Diet in terms of the food combinations we eat is a focus at Mountain Trek. Dieting as a short term solution to health and wellness is not something Mountain Trek promotes.

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Cuisine Secrets – 10 Ways to Cook Healthier

We are regularly asked by those who visit Mountain Trek how it is that our food is so delicious and yet we avoid using such “staples” as refined carbohydrates, salt and sugar. The good news is it’s simple: we just don’t have any of those things in our kitchen.

Here are 10 more secrets to healthy cooking, compliments of the chefs at Mountain Trek.

#1. Use Smart Fats

Coconut-Oil-Healthy-Fats

There are two types of fat: unsaturated, such as olive oil, and saturated, such as butter. Choose the first more often and only eat the latter in smaller doses.

#2. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables

Fruit-and-Vegetables

Stick to whole (unprocessed) grains such as wild rice and quinoa, which have more fibre, zinc and other nutrients.

#3. Go Unrefined

Unrefined-Honey-and-whole-flax-seeds

If you take nothing else away from these secrets, remember this: eat more vegetables and fruits and less of almost everything else.

#4. It’s Not All About the Meat

Dried-beans---not-all-about-meat

Meat is a source of protein but most also contain saturated fat. Eat small portions and substitute often with beans and legumes such as peas.

 

#5. Lessen Intake of Fat-Filled Dairy Products

Less-Dairy-Almond-Milk

Fat-free dairy products are usually full of artificial sweeteners, which are worse than fat in our opinion. Better to lessen your intake of fat-filled dairy all together.

#6. Keep Portions Reasonable

Portion-Control

At Mountain Trek we’re big proponents of healthy meal composition as well as meal timings. Remember to keep portions small and simple and eat the majority of your daily food before 5:00 pm.

#7. Avoid Sweeteners

avoid-sweeteners-cup-of-plain-tea

Whether you’re using unrefined honey or white sugar, you’re adding calories to your meal and hardly any nutritional value.

#8. Reduce Sodium

Reduce-Sodium---Spilled-salt-shaker

The recommended intake of salt per day is about a teaspoon – which you will get naturally in your food. Throw away that salt shaker.

#9. Go For the Flavour

Spices---Flavour-your-food

There are many other delicious ways to flavour your dishes than just using salt and pepper. Fresh herbs, spices and citrus will add punch to your meals without making you feel you’re missing out.

#10. Be Mindful and Enjoy

Be-Mindful-and-Enjoy-your-food---wooden-fork-with-spring-greens

In our current culture it’s so easy to just grab the most convenient thing in the cupboard and run. (Or worse, eat out for every meal.) But by putting more time and effort into your cooking you’ll be happier, healthier and enjoy a lot more vitality.

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9 Ways to Get Beach Ready & Cure the “Muffin Top”

Beach-Body

Now is the time of year when many of us look in the mirror and wonder where our beach bodies went over the course of the winter. The fact is a number of factors combined with a more sedentary lifestyle during the winter months can lead to the dreaded “muffin top” in which our body spills out over our bathing suits. Thankfully there are some easy steps to follow that will help you lose weight, keep fit and look great in that swim suit. Below are a nine tips for curing the muffin top.

Walk-10,000-steps-a-day

Walk 10,000 steps a day, take the stairs or join a gym.

Take-Breaks

Take two 1-minute breaks in the work day to close eyes and breathe deeply.

Test-your-food-sensitivities-

Test for food sensitivities.

Power-Down-Electronics

Power down electronics 1 hour before bed and remove all electronics from bedroom.

Avoid-Alcohol

Reduce alcohol consumption to 1-2 days per week.

Avoid-Plastics-and-Soy

Minimize use of Soy, plastic food wrappers, pesticides, and petrochemical cosmetics.

Infrared-Sauna

Infrared Sauna 1-2 times per week at Day Spa or Health Club to release toxins.

Chew-your-food

Chew food to liquid state and add Probiotics to build intestinal flora.

Fibre-rich-diet

Switch to low Carb/high Protein and Fibre rich diet.

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10 “Non-Diet” Weight Loss Tips and Simple Holiday Detox Ideas

a woman in a red coat in a winter wonderland

The “Non-Diet” Approach to Weight Loss

Mountain Trek does not subscribe to any diet plan. In fact, we don’t believe in the concept of dieting at all; yet we guarantee those who participate in our program will lose weight. And they always do. Why is that?  It starts with the food we eat. So what’s the secret?

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there are so many fad diets out there? The fact is, none of them work, certainly not for any length of time anyway. So many of us binge and then starve our bodies, only to repeat the cycle, that it’s no wonder we have trouble maintaining a healthy consistent weight. Problems such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease are all a result of improper eating practices combined with lack of physical activity for which our bodies were designed for.

