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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

Happy 152nd, Canada! In keeping with the ‘Canada 152 theme’, I compiled a list of 152 nutrition tips to help you be a healthier Canadian. I then organized them into sections, in case you’re more interested in one topic more than the other.

You’ll find just about everything here:

  • weight loss,
  • low-carb ideas,
  • digestion topics,
  • nutrition and mental health
  • nutrition and beauty,
  • nutrition and drinks
  • sugar,
  • vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • and a great deal of miscellany

So, without further ado, here they are:

152 Nutrition Tips: Nutrition, Weight loss and Carbs

1. Low-carb lunch idea for weight-loss: wrap the contents of a sandwich in a lettuce or cabbage leaf instead of bread.

2. Hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid) contributes to the difficulty of losing weight.

3. With age, we all need to change our eating habits. We cannot continue to eat like we did in our youth because our metabolism changes.

4. A good way to start losing weight is to cut back on the portion size of a given food, instead of completely cutting it out of your diet.

5. Use a smaller plate to reduce portion sizes. You’ll still get the same satisfaction of finishing a full plate without the extra calories.

6. Try eating sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. The former contain fewer calories, fewer carbs and a lower glycemic index.

7. Cookie-cutter diets don’t work on certain people because our bodies are made differently. We respond differently to foods. We have different sensitivities. Therefore, we may require a different approach.

8. The keto diet carries potential risks, as per Harvard Health, and these include: kidney stones, increased levels of uric acid and various nutrient-deficiencies.

9. Share treats and less healthy indulgences such as cake to cut your intake in half, reducing sugar and empty calories while still being able to indulge.

10. See a nutritionist to learn about proper food portions and proportions, to get support and accountability and to help you achieve overall health and wellness. Accountability is often the difference maker.

11. Most cereal is high in sugar and contributes to weight gain. The few nutrients and vitamins are negated by the drawbacks.

12. Learn how to read food labels properly: serving sizes, sugar content, carbohydrates portions, etc. It’ll go a long way in helping you stay healthy and lean.

13. When eating dinner, stop eating for 20 minutes to see if you’re full, before eating more. It takes your body time to register the feeling of being sated.

14. Keep a log of the food you eat, for your yourself and for your nutritionist. Actually seeing the food you’re eating written out before you can lead to self-reflection, which can be an impetus for change.

15. Eat chicken breast, which is lean and high in protein; it also has zero carbohydrates—making it a great weight loss food.

16. Use extra-virgin olive oil along with apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar as salad dressing. They’re much healthier alternatives to store-bought salad dressing and, in turn, great for weight loss.

17. There are many reasons why people gain weight: genetics, unhealthy eating habits developed as a child, medical conditions, stress, anxiety, et al. How can any cookie-cutter diet address these facets?

18. Do not eat late in the evening, especially just before going to sleep, because your body cannot burn off the calories like it would via normal bodily functions when awake.

19. People often struggle with losing weight because their portion sizes are just too large. Reduce.

20. To lose weight, eat fewer carbs. And when you eat carbs, eat the right ones. Avoid refined carbs.

21. Movie popcorn with butter can be a calorie bomb, depending on the quantity. Avoid, if weight loss is your goal. Eat Skinny Pop instead.

22. Exercise does not give you a free ticket to eat unhealthy food because the long-term cumulative harm is difficult, if not impossible, to reverse.

23. Is pepperoni your favourite pizza topping? Pepperoni contains 500 calories per 100 g. Eat rarely, if at all.

24. To reduce carbohydrates by 50 percent eat open-faced sandwiches.

25. Dieting implies something temporary, a phase. A more healthy, sustainable lifestyle is what you should seek.

26. Looking to reduce your carbohydrates intake? Try a rice cake instead of bread.

27. Beware of unsuspected highly caloric foods masquerading as healthy ones. Caesar salad is one such food. All that thick dressing, croutons, cheese and bacon will hit you above the belt.

28. When trying to lose weight, eat a healthy snack before going to dinner or a party. This way you’re more likely to eat less while there. 

Nutrition and Digestion

29. Lower your intake of dairy products as they can inflame your system. This is particularly important for those who experience digestive distress.

30. Eat oatmeal in the morning because it is high in fibre and takes longer to digest. This keeps you full for longer, allowing you to resist drive-through pit stops on the way to work.

31. Raw onions and garlic can be hard to digest for some people. 

32. Make sure you take a high-quality probiotic daily to increase and/or maintain beneficial bacteria in the gut. When Should You Take Probiotics

33. Limit the consumption of gluten if plagued by digestive problems because it can act as an inflammatory agent.

34. Avoid whey if you have a sensitivity to dairy. It can cause digestive discomfort for some.

35. Fermented foods can help to ensure a balance in your digestive system through the introduction of good bacteria.

36. Try gluten-free breads—they’re now much better-tasting than they used to be.

37. Lend your gut a hand and eat kimchi—for its good bacteria.

38. Eat slowly to help digestion.

39. Corn contains cellulose, which is hard to digest.

40. Probiotics can replenish good bacteria after a round of antibiotics.

41. Oil of oregano has been shown to kill bad bacteria in the gut.

42. Foods such as tomatoes, oranges and lemons have been found to increase acid reflux.

43. Because most processed foods lack fibre for proper digestion, they can cause constipation.

44. Beans are high in protein and fibre, but contain a sugar called oligosaccharide that is hard to digest, causing gas.

45. Goat cheese is better for human digestion than cow cheese.

46. Fermented sauerkraut is incredibly good for you: it carries probiotics and contains various vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Nutrition and Mental Health

47. Poultry contains an amino acid called tyrosine, which allows the human body to cope with stress more effectively.

48. Brazil nuts contain selenium, which combats anxiety, tiredness and irritability.

49. Take magnesium before going to bed: it keeps blood pressure normal, it’s great for bone health, it may help relieve premenstrual symptoms, anxiety and migraines. Do you need any other reasons to take it? Please seek the help of a qualified health practitioner to help you select the right product.

