Read the Latest Articles
Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson

Katie Jackson, Nutrition Therapy Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Foundational Nutrition in Appleton. She offers either local or remote consults. For more information, call 920-257-9964, email [email protected] or visit www.foundational-nutrition.com.

What if losing weight, healthy digestion, having more energy, lifting your brain fog and managing chronic health conditions was in your control? Well, it is!

It’s about changing your eating habits! Choosing nutrient dense foods, greatly reducing the sugar and processed foods, adding healthy fats and eating meals with all the macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).

Most of us in the U.S. have been following the recommended standard American diet (SAD) for the past 30 years or more by eating low-fat, whole grains and avoiding cholesterol. And food manufacturers have made it so easy for us! We have convenience food on every corner and most of them we don’t even need to get out of our cars to pick up. How can this diet be healthy for us when our numbers of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and other chronic health conditions are on the rise? Because we stopped eating “real” whole nutrient dense foods.

Our American diet consists mainly of processed and refined foods that are stripped of minerals and nutrients in the manufacturing process. Yes, often those are added back in, but mostly in the form of synthetic, chemical compounds that our body doesn’t recognize or know how to deal with, causing some major nutrient deficiencies.

We have plenty of food available to us, but we have become undernourished despite the fact that we’re overfed. “Clean eating,” “real food,” “nutrient dense” or whatever term you give it, means avoiding processed and refined foods, and sourcing your diet from nutrient-dense whole foods. Eating a whole foods diet gives you proper nutrition through real nutrients that your body recognizes as food — the raw materials, the fuel — it needs to run efficiently and at peak performance.

The basics of clean eating

1. Avoid processed food. Processed foods are any food with a label. Become a label reader and look at the ingredients. If you can’t recognize or pronounce any ingredient, don’t put it in your cart. If you must eat processed foods, try to eat foods with no more than 3-5 recognizable ingredients on the label.

2. Eat whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are natural and have not been tampered with through manufacturing or processing. When you eat clean, you eat foods from the farm. The bulk of your meals should be fresh vegetables along with grass-fed, free-range meats and eggs or wild caught seafood, organic whole milk dairy, along with raw nuts, seeds and fruit for snacks.

3. Eliminate refined sugar. Research is showing sugar, not saturated fat, to be the culprit behind many of our current health issues, so decreasing your intake of sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) and sweet foods will benefit your overall health. Refined sugar offers no nutritional value and is actually quite addicting. Use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and limited fruit. Try coconut palm sugar, which, with a much lower glycemic index than refined sugar, also contains amino acids, B vitamins and trace minerals.

4. Choose sea salt over table salt. Table salt is a refined product that is mined from the earth and then stripped of its nutrient value through chemical processing. Sea salt, on the other hand, is obtained directly from the evaporation of seawater. It is not usually processed and therefore retains trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and other nutrients.

5. Eat healthy fats. Using the right healthy saturated and unsaturated fats and oils is essential to good health — in fact, it’s essential to the structure of every cell in your body and especially your brain health. This is the hardest change for most people to grasp after years of being misled that fat will clog your arteries and cause heart disease! Hydrogenated oils, trans fats and “butter” spreads, along with processed vegetable oils should be avoided as they are pro-inflammatory and can cause arterial damage. More importantly, eating healthy fats makes food taste great and keeps you satiated longer!

6. Combine carbs with protein and fat. When you snack or eat a meal, make sure your meal is balanced. It’s important to combine carbohydrates with protein and fat. By consuming all three macronutrients at a meal, you will maintain even blood sugar (by slowing the digestion of carbs), be satiated longer and fuel your muscles. Enjoy apple slices with cheddar cheese, hummus with carrot sticks, almond butter and raisins on celery sticks, or eat green olives stuffed with almonds, and liberally add butter to your steamed broccoli or baked potato.

7. Enjoy your food. Whether you are eating by yourself or have dinner companions, take time to sit down and enjoy your food without distractions. Focus on the smells and the flavors as you thoroughly chew each bite. Enjoy the clean food that is nourishing your body and your being. This alone can improve your digestion and will give your stomach a chance to signal your brain as you start to become full.

Your rewards for clean eating

Clean eating can feel a bit overwhelming at first, but by taking baby steps you can make small changes every few days. If you make mistakes, don’t beat yourself up. You’re only human. Just start fresh with your next meal or snack.