At Mountain Trek, we’re not interested in short-term efforts for losing weight but rather we want to encourage a long-term lifestyle change for lasting health. A large part of it rests on the nutritional pillar of our program, which isn’t so much based on counting calories as it is about encouraging healthy eating patterns. We focus on balancing blood sugars, and the hormones Insulin, Glucagon, Leptin, and Grehlin, in order to raise and maintain an Anabolic metabolism. Which is just one way of saying, we teach you about healthy eating habits that transform your health. Our guests learn how to “diet” without actually going on a diet; along with the support-structure and strategies for turning them into long-term habits.

10 Weight Loss Tips

1. Eat Breakfast within 30 minutes of getting out of bed

a bowl of yogurt granola and blueberries on a wooden table

2. Eat two-thirds of your food in the first 9 hours of the day

Steaming Bowl of Soup

3. Eat multiple food groups every 3 hours during the day

a wooden box of apples grapes walnuts and almonds

4. Eat slower and chew more

a person eating an apple in a kitchen

5. Eat out at restaurants less

a couple cooking a meal together

6. Lower your intake of alcohol

three clear glass tea pots of tea

7. Eliminate or minimize artificial sweeteners

a jar of honey

8. Detoxify your body regularly (see below)

a woman in an infrared sauna detoxing

9. Eat less processed food and more organic produce

Fresh, local and organic produce

10. Drink more water

a person drinking water from a water bottle


Detox

Detox Your Body This Month

If you read our tips for relieving holiday stress, chances are you’re feeling fit, healthy, and happy. However, if you’re like most of us, you indulged a bit during the holiday season and are now looking to get back on track. Well, aside from the weight-loss pointers mentioned above, there’s one other key thing you can do in order to encourage wellness and lose a few of those extra pounds that might have crept on what with all the holiday chocolates lying around. And the good news is that one thing is relatively easy to do.

Related Article: Hot Springs Benefits

Detoxification has been a tradition among most cultures on earth for centuries. From Scandinavian saunas to American sweat lodges, mankind has understood the value of purging toxins through the skin. Essentially, the term refers to the process of removing injurious substances from our bodies, which can be biological (such as bacteria and viruses) or harmful chemicals like heavy metals, food processing compounds, and cosmetics. (Nowadays processed foods contain more than 3,000 chemicals whereas at the turn of the century, the only preservative found in food was salt.) These toxins are continuously being flushed from our body through breath, sweat, urine, etc but problems arise if we can’t detoxify fast enough. What happens when we don’t purge these toxins quickly, our fat cells will get larger so the body can store the excess toxins and keep them safely away from sensitive tissue.  When the toxins are more concentrated, our fat cells will also increase in size to keep them diluted.

In other words, detoxing is not only good for riding the body of bad biology and chemicals, it’s also a good way to ensure your body doesn’t start harboring fat cells.

Here are just a few easy actions you can take to support your body in detoxifying

  • Drink enough water throughout the day so that your urine is almost clear. This will help support your kidney’s removal of water-soluble toxins.
  • Utilize exercise, saunas, and steams to aid the release of stored toxins.
  • Dry brushing your skin is another good way to encourage blood circulation, cell regeneration and toxin removal.
  • Eat fibre-rich foods to aid your intestines in moving toxins out of the body.  Constipation leads to toxin re-absorption.
  • Eat organic, pesticide-free produce, and less processed food.

What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

7 Crucial Healthy Eating Tips and 5 Easy Nutrition Tips

a woman eating an apple with words tips for staying healthy

Wake up groggy – Coffee – Commute to office – Coffee – Quick lunch at desk – Chocolate/Coffee to spike low energy – Commute home – Huge dinner – Watch TV – Sleep – Wake up groggy

Sound familiar? This vicious cycle can be a hard one to break. Perhaps you’ve tried diets or removing certain food groups from your meals in order to lose weight and be energized throughout your day. Or maybe you’ve swung the other direction and are addicted to certain foods and can’t get through a day without them. Like coffee for example.

Let’s take a step back and look at the types of food you’re eating, and how you’re consuming them. Our modern-day culture stresses what kinds of food to eat, but few are concentrating on meal timing. How, and when you eat also has an impact on your overall health. It’s more important than ever to stress some key healthy eating tips

7 Crucial Tips for Healthy Eating

a blueberry smoothing in a jar with the words Meal Timings

Meal Timings

1. Eat Breakfast Within 30 Minutes of Waking

If you take nothing else away from this article, remember one thing: eat breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Even if it’s just an Energy Smoothie. With the prevalence put on coffee these days, most of us wake up and have a cup of joe–or several. And, because caffeine is an appetite suppressant, we go the entire morning without eating. The problem with this scenario is your body reacts by thinking it’s being starved and builds up fat cells. Fall into a habit of this and quite quickly it becomes too hard to shed weight because the body is always worried about when the next meal will come. The simple solution is to eat some form of food within a half-hour of waking. After breaking your fast first-thing in the morning, you will:

  • Kick-start your metabolism for the day
  • Be supporting your circadian rhythm and will have more energy
  • Keep your liver from initiating the “famine” response

We know that a warm cup of coffee is very comforting, especially as the cold weather settles in, but consider trying alternatives like ginger tea, which helps cleanse the liver rather than tax it, or perhaps a barley-based coffee substitute like Bambu or Akava. At the very least, try lessening your coffee intake by just have one a morning after your first meal or smoothie.