50. Vitamin D has been shown to regulate mood and fight depression.

51. Take a high-quality Vitamin D, especially in the fall and winter, to help beat seasonal affective disorder.

52. Nutrient deficiency can lead to depression.

Nutrition and Beauty

53. Beta carotene-rich foods such as carrots and sweet potatoes can help your skin complexion. Nutrition and beauty go hand-in-hand.

54. Consume zinc because its deficiency impairs the immune system, can result in acne and the thinning of hair.

55. To reduce cellulite: reduce salt because it causes water retention, drink water to keep the connective tissue strong, cut back sugar because it reduces collagen production and consume Vitamin C-rich foods.

56. Food sensitivities can cause skin conditions such as acne, eczema and dermatitis.

57. A portion of protein ranges from the size of your palm to your full open hand. Common allergenic foods such as milk, soy, sulphites, tree nuts, gluten and others can contribute to dark circles under your eyes. Iron deficiency can do as well.

Nutrition and Drinks

58. Celebrate Canada 152 with a glass of dry white wine because white wine tends to be low in sugar. How to choose wine and drink it without gaining weight

59. Use Stevia, a natural sweetener, to sweeten coffee because it has zero calories and zero carbs. It’s also great for weight loss and has a non-glycemic response.

60. Avoid the Canadian summer favourite: iced-cappuccinos. 40 percent of its calories are from fat.

61. Drink plenty of water daily for hydration, to keep you full and to avoid drinking fewer unhealthy beverages.

62. A 12-ounce (355 ml) Margarita can pack 600+ calories. 

63. Drink a glass of unsweetened almond milk or unsweetened coconut milk instead of regular milk—a guaranteed way of avoiding hormones and antibiotics. It’s also easier on the digestive system.

64. Down a glass of green supplement every morning to top up your vitamin, mineral and nutrient intake. Your body will thank you.

65. Add a slice of lemon to your water to improve taste while avoiding sugar-laden sodas and juices.

66. If you feel you must drink, drink vodka (in moderation, of course) to limit the carbohydrate and calorie intake, and help with weight loss. How to make healthier alcohol selections

67. Never buy energy drinks. They are enormous sugar-bombs. Unless you just ran a marathon and/or are severely dehydrated, give these a pass. Try a healthy electrolyte drink instead.

68. Teach your kids to drink water instead of juice boxes. Why? The vast majority of juice and drink boxes just carry too much sugar.

69. Try substituting regular milk for unsweetened almond or coconut milk in your coffee because the former can cause digestive distress while the latter two are lower in fat.

70. Drink Pukka Detox tea to aid digestion.

71. Avoid coolers, sweet wines and heavy cocktails as they are very high in calories and loaded with spoonfuls of sugar. These often sabotage otherwise healthy eating habits.

72. Drink beer… sparingly… because it is highly caloric. The beer belly is not a myth. A good rule of thumb to follow: the higher the alcohol content, the higher the calorie count.

73. Dehydration decreases energy levels, can cause headaches and impair brain function.

74. If trying to reduce sugar intake, beware of most apple and orange juices because they often teem with sugar.

75. Drink a wine spritzer with soda or Perrier instead of cocktails.

76. Keep in mind that a 5-ounce glass of wine contains 150 calories, on average. Many restaurants and bars serve larger glasses.

77. You don’t need all that Gatorade after most workouts. Don’t believe the ads. The sugar found in it will be much more harmful than the benefit of replenishing electrolytes.

78. Drinking sufficient water helps to maintain regular bowel movements and prevents constipation.

Nutrition and Sugar

79. Many condiments, dressings and sauces contain sugar. While these small amounts may seem insignificant, they add up fast. Let the buyer beware!

80. Sleep deficiency can contribute to sugar cravings, and in turn, weight gain.

81. Reduce your consumption of refined sugar and you shall reap benefits: no raised insulin level, no energy rollercoasters, fewer calories and less belly fat, amongst others.

82. Avoid or limit Splenda, an artificial sweetener. Try Sweet Leaf Stevia instead.

83. Trying to beat the sugar craving? Try almond butter on a date, or a healthier alternative, almond butter on an apple slice.

84. Eat a low-sugar, low-carbohydrate protein bar as a snack instead of a muffin or cookie.

85. Dried fruit is very high in sugar. Use sparingly in your salads.

86. Ditch sugar-laden granola bars. Replace with a low-sugar protein bar.

87. Don’t feed processed fruit snacks to your kids: they’re brimming with sugar and/or corn syrup, additives and artificial flavours. Don’t get fooled by the claims of added vitamins.

Nutrition, Vitamins, Minerals and Nutrients

88. Eat dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa value) as it contains iron, magnesium, manganese and fibre.

