BODY: Matcha Made in Heaven

Matcha’s popularity over the last few years has remained constant in a health industry that is perpetually on the hunt for the next superfood supplement. Much like the rise of drinks containing the detoxifying properties of chlorophyll, charcoal and turmeric, many cafés now offer matcha teas, lattes and baked goods. Matcha powder is incredibly versatile so you can add it to your diet in the form of tea, smoothies, coffee or cake.

Similar to green tea, matcha is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant, however the extra benefits come from the way it is grown. Matcha tea plants are covered 20-30 days before harvest to shield them from direct sunlight; by doing this, the chlorophyll production is increased and boosts the amino acid content which gives the plant a darker green colour and vastly increases its nutrient benefits.

Matcha contains nutrients from the entire tea leaf, rendering a greater level of caffeine and antioxidants than you would typically find in green tea. Some scientific studies have shown that matcha can help protect the liver, promote heart health and assist in weight loss.

Much like green tea, matcha is rich in catechins: a specific class of plant compound that acts as a natural antioxidant and is commonly found in tea, cocoa and berries. By consuming a healthy amount of natural antioxidants, you can help your body stabilize free radicals, which are the potentially harmful compounds that can damage your cells and cause disease. By adding matcha powder to hot water and make a tea, you actually release more catechins than steeping green tea leaves in water. The result is a high-power antioxidant rich (and caffeinated) drink!

Matcha has been shown to help protect the liver from damage; our livers are responsible for flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs and processing nutrients so it’s vital we keep them running smoothly. One study gave diabetic rats matcha for 16 weeks and found that it prevented damaged to the kidneys and liver. Another study was conducted using green tea extract and showed that after 12 weeks the liver enzyme levels were reduced; elevated levels can be a sign of liver damage.

In studies using test tubes and rats, green tea extract (similar to matcha) was found to decrease tumor size and slowed the growth rate of breast cancer cells in rats. Matcha in particular is high in EGCG, a type of catechin that has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties. One test tube study found that the EGCG in matcha helped kill off prostate cancer cells; other test-tube studies show that EGCG is effective against skin, lung and liver cancer. While further testing is necessary to determine the effectiveness in humans, the initial results are promising.

Consuming matcha has been shown to help protect against heart disease and reduce levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) as well as triglycerides. When combined with a healthy diet and exercise, using matcha may help heart health and increase protection against heart disease and stroke, one of the leading causes of death for people over the age of 35.

Most weight-loss supplements use green tea extract; it has been shown to help speed up metabolism and increase fat burning. A review of 11 different studies showed that green tea reduced body weight and also helped maintain weight-loss. Given the higher efficiency of matcha in all other areas, it is likely to render the same results. (1)

Some tests have shown that by consuming roughly 4 grams of matcha may help enhance brain function. A 2017 study in Food Research showed that people who drank matcha tea experienced an increase in attention and processing speed an hour later, benefits which strongly outweigh drinking tea or coffee. This increase in attention, alertness and memory is likely due to matcha’s L-Theanine (a polyphenol called EGCG) and the higher concentration of caffeine. The L-Theanine also helps extended wakefulness without an energy crash, while boosting alpha brain wave activity to help decrease stress levels. Splurging on a matcha latte every now and again could be the solution to the afternoon slump. (2)

While the benefits of supplementing your diet with matcha are many, as with any health supplement, moderation is key: liver problems have been reported in individuals who drank 6 or more cups of green tea per day. This equals about two cups of matcha tea, given its higher concentration. Adding 4 grams of matcha to your diet a few times a week until you get used to it is a great start. Matcha is easily found in many health food stores, grocery stores, and online. My local grocery store carries matcha and I have been adding it to smoothies and oatmeal with great results; I’m less likely to crave or need coffee on days I supplement with matcha. As with anything, make sure the supplement is right for you before incorporating it on a regular basis.

Citations:
1. Link, Rachel. “7 Proven Ways Matcha Tea Improves Your Health.” Healthline, 10 Oct. 2017, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-benefits-of-matcha-tea.
2. Gainsburg, Marissa. “9 Benefits of Matcha Tea That Will Make You Want To Drink It Every Day.” Womens Heath Mag, 22 Apr. 2019, https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a27127259/matcha-powder-benefits/.

SOL: Champagne Problems

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Four days of relentlessly pounding pavement in Amsterdam have left me absolutely knackered. I’m fairly certain my feet have eroded and I’m hobbling on stumps at this point. My whirlwind tour was 110% worth it and my only regret is that I can’t spend more time here. I am already anticipating my future stays in this captivating city. Dank je wel, Holland!

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Considering I decided to be carefree and careless during my tourist session this is my dinner – thrice times super juice and green tea. I wanted to indulge in everything Amsterdam has to offer. Life is too short to not sample the coffee, stroopwafel and poffertjes! I regret nothing.

I have another hellish trip back to Paris on the night bus, arriving around 7AM tomorrow and then it is my LAST DAY IN EUROPE. The past few months have flown by; it feels like it was just yesterday I was planning this adventure as a way to pass time at work.

I want to thank everyone who has followed my posts thus far and to my friends and family who have supported me and kept in touch throughout my journey! I am so absolutely blessed to have such amazing people in my life.

Safe travels,
AS

BODY: Grilled Avocado

BODY: Grilled Avocado

Have I mentioned my slight (read: all-consuming, literally) obsession with avocados?

I love them. I eat them daily, use them for face masks and hair masks, and would happily run away to live on an avocado farm for the rest of my life.

Aside from adding avocado to sandwiches and salads, last summer I discovered the mouth-watering appeal of the grilled avocado.

