Nutrition

Learn more about Nutrition and it’s effect on living a healthy lifestyle. Nutrition is a factor in stress and weight gain.

Five Weight Loss Must-Haves for Every Kitchen

No doubt you have a fair few gadgets in your kitchen but there are really only a handful that are needed in order to ensure you stick to a healthy weigh-loss regimen. Here they are:

#1. Kitchen Scale

If you really want to get serious about weight loss then it’s important you understand portion size. Purchase an inexpensive food scale and weigh your food before you eat it. You’ll be surprised by how much you underestimate the amount you eat.

yellow-retro-kitchen-scale#2. Smaller Plates

Of course you can hold onto your larger plates for when you’re entertaining guests but for your regular, daily meals you should have a stack of plates handy that are no more than 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. That way you’ll ensure your portion sizes aren’t too large.

selection-of-plate-sizes-and-bowls

#3. Good Measuring Cups and Spoons

Like the kitchen food scale, these items are essential for maintaining portion sizes. You can be more free-form with the spices, but when it comes to fats, proteins and carbohydrates, it’s best to measure.

pink measuring cups and silver measuring spoons

#4. Water Jug

Having a beautiful looking jug on your counter top that’s always filled with room-temperature water will encourage you to drink more of it.

Three-glass-water-jugs

#5. Pedometer

OK, technically this isn’t a kitchen gadget but if it resides in your kitchen where you spend a lot of your time, then you’ll be more inclined to use it. Pedometers come in all shapes and sizes and most are inexpensive. Keep one around your kettle or breakfast food area so that when you wake up in the morning it’s there to remind you to get in your 10,000 steps per day.

pedometer

Bonus: A Tablet

Like the pedometer, this one isn’t exactly a kitchen gadget either, but with a tablet (or laptop or smart phone) you’ll be able to access recipe sites and social media sites, such as Pinterest, that offer excellent, delicious and interesting dishes to try. And in the near future there will be a Mountain Trek app that you’ll be able to use as well. Stay tuned for more about that exciting development!

tablet-in-the-kitchen

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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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7 Crucial Healthy Eating Tips, 5 Easy Nutrition Tips & A Recipe

Tips for Staying Healthy

Does this sound a bit like your lifestyle:

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

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)?

Well, let’s take a step back and look at not only the types of food you’re consuming, but how you’re eating them. Our modern-day culture stresses what kinds of food to eat (by the way, there’s a reason there are so many diets fads in the world – it’s because none of them work) but not a lot of sources are concentrating on how and when you eat food and its impact on your overall health. And now that we’re heading into the holiday season, especially Americans who are about to celebrate Thanksgiving, it’s more important than ever to stress some key healthy eating tips.

Meal Timings

Meal Timings

#1. 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, 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 to this is to eat some form of food within a half-hour of waking and three things will happen:

  • You’ll kick-start your metabolism for the day
  • You’ll be supporting your circadian rhythm and will have more energy
  • You’ll 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 most 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 and
  • You reduce your evening blood sugar levels so insulin doesn’t store 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. Not only will you benefit from eating within the first nine hours of your day, you will also feel better if you consume multiple food groups every three hours during the day. 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:

  • Keep your blood sugars steady and avoid spokes and insulin response from eating just a few large meals
  • Avoid the “famine” response and resulting 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

Meal Composition

Meal Composition

As we mentioned above, not only is it important to watch what you eat, it’s also important to watch how much and when you’re eating it. At Mountain Trek, we honor people’s choices when it comes to vegetarianism or veganism but we believe it’s crucial to combine multiple food groups at each meal and snack. So whether you get your protein from meat, beans, certain leafy greens kale, or our delicious homemade protein bars (avoid store-bought ones as they’re full of calories, among other things) you should be eating it at every meal. Likewise complex carbohydrates (think slow-cooked oatmeal, not white bread and most cereals, which contain refined sugar and starches) and vegetables and fruit. We should also stress that we prefer local, fresh, organic, and unprocessed foods (stay away from the center aisles at the grocery store), and as much variety of them as possible. 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:

#1. 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 (or 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 avoid 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

#2. Lunch should be two-thirds vegetables and a third protein with a small dairy component or substitute.

#3. Dinner should be made up of the following: a half vegetables, a quarter complex carbohydrates, and a quarter protein with a small dairy component or substitute. This is because:

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

#4. 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!

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Afterglow Almond Butter Dressing Recipe

Afterglow Almond Butter Dressing Recipe

This is the most sought-after recipe at Mountain Trek and for good reason: it’s delicious and makes you want to eat salads!