  • A deliciously satisfying diet
  • Regulated blood sugar
  • More energy and mental clarity
  • Less muscle aches and joint pain
  • Weight loss
  • Better digestion 
Friday, 31 August 2018 15:29

Back-to-school breakfast ideas

It’s back-to-school time and along with that comes hectic mornings of getting the kids off to school. The thought of what to make for breakfast is the last thing on our minds. We can’t expect them to sit for several hours a day, alert and focused, if they’re riding the blood sugar roller coaster! That’s why it’s so important to provide them with a nutrient dense breakfast, not carb loading with cereals, bagels and waffles. Striving for an overall healthy balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbs) to provide a steady stream of energy is something we should ALL aim for.

These breakfast ideas are quick and easy to prepare and can even be done ahead of time! Better yet, have your kids help with the process so they can eventually make them on their own and you can relax with a cup of coffee!

Yogurt and Granola Parfait

Note: Make sure to look at the sugar content of yogurt as it can have a lot of added sugar, high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients that aren’t nutritious. Plain Greek yogurt is your best option.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt

3 tablespoons low sugar granola

¼ cup berries

Optional honey for sweetness

Optional flax, pumpkin or chia seeds for more crunch

Breakfast Tacos

Ingredients:

Scrambled eggs

Cheese

Breakfast sausage

Chopped up spinach

Tortilla

Instructions: Layer all ingredients into the tortilla and roll like a taco.

Breakfast Scrambled Egg Muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup ham, bacon or breakfast sausage cooked

1/2 cup baby spinach

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 cup fresh mushrooms

2 tablespoons onion

1/4 cup red bell pepper

1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray (the better you spray, the less it will stick!) or use thick muffin liners (such as high quality silicone liners).

In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs. Add in remaining ingredients and mix together. Scoop 1/3 cup of mixture into each muffin liner. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the center of the muffin is completely cooked.

Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

Avocado

Salt

Splash of lemon juice

Instructions: Simply mash all ingredients together and spread on a piece of toast. You can add an egg on top for extra protein too!

Breakfast Salads

Ingredients:

Spinach, kale or other greens

Butter or ghee

2 eggs

Choice of meat: Sausage, bacon, ham or leftover burgers or brats

Instructions: Sauté greens and add meat choice. Arrange as a salad.

Protein Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 serving of protein powder (look for a powder that has minimal ingredients, grass fed whey, and no artificial sweeteners)

Instructions: In a Mason jar, layer all ingredients, wet and dry together, cover and put in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, mix all together. If you want to add a little sweetener, choose stevia, monk fruit, honey or maple syrup.

Grain-free, Gluten-free and Dairy-free Pancakes

Note: Makes 4 small pancakes

Ingredients:

1 banana mashed

2 eggs

1 tablespoon coconut flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Instructions: Mash banana until lump free. Add eggs and mix with fork. Add coconut flour and vanilla, mix with the fork then let sit while the coconut flour thickens. Heat a frying pan with butter, and add some of the mixture to make 4 pancakes. Serve with bacon or breakfast sausage to complete this meal!

Recently I took a poll asking my social media friends what they wanted to learn more about. By an overwhelming response of mental health, I knew that there was a need for information. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, dementia, attention-deficit disorder, autism, post-traumatic stress disorder and many other mental health disorders are on the rise, and we need to start talking about these topics and not let shame stand in the way.

With more and more selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) being prescribed, yet the diagnoses continuing to rise, we have to ask the question: what is being overlooked when treating with just medication? I firmly believe nutrition, gut health, environmental toxins, sleep and lifestyle choices all play a major role in mental health, all of which prescription medications are not addressing. We need to stop masking the symptoms with medications and get to the root of the problem. By making some lifestyle changes we may be able to avoid medications, take control of our physical health and optimize our mental health as a result. That’s exciting!

Let’s start by looking at diet

Dietary nutrients are critical for a healthy brain structure and function, which both have an impact on our mental health. Certain nutrients in our diet make up neurotransmitters — chemicals that send messages to our nervous system via the gut-brain axis. Our mood is directly affected by how efficiently these messengers communicate throughout the nervous system. To simplify, neurotransmitters can either be calming or stimulating and ideally we want a balance of both. All the neurotransmitters have the ability to affect our mood, sleep, energy, memory, even cravings! If these go out of balance they have a direct impact on our mental health.

