, S., & Stefani, M. (2016, June). Nutraceutical Properties of Olive Oil Polyphenols. An Itinerary from Cultured Cells through Animal Models to Humans.
  14. Eftekhari, M. H., Keshavarz, S. A., Jalali, M., Elguero, E., Eshraghian, M. R., & Simondon, K. B. (n.d.). The relationship between iron status and thyroid hormone concentration in iron-deficient adolescent Iranian girls.
Additional Resources
  1. The Best and Worst Foods for Your Thyroid, Health
  2. What to Eat to Support A Good Thyroid, Women’s Health Network
  3. 6 Common Thyroid Disorders & Problems, Healthline
Let’s Hear It

I hope you found this article about all things thyroid and foods that support thyroid health interesting and helpful. What additional questions do you have? Leave a comment below — or say hi on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

The post 7 Foods That Support Thyroid Health appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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If you’re looking to try new foods or just squeeze in more plant-rich protein into your diet, then try this easy veggie tofu scramble that is great for lunch leftovers.

The mint chutney can be used as a dipping sauce for roasted vegetables, in other stir-fry dishes, or as a sandwich spread to give your lunch a little zing! 

Eating more plant-centric is incredibly beneficial to your health, even if that’s just eating a meatless meal one day a week. Tofu, plant-based protein, is the star of this scramble recipe and here’s why: tofu contains all amino acids, fiber, and healthy fats. In just one serving of tofu, you could get as much as 20g of protein! If you can purchase organic tofu that’s the optimal choice and most grocery stores and markets offer the organic variation. But wait, what if you’re really not into tofu? No worries, you can still make this recipe with good ole’ eggs for a class scramble, but try out tofu

Not sure about tofu? Learn more about tofu and other plant-based proteins you should eat here. It’s a great source of protein and nutrients for everyone, despite their dietary lifestyle.

Making This?

Submit your photo below — we’d love to see how yours turns out! — and fellow Society members could get inspired, too.  Connect with us on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.

The post Veggie Tofu Scramble with Herb Chutney appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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A dairy-free onion dip that uses sweet caramelized onions, nutritional yeast, raw cashews and more — and it’s about to be your new favorite dip.

I think we can all agree that French onion dip is a classic. It’s tangy, salty, creamy and cool — making it an easy gameday and party go-to. However, the traditional kind we all grew up eating definitely lacks the nutritional punch. That’s why I set out to create a dairy-free onion dip that checked all of the boxes — and tasted just as good — if not better.

This simple recipe delivers the perfect, irresistible tang that you’d expect in a great onion dip. Caramelized onions pair with protein-rich nutritional yeast and soaked raw cashews, a splash of lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, a dash of black pepper and an onion salt mix. The result is flavor-packed and delicious — all while being dairy-free, too.

Like cashew cheese and hummus, this dairy-free onion dip is great to make on batch cooking day. Simply make a batch, taste test it — of course! —and store in an airtight container so you can enjoy all week long. Eat it with your favorite raw or roasted veggies, on a lunchtime wrap, as part of your Nourish Bowl — the possibilities are endless!

This #dairyfree onion dip is tangy, salty, creamy and cool — making it an easy gameday and party go-to. #nutritionstripped 


If you make this recipe, I want to see your pics! Tag NS on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped and be sure to upload your photos directly on this page. Scroll down to the bottom right-hand corner and submit away!

xx McKel

The post Creamy Sweet Onion Dip appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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No #saddesklunch here — here’s how you can make a happy gut lunch bowl and be the envy of your coworkers.

Whether you’re a newbie to the lunch bowl game, or you’re a long-time veteran to these versatile meal planning-friendly dishes, you’ll love today’s article on how to make a lunch bowl that gives your digestion a little hug with each bite.

All Hail Lunch Bowls

Lunch bowls are an incredible option when you’re making healthy eating a priority. They’re simple to assemble, very versatile, and they have the ability satisfy you with nourishing whole-food ingredients in a creative way. There’s no right or wrong way to make a healthy lunch bowl, making it an ideal healthy meal option for even the cooking-challenged or easily-bored with routine.

The ultimate lunch bowl celebrates an amazing balance of carbohydrates, fiber, protein and healthy fats. It’s a versatile meal idea that will encourage you to utilize what’s in season, while also incorporating pantry staples to maximize the nutrition content that will have you feeling your best all day long.

1 protein + 1-2 carbohydrates (including fruit) + 1-2 healthy fats + 2-3 vegetables + something fermented

Whether you’re making lunch for yourself, your partner or your kids, you can put this simple “equation” into place. It takes the guesswork out of mealtime and ensures that you’re getting a solid combination of macronutrients each and every time.

Also, a secret to staying inspired with lunch bowls, and not falling into a lunchtime rut is to vary your ingredients often! Discover the basic framework, along with the science that backs them, with easy options to get started today.