Ingredients:

3⁄4 cup organic smooth almond butter
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos – (may use tamari if Braggs is not available – start with 1⁄2 Tbs. if using tamari)
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 crushed garlic clove (or 1⁄2 teaspoon minced)
1 teaspoon curry powder
3⁄4 c. water
1⁄4 tsp. veggie broth powder
1⁄4 teaspoon salt as needed to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Purée until smooth. Chill. Use on cooked vegetables or as a salad dressing. Will keep refrigerated for one week.
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Five 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. They are:

Drink your food; eat your water

#1. Drink Your Food; Eat Your Water

In other words, eat slower, chew more, and swish your water around in your mouth before you swallow. Not only will this help initiate the breakdown of carbohydrates with saliva enzymes and ease digestion, you will allow time for the vagus nerve to communicate when you’re full, thereby avoiding over-eating.

Eat Out Less

#2. 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 over-sized portions, lots of empty calories, and fat. We’re not saying never go to restaurants, but perhaps limit it to once-a-week or special occasions.

Drink Less Alcohol

#3. 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 at Thanksgiving and Christmas, 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.

Minimize Artifical Sweeteners

#4. 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.

Explore the Sour Eight

#5. 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 in terms of vitality 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?

 

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Food Addiction: How to beat it, for good

Food Addiction We’ve all been there: you get to the grocery store, with only the best intentions, and somehow when you get to the checkout, you wonder how those chips and cheese dip made it into your basket. Or you go to the kitchen, with the clear idea of that you will be getting that apple and almond butter for your afternoon snack, and find yourself going for a few cookies instead. Food addiction is a very real phenomenon that affects almost everyone, whether we know it or not. But the good news is, like any addiction, we can overcome it and train ourselves and our brain how to make healthy, better food choices instead.

How does food addiction work?

If you’ve ever tried to kick a food habit, you know just how much of a challenge you’re facing. Sometimes it can feel demoralizing, thinking you’re weak-willed or glutinous, and although personal responsibility and empowerment do play a factor, the reality is that food addiction (like any addiction) is biochemical – your brain chemistry and hormones play the main role in your sugar, fat and carb cravings.

When we consume these sugary, fatty, or refined carby (and usually pretty palatable) foods, the pleasure centre in our brain releases dopamine, the feel good hormone. As outlined in Dr. Pam Peeke’s new bestseller, The Hunger Fix, research shows that as a result of consuming these ‘feel good’ foods, the pleasure centers light up in your brain and release the feel good hormones, having a very similar biochemical effect in the brain as cocaine and heroin. No wonder these food cravings can be hard to resist.

But, unlike drugs that we do not need to survive, we do require food to survive. So the patterns and choices made by a drug addict can be dropped cold turkey, where as we cannot just stop eating food altogether. This makes food addiction one of the most difficult addiction battles one can face. Yet, by managing our cravings in ways that line us up for success, we can manage addictive food behaviours, eventually kicking the cravings to the curb, for good.

How do we stop food addictions?

Detox
To break free from these addictive substances, we have to be rid of them by detoxing our bodies and brains. Yet, as mentioned above, this can be difficult since we do need to keep eating something – when we are treating a cocaine addict or an alcoholic, we don’t say ‘practice moderation’ and prescribe only one drink or line of cocaine per day. Literally resetting your metabolism is the sure way to eliminate these toxins, chemicals, and addictions from our bodies, ideally through a well designed Program like at Mountain Trek, in an environment that will set you up for success.

Eliminate Temptation
Don’t buy those sugary goodies to have in the house, do not let yourself drive by that fast food joint on the way home. If that means enlisting a supportive friend to go grocery shopping with to keep you focused on the list, or changing your drive route home, do it. Enlist the support of those you live with to please refrain from bringing these things into the house. Do not give yourself the opportunity to make the choice – eliminate it entirely.

Practice Mindfulness
It isn’t realistic to think that once we decide never to have processed sugar again, we won’t. There are birthday parties, coworkers who bring in baking, and the holidays. If we practice the Mountain Trek rule of thumb of 5 days on 2 days off in a week, this allows for the realistic flexibility of everyday life. If in those moments where we are choosing a sugary treat, carbs, etc., we take a moment, and ask; “is this what I really need right now?” Simply by backing up from the situation, and looking at it with fresh composure, rather than mindlessly opening that beer, will allow us to connect to our choices – sometimes the answer will be yes, I really do need this piece of birthday cake, and sometimes the answer will be no, I am actually good to have a few pieces of fruit from that platter instead, and either answer is fine. The point is to be present when making food decisions, so that we become accustomed to always being present when making food decisions.