Easiest meal ever: half the avocado, remove the pit, place both halves in tin foil. Drizzle some coconut oil and add any seasoning you like. I add the Clubhouse Cajun mix, even though it’s full of sodium because it tastes So.Damn.Good.

Toss it in the oven (350 degrees) or on the BBQ for 10-15 until the top has browned and it’s sizzling.

I eat it out of the skin using multigrain crackers like Wheat Thins, but you can serve in with tortilla chips, pita, or whatever you like!

Some health benefits of avocado include:

Healthy Fats: While you might be tempted to shy away from avocados because they are high in fat, (three quarters of the calorie count), have no fear! Avocados contain monounsaturated fat which has been proven to reduce bad cholesterol and lower your risk of stroke & heart disease.

Vitamins & Minerals: Avocados contain Potassium, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and B Vitamins to keep your inner and outer appearance healthy & glowing!

Dietary Fiber: Avocados contain approximately 11 grams of fiber, which is half of your daily quota.

Waist Not, Want Not: People who eat avocado on a regular basis have been shown to have a lower body weight, BMI and waist circumference than those who don’t.

Clean Body, Clean Mind: Avocados contain glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps fight free radicals in the body. It also boosts the immune system, prevents dementia, slows the aging process (!!!) and encourages a healthy nervous system.

F*ck Cancer: Avocados are rich in phytochemicals which have been reported to prevent certain cancers. The chemopreventative characteristics of avocados show that they offer a dietary advantage in the prevention of cancer.

Try it now!
Namaste,
AS

BODY: The Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

On several of the fitness blogs I follow on social media, I’ve recently seen a huge spike in the mention of apple cider vinegar to obtain weight loss and overall better health. I began to question whether it actually lives up to the hype, especially for the purpose of digestion problems, of which I’ve noticed I’ve been getting increasingly as I change my diet.

Apple cider vinegar has been credited with assisting in diabetes, heart health, high cholesterol, weight loss, poor digestion and metabolism.  Apple cider vinegar, affectionately referred to as ACV, is most effective when unpasteurized or organic, as it contains “the mother” of vinegar, which makes it thicker and amber colored.

What has it been proved to actually do? I had to find out if this “miracle” tonic is the one thing missing from my health and fitness regime.

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After reading up on apple cider vinegar, I decided to purchase some of my own. Numerous sites claim Bragg’s is the best brand available, but really any organic brand so long as it contains “the mother,” makes it effective. Most common cupboards do not contain the right type of apple cider vinegar. Living in Canada, I was a little worried I would have to trek to Whole Foods, however I found it easily in Loblaw’s organic section – $6.99 for a litre of organic ACV.

Please take note! Apple cider vinegar is HIGHLY acidic. Make sure you mix one or two tablespoons into 500ml of water. If the concentrate of ACV is too high, it will actually erode your enamel and your esophagus. Please be careful – never take “healthy shots” of pure apple cider vinegar unless you want your mouth to singe off. Not fun! Not healthy! Make sure to dilute before drinking.

What can it do? ACV has been credited with the following:

  • Stomach/intestinal problems: Mix a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar into water, (I prefer hot water), and drink promptly. Thanks to its antibiotic properties, if your problem is bacterial the ACV will help clear it up immediately.
  • Prevents indigestion: Adding 1 teaspoon of honey and 1 tablespoon of ACV to a glass of warm water and drink it 30 minutes before you eat any potentially problematic meals. It will help ease the foods transition through your digestion. When added to salads and vinaigrettes, it can help reduce bloating, gas, and heartburn.
  • Diabetes: ACV helps in maintaining blood sugar levels! Non-diabetics can benefit from this as well, because insulin will not direct sugar to be stored as fat. It also slows down starch digestion, which helps lower glucose levels in the bloodstream.
  • Clear skin: Apple cider vinegar is a powerful astringent and antiseptic. It can help in prevention and treatment of acne.
  • Helps sore throats and sinus problems: The minute you feel a sore throat, drink ACV! The acidic environment created by the drink will kill most germs. Mix 1 teaspoon of ACV with 1 cup of water and gargle occasionally.
  • Helps beat exhaustion: Exercise and stress can cause a buildup of lactic acid in the body, resulting in fatigue and lingering exhaustion. The amino acids that are present in ACV act as an antidote. Not only that, but they also contain potassium and enzymes that relieve fatigue. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons to a glass of water and chug!
  • Protects against cancer: ACV contains beta-carotene, which has antioxidant properties that fight damage from free radicals. It can help protect against cancer and boost the immune system.

I started drinking my ACV drinks about two weeks ago, and I can see small changes in my health. I tried drinking it cold, mixed in with water and a small amount of fruit juice, but initially even a 1 tablespoon to 500ml water mix was too strong! The organic ACV has a powerful, overwhelming taste and it takes some time to get used to it. Try mixing it with small amount of honey or apple juice until you become accustomed to the taste.

I now drink it first thing in the morning when I wake up, because, much like hot water with lemon juice, it is excellent for flushing out your system and jumpstarting your metabolism. It helps by stimulating circulation and aids in detoxification of the liver. It also helps cleanse your body by breaking up mucus throughout the body and cleansing the lymph nodes to allow for better lymph circulation. A healthy lymphatic system can remove toxins from the cells in the body while improving immune system response. When I wake up I add two tablespoons of ACV to a medium sized mug and drink it like tea as I get ready. Wait thirty minutes after drinking before you have breakfast, so it can work its way through your system. This will cleanse your body each morning and help you control cravings. As with any detox process, I did notice I initally had some cramping and breakouts, but after a few days it passed! I find drinking this mixture in the morning has helped me cut coffee and energy drinks out of my diet – an added bonus.