89. Add chia seeds to your meals—for energy, fibre and omega-3 fatty acids.

90. Add hemp seeds to your meals—for protein.

91. Consume flax seeds—for fibre, which keeps you full for longer.

92. Tryptophan, found in bananas, raises serotonin levels, helping people relax.

93. Take a lysine supplement to help prevent cold sores.

94. Drink green tea for its anti-oxidative properties.

95. Calcium-rich snack: dried fig with tahini.

96. Eat eggs: contain many nutrients, high-quality protein, low in calories. Read more about eggs

97. Don’t use bleached flour because it’s treated with chemicals and carries fewer nutrients than unbleached flour.

98. Add quinoa to your meals because it has protein, fibre, magnesium, potassium, manganese and more. It’s also gluten-free and versatile.

99. Consume lemons: they have an alkaline effect on the body and contain Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6, folate, niacin, et al.

100. Eat broccoli for calcium, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, fibre, Vitamin B6 and many others.

101. Dip your vegetables in hummus, albeit sparingly, to improve the taste. Hummus contains protein, fibre, iron and B Vitamins.

102. Both blueberries and raspberries are antioxidant in nature.

103. Consume salmon, sardines, anchovy, tuna, mackerel and herring because they contain omega-3s.

104. You can obtain sufficient calcium from leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, watercress and kale.

105. Consume Vitamin C-rich foods such as red peppers, oranges, kiwi, papaya, guava and broccoli.

106. Eat pumpkin seeds for zinc and protein.

107. Consume almonds regularly for calcium and essential fats.

108. Eat vegetables because they’re full of water, fibre and antioxidants. They’re also low in calories and carbohydrates. How to introduce more vegetables into your diet

109. Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids instead of the long-chain ones, which is one of the reasons it is recommended by many health practitioners.

110. Take fish oil daily.

111. White and red beans contain calcium—perfect for those who cannot consume dairy products. Can you get enough calcium from non-dairy foods?

112. Shitake mushrooms have antioxidant properties.

113. Eat whole grains because they’re much lower in sugar and full of fibre.

114. Consume bell peppers because they contain more Vitamin C than most fruits and vegetables.

115. Eat garlic for its anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. 

116. Garlic has been shown to boost the immune system as well.

117. Eat avocados because they contain good fats along with Vitamins E and C.

118. Studies show that Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells, which are instrumental in fighting infections.

119. Raw honey acts an antioxidant and has antimicrobial powers.

120. Kale contains Vitamins A, C and K—more than the 100% of the recommended daily value.

121. Eat oranges for potassium and B vitamins.

122. Eliminating fat altogether is a mistake. Our bodies need good fats to maintain daily functions.

123. Good fats examples: eggs, avocados, fatty fish, nuts and seeds, extra-virgin olive oil.

124. Beware of sodium found in canned foods. It can reach astronomical levels.

125. Avoid fried food because it is highly caloric and contains trans fats.

126. Choose light over dark turkey meat because it contains less saturated fat.

Nutrition: Miscellaneous

127. When cooked, chicken releases an amino acid called cysteine, which fights congestion and mucus. Chicken noodle soup is indeed beneficial when you’re sick.

128. Prep meal staples on the weekend and just heat them up during the week. This way you’ll avoid unhealthy food impulse purchases.

129. Chew gum that contains xylitol, a natural sweetener. Xylitol does not allow bacteria to attach to the teeth.

130. Spinach contains iron, an energy booster.

131. Use a pan to heat up your food instead of a microwave. A little more time-consuming but much better for you.

132. Nuts and seeds are high-energy snacks that contain good fats.

133. Educate yourself on current nutrition, even just a little. A little pro-action can go a long way as a preventative measure.

134. Teach your kids the importance of nutrition because your current eating habits will have a lasting impact on those of your children. Help your children grow up healthy. Learn more.

135. Don’t feed pre-packed lunches with a peelable lid to your kids because they’re loaded with preservatives and sodium.

136. Avoid hydrogenated oil because it is a trans fat, which raises bad cholesterol.

137. Cook at home, so you know exactly what goes into your food.

138. Cleanse your body after the holiday season indulgences to remove toxins, chemicals and pollutants, and to boost energy.

139. Generally speaking, the greener the vegetable, the healthier.

140. Eating vegetables throughout the day helps to regulate blood sugar level.

141. Avoid foods with a high glycemic index to keep blood sugar level in check.

142. Limit the consumption of soybean products as some studies show they contain estrogens, which may upset hormones.

143. Healthy snack: cucumber slices and hummus.

144. Avoid bottled salad dressing because it’s often high in sodium, additives, preservatives, fat and sugar.

145. Take an occasional bite out of a high-quality dark chocolate to prevent fatigue. Chocolate contains iron and magnesium.

146. A great way to spruce up eggs is to add salsa or avocado.

147. Complex carbohydrates provide constant energy without spiking your blood sugar.

148. Almond butter is a healthier, and arguably better-tasting, alternative to peanut butter.

149. Eating healthy food is not an expensive proposition when we think of all the money we spend on to-go coffee, take-out food and restaurants. We can’t use that as an excuse to buy pre-made, processed, unhealthy food.

150. Steaming vegetables retains much of the nutrient content.

151. Zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash are two great low-carb alternatives to regular pasta.

152. Cauliflower rice can be used in place of regular rice. It’s actually quite good. Give it a try!

For more in-depth explanations and extra tips, visit my blog or subscribe to JM Nutrition Latest, a form of newsletter. 

Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.

The post Canada 152: Nutritionist Offers 152 Nutrition Tips appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

Many cultures around the world are steeped in alcohol, so to speak. None more so than ours, the western culture.

The French and the Italians have their wine, the Scottish and Irish are known for whisky (or whiskey in the latter case), the Poles and the Russians pride themselves on their vodka, while the Germans and the Czechs form the quintessential lands of beer. We, North Americans, have our own interesting medley as have inherited many of our customs, alcohol included, from these old world cultures and combined them with new ones. The fact is that for hundreds of years we have been consuming alcohol in vast quantities without few, if any, misgivings. In recent years, however, things are taking a new turn.

As health consciousness and general public awareness of the side effects of alcohol use grow, people are increasingly looking to find ways to still be able to enjoy alcohol without having to sacrifice their health and wellness goals.  

Is there healthy alcohol?

In short, yes. There is healthier alcohol.

According to a recent global study, moderate alcohol consumption may protect against heart disease. With this consumption, however, come other risks of which the habitual drinker must be aware. Read more.

For the most of us it’s difficult or near impossible to give up alcohol altogether, especially when we grew up in a culture where alcohol is at the forefront of social gatherings and celebrations.

So for those who are not ready to kick the alcohol habit for good, this guide is for you.

Alcohol can be consumed and enjoyed in moderate amounts at least without a disregard for your weight goals or caloric intake. This can be accomplished by simply following some basic rules.

How to choose healthier alcohol Rule 1: Drink it Neat  

If you can handle the heat, drink alcohol neat (straight) or on the rocks, and you will no doubt ingest fewer calories and less sugar.

On average, an ounce of whisky, vodka, tequila or gin, have 70 calories. That’s significantly lower than most beer and mixed drinks.

Many cocktails or mixed drinks have too many calories to form a part of a wholesome and healthy diet.

For a real-life example, let’s take a look at a margarita.

A 12-ounce (355 ml) margarita can pack several hundred calories!

Three or four of these frosty Mexican goodies in one sitting and you have just ingested a whole day worth of calories, provided you’re total daily calories intake hovers around 1800-2000 calories. It’s staggering when you look at in this way. 

Rule 2: Avoid mixers  

Avoid mixers, which are often loaded with sugar, teeming with calories and packed with additives that should not find their way into the diet of someone who has good health on the mind.

Sure, mixers enhance the taste of your chosen ‘poison’, but they will enhance your waistline, too, if you’re not careful.

To bring this point home let’s consider your average pina colada mixer:

A 3 fl. oz. (90 ml) serving of pina colada mix can contain anywhere from 150-200 calories and 25 grams of sugar. And let’s be honest, when is the last time you had a 90-ml glass of pina colada?

Let’s do some math now.

A small glass will usually carry 250 ml of liquid. If you were to fill it up with pina colada mix, it would contain 420-550 calories and 69 grams of sugar. And what’s worse, we haven’t even added the alcohol yet.

With or without alcohol, this coconut-pineapple tropical delicacy punches well above its weight in calories and sugar, and therefore, should be consumed in very small amounts and only on the rare occasion.

Rule 3: Start with vodka 

Moving on from what you should avoid drinking to what you should turn to instead, if weight maintenance is a priority.

In this case, vodka should be one of your first go-to drinks, followed by gin, rye whiskey, scotch, bourbon, tequila and brandy.

Why turn to these first?

Simply put, they carry a much lower caloric load than beer, cocktails or coolers. If you find that hard liquor just too strong to be consumed on its own, try adding some water or ice to dilute the bite.

You can also try adding some club soda because it has no sugar and zero calories. 

Rule 4: Red, red wine  

Red wine is your bff, if you’d like to indulge in a little alcohol while keeping one eye on your health.

Not only does wine carry iron, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants, it also contains less sugar than some sweet white wines, rendering it the more healthy option.

With that said, low-sugar white wines exist, so check the sugar content on the liquor store price labels and choose accordingly.

Unfortunately, red wine does contain sulphites and tannins, so consume sparingly if you’re prone to tannin-induced headaches.

As a general guideline, use this rule: the more dry the wine, the less sugar it contains.

Dry red wines to consider: 

  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Shiraz
  • Montepulciano
  • Rioja
  • Cotes du Rhone
  • Beaujolais
  • Bordeaux
  • or one of my favourites, Pinot Noir
Rule 5: White wine 

If you don’t like to drink red wine, turn to white. White wines can be delicious and refreshing on a hot summer day or as an aperitif.

Be wary of the ones brimming with sugar.

Remember, the more dry the wine, the less sugar it contains.

Low-sugar white wine choices: 

  • Chardonnay
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Verdejo
  • Muscadet
  • Vermentino
  • Pinot Grigio
  • Champagne and Prosecco are great choices as well

Another option is to mix white wine with sparkling mineral water to make a wine spritzer, which will reduce the sugar content.

Many liquor stores now list sugar content, along with other information, on the price tag or label.

As a general guideline, choose dry white wines with 5 grams of sugar per litre or less, and keep your distance from those that contain more than 10 grams.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the higher the alcohol content of the wine, the higher the calorie count. Ideally, select wines that have an ABV of 9-12%.

