This episode features CY Iwanegbe, life coach, fitness expert, and founder of BRIO – an online wellness platform designed to help individuals unlock their super strength from within. Together with renowned chef and UpMeals CEO Drew Munro, they explore how CY’s experiences and adversities transformed him to find his true calling of motivating people to take action and turn those dreams into a reality.
Q. What do you do for yourself to recharge?
“Create space for yourself to create new memories and let the creative juice flow. Don’t check your emails, completely unplug.”
Chef Kim Vo arrived as a refugee in Canada at the age of 2. She now runs a plant-based Vietnamese ghost kitchen and catering concept. Her experiences with food at a young age were the inspiration behind the launch of her innovative take on classic Vietnamese dishes. Learn more about her story of overcoming adversity and breaking tradition to chase her dreams.
“Ever since I switched to a plant-based diet, I feel a lot better and more energized. It’s also a more sustainable choice as a chef.“- Chef Kim Vo
🎧 Listen to the full episode to learn more about her journey and the benefit of a plant-based diet!
The hospitality industry has been one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic. In this episode, our CEO, Drew Munro talks to Kevin Mazzone, General Manager of Lazy Gourmet Catering & Events about how the pandemic has transformed businesses and how human connection through food has survived via catered virtual events.
“You have to schedule self-care to recharge, you’re going to be better off for it and better off longer for it.“- Kevin Mazzone
A healthy gut is the key to optimal health! In this episode, Sam and Natalia dive into the importance of gut health and a few tips you can start implementing now to support your gut so that you can feel your best.
“80% of your immune system is working in the gut.” – Natalia
Want to learn how you can optimize your gut health? Listen to the full episode here:
Vancouver, BC, July 27th, 2022 – UpMeals is pleased to share that it has been accepted into Durham College’s Hub for Applied Research in Artificial Intelligence for Business Solutions (AI Hub), a centre of excellence that enables small- and medium-sized enterprises to develop and adopt complex AI solutions to improve productivity and efficiency. The AI Hub offers industry partners access to technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and platforms, and student talent.
“We’re thrilled to be one of only ten businesses accepted into the AI Hub program this year,” said Drew Munro, Co-founder and CEO of UpMeals. “This experience will provide us with invaluable research, data and modeling as to how we can expand the AI within our machines to better service our customers.”
The AI Hub will provide approximately 240 hours of service over 12 weeks from students and research associates to assist UpMeals with early-stage research and development to create an AI project prototype, accelerating the feasibility of a proposed AI solution, the quality of the datasets and development opportunities. This will result in a working prototype, supporting code and other materials to execute and scale the prototype for commercialization.
“We look forward to expanding the AI capabilities of our SmartVending machines, offering tailored recommendations on each of our machines depending on item popularity, time of date, consumption trends and more. Just as a streaming service recommends programming based on your history, soon our SmartVending machine interfaces will offer similar functionality to get the right product to the right user to drive sales and reduce waste,” continues Munro.
UpMeals had previously received advisory services and funding support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to develop and bring to market the UpMeals App.
UpMeals is a food accessibility platform on a mission to make healthy, nutritious meals available 24/7. Innovative SmartVending machines, direct to consumer eCommerce, and B2B solutions provide custom, healthy, sustainably packaged meals that meet the highest food safety standards. UpMeals uses proprietary AI-driven software to create their custom meal solutions and reduce food waste. Using the data collected from their platform, UpMeals uses their software to improve menu offerings based on user feedback and popularity.
About the AI Hub
Housed within Durham College’s Office of Research Services, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, the AI Hub offers small and medium enterprises a much-needed access point to the rapidly growing field of AI. By offering industry partners access to technical expertise, state-of-the-art facilities and platforms, and student talent, businesses can uncover valuable insights while receiving intelligent and autonomous solutions that increase organizational productivity and growth. The AI Hub services are supported in part by funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). Companies interested in how AI and digital transformation can enhance their businesses are encouraged to visit www.durhamcollege.ca/theAIHub or contact the AI Hub team directly via email or phone at 905.721.3223.
UpMeals currently has an open financing round and is inviting investors to participate in the opportunity.
To download the deck and terms, please visit the link below:
PCOS, or polycystic ovarian syndrome, affects about 1 in 10 women of child-bearing age. If you’re one of many affected, there are diet and lifestyle changes you can make to reduce or overcome your symptoms.
What is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)?