2. Eat two-thirds of your food in the first nine hours of the day 

This is an issue that’s especially prevalent in North America where we tend to consume coffee during the day and then have a huge meal right before we watch TV and fall asleep. The issue with this scenario is the body doesn’t have the ability to work off all those extra calories while sleeping so it tends to store them all as fat. By eating most of your food during the first half of your day you:

  • Allow your body to burn off those calories by walking and being active 
  • Reduce your evening blood sugar levels so insulin doesn’t store the excess as fat

This may seem difficult to do at first because large dinners can seem so satisfying, but just try it for a little while and we’re positive your energy levels will increase in the morning.

3. Eat Every 3 hours

Not only will you benefit from eating within the first nine hours of your day, but you will also feel better if you consume multiple food groups every three hours. By snacking regularly you convince the body you’re not starving and it will be less likely to store fat. Let’s preface this, however, by saying that a snack does not include an entire bag of Doritos. All you need is a piece of fruit and a handful of seeds or nuts or any of our top 5 on-the-go-snacks to keep your energy up. And by eating throughout the day you will:

  • Maintain level blood sugar and avoid insulin spikes in response to large meals
  • Avoid the “famine” response that results in fat storage from skipping meals
  • Avoid energy drops associated with low blood sugar that tends to have us craving coffee, chocolate, or another caffeine source

a basket of vegetables with the words Meal Composition

Meal Composition

As mentioned above, meal timing is important. But we also must consider what food, and how much of it, we consume.

It’s crucial to combine multiple food groups at each meal and snack. So whether you get your protein from meat, beans, or certain leafy greens, you should be eating it at every meal. Avoid store-bought protein bars, which contain empty calories among other things. Try our delicious homemade protein bars instead. 

Along with your protein, be sure to include complex carbohydrates, vegetables, and fruit. Think slow-cooked oatmeal, not white bread, and most cereals that consist of refined sugars and simple carbohydrates. 

We should also stress it’s important to include a wide variety of local, fresh, organic, and unprocessed foods. Stay away from the center aisles at the grocery store. And if you’re eating animal protein, choose organic, wild, or free-range that are free of hormones and antibiotics. Here is how we break down our meals at Mountain Trek:

4. Equal Volumes at Breakfast

At breakfast, we recommend equal volumes of complex carbohydrates, protein, vegetables, or fruit. As well as a teaspoon of omega oil and a small amount of dairy (substitute if you’re allergic or have an intolerance). By combining these items you benefit by:

  • Supporting a “glycemic load,” which contributes to a longer, slower release of blood sugars and avoiding insulin spikes
  • Getting important minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, which do the body wonders especially first thing in the morning
  • The high fiber from complex carbohydrates provides chromium to help regulate blood sugars and it creates a sense of fullness, lowering appetite

5. Two-Thirds Vegetables at Lunch

Your lunch should be two-thirds vegetables and one-third protein with a small dairy component or substitute.

6. One-Half Vegetables, One-Quarter Protein, One-Quarter Complex Carbs at Dinner

Your dinner plate should be one-half vegetables, one-quarter complex carbohydrates, and one-quarter protein with a small dairy component or substitute. This is because:

  • Higher vegetable portions provide antioxidants, fiber, and phytochemicals to support active, growth-centered metabolism (salads, soups, steamed or sautéed)
  • Fewer dinner calories reduce the chance of fat storage
  • It promotes a healthy appetite for breakfast

7. Soul Food

At Mountain Trek, we believe in feeding the body AND feeding the soul. Therefore, we don’t expect you to follow this eating program to the letter. If you can try to eat like the way we detail above five days of the week and allow yourself two days to consume what we call “soul foods” you’ll be happier, and that has a huge impact on your health as well!