Here’s a more detailed look at both, red and white wine: How To Choose Wine and Drink It Without Gaining Weight

Rule 6: Avoid Red Bull and soda 

Stay away from Red Bull, sodas such as Coke, Sprite or Ginger Ale, and Tonic Water as mixers for your cocktails. 

All of these pack sugar by the spoonful, which will make it difficult to keep the weight down. 

If you must use a mixer, turn to soda water or club soda—a much healthier alternative as it contains no sugar.

Related: How to Lose Weight the Right Way, the Healthy Way

Rule 7: Make it clear  

The clearer the liquor, the better for your health. Simple. Vodka rules the roost here. Gin can also be considered. 

Rule 8: Keep it simple and classic  

Try a Martini, classic, a la James Bond. Avoid Martinis with all sorts of sweet goodies, syrups or mixes to ward off those extra calories.

Now you can rest easy, hit the town, pull up a stool, order a delicious beverage and let the good times roll… in a more reasonably healthy, guilt-free way, of course.

Bottoms up! 

Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog. 

The post How to Make Healthier Alcohol Selections appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

Can you get enough calcium from non-dairy foods?

Absolutely. There are many foods that, when consumed regularly, will provide enough calcium for those who do not eat dairy products.

Let’s take a closer look.

Why is calcium important?

Most of us already know that calcium is an essential mineral that keeps our bones strong and healthy, preventing osteoporosis. We’ve heard it all our lives.

But calcium has many other additional benefits:

  • It has been found to help control high blood pressure.
  • It may reduce the symptoms associated with PMS. Pay heed, ladies.
  • It assists in maintaining dental health.
  • There is ample evidence that it helps prevent obesity.
  • It likely prevents certain cancers.

Read more about calcium from Mayo Clinic

Which foods contain calcium?

The obvious answer is dairy products, which most people have come to know. But that’s not the only place.

So how do people who are lactose intolerant or those with other digestive problems obtain it?

What about those who just dislike the taste of milk products?

And what about those who feel that dairy products contain too many antibiotics and are loaded with too many hormones nowadays to be consumed?

Can these people get enough of this important mineral from non-dairy foods?

In short, yes.

Calcium-rich foods:

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens, watercress and kale all contain a good deal of calcium.

The beauty of these is that you can eat them throughout the day to ensure adequate intake of the mineral. Spinach can be tossed into an omelet or a sandwich, kale can be eaten in chip form or in a salad, and collard greens can be consumed as a side at dinner.

Eating these vegetables regularly can certainly top that calcium if you’re running low. 

Fish and Seafood

Not all fish are created equal in terms of calcium content. Certain fish and seafood contain significant amounts and cannot be ignored if dairy is to be avoided.

What are these?

Specifically, look into eating sardines, salmon and even anchovies.

Sardines can be added in small amounts to salads and anchovies can be sprinkled on a pizza. Salmon can stand on its own as the main protein source in a meal, but it can be just as easily added to salads.


Besides being high in protein, beans (white or red) are a very good source of calcium for those who do not consume dairy products. It doesn’t matter if these are cooked, baked or just eaten straight out of a can.

In addition, you can add beans to burritos, tacos or tostadas. Alternately, you can eat them with eggs for breakfast, in chilli or even add them to salads. These all are great ways to inject a little of this important mineral into your daily consumption.

Tahini or Sesame Seed Butter

You can usually find tahini or sesame seed butter in the health food section at the grocery store, along with almond, cashew and other nut butters, which are all very beneficial in numerous ways.

Specifically, tahini contains a good deal of calcium. Tahini can be spread on a slice of bread, waffle, rice cake or even eaten with a spoon.

Non-Dairy Milk

Non-dairy milk such as almond, coconut or cashew, all contain a high amount of calcium without any of the drawbacks of dairy (read: no chance of antibiotics and hormones, ever–if you’re concerned).

Just a word of advice: buy the unsweetened ones to limit the intake of sugar. The original or vanilla are both very good.

You can add these into your coffee instead of regular milk, or use them in a protein shake or smoothie

Dried Figs

If you have a sweet tooth and are looking to intake some calcium at the same time, look no further than dried figs. Dip these in some almond or tahini butter, and you have a healthy, delicious and calcium-rich snack.


Almonds also contain calcium, although in smaller amounts. These are a high-energy and high-nutrient snack, so I strongly encourage you to consume regularly as part of a healthy ‘diet’.

Just keep in mind that almonds have a reasonably high fat content, so don’t overdo it. You can just grab a handful of these when your energy levels drop because they provide a boost fast and well.

Bok Choy

Bok what? For those of who haven’t heard of bok choy, it’s a Chinese cabbage. It’s very easy to cook, delicious and high in calcium.

Add olive oil and a bit of garlic, and you’ve just concocted a high-punching, nutritious meal. It’s a win-win.


Besides being a great source of Vitamin C, broccoli contains a fair amount of calcium as well. As a result, it should be eaten regularly, particularly if you’re short of the mentioned vitamin or mineral.

Introducing broccoli to your meals could not be simpler. You can throw it in a stir-fry, eat it steamed or raw, or toss it in a salad, and reap the wonderful benefits of this powerful vegetable.


Another reason to indulge in Japanese food, my sushi lovers. Seaweed does contain a good amount of calcium. If consumed regularly and in combination with the other mentioned foods, you can rest assured that you’re getting enough calcium without having to resort to dairy products.