No #saddesklunch here — learn the framework to make a happy gut lunch bowl. #nutritionstripped


Carbohydrates play an important role in providing your body with energy to function throughout your day. Carbs are digested and broken down into glucose that’s then used to produce adenosine triphosphate, known as ATP. Your cells use ATP to function tasks in the systems throughout your body. (1)

While carbs are most often associated with foods like bread, crackers, and pasta, this macronutrient can actually be found in dozens of foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, legumes and dairy products. You can read more about why carbohydrates are important to your everyday nutrition here.

Carbohydrate examples include sweet potatoes, quinoa, wild rice, whole grain pasta, plantains, fruits, corn, peas, sprouted bread.


Studies have shown that higher amounts of fiber in our diets can be linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, and a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. (2) It plays an important role in gut health too, as it aids in healthy digestion. By drawing fluids from the body, it can help move foods quicker through the digestive tract.

Fiber comes in two forms: soluble and insoluble, and are all beneficial to health. (3) Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can help lower glucose levels and blood cholesterol. These sources include nuts, beans, lentils, apples, and berries. The second form, insoluble fiber, does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber can help food move through your digestive system while promoting regularity in bowel movements. These sources include wheat, whole wheat bread, whole grain couscous, brown rice, legumes, carrots, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Much of the population is not getting enough fiber in their regular diet. The National Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 20 to 35 grams per day.

Fiber examples include avocado, berries, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, lentils, raw or lightly greens like spinach, kale and arugula, root vegetables like sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, and add-ons like chia seeds, flaxseed.


Protein plays a huge role in the body and is involved in digestive health, rebuilding tissue and muscle, energy, hormonal production, immune health as antibodies, enzymes, structure, and storage/transportation of other molecules. Protein is part of every single cell in our body.

Our bodies digest and absorb some proteins a little better or worse than others. The higher bioavailability and absorption, the better. Animal proteins such as eggs, beef, chicken, fish contain high amounts of protein and are also more bioavailable; but this doesn’t mean you can only achieve high protein bioavailability with these foods. (4)

This post about 10 plant-based proteins you should be eating is one of the most popular posts on NS of all time. Plant-based proteins, including quinoa, chia seeds, and spirulina, are nutrient-packed options to include in your lunch bowl that offer great nutritional value and flavor that’s easy to incorporate with everything else.

Protein examples include organic and ethically raised chicken, wild caught fish, whole eggs, beans and legumes, tofu or tempeh.

Healthy Fats

Fats provide our body with a layer of protection, insulating our organs and keeping our core body temperature normal. They also help us digest fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K to keep our brains, cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin, and nails healthy, and provide the structural component to many cell membranes which are essential for cellular development.

Healthy fat examples include avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, hemp seeds. You can also cook your vegetables lightly in olive oil, grapeseed oil, sesame oil or coconut oil.

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are your gut’s BFF — they provide probiotics or the “good bacteria” that your gut needs in order to function properly. Fermentation is simply a process where a carbohydrate is converted into an acid or an alcohol. An added bonus: fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, nutritional yeast, and hummus can offer a delicious tang and counterbalance to flavors from other ingredients. If you haven’t explored adding fermented foods to your lunch bowls — you need to do so asap!

The health benefits of fermented foods are backed up by science, too. Probiotics help regular bowel movements, support more efficient digestion and better absorption of nutrients from our food, encourage higher immune function, (5) lower digestive disease prevalence, (6) aid our body in healing any gut abnormalities like “leaky gut”, (7) offer anti-anxiety and anti-depression effects, (8) and may even improve skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. (9)

Fermented food examples include kimchi or sauerkraut, homemade salad dressings, kelp/dulse granules and flakes for added iodine and minerals, nutritional yeast, homemade hummus, apple cider vinegar, fresh lemon juice.

  1. Elia, M., Folmer, P., Schlatmann, A., Goren, A., & Austin, S. (1988, June). Carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism in muscle and in the whole body after mixed meal ingestion.
  2. Slavin, J. (2013, April). Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits.
  3. Harvard Health. Fiber. (2016, April 12).
  4. A. (2015, October 19). How Can I Get Enough Protein? The Protein Myth.
  5. Parvez, S., Malik, K. A., Ah, S., & Kim, H. Y. (2006, June). Probiotics and their fermented food products are beneficial for health.
  6. Harvard Health. How to boost your immune system.
  7. Shi, L. H., Balakrishnan, K., Thiagarajah, K., Ismail, N. I., & Yin, O. S. (2016, August). Beneficial Properties of Probiotics.
  8. Bowe, W. P., & Logan, A. C. (2011, January 31). Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future?
Additional Inspiration

If you’re looking for additional inspiration on creating a nourishing lunch bowl, check out these popular recipes on NS:

How to Make a Macro Bowl
How to Create the Perfect Bowl Meal
Simple Sweet Potato and Greens Bowl
Brown Rice Miso Macro Bowl
Beauty Bowl with Hard Boiled Turmeric Eggs

The post How to Build The Ultimate Lunch Bowl For A Happy Gut appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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Let’s talk about why a happy gut microbiome helps you feel good, every day.

Maybe you’ve heard about the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut — but do you know why they matter, and what role they play in your overall health? What role do they play in preventing disease? I’m talking all about the gut microbiome today, and why you need to nurture it in order to feel your best.