PCOS is characterized by hormonal imbalances, it involves not only the reproductive hormones, but also hormones that regulate blood sugar, appetite and fat storage. The symptoms of PCOS include painful or irregular periods, acne, abnormal hair growth, increased appetite, weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
Women who have PCOS often develop metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. PCOS has been linked to obesity, and as obesity levels have risen globally, PCOS has also become a common diagnosis. However, weight is not the only factor linked to PCOS diagnosis. Almost all women who suffer from PCOS have a degree of insulin resistance, also known as pre-diabetes. The first line of defense against PCOS is diet and lifestyle changes. The primary goal is to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
Ways to improve insulin sensitivity through your diet
(Please consult your doctor before making any drastic changes to your lifestyle)
Lose weight Weight loss helps improve insulin sensitivity, and you won’t need to reach a goal weight to benefit. Even a small amount of weight loss will help with symptoms of PCOS. For example, if you have a goal to lose 50 pounds, and lose 10, then this will still make a big difference in PCOS symptoms. You will want to aim to lose weight at a pace that can be maintained for a long time. Crash diets that cause fast results will be followed by rebound weight and can do much more harm than good.
Be more active Exercise is another great way you can improve insulin sensitivity. It also helps rebalance reproductive hormones. Doing a combination of aerobic exercise (anything that can get your heart rate up for 30 minutes per day) and strength training is the best option.
Eat regularly, but not too frequently Many claim that eating every 2 or 3 hours is best, however spacing out your meals can help improve insulin sensitivity. Instead of snacking or having smaller meals throughout the day, try getting used to eating more substantial meals and waiting 4 to 5 hours before eating again.
Multiple health issues, from stress to chronic disease, are associated in one way or another with sub-optimal gut health. So, tending to our digestion and maintaining a healthy gut can help us optimize our overall well-being and steer clear of unwanted disease.
When we talk about “the gut” we are referring to the GI tract and all the living microscopic entities that live within it known as gut flora or gut microbiome.
Here are 10 rules (five “do’s” and five “don’ts”) to support your gut microbiome to keep healthy levels of bacteria and other necessary agents that keep our guts functioning well.
What is the gut microbiome?
The terms gut microbiome, gut flora, or gut microbiota, all refer to the microscopic organisms that live within our bodies. Each one of us has billions if not trillions of live organisms that live symbiotically within us. The gut microbiome is specifically the lot of microorganisms that reside in the GI tract.
The digestive tract is all colonized by living organisms that support digestion as well as other processes in the body. These include bacteria, fungi, and archaea and are all referred to as “healthy bacteria” among other names.
Our bodies are colonized by these microorganisms through many natural processes including natural childbirth, breastfeeding, exposure to nature, and consuming probiotic-rich foods.
The gut microbiome plays a key role in many bodily processes from the proper metabolism of food, to immune defence and brain function.
The risks of a weak gut microbiome
A healthy gut microbiome will generally maintain the body’s processes and can keep us healthy and lively. However, when the gut flora is disturbed, decreased, or threatened, many health issues can arise.
When healthy, our gut microbiome keeps unhealthy bacteria at bay. But if threatened through factors like unhealthy diets, stress, medication, and other elements, it can be significantly reduced or weakened.
The condition of having a reduced or imbalanced gut microbiome is known as dysbiosis. A state of dysbiosis allows space for unhealthy or irritating agents to take over and colonize the GI tract. This disbalance of healthy and unhealthy gut microorganisms can lead to developing gut-related issues like SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth), intestinal candidiasis (yeast overgrowth in the gut), leaky gut (the permeable gut lining that allows toxins to leak into the bloodstream), and other digestive system dysfunctions.
These digestive disorders at first glance could seem like not much of a threat, but if left unattended for enough time they can lead to major health issues.
Poor functioning of the gut microbiome has been linked to many conditions on a physical and mental level. Leaky gut syndrome for example is known to increase the risk of developing chronic diseases like autoimmune disease, metabolic syndrome, and even cancer.
On a cognitive level, poor microbiome health has been linked to conditions such as ADHD, ASD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and even Tourette’s syndrome.
Mood disorders like anxiety and depression also seem to have a direct correlation with gut microbiome levels.
Needless to say, taking care of our gut health can bring great rewards to our overall physical and mental health. So let’s dive into what we can do to strengthen our gut.
Gut health “don’ts”
There are several things that can be aggressively detrimental to gut health and that you might want to avoid as much as possible. Let’s look into some of the biggest threats to gut health:
Although useful (and necessary) in acute cases, antibiotics should not be taken lightly, and in most cases should not be taken long term. Antibiotics kill all bacteria and microbial life (both good and bad) in your gut.
If you are prescribed antibiotics, talk to your healthcare provider to see whether there are any alternatives for treatment. Antibiotics are often over-prescribed and taken with less thought than they should, and unfortunately, many health care professionals won’t address the adverse effects that these can have on your health. Often, if the situation is not an urgent case, a second opinion might be insightful in this area.