Support Healthy Eating With These Easy Nutrition Tips

Aside from the seven suggestions above about when and how to eat, these five easy-to-implement nutrition tips will help increase your vitality and support your health.

a woman drinking water with the words Drink your food; eat your water

Drink Your Food; Eat Your Water

In other words, eat slower, chew more, and swish your water around in your mouth before you swallow. This will help initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates with saliva enzymes and ease digestion. You will also allow time for the vagus nerve to communicate when you’re full, thereby avoiding overeating.

a woman feeding a man pasta sauce from a wooden spoon with the words Eat Out Less

Eat Out Less

We all love restaurants but there’s a reason their food tastes so good: lots of butter, oil, sugar and salt. By visiting fewer restaurants you’ll avoid oversized portions, lots of empty calories, and fat. We’re not saying to avoid restaurants entirely, but perhaps limit it to once-a-week or special occasions.

someone holding a mug and saucer with the words Drink Less Alcohol

Drink Less Alcohol

It’s especially important to avoid more alcohol as the cold weather and holidays approach. All alcohol has empty calories (even the ones marketed as being free of carbs) and when combined with excessive eating around the holidays, it’s a one-two punch that will guarantee weight gain. We’re not saying don’t drink at all, just limit binge drinking and consider only drinking at mealtimes to help your liver process.

grapes on a white plate with the words Minimize Artificial Sweeteners

Minimize Artificial Sweeteners

This means limiting (or better yet, eliminating) sodas, energy drinks, candy, and all the toxins associated with them. If you want a treat, consider having chocolate that contains 80% cocoa or better yet sweet fruit like dates. We can’t stress this enough because, ultimately, artificial sweeteners fall into the category of really bad foods given their poisonous qualities.

a white ceramic dish filled with eggs with the words Explore the Sour Eight

Explore Your Sensitivity to the “Sour Eight”

The Sour Eight are wheat, corn, dairy, soy, sugar, eggs, alcohol, and peanuts and the majority of the population has some form of sensitivity to at least one of these. Sensitivities could range from full-blown allergies to mild discomfort. But by taking time to remove one of these from your diet for a month, you could avoid constipation, bloating, excess mucus, fatigue, headaches, water retention, and most shockingly of all, you could eliminate 5-15 pounds of water retention in your bowels! 

Try it! Start with peanuts and see how you feel after a month. You may not notice a difference in which case move on to eggs and then work towards the others, which you’ll find are a little more difficult to eliminate as they’re so omnipotent. But ultimately isn’t your health and vitality worth it?


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

10+ Tips to Keep Well and Active as the Cold Weather Approaches

Autumn Hiking at Mountain Trek

When winter sets in, the days get shorter, the thermometer drops, and our bodies enter into what was, traditionally, a time of dormancy. Before the industrial revolution, we humans would spend the winter months in a state of quiescence – there was very little farming, hunting, or gathering to be done so we’d slow down and conserve our fat stores. These days, our bodies are still programmed to a certain amount of inaction during the colder months but, unlike the past, we now have plenty of fatty and processed foods to snack on during that time.

Tips to avoid unhealthy snacking and remain well and active during winter

1. Avoid Drinking More Coffee

Morning Ginger Tea

With cooler temperatures comes the desire to drink hot drinks and the most prevalent, especially in the Western world, is coffee. However comforting that cup of Joe is on a cool day, however, one must remember the harmful effects of caffeine. There is a proven relationship between caffeine and weight gain. Continuous consumption of it leads to prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which has a negative effect on metabolism, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure. Instead of drinking more coffee, consider other hot drink alternatives such as a detoxifying and energizing morning ginger tea.

2. Avoid More Alcohol

Avoid Alcohol

As we enter months where the nights are longer, we as a species are driven to socialize more in the evenings. And in our modern world, that typically means there is more alcohol on offer. We at Mountain Trek are not abolitionists by any stretch but we think it’s important to stress alcohol’s relationship to weight gain. All alcohol has calories (even the ones marketed as being free of carbs) and so by consuming more, you’re adding to your fat stores. In the case of alcohol, this is doubly taxing because it stresses your liver and impairs its ability to flush toxins. Imbibe in the occasional drink but considering capping of the evening with a nightcap of #3.

3. Drink More Water

Drink More Water

Last year we wrote a post about water versus soda pop and one of the most interesting facts about the lack of water was that it is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. As we enter the longer, colder months, our bodies tend to want to slow down and lethargy is more prevalent – drinking a few glasses of water easily rectifies that. Plus it helps you flush toxins and curb hunger pangs.

4. Get a Good Nights Sleep

Get a Good Night's Sleep

As the nights get longer our bodies respond by desiring a bit more shut-eye. Although our bodies require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, there are many sleep problems that are preventing some of us from getting that. The good news is there are easy things you can do to ensure a good night’s rest. In this post, we list seven tricks but the most important is to make your bedroom a work-free and gadget-free zone. Leave all electronic devices outside the bedroom and enjoy some shut-eye unhampered by bells, lights, and agendas.

5. Go For a Soak

Go for a Soak

This one is easy, especially as the colder months set in: find yourself a bathtub, hot tub or hot spring and just lie there. That’s it. There are many therapeutic benefits to a good soak but the main one is relaxation; the power of de-stressing is not to be underestimated, especially because balanced hormones lead to balanced health.