Practice Compassion
Combatting a surge of chemicals and hormones is not an easy feat. En route to this new lifestyle change of cutting out food by quantity or quality, practice compassion towards yourself. It can be easy to go into a guilt-shame spiral if you step out of sync with your new found regimen, but by showing yourself grace and an attitude of non-judgement, it will be easy to continue on the path of success.

The more we are aware of the biochemical forces at play, the more we can stop judging ourselves and start practicing mindfulness, eliminating temptation, and detoxing, on the journey to better choices, and better health.

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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 taught at Mountain Trek, our omega 3, 6 and 9s are an important part of every meal, those fatty acids helping 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 a 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 ‘tri’glycerides. 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 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 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 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.

You’ll notice that ‘Trans’ fats fall no where into the make up of the fat molecule tri-glyceride, and this is indeed because trans fats are not at all natural, but human made. Originally created to extend the shelf life of certain vegetable oils, a 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, increasing bad cholesterol and decreasing good cholesterol, 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 labelled ‘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 it’s 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 flavour. 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 mono unsaturated 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!

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Reduce Dehydration

Proper Hydration During Your Stay

Do you get enough water each day? With all the other beverage options available, how could we? Yet, without water we could not survive. Hydration is one of the most important factors in health. In fact, research has shown that drinking five glasses of water throughout the day decreases the risk of colon cancer by 45%, bladder cancer by 50% and breast cancer by 79%. Also, lack of water is the #1 trigger of daytime fatigue. Thankfully, drinking a few glasses of water easily rectifies it. (Consider that the next time you reach for an afternoon coffee.)



At Mountain Trek we make sure you stay fully hydrated all day long. Proper hydration helps flush our unwanted fat cells and toxins held within our bodies. To release those quickly, lots of water is required. Besides, when you taste the water at our BC lodge, you’ll want to keep coming back for more. Our fresh, clean spring water that is UV treated tastes sweet it’s so good – definitely better than the chlorinated well water that comes out of most of our taps.

Spa Cuisine

Our all-inclusive spa style menu does not include stimulants or caffeine. The diet is designed for maximum use of water to flush fat and toxins.

Water Sources

At our British Columbia lodge, the mountain spring water is UV filtered and available from all taps. You will want to drink more as the sweet refreshing taste is memorable.

Full Hydration

A water bottle and hydration pack is provided for your hikes and fitness classes. A drink is always just a reach away. The more you drink the better the results.

Spa & Sauna

We’ll make your body thirsty in a controlled environment to help reduce toxins and release fat cells. Lose that weight in the sauna and replace it with good clean water.

Feeling Vitamin D-ficient? How to top up on the Sunshine Vitamin this Winter

Feeling Vitamin D-ficient?  Now that we are well and truly into the middle of winter, are you feeling a little low on energy? Could be that you’ve come to your ‘D-day’, a time in the year when your Vitamin D is at an all time low. But the good news is, this is easy to top up with a high quality multi-vitamin and some delicious nutrient rich foods!

Vitamin D, necessary for healthy bone density, calcium absorption, and even depression prevention, is provided naturally to us in two main ways: by the sun’s UV rays, and through our diet. Yet, in these winter months when the sun is low in the sky and usually cloud covered, most of us aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. By the time spring rolls around, many of us are Vitamin D deficient. To help us stay topped up on this important player in the body’s functioning health, we’ve taken a look at what foods we can incorporate into our diet to get this necessary nutrient. But first, why exactly is Vitamin D so essential?

Why is Vitamin D so important?

Often correctly associated with bone health, Vitamin D does a lot more for our overall health and body function than it’s usually given credit for. In addition to being absolutely necessary for bone growth and repair, Vitamin D also aids calcium absorption in the gut, is responsible for the modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune system function, and reduction of inflammation. No question that this Vitamin’s role is crucial to our body’s functioning health!

Where can 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 and UV exposure (in moderate amounts, where possible), 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. Please note that dairy products (cheese, yogurt, etc.) are not usually fortified with Vitamin D like milk. Some orange juices, soy products and cereals are often fortified with many supplements such as Vitamin D, but please use caution and check labels, as many of these products can contain refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and other undesirables.