What Is The Gut Microbiome?

The term “gut microbiome” refers to the bacteria, archaea, viruses and eukaryotic microbes residing in the body. Healthy adults typically have more than 1,000 species of bacteria in their gut. (1) This amounts to over 100 trillion microbial cells (2) and 3-5 pounds of bacteria in our digestive system. (3) Long story short, there are a LOT of these guys — these bacteria cells outnumber human cells 10-to-1. (2)

Bacteria begin to “colonize” or grow in the gastrointestinal tract at birth, and they remain there throughout the rest of your life. (4)

Our bodies have cultivated a mutually beneficial relationship with this bacteria — when they’re happy, you’re healthy. No surprise here — your diet greatly affects your gut flora — and you’ll want to nurture this bacteria in the gut if you want to feel good.

What Science Tells Us

These microbes help direct the traffic flow along the connection between our gut and our brain. This direct connection, known as “the gut-brain connection”, makes up two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells that line your gastrointestinal tract. The cells run all the way from your esophagus to your rectum via the vagus nerve. Emerging research continues to show us how the gut directly influences human physiology, metabolism, and immune function.


Research has shown how microbiota influence behavior and the central nervous system, which affects brain function. It’s also shown us how the microbiota can influence energy balance. (4)

Nutrient Uptake and Metabolism

The microbiome produces vitamins, synthesizes amino acids, and can carry out the biotransformation of bile. (5)

The microbiome also makes the metabolism of nondigestible carbohydrates happen. Any resistant starches, pectins, gums, and large polysaccharides, as well as unabsorbed sugars and alcohols, are metabolized thanks to the bacteria. (5) When this happens, the body recovers energy and nutrients to feed the bacteria. (6)

After digesting fiber, some bacteria can also produce short-chain fatty acids, a critical type of healthy fat for good gut health.

Immune Function

The gut microbiome “trains” your immune system by communicating with immune cells about how to respond to infection.

You'll want to nurture the 'good' bacteria in your gut in if you want to feel good, every day. Here's how —

Why You Need to Nurture Your Gut

All of these millions of microbes in your gut microbiome play a huge role in basic functions that directly affect our overall health. As I shared above, they contribute to our metabolism, they control inflammation (8), they help harvest nutrients from food, (9) they produce vitamins, (10) and they protect our bodies against viruses, bacteria, and infections by “training” our immune system, (11) and more. These functions have both a direct and indirect effect on our physiological systems (1) — aka, how we feel, every day.

A happy and healthy gut microbiome controls your gut health. It works with the intestines, it digests food, and it keeps the “bad” bacteria from sticking to the walls of your intestine.

Abnormalities in the gut microbiome have been associated with inflammatory bowel disease, colon cancer, antibiotic-associated colitis, and obesity. (6)

When the gut bacteria are deprived of the fermentable fibers that they feed on, they switch their food source to the mucus lining of your gut. Sound important? That’s because it is — the mucus lining keeps the gut wall intact and protected from infection. When this lining wears down, a host of health problems can happen, including obesity, depression and Type 2 diabetes. (12)

Emerging research continues to shed light on the gut microbiome and its role in overall health and in disease. This research is incredibly important for us to better understand how to feel better every single day, as well as to better understand how diseases develop and find ways to prevent them.

5 Ways to Nurture Your Gut Microbiome

Our diet is one of the most effective tools we can use to change the microbiota in our gut. These “good” bacteria eat fermentable fiber, which can be found in foods like wheat, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, lentils, beans, onions, and garlic. Fermentable fibers make their way down to the gut microbiota in the digestive tract because they don’t get digested by human-made enzymes. (7)

  1. Prioritize plant-based and whole foods — these fiber-rich foods are important to feed the gut bacteria and keep your digestion regular.
  2. Limit the use of antibiotics — these can kill off the infection, but they also kill the “good” bacteria while they’re at it.
  3. Explore prebiotic foods — they’re rich in the type of fiber that the bacteria in your gut feeds on. Examples include garlic, onion, dandelion greens and artichoke.
  4. Pile on the probiotic foods — they’re naturally rich in healthy probiotic bacteria and are usually found in fermented food. Examples include kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, etc.
  5. Avoid refined sugar — this sugar feeds the “bad” bacteria that can lead to obesity and other health problems, starting in the gut.
  1. Shreiner, A. B., Kao, J. Y., & Young, V. B. (2015, January). The gut microbiome in health and in disease.
  2. Guinane, C. M., & Cotter, P. D. (2013, July). Role of the gut microbiota in health and chronic gastrointestinal disease: understanding a hidden metabolic organ.
  3. NIH Human Microbiome Project  | NIH
  4. Neufeld, K., & Foster, J. A. (2009, May). Effects of gut microbiota on the brain: implications for psychiatry.
    Vyas U, Ranganathan N. Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics: gut and beyond. Gastroenterol Res Pract. 2012;2012:872716.
  5. Cummings JH, Pomare EW, Branch WJ, Naylor CP, Macfarlane GT. Short chain fatty acids in the human large intestine, portal, hepatic and venous blood. Gut. 1987;28(10):1221–1227.
  6. Koropatkin NM, Cameron EA, Martens EC. How glycan metabolism shapes the human gut microbiota. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012;10(5):323–335.
  7. Holscher, H. D. (2017). Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota.
  8. Proal, A. D., Albert, P. J., & Marshall, T. G. (2014, May). Inflammatory disease and the human microbiome.
  9. Kau, A. L., Ahern, P. P., Griffin, N. W., Goodman, A. L., & Gordon, J. I. (2011, June 15). Human nutrition, the gut microbiome, and the immune system: envisioning the future.
  10. Fujimura, K. E., Slusher, N. A., Cabana, M. D., & Lynch, S. V. (2010, April). Role of the gut microbiota in defining human health.
  11. Nikoopour, E., & Singh, B. (n.d.). Reciprocity in the microbiome and immune system interactions and its implications in disease and health.
  12. Hansson, G. C. (2012, February). Role of mucus layers in gut infection and inflammation.
Additional Reading: Let’s Hear It