6. Get Massaged

Massage

As with #5, this one isn’t that difficult either. There are reasons most cultures on earth have offered some form of massage for thousands of years: not only is it relaxing, it’s also good for your health. In fact, an evening massage is one of the best ways to relax after the day’s activities. It will help prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.

7. Enlist the Help of a Friend

Enlist the help of a friend

In another blog post we listed seven reasons why you should work out with a friend and these apply that much more in the cooler months when it’s easy for us to justify sitting in front of the TV under a blanket instead of getting up and moving. A friend will help keep you accountable but will also make fitness that much more fun.

8. Exercise – Even Just a Little

Exercise

It goes without saying that we here at Mountain Trek are big fans of exercise, no matter what time of year it is. We also appreciate, however, that when the cooler weather sets in, it can be harder to get motivated. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help beat sedentarism some of which are as easy as doing stretches in your office doorway. Remember, though, that to keep your metabolism up and your weight down, your body has to move for at least 40 minutes a day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block.

9. Show Yourself Some Love

Show Yourself Some Love

There are many ways to pamper yourself but the best is to do something you enjoy. It seems like such a simple thing and yet many of us work so hard, by the end of the day we only have energy to sit in front of the TV. Take time in the coming months to do something that recharges your batteries: read a good book by the fire, indulge in a hobby or attend a class. You’ll find you’ll be happier and have more energy to face the cooler weather and shorter days.

10. Book a Stay with Mountain Trek

Book your stay at Mountain Trek

The best way to pamper yourself is to dedicate a vacation to you and your health. Join us in autumn at our gorgeous lodge in British Columbia where you’ll enjoy the pristine mountains and hang out with like-minded friends by the fire, in the natural hot springs, or in our spa.

Related Article: Beating the Winter Blues

Where Do I get my Vitamin D?

When UV rays from sunlight touch the skin, this triggers Vitamin D synthesis. But when sun exposure is at a minimum during the winter months, we can turn to diet to help with our vitamin D intake. Unfortunately, very few foods are high in Vitamin D naturally, and so it is not possible to get all the Vitamin D you need from diet alone. In conjunction with a high-quality multi-vitamin, here are some of the best food sources of Vitamin D:

  • Fatty fish: So very nutritious for you for so many reasons, fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and even seafood such as oysters, contain some of the highest concentrations of Vitamin D in food.
  • Eggs: Not only high in protein and so many other nutrients (Vitamin B12), the sunshine yellow of egg yolks do contain a hearty helping of Vitamin D.
  • Beef liver: Not everyone’s favorite, but when mom said ‘eat up!’ to those liver and onions, she knew what she was talking about as far as Vitamin D’s concerned.
  • Mushrooms: Certain varieties of mushrooms, like white button, can provide Vitamin D among other nutrients (Vitamin B5) when lightly cooked.

Many foods are fortified with Vitamin D for the simple reason that we don’t get enough in our diet, or in general. Almost all milk (and baby formula) in the U.S. and Canada is fortified with Vitamin D as are some orange juices, soy products, and cereals. But please use caution and check labels, as many of these products can contain refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and other undesirables.

What About Sunny Vacations?

Sunny Vacations

Who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing trip to a more sunny clime during the cooler fall and winter months? It’s important, though, to moderate your solar intake while on vacation. So many of us rush to the beach and neglect proper sun care in the quest for the perfect tan. This is definitely more harmful than not having any sun at all. Instead, stay out of the sun when it’s at its peak or cover up with loose-fitting, SPF-rated clothing, hat, and sunglasses.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Smoothie or Juice: How to choose?

Smoothie vs JuicingThere’s a new smoothie and juice bar that opened up down the street from your office, your friend is loving her new smoothie kick, and they even got a blender to add to the staff kitchen at work. Whether you’re already fully on the juicing bandwagon or just curious, juicing and blending smoothies seems to be the latest health fad. But is this just a craze, or should we be incorporating smoothies and juices into our diet long term, because they really are so good for us? And what are the benefits of juicing, versus the benefits of smoothie-ing? In short, the craze couldn’t have come at a better time. With so many more ailments, health issues, and dis-ease coming up in the mainstream population, we certainly can all use several servings of fruits and veggies everyday – and juicing and smoothies are just the way to make this happen. Here we’ll uncover the top reasons to juice and blend, and how you can choose which to go for (or both!) based on your health goals, as well as some great recipe ideas to get you started.

Top Reasons To Juice

Great way to get your fruits and veggies According to the National Cancer Institute, the average American gets only 1.5 servings of vegetables, and no fruit per day. Yikes! Juicing also separates the vitamins and minerals from the pulp, and this allows the body to receive a mega-dose of vitamins that would be difficult to achieve eating that many veggies. Juicing can be a fast, delicious and easy way to get in more servings of the good stuff.

