Every body is different, but when it comes to looking and feeling our best, there tends to be a steady crop of reoccurring questions and concerns. That's just one of the insights clinical nutritionist Jessica Sepel has learned since launching JSHealth App, an innovate app that gives members direct access to a team qualified nutritionists as well as access to meal plans and guides.
"As a function of this app, it was crucial for me to provide a platform where people can access qualified lifestyle and nutrition advice," the Australian-born, California-based nutrition expert tells MyDomaine. "Using our unique in-app messaging service, app users can join the live JSHealth forum and have their health questions answered by our team of qualified nutritionists." So far, there have been hundreds of questions from the community, and Sepel has noticed a pattern. Ahead, she spotlights the five most common health questions she's asked on the app—and more importantly, her answers.
Question 1: Which foods should I eat to support gut health and reduce bloating?
"Gut health involves so much more than what we eat. It can be impacted by a myriad of things including stress, sleep, our activity levels, medications, and our eating behaviors. Take care of your gut microbiome by eating a whole food diet; minimizing your intake of sugar, wheat, grains and gluten; and taking a probiotic under the guidance of a medical practitioner. Here are some other handy tips:
1. Try to consume probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods: Probiotic-rich foods include kefir, fermented veggies (sauerkraut, kimchi), some yogurts, tempeh, and miso. Prebiotic-rich foods include garlic, onion, leeks, asparagus, under-ripe bananas, avocado, whole grains, peas, and artichoke.
2. Reduce your intake of artificial sweeteners, white carbohydrates, sugar, alcohol, chewing gum, and carbonated drinks as these can create gas in the stomach and cause bloating.
3. Add apple cider vinegar to a large water bottle and sip it throughout the day. This helps to stimulate the gastric juices, which aids digestion.
4. Ensure you slow down at meal times, eat slowly and chew 10 to 20 times with no distractions to encourage mindful eating. Remember to breathe while eating.
Question 2: My skin is breaking out. What can I do to improve my complexion?
"When it comes to skin health, it really is a reflection of what's happening inside. The two best pieces of advice I can give are to take care of your gut and liver. For gut health, follow the principles I outlined above. Often, skin blockages can be caused by a clogged liver. A liver that's not functioning optimally can lead to hormonal imbalances. To detoxify your liver, minimize your intake of alcohol and caffeine. Increase your intake of brassica vegetables, which contain detoxifying enzymes.
Eliminate excess sugar and fructose, all processed and packaged foods that contain additives, sweeteners, and avoid diet foods."
Question 3: Over the years, I've struggled with my weight. How do I find weight balance?
"To find weight balance you need to change your mindset from focusing on weight to focusing on health. Always remember that our health is not a reflection of our weight alone or a number on the scale. Focus on other measures of health including how you feel, your energy levels, your physical fitness and also your happiness. We aim not to focus on numbers of any sort as we are all so beautifully unique and have very different needs that vary from day to day.
"My other tips are to ensure that your thyroid is functioning well and to take care of stress levels, as high cortisol is linked with weight gain. Also, eliminate foods that don’t support blood-sugar balance. The Daily Meal Planner in the app contains nutritionally balanced recipes that are designed to support energy production, satiety and long-term health. My eight-week program tackles all of the principles listed above. The program has effectively helped thousands of women give up dieting, throw out their scales and find freedom with food."
Question 4: Lately, I've noticed that my hair has been thinning and falling out. What can I do to get stronger, thicker hair?
"Hair health really comes down to your diet, so make sure you're eating healthy carbs, proteins, fats. In my clinical experience, I've found that there are four essential minerals for hair growth: iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron. My range of vitamins for hair and energy are rich in both iodine and zinc, which are believed to aid hair growth. Also, ensure you take care of stress levels and check your thyroid functioning."
Question 5: How can I beat the 3 p.m. slump and reduce sugar cravings?
"Ensure you're including a quality source of protein and healthy fats at both breakfast and lunch. Protein and fat are the most satiating macronutrients, which means they help to stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent afternoon fatigue and sugar cravings. Add a slow-releasing complex carbohydrate source to your lunch, such as quinoa, brown rice, sweet potato, or pumpkin. Here are some other tips to beat sugar cravings:
1. Stick to one coffee a day and drink it before 10 a.m.
2. Ensure you're drinking enough water. Aim for two liters each day, and extra if you're exercising.
3. If you feel a slump coming on, get out and go for a quick walk. Sometimes fresh air and sunlight is just what you need for an energy boost.
4. Enjoy a chai tea with a dash of almond milk and a sprinkle of cinnamon for some natural sweetness.