I’ll admit — I’m fascinated by gut health and I geek out over all of the emerging research about it! Do you enjoy learning about this important nutrition topic, too? Share this resource with others! If you have any questions or thoughts on this post — and about the gut microbiome in general — leave a comment and continue the conversation with the entire NS Community. As always, you can also connect with us on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

The post The Gut Microbiome & Why You Need to Nurture It appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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Have you ever wondered about our sense of smell — how it works, how it impacts our ability to taste and eat healthy food?

What Are Taste Buds?

Fun fact: adults have between 2,000 and 4,000 taste buds in total. Each taste bud has anywhere between 10-50 sensory cells that are renewed once a week. The cells each have a specific ranking of a palette of tastes — some are more sensitive to sweet, sour, salty then bitter, etc.

About half of the sensory cells react to several of the five basic taste sensations, and the other half react to only one. The latter half help determine the intensity of the stimulus — i.e. how sour or salty something really tastes. With this combination, there are thousands of flavor possibilities. (1)(3)

How Do We Taste?

“Taste” is defined by several sensations. The tongue registers different taste qualities, the nose registers the smell, and they combine with texture and temperature. When all of these factors are combined, we experience food’s flavor. That’s why food doesn’t taste as flavorful when you’re sick — your stuff nose impairs your sense of smell that affects your perception of taste. (1)

Our sense of taste first happens in the mouth — and the brain, too.

First, taste buds in the mouth send food molecules to nerve endings in the roof of your nose. Next, the food molecules bind to these nerve endings — the olfactory nerve endings — that then signal “smell messages” to two cranial nerves. These nerves communicate with the gustatory cortex in the brain. (2)

The 5 Types of Taste Sensations

Research tells us that through all of the information that passes between the tongue and brain, there are at least five basic types of taste sensations: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory. (1) Naturally, a lot of recipes and dishes include a combination of several tastes — that’s what makes them so delicious!

  1. Sweet
  2. Sour
  3. Salty
  4. Bitter
  5. Savory or umami

Umami is especially interesting because it’s been added to the mix only recently — and only by western scientists. Recent studies have confirmed that we have taste receptors for this pleasant savory-ish sensation, too. Umami signals protein, which is made of amino acids and is essential for life, and it only comes from food that’s been well cooked. Many speculate that this could be an evolutionary result of our bodies protecting itself from getting sick while digesting foods. (!) Read more about this fascinating topic here.

When we describe a flavor as “hot” or “spicy”, it’s actually not a taste sensation. These are pain signals that are responding to touch and temperature sensations. (1)

The Link Between Taste, Smell & Emotion

Our senses of taste and smell are both closely linked to our emotions. These senses are connected to the involuntary nervous system — just imagine a bad taste or odor and how it can make you feel nauseous! On the flipside, appetizing flavors can be “mouthwatering” and literally increase the production of saliva and gastric juices. (1)

What Research Is Telling Us

The link between obesity, diabetes and taste function has been the subject of a lot of emerging research.

Studies suggest that obese patients may experience decreased taste sensitivity. (4) This Cornell University study found that people with dulled taste buds sought foods that were higher in sugar and calories. Their lowered sensitivity to sweetness resulted in a craving for more sugary foods. (5)

Studies suggest that obese patients may experience decreased taste sensitivity. Read more about the science of taste and what it means for health. #NutritionStripped


Additional studies suggest that sweet and bitter receptors influence endocrine functions and they play a role in your body’s control of energy balance. (5) Energy balance is especially important in its effects on everything from your metabolism to your hormonal balance and your mood. (7) It directly influences body weight regulation and food consumption. (8)

The whole point of our taste systems is to decide if our food is nutritious and safe to eat. The taste system also prepares the digestive tract to process the nutrients in our food. (8)

Taste research has taught us that sweet taste receptors, especially, play an important role in nutrient sensing, monitoring changes in energy stores, and triggering metabolic and behavioral responses to maintain energy balance. When these sweet taste receptors sense sugars, they kickstart the release of gut hormones, which help absorb sugar in the bloodstream and boost insulin secretion in the pancreas while regulating your appetite. (9) When one or more of these pathways are “off”, diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes may develop. (5)

Taste research has also taught us that the bitter taste receptors found in the gut stimulate the production of hormones that affect our appetites — ghrelin in particular. This appetite-stimulating hormone causes short-term food intake and a prolonged feeling of fullness. (9) Scientists can take findings like this to develop treatments targeted at obesity someday.