Honorable mention: Oranges

We all know that an orange is Vitamin C-rich, but what is less known is that this omnipresent fruit contains a good amount of calcium as well. Don’t overlook it if your calcium levels are low.

The best way to consume: slice, dice and eat them fresh.


These are the most common foods that are high in calcium. The list is by no means complete because calcium is found in many other foods, though the amount varies greatly.

If you regularly eat a wide array of fruit, vegetables and seeds, you are no doubt consuming all the calcium your body needs. Don’t let anyone tell you that you need dairy to do so.

Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.

The post Can You Get Enough Calcium From Non-Dairy Foods? appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

Although it’s immensely important to keep one’s immune system in optimum condition, it’s just as important to do it in a way that is natural, least intrusive and with minimal negative side effects.

But before you rush to the drug store or the doctor in search of a quick-fix to combat various viruses and bacteria-based illnesses, consider more natural ways to boost your immune system.

Exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, limiting alcohol and drug consumption can go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.

Developing sustained healthy eating habits should also be a priority. Studies show that regularly consuming certain foods can potentially strengthen the immune system.

Doing so can act as an effective preventative measure while improving your overall health and wellness.  

Foods that can boost your immune system:


Garlic is thought to boost the immune system and help fight infections as it contains allicin.

Eat raw garlic often, especially during the cold and flu season. Remember, raw garlic is much more effective because it loses some of its powerful benefits, when cooked.

Find out why this is so here.  

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits contain Vitamin C, and there is solid evidence that Vitamin C increases the production and function of white blood cells (Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University), which are instrumental in killing off bacteria and fighting infections.

More on Vitamin C a little later.


Probiotics are highly recommended as a means of boosting the immune system because many people, including a number of my clients, have experienced positive results after taking probiotics.

According to Harvard Health, probiotics can improve immune function, protect against hostile bacteria, and improve digestion and absorption of food and nutrients.

How do they do that?

Probiotics deliver good bacteria to a person’s gut. Good bacteria need to outnumber bad bacteria for a person’s immune system to be in top notch shape. If the immune system is strong and resilient, a person is less likely to be taken down by an illness. 

Probiotics: What Are They? Why Should I Take Them?

Find out what experts say is the best time to take probiotics.

Green Tea

So why choose green tea over black tea, for example?

Simply put, green tea is not processed like black tea, retaining protective polyphenols (BBC).

These green tea polyphenols are flavonoids, which act as antioxidants, helping you to cleanse those unwanted toxins out of your system.

Green tea also has the effect of boosting energy–an added bonus when you feel run down or under the weather.

Boil some hot water, toss a tea bag in a cup and voila. What more can you ask for?


Honey is hugely beneficial.

One, it acts as an antioxidant.

Two, it has antimicrobial powers, so it helps to fight infections and bacteria.

Consume in moderation, however, as honey does raise the blood sugar level. Raw honey is best, particularly Manuka honey.  

Oil of Oregano

This one is a no-brainer as it is widely consumed today.

Oil of oregano has been shown to kill some of the bad bacteria in the gut, helping the digestive system, and subsequently, the immune system.

Use oil of oregano in liquid form over capsules as it is more effective.

Chicken Soup

Our mothers and their mothers were right: chicken soup can make people feel better when under the weather.

There is a good reason why we’ve been told to eat chicken soup when we are ill.

When chicken is cooked, it releases an amino acid called cysteine. Cysteine has been shown to help the respiratory system by fighting congestion and mucus, the latter of which carries bacteria.

Zinc Supplement

Zinc is integral in the production of white blood cells, which are a defence mechanism against various pathogens.

Zinc makes this possible. Speak to a qualified health practitioner regarding zinc type and dosage as too much can depress the immune system.

You can also consume foods that are high in zinc:

  • oysters
  • beef
  • baked beans
  • dark chicken meat
  • pumpkin seeds
  • cashews
  • chickpeas
  • and others

More on the benefits of zinc from WebMD.


Certain mushrooms, such as Shiitake, have anti-oxidative properties, which boost the immune system. 

Amongst their many benefits, mushrooms have been shown to activate white blood cells that fight various invading agents.

Discover more on Shiitake mushrooms and other foods that boost the immune system: Eat This, Not That!

Bell Peppers

Bell peppers contain a great deal of Vitamin C, more than most fruits and vegetables.

Load up on these by frequently adding them to your salads, and let the Vitamin C do what it does: protect your immune system.

Vitamin C is also found in moderate to high amounts many other foods.

Foods high in Vitamin C:
  • broccoli
  • green peppers
  • oranges
  • kiwi
  • guava
  • lychee
  • grapefruit
  • strawberries
  • pineapple
  • cantaloupe
  • mango
  • avocado
  • red cabbage
  • Brussels sprouts
  • snow peas
  • cabbage
  • rapini
  • white potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
  • asparagus
  • kale
  • and others

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi (Korean cabbage–spicy and delicious) are enzyme-rich and contain good bacteria, which help to achieve a balance in your digestive system. This all-important balance can boost immunity over time.

Blueberries and Raspberries

Both of these are known the world over for their anti-oxidative nature, which is badly needed when a person is sick.

In addition, raspberries and blueberries contain Vitamins C and K, calcium, manganese as well as iron. Many other nutrients and vitamins are found in smaller amounts in both of these tiny yet powerful fruits–many of which help strengthen the immune system.

