Summer is definitely in full swing and with that comes more opportunities to indulge. We’re out on the patios, food festivals, having picnics and farmer’s markets. Our taste buds come alive with all the fresh foods around. But how to we make sure we choose the right things to eat? Healthy lifestyle choices are always on our minds but we don’t want to compromise on taste. And those Frappuccinos are calling our names!
For advice we turned to Dr. Erica Arcuri. As a Naturopathic Doctor, Erica is passionate about health, inside and out. Erica is trained in Botanical Medicine, Nutritional Therapies, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Lifestyle Counselling. She is a firm believer in empowering individuals through self-care and healthy habits. So, we wanted to get her advice on how to stay on track over the summer months.
Summer often makes us feel bloated. What are some foods we should eat to keep that under control?
Summer is full of opportunities which can cause bloating – people are drinking more patio beers & cocktails, enjoying backyard BBQ’s and partaking in all of the summer activities that are going on in the city. It’s definitely important to figure out why you may be experiencing bloating as the causes can range from food intolerances to hormonal imbalances or dysbiosis of the gut. But when it comes down to it, it’s important to understand which foods to avoid and which to include to dodge the bloat.
Pineapple contains enzymes to help your digestion, turmeric reduces intestinal inflammation and prevents ulcers, ginger fights gas and bloating, and foods like watermelon and berries are high in water content to keep the body hydrated – these are foods we want to include more of. Processed/fast foods, salty snacks, and sugar-filled sweets on the other hand are foods you should steer clear of. They are harder to digest, inflammatory and contain a very minimal nutritional value.
Tell us about avocado toast — is it really such a great choice for breakfast?
Avocado toast is probably one of my favourite go-to’s for a quick breakfast, lunch or snack option! Avocados are unsaturated (healthy) fats that are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber – this means they are great for the heart and hormones, they will keep you feeling full longer and they also help to maintain regular bowel movements. I usually suggest adding a protein source such as an egg or 1 tbsp of chia seeds for a more wholesome meal and to stick to whole grain breads vs white breads. Unfortunately, I have seen some patients who will experience bloating and gut issues from avocados which may be due to a food sensitivity. Avocados are a type of FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols) food group that contain short-chain carbohydrates that, if poorly digested, ferment in your intestine leading to abdominal pain and bloating.
There’s continued interest in Kale but also some controversy. What can you tell us?
Kale is part of the cruciferous family of vegetables which also includes cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and Brussel sprouts, among others. I often will recommend increasing the amount of cruciferous veggie intake for my female patients who experience hormonal imbalances as they help to detoxify excess estrogen from the body. On the other hand, these cruciferous vegetables can work to suppress the production of our thyroid hormone when eaten raw, which can eventually lead to hypothyroidism. There has also been some speculation that consuming too much kale can lead to a heavy metal toxicity of thallium.
In my opinion, our bodies have the capability to detoxify heavy metals and toxins from the environment. Eating a kale salad or adding some kale into your daily smoothie should not lead to heavy metal toxicity. In certain hypothyroid patients, I might suggest cooking their cruciferous veggies (as opposed to eating them raw) or reducing their intake altogether, but this would depend on each individual case.
Side note: if you do feel as though your body isn’t detoxifying properly there are heavy metal tests that your Naturopathic Doctor can run for you.
Okay, we seem to be eating out more in the summer months. At work we’re grabbing our lunches and taking them outside. So, what are some of your choice dishes and restaurants in Toronto during this season?
Some of my favourite spots for healthy choices in Toronto right now include Impact Kitchen, Flock, Kupfert & Kim, IQ Foods, Hello 123 and Revitasize. These are my go-to’s when I am on the run and don’t have time to prep my own meals. I will usually go for a salad or rice bowl with protein, a hearty soup, fresh juices or quick snacks like chia seed puddings.
All these food festivals! Help! How do we navigate through them any tips for us?
There have been a lot of amazing food festivals in the city this summer and although there are definitely some vendors that offer “healthier” options…it’s hard to avoid indulging in the not-so-healthy options as well! The number one piece of advice that I will offer up – DON’T GUILT TRIP YOURSELF! If you know in advance that you will be eating certain foods that don’t digest well for you, take a digestive enzyme beforehand. Otherwise, acknowledge that you’ve over-eaten (or drank) and start fresh the next day. Avoid salty foods, sugar and alcoholic beverages. Drink warm lemon water, ginger tea and lots of water throughout the day to rehydrate yourself and flush out the toxins from the weekend. Focus on eating fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods and bitter greens to support digestion and detoxification. I completely stand by the motto of “everything in moderation” – so go ahead and enjoy taco fest and brunch fest but be sure to support your body through the detoxification process.
We love the iced blended coffee drinks (so many fun ones too! OMG! I mean, look at them!) , but we also know they are heavy in calories and sugar…what are some good alternatives for us to order?
Coffee itself has many health benefits, however, once the dairy and sweeteners are added this will spike blood sugars and increase its caloric count. If you are a coffee drinker, I would recommend sticking to 1-2 black coffees per day with dairy-free milk or creamer. Otherwise, you can try healthier alternatives such as iced matcha latte’s that are rich in antioxidants with a lesser amount of caffeine, protein smoothies, green juices, Siberian ginseng tea for energy or reishi mushroom tea for immune support.
Your favourite 5 good herbs/natural therapies we could add to our daily life during the summer months?
Probiotics – Probiotics are a source of “good bacteria” that work to maintain a healthy gut flora. They help us to better digest things we can’t metabolize on our own and play a role in regulating our immune system.
Omega-3’s – Omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that are important for our skin, brain health, mood and joint mobility. Summer usually means more activities and more time outdoors so it’s important that we avoid any chance of increasing inflammation in the body.
B Complex – B vitamins are water-soluble nutrients that play an important role in metabolism, management of stress and energy levels, and neurological health. They also support liver detoxification and can be used the day after drinking!
Antioxidants – More sun exposure in the summer months can lead to increased risk of sunburn, premature aging and skin cancer. Antioxidants including vitamins A, C, & E plus selenium and zinc are amazing for our skin health and can help to protect us from oxidative cell damage.
Electrolytes – Hot temperatures, unfortunately, means more sweat! More sweating means that we lose more minerals that can lead to dehydration. I often will suggest adding an electrolyte powder or liquid mineral supplement to your water to drink throughout the day. This keeps you hydrated and supports your adrenal glands.
*Note: not all supplements are made equally or come from a reputable source. It’s important to consult with your ND or health care practitioner to ensure you are receiving a pure, quality supplements.
Dr. Erica Arcuri together with Holistic Health and Reiki practitioner Natalie Kehren, are the founders of The Wellness Market, a one-day event that will take place on October 21, 2018 at the Artscape Wychwood Barns. The second annual event is an opportunity to discover over 40 vendors offering the latest in wellness from natural and holistic therapies and spiritual practices to green beauty, and healthy foods. Take part in HIIT and Yoga workouts, take in a workshop and listen in on a wellness discussion panel. Find out more www.thewellnessmarket.ca.