  1. PubMed Health. How does our sense of taste work? (2016, August 17).
  2. Araujo, I. E., & Simon, S. A. (2009, June). The gustatory cortex and multisensory integration.
  3. PubMed Health. Taste – National Library of Medicine.
  4. Chao, D. H., Argmann, C., Eijk, M. V., Boot, R. G., Ottenhoff, R., Roomen, C. V., . . . Aerts, J. M. (2016). Impact of obesity on taste receptor expression in extra-oral tissues: emphasis on hypothalamus and brainstem.
  5. Dulled taste may prompt more calories on a path to obesity. (2017, July 28).
  6. Lee, A. A., & Owyang, C. (2017, July). Sugars, Sweet Taste Receptors, and Brain Responses.
  7. Precision Nutrition. All About Energy Balance. (2015, November 12).
  8. Mechanism of fat taste perception: Association with diet and obesity. (2016, May 05).
  9. The Bittersweet Truth of Sweet and Bitter Taste Receptors. (2013, August 11).
Additional Resources
  1. The Bittersweet Truth of Sweet and Bitter Taste Receptors, Harvard Science In The News
  2. When It Comes to Taste, What Matters More: Our Mouths or Our Minds? Bon Appetit
  3. How Our Sense of Taste Changes As We Age, Bon Appetit
  4. Umami: why the fifth sense is so important, The Guardian
Let’s Hear It

Our ability to taste is pretty crazy, right? It’s an expansive concept with a lot of science behind it — and it’s different for each and every one of us. Continue the conversation about the science of taste and its impact on disease pathogenesis by commenting below. Connect with us on Instagram, too, by tagging @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

The post How Do We Taste? The Science Behind the Sense appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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A great gluten-free, grain-based salad that offers plant-based protein, fiber, and antioxidant-rich toppers.

This satisfying blend includes fresh arugula, almonds, raisins, sun-dried tomatoes, and olives. Quinoa is complemented by the bitterness of the arugula, the earthiness of the almonds, the sweetness of the raisins, and the tang of the sun-dried tomatoes and olives. The result, as I’m sure you’ll agree, is proof that simple flavors can come together to make a dish that tastes complex and leaves you satiated.

Quinoa, when paired with fresh greens and nourishing toppers, is a great meal that can be pulled together in a flash. When prepared on batch cooking day, it can easily be added to meals throughout the week. This plant-based protein has a neutral, versatile flavor that combines beautifully with tons of flavor-packed ingredients. As you may remember, I’ve shared different variations of quinoa salad before; the Curry Quinoa Salad, Warm Quinoa Salad, and Apricot Quinoa Salad all prove how amazing — and different — quinoa salad can be!

Are You Trying It?

Let me know when you try out this recipe — I want to see how it turns out! Submit your photo in the comments section below, and/or tag NS on Instagram @nutritionstripped and #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

The post Loaded Quinoa Salad appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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National Nutrition Month is a perfect time to practice intentional eating — here’s how.

In a day and age when it seems like there’s a national day and a national month every day for everything under the sun it can feel like a lot of “noise”. Who came up with these?! Fortunately, though, there are some important ones like this month — National Nutrition Month.®  Created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this campaign aims to educate and inform people about smart food choices and sound eating habits.

Why National Nutrition Month Matters

Naturally, this holiday is top of mind for us right now. It has some staying power, though, too. National Nutrition Month is an amazing time to connect with like-minded individuals that agree and align with your healthy eating goals and help you be your best self, every day.

It’s a time to celebrate the power of food — for its ability to nourish, comfort, fuel and heal — and appreciate its impact in our everyday lives.

Science-based research is emerging every day that continues to guide us in the direction of better health and well-being through food.

Below, I’m sharing 3 simple ways you can celebrate, too, by putting your health first while staying informed, inspired and intentional with healthy eating. The beautiful thing about habits — like intentional eating — is that you can form them on a small, subtle scale to then lead to bigger lifestyle changes that stick for life. Use this month as a time to realign your intentional eating goals to feel like your best self.

3 Ways You Can Celebrate National Nutrition Month

National Nutrition Month is the perfect time to revisit intentional eating and surround yourself informed resources and inspiring individuals/brands that help you stay motivated with healthy eating.

1. Get Informed

There’s a lot of “noise” on the internet, in the media, at the water cooler, maybe at the dinner table, about health and wellness.

It’s important to recognize that the best information is the stuff that’s backed by science and actual studies.

It’s also important to know that studies continue to emerge — stay up to date with topics as they shape what we know.