Eat these in a bowl along with other fruit, perhaps in a low- or no-sugar yogurt, sprinkle with cinnamon and you have a delicious and healthy snack. Alternately, you can add them to your morning waffles or bowl of oatmeal to encourage regular consumption. 

Fatty Fish

According to Science Daily and many other extensive studies, fish oil has been found to reduce inflammation.

In addition, recent findings indicate that the consumption of fish oil can help those individuals whose immune systems are compromised.

Consume fish such as mackerel, sardines and Pacific salmon to get your dose.

You can also purchase a fish oil supplement, if you’re not fond of eating fish. Make sure to consult a qualified health practitioner before you do so.

Other Foods

I also recommend consuming other nutrient- and vitamin-rich foods that can certainly protect and enhance the immune system for varying reasons:

  • oysters
  • nuts (Brazil, almonds)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • kiwi
  • oranges
  • low- or no-sugar yogurt
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • turmeric (for curcumin)
  • sweet potatoes
  • carrots


These simple additions to your daily meals can go a long way in helping boost the immune system. Make sure you eat these foods before, during and out of the flu season to reap their many benefits.

In addition, don’t forget to get adequate sleep, limit stress, don’t run yourself down, exercise and eat healthy.

Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.

The post Foods That Help Boost the Immune System appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition

The dark ages

There was a time when I wasn’t a nutritionist. In fact, I wasn’t even all that concerned with nutrition, health or wellness. I ate typical traditional Italian and Canadian food because that’s what everyone around me did. Pasta, pizza, French fries, burgers, cookies and ice-cream were often on the menu. Don’t get me wrong, the food was tasty, but not very healthy. And neither was I.

Problems appear

As I got older, I felt worse. I experienced bouts of debilitating digestive problems, crippling pain, uncomfortable bloating and gas and constant lethargy. Although I might’ve gained a couple of pounds here and there, I was lucky to avoid what some would call a ‘weight problem‘.

As the years piled on, one thing was certain: my situation wasn’t getting any better. In fact, I felt worse. Much worse.

I still vividly recall feeling irritable, exasperated and hopeless. I even started to lose interest in many things I enjoyed previously.

My coping strategies weren’t great either. I continued to eat generally unhealthy food in portions that were much too large. A big mistake.

Doctor visits begin

At one point things got so bad that I decided to see a doctor, then another, and then a few more. I hoped to get some answers.

But to no avail.

The vast majority of the diagnoses and remedies were just band-aid solutions, many of which had absolutely no positive impact on how I felt.

I was so frustrated at this point that I began to lose faith in our ‘great’ Canadian health care system.

Finally, I reached a breaking point: the bottom, as they say.

Enough is enough

One day, probably out of sheer desperation, I got enough resolve and decided to take the matter into my own hands. I decided to try to find a solution.

The task before me looked formidable. I had no idea where to start and it took me a few tries to do so. But eventually I managed.

I started with extensive research into nutrition, health and wellness in general. The more I read, the more curious I became about the effect that nutrition has on our bodies.

Much of what I had discovered fascinated me, so I took it a step further.


I experimented, tried different natural remedies, ate more healthily and so on. I tried to make what I felt were significant changes.

In addition, I consulted with other health practitioners such as naturopaths and nutritionists, picking their brains, trying to get as much insight as I could.

I also attempted various diets, a clean eating regimen, organic foods, wellness programs and fitness routines. In fact, there wasn’t much I didn’t try.

My yellow brick road

Over the coming months, and much to my surprise, I felt a little better. Some of those dreadful symptoms I described earlier subsided, at least in part.

I discovered that a wholesome, balanced, nutritionally-sound diet can actually make you feel better. It wasn’t just an old wives’ tale.

I also reached the conclusion that many of the fad diets I tried so eagerly and with so much hope did little but over-promise and under-deliver. They were rarely sustainable and led to the deprivation of some vital nutrients. Besides, I just didn’t feel right when dieting.

This was an important finding, one that would form the basis for my nutrition counseling practice. To this day, I encourage people to avoid diets and their temporary nature, focusing on more sustainable healthy eating habits.

At this point I felt I found my yellow brick road, for the lack of a less cliche phrase. I had a hunch that if I stayed the course it would lead to good things.

I even regained hope.

Hmmm… maybe I should do this for a living

With a renewed sense of enthusiasm, it was at this critical point that I first thought of actually devoting my life to nutrition.

I felt that my prolonged struggle happened for a reason. It had to happen, I reasoned. I had to struggle to overcome (at least in part) the many obstacles for this to become my calling, my vocation. I think this is something very important. I feel that passion is in all of us, waiting to be discovered.

I also thought that if I overcame the odds and felt better, then perhaps others might too.

As a result, I became convinced that I had to become a nutritionist and counselor. 

Although the idea was exciting, I truly had no idea how to make it happen. I was filled with doubt and uncertainty about whether or not I could even do it.

But something inside me pushed me to try nonetheless. 

Much to the surprise of my friends and family, I made the decision to go back to school and get my registered holistic nutritionist certification.

Registered holistic nutritionist

A couple of years later, I obtained my degree and became a registered nutritionist ready to help others.

Filled with positivity, newly-found zest and a diploma, I couldn’t wait to get started.

But wait… How do I let people know that I’m here to help them? 

Because I gained confidence in successfully overcoming the previous hurdles, I felt I could get through this one as well–though I had no idea how.