True Hydration Beyond being full of pure, clean water, fruits and veggies are also full of natural electrolytes and vitamins – the original vitamin water and sports drink, combined!

pH balance Our body is in a constant state of re-balancing our pH levels, and most of the time, due to the consumption of caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and being stressed, our bodies are far too acidic. The alkalinity found in leafy green and other vegetables is just what we need to balance it all out.

Detox In addition to hydrating and balancing pH levels, juice detoxes the blood and organs. Enzymes found in the juice work immediately to cleanse the blood, re-energizing the body. Add a little lemon and ginger, and not only are you aiding digestion, but you’re cleansing the liver too.

Juicing Tips:

  • When you juice, you miss out on the fibre in the pulp. But not to worry, no waste necessary – you can mix some of the pulp back in to get a fibre-rich juice, or even use the pulp in cooking, for example; mix into veggies burgers, broths for soups, or cooking rice, etc.
  • When juicing, put through your leafier, less juicy items first, followed by your juicier fruits and veg (i.e. spinach and kale before cucumber and apple). The juicier goods will help push through and extract the juice from the not-so-juicy ingredients.

Top Reasons to Smoothie

Get Your Fruits & Veggies: Like juicing, smoothies provide a fast and delicious way to get loads of fruits and veggies when you might not ordinarily. For our on-the-go lifestyles, smoothies can be that easy way to get your nutrients and daily intake of fruit and veggies.

Protein Punch Not only can we get our daily recommended intake of fruits and veggies from our smoothies, but we can get a protein boost too. There are many different options out there, so ensure you are choosing a high quality protein powder.

Quality Ingredients Since you’re the one blending, you know exactly what’s going in to your smoothie. Understanding healthy smoothie choices means understanding healthy diet choices. This will allow you to have food confidence, and make better food choices when the blender isn’t around.

Improved Digestion A blended meal or snack is pre-chewed by your blender, easing the burden on your digestive organs, thereby leading to healthier overall body function.And because your body is getting such a direct serving of high quality nutrients, chances are you’ll feel fuller longer, cutting appetite, and helping with weight loss.

Smoothie Tips:

  • Nut or seed butters turn a healthy smoothie into a creamy, smoother smoothie. And, they add that extra hit of protein!
  • Your liquid in smoothies needn’t just be water – experiment with almond or rice milk, chilled green or herbal tea, coconut water, or even juice!
  • Next time you feel like dessert, why not go for a smoothie instead? If you can think of a dessert, chances are you can concoct a smoothie with similar flavours. Use vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa powder, sweeten any combo of fruits and veggies with medjool dates or a drizzle of honey or maple syrup.

Incorporating smoothies, juices, or both, to your everyday diet can be a delicious, nutritious way to get many of the vitamins and minerals the body needs to stay energized. So whether you want to lose weight, detox, have the a real food multivitamin, or just enjoy an absolutely delicious meal or snack, blending and juicing can be your answer. Get creative in the kitchen with a recipe or improvise, and be sure to let us know if you come up with a winning combination. Let your culinary creativity go bananas (maybe literally), and have fun juicing and blending!

Healthy Oils: Let’s chew the fat on fats

Healthy Oils

 

For so long, it seemed that we were getting the message that oils were bad for our diet – high in cholesterol, clogging our arteries – until the message, like so many oils, became refined: oils are a necessary part of a healthy diet. As we teach at Mountain Trek, our omega 3, 6 and 9s are an important part of every meal. These fatty acids help with brain function, stabilizing blood sugar levels, nervous system, immune system, and so many other aspects of health; not to mention glossy hair and glowing complexion! What really matters when considering oil is the kind and amount of healthy oils you’re consuming.

In understanding that the oils are an essential part of a nutritious diet and healthy self, we can attempt to integrate this into our meals in innovative and delicious ways. But the information and choices can sometimes be overwhelming; mono-saturated, extra virgin, nut oils, vegetable oils, high smoke point, refined, trans-fat-free… and many, many shelves lined with the options. Let’s turn up the heat and get cooking with the facts on fats!

The Facts on Fats

As the first point of clarification, both ‘oil’ and ‘fat’ have the same important role in the body; the difference is that oil is liquid at room temperature, while fat is solid. At a chemistry level, all fats are made up of triglycerides: a combination of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, hence the triglycerides. This ratio of saturated to monounsaturated to polyunsaturated fatty acids is exactly what defines a particular fat. For example, olive oil is made up mostly of monounsaturated fatty acids, making it a monounsaturated fat. Please remember that although helpful to our health and very delicious, oils are calorie-rich so use moderation.