Do your research. Find the direct study and/or source. Ask questions. Learn about the topics that make a difference in how you feel! Here at NS, we always strive to deliver a modern, digestible take on emerging science and nutrition. We’re only a DM, comment, or email away — if you ever have a burning question about a specific topic, ask us. We geek out over this stuff.

A few of our favorite resources that always take an unbiased, science-based approach:

  1. Examine
  2. Healthline
  3. Harvard Health
  4. Science Daily
  5. Vox Science & Health
  6. NPR Health
  7. Scientific American
  8. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  9. Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Every week, on Wednesdays, we share the top articles about emerging studies in the health and wellness world and why it matters for health. Click here to get on the list.

2. Stay Inspired

While there may be a lot of “noise” out there, there’s also a lot of inspiring individuals and brands that are making a difference in the health and wellness world!

Now’s the perfect time to revisit who you’re following, who you’re hanging with, and who you’re turning to for inspiration.

Are they lifting you up? Are they encouraging you to be your best self? Are they providing the information and inspiration that you need right now?

A few amazing accounts worth following and sites worth visiting:

  1. Bon Appetit’s @Healthyish
  2. Greatist
  3. Well + Good — keep an eye out for my Council posts!
  4. Mindbodygreen
  5. The Chalkboard Mag
  6. Huffington Post
  7. Food Matters

Your turn — who do you follow? Who’s doing a great job inspiring others? We want to know!

3. Practice Intention

Intentional eating — that’s the end goal, right? It sounds difficult, but it’s not. It just takes practice. The best part about intentional eating is that it happens when you’re informed and inspired. When you’re staying on top of current nutrition news and surrounding yourself with good vibes and people that want you to feel your best, you can sit down at every meal with more thought, consideration, and knowledge about the food you’re putting in your body. You’re better equipped to understand hunger cues, digestive issues, food intolerances — you name it.

You can explore our Intention category here on the NS Blog to get started.

What Do You Think?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on National Nutrition Month, and if you found this simple list helpful as you tackle another new month! Is intentional eating and food’s power to nourish and heal top of mind for you, too? Leave a comment below to say hi, and to spark conversation with others from the NS community! Another good place to catch us is over on Instagram, too! @nutritionstripped #nutritionstripped

For the record, these national holidays may be a bit overdone, but I won’t promise that we’ll be quiet on National Chips & Dip Day or National Salad Month. Stay tuned!

xx McKel

The post How to Stay Informed, Inspired & Intentional with Healthy Eating appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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Cut some corners on your grocery bill — but not here. Quality matters when it comes to these 5 ingredients you shouldn’t skimp on.

You know the familiar scene; you’re at the grocery store and you’re scanning for the best deal on all of your pantry and fridge staples. As you see the prices, you steer for the mid-range or maybe lowest-priced item. Sure, you might save a few dollars on your total bill, but are you reaping the maximum health benefits? Not all ingredients are created equal, and some are nutrient-dense ingredients, specifically, are not the ones you want to skimp on.

Mostly everyone would agree that they want the most nutrients for their dollar when they’re grocery shopping. That’s why it’s important to know which foods are worth splurging on. Consider nutrient density first, and then strategize about your available options. Your body will thank you! This list below shows 5 quality ingredients you shouldn’t skimp on if you can avoid it. They’re rich in nutrients, incredibly versatile, and they all can go a long way in your dishes at home. No fillers, no preservatives, no additives; just good quality food. Let’s begin.

5 Quality Ingredients You Shouldn’t Skimp On 1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Olive oil is an incredible oil — it’s full of healthy fats, loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, and can help protect you from heart disease, (1) and obesity. (2) Studies also show its potential to decrease your risk of cancer, (3)(4)(5) diabetes, (6) and Alzheimer’s, (7) and more. It’s an easy — and delicious — ingredient to incorporate into your diet.

“Extra virgin” is the top grade of olive oil and the one to look for. The term, established by the International Olive Council and the United States Department of Agriculture, is the standard that the oil has zero defects and greater than zero fruitiness. (8) In 2011, we learned that a lot of our oil that claims to be “extra virgin” is actually not. A study by the University of California-Davis Olive Center found 69% of imported olive oil and 10% of olive oil from California that was labeled “extra virgin” did not meet the international standards for the claim. (8)

So how can you tell how pure your olive oil is? Unfortunately, you can’t tell just by looking at it — your olive oil may be cut with another processed seed oil, an older sample of extra virgin olive oil, or a lower grade. Some producers are now noting their quality with seals and logos on the products. If possible, try to purchase it directly from a local manufacturer. I realize that’s difficult sometimes, so I also suggest looking for a “100% Certified Extra Virgin” seal from California-made oils and a red circular logo with a green olive branch that was created by the North American Olive Oil Association or even a “100% Qualita Italiana” placed on authentic oils from Italy.

2. Vinegar

Vinegar has served as a way to preserve food and as a condiment in the human diet for centuries. In fact, its production dates back at least to 200 BC. (9) Thanks to its beneficial health effects, it’s also been used as a remedy in many cultures. Vinegar contains polyphenols, micronutrients, and other bioactive compounds that offer antioxidative, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, and antiobesity effects. (10)

Vinegar is an ingredient you don’t want to skimp on — it plays a big role in transforming dishes. It has the ability to play up savory flavors, balance fattiness, intensify sweetness, and even cut through saltiness.