So how do we make neurotransmitters? Through the food we consume! Specific nutrients, such as protein, break down into amino acids, which are the building blocks to these messengers. So if we aren’t consuming enough protein or not breaking it down through the digestive process, we will be lacking the amino acids to make neurotransmitters. Certain minerals and vitamins also play a major role in converting amino acids into neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are dependent on proteins, vitamins, minerals and proper digestion! If the gut is not working properly, resulting in gut permeability (allowing undigested food particles to pass through the intestinal wall) this will cause an immune response. That immune response will cause inflammation, which is another big contributor to a decline in mental health.

Inflammation can be the result of so many different factors: allergies, infections, sugar, environmental toxins, processed foods, emotional/physical stress, intestinal permeability and the list goes on. When our immune system responds to a stressor, inflammation is the result. In the world we live in it is difficult to completely avoid stress, but when we can decrease the stressors that are in our control we can improve our health. When we start to decrease inflammation in the body and dampen the immune response we can begin to heal. There is a saying, “gut on fire, brain on fire.” Both of these fires need to be addressed to optimize our mental health.

We need to start talking about mental health and release any shame or guilt that may be associated with it. It’s critical for our future generations to start implementing a nutrient dense diet, stress management skills, reduction in environmental toxins and quality sleep. It may seem unimaginable that food can have so much power over our mental health but all of our body systems depend upon the foundation of proper nutrition. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2018 00:10

Do you want to gain a competitive edge?

By changing your nutrition, you can achieve a continuous flow of energy, leading to an athletic performance that is longer, stronger, faster, and quicker! Athletes of all shapes and sizes need to pay attention to what goes into their body and how they are fueling up before the big game.

We’ve all heard that before a game or tournament we need to “carb load,” drink extra fluids with electrolytes (usually a sports drink) or consume a lot of fruit to give us quick energy. Unfortunately, that advice is not helpful when you want your energy to remain stable for prolonged periods of time. You may feel a quick burst of energy but that will be followed by a dip, which could lead to a decline in athletic performance, mental slowness, fatigue, jittery, lightheadedness, craving more sweets, and feeling down right miserable. During a game or athletic performance is not the time we want to be feeling this.

Sugar is one of those sneaky substances that you might ingest too much of without knowing. A 32-ounce sports drink has 56 grams of sugar, not to mention artificial food colorings, artificial flavoring and brominated vegetable oil! That really doesn’t sound like a sports drink worth drinking. Along with the typical sugary sports drink, many young athletes are eating snacks from the concession stand or grabbing a quick bite to eat between games. Most of those food selections are made up of processed/refined carbs (white breads, pretzels, chips), vegetable oils (soybean oil, canola oil) and lacking a good amount of protein. These foods are not only unhealthy because of their ingredients, but also the meal in general is not balanced. Not having enough protein (which is what our bodies need after a tough game or workout to help repair and grow muscles) unhealthy fats and too many carbs, will leave our bodies feeling sluggish. It is important to eat a balanced meal. For example, 30 percent protein, 30 percent fat and 40 percent carbohydrates. This will help keep our blood sugar regulated, energy constant and we’ll be able to focus on our athletic performance.

Dangers of processed and refined sugars and carbohydrates

Here is a brief explanation on what too much sugar and refined carbohydrates does to your blood sugar. According to The Whole Journey, “Blood sugar refers to glucose carried in the blood stream. Glucose is the immediate source of energy for all of the body’s cells. The levels of glucose in the blood are monitored by the pancreas and are tightly regulated by several hormones. The body has the ability to store glucose in the form of glycogen in the muscles and the liver. When sugar or refined carbs are digested, they are initially absorbed in the small intestine. However, they do not enter the blood circulation directly and have to go to the liver first.

“Under hormone control, the liver will release an appropriate amount of sugar into the blood stream to make it available to other cells, especially the brain... the body’s natural response to deal with the sugar overload is to release insulin into the blood stream to uptake the sugar molecules. However, the body doesn’t always know when to stop releasing insulin, which can then create low blood sugar, and that is what we call ‘the crash.’ When the body’s blood sugar is low, moodiness, irritability, and cravings come into play making you eat more sugar and thus promoting a vicious cycle... sugars aren’t the only culprit. Simple and refined carbohydrates such as white rice, pasta, and potatoes are also broken down into simple sugar molecules once they hit the small intestine, creating a similar response in the body.”