Monounsaturated fats

Monounsaturated fats are considered the healthiest of all oils, for example, they are good for the heart, as they lower bad cholesterol and maintain good cholesterol. This said, all three oils have their place in good health, and therefore in the kitchen. Perfect for use raw in dressings and drizzles or in light cooking, monounsaturated fats include olive, avocado, sesame, and peanut oils.

Polyunsaturated oils

Polyunsaturated oils have a less stable chemical structure than monounsaturated fats, and as such are more likely to spoil when exposed to heat or light. For this reason, these oils are best stored in the fridge and used raw. Walnut, grapeseed, corn and fish oils are all polyunsaturated.

Saturated fats

Saturated fats are the most stable and are therefore best for high cooking temperatures. This group is mostly comprised of animal fats like butter, but interestingly coconut oil from vegetable source is predominantly a saturated fat too. You’ll want to limit, but not avoid saturated fats.

Related Article: Fiesta Salad With Chicken Recipe

You’ll notice that ‘Trans’ fats fall nowhere into the makeup of the fat molecule triglyceride. And this is true because trans fats are not at all-natural, but human-made. Originally created to extend the shelf life of certain vegetable oils, trans fat is what occurs when an unsaturated oil is injected with hydrogen, thereby making it ‘partially hydrogenated’. The trans-fatty acids that result are exceptionally harmful to health, especially in large doses over time; thus resulting in increasingly bad cholesterol, and negatively impacting heart health.

In fact, trans fats were declared so harmful that a law was passed in 2006, forcing food products to indicate the ‘trans fats’ per serving on their nutritional panel. This is why so many consumer goods are now labeled ‘trans-fat-free’, to indicate they’re using no hydrogenated oils. Products that can still have trans fats include margarine, crackers, chips, and even certain breakfast cereals, so be consumer aware and read those labels!

Oh, Omega 3, 6, 9

What does it mean when we refer to getting our Omega 3s, 6, 9s? Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are two types of essential polyunsaturated fats​. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) ​are fats that your body can’t manufacture on its own and, therefore, have to be provided through your diet, and this is why they’re referred to as “essential.”

Om​ega 9 fatty acids come from the family of monounsaturated fats. Unlike omega ​3 ​and 6, omega 9 fatty acids are not classed as essential. This is because they can be created by the human body from unsaturated fat, and are therefore not essential in the diet​. ​All omegas are important to body function and health!

So Many Oils, Which to Choose?

There are literally dozens, if not hundreds of options out there, and not all oils are ideal for every purpose.

For raw use, like vinaigrettes and marinades, you’re looking for oils that have a delicious, full flavor. Try olive, walnut, flax, or hemp for your next salad.

For sautéing, you’ll want an oil that can stand up to the heat. Try heart-healthy monounsaturated peanut oil for an Asian dish, or for an all-around good choice, try avocado, canola, or coconut oil.

And beyond oils, there are many other sources of fatty acids, including nuts and fish. The trick is to enjoy the unsaturated fats in moderation, limit saturated fats, and avoid trans fats altogether. Have fun getting creative in the kitchen with your so very important omega 3, 6, 9s!


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

Hypertension: How to prevent and manage high blood pressure

hypertension

A condition that plagues approximately 70 million Americans, hypertension is dangerous but can be prevented and managed. With the sedentary lifestyles that are so prevalent in everyday society, it is little wonder that high blood pressure is increasingly common. When the heart is unfit, it has to work overtime, resulting in high blood pressure. The good news is we can manage the condition and can even lower blood pressure back to a healthy state.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a widespread condition in today’s society. Blood pressure is represented by two measurements. The first is systolic and is measured when the heart contracts. The second is diastolic, which is measured when the heart releases/relaxes.

A healthy range for systolic blood pressure is between 100-140 mmHg and 60-90 mmHg for diastolic. A blood pressure reading higher than 140/90 mmHg is considered to be hypertension.

The long term effects of high blood pressure are numerous. Issues like heart attack, stroke, heart failure, damaged organs, and aneurysm are some examples. The World Health Organization has identified high blood pressure as the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality. Symptoms of hypertension include headaches, fainting, fatigue, difficulty breathing, chest pains, and irregular heartbeat. However, many people with hypertension feel no symptoms whatsoever. All the more reason to get your blood pressure checked out by your healthcare professional.

What causes hypertension?

Firstly, hypertension can be broken into two groups. When there is no obvious underlying cause, this is considered primary hypertension. Secondary hypertension is when high blood pressure is caused by another condition.

The causes of hypertension are inconclusive but are thought to include certain conditions and lifestyle choices, including:

  • obesity
  • diabetes
  • kidney disease
  • hormonal imbalance
  • sedentary lifestyle/lack of physical activity
  • insufficient vitamin D, lack of magnesium, potassium, and calcium
  • high levels of salt/sodium intake, high levels of alcohol consumption
  • genetic predisposition
  • certain medication, for example, birth control pills
  • stress

While seriously harmful to our health, the good news is high blood pressure is manageable, preventable, and even reversible.