Whether it’s rice vinegar, balsamic vinegar, red or white wine vinegar, or apple cider vinegar, it’s a great addition to your diet. The best vinegar will just include its original ingredient — wine, beer or rice — and will be fermented in water. Pure balsamic vinegar will be labeled “Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale” and has a D.O.P. stamp. This sign will guarantee that it was produced in Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy. This article is an excellent resource for all of the other types of vinegar.

3. Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a nice natural source of sweetness and can be a great “binder” in vegan desserts. It’s important to note that it is still, in fact, sugar, and should be consumed in moderation. However, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, so it can be assumed that it’s slower in raising blood sugar levels.

As we share in the Food Index, maple syrup is a delicious, thick, and sticky syrup made from the sap of a maple tree — a variety of maple trees. It has a rich brown color with a tint of red which varies from the different food grading of maple syrup. Not every syrup is actually maple. Whenever you eating “Pancake Syrups” or Breakfast Syrups”, you’re actually not getting any maple syrup! It’s usually made of high fructose corn syrup and flavored with additives to make it look and smell like the real thing.

Good quality maple syrup can come with a high price tag. Keep in mind that quality is important, though. Its expensive prices are due to the sustainability of the industry; it typically takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup!

Canada produces more than 80% of the world’s maple syrup. (11) With these variations, there are 3 grades: Canada #1, #2 Amber and #3 Dark. In the US, we grade maple syrup into either A or B. Grade A can be divided into three other categories: light, medium, or dark amber. Grade A typically has a lighter taste than Grade B. Grade B is rich, thick, and has a bold maple flavor and is typically used in baking or cooking.

4. Animal Foods like Eggs, Fish and Meat

While I like to emphasize a plant-based diet that’s rich in whole foods, animal foods like eggs, fish, and meat play their parts in delivering important nutrients and great flavor. When purchasing these ingredients, it’s important to choose high-quality, ethically-raised options. I always recommend buying locally whenever possible, and looking for antibiotic-free chicken, organic and “pastured” eggs, wild-caught fish, and grass-fed beef.

  • Chicken — Chicken is a great source of protein. High-quality chickens are humanely raised free of antibiotics, they have room to range freely, they have access to plenty of natural light, and they’re not bred to be unnaturally large. Conventional farming that doesn’t meet these high standards results in chicken that doesn’t taste as good, lacks essential nutrients, and can even lead to hormone disruption. (12)
  • Eggs — Eggs are incredibly nutrient-dense. Think all of the nutrients that it takes to make a baby chicken! That being said, there are a LOT of buying options when it comes to eggs. Keeping it short and sweet, look for “pastured” if you can. That means the chickens actually live outdoors, versus having “access” to the outside world. “Cage-free” doesn’t always mean cruelty-free.
  • Fish — Salmon and other fatty fish are great dietary sources of omega-3’s, fatty acids that have been studied to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. (13) While omega-3’s are found in every kind of fish, they’re higher in salmon because they store the oils in their muscles. (14) Farmed salmon typically contains much higher concentrations of contaminants than wild-caught salmon. (15)(16)(17)
  • Beef — Beef is another great source of protein. Organic, grass-fed meat has a healthier ratio of fatty acids and higher levels of essential nutrients. (18) These healthy fats have been associated with a lowered risk of heart disease, cancer as well as healthier cholesterol. Organic grass-fed milk and meat contain a healthier fatty acid composition, with higher amounts of omega-3 and CLA, and higher levels of essential minerals and antioxidants. When buying grass-fed beef, prioritize local farmers, and look for logos and seals like the American Grassfed seal or “100% Grassfed Certification”.

5. Nuts

Nuts can get pricey — fast. However, the raw, unsalted variations are always worth the splurge. Walnuts and almonds, especially, are great sources of heart-healthy fats, protein, and omega-3’s. Nuts easily provide nice texture, flavor and added nutrients to a variety of dishes. They make great, quick snacks on the go.

Commercially-seasoned and flavored nuts contain additives and fillers that you just don’t need! When you buy them raw and unroasted, you’re ensuring that all you’re getting is the original nut itself. It’s important to note that roasting nuts could potentially damage the nutrient density in nuts. (19)(20)

Learn more about these delicious little powerhouses and ways to enjoy them in the Food Index.

