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Nutrition Buzzwords that You Need To Know (Especially on Food Labels)

If you follow some of the most popular health and wellness influencers today, you might hear them using jargon or buzzwords that you may not understand. 

But we're here to clear the air. 

Not only do we use these terms regularly online, but they're becoming common place for anyone dealing with health issues (physical health, chronic disease, mental health, etc.), especially when we start looking past regular medicine for help. 

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Here are some terms nutrition buzzwords that you should know: 


Microbiome

There are many different microbiome's in your body: your gut microbiome, skin microbiome, lung microbiome. 

Basically it's any area in your body that is made up of microorganisms (so, basically your whole body). These microorganisms include bacteria, yeast, fungi, even viruses. In fact, your body as a whole is called the "human microbiome". 

You can even think about it as your own little rainforest, where everything grows in conjunction with one another, and keep each other inline. One animal, eats another, and the right weather allows everything to flourish. But once one element is out of balance, the whole forest can be in danger. 

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Functional Medicine

This is the "new practice" of medicine, pioneered by Dr. Mark Hyman. In reality, many of the beliefs here are based out of ancient practices that we just forgot along the way... and some of them are as basic as eating real food. 

Functional medicine looks at how we can use food, and lifestyle to change our health, rather than reaching for a prescription or buying the "quick fix". 

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Adaptogens 

Adaptogens are natural ingredients (usually taken in supplement form), that help our bodies to adapt and find balance. In many cases, these adaptogens actually have the same effect on our body as they do on the environment. 

One popular example is Maca. This is a root that is known to help balance hormones for both males and females, helping us to adapt to stressful situations, boost libido, and balance issues related to hormone imbalances like PMS and menopause. 

If you want a little more information, or tips on how to use them, check out our blog post here

FODMAP Diet

FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols. These are small carbohydrates that exist in some foods (even the healthy ones), that can cause issues for people such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and digestive upset. 

When people can't digest these properly, they end up at the end of your large intestines, create gas or cause liquids to be drawn into the intestines, resulting in the symptoms outlined above. 

Some common culprits include: Fructose, lactose, fructans, galactans, and polyols. 

If you deal with issues like IBS, this may be the diet for you. Healthline has a detailed overview of the diet and how you can incorporate Low-FODMAP eating to your diet. 

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Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is the end result of a long road of pushing your adrenal glands and cortisol production. However, this tends to be confused with adrenal exhaustion, which is the point we hit before complete fatigue.

Essentially, both occur when we force our bodies to overproduce cortisol against our natural cortisol curve (highest in the mornings, and lowest in the evenings and at night). Cortisol is released via our adrenal glands when we are stressed–from work, driving, family issues, etc.–as well as from stimulants like coffee and sugar. 

You may want to speak with a naturopath or holistic nutritionist if you're seeing symptoms like, constant fatigue, jitteriness, feeling "wired, but tired," feelings of anxiety. 

Inflammation

Inflammation isn't always the villain that it's made out to be lately. In fact, inflammation is essential for healing: broken bones, cuts, torn ligaments, sprains, etc. all need inflammation as it's part of the normal immune response. 

Where the problem lies is in chronic inflammation, especially in areas like our digestive, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems. Chronic inflammation can lead to long-term illness, and this is where supplements like Omega-3 and turmeric come in handy. 

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Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent Fasting (I.F.), comes in various forms. Fasting can be as little as 12 hours, or can last for multiple days consuming very few calories each day (i.e. 600) in a short timeframe. 

IF has been shown to have multiple health benefits, including weight loss, and assisting with digestive issues. By giving your body time to actually rest, you focus energy on healing other areas of the body rather than on digesting food. 

Check out this blog post to find out if I.F. can help you reach your fitness goals. 

 

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Collagen

It seems that everyone plus their mothers are using collagen supplements (...maybe that's just my mom). But that's for a good reason! 

Collagen is a protein that is found in your body and makes up many of your parts, including your skin, bones, ligaments, hair, and tendons. While vitamins C and A are essential for helping with collagen production and repair, when using direct sources of the protein, there is less risk for damage and destruction. This means that the collagen is going directly where it's needed. 

Not sure how to use collagen? Try it out in this coffee, or add a scoop into a smoothie.  

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Buzzwords you might see on labels (that don't mean it's healthy!): 

Sugar-free is only designated to mean packaged foods that don't have refined cane sugar. This means that some foods labelled "sugar-free" can have other sweeteners that are still high in sugar. 

Gluten-free usually means it's been processed (sorry!). If you are looking to reduce the amount of gluten in your diet, it's best that you stick to real foods that don't come in a package, like fruits, vegetables, antibiotic-free meats, and whole grains. 

All natural doesn't mean all healthy. Some sugars are "natural," as are some means of processing that actually remove a lot of the "healthy" aspects of food, such as pasteurizing fruit juices. 

Organic can also include candy, and chips, sugar, pop, etc. However, if your choices are between a bag of Ruffles Crinkle Cut chips and organic kettle cooked chips, go with the latter. But we say stick to the produce section if health is your end-game. 

Superfood isn't actually a certified name, and really any food can be super (and actually many are)! When choosing "superfoods" like seeds, fruits, or veggies, go for the real stuff rather than dried. Cereals with "added superfoods" are usually covering up the fact that you're just eating sugar. 

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