Hypertension Prevention and Management

Although medication can help with managing high blood pressure, adopting healthy habits is imperative to the prevention and management of hypertension. Practicing healthy life choices can prove so effective in combating high blood pressure that often medication can be avoided. According to the American Heart Association, there are a few main ways to prevent high blood pressure:

Engage in regular physical activity

It’s easy for inactivity to become a way of life when desk jobs and busy life schedules take over. Engaging in exercise not only helps with blood pressure but also helps reduce stress and promotes weight loss. Aim to include aerobic activities that get the heart pumping! But any physical activity is a good thing. 

Enjoy a healthy diet, low in salt and alcohol 

Stick to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, high in fiber and lean protein. In the place of salt/sodium, opt for low or no salt alternatives such as Spike no-salt seasoning, or nutritional yeast. Consume little alcohol and find alternatives, like all-natural sparkling fruit juices, or herbal teas.

Maintain a healthy weight

Those who are overweight are considerably more at risk to develop or have high blood pressure. A benefit to so many aspects of our well-being, even just a little weight loss can help our blood pressure health.

Don’t smoke 

Need we say more? These days, it is undisputed that the harsh chemicals and additives present in cigarettes are unhealthy for all aspects of health, including blood pressure.

Manage stress  

We’ve all felt our blood pressure go up during stressful moments. Managing stressors is imperative to so many aspects of health, and only you know what truly relaxes you. Meditate, go to a yoga class, treat yourself to a massage, spend some time in the backyard gardening, even engaging in regular deep breathing – whatever works for you.

For most people, implementing these regular lifestyle changes can be challenging. But starting small with just one or two changes can improve your overall health, including your blood pressure. Moreover, think of these tactics as ‘lifestyle prescriptions’ to help avoid the doctor’s prescriptions. 

Unlike so many health conditions, hypertension is very manageable and preventable by making these choices. So get moving, enjoy your fruits and veggies, and destress.


What is Mountain Trek?

Mountain Trek is the health reset you’ve been looking for. Our award-winning health retreat, immersed in the lush nature of British Columbia, will help you detox, unplug, recharge, and roll back years of stress and unhealthy habits. To learn more about the retreat, and how we can help you reset your health, please email us at info@mountaintrek.com or reach out below:

The Biggest Loser Fiasco: Tips for Healthy Weight Loss


Recently, the hit reality TV show “The Biggest Loser” had their biggest loser ever: winner Rachel Frederickson lost an astonishing 60% of her total body mass, a total of 155 pounds in just over 3 months. Controversy is flying high in the media around the health and fitness industry, asking the question: Just what is healthy weight loss?

In this special Mountain Trek two-part blog, we will first cover what constitutes healthy weight loss, the potential health risks of unhealthy or too-fast weight loss, and the role of metabolism in all this: how our metabolism works, and how giving it a boost will help us lose weight more efficiently.

Copyright NBC

Over a short period of time, like one or two weeks at Mountain Trek, a metabolic ‘kick start’, through calorie control and extensive exercise can be a very effective way to reboot the body’s metabolism, our fitness, and, very importantly, our own psychology and mind set towards our own weight loss. During a short time frame metabolic ‘kick-start’ like this, losing weight quickly (0.5 – 2 pounds/day) is safe, effective, and encouraging. But limited calories and extensive exercise over a longer time frame can do more harm than good. When you eat severely reduced calories, your body compensates by slowing down your metabolism, allowing it to save calories for energy your body will need to handle its basic functions. Achieving healthy weight loss doesn’t mean only considering the obvious strategy of decreased calories and increased exercise, but considering a more holistic approach that includes stress reduction, detoxification and sleep improvements. This all-encompassing lifestyle approach allows us to balance our hormones, thereby raising our metabolism, and voila, we’ve got healthy weight loss. And after a 2 week intensive metabolism kick-start, all these same components would continue to be the focus for a continued, sustainable, and slower weight loss.

According to the U.S. Department of Health, dieters should aim to lose approximately 0.5 – 2 pounds/week after the first 2 weeks of their regime, for sustainable, healthy weight loss. Rapid weight loss can result in numerous health risks, including: loss of bone mass, increase in bone marrow fat, which can in turn lead to increased risk of bone fractures, heart attacks or high blood pressure, gall bladder stones, kidney failure, thyroid problems, excess estrogen, osteoporosis, and the list goes on.

Our philosophy is to promote wellbeing and fitness through healthy habits and lifestyle choices geared towards long term success – and with this comes numerous benefits (increased energy, better sleep, better body functions, etc.) including weight loss!

So here’s to a fit, healthy you! Until next week, when we look at metabolism, and its role in our weight and health.