  1. Rees, Hartley, Flowers, Clarke, Hooper, Thorogood, Stranges. (August 2013). ‘Mediterranean’ dietary pattern for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease.
  2. Schröder, Marrugat, Vila, Covas, Elosua. (Dec 2004). Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet is inversely associated with body mass index and obesity in a Spanish population.
  3. Solanas, Grau, Moral, Vela, Escrich, Escrich E. (May 2010) Dietary olive oil and corn oil differentially affect experimental breast cancer through distinct modulation of the p21Ras signaling and the proliferation-apoptosis balance.
  4. Trichopoulou, A., Lagiou, P., Kuper, H., & Trichopoulos, D. (2000, September). Cancer and Mediterranean dietary traditions.
  5. Corominas-Faja, Cuyàs,  Lozano-Sánchez, Cufí, Verdura, Fernández-Arroyo, Borrás-Linares, Martin-Castillo, Martin, Lupu, Nonell-Canals, Sanchez-Martinez, Micol, Joven, Segura-Carretero, Menendez (February 2018). Extra-virgin olive oil contains a metabolo-epigenetic inhibitor of cancer stem cells.
  6. Alkhatib, Tsang, Tiss, Bahorun, Arefanian, Barake, Khadir, Tuomilehto. (Dec 2017). Foods and Lifestyle Approaches for Diabetes Prevention and Management.
  7. Miranda, Gómez-Gaete, Mennickent. (April 2017). Role of Mediterranean diet in the prevention of Alzheimer disease.
  8. Frankel, E. N.; Mailer, R. J.; Wang, S. C.; Shoemaker, C. F.; Guinard, J.-X.; Flynn, J. D.; Sturzenberger, N. D. (April 2011). Evaluation of Extra-Virgin Olive Oil Sold in California.
  9. Mas, A., Torija, M. J., García-Parrilla, M. D., & Troncoso, A. M. (2014). Acetic Acid Bacteria and the Production and Quality of Wine Vinegar.
  10. Ho, C. W., Lazim, A. M., Fazry, S., Zaki, U. K., & Lim, S. J. (2017, April 15). Varieties, production, composition and health benefits of vinegar: A review.
  11. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Government of Canada. (2016, October 25). Statistical Overview of the Canadian Maple Industry – 2015.
  12. Ahmad, S., Ahmed, I., Haider, S., Batool, Z., & Ahmed, S. B. (2017, January). Daily consumption of commercial chicken feed and meat lead to alterations in serum cholesterol and steroidal sex hormones in female rats.
  13. Bowen, K. J., Harris, W. S., & Kris-Etherton, P. M. (2016). Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease: Are There Benefits?
  14. Washington State Department of Health. Farmed Salmon Vs. Wild Salmon.
  15. Foran, J. A., Good, D. H., Carpenter, D. O., Hamilton, M. C., Knuth, B. A., & Schwager, S. J. (2005, November 01). Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon | The Journal of Nutrition | Oxford Academic.
  16. Hites, R. A., Foran, J. A., Schwager, S. J., Knuth, B. A., Hamilton, M. C., & Carpenter, D. O. (2004, October 01). Global assessment of polybrominated diphenyl ethers in farmed and wild salmon.
  17. Jacobs, M. N., Covaci, A., & Schepens, P. (2002, July 01). Investigation of selected persistent organic pollutants in farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), salmon aquaculture feed, and fish oil components of the feed.
  18. Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.
  19. Altan, A., McCarthy, K. L., Tikekar, R., McCarthy, M. J., & Nitin, N. (2011, March). Image analysis of microstructural changes in almond cotyledon as a result of processing.
  20. Alamprese, Ratti, Rossi. (May 2009). Effects of roasting conditions on hazelnut characteristics in a two-step process.
Additional Resources
  1. Where — and how — to buy top-quality extra virgin olive oil, The Washington Post
  2. The Health Benefits of Vinegar, US News Health
  3. The Best Balsamic Vinegar You Can Buy at the Grocery Store, Bon Appetit
  4. A Guide To Where Your Vinegar Comes From, And How To Use It, Huffington Post
  5. 5 Things You Need to Know About Maple Syrup, Consumer Reports
  6. What’s the Difference Between Wild-Caught and Farm-Raised Salmon? Bon Appetit
  7. Finding omega-3 fats in fish: Farmed versus wild, Harvard Health
  8. How to Buy the Best Eggs Possible, Bon Appetit
Let’s Hear It

Was this list helpful? Which foods do you always find yourself splurging on? Keep the conversation going by leaving a comment below for the rest of the community to see — and connect with NS on Instagram @nutritionstripped #nutritionstripped.

xx McKel

The post 5 Quality Ingredients You Shouldn’t Skimp On appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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High-quality ingredients like fresh vegetables, coconut oil, fresh garlic, large organic eggs, and avocado take this tried-and-true Egg in a Hole recipe to a whole new level.

I was recently on the hunt for a simple yet satisfying breakfast, and I remembered enjoying egg in a hole, or “egg in a basket” as a kid growing up. If you’re not familiar, a fried egg sits in a slice of bread. Nothing Earth-shattering, but classic nonetheless. So here’s my healthy take on it.

Eggs are the star of this recipe, and here’s why: they’re among some of the nutritious foods on the planet. It makes sense though, because all of the nutrients combined in one single egg can go on and create a baby chicken! With 6g of protein and 5g of healthy fats, trace minerals and under 100 calories per egg, it’s a solid way to start your day. For more breakfast recipes, check out the Recipes page.

The post How to Make Egg in a Hole appeared first on Nutrition Stripped.

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