Although there is no substitute for sunshine, we can always help ourselves with high quality supplements, and the highest quality supplement of delicious, nutritious food! We wish you a wonderful, healthy rest of winter…and don’t forget, when the sun does comes out on those beautiful frosty days, don’t forget to go enjoy yourself outdoors for that dose of Vitamin D!

Everything you Need to Know About Sodium

Salt

If you’ve ever used the phrase, “Pass the salt please?” chances are there’s too much salt in your diet. While a certain amount of sodium is necessary for our bodies to function properly, the majority of us sprinkle salt far too liberally.

In this post, we take a look at one of humanity’s oldest seasonings, how it impacts our bodies and how to monitor our intake.

Are salt and sodium the same?

No. Salt is a compound called Sodium Chloride while Sodium is a chemical element (Na) found in the Earth’s crust.

What does Sodium do?

Sodium is an essential nutrient for human beings because it regulates blood volume, blood pressure, osmotic equilibrium and pH levels in our bodies. Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly. In fact, each of us needs a minimum of 500 milligrams of sodium a day. This is where salt, or Sodium Chloride, enters the picture. It’s the principal source of sodium in the human diet and one of our most ancient and ubiquitous food seasonings – in fact, for thousands of years, salting has been an important method of food preservation.

What are some sources of Sodium? 

Sodium occurs naturally in most foods such as celery, beets, milk and even our drinking water (although the amount varies depending on the source). These days, unfortunately, most of our sodium intake comes from processed foods: Monosodium glutamate, sodium nitrite, sodium saccharin, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and sodium benzoate can be found in items such as Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, onion salt, garlic salt, potato chips and bouillon cubes. Processed meats like ham, sausage and bacon and canned soups and vegetables are all examples of foods that contain a lot of sodium. And of course, a drive-thru at McDonalds, or any other fast food restaurant, will leave you filled with food that’s extremely high in sodium.

Can too much salt/sodium in your diet be harmful?

Absolutely. At Mountain Trek we recognize every person is unique and recommended sodium intakes will vary based on age, metabolism, amount of exercise/sweat, medications, etc. However, Health Canada sets the adequate intake of sodium for women at 1500 mg daily, and a tolerable upper intake level of 2300 mg/day. How much exactly is that? Well, 2300 mg is the amount of sodium that’s found in one teaspoon of salt. And recent research shows we’re consuming a lot more than that. The average North American man consumes about 3500 mg of sodium every day and women consume 2500 mg. There large amounts promote hypertension, an ailment that causes 7.6 million premature deaths worldwide. If you’re chronically eating a diet that’s high in salt you are at risk of high blood pressure, which in turn increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are also some studies that suggest too much salt consumption can increase the risk of osteoporosis and kidney problems.

Sodium and exercise

Ask any Mountain Trek client who’s hiked 10km with us and they’ll tell you that they sweat. A lot. And when you perspire, your body loses sodium, potassium and other essential minerals and nutrients. If you’re hiking, jogging, kayaking or doing any athletic activity over long distances, and you don’t rehydrate properly, you could be contributing to a decreased blood/sodium concentration. And the result might be ringing in your ears or mild heart palpitations. (In extreme instances you could succumb to hyponatremia, a condition similar to dehydration in which nausea, muscle cramps, disorientation, slurred speech, and confusion may occur.) Does that mean you should drink Gatorade every time you exercise? Absolutely not! Gatorade is full of sugar and it’s not an effective electrolyte replenishment tool. (For more about, electrolytes, check out our blog called “Electrolytes – Myth Busted!”)

Every body responds differently to exercise and therefore our sodium needs vary. Fortunately at Mountain Trek our team of nutritionists and chefs are all looking out for you 24-7. Before we head out on the hiking trails we make sure you’re getting the proper amount of sodium in you diet through our delicious meals and once on the trail our experienced guides monitor how you’re feeling all along the way and have electrolyte supplements like Vega Sport on hand.

How to lower your salt intake

There are five easy ways to lower your daily salt consumption.

  1. Avoid processed foods as one small meal could have twice the recommended daily intake of sodium. Stick to whole foods, vegetables and fruit.
  2. Cook with less salt
  3. Drink lots of water to flush excess salt
  4. Sauna or steam to sweat out excess salts
  5. If you’re experiencing a craving for salty foods, try these seasoning alternatives:
  • Garlic powder (not garlic salt)
  • Roasted garlic
  • Granulated sea kelp or sesame seeds
  • Onion powder (not onion salt)
  • Lime or lemon juice
  • Veggie Salt
  • Nutritional Yeast
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