A Healthy Start To The New Year

Want to start your new year off right? Start with a healthy breakfast.

It's is the most important meal of the day, and for good reason. While you sleep your metabolism drops to its resting rate as the only demands put on your body are to keep your vital organs functioning…the body is at rest.

When you rise after an eight hour fast you can do one of two things to raise your metabolism: 1) eat breakfast, or 2) exercise.

Eating can cause your metabolism to rise from its sleepy resting metabolic rate. Your body responds to the food source by sending signals to speed rhythmic contractions and secrete digestive juices. As the food enters the stomach the body undergoes a response called diet-induced thermogenesis. Simply put, your body burns energy in order to digest your food. This is one way to jump-start your metabolism. It’s a small jump-start, but a jump-start none the less.

Now think about the different types of food you can eat for breakfast. There are traditional sugar and empty-carb laden breakfasts such as commercial cereals with whole milk, juices loaded with high fructose corn syrup, and the all time favourite – bacon, eggs, and toast with butter or margarine.

Take a closer look at the nutrients these typical breakfasts provide:

When you add everything up, it doesn’t look like such a great way to start your day. No matter which combination you choose, you will end up fat, sluggish, and foggy headed over time. Remember there are also those people considered “skinny-fat” - yes, that’s right, even the cereal eaters are adding extra processed ingredients to their diets which will add up over time. The next time you’re in the grocery store, take a look at the ingredients on the side of any cereal box – you’ll find some interesting chemicals and lots of hidden sugar.

In the past, I’ve suggested healthy alternatives for your first meal of the day. Suggestions included:

  • One hard-boiled egg and fresh cut veggies with hummus
  • One serving of yogurt (1% milk fat) with 2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce and one small banana
  • One cup of oatmeal (not the instant kind) with ½ cup blueberries and 1 cup 1% milk
  • Three egg-white omelet and one slice of multi-grain toast with almond butter
  • Fruit smoothie made with ½ cup plain yogurt, ½ cup blueberries, one small banana

Here’s one additional healthy alternative that beats them all - I call it the “New You Shake”:

In a high powered blender or Vita-Mix, blend the following ingredients

  • 12 almonds with brown skin on
  • ½ cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 1 cup fresh spinach (with the blueberries, you won’t even taste the spinach)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 serving of plain yogurt or a probiotic drink

Almonds: provide protein, fibre, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E and flavonoids. A protein and fibre component is needed in each meal and adding almonds to your morning shake is a quick and easy way to include them in your breakfast. Studies have shown that potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function and magnesium benefits your veins and arteries by helping them relax to improve blood flow to all areas of the body. Flavonoids found in almond skins and the powerful antioxidant effects of vitamin E pack a one-two punch while delivering heart healthy benefits.

Blueberries: are rich in phytonutrients, especially polyphenols and flavonoids. Specifically, blueberries contain resveratrol, piceatannol and ptereostilbine. Blueberries help with cell to cell communication in your brain, control blood sugar levels, and help with cancer prevention.  Try a cup of blueberries everyday for optimal health benefits.

Spinach: is known as Popeye’s favorite food for building muscles, but there’s a lot more to it than that. Spinach has an abundance of antioxidants, chlorophyll, B vitamins, vitamin K, minerals, polyphenols, and Coenzyme Q10. Studies have shown that compounds in spinach promote heart health, slow cognitive decline, help reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and asthma, and may also help combat ovarian and prostate cancers.

Tip – spinach is a great base for salads but make sure you add a little olive oil to help your body absorb the carotenoids, vitamin E and vitamin K.

Bananas: provide potassium, B vitamins, tryptophan and fibre to help keep your nervous system calm, balance your moods, and keep your bowels ‘regular’. Potassium is involved in nerve function, muscle control, and blood pressure. Potassium also works with sodium to maintain the body’s water balance. Research has shown that adding bananas to your diet a few times a week can reduce your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.

Cold-Pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil: contains healthy monounsaturated fat, vitamin E and an abundance of polyphenols. It’s the polyphenols that are behind most of the health benefits.  Cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil provides the most benefits as you receive a very high quality olive oil from the first pressing of the olives, where there’s an abundance of phytonutrients that have undergone minimal heat processing. Normally it’s best to pour a small amount of olive oil on your meals after they have been cooked to preserve the nutrients from damaging heat effects. The only exception is when you’re cooking meat.  Using olive oil to cook with or as part of your marinade has a healthful benefit. Cooking meat enhances the formation of carcinogenic heterocyclic amines in the product and studies have shown that olive oil reduces this effect. Other studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet or who use olive oil regularly in place of other fats have a reduced risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer and asthma. And here comes the best news of all; consuming approximately 2 tbsp of olive oil with your meal helps control blood sugar and helps prevent accumulation of fat around your mid-section. The monounsaturated fat helps increase the breakdown of fat in fat cells and reduces insulin’s ability to block fat breakdown. Go olive power!

Tip: purchase cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil in dark tinted bottles that have been stored away from any heat source as both light and heat will have an adverse effect on the phytonutrients.

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The contents of this site are the opinions of Michele Tse unless otherwise noted. The information on this site is intended for general informational and educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical or nutritional advice or treatment. Please consult your health care practitioner before beginning any fitness program.