My nutrition career took off by having to work for others–not an ideal scenario, but I had to start somewhere.

Although at first I was stoked about actually working in the field of nutrition, I soon realized that working for others is just not my thing.

I felt constraint. I felt like I could not be myself as a counselor, and I needed to be. I wanted to focus on my ideas on how to truly, genuinely help people get better, address their individual concerns and answer their specific questions. This, I felt, was the only way to get to the root of the problem.

Another health setback

But as I seriously considered packing it all in and going my own way, disaster struck. I suffered another health set back. This time: a brain injury.

Because of the severity of this condition, I was forced to take a year off from work and focus on healing myself physically and emotionally.

After recovery—in fact, much sooner than doctors expected, crediting the faster-than-normal recuperation to commitment, healthy eating habits, exercise and support from friends and family—I managed to bounce back and finally decided to start my own nutrition consulting practice.

Although I was convinced that this is the path I needed to take, I was nervous and unsure and afraid. I don’t deal well with change. I never have, especially when major. This was a trying time, that’s for sure.

But the trauma of my brain injury was a blessing in disguise. It ended up pushing me out of my comfort zone because I now fully realized that life is short and fragile, so might as well throw caution to the wind and just go for it all. I felt I had nothing to lose anymore. 

Temporary recovery

Little by little, I built up my practice and things were once again looking up.

A few years later, in the midst of a busy nutrition counseling career that was growing steadily, my appendix burst, causing a few complications and resulting in numerous surgeries.

I just couldn’t catch a break, it seemed.

Instead of building and improving my practice to keep up with the rapidly-changing times, I sunk my time and energy into rest and recovery–the end result of which was a significant drop in business.

I just could not manage to keep up with the constantly growing importance of the internet, social media and all the latest trends. I fell so far back behind the ball, I didn’t think I could catch up.

My lowest point

This situation was made worse by other personal matters.

I felt dejected, deflated and defeated.

If it wasn’t one thing, it was another. I was stretched so thin, I could barely hold on.

Only a handful of friends and family members felt I should continue to run my own nutrition counseling practice. Others thought I should leave a sinking ship, get a 9 to 5 job and perhaps do the ‘nutrition thing’ on the side—the thought of which still makes me cringe.

And I considered it, if I’m honest. But deep down inside I know, as I knew back then, that helping others is something I have to be doing, and that I would be letting myself down if bowed out and took the easier route.

I managed to stick with it, although it wasn’t easy. There were many ups and just as many downs.

Turning point

Fast forward to some time later… I met my partner.

He saw something in me that rekindled my desire and energy to build myself up as a counselor and business owner. Together we embarked on a mission to make up for all the time that was lost to my health ailments, and decided to play some serious catch up.

Over three years later, my partner is now my full-time business partner and my biggest supporter. Oh ya, he is still my boyfriend, too.

A few points to take away

Through my struggles I’ve learned a great deal about life, about myself and about how challenging it can be to deal with ongoing health problems.

I think these things can only be understood if you actually go through them yourself. That’s the only way to truly empathize with others and how they feel.

I also took away a few other points from my experience:

1. Your attitude determines your altitude. If you don’t let setbacks take you down and work hard to persevere, good things can come your way. 

In the end, you have two choices: one, you can submit and let it take you down, or two, keep your head up and work to overcome the obstacles. Fight or flight, the choice is always yours.

2. Never give up on your passion. Pursue right until the end! And, be prepared for critics along the way who will never share in your vision. Self-fulfilment is paramount.

3. In health and in business, it takes constant learning, adapting, persistence and a great deal of time to make positive, lasting changes. You can never sit still and rest on your laurels. But as the old saying goes, nothing worth doing in life is ever easy.


To this day, I feel that having dealt with a number of personal health problems throughout my life puts me in a prime position to help others because I can often identify with those awful negative feelings people feel when facing their own personal challenges.

When clients share similar personal stories and struggles, it always takes me back to my own feelings of dread and despair, which I felt so often in the past. Sometimes these feelings are so evocative that it’s as though I felt them yesterday. I guess things like this stay with you forever. 

And as hard as dealing with all this adversity was, and still is in some ways, I wouldn’t have it any other way because it made who I am today.

Julie Mancuso is a registered holistic Toronto nutritionist who has been counseling clients for over 15 years. Julie’s personalized approach has helped thousands reach their health, wellness and nutrition goals.

Julie’s blog has been named one of the Top 100 Nutrition Blogs, Websites and Newsletters to Follow in 2018 by Feedspot. So don’t miss out and subscribe to both her newsletter and blog.

The post Julie Mancuso: How I Became a Nutritionist appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N, JM Nutrition How to lose weight is the most frequent question that people ask me, and by far the most common […]

The post How to Lose Weight the Right Way, the Healthy Way appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition Holiday foods you should select to help you maintain weight during the holiday season. Without a doubt, one of […]

The post Holiday Foods to Help Maintain Weight appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, B.A., R.H.N., JM Nutrition The holiday season is drawing near. With it, come family get-togethers, office parties and seemingly never-ending amounts of delicious food and, […]

The post How to Avoid Overeating and Keep the Pounds Off During the Holiday Season appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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By: Julie Mancuso, JM Nutrition “I don’t need to see a nutritionist; I already know which foods are healthy,” is often what people say when it’s […]

The post Why You Should See a Nutritionist Now appeared first on JM Nutrition.

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