So you may be wondering how to fuel your body in order to get the best athletic performance and have constant energy throughout the game. Fueling with nutrient-dense foods that are low in sugar, not processed and properly balanced are the most ideal. So what does that mean, carbohydrates before and after a workout or game, good quality protein and healthy fats? All of these macronutrients should be consumed (Again, I recommend 30 percent fats, 30 percent protein and 40 percent carbs) to keep blood sugar balanced.

Some examples of each of these are:

  • Carbohydrates: Carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, rice, bananas, apples, berries.
  • Protein: Beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, bacon, fish.
  • Fats: Nut butters, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, almonds, cashews.

Keep in mind, using a protein powder after a workout or in between games can also be useful, but look for a powder without too many additives, sugar and with a grass-fed whey source.

When eating a balanced diet of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (whole foods low in sugar) you will have energy, stamina and an athletic performance that will be sure to make you stand out! 


Reference: “Eight steps to balancing blood sugar.” The Whole Journey. https://thewholejourney.com/balancing-blood-sugar/.

Feeling exhausted, depressed, cold, brain fog and can’t lose the extra weight? It could be that your thyroid isn’t functioning properly.

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that sits right below your Adam’s apple. This vital endocrine gland plays a key role in both energy metabolism and temperature regulation. It’s also important in sex hormone metabolism, cholesterol regulation, heart rate, bone health, fertility and cognitive function. In fact, every cell in the body has receptors that respond to thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland becomes imbalanced, thyroid hormone production gets thrown off and things can go awry causing seemingly unrelated symptoms to manifest throughout the body.

The thyroid gland uses iodine and tyrosine to make thyroid hormones T4 and T3. It is important that neither of these hormones are too high or too low. The hypothalamus releases a hormone (TRH) that tells the pituitary gland to release a hormone (TSH) to the thyroid gland, and the thyroid gland then makes T3 and T4 hormones. Those hormones eventually make their way into the cell nucleus. A lot can happen along that pathway for the thyroid to not be producing adequate levels of T3 and T4.

When testing thyroid function, it is common to only test TSH levels. If that number falls within a “normal” range, their thyroid is considered optimally working. However, there are many more markers that ought to be considered to fully understand the health of the thyroid. 90 percent of thyroid disease (in the US) is autoimmune, so testing for thyroid antibodies as well as T4, T3, Free T4, Free T3, and reverse T3 gives us a better picture of how the thyroid is functioning.

Symptoms of under-active thyroid: fatigue, sensitivity to heat and cold, hair loss, cracked heels, depression, menstrual problems, muscle pain, fluid retention, constipation.

Symptoms of over-active thyroid: nervous, anxious, irritable, irregular heartbeat, sleep problems, frequent bowel movements, weight loss.

Why is thyroid disease so hard to diagnose? There are many factors that can impact the function of the thyroid:

  • Inflammation, which can be a result of an infection, allergy or illness
  • Stress (cortisol suppresses the release of TSH from the pituitary)
  • Insulin resistance
  • Dysbiosis, imbalance of the intestinal bacteria
  • Thyroid medication
  • Iron deficiency
  • Environmental toxins
  • Birth control or hormone replacement therapy

Nutrition is often overlooked as a viable way to support a healthy thyroid. Many people are overeating processed sugars, refined flours and poor quality fats causing nutrient deficiencies that are critical for a healthy thyroid. It is important to eat foods rich in selenium, zinc, iodine, tyrosine, omega-3s and many antioxidants. Some people may also be sensitive to various dietary triggers (gluten, dairy, corn, soy), which can lead to increased gastrointestinal permeability (aka “leaky gut”), chronic inflammation, and a possible elevation in thyroid antibodies that would show the presence of Hashimoto’s disease (autoimmune hypothyroidism). The diet can also be an environmental source of toxins (pesticides, BPA, heavy metals, etc.) that can also hinder the function of the thyroid.

Through dietary changes and improvement of gastrointestinal, gallbladder and liver function, it is possible to restore the health of the thyroid. The thyroid is a small yet very complex gland that affects all cells in our body. It is crucial to our health to have a healthy thyroid! 

Katie Jackson, Nutrition Therapy Consultant and Certified Personal Trainer, is the owner of Foundational Nutrition in Appleton. She offers either local or remote consults. For more information, call 920-257-9964, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.foundational-nutrition.com.

Subscribe Today
Community Partners Directory
Find a Complimentary Copy
Community Calendar