Many people who have been on long-term antibiotic treatments pay the price heavily with all sorts of microbiome-related issues. In fact, the long-term use of antibiotics is a significant predisposing factor in the development of autoimmune diseases.
If an antibiotic regime is indeed necessary, a healthcare professional might suggest adding a probiotic supplement regime to counteract the damage. Sticking to this regime is crucial for proper damage control.
2. Sugary Foods:
Unhealthy gut bacteria thrive on simple sugars, and when unhealthy bacteria thrive, healthy bacteria start to lose territory. Limiting foods such as desserts, pastries, candy, sweet drinks, and added sugars can help starve some of these unhealthy bacteria so that they don’t overpower healthy organisms.
Alcohol also disturbs gut health by feeding unhealthy bacteria and hurting healthy bacteria. In excess it acts as an inflammatory agent, creating inflammation in the body by disrupting the gut barrier (leading to that dreaded leaky gut syndrome mentioned above).
4. Processed Foods:
Heavily processed foods like fast foods, artificially flavored foods, and many “diet” foods are full of added chemical ingredients that disturb microbiome balance and contribute to inflammation. Staying away from heavily processed products as much as possible is generally a good rule to support gut health.
The relationship between the gut and the nervous system is bilateral, so the gut affects the nervous system as much as the nervous system affects the gut. Chronic stress has been shown to contribute to gut dysbiosis and inflammation.
Taking time to rest and recover, and practicing healthy stress coping skills can help your gut flora stay strong amidst stressful moments.
Gut health “do’s”
1. Eat Real Foods:
Healthy bacteria is designed to thrive on healthy, real, and natural foods.
Diets with plenty of fresh vegetables, quality protein sources, healthy fats, and moderate whole grains and legumes are best to help support gut health.
The mediterranean diet for example is known for its anti inflammatory, and nutrient rich characteristics.
2. Supplement With Probiotics:
Probiotics are live bacteria you can consume through food or supplements. Taking probiotic supplements can help recolonize the gut with healthy bacteria after it has taken a toll. Taken regularly these supplements can also work as a preventative, maintenance regime.
Talk to a healthcare provider to see if this is a good option for you and what sorts of probiotics you would do best with; this is important because randomly taking probiotics can actually dysregulate gut microbiome balance.
3. Know Your Prebiotics:
Prebiotics are basically food for your gut bacteria. Prebiotic rich foods include garlic, onions, apples, fresh vegetables, chicory root, flax seeds, and more.
There are also prebiotic supplements in the market. Although these can be helpful and convenient at times, sticking to eating real, unprocessed foods is always the best call for overall health.
4. Fermented Foods:
Fermented foods are a powerful source of prebiotics and some of them like yogurt even contain live healthy bacteria. Eating fermented foods like kefir, yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, can help support healthy gut organisms.
In the case of having known colonization of unhealthy bacteria (conditions like systemic candidiasis and others), these foods should be limited until the unhealthy agent has been eliminated or is under control, as many of these foods also feed and strengthen unhealthy bacteria.
5. Get Good Sleep:
The quality, efficiency, and duration of our sleep can affect our gut microbiome. Studies have shown that significant changes to sleep-wake cycles can affect the balance of the gut microbiome.
Gut flora is sensitive to circadian rhythms, so a sleep routine with a steady bedtime and wake-up time can help maintain the balance of our gut microbiome.
UpMeals is pleased to share that it is feeding the minds, hearts, and bellies of Facebook’s Vancouver employees. Some of the city’s brightest will indulge in custom-created meals, curated according to their food preferences using our proprietary software. UpMeals and the Facebook team collaborated on a unique menu that ensured specific meal preferences and nutritional guidelines were met. Breakfast, lunch and snack menu items will be provided to Facebook employees fresh daily, with new meals entering the rotation on a regular basis to ensure all eating preferences are accommodated and to keep things fresh and exciting.
“Partnering with an incredible organization like Facebook to ensure their employees are equipped with nutritious, satisfying meals is an unforgettable opportunity,” said Drew Munro, Co-Founder and CEO of UpMeals. “Leveraging our custom software, and the logistics we’ve come to master in the past few years of operation, we will own the full experience for up to 125 employees, feeding them healthy, diverse and delicious meals every day.”
Munro and his team will run the day-to-day operations at Facebook’s onsite service facility, owning the complete process from start to finish. This service will commence September 27, 2021 where UpMeals will be the exclusive onsite food services provider to the Facebook Vancouver team.
Chat with us to discuss a curated solution for your team!
This is an internal announcement and is not for general media release or distribution.
