In celebration of International Women's Day and Women's history month, and as women-owned business I wanted to share a bit more about my story, why I built this beautiful space for the community and have a deep passion for providing healthy meal options you can incorporate into your everyday life.
My love of cooking goes back many years, which eventually developed into a true passion I felt had to be shared with others. Many people come to the cafe for the clean, organic food and will often ask about little things they can do to improve their health. As my slogan and the saying goes, "let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food". It is something I not only believe, but LIVE every day. Surviving cancer years ago solidified that certain foods should be eliminated from our diets, and I do my best to bring that into the offerings we provide at Mettacasa. On our Instagram you'll see regular foods for inspiration and others to avoid, which is also covered monthly right here in the blog. My goal is to help whoever I can, whenever possible, while providing education on the benefits and the detriments of the foods we keep in our kitchens and put in our bodies.
So, how did I finally decide to open Mettacasa? After having cancer and during my yoga teacher training, I had a vision about owning my own cafe and yoga studio…which (as many of you know) manifested in 2019! While the pandemic had its challenges, it gives me such joy to continue my journey and passion for food and wellness in our wonderful community.
This month I want to focus on Carotenoids and their impact on women’s overall health. You might be thinking, Caroteno-what?? Well, Carotenoids essentially refer to the color of the fruit or vegetable and as women, we need to be eating more of them! Officially, they are any of a class of “mainly yellow, orange, or red fat-soluble pigments, including carotene”, which give color to plant parts. Think yams, kale, spinach, watermelon, bell peppers, tomatoes, oranges and carrots. These bright-colored fruits and vegetables jump right out at you at the grocery store and are particularly helpful in preventing visual and cognitive loss (we all need help with our brains as we age!). You might be wondering why I’m focusing on the ladies for this article, and from the research it’s simply because our bodies are different. The way we store fat for childbearing is a big part of it but on average, we also live longer than men. According to an article from the University of Georgia, “One of the reasons for this vulnerability has to do with the way women store vitamins and minerals in their bodies. Body fat serves as a significant sink for many dietary vitamins and minerals, which creates a useful reservoir for women during pregnancy. This availability, however, means less is available for the retina and the brain, putting women at more risk for degenerative problems.” Lack of Carotenoids can cause a variety of illnesses and ailments, from autoimmune diseases to dementia and more. Adding more of these antioxidant fruits and veggies to your diet can also help in:
Reduced risk of breast cancer: Some studies have suggested that women who consume high levels of carotenoids may have a lower risk of developing breast cancer. This is because carotenoids can help to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation, both of which are thought to play a role in the development of cancer.
Improved skin health: Carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin are known to support skin health by protecting against UV damage, reducing inflammation, and improving hydration. Women may be particularly interested in these benefits, as they tend to be more concerned about their skin's appearance and health.
Reduced risk of macular degeneration: Macular degeneration is a leading cause of blindness in older adults, and women are more likely than men to develop this condition. Studies have suggested that consuming carotenoids such as lutein and zeaxanthin may help to protect against macular degeneration.
Improved reproductive health: Carotenoids such as beta-carotene and lycopene have been linked to improved fertility in women. They may also help to reduce the risk of certain pregnancy-related complications, such as preeclampsia.
Overall, while both men and women can benefit from consuming carotenoids, there are some specific reasons why it may be particularly important for women to ensure that they are getting enough of these important nutrients in their diet. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms by which carotenoids provide these benefits, as well as the optimal amounts and sources of carotenoids for different health outcomes. Heather Eliassen, Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology talks about her findings in-depth and says, “As chair of an international collaborative group, I led a pooled analysis of 8 cohort studies and showed that higher blood levels of carotenoids, prominent in fruits and vegetables, significantly reduced breast cancer risk, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.”
At the end of the day, you only have one body so treat it as best you can. We all have the things we love to eat or drink, just try to manage those in moderation and read up on the effects those things can have on your body in the short, and the long-term. My goal is always to get these nutrients via natural sources like those mentioned above but there are supplements out there as well. Please join me in celebrating and supporting all the women who took and continue to take chances on themselves, the ongoing work they do to develop their passions and for all the little things they do every day! Happy International Women's Day and Women's History Month!
Join us in April 2023 for a cooking class and demonstration with an oncology dietician where we’ll highlight foods to help with seasonal allergies and increasing Carotenoids, then follow the class with a meditation. Follow our Instagram and visit our events page to register!
To learn more about the ingredients we use for our Vegan and Vegetarian meals at the Mettacasa Café or to get help in cooking easy 5-ingredient meals, reach out to me for a free consultation or visit us to grab some vegan / vegetarian food to-go. Let’s figure out how to make it easy to look at the end of your fork and get excited about what you’re putting into your body.
To your health and happiness,
~Sam, Founder of Mettacasa
*Disclaimer: As always, please consult your doctor before trying any new supplements as many can interact with OTC and prescribed medications. I am not a medical doctor and do not diagnose illness or prescribe treatments of any kind, all information provided is to enlighten and educate on various health options. I am a nutritional consultant and will make suggestions relating to nutrition but none of the information offered here is intended to replace any program that your chosen health professional has prescribed for you. Please make sure to consult with your healthcare professional before adopting new nutritional regimens.