I recently held an online Workshop dedicated to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet, and what we can all do with our nutrition and lifestyle choices to reduce our inflammation. Our body has a natural immune system response to foreign invaders such as a cold, flu or virus to inflame and fight. This is a really good thing and can help us stay healthy for longer. Inflammation is a bad thing when it becomes chronic – meaning the immune system is fighting and ‘inflaming’ at something that isn’t there. Over time, this weakens our immune system and we get sick with chronic pain and chronic disease.

With all of my Workshops, I like to talk about the science-backed information about nutrition and our health, followed by a question and answer period. With this past Workshop the attending group was so engaged and asked some really terrific questions not only about the subject at hand, but nutrition overall. I am on a mission to teach people how to be the healthiest version of themselves through the power of food. As part of this mission, providing solid information to my community is key. So, this week’s nutrition blog is dedicated to some of my favorite questions that were asked by my online community.

Q1. Would a daily reishi mushroom supplement be equivalent to cooked Asian mushrooms?

Cooked Asian mushrooms are excellent for reducing inflammation and increasing longevity overall. But let’s be honest…getting them into your daily nutrition regimen is quite the stretch. I do my best to get them in twice per week. My go-to meals for them are a spinach and Asian mushroom omelet cooked in raw organic coconut oil, and as part of a veggie and bean stir-fry over brown or whole grain rice.

There are a lot of supplement options online and in health food stores in both pill and liquid form. I use Annanda Chaga products, specifically their extracts/tinctures in my coffee every day. I like them because they are a Canadian company, have tons of great reviews, are all organic and their prices are great.

That said, FOOD is more important than supplements. We should do our very best to get our nutrients from our food and use supplements to only supplement what might be missing. A handful of pills in the morning and a crap diet isn’t serving you.

Q2. If you take prescription medications and want to take supplements, is it best to talk to a pharmacist rather than just discussing with health food store staff?

Absolutely. Anytime you are going to add in a supplement while taking prescription medications, I would highly recommend speaking with your pharmacist first as well as reading any warnings and/or directions on the supplement labels. Sometimes there can be adverse effects when combinations occur, and this is definitely something we want to be aware of. If you get the go-ahead from your doctor and pharmacist to add a supplement in, then I would head to the health food store or online to purchase. The quality of the supplements offered at most pharmacies is sub-par. If you don’t know what you should be looking for, either speak with someone in the health food store that is educated in the area (i.e. not just the cashier!). I am also always here to help so feel free to ask me for any advice in this area. I have a page on my website  that lists various supplements and brands I would recommend. I would not recommend anything I haven’t personally taken, so hopefully there is an increased trust factor with that for my readers.

Q3. What is a good protein powder? How can you tell if it’s any good?

Such a great question! As a Certified Integrative Nutritionist, I would stay clear of whey protein powders. This animal-based protein powder can be very hard on the digestive system, and as someone who centres much of her coaching around the gut, it is one that I would avoid.

I would opt for Manitoba Hemp Harvest protein or Vega All-In-One Shake. The bonus is that you are getting the same amount of protein and also getting additional nutrition such as healthy fats, omegas, vitamins, minerals and much more.

With any product, you should always read the ingredients list to see what you are really getting into. A high quality product will be made with real food, not just a list of ingredients and chemicals. When reading labels, I aim for items having less than 5 – 8 ingredients and made from whole food products. If I can’t pronounce it or have no idea what it is, then I don’t take it home.

Q4: If you were to make a smoothie in the morning what would you put in there?

My go-to would consist of leafy greens (kale or spinach), frozen fruit, half an avocado, high-fat Greek yogurt, chia seeds, flax seeds, and either water or oat milk (my favorite is Earth’s Own unsweetened). A few other things that are great to add in are vegetarian protein powder, mushroom powder or tincture, macca powder, cacao powder and a greens powder.

Q5: You mentioned managing our stress to avoid “stress eating”….Any specific strategies in the moment of walking down that road…?

Stress is such a big topic and really tied to so many health issues we are faced with in record numbers in Canada. First and foremost, I would always suggest doing a stress-reduction activity every single day. You don’t have to OM your way through a two hour meditation here. Some simple options are guided mediation, yoga, stretching, time in nature and going for a walk. Reducing our stress is key to reduce our stress eating. In the moment if you are grabbing for a bag of chips me telling you to opt for veggies and hummus probably isn’t going to be overly helpful. But, our overall nutrition choices day in and day out can effectively reduce our stress hormones in our body. My three biggest tips on a daily basis to make this happen?

  1. Replace all pop (yes, diet drinks too!) with water.
  2. Do not skip meals – eat every 5 hours daily.
  3. Alcohol will not help. This is one of the biggest attempts at a coping mechanism that many stressed out adults reach for and it literally does the opposite for your body.

So there you have it! I hope you found this article helpful in answering some big questions, and perhaps made you think of a few more burning questions you might have. If that is the case, first be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can receive more great nutrition tips to your inbox. And, join the conversation on my IG stories where I give nutrition tips weekly. It isn’t going to all happen overnight – and that is okay!! But those first steps are important ones and I am here to support you along the way.