From healthcare reimbursements to fitness challenges, many organizations are trying to find the best practices to boost their employees’ wellness. However, most wellness programs are still missing out on one key part: Nutrition. Healthy eating culture is a factor that can make or break your corporate wellness program. If you ask us, it’s one of the most crucial and overlooked ways to enhance employee wellness.
The regular working adult spends at least 8 hours a day at work (not including the commute). This is over half of the average person’s waking hours! This means that the health choices an employee makes at work will significantly affect their overall wellness.
As the saying goes:
“We are what we repeatedly do” – Aristotle
So let’s think of it this way:
Imagine a person who is normally fairly healthy when they are at home. They eat home-cooked, fresh meals, stay active by working out, and make sure they get enough sleep and sun. But the picture looks a little different at work. At work they’re sitting most of the day, taking few breaks to stretch or move around, have high stress levels, and their lunch options are limited to vending machine snacks.
If this imaginary person spends over half of their waking hours at work with the workday health habits we just described, would you consider them a healthy individual? Probably not.
Since most workers spend most of their waking hours at work, it’s imperative that companies provide wellness support. Such support goes a long way in maintaining a healthy and cooperative team, work satisfaction, and optimal productivity.
Proper nutrition is one of the basic pillars of optimal health. So it’s no question that it should be high on the list of priorities when creating a corporate wellness program. Let’s look into why focusing on nutrition is one of the most powerful ways to boost your corporate wellness program:
1. Diet has the strongest effect on health
Many corporate wellness programs focus on fitness, weight loss, and other general health indicators. That’s all great, but these efforts can be in vain if there is no focus on diet.
Of all health habits, diet is the most likely to influence general wellness. If you think fitness classes and intense workouts can balance out an unhealthy diet you may want to think again. A poor diet is about three times more detrimental to your health than a lack of physical activity.
The good news is that this also works the opposite way: Just improving your diet can boost your wellbeing and overall health. A healthy diet can reduce your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer! It will also boost your energy and make you more likely to feel motivated to engage in other healthy habits like regular exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction practices.
2. Healthy Eating Boosts Productivity
The food we eat affects the way our brains and bodies work. Reducing the intake of processed foods that are high in sugar and trans fats has significant effects on cognitive functions.
Numerous studies have shown that generalized symptoms that affect productivity, such as lack of energy, poor concentration, brain fog, and lack of motivation, can be significantly relieved through diet intervention alone.
Making an effort to encourage healthy eating and making it accessible in the workspace can largely boost employee productivity.
In an effort to understand and sum up the effects of healthy diet intervention in the workplace, this systematic review from the Perspectives in Public Health Journal analyzed multiple studies and publications regarding nutrition and productivity. Their findings showed that there is enough evidence to believe that a healthy diet does in fact improve productivity.
Unfortunately, the food that is easily accessible to many office workers is limited to high sugar, pre-packaged snacks (like those found in vending machines), or processed, hyper-palatable foods from fast-food chains or nearby restaurants that tend to be high in calories, processed fats, and refined carbohydrates.
3. Well rounded wellness efforts improve employee retention rates
Health and wellness initiatives in the workspace can significantly boost employee satisfaction! Employees with access to well-rounded wellness programs at work are more likely to recommend their place of work to others.
Providing access, or setting initiatives in place to encourage healthy eating can boost the results of other wellness strategies. By doing this companies can not only support productivity and work efficiency in their teams but can also ensure higher rates of employee satisfaction and morale.
A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health showed that companies that provided a good corporate wellness program experienced 6% less voluntary employee turnover.
Bottom line: Wanna keep your employees for longer? Keep them healthy!
4. Investing in healthy eating can save A LOT!
It’s easy to see healthy food or corporate wellness programs as an extra cost. But the truth is that these initiatives can actually save companies thousands of dollars in the long run.
Harvard researchers reported that organizations can save up to 6 dollars in medical costs, and health-related work absenteeism for every dollar they invest in wellness initiatives.
Let’s take a look at how these numbers add up:
An average corporate wellness program can cost a company around 8 dollars per employee every month.
Imagine a company with 100 employees. This company would spend 800 dollars a month ($9,600 a year). With this investment, this small company could be saving over $57,000 every year!
Now imagine what these numbers would look like for larger companies!
How much can companies save with healthy eating solutions?
There is a common misconception that healthy food options are more expensive. The truth is that companies are already spending thousands of dollars in the efforts to keep their teams fed.
For companies that rely on food delivery services, the cost of their meals can range between $20-$25 per person. For those who rely on traditional catering, this cost can be around $15-$20. All-encompassing wellness solutions can lower this cost significantly as service fees and other hidden costs can be avoided while focusing on quality food. Check out our UpMeals solutions to see how the cost compares to other means of feeding your team.